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‘I Can’t Face Being a Single Mum’

Dear Chump Lady,

I’ve been thinking about writing to you for months but I just haven’t been brave enough…

I found out in April 2020 that my husband was having an affair with a woman he worked with for 6 months. I think going into lockdown in March had driven him mad and not getting his morning sex session before work was driving him crazy, so much so that one evening he just splurted it out “I can’t do this any more”. I had to ask him directly if someone else was involved and he finally admitted it (I had asked on 2 or 3 other occasions over the previous 6 months and he always denied it).

We had such a perfect family life, I earn a very good income as a doctor and also do most of the childcare, school drop offs/pickups and after school activities taxi-ing for our two daughters aged 6&8. 3 months before his affair I arranged a special night away for his birthday, it took loads of planning and was a really lovely weekend just us without kids or any distractions, 2 months before his affair I arranged tickets to see a show (his interest, not mine) with a hotel stay to make a weekend of it and had a great time, 10 days before his affair we had just got back from an amazing family holiday in Thailand which I had organised and everything felt great…turns out he was developing feelings for some slutty brainless tart that he works with.

She is just vile, completely brainless and self-centred, she lives with her mum and has no responsibilities whatsoever. She spent a lot of time telling my husband how wonderful he was and he fell for it, throwing his beautiful caring, dedicated family away for some cheap tart and an easy lay.

He tells me that the affair happened, or “he was susceptible to an affair” because he didn’t feel loved by me, and that she made him feel valued and respected when I didn’t (I completely cannot see where this has come from but he insists this is the case). She basically told him lots of stuff that fed his ego and he thought that was worth throwing his family away for, plus the sex EVERY morning before work, and also at work in lunch breaks too made it appealing…no condoms either, thanks very much!

I threw him out straight away…felt desperate, did the pick me dance to exhaustion, and cried for him to come back. The night I threw him out he went to hers and (it would be funny if I wasn’t so devastated) she basically told him to go back to his wife because she wasn’t interested in an actual relationship with him…obviously he was only exciting and fun when he was “an affair with a married man”….he thought they would set up home and have babies together.

It took him a few months at his mums house to realise that he did want to be with me and had been an idiot to be taken in by her ego massaging, and he came back (though quite reluctantly and made a big song and dance about not wanting to give up his job, despite her sitting at the next desk!) I was so desperate for him to want me and to realise how good his life was before his stupid “mistake” that I took him back (but insisted he leave his job, which he did) but it is harder than I thought.

I tried to believe all that stuff about how your marriage can be better after an affair but I know there is no way on god’s earth that things could be better than when I adored my husband and thought that he put me and our family first…turns out he’s selfish and only looking out for himself.

He says he’s shown his regret by giving up the job that he loved, but I only see that as an essential part of even getting off the starting block in any desired reconciliation. He seems to think he’s balanced things nicely, he had an affair and broke my heart, so he gave up a job that he loved….that he only had to give up because he chose to shit on his doorstep by having an affair with a colleague.

How can you ever have a meaningful loving relationship with someone who has the ability to hurt you in this horrific way. I am changed as a person, I was always such a happy, bubbly person and now I’m always crying and grieving the life I had, that he and that cheap tart took away from me… and now she gets to carry on with her life with zero consequences and mine is ripped to pieces.

The only thing that was important to me was having a loving, close, perfect little family and now I’ll never have that. I suppose I’m finally writing to get a wake up call. I know I’ll never be happy with him because I value loyalty and respect so much and he has shown neither. I also look at him and think he is a pathetic fool to have fallen for her fake ego massaging, so much so that he lost his beautiful family for nothing but an easy lay. He has changed the course of my life forever and for absolutely nothing. I hate him for that.

I just can’t face coming to terms with being a single mum, having to pack their little suitcases for weekends at Daddy’s house. I just don’t want that awkward lifestyle of broken homes, it was bad enough working out when we would see different family at Christmases over the years with my husband’s parents being divorced, I didn’t want that for my girls. How do I view it in a positive enough light to step out of the comfort zone of what is essentially “ok”, having my adulterous husband back but knowing it will never be what it was, or moving into the very scary unknown of single parenting and all that my children will lose as a consequence of that. I also am worried that after taking him back and him putting in lots of effort with me and the kids, that I will now look like the ‘bad guy’ for sending daddy away.

Please help, I find your blogs so helpful but they haven’t quite got me to the point where I can “do it”. I need that! Please help, even if it’s a very brief kick up the backside!

DocMcChumpin’

Dear Doc,

I’ve got a couple bitchslaps for you. I’ll take them in the order in which I am most irritated.

1.) Single parents are not less than. And there is a history of deep misogyny against single mothers that makes my blood boil. Like, did you know in the 1960s in the U.S. that unwed motherhood was considered mental illness? And that if you were an unwed white pregnant woman, the American Academy of Pediatrics said the only remedy was to have your child surrendered and given to a “good home”? (Scoop baby era, Google it.) Oh! And that until the 1970s, the laws were such that you could not support a child as a single mom? Before Title IX, pregnant women couldn’t finish school, or stay at their jobs. Until the mid-70s, women could not have credit. Or job protections. And all this changed because the women’s movement fought for change.

My POINT is — this Horror of the Single Mother shit is wired DEEP. The loss of “status.” The systemic inequalities that continue to this day (Exhibit A — the BILLIONS in unpaid child support.) The scare tactics that the children of single mothers will grow up to be criminals and drug addicts. Every fucking David Brooks article.

To divorce a loser is to confront this tide of bigotry. Are children better off in intact homes? Yes. AND YOU ARE AN INTACT HOME. Minus one loser. Change the narrative! The more loving, invested people in a child’s life, the better. Would many of us like the gold standard of the Traditional Nuclear Family? Sure. And that wasn’t possible because… fuckwits.

To be chumped means never being smug again. You don’t CONTROL other people. You only control yourself and how you react to a given set of challenges. It is far more shameful to be a fuckwit, or to prop up a fuckwit and front a sham marriage, than it is to LEAVE a fuckwit.

I just can’t face coming to terms with being a single mum, having to pack their little suitcases for weekends at Daddy’s house. I just don’t want that awkward lifestyle of broken homes,

You’re writing to someone who led that “awkward lifestyle” for a decade.

Oh hey, this week my son just got a job promotion during a pandemic and was accepted to grad school. Packing his little suitcase going to Uncle Daddy’s didn’t thrill me as mother, but it also didn’t set my son back in life. Neither did my son have a “broken home.” He had a broken father. A deadbeat. The kind of guy who cancels his health insurance without a word and never calls on his birthday. A guy who struggles with mental illness. Who never paid a cent towards college.

I wish to God he’d had a better father. I failed him on choosing that guy, but my son would also not exist if it weren’t for that guy, and life is messy that way. I could not control my ex’s level of parental investment, but I could control MINE. All it takes is one sane parent. And many children don’t even get that. So be the SANE parent. You can’t be sane in your current situation. You sound miserable.

So, which would you rather be? A strong kickass woman who models strength and resiliency to her daughters? Or a fuckwit’s Plan B?

The only thing that was important to me was having a loving, close, perfect little family and now I’ll never have that.

Define “perfect.”

You can totally have a loving, close little family. If you think including a cheating husband makes it “perfect,” or ANY husband, you’ve got a problem.

That My Family Needs to Look Normal thing (see misogyny, single mother status bias above) is poison. I think a lot of what led to my brief, disastrous marriage to the serial cheater was this notion that I was Less Than as a single mom. And of course, parenting alone is hard work. And you wobble. Which is why it is ESSENTIAL to have your head screwed on straight about your self-worth as a single parent.

(Post-script, I married Mr. CL in midlife — who is a true parent to my son and a real partner to me — and that would never have been possible if I hadn’t LEFT people who didn’t value me. Going on 11 years… )

Next bitch slap.

2.) The Other Woman Didn’t Make Your Husband Cheat. Is she horrible and complicit? Vile, completely brainless and self-centered? Sure. She also doesn’t have superpowers. She could no more make your husband cheat than you can make him NOT cheat. He WANTED to cheat on you.

Not being able to accept that sentence — HE WANTED TO CHEAT ON YOU — is the hopium keeping you in this shitty arrangement.

Oh, he’s just a dumb man who was beguiled by a hussy. This is such a central myth to the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Gosh, if we only get rid of the Menace of Attractive Other People, we can Affair-Proof Our Marriages! Cue the marriage police.

No, he cheated because of entitlement. Because he wanted to. Because he did the cost-benefit analysis of your perfect, close, little family and his dick, and his dick won. Because THOSE ARE HIS VALUES.

You are now confronted with your own values. He’s not who you thought he was. Do you stick it out knowing that he’s capable of casual betrayal, or do you forge your own path?

I also am worried that after taking him back and him putting in lots of effort with me and the kids, that I will now look like the ‘bad guy’ for sending daddy away.

I read this that you’re worried that after burnishing his image, and helping him with that Invested, Loving Dad thing, you’ll have to let go and let him fail on his own.

Don’t own what’s not yours to own. You’re not the “bad guy.” Dad had a girlfriend, that’s why you’re divorcing. I believe in explaining it to children, without editorializing, in age-appropriate ways. CN can weigh in here.

It’s hard to project what you don’t feel. Do you really think you’re the bad guy? That this marriage failed because of you? Do you really think single mothers are less than?

Examine your values. Live your values.

He says he’s shown his regret by giving up the job that he loved,

He actually struggled with that choice? And you had to pick me dance with his desk?

You fear an awkward, broken lifestyle? You’re living it. Choose better.

Bitchslaps delivered.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • Daaaang Chump Lady (slow clap) this is some of your finest work!

      “Neither did my son have a “broken home.” He had a broken father.”

      “Bcause he did the cost-benefit analysis of your perfect, close, little family and his dick, and his dick won. Because THOSE ARE HIS VALUES.”

      This. All of this. Preach!!

    • PastorsWifeChumpNoMore, the David Brooks who cheated and lied and wrote books about character as if he had some? That David Brooks? The David Brooks who fucked his intern and wrote about marriage as if he wasn’t a cheating fuck? That David Brooks? He is a despicable cheater and liar. I hate him.

      • And I hope his fat little ego means he pays someone to Google his name every day and give him the results, and that these comments are what comes up from today!

        What a hypocritical asshole.

  • Of course you are scared, we all are before a major life change. At least you are financially secure since you have a great job. As you state in you’re letter you do most of the parenting anyway- so you have that one figured out as well. You are light years ahead of a lot of us chimps already. You will do amazing! Just take it one step at a time. One foot In front of the other. You have us all behind you. You can do this! ❤️❤️❤️

    • Thank you so much for this, Ny chump. This truth helps me and I hope it helps DocMcChumpin’ too!

      You’re a fantastic mom, Doc, and you will continue to be one when you’re single!

      My boys are the same age as your kids. My DDay was two months before our family was supposed to move overseas together. I chose to stay here, and fuckwit (who also cheated with a co-worker) chose his desk. He now lives thousands of miles from his kids. But I’ve figured out the single mom thing, with the help of nearby family and a good job that I wouldn’t have had if I’d pick-me-danced my way after fuckwit and his glorious career.

      He’s on his way home this summer and I’m going to have to come to terms with packing the little suitcases every other weekend. I feel your pain, but we won’t be the first ones to get through this and come out better on the other side. After years of practically being a full-time single parent anyways, I’m hoping to use kid-free time to focus on my work and learn better self care.

      You are one step ahead because you already know what you need to do. Trust yourself. It will be different, but as you get distance from fuckwit you will have more energy to focus on your kids. It’s been slow but I’m getting there. I honestly can’t imagine dealing with my husband’s crap on the daily, and still being a good and present mom. Just imagine how much more you will have to give to your kids when you’re not investing in planning elaborate weekends with a lost cause. Hope that helps.

      • Dear Doc

        Your marriage will never be okay because you cannot UNknow what you know. And your FW isn’t even remorseful, he sounds irritated that there were ANY consequences for HIM…

        And his ego will be insatiable because YOU dare to be successful and that takes away from him b/c in HIS world it’s a contest and since people admire YOU (and you earn money and get prestige for being a doctor) and blah blah blah – he’s a man/child and I’m sorry but from the way he describes the chronology and blame shifts, this WILL HAPPEN AGAIN.

        So you see, you are misreading your options.

        You think (HOPE) that Option 1 – is if you remain married to him, he’ll reform and someday way down the road, you’ll heal and things will be better. Not great but not horrible…

        Both ^^^premises are false.

        He will NOT reform for long and in my opinion, he will either leave you for OW, or cheat again, get caught and practically dare you to file for divorce. Then you’ll have invested more years in this and it’ll cost you more money and your daughters will have witnessed and endured your betrayal and feel their own.

        OPTION #2 is you being a single mum, and therefore unloved, lonely, frumpy and stressed all the time…

        This^^ is a LIE. Reject it. You control how YOUR LIFE goes and the reality is you’re already a single mom with a selfish part time co-parent. That is what you have now and it will probably IMPROVE with divorce since he’d actually have one on one time with the girls.

        Will he remarry or hook up fast? YES but he’s going to do that anyhow. At least this way, you’re free to live an authentic life.

        AND you know what, being single can be damn rewarding, which I’m discovering now for the first time in my life.

        AND you might even meet a real man who you partner with and then MODEL FOR YOUR DAUGHTERS what a healthy relationship looks like.

        If you stay with this dishonest soul sucking man/child, you will be showing your girls very destructive patterns. That’s not good for THEM.

        I mistakenly believed that staying with THE DOCTOR was best for the kids.

        THIS^^ is my biggest regret. (I wish I’d LEFT him for the kids and saved myself a decade of life.)

        Your true choice is staying and feeling endless pain AND for a lost cause (because the marriage you are in is on life support as it is)

        versus surgically removing the cancer known as your husband, and beginning to recover from a blow to the heart.

        Like all of us, your girls will someday face a setback and betrayal of their own. A ruthless co-worker or boyfriend or classmate WILL betray or reject them, and they will be deeply hurt.

        And they will look to YOU for guidance on how to navigate and recover from the pain.

        Model for them what a woman of strength, self respect and dignity does in the face of heartbreaking betrayal.

        She picks herself up, dusts herself off, learns, and SHE HEALS.

        She creates a life of peace, harmony, healthy boundaries and REAL LOVE WILL SURROUND HER.

        Teach your daughters ^^^ ^THIS.

        And keep us posted. You can do this and it’s the only way for you to be happy in the long run.

        • Thank you, you are so right! He had serious issues with me having a well respected job which earns more than him, it was never even something that crossed my mind…we were a team…it wasn’t a competition…clearly I was wrong!!

          I keep thinking maybe he didn’t realise how awful this would be for me whilst he was screwing the AP, he even said he didn’t think I’d be THIS upset, because it happens in lots of relationships so it “isn’t as big as you are making out”. I wondered if seeing my heart literally break in front of him would be enough to stop him ever doing this again…I suppose I need to accept the truth…no it wouldn’t!!!

          • Doc – I know it’s difficult now but I was in the same situation as you. I didn’t want me kids to live in two homes and I didn’t know how I’d do it by myself. I thought if I could be perfect he’d see my worth. After trying pick me dancing for another year behind the first D Day, I found out he had been cheating on me for another year. I had done everything I could like keeping a spotless house, all the errands, working a full time job where I made more than him, planning special weekends away, over the top birthday parties, you name it. I was told that I didn’t make him feel wanted. I kicked him out and filed for divorce. My kids now have a mother who models what boundaries are and are very proud.

            It will be difficult but living with someone who doesn’t value you and allowing them to chip away at your self worth, is abuse. Your children need to see that you value yourself and that shows them that you value them by modeling a healthy relationship with yourself. Honestly single parenting is so much easier than parenting with someone who constantly needed parenting himself.

            You can do this!

          • He doesn’t know how bad being cheated on would be for you because he has no empathy.

            NO EMPATHY. This is not about him not understanding why you don’t like pickles. It’s not understanding that cheating and lying hurts the other person. There are toddlers with more empathy than this. My cats have more empathy than this.

            • We’ve had this exact same discussion…me trying to explain that he doesn’t have empathy, him agreeing that he finds empathy a difficult “skill”….surely it’s just being a normal human being…understanding that when you break your spouse’s heart, it really hurts…he read up about empathy (for about half an hour), and decided it wasn’t a skill he could learn….I’m chasing my tail trying to make him into an empathetic person..:it’s not going to happen is it?!

              • Honey, everyone is this board has been in your shoes. It’s scary, but my dear – he has left you no choice. You’re never going to get over it and it appears that he doesn’t really care about the marriage and I doubt he’ll ever stop cheating.

                Let me give you a more frightening scenario than leaving and being scared of that “single mom” stigma – imagine yourself 5 years from now and you discover more rendezvous, sexting, etc. Now ask yourself, would you be wishing that you were strong enough to leave his sorry ass 5 years before? That you wasted another 5 years of your youth and beauty when you could have been looking for Mr. Right?

                I will tell you this with 1000% certainty- he will cheat again in and blame the tart and you… again. This is an unfixable situation and it’s NOT YOUR FAULT! He did this.

                I left with small children years ago and am currently remarried to an amazing man and father (he’s a chump, too).

                It’s the intact family dream that you can’t let go of. You promised yourself you’d have that perfect family. We all did, I get it. You are literally preaching to a choir of quality, faithful spouses who were also done dirty.

                I now view chump single mothers as bad asses with hero capes. And now, women who stay with losers who disrespect and cheat on them to keep up appearances just seem so pathetic and weak to me. Stepford wives vibes.

                Listen, you’re a freaking doctor with her shit together – men will be lined up around the block dear. GOOD men.. with honor… who deserve you.

                He’s pretty much forced your hand here, the only logical option is to leave. I honestly think he’s sabotaging because he wants out. Or, you can stay on the crazy train and waste your life being miserable with an idiot who values desks more than you.
                He doesn’t give a shit about you or your beautiful children.

                It’s like waking up in a horror movie.

                A good analogy I use to describe this scenario is this: You and your husband are in a life boat. You’re
                the one paddling your little heart out for shore and he’s drilling holes in the boat. He’s just not marriage material.

                I can’t tell you what to do, but it gets better if you leave. I know first hand. You’re at a crossroads. The hard way and the right way are usually the same way.

              • He said “empathy is a difficult skill” for him??? That’s like saying kindness and compassion for others aren’t his “strong suit…”

                No, lacking empathy is a severe character defect and it’s often the hallmark of a personality disorder.

                I know that’s tough to hear now b/c you are in the early stages of seeing who he now is (not important FOR NOW whether he was always this way — AND OR if you enabled his sense of entitlement to enlarge into a malignant form by doing all the heavy lifting to meet his endless and undisclosed need for appreciation).

                But he’s bad news.

                I think it was Maya Angalou who said “when people show you who they really are, BELIEVE them.”

                Your husband’s admission is one of those times – and lacking empathy means he will NOT “get it” and he will NOT “wake up” to value you after all the things you’ve done and continue to do for him and your family,

                b/c that requires EMPATHY and he lacks it!

                Even now his regrets are NOT about hurting you, the regrets are about what HE would have lost by staying with the other woman.

                And his refusal to separate the finances with the “threats” of not joining you on trips HE cannot afford, are brazen attempts to manipulate you AND indicates an utter unwillingness to REGAIN your trust and reduce the insecurity ANY woman would feel in your position. He’s done nothing to reassure you (quitting the job is such a basic minimal requirement I cannot muster up an attaboy for that)

                He complains about quitting the job – amazing. That’s another example of him showing you who he really is. BELIEVE HIM.

                That’s not remorse. And it’s definitely not an indicator of someone trying to change.

                He needs your income, the stability you provide and whatever cover he needs to show “HE TRIED” before he cheats again. Even if he hasn’t consciously decided to repeat the behavior, his attempt to justify the affair says there’s no reason for HIM to change. It wasn’t a shitty thing HE did! After all, HE felt neglected (and that’s on YOU.)

                See, according to HIM, IF HE ever feels bad/sad/needy/underappreciated again (OR is just SELFISH AS SHIT AND THEN NEEDS TO JUSTIFY IT) HE CAN…and therefore, he will.

                He can cheat and blame you AGAIN…

                I do believe in 2nd chances for some types of these events (a one night stand, for instance).

                But this was over a LONG TIME, which means a lot of deceit and planning went into it, then no regrets after the hook ups but instead, repeating them, and then HE CHOSE OW (ouch)

                and only return when he was rejected AND then homeless…

                Look, I know how badly this feels. Been there, done that.

                I put in 35 years (the DOCTOR began medical school when our son was 8 weeks old), then all the years of training and finally when the big brass ring of money comes

                and there goes the FW – Dr. Narkles…hiding money and cheating.

                Has not seen our kids in over 4 years. Moved cross the country. Married OW asap…now helps raise HER daughter…and brages to the one child he still speaks to, that HE loves his NEW FAMILY and is SO HAPPY (and also in family therapy)

                Naturally I ask myself “HOW could he want to discard ALL of us?? How can he not miss us?? We had so much history and such a deep connection” (or so I thought).

                And I often believe he regrets it because only a lunatic wouldn’t — BUT guess what?

                If he felt remorse AND then REALLY changed meaningfully – we’d be the first to know.

                But No.

                He is bitter and angry AT ME – for “fucking HIM over” in the divorce which is so deranged I can’t see it as a response of a healthy man. It’s crazy talk and disconnected from reality.

