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It Took Balls to Cheat on Him?

cheat on meDear Chump Lady,

Been married 15+ years, to the sweetest person ever. One reason I was attracted to her was because I knew there would never be a chance at infidelity. In 15 years nothing more than a few disagreements. I am rather passive and care free. In 2016 she changed jobs and over the course of the next few years, the drinking became heavy and daily, every few words were a f bomb and she started hanging out with divorced/single ladies who acted the same. This had me concerned but around family and previous friends she still acted sweet.

Fast forward to 2019 and she wasn’t being very nice to me. Once my son started walking and was no longer a baby (he is 7 now) my wife lost interest in him. It has mostly been me and him doing everything and her doing just enough for a Facebook selfie with him every few days. I have always done all the housework because she said it wasn’t fun but now she was fussing at me saying I only did it to make her feel bad. She would go shopping for 12 hours and not buy anything and I would mention something to her about it and I would get yelled at for trying to act like her mother.

I have always taken care of buying our child his clothes and she started fussing at me for buying stuff that was too expensive. She wanted sex all the time, but acted like I had cooties any other time and I was untouchable. Her work parties were not for families, but it seemed everyone took their family but her. If I asked why me and my son couldn’t go, I would get fussed at for not letting her have friends. Grocery shopping took her hours cause she said she was shopping for deals, but I still had to go get me and my son groceries to fix our supper. Every Friday became a girls night.

I would ask her if something was the matter and she would tell me I was having anxiety problems and needed to see a dr. She made me an appointment to see a psychiatrist and was prescribed medicine. I would ask later if there was a problem and she would say I needed my medicine changed because I was paranoid. By this time I did need medication, I felt like I was going crazy and was having horrible anxiety and panic attacks. Oh, and she suggested I get A LOT (a lot for me anyway) of money out of my retirement to pay our house off early.

Early 2020 I received an anonymous txt msg that said my wife was cheating with multiple people. I thought it was a joke and showed her. She said she would never cheat on anyone, but then said she had never loved me and was moving out and already had an apartment and turned into this evil person and just began saying all these horrible things about me. She went on a rant about how I was beneath her and as beautiful as she was, she deserved to be happy and could have any man she wanted. I said why have you never said anything? and I was screamed at and told if I were her soulmate I would know how miserable she had been for 15+ years. I said you acted happy…. she said it’s because she is a wonderful actress.

She leaves that night, only to come back the next day and say she wasn’t ready to leave yet. She would be in two weeks. So she locked herself up downstairs in a bedroom and stayed for two weeks then she left. We have rarely spoken since. Divorce is in process.

A week after she left, I got a phone call from a wife whose husband she had been having an affair with. Apparently he dumped her a few days before she moved out because he was mad she had lied to him that she had been divorced for two years. Not having social media, I did not realize that her 3x daily selfies were always without her wedding ring and all references to me had been deleted.

Oh, and the retirement money that was only in my name, I got it out and she took over half of it and has been living off of it. I feel like the biggest chump to ever live. Even after she admitted to hating me and being a great actress, I was taking up for her and saying no way would she ever cheat.

It’s been a year since this all started and I am doing better, but I’m still haunted by this and have nightmares almost nightly. She is on her 3rd soulmate in a year and is planning a wedding using my retirement money. Meanwhile the mere thought of trusting someone, much less dating anyone makes me sick. I have cut ties with most everyone I know. They all either knew about it or wanted to be friends with both of us. People who didn’t know, she has told some people she left because I had a drinking problem (I never drink), some people she told I was to focused on our son (which is true but someone had to be), and a few people she told it got so bad she just had to leave giving their imagination an opportunity to run wild.

A neighbor even said “You have to admit, it took a lot of balls to do what she did.” I said do what ? Lie, cheat, steal and then hide?

Will this ever end? I am going back to school to finish my masters degree and I got a great dog. We have joint custody, but she is often busy so it’s closer to 65/35 my favor. My son is miserable the time he is with her. I feel like I am in a nightmare that will never end and she has all the friends, the boyfriend and I’m just a bitter little man who can’t let it go.


Dear Justin,

Wow. Please slap your neighbor for me. If he stands there stunned just shrug and say, “You have to admit, it took balls to do what I just did.”

Actually, a slap is too kind. Go steal half his retirement account and leave him with permanent trust issues, then take his temperature on his admiration for ballsiness.

Gah. People.

And this is why this blog exists. Every morning I put this shit out into the ether, foremost to support chumps (you’re not alone!), but also with the hope that some non-chump reads and thinks, “Oh… this isn’t at all the exuberant act of aliveness Esther Perel promised me. This is… wrong.”

Justin, you ticked so many chump boxes! Gaslighting to the point of medication! Financial abuse! Character assassination! ‘Co-parenting’ with a fuckwit! Switzerland friends! Where even to begin?

Okay, here. Your ex-wife is not, was not “sweet.” She was a fraud. You fell in love with a hologram. Clearly, you’re a hardworking, loving person who was of use. And you bonded with that thing. I don’t believe she changed jobs and became a different person. I think she changed jobs and her character revealed itself. Also, hold out for better than “nice” or “sweet.” The Walmart greeter is those things. A partner needs to be a partner. Someone who supports you, who does their share (of housework, childrearing, caregiving). Sweet is pleasant, but it’s not substance.

I know you’re flinchy now (who wouldn’t be?!), but this distinction is important going forward as you work out the trust issues. Only someone NOT bonded to you, someone who wades in the shallowest of waters, could do this to you, could do this to her CHILD. These so-called “friends” could not care about you and watch her cheat on you for years. They are NOT your friends. There is NO substance there. Friend material exists, but these people are NOT it.

Oh, and your neighbor is a jerk. Or just exceptionally dunderheaded. I’m reminded of the Bill Maher comment after 9/11 when he remarked that hey, it took a lot of bravery to drive those planes into the twin towers. Really? You’re going to say that to a grieving country?

Back to you, Justin. Some people suck. (Your ex-wife. She sucks epically.) Many others are just weak and don’t care that much to be invested in your drama. Some are rubberneckers. (Those “friends,” that neighbor.) And other people are mensches, good folks who are worth the investment. A basic litmus test is if anyone hearing this story is APPALLED (✅ right reaction).

It’s been a year since this all started and I am doing better, but I’m still haunted by this and have nightmares almost nightly.

(((Justin))). The pain is finite. You just went through an incredible trauma. I’m not saying you won’t have scars, or even the occasional nightmare, but you won’t always feel engulfed by these feelings. She will NOT be the central story in your life, she’ll be the challenge by which you measure yourself. A thing that was overcome, not a person (hologram) you miss. I know that’s hard to believe at this stage, but you’ll get there.

How do I know? Because you’re on the other side. You divorced her. And you’ve lived and persevered through the worst (medicating your anxiety at being gaslighted? Multiple D-days?). Now your path is sane parenting and new-life building. It’s MUCH, MUCH better because you’re at the wheel. Not a sociopathic motherfucker.

She is on her 3rd soulmate in a year and is planning a wedding using my retirement money.

Didn’t this woman have a JOB? How is it she got half of your retirement money? Look, you still sound young. Money can be replaced. Your wasted years cannot, so thank God she’s out fleecing Soul Mate III.

Meanwhile the mere thought of trusting someone, much less dating anyone makes me sick.

That’s normal. Take time to heal. You sound like a wonderful, caring person and I promise you, you are not a unicorn. There are others. It just takes some time bring stability and peace into your life. Why deny yourself the comfort and support of friends, or a future partner? I hope you have real life support from a REAL friend or two or family. You have this community (and apparently people Zoom and stuff over on Facebook and have meet-ups.) And I hope you have a therapist who understands abuse.

Look, it just takes time to move past the horror. Your whole life will not be horror and horrible people. Baby steps. Don’t expect a lot of yourself now on the big Will I Trust Again? question. You will. With discernment. And you’ll realize we don’t get guarantees, but we get boundaries. Believe in your resiliency. You have ample proof of it.

I am going back to school to finish my masters degree and I got a great dog.

Awesome! You’re mighty right out of the gate!

We have joint custody, but she is often busy so it’s closer to 65/35 my favor. My son is miserable the time he is with her.

DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT. Parenting software, everything you do for your son and the time you have him. When you hit a critical mass (consult your lawyer), you go back for custody.

I feel like I am in a nightmare that will never end and she has all the friends,

Your nightmare ended. She is OUT of your life, except as a fuckwit you do hostage drop-offs with for the next 11 years (failing a court remedy). That can be survived. Ask thousands of us how we know.

She doesn’t have all the friends — she has all the vapid nitwits who don’t judge her. Don’t mistake these people for friends. Demote. You have higher standards now. In wives and in friends.

I’m just a bitter little man who can’t let it go

Is that your narrative or hers?

You’re a mighty man who loves with his whole heart and is sane parenting a son who will look up to him, and admire how he handled adversity. You’re a man with an advanced degree and a great dog. You’re a stock that trades highly.

What’s her narrative?

Oh, I’m sorry I can’t hear it. It went out for a Girl’s Night and never came back.

Pay it no mind.

Stay strong, Justin.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • She’s probably a serial cheater. They never stop cheating.
    Under the circumstances I’d DNA test your son. He’s your son became you raised him but…..
    Get STD testing as well. You have no idea where/who she’s been with.

    Sorry you’re here but you will have a better future/life ahead. No contact is your new best friend.

    • Oh God, the DNA test – it’s one horror that women chumps at least don’t have to think about! I’m so sorry for you decent guys out there!

