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‘I’ve Never Broken Up with Anyone’

leave a cheaterDear Chump Lady,

I’m closing in on a year from D-Day. I feel like my mental and emotional well-being have largely recovered and I’m ready to move forward with conviction.

But I’m not doing it.

In fact, I realized that in my entire 43 years of life, I have never broken up with anyone. My husband is the first person I ever really cared about and we’ve been married for more of my life than not.

He’s still living with me in my house. And talking me into sex at least twice a week mostly by being an immature whiny baby who “can’t sleep” or manage his anxiety without sex. Sometimes it’s faster to give in and get some sleep.

I believe him when he says he’s given up the OW and really wants to work on our relationship. I just don’t care. I’m not trying to resurrect this thing, and I sincerely want to end it. I just want it to be gentle. Is that possible?

My biggest hurdle is that when my parents divorced, it broke my dad (who did not cheat). He spent the next 25 years in and out of depression and never recovered the awesome person I grew up with. And he died this year.

I know my husband isn’t my dad. But I also know that he has poor coping skills and will likely be self-destructive after I end the marriage. Can I maintain some semblance of our happy family while also cutting this dead weight out of my life? I’ve told my husband that I can be an awesome ex-wife — and I can! But how do I get from here to there?

Thanks for your help,


Dear Never-Broken-Up,

With boundaries. Lesson #101 — if you enforce a boundary, you have to let go of how it is received.

You could wrap a divorce summons in a downy pillow and serve it gently to soft Chopin piano sonatas as fresh snow falls…

… and he could still lose his shit.

You don’t control how he takes this.

It speaks well of you that you don’t want to hurt him. You’re not cramming 30 pages of legal papers down his throat. Or setting his clothes in a pile and dancing around the funeral pyre. Or frogmarching him out of the house.

So you’re nice enough, okay?

Did he consider you when he was cheating?

Why do you think you owe him more than he gave you?

Oh, because if you’re the Better Person he’ll see that and respond in kind? How’s that working for you?

You’re allowed to divorce him. And he’s allowed to not like it. And you’re allowed to divorce him anyway.

These things are rarely friendly. If you go into it expecting consensus and warm bonhomie you’re going to get screwed. Ask a thousand chumps how they know. You will “nice” yourself out of a fair settlement to avoid angering him.

Fair is a place where they judge livestock,” says divorce financial analyst Vickie Adams. Go read her on how to un-chump yourself when it comes to divvying up the assets.

I realized that in my entire 43 years of life, I have never broken up with anyone.

That’s okay. It’s just a skillset, and like any other skillset, it can be learned.

Breaking up with a spouse isn’t like dumping your prom date however. And breaking up with a cheater (someone who has demonstrated duplicity and a talent for boldly lying to your face) is not the same as breaking up with an honest broker. So, here’s how you do it.

1.) Protect yourself. You don’t discuss this with him. You just move forward. See a lawyer. Get your financials in order. Figure out what an equitable settlement looks like in your situation and what you can expect. Go read the divorce laws in your state over at

2.) Do what your lawyer tells you to do. Can you move out? Can you get temporary support orders? Child support (if you have kids)?

But, but! Don’t I owe him a heartfelt conversation first? A relationship autopsy? A downy soft pillow of gentle understanding?


Besides which, I’m assuming you have exhausted all those avenues. Counseling, trying to get him to feel your pain, etc. And in any case, it doesn’t matter. You. Are. Allowed. To. Have. Dealbreakers.

No one owes ANYONE a relationship. That goes for chumps too. No one owes us a relationship. You hope that people honor their commitments, but when anyone wants out, they should do it ethically and directly. Without revenge or spite. (We owe our children relationships, however. We brought them into this world. That’s another conversation. People who don’t honor their obligations to their children are front benchers in hell.)

You don’t owe your cheating husband your continued presence. Be clear with yourself. He broke the commitment. You’re divorcing because you value marriage and you deserve a partner you can trust.

Don’t waste time in limbo trying to convince him. Let your lawyer do the direct communicating on the logistics. Protecting yourself isn’t unethical or sneaky or unkind. It’s essential because YOU are dealing with someone who has been unethical, sneaky and unkind. Give him a heads up and he could move assets or fuck you over in a myriad of ways. CN can weigh in on this and how they got out.

My biggest hurdle is that when my parents divorced, it broke my dad (who did not cheat). He spent the next 25 years in and out of depression and never recovered the awesome person I grew up with. And he died this year.

I’m sorry for your recent loss.

Your husband is not your dad. And your dad had a responsibility for his own recovery. Your mom may have divorced him unfairly. Or it may have felt unfair to him. Life can be a kick in the teeth. But we are all responsible for how we respond to adversity and how we invest the rest of our lives. Maybe your dad had clinical depression, an illness that is no one’s fault. This experience perhaps made you uniquely vulnerable to manipulation. (You don’t know what I’d do if you left me!)

My point is, we don’t control other people.

Can I maintain some semblance of our happy family while also cutting this dead weight out of my life?

Divorce means you’re a happy family minus one fuckwit. Do you want “dead weight” in your family?

His “happiness” is not your job.

Never-Broken-Up, you can leave. If you want permission, I’m waving my magic Chump Lady wand. Poof! You have permission.

My magic wand doesn’t cover reactions. He might rage. He might shrug. He might go microwave a Hot Pocket.

Doesn’t matter. You still have permission.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Never,
    Ever consider that you are avoiding the pain yourself? You gotta walk through that fire. The faster you follow the rules, the faster through the fire.

    When you divorce, you are suing your X,. It’s important to protect your assets for the life after.

    Also consider yourself after; 4 years down the road. Who are you going to be? If you’re going to date, are you dragging the emotional well being of your stbx along? Or are you able to stand tall, on your own and meet the world with a confidence in yourself that attracts the same?

    The steps you take now help shape what’s coming.
    Plus the faster you rip the bandaid off, the faster it heals for all.

    You got this!

    • Agreed! AND arguably, ripping the bandaid off is kindness for him too. So many of us chumps here wish we had back the years of our lives we were lied to. If you’re ready to move on but dragging it out, you’re lying to both yourself and your husband. Rip off the bandaid so you can both move on.

      Good luck!

      • I think I did get some of those years back. Sans fw, I suddenly looked a dozen or so years younger which surprised me because I felt like hell on a stick for a long time. When my sky-high cortisol levels finally receded, aches and pains did as well.

        My doctor explained that, in order to produce cortisol to survive severe stress, your body starts requisitioning your hormones from their normal “peacetime” functions and, among other serious ill effects, it’s incredibly aging.

        My doctor didn’t explicitly condemn FW but she knew the basic facts since I’d gone to her to order the STD panel post-D-day and she became a bit conspiritorial. She remarked that it was now obvious what (who) had been causing my stress because its removal had done wonders, almost like a medical procedure.

        FW-ectomy is life-saving.

        • I suspect from my sleep disturbances, brain fog and weight loss my cortisol levels were very high. I wish doctors would be proactive about ordering tests following trauma. But what would the (medical) treatment have been?

          • The only real treatment is an FW-ectomy followed by some good therapy.

            I think a lot of chumps end up in this situation, turning to their doctor for what in the end and emotional and situational problem, and doctors offer anti-depressants because, really, what else can they offer? They can’t tell you to leave your spouse, or help you find a lawyer or a shelter.

            Sometimes I feel like medications are often prescribed at the worst time, as many anti-depressants like Zoloft can cause apathy, and you might lose your fight and your drive to move forward with ending your relationship. And your life is already chaotic, and messing with your brain/body chemistry on top of that almost seems cruel.

            The body’s normal reaction to stress is the clue that something needs to change, not that something is wrong with your body! ❤️ Sounds like you had a great doctor Hell of a Chump!

  • Awesome ex-wife?

