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Help Me Not Be a Bitch

Dear Chump Lady,

Hi. I’m hoping you’ll be able to provide some guidance because my therapist is at a loss.

My husband cheated, we’ve been in therapy for two years. I feel like he’s a unicorn, he’s done everything right to fix things.

I cannot let go of the anger. I hold grudges by nature and every time he does something that pisses me off, I immediately go to the affair and attach that on top of my anger at the non-related situation. I have two young boys and I don’t want to screw up my family when my husband is making such an effort.

I’m not sure what I’m asking, but I feel like my situation is unique. I never begged him back, I frankly didn’t want him back at first, but I wanted to try for our family.

Can I fix myself and stop being such a fucking bitch? I feel like my therapist doesn’t know what to do with someone like me.

I loved your book. Obviously I didn’t take your advice, but it was exactly what I needed to hear when I first found out about the affair. Thanks for not sugar coating and writing a faith-based bullshit book.


Dear AJ,

Listen to your bitch. Maybe angry AJ is trying to tell you something. Like, you don’t want to be in this relationship and it’s not bringing out your best self.

I’m hoping you’ll be able to provide some guidance because my therapist is at a loss.

What, he’s never met a bitch before?

I’d be curious what has your therapist stymied. Were you supposed to be all healed up by now, infidelity having made Your Marriage Stronger, and you didn’t meet the happiness benchmark? Gosh, you’re not at all like they advertised in those glossy Reconciliation Industrial Complex brochures.

My husband cheated, we’ve been in therapy for two years. I feel like he’s a unicorn, he’s done everything right to fix things.

It’s interesting the way you’ve posed this dilemma in your letter. Your husband is a unicorn, who’s done everything right. You need fixing. You’re a fucking bitch who holds grudges.

Whose narrative is this?

How about your husband was abusive, the couple’s therapy doesn’t seem to be helping, and you’re still healing from this trauma, and it often comes out as anger.

I gotta tell you, as someone who has read hundreds of thousands of these stories, this seems like a pretty classic set up. Your husband cheats and DARVO-Change-o! You’re the villain. The Unforgiving One. The Hard Ass.

Why, no wonder he had to cheat, AJ is such a bitch.

And who’s got a front row seat to that dynamic? Your kids.

Even if he’s bowing and scraping and rending his garments, it comes across as Magnanimous Misunderstood Man versus Irrationally Angry Woman.

I cannot let go of the anger.

Okay. Do you want to stay in a marriage in which you constantly feel angry? It’s your choice. You read my whole book, where I outline the arguments on why reconciliation is a crap shoot with terrible odds, and you put your money down on Unicorn.

Maybe your anger is trying to tell you something. That you cannot live with the cognitive dissonance of betrayal. That no matter how good he is, you can never UN-know that he is capable of a double life. You were snowed. So, you don’t really know if he’s truthful now or he isn’t. Unless you want be the marriage police (please don’t). Hypervigilance isn’t sustainable. So you feel off balance. And the entire clusterfuck pisses you off.

I have two young boys and I don’t want to screw up my family when my husband is making such an effort.

Your husband blew up the marriage when he cheated on you. You’re under no obligation to reconcile with him, regardless of his “effort.” Did you get a post-nup? Does he feel entitled to reconciliation because he goes to therapy? Tell me how sorry he is when the talk turns to divorce. Is he STILL sorry?

Modeling dysfunction to your children (see Patient Good Guy vs. Bitch dynamic above) will screw them up. People divorce because they VALUE marriage and don’t want to live a sham. They VALUE their children and don’t want them to grow up in a high-conflict home.

You aren’t the Bad Guy here, okay? The Quitter vs. Mr. Effort. Again, REFRAME.

I’m not sure what I’m asking, but I feel like my situation is unique.

I assure you, you are not unique. Ask a few million of us how we know.

I never begged him back, I frankly didn’t want him back at first, but I wanted to try for our family.

You can be a family minus that guy who cheated on you. Consider rethinking what “family” is. And if that Intact Traditional Family Status is worth the price of your sanity.

Can I fix myself and stop being such a fucking bitch?

This question just makes me sad. Stop beating yourself up.

I feel like my therapist doesn’t know what to do with someone like me.

Like who? An angry woman who was cheated on? Do only happy, well-adjusted people come to his practice? Have you considered getting another therapist, just for you. Like, someone who has a clue?

I loved your book. Obviously I didn’t take your advice,

And yet here you are, asking me for advice. I’m the bitch whisperer.

Leave, AJ! Leeeeeave! And watch the anger go away when your values and your actions are in alignment.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • This^^^.
      Has your therapist talked about how anger is a secondary emotion? Anger is a defense and there’s always another emotion under the anger: sadness, hopelessness, helplessness. Maybe all three.
      Maybe you hold a grudge, or maybe you’re just seeing your husband for who he really is finally. You may never be able to trust him again, but don’t blame yourself for breaking up your family. He already did that when he stepped outside of your marriage.

      • Anger is OFTEN a secondary emotion, but not always. Every emotion has a job; to signal something we need to pay attention to. Anger’s job is to let us know when something is wrong or unfair, or that we’re under threat.

        There often is sadness, hopelessness and helplessness in addition to the anger, and/or fear.

        When we can only really express the anger, or it keeps coming back, it can be a defense against the other feelings. But sometimes that defense is important; it’s there because we don’t feel safe to deal with the rest; the alarms are still going off, warning of danger.

        AJ, you get to be however angry you are. But you and your kids can be happier without the source of your anger always in your face, acting like the good guy.

        • Thank you KarenE!

          After X exploded my life, and I was voraciously consuming bibliotherapy, I came across this pearl:

          “Anger is often a sign that someone has crossed a boundary.”

          This bit of wisdom changed me forever. It explained a whole lot about my marriage. It helped me focus less on my anger and more on his boundary crossing, which is when I realized he had been gaslighting me into thinking I was emotionally unstable. I bought his bullshit so much that I shut down entirely and spent three solid years as a doormat, aided by self-medicating.

          Thankfully, both X and self-medicating are no longer part of my life. And I’m surprisingly not so very “angry all the time” anymore either. Imagine that.

          People try to snuff out anger – especially in women – as if the feeling is the problem instead of what triggered it. We cause more problems for ourselves with that foolishness.

          Anger is a gift. Use it to guard your boundaries. If someone accuses you of being too angry, they’re probably manipulating you. Turn the focus on them instead.

          • Love this pearl. Very similar to the book The Dance of Anger: Anger is a sign that something needs to change.

      • Without the anger, I couldn’t have done what I did (filing for divorce right away after the pick me dance). People worry me who are not outraged and a banana throwing tyrant (guilty).
        It’s a rocket ship ready to propel you the hell out of there and a huge amount of fuel.
        Use it when it’s available. Anger IS your power at the beginning, and shows how strong you are. Get fucking MAD! You will scare them.

    • My therapist suggested he read parts of, “fighting for your marriage” — to help him learn active listening.

      He didn’t.

      About 4 months of therapy total, and I took back the copy of the book the therapist loaned me. I told therapist wasband didn’t read it.

      Therapist looks at book, looks at me, and says;. “Some books are self-limiting. He didn’t want to do what the book’s title said.”

      Get yourself that therapist.

      The goal isn’t reconciliation. The goal is whatever is most whole.

    • “Find another therapist.”

      This x 1,000,000.

      If this is a marriage therapist, the “client” is The Marriage. His/her job is to help make the marriage continue. A marriage therapist is not necessarily working in your best interests, even if you see the therapist without your husband. Find a therapist for you. Just you. If I had known and done this, I probably would have ended my marriage sooner. I probably would have realized much sooner how emotionally abusive my husband was. The last time I saw the Marriage Therapist he admitted that he thinks the ex has a personality disorder. I think his actions to “save the marriage” were unethical, but that’s another story for another day.

  • I reconciled like you. I couldn’t let go of the anger ( didn’t help that he was still being totally dishonest ). He ended up leaving 4 years later for a different AP (after blowing my retirement fund on his loser business). He said I would never give him the trust he demanded( that was correct since he wasn’t trustworthy). I did not get a post nup the first time. Please don’t be me. Get the post nup and then leave.

    • I got the postnup and got over the anger. Three years later, he cheated again. Even though he would have been financially better off if he had exited the marriage before cheating. It was always going to end this way. Liars lie and cheaters cheat.

      • I’m listening to your words and reminding my future self to walk away when she Hoovers me.
        Thanks for the insight

      • Wouldn’t it be funny if postnups added in some upfront consequences? Like he has to take your last name. Wedding ring is tattooed. Runs his own credit check every 3 months, Not cheater proof, but painful and inconvenient.

        • LOL wives still cheat when they take the husbands name, why would that stop a man from cheating? Besides, I’d rather live in a world where a man taking his wife’s last name is celebrated, not some bizarre form of “punishment”.

          Forcing someone to get a tattoo of any kind is an unacceptable violation of boundaries- end of story. Besides, they can STILL say “I’m separated/divorced and just haven’t gotten it covered/removed yet”

          Credit check? …you don’t think cheaters know how to use cash?

          All of these ideas are so weird, controlling, and way an overreach…like if you feel you need to control someone to keep them from cheating, it’s time to just split up.

      • Ain’t that the truth.
        They only sign a post-nup because they think they won’t get caught again.

    • I am an old crone so take that to mind as you read.

      Mine cheated decades ago. I had no idea about infidelity etc. No idea about the depth of deceit. I was young and IN LOVE with the father, of my children. the LOVE OF MY LIFE who was soooo good and sweet and charming and nice. We went to therapy together. My therapist recommended that he continue and she released me. SHE KNEW. I did not.

      He refused to go to therapy after a few months.

      I didn’t put up a fight. I trusted him because, after all, he was a therapist himself and a member of 12 step groups which are supposed to be based on rigorous honesty….(It is but he found his niche with a group that wasn’t and he fit right in. I was blind to the fact. Trust can do that to you.)

      I forgave him. It felt like such a relief to do that vs exploring my anger, hurt, fear etc.

      I didn’t know this then. Only now, after 4 years and reading here a lot have I pieced together what I did….

      Anyway, I was not allowed to bring up his cheating ever. He would get angry. So I figured it was my fault and I stuffed some more and worked on perfecting my chump personal.

      Fast forward. I now know FULL WELL what a covert passive aggressive narcissist is. He NEVER stopped cheating. He simply went underground.

      At 30+ years together I got the announcement – “I have found my soul mate and the line I love you but am not in love with you”.

      I pick-me danced because all I could find online were RIC sites. Took me two more years to find LACFAL and finally CN.

      I have now been 2 years NC – clean and I see sooooo much more.

      The damage to my grown children is unfathomable. They now know their entire growing up years into their 20’s were spent living under the roof of a slut and man who was living a double life – lying to the people who trusted him the most. How on earth will they ever reconcile that one???

      LEAVE now before any more damage can be done!!!! Your children will know the truth and see it as they grow older and see him blow through one woman after another. They will get the gift of figuring it out by observing his behavior whereas mine didn’t get that opportunity and they are really struggling now. The whole thing has blown what was our family apart – feels like into a million pieces…..and this is because they are older and have to sort out that their lives in the past were about living with a fantasy father who didn’t ever exist.

      Protect yourself. Get your ducks in a row before making your move. Find solid support for you because doing this is brutal but less brutal than staying IMO.

      Good Luck.

      Keep coming back here until it sinks in and then keep coming back to share your story with others in your shoes.

      You make a difference.

      • “They now know their entire growing up years into their 20’s were spent living under the roof of a slut of a man who was living a double life – lying to the people who trusted him the most. How on earth will they ever reconcile that one???”

        They will do it just as we have done, Elderly. One day at a time and with the love, support, and guidance of their sane, honest parent … you.

        Much sage advise in your post … thought I was reading my own story there for a minute.

      • Elderly Chump – There is something different for those of us who left our marriages after decades. On good days, it feels like wisdom. I hope there is enough time to achieve serenity.

        • I have a Frank Costanza ‘SERENITY NOW!!” magnet on my refrigerator……4 months post-divorce after 3 decades of marriage I look at it daily…….and on some days it even brings a smile to my face……small wins

          • There is PLENTY of time to reach serenity and even happiness.
            Of course there are still drops of resentment and anger but they’re very tiny drops.
            Way more laughs, adventures, joy, happiness, new memories and sting bonds. And that doesn’t include a new romantic partner.
            I’m just me, my kids, my grandkids and my dear friends.
            Life is good and the wisdom even better.

          • SerenityNow is my screen name here. Chosen more as a demand/battle cry than for the fact that I have achieved serenity now. I’m still working on that one.

        • IcanseeTuesday,

          I had to smile when I read your words, ‘those of us who left our marriages….’

          Wish I had had the wisdom to leave at the onset. I chased after him trying to convince him of the mistake he was making by leaving for the current OW…..At the time I did not know about his many fuck buddies….That came later.

          So, I was the one left but now know what a supreme gift that was!!!!

          I found LACGAL only after a year or two into all this stuff. All that came up when I googled cheating back then was RIC so I was heavy into pick-me-dancing and wondering why on earth it wasn’t working and why I wasn’t feeling any better…..

          Yeah CN and CL


      • I apologize, and desperately hope I am misunderstanding this, but :

        “They now know their entire growing up years into their 20’s were spent living under the roof of a slut and man who was living a double life”

        … *please* tell me you are not characterizing *yourself* as a *slut* ?

        I feel like I am reading about only one roof that your children lived under, and that they lived there with just you and your husband… which would mean you are assigning yourself a completely undeserved and extremely harsh label…

        I desperately hope I have misunderstood what you wrote!

        • I understood that the word “slut” was being applied to the cheating husband.

        • For some reason I read that as “of a ‘slut of a man’ who was living a double life

        • You did.

          That all referred to him.

          I could have used the word ‘whore’ but whores get paid….sluts do not.

          I read that definition here and it has stuck with me. As I said, I am older and for my generation the word ‘slut’ was always in reference to a female who had sex out of wedlock. Males were allowed to have as much sex as they wanted, in fact, it was considered ‘normal’ and men who were not promiscuous were considered ‘abnormal’.

          I like that I can now call a male a slut so I jump at any chance I get to do it. 🙂

          • I get you but honestly they get paid same as whores. Money, gifts, time stolen from family etc. They are just less honest about it than rank and file whores.

            I know before anyone lectures me on “but they didn’t make a vow to you” Nor did I make a vow to defend or go easy on a whore/slut. Goes both ways.

            • You do realize that people can be promiscuous and ALSO believe that cheating/adultery are wrong? Liking sex with multiple partners does not mean people sleep with “anybody”, or with people already in relationships.

              Also, many people who get sucked into affairs by narcs AREN’T promiscuous- they are very often women with extremely low self worth/self esteem who want a committed relationship, and think they are going to get it with the cheater because he lies to & manipulates THEM as much as he lies to & manipulates his partner.

    • This. Trust your gut. If you are angry, there is a reason. You aren’t angry just because that’s who you are. That’s not a real thing, though it is definitely what my ex told me. I now believe that people are always growing toward something. If you feel stuck and angry, my experience tells me that he’s not moving toward you and becoming a better person. He’s just going more underground and manipulating you to feel like this is your problem to solve.

      • right?? It was sure a convenient story for me ex as well! My therapist has said “You can’t be both the problem in the marriage AND the solution” … if the problem in the marriage is that “I’m so ANGRY all the time” (and, like the OP, I WAS) then the solution is to find out the root cause of the anger… which surprise surprise, WAS NOT ME! Was not MY lack of effort or a character defect, but in fact, HIS lack of effort (except when it came to deceiving me, then he was GD’d Olympic medalist) and character defects.

        • This. 100%. My anger at brining up “his faults” lead directly to the “what you are responsible for” diatribe. Over the next 3 years of attempted RIC, I realized that I was soooo angry all the time and once he moved out, it was like it evaporated. More therapy and more hikes (outside meditation) and I realized that it was never about my failings. Ever. So, fuck that guy (and his unknown numbers of AP).

          The OP needs to highlight and revisit this: “Whose narrative is this?”

          YOU DID NOT CHEAT. YOU TRIED. THE MARRIAGE THAT WAS IS O-V-E-R. Your anger is the self-preservation mechanism that we evolved to run from fucking tigers and hippos. Same as here. Each of us had a liar in our midst; some of us took responsibility for their “wayward” ways. Nope. Nope. Nope.

