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‘Broken’ Cheater Cheats Again

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timid forest creatureDear Chump Lady,

I need help, I know I do. My beloved wife of 26 years has cheated on me. Again.

The first time was in 2001. She went into counseling and we wound up having a pretty happy life together, until 2019. We had been drifting apart a bit, as couples might in their later years, and I discovered an emotional affair with a guy 15 years her junior. I got the sense that it was a one-way thing, and the guy really wasn’t into her. Two years later it flared up again. Again he shut it down (I know from the various means I used to figure this stuff out) and she was pissed.

Now I’ve found out about a full on physical affair that took place over the course of the last month or so. A few days later I called the guy’s wife and told her. We were able to coordinate our intel to get a picture of what was going on. A week after I confronted her about the affair (which she acknowledged), I caught her in his truck in flagrante delicto. And I got a picture. I kicked her out of the house (temporarily).

I told our kids (21, 19, & 15) what was going on and now they’re pissed at her. Our 15-year-old won’t talk to her at all, the other two tolerate her. And she’s pissed at me because they are pissed at her. I’m supposed to have defended her case to them. I did tell them that I wasn’t a perfect husband or father and that she’s got complaints that are legitimate, but their response to be was the same “Yeah but Dad – she CHEATED!)”

She feels like she’s been denied a lot of things in our marriage, and truthfully, she married a selfish, immature man-child all those years ago. I also worked full-time and had a part-time gig as a musician in a very popular local band. We played out most weekends, so I came home with extra money in my pocket (that we needed badly), but I also committed the sin of having a side hustle that paid well and was, on the whole, a lot of fun. The selfish man-child no longer exists — the man I have become is kind, gentle, loving, responsible, helpful, trustworthy, and hard working. In other words, a true Chump. I recognize I caused her to lose out on many things that she wanted in the marriage.

I’ve got my own complaints too –- she always wanted to be “Super Employee” and “Super Mom” by going above and beyond what was needed for her job and her kids, but there was never anything left for me. Our sex life was pathetic, if we were intimate once a month over the course of the marriage that would be surprising. When I did do things to help out around the house, I frequently got in trouble for not doing them her way, so I learned to not bother doing anything.

But here’s the rub, Chump Lady. I love her. It’s that simple. I do love this woman. My brain knows that the best course of action is to divorce her but my heart, ahh my heart…

My heart wants to find a way to put it all back together and make it work. My heart wants to take this wretched, broken woman into my arms and tell her everything will be ok, we’ll make this work out, we can fix this.

I need you, Chump Lady, to give me the reality check I am so desperately in need of. I am but a lowly Chump, full of misguided love for an utterly broken woman.

Help me, Chump Lady.

SlowLearnerChump

Dear SLC,

I sense you’ve spent some time with the Reconciliation Industrial Complex before washing up on our shores. (I stripped out the “betrayed spouse” acronyms.) The big tell: you think she’s “broken.”

Your wife is not broken. YOU’re broken. She’s fucking in a truck. You’re writing an anonymous blogger begging for your sanity.

Please stop giving her a pass and blaming yourself. She has agency. She knows exactly what she’s doing.

You both have the normal gripes that come with being married for 26 years, but only one of you expresses their dissatisfaction with screwing around.

Let’s take this apart, okay?

We had been drifting apart a bit, as couples might in their later years, and I discovered an emotional affair with a guy 15 years her junior.

She was checked out and directing her attention elsewhere, no wonder the marriage ship was adrift. But let’s say for the sake of argument you both contributed to the drift. She had a whole bunch of ethical options — redirect her attention to you, get therapy, suggest therapy, suggest divorce, boil her head in a hot yoga retreat, find happiness in Golden Retriever puppy videos — a gazillion other options! All ethical!

She chose: Pursue younger man. For YEARS.

You didn’t make her do that. You didn’t drive her to it. She CHOSE it.

And it wasn’t her first affair. So, you have a partner who thinks deception is a life skill. You can’t work with that.