      • I think a lot of male chumps don’t really want to know. That small human being is your child. You’ve bonded with them. You changed their diapers, nursed them through illness, put bandaids on their knees. Comforted them. That’s what parents do.

        It would be really hard to find out that the child was not your biological child and then continue seeing the child in the same way. Sure, you’re the parent in every single meaningful way, but it would probably be a huge shock to find out that, after all you’d thought, this was not your biological child.

        • I have never been unfaithful to my children’s father, HE has mounted anything that stood still long enough to let him…. he insisted on DNA tests on the children who look so much like him they could be clones…. He projected his actions onto me.
          If there was any feeling left, that burnt it out of me pronto. It also confirmed that my picker is so broken I will never trust it again.

  • I found this article very triggering as it’s very very similar to my ex wife. I dealt with the drinking and hiding bottles around the house, the white trash broken homed friends she started hanging out with, the cheating with tons of guys, the pathological lying and on and on. I also had 15 years with her.

    You’re not a “bitter little man who can’t let go”, you’re an abuse survivor. It hits home when you accept and realise that you are an abuse survivor and it takes time to heal. My ex wife portrayed herself as sweet and little miss mid west country girl who only wanted a husband and kids and to be a good wife and mother. Except she turned out to be a monster and the biggest regret I’ve ever made. I’m also an abuse survivor like many here on CL.

  • This is maybe the worst chump story I’ve read on this site. I am SEETHINGLY angry for you, Justin. Please know that there are people in this world who care about you and what you’ve been through, and are proud of you for taking such good care of your son.

    • This was definitely up there for me too. Justin – you didn’t deserve any of this. Your ex-wife is a total monster. That is some of the most disgusting gaslighting I’ve heard about in a while — literally driving you crazy to the point of meds…. and she was the one making the appointments for you at the psychiatrist. She’s beyond a narcissist… she sounds like a sociopath.

      Justin — keep being mighty ….caring for your kid, getting your Masters, getting a dog… and please get support from a great therapist who can help you work through the abuse and trauma you’ve endured. You will survive and thrive and be happy again. I’m sorry for all you’ve been through. Welcome to CN.

      • I had a FW who caused me to have a nervous breakdown. Took him 5 years to physically leave and up until that moment I was taking benzos with vodka. On bad days I blame myself but my almost adult kids say I’m not crazy it was him.

  • “She will NOT be the central story in your life, she’ll be the challenge by which you measure yourself. A thing that was overcome, not a person (hologram) you miss.”

    This whole article is brimming with wisdom but this may be the brightest gem hidden amongst all the others. I wish someone had told me this back during the bad days. Hold that thought, Justin, it is so true. You sound mighty.

    • Yes, I also kept reading that gem. I may need to hang that up somewhere to look at regularly. Your life story is not about the FW. It will be about your rise like phoenix.

      I hope Justin gives an update down the road. Things will get better. He is heading in the right direction.

      • Don’t. It gives them centrality. Also measuring anything against them or seeing overcoming them as a challenge just seems like even more centrality, I’m not on board.

        I hate the narrative of “everything happens for a reason / something good can come out of every bad / they did you a favour” etc etc.. Anything which subtly relabels trauma as an educational life lesson is just repulsive to me.

  • Dear Justin:

    It seems from what you wrote your wife has been honest with you twice in 15 years. One is that she is a great actress. And two, that she hates you (see last Thursday’s article.)

    Someone who can wear a mask and act their way through life has had a lot of practice. She was like this before she even met you and she will never change. I thought my husband was a completely honorable man and I adored him. When his mask dropped on Dday, I curled up in a ball for three days and could not move, just cried. For three days I did not eat, drink or go to the bathroom, just lay there whimpering. He, on the other hand, took off for Vegas.

    These people. They come in with a flame thrower and burn everything that you thought you had to the ground, including you, the faithful spouse. It takes a long, long time to recover, every step an effort and painful, and not one damn part of any of it is easy.

    But. On the other side is beauty and peace. A real life and not a mirage. A foundation of truth for you and your son to stand on and feel safe and secure. You can do this, Justin. You have demonstrated strength and integrity and these will power you through to the other side. The horrible days will get fewer, and eventually some mediocre days will pop up. Rejoice! Mediocre is better than hell. And then some good days. And then some really good days. And finally, one day, beauty again and peace.

    You got this, Justin. And we, your fellow survivors, are rooting for you all the way.

    • I agree, it takes a long while to recover from hideous betrayal like this. It took me over a year of intense work to begin my new life. I don’t trust anyone outside my family anymore. I tried dating and met some nice men, (I guess they were nice; I never saw most of them more than once). However, there was no one I could relate to in terms of total honest trust. I prefer to remain single and now my life suits me just fine.
      Justin, your life was firebombed. That sucks. Please take your time healing. Someday, you will not be bothered by her anymore. You are free; it just doesn’t feel that way yet.
      Godspeed to you and your son.

  • This is very familiar. 15 years with a very “sweet” person who never helped around the house and then became a monster with changed circumstances. I’m my case it was her getting baratric surgery and completing nursing school (both on my dime).

    And I lost half my retirement, the house and one of my dogs. I’m deeply in debt and my credit score is shot while hers is now great although it was the opposite during the marriage. Oh and I am the one who is fat now after being a healthy weight through most of the marriage.

    I guess where I got lucky was that I had real friends that stuck by me and stopped talking to her. All I can say is that people will eventually start to see her for who she is and will start to see you for who you are.

    Also,, this is still recent and we’re all dealing with extra pandemic trauma. Give your healing process time. If you feel you are stuck, seek counseling. If you are able, try to find new social networks by joining groups with similar hobbies, etc. It will get better but not as soon as you want.

    • So sorry, Erasure.
      This is confirmation to me that there are very decent people who got very badly defrauded by cheaters, with enormous consequences, and who would make very good partners – should they want to re-partner, of course.
      Thanks for posting.

  • Don’t DNA test your son without talking to a competent family law attorney in your state. In most or all US states, you’re the presumed father if married to the mother, and being a parent gives you far more legal rights than being a stepparent. Be careful about jeopardizing any basis for legal rights regarding your son.

  • Justin (or newly chumped),
    First—> so sorry this is now your story. I’m sorry for the pain.

    BUT, this is a gift!
    You will grow and learn and become so proud of who you are. Trust me.

    It will take time. Longer than you want. But if you let the process happen, let the feelings come and go, it’ll happen faster.

    Don’t date too soon. Well, don’t get serious too soon; you’re evolving into who you’ll become. Put your child first as well as self-care.

    It is a process, but if you let it, it’s powerful.

  • Justin,

    Your story is my story. Mine got a new job too and Ruth it, a new personality. My person he was gone for good once the children and I got replaced by strangers that were in his eyes, so exciting and alive.

    I cut out if my life the majority of my friends. I can’t tolerate Switzerland friends, forgive me so don’t have time to praise FW for putting his desires above everyone else and abandon his wife and kids for his “woke” friends that “enlightened” him into a world of drinking, partying, easy sex and not giving a fuck about his family.

    And to those that think you are bitter, they would be too if that would happen to them. We are trying to rebuild after the atomic bomb was dropped on our lives and home with no explanation or warning. We have kids to tend to and a home to built, so forgive us for being exhausted and traumatized while cleaning the rubble alone and trying to make a home and a life away from the toxicity of adultery and the devastation of abandonment. We have more questions than answers, and we are still not only be required to “get over it” on a whim, we are also supposed to smile, be happy for them and live on like nothing happened , well something happened that was wrong and unfair, the worse offense that one can commit against your own flesh and blood, so I’ll be damned if I have to pretend nothing happened on top of everything else. Bitter? Nope. Sane is more like it.

    • I suspect that people who don’t have a strong internal sense of self – their own set of morals, values, likes/dislikes, etc. – are more vulnerable to drastic personality reboots like this in response to social pressures (including pressure from work colleagues) and to changing life circumstances (aging, increasing wealth and power, etc.)

      • Yes, that’s what my therapist said. She saw us both separately off-and-on for years. She observed that normal, whole people don’t do major reboots, particularly as we get older (mine was a gray divorce). When someone takes off in retirement and rebrands themselves like my ex did, the internal sense of self isn’t solid. She also saw aspects of borderline personality disorder in my ex, and that’s very much part of it.

        Me? I’m really about the same. I live in the same town, have the same work, and have many of the same friends along with some newer ones of like values and interests.

        I ended up viewing his choice to go many states away as being the end of the marriage although it took awhile on multiple fronts. He told his family he wanted to reconcile, but I think that was largely a show. He was awful during separation and the divorce.

      • I always wonder “what is the point when a person becomes an asshole?”

        In the case of my FW father (FWF) – was he always an asshole? Even if he was, when did his latent assholery become a central figure in his lifestyle? What amount of money or power brings out the asshole in a person? There’s a shift, I know there is. The question is – when is the shift?

        There was an article in the NYT on Friday about a blogger-turned-influencer and her staff said that in the beginning she seemed to be a person of integrity, living her life in accordance with who she appeared to be in the blog. And then at some point she turned into an asshole who shit all over people. I want to know what the turning point is!

        • I don’t believe decent people can all of a sudden turn into assholes. I believe people can shut down in many ways due to life circumstances but to turn intentionally cruel, even after whatever life throws at you…no way. Intentionally cruel people were always assholes, they just had the ability to cover it up for a time. The turning point is when they get comfortable or secure enough to be able to behave badly without worrying about ramifications.

