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Is He a Unicorn or a Narcissist?

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m reading your book, follow your blog and Facebook page religiously, have a local tribe of chumps for support, I attend therapy weekly and exercise like it’s my job. I have a full-time job and a part-time job, I have a lawyer, meditate, do yoga, pray, I’m in the process of adopting a puppy for my two children and myself. I’m doing everything that I can to help myself.

However, I still love my husband. The man that abandoned our kids and me to stick it in some cheap tramp from his office (a.k.a. sewer rat). I’m a good mom, a good wife, I’m educated, I’m cute, I’m fit, I don’t have any addictions, my house is clean and tidy, all the bills are paid, we have savings, careers, my credit score is 805, no criminal convictions. I’m a good cook, have good manners, travelled and have healthy and satisfying sex life. Our home is happy and have good, smart, beautiful kids. I don’t understand what have I done to deserve this.

See Tracy, I’ve been chumped twice. FW1 cheated on me with the office tramp, I dumped him quickly and swiftly after 7 years of marriage. Then FW2 cheated on me with the sewer rat ending a 13 year marriage, 16 together. They both were military men that are used to high octane action and with delusions of grandiosity. They both had everything at home, yet they threw it all out for a cheap piece from the office. Both had apologized. I never took FW1 back, FW2??? I took him back just for him to ditch me again 2 years later because “he is never going to be the man I deserve” and he feels “guilty and ashamed” and that “he deserves happiness and so do I” and that “ I’m the best woman in the world, and want to remain friends” and a bunch of other dreck. I’m embarrassed that I will soon be two divorces down. You can ask both FWs and they will tell you I was perfectly fine, fulfilled my all of my duties and that it was actually them, so why did they cheat on me? The common denominator is me.

For the last 3 weeks FW2 has been spending most of the weekend with us being Mr. Wonderful. He buys me gifts, takes us out, fixes stuff around the house. He bought a bunch of stuff to start a garden. I now cook for him, we have sex and then he leaves until the next weekend. The days in between are unbearable, I don’t text him or call him (I’ve only called him once in 4 months for a child‘s medical emergency). So the ball is always in his court for him call, text and visit.

We have to wait a year in my state to file, so I’m stuck here in the land of limbo, toking the pipe of hopium, hoping for (another) reconciliation. He texts me here and there, but nothing romantic. He said that he loves me a couple of times (I said nothing back), he compliments me too, but we have not talked about where I stand. To be honest, I’m afraid to ask and I’m burying my head in the sand not wanting to know where he is at or with whom to protect not only my mental health, but also my stupid irrational hope. He is doing better lately and I am thinking that perhaps he is slowly re-introducing himself back into our lives. I don’t see why would he do any of this otherwise, and I do want my family back. Is he an unicorn? or malignant narcissist? Please help me Chump Lady!

Regards from purgatory,

Queen of Chumps

Dear Queen of Chumps,

It doesn’t matter what he is — a unicorn, a malignant centaur, a left-handed Presbyterian — it matters what you’ll tolerate.

Apparently, he can cheat on you, be forgiven, do it again, abandon you — and still come back for home-cooked dinners and sex. This is working for him. Your agony is beside the point. He’s got cake.

And you’re either okay with that, or you’re not.

I’m doing everything that I can to help myself.

No you are not. You’re allowing him into your life. No contact is the #1 thing you can do for yourself that you’re not doing.

However, I still love my husband.

And your husband loves your husband. And that OW. And the one before her. And you love him. How wonderful to be your husband.

Look, I don’t mean to be flippant (it just oozes out of me naturally, like pus), but no one here partnered with someone they hated. You have a 16-year investment with this man and two children and a big chumpy heart. Of course you love him, you bonded. You built a whole life around this person. I’m not asking you to do a simple thing (leave a cheater, gain a life), I’m asking you to do an essential, life-saving thing — love yourself more than this person who keeps hurting you.

Think about this — you’re knocking yourself out at being practically perfect in every way — and he has not one IOTA of shame coming back after he abandoned his family. Hey, pass the mashed potatoes, he’ll have a second helping. He feels absolutely entitled to sit at that table, physically and metaphorically.

Is he racked with self-loathing? Second-guessing? Anxiety at what you’ll do next?

No. He’s in the power seat, secure in the knowledge that you still want him.

I don’t understand what have I done to deserve this.

You did nothing to deserve this. And your perfect credit score, fit body, and tidy house have nothing whatsoever to do with why he cheated. Those things don’t protect you. We are all vulnerable in love because we do not control the investment of the other person. He had it good, and it wasn’t enough. He thought he deserved more. That’s about HIM and his entitlement. Some people don’t have it good. They have messy houses and fat rear ends and frizzy hair and it’s enough. They’re loved anyway. I’m sorry about the injustice of that, but there is no CAUSATION between imperfection and being chumped.

And who the fuck is he to set the measure of your worth? Why would you give him that power?

I’m embarrassed that I will soon be two divorces down.

Don’t be. We don’t control the investment of another person. We don’t control their sanity, their sobriety, or their penchant for office mates of loose morals. We just control ourselves.

People who are judgy about divorce? Fuck them. My feeling is, get your card punched as many times as it takes to find a worthy partner. You don’t divorce a cheater because you don’t value marriage. You divorce a cheater precisely because you DO value marriage — and you refuse to live a sham.

There certainly are people who should feel ashamed about their divorces (people like your husband), but they don’t. Given that the world at large doesn’t care to get into the messy particulars, why does anyone judge divorce? Why should you?

You sound like a hard-driving, achieving sort of person and I understand not wanting to fail at something. And I’m sure FW#2 knows this about you, and that works for him. You’ll try harder. You’ll stick it out. That’s your go-to move for life’s adversity. So, let’s redirect that impulse. Try harder at YOU. Commit to you. Don’t fail you.

FW2 has been spending most of the weekend with us being Mr. Wonderful. He buys me gifts, takes us out, fixes stuff around the house. He bought a bunch of stuff to start a garden.

Raise the price on your self-worth beyond a flat of geraniums. If he left a CHILD, he can leave a garden.

we have sex and then he leaves until the next weekend. The days in between are unbearable

This is the pick-me dance performed naked. Please, please stop. It’s unbearable because you’re making it unbearable. I know that feels harsh, but you have a choice. You don’t have to keep rewarding him for his intermittent, shitty attention.

He texts me here and there, but nothing romantic. He said that he loves me a couple of times (I said nothing back), he compliments me too, but we have not talked about where I stand.

He doesn’t care! He knows where you stand — there in front of the stove cooking his dinner. And then fucking him nicely afterwards.

He is doing better lately

What? I’m sorry? Did he have a crisis? Did the poor boo have a hard time torn between two lovers? Is he a sad 70s song?

I am thinking that perhaps he is slowly re-introducing himself back into our lives. I don’t see why would he do any of this otherwise

Uh, to keep you as Plan B? To avoid an expensive divorce and child support? To wet his dick? I can think of a hundred reasons he is doing this.

Also, he’s not slowly reintroducing himself into your lives, you’re there cutting the ribbon, having a Grand WELCOME TO OUR LIVES opening. Self-esteem 70 percent off!

I do want my family back

Of course you do. And you can have it back. The price is this — a cheating husband who could leave you at any time. (Oh, and actually does Monday – Friday.) And you can make your needs itty-bitty and get that credit score up to 806. And do the mental gymnastics to live with someone who shatters your world and thinks he can buy it back with a luke-warm text message. What’s for dinner?

And you can win that. You can imagine he’s a unicorn, or a man of integrity, or a flying wombat. You can project all your hopes and dreams on him. He’ll still be a fuckwit at your table.

Your choice whether or not to serve him.

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.
  • You need to stop, not only for all the reason she said above, but it’s confusing AF for the kids.

    You know who told me this? My daughter, in the psych ward after her suicide attempt. I”f you guys get along so well why can’t we have our family back.”

    I slept with my ex for a year after the divorce waiting for him to change his mind. Then continued became a pretzel to make it easy for him see his kids, leaving the house so he could do visitation here.

    The kids needed consistency. They needed to accept what had ended and get used to what was. They needed a mother not tied in knots trying to make HIM happy.

    I listened, she stabilized, and just graduated early from high school. He lives alone on another state because he followed some 18
    Year old.

    Good luck.

    • I hope every parent in CL nation reads and internalizes this message. Kids also deserve a chance to grieve and move on from their parents divorce. They need that finality. Giving mixed messages of reconciliation really messes them up. I’m so glad your daughter is in a better place and has healed.

      • I hope parents read this as well. When the chump plays the pick me dance, the kids follow suit and also play the pick me dance. I think we all know how the pick me dance works out. Kids deserve a sane parent that protects them from the disordered cheater and teaches them it is not ok to be treated as second best or only receive attention when the cheater is feeling lonely and insecure.

    • This is great advice. Glad your daughter is doing so much better. I can’t imagine personally ever wanting to be with klootzak another moment of my life, but this is a good reminder in case I am ever insane and tempted to allow him back into my life. Stability and clarity about boundaries being crossed and no turning back is healthy for everyone.

