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He Says He ‘Never Went Looking for It’

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Dear Chump Lady,

I can’t believe I am writing this but I really need some help. 5 weeks ago I discovered my husband was having an emotional affair with a colleague. No sex. But intimate kissing and real emotional connection. They have both said they love each other. She tried to break it off and my husband chased her and bought her expensive gifts to the value of £600!!

DDay was the worst day of my life (followed by many more unbearable days) I was completely blindsided. I though we were happy — yes this year has been tough juggling 2 jobs and 2 kids during a pandemic. But we are a team. We don’t fight, we don’t argue, we have good conversation and a good sex life.

We have been together 17 years, married for 7, childhood sweethearts. We have two gorgeous children aged 9 and 4. A beautiful home and a good life. We are in the best financial position we have ever been in and don’t really have many money worries.

So I really can’t get my head around it. He says he never went looking for it. It was a friendship that crossed a line. He has admitted he loves her and he ‘hates’ himself for it. He said he wants to work at our marriage, he still loves me and the life we have built together. I believed him. Let him back home after 10 days and we had a good couple weeks together. We were laughing an joking, intimate, making plans for the future and working through the rollercoaster of emotions we are currently going through.

But he has just admitted he is struggling with what he has done. He still has feelings for her and he needs some space to think. I am crushed.

I have been heartbroken but so reasonable and I now feel he has taken my kindness for weakness. He is now at his parents trying to get his head right. Even now he says he loves me and doesn’t want this to be the end. But I’m now starting to think that I can’t live with a man knowing he loves somebody else. It’s torture.

I desperately want to believe that he won’t walk away from me and our family. But in his eyes I see he is tortured. And my gut is telling me he has already checked out of our marriage but is just too afraid to say it.

Am I kidding myself at the thought of reconciliation here. I am making myself ill with the stress of if all.

Hannah

Dear Hannah,

You aren’t making yourself ill — the situation that your husband created — is making you stress sick.

Stop feeling sorry for him! What you’re suffering is the result of his CHOICES.

But in his eyes I see he is tortured.

Oh the poor busted sausage. Out £600 and his unconsummated love for his Schoompie. (Snort. But we’ll get to that in a minute.)

I don’t see anywhere in this letter where he’s tortured about hurting you and your kids. Where he regrets throwing away the good life you built together — for a friend! Whom he only kissed!

I don’t see the sorry, only the unbridled entitlement that you’ll stick around and give him “space” while he “thinks.”

Fuck him very much.

So I really can’t get my head around it.

Cliffs notes: He cheated on you, and wants to you be plan B while he makes up his mind. Cue the pick me dance.

He says he never went looking for it.

Uh huh. He just bought it a £600 present. His intentions are irrelevant (and lies), his choices tell the tale. It doesn’t matter if Schmoopie was presented to him on a platter, or if he took out a classified ad. If he tripped into pussy, or had it custom ordered. He’s declared his allegiance to someone else. That’s where his energy goes. That’s where his head is. (Um, both heads.) That’s what his actions say.

It was a friendship that crossed a line.

He chose to cross it.

He has admitted he loves her and he ‘hates’ himself for it.

Oh the poor star-crossed sexual-harassment-lawsuit-waiting-to-happen. Oh the self-loathing that purchases Schmoopie gifts. Did his hatred of himself buy you anything? No?

People don’t exchange I love you and blow up their lives for kisses. He’s minimizing his affair. Anyway, emotional, physical, he’s checked out. And he’s insulting your intelligence and playing on your desperate hope (very common at 5 weeks out) that you’ll believe this is a minor crime. (A matter so trifling and inconsequential as to abandon his family. Just friends! Who snog!)

He said he wants to work at our marriage, he still loves me and the life we have built together.

He still loves a lack of consequences and all his material possessions.

I believed him. Let him back home after 10 days and we had a good couple weeks together. We were laughing an joking, intimate, making plans for the future and working through the rollercoaster of emotions we are currently going through.

In other words, you levied no consequences and pick me danced.

But he has just admitted he is struggling with what he has done.

Bullshit. This is some noble sad sausage mindfuckery. He’s not leaving you to pursue Schmoopie, no, he’s alone suffering with the guilt! He whips himself nightly while saying the rosary.

He still has feelings for her and he needs some space to think. I am crushed.

He needs space to pursue his affair unhindered. He took 10 days with you, now he’s got to reel the OW back in. Rinse. Repeat. Everyone pick me dance for the glory of him.

If he wants to “work on his marriage” he needs to STFU about his feelings for Schmoopie. You aren’t his therapist. You’re his betrayed wife. This isn’t the behavior of someone who respects you or his commitments. Is that ACCEPTABLE to you?

I have been heartbroken but so reasonable and I now feel he has taken my kindness for weakness.

He took your weakness for weakness.

Look, I get it, I’ve been a chump. Start protecting yourself and start enforcing boundaries. I know you’re in shock, but it’s time to take back your power and call the tune. Talk to a lawyer. Move the money. Do all the things.

He is now at his parents trying to get his head right.

He’s now hiding from the consequence of his actions. Probably telling mom it’s bingo night as he hooks up with OW. (I’m sorry, I just read millions of these stories.)

But I’m now starting to think that I can’t live with a man knowing he loves somebody else.

Good! LISTEN TO THAT VOICE! Why on earth would you want to be in a marriage with someone who is devoted to someone else? Who cannot appreciate the life you created together? Who doesn’t feel SAFE? Who makes you SICK with worry?

Now. What are you going to do about that? Sometimes you must leave a marriage because you VALUE marriage. And you refuse to accept a sham.

I desperately want to believe that he won’t walk away from me and our family. But in his eyes I see he is tortured. And my gut is telling me he has already checked out of our marriage but is just too afraid to say it.

YOU say it. YOU decide. Quit orbiting. Quit letting him decide your fate.

He’s tortured by his wandering dick?

Put him out of his misery. Call a lawyer today.

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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.
  • Cmon….it’s plain as day what’s going on here.

    Schmoopie isn’t all in and he needs a backup plan. He’s not sure if she’s going to change her mind so he’s not going to throw away his life until he’s sure.

    Are you OK with being plan B?

    • I suspect my husband Plan B’d me and the children several times and so he never admitted to anything, even when I had proof. Because he wasn’t the sure other woman would stick with him. I was, after all, a good enough wife appliance. And good kids! Better than nothing in a pinch. Run, lady, run. Be someone’s adult sweetheart!

      • Same here, Trudy. Fuckwit was all-in with Schmoopie and devaluing me, until Schmoopie dumped him – not for her husband, but for her kids’ soccer coach 🤮. Then fuckwit lovebombed me because, well, back to Plan B! No need to interrupt the kibble supply! It took me months to figure out why it all felt so creepy, and almost a year to wring the truth from him.

        In the end I “won” the sparkly turd and the full measure of his creepy lovebombing, but decided not to let it be his choice any longer. Sorry Charlie, I’m nobody’s plan B. Marriage literally means no more pick & choose based on what’s available moment to moment. If you’re still shopping, you’re not in a marriage. Buh-bye, good riddance.

        • DontFeelLikeDancing – you have expressed it in writing PERFECTLY:

          “Marriage literally means no more pick & choose based on what’s available moment to moment. If you’re still shopping, you’re not in a marriage. Buh-bye, good riddance.”

          This^^^^ Exactly this, all day long!!!

          After all these years, I’ve realized that what keeps chumps in shock and terror is the loss of the intact family unit, it’s not really the loss of the fuckwit.

          A family unit is such a sacred, precious thing to us, it’s paramount that our children feel safe and emotionally balanced. When fuckwits pull this shit, they always make sure you’re good and trapped when they do it. Kids, the white picket fence and whatnot. And you know what? I think they truly enjoy watching you suffer and panic. They enjoy the power of setting off the nuclear bomb and watching everyone scramble in terror. It’s literally just demonic.

          Hannah – I know it’s scary and terrifying, and your hoping to somehow repair a broken dam with a bandaid, but save your precious time and sanity.
          Lawyer up right now and get the hell out of this mess, like yesterday. This is a completely unfixable situation, ask me how I know. I wish I could get in a time machine and tell give myself this same advice 9 years ago.

          This man does not love you. His suffering? Fuck that. What about YOU and YOUR suffering? Who’s making YOU happy? What about YOUR needs?

          You need to take back your power and protect yourself, your children and your assets right now. He will never stop and will never change. Time to stop being the confused lovesick wife begging for scraps of attention from an asshole who doesn’t deserve you, and transform into the badass Mama bear that you are. Get angry. Make a plan to get out and protect those kiddos. You got this, queen. Remember who you are!

          • I want that time machine, too. The lawyers are splitting assets, but how do I get back the last 10 years of my life???

    • And someone said the words Child Support to him. And Divide the Assets.

      If he can’t put his own wife and kids first he is a low life. She will see more evidence of his low character in the future.

      His wife’s pain means nada to him.

      • Yup.

        My FW father’s words when faced with the possibility of divorce the first time were “I’ll be ruined.” That tells you where his head is at and where his loyalty lies. NOT with his family. “I’ll be ruined” means “you’ll take half my money and I don’t like that” or “my image will suffer” or “who will wipe my ass when I’m older?” or any number of things that do NOT mean “I love you and I’m sorry and I take responsibility and I will do whatever it takes and dump schmoopie(s) and ….”

        My parents divorce was final a month ago. They were married 54 years. My mom had wanted a divorce for a long time. She could have just ridden out the wave and looked forward to being a widow. But he made the last year together hell for everyone in his family and so she quietly and covertly met with attorneys over the phone (this was all during Covid so she’d go for a drive in her car and do a call or she’d come over to my house and do it with me), opened her own bank account, transferred money (FWF did know about that and “approved” it), and then BAM! Served him divorce papers while he was at their vacation home in another state. Went grey rock for a few weeks then NC ever since.

        Hannah, do yourself and your kids a favor and kick him to the curb. Don’t let him come crawling back from his parents’ house with you as Plan B. When he finds another schmoopie, you will be right back where you are now. Fuck him. Your kids are better off without this sorry excuse for a father in their lives for the time being. He is abusing you and abusing them and setting them up for a lifetime of trauma and trauma-response behaviors that will cause everyone a lot of harm and heartache. If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your kids. Show this fucker of a “husband” that there are consequences to his shitty behavior and kick him to the curb!

        • Some words of warning for women staying in decades long marriages to cheaters. They made find themselves suddenly poor rather than widowed and wealthy, or at least comfortable in old age. The cheating fuckwits can spend all the money or change their wills, leaving their assets to the mistress and love child/ten.

          I’m thinking of one couple, nicknamed the Bickersons, where she stayed for the long haul. I wonder how many abortions Howard the Whoremonger paid for and if his three adult children have a half sibling (or two or three) they didn’t know about until he croaked.🤦‍♀️

          • Yes, Sucker, true. (BTW, what is a “Saffa?”)

            In the end that is what made my mother file for divorce from FWF. She wanted a guarantee that if she died first that her half of the money would go to the kids. She wanted a “bimbo clause” in the trust documents that guaranteed us kids would get an inheritance from her. FWF refused. Said if she died first it was all his money and kids would get “whatever is left over.”

            That was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Not the years of whoring around, not the abuse, not the neglect and abandonment and disrespect. It was mama bear looking out for her cubs.

            I do wonder if FWF has other children. My mother says she doesn’t think so. Who knows.

            I know of a couple men who suddenly “lost their jobs” as highly-paid doctors ….just in time for divorce.

            Take control over your own life and leave the FW. And like Ivana Trump said, “don’t get mad, get everything!” My mother got her half mostly in cash while FWF is going to have to take out a loan to subsidize his lifestyle. Idiot.

            That’s why it pays to make the first move. My mom did all the work behind the scenes and when she filed for divorce the assets were automatically frozen and FWF couldn’t make any moves to hide anything. Especially since I was managing their finances by then and knew where everything was.

            • I’m SO glad to read your mum got away from your FWF after years of abuse. And that you (go you for helping her !) and your brother will inherit at least something from your father. I see it as compensation for emotional pain and suffering.
              A Saffa is a white South African who fled the homeland after apartheid ended. Most of them went to Australia, UK or the States.

          • Yep, this is a good point. My ex should have had at least $200,000 in his 401K, bare minimum. He had $4000. The money went to other women. My inheritance from my father is the only thing that saved me, otherwise I’d have been financially destitute while dealing with his betrayal and the divorce. 20 years of working and we had nothing. Besides my small inheritance, which I’m extremely grateful for as it’s allowed me time to heal, I’m starting over like a new adult.

          • Gordon Getty (💰💰💰) had two families. One with Ann, his legal wife, the mother of his sons, living in San Francisco. And then he had the side piece down in Los Angeles, who birthed his daughters.
            Rich, middle class or struggling financially. Doesn’t matter.

        • My mother stayed married for 40 years. It was a very unhappy marriage. No cheating, that I know of, but plenty of verbal and emotional abuse, for her and all 5 children.

          She had her own FOO issues, and was raised with the family business is no one else’s business mantra. Secrets are an invitation to abuse, in my opinion. However, she found many excuses to be away from her unhappy home, taking care of her mother dying from cancer, helping me with my 2 children during the first year of their lives, coming for extended visits when I had to travel for work, to care give, again. Finally, she cared for her father, dying of cancer, until he died. It is hard to comprehend that being a caregiver was emotionally easier than living with my father. I fled at 17, going off to college, never to return unless mother was home.

          She had choices, she had a PhD in Botany, she worked, all her children encouraged her to do what was best for her. She just couldn’t, until her father died. Then she finally pulled the plug. Her settlement wasn’t great. By then, the cost of freedom was irrelevant for her. She inherited her father’s homeplace. She had her own home, and the means to live in independence and peace.

          Oddly enough, she was beset by suitors. Some were her father’s friends, who had lost their caretaking spouses. No one in her community could understand why she didn’t jump at the chance to be a “wife” (useful) again. All of the children knew why. Her siblings knew why. Still, we honored her wish that family business is no one else’s business.

          She is 89 now, and wakes up in her own house, with peace and quiet. She reads her many, many books. My brothers mow her grass, buy her groceries, see that she takes her meds and eats. No one tells her what to do or when to do it. She found freedom with a divorce, and an early retirement.

          My father found the children would not communicate with him unless he exceeded his obligations under the divorce decree. If he wanted any family contact or knowledge, he had to be a better ex-husband than he ever was a husband. He sold his home and moved back to his family homeplace, within 20 minutes of my mother. He finally died this year, and all of the children felt a sense of relief at his passing. He was unhappy all his life, had FOO issues of his own, had the intelligence but no will to change or improve himself in any social way. He never apologized to anyone for anything, which is ok, because it would not have been sincere. He died believing every thing he did was right, and the rest of the world was wrong, even though he had no evidence to support his claim. He, too, was a Biology Professor. He taught scientific theory, but he did not practice it in his real life.

          The consequences of bad behavior choices are generational. I have come to understand this as an explanation of the sins of the father being visited upon the children. The acceptance of abuse, it’s toleration as a familial right, is an example of FOO that does damage. It is like a stone tossed into a pond, the circles go on and on to the edge of the pond. Your world view is off, and you never question it until the dysfunction drives you to seek help.

          Most chumps have some of this in their background. For those in Chump Nation, a cheating spouse is the defining incident. We are the ones who have to change the narrative, we are the ones to stop the abuse. It is a horrific and monumental task, but it is also well worth the effort. Perhaps our children will be able to live a better life, and will learn not to live with big, little lies.

          • Your mother’s story is fascinating. Bless her in her peace, quiet and freedom.

            You are so right about the effect of abuse in the family of origin: “Your world view is off, and you never question it until the dysfunction drives you to seek help.”

          • Your story is sad, but as you say, most chumps have some of this in their background. We cannot change the past, but we can do our best to improve our futures. I sometimes think that had I left much sooner, that maybe my ‘lost son’ might have displayed better behavior with his ex-wife and his girlfriends. But not everything is learned through environments; some ‘behaviors’ are inherent. My other two sons are absolutely wonderful and don’t understand what’s wrong with their brother. I think the ‘lost son’ inherited his father’s narcissistic personality. Just as we inherit eye color, body types, bone structure, etc., from our parents, we can also inherit a neural network. That may be a valid excuse for being a fuckwit, but if someone really wants to change, inherited attributes are just a stumbling block. You really can be a decent human being if you choose to be. It’s a matter of choice, and unfortunately for us chumps, our fuckwits choose to be dicks.

          • PORTIA

            What a tragic and eye opening tale. I think my ex will die without a word of apology to me or our kids, whom he has not seen in over 4 years. They never met his wife and “new family” though he’s extended an invitation to one of them, to do so. And yes, he refers to them as “his new family” to OUR kids…

            Zero self awareness, though he claims the new family is in therapy. No doubt to compensate for some perceived injury by me the evil ex, or our “ungrateful kids”. The amount of demonization he must have to do to justify his atrocious choices would exhaust me.

            Your dad – he just thought your mom left him “for no reason” and what, you all turned against him?

            That’s the standard script… Bad enough they are such fools for throwing away good spouses/families, but their cruelty is just evil.

            And baffling, even now.

            Thanks for sharing your mom’s story. I hope she lives a long peaceful life with joy and love.

          • Portia: Thanks for sharing this excellent post. Sorry that your mom and the rest of your family had to endure this (especially your mom). Way to go for you and your siblings to insist that your father exceed what was required of him!

          • So true how this is passed down from generations ~ I am relearning about the woman’s movement in the 1850’s. Few women had options and most were treated as servants by their husbands. Fortunately we have finally reach a time to significantly change that narrative.