          • Makes sense. Also, aside from getting comfortable I think sometimes they work themselves into a corner where they have to fight their way out to save whatever is most important to them. If that is themselves or their jobs, the betrayed partner will take the hit.

            If the betrayed spouse can help save them, they will choose the betrayed spouse, at least until they are safe to do whatever the hell they want to again.

            That would explain why so many go back to the spouses (fake recon) then leave them again later, when coast is clear for them.

            • Yes, I agree with that. Mine was in a corner for sure. The way he fought out of that destroyed our family. I got a few sentences of apology and a high conflict divorce that confirmed what he thought of me.

              My ex retired and then took off two months later to a local hotel. He tried to kill himself a week later. In the hospital he claimed an about face and was going to address the problems. He came home with meds and plans for therapy. He never took the meds and quit therapy. At one point I had a horrible sex-related infection that our internist really questioned, but I insisted my husband was faithful. Everything spiraled down even worse, and then he took off on a solo vacation that became separation that became divorce. He was always highly evasive about how he spent his time after he left. I chose not to spend my hard-earned money finding out.

              When we separated the second time, he went far, far away. After a lot of therapy, I realize that he was a troubled man who looked to me to fix his turmoil. Ultimately he gave up on that, heaped the blame on me and our adult kids, and took off permanently. Now he’s doing whatever single men in their 60’s who are trying to erase their pasts do. It’s been several years since I saw him. The divorce was done long distance, and we are not in contact.

              As I said in another post. Nothing really has changed with me. Same work and same friends with a few new ones thrown in. The adult kids and I live in the same area and are close. I attend the same church, go to the same doctors, and get take-out (ala COVID) from the same restaurants as always. Life is good!

      • This seems to be very true: personality reboot in response to social pressures.

        The unfortunate thing is that at least some of these same people have an uncanny ability to make it seem that they have a strong sense of self for quite a while, and in some instances for many years, decades at times.
        It requires that catalyst to come along to reveal them.

      • My husbands XW had a loose sense of self and a new best-buddy who told her she would be so much happier without him. Normal people don’t bend and change like that. My mom had a loose sense of self and changed with every new friend and change in the wind

    • “We have more questions than answers, and we are still not only be required to “get over it” on a whim, we are also supposed to smile, be happy for them and live on like nothing happened , well something happened that was wrong and unfair, the worse offense that one can commit against your own flesh and blood, so I’ll be damned if I have to pretend nothing happened on top of everything else. Bitter? Nope. Sane is more like it. “

      Well said, Queen of Chumps. Sanity is recognizing disorder. Sanity is working for a just situation. Sanity is not ignoring evil. Sanity is not pretending.
      There are people out there who feel pleasantness trumps everything else. Clearly they didn’t have this shit happen to them.

  • Justin,

    Sending big internet hugs out to you. I’m sorry for all you are going through. You’ve foung the right place to regain your saniy.

    I had to cut ties with a beloved aunt who during one post dday conversation cut me off & said that some men just have had enough & need to walk away. She was talking about my cheater husband who moved out 3 weeks after dday. I never saw it coming as he was a lovely person until dday. My point being my aunt just didn’t get it but we here do & will be by your side always.

  • Well, I’m the luck chump from this article.

    I would like to mention that even though her actions and behavior are what led me to see a psychiatrist, looking back, I am very fortunate I went. Over the course of the past year or so, medication may have been what saved my sanity. It did not fix the problem and they were not “happy” pills that made everything great but they did get me through a very rough time. So rather than being severely depressed or worse, I was able to function. So I encourage anyone to get medical help if they are really going through a rough time.

    Also the DNA test is unneeded. He looks and acts like me and even if he was not mine I wouldn’t care. He’s my buddy.

    • Hi Justin,
      I’d just like to echo others in my support for you.
      I was married to a “really nice man”— or so I told myself — for 30 years.
      I ignored many red flags.
      He very much like your ex wife became mean snd very dismissive to me over the last two years. He did things your ex did and much the same told me he regrets ever meeting me.
      His new “friends” are in the form of young 20 something year old college girls that he’s met when he decided to go to community college.

      And when I confronted him he too said I would not let him have friends.
      He treated me like I did not exist, even at the end expecting me to give him 20 dollars a week to provide food for me. I was not allowed to ride in his car. He did not speak to me even though we lived in the same house.
      And I could go on and on about his cruel treatment.
      It amazing to me how many of us have such similar stories.
      I’m just at the beginning of the divorce and I’ve had to seek mental health care diagnosed with ptsd and severe depression. And I am on an anti depressant just to help me get through day to day.

      CN and good friends are the other things keeping me going.

      I’m sorry you have to go through this.
      Just know there are many of us out here and we support you.

    • Have your son with you as much as possible. You don’t want your child with living with that toxic woman. However, (and this is important) you have to let her think she has the upper hand and she is getting away with shirking her parenting responsibilities. Once she realizes you actually want your child with you the majority of the time, she’ll be hell bent on making sure you get even less time and if the child suffers, oh well, “thems the breaks”. Follow CL’s advice on documenting but be careful. I cannot stress enough she will make your life and your child’s life hell if she thinks you are trying to go for full custody or in her mind pull one over on her. When your child reaches the age of 12 he’ll be able to handle a lot more than he can at the age of 7. So please bide your time. It’s unfortunate that you were deceived by this woman. She was never sweet, she played a part that most disordered defects will play. The last years of your marriage was the real her, the mask fell. When you start to reflect back on your marriage, with a clear mind, you’ll recognize the signs or actions you missed or swept under the rug.

    • Justin, your response about your buddy brought tears to my eyes. He’s incredibly lucky to have you. Sending big hugs.

    • Justin, hire a P.I. to document that she is an alcoholic and whatever else she’s up to. Have your son seen by a child psychologist to determine if he’s being emotionally abused and get reports on it. It will be valuable for getting custody. But whatever you do, don’t let her find out that you want full custody until you have all the info you need to be sure you can get it, then let your lawyer handle it.
      I would also demand the half of your retirement she stole back as part of the divorce. Don’t let her get away with it.

      You’re doing an amazing job with your son, and you aren’t bitter, you’re traumatized.
      What she did was straight up abuse. She’s an evil person. The priority now is getting your son the hell away from her. It will get infinitely better when she is out of your lives.

      I also had a spouse who seemed to change after being around new friends. What really happened is that being with overtly shitty people emboldened him. His fake “nice guy” persona no longer held any appeal to him once he’d seen others get away with being blatantly scummy. Your wife sounds cut from the same cloth. If you look back, she really wasn’t sweet. She was lazy, neglectful and made you do all the adulting. At least you’ve learned from this what to look out for in people. Surface niceness is easy to fake, but see if their actions match. Are they responsible, respectful and honest? Do they do their share? Are they giving and caring towards others or are they selfish? If not, they don’t belong in your life. I know it’s cold comfort now, but later this new perspective will come in handy.

    • Justin,
      I am so very sorry for you. No one deserves to be treated so badly. One thing for sure is that you will get a lot of astonishingly dumb remarks from a lot of people…IGNORE them!
      You’re son is very lucky to have you and I am so glad that you found this site. (Although it’s a club that we never wanted to join.)

    • I absolutely agree with getting medical help if needed. I went on antidepressants for a short time. I could not function and I had just gotten a new job and all I had left was my job. I went off them after about 9 months and never had to go back on them.

      Had I not had that medical support; I can only imagine what might have happened. With the meds I also went to a group counseling program that was for folks who were already divorced. Though our d was still pending, it helped me tremendously to focus on me and getting stronger.

      I will forever be grateful for both the medical and therapy I received.

      I likely needed more individual therapy; but what I had was a tremendous help. Between that, prayer and the support of my Dad and my older Brother I made it to safer ground. I think if I had not had those things, he might have been able to terrorize me further.

    • You’re so right about medication/therapy being useful when it’s needed – usually just to deal with the AH partners. As for your son, that is absolutely golden. You’re a lucky dad and he’s lucky to have you!

    • “Also the DNA test is unneeded. He looks and acts like me and even if he was not mine I wouldn’t care. He’s my buddy.”
      That just warmed my chumpy heart. I really admire that. Its not the child’s fault, and if he’s not yours it could hurt him in the long run.
      Strange how most of us think the problem is us, and we go to therapy, request medications and usually the root cause is the disordered individual in our lives. I’ve wasted a lot of youthful years with my FW, and I realized today how over the years how his methods changed. When I met Mr. Sneaky he wasn’t as sneaky as he is now, he used to leave his keys in his vehicle. Fast forward and the keys to his vehicle never leave his body. They fool us and prey on our trusting and kind nature.
      In hindsight there are red flags we likely missed (I know I did).
      People say really stupid things when you disclose that your spouse or x has been cheating. I’ve heard some really crazy ones too, and its is hurtful. The average person is so uninformed about cheating and what it is really like. The damage that is done to families and the abuse that it is. I’d imagine your neighbor wouldn’t say that if it were his wife?

  • First off, required daily dose of reality for chumps:

    Cheating is ABUSE, and cheaters are losers losers losers. Gold medalists in the Loser Olympics.

    I need some time to recover after reading Justin’s letter before I can respond. I feel sick, disgusted, and furious, and I am so grateful that precious baby has Justin for a father and that he is divorcing that female poor excuse for a human.

    Justin, I am so sorry and glad you’re here.

    Be back later.

