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How Do You Confront a Cheater?

How_to_leave_a_cheaterDear Chump Lady,

When you discover cheating, how do you break the news?

I’m a strong person. I help domestic violence victims, I have an answer for everything. I don’t know left from right today.

Today I’m rereading emails my other half sent to a woman he believed was a Craigslist honey wanting to get naughty with him. ( I made an email address and messaged the Craigslist ad I suspected was him and low and behold….)

I took the opportunity to gently quiz him about his past with Craigslist, so “I know what to expect when we meet and am waiting to hear back what his sexual limits for the meeting will be” and he described other sexual adventures he ran off on while I was sitting at home 2 years ago pregnant and thinking I had this great future ahead of me with him.

The above mentioned time period is where I used to reflect back, to remind myself that he once loved me when I don’t understand why he’s indifferent and withdrawn. He’s withdrawn because he’s focused on porking pigs.

I am braced for the retaliation and epic smear campaign that is going to happen when I approach him. I’m just not sure how to break the newsflash to him.

Thank you for all your writings. They have helped me wrap my brain around this situation and lace up my F.U. combat boots.

Jenn

Dear Jenn,

Oh hey, why don’t you “break the news” to him in the kind, gentle way in which he broke it to you?

Sucker punch him.

Line up your ducks and see a lawyer, so you can hit him hard and fast on your way out the door. Unfortunately, that means being a very good actress for a little while.

The first thing you must do is disabuse yourself of the notion that you’re going to have a nice chat about his Craigslist adventures, and he’ll see sense and recommit to his marriage and family. That’s not going to happen. (And on the very small chance you could have a unicorn, it’s not going to happen without severe consequences.)  Start lining up the consequences and PROTECT YOURSELF.

You already seem to know what you’re dealing with if you think he’ll react with a “smear campaign.” All the more reason to prepare carefully.

Here’s a refresher course on How To Leave a Cheater. (Also, shameless plug for my book — the first chapter is on rookie mistakes and how to avoid them.)

A) Don’t confront him. He will just take his affairs underground. He’s demonstrated how deceptive he is. All the Reconciliation Industrial Complex advice aside, having an “honest conversation” about his extracurriculars, “Hey honey, tell me how your needs for stranger sex weren’t being met…” — is setting yourself up for MORE manipulation.

Manipulation has been his strategy all along. Why would he change tactics now when so much is at stake? His goal has been cake — his affairs and his chump. He will cycle through the three channels — rage, self-pity, and charm — to keep you in your place.

B) Know your deal-breakers and grieve later. Don’t get caught up in who you thought he was, or who he could be — deal with WHO HE IS — a man who is brazenly cheating on you, and risking your health. (And who risked your health while you were pregnant.) It’s normal that you’ll still feel some love for him and raw emotion that your family life, as you thought it was, has died. Don’t let those feelings paralyze you or get in the way of you protecting yourself. It’s time to be a field marshall. You can fall apart later, in safety.

C) Get your finances in order. While you’re lining things up, make copies of all your financial documents. Run a credit report. Figure out your debts and your income. Do some sleuthing if you suspect he’s been siphoning off funds for his double life. Sadly, financial abuse often goes hand in hand with infidelity. These are monies you can ask for back in a divorce. Check out Vickie Adam’s blog My Divorce Financial Planner for more guidance.

D) Get a support network. You are dealing with a monumental shock and you need all kinds of support now. Get some IRL support — your own therapist to help you enforce your boundaries (not a marriage counselor), a trusted friend or family member(s), a church community, if you’re religious — it’s okay to lean on others now. That’s how you get through crises. Do NOT, however, lean on your husband. You will fight an overwhelming urge to seek comfort from the person who hurt you — resist those feelings. They make you vulnerable to more manipulation, the consequences of which could be very costly.

E) Get STD testing. Cheaters live in a magical reality. Don’t trust a cheater to have safe sex.

F) Be the Sane Parent. When the going gets tough, focus on being strong for your kid(s) right now. Model self respect and resiliency to them. Don’t model codependent chumpdom. Their dad is checked out of family life — you can’t afford to be. They need you to have your wits about you.

Jenn, I’m sure Chump Nation will weigh in with more suggestions. But, for now, I hope these help you lace up those Fuck You boots and march forward into a new, cheater-free life. ((Big HUGS))

Happy Memorial Day weekend, CN! Your Friday Challenge is to share your best exit strategy advice. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I did a lot of things wrong about leaving the EX, including confronting him, trying to reconcile, believing him when he told me it was “just once” (well, I didn’t really believe him, but I tried for a while).

    When I was finally done though, I think I did one thing quite well: I played nice until I got what I wanted, and only drew lines once I had the situation I wanted. I wanted to be far away from him and his flying monkeys, so I managed to talk him into a separation in which I moved several states away with the kids. He was sure it was just temporary and that I would be back once I reflected on how hard it was to live without him.

    He even drove the moving van there do drop off my stuff. I let him chatter on about how he’d come hang out with us for the next holiday, etc. Then as soon as I had the situation I wanted, I blocked him and filed for divorce.

    He had no way to make me return then. When he tried to say that I took off with the kids, I just pulled out the pictures of him loading the moving van. He knew I was leaving; he drove the van. There was no way for him to make me come live near him anymore. And no, I did not spend the next holiday (or any holidays) with him.

    He has raged that I lied to him ever since. I don’t care. He lied to me for 25 years.

    • Wow – that’s awesome! I wish I had thought to get FW to let me move away from him. I wanted to move away so badly.

      Although it oddly worked out… I ended up moving into a place just a mile from OW (he moved in with her) so that he could never say I was keeping him from his kid. That made him nuts! ????

    • Carol, I did something similar. I gave him the impression that I couldn’t be married to a cheater, I could be his main girlfriend, I could be his best friend, but the cheating was too much. Perhaps after the divorce we could date? He let me know that would suit him, but I should know I would have to make all the effort. At our divorce proceedings, he leaned over and said ‘do we really need to do this?’ I acted like I was thinking about it, and I replied ‘I think this would be the best thing for our relationship going forward’. I felt like I tricked him into giving me a fair divorce. We had no kids, because he got a vasectomy behind my back early in our marriage. We had emotional, physical and sexual abuse in addition to the sexual betrayals. He may be Captain Hollywood, or the Grey Fox, but to me he’s just a pos ex-husband I escaped from. btw, never dated.

    • Don’t you love how indignant they get when they think they are lied to?

      And you didn’t lie to him, you asked for a separation and he agreed to it.

      • Yes! It is amazing to me how he screamed, “You LIED to me!” so shocked…. when he lied to me about everything over and over for years and years. And technically, I didn’t even lie to him. I never told him I was coming back or that he could still have sex with me or anything else he assumed. He just started telling me how it would be (like he always did our whole marriage), and he assumed that I would jump right on board. He never asked me whether I planned to do that at all.

        • ????

          Yep, I could just hear my fw telling his lawyer and the whore. Don’t worry, she will agree to use the same lawyer, I got this.

          Wrong ass wipe.

        • What never ceases to amaze me is that the cheaters count on everyone ELSE, especially the Chumps, being honest and straightforward and super reasonable. They are so mad when they think they’ve been even the tiniest bit misled, or when the natural consequences of their actions fall on them.

          My Ex actually expressed contempt when I tried to explain how his relationships with the kids (never mind me, his FOO, even Shmoopie) had been damaged by his deceptions. We are all clearly just narrow-minded people trapped in convention! (I know, I know, trying to explain basic ethics and relationship skills to an adult is already a sign that ANY conversation with them is absolutely pointless….)

          But he totally counted on my being honest and fair. Which I totally was! He still hated the consequences and still blames me for them.

          Mind boggling.

          • Fair to a cheater means they control the outcome, and we shut up and take it up the rear.

            I left it to my lawyer and the judge to determine fair under the law of the state of Indiana.

          • Mine complained one of his whores wasn’t very nice and he couldn’t trust her but he could trust me, his jaw dropped when I said I obviously don’t trust him.

            Clearly he thought highly of himself.

            • Virtually all cheaters and liars strongly dislike the taste of their own medicine. They have no problems forcing this medicine down our throats, but when it comes to them receiving a good dose, they bulk and act incredibly offended. They are like criminals who also think they are above the law. There is always an element of narcissism involved — whether it’s genuine Narcissistic Personality Disorder or affair-driven narcissism — they truly believe that the normal rules and standards of behaviour don’t apply to them.

            • The ex once said about a his current infatuation/ affair that she was the only female he ever trusted to ME. I’m pretty sure they also share a child as well.

              • I saw him after parent mediation and he sneered he never trusted me as he tried to hold my hand.

              • “What never ceases to amaze me is that the cheaters count on everyone ELSE, especially the Chumps, being honest and straightforward and super reasonable. They are so mad when they think they’ve been even the tiniest bit misled, or when the natural consequences of their actions fall on them”

                Omigosh, is this ever true. After several affairs and lots of gaslighting and lying, I finally hacked into his social media account and found the proof that he was seeing is final mistress (he married this one).

                He was furious. Furious. Absolutely furious that I violated his privacy like that. Ain’t that a kick in the teeth?

                Yet, he also let me set the stage for divorce and be in charge of drafting up the paperwork because, as he told me during one of our last sit downs together (so I could run him page by page through the divorce document my lawyer wrote; I absolutely wanted to make sure he understood what he was signing), “I’m sure this document is fair because I know you’re fair and would never try to screw me over.”

                He was right, of course, (the divorce document clearly favored me but was fair to him as well; I still loved him at the time and had no interest in “taking him to the cleaners”) but DANG… are cheaters even capable of looking at themselves critically? What do they see when they look in the mirror? A full head of hair, rippling muscles, and a lifetime of objectively good decision making? It’s the weirdest kind of self perception and there’s no way anyone can swap out their circus fun house mirrors for real ones.

                I take these thoughts and hold them against my own self perception carefully. It’s a stark reminder to never let that happen to me. Let all my mirrors be real ones. If I’ve behaved badly, I’d like to know and recognize that within myself so I can work on becoming better. Let me never, ever, ever become a fuckwit.

    • “He had no way to make me return then. When he tried to say that I took off with the kids, I just pulled out the pictures of him loading the moving van. He knew I was leaving; he drove the van. There was no way for him to make me come live near him anymore. And no, I did not spend the next holiday (or any holidays) with him.”

      I am in awe and want to grow up to be half as bad-assed as you!

    • Documenting the moving van driver in all his vain enthusiasm! What a great decision! I know he would describe it as a ploy, but it wasn’t–he wanted you to move away so you would recognize his worth and regret his absence. It didn’t work out that way, but that isn’t your fault.

  • Immediate thought:

    “Today I’m rereading emails my other half ”

    He is NOT your half!

    YOU are a whole person.
    YOU are strong, tough and ENOUGH.

    Don’t lose sight of your strength moving forward. Your starting point is looking in the mirror and making sure that thought is deeply etched in your heart and mind.

    • Rebecca, that jumped out at me too. I think that expression derives from “my better half,” which applies to no cheater ever! Plus there’s that implication that two people are necessary to make up a whole. Like you said, she is ENOUGH.

  • My biggest regret about this whole shit sandwich is not filing for divorce right away. The act of cheating tells you everything you need to know about their relationship skills, their character, and what they think about you and your marriage. Confronting them won’t matter because they just don’t care. Which is why they cheated in the first place.

    • Chumparoona!
      GOLD, every word you said, GOLD!

      The not wishing I had confronted him, also! I just did everything automatic, at that moment of shock, disbelief! Surely there had to be a reasonable reason ( to find so many condoms ion the bottom of his travel work bag).
      The remaining sentences in your post tell it all, the why they cheated in the first place!
      “they just don’t care”

      Newbies, don’t confront them, walk away, do what CL and this site tells you!

  • I have no strategy whatsoever. I just fired on all cylinders with rage when I found the bra in his luggage when he came back from a 2 week “working out of town” episode. Zero to 100 I exploded on him.

    So strategies? I’m not sure I could have taken a breath at that point. I just acted on fight or flight. Looking back There were hints during that 2 week period that seemed to point in the direction of more than a work relationship with the woman that owned the condo he went to remodel. He had finished remodeling her house and now a year later her condo at the beach, which necessitated several 2 week trips to the beach.

