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How Do I Stop Feeling Guilty?

mindfuckDear Chump Lady,

I kicked my husband out of the house 2 years ago, finally, after a (at least) 10-year history of him cheating on me. I knew about the cheating but stayed on for my daughter. I kicked him out after my daughter found out he cheated. It took him almost a year to move out after I had told him I wanted to separate. He felt that separation was not ‘necessary’. He is a functioning alcoholic. We are not divorced for financial reasons, I keep on living in the house that (mainly) I built. My inheritance paid for roughly half of the house, he paid the rest through mortgage payments.

I have gone back to working full time after ten years of not working/working part time. I could live from what I earn. He pays generous support, moans about it occasionally, but makes no attempt to stop paying. I don’t pay rent to him.
Point being: He is quite decent in the aftermath of separation. I still look after his financials because I was always the financial manager and I am quite good at it whereas he does a very poor job of looking after money. Plus, I am concerned about his financial future in the sense that if he ends up poor it will be bad for my daughter and myself and I also don’t want the father of my child to live poorly.

Usually on weekends (= had a drink or several) he writes soppy texts about how much he misses me and my daughter, feels like he is dying inside etc. etc. I remind him that he was extremely unhappy when with us. He doesn’t suggest to meet up, just drops these texts like bombs into my world. He complains about my daughter because she doesn’t want to see him and he feels he is being used for money only. Which is true I guess. He was a committed father but as she grew older and peek-a-boo stopped being a thing, he could not keep up with her needs. And then the drinking and the cheating of course. The cheating my daughter feels was proof that he didnt care about her because it shows he was willing to risk the family for a bit of fun. This is not wrong, but I also remember a husband who would drive baby her around in the car at 2 am because the car soothed her when she had one of her crying fits.

I have found new love since, a really nice man that my daughter likes, too. I have not told my husband, it is none of his business. I am extremely grateful to be out of this abusive relationship. I would like to divorce, but don’t want to lose the house and can’t afford to buy him off as house prices have gone up crazily in my area.

A few days ago in the middle of a Saturday morning he wrote a text saying that he had been in my area for banking business (he lives like 45 miles away) and ‘the Merc seems to be a regular parker in front of our house’ and that ‘mail in the letter box was getting wet’. I was so shocked. The car belongs to my boyfriend and for the week prior to that he had been staying at my house every night. Mostly my boyfriend doesn’t stay the night though out of respect for my daughter.

To come to the conclusion ‘regular’ he must be a regular observer himself unless he was just throwing a stone in the water to watch for ripples coming up. People park in front of the house all the time, mostly students in small cars, the Merc stands out. He left an envelope titled ‘for under the Christmas tree’. I didn’t want any nasty surprises so I opened it. It was a card with a soppy account of how nice our Christmas trees used to be and a pile of money in cash for my daughter and myself ‘to buy something nice’ for ourselves. Then, a few days later, I saw my boyfriend to the door, really early in the morning. I also saw a car that could have been my husband’s, drive off. It probably wasn’t him, the car in my memory really wasn’t the same, but it just goes to show I am now really concerned that he is stalking me. He comments on every change I make in my whats app profile too. He is a risk taker, ex-Forces, been to wars, a loner, sticks to routines. I am not sure I need to be afraid of him, but sometimes I am unsure. He appears desperate and he has done so many things I never thought he was capable of. Sometimes I worry he might take his life.

And here it comes (sorry for the looong run up): Now I feel guilty. Guilty for taking his money, guilty for being content and happy, guilty for living in the house while he is living in a furnished rental (there is enough money for something better), guilty for having my daughter’s love. I know he is responsible for himself and also for the drinking and the cheating that led to this situation and yet I feel responsible for his welfare.

I guess what I am asking is — why on earth do I feel guilty? Is it possible I am guilty and if not, how do I stop feeling guilty?

Whyonearth

Dear Whyonearth,

Wrong question. It’s been two years. Why aren’t you divorced? Why aren’t you seeking legal counsel to figure out who gets the house or how long you can stay there? Why aren’t you protecting your finances and getting a proper settlement, before he’s NOT a “functional” alcoholic?

We’ll get to what a creepy beast he is in a moment, but right now I’m shining the Klieg light on you. Why are you feeling guilty? Because you HAVE NO BOUNDARIES with this man! You’re still vulnerable to his mindfuckery. He sends money, “lets” you live in a house you co-own, and in exchange, you feel like you have to listen to his sad sausage shit — and put up with his stalking.

I’m sorry to say it, but chumps are guilty of cake-eating too. It seems to me you want all the perks of divorce — a new boyfriend, cheating drunk ex not around, but also all the perks of staying together — living in your family home, not re-ordering your life, not taking the financial hit.

This is where proper legal advice comes in. People often work out arrangements in divorce where they live in the family home for X number of years for the kids, and then sell. Or you talk to a mortgage broker about refinancing and keeping the house. Or you downsize and find that the sun still sets in the west.

But, but the real estate market!

Yes, it’s crazy right now. It might be crazy later. If you own, then you’re going to sell high — and buy high. Seems like a wash to me. The vagaries of the real estate market are not a reason to stay in an abusive marriage with a scary guy.

I have found new love since, a really nice man that my daughter likes, too. I have not told my husband, it is none of his business.

Please reread that sentence. “I have not told MY HUSBAND.” Actually, as you’re still married to him, you’ve kept it his business. You have every right to move on with your life — but the snag is — you have to ACTUALLY MOVE ON WITH YOUR LIFE. Like, do the hard things. No healthy partner is going to want to date a woman with a husband.

This is where we do the rabbit hole about dating while separated. I actually don’t have a problem with that, especially in states with year-plus waiting periods to file. But if you’re still entangled with your ex, as in you still refer to him as your Husband, and you feel guilty and reactive to his manipulation — then you’re not emotionally available to a new person. It’s a wobbly time. Best to heal up and get your shit together (as in have filed papers) first.

I am extremely grateful to be out of this abusive relationship. I would like to divorce, but don’t want to lose the house

You’re not out of it. You own a house with it. So, time to make a hard decision, would you rather have this house or your sanity and safety? Divorce is full of these hard calls. But as you asked me, I vote that you are more important than your house.

I am now really concerned that he is stalking me. He comments on every change I make in my whats app profile too.

He is stalking you. Please reach out to a legal professional on this and local law enforcement. You can’t control his crazy, but you can enforce your own boundaries, and that’s a LOT easier to do when you’re clear on those yourself. You are my EX-husband (or soon-to-be-ex). This is MY property. (Unclear now if he on the lawn or in your home, as you both own the house). This is our court-ordered child support (return cash in envelops, the monetary division of things has been decided). I don’t take gifts from my ex.

Right now you are fuzzy on all those fronts. It does NOT make his stalking okay. He’s absolutely a freak. Give yourself permission to have boundaries and clarity on your relationship with him. Communicate that to him, preferably through a lawyer. Then get security cameras and a dog — better yet, sell the house and change your address.

He appears desperate and he has done so many things I never thought he was capable of. Sometimes I worry he might take his life.

You’re not responsible for him. Kick into self-protection mode — he might take your life. You’re allowed to have boundaries. How he reacts to your boundaries is not your burden to carry. If he makes threats to take his own life, you report that immediately to 911, and get him an involuntary psych evaluation. If he was manipulating you, he won’t try that move again. If he’s having a psych emergency, then he’ll get the proper help. But don’t live as a hostage to these threats. (Assuming he’s made any.)

And don’t live as a hostage to his financial support either. He can stuff cash in an envelop — doesn’t make this shit okay.

why on earth do I feel guilty?

Because you’re not used to asserting yourself in a healthy way. And you’re living in limbo, sending mixed messages — I want out of this relationship, but I’m still in it — and that leaves you open to his sad sausage mindfuckery (self-pity channel) and his stalking (rage channel).

Dr. George Simon (go read his stuff) makes a very good point that manipulation only works on those with a conscience. You cannot shame the shameless. But if you care and you bond and you don’t want to hurt people, then guilt is a good lever.

Shut off the mindfuck channel by shutting him off — no contact. But you need the legal protections to shore up that no contact. He needs to be your EX husband who has no claim to your home. You need clear support documents, a custody order, and parenting software.

If you fear leaving him, contact a domestic violence agency. Womenslaw.org if you’re in the U.S. has a list and is a good resource. Get help making a plan.

Limbo is not a plan. It’s a holding pattern. Please, bust a move.

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.
  • I think, for me, the LACGAL light clicked on when I realized that the relationship I was fighting for (in my head) was NOT a good relationship – never was. And there was no good reason to fight for a shitty relationship.

    I was the frog in the boiling water who woke up.

    And I woke up to a life I didn’t really want, nor a I life I expected for felt entitled to, but there I was, in this THIS life. A little less wealthy, a lot less “coupled”, very much a single dad, that was my new life.
    That was my new starting point. And it sucked.

    Until it didn’t.

    Still a single dad, still less “wealthy”, but happier. More me. Purer. Authentic. Way better than the boiling water.

    • Well said, Tall One. Realizing how shitty the entirety of the relationship was is much easier to do when it is in the rear view mirror. Clarity comes in bits and pieces, but it comes. Remaining tethered to an unhealthy partner as the OP has described is tantamount to an engraved invitation for the cheating partner to keep f’ing with you.

      My concern is that he may be trying to collect evidence to shift the narrative to her being the cheater to better his position in divorce negotiations. Maybe not, but his communications reek of digging for information.

      • “Still a single dad, still less “wealthy”, but happier. More me. Purer. Authentic.”

        Yup, this. In order to achieve this authentic, “happier” status in life, we often have to leave things behind. Sometimes this means the house we were living in or, perhaps, wealth or status in class or community we used to enjoy. It could mean a lot of things, not necessarily the ones I’ve listed…. but separating ourselves from the pain that FWs bring to our lives usually means… as CL said… that a lot of *hard choices* have to be made. Something has to be left behind.

        The upside to those hard choices finally being made and, eventually put behind you is a happier, more authentic, way more independent chump! As TheDivineMissChump said, ” Remaining tethered to an unhealthy partner as the OP has described is tantamount to an engraved invitation for the cheating partner to keep f’ing with you.”

        Remember, leave a cheater and gain a life.

    • Well said Tall One.

      My attorney is filing tomorrow so my wife is officially a STBX.

      I’m still suffering, still occasionally feel like I’m flushing 30 years down the toilet, but also realizing that the relationship wasn’t that great, especially the last 10 years.

      I’m looking forward to moving on.

      • Good for you! I admire your strength. You can definitely do this!! It is hard thinking about sunk costs, but the future is more important.

  • You have nothing to feel guilty about. In fairness to yourself, your daughter and you BF ..divorce. The control may feel kinda good but freedom from this feels better.

  • Whyonearth, time to end one relationship before you move onto the next. Divorce this stalker. Dating while you are married is so messy. Please listen to Tracy. Your STBX scares me second hand. Don’t wait until he is pointing a gun at you.

    • “Dating while married is so messy”

      Agree agree agree.

      Thanks for this articulate Keep It Simple nugget of wisdom, ThirtyThree.

      • I’m of this mindset and, of course, not everyone has to agree with me (and that’s okay) but, for me it’s as simple as: “Are you married? Then don’t date.”

        • Fourleaf,
          I agree ~ for moral & emotional health
          reasons. Thirty three years a chump,
          I agree with messy & maybe dangerous.
          Velvet Hammer, I agree with finding outside help & gaining recovery before dating.

    • Amen. “Dating while you are married is so messy.” This is not fair to anyone here. Your boyfriend is settling for an unavailable you. Just do it. Protect yourself.
      I equated myself and my situation to a fox who had gotten into a steel trap. You can get out, but you might lose a leg.
      “A 3-legged fox can lead a good life.”

    • Whyonearth–

      I’m with TTYAC that you can’t wait until he’s pointing a gun at you (or anyone else around, like your boyfriend or even your daughter).

      To long term victims of abuse, Stockholm syndrome is transmuted into an illusion of “guilt.” But there are a few clues here that you’re not feeling so much “guilty” as numb with terror and in the throes of captor bonding/Stockholm syndrome:

      — He’s professionally trained in the use of fire arms.
      — Your numb, almost bland description of the fact that he’s criminally stalking you and the fact you don’t report it to the authorities.
      — The fact that he, like all abusers/batterers, leads with self pity.

      All abusers also have a radar for their victims’ state of mind. They can sense it through walls, across vast distances. It’s uncanny. Displays of “guilt” and “caring” towards a captor are how prisoners of war and torture victims manage to keep their captors from destroying them. It only works if the victim believes it themselves, so it has to be a bone-deep kind of ruse (due to the above uncanny perp radar).

      The tendency to do this when under threat is hardwired, which is why even battle hardened intelligence specialists are never given whole parcels of intelligence secrets but only bits and pieces because ALL will crack, spill and captor bond if captured and subjected to systematic stressors, all of which, interestingly enough, resemble the tactics used by domestic abusers. As the East German Stasi discovered, violence isn’t even necessary to collapse the egos and psyches of captives, which is why the Stasi “broke souls, not bones.” But the tendency to “bond” goes two ways and captors are vulnerable to displays of bonding by victims.

      I think you might be afraid of what happens if you stop taking responsibility for your ex and pull your “guilt” cork out of his rage bottle. Humans captor bond because it often works in terms of quelling the abuse of captors. The problem is that it can outlast its usefulness preventing victims from breaking free given the opportunity, which is why POWs and captured spies, once released, have to be professionally deprogrammed. It sounds like you need deprogramming.

      I don’t know if this guy was ever prone to abusive rages but, by all reports, Chris Watts never raged before killing his wife and children. He would be what domestic violence experts call an “overcontrolled batterer” (infidelity and gaslighting are considered forms of intimate partner violence or IPV) so even if he hasn’t yet made threats or gone into terrifying rages, that’s not necessarily reassuring. In any case, whether or not your hopefully-soon-to-be-ex had violent tendencies, the stalking is a flaming red flag. The jealous remarks about your boyfriends car are terrifying. Better safe than sorry. Get security cameras, report the stalking and get a restraining order. And get PTSD therapy and a support network ASAP.