    PS….Yesterday I went to bed at my normal time. I woke up briefly around 1:30 am and went back to sleep. There were no dreams or nightmares, just pure sleep, and I woke up at 7 am. This is the first time this has happened since DDay OCT 2017.

    I’m getting better.

    • This is the Omar Minwalla I posted about a day or so ago. He gets it. His post on “the secret sexual basement” is worth the read (and re-read).

    • VH. Thank you for posting the link to this article. Yes I need to read this everyday.
      I remember one incident when my stbx told me his sex life was none of my business! At that time I had a feeling he was way into looking at porn until late hours. He sure was not spending time with me. That was years ago and another red flag I ignored.

      Before I finally left, his whole life was a secret. I had no idea who his friends were, what classes he was taking or what he really did with his time. Except he did not work…
      I hope your sleep continues to improve.

    • VH,

      Glad you’re getting better, and thanks for the link!

      While reading that article, I was reminded of how sheepish my then-husband was about the Viagra prescription he obtained about two years before Dday. I chalked it up to his feeling a bit embarrassed that he should need a bit of a boost when he had sex with ME. But I think he only used it when having sex with me to make sure it worked! He wanted to be firing on all cylinders for his much-younger AP. Of course, he made me feel it was because I was “lacking” that he needed Viagra.

      Anyway, fuck him and the horse he rode in on.

      Also, today I am feeling grateful that I left that sorry excuse for a man. I only wish I could have avoided the trauma and betrayal part. Damn, I’m happier now.

      I wish the same for all of my fellow chumps!!! Thanks for being here. And thank you CL for providing this forum and the daily dose of insight, chuckles, support, and spine-stiffeners.

      Oh, and thank you for saving my life (sounds dramatic, but it’s true).

      • And the saving-my-life part is directed at CL!!!

        But this community also keeps me propped up. Thanks!!

      • Oh yes, the viagra that I paid for that he refused to even use. At least with me he refused it. I could never find it in his medicine cabinet. I think he used it on with one of his young “friends” when he was out of town for a school function.

        These people are really all the same!

    • VH thanks for posting al this and for mentioning sleep. I’m so happy for that you’ve finally had a full nights sleep.

      I thought it was just me. It’s been 3 years and counting since I’ve slept through a night. I have nightmares most nights. Its impacting my health significantly at this point, and my memory is very poor now. Its really broken me, making me think it will always be this way and I’ll never sleep again. Maybe there’s hope it will stop afteralll.

      • I’m only three months from leaving snd just getting started with the divorce. Even with meds I don’t sleep through the night snd I too have nightmares and wake up with panic attacks. I’m glad to know I’m not the only one. I know I have a long way to go…

        • Ready to Move On,

          You’re very much in good company when it comes to sleep issues.

          Add to that list an inability to concentrate. It was a year before I could read any book other than one about infidelity or narcissism.

          You’re only three months out. Know that it gets better.

          Oh, for what it’s worth, I’ve found that a weighted blanket is helpful.


      • My doctor presribed Imovaine to help me sleep. It was a godsend. It flushes out of your system quickly. People argue about sleeping pills. But maybe the ones who sleep well have not experienced continuous trauma. I also hadnightmares for three years. I still have them ocassionally, even at 7 years out. So i know how ragged and haunted you can feel. Take care. I hope you can find the right prescription. We all need help sometimes.

        • Thank you. I think it’s time for me to get some medication. I can’t seem to manage on my own.

      • I likened it to my brain being on a hamster’s wheel – the turning & the ruminating just wouldn’t stop. Three months from dday I had a nervous breakdown & was prescribed Seroquel at night. I was a miracle as I could finally sleep through the night & only had the hamster’s wheel during waking hours.

      • Perhaps you could ask your doctor about magnesium supplements? It’s supposed to help with insomnia, I’ve read. My boyfriend takes it some for his insomnia. I hope that your sleep improves F&L.

    • Props to ADELANTE for turning me on to Dr. Minwalla.


      A big giant velvety hug to you.

  • Chump Lady gave you the advice you need, I just have an aside on custody.

    Your son is 7. In a mere 7 years he will be 14. She is already doing less and less. At 14 he will start having “other plans”, things to do, places to go. Do the documentation thing, in case you need to hire an attorney, but chances are you will not have to spend the money.

    When my children were born and I was married, I sill was a single parent with primary custody, regardless of the legality. My Narc saw less and less of his children, by his own choice, because of options that were more fun. Soon, the children started blowing him off (Dad, I have a sports event, Dad a group of us are going to a movie ) and he saw very little of them. Of course he could, but he didn’t. Didn’t cost me a dime.

    This last year with covid, and his health, he didn’t see his children face to face. He has bad health. Ok. But we arranged to see each other and took precautions. That was and will always be my priority. It sounds like yours, too.

    Just a possibility. I had to watch my pennies and choose my battles. I was lucky, it worked for me.

    • Interesting point that you bring up around the passage of time and how the cheater fades in parenting. That’s something to consider in negotiating parenting agreements.

      My ex was only interested in 50-50 as an assurance out of paying child support. We have a child with a disability who couldn’t handle sleeping 50-50. With the aid of family counsellor, he let go of several nights so that our son could have a more consistent sleep pattern. I never breathed a word about child support or custody. I started to have the kids about 65% of the time (2/3 of their lives).

      I started to make myself available for child care with his new job that sometimes made it difficult for him to pick up the kids on time or switch days. I maintained flexibility and documented. At the same time, all of our son’s therapies were scheduled for my days (we tried 3 days with him and the therapist told me to stop wasting money as my ex was not engaging properly). I take the kids to every appointment, keep in contact with the teachers at school, sign them up for every extra-curricular activites. And, I document.

      In the parenting agreement, he insisted that he wanted to maintain joint-custody with the kids in decision-making. I agreed to that. Not once has he suggested anything for the kids. Every email is initiated by me to basically fill him in on what’s going on. I end each one with, “Thoughts?”, and he’ll send me 2-3 sentences basically saying he’s fine with everything.

      He wanted the agreement to say that we’ll revisit the arrangements with the kids in three years (which is end of 2021). I hesitated to agree, but my lawyer said that if I collect my infomation carefully, there is no way he can force a change to the access without it going to court, and he likely won’t bother because any lawyer will tell him that after three years and the kids doing really well, no judge will arbitrarily make a change to the arrangement. Plus it would take two years minimum in court and he’d be out at least $25 000. Our son will be almost 16 by then, so no point.

      So, I agreed to things on paper and then let him be himself. Justin, work with your lawyer in figuring out how to discreetly build your case when it comes to access to your son. Quietly ensure that are fimly embedded in all aspects of your son’s life. Get a counsellor for him to deal with the issues he’s encountering in his mother’s house and also to just help you parent through this. Should this end up in court, it also works very well in your favour to show that you have been seeking professional guidance in parenting while she’s been doing nothing.

      Let her do what she does. Don’t help her parent. If she doesn’t want to see him, continue doing your thing. If she doesn’t take you up on an offer, document (Mine has chosen not to see his kids on the acutal day of their birthdays for three years – even though I offered the first two years for him to see them because their birthdays landed on my days with them. Mine said he was fine waiting to see them on the day he has them. This past year, I no longer bothered offering.). If she later tries to accuse you of withholding your son, you will have documented all the ways that you were open to her seeing him but she chose not to.

      Many people have asked me why I waited a year and a half to hammer out the separation agreement and then another year and a half to file for divorce. It’s because I laid low building my case and letting him dig his own hole. Eventually, he signed on the dotted line and we never saw a courtroom. I have my kids almost 70% of the time. I kept the marital home so my kids are at the same school with the same neighbours they’ve known all their lives. Stability, safety, security is what I give them, and it only cost me the consultation fees for my lawyer who understood how to play the game with patience.

      You are hurting, I know. But you are smart and you will feel more solid ground under you when you get yourself some good professional advice and make a plan.

      • This post is full of excellent advice. The piece I like best is “don’t help her parent.” I did far too much of that. Explaining all the ways he lied to them and I explained or covered for him would take too much space, but I suggest you start now with a simple routine wherein if Mom doesn’t show up, you and your son move on after a brief window. (My lawyer said I always had to wait one hour–even if that meant leaving them sitting in the school lobby for 60 minutes or waiting with them at sports practice in the park for a full hour before asserting custody in his stead and leaving, but my EX was litigious). Make no excuses and show no concern about her absence. Make it all an opportunity for more time together. Don’t say a negative word about her and never feel obligated to say a positive one either.

        It’s been a tough decade in some ways, but my kids don’t call their dad when they have a problem or when they want to talk about a success. The only person their dad wants to talk about is himself, and they have that figured out. (They are far more accepting of their father than I’d prefer, but most kids need to love both parents, and we just have to accept we’ve supported their mental and emotional health by not demonizing the jackass and being the stable one).

  • I know it is hard to see it right now… I couldn’t see it for almost 24 months after Mr. Sparkles moved out… but my life got infinitely better by NOT being married to a cheating fuckwit. I promise you – the pain is finite. You will get your Tuesday.

    My son, like yours I expect, realizes he has a shithead parent and a sane parent. He’s asked himself if he’s just a “prop” to his Dad (answer: yes)… but he knows where he is loved, where he is valued, and what healthy boundaries look like because as we always say here, it just takes one sane parent. He and I hang out… I cheer at his games… I take him and his friends to shoot paintball… I talk to him about his feelings… all of it. Your son is lucky to have you and visa versa. You don’t need an abusive spouse to make a family.