          For argument’s sake, let’s say you were the biggest bitch in all the land–greasy hair, gnarly teeth, voice to tame the shrew, bat shit lazy, whatever fits that narrative. Let’s say all that shit he says about you is true, then why would he stay? He wouldn’t. The fact is he’s projecting and DARVOing you. You’re the reason “x, y, z”. If only “you’d fix x, y, z”, he would not have needed to cheat, to lie, to be a fucking prick to you. Do you see the fallacy here (words, I’m guessing, in your head that have the sound of his voice)? You can’t control him. You didn’t control him. Your anger is the megaphone of “get out now!!!”. Your kids will be ok–is life gonna suck? Yep. No doubt. I’ve been running triage for decades due to wanting the fantasy and keeping my kids safe. Ha. They saw how he treated me, and believed that if they had been “better kids” he wouldn’t have been such an ass. But now, they (and I) realize, there is NOTHING you can do to fix him. No. Nothing. Not one thing.

          You owe it to yourself to get real. Those angry feelings are the tremors of your soul. It is hard to leave, to have that dream destroyed, to see your hopes for an intact “nuclear” family obliterated. Guess what? It was already gone. HE DID THAT.
          But now, YOU get to decide what it looks like: at the chewy, chocolate center is love and adoration and peace.

          The anger is telling you what you already know. Get out now. Please.

    • #same. I couldn’t get over my anger, turns out that he was still leading a double life but just went to greater lengths to lie, cheat, and fool therapists. Thus, more trauma for me. Listen to your body, your anger, what you believe……it’s telling you something VERY CLEARLY!

  • I just watched a podcast between two doctors, one a psychiatrist. He went into the practice to try to understand why the trauma of his brother committing suicide was so difficult to get over. He talks about how normal his childhood, and young adulthood, were and had no trauma in his life. Then he lost his brother and everything fell apart. That’s what you’re dealing with, trauma. You cannot put a Band-Aid over a sliced artery and expect to stop the blood. Someone is trying to sell you a huge box of Band-Aids and it’s just not working.

  • AJ, I truly believe your bitch feelings are really you gut telling you that he is NOT a unicorn. Trust your gut and not the therapist. Your gut is telling you to get out. Listen to you gut!

    • This. I once cajoled Cheater to a Retreat for marriages in crisis and he said a bunch of the right stuff in the moment and on our way home, I was SO anxious…not the least relieved and happy. My gut was screaming. At the time I thought we were still in an actual marriage but things were SO much worse than I would have ever imagined.

      When we enter Wreckonciliation, many Chumps seem to act like it is a decision that cant be reconsidered. They do some nasty shit, tell some nasty lies and manipulate selfishly when they cheat and it is reasonable that what they did may well have killed your capacity to trust and love them enough to be married.

      This is Consequences for their actions, not a moral failure on your part. It is OK to say “I tried to put what you did behind us but it was simply too big, I cannot return to where we were before and this is unworkable”.

      That evening on the way home from the retreat with the screaming gut…that was about 8 years before I was FW-free. 8 years …gulp. Do you want this?

      • “…it is reasonable that what they did may well have killed your capacity to trust and love them enough to be married.”

        THIS is the bottom line. I stayed and tried to work and accept and trust again. It not only didn’t work (because they are untrustworthy fucks and do it again) but I wasted time and blew some serious brain bucks and lifetime on someone who had already proven his unworthiness in a relationship.

        I too was angry. There was a constant smolder of discomfort and distrust. And he never failed to disappoint. Do you want to wait, like I did, until he admitted in ANOTHER therapist’s office that he had been lying and acting all along? Great. I get a fake life and he gets a fucking Oscar. Get out!

        • “Fake life”
          Such a simple phrase that encompasses so much of what we all experience.
          Who wants that?
          Who deserves that?

        • “…it is reasonable that what they did may well have killed your capacity to trust and love them enough to be married.”

          THIS. This is the reason to leave, even IF the cheating partner IS the unicorn of cheaters. They’ve broken the essential trust that is a backbone of a relationship, and all you need is ONCE, one big enough betrayal (any kind) for it to be gone beyond all recall.

          Without trust you don’t have a relationship- and I don’t just mean ‘romantic’, but friends & family too.

      • “When we enter Wreckonciliation, many Chumps seem to act like it is a decision that cant be reconsidered. They do some nasty shit, tell some nasty lies and manipulate selfishly when they cheat and it is reasonable that what they did may well have killed your capacity to trust and love them enough to be married.

        This is Consequences for their actions, not a moral failure on your part. It is OK to say “I tried to put what you did behind us but it was simply too big, I cannot return to where we were before and this is unworkable”.”


        This is some UnicornNoMore Chump Nation wisdom right here.

        • Adelante NAILED IT. AJ: Some things really are too big to work around. Your husband should understand that anyone would be angry at a LIAR/CHEATER. It takes a LONG time to forget such a trama, maybe never? I lean toward the never. Can you find a trauma therapist? How many times has your husband lied to you? Has he confessed or did you just find out on your own? You are the victim here, not the perpetrator. Just because someone goes to couples therapy to see if they can work things out does not mean that all cases can be worked out. Model good responsible actions for your kids. Read carefully the replies on this site. They are truthful. Many people try to work it out and the spouse uses that time to line their ducks up or in some cases line up another AP. Sometimes the cheater will be cheating during therapy. People with integrity do not cheat. Do you want a spouse with integrity. There is pressure on you to stay because he is trying. He put himself in this situation! Weren’t you trying before you knew he cheated? Of course you were or you would not have gone through two years of couples therapy trying to fix what he messed up. Pat yourself on the back for trying but trauma is a bitch to go through. You are reminded of the trauma constantly. Who put you in that situation? You did not cause this.

          • AJ, he wasn’t a Unicorn when you didn’t know … don’t ever forget that!

          • So true! Mine cheated throughout therapy. However, he told the therapist and myself that he wasn’t only later today admit he never cut ties like he claimed he did. He has proven to you that he can’t be trusted. It’s that simple. We chumps try to turn things on their heads to figure it out…it’s not complicated and that’s the trickiest part of all. He showed you what he thinks of your trust and know you have to look at yourself honestly and decide what to do. Your body and mind is deciding for you…anger. You can’t deny your own self.

              • Hey CinChump, I remember you & your letter to CL. Really hope you & your kiddos are healing up
                and your dentistry is becoming a big success. I suppose you’ve divorced the cruel creep, but he’s still the ultimate hypocrite, right? Still blaming & punishing you in a self aggrandizing way probably.
                Sending marathon strength wishes.

              • Hello RetiredChump! Yes, I divorced him and it was an uphill battle the whole way. I am sooooo much better off and I can finally see things more clearly. I am stronger than I thought I was. Thank you for your words of encouragement. Yes, it’s all my fault and always will be in his eyes. Sending you much strength also as you continue to build a life!

      • “This is Consequences for their actions, not a moral failure on your part.”

        I wish someone had framed it like that for me all those years ago.

        • “ “This is Consequences for their actions, not a moral failure on your part.”

          I wish someone had framed it like that for me all those years ago.”

          With all due kindness, you simply may not have been ready for it to sink in.

          I framed it this way for every woman I knew who had a cheating/lying/addict/etc partner, and I usually got some variation of “but I love him” in return. I don’t know how to help people reach the point of acceptance where they realize that the red flags are not a parade.

      • This is Consequences for their actions, not a moral failure on your part. It is OK to say “I tried to put what you did behind us but it was simply too big, I cannot return to where we were before and this is unworkable”.

        Trust your gut more than you trust him. You can’t UN KNOW what he did. It took me 25 of 32 yrs to finally accept HE alone blew up the family (the one I protected) not him. The adult kids have unfathomable damage from the dad they trusted most. They still grovel towards him wanting to see any goodness.

        Divorced for 6 yrs now and I honestly lost that “sick gut feeling” and the extreme anger I felt towards him. I simply could not hold up his end anymore. HE DID ALL OF THIS, not me. Anger … is how you bust through the lies, deceit, double life etc.

        One more thing …. they don’t change, he knows he Won’t and Can’t!!

    • I never really understood what trusting your gut was before. And my gut was SCREAMING. I agree with this statement. Your gut is telling you something important. Maybe it’s just saying that this isn’t right for you. Maybe it’s say that he’s not really as honest as appears. Either way, it’s important.

  • AJ,

    You didn’t – and won’t – screw up your family for your two boys as your Cheater did that for you all. Regardless of the effort that he is putting in, you need to understand that staying in a relationship for the sake of your children is a mistake; particularly when that relationship is clearly not working for you.

    As CL says, you can be a family minus the Cheater. It sounds like that would be much better for you; and if you are in a better place, your kids will be too.


    • …particularly when for the sake of your children you ought to get out of that marriage!

      • Adelante,

        Absolutely. Our 3 kids and I are in a much better place since Ex-Mrs LFTT left to live her fabulous life with her AP, leaving the 4 of us to lick our wounds, recover and – sadly – realise just how little joy she had brought to our lives.

        She is not missed one bit. When she dropped by in the New Year to drop off her Christmas presents for the kids (because actually having them spend some quality time with her or even take them out for dinner was clearly too much like hard work), they couldn’t get her out of the house fast enough.


    • Yes! You may be sending an unwanted message to your kids: it’s ok to cheat on a spouse because you face little to no consequences. Model strong boundaries for them. That will do them a world of good in the long run.

  • Run. Don’t prolong the inevitable. I too was never my happy self again after the cheating. It was always there, in my mind. He may do it all now but it’ll always be in your mind. He has fucked it up. For the both of you. This may be blunt but I too went to therapy, on my own actually, because he said I wasn’t over his cheating quick enough and it’s having an effect on our relationship. I then eventually actually married the guy. Then found out he’s still cheating with multiple other women and then finally reached the epiphany of “fuck this” after one of my friends kept saying “is this what you want from a relationship” and “is this how you want to be treated for the next 50 years?”. I still haven’t made it to Tuesday yet but some days I’m definitely at least on a Monday ????

    • Same…. I went to therapy alone after he said I couldn’t get over it. The poster in this article is in the same boat. She’s not unique.

  • Seriously find another therapist. One of the major things I learned during my whole ordeal was that there are an astonishing number of bad therapists out there. In fact I’m of the belief that the bad/mediocre ones far outnumber the good ones.

    • It’s always good to remember that 50% of them graduated in the bottom half of their class. That goes for all the stupendously wonderful MDs, too.

      • It’s like the old joke,

        What do they call the person who graduates last in their class from medical school?


    • ???????????????????????? Imo a lot of “therapists” are not helpful and can do lasting damage to chumps.

      Spend the money on the divorce, making a peaceful home (away from cheater), on a great gym membership (cardio, yoga, massage, sauna, new friends), your re-training or retirement or kids’ college funds.

      Leaving will help you be content again. You’ll get time and space away from the abuser (and his advocate, the “therapist”) to allow your adrenaline and cortisol levels to lower. You’ll see how futile and life limiting your situation is now and you’ll never regret it. Ask me how I know. 7 years from Dday, 5 from divorce. 25 year marriage, 4 kids. No contact and happier than I’ve ever been. Run, AJ! Have your own back! You aren’t a bitch! Stop calling yourself names. You don’t deserve that further abuse from yourself.

      • Right on Motherchumper! I spent almost two months in the RIC and found it to be the biggest waste of time and money. First off, the therapist wanted this chump to take part of the blame for him cheating. That was a big no for me. Then I was supposed to take his word that he had given Schmoopie up. Like a liar can be trusted. Also, I was supposed to apologize for “snooping” on his phone and putting limits on text and a locator on said phone. That was when I decided, that I am not serving him kibbles, cake but I will serve him divorce papers. I filed because I was being nice to him and giving him an opportunity to lead the great single life that he wants to lead. That’s not being a bitch, that is called giving him what he wanted. Of course he just wanted the pick me dance but that was cut off. Serving him papers brought me immediate relief from the misery and uneasiness that I felt. It is liberating to know that I started the process toward being free of a FW. Even though I am in the middle of the process, even arguing over assets is not as bad as leading a fake life with a FW. Everything goes through my pit bull attorney and he hates it. Sorry but the FW gets to see what consequences are now.
        AJ, get out of the RIC and stop bemoaning your bitchiness. Once you file, you will find yourself a hell of a lot less angry and your gut will stop screaming. Be an example to your kids and show them bad behavior has consequence and cheating is not acceptable. My 25 year old son is no contact as well after finding pics of his father and Schmoopie in the family shared account. He knows that cheating is wrong and has set boundaries to not allow liars in his life even if they are related.

  • Not a bitch here.
    Divorced after nigh on 40 years.

    This is how chump lady and the sharing all of your stories has helped me.

    It’s a small thing but it’s a mighty thing.

    x = serial cheater, covert narc, sad sausage, poopy diaper face, liar abuser fraud adult toddler

    Over the years I have heard his constant contempt for his successful well educated cousins.
    The well educated cousins I had been lovely to along with their parents.
    The ones who didn’t care about me.

    Just yesterday I received an email from the cousin to x only letting him know that she wants to continue to stay in touch etc.
    Nothing to me.
    Chumpy self said how do I get this forwarded while practicing NC.

    This morning, after a bit of CL, I said “why am I even caring about this person who obviously cares nothing about me let alone trying to get it to x who is a fuckwit?”

    I deleted it and all of the other emails that I had sent out in my kind inclusiveness to said x cousin.
    I do not volunteer to be used and disrespected.

  • AJ,
    While I was still a chump, sparkledick several times out of the blue complained that I did not recognize the “effort” (a key word here) that he made to take care of our family.

    I remember thinking this was so unfair. As if I did nothing. As if it were not his obligation. As if doing one’s obligation demanded constant praise from a partner. (ask me how many special tender presents I ever got from sparkles…)

    I now know he was actively cheating when he complained about not being lauded for his “efforts”. (he was also making a lot a debts for APs).

    I think you are so angry because you know your cheater is still lying. He may not have an AP at this moment, but he is lying about where his heart is and you know it is nowhere near true remorse as Tracy defines it, it is just GNIR.

    Do not forget that divorce is expensive, it always involves financial losses on both sides. It involves having to start doing so many things alone instead of splitting the chores. And I suspect that is what your cheater wants to avoid with his “efforts”.

    This all so sad. Especially when you have children.

  • Those of us who survived divorce will tell you it’s ok; you will too. We too attempted what you are trying to make happen. We tried to make a bad relationship work. Some knew why, some, like myself, had yet to find out.

    Then we divorced and became liberated.

    Maybe it’s like going vegan and feeling healthy* wondering why everyone else is still eating meat. Or maybe it’s driving an electric car and wondering why gas is still an option.*

    No reason you can’t divorce, heal and build a strong new friendship with your husband (assuming he’s a unicorn).

    Jump in. The water’s freezing and swimming across it sucks ass. But when you get to the other side, you’ll be a different, healthier and happier person. And we’re here to help.

    *I am not vegan and do not drive an electric car. Yet. 😉

  • There is something about infidelity trauma which makes “healing” a non-linear process.

    The solemnity of the initial vows, the investment of finances, time and effort, the commitment to children/family members, the position in the workplace and community are all undone by the cheating behavior.

    And that cheating behavior was not brief or thoughtless. It was planned and hidden. It included a co-conspirator who still exists.

    There is no timetable, but the experience of millions is that healing starts with No Contact.

    • I could not agree more. AJ, you have a valid reason to be angry, and anger is a very healthy response to the abuse you suffered.
      You are not the bitch here.

    • Healing from trauma is definitely a non linear process. I have a pic that shows the trauma/recovery process and they are spirals.

      Hopefully you spiral up and out, but you can become stuck or even exit at the bottom into semi perm depression.

      I found it very useful for forgiving myself for my lack of recovery. I was recovering but recycling through everything is normal, just become less and less

    • “And that cheating behavior was not brief or thoughtless. It was planned and hidden…”

    • ICanseeTuesday…..Your assessment of infidlity trauma/infidelity itself is spot on. NC is the BEST self-care aspect of any type of healing and recovery.

    • Very well written.

      It is just like the oft mentioned bomb, it blows everything one held as truth and stability to smithereens.

  • AJ – I want to support what CL focused on: reframing.

    You’re not “holding onto the anger.” You have every right to feel this way – it would be weird if you weren’t! You aren’t intentionally doing this, you are not to blame for fueling that furnace with more and more loads of coal.