      Remember that suicidality turned outward is murder. Sometimes when abusers kill themselves, it’s a reprieve but your chief task now is in protecting your child, yourself and your supporters, not worrying what your ex does to himself. Also narcissists aren’t really all that prone to suicide. Too much self regard. As many chumps here will tell you, they’ve heard direct and repeat threats of this only to wonder years later why their FWS were still very much alive and still trying to make their lives miserable.

      • Whyonearth, take note of this comment. Hell of a Chump, wish I’d read this a year and a half ago. Helpful, even now. Very uncomfortable to read about the pattern of numbness/nonchalance and the reluctance to press charges or go public.

        When my sister, who had loved my ex (like a brother) for many years, told me she was scared for my safety, it was a wake up call. I responded that I couldn’t imagine FW would hurt me, to which she responded that none of us could have imagined any of it.

        The weirdest part, when I think about the conversation with my sister now, is that FW had already been intimidating and hurting me for years; I was just in denial. Wish i knew what to tell others who are trapped (in part) by denial. Cheaters are capable of very bad things, and from my experiences and what I’ve read here, I believe the abuse escalates – reliably and predictably, likely with few (no?) exceptions.

        • Bread&roses: my therapist insisted gaslighting and adultery and the DARVO that comes with that are forms of violence. I think of it as the build-up to it. I’m glad to see that domestic abuse specialists are now starting to categorize these things as IPV– intimate partner violence.

      • I have been married to two abusers; both of them tried to kill me.

        The best, most accurate indicator of how much danger he represents to you is your own gut feeling. I read the OP expressing fear for her safety. Stalking is a big, fat, flapping red flag, and so is the OP’s own expressed concern over safety.

        I never thought my first abusive ex would intentionally kill me, but I worried that he might kill me by accident when he was having one of his tantrums. He was a soldier; he was trained to kill, as he often reminded me. I wasn’t worried enough, apparently, because he came within an inch of killing me intentionally. I didn’t believe he would go that far; I didn’t want to believe that. That kind of thing only happens in the movies, right? Uh, no. Statistics tell us it happens in real life.

        With the second, a black belt in two martial arts, I was so well groomed to take the abuse that it never occurred to me he might try to kill me, although I was worried about his black belt and how much he could HURT me.

        If you have even the slightest tinge of worry about your safety, take it seriously. Get yourself out of this mess, even if that means giving up your house. Take your safety concerns seriously because they ARE serious. Even if you don’t want to believe that; ESPECIALLY if you don’t want to believe it. Save your daughter from the trauma of her father killing her mother right in front of her, because that shit is real, too.

        • EMSP– That gave me such a chill. I want to give you credit for wiliness that you are still alive.

          Abusers are pretty gifted at decalibrating gut instincts. That’s what gaslighting is for, so it also helps to never, on principle, allow ourselves to get isolated and to maintain contact with supporters whose gut instincts can kick in where ours have been anesthetized.

      • Thank you for your comment. I have read it many times. It is a scary analysis. Appeasement has been a way of life for me since early childhood with a choleric mother and it appears I married the male version of my mother. My daughter told me only few days ago how much she hated the aggression exuding from him at all times. He didnt throw fits as much, rather went into an aggressive sulk mode and passive aggressive patterns. Little things would tick him off, especially when driving. His driving style is positively dangerous. I always feared his moods. I would prefer not to be the person you describe but it is beginning to dawn on me that I am that person and have been for most of life to some degree or other. Like bread&roses says – denial, for years, decades even. Why on earth do we put up with it, why do we feel we deserve nothing better and keep on enduring. Food for thought. Thank you & Happy Holidays to you and CN

        • Whyonearth,
          I’m so glad you replied. We have so much to learn here. Trauma bonding is real and so much more common than any one of us wants to believe. Psychopaths run on a spectrum. They can slide further to the red zone quickly. ESPECIALLY when alcohol is involved. My FW X was researching untraceable poisons after I kicked him out. At that time, he still had access to our joint home and I never knew if he could poison my food or God-only-knows what else. I can’t choose denial no matter how much “easier” it seems. I did, for a short while. Then my mother instinct kicked in, along with heavy daily doses of Tracy’s blog, the incredible cadre of brilliant readers who respond, and a damned good therapist. I am blissfully divorced and free of the idiot I married. He has another victim, I mean wife. I am miles away, about to buy my first house (MY house!) and ready for this new life I’ve been building.
          It isn’t easy. But where you are isn’t easy, either. Welcome to this safe space, whyonearth. Stick around. A new, life without self-doubt and idiots is quite lovely.

    • Okay, I can understand the scary husband. Got it. Seriously though no matter how comfortable it is to be in a nice home some action needs to be taken. Get a separation or get a divorce. Where I live, you are married until you are released by a decree from the bonds of matrimony. Why do you want to set this example for your daughter? Boundaries, line up ducks, sell the house if you have to, get an attorney and a certified divorce financial planner and do what needs to be done. In the meantime, place a relationship on hold. Adultery is still a ground in fault states. Do you really want a next relationship to move forward knowing this person has no issues seeing a married woman? Most of all, create boundaries.

    • I know many here disagree, but I don’t think you owe your “husband” anything, Whyonearth. He annihilated your agreement, and you have no moral obligations to stay single/celibate on his behalf – “married” or not. Whether he’s paying the bills (for now…) or not.

      However, I agree with other chumps that it’s not fair to your BF, and it’s also sending very mixed messages to your kids. As long as you’re married, FW drama looms. As long as he pays the bills, he can control you. It’s good you are stepping back to assess this situation. It’s “easy” to get stuck in some really unhealthy patterns, as any chump can attest. Doesn’t make it acceptable or fair – to yourself or to those you love. Sorry about the shit sandwich.

    • Yeah, does the boyfriend know that his girlfriend is married??

      I would be deeply upset if my new dating partner had not informed me of this.

      And if the boyfriend DOES know, I question what’s wrong with him that he’s okay with this situation.

      Dating while waiting for the divorce decree to go through is one thing, especially in states with ridiculous wait times, but how do you try building a life with someone who hasn’t even started to end their old one?

  • I’m concerned that the writer is engaging, not only in cake eating, but in gaslighting her daughter.

    Accepting or covering up 10 years of cheating during all? most? of her daughter’s childhood is not okay. Not having a visitation schedule with a father who wants to be involved is not okay.

    Get legal advice and set some boundaries.

    • You are not “helping him out” with his financials. You are a Codependent, and you need to educate yourself on that ASAP (start with Melody Beattie’s excellent book “Codependent No More”).

      I made the same mistake of assuming my ex needed my help with handling his money, as he was terrible at it for the 30 years we were married. When my lawyer insisted I cut off communication, lo and behold! Suddenly the man became a competent adult overnight! He even managed to produce over $40k out of thin air to buy out my half of a mortgage.

      Depending on the laws where you live, you may have (I daresay probably have) created quite a mess for yourself. You’ve set up a perfect case for him to claim support from you in court, and your taking on a lover has negated your opportunity to use your spouse’s infidelity in court to your advantage.

      Please, start reading on codependency and also get yourself a therapist and start working on it. Also get a lawyer and clean up your mess like an adult. Your concern for ‘how things look to your daughter’ is starting to look like the thin ridiculous excuse it really is. Get her a therapist, too; she’s going to need one.

      • Not Any More, Definitely invest in quality therapist to address codependency traits & complex PTSD symptoms. Ditto daughter.

    • I think your suggestion that she has been gaslighting her daughter is going too far. Many of us with children stayed in the marriage after we knew or highly suspected cheating, through multiple D-days, while tearfully praying the cheater would change, pick me dancing, and either attempting wreckonciliation or making a plan to leave. I don’t think most chumps respond to cheating by running to their kids and telling them. Gaslighting would mean she was actively telling her child that her father was the picture of honesty and virtue. Not every chump finds out about cheating and immediately ends the marriage/kicks the FW out. That doesn’t mean they are gaslighting their kids.

  • Oh boy…. oh boy….

    ….oh boy.

    I don’t even know where to start with this one. CL, of course, said it best. Divorce. No Contact. Now. The house? Leave it behind if you have to. Rent a crummy apartment. It’s just a house. Your independence, peace of mind, and–yes–safety is worth more than a house.

    “I don’t want the father of my daughter to be poor?” You… you’re not his mother. He’s a grown-up who will have to learn how to navigate his own finances.

    I am, admittedly, a little scared for the letter writer. I would be scared if I knew that my husband–who has a problem with drinking and boundaries–knew that I was dating someone else and didn’t like it. I feel like *he* feels that the money he pays/gives you gives him permission to insert himself into your life. It doesn’t. But I have heard too many stories of cheating husbands who feel that it is okay for them to have mistresses but heaven help their chumps should the chump choose to date again! My own FW H, upon leaving to move in with the GF who would become the Wifetress told me that he hoped I would never, ever date or marry anyone else. Meanwhile, I have no idea how many extramarital affairs he engaged in.

    Those weekend emails are a real problem too. Block his email address and never read them again.

    Boundaries. Divorce. Give up the house if you have to. Separate your life from his life. Achieve independence and give this man, who you are admitting that you are probably starting to get scared of, no reason to think that you are “stringing him along.”

    • Ah, the classic cheater — I can date but you better not even think about it.

      My ex-wife had four affairs (that I know of, likely more), two of which were with married men with families. Meanwhile, while we were married, I was allowed no female friends (I had to explicitly remove them from my life — even someone that I had known for 25 years) and was accused of cheating with every single female co-worker or client. “Why did you take that woman to lunch today?”

      “Um… because I work in sales and her business has spent $40k with me every month for the last 6 months so I thought buying her a $15 cheeseburger might be the right thing to do?”

      We’ve been divorced 6 months now, and she’s dating heavy (obviously, I mean, she was dating when we were married). And dating men, women, couples, etc… but has been up my ass every time we discuss our child or exchange (50-50 custody) about whether or not I’m dating yet (I’m not).

      The short of it being… the gross entitlement. Cheater McCheaterpants can cheat, date, swing… but god forbid dating is even considered on the other side. The Chump’s role is to sit around and pine for the cheater.

      And the projection. They know what they’re doing… throwing themselves sexually at everything that crosses their path… so we chumps MUST be doing the exact same thing, right?

      It’s truly incredible how much these people are all the same. And to think they all believe themselves as these special, little flowers.

      • My ex wife who was caught cheating with over 20 men that we know about, she turned up at the family home last year around this time and started punching me in the chest really hard whilst scream “you’re mine, you’re mine”. Ironically she had me arrested and removed from the family home from her false DV allegations. Divorce was completed back in February and I last spoke to her in June and she kept asking if there was someone else. Saying that our kids thought I was ignoring them as I’ve a new woman in my life and asking if there was. There wasn’t at time time but other irony is the parental alienation I am fighting at the moment.

        Sick twisted people they are.

        • I am so sorry to hear that she pulled the false DV claims – my ex did that to me. Fortunately he was not believable to both law enforcement and eventually even his own attorney. I shudder to think what he could have put me through if our genders had been reversed. I hope you find the light at the end of this situation soon.

        • Sorry you are going through that, particularly in regards to the parental alienation. Most likely she’s telling your kids there’s a new woman in your life. That’s another classic cheater trick… lying and character defamation in order to cover up for their own disordered behavior.

          Do you have any recourse as far your children are concerned?

  • You mentioned special forces. Those guys live on highs or are constantly training for highs. It gets addictive. So he landed into the reality of “normal” life and the only highs were cheating and drinking. He needs therapy and you need a divorce.

    My husband found a small getaway that meant more to him than the nice big house we lived in. I felt forced to move, put our children in different schools and resented it like hell. Until I didn’t. I now love where we live in a home 1/3 the size of the other. My kids love it.

    You can do some serious research and find something you can afford. It will take away the fear of him pulling out the financial support.

    • Did he serve on a unit? There is a difference between those who take the training and get special forces qualified and those that serve on a unit. The ones that serve on a unit are high functioning sociopaths. That’s why they are there.

      I went to B School with several–West Point grads, quite smart, certifiably crazy.

      If he has served on a special forces unit he has been trained to do whatever needs to be done, no matter how terrible it is. That’s the reality.

      • Let’s not pick on West Point grads. I have a nephew that is a WP grad and is a wonderful person who, even though he was an officer was dragged through four deployments in Iraq/Afghanistan in four years. He came out after his two kids were born and has a great life, a sweet marriage, and works very hard. He is neither crazy or a sociopath. Now my ex husband is crazy and a sociopath and never went anywhere near law enforcement or military. He is a narcissistic engineer who cheated his way through our almost 34 year marriage and dumped me for an old high school girlfriend when I turned 65 earlier this year.

        • “Dragged through four deployments”? My nephew was a Marine who CHOSE four deployments in four years in Afghanistan and was killed there. Are you actually insinuating that a West Point education should exempt someone from actual warfare?

          • I reacted the same… he went on four deployments “even though he was an officer.” Soooo… officers are special and should not have to deploy? 🙄

            Klootzak is one of thise super smart service academy psychos. He knows how to torture you mentally/emotionally without leaving a bruise. They excel at image management, too. The spouses keep those smiles painted on. I have seen and lived it the last 20 years. Only a few of my dearest, closest friends have known the truth of my situation.

            West Point and Annapolis grads love that rarified air they suck in. But they should serve as much as the enlisted do. I made the mistake of confusing intelligence with character. Academy graduates are incredibly smart but character and sanity are not guaranteed.

            Klootzak has refused to proceed pursuing any civilian defense job that requires a polygraph test. That should tell you something.

            • Major Cheaterpants breathed the rarified air of which you speak. Entitlement up the wazoo. Im rather convinced that he married me because I fit the perfect profile of a military wife: Father who served (so she would know what she is getting into), shorter than him (so he looked big in comparison), nurse who is educated and can get a job anywhere.

              I believe he had an Academy girlfriend (who he lied to me about) and cheated from his first TDY. After retirement, he was convinced that he would only take jobs that were REALLY COOL.

              Perhaps the worst thing for his mental health and understanding of reality, fresh out of active duty, he did get a REALLY cool job. After that one met its natural end, he refused to work until he could find something that was enviable.

