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The ‘Dual Accountability’ Therapy Fallacy

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shrinkHi Chump Lady,

I thought you would line to see the “official point of view” of the majority of therapists that treat infidelity:

“Infidelity occurs in a dyadic system, and any approaches that place all blame, responsibility and accountability on a single member seems contraindicated.”

I replied to this:

Yes, Fred,that’s that problem, the dyadic system itself is violated and disabled when one of the partners goes outside of it to have the affair. That action itself disables the dyadic system, invalidating the premise of dual accountability.

It assigns responsibility to the spouse who did not have an affair equally with the spouse who did, as if the dynamics in the marriage were the only factors in the infidelity behavior.

A dyad is only a dyad until it is no longer a dyad.

I thought you might like a look at the dual accountability framework which Chumps encounter when seeking help from professionals.

As a therapist and a cheated on spouse, I have had to deal with the fact that this deeply held position of dual and equal accountability permeates the field and makes it impossible, and often damaging to get help.

“Yes Fred.. “ is my attempt to respond to the Dyad Premise.

I’ll be glad to forward your comments to people in the profession.

Thanks

Firewire

Dear Firewire,

Oh, so the victim-blaming is baked in? Good to know. I’ve always suspected it, of course, given the gazillion stories posted here.

I wonder, do they use the dyadic system for any other sorts of abuse? Are children to be accountable for being hit? How about alcoholics? Do we drive them to drink? If my boyfriend stubs his cigarettes out on my face, should I accept my part?

Oh right. Infidelity isn’t abuse. It’s just something that happens when Needs Aren’t Met.

Well, I’m happy to respond to Fred and feel free to forward.

****

Dear Fred,

I think your system sucks.

Because of this firmly held belief, I shall steal your wallet. You won’t know, Fred, that I’m lifting your wallet. I’m a really good pickpocket. As I’m sitting in on your shrink sofa, you’ll just think I’m another neurotic whinging woman. And I am. But I’m also stealing your wallet.

Ooh. I’ll help myself to your cash and buy myself some pinecone elves. And then I’ll sell all your identifying information on the Dark Web. Hey, what you don’t know can’t hurt you, right?

Then I’ll show up for my next therapy appointment and enjoy the secret knowledge that I stole your wallet. Were you distressed? Were you wondering, where the hell did I leave my wallet? Maybe you ask me: “Did you happen to see a wallet here last week?” And I feign concern and say, “No. Oh my goodness, are you missing your wallet?”

Inwardly I smile. And I shudder with pleasure to think of the aggravation you had replacing all your cards. That’s what you get for promoting a system that sucks.

Or, maybe Fred, I don’t think of you at all. This is not about your system. I just wanted your wallet.

Now, let’s talk about the dyadic system. In your system:

1.) You should’ve known I was stealing your wallet. Surely there were clues you missed. I can’t believe you’d be so asleep at the wheel. Maybe you knew and you looked the other way?

2.) I didn’t behave unethically — your shitty system drove me to steal your wallet. You made me mad. You should take responsibility for your system and my unhappiness with it.

3.) My entitlement is unquestioned. So what if I bought pinecone elves? Were you harmed? Was your vulnerable ID spread to strangers? It’s not like you caught an STD or something.

See Fred, this is the meat grinder chumps walk into when they’ve been cheated on. The therapy purported to help them blames them for their part in it all. Blames them for trusting. Ignores the power dynamics of secrecy. Worse, it validates the idea that people are permitted to harm them because they were “unhappy” with them. And that the abuse they suffered (exposure to STDs, emotional abuse like gaslighting, blameshifting, the agony of betrayal) is proportionate to their faults — i.e., your shitty system drove me to it.

My message to the therapy community? Cut that dyadic shit out, Fred.

Thank you.

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  • I firmly believe going to marriage counseling after Dday caused me to need more therapy than if we hadn’t. It took years to get over some of the double talk, blame shifting and emotional abuse from not only Ex, but also the therapist as it was all one sided. I would highly recommend doing research on therapists to find one who has experience with this sort of trauma for yourself and not going to marriage counseling. The first question to ask is if they believe that infidelity is abuse.

    • Same. I needed therapy from my couples therapist, who constantly encouraged me to “take my share of the blame” for the affair.

      Then, we did this exercise designed to show me I was overreacting. I was to sit there, while both my ex-wife and therapist said to me…”You are safe right now, there are no affairs going on. All of the feelings you are having are inside you. They’re not reality. You are safe. You are safe.”

      As it turns out, my ex-wife was right smack in the middle of a hidden 2-year affair with her boss at the exact moment we were going through that exercise. We were in therapy for three other past infidelities, which is behavior she insisted was strictly in the past, and the therapist bought it hook, line, and sinker, despite my total insistence that I knew there was something else going on. Both of them told me, “It’s all in your head, just a function of your trauma.”

      Then, when it came out that my ex-wife was lying, the therapist kicked us out of therapy, and when I mentioned that was feeling traumatized by our sessions now that I was gaslit by two people, instead of one, I never got an apology. “I simply can’t see you anymore.”

      But hey, I was safe, right?

      I needed a year of therapy to recover from therapy.

      • Layne, I am so sorry you had to go through that added trauma in therapy. There really should be a way to report the therapist.

        I had a similar incident in our failed couples therapy but (thankfully?) happened early on so I didn’t have months of the “own tour part in the affair” kool aid.

        Cheater swore up and down in 2 separate sessions that there was no affair the marriage was bad because he was sadz and I was being crazy. Well third session I have irrefutable proof of affair and then it all comes out and THE THERAPIST proclaims “I can’t believe YOU lied to ME!!”

        She fired us said she could trust US(!) and that was that.

        • Right, can’t trust “us”. Meanwhile, only one party has been lying through their teeth the whole time, but we’re all grouped together as un-trustworthy.

          So sorry you experienced that too. I have considered contacting the therapist again to let her know I’m now seeking out EMDR to help with the trauma I experienced in her therapy sessions, but I’m not sure what good that would do, so I’m moving on. But the therapy trauma is almost as severe as the relationship trauma.

          • So sorry you’re still going through the shit show. So glad you arrived here and realized it wasn’t you.

          • A negative Yelp and Google review if you haven’t already done that sounds appropriate for this situation.

        • In addition to leaving bad reviews, try to reverse the charges via your credit card if you’re the one who paid (this is easier to do than most people think). And make a complaint to your state’s monitoring body for therapists.

        • I think so too, but I don’t even know if I have the gumption to open that can of worms after everything that’s happened. My current therapist is absolutely mortified.

      • At the end of the final MC session (FW wasn’t there), I got up the courage to suggest to the therapist that in the future, she should strongly recommend STI testing the very first session couples come in for infidelity. This, no matter what the “facts” (wink wink) of the infidelity, per the cheater. Best practice, just both do it and get it out of the way.

        It is so hard to know, let alone advocate for yourself during Pick Me, about a “delicate” issue like this. I was naive and shocked and in an abusive relationship. I would’ve been DARVO’d and humiliated if I’d brought it up myself.

        In response to my suggestion, the therapist just curtly replied she would think about it. No thanks and definitely no apologies for that oversight or for anything else she botched. It’s unbelievable to me that this wouldn’t be a protocol, especially now that I’ve been reading CL for awhile and know what all infidelity counselors repeatedly witness and what she had to have known. What’s one of the most common pieces advice we see here on CL? Get tested! For a counselor to avoid conflict or feign innocence in this matter is criminal.

          • STI = Sexually Transmitted Infection

            If you are even reading on this site, it is worth getting tested ASAP. I declined tests for years because I believed I was in a longterm, committed relationship. I wasn’t, but I got lucky. I stopped feeling sorry for myself about this once I started reading the stories here. Many, many chumps were given STI’s from cheaters; it’s even how some learned they were being cheated on. Some infections (HPV) lead to additional health problems, and even cancer. It’s a very serious “side effect” of the abuse of infidelity, but unfortunately the dominant narrative romanticizes passionate affairs and sweeps the unpleasant realities under the rug.

      • If that happened to me, I would contest the therapy charges via my credit card company, and file a complaint against whatever council or monitoring body oversees therapists (yes, these do exist and vary by state).

      • Oh. My. GOD!!! That is disgusting!! 🤮 JEEZ!!!!!

        Yeah. My FW left with a marriage counselor who was on our ball team. 🙄 I saw an email she sent him after he described a counseling session we had gone to (with a different counselor who actually called him out on his shitty behaviour) She insisted that no one should EVER feel worse about themselves after a counseling session. 🤔 Really??? Not even if you are being a complete asshole?? Really??

    • Yep, I had the same experience. With THREE different couples counselors after D-Day #2. Part of the reason we saw three different ones, though, is that I walked out the instant any of them started trying to pull the “dyadic system” BS.

      But couples therapists know where their bread is buttered. Fuckwits will quit the process a lot sooner than most chumps will, if they detect a hint of “judginess.” As my individual therapists have reminded me, joint therapy is “contraindicated” (to use Fred’s term) for ANY abusive relationship. The trick is getting couples therapists to see that infidelity is abuse. (See: bread and butter.)

      • LC,

        I’m pretty sure that’s why Ex-Mrs LFTT refused to attend marriage counselling; she cannot handle being judged.

        Interestingly, that’s also what caused the family therapy (that I was paying for) to address her relationship with our youngest to fail. Ex-Mrs LFTT lied the whole way through the one session she attended, and caused our daughter a great deal of distress.

        At the end of the session, the therapist told Ex-Mrs LFTT to go and sit in the waiting room and then told our daughter that “it would best if we did not include your mother in any more of these sessions.” He could see that Ex-Mrs LFTT would rather lie than do what our daughter needed her to do to help her address her anxiety and OCD.

        It also gave our daughter implicit permission to keep her mother at arms length, which has helped her no end.

      • You hit the nail on the head with the whole bread and butter thing. If the therapist is hired to “save” the relationship than that is what they are going to try to do, apportioning blame in whatever way they think is most likely to keep the relationship going. To heck with individual mental health. That’s not the mandate. Certainly they don’t want to upset the apple cart by implying fault in the cheater who has already shown they have a sense of entitlement and won’t hesitate to abandon if things aren’t going their way.

        In my experience dealing with therapists and counselors, when it’s just me, they have been quite validating of me and my responses to ex’s behavior and quick to point out his shortcomings and why I shouldn’t take his crap. When they are counseling us both, however, they adopt a more neutral stance. I haven’t felt blamed, exactly, but they are as likely to validate his feelings and behavior as mine. We chumps need to learn to stick up for ourselves and make it clear that we are not going to accept the blame and not blaming the cheaters for their actions will cause us to walk out.

        In all fairness, our joint therapists were right about the need to coddle ex. In both the marriage counseling and the parent counseling ex was happy to do it when he felt validated, but as soon as they told him something he didn’t want to hear (fixing the marriage wasn’t all about fixing me and having the kids accept Schmoopie as family is a lovely fantasy) he was out.

        As for my individual therapist, she has been brutal on ex and is the one who helped me to see how lopsided our relationship was, how childish his behavior, and how unnecessary he was to my life. She helped me to get to a place where I could accept divorce as inevitable and necessary. Her mandate, however, was my mental health, not making things work (marriage or parenting) with ex.

      • “But couples therapists know where their bread is buttered. Fuckwits will quit the process a lot sooner than most chumps will, if they detect a hint of “judginess.” ”

        Bingo. They know they can only get that money for as long as the victim is willing to sit there and take the blame. And unfortunately many of the victim’s will take it as long as there is hope. Most will go on to be victimized again. They just want to feel better, and be loved by the person they thought existed in their marriage.

        It is an insidious form of therapy (abuse), and quite frankly should be shamed and shunned publicly, until it disappears from polite society.

        • Wow! Holy shit you just put my experience with MC in a whole new light. I went into it too with an “I want to save my marriage” attitude but as I began discovering forums like CL and the Reddit subs, I began to realize I was a chump and got pissed our Mc wasn’t holding Himself to any of his actions. She continued to advocate for using Gottman cards, different communication skills, etc and saying his behavior was only going to get worse because I was acting on my triggers.
          I kept pushing back and cornered her in a session where she finally conceded (after another 3/4 incidents of emotional cheating actions came to light) that yes, I was right to suspect a PA (she said any spouse would given the circumstances) and that we were wasting our money on counseling. I didn’t just sit there and act chumpy and take the blame for his actions so she had nothing to work with.

    • “The first question to ask is if they believe that infidelity is abuse.”

      It’s the question we have to ask ourselves even before we seek to elicit the help of and trust another person who may or may not be qualified or experienced enough to help us in the mindfuck cause by a cheating partner.

      Many more years of abuse and pain can be had if we trust a therapist who does not know what they are dealing with or promotes the baloney described in the dyadic system.

      • What a great post. Not to mention, this “dyadic” system seems to assume cheating is the ONLY option. Talk to your spouse if you are deeply unhappy. Divorce them. Leave them fairly and amicably, then go out looking for someone new.

        Strange how the only answer is lying, cheating, and exposing your spouse to disease.

        • Yes and married people who aren’t happy could also try working on themselves first to see if they are the root of their unhappiness.

          • I agree Zip! They always think they will find someone better! They have no morals or feelings about the pain they cause. Unhappiness equals entitlement in my Fuckwits case.

          • Yep. I mean, most continue on to other destructive relationships. Why do they never consider they may be the problem themselves.

            My monkey branched from me to the whore. Cheated on the whore, started gambling which financially destroyed him. Within a few years destroyed his relationship with his son.

            Whose fault was that.? Mine, Whore, my son, his co workers, the universe. Certainly wasn’t his.

            • They don’t consider it could be them because narcissists think all their feelings come from outside of them. They have a delusional belief that their feelings are always caused by other people or things that have happened to them. And these don’t have to be big things.

