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I Want My Cheating Wife to Read Your Book

The Unicorn of ReconciliationDear Chump Lady,

I have been cheated on by my wife a few times. She has also committed financial infidelity a few times. I have stayed and tried to work things out in fairness to our kids. Our youngest turned 18 and is off to college. That was my finish line.

After reading your book, I realized how close you described my life and experiences with this women. No real remorse, no real empathy, no real apology, just the claim that she was in a “dark” place.

I want to make her read your book to realize what I have experienced, because I don’t think she is capable of seeing things as I do. Would you recommend offering up your book before we make any decisions to move on. Or wait, and let her have that reality after the fact?


Dear Jim,

My book is not a tool for reconciliation. Nor does it have the magic power to confer empathy on fuckwits. I mean, thanks for the vote of confidence and all, but if your PAIN doesn’t move her, I doubt my unicorn cartoons will.

This is a common chump mistake — thinking that your cheater has an insight problem. Why, if I only buy the right book on Amazon or download the proper TED talk, they will see! Then you do the codependent thing where you highlight all the relevant chapters and leave them by their bedside. Or forward a thousand improving articles. Or casually drop, “Oh hey I was reading this discourse on Borderline Personality Disorder and it made me think of you.”

(Collective forehead slap.)

Jim, she doesn’t have an insight problem, she has a character problem. (Pulling the ol’ Dr. George Simon axiom out of my pocket…) “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

It’s not that she doesn’t see that her infidelities hurt you, it’s that she doesn’t care. Not enough anyway to change her behavior. And why should she? You rewarded her with 18+ years of faithful service. She did the cost-benefit analysis and her entitlement won out over your pain.

She’s not UNAWARE of this. She PREFERS it. Cheating is a power play.

Of course, that’s all very ugly to cop to, so reconciliation resources and cheater themselves use a lot confusion-speak. They’re wayward and lost. It was a dark time and they bumped into a dresser and created a dating profile…

My point is, sharing my book with her isn’t going to save your marriage or give her perspective on your pain (she doesn’t care!). It’s just going to piss her off. And both provoking anger and attempting empathy are engaging with her, and I very much recommend NOT engaging with her.

Would you recommend offering up your book before we make any decisions to move on.

Dude, stop trying to achieve consensus. And definitely don’t use my liberation manifesto as an offering. (shudder) Divorce means moving on WITHOUT her. Did she consult you about her affairs or secret purchases? Did she do these things unilaterally, or after a thoughtful discussion?

Divorce is for YOU. You are permitted to have deal breakers and lay this burden down. Really! “We” aren’t making decisions about ending the marriage. Cake is working out very nicely for her. YOU are making this decision. OWN it. Embrace it. Go line up your ducks and talk to a lawyer and don’t feel one iota of guilt for not telling her about it.

Oh, if only I’d made her read Tracy Schorn’s book, she would’ve woken up from her decades-long spell of shitty behavior and seen the error of her ways and how much she hurt me! 

That’s not going to happen.

Or wait, and let her have that reality after the fact?

She’s also not going to feel your pain after you leave her. She’s going to feel HER pain, because… consequences.

Let her sit with that. You go free yourself.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Jim, words won’t fix her. You can’t fix her. But you can save yourself. YOU read LACGAL again. Please get you a “pitbull of a lawyer” and file first.

    Use this time to gather your bedraggled ducklings in a row, get an STI Panel, check your finances, educate yourself about the divorce laws in your state, prepare to leave this abusive woman. Don’t tell her what you are doing. Serve her first and don’t look back.

    Adultery is abuse. She is an abuser. I hope you will seek therapy as support through this process. I know you are in terrible pain. I know you want to redeem her. You can’t, she doesn’t care, if she did she would have never, ever cheated. Save yourself.

    • Absolutely agree my former husband was the same, you couldn’t reach him no matter what! The abuse was right in front of our two teens!????

      • Agree. In general, do not give a cheater any more information about what you think and feel. I had to learn this the hard way. She will only use it against you. In this instance, she will only use the info in LACGAL to defend, deny, gaslight, manipulate your hopium, and hide your assets better. It’s like showing the opposing team your playbook. She is not your partner, she is competing to win against you, and has proven she doesn’t follow conventional rules.

        • That’s also my objection to sharing LACGAL. It will just give her specific points and language to argue against, and tip her off to where exactly your head is (or is going to be on Tuesday).

          And as she starts to wriggle her fingers into any little crack she can find in LACGAL (not doubting the book’s wisdom, just that it’s likely there are a couple specific things she can claim don’t apply to her) you may question resolve, which means she has the upper hand.

          It’s what happened when I tried to tell my spouse during reconciliation that he’s a narcissist. He didn’t go, “oh yeah, now I see!” and start to work on himself. He said he thought he might be codependent and then made excuses not to get IC even though we were on our second marriage counselor. Okay. Nevermind. Forget I said anything. You’re a perfectly self-sacrificing victim. I’m still divorcing you.

          If LACGAL works for you, that’s enough. It doesn’t have to also work for her. That’s the whole idea of getting divorced. You don’t need her to agree. Isn’t that freeing?

    • What Thirtythree said

      my biggest regret (and there are many) of my 35 year marriage is the decade I spent trying to get the DOCTOR to value us. Of course I didn’t know that was what I was doing at the time.

      Somehow I felt if he could simply understand the pain he was causing me and our children, he’d GET IT.

      I bought and read books and “we” went to counseling and I pretzeled myself to get him to see the light. Deep down I was sure he loved me/us and our family.

      Maybe he did value us in his way and maybe it wasn’t all about image management…but in hindsight, I see that I projected MY own values and depth onto him.

      Yet it’s self evident and undeniable now, that he did not value me or our family and marriage in the same way I did. Period.

      What a wasted decade…


      IF IF IF there’s a chance your wife is actually capable of “seeing the light” and “waking up” AND behaving consistent with this,

      it’s not by you giving her a book to read. It’s by consequences…

      And if that does not work (and there’s only a small chance anything will), at least you’ll have wasted less of your life

  • I spent 10 years trying to make my FW X understand that his actions were hurting me, and our children.
    He understood. He wasn’t stupid. He liked it HIS way. He got off on it!!!

    He ruined us financially more than once. He was selfish, egotistical and vain. He was a narcissistic turd in the punch bowl.

    And for some reason I thought I could fix this ?!?!!

    No. Just save yourself. Get a good lawyer and please don’t share the book. It will mean less than nothing to her. And she might even use it to manipulate you further.

    • This. Don’t tip your hand with a cheater. Ever. They are, and will always be, more calculating and manipulative than you.

      How do I know?

      Same way I know you don’t leave a dog alone with an open bag of snausages and expect the dog to refrain from eating them. Cheaters chest. Liars lie. Simple math.

      • Well, not always. Mine is pretty stupid, so I manipulated him into admitting to cheating and being otherwise abusive in writing, signed and everything. There is stuff in that confession he absolutely does not want made public, so I get the lion’s share of the money. If he ever tries to pull a fast one on me regarding our financial agreement, he knows I’ll send a copy to everybody he knows, plus put it on social media. My lawyer keeps a copy in his safe for me, as does a relative, in case he tries to steal it.
        Scheming and being manipulative is not part of my nature, but I knew I had to transcend my chumpy nature and become even more machiavellian than he is to prevail, so I did. It can be done, but must be done swiftly and carefully.

        I also manipulated his ho into a written confession. I believe she did it because she thought that would be the end of it and she was off the hook, though I never said so. But of course I sent it to her husband. What an idiot.
        Me so mean to cheaters. ????

        No matter how dumb the cheater, I agree that you should never tip your hand. Otherwise it’s harder to scheme against them to get all the goodies or to just make a clean getaway.

        • OHFFS, you are my spirit animal! I salute you. Your powers of self preservation are amazing.

        • OHFFS, HOW were you able to get WRITTEN confessions?! That’s amazing! I’ve said many times I could have caught my husband mid-act and he still would have denied it. I salute you!

    • We all tried to make them “understand”. At either the beginning, or at some point. Only when you step away do you realize your efforts are futile.

  • “Cheating is a power play.”

    Absolutely, and quite frankly I am beginning to think most do it from the onset of the marriage, if not before.

    • I agree. Now that I can read the signs, it seems more likely than not.

    • And a response from us of hitting the divorce button is the biggest power play. We take back that control and hit them with consequences. Well hopefully anyway.

    • They cheat in various ways from the start, not always sexually. Mine caused trouble with my family and neighbours years before he cheated. He used his ‘childhood abuse’ as a get out of jail free ticket.

    • It only makes sense that someone with major character flaws always had these flaws. Therefore a cheater doesn’t stay faithful for several years and then start cheating. Cheating was always their way of life, they do get off on it. They love the sneak, they love to lie and watch you deal with it. Lying is as necessary to them as oxygen. Evil. Save yourself and your children nobody should be around these people. Believe me it is not safe. Have you ever seen a cat play with a trapped mouse? Don’t be that mouse.

      • 100% it’s not a new behaviour that just comes out after years of marriage. My ex wife lived with her boyfriend for near four years before I met her and she cheated on him with multiple guys, including a threesome with two guys whilst he was at work. Ohhh how I hate myself and kick myself for meeting her and falling for her lies. We were married maybe two years and our baby was less than a year old when she started sneaking out of the house in the middle of the night. I was then away in the Army and she suddenly tells me she is pregnant. Yet again stupid me never did paternity test. Skip ten years and I caught her cheating with dozens of men. Literally dozens. These cheaters are born that way. They are broken, personality disordered scum. Even if my ex wife ends up in a relationship she will no doubt do exactly the same to them. Plus her cheating exposed all the years of pathological lying from her. Lying to her is as easy as breathing. I’m so so sorry to my kids that she is their mother. I will carry that guilt for the rest of my life.

  • Do not waste your time. I bought several books about how to recover from cheating. And how to bring back trust back after cheating. He refused to read them. My ex continued to blame me for his 4 year affair with my cousin. I was boring. I bitched all the time. She was happy all the time and liked to play pool. And most of all I was still boring. He refused to read them. And he refused to take the blame for lying and cheating.
    Your wife cheated because she wanted to. She did not value your marriage or your well-being. She will never read the book. Cheaters are cowards.

    • The books! So many books. Sticky notes. Dog-earred pages. “If you wouldn’t mind, could you please read chapter one because it describes how I’m feeling.” He literally said, “No, because reading it will just make me feel bad.” And we can’t have that.

      • …and goddess forbid that they should feel bad…if that doesn’t say it all right there, I don’t know what does. They matter, we don’t. No one matters but them. Shallow as rain puddles they are. We spend so much time trying to fix, understand, finagle. Total waste, they don’t care. About us, anyone before us, or anyone after us. As far as I’m concerned, they are a waste of space as a species.

      • A new woman

        A week after D-day I was sitting on the couch sobbing about the bomb that had just exploded in my life…not hysterical crying just sobbing.

        Ex: Why are you crying…again?(insert eye roll)
        Me: Why do you think?
        Ex: What…that again. Can’t I have one day where I don’t have to see you cry? I just want one peaceful day.

        So sorry your highness.

        To the original poster Jim,

        She doesn’t give a shit about you or your feelings. It’s the hardest pill to swallow.

        The one that is meant to protect you from hurt is actually your assassin.

        Please leave.

        • You’re not alone, Morry. I played the same crying game, over and over. I also – like most chumps, turns out – pored over and shared books and articles. I wrote letters, went to couples counseling, and attempted to communicate, explain and understand.

          Reading everything here, I’m struck yet again by all of the similarities. Cheaters like FW, chumps like me, cycles the same. As far as I thought I’d come, my shock – and in a weird way, relief – at reading other chumps’ stories makes we want to cry. It really, really wasn’t just me?! For many years, I’ve felt impossibly alone. I internalized and even corroborated FW’s devaluation of me and accepted that I was fundamentally flawed and unlovable. My weird reaction to all of this today is showing me that I still do carry a lot of shame and embarrassment for my reactions to the abuse and my lack of power to stop my life from falling apart.