            • I can add another reason for the propensity for being chumped. Instead of a poor father modeling how to be an asshole, I had no male role model at all. My excellent father died in a car crash when I was 13. No grandfathers or uncles in my life. Just females.
              None ever taught me about dating/marriage. So I had an immature defective picker from adolescence.
              Fortunately, my mother remarried a good man when I was in college. He adored my daughter and she grew up with a strong male model. Consequently, she married a winner.

              • I don’t know. I mean I hate for fw’s to blame their actions on their parents. I also don’t think it is fair to blame parents for us being chumps. My parents were not perfect, good folks but certainly with our own issues. They aren’t at fault for me choosing a fw at age 18. I was 18, he was 18, he was untrustworthy; but was able to snow me evidently.

                Sometimes good people get hurt for no fault of their own, by unworthy people, sometimes fw’s are fw’s through their own actions and they are the authors of their own sin/downfall/character. They needed a victim; they found one.

        • Hannah, a word, phrase, or sequence that reads the same backward as forward, the name palindrome comes from the Greek words ‘again’ (palin) and ‘to run’ (drom). Run Hannah Run. Your house is on fire get your children out. Get out while you still have your self worth and your right mind. Nobody leaves their family to think, he doesn’t want to look at you. So much easier to live the life he wants without being reminded of the weak, gutless, coward he is. Who the hell runs home to mommy & daddy after destroying his family? What kind of parents let him? You don’t want to continue this legacy, you and your kids deserve more, much more.

          • “Nobody leaves their family to think, he doesn’t want to look at you. So much easier to live the life he wants without being reminded of the weak, gutless, coward he is.”

            SPOT ON!!!

            • So true. I still remember how the fw avoided looking at me when he was leaving. Of course he was hurling blame at me, but he still wouldn’t look at me.

        • The thing is, it is highly exciting to sneak around with Schmoopie and covertly destroy the wife. This gives Cheater a feeling of power and superiority thinking he has 2 women in love with him. But, once CAUGHT, the reality of knowing there may be repercussions that will like lead to Divorce and loss off ASSETS (plus one 1/2 of a Cake), these guys pull out the sad sausage Victim tears. Even more sickening, is society backs them up with BS storylines that “it must be a mid-life crisis”. I do not believe in mid-life crisis. Entitled, Narcissistic male-privilege is what this hubby is all about. Women Cheaters behave the same.
          ADULTERY IS ABUSE!

      • I so wish I had found Chump Lady after the first D-day. I could have saved so much time, energy, money, self-respect, and sanity if I had just had someone slap me in the head with a 2×4 of truth that told me there was no marriage to save. Not one person had the insight or the will to tell me what I really needed to hear back then. I had been duped and there was no bargaining my way (back?) to a healthy marriage. There never was. The old cliche is true: “Once a cheater, always a cheater.” Or rather: “that cheater was always a cheater.”

        • I too wish I had seen something like CL after D-Day #1. Instead, I trusted the couples counselor, who did not see my trauma or STBX’s disorder. This is why we should NEVER do couples therapy with a cheater.

          But, I’m not sure I believe “once a cheater, always a cheater.” I do think that some people can change and mature – it makes sense to me that younger people might need time to figure out how their values play out in the real world, and one small mistake by someone in their early 20’s is very different (to me) from a months-long affair by an older person, with kids and more investment in a marriage. I like that CL is agnostic on whether a cheater can change. The point is that we chumps put ourselves in danger by sitting around waiting for that change. And, the cheater has already demonstrated that they have devalued us. So, maybe they can be faithful with another person – for a time, at least, until that relationship moves out of the lovebombing/idealization stage and into the devaluation/sobering reality stage.

          Maybe my STBX can do better with someone else. All I know is that she abused me and so far seems not to be able to comprehend how to stop the cycle of abuse. Like most disordered people, she can’t see the disorder for herself, and it’s no longer my place to try to work through that with her. I do think that once someone has cheated *on you,* they will always be tempted to cheat *on you* if you stay with them. And as Shirley Glass famously wrote (as advice to the AP and not to the reconciling spouse!) in “Not Just Friends,” someone with a history of infidelity is not a great candidate for a life partner. Maybe they can do better, but it will be a lifelong struggle in most cases.

    • I don’t think we know for sure that Schmoopie’s not “all in”. She and the husband could be 100% committed to destroying his (and her?) marriage(s), but there are still a lot of details that have to be worked out. It could easily take more than 5 weeks for them to extricate themselves from their current lives (particularly during a pandemic, when these things take longer).

      Maybe husband and/or AP are having doubts, but maybe it’s just taking him some time to line up a lawyer, find a new place to live, open a new bank account to divert his earnings into … you know, all the little tasks you need to accomplish when you’re cutting ties with your family. It’s tactically sound, during this transitional period, for husband to make reconciliation noises to the wife so she doesn’t start getting *her* ducks in a row and get the jump on him.

      My point is that thinking “I’m plan B!” could be the overly optimistic on wife’s part, and right now wife needs to prepare for the worst case scenario.

      • True, I inferred that from Hannah’s comment that his whore tried to break it off, but I agree she should prepare for the worst.

        On a side note, no guy spends a bunch of money of a woman he isn’t fucking.

    • I married in 2003. XH asked for a divorce in 2004. He said I was the perfect wife and it was because I wasn’t Mormon. When I offered to be baptized Mormon, he said it was because we didn’t have “peace” in our home, and his mommy and daddy always cultivated an atmosphere of “peace.” When I said we could do therapy to work on that, he said I was cruel and abusive and that I was so mean and abusive I didn’t deserve a chance to work on the marriage, I was just that terrible of a person. So much for “perfect wife.”

      A couple months later, he came crawling back. We were together 10 more years. We divorced over his infidelity in 2014 .

      Turns out he was cheating in 2003-2004, too. Turns out he only came crawling back then because the 2004 OWhore dumped him.

      I was always his “Plan B.” Always.

      OP, I hate to go Motown on you, but he doesn’t really love you, he just keeps you hanging on. You’re his Plan B and always will be. It’s not that he can’t make up his mind, it’s that he can’t make up the howorker’s mind.

      So you need to make up his mind for him.

      • Hi Rarity!

        This is a perfect example of how FWs work and what to do about it–make up their minds for them.

    • Hanna,

      I know you’ve invested A LOT in your family and marriage. But as every poker player knows, there are times you have to fold and walk away from the table, even if there’s a huge pile.

      The fact is, your poker hand is not a winning hand. You may believe the choice you have is to “try to stay married” or to “divorce” but that is false.

      Your choice is to

      1) stay in a failing marriage until it ends AND IT WILL END eventually – after you’ve invested more years and money into him/the family,

      because HE WILL LEAVE YOU ANYHOW or dare you to leave him…

      Sadly, they don’t magically become appreciative of all the years of devotion and loyalty for the BIG PAY OFF- ask me how I know–

      OR

      2) divorcing now and moving forward in your life.

      ^^^ That is the true choice.

      I don’t think we are projecting our painful betrayals onto you so much as recogizing VERY COMMON patterns and the nearly non existent possibility you and your husband can ever recover from this.

      Best case scenario – really – is that you become the marriage police forever. It never ends.

      IF there is a unicorn chance of reconciling – IF – it’s by giving the FULL consequences to your husband, which means filing for divorce to protect yourself AND your children. If he gets therapy and regains your trust and pick me dances FOR YOU

      then maybe in TIME you can consider that…but for now

      Your h is still in the affair or trying to be.

      No such thing as getting some space AWAY to sort things out – it’s always – ALWAYS (sorry) to regroup and plan and strategize as painlessly to HIM as possible. He’s not looking out for YOU. He’s not your bff and I know how that hurts. He probably feels “love” for you but not in the sacrificial way you feel for him or the kids. THAT IS SELF EVIDENT.

      While his torture is self inflicted (and indulged) , yours is a direct result from his choices – which were selfish and dishonest.

      Cut your losses Hannah.

      And keep us posted. You are not alone.

      • Let me guess Hannah, he didn’t offer to take the kids off your hands and take them with him to his parents? No, he left you with all that baggage to handle? 10 days is awfully specific to keep you on hold. He must think it will take 10 days to convince his parents how horrible you are and get them to agree to meet his new girlfriend.

        • Please remember cheaters almost never admit anything that the spouse or SO does not already know. It was/is PHYSICAL not an EA. When someone shows you who they are, BELIEVE them the first time. Your husband can’t make up his mind….? Sorry that sounds harsh.

      • You’re right that the hoovering attempts are the closest a narcissist will ever come to pick me dancing. Except that in my case Nitwit wasn’t competing with some other man for my affections but with the single life. The single life still won, pandemic or no pandemic. I don’t think Nitwit would like the implications of that statement.

      • Sadly, this is so true:

        “I don’t think we are projecting our painful betrayals onto you so much as recognizing VERY COMMON patterns and the nearly non existent possibility you and your husband can ever recover from this.”

        It’s crazy how similar humans are while being diverse. The actions of a cheater are ALWAYS the same…ALWAYS! It’s hard to accept that your BFF for X-many years no longer has ANY concern for you…but, IT HAPPENS! WITH ALL CHEATERS!!!

        Please take the advice of those of us who have worked through this for years now. Save yourself. You are valuable. You can make it on your own. You are better than your cheater! Run…like the wind! Save yourself!

  • Am I allowed (slightly tongue in cheek) to suggest a change to CL’s last line?

    I would advise Hannah to put him out of her misery; his misery is his prize and he deserves it.

    LFTT

  • “He is now at his parents trying to get his head right.“

    I would strongly suspect that the affair is a physical one.
    Much easier to continue the affair without your watchful eyes keeping tabs on his every move.
    If he wanted to save his marriage he’d be putting all his energy into salvaging it. Time to lawyer up.

    • The cowardly liar told me he needed to move out to think.

      I told him you don’t move out of a house with your wife to think. You move out so you can fuck other people without being seen fucking other people.

      In the end, it bore out that I was far from wrong.

      • ONE HUNDRED PERCENT.

        For our 20th wedding anniversary (we got married after being together seven years) said he wanted to “move out for a while but not get divorced”. I asked him immediately if he was involved with someone. He denied it. Several times.

        I went into super private investigator mode and discovered the shock of my life….an email to a woman asking her “do you want to come” on a business trip. I never in a million years believed him to be a cheater. I had NEVER in 27 years looked through his stuff. Now I wish I had.

        What he was REALLY saying was “I want to test drive someone else and come back if it doesn’t work out.”

        Nope. Your family isn’t your backup plan, low life. Lower companions should stick together.
        Enjoy your red flag special.

        Marriage and a family is a commitment and if you can’t keep your commitment, your word, your stories straight or your dick in your pants, or your hands and your lips on the person you made a commitment to, GTFAway from me.

          • Yep. Mine moved out for a therapeutic separation.
            My dad told me he was seeing someone.
            I didn’t want to believe it.
            He was.

            Hannah- Sorry this is happening to you. But these are very wise people her. It’s hard. Call an attorney.

  • Oh Hannah, I am so sorry you have been betrayed by your cheating, lying husband. You have the power to put an end to all this misery through divorce. He cheated and he is cheating and he will cheat. Divorce him. Stop talking to him and start talking to your “pitbull of a lawyer”. You can’t fix him with your words or your love. RUN

  • I don’t see the sorry, only the unbridled entitlement that you’ll stick around and give him “space” while he “thinks.”

    All of this…

    He is entitled. Hope she kicks his *** out and files for divorce.

  • Hannah – I am sorry your husband is causing you so much pain. But what he is doing is life-threatening, so you need to concentrate on triage.

    Choose a lawyer, pull together your support team (no need to keep his secrets) and go grey rock. Your opportunity to create the best life for you and your children means acting fast. If it makes you feel stronger, remember that protecting him from consequences will NOT encourage him to pick you and his children.

    Hugs.

    • Definitely start talking to your friends (call your attorney first!).
      I didn’t talk because he wanted to keep our work private (read, he was having an affair).
      Your friends will get you through this. Mine did.
      Take care

      • Agreed. He made me keep it to myself as we were working on “us”. Now I know it was self preservation and image management as I was in purgatory while pretending that we were a happy couple. Talk to your friends. Get a therapist. That part nearly destroyed me. You have nothing to feel guilt or shame about. You’ll also learn quickly who your real friends are. No contact and Grey Rock are key. When you are no longer “shiny”, they give up.

      • Talking to a lawyer and getting your ducks in a row gives you agency and control. Ruminating over how to convince a cheater to stop being a piece of shit is futile. Not talking to anyone and not doing anything is a pressure cooker.

        You can keep it secret and just about kill yourself while doing so for… one, two d-days? It all comes spilling out after the third, when you are losing your mind at the injustice and pain and shock of what’s happening to you.

        Maybe you blame yourself for telling the truth, even then – sharing your private life and betraying your relationship and ruining the possibility of reconciliation. But then, you realize that’s nonsense because you were actually the last to know about the cheating; even mere acquaintances who have nothing to do with you have known for years, and also turns out the cheater has been going around telling lies with the tiniest bit of truth to manage their own image and incriminate you when it all finally comes crashing down around you. All the while you’ve been so single-mindedly focused on figuring out what’s going on and working on yourself and saving your relationship that you’ve left yourself defenseless.

  • He’s just shown you exactly what he thinks of your beautiful and good life together, your children, and you.

    You’ve worked so hard for everything and everyone – and this is how he repays you.

    He’s shown you who he is. You can’t unsee it.

    I’m appalled at him, and tremendously sad for you and your children.

    I know it’s tempting to think you’re the exception to the rule – that this was a one-off – that you can ‘win’ – that you can go back to how it was before.

    Unfortunately none of this is true. Chump Nation has a million examples to give you.

    Chump Lady is right. Lawyer up. Ask big. Do it sooner rather than later.

    You have your future and your children to consider.

  • Such a good reminder of how predictable the fuckwits’ stories are. There’s very little originality with lying, cheating husbands. Chumps want so badly to believe in the story we want.

    • “…little originality with lying, cheating husbands.” As well as lying, cheating WIVES.

      We were together 17 years. I was devoted, faithful, responsible and I absolutely loved my wife.
      I never dreamed she’d cheat, let alone leave, but she became increasingly distant. And I got the same responses, “I just need space”…”I don’t know what’s going on with me; just be patient.”…”I need time to think”…”I love you, we’ll get through this.” I trusted her, and I just wanted to help, so I gave her “space”, gave her “time to think”, gave…gave…gave. And, after nearly a year of increasingly nerve-wracking stress-inducing confusion and loneliness, she gave me the “ILYBINILWY” speech and left.

      Husband or wife, male or female, they’re both capable of deceit and they both read from the same play book. Period.

      • You’re right. It doesn’t matter the gender. Or even the situation. We’re all here because we’re chumps and our significantly others chose someone else. Betrayal really hurts. But it also hurts when our children, friends, and family members betray us. What I’ve learned in my healing is that boundaries must exist with anyone. No matter how much I may love someone, if they cross a boundary, then it’s loving on my part to enforce a boundary instead of caving in and enabling bad behavior.

  • Also it is vanishingly rare that the first time he cheated is the first time you find out. This is probably the latest in a series, sadly. When I went back through my diaries I found odd, suspicious things (which I discounted at the time, of course) had happened when I was pregnant, or had just had a new baby. So sorry.

    • “Its also vanishingly rare that the first time he cheated is the first time you find out.” Yep. I 100% agree. This is the first time that you found out. Liars lie. Accept the fact that there is always more to the story than what they have admitted.

      I was royally chumped — I still cannot believe my ex-husband’s brazenness and my naiveite. The truth that “Your husband’s behavior is so brazen, this is probably not his first affair” was brought home to me by a mutual male friend who ran men’s groups. He said he has heard all the stories.

      • Very true. My ex wife admitted to multiple “mistakes” and multiple “emotional affairs”. Only could prove 1 affair 110%. DNA doesn’t lie. I will never know the WHOLE truth. I have accepted it and moved on with my life.

        • Moving on is the only option. I find myself wishing I had a magic button I could hit to wipe my mind of any memory of her. Like yours, mine also only admitted to one main AP despite me having evidence of dozens more. I gave up trying to work any of it out.

          • Have you seen “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind?” It’s a beautiful and strange movie that explores that possibility and will make you think twice about your wish.

      • My FW father (FWF) seems to relish in his story-telling of his sordid affairs to anyone he determines is his “BEST FRIEND!” He’s got lots of best friends and the emotional maturity of a 13-year-old boy. So, so, so, so, so, so, so, so many people know all the tales of lying, cheating, manipulating, and whoring around. It is disrespectful, dishonoring, demeaning, and humiliating for my mother and us kids to not know who knows what and just assume that FWF has told most people everything while not actually owning up to anything with his family. He is a disgusting piece of shit and I wish I could be there when he dies to tell him to go to hell and some other thing that would make his trip to the grave a horrible last experience. And/or I wish I had the balls right now to say to him, “you’ll wish you had never fucked with me” and then go all Big Payback on him and all of his whores.

        This is what cheating does to a family. Turns normally peaceful and kind people into hurt people who want to hurt people.

        • Have faith that when he dies no family members, not even his own children (!), will be at his bedside to say goodbye. He’ll die alone, mourned by who ?

      • True. I learned about his affair (which – like the OP, he only admitted kissing but I learned later was a lie). I would have sworn on the souls of my children that it was his first affair …after he died I learned there had been others.

