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How Do You Get Out of Limbo?

unicorn_limboHi Chump Lady,

I need your advise desperately. I married at 30, had a fulling marriage for what would have been 30 years this past January, had my husband not had an almost 2-year affair at the 27th year.

I’ve been heartbroken since and have had a really hard time moving on. I still love my husband but I don’t like him much at all because of what he did to us, what he’s done to my world.

I’m 60 years old, and face for the first time a life alone. I have no living family members other than a grown son trying to find his own way at this time in his life.

My issue is, and it’s a biggie for me, I can’t see how in reconciliation how to really make love to my husband again after his junk has been with the other woman in our marriage. I asked him if it ever occurred to him that I just might not ever want his penis inside me again?

How to lay in his arms again, after he’s been with another?? Her in my place?? How to be there sexually with him again??

The way I see it, its a lose/lose for me. I lose the world I never thought I would, and if I choose to walk away because it’s just too hard for me to get past, then I am constantly reminded in my new world of why. I also feel it’s me that is now the one who has the responsibility of the family’s future in my hands.

In your experience, will this world of mine ever get better? It’s been almost 3 years, we have been living separately, but in contact 24/7, he comes into the home a few times a month, checks on things, we sleep in separate bedrooms, and he very, very much wants the marriage to survive. He is doing all the right things though, and the marriage counselor keeps telling me, look, he’s stuck around this long… (Wow!!! Aren’t I lucky?!)

How do you get out of limbo in a marriage after an affair?

My life has been nothing short than pure hell. What’s your take, and how besides feeling like a complete failure do I come to terms with hurting the one I had no intentions of ever hurting?


Dear Susan,

Marriage? What marriage? You don’t live together. You don’t have sex. You don’t trust him. And you don’t like him very much. You can rake your own leaves and check your own smoke alarm, Susan. Put a bullet in the thing already and be done with it.

Forgive my bluntness, but you’ve been grieving over a dead thing for three years, it’s time to accept that it is dead and move on. Your marriage counselor is a nitwit — “he’s stuck around this long” is NOT repairing his marriage. Barnacles stick around too, but they don’t improve the shipping experience.

Your husband has cake. He doesn’t want to lose cake. Cake is not the same thing as a marriage. Living apart from you, he’s got unfettered access to the OW and anyone else. I sincerely doubt he’s gone three years without sex the way you have. No, this arrangement suits him very nicely. He drops in “a few times a month” — yeah, what woman wouldn’t thrill to that kind of attention?

I assume your husband is also in his 60s. He’s not going to find another Susan with 30 years of husband-care under her belt. Other women are fine for sex and romantic whatevers, but they tend not to want to change your bed pan, or schedule your doctor’s appointments. And by 60, he probably has a pretty nice chunk of retirement savings — why share? Why not just keep you around? He doesn’t really care that you don’t like him much or have sex with him, because he doesn’t divorce you. You’re of use to him. You’re a soft place to land. You’re his once and future caretaker.

Would you prefer the narrative that he sticks around because he feels very guilty, still loves you, and wants to fix this? Yet YOU are the problem, because you just can’t get over it? And YOU are the problem because if you leave it will be YOU breaking up your family? Yeah, I’m sure that’s the narrative he’s selling. Or at least letting you believe, if you’re dreaming that shit up yourself.

If he felt guilty — he didn’t feel guilty enough not to cheat on you for two solid years (and probably now). If he felt guilty, he didn’t feel guilty enough to give you an out — a generous divorce settlement and a heart-felt apology. If he loved you, he wouldn’t put you in this position and he certainly wouldn’t blameshift HIS failure on to you. And if he wanted to fix it, he wouldn’t live apart from you.

My life has been nothing short than pure hell.

Why would you stick around for more hell? Something needs to change here, Susan, and he’s made it clear through this actions it will not be him. It needs to be YOU. Stop focusing on him, and put the focus back on yourself. Dare to imagine a life that is not “pure hell” and dare to imagine a life without him in it.

Your situation is not lose/lose. Thinking it is lose/lose keeps you in limbo. You’ve got a case of learned helplessness because you feel that whatever you do, all outcomes suck equally, so why move at all? It’s time to recognize your agency, that you control your life’s story, and you can write a better ending.

If I choose to walk away because it’s just too hard for me to get past, then I am constantly reminded in my new world of why.

Yeah, you’ll be reminded of your self worth. That you left a marriage of “pure hell.” You’ll be reminded of your bravery and your self respect.

You’ll only think you’re a failure if you allow yourself to think HIS failure is YOUR failure. He cheated. He broke up the marriage. He robbed you of that intact family. You didn’t do this to yourself, it was inflicted upon you. It sucks. We’ve all been there. You only get to control how you respond to this.

You can do as you’re doing — stay in limbo (aka “pure hell”). Or you can divorce him — and enter a new world of possibilities. Personally, I prefer the captain my own ship option. The one where your mental state isn’t depending on what a fuckwit does or does not do. Go find out who Susan is, who she was before she was wife and mother, before this whole mess happened. What makes her happy? Go invest in THAT person and listen to her. Cheating was a deal breaker for her. She can’t be intimate with someone who betrayed her. She doesn’t feel safe in her marriage. She wants out. She’s screaming at you to bust a move.

So bust one. I think you’ll find you feel a hell of a lot better after you do.

This one ran previously.

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  • Speaking from the deck and from the perspective of someone who was terrified to go it alone, being the captain of your own ship is pretty awesome.

    • Much better than handcuffing yourself to the railing of the sinking ship, which is what reconciliation actually is. This limbo is just prolonging the inevitable drowning death. The only way to live and breathe a happy life is to uncuff yourself from the cheater. We all deserve much better than them.

    • I remember being so terrified. Mostly of the unknown, but also of the shame of “breaking up the family.” Reading all the mighty “meh” stories on here really helped me get past that. All these former chumps aren’t just surviving…they’re having AMAZING lives where nobody who they don’t trust lives in their house! And their families didn’t disown them or anything, everybody just understood a divorce happened and that was that!

      • You didn’t break up the family! Unless the FW is completely repentant and changes his/her ways fully and completely, you did the right thing.

        My story is not the same. My wife of 15 years left for a younger model of me after i caught her red handed. She did leave the family. She still tries to play the part of a good Mom but she continues to live a lie by not telling the kids that she is basically living with the OG.

        We dropped by to pick up something over the weekend and saw the OG in the window. I called to tell her we were outside and then watched the rat as he ran upstairs to hide.

        Anyways, kids know who is in the right.

  • Staying in limbo does nothing but rob you of a happy life. I’m 53 this year and next month will be 29 years of marriage. My fucktwit had and emotional affair at year 26, then went back to her several months later and carried on a 2 year affair. I’m only still married as I’m saving up for the divorce filing. I felt tremendously better just making the decision. You need to stop the power he has over you. You can get free or extremely cheap legal advice. Look up pro bono for divorce. Start your own checking account in a completely different bank than your joint accounts. Set some clear boundaries. Just because he’s in the same house doesn’t mean he can do whatever he wants.
    You have the right to privacy. Start living exactly like roommates, if your still keeping track of appointments and prescriptions STOP. He’s very capable of carrying on an affair, lying, keeping secrets, he’s also capable of taking care of anything you still do for him.
    Some days are better than others, but the more independence you gain, the better you will feel and the more confidence you will gain. REMEMBER, he had no problem putting your health and life in danger by having sex with others. He didn’t give that a second thought. Also, did you know HPV can only be detected by a pap smear along with a couple other STDS. You need to make a gyno appointment if you haven’t done so already and tell them you have discovered your husband’s affair. They will do a full workup. It’s time to think about and take care of nothing but YOU!!

  • YOU CAN DO IT,! 5 years of pick me dancing, I’m finally selling the house and moving on. My pumpkin eater would have been happy for me to stay here while he kept me very well, while he had the OW, the sportscar, tattoo etc. I’m moving in with my elderly parents for a while which will be good for them and me but have a good lawyer so planning on getting my own special place. Married at 19 and three kids by 26 it’s my turn. Found a job I love, it took a while but time DOES HEAL! Fuck him off, it’s the only way. I’m 53 and finally feeling awesome ????

    • It took me 33 years to leave a serial cheater. By the time I was finally able to free myself I only vaguely resembled myself. The indecision, anxiety and depression caused by the abuse of infidelity nearly ended me. Like Susan I was married to an evil fucker who was perfectly happy remaining married while he fucked around. Until he wasn’t and his cruelties and abuse escalated. I left before I before I was the victim of a gun cleaning accident.

      I really hope Susan left. Leaving was hard. I have struggled. It has been rough. Staying wasn’t an option once he pulled a gun out of the gun safe as we argued. Filing was the logical choice after he brandished a weapon.

      Now I am so relieved to be free from that Fuckface. I finally have some money. I believe the Judge will force him to pay me what he owes me. I believe the Judge will not be amused by Fuckface’s refusal to obey his order.

      Life is better free of Fuckface. My credit score steadily rises. I make choices that benefit me. I live the way I want too. I am not being abused. I chose me. I hope Susan managed to choose herself and free herself from the abuse.

      • Although most of us aren’t shocked out of limbo in the dramatic way you were–and kudos to you for seeing just how threatening a gesture that was and taking immediate action!–I do think what finally jars some of us into leaving is an egregious act or statement that is the last straw in a pile of them that finally breaks the camel’s back of our denial, or hesitation, or bargaining, or fear. The fear of being alone suddenly becomes more bearable when it’s weighed against the good possibility that your spouse might kill you!

        That “last straw” can be like yours, a threat on your life so clear that it can’t be ignored, denied, or spackled over, or, as with me, it can be a statement of entitlement so outrageous that it sums up for all time the disrespect and makes clear that there is no “fixing this,” and only the prospect of more, a remark he made only after I’d spent some years on Chump Lady and on the forum of the Straight Spouse Network listening to the tales and wisdom of others, and learning from the examples and actions of others, and from CL herself about disordered personalities and character. From Chump Nation, I learned to understand the mindfuck I was subjected to, to reframe my situation, and that I was worth more than decades of devaluing had convinced me I was worth. At a certain point, the scales of “can I bear this?” and “can I stay” tipped, and I realized that not only could I not “bear this,” and not only was there no reason to do so, but there was also an imperative–my self-respect, my self-esteen, my psychological and physical health, my life!–not to do so. I divorced at age 65, after a limbo of three years; I am SO GLAD I did.

        To get out of limbo, in my opinion, takes a combination of support and knowledge, which allows us to rethink how we are weighing our options. I hope Susan divorced that cake-eating Dementor she was married to before he sucked all the life right out of her.

        • Adelante, I’m somewhat new here. I’m always drawn to your posts and today I know why. I left at age 61, after an “egregious act.” There were many others horrible abusive acts, but the last one was the 30-year event that broke everything open. I still can’t imagine the strength and guts it took for me to escape. No one gets it unless you’ve lived it. Anyway, just wanted to thank you for articulating my situation. Gives me hope to know you left at 65 and that you now know you “are worth more than decades of devaluing.” Yes to that.

