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His Double Life Was Revealed After Death

maskDear Chump Lady,

My husband was 55 years old, no known health conditions, he was taking no medication. Last August he was hospitalized and operated on. He had several strokes on the operating table and we removed the ventilator 7 days later.

We had been married not quite 6 years; this was a second marriage for both of us.

I was completely in love with this man. We never fought and appeared to get along very well. He was my dream come true.

Three days after he passed away I found out via one of his old phones that he had been having a long-term affair, with a 30-year old. At some point she had announced that she was pregnant, (then apparently aborted the baby).

There were screen shots on his computer of their discussions and he had been recording their calls.

Everything about this was devastating. I lost the husband I adored, only to find out he had been cheating for nearly three years of our marriage.

He was an executive and had been leaving work just after noon to go and meet her, then came home to me.

This is an unusual story for your site I think because my cheating husband is no longer alive.

I chose to contact her. She didn’t have the gonads to call me back so I had to call again. She had very little to say to me.

I found that he had been lying to her about his life. Nothing he told her was true.

I felt a little superior about this, until I found out months later that he had been lying to me about his life as well.

I’m trying to cope with the loss of a man I didn’t really know at all, as well as extreme feelings of anger and hurt.

I have burned through a few therapists and I seem to be getting nowhere.


Dear Mary,

Welcome to Chump Nation, where we understand the utter amazement of “I Never Knew This Person at All.” Anger and hurt are completely normal responses to being a sociopath’s plaything. Grief for the life you invested in and didn’t get? Check. Horror at how easily you were bamboozled? Check. Sorrow at losing a loved one, only to realize they were a hologram? Check.

You’re our tribe. The only difference is your cheater is dead. Which makes the no contact a lot easier. (And the division of assets.) But your situation isn’t unique. There have been several similar bereaved-and-chumped stories here over the years.

If I could offer an odd comfort — the reactions you were robbed off were not going to help anyway.

Demanding answers? You avoided the mindfuck blender. People who lead double lives are not known for their unvarnished honesty when busted.

Reconciliation? You avoided twitchy hypervigilance and marriage policing. (And further D-Days.)

Of course, with or without him, you could untangle the skein of fuckupedness — how could he do this? What makes him tick? Trying to decode that mystery is a natural reaction to shock, but it’s ultimately pointless.

Why? Because he could. Because he wasn’t that deep. Because he was preposterously entitled. These aren’t very satisfying answers, but it’s what the evidence points to — and that’s enough.

The double life is who he is, and you can’t pull it apart from the husband you adored.

Chumps are often left in the wreckage trying to figure out what was real and what wasn’t. Did they love me then? Or was it an act? They try to fish the “good times” out of a giant shit stew of deception.

I’m sure there are therapists who will tell you to cling to those good times, and not let his abuse of you cloud your misty, watercolor memories.

These are people who have never lived the giant shit stew of deception. Whose reality has never gone wobbly from gaslighting. Who don’t see this behavior as the abuse it is. They probably mistakenly think it will help you have something, anything! to cling to during this time of loss. Be the bigger person. Don’t speak ill of the dead. Continue to project your hologram husband and grieve him.

I look at your situation and I see a Higher Power blowing a whistle: “Game over, out of the pool.”

His messy life is laid bare. He showed up expecting an ordinary day, and didn’t have clean underwear or his double life locked down. And then God called him home. And he was left exposed.

Others might look on that with compassion for the poor man, cut down young. I see liberation. Whether you wanted it or not, some Old Testament god broke the chains on an imprisonment you didn’t know you were living.

You’re free.

I suspect it feels more like free-falling. But over time, your perspective will change and your mind will be able to absorb who he really was. ((Hugs))

As the blues song goes “You Can’t Lose What You Never Had.”

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Chump Lady gold right here— Mary, I’m sorry you were chumped by a freak and welcome to CN.
    CL is right, you don’t have to waste anymore time on the freak, you were liberated and get to work on you. Have an awesome and amazing life and you deserve better.

    • Mary, my ex-husband is alive & has never spoken to me again since D-day except to send me photos of his “soulmate” in her underwear & telling me to move on, he had. I confronted him at his work once thinking he would talk to me. Nope. He hid behind his truck while a couple of his co-workers (who I know) tried to cajole him out to talk to me. Nope. He finally fled into the building. So them dead or alive, Mary, we’re still left with the aftershock. After a year, I took off my rose-colored glasses and realized there were things there that I had missed, subtle clues, gestures, a few words, that indicated that all was not happy or perfect for him. It was for me, and I projected that onto him & us. I was a person who overlooked subtlety (sometimes even obvious) & I have vowed not to do that again. That may not be your case, but I thought I would mention it. If I have one tip: try to distract/stop yourself when thinking of him or why. It really is truly pointless & a waste of time. All the best in your healing.

      • Navigator… your X is the perfect fuckwit example… his idea of “moving on” is about sharing intimate photos of his new GF… on what planet is that what an honest, loving, respectful, sexually healthy relationship look like… oh here, look at my GF ex-wifey… “I win… #jealousyet”? Sweet Jesus… you dodged a major bullet there with Mr. Surface.

        • The picture of the OW in her underwear? Who does that? What cruelty?

          My ex didn’t show me a picture of schmoopie in her underwear (although I did come across one of her in her bathing suit that he may have wanted me to find–sicko!), but he did tell me, his grieving wife who was standing in the wreckage of a 35-year marriage, that he doesn’t need porn to have sex with this OW. I mean, how cruel can you get?

          Character-deficient individuals often suck in many areas of their lives–we sometimes don’t see the degree of suckitude until later.

          In my case, I find that I don’t even realize how shitty he was until I share something he said or did with a friend or therapist, and they respond, “My God!!! What? You know that’s terrible. Right?”

          • “In my case, I find that I don’t even realize how shitty he was until I share something he said or did with a friend or therapist, and they respond, ‘My God!!! What? You know that’s terrible. Right?’”

            I have lived this where normal people are shocked and horrified by stuff klootzak does. Dead or alive, trust that they suck.

          • “I find that I don’t even realize how shitty he was until I share something he said or did with a friend or therapist, and they respond, “My God!!! What? You know that’s terrible. Right?”” ISN’T THIS THE TRUTH! I’ve also experienced the unbelief of others about his shitty behavior when I remember and tell of an incident. When an incident occurred in the past, I was very hurt and thought that maybe he just didn’t realize how hurtful his behavior was, and that once I told him, he’d realize it and change it. (At least I assumed that’s how normal married people handled issues.) Years later I came to the realization that whether he did or did not realize that his behavior to me was hurtful, he. didn’t. care. He may have changed some of his behavior…, maybe…, but it wasn’t because he was worried about not hurting me again. The only reason he might have changed his behavior was because he was cognizant of his image and how others may have perceived him. He didn’t want anybody to see that he was a dick. So IF he changed his behavior, it was not for my benefit; it was only for others. I noticed throughout the years that others thought him wonderful, and I always wondered what was wrong with me that I could never be good enough. Only years after DDay did I realize that he was only concerned with projecting a wonderful, decent persona to others. He never worried about whether I saw him as a wonderful, decent person. I was just his wife appliance. He didn’t care about my feelings at all. Almost at the end of our marriage his brother came out to visit (his third wife was left behind at the house). His brother was telling us that his wife was butt-hurt because he went to a strip club and had a lap dance. Then he said, “She’ll just have to get over it.” I was incredulous! And he was always the ‘nicest’ brother of the three brothers. The oldest brother is an even bigger fuckwit. Their dad cheated on their narcissist mother. I think they were a family of sociopaths and I bred with one of them. (That’s a whole nother story!) So it’s true in that I didn’t realize how shitty he was because that’s all I knew. I was 23 when I met him. I was bowled over by this tall, brawny, handsome, and intelligent military officer and the fact that he thought I was attractive. I felt honored that he deigned to have me as his girlfriend. Oh the stupidity of youth…

            • Yup. I can relate.

              I remember once my ex saying something cruel to me about my body (size 2 and fit–but that shouldn’t matter). “You think you have a nice body, but you don’t.” When I told him that the comment was hurtful, he replied, “I know.” He then calmly and without emotion returned to his reading or tv watching.

              #coldbastard #somanysigns #spacklequeen

              • It’s in a way liberating to truly believe- that our look, size, good character etc. had nothing to do with their actions.
                It’s also humiliating to hear from your husband that he is not attracted to you anymore, or that a smile, totally stranger gave him was absolutely made his day- while taking care of 2 kids while studying full time & making a home made dinner for the family was just a nuisance..
                But then again- how can a woman talk about this to other women? The shame.. embarrassment…

                Well, I’m 45 now, heavier than I was in my 20’s , I have wrinkles, cellulite and my skin is not as fresh as it used to be.
                I love myself. I’m healthy, I eat healthy, exercise regularly ( not to loose inches but in order to feel good) and nothing that a man tells me- will affect my perception of myself.
                Liberation ????

              • This reply is to Lolo’s comment but we’re at maximum depth already so it does not nest correctly…

                Lolo wrote: “But then again- how can a woman talk about this to other women? The shame.. embarrassment…”

                See, that’s part of our being chumps. We don’t confide in others. This is exactly the stuff we should be running past our girlfriends the moment it happens. We should be talking, and we should be hearing “Eww! Flush that sparkly turd down the toilet already!”

              • I_survived, yes, exactly … though if you’re as big a chump as me, maybe your girlfriends too have been just as chumpy and can’t recognize poor behaviour, or, you’re an appliance of sorts to your friends, too. If I had had the kind of friends/family you describe, perhaps I would have been warned. But I got a lot of blank stares, a lot of suggesting I was too critical. I had “friends” who basically blamed me for my bad choices, gaslit me when I asked if I was being too harsh, and not so subtly reacted as if I deserved what I got.

                It’s only this year that I see how deeply my picker got pushed off course by interactions with FOO and early friendships/relationships, such that I haven’t had reliable community to be concerned for me if I was in a bad romantic situation. I realize some of the what-would-people-say women in my family are just offended by my being concerned for them: *they* would *never* pick poorly.

                We still have to use our own judgement to find the kind of people who recognize dishonesty, entitlement, etc as shitty behaviour. That’s why I keep coming back here, so I can eventually recognize ChumpNation values in the people I meet IRL.

                Right now my therapist is helping me recognize what “OMG that’s terrible” looks like.

          • Mine took this particular mindfuck one further. If god forbid, someone even a therapist, would say anything that resembled “My God!!! What? You know that’s terrible. Right?” he would double down that they had only heard what was clearly my highly embellished side of the story. Then he would tell me that his friends or maybe a family member would say my response to his cruel behavior was crazy – that he was just being normal and I was nuts to feel otherwise and that everyone we knew agreed with him.

            My FOO issues made this an easy sell – so he road this wave for 20 years. It to a point where I capitulated on everything and anything to prove I was not crazy.

            On our court day, I was left alone with him for a few minutes while the attorneys spoke to the judge. Against my better judgement I stayed in the room with him and wouldn’t you know he pulled out the everyone at the place where he worked(and I had worked previously with him so I knew many of these people) thought I was crazy. He then invoked a specific female co-worker’s name. In a moment of clarity, I told him that I could not care less what Diana Fucking Smith (not the real name) thought of me, while the look of shock was still on his face I left the room and did not return until the attorneys were back.

          • My XW once felt compelled to give me a detailed description of one of her AP’s physique, including references to his impressive endowment. These nutbags are just not human.
            My brother’s mother-in-law just found out, via his confession, that her dying husband had cheated on her repeatedly for the entire 60 years of their marriage. What a douchebag. I think he must have confessed because someone was threatening to out him, as clearly, he has no conscience to clear.
            This poor woman, 84 now, is really traumatized.