    • So very true. I was 14 when my parents announced their divorce. I was devastated. After that decision by mom started banging my brothers soccer coach. My parents were still living under the same roof. Then there was a party in the neighborhood and I caught my parents kissing. I felt so betrayed. It’s an odd dynamic. I was a very rebellious teenager and I think a lot of it relates to their divorce and the time after. Be very careful.

    • MommaB — I’m so sorry you dealt with that. But I’m glad you were willing to post — it is sage advice.

      When I started to come forward to friends with how my ex had walked out on me and my then 9 year old son for his coworker, several male friends had very strong opinions that surprised me.

      One was my neighbor (a nice single man that I rarely spoke to but was right next door and sort of witnessed enough that I spoke with him). He immediately shared that he was just over the age of 50 and it took him that long to come to peace with his father. Apparently his father had left his mom when he was a kid and then there was a brutal back and forth with his mom. He said it was heartbreaking to watch his mom suffer. He wanted nothing to do with his dad for 25+ years. My neighbor is an incredible doctor and brilliant guy — and you could see how deeply this hurt him. He was clear that I should not let my ex back no matter what.

      And a man that has been a friend since college sent me a long email about how his father left his mom when he was around 9 or 10 (I never knew this and we had been friends for 20+ years). He was the very youngest and the other siblings were all out of the house. He said his mom felt like she needed to try to stay with his dad for him. And his dad would come back and a few months later — leave again. He said he was 13 when he sat his mom down and said to her to stop letting him back. He said that no child should have to be the one telling his parent to stop letting the other parent back. Then my friend said “whatever you do, don’t let (FW) back. It is the worst thing you could do for your son.”

      The incredible advice from these men helped me stay the course (although in my case, FW never looked back. But I also made sure — especially after that advice — that the door wasn’t even cracked).

  • Plenty of good men stay with women who are not tidy, who are overweight, and a bit lazy. They stay with women who are too sick to have sex. They stay with women who nag the hell out of them.

    The heartless husband here is in hog heaven. He can use her as he likes, throw a kibble her way here and there and she snaps it up.

    This is a sad account of low self esteem and tolerating abuse for ‘love’. Signing up for the HPV cervical dysplasia, chlyamidia, and herpes to please this poor excuse for a man and father.

    I have come to hate the word love. It is an excuse for having no boundaries and tolerating all manner of abuse and neglect. The word makes me sick.

    This lady needs therapy to find out why she tolerates this man.

    • Excellent point about the word “love.” My STBX continued telling me she “loved” me all the way up to the point that I finally moved out, 15 months after D-Day. What she meant was some quality of feeling, probably the feeling she gets when she gets kibbles from me. She did NOT mean live in my definition of the term, which is an action more than a feeling: being on a team with your partner, supporting them and acting with integrity with their best interest in mind. The feelings-based definition of “love” can change over time; the action-based definition shouldn’t. Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116…

      • LezChump, I think that “love” is so haphazardly thrown around that people don’t really know what it means. I think these FWs are actually INCAPABLE of love. They just don’t get it. Yes, love is an action, a verb, a way of living that comes from a place of trust and respect and fidelity and honesty. If you are a cheater, you do not live those values. You just don’t. You cannot say you love someone and be cheating on them at the same time.

        I think the word “friend” is thrown around way too much as well, at least by my FW father (FWF). EVERYONE is his friend. I think that anyone he can manipulate he considers to be his friend; anyone he pays to hang out with him is his friend. I’d like to see him take money, power, connections, and status out of the picture and see who still hangs around. He’s told me that some of his friends “love” our family. Um, nope. When you encourage an alcoholic to drink because you are an addict and don’t want to drink alone, that is not love. When you lie to the family about things related to FWF that you know you shouldn’t have done, that is not love. When you play Switzerland, that is not love or friendship.

        OP, this FW does not love you. He enjoys cake and you give it to him and he doesn’t want to not have cake so he says he loves you. But he doesn’t, he can’t, and he won’t. Take care of yourself and model for your children what love really is, otherwise you are setting them up for the same fuckery in their future relationships. You don’t want that for them, do you?

      • I so agree. Another word I think is very much misused is “care” as in “I care about you”.

        Both are very easy words to *say* , to translate the word into *actions* is another thing altogether. Ex fucktard told me, “because I care!” when he said he’d give me £500 towards my holiday, and I simply said, “why”?

        Needless to say, the £500 never appeared!

        It was an easy thing to say, probably made him feel better about himself and what he did momentarily, but the *word* was never translated into *action*.

        As you say, Lez, the words make them feel good about themselves, but the actions never materialise.

        What stunted, pathetic people they are.

        • Yes to this. I got into it with my exH right after we reached a financial settlement in which he wanted to pay for my health insurance until the divorce decree was finalized, because he “did not just stop caring about” me. I called him out that he no longer needed to pretend to care anymore. Gaslighting and manipulation at his finest.

          I am still working through cognitive dissonance regarding this huge discrepancy between the FW’s words and actions. This has been the hardest part of my healing process. I am so very thankful for a dear friend who right after DDay and me filing for divorce just kept repeating his actions to me whenever I would start to say, “but he said…” She provided the hard love I needed to keep moving forward and building back my self-respect and self-love.

          To anyone reading – REMEMBER THEIR ACTIONS AND NOT THEIR WORDS. And please adhere to NO CONTACT as much as you can given your personal situation. The sooner you get them out of your life, the sooner your healing can begin.

          • Yes, like “I’ll continue to pay all the bills.” This was as he ran away 3 weeks after dday. Shortly after he left he had the utilities in his name turned off without any heads up to me. Who does that? Fuckwits that’s who.

    • Hi QofC. If you have low self esteem that’s because you are caught in abuse. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE read about Narcissistic cycles of idolization, devaluing and discarding. THAT is what he is doing to you. He idolizes you and you feel wonderful. He devalues/discards you and you feel like the bottom of a shoe and will do ANYTHING to be idolized again. It has been proven that this cycle has the same effect on the brain as being addicted to heroin. The withdrawal from this man is similar to trying to break away from a heroin addiction. The ONLY way to do this is NO CONTACT. And this is immediate. All communication needs to be through either text/email or preferably a parenting app. Do not let him into your house. Set boundaries. Cry, yell, vent, feel your feels as you go through withdrawal. He still feels like he can use you and that’s why he is coming back. Your story and mine are not too far off. It hurts like a bitch but you can get through it. He has taken away your self worth. Now it’s your time to get it back and be even more amazing. My STBX told me the same.. “You are an incredible woman, I don’t deserve you”. One of the only true things he said and yup, I’m even more incredible than before. 3 years out from D-Day. Agreed on how kids get confused. Much better to show them that when relationships end, sometimes they end without any chance of friendship. Take this time, really work on yourself, fix your picker but don’t jump into another relationship yet. We attract what we emit. Watch out world… The Queen will soon take back her Throne.

  • Gray rock. Take back your power and protect yourself. Be honest with your lawyer about the booty calls. Be honest with your children about their father’s absence and set up the custody arrangement which meets your needs. You have lost the future you planned, hold on to your dignity for the future you will build.

  • My gosh, Queen of Chumps, you need to STOP IT.

    NOW!

    He is probably telling the other woman that he’s spending the weekends with the kids, not you. He’s her boyfriend five days a week and your “husband” for two? That’s messed up.

    Look, women more beautiful than you and me have been cheated on. Women with higher credit scores and better jobs have awful husbands, too. This jerk does not deserve your love. You may be in love with who you wish he was, and you may enjoy the sex but a serial cheater needs to be cut out of your life.

    I get it. Military men can be very attractive. There’s an intensity and a comfort with danger that pulls you in. That’s why so many online scammers pretend to be in the military.

    You need to stop spending time with this guy. He can take the kids out if he wants to see them. If you are willing, he can spend time with them at your place, but you need to leave. No more cooking for him. Don’t accept gifts. He can and should give stuff to the kids, but not to you. And for heaven’s sake stop sleeping with him. You don’t know where he’s put that thing or what disease he’ll bring you. Have you been tested for STDs? Have you had your COVID shots?

    Your family is you and your kids. That’s a complete family. He lost the right be part of your family when he started sleeping with someone else. You deserve better. Much better.

    • I wondered if this was an attempt to keep the OW under control. Who knows what he is telling her?

      Really nothing to work with here.

      Queen, this is tough. Come here for support, talk to a therapist but start putting yourself first.

    • I remind myself often that Jay-z cheated on Beyonce. There is no amount of perfect, rich, beautiful, or talented that you can be that will prevent these types of people from cheating on you, devaluing you, and making you crazy.

      It sounds like deep down you KNOW you didn’t deserve any of this. Hold on to that feeling. Write down everything he has done and said to you, read and re-read until it sinks in that he sucks. Trust that HE sucks, not you, and if you can’t drum up the feeling that you deserve better, at least admit that you don’t deserve to be abused. That’s the starting point.

  • Be careful on the having sex thing. In some states sex starts the one year waiting period all over again.

    And, have you talked to your therapist about what seems to be your “if I were just perfect” syndrome. You are plenty good enough, you can’t change his character.

    Love yourself and disconnect from the cognitive dissonance. He isn’t as special as he thinks.