              • Klootzak is on the verge of quitting his first civilian job because he tried to get his new boss to do something differently and the new boss told him no. This has accelerated his search for a new job because he just can’t work for someone who tells him no. This means the timeline for him leaving is accelerated. Hallelujer. First time I have ever been grateful for his over-inflated ego.

      • “The ones that serve on a unit are high functioning sociopaths. That’s why they are there.”

        Unreal how clueless people are about special forces and the military in general. If they have combat experience they struggle with PTSD like every pretty much every other veteran in the history earth, but the units themselves are compromised of the most stable people you’d ever meet. And no, being comfortable with high levels of risk does not equate to instability like many seem to think.

        Special forces training is designed to specifically weed out unstable people and/or sociopaths. I have two family members that have served in elite units. They are the most stable people – by far – that I know. Much more so than the civilian population.

        I also know many others that have tried to make it into these units and failed. If you know a person, usually you can tell before they attempt to get into these elite units, whether they will make it or not. Not many people can handle the relentless mindfuck that is special forces training. It’s not the physical component that forces people out, it’s the mental part.

        The luxury of living in an era dominated by a few global superpowers means an average citizen can live their whole lives being completely clueless to those who perform an essential job that’s been part of every large self-sustaining society throughout history. Unfortunately, the luxury opinion mindset is what eventually leads to future large scale conflict.

        • My father was a partly disabled combat veteran. He didn’t talk about the war that much but he did continue to process the inherent bullying he saw. He ended up shielding some of the scapegoats. He was bigger and louder than most and could, so he did. It’s the only reason I exist because one of the people he protected saved his life before I was born.

          Did I fight in a war? No. But we’re not all completely removed from it. It’s no mystery that violent occupations can increase the aggression of participants. Statistically true for violent sports and true for war. Again, the two-a-day suicide rate in the military and epidemic of rape and domestic murders would attest to this. I don’t think it’s necessary to deny these things to be patriotic.

  • I highly recommend, as did my trusted beloved very wise therapist, doing one relationship at a time.

    She taught me, and I agree, that it is not healthy to do a new one until you’ve processed the one you’re in. Very simply, it doesn’t look to me like you’ve processed and are past your marriage and ready for someone new.

    Like with our cheaters, the mold and rot and issues can take a while to become evident. Most of us have excellent 20/20 hindsight.

    I see a big red flag in a man who would date me under your current circumstances, and I am hoping you want to avoid another go with a man like your husband.

    Beloved Trusted Brilliant Long Term Therapist also advises to not bring anyone around your children until at least a year after divorce.

    She also said hardly anyone ever follows that advice. I am, because she’s been right about everything in the many years I’ve been paying her very hard earned money to help me. She sees what I can’t, and can never see, because I am not objective and do not have her education and experience.

    I am very happy that I have been doing my healing and homework on me, focusing on my daughter, and not dating.
    I am willing to go to any and all lengths to avoid a repeat of what I just got out of, and lots about me has been revealed that I don’t believe I would have seen if I was distracted by dating.

    #2x4ofTruth

    • PS

      I agree with Chump Lady that guilt is the least of your problems here. I do think it’s a signal that you need some outside help looking at you.

      I speak as a person who gets outside help, believes in it passionately, and has gotten a lot of it regularly for decades. Without it, I may not have realized or been able to withstand the mirage I was living in, and I sure as hell would not have been able to respond as well as I have.

    • PPS…

      It’s been four years for me. I have not dated and am happier every day that I chose to follow the advice I was given. What I have seen is that in doing so, I have been building a very strong foundation for myself, the only person I am for sure going to be with for the rest of my life, and that strong foundation is the only place from which I would ever want to partner with someone. I am doing better being on my own now that I ever was with someone else. I thought I had broken my string of bad choices with my former husband. I see ever more clearly, more importantly, every day that I did not. It really spooked me, and rightly so. I need to get super crystal clear on me, the person who made the choice. His expert deception is a big part of why I chose him, but not the only part. I am seeing now how much I haven’t loved MYSELF, and if I had I might not have chosen him at all. He told me early on that he was drinking NyQuil to go to sleep after getting home from swing shift. He was presenting himself as an alcoholic in recovery. Velvet, why and how did you decide to sparkle over that?!

      I also want to model healthy behavior to my daughter. That is the essence of being a good parent IMHO. I need to address my issues when they are revealed so I don’t hand a bunch of crap baggage off to her.

      She doesn’t need more parents doing the Next Wrong Thing. ☹️

      The therapists involved in my case have all been very impressed with her and I have gotten many compliments from them and the adults who have gotten to know her.

      I hope I have had something to do with it. I can’t know for sure if and how much, but I do know I can’t give away what I don’t have. It’s more imperative that ever before that I go to any lengths to get it.

      • Velvet,

        Woman – I admire your energy and commitment to yourself! I need a new therapist and want one like you have. I have settled and settled and settled. Can you tell me how you found her? Your comments always connect to me personally. Thank you.

  • “I still look after his financials because I was always the financial manager and I am quite good at it whereas he does a very poor job of looking after money.”

    You are enmeshed. That’s what’s being modeled for your daughter: no boundaries. Acting as though dad is pitiable is not helping daughter. He is demonstrably capable — he has a job earning good money, apparently — and is NOT a child.

  • Would you want your daughter to be in the same situation you’re in?

    If you don’t, then it’s up to you to show her what it looks like to make the healthy changes that go along with a healthy life.

    She’s learning how to choose a partner, what is acceptable in marriage, and how to take care of herself while watching you. Your actions have the volume knob on “taking BS to ensure access to someone’s money” turned up much, much higher than the volume knobs on “has a strong sense of self worth” or “able to care for her own needs” or “deeply values the importance of healthy relationship”. I suspect these are values you want her to uphold, and she needs to see you doing that to see the value of it.

    (Also must reiterate, it’s bad treatment of a partner to ask the partner to tolerate a scenario like this. It’s surprising to me that this partner will tolerate it with no end in sight, and it’s clear that this partner shouldn’t have to tolerate it, even if he’s willing to do so. Also, why exactly IS this partner willing to tolerate it? That’s significant to know — and we don’t need to know the answer, but you do, I think.)

    • I don’t think the codependency philosophy that victims are “addicted” to abusers or drama applies when elements of intimate partner violence are present. The facts that this guy is technically a trained killer with active substance abuse issues, jealousy and delusions there’s a future for the relationship and is currently criminally stalking Whyonearth and her boyfriend and daughter plant this situation firmly in the clinical realm of domestic violence and criminology.

      The reason “addiction” doesn’t apply is that bottles and pills don’t blow their heads off on your front stoop in front of your children, or kidnap children and threaten their lives, or call your employer to get you fired, or break in while you’re sleeping and hold guns to your head or follow your intimate partner and knife them, but batterers do. Stalker= batterer.

      Applying codependency philosophy to battering victims is counterproductive and can distract from their key intuition about the situation. It’s not recommended as therapy for victims at risk.

      • Did you intend for this to be a reply to me? I know this site is weird about comment nesting placement sometimes, and it doesn’t look to me like the two go together.

      • (If you’re replying based on my third paragraph, I was referring to how this mistreats the boyfriend who is tolerating the continuing marriage, so that may impact the context as well.)

  • I suspect the chump is addicted to drama. Why else would she be getting into a new relationship while technically still-married and to a messy one at that? She gives lots of excuses e.g. house but I think she secretly likes the excitement of two men on the line.
    Harsh? Yes. But facing up to the truth is better than to keep claiming you’re a victim. That ship has sailed.

    • Couldn’t agree more! Her actions are just as toxic as her husbands. It’s time for her to cut the BS and make healthy decisions. Period!

      • The man is not only a cheater, but a *stalker*. She has an unhinged, substance-abusing trained killer watching her house and making sure she knows it. That’s an implied threat.
        On what planet does her refusal to get a divorce before dating make her equivalently toxic to that?
        I have seen false equivalence made on here from time to time, and I would normally just let it go so as not to cause discord, but that was way over the line and totally uncalled for.

        • I made a similar comment above. The chapter on DV in trauma expert Frank Ochberg’s bible of trauma therapy, “Post-traumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violence,” is all about the damaging effects of subjecting at-risk victims to the “codependency” perspective. It doesn’t fit and can be dangerous. I believe Whyonearth and those around her are at risk.

          • I must read that. I have long felt that way about this “codependent” label. It’s often thinly disguised victim blaming.

            • The term Co-dependent sticks in my craw as well. It is a great label for an abuser to throw at you when they are raging that you are the issue in the relationship. It also implies that your screwed up FOO /childhood issues are the cause of all of the problems in your current relationship – not the abusive narcissist who has the world convinced that he or she is a great person.

              The victim blaming on this thread is truly eye opening and sad – I always come here for a safe space from judgement. Some of this reminds me of the ugly thing my mother said to me after my marriage fell apart – “you must have enjoyed the abuse since you put up with it for 20 years” ( I ended up having to divorce her too unfortunately). My therapist was truly flummoxed by that one.

              I hope the mean spirit of some of the comments does not chase the LW away – there is so much good to be gained here.

              • Chumperella,

                Because “sex addiction”– aka CSAT– therapists and couples counselors can lose their licenses for trying to reconcile victims with abusers, many of these therapists simply change the definition of what constitutes abuse. That way they can play the odds and keep cashing the checks from couples in which dv is happening, which, at least traditionally, were usually written by the perpetrator.

                CSAT founder Patrick Carnes very cleverly hijacked Frank Ochberg’s concept of “captor bounding” and turned it into the luke warm “lite” version, “trauma bonding.” There was nothing wrong with Ochberg’s original term that needed correcting, But note that, in the latter, designation of abuser/victim is removed therefore the existence of abuse is removed. “Trauma bonding” sounds like two bad swimmers clinging together and sinking in the deep end, whereas “captor bonding” indicates the existence of a captor (abuser) and captive (victim), one of whom is forcibly drowning the other. Oops. Hard to get checks from “captors ” if clinicians are going to put it that way.

                Also probably harder to get institutional funding if they don’t pussy foot around the issue of abuse. I frankly think it’s kind of political. One of the fields with the highest rates of domestic abusers is psychology/psychiatry. This includes other helping professions like lawyer, judge and police. The tendency to minimize abuse and split blame with victims may be endemic to certain professions, ufortunately the very professions which mostly define abuse.

              • OMG, your mom said that? I’m so sorry. Mine didn’t say that, but she did get angry with me for leaving fuckwit, expressed pity for him, and even implied that *I* was being abusive because I wasn’t taking his shit anymore.
                I believe my leaving an emotional abuser brought up feelings about the fact that she had stayed with my verbally abusive father. I think she was really angry with me for making her feel she’d been weak for staying. But she realized she’d been unfair and apologized, after a year in which I refused to see her. It’s a shame your mom didn’t get the same memo.😞

                The victim blaming today is not just unkind to WOE, it’s triggering and infuriating for those of us who’ve been through it IRL.
                They need to STFU with that crap.

            • Susan Faludi’s 90’s book “Backlash” has a whole chapter devoted to taking apart Robin Norwood’s book. Apparently Norwood just made up a bunch of client interviews and was really talking about herself, then ended up a shut-in staring out a window alone in a remote cabin. Taking her own medicine wasn’t restorative it seems.

              The book “Men Who Can’t Love” by psychologists Steven Carter and Andrea Sokol (which was later updated to include “women who can’t love” because… male chumps exist) was written as a deliberate antidote to Norwood’s “Women Who Love Too Much.” The chapter in Ochberg’s book by researchers Anne Flitcraft and Evan Stark puts the final tombstone on the codependency theory, at least in application to victims of intimate partner violence/coercion. The latter is an old publication and massively expensive to buy but available for library order.

            • It was hard for me to maintain a poker face when women in my CoDA meeting introduced themselves as codependent when in fact they were being abused, plain and simple.

              • Poker face meaning not engaging in cross talk, i.e. gasping, snickering, eye rolling, etc. during another’s share.

              • Faludi’s book includes some scary descriptions of these meetings. I was dragged to a few as a support person when I lived in NY. I didn’t know the rules and just piped in. “But, but, but, he broke your arm!”

              • People can suffer from BOTH
                Codependency & Battered Person Syndrome simultaneously.
                It’s not a simple Either/OR matter
                It can be And/Both.

        • She also says she’s afraid he’ll hurt himself. What if he hurts HER instead? Murder-suicides are a thing.

          This guy is already stalking her, too. This situation is bad, bad news.

          Dear letter writer, you need to be calling divorce attorneys immediately.

    • Agreed. I had a friend who pulled the same routine, only with a live in boyfriend she kicked out. He kept coming back and was behaving in similar stalkerish ways. The reason? My friend was leading him on. She liked the drama and attention. She didn’t want rid of the ex, she was just mad at him. So she pushed him away, and went on with her life but only partially. He still felt like he had a shot and persisted. Any one else she dated quickly saw the game and moved on. And all of her friends got very sick of hearing about the situation.

      • Oh, you had a friend who allegedly did bla bla bla. Well that proves that Whyonearth, whose husband is a drunken, stalking, trained killer, is doing the same, then. Because you had a friend who did bla bla bla.

        (Insert eye roll.)

        • Basta with the victim blaming. It’s really going over the top on this post. I’ve never seen this happen on CL before but perhaps the veterans have. Anyway, it’s horrifying. Stop.

        • WOE’s situation is different than the borderline/narc combo who loves drama, being the center of attention, pitting romantic interests against one another.

          I’ve seen both dynamics at play. One is not like the other.

    • I think we all need to be careful of victim blaming. I don’t think the “codependency” philosophy applies when A) the perp is a trained killer and expert in firearms; B) has a history of severely impaired empathy and substance abuse; and C) is currently criminally stalking the victim, expresses jealousy (the biggest trigger to violence) and won’t let go. That’s when things fall into the clinical realm of domestic violence and criminology.

      Domestic violence victims are not “addicts” in the sense that bottles and pills don’t blow their own heads off on your front stoop in front of your children, break into your house when you’re sleeping and hold a gun to your head, kidnap your children and threaten to kill them, follow the person you’re dating and knife them, call your employer to get you fired, etc. But batterers do. Stalker = batterer.