            • Hey, Arnold. Welcome back! I’m sorry to hear about your brother’s MIL; what a thing to learn at age 84.

            • I was shocked to find out after he died that my late husband started cheating 2 years in to a 24 year marriage, the feeling of my whole adult life being a lie is still indescribable and unfortunately something a lot of chumps know. I did though find out about the tip of the cheating iceberg close to before he died so made sure I expressed how much of a POS he was etc. and I am glad to have at least been able to do that. In my case there was no grieving widow. The 84 year old lady might get some relief from expressing her anger before her cheater dies if she gets to the anger stage in time.

              • I’m so sorry this happened. 24 years is a long marriage.
                I am just entering the anger phase now after a full year. It feels right.

      • My ex and her schmoopie posted photos of their Christmas card with my “their” children all over the facebooks— it’s how I discovered her lie. She denied the photos existed then denied the boyfriend existed then called me crazy. Her schmoopie sent me the photos a few weeks ago and said “I sure hope this makes you jealous cuz I’m a better father figure to your children than you’ll ever be”. Ugh, while not undie shots still painful. My no contact rule is — my ex is repulsive trailer trash (literally).

        • What the hell! I think I’d text back, or at least think of texting back, because not engaging in the triangulation attempt is the way to go, “I don’t have to be a ‘father figure’ to my children because I am their FATHER!” Something that a-hole will never be.

        • That’s total insecurity there. Keep on being the best father figure you can be. You certainly don’t have to engage with a fuckwit trying to prove you’re better than a liar and a cheater.

        • Wtf?? Well her schmoopie sounds like a catch too (eye roll). Him sending you the pictures proves how insecure he is! Probably worried about her cheating on him next…

          I’m sorry, Xioba Xiong. I can’t imagine the pain of seeing those pictures, I’d rather the naked ones than have kids dragged in.

        • Good grief, my heart goes out to you – what a psycho lunatic! I have to say, if schmoopie is that insane/insecure my guess is the relationship is already on very shaky ground.

        • ” My no contact rule is — my ex is repulsive trailer trash (literally).”

          Absolutely. My ex drug a whore out of the trailer park, and quite frankly he found his level. The rest of his life proved it.

          To anyone who might be offended by the trailer park comparison, it is merely an image. Lots of decent wonderful folks live in trailers. My own father and his wife lived in one for years. But they were not trailer trash.

          • Good point. I lived in a RV park and I am not talking about the good folk. Regardless, it puts her nicely into my trust that she sucks category — when my mind remembers that one time she was nice … I go to my zone (she’s repulsive TT).

      • Lolol, his idea of “moving on” is sharing photos of the schmoopie with the ex? Sounds like you take up more space in his head than he does yours. What a fuckwit.

      • What a horrible human being. Who sends a previous spouse photos of his new girlfriend in her underwear? That is absolutely disgusting. I am so sorry. He’s also a coward to top it all off. I suspect if I had found this when my husband was alive he would have lied to me and tried to tell me it was something it wasn’t. I have looked back and there were a few red flags, but not many. He was a very good liar. I hope your healing is progressing. The support i’ve received here is proving to be invaluable to me.

    • I’m in the dead cheaters club also. Slightly different story. DD with emergency hospitalization, 6 weeks later didn’t make it thru 2nd surgery. More cheater shit kept popping up way after his death.
      I made it clear I would stick around to get him thru last surgery then I was out. As in gone…I would divorce him.
      So, I sort of feel like a fraud because people think I’m some poor widow. When in actuality I deep down feel like a divorcee. My family and his close family plus some friends know the crazy crazy crazy serial cheating story (over 17 years). I am 5 years out now and am pretty solid. But it was rough for a very long time. Just know you wouldn’t have gotten any sort of confession or apology from him. I honestly doubt I will ever be able to trust someone enough to get involved again (29 year marriage plus 4 years dating). It gets better.

    • Thank you for your comments. I didn’t say this in my original post, but I have been talking “out loud” to my husband since he died. I believe he can hear me. Today was the last day I will do this, and I told him that. Today is the first real day of my next phase in this mess which is “anger”. I’m angry, and I’ll say something, it feels good. It took me a year to get angry, and I’m glad I’m here. I am going to move to the next phase of my life with the support of everyone here and am looking forward to living a good and real life. Thank you again.

      • I’m sorry you’re in this place too Mary. Every now and then I remember a conversation or something will trigger me and it helps to yell at him even though no one is there. This usually happens when I’m driving and in the car alone, I can only imagine other drivers that see me think I’m crazy but I don’t care because if I get the anger out straight away, it passes, and I can get back to my day. I’m more than 2 years out from the death but it’s happening less frequently. My doctor said I could try yelling at the grave/ground but I’m not going to do that. One friend suggested I put dog poo on the grave, I won’t waste my time going there even to do that. Mary it will take time but you’ll know when it’s been enough.

        • This story will make you smile. I posted my situation on Reddit nearly a year ago, and found one woman who was in the same situation we are. She said she had cremated her husband.
          She put his ashes into two bags. One labelled “keep” and one labelled “flush”.
          Every time she was angry with him she would flush a little bit of the ashes down the toilet. She said she got so angry at times that these ashes ended up clogging the toilet.
          That story really made me smile. At the time I thought “I simply can’t flush my husband down the toilet”, but I’m starting to think it wouldn’t be a bad idea.

          • The idea of dumping the cremains on a manure pile appeals to me. Or for the already buried six feet under, filling a water bottle with pee and “tending to the grave” ????????????????

        • That’s funny. I used to have the same “yell at the invisible bastard” reaction too. It’s cathartic because we know that they would never have the fortitude to stick around and listen.

  • Dear Mary,

    My condolences to you. A double gut punch-losing your newish husband at a relatively young age and finding out he was a con man.

    • His double (or triple, quadruple, who knows ?) did him in. Supposedly healthy and then ????

  • Mary, I’m sorry to tell you there are many of us, whose husbands die, and a double life is discovered. Ask unicorn no more. You suffer the same hurt, confusion, anger as the left spouse. The why, is not answered. The total truth is never known. Financial losses are found. Not cheap to keep mistresses. You love someone who never really existed. You may have sympathy for the death, but not that they cheated. You are told get over it, he’s dead. The more time goes by, the more you realize times you were gaslighted. You are no contact but still have major “mind” fights with them. The only difference I have found is I didn’t need a lawyer, I needed a mortician.

    • Dear Mary,

      Sorry for your grief. After a 35 marriage that I thought had weathered the storm of the DOCTOR’s endless restlessness and discontent with life, I learned some ugly truths. And he was shockingly cruel in our divorce, which totally gutted and surprised me.

      He has not seen me or our 3 adult kids since we split 5 years ago and instantly remarried the “love of his life”. If you had asked me whether either of these things were possible 6 years ago, I’d have siad “no way.”

      And For the first 3 years, I obsessed about HOW he could want “this” and HOW he could not miss what I THOUGHT we had.

      But here are 2 things I’ve learned, (yet have to remind myself of at least weekly.)

      1) Anyone who can maintain long term deceit with his spouse is NOT who you believed them to be, and that is totally their responsibility. While it deeeply hurts us, it’s not about us. It’s about them.

      2) There is NO good to come of asking why. It’s a mindfuck blender.

      There are no answers that will solve this for you, there’s no “good reason” for inflicting the harm they inflicted. No answer will soothe you.

      Caroline Myss wrote several books that helped me and in one, she wrote a prayer I often repeat,

      –“God, help me let go of the need to know why. There is NO ‘why’.

      And endless questioning is endless suffering.”–

      Lick your wounds, do everything and anything that helps you heal, and know this.

      You are not alone. And from this day forward, your life will be authentic.

      • The only answer to “why” is just like CL said, “Because they can.” There is no other answer. We can say that they’re sociopaths; we can say that it’s because of their bad upbringing. But when you step out of the mindfuck blender and realize that even though there are people all over the world who have had bad upbringings but don’t seem to do the same shitty stuff to their spouses that ours did, the only possible answer is, “Because they can.” That answer was totally unsatisfying to me at first when I read Chumplady’s response. I wasted too many years trying to come up with a more satisfying answer, only to come around to the same conclusion as Chumplady, i.e., “Because they can.”

        • Thank you for these comments. I think about my own father often. He lost both of his parents, and was put in a Protestant orphanage in the 1930s with two of his brothers. He was sexually abused there. He was physically abused there. He met my mother and he loved her more than anything on earth. When she died he was devastated and never recovered. I thought I had this kind of love with my husband. If someone had said to me in 2016 (when the affair began) that he was having sex with a 30 year old I wouldn’t have doubted that it was untrue. It’s been nearly a year and I am just now starting to get feelings of anger, which I am actually happy to have. I have been walking around since August of 2020 in a brain fog.

        • And because they do not care about anybody but themselves.

  • Everything Tracy said. Also, go get checked for STDs. You have no idea what he did.

    It’s very jarring to realize that you’ve been living in an alternate reality. All chumps have been there, done that. You have the extra weird experience of finding out after the alternate reality ended. When I learned that my ex-h was not who I thought he was, I mourned the life that I thought I had. Mary, that’s where you are, too. Yes, you should be sad for losing what you thought you had, but you shouldn’t be sad for losing that man who lied and cheated.

    No wonder therapists aren’t very helpful. They are clueless. Sadly, your experience is more common than you think. I’m sure some of the widowed chumps will chime in today.

  • “Grief for the life you invested in and didn’t get? Check. Horror at how easily you were bamboozled? Check. Sorrow at losing a loved one, only to realize they were a hologram? Check.”

    This has happened to almost all of us on here (mostly without them dying though). I’m truly sorry for you Mary, it must be awful for you. In some ways though, him not being around anymore does make things easier. There isn’t any “no contact” to maintain. No arguments to have. No more lies (as if there weren’t enough, but you can guarantee you would have been told more). No more gaslighting. Although, you are dealing with all of the lies and gaslighting that you didn’t know about at the time now instead.

    When I found out the man I thought I was supposed to be with forever was a lying, manipulating shitbag, I couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t let myself accept that actually HE was the problem here and not me. I still don’t fully. My advice would be to get that view of him internalised as quickly as you can. For me, the way to do this was to focus yourself unerringly on the bad shit he did, all the lies he told and all the times he manipulated you. See it in your head. Play it over. Feel the shitty way he treated you. Let the good times go. Not the bad times. This doesn’t make you bitter or any of that other bullshit, but it might help you internalise the fact that he was a scumbag, despite the image he presented to the world. It’s helping me, now.

    Good luck! All the best for your future.

    • Awesome! You’re getting there. I’ve been rooting for you.

      Big Jedi hugs. ????????

    • Thank you so much for your comments. The statement about playing the bad times over and over really hit home. This is helpful. I was trying to hold onto the good times, until I realized there really weren’t any. All I had was him pretending to love a wife who adored him. I went into his email the other day and found something he sent to me in 2016 when he first started having sex with his girlfriend. He said to me: “This is going to be our year! It will be amazing”. He sent this to me after he started having sex with her. How horrific and ridiculous and such a mind fuck. I’m glad I found this. It is helping me.

    • “ focus yourself unerringly on the bad shit he did, all the lies he told and all the times he manipulated you. See it in your head. Play it over. Feel the shitty way he treated you.”