    He tossed all you had together into that furnace. And what are you supposed to do, just spit it all back out, charred and crisp and continue huffing and smoking like before?

    I don’t think you can decide to just let it go, especially because you are NOT intentionally holding on. It will either go away with time, diminish or… never really leave you. But you are not to blame for it burning so brightly and intensly. That is a natural reaction.

    You’re not a bitch, you are hurting. Disaster victims don’t beat themselves up for feeling what they do – just like you, they do their best. But they still feel it. You are DOING YOUR BEST already, by trying even though you are hurting this much.

    The question is how long can you go on like this? How much more can you take of this? Because from what I see all the other chumps say, it doesn’t go away.

    I hope things will get better for you soon – that you will make a decision that is best for you and by you and that it will bring you the happiness you deserve.

  • As CL always tells us: “Is this relationship acceptable TO YOU?” From your anger, it sounds like the answer is no. Your dissatisfaction with the marriage can manifest in many ways – anger just one of them. It could have manifested in depression, insomnia, an ulcer, migraines, cancer, etc. There’s lots of signs the body is telling us “this isn’t good for us, get out”. Listen to those signals, don’t ignore them.

    • Another question I started to use: “what is my value?”

      What value do I hold and is this relationship (at least) equal to this value?

      If not…. You have to make a hard decision.

  • I thought my ex was a “unicorn” as well. He did everything right after his affair, went to therapy, was attentive, apologetic, he was everything I wanted, and our marriage was “fixed”! Then 6 months later I see the text to his girlfriend. SOOOO once again he became the wonderful unicorn .

    The last year of my marriage, I was so angry and such a bitch. I knew I needed to leave but he was trying so hard to fix our marriage, I decided to stick it out. I was freaking miserable everyday looking at him. I was determined to stay and hoped I would stop being angry and maybe love him again. THEN I see the next email to her. He hid it for an entire year! I left him and I finally stopped being so angry. Your anger is telling you something, my ex never really tried. I thought it was me, but in reality he was not even attempting to stay faithful. I do not believe in unicorns anymore!!

    • I think when we attempt to ‘fix’ the marriage, and cheater is there every day, looking like they want that, is when they actually go deeper underground. Still contacting APs, still putting on an act. Maybe it re-lights their fire? Such devious people they are.
      So of course there’s anger! Thank goddess for intuition, what a gift that is.

      • Agreed – it becomes a new game for them. Going deeper Underground, making sure you don’t notice, putting on an act for the wider world that you are now a Supercouple. It’s a winning game for the Cheater, who loves the mind games & gaslighting, and only a losing game for the Chump.

        As the 1983 Matthew Broderick movie, War Games, states, “A strange game. The only winning move is not to play.”

      • Omg yes. I was so focused on saving my marriage and family that I believed he had made a mistake as he had always been so pro marriage . I told no one and just gave up even more of me. I didn’t open my eyes or understand infidelity (hadn’t found CL yet).

        He used my shock and shame (which I no longer feel) to go so much deeper underground. Burner phones and secret bank accounts etc (you guys can relate). I was a shell of myself by the time Dday 2 came around 5 years later. A wonderful therapist had me reframe my question of how do I save my marriage to do I want to save my marriage.

        I will never be the same person again and that’s a good thing. I am learning slowly (in my fifties) to prioritize myself.

        I think anger is a healthier response than mine. The anger can propel you to choose what you need.

        Best of luck!

        • HC, Chris and Dee, it took me sooooo loooong to figure out- our values are opposites! I had been with him since he was 19, and I was 22! I didn’t even get it, for all those years. I understand and forgive myself!
          I’m better now, but will always have a sadness about it, and I’m very skeptical about really young marriages, too.

    • Staying for them is their way of not being the ONE that initiated the divorce
      They instead wait for us to not be able to live with them and then WE initiate it.
      Can never be the bad guy.
      I dont mind being the bad guy, good riddance FW
      Got some skiing to do!!!!!

      • “Staying for them is their way of not being the ONE that initiated the divorce
        They instead wait for us to not be able to live with them and then WE initiate it.”

        I absolutely think this is the case most times. I am convincd my fw was trying to treat me so horribly I would kick him out. And he would have succeeded had someone not turned him in to the city counsel for ethics violations.

        I did call him about a week after he confessed he had a whore and tell him he needed to file. (it was better for me if he did) He didn’t like it, but I told him the sooner he filed the sooner it would be over. So he did.

        Of course I would have had to if he didn’t.

      • This. Some of them, in some situations,
        will go to extremes to avoid being seen
        as the “bad guy”.
        Parental alienation is an example of just how invested some are in “winning”.
        Going to therapy without any real remorse or genuine self examination is just covert, passive-aggressive “hiding” the truth tactic.
        Sadism part of the personality disordered isn’t considered/mentioned enough IMO.

  • He’s not really a unicorn doing all the right things if he has so little empathy and contrition for your anger only two years later. If he were really a unicorn, he’d be gentle and patient with you, instead of still doing things that piss you off. It’s just blameshifting to say it’s because you’re a bitch. Women SHOULD be bitchier. Know your worth. Stand up for yourself. That little bitchy inner voice is there to protect you. Don’t let him and the therapist gang up on you.

    You do not have a good marriage dynamic. It’s not you. It’s him.

    I ended reconciliation because I did not enjoy feeling angry all the time. In the peace that came after my cheater was out of the house, I realized that I was mostly living in a state of anger at myself for not doing it sooner.

    • ^^^^ This!
      AJ your anger is telling you that something is “off. “ Feeling like a bitch is a reflection of how your husband and counselor are thinking of you.
      Your husband can give all the examples of what he is doing to make up for the infidelity & you probably agree that he is doing these things when you are in front of the counselor. So he casts himself as “working hard” and you the “bitch” for not being happy. And all 3 of you agree & now the counselor is flummoxed. Geez!
      The problem is, it’s hard to describe what is NOT present in your marriage that does happen in happy, stable marriages. Since you’ve only experienced your husband, the lack of actions that a normally bonding person would show were likely never there from the start. Then he cheated. You can describe the cheating, but you are at a loss to describe the lack of loving, bonding activity.
      If your counselor could be a “fly on the wall in your home day after day, maybe he could recognize it. And if you are only getting couples counseling I’m guessing, based on my experience, that you, and the counselor, are getting gaslighted. It may be subtle, like “look at what I did this week!” and neglecting to tell how he just didn’t feel like keeping an agreement to do a chore or do something with the kids or how he rarely thinks of doing anything without you bringing up the subject. Or it could be overt, like hiding pornography use or other sexual encounters.

      In hindsight, I wish I had thought to protect myself financially when I was in marriage counseling. If your husband were to be asked to separate bank accounts, divide any retirement funds & put half in your name, and make full restitution for any money he spent on the affair, what would his response be? Would your marriage counselor agree to this? If neither of them feel that protecting you financially is part of “doing everything right to fix things” think about that & get a counselor for yourself to help you determine what you need to feel safe. Your husband’s reaction to this request would give you valuable information. It’s kind of like a kid breaking a neighbor’s window with a baseball. I’d be angry until the kid & his parent actually paid for and fixed the window.

      But, on this site, all of us know there are no unicorns. I lived that hope for far too long. I was a “bitch” for 30+ years. Now when I meet an incredibly irritable woman, I immediately think “what is her husband doing that the rest of the world doesn’t know about?”

  • Even if you want to reconcile, your mental health might not allow it. The emotional dissonance of trying to love someone who treats you so unlovingly might just be too much to process. Your reaction to that may be beyond your control just as much as the body’s rejection of an incompatible kidney, or a gag reflex.????????????

    • Yeah, and the hopium we try to swallow are like anti-organ rejection drugs, almost as bad as the organ a transplant patient tries to hold on to.

    • Disgust is primal emotion and we don’t control it. It’s our body’s response to smelling rotting food. It’s not possible, or desirable, to overpower that response.

      • Yup. I beat myself up emotionally for years because it was hard to overcome my disgust when trying to resume sexual relations AFTER WAITING 6 MONTHS for the result of an HIV screening after Dday 2! How ridiculous that I thought that something was wrong with me! I should have jumped out of the marriage like my house was on fire!

  • The X was a master at shiny unicorn costumes. He could pull it on whenever he needed, pretend to be my friend, fight for our relationship with me, like we were fighting an outside entity and not his cheating, lying ass. I fell for it more than once and regret wasting 20 years only for him to find a new shiny object during our 20 year anniversary and just like that, down went the pants! It’s an act. As soon as you’re back on board with the marriage, he’ll go back to his normal behavior.

  • That therapist is part of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. How much is he getting per session to continue this nonsense? Kick him and the cheater to the curb. You can do a whole lot better.

  • Your therapist is using you AJ! You should ask yourself how much have we paid this crazy asshat therapist? When you total up the amount I hope you get just as losses at them as you are at your cheating fucktwit husband. It’s easy to set the narrative of you as the angry bitch and the man who is “trying” (insert eyeroll and sarcastic whiny voice) to keep stringing you along for more $$$. You are paying for their house, car, vacations, etc. of course they “don’t know what to do with you” because you are their cash cow. Find a therapist for ONLY you and see how your narrative changes. I bet you that therapist will be like “Fuck Yeah you should be pissed and an absolute bitch because these asshats are completely taking advantage of you!” Time to pull your bitch boots up to your hips sista! Lawyer up, ditch the couples therapy, get your own therapist and get the fuck out for the sake of your sanity and your kids mental and emotional stability.

  • *Just as pissed at them as you are your cheating fucktwit husband*. (I really despise autocorrect in this new “update”)

  • BITCH stands for Being In Total Control of Herself.

    Your anger is the normal appropriate emotional response to the massive knife stuck in your back, intentionally, deliberately, by the one person on the planet, in the universe, who should have been protective of you, whom you should have been able to trust, who should have been a source of SAFETY. And he enlisted help. Why on earth would that NOT result in deep deep rage?

    I have never in my life experienced the pain and anger that I have felt as a victim of infidelity, and there is NOTHING wrong with those feelings.

    Before it happened to me, I thought it was something that could be overcome. I no longer believe that. It’s an injury too big and it was deliberately inflicted by my spouse and the people he was screwing around with who knew I was his wife.

    Just yesterday I talked with a dear friend who decided to stay. The affair (the one she knows about) was about fifteen years ago. They’ve been in therapy, twice a month, the whole time. Nothing has been overcome. Not by a long shot. When I listen to her, I am glad I am divorced.

    The wounds of infidelity are invisible, and therefore very easy to deny. IMHO, the wounds are in and of themselves fatal.

    • If he had taken a baseball bat, beaten you black and blue and senseless, and then handed the bat off to some woman he was in a secret relationship with to have a go at you, and you were a mass of bruises from head to toe and every bone in your body was broken, would you stay? Well, that’s essentially what they did.

      I have found the invisible wounds and damage of infidelity far more serious, and far more insidious and evil, because they don’t show like
      physical injuries do.

      They inflict maximum damage, pain, and suffering without laying a hand on you. They justify and defend their conduct in the name of love. Bystanders join in and blame the victim, Even the victims blame themselves.

      It’s the perfect crime.

      • And when you react normally to having the life beaten out of you, by your spouse and their accomplices, they use that reaction for proof and further justification and validation of what they did to you. Which exacerbates the anger.

        Vicious circle, indeed.

        • This is the best description of what I have experienced. An invisible injury that feels as painful as the physical one you described. Thank you.

      • My husband did on several occasions leave me with bruises. He also lied and cheated on me with someone I thought was a friend.

        Guess which wounds healed faster? Guess which had less lingering effects?

        I’ve often said that emotional pain is much worse. My husband was very verbally abusive. I remember begging him to please just hit me because it would hurt less than the horrifying things he was saying to me. It took me YEARS to get his voice out of my head. And if you have physical injuries, at least other people can see what happened to you. None of my “friends” had any idea how he treated me. They all sided with him and schmoopie. People believed he left me because I was an angry, ungrateful, cold bitch. They had no clue.

        The trauma of infidelity is real. My therapist validated my anger and my trauma and I can’t begin to describe how much that helped. She said I’d been living in a war zone, and it had taken a toll on me. I was angry and exhausted and sick. I got out. I cut him off completely. Now I am happy, and healthy. I’m excited about life again. I don’t have panic attacks. I can sleep. I can eat. I’m not angry. I’m not afraid. (And frankly I am financially in the best place I’ve ever been in my life – you don’t realize what a drain these entitled people can be on your money.) I too wanted to “keep my family together”. I DID. But my family doesn’t include my cheating husband anymore. My son and I are a family. (Funny thing, too. My husband HATED his family, and forbade me to have contact with them, though I stayed in touch with my sister-in-law in spite of his fury at me. Now that he is gone, my son has GAINED a set of grandparents, two aunts, two uncles, and two cousins, and a great grandma. He likes them, and keeps saying his daddy was wrong to tell him they were terrible people, because they aren’t.)

        • I also tried to get my covert narcissist husband (not the cheater, that was the next guy) to hit me. So the pain would make sense. So the damage was visible. So I could “justify” leaving the abuse.

          I got out eventually. And into the arms of someone I thought was my soulmate, someone that I thought was helping me heal. Instead he deceived me, lied and cheated. After surviving and leaving the bad marriage before I met FW, it was easy to decide to leave the FW. HIS deception broke me. And yes I was angry. I roared, I didn’t sleep. But I knew I couldn’t live with that anger.

          Like Don Henley says in “The Heart of the Matter”: “you keep carrying that anger, it’ll eat you up inside.”

          Leaving the source of the anger, the FW and his betrayal of you and your vow, will help you heal and be whole again. He blew up a bomb in your family. That’s traumatizing. You’re anger isn’t the problem. His betrayal is.

      • “They inflict maximum damage, pain, and suffering without laying a hand on you. They justify and defend their conduct in the name of love. Bystanders join in and blame the victim, Even the victims blame themselves.

        It’s the perfect crime.”


  • I was this person for a while too. But, he did not do everything he needed to do–in fact, he still worked with the OW and wanted to stay her friend…you can guess how that went over with me. I was angry and just could not do any of the loving things that I was “supposed to do” to “win” him back.

    I finally realized that long ago I had decided that cheating was a no go for any relationship for me. I knew that he felt the same way and I resented him for wanting me to stay in a relationship that I know he would have left if I had done the same thing. I just could not move past it to trust or truly love him again.

    Divorce was difficult as we have a special needs adult daughter, but I don’t hate him anymore–and we each have time separate from her, which is nice since she is an adult. I have met a wonderful man and I am married again–something I thought I would NEVER do. Trust your gut and your feelings. This relationship is not working for you. And you deserve better!

  • I was married to an angry bitch who held grudges from DECADES in the past. It was horrible being married to her for 24 years. I didn’t cheat. I am not saying someone would cheat BUT you need to look at yourself. I very much believe a person should look honestly at oneself to fix things that need to be fixed. NO man will want to be with an angry bitch (or woman with an angry man). But if you are holding on to your anger for two years after DDay, it might be a sign to move on. EMDR has helped me with my anger from my FOO issues and the abuse I went thru in my marriage to my XW.

    • I think this response is less helpful than you might have meant it to be. It really reeks of DARVO, and reinforces the false narrative that the OP has no right to be “an angry bitch” when in fact, she has EVERY.RIGHT. Being an “angry bitch” is an appropriate response to trauma, particularly that which is unresolved BY HER SPOUSE and very likely on going.

      • I am many years out from DDay and since remarried. My XW tried the DRAVO technique with me. A friend gave me good advise on how to improve myself after my divorce. I honestly looked at myself and worked on my issues. My now wife was an “angry bitch” who tried reconciliation. She regrets not just divorcing her cheating ex husband. He tired of it after 5 years and left her for another woman. She has regrets of loosing 5 years in reconciliation. If stay angry you should just divorce.

  • This letter from AJ sums up what happens when you try to make it work after your spouse cheats. The vast majority of us here wanted to try and make it work. (If you had more than 1 DDay then you originally tried to make it work).
    In my opinion you can’t. You cannot undo it in your mind. I think you can “not divorce “ but you will never be able to stay married. It will eat away at you, it’s worse than the pain of a divorce.