  • Oh Honey, let’s have a crate of wine together. Your story and mine are twins. 23 year marriage, blindsided, “she pursued him”, “crossed the line”, he’s “so sorry”, “was 6 months”, will do “anything to regain my love and trust”, “never wanted to leave me”, “never thought of divorcing me”, “wants to stay here”…. and then I discovered that the affair didn’t actually end: a second, third, and fourth time before I kicked him out. Then I discovered it wasn’t “6 months” but well over a year. Then I discovered that this one wasn’t the first affair. Then I discovered the prostitutes. Reading about Covert Narcissism (and finding CL) helped so much. The rollercoaster of idealization, and devaluing and finally discarding made so much sense. What YOU are going through is torture NOT him, YOU. I know that feeling of desperately trying to keep what you thought your life was together. Of not wanting to change. I’m almost 3 years out from the first d-day. It takes a while to go through the withdrawal but my life is so much better now. When you feel less lonely while being alone speaks volumes. Hugs to you, we are here for you.

    • Me too—100% 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻…. it’s eerily similar! Even the 23 years!

      Trust they suck! Leave a cheater, gain a life.

    • Totally my story too. I thought we had a wonderful marriage, lots of great conversations, great experiences, great sex. We just fit together.
      After the 5th d-day and 6 months of wreckonciliation I realised that it was all an illusion.
      As soon as I read how ‘wonderful’ Hannah’s marriage was I thought there’s more than one.
      Covert narcs are the hardest to heal from as they hide it so well

      • It’s crazy how similar some of our stories are. We were the couple that people envied. He was my best friend of 27 years. We never fought. I was always so happy at how “in sync” we were. I think that’s why it was so hard to just leave. My brain couldn’t process what I found. None of it made sense. He was “such a great guy”. Yup, 4 d-days in 8 months. So many people couldn’t believe it. Once I started telling people, image control and self preservation jumped in. He told everyone that he was 100% committed to me and our family. He never, ever ended his affair. I now know his plan was to make it look like he was the one that was trying but I couldn’t get over his betrayal and that’s why the marriage ended. Very soon after I kicked him out, and his AP wouldn’t leave her husband so he started dating. New gf dumped him because he was still cheating with AP. He definitely showed who he is. Watch what they do, not what they say. Hope you are well MC99 & CDU.

        • ‘My brain couldn’t process what I found. None of it made sense. He was “such a great guy”’
          That’s exactly it with the covert types. I couldn’t process for so long. It didn’t help that Mr. nice guy kept coming over to help out with things even though he had discarded me. And he wore his ring right up until the day the papers were signed, what is that – he had discarded me for OW! I think at his work they thought I had left him because he looked awful and was wearing his ring, they suggested some time off.
          I’m starting to cringe now when I think of him. Hopefully that’s a precursor to meh.

        • Coverts are the worst. MrWonderful stopped wearing his wedding ring except when he was attending a social event when he wanted to pretend and have that MrWonderful mask on. And when he decided to announce our marriage was over, it was all about how I hadn’t gotten over it and had trust issues. It is the excuse he will give his two friends who will buy his BS. In truth, he has never stopped cheating.

          He put up this quote by his desk about loneliness isn’t from being alone but from feeling like no one cares. Poor sad sausage. I did care and he treated me like crap. After D-day #1 I was willing to wreckoncile but he continued to treat me like crap and cheat. He blew his chance. When D-day #2 hit, I stopped loving him. It was over.

          But that will be the story he will be telling. He made a mistake and I wouldn’t forgive him. As if it was one day of crossing the line instead of 20 years and over 50 women (before I gave up looking and counting). Boo effing hoo.

    • Dear LeavingToxicTown

      Your sentence ‘When you feel less lonely while being alone speaks volumes’ has actually struck a chord.

      About 12-18 months before he left (and before D-day), I knew something was amiss. I got the usual…’Work is stressful at the moment etc. etc.’ but I must say some of the loneliest moments were during those months even though he was sleeping beside me every night.

      I felt SO SO alone during that time. I miscarriage twice and didn’t even want to te him as I didn’t see the point (I knew there would be zero support). I ended up telling him about 2 weeks post miscarriages.

      It’s such an odd feeling to be in a relationship, going through the motions of every day life THINKING you are a team. He was meant to be on my team right? My biggest cheerleader in the game of life.

      I guess not.

      • MC, I’m so sorry for all your loss. Just devastating. Mine was the same… “I just need to get this out…” every frickin night, weekend, vacation… All I wanted was to curl up on the couch at the end of the day with the man I loved, watch something mindless and just be together. In the end he told me that he really didn’t need to work that hard and that he was avoiding me. Frickin coward. So instead of being with his wife he’d sit in another room, pretending to work while texting his AP. Looking back, I can see the neglect had been going on for years.

        I truly hope that you are in a better place. That you know that you are amazing and are taking care of yourself and doing things for you. Hugs.

    • Yup, same here. I found out that it wasn’t just a friend, was more serious than he said, there were multiple affairs that he claimed he convinced himself that I must know about. It’s all awful. And yes, 20+ years.

  • Thank you for ALWAYS putting this shit into a clearer perspective CL! Could not make it through without you! I support you on Patreon. We need to make this site the common narrative. Cheaters are not poor sad sausages. They know exactly that what they are doing will harm others. That’s why they do it in secret. Cheaters know that they have a “good thing going” & will lose it if their secret is found out by the Chump. Don’t give cheaters the option to choose. They lost the right to be in your life. Walk away from the mindf*ckery.

  • My ex was out late at nights, drinking and being a real asshole at home. I finally asked him to commit to the marriage or leave. He left. We continued to “work” on the marriage (he wasn’t, I was) and he returned home a few months later. I asked him several times if during the course of our separation he was seeing anyone else, he said no. He was asked in therapy if he was seeing anyone else he said no and blamed the sad state of our marriage on me. (Side note: unbeknownst to me he took me to the restaurant she worked at on a “date night” so she could see me and he could basked in his sociopathy.)

    He was cheating for well into a year before, during and after a trial separation where he used very similar words about “needing some time” and “being a better husband”. All lies, and manipulation. (In other gross details when I (and the kids) was away during the course of that year, he’d bring her to our family home and fuck her there.

    When I found out the real reason for this “trial separation” and all the horrid details, I immediately divorced him. I had a very good lawyer and negotiated a comfortable lifestyle for myself and my children. He moved on to a woman who was living in her Mom’s basement, on welfare within weeks. Days. Whatever.

    I’m sorry you are going through this. It’s very painful but I assure you, he is not confused. He is not “getting his head straight.” He knows exactly what he’s doing and he knows it hurts you. Go no contact as much as possible, communicate through your (excellent) lawyer, get your financial affairs in order (know where the money is/where it goes) and get him out of your life. Do not be “friends” with this man – friends don’t pull this shit.

    I’m years out now and life is so much better with out that silly, vile man in my life. My children made it out ok and he’s still dithering about with the unfortunate, vulnerable woman. I have a nice life now, free from his chaos, gaslighting and manipulation. If he messes with me financially (which is the only way he can) I go through my lawyer – I don’t “reason” with him or give him time, or discuss any feelings with him on this that or the other; the lawyer handles it. He’s out and 99.9% of the time he leaves me be. It’s bliss. We have a peaceful life now.

    It won’t be easy and you’ll need support so round up the troops. Fight for your good life, your freedom and your values. You’re going to get out of this, and you’ll be happier and healthier on the other side.

  • Hannah – Please be prepared for the devaluing necessary to “justify” his actions.

    But also realize that the pain you’re feeling, the willingness to do almost anything to save your marriage/family is how you are reacting in spite of HIS significant “shortcomings”.

    Cheating is not ever an appropriate response to unhappiness in a marriage.

  • Lawyer up and do not forget going to your physician NOW to get tested for STDs NOW. He may have given you a gift already. With love, from Schmoopie.

    Insist on a blood test too (syphilis and HIV). Do not feel ashamed. YOU did NOTHING wrong.

    Also start filming the contents of the house and going through every piece of financial information you can lay your hands on. Tax returns, credit card statements, utility bills, insurance bills, grocery bills. Think about the costs going forward of dentists, braces, college/trade school tuition. You can negotiate almost anything.

    Be open to selling the house and moving somewhere in the same school district (if it’s a good one) but in a smaller, more manageable size. Do not be house rich-cash poor if you can avoid it.

    Take advantage of him “staying with his parents” and sticking it to Schmoopie. It is easier to make a fair settlement for you and the kids when he is balls-deep now rather than later. Later will be harder because he will realize Schmoopie is real, or at least real expensive. Your attorney will advise you on whether it is worth roping Schmoopie into giving testimony under oath regarding her behavior with a married man or not. Sometimes the very idea of Schmoopie getting asked questions under oath makes the Fuckwit wither.

    Think big. Good luck.

  • I’m so sorry that you had to join our club, Hannah. I agree with everyone here and CL… there isn’t anything to work with, just blatant disrespect for you, your marriage and your family.

    I could have written your letter, just replace colleague with student. They were just friends, he was just helping her out, nothing happened, he needed “space” and alone time, he was unhappy and didn’t know why. All BS, all day. I lost a year of my life hoping & waiting for him to realize that we had a great life and a great marriage, only to find out that the affair had been ongoing for a year and a half. CL is right… adults don’t just kiss and cuddle, adults have sex.

    Find your mighty, call that lawyer… do it for you, do it for your kids. It’s going to be hard, probably the hardest thing you will ever do, but you are worth it. You are not a consolation prize, you are the jackpot and deserve to be treated as such.

    We’ve got you, Hannah. Keep coming back, read the archives and lean on Chump Nation. *HUGS*

    • I did the same — did the Pick Me! dance for an entire year! And i’m the one who asked for more time! Such a chump. I would do it differently if i had to do it over (which i’m so glad i don’t have to do!). It’s early days for Hannah. She can still save herself a lot of time and wasted energy. I almost killed myself trying to get him back. The ONLY good that came out of that was being in really good shape! 🙂 Otherwise, it was a big loss of dignity and self-respect, and it likely set me back a year or two in recovery time.

      • You are so right! I still find myself working on the dignity and self-respect sometimes and I’m 2 years out from DDay.

        The best advice I have heard is to be kind to yourself when looking back. I remind myself of this every time I start to think about the what-ifs. What if I had looked at the phone records & cc statements? What if I had challenged his lies? What if I had refused his need for “time and space” and put my foot down? I could what-if it all day long but it doesn’t change the fact that it happened and we are not the problem. The cheaters are the problem, their character and lack of morals are the problem.

        We did the best we could with the information we had at the time. Now that we know better, we can DO better! Try not to beat yourself up. When you are blindsided and your foundation is ripped from under you, you can only take one step, one day at a time.

        We are mighty now and nobody can take that from us. Thank you Chump Lady & Chump Nation!

        • Lifeisgood, I think most of us lost our dignity at some point. This is not some irrelevant stranger who told us, and/or showed they didn’t want us …. this was the person we thought was the love of our life. I’m thinking something must happen to our brain when we are faced with the reality of not being loved and valued by the person we had built a life with.
          I remember saying to my FW that I didn’t want to be with somebody who didn’t want to be with me. But that’s not how I acted. And mindbogglingly, a very big part of me didn’t believe that he didn’t want to be with me, even though ALL evidence pointed that way. I was in huge denial. It’s a mind warp when in your mind your marriage is solid.

          It makes me think of phantom limb syndrome. I had phantom marriage syndrome. This must be a thing. Chumps keep saying the same thing over and over again, we kept trying to hold on to something that’s not there.

          • Zip, that is just profound.

            For them to have risked us finding out about an affair means that they had ceased to care about us, were no longer on the same team with us, had checked out from us and had mentally scanned the risk of the loss of the family unit, the risk of our hurt feelings, the risk of public humiliation, etc., and decided to accept those risks…

            • Light Heart, all of that… And my brain told me he still loved me and that this was an error in his thinking. He point-blank told me he wasn’t happy and was leaving for the OW. That’s not the message that entered my brain, and then reading the RIC literature confirmed my faulty thinking of ‘hold on tight because you can fix this.’ But there was no ‘we.´

              The loss was so tremendous and shocking that I truly believe I had phantom relationship syndrome. Thus the pick me dance. And his coming around often to help me out while we were separating reinforced my fantastical thinking. And I stayed in that place for quite some time. There was a part of me that really and truly thought he would come back and realize that he loved me and missed me. I was projecting; I loved him and missed him.
              It’s so sad. They suck.

              • I think the hardest part of the betrayal is what they stole from us…Years of our life when we could have been working toward something that mattered…someone who truly cared. They have no sense of what they took from us. It’s all about them.

              • It’s because of this that I have to believe in a higher power or karma to set things straight. No person should lose years of their life to someone that never held them close…that never really loved them…there has to be some payback…there has to be.

          • Zip,

            Love your term ‘phantom marriage syndrome’ Count me in!

            I now know what true denial is from personal experience.

            My experience is very similar to yours….as so many of us here are only to aware of due to what has happened to us especially when your husband/wife is the covert type of narcissist….

            Thanks for the term. Everyday I learn something new. You made my day today.

  • Hannah, if you can tolerate seeing your husband moon and prevaricate over another person then you have serious work to do on your self esteem.

    If there was ever a time for Gray Rock this would be it. Communicate only about the children and tell him to leave you the hell alone. He is disgusting.

    Listening to him talk about his feelings for this woman are an insult to you are a wife and a partner. Tell him to go peddle that shit somewhere else.

    • Well said. This guy is gross. Over time Hannah will see that, and then she’ll wake up one day wondering how she every had sex with this disgusting dude. Blech

      • I feel compelled to add that Hannah may not get this if she is reading RIC literature because it tells you to be patient, to pick-me dance, to tolerate abuse on all levels, to keep the cheater central in everything etc and to pay their trusted leaders thousands of dollars to attend seminars etc so YOU can heal your marriage.

        (Have you read any of their books? Sooo sad now that I look back on it – what those women endure – all the books were written by women so no offense intended to male chumps – and I can’t help but imagine that at some point down the line they eventually get dumped because the cheaters are gonna do it again…of that I am certain.)

        How do I know this…..

        I did it. I believed it.

        Before I found CL

        and then that door slammed shut in my face. Denial no longer worked for me and NC soon followed.

        I am thinking she is ahead of the game because she is here and therefore already knows a heck of a lot more that I did at her stage in the ‘game’.

        • Agreed on the RIC.

          I feel so blessed as weird as it sounds that my ex fw really gave me no chance initially. I hate to think if we had gone to a RIC style session how much longer he could have played me to his benefit. There was no CL or similar place to go during my time, so I bumbled through. I did pretty well, but had he given me a chance in the beginning; I know I would have gone for it at my own detriment.

          I did read a lot of the RIC stuff years later for a different reason, it gagged me and outraged me. Hearing that soft voice tell BS’s to be patient and give their cheater time to mourn the whore etc. GAAAHHHHH

          • Yes. I did that too until the day I woke up and realized I was the one who deserved time to grieve the loss of what I thought was my marriage and relationship with the fw that spanned 30+ years – the loss of my past, present and future and my family that was literally blown to bits.

            BUT nowhere in the RIC literature does it give voice to our grief, outrage etc…It is ALL about them….I was sooooo blind!!!!

      • Isn’t that one of the grossest things? Realizing you had sex with such a disgusting being? It makes my skin crawl. It’s how I know I would never ever take him back. Even just seeing a photo of him all I can think is what a whore he is. Sleeping with him to me would be worse than accidentally dropping a throat lozenge from your mouth on the floor of a truck stop restroom and then picking it up and popping it back in your mouth. The level of disgust I have just acknowledging I ever had sex with such a vile human being is beyond description. He is utter sewer waste to me. 🤢

        • I actually did let him come back not long after we legally separated. There was sex twice and both times I felt nothing; though I tried. My body was warning me.

          Thank goodness that only lasted a week and I kick him out, never to give him another chance, though he tried at least three more times that I remember.

  • Hannah, I was you seven years ago. Our stories are almost identical, down to the excuses – I never meant to hurt you! It just happened! She’s just my really close friend! I chose to believe his claims that he loved me, loved our life together, would do anything to fix it, etc. and spent two years pick me dancing and folding my needs smaller and smaller to accommodate him. Don’t act too sad, don’t ask too many questions, never frighten the poor sad timid sausage. Then I found out the affair never ended, he just wanted to avoid consequences and keep his housekeeper/nanny around. I know it feels crushing now, but it will get better. Five years post divorce, I am fine, my kids are doing well, and I am at about 95% meh. You deserve better.

  • Last night I watched TINA on HBO. I found it to be very encouraging and delicious soul food for leaving an abusive cheater. My X did not lay a finger on me physically. He didn’t have to. The mental, emotional, sexual, psychological, spiritual injuries caused by infidelity were sufficient to level me. It took me two years after DDay to realize I was in an abusive relationship. People who know the phony Mr. Nice Guy would never believe me. There was serious physical domestic violence in his family growing up. He is just as abusive but using covert weapons. I was the youngest in my family of origin and abused by my father, mother, and older sister. I’ve come to realize that I was able to stay in denial about being abused by my X because he did not hit or yell.

    INFIDELITY IS ABUSE.

    INFIDELITY IS ABUSE.

    INFIDELITY IS ABUSE.

    When I read letters here, what I see is the heartbreaking brainwashing that keeps us loyal to people who ARE HURTING US INTENTIONALLY AND DON’T CARE.

    FUCK THAT.

    There is NO downside to getting away from someone who is intentionally inflicting catastrophic harm.

    What’s love got to do with it when it comes to cheaters?

    NOTHING NADA ZILCH ZERO ZIP.

    They don’t love ANYBODY.

    • I remember when I was a kid, my mom had a black eye. The excuse was something like “I walked into a door” or “fell getting out of the tub.” She never had a black eye again and I always wondered if FW father (FWF) hit her.