      Yes. And then I would imagine what how I would have treated me, in any given situation, were I him. This helped me realize how extreme and evil his treatment of me was. Absolutely appalling, unacceptable and inexcusable. I also recommend looking back and trying to think of the worst things you ever did to your ex. My guess is that not only did they pale in comparison to what he did to you – in severity, volume and duration – but they were also likely in reaction to the terrible situations he put you in. (‘Reactive abuse,’ I’ve heard this described as, although that term doesn’t quite sit right with me. I’d prefer ‘sticking up for your values/safety,’ ‘defending yourself,’ or ‘reacting to abuse.’)

      Dr. Chumphead, I’m rooting for you, too! I’ve had dark times like the ones you described in your letter, and it makes me sad to hear about others taken so low by such pathetic, worthless fuckwits. Hold your head up! That loser was a deadweight.

  • Mary,

    For everyone here or in real life who tells you that you can now focus on yourself and move forward, you are going to need LOTS of time before that happens. Be patient with yourself and your anger and confusion.

    For some it’s a shorter process but for the majority it’s a gut wrenching path taken step by step or even breath by breath. In my mind it’s like walking thru ankle-deep hot coals very slowly and not by choice. Each step is painful beyond belief but the only way forward is to go thru the coals.

    I agree that the only consolation in your story is that you needed a mortician and not a lawyer. Not an insignificant difference by the way. Saves months or years of a different sort of pain and depletion of finances.

    Only you can decide how much of your story you want to share publicly. While society may judge us chumps from speaking our truth, it definitely judges those who speak ill of the dead.

    I hope you can find a good therapist who will be good for you (it may take a lot of tries). One who understands cheating, trauma and death. I’ve learned to ask their views on cheating before even committing to a session – if they don’t want to answer, they’re not right for you! Perhaps EMDR would help you come to terms with what happened (my personal, unprofessional opinion).

    Stay here and read the old posts. You’re not the only one here with your story and it will give you the understanding community you might not find in the larger world.

    Welcome may sound strange but with time, work and patience, you will find peace.

    • Great advice Rebecca. I like the idea of first asking a therapist his/her view on cheating before committing to a session. If the response is, “I think it can be worked through and make the marriage even stronger”, then pick a different therapist! I just saw a version of this question asked on Facebook yesterday, ‘can you stay married to a cheater?’ Several of thousand responses were, “It depends, but I think it can make the marriage stronger.” It was probably a therapist who is touting his/her practice. “For a whole year at $100 a session, I can make you happy again!” Nope. Find out ahead of time the therapists view on infidelity. And hopefully that view is “It is abuse.” Hmmm…, does anyone on this site think that cheating can actually “make the marriage stronger”?

  • I’m sorry that you thought your life was different. The deceiving and lies are painful. You thought he was someone different. He was recording the phone conversations for a reason, that sounds like controlling behaviour. About the pregnancy ow will lie, about pregnancy you don’t know if she was pregnant or know. Its not really your problem actually. Sorry to say don’t be surprised if the ow starts hanging around. We have probate in UK, don’t know American equivalent. He might be paying her bills with secret bank accounts. Or bank accounts you even know about. Ow will lie about anything. You owe her nothing. If unfortunately there are children, it has to be proven by DNA, do not give her anything. She will expect you to feel sorry for her. Its all crocodile tears ie fake

    • I know that she has no children, I have thankfully been able to confirm this. My biggest fear when I read about the pregnancy was that there was a child out there who would be making a claim against his estate. That is the only good thing that has come about as a result of this.

      • While hardly a consolation to you, I am grateful you don’t have to deal with “unknown” children or claims to his estate.

        I hope you find some comfort from all the support here today. We are all rooting for you along your path.

  • Please get checked for STDS. I’m always amazed at how much attention our culture focuses on the emotional issues involved in infidelity, which you can deal with at leisure, and completely ignores the more urgent and non-negotiable reality of your health. Please get checked, for everything. Pretty much everything can be treated in one way or another, but you have to know what you’re dealing with to be able to make the best decisions for yourself.

  • This is devastating but you’re strong. A beautiful new life awaits you. The grief will pass. Some people are just broken beyond repair and that’s probably all we need to know. Peace to you in this difficult time.

  • Mary I say this with all the compassion in the world:

    You lucked out.

    A lot of us have to share custody with these dickwads. There will never be any closure, living or not. Please go easy on yourself, you’ll make it. This is not your burden to carry. Hugs

    • Absolutely right, BBM. I just spent $2500 changing my will. Still working on changing the inheritance of my assets. I envy Mary the fact that FW is dead; I urge her to get STD testing (I was diagnosed with a life threatening STD 2 months before my 49th anniversary), and I advise her to hire a PI and search for hidden assets and other spouses.

      • I agree but instead of a PI, you really want to hire a financial forensics analyst. They follow the trail of money and that usually leads to any other APs.

  • He impregnated her which means unprotected sex.

    Hustle to your physician ans get tested. Don’t forget syphilis & HIV.

    May you have had a sizeable life insurance policy on him, as well as being the beneficiary of a hefty 401K

  • Mary, many of us who have lost our spouse due to cheating feel doubly cheated because we don’t get the sympathy and support a widow or widower gets. Sometimes we get blame or side-eyes instead, with the assumption the cheating was somehow our fault. You found out he was a cheater three days after he died, although I’m confused by your timeline–you wrote that you found out and called the OW, spoke to her and learned he lied to her also, then “I felt a little superior about this, until I found out months later that he had been lying to me about his life as well.” Does that mean you found out more about him that you didn’t include here?
    You didn’t ask, but I wonder if you resent the sympathy you’re getting, if it comes with comments he didn’t deserve, like, “He was such a great guy.” Have you discussed his cheating with anyone other than therapists, or do you feel you have to spackle over his cheating to preserve his image? You may be feeling stuck because you or your social circle don’t want to speak ill of him now that he’s dead. Too bad for him–you should not also be cheated of the opportunity to speak the truth about what he did.
    Part of the grieving process is anger, and you were denied the opportunity to express your hurt, disappointment, resentment and perhaps fury to your cheater while he was alive. He left the game before you even knew he was playing.
    You wrote that you’ve burned through a few therapists and seem to be getting nowhere. I wonder if you’re giving yourself, and the therapists, enough time. You’re around the one-year mark since he died, and it’s normal for the grief process to last at least that long, and sometimes far longer, for the death of a spouse. It’s normal for it to last at least that long after discovering infidelity.
    You were wronged and cheated in multiple ways. Chump Nation supports you.

    • Thank you for these comments. Yes, I did leave a few details out. I contacted his ex-wife to whom he had been married 26 years. Some of the details he had shared about his life with me (such as owning his own company years before, houses they owned, etc.) were lies. He built an entire fairy tale about his life that he presented to me that I accepted because I had no reason to think he was lying. I also want to say that what hurts me the most about this is the fact that I would have loved him regardless of his working status. His wife held my hand and cried. He was an amazing friend to people, he helped everyone at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately he was an awful husband.

      • man, Mary, he was a total liar. that’s rough. but it’s all on him, right?

      • Mr. or Mrs. Great Guy/Gal who makes friends with everybody is into impression management.

        • THIS.

          I grew up with disordered family and (sadly) dated a few disordered guys in my 20s. I’m talking profoundly disturbed people who hit every benchmark for a personality disorder. I didn’t realize how bad they were until I got into therapy and discovered my “picker” had been off my entire life.

          Anyway, the eerie similarity between all these people? Every single one was big on impression management. A few literally killed their own family members but knew how to turn on the charm with the neighbors.

          The biggest sign to me of a problematic person is if they’re well-liked by acquaintances but despised by people who know them well (like family). That’s the mark of someone who can be shiny in small doses but can’t sustain genuine relationships.

      • > He was an amazing friend to people, he helped everyone at the drop of a hat. Unfortunately he was an awful husband.

        Yeah, I totally get that. You were the wife appliances so you got next to nothing from him.

      • Mary, I can in no way begin to imagine the horror you are going through. I am so sorry. I can only relate to the overwhelming “compliments”. On two generations. My dad’s friends kept harping to me that I was an ungrateful child, he is such a great man. And some of my STBX’s friends do the same. Same answers apply: “Yes, he’s a great friend.” (deadpan, when I don’t want to keep talking); “I wish I were his friend and not his child/spouse” (when I want to probe the reaction of the talker). Lots of flying monkeys, but sometimes this opens to a very interesting conversation. Lots of hugs to you ????

      • He was a terrible friend too, I assure you. If you could wave a magic wand and lay bare his entire life and all his relationships, I’m positive you would uncover lies and betrayals across all his so-called “friendships” as well.

        This is years of experience with multiple sociopaths talking. Everything disordered people do is fake. A psychologist named M. Scott Peck even wrote a book about them called, fittingly enough, “People of the Lie.” Recommended.

        People are the sum of their behavior. You can’t be wicked in one area of your life and a saint in another.

        That’s like saying, “Yeah, Ted Bundy was a serial killer, but he volunteered at a suicide hotline, wasn’t that nice of him?”

  • I will be attacked on this one:

    No one was worse a cheater and liar than my ex. And he still tries to make my life shit when he can.

    But on some level, in his own very defective way……… I think he did care about me.

    Whatever was broken in my ex, was broken long before I met him.

    I won’t believe that he never had any affection for me in our entire 27 years together.

    He is a sick, twisted person. Like a dog with rabies in it’s brain. But I won’t say he spent 27 years despising me, Because he did not.

    Like a of cheaters they convince themselves that a double life is acceptable, they are wrong of course. Or that ‘that is what men do’. Since they saw other men in the family doing this.

    Some people will get this, most will say I am deluded. I probably am.

    • Yes.
      I agree.
      I also think that is a vital view.
      I was with my ex 25 years. I enjoyed much of them. Regardless of his behaviour, which I only know the end of, we had a good life. I no longer delete Facebook memories.

      Yes, he is a weak, selfish asshole, and his cheating was abuse. I wouldn’t take him back if he paid me. At the same time, I am not destroying every memory I had at the alter of anger.

      I have a lovely new life. Ex plays a minor role in it now. I consider him a long lost cousin who I am ok to chat with when we interact, but otherwise never think of.

      • Envious of those can look back on their happy memories. Almost 11 yrs from dday & my past is still so painful. In a sense the past was my whole adult life – met him at almost 19 & discarded at 45. We didn’t have kids so traveled the world over & over, threw parties, renovated 130 yr old home, etc. and I thought throughly enjoyed each other. He had a large family which meant lots of fun filled gatherings. Always something to look forward to. What do I do with a past that will never compare to life today?

        • You have a lot of great memories despite his later actions.

          Work on creating a full life for yourself now. I have met a great group of people through MeetUp gatherings. We have fun. And I met a nice new man online.

          Life isn’t over until it’s over.

          • Hurt1 – Well, I am not sure how you can say your today won’t compare to your past. I would work on that. I had a great life and partner until the “end.” Now I know the incredible deception. I wouldn’t spend another minute with him having found out his double kinky life. Definitely don’t want to be the new replacement. I would ask yourself if you had a choice, would you repeat? I hope your today will look better when you relect.

        • I found I had no happy memories. What I had believed to be a special, privileged, blessed and loving life was actually a Potemkin village. I do not have a single memory I can look back on and feel secure about. I find myself asking, “What was really going on here, what did I overlook?” It is soul destroying. My entire life has been re-written from the point at which I met WS.

