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‘Weaponized Incompetence’

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bitch cookieSo, I was reading an article about this woman who created a TikTok video of elaborate instructions for her husband to go grocery shopping. The video went viral, which then sparked a debate about “strategic” or “weaponized” incompetence.

“Actually, what this husband is doing is exaggerating their own incompetence and exaggerating their own incapability to force the labor that they don’t want to do … onto their partner,” he suggested.

A husband tricking his wife into holding his hand through an activity he should be able to do likely results in her taking it on herself and absolving him of the responsibility, @notwildlin explained, adding it’s “an investment in the man’s future self.” In theory, it will both let him off the hook of contributing to the household and will set the bar so low that anything he does contribute is seen as “incredible.”

Or, as we say around here, Bitch Cookie!

Yes, strategic incompetence is a thing! The article I link to goes on to discuss it as a toxic power dynamic beyond gender roles and household chores and brings up race. But you could definitely apply it to cheater/chump dynamics as well.

Oh, you fein an inability to do your therapy homework? Let me underline those articles for you. I can download the audio book! Oh, you can’t take your children for the last 7 weekends, but you will this week? Let’s throw confetti! Wow! What a kibble of caring!

Oh, and what are RIC euphemisms other than weaponized incompetence — WAYWARD? FFS. Yes, you didn’t cheat, you just incompetently navigated yourself toward another set of genitals.

CN, you got any strategic incompetence to report?

TGIF!

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Tracy, that cheater weaponized skid marks. No amount of cajoling, requesting or instructing mattered. He wiped his ass across the sheets as as “act of exuberant defiance”. Now I only hope he adorns that whore’s sheets.

    • I would call that act “exuberant abuse.” That is so wrong. I’m really sorry you had to deal with that. Good riddance!

      • My ex couldn’t figure out how to wipe his ass properly until after he embarked on his first affair. He later told me he “finally realised it was gross”. Uh huh, right. More like she kicked his ass out of bed in horror and wasn’t willing to tell a grown man to take a shower and sign on to be his new mommy.

    • Cheater-bait whore (*gag!*) did you a favor. That is so dis(*gag!*)gusting(*gag!*) What a psycho he is, my god.

      How many of us here are shaking our heads remembering the crap we put up with from low-value partners, and thinking, my goodness, thank THE lord (s)he is not my problem any more. Ugh. The absolute gas-lighting and confusion. No more guilt over brewing resentment. She can have him! No trade-backs!

      • Sooo yes!!! It’s taken a while, but I really do think how lucky I am to be rid of the trash. I just wish it hadn’t taken so long. What a waste of energy that was!

      • Lol, I was thrilled when my ex got involved with a colleague and finally decided he was ready to take on the world with his new mommy. Turns out his picker was every bit as bad as mine and his new mommy turned out to be a bipolar bunny boiler. I was so mad when he got scared and broke things off with her. Couldn’t even have the decency to glom onto someone even half way sane!

    • My FW would “forget” to flush the toilet after having a bowel movement. He was the epitome of a passive aggressive covert narc.

      • Mine did the same. And started leaving the loo door open. This from a man who had not been seen by me without his underpants for years 🤢

        • It’s psychopathic level abuse. He is so gross. I am actually happy for you. Obviously it would be better if he wasn’t a disgusting pig, but he doesn’t feel like it. Ew. Good riddance!

      • Mine too. He once went ballistic at me about a turd that had sat in the toilet all day so I asked him how come it had a cigarette butt floating on it (I’ve never smoked). Oh and how about snot rockets on the shower wall every day!

      • Ugh, my ex FIL started to “forget” to flush his poop every single time he visited us! Everyone I talked to about his endearing new habit had a good chuckle and told me I was overreacting to think he did this on purpose. OK so how come he only “forgot” to flush his poop when he visited our home? Never once in the 25 years I knew the bastard did he forget to flush in his own home or at vacation rentals? My ex did similar types of gross shenanigans to get under my skin. Apple, tree and all that.

  • I don’t know if this counts but my ex never once in 19 years made food not even frozen pizza or make me a cup of tea . He wouldn’t do any cleaning either

    He clearly stated when I met him he couldn’t cook and he doesn’t drink tea so he doesn’t know how to make it .His excuse for not cleaning was he moved in with me and I did all the cleaning alone before him so what’s my issue ??

    So I just did all the cooking and cleaning . That was thrown in my face many times even on D Day

    It was either I control everything and I won’t let him do any cooking or cleaning ( he was 45 and I prevented him seemingly) or all I do is cook and clean and throw it in his face ( I think that was the time 10 years ago when I told him I’d had enough and he had to help clean) so yeah either way I can’t win .

    Still goes round in my head

      • He’s still bone lazy that doesn’t change. He may have made a temporary fake effort to fool the AP but he’ll always be a lazy selfish bum. Also, AP’s in particular females, love to show the cheater how nice it will be to live with them and bend over backwards waiting on them hand and foot, making life very easy. Once snared the laziness will get old real quick.
        Honestly I think being selfish and lazy are great indicators of a future cheater. It seems to be (one of) a common denominator.

        • Oh, yes, they do that. Mine pretended to be responsible for gardening, for example, in texts to OW, and before that, to our mutual female friends. I’m sure he has all the usual excuses and distractions again. At first I was so offended. Now? Not my circus, but it’s funny as hell

    • Yup, we’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. “I left you because you served bagged salad at supper” is just as easily exchanged for “I left you because you served fresh salad all the time when you know I prefer bagged salad.” It’s not much different from “I did what I did because you cooked and cleaned” works just as good as “I did what I did because you don’t cook and clean.”

      It’s all the same, all pointless, and all aimed at the chump: look at what *you* did to drive me away (FW fills in the blank with, literally, whatever the chump did in life).

      My FW wrote to GF#1 that I had dinner ready on the table for him every day when he got home at 5pm and it was “driving him crazy!!! My life is so predictable and boring!!!” he said to her.

      If I did not have dinner ready every evening when he got home he would still be writing his secret girlfriend emails but instead it would likely be about how little I cared about him because I never had dinner ready.

      It’s never about what we do, what we serve, or how much or little we cook and clean.

      • Exactly!!!! I would come home from work and get some food on the table. Also I would do grocery shopping early on the weekend and then get the house cleaned. His complaint to Schmoopie was “We never do anything because she is either working, or cooking or cleaning the house”. Yep, it sucks to have a routine life where both parties are working and one did not help.

        • Sometimes he would say I was too much the alpha female, other times he would say I was not a go-getter

          He really should have decided which one I was

      • AGREEED!!!

        I was “too much” about the [kids, business, social engagements, school activities/volunteering, parties, my family/his family, the house (with 5 kids), my job/his job] to attend to his “needs”. So, he got some GFs. Oh, right. That is TOTALLY my bad: giving a shit about “our life” is less important than getting strange. Got it.

        I had A LOT of IC to put my head back on that his choices were not about me. I could have been doing.all.of.the.things.just.so; I would still fail to measure up to HIS (unsaid, ever-changing) expectations. I heard something yesterday on NPR which angered me and at the same time resonated (the context of the story): the reason the criticisms didn’t make sense is because they did not belong to me. Whoa.

        In looking back, the need for acceptance by this FW outweighed my sense of “fuck you”. No longer. GR and Meh by the pound. #whateverman

        • My STBX is always changing how HE wants things done yet never shares the changes. So then he has a reason to bitch even though I did it the way he told me to the last time.

          One of his daughters kept losing friends because she made everyone else play the exact way SHE wanted them to play and was always changing the rules to her made up games AS they were playing her made up games.

          Now we all see where she gets it from. Once again, the apple doesn’t fall far, does it?

  • Mine could not be bothered to cook, clean or otherwise contribute to household duties such as participating in child care unless somebody was watching who would praise him for his effort.

    If his parents or family members were coming over he could cook and clean better than me! But he needed the gold star of approval and lots of acknowledgment for his efforts. Impressing me was not a priority.

    He left his shoes and socks in the living room every evening when he came home from work. In front of the couch we’re he took them off. I would throw the socks down to the basement for laundry and put his shoes in the front hall closet. Each morning he would retrieve his shoes from the closet and put them on for work.

    After years of asking, I gave up. One day I was busy with sick kids. I did not put the shoes away. He lost his everlasting mind because his shoes were not in the closet where he left them!!!

    I pointed out that they were exactly where he left them – in front of the couch. He called me a liar and threatened me. Scared me enough that I always put them away from that day forward. Should have left him then, rather than stick around another 10 years 😢

    • YES. My SBXH also would perform if people were coming to visit, especially my mom who is very good at giving out kibbles. But was he willing to impress me by actually being helpful when no one else was around? Heck no. However if other people were around, he was helpful husband of the year.

    • Yes cheater was a lot more helpful when we had visitors. For some strange reason I never caught on earlier but I thought he was just untrained/didn’t see when things needed doing like I did when he wouldn’t help with any housework or childcare (his mother did everything for him) but now that I’ve moved into another room and not ‘getting over it’ like I had previously (I’d get wound up and blow up but cool off after a while and default back to the status quo) suddenly he’s a well organised and thoughtful domestic machine. The toilet roll are mysteriously replaced in the holder the house is vacuumed when I’m out, the bathrooms wiped down. I actually find it more insulting, it’s not that he wasn’t capable it’s just he was happy to feign ignorance and let me do it all. I voiced this to the friend the other day and she actually had the gall to suggest I give him credit for trying to make the separation more amicable but she understood if it was easier to be an angry person. I gave her the gift of no reply to that one but also instantly thought yeah bitch cookie .?

      • And bitter bunny or not, I don’t see it as him doing the decent thing, I see it as the last ditch efforts of a manipulative fucker.

        • And lying in til all hours in the morning especially on the weekends while I looked after the kids. When I called him on it he grinned and said yeah fair play as though he’d been caught playing some practical joke. They really do like to rip people off.

  • A comedian who shall not be named did a famous bit about fathers being the geniuses of the house, “. . . because only people as intelligent as we can fake such stupidity.”

    But hell yeah — strategic incompetence in my marriage, camoflaged by the phrase, “Well that’s YOUR job anyway.” There was never any indication of what HER jobs were, just constant reminders that anything she couldn’t do,m or didn’t want to do, was my job.

    • My ex wife said once “I work 8 hrs a day, I am to tire to clean” while I worked 10-12 hr days and cleaned the house and took care of the yard. I was just asking for help. Plus I got so much “It’s your job to do…”.

      • Same here. XW was always “too tired to….(insert household/parenting chore here)” despite the fact that she worked three days a week. The other two days were for “recovering and relaxing” and the weekend was for “sleeping late and taking afternoon naps”. Funny since weekends for me were for doing the yard and going to the grocery store.

        I also find it ridiculous that guys like the one in the original post have conditioned society as a whole to accept the incompetent man. There are countless times when I take my kids on vacation by myself that I hear some version of “How sweet, a dad spending some alone time with his kids” from some random women who happen to be nearby. Well, bless their hearts. I mean, I get it, they may find it genuinely heartwarming to see an invested father, but that just means that their expectations for most fathers are incredibly low. This is pervasive and completely normalized in tv and advertising. People should expect better than that from husbands/fathers.

        • Absolutely! My FW passively aggressively helps but keeps reminding me he only wanted 2 (we have 5 boys-surprise——-you can get pregnant from having sex). He wouldn’t get a vasectomy because he struggled imagining all the dead sperm! 😳. So here we are and he gets to have the choice to abandon us all. Better holes? Really? Disgusting! This generation needs fathers and respectable role models. $:@/&;$;@:@&:&:

    • I’ve gotten to hear, for years, the line, “Since no one ELSE WILL DO IT!” -in regards to yard work. Which is astounding, considering how much of MY time off I’ve spent pulling and digging out weeds from ‘His’ yard. He’ll literally stand there, staring at the yard, complaining about the dandelions yet not do anything about them because I’m the one that, “does it so well – I can’t get them out by the root like you can.”

      I paid ALL of the rent, utilities, gas, water, trips to pick up his kids 2 states away, groceries (and going to the store to get said groceries-his way of ‘shopping’ is to wander around the house whining that “we” need to go shopping but really that just means that he needs Me to go shopping because he refuses to do it himself), etc. for 4.5 yes before he finally got a job. Then get to hear about how “lazy” he thinks I am and how I just sit on my ass all the time.

      One day, he was trying to get me to call out of work when I was out of PTO and got angry with me for going to work anyway instead of staying home and doting on him. So I threw it back at him and said, “I have to WORK. You know – since NO ONE ELSE IS GOING TO DO IT!!!!”
      It took him 2 more years, after that altercation, to finally nail down a job.

      • The royal “We” translates to the chump does it and the bully will probably criticize how it’s done. 🤦‍♀️

  • Bill Cosby said that comedic line about “genius” incompetent fathers. Any surprise that such a perspective would come from him?

  • Oh dear God, yes. Being a serial Chump, more than one.

    And I take full responsibility for my part in this. I welcomed it.

    We’d barely have had our second date and I’d be picking up his dry cleaning, making him snacks, and cleaning his living room.

    The more ‘needed’ I felt, the harder it was to leave. Here, let me adjust that pillow for you! Let me spend most of my time and energy trying to anticipate your every need and wish!

    The two principal drivers were my upbringing and the need to hide from dealing with my own shit.

    Mr Hapless Male made such a fascinating project. Such a big, big distraction from the difficult subject of myself.

    It’s taken quite some years of conscious deprogramming to get to where I am now (much less doormat, much more self aware).

    • “The two principal drivers were my upbringing and the need to hide from dealing with my own shit.

      Mr Hapless Male made such a fascinating project. Such a big, big distraction from the difficult subject of myself.”

      I did this over and over, until I finally didn’t.

    • A sad wry nod to what I used to do. Fukk them for taking and not reciprocating. I didn’t know there were predators/parasites/vampires/intentional abusers/serial cheaters liars frauds sad sausages. Now, there’s no doubt.

      Reciprocity is my measure of character and integrity for all my relationships – family included. x is in the rearview.

    • I ended up staying way past my expiration date from worrying that he’d end up homeless since he didn’t work.

      So stupid.

      And then he finally got a job and ended up cheating with his Troll coworker that hunts for married men.

      Sooooo glad I worried so much about him not making ends meet so many times before. 🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄🙄

    • Thank you, yes.

      My ex and his issues and his foo issues were my project for the whole 28 year marriage.

      My biggest regret is not doing more for myself and working on my own issues, and growing my own life and health.
      He was too easy an excuse and certainly a distraction.
      I would have been in a much better place when his unsolvable emotional problems did us in. Or, I could have left earlier in the marriage.
      My advice for younger women is always put your oxygen mask on first!

      • All I learned about life, I learned from air hostesses.

        I try to encourage priests who do marriage preparation to be aware of issues like this when they’re talking to the couple – and that just because people are engaged and have booked the church, they DON’T have to go ahead with it.

        I ask them to remember to say to the couple, ‘Be aware of your nearest exit, which may be behind you’.

      • Meanwell – probably won’t see my reply, but I could’ve written your post, verbatim.

        His issues – check
        FOO issues – check

        My project…I wanted to “save” him from himself – ugh

        No regrets, I have time, but yes, I certain wish I’d done more for myself in terms of connections and people.

        “unsolvable emotional problems” – check, check, check

        I see SO much of what I’m dealing with now between my 30 yo niece and her FW husband who’s already had an EA. Sadly, he manipulated her into starting a family, something she’d said she didn’t want, and while she seems happy, and her son is a little joy, hope she wakes up sooner rather than later and runs like hell.

  • Rev. Cheaterpants always asserted that my standards were too high and that I was too controlling. He asserted these things after my reasonable requests such as vacuuming along baseboards. His trademark–unfolded dishtowels crammed into the drawer–was an act of passive aggression. I hired a cleaning lady to help out because I also worked full time and couldn’t keep up (and thankfully he supported that). I did all of the cooking and he always claimed he was incapable, so why even bother. That pattern has continued to this day, as my children are asked to cook at his home. He can only cook noodles and the occasional egg. My kids love my cooking, even if it’s a simple meal, though they prefer I not cook pasta because they eat so much of it at dad’s house. 🤣

    It wasn’t after I divorced and started dating again that I saw men, with my very own eyes, doing their own housework and cooking their own food. My boyfriend of 19 months keeps his beautiful home clean as a whistle without anyone’s help. It’s so refreshing to see competent men.

    It’s so refreshing to no longer have to clean up after my ex. I found that my housework decreased, rather than increased, when I divorced.

    • Housework DECREASED! YES! That was so striking to me after I left. No more giant messes of his to clean! I remember once my then-husband was wandering around eating waffles with syrup on them–which was annoying me already–and then I saw him finish the waffles and just drop the plate right where he was standing on the carpet. I mean, he literally finished the last bite and dropped the plate and fork facedown on the carpet and walked away!

  • I went and bought expensive bed sheets to cater to his desire for luxury items. He poured bleach all over them while ‘being helpful’ by laundering them. He used the beautiful hand towels his mother bought me to wipe out a cast iron skillet. Oh, and, here’s a gem. I had the opportunity to model for Duluth Trading, and got to fly out to unbelievably beautiful Washington state for four days. While there, I had the opportunity to hook up with a member of the crew. The perfect, secret, one-time affair! We had chemistry, he was totally my type…. I turned him down. Two days later I got home to a bathroom covered in shit. It was spattered all over the walls, the floor, everywhere. I ended up having to clean it. While I was across the country thinking of him, he was spraying shit all over the bathroom and deliberately left it. What is wrong with these people?

    • God lord Ragna he was awful, glad you are free.
      Reminds me of coming home with our first born to a sink of dirty dishes. I remember thinking ‘What have I gotten myself into’

      • My mother recounts coming home from the hospital with my newborn baby sister to a bed with no sheets on it. My dad was thoughtful like that. /s

        • Lady B; Adelante; very few things make me as punchy as men who deliberately mistreat the woman who just birthed their child. It takes a special kind of horrible to be that way.