    • Not to judge but you shouldn’t put this out there in this manner….because it’s a common DARVO tactic (Deny the behavior, Attack the individual for confronting the bad behavior, Reverse the role of Victim and Offender). AJ definitely has a right to be pissed and be a bitch just as you were mad at your abuser. Typically, victims hold grudges bc the abuser is not genuinely remorseful and continues the BS abuse but in a more discrete manner so the gaslighting and mental abuse is that much more damaging. AJ, listen to your gut! Be pissed and get the hell out because I bet you money there is a lot more going on that you’ve put in your letter.

  • My cheater did everything right too. The only way you will ever release the anger is by divorcing him.

    He can be a wonderful person. That does not fix anything.

    It literally does not even matter who broke the marriage. The only thing that matters is that it is forever broken.

    You can want the best for him going forward. What you can’t do is fix the marriage. There is literally nothing you can do to fix what he did. The marriage is dead. It’s not your fault.

    Be friends with your ex if he is such a unicorn that he truly respects you and bends over backwards to help you and the kids during the divorce proceedings. Your marriage is over.

    You will regret wasting more of your precious life pretending.

    You are both adults. You can’t live a lie.

    Marriage counseling does not even begin to touch the reality of what infidelity actually is. Marriage counseling after infidelity is like pulling a fish out of a lake and beating it until it learns how to breathe air. Ask us all how we know. All of us.

    Have you and you “marriage counselor” asked your husband what he would do if you pursued a stranger and fucked him secretly for months behind his back? Your bullshit marriage counselor will claim that that question only muddies things. That it is an irrelevant question. That it is the question itself that is making you angry, not the fact that the one person you trusted more than anyone on earth destroyed you. That right there is all you need to know. That is proof marriage counseling after infidelity is, by definition, a huge scam.

    Stop retraumatizing yourself by gaslighting yourself. It makes everything so much worse.

  • Forgiveness is overrated. Wish I could be more erudite, but sometimes there isn’t much else to day.

  • The only thing that got rid of my anger was getting rid of the husband.

    My therapist validated my anger, saying I had every right to be angry at my lying, cheating, abusive husband. I had PTSD from years of abuse.

    I finally went no contact (just kid/money conversations via email), and started to heal.

    There is peace and happiness and contentment waiting for you. I wasted 3 1/2 years trying to reconcile. I wish I’d walked away the moment I suspected his infidelity with a coworker.

    My son is FAR happier and more well-adjusted now that I’m not a mess. In my case, my stbx killed himself when his schmoopie left him before he was done with her (she left him because he was abuse to her…go figure – she had thought I was the villain who was ruining her life and she found out that it wasn’t me and my “anger” or lack of appreciation or whatever). You’d think the trauma of losing a parent to suicide would be worse for a kid than being in the middle of a high-conflict divorce, but my kid almost seemed relieved. He’d only just turned 9. He didn’t even seem surprised. There was a point where he had so much anxiety we hospitalized him for suicidal ideation. That house (his dad’s, with GF) was a bad environment. Once the OW moved out, my son had to deal with an angry, narcissistic man who no longer had a target (because OW was gone and I wouldn’t engage with him). I say all this to put your mind at ease that leaving isn’t going to fuck up your kids. But staying might. Kids can read emotions, even if you’re careful not to say anything directly. You and your kids can be a complete family.

    I agree with several of the above comments – your gut is telling you something isn’t right. You don’t believe your husband. As someone who got hoodwinked for a long time, TRUST YOUR GUT. Mine was SCREAMING at me that he was cheating, though he denied it and I found all kinds of reasons why he “couldn’t” be (when did he have time?). I was right all along. Down to details and timelines. I got called crazy for suspecting him, but I wasn’t crazy, I was right. If you’re angry now, how much angrier will you be when you discover he’s been lying?

    Get your ducks in a row and get out. You deserve so much better than a marriage that causes you pain, distress, and anger (justified) because your HUSBAND made some terrible choices. The problem is not you.

    • “Once the OW moved out, my son had to deal with an angry, narcissistic man who no longer had a target (because OW was gone and I wouldn’t engage with him)”

      I’ve been divorced for 6 years. My son is 17 now. XAss moved the AP in with her teen daughter about 8 months after I left. She lasted barely a year before she bailed. My son and I have a great relationship. But he doesn’t talk about his father and his relationship with me at all. I don’t ask. The above quote was my biggest concern for my son. And one I could nothing about. It was especially tough as X and I live several hundred miles from each other and we had split custody 50/50, 6 months with me, 6 with him. Kid is now with me totally for the duration until he graduates (and I’m betting I will be “home base” after he’s launched to college next fall.)

      But I wonder how much shit my son had / has to swallow. That his empathic (please God don’t be co-dependent like I was) nature encourages him to smooth the waters and made Dad happy. I know when I left, and then after AP left, that the kid was doing my part in the taking care of everything.

      That said, kid absolutely sees how much better of a person I am now. Calmer, happier, and we don’t live in constant drama and chaos (that the X always accused me of – PROJECTION!)
      I hope one day he will talk to me about it.

  • This to the bone anger and trying to fight it, push it away! Ravishes your physical health, causes so many maladies. It’s like the anger has to explode outward somewhere. How do I know? Myself and so many others will attest to miracle cure, when you start divorce.

  • I think of reconciling like Pet Sematary, where you just cannot face the loss and bury the dead thing and what comes back is a travesty of nature.

    Or Game of Thrones, when the witch brings back Khal Drogo, and he’s a vegetable with a thousand-yard stare, flies buzzing around.

    Therapy after cheating is like calling the fire department after the house has burned to the ground. IMHO.

    • Reminds me of the tale of the Monkeys paw – A week after the funeral, Mrs. White, furious with grief, insists that her husband use the magical wish paw to wish their son Herbert back to life. Reluctantly, he does so, despite great unease at the thought of summoning his son’s. An hour or so later—the cemetery being two miles away—there is a knock at the door. As Mrs. White fumbles at the locks in a desperate attempt to open the door, Mr. White becomes terrified and fears “the thing outside” is not the son he loved. He makes his third and final wish, that the knocking would stop. It stops. Suddenly, he and Mrs. White open the door to find that no one is there.

    • Love those metaphors.

      Here’s another one:
      If someone blows up your house to smithereens, do you go around finding every tiny piece to glue them back together or do you build a new one? Then once you’re done rebuilding, do you invite the person who blew up your old house to live with you?

  • Hi everyone, I’m AJ. Thank you all for taking the time to provide your experiences and advice. You are all right about my gut – I think the anger I feel is me just trying to fight how I feel on the inside. I just really struggle with how a divorce will impact my boys – and it incites such anger towards my husband.

    • I was angry for a while afterward too, AJ. But that anger was redirected to first productivity in getting myself out and then in time into building my life back up free of living in that mindfuck and parenting my daughter single-handedly like a champ. Now six years out, I am very close to the nothingness or “meh” that people talk about here toward him. I knew that if I stayed, I would be always be twisted up and angry at him. I knew it would ooze out and our daughter would know. God forbid my guard was ever down and I allowed myself to have another child with him. All of that was not OK in the least. Make sure you use your anger to help yourself get out and get what you need for yourself and your kids, and then when you are clear do what you can *for yourself* to channel away from you that which is no longer serving you.

    • Just think of it this way – what do you want your boys to learn about being a man? How to treat a woman? What lessons are they learning by you staying in a marriage where you were fundamentally disrespected?

      I remember listening to the Dixie Chicks song “Sleep at Night”, which is about a husband cheating on his wife with a married woman, and she’s says “it’s so insane that I have to laugh. But then I think about our two boys trying to become men – there’s nothing funny about that” and thinking, how true. What lessons are our children getting from our actions, the cheaters and those of us who stay and put up with that?

      Food for thought.

      I can say with a fair amount of confidence – your kids will be okay. As my custody evaluator said to me, it’s better for kids to have divorced parents than to live in a toxic environment. Your boys deserve a happy mom. And you deserve to live without anger and resentment. I don’t think that will happen in your current situation.

    • ANGER is a top layer of emotion. Underneath is PAIN FEAR FRUSTRATION.

      Infidelity certainly deals out the devil’s helping of all three.

      Plus, when you fight back, protect yourself, and respond accurately emotionally, it can and will be used against you to prove you are crazy, mean, whatever they said about you to others. Which only stokes the anger.

      What I had was not a marriage but a MIRAGE.

      Who he was was a story I told myself. That version of him only existed in my mind. I didn’t have that and that means no one else does either.

      Who he is is not what I want. What I want in a relationship…trust, safety, loyalty, partnership….I thought I had those things and found out in a very painful way that I did not. No one he is with has that either. Without at least those elements, there is no healthy relationship. There is nothing worth having.

      You can’t build a Ferrari out of junkyard auto parts. And you can have a Ferrari, or whatever your dream car is. But you will never have it unless you leave the junkyard.

      Most of all, I do not want my daughter to be a cheater, to be a secret side piece, to accept cheating from a future partner.

      She will be fifteen in about a week. He left when she was ten. He left town to move in with a cockroach he found in Casual Encounters on Craigslist. He became a ghost overnight in his own daughter’s life. He destroyed her bird’s nest and almost killed the mother bird. The father bird is supposed to protect and strengthen and assist.

      The other day she and I were driving and she said she had something to tell me. In class, the teacher asked the kids who their influencers were, who they looked up to. She said, “My mom.” He asked why. She said, “Because she’s a good mom and I trust her.” He asked if I was her friend. She said, “No, she’s my mom. A friend is a different kind of relationship.” (Therapy family here). I said, “ I’m the only mom you’ve ever had. How do you know I’m a good mom?” She said, “Mom, I know when food is too salty even if I haven’t eaten everything there is to eat.”

      That is the highest compliment I have ever received in my entire life. I am 58.

      I wanted her to have two parents she could say that about. But I can’t begin to express how grateful I am that if she can only say it about one of us, that it’s me.

      That’s how you want your children to feel, IMHO.

      • “Mom, I know when food is too salty even if I haven’t eaten everything there is to eat.”

        Wise beyond her years and clever with her words, just like her mom.

        You done good, VH!

      • OMG – I’m verklempt! I would dissolve into tears if my son ever said anything like that to me.

        • I did. And after four years, what she said, that conversation, put the whole cheating thing into perspective.

          “They” didn’t win. They crapped on and threw away the greatest and best gift you can have in this life…the warranted respect and trust and loyalty of your spouse, your children….

          • Isn’t that the best feeling in the world? Knowing that you child loves and trusts you so much shows that they have values and they understand the love between you. I nearly broke down when my son told me that he never wanted to see his father again. I told him but he is your father….. he simply responded “I don’t have any respect or him because he is a liar and I am not having a liar being a part of my life”. The kid is 25 but has set his boundaries very well. I am proud of him.
            Velvet, your daughter shows a maturity for someone so young. You are a devoted parent!

          • This is so deeply affecting. My dad wasn’t a cheater, as far as I know, but I don’t really trust either of them. My dad for being the selfish, take-what-he-can, exploit-my-mom-a-bit-ha-ha, kind, and my mother for getting angry when I’d bring up the shit sandwich she kept eating. She taught me it was the ultimate in arrogance to think I deserved better than what she kept choosing and telling herself and us was okay.

            I wish wish wish I could say to my mom what your daughter said to you. I love my mom a lot, and my dad too, but I so wish that that feeling came with knowing I could trust them, rely on them to do the right thing and not the easy thing, to stand up for vulnerable people (including their own children) when it matters.

            I don’t think all kids who grow up not quite trusting their own parents even have the language to express that, if they don’t have a sane parent who models the difficult decisions and what it looks like to stand in one’s own integrity even when others call you a downer, a party pooper, “not fun,” a bitch, whiny, or “mean.” It took me decades, and all kinds of failed therapy (you mean that feeling I have with this shitty therapist is the very mistrust I’m supposed to identify and honour? no, no, no, says therapist, it’s all your *anger*), to get to the point where I’m now exploring the sad, deep, nameless feelings that a child gets when their parents, whom they are forced to listen to and heed, are scared enablers or childish liars.

            Velvet, good for you. Thanks for sharing what it looks like when a parental relationship (which is NOT the same thing as a friend) teaches boundaries, integrity and love.

    • AJ, take care of yourself (your health, your finances) and your boys will be just fine, better than fine, they will be secure. Just like on an airplane going down— put your mask on first. The trauma has clouded your thinking. This situation is not healthy for them.

      I’ve been divorced 5 years after 2 years between Dday and finalizing it. I’m mostly no contact but when I speak of X with kids, I’m at peace. There are good memories – I was invested and real- that doesn’t change. The kids are happy and ok. I never wanted X to cheat but he did. That’s reality, no do-overs.

      Get out of that futile marriage counseling. File for divorce. Put your focus on taking WAY better care of yourself. The boys will thrive.

      • AJ,
        I can almost feel your worry about your boys right through the internet.
        I totally empathize. It’s scary.

        I’m 10 years out and my “boys” are now men. They are amazing.

        I was totally honest with them from the day I knew the marriage was over. First thing I did was get them into therapy. Therapy didn’t last long!

        They were raised with my strong values and what they thought were their father’s. As soon as they heard about the affair, that was it. Their trust was forever broken. They healed quite fast because their world as kids was much more black and white.

        Years later, they have a cordial relationship with their father. A few texts, a few dinners. Nothing deep or important is ever discussed. Zero respect for him as a man or father. Just a guy with the title of father.

        On the other hand, my sons and I are bonded for life. They are best friends because they share this bond of surviving the loss of the man they thought they knew and loved. I am the one they can count on no matter what. I am the one who always showed up and could be counted on. It’s funny that post-divorce we all realized how little he actually showed up; we just always thought he had.

        One son is now married and another one planning a wedding. They are totally committed to the women they love. They know the hard work it takes and have zero tolerance for cheating. When they take vows, they aren’t just words to children of a cheater.

        There are definitely more pluses for your sons to see you model resilience. Mine watched me fight and struggle to get back on my feet – I did the hard work to gain a life. I cannot tell you how they respect me for that. Ours is a bond everyone admires. Who would have thought?

    • AJ, I’ll tell you what my lawyer told me when I went in for a consult after DDay 1: “what are you going to do when it happens again?”

    • AJ your feelings of anger are a normal reaction to abuse. What is not normal the RIC forgive and focus inwardly mantra. I hope you save yourself and get away from this c#nt.

  • For months I was distraught, upside down, and internally fuming after I found out about the prostitutes. I couldn’t take it anymore and realized what I needed to do. My ex straight up told our daughter that *I* couldn’t forgive him after he “danced with other ladies” (gross and unnecessary euphemism for a pre-school aged child, UGH). This will be the narrative one way or the other. I chose to get out and teach my daughter what is not acceptable behavior from the people who supposedly love you.

  • “The bitch whisperer”, made me spit out my coffee! AJ I also became the evil, crazy bitch wife of my “victim”
    ex’s story. He cheated, lived a double life, wouldn’t gtfo out of the house and I became angry- shocking. These cheater types are really good liars maybe your husband is still cheating and hiding his methods better, or maybe he’s abusive in other ways? I remember after one d-day I started on a journey of minimalism. I got rid of so much stuff and still wasn’t happy, until I realized it was my husband I wanted gone. It’s kind of funny but it took getting all the distractions away for me to realize why I wasn’t happy. Honestly in my case it shouldn’t have taken a journey of attempted minimalism to figure out. But what whatever your journey is take look at it from all angles, there is a problem otherwise you wouldn’t be so angry. And it likely your unicorn may not be a unicorn or you just don’t trust that he is. Either way it sounds like it’s not a good situation for you.

    • Ok, this should be a CL cartoon – a totally empty house, and Longtime looking around, seeing the Cheater in the corner, and figuring out his Cheater ass needs to go in the dumpster, too!

      The Cheater needs to be “Marie Kondo-ed”!! “Does this bring me joy? No! Out it goes!!”


      • The cheater did not “spark joy”. He had to go! I can see the cartoon. ????

    • Excellent! “I emptied my whole house except that sparkly turd in the corner, yet the shit smell is still not gone… well, here goes nothing!”. Out with the turd, open the windows wide!

  • I know this is going to sound harsh……

    I think part of thinking you have a unicorn is believing YOU ARE A UNICORN.

    You are special and worth it and the cheater is damned lucky to have you and you didn’t do any of the things maybe other people did and blah blah blah.

    You are great, he forgot, he chose you, you are the unicorn!!!!