          • Oh this one hit home! I spent the initial part of the lockdown reading books, writing loving letters, trying to understand his point of view and took counselling because he convinced me the affair was my fault. In fact when I suggested therapy to him for his ‘mind that works in twisted ways and can’t be controlled’, I got “I don’t need therapy” (big red flag there!)
            Oh the nights I’ve spent feeling lonely, useless and unlovable.
            This website gives so much strength. I remember reading the stories and finally feeling connected and worthy.

      • That triggered a memory
        My ex said he could not talk about the affair
        After all, that would be “beating him up”

        • I got: “you love throwing things in my face,” or “hanging things over my head.”

          If I brought up a grievance, like say, he lied to me about something, I was told “You just love being upset at me, it’s your favorite pastime, it’s how you have fun.”

    • Cuzchump’s fw sounds like my six year old, who doesn’t want to brush his teeth because it’s boring. Toothbrushes are boring. Toothpaste is yucky. Mom’s boring, Mom’s mean. Only Super Mario is fun, Super Mario has prizes. It’s not fair (stomps foot).

      It’s hard to concentrate on a whole book with no pictures or anything when you’re emotionally six years old.

      I’m sorry you had to deal with this crap, Cuzchump.

    • Exactly. Put all your energy into taking care of you and being the sane, supportive parent.
      Getting out takes work. It’s time to buckle down and put your back into it. Chump Nation is here with support and advice.

  • Jim – Share the book with your attorney if you share it with anyone. Maybe leave your personal copy sitting around, highlighted and with little colored tabs marking certain pages for when your kids see you again.

    Purchase two copies and donate to the local library for Chumps to find for free.

    If you want to put a little spin on the backhand – have one sent to her anonymously AFTER the divorce.

    But first you must divorce the selfish lying sack of sleaze.

    Hey! If you REALLY want to wind her up, get the kids and yourself DNA kits for the holidays after the divorce! That may make her sweat even if she wasn’t cheating when they were conceived. Or she’s fairly confident that she wasn’t cheating around then…

  • Take all that energy you want to expel on trying to fix your cheater and use it to gather up all your information (financials, proof of infidelity if you’re in a fault state, etc.) and go see the top 5 divorce lawyers in your town… once you’ve met with them, they cannot work for her regardless of if you hire them or not. THAT is how to show your cheater anything… show her CONSEQUENCES.

    Trust that she sucks. She has abused you and the kids, the family, the finances… all she deserves now is the door hitting her ass on the way out.

    She will not change. Case in point… Mr. Sparkles, who discarded me and our family 7 years ago now, is still a cheater. He cheated on the OW he left our family to pursue and she dumped him. His current GF and co-mortgagee after only knowing him for six months is choosing to believe that someone has “phished him and created online dating profiles unbeknownst to him”… you can’t make this shit up.

    As CL and Dr. Simon remind us… “It isn’t that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” Entitlement feels too good to these disordered fuckwits. Enjoy your freedom Jim!

    • My ex swears up and down that he will never, ever cheat again (as if that has any relevance to my life now). Maybe this is true. He’s still a terrible person – entitled and abusive. Until he offers me a large sum of money for what he’s stolen in opportunities and equity and damages; tells everyone the truth about who he is, who I am, and what he’s done; and asks what, if anything, he can do for me – I know he hasn’t changed. I can sleep at night knowing I didn’t make a mistake when I left.

      I imagine cheaters with invisible antennae for finding other self-obsessed, superficial dirtbags. They must put out and pick up vibes constantly. They don’t have special mojo and aren’t better/smarter/more attractive, etc., than anyone else; in fact, they’re often less so. They are just moving through the world on a different frequency than chumps.

  • “It was a dark time and they bumped into a dresser and created a dating profile…” My laughing out loud terrified my sleeping cat! Oh, the absurdity of cheaters.

  • Like you OP I was in a marriage with a serial adulterous. She was caught cheating and kept on doing it despite what she knew it was doing to me and how it completely destroyed our young kids, she kept on doing it. These people do not change. She won’t read an article or book and suddenly come to her senses. What I sadly learnt was that my ex wife went further underground with her cheating or so she thought. I’m in my 30’s and ended up on beta blockers from the stress. I was angry, hurt, lost and all the other emotions on a daily basis. I felt humiliated, emasculated and still dealing with that emotion.

    I left the family home nearly three months ago now and the difference is night and day. I’m not angry anymore, I’m not watching her to see her hiding her phone, taking her phone to the bathroom, to the shower (where she was making sexual videos and photos and sexting nearly 20 men on a daily basis), she is not screaming at me, starting fights, assaulting me, she is not finding excuses to sneak out, her getting drunk and hiding bottles of vodka around the house, she is not here. My divorce is now over and she is gone. 2020 was the worse year of my life and I stood up for myself and said no more taking this crap. She had no idea that I had filed for divorce the day after I found the cheating. It still feels like my soul has been torn out. I look at photos of my kids and it kills me beyond anything but today the sun is shining with no clouds in the sky and I’ve smiled. This time last year there was no smiles. No hope of the future.

    You need to save yourself and get the hell away from her.

    • This is the right move Jim.
      Get out now.
      Get an attorney, make a plan, lose a cheater and gain a life!

    • Also agree, get out now. I haven’t had much time – DDay was March 2020 and I left before then even when I didn’t know due to his behavior. There are times where I am angry and I feel like my life was a lie/distorted reality but knowing what I know now and being divorced for about a month now – so much freedom. I’ve lost about 40 pounds, traveling, the mental strain/stress of not worrying about what they are doing and who they are talking to and the lying – has released me. Please read other stories of CN and see what happens when you spin your wheels trying to make them see. These people are disordered and entitled – leave and be free. Even if you don’t find someone else to complement you in your life, anything is better than an abuser taking advantage of you and thinking they can play you for a fool longer.

    • Chumpynolove, you are a hero. And you write about your experiences so well. They are a balm to others who have gone through it. I remember that raw feeling of having my heart ripped out. He stood in front of me with a little smile on his face. And ate my heart. BUT even though i can still feel that, i am years out and life gets better and better and richer and fuller. Yours will too. Because you have the depth for it.

  • I made that classic chump mistake too. I found a forum online for victims of adulterers and they helped me out so much. They gave me the advice and tools I needed to stand up again.

    When my wayward H burnt through his affair partners and had no one, he came crawling back to me wanting a reconciliation. Wanting to live with me and the kids again. I jumped at the chance and took him back.

    He seemed so receptive. He wanted to know how I had gotten through everything he had put me through (which included STIs by the way). I was thrilled. My “best friend” was back and he truly wanted to engage with me.

    Chump mistake: I hold him about the forum I had found for left behind spouses. I told him about all the tools and the advice they had given me. I guided him towards literature and other media that would grant him insight into his own behavior and help him to develop empathy. To truly understand what he had done and how he had damaged himself and his family. He seemingly was receptive.

    It was a trap, as the Star Wars meme goes.

    When he found his next affair partner approximately a year later (this one he married), he used all the information I had given him before. All the help, tools, and advice I told him about that had helped *me* navigate his earlier adultery…? Now he knew how to hurt me better and he knew what I would do to protect myself because I handed that over to him without thinking. I had to learn a whole new skillset to deal with his affairs because he now was using my previous skillset against me.

    And all the media/literature that he absorbed in the early months of our reconciliation….? Lip service. Pretend reading. He pretended to read those articles I found for him. He nodded his head, back then, and said that he had so much more insight into his behavior now. It would never happen again now that he was “armed with knowledge and knew himself better.”

    He was just saying what he knew I wanted to hear. Manipulation 101. And it worked. It got him back into my life, my good graces, and my bed.

    When he walked out to go move in with his final affair partner a year later, I pleaded with him not to go and begged him to re-engage with all the self-help I had provided him with! Help that was not unlike Chump Lady’s book in nature. Where was all that “work he had done on himself”? Where was that newly found insight and empathy? Why was he acting just like he had before (a return to secrets and affairs)? I thought he had learned!

    He just looked at me like I truly didn’t understand… like a grownup looks at a silly child… and said that he only read that stuff because I wanted him to but he never really believed in any of it. None of that garbage applied to him. He had done nothing wrong, he was just “finally putting himself first” and “daring to be truly happy” and “was finally going to be with his true soulmate (again).” All the same stuff he had said when he was with Affair partner #1… #2… etc.

    And then he was gone again. And I realized it was I who had learned nothing. He was still the same person he was before. He was just placating me until his new best was feathered.

    Long story short (and it was long): Don’t give your cheating partner Chump Lady’s book in order that she may better know herself and have new insight into how she hurt you. Don’t tell her how you are managing to stand on your own two feet. Don’t give her ANY of that valuable data. At best, she’ll disregard it entirely and disappoint you or, at worst, she’ll absorb it and use it as a way to hurt you even more effectively.

      • Hey, Fourleaf,
        I hope it’s a comfort to you to realize there is NEVER a “final” affair partner. You know what he does with nests: goes looking for strange. They’re BOTH cheaters: 1 or both of them will be right back at it, if they aren’t already.

        Congratulations on gaining the new life!

        • “I hope it’s a comfort to you to realize there is NEVER a “final” affair partner.”

          True, true. What I mean to say was “his final affair partner with me,” I suppose. This last one was his last affair with me as the partner/spouse. Now that I’ll never have anything to do with him again means there won’t be another to follow.

          On the other hand, I take no comfort in thinking that there is never a “final affair partner.” Everyone keeps assuring me that karma knows karma or that cheaters goin’ keep cheating or this too shall never last (etc etc). But this all happened a long time ago. The last woman he cheated on me with–Other Woman #3–he married and now they’ve been married longer than he and I were. I keep my distance from both of them and, unless it’s for business reasons (custody stuff), I don’t react out at all. But she’s been a part of my childrens’ life now for a long time and they adore her.

          I stopped waiting for him to cheat on her or her to cheat on him and accepted the fact that, yeah… life is sometimes totally unfair. Sometimes there is no karma. And I told myself, “Y’know what… they’ll probably be married for the rest of their lives. And it’s possible that they’ll even be happy for the rest of their lives too.”

          And you know what? It didn’t depress me. Not one bit. It freed me. Not because I wish either of them well (conversely, I don’t wish either of them ill either) but I felt empowered and free because I wasn’t waiting for karma to teach either of them a lesson so they would know even a fraction of the pain I felt. Once I realized that it was highly likely that would never happen and that, because life is ultimately “unfair,” he’ll probably live happily ever after for the rest of his life. Waiting for him to get his comeuppance just kept me tethered to his personal life.

          So, maybe they’ll both burn their marriage down in flames or maybe they’ll live happily ever after. Doesn’t really matter in the end; I can’t hope for one or the other. It’s out of my hands.

          Thanks for the congrats! It truly does feel like a new life. A better one.

          • The best revenge is living well and being happy. I have heard of stories where the cheating couples last but from what I have witnessed AP marriages don’t end well. One cheating couple I know were also married longer than their first marriages to their chumps. It was a huge scandal when they left their spouses. The cheater husband’s kids did seem close to OWife and OWife knocked herself out for his kids. OWife’s daughter also seemed happy with OHusband but she was very close to her own father. So all seemed just peachy, but it was far from peachy. Shortly after the marriage OHusband became indifferent and OWife hung on for dear life. When OHusband put in for retirement they moved to another state, where he dumped OWife’s ass. He of course had another woman, OWife went mental, he had her arrested for DV and kicked out of the home. I believe he moved states to avoid another scandal in his hometown. What I’m getting to though is his kids, that seemed close to OWife, have nothing to do with her, no relationship at all. They got along with her because of their narcissistic father, to please him and she was very good to them but they dumped her just the same. So Fourleaf, don’t be so sure everything is honky dory in their marriage. Cheaters will bide their time till the opportunity presents itself. It’s like waiting for the other shoe to drop…no thanks.