    Take your time to do your healing. Fix your picker. Build trust with yourself. Pay attention to everything you are doing right because I bet there is more than what you are giving yourself credit for and your son is watching. Teach him resilience by living it yourself. You’ll get there.

  • Oh bud. She kicked you good. What a bag of bad.

    I want to assume that the neighbor is just obtuse and has no understanding how it hurts. Maybe they were really just gobsmacked at how evidently evil this person is. To the point he shoved his foot right in it. Just a ‘holy fuck I knew some folks are assholes but this bitch really has the dial turned up to 11 on being a full fledged balls out mindfucker’ …

    The Switzerland friends need the message: ‘if you’re seriously thinking cheating on our family, exposing me to unknown risk of disease and leaving me isn’t abusive, you need an emotional reckoning. I need friends, not fake folks who don’t hold folks accountable for being an ass. So. Get in touch if you have scruples, morals, ethics, character- all that cool stuff and we can meet for coffee. Otherwise? I pity your other friends and hope no one actually depends on you, because that’s shitty. Cheers.

  • I still find it hard to process in my brain how seemingly good people can do evil things. Those wrong things people do when they think no one can see, and the rationalizing acrobatics they will go through to escape consequences. I think the worst part of evil behavior is how small and petty it is, but in total, is a horror. And people with integrity – well. We can either respond in kind or just walk away. Because contact with them just destroys us. Run, Justin. Run to the light and don’t let her shadow touch you and your boy any more. Hugs

    • Evil people are great at playing or acting like decent, upstanding folks. They need to perfect this act to draw unsuspecting good folks into their web. Ted Bundy is a perfect example of how an evil person can act like a caring, pillar of the community. How he was able to draw unsuspecting young women to trust him and then do the unspeakable. He got away with these atrocities for years. Later though he got messy, out of control and was eventually caught.

  • I feel so much of this, could have written it myself. 20 years and the FW cheats and lies and betrays. 15 year old daughter is devastated. I’m broken. Been over a year since she moved out. Legal wrapped up in February. 50/50 with the daughter slowly being seduced into her new glittery life with FW and the Fat Ugly affair partner. Family and friends want me to be over it. I’m still crying everyday, limping through life. I have moments of mighty, but she won. I lost. I was chumped and society worships her and her affair partner and see me as a whiny, bitter bitch. There is no justice. Evil wins. Is the pain really infinite? Because I see no light at the end of this hell. Sorry she did this to you. Trust me, I understand how raw you feel and how hopeless.

    • Double Chumped, just exactly what did she win? A fuckwit.

      Did your daughter jump into their new life? No, she had to be lied to, and seduced into it. When the glitter runs out – as it always does – then we’ll see. (She’s 15; they have toddler-like priorities.)

      Cry every day. Go for it. It’s not a crime, nor is it a sign of weakness. It’s a sign of grief.

      ‘Society’ doesn’t worship either your Cheater or their affair partner. If you think that, then you need to get off the social media where you’re reading this shit.

      Good, normal, decent people – and there are millions out there – don’t EVER think lying and cheating is okay. They hate liars and cheaters.

      You don’t go to court to get justice. You go to court to get money and ideally a roof over your head. Courts can’t ever give you justice.

      Justice comes from real life. Justice comes from a pair of genuinely bad people finding each other, and having to live with that consequence on a daily basis. Water finds its own level.

      You’re not a whiny, bitter bitch. You’re an abuse survivor who’s really hurting.

      Evil hasn’t won. Not by a long shot. Meanwhile, come here for daily help if you need it. Everyone here gets it.

      • Lola Granola…. That’s exactly what I needed to read this morning. In fact I’ve copied it word for word into my journal. Thanks x

    • Most kids are really tough for a couple of years between 12 and 20. It is hard to remember how much of a “stage” it is when they are criticizing everything, complaining about everything, laying blame everywhere, or refusing to do anything that would be healthy or helpful. Then they grow up. I am not sure if it is a great evolutionary trait or horrible one, but even once they mature, they will rarely look back on those years and acknowledge they were horrors (they’ll still think you were the one who was too strict or too demanding or too old-fashioned or too something).

      I know it is hard, but use the space you have from your daughter for yourself. Do things you like–whether that is baking bread or joining a karate class or volunteering or getting a dog or taking a class in coding. Seeing you flourish will, oddly, be part of what will make your daughter interested in spending more time with you eventually. Your EX is trying to compete with you–but they are setting the rules, paying off the refs, and cheating–so they are bound to win. Refuse to play.

      It is hard to let a teenager go, especially when they are being seduced by a selfish parent, but I hope you can find ways to put yourself first without feeling bad. You deserve to enjoy your life, and the fact that your daughter is spending time with her other parent does not make you any less wonderful of a human being.

      Sometimes we run into jackass, complacent parents who say things like “Oh, I don’t know how you do it. I couldn’t bear to be away from my kid or let my kid live with someone else.” They are idiots. They think they are “safe” from the pain we are experiencing. They are just lucky. They are no different from the jerks who think they won’t get lung cancer because they don’t smoke. Righteousness is not security, but only experience teaches that.

      I am sorry you feel so devastated. Loving is hard.

  • Hi Justin just wanted to let you know that it will get better and better. You walked through hell. That trauma doesn’t leave easily. I’m four and a half years out from life with a worm and life is good. You will get there too. Bon voyage Justin!????

  • Dear Justin,
    Although I imagine that going to mental health professionals is now triggering for you, I hope you have found a DIFFERENT therapist/psychiatrist who specializes in trauma, so that you can try some methods like EMDR. You don’t have to suffer through PTSD alone.

    I also have to say, a red flag for me in your account was all of the selfies posted to social media by your ex. Even if she *were* wearing her wedding ring…that is a sign of serious personality disorder, and a very unstable sense of self that constantly needs validation. If you ever date again, please don’t assume that all women are that self-absorbed.

    No wonder you were breaking down even before your first D-Day, Justin. There are real physical effects of extreme manipulation and emotional abuse. I really hope that you can continue to heal, esp. with professional help. Your ex clearly is an unstable person, and you are well rid of her.

    Finally, re: custody: this BS about your ex not taking your son for scheduled custody time should be grounds for re-evaluating custody. It is NOT okay or normal for her to keep you guessing. I hope you’re documenting *every* time it happens, and consult with your lawyer about when you might be able to file a contest. By that time, your ex might be ready to sail off into the sunset with a new family – and while I hope she would at least pay child support, many chumps here have decided that it’s worth it just to cut ties and forget about the support (if you can swing it financially).

    All best to you and to all chumps dealing with trauma – which is pretty much all of us. While you’re clearly mighty, Justin, I understand all too well how everything is so much harder for a while after that kind of betrayal. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other – and ask for help! ((Hugs))

    PS: there’s a ChumpLady subreddit as well as the Facebook group. A lot of us prefer Reddit because we can remain anonymous there and not have to juggle multiple FB accounts. My understanding is that the FB group is a little more of a free-for-all as well, with more members who haven’t actually read CL’s work.

  • This sounds so much like what a friend of ours is going through. She got a new job, new single girlfriends, going out with “them” and coming home at 5am. He couldn’t do enough around the house to keep her happy. Found out she cheated with a co-worker and soon it progressed to dating profiles. She said the most vile things to him. Tried counseling, of course it didn’t work.When she was moving out to an apartment, her 7 year old asked her to keep some clothes home because she might want to come back and she said something like “never”. He has the 2 kids. Filed for divorce. My husband and I were both chumps, and of course we broke off contact with her.

    Justin, it will get better. You’ve weathered the worst of it. These cheaters, be it male or female, are truly unoriginal. Hugs to you and your son.

  • Fellow male chump here. Ironically this is posted on the second anniversary of my divorce being final. Three years since “I’m not in love with you and never have been…” and 5 years since D-Day(anonymous letter). I wish I could say it’s an easy process and goes quick. It doesn’t but the work you put into healing will be so worth it in the long run. It definitely changes your world perspective. You WILL get through this. You’re hurting for the life you thought you had and the life you wanted, not what really existed. It’s sucks but you’ll get there. I loved almost the same experience. I’m not saying my ex was a whore I’m just saying she was probably cocked more times than John Wayne’s rifle. It’s hard to accept but once you do, you’ll continue on the healing path. Sorry brother, you got this!!

    • LOL. Good stuff, man.

      I’m envious of an anonymous letter tipping you off. I always wonder if anyone else knew other than the APs. I played detective and figured it out and then saw the affair with my own eyes. Pretty blessed to have discovered more than what 90% of betrayed spouses probably ever do, so there was no continued delusion.

      Life is certainly better not having to cater to a person like the ex. But they have done everything they can to drag the divorce out, which is frustrating to stay in limbo when you just want to untether from them.

  • A year out is too soon to date, anyway. Give yourself much more time.

    Your son is still really young. At 7, he needs a good, sane parent to be there for them. Trust me, once he’s a teen, he’s going to spread his wings, not need you so much, and you’ll be able to breathe to figure out your life- hobbies, interests, meeting new people, dating even.

    In the meantime, do self care for YOU! To stop the nightmares. The gym, a therapist to talk through, etc.

  • One of the most common things I see here is the belief that a demonstrably disordered and cruel person just changed because of a new job or boredom or after some life challenge. Justin, you still think for 15+ year you were married to ” the sweetest person ever.” What I see is that after your son was no longer a baby (e.g., a source of ego kibbles) she lost interest in him. What I see is in 2016, her drinking got out of control. What I see is that she never did her fair share of housekeeping or child-rearing. What I see is a person who got bold enough to essentially sever her social life from you.