    • Unfortunately for me I froze. My brain denied he would cheat on me for so long then hearing him smirk and reminisce about his encounters literally made me stay still in my chair. After weeks of hearing how “ he needed time for himself” “ we felt like roommates“ my brain snapped out of it and went directly to a lawyer. I put away the box of hurt and love and fear until the day I walked out alone from the divorce. Ironically It finally hit me then. No one knows how it feels until it has happened to you. It was soul crushing and also freeing to stand up and take care of yourself ! Xo hugs Sweet

  • Best piece of advice I can offer is to take the same advice you’d give the domestic violence victims you counsel. CL summarizes the particular steps nicely and they all point to the same overall theme: you don’t owe this person anything, except fit and equitable treatment when it comes any children you made together.

    In all other matters, it’s “what’s right for Jenn” from now on.

    (And I must say, your Craiglist anecdote is just screaming for me to create a parody to “The Pina Colada Song” — “If you like trolling on Graigslist, and getting fucked in the ass . . .” — but it’s Friday and I don’t have the mental strength. 🙁 )

  • I never confronted him. He would’ve never admit it if I had. I hired a PI and had solid proof of adultery for a fault divorce. I kept my shit together, got my ducks in a row and went to go “visit” my parents. Hardest thing ever as I was breaking on the inside. I had the PI serve him in front of the other woman while I was at my parents. It said everything without me having to say a word.

    • Bek that’s the right cross throat punch divorce delivery Tracy mentioned. I’d of loved to see both their expressions.
      The “I know Everything” message.
      Having irrefutable evidence is taking our power right back. I found that my x thought trading her premarital property for her image management was a deal!!
      Truly broken characters

    • Everyone knew about my x husband and Miss Piggy. Students, Faculty, Church Members, His Family.

      The kids and I knew because we lived the shit show that was a lurv that could not be denied.

      He would never admit it to anyone. Dated the MOW for 8 years. And other various holes.

      Denied her even after her divorce. Until she came into a fair chunk of change$$ – then he immediately stuck a ring on her little piggy finger and married her. Until that point “she was just a friend and coworker “.

      A month before the wedding – her sons saw and incoming text to her in the car while she ran into a store. They forwarded it to my kids, who of course sent it to me.

      It was a happy 8 year Anniversary text full of mushy crap.

      So, my point is-don’t ever expect to be told the truth. These fuckers get off on the deceit. If their lips are moving – they are lying from their lying lie hole!

    • I was in the same circumstances but veered off the best path for a bit. I also hired a PI on the wise advice of a lawyer friend before D-Day, got the rock-solid, full color, damning evidence. But then a whistleblower from FW’s work came forward, motivated by office buzz that the AP was trying to surreptitiously get pregnant, so I decided to confront FW directly. I thought my kids needed a half-sibling with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome like they needed holes in their heads.

      My attorney preferred the blindsiding route (the PI was enthusiastic about serving the papers at the AP’s address). My attorney was on the fence about confrontation but understood the stakes. Of course, I underestimated how shattered I was and got sucked back in for a few months of awful RIC therapy and witnessing FW’s cyclical werewolf transformations in and out of denial and DARVO. FW’s are the only ones who know exactly where you’re bleeding because they inflicted the wounds. It’s a trap.

      It turned out later that the AP had PCOS and had little chance of accidentally-on-purpose getting pregnant, so my rush to confront wasn’t necessary. But there were some pluses. FW dumped the AP with a really blistering email which was just good fun under the circumstances. Then the “full disclosure” part of RIC or so-called sex addiction therapy can also provide years of comedy fodder, acts as more damning evidence, and tends to demythologize dogshit affairs for what they are. I think the latter shortened the usual time spent wondering why I “wasn’t enough.” I “wasn’t enough” of an alcoholic who reenacted campy, icky, demeaning porn. I don’t rawdog office superiors in parking lots. Oh well. I’m so inadequate.

      Most importantly, FW disclosed the investments and assets he’d tried to hide in order to pay off affair debt from the secret “affair credit card.” He also wrote odes to my wonderful parenting and irreproachability as wife, mother and citizen. I think that shortened the settlement negotiations and saved on things like forensic accountants.

      I still wish I could have cold-bloodedly planned all the above without getting my emotions involved. But I can’t regret not being a cyborg and it worked out. However we get there, the important thing is to get there.

  • The first time I contacted my counsel, I only suspected my STBX of cheating. I was given a list of things to do before I filed, and I slowly began checking them off my list—removing his name from my credit cards, paying down debt, rewriting my will, life beneficiaries. I photographed every stick of furniture, assert, anything I thought we’d squabble over. I copied or scanned every piece of paper in the house. I rented storage and moved everything out that he wouldn’t miss. At month #8, I confronted him over his phone records—all I got was the reverse, “You’ve invaded my privacy.” When I found an attorney’s number on his phone records on Month #10, I called my firm and said, “It’s time.” I was given the final instruction to take exactly half the balance of the joint account and open my own account on my way to counsel’s office. I paid my fee and had him served in front of his boss. He never saw it coming.

    Once the shock wore off, he tried the “let’s be civil about this, I want you in my life, I just can’t be married to you” line of garbage. I don’t think so. Now I’m Public Enemy #1, and I wear the badge with a smile.

    • You did amazing.

      ““let’s be civil about this,”

      Yes, by all means now that he is exposed, lets be civil. They walk all over us, destroy us, then “lets be civil”

      My ex said “Lets not make this any harder than it needs to be” Fuck them and the whores they rode in on.

      • …the whores they rode in on…that’s a beauty

        I told asshat I’d be as civil as he was honest. LOL.
        I had him served in the work parking lot as he was playing tonsil hockey with married coworker. Server got a pic. I forwarded to her hubby.

        I had it all lined up. He pushed the dominoes the afternoon he got arrested for a DUI with whore texts on his phone, which I got because…he had been arrested.

        Civil. Sure. See you in civil court, assfuck.

  • Gently ? EGADS.

    “”Line up your ducks and see a lawyer, so you can hit him hard and fast on your way out the door. Unfortunately, that means being a very good actress for a little while.””

    Fully agree with the above. Keep your cards close to your chest don’t let him know anything until you’re ready to lay it out there.

    • I do wish I could have done this but when I checked his phone in front of him and found the hidden messages (he never thought I was capable of finding) I could not pretend. I had already swept a previous incident as a mid life crisis and I hadn’t found chump lady. In all honesty my x is the one who locked down stuff (burner phone, passwords etc). They don’t change for the better after getting caught they just learn to be smarter and more devious.

  • Lololol. Sort of appropriate:

    Post everything, but before discovery, I got this sad sap email about being friends and wanting to connect as it “might help us heal”. I sent a screenshot of him bragging about having really good sex online and said “looks like you’re healing just fine to me”.

    So NOW what’s the excuse for us to “connect” ?

    It’s a bullshit. Believe NOTHING that comes out of their mouths, it’s just manipulation. If they lie to you once they will lie to you anytime about anything.

  • God. I wish I knew about your site earlier. I wasted years on one of those reconciliation sites. Lost so much money financially and he got away with so much. Thank you chump lady. This message needs to be stronger.

    • I also got sucked into RIC. Thankfully he filed and I finally got angry stepped off the crazy train, and got what was mine (and more).

      I’m curious– which RIC did you use? I did divorcebusters coaching ($1800), marriage Helper ($4300), and break free from your divorce ($1000).

      Good grief I was desperate.

      Glad I am happy, healthy, and free now.

    • Argh, I wasted time and emotional sanity on “reconciliation” too. I was so desperate to “make my marriage work” that I was up for anything–ugh. I lost a lot of respect for myself during those years and (surprisingly?) lost several friends who didn’t understand why I’d take him back. I think they lost respect for me too.

      I hate that I traded in years, pain, and emotional wellbeing on his dangling carrot promise of “let’s make this work as long as you promise to trust me again” reconciliation platform. What a patsy I was. Naturally he had no intention of reconciling; he was just resting on his laurels until he found a new affair partner. He found her, packed his bags, left me and the kids, and moved in with her and her kid… all during our “reconciliation.” (He married this one.)

      And thank goodness he did. Based on my own history, I would have let him do anything he wanted in order to keep our family together. He did me a huge favor by packing his bags and leaving for her place because I was ripe for the picking; he could have easily strung me along for many more years, even with the proof of his new affair in my face, and I know it.

      I’m so glad he left because I know I wouldn’t have. Getting abandoned for the final time gave me the strength to get on antidepressants and call a lawyer.

      • “And thank goodness he did.”

        I think many of us can say that. I too would have stayed much longer if he had wanted to stay initially. By him leaving, then I gave him one more chance (it lasted a week) he treated me even worse, it finally brought me out of my shock.

        By the time he circled back again, he nauseated me. He had been gone long enough that my eyes were opening to reality.

        This was before the RICs really kicked in I believe, I am so glad I didn’t get hooped up with one of them, well actually I couldn’t have afforded them, so that is a blessing to.

        I knew I needed counseling, but no money; so I just had to suck it up and deal. Maybe that was a good thing. I think a lot of women were damaged by counseling.

        • “By the time he circled back again, he nauseated me. He had been gone long enough that my eyes were opening to reality.”

          This is true for me as well. The man that I used to love and who I placed on a pedestal (a place I never should have put him but I thought the world of him and he was content to let me think the world of him) nauseates me now. I literally feel sick to my stomach when I think of his touch or having to spend any personal time with him. Happily, despite parallel-parenting (the kids see him on weekends) I have been enjoying many years of “I don’t have to see his face” estrangement. It’s such a blessing because the idea of spending time with him makes me feel ill. And I don’t observe that fact with righteous anger, just with a sad matter of factness.

          • I think having to co parent with him would have been so horrible.

            Our son was emancipated when he was outed. Thank God for that.

            I only saw him a handful of times through the years, at family (grandchildren) events. He always looked like a broken down, shriveled up rat to me. So different than I saw him when I still loved him.

  • WHAT I DID RIGHT:
    *Upon learning of the multiyear affair, I said, “You’re dead to me,” threw off my wedding ring, and drove away.

    *Within a week of learning about the cheating, I interviewed four lawyers and hired the best (and most expensive). Only days later, I filed for divorce. My ex was pissed because we could have done it more cheaply without lawyers (or some such). My thought: Fuck that! You don’t get to call the shots anymore.

    *I read and listened to CL’s book over and over and over again. Somehow I managed to find CL on Dday!!! Thank you, Google!

    *I listened to my adult kids who told me to block him.

    *I (reluctantly) agreed with my son when he said, “Dad doesn’t love you.”

    *I stuck this list in my car and on my mirror:
    –Don’t trust him.
    –Don’t engage.
    –He’s the enemy.
    –Keep your eye on the prize (a good settlement).
    –Get to “meh.”

    *After a week away, I insisted that I return to the house and he leave, which he did. Weeks later, when the guilt had worn off, he would bitch and moan about this arrangement. That confused me because he was now in a swanky new apartment with the OW. Why wasn’t he on Cloud 9?

    *As much as I was an emotional wreck, I somehow managed to be focused and rational re the divorce. I let my rage and interest in my financial future propel me forward.

    *I leaned heavily on good friends. My sister in particular kept me upright. She sat in my grief and for that, I’ll be forever grateful.

    *I shared my truth with others.

    *I visited my estate lawyer to remove him as PoA and health care proxy.

    *I moved to a different state to be near my kids and have a fresh start.

    *I made an appointment with my therapist whom I hadn’t seen in years.

    WHAT I DID WRONG:
    At first, I engaged. It only hurt me (boomerang effect).

    I sent him articles.

    I sent him quotes from CL’s book.

    I blamed myself. I blamed myself. I blamed myself. I blamed myself.

    I allowed his false equivalencies to worm their way into my head. “You think you’re so perfect, but you aren’t,” he said.

    I took his mother to her doctor’s appointment while he was on vacay with the OW. (FFS!!!!) She sang religious hymns to drown me out when I said that cheating is a sign of bad character. She told me to “get over it.” This was only a few weeks after Dday.

    I let him stay in the house for a week. He had access to our files, and I didn’t. I should have made him leave right away.

    I allowed him to stay in my head, rent-free. He’s still there, commenting and criticizing. This eviction will take time.

    Good luck to all the chumps out there!

    • After 3 years post DD, and 18 mos post divorce the FW wants to set up weekly visitation with 10yo son? He hasn’t lifted a finger to parent the 3 kids for 3years! The older two aged out? Wondering when it stops and really how to handle this.

      • Unfortunately since you have three kids together it never really ends. The two that are over 18 can sort it out themselves. Tell your ex to contact those two (after THREE years !) himself and don’t get in the middle. The 10 year old is a little trickier.

      • Yes, as time goes on, and they get bored from the AP, they need to find other kibble sources elsewhere, and a 10 year old is perfect material.