          • I was in exactly your situation reconciled to the fact after 12 years he was happy with his second wife the OW. I wanted them to stay together to create stability for my teenage daughters. He lived a couple of miles away and the girls stayed with them every other weekend. I’m happily remarried am low contact with my ex all was settled. He left her last week handed his wife of 12 years a letter and walked away. He now lives 2 hours away and expects the children to just accept the new situation. My daughters went to see his wife it’s like history has repeated itself. No reason, no excuse no apology. She thought they were happy. It has created more misery for my children who love their stepmother and want to have a father in their lives. He still hasn’t had his comeuppance he’s moved on, leaving others to sort out the devastation. It seems so unfair but as Tracy advised I won’t get involved in his drama and will support my lovely daughters. I have booked my eldest into therapy.

            • Mainly they don’t have their comeuppance because they are not wired like the rest of us. They just keep moving without so much as a glance back.
              His OWife though…amazing how they are always shocked. He more than likely did the same thing to you when he left. The couple I referred to in my above post…the OWife was posting things about karma, how they’ll get theirs, etc. but apparently never stopped to reflect well this is my karma. How she took part in not only blowing up her family but cheater’s family as well. She was not exactly pleasant to cheater’s first wife at the beginning but when cheater started to pull away she got actually friendly with the ex-chump and made nice.

              • Yes I absolutely agree they are not wired like the rest of us! Me ex was definitely biding his time in his second marriage, I warned my children that people don’t change so he might cheat on his second wife. I wanted to prepare them that at some point the other shoe would drop… part of me can’t believe he did it again the other part can’t believe he waited 12 years!
                You guessed right he did the same to me discarded without a glance back. Weirdos.

          • I don’t even focus on Dracula getting karma. God, Jesus & the Holy Ghost could all come to me tomorrow and say “we know he’s never going to cheat again in his entire life”, and it wouldn’t matter to me. I STILL wouldn’t take him back.

            I don’t miss the emotional abuse, the constant criticisms, the ruining of holidays & vacations & birthdays, the military style sleep deprivation war tactics he deployed, his inability to keep a job, the constant bill collection notices for bills he refused to pay, his eating crackers in bed, his breaking things in the house, his destroying items in my kitchen, his usage of my professional knives to open up packages. I could go on for 30 more pages of what I DO NOT MISS!

            I’m just glad that cretin is out of my life and my house.

      • Fourleaf, that is horrifying. I thought it was bad when I tried to help cheater by sharing what I learned about gaslighting, only to find it used against me instead. I don’t know how you found the strength to get through that. Thank you for sharing. They really don’t want to learn, do they? As Dr. Simon says, it’s not a lack of knowledge problem. They know, they just don’t care.

        • I, too, learned that it is futile and dangerous to attempt personal or relationship growth with a cheater. After DDay, I committed to boundaries and accountability, and I remember explaining how my work was to have self worth and expectations and to not accept lies or gaslighting. What a rube. FW didn’t get it or didn’t want to get it because he was an abusive power freak. My goal was to have an equal, loving, honest relationship. I’d always wanted and worked for that! His goal was to control me and have cake.

          Jim, you can step back from her ongoing drama and trauma because it’s beneath you and just keeps you stuck in the unhealthy cycle. The big picture already shows irreconcilable differences, so there’s no need for further investigation or rumination.

          • Bread&Roses,

            “I, too, learned that it is futile and dangerous to attempt personal or relationship growth with a cheater.”

            Beautifully and simply put.

    • Fully agree that she will use such material against him and any further partners sucked into her sick world. I would also say if he does divorce her she will hit the rage channel. Mine did. My ex wife got full of nastiness and rage towards me when she seen I was managing perfectly fine on my own and without her.

    • Wow, FourLeaf,
      I’m sorry that happened to you. That is quite a cautionary tale. Thank you for sharing.

      • We learn the hard way sometimes. I was just so used to sharing everything with the person who had been my “best friend” since high school.

        I learned to keep secrets too, after that.

        Things a left-behind-spouse should keep secret: your separation/divorce pre-planning, your new financial information/bank account, your tools (or the advice that was given to you) for keeping you from collapsing into total despair, and even your personal thoughts and emotions on the matter.

        I shared all of that with my cheating spouse during our failed reconciliation (while he was still actively looking for another partner on the side; he found her and married her shortly thereafter) and it put him in a considerable position of strength when he left again.

        I feel like such a Debbie Downer saying this but ***don’t*** share anything regarding left-behind-spouse help (for either the cheater or the cheatee) with the spouse that is leaving. Just don’t do it. That information, that help (here, Chump Lady) is for you and you alone. The cheater will just use that info to further their own agenda, not to acknowledge or further yours.

        They are not partners anymore. Not in any sense of the word. Don’t give them any information that you wouldn’t give to someone you knew was actively out to hurt you.

        These are hard lessons to learn when you still want to think the world of them or see the good in them.

        • Four leaf you’ve come through hellfire and survived. I take my hat off to you. I also shared self help books and even CN with him because he was my best friend and I thought we shared everything. But he used it all against me. Now I realise that he did that throughout the marriage. They are truly evil. I do wish I’d kept my own secrets.
          I’m so sorry you had to go through all that twice. You are a kind and generous human being and he is a rat. Your children probably know that.

  • Absolutely pay attention. Part of what kept me stuck for so long was that I was always trying to explain and he would just argue with me and around and around we’d go.

    “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.”

    But I kept thinking it was an understanding issue – a lack of knowledge and/or experience.

    That is until I found his secret online life.

    The way he spoke about me, the way he referred to me, the joy he delighted in when recounting his sexual exploits and lies to a bunch of strangers online….

    It is definitely not a lack of understanding.

    Anyway, when I first found out, I immediately googled “so I’ve been cheated on, now what?” and an article by Tracy popped up. I felt so validated, so understood.

    I, of course, chumpily sent it to him…”see???” but he would just argue and evade. I finally learned the rule and went NO CONTACT.

    Move on with your life. She doesn’t care and even if she does, she isn’t dealing with the issues that are causing her to act this way. Leave her behind and go live a great life.

    Maybe she’ll get it and change, maybe she won’t. It won’t matter as you will be living your best life.

    (one thing I’ll note is that despite living a great life, I am still haunted by what he did to me. I hate that but please note, it doesn’t just go away by living a great life, but what else can you do, it’s better than the alternative)

    • I think that is the one thing that folks need to be aware of, scars remain for many of us.

      It doesn’t mean, we don’t go on to be happy. It is just a part of our human baggage, and we all have it. Yes we need to take some time to heal, and that time frame will of course be different for all.

      It is so individual; but I don’t necessarily think one has to be concerned about being totally healed, whatever that means. Go on and build a new life.

      I liken it to any other form of abuse, get stronger, be more selective etc; but go out and live. Folks who have been through the fire of infidelity abuse have learned a lot and can help others. Just like victims of other abuse can help new victims.

      It doesn’t have to be either/or.

      • Well said, Susie Lee.

        The betrayal, the lies, the gaslighting, the utter contempt and disrespect directed at us by the one person we totally loved and trusted to have our backs – it’s a massive wound, and for many of us, if not all, will probably never entirely go away.

        But as you say, what we *can* do is go on and build a new life. Armed with knowledge, boundaries, and a determination *never* to allow ourselves to be disrespected again.

      • Good point. I think it is like a scar. There will always be a reminder of how you were injured. But you don’t have to be defined by your scar, and most days you won’t notice it in the mirror or think about it. But maybe when it rains, or if you bump into it, or if it calls attention to itself by a new pair of shoes you’ll remember.

    • Same thing happened to me, HM. I was at home with our children, both in diapers at the time (I had just finished breastfeeding the youngest), busily loving him and providing as best as I could for our family. Even when I sensed he was growing cold and distant (which I didn’t understand at all: “What is happening to him?!”), he was still pleasant, civil, and even sometimes loving towards me. He told me nothing was wrong with us, nothing was wrong with him, he was just “going through some stuff” but it would all be okay. I just had to be patient with him, he said.

      Finally, I broke into his social media account and found all the back-and-forths between him and his affair partner(s): the emails, the messages, the photos. Even more heartbreaking, I saw what he was saying about me. The man who, the other day, stroked my cheek and told me that was going through some stuff and I just needed to be patient with him, was saying horrible, horrible, heartbreaking things about me to his (now not) secret girlfriend.

      To put it as nicely as I possibly can he basically kept complaining about me (to her) saying I was just about the most boring person on the planet and my boringness was driving him crazy. He didn’t know how much more he could take. (She was sympathetic. Her responses were mostly of the “You poor dear!” variety or other variations on that theme.)

      Seeing what your wayward spouse is actually saying about you is pretty damn heartbreaking. I actively avoid that kind of pain-shopping now but I had to learn.

      Years later, a friend asked me “He didn’t respect you at all! Don’t you know what sort of stuff he was saying about you?” Having learned that lesson, I responded “I have some idea but please… don’t tell me. I don’t need to know.”

      • Ugh.
        Sorry this happened to you, Fourleaf.

        I’ve read & heard similar things from STBX that I don’t think I will ever forget or “get over.”

        On one hand, the discoveries teach us the lesson that they are duplicitous jerks. On the other hand, the lesson is jarring, painful, wounding & leaves a mark.

    • I don’t think that they “disagree”, they just don’t care. They can see that their actions have caused immeasurable pain but they matter more than your pain.
      And I don’t think you can ever be truly healed from this. I know I won’t. I am slowly building a life without him but I doubt I will ever get to Meh. I adored him and our life together. And I miss it terribly. I think the reason why so many of us are here on this forum is because the scars just don’t heal.

      • Hi DownUnder!

        Yes, and no. The scars will never disappear, but with more time, they’re not as noticeable. I’m at Meh, but still love coming to CL like a therapy tune-up. I’m always needing reminders about boundaries, with having nothing to do with the Cheater.

        If there are things you miss from the old life, take them back for yourself and just do them with friends, family, coworkers. Reframe the things you loved and keep doing them, just Cheater-free!

        And, as always, the more time you have with Cheater in rear view mirror, the more you will heal and will forget the horror of the Cheater.

        • I agree, Chris W. Although I am not quite to ‘meh’, I’m getting closer. It has been 4 years since d-day. Still, I come to read this blog for reinforcement…on those days I feel weak…on those days that I wonder what is wrong with *me*…when I’ve had a bad day…or when the ex has had a good day…there are so many reasons I come back to this tribe for help and encouragement. I hope the unfortunate new inductees know we all have their backs here.

  • Jim,

    Your youngest turned 18 and that was your finish line. File for divorce now. No need to doubt yourself anymore. Now is when you need to get free of her — protect your finances and your heart (and your health). If it could have been fixed, it would have been fixed before your youngest turned 18. She’s not changing. You can’t change someone who has been lying and cheating on you for years without empathy or remorse — there is no magic book that does that (even the wise CL’s). Can you imagine if she decides to leave YOU now? Or if she screws you out of more money? Get yee a good therapist and an amazing lawyer, and protect yourself. You can do this! Your STBX is a lost cause and not yours to work on. Sending you hugs and strength.

  • You have reached the finish line, and now you are trying to make sure your STBX understands your decision to stop racing. It is not going to work. Instead of trying to increase her empathy, work on building protections for yourself in anticipation of the point she shifts from contentment with her life into rage and vengeance over the realization that you aren’t putting up with her any longer. Find a therapist, find a lawyer, find some supportive friends. Your kids are going to be unhappy. Your wife is going to try and make you the bad guy. Parts of this will be very tough for awhile. The person you need to help is yourself.

    Yet, as you move forward, you can anticipate 2022 being one of the best years you’ve enjoyed in a very long time.