    Sorry to make this blunt statement but wtf.

    I also had my head in the blender for far too long.
    Best thing was cutting x ( sad sausage poopy diaper face serial cheater liar fraud ) out of my tribe.

    Awesome x wife???

    I needed to be a friend to myself.

    • Yup. As a wife, that man is a dead weight in her life. Never tells the story well; I feel like I’m with living with the man myself and it suuuuucks.

      As an ex-wife, that man will still be a dead weight in her life.

      CL is right: boundaries need to be set and the FW (who cheated!) is a grownup who needs to take control of his own life, independence, and recovery.

      If he simply just can’t can’t can’t CAN’T live without Never then… well, I wouldn’t worry too much, Never. He’ll find someone very quickly to fill the Wife Slot after you go. Or he’ll learn to be independent. Personally, I think he’ll go with the former. You just take care of yourself, Never. Be “fair” about the divorce and boundary setting if you want (fair in scare quotes because… well… divorce), but start your escape plan while you still have the energy and motivation to do so because this man sounds like he’s sucking your soul dry.

      If he’s able to cheat, he’s able to find a new partner (probably extremely and very magically quickly) to attach his dead weight to. You take care of yourself now.

    • That phrase struck me as well. Stop defining yourself through his eyes. Who gives a shit about being an awesome ex-whatever? What does that even mean? That you’ll continue to have no boundaries to your own detriment? That you’ll accept a disadvantageous financial settlement and will bend over backwards to accommodate him? Please don’t! Be an awesome human for yourself. Learn to tell that man “NO”. Give yourself more consideration than he ever gave you.

    • Awesome ex wife indeed.

      What these fw’s want is an ex wife who stays devoted to them, despite being kicked in the teeth by a crazed mule. So they can come back for attention and extra sex when they are sad and whore isn’t as exciting as she used to be. They need that triangle.

      As CL says “a good chump is hard to find”.

  • ” I feel like my mental and emotional well-being have largely recovered and I’m ready to move forward with conviction”.

    Sorry, Never, you’re not even close. Your well-being starts when you go no contact. It won’t feel like it at first, but that will mark the beginning of being honest with yourself. He still lives in “your house”? You have sex because he whines?

    Do you have your support system in place so that you can proceed with integrity? That is what is needed to move forward.

    • This man sounds like the quintessential cake eater and it’s 100% working for him. He wants to have whatever he wants, whenever he wants it, and know how to play her heartstrings for his requests to seem reasonable.

      If you are living together and sleeping with him, are you still cooking meals for him, doing laundry for him, and cleaning up after him? Close down the free cake and kibble cafe. Lay down some chore boundaries, ask for a post nup, move half the money into your own account, and see if he starts singing a different tune.

      Can I also guess, Never-broken-up, that maybe you are actually more worried that you will turn out like your father rather than your husband? I get that. Leaving is scary and lonely and sad. It will hurt you waaaaay more that it hurts him.

  • No you can’t maintain some semblance of a happy family after your marriage was broken up due to your spouse’s cheating. So let that go. Your immediate family is you and your children at this point and no longer includes FW. Stop having sex with him- you could be putting yourself physically at risk from STDs just as you’re putting yourself emotionally at risk from continuing to be physically intimate with him. Sleep in a different room until you live in separate homes. Forget about trying to be friends with someone who betrayed you and ruined your marriage. You’re going to be in enough pain starting a new life- you don’t need to take on his pain, as well.

    • Agree.
      Never, Your spouse IS already self destructive.
      He already is destructive to your relationship.
      If you have kids, he already has destroyed his own ability to have integrity with them.

  • This is my first comment here. I am a chump.

    So he feels sad, and he is expecting you to help him manage his feelings.

    He is essentially coercing you into having sex you don’t want.

    Aside from his behaviour during his affair, how loving is sexual coercion to his already distraught wife?

    It is the opposite of kind. He remains selfish and all about him. It is sexual abuse.

    You deserve better.

    My STBXH was a professional sexual corecion-er. Seventeen years of it. I am still working on recovering from that trauma, as well as the affair he had for 2 years.

    He constantly (and I mean 100% of the time) pushed my sexual boundaries. At least twice a week he would whine or ask ask ask ask ask until i gave in. If I said no, the silent treatment or huffs and eye rolls, or would intentionally sabotage my household routine. It was all about him.

    His ultimate ‘eff you’ to me was his affair. I discovered it at year 17.

    I stayed 4 more years, and the boundary pushing habit of his covertly ramped up. I left.

    My hope for you is to manage *your* needs and well being. He’s an adult and responsible for managing his feelings. Please refuse his abuse if you can safely.

    • Welcome to CN, WifeName. Of course, I’m sorry you’re one of us! But we get it. Come find us on the CL subreddit if you want to discuss further/find more support. And you are very mighty for posting here today!

      My STBX also was the mistress of sad-sausage passive aggression when it came to sex (we are both women). The last couple of years, before D-Day #2, I was kind of relieved when she stopped pushing that boundary, and sometimes she didn’t even take me up in it when I offered. I felt really bad about my low libido for a while, attributing it to things like my premature menopause (I’m a cancer survivor), etc.

      Guess what? It turns out that being married to a FW is the biggest turn-off! Really, our marriage died after D-Day #1 in 2004, even though STBX did everything “right” at that time, appearing to have genuine rather than Genuine Imitation Naugahyde remorse. And though I really think she did not sleep with anyone else for 14 years between her two “hot” affairs, she was still doing what I now call “affair lite” things like having intense friendships with people she was attracted to, ramming my boundaries, etc.

      I didn’t always believe in the limbic system (second brain, subconscious, whatever you want to call it), but I sure as hell do now. That helps to explain why my libido dropped even though I was still consciously invested.

      Finally, please Google and read “The Secret Sexual Basement” by Omar Minwalla. It really explains the unique trauma that we chumps have endured.

      All best to you and hugs!

      • Thanks, Lez. I appreciate it.

        I’ve perused this forum for years, and gleaned some advice. Some wise people here, certainly.

        As mentioned, I left him almost 6 months ago. And as vehemently he said he wanted to reconcile (because me leaving after 4 years came out of left field to him), I am trusting my gut with suspicions that he’s already found another or others.

        The part of me that was devoted to him and my vows is obviously hurt. But I think I have reached a Tuesday…not THE Tuesday, but one of many that will get me to meh. Because I am closer to it every day.

        I have read The Body Keeps the Score so I am with you in the limbic theory and vagal nerve healing. Last week, I finished LACGAL, and I wish I had read it 4 years ago. So empowering.

        And the subreddit, how do I join? Ive been on Reddit for years and I would love to participate.

        • Opena Reddit account, and go to r/ChumpLadyNation

          You’ll be asked to apply to the moderators. You can let them know I sent you.

          See you there!

    • Ah, HisAPNameIsSimilarToHisWife,
      Even after all of my post-divorce decades, your description of ‘whine or ask ask ask ask ask until i gave in.’, kick-started an ancient trauma. At the tender age of 22, after 2 children and a 5- year marriage to my sociopathic (actual diagnosis by a well-regarded psychiatrist who interviewed us both), Brando wannabe, his very touch began to, literally, nauseate me. Not long before ‘Brando’s’ final DD outrage, his body above me finally became so loathsome that I pushed him off with every ounce of strength in my sturdy legs and arms. After he’d rolled off the bed and tumbled onto the floor (no longer erect), he began to appreciate the depth of my hatred. It seems almost incomprehensible to me now, HisAPNameIsSimilarToHisWife, that I was every connected to such a terrible man, let alone in his bed. URG!

      • Yes, CC, I honestly do not understand how our former spouses felt entitled….oops, there it is!
        Entitled. Their entire personality was hinged on entitlement.

        Marital coercion is a thing, a much bigger thing than wives like to share. It’s humiliating and damaging and a plethora of trauma.