        • Adelante- your words ring true. Entitlement, egregious disrespect and chronic gaslighting are another form of cheating-cheating you out of having emotional safety in your life.
          I’m older yet than you and I too left after disrespectful words and actions broke through the daily denial and hopium habit.

          When your mental life is controlled by someone who is doling out crumbs- it keeps you living on a starvation diet, which is addicting because you always need more crappy crumbs just to survive and maintains the pick-me dance. Think about it Susan and others going through this….
          and imagine breaking free.

      • OMG that’s terrifying. So glad you got out of that safely! Mine’s nowhere close to that bad, but I was still hanging on to a little hopium, living as roommates but hoping something would change, when he broke into my locked bedroom while I was asleep. “Just to get something he needed,” he said when caught. But yeah he could have done anything to me, and that was not okay and I was ready to go immediately. It shouldn’t have taken something like that. All his behavior and statements let me know that I was an obstacle to his happiness with schmoopies already, but sometimes it takes a shock like that to really drive it home, I guess.

  • Susan, very sorry this this long drawn out hell has been going on for you. The problem is you think you can still get this back to where it was years ago. Please put those thoughts out of you mind. Get out of the hope and the RIC. No one can make this work and your cheater is not a are still serving him cake as an appliance. Stop this. I know it is hard but once you make the decision to get the FW out of your life, you will be starting to control your life. I am in the middle of the divorce process now and it sucks! I Am in control though and I have taken my power back. I am doing what I have to for me, my son (25) and my future. Yes, it will be hell but a worse hell is living with someone who violates your boundaries and cannot be trusted. Don’t let him steal your life from you, get a lawyer and rid yourself of a FW. He is showing you who and what he is and he sucks! As I like to say stop serving him delicious cake and feed him some bitter divorce papers. Go no contact, work through a process which is hell but will end eventually and get out of this limbo. I am fighting through the process but I know at the end of it, I will be free of a FW.

  • I hope the OP has moved beyond limbo – it’s a terrible place to be.

    Her letter provided insight into her perception of her situation. She was almost completely focused on whether to resume sexual relations with her husband and seemed to accept his current actions which were inconsistent with her needs/healing. I guess that’s what the RIC does.

    The best way out of limbo is a support team including an individual therapist, a lawyer, a walking partner, a spiritual/mindfulness program, etc. Knowledge is power.

    • RIC therapists are the absolute worst. If you went to any other kind of family therapy and said “This person who lives in my house has had a total change of personality and is acting out in ways that hurt the other family members,” the therapist would be like, okay let’s find out what’s at the root of this harmful behavior. But in RIC, it’s assumed that the reason for the behavior is twu wuv, which no one can question or judge, so the only thing to do is to get you to accept that wuv happens, and maybe you should have upped your game.

  • The poster is alone 25 or 26 days of the month already? And her ‘husband’ is getting laid elsewhere.

    Years ago my cousin’s husband developed a painful boil on his d*ck. 3 doctors could not help the problem. Creams, pills, shots etc. Finally HE used a razor and cut the damn thing off. It hurt like holy hell to do this.

    But he finally got rid of the damn thing and the area was able to heal

    I think you can see where I am going with this. You’ll never heal while married to a boil.

    You can’t avoid pain. But a clean break will be the path to peace and integrity.

    *this is not medical advice lol

    • it would be fun medical advice to give to the cheater. “I saw it on a blog on the internet” is good enough for many people these days.

  • Dang Susan

    I’m sorry this is happening to you. I’m 64 married 35 years. I’m not yet divorced but getting closer. It sucks that he turned out to be such a selfish turd and now I’m on my own. I have children and two grandchildren that I see often. I’m very lonely at times and then sometimes peaceful. I still work, have a few friends I’ve started painting again and taking classes. Covid has made moving on a challenge. There is no going back. I have no interest in his adolescent outlook on life which includes dangerous behavior. STD test in your 60’s is ridiculous.

    My mom was widowed at 57, my mother-in-law in her late 60’s. So I have a few models of resilience. The thing missing is the social sympathy and getting to mourn a shared life well lived.

    So kick him to the curb. Get three cats or a couple dogs. Drink out of the milk carton, plan a trip, sleep in your clothes, wear ugly underwear, no makeup, too much makeup, sell all your furniture and sit on cushions. Be sad when you are sad, happy when you are happy. You get to chose. You will be lonely at times but I bet you feel that way now. You can’t stay. He made that decision. So go make some of your own decisions.

    • Spoon River… I love this:
      “So kick him to the curb. Get three cats or a couple dogs. Drink out of the milk carton, plan a trip, sleep in your clothes, wear ugly underwear, no makeup, too much makeup, sell all your furniture and sit on cushions. Be sad when you are sad, happy when you are happy. You get to chose. You will be lonely at times but I bet you feel that way now. You can’t stay. He made that decision. So go make some of your own decisions.”
      This is a true window into a life without a lying sneaking cheat.
      I would say getting your financial stuff in order is the most frightening aspect of changing your life, but if you’ve got that together – run, and don’t look back.
      I too was afraid of being alone. Was I wrong!
      It’s great! I feel like I can take deep breath’s again.
      I also believe part of the limbo state is sleep deprivation. Not getting any sleep for 3 months made me feel crazy and unable to move forward.
      It would be nice to hear back from OP and see how it turned out for her.

    • Spoonriver, you are MIGHTY! I love this response. I got my own place, bought a second horse (“divorce horse” I call him), added a puppy to my older dog. Bottom line, I am doing exactly what I want to do and living MY dream. Am I lonely sometimes? Sure, but any time I’m wistful, I just think back to the PTSD that was living with X and I’m ok with peaceful and lonely.

  • I’m also in limbo, smoking hopium, hoping I have a unicorn. I’m so confused. My marriage wasn’t perfect but it felt safe and happy to me. There was so much good – so much love. 3 happy children. When I found out, by chance, that he had an 8 year affair going on (with vacations too) I almost died. Literally. My heart still feels damaged beyond repair and I’m stuck in the mental space of only wanting relief from the pain. I kicked him out right away. I have a lawyer. Im doing all of the right things. But I’m so stuck. 5 months in. Im so unbearably sad and I want him back desperately. AND I’m so ashamed of this. He’s doing everything right at this point. It’s so tempting to just get some relief from the heartache. Im worried I’m making a huge mistake by ending it. Help help help!!!
    My heart and brain are at war.

    • LA lady, yes being in the process sucks. I am there too but I practice a lot of self care to include volunteering to keep my busy in addition to work, exercise and so on. Put down the hopium pipe, the chance of your having a unicorn are less than those of winning the lottery. What has he done to make you believe he is doing the right things to save your marriage. Look at the actions and not the word salad. His remorse is probably coming from knowing that he will have to split the assets with you and he doesn’t like consequences. He cheated on you for eight years! He doesn’t want you, he wants cake served by you and OW.
      It is hard right now. I know this but trust that he is a liar and a cheat and be kind to yourself. Listen to your head right now because a divorce is pretty much down to splitting a business. Would you really want to live with a cheater just so you will not be alone? There are others worthy of your love, find it in volunteer work. Work with kids or seniors. Many seniors would love company and someone to talk to or take them for a slow walk or just sit outside. Focus on you and a life without a cheater.

    • LA Lady, your story is similar to mine, but I’m a year farther in – finally divorced. It is HARD to make decisions that so greatly change your future and cause you to lose the one you had all planned out.
      My ex also was “doing everything right” during wreckoncilliation. Except he wasn’t, he just had more than a decade of practice at hiding his double life, and he got better at hiding it when he needed to. Being marriage police stinks.
      Is he really doing everything right, or are you still spackling? For example, my ex was still gaslighting me when he “dumped” his girlfriend of 10 years via text. I had insisted it be a phone call, and I be allowed to listen in. He made very plausible excuses as to why it should be a text instead. Of course he then manipulated everything so I thought he had dumped her, but a year later, he is probably still with her (grey rock. I don’t know for sure.) I can give you many other examples of him acting remorseful, and they were all fake. I listened to RIC rhetoric and I continued to spackle.
      Unfortunately, I couldn’t see those inconsistencies at the time I was experiencing them. That’s what makes this so hard!! But you will look back and start to see the truth. I think the vacations are the prime example smacking you in the face: someone who has any respect for you or your relationship does not also take OW to an all inclusive resort while you stay home making sure the trains run on time. You can’t spackle those vacations away, and that HURTS!
      He has given you plenty of evidence that he sucks. Now he is trying to counteract it with a smattering of “good behavior.” Of course you want to believe the good side. It sucks, I’m so sorry you have to deal with it.
      I don’t know that I can say anything of any consolation or encouragement, but I know the feeling of being cheated on for so very long, of holding on hope for “our future” and of the fear and pain of letting it all go. It’s not fair that his selfish actions now play out their painful consequences on you. ((Hugs))

      • But but but!!! I’m different! He’s different! We’re different! This is where my brain goes and I know it’s crazy. I know.

        The rationalization I’m doing is not logical but I can’t seem to get a grip on myself. The pain of losing the future I cherished AND the past I thought I had, all of the memories I thought were happy.

        I’m actually crying in his arms. I’m actually doing that! I’m calling him up for comfort. I’m ashamed of that. I have friends. I’m in therapy. I doing it all but I can’t get a grip and all I want is him.

        I know: the vacations, the length. But he’s needy! It was inertia! It was his FOO story (really bad of course)!

        I know

        The truth is I still love him so much. I wish I didn’t. I really do. I’m a strong, amazing, beautiful, talented woman. It’s hard (so effing hard!) to wrap my head around the fact that I’ve been in an abusive relationship. I can’t let myself believe it yet.

        I know time will help. I just wish I was a smart as I’m pretending to be!

        I appreciate all of the responses here so much!

        • LA lady, think of your feelings about him the way you would think of an optical illusion or a magic trick. You know that the lady isn’t cut in half even though your eyes are telling you that she is, because the trick manipulates the way your vision works. You can’t ‘know’ your eyes into seeing differently. But you also don’t jump up in the middle of the magic show to call 911 and report a lady having been murdered by being sawn in half, right?

          With your STBX, you KNOW that he didn’t really love you and lied to you for (at least) one affair. But that knowledge isn’t changing your long-standing feelings for him, because that’s how your heart works.

          Trust that your heart is being tricked by this man, just like a professional magician tricks your eyes. Let yourself feel whatever you feel, but act on what you KNOW to be true, even if you don’t feel it. Your heart will catch up.

        • Please put the shame aside – it’s not yours to carry. It’s very normal to feel the way you feel, look into trauma bonding. Been there, done that. I know you feel you still love him, but which him do you love? The mirage that he/you created? Or the man who knew what he was doing and how much it would destroy you for EIGHT YEARS, and did it anyway? Who looked you in the eye for EIGHT YEARS and lied to you? If he’s truly remorseful, as CL says, let him work out a generous settlement, show by his actions that he is truly sorry. If he’s anything like mine, the “remorse” might evaporate when it comes to equitably splitting assets.

          It’s grief, it’s a process, please allow yourself all the grace you need. There is no shame.