    None of this suggests she was ever the “sweetest person.” What makes you think there was “never a chance at infidelity” with this woman? Did you tell her this was an issue and she reassured you? There is no relationship, ever, that has “no chance” for you to get badly hurt. I knew a woman once who had a head injury after a car accident and then left her husband. She wasn’t interested in her former friends or activities. Her brain literally changed. What makes infidelity unlikely is good character. Back in the old days, people might have called in “honor” or self-respect or decency. The other things that make infidelity unlikely is empathy, affection, shared values, and a shared life. So half of that is learning to be a good judge of basic character–does the person have empathy, kindness, honesty and honor as part of her character? The other half is choosing someone who wants to be a partner–to share responsibilities and challenges, to invest time in the marriage, to work toward shared goals.

    So moving forward, fixing your picker will be key for you–not just in choosing a dating or marriage partner but in friends. You can learn to distinguish between acquaintances who come and go in your life and who are not in your circle of trust and close friends, who have earned the right to be part of that circle. My BFF drives me crazy sometimes, but she would never betray me, ever. Don’t let people into your life as friends until the earn your trust.

    You mention that you are “passive and rather care-free.” That’s one thing you need to take a hard look at. Being too passive is an invitation for abusers to enter your life and ransack your heart and your wallet. This is the one area where therapy can really help you to learn to have boundaries and a set of standards. Being easy-going and carefree can be a good thing when life is well-ordered and running smoothly. When your wife has a drinking problem and refuses to parent your son–that’s a five-alarm fire that you are ignoring.

    My guess is that your X is a deep disordered person and thus you’ve experienced significant trauma. None of that is your fault or responsibility. But as you recover and start to think about making a happy and mighty life after divorce, you will need to develop some new skills, new standards, and a set of boundaries that make it far less likely to encounter another such person. Trust is not about finding a “sweet” person you think won’t cheat; it’s about learning to choose people who have high character and then having boundaries you are willing to enforce. I spent most of my adult life dealing with drinkers. Never again. That’s a dealbreaker for me. Would I stand for a man who didn’t want me as a social partner? Nope. Would I settle for financial inequity? Nope. Seeing a therapist with experience in dealing with trauma will help you be less passive in those areas where passivity allowed a sociopath to gut your life. Once you trust yourself to protect yourself by choosing wisely, you’ll find the world has many people like you who are trustworthy and giving.

    • “Trust is not about finding a “sweet” person you think won’t cheat; it’s about learning to choose people who have high character and then having boundaries you are willing to enforce.”

      Gold. Thank you so much.

  • Justin: This is so much like my own story.
    *Sweetest person ever. (It was an act.)
    *Behavior changed (as soon as the ring was on her finger).
    *No interest in caring for the kids.
    *Heaving drinking: Staying out until 5AM-6AM coming home drunk and stoned.
    *Didn’t do the housework, and lashing out at me for doing it accusing me of trying to make her feel bad. Like you, I did all the housework and was attacked for doing it. However, if I missed anything, I got attacked for that as well.
    *Not doing the shopping, but criticizing the shopping I did for the family. On those rare occasions she did ‘shop’ there was nothing to show for it, and I too had to go to the store to cook dinner for the family.
    *Wanted sex all the time but then ignored me apart from that.
    *Financial infidelity. My retirement money is in the Public Employees’ Retirement fund, so she couldn’t get her hands on it or she would have. Mine spent my tuition money twice with nothing to show for it (we married when I was in college). It cost me medical school because my prerequisite courses expired as a result. I had taken time off for the military, and so had a narrow window to graduate and get into medical school. She accumulated $40K in credit card debt in the final two years, hidden from me and with nothing to show for it. Lied about previously known credit card debt. Also got a separate bank account to hide her income and forced me to pay all the bills and household purchases.
    *Admitted to being a great actress? Mine said she was “just pretending” the whole 27 years.

    Be glad you had only fifteen years in and one kid. I had twenty-seven years with her and 8 children. I am Catholic, and so I didn’t believe in divorce. I also bought into the myth of shared responsibility for problems. I spent 27 years trying to fix myself when she was the one who was broken. Do get the STD testing. You need to protect your health. Others have said to get paternity testing and I was advised the same thing. I chose not to because I didn’t want to do that to them. I’m their dad.

    I also have trust issues. I’m waiting for an annulment to be decided on by the Church. But if it’s granted I’m afraid of dating. My cousin says I would have not trouble finding someone else and I’m a great guy. But it’s the other person I’m worried about. Once bitten, twice shy…

    • Oh, and I forgot to mention that my ex also told people I had a drinking problem. She told everyone, including me, I got blackout drunk and verbally abused her, but had no memory of getting drunk because of the blackouts. She said this to me to both gaslight me and let me know what she would tell a court in a divorce. Lucky for me, she let me draw up the paperwork. In return for no alimony and no entitlement to my pension, she got the house. I can get another house. I can’t get another pension.

      • The disordered will start and create the narrative way before you have any clue. By the time she accused you (gaslighted) of blacking out and being abusive…she already set the stage with friends, family and co-workers. Of course denying the alcohol fueled back outs and being abusive is what one would expect from a black out drunk abuser. Can’t win when dealing with the personality disordered. Just need to walk away.

        • That is EXACTLY what happened. I was the last person to hear that false narrative. I didn’t even bother trying to talk about it to her friends and family. There was no point.

    • Grumpy, if the church won’t give you annulment from that horror show, you need to change your religion. Don’t put your allegiance to any church above your mental health and well-being. A church that would expect you to stay with trash like her is not worth belonging to. Why let anybody but you decide your fate? Divorce her.

      • Oh, we’re divorced. But I’m not changing my faith if the annulment isn’t granted. I’m Catholic because I believe Catholicism to be true. That’s not to say the Church doesn’t have problems. It has big problems. So do the alternatives. I have looked into Orthodoxy, which would allow me to remarry in the face of the adultery of the other spouse. But every time I evaluate the arguments for and against this, I come to the conclusion that they are wrong in this. At any rate, I think I have a strong case. If it’s not granted, what kind of Christian would I be if I abandon what I believe to be true because the Church didn’t do what I wanted? I think at my age the odds of finding a marriageable Catholic woman near my age are low. The annulment is mainly to open up my options in the event I do meet someone else. But I believe that has a low probability anyway.

        • thingsthatmakemegrumpy,
          It’s nice to hear the opinion of someone who has to deal with the same issue.
          I also posted a comment below.

        • The funny thing was in my annulment process, mine was granted fairly quick and easily, he refused to comment or fill out any paperwork. I guess because we all know how serious he took his marriage to me, just ask him and schmoops. Which was fine with me, as I had already told them that I would not read, nor did I want to hear anything he had to say, as he had said and done enough to me. She stated that his refusal to respond or my refusal to read any response would not affect the decision. I don’t know for sure, but I suspect because I stated that he told me the day he left that he had never been faithful and he never loved me, which was exactly what he said. To me that made it very clear that for church purposes the marriage should have never taken place.

          My husbands annulment was not granted, his wife went to state her piece, I have no idea what she said. I do know that their issue was she had a drinking issue, and she was the one who wanted the D. He didn’t. I know he still loved her, and would have done anything to keep the marriage together.

          At any rate, we got married civilly and a few years later she unfortunately died. We then got married in the church.

    • Yes, that’s the other part, or the most important part for a person of faith. The annulment in the Roman Catholic Church. The criteria for it being granted are sound. Unfortunately not every case falls under at least one of those categories. And that leaves one in the situation of not being able to remarry in the Roman Catholic Church. Another fine consequence.
      thingsthatmakemegrumpy, I hope your annulment will be granted.

  • Ugh, this sounds like my boyfriend, who was likewise married to a leech in a woman suit. She is a parasite, you were a good host (which ironically are all the same characteristics that would make someone a good partner to any normal/non-parasitic human being). I am so sorry that you had the person you chose as your partner attempt to bleed you dry. This is the worst because she should have been your closest friend and ally. It is why people like this get away with what they do for so long. It’s a mindfuck. Please don’t beat yourself up about it. You are doing what you can and should do at this point — getting as far the fuck away from her as you can and continuing to be the sane and stable parent. My heart goes out to you, and just know that you are on the right path. Keep your head up and just keep swimming. So many hugs.

  • Justin, you deserve a partner who sees you for the gem you are.

    With respect to the parenting split, please document your custody time and whenever your XW fails to meet her end of the custody arrangement. The time that parents spend with their children is factored into the child support arrangement. If your XW can’t keep to the schedule, then that argues for a change in the schedule and an adjustment to support. Sure, you don’t want your child to live in squalor (not that your XW would allow this to happen as it seems as if she’s out for her main chance), but you also want to see that child support is going for, well, child support.

  • I know it’s a bitter pill but don’t put so much thought into the retirement money.

    If that piece of shit is living on it it’ll be gone soon enough. You have income and will continue to make money…she’ll be begging and sponging. I’ve seen this play out before. She will be in for a shock when your money runs out.

    Consider it the price of your freedom. When I left my abusive ex I took far less then I could’ve gotten, but my father told me to pay it and be finished with him.

    He was correct. This ex is my kids father and he has since quit drinking and grown up so we get along fine. Our boys are basically grown and we don’t have much to do with each other beyond the boys but when we do we’re friendly enough.

    I’m in far better financial shape because I’m smarter and work harder. The money I gave up is a distant memory.

