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Friends Disapprove of Her Divorce

Dear Chump Lady,

Plain and simple here is my question. After many, many years of suspecting my husband of adultery, he finally told me after 50 years of marriage that he did cheat.

At first he said it was a one-time thing, which after many hours of “discussion“ turned out to be 15 years of leading a double life.

Long story short, we are now divorced. My question is — how do I live with people who do not agree with divorcing a spouse due to adultery?

My sister believes in “Bridges of Madison County” type of forgiveness. She thinks if a wife is a bitch, you can’t blame the husband for cheating. This does not have any pertinence to our marriage according to my ex’s own words, he had no complaints about me as a wife. He only wanted strange.

Do I have to deal with this kind of demeaning treatment the rest of my life? Many friends have expressed similar opinions. I feel there is NEVER a reason to cheat, if you are not able to live with your spouse, get a divorce.

But why do we chumps have to be humiliated by family and friends who express the opinion of “maybe you were also at fault?” I find this impossible to bear much longer. Thank you for any opinion you can give.


Dear Nancy,

Perhaps you need to find some other badasses to hang out with and not this soppy Stand By Your Man crew of backward misogynists? It takes a lot of guts to leave a 50-year marriage. Apparently, they think you should blame yourself and tolerate his wandering dick. Shut up and be a good wife appliance.

You don’t need that crap in your life. It’s hard enough to let go of a 50-year relationship and rebuild without the peanut gallery sniping at you from the sidelines. Your bravery probably threatens them. And it reveals the differences in your values — you’re championing self-respect, they’re promoting shit sandwiches.

how do I live with people who do not agree with divorcing a spouse due to adultery?

You don’t have to live with them. This is your life. You don’t owe them an explanation or a defense of your choices. You left an abusive relationship. Fifteen years of gaslighting, of having your health risked, of being sexually humiliated, used, devalued. Are there millions of people who would tolerate continued abuse? Yes. Thank the sweet Lord Jesus you’re not one of them.

The narrative is changing. Live by example. They don’t have to approve of your decisions. But maybe in time some of them will come to admire you. So hold your head high and tune them out. Or perhaps CN can provide you some snappy rejoinders.

Also, and this is just my personal preference, I’m not a fan of the term “adultery.” I don’t think it helps the cause. It makes you sound like the Church Lady on the SNL skit. Like what you’re objecting to is smut or impure thoughts. No, you’re objecting to being abused.

If you say “adultery” people go to some Biblical battlefield and counter with “forgiveness!” You go 10 commandments. They go New Testament. Look, I’m no theologian, but I think the Bible gives you a pass for divorcing on adultery grounds. As do other faiths.

Move to a different battleground — your life. Your worth. “My God doesn’t tolerate abuse.” If you have to swap Bible thoughts with forgiveness trolls, try that.

My sister believes in “Bridges of Madison County” type of forgiveness.

Was that the Gospel in the book of Clint Eastwood?

She thinks if a wife is a bitch, you can’t blame the husband for cheating.

So her husband cheats, huh?

Or is this her loving sisterly way of telling you you’re a bitch?

Stick up for yourself. Put her victim blaming to her squarely — so you think I drove my husband to cheat on me? Is that what you’re saying? You think I know what he was up to for 15 years?

Another tactic when people say stupid shit is to ask them to repeat it. Again. Slower. No, again. Until they hear the stupid. Or realize you’re jujitsu-ing their mindfuckery.

Or, simply don’t engage with her. I don’t have the fuller picture of your relationship, but sometimes shared DNA is overrated.

Do I have to deal with this kind of demeaning treatment the rest of my life?

Of course not. You demonstrated you’re not tolerating it. Keep going. Hold the supportive people close and lessen or eliminate contact with the jerks.

But why do we chumps have to be humiliated by family and friends who express the opinion of “maybe you were also at fault?”

Because victim blaming feels good to them, because vulnerability is too awful to contemplate. So they come up with reasons why you deserved this. It’s human nature. Many people think this sort of shit, but only the bolder fuckwits say it to those in pain.

You are always free to leave the shit sandwich buffet. You put the plate down and walked away from your cheating husband. Just because shit sandwiches are served elsewhere, does not mean you have to partake.

Try a better class of venue — and friends. ((Hugs))

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.
  • “So they come up with reasons why you deserved this.” It helps them think it could never happen to them if it was your fault. It differentiate your situation from theirs (in their minds). A kind of armor. It’s also because that can’t fathom the pain, humiliation, anguish that we’ve been through — I’m glad for them for that reason and hope they never have to experience it.

    • Yes, humans do this in a lot of situations. I care for the dying and it’s amazing how people will swoop in and blame family members for the impeding death of their loved one even when the tragedy was completely random and unavoidable. The more frightened they are, the more outrageous they will reach with this logic.

        • And sadly, there are a lot of crappy, cowardly and self-centered people out there. I’m a nurse; I’ve had cancer. I’ve heard that if you’re more optimistic/holistic/religious/friendly/etc. you wouldn’t get cancer/heart disease/lung disease/COVID. How crappy, cowardly and lacking in intelligence is all of that?! I’ve also heard a lot of forgiveness-bullying and blame for the fact that my husband cheated, that I married him in the first place and, yes, for the fact that he was physically abusive as well.

          I learned to associate with a better class of people. I hope the original poster can as well.

          • This holistic bullshit is becoming wayyy to common -__-

            I believe we now even have a word for it – toxic positivity – which sounds just as crappy. I got a whole shower of toxic-positivity-instagram-wisdom-quotes from a dear friend of mine, and she just didn’t get why I remained grumpy. It’s like it’s like it has become impossible to say life suck. (a lot of the time, not always.)

            Then just after that she gut dumped by her guy for shitty reasons (not cheating though) and told me: “I finally get what you meant”.

            It’s one of the things that you probably have to go through yourself to see that bad luck actually exists, and no not all luck is in our hands.

            • This! I’m sick of the endless Pinterest memes and social media posts with messages about “manifesting”, “positive energy” and such twaddle.
              I stay away from people who believe such rot. Most of what happens in life is about luck. First and most importantly, just look at where we are born. We didn’t “manifest” being born in a first world country, we won the damn birthplace lottery. We didn’t do anything to be born healthy, intelligent or good looking, either. Those things are 100% luck and have by far the greatest influence on the trajectory of a person’s life.

            • Yes! Not everything happens because we didn’t eat enough arugala, or tell our partner how handsome they were every day.

              A relative that always told me to ‘put on my big girl pants’ is now facing her own tragedy, and it just makes me shake my head.


            • I’m glad there’s a moniker for it now, no matter how awkward it is.

              I have a friend who got impatient with my grieving process after a while. She even started teasing me with sarcastic comments. But mostly, she’d quote some silly platitude she picked up from her last sales meeting. She would act like it was sublimely meaningful and my problem was that I just wasn’t focusing on my gratitude. When I pushed back, she’d say something about me just being angry and bitter.

              About a year later, she was tragically thrown into her own grieving process. One day, she actually told me she was sick of everyone telling her to be grateful. She was sorry for doing that to me when all I needed was someone to listen and validate my feelings.

              Proving, once again, that you can’t fix other people’s problems and, if you respond condescendingly to them, karma might pay you a visit.

              • I guess for me it’s not even karma, but just our maturity regarding our walks of life: the more crap you live through, the more you are forced to deal with that unjust shittyness. I guess the Pinterest-positive people either have truly been lucky so far, or they choose to remain in their unicorn universe, ignoring to see things for what they are.

                To be honest it’s been through my own hardship that I’ve had my most valuable life lessons. By losing my income one day to another, I got to see a whole world of low paid jobs and the stress that comes with it, now making me super thankful to be doing well paid and intelligent work. The relationship with fw gave me the negative blueprint of what a happy relationship ould be, hopefully allowing me to make better choices for a partner in the future.

                But yeah, ultimately life is a lot about luck, and then you are just allowed some choices between your circumstances. Like you guys say, it’s a big taboo to admit that.

          • What absolute scum! I’m so sorry they did that to you and agree with you that there are lots of those people out there.

            One thing being chumped did do for us was to remove our rose colored glasses to enable us to see people for what they are. It hurts to lose your innocence, but I believe that ultimately we’re better for knowing the ugly truth. We can now brush those people off like dandruff.

            • That is SO TRUE.

              It’s really hard to leave those people behind to start with (and the start is usually the cheater), but gets easier with every single person.

              Rose-coloured glasses are a luxury for the “lucky” (aka the ones who are just SO good at manifesting their fabulous lives). Here in the trenches, our shit got real … thanks heavens we have each other, Chump Nation, and our potty-mouthed fearless leader CL.

    • They don’t know the pain and never would, unless it happened to them. And I agree it’s to make sure they feel ‘safe’. And it’s so modern, well marriages don’t work and sometimes they just are more compatible with the OW (I got this, a lot), it takes two to make a marriage work, men/women don’t cheat if they are happy at home.

      Honestly you just have to tune it out don’t you, although it’s one of the many shit sandwiches that is almost worse than the adultery!

      • True, DuddersGetChumped, all that you said.

        To me the 2 in “ it takes two” is the cheater & the affair partner.

        • Meaning it takes those two to stay out of each other’s pants to make a marriage work….
          I know, and a lot of other things too.
          But, honestly, I thought things were good, young child, expecting, lovely new home, I loved him with all my heart, thought he loved me…
          We all know the story geeesssh…

        • Absolutely, that would be my response to any idiot who dared blamed me using the it takes two shit.

          I didn’t get a vote in his cheating, and he did it for at least ten years of a 21 year marriage, truth be told likely the entire marriage. How is that my fault. I never had a chance.

          I only had two questions for my cheating liar: “just when did you decide that you were entitled to a faithful spouse, but I wasn’t” and “why was I horrible enough to cheat on, lie to and steal from for years; but I was not horrible enough to divorce” until you got your balls caught in the workplace auger.

          • Susie, Exactly this. If we are so bad and horrible, why didn’t they just say something to end it. Why do they wait years? Ooops never mind, they like what they are doing and have the best of both worlds. They love all the sources of cake! I just hate thinking that everything was a lie and that I worked to share expenses so that he could support Schmoopie for the last two years! Yeah, that situation is going to end. Thankfully, when playing the marriage police I honed my detective skills. As CL would say I have my bitch boots on and am ready to kick some cheater ass (legally and in a courtroom).