Oh hang on, you did work with that and got…. more cheating.

It truly doesn’t matter if her complaints are legitimate or not. There isn’t a couple on the face of the planet who doesn’t have a legitimate complaint about their partner.

A frivolous example: Mr. CL is on a Timex watch binge. “LOOK! IT GLOWS IN THE DARK!” I am exasperating in countless ways, one of which is I don’t sufficiently appreciate his cheap watch collection. But no one is fucking around on the other, although our complaints are totally legit. The watches make him happy. He works hard. I shut up. He gives me a pass for my failure to understand his treasures.

But if we were looking to trump up charges, this works. CN has actually done such pretexts as a Friday challenge — known here as “Bagged Salad” — reasons you drove them to cheat.

You were in a rock band. Okay. You were once young and immature. Okay. You probably make coffee wrong. Or serve bagged salad. Your failures, real or imagined, don’t drive people to abuse you. Your wife CHOSE to abuse you.

She also chose to stay. Because you’re of use. Because cake is nice. Because you add value to her life. Had you truly sucked epically, she could’ve left. But apparently, you’re only awful enough to cheat on, but not awful enough to leave.

Don’t mistake her staying as love. (Similarly chumps, don’t mistake being left for being unlovable.) Your wife is a serial cheater, a congenital user.

I love her. It’s that simple. I do love this woman. My brain knows that the best course of action is to divorce her but my heart, ahh my heart… 

There isn’t a single person here who didn’t love the person who betrayed them. Who didn’t have a deep investment. That’s part of the chump territory, my friend.

My heart wants to find a way to put it all back together and make it work. My heart wants to take this wretched, broken woman into my arms and tell her everything will be ok, we’ll make this work out, we can fix this.

Well, that’s a nice fairytale. You’ll just rewrite the script that this woman isn’t power tripping on you, risking your health, devaluing you, abusing you with her double lives. No, she’s a damsel in distress and YOU are in the power seat, holding her, helping her through this hard time.

You aren’t a vulnerable chump, no, you’re a strong man, helping a broken, misunderstood woman. A timid forest creature. And together you’ll fight for your marriage and improve it all thanks to infidelity!

This is the hopium bullshit the RIC peddles. Don’t bring it here.

I know it hurts like a motherfucker, but even your children see what she’s doing (and that’s tragic). Don’t model dysfunction to them. Find your dignity and end this. This is three affairs that you KNOW of. There were probably more (ask a few million of us how we know). The tally doesn’t matter. You matter.

Please lawyer up. Your heart will catch up with your head eventually. Promise.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • “But apparently, you’re only awful enough to cheat on, but not awful enough to leave.”

    Kind of sums up the whole ball game, doesn’t it?

    • As I always say, if I am unhappy with a restaurant, I don’t continue to eat there.

    • Yep. Basically, sums up what my ex said and did. I was this horrible husband but she stayed with me for 24 years???

      • They stay generally because the chump makes a decent salary, they are using the chump for something they need!

        • I was a “horrible wife” but mine stayed with me for 30 years…while constantly telling me how much he loved me…how we were “two peas in a pod”…until the seriously younger woman voiced interest in him. It’s all BS…no one lives with someone for 24 or 30 years if they are THAT miserable. Something shiny and new came along and suddenly we’re sh*t. That’s how it works. But Miss SparkleTwat or Mr. SparkleDick will fade with time…

      • You provided security and protection , I did the same with my X , the sparkledick provided the entertainment. So then I chose to let him provide the security and protection. He was a miserable failure….looking back today I actually laugh to myself.

        • Well said…similar story but “rainbows and butterflys” only lasted 3 days before reality kiced in …..

    • Yep, this is what gets me. I had ex friends and ex family say things to me like “What was he supposed to do?!” And I’m like, not lie to me? Or just fucking leave? Or just tell me the truth?

      And then it’s all “BuT yOu WoUld HaVe LeFt HiM!”