    • FFS, he’s a drunken special forces guy who stalks her. She’s justifiably afraid divorcing him will unhinge him even more. She probably got into a new relationship in the hope her boyfriend could offer her some protection, though she may not have done it consciously. She says it’s about the house and money, but that’s because she’s trying to suppress her very legitimate fear.

      WTF is with this victim blaming? “That ship has sailed?” Are you on drugs? I repeat this with emphasis, because you missed it once so maybe you’ll miss it again; A HIGHLY TRAINED KILLER IS STALKING HER WHILE USING SUBSTANCES THAT LOWER INHIBITIONS.
      What part of that don’t you understand?

      • You’re putting a lot of your own storytelling into this. Special forces doesn’t make him any more or less likely to be dangerous to her – domestic abuse isn’t exactly something you need a lot of skills for, to put it bluntly. OP has said nothing to imply she’s lying about why she’s holding off on the divorce, so we should take her at her word when she says that it’s about fear of losing the house and other financial/logistical repercussions.

        There’s a difference between *contributing to* someone’s bad treatment of you, and making shitty decisions *in response to* someone’s bad treatment of you. To accuse her of the former would be victim-blaming in this situation, but she’s being accused of the latter.

        Just because you had a cheater spouse doesn’t mean every decision you make is faultless. Sometimes people in bad situations make shitty decisions (including selfish decisions) and need to be told “that’s a terrible idea and you need to not do it.” This is one of those times. She needs to get to a lawyer, get her shit together, and divorce.

        • There’s been an epidemic of domestic violence and domestic murders in the military for the past nearly twenty years, particularly special forces. Not to mention the two-a-day suicide rate of active and ex combat personnel. You’re completely off base here, pardon the pun.

        • What you are saying is not factually correct. She was accused of being “addicted to the drama” and of lying to her boyfriend about her marital status. Both are totally baseless claims and mean-spirited personal attacks, not well-reasoned responses to her bad decisions.

          Denial is very is typical of a domestic abuse victim, so I don’t necessarily know if she fully understands her own reasons for not divorcing, so no, she is not lying. We all agree the house and his money woes are excuses, not real reasons, so the question becomes what her real reasons are. Others have said the real reason is she is playing games and enjoys the drama. They assert that based on nothing. I assert that it’s more likely she’s afraid of him going off the deep end.

          But yeah, of course she should divorce. She just needs to be more careful than the average person, as in staying at a shelter or with a friend/relative when he’s served.
          There is a difference between a run of the mill wife beater and one who has killed for a living and therefore has no moral prohibition against it. It’s not about skill, it’s about will. Most abusers, thankfully, lack the will to kill. This guy has killed before, and unlike most abusers, he likely knows how to do it without being caught, therefore it’s lower risk for him. That makes him potentially more dangerous than the average abuser.

          Do you really think I need to be told that a chump can make bad decisions?
          Sure, she’s made bad decisions. My problem is with people ascribing nefarious motives to said decisions without any evidence supporting their claims.

          • I am not addicted to drama and I didn’t lie to my boyfriend. Those throw away cliches really dont stick.
            And I do feel OHFFS has it spot on: somebody with training will do the thing he is trained to do without inhibitions. THAT is the scary part. And he is a risk taker, always has been AND he it could be his perception that he has got nothing to lose. As for my motives – I have an enormous investment in that house, financially, personally, there are still legal battles going on, let’s say there is a huge sunken cost on all levels. My daughter has begged me to keep the home she loves until she has her own home. I do worry about his reaction and I think it is very sound advice to not serve before we have some sort of place to shelter for some time. As for the rest – knock yourself out passing judgment. I have been through worse :-))

            • I also get the strong attachment to a home. Being where you want the be and are comfortable without upheaval for the daughter besides all the money and sweat into it. The housing right now is crazy. If your like me, it is enticing to stay in a situation like this. An unstable world economically in an endemic pandemic is also scary and not only is his generousity survival it may be looked at as his just pay back for blowing up your family by the affairs. Staying as survival also may translate into not knowing what he may do if this changes while trying to live the best you can. IMO you are in freeze mode/survival mode. Instead of thinking you feel guilty maybe your greater emotion is fear. I am exactly where you are. This whole thing reminds me of many women’s plight in years past where the woman stayed which really back then didn’t have a choice and lived in the home while the man conducted his affairs but supported the wife and children to avoid scandal.

              • Btw everyone has to work their circumstances out how they are able. I have a house situation too. Some avenues have very unfair downsides.

                My 2 cents opinion is it seems he feels a certain ownership of you where he can’t let go. Money is a way to control you. As long as he feels in control everything rolls along as usual. My fear is what his mind and attitude will be if he feels he has lost that control. So if you do break away do so as safely as possible.

      • We can only respond to her letter as written, and not assume things.

        In any case, she needs to get away from him – physically and legally – in a safe way. Staying married to him isn’t the answer. He is controlling her still.

        My friend divorced her alcoholic and abusive husband, he shortly after married a toxic woman, and killed himself. My friend knew he was suicidal, had been for years, but she couldn’t continue to be abused. She had to choose her kids and herself over him. She is lucky he didn’t take them all out with him.

        “Why” is in a hostage situation and needs to get herself out. The bf needs to not stay overnight.

      • To me, it’s just a question of right and wrong. Having a secret boyfriend while married is wrong. Everything her husband did – also VERY wrong.

        The OP asks – why do I feel guilty? She feels guilty because she is lying to her husband while taking money from him. This is a wrong thing to do.

        I’m not victim blaming – OP is obviously a victim.

        I do think we all agree though, the way to make it right is to get a divorce or legal separation. I worry for everyone’s safety in this volatile situation.

        What’s important in the end, your life or your money? Time to cut your losses and leave the casino.

        • Quote from Hell of a Chump;

          “I think your husband’s ten years of cheating and separation end any “moral” obligation you have to be “faithful” unless for pragmatic reasons having to do with local family courts, settlement and custody issues which someone mentioned or, again, just based on what’s healthy for you. I think people whose views on this are tinged by scripture should state this up front as a qualifier because not everyone follows the same religion or religious tenets or has the same concept of God.”

  • You’ve laid some serious groundwork for major dysfunction. Is it any wonder the fall-out is starting to look crystal clear?

    Put your boyfriend on hold. Not pause. On hold. Get out of your marriage the way you went into it – single. If your boyfriend cares for you he’ll find you afterward. Worse yet, he found you tangled up in dysfunction just the way he likes it. Not a good beginning to end rightly.

    Show your daughter how it’s done right. She needs this modeled for her.

    It’s time to march through the swamp and take care of business. Only afterward when you’ve asserted yourself to get on a solid path forward will you choose whether to partner with boyfriend again or go solo on your own merit and accomplishments. Here’s wishing you all the best!

  • I have to wonder what kind of guy gets involved with a woman who is still married and so obviously tangled up with her hb.

    She has no business dating until she separates her life from her husband. If I met a guy who was still married and involved with his stalker wife to this extent I’d run like hell.

        • WOE, I’m really sorry you are getting attacked and being accused. The more regular posters are more thoughtful than this, so don’t let that kind of bullshit discourage you from coming here.

          • I have to agree. again I was an advocate for dv survivors and we would call this “chicken pecking.” Chickens will gang up and peck to death another chicken with a feather out of place. At-risk victims are perceived as having the feather out of place and get a lot of “chicken pecking” or bystander blame. The dead giveaway that the victim is generally perceived to be in danger by others is that some bystanders will do this but might not do the same when the victim in question is not in direct danger.

            The main theory of why this happens is related to the “safe world” effect which goes something like this: “God is in his heaven and good things happen to good people. Therefore, if something bad happens to someone, they must have done something bad.” Apparently, the bystanders who are most prone to this knee-jerk are those who feel especially at risk to befall the same danger/misfortune/risk as a victim. The bystander will “distance” themselves from the victim by finding fault, as if saying to God and those all around them, “What has befallen this person would never befall me because I would never (wear red on Sundays, track sand in the house, eat sushi, whatever-arbitrary-thing-they-think-they-wouldn’t-do-that-the-victim-is-doing, etc.). I am good, unlike this person. Only good shall befall me.”

            This is why jury consultants for the prosecution try to take women like this off juries in rape trials. The “safe worlders” who themselves feel at risk to be raped are are too prone to rule against the victim in trial.

            I also think people tend to subject others to the bad, blaming therapy or bystander mistreatment they once received. There’s a difference between empathically shaking someone back to their senses with reminders of the danger they’re in and “attack therapy.” The latter is a favorite of RIC therapists.

              • Erm, if we’re going biblical, doesn’t God offer to send Job’s friends to hell for suggesting that Job’s bad luck is a punishment/curse from God? Then of course there’s Jesus and throwing the first stone.

          • Thank you, OHFFS. I am not discouraged, I did expect this. But there are also so many interesting and helpful perspectives out there and I am grateful for everybody taking the time to share their views and experiences. I have learnt a lot and gained fresh insight. Also thanks to you for your helpful comments on the dimensions of his behavior and the impact of his background. You are totally right, I have been concerned that he might get totally unhinged by the the threat of divorce. Not at first though as in that he might become violent towards us but in the sense that he might lose all meaning and purpose in his life. I know this sounds terribly corny but I would much prefer him living happily ever after with anyone of the OW than sinking even more into addiction, perhaps losing his job (and no, I don’t mean the financials here) and finally into destitution. I WAS after all married for 30 yrs. to this person and I cannot find it in me to wish that on him. Maybe I do live in LaLaLand, but I truly do not wish for that to happen to him. Having said that, your perspective on the potential for violence is very real and the recent events DID scare me. Now there is no more denying of the crazy. I would rather not admit that to myself but there IS a sense of danger in the air. He IS a risk taker, has proven that in many different ways, he has crossed many lines and I am sure he has seen and perhaps done things in his time with the Forces I cannot imagine and wouldn’t want to. He fought his first war in Africa at age 17 (colonial Brit). What that does to a person I cannot begin to imagine. And he never talked about his experiences ever. He started at my insistence therapy several times but never saw it through. We have done marriage counseling which led nowhere (counselor thought he was so depressed she wanted to work with him only, a few more sessions after that, he stopped). Again at the risk of sounding corny, mostly I am profoundly sad, about a life wasted like that and even sadder that I do have to think about our safety now. I feel pity for the boy he was, I am sure he was a bright, curious kid. He had a drunken, abusive father who made a zillion bad decisions that destroyed the family. None of this is an excuse for what he did, but in sum total it is sad and tragic.

            • Dear whyonearth,

              Please try to stop worrying about him and making excuses for him. Spend that energy making a clean break and building a new FW free life for you and your daughter. You sound like I did before I got proper help for years of DV. You need to back away from the spackle, trust that he sucks, understand that he is a threat to your safety and that of your child’s. Many of our abusers were abused themselves – it is not an excuse to abuse others. Many of us here had extremely violent/emotionally abusive upbringings (myself included) with all of the details you just shared – still we did not become abusive adults. Your husband has agency; he acts like he does because he can, he doesn’t want to change and he gets sympathy from you for it. He has trained you to accept not only his abhorrent behavior but his excuses. He has trained you to fear what will happen to him but not what will happen to you and your daughter. I used to describe my ex as the earth in the old planetary system model were it was believed that the sun circled the earth and not the other way around. You are clearly seeing things like that.
              Please for your sake and that of your daughters find the support you need:
              1. A therapist who specializes in Domestic abuse and trauma for both you and your daughter.
              2. An attorney who works with victims of abuse or at least a pit bull attorney that will fight for the best settlement for you and your child.
              3. A good realtor who can guide you through the market and help you find a suitable home – you would be surprised how important this is – the wrong realtor can cost you thousands – the right one can put you in a place you didn’t even think you could afford.

              Best Wishes

            • I have the same take on adult offenders. Pity the traumatized child they once were. Getting involved with advocacy to prevent future traumatized children can be a way to process. I relate to this need to give meaning to otherwise meaningless-seeming tragedy. But trying to fix an abuser with a personality disorder is like crawling into the shark cage trying to put a bandaid on a great white. We’re not equipped and furthermore, most professionals in criminology would warn that recidivism is nearly 100% for certain personality disorders.

              It might help quell that phantom guilt to understand what you were likely dealing with. I couldn’t find criminologist Donald Dutton’s more accessible “The Batterer” for free download, but here’s one of his more clinical books.
              https://docshare.tips/the-abusive-personality-donald-g-dutton_57786861b6d87fe64e8b45d4.html

              Dutton spent decades studying abusers in prison settings and includes some staggering insights and key personality profiles that are very predictive. What Dutton wrties should be common knowledge but really isn’t. There’s a lot of misinformation and minimizing in pop psych that adds to people’s confusion. I agree with CL that “untangling skeins” can be unproductive but when anyone’s dealing with real potential danger, it can help to identify the breed of spider that’s lurking in your eaves, to know how poisonous it might be and what the antidote is.

              • thank you Hell of a chump, tried the link but couldn’t find said book. It is on amazon tho. Sounds like a very helpful read.

              • WOE– Start with “The Batterer” if you’re looking for a more accessible read (while under duress, though you may be a mental health professional and have no problem with wonky text). Both contain much of the same information but Dutton seems to have written “The Batterer” with the public in mind. He includes case studies of “sub-violent” abusers, though describes the MOs as the same. He discusses the abusive upbringings of most perpetrators and also their tendency of some to either lie about the abuse (protecting their own abusers to the extent they internalized their own abusers) or not talk about it.

            • I identify with much of what you said here and in your original letter. I care deeply for my cheater and have great memories of our unpolluted years together. AND I recognize that his actions killed our marriage and I can’t be in that kind of relationship with him. I found my psychobabble answer in Borderline Personality Disorder articles and did the work to help him get in with a therapist skilled in treating these patients, who are characterized by attachment issues and risk-taking behaviors. It has helped him a ton and his coparenting has improved significantly. He’s learning to understand his issues with being alone, protecting himself by lying, and making himself the center of every conversation. My greatest hope for him is that as he inventories the wreckage of our relationship, he will have the capacity in the future to build a better one with someone else. I don’t think all cheaters are cut from identical cloth, and I think it speaks well of you that you want good for your sync while also recognizing that some elements of the current arrangement are not working for you. I will be wishing you well!