      • “They are just more compatible with the OW”. I got this too from people that I love and cherish. At first that was just another mindfuck. And as time went on, 6 years later I found a wonderful man. The way he treats me compared to the fuckwit is night and day. And we really are much more compatible than I ever was with the fuckwit. So there I was with yet another mindfuck only this time it was me spouting the words… ‘maybe he’s just more compatible with his OW.’ Though he may be more compatible with his skank, that did NOT justify him fucking around on me for 15 years of our 30-year marriage. He could have left me if he was so unhappy. It was abuse pure and simple. And whenever anyone makes a comment like ‘well, things just weren’t meant to be’…, I respond, “Maybe yes, maybe no, but he could have divorced me instead of fucking around! He was a disgusting pig and I’m glad I had the balls to get rid of his ass!” I have found that when I raise my voice a little and show that I’m pissed by their inane comments, people have a tendency to re-think what they said. I should probably be more lady-like and ask them to repeat their stupid comment again. and again. and again. until they see the stupidity of what they said; however, many people won’t see the stupidity. It’s not until I mention that I was abused, and that the bruises just didn’t show on the outside. Most definitely, I was pummeled.

        • Matter of fact truth telling works best for me. If there’s a hint of anger or if I raise my voice a little the person listening will focus on that and not what I’m saying. If a woman raises her voice or yells, she’s labeled a bitch. I like to save my yelling for “Grab your go bag ! The house next door is on fire !”

        • I struggled with the concept of the ex having more in common with the OW for a long time. It was too easy to take it personally, as if having more in common with the OW meant that something was wrong with me or that she was better.

          It took about three years until I really wrapped around my head around the reality that my ex does have more in common with the OW and that doesn’t bode well for him or her. It’s amazing for me.

          My ex simply does not share the same values as I do. He pretended he did, and maybe even believed he did, when he was playing house with me all those years of dating/marriage (14.5 years). Doesn’t ChumpLady say that when they show you who they really are, believe them? Well, it’s been a real education to see who my ex really is now that he doesn’t have my coattails to ride on (he would say that it was my control of him while we were married, of course). He really does not have the same standards in life that I do. He does the least amount possible and wants validation for whatever he does. I realize more than ever how much I was carrying in our relationship, believing that I had a true partner, but I really just had a conflict avoidant man who just agrees with things, even when he doesn’t agree.

          She’s like that too. She is low value. Morally-ambiguous. Damsel in distress. She can’t do much on her own, so just having him at her side is enough to garner her gratitude and make him feel like he’s the man (she can’t even attend her own kids’ hockey games without either my ex or her parents going with her). They are both emotionally immature. They were both cheaters in their marriages. They both self-victimize. They are both all about their “happiness.” Two pigs rolling around in shit, not smelling each other’s stink.

          Thank God I don’t have anything in common with my ex because he is not someone I would want to be. Now, I’m the one who beats people to the punch by saying that the kind of woman who would sleep with a married man is the kind of woman that has more in common with my ex than I ever could, and so she is a far better match by far. It’s been empowering to own it and make it my own.

          • Thank you! Now I know what to say when somebody says that maybe he and her are more compatible: “You’re right there! The kind of woman that sleeps with a married man is the kind of woman that has much more in common with my ex than I ever will. She’s a much better match for him by far!”

        • Agreed. It took me a while to understand that they made a great couple. Cheater + Cheater; Liar + Liar, etc. And they have so many (vile) common interests…
          Just let them flounce off into the perpetual rosy sunset. Who believes in that crap?

        • Agreed. It took me a while to understand that they made a great couple. Cheater + Cheater; Liar + Liar, etc. And they have so many (vile) common interests…
          Just let them flounce off into the perpetual rosy sunset. Who believes in that crap?
          In the end, i have realised that I simply made a big mistake in choosing him and more in sticking by him for 30 years, spackling like crazy.
          Better being honest all round: You’re fantastic in your Instagram snaps with such a cool model, (never seen them, nor wish to), and I’m even better on my own.

      • They are more compatible with the other woman/man. Generally they are both liars and cheats, and chumps are honest and loyal. No compatibility to work with there. I got told by ex that ‘we aren’t compatible’. Took him 26 years to work that out but to be fair to him, I agree completely.

  • Chump Lady, your phrase “vulnerability is too awful to contemplate” is very accurate in my experience. My family pushed me to stay with a husband they knew was abusive.

    I think if they let themselves admit that I was suffering through no fault if my own, the pain of that would be too hard for them to bear. It was less painful for them to invent a narrative in their own heads that I was strong because I was the mastermind of my marriage behind closed doors.

    If I could be abused for no reason, then one day it might happen to them too. They couldn’t bear that fact.

    They didn’t want to deal with a sister or daughter who might need a place to stay for a while or who might cry in public during a divorce. If my seemingly good husband was actually a monster, then they would have to admit the same thing might happen to them. It’s easier to say “my sister has the ability to prevent her own suffering, which means I have the same power, which means I won’t get hurt, since I’m such a great wife myself and would never let such a thing happen to me.” Adultery is THAT horrific and unpredictable. It’s in the Old Testament for a reason. Lies are violent. Any chump will tell you that.

    Nancy, your “friends” are blaming you because subconsciously they are terrified for themselves. I’m so sorry.

    You are enlightened. They are in the dark.

    • No excuse!
      My family included ex’s family in everything we did and knew him since childhood. They all tend to the codependent side of life and – especially my mom- codependent in chief. However, they all stood firmly behind me from day one as they should have. I don’t even have a great relationship with 2 of my 3 siblings but they knew right from wrong. Ex was not physically abusive and did not want divorce- they knew his lies and lack of remorse were 100% not acceptable. I revealed everything to them and there was one point where one brother (who grew up considering x as an older brother) said after a new reveal, “I was going to suggest you give him one more chance but no” they’re having been informed of the entire process and facts, helped them get to the place just as I did that there was no more spackle.
      Dump and damn anyone who is not capable of seeing right from wrong. They’re the ones who could cheat- because they don’t get it.

      • “Dump and damn anyone who is not capable of seeing right from wrong. They’re the ones who could cheat- because they don’t get it.”

        I LOVE concise, easy-to-remember powerful one-liners! Thank you.


        • The ultimate compliment. I don’t always read everything here as I’m pretty much at meh but I always scan through for your wisdom which nourishes me with each of your comments. Your gift to our community is priceless.

          • I’ll credit my team of great therapists through the years and the army of comrades in 12 step programs. ????

            You can’t keep it unless you give it away, and thank you for your kind comment. This whole infidelity thing left me feeling crazy, decimated my self-confidence, and shattered my self-esteem.

      • Lauren, so glad your family came through like that! I have found I’ve had to pick and choose among family members, spending much more time with those who share my values and basically ghosting those that don’t– and I had to get some of them out of my life completely! It is not that they openly support cheating–but some of them covertly support verbal abuse and verbal intimidation by men, and would not believe me when I told them what the cheater really was, or they blamed me for not seeing through his facade when they themselves were completely fooled too.
        I’m glad that when the chips are down, that your family shares your values about this and that they respected what you had to say and above all that they have your back. I wish that for all of us.

      • Lauren, I’m glad there are families out there that don’t spackle over infidelity and blame the victim.

        I feel happy knowing I would never, ever, encourage anyone I know to stay with a cheater.

        Here’s to bravery and honesty.

  • Let these people eat your dust, Nancy. At the kindest possible interpretation, they ‘lack empathy’. You are clearly mighty. Good for you. I was subject to anything between 10 and 26 years of double life, for which read repeated lies and betrayal. Every time he texted, Whatsapped, messaged, Skyped, FaceTimed, the OW I was betrayed. Not least because in order to justify his behaviour, my reputation and character were trashed, repeatedly. At least I never had to see the ex gf OW because she lived, perhaps still does live (who knows or cares) overseas. However he told his family and some of our mutual friends what a failure I was as a wife, how we could not socialise because I was ‘restricting his drinking’. He did his best to destroy my reputation with anyone he could. He was an alcoholic (no doubt ex gf OW has saved him). I could not restrict his drinking, it was impossible. These people (I use the word ‘people’ loosely) saw me face to face, laughed with me, joked with me, knowing what they knew. His niece mocked me, as did his brother, at his family event, to which I went (to my everlasting shame) while my father was dying in hospital. I could not understand what was going on. That’s what matters. The fact that someone who was supposed to have my back was sticking the dagger in it and encouraging others to do so, time and time again. Your ex will have done the same. It’s the playbook whatever they say to your face.

    You do not have to justify yourself, Nancy. You do not have to defend yourself. You know what’s acceptable to you, and that’s all that matters. Let them make their comments. Tip up your nose and walk away. These ‘people’ do not have your best interests at heart, blood relations or otherwise.

    • Agree 100% with this: “ You do not have to justify yourself, Nancy. You do not have to defend yourself. You know what’s acceptable to you, and that’s all that matters. Let them make their comments. Tip up your nose and walk away. These ‘people’ do not have your best interests at heart, blood relations or otherwise.”

  • No way, don’t deal with it. Be unequivocal that you will not listen to any more of their cheater apologist crap. It is abusive to say such things to somebody who has had her heart broken by cheating. These people are bullying you. I suspect your sister wants to think she is immune, thus the nonsensical belief that it only happens to bitchy wives. Whatever her dumbass beliefs are, she needs to STFU about them. Saying that is a straight up verbal punch in the face to you. Don’t tolerate it. The same goes for your nasty “friends”. Bridges of Madison County romantic drivel, huh? If they buy that, I’ve got another bridge in Brooklyn to sell to those ditzy cows. It’s permissible (though stupid AF) to not believe in divorcing a cheater, but not permissible to impose those beliefs on a hurting person. It’s mean. They need to zip it.

    So if they start in with that crap, don’t even bother to argue. Just say you will not discuss it. Ever. That you will immediately end any conversation in which they raise the subject, and that if it continues, you won’t speak to them at all. Walk away or hang up the phone if they won’t stop, and like CL says, do it with your head held high. You are in the right, so set that boundary and rigidly enforce it.

    I have experience with this, as I had to do it with my mother. I didn’t see her for a year until she apologized and admitted she was wrong. I had hung up the phone on her when she accused me of being “too sensitive” in response to her anger and aggression towards me for leaving the turd. I never took another call until she emailed me a full apology. She never said those things again. So that turned out well.
    However, I no longer speak to one of my adult children because of her support of cheater ex and cruel words to me, and you know what? I don’t miss her that much. Shared DNA doesn’t make somebody family. Reciprocal love does. If your sister and your friends love you they’ll respect and care about your feelings. If they continue to be cruel, cut them out of your life for the sake of your mental health. I have cut out all the cheater apologists and it has helped to ease my mind. If people don’t share important, fundamental values with you, why bother with them? That’s why you dumped the cheater and you can cut out the rest of the deadwood too. If you aren’t prepared to do this, put on your hip waders because you’ll likely be knee deep in their bullshit for some time.
    Hugs to you. ❤ I know how much it hurts.

  • I can make other people do things and I chose cheating. Instead of world peace. Yes. Yes, you are right. My superpower is selfish controlling bitch.