        Just another layer to the shit sandwich.

  • Never,

    A soon-to-be-ex that you know to have poor coping skills and likely to be self-destructive forward is no investment. You’re in a comfort zone now trying not to rock the boat because it doesn’t feel good. Being gentle isn’t going to accomplish your goal of divorcing a cheater with no motivation to change.

    Be gentle with nice people that treat you in-kind. Be proactive and determined to protect yourself from those that deceive you with cheating while hanging around looking for status-quo. You don’t need to be an “awesome ex-wife” to this man. Be an awesome friend to yourself and those that treat you well!

    I’m sorry you lost your father and that your husband chose to dump on you during that time. Wishing you all the best!

  • One of my biggest mistakes in life was living through a ghastly state of non-divorce and telling myself it was a marriage. You seem ahead of me in this regard.

    Even though I never had the courage to declare that my boundaries had been breached enough to declare DEAL BREAKER and end it, I was able to get to a place in my brain that accepted that even though I asked to stay together, the resulting arrangement we had was not acceptable to me. (I was ready to move out when God intervened and took him from Earth).

    A thousand times I have thought about how I would have preferred my former spouse to have ended our marriage …clearly, respectfully and with integrity. If I were to adapt what I wish he had said to your circumstances. it would sound something like this:

    “Husband, I recognize that I willingly stayed in this marriage after learning of your betrayal but as I have lived it, I have come to recognize that what was left is fractured beyond repair and I have decided to exit from this marriage. My decision is final. I (or you) will be leaving asap and papers are being drawn up by my lawyer” or something like that.

    When a person betrays, the marriage is destroyed and any remaining in it requires a significant amount of healing that might be impossible. You dont have to feel guilty that the healing needed in yours didnt happen – you didnt do the destroying.

    And like CL said, he is not your dad.

  • Respect that it a VERY BIG DEAL that you have lost your dad and that this is a profound loss that greatly impacts you right now. I am very very sorry for your loss and that it came at this time. This is a whopper. My DDay was OCT 2017 and my mother died earlier this year. She and I had been estranged for years (good decision made to protect me) and it still has been like being in a meteor storm on the Jupiter 2.

    I hope you will consider not allowing this man to have sex with you anymore. Giving in = retraumatizing yourself. I felt sad reading that. I encourage and support you to freeze that creep out and from now
    on be authentic when you say YES and when you say NO….❤️

    The compound grief of your marriage and the loss of your dad can create paralyzing inertia….call the people you love and trust to help you. The cavalry doesn’t read your mind; you have to call them to come help you. Reading here every day helped me to break the spell and my own paralytic inertia.

    Build a great pit crew with a great lawyer, a great therapist, family and friends you love and trust. Add Chump Lady and maybe some anti-depressants. Don’t drink …that’s a major depressant that will add to the problem.

    I’m sorry we all had to meet this way but glad to have you here.

    Welcome to the life boat.


    • PS…

      I only talk to Mr. X (aka Benedict “OJ” Madoff) if I absolutely have to.
      (Child, business, money).

      I channel Lt. Joe Kenda whenever I have to speak to him. That means I am cold-as-ice polite. Minimal words. Emotions parked outside. Which takes a lot of practice which is an ongoing thing.

      That’s what makes me an awesome ex wife.

      I don’t even like to refer to myself as a wife because he was a fraudulent husband.

      If I am an ex-anything, I am an EX-TARGET.

      • Velvet Hammer, I learn something helpful from your posts every day…. This:

        “ I don’t even like to refer to myself as a wife because he was a fraudulent husband.

        If I am an ex-anything, I am an EX-TARGET.”

        Mic drop

      • “If I am an ex-anything, I am an EX-TARGET.”
        Great way to reframe this VH.
        I’m happy for you that your divorce is final! You’ve been posting since before I came on here. It has helped me see how cunning and skilled these FW are.
        My XH fooled me entirely for 6 years then fooled me again with false remorse and reconciliation for another 7 years. Then another unhappy 9 years went by just trying to exist. I took the responsibility to make our marriage better and so on and so forth.

        Finally I came across CL and I could recognize the dynamic: Cheater cons Chump.

    • Good of you to mention the drinking, VH. Fortunately, I have not been tempted to drink a lot since D-Day #2. But early on, I noticed that I felt A LOT better after having a drink -like drinking from the River of Lethe, or Forgetfulness – and it scared me. So I drank even less, and now am doing so only very rarely, to pair with a special meal.

      Maybe eventually I’ll get back to place when I can enjoy drinking a little more often just for fun. But I cut caffeine out of my life many years ago and haven’t missed it; I suspect alcohol might feel the same.

      All best to you!

      • Well, alcohol is an ether-like substance, a sedative hypnotic drug, for everyone, and it works or else no one would drink it. It is also a depressant, the last thing any of us need.

        Physical wounds can heal if we take pain medication; emotional wounds can’t. They’ll just wait on a shelf until they have a chance to come up, and if I anesthetize myself with alcohol they never will. People can and do anesthetize themselves for their entire lives and I didn’t want to do that.

        C2 H5 OH (chemical makeup) is what any alcohol is. I don’t want that in my body anymore. I don’t want to be under the influence and mind-altered, even for a moment. I need to be awake and aware and alert as I can be. I sure as heck do not need any help feeling depressed!

        But I’m keeping my coffee and tea!



        • All true. Caffeine obviously is a stimulant, but I got too sensitive to it after my treatments. I can still enjoy some lovely herbal tea, though! ???? ????

          I recently went to visit an old family friend who owns the Spice Merchant in Wichita, KS, which has an entire tea room and the most amazing loose-leaf teas. Which goes to show that great tea can be found in any American city!

  • I noticed you called your husband a “dead weight”. You’ve also said in so many words he’s emotionally fragile. I would gather you are being conned by a cheating, lazy bum that needs someone to be the responsible adult in his pathetic life. I wouldn’t worry about him falling apart if you kick his ass to the curb. At first he’ll play the “I’m going to kill myself if you leave me” but if you stick to your guns (and I really hope you do) you will see another side. The nasty, vicious side. We have one life and you are only 43, please get rid of this “dead weight” and move on.

    • Oh and one more thing…the demand for sex is all about control not because he can’t sleep or whatever other stupid reason he may use. It worries me that you give in to him, please separate from this man asap. You need to figure out why you avoid confrontation and sticking up for yourself at all costs.

      • In my state the marriage would not have been “irretrievable broken” if I had still been living with him and having sex with him. Talk with an attorney about your state laws.
        Definitely get tested and stop sexual relations with him. Some STDs have no obvious symptoms.

  • Never, I’ve lived through enough Chumpland and watched other chumps here in CN and on other support groups in the past that I bristled immediately while reading your post. I even spoke to my phone out loud:

    “I believe him when he says he’s given up the OW”
    I don’t.

    “…and really wants to work on our relationship.”
    I don’t believe that either.

    If you believe either of those things then come closer; I have a bridge to sell you. Then after I give you the ownership papers to the bridge (written in ballpoint pen on a restaurant napkin and just as sincere as a Chester’s promises), I’ll gently encourage you to see a doctor and get checked for STDs. And continue to get checked every single week you live and sleep with this untrustworthy man. After awhile, you’re going to get mighty tired of having your blood sucked dry both metaphorically and literally.

    Take it from someone who believed the FW she lived with when he assured her that there was no one else at the moment. I really believed in that bridge he sold me. My doctor told me otherwise and I went on medication for the STD he gave me immediately.

    Don’t gamble with your health. If you continue to let him have access to you then you need to get tested…. continually.

    Get the ball rolling. Follow the steps. No more sex. Separate rooms. Then separate places. Then, as his presence sounds absolutely like an oppressive and overwhelming dead weight in your life, plan out your boundary and/or no contact plan as much as possible.