          • Yes, I also agree with you Zip. Happiness never comes from the responsibility of the outside world. Thus, finding oneself unhappy needs to be discovered through working on the self first. After all, unhappiness is the most popular reasons why cheaters cheat. ‘Happiness’ in how the AP is making them ‘feel’ is the very thing the cheater believes. I ended up firing our first MC therapist but it didn’t happen right away. The sessions began with communication tools, the love language test etc. By the forth session I felt that I wasn’t given a voice in how I was feeling about my h’s affair. It felt like the whole affair was non existing as the therapist said, “That’s the past”. I told her that I refuse to accept her reasoning, first it’s not my reasoning, and second the past is why we’re here in the first place. She took offense by my disapproval and served me a large bag of salad. The fifth and last session, I started the conversation with explaining to her I was going to let the last session slide and I began talking about the affair. I began confronting my h about not only the first discovered affair, but the many others prior that I wasn’t aware of until I started digging. It went as far back to the beginning of our relationship. So, the dyadic system is bs! Anyway, the MC therapist took the reading of my h’s body language as if he was feeling abused so she threaten me that if I continued she was going to report me for abuse. I got up from the couch and told her she was no longer needed and began to walk out of her office. That bitch had the audacity to talk over me and told my h that he can continue to see her if he wanted to. Bye Felicia! The second MC therapist was awesome. She never pushed nor did she stop me from voicing my feelings. Had many sessions with her, until I discovered my h was secretly seeing and communicating with his ex-wife the whole time I believed reconciling was the plan. Nope. I’m done.

    • Also a male chump and totally agree. It’s sick. Thank God I found a great therapist that utilizes EMDR and spiritual(Christian) healing.

      • I had this experience as well. EMDR with a licensed christian therapist. He was off base in some areas, but overall very helpful.

    • Dr. Omar Minwalla of The Institute for Sexual Health (I would provide a link if I could, perhaps somebody else can), noticed the harm traditional therapists were causing to victims of infidelity. He is squarely on the side of the chump. The first paper I read, “What They Don’t Know WILL Hurt Them” is excellent. You can also download a PDF of his paper, “The Secret Sexual Basement”, which every so-called marriage therapist should read and read and read until they get the message through their thick skulls.

      In a nutshell, we aren’t co-dependent, etc. We are trauma survivors doing as best we can. He calls infidelity as he sees it: domestic ABUSE.

      Right now, he appears to be one of the few actual therapists trying to change the narrative. My guess is that many therapists have their own sexual basements, so calling cheating “abuse” strikes a bit close to home.

      Chumpman, I’m with you. The therapy I briefly went to caused me more harm than good. I clearly need one specialized in treatment of PTSD.

    • The funny part was, after all of this I gave said marriage counselor a bad google review. Nothing too harsh, but warning those who had gone through the same experience to find someone else. A year and a half later, she emailed me asking to remove the review because it was hurting her business. 🙂

      • Good for you ! Let abused people know to steer clear of another abuser and hit that person in the wallet.

      • She opened the door for you to scoop up all of that steaming pile and place it back in her lap.

        Hold people, including myself, accountable.

    • This times 1000. Two therapists proceeded to blame me for my ex wife’s year long affair with her co- worker while she was pregnant. It messed me up even more thinking in deserved what she did. I can no longer recommend going to marriage counseling with a cheater apologist counselor.

      • IMHO marriage counseling is unnecessary and harmful when you’ve been victimized by infidelity. Individual counseling is the way to go, so you can be validated and guided to healing. I do wonder what people expect when they go to a couple’s therapist in these situations. What is the mission? Save the marriage? Exit strategy? Beat up the cheater? Good questions to ask before starting couples therapy after such a breach. I’ve been there myself….my mission (tho I didn’t know it as first since I was emotionally reeling…) was exit strategy, and my guy was brilliant. You got this! And, you’ll never have to tolerate this stuff again in your life…

    • 👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻 Ditto x100

      I’d go a step further and recommend you take a hard pass on “therapy” after being abused and book a year of massages, a great gym membership, and the best divorce lawyer your money can get.

      Fuck those cheater-accomplices! Most therapists I’ve met (30+ years in recovery and there are tons of recovering alcoholic therapists) are very messed up.

      • Another question to ask whilst interviewing potential therapists is “why did you become a therapist ?” Wonder if they’re emotionally healthy. Most of us are a puddle when seeking help and might not ask enough questions to probably vet a mental health service provider.

        • “Most of us are a puddle when seeking help and might not ask enough questions to probably vet a mental health service provider.”

          Exactly, I mentioned before that when it hit me I knew nothing of adultery, what was happening. There was no CL or DM. Had I gone to MC with my ex (thank God he initially didn’t wan to) I would have gladly shouldered all the blame just to have my life back to “normal”.

          If I am a mess how am I going to know if I have a bad therapist. If I knew all the questions to ask, I likely wouldn’t be in such a mess.

          By the time he circled back and was willing to go to counseling (he was still fucking the whore, and figured I didn’t know it) I said No. I was done, Had already given him a second shot at me.

      • Yes! I can remember feeling as if I was beaten up after d day. I was in physical pain. In retrospect, instead of making my FW feel better about his (fake) guilt and helping him cure his substance addiction, I should have done everything in my power to leave. I should have taken care of myself. I couldn’t see the forest for the trees. I was in shock. Here I am years later and I have so many physical problems due to my own reluctance to take care of myself. I wish there was a universal public health campaign to inform abuse survivors of the steps they must take in order to heal. None of this is public knowledge right now. You have to suffer for years, and then if you’re lucky, fund a blog like this one. I strongly feel that all marriages with infidelity should automatically END for the sake of both the chump AND the fuckwit. Healing cannot happen while still living together.

        • Mia, I completely agree with you. I was still a Christian when I was broadsided by the D-Day truck, and even then I didn’t immediately use my free divorce pass (Matthew 5:32 “except for sexual immorality.”)

          Looking back, I think I’ve spent the past few years mired in the bereavement of ambiguous loss. Pauline Boss wrote a 1999 book on the topic, which I have not yet read. But the concept is that when someone we love dies there are rituals of grieving that can be performed and there is a certain closure that comes with death. In the case of infidelity, however, while our partner is physically present, they are psychologically, emotionally, and relationally absent. It is somewhat akin to a beloved family member being overtaken by Alzheimer’s, in the sense that the person looks the same, but is no longer the same person.

          All of us chumps know that feeling of being so acutely aware of our loss and what it means (rejection), but being in such deep shock that our systems shut down. Additionally all of the emotional abuse that goes along with infidelity only exacerbates the ambiguity of the loss. I think that is why so many of us attempt marriage counseling. In those early stages of grief we will do anything, make any wild attempt, fall prey to the magical thinking that somehow we can reverse the process and return everything to the way it used to be. How often, when someone we love dies, do we long to bring them back? How much more then, does it make sense that we would want to restore someone we love who is still alive and breathing?

          IvyLeagueChump and ChumpNoMore, I also found Dr. Omar Minwalla’s work to be absolutely instrumental in my recent shift toward healing. In fact, I must thank whoever it was who linked to his articles a few weeks back on this blog. I shared the 31 page paper on the secret sexual basement with my therapist, who read it, and very much supported and appreciated his ideas. While I wish Dr. Minwalla would have mercy on us lay people by refraining from using all the acronyms, I also found, while listening to him interviewed on a few podcasts (linked on his website) that he tends to work with patients who are addicted to pornography. He seems to have a focus on recovery and restoration, however, which puts him in a little bit of an awkward position between Chump Nation and the RIC. Was anyone else uncomfortable with this?

          • ActaNonVerba,
            Thank you for the book recommendation.
            I agree with everything you said.
            And I used to be Christian too. I took down the cross from my bedroom wall after months of prayer. My marriage was supposed to be a sacrament, but D-Day and the humiliating aftermath finally lifted all of the veils. I can’t even believe I once fell for it: cartoons, commercials, romantic comedies, Sunday school, pre-marriage class, hundreds of love notes. All beautiful lies.

          • While a lot of Dr. M’s writings rang true to me (I actually independently found his work before CL), it honestly did make me a little uncomfortable, now that I think of it. It’s been too long for me to put a finger on it/cite specifics, but I didn’t trust or relate to him the way I do CL. I guess I do recall thinking, what’s his motive? What makes him so passionate about and interested in all this? With CL, I know.

            Not to discredit his work or impact! Doc is brilliant and lays out what many chumps have lived and experienced. Just wanted to let ANV know she’s not alone in wondering.

            • The 2 concepts that struck a chord with me:
              1) Deceptive Sexuality: the FW had a pattern, even from when he was a teen, of this. I knew it, but somehow thought we were different. Early on I wondered if I should be worried about this habit of his, but as the relationship progressed I saw zero signs of this.

              And this, a direct quote:

              2) “compulsive-entitled sexuality (CES)
              as a major factor that contributes to problematic sexual behavior patterns. CES refers to an inability or an
              unwillingness to control sexual urges or behaviors, even when they cause significant negative consequences.

              The rest of the document, with so many acronyms, was not easy to process, but these 2 concepts made sense.
              Examples of CES include problematic patterns of pornography, infidelity, prostitution, cybersex, and flirting. “

              • Reading this I see many have commented on his use of acronyms.
                It helped me to write them down on a sheet of paper which I then could use as I worked my way through the article – the letters as well as what they stood for.

                It helped immensely.

                Also, the intro warns readers not to read the article all at once. It does contain shocking stuff especially if someone doesn’t know they have been dealing with this stuff so his article can be someones first experience with all of this kind of content.

                I know I was innocent. I didn’t know this stuff existed – well, I knew it was ‘out there’ but I did not expect it under my roof therefore the attention it got from me was very detached. (Mr. X was Mr. Good Guy to all who knew him.)

                Luckily I am a regular reader of CL and I had read LACGAL, Cheating in a Nutshell, The Covert Passive Aggressive Narcissist plus numerous other books on the subject as a means of getting my feet wet before my eyes were ripped further open with his article.

                If I were teaching professionals, I would teach the content of his article taught over an entire semester. It is chock full of information that really needs to be dissected and then put back together to form a whole.

                As someone who was living with someone who fits the description – this material is shocking in every sense of the word so I give myself YEARS to digest all of what it contains.

                I was living with THAT and it has THIS effect on MY LIFE and the lives of MY CHILDREN. I have but one life and I invested heavily, 30 plus years of devoted partnership, in someone who is a complete stranger!!!!

                I think that if people find it hard to read, by all means put it down, Give yourself a break. Trust your own psyche to know when enough is enough.

                Time does shed light into dark corners.

                Time gives space to see more clearly.

                Time does heal.

                Allow yourself time.

              • I wonder if a sign of it is someone who like to have sex in unusual places.

                My ex was like that, but as it was with me I thought it was normal, and that men liked to do that.

                I mean places like on the beach, in the water (when no one else was there). In the car etc.

                Maybe it isn’t normal for men. It isn’t something my now husband got in to. But, we were 40 and 50 when we met, so I attributed it to a young mans fancy.

                We were 18 when we married, and I had never had sex before, what did I know except the basics.

            • I think he worked with sex addicts and others with like issues and came to see the impact on spouses. This led him to the focus on the secret sexual basement etc.
              For all the usefulness of his shining a light on what the families and spouses suffer he has not published in mainstream professional journals or done research that demonstrates outcomes. His ideas are intuitive but anecdotal
              ( they carry power because they are dramatic or well described but) there is no scientific or statistical basis for them, which is what it takes to get attention from the medical, the psychological and the academic therapy communities.
              Why he doesn’t attract the attention of researchers or purpose research to prove the harm, the process, the shared character traits of this in the basement is not clear. To move this field forward the observations need to be elevated into concepts, the concepts into theories of causality.

        • That is awful Mia.

          It reminds me of my ex on the day he said “I never loved you” he was hanging his head and kind of shaking it like it pained him so much to say it. Asshole, theatrics. I wish instead of being in shock and staring at him, I would have said “go fuck your whore, you worthless piece of shit” But alas hindsight and all.

      • Amen to that. The counselor I attended with klootzak is now dead so thankfully can’t cause harm to any more chumps. I will only spend time with a counselor now in support of my child’s well beingn and to put to rest my feelings of guilt for bringing him into this mess. That is my only mental burden. I don’t feel hurt or shame or question myself any longer. I feel like my confusion has been lifted and distress gone once I resolved the constant cognitive dissonance cause by klootzak. I feel like I am in the best mental health I have been in year. The counselor we had only made me feel worse. And it was exactly as CL said; I was expected to accept blame for causing him to cheat on me. F that. After what I went through, I would need a damn good reason to walk into a counselor’s office again.

        • Acts, everything you said.
          So much is not known or understood or talked about. The losses we occur during the cheating (most of us suffer cognitive dissonance but we are lied to so much we have no idea what’s going on), The depression we start to feel because we’re feeling devalued but we don’t know why, The D day trauma and the lack of support out there… And on top of everything the blame shifting.
          Yes I too thought Dr M’s stance re possible recovery might be uncomfortable to chumps but everything else he said was so on target. However I do believe that for some cheaters (few, but some) there is a chance for recovery- but it has to be generated from them and their desire to grow and change and improve. Most of them don’t seem capable of accepting truthful and heartfelt responsibility for their entitled and hurtful actions. Most of them also don’t seem to have the relationship skills necessary to move forward and don’t seem to have any interest in working on them.
          And considering society mostly gives them a pass, it’s just so easy for them to move on and not have to work on themselves or make amends.

      • The fuckwit’s skank (and now his wife) is a Family Counselor. It blows my mind that she has a master’s degree in Psychology and is counseling people. She was married to her husband for 35 years while screwing my husband. I’ve had three great counselors in my life, but only after I went through 3 RIC counselors. I should probably post a google review of her.

        • Mr X = a MA in counseling too as well as being a practicing therapist for over 30 years all the while acting as though he was happily married to me and the father of our children – that he wanted desperately which is why we got married in the first place.

          After dday, I found out he was a practicing serial cheater and had been practicing that profession for decades too but apparently without pay….

          I now know what a covert passive aggressive narcissist is.

          I have moved on.

          I imagine he is still into serial ‘dating’ although I do not know nor do I want to know.

          • OMG. I’m so sorry for the crap you’ve been through. I can’t even imagine the gaslighting you endured. 😨 (((hugs)))

    • Our couples counselor was also my individual counselor. What a nightmare. Looking back at taking her shit is almost like looking back at the fog of abuse. How on earth did that even happen? And I paid for it?! I was not in my right mind.