    • “Consider it the price of your freedom” <– THIS

      Sometimes expensive lessons are the best to learn. As Kim said, your POS ex is not standing on her own two feet. She's a USER. She will run out of money and need to leech from someone again. The best thing you can do is to make sure it's not from you. Go forth and thrive as best you can. ((Hugs))

  • Justin’s account has so many similarities to what occurred in my own marriage that it’s more than a bit triggering. I can’t bring myself to write much more at the moment. Godspeed, Justin.

    • Same here. From the having to clean up the house constantly, the not being mentioned on social media, the double life, the leaving kids with you so she could go cheat, the total cruelty, the terrible female friends who sold her a bill of goods, the change in vocabulary, the total cruelty in discarding. The only difference is, my ex now plays the victim. lol


  • I had another thought, about “friends and family” advice.

    This past week my family came together for a “memorial service” for my Dad. We tried, very hard, to keep it immediate family only. However, my father had asked one of my uncles, on my mother’s side, to give a eulogy. He provided a box of information about his life and accomplishments. This uncle is a retired teacher, a Viet Nam vet, a civil war obsessionist, and loves to tell other people what to do in a somewhat condescending manner, disguised as “concern” I have one brother who served in the Army, and is very conservative. He is basically a good person, but very bound by what he perceives as “duty.” I think he has PTSD from providing primary care for my dad 24/7 the last 2 months of his life.

    My Dad never had active duty, he was not religious. He emotionally and verbally abused all of us, and my Mother. We know who he was and do not need to be told how we should feel. Yet we had to sit, stone faced without emotion, through a semi military/religious tribute to my dad, and my uncle telling us the five children were Dad’s proudest accomplishment, and he loved us all. Really? Was my uncle ever there? No. Did Dad ever say any of that? No. He always told us how inadequate we were, and tried to punish us with threats of abandonment and withdrawal of any financial support. I experienced both of these things while I was 18, after my first term of college, when he withdrew all funding for my college. I was 700 miles from “home” and had no money. I had made straight A’s my first term, and was learning to be socially adjusted. I also wanted to date. So I lost all funding. Because I wouldn’t lie and “pretend” to comply with his wishes. This act of “defiance” cost me, in much more than financial support.

    Fortunately, I had teachers who believed in me, and helped me get student loans, and jobs. I graduated from college Magna Cum Laude. I worked the next 45 years. I married, and divorced, and had children. I completed a MA, plus additional hours. Never an apology, never a congratulations. Always criticism. So tell me, please, what I should feel about my dad’s love. I literally helped rescue the 2 youngest girls by having hem live with me for awhile, the youngest started college a year early while living with me. I was not rich, I couldn’t afford it, but I did it. By that time my mother had her own resources, and helped the youngest 3 kids to go to college. Please tell us how we should feel about all that!

    Do not allow another person to tell you what your experience was, or tell you how to feel about the one who hurt you. They can have their own belief and opinion, and they can keep it to themselves. My 89 year old mother suffers from dementia, and was literally trembling in my arms while enduring this ceremony, wondering why they were saying the things they said. She divorced him, after enduring 40 years. Why do people have to create a fantasy person after they die? We lived the experience.

    So, after it was finally over, we all felt relieved. Released from future obligation. We will disregard all the bull, and know we did not accept the fantasy. I don’t blame my uncle for his part. Some of the military stuff may have helped my PTSD brother think he did the right thing taking care of dad. It was still like serving in a war zone, but the bombs were verbal, and emotional.

    To quote Judge Judy, don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. I have enough sense to know the difference.

    • What a story. How interesting that your father picked a man who would do the very last job of image management your dad would ever need. Yoi.

      You and your mother have to feel good about how you stepped up to help the younger kids in the family. That’s paying forward any help you got, for sure.

      • Yes, my dad knew who to ask. No matter what subject my uncle talks about, he is always talking about himself and his own values and beliefs. He wants to be admired so much, and envied. He couldn’t resist doing the ceremony his way, even though I specifically asked him not to.

        He was going to teach his sister, and her children how we should think and act. Women had no value from both sides of my FOO.

        In spite of all this, my Mother finished a PhD in Botany. Two of the five children have Masters, four finished their Bachelors, and the other has an Associates plus extensive additional training in the military. Failures, all of us, and disrespectful to our father, don’t you know? All of us worked, three of us until retirement. If financial success means anything, the girls actually were more successful than the boys. But none of us were ever enough.

        But we survived, and now we are free.

    • Ugh. I feel you! The stories that result from skilled image management boggle the mind. I hear them from my FW father’s (FWF) “associates” – he’s so brilliant, he has such a great mind, he loves his family, he did so many great things!

      Really? Here’s what I know – he raged at his family, he hit the kids, he emotionally/mentally/psychologically abused everyone in the family, he was neglectful, he repeatedly abandoned us, he was a serial cheater, he was an addict, he led a secret double life and we don’t even know him. THAT’s the real him. Fuck you all who fell for his lies and don’t even try to tell me who you think he is!

  • Your son is incredibly lucky.

    Just this morning, I searched for a list my friend had asked me to work on in the weeks after D-Day. What would I want in a partner? I scratched out about twenty items and put the list away. I am now a little over one year out from D-Day and was divorced in December. I’ve went on two dates. My intention was to date a lot over the next year and not worry too much about outcome. Instead, one of these guys is still keeping in contact and I can’t seem to cut him out even though he doesn’t seem that committed.

    The “not committed” thing, I have to constantly remind myself, is that he is not lovebombing me. He’s taking things very slowly. This is something I have never experienced. And my list? I read it this morning. Almost every trait I had listed was about character. And that explains why I continue to try this moving slowly thing – he is building a foundation for a relationship. He excels at character.

    Justin, try writing a list. Put it out in the universe – the boundaries of what you want. Us chumps have difficulty in seeing people of good character for the value they carry. Good character isn’t flashy. It’s quiet/ I’ve worked a year to change myself so I would not get involved with another covert narc. It feels like walking forward into darkness, but today my list showed me that I have made huge progress.

    And if all else fails, remember that chumplady says you could swing a dead cat in a room full of people, and anyone you hit would be a better risk than you took with your ex. Your ex was 100% capable of blowing up your life and abusing you.

    • I made that list as well. A list for an ideal mate. My friend had me make that list of an ideal mate. Alllllll the things I’d like them to be. Honest, funny, interested in me, nice, has a job, trustworthy, has my back, etc. etc..

      Here’s the twist. After I was done with my extensive character list my friend said – now do you promise to be all those things for them?

      • Oh – wow! Now I have to go back and read my list! What a twist. I need to think about that. Great stuff. Thank you!

  • I read Justin’s letter and the long term abuse is so obvious. And when I look back on my situation, while there were certainly red flags (and my teenage children remind me of them often, as they both rarely talk to their dad anymore – their choice) I cannot convince myself he was the awful person he turned out to be (3 year admitted affair with his 27 year old assistant). Most days I just feel discarded. Like our 22 year marriage was unhappy at some point years ago, and he just quit. Which I know is a jerk move, but I’d rather believe that he is a flaming dog turd than he just tired of me. I want to call him a narcissist or worse but I feel like I’m supposed to look in the mirror and say I just wasn’t enough. I have morals and my kids respect me, which is great, but I am somehow still left feeling inadequate.

    • Chumptoolong

      Your words resonate with me. My relationship was 12 years with him detaching the last 2-3 of those years.

      It’s like ‘Oh well, you don’t do it for me anymore. I’m on the lookout for your replacement’.

      He didn’t even want to try.

      I hit the gym like crazy, would try any new treatments I could find for reducing wrinkles, dark circles, fillers, some very painful (and not so cheap) procedures thinking if I looked better he would get the drill.

      The there were the fertility treatmemts. That’s a whole separate mindfuck.

      I was 38.

      They truly suck.

      • Morrychump. They do suck. I’m 2 years out from DDay and one month out from divorce. I’m glad he is not in our daily routine anymore- it is truly peaceful without him in it. But the discard – the not really wanting to try to fix it (other than his reputation which was shattered) was so cold. He had been done for some time. Just stopped caring about any of us really. We just didn’t matter to him anymore- maybe never did. That is the mind fuck. I really think most of us who come on here are shocked at the character change and need a label to understand and accept it – like a narcissist or disordered or whatever. And in many cases (like Justin’s) I think it is true. But also for many of us it’s just plain older age and selfishness and boredom. And yes lack of character to cheat for so long, but also just quitting.

    • ChumpTooLong:

      You are enough. Your ex is an asswipe. Watch Dr. Ramani on YouTube. She’s a leading expert on narcissism and teaches at UCLA. She’s the real deal, and she has a lot of great videos that will help you.

      Today is my birthday, and my beautiful daughter gave me the best gift ever. I was talking about how I still wrestle with the idea that I was “always angry.” — That was one of the reasons why my ex needed to cheat on me, apparently. I told her that I think about myself now, and I’m confused because I’m not even close to being “always angry” (unless I’m thinking about the ex). In fact, most of the time, I’m laughing. But I still feel guilty about it, because my anger led to our broken home.

      You know what she said? She said, “Mom, if you were angry, why didn’t he ask you what was wrong? Why did he just let you be upset and do nothing but complain about it? Normal people don’t get annoyed when the person they love is upset, they try to find out what’s going on.”