        • I love that you wrote “ I’m a strong, amazing, beautiful, talented woman.” Good for you! You recognize your own value. Now add to it: “and I deserve to be treated as valuable.”

          Smart doesn’t have anything to do with it. Plenty of brilliant people are also chumps.

          LA lady, I don’t think you have anything to be ashamed of. It took me a year post DDay to accept the fact that our marriage wasn’t salvageable and start the divorce process. He was so charming! A great dad! Fun to be around! We had everything- great kids, friends, a brand new house, a bright future. And I loved him, and I didn’t want to give that all up. I was a puddle of tears for a long time. I’m not ashamed of any of that time. I needed it.

          I’m happy it took me a year. While it was hell, I learned so much, was able to process a lot, and got the assurance I needed that I was making the right decision. If I had just up and divorced him right at D-Day, I would only have had a fraction of the clarity I have now about how much I was lied to or who he really was. And that knowledge is my rock now.

          Take the time you need, as long as you’re not in danger. It’s easy for those of us who have been through it to say “it’s so much better on the other side, trust us! Join us!” But you’re in a hard place, and while there is good on the other side, you need to get there in your own time, whatever that looks like. We will be here along the way for you!

          • TruthBeTold – Love, love, love your reply. I’ve been married to a “charming, fun-to-be-around, great dad” too. It’s taken me almost three years to choose the path of divorce. I appreciate your generous, gracious words here. “Take the time you need, as long as you’re not in danger.” No shame. Thank you.

        • LA lady

          He’s possibly doing what looks and feels right. But he changed your relationship without your permission. Family decisions should be done by consensus. He took that away. No matter what you want, he changed your future, and rewrote the past. Therapy doesn’t change that. NOTHING changes that.

          The worst thing in the world isn’t being alone, without a partner. The worst thing is being with someone that doesn’t value you, that sees you as a means to get his rocks off by deceiving you. Because that’s part of it – sneaking around for 8 years(!) is part of the excitement. He gets off by betraying you.

          Right now you’re using him for comfort, because that’s what you’re used to. And he loves that. Staying married is what’s best for HIM, and the affair was all about HIM. He’s got all the cake, and your life is upturned. Discovery also ruined the excitement of deception for him. YOU ARE ENOUGH. YOU ARE NOT “just” a wife. You are a person of value. Would you want your daughter to have this kind of relationship?

          The hardest thing I ever did was divorce my narcissist husband. Met the FW after, so dumping him after d-day was comparatively easy to the divorce. I was heartbroken, but sure of my own value.

          Quick background on my story: I was engaged and FW was living in my house. On D-day I kicked him out. I knew I could never have sex with him again (like Susan, the letter writer). I knew I would never trust him again and that I didn’t want to spend my life policing him.

          Before I blocked him, he was doing the work to prove he was remorseful and changed. He let me spew my rage at him. He gave me enough details to satisfy my curiosity. He saw how broken I was.

          This was the first time in his life of cheating (on his taxes, on his ex-wife etc) that he ever got consequences. And those consequences hurt him.

          He met a new victim, moved in with her, And told me he will never cheat on her. That may very well be true, finally, for him. But it took cheating on me, and the consequences I gave, for him to get to that point. He admitted that, and that betraying me was his salvation.

          So fucking me over was good for him.

          He’s blocked completely.

        • Dear LA. You are still in love with the person that you thought he was. He has shown you that he is not that person (an eight year affair?). I keep this on my phone: “The reality is, I truly didn’t love my ex, although I loved him hard. I loved who I painted him to be. I loved the idea of “us” and what he could become. If I had accepted him for who he really was, I wouldn’t have loved him at all”.
          Also, being alone is so much better than the loneliness you feel while he is there (separate beds)!

        • Well I thought my xh had made a mistake. I forgave him. I wasted 5 more years and he just got stealthier and bolder. I was so naïve that I thought his teaching partner was married so he couldn’t be sleeping with her (because I can’t imagine ever doing this).

          I didn’t cry in his arms but I did forgive. During Dday 2 I was shell shocked and paralyzed. I think I knew it was done but I felt it was the end of “my family “. I like my family of 3 much better now (no longer walking on eggshells).

          When I started to realize the depth of his betrayal all my love for him turned to hate (probably too strong but definitely contempt).

          I would never ever be with him again but the sad fact is we can’t unlearn how cruel an intimate partner can be. Many others have no idea.

        • LA lady I am 3 months ahead of you but STBX wants nothing to do with reconciliation and that is a blessing because the path for me is chosen. Hell it is painful and I am losing an incredible amount materially aside from all the emotional shit like my family and my past. I am sure everyone on this site wishes it never happened, but unfortunately it did.
          The only thing of value I heard from affair apologist Esther Perel say is that once there has been infidelity the marriage you knew is over. The trust has been broken. The rest of what she says I don’t agree with. Listen to the Chumplady and CN

        • Do you know how much he’s loving that you’re asking HIM for comfort, for the agony that HE is causing you? So many years of deceiving you, fooling you, deliberate decisions to lie to you; that means that he has no regard for your well-being and no respect for you. And you are handing more kibbles to him. He is loving the power kick, that he can destroy your world and then be the only thing that can comfort you. You are just a puppet for him in his power fantasy. Please, please value, love and respect yourself and cut the cord. He will never become a better man, you will never feel better, life will never get better until you love yourself the way he should have and free yourself. He’ll never do it because he loves to use you this way. Sweetheart Chump Nation is with you, please treat yourself with the respect you deserve ❤

    • 8 years? With vacations?

      I’m sorry but someone capable of that is not going to change.

      He will 100% have another affair.

      You need to get out right now and start building the rest of your life, all you are doing is delaying that process by 1 or 5 or 15 years.

      • Yep. I agree with Ragingmeh. HE WILL NOT CHANGE. My asshat lived a secret life for over 3 decades! And I’m not that dumb. But he was very skilled at hiding himself and a master at manipulation, gaslighting. I WAS raised on a farm in the country, was trusting and loyal beyond reason, this is true. Add FOO issues in the mix and I was a perfect target. You are much, much stronger than you think. I was a stay at home do EVERYTHING wife, no children (my choice, too much mental illness in my family of origin). Worked full time until I realized he wasn’t going to do ANYTHING at home. Part time later until my older family members began to need care, I stepped in. So I’m 67 and getting my lifeguard training to get free membership at the YMCA and a part time job! I am resourceful, growing up poor was a blessing. Selling the martial home, renting a small place in same community I’ve been in for 40 years. Planting a new garden, figuratively and literally. Income will be low but I will be free to surround myself with people who don’t act like aliens from another planet. I AM MIGHTY, on my good days☝️. Time will heal anything. Trust this. We are all inChump Nation doing it together. U CAN DO THIS????

    • I think a lot of us have felt as you feel. Our marriages weren’t perfect, but they felt “safe and happy.” The thing is, we only thought our marriages were safe, and our happiness was founded on our partner’s lies. Once we incorporate (and I mean that word in its full sense, of not only understanding intellectually but feeling it in your body) these two truths–that we weren’t and aren’t safe, and our happiness was a mirage–leaving is possible.

      What you feel right now is the next step in the process. It’s hard to give up the life you had and the image of the man you thought your spouse was. You want your life back, and you conceptualize that life in the person of your spouse. But that person was not safe, and he’s not trustworthy. All the love you felt? It was yours. His was feigned. He’s a man who had an eight-year affair! And now for a few months he’s “doing everything right”? More likely, he’s hoping to avoid the financial consequences for his actions that a divorce will deliver.

      Five months is very early, even though it doesn’t feel like it. Keep going; it gets easier, and it get better–and better. The divorce is hard, but when you get the final decree you also will enter a new stage of healing.

      You are not making a mistake to divorce your cheating husband. You would be making a mistake not to.

      • I second what Adelante said, and I agree with Ragingmeh- 8 years with vacations says a lot about what he is, and is not, capable of. LA lady, you’re doing the right thing!

        (I left a reply that is evidently now awaiting moderation? But Adelante’s response is better anyway!)

    • The “Safe and Happy” were an illusion he kept going so he could have cake. What you experienced was/is ABUSE. Period. Read this, please.

      Also, it wasn’t just the affair. It was years of lies, thousands of secret texts/emails, probably secret accounts, money spent on the OW, and blatant devaluing of YOU.

      He got away with it for 8 years. He will try again. Do you really want to spend the rest of your life policing your marriage? Suffering triggers and flashbacks at his hands? My guess is you have much better things to do with your time.

    • LA Lady, it takes a while to understand the position you’ve been put in by the cheater. Chump Lady’s book is required reading.
      I’ve read everything I can over the years- and the other one I recommend full of facts and even surveys of chumps, that is really validating of our experiences and lives is: Cheating, in a Nutshell: What Infidelity Does to The Victim

      Good luck with mobilizing!! You can do it,

      • Cheating, In a Nutshell was extremely helpful for me in processing the new reality. After DDay I wanted to pull the covers back over and go back to my dream. The Nutshell book and ChumpLady’s book both helped me understand that my old life was a dream that wasn’t coming back.
        20+ years of marriage and three kids, all still under 18. I am having to do some careful planning since I also strongly suspect that FW has a good amount of narcissistic and/or borderline personality disorder that will make the split even worse.

    • 8 years??? Oh no no no, LA Lady. Him only “doing everything right” now for just 5 months is not even scratching the surface. Fucker basically had another full blown relationship.

      Time to start paving your own way to safety and happiness. Direct that love toward yourself now. The husband you thought you knew is not who he is now.

    • You can let your head win the war. You just have to resign yourself to going through the pain. 5 months is not nearly enough time to heal. It took me 18 months to even start feeling better. It sucks, but stick it out and don’t give in. He is not a unicorn. For 8 years he lied, callously abused your trust, and used you as a front to hide his dysfunction. Decent people just can’t do that. It’s terribly hard to accept that your life partner is just no good. We all understand that.

      Please keep coming here for support and see a therapist if need be. You deserve so much better than a fake life with the likes of him. ????

    • He had an 8 year affair and that included vacations…

      Yet you think you may be making a mistake?

      You can miss the mirage of him, but IMO you need to read more CL articles lol

    • Some cheaters are capable of showing up in their marriage as a loving, devoted spouse, while simultaneously carrying on multi-year affairs. You say he’s doing everything right at this point. *As far as you know* he’s doing everything right, but let’s face it, he was cheating for 8 years (that you know of) and you had no clue.
      I’m not blaming you, LA lady, I’m simply saying some cheaters are That Good.
      And even if you do have a unicorn, even if he never cheats on you again (not that anyone can know for sure) he will always be the guy who lied to you daily for 8 years. Do you want to stay married to that guy?
      Don’t seek healing from the oneswho hurt you.

    • I now actually have AFib from the stress.

      What I had was a MIRAGE, not a MARRIAGE.

      Who I thought he was does not exist. It was a story I told myself about who he was. The women he was having affairs with are telling themselves a story about who he is too, btw.