      And unfortunately, people – even therapists – do blame partners for alcoholism. Evidently, we “enable” them, or even create conditions that encourage them to drink; just like chumps invite cheating and abuse. I remember sitting there in one therapy session, arms crossed, feeling trapped and uncomfortable and angry when my therapist insinuated I was partly responsible for my partner’s drinking (nope, started long before I knew him) and abuse. If I voiced my concerns with this perspective, I was defensive. She was the unbiased expert, and she was there to help me grow, after all! Who was I to disagree?

      Infidelity counseling (and anything RIC) is gaslighting, “backed” by literature, research, degrees, experience, etc. It undermined my intuition and sound logic, and it condoned and prolonged the abuse. There’s no way of knowing, but had I not found Esther Perel, RIC and MC (during discard, then after DDAYs), I might have trusted myself and stuck with my initial response: Get the fuck away from me, you sick, lying loser! Don’t come near me or talk to me ever again. I don’t respect you and I don’t love you, and I am worth so much more than this.

  • Wait a minute! A dyad is two people, right? Infidelity is about at least three. In addition to the actual number of individuals, there’s the inequities in the power of each of the individuals.

    How about a Friday challenge to come up with the succinct response to the therapist who spouts this shit? And do you really have to pay for the session if you fire them?

    • Don’t pay for another session to fire them. Do it over a brief phone call. Or write a letter.

    • IcanseeTuesday, I can see this in my mind. Thousands of “Fuck Off’s” from betrayed Chumps. First, betrayed by their spouses and secondly betrayed by the very people who are supposed to help you heal. Fuck off Esther Perel, Fuck off RIC you money grubbing back stabbers. I know it is only Wednesday this is my warm up.

  • The blame and accountability that was apportioned to my “role” in fuckwit’s infidelity with Norbert nearly drove me to suicide. This stuff stinks! Don’t buy it. The people that sell it aren’t worth listening to.

    “Oh we’re going to talk about blame, are we?” Yes, we are. You don’t want blame. You want dyadic horseshit the absolves you of your actions.

    Well, fuck that! You aren’t getting it!

    • Ditto to this too👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻

      The “marriage counseling” I suffered from the “certified sexual addiction” therapist (with a Ph.D. from a major research university) nearly drove me to suicide. The trauma of that compounded the pain of Dday and the devalue and discard.

      Thank GOD I found ChumpLady and was validated and offered practical advice and common sense: leave a cheater- gain a life; put down the hopeium pipe; there are no unicorns; cheaters cheat and liars lie; AP was just a willing hole; cheating is about entitlement; trust they suck; go no-contact; and ask “is this acceptable to you?” and if not, get a divorce lawyer and leave. BOOM! Saved my life!

  • Thank you!

    There is something about infidelity that leads people to treat it differently than they would treat any other type of theft or assault. Yet infidelity is theft. It is assault.

    Why do people blame the chump? There has to be something disfunctional about how we all look at marriage itself, right? I think the way we understand traditional marriage in our current failed capitalist patriarchy is the problem.

    For example, the proof that modern “Parenting” makes sense is that we can all agree that it is not the child’s fault when the parent is cruel to the child.

    So, the proof that modern marriage does NOT make sense to us is that people blame the victim when one spouse cheats. There is a disconnect that can not be otherwise explained.

    • Perhaps some influential portion of the therapeutic profession themselves have a history of cheating.

    • Because probably a lot of therapists are cheaters themselves so they spout the same excuses for all. Have you ever listened to thieves give excuses for other thieves? Because they were hungry, broke or desperate, not fair for others to be able to have them and not that person. ect.

    • They want to know it can’t happen to them. That’s why they blame us. I had girlfriends try to do the “well, you must have done this or that” to blame me. And when I said no, I didn’t do that. They would try to come up with another thing i did wrong to deserve his behavior. They were literally just making shit up and trying to apply it to me.

      They’re all out of my life for having poor character but they did it because they’re terrified. I was known as a good wife. My husband gushed about how much he loved me to everyone. If that could be fake and I could be betrayed and thrown away like garbage, they can’t feel safe. Because it could obviously happen to them. So they try to come up with reasons why I deserved it.

      • KatiePig, you have cracked it I think. That makes SO much sense.

        My friends and siblings and parents tried the same BS. Part of me rationalized that my family and friends felt so bad about what happened to me that they had to assume I did something to deserve it, just to avoid facing the fact that someone they loved was abused for no reason.

        It is SO cruel to blame the chump that I literally could not believe they were blaming me . I was like: there is no way my loved ones would be this cruel to me after I was betrayed in such a horrific way, so they must be victim-blaming to lessen the blow. They don’t have to feel bad for me if they can convince themselves that I brought this pain onto myself. If I was the mean wife, then that must mean I’m strong enough to survive my break up.

        So it’s like self defense for the bystanders. And yes, like you said, this false narrative of the chump being a bad wife shields them from the fear to that it could happen to ANYONE, including them. My husband was considered a sweetheart (he hid his cruelty very well) and my family and friends couldn’t reconcile the disconnect in their own heads, so blaming me took some of the shock away for them, I guess.

      • I think that is largely true.

        I even remember thinking years before I was discarded, or had any clue that if I did what I should I was safe. I didn’t think it in exactly those words; but the general smug feeling was there when I heard of a case of infidelity.

        Little did I know…

        Oh I still thought the cheater was wrong, and I of course never voiced it to a chump. It was mostly just a smugness in my marriage. I obviously was just trying to assure myself.

        He ripped me to shreds, was doing it while I was all smug and happy.

    • People continue to blame the victims of DV too – “why did they stay”…”they knew what they were getting into”…makes me sick to think about.

  • It was traumatic when my therapist tried to not only pin Xhole’s bad behavior on me, but try to force me to correct it. Like I could somehow keep him from throwing temper tantrums and finding old girlfriends on facebook because I folded his underwear correctly. I tried and of course failed miserably.

    What I did find myself responsible for, and this was way more helpful and healing, is not taking care of myself or enforcing my own boundaries. I knew I had a sickness when I felt love for a man who treated me so badly. That was hard to admit, but I found a therapist that helped me fix me and now peace and a healthy state of mind have ensued while Xhole has moved on to his next victim.

    • My therapist calls this being forced to accept that one is both the cause and the solution to the same problem, and it entirely sucks. It’s like there is a whole delusion out there that adults making adult decisions about where to put their time, energy, money, and genitals are doing all that because of some invisible super power their partner has… it’s maddening. (To be clear, my therapist is calling this out, not advocating.)

      • Well, if you start from the premise that the spouse folding socks wrong, using bagged salad, or whatever, is so unbearable that the fuckwit has to cheat to try to escape it, then the chump not doing those things anymore would be the solution.
        The problem is that the premise is so laughably false you have to either be brainwashed or a few bricks shy of a load to buy it.
        Or they don’t actually believe it, but have a profit motive in “saving” marriages by getting chumps to blame themselves and accept continued abuse, because they know the cheater is an an abuser, won’t ever change, and will leave therapy if confronted.
        The last one is my pet theory for what motivates most MCs.

      • Surely if Chumps had such powers, they’d rather forced their spouses into showering them with diamonds, rubies or monogamy.

  • Quite wonderful. I drove the ex to drink and a long distance affair apparently. I am so powerful it seems.

    • I drove mine to cheat and lie and steal from me for most of our marriage (by his own admission). He said he “dated” for ten years and never loved me. So since he never loved me it was my fault he abused me. I guess I should have know he didn’t love me. If I had been smart enough to know, I could have waved my magic wand and made him love me, and he would have treated me better.

      Makes total sense. At least to deranged fw’s and therapists.

    • My relationship with FW – not married, living together, both coming out of long-term failed marriages. It was only a few years together, and it was still new. We were in love, having interesting sex often, fun vacations, working out and running together, church, best friends.

      There was absolutely no blame that anyone would ever place on me, yet he cheated on me for over a year of our short relationship. Why? entitlement and opportunity.

      I dumped him, never considered reconciliation. He did the Affair Recovery counseling. He would email me their blame-shifting shit, and it pissed me off so bad. I would call out the BS that he didn’t see.

      I would love to hear a therapist try to blame me and then blast them. Because there clearly was no blame on me. But I knew better than try to reconcile.

      • And I don’t ever mean to imply that “bagged salad” is a reason to cheat. The doubt they sow in chumps over “bagged salad” is abuse.

        My point is that cheaters will cheat regardless of bagged salad.

        (Gawd I love the “bagged salad” concept. It’s so ridiculous)

        • A similar vein that causes cheating: having crab cakes on Thanksgiving. In this case FW bought the crab meat & made them – it was all his doing. Yet on dday 5 weeks after Thanksgiving he yelled, “think I like having crab cakes on Thanksgiving?” WTF?

          • Those nuts constantly move the goal posts with their schizo demands, likes and dislikes. “Dance harder chump !”

          • *eyeroll – what the everloving-gaslighting on the crabcakes.

            Bagged salad and now crab cakes. I sense a Chumpy Pot Luck.

      • Ok, Persephone, I’ll take the bait.

        I drove my cheater to … EvrYWheRe because he was too sauced to drive.

  • And to add my therapist has never left me in any doubt that affairs are abusive and people who have affairs behave in abusive ways. She does help me to look at my shadows and how my FOO issues informed my behaviour throughout my life to date. This is helpful. Before I knew about the affair I accepted 50% responsibility for the sudden, unexpected breakdown of the marriage. No one will be surprised to read that the ex accepted my offer and made no offer of his own in response.

    • ” affairs are abusive and people who have affairs behave in abusive ways. ”

      And unfortunately many of us don’t recognize this because we tend not to dwell on our spouses faults, because we love them and accept them as they are. We don’t realize we are not getting the same courtesy.

      For instance my ex never remembered my birthday, save a couple times in the early years and once a few months before he left me. Except for the first few years of marriage, he never apologized for disagreements or hurtful things he said. He didn’t want to spend any money on our home furnishings. Most of what we got my mother in law found and gave to us.

      Yet, I was scrimping and saving so he could have the boat he wanted, and the rental properties he wanted. If I had known that for most of that time he was fucking whores, of course I would not have been willing to do that. But, I believed his lies.

      I never forgot his birthday, or fathers day or Valentines day, but it was rarely reciprocated. He actually in fact took pride in forgetting my birthday. Oh he always apologized, but never fixed the issue. Those days are important in a relationship.

      My now husband never forgets, oh we don’t buy big gifts as we don’t need anything, but he always remembers and makes and effort, as do I.

      My guess is the fw never forgot the whores birthday, because there was something in it for him. Free flowing illicit sex. Bet she was surprised when that all came to a screeching halt when the sex was no longer illicit.

      Yes I know because we share a son, who knew how he treated her after marriage. Difference is she knew he was a snake when she picked him up, I didn’t.

      • For me, the message behind celebrating a person’s birthday is acknowledging the importance and value of that person’s arrival into the world. “Glad you’re here and in my life.” A spouse, a child or a friend.

        • I agree. But even so, had he remained faithful, it likely never would have become a really big deal to me; but once I knew he was never really committed to me, at least not enough to stay committed; the meaning of his forgetting my birthday became more significant.

  • There are so many things in life that are not fair or reasonable. We want to live in a certain world, that does not exist, where logic rules, and we know if we do this . . . then that happens. We make up rules, and other myths, like dyads, and it makes us feel better. But it doesn’t make us better.

    If I choose not to do laundry one day, or if I hang the toilet paper rolling the opposite way that you prefer it to roll, that does not give you permission to respond by burning down the house. Be glad you have clothes to wear, and happy toilet paper is available when you need it. Having a house is nice, too. Don’t propagate false equivalencies.

    Selfish, ego maniacal, ungrateful. Your best bet is to leave at your earliest opportunity, and avoid in the future. May not be what you want to hear, but think about your choices, and act accordingly.

    • Thank you, Portia. False equivalence arguments do so much harm.

      Critical thinking is our only hope. Stopping our urge to fix someone else’s unfixable problems is essential.

  • There was a short time, after I found out my husband was a whore fucking John, where I attempted to see if our marriage was salvageable.

    I booked us some sessions with a counselor who was recommended through SA-anon as someone who frequently dealt with infidelity issues.

    Since being caught, my husband was lying about everything. In our first session with her, she asked him point blank if he had ever been unfaithful to me. He said yes. This was the first time he had actually admitted to ANYTHING. I lost my shit and cried my eyes out.

    In our next session, he admitted to it again. Again, looking at the man I loved and trusted most in the world while he, with eyes down, admitted to a little bit more, I started hysterically crying again.

    At that point, this therapist looked at both of us and said “didn’t we already go through this last week?”

    Oh, I’m sorry, forgive me. Was I supposed to be over it already? Fuck you, therapist. Fuck you, husband.

    Needless to say, I got rid of both of them.

    • During an individual session, our marriage counselor said that my distressed reaction to my then-husband’s declaration during our last joint session that he didn’t want to be married anymore was hard to watch, and called me pathetic. Talk about adding insult to injury. I never saw that counselor again after that session, but he did give me one good take-away. He asked if I thought my then-husband was good for my mental health. I had to admit the answer was no, and that helped me realize that I had to let go to save myself.

      • >>was hard to watch, and called me pathetic.

        Horrific bedside manner there. Why do such jerks plague the psychology profession? Barf.

        • Oh YogiChump, I am speechless! Are there no ethics in that “profession”?

          It almost makes me glad in a way my ex walked without a backward glance, so at least I wasn’t subject to this kind of additional, “professional” torment. And made to pay for it, no less!

          These are sad but valuable lessons for chumps to watch out for.

  • An affair is, at minimum, a triadic system in which two parties are conspiring against the third. The cheating pair has a power advantage which they exploit against the chump. There is no other context in which this would not be considered an abusive relationship.

    • Right? How on earth can one be expected to deal with issues they don’t even know exists. And mate poachers know this and most of them have honed their skills via previous married men. Please no “whore is not the problem lectures”, yes whore is part of the deception therefore he/she is also part of the problem. Just like the get away driver in a bank robbery is equally to blame. Assuming they know they are driving the get away car.