    The problem with that is deep down you know you were always great and that didn’t stop the cheater. And deep down you want to be special, you want him to be special, you want you situation to be special……and CLs book and this site make it hard to keep believing that.

    1 year before DDay I confronted my ex about how he had been to previous 6 months and told him it had to stop. The physical affair had not started by I know now they were crossing into an EA and he was infatuated.

    He agreed he had been checked out and aloof and promised me he would do anything to fix it. I went to MC with him, set up appointments to see if he had some physical issues making him feel bad, etc.

    One year later, the most unexpected harshest discard – during which he told me he never got over the fact I was willing to leave him if things didn’t change and how he resented that…..

    • “he never got over the fact I was willing to leave him if things didn’t change and how he resented that…..”

      Love how cheaters twist everything. He never got over the fact you took issue with HIS inappropriate behavior and disrespect to the marriage. If it wasn’t so awful to go through it would be hysterically funny on how the cheater’s brain operates with absurd justifications. Just crazy.

    • It always comes back to the chump, doesn’t it?

      “If only you REALLY understood what is/was going on with me . . .”
      “If only you weren’t so judgemental and closed-minded . . .”
      “If only you hadn’t been so suspicious/insecure/nosy . . .”
      “If only you hadn’t made me resent you . . .”
      “If only you hadn’t kept me from being the real me . . .”
      “If only you were able to acknowledge your own flaws and didn’t purport to be perfect . . .”
      “If only you truly appreciated me . . .”

      • Hey UX were you in my house
        With Lundy Bancroft recording my life for the last 10 years of my marriage? That would be downright spooky if I didn’t know that all cheaters/abusers are drearily predictable.

      • Yup. “If only *you* hadn’t/weren’t so XYZ, I wouldn’t have made a mistake like that. So, we agree that this is and always was your fault, right Chump?”

  • Trust your gut! Your anger is telling you something. This is not acceptable to you. Whatever the reason.

    Your FW is doing all the right things? I don’t know. The minimum that was required from him in a marriage is to NOT fuck strange and he wasn’t even able to do that. The right thing would for him be to say “My bad, I hurt you and I obviously need to work on myself. Let me move out and doing just this on my own time. I will file for divorce and make sure you and the boys are OK.” That what the right thing is. So yes get angry.

    You’re not a bitch, and even if you are, you have a right to not live angry. This is obviously not acceptable to you, and if your FW won’t do the right thing, you can. Get a divorce move on. Your anger will magically go away.

  • I took my H back after his cheating too. He was very good at scotch-taping a horn to his head and calling himself a unicorn.

    Your FW is exactly where he wants to be: in a situation where he can present himself as the poor good guy who “just made one mistake and said he was sorry, darn it” and his wife as the untrusting shrew. What a comfortable place to be. He gets to be a hero and you get to be the bad guy. No one will fault him, then, when he does it again.

    Ask a million of us how we know. We took back unicorns too. Our situations were unique too. I know mine was.

    That’s the thing about unicorns: they don’t exist.

  • Mine would angle to make me feel guilty when I did this. Then he dumped me on Dday #2 and REALLY worked to make me feel guilty (for his actions) but included the whole world this time instead of just himself. Like “Look at you, you’re such a shew, what is everyone going to think?” Also, “You’re ruining things for me, I have such a good thing with Shmoopie.” Like I was supposed to care. Get out of this nightmare now, he will only up his game. People who pity ploy and yank out the guilt card are despicable losers, and you don’t need to start doubting yorself and what your gut is telling you what you KNOW to be true right now.

  • This is meeeeee. Right now. It was as if I am reading my own thoughts.
    He cheated over 2 years ago. We went to therapy. He did every single thing I asked him to do to fix us. He was an amazing dad and husband prior to the cheating, and he was great after. I think I have a unicorn.
    My feeling is this: if you choose the path of reconciliation, like we did, and they are doing everything right, you have chosen the path of eating the shit sandwich. If you want to stay together, you have to get over it and let it go, or get divorced. If you’ve decided that reconciliation is your path forward, then you need to do your own work of forgiving and moving on from it. You can’t keep reminding him forever of what a shit he was, otherwise you can’t stay together.

    • Phoenix …. Gently….IMO, a husband and father who deceived and breaks marriage vows and puts his dick and tongue in strange pussy, ass, mouths, steals time and money, risks health and stability of his unsuspecting wife and vulnerable children is the FARTHEST thing from my definition of “ an amazing dad and husband prior to the cheating, and he was great after. . . “. A person either has integrity or they don’t.

      • I’m a believer that sometimes a person can fuck up and still reform. I should be transparent here: in the very early days of our marriage, I met up with an ex and slept with him one time. It was horrible and I never should have done it. I never told my husband about it, and it never happened again, with the ex or anyone else. We were happily married for 15 years, and then he was the one that fucked up. I guess I got my karma.
        I know that people can change, because I did. I understand that this is not the forum to discuss this though, and I agree that it’s also very rare that someone can truly change afterward.

          • Whatever I say, it’s going to sound like a lame excuse, but here goes:
            The ex was a guy that I had always loved, but he never quite felt the same way about me. He wasn’t a cheater, just a commitophobe.
            When I met my husband, I moved on, but it was kind of reluctantly. We got married and moved away, and I was happy. Then my husband became a medical resident and he was busy all the time, gone, with new friends etc, and I was bored and lonely. The ex suddenly moved to where I was and took a new job, contacted me, told me he made a mistake, yada yada, and I met up with him. We had one night together and it sucked because I knew it was wrong the whole time.
            It was wrong and it felt wrong. It was the only time I cheated, and I’ve never done it again.
            I’m about to be murdered here, aren’t I!

            • Nope. Thank you for answering.

              A childhood friend is at a crossroad in her abusive marriage. I’ve never liked her husband or the way he treats her and I wonder if he’s a cheater. She’s pretty fed up but was raised to be a codependent-narc mother, alcoholic father, Catholic then born again Christian, youngest child/only daughter in a very sexist and male chauvinist household. I was floored when she entertained the idea of having an affair. I suggested a divorce from Mr. Moody Pissy Pants.

            • This illustrates the difference between a one-off ONS and serial cheating or long term affairs.
              It sounds like you had baggage and unfinished business with that ex and you tried to resolve it with sex. Perhaps it was wanting him to love you as you had loved him so you could get over the rejection. But you knew it wouldn’t work even as you were doing it, but instead of fleeing, as you should have done, you froze. I’d consider it forgivable if my ex had done that, if he confessed immediately with no blame-shifting or minimizing, was truly remorseful and empathized with my pain. But of course, that’s not how it was. I suspect the type of cheating you did represents the minority of cheaters and that the majority are character deficient types who do not care about others and will cheat again.

              Long term affairs or serial cheating represent a planned, deliberate and sadistic assault. No matter how sorry they claim to be, you know that can’t be true, because you know the supposed unicorn got off on doing things which wounded you and violated your rights. He/she was doing it for months or years and was not sorry one iota, or he/she would have stopped and confessed, not kept on lying and abusing your trust. So you know you will never be safe with that person again.

              I do believe *some* people change, but people who are so degenerate as to cheat and lie and gloat and smirk about it behind your back certainly will not. So if your spouse, like you, had a one-off that was confessed immediately, you could trust him again, if he is doing his part.

              You deserve praise for facing and fixing your shitty coping mechanisms instead of running away and blaming others like our cheaters did. So no murder here.

              • I agree.

                “Perhaps it was wanting him to love you as you had loved him so you could get over the rejection. ”

                Though I never cheated, I did after we were legally separated, let the fw come back home. I knew in my heart when I did it, it likely was not a good idea; but I was so desperate to believe that the lying sack of shit did have feelings for me, I allowed it.

                Of course there was sex, and quite frankly it was horrible for me, I felt nothing physically or emotionally. That reconciliation lasted less than a week. I kicked him out. Maybe that was the silver lining, I got to kick him out. But it was a huge error on my part. He was only using me anyway.

    • @Phoenix
      I bet it is NOT HER reminding HIM forever of what a shit he was. I bet it is her gut reminding HER of what a shit he IS. What he did is who he IS now and forever. An alcoholic is a lifetime alcoholic whether he takes another drink or not. He may not be an abusive adulterer anymore, but he is an adulterer. She can realize that anger will try to get her out of the shit he does/did/will do. It is still shit whichever verb you chose.

      • Human beings fuck up. No one is perfect. What matters is how you learn from the mistake, and how you make changes afterward. Not everyone is a serial adulterer.
        My point to her is if you take the path of reconciliation, you can’t throw it back at them forever- at some point, you have to accept that it’s part of your story together, and stop reliving it over and over. It’s damaging to the relationship you are trying to rebuild. If you’re anger is so great after more than 2 years that you can’t stop it, then you should break up. I’m not advocating staying with a cheater.
        My husband has PTSD from the whole experience, because he lost his career and reputation as a part of his affair- the AP was very angry that it ended, and she went into full on destructor mode. I think my hatred is really more aimed at her, for taking our life down when she could have just walked away.

          • Yes, it was his choice to cheat, and suffer the consequences. Unfortunately, her desire to destroy him ruined his career as a well loved and respected physician. She also contacted the licensing board. His affair had nothing to do with his work, so I think it was kind of shitty of her to do that, but whatevs. I guess that she had met up with him there a couple times, so her intention was to sue the hospital and him for something? It didn’t work out for her, and she just went on with her life- but it was devastating to us.
            He knows there is zero tolerance for anything like this happening again- it would destroy my respect for him. He gave me another chance, I gave him another chance. We are even.

            • Sorry, but if he had a LTA, including the unethical act of bringing his schmoopie to his workplace for sex, it is not comparable to the one-off you had, and you cannot trust him. You felt bad. He didn’t, or he would have stopped. He doesn’t have PTSD, he is playing sad sausage. You don’t develop PTSD from getting your just deserts. He behaved unethically and he is paying for it, as well he should. That is not trauma.

              You will realize the truth of this someday, because he will prove it to you.
              But I suspect you’ll have to learn it the hard way.

    • OK, to each his/her own. You can either trust your screaming gut and the millions of chumps who have tried reconciliation with a cheater only to get fucked over again years later, OR trust your lying cheating unicorn. You already know who he is because he showed you. “But people can change!”. Sure, that’s what therapy is for, individual therapy. And it takes a lot of painful work, it takes many years to make actual progress and change internally as a person. Do you want to stay and wait for it to happen? The type of people it takes to lie to their partner and actively cheat on them is not the type of people that succeed in therapy in general, if they even bother going. I’d say look at the odds, listen to your gut and decide what’s best for YOU. Because you are the core of your family and you can only control and change you.

      • One more thing I’d like to add: one very important role a parent has is to teach their kids what healthy boundaries are. It is at least as important as putting food on the table, taking them to pediatrician appointments, buying and washing their clothes, taking them to school and helping them with their homework. Think about that when you are deciding between reconciliation and divorce. You cannot stay with someone who consistently disregards your boundaries “for the children”. It just doesn’t make sense.

      • EXACTLY. My ex told me for 10 years he was working on his issues in his own therapy, but somehow could never verbalize even ONE thing that he learned there that would help our marriage, provide me a sense of safety after repeated betrayal, anything. Not even when he told me he was experiencing suicidal ideation… when I pushed, he admitted that he didn’t even have a safety plan for suicide attempt with his therapist. Many betrayals later, he finally admitted he had been lying to his counselor the WHOLE TIME. At least I wasn’t special; he lies to everyone. NOT A UNICORN.

    • “I think I have a unicorn”

      I respect your honesty. To admit that you cheated on him first in this forum takes guts.

      But – he can’t be a unicorn if you cheated on him first. Would he have had an affair if you hadn’t cheated? How differently would you have felt about his affair if you hadn’t already done the same? Or more importantly, you would have NEVER done the same to him?

      I’m sure two cheaters can stay together and compartmentalize their betrayals of each other. For the type of people who would never cheat, our emotional inner structure just doesn’t work like that.

  • AJ, my ex was also a unicorn who “did everything right” and I was the “bitch” after his affairs came to light. Turns out my wiser self was screaming out to the part of me that wanted to protect my intact family at all costs. The trauma of infidelity is real, and they need to deal with what the consequences of the pain they caused if they really are a unicorn. Don’t get me started on therapists who blame the victim for reacting to abuse…..

    Funny story, my “unicorn” ex left me and and my preteen kids by a group text “I won’t be living with you anymore” as soon as he could get his AP to this country, about 2 years into wreckonciliation. Total surprise. But surprisingly much much easier to take than the d-days. I almost felt relief that the marriage was over. I did not miss him. It’s taken 5 years to heal from the trauma of infidelity, but his actual leaving was not as painful as his emotional discard years earlier.

    Watch out for the covert narcissists. They camouflage well, and the damage they cause is hard to define until they are gone. Dont expect anyone to understand what happened because they walk away with their “nice guy” image intact. (I did email the therapist to tell him how the story turned out. Just to let him know he’d been lied to too, and perhaps I was the sane one all along).

    Even if your cheater hasn’t gone deep underground (sorry, but the responses on this site speaks to how many do), it might be that he broke your marriage beyond repair when he cheated. Your anger might be self-love saying “even though he has changed, this marriage is no longer acceptable.” That’s ok too. You can divorce a unicorn if their cheating broke your trust irreparably.

    Whether he is a unicorn or not, you aren’t obligated to stay in a marriage with someone who cheated. Center the thought process on yourself, not him. If it isn’t acceptable to you, it’s ok to end the marriage.

    Much love to you. This is hard. Divorce is hard. The effect their actions have on kids is hard. Parenting kids with trauma from their own abandonment is hard. But listen to yourself. You deserve to be cherished. I’m a chubby single middle aged woman, my walls aren’t quite singing, but I’m getting closer every day. I cherish myself and my boundaries in a way that I never did before. It’s 11 pm on a Monday and I think 2022 will be the year he becomes someone who I used to know.

    • Covert narcissists ~
      “Don’t expect anyone to understand.
      They walk away with their “nice guy”
      image intact”.
      ~Rage-inducing truth!

  • My only beef with this site is not having closure on these letters lol. I wish ChumpLady could do a six month follow up with so many of these fellow chumps.

  • Hi AJ, I was a child of cheating father with a mother who chose to stay with him for my sake. She was always the tough one and there was a lot of fighting between the 2 them. I didn’t realize the stress it put on me until I left to go out of state to college and then returned home on holidays. I realized that all my emotions and stomach issues were caused from the stress of their fighting. Staying for the sake of the kids may not be doing them any good. It is better when they are in a peaceful household.

    • Even with no fighting it is brutal to be in a living situation where you could cut the tension with a knife. Staying for the kids is a horseshit excuse.

  • This is how I experienced “boundaries” for the first time in my life at the age of 61. After D-Day, the foggy haze drifted off a bit and I could SEE so clearly that people who are ambivalent or confused about affairs………that’s a sharp boundary for me. My core being cannot find ways to work with that. For my own health and safety, affairs are poison. There is no affair light, or affair that used to be, or affair justifiable. I need to treat it as a electrically charged fence wire and turn away. Lots of great pasture in many directions. No need to test the wire. Alas, a boundary! It was such a simple concept but I could never wrap my head around it. Not difficult in looking back to see why. Someone was always fucking with my fence there and making me think I was the crazy one.

    As with many of us, I realized that I have always had very clear personal ethics….courage, character, confidence. That is what drew him in to me and why he stayed 40 years before blowing it up. He needed my core values to serve as the disguise. He paraded under that cloak for decades, letting everyone assume he was such a great guy. When the shit hit the fan, it was so clear how he didn’t have enough personal character, confidence, courage to fill a measuring cup. He really was a piss poor example of a man. Very stunted, not very intelligent, scared of his own shadow, barely able to make a living, not liked by anyone who had to work with him, whiney, pouty and no emotional connection to anyone. Like a toddler in a grown up body.

    Have to wonder if schmoopie realizes yet what the prize was in her box of cracker jacks.

  • When my son was a small, we were driving around in the coutry on one of our “pretty drives.” We passed by a girl on a pony going around in a little corral. My son yelled, “Look Mommy, a unicorn!” I had only seen a girl on a pony from the corner of my eye and told him so. I also told him there was no such thing as unicorns; they were only make-believe. He was beside himself that I didn’t “be-weave” him and started to cry. So we turned around and slowly drove past the corral, where we were able to see that he pony had a plastic unicorn tied on its head. I then had a conversation with my little boy about how sometimes things are not what they seem. That’s what our unicorns are. They seem real until you slow down and really look at them.