      Only with time and distance and no contact (minimal contact if you have kids), lots of therapy after DDay by myself (which has been part of my life by myself since 1985 and part of my entire 27 years with him), no drugs/alcohol/cigarettes/mind altering substances/ etc in my case, does this come to light, did the denial break and heart and head synchronize.

      I actually thought I had married Me. Nice Guy….lots of people think he is Mr. Nice Guy. Now I call him Traitor X or Benedict OJ Madoff.
      Eight years, with vacations? Eight days eight weeks eight months eight years means he is a con artist who has a secret double life. Think of yourself like a BERNIE MADOFF victim.

    • LA Lady- keep reading CL and read LACGAL….see what happens. Give yourself time and space.
      Do not be ashamed..!!
      Wanting to return to the life you had is altogether normal. Hoping for a unicorn is too. If he is you will know because he will make it better for you and your sense of self respect will be a barometer.
      Let there be both options and allow yourself to picture both outcomes.

    • LA Lady, you’re traumatized, rightly so. I believe it when you state “there was so much good, so much love…” If it’s any consolation, I’m going to jump on board with the others who believe you’re doing the right thing by divorcing him. Now you must walk through the pain, there’s no other way around it.

      While you’re still in limbo and smoking hopium, keep your mind open to seeing things more clearly or from a different perspective. If your husband had an 8-year affair that’s not an “oops, I made a mistake,” it’s a deliberate, well-planned, well-strategized separate life outside of your marriage. It takes time, effort and desire to keep another relationship going for that extended time. At the very least, he may have given you stretches of love and affection, but you got a diluted version of him. The other woman got some of the love, physical affection, time, and resources that should have been yours and yours alone.

      Somewhere along the line, or perhaps from the very beginning there may have been a different mindset and philosophy when it comes to marriage, or at least a traditional marriage which you seemed to have placed your heart and trust. In some cultures, it’s “accepted” that a man will have a mistress along with a wife and children. (Remember “Good Fellas”? Friday night is for the girlfriends, Saturday night, the wives.) In some extremes, they have two separate families. Now I know that’s not you, and it’s not me. And it’s not any of the chumps on this board otherwise we wouldn’t be chumps.

      Even if your husband rolls over and plays Unicorn, swears his abiding love for you, promises never again to have a second surrogate wifey-type whom he lavishes with beach-front hotel suites paid for from your shared marital assets, the foundation has already been set. He got away with it for 8 years, it’s part of his thinking. For 8 years, he thought it was perfectly acceptable to make love to another woman – then to you – take another woman on vacation – then you and your kids – and play an alternate universe version of house. He got away with it. Almost.

      If it helps, concentrate on the amount of time his affair lasted, if indeed that’s the truth and if she was the only one. Remember—it was deliberate. It was well-planned. This was not one drunken misstep at an office holiday party, this was a separate time-consuming relationship. A double life. Someone will always get the shorter end of the stick. He splits himself; he splits his affection with it, he splits his dedication. He’s not truthful because if he were, he would have said to you, “LA, I’d like to have an open relationship like Sister Wives. I’ll see my other woman Tuesday, Thursday and Friday and you and the kids the rest of the week. Whadya think?” He didn’t do that. He was clandestine. For 8 YEARS.

      This is not a man who will give you a 100% version of himself if heaven forbid you had to deal with a life-threatening illness or any other serious life issue that can happen. I know you’re in pain, but know, deep within your heart, you deserve more. You deserve 100% of a husband committed to you and only you. I wish you all the best. Love yourself first.

      • So much truth in this post.

        “but you got a diluted version of him. ”

        Stands out, and I think many of us have temp hopium because we just don’t want this to be true, and if it is true we want it to be for another reason, so we can fix it. Or as the common phrase is “we want it to be one thing, but it is another”.

        I am so grateful there is no pill or procedure we can get to wipe out specific memories, because if there were I would have used it, and many chumps would while in the midst of searing pain; especially at the behest of the cheater who still needs to use us.

        • “Stands out, and I think many of us have temp hopium because we just don’t want this to be true, and if it is true we want it to be for another reason, so we can fix it. Or as the common phrase is “we want it to be one thing, but it is another”.

          So well-stated. It is brutal to break the yearning for a “happy family.” Who doesn’t want the happy family or to be the perfect parent? Fiction and fantasy, as well as the idea that somehow we can cover it all up and fix-it to get our needs met from a completely dysfunctional and disordered other. These patterns run deep. I hope and pray that the “searing pain” might ebb one day. Sigh.

        • I agree about the pill! Talk about rinse and repeat. Have you seen Westworld? Sometimes, I think chumps live like the AI in that series.

          We’ve established that it doesn’t matter how sparkly, Gumby, zen, bombproof, perfect a chump is. Many of us do and did forgive and forget a smorgasbord of unthinkable abuses. Reconciliation relies upon *mutual* respect, honesty, compassion, affection, maturity and equality. This is why reconciliation is only a fantasy, why recovered cheaters are unicorns. It’s not that we chumps can’t forgive/forget; it’s that the cheaters can’t become better people. We didn’t cause it, and we can’t fix it – not even with self-effacing love and loyalty. One-way love DOES NOT conquer all.

  • Susan
    After 35 years of being married I started seeing red flags
    which I partially ignored. I finally caught them together after marriage policing for two years. Now after 5 years
    I’m on my own, divorced, financially strapped & lonely.
    But I don’t have the pain of being discarded so cruelly
    anymore. Being replaced after a lifetime of living with the man I loved to this day I realize I’m better off. He’s living with a second OW being content & taken care of.
    Is it unfair? Yes it is. It wasn’t my fault that he cheated & destroyed the marriage but I rather be alone with my self respect living an honest life
    You have to regain your strength & rid this disgusting user in your life. He is trash , CL is right he’s using you & probably still sleeping around. You can do it!
    See a lawyer & divorce him. Your mental & emotional health is at risk Everyone here has gone through this in one way or another. You can better your life if you stay strong. I’m in my seventies now & wish I threw him out year’s ago. Find your worth ????

  • I can totally relate to this.i feel in limbo,too.i found out 2years ago,that my whole marriage was shambles.20years married and soo much cheating from day one.and I didn’t realise.till I was dumped and he disappeared.
    I understand to be fearful and I would like to focus on myself.i found a new job,a new house in a different country and I am just packing boxes to move .
    I am frightened of my new life,I have been married before and know it’s not my failure.but I have to forgive myself for being that stupid again.
    I hope Susan has decided to live her own life,if this is established the rest will follow.i have decided to work on my new dream and life.

    • That does sound like a big move/change for you, Mitzi. But there’s a saying – bravery isn’t the absence of fear, it’s acting in spite of it (well, something like that – I’m good at butchering proverbs and stuff!)

      • I think maybe it is, “Bravery does not mean one is not afraid. It means being afraid and doing it anyway.” But maybe I mangled it, too. One of my favorite sayings that I never remember correctly!

      • Shintoga, thanks for your kind words. I am on my way out, but I still have that figment in front of me. I sometimes still hope that man comes back, but it’s only a fantasy. I read the posts here everyday and think you all are so right. I need to make a new life for me, but I am so frightened to be alone. What is ridiculous, I am alone already for 4 years. It will get better, when I am in my new place. At the moment I am living in the future, thinking a new home, job and new friends will do the trick. All I want to have is someone who loves me, cherishes me and is trustworthy.
        I have learned so much from reading these posts, especially this one. It’s like my situation to a t. The only thing is, I cannot understand why I am not further on in my healing. I feel stuck.

  • I’m in that age group and had a choice of reconciling or divorcing as well. Mine ran away when we separated, so that did make it a little easier in some ways, not in others. He had significant mental health issues on top of everything else.

    I could stop working myself and live with him near the beach, pretending like his many years of bad behavior didn’t exist. The thought of living in that fakery and having to make fake new friends made me physically ill. And I’d always have to be on guard, waiting for the inevitable flare-up of his mental health issues. I wondered how long that would truly last.

    Or I could get a divorce attorney and make my own way. I hadn’t worked full-time in decades.

    I expected that he would make a divorce a mess, and he did. I got the economic part worked out. I have no regrets though. Just living authentically and not walking on eggshells is worth it.

    • That last line, “Just living authentically and not walking on eggshells is worth it.” I feel that. Klootzak still lives with me but takes lots of work trips. The minute he is gone, I feel like I can breathe and not tiptoe around. My child feels the same though he definitely loves his father. (Just doesn’t seem to like him very much. lol) The long absences are glimpses into life without him and though starting the process is frightening it is also exciting. An authentic life without a FW who ogles underage girls and keeps two password protected phones face down at all times is worth any moments of loneliness or financial hits. No question.

  • I was 69 years old when my gyn told me I had an STD… that FW you are living with is never going to stop and you might reasonably anticipate he will live another 20 years. You want to spend 20 years of constant reminders and skin crawling loathing every time you see his face or hear his voice? HE HAS NOT STOPPED AND HE WILL NOT STOP. Pack up and leave for the good of your own mental health. While you may not be having sex with him, you still might be funding his lifestyle with credit cards and loans you know nothing about. Make an exit plan and then make your exit. And trust me, life is better when you live with dignity and self-respect.

  • I was reading through my notes app at all the writing I’ve done on the infidelity and the meaningful snippets from this site that I saved. One message to me from Peacekeeper said

    “When someone beats you from the inside, no one can see the bruises. Only you can feel them.”

    This is, IMHO, the explanation for the mental machinations we go through after having been cheated on.

    If the injuries were physical and visible, I doubt we would be so confused, and the idiotic obtuse comments from bystanders might never even enter their minds.

    And remember that the denial extends to the cheating accomplices as well.

    I need to recalibrate my thinking daily to keep my perspective in the right place, and reading here is the perfect antidote to the mental quicksand I find myself in.

    If you read something that clicks for you and it helps you stay sane and afloat, save it in your phone and read it whenever you get triggered and are drowning again.


    • And once again my beloved therapist said to me about Traitor X, “If he cared about his daughter he would never have had an affair in the first place.”

      It’s taken me long time and a lot of practice to NOT LISTEN to a cheater, like putting earplugs in and ignoring the song of the Sirens. Imagine them wearing a sandwich board with LIAR CHEATER THIEF TRAITOR in big black letters on one side, and CHEATING IS ABUSE on the other.

      Without trust and safety, there is no relationship. And they don’t have it with each other, either.

      • I told FW “cheating is abuse,” and he very much disagrees, and he was so smug when two RIC “therapists” in a row agreed that “affairs can happen for many reasons and aren’t always abuse.” I went off on one of them and was like, oh, sometimes it’s okay to gain consent from someone to stay in a sexual relationship by lying to them about things that would have changed their consent? Yeah no that’s called rape by deception, buddy.

        • LYING is abuse.

          Affairs require LYING.

          Ergo, affairs are abuse

          My local domestic violence organization agrees.

          People thought it was OK to beat animals and children once upon a time too. And some still do.

          I rest my case.

          Just because you say you’re a zebra doesn’t mean you’re a zebra.

          Feel free to borrow and point out when appropriate.

      • Velvet Hammer,

        “If he cared about his daughter he would never have had an affair in the first place.”