      Not all whores are mate poachers, but all mate poachers are whores. Male or female.

      I am not saying women don’t do the same thing, but in this case I am talking about men, because that is my experience.

      If you are lying, hiding, stealing and conniving with a man or woman to abuse a third party you are equally at fault.

      The good news is that many times you get your just deserts.

      • Interesting. I never placed any blame on the OW. She approached the FW not knowing his relationship status. (Although I’m sure they talked and flirted when he was doing a job at her workplace). He followed up by texting her. At some point in time she did know about me, how else would he explain his limited availability? Knowing him, it was after he seduced her enough that she didn’t care.

        She continued, and accepted his limited physical availability, and still kept texting and keeping it going, as did he. So she was complicit. I kind of let her slide.

        I texted her once, on D-day. She said “I’m embarrassed to hurt you. That was something that I couldn’t forgive myself.” But not enough to stop fucking him. That’s ok, she lost him when I dumped him, because he knew he cheated down and he didn’t want to get stuck with her.

        And anyway, if it wasn’t her, it would’ve been someone else. She just happened to be the one that fed his ego at the time.

        • She knew he was married. He was her boss, she came to my house and sat her nasty ass on my couch and accepted as Sheldon would say “a hot beverage” from me.

          She willingly accepted money she knew he was siphoning from marital funds. She spread lies about me, even though she really only knew what he told her, and I was never anything but respectful to her before and after disclosure.

          In fact, she is the only one I have talked to over the years when we all had to be at a children/grandchildren event. We exchanged pleasantries. FW would duck his head and look away. He never could look me in the eyes. Was kind of funny.

          I don’t buy the they don’t owe you anything so they have no accountability or blame. Not owing someone something does not excuse reprehensible behavior. But, having said that is it true she technically didn’t owe me anything, nor did I owe her anything, including respect.

          I do agree she was just the last whore standing. (well until he cheated on her).

          And quite frankly she stole my future with my ex, and thank God for that. I almost feel sorry for her now, but she knew what he was when she picked him up. So, I can’t quite get there. Plus she according to my son and daughter in law neither of them made any effort through the years to become a decent person.

          I won’t go into the pain they both caused my son and his family. But I guess she never made any promises to my son, so not her fault.

    • Exactly. Well said.

      I have called affairs “a three-legged stool.” A Chump in the Dark is the essential unwitting player.

      But what happens when you remove one leg of a three-legged stool?

      Uh-oh. It doesn’t function anymore.

      Which is why it’s imperative the chump walk away, taking their leg of the stool and exacerbating the dysfunction for the creeps still attached to the seat.

      • I like the three legged stool analogy. It rings true.

        I so hope baby chumps learn early to walk away. Unless there is a reason not to like hurting a financial settlement.

        I did pretty good, but would have liked it better if I had walked away when the first big red flag hit in the year of discard. I didn’t have CL and her team of seasoned chumps to help me.

  • I never did MC, but the fuckwit went to three therapists and all of them said he cheated because his needs weren’t being met. One of them even said he loved me but wasn’t in love with me. 😄 They are fluent in cheater clichés.

    Despite the fact that studies show it is the spouse who is more of a taker is more likely to cheat, they cling to this.
    This is because they know that in order to “save” the relationship, they must convince chumps to change, to make their needs even smaller to make room for the cheater’s unbridled narcissism. They know damn well the cheater won’t change, so it’s their only route to “success” as in keeping a lopsided marriage together. If the couple divorces, it’s is a failure, and they don’t want to fail. It’s highly cynical, but I’m sure they tell themselves they are doing the right thing.

    • OHFFS –

      I hear you. Our therapist told us early on that she had a “75% success rate” working with couples regarding infidelity.

      I immediately asked her what success meant to her, because if success was based on us not divorcing, that was a bullshit goal. I was basing her success on how well she could get through to him to stop lying. She wasn’t even trying. Two sessions is all I did with her.

      • Good for you for firing that charlatan! 👏Sadly, they seem to be the norm, especially those therapists who aren’t clinical psychologists, which is most of them.
        My daughter sees an experienced psychologist. His comment about her father; “I’m so sorry your dad is such an asshole and abuses your mom.”
        He’s one of the good ones. They’re worth their weight in gold.

        • Unfortunately the 2 clinical psychologists I talked to wouldn’t ‘judge’ …….One made me feel horrible about myself – I brought up everything I thought I did wrong in the relationship and she’d agree with me – never letting me off the hook or providing context. But never anything about the gaslighting or lying or covert controlling and passive aggressive behaviour I had to deal with.

          I think there’s that ‘hurt people hurt people’ blame shifting sad sausage narrative often going on

    • If the couple divorces the therapist has failed AND will lose income. Better for the therapist to keep the chump dancing in the abusive relationship than to equip the chump with agency. If you’re a “good” (read lucky) therapist you’ll win the trifecta of the RIC: individual counseling for both the chump and cheater and couple’s counseling.

      • What’s more lucrative than a trifecta ?

        My family of origin’s therapist saw four family members individually, my parents for couples therapy and all of us together for family therapy. Kaching 💰 His Corvette, Jaguar, house in the ‘burbs and slick wardrobe which included Italian loafers cost a lot of money.

        I have no idea what nonsense he spewed in my parents’ couples counseling. He made things worse for my mother who saw him individually after their divorce. I have no idea how the therapy relationship ended. It seemed like he foisted her off to a 12 step program.

        Ps My older brother’s violent behavior towards me was NEVER addressed in family therapy.

    • It’s ridiculous that “success” is solely defined as “keeping the couple together” in their minds.

      • I think its funny that it’s called marriage counseling
        When infidelity is not a marriage problem, but it is blamed on the marriage
        It is an individual problem
        I didn’t know my ex was a serial cheater his entire life
        Same thing happened to his first marriage
        These cheaters just run under the marriage as cover
        Gross losers, f-in cowards their whole lives
        UGH

  • While most days I do not feel mighty (2.5 years from DDay 6 months divorced) I am proud of one thing I did one month from DDay: we went to our first marriage counseling session. FW was still lying about it being more than an emotional affair. We sat down, told the therapist why we were there (I discovered texts between FW and his assistant), my ex said he had been unhappy and I wasn’t meeting his needs, so the therapist said to me “so really, you left the marriage too.” And before I could stop myself I said “that is the biggest piece of bullshit I’ve ever heard and you should be ashamed of yourself for saying it.” I went on to say this is our last session but before I leave he needs to answer 10 pertinent questions I have about the truth. He said “nope.” And I said “well I will be walking into your office on Monday and will ask the tramp these 10 questions in front of whatever patients are there, so you can answer now or then. Your choice.” He answered (I’m sure half truths but it was enough for me to get the atty) on and off affair for a few years, used protection, no one knows, etc. it was the most painful bandaid I’ve ever pulled but it got me moving. Years later I know I don’t know all of it and I still struggle every damn day but in that one moment I was badass. Sorry for the length.

  • I’ll go another step further. Coparenting coordination with FWs is also useless and further abuse of the Chump. I had to go to one “parenting coordinator” after another with ass face, and here’s what I learned. Parenting coordinators (as a whole — maybe there’s a good one??) don’t have the children’s interests at heart. From what I’ve experienced, PCs are mostly failed therapists who have discovered that they can abuse the legal system into forcing you to show up to the tune of $350+ per hour and keep you stuck going through the FW’s crazy blender of bullshit. FWs that are lying cheating gaslighters aren’t exactly great at working with you to act in the best interests of their children. PCs know that but will force you to come back over and over — and threaten you because you are legally bound. It was a nightmare

      • I’m surprised I don’t hear more about this. Parenting Coordination was even more traumatizing for me. And I fought to get free of it for several YEARS. Then the attorneys and legal system try to keep you tied into parenting coordination (or risk violating the agreement). FW would mock me with it. He loved it because he could show up and berate me and I had to sit there. The PCs even ALL identified FW as a narcissist… but I was still being forced to sit through his screaming and name calling while the PC just nodded and said “come back next week.” They’d tell us “you need to be professional with each other” and “reply to emails within 24 hours”… and FW would ignore it and they’d say at the next session “oh well. We can’t really make him do anything. See you next week. You need to make payment before you leave.”

        If you can avoid including PCs in your custodial agreement — AVOID IT with a FW! Anyone got similar stories (or any success)?

        • Augh I am in this right now. Divorced 2 weeks (yayyy) but on court-ordered coparenting sessions since mediation in March. FW and his lawyer insisted that it be mandatory and can only be stopped if we both consent. Had to fight for hours to include a clause saying the therapist can discontinue it too, even without both our consents. It has been horrible and I know he will never consent to stopping it. He uses these biweekly sessions to manipulate, triangulate (the therapist of course has a crush on him), gather his info, shout at me, and perfect his lies.

          Last week, he was on full-psycho Incredible Hulk narcissistic rage mode. Thank God it was on Zoom and with a witness. If it was just the two of us, he would definitely have thrown me clear into outer space. The reason he was yelling? I had to tell the therapist that my ex left a bra in the backseat of his car, which my 14 yo-son saw, and promptly led the poor boy to a panic attack and getting started on anxiety meds. My ex had no time to conjure a plausible lie and said that it belonged to my daughter. (It was a 32DDD hooker’s bra. My daughter is flatter than a pancake) He shouted at the top of his lungs for a good 10 minutes, calling me a smug bitch, cursing me out. The counselor said nothing. NOTHING. Didn’t stop him. When she finally said her piece, she somehow blamed me for assuming it was not my daughter’s. Unbelievable.

  • I am a trained therapist, in the past working mostly with abused children and their families. Almost every abuser I worked with was a blamer. If formally tested, the abuser was usually a narcissist. Despite intense therapy, most found it difficult to accept responsibility for their actions. They were never sorry for what they did or really empathetic to their victims. Most couldn’t even pretend to be sorry.

    I believe that infidelity is incredibly abusive, emotionally and of course physically & sexually. Cheaters share the same traits: narcissistic, blamers, never take responsibility, no empathy. Abusers and cheaters rarely change. They don’t, and shouldn’t, get their families back.

    • ‘Cheaters share the same traits: narcissistic, blamers, never take responsibility, no empathy’
      Yes, and many can fake these traits. FW was masterful at impression management. He called himself a ‘bastard’ for doing what he did. I was still in trauma and blaming myself – I asked him if he really thought he was a bastard, because I didn’t. He replied ‘no, I don’t.’
      But his sad sausage self reprimands were very convincing. He also referred to himself as ‘selfish.’ I ended up feeling sorry for this ‘wonderful’ but broken man – as he was blowing up our family for fantastic, can’t live without her married OW!

      • He called himself a “bastard”? He must have gotten that from a tv soap opera or some poorly-written drama. How deep and hard-core it is to be a “bastard”. How manly. How he suffers under the yoke of his testosterone and his dark past. He can’t help it. He was chiseled that way by Zeus’s lightning rod. He’s a sexy hero in his own mind. God, I hate these pathetic men.

        • 😂🤣I think intellectually he knew it was very wrong – but the entitlement piece- I don’t think he really felt it or truly cared! But if someone were to do this to a co- Narc extension of himself – like to his adoring mother, or his adoring daughter – he would surely think it was wrong. I think?

          • you described my FW. He called himself selfish, entitled, a bastard, traumatized by the consequences. Said it was a “brain problem” that can be fixed – that’s what the RIC told him. Whatevs, the next victim can test that theory.

            • Mine also said he was ‘broken.’ And he really looked like he meant it. The compassion I felt for him in that moment was overflowing; he looked like a broken little boy. However, he was not offering to work on putting himself back together! He was dumping me for his OW Saviour.
              And based on everything I’ve heard on this blog, I am grateful I didn’t have the chance to do the RIC. It probably would’ve ended up the same with more years of emotional turmoil in between.

              • My bastard told me the night he left for whore: “I know you don’t think so, but I do love you” “I just need some space to get my head on straight” “I think it will work out”. A week later he came back to tell me he wants to marry the whore, and he had been “dating” for ten years, and he never loved me.

                I couldn’t figure out how he could go from loving me to never loved me in a week. Took a couple months but when I started to be able to think again, I realized he was flailing, just saying what he needed to say to get out the door and keep me quiet until he got all settled. Quite frankly, I think it is entirely possible that he didn’t even remember what he said during those last few months of severe emotional and verbal abuse against me.

              • I hate that word “broken” when used to describe cheaters! Never once did I hear it applied to the truly broken people, us, the abused.
                Broken always implied that 1. they could be fixed. 2. Something else “broke” them, therefore the cheating & misuse of sex outside of marriage was not their fault. 3. they deserved compassion.
                Barf! Hate the RIC.

              • UpandOut

                No ‘reply’ box under your entry about RIC. so I am posting it here and figure you will see it too since you are in this thread/chain.

                In my RIC fog I remember reading over and over again from various sources that we, the chumps, had to give our spouses as much time as they needed to grieve the loss of their AP.

                I am sorry to say I fell for that therefore there was no confrontation on my part. Instead I gave him space.

                He left.

                Devastated when that happened but I am ecstatic now since I dumped the RIC once I found CL and LACGAL.

                I also remember that it took awhile, like months, before it hit me that I WAS THE ONE GRIEVING FOR MY SPOUSE OF 30 YEARS and for the relationship I thought we had and for our children who had been dumped too. That was NEVER mentioned in the RIC stuff I was reading!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

                The implied message in all of that was that it was better for me to bear the burden of any grief I may have so that my grief wouldn’t scare him off and then I would end up with the ‘prize’. Gag me with a shovel!!!!!

                I did end up with the prize. ME 🙂

                NC is a great thing 🙂

      • Zip, I got, by text while I was on a long-planned birthday party weekend for a friend overseas, ‘I know you think I’m a complete bastard but I do care’. My response ‘I don’t think you’re a complete bastard but I don’t believe you care’. This was a couple of weeks after DDay. He had left me after 26 years for the ex gf ‘soulmate’ a few weeks previously. While I was away he raided the house and I came home to find the empty spaces where stuff had been taken. I was right. He isn’t a complete bastard. That’s far too strong. He is, and has been for as long as I have known him, a snivelling, sly, cowardly apology for a person with a messed up narcissistic mummy-complex. And the ex gf knew what she was getting, as she’d tried him out for minuscule size twice before, without success. She must have been desperate. Not least because the narcissistic mummy had thrown her out of the parents’ house on at least one occasion. She chose this knowingly and willingly, as did the ex. And the narc mummy is 82 now. It does make me laugh! That’s karma right there!