        I’ve seen this, too. Dracula left when my boys were 7 and 3, and couldn’t be bothered parenting, as he was in “Twu Luv” and wooing the Schmoopie & her dirtbag friends.

        Now, those kibbles have worn off, and he tries to text/call my 14 year old & 10 year old, constantly. The teen is like “wtf, I have my own life, I’m busy with friends, what do you want?!?” The 10 year old is more amenable (he’s 10), but that will start to wane as he becomes a teen, too.

        Teens are focused on themselves, their friends, their own activities, interests, social media, etc. (All of this is as it should be). If you can just get them to teendom as the sane, normal parent, most of the Cheater’s hunt for kibbles rolls off their backs – they’re not interested.

        Just keep helping your 10 year navigate these tricky waters. He’ll realize you’ve been the parent he’s always leaned on, and the Cheater will be a Curiousity that he engages with occasionally. ????

        • Thanks Chris for your comments about having a 10 year old as that’s how old my son is too. After 2 years of ignoring my son, my ex is texting/calling nightly- it has been confusing for my son.

      • You would have a right to ask your ex where he will be taking your son, who will be present, no over-nights at first. You set the time frame of pick up/drop off time.

        Every second week would seem like a good place to start. Unless your son really wants the once a week get together.

      • Ex cheater may be feeling lonely, out of sorts and that is what prompted him to reach out to see the kids. As soon as he’s reeled in some other woman he’ll be off again. Kids? What kids?

    • I did most of this too – except kick him out and I cannot move away until my youngest is of age (or wants to but she is a hs freshman). I met with an attorney before I had proof- he was still calling it “an inappropriate emotional affair” with his 27 year old assistant. At the time our 20th anniversary was 6 months away, so my attorney advised me to get all the ducks in a row and pretend to reconcile (which was easy because deep down I still loved him) and file one day after the 20th year – because that got me spousal support for life. Ca-Ching! He never knew this! By then the lying and discard was pretty much over, but divorce still took 2 years. Done now. I’m good financially/ thank goodness

      • “and file one day after the 20th year…”

        Do cheaters have a secret wish for punishment and comeuppance? Why do so many seem to do this right around the twentieth anniversary? In fault states, they’re totally screwed.

        • 20 does seem to be the big number.

          For me it was year 21, but he had been committing serial adultery for at least ten years. Of course I didn’t know it until he was ready for me to know it. I think it is the same for many, they have been doing it for years and for whatever reason that 20ish year the house of cards fall.

          • Well, think about it. In many cases, by year 20 the kids are in high school, shortening the window for child support. For some of these dirtbags, leaving at this point gives them an excuse not to pay for college or to cheap out on it and expect the chump to pay 1/2.

            In terms of image management, they get years of looking like a “family man/woman” and then can regress back to single mode and get all those kibbles that comes from a new relationship, including the high of limerence and showing off a new life.

            Many of these people probably had emotional affairs or other activity during the 20 years, but when the chump is busy with kids and married life, the cheater can get away with things that aren’t full-blown, on-the-way-to divorce affairs. They get the career and social boost of family life (while their peers are doing the same) and once the kids are mostly grown, they don’t get social blow-back because the myth of mid-life crisis makes their behavior more tolerable.

            That’s my hypothesis.

            • I think you nailed it pretty much.

              Though college was never going to be paid for by my ex, he made that clear. He left the year after my son joined the AF though, so maybe he just wanted to be sure. I wouldn’t have forced it because I couldn’t afford to pay half, I was working for minimum wage.

              My son had one year of college which he paid for with a Pell Grant, and some help from me, and he worked.

              He finished later with his military benefits.

              He definitely did get a new life. He got busted in rank, he lost his office, not put back out on street patrol, and slunk off to another county to live with his prize. I don’t think it worked out at all how he thought it would. But I do think he thought the transition from Susie to Slut would be seamless, and she would just step in my spot and hey, no one would be the wiser.

            • Midlife crisis translates to either their mask finally falling off or chumps getting a glimpse of what is behind it. And it ain’t pretty.

    • This is hilarious, about your attorney. My ex asked our therapist to handle the finances of the divorce “to save Dude-ette money”. My ex’s voice was soft and he came across as so very concerned and generous.

      How stupid does he think I am? After a little pretend consideration I said “well, I wouldn’t hire an accountant to clean my teeth”. Thanks to his huge gaffe (now I knew he was going to try to screw me over financially), my resolve was that much stronger.

      Apparently I am a phenomenal actress because my serious poker face throughout the divorce process guaranteed a huge sucker punch to him by the time we settled. He always did underestimate my abilities.

      Compartmentalize emotions away from the legal proceedings and protect yourself. And know thine enemy.

    • “Weeks later, when the guilt had worn off, he would bitch and moan about this arrangement. That confused me because he was now in a swanky new apartment with the OW. Why wasn’t he on Cloud 9?”

      It’s confusing to chumps and decent people, but this fits the cheater’s M.O. to a tee, if you think about it. Sad sausage/pity channel is an old faithful for avoiding consequences and shifting blame. It’s a big part of the manipulative charm, it’s sneaky and it works shockingly well.

      My ex felt so sorry for himself. He had everything, plus cake and kibble, and he was putting me through hell, yet he had the gall to whine and cry to me about his troubles. He lied and exaggerated. I think it helped him ease his conscience or absolve himself if he was “suffering.” Rather than respond to me, he would use his sadness to redirect conversations away from the issue or excuse himself for something cruel/dishonest he’d done – completely irrelevant. He also used it as a smokescreen, because I was chumpy and more worried about his well-being than my own. It’s a big part of what kept me in the dark for years. FW shared his sad sausage stories to court women, win friends, manage his image and (when the ugly truth came out) to make people feel sorry for him about his sad situation. He got so much kibble through pity, and he learned it as a child. Basic, pathetic – and common.

      Good luck with the eviction, Spinach! You did a lot right, and I hope you’re kind to yourself about what you feel you did wrong. Seeing you write it out like that, I could relate to a lot of those “mistakes.” Thanks for sharing those along with the wins, because it helps us all have compassion for ourselves. I also notice that it’s not too late to turn many of those things around. They are about you, not an FW.

    • Spinach YOU really are Mighty!
      Don’t beat yourself up, really, YOU are Amazing!
      I am so very proud of you!
      ( for me, no CL, I told no one, it was all so horrible)
      I was never never never mighty.

      Stand tall Spinach@35
      Oxo’s
      Peacekeeper

    • Such a good list.

      The one thing I did right early on was stay in the house. I didn’t really think about it, I just did. I was frozen and that part worked for me. When I unfroze a little, I set up a consultation with a really good law firm and got his advice. I told the lawyer I wanted him to file as he was the one who wanted the D, and it would make me feel better. And A I meant that. But, my lawyer told me, actually if I could get him to file it would be beneficial to me. So I used his guilt and he filed.

      He took all our files when he moved out, which could have been awful for me if he refused to file, but since he did file it was fine. I pretty much knew what our bills were and the property we owned.

      I think you did amazing Spinach. As have a lot of folks on this site.

  • I kept thinking about the succinctly worded paragraph in the LACGAL. Your vows, health, shared finances, family or feelings were not considered when cheating was deemed acceptable to him. You protect yourself, see a family law lawyer ASAP ????????????

  • I’ll make this easy…..follow CL advice in her bullet point list verbatim!!! Be an actress, get your ducks in a row, get a layer (demand alimony, childsupport, to be the custodial parent with majority time with the kids in your divorce papers and make sure to list WHY you are divorcing him on the grounds of infidelity in the papers too). and let the moment you serve him with papers be the confrontational moment. You are mighty! You’ve got this!

  • I blew my stack, presented the evidence, left,and immediately set up consultations with 7 lawyers (our town is small and there wasn’t many to choose from) this ensured that those 7 couldn’t represent her as it would be a conflict for the lawyers. I closed the only account we had at the bank and called her saintly church going mom and told her. There was more but it worked for effect

    • I, too, conflicted out lawyers. I sat through a presentation by the most sexist, pit-bull lawyer in our area, handed him a $400 check for that “privilege,” and then took a shower.

      When I blew my stack, cheater used it as some mindfuck justification for why I was to blame for his affair. It went something like this: “Spinach doesn’t pause and think. Look at her rageful reaction!!!” *sigh* The saddest part is that, at first, I actually bought his whacked-out, self-serving argument. My therapist had to work hard to get me out of that self-blame mindset.

    • In my state, I think you might get in trouble for closing a shared bank account. I was told to take half the money out of the account, formally request my name be removed from the account, and set up my own account with my half of the money. (I followed these steps, and my EX still accused me of stealing from him. Fortunately, I had the documentation, and his legal counsel must have told him to stop being an ass about this point as it never came up in court.)

      • You do have to be careful. In our case we had two accounts, one his check went in to and was to pay all the bills, mine was the one my check went in to and we agreed that would be for only discretionary spending on my part. (I used it for gifts, Christmas etc).

        Both our names were on both of them. I withdrew all the money from mine except for the 6 dollar minimun required balance. The other one I never touched.

        I then opened an account in my name only at another facility.

        Yes he could have squawked about it, but I knew he wouldn’t because he was trying to get through all the shit pile he caused quietly.

        I did run a three year history on both accounts. I also had a three year history of our joint credit card account sent to me. I also closed it. Didn’t care if he liked it or not. I would have loved to be a fly on the wall next time he whipped it out to buy the whore a bauble or a meal and it got declined. With all the charges I found where he bought meals, gifts etc for the whore and her kids, he didn’t dare open his mouth.

        I never checked to see if he had my name taken off our joint account after I ran the history, I know it showed up on the history that I ran it. I really didn’t care as I never used that account anyway. He did all the bills, I assume so he could control all the money and not have to explain all those cash withdrawals me and the lawyer found.

  • I interviewed divorce/family law lawyers. One of the first questions was, “If your spouse were to divorce you, which of your peers would you least want to face as an adversary?”

    The more lawyers you consult, the smaller his pool of candidates.

    Also run a credit check on yourself. Get him OFF of any credit cards that you hold and for which he is an authorized user. If any.

    Make absolutely certain he hasn’t taken out a HELOC or a 401K loan/withdrawal behind your back and with an accomplice. Yeah, legally they can’t do that without you knowing about it and signing off in front of a notary public. But there are some really sketchy people running around this world and he may know more than his fair share (lawyers, notaries, etc.). May that not happen to you.

    Line up a therapist for yourself and your kiddo NOW. Also, if your state will require you to attend a “Co-parenting with an asshole” class (they won’t call it that, naturally) – sign up for it ASAP. It will make your attorney happy, it will not go amiss with a judge and it will help establish that you ARE the Sane Parent.

    Confide in nobody yet – people can and will surprise you. The friend you most trusted may turn into a Switzerland friend and report back to your FW. Physician and lawyer first.

    My best to you and your nugget.

    May FW catch a venereal disease that melts his genitals.

    • Co-parenting therapy has turned out to be a frying pan for him.

      Every. Single. Session.

      It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend checking it out.

    • Agreed – there are 2 key points on NSCs reply here: 1) take that co-parenting class ASAP! It makes the judge very happy. Dracula stalled and didn’t take it for the longest time, in my case (and he filed for divorce), and it pissed the judge off to no ends.

      And 2) The SECOND you get your final divorce papers, in hand, call your 401k provider and get that paperwork over to them, ASAP! To get the Fucker off your 401k.

    • Right about the HELOC. I was told a story by the former clerk of courts. He said a wife got a paid off house in divorce only to discover afterwards husband had taken out $100,000 from heloc legally. Either one had been eligible. Never was disclosed to her. Some settlement.

  • Off topic a little (more to do with the topic a day or so ago) but I really wanted to share with CN my little piece of closure. Quick background; 31 year marriage discovered July 2020 that FW was shagging his ho worker. Don’t know for how long and don’t care. All sorts of messy happened (mainly me). I couldn’t line shit up let alone ducks ????????‍♀️????. However, fast forward 9 months and my solicitor has just sent FW a final letter that basically owns the fuck outta him. I wish I could share it. In fact I wish I was present when he reads it! Its worth every penny I’m paying, she’s a God in my eyes. There’s a good saying ‘give enough rope’ and that’s exactly what he’s done. He has lied, obviously about the affair but also about his finances and now BAM we have him. I’m gaining my life. Hugs to everyone here in the club none of us wanted to join ❤️

    • Yea, Claire!! Good luck.

      Also, re the timeline: What in God’s name was he doing fucking another woman during a pandemic??? That takes a breathtaking amount of selfishness and disregard for your health. This makes my blood boil!

      I’m so glad you have a good solicitor.