    • “Be careful on the having sex thing. In some states sex starts the one year waiting period all over again.”
      This^^^^

      Even in a no-fault state, that was one of the first questions my lawyer asked me. It can affect ‘date of separation’, temporary financial orders and be construed as affirming the affair arrangement. Yes, BE CAREFUL. Also, get your STI panel done and stop sleeping with him. Yuck, you don’t know what parting gifts he may be leaving with you. Some of them are life-threatening-level scary. Don’t be naive. Also, for the love of all that is holy, do not chance getting pregnant!! No good can come of that.

      I’m so sorry you are going through this, but you need to stand up tall for yourself and your children. Immediately if not sooner. ((Hugs)) There is a ton of support and experience to gain right here at ChumpLady, that can save you a world of hurt, if you choose to heed it.

      • He’s dipping his wick in at least one (that you know of) other vagina, then in yours. Kimsoverit is right: you need to get tested. And stop having non-monogamous sex, because that’s what it is as long as he’s fucking who knows how many other women!

  • QofC,

    There are worse things than being divorced …. and one of them is staying in a marriage with someone who is doing everything in their power to sabotage the marriage. I would suggest that rather than seeing what would be your second divorce as another “failure” on your part, you try and visualise it as a major stepping stone towards a better and more stable life for you and your children.

    You and your children deserve a better life than the one that your husband is imposing on you.

    LFTT

  • Tracy, I love you. Sanity and sharp wit gets me every time.

    Queen of Chumps, I love you too, even though we have never met.

    Your husband does NOT love you.
    Love is a VERB, and what he is doing is NOT the definition.

    Love does NOT feel like you describe. Being ABUSED feels like what you describe. You love your children. Would you want them to feel like you do because of your conduct toward them? Would you want them to be treated by their partners like your husband is treating you? Staying with him is priming and modeling to those precious children their future partnerships. And that stuff gets hard wired.

    Snip those wires and jump off the high dive into the safety net of Chump Nation.

    Let the idiot OW’s have Benedict Arnold.

  • Queen of Chumps, you say you love your husband.

    I wonder if you love the idea of A husband. Some people will endure literally anything not to be the pitied ‘single parent’.

    But to be honest, what you describe here is trauma bonding, not love.

    You seem to be a perfectionist with a high need to be in control of everything. You might want to look at where those traits come from, and how they’re keeping you trapped in this mess.

    These aren’t the reason your husbands cheated, by the way. But your fear of what you think is failure is keeping you very compliant.

    Chump Lady is right. Divorce isn’t failure, and nor is single parenting, or being poorer than you once were, or having to move house and change schools.

    Is this relationship acceptable to you?

    • Seconding Lola.

      The trauma bond can keep you stuck. But you will pay a huge price emotionally and psychologically (full blown Stockholm Syndrome) if you don’t shut this shit down now. It’s dangerous. No marriage is worth this abuse. And, as the others in CN have said, your children will also pay a price. So, if you can’t do it for you, then do it for them. Let them be your motivation to get you all out of this living hell. Wishing you strength.

  • I do believe he regrets leaving you and feels guilty about hurting you, but he’s flawed and will trip up again. And that makes him too toxic for you and it really does mess with your kids’ heads even if they seem ‘fine’. What kind of role modeling are you two showing them? It’s not healthy. The first thing you’ve got to do is make plans to not be home for the coming weekends. So he will actually have to ask you first. Don’t water that garden. Leave unplanted flats on the curb with a free sign. Pray for strength and keep looking forward. Be strong. Mama. You have lives depending on it. Let him go because it really will all be ok.

  • The “you deserve better than me” phrase is a ploy to get sympathy and praise from you. He wants an ego stroke and another woman after him. My ex-husband said this to me too. My thoughts…well you could be better…you could be that man. His response “I could have said no. I could have been.” That’s it. He doesn’t care. It’s all about him. Unfortunately, that’s what I see with your FW. He doesn’t care. He thinks people are toys. You are his toy…when he needs you, he finds you. When he doesn’t, you don’t get played with.

    I understand the feeling of being judged for a divorce. I swore I would never get married more than once. I didn’t want to be another part of the statistic. Well, I also thought I married a genuine, loyal, sweet man. Nope, I married the devil who wouldn’t know how to be genuine or loyal if it was shoved up his butt.

    Get out. Take your power back. It’s hard. It’s daily. But your kids will look at you like the strong woman you are when you say enough is enough. Toxic people be gone. You got this! I’m still grieving the life I thought I had but I wouldn’t want it back.

    • “You deserve better than me,” is the sad sausage game. Oh poor him, the victim of his own actions!

      Mine had so many variations of this: “You hate me, I’m a failure, I suck, I’ll never amount to anything…” I always fell for it and would immediately drop whatever lie he told or abusive action he took and go about trying to cheerlead him and make him feel better.

      CL helped me realize the manipulation. The only answer to “You deserve better than me,” when someone is lying and cheating is “You’re right.”

      • Sometimes they take it even further by saying things like “you don’t care about my problems”, “you’re not interested in helping me”. It’s manipulation. My response was that I never gave him the same problems he gave me and that he made the marriage the way it became. So it was time to divorce – he especially didn’t like hearing this, or that it wasn’t up to him.

  • Please please read the first comment about the impact this has on your kids. There’s a zero percent chance your marriage with this guy works out and a 100 percent chance your kids are hopeful that it will and will have their hearts broken each and every time it doesn’t. Protect their hearts. Give them clarity and finality. Get them off this toxic emotional roller coaster ride. Give them the chance to grieve, heal, and move on.

  • ” I do believe he regrets leaving you and feels guilty about hurting you”

    On what evidence?

    All I can see is a piece of *shit* who thinks he’s got it made. Which, in fact, he does.

    A whore Monday to Friday, a wife Saturday/Sunday who cooks for him, has sex with him, and *asks for nothing more*.

    Queen of Chumps, all you are doing is giving this fucker a plate of cake and handing him the fork. Please stop.

  • Dear Queen,

    He is violating Article 134 of the UCMJ, he is committing adultery and you are tolerating that. He is not a good guy. He is a dishonorable disgrace to the ranks. He is a known liar and a known adulterer. You have nothing to work with here.

    That whore he fucks M-F? She can turn on him in a hot second and then say goodbye to your sweet military benefits. Get busy and get this sad sack of shit excuse for a soldier out of your life.

    I am still married to LTC (R) Moron. It has been a twenty three month battle to divorce his dishonorable ass. Get on it. Life gets better the farther away I get away from his abuse and lies. Adultery is abuse. Divorce him.

    • I wish it was easier to hold the adulterers in the military accountable. My FW ex-husband was still in the military when he was having an affair and got her freaking pregnant. She used to be in his unit when she was in the military. She had gotten out 1.5 prior to because she was pregnant by her husband. She was very vocal that she got pregnant to get honorable discharged. *eyeroll* Unfortunately, when I looked into the whole reporting of the adultery in the Army, I got a it’s not worth it unless he is high ranking. My ex wasn’t high ranking, he was lazy AF, was flagged because the lazy FW couldn’t pass his PT test after given several chances to do so. His 6 years were up this past January and he can never re-enlist because he didn’t pass his PT. He even knew that and STILL chose not to get his ass into shape and pass the freaking test. I would have loved to have seen him dishonorably discharged…

  • Q of C,

    I was in a similar situation to yours & I took him back. We spent another few years together. In the beginning he went out of his way to make amends but very quickly that dissolved into old patterns. I tried harder until I became sick. He treated me just as poorly as before, then it became worse. They don’t change and it’s not on you. Help yourself and your children. Go grey rock as much as possible, stop sleeping with him and cooking for him ffs. He doesn’t deserve you. Get out.

  • Queen…. this is messed up. You’re projecting and fanticizing at the expense of your kids and your chance at a peaceful authentic life.

    Choose you. Choose the kids.

    Stop all contact. After the trauma bonds loosen you’ll see how terrible this is.

    I understand— been there, done that.

  • There are certain people who will never have what you have Queen of Chumps………enough. That is their defect, not yours. It can apply to a lot of things like sex, money, drugs, alcohol, etc. No matter how much they have, they will always want more. It’s impossible to live with someone like that because it crushes your soul. My question to you is, have you had enough yet?

  • Queen and Mrs CL, (I don’t like calling you that)

    This one got me today!!! I’m emotional! Our circumstances are a bit different but the dinners, the gardening fixing things around the house. Compliments professing his “forever love”. Wanting to be “by my side and make this thing work”.
    Outside of having a lot of money/savings amd he leaving were similar
    I do not try to be super wife. In fact I barely cook maybe half time. (Anymore)
    I no longer want to cuddle or spend romantic days away like I used to.
    I make coffee and head out. I pray. Exercise when I can stand after working and being emotionally exhausted from this and lingering covid symptoms.
    I don’t say I believe you or I’m ok with this. I say nothing OR hey, I’m still over here working on myself how about YOU? As I see him scrolling through cars, keeps and drum sets for sale🤮
    My husband didn’t leave but it’s even harder this way. I have to make the ADULT decision of the divorce.
    He’s gardening for the first time in six years of owning this house.
    So you know how happy I’d been if the “flat of geraniums” were purchased prior to my knowledge of his fuckwittery? IN MY GLORY.
    What I’m saying is: nothing feels the same now. None of it matters. And yes it makes me sad. Yes it makes me question everything.
    I’m like a scared little rat with a super woman suit in the outside.
    It’s a mental struggle you probably shouldn’t invite to your otherwise beautiful productive life
    We don’t have all the money. No children(together)

    • Hi Shann,

      I’m the writer of the letter. This stinks, doesn’t it?