        • Ugh, I’m sorry that happened to you. Not that I always want to blame family systems for the cheating of their adult children…
          But it would be interesting to see the common threads. I know my cheater was put on a pedestal by everybody in his family – I call them co-narcs now. And this created an incredible people pleasing personality trait in him.
          Or one created the other who knows? Anyway I suspect more often than not there’s huge narcissistic traits in the family of origin even if it’s all covert.

          • In short, his family is made of the stuff of bodice rippers set in northern English market towns with a mill or a mine in the background. They act as if they are in a play (‘mother’ is a leading very local am dram player and director). Fake smiles are a family in joke. Reality is never acknowledged. All very refined but the rotten core has to be seen to be believed. The middle son (all three are divorced following affairs) accused his mother of abuse but the rest of the family (bar me) failed to hear him. They also ignored and denied his very serious alcohol problems even when those problems were laid bare in front of them. The ex was called the ‘miracle baby’ because he was premature but he was supposed to be a girl. Oldest son is mother’s favourite and doesn’t she show it, openly and without any shame. All three boys are alcoholics.

            My FOO is a dysfunctional mess. My brother is an alcoholic. Parents had a highly emotionally abusive very long marriage, with the abuse led by my mother. Therapy has helped me to see how my defence mechanisms served me well as a child and young adult but ceased to serve me as well decades ago, placing me at high risk of abuse from others and myself as I strived for idealistic family perfection. I was a sitting duck! That therapy has saved what remains of my life in my early 60s. I don’t think we need to blame the parents who worked with what capabilities they had to work with. I feel that it is helpful to see those parents warts and all. His family knew what he intended but they lied and pretended to me until he dumped me and then they dumped me too. I was ostracised at the mother’s birthday house party away from home while my Dad was dying in hospital. None of them contacted me when my Dad died 6 weeks before the ex left me. Not even a text. I find that hard to forget, but it is evidence of just how limited their capabilities were and still are. Fortunately it’s not my circus now.

            • Yeah I, as with many of us come from a lot of disfunction as well ( and dad was a cheater among other big dysfunctions) and as far as I know no cheaters between my siblings and I.
              I do have siblings with big-time addictions though.
              I’m just wondering if the specific disorder of narcissism and fake smiles as you say breeds a cheater.
              Everything was just wonderful in Fuckwit’s family, they all walked on fairy dust. And he was revered beyond belief. I’m just wondering if the specific family type where it’s all wonderful, and the children are super wonderful, and everybody’s always smiling and happy and there’s never a harsh word and nobody says their true feelings… If that fake family is more inclined to raise a narcissist / cheater.
              -apparently they support the cheater after and the chump is all to blame!

  • THANK YOU! This is your BEST work yet, CL.
    You are beyond brilliant.

    I have struggled with the mindfuckery of this particular issue for 4.5 years, knowing it was messed up but not knowing how to articulate it.
    And yes, to a marriage counselor during wreckonciliation.

    Thankfully, I trusted my gut and fired the therapist.

    There are parts of the skein that still trip me up – this was a big one!

    Penis Flytrap (AP) is more than welcome to the rest of the giant snarl of fuckedupedness Fuckboy.

    You’re the best, Chump Lady. The best!!

  • Oh my days!! I didn’t need anyone to suggest to me about the dyadic system (first I’ve heard of it is today) as I chumpily accepted my part in his abuse toward me and even sent him a heartfelt message explaining my part to play in his infidelity while he was having a 2 week break from the marriage ‘to think things through’. I since realise he was having a 2 week fuck fest with his ho worker while keeping me as his backup plan. Thankfully I stopped the pick me dance pretty quickly, unfortunately the hopium pipe proved to take a little longer to throw away. I am so grateful for everyone’s input on CN I wouldn’t have survived without this club that no one ever wished to join.

  • I agree with many of the comments made already. It isn’t a dyad anymore; it’s a triad. The chumps find ourselves in a triangle we never asked to be in and, most of the time, we are unaware we are in that triangle. Two members of the triad are “in the know” and actively planning, hiding, and packing suitcases while the last member of the triad, perhaps still not knowing what the heck is happening, is running on survival mode.

    Talk about a power imbalance.

    A therapist who assigns equal blame to the FW and the Chump (while considering the Side Piece as an invisible, theoretical in-person with no decision-making agency in this equation) is a waving a red flag. It’s not so far off from the FW assigning 90% of the blame on their unassuming spouse.

    I remember the early days of my marriage. We were in our early 20s, I had finished college and we had just gotten our first apartment together. I was in heaven so I was disregarding red flags left and right (they say that when you wear rose-colored glasses that all flags look alike and become unworrisome). I have this super clear memory of watching Entertainment Tonight with him on our couch–a wedding gift–and the story was about how Halle Berry was divorcing her husband because she had caught him cheating on her.

    Naively, I shook my head and said, “Unbelievable. How could anyone cheat on the most gorgeous woman in the world? Just look at her!”

    Waving that red flag as hard as he could, my young, new husband shrugged and said, “Doesn’t matter how she looks. If his needs aren’t being met then the marriage won’t work.”

    I remember this clearly because I didn’t see it as a warning; I saw it as a compliment! I remember thinking “Well, I know I’m no Halle Berry and he’s right: looks don’t make a marriage faithful. Thank goodness we’re soulmates, in-sync, and I totally and completely meet his needs all the time. Thank goodness I have nothing to worry about.”

    I think about how FWs and FW-encouraging people (here, therapists) assign blame. Some assign it equally between the FW and the Chump. Some assign it largely on the Chump. In my early days as a post D-Day Chump I *happily* ate up any blame I could get my hands on because it gave me a sense of power in what was a powerless situation.

    You think I let myself go after having our kids? I can fix that! You think I’m boring and not exciting? I can fix that! You think I don’t give you enough attention? I can fix that! You think we don’t date each other anymore? I can fix that!

    It took me awhile to realize that all the blame I was heaping on myself was malarkey. I was responsible for none. of. it. I had power over none. of. it. Eating up that blame in order to feel like I had power over the situation somehow didn’t alter the track he was on because he was committed to being a trainwreck. I lost weight, I was more spontaneous and exciting, I gave him lots of attention, I arranged for babysitters and planned dates out… none of it mattered. The blame he was heaping on me was all bagged salad because he was going to do what he was going to do no matter what I did. I could have been everything he wanted me to be only to find out that it still wasn’t what he wanted. No matter what I did, how I looked, or how much sex we had he was still going to sad sausage his way to his girlfriend’s house, lay his head in her lap and mournfully lament that he was in an unhappy marriage and his needs were not being met. And all those girlfriends, including the one he married, would know that *they* had nothing to worry about because *they* were his soulmate.

    Full circle right back to the moment on the couch right after our honeymoon where I agreed with his assessment on why some people cheat (“needs aren’t being met”) and thought “Well, thank goodness that will never be me, even though I’m no Halle Berry.”

    The blame game of “it takes two to tango” re: FW and Chump share blame in equal measure makes me feel ill. No, I do not accept blame for his trainwreck. I only feel bad that I stood on the tracks for so long.

    • ‘understanding that it wasn’t up to my husband to make me happy, that I had to learn how to fill myself up’ Michelle Obama has so many good quotes on marriage. The thing with the cheater talk and their needs not being met… there’s never any responsibility taken for them not meeting some of their own needs in a healthy way.
      And it goes without saying that the chumps needs weren’t always met either. But we didn’t go out and cheat.

    • This is so smart and so accurate.
      Your observation here, “In my early days as a post D-Day Chump I *happily* ate up any blame I could get my hands on because it gave me a sense of power in what was a powerless situation” describes as well as I’ve ever seen it why we engage in the pick-me dance. We are powerless in a situation that is out of our control, and we want to be able to fix the problem, so we look at what we have control over–ourselves–and think by changing ourselves we can change them, that our actions will affect theirs. Of course it doesn’t work this way: we don’t–and can’t–change others by our own actions.

  • How timely because this was today’s submission to Carolyn Hax:

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/08/25/carolyn-hax-different-energy-levels-marriage-relationship-ambition/

    I’m getting a BIG whiff of entitlement, affair-shopping and justification for all of it from the writer. “Squandering” her power to stay with her (less ambitious? Less energetic?) husband is like parking in front of a red flag factory. In fact, I think LW has already found someone else but doesn’t want to give up the perks of a reliable loving clueless husband.

    • You know what? Based on my experience I read it from the opposite perspective. That she’s the one taking her kids to their activities seemed to me like it could be the tip of the iceberg that describes their relationship. I thought she might have spent the bulk of her marriage picking up the slack while he sits on the couch and she’s finally getting tired of doing it. Maybe she’s finally put down the spackle knife and is seeing her own worth, as well as the future she has in front of her if she stays–or goes. Maybe he’s Mr. Entitled, who thinks it’s ok for him to sit on the couch and do nothing while she runs herself ragged making the household work, and she’s finally seeing him–and the inequity in the marriage–for what he is.

      • Except she specifically writes,

        “I feel as if I am in a mini midlife crisis of discovering my own power and questioning whether I have been squandering it to stay at the lower ambition level of my husband.”

        Midlife crisis + squandering + lower ambition level = contempt (IMO).

        She didn’t state that she has asked him to take the kids to these practices and he hasn’t or won’t and I have a feeling if that were the problem, she would say so.

      • And as the person who did the bulk of this sort of second-shift work – I very clearly discussed it with my husband and anyone who was in earshot. I didn’t couch it in hidden meanings.

        He did step up. He’s not as energetic as I am by nature but he took on other second-shift duties to balance the scales.

    • I think sometimes we can all agree to disagree, especially when there is so little information given- that letter was extremely brief.

      The column contained so little and such general information, that in a way it is like a point of view Rorschach test. I too read it from the point of view of a woman who is tired of being the only one actually invested in the relationship – the previously exhausted primary caregiver to the kids and the one expecting to mother the pouty, none involved, husband/child. To me, this quote does not evoke the mindset of a cheater: ” I especially imagine a woman who would fully embrace my husband exactly the way he is, which would also help his confidence. How can I be that woman?” It reminds me of myself trying to be the perfect woman for my husband because according to him I was clearly failing in that department. I see spackling – he is just fine the way he is – that I don’t see him that way makes me the problem. This is how I reframed abuse/indifference as normal behavior that I was just misinterpreting. It was the fuel for my pick me dancing when I was competing to get his attention without realizing that he was giving it to someone else.

      That said, I think the details of my experience are significantly different from yours NSCC and I suspect that Adelante’s may be as well. I could never ever say of my ex: ” He did step up. He’s not as energetic as I am by nature but he took on other second-shift duties to balance the scales”. I was always, always, always left doing the heavy lifting while he sat and watched and critiqued As such I would never read that column and think entitled fuckwit looking for an affair but I could understand how someone with a different experience would.

      • “He sat, watched and critiqued.” And then claimed he didn’t do anything wrong. The problem was that he didn’t do much of anything. Talk about passive aggressive.

  • Wow.
    I love this column and its responses. It cuts to the core of the system. I first went to couples’ therapy after Dday #1, when I dropped the divorce case and “wreckonciled” with my covert narc. THEN I went to grad school to become -wait for it – a family counselor. Yeah. Hopium drunk again!

    It took just a few couple’s sessions as the therapist for me to see the futility in it. For others. Me & the unicorn were A-OK.👍 But not.

    I stopped doing couple’s work and stuck to individuals. And when the final Dday dropped I knew exactly whom to go see for the support I needed. A-hole went to therapy with a friend of mine, I’m sure thinking that would convince me of his newfound sincerity. But I had a marvelous CL whack-upside-the-head save me instead! Tracy & LACGAL & CN were my true education in freedom and reclaiming my dignity by offloading that fuckwit. So when his treacly, jargon-laden letters came as he hoovered for kibbles and consequence avoidance, I ignored them and continued down the NC path to truth and light and divorced his f-ed up self. He’s already remarried. Ugh.

    I’m living a new life, near a vibrant city, with a great job and my kids who adore me nearby.

    The counselor who “helped” us to wreckoncile? He was caught at a local glory hole bathroom and outed most humiliatingly cheating on his own faithful wife.
    Ahh, perspective.

    Thanks for another great one!

  • ‘I have had to deal with the fact that this deeply held position of dual and equal accountability permeates the field and makes it impossible, and often damaging to get help.’ YES. I tried 2 therapists and 2 psychologists after being blindsided by discard for OW. The 1st two were nice but they didn’t know Mr Wonderful so they wouldn’t comment. It would have been helpful to have learned something about covert narcissism. I had to show them the mountains of love cards he gave me to validate my shock at the betrayal. They listened, felt sorry for me, but that’s it.
    I heard the 50% model, I heard ‘people cheat for all kinds of reasons including hormones’ ( that gem from a psychologist). I heard ‘ I don’t judge….how would that help, people could judge you for not seeing the signs!’( also from a psychologist).