                He blames ME for his shitty relationships with the adult kids (never mind not attending our daughter’s college graduation – which he stopped paying for- which is probably why he avoided it. Someone might look at him in a way that makes HIM uncomfortable because…consequences…)

                — image management dictates most of his decisions.

                DOC, you know there’s no painless option here– yet we are all – ALL – saying the only road to true long term happiness

                available to you AND your girls now, is leaving this man/child and starting your new authentic life.

                First, b/c staying would be soul sucking for you, and no one wants to be the marriage police, and second, b/c he’s so likely to repeat the behavior that the marriage will end ANYHOW, but you’ll have sunk even more costs into a lost and painful cause.

                5 years ago I would have described my marriage as a work in progress but I thought we’d last. I felt we had made it through the storm (as HE said…) and I loved him deeply. I was loyal and funny and smart and a great fucking teammate but what I didn’t know is that I was never going to get a “turn” in my life. I would always play a supporting role to whatever HE wanted to do, even if he did it alone (or at least not with me).

                NOW – without the pain of rejection coloring so much of how I viewed things – I realize how much more of the load I was carrying emotionally and for our children and I see NOW how badly treated I was – and how damaged my self esteem was….AND worse, I see now what my children were seeing then.

                Ugh.

                My ex created chaos in our family every 2-3 years and was always moving the goal post of what would satisfy HIM. Endlessly restless. And at some level it’s really hard not to take that personally. Because it’s essentially saying we were not enough for him.
                I swear that life without that crazy making gaslighting crap IS FAR better than I could have predicted.

                Your life without this man/child will have less pain and more joy and peace than you can see now. You’re in the shitstorm at the moment so you can’t see that, but trust us.

                And I’m not even mentioning the fact that you are MORE LIKELY to have authentic love in your life without this guy, b/c you don’t “need” a man to make you happy.

                But the reality is, you’ll never have a real man to love and be loved by, with the man you are presently married to.

                Keep us posted

          • What you thought and felt never entered the equation for him unless it was to * make you pay* for making him feel inferior. They will never take responsibility for their own thoughts, emotions or actions. It is so hard to accept. He doesn’t care for you, for the girls, at least not enough to put you all first. And you and the girls deserve to be your partner’s priority. People who care just don’t DO shit like that. It’s all about him and his entitlement.

          • You are right there. I thought once he saw how devastated I was, he wouldn’t do it again, but he did, knowing how much it hurt me. Cheaters cheat because that’s who they are, and they don’t stop.

          • I married young, to a man who had little ambition and settled for keeping the same job without advancement for his entire career. In my mid twenties I realized that he had no ambition, and that I would have to be the ambitious one. So I went to grad school and advanced my career. I ended up earning twice what he did.

            But my then- husband would make little passive aggressive cracks about how much more I made. So instead of enjoying my income, I paid for the cars, the down payments on houses, the home improvements and simply invested the rest. I did not buy nice clothes or fancy cars. I did not want to injure my ex’s fragile ego. I thought I was being a good wife and we would enjoy an awesome retirement together.

            My ex retired 5 years before I did. I worked full time to cover his health insurance. We sold our big house and bought a small farm to retire in. We used the proceeds from selling the big house to buy a small apartment building for an extra retirement income stream. While I worked 12 hour shifts at the hospital, and had an hour commute each way, my ex started an affair.

            I discovered his affair after 42 years of marriage. Whose retirement was at risk? Mine. The attorney told me he was be entitled to alimony and half of my retirement accounts, as well as half of our property. So I worked hard through the marriage, did all the work and saved, and he profits. I ended up giving him the apartment building in exchange for my keeping the farm and my retirement accounts. The apartment building had doubled in value in the 5 years we owned it.

            It was a very bitter pill to swallow. I work, I save, I invest through 42 years, I do not enjoy the fruits of my labor to protect his ego, and his lazy cheating ass profits. He still walked away from our marriage with more than $1 million in assets.

            Do not let this happen to you.

            • Whyyyyyyyyyy. Even in my no-fault state, adultry was grounds for an at-fault divorce. With NO alimony! So mad for you!!! But! You are FW free. On your little farm.

          • This is where you have to realize that you have different morals and values.

            You cherish honesty, monogamy, respect. You assumed that he did as well.

            The fact that he is shocked by how upset you are, snd that he feels it’s not really that big a deal – tells you what kind of person HE is.

            Shallow, self serving and probably a healthy dose of narcissism to top it all off.

            You cannot change how he feels, control what he does or make him love you.

            There is literally nothing to work with. You will be so much happier without this man child in your life ( ask me how I know )!

          • You. Are. Strong.
            You. Are. Capable.
            You. Are. Whole.
            You. Are. Kind.
            You. Are. Capable.
            You. Are. Going. To. Thrive.

            I was where you are, three years ago. I justified staying because “of the family”. This is, ahem, TOTAL BULLSHIT.

            CL said it clearest and best:
            HE WANTED TO CHEAT ON YOU. Period. HE WANTED TO CHEAT ON YOU. He will accept no responsibility for his cheating because HE WANTED TO CHEAT ON YOU.

            Our experience is borne of sadness, heartbreak and questioning. It just sucks. But, on the other side of taking the first step is the freedom that you won’t be someone’s police officer, a recipient of frequent STI screenings and an insomniac due to dings from a phone in the middle of the night. The relationship is already gone; your mental, emotional and physical health just aren’t worth following the vapor trails.

            Real talk? Is single parenting hard? Yep. Is being duped by your spouse hard? Yep. Is knowing you were devalued hard? Yep. Is knowing you are losing “the dream” hard? Yep. But so too is being the consolation prize, the second choice, the “one who stayed because she was afraid”. Do you like how that sounds in your head? Right–so why would you stay with someone who is already gone? Because of fear or what other people think? Who the fuck are they anyway? (big breath in before head explodes in the irony of this diatribe to myself!!)

            You are already a badass. You went through undergraduate school. You went to medical school. You are a DOCTOR. If your patient came in and explained your situation to you, what would you advise? Right–physician heal thyself.

            Look, she rejected him because she didn’t want the hard part of being in a “grown up” relationship. You should follow her lead–he isn’t a grown up, so you can’t be in an “grown up” relationship. How’s that for a rebuttal to his royal-ass-ness? LOL.

            So, where does this leave you? Repeat with me: you are lovely and kind and capable. (I have said this mantra every God-damned day since D-Day #3. Still, now, when he calls and “needs” something: I remember the words I “forced” him to say: “I had an affair. Again.”) Breathe in. Mantra out.

            Oh, and if you are still concerned about what “the neighbors” think–fuck those people if they aren’t helping you with your kids and holding your hand on the porch and plying you with iced tea and bourbon. Hold your head high and face forward. It is the ONLY way to go.

            You are lovely.
            You are kind.
            You are capable.
            That is enough.

            • Thank you. I really do hope I am capable enough to get through this and come out the other side feeling happy and have a better life…it’s hard to imagine that’s possible when I loved my previous life so much…and until the badness became reality, I didn’t have any reason to doubt that I was living my dream.
              But you’re right… I’m following vapour trails.
              I have moments of clarity where I see it for exactly what it is/was and know that I deserve better, but then I think about happy memories that I have had and just want all of that back again.

              Does it ever get less painful thinking about the happy moments from the past, because at the moment, every memory of my children when he has been there is just too painful to think about. It makes me think “that’s when he loved us and our family and we were enough for him”. I hate that I can’t bring myself to think of the past and the wonderful memories of my kids growing up because it just hurts too much.

              • I think it does get less painful.

                It did for me, and now I can think of many of the good times. What I did for many years was to remember the times sans him. Now that I am old, I can remember him some; but mostly I still just concentrate on my own memories with out son.

                The reality is, I know that he lost so much more than I did. I think that is true for most cheaters. Many will never admit it out loud, but they know. That alone takes away much of their true happiness. They can like to the world, but they know. We know.

      • I sure wish I’d found out a couple of months before our move, rather than a couple of months after. I’d have the kids full time, in a house that I loved in a part of the country that I love, doing a job that I loved, near my parents. And since XW would undoubtedly have proceeded with the move, she’d be 1000 miles away.

        • I’m so sorry. I hope you are alright and have/soon recover a sense of being happy and stable in where you are and what you’re doing.

          I got chumped weeks after a move – no kids, and not as big a move as you, but it absolutely devastated me. But I stayed in the new city and came to really love it, met great people including a lovely new partner. I so, so wish all these things for you, you will honestly not feel awful forever.

  • Oh Doc. Like you my Cheater cheated and I was so desperate to keep him and scared of being a single mother that I stayed. Im also a nurse and people like us tend to do too much accomodating.

    So I “won” the pick-me dance (there was some deal-breaker that he and Susan of Seattle hit which I was never informed of…I dont delude myself into thinking it was love for me that brought him back) and we stayed married for the 7 years between his affair (and nearly 2 year abandonment) and his death.

    I too was afraid of single motherhood and the effect on my kids.
    It was a huge mistake.

    My now adult children have nary a healthy relationship among them. My 31 year old called me the other day to ask me how it was that I knew that I was in an abusive marriage. He at first told me that he was helping a friend who was in that situation but I discerned during the conversation that he was beginning to play the role of the OM in that woman’s marriage. I gave him the chump wisdom of getting the hell out of that situation.

    You will read much advise here about how to rebuild your new life. One of the best parts is that freedom from an abusive fuckwit opens your possibilities to live a full, authentic meaningful life (instead of the fakey one he weaseled from you.

    Like you, I was a good, supportive wife who made overtures of love and was still blamed for the affair. He told me that his OW “picked his heart up from the middle of the street where it had been abandoned” …comments like that are so painful that we miss them for what they can be to us….absolute, sure-fire signs that nothing we could have done would have changed their decision to cheat.

    He sucks and now you know it. I stayed in hopium-filled denial, buried him with honors then found the ugly truths in his stuff. I actually found something he wrote that said “I never loved my wife”. That would have been more soul-killing if I still cared what he thought, but I dont.

    Life is short…too damn short to live with a person who you know can and did treat you with such treachery.

    • Yes, throwing pearls to swine. Swine don’t appreciate pearls. You can make them a gourmet meal every night, rent a ballroom for their birthday, massage their feet every night. But pigs is pigs.

    • I even started thinking maybe I could have been better, maybe I could have done more to show him how loved he was. I’ve spent so long trying to point out all the things that I did that should have shown him he was loved but he always has a reason why that wasn’t enough…it makes me realise nothing would have been enough…he wanted his ego massaged…she was willing to do it, and had plenty of spare time and no responsibilities so was able to dedicate a lot of time to telling him how wonderful he was!

      I tried so hard with the time and resources that I had…I still keep thinking maybe if I’d done more…but that doesn’t change that it happened, and that he was prepared to knowingly hurt me like this and break our family apart

      • You don’t need to flatter and cajole a good man constantly. And you can have down days and miserable moods around a good man and he will not love you any less.

      • It really isn’t all about the fact that she was flattering him and massaging his ego. She might have done that…yes….but the kicker here is that what he really enjoyed even more than that was the secrecy, the mystery, the lies, the deceiving of you. Coming home from work and pretending all was fine, for months. But inside he is revelling in the fact that he is having sex every morning before work and during lunch too, and fooling you!!!! You trust him and don’t have a clue!! That is a conscious choice he made and that was what he enjoyed most! It could have been any hoe bag that was willing, she didn’t matter, the part he was really enjoying was the secret part!
        He will do this again, maybe in a few months, maybe a year but guaranteed he will repeat when he gets bored again with being just a regular guy….you are just delaying the consequences for him until he figures you trust him even a little bit and then he will take the next willing participant on!

        • I agree.
          “ massaging my ego” is a short version of – anyone but you.
          The crazy part is- that most of the chumps did WAY MORE than an average person…. yet it was never enough.
          In my case my exh said ( in a dreamy voice, one step away from crying…
          “ I don’t know, I just don’t feel loved by you, there is no attention and that special connection… look, last week, during karate class, I haven’t noticed that there is a tiny piece of thread on my shirt. The woman sitting next to me saw it snd remove it- it felt good- being noticed snd taken care of.

          I’m not joking.

          The guy was so emotional about such a stupid, trivial action.

          Yet- when his crying pregnant wife was breaking apart ( after finding his dating profile and stash of nude pics on his laptop) he told me to stop being so dramatic and went to bed.

          It’s pointless to ever try to understand it.
          After reading all the Simon’s books- I stopped dancing, explaining and started living MY life.

          • Georgia, I think we have the same ex.

            Pity party king, but cruel af to me.

            I blame my mother in law for this behavior, too. She was always in his ear plotting and coyly suggesting I didn’t care or do things right.

            It’s crazy that we pampered and indulged these pity parties. Your piece of thread story made me chuckle, like wtf. It’s literally insane. It makes me laugh to think back now. It’s so laughable now.

        • “You trust him and don’t have a clue!! ”

          Exactly, I am not sure I would have ever believed that statement had I not experienced it first hand.

          About two months before Dday, we were at a fall festival that the city puts on. A woman had come up behind him and put her hand over his eyes and did the guess who shit while hanging off his back. Me and the preacher were there. He did have the decency to act embarrassed, and kind of shook her off. But a few minutes later in the park office, my friend and I went in to talk to him and my friend made a comment about the hanging whore, and he said “Susie wouldn’t believe I was cheating unless I told her myself” He had a weird grin on his face. I was of course starting to suspect, but I played it straight and said “of course not I trust you” I guess I was still hoping I was wrong. But, on Dday I remembered the look on his face, he was loving it.

      • Oh, make no mistake, he knows good and he was loved, it’s just better for them if they can make you feel like their cheating was all your fault. And that is absolutely unforgivable. Instead of owning up and apologizing, trying to do anything they can do to soothe your anguish – he blames you. It’s adding insult to injury. This is who is he, and who he will always be.

        Leave him. We all regret sticking around for the next one.

      • During the “Pick Me Dance” stage after learning of his betrayal with Susan (who he claimed was a colleague he was mentoring but in real life, he was a government purchase agent and she worked for company trying to gain a government contract) he said to me “what men really want is to be admired”….even though I was as weak as jello during that time, in a rare moment, I called him on it by responding “the first step to being admired is to act admirably”.

        I was much later able to admit to myself that in a classic Cluster B manner, he had (for YEARS) blamed any and all of life’s inconveniences on me and this coping mechanism was so deeply ingrained in him that there is no way in Hell we could or would ever have a healthy relationship.

        And yet, I spun around for a number of years trying to understand “if I was so horrible, why didnt he just leave and if I was good enough to be with, why did he tell me he was divorcing me because I was such a horrible wife”.

        (Just before I learned of is cheating, he sat me down and told me he would soon be divorcing me because I was a bad wife – then he gave me a 2 hour list of my failings. The items at the beginning of the list contradicted the items at the end. He asked if he could stay until random event and I begged him to {hoping to change his mind} )

        The above dynamic puzzled me intensely for years, literally….until I read CLs theory of cake. He loved cake…loved the have the best of numerous worlds and was willing to inflict abject pain and cruelty on me to maintain it.

  • Doc,

    There are worse things than being a single parent; one of them is bringing children up in an atmosphere toxified by the persistent presence of a cheater who refuses to accept responsibility, refuses to change, consistently lies and blameshifts and always puts their needs first. This is bad for the kids and it’s bad for you too.

    I set out on my”single parent” journey nearly 6 years ago when our kids were 11, 16 and 18 …. I won’t pretend that it was easy, but they are now 24, 21 and 17 and in a much better place as a result of my determination to create a safe and nurturing – and cheater free – space for them. And I’m in a much better place too, now that I don’t have to deal with my Ex-Wife’s BS on a minute by minute basis.

    Not only can you do it, you should do it; you owe it to yourself and you owe it to your kids.

    LFTT

    • …but I long for those days before D-day where it wasn’t toxic, and I was plodding along in ignorant bliss!

      It’s pretty toxic now, and I get that it’s not good for the girls…they just want their family back…they know Daddy had a girlfriend and that hurt mummy, but my 6 year old said the other day, “mummy why don’t you just forget about it”…that’s hard to explain to a 6 year old why it’s so difficult!

      • Doc,

        This may be hard to accept, but you are longing for something that was a mirage. I’d also add that ignorant bliss is not a long term strategy; much better to be fully informed and to make decisions about your future and your kids’ future on that basis.

        As you might guess, I don’t buy into the “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” or “let’s just pretend that didn’t happen” schools of thought. I get that your girls just want their family back at the moment, but it might help you to know that my 3 kids (admittedly slightly older and a little further on in their journey) are so much happier now than they ever were than when their mother lived with us.

        My eldest daughter told me “never take her back on our account and remember that you can do – and deserve – so much better than her.”

        LFTT

        • Ignorant bliss gives cheaters a chance to hide asserts, delete incriminating evidence that would maybe allow you not to support his sorry ass with alimony, clean out the retirement accounts and the savings and make plans and an exit strategy that leaves you blindsided. It does not make good sense to wallow in misery and let them make off with your life savings. Lawyer up ASAP.

      • I just wanted to say that I hear you. This isn’t what you wanted. He promised you a lot of things but he has an integrity issue. He can no longer be the man you thought you married. You can no longer unsee what he has done. You need to get mighty now and fall apart after the divorce. Get statements,find lawyers, get a paper trail of affairs and document him not being there for you and your girls. If you feel like falling apart at moments, get a counselor or great friend to talk to until the divorce is 100% for you and your girls. We know this is the messy middle for you, we have all been there and we are standing right beside you all the way! Don’t let your despair at the moment make you second guess what is best for you and your girls. All my love xo SweetChumpgirl

  • In the Olden Days, pre-Internet and smart phones (or stupid phones, depending on how you use them) the cheated-on were alone in the quicksand, drowning in the cognitive maelstrom of feelings and thoughts and cheater propaganda, trying to sort out and organize and decide and discern and figure out and solve and make sense of. Kind of like herding greased pigs on the sinking Titanic during a Cat 10 hurricane on a planet being pummeled by asteroids.

    They all do and say the same exact shit. It never fails to blow my mind. And how lucky we are to swap stories here.

    And we can respond in kind. The cheated on can learn to do and say our own exact same shit, thanks to this blog.

    This is the playbook that has been necessary since the first cheater uttered bullshit at the Dawn of Time.

    #feelinggrateful

    I woke up warm and dry with my heater on and food in the fridge and money in the bank and my daughter’s love and trust and respect. Whatever he woke up with I wouldn’t want if you paid me. Despite the shit show, I have an extensive gratitude list I think of each morning. No cheater fake traitor Benedict Arnold “husband”.

    I did no power no heat in the winter with flooding when my daughter was a baby. Sending prayers to Texans.

    ❤️

    • Mother Nature has given us two of many things in case something happens to one of them.

      No creature on earth is as vulnerable as long as a human baby. It’s great to have two parents, but if something happens, one is more than enough. And if one is a soul-sucking cheater, you are already a single parent.

      The good dads were at the school Dad Pizza Party. Benedict Arnold told us he was on a business trip in LA but I later found out he was really in a hotel room with the Craigslist cockroach 40 minutes away. (To be fair, it’s possible that there were cheater dads at the school dad pizza party, but the odds are low; it’s be a great excuse to duck out for a hookup).

      In leaving and divorcing, I am not changing anything or doing something new. I’m just acknowledging what already is and bringing it out into the light of day.

      • , I am not changing anything or doing something new. I’m just acknowledging what already is and bringing it out into the light of day.

        I have memorize that and repeat as my new mantra (each morning!)

    • “They all do and say the same exact shit. ”

      It was a long time before I became aware of that. In fact years, I was/am fortunate that I went on to have a good life, but it was also good to finally find out how common in their behaviors these cheater really are.

  • Wow. This was a good one!

    The main reason I started reading chumplady is her ability to slice through the feelings-fed fog that chumps burden themselves with with logic and clarity.

  • I left my first husband – not a cheater but abusive other ways – when my two kids were small, because I didn’t want them growing up to think that’s what a marriage looked like. “They go to what they know,” is what I always hear about kids when they grow up looking for relationships like the ones modeled for them as children.

    I was a single mother for most of their lives (FW cheater STBX did nothing to help by the time we married), we called ourselves the “Three Musketeers.” My now adult children are extremely well adjusted, employed college graduates. They are wonderful people and we are very close.

    I made a decision that whatever their father was to me, he was their father and they needed him, and they would make their own relationship with him, without editorialization from me. And so they have.

    Doc, you can do this too! I found a lot of other Moms, who helped like crazy. It takes a village but your relationship with your girls and yourself will be so much better for it! Think of FW like a malignancy that you have to excise in order for the body to continue to thrive.

    • This.

      I didn’t want my kids to think that they could take the same kind of crap from their partners that I was taking from mine. Or that they could give the same kind of crap to their partners that my ex was giving to me. I love my kids dearly, I want them to love themselves just as much, and the most powerful way for this to happen is for me to model loving myself.

      3.5 years later and 50/50 split and, not gonna lie, the sending them off to their dad’s hasn’t gotten easier. But the grief hasn’t been my demise. Humans have the potential to be remarkably resilient to change. I am dating a man who loves my kids (and they him) and who is a really good influence on me and thus on my family.

      You can do this.