    • She will flip to rage and vengeance and make him appear the bad guy. That’s exactly what legal team advised me about the day I filed for divorce and within a month of filing for that divorce I was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence against her and then removed from the home by social services and all on no evidence at all. She painted me as an abusive husband to divert away from how she was the one who destroyed our little family and how she was out fucking dozens of men behind my back. Sick sick people they are. Jim needs to really protect himself for that potential outcome.

  • Dear Jim, you need to lose the word “we”. Your soon-to-be-ex-wife doesn’t believe in it. Why should you? You’ve staying in the marriage for the kids. I planned to do that, but my mental health was being destroyed. You need two things right now–a good therapist and a good attorney.

    Life will be better on the other side. You’ve slogged through a lot of bad times, so I know you have the endurance to get through the final push with the divorce. Go for it.

    • You are at the finish line. Get out and protect YOU. If you do not do that now, she will use the time to what –more financial infidelity?, line up her ducks (to your detriment), see that by you wanting her to understand…….that she can hoover you back in from time to time. If she is always trying to hoover you back in, THAT WILL PREVENT OR HINDER your ability to move on and have your best possible life. Your future relationships will suffer. As long as you are wanting her to see what you have been through, you are not at the finish line. She does/did not care about your feelings, mental, physical and financial health. She disagrees with infidelity, dishonesty, etc. being harmful….

      Do not forget to go minimal contact. She is no longer the person you fell in love with. That person probably did not exist. I understand wanting her to see what you went through, etc. She made the decision to take the risk of losing you, hurting you and the kids, etc. She did not care enough to be honest and let you decide if you wanted to build a life with a cheater who had no empathy or did you want to get out. People who want to cheat and have no empathy will not change for the person they have done that to. They may hoover back at their convenience but then how much could you trust her? Sounds like she cares only about herself.

      You can do this. Keep reading this blogs and the archives. Best of luck to you.

      • “She is no longer the person you fell in love with. That person probably did not exist.”

        Another hard lesson we members of “the club that no one wanted to join” learn well. For so long I wailed “Where did my husband go? Who is this alien who took his place?”

        Years later, with a vision more unclouded by my heart and absolute objective proof before me (even going back to our high school dating days), I see that this cruel and strange alien is actually… well, just him. The man I married didn’t “disappear.” That man, the one I saw through my rose-colored glasses, never actually existed.

  • Dear Jim, you’re making the mistake of thinking she’s like you – if you can only make her see what she’s done, and how much she’s hurt you, she’ll be overcome with grief and guilt, and make it up to you. Which is what us Chumps would do.

    Absolutely *not*. These people are bundles of selfishness and *entitlement*. What they want, what makes them feel good, are the only things of importance.

    George Simon says, as CL quotes, “it’ s not that they don’t se, it’s that they disagree.”. Actually I’d change that to, “it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t give a flying fuck.”

    Giving this bitch LACGAL wouldn’t change a thing, truly. You think if she reads it it will suddenly give her an epiphany – “oh, how horrible I’ve been, I’m so sorry, forgive me!”

    No. Firstly, cheating is caused by selfishness and *entitlement* – two big character flaws which won’t be magically erased by reading LACGAL. She, like all cheaters, will still be convinced she was entitled to cheat, because, reasons. ????????

    Secondly, as others have said, LACGAL, if she reads it, will just give her more tools to devastate you, because you’ ve shown her where you hurt. “come closer so I can slap you harder” is a very real thing. Don’t give her any more ammunition.

    I totally understand why you think it might make a difference, because as a Chump you have empathy and a sense of responsibility, a conscience, the desire to make amends if you’ve hurt someone.

    But she has, and feels, none of these things. She’s not like you, honey.

    Get on with divorcing this horrible woman, and concentrate on *you* – you have nothing to salvage. ((hugs)), come here often, and read through the archives, I think there’s a post on this same topic. Xx

    • “it’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t give a flying fuck.””

      Yep, I really think they mostly know what they are doing, and they don’t care. I think, saying they “disagree” gives them more credit than they deserve.

      My ex knew what he was doing to another human being, much less his wife and the mother of his child was heinous, he just didn’t care, because doing what he wanted was all that mattered. He knew he was lying about me, he wasn’t an idiot, he just didn’t care; because lying was how he maintained control of not just me, but of others he was lying to.

      They know exactly who and what they are and They.just.don’

      • “I think, saying they “disagree” gives them more credit than they deserve.”

        Yes, it implies they’ve come to their position through a process of reasoning, whereas the only process is “it’s what I want, and I don’t care who it hurts”.

        • 100% THIS.

          I can tell you that after looking into those empty eyes after trying to talk to him about what he had done, absolutely no reasoning was involved.

          • The ex definitely did not care enough to disagree. That would have required some thought. He said that he ‘cared’. That was image management. Why would you care about hurting the person you had lived with for 26 years when you had already said that you could not think of one single thing you liked about her. He did ‘care’ about getting away from me and leaving me to sort out the carnage. The hoovering continued, off and on, for 2 months. The rage arrived as soon as I found out about the affair.

            I sent him articles from the UK Relate (marriage guidance) website about counselling to end the marriage well. When I asked if he had read them, as he promised to do, he smirked. My power came back when I divorced him on the grounds of his unreasonable behaviour, instead of waiting 2 years by consent like the good little girl I was supposed to be. I cited his, at the very least, ‘emotional affair’. I could not prove that she had gone with him on his ‘headspace’ week although the imprint of her backside was on the front seat of our car as a huge stain which hadn’t been there when he left.

            Jim, these people are not good enough for us. Don’t sell yourself short for another day. I’m 18 months out. My life is richer in every sense, through therapy and courage and support from the people who genuinely care about me. See her as a slayer of your spirit. A vampire. Leave her to hide from the sun and sleep in the dirt. You stay in the bright light of real life.

      • >>They.just.don’

        I think it’s worse than that. They anti-care. They despise caring which justifies harming those who care. Anyone can have “lack of empathy” moments. What is toxic is anti-empathy. Like Voldemort, they think love and caring is for fools. Not that they would ever cop to that, and instead use lying language which lets them get away with it, the rush of duping delight.

        Love nurtures another’s emotional independence, like how a parent encourages a child. They try to destroy their target’s emotional independence. They loathe any emotional independence which isn’t focused on how “special” they are. It took me awhile after NC to understand that about my Ex; that he was deliberately sabotaging my friendships and careers. Then he’s all insulting about how I was the one who supposedly failed. I thought once my career was straightened out, he’d see that he’d been wrong about me; he’d be logical and help build up a potential ally. Instead he became even more destructive. It was like his religion that I was always inferior, and he superior, and any heresy otherwise should be crushed as cruelly as possible.

        What was even more confusing was that Ex acted very sappy about love sometimes which was what convinced me of his sincere “love”. He said some of the most impossibly tender, loving things to me, which convinced me for decades that my entanglement with him was actually love which got spoiled somehow. But then, I ran across this “anti-love” line of thought from Carl Jung, quote, “Sentimentality is the superstructure erected upon brutality.” What I thought was love was actually anti-love, which resembles love in the same way a footprint resembles a foot. But actually it is a photo negative, or shadow. I call it anti-love, a toxic baby’s demands to be adored by parental, mommy-slaves, and hell to pay if they don’t get it.

        Jung was also the one who mentioned “emotional independence”. Real love builds “emotional independence” or heart, and anti-love destroys it every chance it gets. Jung is a terribly difficult read, but his psychological typing work really put together my life history in a different way, more useful. I don’t mean to untangle the skein, but I found useful his ideas of polar opposites who resemble each other. I could respect myself more knowing how much brutal, sappy, anti-love resembles real love. /End of tangent

        • Wow, that is deep. I never thought of it that way before. I do recall a conversation in which the Dollar Whore said he never understood why my father had never cheated on my mother; after all he (my dad) had been a handsome man in his youth. He literally could not wrap his head around the idea that someone could be capable of attracting an AP and not act on it.

    • I always thought the same. “It isn’t that they don’t see, it’s that they don’t CARE.” They don’t care. Disagreement implies that they’re even considering the other side. They aren’t. They don’t care.

      • If they couldn’t see, they wouldn’t know to hide it. If they cared, they wouldn’t do it.

  • You said it yourself. She is not capable of understanding. If she was, she would not have ever cheated and you would not be here.

    She is capable of hurting you, she has, and she does. not. care.

    You are powerless over her and making her understand anything. You are powerless to control her. Wanting her to read the book is looking for some control and power over this terrible and painful thing that she is INTENTIONALLY doing. Not gonna happen. Cheating, among other things, is an emotionally immature power trip where the only winning move is letting go of the rope as in tug of war.

    DETACH = Don’t Even Try And Change Him/Her.

    It has been so hard for me to internalize this. It takes time time time and more time.

    The big reminder of what he’s capable of is how he treated our daughter. He basically ghosted her. He got a fancy apartment with all the amenities and a swimming pool for himself and his cheating accomplice (whom he cheated on). For our daughter? He was lying about living with the cheating accomplice. He said he was living in the loft he built at the buildings where out business is located. (we own the buildings). The loft is a grim unfinished illegal firetrap. A heating dish from Costco was the heat source. This is in a manufacturing facility with machines running….LOUD…24/7. If there was a fire they would not have been able to get out. She did not get the nice new apartment with all the amenities, swimming pool, her own room, bed, etc. He set up the cheating accomplice in the nice place and gave his daughter table scraps as far as living arrangements. With a very healthy amount of cash sitting in a bank account.

    If you’ve been through several rounds of cheating, it’s going to take a lot of deprogramming. A great therapist, Chump Lady, talking with trusted people who have been there, and time time time.
    I just know for certain of illicit massage parlors and one illicit relationship, but like cockroaches, I am sure there are 40,000 more behind the walls.

    • I’m also powerless over you, Jim! But you wrote Chump Lady and are asking us what we think, and I hope you will trust us and not go back to your marriage for more proof that you can trust yourself.

      As was said above, add a great lawyer to your pit crew of great therapist, Chump Lady, trusted friends, and you will actually win this race.

    • I also like “Don’t Even Think About Changing Him/Her” – because it speaks to the problem of giving away our mental real estate.

      Having said that, I still struggle with whether/how to communicate about my feelings with my STBX, though fortunately I’m almost to the other side. I feel your pain, Jim. Sometimes women cheaters in particular, based on what I’ve seen here in CN, seem like they really care and want to hear about our feelings. You could say that empathy is part of my STBX’s job. But her empathy stops at me, because she’s been devaluing me for years due to her disorder. So even if she could hear about how harmful her actions have been, it won’t be from me, or from anything associated with me. And in the end, I don’t think most cheaters can ever really face the harm they have caused. It just feels too bad, and most of them have disordered ways of coping to being with.

      As Morpheus says after Neo visits the Oracle in The Matrix: “What was said was for you, and for you alone.” That’s the attitude I have had to adopt when informing myself about how to proceed, by reading LACGAL or any other infidelity-related resource. All best to you & to all chumps!

  • Post DDay, I sent my ex one article that I thought elucidated some aspect of “my side.” It wasn’t from LAC:GAL and my intent wasn’t to reconcile. My intent was for him to see the error of his ways and understand my position. I wanted him to say, “Spinach, you’re so right! I’m a total shit.”

    But it had this horrible boomerang effect. He somehow read it and then somehow turned it back on me, using his disordered thinking. It was insane, and I realized in that moment the futility of trying to reason with him.

    I also realized that I don’t need him to think I’m right. I don’t need him to think anything. He’ll believe what he wants to believe. He’ll justify the bejeezus out of his actions. To hell with that.

    I read and listened to all and/or portions of LAC;GAL over 20 times. I had my favorite chapters (e.g., Chapter 11: The Fine Art of No Contact) and needed frequent tuneups. Thirty-five years of gaslighting and blameshifting were tough to overcome (or I’m a slow learner).

    Anyway, my point, Jim, is that I agree with CL. Sharing anything with her to somehow reason with her will do no good. And I would add that it may, in fact, backfire on you.