        That’s chilling. I can’t wrap my head around risking a relationship with a child for an AP. I’m sure they tell themselves that the affair has nothing to do with the kids (as mine did), but that’s delusional. As my adult son put it, “That’s effed up.”

        I’d like to see a PSA about this, to warn people who are about to cheat and torpedo their marriages that the kids will be part of the collateral damage.

        Judging by the posts I’ve read on this site for over 2 years, Demi, Bruce et al are outliers.

        • I don’t think it would matter. Traitor X is still with the Craigslist cockroach (news/not news….he has been continuing to lie about it, which is definitely not news) and he does not connect the dots or care.

          It’s OK though….the consequences don’t care if he cares or agrees either.

          • Hi VH, do you know if there is a way to read the comments on the Working through the anguish article.

            I have a comment ready, but I don’t want to post if I can’t read the other comments.

  • I am younger than you, but I really didn’t want to start over at 37 either. I fought like hell for the hell I was living in. And it was hell. I finally, after 3 1/2 years of separation, had enough. My ex didn’t even admit to the affair, but I knew in my gut they weren’t “just friends”. I’d never really lived on my own. I didn’t think I could make it financially. I didn’t want to lose my house. I didn’t want to lose half the time with my child.

    I thought I’d never get over it – losing so much, the betrayal, the crushing debt. But I DID.

    Far from being “constantly reminded in my new world of why” I’m single, I’ve REVELING in it. I love being on my own. The freedom. The PEACE. No walking on eggshells. No worrying about where he is or what he’s doing, or who he’s doing it with. I make my own schedule, I have my home just the way I like, I do what I enjoy. My finances are better than ever (didn’t realize quite how much of a disaster he was in that respect). Yes – I gave up my life, my home, my routine. What I got in exchange is a million times better. And no, you will NEVER be okay with having sex with your husband again. Once I had concrete evidence of the affair, I found my ex repulsive. I wouldn’t have let him touch me again for a million dollars. OW was clearly fine sharing, but I wasn’t.

    You don’t deserve to live in hell. Whatever your age, you have the rest of your life to live. Is this how you want to be? I don’t think so. So stop beating this dead horse of a “marriage” thinking it’s ever going to get up and run, and go out and PUT YOURSELF FIRST. Who cares who gets “blamed” for breaking up the marriage-mirage? My ex pinned it squarely on me. I DGAF. I found out who my real friends are, and they know the truth. No one else matters.

    I was always a “giver” who took care of everyone else. It was really hard to put myself and my needs, and especially my desires, first. But my husband wasn’t worth it, and neither is yours. My ex wanted me to keep taking care of him, even after we separated (paying half the bills, making his doctor’s appointments, mowing the lawn, cleaning the house, etc.). He would happily have kept me in that limbo forever, I think. I had to reach the point where I wasn’t content to be his “utility wife” while he got it on with his coworker and treated me like trash. I had to value myself enough to say “it’s all or nothing”. His tune changed pretty fast after I stopped doing things for him. He got even more vicious, rubbed OW in my face, went balls to the wall in the divorce. But I STILL came out ahead.

    You seem like a good, ethical person who wants to do the right thing. And that’s why I can say with confidence that you’ll be okay. Get your ducks in a row, get a good lawyer, get everything you’re entitled to, and go live YOUR life. This man doesn’t deserve you and you deserve better.

    The world is full of possibilities, and it’s time to get out of hell.

    • How did you manage the pain of losing time with your child? I know I am doing the right thing but the pain of losing time with my child is immense. It will be the hardest part for me to bear. I tuck him into bed and then go cry anticipating the future when I won’t be able to do that every night.

      • It was rough for a while. My son would call me crying and begging me to come and get him. Later he would beg me not to make him go. I don’t know how old your child is. My husband and I split up when my son was 5. He’s 9 now. It’s harder when they are little.

        The only thing that really helped was finding things to do on the days I didn’t have him. Things I couldn’t do with my kid around. Sleeping in. Going out with friends. I started enjoying my “days off”. We did Facetime calls every day when he wasn’t with me, too. It’s not always easy. My ex’s home was not a good environment for my child, and OW was always around playing mommy to him. My ex was a “Disney dad” and rarely took care of anything practical, like homework or haircuts, preferring to go to the skate park or the movies. I just accepted that I would have to be the functioning parent.

        My ex died about six months ago, so now I have my son full time. I love having him, and I’m glad he doesn’t have to deal with the shuttling between homes. Honestly my son is far more relaxed and happy than he was when he spent time with his dad (his behavior was always awful when he returned, since his dad didn’t have a lot of rules, and my son was also extremely stressed, especially during the last few months before his dad’s suicide, due to my ex’s declining mental and emotional health). But a tiny part of me misses my free weekends. So look at the time you don’t have your kid as time for YOU and try and do things that make you happy. Take a class. Go to a museum. Go out to eat. Anything that’s harder to do with a child in tow.

        By all means, try for full custody if you think you have a chance. I don’t know your situation, but even when my ex and I had 50/50, I ended up having my son more as my ex would pawn the kid off on me any time he felt the least bit sick, or if our kid was sick, or if he wanted to have time with OW, or whatever. Document any issues your child has with the schedule or switching between homes. Keep records of everything you do for your kid (doctor’s appointments, playdates, school functions). If the burden of parenting is falling heavily on you, you have a better case for full custody.

        It sucks, but really the only thing to do is accept it and make the best of it. You find a routine no matter what happens. It’s the “shit sandwich” you are stuck with. The main thing is to try and make it as easy for your kid as possible. For me, that meant holding in a lot of my emotions around the whole thing and sending my son off with a cheerful “have a good time!” and crying in the car after.

        • I think it would have been awful not to have my son with me each night, to check his homework, make sure he ate right etc.

          It has to be so much harder with small children.

  • The three things that helped me the most to move out of limbo (besides FW’s shocking behavior) have been medication/therapy, EMDR, and this may sound strange, but playing VR games.

    If you can afford a headset, it was amazing how it instantly changed my mood for the better as soon as I started to play. I only tried it because my therapist said I should do “fun” things, and I couldn’t think of any, but there was this new game set in the house, so I figured why not try it.

    The FW has you brainwashed into their worldview, always lurking either really there or in your mind, and everything in your home reminds you of them, re-traumatizing you. But with VR you’re transported to another world, maybe a peaceful nature scene, or a game you have to concentrate on like Tetris, or a cartoon world of cute animals. It doesn’t really matter, you’re *out* of the FW’s world, taking a vacation from the problems they’re causing. It retrains your brain in some way, I think, to be okay in a world without them, a world where YOU make the choices.

    • >>The FW has you brainwashed into their worldview, always lurking either really there or in your mind, and everything in your home reminds you of them, re-traumatizing you. But with VR you’re transported to another world

      Fascinating RuralChump, I’m glad you mentioned this. DV advocate Don Hennessy mentions how abusers brainwash in his books, like “How He Gets Into Her Head” and “Steps to Freedom”. Hennessy never mentioned video games, but it makes sense. Now I know why I was so attracted to games at certain times of my life. It also helps me understand why it was so important to develop interests which my FOO thought were nuts (like singing). It’s vital to breaking those emotional patterns.

      • Wow! I play a game called Hexic which is similar. I play for an hour or two at a crack. It’s my evening routine followed by checking in on CN. That article makes the pieces fall into place (har har har) on why I love it so much. Thanks for this!

    • I did this by watching a ton of old classic films and immersing myself into that world. Just the fact that life was so different when they were made helped me to shift my thinking about change in my own life. Things are so different now, but those films still have value. The same applies to me. My old life is gone, but I had value then and I still do now that my life has changed.

      I think a lot of chumps develop an adjustment disorder for a time and cannot accept these unwanted changes. That’s part of why it’s so difficult to let go. Anything that takes you out of ruminating about it helps.

  • “She can’t be intimate with someone who betrayed her. She doesn’t feel safe in her marriage. ”

    So true.

    I have mentioned that I let fw come back a few weeks after he left. Sex was when I knew it was over, it was disgusting to me. I tried so hard to feel something, I couldn’t. Oh I am sure he had a good time, he was getting strange again while schmoops was waiting in the wings. But I knew. I told him to leave after a few days. He was also treating me like shit, but it really didn’t matter anymore.

    I was honestly sad about the lack of feeling on my part; but it was a healthy feeling. My body knew.

  • It’s the illusion of safety that can keep you trapped in a bad marriage situation most of the time. I used to think I was in a safe, stable marriage and try to be content with it. But there was always a nagging feeling. It shouldn’t that much work, I shouldn’t have to walk on eggshells all the time, if everything is perfect, why am I not happy? That was long before DDay. Your gut knows. I had a few physical ailments, migraines, high blood pressure, pains and aches. I used to wake up in the middle of the night in a panic. The fact is you’re not safe. You’re being exposed to STDs, financial abuse, lied to and manipulated daily and the person lying next to you is not emotionally connected to you. Your gut knows, and you know you’re not happy and you don’t know why.

    The problem is that you won’t know until you get out. It’s the only solution. When you’re away from the lies and manipulations and in charge of your own life, then you’ll be able to see it clearly.

  • I was married 30 yrs when DDay happened. That was almost 5yrs ago. I am 70 now. My life was turned upside down and I couldn’t see how I could ever be “happy”. Honestly I don’t know what happy means anymore. I can say I am content. I also feel like I dodged a bullet. I too did all the planning, shopping, money making for the family. For the last 4yrs of our marriage he did not work or even try-he was “depressed” but not too much to chase after poverty stricken single mom. He really dropped a bomb in the middle of our family and my retirement is much different than I planned. I am ok with that. I don’t have to babysit him anymore and I am learning strong boundary setting. I may have swung a bit too far on that but i trust I will ease up. I don’t hurt anymore. I do still feel numb. When I see him at family events he still turns my stomach in a bad way. My grown sons are navigating a relationship with him that I stay completely out of. It is true-crappy life skills don’t go away-he has shown his colors that were hidden when I spackled away for years. Our family without him is doing quite nicely. Time is your friend!

  • limbo is hard to deal with, i know. the limbo of shock, followed by pick-me dancing, the limbo of waiting for legal agreements. it’s a lot.

    i suffer from a lot of nighttime thinking/going over hateful things that my X has said/done, so i’ve devised a mantra that i use regularly. this mantra has morphed over time and become a little longer as i come to understand more about about myself and my X. i say it to myself and then let go. it works for me.

    1. my X is an alcoholic

    2. his thinking is disordered

    3. his emotions are disordered

    4. he is unable to deal with his alcoholism

    5. he was raised in a family with few boundaries

    6. as a result, he is emotionally incapable of dealing with emotional issues

    7. i can’t carry his burdens, nor should i

    8. and, i deserve better

    repeating this mantra works for me, i don’t know why. i’m not second guessing. i like to end with myself because that’s the correct focus.

    my daughter recently said to me, “you just want a partner that will hold your hand in the ER” and she’s right. i know my X would not do so because he didn’t do so, not when i needed him. his job always took precedence as did his drinking. that’s no way to live. so, ask yourself, would your X hold your hand in the ER? and be honest.

    i should probably add that straight forward sentence to my mantra. “he would not hold my hand in the ER.”