      • Yes this is a big thing for me…making sure they see a good example of how to react to being treated so poorly…but then I think maybe I should show them forgiveness…it just feels too big, I don’t think I ever could

        • Forgiveness. You can divorce the cheater and still forgive him. Forgiveness is letting go of the emotional burden of rage, anger, heartbreak, and grief as you process those emotions. Forgiveness doesn’t mean signing up for more abuse or tolerating a relationship with no reciprocity. You can show your kids how to “forgive” someone who hurts them by setting boundaries. You don’t want to teach them to go back for more abuse. First protect yourself, your kids, your income, your health. And then treat your hopefully STBXH with courtesy. Don’t badmouth him to the kids, although definitely tell them “Daddy had a girlfriend and married people can’t do that.” Teach the kids that trust must be first earned but that it is fragile. Once broken, sometimes it can’t be repaired. Teach them to value themselves as much as they love other people. (“Love your neighbor as you love yourself” requires us to love our selves and value our lives.)

          Don’t get lost in the weeds. Your kids will take their cues from you ability to protect yourself from abuse while at the same time behaving with dignity and decency.

        • OMG I did the same “don’t let false pride stop you from forgiving”

          But that’s overlooking what self respect and boundaries look like (let alone enforcing them).

          AND unfortunately your FW is not truly remorseful. (Read CL’s pieces on what true remorse looks like) and BTW, your 6 year old asking you to forget it are NOT words a 6 year old comes up with.

          That’s called manipulation 101 and it’s yet another red flag of how UNLIKELY your husband is to change.

          Do you want to be the marriage police the rest of your life?

          Always wondering what the hell he’s doing when he’s “traveling for work” or working late or going to play poker with the guys, AND if you dare to doubt him, he’ll turn the tables on how UNTRUSTING YOU are as if distrust fell on your head.

          He’s too needy and selfish and even now, he’s justifying his shitty treatment of you.

          Most FW’s do less than he is to repair the damage, and most women are not the higher income earners.

          So as hard as it is to face, the good news is that you are in a much better position to survive AND thrive after this, than you seem to realize (and better off than 97% of women in the world).

          That may not help with the tremendous ego blow this is – and that’s part of what I relate to. One of the reasons I did not doubt my ex was b/c – frankly, I felt my devotion and loyalty were obvious after 3 kids and decades of marriage and numerous moves FOR HIS career.

          I’m smart, attractive, hilarious and we had a tremendous backstory (putting ourselves thru school, rasing the kids, military service, deployments, etc)

          So I really did not believe he would cheat on me. (After all, I had had many opportunities to cheat but I didn’t, so why would he??)

          But I was wrong. And it took me nearly 3 years to finally realize DOWN AT A CELLULAR LEVEL that his choices had little to nothing to do with ME.

          My ex brags (weirdly) to our youngest child – the only one who speaks to him – that he’s in “family therapy” with HIS NEW family now.

          That hurts my child b/c it makes her feel that we were his “practice family” and not worthy of his effort, whereas I realize all is not well in paradise. Not that it matters, his misery/happiness is NOT related to mine.

          But it validates how irrelevant I was to his choices. I won’t say he “never loved me” and I think he loves our kids in his limited way.

          But my ex is selfish and was at best, dishonest with me for YEARS…and that’s a big fucking deal.

          And your husband has done the same and it’s not even in a hard time – your kids are young and so are you. There’s no “mid life” crisis BS to deal with.

          He cheated on you, and then mostly blamed you for it and now wants you to “get over it.” He’s likely telling the kids that’s what YOU ought to do…

          *And In medical terms, I would call this is a terminal prognosis. **

          Here’s what my son told me when I realized that my wasband was flaunting his “new LOVE OF HIS LIFE!!!” on facebook to justify breaking up our family and 35 year marriage –3 weeks after we had separated and before I realized the depth of his deceit

          (b/c I must tell you – that was some seriously painful humiliating shit)

          and he said “Mom, you are around the corner from so much more happinesss than you’d have with dad. Say good riddance to lunacy.”

          Best thing he ever told me – and to you I say – the same.

          Cut your losses and begin the healing. Don’t fret too much about what a 6 year old says to you – they don’t want to see their worlds change.

          Reassure them of what will remain the same “still see daddy” and “still live with me” and still play with your friends/stay in school” (or whatever can remain the same) and stress what will NOT change for them.

          And that they are loved by both parents.

          The rest of your man/child’s behavior is too much for them to handle now but they’re watching YOU so they can feel safe.

          Be the sane parent.

          I promise you that there will be a day you are glad you cut your losses and there will be a day when you find yourself feeling a peace you simply cannot know with the man/child you are married to now.

          I am very sorry. I know it sucks.

          But damn, if I had a time machine, I’d go back and cut my ex loose at least a decade earlier than I did. That’s a shitty regret to have in life.

          Life is short enough as it is.

          Make the most of your precious time on earth and keep us posted. Seriously.

          • Thank you for this…and the empathy post. You make it all seem so clear by setting out everything that I already tell myself but am to scared to believe. It’s amazing how much truth everyone is able to see…(that I know but am not allowing myself to believe)…with such a brief explanation of my situation…I guess so much of the behaviours are just textbook so it’s easy to see it, as an outsider looking in…so much harder to believe it when I’m stuck in the epicentre…but when I’m honest with myself, I know you are all correct!

            • Sometimes writing it out in black and white helps me to acknowledge how bad it actually was. I think my first realization that my reality sucked was when I had to explain the unvarnished truth to my first therapist. You see, I had not discussed my situation with anyone, not friends coworkers or family lest they judge. And I was loyal, though he did not deserve it. Years of pain tumbled out. I realized it really was that bad. And I got out. Not quickly but slowly and surely. And now I’m free. After slogging across an ocean of pain I came to the end and I climbed out. I did it for me and I did it for my kids. We are all better off now though I could not see my way across that ocean at the start of the journey.

    • This is so true! At the end I told my cheater ex that I would not allow him to drag is all down with him (serial cheating and alcoholism/DUIs). I really am glad that I am no longer legally/financially responsible for his poor choices.

  • Please understand there is no normal or average family. If you look at my extended family’s yearly photo you would see four cheaters, two empty spots because they died too young, several divorces and some serious illnesses. We look average. So do most of my friends and they all have some heartaches. That’s life. It is often not fair.
    When I read your letter all I could see is how hard you worked to keep up the facade. Trips. Did they make one difference? No, because he is a jerk. He doesn’t see the devastation he caused. He is skimming right over it.
    How you manage YOUR life will impact your children. If you look at the heavy load you have always carried you will see a hero. Heroes pick up burdens and keep going. This is what your children need, a dependable parent. One who keeps promises. One who gives hugs. That’s always been you.

    • And the time and energy and money spent pick-me dancing will be freed up to spend on yourself and your kids. MUCH better use of resources on people who will value and appreciate it!

  • Dear Doc,
    Throw him out. I stayed misguidedly in a similar situation until the kids were 11 and 13 and it did a lot of harm to us all.

    I second the thought that you can fully have a warm loving close family with just you and the kids, and it is also a good role model for them that you do not have to stay in an abusive relation.

    My X fuckwit told the kids that he had to follow his heart in his affair with his true love because we made him unhappy. I say BS, there is only one person in charge of your happiness and that is you.

    Be the sane parent and mirror good selfcare behaviour. Worse than packing little suitcases is living in a toxic environment continually with a cheating dad that blames you for his own failings.

    Kick him out

    Chump engineer

    • That “follow your heart” line is what he said when he left. He was sitting on the steps of the house we had lived in for almost 26 years. He stood up, walked over to his truck, got in and drove away. To “follow his heart”.

      And his own daughter lived in the house he drove away from. Whom he then ghosted. To “follow his heart.”

      People who have hearts don’t do what cheaters do.

  • Dear Doc – HUGE ((HUGS)). It hasn’t been a full year since d-day and you haven’t figured out what you’re going to do yet so totally understandable you’re still reeling with pain. I’m not a medical doctor but I have a doctorate. I also earned ALL the money and did all the childcare and all the cooking and all the cleaning (which in itself is crazy dysfunctional – right?). All while he was feeling sorry for himself, feeling bored, chipping the days away on the couch swiping left and right on his phone. A chapter of my dissertation was even on Indigenous Feminism and I still had many of those tiny misogynist hopes in the back of my mind of what my family life ‘should be’. I totally understand why you hesitated to write in to Tracy but so very glad you did. My favorite piece of advice here is being chumped means never being smug again. Your world becomes SO MUCH BIGGER when you can let go of the little ‘has-to’ s we cling to too tightly! I’m happy you wrote in and I hope you ditch the piece of shit. I am sooooo glad I ditched mine and ditched all the weird beliefs that went along with being ‘intact’. Thank you for putting yourself out there to get a big ol can of bitch slap – I also needed the reminder of where I was and what kind of misogyny I held then and may be holding on to now.

    • Oh gosh, I am so guilty of the “smugness”, I thought I literally had it all, gorgeous kids, beautiful house, great job and wonderful husband…oh how I have fallen!

      I think that’s the hardest bit…I thought I had such a wonderful life…And now I’ve never felt so low, and the person who has taken all of that away from me is the person I adored….never ever smug again!!!

      • Hi Doc,
        Another woman here who also outearned her husband, had a higher level of education and did most of the childrearing (one child with Autism to boot). It was a proverbial kick-in-the-teeth to have a husband cheat for several years (while he was studying at university full time to earn a degree in his 40s on my dime) and then tell me that it was because I did nothing but emasculate him, control him, never let him have a say in anything, etc. The reality is that they were likely attracted to our intelligence and high-function because it’s what they wished for themselves, until they realized that being so means high expectations. Then, they eventually fold and blame you for their inadequacies.

        And boy does it cut us down…cut us right at the knees. For despite all my achievements, I “failed” at marriage (I didn’t, he did). Despite all my smarts, I didn’t understand my own husband (I do now and it’s not pretty). Despite all my hard work in pick me dancing (13 months in my case while he lied the whole time by maintaining the affair the he has always denied, even to this day), it wasn’t enough to turn him back to me (to which I know say, thank God!). The life I thought I was building blew apart.

        Until I realized that all the pieces were there, scattered, but there. I picked them up and started to put them back together the way I wanted them. Some pieces, I said, “no thanks.” Then, I got some new pieces. Counselling helped me make so much sense of my reality and how heavily invested I was in an ideal for my life that my ex clearly hadn’t shared for years. But, not having him didn’t mean that I couldn’t live my ideal.

        I learned to just DO ME. Be the best mom I can be. The best daughter, friend. I remade my home with my kids. Continued the traditions I held dear and created new ones. Started to use the time the kids were with their dad to pursue my own interests (started a wine club, joined a hiking group, took some professional courses). I started to know peace and quietness within myself, part of realizing that there had been white noise in my marriage messing with my nervous system for years that I didn’t get was there (welcome to trauma).
        But, that humility has made me a much improved version of myself. I am more patient, more compassionate of others, more grateful, more cautious, and dare I say, more wise.

        It’s everyone’s mantra here who have been out for long enough to get closer to “meh” that life does get better, and IT’S TRUE. Trust that. There isn’t a single one of us that haven’t felt what you feel now, and every single one of us will tell you that the quality of our life is infinitely better without the toxic ex. Because the measure of a good life is one lived authentically, and you are the only one in your marriage who holds that value. Quote: “Get in the habit of asking yourself, “Does this contribute to the life that you are trying to build?”. You will come to yourself again and be better for it. As for FW? Well, that won’t be your circus anymore.

  • Doc,

    My heart hurts for you, but I’m glad you’ve decided to tell your story here. I would encourage you to read as many of the archives as possible. They’ve become a morning and nightly ritual for me as I’ve gone through my own hell over the past few months. These archives have really given me strength. Initially I wanted him back but now I’m getting to MEH.

    One thing that really resonates with me is CL’s comment: “No, he cheated because of entitlement. Because he wanted to. Because he did the cost-benefit analysis of your perfect, close, little family and his dick, and his dick won. Because THOSE ARE HIS VALUES.”

    Nothing could be further from the truth. Any person who could choose their dick over their family, wife and kids is a sack! You’re a Dr – smart, empathetic and capable!

    Your kids will observe, ask questions and come to understand the truth of what happened one of these days. Trust that he sucks…and move forward with your life. We love you!

    Chump who got Dumped

    • Yes!!! The cost-benefit analysis comment really resonated…it doesn’t matter how lovely he has been for the previous 9 years of marriage or 18years together, he did the sums, he calculated the value of our marriage and our family and his dick won out. End of.

      • Is your cheater gainfully employed at the moment? If not you need to make sure he gets a job to support himself or you’ll be paying alimony. Let him get a job then file. Be smart. He’s taken advantage of you for far too long already.

        • Yes he got another job…and was very proud of himself for doing so during a pandemic…that was almost as much of an ego boost as brainless slut showing an interest!!

  • I’d say you’re already a single mother. You do all the kid car pool stuff, family can’t live without your income, you do the planning for nice events. You’re a single mother already. Now drop the piece of crap who happens to be in your bed. Your workload will decrease and you can now focus on healing your intact family.
    Is it fair that he quit a job to prove his love? Sounds more like living at his mum’s place wasn’t all that great and he was probably ending the affair anyway.

    • Thank you for the above comment!
      SO TRUE!

      Apologies in advance for some hard truths…

      You have not only been a single mother, you facilitated his false facade as a caring, loving father and husband.

      All those romantic adult weekends and family vacations??? Be honest with yourself about who carried the load of the planning? The hotel reservations, the tickets, the childcare…I’m betting it was mostly (if not all) you. You wanted a loving partner and husband and father so you tried everything to make it that way. Sadly it takes 2 people to make a marriage successful and it sound like you were doing the heavy lifting alone.

      Think hard about the attitude about packing their little suitcases. Why is that your responsibility? He needs to be responsible for their needs, physical, emotional and practical, when your daughters are at his home. He fired you from the job of caretaker. You need to spend all the time and energy of your alone time on yourself. It will be VERY hard not to continue the role of total caregiver but you must. Your girls will see the difference between parenting styles and that is part of their journey.

      It is painful to watch your children not being cared for the way you would do it. I get it. But unless he is harming them, you need to dump the consequences of parenthood back in his lap.

      As for the other woman, I hope you can read all the posts going back to the beginning. HE made a vow to you, HE risked your health, HE took time and money away from your family and he did EVERYTHING WILLINGLY. And that is only what you know about. SHE is insignificant and would have been someone else if not her. Brace yourself to learn other details and possibly other affairs as you methodically go through your financial and credit records. You’re a doctor so you understand through investigation. This hurts like hell but do it for you and your girls.

      About being a single parent family? Me and my sons rock!!!! We are tight, fun, loving, adventurous and supportive. It didn’t happen overnight and the path was hard but I cannot tell you how many of my married friends are jealous of my single parent relationship with my kids and their partners.

      Please listen to Chump Lady and accept the bitchslapping. You sound amazing with a zest for life and doing things. You are a successful doctor who saves lives – save your own.

      Please!

      • My attorney advised me not to send clothes / pack bags. Do you know who came home after multiple weekends with rashes from no clean underwear? Not the fuckwit.
        Our job as mothers is to do what’s best for our children. It may take some responsibility off the fuckwit but its responsibility they weren’t going to do anyway. Please do what is best for the kids, don’t expect them to take care of the child. Teach your child to care for themselves and sent them necessities to do so. I pack clothes and snacks in my kids bags. They know who loves them and they know who they can count on.

    • That’s so true when you take real stock of the weight pulled in your marriage. A lot of us probably end up with a total that shows that we were often on our own already throughout.

      A year after the separation, I met with my financial advisor who I have done business with for 20 years. For years at our meetings, he had seen how stressed I was over all the house renos that never seemed to get done and goals for travel and fun that didn’t seem to come to fruition. He asked me if I wanted to budget for all those things. I let him know that most of the renos have now been done (except the biggie, the kitchen). He was surprised and asked how that happened. I told him that I did it (thank you YouTube “how-to” videos).

      He always assumed my ex was the Mr. Fixit. He stood corrected. Then, he shook his head and wondered out loud, “You would think that with two adults in the house that the work should have gotten done, and now you’re on your own and bam!” I went on to tell him that my life doesn’t have anywhere near the stress that it did for years. His reply, “Well it’s clear what variable played a part in that.”

      Fear keeps us bound. So, I send thoughts of courage to all those who are here still sitting on the fence about whether they can do this on their own.

  • Sometimes in life you only have bad options and you have to choose the least bad option available to you. The LW wants there to be a good choice available when there isn’t.

    You either stay married to someone who betrayed you and is obviously not that sorry, with the risk he’ll have another affair. Or you accept the downsides of being a single parent.

    In the long run it’s better to separate. Yes there are up front costs, but you’ll be saner and build the kind of life that fits with who you are.

    • Exactly! He tells me I’m in control, I get to decide what happens next, only none of the options are what I want.

      It feels like someone saying I have to be killed but I get to choose how!!

      I need to work out what is least bad…whilst acknowledging that if I stay it would most likely happen again a few years down the line!!

      • Wait until you go to cut up the money, you will see even more of the real greedy him.

        I stayed for 3 years after Dday. He never showed true remorse. He started to turn the kids against me. I was not allowed to grieve the betrayal, if I would bring it up he would get angry and accuse me of not being forgiving. They hate that you ‘have something over them’. When in fact he should have been trying to help me get over the knife he put in my back he was twisting it.

        So many families look great from the outside. But after cheating it’s all fake and hollow.

        It’s really hard on the kids, that is for sure. And it hurts you to see them hurt.And they don’t understand why mom and dad just can’t get back together. Cheaters hurt their kids as much as they hurt their spouses. Then they blame YOU for ruining the family!!

      • The reason he says that you have to decide what happens next is that 1: if you decide to stay together then he will be absolved from responsibility for his next betrayal or his trademark neglectful deadbeat laziness, or 2: if you decide to divorce, then he gets to blame you for breaking up the family and he will still come out the victim. He is a very dangerous person. I know from experience. Please protect your assets now, legally. You could find a better man just by throwing a rock randomly. Your husband is abusing you. Your past was a lie. Ask me how I know.

      • It sounds very much like he wants to absolve himself of responsibility by placing it all on you. If the marriage doesn’t work it’ll be because of his betrayal. Don’t accept a blame shift if he tries to pull this on you.

  • You showed integrity, loyalty and faithfulness. In the past year alone, you planned and provided him with a special weekend away for his birthday, another weekend to a show he wanted to see, and a family trip abroad. You provide a good income as a doctor (probably far more than is work sitting at adjacent desks with coworkers), AND provided the vast majority of daily child care. I’m betting you do a lot more that you didn’t mention. So you basically handled the day to day responsibilities and indulged him with special treats and vacations. He says that wasn’t enough to make him feel special, so he had to start an affair with howorker? What more can you possibly do that will feed his need to be central? And why would you want to try? When he found out that his howorker wasn’t interested in adulting and wanted to have sex while living with her mommy instead of playing house with him, what did your husband do? He ran back to live with HIS mommy! And after a few months (maybe Mommy got tired of the big baby) he “reluctantly” came back to you, grousing about giving up his job. Nowhere do you say, or do you know, if he gave up howorker, or if he’s still having sex with her, or someone else. Unprotected sex that puts all of you at risk, because without you, what happens to your kids?
    My guess is that he’ll try to run right back to Mommy when you get up your courage to have him leave. If he does, you won’t have to worry about your daughters going to Daddy’s house, because they may be going to Grandma’s. And it’s questionable how often they’ll go, because he sounds unlikely to be able to care for 6 and 8 year old daughters on his own, and may not even want to do so. Just as he saw you as readily replaceable with howorker, he was ready to replace the kids you had together with new kids he’d have with her.
    Your fears are not uncommon. Just like going through med school, you have to commit to hard work and self-doubts about how you’ll function independently in your new role as a “sole practitioner.” But he hasn’t been helping much with the child-rearing anyway. Your kids will be happier in the long run, and maybe also in the short term. You were pouring a lot of time and energy into creating special, magical times for daddy. It’s time to redirect that focus to you and your daughters. And you don’t have to provide Disney trips to do so. Kids crave a sane, stable parent who stays and spends time with them. You’re already doing that. Now you’ll do it without having to cater to his demands to come first.

    • This is so true. Since this has happened I have realised I NEVER did anything for ME. Any time that I wasn’t at work I was looking after the girls or taking them to ballet, or swimming or horse riding, or I was planning our next family adventures…how much more could I have given to make him feel he had enough?!!

      • Emotionally immature men want the single life and the single woman. They should never marry because we don’t stay exciting. We start to do things, like adult. Actual adulting. Well that’s no fun. Responsibility? Work? Expectations? Jeez, it just never ends.

        And off to the next shiny thing…

  • “We had such a perfect family life, I earn a very good income as a doctor and also do most of the childcare, school drop offs/pickups and after school activities taxi-ing for our two daughters aged 6&8” And the holiday “….which I had organised.”

    It sounds like HE had the perfect life of easy luxury and pre-planned holidays while you were a Super-Mom shouldering the burden of pretty much everything. What was he even contributing beyond his salary? How much more of a burden will it really be if he’s gone?

    Divorce will be hard on your kids. But you will just need to make sure that they know that they are your priority and they will always have a home with you. You may find it’s less work without him around. And someday, when you’re ready, you might find someone who appreciates you enough to make a meaningful contribution.