    Save yourself! Leave her! Gain a life.

    • Yes, that sums up my experience in going to therapy and sharing some resources with my STBX in the early days after D-Day #2. She weaponized all of them and turned them back on me. Examole: I tried to tell her how I felt I had been walking on eggshells for a long time, and she said “me too!” Eventually, I started calling out the manipulations by name – false equivalence, blameshifting, whataboutism, etc. I reminded her many times that, while she might have felt “disconnected,” she never really talked to me about it, and I always treated her with the utmost respect, including never deceiving her. But, to this day almost 3 years later, it remains unclear to me whether she really “gets” it. Her disrespectful behavior during Covid suggests that her boundaries are as crappy as they have always been, and that she will always turn the tables on me if I ask for consideration.

      So, I have learned to armor up and avoid vulnerability whenever possible. Sad, but necessary.

  • A VERY good reason not to give her CL’s book is that we chumps don’t want her hopping over here to CN (or the CL FB page). Maybe some of you might be able to remain anonymous but after all I’ve written about my twat of an ex-husband, he would DEFINITELY know who “Attie” is! Good luck Jim, get out now before she does you any more harm!

    • Excellent point, Attie. The *last* thing we need is cheaters bopping over here to gather more tips on how to hurt Chumps.

      • Yep, anyone who knew my ex and I would definitely know exactly who I am. For the most part I don’t care, which is why I never held back. In fact I wouldn’t mind some folks knowing what a shit head he was to me, because in real time I took the high road.

        It took me years to admit to my brother how bad it really was.

        But for those still in the trenches it would likely not be a good thing.

  • Jim, my brother, I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through and for discovering you’ve been tethered to a sociopath all these years. For years you’ve been patiently waiting at the customer service window for your complaint to be heard. But it’s time you realize that customer service doesn’t care. Actually it doesn’t exist. If you persist long enough eventually you will be a skeleton covered in cob webs, still standing there, waiting to be heard. You must come to terms with the fact that your values, character and sense of decency have created the illusion that customer service exists. It’s time to turn your back, walk away and join the legion of former “blue pill”brothers and sisters who have taken the red pill and opened their eyes to a life of promise and potential. A lot of time has passed by, but the best part of life awaits you. Godspeed, my friend.

    • Gratefully, I am grateful for your words. This is a keeper.


    • “For years you’ve been patiently waiting at the customer service window for your complaint to be heard. But it’s time you realize that customer service doesn’t care. Actually it doesn’t exist. If you persist long enough eventually you will be a skeleton covered in cob webs, still standing there, waiting to be heard. You must come to terms with the fact that your values, character and sense of decency have created the illusion that customer service exists.”

      That’s it. That’s it in a nutshell.

  • Dude let her go..plain and simple. You’re not going to reach her with books, articles, podcasts, voodoo, or magic potions. You can reach yourself. Look I’m a broken guy and have been for decades. I still function because I have to. I function because in spite of my self loathing sometimes I still like me. I know that being taken advantage of and breaking my neck to reach someone not as invested sucks moose ass. I have a book for you after you’ve read Chump Lady’s book….
    Look inside this book.
    Cindi Sansone-Braff
    Why Good People Can’t Leave Bad Relationships: Letting Go of Your Six So-Called Good Traits That Keep You Tied To The Devil You Know…. Chapman’s book about the 5 Love Languages is a good guide for your own personal boundaries. My man you’re bleeding and need stitches please get out of there…breathe the fresh air of freedom. Don’t keep setting yourself on fire to keep her warm

    • “don’t keep setting yourself on fire to keep her (him) warm.”

      very powerful words. I nearly died trying to keep him warm – trying to keep a marriage and family happy and well. I was doing all of the work by myself and indeed, now I can see that he was purposefully using his strength and energy to pull against my work. Wow. Great quote.

    • Hey NYN,

      You have some of the best posts but this one is stellar.

      “Don’t keep setting yourself on fire to keep her warm.”

      I’ve never heard that powerful phrase before today. It describes exactly what I did so long ago. I wish I had heard someone put it that way. It might have spurred me to action and saved a few painful years of trying to make peace with FW behavior.

      Jim, write this in sharpie on your arm. No tattoos because the day will come when you don’t the reminder, but for now, look at it every day every time you think of her. Just focus on you and what works for you and your kids.

      Good luck, come back often.

    • The longer you wait to get out and the more you think you can get her to understand even a tiny bit of what you have gone through, the harder it will be for you in the long run. Don’t wait a few more decades! You will like and respect yourself more when you are not accepting less than you deserve in a relationship. Otherwise, suddenly you may realize everything was worse than you thought and you will start seeing red flags that were there all along and you ignored them probably because of the kids and you believe in trusting your partner. It’s one in a million when a cheater can redeem themself. They know what they are doing and do not care how hurtful it is to others. It is about them and their pleasure and not the betrayed spouse. They actively deny that anything is wrong, say you are making things out to be something they are not—the list goes on forever.

  • One of the best parts of this journey is letting go of the need to make the cheater understand your perspective … and then letting go of any attachment you have to their opinion of you. When you stop trying to explain empathy and adult behavior to a grown-ass person, you’ll be amazed at the freedom and peace.

    “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” Keep repeating until it sinks in.

    In my first relationship after the divorce, the guy did something that hurt my feelings. I told him and he said, “I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to hurt you and here’s what I’m going to do to not hurt you like that again.” And then he DID THAT THING. I was amazed. OMG, a partner who actually cared about my feelings and let it affect his behavior! And then I realized how sad it was that that was the first time I’d experienced such basic kindness in a relationship.

    Here’s the kicker – that wasn’t even a serious relationship. We kept it casual because neither of us was ready for serious. But because he was a decent human being, he treated me better than my husband of 20 years treated me. And that changed the course of my relationships forever.

    You deserve that. You deserve someone with basic human kindness and empathy. Detach from the fuckwit. Life is so much better without them.

    • BetterDays,

      I allowed myself one short casual relationship after my divorce too. It definitely wasn’t serious. Like you, I was absolutely *floored* by the basic kindness and respect I was being shown–it was almost unreal to me.

      I haven’t dated anyone since and it’s been… well, well over a decade now. I simply have no interest in dating; my fear of going through what I went through with XH is just too strong and I’ve made my peace with that.

      But I’m glad I briefly went out with someone else after my divorce. The basic kindness and respect he showed me (to be clear, he didn’t go above and beyond, it was just basic kindness and respect) gave me a new frame of reference and I fully realized how poorly my XH had treated me before.

  • After he suddenly abandoned me for a ho-worker half his age, my X Asshat declared that he didn’t want to be told he was doing anything wrong.

    Huh. I guess that is the end of the discussion then. My request for explanations, my counterpoints and pleas for him to value our life together and to stop hurting our daughters might hint that he was “wrong” and therefore shall not be spoken. He unilaterally ruined our family and insisted he had a right to do it. He deserved to be happy, you see. The rest of us deserved humiliation. We did not matter even one little bit.

    Their heads are really that far up their asses, Jim. Nothing to work with when the entitlement is so profound.

    She will not miss you. She might miss the services you provide (paycheck, image management, being her chaos janitor) but otherwise she is already gone. Let her be gone.

  • My cheater once ran through her litany of justifications, and I shot each one down in turn. Finally, she said “fine, I knew how much it would hurt you, and I just didn’t care. Do you want to know why?” And I said “no” because it would be just another bullshit justification that would delude the truth she had finally spoken. It was the only honest thing she said to me over the course of six months after D-day.

    I think it’s a character problem but also a perception problem. They fail to perceive that other people matter. They fail to perceive that anyone’s needs other than theirs’ matter. They fail to perceive that there’s anything wrong with them. If someone makes it to adulthood and hasn’t had these misperceptions corrected, nothing is going to fix that and certainly not a hard-truth book that calls them out.

    • Erasure, I’ve thought a lot about what you’ve written here and come to similar conclusions. Just couldn’t articulate it the way you have. Thanks for reminding me not to allow someone’s misperceptions define my reality.

      I could so relate to that moment when you realize it doesn’t matter and you can let go. When I came back to collect my things, after a few ddays and unsuccessful attempts at reconciliation, my ex had spread his journals and affair correspondences and mementos (that he’d previously kept under lock and key) out on his bed for me to look through. He took the padlock off his office and the password off his computer. I didn’t even pause to look because I already knew everything I needed to – and honestly, it had very little to do with the stupid and sordid details of his relationships with strangers. I return to this understanding when some detail comes loose from my subconscious and alerts me to another likely betrayal; I relax and let it go because I don’t need to know, or try to know, anymore.

  • Yes, reading a book is like therapy. It generally only changes someone if they are already headed that way and are a humble, open person.

    I also used to think that the right book or the right therapist would turn it around. That was part of my false belief that I could somehow control the outcome. Nope.

    I agree with the George Simon quote. I believe that my ex knew exactly what he was doing, and it ran so deep that nothing was going to change it because it was part of his character. He fought bitterly with his high-powered attorney because my ex believed that what he wanted in the agreement trumped the law and his $700/hour lawyer. Thankfully I got a good agreement, but what a mess.

  • Recall Tracy’s cartoon– trying to get that goldfish to knit you a sweater- they simply can’t. It is not in their nature to even try. We Chumps keep shoving the needles and yarn at them because if it were us we would certainly TRY to knit, knowing how important it is to the person who wants their sweater. All the confusion and pain we go through is because we can’t imagine what it is like to be a non-knitting, totally unaware, lizard-brain goldfish. It is not that they don’t see, it is that they don’t believe it applies to them. They disagree.

    I can’t imagine how my X lives with himself, how he goes even one day without eating a bullet after what he has done to his family, his reputation, and most of all the chasm of distance he put between himself and his daughters. But he has no clue how to do anything else. It doesn’t even occur to him that he could be different and he is certain that everything that a has happened to him is someone else’s fault with their nasty, vindictive consequences.

    • “It doesn’t even occur to him that he could be different and he is certain that everything that a has happened to him is someone else’s fault with their nasty, vindictive consequences.”

      So true. I think *that*attitude is a very typical stance of cheaters. Looking back, I can now see that for my ex fuckwit, anything adverse that happened to him was *always* someone else’s fault – he was totally incapable of any kind of self-examination.

      I remember once asking him why he always blamed me for anything that went wrong, he said something like “I blame you because you’re here, and I need you”.

      Shit, I should have run then! ????‍♀️????

      • Chumpnomore:
        That’s exactly why cheaters devalue us. They might be perfectly kind to a stranger, or to someone they interact with occasionally. But we’re there all the time. And if they feel bad most of the time, and can’t internalize the experience or sit in discomfort, then whom else would they blame?

        So, lucky us: we get to see a side of cheaters that few others get to see. My STBX still has all kids of close friends making excuses for her, but that’s because she hasn’t turned on them yet: their kibbles are too good. But woe to the one who can’t magically make her feel better about herself… ????

    • There are those who don’t self reflect, and in addition only surround themselves with people who blow smoke up their ass all the time. That would be my fuckwit and the smoke blowers would be his family ( his entire social network as he had no friends ).
      He worked really hard to be the rockstar in his family, and in return he got constant praise – especially from mommy dearest.
      Then there’s the work colleagues… and he was always super charming around them so they likely think he’s Mr. Wonderful as well.
      At first mine blamed me for his cheating ( nonsensical reasons) then later he blamed his ex-wife for his cheating on me. So now it was his ex-wife’s fault that he was discarding me for a married colleague – because he realized he had stayed in his 1st marriage too long. First wife’s lack of constant happiness and constant admiration for him… apparently caused his cheating on me – W#2. They believe their own stories.
      So if you have been jilted by somebody who takes zero responsibility, rest assured they will be that same person in their future relationships whether it’s with the OW/ OM, or somebody unrelated to your break up.

  • Give a cheater a self help/resource book and you risk being told “As if YOU are so perfect!”