  • Wife had two affairs (and tried to have a third) and I tried to “get over it” for two years. I was angry and miserable every day.

    Once I told her that I cried in my office most every day and a few days later when I was frustrated at something not working right in the kitchen she quipped “you gonna cry in your office about it?” with a little smirk. I knew then that even if she never had another affair that I was past the point of being able to trust her.

    Her affairs were like a turd in the punchbowl- maybe the turd was scooped out, but the punch is still toxic.

    • “Once I told her that I cried in my office most every day and a few days later when I was frustrated at something not working right in the kitchen she quipped “you gonna cry in your office about it?” with a little smirk.”

      Ok. So here we have a truly bitchy/cruel comment with a little bullying thrown in for good measure.

      Sorry you had to deal with that, DC!

    • The way I look at it is cheating is not the disease, it’s just one symptom. I divorced my FW not because he cheated and lied, even if it was a factor, but because I didn’t want to be married to a person who feels entitled to do so and behave accordingly in others area of our relationship. Once you look at a relationship through that filter, having that piece of the puzzle that was missing before if you want, there’s no going back. When you put that one piece in, it changes the entire picture. Once you go no contact with that person it is even easier to look at the facts instead of listening to their words and see the “marriage” for what it truly was. Look at it as taking a step back to look at the picture. Not living in the fog of cognitive dissonance is an entirely different experience and the place one can start healing.

      • Yes indeed- quite a filter!

        After the affair I began noticing the same pattern of entitlement with parenting, housework, money issues, etc. My transgressions were unforgivable but she always had an excuse for her behavior. After I saw the turd in the punch bowl, there was no way I would NOT taste it even after it had been fished out. (yuck).

        It hurts so much to have everything upended. I ate the “blue pill” for years until she forced the “red pill” down my throat with her affairs.

        • Yep, just to give an example; in one of his pre Dday rants my fw railed against me for what seemed like 20 minutes, but likely more like 5 or 6 minutes, because I ran out of salt, and he wanted salt on his macaroni.

          Called me idiot, stupid blah blah blah. I just stood there in shock, because who gets hysterical over running out of salt, for the first time ever in a 21 year marriage.. Then when he had exhausted himself he swung out the door and left in a rage, to the whores house.

          So in his mind

          running out of salt = worst crime ever committed against a husband
          Him fucking a whore = meh, she deserved it, because she ran out of salt

        • DoubleChumped(DC)’s Ex sounds like one of those awful, smug, lying narcissist. Anyone reading CL’s site should realize that we think cheating is caused by character disorders like cluster b or narcissism, not the “red pill”.

          Everyone on CL’s site should be careful of the phrase “red pill”; it is associated with some awful Evolutionary Psychology explanations for cheating. For specifics, google “female dual mating strategy”, “female hypergamy”, or “AFBB”. The gist is that women evolved to only desire bad boy alphas, but want good men to raise children with (beta). So women marry good beta men whom they don’t really desire, and good men are in danger or raising another man’s child. Humans evolved to cheat good people. Taking the red pill is facing this horrible “reality”.

          I know this all sounds so ridiculous its head spinning. ???? But notice how these Evo Psych fairy tales make the cheaters into the brave ones facing hard “reality”, and loyal people are just weak dupes, evolution’s losers. The cheating narc becomes central to evolution. Cheating narcs must love those stories. Finally, I bet that CL’s site has lurkers really who enjoy hearing us chumps say “red pill”, while we’re unaware of it being a dog whistle phrase for “cheaters are the smart ones, evolution’s winners”.

      • This ???????????????????????????????? It wasn’t the (10,000 ???) instances of lying, fucking others, giving me an STD, creating such instability that our kids were suicidal…. It was that he was the type of person who had no character and could do this to me and the kids in the first place. And no true remorse or empathy…. Just crocodile tears to manipulate me into cowering away from an equitable distribution of our assets amassed after 26 years of hard work together. The mask slipped and I looked in the void. Despite my terror of being alone and impoverished, being married to that thing was worse. The con was over.


        I too had/have a unicorn, and I too struggled with anger that quite honestly at times was full blown white hot rage.

        Personally, and I know *everyone* says this (and in some aspect or another, it’s true for each and every one of us) I believe that our situation was weird and complex.

        Husband had a one off years ago, in the early years of our marriage, on a trip to a much larger, more ‘sophisticated’ city. He says that he didn’t leave home with the intention to cheat, and I do believe that. The trip itself was legit but it was complicated in its own ways (including significant expense we had to shoulder) and especially financially, but for other reasons as well, it could not have come at a worse time for us. The timing was absolutely horrendous, Husband now agrees on that point, and for this and obvious other reasons, he wishes he’d declined.

        I had real and legit issues with that trip, at that time, having nothing to do with infidelity or the possibility of it.

        Nevertheless, Husband was determined to go on this trip (there were also legit opportunities and benefits involved) so I made a conscious and clearly verbalized decision not to go to the mat with him on it. I acquiesced but I made it clear that this was a huge extension beyond my comfort zone.

        The fact that my husband went on that trip against my wishes and better judgment and in direct opposition to other important things that were happening in our lives at that time, and then allowed himself to *cheat* while on that same trip, just fucking blew the underpinnings out of our marriage- years after the fact.

        At that time-
        As soon as he walked back in our front door, I mean the very moment he crossed the threshold, I knew he’d cheated on that trip. I knew. For the first time in our relationship, the man could not look me in the eye. He was talking to a point in space somewhere over my left shoulder.

        It took several days and repeated probing from me, getting more pointed by the day, before he ‘confessed.’ I say ‘confessed’ because while what he told me was technically accurate, it was grossly incomplete. I got ‘infidelity lite.’

        I always knew, from the start, that the story he told didn’t match his obvious guilt. But, on the other hand, there were aspects of it that made sense too. It was just enough believable in its own way.

        It’s interesting that ‘Pet Sematary’ comes up in this thread. I read that book a handful of years prior to our incident occurring. In the book, Stephen King writes the briefest passage, so very brief and succinct, about the husband’s one visit to a prostitute in New York City, early in his marriage. Just one visit- never repeated. Yet it foreshadows something rotten, rotting, in the hidden, secret core of this man’s character. It calls into question all of the wholesome, healthy, nurturing things that this man built with his wife, with his family, in his life over the subsequent years, and the trajectory that is to come.

        I remember reading that brief passage for the first time and being distinctly struck by what an artfully placed insight it was. Little did I know at the time that life would imitate art.

        Years later, a random conversation and speculation about another couple’s separation and impending divorce shook loose a comment from Husband that blew the standing narrative about this years old incident right out of the water. Honestly, out of our atmosphere and straight to smithereens.

        The dupe was up.

        I ran it to ground.

        Yeah, there was a lot more to that one off than Husband initially confessed. Of course.
        Well, at least the narrative that emerged years later more accurately and honestly matched the look on his face when he walked back through our door. That much was believable.

        Therein followed six months of the most painful and excruciating trickle truth imaginable, in which Husband flailed about and attempted to back pedal furiously, and I came to terms with not only what happened that night long ago, but also how significantly FOO issues and boundary issues and avoidance issues and honesty issues had and were impacting our marriage.

        I realized that I’d spent years being thrown under the bus, having *no boundaries at all* because Husband had no boundaries at all, the entire world had its fucking way with us, and I was *the only person in the world to whom Husband could safely say ‘No,’ so he did so often,

        and that the entire time this had been happening, I’d been white knuckling the marriage and soothing myself by assuring myself that my husband did really love me, he did really cherish me, he did really value and respect me, as evidenced by the fact that he’d never cheated on me.


        I spent about six months in a state of abject mourning-
        and then one morning I woke up in a white hot rage-

        It was the single most exhausting, painful, disruptive, frightening, and productive years of our marriage, perhaps of our lives.


        And oh my my, what a long strange trip *that was.*

        I guess I have the rare ‘good outcome,’ such that it is: I do sincerely believe that there were no ‘repeats.’ I do not believe that we have or had an ongoing infidelity problem.

        I do believe that we had a boundary problem, a validation problem (secondarily related to the actual incident of infidelity) an honesty problem/accountability problem (a deep set issue in the FOO) and an entitlement problem (also a deep set issue in the FOO.)

        We’ve been sorting those issues and I’ve been fucking brutal and draconian about it. The tire tracks on my back have tire tracks on them for being thrown under various buses for *years.* NO MORE.
        And in the end, if that costs me this marriage, so be it. In truth, it should have killed this marriage long ago.

        At this moment, it does not appear that will happen. Not only am I defending boundaries like a boss, Husband appears to have found his own. Based on decades of experience in *all sorts of situations* with Husband, over all stages of maturity and development and relative sophistication, I do believe that Husband didn’t leave home looking for sex. But, when absence of boundaries landed him there…
        … and that is, and has been, a huge source of shame for him.

        I believe it is a relief to him to finally ‘walk the walk’ with various entities in his and our lives. It is an overdue relief to have boundaries.
        Of course, those boundaries have cost him, and us.
        We’ve stripped off dead wood: people and relationships that should have been gone, due to basic lack of respect, years ago.

        While the loss of this largely empty infrastructure initially seemed like we were burning down our own house,
        the reality is that we firmly discarded toxic personalities, emotional and otherwise vampires, and a whole shat ton of unnecessary and unhelpful bullshit.

        It *finally* feels like we opened up the damned house and let the fresh air blow through and let the sunshine in.

        And now that this bullshit is gone-
        so is my anger.

        Honestly, the one off infidelity isn’t our biggest issue.
        The dysfunction that permitted it to happen certainly was.

        Also, that video clip from Carolyn Myss was the most poignant, direct, applicable and relatable depiction of being on the receiving end of this marriage and the FOO that I’ve yet seen, heard or read.
        Husband was raised by and with people who follow their Ids around and bully everyone else into coping with it in the aftermath.

        There are apologies, there are sincere apologies, and there is accountability.

        Husband’s FOO doesn’t even apologize. They are never, ever wrong.
        On a stellar day they rationalize.
        Make of that and deal as you will. It’s not their problem, it never will be.

        Husband is *finally* coming to terms with being raise in that environment.

    • OMG the smirk. I had a moment like that too, when I was actually down on my knees in my kitchen begging him to go to counseling after his abandonment. Literally down on the tile begging him. He smirked and said “No.”

      I will never forgive him for that. It showed me who he really is. He enjoyed my pain. He couldn’t help but smile in a twisted smirk at the moment I was at my life’s lowest, in complete shock and shrieking with grief over the sudden implosion of my family. My low was his soaring high and it showed on his face. This moment is also why my daughters will never forgive him; knowing how he humiliated me. He will never know his grandchildren because of THAT MOMENT.

      These moments are why we wish them dead, wish for the karma bus to flatten them, why we fantasize about visiting their death bed to tweak their noses with glee as they breathe their last cancerous breath without your loving care. These are the moments that make us righteously ANGRY.

      • Yep, I had that exact same moment. And that was it. The thing you can’t unsee, and it made me so ANGRY and a bit scared too. But that lit up a fucking fire under my ass and gave me the energy to get out of there and save myself. That anger served as fuel as I moved out, lined up my ducks and filed for divorce. I am so thankful now for it. My gut saved me, eventually. I am certain of it.

      • (In response to DoubleChumped’s gobsmacking story of his smirking ex). Glad you wised up and got out DC.

  • My adult son told me he wishes me and his father had parted much earlier

    You can’t unring a bell, you can’t unboil an egg

    This is similar to being angry with a rape victim for being afraid in dark parking lots

    The emotions come up and they are also a truth

  • AJ: Have you ever wondered if, no matter how much he might claim otherwuse, you’re current state appeases your husband in some way and that you’re simply being engineered like this? They say narcissists are puppet masters. It’s something to think about. It might even go beyond guilt reduction strategies and image management on his part (him looking “reasonable” in contrast to your “bitchiness”). He might simply hate it when you’re happy.

    I also got sucked into wreckonciliation for several months. My gut would also not stop screaming and I had a hair-trigger temper. The sick thing is that FW liked the fireworks.

    Granted I’m funny when I’m angry but who wants to live like that?Apparently he does. He couldn’t deal with peaceful, contented and constructive so he blew everything up. I don’t know if it was reenactment of his dysfunctional family of origin dynamics or that “Love me, hate me but don’t ignore me” narcissist thing or that the drama distracted him from his chronic gnawing, ugly inner chaos. But I had this sinking feeling that the outcome was just what he wanted– me with one foot out the door in perpetuity so he could feel like he was constantly chasing. Fir one, it’s the avoidant attachment-dsordered person’s dream.

    “Fiery” gets old. It burns out and goes cold. Something else I’m really good at other than “fiery” is being happy and passionate about a calling. It doesn’t take much to make me happy and I’ve moved mountains personally and professionally in that state of mind. It sounds very Julie Andrews and almost obnoxious but I’m someone who can dance through life. I love to laugh. I don’t flip to doldrums like those with bipolar and it doesn’t burn out. I just stay enthusiastic unless repeatedly hit with a tire iron.

    The final straw was realizing FW didn’t like it when I was happy, thus the tire iron of the affair. The affair partner for 18 months was a clue. According to whistleblowing coworkers and FW himself, the AP had a chronic “ass face” or what’s clinically known as “blunted affect”– perpetually sour, dour and dead-eyed unless drunk or posing for Instagram with a rigor mortis grin. The description reminded me immediarely of FW’s cipher sister. I’d known many unrecovered adult children of abusive alcoholics with that dark, flat-voiced, dead-eyed demeanor and I started to feel like that was the “shape” FW had in mind for me, the thing he was always weirdly comfortable with and was unconsciously forging me into.

    I could recall seeing this before and half understood the dynamics. I worked with several charming, “gregarious,” warm-seeming men with these dour, flat, lurky wives or girlfriends who in some ways were the real reflection of who these men were. These men all turned out to be split personalities– rageaholics, substance addicts, cheaters and creeps. Only someone emotionally pre-deadened could stand living with them and I think these guys probably couldn’t stand happiness in intimate partners. People who feel in control of their lives are happy, so happiness in a partner signifies lack of total control for abusers. Also charming, gregarious partners steal attention from narcs who demand ALL the attention.

    Why would I want to end up like the type of person who always gave me the creeps and I couldn’t stand being in the same room with? I remember coming up with all kinds of excuses to avoid ever seeing FW’s sister when pregnant. I instinctually felt like her lurky energy might trigger miscarriages or something. Maybe not an entirely rational feeling but very distinct and memorable. If I have a nemesis, it’s that type.

    So no thanks, Pygmalian. That type of woman has to be bent and pruned like a bonsai from birth. If the twisting and pruning start too late, it just kills.

  • It occurred to me some time ago that I don’t have any grudges against anyone, anywhere – except my XW and her AP. It’s not me – I am not an angry person at all – it’s them.

    • Same, IG.
      I am 66 years old and have no grudges on a single soul in my life up to my ex FW, his mistress turned wife and the FW’s sister, who is evil like him.
      I don’t look for trouble in life and have always looked for the good in others, but it’s hard to find the good in cheaters and their flying monkeys, no matter how hard you may have wanted to.

    • I am that way too.

      Honestly, I have great friends, I get along with all my family. I do have a grudge against my ex and the whore. They both actively worked and conspired to destroy me. Of that there is no doubt.

      Forgiveness, meh; I quit imagining my ex floating face down in the Ohio River early on. I I think that is good enough. Nor did I continue wish harm on either of them. Nor did I care if they continued to shit all over themselves, which they did. I am good.

    • I had an epiphany with our second marriage counselor (before I learned of affairs) when we met individually and I was talking about how my partner often said that I had difficulty in relationships. He asked if I had difficulty in other relationships in my life, and I honestly answered no. He then asked if my partner had difficulty in other relationships. Um, YES. “Maybe this isn’t your problem to solve,” he said. I knew my partner projected before that but I never realized how much I had bought into some of his projections. It turns out that I DON’T have a problem with relationships. I have a problem with dishonest cheaters. My bad. ????