    How hard can it be to say something along these lines?
    ‘Cheating is all about the cheater. Don’t make your Ex’s cheating mean anything about your worth and value because it doesn’t. ……. If another person betrays you, that’s coming directly from their unresolved inner issues. ….. aren’t really about you or something you lack. They’re about something lacking in your Ex. This doesn’t mean there weren’t other issues in the relationship that both parties could have contributed to, but the act of cheating is a reflection on the cheater, not you.’ Deb Purdy.
    Recently I talked to a coach and in 1 session I received better support and advice than from all 4 therapists. I was told things like ‘ unbelievably selfish…..what he did to your kids is heartbreaking, his acts of kindness weren’t authentic- they were for validation, he went right to OW with kids to re-create his night in shining armour show…… then her version of no contact was ‘he needs to be dead to you’ so that I can break the neg. relationship I’m having with him in my mind. Also to ignore social media etc and not to think for a second that he could have found true happiness because he’s not authentic – a professional liar. Also lots of support about what I can look out for next time- what I’ve learned. ( hey a Friday challenge suggestion: what we’ve learned).
    Coach gave advice along the lines of CL’s. It was so helpful. She also gave me techniques to get him out of my mind when ruminating.
    This is because she knows about abuse and narcissistic behaviour.
    For any therapists who may read this, in addition to what CL pointedly snarked, we are devalued during the betrayal in many different ways. I believe much of the retroactive unhappiness they use as their justification for cheating, was created during the cheating. Suddenly you become a barrier to their ‘fix’ and we chumps pay the price for that. We receive less love and connection which makes us feel unsettled. This creates a whole dynamic. It changes us. Cognitive dissonance everywhere because we are lied to. Cheating doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Cheaters are often enabled by their unhealthy family systems.
    These cheaters are emotionally stunted individuals. Chumps are often people full of compassion who don’t know their own worth. And we don’t get the support we need from society or from most therapists. People who have not had this happened to them speak from a place of privilege and lack of awareness. Blaming the betrayed partner is rampant.

    • “This doesn’t mean there weren’t other issues in the relationship that both parties could have contributed to”

      Sure, but how can you even identify what these “other issues” might be until you get out of an abusive dynamic and give both parties time to heal and grow (in theory)? You’d have to wait until a fundamentally equitable and honest relationship dynamic was established (impossible with a cheater, of course) to discover the real and issues that might be getting in the way of a harmonious partnership.

      We chumps are not our best, authentic selves when we’re being abused, especially after years of it; and Pick Me, occurring while many of us are in counseling, brings out all kinds of desperate, inauthentic behaviors. That’s not who we really are, and it makes zero sense to look back and focus on chumps “problematic” behaviors, per cheater or counselor. The only thing worth noting is that the abuse damages chumps and relationships. With an abuser, trying to pinpoint any relationship issues that don’t directly relate to the abusers harmful and controlling choices is a purely hypothetical exercise, and a setup for more abuse and chumpy self blame.

      Reconciliation is not possible, IMO, but if it were? You really would have to start over. (And you can’t, so…) Not disagreeing with your comment, Zip! Ive been appreciating all of your insightful and mighty comments, especially lately. It just made me think of something that used to bother me when I was getting mindfucked and trying to manifest a happy new life with a fuckwit.

      • Oh I’m not disagreeing with you either! I hear you! I’m just saying that regardless of the cheating, nobody in relationships is perfect, and we can be fine with that. Even before the covert abuse and the devaluing, both people in relationships are contributing to the dynamic. Healthy marriages have partners who make mistakes, work on them and grow closer afterwards. Regular non-abusive mistakes can actually bond people when they’re worked through.
        How I interpreted her comment is that we chumps don’t have to feel
        guilty or less than because of any mistakes we made. I know I made some way before the cheating started and I no longer feel badly about them. They were opportunities for growth.
        No human imperfections justify or cause cheating.
        And of course, if we are being covertly abused and devalued, and/ or if our partner is very unhealthy that changes the way we are in the relationship – even if we consciously don’t know what’s going on (I know I became more anxious (may have even become more critical) and slightly depressed but I had no idea why ).

  • Circular causality is the theoretical assumption here.

    “The feminist critique of circular causality, on the other hand, points out that these ideas encourage therapists to avoid stance-taking in situations of inequality (MacKinnon & Miller, 1987; Walters, Carter, Papp & Silverstein, 1988), which can lead to equal distribution of responsibility in situations of structural injustice (Kurri & Wahlstromm, 2005) and to reinforcement of socio-cultural inequalities in general (Knudson-Martin, 2013; Knudson-Martin & Huenengard, 2010).”

    Janusz, B., Józefik, B., & Peräkylä, A. (2018). Gender‐related issues in couple therapists’ internal voices and interactional practices. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Family Therapy, 39(4), 436-449

  • Thankfully, my time spent in bullshit marriage counseling was short-lived. Although I wish I could have every penny back that was spent on my attending, and feeling further victimized. The format was we attended as a couple for some weeks, then had solo sessions, with the purpose to eventually attend joint sessions again.

    While in my solo sessions, in which I insisted my FW was having an affair with his employee, the therapist said to me “wow, you just can’t let that go, can you.” Nope. Nope, wasn’t letting that go. She also said, during another session, that I spoke as if I was morally superior to now Ex. I responded that I wasn’t cheating and lying about it, I hadn’t abruptly left the family home with no forwarding address, and I was the one still present and being the adult and parent to our children. If that made me superior, so be it. Of course there was the usual therapist-speak about both partners contributing to the state of the marriage blah blah blah. All I could say was that he expressed no issues with me or the marriage, until he started fucking his employee. I admitted I wasn’t perfect, and he had every right to leave the marriage, with reason, or for no reason at all. I said what he didn’t have the right to do was cheat and lie about it. That his bullshit (bagged salad) excuses rang hollow given that he never mentioned those issues before fucking his employee. Throughout, I kept getting the feeling that the emphasis was on making HIM feel safe, to air HIS grievances. No concern whatsoever for the betrayal and trauma I was experiencing.

    Thank goodness my parents raised me with enough self esteem to find my voice when necessary. I even remember telling the therapist that it would have hurt less if he’d just thrown me down a flight of stairs and stomped on my body at the bottom of the staircase. She never did take the cue that cheating is abuse.

    Eventually, FW told me he had lied to me and therapist. He said he disclosed everything to the therapist and she agreed to still work with us. He said he was open to full disclosure, he’d answer anything I asked, no more lies. My first solo session after that, I informed the therapist I filed and would no longer need her services.

    I never did seek full disclosure. I knew all I needed to know. On reflection, I believe the damage inflicted on me during those sessions delayed my recovery.

  • This is an easy one to debunk, but not easy to convince others of.

    In order to qualify as an affair, it must take place in the context of a relationship. That does not mean that the relationship has anything to do with the cause of the affair.

    Murder also place in the context of a dyadic system. According to Lt. Joe Kenda, ninety-seven percent of murder victims have a relationship of some kind (partner, spouse, family member, friend) with their victim.

    Substitute the word “murder” above and see how much sense that makes.

    Zero.

    Recently it occurred to me that affairs are related to murder. It’s a way of inflicting massive damage, maximum pain and suffering on another person without laying a hand on them. A whole army of people will jump on the victim-blaming bandwagon. It’s all done in and defended by the name of love. It reminds me of the circular logic of someone who is mentally ill.

    When you look under the hood of a cheater, you’re going to find a slush fund of anger, rage, and resentment. And infidelity looks to me like jt certainly has as its motives, money, sex, and revenge, the three motives of murder cited by Lt. Joe Kenda.

      • I like this section in particular.

        “A dyad can be unstable because both persons must cooperate to make it work. If one of the two fails to complete their duties, the group would fall apart. Because of the significance of marriages in society, their stability is very important. For this reason marital dyads are often enforced through legal, economic, and religious laws.”

        Once more, with feeling!

        IF ONE OF THE TWO FAILS

      • I recently watched Homicide Hunter: Beyond the Badge. It’s a series of five minute episodes where Lt. Joe Kenda talks about various aspects of murder. As I was listening, I was hearing alarming similarities between infidelity and murder. The level
        of anger at me displayed by my former fake husband has me convinced that cheating is really a chickenshit way to murder someone and get away with it.

        I also realized that if I stay on the high road, neither he nor anyone he fucked behind my back can touch me.

    • TYPO, again! 😩

      “According to Lt. Joe Kenda, ninety-seven percent of murder victims have a relationship of some kind (partner, spouse, family member, friend) with their KILLER.”

  • If someone had tried to talk to me about “dyadic systems” on the day I had to paternity test one of my kids after 22 years of marriage, I think I might’ve beat them to death with a bronze bust of Bill Strunk. What a cancerous, weasely, horse shit way of talking. Which often exposes, I believe, a cancerous, weasely, horse shit way of thinking. Never eat the word salad, in politics, poetry, or love.

    • “What a cancerous, weasely, horse shit way of talking. Which often exposes, I believe, a cancerous, weasely, horse shit way of thinking. Never eat the word salad, in politics, poetry, or love.”

      I’d like to send this to my word-salad spouting ex, but I’m firm no contact.

      You cut right through to the elemental truth of cheating, and I’m sorry you had to paternity test your child!

      • Thank you. Of all the infidelity low moments, performing that test was the lowest. Though happily it turns out he is biologically mine.

  • Sadly, up until relatively recently, things like child sexual abuse and domestic violence were seen as equal blame issues in mainstream therapy. The earliest treatment for incest included requiring the daughter (they only acknowledged father-on-daughter incest back then) to reflect on what she had done to “seduce” her father. Even today, marriage counseling is fiercely warned against by domestic abuse experts because it has a strong tendency to make things worse by it’s automatic assumption of equal responsibility (“He says he hit you because he’s jealous of you going out with your friends so often. How about he promises to stop hitting you if you promise to go out less?”).

    Victim blaming is a long-standing tradition in much of the therapy field. Don’t get me wrong, I have a lot of respect for therapy and it can help. But it has historically done very poorly in acknowledging abuse as a one-way street, and the way it treats infidelity is just the most contemporary example of this issue.

  • Reminds me I need to order a copy of CL’s book for my attorney. She was awesome. One of the best things about her was she had him pegged in about three questions she asked during our first phone call.

    She had absolutely no fear in protecting me from him during the process. It was obvious this wasn’t her first rodeo with these bozos. She calmly laid out the course of action and predicted his responses with alarming accuracy. I thought she was being a bit harsh, he had said he would cooperate, he was sorry, etc…….ha! That was my last bit of hopium smoking! In the mean time, my attorney filed paperwork and stayed right on his ass to the finish line. He was such a sad sausage in court but the judge and both attorneys saw him with clarity.

    I told my attorney she needs a copy of CL’s book in her office to loan to future clients. She hadn’t heard of chumplady. Maybe I can help some other chumps through those first horrible, horrible days and weeks of D-Day.

    Thank you, CL and chumpnation.

    • Divorce attorneys, being on the cleanup crew of the infidelity crime scene, absolutely need this information.

      I say, be like Johnny Appleseed and help spread the word by any means necessary and any people available.

    • I remember when I went to the consultation and retained my lawyer. He said, I can get you three years temp separation maintenance. He said if you can get him to file, abandonment issues can kick in (he had moved out). He said either way I can get it, but it would just be a little easier if he files, and also he could use some guilt. He even said the guilt will fade fairly quickly.

      So, I asked my fw kindly to file. (I wanted him to file anyway) He tried to talk me into filing, but I said since you want the divorce you need to file. So he did.

      I would have had to file if he delayed too much, but he did it within a week or so. He just didn’t want to hurt me by having me served. He was so protective of my feelings. Lol.

      • Yea mine was protective of my feelings as well. Lol 😂 He didn’t want me to know he was leaving me for an OW. He dug deep into the lie that he was leaving one day to the next because he was suddenly unhappy. Then when I found proof of the OW, there was a new lie that that was in the past. And the timeline of the past kept changing. Anyway a solid week worth of lies while separating.

  • Yes, I bought the “if you had been MORE, he wouldn’t have left” hook-line-and-sinker. It was a year into a long-distance separation before I quit fretting about my figure, my wardrobe, my sexuality, how much I loved the kids, being with friends, my tone of voice, etc., etc. Plenty of wives with husbands who stick around have imperfect figures, mom wardrobes, moderate bedroom skills, adore their kids, enjoy their friends, and get testy here and there.

    It isn’t that you don’t invest in your marriage because I did, but he found a whole list of things that justified his departure and more that were blaming and unrealistic. Apparently, he talked about that with his attorney because his attorney told mine that he hadn’t heard anything from my ex that wasn’t normal marital ups and downs and that he felt sorry for me. That from a thrice-married divorce attorney!

    Yes, meh feels good. I got to Tuesday.

  • I am old enough to remember when a rape victim was automatically considered at fault in some way shape or form. Hell, part of being a young woman in my time was learning what not to do to avoid rape and learning that any victim somehow set themselves up and basically tempted fate and lost. (Unless of course they were brutally beaten by a stranger or a child under 12 and even those caveats did not apply if you were in a mall parking lot/ parking structure/public street/ really anywhere alone after dark.) That narrative has slowly changed over my 58 years on this planet and hopefully the narrative around 50-50 fault due to unfulfilled needs will as well when it comes to cheating. I really believe and see signs beyond this forum that are reframing cheating as abuse; the change is on the horizon.

    Speaking of unfulfilled needs, I wish some researcher would bother to put together a statistical analysis of how many of us who have been cheated on felt that our needs were being met in the marriage. Or why some of us preferred when our spouse was away, or became indifferent with their expectations/needs/demands etc. By then end, of my marriage of 20 years, I did start to stand up to his many ridiculous demands buy simply ignoring them. I quit trying to prove to him that he was as important to me as the kids (asshole thought I spent too much time with them and not enough doting on him; never- mind I was the only one raising them.) Eventually, I even got up the nerve to take a hard pass on activities I did not want to do because when it was my turn he would not like anything that I wanted to do and would make it miserable if I did set up an activity with out his approval. After years of begging and dancing the dance to keep him happy, I did become indifferent, I did not even ask why he was coming home late, I quit fighting for him or with him for more of his time or attention, I starting building my own life within the marriage just as he had from day one. (He tried to make all of that a major issue in the divorce- it didn’t work.) The only difference was my life was still all about family, my children were central. His life was compartmentalized and family was at the bottom of his priority list unless it was a very public social media type of moment. I told my therapist post dday that I was very much pulling away from meeting his every whim and demand and that I had gotten tired of fulfilling his needs. Fortunately for me, she does believe that cheating is abuse and she had no patience for partners who get jealous of time spent raising kids because it is taking away from them. She explained that I was being abused and pulling away was an appropriate response. She even made me feel a wee bit mighty when she said that his nuclear end to our marriage was in response what he viewed as his lack of control and therefore his perception that I was leaving him or at least handling our relationship on my own terms for the first time. I hope that some day soon, all relationship therapists will be compelled by professional standards to view cheating as abuse. All chumps deserve the quality of care/help that I was very lucky to receive.