    As one therapist told me “you keep expecting him to care, stop that”.

    • Yep, I was snarked at, “Well, I guess you are just an aaaannnnnngel!”

      Right. The line between my wanting to honor our vows and maintain the family vs. his wanting to abandon us all to go screw a chick half his age is vanishingly thin. I should not surprised he accidentally fell on the wrong side of it and it certainly should not be held against him. /sarc

      These people are pure evil.

    • I got, “and you say you want to lead an examined life?”

      And don’t even think about sharing any literature related to Buddhism/mindfulness with a cheater. Nothing got under my skin more than being smugly told that I needed to meditate and learn to let pain and difficulty go. “They are just passing moments and feelings. They’re not real. I think it will really help you.” Seriously. I said that mindfulness is about paying attention to your discomfort and noticing where it comes from. He is a know-it-all who knows nothing.

      FW was very preoccupied with toxic shame. (Not worried about harm he was causing to others, just didn’t like feeling bad about it.) Seemed to think shame is a thing to meditate away. If you feel bad because you’re doing bad things, don’t keep doing them. A guilty conscience keeps you from being a monster if you pay it heed.

      • *For the record, I never said I wanted to lead “an examined life.” That was all him. What a pretentious and insensitive thing to say to the honest and patient person who supported him and his family for years while he led a double/triple life. Clueless jerk.

      • Does anybody watch ‘the social’ from Canada? It’s like ‘the talk’ in the states. 4 women talking about current events etc.
        On yesterday’s show, they were talking about cheating… And one of them was saying we should not judge and be Buddhist about it. We should not be so attached etc.
        If you are able to access the show, please watch it and comment on their Faceboo page. It’s ‘the social’ on CTV.
        These women are all about educating about entitlement and privilege. That’s a good thing.
        However they don’t realize that there is also a privileged attitude that comes with having never been betrayed. There’s also a privileged attitude that comes with having been brought up by two loving parents who are still together and functioning well in their senior years-unlike many of us who were brought up by single parents because one of the parents cheated and left their parent.
        Many of us were brought up with all the consequences of having a single parent and the lack of income… I could go on and on. Many of us then ended up marrying cheaters.
        The whole Buddhism angle and preaching enlightenment about cheating was so highly offensive I wanted to burst.
        They were absolutely clueless as to how the chumped partner did not sign up for all the ‘perks’of cheating and did not consent to all the downfalls -like cervical cancer anyone?
        Frankly they didn’t seem to be aware of any of the downfalls to the unsuspecting and loyal partner.
        It was a shocking short segment / from 4 women who are supposedly progressive feminist supporting other women and equity.

  • ‘ Then you do the codependent thing where you highlight all the relevant chapters and leave them by their bedside.’ Check. Mine read the book and all the articles – he was Mr Wonderful! It only served to show him and OW I really wanted to hold on to him. I was discarded anyway.

    I was in huge shock and denial. I realize now, if they are willing to take those 1000 secretive and betraying steps necessary to have an emotional and then physical affair – reading a book isn’t going to
    all of a sudden make them care about you and your relationship.
    The mistake (projection) on my part was the assumption that he did care about me and us.
    It’s like knowing somebody is poisoning you (they admit it) and giving them a book on healthy liquids because you are convinced that deep down they care about your health.

    • “It’s like knowing somebody is poisoning you (they admit it) and giving them a book on healthy liquids because you are convinced that deep down they care about your health.”

      Spot on Zip, made me laufg though! ????

    • So true!

      They don’t care about us, and that’s a tough pill to swallow. And I needed a huge glass of bitch-slap water to get that pill down.

      They tell us they don’t care about us by their actions and sometimes by their words. When my ex fessed up, he said that in order to have sex with someone, you need to love that person (which is something I used to say; I’m sure Dr. Lap Dance doesn’t really believe this). Anyway, I thought he was trying to tell me that he loved the OW, which is why he could have sex with her. That’s painful enough. But, no, in his ham-fisted way, he was trying to tell me that he must still love ME because we’d had sex recently. I guess he thought that bit of news would comfort me. #covertnarc #asshole #CluelessFW #abuser

    • So true, Zip. Once, when FW was doing something “nice” to try and Hoover me back, I told him I felt like he was telling me to trust him and close my eyes while he fed me something – poison. He insisted he wasn’t, that it really was good. I opened my mouth. It was poison. I did that SO MANY TIMES. I’ve looked back on that exchange and thought, ‘I could’ve saved myself over a year of more pain and destruction if I’d trusted my instincts instead of a proven liar’s unreliable word.’

      • Bread&roses, we need to stop blaming and being so very hard on ourselves. We are mere human beings with big hearts and a lot of trust. It’s very logical to want to hold on to a family and to believe that your partner is going to make a serious effort- because there’s so much at stake. And we project our love and goodness on to them. They are troubled, selfish people.
        You did nothing wrong. The bigger the hope, the bigger your love was.
        Your cheater didn’t deserve you, that’s all. Give yourself a hug.

  • My therapist (formerly our family therapist) with whom we had been for many years and knows him/me/the marriage well, who fired him and kept me as a client, said,

    “This was all caused by him lying.”

    I said, “All of it?”

    She said, “All of it.”

    She also suggested in January that I read
    The Human Magnet: The Codependent Narcissist Trap. (Ross Rosenberg)

    Spoiler alert: I am not the narcissist….


    I have been pulling codependent weeds for 36 years. The roots are deep, and trauma activates codependence. It’s an ongoing process..

    • “I have been pulling codependent weeds for 36 years. The roots are deep, and trauma activates codependence. It’s an ongoing process..”

      I’m hunched over those weeds with you, VH! Every damn day I pull more. My ex fertilized them. His everlasting bouquet just for me!

  • Oh, do I remember trying to get CheaterX to see just why his words hurt me so much.

    That was before I knew he was cheating and before I knew that there were such things as Cluster B personality disorders and that CheaterX ticked off a lot of the Borderline boxes.

    I knew his family never really communicated with each other. My parents, on the other hand, raised us by reminding us that other people have feelings, too. So I reverted to the kinds of things my parents would say when we were kids: “when you say “X,” I find it hurtful because of Y” or “I just spent the entire afternoon cleaning up. If you had done this, how would you feel if someone came in and said that the house was a dump?” (it wasn’t ever a dump and the joke in the family was that anyone could drop in and it always looked as if the house had just been cleaned).

    He never acknowledged that he was being hurtful, and it always seemed so weird to me that he just didn’t seem to see that he’d done anything wrong, though of course if the shoe were on the other foot, he’d act all mad and hurt.

    And that was before I knew he was cheating, and certainly before the affair.

    Thanks to this website, I learned about Cluster B personality disorders. Cheating is a narcissistic act, though not all Cheaters have Narcissistic Personality Disorder. Mine showed more flags for Borderline, but hey, I’m no therapist and really, it doesn’t matter what version of Cluster B because the really important thing is the behavior, not the diagnosis. I did learn after the divorce, when the affair and subsequent marriage went south and CheaterX tried to hoover me back in for Plan B, that he’d seen a therapist who offered Borderline Personality Disorder as one of the possibilities for his dysfunction.

    Anyway, the point is that you can’t make your cheater see that you’re hurting. They can’t. When they offer reconciliation, they’re not really reconciling out of a deep desire to redress their wrongs and make amends. They’re offering to reconcile because the costs of divorce are greater than they want to pay (retirement, financial security, public image, loss of cake, etc.).

    I know it’s really hard to realize that you’re married to someone who sees you only as a kind of convenience, a trusty appliance that you use all the time and that’s always been dependable, but this is the nature of your reality, and facing it will set you free.

    Seek out therapy for yourself. Talk with divorce lawyers to see what you can expect, given your situation. Be upfront with your children about the reason for the divorce, though in a neutral tone (“I discovered your mother has had numerous affairs throughout our marriage, so we are getting a divorce” v. “Your mother has fucked so many men throughout our marriage that if she charged, she’d be able to retire.”). Cheaters often engage in character assassination, so getting in front of the narrative makes sense.

    You deserve to heal and to be with someone who will love and cherish you as much as you love and cherish them. You can get this only after you divorce.

    Best of luck.

    • “My parents, on the other hand, raised us by reminding us that other people have feelings, too.”

      The golden rule, same way I was raised.

      On the house thing, that was his only complaint against me when he left, I wasn’t a good enough house keeper. And it is true I wasn’t a spit shiner, but I wasn’t a bad house keeper either. He always had all his clothes clean, the house was not piled up the bathroom and kitchen were always very clean (a fetish of mine) Really it was just I didn’t dust as often as I should, and around my chair I did keep my books and whatever I was working on at the time.

      Ironically after we divorced and he married the whore he became a hoarder, and the whore per my daughter in law made me look like Martha Stewart.

      He let the house almost fall down, because he refused to admit we had termites, but I was the bad housekeeper.

      Then the asshole tried to stick me with that house and the care of his mother for the rest of my life. Thankfully, I had a lawyer that said hell no.

      • Too funny on the termites!

        Mine was convinced he was the king of DIY. And yes, he mowed weekly and got on the roof to clean the gutters, BUT he also ignored the advice that we got from more than one roofer who told us that not only was the roof installed incorrectly, but we also needed new guttering because the previous roofer hadn’t accounted for the drip line properly and so the water was getting into the boards onto which the gutters were fashioned and in one place had rotted away the sheeting underlying the shingles.

        He also refused to consider that the heat pump was about to give out, for which I was grateful once I realized he was spending all sorts of $$ on Schmoopie. I didn’t want him to start financing both roof and heat pump. Thankfully, the heat pump completely gave up the ghost AFTER the divorce went through. I’m pretty sure he’s had to make major roof repairs by now as well. When I looked around for basic maintenance stuff, I figured he’d have to spend close to $20K.

  • Jim, my ex-husband actually read one of the books and told me how the book helped him to “understand” how I felt, and how he didn’t realize how deep the pain was, after a person had been cheated on. It did not stop him from cheating with, yet, another woman (that I know of) a year and a half layer.

    I’m so sorry, but the best thing is to move on, as hard as it will be. I used to get high off the “hopium” too. This Sept will be three years post-divorce, and Tuesday, has finally come. I’m at “meh.”

  • Thinking there was a “we” is what kept you in that marriage so long, hoping she would change, hoping she would understand, finally, how hurtful her behavior was.

    There was never a “we.” There was only “you,” working overtime in a marriage with no reciprocity.

    There is no “we” going forward, either, only “you” making the decision to divorce a person who has always acted to satisfy herself, with you and the kids be damned.

    YOU go forward on your own, making a healthy decision to leave a cheater. Replace “we” with “Trust that she sucks.” Because she does.

  • Jim,

    Please read kb’s post above indicating the likelihood that your wife has some sort of character or personality disorder. You haven’t yet internalized the fact that she is not like you. You think if she understands that she hurt you, she will change. But she’s been caught committing both sexual infidelity and financial infidelity and that didn’t change her. She knows you are hurt but you, Jim, do not count as she totes up the cost/benefit analysis of cheating and theft. Adults with poor character don’t change without massive effort, effort that you would see in terms of a shift away from selfishness and a lack of reciprocity and accountability.

    What you need to do is find out how much money she’s removed from marital funds. Add that up and make the return of those funds part of your divorce case. Hotel rooms, trips–whatever she spent money on in furthering the affair.

    You want to see the lawyer but prepare, financially, to move your paycheck and other income into a separate account. You don’t want her tapping your money going forward. You want to run a credit check ASAP while you are still married, looking for hidden credit cards, etc. And you may want to freeze your credit until you have filed and your attorney says it’s safe to go back to regular business. You want to figure out whether it makes sense to sell the family home or you want to keep it or have her buy you out. You want to figure out if it’s worth fighting to get her to pay her share of college costs. You want to know where you would live, ideally. And so on.

    Turn your attention away from the marriage. It’s been over. Turn your attention to your life, your health, and your happiness.