      Now, I know this is true because that’s what I do. I never get annoyed when people are upset. I get concerned. He brainwashed me into believing I didn’t deserve his concern because my anger was too frequent. But if he had been concerned in the first place, and tried to fix what was bothering me (he “worked” 70 hours a week and did no house/yard work or child care), I wouldn’t have been so angry (i.e., sad, lonely, and exhausted).

      My point is that I, too, thought I wasn’t good enough. He gaslit me into believing that I deserved to be discarded. I felt like trash because he treated me like trash. I was angry because he treated me like trash, and then I was told he cheated because I was angry. Do you see how fucked up that is? The truth is that he wasn’t good enough, and that’s why I was angry.

      He is the trash. And he has been put out. Let the other woman get her just desserts. You deserve better. Go get it! ((Hugs))

  • Justin– I hope you can find a support group that isn’t full of shit or run by cheater apologists.

    I often read stories here that make me wish the CN community was live and in-person. That moment of emerging from extreme trauma and betrayal is so critical and requires being enfolded within a tribe of people who completely get it. Abuse is about “perspecticide,” so recovery is about rebuilding a healthy perspective. The injury is social so the cure must also be social. Native tribes had the right idea with the sweat lodge ritual for returning warriors where all would voluntarily suffer together in the lodge, reenact trauma as a group to show their support.

    Because of responsibilities, kids, work, money, etc., I wasn’t able to go on some kind of spa recovery retreat but I did go out of my way to spend time with old friends who thoroughly “got it” and had been chumped themselves. I also completely and utterly cut out anyone who didn’t get it. It had an effect. I could feel the cells in my body reverting back to BG/BC– “before gaslighting/cheating.” The sun shone a little brighter. My “trauma-telescoped” sense of shortened lifespan and gray future began to shift a bit. I would get little flashes of understanding that I’d been hijacked by some sick fuck troll out of Grimm’s fairy tales who had cast an evil spell. I started feeling a little more like the heroine of my own story, gradually less tragic and doomed. I also found that mindset shift was magnetic. The world started showing me a different, kinder face here and there as certain types of people began gravitating towards me out of the blue.

    Anyway, I wish that effect could be organized. In the meantime, trust that you’ve been sucked into an evil vortex of lies and false, warped perspective that does NOT represent the absolute truth and does not represent all people. The shadow will be removed from your soul over time and you’ll find your tribe.

  • Justin, read up on the “Dark Triad” of personality disorders. I believe my ex-wife is a dark triad. Yours sounds like she has all the tells. Narcissism – extreme self-centeredness. Sociopathy – no guilt, shame or remorse. Machiavellianism – evil manipulation.

    Knowing doesn’t mean you can do anything about it, but I no longer she her as a human, just a monster, an “it”. It helps to understand that “it” is now the enemy and anything you say or do or don’t say or don’t do can and will be used against you in a court of law or the court of public opinion.

    You sound like a great father. My kids lived with and depended on me through college, and I wouldn’t change that for all my retirement back. I was lucky they were older and could choose for themselves. They saved my life. Take good care of your son, he needs you.

    • Yeah, you can’t fix these people. Evil and messed up. My ex wife said she needed to cheat to find out that she wasn’t perfect. Wow! Imagine living a life where you think that you were A) Perfect B) Needed to cheat C) So entitled

      In all of my years of being married to her and in the years since D-Day, never has this woman been at fault in her mind.

  • Like many others who’ve responded here, this story hit close to home for me. My divorce was final more than 6 years ago and my ex still tries to find ways to alienate my kids from me. It’s not working but she keeps trying. Justin, you sound like a loving father. I hope your psycho-ex doesn’t try to do that to your son. I’ll add my voice to the chorus to say that it gets so much better. We bred with fucktards, so they will always be in our lives in some way. But overall your life will get so much better being rid of her as an everyday influence in your and your son’s life. Best of luck.

  • “Grocery shopping took her hours cause she said she was shopping for deals”

    Oh, she was shopping for deals alright. Deals on which strange dick could last the longest and splurge the most on her.

    ” I said why have you never said anything? and I was screamed at and told if I were her soulmate I would know how miserable she had been for 15+ years. I said you acted happy…. she said it’s because she is a wonderful actress.”

    The instant you are expected to become a mind reader is when you should hear clanging alarm bells and “Abort mission!”.

    It doesn’t take any balls to cheat on your spouse. It takes a lot of balls to be the sane parent.

  • Justin, I watched a news show several years ago about a sociopath. She killed her husband then tried to poison her teenage daughter to make it look like she had done it. Woman can be sociopaths. You might have divorced one.

  • Hey Justin
    I just wanted to add here at the end (I’m always in super early or super late being in Australia!)

    Though none of us here in Chump Nation are actual friends IRL, we really really are Your People. Those either ones – the Switzerlanders, your neighbour – they’re not your friends, they’re not your people.

    CN says to you with a loud and resounding cry: you are a really really good person. You are. Who got chumped.

    You are mighty, you have been cruelly wounded, you will bleed for a while … the pain will ease and then end and you are MIGHTY. Big big hugs.

  • Justin, as awful as this human was to you, you will grow and someday you will heal. But, your son only has 1 mom, and your ex-wife sounds like she’s done things and behaves in a way that would hurt most 7 year old boys. You can’t fix her. My heart cries for him, not to have a mom who is present and stable in his life. She sounds like she is disconnected from having empathy if she only sees her son 35ish % of the time, and would complain that you spent too much time with him. It is no surprise that she treated you so horribly – she has no empathy. Something is seriously wrong with her, and you should be happy to be out of her cold path. She “sounds” like she lacks empathy, even for her own son. You can’t fix that, Justin. Ugh. You are the loving and stable parent. I wish you and your son, and your dog all the best that life has to offer. Chump Lady is spot on with her assessment.

  • This story very much resounds with me.
    Was married to a covert narcissist who was always shy and a lovely person.
    Multiple affairs – and often at work parties or when flying to her home town to see the parents.
    Now after our divorce she plays the role of a single mum who was hard done by .
    Learning about covert narcissism helps a lot. Realising that you went through abusive trauma helps a lot as well.
    However – and I am not making excuses but I see some parallels to my own behaviour.
    I allowed my ex to trample all over my boundaries and I’m afraid you did to.
    You knew for example that it wasn’t correct that shopping would take hours . Yet you allowed her to take that time and positioned yourself in the chump corner .
    So she assumed that you were a simple push over.
    Look I saw photos on her phone with other guys who she picked up at pubs, when I questioned her about it , she said that they were just company .
    And at first I didn’t question it because my boundaries were weak.
    So you may find it helpful to think about your boundaries in future relationships. It helped me.

  • “In 2016 she changed jobs and over the course of the next few years, the drinking became heavy and daily, every few words were a f bomb and she started hanging out with divorced/single ladies who acted the same. This had me concerned but around family and previous friends she still acted sweet.”

    I could have written this. The hanging with divorced/single women part- the vocabulary changing- the social media omission of me her husband- the never cleaning up the house- the making me feel like there was something wrong with me. So cruel. So evil.

    There’s no shortage of women who will help other women ruin their lives. Sell them a lie and watch them walk off a cliff. The exact quote I got from my wife the night she told me she wanted separation (did not know about the multiple APs at this point), she said, “My divorce friends love it because they can actually get a break”, a reference that she saw motherhood as a burden. Her own mother said that she believed she had a delusional view of what single life was going to be like (I say single loosely because she had an AP).

    Justin, bro, your life is sooooo much better without this evil. Money comes and goes and she was sunk costs. But to be away from her all the time and to at least get 65 percent of your kid is fantastic. Your metal health will be a major improvement the further removed you get from this. Toxic people are toxic regardless of who they’re dating or marry. Rebuild and rebrand. You’ll be okay and if you want, I’m sure you can meet someone that is actually a decent human being instead of faking it.

    • Yes, I have heard that stupid comment about having a break so often.
      I know they just want to tinder date and not look after the kids for a week often it is disguised under some no-feminism. Don’t get me wrong, there are truly awful marriages and the wife truly escape a jail.
      But in my case , I assume it is yours is similar , this was just not the case.
      I now have been forced into having this so-called break from the kids every other week.
      I miss them terrible, can’t stand dating because you meet so many of these women who are out there to “live their best life “. Instead I work my ass off to make up for my financial losses caused by the divorce and provide for my children’s future. And I am happy with that choice tbh.
      But yes, the divorced mum used to meet my ex every Friday for drinks after school, often she was too hung over on Saturday morning to take part in family activities.
      Good riddance

      • I think there’s an entire generation like this- the incredibly selfish princess syndrome where she’s never allowed to be disappointed for five minutes and gives themselves permission to do whatever they want because their happiness is all that matters. Destroy your biggest ally? No big deal. New attention is needed! Wreck your kids’ family? NBD. Your happiness in that moment is all that matters. Friends with integrity who’d hold you accountable and tell you the truth? Psst. Surround me with the “You go girl” mentality and constant “self love” mantra and memes. Being a wife and mother? Meh. That’s boring. I wanna be a party girl and sleep around but I’ll post pics of my kids on my social media so everyone thinks I’m mother of the year!

  • Justin,
    When it comes to choosing partners and spouses?
    Like eveything else in life:
    There is GOOD, FAST & CHEAP.
    You can only have 2, NEVER ALL 3!!!

    One more thing. (LOOK AWAY LADIES)
    When you think about your retirement being pilfered.
    Think of it this way.
    One day soon when its gone she will have the 3 choices she has put upon herself.
    1. Earn more
    2. Learn to live with less
    3. Start sucking D…..
    A tad profane yes, apologies.

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