      As they were going through their divorce over the past 8 months or so I asked her about that black eye and if FWF hit her. She said he did at the beginning of their marriage but then said that’s not the type of man he wanted to be. She said that black eye wasn’t from physical abuse and that whatever excuse she gave at the time was the correct one.

      BUT. Like you wrote, Velvet, he found other and better ways to abuse her. As I was lying awake in the middle of the night last night the term “soul rape” came to my mind. That’s what FWF did to my mother. He soul raped her. He took all of her light, her joy, her hope, her dreams, her self-love, her self-worth, her fight, her potential. He lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, coerced, raged….he never had to actually lay a finger on her to keep her in line. His mental, emotional, and psychic abuse was more than enough.

      Fucker.

      • I stayed with my dick ex because ‘he never hit me’. I did not know that abuse could be anything other than physical (lots of childhood memories.) Infidelity is abuse! It tore me apart in the head. I was devastated and all the bruises were on the inside where nobody saw. On the outside I had the life that others envied, nice car, nice house, nice jewelry, etc. But I was lied to, cheated on, and gaslighted. I was mentally and emotionally abused. But I’m out of that and I’m happy now.

      • “ He soul raped her. He took all of her light, her joy, her hope, her dreams, her self-love, her self-worth, her fight, her potential. He lied, cheated, stole, manipulated, coerced, raged….he never had to actually lay a finger on her to keep her in line. His mental, emotional, and psychic abuse was more than enough.”

        Great way of putting it B&L. I’ll forever have “soul rape” in my mind when I think of my STBXH. Thank you for sharing this.

    • When you write this, I realize how much most chumps writing in during the first weeks after D-Day still OVER-VALUE the cheater. He or she is a lying, sneaking, deceitful, abusive manipulator, but the chump is terrified he or she will end the marriage. I was 6 months into the discard and not even married to Jackass and I still wanted him back.

      What changed for me was learning about the narcissistic cycle of relationships and realizing that was how Jackass lived his live. Jackass over-valued women, wives, friends, jobs and so on; this is the love-bombing stage where he was selling himself to the target. Once he had a target hook, he would DEVALUE them, finding fault, criticizing, attacking, expressing disgust. That devaluation is what allows the affair.

      So Hannah and others have already experienced devaluation and either don’t know it or saw it but spackled over it. Stepping back from that involves seeing that cycle as a way of life common to some people and seeing how STBX fits that cycle. Once there, chumps can being to detach from the person they thought they were married to.

      • If you loved a covert narc, you can overvalue them (and undervalue yourself) for way longer than the first few weeks after Dday unfortunately. When something isn’t available to us anymore it makes us think it’s very special and that we need it.
        And then there’s us chumps… hanging around, being available and taken for granted.
        No one needs to be with a defective person whose whole self is less than 1/2 of ours. The FW’s people write about here are highly unoriginal, selfish beyond belief and way over valued. We projected our goodness onto them.

  • Ahh the good old “staying with family” trick. My ex wife during her cheating started taking the kids every weekend for her and them to stay at her sisters. My solicitors seem right through it and we all knew she was out cheating whilst there. She even came back after one weekend with hickies in her chest and her excuse was our 7 year old was climbing on her. Behind glad I divorced her. Beyond angry I ever met her to begin with. Most cheaters are pathological liars.

  • I see so much of myself in this post. Hannah, I promise you that the best thing you can do is cut your losses. It hurts like hell, but over time you will have more clarity and will see that this is truly the only option to maintain your own sanity, health and happiness. It seems like you already know what you have to do, although you don’t want to believe it right now. You don’t deserve to be his silver medal. You are gold!

  • Likely scenario based on hundreds of stories….
    Schmoooie and he had a fight.
    He moves back in with you for two weeks.
    He and schmoopie text make up, but her condition is that he moves out.
    He moves to his parents house to satisfy her and you.
    Just like Bugs Bumny who puts his paw out for a feeler, he’s hiding in his new hole and hoping to play both schmoopie and chump with the pick me dance where he gets kibbles and his mommies 🥧 to eat. Of course, mom is super happy her boy is home.

    Get a lawyer. Move your money. He will move the assets for himself. Financial fraud accompanies sex fraud almost always. Already has with the 600 gift.
    Child support has a statute of limitations. If you wait too long doing the ‘pick me dance’, those months will drop off. File for child support immediately.

  • Dear Hannah,

    I’ve bet. In your exact same position. I took him back too, just so he would continue the affair behind me back. Now he has left for the second time. I got a lawyer, I’m sick of this crap.

    The mindfuckery, the poor me bull s, the supposed “guilt”, the “needing space”… I bought it all, but what was he was doing was trying to get out clean and continue to keep me as plan B while I picked me danced, the kids pick me danced too.

    The truth of the matter is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is far more sordid that in any of your wildest dreams. Chast emotional affairs? That means “late office meeting/work trip” sex. He “hates himself”? That means he hates that you found out. Needs “time to think”? That really means he needs to pursue his affair full time and not having to tell you where he is at and what is he doing. He “still loves his family”? That means that he wants cake and for you to play the part when he fights with OW or when he is bored. Once AP is on, then us back to ghosting you.

    Don’t fall for the charade. It is hard, but you will see “the script”. Part if the script is that they will turn mean and nasty to you once he is two feet in the affair. Then they turn cruel, start picking up a different personality and you will not recognize them, they will turn their backs at you, the children and will reject their turner lives because they have a new one now.

    I’m so sorry. Stay strong

  • Hannah I’m so sorry you are here, but you are in the right place.

    Please read the archives and you will see how many of these cheaters never ever had sex but fell in love with a co worker ( my story also)

    I mean what are the chances you don’t go looking for an affair but suddenly without any agency fall in love with someone at work? Yeah it’s not likely in the real world .

    • My story also. She “loved” multiple men but only had sex with the one I could prove 110%. 🙄🙄🙄

  • I want to say, too how sorry you’ve joined the club. “Time” and “space” are just stalling tactics on the part of your cheater. Mine moped when his hooker dumped him, repeatedly. He moped when she threatened him and by extension his children and me, with harassment charges. He got angry when find my iPhone showed him at her apartment when he “left early for work” because “It’s a free country”. My anger was too much for him, the poor hurting, love crossed doctor who fell in love with a prostitute (& boy does he not like her to be referred to as that). Be prepared that he will not follow through on promises made to you (financial and otherwise). Get the STD panel. Protect you and your children. I was where you are 11 months ago. The person I knew is completely gone. I pick me danced for 3 months—told him to leave and filed for divorce. He never looked back. Thirty four years and two young adult children—one is 18 and his father has missed his entire senior year of high school. Not one visit since v early October.

    • “The person I knew is completely gone.” Actually, the person that you knew was a facade. What he revealed over time is the real person. That’s the person he is. He was never the person that you “knew”.

      • Yep, correct. The person you “knew”, trusted, loved…never really existed. That’s a tough one to wrap your mind (and heart) around.

        • So true and very traumatic to try and get your mind around. My ex wife cheated on me back in 2009/10 but I had no red hand evidence and stupidly stayed with her and now doing a paternity test as my daughter looks nothing like me and looks so similar to the suspected AP and then caught her with dozens last year. Absolutely god knows what other cheating has happened whilst I was in the Army or even just in general. These people we married are sick in the head.

        • It is so hard to accept in the beginning. It is why many of us keep thinking something, or some word will snap them out of it. It won’t. Whatever reason they were with us, we have no more value to whoever they really are.

          • Exactly, unless they are somehow still getting kibbles from us… Like mine enjoyed helping out because it made him look like a great guy who just had to leave because he wasn’t happy but he was still going to do the right thing…
            Basically we only have value when we serve them somehow – not because we are human beings

        • I like to think of the disco song by Imagination, “Just An Illusion.”
          That’s what X was. And the entire marriage too.
          Just an illusion. Not real in the way I thought.

      • Absolute 100% correct. The FW I was married to was NEVER the person I thought he was. I loved and respected him and held him in the highest regard, all the while he was living a covert lifestyle of habitual cheating. 2 mistresses that I am certain of and prostitutes. The mistress he’s with now I consider to be a prostitute also, since she saw his account at his work and what our company was pulling in. If he was broke (like when I met him) I can guarantee she would not be with him. So, really, how is she any different than a prostitute when she and her kids now get taken on resort vacations and just now bought a big house they are renovating. She’s getting PAID just the same. They truly deserve each other as each does not value people, but only see people as a leg up in life. The hardest thing for me to get my head around was that he NEVER LOVED ME. Well intentioned friends say, “oh, I’m sure he did in the beginning and just fell out of love… ” or the BS “he’s having a mid-life crisis.”. NOPE! This is the REAL HIM! As I said to him:
        “You wanted to be married to me until you got CAUGHT!” Crickets on the other end of the phone. Yup. Nailed it.

    • Faithful Rage,

      The person I knew is gone…

      And still after 4 years I wake up daily and see/feel more that was taken from me by his actions and deceit. We were together 30+ years and so much of what I am struggling with now is not the loss of him but the spiritual beliefs I had and didn’t even know I had until it all blew up.

      The abandonment I felt from him are nothing compared to the betrayal and abandonment I feel from my old beliefs in a God….which I thought were full proof and THE TRUTH….nope, wrong – just another set of stories I had made up about a group of people who were supposed to be living a program of ‘rigorous honest’….all who knew him were covering up for him for years….not wanting to hurt ‘me’….Yeah. Now I know it was to avoid consequences both his and for the people who were covering for him – they were all cheats doing the same thing – preaching honesty while living a lie and hurting the people who cared for them the most.

      No more.

      In fact, I am finding it hard to trust anyone while I am feeling manipulated by everyone.

      I am one alert older woman these days 🙂

      • I’m sorry for all you’ve been through Elderly Chump. You deserve so much better. I agree with you it is equally disgusting of those who assist with the cover-ups. Indeed it takes a village for them to snow us. I see now how the group of guys FW grew up with and still hangs with are all misogynistic cheaters who get off on duping the loyal faithful wives they made vows to and who gave them love and a family. If that isn’t a low life, I don’t know what is.

  • As I so frequently say, genital contact is not the sole determiner of whether or not the contact is sex, and it also isn’t anywhere near a sole determiner of whether or not an act counts as cheating.

    Was there a secret? A lie? A risk to you in any way? Did it violate an agreement in the relationship?

    Violate a law?

    Harm a child?

    Harm YOUR child?

    Cheating is about knowing good and doing bad, and especially about doing that in a unilaterally self-benefiting way without the other person having full knowledge and granting full consent.

    Don’t let a person with a history of deception and splitting absurd hairs be the one who defines whether you were abused or whether their actions constituted cheating. That’s letting a child define whether taking a cookie after being told no more cookies counts as stealing. It does, but it also isn’t the damn point.

  • Hannah-my ex pulled similar emotional crap, although his affair went beyond the emotional. But I played the pick-me dance until he pushed me over the edge and then I lost it. I was so angry I became my worst self. That may actually have been a good thing. It made him NOT want to even play the pick me dance, and he picked her and left. It was painful at the time. It would have been more empowering to have been able to emotionally untangle myself with snarky wit like CL, but, in the end, it definitely freed me.

    It gets better.

  • Hannah another chump chiming in to share that an EA with coworker that turned out to be way more than the tip of the iceberg he admitted.

    Your husband’s actions are not that of remorse. You deserve better. Please protect yourself. (Start with Lawyer, STD tests).

    • You can bet if he is willing to leave his wife and children, his dick has already been in the new hole. Hate to say it, but especially men are not going to leave for a piece they haven’t had yet (or women for that matter). CL has said that before, adults have adult relationships that don’t end at sharing secrets and holding hands, kissing, etc. They get in bed!

  • FEELINGS FOLLOW ACTIONS.

    You can bet that his feelings were caused by plenty of actions that he will never tell you.

    The Script is a great quick read book by Elizabeth Landers that outlines all the completely unoriginal things cheaters say and do.

    Right now my life is the last chapter, where it doesn’t turn out as he planned because all the players affected by the cheating game aren’t doing what he thought they would.

    Cheaters do not have relationships. They hold hostages and play games.

    The only winning move is to walk away and don’t play.

    • The games!

      After Dday, mine said that he knew the games the OW was playing. Because he plays games, he assumes others do.

      And, maybe she WAS playing games. After all, she apparently made a big, selfless show of moving thousands of miles away (to live with her parents) because it was too painful and tempting to be near my then-husband (that hot body!) and she didn’t want to be a homewrecker.

      Of course, my ex got even more excited about being with her when she left. Duh!

      My ex is a fisherman, but, boy, this OW could teach a master class.

      I hope they continue to bait each other. Must be fun!

  • I am so sorry you are going through this. You do NOT deserve to be someone’s 2nd choice. And frankly, he probably wants both of you…all the cake. He gets off on being wanted by two women. He doesn’t care about anyone else but himself.

    I hate to say it but I’m positive it was physical too. No matter what he says. My STBX was adamant that it was not physical for 3 days after I found out about the affair. Only when his friends threatened to tell me the truth did he finally tell me. And I would bet money what he told me was only 1% of the truth. Stupid narcissistic prick…

    I have to say it is very sad and frustrating how many people have to go through this with these horrible, soulless robots. But one thing that is true with all these stories is that the twisted mindfuckery and the pathological lying is who they are. Period. They will NEVER change. He has one foot out of the marriage and doesn’t care how you feel about it. It is always about him and always will be. RUN. You are not alone in this heartache. I know it probably feels like that. But you will persevere and overcome it. Sending you love and hugs!

  • Dear Hannah,

    Listen to what CL is saying and everyone else will say to you as well… please be free of him. But be prepared, when you get your lawyer to move forward, he’s going to change. When he can see he can no longer manipulate you and make you “pick me dance,” he will get angry. You said: “We don’t fight, we don’t argue, we have good conversation and a good sex life. We have been together 17 years, married for 7, childhood sweethearts. We have two gorgeous children aged 9 and 4. A beautiful home and a good life. We are in the best financial position we have ever been in and don’t really have many money worries.” It is very likely that he will try to alter that reality… I thought the same of the relationship I had with my FW ex… but to his family and AP, he said I didn’t love him, there was no sex, we fought all the time… it can be crazy making. I’m clearly projecting my personal experience here, just be prepared. He’s been lying to you for a long time and still is. He’s still trying to convince you there’s no physical relationship with OW… but unfortunately, there is. He’s gaslighting you. Please surround yourself with good friends and a therapist and protect yourself. Wishing you the best.

    • Agreed. Once the consequences of their actions and divorce are upon them, these people flip out. They become abusive, erratic, unpredictable, etc. My supposedly even-keel ex waged a two-year harassment campaign against me because I dared to want half of our marital assets. He couldn’t believe he had to give up half of “his stuff” and was adamant that we never had a real equal marriage, after 20 years together. Well, the judge disagreed, lol.

      It’s so hard to convince someone that their sad sausage ex will soon turn into a terrible monster. Even now, one of my close friends is going through this same thing, where she was convinced a split with her partner would go smoothly…but of course it isn’t because these people can’t handle consequences. It’s typical.

      • In fact, I think the degree of rage and nastiness is indexed to the degree of sad sausage-ness. The sadder the sausage, the nastier. And yes, the about face is a result of consequences.

        • Haha! I like that thought. Mine went crazy when I finally stood up for myself. He claimed I took everything from him when I stopped paying his car insurance, the electric bill while he continued to live in the house we shared (I had moved out), and when our church friends and his longtime buddies ended up siding with me. He turned into the devil—naming calling, swearing, yelling, trying desperately to make me feel bad for him. Toxic and exhausting energy vampires.

      • It’s so hard to see it from the inside of their Bizarro-World prison though, right? I also was married to what I thought was an “even-keel” guy. He was “nice.” He was “quiet.” He was never abusive to our son. But boy… when he was outed as the cheater pig he really is… the mask fell off hard and he was creepy and abusive. He suddenly treated our sweet 9 year old boy with contempt and rage. The things Asshat Ex said in court were so confusing to me… he lied up and down about what our marriage was like. Thankfully, like NotANiceChump, my judge saw through that FW too. Hannah, keep your head up. You can do this. But just brace yourself that he is likely to turn off the charm and turn on his surreal awful crappy side. And trust that that is the real guy. It’s who he always was and who he really is.

        • Yes, that’s an important part! When they turn into monsters, surreal as it may seem, trust that they are showing you who they really are and, in fact, their previous “niceness” was the fake act. It’s hard to imagine that someone can hide certain personality traits for years…but boy is it possible!

          Also, with time and distance, you find that there actually were red flags all along…that there were holes in their “nice guy” act that we either didn’t see or chose not see at the time. For example, in hindsight, it was odd that my ex refused to “agree to disagree,” like, ever. If I didn’t agree with him on even the smallest of issues, I got the silent treatment for days. Also odd that he never really maintained relationships with old friends and seemed to only have friendships with guys who were younger and worshipped him. There were dozens of other oddities that add up to a lot of red flags.

          • THIS ^^^ So much this. Yep… I didn’t catch the red flags either. My ex always said that each of his bosses was an idiot… he couldn’t hold a job for more than 2 years tops. Of course it was because his boss was an “idiot” (all 10+ of them apparently). He had zero friends that he kept in touch with. Little weirdnesses all throughout and I just didn’t see it. But I’m sooooo glad he’s OW’s problem now 🙂 Buh bye FW

            • Seems to me two years is a good litmus test to see behind a disordered person’s mask. An employee, friend, potential spouse.

          • So many red flags.

            On of the most obvious (or it should have been) is he could never remember my birthday. He would seemingly feel a sense of pride that he forgot (hard to explain) but I began to see it in hindsight.