    • Exactly. He had it made. If that wasn’t enough for him, nothing ever will be. It’s a good lesson for people who tend to cater to their spouses; the only ones who would appreciate it don’t want to be catered to. They want to contribute equally to the relationship and the family. We should all hold out for that kind of partner.

      • We got together when we were 18, I’ve never known any different…I thought it was just a “man thing” that there was no real interest in planning or thinking of nice things to do together. It’s seems crazy to have thought like that!

        • Expecting to be catered to was a “man thing”, but that was decades ago. Time marches on and fully formed adults know they must move with it. It’s probably what you saw your mom do when you were growing up. That’s why it’s all the more important that your kids not learn that by that example.

          Mine resented that I didn’t cater to him enough for his liking. I had a sick child and a sick parent to attend to and wasn’t in good health myself. The gall of these entitled, selfish jerks is incredible. Nothing you do will ever be enough. If you were to have sex every morning and flatter his dumb ass all the time, he’d just move the goalposts on you and find more outrageous demands you can’t possibly meet to use as an excuse to cheat. They all do that because the point of it is to push you down. I wish you all the best in your new, much less stressful life without that deadweight dragging you down.

          • Yep you are right, I did cater to mine, and I ended up with a cheater anyway. A cheater/liar is a cheater liar; they will twist anything we do into a negative when it suits them.

        • Well, then, your picker was an adolescent. Imagine the kind of partner you could choose now that you are adult and you know some stuff.

    • Yes this! The problem is not with you! So, you trying harder is not going to fix the situation. With all that you were doing to provide a nice life and take care of the kids and the entitled bastard is upset that you are not focused on him and catering to his needs? Bah! What did HE do to ease YOUR load? Physicians in the US work really hard and with Covid, long hours. A good husband and father would have been picking up the slack since you are the primary breadwinner! Spending his time thinking up nice things for you! Where is HIS investment in the family? In YOU? As CL says, relationships should be reciprocal and this sounds about as lopsided and dysfunctional as it gets. He sounds sick—what sane grownup gives up a loyal loving hardworking and financially stable marriage and household with two adorable little girls for risky sexscapades and living with mommy? Someone who doesn’t want to adult, that’s who. You don’t need another child to care for!

      The indecision is killing you and the longer it drags out the more painful it will be. Pull the trigger on the divorce and give yourself a clear direction and goals. You will feel relieved no matter the outcome. Give yourself some time to grieve and care for yourself and those babies who really really need their mom! Model resiliency for them. Show them they too have a voice and they Mom is MIGHTY. And has BOUNDARIES and so to can they when they grow up —and they too will TAKE NO CRAP! From douche-bag men who would use and abuse them.

      • Thank you. This was really helpful to read…especially the bit about what sane adult gives up….

        I’ve been asking myself this question since I found out…you hit the nail on the head…he’s not sane and not an adult!!

        • I stayed married to my cheater after I found out. He cut off contact with the other woman immediately, got sober, took on more than half of household and childcare work, never blamed me for his affair, and you know what? I’m still miserable with him, because his affair absolutely destroyed me in every way. I am now trapped with the person who destroyed me. I won the pick me dance. That victory pleased me for maybe a few months, tops. Now, 10 years later, I wish I had left him right away because I see now that he is a truly bad person. Only a horrible abuser could have hurt me to that extent. Now I hate myself for staying. I no longer love or respect him. Now I’m too old to start a new life. We are too broke not to share a house. I have dreams that I left him and then I wake up and my reality hits me. I despise the person I’m married to.

          • I’m so sorry to hear this. I’m so glad you shared it though. I’m not even a year past D-day and I already resent him, despise him and imagine a happier life without him because of what he has chosen to do to me. I’ve never felt anguish and pain like this in my entire life and to know that he is the cause is soul destroying. I am grateful I do have the financial means to “go it alone”, I shouldn’t waste that just because I’m scared of the unknown. Thank you for sharing, it is so motivating for me.

  • Not that I have children but we had a fantastic lifestyle . Lots of travel , meals out in fancy restaurants , both working full time with no dependants so we jumped on a plane most weekends .

    I couldn’t believe he threw that away and got his howorker knocked up but CL is right he did the cost benefit and he chose himself as that’s his values.
    The decades of life we worked hard for meant nothing to him same as the “ perfect “ family for your husband Doc .
    He could have stopped these feelings by not keeping contact with her or relating it to work only but he never . Again he didn’t care about you or your children and that’s really hard to accept but sadly it’s the truth

  • “He tells me that the affair happened, or “he was susceptible to an affair” because he didn’t feel loved by me, and that she made him feel valued and respected when I didn’t (I completely cannot see where this has come from but he insists this is the case).”
    This is the typical BS cheaters say to chumps. They blame the chump for the affair, makes my blood boil. He’s bullshitting you and when he supposedly came to senses and wanted to come home? Nah. He got sick of living with his parents. Reading your post it seems you do a lot, if not all, the heavy lifting. The childcare and trying to make him happy with special events, trips must be exhausting. He’s a weak dumbass and you need to dump him asap. You are not doing your kids any favors by staying with this jerk. Show them how a person with integrity and strength acts not a doormat.

    • I wrote my post before I saw yours. That part immediately stuck out to me as well. They do the least work in the relationship, expect the most, everything you do is seen as some sin and justification to sleep around on you. They’re ” in pain.” K.

      • Many years ago I was engaged to a sociopath. I had minored in psychology and even then I had no idea about narcissists and sociopaths. Of course I was going through some very bad and frustrating patches with the sociopath. I was trying to figure it all out and fix what was wrong and then a young woman I didn’t know well but was dating a mutual friend of ours, said you need to step back and do nothing. Don’t call, don’t plan, don’t support or fix, do nothing. Of course at that time I did not take her advice even though it made perfect sense to me. However, I did use her advice later on. Healthy relationships are reciprocal. Unhealthy are the ones where one person does ALL the work and I think most of us on this site know how well that works out.

        • Yes! The common denominator is that the betrayed spouse does most of the work, while the cheater expects everything but without the equal give and take that is necessary for a home to thrive. Chumps give, cheaters take. They expect roses while watering somebody else’s garden.

    • Thanks, it’s helpful to hear confirmation that this is cheater BS…he is so convincing I sometime almost believe that it’s true and I “made him susceptible”, that’s a horrible thought…that I did something to bring this agony on myself.

  • “He tells me that the affair happened, or “he was susceptible to an affair” because he didn’t feel loved by me, and that she made him feel valued and respected when I didn’t”

    Yo male and female chumps, raise your hand if you got this line of crap! LOL. It’s so cliché at this point. Classic blame shifting. “You drove me to cheat” “You made me go get my needs met elsewhere.” Of course, they say all of this crap to you which is just a total lie and while also taking all of the benefits you offer while getting the cake on the side.

    • I called it the “blame bag.” Cheaters in cheat mode lurk around chumps like creeping Dickensian villains, eyes peeled, beady and alert for any little teeny tiny gesture, action, tone of voice, omission– anything you do or don’t do that could be construed as hurtful, callous, disrespectful or a failure to be properly adoring– and they add that perceived slight like a poker chip or token to the little bag of blame they keep in a hip pocket. When they collect a few chips, they recoup them for things like, say, a dry hump in an elevator with a howorker or schmoworker, some dating app scrilling, a snog in a parked car, etc. When they amass a bigger supply of chips– sometimes by reaching back decades for perceived slights you supposedly committed in days of yore– they can cash them in for a dirty weekend in a cheesy swank hotel paid for with the kids ‘college funds!

      It’s a nifty system grounded in the Mont Pelerin school of economics.

      A list of eligible crimes that can generate cheater blame tokens according to the CN collective:

      –Improper folding of underwear.

      –Not watching Survivor with them.

      –Not liking Survivor.

      — Not congratulating them on the work promotion that they never told you about because felicitous events are things they tell office doorknobs in order to get ass while they play suffering, struggling martyr at home to get out of doing the dishes, picking up after themselves or being emotionally present during boring, kibble-less family special occasions.

      — Not howling campy porn utterences during sex.

      –Changing your hair without permission.

      –Gaining weight.

      –Losing weight.

      –That time 20 years ago when you forgot to remind them of the birthday of a cousin they don’t like and never talk about which just proves how you try to isolate them from family. Because yOU’rE aN aBuSeR.

      –That time you raised your voice. Never mind there was a garbage truck running its compactor ten feet away and you were warning them they were about to step in front of a bus, you scared them. Because yOU’rE aN aBuSeR.

      — Making them feel bad by asking them if they’re having an affair (while they’re having an affair) after months of cold behavior and mysterious late night work events and that weid infection you got. Because yOU’rE aN aBuSeR.

      Etc., etc.

      • Oh so true!

        Apparently, because my husband is an immigrant, his go-to recollection about how mean I am, is that I made him feel bad about being an immigrant…

        That was twisting the truth to suit his needs. At that time, we were BOTH immigrants living in the USA.

        Other blame methods were… that he assumed I was having an affair because I had male friends at work and in my sports life!! All the while, he DID have a fling himself. I guess that I was not supposed to have a life as that made him insecure about himself.

        And the list goes on. When he took a trip away to see his family (that I decided not to go on) and I had arranged for him to take the kids with him to see his home country (which he did not have planned at first until I booked them all tickets), he said I was distant on the phone. That made him feel bad…and then you know what happens after that…

        This is a grown man who talks to his mother on the phone almost everyday. Why? Because she thinks he’s great despite his cheating, lying, and emotional abandonment of his wife and 2 kids. Some eye opening freudian psychology happening there.

        I read emails and messages he had sent to people after the first D-Day when everything came out in the open (due to my invasive detective work) and I was shocked to see what he was saying about me to other people. They truly play the victim. It’s a learned method of manipulation to get kibbles. Very sad. Hard to respect anyone that uses people like that. I certainly cannot find a reason to be with a person with such weak character anymore. I did the reconcilition route to my detriment. It’s been 6 weeks now on my own with a teenage daughter and although scary, I won’t let myself be manipulated and deceived by that sorry ass excuse for a husband again.

        Take heed Doc…it’s a road of suffering and leaving is what you will end up doing anyway down the road. The entitlement is enmeshed with their character and repeats over and over…

      • Great list, Hell. I would add the following blame nuggets from my own experience:
        – Not turned on enough by quickies while kids are in the other room, or taking a break from going through STBX’s dead mother’s things
        – Not “happy” enough. (I would agree during occasional pre-D-Day #2 conversations that I was not deliriously joyful, since I was so tired all the time, but I described myself as “content” and very grateful for the good things in life)
        – Not “supportive” enough after STBX’s narc mom died, though I held STBX while she recounted the trauma and did everything STBX asked me to do. I wasn’t going to sing the praises of STBX’s mom, with whom I had a drought relationship
        – didn’t “dream” enough. (I did, but my dreams didn’t involve STBX enough, I guess)
        – The real kicker for me was this weird notion that I didn’t do enough around the house and with the kids, even though I did at least 70% of the housework, since I worked part-time. This came up in therapy sessions in 2015, after which the therapist concluded that there was nothing more to discuss with me, but STBX clearly needed more work. (Read: “unrealistic expectations.”) After D-Day #2 in 2018, I found the following blame nugget in a dump of STBX’s texts with her AP: (see next post)

        • (This is STBX’s actual text complaining about me to her AP in 2018): “LezChump can’t help having debilitating fatigue. And she does a lot with the house and kids. A lot. But the thought of being with someone who enjoys taking care of people and things and who has the energy to do it well and happily….SIGH”

          Yes. SBTX literally spells out “sigh” in her texts often. She’s the Sad Sausage Queen. She still “sighs” in texts with me, usually when she’s triggered me with ignorant assumptions. Am trying to limit contact even further.

          So, Hell can add “chump doesn’t marshal the support of small woodland creatures while doing housework” to the fine list of blame nuggets.

      • He has done exactly this…even to the point of bringing out some deep seated resentment about how I didn’t react enthusiastically enough about a bbq he threw for my birthday 7years ago!!! How can that be a thing that he uses as a reason for screwing some slag every morning before work (when he could have been helping me get the kids ready for school!!)

    • My cheaters version was “I havne’t been happy for ten years” (He never told me, he seemed happy) “it wasn’t about the sex” Bullshit, it was all about the sex, turd started fucking the whore aabout the same time he got his promotion, he was reveling in the excitement of illicit sex, until for some reason; it wasn’t as much fun anymore. I suspect the whore (his direct report) put the hammer down and demanded he leave me.

      Then his parting shot was “I never loved you” Total bullshit, I know it now; but I believed it then. Does it ever occur to these fuckwits what that statement says about them, that they have been lying to their spouse since before they were married, and they think that makes them look better.

  • Doc, your story sounds exactly like mine. I also took my cheating H back and, thankfully (yes, thankfully!), he found another affair partner and left again. I say thankfully because I know I never would have left him; I adored him too much and I was terrified of being a single mom (my kiddos were both still in diapers at the time).

    Well, that was over ten years ago and, looking back, I can tell you that being a single mom, while hard, was awesome. Best time of my life, as a parent, honestly. There is simply no comparison between how much better we functioned as a single mom household (functioning! happy!)and how it was when H was there (agony!).

    I also hated packing their little bags for weekend visits with their Dad and his wife (his second affair partner) and still do, to be honest, but I’ve accepted that it comes with the territory because (1) being a single parent, while amazing, is also exhausting, and I needed those small blocks of time to myself to recharge my batteries, and (2) I wanted my children to have a good relationship with their father.

    Good luck, cut him loose, and take the plunge. There’s simply no comparison; life as a single mom is so much better than life as a beleaguered wife to an uninvested, cheating man.

    • I do kind of wish she had wanted my husband once he decided she was good enough to leave me for…sadly he wasn’t very exciting once the affair was out in the open so she wasn’t interested…and I stupidly did the pick me dance to get him back…but if he hadn’t come back I would have been over the hardest bit already…whereas now I still have it all to come.

      • It is hard to let go. I let mine come back once after he left me for the town whore. It lasted a week, lucky for me he treated me so awful, I kicked him out at the end of the week.

        He circled back three times after that. I knew he didn’t really want me back, he just needed me destabilized in case he had further use of me. I don’t believe he ever stopped screwing the whore, just wanted me in the wings.

        All in the world at the time I wanted was for him to marry the whore. I just knew if he did that would be the worst punishment he or she could get, and it was. They totally destroyed themselves financially. Gambling.

        It was all so weird. There was no CL or even internet for research during that time. Now I get how they are all so much alike, but then it was a mystery to me. If I had known then what I found out later, I would have never let him come back, not even for a day. Or, at least I don’t think I would have.

  • Doc, you deserve better than that cheater. Your kids deserve better than that cheater. Plan on fighting like hell for full custody of those kids.
    Kick him out. Divorce his lying, cheating ass.

    He doesn’t deserve you. He is using you for “three meals and a cot”. He has abused you and the kids. Adultery is abuse. Are you going to tolerate that abuse?

    Did you get an STI panel? Check your finances? Run a credit check? He isn’t trustworthy. Don’t believe a thing he says.

    You are a prize! You are worthy of so much more than begging for crumbs of affection from this ungrateful cheater. Stop talking to him and start talking to a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse.
    You and those kids deserve a whole hearted love.

    • Is there hope for full custody? I’m trying due to specifics of my situation. Just wondering if other chumps have been able to secure this for their children.

      • Yes. I have full custody. He got visitation. Which he doesn’t use. Maybe an hour or so at a time. Plays Disney dad, dinner, a short fun activity and done. No real parenting involved. IMHO the less time impressionable children are left in the care of a toxic dysfunctional man-child the better.

        • God, I wish my exfw only parented an hour or so at a time. Mine asked for 50/50 (he did NOT want to pay child support). He is remarried to a wonderful woman and I am so grateful that she is there for my daughter—but I am already hearing stories of the way he is treating her. My daughter HATES going to his house and it breaks my heart. I feel so bad because I’m like, “i cannot live with this abusive prick”…but then i take the most important human on the planet and i have to drive her over there and drop her off. She actually said to me the other day “Why can’t I just divorce dad like you did”. ugh. I just have to remind myself that at least she is with me half the time and we are not stuck with him 100% of the time. God what a waste of 17 years of my life. And yeah, you are right—“the less time impressionable children are left in the care of a toxic dysfunctional man-child, the better.”

          • The beauty of it all is that as they get older, the kids get to have an opinion. They don’t have to talk on the phone if they don’t want to. I mean, who is obligated to pick up the phone and be at someone’s beck and call all the time? Sheesh! The kids, They get busy. They get a life. They don’t have to visit if they don’t want to. They get a say in activities that involve them. They invite who they like to their events. You don’t have to force them to go. There may be kick back from this legally but as they get older the judge will listen to what the kids want. They were the innocent bystanders whose lives were upended by divorce. Now they get a say in what happens. I view this as giving them back their power to say NO! As my kids got older, they got discarded just like me. Fw didn’t want to pay for college or medical. It was easier just to abandon them. Good riddance to him.

  • Doc – here’s another bitchslap. Sounds to me that you are the breadwinner in your household with being a doctor and scheduling all these trips and vacations. I am sure he reveled in those luxuries that you planned just for him just as much as he reveled in sticking his dick in places where it shouldn’t go. That said, you are clearly married to an entitled leach. Leaches like to be sneaky….they lie, cheat, and steal! Not just emotionally or physically but financially too. Fair warning from a leach ridden single mom – get a divorce! You and your kids will be much better off for it. Otherwise, you can end up penniless AND discarded like I was 7 almost 8 years ago.
    Next thing, tell your kids the truth and DO NOT SUGAR COAT IT!!!!!!! Don’t pussy foot around and say stuff like “well Daddy left because he was unhappy”. Say things like “Dad made the decision to cheat and have a girlfriend on the side, so I made the decision to leave.” I’m sure you can find other ways to say things but tell them! Otherwise, they will formulate their own ideas about the marriage/you/him and typically it will be worse than the truth especially about you. You can bet money that he will interject his ugly opinions about you to them. Them not hearing the truth from you sets them up for failure in the future and more heartache for all of you than just hearing the truth. I made a vow to tell my kids the truth and now we are stronger for it! They are young teens and tell me pretty much everything going on in their life, especially when it comes to dad.
    Lastly, fuck the narrative about single moms! I’m with CL on this. The bullshit stigmatism that surrounds us is ridiculous….don’t fall into the trap of thinking (or acting) that way and change the narrative!

    • Great advice here!

      As hard as it is to hear, there are more ugly surprises coming from your husband, Doc. If you divorce him, they will come quickly. If you continue to work on your marriage, they will leak out bit-by-bit as the years go on. He is not a loving partner to you, and whether you stay or go, he will not transform into one.

      • Yes. This. ^^^ My STBX promised that after how horribly he’d emotionally abused me, that he would fully cooperate in the divorce proceedings, and make it as quick, and easy, and kind as possible (he said it was the least he could do).

        Anyone want to guess what the actual divorce process has revealed about his character?

        I’ve been thinking a lot about the past three years, and my regrets around not leaving sooner. The best analogy I can think of is unmedicated childbirth. The period of time when you’re attempting to wreckoncile is the labor, and the agony only builds. The divorce proceeding is transition and pushing – the most intense and painful stage. There’s tearing, and tools of extraction, and a lot of swearing and crying. But what I’m looking forward to is birthing a new life, a new me.

        In childbirth, we don’t get to choose how long the labor lasts. And as we all know, the longer the labor, the less strength you’re left with for pushing. In this situation you DO get to control the length of the labor. Keep it short.

        Get to that new life as soon as possible, with as little depletion to yourself as possible.

    • I have fallen into that trap…I’m ashamed about it!! My big fear is telling everyone…and what they will think about me…pathetic I know. It’s not because I’m ashamed of being a single parent, it’s more that I somehow failed in my marriage…although I know it’s actually him who failed.

      • You DID NOT fail in your marriage. You kept your vows. Leaving your marriage is because you BELIEVE in marriage while your FW didn’t. This isn’t about you. It’s about him and HIS demons. I also felt ashamed of myself exactly like that. That I failed. NO. You have nothing to be ashamed of. I found more people supportive of me and angry towards him. He has lost his family and friends (we were together since 19 as well). Chin up and straight spin, honey. The strength is there and if people judge you… judge them back and drop them from your circle.

      • Here’s a superpower everyone can cultivate: Not caring about what people think.

        It’s your life honey. No one else is living it. You only get one of them and every day is precious. Don’t waste it.

  • Dear Doc,
    I so know where you are in all this. When I first discovered my husband’s affair I had girls nearly the ages of yours. I was devastated, my world turned upside down. What I thought was real was not. I did the pick me dance, and eventually learned he was still cheating (never stopped). I eventually opened my eyes and clearly saw he’d been cheating all along. I did all the parenting, I carried the heavy load… Someone has to when married to a FW! AP are needy, and take time and money. I was paralyzed in fear of single motherhood and wondering if my children would survive the weekends away. The more I changed and worked on myself the better I’ve become for my children. The more I’ve taken my emotional connection away from FW more I can give to them. That is what they need and needed all along. I can’t risk falling off the cliff of another d-day with him, and rest assured it will happen again. Plus subjecting myself to the exact abuse I want to prevent my daughters from marrying in the future. Ultimately, if I reconcile I’d be the biggest hypocrite and wouldn’t be modeling anything positive to my children. I’m not sure what packing little suitcases will be like yet as were tumbling down the ugly divorce path right now. But I want to give them one healthy home.