          • Whitecoatburnout, I totally get what you are saying. The farther removed I am from my 25+ years marriage, the easier it is to see red flags, and view events differently. However, I remind myself that I was committed, I was authentic, and I was happy for much of the marriage. My reality was my reality, at the time. I have three children, so I struggle when I wonder if I could go back in time and not marry him, would that have been a better choice. It’s a delicate balance to strike, removing the rose colored glasses, yet trying not to replace them with a jaded lens.

          • I feel the same way. There are no memories I can look back on and feel secure about. I am choosing to start again and trying to put those good memories out of mind because they are destroying my ability to move forward.

      • I’m not destroying my good memories, either, but I am placing them alongside the new knowledge I have about what he was concealing at the time. It’s also worth remembering that CL herself has said that our feelings and our actions were genuine, and we can rest easy knowing that.

    • I agree, Mitz: if Best Regards were truly a villain through and through, it would be easier to grieve the loss of the marriage and move on. But he wasn’t a villain; he was sick. And just like sick people try to do what they want to do and can’t, and just like they have good days and bad days, so Best Regards tried at different times in our marriage to be a good husband. He just couldn’t because of his illness (and his refusal to get help or therapy for it), and when he sensed that he couldn’t be the partner I needed, he chose the coward’s way out. I’m not excusing his behavior: everyone has choices no matter their situation, and he could have sought help, and he could have thought about me *at all* as he made his decisions, and that’s on him. But I think to the degree he was capable, he did love me. He just (a) didn’t understand love at all the same way I did and (b) didn’t try to when things got tough for him. I’ve said this before on here, but my mom learned a saying a long time ago from an Inuit elder who said that everyone has a black sled dog and a white sled dog on the team pulling their soul along through this life, and sometimes the white dog takes the lead and sometimes the black dog leads. For my ex, he let the white dog lead more frequently earlier in our marriage, and then at some point he just quit reining in the black dog and let it take him where it wanted.

      • I love the white/black dog analogy. I would like to believe my ex loved me for a long time and was honest. Then the black dog started leading more and more (I don’t know when, never will).
        It is no longer my job to help him. He fired me. I’m living my own life now and trying to feed and take care of my white dog as much as possible.

    • Please…. We normally try really hard to not go all “Pain Olympics” on people. We’ve all been through so much but especially early on, telling people yours is worse simply isn’t helpful or respectful to the magnitude or complexity of someone else’s experience.

      Y’all are my friends and buddies… I implore you.

      • I meant to post this at the end, not on anyone’s thread, sorry. I won’t post it again for concern of being overbearing even though my guts are telling me to hire a skywriting plane

      • Agree, I should not have said he was the worst. I am sure many people had it worse than me.

    • For these people, affection = kibbles, nothing more. I look back on my 27 years of marriage and every memory is tainted. Every single one of them. She committed fraud and lied to me to get me to marry her. I raised it as an issue for annulment in the Catholic Church, but I doubt they are going to touch it. I’ve been waiting a couple of years now. After my wife dumped me she said “I will always love you.” Then why the fuck are you cheating on me???? Why the huge hostility now? Why the lies about me to try to generate sympathy for your cheating? Why the flying monkeys? Why the $40K in hidden credit card debt accumulated in the last two years with nothing to show for it? Why the demand to take all the assets, the kids, child support etc. moving me out and the other guy in and leaving me with absolutely nothing? How in the world can you do all that and call it love? You can’t. Fuck that, and fuck you ex-Mrs. Thingsthatmakemegrumpy.

      • Don’t give up hope! My marriage was annulled but not for ‘adultery’. The petition was accepted and stated “After having read the information submitted, the canonical ground tentatively proposed for the Tribunal’s study of your prior marriage is: “Whether the marriage is null and void on account of defective consent because of Partial Simulation Intention against Fidelity on the part of the Respondent, , (C. 1101,2).” Six months later my annulment was granted because there was no intent on fuckwit’s part for sexual fidelity in the marriage. (I don’t have the exact wording, but that was the gist.) Take heart!

        • I also have partial simulation as one of the grounds on my petition. The tribunal added psychological incapacity. It’s now on hold while they consult a psychological expert to review the testimony. I’m not sure what the evidentiary standards are. Ex isn’t cooperating, so it’s my word only, reporting things before, during, and revealed at the end of the marriage. It’s hard when these things are done in secret and withheld from an unsuspecting spouse, and no witnesses to conversations before the wedding or when she trickled out some truth about her lack of intention for permanence and fidelity, and lies told to secure marriage. I literally have nothing to corroborate my testimony.

          • Things, if your ex isn’t cooperating, that actually is a potential plus for your annulment request. Especially if they have another partner or have remarried. It may take a bit longer procedurally because yours is the only evidence (along with your witnesses) but your ex’s refusal to make a statement is not at all prejudicial to your case.

          • New Chump is correct, in fact the person I worked with told me up front that his refusal would not have any bearing on the case, and in fact may help. I told her up front that he would file that in file 13 as soon as he got it. I also told her not to call me to read anything he wrote if he did respond as he had already batterd me enough and I was not interested in anything he had to say.

            So he did throw it in file 13, and my daughter in law told me he was offended that I wanted to act like our marriage never existed. Lol, what an ass. The point of the annulment is not to act as if the marriage ever existed, it does not mean the children are illegitimate it is viewed as “having existed within civil law, but not valid according to Church law.”

            Anyway, as part of my testimony, I told my story and what happened in the year of discard. I told them that his parting shot to me was “I “dated” for the last ten years and I never loved you”. I honestly thing that nailed it for my annulment. I mean if he never loved me, then it is obviously the marriage was based on a lie.

            Anyway it took about a year, but mine was annulled. My H’s marriage was never annulled, (she fought it even though she was the one that walked, and he was never disloyal to her). She just wanted to be free, and alcohol was involved. She never got sober to any large degree. I only know this because their daughter told me some things.

            So we were married by my dads preacher because I wanted a faith based marriage, and then a few years later his ex died, and we got remarried in the Catholic Church.

            I think the biggest issue with his annulment was that he was career military so getting witnesses was very difficult as they never stayed in one place long. I had really good witnesses.

            But I think you shouldn’t give up if it is important to you. You never know what the tribunal will latch on to.

            It is just a shame what these fws do to us; then we are left holding the pain.

      • “I look back on my 27 years of marriage and every memory is tainted. Every single one of them.”

        Yep. Me too. 29 years for me, total of 33 years together. The only positive thing to come from it is my child and grandchild. Because of them, I never say that I wish I’d never married him or that my life has been a waste. To me, that would mean I wish they didn’t exist. But I hold no happy memories of him or our life together. Any memories of good times I thought we had have been putrefied by his double life and betrayal. As far as I’m concerned, my entire marriage was a lie; it was all a long con.

    • Hello Mitz! I can’t resist an invitation to debate. May I respectfully posit that no indeed your cheater may not have despised you. I agree with you on that one. I believe he did not care. Despizing you would have meant giving you centrality, and you were not the center of his universe as demonstrated by his actions.
      You might want to attack me on this posit ????

  • I’m at work so can’t send long response right now but yea…. This was my experience too except that our marriage was long and he was clearly a pompous ass while he was alive. One of the few reassuring factors in my life was that even though he was an ass, he was my ass… only to learn he was a lot of women’s ass.

    I have about a zillion things to say but will limit now to plead with you (truly) fine people to please quit telling her what a great deal she got… I totally understand the logic, but really in the moment, it’s not helpful.

    You are braver than I am … I don’t even want to sit with a therapist and make any attempt to describe my trauma but like CL said, the whole “keep the good memories drivel” is bullshit.

    I will respond more later today.

    • This board is for all opinions.

      If someone wants to feel their relationship was in some ways a mix of good and bad, then that is their right.

      • I don’t think “Unicornnomore” was responding to your idea that your husband loved you as best he could. I think she was responding to those who were telling the OP that her husband dying was better than the hell they have to go through because their exes are still alive.

        Fact is, there are all kinds of shit sandwiches at the shit sandwich restaurant chain, and each situation–living spouse, dead spouse, kids, no kids, hoovering, ghosting–comes with its own menu.

      • I was responding to CLs comments that some people (possibly therapists) would tell her to still treasure the good memories.

        Mitz, if you want to treasure whatever you had that was good, go on ahead…I just dont like it if others tell me I have to

        • That is my biggest challenge. I’ve gone from desperately holding on to good memories, to believing I really have none because he was always deceitful about his life in one way or another. I really feel that I lost a decade. Six years almost married to him and the four years prior.
          While I would really have liked to have found what I did when he was alive, I agree that the situation would have turned into a shit show and I would have spent the rest of our relationship wondering if he was lying and he would have spent it resenting me.

    • Among widows I know, one of the comforts the speak freely is the “He loved me to the end” and this is one of the things I feel cheated out of. When he died, we were in wreckonciliation but he still had terrible rages and I was SO done. I was ready to take the youngest child and go with the next rage. I had, however been overly hopeful since he had been caught in his “emotional affair” 7 years before he died so in reality, I did love him when he died and I grieved mightily.

      I found proof of his double life in 3 or 4 waves after he died…first it was gifts from and pictures of OW (he was supposed to dispose of anything from the affair) then I found hotel receipts which indicated there was sex and everything from him “coming clean” was a lie then I learned he had had “other affairs” (likely since we dated in the early 80s) before her …but the nail in the coffin (pardon the pun) was a hard-drive I found in the house that had a document in it that said “I never loved my wife”.

      So really, I was a wife appliance for 26 years…I pushed out some cute kids for him and he resented being with me.

      I really have suffered from the “dont speak ill of the dead” and the awkwardness of knowing that I would have caused my kids a lot of pain if I had spoken freely of their fathers betrayal.

      I would have been pissed as hell if I had learned that he impregnated someone when we were married. So he did lie to people and lied to that OW, but did she have any inkling her was married? He wasn’t being sincere with her if he was recording conversations.

      But you are left to grieve a death when you have learned that he was no where near as decent of a person as you had believed him to be. Suckfest it is.

      I think to myself, imagine dying and meeting your maker having done such a bad job staying true to the most sacred relationships you shared on earth…that is would world-class failure on their parts. Like you, I would have been fine with just a regular guy who was decent and true – mine forever sought grandiosity..a simple life with me was never enough. Right after Dday, when I was in a pain storm, that bastard smugly told me that his life goal was to be able to afford a “trophy wife”. He failed at the singular thing he had vowed to do and he failed spectacularly. For that I pity him.

      Since I couldn’t / haven’t told everyone that I was horribly betrayed. It is possibly a little messed up, but sometimes I share that “I was widowed in my 40s” and accept the kindness but I use it to salve the fact that I was married to an abusive liar, not that he died.

      I refuse to try to spend energy plucking good memories out of the life I spent with him…I have put most of everything I felt for him, put it in a heavy safe and thrown it over board. Fuck him and the nasty horse he came in on.

      He has been dead 9 years and I have rebuilt my life, remarried, finished school and have a blossoming career. Ive visited 15 countries and been a great mom to my kids. My feelings towards him are likely similar to those of a divorced woman but it took a long time to get there.

      Please know that watching my kids grieve has not been easy … at my daughters graduation, I was really surprised that I wished that he and OW were sitting a few seats over.

      I think its fine for Chumps to admit to themselves that life would have been easier if the Cheater had died and to say so (in almost every circumstance, hell scream it from the rooftops) because its likely true. I do, however encourage them to be very sparing with that message to Chumps like you or widows – there is nothing to be gained in that moment but pain could be inflicted on the widow or widow/chump. We have all suffered so much, we should try to avoid splatting extra pain around.