    I let go of anyone who blames me. Including the very expensive divorce mediator who pointed out to me that the abstract Mark Rothko wannabe painting that hung in his reception area was entitled “Empathy”.

    Victim-blaming is incredibly re-traumatizing. That being said, I am grateful that it helps me sort out who among the billions on our planet deserves admission into my life. Family included.

    Family, IMHO, is the group of people who is supposed to have your back. I was the baby of the family and it’s clear to me how their failure to be protective of me, and the victim-blaming that went on as I was growing up actually primed me to marry Benedict OJ Madoff.

    A member of Chump Nation named Mike has a friend named Mary who ripped into his cheating ex-wife. It’s a GREAT story and his friend Mary is my new hero and template for the kinds of friends I want. I am so jealous of Mike having a friend like Mary! Hold out for the Marys! Your cheating husband was just a variation on the theme of your family and friends.

    • My super-power is gaining weight. However, I lost that weight. I cannot ever see the FW losing his shitty character.

    • ???? I couldn’t decide between between getting Bill Gates to hand over his entire fortune to the starving multitudes and getting my husband to bang an diseased skank without a condom, so I flipped a coin.
      I manifested that real good.

  • This is so heart-breaking. I’m three years out from D-day and feel honestly that the multiple heartbreaks from losing friends and support people (like therapists) may have actually been worse than the betrayal of the singular fuckwit. It’s like the world became a nightmare where everywhere that I assumed there would be support, I found someone who had wanted to think me a bitch or that I’m a bad person all along.

    But the math doesn’t add up, even though us chumps will waste time doing the math. Just see UnicornNoMore’s post above. My ex’s wandering dick started while I was recovering from childbirth and just physically couldn’t have sex. In a way I’m grateful for eventually learning this because if i heard it had started after a fight or something I might have blamed myself deeply. Don’t.

    It’s so hard to lose people that you thought liked and supported you, and it’s lonely. But the friends who get it are worth your time, and it will be reciprocal

    • As far as I can tell, klootzak’s dick wandered at will the entire time. There was no precipitating event at all. He’s a controlling asshole but I bent and accepted the control without much fight so there was really no negative incident which could be said to have “caused” his cheating. He fucked around in good times and in bad and though I can’t prove it, I’m fairly certain now that it was happening even back when we were dating. When I look back, I don’t see evidence but I do recall many red flags. Incident or not, we don’t cause them being fuckwits. It’s not as though having a big argument could even justify that abuse. There is no sliding scale of control on our parts. Childbirth recovery or a big fight… it’s all the same. Fuckwits chose to be fuckwits. Even bitchy people don’t cause their partners to cheat. If you find out you married Attila the Hun, you don’t cheat; you get a divorce. That’s what normal people do. Cheating has nothing to do with the spouse and everything to do with fuckwits feeling entitled to have all they want.

      • Yep, by fws own admission on his way out the door “I “dated” for ten years and I never loved you” So how was that my fault?

        I honestly don’t even think fw thought at the beginning that we would ever divorce, he would just continue getting his strange; and I would remain the loyal wife who maintained his respectable public image. After all he was the smartest guy in the room, and certainly smatter than I was (just ask him). Then he got his dick tangled up in the office auger… well the rest is history.

        I had to google Kloozak. Love it.

  • I admit I am a relatively new chump but I am so glad that I found CL and CN. My DDay was in June and the cheating asshat went through all the reasons that I caused him to cheat to include that I destroyed his self esteem, I cared too much about work, etc. I did the normal chump pick me dance for a month until DDay #2 rolled around in August. Yep, all that time, I played marriage police, went through attempting wreckconciliation and so on. Feeling physically sick was something I did not enjoy so I had to think about getting rid of the cause of the misery and illnesses. Yes there were people and therapists that said that I had to think about what I did to compel him to cheat. I did that but then discovered CL and CN and it was so liberating to hear that I did not cause this. I don’t have to “forgive”. What I do is now my choice because he made a choice. I collected my evidence and documents and I lawyered up. Although we are still under the same roof, I went NO CONTACT. If I see him and he says something I just say “uh huh”. Lawyer is ready to file the documents to separate and hopefully he will be served very soon and get the FUCK out of this house. I have blocked all the nonsense friends who think I did something wrong and I only deal with people I want in my life. It has been a living hell but I know once he leaves that I can start the healing process and things will get better with time. I am on the road to meh and anyone who does not support getting rid of a lying cheater no matter how long the marriage lasted is not my friend and can join the cheater. Nancy, if they don’t support your decision, they are not worth having around DNA or not. Screw them. You are MIGHTY!!!!!

      • Spinach, I have seen your posts and you live up to your name. I hope I can get to a better place soon. I will admit that it did not take me long to get tired of the lies and deceit. I also admit that I am still pretty shakey and anxious though. I know it will be better when the FW moves out (finger crossed that it will be soon). I sincerely think that he believes he can continue his pleasant life in this house and that I am okay with Schmoopie on the side. He even had some work done on house so he really feels comfortable. I am going one step at a time and since I am a nice chump, I will even pack his shit up.

        • Stay strong!????

          Maybe you’re a nice chump, but you’re channeling your badass self now. Good luck! Oh, and I wouldn’t pack for him if you can help it. Sheesh.

          • I think what inspired me was the term CL used about putting on the bitch boots. I did and they feel great. Now if I could just kick the FW out but I want to make sure it is done the proper and legal way so he has no recourse. Thank God my lawyer has some serious bitch boots as well.

            • Stay the course! I’m rooting for you! I’m still under the same roof, too, unfortunately. He doesn’t want to give up the house so I’m patiently lining up ducks waiting for my moment. He has been keen on changing careers and moving to an expensive city hours away from here. He thinks the child and I will move with him and he will file after we get there, leaving the child’s stable life here disrupted in a new place with no friends and ditching me in an impossibly expensive location. But when he locks in on a new position and announces his desire to put the house up for sale, I’m dropping papers and he can go on his merry way. Our child has a great school, friends, activities he is involved in, and the only home he has ever known right here. I have spent almost 20 years following klootzak around (he was a military officer, now retired). If I file before he is committed to leaving, he will suddenly dig in and fight me about the house even though he doesn’t really want it. He doesn’t care what our son will have to deal with. I can just hear klootzak saying kids are resilient (“I lived in 8 places before I even went to college and I turned out fine!” ????) and it is only important that we follow him. No. Not anymore and he can’t force us to leave nor can he take our son with him without a judge weighing in. He was offered great paying jobs right here that he turned down because he wants to be in the big city. I’m certain he has some OW lined up there. So I’m biding my time, expecting I will get my bitch boots on and file by spring. The job market is too good. He will find something. I would be more than happy to pack his shit just to get him out of here.

              I’m excited for you to file and be free. Living vicariously and looking forward to my own freedom. ????

              • I am rooting for you as well. Boy are you strong to have to go through that time with him in the house. I am almost at the breaking point but going pretty much no contact in the house has helped. I am not going to give him any conversation no matter how he tries. Will not give him the pleasure of an argument (kibble). If he needs to talk, I am sure Schmoopie will be glad to do so. Hang in there and get those bitch boots ready!

          • I packed up my ex’s stuff for him, which was a lot of work, but well worth it. It was like the best sort of junk clearout ever. I got rid of everything that was clearly his, everything that I knew would remind me of him, everything I didn’t like, and everything I felt like replacing with something brand new. I was also able to make sure that he couldn’t sneak out anything that was mine, or anything I still wanted. My ex was never going to get around to it in a timely fashion or do a thorough job anyways. He was the master of getting other people to do hard work for him, so he probably thought he was just continuing the pattern of taking advantage of my generosity, but in this case, it was cleansing for me.

            • Actually, that makes sense. I’m glad it worked for you, Hopeful Cynic.

              I did most of the packing at our house, too, although he had to do his own clothes etc… I didn’t trust him. When I knew he was coming to the house (I’d kicked him out, and he was only allowed to come at agreed-upon times), I took photos of everything so I could keep track of what he touched and took.

              I’m not sure I’d say it was cleansing. It was depressing AF. But at least I was in the driver’s seat. I don’t know. I have really bad memories of that time. But I stayed tough and somehow got through it. Good luck to all the new chumps dealing with this nightmare right now. It does get better.

    • Oh, you are mighty! I had to become a “polite acquaintance” to several people I considered to be close friends. One of them even knew what the FW was doing, and didn’t have the courtesy to clue me in. Turns out, she was also busy cheating on her husband.

      I don’t want people in my life for whom the abuse of cheating is no big deal. It IS a big deal.

    • Chumped – Well done! You are on the road to a new and better life. Glad you found CL/CN early on. Sorry you have to be part of CN.

  • I took shears & pruned out so many acquaintances (and some family) because of their “forgive” mantras & always be kind & nice, no matter what armor. The unsaid implication was I was none of those things because I got angry. I got angry about the cheating, the future-faking aka lies, the OW & how my husband left me without a backwards glance or care, likely crossing his fingers that I would just oft myself to make it easier for him. People are not going to understand what we’ve been through unless they go through it AND have some sort of aha! breakthrough. So I respectfully say to not invest much or anything in what anyone – that hasn’t had those 2 things- says or tthinks . As the saying goes , it’s none of my business what anyone tthinks of mme.Sorry for some repeating letters, this website is not easy to write on at ttimes & no editing feature.

    • There will always be “ those that get it” and “ those that don’t”. If they let themselves be vulnerable and see that it is possible for someone to be abused vs it always “takes two to tango” mindset, it feels more controllable a circumstance in their own lives and they won’t be able to ‘catch it’ if they love and care deeply for their partner. Too scary a vision to think you can get hurt randomly through no fault of your own, that’s nightmare level horrors they don’t want anywhere near their own lives. Just be a good loving spouse and it’s easy to prevent such an outcome is a much safer view, even if completely untrue.
      And Navigator, just a suggestion, if you write your post in your notes and then copy and paste to the CN thread, you have more space to compose and make corrections at your leisure. ( I still make mistakes that way, but not as bad!)

      • Similar to the “takes two to tango” trope is the oft and mindlessly repeated “there’s two sides to every story.” I would love to see a Chump Lady Friday Challenge of possible replies to such nonsense.

        • Oh, this. FW wanted me to own 50% of the blame for his cheating. I actually sought my heart and soul to try to figure out how I drove him to cheat, and came up with nothing, other than I no longer looked like the 29 year-old me at age 50. CN and CL set me straight, and I set our therapist straight. ONE person is capable of destroying a perfectly good marriage. Am I perfect? No. But I was always willing to talk, to work things out, to compromise…to the point of becoming a doormat.

          100% of his cheating is on him. Period.