    • Yes! This is it! I want to show the girls how they should be treated and not to tolerate being treated any less than that….easier said than done when I also want to keep their family for them!

      • I know the mom heart that wants to keep her babies close and will do anything if it means protecting them. However, I began to realize our home was already broken, and I wasn’t able to protect them as much as I thought I was. Your family will be together, you and your girls. It will be their safe place to land.

      • You can’t keep someone who doesn’t want to be kept. For the kids. And you should not have to give up your values and self respect and dignity in order to keep a relationship. A good relationship should feed your needs as well as those of your partner.

        People talk about lives being destroyed, families destroyed. The fact of the matter is that our family was not broken by the exit of the FW. We continued on living our lives together as a cohesive unit just without the weakest link. He walked away from US. Yes I had to file. Yes he fought it. But he was the cheater pants and after the third DD I had finally had enough. Nothing had changed. However. The rest of are still here and we ARE still an intact family. We no longer have to cater to someone who was a constant wet blanket unless the event revolved around him! No more coaxing and cajoling to do the most basic of parenting duties or household chores. No more marriage police. No more drinking police! No more wondering and no more worrying. The kids and I are closer than ever because we had to band together (for survival and comfort) and life is much more peaceful w/o FW. NC is a hard won lesson but I have set boundaries and I enforce them. I will not discuss anything with FW unless it has to do with logistics of the kids. I won’t discuss anything extraneous to that topic. I just do not respond. He can be as hysterical as he likes but I don’t care and I no longer rise to the bait. From what I can tell, the FW is actually jealous of our home and lives and angry at being ‘left out’. He was always a miserable insecure selfish person and nothing has changed, since wherever he goes, there he is. No longer my problem.

  • I married my now exH in 2007. In 2009, my exH got a phone call from his mother that his dad had left her. Moved right in with the OW he had been having a multi-year affair with. My exH drove down to support his mom and confront his dad. His dad moved back in with his mom that night, and we as a family were never allowed to talk about it again per his dad.

    Fast forward to 2019. I discovered my exH was having an affair. And it wasn’t his first. He was planning a “new life” with his OW….eerily similar to his dad ten years prior. When things blew up with the OW, he tried to come back to me and was very upset that I did not take him back like his mom took back his dad. I initiated consequences, and the divorce was finalized 10 months after D-Day – it would have been even sooner if he had not been even more of a FW during our financial settlement negotiations.

    CL is so right. Model the values you want your girls to have. Self-love. Self-respect. I am a firm believer that marriage with unconditional love is out there and is such a beautiful thing. Marriage with a cheater is NOT that. Your spouse has already put conditions on his love for you to justify his affair.
    Actions have consequences, and it is such an important lesson for children to learn. Godspeed to you, Doc. You can do this!

  • Think Doc’s story resonates with a lot of us, I spent 27 years with a man who was emotionally abusive, caught him out cheating, he left, said he had to come back as had nowhere else to live, stupidly I let him come back, did the pick me dance for way too long,
    I didn’t want to be a single parent but now realise I was anyway, he was so emotionally detached from us,
    Had Decree NISI feb 2019 but trying to sort out the finances has been a nightmare, every time I think it’s settled he moves the goal posts again,
    I now have to live in the same house as him, with our 2 adult sons who he hasn’t spoken to for over 2 years, they want nothing to do with him as he was such a crap father,
    I will regret staying with him for as long as I did to the detriment of my sons till the day I die.
    I just want to get on with the rest of my life, I’m 60 now & want peace of mind & freedom from that selfish, entitled prick who never said sorry ever,

  • FWIW, my now-adult kids wish I’d left their dad when they were in elementary school because he was emotionally abusive. I left him on D-day, in late 2019. When I dropped him, my adult kids dropped him, too, and didn’t seem to feel any emotion. Looks like they’d already emotionally separated from him. NC all the way.

    As we’ve said on this blog before, kids know more than you think. You might believe you have the “perfect” family but for his affair, and yet they probably see cracks that you spackle over.

    I say this as someone who was a bit of a spackle queen.

    Honor yourself and your kids by leaving this entitled man. My guess is that he shows poor character in other areas of his life as well. It was only after I left m ex that his overall shitty, abusive, entitled behavior came into full view.

    This isn’t to say it’s easy. I get that. Good luck. You got this!

  • Dear Doc,

    So many of can relate to elements of your story. It’s so painful to give up on the “dream” of your marriage and family. So many of us gave our cheaters second, third, hundreds of chances wanting to believe in that dream and keep our families together. But our cheaters were never invested in that dream the same way we are; if they were, they would not be capable of such cruelty and causing so much harm.

    Like you, I organized the family trips, special moments, etc., only to be cruelly abused and discarded. My (adult) children and I carry the weight of the trauma he has inflicted why he has “decided to move in a different direction.” I wish I had left years ago when my gut first told me something was “not right.” In addition to processing my own trauma, I worry about my children and the damage done to them in living through such toxic, abusive environments.

    I am currently living alone for the first time, as my child has moved to a dorm at college (hoping his school handles this in a smart, safe way). Sometimes I feel lonely and “stuck” (COVID restrictions and harsh winter conditions where I live make going anywhere particularly challenging these days). Yet the thought I had the other day is how PEACEFUL my home is. There is no tension, no walking on eggshells, no endless tasks/renovations/chores left undone for ages until I nagged repeatedly, etc.

    To take just one example: the dishes get done without fanfare because I do them, such a contrast from when he did them (our “partnership” arrangement during our marriage was I cooked/he did dishes). He would let the dishes pile up, then take two hours to clean up (1.5 hours of which was actually spent watching videos, checking Facebook, etc) and then making a big deal about how “hard” he worked and how under appreciated he was. Meanwhile, he stole 2 hours from our family time each night, and tried to make US feel guilty about that.

    When I first left, I was so stressed about having to do the dishes (who has 2 spare hours each night?!), but then I quickly realized what a scam that was on his part. Not saying that being a single parent is easy, but you may find that it’s actually less stressful than you think once you are not having so much of your energy drained by the cheater’s toxicity and dysfunction.

    • I worry I have become the opposite of everyone else here. FW is a major perfectionist and slave driver about the house being perfect. Before D-day, I used to do backflips to keep the house immaculate. He even dictates where I am allowed to set my purse down when I return home from running errands. One thing out of place incurs his wrath. Since D-day, I purposely leave the end table on my side of the couch cluttery. I stir my coffee and leave the spoon on the counter instead of immediately putting it in the dishwasher. There is a set of curtains I have needed to hem that I haven’t even pinned yet. I feel like these are all my little acts of rebellion. He doesn’t like it? F him! I hope my spoon on the counter drives him mad. I’m tired of making effort to be perfect for Mr. Wonderful.

      Since D-day, I do half of what I used to but it is still a lot. I bathe and groom the dog, cut my son’s hair, vacuum, sweep, clean the stove, hand wash dishes, etc. I make the meal plans and buy the groceries. I clean the bathrooms. But then I leave a pile of mail on the end table or I leave a light on after leaving a room. And I simply don’t care.

      I just worry that he will be in court telling a judge that I am a disorganized slob. I know wen he is gone and I can do things as I want without him breathing down my neck, I’ll be more tidy or even hire some housekeeping help. Right now, keeping a perfect house is one of those things he expects from me that I don’t intend to give him. I’m tired of doing anything for He Who Can’t Keep His Dick In His Pants. I have been allowing his criticisms if my housekeeping to make me feel badly, though.

      I wish the pandemic would be over already!

  • DocMcChumpin’s husband didn’t get sex every morning so it made him cheat ? Hmmm. What about men away on army duty tours, or business trips, or men with women who are heavily pregnant, or had gyni surgery? Do those guys all get to cheat? Ridiculous.

    Yes it is a comedown not having what you see as the Cinderalla lifestyle, the perfect husband and kids. But adult life is like this. You can’t always get what you want. And life as you know it changes.

    You cry for years when your family ends due to cheating. But it has ended. Pretending it hasn’t will only cause migraines and ulcers.

    He will suck her dry to avoid letting go of the golden goose. She should accept that their life is over and done, and divorce his cheating ass. He is who he is.

  • Hey Doc, get ready to get screwed over yet again with the family court system where you get cheated on, lose seeing your kids half the time, and then have to pay the cheater.

    • That isn’t true everywhere. In my state, the cheated on do not have to pay spousal support to the adulterer. In fact, when I prove adultery in court, it will weigh toward my getting a greater amount of the marital assets than 50/50. But yes… child custody is another matter entirely.

  • Chumps are Olympic gold medalists when it comes to REFRAMING. I used that cognitive brilliance to stay in denial and in my mirage (marriage) for 27 years.

    In leaving a cheater and gaining a life, it’s ESSENTIAL for me to call on those same skills but use them for my good, not to spackle and suffer in a sordid soul-crushing sham.

    While “married” I had a Beneteau 36 (sailboat) which I now believe was actually purchased as a bomb-proof place to fuck the junk he was picking up. The karma bus showed up there; he is all sadz because my daughter will not set foot on the boat. She told him what she loved the about boat was not sailing per se, but playing on it every weekend as a family. Take that, Mofo.

    In the sailing world, sailing single-handed is an awesome and respected feat, not perceived as less-than at all. When leaving a cheater, and sailing life single-handed, you are becoming a black belt ninja warrior Jedi waterman. In addition, with a crew of fellow chumps you can’t go wrong. Having a cheater on your crew means life caught in irons (sailing term = no wind).

    https://www.sail-world.com/news/230310/Celebrating-solo-sailing-and-the-Vendee-Globe

  • Newsflash: Congratulations Doc! You have already been a highly functioning single parent for years. My story was very similar. I have now officially been a single parent to three kids for six years and counting. (But I was really single parenting throughout my whole sham of a marriage, if I’m being honest.) And I am here to tell you that life gets infinitely easier when you end the marriage. No matter how you spin it, his affair partner did not cause the demise of your marriage. He did. He is clearly dead weight in your otherwise successful life. So why try to drag him across the finish line with you?

    Seems to me your biggest issue is that you’re struggling with the stigma of single motherhood. “My gawd, what will the neighbours think?!?” Get over it! Like you, I’ve got a pretty successful career (university professor here) and I still managed to kick ass in the motherhood arena. That certainly didn’t change when I divorced. In fact, I’ve received accolades and admiration from family, friends, community and even potential partners for my strength, resilience, and duty to family. Focus on being a great role model, not just for your kids but for other single parents out there. Don’t let society determine your narrative. You are not a vulnerable, broken-down single mother so why would you think or act like one? Proudly live your truth. The “perfect” life is a myth, and we all know plenty of two-parent families that are toxic and downright miserable. The single parent stigma only changes when WE change it.

    • My story is similar too. I think one hurdle Doc McChumpin’ may be facing is that she is not very experienced with failure. No one gets to be a doctor without putting in a lot of hard work and being rewarded for it. She’s probably pretty well conditioned to believe that if she works hard at her marriage, it will pay off too. Why else would she be the one arranging holidays for her husband, working full-time, and toting the kids around while he finds a workmate for morning sex!

      A few people will think less of you when your marriage ends. None of them matter. All of them are relatively easy to avoid. It is our own disappointment in ourselves that is so hard to manage. We picked a bad guy. We spackled. We didn’t fix it in time. Whatever. The only solution is to take control of the future–choose a life you want and work for it.

      The patriarchy doesn’t much like stories about hard-working single women who raise great kids. (But there are tons of stories and sitcoms about single dads making one charming error after another, and tons of Disney films that begin by offing the mother). Like CL says, it is up to us to change the narrative.

      • Eilonwy,

        You are spot on. The “failed marriage” narrative is really unhelpful; I have a go to phrase for anyone who suggests that my marriage failed.

        I tell them “my marriage didn’t fail, it was sabotaged.”

        LFTT

      • Oh gosh, this is so true.

        I was broken when I failed my first (and second) driving tests, I’d always been top of the class at everything and could not deal with failing at something.

        Fast forward 20 years and I feel like I’ve failed my driving test again, only it’s so much more than a driving test, it’s my life and I failed…I didn’t see this coming to prevent it, it wasn’t even on my radar as a possibility…maybe if I’d been more on the ball I could have prevented this catastrophic failure

        …I know realistically I couldn’t, this is about him, not me, but it doesn’t stop me thinking like this because it’s failure and I’ve never had to deal with that before….except the driving tests (can you tell it still hurts now!😂)

        • These false thoughts are something you can let go of. You will probably need a therapist to help you reframe this stuff.

          Both failing and succeeding are important parts of life but you don’t have to be perfect to be worthy of love and compassion. You might try Brene Brown’s books, particularly The Power of Vulnerability and Daring Greatly. I suffered from this perfectionist point of view and both therapy and reading Brown were big helps in getting past this. There’s a lot of happiness on the other side of letting go of the need to be #1 and invulnerable.

      • That’s me. Guilty. Valedictorian of my high school class. Law school graduate. Failing my first behind the wheel driving test was also a devastation. I still remember the words I got wrong in the 5th, 6th, 7th, and 8th grade spelling bees. Why? Because I don’t get things wrong. Except with men. I couldn’t keep a boyfriend before meeting FW. When he met me, I was probably all ready to spackle away! My mother told me to play dumb because I was clearly putting men off by being too smart, too independent, too… me. So I jumped right in and married the wrong person. Did he pretend to be great while he was really a fraud? Yes, but I do have the strong sense that I failed and did something horribly wrong and the even stronger pain of hurting my son because I did a crap job choosing his father to be his father. That feeling of not wanting to admit to having messed up hung heavily on me for a long time, but now I changed the narrative for myself.

        YES, I made a mistake. But my child and I don’t need to keep suffering because I made a mistake. I can admit it and move on. It does not define me and anyone who thinks it does doesn’t know me very well. I can continue to be this man’s victim or I can move on. I am lucky beyond words to have my son. As horrible as this marriage has been, I am fairly certain if I had not married when I did, I would not have ever married and would have been without this wonderful kid. I would go through it all over again for my son. BUT my picker was broken because I had never before met such a fraud as FW. I had never dealt with a narcissist and been gaslighted and abused. It can happen to anyone. The fact it happened to me or Doc doesn’t make us failures.

        It’s a very difficult thing to absorb when you have spent your life trying to not get in trouble. You are taught that if you do all these things, you control your destiny. Your hard work has a reward. You do well in life through your own effort. So when you are treated badly, you blame yourself more than anyone else ever will. You imagine a stigma hanging over you. And it is partially true! Society judges single mothers. And that has to change because the alternative of staying and suffering to avoid it is unthinkable. We can be part of that narrative. We are already in a club we never wanted to be in. As others have said, whether we get out or not, our perfect little families are broken. It is better for us to reconcile that in ourselves and rip the bandage off.

    • Thank you. This was really helpful…I need to keep telling myself these things over and over…I keep forgetting the truth of it.

      But yes, I am so guilty of “what will the neighbours think”….pathetic I know!! I’m starting to realise that pretending everything is all rosy, doesn’t make it so…and I still end up miserable…even if I’ve managed to pull off the facade!!!

      • You’ll more than likely be surprised to find out a lot of people you know will say they always thought he was a jerk, etc. and relieved you finally dumped the bum.

        • Oh no, everyone thinks he is wonderful, I thought he was wonderful. It’s all…”if there was one person we never thought would do this….it was him”….kind of makes it worse, makes me cling on to that hopium that this was all a massive error for him and that he should be forgiven and we should try again. He wasn’t lazy, or useless with the kids, sure he didn’t put in a huge amount of effort with planning things for us to do but I just thought that wasn’t his strong point. He did fix things around the house, was a great hands on dad (and still is), and was very kind…until he wasn’t. So now I struggle because I focus on all of the good stuff and just think it’s so unfair that he made this error of judgement…maybe he has seen the pain this causes and reflected on his stupidity, been forced to see what he would have lost and wouldn’t do it again? Snap me out of this way of thinking…please, it’s what’s holding me back!!

          • FW in my house contributes to the house. He makes a lot of money to help pay the bills and washes the laundry. But even if he is Super Dad with the kids, too, NONE of that negates him being a dishonest prick who was boinking someone else behind his wife’s back. He lied to you a thousand times about who he is and what he is about. He tried to make you feel bad about not being enthusiastic about a BBQ he put on 7 years ago as part of his defense.

            If he can keep clean and make nice meals and be a good father to the girls when they see him, GREAT! But he is a shitty husband who now will get better at hiding it. He has tried to make you feel bad about you to justify his affair. Because you are a driven person (me, too… I get it!), you are feeling susceptible to the criticism. You want to believe he is the unicorn because you think if you spackle this really well, it will hold and someday you will feel OK.

            You won’t. I tried it. I am 47 years old. I have a law degree. I know how to do a lot of things and I can learn to do all kinds of things. I got scuba certified. I learned to SPEAK some Thai before going on the Thailand trip I organized for us in 2012. You know what I can’t do? You know what YOU can’t do? We can’t change another human being from being a FW. And for all the good things he does, he was and will always be a FW. You will not forget this. The life you had before is gone. You can only delay the inevitable.

          • You write, “So now I struggle because I focus on all of the good stuff and just think it’s so unfair that he made this error of judgement.”

            An affair is not an “error of judgment.” It’s a series of decisions to betray, to lie, to cheat. Your husband made series of decisions to ignore his vows. He decided that his promises to you, in front of friends and family, do not matter. He decided that your heart, your peace of mind, your happiness and your health do not matter. He decided that your kids’ happy home does not matter.

            It may be an error of judgment to buy the wrong house or take the wrong job or date the wrong person. It might be an error of judgment to over a period of time choose to put your own best interests last, over and over. That’s an error of judgment because there is a flaw in your thinking. An error of judgment means someone has weighed a choice in the mind and made the wrong one, not out of selfishness or unkindness or indifference but because of a lack of vision.

            I might be able to buy a one-off drunken sexual escapade as a matter of judgment. But not a 6-month affair. Not leaving his family. Not coming back, tail between his legs, when the AP doesn’t want him any more. That’s a decision made over and over.

            Your husband has a character problem. That’s not going to change unless he goes into therapy and does a lot of hard, hard work. That does not appear to be his strong suit. He has shown his character–he’s dishonest. He’s indifferent to your pain. He puts his own selfish desires over the need of others. He’s unkind. He’s weak.

            It’s not about judgment.

            • Thanks, I needed this. I keep getting weak and seeing him putting in effort (like running me a bath for when I get in after work) and thinking that’s him having come so close to losing us that it has given him the reality check that he needed to put in more effort or face losing me…it’s not of course…he doesn’t want to lose his nice house and everything he took for granted when he chose to screw the howorker. I dare say the effort will last until the next brainless slut shows a bit of interest and it will be all “I tried so hard but I never got anything back from you…I can’t do this any more”.

              • Listen to the nice lady who told you “it’s your life, don’t waste it”.

                I am a cautionary tale. DD #2 was horrible. Long distance ho emailed me all the details of an 18 month affair. My kids were 6 and 8. He didn’t want a divorce and so, afraid to be a single parent, high on hopium I stayed. I went into fixer mode and got him counseling and antidepressants. But the past indiscretions kept unrolling like a bad movie, porn, game chats, social media, howorkers, drunken work trip liaisons… I was almost immobilized by the betrayals. By staying I gave up my pride and my self respect and trust in my own judgment. Still, I told him, if you ever cheat again , it’s over. I simply cannot go thru that ever again. He had extreme genuine Naugahyde remorse.

                Ten years passed. We had another child. Turns out, he never quit the liaisons, just took it farther underground. DD #3 was another hoe-worker calling to tell me about a two year affair. Since I had drawn the line in the sand before, I had no choice left but to leave. i had nothing left to work with.

                My ‘hindsight is 20/20’ observation is that in those ten years —what had changed? Nothing! I spent those ten years waiting for the other shoe to drop. Leopards don’t change their spots. Cheaters will always cheat.

                I adore my kids. I always say I got the best parts of him, the kids and a settlement. But how I wished I invested those ten years in myself and the kids instead of the sparkly turd. I’d be so much farther along in my personal goals!

              • Here’s the thing: right now you are in shock because the person you thought would protect you suddenly assaulted your very soul. Even if he changes and starts being the perfect husband right now, after your PTSD starts to dull about 10 years from now, you will suddenly realise something: you no longer want HIM. You no longer love him. You don’t want to sleep with him because he is pathetic. Mark my words. You will no longer be able to force yourself to believe that you want him, no matter how hard you try.

          • It hurts and it baffles. But this is not about you.

            Please realize a whole lot of famous beautiful successful women get cheated on by their “less than” husbands.

            It’s as if these guys are so threatened by the wonderful woman on their arm, the ONLY way they can prove whatever the hell they think they need to prove, is by cheating.

            But that’s about THEM, not the wives they’re married to.

            • So true, but so hard to genuinely believe it when I am told all my faults that led to this happening, or him “becoming susceptible to it happening” (as he wants to be very clear he’s not laying the blame for the affair at my feet…he fully accepts the blame 🤔…sounds like blame to me!)