  • I know I come by my bitch naturally. I accept that about myself and, honestly, it gets rid of the riff raff. But my raging after dday was a fire I had to really work on to hide. But after a certain point (usually sun rise) I couldn’t keep it down. It might have looked like bitchery but it was me, enraged and knowing I got snookered by that fucker in the first degree that made it jaw clenching 24/7. But once I decided it was over, I had to negotiate assets and get a good settlement so I had to fake it. For more than year. It was maddening and I lost my rational self for a long time. But when I was finally free of his power over me, relief poured over me and I was happy. I didn’t have to fight anyone anymore. My life became like 90% more peaceful. But I can still be a bitch and I can swear up a storm when I get annoyed by idiots. I refuse to make nice nice with daddy because my adult sons think enough time has passed. They finally get that mommy enjoying NC is happy. Happier. Happiest sans papa. Alls well that ends well but it’s a slog. Accept the slog. Bite the bullet. Let the dead marriage go. And breath again. It really will be ok.

  • I know ???? about this anger, first hand.

    I was angry when I was in the relationship after DDay. It didn’t go away.

    I moved out 11 months later (after attempting to stay if only to get the kids thru high school-zero reconciliation in my mind).

    Turns out-I GOT EVEN ANGRIER. And that wasn’t fair to my kids.

    Once I moved out-I was STILL angry. I thought it would all melt away after I left.

    It didn’t.

    My anger has lessened over the past 3 and a half years. A LOT.

    My kids are happier. I’m happier.

    That wouldn’t not have been the case if I had stayed.

    You can either stay and get angrier (because that anger won’t lessen-it’ll just get worse). Time is not on our side.

    Or you can make the choice to put yourself and your kids first and end the situation that is fueling your anger.

    Change your situation in order to enjoy YOUR life.

  • Aj: It’s upsetting to read how much of the fault of all this you are piling onto your own back. Your anger is fully justified, you have the right to express it.
    You are not a bitch!!
    There would be something really wrong with you, IMO, if you weren’t spit spewing angry over what happened to your family! Two years is nothing in the processing, we will all be unpacking this for life most likely in some way or another, it’s a lot to deal with and it never really fully goes away.
    You can’t glue trust back together once it is shattered beyond recognition.
    Sure, we all desperately wanted that too, no one wants to lose what they valued most in their lives, it’s by far the toughest challenge of my life.
    But, he, sadly, doesn’t hold the same values as you, even though he portends that he does and thoroughly enjoys your clinging gripping hands on that one last beam of wood as you watch your ship burn in the ocean.
    That therapist you have is wasting your time and money and making your husband the victim here and doing more damage to you.
    Your spouse is no fluffy innocent lamb, he is a wolf waiting in the dark, foggy woods for his opportunity to pounce on his kill once more, and he is enjoying the wait and your squirming indecision and self assignment of guilt, just some delicious kibbles there!

    He is no unicorn, there is no truer meter to measure right now than your own gut and your unresolved angry is its manifestation. Your gut KNOWS the truth. Listen to it!!

    You did not take out your family, it is he who destroyed what you had. You and your boys can rebuild something worth having.

    You can’t save seals all week long, being the good guy and doing everything right to save your marriage, that poor little sad unicorn boy, and then drown puppies all weekend long, invalidating your reality with that lame ass therapist, annoyed at your anger, and then call yourself the good guy here. He is not the good guy.
    Infidelity is a choice to abuse, he made that choice and it was by no accident, it was an example of his character exposing it’s ugly head to you.
    That doesn’t go away, it only goes underground for a while till it feels safe to resume, trust that he sucks.
    Get out now, you will not be happy with yourself when 10 years down the road, his secret sexual deceits again resurface and you and your boys are that much more injured by it all.
    You are getting great advice from these posts today, the wisdom from ppl who have lived what you are deciding on now.
    Unicorns don’t really exist Aj, that’s an untruth too.
    Best wishes to you, I’m sorry for the pain you are experiencing.
    Accepting and moving on is all we have, it is no easy road, but it is the only road well worth choosing.

  • If the anger is from your husband cheating it would appear you really can’t forgive him (and why should you?) so for your sake as well as the children’s sake it is time to consider divorce. Maybe your husband is truly sorry but that doesn’t mean you have to stay married. Your anger could very well stem from total frustration…you thinking you have to stay and “preserve the family” because your husband has done all the right things.
    If you have a history of anger problems that still doesn’t mean you are obligated to stay married to a husband that cheated but now has regrets. Either way you need a new therapist and should seriously consider finding an attorney.

  • Here is a 2×4 – why do you believe you have any control at all? He may simply abandon you for the next Schmoopie who isn’t such a “fucking bitch.” And I guarantee he will use that label about you when he conspires with his whore to plan his escape from your clutches. He will look you square in the eye and lie to you, just like he did before you knew about the cheating.

    Mine was 8 YEARS between known affairs and in between he was always shopping for my replacement and throwing chum into the waters to see who might take a bite. He hid his intentions from me until he packed up his shit and left while I was away on a business trip, future faking me right up until the moment I got not the plane. Upon landing back home I received an e-mail toodle-loo. 28 years of marriage, and I got an e-mail as my notice my marriage was over.

    Before he poofed we took a trip to find a retirement home in AZ and as we floated around the resort pool he declared “I want to spend the rest of my life with you!” 6 weeks later, he evaporated on me with a fucking e-mail. He told me I deserved to be abandoned.

    As someone said before, your unicorn was not sorry when you did not know. And when he cheats again he will blame you for being so unforgiving all this time– obviously he had to lie because you couldn’t handle the truth. He will take his cheating underground until he knows his monkey branch is solid enough to hold his weight, then he will nuke your family.

    The only control you have is your exit.

    • One more excellent notion someone once said here:

      “The problem with someone who behaves better because they are trying to avoid consequences FOR THEMSELVES is that they are constantly re-calculating that equation as conditions change.”

      You have absolutely zero guarantee that he will keep his unicorn mask on, and he will absolutely BLAME YOU for why he just couldn’t make it work when he does leave you for the next Schmoopie.

      I don’t know, something about today’s post has me going. Oh, right– I was raged at that I was just so “ANGRY” all the time which is why he had to abandon me, he just couldn’t live with my anger a moment more and had to go finally live for himself.

      Got an e-mail tho.

      • 100% he will do it again and blame you for him having have done it. After I took my cheating H back and felt (for a few months) that I had a unicorn on my hands, FW began a relationship with what would eventually become the Wifetress (GF#3) and made lots and lots and lots of new friends–many of them female. He would stay long evenings at these friends’ houses while I waited at home with our babies for him to come back.

        Was I worried about his faithfulness and renewed loyalty to our marriage. Heck yes I was. He had cheated and left me and the kids before for a young mistress and he was checking off all the boxes all over again. Hiding his phone from me. Spending lots of time at female friends’ houses.

        This is not something you do to a wife whom you are trying to prove your fidelity to.

        When I would *dare* bring it up he would:
        – get mad
        – accuse me of being unreasonable and untrusting
        – say “this marriage will never work out because you don’t trust me”
        – tell me that I hold grudges and that was damaging to our relationship
        – tell me that I was a damaged person because I kept “looking back to the past” and he never did; he always moved upwards and onwards

        etc etc

        In short, he taped a unicorn’s horn to his head, behaved badly, and told me that if I felt uncomfortable with his behaviour that it was all my fault because he was doing nothing wrong.

        I managed to read a few texts to a newly acquired female friend of his (not GF#3/Wifetress) when he was in the shower. It basically said (paraphrasing) “I don’t have a loving and trusting wife. How do you live with someone when they don’t trust you?”

        (She probably “Oh you poor dear!”ed him in response. Doesn’t matter.)

        I put his phone down and felt like crap. It’s no wonder I started antidepressants during our reconciliation.

        FWs, in this situation, have put themselves in a pretty comfortable position:

        (1) They’ve cheated before/have a pattern of cheating
        (2) They initiate reconciliation and put on their unicorn/good guy costumes
        (3) They get upset with the chump because they’ve adjusted the narrative to be “FW is sweet and is trying hard, darn it” while letting you (and everyone else) know that “the chump just can’t let things go and move on.”
        (4) The FW is thusly established as a hero and the Chump, a fool or a shrew.
        (5) When the FW leaves again, he’s set himself for a positive reception this time. Everyone from his family, friends, to his AP will go “Well, of course, he had to leave! Just look at how the chump is behaving.”

        For me, I didn’t rage even though FW tried his hardest to get me to be angry with him. It would have made things go better for him. Instead, I sobbed a lot. Went numb. Went on antidepressants. When he left again, his family was on his side, but he lost nearly all of his old friends when walked out and abruptly changed his FB status from “In a relationship with Fourleaf” to “In a relationship with GF#3.” He was genuinely surprised by the backlash. He has new friends now.

        Anyhow, FWland and Chumpdom generally has a pattern… a script that many of them read from. This story (FW is back and behaving like a gentleman and **why is the chump so angry or sad?!**) is just another familiar part of a familiar story.

        • “When I would *dare* bring it up he would:
          – get mad
          – accuse me of being unreasonable and untrusting
          – say “this marriage will never work out because you don’t trust me”
          – tell me that I hold grudges and that was damaging to our relationship
          – tell me that I was a damaged person because I kept “looking back to the past” and he never did; he always moved upwards and onwards

          etc etc”

          This is EXACTLY what FW did to me anytime I brought it up. Redirect to make it all my fault. At the time and in the thick of it I wondered if that were true. It took a LOT of time and perspective from CL’s book and therapy to realize how truly messed up that response was.

    • “he was always shopping for my replacement and throwing chum into the waters to see who might take a bite”

      This statement just resonated so much with me…it’s so sad (and scary) how chumps can go about their seemingly normal life thinking everything is AOK never knowing their defect of a partner is shopping for a replacement and it’s just a matter of time before their world comes crashing down.

      • Always on the prowl for the bigger, better deal. So disturbing.

      • Along this line, the wisdom from another member of Chump Nation:

        “A man who looks elsewhere and blames you for it: The best he can offer, even to the love if his life, is that he will always think he can do better than you.”

        This was my Asshat. He had countless ‘micro affairs’ all throughout the marriage where he was Mr. Charming, Mr. Smooth, Mr. Big Laugh, Mr. Let’s Go Have Drinks. Chum for the sharks. He saved his disdain for his family and gave all the good stuff to other people, and I dare not object to it or I was labeled Controlling and Judgmental.

        They were all JUST FRIENDS. Until they weren’t.

  • “Leave, AJ! Leeeeeave! And watch the anger go away when your values and your actions are in alignment.” THIS. Actions, words, thoughts must align for harmony. You read CL’s book, you clearly connected with it, and you’re angry because being with a cheater is not who YOU are. CL validates that. She did for me. And I was you several years back. I could never get over my cheaters infidelity because it betrayed my value system.

    Listen, you can probably train yourself to stop reacting in anger, but that doesn’t make it go away—it just takes it underground. It’s been 2 years and you’re still angry, you’ll still be angry at 3 years. And if you stay with him you’ll wake up one day and realize all that anger is at yourself. And that’s no way to live. It’s human nature to distance yourself from your betrayer. And it will destroy you if you don’t…and you don’t want your kids to have a front row seat to that.

  • Cheating is putting your hands around the neck of your spouse and child and strangling them. And getting someone to help you. In a chickenshit, cowardly, dirty, sneaky, covert passive-aggressive bullshit way.

    At least I was (I am) honest and direct and straightforward and up front and above board and belt when I was (when I am) pissed off.

    And the passive aggressive sneaky two-faced lying cheating stealing backstabbers get upset when you’re honest and direct and straightforward and up front and above board and belt.

    How super fucked up that is.

    My therapist reminds me that “good people are up front about what is going on with them.”

    That means cheaters are denied entrance to the Good People section of the ballpark.

    Over four years later, Traitor X is still
    lying in therapy, this time with Dr. Kickass Coparent. I enjoy watching her put him back in the frypan when he tries to get out. I attend because it protects my daughter. I am not willing to make agreements or negotiate with a TLC (traitor thief liar cheater) on my own, who is still a TLC, without qualified assistance.

  • Most of us have walked your path, I know I certainly have. I tried staying with the x for the sake of the family. Trust me when i say that there is nothing your husband, or you, or anyone can do to make this “right”. Your marriage will never be right. Any bad feelings you feel will intensify over the years. God considers adultery the marriage deal breaker and I don’t think he’s wrong. Just get out, that’s really all I can say. And this is coming from a long term, comitted RIC (until I wasn’t) brainwashee.

  • Yup. Same same same.
    Mine blamed me for never getting over his first affair as justification for his ensuing affairs.

    When I threw him out and changed the locks?
    Funny, my anger subsided significantly.
    PS my divorce will be final in 37 days.

    • Congrats in advance. ????

      Mine dishonestly framed my anger as; “We just don’t get along.” I told him; “That’s neither a we problem nor a me problem. It’s a you problem.”

      The anger can only really subside if you’re not looking at and talking to your tormentor every day of your life. AJ should imagine living with and trying to love somebody who had raped her. The effect would be the same.

  • I smoked the hopium pipe for 4 years. I was intermittently angry and never felt 100% trusting of him again. With good reason: I caught him cheating/lying again. (Glad I got the postnup!)

    I link cheating and lying because it’s so important to recognize that cheating usually involves HUNDREDS of lies, when you include lying by omission. Sometimes thousands of lies (for those of us married for a long time).

    Being angry at the person you trusted most in life for repeatedly lying to you – in addition to the infidelity – is a NORMAL reaction! Trying not to have this normal reaction is fruitless.

    If they lie that many times to you, it becomes easy for them. Your anger is reminding you that this person can’t be trusted. LISTEN to your anger.

    I saw this on a t-shirt:

    I am not a bitch.
    I am THE bitch.
    Ms. Bitch to you!

    Embrace your inner BITCH! Her righteous anger is a wise warning!

  • A few thoughts for you AJ:

    It takes lots of us a long time to leave because we feel obligated to try and make things work. How long are you willing to try? Two years is a real effort on your part. Try talking to your therapist, or better yet–a new therapist, about deciding when to pull the plug. Keep in mind that if you had left right away, you would have criticized yourself for not trying hard enough. Now it is time to start thinking about when you have tried too hard.

    You are right to worry about your sons. If you divorce, it will be very tough on them. But you aren’t choosing between a perfect life and a tough one. You are choosing between two kinds of tough family experiences (living with unhappy parents modeling a rocky marriage OR living with divorced parents). Stop thinking about picture perfect families. That fantasy image is not an option. Think about the real options they have, and choose the one where you can do the best job of mothering.

    Run a few thought experiments. If you sat down with your husband and told him that you wanted to end the marriage, would it feel like a relief?

    Get a therapist who will help you work on decision making and planning a future. The goal of your therapy should not be to save the marriage. Maybe a good therapist will help you get to a place where you are happy to accept the scarred marriage you have. Maybe a good therapist will help you decide to move on. But the focus of the therapy is you–not the marriage.

    If you decide to leave, make sure the kids know that the root cause was their father’s decision to have a girlfriend, and that is not allowed. He broke the rules. You both worked on fixing things, but it couldn’t be done, so the marriage is ending. The boys will blame you (on and off for years), but make sure they know from Day 1 that dad cheated, and your decision is based on his action. Do not agree to make it mutual or to any narrative wherein you are divorcing because you were too angry or too unforgiving, etc. The kids will hear false narratives from all kinds of people, probably including their dad. Make sure they never hear one from you. Don’t be angry or nasty with the kids about their dad, just be direct and brief. Get a therapist to help you work out your language for explaining the situation.

    It is okay to put yourself first. This is hard to remember in a society that tells mothers to put their kids first and wives to put their husbands first. You have been putting others first for years. It isn’t working. Rearranging the order of priorities is morally acceptable. You aren’t planning on putting yourself first all the time forever, you are just considering one decision that helps you AFTER spending years being the last person whose needs were considered.

  • There will always be people who promote forgiveness, accuse you of being so angry, tell you it’s time to get over it, question your contribution in ending this marriage. Yup, some will be friends, some relatives, some co-workers, some religious community members, some neighbors all having an opinion. But you only have to face yourself. In your heart you know you have to get back to the woman you were before you met him. Chances are you’ve become someone unknown to yourself, trying to prop up something you’ve known for awhile isn’t real. You owe yourself relief. Eventually you will become your best self, even better than before you met him. You are now a witness, without a witness they get to destroy lives. You can stop this deceit, be an example for your children, it stops here!