      • The cheaters usually pork or spread their legs without a condom so what’s “a little case of the flu” to them ? No biggie ????‍♀️

        • Yup. And getting tested (1st time ever) for STIs in my fifties was not fun. An experience that’s helped me within my profession though (I work with teenagers)

      • Theres a funny thing about the time line… When I discovered ho workers name I told my 3 adult children. My girls immediately took to social media to find her. They noted that on her fakebook profile picture she had ‘stay home save lives’…. All cheaters really are hypocrites as well as all the other shallow traits. My girls have snarked about this so much. It’s healing ❤️

  • I was advised not to go “Scorched Earth” which as an insulted man was very appealing. I read that Maturity is in Not Seeking Instant Gratification. I wanted to confront her lover-once discovered- and drove to his house for a confrontation. He wasn’t there. I left him an unsigned note advising him to leave leave her alone. I’m sure he contacted x. Very mafia-o-so in hindsight. I’m sure he was looking over his shoulder and wondering when I’d cap his ass or bash his grill in. The X jumped into the next best hypotenuse’s bed and it was H’asta La Vista BABY. It took a bit of wallowing in the pain and shopping for it to snap me into action. I think my 3rd or 4th listening to the LACGAL audiobook -and copius notetaking, flipped to tactical GO switch for me. When you go stealth and they that You Know, and Can Prove your truth They’ll try to discover what you know. Reverse trickle truth yeh?
    Best they get the mushroom treatment from Day 1!!

    • I confronted the AP. In a dark alley. He was a cop on duty. He put his hand on his pistol and claimed he wasn’t with her . I said oh you going to shoot me? I just stay away . He left in his patrol car. 20 minutes later I stopped by my house and she knew about the encounter . I told her , so you two are not together eh. I’ll race you tone lawyers

  • I had her served with a restraining order.
    I was done with her cheating. I hired a good attorney and he OK’d my plan to move her stuff out of master bedroom and into garage. A buddy came over to help with furniture and it was all respectfully done. Put a keyed lock on the M.B. door.
    When she came back from her weekend fuckfest she went nuts, broke down the door and trashed the room. All in front of our kids.
    The next day I took photos and gave them to my attorney. He got restraining order and served her at her mother’s home. 90 days no contact, 30 days no contact with kids, 90 days temporary child support and garnished her wages at school district where she was a teacher. Also required her to get back into treatment for mental illness and report from psychiatrist.
    Now she was on defense.

    • Bravo, Bruno! Well done indeed. She seems to be a horrible person who abandons her children to get cheap sexual thrills, and then acts out in a violent manner losing all control of herself, and who should never be left alone in a room full of children. Add her lack of morals and honesty into the equation, and she is one sorry excuse of a role model for impressionable young minds. I hope the school district fired her. As a mother, I would be appalled had my child been taught by somebody like that.

  • I found the “smoking gun” email to OW and confronted him that same day…I was a perfect specimen of “What Not To Do When You Find Your Spouse Cheating” and it bought me 7 years of manipulation and wreckonciliation.

    If I could go back in time and speak to myself that day, I wonder if there was anything I could have said to me that would have changed my response.

  • This is for the male chumps. My lawyer warned me that this is a common tactic of women. They will do everything in their power (including attacking you physically) to get a physical/emotional reaction out of you. They want a domestic violence/restraining order against you so they can get the kids and a better devoice settlement. My ex wife would get this smirk on her face and then come after me. It got so bad my family was worried about my life! My lawyer and church elder told me to get out now! I wasn’t able to do the rest as her cheating came to light when my daughter did an AncestryDNA test. But I did file for divorce within 2 1/2 weeks and got the divorce paperwork done before the rage came from her. One other thing, is don’t think she/he is your friend. Think of them as your enemy.

    • That sucks. Abuse of the justice system makes it harder for true victims.

      And yes, it is so hard to believe the one you love is not your friend. Never was your friend. Certainly will not be your friend in the future.

    • I don’t doubt this happens, but please be aware that disordered people of both genders behave this way. My EX threatened to get a restraining order against me for months. He would stand behind my car so I couldn’t leave the driveway and taunt me saying, “Please, back-up; I’ve already told my friends that I’m afraid you are going to hurt me.” He would block me from leaving the bathroom, and when I gently shouldered past him to get out, he would yell, “Stop pushing me!” so that he could tell the kids I was shoving him out of the way. After breaking windows, doors, and heaps of household goods, he told the police I was out of control and endangering him (fortunately, both our children and the neighbors had seen him doing the damage and said so when the police asked them).

      People who lie and cheat in one sphere of life seem to find it very easy to do so in other spheres as well. This is a character problem, not a gender problem.

      • It makes me sad and angry to read this, Eilonwy. I imagine you are still working through a lot as a result, even though you’re physically safe now. Your story is incredibly similar to what I experienced. I wish more people talked and wrote about this, because it is insanity to live through, and incredibly isolating and shame-mdicing. You feel like you’re incriminating yourself by even talking about it. In my case, these patterns went on for years and I didn’t know how to handle it or get out. It’s hard to put a finger on when it started, actually. I was in denial about what I was experiencing; the gaslighting and my own FOO and preconceived notions about abuse and who it affects contributed to this. The physical abuse escalated over time, especially in the home stretch as FW’s previous means of control no longer worked on me. A few friends know. Some cut FW out, and I love them for it. well-founded trust in others is a wonderful thing and I will never again take it for granted. I’ve evidently hurt the feelings of Switzerland friends by maintaining the minimum of polite contact and telling them why; for once in my life, I don’t feel bad about “making” feel there feel bad.

        If anyone is experiencing these kinds of aggressive and confusing behaviors that Eilonwy described, know that it’s abuse. That can be so difficult to see and believe when you’re in it. Don’t minimize and figure out how to get yourself out. It can be hard and scary to leave for so many reasons, especially when your abuser isn’t afraid to lie and say you’re the abusive one. It’s the only solution.

    • I have posted this here before but honestly, men do this too. My ex was masterful in this department and he attempted to claim abuse on multiple occasions, even put it in his counter suite although he never could prove it since it never happened…… The last time he shoved me to the ground he literally started yelling for me to stop hitting him in hopes that our 2 daughters would hear him. False claims of abuse come from both men and women- just saying…..

      • Mine was telling the scumballs at the ho-bar who were all his best buddies (because he was paying for the drinks – out of my salary) that I used to beat him up when he got home from work!!! Luckily my hairdresser heard this from a friend of hers who knew the asshat and he was telling her what a shame it was for asshat because “his wife beats him up”. As chance would have it I was in the hairdresser’s so she called me outside in front of the “friend” and told me what he was saying. I was so stunned I just burst out laughing and said “quel con” (what a c…t, in French). If I’d have had time to think I might have reacted differently, but at least the friend saw that reaction was a genuine one.

          • I can’t even remember which of the horrible things he said triggered me, but during one heated conversation I slapped his face.

            A little context for the younger folks: us senior citizens were used to many decades of movies and TV showing women slapping men a lot, and in the vast majority of cases, the man had cheated or done some other awful thing. It wasn’t even remotely considered physical abuse in those days.

            But The Python started dialing 911 (as if this was an “emergency”), saying he was going to report me for spousal abuse. I stopped him, and the call didn’t go through – I think I said something like “do you think the police would actually believe I could hurt you, as big as you are” and he backed down (he’s a foot taller than I am and has big shoulders, a barrel chest, and big muscular legs). I don’t know if he was actually trying to get me to slap him, but I do know he was hoping to humiliate me by calling the police.

            • Sounds familiar. My ex told our MC that I tried to blackmail him into taking Viagra. She looked at him like he was nuts and said ‘some marriages are not meant to be saved’.

              Boy was he mad, he wanted to be a cake eater.

      • Yes, men also try to manipulate the system. Mine was a well educated military professional who had a horrible temper. When he got med, he would rant and rage that he would find and injure the source of his rage. A few times, he told me that he intended to commit a mass-casualty crime and told me that since I knew, if I didn’t notify the police, I was complicit in the killings.

        I think he intended to get me to tell the cops he was a danger then the cops would see his squeaky-clean facade and everyone would think I was insane he “had to” leave me.

        The good news is that he died without ever doing what he threatened. Im still wondering how he explained his actions to Jesus.

        • “I didn’t mean it, Lord! Really I didn’t!”

          “Uh huh. So that makes it okay, then. Riiiiiight.”

        • Unicorn – I remember once a comment about your x being very Catholic. If he’s in purgatory – he’s lucky. There are many layers of hell, real or perceived.

          I guess what I am thinking is that he’s yet to meet Jesus. But I bet he’s met a few other Biblical names!!!

          • Hi Lucky, I know Catholicism isn’t everyones vibe, but I do believe that my intervention made the difference for him between Hell and Purgatory. You and I are old chums and you know all this but I throw this in for any Catholics lurking.

            I think that because God knew that Cheater’s days were short and He asked me to make some sacrifices to get Cheater’s stupid ass to Purgatory instead of Hell. That was, I believe a specific directive for a specific person in a specific instance and I don’t believe that all Catholic spouses are obligated to submit to abuse when their spouse is breaking vows and covenants left and right. More than likely, they should get the hell out of there.

            I went to Mass and prayed for his soul nearly every day for 7 years. 7 is the number of completion and at that mark, he dropped dead suddenly – it was as if God literally scooped him off the earth in a single swoop.

            I don’t want him in Hell, so Im good with this…he was my responsibility (on some meta level) and I was true to what I vowed. Right after he died, I asked God to release him from Purgatory because I didn’t know of a lot of what he did. Once I learned of his serial abuse, I withdrew my prayer in favor of trusting God to treat him with the right portions of mercy and accountability.

            Cheater had created a narrative where he was not actually responsible to be a decent husband because he didn’t really want to get married thus his consent was flawed and he was not accountable to any of his vows. He was spiritually abusive (like Jesus Cheaters and Lucky knows that genre well) as well as abusive in other ways.

            He is now Gods responsibility and Im not married to him any more (til death did we part) and Im really glad that the marriage is over. Some well meaning friends tried to reassure me that we were “still married” and I would have none of that shit.

            The abuse I got from both him and my parents refined me in a fire and as much as I hated the experiences, Im glad of who I became. I wonder sometimes if (before I was born) God might have offered me a red pill or a blue pill and let me pick my path. I do know that I broke the patterns of abuse and will leave this world a better place.

            I met up a friend (met in a RIC site and she is here now) who knew my long long story and when she and I had a sleepover we sat up chatting like teenagers and after hearing more details (including the good things in my life now), she said “God held you right in the palm of His hand” and He did.

            • My ex and i were not Catholic, but I do believe he had somehow convinced himself that he never loved me, and that he and the whore were really in love, so there fore he wasn’t committing adultery. He called it dating. I said married people don’t date, they commit adultery. He did not like that. This was way before CL, it was in 1989/90. It was one of the few things I did right in the very beginning. I named it, and he did not like it.

              I am absolutely sure our preacher didn’t pull any punches either.

              Because he is my sons father, I will always wonder how he got so messed up, or maybe he always was and for a few years he was just able to act normal. Who knows.

              He just died this Jan, and it is between him and God now. I do know that he never straightened his life up, and he continued on with destructive behavior. My son and daughter in law were the brunt of some of his behavior. As was schmoops.

              It didn’t take long for me to realize that schmoops didn’t steal my future, she simply secured her own. I don’t think it worked out the way the brochure he showed her advertised.

              • “I don’t think it worked out the way the brochure he showed her advertised.”

                This is similar to me telling people that there must have been an expiration date on our marriage license that I overlooked.

      • Yep, my ex husband says I was abusive. He tells people I was controlling and abusive and he even has other people afraid of me because I’m apparently so crazy and violent.

        He was the one who would block me in rooms and back me into corners to scream in my face while I cowered and sobbed. He was the one who casually told me how much he fantasized about murdering me. And he’s a foot taller than me and outweighs me by nearly 100 pounds. But somehow people believe I’m the scary one. Ok.

        Yeah, it’s so scary how I’ve done nothing to anyone and gone complete no contact since the very beginning of this divorce. If I was so crazy and violent wouldn’t I be at the very least confronting the people who lied to me? People are so stupid. It makes me angry they’ll believe such stupid things when all the evidence says it’s not true.

        • “Yeah, it’s so scary how I’ve done nothing to anyone and gone complete no contact since the very beginning of this divorce. If I was so crazy and violent wouldn’t I be at the very least confronting the people who lied to me?”

          Yep, people are stupid. And shallow and fickle. How do you deal with all of this, KatiePig? In the world and in your head? You seem to really have your shit together, and I could use some advice.