      • OMG this! I’d had a C-section so I was in the hospital for 4 days/3 nights. Ex asked the nurses for a lounger bed and insisted on staying with me and our son the entire time, only going home for a quick shower. The nurses were so impressed with his dedication to his family and told him so every time they checked on me or the baby. I came home to a dirty house, stinky garbage, empty fridge and piles of laundry.

      • I brought our firstborn home to the stinking mess of a party he had the night before. When I saw and smelled that, I felt crushed and to “comfort” me he said, “Don’t worry, it can wait until you feel better”. So, lots of guys are mean like this eh?

      • I just dropped back in to see the follow up comments, good lord what some of us put up with from these selfish assholes after having their children. Adversity sure builds character as the people on here are some kick ass big hearted folk.
        Just need to add to my story also – had forgot, we had to stop at a mechanics on the way home from the hospital to get them to fit the baby seat in the car properly. I had attempted it but had serious baby brain and was 9 months preggers. Dick head was supposed to do it before picking me up but couldn’t as he has the mechanically appitude of a chicken. I remember sitting in the passenger seat holding my son and the mechanic looking at my like ‘your partner is a fuckwit, what are you doing with him’

      • Oh wow Lady B that happened to me too!! Our first son was born in hot and steamy Japan, and I was in the hospital for a week, when I walked in and saw the big furry green heap in the sink I didn’t at first realise it was the washing up from our last meal together!
        There was also a hole in the wall, apparently he had punched it in a rage. I never found out why (or perhaps didn’t enquire too closely, I don’t remember…) but now realise it was because he never really wanted actual kids, just the Waltons vibe in his home.

    • Ragna, I hear you on that stuff, although literal shit takes the cake. X was constantly using the nicest dish towels to wipe out the greasy blackened cast iron pan, or the most vile greasy cooking mess. Ruined towel after towel, without a single care, despite my reasonable explanation(s) over years about alternatives he could use, why I wanted just a few dish towels kept nice, etc. He broke every wine glass from our wedding set, but not the set he brought into the marriage, he broke the beautiful ceramic decorative plate my daughter made me, but not the one she made HIM, and he was SO feminist and enlightened because he washed his own laundry. Right dude, I refused to do your laundry when we moved in together, because I refused to have his skid marked tidy whities in with. my clothes… of course, I did ALL the household and child laundry, plus my personal clothing. Just not his personal clothing. I was so tired from the chaos and the word salad, it was just easier to not think about this too deeply.

      • I couldn’t do my stbxh undies and socks either. I would do anything else. He used to brag to me how he liked everything smart and clean and ‘top class’. After a couple of years of non of that he told me his friends said that he became scruffy and unkempt since getting with me. Je would also brag about how much he was a perfectionist at work and how they all loved him. At home though on the rare occasion he did help around the house it was a ‘it will do’ job. I saw the red flags when we first met, living with his mum and had lost his licence for drink driving a second time. Such a catch. I don’t know how I fell for it. 12 years of guilt trips and gas lighting. Then was discarded for someone else like I was nothing. And it was all my fault. I was too dependant on him. My mental health was too much. We had nothing in common. That he hadn’t been single since he was 13 and needed to try it, The best being because I “wouldn’t get drunk with him” the 5 times a week he did, I preferred to be sober when having to get up in the morning. It’s been 8 months since he walked out of the family home and into the home of the other woman and he says he’s found his soul mate. (Again). He used that line on me. I’m finally starting to see light now. Me and the children moved onto a new home (he took all the deposit money) but we are settled and non of us are as anxious or treading on egg shells.

    • You know who sprays shit all over a bathroom ? A patient in a psychiatric hospital. A prisoner during a riot. Oh, and my cat who I locked in the bathroom overnight before a procedure because I knew he would run off if I tried to put him in the carrier the morning of the vet visit. He knew what was planned.

  • My x was the master of not being a “planner”—he couldn’t plan a dinner out, a vacation, a movie, a birthday present, or even purchase clothing for himself. I had to arrange our lives completely. If he didn’t like my plan, he would refuse to go (“I don’t like watching the super bowl at their house, I’ll stay home at watch it alone. You explain to everyone why I’m not there”, again). Now that he’s a swinging single in his mid-50s, he takes his hookers to the restaurants I picked out, to places we went, buys her presents and arranges mani/pedis for groups of strippers. He shops for his and her clothes. Suddenly he’s a planner!

    During the stupid summer I spent pick-me dancing, he sat on the couch my entire birthday. No gift, no plans. Finally 20 minutes before the mall closed, he shot off and bought me the most God awful ugly, insanely expensive earrings. Nothing like I’d wear. He knew I’d return them (1. Because they cost a fortune and 2. Because they were ugly) and I think he took great pleasure in the fact that I’d sheepishly go into store to take them back. For dinner that night, he asked at 6:30 where I wanted to go. It was the first covid summer, restaurants were on shortened schedules and at less than half capacity. We drove to restaurant after restaurant trying to find an open one. The one where we ate was horrible (which explains why it had seating available). The entire meal, he kept saying “oh, now I’ll get blamed for not making plans. You know I’m not a planner”.

    I could go on and on. This year on my birthday, two months post mediation, he took his hooker to the restaurant I took him to for his 50th—very expensive. He claims he didn’t know it was my birthday… after knowing me for 35 years.

    • My Cheater wanted kids and a wife who would work to balance the budget because he refused to live within his own means. I worked weekends (12 hour night shifts) to maximize income and minimize childcare. He griped that “we didnt go anywhere”. I assured that we could but extracting me from work and kids from activities required time and planning. I suggested he choose a date nd I would work on it.

      He yelled “Im, not going to PLAN!!!” (as if plan were a dirty word). He likely used it to justify fucking around. Add to the mix that he often went into rages when we travelled – terrifying all of us…we got to a point of not wanting to go anywhere with him.

      • Ex would get the pre-travel rages too and it would put us all on edge before we even left home. In in our desire to salvage the trip we’d spend the entire time bending over backwards trying not to upset him again. I guess that was his idea of the perfect vacation.

        • We came home early from every family trip we ever took with him.

          And I was the one paying.

          I’d pay for a week then we would end up returning on the Thursday

          He would get sick or injured or find fault with the place

      • My ex also did the pre-travel temper tantrums, only did them before going to gatherings of my friends or family. We’d arrive very late or not at all, and I’d be too exhausted by the fighting to really connect with anyone at the events. Later, when I read Lundy Bankroft’s “Why does he do that?” , the explanation hit me like a bolt of lightning–my fatigue and not being able to connect with my people wasn’t an unfortunate side effect of enduring his moods, it was his goal, it was the reason he was misbehaving. He wanted my connections to others to be superficial and regulated entirely by him, so he’d act out before and sometimes during gatherings to make sure of it. It was part of the abuse, designed to isolate me.

    • My ex is also bringing his new sources of narcissistic feed to places that I have discovered over the years and planned for us. Restaurants, trips etc. It hurts, but don’t forget no matter where they are, they are still without character, creativity and will eventually have to rely upon their own nonexistent capabilities.
      And, no matter what I did or planned I was always accused of never doing anything.

      • Unicorn. I missed your line about the rages. My ex would do that as well. He could never wait in a line or do anything spontaneous on a trip
        He would then accuse me not planning well enough. He was constantly dissatisfied with no matter what we were doing, no matter how much anybody else in the family was enjoying it
        The only things he wanted to do were inappropriate for small kids, took too long or ruined somebody else’s plans
        He once threw a book across condo at the beach in a tantrum and hit the dining room chandelier

        My only guess “why”. is that he resented doing anything for me or for our family.

        it’s come back to haunt him
        My kids memories of him are generally either being absent, not participating or being angry.

        • I packed with the fear of God in me. If we needed something and it wasn’t packed, he would lose his shit BUT if I packed too much he would lose his shit…I fretted over every pair of socks and toenail clipper.

          We were living in the midwest and preparing for a long minivan drive to the northwest. I said to the car guys “please replace the winsshield wipers, if we get halfway through Wyoming and these are crappy, he will be furious. The fuckers didnt tell me that they ordered the wipers and didnt put them on. (if they didnt have the part, they could have fucking said so. We did, in fact. get halfway through Wyoming, it rained, wipers were shit, he threw a hissy.

          In the last 2-3 years of his life, I refused to travel with him. We hosted a 50th anniversary party for his parents 2500 miles from home. I told him I didnt care how he got there but it wouldn’t be with me.

          • Near the end, I also refused to travel with him. He would throw tantrums in cars, drive dangerously
            He did two tourist tours on his own. All these pictures of him with total strangers etc. I believe he loved it because he was the sole focus of attention. He then complained that he had to travel by himself, that I was lazy or not interested, poor guy.

          • I remember screaming in the NYC subway at my now ex wife “Why can’t you be positive!!!” after bitching at day after day on a trip to NYC. If anything went wrong it was my fault. If a restaurant Didn’t have a dish she wanted, it was my fault. GPS took us the long way, my fault. It was horrible traveling with her.

            • I have a horrible fascination with this thread, even though it is so triggering. First of all, the sadness that so many people have been dealing with the adult tantrums of these creatures. Second, that so many of these creatures exist in the world. Thirdly, the reminders of behaviour that I had forgotten.

              The ex sulked when travelling. He wanted to be miraculously teleported to holiday/visit locations without having to do the travelling. He was a little happier when travelling from Heathrow airport because he saw it as being acceptable to his high status. He was however extremely resistant and extra sulky if we travelled from Gatwick airport because he ‘didn’t like the people’ said with a sneer. While at Gatwick, he would walk around looking as if he was scared to touch anything in case he got infected. This caused massive anxiety for me, and diminished my joy about going on a holiday or visit.

              I do not trouble myself with the thought that he will be different with ex gf OW. She knows what he’s like and has chosen to have a relationship with him for the third time. He won’t have changed because this is who he is, and he has no desire to be anything other than the disordered person that he is. I would put money on him being worse with her, if they ever get to the stage of living on the same continent (she will have to move to him and leave her teenage children behind). He knows that he can be however he wants to be with her because she adores him and will accept any level of abuse. She is a fool. Of course, I accepted the abuse too, for 26 years, but I found out what he was like while being slowly boiled in the pan of water. She already knows what’s ahead (or perhaps she thinks I’ve trained him up for her).

              • MightyWarrior,

                Your comments in regards to your ‘horrible fascination with this thread’ got me thinking what about it has unhitched me in a new way too. Realized it has shed yet another new light on my behavior, our family dynamics and how I felt about myself in general while married to him.

                All a process. Small incidents that slowly shaped my behavior wherein I had no clue I was being manipulated so cunningly and cruelly.

                The kicker, once I thought about it awhile, was that at some point I began to believe it was my job to do everything while at the same time being made to feel like I WASN’T DOING ANYTHING and was merely a burden to him, God, my country and life in general 🙂

                I even went so far as to believe that I didn’t deserve anything and was therefore guilty for having any needs/wants of my own.

                Yep, that was me and I am still recovering from all of that and this thread has shown me how deep in I was in my own denial and self destruction.

              • MightyWarrior

                A P.S. to what I just wrote but I am not sure where this will print out because, for some reason, there wasn’t a reply button beneath my initial response to what you wrote.

                Hope this makes sense.

                Just realized I should have added that the shocking part is that all of this came about not because of what he said or did but because of what he didn’t say and what he didn’t do.

                I walked right into it practically on my own. Just took a few strategically placed nudges and I was hooked. Almost like I was a co-conspirator in my own demise as a worth-less human being.

              • Oh my goodness, I had the same thoughts reading all these comments. The abuse we endure. My creature has been gone 6 years and sometimes memories will pop in my head and it will be clear what a jerk he was being as I paid no attention. I married my mom – my mom was a narc and used the weaponized incompetence thing along with other tactics that left me feeling used and unloved, not liked as a person. My 2 ex husbands were just like her! One time the last creature threw a rage attack at me and our 11 y.o. daughter for not packing the camper to his liking and the fact that he was raging at her, too, made me snap and I raged back at him with a fury and profanity like I never did before. He just kind of chuckled and then went on like nothing happened. Our now 18 yo daughter came back from a trip with him 2 months ago and he raged at her, crushing her. He makes no effort to see her anymore and I realized why – she attempted to tell him how his actions hurt her and called him on his shit – basically how he heartlessly dumped us for his coworker. She now sees through him, and they don’t like that. That is reason for a ‘discard’ in their eyes. It kills me to see her struggle with why her dad can so easily reject her. They are creatures with no soul. My daughter was crushed last night as he posts photos on Instagram ‘all happy’ with hew new family with no thoughts of her. He’s not happy. He’s drinking and smoking himself to death – it’s just impression management. He’s a miserable, irritable and discontent with his only means of ‘happiness’ is using people and having toys. They do not have the capacity to care or love others. It’s just not possible. Prayers for everyone on here. And what’s crazy is my last ex stopped speaking to his dad because his dad was such a ‘bad’ person – but ex was just like him, doing the exact same things – if not worse.

                And I am free. I can only pray that my daughter gets to the place where she is free, too.

    • I am sorry Faithful Rage. This absolutely sucks. Ex did the same to me. Never planned a thing and after I left him (28 years together) took the whore and her mom to the nice places I had researched and planned and posted it on facebook. Same with my birthday/our anniversary (same day)…i got nothing unless I gave him explicit instructions on what I would like ie..dinner out please (always the same..I just wanted a break from cooking for 6 people everyday of the year)..after begging him to do something nice. One year he actually bought me these hideous earrings $650..round clip on rubies the size of a quarter..styled like something my grandma would wear in the 1960’s. He knew I would return such an expensive gift. We had 4 kids and were broke. Then I got blamed for not appreciating anything. It sure felt like a set up to me. Our last anniversary/birthday together, I asked him to post something nice about it on Facebook. Shoulda known something was up as he didnt want too, then posted the wrong years married..then he was butt hurt because I asked him to fix it..it just gets more pathetic from there. I definitely dont miss the mind games.

  • I continue to be amazed that he actually navigated the secret affair, though he built it into his time with his male friends. I was accused of being possessive/controlling whenever I suggested a change to the schedule. And his inability to remember anything was useful for explaining another trip to the hardware store. All in all, he pulled off the secret relationship with an efficiency and attention to detail not shown in other areas.

    • My ex found the time and money to organise holidays away for him and his other women (plural). Just not the time or money to come on holiday with his family (his mother came with us instead 🙄) his baby daughter’s first beach holiday. Yet he happily used my money to set up a supposed ‘family business’ with his first fuckee (the one who was also our tenant in our old family home an old colleague of his). He told me he wanted her to work for us…. Jesus! Talk about ‘a sewn up deal’!

      On my discovery he abandoned us all (ie I kicked him out) the tenant OW turned on him and was semi remorseful at her part in such duplicity. Whereas he moved in straight away with another colleague who now employs him in her business/ their business … it’s actually pathetically laughable. He can’t stand on his own two feet and has to shag the woman who pays his wages whether that was me paying every bill and the mortgage and helping him set up a business, using the tenants business idea as his own and pretending he was helping her fund it and going into business with her. Or shacking up with the third one because he had not a penny to his name (else he does and is playing a clever victim) . He even moved with her back to her parents home 200 miles away coz she couldn’t afford the city and lived in a caravan with her in her parents back yard… How pathetic to reach the age of 40 and have nothing to show for it. No home, no contact with own kids, no money. I was duped and always felt sorry for him. Now the caravan girl is totally duped as she knew all the facts and thought I was a cruel bitch for demanding child support from him and the £18k paid back from him. They can now tell that to the sheriffs officers who are now collecting the debt on my behalf. And this is when I get emails from both of then asking for a repayment term. Eh no.. you’ve had 5 years! It’s gone through official channels now. He is the victim yet stole and lied from and to everyone. How does that happen?

  • Thank you, I was JUST trying to remember the phrase “weaponized incompetence”. It was SO prevalent in my marriage and unfortunately, I’m starting to see it in my two teenage boys. My first experience was when my Ex ADMITTED that during big family dinners (when his poor mother was doing EVERYTHING) he would “pretend” to help by standing around, but not actually doing anything- he explained this to me while chuckling. During our marriage, he would cook, but he made a huge mess and expected a parade in his honor (BIG bitch cookie) and if it was a special occasion (like my birthday) he would purposefully screw it up so it tasted horrible. Now, my boys have been washing their own clothes and cleaning the bathroom since they were 7 years old, but now that they’re older their skills haven’t really progressed to where things are done well, so I’m going to have to work on my expectations there. One time I asked my Ex to clean the shower- not even the whole bathroom!! and he actually took the shower curtain off the hooks, took it outside, and I believe HOSED IT DOWN, then returned it to the bathroom- turns out he “hosed down” the WRONG side anyway. I knew damn well what was going on and was livid. I think I may have mentioned that he can hire someone to do it if he can’t figure it out, of course, that never happened…

    • I ran a boarding house with a chore wheel, and had that problem with young male boarders–the weaponized incompetence. Finally I wrote into the leases that if I had to do some one’s dishes or clean up after them in the bathroom, that $10 would be deducted from their security deposits each time, and if their deposits got down to half, they would be given two weeks’ notice to leave. Then I’d walk them through the standard I was expecting from them. At first some of the guys would still assume I didn’t mean it, but after getting $50 worth of fines in one week from constantly leaving their dishes in the sink or not wiping counters, they would either move out of their own accord or clean up their act. If your teens have allowances, maybe you could do the same–pay allowances only at the end of the month, with $10 deducted for each time you have to redo their work or do it for them.

      • “Your mother doesn’t work here. Clean up after yourself”. A classic sign I’ve seen posted at a couple of jobs.