      My thoughts were kind of scattered (sorry about that) I hope that something I said left you feeling that you aren’t alone in this. Im so sorry you learned the person you loved showed himself to be a dud with no opportunity to redeem himself ever. For me, the hopeful me, one big loss was the loss of my hope…that he would someday choose to be a good man…the man I thought he was or could be.

      • The ex’s brother said it would’ve been better if he never had that stent 11 years ago, then he’d be dead. He’s dead to me anyway. That’s my son’s line too.

        Some think it, some say it….

      • I thought I had replied to this, thank you so much. I am choosing to stop trying to pluck out the good memories too. It’s painful. What I was doing originally, which was very damaging to me, was taking each individual good memory and deciding if he was with “her” during this period. If he was, I felt horrible. If he wasn’t, I felt I could keep it, but you’re right. None of these memories were real. I don’t even know if there was more than one affair partner. There may have been several, I have no idea. I have also stopped digging and looking for more. What I found was enough to convince me that our short marriage was a pile of shit and I really don’t need more pain in my life. Your words really helped me, thank you so much.

  • How strange it is, this experience, that when a chump tells their story, revealing that the D-Day happened after the FW’s death, that Chump Nation’s collective response is “You are free; you are so lucky.”

    I remember sobbing into my mother’s arms after my first D-Day and the public revelation of FW’s first GF. I felt like he had changed overnight into a stranger. He paraded his GF in front of me when he and she came to pick up the kids for visits. He never missed an opportunity to tell me that she was his soulmate and I was a mistake. Who was this cruel man? Where did my loving husband go? I remember crying to my mother, “I feel like he died. I feel like a widow because the man I married disappeared, but there’s this cruel alien walking around using his body!”

    That cruel alien is still a part of my life and, as we share children, he, and his Wifetress, will be in my life for the rest of our lives.

    So, yeah, I’m on team “Count yourself lucky that your FW died.” You get to escape the post D-Day in-person abuse, gaslighting, and mindfuck blendering. But you do have alternate challenges that come with a posthumous D-Day; the urge not to speak ill of the dead, which is a cultural thing that’s baked into me as well, would likely be a fairly big challenge.

    Find safe spaces (here, other help groups online, a *good* therapist (if you can find one; I never did)) and speak ill of the dead in those safe spaces. Lots and lots of ill!!!

    I’m sorry you lost a partner. And I’m sorry you found out that that partner was no partner at all. It’s gutting. I’m sorry. Don’t bother contacting the OW anymore. She won’t help you at all.

    And, yes, run to a doctor and get STD tested immediately.

    • What a horrible nightmare your FW subjected you to…but please know that he will continue this vile behavior with others. It’s his warped nature.

      • Honestly, I believe that my ex might not continue his vile behavior with others. It depends. Maybe he found Jesus and decided he needs to get right with the Lord or he’ll end up in hell. But in all honesty, it doesn’t matter to me anymore. I used to console myself with the thought that he would continue being a dick to his skank after the shinyness faded. After all, she deserved it. And then I’d cause my own anxiety thinking that maybe he’ll be wonderful to her. But whether he is wonderful or not, he wasn’t wonderful to me. And even though I hadn’t found Chumplady at the time, I had to answer her question, “Is this acceptable to you?” When I finally realized that it didn’t matter whether he was or was not great to his skank for the rest of his life, I could finally pull myself out of the mindfuck blender. What he did to me and my family was not acceptable to me. He could have changed over our marriage, but he wasn’t going to change because he didn’t want to. I gave him 30+ years of my life and multiple opportunities to change, but he didn’t do it. If he hadn’t changed in 30 years, I was no longer going to spend anymore time giving him a chance to change. I gave him 30 years and I wasn’t willing to give him more. So that’s when I finally decided that I wasn’t going to ever go through the shit show again and divorce him. I finally realized that ‘it wasn’t acceptable to me’. I finally learned to love myself and realize that I deserved better in this world.

  • Oh, Mary. What a gut-punch. I’ve known a few women who have uncovered their spouse’s double-life after the spouse died, leaving them traumatized and with questions that have NO chance of being answered.

    Not that cheaters actually answer questions truthfully.

    I remember thinking, when XH #1 left me for his schmoopie, that it would have been so much easier if he had just died. I would have to grasp there was no way of reconciliation, no way to bring him back. As it was, I dealt with my trauma while he was living the life he wanted with a definite step-down.

    Mary, you were the unknowing victim of ABUSE. I will join the chorus of “get STD tested”. Also, don’t forget hepatitis.

    • My ex became very ill and almost died. I went to Catholic Mass every day for a month during my lunch hour praying for her recovery. I was deathly afraid of her dying. She recovered, only to dump me a few years later. I couldn’t help but think how much better it would have been for me if she had died. I would have sympathy, retained my friends and reputation, not had her lies spread about me, I would still own a house, she wouldn’t have tried to poison my children against me, I wouldn’t have a bankruptcy on my credit, I could date again when I felt ready (Catholic, so marriage is for life even if the other party leaves), and I wouldn’t have to deal with trying to obtain an annulment. I don’t wish anyone dead, but I can’t help but think how life would be better for me had she died back then.

      • I also thought, “It would have been easier had he died.” It sounds to me that you are still pretty raw from all this. It took me at least 4 years post divorce to pull my head completely out of the mindfuck blender. But I did, and you will too. Just be kind to yourself while you’re still spinning around. Have lots of faith that you’ll get through this and you will be a much better person in the future. That’s not what you want to hear right now. If you’re like me (when I was still raw and angry), you wanted your marriage! And you’re angry because you did everything right! At this juncture, you certainly don’t want my placations that what you’re suffering will make you a better man in future. “STOP!” (you say.) All I can tell you is that someday you will realize that she did you a favor. You will realize that she saved you from years and years and years of the same shit show that you’ve gone through and are still going through. What helped me was to talk out my anger with priests, friends, strangers, whoever, but it also took time. Time alone would not have helped. I had to vomit out all of my anger over the injustice for years until I had no more to vomit. That took time. I am 6.5 years post divorce and I am the most content that I’ve been in years.

        • Yes, you get me. I was approaching Tuesday and in a much better place. Then I went to a wedding recently and had to leave the reception early because of anxiety. There were a lot of people I had not seen in a long time, and I began to dread if one of them asked “How’s Mrs. Thingsthatmakemegrumpy?” or other such questions. I’m three years out and had not done anything social in all that time. And it all came flooding back. I did not want to deal with that. If not for my kids I would have moved to the other side of the country and started an entirely new life just to avoid that sort of thing. So I’ve gone from Monday evening back to Friday morning, and need to wait a bit to get to Tuesday.

  • I’m sorry you are one of us Mary. I am a bit envious-not having to split finances and dealing with divorce. I always thought it would be so much easier if he had just died. I don’t know what hell you are living through but I send you hugs. None of us get our questions answered. We live with not knowing or understanding, feeling bamboozled.. rather cold cocked. Take care of yourself. Do nice things for yourself.

  • Mary, I’m sorry you are going through this. There is support here. My cheater died just 7 weeks after our divorce was finalized. I knew he was cheating and it wasn’t a surprise at that point. Even so, it’s still hard. You mourn and grieve the life that you thought you had. You mourn and grieve the death of the person you thought he was. You get angry and want to have arguments and answers but there is only silence. You wonder what was real and what wasn’t. Take some Chump Lady advice and reassure yourself that YOU were real. Your love was real. You participated.

    It is okay to grieve. It is a cyclical process. Sadness, anger, acceptance, back to sadness and anger. My cheater died a little over a year ago. It has gotten easier but there are still moments. Sometimes, though, it’s hard to remember him. Hang in there.

  • My ex left four years ago this month after over a decade of talking about leaving and how bad the divorce would be. After he left, I had an inkling that I was living out what he wanted all along although I took hopium periodically as well. When I finally was able to close my file with my attorney, all of the puppies and rainbows were gone, and I was back in reality.

    One of my favorite quotes for my situation:

    “You can’t lose what you never had, you can’t keep what’s not yours, and you can’t hold on to something that doesn’t want to stay.”

    The author (Damon Suede) is a sketchy character, but the words are true.

    Multiple divorce professionals commented along the way that I probably only knew the tip of the iceberg and that spouses who run typically have a boatload of shame and secrets. It’s awful that you found out after he died, but there may well have been more. Some never find out, and some like me decide not to dig too far and just move on. The bottom line is that at some point a crack developed that ultimately broke the marriage. No one asks for that.

    It will get better though. Really!

  • After finding this blog, I reconsidered what may have caused a great-aunt’s suicide a few years after her husband slit his wrists on Christmas Day. He was sterile and refused to adopt, which she accepted. Her parents had divorced in the early 1900s and maybe she felt like damaged goods, lucky to find a husband from a “good family”. Did she discover things after he chose to ruin Christmas for the rest of her life ?

  • Just to reiterate what some others here have said, you are fortunate in many ways. Obviously, it’s awful that you lost your spouse, then your good memories and your belief in your marriage.

    But you don’t have to tangle with lawyers and courts and custody, which is a horrible gauntlet to walk when you’re already traumatized. You don’t have to fight for anything – it will just come to you like it should. You also get the benefit of sympathy from everyone. Chumps don’t get sympathy for more than a few weeks, if that. Soak up that sympathy. Let people take care of you. Most chumps wish we had people who took care of us during our trauma. Instead, we were dismissed, told to get over it, stop being bitter, and move on. No casseroles. No help with the house or kids. No time off from work. No one letting us cry at the drop of a hat. We got cruel ex-spouses, affair partners moving in, and legal sharks circling the waters. I can’t tell you how many times I wished my spouse had died. My children and I would have been infinitely better off – life insurance, death benefits, savings, and family home. With all of that financial security and community sympathy (as opposed to public humiliation), we would have been able to continue our lives just as we had been living it. Instead, we lost everything and had to start over elsewhere.

    I know you are wrestling with some serious pain and cognitive distortions but I wouldn’t tell anyone except your closest. Let people keep seeing – and treating – you as a widow. You don’t need to hear the “get over it” bullshit. Try to take comfort in the fact that you were spared the insults after the injury.

  • The other chumps have said everything I would say. I agree with CL on every point except one …..I don’t believe “God called him home”….God called him somewhere else.

  • i’m sorry, Mary. that’s tough. keep looking for a good therapist.

    perhaps when time eases your pain you will come to the understanding that men, executives in particular, often use their wives as a commodity in their exchanges with other men. i.e. “i’ve got a wife and she does this, and i’ve got some kids and they do this.” it gives them a certain weight, a seriousness. it’s a bit like checking off a box on a checklist.

    as my daughter recently said, “i don’t think men really like women, mom. not really. they just use them and not just for sex.” when she said this, i thought, man, she’s smart. and, for some reason, i thought about men placing the women of their lives in a multi-room diorama of their own creation and moving them around, at will. posing them as they see fit.

    men involve themselves with other, younger women as a form of a addictive behaviour (it’s a rush to have an illicit affair) + simultaneously feeding their egos.

    Mary, no one asks to be used/posed and it’s a shitty feeling.

    build your own diorama.

    • Girls base a lot of what they think of men on what their fathers do. I hope you didn’t feed into that narrative that all men are bad. I made sure that I never told my son that women are users or don’t like men. I had friends who were girls whose mothers badmouthed men so much that they became man-haters/lesbians (their own words). It was sad.

      My ex wife said “my only worth was the money I bring in”. I was a husband appliance.