          At the very least, most people I know are now aware that FW cheated and lied for at least 7 years, while I loyally supported him and his family through some hard times. They know he continued to lie and cheat while begging me to come back. He is 6’4”, and I am 5’2”. I am (well, was) nurturing and patient and calm, and he is not. He owns lots of guns and talks about wanting to hurt people who’ve wronged him, wanting bad people to die. How can anyone believe him over me? Be Switzerland, let alone remain friends? They are only going on his word, which he’s proven to be garbage. It’s insulting, especially when coming from people who know about the darker stuff and who I genuinely thought were my friends, not just flying monkeys.

          • In all honesty, I’m kind of faking it til I make it right now. I’ve lost everyone except for four people. It is hard. I’m leaning heavily on those four people at times. It makes me feel sick when I think about some of our switzerland friends that I knew for decades. They were family to me.

            I focus on one day at a time and try to make healthy, positive choices for that day. I’ve gotten into yoga which helps clear my mind. I’ve picked up old hobbies to stay busy, I’m quilting again and sewing. I’ve also joined a couple of women’s groups I found in my area and they’re starting to meet again in person so I’m looking forward to some outings to make new friends. But there are times I just lie down on the floor or sit in the dark and feel numb.

            It is hard and it is definitely insulting. But it does get better. It’s slow but it does. I think it helps to take one day at a time and don’t judge yourself if you have a bad day.

            • Katie pig,
              The times when you “ sit on the floor and feel numb” think of all the Chumps on this site
              who believe YOU are Mighty.
              Big big hugs to you.
              YOU, Truly Are MIGHTY!

            • Also while you are sitting there numb, just try to plan your next day. That helped me. I would just lie in bed at night and plan out how I would get through the next day. I would plan it over and over, until I fell into a fitful sleep. But at least it would be some sleep.

            • Thanks for your earnest reply, KP. You are righteous and obviously aren’t willing to compromise your integrity. It takes so long and so much to leave, but turns out leaving is just the beginning, which is daunting. The fallout and losses and challenges ahead are far greater than I’d anticipated, and I’m often overwhelmed by all of it, too. It’s hard to accept suggestions or encouragement from people who haven’t been cheated on (or are spackling), even if they mean well and it’s good advice. I feel judged and minimized and misunderstood. But when I read it here, I feel safe and a little hopeful. I think fake it till you make it, partaking in gentle and relaxing and creative activities, and maintaining expectations for friendships – and releasing myself from shame and burdens that aren’t mine! – are going to be my best medicine, too. Boy do I yearn for a magic bullet, though. Sending gratitude and warm thoughts your way.

              • I’d like to respond specifically to you tonight. After reading my email notifications and seeing your reply as I was JUST thinking how everyone well MOST want to minimize the situation BEGINNING with my parents who simply CAN NOT talk about painful truths of life. To them: I should probably realize I have a great guy who will do anything for me he’s such a hard worker and a sweet person…
                Bringing this up with either of them I just get reminded that it’s really hard in your own or that well you guys just need to keep moving forward… perhaps it being up buried emotions from THEIR divorce. I live my parents very much but it would be great to cry in the shoulder of at least ONE of them and have them tell me I can do anything married or not.
                My heart goes out to you and everyone reading. I’ve been in a sick painful situation of a sad man (husband) attempting to clean up his cheating mess with his ex who is the mother of his child and the young lady whom I’ve helped raise for the past ten years.

    • This also happened to me with my ex wife. My lawyers the first day I filed for divorce without ex wife knowing, sat and advised me that many women will accuse a man of domestic violence and they see it all the time (main lawyer who told me this is a female) A couple of months later and after weeks of my ex wife trying to provoke me the police turned up and arrested me for assault. No bruises, no evidence and no witnesses but because we have young kids it was automatically referred to social services who then removed me from the family home. Does not matter one but that my ex wife has assaulted me on multiple occasions and gave me concussion. I’m a man so I’m automatically the villain.

      • I think the whore in my fws case tried to get hi8m to do that to me. She accused me of calling her. I never did not even once, in fact once he moved out and I found out it was her, I never once talked to her until years after we were divorced at a family event.

        When he tried to accuse me, I said I didn’t call her and you know I didn’t. I told him I wouldn’t give him or her that satisfaction and he knew it. Had they filed any charges against me, I would have blown that shit wide open, and I knew he didn’t want that. He was desperately still trying to save his job.

  • I didn’t have any brilliant exit strategies, but there was a period of three weeks where he was looking for a new home and was imagining a fantastic life without me. He not only wanted to take the kids to see the various houses he was considering, he wanted me to come along too. In part, he was convincing himself we’d be great friends after the divorce; in part he wanted me to be jealous. I was absolutely desperate to have him gone. So, I went along on every house tour; I smiled; I complimented his choices:
    I agreed that the kids would love the various features. He needed the money from our property settlement to buy the new home, and I was able to use his few weeks of delusional bachelor-pad fantasizing to get his signature on both the custody agreement and property settlement.

    Of course, he slipped back to his preferred channel (rage) a few weeks later, but I had what I needed–a court document forcing him out of the house by the end of the summer.

    So, my advice is to take advantage of their delusions if the opportunity arises. Bite your tongue, stuff down the pain, swallow your pride–if the cheater is moving in the direction you want them to move, then don’t derail the progress for emotional reasons. You can always tell them they are a jackass later.

    • I agree.

      I was a mess but I did get my with about me enough to run my financial stuff, and then to call him and tell him he needs to file. (he wanted me to file) I said, you want the D you need to file. He balked then, I said well the sooner you get filed the sooner it is over.

      First I did want him to file to own his own decisions, but then my lawyer also said if you can get him to file it gives him even more flexibility in court to get me a better maintenance. With my financial finds, and him admitting to cheating for ten years he could get me up to three years easily. I wish now I had taken the three year route, I only asked for six months. At the time I just wanted a few mounts to get a car and get stable, but in hindsight I should have gone for the whole three years. I*t actually took a year, because at the six month line, he started to delay. As long as he was paying, I didn’t care how long he delayed.

      So ass wipe filed. He moaned about not wanting to hurt me by having me served. I said too late to worry about hurting me, just file; I can take it.

      I never did get served, it was left in my mail box.

      • Isn’t that weird … I had exactly the same, my wife told me 5 months after DDay when she moved out in order to move in with the OM that I might as well file for divorce now, no point hanging around and drawing it out. When I pointed out that she wanted the divorce in the first place therefore she should file, she said she did not want to hurt me further … such bullshit, I don’t get it … everyone already knew why the marriage fell apart and her role in it … so I had to file in the end, weird

        • Yep. They know generally the burden of pulling it all together is on the one who files. Plus, in my case it gave my lawyer more back up in getting me that maintenance plan. I had no documents, no deeds to properties etc. He had everything because he moved it all out of the house while I was at work. My lawyer wanted that abandonment tool to use.

          Yeah, I would have had to file if he wouldn’t, but the whore was likely at his ankles and he was between a rock and a hard place.

          He couldn’t very well tell the whore, well I want a divorce but she won’t file.

        • TGIO, I cannot count the number times that I have seen/heard of the cheater or abandoner refusing to file and leaving the dirty work to the cheated on/abandoned. It shouldn’t surprise us that they avoid the hard work in divorce just the same way that they avoid the hard work in marriage but when they claim we are so horrible that we MUST be left, it is odd that they don’t pull the trigger themselves.

          This may be one reason that I was married when my cheater died, I refused to do his dirty work (although in retrospect, maybe I should have

          • Agreed. I really did mean it when I said he wanted the D, he needs to file. It was when I told my lawyer at our consultation that I really wanted him to file, that the lawyer told me it would be to my benefit if he did.

            So I paid the retainer, called my fw the next day and said you need to file so we can get our finances separated. He liked the idea of separating our finances I am sure, because likely in his mind it meant he could quit paying the house payment while I was living in it. He had continued even though we were not yet legally separated.

            But, he definitely didn’t want to be the one who filed. He did though, and I am glad. I still think he who shits on his life should clean up the mess. Plus he couldn’t pull the, well I tried but she booted me out shit.

  • I did all the things wrong. Starting with asking the cheater about cheating. That was my biggest mistake and regret. If I could go back I would sit back and collect more evidence and then my legal punch would be greater. Mine had all the warnings my me asking about his cheating, that he went so far underground that PI’s can’t even really help me. I have enough to know he cheated and thankfully enough I can claim in in divorce. But I do get pissed with myself bc I am leaving so much uncovered, at least legally (since I don’t have pictures of all I saw on his phone). I guess in the end its ok, bc I walking away with a chance at a new life without a fw.

    The smear campaign has started with mine, and while I logically knew this would happen I still wasn’t prepared. He has literally tried to say that the std’s he gave me came from me cheating on him. It is so sick and twisted. I never cheated on him. They are a special group of sick fuckers.

    • My guess is on the accusing you, even the folks who pretend to believe him, don’t really.

      Him bashing me to anyone besides the whore never bothered me. They knew me, they knew him, I imagine if he tried, they just gave him a pitiful look and walked away.

      The handful who might believe him, were just like him.

  • Get physically away ASAP once you know, your partner knows you know, and there is no wriggling out of it.

    Took about a week to get idiot out of here. Took, alas, way longer to go fully no contact, but him gone and no more threat of his return (I got sole occupancy, eventually, and changed locks) was the beginning of freedom. Gradually unfolded from the always braced for abuse posture I hadn’t even realized I’d been living in for years.

    Today marks five years since dday. Still a day that is not awesome (coincides with the wedding anniversary, which is the sort of thing these folks dig for some sick reason), but my unfolding (blooming, spreading wings, turning into who I am meant to be) continues—couldn’t possibly be more grateful for that.

  • One lady here – whose FW thought she didn’t know – had him served in his hotel room while fucking his whore! Can’t remember who it was but as far as I’m concerned she walks on water!

  • I hadn’t found CL when things blew up for me. Why would a chump know about CL at this point? I did see an attorney to find out my position before filing. He told me to act like I didn’t know. Which I did. I ended up never having a verbal conversation with my ex again. We were fairly cordial in emails because I needed to make nice to get what I could. That’s his personality. He lied of course. Said I was his best friend, always loved me, he was sad….Wah Wah Wha! I did let him know when he opened a door that I new there had been many women and some creepy stuff – just alluded too though. So, big plus – kept my dignity. Big minus – I’d really like to tell (email) him now and let him know the level of what I know – he’s posting pics of my replacement on line – faceless – you can imagine what is posted. It’s just weird. Anyways, so good and bad as to confrontation. I am very very happy I have my dignity.

  • I did a few things right and many wrong. The few things that worked for me was setting up separtbank account and IRA and moving my half into those almost immediately. Best advice I got was to use the 3 months post dday while he was feeling guilty to get property agreement. The guilt phase disappears pretty quickly-and that was true. Also gave him money to live on so he would agree to what I wanted. (He never manages our money and as long as he was comfortable he never asked-he trusted me.) so I drew up all papers, he signed, I filed and 30 yrs of marriage done and dusted in 6 months including 3month waiting period. I look back on that and wonder how the hell I did that cuz like all is us, I was blindsided and devastated. Found LaCGAL within 5 weeks of dday and never looked back. Hugs!

  • Insure your personal safety. Statistically leaving an abuser is a very dangerous time for a woman. On the advice of my therapist and my lawyer, I filed after I had moved a four hour drive away. I told him that if I found out he was cheating I would divorce him. I meant that.

    I wish I had moved more of my personal belongings out of the house. I wish I had taken half of the money in the bank accounts. He immediately changed the locks and moved the money where I couldn’t access it. My plan to leave was accelerated by his escalating abuse. If you feel unsafe, get out. Things can be replaced, you can’t.

    • I should have added “cheated AGAIN”. LTC Fuckface is a serial cheater. I can’t wait for his HoWorker to find out he has a side side chick. He won’t be faithful to her either. Isn’t that delicious?

      • Yes. That IS delicious.

        Also, I love your advice that chumps need to be mindful of their personal safety.

  • If I knew then what I know now I would have started faking my way out. I wanted to go back to the day before I found out. I wanted to keep my family together. I didn’t want to start from scratch all over again. But it was too late. I actually started to fake it. Threw in a little pick me shit just to throw him off. He always thought he was fooling me. He did all those appointment with lawyers so I found a country small town attorney with a lot of patience and I got what I wanted. And honestly, he was so domineering on a good day. I’ve never missed him a day. But losing my family unity. Still hurts but I’ve done my best. Gosh I still hate him. But it’s cold now.