    • I’m starting to see my kid’s father in my sons attitude towards life… Its worrying.
      He is nearly 16 can’t tidy his room properly, there is dirty dishes and glasses all being put off getting washed until later. “I’ll do it later” is his motto. There was about 60 juice bottles and cola cans strewn about, Crips packets, dirty clothes etc….
      I feel like I’m wasting my breath. Again when he does tidy he doesn’t do it properly or foes a rubbish job of it so i have to do it over properly. He often doesn’t even shower or brush his hair. It is a never ending nagging battle. He puts things off until they build up into a huge issue. And just tells me what he thinks i want to hear. “I’ll do it after this..” His fake promises disappoint me, upset me and trigger me yet he is only a kid who’s father walked away from him when he was 11. He has no guidance of what a real dad does or how to be helpful. He just sees me stressed and nagging coz I can’t do everything and keep a tidy home never mind his room.
      I want him to take pride but he doesn’t. He puts his own needs first and goes online or PlayStation. I’ve resorted to hiding power cables and even ‘helped’ him by picking up all the trash and putting it on his bed for him to deal with. (It felt slightly passive aggressive but needs must & shock tactics). I don’t want my home being a festering rubbish tip with crumbs and smells emanating from his room. He doesn’t seem to get it and it’s became a real issue. He only thinks I’m a nag. His dad walked off and left a huge mess and I don’t want my son doing the same.
      He is either not switched on yet or as I suspect (or it may be my benefit of the doubt kicking in yet again) has autism or aspergers.

      • Until I read your son is on the spectrum, I thought two things. He’s either depressed (poor hygiene) or he’s taking after his father. Good luck.

  • Mine did the glory cooking. I cooked 360 days a year but when we had guests or had to take something for Christmas lunch, he would concoct an elaborate meal. Which created a huge mess which was left to me to clean up. Everyone would praise him as say how wonderful he was. I just accepted it and laughed it off. But when the it was mid week and I had been at work and the kids had to be fed it was always my job. Now I can have cheese on toast with an expensive bottle of wine from the cellar (wine collecting was another of his glory hobbies like being a musician and a triathlete) and enjoy not having to adore his brilliance 😊

      • I like that term as well. Fits my STBX to a T.

        Once he said to me, “What? If I don’t cook WE don’t eat?”

        My response? “No, actually. If *I* don’t WIRK and do ALL of the shopping We don’t eat!”

        I worked full time and paid ALL of the bills while he was a home all day.
        Right. Don’t make a damn thing for me – I can cook for myself.
        Fucker.

    • Glory cooking. Oh wow. Yeah. Mine had one show-off dish: cheesecake. He made this during the holidays and, in the early days, garnered SO MUCH praise. There’s definite sexism at play here–a male physician just made a cake!!! Imagine that! Give him a bitch cookie!

      Here’s what happened behind the scenes. I had to buy all the ingredients for it. This became a stressful task because I would catch hell if I made a mistake or (horrors) bought the wrong kind of cream cheese. If that happened, he would grab his keys and storm out of the house to aright this horrible, unforgivable error on my part. Also, the kitchen had to be vacated so that he could work in silence. It got to the point where I would basically put out all the ingredients for him so that he could simply mix them together as if he was on a cooking show.

      So, yeah, over time, he stopped getting kibbles for this cheesecake because it was served with such a huge helping of narcissism, criticism, and drama. We opted for apple pie instead.

      To this day, I can’t stomach cheesecake nor can my kids. Bad associations.

      Overall I would just say that he had a way of ruining what should have been good experiences like holiday baking. He even ruined sledding, believe it or not. The kids would end up crying. He was (and no doubt still is) a moody, critical, unpleasant man.

      It’s nice not to walk on eggshells now. Speaking of eggs, one cheesecake called for 12 of them!

      • Oh lord. I lived the fucking cheesecake fiasco also. And it sucked. Was always half raw and collapsed in the center, and burned on the bottom. I made fantastic meals, canned, preserved, etc., etc. His catered to guests would turn down eating it, and he would get passive aggressive with THEM, too. Now, he’s foisting the mess on whatever victim he’s fooled–but she’s vegan…! I can’t stop laughing.

      • In my case it was pumpkin pie. My mum is the queen of the pie and everyone loved it-except the fuckwit. He was convinced that he had the special skills to top her recipe. So in similar fashion he’d make a huge mess, it would take him all day and the result would be an inedible pie. He used so many cloves it would numb your tongue. He would brag, expect huge praise, want to run a blind taste test against my mum and generally behave like a wanker. He’d talk about it for weeks afterwards about how superior his pie was. So one year I said, “Your pie is great. In fact, I’d love it if you’d cook more for me.” He said he’d think about it, which was the standard answer for all the things he was never going to do.

    • My XW is Italian, but can’t have cooked more than a dozen times in our 17-year marriage.

      Early on, I did ask her to make pasta for the kids one evening when I was working late. When I got home I found that the water had boiled over and put out the burner, filling the entire kitchen with gas. Yes, my Italian wife couldn’t boil water to make pasta. Naturally I didn’t ask her again.

      I should point out that she’s a PhD experimental physicist, so she knows how to follow protocols. AP/husband lives 1000 miles away much of the time, so XW now does cook. Because of course she was always capable of doing it – she just didn’t bother so long as I was doing it for her.

      Funnily enough, I had realized that our marriage was out of whack during the period her affair was ramping up, and after ILYBINILWY one of my reactions was to tell her that we needed to rebalance the domestic roles and that I was going to ask her to cook twice a week. I think that’s one of the reasons she didn’t stick around: instead of trying to woo her (which, though I didn’t know it, was of course what AP was doing during this time) I asked for a more equitable marriage. She was gone a few weeks later. (Mind you, I was also crying and having panic attacks and losing weight at an unhealthy clip, so it’s not like I’m holding myself up as some example to follow. But I did have enough clarity to realize that the marriage wasn’t healthy for me).

      “Weaponized incompetence” isn’t really about gender, or talent, or ability. It’s about power and control.

      • IG, that’s a really great point- it’s just about power and control. My ex wouldn’t cook or clean and he made a big hairy deal out of anything he actually did too. It’s also about entitlement-he kind of felt like he was entitled to chill out all the time and he basically said it was all my fault for running around doing chores. I pointed out that the reason I was doing all the chores was because they needed to be done so I had a huge load to do all by myself. He kept saying it was my own fault, that I was anxious, controlling, perfectionistic, blah blah. I tried so many tactics over the years to rebalance the jobs but it never worked. I agree that it’s not a gendered thing. My new partner had this same shit with his ex wife. What’s astounding to me is how it feels to be with someone who shares the load. At first I couldn’t cope and I ran around doing everything. He noticed and kindly told me that I didn’t need to do everything myself. How’s that for a massive turn of events! I think putting up with this shit goes hand in hand with the niceness of us chumps. It’s just another way that fuckwits take advantage.

    • I agree, “glory cooking” is a great term. I could buy and prep every ingredient for Thanksgiving, but he was in charge of roasting the turkey, so he “made” the meal. Anytime we had company, there was some contribution he provided in order to claim credit for everything.

      In retrospect, however, I contributed to this myth, because I learned early that if his efforts weren’t celebrated and mine minimized, he made things unpleasant. I valued having a family dinner more than I valued standing up to him. Lesson learned.

    • “Glory cooking.” I love that! My ex did the same damned thing — bragged about his great cooking skills and would make the Thanksgiving/Christmas/whatever turkey for the pot lock at work (both of us were critical care nurses, so we spent every other holiday at work) to show off. He had his little harem of flying monkeys, and they’d beg him to bring in gumbo or jambalaya or red beans and rice so he’d dirty up every pot, pan and surface in the kitchen and bring the requested dish to work for everyone to enjoy, sending the leftovers home with his harem and leaving me to clean up the mess — often without getting a bite of the food. I did all the cooking at home for us . . . Until the day I overheard him telling our co-workers that he did ALL of the cooking at home, but it was fine because I was nowhere near the cook he was. After that, I stopped cooking at home, and if he didn’t cook I’d just go to Panera to eat. I should have left him then.

    • Klootzak glory cooks fried turkey. He would insist that we host Thanksgiving and would make this big show of frying the turkey. He would invite people to come early to sit in the yard drinking with him while the oil heated and during the turkey frying experience. I was the one who bought the oil, brined the turkey the night before, cleaned house, made all the sides and dessert, and cleaned up. But all hail the fried turkey. I don’t even like turkey; it has always been my tradition to roast a duck until klootzak started the fried turkey show. Ground turkey is fine and I use it a lot but I dare say I will never touch a whole bird turkey again.

      • Oh yes…”All Hail” whatever he came up with-it was a show. He wasn’t one to tolerate holiday dinners, arrived late and left early when friends invited our family.
        Then he saw the rabbi wearing a”kittle”…a white linen coat as presided over a holiday meal. Then we hosted a Glory Seder and guess who suddenly found religion..!! He stood at the head of the table
        in his new white kittle, readings from the book and grandiosely giving out parts to guests.All Hail the suddenly interested head of household
        in his Glory Role.
        He weaponized the holiday meal using it to pose for his personal Oscar for best performance at a
        family holiday gathering g at our house.
        After that he resumed coming late and leaving early for holiday meals.

        • love this! ‘best performance at a family holiday gathering’!!

          We need to do a ‘Cheater Oscars’ here one day!

  • Years ago we replaced the original 1951 wall heater in our house with a modern day newfangled HVAC system. X, aka Benedict “OJ” Madoff, was the point man with our contractor. I was busy being high-risk pregnant.

    One morning a few years later, I noticed the touch-screen control panel was blank. I called our contractor, who came out to investigate. In the attic, he found charred joists, and told me we were lucky the house had not burned down. It was the responsibility of Benedict to upgrade the electrical panel during the HVAC job and he had failed to do so.

    The cost of upgrading the electrical panel was 3000.00. Benedict wanted to save the money. Meanwhile, the whole time he was enjoying his thriftiness by saving 3K making do with the existing electrical panel, he was buying machines that cost six figures, high and low, for our business.

    A literal level of “weaponized incompetence”……

    If not

    • We drew up chore lists. He was supposed to do the things a lung condition made it very hard for me to do, on a weekly basis, so I didn’t get sicker. Then he would simply not do them for weeks. As I got sicker, I would beg, cry, and, when that didn’t work, yell. Then he would complain to our RIC therapist that I was abusing him. Anything he did do, he would do so badly that it wasn’t actually done. When I confronted him, he’d say he didn’t know how. When I taught and re-taught him, he would tell our RIC therapist that I was so insanely demanding he was afraid to try. My standards were so high! Yes, I wanted essential work actually done so I didn’t have to fix it! Bad wife! Naturally this justified relapses into porn because I was injuring his fragile sense of manhood by “treating him like a child” and reteaching him when he claimed not to remember how to do simple chores.

      The RIC therapist bought it. I was lectured for being angry and perfectionist. His broken promises and disregard for my health were invisible. His passive-aggression was not addressed. (Note passive voice!)

      I now do all my own housework with an N95 mask on. My health started to improve when I started trying to get away from him. I’m much better now.

  • My ex used to strategically pretend to be stupid. It’s really hard to explain, because it is so illogical, but he would feign stupidity, not really over practical tasks but in conversation, or over odd things. One that sticks in my mind is when he had a (benign as it turns out) lump that needed a biopsy, and he kept calling the procedure an ‘autopsy’, though he knew full well that wasn’t the correct word, and what the latter meant. At the time, it was so baffling, and when I would say, ‘you know you mean biopsy’ he would give this creepy smile, as if that proved something (the classic ‘duper’s delight’ face). There was lots of stuff like this, I think it was so that when I’d call him out on bullshit or ask straight-up questions he could feign stupidity and say ‘I dunno’, in this teenage thicko voice, and it wouldn’t come totally out of the blue. I guess it was also a way of him lowering my expectations about his behaviour. This is a guy with two college degrees, a professional job, who reads vociferously – it was such a mind bend when he would do this dumb-dumb act. What a lunatic. I pity his latest partner.

  • It’s funny but this reminds me more of an old friend that I got reacquainted with during my divorce. She feigns incompetence to get men or women, single or married (she’s equal opportunity there) to put gas in her car (really!), look at microscopic nicks in her windshield, pick her up stuff everywhere and annually clean out her condo storage locker (cause she has fibromyalgia, ya know, but somehow manages to party until 2am like the best of them). Thanks to the feigned incompetence strategy my mother warned me about when I was younger, I never had that type of relationship (except for feigning relationship emotional incompetence). In fact, I was replaced by someone who is falling for it now, but my ex pulled his share of household tasks with me. I win. And yes, I dumped the friend when she kept trying different tacts to get me to do her bidding. I’ll give her that, she was relentless. Now, she’s got a partner again. Poor sucker, I mean, man.

  • My STBX said during divorce talking, “I would never kick you out of the house”. Well aren’t you a wonderful person – you won’t kick me out of my house (which I also pay for) but you will have a relationship outside of our marriage!

  • I like that jab at other support groups using the term “wayward spouses.” I never questioned the WS term and actively welcomed it because it helped me to not think ill of the FW. It was a gentler way of saying “the jerk” other such euphemisms.

    CL has bristled against the use of WS before and I’ve only really let it sink in now: it creates the image of a woe-is-them, sad sausage, I’m just adrift on the open sea and lost my way character. This character isn’t a real person but a passive one who simply got lost or, as many former support group members would say (and argue against) was simply “lost in the fog.”

    Calling the FW a Wayward Spouse (WS) implies that they are not actively making their own decisions in life and that they are simply “lost at the moment” ( hence wayward) and could eventually find their way back to sanity and home (the arms of the chump) again. Calling the cheater a WS also keeps them attached to you at all points in your relationship with them by continually invoking the word “spouse.”

    I was only ever in one support group before this one and it helped me navigate myself through the darkest days of marriage. They definitely advocated for things like “no contact,” “leave his ass right now,” and “here’s what you need to do even though you don’t want to do it.” I’ll forever be grateful for their advocacy; I was such a jellyfish that I needed the support of a tribe with more backbone than I had at the time.

    But I also see how the RIC sneaks in to places where you least expect it. Calling the FW a WS is one of those examples. I’ve felt a perceptible shift in my thinking since I started typing FW instead of WS.

  • I never heard the phrase “Glory cooking,” but that nails it. Mine did some daily cooking to ensure he got lots of the two things he wantd: pasta and steak (always one for him, one for me and kids to share). Never any salads, sides or vegetables. He ended up needing heart surgery, probably from all that steak.
    However, when it was time for company, he took over my own recipes to make a fancy, expensive seafood dish so he’d get credit for cooking the meal, even though I did all the rest, with many, many dishes.
    Faithful Rage, I’m sorry for what he did. Taking his schmoopie to that special/expensive restaurant on your birthday was no accident. I think they try to taint our happy memories, special places and significant days by “marking” them with something that’s hurtful or insulting. My ex, as others have mentioned, could never plan a birthday or anniversary. Still, he expected me to plan and carry out large, elaborate “surprise” birthday parties for him at “unexpected” locations. C’mon, every year? He wanted to be the center of attention, not just on the party day, but for people to talk about it, and him, for the weeks leading up to it.

  • My cheater ex-wife, who is very intelligent and educated, would exhibit incompetence in all domestic matters (paying bills, car inspections, laundry, etc.). That would force me to step in and do the work (basically parenting her), which she would then characterize as me being controlling (always fun to do more than your fair share of work and also get attacked for doing it). I believe she then used this assessment of me to justify her cheating (I deserved it for being an a-hole). A very sick and un-winnable dynamic.

    • Yes. They’ve got you coming and going. An unwinnable situation. Cheaters always play zero-sum games

    • In a sense, she weaponized incompetence twice, once to shift domestic burdens onto me, and then a second time to give herself license to cheat.

      • This happened to me also, as I mentioned above.

        It was tiring during the marriage, but at least when I got divorced I wasn’t subject to the well-meaning but patronizing “poor dear, how will he cope now” comments. I was already doing all the cooking, cleaning, kid-wrangling, yard work, and finances during our marriage, so I just carried on as before.

        (To be fair, during our marriage XW did do laundry. And buy birthday presents. A more accurate accounting would be that I went from doing 90% of the labor 100% of the time, to doing 100% of the labor 50% of the time.).

        • Unexpectedly, I also experienced domestic life get EASIER after divorcing a bad partner, even with two kids, and I’d guess many chumps would say the same. Wasn’t cleaning up after her, wasn’t building unreliable consensus on how we’d handle things, wasn’t being undermined in parenting. All relationships have issues, but I think the generic “marriage is hard” trope is largely the result of bad marriages. A bad marriage is hard, but a reciprocal marriage makes life much easier. Many years out, that’s certainly been my (happy) experience.

          • Exactly! After I finally get Cheater Narc out of the house, I wasn’t doing most of the kid and household tasks PLUS trying to manage his mood and his stress levels, and manage the kids so they didn’t aggravate his mood or stress.

            So much easier!

    • Nomar, the dynamic you describe with your ex-wife dovetails with the realization that these cheaters we speak of are often intellectually bright (as children can be), while emotionally weak and immature (again, as children can be). Appearances indicate a physically grown person, but the relationship reveals a childlike partner.

      When it really hit home and made perfect sense to me was when a marriage counseler heard the initial overall story of the relationship failure due to infidelity and asked one pointed question:

      “Remind me how many children you have?”

      My answer, having already been given, was two.

      The counselor’s response was “No, you have THREE children. Your husband is a child and
      has not grown up.”

      This revelation cut through all the fog like a knife. I hope it helps others here. Chumps cannot raise child-spouses, nor should they try. Save yourself years of anguish and accept the unfathomable reality – chumps married children and must let them go to mature independent of us. They aren’t viable partners at this stage in their lives and may never be again.