      Just to answer a few questions for my chumps here;

      1- I’m in therapy. 2 years worth and on my fourth now. I started antidepressants. This crap has been brutal

      2- FW is not in the military anymore. He had a nervous breakdown a few months ago due to the suicide of his close friend. That’s when everything went to hell.

      3. The kids are in therapy too. They are happier now that FW is around again.

      4. My lawyer knows about the intimacy

      5. My father is a serial cheater and I’m well trained on chumpidom. I am working on myself to fix me. I have put all my energy on to being better for myself and my kids. There is work to be done, and a lot of it.

      6. I believe he is sorry, but that doesn’t make him less of a cheater. I have a lawyer for a reason.

      Like you, I question everything. It is a difficult place to be. I question my thoughts, my actions, whether I’m too harsh or too kind, whether or not those geraniums will die on the driveway unplanted or would he build the garden of eden
      and make things right and whether or not I want the damn geraniums. I don’t know anything.

      That is why I wrote, to get slapped before I OD on hopium addiction or drive myself mad with the mixed signals or the clear signals.

      • CL is so very powerful in her writings… it helps so much! You are probably like me and most chumps here- very kind loving and dedicated. I’m so happy you and the kids have therapists. I do as well for the first time in my life and have been through hell in other ways. Funny how this drove me to therapy over any of that…
        your situation is heartbreaking and reminds me that I am not alone. WE are not alone. WE are not exempt from pain or trouble no matter how “good” we try to be. And guess what? That’s okay.

        I’m sorry he’s doing this to you amd I can’t engaging hanging on while he’s gone ALL WEEK. You don’t need or deserve this. Your children deserve piece of mind, as well. They’re watching.
        And believe me my daughter is. Ow twenty four and says mom- he did what he did and didn’t care. He buried his secrets cheating with his daughters mom for SIX WHOLE YEARS.
        I was tricked. She says he’s just a liar and doesn’t deserve this marriage anymore. It hurt her too because she saw me that way. I feel terrible that she even knows but it was so hard to hide.
        He’s “trying”. He makes dinners actually. He dug the garden. He fixed the house put in new floors painted and got my car all maintained. He now wants to sit and eat, watch movies etc. I am beside myself and can’t even believe all along he was capable of the things (THESE things) that mattered most.
        I’m praying for you please do the same
        We’re all in this together. Thanks for responding

      • #3 Really? Will they be happy when he leaves for the OW? Cheaters are not good parents. If they were they would never cheat.

        He will not build the Garden of Eden with you. Gardens take daily care and he is gone M-F. He is not all in with you or the kids. There will be no Garden of Eden.

        You are repeating patterns from your FOO. Please stop. Spare your kids the hurt and confusion and quit him. It occurred to me that he spends more time with her. She is getting wife time and you are getting OW time. Is that the message to send your kids? That you and they are only worthy of a part time love?

        I do not want to slap you. Tracy already used her 2×4 of truth on you. Reread her advice. Read it again and again and again. Read it until it sinks into your weary mind.

        I just want to force you to remove your rose colored glasses and see him for who he is. He is an abusive man. He is abusing you and the kids. End that pattern, that cycle of abuse now.

        You sound lovely. I’ll bet you are a prize. But you aren’t treating yourself like the treasure you are.

      • “3. The kids are in therapy too. They are happier now that FW is around again.”

        As to point number 3, they’re probably happier, in large part, because they think you two are gonna get back together and y’all will be one big happy family again. But that’s not true. This marriage is over. Even if you attempt to resurrect it for a short while, it will end eventually b/c your husband is a liar and a cheater and that train’s never late, and the kids will feel doubly betrayed.

        And, as unfair as this is, they may blame you–the chump–for ALL of it. For staying too long, for sending mixed messages, for HIS cheating…and so on. The longer this goes on the better case can be made for him and against you. Young people rarely get the nuances of cheating and attempts at reconciliation, etc. It often comes down to “who’s the bad guy and who’s the good guy.” Chumps regularly become the bad guy in their kids eyes. I read it again and again on this blog. I’ve also seen in many times first hand. I have grown ass friends who still blame their mommies for staying with their cheater father. They blame HER. They give him some weird pass b/c he’s a known dirt bag, but she gets all their anger. It’s not fair, but it’s a thing.

        So, please do consider ending this situation as cleanly and as quickly as possible. It benefits everyone. And there is no reason why the kids can’t see their father as much, or more, after divorce. Just at his place, on his custody time. And, if he doesn’t make that possible, then that is something they should me made aware of and given help to process.

      • “2- FW is not in the military anymore. He had a nervous breakdown a few months ago due to the suicide of his close friend. That’s when everything went to hell.”

        That’s NOT when everything went to hell. You said that he cheated and left two YEARS ago. That was the first time, and what crisis did he blame that one on? You went through all the emotional heartbreak of a second chance, and what did he do with that second chance? Cheated again.

        What person in their right mind uses a suicide as a license to cheat?

        • Yeah, that suicide excuse threw me, too. How despicable can a person get, and how can she not see how despicable he is. I think she must be badly trauma bonded to be so blind to who he really is.

      • I don’t understand the point of therapy if he is carrying on as you describe.

        I spent 27 years with Mr X and we had a therapist on board the entire time. His presence on the couch, lying lying lying unbeknownst to me, just kept the mirage going until he met someone he wanted to ditch me and our daughter for. All that money and time in therapy was a waste. The point of therapy is to see a change in conduct, communication. When I married him after 7 years together, I thought it meant we were solid. After getting married, and starting a business, and having a child, it was about Keeping My Vows. What I know now? I beat my head against a wall talking to him in therapy. I did not even know about the cheating until the very end. I know now he kept going to therapy to look good and keep the mirage going as I was of use to him in some way. Until I wasn’t.

        The point of ME being in therapy is to break the cycle of generational dysfunctional bullshit and NOT hand the baggage off to my daughter. That is why I am over and out.

      • Queen of Chumps, he is actually sending you very *clear* signals.

        1. He knows he can continue as he is, because *you* are showing him he can.

        2. He isn’t afraid of *consequences*, because you are showing him there are none.

        3. A flat of fucking geraniums is all the price he has to pay for fucking a whore Monday to Friday.

        4. No matter how much he disrespects you, you will swallow it all.

        For God’s sake, woman, get a fucking *grip*!!

        He is using you, and *you are letting him do it*.

        As others have said, what about your children? Is *this* what you want them to learn? “Yes, it ‘s fine with me if Daddy fucks around, he’ s working on the garden, and he left a flat of pansies, so everything is AOK, chickens!”

        I’m sorry, I really wanted to be sympathetic and understanding, but I just can’t wrap my head around why someone would be OK with such disrespect, let alone subjecting their *children* to it.

        • Chumpnomore—EXACTLY. I think this woman suffers from an unbelievably low sense of self-esteem, depite listing allof her positives/attributes. Her response to Shann sounds defensive to me……..but his friend committed suicide…but the kids are happy…..
          SO many insightful, spot on comments and advice from CL nation….I know it won’t make a bit of difference. I feel sorry for the children…..how can they respect either parent and their choices?? Very sad.

          • Queen,

            2 problems with your analysis.

            He’s had NO consequences for the cheating so why on earth would he do the “hard part” of making a marriage work?

            (He can’t even do the simple “keep your vows” part).

            Seriously.

            The fact that he’s not at home during the week SAYS EVERYTHING about what his commitment level is.

            He may like part time parenting and getting his daddy fix (and keeping you on the hook)

            but he’s NOT invested in the marriage the way you are.

            ^^^***That is self evident.***

            As for the kids and their apparent happiness, I get that. I really do. (Ask me how I know).

            But this “happiness” is temporary b/c – newsflash — HE is temporary.

            He WILL cheat again AND he will leave you ANYHOW (or put you in a position where you MUST file for divorce or eat bigger uglier shit sandwiches forever).

            So the kids will ultimately be harmed MORE by this “part time family” crap and dysfunctional set up. Again, ask me how I know.

            OMG Been there, done that.

            If I could go back in time I would not pick me dance at all.

            My ex’s behaviors showed me how worthless his words were, though I was hooked on hopium for over a DECADE of our 35 yer marriage (also military).

            No, if I could go back in time, I would file for divorce at least 10 years earlier, and I’d be that much younger when I reentered the job market and dating.

            But that’s how long I spent believing we were “making it work”. I was all in…and he was not. He hasn’t seen our 3 grown children in 4 years and if you’d asked me whether I expected that 5 years ago, I’d have said HELL NO. I’m Still shocked by it, which is annoying.