              • NBU,
                Yes, WOE expressed sadness & compassion for H. While still married, she has authority to secure outside help for him.
                She can research, locate & screen for quality (military or private) Therapist to address his numerous issues. IF she decides to seek help for herself & their daughter, it can be done simultaneously.
                You gave your XH a beautiful gift.
                WOE might consider doing same.
                It could be her Goodbye Gift.

  • Very good advise about divorcing before you start dating. UNLESS you put in the work to heal and get over your last marriage you won’t make good decisions in your dating life. If your husband wants to sell the house he can do it since he is a co owner. He can file and the house will be sold. I did that with my XW. She didn’t want to sell but I forced the sale.

    • This information about forcing a sale is not accurate. Filing for divorce does not automatically force the sale of a house. There are ways for one party to keep the marital home, which is where expert legal advice comes in. See my post below.

  • I totally get why you don’t want to have to sell the house. It’s one constant in your child’s life. Moving on top of getting divorced is a double whammy. BUT, don’t be so sure you can’t keep the house. Have you done any research into the matter? Talked to a lawyer, real estate agent, mortgage broker? I wonder if your ex—I’m sorry, HUSBAND—is telling you that you can’t afford to move. Your husband is using his money to control you. He is also using your financial fears to control you. Do not assume his version of a financial settlement is accurate or fair. My ex wanted me to pay him $20k in cash from the equity in our home. And he said that I wouldn’t get any of his pension because my parents are well-off and would leave me with an inheritance. I got a lawyer who said I didn’t have to agree to that if it made me uncomfortable, especially because it was unfair to me. In the end, I got to keep the house AND he had to give me a portion of his 401k AND I get half his pension when he retires or reaches retirement age. And there’s nothing he can do about any of it. It’s all set in stone. So please get information from expert sources and stop listening to your abuser. I’m betting it’s to his benefit that you have no legal agreement. And if you haven’t already, change the locks on your house and invest in a doorbell camera.

    • 👏🏻

      Excellent advice. Talking to an attorney AND a certified divorce financial advisor were steps one and two of getting my ducks lined up. Understanding what you may actually settle on and what your financial capability is can get you far, especially if you have been financially controlled for a long time. Though it could drag things out longer, it is possible to come up with an agreement where, for example, the house is sold and split after the youngest minor child turns 19 or something like that. But only by talking to an expert and starting that conversation with the other side’s counsel can you get that sorted out.

  • Just get the divorce rolling.

    If he’s commenting on the boyfriend’s car, then he is stalking you. I have been “fucked with”, too. Her name is still on the car I drive and she still has a key. I have gone out many times to find that my headlights have been moved from the automatic mode to off. Once, the radio station had been changed to a country station. One time, my favorite pocket knife disappeared out of my cup holder after I forgot to bring it in to my apartment. I told my attorney and she pretty much advised me that without video of STBXW getting in the car, there’s nothing much that can be done. So maybe try to get an RO. At least let your attorney know.

    I don’t know how having a boyfriend might affect your spousal support but if the boyfriend is living with you, it might complicate things. I know if my STBXW cohabitates she loses her support.

    Anyway, good luck.

  • Why On Earth, You are in Limbo. You’re neither married or divorced. Apparently you have been COMFORTABLE in Limbo. Perhaps you’ve had the best of both worlds. That’s NOT going to last since “husband” discovered “boyfriend”.
    You have BOTH a husband & a boyfriend!!
    Legally, that information IS husband’s business?
    Life, as you have known it for the past 2 years,
    can change in a New York Minute.
    Who & what is most valuable to you?
    Decide. Or decision might be made for you.
    (or AGAINST you).

  • WhyOnEarth, the reason you feel guilty is because you have a husband and a boyfriend and I suspect you’re not being completely honest with one or both of them. Because you’re a decent person with a conscience, you’re going to feel gross and unsettled.

    By refusing to file for divorce, continuing to manage your husband’s finances, refusing to set communication boundaries with him, accepting his gifts, and withholding the fact that you’re in a relationship, you are dangling the hope of reunion over your husband in order to hang on to your house and continue receiving financial support from him. Do I feel bad for a drunk who cheated on his family for 10 years? Not really. But I think that this type of covert manipulation is not good for your mental health, is holding you back from moving on and being self sufficient, and modeling a very unhealthy and transactional approach to relationships to your daughter.

    Have you clearly and explicitly told your boyfriend that you haven’t filed for divorce and have no plans to do so in the foreseeable future? If you haven’t, then you’re willfully withholding information from him that could impact his choices and allowing him to continue to emotionally invest in a relationship where marriage, cohabitation, and long-term commitment are impossibilities, which is unfair.

    If you have been 100% honest and clear about your status and your intentions, then quite honestly, I don’t think much of this man’s character or his intentions if he doesn’t respect the sanctity of marriage and is content being your back-door man indefinitely.

    To summarize, I think you need to start being honest with yourself about what’s motivating your actions and start giving serious considerations about what you’re sacrificing in the long-term for the illusion of short-term stability. I say “illusion” because there is no guarantee that your husband won’t get fed up and decide to pull the rug out from under you when you least expect it. Or he might screw up at work, do something illegal, or run over someone with his car, in which case you could end up losing the house to cover his legal expenses and end up with a much less in a settlement than you would have received if you divorced while he was gainfully employed.

    • P.S. Just to add about the stalking…

      If you haven’t filed for divorce and don’t have a separation agreement granting you exclusive access to the home, your husband has every legal right to be there and monitor who is coming and going. He could enter the house whenever he wants. He could even decide to ditch his apartment and move back in. There is literally nothing you could do to stop him, unless he was being violent… and I don’t think you want reach that point. Your lawyer couldn’t even attempt to argue that your husband “abandoned” the home by moving out because your husband still pays the mortgage and you’re still managing his finances as his wife. Your could easily tell the police or a judge that you were taking time a part to cool off but that formal separation or divorce was never on the table. He would be correct.

      If you don’t like being stalked, then you need to take the legal steps that will enable the law to recognize his actions as stalking.

      • nope, not where I live. He leaves the home, he ends his right to possession of it – not ownership, but possession and thus the right to entry.

        • WOE– Thanks for the correction. I have no idea why you’re being subjected to all this moralizing but I suspect it’s that everyone perceives that you may be in danger. See above for a possible “clinical” take on why people do this. Usually this page is a lot more supportive. But then it’s been awhile since there was a post about someone separating from a Special Forces-trained stalker.

          Though it can be sage advice to take time to heal before beginning new relationships, life isn’t always tidy like that. Personally I think your husband’s ten years of cheating and separation end any “moral” obligation you have to be “faithful” unless for pragmatic reasons having to do with local family courts, settlement and custody issues which someone mentioned or, again, just based on what’s healthy for you. I think people whose views on this are tinged by scripture should state this up front as a qualifier because not everyone follows the same religion or religious tenets or has the same concept of God.

          We can all agree that cruelty towards and betrayal of innocent people is bad and leave it at that. It sounds like you never deserved to be stuck in this situation.

          • Victim-blaming is putting the responsibility for abuse on the abused partner rather than the abuser. Not a single person who has commented on this letter has done that.

            It is not victim blaming to simply be critical of an abused person’s actions because they are not in her best interests and potentially destructive to herself and other people. If OP was just looking for someone to comfort her or blow hot air up her butt, she wouldn’t have come to Chump Lady for advice.

            The majority of WOE’s letter focused on her enmeshment with her husband and her new relationship; the stalking part seemed included as an aside, which is why most of the original comments, including Chump Lady’s, didn’t make it the primary focus until WOE started to respond.

            • Someone in danger isn’t a candidate for bitch slapping. Context and tact, please. Gentle wake-up calls, yes, but there’s been some major disparagement of the OP’s character in this thread and all of it based on wild extrapolation. I find it ugly and chilling.

          • ⬆️ “I think people whose views on this are ‘tinged by scripture’ should state up front as a ‘qualifier’…”

            It is common knowledge that “not everyone follows the same religion…”

            It’s also common knowledge that we all share all the same Rights:
            Freedom of Speech
            Freedom OF Religion
            {It’s NOT Freedom FROM Religion}.

            Does “qualifier” mean “warning” ?
            Should everybody qualify before posting any morally-based opinion?
            How about immorally based?
            Amorally-based? OR is it only the scripture-based moral expressions that should be flagged? cited?

            No reason whatsoever to discriminate against any scripture-based post. None

            • I’m sure there are atheists and agnostics that read this blog as well. Chumps come in all shapes.

              • I’m sure you’re absolutely right about atheists & agnostics being on this blog (with or without posting). I agree also that “chumps come in all shapes”.
                All chumps are welcome, right?

                My ⬆️post is because of that fact Because of differences among us, we will all most likely read a post & DISAGREE with some writer.
                Expect it. Accept it. Respect it.

                My ⬆️ post was in response to
                Hell of a Chump’s 2:37pm post last sentence of 2nd paragraph.

                My reason for rebuttal was simple & singular. Posting an opinion, view or belief- tinged or saturated, specifically cited or generally expressed with scripture should NOT be censored only BECAUSE such is Scripture related. That’s clearly discrimination, so I said so.

                I wrote ⬆️ post because our Rights & Freedoms is a big, important issue for all of us.
                Bigger & much more important than any personal differences.

                I think Hell of a Chump is intelligent, insightful, articulate + generous with time & interesting information.

  • I would think that if you buy out your husband’s share of the house, its only his half of the remaining mortgage and does not concern the current market value. Not at all sure, though. You most definately need to see a divorce attorney about this, among other things.

    • I am doing this right now. You essentially just refinance with cash-out for the other spouse’s equity. Unless for some reason their credit score is a shambles, it’s pretty straight forward.

      • Forgot to add – in the US it is based on the current market value, but that works either way.

        If the value is less, than there is less/no equity to split. If the value is more, then you can refinance with cash out.

        • But she could only refinance with cash out if she is on the original mortgage itself, right? If I remember right, I think she paid into it and her husband is the mortgage holder for the remainder. So if only he is on the mortgage, only he could refinance the mortgage to do a cash out. She will have to start a new mortgage of her own with a cash out for him. I don’t think it would be a refi.

          And yeah… it’s based on current market value. My financial advisor person mentioned that and I factored it in when figuring out if I could handle a mortgage to keep the house and also when sorting out what my price point would be if I were forced out and had to buy something else with my share of the proceeds.

    • Equity = current market value – remaining mortgage left

      So if your house is worth $300k and you have a mortgage remaining of $200k, then you have $100k in equity.

      I like to think of equity as Monopoly money because it’s largely an imaginary figure based on what your house is worth it you were to sell at any given moment. So if you are going to buy your spouse out of his half of the equity, you need to get a fair assessment of the value. You can sell and split the proceeds, do a cash out refi to get his half of the equity. In my case, my ex had a very large retirement portfolio, and because we were married for so long, I was entitled to half. He agreed that he would pay me my half of the 401k, less the amount of what his equity in the home was worth. So I was able,e to stay in the house and do a simple refinance in my name only.

  • If you don’t want to get divorced, fine, but get a LEGAL SEPARATION.

    I wish legal separation was talked about more on this blog, especially for chumps in the US who have to deal with a loss of health insurance by divorcing.

    Legal separation allows you to stay married, and keep insurance, but divorces you financially. It’s a perfect first step for anyone hesitant to pull the divorce ripcord for whatever reason, or anyone who thinks they have a unicorn on their hands.

    I am going through this process now so my mentally ill husband (we live separately) can stay on my insurance. I am refinancing my house with cash out to buy him out. My house was almost paid off. Giving him half of my money hurts as he didn’t work much, but in the end it’s the law and therefore right thing to do, even if he never did the right thing.

    To the OP – you feel guilty because you are lying and taking financial advantage of someone, and that’s wrong, even if that person sucks.

  • I was raised Catholic. I have a problem with guilt. I feel guilty when I don’t scoop the cat litter every day. (The smell!) I feel guilty when I use paper towels for cleaning. (The trees!) I feel guilt when I put sugar in my coffee. (The calories!)

    But I have NEVER felt any guilt for kicking out my cheating ex-husband DDay night and starting the divorce process 2 days later. (The 6th Commandmnent!)

    • I’m right there with you, Discarded! The one constant since my last DDay was my resolve that I was done. He had shit all over the the life I worked so hard to build, so for me, the house was nothing but an empty shell from that moment on. I was glad to leave it, and all the bad memories it contained behind. I filed for D 6 days later.

      Funny story… karma had my back. Not long after I moved out, I got an invoice emailed to me by accident from the plumber. Apparently, an upstairs toilet sprung a leak and damaged the ceiling below and the plumber recommended a local restoration service for repairs. Perfect metaphor, is it not? He pissed all over the marriage, and it rained down on his head, not mine.

  • I think the OP is getting her husband‘s alcoholism confused with his infidelity. I know plenty of people with substance abuse issues who have never messed around on their spouses. In my opinion, there’s no such thing as a functional alcoholic. It’s not your fault he started drinking. And it’s not your job to get him to stop drinking. It never was. Please seek therapy yourself to figure out this unhealthy dynamic with your hopefully soon to be ex. Setting boundaries when you’re not used to setting them is initially difficult, but it does lower your anxiety. Ask me how I know.

  • Thanks CL and CN for your insights. Yes, boundaries for sure. Always has been difficult for me, not just with cheating spouse. I see now that the recent events are a symptom of not enough enforcement of boundaries. I didn’t and don’t think I was gaslighting my daughter. When she asked I told her the truth and 3 wks later told him I wanted to separate. Before that I tried to keep things together, I thought that that was what I should do. May be that was wrong but I had no bad intention. I did want to keep things amicable after the separation to avoid a war of roses – this went too far, I see that now. He can get very vindictive and nasty and I didn’t have the stomach for that. Weak? Sure. I am feeling guilty for kicking him out. Sorting out finance should cure that. I do not feel guilty for taking his money to which I am entitled. I also do not feel guilty about having a new life and I do not see a need or a right on his side to inform him about any details and I do not wish to be informed about his personal life. The kicking out bit was me enforcing serious boundaries and that is hard for me to do. But I will get better at it and yes, divorce needs to happen. Thank you chumps.