  • Jim,

    Cheaters seldom, if ever, do self-improvement; it’s just not in their nature. Also, I’d stop with the “we” narrative …. her actions make it quite clear that she ditched that concept a long time ago.


  • The day you decide to accept that despite all the pain of betrayal, you accept responsibility for all of your life choices that got you here (including marrying her), is the day you start the journey of growth and freedom. Process the pain along the way but point your life forward from here on in. You will be greatly rewarded.

    Let the bitch go. There’s nothing you can ever do that will encourage her to see more deeply into what she has done. She DOESN’T care.

  • Hi Jim,


    That is the number of carefully selected articles I shared with my husband in 2017 that I thought would be helpful to him in understanding what he might be going through while he was engaging in an affair that I didn’t really fully understand at the time (was led to believe it was potentially an emotional affair with someone he had only met a couple of months before). Articles ranged from discussions of how normal it is to feel that you don’t love your spouse anymore and how to get the love back. Articles about the affair fog and hormones that make the high of outside relationships addictive. Articles about midlife crisis. Articles about the damage of infidelity (including the trauma of trickle truth). You name it! I served up to him everything that the Reconciliation Industrial Complex had to serve me.

    Then, there were the podcasts, the 18 hours of marriage counselling, and the couple’s therapy weekend away. Every one of his family members tried to take sense into him. All of his friends encouraged him to stay in the marriage. We met with our parish priest. All of this in the span of one year.

    There was no more well-informed cheater than my ex-husband that year. He was given all the information to help develop his self-awareness, every opportunity to self-reflect, every support imaginable to support his commitment to his marriage.

    And he still blew it all and left for the OW. In the secret email account I discovered with his email correspondence to the OW, he played victim to her about how he felt the whole world was against him, that he’s the black sheep of his family who has always been misunderstood, that I was a controlling wife who never let him have a say in anything, that no one supports him and what he needs in his life.

    Except for one person. HER. She was the only person he had ever met that he could be his TRUE SELF with. Their love was written in the cosmos.

    Jim, please trust that there is nothing that you can do to “save” your wife. Your “saving” is not what she is looking for. She is who she is. The one who needs saving is YOU. For every hour that you give away of yourself to try to turn her, you are depleting your own reserves needed to re-build you. For every thought you waste trying to figure her out, you are depriving yourself the attention you need to emotionally detach from her and heal you.

    Crazy Rich Asians has a fantastic line: “It was never my job to make you feel like a man. I can’t make you something that you’re not.”

    Jim – It’s not your job to try to make your wife something that she’s not. When a person is interested in bettering themselves, they will seek out the means themselves. It is on them. Listen to CL that your wife’s problem not an issue of lacking insight, it’s about lacking character (and morals, principles, ethics, morals). Her character has been years in the making and had nothing to do with you. You cannot undo that yourself.

    But you can do you. Reflect. Heal. Become stronger. Surround yourself with good people. Be a great role model to your children. Go live a most excellent life.

    • You can control when the exit happens and that is in your best interest. Exit NOW. Otherwise there will be more men, more time for her to take money, line up her ducks etc. You are in control of your future.

    • @Optionnomore – I could’ve written this, except I didn’t do the therapy weekend but did do marriage counseling. And it never ceases to amaze me how many times on this site I’ve typed or thought “I could’ve written this”. I wish all cheaters a lifetime of a body full of papercuts followed with a shower of hand sanitizer.

    • ONM,

      Wow, I love how you’re such a good person that you went the extra miles to try and save your marriage. What is it with cheaters blaming us for being “controlling” and then magically finding that one person who doesn’t control or judge them?? I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and I kind of know the answer in my case. The OW or marriage meddler, was very young, desperate, lonely, bisexual (no judgement) and without boundaries. Unfortunately, my husband left his email account open on one of our computers so I got to see some emails from her. It was horrible, but on reflection, some if it makes sense about how she managed to meddle.

      First, she was completely free and open for him. She has no children, not a big career, no friends or family. So, she was available 100% of the time for my husband whenever he wanted her. She offered him money. Yes, she said she would pay for him to fly to LA to see some friends so that I didn’t see the money leaving our account. She offered to cook for him naked every night. All of her emails said that my husband was the perfect man, and how she was so lucky to have him. She said he was hot, handsome, powerful and simply the best person in the world. She would send photos of herself in various haircuts and ask which way he wanted her to have her hair done. She would send photos of herself in various new outfits and ask which thing he wanted her to wear. She offered helpful tips on how to manage his life better. She talked about how he should get more exercise and eat better. She was there to help him in every, single way.

      In contrast to me, I had demands on him. He was a shitty husband. More like a bad roommate. If and when I was lucky enough to get him to take out the trash, he used to open up the bathroom window and strategically throw it into the bin – he couldn’t be bothered walking outside to do it. He was never home, he didn’t help raise our daughter – I did all the school and extracurricular management. I was helping to run our business, I held our social life together, I managed the domestic life, cooked, etc, etc. etc. I asked him all the time to take me out, but he was too tired and stressed. I organised family trips, and they pretty much sucked because he was always on his phone, checked out, blah, blah blah. Our marriage and love life was completely neglected by him.

      I am a grown ass woman with responsibilities. She, on the other hand, just created a world where she had no demands on him, was available for fun and sex all the time, and he could literally dress her up like a doll and do whatever he wanted. How on earth was I going to compete with that?

      That’s why they think we’re controlling bitches and why someone else “understands them” so much better than we did. In some cases, the OW or OM are seriously strategic marriage meddlers and that world they create will trump the real world of marriage and adult responsibilities every time for these character disordered cheaters. I hope it was worth the collateral damage he left behind.

      • It wouldn’t have mattered if she did those things or not. The draw is simply that they are not the old ball and chain but are shiny and new. They can be the biggest asshole, be cruel to the cheater, but the cheater will not even see it. My cheater’s whore didn’t do shit for him. She used him, was selfish, demanding, fucked other guys, was a pathetic drunk, and she took, took, took while I gave, gave gave, and he still declared repeatedly that she treated him better than I did. They are delusional and trying desperately to rationalize their stupid and vicious choices. “Controlling” is just the usual cheaterspeak drivel meaning you are not somebody they want to chase and they are looking to justify a cruel rejection. The AP can be truly controlling and they will love it- until they leave you for the AP. Then she/he becomes the old ball and chain and they cheat again. They’ll do this over and over because they are deeply disordered and have no ability to bond.
        So don’t compare yourself to the AP. She could have been anyone and done anything and he’d still have preferred her.

  • Jim, so sorry but there is no way your wife is going to have a an epiphany or “come to Jesus” moment. She has cheated numerous times and also cheated you financially. She has absolutely no respect for you, the marriage or your family. If you give her CL’s book, it will make her respect you even less, if that is possible. It will look like an act of desperation on your part. Call a lawyer and make a plan.

  • You are obviously in a hopium addiction looking for a magic fix. There isn’t one.

    All you are accomplishing is keeping yourself in limbo.

    Wake up to reality or stay where you’ve put yourself.

    • Yes, it’s the hopium. I was addicted for a long time (guess how long – see my user name). I highlighted books and printed articles – what a waste of time.

      Marc878, you are exactly right about how this just kept me in limbo. My ex pretended to care but when D-Day #2 came I finally got it: my pain didn’t bother him in the least and he was going to continue lying and cheating. (Which he did with the various dates he went on via multiple online dating sites even before he moved out – they thought they were special but he’d spend the night with one then go to the home of another for “afternoon delight” just a few hours after leaving the nighttime date!)

  • In the early days I made the mistake of sharing posts from this blog with my cheater. Cheater only used them as ammunition to further manipulate, gaslight, and abuse me. Don’t bother.

    Cheaters refuse accountability and attack when faced with it. Save yourself the additional abuse and mindfucks.

  • Jim,
    I spent 2 years trying to explain to my x so he could take responsibility, show remorse, show empathy and make amends. Those were not good years and I wish I had done it differently. People like you wife and my x will never, NEVER, EVER truly understand. They are not capable. They are frauds. Please don’t waste any more of your time and energy and health (your health can be destroyed by this kind of stress).
    Focus hard on your new life. That’s the goal. Finding peace in your new life.

  • Jim, stop. This isn’t a viable strategy, for all the reasons CL and other posters have given you. Start changing your mindset right now. She is not your partner or your friend. She is the enemy. You have to lose the chumpy notion that you can fix her. Even if you could, she doesn’t want to be fixed. She doesn’t think she’s doing anything wrong. She thinks you deserve to be mistreated.
    So, you must become ruthless and plot to get out of this with your assets intact. Like others have said, have a consultation with the best divorce lawyers in your area so she can’t hire any of them. Get proof of her infidelity. Pretend you want to reconcile. Tell her something like you need to have a full accounting of the whole truth about all her affairs in order to get past the hurt and reinvigorate your marriage. That you need to be able to trust her, and a confession will demonstrate that she is trustworthy. Get it in writing, or if she will only do it verbally, secretly record it. Email is okay, but a signed confession is even better. If she sees through it and won’t bite, hire a PI to get proof and any other dirt on her you can use. You should hire a PI in any case, because take it for granted she won’t tell you everything she’s been up to. Your goal is to keep the house, the savings, and not have to pay her support. The dirt you have on her is your leverage to get her to agree. You must be prepared to make her dirty secrets public if she won’t agree to your terms. She must know you mean it, that there is a new sheriff in town and his name is Jim. If you can’t bring yourself to do that, at least divorce her. She is not going to change, Jim. Everyone here at CN can guarantee you that. Best of luck and do let us know how it turns out.

  • Hi Jim,

    My take on your situation is that you’re trying really hard to get empathy from her. But there’s no cheese down that road. During the horrible DDay week where I got the rolling confessions of the hideous cheating and lying, I literally got on my knees and begged my husband to care about the devastation I was feeling. I managed to squeak out, “You haven’t even once told me that you’re sorry.” And guess what he said? “Sorry you feel this way.” When I cried because I was horrified that the AirBnB charges that were on our credit card were NOT for the trip my husband promised for our 25th wedding anniversary, the AirBnB was actually for one of his trysts, through my sobs I repeated over and over, “You hurt me, you hurt me, you hurt me.” And you know what he said? “Yeah, that must’ve been hard to see that and think it was for you.”

    So, the conclusion here is Jim – they don’t give a shit. You have more dignity than I had – you want to simply hand over a book for her to read. I cried and begged for a shred of decency. I got none. Zip. Nada. Never. After 26 years together, thinking that I was the beloved wife, he treated me with extreme cruelty. But hey! He got to leave for his new girlfriend, so all good.

    Jim, you deserve so much better. She’s made her decision to be unfaithful. If you want to stay and just have her be entitled and do whatever she wants, then that’s okay if you’re up for sticking around. But she doesn’t have any empathy for you and she’s not going to develop it over night. My fear is that she’s just out there “monkey branching” and she’ll hop if she finds someone else – that’s kind of what mine finally did.

    Big hugs and I hope you feel like you’re getting some support here…even if it feels like the harsh reality.

    • Join me in the “literally on my knees” group. After a bombshell out-of-the-blue abandonment I begged, down on my porcelain kitchen tile, for him to consider going to counseling with me just for the summer and if he found he still didn’t want our marriage by the fall then I would accept the divorce without a fight. Since his abandonment e-mail was the first mention that he was leaving I figured we had a few things to discuss before he destroyed our family- just 6 weeks earlier he had declared he wanted to be with me the rest of his life as we floated around a pool at a PHX resort, looking for a retirement home. I was shocked to hell and I begged for a short time to work on it or come to terms with it.

      He smirked. He said no.

      I will never, ever forget that smirk and it is the #1 reason that I refuse to be his advocate now that he wishes to restore a relationship with his adult daughters. I will NEVER be the go-between apologist in charge of convincing my girls that their dad was just screwed up for a while but is fine now and we should all play “uncoupled happy family” for his benefit. Oh bitter, vindictive me.