    If you are no able to do this for yourself then let your lawyer advocate for you. My lawyer helped me out tremendously. Everytime I suggested something to put in the divorce agreement because I wanted to be fair and nice and accommodating to the FW, she would stop me, remind me of all his affairs, and tell me very plainly that what I wanted to put into writing favored him but put me at a tremendous disadvantage.

    Even while divorcing my FW, I was still trying to defer to him as much as possible. Thank goodness I had a lawyer who wouldn’t permit that codependent nonsense from me.

    Have someone in your corner who objectively ensures that you are taking care of yourself during the divorce process because it’s not going to be you.

  • It broke your dad who did not cheat. Right now you are grieving the loss of your father and you are vulnerable.

    Cheaters take every advantage of your vulnerability. You are not divorcing a respectful loving partner, your leaving a cheater who has the capability to lie, expose you to STDS, and expects sex twice a week with zero consequences.

    What else have you never done before? Protecting yourself financially needs to be a priority. Do not put any money in a joint account. See an attorney.
    Cheating is just the tip of the iceberg. He’s already left the relationship. If you received any type of inheritance place it in your name only. Get copies of all financial documents and put them in a safe place. Get a credit reports.

  • (((NBU)))

    I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through—and what you’re still going through.

    You are in the bargaining stage of grief. Anything good or healthy about that relationship is long over. That horse is dead: dismount.

    Wishing you strength for the journey of healing that lies ahead.

  • This letter is frightening. I’m very sorry to say that, Never, but you need some help to get free. Your “mental and emotional well-being” have NOT “largely recovered.” He is still manipulating you — very successfully — and you are co-signing his entire agenda.

    You have convinced yourself that you owe something to a cheater! — sex, kindness, the veneer of an intact family. Why are you providing these things for someone who torpedo’d your life?

    Your actions will do nothing for his “coping skills.” If he is truly anxious, and that’s a big IF, then he will have to find a way to address his anxiety that doesn’t involve sex with you — just like the rest of the known world. You are setting yourself on fire to keep him warm. You have to get to the bottom of YOUR need to do that, in order to get free.

    • “You are setting yourself on fire to keep him warm.”

      THIS. Never, please keep this as a mental image because what you are still doing for this man should scare you. Do not worry about helping the person who would sooner destroy you to keep himself seemingly well (they can’t anyway, they are black holes and they will take all they can from you until you are tapped out), but worry first and foremost about helping yourself. Get counseling (legal and psychological), hold your cards close, and save yourself from this sinking ship. Once you gain some distance and perspective, you can focus on what you still want to give to this person. My guess is that with some time and space, you will see how little you still owe him. Please, PLEASE protect yourself.

  • Tall one, I’m so sorry. I too stuck around in my marriage too long after DDay, lost my Dad who I adored in the middle of it all, and had never broken up with anyone. My ex ended up bringing one of his APs over from overseas to live with him before he suddenly left me and the kids in the middle of wreckonciliation with a text. Only then, when I felt relief mixed in with grief and anger (and survival mode and single parenting which was nothing new), did I realize what a deal breaker his infidelity has been for me.

    We’re nice people. We believe in marriage and loyalty and giving. This experience goes beyond our ability to conceptualize (who would blow up a family? They must be sex addicts, depressed, just made a mistake, etc because no one would be so cruel by choice, right?)

    No, they’re different from us. More selfish, less careful with important things like other peoples’ hearts, they don’t bond like we do. It takes a while to get to the point where we realize giving until it hurts doesn’t make people love us. We deserve so much better in a relationship. (Even if that relationship is with ourselves or friends and we never date again after the divorce).

    Have you heard of Kristen Neff and self compassion? Check out her self compassion break on (Everybody, do it. There’s a 5 minute recorded “self compassion break.” It’s good). Give yourself the love youre giving to him. I learned long after my divorce that boundaries aren’t about the other person at all. They are about what behavior is acceptable to us. We set them. We aren’t responsible for how they are received. It’s important work to do. (Anyone with teenagers knows how important it is to set boundaries and gently abide by them). You can be gentle AND preserve your own boundaries. You matter too. This is your one precious life. Spend it with others who deserve your goodness. You’ll get there. I’m rooting for you that you get there soon.

    • “No, they’re different from us. More selfish, less careful with important things like other peoples’ hearts, they don’t bond like we do. It takes a while to get to the point where we realize giving until it hurts doesn’t make people love us.”

      Right, and even worse, with disordered people it only makes us a target for abuse. Being a person with a giving nature is appreciated by those who are well intentioned, but merely used strategically by those who are not. He already proved he doesn’t appreciate it by cheating, so we know which camp he’s in.

    • Hi Getting There,

      I hate to inform you, but Neff cheated on her husband and wrote about it in her book. The book had some good things to offer.

      There seems to be an epidemic of pscyhospiritual writers who cheat and write books on being human. One time cheating has a possibilty of forgiveness, if there is no double life. Double life people should not be writing books about anything. They never passed their tests. And their flowery, kismet confessionals are just epic money making pity plays.

      “Cheryl Strayed and killed an innocent horse”, “Elizabeth snows the globe Gilbert”.

      Decent folks too often equate someone admitting they did wrong with growth and a will to do better. Nope.

      With these chics, admitting flaws and shame is a ferriss wheel of manipulation and a masterful way to siphon bottomless attention, support and cash from regular people trying earnestly and honestly trying to find ways to accept themselves.

      • Getting There,

        You’re post was filled with empathy and wisdom.

        I only mentioned Neff’s cheating in case Never Borken Up or anyone here wanted to take that into consideration.

  • If you are giving in to your cheating husband’s weak-ass ploys for sex (can’t sleep, needs to manage his anxiety) and considering the ways in which you will continue to cater to him after divorce as an “awesome ex wife” then I’m sorry but you have not “recovered [your] mental and emotional well-being” and you are not “ready to move forward with conviction.”

    First things first: Stop having sex with him. (And if you are still sleeping in the same room and bed with him, stop doing that, too.) You will never recover your mental and emotional well-being and be ready to move forward (with our without conviction) while you are still sleeping with him.

    Second things next: Get yourself a lawyer and make sure you do exactly as the lawyer advises you to do. You are far too accommodating to your cheater. The fact that you are reassuring him that you will continue looking out for him after marriage means so you need someone on your side who will look out for your best interests because you are currently overly invested the cheater’s future and too little invested in your own.

    It would also be useful for you (but less imperative than hiring a lawyer) to find a therapist who can help you process the grief you feel at the loss of your father and the way it is affecting your dealings with your cheater. The therapist can also help you understand why you are unable to act on your conviction, and, most importantly, provide you with an education on healthy boundaries and how to set them. (Chump Nation is also a great resource on healthy boundary setting!)

    Lots of us here were once overly invested and too accommodating to our cheaters, but we successfully unchumped ourselves and will tell you that your life will be so much better without your “dead weight.”

    • She should tell him to go masturbate and not use her as a human Xanax

      Sex is about intimacy, and the thought of giving in to a cheater that way is horrible

    • It might be worth mentioning that some states will not permit divorce until a period of true separation has happened. In my case, it was a full year. I was allowed to be separated while both of us lived in the same home. However, Sleeping with the FW is not considered separation. Every day you sleep with FW, is a day longer you have to wait to be free.

  • If you’re going to untangle a skein of fuckeduppedness, please seek a licensed counselor and talk about the baggage you have around your father. Please know that you were not responsible for your father‘s depression; he had it long before you showed up. (you are also not responsible for making your husband a narcissist, or whatever his personality disorder is. Ask a therapist about how someone develops his kind of psychological issues.) You were also not responsible for your parents divorce, or your mother’s actions. Losing a parent is a big deal, and it is stressful. instead of taking care of yourself, do you still think it’s your job to take care of a husband who is “dead weight”? Aside from breaking up with his girlfriend, in the words of Janet Jackson, what has he done for you lately?
    Take a hard look at what you believe, and what you believe you deserve.
    I am also sorry for the loss of your father. But you don’t have to take care of your father anymore vicariously through your husband. It’s OK just to take care of yourself.