    • Love your list, damnitfeelsbad. For months after the final DDay all I could summon up was a rhythmic “I can do this, I can do this, I can do this” as I stumbled along every day on my miles-long walks. And no, he didn’t hold my hand in the ER while I was having a stroke, and he didn’t hold my hand while I was having the emergency c-section; as a matter of fact, he didn’t hold my hand when I was terrified about the “suspicious mass” on my mammogram. Thanks for giving me a basic criterion for baseline decency if I should ever consider beginning a new relationship.

  • It’s so much more difficult when one has no living family of one’s own, or awful family you cannot count on.
    Before people jump on me saying you can build your support network, etc. Yes, you can.
    Still the above statement is true.

    The financial aspect is another fundamental one. It seems that people who stand a chance to not land on the street will leave/divorce. But if chances are you land on the street, that is not safe.
    Before people jump on me saying chumps are smart and figure out the financial thing, it seems also fair to say that it is indeed an issue, and that many divorced people end up impoverished. And on some the divorce is imposed. It is not a choice.

    Victims/survivors are the experts on their own specific situation. Only they truly know how things stand, what is safe, what the best chances of survival are.

    • I totally agree. Susan’s letter didn’t indicate any financial hardship, but that is a huge factor that keeps chumps stuck.
      Family helps, too. You need emotional support at the very least. Hopefully Susan can find it IRL and that the online support here helps.

    • ????????????

      Can’t be said enough.

      CL and most folks here have so much valuable information and support, but the individual Chump has to always make decisions based on their own situation.

      I remember when I had Divorce forced upon me, (he left me for whore) one of my first thoughts was how am I going to be able to live. (I only had a minimum wage job) As I got stronger I could see options, and once I told my family I had offers of help if I needed it. Not everyone has that.

      I remember even thinking, I can afford a late model good car, and if I have to I can live in it until I can save enough for first and last months rent on a small efficiency apartment. Turned out I didn’t have to live in my car; but that is how dire the situation was to me, and I was scared to death. And that was with supportive family.

  • “How do you get out of limbo in a marriage after an affair?”

    You get out of the marriage. Stick a fork in it, Susan. Stop letting him drop over. Don’t be in touch 24/7. Admit that the marriage is dead, see a lawyer to officially bury it and tell fuckwit you won’t see him anymore.

    You can learn to do the things he does around the house. It doesn’t require a penis to unclog a sink or clean the gutters. At 60, you’ll need to hire help with the more heavy duty physical tasks. If you haven’t already, get in shape so you can do some of them at least. Exercise will also help take your mind off fuckwit and increase your self confidence. You can’t stay dependent on someone who has proven he is not dependable in fundamental ways, like keeping his dick out of stray vaginas.

    “how besides feeling like a complete failure do I come to terms with hurting the one I had no intentions of ever hurting?”

    Why worry about hurting him? He certainly didn’t worry about hurting you. Ask yourself how badly it could hurt him if he was so willing to risk this exact thing happening. A fuckwit’s feelings aren’t that deep, Susan. You’re projecting your capacity to bond (and therefore to grieve the loss of that bond) onto him.

    Lots of us chumps are older and had long marriages. It’s hard to let go of the dream, but it can be done. Just stop the negative self-talk about obstacles to overcome and tell yourself you can do this and you will not just survive, you will thrive. Without a lying cheating, selfish jerk controlling your destiny with mindfuckery, who knows how happy you could be. Control your own destiny.

  • I thought we were working things out when I mistakenly let him back in and had sex with him, I burst into tears during it. He says, “ I know, it’s awful, I betrayed you”. It’s all I could think of. Betrayal continued and I filed. I hope she did too before he stole all the assets.

  • We only get one life. Most of us value marriage or committed relationships (however you chose to do that), but at some point, a marriage is not the same as a life.

    We get married to have a bigger, wider life, to extend our hearts to someone who reciprocates and to create a safe space for our children, if we are lucky enough to have them. But cheating breaks all that apart–the “bigger, wider life” we want includes the affair partners and whatever diseases they bring with them. The cheater spends time and money on other people without our consent or even knowledge. The children are vulnerable to heartbreak and loss of faith in their parents. They witness infidelity and emotional abuse that is tolerated or they must adjust to a range of other possibilities, from estranged parents who still live together to spousal abuse to divorce. So whatever we wanted from marriage is already gone.

    The best thing I did for myself was to decide to live as a single person, no dating and no relationship, for 2 years, after a divorce and a discard by the jackass I dated after that. I got to know myself. I learned I don’t need a life partner to be happy. And now I get to control the remote and the Netflix account, not to mention coming home every day to a clean house. There has been zero downside for me, once I learned how to manage the household repairs and the yard. And even that has taught me many lessons about my ability to plan and to be self-sufficient.

  • Meanwhile, here in California….


    Of course I got a copy and am now crafting my email to author Cynthia Weston, LMFT, after reading her article on page 31 about surviving infidelity. I don’t know if she herself brings experience surviving infidelity to the table, but busting myths and BS and sharing my experience as an actual survivor of infidelity is part of my own recovery…

  • The hell you have to get through (not stay in) makes being on your own and independent a breeze. I’ve never been happier. Losing 200+lbs of a cheater with crap for benefits is an incredible relief. Just the whole no one telling you what to do freedom – sigh! Wonderful. My one caveat is that the slog is harder and more tender when you’ve got littles in the house. That is hard going even when finances aren’t dire. But on just the personal part, it’s better. Being alone doesn’t equate to lonely.

  • Susan, I’m in the same position because I have 3 kids under 3 and pulling the trigger is tough. What has helped me are two things: 1. Making either a literal or mental list of pros and cons of “why I should stay and why I should leave”. Although my kids are under why I should stay, that’s always combatted with “not wanting to model a bad relationship or acceptance of wrong behavior” under the pros list. Also, I’ve had to ask myself “will you be ok if things remain as they are and never change?” As CL says, ask yourself “is this relationship acceptable to me?” Will you be ok if things continue exactly as they are? Will you be ok never being sexually attracted or comfortable with your husband again? Will you be ok living apart or together as roommates for the next few years or the remainder of your marriage? Will you be ok never feeling safe or able to exhale completely? If the answer to any of those questions is “no” then please pull the trigger. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior… unless drastic positive character change happens. You’ve given wreckonciliation a chance, you’ve tried, it hasn’t helped you. Pull the trigger. Like others have said, it’s highly unlikely that your husband is practicing the same celibacy you are. Cheating is highly addictive and him living apart from you gives him undeterred access to whomever he wants. Your therapist is a dimwit indeed. “Sticking around” is just evidence he doesn’t want to rock the secure life he has built with you, not that he wants to fix the marriage. Has he taken any steps on his own? I bet you were the one that even found the therapist and set it up. Don’t be fooled Susan. He wants you for safety and security, not for love or a recapturing of better times. Pull the trigger. Hugs and kisses.

    • The “is this acceptable to me?” question never worked for me, mostly because as a patient and hard working person with no self esteem there is really no end to what I will endure. My childhood was grueling, and I learned to bare heavy burdens and soldier on. I have no original bearing on happiness, no compass to point the way when someone’s behavior is throwing my life off course.

      I have to frame everything as what I would want someone else do to in my situation. I think about my niece, or any of my female friends, and what they should do if they were in my shoes. Externalizing it makes it clear as day that I deserve so much better.

  • I know how this feels. Married at the age of 30. Married for 21 years. We never had children and I have a very small family. My XH had a very large family so litterally overnight i lost 3/4 of my family along with the man i loved more than life itself. I tried the whole trying to make things work thing, eating shit sandwiches and playing the massive pick me dance. Once your spouse goes down the road of infidelity there is no going back to a relationship with this person. Its always there, that feeling of betrayal and mistrust never goes away
    The solution, the 1 and only solution:

  • The limbo of bending over backward to make a marriage survive to a point we are harming our own selves. We are all ready traumatized from lies , shock, deceit , blame shifting the feeling your not good enough. Yet we want to keep fighting and mending and trying to repair a wound that never heals. I’m sorry you are caught in limbo. Your situation is very close to how mine was .You can continue to do the limbo and try to appease them and repair but in my case the ex just went on to have another affair. Divorced four years I reel at what occurred during the marriage . Being removed from toxicity one has the ability to fully realize the unhealthiness and harm they cause . The whole picture becomes more clear .

  • I want to give you another perspective. You are 60 years old, correct? What happens if you get sick? A man who will betray you for years WILL abuse you while you are sick.

    I reconciled once. He “came clean” to me. He told me “everything.” I thought I had a magical unicorn. I thought how could I throw my family away when he’s willing to try so hard. I thought we’d be stronger for it. And I thought it worked.

    Then I got sick. And like all cheaters, he didn’t change. He just took it further underground. And when I started having cognitive difficulties, it became even more fun and easy to betray me.

    “You don’t remember we already had this fight?! Oh my God, I just explained all this to you last night! Are you really that sick! You really don’t remember?!” and sometimes he’d cry. And back to the doctor I would go and get put on more meds. I was diagnosed with schizophrenia. It was a nightmarish hell of confusion and pain that went on for years for me.

    And he loved it.

    I actually have pernicious anemia. I’m totally healthy now. When I started treatment I noticed he didn’t seem happy that I was getting better. Well, by that time his lies had become so lazy and ridiculous that he would do things like claim to work 12 hour days all week but not hit 40 hours. We lasted 8 months after I started treatment before he brutally discarded me in disgust and then I started finding everything out.

    Your pain is valid. Your concerns are valid. I’m just giving you another valid thing to be concerned about. You aren’t getting any younger. If you start having health problems, you do not want this man around you. He betrayed you, he’s already abused you and he enjoyed it. He kept abusing you for years and it gave him orgasms. You cannot trust him. He will abuse you even more if you become vulnerable. Get rid of him completely, go NC, and start building a support network you can actually trust. If I could go back in time, that’s what I’d tell myself.

    • Katie:

      What an Asshole your X is. I am glad you got better and got out of the situation. There is another point for the letter writer to think about: What if her husband (can’t remember if he is X yet, think not) gets sick and needs care, she could be stuck caring for someone who would not have done the same for her. I’ve heard cheaters (some of them) get a little nicer when they need care in their senior years.

      Katie: Good fortune to you.

      • Yes! That’s a great point too. When I was a divorced I worked a call center job and a woman called up sobbing while her husband screamed at her because the wrong adult diapers for him had arrived. It was an awful call, I asked her us she wanted me to call the police at two points. She did not.

        I got off the phone and had to take a break and just shook with relief because I realized that will never be me. It was one of the first times I was happy to be divorced.

  • Terrible. I too stayed in that limbo hell for eight months while my XW enjoyed cake at her “separation apartment” and dropped in for husband and family time. It was working great for her. If I hadn’t divorced her I’m sure it would still be going on and I would be a broken shell of a person.