            Oh he may have remembered a couple birthdays through the years, especially in the early days, but not many.

            This alone might not have been so bad, but I always remembered his Bday and made a deal out of it. My guess is through the years he always had another woman on the line, and he was likely romantically linked to her vs me.

            I was just the appliance that did the image stuff/work and he had to recharge my batteries a couple times a week, so he did what he had to do.

  • Every relationship has good times, and bad. If you are emotionally bound to a spouse, boyfriend, friend, family member, there will be times of conflict. I have joked that if I cloned myself, and we lived as room mates, we would disagree. It’s just natural. But if you love, respect, and truly support each other, the relationship survives, and is bigger than the conflict.

    Some people are just incapable of keeping the bargain. For them, agreements are just words, and everything is subject to change. They do not live commitment. They do not honor promises. It is always about what they want, and what benefits them.

    What I discovered myself, and have read about over and over in other chumps stories, is that we chumps have a problem seeing reality. What you think is the first affair, is probably not. When you learn past life details that include questionable behavior, chumps tend to say “he is mature now, he learned his lesson, he won’t do that to me.” It is not that these explanations are not possible, it is that they are not probable. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.

    People are capable of change. I have changed, over years of study, and commitment, and hard work. Fixing my FOO issues was essential to me fixing my chump issues. I had to WANT to fix me. I had to ACCEPT I could not fix others. My Ex’s did not desire any change, because their life choices worked for them. They lived in the moment. I lived in both the moment, and the long term plan. I was committed, they were not. I had to be able to walk away from accepting abusive behavior.

    Our differences were incompatible. I did not need another apology and promise. Neither was sincere. Both were designed to get me back on board with being useful to them. I found I could live a better life without the drama. Peace is a wonderful feeling you find when you wake up in a quiet, orderly, sane life.

    During the years I had to co-parent, I had to deal with unnecessary problems created by FW actions and decisions. Those years pass. Children grow up, property is sold, life goes on. On the other side of all the chaos of the divorce, peace is possible.

    Chumps have to learn to give up a false dream. They have to put on reality goggles. They have to develop the ability to discern the truth, and abandon their willingness to believe the lie.

  • Hannah, more than likely the affair “that just happened” wasn’t his first rodeo. I’m sure he’s pursued other women this one just didn’t reject his advances. Please also realize that they have slept together and even if for some reason it doesn’t work out with this AP, why would you want to be Plan B? Oh and you will continue to be Plan B because he won’t stop cheating and pursuing other women. When he finds someone else that will take him he’ll come at you with “well you just couldn’t get over “that just happened”, you made me feel not worthy or some other horseshit and he’ll end up leaving in any case. Only he’ll have more time and opportunity to hide or spend marital funds. The thing is you are in a Catch 22 situation. Number 1. If you roll over and forgive him, he’ll have absolutely no respect for you and will end up really detesting/resenting you. Number 2. If you decide you will no longer tolerate his disrespect and abuse he’ll beg to come back, but then please read Number 1 again.

  • Hannah,

    I am wondering if you have read LACGAL yet.

    When I read that it was a game changer because it showed me MY behavior. Nailed ME as well as the fw but I was more shocked by my own behavior over the years.

    Your story is so similar to mine.

    Mine confessed years ago in our relationship and I overlooked it. He said it was a one night stand and I took him for his word but it happened on several occasions…..ooops…and I overlooked it.

    We had another child (‘Love child’….oh the names and patterns that I now know…ouch)

    Be glad you have a job. Be glad you are young. Really.

    I didn’t have a job – gave everything up to be a SAHM – everything. Did I mention everything?

    I am old now and in the state where I live, the legal system doesn’t care about age at all.

    Ouch – another rude awakening.

    About 4 years ago the guy did almost exactly what yours has done. I pick-me-danced, RICed – the whole works UNTIL I found LACGAL about 2 years into it.

    I loved him dearly and couldn’t imagine my life without him so I was willing to ‘do anything’ to save our marriage…..Bring out the chump music here….

    He picked her.

    and I found out he had been cheating for our entire 30+ years together. AKA = a serial cheater.

    I now know about covert passive aggressive narcissists – a must read topic too because these people are soooo good at what they do they fool just about everyone – really!

    We are now divorced and every day I find out something new – more understanding into the behaviors that defined our relationship together.

    It was brutal in the beginning but I listened and read and went NC asap.

    My life has been better because of this ever since.

    This pain is growing and letting go pain vs the pain of pain trying to fix something I simply can not. Once a cheater, always a cheater fits in my circumstance. Forbidden fruit is too alluring once it has been tasted…

    Your situation may be different; may have different results.

    In any event, I am so sorry you are having to go through this. Be gentle with yourself and surround yourself with friends and family who LOVE YOU.

  • He’s doing more than “thinking” while he’s away. Trust me on that.

    It sounds like he’s pulling your heart strings to make sure you pity him (and question yourself) rather than be angry.

    Him saying he didn’t go looking for it is another way to shift the blame on to the other woman, the universe or hell, even the wind.

    Oh and “it was just a kiss” = stop “overreacting”

    His manipulation is cowardly and pathetic.

    I hope you’re able to see it for what it is soon.

  • Hannah, I’m so sorry you and your children are going through this. Life is hard enough right now, and I hope you have people to lean on. Reading your story – the manipulative and duplicitous things your husband is saying and doing, your empathy and patience toward him, and the terrible position of bargaining this nightmare places you in – reminds me that there was a reason I, too, was fooled and sucked into the Pick Me after DDay, and even allowed myself to be hoovered into a second; cheaters are so deceptive and unethical, and chumps are so earnest and stuck, with so much at stake. Of course we fall for it!

    In the depths of my own despair and confusion, being royally mindfucked, it helped me to think about what my ex’s actions and words showed about his values. It also helped me to reverse the situation and imagine what I would say/do in his place (of course, none of it – that’s the point) whenever I was feeling sorry for him or questioning my reactions; it’s a pretty illuminating exercise in reciprocity, grounding and affirming when you’re world is upside down and you’re being fed word salad and desperately want to spackle to make an impossible situation ok.

    Finally, as you worry about this man you love “loving” another woman, consider his definition of love. Is it yours? Is he even capable? When I saw that my ex was telling young women he barely knew he loved them within weeks of meeting… I knew didn’t share his shallow and immature perspective on love, life and loyalty. I was heartbroken and blindsided, but I knew I couldn’t worry about whether he “loved” me or anyone else. Sadly, it was meaningless, and I understand that he can never share or provide what I’m looking for.

    Sooner or later, more and more incriminating details are sure to surface, and you’ll see how correct instinct to leave is. I’m relatively new here and haven’t read the thousands of stories Tracy has, but I’m coming to see the patterns already. You’re too shocked and too close to see the big picture now, as we once all were after being betrayed by our partners of years and decades. Avoid the RIC (Esther Perel, etc. – all bunk). Hopefully, you’re reading the terms (Sad Sausage!) and as many blog posts as you can here from CL and you might be able to avoid some painful missteps and protect yourself/your family. It’s unbelievable, the similarities in these cheaters… and your situation checks a lot of boxes. Number one: your husband is (and likely has been for awhile, when you begin to reflect) using pity as a cloak and a weapon – just like mine did, shamelessly. Do not be tricked!

    A painful but practical bit of advice: get STI testing – and insist your husband does. Do not allow him to bully you out of it, even if he gets angry and tries to play the victim.

    • If the cheater gets angry at you for doing something rational (like getting checked for STDs or wanting a post-nup), then that’s like the nail in the coffin. It took more than one nail in the coffin for me because I was afraid of rocking the boat. If I made him angry, then I was ‘essentially chasing him away and the marriage.’ It took years away from the marriage and the dick to realize that it was never me. I wonder if I would have listened had I had someone back then who had more experienced with cheaters. Probably not. I’m just happy he’s not my problem anymore.

  • Oh Hannah, I’m so sorry. It’s devastating. But, your marriage is over. The faster you emotionally detach from him, the better off you’ll be…because he won’t be able to manipulate you anymore. Follow CLs advice, create a safe, sane, and stable loving home for your kids. Get half your marital assets, heal, put this guy in your rear view mirror.

    I could tell you a long winded story about my experience, as a cautionary tale, but the better thing to know right now is that you’re not safe with this man anymore—he’s no longer your home. And, things will get worse before they get better, because as soon as he starts feeling the consequences of his actions, he will flip out. Prepare for that.

    So, emotionally detach, get a lawyer and draw up draft divorce papers and custody agreements, separate yourself financially from him ASAP, and be sure to let inquiring minds know that your marriage is over because your ex got a girlfriend and that wasn’t gonna work for you. Then, live.

    I guarantee that with time and space you’ll see all of the red flags that you had missed. And that will help you avoid guys like him in the future. But for now, just get out. Your house is on fire, escape safely. Grab your kids and go.

    Best of luck.

  • Hannah, this is my story. My ex did all of this. He moved out and into his friends’ house to cry to them on their couch. He went back and forth between the homewrecker and me. I was like you — totally in shock and willing to do a lot to “save my marriage.” But the truth is, it was already lost! There was no saving it. He didn’t value it, and your H doesn’t value yours either. He ex loved the kibbles and all the loving attention from his “friend at work.” He lied to his family about her, to me, to everyone. Said it was just a friendship and that she was going through a “hard time.” Turns out she left her H for MY H, and he waffled around for a while due to impression management. He is “such a great guy,” he couldn’t just bail on his wife and run into the schmoopie’s arms, so he had to pretend he was “making up his mind” before leaving for good. Truth is, his mind had been made up when he walked out on me. Our marriage was over; I just didn’t know it. I was you!!!!!

    What i should have done is take CL’s advice. I should have told him to screw off, told his family the truth of his affair, and i should have lawyered up and gotten mighty. Sadly, i stayed a chump. We had little kids and a great life too. I wanted to be able to say i did everything i could to keep him. But again, I didn’t leave my family in the first place! I didn’t have an affair with my coworker! What was I so worried about? I should have found my backbone and gotten mighty. I hope you will, Hannah. I’m so sorry this is happening to you. It’s the worst possible pain. I know it all too well. Read CL’s book. You will see that you didn’t cause it, you can’t control it and you definitely can’t cure it. Your biggest crime is that you unwittingly married an f’wit. Trust that he sucks.

    I’m so sorry!

    • Oh, and my ex did all the sad sausage stuff too. Said he felt like a “f-up,” that he’d “f”d up his life.” Boohoo, poor sad sausage. Yes, he HAD f’d up his life, but what did he do to fix it? Nothing. He once broke up with the coworker (we were still married) and told me he wanted to give us a try again. We went out on a nice date and he looked like he’d lost his best friend. He was practically in tears. I’d never seen his eyes so sad. It was that night that i realized he was truly gone. He missed HER. He wanted to be with her.

      I’m afraid once they bond with someone else, they are toast. They’re gone. There’s really no saving things after that.

      He pulled that again after we were divorced. One NYE he sent me a sad email in the middle of the night, saying he missed his family. He didn’t know “how to get it back,” but he knew “he couldn’t replace it.” Hannah, he STILL stayed with her, he still blew up his family. He half-assed a return to me, but it was so half-hearted even I, BigTimeChump, could see it wasn’t going to stick.

      I hate to say it, but the best thing you can do is end this quickly and try to move on with your life. I know it’s not what you want to hear, but i’m afraid it’s the best option. Otherwise, he stays in control and you stay the chump at the end of his whip. Trust that he sucks.

      • Sad sausage + flattery. It’s pathetic and evil. “I miss feeling like a decent human. I miss your parents. I can’t believe I’ve destroyed my life. How could I do this to you? I’m sick. Please, you know me. You know who I really am. Let me prove my love to you. You’re the best thing in my life. Imagine what the next 50 years will be like.” I heard all of this and so much more. It’s not unique or authentic or genuine. Don’t fall for it.

        • It’s pretty disgusting when you read the same kinds of things… to OWs. Not nice to have in your brain, but helps with acceptance, so good in the long run. It’s a toxic pattern – theirs, not yours.

        • My ex wife said all the same things. All the regrets, wishes she could go back. How she lost me, how she ruined the kids and so forth yet still kept cheating and lying. Disordered people they are.

          • Right, that someone would not only do this to you in the first place, but then ask you to make more sacrifices and take major risks and beg you to come back and believe in and trust them…while continuing to cheat and lie and hide the truth?

            And Langele, right on. I think I might have actually said that.

            • She told me one day before she even knew that I had filed for divorce that if our marriage was to work, I’d have to let go of what she did and put it behind us!. I’d simply need to just get over it.

              • that is similar to what my esx FW did when he arranged a meeting with out preacher (preacher was blindsided) he thought my ex was really repentant, or he would not have arranged the meeting. Of this I am sure.

                Anyway, the first thing out of my fw’s mouth was to list a couple of my faults, which I assume was the set up to letting me know that he was willing to let me win him back, but I had to change. Then he lobbed the “I can’t make any promises” at me.

                I pretty much just sat there and let him make a huge ass of himself. After the “promises” remark, I stood up and said to the preacher “thank you for your efforts, but we are done here”

                Preacher called me to apologize and said he didn’t say what I thought he was going to say. I said “Really? he said exactly what I though he would say.”

        • “How could I do this to you? I’m sick. Please, you know me. You know who I really am.”

          Yes, I know now.

      • BigTimeChump

        I remember the same thing too…Oh the crazyness of it. I was out there chasing him, hoping beyond hope – while he was out there chasing her. I now know he no thoughts of me other than a poor Plan B.

        Foot came down when I realized our children were Plan B too. Self esteem then was he could do that to me but NOT to them.

        He did it to us all

        and walked away and tried to come back too but it was too late. I knew. The knife had gutted me. My heart was blown into a billion small pieces.

        Almost nothing, in my book, is as terrible as watching the man you love falling in love with someone else. (What is worse is finding out they have been at it your entire marriage and before even before marrying you but I will have to edit that because knowing he is a serial cheater actually made it easier – made it clear HE was the problem, not me.)

        Never again for this woman.

  • These are the actions (back n forth yo-yo) of a man who is not ready to give up his affair partner. Those 10 days back together must not have been SO good (for him) if he still needs more time “to think about it.” He panicked when you confronted him about the affair because he’s not ready to put a plan into action, so he ghosted her and buttered you up. She probably told him to go f*ck off and enjoy his life with wifey (reverse psychology here) and he panicked again and now it’s her turn for the serving of butter. She probably forced him to “step-it up” if he wants her back, which means date-nights, overnights, more time together…which he CAN’T do if he’s living at home with his wife. Therefore, he needs a place to live on his own and “get space” so he can pursue a double-life with OW. Very simple choice (if you even want to humor this nonsense)…come back home by the end of the day or divorce proceedings will begin by the end of the week. The next time he leaves for “space” (which he will when he starts freaking out thinking that OW is moving on and he will lose her 😭) it’s over for good. In the meantime (which could be a short duration, so move quickly), get all of your ducks in a row. Contact attorney, review finances, develop housing plan and the kid’s care if anything needs to change, etc…. It’s only a matter of time. My favorite saying of ALL time… once you let that genie out of the bottle, it’s almost impossible to shove back in and put the lid tightly back on! He can’t forget the “feelings” of love he feels with OW…so that will haunt him, and you, forever. Good luck!

  • Get the settlement figured out while he still feels guilty. Guilt has an expiration date then he will start justifying his behavior to himself. Stealth is your friend- Lawyer up, therapist up, collect the financial statements and protect and freeze the assets. If he is spending money on her now he may be hiding spending.good luck. I’m sorry you are part of this club. Do all this and cry all the way through it but do it. Hugs!!!

    • Absolutely.

      My lawyer told me that, “believe it or not, we are dealing with some guilt here, so we need to get the separation plan in place”

      My only regret is I only asked for six months, I should have gone for the whole three years, but it stretched out to a year anyway.

      And also understand that even if you live in a no fault/50/50 state, that does not preclude a good temp maintenance plan.

      Have a one or two year history of your credit card ran, or do it on line. (I had to get it from the cc company as online was no an option back then.) Run a two year history of bank transactions and start highlighting for your lawyer. Financial fraud of a spouse is no legal, and in many cases can be recouped. That was how I got my maintenance plan. He had to pay all my living expenses for the entire time we were separated, including my car payment. My lawyers argument was he was using marital funds to plot and finance his abandonment of me, now I needed time to get strong enough to live on my own. Judge agreed.

      Really wish I had nailed that fucker for three years, but still he paid back a lot of the money he stole for his whore, whether he liked it or not.

    • “Get the settlement figured out while he still feels guilty. Guilt has an expiration date then he will start justifying his behavior to himself. Stealth is your friend- Lawyer up, therapist up, collect the financial statements and protect and freeze the assets. If he is spending money on her now he may be hiding spending.”‘

      Just putting this out here again because it is SO important.

    • ALL THIS! I waited too long and by the time we were divorcing he had long convinced himself that his affairs were not his fault and were because I was a terrible wife. I wish I had stricken when he had even a scintilla of fleeting remorse. He might not have dragged out our divorce the way he did.

  • This is how it all started for me. Husband had an “emotional affair” for 4 months before I found out. I asked him to stop, he said he would, and told me he ended it.

    He didn’t.

    Eventually they stopped a couple months after I found out because she was much much younger, we had five kids and she didn’t want that responsibility.

    He promised would never do it again and I stayed.

    Fast forward 7 years, and there have been dozens of other women. DOZENS. That I know of.

    He had 4 “serious” girlfriends last year.

    Every year is worse than the last.