          • Yes, both therapist and Cheater wanted me to take part of the blame. Seriously??? While pick me dancing, I tried that and it just did not work for me. I had always thought that authentic couples stay together regardless if one is not healthy, good looking or thin or whatever. If there are problems, work it out. Talk to the person but don’t be underhanded and sneak around to cheat. If you don’t want the relationship any more SPEAK UP. Let the other person make an informed decision. They created the situation without your knowledge. You were not informed. If they wanted out for whatever reason they need to speak up not sneak off.

          • At one time I was unknowingly mighty. After DDay, and before I found CL and CN, I said to the fuckwit, “No matter what I did or didn’t do, I did not cause you to cheat! That sin is yours!”

        • “There’s two sides to every story.”

          My response to that is always, “So sayeth Ted Bundy.” Sometimes I swap that for John Wayne Gacy because it’s morbidly funny when they don’t know who the latter is. I tell them it was a self help guru from the 70s.

          • I wrote in my journal last night a similar thought. My adult children took Fuckwit’s side and say all these horribly hurtful things to me like we all need to move on and divorces happen, etc. I was married for 40 years. Now, that sacrifice and commitment (because he always treated me like dogshit on the bottom of his boot) is just not any big deal, nor is the fact that their dad was getting blowjobs in the closets at work for years if not decades……that he married schmoopie 30 days after our divorce….

            One of their biggest arguments is that “He’s so happy now! He’s so easy to get along with. Why can’t you just be happy for him?”

            My response in my journal is………you know, the BTK killer I’m sure was happy as a clam and very easy to get along with after each of his brutal, secret torture and killing sessions. No matter about the poor family of victims, we don’t really know them anyway…..and look, he’s just so happy and easy to get along with now! Until he would get all cranky and start to shop for a new victim to get his fix.

            What is wrong with people? These are my own two children I birthed and devoted all my love and human spirit to for over 30 years! Many days I just cannot even cope anymore. It is bizarro world and I am the only one who woke up where everything that used to be true is now false. Chump Nation and my therapist are my only two anchors to reality.

            • And it feels like just another mindfuck. When I hear something like that I cannot help but think, “Maybe it was me.” I guess a comeback would be, “Just imagine how many years he would have been “so happy” had he divorced me immediately instead of fucking around behind my back for years.”

              • I feel for you. One of my kids is like that. They want to associate themselves with the parent who superficially appears to have “won” instead of the traumatized parent they see as a “loser”. They lack empathy and compassion just like the fuckwit. Some kids identify with the abusive parent. It’s awful and I’m sorry they’re doing that.
                So I cut my ingrate kid off for it and I’m okay with it. Seriously, it was a relief not to have to deal with her re-traumatizing behavior. I even lost grandkids for it. I’m still not sorry. Peace is priceless.

                Your ex fuckwit won’t be a shiny happy person for very long. They don’t change. Maybe your kids will get it when he does the same shit to his new tool or she does it to him. There’s no way that’s a healthy relationship because cheaters just aren’t capable of that.

              • Sorry to confuse – I meant this come back is awesome! I’m planning on using it!

                Just imagine how happy I would be today if I’d have left when his dick first started wandering. Truthfully, I doubt I would even have the children I have now……..and I’ll never know because he’s a lying liar and he will never fess up to how long his dick has wandered……or yucky yuck…..just where it has been. I’ve been thinking back to all the times he brought couples into our lives (meaning he invited them to dinner and I busted my ass making a wonderful home cooked meal so he could show off) – suspect now he was fucking all of those for sure.

            • tallgrass

              You have to decide whether your life is better with or without these adult children

              Explain to them that adultery is abuse. The spouse is exposed to std’s, repeated lying, and a life partner secretly conspiring with an outside person. (and no, condoms do not prevent all std’s)

            • (((Tallgrass)))
              I feel your pain. My children ( who don’t know the half of it), are the same.
              Why can’t you two get along…..
              they cannot stand me standing up to him, because they cannot stand any conflict.
              I shielded them for so long. I feel like I have buried myself…. there were too many hurtful reasons ( to them) why I never told them things.

              The best thing about CN is that new Chumps learn from others mistakes,
              and each Chump, no matter the story, can find comfort, and understanding.

            • Tallgrass, I’m sorry you’re going through this with your kids. I know how hurtful it is. My adult son (only child) sides with his father.
              I’m treated as if I’m inferior, I’m not acknowledged on my birthday, Mother’s Day or holidays.
              In his mind his father is the winner and I’m the pathetic loser.

              I was also a devoted Mom for 30 years. I ask myself the same questions, what happened? where’s his empathy? his compassion? I’m learning to accept that this is who he is. I don’t feel comfortable around him.
              Sadly, it’s time to distance myself from what little contact we do have.
              Reading CN gives me peace of mind knowing there’s people in the world that do have compassion and think like I do.

        • My favorite is; “Yes, there are two sides to the story. There’s what a proven liar and betrayer says and there’s the truth. So which side are YOU betting on?”
          That gets them sputtering.

      • I’ve been working with a new therapist for a few months. Most of our talk regarding Ex has been about his continued disruptive influence in my life via the kids and the courts. Today I used the word “conspiracy” in relation to Ex’s behavior while we were married. My therapist’s look of surprise and then understanding were priceless. She agreed that my experience was exactly that.

        I stopped using the words adultery and cheating years ago and refer to his behavior in very descriptive terms such as conspiracy, harassment, fraud, lying, gaslighting, breaking promises and risking my health. I’m feeling really good about this therapist and looking forward to doing the deep work with her. Happy Tuesday!

  • Chump Lady at it with another gold!

    When I was in the RIC trenches doing the pickme dance – I kept getting stuck in the prayers and forgiveness wash cycle – getting sucked into more abuse and mindfuck blender by him. I am strong believer of my faith now because I realize that God didn’t create me to be a doormat and that is what I tell people when they ask. What also helped me tremendously with CL’s blog was also reading DivorceMinister’s blog who also put it into focus for me about scripture being weaponized *cough cough* book of Hosea anyone?*cough cough*

    Also, I’ve had flying monkeys from exFW telling me that they spoke to him saying about how this can make the relationship better and in time maybe we will reunite ???????????????? and how sorry they are. No thanks.

    I would limit my contact with these people and do exactly what CL says about turning the question back at them.

    I am no longer defending myself – he wants to maintain an image that the relationship just fell apart and I hold the narrative that he broke his vows and I divorced him.

  • Those who don’t support you are people that groomed you to put up with his behavior in the first place.

  • I heard “it takes two to tango” more than once during the split with my ex. Of course it was total blame shifting, and of course my ex helped to feed that line of reasoning with multiple lame accusations and lies.

    The reality was that my ex wife was living a secret life for almost the entirety of our marriage! It takes two to tango?! Really?! How exactly can that be when I wasn’t even aware of any music playing?

    As others here have said, it’s just a way for people to delude themselves into thinking their marriage isn’t vulnerable.

    “But surely you must have known.” No, I didn’t. That’s why it’s called a secret life. But once I did “know” it was over. And there’s a lot of truth to the old saying that the spouse is “always the last to know.”

      • Exactly! GratefullyDivorcedDad, you were tangoing, but your ex wife was chasing other men all around the dancefloor.

    • The spouse is “always the last to know.” This, 1000x this. It turns out that EVERYONE knew or suspected.

      Also true, the spouse always finds out.

    • I got “But surely you must have known.” too. Why is it so hard to believe I had no clue? She weaponized my complete trust in her. Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with a wife? Trust, cherish, and all that BS? She knew my schedules, my whereabouts, she could “find my iphone”, she knew what lies I would believe, she paid the bills so I wouldn’t see the cash she was spending on fuckboy. Deceiving me was her full-time job. Like you, once I discovered, I filed within 3 weeks. But did I ever suspect my “soulmate” would cheat on me? Not for a nanosecond.

    • This reminds me of what my therapist kept trying to point out to me for two years about my husbands infidelity when I didn’t know – I was the queen of denial. He told me I was playing a rigged card game and I was bound to lose.

    • We see what we believe.

      That’s why I didn’t see.

      You can’t see the big picture from inside the frame.

      You can’t tell what’s in the pickle barrel til you get the lid off’n it.

      You can’t read the writing on the wall when your nose is up against it.

      There’s a lot of snappy comebacks you can rehearse.

      I had a Southern grandmother who was full of clever sayings.

    • ““But surely you must have known.””

      Right? I mean technically I knew in the last year of the marriage when he started the discard that something was up, but no I didn’t know that for ten years he was dating before that. (his words).

      And one might ask why did I not know. Well I assume I didn’t know because he was acting the part of a happily married man, including regular sex, and intermittent love bombing, regular church services etc. (just enough to keep me hooked I guess).and using my services to help him in the community. He never once said, hey I am fucking the town whore who is my employee, or hey you don’t make me happy. Of course he couldn’t do that because then I might not continue to help him get to his promotion.

      In short I didn’t know because he made sure I didn’t know. He knew me and he knew how to manipulate me.

  • My guess is your sister and your friends are eating the same shit sandwiches and are too afraid to face the truth. Your walking away from a 50 year marriage is a threat to them.

    Just as we ask ourselves about our marriages to the cheater … “Is this relationship okay with me?” … ask that, too, of your friendships and clear out any dead wood and live a peaceful life.

    I applaud your bad-assery!

  • I have a Bridges of Madison County story too. I also have a friend who works for Clint Eastwood. Clint is a great actor but not someone I would want to marry from what I know about him personally.

    Years ago I worked for a couple who had been having an affair for YEARS and finally left their spouses to be together. They had hired me as their housekeeper and I had a front row seat to their good-looking shit show. On my first day she told me how their “love” story was just like the Bridges of Madison County!
    Though they were very well off financially, their bedroom furniture was his half of the bedroom set that belonged to him with his ex-wife. WTF? They couldn’t even buy new bedroom furniture? Why the hell would either one of them want any of his old bedroom furniture?!

    I believe they were both untreated alcoholics. She was very high-functioning; a bank executive. He was in the habit of “quitting” jobs without telling her. I believe he was getting fired and lying about it. He had a pattern of “quitting” a job and then stay home and drink and watch golf if TV for a long time until he got another job. Repeat. On one of my last days there I remember her coming home from work. She was in the bathroom re-doing her makeup and crying. She asked me if he had been home all
    day drinking. I said yes. How romantic.

    The Bridges of Madison County, a bullshit sugar-coated whitewashed spackled myopic grim fairy tale romanticizing and promoting and cited in defense of cheating, turned out to be just that in real life. Bullshit.

    Vacationing somewhere is totally different from living there. Affairs are a vacation and an escape from reality, totally destructive, dysfunctional and unhealthy and fucked up in all caps, and the people involved just run their programming with their new significant player.