  • Doc, you effectively already are a single parent. You’re the one who does everything, despite having a much more demanding job, especially in a pandemic. This guy is lazy as hell at home, which is more proof of his attitude of male entitlement. That and petulantly demanding sex every morning paints a vivid picture of a man who wants women to be subservient.
    When he said you “make him” feel less than, he really means he knows you’re lightyears ahead of him as a human being, and that made him angry, so he found a way he could one-up you. He resents your success and how capable you are. He even resents what a good wife and mother you are, since he sucks as a husband and father. He was into that girl because she’s a loser and he didn’t feel inferior around her. With somebody that insecure and sexist, you have nothing to work with. He will always feel inferior, simply because he is. That won’t change, so he will feel the need to cheat again.
    My husband, also an insecure, entitled twit, also cheated with a loser who didn’t want to be with him, who just wanted to use him to get her sick thrills. He wasted many years trying to get her to change her mind. Yours would have done the same had he not been caught so soon and forced to act. So what does he do? He chooses some random slut over his family! He couldn’t get her, so he’s faking a re-commitment to you until he finds another slut who will have him. Please leave him before he does that. What do you need this guy for? He’s a despicably selfish, shiftless jackass who doesn’t even do his share of parenting. Methinks he stays for your paycheck, while hypocritically resenting your career. You are a single mother and you’re alone in the marriage as well. It’s time to cut the deadwood.

    • OHFFS nails it. I was thinking the same thing. Not only is he an entitled, run-of-the-mill FW, he’s also jealous AF.

      He did this to feel better about himself and to hurt you because he “hates” you for being superior in every way.

      Drop the albatross.

      • Yup, my ex secretly resented me for making more than he did. I think that figured into his cheating as well, pay back. There were signs that he was jealous of my success, I ignored them.

      • I know this scenario because I’ve been there. Mine was like that, bitterly envious and resentful, even though he was the breadwinner and on the surface, more successful. He resented me for being more intelligent, more courageous, a better parent, and a more principled and decent person in general. That did not require much effort on my part. 😉

        So Doc’s loser, like my ex, tries to solve the problem of feeling inferior by proving how inferior he actually is. Being better people would give them something to be proud of and put their insecurities and envy to rest, but that takes work, and losers hate work. So off they go to find an equal. I hope Doc sends him packing.

    • So true…”methinks he stays for your pay check, while hypocritically resenting your career”

      He didn’t like the suggestion that he could come back but we keep our earnings separate….”well don’t be upset when I can’t afford to come on the luxury family holidays” he said!! What???!!!

      • He’s doing everything but wear a t-shirt that says “I’m using you for the money” and on the back it says “to take other women out with.”
        Hopefully she will see through this gold-digger.

        • Sorry, I meant to say hopefully *you* will see through this gold-digger. In reading all your posts, it looks like you have. 🎉 Congrats! You’re going to get free. We’re all pulling for you.

  • I recognize so much of my own marriage in your description of your own. You, like me, are a “fixer,” with an underlying and perhaps unacknowledged belief that you could by your own efforts provide the conditions for your husband to succeed and to be a real partner. I did all the heavy lifting at home, and put my effort into supporting his career, often over my own (we are both academics with PhDs from the same Ivy League graduation program, in the same academic department at the same small “highly selective” university), because it was important to me that we both succeed. What your husband’s behavior has done is precipitate a crisis in your belief not only in him but in you: you had a vision of the life you wanted, you thought he shared it, and then you found out he didn’t share it; you also now much confront the reality that you cannot single-handedly by your own actions control his behavior. You can do all the things that you believed ought to give him the opportunity to do and be all that you hoped he would, and that you believed he wanted, but you cannot act for him. That he didn’t want what you wanted and was willing to throw it all away for a daily fuck is one blow; the other one is that you are not able to FIX this, by your own efforts, and were never able to do this, because we only control ourselves. That you have not yet faced this realization is clear in your wanting to blame his ho-worker rather than him. It is a hard realization to face because it strikes at our own self-image and confidence but ultimately this realization is the one that will lead to real and lasting and positive change in you.

    I also want to say something about your daughters. Please do not subject them to life at home with a cheating narcissist who blameshifts onto his wife his own failings. It is a terrible model for them, and one you do not want them to see as normal or to absorb in their daily life or to seek out–unconsciously–when they themselves partner up. I speak from experience as the daughter of a cheater and a mother who would not leave him, despite my pleas to do so.

    • Right. The dreaded daddy issues. Either they end up married to assholes like dad or they go in the other direction and become OW themselves.

    • Adelante said, “I also want to say something about your daughters. Please do not subject them to life at home with a cheating narcissist who blameshifts onto his wife his own failings. It is a terrible model for them, and one you do not want them to see as normal or to absorb in their daily life or to seek out–unconsciously–when they themselves partner up. I speak from experience as the daughter of a cheater and a mother who would not leave him, despite my pleas to do so.”

      I, too grew up with a cheating narcissist for a father, someone who told me about his affairs and how it was all my mother’s fault. I grew up to marry three cheaters and abusers — I thought I was worthless. I’m 65 now, divorced from the third cheater/abuser for two years and I am only now figuring out that I am not worthless, I didn’t cause anyone to cheat and that I could never have single-handedly saved my marriage.

      Please, Doc, don’t let this be the example you set for your children. Get rid of the cheater; gain a better life.

  • Lawyer up with a super attorney and make sure he gets a job so you don’t have to support him. You have done the first hardest thing throwing him out.

    When I first started reading this column I came to it right when I was going through a divorce. I remember a woman saying her dad told it to treat it like business. Take the emotions out and handle it that way because trust me that’s how he is going to react by trying to get more out of you while he lives with mommie without a JOB.
    These guys usually have multiple side partners and yes it isn’t fair. I had to watch mine walk over to his married girlfriend my neighbor whose land was attached to ours every night. What was hidden was now in the open snd he enjoyed each moment snd coming home close to midnight on her 4wheeler. I would awake to see it each morning.
    They will beat you down till you can’t breath or think. Be aware of this.
    Today is my eldest daughters 25th Birthday and I lost the other daughter at 21 coming up three years this year. Life didn’t turn out as I planned or hoped.
    It has taken the 8 years this September that I found his text from when he send her a text on his birthday wanted a nude picture of her for his birthday that she sent watching me walk by his phone spying on us on a Sunday morning that I had decided to stay home from church to spend the day together.
    He had walked away from his phone and it dinged when I walked by. We are surrounded by woods and she could access our land without being seem by neighbors. To spy snd break into house when I wasn’t there snd he was at work.
    These people are a real piece of work and they will join forces to make life miserable through the divorce and after.
    It takes a long time to find peace but you will be glad when you finish up snd find the real peace of mind that comes forward. Prayers for your new journey!

  • Doc, smart, successful, lawyer-mom of 4 here. I could have written your letter 6 years ago. Thanks to CL I’ve reframed my entire life and I’m happy for the first time in 35 years. You are dead wrong that life without cheater will be worse than it is now!

    I love being a single mother!

    X never showed up to parent the kids (no back and forth)!

    I have better health, happier kids, more time, more money, better friends, better sex, better housing, better vacations, better work, better sleep than I ever had the 27 years I was with X.

    Your fears of the future are not real! It’s just trauma bonds in your head.

    Get a kick ass lawyer, go completely no contact. You’ll be able to write from Meh in a few years. Let the newly chumped know how wonderful life is AFTER you leave a cheater and gain a life!

  • I was in a similar situation in 2019. No children involved. I don’t recall who said it first – “Divorce is hard; marriage is hard – choose your hard”.

    I filed for divorce when I found an email between him and the AP referring to me as the Ex, even though he told me he had told her “everything.” We were trying to reconcile at the time. At that point, I could no longer trust anything that came out of his mouth, whether he had good intentions or not.

    I am pretty independent and self-sufficient, and I am a physician as well. But it still has not been “easy” in many ways. I recently started attending Divorce Care sessions online. I wish I had done it sooner, as it would have helped me to navigate the divorce and life afterwards with fewer bumps. We do need to trust our gut, but all the stress and emotion can affect our perception.

    Only you can decide if there is anything left to salvage. He sounds very weak – that can be difficult to respect in a life partner. Either path you choose will have it’s challenges. I wish you the best, and wish I could be there for you. I encourage you to look up Divorce Care online and register for a local group for support and insight to the future to help prepare you, so you’re not re-inventing the wheel and feeling alone. There is support for your children as well.

    • Yes this is exactly my issue…this has made him look so weak in my eyes and so pathetic…I just have no respect for him now, I want to respect the person I share my life with

      • Then you get that divorce and eventually you can find yourself a grown man, someone who is both strong and tender.
        He’s never going to be that man.
        You can save lives, Doc, but you can’t fix him or save your relationship. Most importantly, he isn’t genuinely interested in participating in his redemption or in the marriage. Plus, he’s stupid AF, and he’s not going to be visited by the Clue Fairy. Accepting that we can’t fix it is the hardest part. Once you do, you can let go.

  • A perfect family is not one where mom accepts abuse and betrayal, plays marriage police and pick me dances for dad so he doesn’t cheat again. Nope. A perfect family is one where the members – no matter how many parents – respect each other and are able to have healthy boundaries and live free of abuse.

    CL is spot on as usual – we must redefine what a healthy family is. I divorced both of my children’s fathers and my adult kids are rock stars in terms of their accomplishments (Ivy League education, careers, etc) and in their interpersonal relationships. They do not accept less than they deserve, don’t tolerate abuse or boundary violations, don’t cling to relationships that aren’t working, etc. I don’t believe for a second keeping their crap fathers around would’ve made them any better – likely worse.

  • Part of this whole sad phase of your life is that the process can be like a tree crashing down in slo-mo.

    We want things to end! That it stops wrecking our forest! We hope that giant tree is just a splinter.

    But it’s not a splinter.

    That tree has crashed right on the bridge to a better life. You’re blocked from that better life until that rotting tree trunk is chainsawed away so that bridge can be rebuilt!

  • Dear Doc… You are going to be ok. Let’s start there. Don’t get caught up in the “what ifs” and “but the kids”… because that will only keep you paralyzed.

    This was my experience… Mr. Sparkles was and still is a serial cheater. He didn’t get a character transplant when we divorced, if anything his entitlement way of thinking and living expanded because he was “in demand”… lots of single people out there with no boundaries and blind to red flags (my pre-CL self was this person, now I’m a smarter Chump). The likelihood that you have a unicorn that will never cheat again is HIGHER if you stay because you have now proven to him that he can do it… and you will eat the shit sandwich and take him back for the illusion of an intact family.

    My son was in third grade when Mr. Sparkles decided he was going to go all-in with one of his gym buddies… he was trying for an upgrade (her Daddy has money). Was it devastating for me and my son. YES. Were there tears every weekend (in the beginning) for both of us… YES. Did I hate Mr. Sparkles and miss and worry about my son… YES. But over time… stupid time that seems to slow down during this process of leaving a cheater… it got better. My son got accustomed to the new routine, as did I. I started having more time for me that I never had before because I was the full-time parent in my marriage like you are now. I used that time to heal and cry in the shower and make new friendships… so I could be a better self – and a better Mom – and give my son a peaceful and sane home.

    One thing… my state forces child custody mediation, a mandatory two hour session with the expected outcome being a 50/50 agreement. I SAID NO. I refused… I called Mr. Sparkles bluff (he wasn’t capable of parenting that much… he just wanted a reduced child support)… and guess what… when I pushed back… he folded… because cheaters are COWARDS. And as time went on… his weekend visits became intermittment… he never took our son on a proper vacation after the first one with Schmoopie and her kids was a total shitshow… and he shows up to take our son to dinner ONCE A WEEK… sometimes.

    What am I saying? Heck, I don’t even know except that I am six years out… single woman/single mom… working full-time… parenting full-time and raising a mighty kid who knows (at 15) that Dad isn’t a Hallmark fantasy… he is deeply flawed and is in no way a model for who he wants to be as he grows up. We survived… actually, we thrived. My son has had a stable home, food on the table, one sane parent… and life goes on better than you can imagine right now.

    Take the first step… talk to a lawyer. Don’t try to boil the ocean in to a tea cup… follow your heart and you’ll find your way and we will be here with you the whole way.

      • 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻Ditto!

        These types rarely if ever show up to parent for the long haul. After fighting for 50-50 for two years, XH never once followed through. In 6 years our minor child has spent exactly 10 overnights with x. Only two times in the past year.

        Kids are doing well – they see their dad as the daily drunkard pot smoking, raging, blaming, miserable person that he is and they choose to set boundaries and protect themselves.

        I’m the one sane parent they need. Single mothering is WAY easier than trying to parent with that cheating, lying, using, miserable XH.

  • Great advice here!

    As hard as it is to hear, there are more ugly surprises coming from your husband, Doc. If you divorce him, they will come quickly. If you continue to work on your marriage, they will leak out bit-by-bit as the years go on. He is not a loving partner to you, and whether you stay or go, he will not transform into one.

  • Doc,

    There is a message you will convey to your children either direction you go.

    Your legacy in this decision will teach them either to:

    a. Stay in a marriage at all costs regardless of the other partners failings. The proverbial “Ive made my bed now I must lie in it.” or “Til death do us part”. or “Stay in it for the childrens sake” You will convey and teach through your own life that an intact marriage is paramount and the best thing to do in their own future lives. This would be the example you give them.

    b. Leaving the marriage you give them the example to value themselves that they are worthy of a life without abuse if they ever encounter it. You give an example to value authenticly and they are worthy of respect at great endeavor on your part.

    There is no easy decision. Either will have a longstanding impact. A mothers instinct is to do what is best for her children even at her own detriment and peril. I understand why you are frozen.

  • Hey doc: my mother left my father after she discovered him boinking the neighbor/co-worker/landlord. The next day, she cleared out the house and their bank account and left him. Friends found her a place to live. She was a single woman with two small children (my sister and I were 5 and 3, respectively) in an era where she was considered a slut because she left a fuckwit. It was like she had a big fat “D” carved on her forehead. But being scorned was better than living with a cheating fuckwit who had a drinking problem and depression issues. Fast forward a few decades. My sister and I have been married to the same guys for decades. Our children are amazingly successful. Their relationships with their partners is fantastic. My father remarried and the children from his second marriage? Not doing so hot. Why? My father’s depression became chronic and his drinking escalated into severe alcoholism. .My stepmother admitted to me once that my sister and I got the golden ring by not living with him, that her children really suffered. I agreed with her. You are running around like a chicken without a head, making sure he feels loved and like he is somebody. He stacked that up against someone who was giving him blow jobs on his lunch break. Trust that as your kids grow, he will put himself above his family every time. You were, in effect, both parents. Stop clutching that fantasy of the perfect life. During your “perfect” life, he was doing jack shit. Well, that isn’t quite true. He put all his energies into fucking strange. Your children will be better off without that selfish man constantly putting them at the back of the line. Was it hard for my mother? You bet. You know what was harder? Living with a man who had no compunction about fucking someone 500 yards away from her.

  • Doc.
    My guess is this guy was cheating omg you long before you found out. I wish you wouldn’t have let him come back. I am thinking you suspected probably some time ago. Yes going forward your life will be different but it will be better. It sounds like this guy didn’t contribute much in the way of time or anything. Please get to an attorney. From your description there is nothing good to come out of this. I think the only reason he is back is he likes the good life you provide. You will be ok.

  • I think chumps in full trauma mode who’ve been boiled like frogs for years fail to notice how socially isolated we become while with cheaters/abusers. So when imagining life without the abuser, we envision only subtraction and not addition– how our lives will fill up with friends and adventures again in the absence of the malevolent oxygen thief.

    • This is an important concept. My experience anyway, is that once you leave you become even more isolated while everyone around you reacts, chooses sides, etc. COVID played a timely role in my situation. Plus my attorney gave strict instructions on how little I was to share. The divorce lasted 10 months and no one except a handful of my closest friends even knew. But, your comment reminds me I am still in that early phase. I really, really hope my life now will be about ADDITION! You give me some new dose of hope! I certainly, rationally, know that many people did not like my ex. His entitlement was overbearing and as even my adult children have said, “You couldn’t have a conversation with him.” I’m the bubbly, social butterfly that starts conversations with strangers in the grocery store line. Thank you for this little reminder today!

      • I am in somewhat of your same situation. I divorced in Nov 2018, retired in summer of 2019 (early, to get away from the ex, with whom I worked), and immediately moved temporarily away from home to embark on a stint as caretaker of my then-93 year old mother. Then we all got hit with covid restrictions. It’s been a tough and isolating time, but like you, I love the idea of “addition.” Despite restrictions, I have managed to add some new and positive things to my life, and am looking forward to the time when I can accelerate the process.

      • Oh, yes, in the aftermath we get that “broken smell” and our social stock keeps going down for a period. COVID doesn’t help. But slowly stock begins to build back up with each little distracting social connection until we start getting that breezy smell again and the dance card fills up.

        I think it helps to speed up the process to dump all Swiss friends and family members immediately and follow the Taoist credo: “If you want the universe to fill your rice bowl, clean it out.” It’s hard to relentlessly filter out bad eggs when you’re lonely but shitty people make you even lonelier. I test people first to make sure their ethics are solid before investing in any way because I don’t view infidelity tolerance as an idiosyncracy but an overall ethical red flag that will apply to everything else (in studies, infidelity tolerance correlates to “rape myth acceptance” among other woes).. I put them to the cackle test. If they hate cheaters and make raucous jokes at their expense, they make it to round 2. If they issue apologias for cheating and abuse, forget it. At the very least, Swiss people with their creepy infidelity tolerance will make you doubt your upgraded standards and dampen your sense of wicked humor, delaying meh and your acquisition of that irresistible “fancy free” vibe that draws in more worthy company.

        I’ve always been a social butterfly. I realized in retrospect that FW would get noticeably dark upon meeting anyone who looked like they could be my ally. Cheaters, like batterers, have super-radars for identifying people who might eventually help or support their victims and they give off an intangible warning odor, like psychic skunks.

        • “Oh, yes, in the aftermath we get that “broken smell” and our social stock keeps going down for a period.”

          Very true. This also happens when someone has a financial crisis or is somehow knocked down a few pegs. You find out who your true friends are for sure. People like to be around winners and are fearful that the bad things that happen are contagious. I for one love to hear stories where someone that has been knocked down ends up rising even higher in the end.

  • Damn. I feel bitchslapped by this article lol.

    This was a good one! Exactly what some of us needed to hear right after D-day.

  • Doc-I was a lot like you after I caught my stbx the second time he cheated on me.

    I swore my kids would NEVER sleep under any roof that I wasn’t sleeping under.

    I made the decision to move out and by a home near my kiss’s high school and all their friends.

    On the days that I didn’t have them-I would cry for hours.

    I was afraid that my kids would start doing poorly in school and doing drugs if they didn’t have their mother and father together.

    All of the things that I was afraid were going to happen-never did.

    As a matter of fact: my kids are thriving.

    And so am I.

    I never thought my marriage would end in divorce. I couldn’t see a life without my husband as we grew old together.

    Now-I can’t fathom EVER going back to him and my old life pre-divorce.

    That leap is such a scary thing-but completely worth it.

    You got this ❤️.

  • Right with you LFTT.
    I fought the divorce with the cheating spouse. I did love her and couldn’t imagine a life without her. Then she was gone…
    At which point I realized I had been living in a clanging bell tower for years because when she left she took the clapper with her. My brain was no longer inflamed with a constant percussive assault. Perhaps the best part was my relationship with my teen sons. It was no longer smothered by her preconditions. We could relate directly and openly. I am so grateful for those years.

    • I enjoy my time with my kids without my ex as well now (and a clean house). However, my ex’s harassment does not stop. She complains no matter what. All day, every day. She will manufacture crisis, scheme, rage, tries to hold me hostage by dragging out the divorce, and has now lost her marbles now that I’m dating and my kids have met the person (and likes them). Somehow I’m morally in the wrong for it but she gets a pass for years of affairs and remorseless cheating until it didn’t work out for her like she thought.

      Weirdly, the time with my kids has no issues but when I return them, they’re “emotionally struggling” and “need counseling.”

  • The only winning move is LEAVING.

    If they’re a cheater, they’ve broken the contract. Trust and safety are the ESSENTIAL components of a healthy relationship. You don’t have that with a cheating spouse. They don’t have it in their illicit relationship, even if they leave and get married. TRUST IS THE INEXTRICABLE SIAMESE TWIN OF TRUTH. Truth and trust are not components of affairs, even if followed by marriage between those involved. They’re a house of cards made of smoke and mirrors. Lots of bullshit required to self-will it into appearing legit. It’s absurd because trust and safety and comfort and security is the whole point and main attraction of a relationship (unless you just want a warm body to jack off with).

    Life with a cheater is a major energy drain. Depression, anxiety. Hypervigilance. Suspicion. Feeling crazy. Doubting yourself. Self-esteem in the toilet. Wondering. Hoping. Snooping. Checking. Not breathing deeply. Shoulders up next to your ears. No comfort, peace of mind, security. You don’t know that until you are away from it. There is nothing like the feeling of the cessation of great pain. But you have to wait a long time for it in the case of getting away from a fraud.

    He didn’t go on business trips very often, but was in the habit of calling me numerous times a day when he was away.
    I truly believed that was proof of loyalty and devotion.

    I have realized these past three years that my “marriage” was about me pouring more and more energy into it, a black hole, at the cost of MYSELF. Wondering
    why it felt like I was rowing and rowing and rowing but not getting anywhere. Little pieces of me got neglected and died every day, so imperceptibly I did not realize it. Frog in the water heating up for sure.

    Now I need every ounce of energy for emotional pain management, but it’s there, not getting wasted on a MIRAGE (marriage).