    I found out there was unfaithfulness before the one 7 years ago. There has been constant infidelity since.
    It is absolutely devastating what you’re going through. I’ve been there. I’m still there.
    In my experience, they don’t change. They don’t want to.
    My husband was probably cheating all along, before I found out, I just didn’t know it.
    He could apologize, you could “do the work” and “reconcile”.
    You could have a season of fildelity, a few months, maybe even a couple of years.

    Then he’ll do it again.

    Do you want to be married and invested with someone who is so callous with your heart, children, and family? Not to mention your sanity, safety, and security.

    Don’t be me. I wish I’d divorced him years ago. He’s only gotten worse. I could have saved myself from years of pain and sorrow.

  • Oh, the game of trapdoors. You are living a normal, everyday, beautiful life when seemingly without warning a trapdoor flips under your feet and you fall 10 feet down into a strange room you knew nothing about, where you don’t recognize anything. It is a terrible, ugly place and you crash about trying to get your bearing. Then another trapdoor opens and you find yourself in an even uglier and more terrible place. And again. And again. And the person who is doing this to you is your own, much-loved husband, and after every fall he will tell you there is no further you will fall. But as the wise women say “There is a low below the low you know.”

    Hannah, you’ve fallen through the first trapdoor. We trapdoor veterans know that there are others to come. The trapdoor that it was a physical affair. The trapdoor that this isn’t the first time. The trapdoor of unprotected sex and risking your life and the lives of your children. The trapdoor that he is a coward, and a liar and has thrown you under the bus with his lies to save his own skin. And later, the trapdoor of his blaming you and making you out to be crazy.

    I’m so sorry and I wish it was different, for you and me both. I had so much love and respect for my husband and thought he was an honorable man. Then I thought he was a mostly honorable man, though troubled and with an addiction, a treatable disease. That was a hundred trapdoors ago.

    It. Never. Ends. Until you stop it, that is.

      • Thanks B&L:

        Minwalla gets it. Wish we could clone him and nuke everyone else. What the RIC does is unconscionable… even worse than what FWs do…

    • “There is a low below the low you know.”

      For example:
      One day a few years after a couple DD’s, X and I went out to eat with a couple of friends. One married woman, one single man. We had a 13 year old babysitter for the 4 children 10,8,4&4. I went in the house with the male friend and after about 20 minutes looked out the window to see where X and married woman good friend were. She was giving him a hummer in the front seat of his truck out in front of the living room window in front of god and everybody. Had the kids or babysitter looked out, they would have seen it also. I was in shock. Stopped her at the door with a simple “get out.”

      The children didn’t know what happened only that something had happened.

      The next day while the kids were at a good friends house, X and I talked. He regaled me with the “sex addict” bullshit which I didn’t buy for a nanosecond. He continued with more spinning and lying. Then the telephone ran just in the middle of another lie. It was the husband of a different woman who was the OW years ago. Apparently x and previous OW had never stopped cheating. The woman with the HPV.

      The low gets lower.

      I’m free now.

      What would I tell my younger self? Get away from this waste of your good life and the waste of your children’s wonderful years.

      • Langele:

        You are a warrior princess to have survived. I am overcome with loathing for your X and your estwhile “friend” and hope Hannah escapes before she has to endure shit like that.

        In ancient Hawaii there was a City of Refuge for criminals. If a criminal could flee from the retribution due him by society and friends/family of the victim, he could live there. Among people just like him. It makes sense in a rough justice kind of way: no greater hell that having to live among people equally perverted and know you’ve been banned from the presence of good and loving people forever. Ultimately all the lies they tell forge their own shackles.

      • A former colleague wrote a memoir about his crazy childhood. Both parents were narcs. His mother’s supposed best friend pursued his father, destroyed parents’ marriage, won the cheating husband and inherited his money.

        One of the servants told the writer what she caught his mother’s bestie doing to his father during a dinner party. Dede was shining his knob in the wine cellar. Keepin’ it classy. So much for her coming from a good family and being a debutante. A real monster such that one of her own sons didn’t invite her his engagement dinner.

    • Thank you for this trapped door analogy Principled Life. It is truly well written and fully describes that feeling of having your world drop out from under you and the spiralling downward that occurs once infidelity is discovered, or is felt to be discovered. There is no way anyone can understand this feelings unless they’ve been through it!

  • Hannah – If he has given you loving cards, notes or letters through the years extolling your virtues, telling you how lucky he is, etc. that may be good fodder for your attorney too.

    Have you scheduled your STD tests yet? Get busy with that too.

    He was fucking around with a co-worker during a pandemic. So not just STDs he could get and give – Covid to you and the kids too! Oh, sorry, “just kissing”. Sure. Right.

  • “Talk to a lawyer. Move the money. Do all the things.”

    Hannah, why do you see the lawyer, move the money, and do all the things you need to do to protect yourself?

    Because you had a contract with your husband and he broke it. Even if you decide you want a man who betrayed you, if you take him back immediately with no consequences, you are just teaching him how to treat you. He can cheat, he can lie, he can manipulate you–and nothing will happen to him. Now, you’re raising kids. If you let them do whatever they please with no consequences, you raise kids who think there are no rules and no consequences.

    You’re in the most difficult time of all for those of us who are betrayed. You’re in the “I can’t believe Cheater would do this. Surely they will come to their senses.” That denial puts you at terrible risk. You are allowing someone who betrayed you to make all the decisions while you sit on the sidelines and smoke hopium or beg him to come back or do other variations of the pick me dance.

    Get in the driver’s seat. See the three lawyers in your area. File for child support and spousal support. Secure your savings. Make sure you have bank accounts and credit card in your own name. Move your paycheck direct deposit into that separate account. Copy all your financial records. Put your family heirlooms and personal valuables in a safe place where Cheater has no access to them. Run a credit check.

    Start self care. Regular exercise. See your doctor and get tested for STDs. Tell your family and closest friends what is going on. Do not keep his dirty secrets. Tell the kids in an age appropriate way: “Daddy has a girlfriend and married people aren’t allowed to do that.”

    It’s hard to let go of any marriage when you are and have been all-in. The problem is you’ve just learned that your husband sees the marriage as optional. He’s NOT all-in. It’s hard when you think these thoughts: “We have two gorgeous children aged 9 and 4. A beautiful home and a good life. We are in the best financial position we have ever been in and don’t really have many money worries.” Remember, that’s your view of your life. His view is that Schmoopie is where he’s putting his love, time, money and future thinking.

    Trust your gut that tells you he’s checked out. Stop talking to him. Really, just stop. He lies. He manipulates. He “sad sausages” and keeps you paralyzed. Pay attention to what he does: he has an affair, he moves out, he still wants her. Believe that the truth is in his action. And that means you should ACT to protect yourself and the kids.

  • Oh, and PS. You look in his eyes and see he is “tortured”? No one has him tied to a table with electrodes on his genitals. You don’t know what emotion he is feeling. What you know is that he is choosing to keep his cake–his wife and kids paralyzed by his indecision on one side and his Schmoopie on the other.

    This should be one of the big rules: don’t mind-read a cheater. Look only at behavior. What does he do? He moves out.

    If he’s tortured, it’s at the thought of giving up 1/2 or more of his assets and paying child support for 14 years and spousal support for however long you can get it. He has to give things up. That’s the torture.

    • “If he’s tortured, it’s at the thought of giving up 1/2 or more of his assets and paying child support for 14 years and spousal support for however long you can get it. He has to give things up. That’s the torture.”

      Exactly. I gave the cheater I was married to waaaay too much credit.

    • “ You don’t know what emotion he is feeling. What you know is that he is choosing to keep his cake–his wife and kids paralyzed by his indecision on one side and his Schmoopie on the other.

      This should be one of the big rules: don’t mind-read a cheater. Look only at behavior.”
      ^^^
      These are such good points, LAJ: 1. You have no idea what a lying cheater is feeling or thinking, and 2. their “indecision” is a pathetic joke, it comes at the great expense of their innocent partners and children, and they are not entitled to it. It’s the cheater, not the chump, who needs to prove his worth and allow time and space for betrayed partner to heal and think and call the shots and decide what is best. If that’s not the dynamic, then it’s still abuse and they’re still up to (and are) no good. You don’t need any proof beyond the evidence of their weak and selfish character – the absolute lack of concern for anyone but themselves as they prioritize their need for “time and space,” abandoning betrayed partners to flounder and flail and keep up appearances and clean up the cheaters’ messes. They are tortured? Who cares. They deserve it. They are torturers, and they did it, and keep on doing it, to themselves. It is psychological torture; honestly, it felt like that at times.

      The whole time and space/indecision rigamarole is so backwards and fucked up.

  • Hannah,

    I’m sorry you’re going through this. You are now part of a club you didn’t want to be part of. But welcome, nonetheless!!

    I hope you find strength in our shared stories and inspiration from the collective wisdom here.

    Get angry and let that anger propel you forward.

    Remember that NONE of this is your fault. He’s an entitled, low-character POS. You didn’t cause him to cheat. And don’t let him lay that on you. My guess is that he will try.

    Oh, and if you haven’t already done so, I suggest you read or listen to LAC;GAL. Tracy stiffened my spine. I listened to that book dozens of times. I’m not exaggerating.

    Good luck.

  • Whew. CL lays it on the line, exactly as it is.

    Listen.

    Think about it. You don’t want to be where you are, but that’s what it is. He already left. You let him back. He left again. That’s an entitled fuckwit.

    How to protect yourself? First, remember he is not your friend. Now, get the best lawyer you can get but do it on the down low. Do not give him any indication of what you think, feel or do. You’re on your own, sister, like it or not. Protect yourself and your children from an irresponsible cheater and liar.

  • If you don’t divorce him, and immediately begin all of the legal steps to get your life back, your story will be exactly the same as every other chump in existence. As painfilled as it is, you can choose to end this asap and avoid all of the chump traps that are awaiting you.

  • Oh, so you have a poor covert narc! Been there. He is sooo good, fighting with this feeling, trying to save the family – you almost sympathize with him, don’t you? It’s like he is the victim of some feelings he didn’t plan:) Like feelings appear from looking at other person – do you really believe that he had done NOTHING to get involved with OW?
    Don’t be fooled again – he is NOT so poor. My ex was crying during our night talks and therapy, poor soul. But the minute OW gave him the green light (she dumped her fiance she was cheating on for a long time, not only with my husband) – he ran away from me and the kids in a second…No so poor anymore, not a victim anymore. Guess what? He started to be arrogant and really nasty.

    “I now feel he has taken my kindness for weakness.”
    THIS. That is what I was telling my husband. “Please do not think giving you a chance means I am weak. I ust try to save our family”
    They are not worth it dear.
    I know what you are going through. My husband ran to OW when my kids were 5 and 8…
    Now we are better than ever. And he seems so frustrated when we have contact from time to time.
    But I do not care. He chose his path.
    I am sorry but drop the hopium. You r husband doesn’t love you. What is worse – he doesnt respect you. His pity game is buying time until things get straight with OW.
    Gather the proofs and fight.

  • What I see is ‘me’. I see someone that has years invested and she doesn’t want to throw away her investment. That was me. I pick me danced …, the Samba, the Cha-cha-cha, the Foxtrot…, you name it, I danced it. I tap-danced furiously trying to make the Fuckwit see what he was giving up. But what happened is that I had given up on me. I valued him much higher than I valued myself and I was discarded anyway. The reason my marriage lasted 30 years is because I was really, really good at dancing. But thank the Good Lord that He allowed the Fuckwit to discard me. That’s when I finally had to learn that my value does not depend on anybody else recognizing it — especially a fuckwit! Hannah needs to get rid of her husband ASAP. This woman needs to invest in herself starting right now. She needs to realize that her investment with the fuckwit was a loss, but it will be her gain to cut the loss and only focus on her and her children. She will heal much faster the earlier she gets started. Ask me how I know.

  • “ Sometimes you must leave a marriage because you VALUE marriage. And you refuse to accept a sham.”
    I am only 4 months out from separating; divorce is in the works. Since we had a long term marriage of 36 years, my brain still will send me that thought circuit of “how can I make this marriage better.” Then I remember that I am out of that sickening mess, the mess due to SBXH’s actions over many years. I chose to get out because I decided I could not live in a sham marriage. Thank you CL, for being so direct, succinct, & spot on.

    • UpandOut,
      I can really relate. Mine was 30 years and I’m out 2 months. My head still spins with thoughts of what did I do what could I have done and how could I make it better. I too am working on the divorce and had to leave the house because I could a not stay with someone like that.I have to realize my marriage was a sham too.
      It sickening but I hear I will be grateful in the end. Yesterday I found out he had a tough girl 20 something years old and he is 58 staying at the house as “ she needs a place to crash.” Sure…maybe he will turn his anger and toxicity to someone else.

      • Yes, that sounds awful. You’re dodging a worse bullet!
        I am SO glad to be out. I am not happy that it happened, but I am content knowing that I was strong enough to leave the abuse. And that I gained the self respect I was missing. I hope so for you too.

    • Together 30 years, separated two years ago, divorced 2 months ago and I still can’t believe I’m planning a future without him.

      It speaks to the loving commitment I was capable of making. It also speaks to the courage and power I found when forced to do all the work of untangling a 30 year relationship.

      But it is surreal – particularly during a pandemic.

      • “But it is surreal – particularly during a pandemic.”

        It is. I’m holding on by reminding myself that I need to see what life looks like on the other side of this pandemic. We finally resurfaced… to this.

  • Can I just compliment on the snark comment ‘both heads’ !!! Honestly I about fell off the settee laughing. CL … you are a certified genius.

  • Like most other commenters, I don’t think your husband is “thinking,” I suspect he is wooing the OW and trying to get his new life arranged. You are his Plan B, at best.

    If, however, you are not willing to go to a lawyer and start planning your exit, you should at the very least use this time to decide your minimum requirements for his return to “work on” the marriage, and the maximum amount of time you are willing to wait for him to “clear his head.” What must he do to earn some trust back from you? Should he shift large sums of money from his savings/retirement into college funds for the kids with you as the only named trustee? Should he have the house transferred into your name? Should he quit and get a new job? Your marriage is not something he can treat like a revolving door. What is the price of reentry?

    Odds are that any demand you make from him will lead to an explosion of temper, “How dare you expect anything of me, I’m the one giving up my soul mate.” Or, he will agree but fail or refuse to take any actual steps toward meeting your demand. Any response other than, “Okay. I screwed up. I know why you don’t trust me. I will take some risks, like giving up shared home ownership, to show I can be trustworthy” tells you all you need to know.

    If you cannot think of demands that would make you feel confident again in your marriage, then that is another sign you should move on.

    • And please don’t let him play the “You don’t trust me” card.

      Of course you don’t trust him and you shouldn’t trust him. He lies. He cheats. He breaks his most promises. He puts his wife and kids at risk. If this was some other person who lied to you, cheated you, broke important promises and put you at risk, you wouldn’t trust him or her. And you shouldn’t.

      When he says that, and he will, your reply is “I don’t trust you because you are not trustworthy. The only one who can change that is you. And you have to figure out how to do that on your own.”

      If he’s moved out, I’d change all the locks, including the garage code. Otherwise, you may be stuck with him coming and going for months.

    • “Any response other than, ‘Okay. I screwed up. I know why you don’t trust me. I will take some risks, like giving up shared home ownership, to show I can be trustworthy’ tells you all you need to know.”
      ^^^
      And this needs to be in writing – legally documented – before you let him come back. My ex said and even wrote all of this (daily, begging me to come back after DDay 2 when I ignored him for months). The DAY I returned, based on terms he had proposed and I had agreed to, all of these promises went out the window and he was again the angry victim with all the control.

  • “I’m going off to think and get my head straight.” Is Cheater Speak #101. Translation: “Now that you’re onto me, I need freedom to fuck Schmoopie and lessen the odds of being caught.”

    Xhole added he was “going off to think AND GET HELP”! An elaborate lie was added to say he was diligently searching for a therapist. He even asked said he’d narrowed it down to 2 potentials and even asked my opinion whether or not he should choose the man or the lady therapist? ALL BULLSHIT!
    Cheaters love these “days off to think” as it provides fabulous opportunities for Sexcapades.
    He’s gas lighting you, Hannah. Be strong and dump that Asshole.

    • Along these lines, one of the times my H broke up with schmoopie, he called me and suggested “we” (as in, our family of 4) move to a different state and start a new life. He was literally so bonded to schmoopie that it would take moving out of our hometown and starting over to separate himself. Of course i was filled with hopium, and of course he got right back together with her, not 3 days later. They will say anything, total f’wits.

      • It’s interesting when Cheaters use a “big move” for a fresh start.

        My “friend” who lived down the street from us told me the sad tale that her husband came home the day before and abruptly announced to her that they will list the house TOMORROW and move 4 hours away! At first I felt sorry for living. Being married to such a tyrant who would dictate they uproot their family so seemingly out of the blue. Well, it turns out she was fucking my husband right under my nose and she would text me almost nightly to say how much she loved me and “valued my friendship”. Translation: “you are a Chump GF and I’ve set my sights on your FW because I like the shiny things you have and never loved my own Chump to begin with – only his shiny things that I now get 1/2 of.” Well her Hubs was a sharp businessman and sniffed out the affair much sooner than I did. It was his 2nd marriage so I believe he gave her an ultimatum – move 4 hours away or I’ll DIVORCE your ass and expose the affair to all your church groups. Yep they moved. She still tries to stalk me but I’ve blocked her everywhere. Funny side note: my daughter tells me FW and Schmoopie #2 are looking for rec property to summer in the same town as Schmoopie #1! Ohhh the plot thickens. I’m 4 years since he left and now starting to get my life back and am excited about our FW-FREE FUTURE!
        Hannah, these FW’s all deserve each other. Glad you’re here. You will get through this!!!!