    Seeing reality show up, after a 20 year affair, and the participants arguing about deer repellent, the patterns they played out with their
    former spouses coming home to roost in their new “love” nest, as a spectator inside that nest, was a very powerful lesson for me.

    Affairs are an unhealthy relationship of THREE or more, a situation deliberately chosen and set up by the affair principals to include unwitting participants besides themselves. When the dynamics of that situation change due to discovery, new unwitting participants must be found. A healthy person leaves a relationship and processes it before getting into another relationship. I was taught that in counseling back in the mid-80’s and I agree with that to this day. Which is why I am still on my own since DDay OCT 2017. It’s not time yet.

    Benedict OJ Madoff moved in with his Craigslist “sole mate”, still married to me, not even having begun the divorce process. He ghosted his own daughter, in whose
    life he had been a significant daily presence over ten years since her birth. He was caught on Tinder and continued to seek out illicit massage parlors. The “screwed-up” is strong with this one.

    I don’t believe for one split second that someone who cheats understands the first thing about love or healthy intimate relationships. I’m no master but I know that cheating is proof positive that someone has big problems. And IMHO so does anyone who defends cheating.

    People who lie and lead double lives are Kryptonite, and so are people who in any way enable them.

    • Yes! Thank you for the reality check with what you witnessed first hand. I will ashamed my admit I had been ruminating if FW is really happier living with the trashcan now and has changed for her despite my crying and protestations trying to “make the relationship work” (of course always one sided being the chump who does this).

      I did experience a little schaudenfraude when running into FW’s family member at an event who brought him up (wasn’t even on my radar but I was prepared) and explained that he is REALLY dealing with the consequences of his actions. I didn’t want to ask what they were as it wouldn’t matter and detract from my healing.

      But this just goes to show – two shitheads made for each other and I’m slowly on the road to meh – slowly but surely.

      Also, I can’t remember if it was in this thread or another but I would highly be skeptical of people who excuse infidelity and blame shift. In the case of exFW and his friends/family member who were consoling him during my pickme dance days between me and the OW. Basically telling him he should be with who makes him happy – interesting they would say that given they are both in committed and LTR. It would immensely suck for their wives and children to have a father/husband who has that mindset should the day ever occur. I’m sure their wives/kids wouldn’t agree with that mindset.

      I look at those people leery and sideways now. ????????‍♀️

    • Thank you for the story! You mean that those happy photos of the two walking hand-in-hand on the beach are fake?! I’m incredulous! Well, maybe at the time the photos were taken they were happy, but it has been at least 5 years since the fuckwit and his skank got married. I bet they’re not so happy anymore. My son had told me a couple of years ago, “Trust me, Mom, dad is miserable.” And when my son and his fiancee visited me just a few months ago. His fiancee made sure to tell me that the ‘female’ is always checking the fuckwit’s phone. Hah! She’s got to be miserable!

  • Hi Nancy, I feel your pain. Getting treated this way by a spouse we loved is.. well, it’s like an earthquake and everytime some talking head (who has likely *never* been cheated on that they know of) voices their opinion that the person being cheated on deserved it somehow for being “lesser than”… well, those are the aftershocks. And they are so, so disheartening to hear.

    “She thinks if a wife is a bitch, you can’t blame the husband for cheating”

    You know where I first heard this perspective? From the lips of my husband. We were newlyweds in our first apartment and were watching entertainment television. The anchor was just dropping the story that Halle Berry was divorcing her husband because he had been cheating on her. I gasped and wondered how anyone could cheat on one of the most beautiful women in the world. My new husband observed openly that “it doesn’t matter how anyone looks; if he cheated it means that there’s something going on in that marriage that we don’t know about; something that makes him unsatisfied or unhappy.”

    I was young and in love. I didn’t see that giant reg flag waving in my face. I just thought “Well, thank goodness my hubby is my super satisfied and happy soulmate! That will never be us!” while “hubby” was openly Bridges-of-Madison-County-forecasting the future for me: “Babe, as soon as I determine that you’re a bitch or super boring enough, I’m looking for other options, so you can see how it’s your fault already.” He sounded just like your sister.

    This “well, the victim deserved it somehow” is baked into our culture. I’d cited the prevalence of the “well, what was she wearing/look at her line of work” questioning, but to keep it in the realm of “adultery,” one needs look no further than in the forms of our entertainment: books, tv shows, movies, etc. I’ve lost count of how many times a good story has been spoiled for me because one of the main characters becomes a cheater and falls in love with someone new but they already have a committed partner at home but *don’t worry, it’s okay audience* because the the character being cheated on is deficient somehow (bitchy, abusive, too ditzy, doesn’t meet the protagonist’s needs, selfish, take your pick). The story frames the protagonist’s cheating as unfortunate but noble and we root for him to finally consummate his relationship with his soulmate once the pesky problem of his former relationship is handled.

    So many movies. So many tv shows. It’s demoralizing. And I never used to see it. I, too, would root for the hero to get his “bitchy ex” taken care of somehow, so he could be with the woman of his dreams. …I see it now though. It’s spoiled so many shows for me that I used to like.

    These “well, a person who was cheated on deserved it somehow” aftershocks are everywhere–in our romantic comedies and in the brains of our friends and family. It’s awful but it’s everywhere. My spine gets a little straighter everytime I reiterate that I accept no blame for FW’s choices but it does get tiresome… and some people just don’t want to hear it. So my social circle has shrunk. It’s a lot, lot smaller now.

    CL is right. Vulnerability is terrifying. Some people just don’t want to deal with that. I’m including myself on that list; I lost a good friend because (years ago) she came to me with her trauma and it hit a nerve in me. I told her that I just couldn’t deal with it at the moment; she never talked to me again.

    Vulnerability is not something many of my old friends wanted to associate themselves with. I was just too depressing to be around. Many of them gravitated towards FW and Wifetress. Now, *they* were carefree and fun! Nothing like Debbie Downer Fourleaf over there in the corner, licking her wounds. Some friends “dumped” both of us, the FW and me, because they didn’t want anything to do with cheating or vulnerability.

    The circle grows smaller after trauma. It’s sobering to see who is left standing. Still, we have to stand up for ourselves, even to our family members, and say “No, I do *not* accept the story you are telling me; I did not deserve this.”

    • Personally, I don’t really want to be friends with people that I would not be comfortable with expressing my beliefs, vulnerabilities and what not. I look for honesty and integrity in friends and we can disagree on some stuff but at the core, I would expect they would have the same core values. Anyone who would blame a chump for being a reason for abuse or not forgiving a cheater is not a person I want for a friend of relative (I know we can’t choose family but we can choose how far we let them in circle).

    • I agree 100 percent. Especially with the idea that the media perpetuates this victim blaming.

      I loved ID Discovery but watching it after leaving abuse and infidelity has become problematic. Maybe I am just now noticing it but so many of these stories have infidelity as a key element. The chump gains weight, gets old, is thrifty or boring or some other reason to explain the infidelity. The past couple of mornings I have seen the narrative of the FW “tries to work it out” with the chump but the OW just won’t leave. The OW is such a problem. They never talk about the fact that the FW knows how to end a relationship, they just choose to keep the OW around and lie to the chump. These stories reinforce the idea that chumps deserve to be chumped and ignores that the FW is usually manipulative. They aren’t just “good, hard-working men” who were trapped by conniving OWs and their poor dicks had no choice. Once again, chump is to blame. OW (who clearly shares responsibility) is to blame but FW rarely is. He may be guilty of murder but adultery is justified. It is just really weird to watch these shows now without my previous innocence.

    • My ex thought that ‘Dr. Zhivago’ was such a romantic movie. I never understood how it could be. He was cheating on his wife with “Laura”. What a pig! And unknowingly, I didn’t know it was a red flag either.

  • “…And the only people who are worth spit are the people who aren’t afraid of your pain, who’ll walk into your cracked open heart and not blame you for it.”–LAC;GAL

    It’s a good litmus test. Cherish those people. Chuck the others.

    Apply Marie Kondo principles to relationships: Ask yourself, “Does this person spark joy? “Nope. Well then, unclutter.

    Note: You’re not being mean for doing this. Choosing with whom you want to associate (and to hell with blood/DNA ties) is for your sanity and health going forward.

    Good luck!

  • You win!!! You got rid of the toxic sludge now its time to get rid of anyone that is not 100% on your side, even for a time until they come to their senses and give you the support you fully deserve. Come here for support in the meantime. (hugs).

  • Appearances? These people think you should spackle over it all, get to work learning to live with it, and join their club of marriage for the sake of marriage regardless of how you were abused. No thanks! Good for you! You saw the man behind the mask and chose a better life. A life of value of yourself, boundaries, principles and authenticity. That, my dear, is a life worth living! Surround yourself with peers and people of like-mind. A whole new world awaits you! Wishing you all the best!

    P.S. Let the ex move on with his deaf, dumb, and blind gymnast. That’s all it takes to keep a cheater happy.

  • To some extent, you may indeed have to deal with this the rest of your life, but you certainly can choose who to have in your inner circle. As common as it is, some people still assume that every divorce was unnecessary. You may have to broaden your circle and find other friends. I found some during separation that are truly gold to me, in many ways closer than some of my old friends.

    I certainly had to toughen up and get better at setting boundaries during and after mine because the naysayers came out of the woodwork and still reappear periodically. When that happens, I’m brief but firm and move on. My therapist said though that my choice to stay here and work through the memories and opposition was actually healthier than what my ex did by taking off. Unless you deal with the past, starting over is not necessarily healthy.

  • Google “circles of intimacy”. We don’t have much room and time for many people anyway. It’s challenging to remember that in today’s world with social media, technological advances in communication and transportation, which gives us instant access to zillions of people around the world 24/7/365. It’s easier than ever before in history to justify and rationalize treating people badly because you can so easily move on to jillions more new people to treat badly. And find an echo chamber to agree with bad behavior.

    Having a small circle of safe and trustworthy people, related or not, is just fine. No one has the time required to properly invest in as many relationships as commonly believed. The “circles of intimacy” concept has helped me remember the place a person should occupy in my life, if at all, and stay realistic about how many. They really should have “acquaintance” features on Facebook.

    Of course cheating has happened since the dawn of time, but then, like now, the ability to access other people was an enabling factor. Now I can access new people all day long, thanks to current communication and transportation technology. I have to be the one to set limits and manage the access. The positive of this overwhelming access to other people is that I should have much less fear of being alone if I stay away from people who are hazardous to my emotional or physical health.

    Anyone who is OK with someone who intentionally causes me grievous C-PTSD- inducing harm needs to be OUT of my galaxy.

      • I did not see Benedict OJ Madoff for the predator he is. He was inside that very tiny innermost circle! I was getting my lights punched out by the Invisible Man for 27 years and didn’t know it was him.