      • i don’t think all men are bad, not at all, nor do i feed into a narrative that all men are so. but there is something to the commodification of women and that’s what i’m talking about here. i am a woman and speaking from my perspective.

        i hear what you’re saying about being viewed as a paycheque. slotted. that’s shitty.

        it’s difficult to be viewed as two-dimensional, whether we’re male or female. and to be used.

        • narcissists. they’re kinda predictable, aren’t they?

        • My FW said something similar to me: “All I am is a paycheck to you.” I had no idea where that was coming from. I loved him; I loved him more than I loved myself and I pretzeled in all sorts of ways to prove that love to him. When he said that, I still didn’t know about GF#1, so I had no idea why he was accusing me of only thinking of him as a paycheck–it was heartbreaking.

          Years, one fling of his, and three secret girlfriends later, his prediction finally came true: he’s just a monthly paycheck to me.

          • Yes! And I hope it’s sizeable and he HURTS every time he has to see the deduction in his checkbook.

    • I truly loved my wife and put her and her needs first in my life, to my own detriment. There are men who act like your daughter describes, but they are not the majority. Most men will settle down with one woman. My sons, my brothers, me, we didn’t date much. We settled down with one woman early. Then there are others that women won’t take a second look at. Think short men, fat men, some racial minorities, people employed in low-status jobs. Then there are the players who go for multiple women continuously even if they marry one of them. Because they are going for multiple women, they will appear to be the majority of men because the good guys are already with a woman, or they won’t consider a guy who doesn’t seem impressive enough to them to get their attention. Those men ruin it for the rest of us.

      • I’m sure there are good, honorable men out there. We’ve had the privilege to “meet” many on this site.

        Also, my son seems like a pretty decent guy. Just sayin’.

    • Remember, every man that is cheating, is cheating with a willing woman. LGBTQ get cheated on too.

  • Howdy Ms. Mary,

    Firstly, I love your name! I follow “baby Jesus” so please know that my encouragement for you is built on the being a Pastor’s kid.

    Here is a link to a fantastic article from a LCSW:

    This article was so awesome on this subject I hope you find the “Therapist’s Words” helpful.

    Everyone who reads the Chump Lady has their own “Path” of how they got here. And ALL of us have a “Different” way and circumstances of how EACH of us got “BLIND-SIDED” by INFIDELITY…

    So, I want to say, “We see you and we hear you!!”

    No-one can tell how to WALK the “Double-Edged Sword” of what you are walking. There is NO WRONG WAY to GRIEVE the LOSS of the DEEP CONNECTIONS you can make with another Human Being.

    Especially when YOU Gave your LOVE with all your heart to this person!!
    ONLY to FIND OUT… That Dr. Jekyll had turned into Mr. Hyde…

    And even right now 9-years post divorce because I have my (2) AMAZING SONS… I am STILL WALKING A LIVING DEATH…

    Because that is what this is!! Its a Dying of my Love that in the same token… I would NOT BE … Where and Who I Am if I hadn’t encountered this other living soul… I wouldn’t be the Mother of the my children… Who I have no doubts God wanted on this Planet for a Reason…


    And That is WHY LOVE is worth it… Because “IN-LOVE” You Can Say, “I Don’t Know How it Happened and Why you Decided Certain Actions… But I choose to Honor Myself and KNOW that I DID the Best I Could!! And GOD Will Remember and Honor those Actions”

    I will Pray that you can Find and Receive – Respect for Yourself and Recognize the VALUE of Who You Are in your life Because of All the People you have encountered…

    Best of Luck… #Sometimes

    • The highlights for me from the linked article

      “Someone who is grieving a betrayal does not get any time off at all” by the author

      “Eventually a drowning person gets tired. Sink or swim, but no more treading water.” One of the comments

      • Also the terms “disenfranchised grief” or “stigmatized grief”. People view the hurting person judgmentally.

        • Howdy,

          I wanted Mary to Know that there are “Others” like her. Grieving any kind of Loss is difficult. Infidelity is also a “Loss”. So its the Double-Whammy!

          I felt that the overall tone of the article was insightful. Plus, its also a good indicator there are Therapists who get where Mary is coming from…

  • One of my ex’s is dead. The other is not really well due to underlying health conditions and bad life choices. I hardly ever hear from him, unless it is about our children. The only time I really think about either of them is when I come here. I put on my analytical thinking cap to see if some of the bad experience can be converted to good advice to pay it forward.

    Believe it or not, time really does heal, and no contact accelerates healing. You’ve had a series of bad shocks, but at least you know he won’t do any more damage. Work on yourself. If you feel you need therapy to fox your picker, go for it. You have unknowingly gone through the fire, now you wonder why and how you survived. We are so glad you did! Give yourself the gift of finding what brings you joy, and living the life you want to live. Good Luck!

  • Where I got this information I do not know. It could be here, or it could be from other sites I visit but you need to read this article. It’s called Lying by Jonathan Wallace. It’s in the ethical spectacle. It covers everything and I think it’s one of the best I have ever read. Then please find Anna Fels article in the New York Times. It’s about being blindsided.

      • Thanks for the link. This section caught my eye. So true!:

        “In being unfaithful, I create a situation in which my wife has a false view of reality: she loses her way. She reposes all her trust and love in me based on an understanding that we are exclusive, that all my concern is invested in her, and this understanding is completely false. She is in effect living in a house which may appear solid but has no foundation. I can’t imagine a greater fraud than to steal years of someone’s life this way. The opportunity costs are tremendous: your spouse had the opportunity to find someone else who was truthful and build a life with him and you robbed her of that.”

        • I took note of that too. It’s very perceptive, and captures everything I had thought about my wife’s infidenlity.

        • That quote should come with a warning to all chumps who aren’t comfortably at No Contact yet. That’s the sort of thing I would have emailed my ex when I wanted him to apologize and stop fucking with me and just admit he was a complete POS who had stolen irreplaceable years of my life.

    • Letgo,

      YES!!! I found that article early on and it is still one of my all time favorites.

      Velvet Hammer added this link to another article last week. It is also extremely powerful in how it details specifically what happens to those of us who have been betrayed:

      Mary dear, you are out of the covert stage talked about in the article and grappling with all of the stuff that comes up once ‘discovery’ has happened. Honor what you feel and keep on learning more.

      I do believe that more will be revealed to us when we are ready.

      Hurts like hell and, for me, it has been very confusing as well but by reading things here and in books others have recommended I know I AM OKAY and my feelings are NORMAL for people who have been betrayed by the person they trusted and loved the most.

      I find great comfort here when people share their experiences about how they have reached Tuesday/meh. I know I am not alone.

      (Just to ‘qualify’ – 30+yrs with the love of my life and then dday. Covert stage ended and into the basement – to use the term from the article above, I got a peak at 30+ years of his serial cheating behavior followed by his running off with the love of his life.)

  • Mary – I am so sorry for the complications to your grief. My first thought was “wow!” and not in a good way. This is truly confusing.

    The cheater I was married to for 36 years cheated by porn & prostitutes & other illicit sexual activity. He lived that life since before I met him and he was really good at concealment 38 years ago. I am imagining that your spouse was the same way – he had already perfected the art of concealing his secret life (double, triple, or other variations on hidden activity) from EVERYONE, and the person he let you see is the person you thought you knew. Unfortunately, this is just a shell over the real person, or the “mirage” as some people call it. I struggled for years with disbelief when some pieces of truth trickled out. I couldn’t believe it of my spouse! It was so different from his shell of conservative and happy person, and “great” husband and involved father. Until more & more evidence came out over the next years. Even then it was difficult to believe. What helped me see reality was hanging on to any proof I had of his dishonesty: bank statements, credit card statements, photos of spreadsheets left on the computer, etc. Also getting tested for STI’s & having HPV come back positive was a big dose of reality for me.

    I also think that you will really need to keep going to therapists, or possibly someone else, like a pastor or good friend, who can hear you out about these discoveries. Otherwise you will find that you are beginning to lead a double life yourself: the one life where you appropriately omit the truth about him and let others continue to believe he was the “good” person (because too much sharing with certain people can be inappropriate), and your true life where you know your entire world of the last 6 years just imploded. That can make you crazy if you don’t have anyone in person to spill to and make sense of both realities. I am sure he was fun to be with, that he did a lot of good things, and that you had no idea that his other life existed. I made mistakes of oversharing with people I wish later I hadn’t -it is a skill to learn who, when, what, and how much to share, but the key is to have at least one person that you find you can trust.
    Eventually, you will be able to make sense of it all. I’m guessing that it will take many years, as it did for me, and then you still will have a lifetime of memories of both sides of him. Finding out about a hidden life of a spouse is a trauma and it takes time to “metabolize” this information in a way that won’t be entirely destructive.

    • UPandOut,

      ‘takes time to metabolize’ this info.’

      Love how you put this and it is exactly what I needed to read today because, at year 4 since dday and 2 at NC, I want to be where you appear to be in your process….. Patience has NEVER been one of my virtues 🙂

      Yes, I can say this tongue in cheek because my sense of humor has been restored.

      Your words shared here remind me to keep on keeping on.

      Last night my daughter, after cleaning out part of her closet, was marveling at all I had accomplished when she was young. (She had uncovered things I had stored on one of her top shelves.) My comment to her was that nothing I had done was a big deal because it was all done in small steps over time. Little things done every day until a specific project was completed. Over a 30 year period it does add up.

      Rings true for your words of encouragement to Mary.

      • Thanks EC. I’m pretty sure “metabolize” is used by Minwalla. He had some podcasts & I can remember his voice saying that. Made sense to me as I studied the old Kreb’s cycle long ago!

        I come here every day to continue to understand what the heck happened over the last 38 years.

  • I think when the cheater dies people feel like it’s worse because there’s no chance of “closure.”

    But the reality is nobody gets closure with these psychopaths. And sometimes you have to really look at your blessings, even if they’re twisted and seem messed up. If he’s dead you don’t have to see him walking around pretending to be an entirely new person with a new mask tricking new people and smearing you to people who used to be your friends and family. Because I gotta tell you, that’s horrifying. It’s bad.

    And I’m not trying to play pain olympics. I look at my own twisted blessings too. Mine discarded me brutally, which means he doesn’t bother me. He says nasty, horrible things about me but by cutting nearly everyone we knew out of my life I can avoid it and him and move on. Some people get harassed by their psychopath. I am grateful I don’t have to deal with that.

    It sucks for everyone who has been betrayed like this. It’s so bad. I’ve found it helps to look for the little silver lining of “Well, at least I don’t have to deal with *insert whatever applies for you here*.”

    These double life people are total psychos. They are what inspire the “unbelievable” lifetime channel thrillers. There’s no closure with them, there’s no understanding it, they’re barely human. When they’re alive and the betrayal is found out the best advice I got was “Pretend he died because the person you loved basically is dead, he never existed.” It just sucks but you can get through it. Take it one step at a time and be kind to yourself.

    • I tell myself, “Well, I could have married somebody much worse.” For example, I could have married somebody who killed me and then faked his remorse as he cashed in my life insurance policy. I went to an abused wife session once and a lady sat across from me and described how her husband threw gasoline on her and she was fighting the infections from 3rd-degree burns all over her legs. I remember thinking, “Oh my gosh!!! You better hope they don’t get around to you before this session is over and all you have to say (when describing your abuse) is, ‘My husband spoke to me in a condescending manner.’ You better hop in your Mercedes and get the hell out of here and never come back!” So it could have been worse.

    • I don’t pretend my ex died because I’m done pretending. Instead, I think of the (still troubled and flawed) hologram I believed in as an inanimate object. A table. He was never real, never alive, to begin with.