            Since I truly believe your marriage as you know it is over anyhow, you’ll only invest/waste more time with a man who isn’t deserving of you or the kids.

            I say with all the certainty I can, you must leave him. The marriage is over and the divorce will happen eventually anyhow.

            Let it be on your terms and get your kids to real peace (not the pretend, part time when it suits HIM type) sooner.

            You have nothing to work with here.

  • I dated a man who was separated. He had his own place and the divorce was filed and in the works. Turns out he was playing house with his wife every time he told me he was spending time with the kids. I got M-F just like your husband’s OW. His wife got the entire weekend – I was totally duped.

    He did everything to have his cake and eat it too. He ultimately finalized the divorce and bought me a ring – after I fully realized his game and dumped him. So, all of his wife’s accommodating didn’t get him back. They had decades together and three kids. As long as she was willing to roll out the red carpet every weekend, he would’ve used her (and me) until he died.

    • This isn’t even every weekend that he’s spending with the LW. It’s the past THREE weekends. Three weekends and an occasional text. Oh, and sex.

      That’s not unicorn material.

  • Have you explored trauma bonding with your therapist? Because if you haven’t, you probably ought to do so.

    Look, he’s doing the classic love bombing routine. He was horrible, so then he turns around and does a bunch of stuff. But have you noticed he’s not there 100% of the time? He is gone a good chunk of the week.

    He’s doing the same stuff my late ex-father-in-law did, though with a bit more finesse. Late FIL had a mistress in the city he lived, and would spend the week working and staying with her. Then he’d spend the weekends with wife and kids. Oh, and how was he nice? He’d bring back a pie from an Amish restaurant he’d pass while on the highway. His son picked up on the exchange. When CheaterX was with Schmoopie, he’d then return with sausages (I kid you not). It was his way of paying back for screwing around.

    That is what you have. A man who does stuff around the house–and by the way, buying gifts, fixing stuff, gardening are normal spousal activities–as a way of balancing out the fucking with other women thing.

    Good luck!

    • Ugh, kb, my FW father (FWF) did that with my mother. Jewelry. Jewelry was his “gift” …. so gross. I was helping her go through her stuff while moving house and there was so much jewelry I started wondering which piece went with which bad deed. And she didn’t even like jewelry. It isn’t her thing. I mean, she’d wear it if going out to dinner, but she’s not one of those women who is always 1000% put together head-to-toe and wearing jewelry.

      Oh gosh, I think I just had a self-therapy flash of why I don’t wear jewelry…. probably because the negative connection between jewelry and fuckery!

      • This is really interesting. CheaterX’s father was clearly interested in balancing out the equation, but with wildly inappropriate gifts. His wife, for example, didn’t eat the pies. And of course there was no one around to eat those pies, either. So the baked goods were a terrible gift because they went to waste.

        CheaterX also wanted to balance things out. He’d take Schmoopie out to dinner immediately after work, then claim he was working late. He’d bring home a take-out for me, but then beg off food because he didn’t feel well. Often, I’d already went to the trouble to make dinner! With respect to the sausage thin, he’d grab some sausages if he snuck in a brunch date, as there was a butcher shop nearby.

        If you talked with him, you would see that he saw relationships in a very transactional fashion. Therefore, it was really important that he “make up” for the time he spent on Schmoopie. Of course, after some time had passed, he stopped doing this.

      • The day after he first slept with the OW, he gave me a really expensive ($700!!) outfit to wear to the office.

        1. It was not my taste AT ALL.
        2. I wasn’t working in an office at the time.

        I returned it. It was years later and just after DDay that I happened to come across the receipt for that purchase. It matched up with the day he said they first had sex. FFS!!! Guilt purchase. Glad I returned it.

        Oh, and he criticized me for returning it. Classic.

  • Queen of Chumps, PLEASE take this little anecdote form my life to illustrate many of the comments here about ‘love,’ and what it means (or doesn’t) to fuckwits like your husband and my ex —

    I caught the Kunty Kibbler trying to meet up with one of her playmates after she formally and explicitly agreed not to do so. The subsequent text exchange went like this:

    Me: “Fuck you, KK. Do what you want. I’m done.”

    KK: “I know, you’re right, it was a spur of the moment thing that I should have thought through. I’m sorry. I need you to pull me back sometimes.”
    KK: “I know that”
    KK: “I’m trying”
    KK: “I’m sorry”
    KK: “Can I call you?”

    Me: “No. You clearly cannot control your impulses. I do not want to hear any more apologies from you, they have become meaningless.”

    KK: “They are not. I know I’m being impulsive. I’m making mistakes here. I’m being a bitch.”
    KK: “I know I love you. I know I need you.”
    KK: “Can we meet to talk before we get home?”
    KK: “I love you. I love you. I love you. I love you.”
    KK: “Please”
    KK: “I made another mistake. I know that.”
    KK: “Please let’s talk”

    When we got home, she threw up her hands and said, “I’m done apologizing. If you’re not going to accept it, there’s nothing I can do.”

    A month later I discovered that, later that very night, she messaged the playmate and told him that I gave her a black eye.

    ** When he says he loves you, it’s bullshit. What he calls ‘love’ is ego-kibbles, and they only flow one way, from you to him. When that flow stops, he’s not interested. **

  • Dear Queen if Chumps,
    Your letter today is almost word for word my story-I was Chumped in 2019 over a 24 year marriage with 3 kids.
    I’ve found personal work in trauma bonding very helpful in therapy. I’d like to suggest this as a possibility for you because of how you frame your letter with “I still love my husband”.

  • No, perfection in your daily life does not prevent your being cheated on, and imperfections do not cause your being cheated on. If you really don’t understand this, or you really do equate your essential worthiness to how well you cook, clean, look or anything else you do, then there’s a clue to your core issue here. FWs find people who believe things like this and hone in on them. Someone (probably a parent a lot like your two FW’s – sparkly in some ways but actually empty) taught you this and you need to unlearn it. Your absolute worth was born with you, before you ever did anything for anyone. The other thing to know is this…people who are screwed up and entitled often actually want the discord, drama and discomfort, and the angst and uncertainty around broken or relationships. This is energy to them. It’s home to them. It’s familiar emotional ground. It’s how they were raised and it’s all they know. Intellectually they’ll sound normal and tell you they value all the things normal people value in relationships – honesty, reliability, fidelity, etc. But they are actually driven by the feed they get from “winning” at the game of manipulative control, advantage taking, self service and all the other aspects of IRrelationship in which they were inculcated by other broken people. It’s how they generate their dopamine, endorphins and oxytocin. All the housecleaning, dinner making and credit scoring in the world can’t change or replace this.

  • What sort of man cheats, leaves and comes back when it suits him and only on his terms? What sort of father does this to his children? For crying out loud at least get mad for your kids. This man is the scum of all scum. He has no intention of repairing what he destroyed and he is giving false hope to you and the kids. A couple of days a week he plays family man and then off he goes into the wild blue yonder. Oh and you are afraid to rock the boat by asking him what his intentions or plans are??!! Change the locks, block his insipid texts/calls and get a balls to the wall attorney.

    • My FW father (FWF) was like that. It was always for “work,” which I believe, but I also believe that the work gave him the ability to have affairs all over the world – how convenient!

      FWF would play “father” the few days out of a month that he was home, and then he’d leave again for work, which was his first and constant AP.

      FWIW, from the perspective of a child, that felt like constant and repeated emotional neglect and abandonment. Eventually I didn’t ever want him to come home and when he was home I couldn’t wait for him to leave. Trauma bonding, baby!

      OP, if you are not willing to do this for your own sake, for your children’s sake, please get out of this cycle of trauma bonding and abuse. It is going to cause them great trauma, the results of which were described by the first respondent in this thread. Or I can tell you some of my own: anxiety, anorexia, suicide attempt, bad relationships, low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, lack of rising to potential, feeling “not good enough,” under-performing in school and life, and on and on and on. Other people may have drug abuse problems, promiscuity problems (or being taken advantage of sexually), cutting, running away, you name it. You are setting your kids up for just that.

  • OP, one thing I wanted to comment on as a separate answer is what you mentioned with regard to divorce taking a year in your state.

    When I got divorced I lived in a no-fault state and from the date of legal separation to divorce was a minimum of six months. I had no contact (other than mediation meetings) with my ex-husband during that time.

    You should research what the laws are in your state regarding the separation period. If you are playing wifey with him – and especially having sex with him, I assume that a bulldog opposition attorney would use that against you for sure – then you could just be pushing the time clock back for your divorce and he knows that.

    Get an attorney, talk to him/her about what your best course of action is (I would bet they’d say sex is a big NO-NO), and make a plan. Your FW is stringing you along because of cake, kibbles, and divorce would be bad for his image and his bank account.

    You take care of you!

  • Prepare yourself for the withdrawal. Going no contact is like cold turkey off of heroin. There was not an hour that went by that I didn’t hurt and want just a small fix. My big outdoor dog began sleeping outside my bedroom window – so sweet – doing what his little heart and soul could do to help me while I screamed in pain. I really did not know if I would survive it.

    Just saying that the withdrawal is ugly. But, as this CL community will tell you…….there is another side to get to. It exists and it is very, very worth it. Please step up to rescue yourself. You are worth it.