      • You’re absolutely right: they are big kid on the inside! Immature and cruel, with no impulse control. But it’s hard to see because on the outside they’re often accomplished in education or jobs.

        I would add that the kids they are in the inside are NOT nice kids. They are Augustus Gloop and Veruca Salt, Eric Cartman and Angelica from Rug Rats.

        • Nomar, ex’s favourite South Park character? Eric Cartman. And how he laughed at the way Cartman treated Butters! He used to say that I was like Butters …

        • That’s my two ex husbands. Made 6 figures doing skilled labor, but no impulse control, immature, feeding their base whims with no regard for how it affects others, and if you point our their actions and how it’s wrong/hurts you – be prepared to face the revenge and the spite on a level unconscionable. Not nice on the inside unless they want something you can provide. When you are no longer useful and gullible – you’re out.

      • Latitude69,

        Exactly.

        And what attracted me to Mr. X was his childlike charm. I now see it for what it was, a decoy.

        Such a convoluted scramble of reality. There are days when my head simply spins due to the rate of how my memories of my ‘once blissful’ marriage are being turned into a mine field. ‘Ooops, there is another memory that gets blown up.’

        While seeing things anew is a freeing experience, it is also quite disconcerting.

        I say ‘blissful’ because I didn’t marry an overt narc. Mr. X was a/is a covert narc. so he was always the nice guy so I was glad to overlook a lot of things because I felt lucky to have him as a spouse.

        Like my other children, he left home too right about the time my ‘real’ children were fledging. Had a group of his buddies come by and pack up all of this belongings like he was going off to college. They drove away in a caravan of sorts like it was the most sensible thing in the world to be doing.

        Bizarre.

        Thank you for putting such concise words on the behavior – smart on the outside, immature and nasty on the inside.

        By the way, when my children were young they had friends who were extremely smart and the first thing I realized about them was that were indeed emotionally immature and most were terrified because they knew they were smarter than most adults.

        The ones I am thinking of were empty inside. They had nothing else going for them because smart was all they were. They were all very manipulative. It was an eerie feeling because I didn’t like them and found that odd. Now I know why.

        I will add that my children had other smart friends and they did not exhibit this behavior – they were smart, well adjusted and all around really good kids so I do not mean to criticize intelligence as a whole….just some of the eerily smart ones. If you have experienced one you will know what I mean.

        • EC, you have described the ex perfectly. So smart, and empty inside. A non-person. No surprise that he used alcohol to fill the cavern.

          • MightyWarrior,

            One thing I did have ‘going for me’ was that Mr. X was sober when I met him and I thought that was a good thing because it seemed like a lot of other men out there at the time were drinkers and abusing alcohol.

            What I didn’t know was that he also had untreated compulsive sexual behavior going on, which some would call ‘addiction’. This he ‘conveniently did not tell me about and, despite being in AA, he never fessed up until dday 30+ years after our being together. By then I had pretty much put two and two together.

            Since dday I have learned that many in AA don’t address their sexual issues and that it is pretty prevalent behavior. He knew the meetings to go to where he could pick-up women so it was as though he used meetings like bars. Not going to work the program to stay sober but to pick-up women. Sick.

            Vacuous. Never enough to fill that hole inside.

            He got all that he wanted. The divorce. The schmoopie. His freedom from family and responsibility. And, as far as I know, all that is still not enough.

            • And this is why it’s important to go to same sex meetings and be wary of manipulative user types in 12 step meetings i.e asking to borrow money, looking for a job or housing.
              One thing I learned listening to an addiction medicine specialist is how important it is to find a sponsor who won’t try to engage in a sexual relationship.

              N.b. I used to attend a trans/lesbian friendly meeting for women only

              • Yes.
                One of the unwritten rules is that of NO sponsoring someone of the OPPOSITE sex.

                I know that. I did that.

                He did not….ooops….but now I know he wasn’t looking for what I was looking for in program.

                He was looking for sex and approval.

                I was looking for recovery and people who would kick me hard if and when needed.

                I have found what I needed and so has he.

                Just took me a loooong time to see we were both going to meetings but our intentions were different….another oops.

                As they say, the devil is in the details, and I sure missed that one 🙂

  • Brilliant.

    A lady of my parents’ generation had a verb for it: “to outfumble.”

    Such lots of places! Organizational behavior. Politics. Other relationships. Parent-child, sometimes reversed. Adult siblings. Passive-aggressive. No intiative will be taken. No effort by the activist partner is ever enough.

  • How about the whole, “every time you get sick, they become mysteriously ill–also, too.” That one works for vacations as well.

    And then the famous Refrigerator Blindness: “Hey, where’s the mayo?” In the shelf at at eye level!

    • OMG right??? Where is it? On the top shelf with the red lid. There isn’t anything on the top shelf with a red lid! Yes, there is! No, it’s not there. I come into the kitchen, MOVE THE LARGE THING IN THE FRONT, and viola, there is the container with the red lid on the top shelf. He literally wouldn’t move shit around in the fridge to find stuff.
      Then there was the annual battle over the Christmas lights. When we first bought our house, I put the Christmas lights up each year. I loved doing it, it was really fun, and I liked them a certain way, so I did it. I got a cool tool to put them up with, that took a particular kind of plastic hanger, etc. I got a multi pronged outdoor power tower, and a few little lighted trees for the lawn. Etc. It was ALL kept in a long plastic container, like difficult to miss, like 2 feet by 6 feet long! It was always kept on the same shelf in the closet in HIS OFFICE. As my work responsibilities increased, I was away from home longer hours, and one year I was too sick to put up the lights, so I asked him to do it. He said he would, he did it later than I would have liked, and not the way I preferred, but I thanked him for his effort and didn’t care too much, because it was done. So for some reason, next year he decided it was his job to do the lights, and started this multi-week con where he would tell me that “next weekend” he was going to put them up. So I took him at his word, but then he just “didn’t get around to it.” This went on until I decided I would do it, at which point he raged that I just wasn’t patient with him. So I backed off. The next year, same song and dance, but now he couldn’t find the box of lights. Keep in mind, it’s been stored in the same box, same place for over 12 years. But he just can’t find it. So I go into the office and get the lights out for him. Next he can’t find the power tower. I tell him it’s in the box. But he insists that it’s not there, and I waste hours trying find one locally or on line to replace it. More days or a week go by, where I could be enjoying Christmas lights, but the box is on the floor in the dining room, because he’s “going to get to it.” In desperation one afternoon, I open the box and find… the power tower. It was simply under a few things, but he never bothered to actually move things around and find it. Needless to say, I got the lights up, then was guilted about it because I didn’t wait for him. NO WINNING!

      • This rings too true. Any time I did anything, he would get mad at me because he was “about to do it.”

        Once I let the trash fill up, the recycling, the dishes, all of them overflowing everywhere – for DAYS. I politely waited for him to do it. Did he? Of course not.

        But the moment I decided to end the experiment suddenly he was “about to do it,” and I “liked doing his chores so I would have something to hang over his head.”

        Nothing like doing all of the chores and taking care of everything and have your spouse be MAD at you for it.

        It always astounded me that he wasn’t embarrassed for our neighbors to see me out mowing our lawn or shoveling snow.

        Like someone said earlier, him moving out only resulted in less chores for me. One less person to cook for and clean up after.

        • I’m so triggered by this….ugh 🙁

          “I SAID I WAS GONNA DO IT!!”

          UGH!!

          Sooo NOT SEXY!

          Life is so much better with an actual adult instead of a petulant man-baby. These posts should be mandatory reading by young people pre-marriage!

  • AH was so strategically incompetent, that by the time he left for intern/AP, he had never spent the night alone with our three children (on the rare occasions I had to travel alone – like when my father died – his mother would take them so he could “finally have some fun and relax”) and the only “household chore” he had left was taking out the garbage on Thursday mornings. The Thursday after D-Day, I went to the garage and found about 10 bags of garbage in there. He had just been dropping the bags there and not taking them to the curb for pick up. This guy left me with a garage full of garbage on more than one level.

  • Or maybe she is just a perfectionist who cant’ be satisfied and he has gotten tired of trying. In my marriage my ex wanted everything to be just so. No matter what I did or how I did anything it was just wrong. That gets tiresome after a while and can lead to people just not wanting to do it anymore. You want it perfect, fine, do it yourself. It’s really not a “growing opportunity” if there is no right answer or if it’s something that really isn’t a priority for you and it’s impossible to please the one for whom it is.

    • Same here.

      I did all the house work, all the laundry, (including ironing his police uniforms) all the cooking all the shopping and the yard work. Unfortunately I never did it to his specs. I don’t know how he got his compulsiveness, because though his mother was a good house keeper she was not a spit shiner. She was pretty much the same as me. However, his sister was a spit shiner, and compulsively neat just like him. His sister tried to commit suicide twice, and she cut off all her eyelashes once. Not sure why, but have always wondered if it was her compulsiveness.

      Anyway, when he left me for whore, his only complaint about me was I was not a good enough house keeper, and he had not been happy for years. He didn’t say I was awful, or I was mean to him, or anything really, just I wasn’t a good enough house keeper; and he didn’t really even voice that, he just looked around the room and said this house; then he said I never loved you, and I have been “dating” for ten years. (out of a 20 year marriage)

      Funny thing is whore made me look like Martha Stewart per my son and daughter in law.

      Oh and though I worked full time, did mountains of volunteer work and political work at his bidding, he evidently couldn’t do any of the house work to his own liking. (not to mention all the school activities for our son) I asked to have a cleaner come in once a month; but nope too expensive. Of course little did I know he was handing money over hand and fist to whore. Needed his whore money I guess.

      • Part of cheating is that they must ‘demonize’ us

        And swipes about housework is the best some of these fvckers can come up with

  • I was going to do a true confession to you all that I may be guilty feigning incompetence over cooking, but the truth is that I have lingering trauma.

    My mom was an alcoholic with borderline personality disorder who fancied herself a fab cook. She never wanted anyone to take her place of glory, so she teased, goaded, neglected and shamed me as a kid when I was trying to learn to cook…it was really fucked up.

    Then I married Cheater who knew from my history that cooking was a struggle for me and rather than encourage, he used my pre-existing struggle as a chance to crank-up the mind fuck. It came in many forms.

    Perhaps the worst was when he literally manipulated me from cooking all day one Thanksgiving. Right at the time when a full mean would be almost impossible to pull off, he got this evil smile on his face…he said he was going to take the kids to McDonalds and “I cant wait to tell everyone at work that we had to go to McDonalds” …his goal was clearly to publicly humiliate me.

    Looking back now, Im sure he did this to reinforce his narrative that I sucked as a wife and justify fucking around.

    My now-husband loves to cook and has lovingly tried to “make it fun” which mostly fails. I do make a cheesecake on Christmas and I will bake a little but mostly I still hate it.

      • She was a terrible mother. When I was a child, I would literally get punished for not complementing her. (what a f’ing BPD thing to do).

        As an adult, I worked nightshifts in an ICU (she thought work was beneath her) and once, soon after a move, I had painted/decorated a home we had just bought (with 2 little kids underfoot), juggled my job (which left me sleep deprived) and lived under Cheaters endless tyranny…

        …she came to see our house for the first time (after never helping despite living an hour away) she looked around and said nothing until she saw a little corner of wallpaper I hung peeling off a tiny bit “It looks like you need wallpaper paste”.

        the standards she held others to were ones she would never reach herself.

        She is still alive but very demented…she now tells me that she loves me all the time. I try to be decent to her but I dont fake lovey-dovey…awks.

          • I read the book that this excerpt was from. My parents fit The BP Queen and Narc King to a T (they literally had an 18 ft dining room table. I didnt realize that my dad was a narc until the moment I read that and suddenly my whole life made sense.

            I was astonished when I read the queen description…uncanny

          • Oh wow. This was hard to read because I relate. Some of the traits seem to overlap a little bit. My mom was the Queen. I was there for her needs. If I had any, I was shot down. I made my needs small or nonexistent. I was shamed for speaking up and having boundaries. When I discovered boundaries it made me bad and her the victim. I was the perfect object for my ex narc husbands to use. So happy to be alone these days. Wow that was intense reading that. Thanks.

        • I had the same kind of mother. She told me I was ‘too stupid to be in the kitchen’. Thankfully my kind MIL taught me how to cook and sew.

    • So sorry you had to deal with this.
      Given there is not enough time in life to do everything you enjoy doing, there is no damn reason to waste time doing something you hate.

    • Unicorn………. they also do this shit because they enjoy tormenting and baiting people

      It gives them a rush

      As one therapist said ‘they get their jollies’ this way

  • Weaponizing Incompetence

    New term for me that says so much and in saying, explains so much.

    Thank you Tracy for yet another step-up towards Meh.

    Another ah-ha moment and a glorious sense of relief and freedom.

    Why? Because I was blind and I did think it was my job to do it all because I was a SAHM

    A turn around because it wasn’t about me after all – it was him and his incompetence masquerading as mine.

    I so love it when it is my faulty perception because then I can do something about it which usually just involves looking at something in a new light.

    And a new light has just brightened up my life this morning 🙂

    THANK YOU

  • My ex also had problems remembering what he did with his stuff, and was constantly interrupting me at work (I telecommuted for over a decade) to find his “missing” glasses, wallet, keys, shoes, etc. When he reluctantly started taking our child to Boy Scouts–for image management, because they wanted a male parent to be there–suddenly he had the same problem outside the house. For months, every single meeting, he left something of HIS behind: backpack, jacket, sunglasses, etc.–and would expect me to go get them for him, because he was at work. After about five of these, I wised up. I refused to pick up his belongings at places I’d never been, and announced I would no longer find things at home. I didn’t make the connection until now, but they stopped going to Scouts soon after. And also, when his oh so valuable and needed items were missing, he didn’t keep looking, if he had even looked in the first place; he’d stand and watch me while I searched. How many times did I say, “Don’t just stand there! Check your dresser/bathroom counter/front door table!” I now wonder if they were missing, or if he just enjoyed interrupting me at work (while I was on calls or writing) and watching me scramble to do his bidding.

    • Oh, Goodfriend, that brings back memories. My second Jesus cheater was a nurse who worked 3-11. (This was in the 1980s.). I worked 11pm to 7am. Every single DAY, he’d wake me up at 1 or 2 in the afternoon to find his damned shoes. The shoes he had taken off the night before . . . Every single day, after I’d had about four hours of sleep. He’d never help me look, either.

      My last husband (as in most recent, and probably last ever) used to hide my car keys just before I had to leave for work. I knew they were right on the table next to the front door — I had seen them when I got the mail, which was something he didn’t seem to know how to do. As I was leaving for work, I’d go for the keys and they wouldn’t be there. He’d let me search until it was certain I was going to be late for work, and then, surprise, they’d turn up someplace I had already looked more than once. And he’d be standing there smirking. After I got disciplined at work for an ‘attendance problem’ I learned to keep them on me, or under my pillow when I slept.

      • That is horrifying! I am so sorry you had to endure that, he was probably trying to make you lose your job because it was a source of self-confidence and independence.
        The malice of these abusers is endless.
        Cyber hugs!!

      • That is a really shitty thing to do… it would intentionally throw you off your game. I realized that Cheater did subtle, gas lighting things to me also.

        When I would leave for work, he would often say something like “kids, mom is leaving for work because she is selfish and doesnt love us”. I actually HATED my job (many of our peers had decided for mom to stay home during that phase of parenting but Cheater always chose houses and cars just over the line of where we could live on his income alone).

        On the very first day I ever went to work after 1st baby was born, he called me at work and told me that the baby had been bit by a mouse. It was a lie, he later claimed it was a joke.

    • FW has one friend in the world and the guy is as narc as he is. The guy is crazy about Boy Scouts and his son is a golden child narc. FW’s buddy got him all jazzed up about getting our son signed up for Scouts. I was terrified for kiddo to be immersed in entire weekends with those 3. That was bad enough. But then narc buddy’s wife started telling me all the crap her husband expected her to do in support of their adventures. She has no spine and thinks it is all wonderful. Eff that. I support my son and make lots of effort to do things he wants to engage in, but I was not about to sign up for more burden so he could be exposed for great lengths of time to those idiots and brainwashed into their sexist attitudes. No thank you. I suggested he get involved in one of his school clubs and he chose both chess and soccer. That got him busy fast and the talk of Scouts disappeared.

  • “Weaponized incompetence” is a form of abuse. It’s manipulation designed to control another person.

    XHSubstanceAbuser used to break things that belonged to me, originally, and then leave the pieces for me to find. I don’t think the breaking itself was deliberate, but (1) he didn’t want to clean anything up and (2) he didn’t want to admit to making a mistake. So he let me find the debris and then if I got angry, he went ballistic on me. He would also cook (and he was fabulous at that) and leave the mess in our small kitchen for me to clean up–and then get angry because “if he cooked, I should clean.” That would have been fair enough if I weren’t the only one working (and at a demanding professional job) and I had some say in the timing of things.

    He also got angry because I “didn’t do any yard work,” although I planted and maintained three perennial gardens. But that didn’t count. So because I didn’t “do yard work,” he didn’t have to clean up the pee he sprayed around the toilet when he was drunk.

    If I were a young woman, knowing what I know now, I would never consider becoming serious about anyone who didn’t clean up after himself or who couldn’t really collaborate on anything. And no one weaponizes incompetence like a drunk.

    • Oddly enough, my ex would constantly break things but, I realized, only ever MY things. When it started dawning on me what his game was I had just bought a pretty new table cover for my outside table. Not an expensive thing but I liked it, and I wondered aloud to my neighbour how long it would take before he ruined it. It took a whole 2 hours before it had cigarette burns in it. Also I have a beautiful old photo (over 100 years old) of my grandfather in uniform during WWI. It was on card and I wanted to put it into a nicer frame. Ex came over to “show” me how to do it and ripped my photo – I went balistic! I managed to cobble it together but he knew how much that photo meant to me and I just KNEW he had to spoil it!