      • One thing I struggle with is his ashes. He was cremated and I have them in my house. I go from wanting to throw them out the window, to feeling horrible because I feel some sick connection. I’m not comfortable with this situation at all and would love to hear anyone’s thoughts.

        • Buy a niche in a cemetery for them. Job done. Condolences for what you are going through.

        • Maybe ask a friend to store them for a while? Or in the garden shed?

          I just read Cheating in a Nutshell, recommended by many others on this site over the past months. The authors say one of the first reactions to learning about the cheating is disgust. Next is anger. You’ve got both going on here with the ashes.

        • If you can I would suggest buying a place in a cemetary for him. Also, if he has any military experience with a honorable discharge, (it can even be reserves) he can be buried in a national cemetery with a graveside service, and it won’t cost anything.

          I did the research because my brother and his wife recently died on the same day. I checked while I was trying to figure out the best way to take care of them. In my case I chose the cemetery where my mother and siblings are, because he and his wife had wanted that.

          But that option is there if he qualifies.

  • For me, after finding out my husband was cheating, whether or how long my husband loved me is akin to a smoking section on an airplane.

  • This happened to me. You can read all about my experience in Dead Cheater Dilemma back from June 2018 on Chump Lady. We were high school sweethearts. Had a very strong marriage, I thought. It’s so unbelievably complex – these feelings. Anger, incredulity, utter despair, “regular” grief at his death.

    I’m 3 years out now and doing much better. I have very strong family and friend support, and that has made all the difference. I wish you healing and happiness. It’s a long road, but you will get there.

    • DEFINITELY worth the look back! Your letter expressed the confusion so eloquently and CL response is still amazing. I came to CN that summer. Glad to hear you’re doing much better!

  • Hi Mary,

    I’m so sorry you found out all of this stuff. I wonder if it would have been easier for you if you hadn’t found out? Maybe not. Maybe you would have compared him, your piece of perfection, to everyone you’d meet in the future, and those people would never measure up. Maybe providence, in some kind way, shone the light down on his secrets for you to be protected from idolizing him. It’s so easy to revere the dead in a way that puts them on pedestals.

    Anyway, I was wondering if it would help to write him a letter? I know that’s a therapist thing to say (and I’m not a therapist,) but it’s something I learned in a training class for grief recovery. Tell him what you’re sorry for, without asking for forgiveness (obviously,) what you’re thankful for, what you wished for, what you were disappointed about, and then tell him about the discovery, about your contact the other woman, etc., and describe everything in detail, especially your feelings. And when you’re finished, READ THE LETTER to someone! It’s a way of completing an exchange with a person without being in contact with the person.

    It might work for all who are in No Contact. (Goodness, I should try it, too! I think I will!!!)

    Yay, this is wonderful. I’m gonna do it.

    Hmmmm… it would be cool if there was a whole blog where people wrote letters to their exes… I love it… alive or dead… married or not… recent or years ago… just remembering the memories out loud and completing the relationship in a letter, that never gets posted…

    I’m gonna start mine now… I think it will help me… I’m here for some reason… so I might as well work it…

    • Thank you so much for saying this. I often think about how blissfully ignorant I could have been if I hadn’t found what I did on his phone. Unfortunately for me there were recordings and screenshots of their conversations on his computer as well so I would have found those eventually. I wish I could grieve him but honestly I don’t know that I have much to grieve in terms of what I lost. Because I didn’t have the husband I thought I had at all. I didn’t even really know him.

      • Mary: You really have at least a triple whammy, lost your husband, found out about the deception and realized that for at least three years you did not have what you thought you did. My heart breaks for you. About the ashes, think about what you would be more comfortable doing and/or what you would have done with them if you had not found out. It would not be a comfort to me to have them around the house.

        Mary: You have had at least a triple whammy hit you: Your husband died, you found out about the deception and then also you have to grieve losing who you thought he was. My heart breaks for you. About the ashes: I would do whatever makes me feel more comfortable: Honor his wishes if you knew what he wanted, do whatever you would have done with them if you had not found out, ask a friend or family member (without telling them unless you are comfortable doing so) for their opinion, you could just say you are having a hard time deciding what to do with them. By all means whatever you think will make you less uncomfortable. I know nothing gives you peace now. Keep reading on this site and you will see you are a member of a BIG group with many helpful posts. There has been comfort for me in reading Chump Lady’s columns and posts of the many good people who post. Please remember you did not do anything to cause what happened. He was deceptive because he could, he wanted to and probably had an attitude of whatever Mary does not know…….or entitlement. God bless you.

  • I always thought it would have been better if he’d died. People don’t bring casseroles when one’s husband leaves them for a massage parlor whore. ????

    My Fuckwit had a heart attack and emergency bypass surgery almost exactly a year before he left. I suppose I would have found out about his double life if he had died then. I would have had access to his phone and all would be revealed. It would have been a tremendous shock and I would have been devastated, but at least I’d have his pension and social security to soften the blow of wasting over 30 years of my life.

    I agree with Chumplady. I think God got tired of watching you being played for a fool and did you a favor by taking him out. Be thankful it didn’t go on for another 5,10,20 years. Or 30, in my case.

    I know it’s a total mind fuck finding out your husband isn’t who you thought him to be. Believe me, I know. And I know the lack of closure must be hard. Time and distance is starting to heal me and I hope it will be the same for you. ❤️

    • “People don’t bring casseroles when one’s husband leaves them for a massage parlor whore.” Right? But I think in many ways it brings out who your real friends are. A lot of people will:
      -avoid you
      -blame you
      -suspect you
      -gather information for gossip
      But true friends will listen, empathize, and be there.

  • I’m sorry that you found out so soon after his death. About the same time the casseroles and cards and condolences and flowers are rolling in. Im sure that was a very difficult and confusing time for you. After Dday, during one of my angry tirades I realized and he confirmed that now Xh had spent a lot of Saturday afternoons joy riding with OW on our motorcycle while I was working. This act for some reason really really pissed me off. I said to him (among other things) “Thanks a fucking lot. What would have happened if you would have died on that bike when you were out joy riding with the neighbor (OW)! Just think about the position I would have been put in! Having to explain that to people!” He looked me in the eyes and said “So Im dead and your worried about yourself?” I didn’t even know how to respond.
    So it doesn’t matter whether they are alive or dead. They just don’t care about you. Im sure the death thing adds another layer to the awful situation. Im sure you feel like you got cheated out of answers. Mary you didn’t. You would not have gotten answers even if he was alive.

  • I had a girlfriend who also discovered a different person after death. She married someone who was pursuing her she had met through ballroom dancing. It was not a quickie marriage — she thought about it a lot. One day she called to let me know he was in the hospital. I drove from work to be with her. He did not recover and left her widowed.
    The first lie she uncovered was his age — he was 22 years older than he claimed. The lies kept coming in. She was his fifth wife; not his second. He had a daughter the same age as my friend was that she knew nothing about. Another adult child — a son — popped up in there.
    Then came all the ballroom dancing “girlfriends” who thought they were his one and only.
    It was ugly and shocking.

    • Holy ????! Note to self-run a background check before marrying. And ask to see their driver’s license and/or passport pre sex.
      When my mother died, we hired the attorney my father’s third wife worked with for years. He knew us yet still asked for our driver’s licenses.

  • Thanks for sharing, Mary. I can’t imagine that sort of discovery. You don’t even get the choice to run the gambit of pick me, untangling and the slow realization that your husband was actually a twat by watching him act like one. This part is necessary in my opinion. We are here for you when you feel you need some sort of debrief.
    My ex is part of the undead. He’s dead to ME but walking around like a zombie. Brain dead with his mid life crisis. Stinking up the neighborhood. A constant reminder. Like when you step in dog crap on a walk, nearly forget until you catch a whiff and think “oh yeah, you’re still there.”

    • I was thinking the same thing. How do you get to “trust they suck” when the cheater dies before you get dragged through DDay and all that follows? It’s still surreal and unbelievable when the cheater is alive and you’re experiencing it. I hope CL’s reprogramming crusade and the chump testimonies here will help. Take care, Mary.

  • Dark, but true: A dead spouse can’t kill you.

    And his character made it a bit more likely statistically that he would have.

    • I have thought about your comment. I have wondered what he would have done if I would have backed him into a corner. I’m glad I didn’t have to do that, because I don’t know what the outcome would have been.

      • The police detectives etc after putting together what was known at the time, said I’m lucky he didn’t take my children and me with him. And he could have done it at any time. A lot more came out weeks and months later and the full extent of his crazy still scares me. I think remaining oblivious to what they were doing does give you some protection unless they have found your replacement and you are worth enough dead. And I was worth enough. Except he was too entitled to split assets and move out and I had already had what things I knew documented with police, my lawyer and a new will etc. so that helped. It adds another mental layer to deal with but there is no danger to us now. My friends going through messy divorces and child custody issues have it worse now and couldn’t understand at the time how lucky I thought they were when their assholes left and moved out. But now I only need to deal with what’s in my head and raising my children – there’s a level of freedom I have that they don’t but at the same time my children miss their other parent, so it’s a balancing act. This blog makes it clear no matter how things play out for a chump it’s not easy on anyone that becomes entangled with these subspecies of human. We didn’t do anything wrong, it’s all on them.

  • None of us gets to choose, but it is 100% valid to have a preference when you are living one scenario and oblivious to the other. By talking this through we still can support each other.

    Dead, not dead:

    Dead: you never get to confront them. This is the biggest issue it seems, that you don’t get answers nor the satisfaction of them knowing that they are busted and you are on to them. Not dead: You don’t get answers, you get abuse. They lie and blame shift. Countless stories are here of the worthless episodes of being mind fucked, raged at, and bald face lied to, right before being presented with a list of PTSD-inducing reasons why you are just so awful. Confronting them can cost you the humiliation of pick-me dancing and years of recovery from self-loathing and depression from the wounds they casually inflict on their way out as they go chase their happiness.

    Dead: You are expected to keep up appearances and not tell people what happened. You can choose not to though, and can relay that you discovered infidelity. Not Dead: They will spin their own tales about your sexless, horrid ways that forced them to cheat. Or alternatively, they will tell people that you “grew apart” while you watch the rancid AP take your place among friends and former family. You will watch them skip off apparently unscathed by consequence while you struggle with the invisible “D” on your chest. As a widow/widower you are given automatic social sympathy but as a betrayed spouse you are often seen as inadequate and probably at fault. You will constantly have to explain the divorce to potential partners, where as a w/w you have nothing to account for.

    Not dead: They spend eterntity driving a wedge between you and your kids. Dead: your kids have a sad but simple story to tell about the parent’s death rather than one about horrid abandonment and abuse. They don’t have to adapt to the Schmoopie of the Month or joint custody and support payment nightmares.

    Not dead: They stalk and harass and could harm you physically. Dead: You never have to look over your shoulder again for them.

    Not dead: They steal financial resources. Dead: you get it all, and maybe even a payout of insurance or SS death benefits.