    • ‘ Speaking of unfulfilled needs, I wish some researcher would bother to put together a statistical analysis of how many of us who have been cheated on felt that our needs were being met in the marriage’ exactly- it’s such nonsense. Incredible blame shifting and excuse making. Most therapists will say it’s not up to your spouse to meet all your needs anyway.
      Another narrative that must change, is the victimhood of the other woman.
      She is the poor soul who doesn’t know what she’s worth, who deserves to have a man of her own who can meet her needs and be there for her.
      She is often routed for and she’s not shy about celebrating her victory when her cheating partner leaves his wife and family for her. WTF!
      It’s almost painted as the cheating H doing the right thing by finally leaving his unhappy marriage and making himself happy with his true love – his cheating partner.
      The other woman is not the victim. It is not she who deserves more.
      It’s truly an unbelievable but very common narrative.

      • Right.

        And God forbid anyone actually say anything about the sainted whore who owes the wife nothing, because she never made any promise to behave like a respectable human being.

        And yet the wife owes her respect and should not place any accountability on her delicate shoulders.

  • I met all my X Asshat’s Needs. He said I was perfect for him and so he married me. He said he loved me.

    Eventually he got bored and scared of growing old so he invented new Needs; Needs that could only be met by much younger ho-workers. And his number one Need was to lie about his Needs.

    He future faked me up to the day before he abandoned me by e-mail. He told me I deserved it. I wasn’t meeting his Needs. He raged at me that he never, EVER loved me. Married 28 years.

    And I am supposed to take responsibility for my part in that? I have no Need for that bullshit.

    • I will add that the first counselor I met with didn’t believe me about what he had done, and yawned her way through our session. It was an employee-assistance emergency outreach consultation since I was suicidal after the sudden abandonment. I am glad I survived it.

      • I hate that.

        My supervisor told me I could have three free meetings with a counselor. I declined. I am glad I did.

        I declined because I didn’t trust them to keep my shit private, and if I ever in my life needed to keep my job it was at that time. So I sucked it up and turned to anti depressants to help me get through.

        And to be honest they anti depressants helped me to focus on my job, which was my goal. I went off them after about 9 months. I stayed stable and by then the pain had subsided and I could start rebuilding my non work life.

    • I don’t think there is any doubt that my fws needs were that he wanted the thrill of illicit sex.

      He continued cheating after he married the whore. I honestly doubt she cared that much. She had her meal ticket.

      Even after he filed bankruptcy and they moved into a one bedroom mini apartment she was better off than when she was single and working. She quit work and he paid the bills. I think he was fine with that though. If she had any financial power, he wouldn’t have been able to control her.

  • The first resource I had as I was searching for information concerning what the hell was going on was Leslie Vernick’s The Emotionally Destructive Marriage. Her blogs and videos are spot on concerning abuse. She has a short one on why marriage counseling does not work when there’s abuse and cheating is abuse. It’s biblical so if you can weave through what doesn’t apply to you, she helps new ones learn and reaffirms what we know is happening is wrong.

  • For 2 weeks after dday me and my husband barely spoke. I was in total shock and completely confused and very scared and he was refusing to have any conversations about it. I kept waiting for him to say anything, good or bad. Finally he came home one night after work (3hrs late, the norm for the last month we were together-lots of excuses why) and I said “You need to come home right after work, we need to talk about things.@. He said “what do i need to come home for?” Again I was utterly confused. I asked him if he wanted to save the marriage, he said yes. I said that we needed to go to marriage counciling to see what was wrong with our relationship. He said he wasn’t going to have some shrink get up inside his head and blame him for everything. (Now I’m glad we didn’t go!). After another 2 weeks of no discussion, he came home one night and packed a bag and went to get his act together
    I made an appointment the next day to go to a therapist on my own. I was a HOT MESS. I could barely get out of bed. The therapist proceded to tell me that my marriage was probably never healthy and i needed to examine what went wrong and what role i played in all of the problems. I was utterly confused. I was a zombie and staring off in space, not believing what I was hearing, it didn’t make any sense to me even in my current state of mind. The session was 45 minutes of her telling me all about things that cause infidelity. Even though I was almost non functioning but I had the sense to know this was just not right. I never went back
    The one thing I have figured out over time is this:
    When we’re faced with a problem of any kind we search for a solution. There is no marital problem where the solution is to screw someone else.

    • ‘ When we’re faced with a problem of any kind we search for a solution. There is no marital problem where the solution is to screw someone else.’

      This one is getting saved in my notes! Thank you

  • It goes way beyond just therapists. This asinine view of infidelity is unbelievably pervasive. I heard it from my own chump aunt who raised me. She still claims to be friends with her exfw for us (she raised me and my sister along with our cousins when my mom passed.) None of us ever asked her to do that, most of us don’t even like him even his legit biological daughters aren’t crazy about him. Certainly nobody expects this of her but her because she has bought into this belief that she has to play nice because they share kids. I can’t count how many hours long discussions we’ve had about how she’s needlessly hurting herself and doing image management for a complete fucking asshole and all she ever says in response is trite examples of things they “couldn’t do” if she wasn’t still friendly with him like go on vacations. I’m so exhausted lol it’s like

    1. You can absolutely go on vacations without the fuckhead who used you and cheated on you

    2. Why *would* you want to go on vacation with him anyway even if it was the only option?

    I’m basically just made of questions and arguments but it never gets anywhere. Her version of mighty would make me depressed and suicidal idk why she does that.

  • Fred and his ilk are ignorant assholes.

    Thank you CL and Firewire for your eloquent responses to the crap such clueless therapists spew.

  • I’ve been on the receiving end of the blame for my fkwits 30 year hooker habit so often and by so many people, colleagues and professionals it’s become comical.
    He cheated because “ I was too nice; I worked too much; I was gone too much; I am too skinny and should have gotten the LA boob job; and he wasn’t happy…his needs weren’t being met…. he’s a hard working physician who takes care of others and needed to be pampered bla bla bla bla.
    I could throw up but I’ve reach meh and have a solution —- Sheep.
    All these fkwit men and their magic wand problems….all these erectile dysfunction commercials… just get a Sheep!!!
    Tie it up in your bedroom – put blond wigs, redhead, brunette wigs, earrings, some lipstick – the sheep won’t care – just feed her well and with 1/2 the men having a needle dick the sheep won’t even notice as they chew their cud and for the few that are hung like a horse the sheep might actually like it.
    Oh and the OW’s out there will be moaning and complaining they were replaced by a sheep!
    The only problem will be PETA.
    Chumps Rule xo

  • I avoided this particular hell. When my ex asked for a separation (3 days before he fessed up), he suggested we see a therapist. That never happened. Thank God.

    After dday, my ex told me that his personal therapist said that he could have done couples therapy without mentioning the affair. What? That’s lying by omission. And why would a therapist sanction such a thing? (Just realized that my ex is a liar, so one never knows if this really happened.)

    If it did, however, it speaks to how much my ex and his therapist must have viewed me as equally at fault for the affair. Fuck that!

    CL, your response is brilliant.

    • Isn’t it crazy, Spinach? I had a similar experience. According to my ex, the individual therapist he was seeing (I encouraged him) during his mysterious, unilateral “time and space” break counseled him not to tell me he was cheating on me. Instead, she (allegedly) told him to write me a letter to end our fifteen-year relationship. He later admitted to me he’d been lying to her about most of what he’d been up to (multiple affairs for nearly a decade that I had 100% no clue about), but he still threw her under the bus when I asked how the hell he thought that was an honorable or even remotely acceptable way to end a long term partnership with a woman who’d been there for him, and his family, through everything? He didn’t ever write me the letter because he decided he wasn’t ready to let me go. And he’s too lazy and didn’t care enough, I think. So began DDAY and Hoovering and wreckonciliation and Pick Me. I eventually learned that at least 20 mutual acquaintances knew, to some degree, about the infidelities before I did. I was obviously going to find out at some point. How can a person do any of this?

      I didn’t know what to believe. He’s a liar. I’m pretty sure, based on the excuses he gave me and his sister, that he was telling the therapist he was worried what I might do when he told me. That I might hurt myself? I’d never mentioned, let alone threatened, that. Whatever he said, she was clearly in over her head and gave shitty advice.

      Did FW’s concern translate to him ending the affair with the girl he was cheating with? No, he was still at it when he came crying and begging for me to come back. Did it mean he chose to treat me with honesty or kindness? That he stopped being abusive and controlling or responded to what I wanted – for him to leave me alone if he was full of shit? No.

      Besides, it was too late to worry about how I would react. The damage was done. Learning about a multiple year affair and double life, losing friends and family and your home and years worth of investments and community and positive memories, and realizing you’ll probably never have a family of your own – all because you’ve mistakenly committed to an abusive fuckwit – that is earth shattering. Of course that kind of revelation will lead to a scary reaction. He didn’t mind abusing and stealing from me. He just didn’t want to feel bad about it or face any consequences. Above all else, I think cheaters are cowards.

      Glad you didn’t add MC to the pile of abuse!

      • ” How can a person do any of this?”

        Honestly, I think many of them know they are going to crash and burn, so they just ride the wild monkey until it crashes.

  • My couple’s therapist didn’t just stop at the casual victim blaming by identifying my part in the cheating. Oh no. She went all the way and acted like I was super controlling for not wanting cheater to cheat in the first place.

    I never went back again after she told me that cheater’s time is cheater’s own time and I can’t expect anything so long as cheater comes back to me afterwards… uhhhhh….

  • Quick review of Chump Lady, August 16, 2021 in UBT:The Mayo Clinic. Stated as #1 cause of affairs in Infidelity: Mending Your Marriage After An Affair, “lack of affection .” Does anyone ever think they get the proper amount of affection? Or is that just the easiest thing to blame? What a crock. To blame someone for something you did is just plain evil. The Mayo Clinic in Rochester has been ranked No. 1 on U.S. News and World Report’s annual “Best Hospitals” ranking 2021. Soooo, who can we trust? Apparently meritocracy is not the answer. I for one can not afford to try out several different counsels. We can list all the pros and cons the same way we did when choosing a spouse. That didn’t work either. I would truly appreciate your help. Thank you CN.

  • Yep, a system predicated on the goodwill of both parties to act in the best interests of the relationship between them instantly falls over when one of the parties withdraws their goodwill and works solely in their own interest (as a function of their entitlement) , something that the well-meaning, we’re all mature grown-ups working towards a solution together paradigm of therapy needs to actually face as the reality in an infidelity situation, that the usual rules do not apply.

  • I come from a troubled and abusive FOO background. I’ve been in therapy off and one for years, much to my benefit. I’ve had 3 great therapists for individual therapy and done useful group therapy in 2 good, solid groups. I did couples counseling with one XH and with a man I dated seriously who had serious issues with his kids.

    What I wouldn’t do is go into marriage counseling with anyone who was
    *cheating,
    *abusing alcohol or drugs,
    *physically or emotionally abusing me or others,
    *stealing money or failing to pay his share,
    *lying to me about anything (e.g., where he’s been, whether he broke the lamp, etc.)

    Joint counseling does not fix individual character problems.

    • Yes, having tried it I can attest to that. My FW was all that without me knowing, or being honest to myself about it at the time (I’m a superchump, yay!). Stuck my head right in the mindfuck blender. They double-timed me and I paid for it, handsomely. It was a hellish experience, it’s still painful even thinking about it.

      The whole thing bitchslapped me into action though. I was so angry after I went to what I decided was my last session that I finally got my ducks in a row. In record time I got a lawyer, an apartment for me and my kids and boxing lessons, and served FW with divorce papers. Got much better afterwards. So in a way it worked???

      I don’t recommend it though, there is probably a gentler, more humane way to get to the same result.

  • Marriage is dyadic in the sense that intimacy is exclusively shared between two partners, but how can a system continue to be dyadic when someone brings in a 3rd intimate party? Makes no sense. Flawed premise.

    And, the entire reconciliation industry misconstrues responsibility and accountability in regards to cheating. NO ONE is saying that there isn’t dual responsibility to some extent for the dysfunction and degradation of the marriage. Even when there’s physical or other mental or emotional abuse, there can be some duality. We talk here a lot about owning the fact that us chumps chose to stay in these relationships. That’s our responsibility. That’s why we fix ourselves. BUT, it’s impossible to assign shared responsibility for a unilateral decision to cheat. How can someone be responsible for a choice that they had no knowledge of and no hand in making?? This doesn’t pass the proverbial sniff test.

    • The way I came to see things, my number one job was to clarify and maintain my boundaries, values and expectations. That was me taking responsibility for myself. I recognized that was no way I could be happy or be in a healthy relationship with someone who did not agree with basic principles of respect, honesty, consent and reciprocity. My ex undermined me every step of the way and continued to manipulate, bully and lie in order to hold onto power. He couldn’t stop being abusive. It was not a clean getaway, but I did barely manage to hold myself responsible enough to leave when this abusive pattern became impossible to ignore.

      Counseling sent very mixed messages about all the of this, too. I kept saying, “I don’t get what I’m supposed to do. This all seems so contradictory and impossible.” Hmm, what was CL’s pro tip about mixed messages yesterday… ? Applies to therapists, too.

  • @Hope Springs: if I had a nickel for every time I heard that shit from supposed friends, insensitive family members or, hell on wheels, even the OW (plural), I wouldn’t have filed for 18 years of child support. Yeah, fuck me for flunking Clairvoyance 101 in Relationship School.

  • CL: And you (even) left out financial abuse (stealing marital funds)…ho’s, strippers, double lives…don’t come cheap!

  • I found “The Dawn Wall” thanks to this site & wanted to plug it again. Final day on Netflix is September 3.

    I also found this site where climbers hang out & discuss. They dished on his cheating ex-wife, Beth Rodden. I see Tommy has swallowed too much RIC bullshit for someone he surpassed, outclassed and outgrew years ago. May he look past or through her going forward.

    http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.php?topic_id=3041926&tn=60

    • Thanks for recommending this/ Another Friday Challenge idea-
      Best shows for chumps
      / that will be a true challenge!