      • I so feel you on this. Only things important to ME got ruined; ink spilled, dropped, used to wipe up dog vomit, used to clean out the cast iron skillet, used for bike repairs, knocked off the table and broken (to be inexpertly “repaired” to great fan fare… so that ever after I have to look at this thing with a huge crack and glue globules…)… on and on. I’ve lived in my new place since May and haven’t broken a single item. Nothing got broken in the move, nothing ruined, my towels stay clean, and that sight gives me pleasure. It’s amazing.

  • The guy who could manufacture incredibly ingenious, devious and detailed ways to go off and cheat was unable to operate the Food Saver.

    You know, the thing where you place the open bag of chips along its ledge, close the top and press ‘seal’.

    • Hesatthecurb.

      Thank you for the smile this morning 🙂

      and to it I will go a bit deeper:

      Mr. X didn’t even know what a Food Saver was or why one might be a useful gadget to have around.

      Apparently his motto, “If you can’t have sex with it or if it doesn’t make you look good, what use it or anything else.’

  • Klootzak never feigns incompetence at anything. He is the best at everything! Only he knows how to do everything the right way; everyone else is an idiot! Tasks were not divided up based on who what liked best or did better at it. They were divided up based on what ones he felt were beneath him. And if I could not be properly trained to do X thing, he constantly raises a stink about it. It got to the point where I refused his “training” because some things are just a matter of preference, which he cannot accept. Everything has to be done his way. So now I do everything my way and let him grumble and stomp his feet. It only raises his blood pressure while I stare at him blankly. His own sister said maybe one of these days he’ll just stroke out.

    Things that are beneath him: taxes, cleaning toilets, cooking meals, anything involving babies/children except harping on them to be perfect, clean little robots, and yard work, to name a few.

    When I bought a new, fabulous mower, he changed his tune about mowing the lawn. That was right about the time he also started making efforts to show the world that he is Super Dad. He won’t take care of the child when he is sick or needs a bath or help with homework or anything, but if one of his friends comes over, look at klootzak suddenly playing with the kid and paying attention to him! So there has been more of an effort since last D-day as he is trying to shine his image with friends and neighbors.

    I know how to keep house and yard perfectly fine, but if everything isn’t done his way, it’s wrong. I reached a breaking point years ago and hired the highest rated housekeeping service in the area. It lasted all of two months as he complained that they dusted the blinds improperly and whatnot. Nothing was ever good enough, so I gave up and let them go and went back to working full time at a demanding 50-60 hour per week job plus cleaning and playing hostess for the social gatherings he always wanted to host. Then when the first D-day hit, I stopped all of it. I took care of my things and let the blinds get dusted when I damn well felt like it.

    Looking forward to life without klootzak breathing down my neck like a prison warden.

    • He must have been hell to live with with, but, boy, do you know how to write it up in a way that had me laughing by sentence #2.

    • More or less the same experience I had. I was constantly having to defend our nanny’s too who he also found incompetent.

      I will admit, there were some things I tended to procrastinate because I was always so busy so I had to prioritize. Usually things like getting the battery replaced in my watch which required time to go to a jeweler and I had other ways to tell time (phone). He would be bothered by the fact that my watch battery wasn’t replaced and eventually do it himself. I thought he was just being nice to me and always thanked him. I never asked him to do it or even implied that I expected it. That kind of thing, of course, was just another example of my incompetence, he had to do everything for me, so no wonder he was dissatisfied and had to cheat.

      Ex would absolutely have used this article as proof positive that I was deliberately incompetent so no wonder he had to get away. I actually was trying but I just don’t have his sensibilities. This article is triggering to me because it implies that if someone can’t live up to another’s standards it must be deliberate incompetence and the one with the higher standard is in the right.

      • I feel the same way. I’m sure klootzak would say that because I fold towels differently than he does, I’m faking incompetence to get him to do it. Umm… no. Do I fold towels and put them away? Yes. But he will grumble because I keep the old, raggy towels I use to dry the dog after she has been bathed in the cabinet next to wear I bathe her rather than in the main linen closet down the hall. And he doesn’t like towels folded the way I fold them. He will pull them back out of the linen closet and dump them on my side of the bed to be re-done. And then he will tell my son loudly that he will have to learn how to fold towels because Mommy is too stupid.

        But yes, I feel like a narc like klootzak (or the bad guy in Sleeping With the Enemy) could use this article against a chump saying the chump is purposely not meeting his stupid standards.

        This is MY house. Not the military. He is not my commander. He can eat shit and die. That’s what I think of his “standards.”

  • There’s no way my ex should have been expected to acquire the complicated skill of scrubbing a toilet bowl.

    When I asked him to clean up after himself because he somehow made a huge, gross mess every damn time, he would do a half-ass job with one piece of toilet paper. I’d go back in with a scrub brush. I’m sure he knew I’d do that. Chumpy me. Wonder who cleans that shit now?

    • This is something I’ve wondered, too. He moved in with schmoopie right away and married her. And in 40 years, he only cleaned the bathroom once… as he was gathering his stuff to move out. He gloved himself up and was using throw away wipes like he was handling toxic chemicals. Just weird. Still a very odd visual memory for me.

      On a happier note, I take some cleaning products to the bathroom once every couple of weeks and give it a good cleaning…..but really, there is nothing to clean since he is no longer in my home. Very opposite of my usual twice a week scrub downs for my entire married life and it still was always gross.

      The other thing I’ve noticed is I buy lawnmower gas in the spring and then maybe need to fill up a gas can again towards the fall. There was not a week went by that he didn’t loudly proclaim that he was out of lawnmower gas and needed to make a trip to town before he could mow ( about an hour round trip plus extra time to run another errand, etc.). So, I’m guessing those were schmoopie sex calls. Now that I know it doesn’t take five gallons of gas a week to mow my lawn!

      • I have noticed that the bathroom mirror is no longer splattered with splatter from when he cleaned his teeth. Or the sink smeared with toothpaste blobs which had fallen off his toothbrush and which he hadn’t cleaned away. I never saw him clean a toilet. We had, I still have, a lovely cleaner, so he left his loo skid marks for me and as a backstop if I missed them, for her. The home is so much cleaner, tidier, and more cosy since he has been gone. And that’s in spite of a puppy! I also had the vision of him touching my stuff as if it was toxic. He did the whole edge of the bed thing in the last few years. And frankly I could not bear to be close to him in bed because he gave off this weird, oily, smell and heat. He was sweaty, on top of the drink induced sleep apnoea. I felt soiled by him even though in many respects he took better care of himself and was more physically attractive than he had been in years. Two months after he left I found out why. My body knew what my mind was trying to avoid. Lesson learnt: listen to my body, always.

        • I stumbled across the shrink’s evaluation of my ex for his invalidity request (he was diagnosed bipolar). On top of that the shrink stated that in his opinion he was an alcoholic and gave off a “fetid odour”, as well as potentially being a covert narc. This was written in French but when I looked up “fetid” it came back as an “extremely unpleasant smell”. Now he was mostly clean enough but he always had this greasy smell on him – and I know realize it was most likely due to his alcoholism! Yuck, don’t miss that at all!

          • That’s interesting Attie. Thank you. I hadn’t realised that the smell (not stale alcohol but a greasy smell) was a thing. It was off putting at the very least. There was a phase where his breath was disgusting too. He sorted that out once the affair ramped up, as much as it could over the Atlantic!

  • I read all of these stories (including mine) and wonder why anyone thinks they are required to live with such horrible, selfish people.

    And for what it’s worth, many women living with decent men who are willing to reciprocate and collaborate on house and yard work (men who don’t literally or figuratively pee on the floor) still report carrying the “mental load” of managing a home and family while working full-time on a paid job. That’s often called “invisible work” because the other party doesn’t want to see it.

    • Yes, even with helpful husbands, women still have to assign what tasks are to be done and when, write shopping lists, decide the menu for meals, etc.

      • Actually they DON’T have to do it. They do it because they were raised to do it, and their partners were raised not to do it. Then once they realize what’s going on, they choose to continue doing it.

        That, too, is something we can change. It takes some conversations and some persistence, but it definitely can be done.

        • I meant we have to if we are in a relationship with an entitled dude, because somebody has to do it, and he sure won’t. It’s something we can change, but certainly not with that kind of partner.

          FW became super helpful all of the sudden after Dday. Of course if I had stayed, he’d have gone back to his old ways as soon as he figured he could get away with it.

        • Fully agreed! I read a book about that while back and the author herself said “What are we supposed to do though? Table flip the family over it?!”

          Fucking yes. Table flip the family. These men want to be children, they need to get the fuck out. They literally shorten women’s lives with this shit. Baby men don’t deserve families.

          I started getting mean with my ex husband towards the end. Probably why I was brutally discarded but I was sick of it. I said things like “So I have to be the manager of the household and after 20 years you’re still the idiot new guy who can’t remember where the towels are?”

          20 years of begging him to be more involved and then he screams at me during divorce negotiations “And you need to teach me how to pay a bill!”

          These men should not be tolerated at all. It’s not ok. They aren’t stupid, they’re cowardly passive aggressive abusers.

  • I believe they like to “pee on your tree”. By taking OW/OM to all the places you went to. All the places you wanted to go to and doing the things you begged for, they are claiming them. It can’t be your planning, or dream or even your special recipe. After years of incompetence, this is how they claim all the glory of the life you created. So all the good was because of them , hence all the bad must be your fault.
    I’m so triggered by this thread, I can’t believe, looking back how little he did. On the good side I can do plumbing, electrical, put together or build almost anything. Made me very self-sufficient.

    • This triggers me too
      Just remembered one Saturday he came in from doing a surgical case
      I had been cleaning, doing laundry and helping his 10 year old son clean his room
      He said
      “I didn’t know you liked to clean so much”
      Huh?
      Fuck off
      Someone has to!!

  • Steadily since the 1970’s, women have increased their daily work load. They are working out of the home at twice the rate, plus STILL doing 80% of the domestic things at home.

    I remember this because, when I was looking back, I probably worked full time, did 100% child carting around and 85% of housework. The formula fit my life perfectly. I spent well over 2 decades in therapy trying to get husband to step up, he never did, his excuses were ridiculous and in the end I was blamed for everything not being peachy keen. It took some distance to see this.

    The last report I read, said women work 2 1/2 hours more a day than their male partners. Men are still taking traditional home rolls, without stepping with the “ladies work”.

    • This was my life too.

      When I think of the years of begging for help, crying, making chore charts for him like he was a child (which he of course refused to use) – I feel so sad.

      Why did I think asking for the 100th time would be the magical time it worked? He didn’t help because he didn’t want to help. He didn’t work because he didn’t want to work. His momentary pleasure was worth more than my suffering. Always was.

    • The Canadian gov’t is worried because the Gross Domestic Product fell in the month of July.
      And the reason? Many women did not return to their jobs after working from home, doing the usual house chores and helping their children with online school work. Most likely these ladies did the yard work too.

      Hubby dear isolated himself in a study/spare room and only appeared for pee breaks or a wife prepared meal.

      My ex/cheater did that while there was no pandemic and we have 3 children. Now how many hours are in a day? Peaceful life after the cheating trash left.

  • Another thing he did was pure malice: I couldn’t understand why I was constantly losing my keys. I’d look for an hour or so and finally he’d swoop in and find them. I’d be grateful and feel incompetent.

    One day he left the house while I was searching frantically, and I finally decided to go through every room systematically., no matter how improbable the place. I found my keys in a drawer IN HIS DESK.

    He had been hiding my things, enjoying my distress, and then playing the hero.

    He also loved big fights, so I didn’t give him one. When he got back, I showed him the keys, looked him in the eye, and said calmly, “Can’t understand how they got where I found them.”

    The similarity between this and the housework routine make me realize feigned incompetence is both a kind of passive-aggression and a form of gaslighting.

    It stopped after that.

    • It took many years of married life before I realized my ex FW did this, too. He loved to make crude remarks about how I didn’t take care of my stuff and I was so disorganized. My muttering in return was always about me needing to take care of an entire household and two children’s stuff – that if I – like him – only took care of MYSELF – I probably could handle it. And he would just continue to watch me stress and panic as I tore apart the house. Like I was a new tv show he enjoyed.

      In the last few years, with the children grown up and gone, I did come to the conclusion that he was hiding things and watching me freak out for his jollies and entertainment. And the biggest clue was that in the end, he would say something so ludricous as “Well, did you actually look in your purse?” And I would walk over to my purse and there would be my keys. Suddenly, magically, sitting on top, plain as day, in the place I had looked probably at least ten times in the past ten minutes. His smugness and face of glee what was finally gave him away.

      They are sick, sick puppies.

    • Just before D day when the abuse was ratcheting up on a daily basis, I had just taken a new (extremely stressful) job 2 weeks before Christmas. Cheater was also becoming a tyrant about the house being perfect.

      I will admit that I am a messy desk person, I just am, but just my desk, the mess doesnt spread.

      At Christmas, I had done everything with and for 3 kids, plus family, cooked and cleaned Christmas dinner, cleaned the house neat as a pin and done it all juggling the new impossible job.

      My only lapse was my own desk in a room that he didnt even need to bother with. I didnt dare touch his desk.

      I walked into my office the evening of Christmas and he had wiped everything from my desk onto the floor. When I saw it, I couldn’t even fathom how it got like that, who would do such a thing. He told me I was being punished for having it messy.

      Later, after Dday, he moved away claiming it was just “for work” but he was likely living with OW part time. When his year lease was up and he had the chance to move back home, he refused. I argued with him about it (which was stupid) and kept asking “why” (again, stupid). An hour and a half of discussing it and he said it was because the house was a mess. The house looked like a decorating magazine (except for the top of my desk).

  • I despise people who use fake incompetence to get out of scut work that any functioning adult could figure out. But I also get annoyed by the people who are taken in by it, eventually. I tend to ask ‘Does your (usually it’s the husband/boyfriend) hold down a job?’ Often it’s actually quite a demanding and challenging one; auto mechanic, lawyer ….’ Hmmmm, then what’s the chance he can’t figure out how to change a diaper/cook a simple meal/do laundry without wrecking things?’

    It’s another form of ‘it’s not that they don’t understand, it’s that they don’t give a fuck’ (my paraphrase; Dr. Simon is way too nice and Christian to put it that way. But we all know what he means!).

    But I did get taken in by Cheater Narc Ex’s lower energy than mine, and his crabbiness. He weaponized both, so that I ended up doing far more than half the parenting, household management, and management of our routines and social lives. Hmmmm, now that I think about it, even more than half the earning of $. He often had jobs that paid more than I made, but often changed jobs, voluntarily or not, leading to periods of unemployment. (17 jobs/contracts in 14 years – RED FLAG!) Aside from when I was briefly home/part-time after having babies, I made more money than he did every year until we split. Which would have been fine, if he had been working in a field that paid less than mine. But nope, our family depended on my financial stability, to get through the chaos he created.

  • When I was pregnant I read some books about child rearing. I invited X to read them/some/any/ONE! He declined. I wanted us to be on the same page about discipline, etc. He refused.
    Then years later, in the 2nd porn debacle, I searched for, found, bought, and read a book on the issue that I found really helpful, that both held out hope for the user but also made clear the damage X’s level of use could do to a relationship. I offered, asked, cried, begged, shouted for him to read it. I bought a second copy, so he would be “triggered” by my notes in the margins of the first one. He then asked me to summarize it for him. Because he “doesn’t really gain information from written material.” WTAF do you call your TWO college degrees, A-HOLE? Did your mommy read all your textbooks aloud for you?

    • I bought him books on relapse prevention. He never opened them. He wasn’t interested in relapse prevention, just in doing whatever he wanted whenever he felt like it and blaming me. I have since come to believe he never really stopped anyway–it was just a question of when I found out.

  • Yes.30yrs of weaponizing incompetence. More appropriately for my FW is he is just plain lazy. And I just jumped right in there and did what needed to be done even though I was working my ass off. He didn’t like gardening, I hired a gardener, didn’t like housekeeping, I hired a housekeeper, didn’t like grocery shopping, I did it on the weekends while he watched football, didn’t like cooking, he went out when I was traveling or we ate a lot of pizza and take out when I was working late. Etc. I was such a doormat-it embarrasses me. My friends used to ask me what FW did at home ..I didn’t get the message that I was doing too much. Oh well…stupid me. Glad to be free. Hugs to newbies!

  • The sociopath Lying Cheating Loser weaponized his incompetence in every act of adulting to the point he had me convinced he couldn’t function without me.
    Which suited me just fine for entirely too long. My cheater ex husband had systematically broken me down over the course of our 18-year marriage. E.g. he turned his nose up at my cooking and refused to eat it, claiming he “wasn’t hungry” or would “have some later” then go in the kitchen and cook something different for himself.
    After I left the marriage, I discovered, much to my own surprise, that I was a good cook! And I enjoyed it! And people enjoyed my cooking!
    I had been divorced a few years, still reveling in all my rediscovered areas of competence, when I met the LCL.
    It was a match made in dysfunction heaven! I got to feel competent, needed, and in control. He got to sit on his ass, play videogames, and sext women in secret.
    LCL was also a self-professed “horrible gift giver” and enjoyed withholding the small tokens of appreciation I requested (a bouquet of flowers from the grocery store, an occasional sweet note…).
    It’s been 3.5 years since I left LCL, and integral to my healing has been shifting the focus off of him and onto me. Why was his behavior acceptable to me? What payoff was I getting out of our dynamic?
    In closing, LCL is nowhere near as incompetent as it suited me to believe. He can adult just fine. It’s just more fun for him to have women doing all the heavy lifting on his behalf.

    • The gravy wasn’t “thick” like his mother’s.

      Granted.