  • 1. See the lawyer right away and get the process started while you line up ducks.
    2. CL outlines the big stuff, but have your own checking and savings account and if you are working, be ready to move your paycheck into your own account.
    3. Take care of any maintenance for your vehicle, including new tires. If you battery is 6-7 years old, replace it. Have the brakes checked. Change the oil.
    4. Get your kid() any needed health exams, including dental, etc. Do the same for yourself and for your pets. Collect all the needed vaccination records for kids and pets. and put them with your financial records, birth certificates, etc.
    5. When you shop, get gift cards from stories where you like to shop to save for your first months of living on your own.
    6. Start practicing thrifty shopping. Consignment stories for kids’ clothes, your local Buy Nothing, discount grocery stores. Treat shopping like a job where your task is to get good stuff for as little as possible.
    7. Secure any personal valuables–jewelry, family heirlooms, stuff with major sentimental value, cameras, etc. You might want to store them with a relative or good friend. This means he can’t lock you out of the house and keep your stuff hostage. Make sure you have a list of those things you brought to the marriage.

    8. Take stock of your living situation. If you’ve bought a home, does it make sense to sell and get the equity out? Or are you upside down, in the sense that closing costs and realtor fees would eat up equity? Could you manage the mortgage on your own? Do you want to stay where you are or would it be easier to move where you have more support? When my cousin was widowed with 3 small children, her mother moved in to help until she was on her feet. That might not be possible for you, but think carefully about what is in your short and long-term interest about housing. Get some advice from professionals. If you have a banker from a community bank, you can get great advice and sometimes a solution (I refinanced through a bank loan and avoided closing costs, for example, and I’m still paying less than rent.)
    9. Find out if your state has a plan to help single mothers buy a home, if you are interested in doing that.

    For what it’s worth–I would not have sex with this guy. You can invent a mystery infection, if you need to. Let him wonder if he gave you one. But you don’t want to get pregnant again or bonded to him again–or really get a disease.

    • I didn’t know it at the time but my mother got pregnant and had an abortion after some “hysterical bonding”.
      The ONLY time my father bought her a large, beautiful bouquet of flowers was following this medical procedure. At the time I was a pre-teen and knew something was wrong. I had the chance to ask my mother lots of questions before she died, years after the divorce.
      His side piece used him to get another man to propose and my mother unwisely let him come back. My parents used condoms for birth control during what turned out to be a failed reconciliation. The condom tore and voila. My mother knew right away, in her body, she was pregnant. She could have used the pregnancy/child to trap herself in her abusive marriage. Why do that to herself, the child and us ? My father’s monstrous character showed when he questioned why she was crying about it.

      • As somebody who was sucker punched, I’m a big proponent of returning the blow by punching them in the gut. Shanks and shivs metaphorically speaking. Actions have consequences.

    • (Regarding important or sentimental items… we supported a loved one thru a nasty divorce). She was concerned about the FW destroying things in the house out of anger. This was in the very early days when he still could get access. We rented a storage unit in our name and paid for it, but she had the keys. That way the unit never part of the marital property. (Do this ONLY with someone you truly truly trust. Another way to do it is get the funds from someone else but put it in your name). Important stuff went in there including financial paperwork, heirlooms, etc. She could access the items at her leisure, in safety, and prepare her case to file. After the house was secure again she moved things back in and we closed the unit on her timeline. (Note: when dealing with threatening or dangerous FWs, make sure they don’t follow you to the storage unit. Take every precaution).

  • It depends on how far want to go and how ruthless you can be. The following is what I would do, but some of it may not be your cup of tea:

    Do everything CL says, plus change your will and life insurance to cut him out. Open your own bank account and start socking money away. Rent a place for yourself and move out while he’s not home, unless you own the home, in which case change the locks while he’s out.

    Save all the evidence you have so far. Then get more evidence. Message him back to set up a meet at a hotel. Ask him what he’s going to to do to you, acting like you’re so horny you want to hear all about it. Ask him more questions about other sex partners he’s had, when he did it and what he did, and ask about kinky fantasies. Pretend you’re kinky and like hearing about it. Set up the fake hotel meet, then go there half an hour before the appointed time, disguised as best you can with a hoodie and dark glasses, and set up the perfect spot to catch him on camera entering the hotel. Boom! Make sure to get shots that show the hotel name as well and that the photos have date and time. Or you can hire a P.I. to do it. This last step may not be necessary, as him agreeing to the meet may be enough. But he could try to claim it was all a fantasy, so the photo insures that nobody believes that.

    The more you have on him, the more leverage you have. Leverage is power. His smear campaign can’t work if you can prove conclusively that he’s a cheater. You can also use yoir evidence to get a quick and favorable settlement from him, telling him you’ll make it public and send copies to everybody he knows if he does not agree to your terms. At the very least it would be highly embarrassing to him, so he has reason to want to keep it quiet.Put copies of all the evidence in a safe deposit box and give extra copies to a 100% trustworthy person, with instructions what to do with it if anything happens to you. Make sure the fuckwit knows you have a safeguard in place if any harm comes to you, just in case he gets crazy ideas. Put nothing past him.

    I’d suggest you call him after you have moved out (or changed the locks) and tell him what you have and what your terms are. Do not tell him where you live if you have moved. Don’t use text or email for this conversation because you don’t want fw to have anything in writing to verify that you threatened him with exposure. He should have nothing concrete to use against you in a smear campaign. Put none of it in writing at any time and assume future calls will be recorded, so if he brings up your threat to expose him in a subsequent conversation, hang up.

    Good luck, and don’t listen to his excuses and false promises. He is a serial cheater, thus he is quite disordered, so you must assume everything he says is a lie and that his intentions are never good. It’s gut wrenchingly hard, but your first order of business is to secure your financial future for you and your kids.

    • I would say that if you are in a No Fault state, the system does not care about the cheating.

      The system cares about the kids (track days away, drinking/drugs, who takes the kids to doctors, tutors, school events, etc), dissipation (7yrs to current in my state), and fraud- like hiding assets, perjuring the financial affidavit.

      Get solid evidence on these. This is what matters in the court system where I live.

      • “I would say that if you are in a No Fault state, the system does not care about the cheating.”

        True, but there are laws against as you said financial fraud and abandonment issues were in play in my state, which was a no fault 50/50 state.

        I had the credit card proof, and with that it made many of the bank with drawels suspect. The judge agreed with my lawyer, and fuckwit had to pay all my living expenses for a year. I could have gotten three years, but I opted for a shorter time. I regret that.

        At the time I just wanted to get some of my money back, but in hindsight it would have been fun to live for three years on his dime. And honestly that still likely would not have covered all the money he spent on his whores through the years.

  • You in no way owe him any conversation or explanation. Getting (surprised and) served with divorce papers will be explanation enough. Don’t tip your hand, or endanger yourself physically, emotionally, or financially.
    PS: I’m curious to know how you suspected him of Craigslist activities! Way to get the goods on the pos.

  • CL has the playbook above, in her book, and various places in the archives.
    So sorry you are in this position. At least you knew to check with CL, so you are already ahead.

    If you work with domestic violence victims, do you have access to more resources such as a list of recommended attorneys? The attorney is best place to start so you inform yourself of your own state’s laws before moving money or removing names from policies. You have a child to protect as well as yourself. Plan ahead for where you will go, after asking the attorneys advice, as your husband probably would not have to move out of your home during the divorce.
    Get STD testing & have no sexual encounters with your husband- all in stealth. You can & should remove his name from your health care professionals contacts for you so he can’t see any billing for tests & he doesn’t get calls regarding test results for you. Your GYNE should be very familiar with safeguards.
    Look up grey rock. Superb acting skills are going to be your FU combats boots during the initial information seeking stage. Going grey rock was an eye opener for me. It confirmed that my STBX really was never capable of authentic conversations although he “listened” to me share my true feelings & thoughts. He preferred light weight conversations about sports, the weather, the kids’ activities, or news about the neighbors. So that part was both easy & heartbreaking for me once I had a strategy. I don’t think he ever noticed a change in my behavior when I was completing my plans to leave.
    The hardest part will be believing that he is not your friend.

  • Jenn, you caught him by posing as an OW on Craigslist? Damn, woman, you are my hero. You sound stronger and smarter than I was. I couldn’t agree more with CL’s advice: get out Katie Holmes style. Don’t give him a clue anything is wrong until he gets served. Hire a pitt-bull attorney, educate yourself about laws in your state, tell him NOTHING until you’re ready to pull the trigger on the divorce. God I wish I had gone that route, I would have gotten a better deal. Good luck. You got this

  • Before you confront him get all the print outs on any bank account balances, debt owing, lines of credit, investment values.

    Did you photograph his ad on Craiglist? Can you prove to a lawyer or judge that this was him, in the case you need to.

    For your sake and your childs you may want to consider not engaging in any over the top ways. Even though he deserves it. You have enough proof that he is a sick sneaky person who can put on a good front when it serves him.

    Don’t let him paint you as the crazy one … he will try to provoke you to prove you unstable. This is the time to be methodical and low key. For you and your child’s future.

  • Jenn,

    The day I discovered my ex was cheating felt like a sucker punch to the gut. The CL blog didn’t exist then, so I then proceeded to make every mistake I could possibly make. You probably don’t feel so lucky right now, but aren’t you fortunate to have found CL and Chump Nation before acting? Please take all of Chump Lady’s suggestions and know that we are here to support you! Freedom came at a big price for my daughters and me, but freedom is priceless!

  • Ah man, if I had to do it over I would follow this advice, exactly! I immediately confronted him when I found some evidence of his affair, but I should have waited and gotten my ducks in a row, let him dig his hole even deeper, then just filed with as little fanfare as possible and avoided the years where he talked me into believing him and his ongoing lies.

    Right now, if you confront him, he’ll do his best to convince you that it was all fantasy, and that he would have never gone through with it, that he was telling stories and that the only thing he’s guilty of is making things up online for a bit of adventure. Get more evidence, get organized, and then get him out of your life with irrefutable proof of his wrongdoing. And, strike while the iron is hot. With many of these assholes, there is a small window where they are busted red handed and will be far more agreeable to a settlement that favors you…that window closes fast and is replaced with anger and difficulty. So, when that window is open, get your settlement in writing and signed by him. This can take a lot of time, so have a settlement agreement already drafted prior to even confronting him. Have as much of the work done as you can so you can get him to agree to a divorce and sign the settlement agreement while his “mea culpa” window is open. Because once it closes, you’re in for a prolonged fight.

  • I cannot tell you, CL/T, chumps, how much you have helped me put into perspective what I and my kids have been going through. Oh, sure, I have been hand-wringing and analytical, scholarly, even (after being so shocked and distressed I could barely breathe), hanging in for decency’s sake and the kids, yadda, (oh hell- the whole nine yards!), and to hear, and see with my reading eyes, the truth of stories so like my own, I have come to realize, we do not need/deserve to be strung along and abused, used -yadda! Ok, that’s a lot for me, rn, but, seriously: thanks.

    • And I just find my little, assigned, bunny-bird alien avi, so shocked! confused! – to be so appropriate! When I first learned about all the online accounts, etc., I kept saying “ick” like some sort of sixth-grader, so often that even my self-absorbed stbx noticed: “Stop saying ‘ick’!”

      • (and finally,) of all the cartoons I’ve seen so far, the “Bruce, I’m leaving your sorry ass” one is my fav, made actually laugh, then smile every time I see it.

      • Ha! That’s perfect, Serious Duchess. I love mine, too. Just frantically ranting and raving. Discombobulated. It’s good to be able to laugh at myself somewhere safe. (Also, the most accurate, descriptive word to describe how it all made me feel at first was – ‘icky.’)

  • A lot of trickle truth took place over the course of the 13 months I danced “pick me” in saving my marriage. I didn’t learn any real truth until the final days before my ex left the marriage, when I discovered his secret email account with the OW and printed all the emails that revealed the true nature of their affair.

    I never told him I found this information. It’s been 3.5 years and he still stands by his narrative that he didn’t leave for the OW, that they were only friends, that he shared a kiss with her once and that is why he committed to marriage counselling, that he tried to save the marriage, don’t blame her, etc.

    There was about six months of my quietly investigating further after he left. The truth? He met this woman at a bar 21 months before he left the marriage. There was a woman before her (who talked to me and told me herself that there was an emotional affair that he tried to make physical). There was also a woman towards the end that he slept with while leaving me to be with the OW. There were dates, hotel stays out-of-town, gifts exchanged – a full on affair! The OW was in my home more than once while I was away. She fully knew he was married as she would have seen our wedding photos on the walls. I also suspect a fourth woman – I’ve got a number of a woman and record of calls made to her from his phone at odd hours, but I didn’t follow that trail. I knew enough.