        Now that I see, I have used the launch codes and he is interacted with under supervision only as absolutely necessary. Anyone who is friends with him is NOT my friend after what he did.

        Thank goodness I’m not out on the prairie in my sod house with a covered wagon and no wifi!

    • This link is religious, not the one I intended to use. The concept is not affiliated with any religion, so check out different Google links to find one that fits you.

  • I believe that we humans want to live in an orderly logical world, and we seek certainty in an uncertain world. We want to believe “If I do x, y, z, then this will happen.” But the reality is we do not control our world, there are too many variables, and there are no perfect people. Movies and television may create seemingly perfect characters, but the actors who portray those characters are flawed humans, just like all the rest of us. Looking for faults in ourselves does not correlate to causing faults in others. Our FOO and culture may indoctrinate us with faulty thinking, but at some point in our life, as we reach maturity, we have to evaluate our belief system and determine if all our indoctrination is really acceptable to us.

    I have had friends and family members question me about why I did not control my EX (Father of Sons) and stop his excessive drinking, or smoking cigars, or . . . whatever. I just laughed and told them he is an adult, and I cannot change him. I can only choose to leave or stay. Finally, I chose to leave. I have to admit, when I was young, I believed I could help and influence others to make better choices. I suppose it is the teacher who lives inside of me, I want to encourage potential. But a teacher can only offer assistance and encouragement. The student has to want to learn and change. The teacher does not control that.

    I have made some hard choices and narrowed my inner circle. I am still related to, and civil with, most of my family — but I do not seek them out. I have a few good friends, but I don’t live with them. I found that I am happier with less contact, and I have learned to deflect unwanted advice. One of the best things my mother ever said to me when I was young and defiantly pointing out all her parenting flaws was “I look forward to you growing up so that I can watch you be the perfect parent.” Now I can laugh about that, but at that time, and many times when I found myself being a less than perfect parent, those words came to mind.

    The point is, we chumps did not cause our spouses to cheat. They decided to cheat. We then had to decide if that was acceptable, and if not, what we were going to do. Once the milk is spilled, you either clean it up and serve another glass, or you clean it up and decide that you do not need to provide another glass. At some point in my marriage, I decided to stop wasting my groceries. I found myself to be too valuable to waste. It really didn’t matter what he thought, or what anyone else thought.

    I have friends and family members who have stayed in marriages I consider to be awful. I can help them if they choose to leave, but they have to make the choice to leave. Whatever hopium they are smoking, or fantasy world they live in, I do not have the right to make their choice. I do not think any of them are perfect, I can see their flaws clearly and still see the values they have and choose to keep them as friends or family members. I do not blame them for the flawed behavior of their spouse.

    I believe this world would be a better place if more people would mind their own business, and leave mine alone.

  • Hi Nancy!
    I think you are a badass, for divorcing after 50 years you need a lot of guts. You are brave and strong, you are my idol! Maybe the people who don’t agree with your divorce just didn’t have the guts to divorce and are miserable as hell and want you to be miserable as well, They envy you for your courage, you rule! Get some new friends, a gutsy woman like you deserves better than this.
    You are great and you will be OK.
    Love alK

  • By the way, it can be challenging in the case of couples friends.

    If you are supported by, let’s say, the wife, but the husband still pals around with your cheater, that’s a tough call.

    I’m facing this situation now. This woman has stood in my pain (and sat on my porch in freezing-cold weather for socially distant “therapy sessions” where, through tears, I repeated the same stories over and over). God bless her!

    It is odd and uncomfortable that her ex is playing Switzerland.

    They had a wedding recently. Her ex wanted to invite me and my ex and hoped we’d “hug it out.” Obviously, that didn’t happen.

    That last time she and I met, she indicated that she and her husband have arguments about it all. Ah, the wonderful ripple effects of cheating. It affects us, our kids, and our friends.

    • And your friend may engage in pillow talk with her husband who reports everything to his friend (your ex).

    • I also have a friend whose husband spoke with the FW and said to him ‘well these things happen’. She told me this….. Yeah she’s not my friend anymore.

      When we meet up I make it very clear to my friends that if they have seen FW or heard anything about him (it’s a small place I live and everyone knows everyone) then I don’t want to know. If they breach this boundary they’re out! Sounds harsh but I don’t want the drama or gossip. It works for me. Plus my ‘real friends’ will understand this.

    • Actually this is how I gained a close female chump friend.

      We were couple friends with old classmates of FW while I wasn’t close to either . One day the wife phones my ex in tears, reporting about D-day and ex goes all Switzerland on her saying, two sides to each story, you need to think about the kids etc.

      Then hands the phone to me while loudly commenting, German Chump, you talk to her. The woman is crazy!

      Well, as soon as I got that phone in my hands, I shouted, the guy is an a-hole, he will never find a woman like you again and OW is a stupid b…

      Oh my, did I get a lecture from ex on my “judgmental speech”. Over the next year we constantly had arguments for me siding with the bitter bunny who, as he put it, manipulated the children by telling them the reason for divorce.

      Surprise, surprise… my D-day came within a year.

      We have become close friends since her D-day and have been doing family vacations ever since girls-only.

      I never suspected my ex of cheating and I’m glad for every single argument about the other couple I stood my ground in towards my ex and other mutual friends (made into acquaintences by me with my friend’s D-day).

      While walking by my chump friend’s side, in need to educate myself, I discovered CL. One year of reading CL and the wisdom of CN gave me the strength to kick cheater out within 4 hours after a 15 year marriage.

      I don’t trust or associate with cheater apologists- blood related or not!

  • I am SOOOOO grateful to everyone here. I got my finalized divorce papers in the mail two weeks ago and, as warned by The Great Therapist, lots of feelings got re-activated and stirred up. I have been walloped by spells of paralysis where I felt like I just. could. not. move. Except for my TV clicker finger. Frozen on the couch watching the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. Yikes.

    I feel so much better when I come here and read. This site is really and truly essential first aid and medicine for my mortally wounded soul. My spirits get lifted here every morning and I get the courage and strength to get through the day and I heal a little bit.

    If not for you all I would without a doubt still be lost in the Fire Swamp.

    Today I feel especially overwhelmed and defeated and in need of a fairy godmother.

  • Interrupt them by saying “I can’t stand the way you wear your hair, your clothes, the way you’ve decorated your house. Here are the things I think you should do differently”, and then load them up with ideas. At some point they’re going to get offended and you’re going to say, “So how does it feel, because this feels like this every time you open your mouth about my divorce, so shut up.” I have come to the conclusion that the best sentence on the planet earth is the word “No”. Obviously they are too obtuse to get it so you’re gonna have to get rude. If they are still not getting it then you can say, “Shut the fuck up”. That pretty much helps when nothing else does.

  • I have to believe that besides cheating there was other behavior. You know……anger, criticizing, blaming whining in Nancy’s relationship. I think people believe it was a one event, thought, whatever. It’s planning and lying and dangerous.

  • Cut all those people out. I blocked damn near everybody on facebook, blocked phone numbers, I’m not listening to the bullshit anymore.

    I’m one who deserved it for being a “controlling bitch”. I look back on that and I’m floored because I honestly have never met a married man who had as much freedom as my ex husband. He had his own life and I did everything at the home and nearly everything with our son and was there to support my ex in whatever he was doing. He spent years of our marriage working away from us, in different cities, states, or even countries. But I’m controlling? I’ll give two examples.

    1. My ex worked a job where they could only work during daylight hours. I had come home from work on a Monday and was doing things around the house and realized it was dark and he wasn’t home. So I texted him and asked if he was still at work. He said yes, it’s a big job, they had to put up lights and keep working. I felt bad for him. That entire week he was working 12 to 15 hour days for this “big job” and I would hold dinner for him so he’d have a meal when he got home.

    Then Friday comes and my ex comes home and is looking at his time clock and says, “All right! I just barely managed to hit 40 hours this week!”

    It was like a record scratch in my mind. So I asked him, “How do you work 12 to 15 hour days all week and then you only hit 40 hours and you’re surprised by that? How does that work?”

    Never got an answer, got angry faces, him towering over me, got called a controlling bitch, got told I treat him like a child, etc. His friends agree that my asking that question makes me an insane, controlling, abusive bitch. I guess they aren’t familiar with math.

    2. He wanted to buy a house. He wanted to use MY inheritance for the down payment. I said no. I didn’t want to touch that money. So we decided to start saving for a house. (He sucks at saving.) He seemed to ramp up the spending as soon as we agreed to that. He wouldn’t help with finances or budgeting so I’m trying to do it alone while he’s spending. He wants a vacation. Ok, so we decide after the vacation we’re going to really tighten our belts and start saving.

    As soon as we get back from the vacation he spends $300 to buy his adult married brother a giant transformer toy for his birthday. I’m like, “are you serious?!”

    According to him and his friends that translates into I’m such an evil, controlling bitch I won’t even allow him to buy his brother a birthday gift.

    To wrap up a long story, you cannot win with these people. They are on the cheater’s side. Anything and everything you did or will do is wrong to them and everything and anything the cheater does is right and understandable to them. They aren’t your people, cut them out of your life.

    • “To wrap up a long story, you cannot win with these people. They are on the cheater’s side. Anything and everything you did or will do is wrong to them and everything and anything the cheater does is right and understandable to them. They aren’t your people, cut them out of your life.”

      Amen, sister.

      But there are also those for whom it’s not as clear-cut. I mean, they are on your side AND the cheater’s side (the Swiss friends). You didn’t do *everything* wrong, but neither did the cheater. So let’s all just get along and pretend this unpleasantness never happened.

      Cut them, too.

      • I agree with cutting the Swiss friends. I see them as simply on the cheaters side but too cowardly to admit it.

  • Here’s my regular public service announcement for not caring about what other people think. That’s one of my biggest takeaways from the betrayal and the discard and the recovery. DON’T CARE ABOUT WHAT OTHER PEOPLE THINK ABOUT YOUR LIFE. Presuming that none of us are murderers, thieves, or sexual predators, what we choose to do with our “one wild and precious life” is no one’s business but our own. Not your parents. Not your siblings. Not your neighbors. Not your co-workers.

    If you want to keep these pro-cheater people in your life, just do NOT discuss your divorce or any aspect of your marriage or your intimate life with them. You’d be surprised that you are not obligated to tell people what you are doing, what you are thinking, what you are feeling, what you are planning. Save your private thoughts for those who support you. With the rest of them, talk about what the family’s doing or the latest TV show or your pets. This is what we do in our family about politics. No discussion about politics ever at a family gathering. Someone who launched an attack on me on FB came to our reunion ad we had a lovely time. I keep my opinion–that’s she’s a lunatic–to myself. Other than for politics, she’s an OK person for the 3 hours a year I have to see her.