      Funny story, while traveling he once ordered cream of mushroom soup at a dive place. They served him what looked like a can of condensed cream of mushroom soup without adding the water smashed down into a bowl and microwaved. He LOVED it. Made many comments about how “thick” it was and watched my face. What a complete idiot.

  • weaponized incompetence. more like weaponized refusal + controlling behaviours.

    my X was a good cook and washed the dishes. he grocery shopped only for items that he required for recipes he prepared on the weekends, and acted put out when i asked him to pick up milk and eggs, too. that’s it.

    1. when i forgot to remake the bed one day, my X, who went to bed before me, just slept on top of the mattress pad and pulled the duvet up to his chin. when i came to bed, i woke him and asked about it, and he said, “it’s your job to make the bed.” apparently for eternity and under all circumstances? i forgot. i had 2 kids i drove all over to their activities, etc.etc. and did it all. it was a lot.

    2. my X travelled internationally with business for a lotta years, so i did it all. 2 kids + dog + school life. his job was to take out the trash and shovel snow, if he was home for it. one day he says, “i’m tired of the male role model expectations of taking out the trash and shovelling snow in wintertime. why don’t you do it?” i suggested he do the laundry and he balked. FFS. he had one fucking thing to do.

    3. in the past several years, as part of the discard, he inferred i didn’t keep a clean house because there were a few items on the countertop, like mail and keys and an invoice, you know, the detritus of family life? i keep a clean house. i used to be a nurse, FFS; the bathrooms are CLEAN.

    4. my X had a thing about dirty dishes in the sink. if there were a couple dishes left from the daytime (e.g. pot from pre-boiling potatoes for dinner), he’d refuse to wash them with the dinner dishes. he would twist his mouth into a knot and refuse.

    now he’s living alone and struggling with all the household stuff. it’s no change for me, except there’s no help with the snow removal in winter. sure, i’ve had to learn more about banking + investment stuff, but beyond that?

    • FW makes a big deal about me cleaning while I cook. When we first married, he said he would clean because I was doing all the cooking. It very quickly changed to that I should be cleaning things while I was cooking so there would be nothing for him to clean at all. When he has finished eating, he just gets up and walks off. My son and I pick up the dirty plates and flatware and put them in the dishwasher. He doesn’t even push his chair back in after leaving.

      The other thing FW loves to do is arrive in the kitchen just as I have finished plating the food. He takes his plate and our son’s and runs them to the dining room and then calls our son in to see him setting the food down as though he were the one who just prepared it.

      • Good grief, another memory. The ex never, ever pushed his chair in when getting up from a table anywhere. Not a problem at home so much but outside home, in tiny restaurants, it was an accident waiting to happen. If I could, I would wait until he had disappeared to the loo, or bar or wherever, and use my foot under the table to hook the chair in. Or waiters would push it in with a glare. He’s the only person I’ve known who did this consistently. What was that all about!

  • My ex fuckwit took ‘Weaponized Incompetence’ to a whole ‘nother level!!!! He would not clean. But said he could clean better when we got someone in to help so we lived in horrible conditions. He would not cook. Nope he would not get his dry cleaning. Laundry HAHAHHAHAH. He would not help the kids at all with anything and every time he did he would call screaming because he was lost or I didn’t tell him where to park. He wanted to spend more than we earned and expected me to figure out how to make these things happen. Now that I left he still tries to pull this with parenting and it is why I have 90% custody… because he can’t handle more than that…. or doesn’t want to! Who cares I get to be the safe and sane parent almost full time. My kids are almost adults so I am almost done with ever having to deal with him. BUT YES along with being entitled to new exciting pussy they are entitled to do nothing too about anything. When I left he would call screaming how do I make the washing machine work. He was so upset he would yell you left me with EVERYTHING. That had me laughing for weeks after. Now he is horribly in debt but he has ALL the toys he ever wants. He loses his job that man will be bankrupt. Good Riddance!! Yes I am working on the reasons why I stayed for 28 years because WHAT was I thinking!!! PS… Self care comes to me in the form of a monthly cleaner for my apt I share with my teenagers and I have a lovely space full of warm, love, and nice art that he refused to let me hang on the walls of my house.

  • His not understanding how what he continued to do after we were supposedly healing hurt me. Once it was revealed that he was paying for sex for basically all of our marriage (and then some, who knows? doesn’t matter now!), I told him he lost the privilege to withdraw money from our joint account. Not that the other part of this — maybe don’t go to any place that is basically money for sex/sexual things? — was said, but it sure as fuck was implied and could probably be understood by anyone with half a heart. Well, he jetted off to Germany for an extended work trip, and the very day he was scheduled to come back, not only do I receive a bank statement from his personal account that money had been withdrawn (sneaking much?), but that he had used it to go to a strip club with the fellas after work. What the actual fuck? Has to be feigned ignorance when he couldn’t understand what the problem was, because otherwise he would be the dumbest man on earth. Nah, entitlement continued to soar for this asshat, who quite efficiently stated that nothing he did was wrong and his actions did not have consequences. Silly me for thinking that he would self-impose some repercussions for that shit. I sure as hell wasn’t going to continue to police him and explain to him why what he did was hurtful after the bomb he dropped on me, not to mention the fact that we had a daughter who was not even a year old. I used that glaring flag of narcissistic disregard for others as fuel and braced myself for all of the hurt I knew was going to come with doing what had to be done. That hurt would at least be temporary. Continuing to allow myself to be discounted and abused by this man would have been a lifetime of hurt.

  • Weaponized incompetence is only one of the many reasons I live alone, am not in a relationship, and am so happy I am retired.

    It is much easier keeping up a home without a roommate, going places with people who are able to buy their own ticket, pack, and show up on time (or get left behind), and not having to pick up the slack in a group project. I sometimes felt like the little red hen in the children’s story, and thought something was wrong with me because I felt responsible to see that everything was done. It is not that I didn’t want to be part of a team, it was that I had performance standards. I realized early in life that many people are just lazy, and they will feign incompetence to avoid doing their fair share of the work. Of course different people have different tolerance levels for cleanliness, or cooking, or laundry, etc., but you avoid many arguments if you just do not give them the opportunity to take advantage of you. I wish I had learned the lesson that it was ok to leave these folks behind early in my life.

    I was the oldest child of five, with two working parents. My parents assigned chores according to ability levels (youngest child would pick up toys, older child would sweep and so on) and there was no discussion about whether we liked doing our assigned chores. There were certainly consequences if we did not contribute to the best of our abilities. There was no smirking if you avoided work. There was a consequence for smirking, too.

    I tasted freedom when I finally left home to go to college. It was such a relief to only have to take care of myself, and my messes. Unfortunately, I did not relish my freedom long. I married young and learned about feigned, weaponized incompetence, and “women’s work.” What a fool I was not to provide consequences to my partners, and instead to shoulder more and more of the work. I did not have a daughter to train, but I taught my sons to clean, do laundry, and cook as they grew up. They may not do things to my standards, but they have to live with their own incompetence. I am not the servant. If I make a special effort for a birthday, or holiday, that is presented as an event, like a special performance by a musical group. I also do not set myself up for disappointment by asking them to do things for me. I hire people to do jobs that require special tools, or expertise. I love the efficiency of the lawn service that cuts my grass. They show up, have the job done in about 15 minutes, and I do not feed them, or do their laundry. I simply write them a check. If they were incompetent, I would find another service. Bliss!

    Leaving my cheater’s behind was the greatest gift I ever gave myself. No more broken dreams and promises, no more work inequity. It wasn’t easy, but my life was so much better without them. I didn’t know I could be so happy until I allowed myself to be.

    • THIS ^^^^^^^

      Beautifully expressed as always, Portia.

      I share a house with my sister and her son. My sister easily pulls her weight (I am in awe sometimes).

      We’ve both done our best with her son to enforce both chores and consequences – including correctly identifying feigned incompetence to him, and disrespect for the home compared to respect for the work environment.

      He’s 23, so we’ll see. But I’m really pleased to see that he’s graduated to ironing.

    • In my neighborhood, there are few homes that have garages or potting sheds to store lawn equipment. There are many good yard services that come do the work quickly and efficiently. I don’t mind doing the work in the spring and fall but can’t stand it in the hot summer. It’s my goal to one day hire a service to mind the yard regularly. No nagging or dealing with incompetence. Done with the stroke of my pen on the check! You’re living the dream!

    • So true for me as well.

      I always put up a large live Christmas tree – something that gave me, my ex and our 3 kids great joy.
      Every step of the process was a struggle
      I got so tired of waiting for him to participate or be around to help that I just started doing it all by myself – off the car, in the house, up in the stand, 100s of lights, ornaments from storage, etc.

      It turned something so joyous into a power struggle and with greater underlying resentment every year.

      One year, a local tree stand offered delivery and set up.
      Right where I wanted it, when I asked, without a scratch on any wall
      They even swept the floor and took all the trash with them.

      I still remember the feeling of revelation “this is how easy it can be”

      Almost everything is better on the other side

    • Yes Portia.

      Unfortunately, having lived with someone who feigned incompetence, there was a spill over wherein I ended up being the ‘bad’ guy because it was always up to me to ‘get the kids to do it’.

      That would play out as follows;

      In the beginning, the kids and I would pitch in to help him out when he had a ‘chore’ to do.
      Somewhere along the line he would quit/sneak away and there I would be with just the kids.

      That escalated to his not even starting a ‘chore’ and his ‘request’ of ‘ let the kids do it’. (I learned late in the game that this behavior is what is called being conflict avoidant.)

      Kids, being kids, began to resent the extra work so what was once a fun family thing to do turned into a power struggle. I had to cajole them and add consequences if the task was not done.

      And then Mr X would tell me I was mean when he would hear me bickering with one of the kids.(In defense of my children, they were/are really good kids but there was the ‘usual’ negotiating the non-negotiable that went on between a mother, children and chores)

      So not only did he extricate himself from helping out around the house but he essentially took the children with him via his example leaving it all up to me because without his support I learned I was fighting a loosing battle as they matured into adolescents. (‘Sabotage’ is the perfect word for what he set up. Damn he was good at what he did do.)

      Enter dday. Enter divorce. Enter NC.

      Freedom I wasn’t expecting in the form of having a job well done. Love my lawn service in the summer, the guy who shovels the snow in the winter and the woman who cleans my house every other week. Like you, I don’t have to call them, remind them or prompt them in how to do a job through to the end.

      The job gets done ‘professionally’. All parties happy in the end.

      No residual resentment.

  • My all time favourite CL post is the one about your having to be their “chaos janiter”. You know, how they would always keep you on the back foot by the constant chaos they would create/their fuck-ups that you had to sort out. A bit like having you run around the forest with a fire hose while they ran behind you with a box of matches. That was my FW. There was always something or other of his f… ups I had to sort out and it was always because “you speak better French than me”. How about not drink driving or hitting people’s car while drunk and it wouldn’t matter who spoke the best French???? And I remember him telling me what a lousy job I did ironing his clothes. I worked full-time, earned more than him, did all the shopping, cooking, cleaning and bill paying, plus all the kids’ stuff but “he hated the way I ironed his clothes”. So I stopped and guess what, he never ironed a damn thing, despite knowing how to iron beautifully since he had been a marine. He went out looking like a bag of shit from there on after! Ha, not my problem any more though is it!

    • This just stirred up a very old memory, Attie. When I was fifteen, my mom and younger sisters and I visited my (definitely fuckwit) dad who was working in France for a few months. When my dad (after several glasses of wine) drove us home one evening from a countryside visit, our rental car was hit by an even drunker Frenchman, who spoke no English and was slurring, besides. (Both were at fault, but the French guy was more at fault.) By that time, I was quite good at French and was the only person who could communicate. I got to mediate between my angry/drunk/blameshifting dad, anxious mom, angry/drunk/blameshifting French guy, and the insurance/rental company (a random woman had let us into her home to use the phone). Everyone was yelling at me and trying to get a favorable outcome, while I was trying to understand and translate and make sure we followed appropriate procedures, while also worrying I was going to get my dad/family “in trouble.” I wasn’t even old enough to drive, myself!

      I was a chaos janitor growing up (where life wasn’t nearly as glamorous as that story might have made it sound), so I guess this role felt normal when I became chaos janitor for my fuckwit ex and his family (his older sister admitted to me that she inwardly thought of them as ‘the Stupids’ through her childhood). I was really good at it. And, come to think of it, still am – when I reflect back on the week I just had at work. Time to apply some of the chump lessons I’ve learned!

      Oh, and Happy ‘National Custodians Day,’ CN! Speaking of people who don’t get nearly enough credit or compensation for their work and contributions…

      • Dropping the “chaos janitor” role was the absolutely the best – well that and still having money in the bank at the end of the month!

  • My ex’s form of this was strategic refusal or procrastination. He weaponized passive aggressive non-engagement. He simply didn’t do things, or, he’d offer to do something but never do it. And where he simply couldn’t get out of it, say, with a Christmas present for me, he’d make me tell him what I wanted and where he could get it–online. Over time I took on more and more responsibility for anything that wasn’t specifically to do with him (he did do his own laundry, although when I found out he was cross-dressing I realized why he was willing to do this).
    Every once in a while, though, I’d kick in the traces. In the early years of our marriage, I hoped I was teaching him something. So, for instance: he used to take his socks off at night and leave them on the couch instead of picking them up and putting them in the laundry basket, so I started stashing them under the couch cushions. After a bit he complained he had no socks in his drawer, and I lifted up the couch cushion and said, yeah, that’s because I stopped picking up your socks. In the last couple of years, though, after years of this behavior, when the devaluing ramped up, I made a deliberate decision not to do take care of a plumbing leak that I knew he knew about, because he passed by it multiple times a day. Finally, one night, the plaster fell down on the kitchen floor. I discovered it in the morning, and swept it into a pile right where he would have to walk from the kitchen to the dining room with his cereal bowl. I still ended up having to arrange with a plumber and contractor to fix the leak (and the plaster), but it was worth it to see him try to pretend he didn’t see that pile of rubble.

    I will pass over some of the traits he exhibited that others have mentioned–“glory cooking,” for instance.

    • My FW also used weaponized procrastination. He would leave dirty dishes in the sink, a mess after cooking, dirty clothes on the floor, broken things he promised to fix, unfinished projects, etc until I couldn’t take it anymore and took care of it. Then of course he would get mad at me because I would make him feel bad. His excuse was always that he was working so hard, as if I didn’t have a full time job too. Rinse and repeat for 11 years. In the end I was just doing everything without asking, with 2 kids. I was basically paying him to be his live in maid, nanny, cook and handywoman. Beats me why I did it now.

      It sure kept me busy and looking the other way when he was “busy” with OW.

      • Oh, and we couldn’t pay someone to help because we didn’t have enough money. He was very good at disappearing money from our joint account. The first thing he did when he got his own place was hire a cleaning lady.

    • Ah yes, the blindness to things like plumbing leaks and fallen plaster . . . .

      Mine broke two kitchen tiles having a tantrum about some canned good I had purchased the “wrong” brand of. He bounced the cans off the brand new kitchen tiles and they broke. The tiles, not the cans. Go figure. I told him it was his responsibility to get it fixed. (There were leftover tiles and grout in the basement.). It took him TWO YEARS to “find the time” to get to it — although he certainly had time for anything he wanted to do. After he finally fixed the floor, he put the leftover tiles and grout on the stairs and left them there for another two years.

      And I STAYED with that asshole.

    • The fuckwit could walk by anything that needed done without seeing it, and would tell me my standards were too high (if it was something that was his responsibility, like pee on the wall or something he broke) or that I had lousy standards because I loaded the dishwasher “wrong” or bought the wrong brand of whatever when the favored brand was unavailable.

      Mine broke two kitchen tiles having a tantrum about some canned good I had purchased the “wrong” brand of. He bounced the cans off the brand new kitchen tiles and they broke. The tiles, not the cans. Go figure. I told him it was his responsibility to get it fixed. I even looked up handy men and left a list next to his computer so he wouldn’t have to do it himself. (There were leftover tiles and grout in the basement.). It took him TWO YEARS to “find the time” to get to it — although he certainly had time for anything he wanted to do. After he finally fixed the floor, he put the leftover tiles and grout on the stairs and left them there for another two years.

      And I STAYED with that asshole.

    • The ex was a skilled procrastinator in a passive aggressive way. He works/worked (who knows now) for a fashion house. A fact of which he was out of all proportion proud. His in-house legal role had no career path, no influence, no leadership features (I was CEO of a high profile not for profit but had, in his words, ‘wasted my talents’). We were entertaining my university friends at Sunday lunch. One of them had a daughter looking for work experience at a fashion house. Ex was drunk as usual. He sprayed his largesse around, ‘get her to send me her cv. I’ll get her an internship’. You get the picture! The poor, innocent 17 year old sent the cv. He did nothing with it. Absolutely zero. I then had to manage my uni friend protective mother sending me emails asking what was happening. I ask him, feeling more anxious by the day. This poor girl had had her hopes raised, was waiting on him, and he was doing nothing. This went on for 6 months. Eventually I had to do the hard task of telling my friend that it was not going to happen and her daughter should look elsewhere. The spineless ex did not even have the guts to do that. My friend and I are still friends. She knew what I was dealing with. The ex felt no guilt, no empathy, no shame. With hindsight it was a deliberate action on his part, intended to increase my isolation and create confrontation and stress. This is a man who always relied on others to get him jobs. He rarely achieved anything on merit. Horrible, horrible man. I have no respect for him. And I feel sad about that.

  • As a medical student, resident, and then a practicing ob/gyn, I was away from home many many nights while the kids were growing up. He cooked meals and fed them, very competently. However, on holidays, when I would be in the kitchen trying to cook the holiday meal and he would be in there with me, he’d make me crazy asking stupid questions about recipes we’d cooked together for 20+ years. Weaponized incompetence indeed!

  • I got a full belly laugh from my divorce attorney on this one.