  • I hadn’t ever broken up with anyone either. Ex and I were together 25 years.
    My best move, In hindsight, was kicking him out immediately. I needed the space to find me.
    I allowed way too much contact then, and I was hurt over and over until I finally went no contact. Filed for the divorce and grieved.
    It was very hard, and hugely important.

    2 years later ex and I are on fairly good long distance terms. My oldest went to live in house house for university (in a suite). Youngest and I love 8 hours away.

    I’m happy and independent and getting a puppy. I have gotten to meh and see I was carrying the weight of our marriage for YEARS.

    You are still in chains. Call the lawyer today.

    Hugs – you are delaying your freedom. Don’t miss out on any more life.

  • With all due respect, this awesome ex-wife (me) has nothing to do with her ex. Like Never-Broken-Up, I had illusions that we would come out with some ongoing connection. He had documented physical and mental health issues that concerned me, and I was hoping he’d do OK through it.

    Ah, no. The mental health issues flared to the point that they scared his attorney enough to call mine for advice on what to do at times. They had known each other for decades. Mine felt very uncomfortable with that breach of attorney-client privilege and mostly didn’t charge me for those calls but shared with me the basics of what my ex was telling his attorney. It ultimately tipped the case though when his began increasingly taking my side against what he called “my worst client ever.” So we got it settled out of court. There were entire sections of what my ex wrote in the agreement that both attorneys said were useless and unenforceable, but we just left them. The two attorneys were over-the-top frustrated, and I was tired and broke.

    I don’t know how my ex did when it was finalized because his attorney mostly clammed up in closeout and then tragically died of COVID after their part of closeout was over. There were signs in closeout that my ex continued to have significant mental health issues, but I had no doubt that I had to let that go by then.

    Ultimately I had to go on with my life, and he had to go on with his life. Period.

  • Never-

    If you’re like most chumps here, you’ve been doing the heavy lifting in the marriage for decades, so you don’t really *know* how your husband will react when he has to fend for himself. He may cope poorly, or he may rise to the occasion. Or he may monkey-branch to a replacement; I mean, for all you know the replacement is already in place! Don’t put your life on hold out of the fear that he *may* experience some turbulence during the transition. I think it’s admirable that you want to be “gentle”: be gentle by encouraging him to set up a support system now (counseling, friends, family).

    Divorce is difficult under the best of circumstances, but you *can* choose to make it “gentler” if not “gentle”. You can choose to not respond to insults (just don’t answer). You can choose to let your anger cool before answering (let your email sit overnight and reread before sending). You can choose to not escalate (don’t point out that he did worse to you last month). You can choose the less confrontational option (instead of serving him at work, give him a heads up and send through the mail). You have considerable latitude to disengage and de-escalate, which reduces acrimony and lets both of you start the process of reframing your lives without each other.

    In the long run, he is not your responsibility, but I understand that it takes time to change your mindset. In the interim, you choose to avoid needless conflict as you move towards separation and divorce. The truth is that the ultimate outcome (division of assets and determination of custody) will be the same no matter what, so if foregoing acts of revenge (not outing him on Facebook) makes you feel better about yourself, by all means do it. Just keep in mind that you’re doing this for you: don’t expect him to recognize or acknowledge what you’re doing, and don’t be surprised when he doesn’t reciprocate.

    • ETA: the sex thing is total BS. Insomnia can and is addressed in many ways that don’t involve holding someone else’s body hostage. Ick.

      • Consider that “Never” is not being honest with herself about the sex – she may still want what she sees as an intimate connection, when in reality he’s using her to masturbate and control.

        Sorry Never – it is REALLY HARD to divorce, to untangle a shared life, to forge a new future that you didn’t choose. There is nothing fair about it. He made the unilateral decision – without consulting you – to end the marriage by betraying it, but you have to do the hard work of finalizing it by divorcing. It’s great to feel needed but you need yourself more than he needs you. You have to be awesome for yourself, not for him. Don’t define yourself as an ex-wife, define yourself as [yourname]. You are more than a relationship.

  • And listen: do NOT assume his weepy reaction will last. My XW sobbed, pleaded, sniffled, pouted, told me she loved me (but simply couldn’t stop her affair)…. and once I actually filed? She hired the nastiest lawyer she could find and went totally psycho on me.

    That “poor me” mask was promptly whipped off and a raging, vindictive hell beast took over. I don’t like to sound paranoid or over generalize, but beware: these people are NOT what they seem, and will in most cases have zero qualms about destroying you once they face consequences. My XW was the sweetest, most gentle soul (it’s why I married her) and the stranger who took her place frankly scared the shit out of me. Protect yourself.

    • I think there are two types–the hell beast you describe and the absolutely spineless slug who won’t do a thing to move the process along.

      Hell beasts are good at imitating slugs when they think delay and helplessness will give them the advantage. Slugs are not usually good at imitating hell beasts.

      Unfortunately, you have to poke the critter with the sharp stick of divorce to find out for sure if you have a true slug or a hell beast in the guise of a slug.

      I was married to a hell beast too!

      • Ugh, “hell beast imitating a slug” sounds like my boyfriend’s ex wife. And her attacks always seemed misdirected, but lord were they low and nasty (I think at one point very early on in the process he said she was threatening to claim rape if he didn’t just give her what she wanted). When she didn’t get what she wanted, she delayed the divorce (with the help of COVID) while whining “oh why won’t he let me go?” They’re insane. Protect yourself. Shields up, keep moving forward.

  • never,

    i’m sorry. you’re a nice person and you’re in a dysfunctional marriage. look at the parameters of a healthy relationship then look at the parameters of an unhealthy relationship on the same website.

    compare and contrast with your relationship in it’s present form. i think it highly unlikely that you will have a healthy relationship with you X and that’s okay. it’s not your responsibility. you are, however, responsible for your own happiness and security. i don’t know if you have kids but ask yourself this: would you be happy if your child was involved in a similar relationship?

    please see a therapist and practice setting boundaries in the therapist’s office. get mad. repeat “fuck that guy” at every opportunity. because he’s not a good person and you know it.

  • Four leaf, I laughed at your autocorrect at the end of your post. The name listed on my contacts for my cheating ex is “ Chester the cheater boy”. I had been googling like mad when I finally saw the light of day, “ cheaters”, and my phone frustratingly always autocorrected me to “ chesters”, thus I made it his official title, haha!
    As far as your story goes, Never, it made me feel sad to read it. I worked in an ICU in Florida for 10 years back in the day. A dear dear fellow nurse I worked with was a patient in that same unit twice 2-3 years before I started working there, for attempted suicide. Her slime ball ex left their 29 year marriage to marry his secretary and she was completely unearthed by that. She was an outstanding human in so many ways, but she never got past that betrayal. The ex would come by weekly to “ fix things” in the home he deserted her from and would continue to sleep with her, so she always held out hope that he loved her still and she stayed in limbo. I was a young naive gal and she was 25 years my senior at the time, I didn’t fully understand till now the harm he was doing to her, leaving her as a half alive zombie, never having the chance to create a better life for herself. She’s gone now, but it still haunts me and makes me so angry. She deserved a life. I wish I had known back then how to help her escape that terrible situation, or at least attempt to intervene, but we chumps can help you now.
    You don’t owe that needy, whiney bum one other chip of life from your soul. I also had never broken up with anyone and I never had an enemy in my entire life, I was always the peacemaker. That kind of personality gets taken advantage of by the unscrupulous manipulators on this planet.
    It will not be a fun journey and it will hurt for a long time, but without a doubt, you need to stop sleeping with this man for starters ( he sleeps with others, no matter what he portends) and protect yourself emotionally and physically from his control and abuse. He does NOT have your best interest in mind!
    Sorry for the loss of your dad and sorry too that he wasn’t able to reset his life after the hurt. Don’t make that your legacy, change the narrative in your own life. Be the one that has your own back because you fully know you deserve more than you received. Will be pulling for you, you’ll be getting out 20 years before I made it out, so good for you. Sorry you’re in the club no one seeks membership too, but you’ve got this 100%!