  • “I’m doing everything that I can to help myself.”

    Not nearly enough. Please try to work on your people picker a s self worth. This guy is just playing you. Listen to CL and CN

  • “No. He’s in power seat, secure in the knowledge that you still want him.”

    I think this is key for these situations. They are NOT going to change who they are as long as it is working for them. And when it stops working for them, they will (in most cases) find someone that it will work for. Yes I absolutely believe in that rare unicorn that will change themselves, do the work etc but they are rare indeed.

    Most will just find another chump, and if that chump will put up with them, they will stay with them.

  • I agree with everything Chumplady has said, but I would add that perhaps it’s time to seek individual therapy to figure out why you keep ending up here. You asked “what did I do to deserve this“ but I think perhaps what you’re really asking is “why do I still love this man who is not acting in my best interest“. If you find a qualified therapist, they can help you with figuring out the origins of your feelings and how you tick. This could help you fix your picker and find a third guy who’s like the other two.

    Instead of judging you’re situation, figure out how you got here.

  • This hit a nerve with me, as I too believed if I worked hard enough, was perfect enough, he would realize it and come to his senses. Our life was so objectively great, what else could anyone want?

    The ultimate answer is, you are absolutely enough (for you, for your kids, for the world) and never enough (for the FW, through no fault of your own! That is his dysfunction.)

    What I got while pick me dancing was him doing a tour to our friends to get their approval for him dumping me unceremoniously, because obviously I was so terrible. One day he actually said to me, an amazed look on his face, our friends think you are beautiful and wonderful, even though I can’t see it ….

    Ugh. I can’t believe I wasted so much time and self worth on that. Please listen to CL and invest in yourself, and if you can’t do that yet, invest in your children. You don’t deserve this, you are right! So don’t accept it.

  • CL this was a great line. “You don’t divorce a cheater because you don’t value marriage. You divorce a cheater precisely because you DO value marriage — and you refuse to live a sham.”

    You’re right, and it’s nice to think of it that way. I would have tried anything to save my marriage, but the moment my XW confessed her cheating, I put the divorce papers in front of her the next day.

  • I don’t want this to come off as disrespectful but I’m curious how you could read Tracy’s site and book and still not pick up on that cheating is a form of entitlement and has zero to do with how you look or anything you did.

    This is pick me dancing and cake. No consequences for any of this. That’s the only thing they will understand- consequences.

  • Queen…do you really want to stay with this cheater because you don’t want to feel like you failed at two marriages?

    Yikes.

    You mention that you have had two husbands cheat on you. You feel that you must be the problem because you are the common denominator. But this is NOT YOUR FAULT.

    Staying in the marriage is not the solution.

    It is not unusual for chumps to have more than one relationship that results in a cheating partner, often because important lessons about judging character, noticing red flags weren’t learned the first time. That is a totally different ball game than “you making your husbands cheat.” No you did not. But, perhaps, you have been attracted to a type of man with a predisposition to cheat.

    That is why so many of us take the time to heal properly, seek a lot of counselling, read so many articles and books. We detach from the source of abuse and work on ourselves (that’s the “getting a life” part). We work on our own FOO issues, become stronger in character, increase our currency and sense of worth and become forces of reckoning. There is a lot of re-training and re-wiring in our brains to sort through.

    And, yet, this is still no guarantee that the next “great guy” won’t cheat. We will never exercise that measure of control. But, we will exponentially reduce the probability by being better pickers.

    Save yourself. You salvation rests in you, not with this man-baby who now treats you as an option.

    Big hugs.

  • Dear Queen of Chumps, you said “ You can ask both FWs and they will tell you I was perfectly fine, fulfilled my all of my duties and that it was actually them, so why did they cheat on me? ”
    Yesterday, I was thinking about reasons for divorce. I decided that if I found out that I had been married to a serial killer, it would be a shock when I learned of his secret life, but I wouldn’t blame it on myself. If if I found out that I had been married to someone in an underage porn/child abuse distribution ring, it would be a shock when I learned of his secret life, but I wouldn’t blame it on myself. If I found out that I had been married to a mafia hit man, it would be a shock when I learned of his secret life, but I wouldn’t blame it on myself. So why, when I found out that my husband cheated, did I take the blame & start pick me dancing, take responsibility, & try to fix the problem? Why didn’t I see cheating & ignoring our family as just as disordered as murder or abuse of minors?
    The common denominator is not you. I think a lot of men take advantage of relaxed sexual boundaries. You stumbled upon 2 of them Somewhere in Tracy’s blog, someone spoke about the importance of leaving after the first offense. It’s not your fault that someone cheats, but if you accept that behavior and continue to believe in a lying cheater’s lies & fake promises, it will happen to you over & over.

  • Ummmm. Jesus needs to take the wheel. Or someone does. You’re doing ‘all you can’ no. He picks up your kids for set visitation and drops them back when they are done. Mom and dad don’t need to talk. No. Mom and dad love the kids. Dad doesn’t stick to the rules of- mom doesn’t allow girlfriends.

    You get that right now, you’re the side piece for him, right?

    Why would he want to change the narrative?

    ‘Hunny I know you don’t want me to cheat? But Yknow, then I brought over some begonias and ate your spaghetti and I figured it was good! You let me into your vagina. Does that not mean anything? I figured that was compromise’

    No.
    Just no.
    Truth by four- you love the facade.
    This isn’t days of our lives and frankly you’re not just messing up your mind and heart, this is totally going to mind fuck your kids.

    Keep the lawyer; keep reading CL, get my family wizard and a backbone.

    Try it for a couple of weeks and I (almost) guarantee he will flip to self pity or rage. Sure- right now he is on charm. But that channel won’t last once you’re actually enforcing boundaries.

  • When my marriage was blowing up, I went to several Group therapies where I met Chumps who had Cake Eaters and were doing what Queen of Chumps Cheater is doing FOR YEARS. Each and every Chump that was allowing this was basically a non-functioning mess. ALL of them could pass for 20 years older than they actually were, most couldn’t hold jobs, or friends. Their children were wrecks. It’s soul destroying.

    As CL says “Is this relationship acceptable TO YOU?!?!?” We can all agree here at CN that 99% of Cheaters would LOVE a harem. A wife for respectability, and 1-100 side pieces in addition. Value yourself more than to just be a member of the harem.

    • “ ALL of them could pass for 20 years older than they actually were, most couldn’t hold jobs, or friends. Their children were wrecks. It’s soul destroying.”

      I can vouch for this. I stayed too long after d day and my hair started falling out o looked 10 years older than I was, lost so much weight, nearly lost my job. In fact, only now am I slowly rebuilding at that job and some days it’s still in question as my memory is really bad now.

      I get it. I stayed trying to keep my family together. But it just took every last bit of my soul. I withered away and he slept fine at night.

      Just leave and stay gone. Or he will take whatever little is left of you and then you won’t have enough of yourself to escape.

  • Dear Queen, your letter has been with me all day, echoing my own story and feelings. It is so hard to resign to the fact that these people DO NOT even LIKE us, let alone LOVE us. They just like what we did for them.

    Like the movie White Tiger. We don’t have to murder our master but we have to get the hell out! Serve him! You are being used.

    And one of the ways you are being used is by supporting his fake, hypocritical “efforts” so that he can push his crap to the back of what little of a mediocre conscience he has left.

    You are young! Go for it!

  • I wish there was a poll on here so we could vote unicorn or narcissist… I would bet it would be 100% narcissist. The visual of that, might help Queen.

    Plus, I think your sign-off is apropos and tells me that you know in your heart that this is not acceptable to you and that you’re just floundering and hurt and taking any attention you can. You’re acting like the perfect “Queen of Chumps” – your perfection has spilled over to being a perfect chump partner for your spouse instead of spending time realizing that you deserve a better partner in life. Your kids deserve a better father than one who doesn’t face his actions and avoids consequences. Your world is bigger than him. Lock him out of your new world building activities. Spend time with the kids and yourself. Make yourself dinner… build your own garden… and grow your own life that doesn’t fall apart when a narcissist stops shining his love-bomb-light your way. You can’t heal and grow into what you need to become in his artificial light… you have to go out and get the sun and love from people who reciprocate… 7 days a week, not just 2.