    A plant won’t bloom unless it has the energy to do so. As I recover, more energy will be available for blooming.

    A friend of mine got one of those pieces of a tropical plant that they sell in the drugstore in Hawaii. He brought it home and followed the instructions. Nothing happened. FOR AGES. Then he decided to throw it away. He went out to the garage and saw that it had sprouted.

    Wait for it……wait for it……be patient and kind toward yourself. You are in the process.

    • Great post. I always enjoy your stuff. Life with a cheater is a major energy drain. Trying to get them out of your life can also be a major energy drain as well. I envy the ones where the cheater just left and you didn’t have to try and fight them off like a zombie from a dead marriage.

      Regarding the proof of loyalty and devotion by checking in, I now look at things like “What time will you be home?” “Where are you?” as being for my whereabouts so they don’t get caught.

      The last three years of your marriage sound like mine- I described it as trying to not get fired.

  • Things had been rough for years, and my kids asked multiple times if we were going to leave. I always said no. In the end, we did separate. He chose to go far away, which I somewhat took as the end while somehow trying to reconcile against the odds. Frankly that period was a waste. In retrospect, I should have gotten an attorney earlier, but I didn’t. The games made me sick, and it was a relief when he started the divorce process. I was dead broke, but got through it.

    He hinted at wanting other women throughout our marriage and separation, so I took that as a possibility. My attorney said that the circumstances “smelled” like another woman was involved, but we never pursued that. I live in a state where you can file fault-based on adultery. I just wanted out without the expense of a trial. I got that.

    Both young adults went no contact when I went no contact during the divorce process and have remained so. The positive side of waiting was that I didn’t have custody issues, but the kids did indeed have their issues. I know other single moms whose adult kids went way off the deep end because the marriage wasn’t ended sooner, but mine are doing really well now.

    I like the phrase “broken father” versus “broken home.” Yes, I had my issues, but his broad strokes and big decisions are what broke the marriage.

  • Do they all say exactly the same! In August 2019 I, word for word, got the explosive ‘I can’t do this anymore’ with a theatrical head-holding flourish. It was real ham actor stuff, in keeping with his heritage as the son of an am. dram. mother. I nearly laughed until I started crying. As he announced that he was going away to get ‘headspace ON HIS OWN’ very loudly. I was stunned, blindsided, as I thought he was stressed at work. He told me he was leaving me as his opening words on his return. There was a large wet bottom mark on the front seat of our car which had not been there when he left! The AP’s, of course. They’d been on a lovely staycation. I went through the mire, then found the affair-proving emails 2 months later. The affair, with ex-gf from 26 years ago, was denied. I went NC immediately, and divorced him. All finished in December. Thanks to my wonderful warrior women friends and chumplady.

    The fact that so many of them say exactly the same words from the script, wherever in the world they live, however old they are, however long they’ve been married, no matter how many children they have or don’t have, whatever their line of work, just astounds me still. Should be taught in schools!

  • And there’s this: you already are a single parent. By you’re description, you’re doing it all! You may not be packing your kids bags to see daddy, but you’re lugging around more than enough emotional baggage.

    Here’s the deal with kids and divorce. If you stay strong, show them you’re fine and good and powerful, normalize their new reality as quickly as possible, demonstrate that the marriage is over… they will adjust quickly. But this back and forth crap with their dad is doing more damage than you think. They are living in limbo and are being set up for second guessing your divorce. All kids want their parents to stay together, so the longer you play this game the more they invest in that idea, and the harder they’ll fall when you guys eventually split and the longer their little brains will hold out secret hope of a reconciliation. It’s unfair to them. Close that door now, and weld it shut. Model strength and decisiveness. Do them this kindness. Cause this marriage WILL end. Either at your hand now or his later when he truly abandons you for the next ego boost.

  • Honestly the very best part of leaving (or in my case, being left by) a cheating FW is that I get to single parent. My kids are teenagers and knew way more than I thought and their biggest vocalized fear is that I will take him back someday. They visit him, reluctantly, but feel the peace that is our home – the one without his toxic and demeaning bullshit in it. It is hard to do it all alone but no harder, and a lot more meaningful, than doing it under his scrutiny. Good riddance to him. The kids are OK.

  • Lady, you’re a DOCTOR.
    A Doctor who was/ is doing most of the child care.
    While fuckwit fucked another woman.

    Yes, you have control and codependency issues (having him quit his job to spare him the uncomfortability of having to deal with the consequences of his actions,) but so what. Get some help for that.

    Don’t have this fraud be an example to your precious children.

    You need to quietly and with dignity put all your financial paperwork together and hire the best damn aggressive lawyer you can and dump this jerk. Make a new plan for how “happy family ” looks. Execute it.

    I was married to 39 years to the same kind of jerk who was a serial cheater and a selfish fuckwit. 4 children. Don’t spend a lot of your life having him manage you down and don’t manage yourself down.

    You are a kick ass. Now kick that ass to the curb.

  • “Don’t own what’s not yours to own. You’re not the “bad guy.” Dad had a girlfriend, that’s why you’re divorcing. I believe in explaining it to children, without editorializing, in age-appropriate ways.” <– I remember when I was finally divorcing my dick-ex and he said, "You're making me out to be the bad guy!" I said, "Well, you are the bad guy!" And he was, and probably still is. DocMcChumpin'. He IS THE BAD GUY. And who gives a flying crap if he doesn't like it when you say he's the bad guy. Leave his sorry ass to all the young things that he feels entitled to. He'll do it again and again and again. He is not a nice person. You will not have a 'perfect family' in the 'Daddy, Mommy, Children' family, but like CL says, you can still have a 'perfect family'. Please be the sane parent and get rid of the loser. Example boundaries to your girls, else they'll just go out and allow a loser to do the same to them. Trust me. I unfortunately know what I'm talking about. You WILL be okay! In fact, you'll be better than ever. We promise!

  • Hi Doc, I’m so sorry you are in the throws of this. I’m almost three years from d-day and your story and mine have walked along similar paths. It is beyond scary the choice you need to make. I too was in a “happy, loving” marriage with my best friend of decades until I discovered that I wasn’t. His affair was first 6 months, and then it was actually 9 months and then it was 14 months. The lies kept coming. I picked me danced like crazy and did things I now find humiliating. D-day number 4 in 8 months of his pretending to work on us and saying what I wanted to hear. I was being devalued and discarded even though I didn’t know it. His “reasons” were him justifying his entitlement. Kicking him out was the easiest and hardiest thing I have ever done. I now know his plan when I took him back after D-day #3 was to pretend to everyone how he was “trying” and “100% committed” and when I eventually filed he could tell people that it was my fault it wouldn’t work. Image management to the nth degree. Hold your truth and tell your truth. I won’t lie to you, the first year without him was hard. I dreaded the weekends without my son. I made sure that every weekend was planned so I wouldn’t be lonely. That eventually changed. There is a difference between being alone and being lonely. I realized that his neglect when he was here made me feel more lonely than now being alone. I now look forward to my weekend breaks and use them to spend some much needed healing and self-love. It took a long time but learning to be by yourself is a really, really good thing. As for being a single mom, LOTS of kids THRIVE with a sane single parent. They learn more about relationships, helping around the house, and they usually get more one-on-one time with their parent than before. My stbx was the “really good guy” that no one would believe would do this. He still calls it his “mistake”. LOL, now I know that his “mistake” occurred for over a decade, I’m not sure how many women and there have been prostitutes. I hate to tell you but I’m sure there is more to the story than you know. Please prepare yourself in case there is. The truth always has a way of coming out. My stbx’s gf (not ap) let me know that she broke up with him because he was cheating on her. She told me that she wanted me to know that I did the right thing by kicking him out. Some people don’t change – he was on dating websites as soon as he was kicked out. Unfortunately it takes time for the rose-colored glasses to fade and for those of us who were so fooled to see them for who they are – the people under the masks. I’m currently reading “Cheating in a Nutshell: What Infidelity does to the Victim” by Wayne & Tamara Mitchell. It might be a good one to add to your library and help make your decision. Trust is really hard to repair. All the best to you. I’m almost to Meh and my life is less lonely and more fulfilled then before. Hugs to you. LTT

  • CL & Chump Nation have already said it all.

    I am struck by one of the first things you said: “I earn a very good income as a doctor and also do most of the childcare, school drop offs/pickups and after school activities taxi-ing for our two daughters” and I got exhausted just thinking about how much energy your career and family took, and then I read about all the fabulous vacations you planned to help him feel special. Argh! You were already single-parenting, you just didn’t know it.

    I am outraged that he had the time and energy to have sex before work, and during lunch breaks- WTF?! Who has time for extracurricular sex like this except the entitled?! The balance of power was skewed here. Take back your power. Good luck! We are all cheering for you! You and your girls are a family.

    • Yes! This!! He was cranky because he wasn’t getting his daily before-work sex with the AP?!? WTF?! My therapist once said well, when you were faced with x and such challenge did YOU respond by cheating? Drinking? No? Why not? What makes you different? The problem is he is entitled and cake eating. Chumps brains don’t even go there because we are all in! I once told my FW that I would never cheat because I would never do ANYTHING to mess up my marriage. To me it had great value. To him, it was worth nothing.

  • The worst lies are the ones you tell yourself. You are mourning the dream — what you wanted to have but in fact did not have, and with this guy, will never have. You have been a single mother for a long time, even though you were technically married. It will be much easier for you after you drop the belief that you ever had a “perfect” marriage, because being a single parent means you get to control the life in your world, for yourself and your children, without the distraction and destruction of your FW mate being around. Sure the kids will have visitation with him, but he won’t be prepared in any way to parent, because he never has played the role. You have been doing it all on your own for a long time. The children will learn to be resilient, and when they become teens most judges will allow them to have a say in visitation. He will become tired with the work of responsible parenting. Love and guide your children to the best of your ability, and trust they will find a way to cope. Divorce is not the worst thing for a child to survive. Growing up with dysfunctional parenting, and bad role models for behavior is much worse.

    My son’s father always traveled with his work, so not much changed for my sons after we divorced. Early in their school years I looked for more suitable male role models and influences for my sons — teachers, coaches, music teachers. They saw different versions of what a family was in school. Divorce was not a big issue for them, most of their friends lived in families where the parents were divorced, or new families had blended. There is a new normal in our children’s world. My oldest didn’t marry until he was 32, my youngest has not married, he just turned 31. They want different things than I did at their age, and will live much different lives, with different expectations.

    The dreams and expectations of what your life should be set you up for disappointment. You made an investment in a FW. Some investments turn out to be losers. The best thing is to walk away from the sunk costs, and try to invest wisely with your new found discernment. It will be healthier and easier by far to live an independent life than to stay mired in an unhealthy marriage. Ask any of us at Chump Nation how we know.

    • The saying comes to mind: just because you spent a lot of time making a mistake doesn’t mean you have to keep on making it. A FW is a bad investment and logically you have to let it go.

  • Something to consider. There is a strong likelihood that he will end the marriage anyway. And then not only will you be discarded twice, but in the time that you spent trying to save the marriage (which is usually a one-way street), he will wear you down emotionally, may hide finances, and most likely will continue cheating. Plus your kids will live in a houseful full of unspoken tension. They will feel it. And then you’ll look back and feel foolish for having given him a second chance. This happened to me.

    I found out my now ex was cheating on me, with multiple Tinder chicks, less than two weeks after my beloved mother died unexpectedly, before my eyes. I was so shocked and devastated that I CLUNG to him. The two main people in my world suddenly were gone. “But I can’t lose both of you at the same time,” I wailed as I told him I was sorry about whatever errors I may have made in our 25-year relationship. Yes, folks, I was a serious chump!!

    So we went to very expensive RIC counseling, and I clung on for another four years, hoping, but not really wanting to know, that he had stopped cheating. Not only did he continue cheating, while denying it in counseling, he went the extra mile. Prostitutes!! $134,000 worth of them, including hotel rooms, lingerie, adult shops, fancy meals. A lot of it during the day when he was supposedly at work. I only found this out after he called it quits, saying I was the problem. By that time, he’d quit his lucrative job to start his own business, so the divorce was tricky. Three years later, and the business is going nowhere.

    I fought hard and was reimbursed half of what he spent on hookers. I also thought I couldn’t make it as a single mum. I have one unpredictable autistic son and a hormonal adopted one too. But here I am, in a pandemic, making the most of every day. I am way stronger than I thought. I got a good settlement and my own house, my kids are fine, and best of all, freedom from emotional abuse!! You can do it too.

  • I’ve identified with so many of these comments. Rowing and rowing and rowing and not getting anywhere. Having my then husband telling me that I didn’t appreciate him. His insecurities and resentment at my education and career, so when he cheated, it was someone more his level.

    I’m a lawyer with a well paying steady job. Ex was sporadically employed throughout our marriage. I kept spackling thinking that all I did for our marriage would be repaid and he would be a loving husband. That never happened. We were already separated when DDay came along. My husband was an addict and our house was never peaceful. Always chaos and drama and worry. He would disappear for days, only to return wrecked. He was home only for 3 hots and a cot, as someone said. I finally managed the courage to get him out. I found out later that he’d been cheating on me for most of our marriage in addition to the drugs. But, I had been so afraid for so long that I wouldn’t be able to make it as a single parent that I kept talking myself out of taking action.

    The more I thought about it, the more I knew that I already was a single parent. I had long thought of the kids and I as the three musketeers. Their dad rarely went with us on trips or family activities. I was the one who got them dressed, fed and to school every morning on my way to work. I cleaned the house when I got home after a full day, cooked dinner and got them to bed at night. He did almost nothing, and I was always wondering why I was so exhausted all the time. Marriage shouldn’t be so painful.

    Once he was out, it was more peaceful in the house. The kids and I started healing. Both kids wished I had left him a lot earlier. The longer he was out of the house, the more money I had in the bank. He was a huge drain on the finances as well. As horrible as it is to go through all of this, sometimes you just have to do it to make a better life. When I was feeling down I tell myself something I had read somewhere. “I am the hero, you are the zero.” I am the hero in my own story.

    I don’t have to deal with packing little bags for visitation as ex died of an overdose last May, just 8 weeks after the divorce was final. However, I think you might find that as time goes on, he will be less and less interested in spending time with your daughters. My husband was pretty involved with the kids when they were little. As they got older and had ideas of their own, he kind of drifted off. During our year of separation, he never came by to just see the kids. Only came by if he needed money or food from me.

    You can do this. It hurts. You will cry. It seems incredibly unfair. It’s necessary in order to get rid of a shitty situation. Read all you can here and reach out for support. We’ve all been through the wringer but life does get better. It’s not perfect, but it’s a lot better.

  • Sounds like your prize Manbaby toggles between his two mommies (until they kick him out), and plays with his babypeers during recess (the daytime)(until Girlbaby gets bored). Maybe after a few months realmommy told him to find his own place, so he crawled back over to wifemommy’s house. You should for sure keep married to Manbaby and continue to give him half of your assets, most of your energy, and pay (time and money) all the childcare costs.

  • Doc,
    There’s no reason to be afraid of being a single mom – you’ve been doing it your entire marriage. You are the one who has done the planning for the family. It doesn’t appear that he was invested in the life of your children. You have been the primary caretaker even though you work in a stressful field. He hasn’t been a parent. I know, I’ve been there, and one day you’ll realize that you’ve been both mom and dad for a long time.

    Help your daughter’s understand that women are not to be treated in this manner by throwing him out. In the long run, they’ll respect you and understand.

    First, though, get your ducks in a row so that you come out ahead financially.

  • Was just reading online about Anne Snyder, the woman who helped David Brooks blow up his marriage. She’s the Director of The Character Initiative. Graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, which is a highly Christian institution. Must not have been paying much attention while there.

    Cheaters are hypocrites.

  • I think going into lockdown in March had driven him mad and not getting his morning sex session before work was driving him crazy, so much so that one evening he just splurted it out “I can’t do this any more”.

    My God, woman! Let me get this straight: you took care of the vast majority of household tasks, including the children while working the typical MD hours, and he gets pissy because HE can’t get his morning sex?

    WTF?!!!

    It sounds as if you’re in the UK (use of “mum”), and anyone in the primary health care systems has been horrifically overworked during the pandemic, and I imagine that he finally had to take on some household responsibilities. Oh noes!

    I get that going through a divorce hurts horribly, and doubly so in a pandemic when you really can’t get the same degree of support that you might otherwise, but you can do this. You will look back in 5 years and see how much better your life is without having to adult on his behalf.

    You are already a single mum in all but name. Unless he brings in a LOT of money, he has no real value add to the marriage. It sounds as if he’s operating from a position of extreme entitlement. He takes and takes and when you can’t give because this is a global pandemic, then he checks out of the marriage altogether.

    Do NOT own his shit. You have a bunch of children. You don’t need a manchild.

  • I sympathise with you. Sending kids off to dad’s house used to be really hard for me. The breakup wasn’t my choice. My ex just upped and left me for the other woman. So sending the kids to her house was torture and yes I made him feel like the bad guy for that. But his OW is gone now. And my kids are doing much much better. They go to his house happily. And sooooo many of their classmates are now living in separated homes. In my daughter’s friend group, the majority of kids have single parents. All “good families”, all “good people”. It’s just the modern way now and I say HALLELUJAH – the old attitude that kept us all miserable and locked in slavery is changing!

    I look back on the past 2.5 years and marvel at how much happier I am without my ex and you will do the same. I think of all the things I did to keep him happy (sounds like you know that feeling – you sound like you’ve been putting in so much effort and he literally doesn’t care) and none of it worked to keep him. I think of all the regular sex I had with him to keep his mood stable. I do demanding work (wonder why I do it sometimes) and like you I was breadwinner etc yet like you I was doing the lions share of the hardcore parenting and house cleaning and I don’t complain about that but – I was a sex slave too and I did it all just so my kids wouldn’t live in a “broken home”. One night he punched his fist through a window and I wanted to leave him then but I didn’t because “broken home”

    So am I glad he had affairs and then left me? Hmmm. KIND OF. Because I’d have never left him due to my fear of “broken homes”. You see, it really traps people and once you’re free you will see sooo many examples of “intact” marriages that look like hell.

    Yes I used to look at single parent families down my nose. I never ever ever actually SAID that but it was hardwired in me. Now I am one! and so many of my friends are becoming single and realising that it’s better than remaining unhappy just to keep up an appearance!

    I look back on my formerly smug self and cringe….. but also pity her. Girl, WHAT were you thinking!?!?’

    I have girlfriends who left their husbands simply because they were unhappy. No cheating at all. I marvel at their strength. I’d never have had that strength. They’re modelling strength to their kids, saying you can leave a relationship if you’re unhappy. If they can do it, so can you. I wish I had had their strength. I kick myself.

    Leave him. Today. Now. Get it done while he is still single and you don’t have to deal with any other woman. Don’t let him introduce the kids to anyone for at least 6months or a year and don’t you do it either. They’ll settle into it better. Don’t let him GUILT you. Remember he doesn’t give a shit, he will stomp on your boundaries forever as long as you let him.

    So kick him out and don’t discuss it with him. Out out out. You’ve done it once, you can do it again.

    You will be happier. Eventually you’ll enjoy your week/ends off. You’ll send those kids with a smile one your face and their faces. You’ll be able to work and rest and reflect during those week/ends. You’ll love it. You don’t even need to find a new boyfriend. It can just be you and the kids. Complete! They will love it too.

    And here’s the thing: my kids don’t even want me and my to get back together. They were 5 and 6 when it happened.

    It’s going to be ok.

    Stay strong.

    • Thank you. This is really positive and empowering.

      I am so angry at myself for even having such negative feelings about single parenting/“broken homes”….I’m an intelligent woman…I know that has got to be so much better than living a lie and being miserable. It’s just letting go of my dreams that I had for our futures.

  • I haven’t read all the comments, but one thing screams out to me: If the c*nt whore wanted a life with him, you wouldn’t have your vile husband living with you right now. Another c*unt will come along and your husband will leave you.

    I don’t mean to be harsh, but I, like many on CN, have walked in your shoes. I put down the hopium pipe, endured the shit sandwich, cried for far too long and gave up way too many days/months/and over a year and then some feeling like shit, lost and depressed. It sucked, but then, Tuesday comes and it just gets better….so much better. But, you have to take a leap of faith and trust in the universe it will work out.

    If you can make it through medical school and be the super mom and thoughtful partner to your shitty husband, I have all the confidence you can not only get through this, but you will win in the end. You will find love again, if you want to, because you are already awesome.

    • Yep, you are so right, he had every intention of shacking up with her…too bad she didn’t have the same idea.

      …but then he tells me that he has no idea what he was thinking and that he doesn’t know what on earth got into him and even if he had gone to be with her that he would have regretted it and realised what a massive mistake he had made….and the hopium pipe reappears…because he was always such a lovely kind sensitive man, and this was just a stupid mistake right?!!!!

      • Lets summarize. So it was really your fault for him turning to someone else, then he figures he somehow lost his mind and didn’t know what he was doing (again not his fault) right after OW rejected him and now you need to get over it because it was “something” that happened and he certainly isn’t taking the blame. This guy will cheat again but he’ll be even more devious.