    What did I learn about the so-called confrontations with my husband those last 13 months? I learned that they will NEVER tell you the truth. They will play at being sorry. They will see how much you know and then move the goalposts, admitting only to the minimum and then recreating their excuses to cover the rest. They will turn attention away from themselves and blame you to throw you off. They will bide their time until they feel confident enough to leave and monkey-branch into their affair relationship. They will start to villify you to others and re-write the history of your marriage to start turning people against you. They will gaslight you to the moon and back.

    Listen carefully to CL. Keep your cards close to your chest. Collect the evidence. Line up your ducks. Get out!

    It is amazing what power you gain from knowing the truth when they don’t know. You get to learn so much about them when you observe them actively lie to you and believe they are fooling you. It’s like a poker game. I now know my ex-husband’s tells. I call him out on his games and don’t bother explaining myself. He is very frustrated with me and will barely look me in the eye now. I prefer that so much more than him continuing to bullshit me.

    I feel cheated out of a dramatic confrontation, but life is not like the movies. Dramatic confrontations are rarely ever so satisfying as the scenes play out on the screen. You set their clothes on fire on the front lawn, you get charged. You slap them across the face, you get charged. You confront the OW, you get a restraining order against you. You post the evidence all over social media, you look like the crazy one. There are too many variables beyond your control, particularly your own spouse.

    You can only control you. Knowledge is power and use it wisely. Be patient. Your spouse spent God knows how long pulling the wool over our eyes and outsmarting you because your were ignorant. You are in possession of the evidence that he’s cheating, now it’s your turn to be stealth and walk away with the winning hand into a better life.

    • All of this is so perceptive and so perfectly explained, OptionNoMore.

      “You get to learn so much about them when you observe them actively lie to you and believe they are fooling you. It’s like a poker game.”
      ^I’ve been pondering it quite a bit this week, but I think actually think this awareness was the final straw. I saw how easy the lying was. Second nature. I couldn’t blame anyone but myself for staying after I saw that.

      • Well, here’s my chumply take: no, *don’t* blame yourself! A meteor lands in your living room, don’t blame yourself for being shocked out of your shoes! Regather your equilbrium while saying, I couldn’t have anticipated that. Becaaaauuse, if your a good person, why would you have anticipated any of this cr*p? (Note, I’m a bit precious about the spoken swear words thing.)

    • Even once I found out, my husband was for a very brief moment, kind to me and a bit sheepish. But it quickly swung into him blaming me, telling me it was all my fault, and he had a nice little narrative that he told to friends and family that we had been having a hard time for many years and we mutually decided not to be together. He really thought it was all going to be amicable and I was going to be happy for him and his new woman. He totally under estimated how hurt I would be, and how no one, neither family, friends nor colleagues believed his shit. From then on he was a total ass. Thing is, he was never going to be nice to me unless I stayed under his complete control. It wouldn’t have mattered much in my case if I got my ducks in a row or not – he was imploding and he was taking me down with him. Luckily he got out of our business quickly without too much further damage (except to all the women he bullied). My narc ex wants nothing more than to win and beat me down. It’s hopeless.

      • I hope you’re on to better things now. At least business-wise. Emotionally? I am with you on feeling like how the hell. There is no understanding the abuse.

  • I now have a beautiful keychain on my keys that says ‘Ninja’ because I went so quiet on my exit. My research lasted months. I played the quiet ???? wife for 8 months before he event suspected I knew his cad side. And then I left for a job, and he was going to have a chance to move to be with me and try: 1) if he got a job because he just finished school. 2) if he figured out what this was and got help. He had to tell me what he was doing about it. 3) if he got the apartment ready to rent or sell.

    Well. He got a job. Said he was getting help and then…. said it was ‘online stuff’ (ummmm like hookers because that’s what it was last time.) and couldn’t and didn’t tell me a damn thing.

    He also got a few new credit cards.

    He has PTSD and can’t really deal with the apartment because it’s where we died. So. Yknow, it’s hard for him.

    And when I went back to visit, I just… I couldn’t. I could not fathom this still being a possibility. I asked for three things and got told He had the issue with the house we loved in. Couldn’t bear being there or seeing it if we end. Wow. So. I’m supposed to think about him and his actions and be ok touching him and loving him. What the actual fuck. The dissonance was strong with that one. I told him we were done and he was livid. Because- Yknow, I didn’t give him a chance in person in new city. (Because it was conditional on 3 things first…. but that isn’t the point, it’s still ObVIOUSLY allllll my fault.

    So. Yeh. That’s right. Make your exit plan and when your heart wavers, keep strong conditions on him. Maybe he’s a unicorn. And then when he isn’t …. because… he isn’t. He really really isn’t…

    You will stick to and love those boundaries which prove you love yourself and value yourself and safety.

    • Horrible story, but good advice, Creativerational.

      My only hesitation is around keeping conditions. I think it’s dangerous. I had this idea that I could leave the door open for FW to walk through if he ever fully respected my boundaries and met my expectations and could prove it. I thought of it as a safety net that could give me piece of mind to help me do what I knew I needed to, but it actually perpetuated his centrality, as much as I told myself I was moving on. I couldn’t make a new life until I closed the door, after many painful and largely wasted years that certainly worsened the consequences and trauma I’m dealing with now.

      It just crossed my mind that in this way, I was a little bit like a hoarder who finally cleans out one room, only to dump the contents in another.

      • I think that’s super fair- if you think he will try to earn it in and you can’t take that, say you’re out. But I wasn’t sure. I wanted to know that I really had given him opportunity. Sure he had 13 years to NOT fuck hookers and impregnate a coworker, and didn’t stop. But for me this was my secured way to be away from him, heal, feel life without him, and also see/ just maybe he does have room to heal himself. As chump lady says/ no one is owed another chance, but we are also allowed to give them, and then decide it’s still not going to work. tons of us wasted 8-10-25 years in sparkle and spackle mode- I knew I wouldn’t wait that long. I knew I needed space now. But I also had no adult history without this man and lots of happy times in addition to the physical abuse and gaslighting and cheating.when I put those boundaries in place, it was a promise to myself, because I had found CL and heard it all- they don’t change. I didn’t have the energy to let him try in my space. So I left the door open and said- don’t expect an invite UnTIL. And the ball was in his court. Really- reading CL- Reading other blogs- even the people who stayed- saying they have found a unicorn- they say they put the boundaries in place – then they walk it back…. he’s still not doing this, or … the porn is still there… you don’t get your life back but some folks need to try. I used it as my table stakes. I knew I would want to ‘try’ so I said – here. Here’s my boundaries. You say you are 120% going to do everything to get me back and fix this. And he didn’t. Seriously. If a person isn’t capable of sticking to their boundary they sure should run, because out is better. But this was a safe way to prove to myself that I did give him the chance. This failure to get the chance is on him. When I look back? I know that if he had done those things, we still would have ended up divorced. I don’t know how much of an in person chance it would have been, but I would have at least maybe opened the door to discussing it- but he didn’t. And I would visit our old city, I would dig through his stuff and find omissions of things. I would find deleted bits of life. And I knew that He wasn’t working on him. Wasn’t working to be an us. Was hoping I would just get tired of waiting for the work and accept him as is. And he was sorely fucking mistaken. Nope. Had the work been done I don’t think we would have stayed together – But it again would be because we got to another impasse, and I would still know The ME in the equation had given my best foot forward, and just couldn’t keep this going.

        I owe Chump nation my life. Tracey has been a lifeline. There’s no mistaking without this community this whole plan and backbone and such would have fallen apart and been nothing. I would be a twitchy crying shell. But part of that is knowing what I needed to feel like I had done my best. Everyone has to figure that bit out on their own.

        • I’m glad you got yourself away from that sick cheater, and I agree that’s the priority for all chumps. We are all wired differently and on different paths, doing our best, and my previous comment did not come from a place of judgement of what works for others. Just throwing a little caution out there because of my own experiences. I should have said, “can be dangerous.” Or, “was dangerous for me.”

          It was dangerous because I was trapped in a cycle. As long as I was afraid to 100% let go of the cheating FW, I was still a chump, and still vulnerable – even when a switch had flipped, I felt strong and enlightened, I had moved out and had very little contact. I thought it was over. But whenever I left the door open even a crack, I left myself open to more abuse. My ex was incredibly manipulative and convincing, and he would push his way back in, trampling boundaries, breaking promises, and making a mockery of my feelings and expectations. Even when I was determined and rebuilding independently (a few times), this thinking kept me bonded to him and prevented me from making independent decisions about what was best for me. The fantasy world still had a hold on me. Of course, changing my thinking was a process and I learned by noticing patterns and being really honest with myself about their consequences. I don’t know how/if I could have shut the door sooner – but I like to think that CL/CN would have helped. It is no small comfort to know that it’s helping new chumps escape every day.

          And, with you on boundaries! That was so important for me, and boundaries continue to be a major focus as I navigate other relationships and learn how to move through the world in new ways that better serve me and those I care about.

  • Chump Lady says it all and is the only voice on the internet (or anywhere) that I 100% trust when it comes to infidelity advice. Get yourself out. Then figure it out. If you want to actually DO something, this is all you can do! THANK YOU, CL, for this week’s posts. Brilliant. You and CN helped me through a rough patch, and I’m
    ending the week in a much better place than I started in.

    Little things that helped or that I wish I’d understood sooner? Take the saying “liars lie” to heart. Don’t believe a word they say. Repeat the mantra “He/she doesn’t give a shit about me.” (Soon, you can change it to something more positive and focused on YOU.) Don’t worry too much about dignity in the beginning. It’s a nice ideal, but I’m beginning to wonder if a dignified post DDay-chump might be a unicorn, too. Instead, think about maintaining integrity and honesty – and work toward separation and NC ASAP. The dignity will follow. (And remember, there’s no dignity or control in being lied to and cheated on, or in gracefully pick-me dancing, no matter how flawless and composed you appear.)

    • *and by honesty, I mean be honest with yourself. Do whatever you need to do to get away from FW safely and to get what you deserve from him!

  • Hmmmm. Well my cheater husband died of cancer during the time period we would have been divorcing, so he made HIS exit that way. I lived the hell of learning that his “emotional affair” was truly a 3 year full on affair—which made it all the more tumultuous. I firmly believe his exit saved me from many years of divorce turmoil. Still infidelity tainted death is a trauma of a different stripe. I wouldn’t wish it on anyone.

    • I feel for you. Your name expresses the hurt mixed with indignation. I have to admit I would have fleeting fantasies about his death so I wouldn’t have to go through with a divorce. Reality is shockingly awful.

      I’m forever thankful that by reading CL my thinking changed enough so that I no longer passively wished for my own death. There were so many years of pain since my STBX had a hidden double life on his business trips. I often wished for illness, thinking it would elicit more love from him and a feeling of being cared for, by him & by others. How crazy was I? I’m no longer embarrassed to admit this. It’s merely a reflection of how much pain and loneliness I felt from being in a relationship with someone who I thought was real but was as fake as a wire monkey. I had a childish wish to end the suffering that seemed to have no tangible cause.

  • Cheaters always lie, confronting them just opens up another level of madness.
    I remember being marriage police , checking her phone and social media – even hired a private detective.
    But part of me didn’t want to learn the truth of course and hoped that the gaslighting would be the truth .
    The chump is in such a poor position .
    My advice nowadays would be – the cheater is acting unilaterally to destroy the marriage.
    It’s broken .
    Now the betrayed spouse needs to act unilaterally to protect themselves.
    Lawyer, finances all needs to be sorted before any such discussion.
    Easy to say in hindsight.

    I called a lawyer but them called him off, hoping she would change after the next marriage counseling or visit to psychiatrist for depression.
    And so I hung on for a few more weeks, always lying to myself .
    When I finally asked her to leave , it was a rock bottom experience- I realised that the pain being with her was higher than the pain being without her.
    Nowadays I have boundaries- the slightest step over my boundaries would be an immediate disqualification… but that’s with hindsight .

  • Afs

    With everything g you’ve been through and shared, Would you and the rest of CN agree that ONE cheating occurrence is the same as two, three, or even a full “relationship”?
    Is this a black and white situation? Are there factors to consider upon discovery?

    • Nowadays – I wouldn’t tolerate anything .
      No emotional affair, no one night stand , no sexting.
      If my partner thinks the grass is greener elsewhere , they can leave. And that is true for a single occurrence.
      But I say that from a very strong position: I have learned that I’m happy with my own company, that I like a very simple life – and I don’t need anyone else for my happiness.
      Anyone playing silly games can f… off .
      And that’s how it should be .