    • I’m with Downtoearth, absolutely 100% of us would vote he is a narcissist!!All the way!!
      I get that you don’t see it yet, I didn’t either. You don’t want to give up on someone you love so very much. I know how impossible it is to see it all when you’re living it. We all loved so deeply and believed with our massively forgiving hearts that this person loved us with the same intensity that we loved them. They did not.
      It’s a lot to take in, believe me I know! And it hurts horribly!
      There are more ppl on this thread that love and care about you and your kids light years more than that low life loser that ‘blesses’ you with his magnificence every w/e, so you can be devastated the entire week after. Does that sound like love to you? It’s a cluster B mindfuck that doesn’t get the ‘erratic, dramatic chaos’ label for nothing. He is in complete ecstasy having you cook and screw and try to win him back. In his mind, no one deserves it more than he! (Entitlement on steroids!)
      All this advice you have been getting from CL and CN is pure gold and hard won by all of us and I sure as hell wish I had it before 38 years of marriage folded. It’s hard to accept it, but you seriously can trust us WAY more than you can that abuser, who sees no other person but himself and that can never change. Infidelity IS abuse!! It’s who he is, you didn’t make him that way. It’s not your fault!
      You will be shocked when you go n/c or gray rock and your sympathetic nervous system gets a breather after a few months and the brain fog lifts and you get out of freeze mode and start having unbelievable realizations and memories of all the incomprehensible things you put up with and the many many ways he abused you in plain site and you allowed it. Completely mind blowing! You just can’t see it when you’re there.
      He’s already shown you who he is, I don’t care if he plants an entire botanical garden in your yard, he WILL cheat on you again, he might just be smarter about it and go more undercover because he knows you are on to him. They are professional manipulators, insanely good at deception.
      Stay strong, you are loved and you are so awesome!!
      Get him the hell out like it’s a grizzly bear running wild through your house, because he will hurt you more than that and your kids too.
      Expect a complete personality transition,when his mask slips and he realizes the gig is really up for him. He won’t be able to play the games he’s trying on you right now. He will morph into a complete raging mad lunatic you won’t even recognize or he will feel so sorry for himself, you will want desperately to take his pain away and comfort him. He is incapable of love. It will all be part of the act. Don’t buy any of it.
      Protect your beautiful family, you are not losing them and you never will. Let him go and pray that he finds peace, you cannot help him. I know how hard that is to accept! You will rise like a Phoenix because you hold a very mighty secret you can’t grasp yet because of your ongoing trauma.
      You are capable of greatly loving yourself and your children, that’s your superpower. It will get you to the other side of the hell you are in right now. Love yourself and your kids with all your heart before you even consider another partner, you need lots of time to heal.I’m sorry for your loss. Best of luck to you. You got this!!
      He can only love himself and the future sadly will not look bright for him. Let him go.

  • You can choose drama and uncertainty.

    OR

    A lot of drama and uncertainty during the divorce, and then some level of peace and certainty.

    When deciding whether to reconcile on his terms or not (he has a personality disorder FWIW), I chose eventual peace and certainty. The divorce was awful but no custody or need for ongoing contact. By the end, I had zero doubt.

    Did I love him? Yes, I did. At times I miss him horribly and wish he knew how wonderful our adult children are. Not worth it though to be in contact.

  • I don’t want this to sound too harsh but your kids are in therapy due to his actions AND your reaction. If for no other reason you need to cut this POS out of your life and be the sane parent. You were not modelled good parenting but you have the chance to make the hard decision to model what it means to have boundaries around not being treated like shit. Time to stand up with your shoulders back, lean in to the storm and be mighty.

  • I smoked the hopium pipe and thought I still loved The Python – no, what I loved was the person he pretended to be. He wasn’t that person at all. The real him was a liar (let me count the ways: outright, by omission, and everything in between, so the lies over the years totaled in the thousands) and a cheater.

    The charming, funny, thoughtful guy was an act. He was in fact a selfish, manipulative, gaslighting asshole.

  • You still love him?
    You should love yourself more.

    You have this list of accomplishments in the introduction of your article. You sound like an amazing woman. Believe it.

    The time between his visits is unbearable?
    Never make another person master over your happiness.
    And only because you have put up with this very demeaning behavior until now, doesn’t mean that you can’t finally create boundaries today. Chump lady’s advice is awesome as usual.
    We all here cheer for you

  • QOC, if you read all the posts, you’ve seen the consensus. However, I don’t think you are ready to accept the truth of who your husband really is and that you are being abused.
    You asked CL for her advice, which your reply in this thread seems to indicate you don’t intend to take at this point.
    I don’t mean to be harsh, but you have to be willing to accept reality before you seek advice.
    What kind of a therapist do you have who hasn’t told you you’re trauma bonded to an emotional abuser, and that this is an addiction to intermittent rewards, not love? Genuine love has boundaries. It needs to be reciprocal. Addiction requires neither.

    I’m so very sorry for how this creep is using and abusing you. Please find a therapist who understands this kind of abuse. Don’t waste your time and money on one who doesn’t get it.

  • Scott Scurlock was the son of a minister. Scott robbed banks. Lived in a treehouse. Thought he was the coolest thing. It didn’t end well. Why did he do what he did? It’s a rabbit hole. Your FWs did what they did regardless. You are a victim. Those bank tellers were victims. People who are this narcissistic don’t care. Think about a day where you don’t know where he is, don’t care where he is, and it’s Tuesday.

  • Stay. Stay so you are in control. Stay and re-set the clock on that whole year-to-file thing.

    As a matter of fact, stay for lots more years and note carefully what he is doing whenever he leaves the house; earn your marriage police stripes. Try not to imagine them laughing at you while they fuck.

    Stay and wonder about what disease he is bringing to you as he wets his dick with her at lunch and with you that evening. Stay to examine where the sore on your lip came from after serving him up the nice BJ that he deserves because he bothered to come home that night, and enjoy the second hand taste of his whore. Try not to notice him smirk as he sees your disgust.

    Stay and watch your kids have anxiety and depression because they know what their dad is and how their mom puts up with it. Watch them close for signs of self harm and cutting, you know, in case they are not as resilient as everyone thought. Stay and watch them repeat the pattern with their future relationships, being abused or becoming abusers.

    Stay so you can be abandoned just when you get cancer or about the time you are ready for retirement. Don’t worry, he will assure you that you deserve it and that his sewer rat whore is simply a better person than you. You have always been so awful with your judgmental and controlling ways after all, and your years of humiliating pick me dance will count for nothing in the end. Only he gets the final say if you danced pretty enough, and – spoiler – chumps never do.

    Get it yet?

    YOU ARE NOT IN CONTROL when you let him come and go and use you like this. Stop being relieved because he deigns to pay attention to his children and home.

    This all sounds so ugly and harsh to say, and it is a hell of a 2 x 4. You must accept you are not in control, never were. You said yourself you are and yet he chooses the sewer rat. Time to be wonderful at kicking his ass out.

    He doesn’t care if you are in agony. Someone who can do what this asshat did and then sit smugly at the head of his dinner table like he is king of all he surveys CLEARLY HATES YOU.

    He is not confused. Why should you be?

    • Dayam! That was a hellova 2 x 4 and even though I’m divorced and 99% NC (selling house & other particulars) I think that benefitted me as much as I hope it benefits OP. Was having thoughts of breaking NC and that smacked me up and reframed things brilliantly. Thank you.

    • This is a cold dose of reality. And perhaps much needed for me today, as I was on the memory train thinking of what I though my life and spouse was like versus the reality. The new connect the dots I’ve made over suspected sti’s during pregnancy that just cuts like a knife. And I feel sure he likely knew and never once felt enough guilt or remorse or concern over the health of our unborn child to tell me! They are evil and not even human.

  • …..and I would argue that a sex life with a cheater is not healthy…..and I don’t know how it could be authentically satisfying…..

    https://theinstituteforsexualhealth.com/blog-3/

    I keep coming back to how sad this all feels to read and how damaging it is for everyone in the orbit of this deceptive, cruel, soul-sucking man.

  • That is the hard part, detaching from what we’ve attached to. I’m struggling with it too. It’s that I’ve attached to the dream, the lie he sold me. I thought he was x but he’s y. And I cannot be married to a cheating y. He’s done terrible things and yet still I’m sad and love him (so pathetic). I’ve been shocked, angry, detached, sad. Now I’m just so sad. Everything we’ve worked so hard to accomplish together is about to be divided on a spreadsheet. The realization that the person I loved was not even real! All the betrayal, the lies. All the while much like the lady in the letter I was killing myself to do it all and well! Is is terrible to say that I feel like I’m making a mistake by leaving. Please tell me this phase ends?

    • 100% agree with ☝️But the divorce has happened, the dream divided 3 weeks ago. He is on vacation with his current girlfriend, not the AP (she dumped him). 2 years since DDay. He doesn’t give a shit about me – and does not understand why his kids want nothing to do with him. It is hard, so hard, to let go of all of it. The good and the bad. But they suck. Trust that they suck. They do not care. They are not like us.

      • Ouch, ((hugs)). I’m learning there is no easy way though this, no fast forward in grief. I think us its a double (or more) whammy of grief. The loss of the life we thought we had, the loss of the future we dreamed about, and the sucker punch of ‘my spouse is a fraud’. Somedays it seems it doesn’t matter so much others, it feels so heavy. I’m sorry yours is on a vacation with this new girlfriend. Hard to imagine how they can do what they do, and you’re right we have to trust that they suck. They are wired differently that is for sure.

  • I have a slightly different take on this, Queen of Chumps.

    I would simply do this. Ask him if he’s still with and/or fucking the OW. If the answer is yes, then tell him to GTFO. A unicorn wouldn’t be with the OW. AT ALL. Ask for the other woman’s phone number if you don’t believe him (and personally, I don’t). A unicorn would be proving to you that he made a mistake, that he’s done. He would be moving the earth to show you that he’s faithful. He would be mending things with you. He’d be in therapy. He would show massive amounts of humility. I think you’re smoking the hopium pipe at the moment…you’re focusing on the feel good time and not looking at the bigger picture. You’re in denial – ask me how I know (25 years of it).