      • Hi ChumpDoc,

        There is a phrase out there, “Cheaters lie.” Your husband is a liar. He has no problem with lying or entitlement. He does and says what suits him best, including continuing to lie to you. It sucks to be lied to; we all get it. It is understandable to have hopium, but it is not healthy for you. In time, you will come to realize this. It is my hope, you realize it sooner rather than later, because you will suffer and drive yourself crazy for as long as you have hopium. It’s just one of those things, we all kind of have to learn on our own and in our own time. I feel for you, I really do. My cheater (2 of them!) blatantly lied to my face without any remorse or guilt because it benefited them (not to get caught). Both wanted me to stay and neither would stop cheating and tried to make me think I was the crazy one and denied my reality (gas-lighting). I am 5 plus years out from the first cheater and I stopped counting with the 2nd cheater. I don’t give a shit anymore. The mental freedom of leaving a cheating for good is heavenly. Please try to have confidence in yourself and know this isn’t about you and/or your kids, you are with an entitled prick. He will cheat and lie again. It’s in his DNA. He will say whatever he wants to you, so that he may benefit. You and your children deserve better.

        I really do believe you are awesome. Please try to have compassion and love for yourself. Some days will be hard, your head and heart will hurt, but you will move beyond it. This crap just takes time. You were and have been psychologically abused.

        • I want to retract “It’s in his DNA.” It is not in his DNA. It is who he chooses to be. He would rather lack integrity and blow up his family life and hurt everyone, but himself. He chooses to be shitty.

          You feel horrible about being with him now, because you already know he sucks and you know his words are just hopium.

          You will get through this.

      • You can tell him that a mistake is confined to “an action or judgement that is misguided or wrong”…as in ONE action or judgement. As CL points out so very wisely, cheating is a SERIES of actions and judgements over a prolonged period of time. So, your dirtbag husband did not make a mistake, he made a series of calculated decisions, everyday, to lie, cheat, steal, and abuse. That’s no mistake, that’s a well formulated plan, prepared and executed by someone with serious sociopathic tendencies. You should get away from that guy. Go mourn the loss of your “family dream” apart from him.

        I’m several years out of divorce and I still have moments where I mourn the loss of that dream. That’s ok. But, because I ended the marriage and moved on, I’ve been able to replace that dream with something even better: an authentic life for me and my daughter.

      • Do you really want to be his backup plan B???? Because he just told you that you are. Don’t settle for that. You AND your kids deserve better than that.

  • Doc,

    This letter sounds like something I would have written, right down to my fear and shame of being a solo mother. I still cry almost every time I write down my last name – the family name.

    Here’s one difference in our stories – the whore in my case was a marriage meddler. Instead of saying “oh, this is just about sex and I don’t want a relationship,” she was trying hard to win my husband by doing such things as: sending emails about how she was going to cook for him while naked every night, giving him money (yes, money even though he made twice as much as her), telling him he was perfect in every single way, letting him do whatever he wanted to her in bed, playing into that thing that made him feel like the big man, and ultimately, she tried to help him get me committed for my “mental health issues”…but that’s another story (and my only “m.h. issues” were due to them fucking with my mind).

    Did I do any of these wonderful things in my marriage for my husband? Yes, nauseatingly, yes. I was constantly worried about him feeling appreciated, loved, like the big man, giving him bjs, taking him on surprise trips to Japan, making him nice food….just like you. It was all so special! I loved him so much and I wanted him to be happy, so I did what I thought I good wife would do, and I made everything all so good for him.

    And like your husband, he eventually blamed me and said that I didn’t make him feel “wanted” like she did, and, she would do whatever S&M things he wanted…so she won the turd. Even in my low self esteem post DDay world, I am, by all accounts, more beautiful than her, much smarter, more accomplished in my career, more interesting, and my husband and I had 25 years under our belts that meant something; a shared history, inside jokes, a business, a home, future plans, a fucking family. I, like you, have sat around wondering why in the hell you would throw it all in for THAT? She’s gross – it made no sense to me (or anyone else for that matter).

    In your case, your husband would totally have stayed with that stupid thing if only she’d have let him. This can’t make you feel good, can it? Even though with every fibre of my being I wanted my husband and I wanted him to stay and love me (and he even offered to stay married to me, as long as he could go and fuck his girlfriend whenever he wanted to), but I kicked him out.

    And you know what, even though, 18 months later I still grieve horribly and everything is a shit show legally, I am SO PROUD of myself for saying NO. I am not a piece of shit. I was his wife for fuck sakes – she was just supposed to be the side piece. I was not about to play second fiddle to a boundary-less woman who lets my husband do whatever he wants to her body while I sat home to fold laundry, run the business, raise a child. Repeat-I am not a piece of shit. And neither are you. We are not the booby prizes. Our kids are not the booby prizes. We should not be the runners up – we are the main event. We are the lovely people who gave them a family, a home and love. They married us. Fuck him if he doesn’t value you and your family. Mine didn’t…he only wanted me and the family as the side piece while he was out doing whatever he wanted. NO.

    Boundaries. You are not the side piece. This will suck, but you can do it! It sucks more to be the booby prize. You are better than that. Hugs.

  • Oh Doc,

    I feel for you and your battered heart. I’ve been there and had the same thoughts and feelings. Really. But you are already a single parent so you’re going to be just fine. And so are your children. Some time off from them while they spend time with their dad will be a chance for you to figure out what makes you happy and do it. I have come to love this time and would never change it. And it sounds to me like all the good in your relationship came from you. Right now you’re trying to justify yourself and your worthiness of love in the face of betrayal. Stop. He is the one who isn’t worthy. Go shower that love on yourself and your children. And pick someone more worthy of your love next time. I have absolute confidence in your ability to rock your new life. You’re going to thrive x

  • Dear Doc:

    Newsflash: 1) You’re ALREADY DOING the single mom gig, but you’re doing it with a fuckwit albatross around your neck. It gets easier when you don’t have a disgusting, contemptible fuckwit in your house

    2) You will never go back to your old, happy joy filled life, attached to an Albatross Fuckwit. The only way to ever go back to that happy person is cutting the Fuckwit loose.

  • Bite the bullet… You will never love him the same or look at him the same.. Uou can forgive possibly but then again you will look for the red flags for the rest if your life. Thanks to him, he has created doubt and a fear in your heart now. I wasted many years on someone who didnt love me and the kids as he professed. His love was his dick and himself.

    Karma will come for him. Since he left and broke our family…he has been engaged 4 times and married in 2 yrs.

  • DocMcChumpin’ –

    You’re already doing 90% of the parenting and marital care. Now imagine doing 100% of the child care without dragging the Entitled Dick along too. Think about how much easier it is to get stuff done without a big song and dance of why the Prince of Entitlement can’t do it.

    But YOU, the PHYSICIAN, surely have the time and energy to do it, plus bring home the most money, hurry up with dinner and could you pay this bill for me (fucking around on your SO takes money – you have more – why don’t YOU pay for HIS philandering).

    Yeah, screw that noise.

    You are a family without him. Your family is BETTER without him. He is dragging you under. He imperiled your health. He took the risk of fucking a subordinate (and possibly getting slapped with a lawsuit and losing his job) because he is an entitled idiot.

    You’re alone in this marriage now. You’re dragging along a marital corpse. Cut the line. Let it go. Find the divorce attorney other divorce attorneys fear and take care of yourself and your kids.

  • Oh wow! I really needed that bitchslapping!! Even reading it back it makes me cringe how pathetic I sound, this has weakened me.

    All my life I have wanted what I had (or thought I had) and it is so hard to accept that not only have I not got it but I actually never had it. We are fed the story that the dream is getting married to a wonderful man and having kids and watching them grow up together, and now I feel like to not have that, I have lost.
    I need to reassess and see what I have won…a life without a self-centred leech.

    It’s not so much the being a single parent that makes me sad, it’s knowing that there will be some Christmases/Birthdays/weekends etc that I don’t get to share with my girls because he messed up. I suppose I always thought that I would be there for every special moment…especially when they are young…to not be able to because he is a selfish weasel is upsetting.

    It’s hard coming from a family where divorce has never happened, it feels like bringing shame on my family, my Dad said to me “we don’t know what to say or how to help because no one has ever been through this before in our family” he wasn’t being unkind or judging but just a bit insensitive…makes me feel like I’ve messed up because I couldn’t hold my family together.

    CL you are so right…about everything, but so on point with the bit about “my family needs to look normal” thing, that’s the bit I was grieving the most. But why should it matter what my family looks like as long as we are happy, and if that is me and my girls then so be it….I know I’ve never been this unhappy in my life and there is only one reason….FW!!!

    • I totally get this. No divorce in my family either, and I thought that after 25 years I was out of the woods for divorce. I feel like a failure…but then I bitch slap myself. You don’t know that you’ll miss out with the kids. My daughter tried 50/50 for about six months and then was like, fuck that! He’s do damn boring she can’t stand to be over there. Now she sees him every second weekend. Imagine if you stay with him…you will be paranoid, miserable, and then, like most of us here, he’ll monkey branch to someone else when he finds them. It’s not you-it’s him. The new world is not heteronormative – bring on the change! Life without a cheating fuckwit is the new you.

    • I completely understand. even though my sons are grown and have wonderful lives, they so love our family get togethers, and I hate messing that up! Also, I was divorced many years ago, but now after discovering my husband of 37 years has been leading a double live and fucking me over with strangers he met on AFF, I am going down the divorce road again. I have no other choice! I think that you must leave too and because of all the amazing support on CL, we can do it!!

    • Honey, when you file for divorce, you ask for time on all the big days. At least 1/2 of every birthday. Christmas Eve and every Christmas morning. (He can have them in the afternoon when the magic has worn off). Mother’s Day. Your birthday. Negotiate that both parents can go to practices, games and school events.

      And let me tell you something as a teacher (40 years at the HS and college levels): You will always miss big moments with your kids. They are separate people moving through the world. A lot of their “big moments” will be with peers or at school or even when they sit in their rooms brooding over a first boyfriend. Step out of the gauzy view of parenthood and see it in real terms. You will have plenty of huge moments with your kids. And what you give them will live inside them and guide them even when you aren’t there. Your STBX is not a hands-on parent now. It’s likely that he will lose interest in being a Disney Dad after a while.

      You don’t have a crystal ball, so there is no knowing how, exactly, things will turn out. But you can consciously create a wonderful life that is more reality-based than the fantasy you were trying for. That’s not to say you can’t someday have the wonderful husband and stepfather to your kids. There are a whole bunch of male chumps on this board who would be awesome partners. Once you have time on your own, you can “fix your picker” so you can find someone who is your equal.

    • You are not pathetic. STOP! You are not to berate yourself for being a trusting wife dealing with the trauma of infidelity. Don’t become your own worst patient.

      It might be helpful to brush up on some reading on the neuroscience of trauma and the stages of grief (particularly anything that focuses on infidelity).

      You are experiencing a death; the death of a marriage, the death of the stability you felt you had, the death of an ideal you heavily invested in. It is discombobulating. You amygdala has been hijacked. That is why “no contact” or “grey rock” is imperative. You have to remove yourself from the situation and your perpetrator in order to properly stabilize yourself so that you feel more grounded.

      Do not victimize yourself further by putting yourself down. Everything you are feeling and experiencing is within the range of normal and to be expected in these set of circumstances. You are good.

    • Faithful Catholic here from a religious family who married into a devout Catholic family. Divorce? Haha. Well there is now.

      And, they came on the journey with me, though they didn’t understand divorce. But, they understood love and compassion. They understood ethics and morality. My family bond is strong. Even my relationship with my in-laws is really good. Everyone knows what he did and how he’s continued to lie. No one has held it against me.

      I shared readings and videos. I shared what my counsellor and priest advised of me. All this to lend legitimacy to the seriousness of the damage of cheating and the psychology of the cheater.

      As for your fear of missing special times with the girls. That all depends. I have written into the parental agreement that we are to always be able to see the kids on their birthdays and on our own birthdays. In three years, I haven’t missed a thing. My ex, however, has chosen not to see the kids on his own birthday for three years and his missed half of their birthdays (“Nah, I’m fine seeing them and celebrating on my day with them). We also have split the high holidays. We alternate Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. At Easter, his family does Saturday, mine does Sunday with the kids). Same with Thanksgiving. So far, it’s working. But it’s all written into the agreement. Just a thought…

  • I think it is so hard to find out they don’t want the dream life you were working on and maybe never wanted it. We moved to a new city for my ex-h dream job. I found a great, high paying job. We moved into our dream house at his insistence – I wanted something smaller at first, but he wanted our “forever home.” He bought me a much loved and wanted dog as a housewarming present. We went to Hawaii for vacation. We were trying for a baby.

    Eight months after we moved in, out of the clear blue, he told me he wanted a divorce, was leaving, no discussion. He enrolled in a college course even though he had a degree, moved into a dorm – mind you, he was 34, so I had no idea a 34-year old man could even live in a college dorm – and started partying with undergraduates, including his 19-year old girlfriend.

    I got his bills for quite a period and he was doing things like going to Waffle House at 2am. I couldn’t believe he would throw away his job, our dream house, Hawaii … for a dorm room and Waffle House. It’s impossible to understand because a normal mind does not work that way.

    You will be happier, I promise. You will have a peace you won’t know with him around.

      • I agree with this. It is really weird when you find out they don’t want what you’ve been building towards. In my case, it was a home and a business in a foreign country. It took a huge commitment for a looooong time to get us there. And then, POOF! He’s gone. Why bother faking it?

    • Omg, Cheesy, your post made me laugh! You are a good writer! Agreed, how DOES a 34 year old move into a dorm? Does he retake the SATs? Does he resubmit high school transcripts from 18 years prior?!? Can any of us seriously imagine going from your own home back to a DORM room?? Did he have a roommate that was 18? Was that roommate like “my roommate is almost old enough to be my dad!”?

      We have some super good stories on CL. The through line through ALL of them, though, is there is something wrong with these Freaks. Truly, something wrong with them.

      Ok, I have to ask – did he last through 4 more years of college??? Cheesy, you are so much better off!!!

      • Ha, Chris! As anyone on this site knows, it took a lot to get to a place where I could see the humor, but luckily I do.

        I literally have no idea how a grown man arranges to live in a college dorm. I can’t imagine my parents’ reaction when I was an undergrad if a man in his 30s was bunking down the hall. I’m sure he was the only resident served with divorce papers there though!

        He didn’t end up with a degree there, just a lot of expensive credits I imagine he had to pay full price for since I gave him a lot of cash so I could keep the house (I couldn’t face moving on top of everything else at the time). Seems like an expensive boondoggle to me, but at least he got to impress college kids with his wit and wisdom over late night hash browns and eggs.

  • Doc, Aside from what everyone else has already said, one reason your reconciliation isn’t really working is that Cheater has a big empathy deficit. This is a huge character problem common in these people, based on my own experience and what I read here.

    He thinks he showed remorse by leaving his job and that makes it even. Huh. Your marriage is not about making some theoretical scale balance–cheating in the marriage on one side/quitting a replaceable job on the other–not that those scales would balance in any event. There is NO balancing the scales here. Your heart was broken. You were lied to and deceived and manipulated and gaslighted by this selfish man. And he thinks doing ONE THING fixes is. He has no idea how you feel, what it is like to love and be betrayed, to have your heart broken and your dream crushed.

    The problem is he has NO EMPATHY. And empathy is one of the human characteristics that make us good people–good parents, good friends, good employees, good spouses. It’s the ability to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and either carefully choose not to hurt people or to make REAL amends when you do.

    When I read your letter, I see that you are really already a single parent. You have a demanding full-time job and still do almost all of the work with the kids. You do the planning in the marriage. You are working overtime to make this jackass happy but what comes back to you is BETRAYAL. You are already a single parent. File for divorce and make it official. He’ll have to get a job and contribute to your household income for support. You can use that money to hire a housekeeper or after-school nanny person if you need one.

    The world is full of good people. Get rid of this user. He’s missing some important human pieces. Take a few years and build a life where (while he has the kids) you can take yourself on a spa vacation or you can take the kids on a fabulous trip. Learn to enjoy life without towing 200+ pounds of jackass behind you. Then fix your picker because you will attract a lot of other good people if you learn to know them when you see them.

    • I realize now that I knew I would be a single parent when I conceived my sons. I just thought I would have more reliable financial support from their dad — a fine example of the least he could do. It is and always has been his loss, it has to be an empty feeling to be an absentee parent

      When chumps realize we don’t have to have the “trimmings” to have the authentic life experience, we realize we are better off without dragging around the dead weight of the FW. Part of fixing our picker is correcting our own preconceptions.

      As always, my regards to you LAJ!

  • You are not pathetic. STOP! You are not to berate yourself for being a trusting wife dealing with the trauma of infidelity. Don’t become your own worst patient.

    It might be helpful to brush up on some reading on the neuroscience of trauma and the stages of grief (particularly anything that focuses on infidelity).

    You are experiencing a death; the death of a marriage, the death of the stability you felt you had, the death of an ideal you heavily invested in. It is discombobulating. You amygdala has been hijacked. That is why “no contact” or “grey rock” is imperative. You have to remove yourself from the situation and your perpetrator in order to properly stabilize yourself so that you feel more grounded.

    Do not victimize yourself further by putting yourself down. Everything you are feeling and experiencing is within the range of normal and to be expected in these set of circumstances. You are good.

  • This paragraph at the beginning: spot the contradiction. “We had such a perfect family life, I earn a very good income as a doctor and also do most of the childcare, school drop offs/pickups and after school activities taxi-ing for our two daughters aged 6&8.”

    It’s not your job to turn yourself inside out to create the perfect family life. It’s a hard and important lesson for us chumps to learn how to hold others accountable, not take everything on ourselves.

    • Right. Just because you can do it all, doesn’t mean you should. Correlary to that is allow people to help. EXPECT people to do their fair share. Insist that they do, but a big red flag for me is someone always trying to get out of doing the hard work, happy to leave it to you with flimsy excuses or something (anything) better to do. That is not a partner that is a User.

      Accept help gracefully. Give back when you can. I was so fiercely independent that this was hard lesson for me to learn. Chumps and women especially are like, if I just work harder, do more, I will fix him, the marriage. No. Just nope. You are likely only getting trickle truth or half truths from the FW that has you chasing your own tail and foraging off into the weeds after unicorns. The skein does not need untangling because the basic tenets for a relationship (or even friendship!!!!!!!)have been violated. You don’t need to know anything else. Rest assured there is a lot more to the story and you don’t need to know it. Trust that they suck. On every channel (sad sausage etc) You just need to know enough to get out. Lies and cheating are dealbreakers. Ultimately You only have power over yourself.

      You cannot control what happens to you, only your response to it. This is so important. It is powerful. You get to choose how to be and no one can take that from you if you refuse to let them. You can help create opportunity but you deprive people of their autonomy when you don’t let people strive and struggle. Respect for others starts early and continues on. Choose the path less travelled.

  • The only things I would like to add are there is a difference between forgiveness and reconciliation; you already have a whole family (you and your 2 daughters); and reframe your thoughts…it will help!

  • I should probably clarify…the daily morning sex sessions were with the AP…before they trotted off to the office…I was too busy for any of that, making sure I wasn’t late to work and the kids weren’t late to school!!! Apparently his work place weren’t too concerned about tardiness…they just turned up after they were done every morning…no-one cared “as long as the job got done”

  • I’ve been married twice and both husbands have cheated on me. In my first marriage I was only 21 with three little babies when I was divorcing. I blamed the woman. I felt it was a battle between her and I over him. She had bewitched him.

    Now I’m 56, and I know that it was not some seductress who ruined our marriage. It was the ex. It was the ex in both marriages. I no longer charge the other women with crimes. I have lay it right where it belongs in the cheating ex-spouses lap.

    In fact because I know that he has lied to those other women, I feel sorry for them. They’re not sultry seductresses. They’re just people who want a relationship and he’s lied to them. The fault lies with him. I do blame myself for some things but mostly just for staying with him so long and giving him so many chances.

  • Single mom discrimination is real. I am running into it in Austin after my apartment pipes burst. Grateful that women have rights now that we didn’t before. I wonder if husbands cheated less before no fault divorce and all of that. I kind of doubt it.

    • So sorry about the pipes. I am in Dallas area working on my dear brothers house, and getting it cleared. We lost him and his wife a week ago. So far so good. I guess we won’t know for sure until about Sunday when the full thaw is done. We were here in time to keep the water running, and the cabinet doors open for heat.

      • I am so sorry for the loss of your brother and SIL. I can’t imagine how bleak the world must be for you now.

        <3

        • Thanks NSC.

          I am still doing what I have to do. I think I am saving my grieving until I can get home. My SIL has been sick for a while and she was under hospice. My brothers death came out of the blue. He had a backache, went to emergency and they discovered he had cancer that had spread to far. He never made it out of the hospital. He never gave us, or any of his close friends any clue that he wasn’t doing well.

          He mentioned the back ache to me, and I said make an appointment with your dr, and get it checked out, and I will be there a week from now to stay with wife if you need any treatment. (I was thinking he had a kidney infection) He evidently got worse the next am, He died early in the am on the 9th, and she died at home a few hours later on the same day. She was with hospice.

          I was still getting over my medical procedure, and didn’t make it there in time. I did talk to my brother for the first few days, until he became unresponsive.

          He was my best friend, aside from my husband. We talked and texted daily, though we were many miles apart physically. We usually visited at least twice a year, but covid put the crimps on that for the last year.

          Things are much better weather wise here in Dallas now. I hope the folks who lost water and electricity are getting back up to normal.

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