    • Thank you for chiming in!

      Keep in mind that often when disordered people say they want things to be “amicable” what they really mean is they want you to continue to be a doormat and do everything they want you to do, often to your detriment. My ex continually harped on being “amicable” and “reasonable” while wanting me to not get a lawyer, to draft up all the paperwork (even his stuff), and give him $20k in cash. He also wanted to keep 100% of his pension. No thank you.

      • “Keep in mind that often when disordered people say they want things to be “amicable” what they really mean is they want you to continue to be a doormat”

        YUP!

        • And when I refuse to be the doormat and do EXACTLY what he wants, which rarely is in my best interest, he drags me through expensive litigation (5 rounds and counting) until a judge tells him he’s wrong.

      • My ex kept telling the custody evaluator and the magistrate that we had had ” a good coparenting relationship” up until Covid (March 202). And I had to keep making it clear that the only thing that made it “good” was that I had been doing everything HE wanted. Once I healed enough to grow a backbone, we weren’t able to coparent “amicably”. He just wanted to control everything. There was no give and take. It was his way or I was being “difficult”. He went so far as to try and paint me as mentally unstable to the court. Fortunately no one bought that.

        Like the OP (I think), I was scared of him. He had abused me for a decade, mostly verbally/emotionally, but a few times physically as well. He was intimidating and scary, particularly when he was drunk (also a “functional” alcoholic). Fortunately he didn’t have a gun, but he came pretty close to killing me once. I too was enmeshed for a long time, continuing to pay half his bills, manage the money, make his appointments, etc. I had to pull myself out of that, and it wasn’t easy. I was so used to doing it. Honestly, he fell apart financially once I stopped, but I decided it wasn’t my responsibility to save him from his own poor choices.

    • “He can get very vindictive and nasty”
      Hmmm…
      What’s Fair/Moral doesn’t equal what’s Legal
      OR what’s Safe/Wise.
      Suggestion: Immediately go into a serious “Prevent & Protect” mode of living b/c
      Holidays, anniversaries & unexpected news=
      times that “vindictive & nasty” often happen.
      Be shrewd as a serpent, gentle as a dove.

    • I think you are not really absorbing what CN and CL are saying. You are pretty much sticking to what you wrote in your original post.
      “… taking his money to which I am entitled.” Without a decree, nobody knows WHAT you’re entitled to. All of that money is at risk without a decree. He could stop the envelopes of cash in a heartbeat, and you have no legal recourse. And if, as you said, he was hitting on 16-year-olds (!!?!), he could be in prison very soon. There goes the money and the house, and you have nothing documented.
      “I do not see a need or right on his side to inform him [about boyfriend].” Well, the courts may see it differently, as many posters have mentioned. You’re giving legal ammunition to someone you describe as nasty and vindictive. People are helpfully trying to warn you, and you’re not accepting that reality.
      “divorce needs to happen” We talk a lot on this board about the passive voice. The divorce isn’t going to happen by itself. The phrasing you’re looking for is — “I will initiate divorce.”

    • Ok, so you’ve taken some great first steps, but you’re laboring under some misapprehensions here.

      “I also do not feel guilty about having a new life.”

      Until that divorce is final you Do Not Have A New Life. You have a spouse that you are connected to By Law. Your money, your house, your taxes, his debts, any future liabilities… that’s a huge part of your life and it’s still all wrapped up with him. You have the illusion of a new life, but it can come crashing down at any moment. You gotta actually solidify it.

      “and I do not see a need or a right on his side to inform him about any details”

      Morally, sure. Practically…

      “I did want to keep things amicable after the separation to avoid a war of roses”

      Yeah… and how’s your secret boyfriend gonna help that amicability? If you get the divorce first you can deal with the blowout it causes (and yes, there will be one, because your husband’s an asshole) *and then* you’ll be in a better position to handle the he-finds-out-about-the-boyfriend blowup (yeah, there probably will be one, because asshole) because you can play the “we’re divorced” card. Also, he’ll have less ability to cause you trouble after the divorce is finalized. Right now you’re setting yourself up to deal with both of those blowups in a double whammy – and that’s not a good strategy.

      “I do not feel guilty for taking his money to which I am entitled.”

      Are you, though? Morally, sure, he owes you that money, but legally? Not till you get yourself to the courts and get some orders set up. He could change his mind tomorrow. You can keep handling his finances after the divorce if you really want to, but you need to get this shit legally sorted Yesterday.

      Seriously, what’s your end game here? How do you think this will play out? Where do you want to be in a year? In 5? In 10? Because whatever the future brings, it won’t be what you have now. This situation is not sustainable and it’s gonna end one way or the other – so you really need to take control of how it pans out.

      Yeah, it’s gonna suck – but it’s gonna suck way worse if you continue on your current course. Bite the bullet, rip off the bandaid, and get to the lawyers.

    • I’m glad you found the helpful advice and support you needed and that you recognize what your next steps should be. Good luck and please update us!

    • As someone who also learned over time to adjust my behavior in order to avoid angering or displeasing my spouse I empathize entirely with your efforts to avoid his vindictiveness and nastiness.

      What I learned was that I had conditioned myself to his abusive behavior, until he went too far and I realized, after 32 years of marriage, that I couldn’t accommodate the latest outrage. I suspect your husband’s (stbx’s!) stalking of you may have crossed that line for you and made you realize the uneasy status quo you had going is no longer acceptable.

      Please make sure that when you do inform him you’re going ahead with a divorce that you do so from a same place.

      • ‘I suspect your husband’s (stbx’s!) stalking of you may have crossed that line for you and made you realize the uneasy status quo you had going is no longer acceptable.’
        Spot on Adelante. That is exactly it. My mother was a choleric person and her anger was endlessly scaring and scarring. You never knew or at least as I child I never knew, what would trigger her. I have become an expert in appeasement and anticipation and it is quite ironic really that I ended up in a marriage that – when exactly is difficult to say – began to require to do much the same. I appeased and appeased and appeased and all that achieved was exacerbation of his behavior. And that pattern just repeated itself. Him commenting in an almost throw away comment on the car parked on the road (not my driveway and no, I dont have a garage and also wouldnt dream of asking my BF to go into hiding as someone else here suggested) where there are ALWAYS cars parked was a wake-up call that has me worried greatly and has proven that my appeasement didn’t work.

    • Nothing of value to say apart from huge (((hugs))). If this stuff was easy, none of us would be on this website. Take care and stay safe as you ease yourself out of this situation.

  • Whyonearth

    Functional is not finite. The ex is a late life addict. He was functional until he wasn’t. Its been 3 years since I filed. He was completely uncooperative during the discovery portion of divorce. I’ve been divorced 6 months. He’s spent 78% of his IRA. He’s 63. He broke into house at one point early in process. You need to act now. Talk to a family law attorney to see what is likely to happen in your case with the particulars of your state. You need to have a family study to determine that he may or may not be fit to have 50/50 custody of your child. Additionally ex ran his practice into the ground & spent his share of our vacation home in less than 6 months $115,000. The fact that you used inheritance for house is Commingling. That may hurt you depending on where you live. Please act now before his situation deteriorates followed by yours and daughter’s.

  • | whereas he does a very poor job of looking after money

    I think you really need to get properly divorced. That will establish separate finances and protect you. It’s not uncommon for states to consider your finances joint well beyond what you might be expecting.

    Also, do talk to a lawyer. If you are in an at-fault state his infidelity matters. At the same time, if he finds out about your boyfriend he could turn the tables. Stalking your visitors and dropping manipulative texts is behavior that should concern you.

    Hugs and good vibes your way, it’s not an easy process

  • PS

    The former husband had 3 new windshields in 18 months. That alone terrified me into paying for the insurance on his car (in both names) until I was free. You have no control over him only over yourself. When ex broke into house, it was legal, dumb because he had a key, I had changed garage code. I knew he wouldn’t locate key, he never used it when he lived in home. Make sure home possession is addressed. You have lots of work to do, best of luck.

  • Dear “Why”:
    A friend recently divorced her alcoholic abusive husband, taking the kids and moving into a new home. She had been propping him up for years but the abuse was too much, and he never tried to change.

    He remarried almost immediately, and then killed himself in the family home (not her home).

    My friend knows that it was only a miracle that he didn’t kill her and their kids.

    Alcoholism mixed with jealousy and the desire to control you does no lead to anything but a bad ending. Listen to CL.

    His actions are forcing you into action. Do it for your safety, and your daughter’s safety. Divorce, no contact, move. You can make a home anywhere. Make it a safe place. You’re not safe where you are, legally or physically.

    (I filed for divorce while I was making $12/hour. Do you know how freaking scary that is, after a life of comfort and a savings account? I survived, worked into a reasonable salary level.)

    Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life isn’t just a title. It’s an action plan.

    • I hope you are wrong ChumpNoMore. I keep thinking ‘he wouldn’t’. But then I also thought he would never cheat, never chat up a 16 yr old etc. What do I know what he would and wouldn’t do.

      • Whyonearth, You wrote
        “he can get very vindictive & nasty”.

        He knows/suspects there’s a man
        in your life, in the house
        + it’s holiday time,

        EXCEPT high level vindictive/nasty NOW.

      • Hope is not an acceptable course of action when you are dealing with a situation like this.

        You do not know what he will do. He is showing you what he is doing. You can take action to protect yourself, your child and any innocent bystanders. Men like your x don’t care who gets caught in the crossfire.

      • My ex continually surprised me by doing things I thought he’d “never” do. I never thought he’d cheat on me. He did. I never thought he’d physically hurt me, until one day he picked me up by the throat and threw me across the room. I never thought he’d put our child at risk. But I found out he was (unsuccessfully) attempting suicide pretty regularly, and then taking our son the next day, while still suffering the after-effects of copious amounts of medication and alcohol. He finally ended up killing himself (his body just couldn’t take it anymore, I think, as he didn’t even really take that much the last time), leaving me to help our nine year old through that mess. Fortunately my son is doing great – I think he’s actually doing better now that his dad is gone. His dad’s house was not a healthy environment and my son was continually stressed (to the point where I hospitalized him in a children’s psych ward because he was talking about wanting to hurt himself and die).

        Losing your home is hard. I had to sell my beloved house. I really wanted it, but in the end I let it go. I will tell you that I am 1000X happier in my tiny apartment than I ever was in my home.

        Get a lawyer. File for a divorce. Protect yourself. Sell the house or get it legally turned over to you (“use and possession” or a buyout). Get a restraining order if you can.

        It’s scary, but you can do it. You deserve better than this half life you’re stuck in.

      • I don’t think there is a person on this site who did not keep think “they wouldn’t” even long after we knew they would. An here we all are. BTW chatting up a 16 year old is alarming, creepy and illegal in some areas. That is enough reason to get away from this freak before you find yourself in your own Investigation Discovery episode.

      • Why

        I never would’ve believed my former husband would become addicted to stimulants, he didn’t even drink. I kept thinking what is wrong with him? He’d been a good husband, dad, friend. My son in law said to daughter, “do you think your Dad is on drugs?” Never crossed our minds even with the erratic behavior. I thought the missing money was from cheating, which he denied. Who knew it was even worse. Again, you can only control yourself.

        As ex used to say”desperate people do desperate things”.

          • Narcotics and alcoholism and cheating may have some similarities but they are not the same. Addicts try to kill or erase pain with…..well whatever they’re drug of choice is. Narcs do not do this…..they’re drug is your pain and power over others. Addicts seek to escape….Narcs seek to control. Not saying either one is great but there is a fundamental difference.

      • WOE: Line your ducks up just in case you decide to file, etc…..In some states if a spouse put money from an inheritance into a home and can prove it was from an inheritance, that inherited part stays with that spouse and then the remainder of the value of the home is divided. If this applies in your state, you would not need 50% to buy him out. You need legal advice to see what would factor in to a settlement in your state. I would be for getting out before his situation deteriorates financially and emotionally. As someone said “alcoholism and jealousy”………..Also in some areas, a wife can work out an agreement to stay in the home “X” # of years after the divorce and then sell and give the other spouse their portion of proceeds. Remember the holidays are HERE and people do things that no one thought they would do. Good luck to you.

        • Great suggestion. Yes, I have heard of agreements where the spouse stays in the house for X number of years and then it is sold and split. Many attorneys advise their clients (the ones who will not be in the house) not to agree, though, because the condition of the house could deteriorate and it could be worth less down the road. It is certainly worth her talking to an attorney about!

  • Why on Earth, I was married to LTC Fuckface through multiple deployments. Every time he came home more damaged and more dangerous. He finally pulled a gun out as we argued. I still wake up sweating and anxious reliving that trauma in nightmares. I know if I had stayed a second longer I would have been the victim of another unfortunate gun “accident”. Leave this volatile situation. It will escalate.

    • ‘LTC Fuckface’ – LOL, sorry, that IS funny, in spite of the misery. It is hurtful though to think that these men (and women I am sure) give up their physical and mental health for the sake of their country and for a more or less cynical political system. But SO glad you got out. I feel I did get out by kicking him out, I thought that was the end of it and I truly never thought he would stalk me. The goal posts have moved only recently- at least that is my perception.

  • Thought so Dogs&Hogs 🙂 He is currently staying with his FOO miles away and has already left. I know this because my SIL told me. No guarantees of course. Return possible any time. Not sure what to do right now. Police would laugh at me. Keep the house locked and the alarm on I guess. I have a dog, too.

      • Plz Be Careful with your precious self. Prevention aka Don’t say/do anything
        that might “trigger” vindictive/nasty
        especially during this holiday season.🧨
        Prevention might require an unfair sacrifice for awhile? Safety First is my suggestion. + Listen to your gut. & Consider all other suggestions here.

    • Police are less likely to laugh at video evidence of stalking. They suddenly start worrying how their inaction will look on the six o’clock news. ADAs are the same. Evidence greases the wheels of justice.

  • You are living a lie, using your ex, dishonest, and triangulating. The new boyfriend should drop you off he had an once of maturity. Get your affairs in order before you date. Get the divorce. Two wrongs don’t make a right.