    My ex convinced me that he should write the agreement and then have his attorney bless it, and it would be “quick and easy.” I could then hire my own attorney to review it. Being broke and still a user of hopium, I agreed.

    Then he told me who had picked, and I was very nervous. That attorney hung out with the rich and famous and had one of the highest per-hour rates in the metropolitan area. He was known for winning absurd things for his clients and making the proceedings long and expensive.

    The agreement was absurd and only got more so as we negotiated. I won’t relate the details, but no way. Part of me wanted to give in and get it over with, and part of me was furious that he would even try that.

    So I began interviewing attorneys and settled on one that I retained. He immediately called the one that my ex had picked, and we found out that my ex was not technically a client at all but had only had a single conversation. He didn’t know if my ex would ever call back again or not. So when my ex was quoting “my lawyer” he was doing so on the basis of an informal conversation with an attorney who said he’d fight for anything if my ex retained him.

    My attorney was tied up in back-to-back trials and then went on a long anniversary trip, but I consulted with his associate several times on issues that were coming up in the self-written agreement. Finally, the associate said that he was feeling that his boss (the founding/managing partner) needed to look at the entirety of the agreement and that I should break off negotiations. So I called my attorney’s paralegal and got an appointment booked after his scheduled return. I told my ex that I was going in for a longer consultation.

    Then I received part of my ex’s retainer paperwork via email for me to fill out. So when you are retaining a divorce attorney to destroy your soon-to-be-ex, send her part of the retainer paperwork? I considered sending it back with a snarky “no way.” However, the associate had told me several times that everything would go better with my ex if he would just retain an attorney. So I filled it out. It benefited me for him to get an attorney as a buffer between. Ironic too, but it made me smile.

    When I went in to see my attorney, his first question was if my ex had retained an attorney yet. So I told him that I thought so because I had filled out part of the retainer paperwork for my ex. I said that his associate said that things would go better if my ex had his own attorney, so I didn’t want to get in the way of that.

    My attorney completely bust up laughing and said that he had never had a client in decades of practice do that as far as he knew. He commented, “You’re a smart one. I’m glad I took your case.”

  • This. 100%. Mine put an expensive bra half in half out of the dryer so it ripped in half—presto!! No more laundry duty! For about 30 years!!!! SMDH I was so young..

    • x ass would put my clothes in the dryer especially when I would ask him to not put them in the dryer. x ass only washed his clothes because I refused. looking back on the passive aggression, I’m so glad, so so so so so so glad to be free from it. so glad.

  • In my 17 years of being with FW he did pretty much nothing regarding child rearing, cooking, cleaning, house maintenance, etc. I was always the one who called in when the kids were sick even though I was working in healthcare and we were perpetually short staffed (imagine that!). He owned his own business where he could have worked from home those days. I did all the cooking, cleaning and shopping.

    I dreaded the holidays. I did all the shopping and usually on Christmas Eve he would berate me regarding the gifts I bought for his family(they were never the right gift in his eyes) and by the time we arrived, I was already almost in tears.

    One Sunday morning, I was attending a potluck breakfast for the women in my church. I cooked for the meal and as I was leaving he started yelling at me because I didn’t cook anything for him and the kids. He was so entitled he couldn’t even fix some toast or a bowl of cereal for him and the kids. By the time I arrived, I again was almost in tears.

    He was notorious for ruining special occasions and holidays because of his entitlement. The first Christmas away from him (2 months after final D-Day), I threw a huge Christmas party and had a good time. The stress of throwing a holiday party was WAY less than spending a holiday with him and his equally entitled family.

  • From The Office: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nsq0mkdpnEY

    Go to minute 2:04.

    Ryan: Hey, Pam? I just wanted to let you know; I’m totally on your side with the whole microwave situation.
    Pam: Thank you.
    Ryan: I was just back there, to make some cup-o-soup; the thing is still a huge mess.
    Pam: I know, can you believe it?
    Ryan: Yeah, it’s crazy. But, I guess the thing is at some point, notes or no notes, someone’s gonna have to just get there and clean it up.
    Pam: I guess that’s why we have a temp, huh?
    Ryan: Ah ha ha, oh no, trust me. I would just make it worse.
    Pam: How would wiping it with a paper towel make it worse?
    Ryan: I— I would find a way.
    Pam: You’ve seen things cleaned before though, right?
    Ryan: I— Pam, I am hopeless at that stuff I… I, uh…

  • Ex told me when I said “No you cannot be ‘poly’ so long as you are with me” that that somehow meant I was saying “you are free to be ‘poly’ so long as you never do so in my presence or allow me to know about it.” …

    Ex told this to all the friends and affair partners for years in order to shame them into not contacting me, on top of all the lies about how I was controlling, over emotional, and too prudish to have any sex at all.

  • I think I might have a winner for you.

    Prior to the birth of our first child in 1994 my water broke right by the front door leaving for the hospital.

    Baby was born at 7 pm the next day.

    Wasband slept at home for overnight to rest. When we arrived home with Baby Son, yep. The first thing I did was mopping up my own amniotic fluid. He had to have stepped over the drying sticky puddle repeatedly.

    Ten years later different partner new daughter. An Ice Storm knocked out power in half the city. His family stayed with us and took over our bedroom. Three days after childbirth I am sleeping on a couch.

    My in-laws chain smoking cigarettes indoors in front of their newborn granddaughter and my ten year old son.

    His adult brother demanded to be driven by my husband 30 miles to his cashier job at Meijer in a Level 2 snow emergency. For a four hour shift. At a job he would be later fired from for fraud.

    They ate all our groceries. Husband would not bring me even a sandwich and I couldn’t go in the smoke filled kitchen to cook my own At one week I chipped the minivan out of a snowbank took the kids and went to buy my own.

    With an episiotomy while FIVE able bodied adults stood at the window and watched.

    When we got home I was told I was the a-hole for making his family feel unwelcome.

    My picker wasn’t broken, I didn’t even have a picker.

  • Skipping down to the bottom because busy workday, but just to say this is SO timely. At work, I’m leading a search for a new hire, and we’re working to try to increase diversity in the department. The person to whom I report directly is NOT making it easy. Whenever I ask for direction on this very sensitive process, they seem to go into a fog, they speak in circles, they deflect. They say “I don’t know” a lot to direct questions.

    My friends don’t want to consider that this person sucks. They keep trying to find good motivations, benign misunderstanding.

    Does it matter *why* this person is putting roadblocks in front of a diversity hire? Does it matter *why* they don’t care what it would do to the psyche of a person of colour to watch a person in power deliberately try to scuttle this action that is on the good side of history?

    I had a meltdown at work on Tuesday when told by this supervisor to “go ahead” with the posting when the day before I had just sat in their office trying to get clarity on a number of issues. I asked direct questions and got word salad. I was trying to figure out why it hit me so hard; I was dissociating, crying, like I had just found out someone was cheating. I tried to teach my class and spaced out so bad I had to be walked back to my office.

    It took me the whole day and night to figure out that the supervisor is gaslighting with this technique. This is a person who runs things at a University; they can be clear when they want to be. But when it comes to race issues (which a diversity hire is), they are not sympathetic, and their way of showing their resistance is to just pretend to be confused about what they do and don’t know.

    It may be considered cute to lie about not knowing how to do the laundry to get out of it. But fake confusion / deliberate incompetence around supporting a partner and handling responsibility is twisted. It’s cruel, even.

    Fake confusion / deliberate incompetence around doing what needs to be done to make the workplace, and the education system, safer and fairer for people of colour is fricking disgusting and terrifying. My body reacted accordingly. I’m still feeling the aftershocks. Like a chump surrounded by people who think getting cheated on is no big deal, I’m surrounded by people who have no idea what it feels like in the body to be the token Black woman in an institution of 1500 employees: they’ve never experienced it, they could only ever intellectualize it. But now I still have to try to make this hire happen, with a resistant supervisor, even though I’m the only one in my workplace who lives the reality of why we need this action and *feels* it from the perspective of the chumped/oppressed.

    Really, I could barely drive home on Tuesday. I broke down crying in front of my students.

    I realized I wish there was a Chump Lady for POC in the workplace. I searched and found one podcast with like two episodes. Not much, but it helped.

    • I also work in a University and I feel this times a billion. Luckily my department is quite wonderful but the University as a whole has pushed out an immense number of employees of color very recently and don’t even get me started on the University-wide deep ableism. Thank you for all of your hard work to try to make for a better world. I see you and am so grateful for your efforts.

    • I am so so sorry Magnolia. I am in academia also, and see this a lot. I hadn’t connected the dots from the workplace gaslighting to the home experiences. I see what you’re up against. Big hugs if you want them.

    • I experienced this my entire work life. Not just for a diversity hire, but for any hire, or any project, or any evaluation of the entire office workforce. People were given passes for work behavior based on non work factors. I often was the only woman in a male dominated environment. Hun, can you pick up the donuts and coffee on your way in? And, or course, clean up afterwards. It is so hard to start work without caffeine and sugar provided by someone else!

      My son has been trying to hire a candidate for his recently vacated position. He was promoted. He is having difficulty finding younger less experienced candidates who want to step up to a management position AND are willing to work the extra hours and duties required. They are unwilling to help the employees they will supervise when they are in a jam, because they want to “manage” which they equate with more money and less work. That attitude never, ever worked in any situation I was in my entire work life. However, I was “managed” by several people who never got their hands dirty, or worked on weekends. Some people have a work ethic and “can do”. Others show up for work when it is convenient, and never take responsibility or see what needs to be done. It is a wonder to behold, and a crapload to endure!

  • This is such a good post. When I got married to FW, he would blame me and our 2 year old for coming into his space and that’s why he didn’t like to clean. He purposely did not want to give me access to his bank account, save money or take food from him because he was a “not a dog to be trained” and I would be wearing rags and not buying anything to try and pay down our debt. I was the secretary of the family who would handle the taxes and got him out of many issues financial wise with credit cards and loans and car payments because he couldn’t be bothered. Constantly lugging his laundry, my laundry, our sons, and linens to my moms alone or with child while he got to be free and play video games. I realize now that they wouldn’t be doing this crap at their jobs. Because he stayed in top shape at work even getting bonuses. What a fuckity fucking fuck face asswipe – POS

  • I have long referred to this as the tyranny of incompetence. Kids do it in addition to spouses. You ask them to do a chore and they mess it up, hoping you won’t ask again.

    In my fuckwit’s case, though, he really is staggeringly incompetent at anything other than tech stuff, so it was often hard to determine which part was deliberate. This is a man who, while I was away for several months with a sick relative, only cleaned one of our three toilets once in all those months. When asked about he tried to claim toilets don’t really need cleaning, you just have to wipe off the seat from time to time. He even had the gall to argue with me about it, until I got a source he couldn’t refute that showed e. coli is found both in and all around the toilet, up to nine meters away, in fact.
    He never once cleaned a floor, a sink, or the bathtub, in all the time I was away. All he did was load and unload the dishwasher and the bare minimum of laundry.

    • Oh, and he would go to the gym and throw his sweaty, and I mean soaking wet, gym clothes, including underwear, right on the hardwood floor.

      He has psoriasis and would pick his scabs and flick them all over the floor, wherever he happened to be. Truly disgusting. I would protest and he’d promise not to, but I would still find them. How hard is it to get a tissue and put them in it? Lazy SOB.
      He did something similar with peanuts- flick the shells and skin everywhere. I had to ban peanuts from the house because he just would not stop.

      He has literally never ironed a garment in his life and doesn’t know how. Rather than bother to have me show him, he wore wrinkled clothes, because I refused to do it. I had to draw the line somewhere and that was it.
      I could go on all day about what a slob he was.

    • FW clips his nails in the bedroom or living room and leaves the clippings everywhere. Once his one friend and friend’s wife were coming over for dinner. I saw his clipper and nails on the table next to the couch. He has wide nails so they were very obviously his. I just left them there. I didn’t care if his buddy and buddy’s wife saw them. I was tired of hosting drinking parties for them, anyway. Just like the scabs you speak of, I don’t feel we’re are responsible to pick up things that came off another person’s body if they are an able bodied person. People should remove their own scabs/nails in the bathroom and throw them in the trash. Disgusting. Oh, and this FW is a retired military officer and perfectionist about how I fold towels or clean windows but leaves his effing toenails out on the living room table!

      • My dad, who was career military, did this same thing with his nail clippings, until my mother scooped them into an envelope and mailed them to his workplace. He never did it again. Is it a military thing?

  • Yep. Early in our relationship, Dracula broke every dish in the dishwasher and then shrugged and was like “I guess I suck at loading the dishwasher”. Then, less overtly, over the years, poured bleach directly into the washing machine in order to ruin clothes, towels, etc, so that I would take the chore of laundry away from him, as well. By the end, he was literally DOING NOTHING.

    In addition, he would intentionally break appliances and major systems in my house – like the furnace – that would then “fail/break” once he was “on a business trip” so that 1) it would cause more work & chaos for me and 2) it would manufacture this air of “see, you can’t live without me, I’m indispensable”

    If anything, it was easier having him gone, as I then had no one sabotaging me, my household, or my appliances.

  • Too utterly exhausted to read the comments yet, but this post is very, very timely. Am typing the following with still-shaking hands:

    I just spent two weeks at my cheater father’s house after his release from the hospital. Literally repeatedly wiping shit off the walls while his wife (his affair partner from 50 years ago), had her in-mansion manicure done but actually had to drive herself to the standing appt to get her hair bleached blond. Boo hoo. My sister is there now for the weekend, so wife is out to lunch with friends, hoping sister will deal with visiting nurse and PT today.

    Denial is rampant among my ultra-wealthy retired sisters, one of whom might have to switch her cruise down the Danube, another who was on vacation in HI so why was I bothering her, another who was aghast that she might have to fly up here to NY from Naples, FL, and the Ipswich, MA, waterfront-mansion-sister who actually went to see Dad in NY yesterday. Today got a video of him walking outside, wife with her hand up protectively. FL writes how wonderful to see such affection, and I reply that either she’s protecting her manicure or she’s ready to push him away so that he doesn’t fall on her. (Safety tip I learned when I cared for Mom the last year of her life, and siblings made me pay $800/month rent for privilege of taking out HER poopy diapers.)

    Here is what I hope will be my final message to them on the subject, where I try to remind them AGAIN that I am a half-blind, cognitively impaired stroke survivor since Feb 23, 1991. Thirty years and nine months later of falling/getting lost daily, and I still hear “But you look normal. We don’t understand why you keep harping on this.”

    “To those of you who keep telling me that I look just fine, never would have known I had a stroke, etc., here is a text I sent yesterday to my good, kind friend (name), as just one example of why I cannot travel on busy days and probably have made my last drive to NY:
    “Already in MA. Stopped in far corner of parking lot to avoid cars, peed at a Panera, some nice lady kept waving me to pull out, I kept waving “no thanks,” finally went, and got screeched at/reamed out/welcomed to MA by the horrible lady who had entered the crosswalk. Many apologies, much contrition, more screeching “Jesus Christ lady what the hell is wrong with you?!?!?!” (from her, not me) Presently sitting in bank parking lot now trying not to puke on my lap.”

    No response from any of siblings. No surprise there, of course. And that’s a BIG clue as to why I married not one, but two lying, cheating assholes. PS: Gonna tell my therapist that I now spell my name with a capital E, since I’m done literally minimizing myself. Eirene

    • Eirene, My God! How awful.

      Just curious: Why are you helping your cheater’s dad? I took my MIL to a doctor’s appointment right after D-Day, but then I realized I needed to stop doing that. Now I’m NC with her, too. It’s done wonders for my mental health.

        • Sorry if I was unclear, as I’m still blitheringly exhausted. The now-stepmother of 50 years had previously been my mother’s best friend. She and Dad carried on an affair, got married, then she cheated on him (surprise, surprise), but I guess he thought that two divorces might tarnish his image. My brother (Dad’s executor/financial agent) claims that Dad rewrote his financial agreement with her back in the 1980s after her dalliance with HIS best friend. (ha ha ha). And during the last two weeks of hell-on-earth she kept telling me that only the first ten years she spent with my father were really worth it, because that’s when she had the most fun.

          • @Eirene,

            I’m so sorry your family is so dysfunctional. I sincerely hope they mix up the bleach for your step-bitches hair and the formaldehyde for her nails. And I’m a stepmother myself.

            If I was you, I’d walk away from not-so-dear Dad as well as your siblings because I’ll bet dollars to donuts you will probably get about $2 from the will. Don’t ask me how I know about that, either as a long time caretaker of my mother and veteran of the legal battle to protect her assets.

            Do something nice for yourself this weekend and I wish I was near Mass to give you a sympathetic hug.

      • Her cheater father, not her cheater’s father.

        Take care of yourself Eirene. Your sisters sound like a bunch of insensitive, selfish bitches.

  • The EX definitely did this all. the. time. In fact, I was so convinced that he was just a bumbling fool and totally incompetent that I did not suspect him of cheating or fraud. I thought he wasn’t smart enough to pull it off. I always did paperwork (he couldn’t figure it out), gardening (he didn’t know how), helping het kids with their homework (he couldn’t remember how to do basic math), and so on and so on. Imagine my surprise to uncover a whole double life that involved a lot of falsified paperwork and complex fraud schemes. It turns out he wasn’t incompetent at all when it came to getting money illegally and cheating on me. But even after he was caught, he tried to convince me that the reason he did bad things was that he didn’t know the difference between right and wrong and he needed it explained to him.

    • Carol39,
      I had a similar reaction to my ex’s double life. How did this man who seemed so incompetent (outside of work and fishing) manage it all?

      I guess it’s not hard to withdraw cash frequently, make hotel reservations, lie, and sneak around. But I’m a bit surprised he figured out how to delete texts. Last I knew, he had trouble distinguishing between texts and emails. And I always had to help him attach a document to an email.