      I saw the pure, evil glee in his eyes as he bashed me down when I was already as low as I could be. I will never forgive it.

      I hope he dies miserable and alone. Soon.

      Nope, not at meh I guess.

      • I’m not at meh either. See my post above about what I was competing with…I will forever be viewed as the controlling wife who didn’t meet his needs. They are so cruel and shitty. Sorry that we’ve had to share this horrible begging experience.

        • Exactly, much like Beth’s letter of a couple days ago we can’t compete with the Whores Who Demand Nothing and are Just So Free and Open.

          What a worthless life they are choosing.

          • Yep.

            My ex just recently died. From all I know from my son and his wife, he pretty much chased his own happiness the rest of his life after our divorce.

            He married the whore, she immediately quit her job at age 35 to his 40. He retired early, gambled himself into bankruptcy with over 250 thousand dollars in debt. Blew up his relationship with our son, mostly because our son would not subsidize his lifestyle. A year before he died, he was in really bad health, he bought an RV, I mean a big ass rich man RV, on credit.

            My son tried to talk him out of it, but he wasn’t going to listen. Son said how are you going to pay for it, he said “I don’t care, I will be dead”

            Died, left his wife in horrible debt with very little retirement money coming in.

            And you know what, he likely enjoyed most of his life because he always did whatever the hell he wanted to do, regardless of how it affected anyone else. Schmoopies error in judgment was that she though he would be different with her.

            When these guys go to the dark side, or admit to the dark side…

          • Yep, I couldn’t compete with that, nor do I want to. I have a life and a child and I’m a grown up. Fuck them.

        • f/k/a: I always love what you write. You are very different from that woman because you choose to be. You could stoop to her level if you were a lesser person, but she isn’t capable of being like you. I could see through girls like that in high school. I can’t imagine you want to be like her or be friends with her, nor would you be attracted to a man like that.

          Do you care what your ex thinks? He sounds like a fool with terrible judgement, and you know that what he “thinks” and “feels” is as solid as jello – not to mention, irrelevant. What do the people you respect, who love and know you, think? No one worthwhile will see you as the controlling wife who didn’t meet his needs. That’s not you.

      • Yep. I got the smirk, too. He also seemed positively orgasmic while telling me about the OW, how they fell in love, how she got wet, where they had sex in our house. I was in shock.


        He’s not getting anything from me. Never.

        This is the same man who wants to meet with our adult kids and tell HIS side of the story. WTF?

        • Yours and mine were so much alike Spinach.

          He tried to tell me about his and the whores “first time”

          sadistic bastard as well.

          It is ok, I got the last laugh, he got stuck living in squalor with that troll whore, and even worse she got stuck with him. I couldn’t have planned any better revenge, if I had tried.

      • I don’t think you should get in the middle of their relationship. Meh or not. He broke it, he should figure out how to fix it. If he doesn’t it doesn’t mean that much to him. He fired you as his impression manager.

        My ex continued throughout the rest of his selfish life to shit all over anything in his life of value including our son and sons wife.

        It is like CL says they don’t have character transplants; they are who they are. If that didn’t work out great for them they only have themselves to blame.

        I still remember the smirk when I asked him why he was being so nasty. He smirked and said “work pressure”. My ex lived a double life for at least six years maybe longer. Just flat out used me for his own convenience. Discarded me for what I assume he thought was going to be a brilliant new exciting life. Lol.

        • Big sigh. I can’t help but think that Jim, thinks his sitch is “different”. ( we all did at one time. Big mistake!)

          Things that will never happen?: His cheater will “see!” She will be special and understand the horrors of her cheating! She will grovel for forgiveness and see the errors of her ways.

          (Ain’t EVER gonna happen!)

          Again, class? Yea that is NEVER going to happen.

          She is just an ordinary POS. Cheater.

          So the question Jim is, are you going to accept that you are just being used for your wallet and husband appliance skills or are you going to hold firm to that boundary and gain a life you deserve?

          I’m cheering for you Jim (and any new lurkers!)

          Life is so much better when you LACGAL.

          Last, I implore you: Pay special attention to CL. and lovedaJackass. This life is precious. Why waste another day being crapped on?

      • “Join me in the “literally on my knees” group.”

        Me too. Not my proudest moment.

  • I remember the exact moment that it dawned on me that I was never gonna be able to impress my dad, no matter what I did, or who I became. My parents came to my piano recitals, and told me I was the best of the best, but I still felt less than. Not sure why.

    But since that time, yes! I’ve wanted to show my boyfriends or my husband some things that I’d learned! So they could understand my pain. But then that moment would come into my mind, and I’d think, it’s not worth the try. The try would take so much out of me! And there’d be the disappointment. And I didn’t want to go through that. And I believed that something in them wouldn’t allow them to see their dark sides, so I just let it be.

    I love that song, “Let it Be.”

  • Jim,

    All of your consideration now should be for yourself and your kids. Even though they’re grown, it’s gonna be very tough, especially when they realize that you stayed in this toxic relationship for their sakes. That’s a whole different can of worms though, and a good reason for why waiting till the kids are gone is not a great idea. Ask me how many of my friends’ parents split just after they left home and how much it screwed them up for years.

    In any event, work on getting yourself to a better place and helping your kids through the coming months and years. Knowing the entire time that your ex will likely try to turn your grown kids against you. So, get out in front of that story, be the one to talk to your kids first about all of this, be the safe sane and stable shoulder to cry on. Be understanding and empathetic. Be there for them and don’t badmouth heir mom, but be honest. Show them what recovery and thriving looks like. Show them strength and resolve.

    Do THAT work…but don’t ever bother with trying to help your ex again. Get out of that toxic relationship and work on ensuring your children don’t fall any more prey to her behavior than they already have. Because, when you’re gone, she’ll need to turn her toxicity somewhere, and your kids are the perfect spot. Ask me how I know. So, fortify them and be the parent they need.

  • Tracy, im not sure if you read the comments on your post but since I see Borderline brought up sometimes in the context of cheating, I really wanted to let you know that I wish chumps would realize having Borderline Personality is a weak excuse and don’t fall for it. People with Borderline personality struggle with understanding that others care to the point we can be toxic- I won’t lie. It’s something I’ve been trying to get a handle on for years… However, we are also often borderline due to previously being victimized by people such as cheaters. Anyone who uses BPD as a get out of jail free card has more than just borderline- they’re an asshole. People with BPD fear abandonment- so trust me when I say, if a person with bpd isn’t empathizing with your pain, it is that they CAN empathize just simply do not care- much like your insight quote.
    Most BPD supporter groups i am a part of agree— being cheated on is absolutely devastating and more often than not we suffer from a broken picker as well. Whenever a cheater comes to chime in about how “ohhh- I’ve cheated on every relationship you guys are sooo judgmental 🙁 dont slut-shame ;)” they get torn a new one. And then sometimes we even find out they’re actually comorbid with NPD… though still not an excuse.
    Anyway sorry for the giant essay- it just makes me angry when people use this excuse.
    Ps- to the op- please re read the book! One of the rookie mistakes is to show a cheater your hand and think they are your ally. I was guilty of this.

  • There are so many reasons why I love this community! Whenever a new column is posted, and I read through each and every one of the responses, I feel as if I’m part of a well-connected tribe of warriors who’ve been through not just a fire, but a conflagration, and are still alive to tell the tale.

    When XH of 40 years left me for Married Howorker, I was overwhelmed with shock, panic, desperation, and loneliness. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, could barely get out of bed to go to work. I cried all day and all night. My mind was running 100 mph, trying to understand “the why” (aka “the skein of fuckedupness”), grasping at anything that held the promise of being able to explain what the hell was going on. XH certainly didn’t aid in clarifying things, and defaulted to classic cheaterspeak phrases like, “I need time and space“, and “Of course there’s no other woman“. Led to believe reconciliation was possible, I was willing to do literally anything to save our marriage, still unaware of the depth of the darkness living inside my husband (serial cheating since our first date in college).

    So, I sadly made every mistake in the book… Pick Me danced. Watched Ted Talks. Met him for “debriefing dates” after marriage counseling. Wrote him letters expressing my feelings. Read every book/blog/article available, and then tried to share the “wisdom“ to illustrate how much he’d hurt me. I was so clueless, I didn’t get that he already knew how much he’d hurt me but he simply didn’t care… that the pain he’d inflicted was intentional and targeted… that he’d used me for my entire adult life and had no remorse, regret or guilt about it. Oy, when I think about it now, I shake my head and cringe.

    But my biggest mistake of all was not understanding that I had agency. I’d been so devalued, so emotionally beaten down, so homogenized, I didn’t realize I could stand up for myself and say, “Fuck you“. I hadn’t yet discovered Chump Lady or this mighty Nation, and had never heard of gaslighting, triangulation, projection, or ILYBINILWY. I didn’t see that my best option would be to stop the desperate (and embarrassing) groveling, hire an attorney, design a battle plan, and kick some ass of my own.

    Thankfully, 6 months into that hellish experience, XH announced that he was done with counseling and wanted a divorce. In that moment, clarity smacked me on the head, I had an instantaneous paradigm shift, and whoosh, I went into high gear. I secretly met with an attorney the very next morning to quietly get my legal ducks in a row (NEVER tip your hand). By the end of the week, I’d put the marital home on the market, collected all necessary legal, tax and financial documents, revoked him as an authorized signer on my credit cards, removed him as an officer of my small business and deleted him from my company’s cell phone plan, set up a separate bank account, separated our car insurance, changed my life insurance beneficiaries (had to wait for divorce decree to change retirement accounts), and took back the reins of our still-joint personal finances. I think he was shocked at how quickly the tide had turned and he didn’t quite know what his next move would be; it took him another 5 months to hire an attorney! Pffft, if only I’d been that decisive immediately following D-Day, I would’ve been in a much better mental and emotional place, but as Maya Angelou famously said, “When you know better, you do better“.

    As a Christian, I believe in marriage and do not advocate for divorce if another solution is possible. Personally, I married for life. As an adult child of divorced parents, I never wanted to repeat that experience in my own marriage, or do to my children what my parents’ divorce did to me. But I wasn’t given a choice; I was dealt those cards by someone else with a far different moral code and agenda. Even though I never expected my marriage to implode, I sure wish I’d been given some education about what I could do IF it should ever happen. I look back and see just how many foolish mistakes I made and how easily they could’ve been avoided if only I’d known there was another path. I had to figure it all out on my own through trial and error (mostly error) — all in a terribly heightened state of emotional distress — until I finally got into the right groove and become my own best advocate. When I hear of yet another unsuspecting person being chumped, it breaks my heart; I pray they’re able to exit “the fog“ much more quickly than I did, become their own best advocate, and move forward in peace.

  • “Met him for ‘debriefing dates’ after marriage counseling.”

    Ha! Same… never realized this was a thing. Of course it is. I remember one in particular where I felt like an emotional hostage. It was always heartbreaking and humiliating, and it’s even more revolting now that I know what FW was up to as soon as these “dates” were over. I’d almost forgotten about this Pick Me sequence amid the pile of shit from that time.

    Red Shoes, the climax of your story gave me the chills. You’re a hero!

  • Oh, dear Jim,

    I hope you are ready to her or read this:
    your wife is very well aware of her behaviour.
    Unfortunately, you still have to reach that place where you’ll be aware that there are people different than you. Different in the way darkness and light are different, good and bad.
    She knows what she’s doing, she takes joy in that (it’s sickening, I know). That’s how low life is doing: stomping on others, cheating and deceiving, playing with other people’s emotions and pushing towards mental: calling other people crazy. I suspect this is their end goal: stripping other people of their sense of normal.
    I know it is shocking. I know these revelations take time to sink in and change your way of thinking, trusting again. Take your time. But do cross over. The sooner you make this shift, the better.
    Please take care of yourself.

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