  • I have had it up to here with this victim-blaming and ignorant faux moralizing. You’re talking absolute nonsense which you pulled out of your ass, but there’s no sense trying to reason with fools.
    Go ahead and report me for telling you to fuck right off. Oh, and be sure to fuck right off.

    • That was to DBA Xena and all the others attacking WOE.
      So that would be a group fucking off I’m looking for. Thanks ever so much for your moronic input, but it’s time to give it a rest.

      • Not sure why you think your take on this is more superior than others…and to tell people to f-off too?!
        Some simper with sympathy, some give empathy, some give more therapy-like, and some give a kick-in-the-pants!! Most times advice is based on how the advice-giver is feeling at the moment themselves. If a person writes in, others are going to give a variety of advice -not just what you think. The OP is free to take the advice or not! If this bothers you, you need to figure out why.

        • You have a mistaken impression, Navigator. As I clearly stated above, I told the people who *were making personal attacks to WOE* to fuck off, not people who don’t share my POV. I objected to them bludgeoning her. Lots of people have expressed the belief that she should divorce before dating without making accusations against her like saying she’s addicted to drama, is a cheater, a liar, a gaslighter, etc. One of these people even went so far as to say she was just as bad as the creep who is stalking her.

          People who merely expressed the opinion that she should divorce before dating are not included in my request to fuck off.
          We all say things we regret at times. However, vicious gang-ups on a chump are beyond the pale AFAIC.

          I like people to disagree with me. An echo chamber would be a pretty boring place to hang out. I just don’t like mean girl antics. I hope that clears it up for you.

          • Yep, everyone has their own view.

            I dated before my D was final. I honestly didn’t think I would ever marry again. But our D took a year and I tuned down several invitations, then I met someone I knew was worthy and I was lonely. I don’t regret it a bit. I was long past ever reconciling with my fw. It was not long before the D was finalized. I thought the D was only going to take 6 months, but it took a year.

            Which was fine, fw was still paying my bills as that was how he paid back the money he stole from me for his whore(s).

            With young kid it is tricky, but not for me. I was of sound mind and body and I was legally free to do whatever I wanted to.

            I also had no spiritual issues as a Christian. I did nothing wrong.

        • Exactly. I meant it as a kick in the pants. A Cher bitch slap. It is given in love. A ‘What the heck’ are you doing!?!?! Short on the sugar, absolutely. I’d want my best friends to give me a bitch slap if I was dating, with not even divorce papers filed, while my child was living in my house. Not blow sunshine up my butt.

    • OHFFS: Your post is out of line. Your opinion does not invalidate that other posters.
      I’ve seen this from you often. While sanctioned by the site operator apparently, it is a repellent to readers and users who engage in civil and respectful dialogue.

      This poster came here for both.

      • Often? I have never told other posters to fuck off. You ain’t seen shit, L99.
        If you have to lie to try to make your case, you don’t have a case. If you really want civil and respectful dialogue, try being truthful and fair.

        I do not think my opinion invalidates anyone else’s. They’re doing a fine job of invalidating their opinions all by themselves. I was expressing my frustration with these continued mean-spirited accusations against WOE, and your response is a false accusation against me. Well I guess that brings the bullshit full circle. Happy holidays.

        • OHFFS:

          You’re exposed.

          You’re a toxic contributor to this site. The repellant I spoke of earlier, above.

          You helped me make an easy decision today. Enjoy your bully pulpit. Yuk.

          • Hmmm. It seems like somebody doesn’t like being caught in a fib.

            It reminds me of a cheater, who thinks it’s okay to cheat and lie, but if you point out that they’ve done so, you’re the problem, not them. See DARVO. See also It’s Not What I Did, It’s Your Reaction.

            I had no idea I was so powerful that I actually REPEL posters from this site by offending their tender sensibilities in some nebulous way which you can’t be specific about. Amazing, and you said “readers and users”, plural. Is it like, a gang of offended folks, and you’re all in agreement that I suck, in some nebulous way that you can’t be specific about, and I suck so badly that none of you will deign to darken the door of this blog again? You mean people can’t just ignore posters they don’t like?

    • Other people can have opinions that don’t agree with you OHFFS. I agree that the OP should not be dating when she is married. Also if the Mercedes is in the driveway and you don’t want anyone to know, PUT THE CAR IN THE GARAGE.

      • Yes they can. And I am equally free to tell them to fuck off, especially if they’re being bullies.

        Your version of morality is not obligatory on WOE or anyone else. They’re separated and she is free to date. That is her belief and she has the right to act on it.

        Why should she have to hide the fact that she has a boyfriend? She didn’t know the fuckwit would come to her place, stalking her and possessively checking out what cars are on the street so he can catch her with a man. He knows now, so what good would it do to hide it, even if she does have a garage?
        This is more victim-blaming nonsense. Now she’s to blame for being stalked because she didn’t hide her boyfriend’s car. Wow. Did you get a hernia from making that leap?

  • If this has been addressed I am sorry but I feel like I must write some thing. Just recently an American ex-football player was found to have the kind of brain damage that causes violence. He killed a doctor his, wife and their grandchildren and no one knew why. Now they do. He was subjected to brain damage playing football and it is a permanent disability. If your husband had concussions due to war it very well be that he has some form of this. The prefrontal cortex is where our rational thoughts are. With that kind of damage there is slow deterioration. You might remember an American football player who killed anyone who angered him. His autopsy was scary as hell. Not only did he kill other people, he committed suicide in prison. People on here warning you know what they are talking about.

  • Fair point – but I think there’s enough in the original narrative that screams mayday, without introducing speculative skein-untangling.

    Get some help, WOE. There’s great advice here.

  • I understand how tightly financial ties can bind, and that’s what’s binding you to your husband. I stayed with my FW for years for financial reasons, too, so I get it.

    However, you have a brighter future ahead if you get a divorce. You seem to have a serious boyfriend, and that’s great. If you want your relationship with him to lead to marriage, you have to divorce your husband first.

    It’s time to split. You should be able to keep the house, as you paid for half of it, and are still occupying it along with your daughter. Make that your top priority in the financial negotiations, and let your FW cope with the real estate market.

  • It is high time to separate and file to divorce. It is understandably complicated, there is plenty of financial and emotional entanglement involved. But you need to feel and be SAFE, both you and your daughter to survive and thrive. And you’re not, because of what you say it your testimony and the sheer fact that you are here. Get counsel, both therapy and legal. You have rights, which give you power, time to assert them. I am sorry but owning a house or kinda owning a house is not the same a being safe. Rent a studio for you and your daughter if you must but get out from under him and go no contact or minimal contact to regain your sanity. You can’t fix him but you can still right your own ship.

  • I think the fact that you are still married and have a boyfriend has triggered a response among many in CN. While you may feel your marriage is over because he is out of the house, it isn’t. It isn’t any more over than when any of our FWs told their APs that our marriages were over as they hopped into bed. Because no matter how you feel about it, marriage is a legal contract which must be legally undone through legal separation and divorce. Those legal processes decide who gets what and divides up your finances in writing. And when you have that paperwork all wrapped up and you are legally free, then there is no guilt because the financials are all on you and no one can make you feel like you are taking advantage of anyone.

    I don’t like victim blaming one bit and I do feel like some comments were over the top. Accusing you of gaslighting your daughter was beyond the pale, IMHO. But I think many of the commenters who came on strong were really incensed because you have a boyfriend. And that piece of information maybe tarnishes your chump credibility. But I digress.

    I don’t think you are seeking drama or kibble. I think you are trying not to disrupt your life and your daughter’s life any more than has already occurred. One of your later comments I think said your daughter is now of age. Keeping the house to maintain stability for a younger child I completely understand. But if your daughter is of age and has no timeline for moving out into her own place, you are really being hamstrung by trying to make her happy. Sort out keeping the house in your divorce if that is really important to you (meaning that YOU, not your daughter, really want and intend to be there many more years) or reconcile your daughter to the fact that you will have to move.

    The housing market is awful. And I myself have not yet filed for divorce as my husband is poised to give up the house of his own free will without a fight. If I file, he will turn 180 and I will have a fight on my hands with a man who out earns me 3 times over and also has a wealthy family member who would likely help him pay legal fees to drive me under. It is a fight I am trying to avoid. My child is only 6 and his best friends live on our block. In my case, I have a big need to keep things stable for him. Having said that, if the situation does not go as I expect, I will file and I am prepared to risk losing the house.

    The risk your husband presents is not just to you but to your daughter. You said she is of age. Does she know about your husband’s stalking behavior? If she is an adult, I feel like you should be honest with her about that. What if he follows her or reaches out to her and she is at risk and unsuspecting?

    This stalking behavior plus his military experience and addiction problem is scary in combination. You and your daughter are an easy target as he knows where you live. Thank goodness for alarms and dogs but you can’t stay trapped in your home. If it were me, I would file for divorce and use my share from the house to flee to a different address where he can’t find you. As your daughter is too old for forced visitation, this is much easier than for those of us with minor children. I think if you let your daughter know about these messages and veiled threats from your husband, she will give up the dream of staying in that house until she is ready to move to her own place. In the interest of both of your safety, I would think that would change her view of the situation and free you up to go.

    In short, ditch the boyfriend and get divorced first. Tell your daughter about the weird messages. Decide with your daughter if you both feel safe to stay in the house and formulate your divorce plan with your attorney based on your risk assessment – both from a personal safety and financial standpoint. Divorce your husband and block him from contacting you. Direct all communications to the attorney’s office.

    Getting him out of the house was a really big step. I appreciate that was huge for you but you are NOT done ending this. It’s going to stink but you have to rip off the bandage. His cheating did not grant you a divorce, nor did his moving out. You had hoped to remain in the house with things as they are but the stalking has made that untenable. The need to divorce is more urgent. So now you are looking at an envelope of cash and feeling guilt because you are getting financial support out if your marriage while entertaining a boyfriend in the house that still partially belongs to your husband.

    I’m Catholic. I understand the guilt thing. The resolution to it is to do what you should have already done which is file and sort out the house thing. You and your daughter both have to suffer consequences from FW cheating. That is the unfortunate way it goes. You can try to manage the damage but it is unavoidable. The good thing is that you managed his finances for him, so hopefully there are no hidden assets and it can all be put on the table in settlement or before a court. Get copies of everything and finish legally separating your lives.

    • “It isn’t any more over than when any of our FWs told their APs that our marriages were over as they hopped into bed.”

      It certainly is more over than that. She has told him their relationship is over. He has left. That is not comparable to a fuckwit lying to a spouse, staying in the marriage and promising fidelity and then violating that promise in secrecy. WOE’s spouse has no good reason to assume she feels any further duty to be faithful to him and if he does feel that way, it’s just more proof that he is an entitled douche. She doesn’t have any legal duty to tell him she has a boyfriend, either, and who would, given his potential for violence? Who cares what his expectations are? He already drove a bulldozer through their marriage vows. She’s not legally bound to refrain from having a boyfriend while separated and doesn’t feel morally bound to do so, which is an entirely rational viewpoint. She clearly understands that the religious POV is that if she is still legally married, it is technically infidelity. However, that is not *her* point of view, so it need not matter to her.

      But yeah, divorce is imperative here, especially given this fw’s aforementioned potential for violence. It’s imperative for her well-being, not in order to avoid breaking vows the fw already made null and void.

      Good point about warning her daughter about the fuckwit hanging around. It will upset her, but her safety is more important than her having a good opinion of him.

  • Hello Mr wonderful’s Ex,

    thank you for taking the time and the thought for such a detailed response. I agree with some of it, disagree with other points and some are factually incorrect.

    Accusing you of gaslighting your daughter was beyond the pale, IMHO.

    I agree. Gaslighting my daughter is an truly absurd reproach.No sane parent would include a child in the cheating tragedy as it evolves, other commentators have pointed that out too. And when she asked, I told her and the author of the gaslighting comment in question just overlooked that bit of info.

    But I think many of the commenters who came on strong were really incensed because you have a boyfriend.
    Why anyone outside the scripture circles feels a ned to get incensed over the BF escapes me. If a marriage is a contract than contractual matters are for the contractual partners to decide. Any contract can be cancelled which it has been. My STBX broke the contract by cheating over a decade. He has moved out as a consequence. The rest ist technicalities and the state’s participation. So now there is another man in MY picture, after all of that. I really do not see how or why that can rightfully ‘incense’ anybody.

    ‘I think the fact that you are still married and have a boyfriend has triggered a response among many in CN. While you may feel your marriage is over because he is out of the house, it isn’t. It isn’t any more over than when any of our FWs told their APs that our marriages were over as they hopped into bed.’
    Nope, I think there is a huge difference. The separation DID happen and it IS out in the open. My STBX doesn’t think he has a full marriage going with a loving wife whilst BF is being told otherwise. Things ARE over. People often do stay married on paper mostly for reasons of finance for decades and have other partners and everybody goes about their business. If everybody is civilized there is no issue and such arrangements can work out beautifully without real estate brokers, lawyers etc. collecting huge amount of fees out of taxed income. There is no need to hand over competence to ‘the system’ if everybody involved is ok with doing it otherwise.

    You had hoped to remain in the house with things as they are but the stalking has made that untenable. The need to divorce is more urgent.

    Totally agree. That was a game changer, in all respects and I will act on it. There is still ! a part of me in this that refuses to believe that he really is so disturbed and I am holding on to the person I thought he was. I know, I know….Now however even I cannot pretend that he is mostly ‘normal ‘ – you know – boys will be boys, all men cheat and other minimalisations that one is capable of when the truth is just too much. My daughter knows about the stalking and the envelope. She refuses any and all contact with him.

    So now you are looking at an envelope of cash and feeling guilt because you are getting financial support out if your marriage while entertaining a boyfriend in the house that still partially belongs to your husband.

    No, no and no. I have said it now several times – I do not feel guilty about the money. Most of that is alimony for my daughter anyways and the envelope of cash is a blunt attempt at manipulation. My boy friend doesn’t live with me, very occasional over night stays aside. I feel guilty for kicking STBX out and I still feel I need some kind of justification. That can only be a result of a decade with of gas lighting that left me doubting my own senses and my own judgment (‘it was nothing’!!!) until my daughter found out and suddenly there was a second person who saw what I saw.