    When I was a mess after D-Day, a close friend of mine told me to “get over it.” Our relationship stopped right there for 8 years. We are just now finding common ground again. It’s not that I held a grudge; it’s that I couldn’t have anyone in my life at that point who was judging me.

    So I would suggest this somewhat radical idea: step back for 6 months. Only deal with people who are truly supportive. You don’t have to ignore these people, but don’t engage in person or on the phone until you are strong enough to tell them, either in word or deed, to buzz off. Once you are on your way to recovery, you can pick those relationships back up, and re-calibrate where they fit in your life.

    • ^^^ Yep, LaJ said it. Part of fixing our pickers is not caring what other people think, and taking a break from folks who judge us for responding in perfectly normal (even healthy!) ways to trauma and abuse.

  • REAL friends don’t make you feel worse. 32 yrs married, divorced almost 6 year now. I’ve been through the gamut of friends & family that were shocked and said horrible UNHELPFUL, victim blame/shame for “giving up”. A wise friend told me to just “take these these people off my plate”. I did, deleted, blocked, moved on from the BS and am much more peaceful.

    These insensitive so called friends don’t want to be us, I get it. So move on fast from them and start your new life. Meh is wonderful.

  • Cheaters need other people to co-sign. Lots of people. Family and relatives especially.

    I don’t see how anything is going to change if I don’t speak up, speak out, and answer back, and not enable. I think if I stay silent I tacitly approve and I’d rather be alone in a lifeboat standing up for what is right than sailing on a ship of fools.

    A little girl, terribly abused, brought herself to the ASPCA in 1874 because there were no laws protecting abused children. Sure as shit her mother wasn’t going to be an agent for change.

    Cheaters and their enablers are unlikely to change. It’s up to the victims of infidelity to facilitate the conversation IMHO.

  • I needed this today, and would like to thank Chump Nation for their emphatic remarks on the necessity of distancing oneself from those who don’t have one’s best interests at heart, whether Switzerland friends, couple friends, or family.

    And Velvet Hammer, thank you for saying what you did about circles of friendship. Between pruning friendships and distancing myself from family members who have shown they have judged me to be lacking in ways I know myself not to be, it seems my circle of friends is down to the most intimate and trustworthy. My social life has declined, and I have sadly had to conclude I can’t count on certain family members I thought I could, but I’d rather feel safe and supported with the few friends I can trust.

    • The losses mount. We grieve not only the past and what we thought we had but also the loss of so many in our social circle.

      You folks on CN have helped fill some of these friendship gaps. So many chumpy shoulders to cry on here! So many wise chumps who amaze me every day with their thoughtful comments and snark. You and CL get me through.

      For this forum, I’m so grateful.

      Thanks to CL for keeping it up.

      • Well said. You know, of all the places I’ve been on the interwebs, this blog has the most intelligent, thoughtful, kind and funny people. There’s also an amazingly low level of conflict compared to anywhere else. CL is wonderful so her blog attracts like-minded people. I’m thankful for every one of you lovely people.

        • I agree about this site. It is like an oasis in the desert. It is so hard to acknowledge the fact that you cannot control other people. Once you realize that, you have no need to get angry over a differing opinion. Also, I think CL has tripled my emotional intelligence.

  • My cheating fuckwit gave me Bridges of Madison County for a Christmas present…I remember looking at him in astonishment and asking, “Why are you giving me a book about adultery?” and he said, “Well, it’s a best seller”… obviously in hindsight, that was not why he bought it.

    • You can’t make this up. Unbelievable.

      Although I did this myself…sort of.

      Weeks before D-day, my husband asked me for a book to read on a fishing trip. I was a bit giddy re this request because he rarely reads, and I really enjoy discussing books with others.

      I grabbed a Philip Roth book from our bookcase. Silly me.

      Here’s part of the plot (from Wikipedia): “He [the protagonist] has been married three times, with two sons from his first marriage who resent him for leaving their mother, and one daughter from his second marriage who treats him with kindness and compassion, though he divorced her mother after beginning an affair with a 24-year-old Danish model, who subsequently became his third wife.”

      Now I understand why my non-reader ex sped through that book–cheater road map! titillation! justification! older man/younger woman! It’s all there!

      Not that any of this made a lick of difference, but still…

        • I know. Before being chumped, I think I liked a lot of shit that I can’t stomach now. I also enjoyed movies where affairs are glorified. And, horror of horrors, I liked Esther Perel.

          It’s really remarkable. I’m a different person.

        • When I first started dating my fuckwit, I threw out a book he had that was written by a cheater describing his long history of extramarital exploits. Fuckwit actually asked me why I disliked the book so much and I had to *explain* why it was morally objectionable to the stupid clod. I’ve done a lof of face palming about chumpy former me. Talk about a red flag!

          I agree that Philip Roth sucks donkey dongs. I read him when I was a teenager and was disgusted with the blatant narcissism and misogyny. His protagonists were boring as well as toxic. So is my ex. Fuck ’em all.

  • I can understand both sides here. My mother left my father after 50 years of marriage. He had a temper, but to my knowledge did not cheat. Perhaps there are things I didn’t know. She sure got his attention by leaving, and he professed his desire to reconcile. He studied the Bible, went to counseling, and never spoke badly of her. But she would make no effort to reconcile, and that was very painful for the whole family.

    So when I discovered my ex’s double life, I prepared to leave. He said he wanted to reconcile. What bothered me more than the adultery was the lying. I just couldn’t fathom spending any more of my life no knowing what was real or not. After I caught him lying during wreckonciliation, I was done.

    Maybe this can help your family understand.

  • Could someone maybe help me with a conflict/confusion I’m having over today’s column and comments?

    I have a dear friend I have been trying to steer over here. Her second divorce decree was just granted. She has been married to two toxic narcissists.

    Thanks to the wisdom of both Chump Lady and the mighty Chump Nation commenters, I have been able to help this particular friend a lot (she’s not the only one I have steered here).

    One of the first things I told her, was that she needs to fix her picker.

    But in talking with her, she saw zero red flags before either marriage.

    In her first marriage, she went directly from living with her family, to marrying at age 20 and changing households to living with her new husband. There seems enough problematic with that situation, not to focus on why she saw no red flags.

    However, the second marriage, she knew the guy for *3 years*, and he was consistently wonderful *before* they got married, and yet, shortly after the marriage, she describes it as if a switch was flipped and he became consistently toxic. She is smart and insightful and strong… but… this has happened twice. Even with hindsight, she can see nothing in the pre-marriage behaviours, that was a red flag indicator of the actual, true nature and personality of the man he actually was.

    Reading today’s comments, including about how the chump’s trust in one’s spouse is expertly, methodically, cleverly, and secretly weaponized against the chump, how the chump is the last to know, etc., I’m suddenly feeling like me telling my friend that she needs to “fix her picker”, seems like a version of “victim blaming”, and telling her “she should have known better”.


    • Some of the narcopaths are adept at hiding their true lack of character until after the ink dries on the marriage license. I’m sorry your friend has been duped twice.

      Personally I don’t think anybody should marry these days until their late twenties. It gives one enough time to let their brain fully form (by age 25), finish a lot of formal education, start a career and get to know the person they’ll have the longest relationship with-themselves. That only addresses her first marriage.

      I don’t what else to say. She’s lucky to have you as a friend, somebody who steered her to this blog and community.

    • I think the idea of fix-your-picker is to sort out what you could do better going forward to protect yourself, since we only control ourselves, and most chumps in hindsight realize they blew past some red flags at some point. That’s not victim blaming, any more than is a recommendation to learn to swim before you take your next cruise.

      That said, I think CL is clear that romantic love always involves some degree of vulnerability. Some cheaters are just really good at mind fuckery.

    • Resident Tengu – It is amazing that you now find yourself in a place that you are a tremendous support for others. I see what you mean that “fix your picker” needs to be carefully promoted so as not to become victim-blaming.

      My counsellor told me a while ago that it’s important to accept that there is no way to realistically full-proof yourself from a cheater. Nothing in life is full-proof. The best that we can hope for is getting reconnected with our own instincts, increase our skills in establishing boundaries, staying solid in ourselves when we are with others (a.k.a. don’t allow yourself to be swept off your feet), take our time, educate ourselves better, know our value and surround ourselves with good people that can help us discern.

      To this day I confidently maintain that there was no way I could have known that my ex would have been a cheater. He demonstrates a lot of conflict avoidant/covert narcissistic tendencies. My family and his own family still shake their heads at what he’s done. It’s actually sad.

      What will be different now, I hope, is that I will be less naive. I have certain red flags that I know to look out for, but there are more flags than that for sure. I know to observe him more carefully in how he conducts himself with different kinds of people. I know that there needs to be some level of disagreement so that I can see clearly what his conflict style is like and how it meshes with my conflict style. I will look at what he does when no one else is looking. I will look at his spending habits and his attitude about money. I will question if he seems “perfect” because I want a human being, not a god. I want a real relationship, not a fairy tale.

      Will this be full proof? No. But in the event that I am in a bad relationship again, I now know to bow out gracefully.

      • For me, ‘Fixing my picker’ meant that I had to fix myself. As you say, I had to establish boundaries. However, before I could establish boundaries, I had to analyze me. What things do I like, what things don’t I like, what did I put up with that I would never put up with again. After I spent four years analyzing me, I came to love myself warts and all. Later, when meeting men as potential dates, it was easier to see the boundaries that I had finally established. I met the fuckwit when I was 22 and married him when I just turned 24. I didn’t even know myself at such a young age. Getting divorced at 54 made me finally take the time to get to know myself. I am worth it!

        • Amazon Chump, well said, because getting to know yourself is an essential part of fixing the picker. I’m 61 and I have no interest in a relationship with a man other than friendship. My work on myself is very hard because my defences have been in place for 60 years or so. My therapist says that at the age of one we sense the emotional stability of our parents, mother in particular, and start wiring our defences for survival accordingly. My mother was emotionally chaotic. I know she loves me but her emotions have always got in her own way and tripped her up. I found that after two unsuccessful marriages, I had/have little idea of who I am. My defences are very strong and I value myself very little. I am a magnet for difficult people in all areas of my life: family, work, relationships, even friends (not so much now). For me to be in a relationship with a man now would be self-sabotage. I was not responsible for the ex’s affair with his soulmate ex gf. He chose that route and he used me shamelessly while he was doing so. However when someone asks you what you need and you have no idea, and when you struggle to articulate your feelings save for in the most basic of words with no nuance, you know that something’s not helping you. That work in therapy, painfully slowly, starts to make a difference. If with the right therapist of course: I’ve been lucky in that respect.

    • Resident Tengu, sometimes people don’t want to be helped, and you have to respect her choice even if that means voicing your opinion and then stepping back a little from the friendship.