  • Run, run, run. Listen to CL and Chump Nation.

    I got the same line. OW was just a friend that listened to his problems. They got drunk and slept together one time, and they both agreed it was a huge mistake. I kept questioning him as the details did not add up, and he ended up writing a confession letter about how they met online in a chatroom for troubled marriages, blah, blah, blah just to lay out on paper all of the details. I continued to suffer from severe anxiety whenever I was around him that I also felt so ill and could barely function. One of our last in-person conversations was that it made me sick to be around him. For the sake of my physical health, I used the confession letter as evidence to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery just three weeks after DDay. Thank God I trusted my intuition and stood up for my physical health….

    Three months later while in the middle of financial settlement negotiations, I found his Tinder Plus subscription on our Apple TV I was using. It had been active for at least the past 1 year plus of our marriage. DON’T BELIEVE THE LIES.

  • What’s that saying others have said here…
    Don’t make someone a priority who is only making you an option. He’s test driving his new relationship. He’s not thinking of you. Sorry but we all see it. Put up your boundary. Tell him no and to stop this shit right now or GTFO forever. Letting him wait is letting him fuck schmoopie without having to face you. Big hugs- you deserve better. Don’t give him space- I think that’s the danger zone personally

  • Dear Hannah, I’m so sorry this happened to you. Heartbreaking. As someone who has experience with being devalued and wanting to keep it all together for the family… and with a husband who said he’ll spend the rest of his life making it up to me- I’m sorry to say that your best option is to kick him out and value yourself.
    If he crawls back later you can decide then… but for now you really need to get his ass away from you and show him that you are valuable and that you don’t put up with this kind of treatment. Put the ball in your park. Get away from him before there’s nothing left of you.
    He has shown you what he’s capable of. And he’s capable of this.

  • Oh Hannah, I am so sorry to welcome you to the club no one wants to join!

    You are only 5 weeks out from Dday, so I know that you are still suffering from shock and denial BUT you need to start taking matters into your own hands now.

    Is this marriage acceptable to you? This is the first question you need to ask yourself. Are you okay with being married to someone who “crosses the line” with female friends? He may claim this is a one-time thing, that he made “a” mistake, but the fact is that he has shown he is capable of crossing the line. Are you okay with being married to someone who tells you that he loves someone else? Are you okay with being married to someone who needs to leave you and your children to figure out whether or not he wants to stay in the marriage?

    If so, then that’s okay, but you get to live with this situation.

    If not, then take the advice offered.

    Lawyer up. It looks as if you live in the UK. Contact solicitors experienced with family law. Discover your rights. Some places require a long legal separation. It may be that by moving out of the family home, he has, under law, abandoned his family. You need to get your head around how the family law in your jurisdiction affects your situation.

    By the way, now is the time to go for a good settlement. He’s still feeling a bit guilty and may agree to a quick divorce and a good settlement. The longer he gets used to living with no consequences, the more entitled he’ll feel and he will start fighting you. He will switch from Channel Self-Pity to Channel Rage.

    Get therapy You will need it for yourself and you will need it for the kids. Find someone who understands infidelity and trauma bonding. Infidelity is a type of abuse, and you can ask them how they feel about infidelity. If they start to mention something about “both sides,” then run.

    Get angry. Many people are afraid of anger because it can be consuming. Embrace your anger and use it as a tool to keep you motivated. He’s told you he’s with his mother. Are you sure? Also, you mention you “discovered” the affair. Did he tell you about it or did you, like so many of us, stumble across it?

    If he told you about it, and he’s still waffling, please know that he isn’t really waffling. The best guess is that he’s been telling Schmoopie that he plans to leave you and the kids (excuse: the marriage is “dead,” which of course is a surprise to you), she got tired of waiting for him to do something about this, and threatened to tell you. He then had to jump in to tell you first. Now he gets both you and Schmoopie to play Pick Me Dance.

    If you discovered it, then you know that he had zero idea of trying to “repair” the marriage. Things were going great: he had you to keep the home fires burning and to keep up the respectable image, and he had a Schmoopie on the side.

    Also, he’s lied about the “no sex” stuff. Intimate kissing goes to sex, and any man who wants to spend several hundred pounds on a girlfriend is in for more than a few kisses here and there.

    If you need to, feel free to do some snooping on social media. Feel free to use those passwords that you have for his accounts. Check out what he’s doing with the joint bank account and the mobile phone calls and the credit cards.

    Get angry, but don’t let yourself explode. Instead, bank it so that those hot embers provide you the fuel to move forward to protect yourself and your children.

    This situation sucks, but you can be mighty, and you deserve so much better!

  • Yes, silly me believed that “space” meant “hope.” As that “space” expanded and expanded after he ran many states away and threw our lives into chaos, I finally realized that “space” after almost a year meant I had to refuse his conditions and say goodbye. He was furious about my interpretation, but it was completely valid.

    By then, I hardly any reason to trust much of anything he said. I had little understanding of what he did with his time and/or who he was associating with in his new location. I was supposed to ignore all of that plus his documented mental health issues and how he was manipulating the truth with his family. His family told me “love conquers all” and how a fresh start would save our marriage. I told my therapist (mid-70’s, had also seen him) that, and she said, “And clinically, that’s about as unlikely as anything I’ve ever heard of. Pure fiction and magical thinking.”

    The high conflict divorce that he initiated was more than validating that it was over when he first demanded “space.” You don’t treat any decent human being like that, period. His attorney decided that his client was mentally ill, projecting all kinds of untruths, and was “morally reprehensible” in his eyes, so he ganged up with my legal team to get it settled out of court. His attorney broke all kinds of ethics rules along the way, but he had that reputation when I asked around locally. That horrified my attorney who had a sub-specialty of divorce malpractice.

    My original attorney retired the day after it was final, and his died some months later after his part of closeout was over, so that’s that. The associate who handled closeout for me commented that he found my ex’s attorney to be very likable, but that his death did bury details that we were best left alone. He was second chair on my case with my original attorney and did a wonderful job on a closeout that was also a bit dramatic at times.

    My file with the associate is closed, and I’m done. Glory, alleluia!

  • Hannah,

    I’m so sorry that you’re hurting. We all know this pain well. I echo what my GP expressed the day I went in for STD testing. With tears in her eyes she said, “I want to kick him in the balls for you.”

    I agree with all the comments above, and add that it’s essential that you consult with an attorney who specializes in workplace sexual misconduct. Should Schmoopie sour on your husband, he could be vulnerable to a lawsuit. If this occurs while you’re still married, you could also be liable. And imagine how hard it would be on you and your children! Please ensure that your divorce decree includes a hold-harmless clause indemnifying you against any of your husband’s misconduct. As you think about your divorce settlement, realize that his ability to pay future alimony could be decimated if he’s fired or sued.

    The breadth and depth of the damage caused by cheating is staggering. Trying to take it all in by yourself is like attempting to drink from a fire hose. We’re all here for you, offering glasses of water.

    This situation is not what you signed up for, but you are mighty and you can do this.

    • Yes, our long-term internist told me to get an STD test when I saw him a few months after separating. I know that I looked horrified, and he said, “Trust me. You might want a full gyn workup while you’re at it.” He also gave me more information about a horrible mouth infection that I had seen him for a few months before my ex left indicating that an STD could have been a factor. Of course I cried in the parking lot, but I followed through. Everything was negative, thankfully.

      In my divorce intake appointment, my attorney asked if I had done an STD test because my state allows for-cause divorces with a trial in case of adultery, and within ten minutes of getting started on all his questions, he said, “I smell another woman even if he says there wasn’t one. We will proceed as-if and see.” I told him what the internist had said and what I did, and he just shook his head and went on. We never pursued that because ultimately I got a good settlement without going to court.

      You need the hold-harmless clauses as well as anti-harassment clauses. My attorney said both were important.

    • I went on a yoga retreat with the usual class members and a couple newbies. One was a woman whose husband screwed where he worked. She was not going to reveal the affair to husband’s boss/business partners until she got her settlement. If he lost his job, it would be detrimental to her. Consult with the right person. Protect yourself and your children.

  • Follow the advise for getting your things in order while he “deciding” your future. Put his shit in garbage bags out of the home and let him know to pick them up because you don’t want him to need anything while he’s away. If it’s legal, change the locks. You get to make this one decision for both of you.

  • At the very least, respect and loyalty are non-negotiable qualities of love as I understand it.

    By that definition, there is no love where there is adultery, lying, deceit, fraud.

    Love is not sexual attraction (IMHO)

    Illicit relationships are cruel and intentional. I don’t think one can be intentionally cruel and deceitful and claim to understand the concept of love.

  • Oh Hannah, this is me. This struck such a chord today. This is my exact story in 2007. In 2015, I discovered another affair, then I discovered the 2006-2007 tryst wasn’t emotional it was a full out sexual affair. The I learned he’s been having affairs since we were dating all the way through a year long engagement, affairs throughout 2 pregnancies (which he felt shouldn’t count because he did those because he was nervous about fatherhood) all the way until 20 years of marriage, 25 years together.

    Then I learned the 2007 discovery was very educational for him for how to hide the affairs’ better. Then I discovered that the reason he pushed me to quit my job was because I worked in the same industry and he was screwing multiple women throughout the company, vendors, clients, etc.

    Then I was in my 40’s. No career. No marriage. Money missing. Two teenagers for whom I’d modeled terrible self-respect. Two teenagers who had also been emotionally abused and spent their life walking on eggshells for their father’s rage outbursts that no one could figure out. Then I was diagnosed with cancerous cervical cells from latent HPV. Then I was threatened with never seeing my kids again and living under a bridge if I spoke to a lawyer. Then I had to hide clothing and borrowed cash at remote places because he had become violent at the prospect of not controlling all the marital money and assets because I refused to NOT file for divorce. The he turned into a full fledged alcoholic and threatened to kill me after HE consulted with a lawyer who explained that the court would never allow an off the books divorce.

    2016- Then I weighted 90 pounds, was diagnosed with PTSD and anxiety. Then I signed off on on a terrible settlement to finally get divorced because I didn’t think I was going to make it. Then I had three jobs, two overwhelmed teenagers and struggled to make ends meet.

    Now, I have CL and CN, still two jobs, but two happy young adult kids. A couple years of therapy and EMDR did wonders also.. We don’t have much money, but we are happy and incredibly close. We have a happy tiny house instead of the big one in the fancy neighborhood, and we love it. I’ve not been able to fully resurrect a career, so I work a lot, but I am a healthy weight, even lift weights, smile and laugh and know what’s important in life… and that sociopath asshole, user is out of my life. I never knew how awful he’d become until I got some distance from the whole shit show.

    I fantasize, literally yearn, to go back to 2007 and get the fuck out of that circus then and have some of my youth, spirit, confidence, emotional health, attractiveness, and time back. Pease, please, please Hannah, check it all out. I can’t imagine two adults confessing love without having slept together. The more you lie the easier it becomes, I know my life has biased me, but I am so scared for you.

    • What an inspiring chump success story. Good for you! I hope she heeds your hard earned wisdom and takes your advice.

    • Yes, we danced around the poverty line for several years, but my college kids and I figured it out. We sold things, found an informal food bank, played with cheap recipes, shopped at the free store, bartered for repairs, and hung out at home with the dog. My resilience inspired their resilience, and they’re both wise beyond their years now. They love friends and the simple life.

      We’ve since recovered financially without the help of the ex. The first kid graduated from college debt-free, and the second one is headed there. Both are working and saving their money while enjoying some little splurges.

      I have no doubt that he expected us to fall apart without him. We didn’t.

  • He says he never went looking for it. Riiight… one of her holes just fell out of the sky and landed on his you-know-what. Sure.

    • Mine said this nonsense as well- that he had no premeditated intention of cheating, that she was the initiator and he had sex with her on a drunken impulse, then started to develop “feelings” after that. I was highly skeptical. Then I found a flirty email he had sent her prior to the start of the “impulse” sex. Busted. He still tried to claim it didn’t mean he was planning to cheat. What an insult to my intelligence. Moreover, it doesn’t matter if it was premeditated or not. The cheater came to a point where he/she needed to make a decision to shut that shit down, but made the choice to go ahead and betray you.

  • Someone steals a candy bar from the store. They get caught. They tell the clerk that it is all so confusing and they didn’t mean to steal but it would really help if they could go sit out on the curb for a while, munching on the candy bar, because they need some space to think. No one would see this as a good idea but we Chumps fall for this shit.

    In my case it was 9 years between his emotional affair with one ho-worker and his abandonment of me for another, with countless micro-affairs and dalliances in between. He lied every single day he stayed and in the end he blamed me for all of it. I was never in control. I was numb from hopium and sunk cost fallacy, all the usual stuff.

    Please realize that attempting any reconciliation with cheaters is simply delaying the inevitable; the bomb sequence has been activated and they will eventually destroy their family. The only thing we control is ourselves by ending it quickly.

  • Needing some space to think is one of the oldest cheater lines in the book. This is a lie 100% of the time. You don’t need to leave a family in order to decide if you want to commit to the family. If they do this, they have already decided they are not commited, but have yet to figure out how to pull off leaving in a way that doesn’t have financial repercussions for themselves, or have yet to entice the schmoopie to leave his/her marriage. Do not buy this bullshit. This man has left you already and the fake reconciliation was just to buy time. Protect yourself financially before he cleans you out. I can pretty much guarantee he is trying to find a way to keep the money so he can use it spoiling schmoopie, who apparently has expensive tastes. Don’t let it happen. Get any money you have saved and put it where he can’t touch it. Make sure any investments are safe from him and cancel any joint credit cards you have. If he is beneficiary to any life insurance, take him off. Change your will as well. Have a credit report done to uncover any hidden accounts or investments. Get the best lawyer you can afford and serve him his walking papers.

    I know it’s heartbreaking and it’s awful, but your marriage is over no matter what he says. He will tell whatever story he needs to in order to keep you in the dark and on a string. He’s not tortured with guilt or any of that crap, he’s afraid of financial consequences. If he’s anxious, it’s because he has so far failed to fully acquire the mistress and isn’t sure he can pull off dumping you for her without adverse consequences. My ex was also miserable because his ho wouldn’t leave her husband, though I didn’t know that’s what it was at the time. He was never able to nail her down, so when he was caught cheating he made the usual faux reconciliation noises. But I am nobody’s plan b and neither are you. You are worth far more and should never settle for that. If he comes back, the reason will be that she didn’t want to commit to a life with him or she dumped him. Don’t let him insult you by making you second best to a cheating skank.

    BTW, he fucked her. You don’t decide you love somebody and leave your family if you haven’t even been physical with her. He is lying about almost everything. That’s what they do. Your story shows he’s hitting all the marks for CSOP (cheater standard operating procedure), which so many of us have experienced.

  • Hannah, you know what is weak? Continuing to believe a proven liar.
    You know what is weak…parroting his line of self-serving minimization. “Emotional affairs” have only words involved, not tongues and other body parts. He’s having an “affair”…using all the body parts.

    Play dumb. Keep quiet. Get to a great lawyer. Protect your assets, house, and custody immediately. Don’t feel sorry for him. He is f*cking her, and mindf*cking you. You are no longer on the same team.

  • Thanks for posting CL!! I was getting a bit desperate there…a few days missed.

    Still dealing with the FW in legal matters and I need a daily dose of kick-assery.

  • I “never went looking” for the wallet I found full of money. But there it was and I know the right thing to do is turn it in to the police department with the hope it can be returned to its rightful owner.

    Years ago I was loading my truck in a very busy street in a San Francisco neighborhood. At night. When I got home I realized I had left my purse on the sidewalk.

    I called the police precinct nearest to the location and guess what? Someone had turned it in. With everything in it. A detective accompanied me to the address of the man who had turned it in. He and his wife lived in a not so great neighborhood. It looked to me like they could have used the money that was still in my wallet.

    This kind of integrity inspires me and it is completely worthless and over the heads of people who get involved in illicit relationships.

    I thought I had a good guy and was I really had was a soul sucking creep armed with bayonets. He hired a hit woman to help him destroy our family. It took a long time for that to sink in; denial is powerful.

  • Take it from the rest of us who lingered around to “fight it out” or dance: eating shit is neurotoxic and there’s no reward for it. Cheaters by nature go into a stock market mentality regarding himan value. If it’s easily gotten and appropriate– low value. If it’s risky, illicit and wrong– high value.

    Two cheaters falling in “wuv” is not love as you know it. It’s two creeps playing a juvenile adventure game where stolen cookies taste sweeter and the existence of a victim/dupe amps up the artificial “us against the world” bond. The more you dance, the sweeter their stupid game gets. A commenter here said wisely that affairs are three legged stools: take away the chump leg and the thing falls over.

    Don’t dance. Don’t cOmM7nIcaTe. Go stealth mode, plan and act.

    Since you’re financially solvent, one option is hire a PI. Whether or not proof of infidelity (the fucking kind) effects divorce settlements in your part of the world, it effects social, health and emotional settlements. Finding out for sure how far it went will help you know what to eventually tell your kids. It’s taking back the power robbed from you by lies and gives you negotiating power. It can snap you out of your waffling, flattened suffering and into much healthier, activating, energizing anger. It also tells you the lengths you may need to go to to be tested for STDs. Some infections require hard-to-get special testing to really be sure.

    It was the best money I ever spent. If he notices you moved money around, make up a la-dee-dah sounding cover story.