    • “People often do stay married on paper mostly for reasons of finance for decades and have other partners and everybody goes about their business. If everybody is civilized there is no issue and such arrangements can work out beautifully without real estate brokers, lawyers etc. collecting huge amount of fees out of taxed income. There is no need to hand over competence to ‘the system’ if everybody involved is ok with doing it otherwise.”

      The fact that you believe and want this is your problem.

      • I think this is true in same cases. People can separate but stay married for financial reasons and be amicable about it. It’s certainly not possible with a cheater or a stalker.
        So her believing in the possibility itself is not a problem. It’s only if she believes it’s possible with that creep.

          • Limbo can become very comfortable.
            I know cuz I wasted years.
            Unknown is out of comfort zone.
            Courage comes with movement.
            Sitting on the fence ~
            Keeps her still & an easy target.
            Is it she Can’t ~or~ won’t come down?
            Maybe she’s “frozen in fear”
            Or maybe I’m just guessing…

    • “Why anyone outside the scripture circles feels a need to get incensed over the BF escapes me.”
      🎚 ⭕️ ⭕️ ⭕️ 😆🤣😃 ⭕️ ⭕️ ⭕️ 🎚
      Thank you WOE, I luv your turn-of-phrase!

      Being one inside “The SCRIPTURE Circles”
      I felt no need to get incensed nor felt incensed about your BF, but I’m just 1 in 1 circle.

      I DO wholeheartedly BELIEVE, along with most posters here, it is morally or spiritually wrong (sinful) AND /OR psychologically challenging or unhealthy to have both a spouse + another romantic/sexual partner
      at the same time.

      30% OUTSIDE of The Scripture Circles
      aka non-christians AGREE With Us Inside ~ ABOUT adultery/cheating/infidelity.

      50+% of US marriages stay Faithful.
      50+% of US adults are Christians.
      80+% of US citizens polled Believe
      “cheating on spouse is always wrong.”

      80-50=30. Yep, approximately 30%
      of NON-Christians also BELIEVE
      “cheating on spouse is always wrong.”

      60+% of cheaters themselves agree it’s wrong

      Maybe marriage is much more than just a legal contract. Maybe that’s why so many feel so strongly when, how, why it ends.

      Well, WOE, I don’t know if you got a satisfactory answer to your question about why you feel guilty, but you got responses.
      Stay Safe Wishes.

      • The reaction to WOE’s situation is fascinating to me because it so perfectly illustrates the difference between religious and secular morality. Religious morality is based on sin, as laid out in scripture. Secular morality is based on inherent harm. As in, it’s wrong to cheat because of the hurt it causes a faithful spouse and to your children by breaking up their intact family. So if you base it on that, there is no harm here and thus no wrong, since she is separated. Her husband has already broken the marriage vows, so they are null and void.
        But if you base it on the notion that certain things are sinful and are therefore wrong no matter what the circumstances are, I can see why you’d feel that way. Thank you for not being unkind to WOE while expressing it, btw. Would that others would follow your example.

        Regarding the stats; since many people don’t consider having a relationship while separated to be infidelity, the stats on views about infidelity aren’t relevant to this situation. I’m sure if you asked those same people if that applies to separated spouses, especially when vows were already broken by the other spouse, the majority answer would reflect the harm-based view rather than sin-based. That being said, a majority held POV can certainly be irrational and is in many cases.

        Anyway, it’s an interesting topic for discussion. Naturally, as a secular person I do think the harm-based view makes more sense, but I don’t have a problem with the sin-based view itself. It’s how eager some people are to aggressively foist it on others that bothers me.

        Have a great holiday D&G. Oh, heck, I’m agnostic, so Merry Christmas. I allow that there might be a savior, so happy birthday to Him if He exists. 🎄

        • OHFFS,
          “Religion” is a huge category, so I’m staying with WOE and responding to
          “Scripture Circles”.
          You perceive a great divide between
          Scriptural Morality & Secular Morality.
          I see some significant harmony.
          “Inherent harm” is certainly a point of total agreement. God nor followers approve of hurting anybody, any family. It’s a command to love. And adultery & deception make the top 10 list.

          Considering USA laws were/are based on Bible, the concepts, principles & some language is familiar. (You yourself used “vows” and “mean-spirited” and “sin”).
          All fine, understandable words.

          The Christian Religion/scripture is
          NOT “based on sin”!!!!! Bible is based on God & His ways, will, love, authority.
          Scriptural Morality IS God-based.

          Secular Morality is based on Relativism, in a nutshell. It’s subjective & fluid instead of absolute & unchanging like scripture.
          I sometimes find secular morality like
          the tail wagging the dog, convoluted,
          a thin layer over nothing much more than personal preference. But not always.

          As you advocated for WOE, I caught your reasoning & followed your logic.
          I understand what you said & why.
          Don’t agree (big surprise), but can & do appreciate your tenacity & consistently.
          HOPE Nobody Feels Silenced Because of your ummm ….passion !

          Poll takers had menu & selected “alway wrong”. That would include separated, but married which is common enough & not unique to WOE. Always” means, well, always. I was a bit surprised at results. You? Think poll results are noteworthy. That’s all.

          Nobody wins or hears or learns or benefits in a hostile environment.
          Unless you’re in training for war zone.
          Hope Nobody Feels Silenced or marginalized by controversial thread!

          Peace.

      • Thank youDogs&Hogs, yes, I did find insight. Mostly I am – not sure which verb to go with here – surprised/shocked/alerted by how much of a threat STBX is perceived to be.’ Hell of a chump’ in on of the first comments gave me a hell of a lot to think about here. Of course on some subconscious level something inside me was screaming but I couldn’t pin it down to what it really was. I am amazed at the level of self deception going on here with me. So am I grateful for that, but struggle to see how divorce is going to get rid of that threat. I actually fear – and someone else on this board has said as much – that he will become completely ‘unhinged’.
        As for the ‘marriage is so much more than a contract ‘ argument – agreed, so much. And you know what- had my daughter not found out I most likely would have stayed. I was getting all depressed at the thought of having to do that but I would have done. Her finding out gave me license to leave. Statistics of who believes what aside – let’s think this through. Say the divorce proceedings get started. Courts are overburdened, the judicial system is chronically underfinanced and understaffed. Your lawyer is slow. Your exes lawyer comes up with all sorts of tricks. Experts will be dragged in to give an opinion on the value of assets because disputes everything. Their statements are contested and they are overworked and slow to come up with a response and on and on and on it goes. In one case I know of it took 5 !!! years to get the divorce through the courts because the husband put up a fight over literally every silver spoon ever owned and the court dutifully followed up on every little thing that was put forward by him. Complicated by the fact that it was a binational marriage with assets in two countries, which mine is too. So my friend should have watched her life go by at the mercy of a pathetic judicial system and a spiteful spouse before she is allowed happiness? The spouse gets to destroy even more of her life and happiness, now with the help of a snail like system that is designed to be slow to move? Seriously? I don’t think so. Of course, I haven’t filed, so not quite there yet. But it really makes no difference to me, That part I don’t feel bad about at all. Really he ended whatever it was we had and whatever claim to my loyalty he had and in hindsight I should not have stayed as long as I did, my child may have been better off that way. I have to live with that now, THAT really worries me, not the BF whilst you are ‘married’. My BF has done SO much for my child already, he literally changed her life for the better and we are both grateful he is in our life. She goes round proudly telling strangers he is her ‘stepfather’. She is so happy to have an adult male in her life that is relatable. No, no regrets from me here, none whatsoever.

        • WOE,
          Gut Feelings are so very valuable.
          All strong emotions are messengers.
          Your letter list 4 reasons you felt guilty. Glad you found info & inside if not
          clear answers here. Lots to sort thru & consider.
          Hope you find all outside help available to address the self-deception. Trance-like state of mind is not conducive to staying alert to worst-case-scenario risks.
          Brain is plastic: Reprogramming possible
          You’ve been thru a lot for a decade. Feel for you. I wish you truth, clarity, peace.

        • WOE, Part 2

          NO, I don’t think divorce will get rid of threat or danger. Nope. NOT. At. All.
          In fact, BADLY TIMED Event {receiving papers, discovering bf, feeling mistreated} Can INCREASE RISK.

          Don’t think you should rush divorce.
          You don’t want to and/or .
          You’re not ready
          H/bf issue isn’t an issue for you
          I think the 🏡 & limbo still feels like
          an anchor vs the unknown which isn’t planned yet.
          Get solid & intimate with yourself.
          You can do do what’s right to do.
          ⭕️🤗

        • FFS all I see is excuses to stay passive. Actually see a lawyer, start being the adult and taking charge, show your ex consequences. Your staying passive is risking parentifying your child at best and puts her in a real dangerous situation at worst. Stop with the denial and grow the fuck up.

          • ☝️ Limbo-living IS passive living.
            Is it “excuses” or pathological denial
            or trauma-based fear? I don’t know.
            Whatever the source, change is needed.
            Quality therapist, 12-step anonymous meetings, group therapy can all be had. I agree that “staying passive is risking” REALITY is needed & the ability to face truths & cope pro-actively. WOE also needs Legal & Financial Facts.
            Maybe I’m completely wrong, but it seems like Keeping the House is of supreme importance: her inheritance, daughter’s desire, etc.
            People DON’T do what they don’t want to do & she doesn’t want to lose house, so she was/is living accordingly. Will she seriously consider divorce unless/until she’s guaranteed house?
            I don’t think so. And if she’s “in love”she is chemically, temporarily altered per Helen Fisher’s research.

            • ☝️The only part of Fisher’s research that is of any value to me is the
              BRAIN under fMRI study results ~
              areas of brain, hormones & neuro-
              chemicals involved with “in love”
              experience.

  • As the chump who used the term “gaslighting”, I want to clarify. The definition can include “an insidious and sometimes covert type of emotional abuse where the bully or abuser makes the target question their judgments and reality”.

    If a parent expects a child to believe conflicting information (my parents are going to stay married) and then asks them to lie (my parent is not dating) that is emotional abuse. If a parent tells a child they are in danger, but doesn’t take steps to protect them, that is emotional abuse. If a parent says we live independently, but doesn’t create boundaries that is emotionally abusive.

    The original poster didn’t indicate the age of her daughter. Is she 12 or 21? What was her relationship with her father before he was “kicked out”? Who advocated for her (child support, college tuition, health insurance) when that separation took place?

    And, of course, none of these behaviors is equivalent to the actions of a parent who has actually been threatening or violent.

    The advice is still the same – get a lawyer and set boundaries.

  • Sorry , this may hit some wrong , but in my mind you are married until the judge says your not. Stay unattached till the gavel drops or you’re also cheating.

  • Sorry , this may hit some wrong , but in my mind you are married until the judge says you’re not. Stay unattached till the gavel drops or you’re also cheating.

    • Many posters probably don’t agree with you about that, but you weren’t a jerk about it so not to worry about pushback.
      Happy holidays, FYF.

  • Cheating on the cheater?

    For a house?
    Because “the marriage was already over?”
    Because the court system is long and arduous?
    Because you’re fine with everything, just the way it is?

    But you feel guilty about something, and you can’t pinpoint what the guilt is about?

    Why on earth are we all here on this site, anyway?

    We’re here because one day we woke up to the fact (maybe it was a surprise, had always been there, or we just gradually realized it) that we did not want to stand up and face the obstacles in front of us. But we did it. And we’re here now.

    And you’re here, too. You recognize that you’re one of us. It seems like a good start.

    Getting up, looking at reality in the face, knowing it’s not as good as the reality of the others in our lives (at least what they’re putting out in appearances) is not easy. It takes courage. It takes fortitude. It takes making one baby step at a time to start changing things. It takes guts.

    You stop what is not working.
    You start going in the direction of what might work.

    My wish for you is that you do start caring about that piece of paper, that legacy you’re leaving to your daughter, and that stuff that is within your control. My wish for you is that you make a life for yourself that gives you a feeling of being on the up and up!

    You can do it.

    Just start with the basics.

    Is it within your control to prevent your husband from killing himself? No.
    Is it within your control to prevent him from stalking you? No.
    Is it within the authorities’ control to prevent him from stalking you? Not easy, as you’re married… you can get a temporary restraining order, but how many times do you want to have to go to court to renew it?
    Is it within your control to get legal help? Yes, but so far it’s just a domestic issue, as you’re married to this guy.
    Is it within your control to not be married to him? Yes, but you might lose your house.
    If you lost your house, is it within your control to get another one, or to pay the bills for you and your daughter? Yes, you said it was.
    If you stayed married to your husband, would you be able to marry your new man? No.
    Would you like to marry your new man? Yes or no. Or maybe.
    Think about your daughter… would you like for her to have a happy marriage, a family and a beautiful life one day? If so, then you can model that to her right now by creating a happy marriage (but not with the cheater,) taking care of your daughter’s needs and celebrating a beautiful life together, all three of you.

    I’m thinking that if you write out some statements of truth, and put those together, you’ll find a good conclusion! Go through Chump Lady’s advice, piece by piece, and write out truth statements for yourself. Then look through the advice of everyone else, trying to find truth for yourself, (whether you like the truth or not) and write out statements. Then look at what you have. And draw some conclusions about what to do.

    You might possibly be amazed! And pleasantly so. And you might possibly begin to feel courage, fortitude and strength to take some baby steps out of the guilt.

    Decide what is your fault and what is not your fault!

    Then take some action.

    It seems that your fears and your shame are little messengers that are calling for action.

    And it’s the same for all of us. Paying attention to those major feelings is always where we find truth. And truth is how we build and create new lives for ourselves.

    I’m sad for you that this happened.
    I’m sad that you’re still facing loss.

    Put all the loss behind you by accepting it, and start creating a life that you’ll love, and build a legacy for your loved ones!

    You can do it.

    We’ve all had to start over, and we’re all in the process of creating new lives, too.

    It gets to be a lot of fun after a while.

    Take the hit and lose the house. You’ll find one you like even more! And the worry of losing it will be over. And the new one will belong just to you!

    We’re cheering you on… even though you don’t like your choices… keep going… keep pressing forward, doing the next right thing in front of you….

    Your life matters. These decisions matter. The other people in your life matter. What you do has ripple effects in the world.

    Prayers for wisdom for you… ♥

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