  • Never, omg really! Be a good ex wife to yourself. Pack all his shit, hand him divorce papers and tell, not ask, him to get out. When he starts to whine and cry. Put on headphones, real headphones. Never, believe them. Never trust them. Never take care of their feelings. Never put yourself second. Never hesitate to protect your feelings. Bet you never learned how to practice self care, either. Time for many first. We got you girl, go kick ass

  • This is SO important. I should have left a lot sooner than I did but I too was waiting for “permission” to leave. I was waiting for some sort of EVENT that could not be debated, just unequivocally a reason to leave.

    Chump Lady taught me the very most important lesson – I don’t need to prove a reason to leave – “Is this relationship acceptable to you?” is the only question you need to ask yourself. If the answer is “No” then leave.

    I’ll also give you kudos for wanting to leave nicely. That’s the one thing the cheaters never consider. They don’t care about being responsible with other people’s hearts. So kudos to you for that and make sure you never lose that characteristic 🙂

  • “Even while divorcing my FW, I was still trying to defer to him as much as possible. Thank goodness I had a lawyer who wouldn’t permit that codependent nonsense from me.”

    Mine did the same thing. One time when I told him of my fw’s scheme for the settlement, he said if you want to do that you need to get a different lawyer, I won’t go along with that.

    After that, I told the lawyer to take charge and get me as much as he could. Fw called me once to try and threaten me, I said “knock yourself out big boy” and hung up on him.

    He called a bit later to apologize, I said “ok, good bye” and hung up on him.

    • Yes, I did the same in an early appointment, and my attorney strongly reacted and told me that being nice to a terrorist wasn’t something that he recommended as my attorney. I bust up laughing at that picture, and he laughed too. OK, I got the message. He added that I needed to be legal and fair in the divorce, not necessarily nice. Afterwards, I could truly be nice again to whoever deserved that in my life, but probably not my STBX. I laughed again.

      I’m sure my ex wondered where his differential wife went during the divorce, but it had to be. That’s why I truly needed an attorney and did not go pro se like my ex wanted me to.

  • Never, your denial and fear and trauma bonds are holding you back. We understand. Many of us have been there in limbo land— it is excruciating. It almost killed me.

    Your future self will thank you if you do what everyone above is suggesting and you will not want to do it (no contact and divorce) but do it anyway.

    Get free of this abusive fucker and spend a long time getting to know yourself and practicing setting and holding boundaries. Learn to let go of trying to control how anyone else thinks and feels.

    Make decisions YOU like and that generate good feelings in YOU. Invest in YOU—you’ll never regret these actions.

  • “Lesson #101 — if you enforce a boundary, you have to let go of how it is received.” Seriously tho CL…it’s Ted Talk time on this! I wish I’d figured this gem out earlier in life. Of course, women have been labeled bitches historically for doing just this, but I’d much rather take that label than live one more second being trampled upon.

    The female obsession with “nice” is frustrating. Or maybe it’s just a general societal thing. Better to be good than nice. Good ends a toxic relationship with dignity. In any event, it’s not nice to yourself to stay tethered to a cheating man-baby who whines for sex. It’s fucking degrading and a little date-rapey, IMO.

    • NotANiceChump

      BITCH –

      Being In Total Control of Herself

      This is the new narrative on that one 🙂

      Halloween will soon be upon us so I get to have fun practice much to the chagrin of those who would prefer I be a doormat 🙂

    • A corollary to that is: only you can enforce your boundary. You can’t establish a boundary by telling someone else what to do. It doesn’t work, and it gives the other person too much power.

      For instance, my XW started using our shared kids’ calendar as a weapon (labeling events like “no dinner with XW because IG refuses reasonable requests”. Rather than telling her “don’t do that” or trying to explain why such event titles were not appropriate, I made my own calendar. I transfer events over from the “shared” calendar every once in a while, but I don’t have it sitting in front of me all the time. In the end, XW gave up on the editorializing because it didn’t work.

    • “The female obsession with “nice” is frustrating. Or maybe it’s just a general societal thing. Better to be good than nice. Good ends a toxic relationship with dignity. In any event, it’s not nice to yourself to stay tethered to a cheating man-baby who whines for sex. It’s fucking degrading and a little date-rapey, IMO.”

      Quoted for truth.

  • Ditch this cheater cheater immediately and stop trying to fix his anxiety /sleeplessness/horny dick! You have no boundaries. Tell him to leave. I am sorry for the loss of your Dad. This guy isn’t your Dad.

  • Never, this is no way to live. Your true freedom and true healing come from no contact and getting the fuck out of that house. You’re in one giant mindfuck blender right now and it’s time to dump that shit smoothie in the garbage and/or set it on fire.

    Lawyer up and get an STD check. You got this.

  • Many EXs do not do well after their chump leaves. In fact, this is probably the norm.

    One of the reasons you are leaving is because you are in a relationship where much of the responsibility falls to you–the responsibility for yourself, for your EX (maybe his mental health, maybe his fiscal stability, maybe his physical support, maybe seven other things), and the responsibility for sustaining the relationship despite all the damage your EX does to it (like cheating).

    Leaving the relationship means leaving most of these responsibilities behind. You can be kind as you do it, but kindness does not mean remaining his support system (or sex toy).

    I made sure my EX had medical and dental insurance for the first five years after we split. Using it was his responsibility. Mostly, he didn’t. And, yes, he blames me for his health problems. But he blames his dad for his crooked teeth (even though his dad offered in multiple decades to cover braces). Blaming is his go-to strategy. Showing up for doctor’s appointments or taking care of his own physical needs is not his strategy. Your kindness should enable him to move along on his own journey, as you are moving along (in a different direction) on yours. You will not be accompanying him on the journey any longer.

    Your husband will delay and find things he needs you to do for exactly as long as you continue to do them. He will not stop asking for sex or money or help or reassurance or lunch. Why should he?

    It sounds like you have trouble being the “bad guy,” so get help with this. Have your lawyer work up the timeline for him to move out, get his own bank account, change the car insurance into your name, etc. Get a friend to be at the house with you on the day he is required to move out. Make sure they know their job is to keep the process moving, protect you, and generally be the enforcer. Get a therapist to help you set boundaries and strategies for maintaining them.

    Teenagers learn to break up by talking to their friends or parents. Talk to your friends or adult supporters. As CL says, this is a skill you can learn!

    • This is fantastic advice and great insights. Thanks for sharing. If the letter writer can’t quickly get out of the painful trap of not wanting to be the “bad guy,” then she should work on reframing divorce and no-contact as a kindness. This relationship is toxic and a toxic relationship is bad for all parties–him and her. Just because he’s getting some of what he wants doesn’t mean this is a positive thing for him. She’s enabling him to be co-dependent and perpetually irresponsible–both shitty attributes. Ending it and creating space between them is a universal kindness.

  • To what Eilony has written I would add a question:

    Have you read LACGAL?

    Reading that is what catapulted me into a new direction because what I saw about MY behavior.

    How I was not wanting to be the “bad guy” – how my role as a noble martyr was being worked out – I didn’t like seeing that about ME let alone seeing his stuff…

    After reading it I knew I had my own work cut out for ME.

    I found CL and CN AFTER reading that book.