    • Thanks, NSC! Will check it out ASAP. Added bonus – climbing helped me through the worst of it. The presence of mind I feel while I’m on the wall is unparalleled, and when dealing with trauma, I couldn’t achieve that feeling literally anywhere else. It also felt so good to get stronger and more confident in my body and mind, even as I felt weak and abused in my relationship and out in the world. And it’s FUN! Worth a try for other chumps in the thick of it (though unfortunately the pandemic has complicated access).

  • Steal his wallet multiple times.
    If he DISCOVERS you’ve been stealing his wallet, here are some defense/response options:
    -Give a fauxpology, promise it won’t happen again, and just steal his wallet again.
    -Claim you were forced to steal his wallet because he wasn’t fulfilling your needs.
    -Deny. Deny. Deny. Demand evidence, declare it’s bogus. Use this information to avoid further detection.

    If he SUSPECTS you stole his wallet, use one (or all) of these responses:
    -Tell him he’s wearing crazy pants
    -Flip it back and say if anyone is stealing wallets, it’s him.
    -Tell him he’s paranoid and doesn’t trust you
    -Act offended. How dare he accuse you of being a pick pocketer!

    • – after all the denying, if he gets angry when you accidentally produce the stolen wallet, threaten to take away his children.

  • Just had a WONDERFUL Parenting Coordinator sesh. So awesome, in fact, that I’m TOTALLY to blame for ALL.HIS.CHOICES. Me. Just Me. To wit, the litany of:

    I didn’t include him. I told him to go make friends and “have fun”. I am the reason his kids don’t talk with him. I always thought he wasn’t good enough for me. AND…wait for it…that HE was the innocent one in all of this. I AM THE REASON HE CHEATS. I AM THE REASON HIS LIFE SUCKED. I AM THE REASON HE WALKED AWAY (followed by) I AM THE ONE WHO LEFT FIRST. His choices to have the affairs (yep, plural) were ALL.THE.DIRECT.RESULT.OF.ME.BEING.A.FRIGID.BITCH.AND CHOOSING.THE.CHILDREN.OVER.HIM.

    DYAD?! More like the one-sided “you take ALL THE SHIT LOS” and I’ll stand here crying because I am the victim of your multi-year abuse. And you know what, I did. I sat there and took it—because the ENTIRE TIME I was sitting there, want to know what was going through my head?

    1. Sad sausage
    2. Hopium
    3. IRC
    4. Its not me, it is how you are responding to my choices.
    5. Gray rock
    6. Yep, I AM that horrible; please sign here and here and here to finish our divorce.
    7. This is what MIGHTY feels like.
    8. Gaslighting: It is not what’s for dinner.
    9. Please let me know when you are done as I have anything to do but this.
    10. Shit sandwiches aren’t on my FW-free diet.

    Didn’t call my friends. Didn’t call my family. Sat in my car for a minute to “process”. Now, I’m laughing. What a crock of shit. Thanks CN.

  • Definitely a “best of” Chump Lady. Thank you for being you, Tracy, and for sharing yourself with us chumps. I know better, but all I want to do is share this with the close friends and family who’ve been along for the ride. It explains SO MUCH and is the perfect analogy to cut through the dominant affair narratives and pretty much any blameshifting mindfucks. (For example, #3 in this post made me think of the old, “You are responsible from your own happiness” cheater defense, often used in therapy to victim blame, too: “You are responsible for feeling stressed and upset that your wallet is missing. Stop trying to hold ME responsible for making you unhappy – because I stole your wallet. You’re just so negative and sensitive.”)

    Also, the whole “whinging woman” bit! Too good.

  • LMAO, dyadic. Yes, I get it some people’s vocabulary is exceptional. I just can’t help but think sometimes that the only reason they use words like this is to “appear” smart or wise. You could just say two people Fred, instead of looking down you’re snoot while you talk to the unwashed uneducated people that walk in you’re door. I’ve told my couples counseling story many times on this forum. It was basically an ambush. I’m crying, she’s grinning and the counselor starts off with……So……what do you think you did to cause you’re wife to cheat. Thankfully, I’ve seen enough of counselors to call that shit out. Left immediately. Thankfully, MY counselor that I found was a wonderful caring person who hadn’t bought into the whole everyone’s has blame thing. Yes, maybe I became distant…….hmmmm. Wonder why that was? Maybe the spidey sense kicking in after years of her being distant and cheating? So yeah, I probably got distant. Totally my fault right? Pffffft. My counselor was very experienced and knew her shit, probably because she’d seen a lot of it. When I told her about X suggesting an open relationship she flat out said she wouldn’t even counsel couples who even agreed to it. Her words…..”In 30 years of counseling…..it never fucking works, so I won’t waste my time with it, and when it comes to cheating, couples counseling rarely works because the cheater usually can’t be honest with themselves or anyone for that matter.” I knew she was a keeper. One year later and some EMDR, and with the help of Chump nation…..blinders fully came off. Serial cheating or long term cheating is ALWAYS about one thing and one thing only. ENTITLEMENT………try that word out Fred instead of dyadic or whatever fancy word is on that “words for smart people” calendar on you’re desk. Here, I’ll help you…….a dyad of people will not be a dyad for long when one is entitled and always takes and only gives when it suits their needs. But hey, I’m sure you’ll be too busy trying to correct my grammar instead of my psyche, which I thought was the point of counseling. You probably should have just been an English teacher, you’re true calling.

    • “ Yes, maybe I became distant…….hmmmm. Wonder why that was? Maybe the spidey sense kicking in after years of her being distant and cheating?”

      Yep!

      • Right?

        “we grew apart”

        Ya think? By your own admission you have been lying to me, committing adultery and using marital funds to entertain another woman. You think my distance could have been that my body knew something was going on and my brain was struggling to make sense of it?

  • Here’s how a couples therapy session goes from my experience. You got mugged in the street, and the person who just mugged you takes you to a therapist office and sits down next to you on the couch. He then proceeds to bash you in the head with a bat repeatedly while the therapist sits and watches and occasionally asks you “how does this make you feel?”, “is this acceptable to you?”, and tells you you should “express your needs more clearly” between the blows. After 50 minutes it stops thankfully and you’re asked for $200. But you seem to be missing your wallet. No problem, the therapist also takes checks. So do you want to make another appointment for next week, same time?

    • In my experience, there was a lot of what you describe AND a lot of individual therapy focused on FW, sobbing about his childhood grief, his addiction to secrets from a young age, his struggles with alcoholism, etc. Both FW and MC telling me, this isn’t about you. So… why was I there and paying? That was the whole problem – none of it was about me. Ever. It wasn’t even about us. It was all, always, about my narcissistic ex. I finally said so. What about me? I want it to be about me for once: What I want, need, and feel. God, that sucked. Any chumps in “therapy” with cheaters, GET OUT!

      • That’s right Bread&roses, it was the same for me, I forgot… maybe being hit it the head is not the best for my memory turns out? I also had to listen to all the sad sausage stories at the same time.

        • If you’re anything like me, you’d already spent years consoling and supporting the cheater, sacrificing your own needs and making him and his feelings the priority. I worried more about his problems than my own. Totally central. My life was pretty much all about taking care of him and making sacrifices (some willful, some unwitting). So when we got to counseling and they t was, no surprise, rehashing all of that and taking the stage while I – the broken one – got to sit on the side and lick the wounds he had caused, I finally became fed up. My genuine compassion for him pretty quickly dried up after that, and I developed the superpower of seeing through the pity channel. It used to work so well on me, coming from anyone. I still have empathy and compassion for others’ suffering, I just don’t let them use it to manipulate me.

          • What a punch to the gut it is then when you hear ‘cheaters cheat because their needs weren’t met’
            It’s like saying abusers hit their partners because their partners were irritating.

          • Awful.

            I remember when fw called the preacher in a panic and wanted to meet me to talk about “trying again”. I went though I knew I was not going to go back. I just wanted a chance to reject him.

            Anyway, the first thing out of his (fws) mouth was what was wrong with me. He didn’t mention the housekeeping (which was the only excuse he gave me when he left). He said “I always tried to get Susie to be more independent” then in the next breath he said “but I (meaning him) am a controller” Two totally contradicting statements.

            Truth was, he kept me under his thumb and did not want me doing anything without his approval.

            Anyway the preacher looked at him horrified. I think the preacher was in over his head, but he was trying to help.

            Then the fw turned to me and said, “I can’t make any promises” I looked at that piece of shit rat faced whoremonger and said “we are done here” I stood up and thanked the preacher for all his help and walked out.

            The preacher called me later and apologized for setting up the meeting, he said “he didn’t say the things I expected him to say” I said “he said exactly what I expected him to say”

            Truth was he had no intention of working to fix the marriage, he just wanted to destabilize me for his own purposes. I did get to reject him though, and for that I am grateful.

            He tried a couple more times to talk to me. (the last time was just a few weeks before he and the whore flew off to Vegas to get married. I just shut his ass down. The last time we ever spoke before the D was final, I said you made your choice and you need to go on with your life.

            All he was trying to do was to put me back into a weeping heap of goo, so I would be available in case he wanted to use me again.

  • An absolute cracker of a post, with plenty to offer – and the comments section here is the BEST articulation of what’s wrong.

    In couples therapy after infidelity, too often the brief is “save the marriage at all costs” rather than “protect the mental health of both parties”.

    The problem is that infidelity is NOT seen by most people, including marriage counsellors, as spousal or partner abuse. And yet it easily fits that paradigm.

    Couples counselling is absolutely NOT recommended when there is abuse, because it’s usually weaponised by the abuser outside of the session.

    So why is infidelity any different?

  • I remember sitting in one of these couple sessions after finding out about years of infidelity and gaslighting, having to defend myself for things that apparently made him feel the need to cheat. I then just stopped talking and said wait a minute – this is crazy and stopped engaging. I was distraught for ages after that session. It was the last one I did. Left his sorry ass a year later. Infidelity is abuse, and couply therapy after that is like putting gasoline on the fire.

    • After I had gone through my hell, and was somewhat better and working my way through healing; I sat through a phycology class listening to a clueless, dumb ass female professor wax on about blaming the chump. (I am using the work chump after the fact).

      I can’t remember all the clap trap she spewed, but i did question her, and she doubled down. I honestly (and I am not proud of it) sat there and wished with all my heart that one day soon she would go home and find out her husband (who she raved on and on about) would dump her ass, and tell her he had been “dating” for years, and blame her.

      I wanted that to happen to her with all my heart. Even then, before CN, before DM; I just knew something was terribly wrong with all the shit she was spewing.

      I realize now that me wanting it to happen to her, was me striking back at her, because what she was saying was further damaging me.

  • Couple’s Therapist & (male) chump here: agreed that couple’s counseling is contraindicated for abuse– infidelity included– prior to perpetrator successfully completing real individual treatment (which most won’t). That said, many (if not most) male chumps will inevitably be put through the ringer of false police reports, false orders of protection, false claims of abuse, etc. When that happens, it can be a literal life-saver for a male chump to have already had a few sessions w/ a competent provider, both with & without the fuckwit present, so that at least 1 respectable third-party had eyes-on himself, the fuckwit, & their dyad prior to the court being triangulated into your abuse. Thus, IF a male chump can quickly & proactively ID a “chump-competent” provider & strategically go through the motions of having that provider get a bead on himself, the fuckwit, & their dyad, he’ll be soooo much better protected in the shit-storm to come. With that in mind, here’s MTC on identifying a “chump-competent” provider who could fulfill that purpose:

    1) Don’t use anyone who believes they can treat you & your fuckwit as a couple

    Any competent provider should know acute infidelity isn’t a couple’s counseling issue. Period. They should know that a couple’s counselor can only provide crisis-management in that scenario. Thus, a competent couple’s therapist will readily convey their understanding that necessary, pre-requisite work needs to be completed by fuckwit in individual counseling before couple’s counseling can work. As such, fuckwit & chump should be given referrals to individual providers within the 1st few sessions, with fuckwit– & only fuckwit– asked to sign a release to allow communication between fuckwit’s individual provider & the couple’s counselor. Having only fuckwit consent to communication between providers helps ensure chump’s individual provider is unspoiled by fuckwit & fuckwit’s individual provider doesn’t make things worse or get triangulated against chump.

    AFTER fuckwit & chump are regularly attending individual counseling, THEN concurrent, crisis-management type couple’s sessions can resume, if desired, but there should be no heavy-lifting (i.e. no couple’s work) until fuckwit’s individual provider says fuckwit is sufficiently motivated & capable of doing the work of actual couple’s therapy (&, of course, odds are fuckwit will never reach that point).

    In my experience, if a male chump can soldier through to the stage of getting those routine, crisis-management “couple’s counseling” sessions, the female fuckwit’s need for attention can be satiated enough that she’s less likely to go completely off the rails as you exit. Sort of like narcissistic methadone: fuckwit weans off your kibbles using with the attention of not 1 but 2 (or more) providers who get paid to be sympathetic & who also do not want your fuckwit going off the rails now that they’re involved (especially if the couple has children).

    2.) Don’t use any couple’s counselor who refuses to see couples who’ve already decided to end things & just want help navigating that end.

    The same process as above can follow (i.e., a good provider should quickly pick up on the personality pathology of the fuckwit & make appropriate individual referrals & otherwise focus exclusively on crisis-management). This use of “couple’s counseling” can also be a good “insurance-policy” for male chumps. Essentially, for less than the cost of an attorney or mediator, you’re getting a jump on your exit & creating witnesses to counter later false-claims.

    Chumps can also vet potential providers of individual counseling for “chump-competency” by asking how they’d handle a hypothetical couple seeking counseling after recent infidelity. If they DON’T readily acknowledge that hypothetical fuck-wit needs individual treatment PRIOR to (or, at least, concurrent with) any real couple’s counseling, then “thank-you, next” your way on to a different provider.

  • Thanks for this info. My heart goes out to chumps who have the entire system against them from the start. I know a female fuckwit who spreads vicious rumors about her chump online. God help these chumps and may all of us recognize evil when we see it.

  • If only the therapist had mindread all of CL’s needs, and had let the sessions run over by 30 mintues, so as not to make her feel rushed …. she would never been forced to lift his wallet

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