      • There are no factors to be considered.
        Unhappy childhood , too drunk , felt lonely – none of this entitles anyone to cheat .
        Communicate , leave if you must , but cheating is never ok

      • CL once said here that her vast experience if hearing these stories is that “serial cheating” is likely the norm and what chumps see as a single episode may only be the one where they got caught.

        When I caught my Cheater in what he claimed was a single incident of an “emotional affair”, I would have sworn on my children’s souls (a bad idea) that it was his first and only affair. He, however turned out to be a serial adulterer. His cheating went on for so long (in part) because I never saw a sudden change in him, he was always this way.

        So more than likely, the single incident wasn’t single.

        • When I found out about the cheating, 7 or so years into our relationship, I think it really was the first time (in THIS relationship; he had admitted to cheating on his previous girlfriend of 10 years).

          I did all the RIC stuff; after all, we had small kids and I did love him (and CL didn’t exist yet). (Now I think it’s strange that I never asked myself whether he deserved that love, or whether he actually loved me, in any way that counted.)

          Of course he cheated again. Because that’s what cheaters do. The immaturity, selfishness and entitlement that led to that first episode of cheating, or that first affair, or the intense emotional affair, will lead to more. And it makes them crap partners in the meantime, too.

    • I think that for a very short term incident, yes it is possible to have a recon, and it is possible for the cheater to change. But, if he/she is not displaying remorse and actively changing their ways, they likely aren’t changing at all.

      I also think it is rare for it to be a OTO, or short term situation upon discovery. Most are simply lying about the time frame. These cheaters are sneaky, and we love and trust them; it is a perfect storm. I am also amazed at how long the ow/om are willing to stay in the shadows.

      Especially OW who are intent on marrying the cheater. I am just going by all the experiences (on CN and other sites)I have read, and by my own situation. My ex’s whore stayed in the shadows for at least six years, might have been more. And believe me for all but the last year, we were having regular good sex, going to events, laughing having fun etc. Were there red flags? likely but they were certainly obscured by his deceit and my blind trust.

    • I don’t think the number matters, it’s the fact that they actually did it. Cheating is a choice, and if someone really loved you, they wouldn’t do it, even once.

      • Yep, the older I get, the more I realize that cheating and love do not go together, Unless someone is mentally impaired there is no way they don’t know before the take that action that it will devastate their partner. They just don’t care.

        I have been married to a sweet heart of a man for 26 years now, I couldn’t even cheat him playing a board game, much less adultery. Just does not compute.

        Can a marriage survive it, maybe in a few cases; but does the cheater love the spouse like they should. No, I just don’t think so. The cheater will just likely maintain the power in the relationship.

      • I know I wouldn’t. Can’t and won’t. Which I’ve said to him many times.
        He swears it was another “tripe of cheating” when he learned I told a coworker he was nice looking (he’s my daughters age) a body builder and I was complimenting him. That’s it really.
        Ive heard about this for the same amount of time I’ve known he cheated. A whole year. Been wrestling
        Thank you

        • Type of cheating sorry
          Ugh
          He also screenshotted my notebook where I was taking notes in a DIY divorce in our county. ????
          Thank
          You all the input means EVERYTHING

  • I did one thing right which was to stay in the family home. I discovered the cheating while I was overseas with my daughter on a big family holiday. It was devastating and I confronted him when I got home and he just started confessing to a whole bunch of shit. He just basically didn’t care that I was devastated, and even though we’d been away for a whole month, he went to see his new girlfriend every night and left me alone with our daughter in a steaming pile of tears with no regard to me whatsoever. I discovered more lies over the next week or so. Then, he was called up at work for some serious allegations about his behaviour and he entered into a legal process with our business. I got a lawyer. He kept telling me that we don’t need lawyers and he was going to look after me and treat me well, blah blah blah. I didn’t tell him at first that I had a lawyer. Meanwhile I wrote everything down that he said. I don’t know if it will help with court but he did say that I could stay in the home and a few other things that might be useful. Mostly though, he just abandoned me and wouldn’t say one way or another what he would do to help. Now he’s trying to charge me rent for living in the home. He’s a total POS.

    • Good thing that you have a lawyer.
      He wants you to charge rent- I don’t know your circumstances, he may be entitled to money, who knows .
      But it’s not his decision, the law decides that, not some narc.

      • Right, no money is handed to him until the finances are spelled out in court.

        Because I had proof of my fw’s money he spent on the whore, and he left the home, I got a really good temp maintenance plan for a year. He paid everything except the water and phone bill. He paid the house payment, the electric and he had to pay for all other bills for our rental properties. This was in a no fault 50/50 state. In those states there are usually still laws against fraud and abandonment.

        Unfortunately a good lawyer is essential and I know now days they are so expensive.

        • Yes, consider a good attorney as an investment in your future. I hired one of the very best in my metropolitan area, but I was struck by his humility and values. He ended up being very efficient as well and knew how to manage a heavy caseload, manage the firm, and be a family man like a pro. Sometimes high-level attorneys are truly as bad as the husband you are trying to divorce. My ex picked someone like that, and it backfired on him.

          When we were separated, my ex wanted me to pay rent to him, which was just a crock. The house was paid for, and he was the one who chose to take off and ultimately rent a fancy house far away. We sold the house before the divorce process started, and I felt better renting and having that cushion until I decided what I wanted to do.

          • I got a referral from a trusted source and I went outside of our city, to hopefully get an attorney who did not know my ex or any of the police officers. I am content he didn’t . He was amazing. My only regret is that I did not take the three years temp maintenance he could get me, I asked for six months. It took about a year as my ex starting delaying at the six month line.

            My attorney called and told me he was delaying and what did I want to happen. I said does he still have to pay my bills, he said yep, he is still under his original agreement. So I said let it ride. I got more than enough from him paying my bills to pay my lawyer and to save some money before the D became final.

            With what I found out down the line, I think my ex would have been happy to have me delay the divorce for three years. He pretty much knew he had to marry the whore as soon as he was free. (she was his direct report). If he could have blamed the delay on me, he would have been happy to do so. In fact I am betting he blamed the six months that he delayed on me.

            My son even asked me a couple months ago after his dad died, “I wonder why dad didn’t stay single, it was clear he was going to do what he wanted, and he could have done that a lot easier without being married. I told him either he just wanted someone else to dupe, or he really didn’t have much choice but to marry her. His years of screwing around had ended and he had his balls caught in the workplace axle. In other words he shit where he ate, and the bill came due.

            I kind of feel sorry for her because he refused to buy her health insurance when he retired from the PD because it was so expensive. Then when he died he left her with very little pension, and in over 80 thousand dollars in debt for a big ass RV. She lives in a trailer that belongs to her son now.

            While part of me says, well you wanted my future you got it. The other part cringes at the abuse of a woman by sadistic bastard.

  • All great ways to confront and get some ducks in a row but the MOST important thing i learned is to think about all you’ll need when divorced. Put in writing who pays for college, k-12 school, sports, band fees, camps, their first car, car insurance, life insurance and make sure you child stays on his as primary beneficiary if and when he gets remarried and that he shows you proof yearly or anytime you ask. I’d shot for him paying alimony for all years of marriage not half (like some attorneys advise) and list it as a fault divorce unless your state is a no fault state. I should and could have gotten him to agree to paying 80 percent of everything since as the involved, proactive mom i continue to do the day to day heavy lifting of making doctor, dentist, ortho appointments, and all the follow up calling pharmacy, school… getting costumes, picking up after volleyball and track meets, homework and project help, getting the supplies, bringing forgotten stuff to school and supporting events, picking out prom dress or tux, and dreaming with broken hearted children with trust issues and just plain dumbfounded confusion of what the hell their fast did to their lives. plus it’s much harder for the mom/ wife to get a good career type job if she doesn’t already have one since we need and take time off and usually put professional life a touch to the back burner to be pregnant and care for young children. I’ve been through so many interview but because i need to be able to pick my kid up after school (no bis or carpool or family to help) I don’t get the job. Also try to get full custody and don’t be duped into thinking you have to give the most recent, most frequent visitation schedule there is. Even if you want to let him be around them its better to have as much control over that as possible. The cheater getting Joint custody means they only have to tend for them one or two nights a week and evry other weekend but get to pay as though it’s half and half?! It’s not even close and thats before all the things i listed. It’s a sham. The while court system, child custody, divorce settlement is disgustingly naive and undevalues the custodial parent’s time and value. I know we do it for our kids but why shouldn’t our work have some monetary value attributed to it?
    I’d even try to see after all the dust settles and he tries to win you back, if he wants to reconcile badly enough to sign a post nup with all this and all you can get, then leave his lying, duplicitous, bad dad, family-killer ass with a divorce decree handily all pre-spelled out for you.

  • Cheaters always have an advantage and have no problem furthering their lies, hedging on getting a divorce and adding insult to injury.

    They really don’t know the extent of what YOU know or about evidence you have collected.

    I used this to my advantage on the ONE day the asshole finally appeared in court. I filled a large briefcase with newspaper and he had no idea of the contents. I plopped it in the table when he met with my attorney representing himself. It worked like a charm. Sometimes you have to hold the cards close to your chest. Of course he wasn’t too bright.

  • Yes, not worth it for me. I had dirt and evidence of dirt. He shamed and blamed me. His family shamed and blamed me and refused to believe what little they knew. So I gave up and moved on.

    When he picked an attorney to kick off the divorce, he picked a streetfighter attorney known for drama and fighting dirty. I also knew that he had gotten in trouble when he was younger for sleeping with clients and had a reputation locally for being a flirt with female clients even in his 60’s. I was completely turned off of course, and picked someone known for being a hard fighter that was more of a gentleman. His father had been an appeals judge, so he grew up with the law. A lawyer in another area of the law who had been brought in on one of his cases told me that he was truly the best litigator she had ever seen and knew the law better than anyone she could think of. He was the only one she’d recommend other than the two attorneys in her firm that did family law (both were women, and I wanted a male attorney).

    His attorney ultimately turned on him, violating multiple ethics rules in the process. Mine said that he had never seen any attorney cross lines that far in 40+ years of divorce law. He assured me that if there was ever an ethics investigation, he would claim attorney-client privilege to protect me. He retired and left the law entirely the day after my divorce was final. His tragically died of COVID after my ex’s side of closeout was over. So according to my original attorney’s associate who did closeout for me, there was no reasonable chance of dredging up what happened. So that was my closure. I got my good settlement and my ex was put in his place by his attorney.

  • The advice I always give, and I know it’s in CL’s book as well, is to talk to a good lawyer BEFORE saying anything to the Cheater. Even if you want to reconcile and think you will, even if you think the Cheater is fundamentally a good person who has just made some poor choices (gag!), even if you think the Cheater will feel guilty and be reasonable in a divorce/child support/child custody situation….. No matter what you think or what you want, TALK TO A LAWYER FIRST.

    The lawyer can tell you what to expect, what your rights and obligations are, and what to do and what to avoid through the mess. SO important to be grounded in reality in the middle of a nightmare.

    In my case, Quebec law worked in my favour, towards what I and the kids wanted.

    Interestingly, I think my Cheater Narc Ex was actually more reasonable through the first couple of years after I kicked him out, because he really believed he was going to come back ‘home’ at some point and all would be well. DESPITE my making it clear all along that this was not going to happen. But by then I knew his capacity to delude himself was immense.

    Boy was he mad when he gradually figured out I wouldn’t have anything to do with him. Clearly he FELT deceived, even though he actually wasn’t.

    • SO important to be grounded in reality in the middle of a nightmare.

      So RIGHT, I had seen a lawyer during our brief separation of 3 1/2 weeks. He told me to “safeguard” money. Get my own credit card and bank account (had done that when I knew something was wrong).

      When I mentioned credit card to my eye doctor of 35 years, he said have you been using it? He said start using it for little things. I hadn’t. I thought I’d use it if he cut me off Credit card. I went to use it at gas station & it didn’t go through. Came home called Chase, talked to 3 people & got it active again. I just wasn’t thinking clearly.

  • I also had to be a good actress for a while until I was able to get my ducks in a row legally. I did not want to be the defendant in a divorce case. I never want to be the defendant in my life, so I filed first. I let the paperwork be what filled him in on what was happening. I never had that conversation. I just filed for divorce and for a restraining order and that was it. Don’t try and live in the house with him while you’re divorcing him. If you can’t get him out, move. That is just my humble opinion. I’m very thankful that I didn’t have to spend another day with him once I made the decision that that was the day. And I never told him. He just got served.

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