    What it looks like is that he’s using you to triangulate with the OW. Making her wait for him, telling her that he’s with the kids on the weekend. So, he’s getting sex with you on the weekends and loving the comfort of home, and then screwing the OW on the weekdays and not having to be around for the real married life. This is really, really shitty of him.

    If I were you I wouldn’t touch him without actual proof that the OW is gone and that he’s committed to what it takes to be a good, humble, accountable man. If he says he’s done, asked to talk to the other woman for proof. Follow him, have him followed. This has nothing to do with your fabulousness. You are amazing and he’s treating you like Plan B, sloppy seconds. Fuck that. Do not fall for it. And, as Chump Lady says, once he says he’s a unicorn…do you believe him? What happens when he moves back in and wants to go out with the ‘boys’ one night? Will you believe him? Or should you take your fabulous self and find someone who wants to be with you, and only you?

    Look, my husband told me about all his cheating on DDay – his hookers, his girlfriends, his new twu wuv. I was beaten down, horrified, disgusted, and then he tried to have sex with me. It’s not because he loved me and wanted to reconcile. And you reading this, would not think that either. Would you?

    Get proof – I feel like you are denying the real truth because it feels better to pretend. If he’s a unicorn, he’ll help you prove it. If he’s lying, he will run away and hide, oh, and blame you.

    You got this. Stay mighty!

    • These are all great points especially about okay- say he’s really a unicorn now what? The damage has been done. Can’t “unknow”. And let’s talk a bit about how the things were told and what gets disclosed is usually not half of it?!?
      I never had the opportunity to talk to my husbands ex with whom he cheated with. She’s now keeping his child (13 years old) away. I can only imagine how much I DIDNT know over the years.
      He’s been swearing on everything for the past year that it happened TWICE and that its been six years/now SEVEN.
      The problem is that he cheated when we first got together too. I found out from her
      Forgave moved on because we were still new
      Lord help
      Me and is all
      Thank God for chumpnation

  • THISSS:

    “You sound like a hard-driving, achieving sort of person and I understand not wanting to fail at something. And I’m sure FW#2 knows this about you, and that works for him. You’ll try harder. You’ll stick it out. That’s your go-to move for life’s adversity. So, let’s redirect that impulse. Try harder at YOU. Commit to you. Don’t fail you.”

    TAKE AWAY HIS CAKE.

  • I know you don’t want to leave this man. That’s normal. I won’t tell you to leave him either. But your’re here, asking for advice. That should be your first clue. You KNOW something is wrong. It’s the hardest thing any chump will ever do. You have come to the right place. The fact is, there are no perfect answers and I know you want to believe that you are the exception. Maybe you are, and maybe you aren’t. Ask yourself this. Do you want to live like this? Yes I know, we won’t all live the perfect life. When kids are involved it tends to hamstring us and make us think that we don’t have any other options. But let me ask you this. Do you think he’s thought about that for even one second? You think about it constantly. I know. No one wants their life to blow up. No one wants to explain this to their children, their family, their co-workers. YOU ARE NOT A FAILURE. Get that through your head. You are not dependent on this person for you’re happiness. You make that on you’re own. Not him, not you’re children, not your family. You are in charge of you. If you don;t get a handle on that then you will fail. AT EVERYTHING. It’s not going to be easy, but you need to take charge of YOU. Tracy taught me the most important word in my life and that word was NO!!! Do you even remember the last time you said it?

  • This guy has probably Never been Not cheating on you. You just didn’t know. With all of the reading that you’ve done…you’ve clearly missed the chapter on “Cake, glorious cake” (cue cake cartoon).

  • The common denominator in the “who is a jerk in this scenario” sense is NOT you. In that sense, the common denominator is cheating. Cheaters cheat. Liars lie. These two exes are both cheaters. Their shitty character is the common denominator in the cheating.

    In the “these two exes were both once my partner” scenario, the common denominator IS you. This is not because there is something wrong with you, but because a thing that is great about you was exploited and pushed to extremes. Your loyal, kind, and reliable nature went beyond a reasonable volume and got turned up to a hyper-accomodating volume by two people who have shitty character.

    So, stop choosing a scenario that puts you in the common denominator seat. Turn the volume knob on your goodness down to your half of the deal, and don’t turn it up past 50% again for anyone. We call that fixing your picker around here, and it is your ticket out of the common denominator seat of hyper-accommodating and exploitation.

    If the only thing you ever asked yourself about this guy was “is he giving his 50% to what we share?” you’d easily see that the answer is consistently “no”.

    And don’t make allowances for false equivalencies. If you and I are making spaghetti and I bring noodles and meatballs and you are supposed to bring sauce and basil but you bring bananas and brussels sprouts, you may have brought something, but it wasn’t 50% of what is needed for spaghetti. Bringing presents and saying fancy shit without meaning it isn’t bringing energy to the table with you and the kids, any more than bringing a hammer to a jello making party.

  • Everything CL says is bang on as usual. But in particular one thing that stood out is the reasoning by Queen of Chumps is that the cheater is “reintroducing himself” to the family and that’s why he is coming and going 5 days / 2 days.
    Yeah-No. The cheater is normalizing the abuse by making it look and seem like QofC is totally cool with the polyamory he is forcing on her, and knowing her deep-seated need to keep her family intact and to **not fail** CL perfectly skewers the A-type personality of **try harder** here.

    But the cheater also knows that this whole set-up buys him a few things:
    1. A narrative: that Queen is cool with the arrangement.
    2. Time: to figure out how to make this work FOR HIM.
    3. False Equivalency: And hey look Cheater is a stand up guy that gardens and **comes home** for his kids! No mention of the time he is spending on himself without them.
    4. Resources: this stone cold cheater is a deceptive Duck Liner Upper who is busy stealing resources from the old nest as he blatantly feathers his new one. A couple of things for the garden as he gaslights his family (and presumably anyone else he needs to manipulate) that he is such a giver and great parent. He is none of those things. He is a master manipulator and abuser.
    5. Options: cheater is weaponizing / gaslighting her with “I love you” as a way of keeping QofC compliant and on the hook of the Hopium pipe. The gaslighting alone is going to send her insane.
    6. Control: He is using intermittent reinforcement and trauma bonding on the whole family to prioritize himself. He doesn’t give a fuck about any of them or he would NEVER do what he is doing in the first place. But at the moment he is in control of everyone, including OW. Just the way he likes it.
    As the poem goes, this Queen needs a man with much bigger hands.

    • Addendum to 5. Options also refers to the Pickme Dance. In this way he keeps both Queen’s and OW’s pickme dancing tempo at the highest possible level. The cheater is delirious with the Niagara Falls of kibbles and keeping his options as wide open as possible.

  • I don’t mean to sound rude here, but the listing of all her qualities is a way to justify herself to others. “I’m great because….”. . There is no security in life beyond how you feel about yourself. It’s a realization that I’ve come to and actively work toward. All the things the OP listed can be taken away. And then what is she? Love yourself because you are. Not because of the things you do or what you look like, but just because you are. You don’t have to justify your existence to anyone.

    Stop enforcing a bogus social hierarchy on yourself and others. You can follow every rule, do everything right, and still lose. It doesn’t mean you are a bad person, it’s just life. You will be loveable even if you are not what society considers loveable. Be brave enough to stand on your own.

  • So much of this is me, Only my wife left me and our son to be with a man she knew when she was in the Army reserve. I was a loving and attentive husband and Father, Not perfect at any of those things but I did my best, I was stable, I loved her, our family and our son and loved spending time with her and our son, did my share of chores around the house and have done quite well investing in the stock market. But none of this made me immune from her entitlement and lack of morals or empathy for either me or our son.

  • Yikes. The writing is on the wall for all of us to see. Serious damage has been done to you and your kids. One way or the other you will have to work through that and move on without the person who has brought you all down. Sorry.
    He will be in your life (so to speak) until he dumps you or you crawl your way out. Either way, every day this relationship continues, you are letting him withdraw from your self worth bank account.
    It’s over. It’s in a deficit.
    End it now with the damage that has been done.
    Or it will end later with damage on top of damage on top of damage on top of damage.
    ZERO good will come of this.

    I speak from experience. I took H #1 back at least five times – as far as I know it wasn’t even because of this type of cheating. I projected, I couldn’t face reality. I was sure he loved me and that we would work out his MH issues. I was in a cloud of denial….holding on, taking care of the kids and him. When you are busy and slowly devalued, you don’t think clearly or have the energy to act.
    I would not listen to people who told me enough was enough. I thought they didn’t understand the true depth of our relationship.
    Each time he came back he was going to spend the rest of his life making it up to me.
    This is one example of where the ‘why’ is irrelevant.
    It doesn’t matter why you have been treated like shit. You have been, and continue to be.
    You are modelling accepting shit sandwiches to your kids.
    And as another chump mentioned, often the sane parent gets blamed for not protecting the kids from the drama / trauma.
    We are telling you the truth.
    You need to be away from him. You are worth way more than this.
    Face reality. Hugs.

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