    I’ve been divorced eight years. I am really lonely. I would love to find someone and I believe it will happen some day. But I will take this loneliness over the sheer misery and deep pain of living what Susan is living.

    Susan, divorce him. It’s scary and it sucks. But you will be ok. Do not endure this abuse a minute longer.

    • Lots of nice single ladies on here. Maybe somebody is in your area. Just sayin’.

      We really need a private, by invitation only, chump dating site. If I had the skill I’d make one myself, but I am technologically challenged.

      Is there anybody out there who knows how to do that? I could certainly help weed out the creeps and I’d do it for free.

      • If I would ever date again after my divorce is finalized, I would love to see some type of group where we chumps could help other chumps determine whether to date this person or not. Just something to help us through the fixing the picker process.

        • I think that’s a great idea!!

          I can’t see myself ever fully trusting anyone again, but when I’m healed and ready to get back out there, I think I’d only be able to maybe trust a fellow chump!!

          Make the website, David!! 🙂

    • I think once you replace ” I am lonely ” with ” I am comfortable being on my own”, something good will happen.
      I didn’t think about dating for the first 2 years after my marriage.
      I tried online dating in the 3rd year and my experiences were not great. Maybe because I wasn’t ready. It was one of the more reputable sites for people who are serious about dating and finding a long term partner.

      Once I cancelled my membership of that site and focused fully on my kids and my career, women found me more attractive.
      I am in an early stage of a relationship, and I was not looking at all. It was the result of a chance meeting and a spontaneous coffee together.
      I don’t know what it is – maybe the women on here could confirm this : Do guys have a big red flag over their head when they feel lonely ? Can you smell desperation ? 🙂

      • I don’t think so, AFS.
        But that focus on your kids and career showed that your priorities were in order – and that’s a very attractive quality.

      • After being cheated on, I may revert to seriously the old fashioned screening of suitors like Ouiser in Steel Magnolias.

        “Who is your family?!”

        Chaperoned dates with my trusted friends along.

        That kind of thing.

        I like being on my own for now and am working on a huge bucket list. I was never a personals ad person prior to the Internet, and dating apps, aka online personals ads, are even less appealing to me. If I meet someone, it will be in the course of doing my thing, just like you sound like you are doing. Attraction (living your life) is the way to go, rather than promotion (dating apps) IMHO.

        I do have a good friend who remarried from Match after being cheated on by her partner of 27 years. I’d never criticize anyone who chooses to do that, but it’s just not for me.

        Watching The Tinder Swindler just solidified my current opinion….

      • Oh, I am very comfortable being alone with myself, on my own. I was single till I was in my early 30s and always on my own. Very different from being lonely. I’d just like to find the right one. Been on many many dates. I’m not desperate nor in any rush. I’m just…well, lonely! 🙂

        • I have been mostly happily single for a decade, but one day a few months ago I decided that I would accept the next invitation to date, even if he was short, fat, and bald.

          Well, guess what? The very next day, an acquaintance in my small town of 375 people was opening his mailbox (right next to mine at our tiny post office) and asked for my phone number. Yup, short, fat, and bald, but a very good conversationalist and a successful businessman.

          We went out a few times and hit the first snag when he tried to touch my face. I recoiled in horror, froze up, and decided to (as my therapist advises) “listen to my body.” As a lifelong chump, though, I find it exceedingly difficult to trust my gut, so we went out a few more times. (I’m also not very skilled in breakups, as my experience has always been to be cheated on/lied to/gaslit/etc.)

          Luckily the brief dating experience eventually petered out civilly, and there’s no awkwardness when our paths cross. But whew, I learned that I’m still definitely not ready to date — at least that man, anyway. It was a valuable experience, however, and I’m glad I dipped my toe in the water.

          Good luck to you, David. I hope you will be successful in finding healthy and fulfilling companionship.

  • “Barnacles stick around too, but they don’t improve the shipping experience.” Brilliant analogy! If I had let him, I’m sure fuckhead would have stayed around because it worked for his image, convenience, etc. and continued to disrespect me. Don’t mistake glomming on immovably for love. They are lazy and remorseless creatures. Please do not leave it up to him — unstick yourself!!!

  • It’s very simple: he’s a con. Con artists take whatever they can, in whatever way they can get away with. They start out as your ‘friend,’ get you to trust them, then gradually start taking from you, banking on your trust so you won’t see what’s really going on. Get rid of the sunk cost fallacy, it’s concientious people who go that way and a con artist relies on that. You are only digging yourself in deeper. There is a reason a con’s victim is called a “mark.” Stop being used and ripped off. Stop being a willing mark in his long con.

  • Thank you for this. I am in a sense Susan.
    Feeling guilty that I called it on a husband and stepdaughter who “need me”. That soft place to land? ME. Susan you’re so smart because you like me cannot stand to open up and be close and loving (sexual) with this man. And yet he complains there’s no sex cuddling kissing etc. I hug him because I care deeply about him. But really did he care about me while running around completely tricking me?!? Or MY daughter??? Or my family who have been so great to him.
    Susan please I know it’s hard. Let’s do this together. My daughter is out finding her way too like your son. This is your time♥️

    • Shann: I think there are probably more than a few on this site with your feelings about caring deeply for someone that you can’t get physical with after such a betrayal. And they can not understand why we feel so betrayed. Most of us can never feel safe in a relationship with the betrayers again. It is indeed limbo..

      I hope that Susan will respond and at least let us know how and what she is doing. Hopefully, if she did not divorce, she will take the journey with you.

  • Hope Susan broke free. I too was ashamed and scared of “failure”. I could win the pick-me dance. But marriage police is no fun and I didn’t trust him. It certainly impacted how much I enjoyed being intimate with him. When I found him trying to cheat again…that killed the hopium dead. Life is much better as captain of your own ship.

  • Take the money Susan! Go to a spa, take a vacation! Get online and meet a new guy – yes you can! Move to where your son is, or wherever you really want to live! YOU ARE NOT OLD (I’m older than you.) Get rid of this dead weight and you can have a wonder 20+ years doing what you want to do.

  • sounds like entitled prick. Get a lawyer and a financial advisor all to yourself and get the finances you deserve and live the rest of your life. No sense in suffering more when you only have one life.

    • I totally agree. I hope you left him in the dust. Do not waste one more minute on this piece of garbage. You are still 60 years young – don’t let this sorry excuse of a man steal any more of your time. It can only get better. Don’t do what I did I beg you – don’t waste years of your life on someone who does not appreciate you. If only I knew now what I wish I knew when I was younger – arseholes rarely change. I’m sorry, it’s tough and grieving your shared future is devastating, but you can do this. Unless you did something really horrible, and even if you did! If he did not consult you before stepping out on his marriage so you were aware there was an issue, he is just a piece of dirt. I regret every minute I compassionately gave to a piece of scum who is not capable of insight, and even those who are, you need to do what is right for you – they hurt you – it is extremely unlikely that they will change. You will need to do the hard work and not accept the denigration because they will not do it for you – of course they will accept what you have to give – that is easy for them, but there is a high probability it will eat your soul and your health. Don’t do it. See anew counsellor. Sack your counsellor. Please for the love of god get a new one, I mean really you are lucky he stuck around?? Is that some kind of joke??

      • Also, for the record, one of my grandmothers was chumped. She told the other woman to bugger off, which she did. This was in the days when it was a terrible disgrace to be a single mother. It scarred her children terribly. I really think my grandfather was a piece of shit. I am sorry he had a shit childhood, but thanks for screwing up your own kids (ie including my parent), arsehole – although I know most people are not 100% bad. My grandmother was an extremely lovely lady – no joke she had a lot of offers but she kept true to my grandfather even though he died young. When he was ill, and older – before he died he clung to my grandmother who he had hurt – because by then he had lost his youthful good looks and health. Don’t be like my grandma. I still feel pain for her this day. She was a fool though. He did not truly appreciate the gift that he had been given, I read that book, Sociopath Next Door – if you feel sorry for someone who hurts people – it means they are a sociopath, and I am afraid there may be some truth to that.

  • My grandfather passed away at age 55. My grandmother dated after a while and remarried in her 60’s. That guy passed away and she found another life partner at 70. He was a lovely old fisherman/windower with a downeast accent and spoiled her until he died at 87. She passed away at age 89 a month ago.

    If there is an afterlife I wish her luck sorting them all out. She wasn’t particularly outgoing or attractive. She was kind, smart and a bit difficult. LW, at age 60 she still had two whole marriages and three grandchildren to look forward to.

    Your life isn’t over, and you are not doomed to be alone if you are single for a while. Even if you get back together with him he could have a heart attack tomorrow. Don’t make choices out of fear, life will happen either way. Choose joy and peace now. You may never meet another partner, but you 100% won’t find someone to love and treasure you if you never make space for them in your life.

    • Worse still, FW could have a stroke or something else happen to him and she could spend the rest of her days as his caretaker, afraid then to leave out of guilt. Klootzak is in his prime heart attack years and I sometimes think to myself I need to unload this FW before anything happens to him that makes me feel obligated to be his caretaker. Eff that!

      • Hah! Had to speak recently with exH, and boy oh boy, has he fallen apart physically. (If he can be believed, that is. However, our daughter did confirm some of the more serious ailments that he claims to have.) So glad that Poopsie is dealing with his (likely self-inflicted) deterioration, not me.

  • I tried wreckonciliation for 4 years. Of course he cheated again. In those 4 years I did end up (after a long time of feeling disgusted) having sex with him but NEVER again made love with him – there’s a big difference between the two!

    I think of him as “dead.” The marriage was dead after D-Day #1 but I was scared and in limbo and hung on. He stopped acting like the decent, honorable, fun person he used to pretend to be so I finally came to realize (after D-Day #2) that person -or persona – was dead and gone.

  • Fear of the unknown is one helluva glue, keeping so many chumps stuck.

    Honestly, I was scared as hell when I left after D-Day. He wanted out, so I didn’t even have a pick-me-dance option, which, in hindsight, was a blessing.

    Leaving allowed me to gain a life. It was one of the toughest and most self-affirming moves I’ve ever made.