      • Forgiveness is About Justice – Not Mercy

        Forgiveness is betweenyou and God. Reconciliation is between you, God and the abuser, and I think this is where confusion comes in. Forgivness and Reconciliation are two different concepts. Reconciliation is not only unnecessary but unadvisable in working town the process of forgiving abuse.

  • “You don’t restore your humanity when you forgive an unapologetic offender; he restores his humanity when he works to earn your forgiveness.” 
    Janis Abrams Spring

    Whether or not you stay with your husband, forgiveness after betrayal can take years and years, even if the offender is remorseful and apologetic and “does everything right.” And sometimes, forgiveness never arrives. I learned that instead, for our own wellbeing, a solid goal to reach for is acceptance. Acceptance can be achieved without forgiveness. It allows us to move on and release anger on our own schedule. In time, acceptance can lead to meh, the merciful relief of no longer getting hooked by the nuked trust of betrayal. I wish this for you.

    I also recommend Harriet Lerner’s book on apologies and betrayal.

  • AJ,

    Oh, how I wish I had been MORE of a bitch. When the SHTF, I tried to do “everything right”, not realizing that I was actually doing everything wrong. I believed in the unicorn… Pick Me danced… smoked the Hopium pipe… trusted in wreckonciliation… I absolutely cringe now when I think about all of my desperate attempts to save the marriage which in reality, after everything he did done, was not even close to salvageable. I could have spared myself a lot of pain, anguish, embarrassment, grief and abuse if I had exited stage left immediately upon discovery.

    As CL stated, pay attention to how you’re feeling; your soul is telling you something important.

  • If you read cheating in a nutshell, it explains why you can’t just “get over it”. You’re literally trying to override your own mind and body’s defense systems. You KNOW you can’t trust this person and you’re trying to convince yourself that you can. That’s why it’s so hard. I managed to do it, I also was dying of an autoimmune disease that caused cognitive function which helped allow me to do that because I kept forgetting things he did.

    I STILL had a breakdown because of it and was diagnosed with schizophrenia. Don’t be me. I succeeded in convincing myself my cheater husband was a good person and cared about me because my mind was already compromised. It still made me physically ill, gave me screaming nightmares, and it broke me. It’s not worth it. You can’t live in a fantasy world. Reality is much better and healthier. I’m completely fine now since I’m rid of him. I started treatment for my autoimmune a year before I got rid of him. I didn’t fully recover until he was gone. We die early if we stay with these fuckwits. It’s not worth it. Get rid of him.

  • AJ:
    1) You and cheater took vows in front of everyone. He knew the rules. Nothing was said about obligatory “second chances”. You do not owe him a second chance. What he did cannot be undone.
    2) You found out who he is. He cannot undo this. This does not make you a “bitch”. It makes him a liar, cheater, and untrustworthy.
    3) And you are not “an angry woman who was cheated on”. You are a woman who was cheated on, and is angry.
    4) Find a new therapist.

  • The most likely is that your husband has taken or will interpret your acquiescence as having given him permission to continue with his affairs, but to just hide it much better the next time. Perhaps it will take you longer, this time, to spot his infidelity, but it will be there, even if he hides it well. You have to ask yourself some hard questions: Do I still want to sleep with a person with such lowlife morals and values? What about my kids, is that the lesson they need to learn about the foundations of a good marriage? Am I willing to hold my anger and hurt in check forever? Do I even have the energy to do a pick-me dance for someone who would never ever do the same thing for me? Will I be able to handle the anxiety and anger and depression that takes over me every time he arrives home a little later than you think he should? Do I deserve to be treated with such disrespect in other aspects of my life? Is he even worth it? If the answer is no, don’t waste any more of your time on that investment, sell out and move on to something much more worthy of your love and time. Big hugs and best of luck to you!

  • I’m just reading this post later in the day – 195 comments! I haven’t read them all yet, but you obviously struck a nerve.

    As soon as I discovered the affair I dumped him. Why? Because no matter what, I would never ever be able to forget or trust him again. He hoovered, he did everything, so much to try to prove his regret, that he learned. He went to therapy, he read things. I was still in contact with him and I was a HUGE bitch. I said awful things to him, yet he still wanted me back.

    But I knew I would always be that bitch to him. And that’s not who I am. I’m not a bitch, but his actions brought that out.

    You’re not a bitch, you’ve been betrayed.

    You and your kids are a family. You don’t need a FW, unicorn or not, to be a family. Yes, it sucks to divorce. But it sucks even more to be someone that you’re not. And you’re not an angry bitch. Cut out the cancer that is your FW and find yourself again.

    • Same here. Bitch came out to protect herself when he ran through every single one of my boundaries. Nothing wrong with being a bitch when you have to. You realize what crappy, subservient traits women are expected to take on in this culture to appear womanly. It cost me years staying in a craptastic marriage.

      Don’t make the same mistake, AJ. Bitch away while you leave that cheater in the dust.

  • Yes to the book ” Cheating, in a nutshell.” After LACGAL- the most helpful one i read. And as a researcher, i read everything.

    • Just downloaded the Nutshell book and have already gone through several chapters- it is VERY helpful. Thanks for the recommendation, Change!

  • AJ Your anger is a message from your gut. That cheating was not acceptable. You do not have to accept it. You’ve given it a try. Another chump here attesting divorce is much better than limping along with a cheater, hoping, marriage policing. Kids prefer a harmonious home. I don’t believe cheaters get a character transplant – i.e. the entitlement that let them cheat once tends to remain albeit underground for a while. Vote for a different therapist that you choose to listen to your anger, affirm it and help you work out what you want going forward.

  • AJ,

    Your letter triggered me, not “you” personally – you are a chump like the rest of us, but your situation. I also agreed to mend the relationship, after my ex swore that he had made the biggest mistake by cheating on me the first time, that he loved me, and couldn’t imagine being with anyone else. Well, guess what? I never healed from his betrayal. I also felt angry and betrayed, despite his efforts. Not that this will happen to you, but my ex in fact cheated again, about 10 years after the first time I found out – and also discovered that there had been several affairs since the first but he’d never been caught with some of them, and he used my anger and “bitchiness” as an excuse to the new cheating. He said I couldn’t trust him, I resented him, so he sought out his new AP. I felt like such a fool. Listen to the anger, you were betrayed, and it isn’t okay. It will never be the same for you, I’m sorry to say. That anger is protecting you.

  • “Maybe your anger is trying to tell you something. That you cannot live with the cognitive dissonance of betrayal. That no matter how good he is, you can never UN-know that he is capable of a double life. You were snowed. So, you don’t really know if he’s truthful now or he isn’t. Unless you want to be the marriage police (please don’t). Hypervigilance isn’t sustainable. So you feel off balance. And the entire clusterfuck pisses you off.” This, this, THIS.

    In that same vein, I’d recommend the chapter titled ‘Deliveries’ in the book Untamed by Glennon Doyle. “…nothing unearths what we really believe faster than examining what pisses us off.”

  • My therapist said to me, “Why are you happy with so little?: At the time it felt like being punched in the stomach but she was on the button and a strong dose of reality was what I needed. Take your children, society, time sunk etc out of the equation. ‘Why are YOU in this relationship?’

  • Chump Lady and Chump Nation,

    It’s been just over four years for me now. I found this site somewhere in 2018 and reading here every day has saved my life.
    My daughter’s life too.

    I was thinking today about how grateful I am for all of you. I do not know where I would be had I not found this place. It is an essential part of my recovery. Without you, my head and my heart and my spirit and my soul would still be in a vise, being crushed and tortured and suffering from the abuse and insanity and mindfucking by cheaters.

    This site is a way out of the fire swamp, and each of you is like a lantern lighting the pathway out. If not for you I would be walking in circles, lost and in despair for sure.


    • I always read your posts and you help everyone.

      I agree too I wish I had CL in real time of my year of discard. Oh I did ok, mostly because of a really good Dad and Preacher; but it would have been great to know some of the things I learned from CL. Back then there was no internet, and it is such a painful experience; it can be isolating.

      I only found CL due to the ex fw blowing up his relationship with our son. Son and his wife talked to me about it, so it brought some of the stuff back.

      I have been blessed by irl friends and online friends.

      Most folks are so kind.

  • I’m looking at these last posts for 1/11 and wondering, why is everyone still up and thinking with some very late last posts up there? (It’s even late for the west coast dwellers.)
    And then I say to myself, well, why the heck are YOU up?! Lol.
    I am blessed with a great ability for a sound night’s sleep, but on very rare occasions,my eyes pop open too early, like right now.
    VH, I’m happy for you that you’ve received such life affirming value from this site, as countless numbers of us can certainly claim the same. It’s pretty special for sure, I agree.
    Your input time and time again has been pure gold, so don’t kid yourself in believing you are only a receiver of the validation blessings in this most supportive community.
    You give so much of yourself and your posts invoke extraordinary wisdom and deep caring for others.
    Maybe from all the years you’ve spent with various therapists through your life and your deep dives into the exploration of your own psyche on your journey has given you a great ability to express some valuable wisdom that you so generously share with others. Very fortunate for us reading them!
    Thank you for that, you are most definitely a gift to this site!
    Just today, I cut and pasted I believe every one of your six or so posts to my notes, that’s not coincidental that so many of them just happen to be yours over and over again. You have a lot of good advice to share.
    You are open, honest and generous with your insights ,I know I am not alone in the benefits received from the gold nuggets you throw into the waters we share.
    I came up with an analogy from an old tv commercial that was very well known about a brokerage firm back in the day,
    “my broker is EF Hutton, and Hutton says”……… and then the entire restaurant or whatever establishment they are in goes dead silent and freezes, as the entire place leans their ear towards the next words out of the man’s mouth, signifying it’s very sought after knowledge worth paying great attention to.
    That’s how your contributions feel to this amazing blog CL has so brilliantly shared with us fellow Chumps.
    You are like EFHutton, it’s very much worth paying attention to what you have to share! There are many great sharers on this site for sure, it’s why I haven’t been able to stop reading , I always feel so understood, validated and supported.
    Makes me feel a whole lot less crazy than navigating the turmoil of an abusive relationship alone. You guys actually get it!!
    Peace to you VH. What I’ve always found through my own life, is that it’s nearly impossible to give more than I’ve ever received in return, no matter how hard we may attempt to.
    You are high on the list of givers. I hope you receive back ten fold.

    • Thank you from the top, bottom, all sides and corners of my badly wounded heart. I share here what has been given to me and what I have learned, either for free or what I have paid for by those very wise therapists with whom I have been hiking the road of life with since OCT 1985. (The one good thing that happened in a long list of tragic events that for
      some weird reason always happen in OCT throughout my life. Maybe I should be glad the traumas are concentrated in one month so I can get through the traumaveraries more easily? WTF is it about OCT?!)

      When I am tired and scared at the end of the day or in the middle of the night (see time stamp above) I remind myself that there are zillions of people and animals around the world living with painful experiences, the same as mine or worse than mine. I can’t keep what I’ve learned unless I give it away, and if I go to sleep and don’t wake up, as I sometimes feel like doing when I am tired and scared, I won’t be able to help my daughter or anyone else. Life is going to happen to me just like anyone else and the highest and best response is to try to help someone else. I am grateful to hear that I have helped you.

      THANK YOU for taking the time to let me know.


      • Velvet, I am sure you have helped *everyone* who has ever read the comments (certainly including me, and more than once), even if they only ever clicked on reading the comments one time! You’re also probably significantly responsible for helping build the Chump Nation community, out of all those people who idly click on “Comments” one day, and discover there is a wealth of additional wisdom and help after the end of the article. The number of times your wisdom, advice, support, and kindness – and that of others who comment here (thank you, all!) – has been saved in a file, emblazoned on a heart, and/or shared with a friend who needed to hear it, who has never even heard of CL/CN, cannot be underestimated – and even if that number were only “1” (and you’ve been thanked publicly in this column many more times than that !) – my goodness! – please let that be something you draw around you as both a shield and a comfort against those times when you, yourself, are tired or scared. I am pretty sure if you ever posted here, “Help, I need an army”, you’d be *astonished* at how fast your eyes would fill to the horizons, with the sea of people congregating to your side – though the people coming from other countries might need a little longer to show up ! Chump Nation is mighty and vast, and you are definitely responsible for some of that strength, and are well known here… and therefore probably also well known to the many *friends* of Chump Nation members, if not by name, at least by your support and advice.

  • I don’t think you ever get over the anger of an affair, you just learn how to manage it. If you’re split from the cheater you can turn the anger into meh eventually. If you’re going to stay, I think the anger will always be there in some form because you are hurt and anger is part of the defense cycle. I have friends who have stayed with their cheater spouses and they all say the same thing – their relationship just isn’t the same. I don’t think you can magically get over betrayal. It’s just too painful. I didn’t reconcile, but even after DDay when he was around for a month or so, I was ballistic every time I saw him on his phone. I just had no trust left. Big hugs to you- if you stay, I believe you have the burden of seeing him in a different way forever. I don’t think cheaters always cheat again, but I do think you will always have little doubts and that’s a hard way to live.

    • FormerlyKnownAs,

      I agree with you statement about cheaters do not always cheat again.

      One of my supports during my debacle was a woman who had cheated on her husband for a number of reasons that she was able to use as excuses at the time but she knew what she was doing was terribly wrong. That knowledge didn’t stop her and she did cheat and it lasted for awhile.

      Her husband or children never found out and, to this day, she has not told them.

      She ended the affair when the guilt got too much to bear – it was not ended because she realized she loved her husband. She ended it to assuage her own guilt. She is still married and stays because she believes it is the ‘right thing’ to do and to leave would cripple her financially plus she has abandonment issues and doesn’t want to face them.

      I understood her cheating BUT I have issues, my issues, about her staying as I still see it as ultimately selfish. Having been cheated on for decades I feel strongly that her husband deserves to know so that he can make a choice as to how he wants to live his life….unfortunately, he is in really bad physical shape now so that won’t happen.

      I am not close to that person anymore but I keep my mouth shut whenever we have contact. Her business, not mine.

      Things are complicated.

  • hey AJ,

    lots of great wisdom being shared on the blog!
    I wanted to add my two-cents! as my relationship with FW was breaking down, I had no idea of the infidelity. I felt angry all the time. It consumed my whole world. The only thing I was afraid of was that even after we would split up, I would remain this angry bitter person. I was so scared that FW had “changed” me into an unhappy bitter person.
    After the discard, I learned a lot about his infidelities (including several emotional affairs that occured right under my blissfully blind innocent eyes, culminating into a full-blown affair).
    It was as if a mask was pulled from my eyes.
    There was a lot of bitterness, sadness and anger because we separated in January 2020, lockdown started in February 2020, I was away from my whole family (living in a different continent) and FW was isolating with the OW.
    I was angry and bitter every day. I was convinced that I was doomed to stay this angry version of myself.

    It took about 6 months to stop being angry and return to a semblance of peace. to not cry in the office anymore, in the bathroom, on the tram, in my therapist’s office.
    It took one year to start to think about “meh”

    I am now 2 years out and Tuesday has arrived.
    I have lost my anger. I am back to the person I was, that I love. I love myself again.

    I just wanted to give you parallels between you and I. 2 years have elapsed for you, trying to fix your marriage. 2 years have passed for me, trying to move on.

    Moving on is much better than staying!
    As Chump Lady says: “Leave a cheater, gain a life!”

  • You don’t have to forgive. You don’t have to forget. Perhaps your husband is a real unicorn who deeply regrets betraying you. That doesn’t mean there is something wrong with you for not being able to let go of your anger. Imagine your husband only beat you up once, and then expressed extreme remorse and went to counseling and did everything he could to make amends. Would it be unreasonable for you to never trust him again? Affairs are abuse. Protect yourself and you will give your children the best possible life.

  • I remember reading a quote that said anger was the part of you that loves you and knows the abuse and mistreatment of you are unacceptable. If you’ve been made to feel bad for still being hurt over something like cheating (which can affect people for life in terms of trust issues among other things, and not just two years), your husband is likely not the unicorn you think he is. I would also echo getting a new therapist. I’ve been in a similar place like you, where I thought my partner was a unicorn and the stress and guilt for not being “over it” really got to me. It wasn’t worth it. The stress will definitely be something your kids won’t fail to observe either. I’d listen to that anger if I were you, it’s the part looking out for you.

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