    I may be acting like a ‘bad guy’ via going NC but I know I am essentially being a ‘good woman’ to ME and MY CHILDREN and MY FRIENDS.

    ‘Someone’ has demonstrate changing the narrative and it might as well be me – I have just channeled my martyrdom into a new direction 🙂

  • Dear Never-Broken-Up,
    dont’t worry about him, cheaters don’t break that easily.

    And you won’t break either, just do it.

  • Ahhh it looks like most of us chumps are people pleasers to the point where it bites us in the ass. I like Never stayed and gave sex to keep the peace. I was losing my soul daily. I finally bit the bullet, found a house in a week, put a deposit down and then told him I’m leaving. He went back and forth between hoovering and rage. But I got out and regret I didnt do it sooner. Its the hardest thing I ever did but now I feel x100 stronger than ever

  • Yes it sucks to be the ‘bad guy’ even when you are not the bad guy.

    And if and when you enforce boundaries there will be push back. In short order your husband may get sick, have a breakdown, threaten suicide …

    Cheaters don’t care if YOU suffer the consequences of their actions, but heaven help if THEY do !

    Sides will be taken, some people blame us for ending a marriage, regardless of how much cheating abuse was inflicted on us

    A good therapist will help to walk you through a separation

  • NBU,

    Please don’t fixate on “not being the bad guy.” Your cheater holds that role by virtue of his actions. Try and think of yourself as the “badass cleanerupper.” He made this mess and you clean up the mess; but in doing so you build a life that works for you and doesn’t have him in it. And forget being an “awesome ex-wife” post-divorce – his needs and wants will no longer be your problem; if he can’t cope then f*ck him.

    You’ll have to make some difficult decisions and – no doubt – he will rail against some of the changes that you make, but be clear; this is about protecting yourself. It is not a popularity contest as far as your soon to be ex is concerned.

    Now go be a badass.


  • Never, get a copy of Why Does He Do That by Lundy Bancroft.
    Your husband is abusive. He uses his (mostly feigned) emotional fragility to get you to bend to his will and he is manipulating you, and very successfully at that. He will be just fine if you leave. He’s lining up your replacement, if he hasn’t already.

    People as vulnerable and fragile as you think he is don’t actually have the wherewithall to conduct affairs, because life is too challenging for them as it is. If you add sneaking around and constantly trying to keep their stories straight to their challenges, they will crack. No, he is certainly not your dad. My condolences for your loss, but please do not use your dad’s depression as an excuse for caretaking your STBX. He knows he can control you by making you feel sorry for him and making you feel guilty. It is 100% a control tactic, and a common one at that. Even if he was that fragile, it would still not be your problem. He fired you from the job of being his mommy when he cheated. Anyone who refuses to be a grown up is not relationship material and should be divorced for that alone, and if you add cheating to the mix, divorced swiftly and coldly with zero guilt on your part.

    Please stop letting him abuse you sexually. Move into a different room and tell him to fuck off if he whines. Why do you feel you have to be so damn nice to this asshole? You owe him nothing. You don’t have to be an awesome ex-wife, either. He is not your responsibility. Internalize that. You are not supposed to be his mommy and you are no longer his wife or his friend, and that’s entirely his fault.

    I suspect you need some therapy. Your dad’s depression seems to have left a mark on you and it’s keeping you stuck in guilt that is not at all appropriate in your situation. Your STBX is using that to keep you as an appliance. I know it may be gratifying to your battered self esteem (battered by him, don’t forget) to think he can’t live without you, but he can. If he gets depressed, there is treatment for that, and it’s his responsibility to get it. It’s time to stop sacrificing yourself on the altar of being nice.

  • Never-Broken Up, your post made me so sad because reminds me so much of my situation 2 years ago. (I am also 43). I was living with my ex still, and my decisions and behavior were a mask for how much I was hurting and how desperate I was to cling on to any sense of control in my life after I found out about the affairs. Despite sharing that he was in love with his AP, he still pursued me sexually multiple times a day. And like an old, comfortable habit I went along with it and some days, as crazy as it seems to be now, even enjoyed it. It seems incredulous to me now, looking back on it. I remember thinking it was at least one way to make me feel better physically (escape the acute pain/I was in pursuit of literally any pleasure to get me off the floor) and also try and control him somehow. Almost like, if he still is so attracted to me physically and “wants me”, then I can change the course of this. He will regret what he’s done, and he will beg to stay with me, and the control will swing back in my direction. She (AP) will never please him like I can. He will miss me and their relationship will go to shit bc they’ll never have the connection that we have, physically.

    Of course none of that happened and it was pathetic, self disrespecting chumping on steroids. What I see clearly now, in retrospect, is he was continuing to use and disrespect and manipulate and abuse and control me. As soon as he moved out and I got the freedom of mind & body to start to process what had gone on I felt so sick about all of my actions and the thought of ever sleeping or being even in face to face contact with him brought on immediate vomit. When you are in it, when you are living with someone who masks as a wounded, depressed husband who f’d up but is really “good” or “gentle” you don’t see it. Your head is all messed up and your paralysis is a symptom of that. But sleeping with someone who has no issue unapologetically abusing you (whether overtly or behind the scenes) is the epitome of self-loathing. I hated him and I hated myself even more for letting him fool me into believing that sex meant anything more than an escape or diversion or control tactic for him. GET YOUR CONTROL BACK. Tell him it is time to go. Don’t let him touch you — hug you, kiss you, sleep or sit anywhere near you, or certainly not have sex with you. Cheating on you and actively pursuing sex with you is monstrous behavior. You may not see that clearly until he leaves but when you do it will hit you like a freight train. Please love yourself, kick him out and focus on grieving your dad separate from this. You seem to be clinging to some sense of keeping control of your situation and that is understandable — and some of us have painfully been there – but it will do so much more damage to you in the long run. Hugs xx

  • The only time “nice” entered in to my divorce was when he texted me: “NICE – you hired a lawyer.”

    I have empathy for how you’re feeling, but you need to set that aside right now and champion your inner warrior princess. This guy did not put his concern for you as a person, as a woman, as a wife before fucking strange people. It is that simple, don’t try to put lipstick on a pig.

    And, you’re still “servicing” him in the bedroom because of HIS anxieties? Sweet Jesus… please tell me you are working with a therapist because I think you’re need to be nice is off the charts on this one… you deserve better and I want so much for you to see that too. A good first boundary to establish would be having him move out OR you move out.

    I found that NO CONTACT makes it much easier to set and keep boundaries.

  • Okay, take 2 (i hate my phone). If you’re like me, Never and find it difficult to set a boundary with someone, and just the thought of hurting or disappointing someone seems almost physically painful, it might be beneficial (once you’ve ditched the creep) to take a good hard look at your FOO. Did you have parents that encroached on your personal boundaries, either overtly or through passive-agressive guilt tactics and trained you to be a people pleaser that immediately feels guilty if you put yourself first? If your mom cheated, that could be an indicator that she had some entitlement/narcissistic tendencies that meant she didn’t really see you as your own person but rather an extension of herself that was just there to enable her happiness/maintain her life for her while she indulged in whatever made her feel better. Even though neither of my parents had a problem with alcohol, I have found the Adult Children of Alcoholics literature to be useful in my situation, as many ACOA have boundary, self-esteem, self-identity issues that are similar to mine, and are found to be the same across many types of disfunctional families. As for right now, as others have already said, get legal help, they will be your boundary setting system for now, and watch what happens when you stop responding to your ex’s passive agressive sad sausage routine (he knows that it works by appealing to your empathy, and honestly, it’s the laziest strategy, he knows the merest whisper of a thought that you might be hurting someone is abhorrent to you, and will spur you into action, so he uses it against you with the minimal output of energy on his part. Plus it makes you look and feel like the baddie.) watch for the rage of the thwarted toddler to appear. Then you’ll see how helpless and unable to deal he is then. Protect yourself, get out and then do some digging. Best of luck to you, I’m in pretty much the same boat, except for the sex.