    I’m enjoying my freedom from that disordered, mean, covert narc! Oh, and although I live alone, I’m not as lonely. I’m sure other chumps can relate. ❤️

  • I also lived the limbo life for two years after finding CL’s blog and reading LACGAL! It’s not easy to untwine from a long-term marriage (I was turning 58 that summer) and to relearn simple truths that had eroded during my marriage to a cheater. Especially a very experienced, nice guy cheater, who does it all on business trips, then comes home and plays the sacrificing husband and father, who was always happy to help but never truly took on responsibility.
    After reading the blog and book, I also beat myself up mentally for not being strong enough to end the marriage.
    But I did begin to carefully plan out a divorce. Each step of the way brought more knowledge and confidence. I had a good friend who always reminded me that I could take one step at a time, then see how I feel.
    For me, the decision was strongly financial. I didn’t have years of time to make up for the lost, shared retirement, and I had to look seriously at what my retirement funds would be when split in half. This took time since I knew there would be no going back to the ex, there would be no money magically appearing out of nowhere, and I did not want to be a burden to my young adult kids who were just getting started with their first jobs. We had been financially comfortable, with 2 incomes, but not wealthy. I was accepting of the fact that if I could not live on my own salary, and have reasonable retirement funds, I wouldn’t divorce & the best I could do would be to strengthen my emotional well-being. Then the guilt & shame and fear about risks of staying with him would set in & I’d be worried all over again about him spending the retirement on prostitutes, and what would be found on his computer, and then feel shamed again for choosing this person to marry back in 1984. It was depressing to think of how many more years of counseling I would be in for!
    All this angst, anger, shame, and constant confusion DISAPPEARED the moment I filed for divorce and moved out. I stopped having that yearning for someone to understand me & help me “fix” my situation. I lost the need to journal frequently to make sense of a marriage that really wasn’t a marriage. Moving out for me really began the “no-contact” which is powerful. My body was safe. No more feeling guilty that “I don’t like having sex with my husband” which during my continued marriage turned into “I don’t have sex with my husband, no wonder he’s getting it somewhere else.” See the mindfuck?
    My mind was free to deal with other matters, like oil changes, and lawn mower repairs. I began to have totally honest interactions with my adult children. I wasn’t hiding the problems of the marriage from them anymore. I had integrity again; I did not try to pretend to acquaintances, neighbors, or distant family that we had a stable marriage.
    I would never choose to go back to living like I did, married to a cheater. I don’t have a problem free life, I have some worries, and troubles, and fears for the future. But I often find myself smiling when I go to bed by myself, and sometimes when I wake up.

    • “I began to have totally honest interactions with my adult children. I wasn’t hiding the problems of the marriage from them anymore. I had integrity again; I did not try to pretend to acquaintances, neighbors, or distant family that we had a stable marriage.”

      This is gold. Because this is the bit we find hard to admit – that our marriage has become a Potemkin Village.

      No Contact is the path to the truth – and the truth is like nectar. It comes in a scary-looking bottle, but that’s the scariest part about it.

      • Exactly! Cheater needs that facade. And as a spouse in limbo, you’re not going to do anything to disturb it either.
        I think this is what drove women crazy , literally insane, when divorce was not a legitimate option.
        To anyone out there in limbo, just take a step. One step, then see how it feels. Take another. Open up to at least a few trusted people so you live a truthful life with at least a few persons.
        Your timeline is your own.

    • Thank you UpAndOut for sharing that! I married in 1986 and was a stay at home mother of seven children. He kept me ‘barefoot and pregnant’ and in the church.

      Fast forward three years ago I found out he was a secretive alcoholic and secretive sex addict. He was opposite of who I thought he was all those years was living a double life.

      After Dday he did the right things, got into a program, wanted help and wanted our marriage, said he loved me. He moved into an apartment at my request and I see him about twice a month but he calls every day.

      Here and there I found he is no unicorn. I filed for divorce but am in that place of fear. I am old. My job skills are archaic. It isn’t 1986 anymore. Inflation is making food etc hard to live. To put it insult to injury he told me he will retire early so I will get no spousal support.

      You said if you could not make ends meet you would not divorce. You did find a way financially but what was your plan to survive with him if you couldn’t????

      • I am not in the US, and not sure if you are either, but I see mentioned here that divorced spouses may be eligible for benefits on their ex spouses Social Security, that kick in when they retire or it might only be for members of the armed forces? Perhaps someone else more knowledgeable may be able to weigh in.

        • Yes ten years required in cases of D.

          There are rules but generally in a divorce case if one stays unmarried up to a certain age, and the spouses benefits are larger than the betrayed then they can draw the larger amount. Does not affect the amount the earner gets.

          For a widow, I don’t think the marriage has to last ten years, but not sure about that.

          My fw had a city pension not SS, so he only had SS benefit based on part time jobs. he married so he couldn’t draw from mine when we got old enough.

      • There is the ex’s SS benefits and half of his retirement is yours too after divorce if you have been SHM the whole marriage. Now it’s up to him if he still wants to retire early…

        • Also don’t underestimate your skill set. Raising 7 children I am guessing mostly by yourself takes mad skills and nerves of steel. Any position that requires organizational skills would be a great fit for example. Chumps get things done!

          • Thank you that is very encouraging. I do lack a lot of confidence having no career.

            It would be about a thousand a month from what I would be entitled to of his SS. Im suspicious his talk of early retirement is a bluff to discourage me from exiting but don’t know for sure.

            I would get half of our assets. My fear is it would quickly widdle away as I floundered financially then became a bag lady or impose on my children….which I would never want to do.

            Maybe in the sink or swim I would be able to tread water. Thank you for giving hope.
            Wonder how Susan is doing.

            • Fear keeps a lot of us stuck and it sounds like your FW is counting on it. Everyone’s situation is different and I don’t want to assume but after that many years you probably have a house to split and some other assets. FW probably walks around like everything is his since he was the high earner but he is wrong. You earned every little bit of at least half of everything, and it should get to you after divorce. After raising 7 children you can probably downsize and be very comfortable. Don’t be scared, he fucked up and you have much more power than you think you have, he just needs you to believe otherwise because he is scared of the consequences. That alone shows you how powerful you actually are.

              Good luck!

              • My husband also does this , he works so he says it’s his money .I too was a stay at home mom for 35 years. So when it comes to social security I barely have anything. But he does. I did get some of his , which still isn’t enough to live on . He should of retired but he hasn’t because we can’t afford to , but he keeps threatening to retire We’re separated but living in same home for financial reasons He once told me that I didn’t have to worry , he wouldn’t let me live off the streets or out of a shopping cart . I too worry how I’m supposed to live off my social security, I have worked a little in the past but that’s not a option right now , so I stay ,I have my own room , I take care of me and my son , I really wish my spouse would leave go live with his home wrecker .

      • This is a difficult question to answer now because I am 1 year out from physically separating with no contact (other than that required for the divorce proceedings). So the mindfuck ended. You are physically separated but very much subject to his abuse by his daily calls, twice a month visits, & most likely, get togethers with family.
        Some of the ways I started to get healthier emotionally:
        1. I decided not to do anything for him that he could do himself, like reminders of school activities for the kids, medication refills, appointments that we had, etc.
        2. I stopped doing anything socially with him that I wouldn’t do if I were on my own.
        3. I stopped sharing my dreams with him.
        4. I stopped sharing day to day emotions and experiences with him.
        5. I stopped sharing information about the kids with him, unless he asked about something specifically.

        I’m not saying any of this was good, or right, and I shut down from him matter of factory, not angrily. He never noticed!
        If I had to explain something, like why I wouldn’t attend his employee Christmas party, I would say blandly, “ because I don’t feel comfortable pretending that we are happily married.” He wouldn’t respond.
        I kept up my friendships that I had on my own.
        It was a horrible way to exist.
        I kept trying to determine- without any input from him- how much money we had in investments, his 401K, etc. I ran a credit check to see if he had any loans or credit cards I didn’t know about. I went to a few financial planners in the 2 years before I decided to file, and luckily had a father & 2 brothers to run my financial situation over with.
        So basically I tried to live & plan emotionally for being independent & single. I didn’t trust him to care for me, so I didn’t tell him much about myself. It protected me from being heartbroken while I still lived with him.
        I have a friend who was past retirement & had a husband who did the SA program & they were “fine” for more then 10 years until the next DDay. She moved out, they split the investments, both have a house& half their retirement. The she saw him tooling around town in his convertible with a younger woman. She realized that just separating physically, separating the money, and going no contact was not a legal protection for her. She saw a lawyer & got a prenup.
        You are already separated. It may be that you do have enough money for now, paying a rent & a mortgage, or maybe just the rent if your home is paid off. Do you know what your retirement assets are? Find out ALL your assets, then go to an attorney or a financial advisor.
        I think I would have been ok if I had exhausted all efforts to make a better life for myself and couldn’t, vs not trying & caving in to the illusion that it was impossible. Everyone’s standards/ situations differ. I have a disabled adult son. If I couldn’t have afforded a two bedroom apartment I probably wouldn’t have moved out, but I like to think that I would have continued to let the truth of the marriage be known gradually to the other kids. Like “I can’t trust dad. He lived a double life. But We can’t afford to live separately. So living together sucks, and I’m trying my best to find a better way.”

  • Married 37 years, accidently discovered douchebag’s infidelities in plural, kicked him out at 67 but would have left myself if he hadn’t left. Now 69 and loving my life! Only mad at myself for waiting so long. You have a right to live a happy life, no matter what your age. Vote for YOUR happiness and peace of mind and let the guilt go! He has none, believe me.

  • I still believe in love, the reciprocal kind. I still believe in marriage, the healthy sort. There’s a question I’ve asked many women who were abandoned or going through a gray divorce due to their husband’s infidelity and the answer always seems to change the conversation: “If tomorrow morning you awakened to find the winning Mega Million lottery ticket dangling from your refrigerator magnet, would you care if your cheating husband ran off with his other woman?”

    The answer is usually met with a pause, then a resounding “no.” It’s not necessarily the money that changes the outcome, but the opportunities the newfound riches would bring, the security knowing that nightmares of being a lonely bag lady would be a thing of the past, and thoughts of a clean slate to create a curated life, minus the squirrels of insecurity that usually scramble around in a 30-year-old brain, would be incredibly exciting. Think beach house ala Grace & Frankie, freedom to do what you love, freedom to be with people who genuinely enjoy your company, and so much of the world, creatively, physically, and spiritually, at your fingertips.

    Yes, it’s a fantasy. Reality after a long-term divorce often looks much different but the point is fear of the unknown, lack of resources, and the perceived lack of opportunity is usually what keeps one tethered to a dead-end, painful situation. Not longing or love. You can’t make a romantic partner love you. You can’t make a romantic partner want you. They either do, or they don’t. The fear of leaving is real, but so are the possibilities of a new, better life. To paraphrase from a MasterCard commercial: Peace? Priceless.

    As Kenny Rogers once wisely crooned, “You’ve got to know when to hold ’em, know when to fold ’em, know when to walk away, and know when to run…”

  • thanks so much for this post! I, too, am living in limbo for over a year. 38 year marriage, 2nd D-day, why the hell am I still here!?! I leave, come back, cry, drink, and tell family members, my sister, my nieces. Just cannot seem to tell my adult sons! I am not blaming them, but just know it will be, forever changed. We have the best time when we are all together…cooking, playing games, laughing, spending time with grandkids, but it is all fake, my husband lived a double life. I will never forgive his lying, cheating, and gaslighting, and I know one day it will all be over, and I will look back and wonder why it took me so long, and he will be a deer in headlights..

  • Tracy I just want to say how much I love you and the tough love you give to us all!!

    Susan, I’m 55 and it took me 3.5 years to realize my limbo was simply a self-imposed prison and I had the key all along!!! I’m finally finding myself again, like Tracy said, who I was before I was wife and mother. And who I was before he gaslighted me into believing I’m not something wonderful who has a lot to offer the world. We can do this – YOU can do this! This is your fresh start. It’s actually pretty awesome once you really climb on board!!

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