      Then again, schmoopie is 12 years younger than he and presumably more tech-savvy. She probably gave him some pointers on how to manage texts and open a new email account. : /

  • I always cooked for us. Until he decided he was a master chef – OMG the mess and horrible meals I had to endure with a smile and praise! and then he took pictures of and posted on FB for all to admire his expertise. NO cooking training at all, and I was raised by a family of foodies and 3 professional chefs, but god forbid he listen to anything I had to say about techniques, etc…
    The rule I was brought up with was whoever eats the cook’s food, cleans. He’d ‘wash’ the dishes, we didn’t have a dishwasher, he’d use little to no soap so all the dishes had a film of grease on them and I would have to rewash. He tossed things into cupboards where they didn’t belong. Or just left it all piled up on the limited counter space.

    Towards the end I started to loose all patience with his games and machinations.

    He bitched at me about not helping him fill the diesel fuel tanks. I am really sensitive to fuel fumes and he knows it. So I told him that I would start helping him with the fuel the day he started to help me clean the bathroom and toilet. He never asked me to do the fuel again.

    He is totally incapable of understanding basic computer management and care. He constantly screwed up his computer(s) by getting viruses and all sort of other computer issues. He would beg me for my help. I would fix the computer and explain what he was doing to cause the issue and what he should do instead. Then he’d blame me for screwing up his computer when it got messed up again because he completely ignored my advice. After we went ’round with that a few times I refused to work on his computer anymore. Boy was he livid about that!

    He is a hoarder. You couldn’t fully open any door in the house, or walk clearly down a hallway because of all the stuff he had piled up. He’d bitch at me when I tried to clean anything of ‘his’. Got to the point when you walked into our bedroom, 1/2 of the room was clean and neat, and the other half was piles of clothing and crap covered in dust and cobwebs. But God forbid I touched any of it – and at that point I wouldn’t have touched his stuff except to take a blow torch to it.

    And for a guy who could pick out a deer’s ear tip or asshole at 300 yards, he couldn’t find anything of his in the house. I finally got so tired of dropping what I was doing to constantly look for his things that when he’d ask me ‘where I put it’ or to find it for him, I’d ask how much it was worth it to him to find it? “$20 bucks and I tell you where it is” – and its staring him right in the face. That was fun to watch how mad he got.

    Can’t image how he’s making it through life now without a wife/mother appliance. But I don’t really care ’cause my computer is smooth, I’m not wiping up his piss, I know exactly where my keys are, I have a dishwasher, and fuel company handles my fuel.

  • I’ve been reading Chump Lady almost every day for 6 years, and one thing I frequently see are newbie chumps worrying if the cheater will be better with the AP then they were with them, and somehow the chump has missed out on the potential of a great partner.
    My (ex) cheater’s (Wormtongue’s) favorite game was feigned incompetence. He wasn’t capable of paying the bills, doing any chores or even watching his own kids for an hour while I took a nap. Now he’s married (not to an AP- they were all young girls who thought it was thrilling to date a married man, once he was divorced there was nothing left/ no reason to keep dating him).
    Now Wormtongue does it all for his new wife- he cooks, he cleans. He lets me know through my kid (visitation) that he hand picks cherries and cooks cherry pie from scratch. THIS is what I’m missing out on, what he would always have done for me if only I had been worthy. Don’t I feel bad now (*not really)? If anything it proves without a shadow of a doubt that he was always playing games and was always capable, which is pretty sick. He would trash our place and then have a full blown “panic attack” if I asked him to help clean. I would have to give him step by step instructions for how to take out the garbage. After, of course, his panic attack was gone (which could only be calmed by hours of video games or disappearing from the house for hours). If I really pushed him to help out he would end up in the hospital from a supposed suicide attempt whispering in a weak fragile voice to his family that Boudicca pushed him over the edge with her incessant demands (I.e. asked him to do the dishes ONCE A MONTH).

    But, all is not now how it seems (he’s letting everyone know that he’s the perfect husband now! It was Boudicca that trashed the house and ruins Good Men!) because then my kid, after telling me about the cherry pie (and I give her the “cool bummer wow” response) says- the weird part mom is that his new wife can’t eat sugar (it’ll make her very sick) and hates cherries. He actually made the pie for her newly single sister.
    Weird!
    It’s all a game folks. And your cheater might change the game but they will NEVER magically become a great partner overnight (or even over 6 years). They are just playing a different mindfuck game, with you, with their new partner. Do I feel like I am missing out on a guy who cooks and cleans? Not. For. A. Second. Of course, I’m gray rock, so Wormtongue has no clue that this new strategy of his only confirms to me without a shadow of a doubt that he was a shitty partner (for 20 years!) because he CHOSE to be. He once made me clean up mold while 9 months pregnant. It gave him a panic attack.

    So no, I don’t want to get back with him even if he didn’t cheat or he started doing his fair share of cooking and cleaning. He would just find different ways to torture me. He’ll never change his heart. He would cook things I’m allergic to, would “accidentally” break my favorite things cleaning. Would still cheat.
    So chump newbies, never fear that he or she would become the partner of your dreams if you give up on their potential. They will always be the person (in their heart) that is okay with betraying you. Who believes the only way they can get what they want in a relationship is to mindfuck you. They will bake poisonous cherry pies for your little sister. 🍒🥧

  • I am pretty new to this and have been lurking a bit. After D Day in July, I moved to the guest room, lined up the ducks, became the marriage police, got a huge load of evidence, lawyered up and within the next few weeks the FW will have to move out. I already warned my mother that his area is going to require a boatload of bleach and sanitizing products. Looks like we may have to go to the bulk sales stores because it will be a mess and no doubt stuff will have to be boiled or trashed. The thought of his DNA all over the place creeps me out. Never did housework, never cooked and whined when I did these things. Needless to say, I have only seen him wash his sheets once since July!!!!!!!Glad he is taking the bedroom furniture. I don’t want any of it. Thinking about purchasing a hazmat suit.

  • I experienced this as: his only job was to take out the garbage. If a bag split in the wooden bin he would leave the bits and never clean them up. Mice and other creatures would hang around the bin until I put on gloves and cleaned it. This sounds petty, but it was very frustrating and he knew it bothered me.

    One year he asked me what I wanted to eat for my birthday, I said KFC. So what did he go out and pick up? Chicken. No fries, no salads, just a box of chicken. For the 5 of us. How obnoxious is that? He claimed he didn’t know any better. Like hell.

    Childish baiting and then a demonstration of befuddlement. It wears you down so much, and it seems so trivial, but that is what they do. Dog you with stuff that seems trivial, but is actually really hurtful.

  • Oh the stories I could tell about Cheater #1 and Cheater #2. Rather than bore you, or bring the website down with all the examples, let me summarize:

    C#1 was handy, admittedly. But he weaponzed that. “I can do it myself!!11!!!” was his refrain so Goddess forbid one try and hire someone to do something undone for YeaRs, not months. When I moved into a fixer rental after leaving his sorry ass, I was amazed at the stuff I fixed on my own — in addition to building Jr.’s toddler bed, matching dresser (still in use in my office today) and a really kewl butcher block kitchen island (also still in use today). My wonderful cousin always ribs me that there is no better partnership than a guuurrrrlll and her tool kit.

    C#2 and I had an agreement: If he maintained the floors (dog fur and kid messes) then I’d do the rest because, why yes, I AM a picky bitch. That lasted less than a year. He always complained I had to do thing MY way. Well, yeah, I cop to that but I have a reason for it: I have ADHD and learned to create structure and process so as not to drive myself crazy. If you ask, I’ll tell why I’m doing something a certain way so you know I’m not doing it, really, to be a picky bitch. It’s so I can cope with my neurodivergent brain and not wear myself out on useless tasks.

    The good news is I just took back the former rental, living without him and I’m loving having no hair in the drain/tub/floor and not having to wade through the messes of someone who grew up with servants and thinks chumps are servants who just happen to put out. Good riddance.

  • My STBX makes a it big deal when he cooks dinner. He announces that he’s going to do it (kibbles required), then when he’s cooking, he usually says “are you going to come in and learn something?” with the insinuation that I shouldn’t want to be working/resting for once but instead should be learning new cooking techniques from him (more kibbles needed). Then he uses a ton of dishes and leaves the kitchen a mess to clean up. Give me take-out any day, rather than having to put up with that.

  • My ex was always forgetting things, even when he was in his 20s. I just thought he was like that. His mom called him an absent-minded professor. He constantly left his wallet, left his keys, forgot where his car was parked. This was a permanent issue. I just learned to live with it.

    Fast forward 23rd year of our marriage, our family was going to Canada for Christmas. He was supposed to load the suitcases in the car while I finished locking up the house. When we got to the airport, we realize that he had left his suitcase and my teen daughter’s suitcase at home! So predictable! Instead of getting mad at hin, I was mad at myself for not double-checking.

    But here’s where it gets fishy. He and I handle the situation totally differently-I said, “Do we have all passports? If we do, that’s ok. We can buy clothes there.” His solution was this: “You and the 3 kids go ahead and take the flight. Let me go home and get the suitcases and I will fly out and rejoin you tomorrow.” I was so confused–why?!! We were not going camping. I explained that we were going to a city with stores that sell clothes. And it was Christmas eve! If he didn’t fly with us, we wouldn’t be together for Christmas eve and most of Christmas day. It made no sense. He argued his point for 10 minutes then eventually gave in. We all flew together and all had a nice Christmas week in Banff.

    Five months later was D-day. Found out he had an affair ongoing for 3 years. Through the months, learned more and more details. This Banff trip was one of the big heartbreaking eye-openers. He had actually left the suitcases on purpose. He wanted to be left behind. He was going to join AP and family for Christmas while the kids and I would be in another country. He would feign “couldn’t get any flights, sorry to miss Christmas with you guys.” Learned later that while we were in Banff, he was Venmo-ing money to his AP and her kids–Christmas money because his plan to be with them fell through. As soon as we arrived back at home, he told me he suddenly had a work assignment (he’s a traveling physician). He actually joined them for a week for New Year’s.

    The trauma of that memory is now so deep.

    So here’s what I learned. The incompetence is BY DESIGN. It is the way they keep us from expecting too much, the way they keep us frazzled and busy, the way they keep us looking away from what they are actually up to. It is a sleight of hand. Our 23 years of marriage were nothing but a joke to him. It was 23 years of his cruel enjoyment of watching me falling for his feigned incompetence.

    • Chumpupthejam, your post resonated so much. The ex spent the 26 years of our relationship resenting me because I was not his ex gf (he eventually left me for her but has never admitted it, to me at least and I have had no non-divorce related contact with him for nearly 2 years). I have no idea why he married me nearly 20 years ago. No idea at all. She was married and in Canada. We are in the UK. Perhaps he thought marrying me would pass the time until she wanted him back. And emotionally and financially abusing me during the 26 years seemed to give him considerable pleasure. With therapy and lots of FOO work, I am trying to focus on the practice of holding myself in higher esteem, setting boundaries and honouring them, and investing the love I have to give in me first, not last (no kids here). That practice is hard. The ex adopted similar deceitful, duplicitous activities to the ex you describe. Constant lying, shiftiness, excuses, dressed up as ‘little boy lost’. Everyone indulged his behaviour, which included alcoholism. The laugh, the ‘it’s who he is’. At least I wasn’t the only person fooled. Sadly he lied about why he left me (I’m crazy – look what he had to put up with). He couldn’t leave and let me have any dignity. I too am traumatised by particular memories. I deserved better, as did you and your children.

  • My ex used to say that she wanted to be more involved in the household and finances.
    But whenever she took on any thing of importance , she would call her dad and get him to sort it out.

    During marriage counselling she wouldn’t talk as she was too she to talk in public and front of other people. Apparently.
    So the counsellor changed it to one on one sessions with her .
    That led to nothing .
    After we separated I saw that counsellor once more . She told me that my ex was a covert narcissist; and that she was initially fooled as well, by the “ timid forrest creature “
    Ah well

  • That dang playbook is real. So many familiar sounding experiences. Other than a thousand times “Yes this”, nothing to add.

  • One more feigned incompetence… anyone else have a cheater who pretended he didn’t realize when women were flirting with him or that the way he was acting would be interpreted as flirting? Or pretended not to know a member of the opposite sex was treating him like a boyfriend? I have too many examples of this to mention, but FW’s ploy early on was that he had no idea what was going on. In hindsight, he was instigating these incidents and the women were responding to him and he damn well knew it. Once, an “old high school friend” (we were almost 30 at the time) drove from Kentucky to Virginia worried about him because she hadn’t heard from him. Was standing on our porch in tears on a Saturday morning at 7 AM. He made her out to be crazy.

    • Oh, yes. I have so many examples of this! It took me YEARS to figure out he was maintaining a harem and some flying monkeys. The day I did was the day I took off my wedding ring for good. I never considered it as weaponized incompetence, but DAMN! You are absolutely right!

  • The psychology term is “learned helplessness”.
    Unfortunately, the behaviour is usually attributed to the chump.

    This is unfortunate because it is used very effectively as an abuse tactic to avoid accountability and gaslight.

    • That’s actually not what ‘learned helplessness’ is, let’s not confuse things. But ‘weaponized incompetence’ is a great term! I used to call it ‘deliberate incompetence’, but saying it’s weaponized is so much more accurate!

  • My FW called me whining that he was “Going to have to go to bed without any dinner.” I wasn’t home to cook because I was taking care of my elderly mother, who had just gotten out of the hospital. Maybe, it wouldn’t have been so bad, except for the fact that HE WORKED AS A CHEF FOR A LIVING!
    I was an idiot for tolerating that selfish manchild for so long. The cheating was just the crappy cherry on top of the giant shit sundae.

  • All these posts have some things in common. The common denominator is that an adult spouse/partner chose infidelity as a means to exit an adult relationship when responsibility and obligations to the marriage and chump became real. All the scripted responses of how the cheater went about the process have something else in common.

    What do young people, teens and immature young adults all have in common?

    Poor impulse control
    Weak self control
    Mood swings and emotional dysregulation
    Tantrums and threatening behaviors
    Entitlement, bullying, demanding responses
    Passive agressive, emotional numbing, ghosting behaviors
    Love/hate relationships with maternal and paternal figures while growing up.

    Chumps entered into relationships with immature childlike physically grown adults. The intellectual, emotional and spiritual componenets of maturity never developed. Yes, it’s sad and we cannot do a thing to hasten their future development because it’s a self-development journey for the cheater to grow into a mature woman or man.

    • The observations are correct. I am not sure that the conclusion that there will be growth and maturity in the end are always correct.
      Could be of course. Other cheaters just spin the wheel and repeat the same nonsense. My guess is that there are more than one possible outcome.

    • Yeah, another mistake Chumps make; that they will somehow grow out of their immaturity, through life experience and judicious coaching and encouragement from the Chump.

      Doesn’t happen.

      Someone is over 25, maybe if we’re being generous, 30 ys old, and they haven’t figured out basic adulting? They never will. Because they’re not capable, or not interested.

      My Ex is the perfect example of a toddler, or maybe a pre-schooler, in the body of a grown man. Super smart, too! PhD in plasma physics (I still am not sure what that means …), MBA…. But smart apparently has no relationship to maturity.

  • Agreed, AFS. I don’t imply all man/woman-children mature successfully through growth forward. More often not. Imagine a child trying to grow up in an adult world. The time to do that was under the cover of the family of origin; the natural environment to have been trained up. The stakes as an adult are much higher and riskier. It’s much easier to settle at their level, which is why the AP is their mirror.

    Like attracts like. Chumps partnered with cheaters on the same level initially. Hence the attraction and attachment. Time brought change, responsibility, obligations and opportunity for growth. Chumps grew, changed and became functional in the relationship while cheaters lagged behind until exit.
    That’s all they’re doing in the next relationship, recreating the same dynamic.

    It’s easier to build strong children than to repair broken men. – Frederick Douglass

    • I copied this from a previous post because it reflects my story.
      Dear Schmoopie,

      “Thank you for taking this lazy, emotionally immature, poor-excuse-for-a-husband and father, loser off my hands. Please do not return this garbage to me, as I will simply send it back.
      Good luck! You’ll need it. “
      PS you may also wish to add “ arrogant, entitled and boring to this list of fine qualities “.

  • This has been one of my all-time favorite threads. All I can say is, YES, YES, and YES! Lazy, selfish, lying, cheating, grotesque man baby is gone. I wish it was for good, but he donated sperm, so I’m stuck forever. Glad I’m at meh but wish I could take back every nice thing I ever did for him.

  • I see so much of my dad in these comments – even as a child, if we were eating together he’d wait until someone else got up and get them to take his plate in the kitchen. It actually got to a point where I’d often just sit tight until he finally got tired of waiting, because I didn’t like the feeling of being treated like his personal waitress. There’s tons more I could add but we’d be here for days!

  • Weaponized Incompetence… cannot believe there is a term for the fact that if my ex did ANYTHING, it was always half-assed! I actually used to say that he purposely did a crappy job (at whatever it was) so that I will never ask him again. And, believe me, he did very little! I have a half painted garage, half painted closet, crooked towel rack, a leaking boiler, etc. I honestly used to wonder how he could possibly not take pride in what he did.
    He never had a problem criticizing all that I did though.

  • Has anyone else heard: “I am really bad with dates and timelines”. (?) “Bad memory” etc. But they seem to remember everything else.

    True story –
    Me: When was the last time you saw your ex? (the person before me who is still married)
    STBX: I don’t remember exact dates but I think it was around my birthday (Which would have been several months before we met.

    Fast forward two years- Oh remember that girls weekend and concert I went to in another city, while we were dating?, well he just ‘showed up’ .
    Was unbelievable to hear. She was hanging around this married AP while dating me, and then asked me to take a few days off work to visit her in out of town for sloppy seconds.

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