  • Hannah – fortunately for you, you knew about CL and this forum. I luckily had a wise brother who talked straight to me. I found CL later. I had a similar thing – the husband left on a business trip, landed, said “I love you” and never initiated contact with me again. When I asked him to call me, he said something about meeting other people – had him thinking, he had been celibate for 5 years (too much here to discuss, but it wasn’t 5 years and it wasn’t all me), said there was no one else when I asked, and he would talk to me in a couple of months when he returned. Big time surprise for me! Then I found out he had planned everything, double life, etc. No one and I mean no one would ever think this pillar of society could do what he was doing. I don’t believe it half the time. So, I had a little easier than you – I had no choice and I had a multimedia library to support that. I went to an attorney to find out my situation. I had a 16 year marriage at that point. It was pretty horrifying to realize I had put my welfare in his hands. I urge all to caution their daughters about doing this. Talk is very very cheap. I left a note on the table saying I filed, and then went away, so he came back to his own surprise. I’m sure he was happy though. I am now. I urge you not to waste your time and keep your dignity. It is much harder with children. Please do as advised, find a lawyer, move the money, keep it secret. You are dealing with someone who is a liar and thus not to be trusted. CL has helped me get through this – you will too. Good luck

    • NewlyMintedChump, you do not need to explain yourself to chumps. Only the RIC, Switzerland and FWs would blame YOU for you ex’s “celibacy.” I hope you know this and don’t hold yourself responsible… it’s all part of the skein. I don’t know the details, but your story speaks for itself and I’m sorry you were deceived and neglected all those years.

  • I took my ex back after the 1st Dday , he then proceeded to financially screw me over for the next 8 months whilst he got his ducks and OW lined up.

    Dont be me, you can never get that time or often the money back. Your not plan b especially to your husband, hes made his choices .

    You do you .

  • I’m so sorry. Others have provided wonderful support. This is tactical:

    Tell him that you respect his need to think. DO NOT LET ON. Act normal.
    Tell him that you think a 14 day period of reflection with no contact is what is needed for you both to work through this. Then use those 14 days to:
    –photocopy every single document you find: mortgages, taxes, assets, EVERYTHING. Scoop it all up and mass scan the whole lot
    –move all your valuables to a safe location without it being evident
    –move half the cash into your own new accounts
    –photograph/video every bit of you home and possessions
    –call lawyers including those you don’t want as opposing counsel to conflict them
    –figure out the parenting arrangement that works for YOU–also consider having him move out for a “trial separation” ” while you work through your issues” –these fuckers can be very hard to get out of the house. He might want that love nest. And if you establish a parenting arrangement that has been in place for 6 months it becomes the default for court
    –get a lawyer and draw up a separation agreement–there is a slim chance he will sign it

    So first, design your new life. Put the plan into place, and only then do you announce your plans and go grey rock

  • Hannah,
    Sorry you’re here, it is so hard. I know because I could have written your story a few years ago. Let me be the cautionary tale, I fell for his lies, and played the pick me dance for 2 very long years!

    After d-day nothing was the same, my world was upside down. He said enough of the right things to get me complacent, although it never went away. I never trusted him, and every trip he took I worried (and rightly so). Our marriage deteriorated even more throughout the 2 years, while there were good moments nothing about his affair had been truly dealt with and it caused lots of problems. He got better in how to hide is affair, he used all that I told him after my discovery to change to go “underground” more with his affair. I do not believe my husband ever stopped seeing her. I woke up finally and realized it was all still going on almost 2 years later and I am still trying to get out now. While my situation may not be normal, they often do not give up control and power easily.

    In hindsight, he used all that he could to gather anything on me he could, our arguments about his affair, he videoed on his phone. If I said something ugly to him he may text it to me summarizing the argument, again a set up in hindsight. Don’t give him the chance. He also used that time to move and hide money, don’t give him that chance either. Lawyer up.

    Also, its not an “emotional affair”, most of these people don’t even have the emotional capacity for the the emotional part anyway. Its all about the sex. They fake the emotional part. Mine claimed and “emotional affair” too, he was fucking her.

    If I could go back 2 years ago, I would leave the cheater. They don’t change, at least in my case it just got messier and worse. So much I’ve learned, and so many hurtful discoveries since that time. It would have been better to have cut the losses earlier. If for no other reason, the 2 years of time I can’t get back.

  • I, too, had a husband who said he had only “dated” the OW. He wouldn’t admit to more until I tricked him into saying it. He was screwing her. As a SAHM with a new baby, I was terrified to leave (no money, no assets in my name, no family support, ashamed, no job — NEVER GIVE UP YOUR JOB!). I stayed for ten more years of emotional, financial, psychological, covert abuse. I wish I would have had the sense and the means to leave when I found out the first time. Please, Hannah. Listen to CN. He’s gone—the marriage contract has been broken. He is taking the single life for a test drive while he’s “thinking” during this time apart. Contrary to what you may hear, couples do not come out “stronger than ever” after an affair. That’s such bullshit. Move forward with your life and protect yourself. I wish I had.

  • Dear Hannah,
    First off, I am so sorry you are in this position. It is traumatic. The first time someone besides me acknowledged that, I cried, because it was true. I hope you recognize that however you feel is ok, because you cannot completely control how you will react to a trauma.

    But….protect yourself financially while you are dealing with this trauma. You said you are in the “best financial position we’ve ever been in.” THAT’S the time to act & it is one of the 2 most important things to act upon. The financial position with a cheater never gets better. Take out half of your combined cash & deposit into a new bank account & deposit your paychecks into a new account. Tell your husband that while he is deciding, you are protecting yourself. If he really loved & cared for you, he would agree with your protecting yourself financially especially since he was the one who perpetrated the abuse. If he is upset, well then, you have more evidence that he is all out for himself.

    I should have left when our combined income was over 200K. I did not feel sure that I could make it on my own. Then STBX was unexpectedly let go from his work. I suspect that it was either due to laziness, or to some nefarious thing that would embarrass the company. They let him go on the pretext that they were downsizing, two years after they hired someone new to be his supervisor. A 58 year old man well known in his white collar profession should not need a supervisor!!! He collected unemployment for 6 months (in the US that was the max time), and he only looked for jobs because unemployment required it. When payments ended, he stopped looking. I ended up filing for divorce on under 1/2 of our past combined income.

    A person who is not honest in a marriage may not be the greatest employee.

    Once you begin to accept that while you thought you were a team and yet he stopped being a team player, you may begin to see in your past where he was not a team player all along. He may have used you as a prop – to pretend to be a good dad, a good neighbor, a good son-in-law, or a good employee. Little lightbulbs may begin to turn on, to illuminate his true character. You can then begin to process your feelings each time a light goes off.

    The second most important thing to act on: Get tested for STI’s. Observe how you feel telling your GYNE why you need the testing. Don’t have sex with him. Don’t let him back home, at least not in your bedroom. This protects you physically and emotionally. You will think much better without him around, touching you. He destroyed your team.

    Act first. There will be enough time to process your feelings. Each step of the way, your husband will have a reaction. See how you feel after each of his reactions.

    Hoping the best for you. It’d be great if everyone could learn from other’s mistakes, but we each have our own strengths & weaknesses. And we have to do it on our own.

    • UpandOut,

      So much wisdom here and yours hit the 2 main things that I hope Hannah reads; you spelled it out so clearly.

      I second what you have advised:

      I was told to act quickly while he was in the guilt stage. I did BUT I didn’t believe them when they said the anger stage would soon follow….”Not my guy. He is way too sweet and he really does care for me and will take care of me and be fair and etc…..”

      Chump fog is thick.

      But it did lift when the anger stage erupted but luckily the cat was already in the bag so I just had to withstand the storm until it passed.

      (That was a bit of a challenge because I had always smoothed things, his anger, over in the past. Felt so natural to want to do that and the terror that arose when I realized I couldn’t do that anymore – he was completely out of my orbit of influence and my words meant nothing….bone chilling realization and I remember exactly where I was standing when that one hit….)

      I was told not to sleep with him either. Chump fog, “He wouldn’t jeopardize my health.”

      Luckily we did not have intercourse.

      Hope she reads what you have written. It is so classic in regards to OUR fog and OUR needing to wake up vs waiting for them to wake up. As you said, they aren’t asleep.

  • Sorry I dont have time to read all the responses but skimmed them and saw wisdom above.

    My story is so similar to this was it is uncanny…my cheater was a little meaner but all the same tricks. They feign some sort of emotional fog but that is a HUGE FAKE…they know EXACTLY what they are doing.

    I was also told that they only kissed but people dont melt down over kissing, they just dont. My Cheater died then I found hotel receipts that proved all the stuff he told me at DDay was a knot of lies. He had wild monkey sex with her and (as I later learned) others.

    I lost YEARS and YEARS of my life trying to get him to act civil to me. My kids are now fucked up with not a healthy relationship among them.

    The whole “leave to clear my head” thing is total BS. A gal at work had a cheater who gave her the “trial seperation” nonsense…she lost her house, car, kids and job without him ever uttering any intent to divorce her….some weasels are that cowardly.

    • “He had wild monkey sex with her and (as I later learned) others.”

      There is rarely ever just one other, by the time we find out there are multiple. I am sure there is the rare unicorn of ONS and deep regret, but that is what makes them a unicorn. Even then they are who they are, and they will do another and another ONS until they get hooked up with a schmoopie. Once they have that thrill, they aren’t going to give it up.

  • Your story reads like mine did 3 years ago almost verbatim. I was blindsided and gutted and absolutely rocked to the core. Physically sick and in complete shock and belief that my person (college sweetheart/15 year marriage with 2 young children) could ever do something like this to me. After all of the history we shared, and our beautiful life and our children and all of it. (Everyone’s story). And I am so sorry to pile on here to tell you that it’s not going to work out, but it’s not going to. Because of the decisions he’s made and is making. And you only know about some of them – believe me when I tell you that if a million people had been lined up around the globe I would’ve placed my ex-husband as the absolute last person to ever hurt me in any way. The LAST. But he did, and then he strung me along similarly for almost a year, and I went all in on our marriage and I pick-me danced and chased who I believed to be my soul mate unicorn who was lost and needy and confused. He had just turned 40. Was it a crisis? Was I not sleeping with him enough? Was he depressed? What the hell had I missed? WHERE was my husband? We’d been happy and seemingly just fine. HOW do I snap him out of it – this cannot be my life??

    It took me a long time to change my mindset/understanding that no, he wasn’t needy, or lost, or depressed. He felt entitled – how else can you justify having more than one relationship at the same time, as “hard” as it is? He felt entitled to romance another woman after countless sessions of couples therapy where he recommitted to me and our family. To sext her and fake errands or work mtgs to see her. To open a new cc to purchase her gifts with. To sneakily text her while with our children, thinking they wouldn’t notice. To plan weekend trips with. To send raunchy & absurd selfies to. And all the while he was doing that he slid effortlessly back into our marriage and our normal life, fully engaged and enthusiastically “loving me”, like nothing ever happened. I only found out that he was still seeing her almost a year after the initial Dday because my 7 year old at the time, asked me innocently one afternoon in the car, “Who’s Nicole, Mommy? Daddy texted you and Nicole alot today at the pool. I was spying on him behind the chair, but he didn’t know I was playing the game”. My heart stopped. Faster than it did on the original DDay.

    It took me 2 more years even after that to get out of the tangled web and realize my worth and just wake the f up. But the PTSD I have from all the times I shrank – trying to ignore red flag warnings in my head, or psychoanalyze him (my husband, my best friend!), or retrace our entire history to figure out how on earth we ended up HERE (?!!), or read books about how to piece us back to together – looking backwards instead of what was right in front of me – lives on today. I hope/pray that you have clarity more quickly than I did, that you can see this situation for what it is – cruel, abusive, irresponsible, narcissistic and entitled – and put yourself and your children first by telling him it’s over. It is not just a “fling”. It is not “OK”. It didn’t happen “by accident”. It is not just “emotional”. He is not “confused”. He doesn’t love you “the most”. You are not his “first priority”. And it is not something you will ever be able to get past.

    Once the shock starts to wear off (and it can take months) the hurt, anger and depression will set in and it is scorching. Please save yourself years of additional pain, anguish and emotional abuse by drawing the line and ending your marriage because he broke the most important vow. He made the conscious, grown-up choice to engage with another woman and in doing so, he ended your relationship as you know it. There is no “decision” left to make, because he already made it.

    Sending you hugs & strength….you are not alone. Protect yourself financially (even though it probably seems surreal to even think like that right now). Talk to people that you trust about it, and don’t feel ashamed because it’s not your fault. Find an amazing attorney to help you make smart, proactive decisions for your and your children’s future. And keep breathing….xx

    • Dazedbutnotconfused,
      I went through the same thing almost 30 years ago and you are 100% right. Kicking him out/divorcing him once I found out was the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life but it saved my life/sanity! People don’t treat you like garbage because they love you. The only logical thing to do is get divorced and let them be schmoopie’s problem.
      They married right away & she’s been 50 pounds heavier ever since. Imagine? Can stress do that?

      • “They married right away & she’s been 50 pounds heavier ever since. Imagine? Can stress do that?”

        Lol, can’t say it doesn’t tickle me that schmoops (who was always a chunkadoodle) is at least 50 or more pounds heavier now. So was the fw, but he had health issues that contributed to it. She whipped the pounds on almost immediately after they married. In part I am sure because she quit working, and became a whore of leisure.

        The gal got her meal ticket, I have to give her credit for that. Took her cycling through a few married men, but she grabbed the brass ring finally.

        • A “whore of leisure.” Love it! I’m sure that our ex’s wives put on the pounds because they FINALLY felt safe and their new husbands will love them no matter what!

          I could almost feel sorry for her, but she so deserves him.

          • Right? I mean he loved me and was faithful to me no matter what (and I didn’t gain much weight at all) oh wait…

      • ‘People don’t treat you like garbage because they love you’
        Priceless
        I would add that people who know how to love don’t treat their spouses like garbage.

  • Hannah,

    For the love of Gawd, kick him out! I had this happen, and “reconciled” – but 10 \years after reconciling, I discovered my ex husb was doing the identical thing with a new coworker. I wish that I had left him the first time. Can’t get that time back. You now know this man for who he is.

    • Kimber I second that. I too stayed 7 years after his affair amid promises to change and be faithful. Cheaters are time and energy vampires. I now know from experience, they cheat and you should kick them out of your life with no exception. If they cared deeply for you, they would not risk losing you. They only understand consequences.

  • So many tell tale patterns of FW cheating here but the part that still makes my blood boil is reflecting back on the honeymoon period after he returned home from his “time to think”. This is when the abuse really amped up. He was sweet and kind and tender and I bought it hook line and sinker. But, you see, this is when they best ALIGN THEMSELVES, especially FINANCIALLY. the “time to think” away is for FW and Schmoopie to put their heads together, knowing at least one Chumped spouse has caught on and they can “finally be together”, they map out their plans of execution. Then comes the EXCRUCIATING DEVALUING, DISCARDING, MINDFUCKS and the final DUMP. This phase annihilated my self esteem and I almost lost my life to it. Do NOT give him the luxury of doing this to you! He’s getting his ducks in a row. Get yours in a row first and you and your ducks kick his to the curb.

    • And even after they do all that scheming and lying, they have the nerve to blame the chumps, act like victims, and tell others that there are two sides to every story. It’s maddening.

      • Yep, and technically they are telling the truth; there are indeed two sides to every story. Unfortunately one side is a chump who has been a loyal spouse (thought certainly imperfect) the other side is a lying cheating spouse, who also was imperfect but chose to blow up the marriage with his/her lying and cheating.

  • FYI, they’re banging. Every so called “emotional affair”it comes out sooner or later. Even IF they weren’t, it’s completely unacceptable. Ditch his cheating loser ass.

  • Why do you want to be the backup – the thing that he settled for when he abused you (emotionally and by exposing you to potential STDs – I also don’t believe it was only kissing… I bet there was more), intentionally deceived you, took time from you and the kids to peruse his sexual wants over the family time, etc.

    I was like you blindsided in my happy life with the fact that my husband (and sweetheart since 19) was not just in a moody, selfish phase, but was intentional in his lies and pushing me away. It is hard… I will not sugarcoat that going from two incomes, house, three cars, a boat, two extended families, etc. to single mom for kids basically half time (I am in a no-fault state). But it is sooo much better to live and be with my kids in integrity and making my own happiness. It is more authentic and I am not going to hide my head or life in the shameful actions that he decided and executed without concern for me or the kids. Hugs. This is the hardest part.

    Read as much as you can here until you believe that infidelity is abuse. Hugs.

  • I don’t buy that “I accidentally fell in love” or “never went looking for it”. (speaking to WS:) Sorry sparky; if you were developing feelings for a co-worker it didn’t happen by accident. You knew what you were doing; and you did it anyway. You knew it was dangerous and wrong (which is why it felt sooo good). You saw someone you liked, kept talking to that person; kept hanging around etc. You actively fell in love with them.

    • Yep.

      Quite frankly it is insulting to honorable people to pretend you are so special that you just fell for someone. Most folks have plenty of times they are attracted, but honorable folks say “whoops, backing away now”.

      The funny thing is most times these cheaters who ignore the signals to back away assume their spouse has never had the same situation, the just think they are so dammed special that their spouse would never want anyone but them.

      Arrogant self entitled assholes.

    • Mike, yes that one bothers me so much. I remember saying to my fuckwit when he said ‘it just happened’ that it didn’t just happen -and that he knew exactly what he was doing every step of the way (all those lunches and interactions with the office friend ). He just had that look on his face that said he wasn’t going to deny it. I mean on the one hand it just ‘happened’ and then on the other hand they had an immediate ‘connection.´
      They play with fire repeatedly because they’re pyromaniacs – then when our home burns up they claim innocence and sad sausage victimhood.

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