  • Neer-Broken-Up:

    Jiminy Crickets, stop sleeping with this man.

    1. You are sending him very mixed signals. On the one hand, you want to end the marriage. On the other hand, you are sleeping with him “at least” twice a week–an act which you describe with all the passion of cleaning the lint trap on your dryer. You are allowing him to think you will eventually come around and stay in the marriage, and that there are no consequences for his cheating at all.

    2. You are allowing him to manipulate you with his “can’t sleep” and whiny “anxiety.” Look–if you send him to to spare room or get him a sofa bed in the family room or tell him to find an apartment, you won’t be in the bed for him to lay his manipulation onto you. So firs thing is actual separation, which starts with not sleeping in the same bed and moves on to separate living quarters.

    You say you want to leave but you remind me of my friend’s husband, who used to tell her, “I’m moving out. I’m leaving,” and then he wouldst down. It was all talk. If you want to leave the marriage, do it.

  • Never Broken Up,
    I don’t know you but I think one of your biggest obstacles may be fear
    Fear of the unknown, fear of being alone, fear of the drastic change you know is coming. Please don’t let your fear be your guide. It will deceive you in this. I too wanted to play nice during the divorce. Big mistake. I should have rocked that financial settlement boat hard. Instead I let him walk all over me to keep the peace. A part of me was still hoping maybe we could work things out. (Stupid hopium pipe!).
    I knew when I walked up those stairs to finally confront him on his cheating my whole life was about to do a total 180. It was the scariest moment of my life. I was terrified. Protect yourself. Face the fear. Focus on your life that you deserve. You’ll get through this and be better for it.

  • Cheating is abuse. Whining about not getting what he wants is being a bratty, entitled child. Don’t fuck children. I understand your fear and may some immobilization. You know already what you need to do. You’re not in this to win a popularity contest. He’s a non-entity for you at this point. Go be a badass and don’t look back.

    • Love your take on this. They are whiny entitled children. I fully remember mine throwing temper tantrums that reminded me of our toddler (at the time). It was one of those fits that made me throw up the “fuck I’m done flag”. I finally realized if it were up to him I’d be having circular arguments about his entitlement the rest of my life. And I realized I didn’t want to do it anymore.

  • Sex is a power and control tool for a narcissist, just don’t play. It’s keeps them coming back and using us more, and we stay foggy and attached. That is a win for a cheater. With any luck that and a letter from a good attorney will give him the right message.

  • Never-Broken-Up:

    Once the jig is up, it takes two to be manipulated…and you’re certainly doing your part.

    It take ONE to break up, and you’re certainly not doing your part.

    Stop communicating with him. Do not tell him what you are doing or thinking. He is not your friend or problem any longer.
    Get a lawyer. Ducks. Best settlement. File.
    No contact.
    New life. Minus a fuckwit.

  • Never, I get it. It’s scary.

    And your gut is quite correct – it’s already telling you that once you start putting boundaries in place and enforcing consequences, Mr Cry Baby is likely to turn into Mr Epic Tantrum.

    So you CAN choose to stay, and be Momma / punching bag / Florence Nightingale / sex toy for the rest of your life.

    Some women choose that. I can’t help them. They’re adults, and they’re making choices.

    Or, you can choose to put boundaries in place, enforce consequences, and rescue yourself from this mess.

    But you have to choose one path OR the other.

    There is absolutely zero middle ground here.

  • Ditto that, sex is not always love or loving for that matter. I suspect as most chumps, you are feeling very insecure right now and that’s ok but it doesn’t serve you well at all. I remember thinking I’d never find another woman as beautiful or fun as her again……LMFAO. I can’t even believe those thoughts crossed my mind. She was literally the worst woman on the planet. That’s what trauma does. Totally blinds you to the truth. The truth is that EVERY other woman on the planet would have been better for me by default. Because guess what…..none of them cheated on me or lied to me. Deal breaker, I don’t care how empathetic you are and no you don’t have to hate them……it was useful at first but will eventually become a monumental waste of you’re energy. What you’re doing right now is hating yourself, Oh don’t worry, eventually that will turn to hating them but that good ole trauma bond will still be fully functional. Now you hate yourself and them. Then what? Listen to Tracy and find a good lawyer.

  • A day late here but I wanted to reenforce that being nice
    made no difference when I decided to end my 28 year marriage
    I still believe I am the only person who WARNED their STBX hat they were going to be served divorce papers and SCHEDULED through the paralegal for the server to come at 8:30 in the morning and meet him in the lobby of his office building so no one would see
    I was just as considerate and delicate as possible. And he was the abusive cheating ahole
    Once the divorce process got rolling it made no difference
    He was just as nasty just as difficult, just a victim in every area going forward
    I know for my own integrity that I tried to be decent, but it made no difference
    I was also trying To not infuriate him right off the bat to make it easier on me, but that did not work either.
    He has tried to flip the narrative on the divorce anyway

    He claims I had viciously aggressive lawyers who just rolled over his, which is ridiculous.

    DO NOT be gentle with anything else. It was hard, but I listened to my attorneys and it paid off
    He won’t talk to me now anyway
    That would require that he take responsibility for his actions, and that won’t happen

    • Correct, correct, and correct. The only thing that will make real change in you’re life when dealing with a cluster B is grey rock. Yes, if you do it correctly it will make them completely insane for a while…….getting through that period is probably the hardest part for chumps, it was for me at least. Eventually though, with time and holding true to the grey rock philosophy it gets WAY better. Sure, they still pop their heads out of the water and scream something unintelligible from time to time, like taking their last breath……but then they sink back into the depths. Honestly, you’ll find it sadly comical at some point.

    • Meanwell,

      Just wanted to let you know you are not ‘the only one’….
      I did all the paper work and had to wrestle with myself not to pick up a final copy of the decree for him when the divorce was finalized.

      The things we do.

      I should add that our divorce did proceed quite smoothly. I am sure that it was due to my attitude which was fueled by pure denial and my delusional thinking that he would finally see the light and what he was giving up for someone he barely knew and that when he did I would be there and we would get married all over again as adults and live would be wonderful – happily ever after – etc etc etc

      After discovering CL and CN it dawned on me that who he was wasn’t actually an adult although he inhabited an adult 61 year old body. It probably would have been considered illegal for us to get married if the courts ran a test on emotional age wherein he would have come in as a raging 16 year old. I would have been charged with coercion of a minor. Oh dear.

      This thinking was before discovering LACGAL so I am innocent 🙂

      Just thought you should know that some of us go to even further lengths 🙂

      • Thank you Echump and Sheep,
        I would also like to differentiate for those entering the process, my doing some of his part of the divorce, my pulling together some of the paperwork, packing up his things or giving him personal items without a fight, that did help keep the process smoother. It did help.
        It minimized my contact with him, it kept the administrative process going. It helped control my fear. So if you have a choice of doing some thing that will be helpful to YOU, and you can handle it without being self-destructive then that is OK.

        It is only when it falls under the category of this is somehow going to change the way he behaves or treats me. As CL says you can set boundaries and make choices, but you cannot control how they respond.
        So if you save yourself grief, great, just don’t do anything for them for the hope of altering their responses or behaviors
        You can do this , Never. One step at a time

        PS, when he initially moved out I gave him personal items as I mentioned above, when we went through the formal process of divvying up our belongings he went back and asked for way more than his share. So it didn’t matter that I had made his life easier by allowing him to take out his exercise equipment or his bicycles etc. He still wanted more.

    • You aren’t alone on this journey. May your insights and wisdom help a new chump. Keep moving forward and this will be just one part of your life, of your grand life.

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