    • Thank you for posting this. I’ve had more support in the last 24 hours from people who understand than I have in 12 months. I am heartbroken in part because for him there was no way out of our marriage, at least not easily. He had left his wife of 26 years 1 year before he met me. Explaining to his family that the 30 year old he was having sex with would be his new wife was not an option. He would have been ostracized from his own family.
      As I type this I also know he wasn’t looking for another wife. He was a horrible husband. He wanted her on the side. That’s really what it was about.
      When I found their discussions I realized he had been lying to her about his health, which given what happened is rather ironic.
      He had been telling her he had spent time in hospital with me by his side for days on end. He had heart problems he said. He then told her he had cancer. That was one of the last discussions I read. He told her he wanted to meet and I am assuming it ended after this.
      Why he wanted to end it I have no idea. He was not ill at the time, had not been hospitalized and none of that was true. He even told her he had been travelling with work (which he had) in Boston and had been hospitalized there. We’re Canadian and he was covered under my plan. I went as far as to contact people at his work to ask if he had been in hospital in the US.
      I felt like I was losing my mind.
      I later found out nearly everything was a lie. His stories were so convincing with so much detail (that he managed to remember year after year) and I repeated them to friends, and his own grown children.
      The balloon was burst on the lies he told me when his daughter said she knew the story I was telling her wasn’t true.
      That’s when I seeked out his ex-wife and she confirmed that none of what he had told me was true.
      I’m glad I don’t have to listen to him lie to me about what had happened or gaslight me or any of the other things that I know would have happened but man, do I ever miss the man I thought I married. That man was a good guy. The man thst died was not the man I knew.

      • I’m sure you’ve considered this option, Mary, but would you feel comfortable passing the ashes along to his adult children for them to decide what to do with them? That seems like a respectful and reasonable option.

        • Thank you, yes I have thought of that. The one daughter lives fairly close. She really misses her father, he was so good to her and they loved each other. I’m really considering this and may reach out to her in the next few weeks.

    • I should mention that yes, I did get insurance payouts after he died. I convinced him to get insurance about 4 years ago. He had three policies and they all paid out. Thanks to him I am living in a home that is paid for and while there is none of this money left, I am financially secure. What a horrible way to feel good about something, but it is what it is. I do believe he stayed with me because he had no other way of financially surviving. I don’t think he would have ever left. Not because he loved me, but because there was no other option.

    • Dead: You are expected to keep up appearances and not tell people what happened. You can choose not to though, and can relay that you discovered infidelity.

      I am not willing to uphold his good name anymore. His legacy is one of shit, but that’s not my fault it’s his. His ex-wife knows about what happened, and she told their two adult daughters. I have two adult daughters myself, and one knows. His sister also knows, because she came to stay with me with his mother just after he died. When I found what I did, I felt like I was having a mental breakdown, and I told her what happened.

      She hasn’t spoken to me since. I don’t blame her for this because she is avoiding me because she literally doesn’t know what to say about the brother she adored, the man she thought he was, and the man he ended up being.

      I did not tell his mother because she lost a son she adored. She is in her late 70s and is in poor health. She doesn’t need this shit in her life.

      I expect I will have no further contact with his sister or mother and that’s ok. I don’t want to play the grieving widow when that is really not what I am.

      • This is fair. We are only as sick as our secrets and you can lay this burden down. You are all his victims but not everyone knows it or is willing to accept it. This was not a silly indiscretion on his part, this was active sociopathy. I don’t think you can live 55 years without family putting the pieces together themselves– you just gave them the straight bits on the edge and they will have to make their own decision to fill it in or remain willfully ignorant. ((hugs))

        • Mary, I think you should think about giving his ashes to his mother, sister or daughters to deal with. No one needs a cheater’s ashes in their house, they’re only messing with your mind when you see them and will stop you from getting to meh faster.

        • When I learned that my ex had been cheating on me, I was shocked and revolted, and my self esteem immediately plummeted. But as I recovered from the initial shock and continued to learn more and more about the length and depth and number of affairs, I felt an odd sense of relief, and I regained some of my lost confidence. The two times I read emails that uncovered some really ugly truths about who my ex was and what he’d been doing to me, I was disgusted and traumatized, but a weight lifted overnight. It really wasn’t me, all along, all those years. It was him, and I didn’t want him.

          With time, I was able to use this new information and my growing acceptance to revisit and reframe years of abuse that started before the cheating (that I know of). I am so glad that I know what I do, because the disappointing reality helps to explain a lot, and it helps me know what I need to focus on for my own personal growth. I can separate what is mine from what was his, snipping the yarn rather than trying to untangle his ducked up skein.

          Mary, it sounds like you have uncovered a lot of unvarnished, irrefutable evidence – from the cheater’s records, emails and mementos, and from family members. He’s not around to hide and manipulate the facts or twist the narrative – which is that he’s a selfish and abusive cheater and con man. Although I imagine it’s still surreal and hard to believe and accept, you are able to trust he sucks. Over time, it will continue to sink in as your body and mind can handle it. I’m still overtaken by triggering memories more than I’d like, I’ve developed some significant avoidance strategies and fears,
          and I still occasionally have nightmares. Everyone was right, though. Time really has helped. Now, id like to figure out where to put those bad memories away, now that I don’t need validation, and now that I no longer need to use the memories to restrain me from getting sucked back into that abusive cycle.

          I can only imagine the pain of losing a partner you love deeply. The trauma and grief aren’t going to disappear because of what you’ve learned, just like chumps continue to mourn the loss of a deep bond, even after we’ve learned that we were bonded to barbed wire monkeys. I will not say that you’re lucky he is dead, only that it’s good you’re free of him now. I think ‘dead’ or ‘not dead’ is a natural thought most of us have likely entertained, but it’s also a rather useless hypothetical question. It all sucks, so if we’re dealing in hypotheticals, why don’t we compare being cheated on to, say, not being cheated on?

      • Mary, maybe you can think of the painful truth you’ve shared with those close to this man as a gift, the way it was for me. You did nothing wrong. You were put in an incredibly difficult position, and you have dealt with it honestly and respectfully. Regardless of how his family takes it, his lies and bad character and poor and harmful choices are not yours to carry. His children are adults and you are not responsible for the pain he has caused them. It’s good to read that you are not ashamed and that you are finding ways to let go of the things and relationships that keep your from being your authentic self.

  • Thanks for responding in real time. Keep re-reading the responses, go back to the archives, & keep telling us how you’re doing!

  • I would appreciate comments from any of you who are willing to reply to this: What ‘stages’ did you go through after you found the affair(s)? It has taken me a full year to get to ‘anger’. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I wonder what the next stage will be. I’ve gone from sadness, to pitying him, to depression, to anger. Is there something else?

    • I went through disbelief and shock, heartbreak and then it took me a while to get to anger. Maybe acceptance will be next for you–some people will never get to acceptance and I do not think I will either. My story is LONG marriage–found out about cheating while he was on deployment first year of marriage, I chose to work on things and stay. Then in 48th year of marriage I found out about an emotional affair with an X that happened during first few years of marriage (he said it was all her calling him, etc–) and also found out about some other deceptions–not cheating. I found these things out during first month of lock down. Also my husband was diagnosed with a serious illness the year before and there are other complications so I am still with him. Of course, I would have left if I had known about the EA early on because that was two indiscretions early in marriage. He does not consider that to have been an EA. I was at acceptance when I found what I did in lock down, I felt ROBBED of my life and told him; that I was not able to make decisions based on reality, etc. I exploded at him and said things like you let me do all these things I am doing for you, etc. without being able to live my life in reality, etc. That only made me feel a little better because of course he was not letting me know as he was afraid I would leave. He is not a leaver but I do not think he wanted to leave at any time either. The good times we had may make me feel a little better, (not really) etc. but I still feel anger for being robbed of the truth when I was making decisions. We also did individual and couples counseling last year. Neither of us came to any different feelings through the counseling but it does help other people.

      I hope you can get to acceptance and find happiness again whether it is with a man or just with family and friends. I applaud you for not telling his mother. Sorry the s-i-law has not spoken to you since she found out. Good luck to you in your journey.

      • Making decisions based on lies was the worst part for me.

        I signed off on buying several investment properties based on what I thought was a solid marriage, and and investment in our future together. Had I know he was living a double life with the town whore, I would NOT have signed for those properties.

        He was using me to secure his and whores future, not mine.

        He got all but one property in the D, and he sold them and I am sure made some decent money after we divorced. I didn’t really care about that as I got the property I wanted, and he took over all the debt.

        However, he did a few years later start gambling big time, and I am sure lost any money he made on those properties. So that was a nice bonus for me.

    • It took me about three months to get to anger. It was after I let him come back and she shit all over me again. It only took a week for me to kick him out.

      I envisioned him floating face down in the Ohio River. (that river had significance) We were legally separated, so financially the take back didn’t affect me, but it sure pissed me off.

      Especially because I knew he had only wanted to come back to get access to the car, so he could do his politicking and lying in the community.

      Luckily for me I got some satisfaction, as he was busted a few months later. He didn’t get to keep his captains bars, or his cushy office job. Whore didn’t get to marry an officer, she got a disgraced patrolman, who was so miserable in his job, that he retired early to escape it.

      I am confident those two miserable people pretty much lived in hell for the rest of his life. A hell of their own making, but still counts.

    • It depends on the circumstances. In my case I had almost divorced him at 7 years for an emotional affair (geez I was stupid to believe that) , the children came many years later, and that was when he found his replacement for me (but reading records of their messages she got pissed a couple of years in because she had caught him ‘cheating’ on her with others like her that needed to get paid) and he treated me with contempt so she wouldn’t get upset at not being number one. So, I came to the point of deciding the marriage had run it’s course about 9 months before discovery and was working out what to do while in limbo and ignorance about what he was doing. On discovery I was still a mixture of devastated, angry and in shock. I remember I was upset because I had made commitments to have a family that was all a lie, his lie. He didn’t know I knew, I had limited time to get my ducks in a row while at the same time I lost a lot of weight in the first month alone and back then I didn’t need to lose weight. When I pulled the trigger it was a relief, but he wouldn’t move out. I did things like making sure I was never at the top of the stairs when he was nearby. Although I told my family and friends about it he didn’t care because their option didn’t matter. I know see he only cared what his family, friends and workplace thought of him, it was all about his image. It was only later when I told his best friend from childhood that he started going into a spin. When he died it was a relief and a blur. I later went NC with his family as like him, they only wanted what they could get from me, mainly money. Now, a couple of years out I’m in disbelief at how my life turned out. I have an invisible disability that was triggered early by being run into the ground because he never made any effort in the house, it was all beneath him, most likely encouraged to think that way by his mother who was the same. His assholeness was set at a young age, he was always going to treat someone like he treated me, it wouldn’t have mattered who it was. Mary, you were tricked but you went into it being authentic, please know you did nothing wrong. You gave him the image he wanted because you are a quality person.

  • Hi –
    When our divorce was final, I changed my FB status to “widow.” I got the idea from here, and he is dead to me, mainly.

    Sometimes I get lonely and I think about him, then I remember what my friend, the intuitive healer told me: “He doesn’t love you. he never did.”

    I replied, “Yah.”

    Then she continued, “Some people can’t.”

    I cling to those words: “He doesn’t love you, he never did,” as a tonic, to prevent me from falling into a longing and a yearning. To prevent me from pretending, and to let me breathe the fresh, clean air of truth. I have at times, slipped, and wished momentarily, for what I thought we had. If I fantasize, it always brings up a painful new memory of his treachery, and I am reminded once again of the harm of forgetting what a turd he was, and honestly, being truthful with myself, facing that I wasn’t loved, it much better than pretending I was.

  • I have not read all the comments, but this reminds me of Anita Shrieve’s book, “The Pilots Wife.” I’m not really giving anything away here, but the premise of the book is about a married pilot who dies in a plane crash and the wife finds out he had been leading a double life.

    I am sorry, Mary. What happened to you is one complete mindf*ck, and it is beyond hurtful and never should have happened to you. I wish you peace moving forward in life, and I hope you know you never deserved this.

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