      Someone can be smart, insightful and strong and still lack a healthy sense of self or have learned behaviours that make them a target for narcissists. Narcs have excellent radar for potential victims.

      Whatever the reason, until people want to be helped, you can’t help them.

  • Honestly, maybe people are afraid that they cheated and their spouse will leave them, or they have never been cheated on, so are oblivious to the mind-blowing life altering pain that is heaped on the non-cheating spouse, or partner; cause no friend would expect another friend to endure the immense pain and reality adjustment that would occur if one remains with a cheater.

    I had a good, church-going friend who chastised me for wanting to divorce my cheating husband. She said he was such a great guy, and that maybe I was imagining it, or maybe it was a one time “mistake” that he made. Lol. Fifteen years later, and 15 more years of his cheating, he finally left me for a flight attendant that he worked with. It was never my imagination, but my mind was nevertheless blown by 20+ years of marriage to this man who fooled everyone and made me think I was crazy to distrust him, and not forgive him each time I caught him. People still think he’s the “good” guy. He is awful. What’s more awful is that I didn’t value my own judgement, I could have saved myself decades of heartache for me and our children. Find a better friend group, or tell your friends that you don’t value their opinion about your marriage.

    • Your church going “friend” doesn’t live with your spouse, does she ? She can shove her ignorant, insensitive up her arse.

    • Alas. Wisdom comes with age. That church-going friend just spouted what she thought was right. We could have saved ourselves decades of anguish had we left sooner, but who knows what we might have ended up with had we divorced way back then? For all we know, we might have ended up in worst straits. But one movie line that I quote often is “Tomorrow is another day!” I got out of jail and I’m now free! I survived one of the worst traumas of my life.

  • Nancy- Perhaps it’s your mature age, but I think you’ve inspired the most succinct response to these people: “That’s nonsense.”

    That response addresses the actions of the cheater and the speculations of the questioner.

    • “That’s nonsense.” What a good comeback!! “That response addresses the actions of the cheater and the speculations of the questioner.”

  • Ugh, this letter hurts to read. It may be easier said than done, but anyone who would talk to you this way or accuse of these things or not support you through this most difficult time of life, should be cut from your life. It’s hard to enforce others respecting you if you don’t respect yourself, and a first step to complete self respect is to eliminate terrible, mean, toxic people from your life.

    You find these people unbearable because they are mean to you. You need to stop them from being mean to you by denying them access to you. Their loss. Your gain is that you ditch toxic relationships and make more time for better, more fulfilling and reciprocal relationships.

    It is especially painful when a sibling treats you this way. I’m sorry you have to go through that.

    • You can always fight passive-aggression with passive-aggression. Anybody who has helpful suggestions about how you seem to be mismanaging your life … just respond “I really appreciate your input. I respect the decisions you have made in YOUR marriage, and if you want to overlook infidelity that’s between you and your husband, and I won’t judge you for it. It doesn’t work for me, though.”

      • “I really appreciate your input. I respect the decisions you have made in YOUR marriage, and if you want to overlook infidelity that’s between you and your husband, and I won’t judge you for it. It doesn’t work for me, though.” Another great comeback! I’m going to have to write them all down and affix them to my bathroom mirror. Once I memorize a few, I’ll be on guard!

  • Your “friends” sound like some of the women from my stbx’s hometown and a lot like my mil. When I had my big d-day, my mil said “the children {insert dramatic expression and sigh here}…. you can’t leave him it is awful for the children.” I was so abused by him and his family at the time I didn’t realize how this put the burden on me, not her scumbag of a son who enjoyed playing hide the sausage with his ho-worker. How about what he did was so awful and abusive?! The she said “has he told you the truth?” I said “no” and she replied “maybe one day he will”. This reminded me so much of your story, that your ex finally told you the truth, as if that is some glory for the cheater to “confess their sin.” It’s pure garbage, these idiots try to package as a gift. I’m glad for you that you are stronger than these “friends” you currently have they sound like weak women that have been brainwashed by abusive men. Find new friends, almost anyone sounds more interesting than these one dimensional humans.

    • “Maybe one day” my FW would “remember” what he’d done (!!!) but until he did, I was supposed to STFU. His own mother (who was a chump, but FIL was a coward, didn’t tell her and now she’s dead) told me that I had to “really, really think about what others would think” if I left after DD#2. When I replied that I did not give any fucks, she said “Well, sweetheart, that’s why he stepped out. You don’t care about what people think.” Whhhaaa??

      These people are the worst. Get away. NC anyone who says anything outside a small confined “good for you”. Because, fuck those myopic ridiculous narrow-minded toads. They don’t know until they get their own dose.

  • You need some stock answers to repeat to the dolts:

    “Lying and cheating are not acceptable actions regardless of the circumstances”


    “Cheating on a partner is a garbage move, and let’s leave it at that”

  • Nancy, just say, “People who have a problem with my actions tend to do so out of fear. Might it be because it’s too close to home? I don’t associate with liars and cheaters. Do you?”

  • If some people are anti-religious and have a problem with the word “adultery”, that’s on them. Just more people to weed out, in addition to the FWs. It’s no reason to censor yourself.

    Also, OP Nancy, do you think it is a coincidence that you have non-supportive family members, as well as a FW husband? Of course not. Your family of origin is where you learned to tolerate mistreatment, and you carried that propensity into your marriage. Time to stop accepting mistreatment from them, too.

  • “Another tactic when people say stupid shit is to ask them to repeat it. Again. Slower. No, again. Until they hear the stupid. Or realize you’re jujitsu-ing their mindfuckery.”

    This just might be the best thing ever! My only concern is that the type of person who victim blames will be too stupid to understand what you’re doing. Regardless, they don’t deserve your energy, much less your attention.

    Go ChumpLady!!

  • Its amazing how telling the truth, publicly calling out abuse and removing yourself from the abuser affects the people around you. It really does show you what you are made of, what your FOO are made of, and what your friends are made of.

    I’ve changed my thinking about so many important things – including my own value – since I divorced my gxh. Its not surprising that my relationships with others from that part of my life ended or changed significantly too.

    The best people stayed with me and some new people came – and will come – into my life. The people who showed they weren’t fully in my corner are either out of my life (friends) or right at the periphery (family).

    Its pretty liberating to be able to be truthful enough and comfortable enough in your own skin to accept without rancour (I’m working on it) that not all friendships are healthy or forever, not all family members have your back, and that honouring your parents doesn’t mean agreeing with them or always pleasing them.

  • Years ago when I was pregnant and sharing my joy on social media, a woman who I thought was one of my best friends, who I had known since we were in kindergarten together, who I had lost touch with in college years but reunited with through the power of the internet, texted me a proposal. She was getting super pushy about wanting her and her boyfriend to visit me. We lived in different states but had visited each other over the years. But something seemed off. So I was non-committal. But she kept texting and being pushy. I kept waving it off.

    Then one night, she texted that she and her boyfriend were into 3 ways and found it very exciting that I was pregnant and wanted me to join them. I was floored. I said no and broke contact with her. I will go to my grave never speaking to her again and I don’t care. I could not have a friend who considered what she was proposing OK. Ever. Even once getting past how gross the idea was to me, she was suggesting that I cheat on my husband with her and random dude. I could not remain friends with someone who thought that was OK. Even if I had heard she proposed that to a different married person than me, I would have reacted the same way. That is not a person I want in my life. Period.

    More revolting? I had told klootzak about all of this and that I wanted nothing to do with her. He remained friends with her on social media. About a year later, I came across a chat he was having with her. He had oddly been pushing me to forgive her and be friends again! To be clear: he wanted a woman who – with her boyfriend – had propositioned his wife for sex to be friends with his wife who was not interested at all. And in this chat, she was saying that she didn’t know what she was saying at times because she used drugs and that she thinks it was her boyfriend who took her phone and was texting me that. Ummm… but she would have gotten on the plane and come to see me with him and participate? And all those texts and pestering me that she wanted to visit was all him? And let’s back up to the she was ON DRUGS part? But FW was saying to her that I was uppity and cut people off and throw them out and he could not convince me to forgive her. Look… I have boundaries. Many were crossed in that situation. And even if I believed half her crazy explanation, I don’t keep friends who are druggies, either! So NO! And why would any spouse be advocating for a person like this to be forgiven by his wife as though all she did was well and good?

    All to say that there are friends – and family – who you can know almost your entire life who one day you realize are shitty. You can enforce boundaries and keep them around or kick them to the curb. Me? I don’t keep people around who don’t value marriage like I do. I don’t keep drug abusers in my life. If their beliefs and opinions are offensive to me, they’re out of here.

    My social media list of friends is much smaller than most. It has never exceeded maybe 70 people and of those, the majority are acquaintances. I have 2 good friends in my day to day life who live close. I have a network of maybe 5 more trusted friends across the country. This small tribe shares my values. Four of them actively encourage me to divorce klootzak and support my efforts to do so. Not one of them victim blames and never has.

    I think that if you were married 50 years, you are of a generation age wise that I would expect to have firmer boundaries about cheaters. The fact that they are wishy washy tells me that they are either spackling their own situations or that your divorce makes them feel vulnerable. I read somewhere that people who get divorced sometimes follow in the footsteps of friends who did. Having a good friend get divorced makes it more acceptable and something to be considered among long married people. Because you were married so long, maybe they thought your marriage was rock solid and an example to them. And now that you have divorced, it leaves them feeling shaky. Wow! You mean she had choices all along? She had the power to get rid of a FW? It sucks the wind out of some people. They have to apply some kind of construct to it. And they are people afraid to rock the boat. Maybe they figure, oh hell, she spent 50 years with FW, why leave now? It unnerves them and makes them uncomfortable. It seems like a lot of work or drama. It makes them realize their own spouses might choose to leave. So they spit out some nonsense they absorbed from a Clint Eastwood movie and it makes them sleep better at night. They are telling themselves a story because it is unthinkable to them that you would uphold your boundaries and deal breakers. They know damn well FW is a FW. The problem for them is not his behavior because that behavior didn’t hurt them and they obviously don’t care enough about how YOU were hurt. They care about how you reacted. Divorce! Unthinkable! The stigma! You upset their apple carts. FW’s behavior doesn’t bother them because oh it could never happen to them.

    Distance yourself from these people, at the very least. You are building a better life for yourself and if these people are not with you, they have nothing to offer. If they don’t come around, they are missing out. But if over the years you realized you didn’t need their friendship and wondered why you kept them around, toss their butts in the bin with FW. Time to clean house.

  • Some people don’t like the truth. They would rather bury it and pretend as if all is OK. I would ignore them. Find a generic statement you can live with to tell them and let it go. I would also consider letting these people go as friends. They’re not friends if they’re treating you this way, all they’re doing is propping up your cheating spouse.

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