      Ohhhhh, so I’m the horrible, evil, controlling, abusive bitch who wouldn’t let him be happy and wouldn’t let him leave but I also had to be lied to and abused so that I would never leave him. But if he wanted his freedom so badly, wouldn’t it have been a good thing for him if I left him?

      They all have this bizarre, disgusting idea that he was doing me a huge favor (against my will) by staying with me and hating me and abusing me. And I’m supposed to be grateful for it. He actually told me that it was a favor to me and he hated me and hated our entire marriage and I had a moment of strength and said “Why would you sacrifice 20 years of your life doing a favor for someone you fucking hate? What bullshit.” And ex friends and family are all “See! That means he loved you!”

      No, it means I was fucking useful. He used me.

      Slowlearnerchump, she’s using you. You’re useful. She’s even got you talking shit about yourself to your own children to prop up her image. I’m not judging there, I thought I was the problem too. I was seeing doctors and being put on medication and thought I was such a burden on my family.

      No. If she was really unhappy, she’d leave. Instead she cheated because you are useful and fun to abuse. She doesn’t want a healthier marriage nor does she want a new life. She wants to abuse you because that makes sex spicy and exciting for her, having someone to abuse and hurt. She’s a typical cake eating serial cheater. Read through this whole blog, read the comments. You’ll find exact things she’s said and done that others have experience. They aren’t as special and unique as they want to think they are. Read it all, let it sink in, accept the reality, and then get her the fuck out of your life. When you get away from them, you really see them for what they are and that love is going to turn into disgust. You’ll wonder how you tolerated her for so long.

      • “You’ll wonder how you tolerated her for so long”.

        👆👆👆

        Yes, you will, I totally subscribe to what Katie just said. Listen to her, you won’t regret loosing your fuckwit cheater wife.

        I’m exactly at that point now, shaking my head in disbelief every single day as to how could I have put up with so much shit. Just so you know, SLC: male chump here, 20 years marriage, 2 minor kids with the cheater, 1 year and 7 months from the first discovery of her affair, separated ftom her for 1 year and 5 months, divorced by the grace of god last november.

        Life gets better by the day now. And the peace… oh, the peace! And I thought I would love her forever too and that I was never gonna make it without her. I now consider loosing the cheater *the best thing I ever did for myself*. It’s doable and well worth it, listen to your chump fellows here. And since you’re at that, root out from your life *every single person* that tries or tried in the past to blameshift this shit on you (with the possible exceptions of your parents and kids, of course, but it fortunately doesn’t look like to be the case).

        Rooting for you from afar.
        (((Hughs)))

      • “She wants to abuse you because that makes sex spicy and exciting for her”
        Yes this.
        I think serial cheaters are actually incapable of sex without the deception.
        SLC she needs you around as foreplay.
        It hurts like a motherfucker but the sooner you get rid of her the sooner you will heal. Get a good support network of friends and family (and lawyer) and kick her out.

        • Exactly as you and KP have said.

          SLC, you are part the foreplay and that’s such a slap in the face.

          SLC, your kids are mighty in that they see the truth. Please do this for them too. Show them that love does not mean watching your wife fuck someone else in their truck. They already have your back. They have lived through the dysfunction of the marriage too.

          It’s hard to make a big change, but she is using and abusing you.

          Life is SO MUCH BETTER on the other side. I didn’t stick around to give the FW cake, and I was so in love with him. But now I realize I am so much more content without him.

          To quote Pink: “If someone said 3 years from now you’d be long gone I’d stand up and punch them out, cuz they’re all wrong. I knew better, cuz you said forever, and ever, who knew?”

          Who knew I’d be happier without him? He didn’t know, I didn’t know. And yet I am living my best life post-FW.

      • That man was a monster!!!! I’m so sorry for you that is a nightmare. Your friends on top of that? Where’s the support? So this guy thinks any woman should be so lucky to invest in him while he’s betraying them and CLEARLY emotionally / psychologically abusive, and your friends agreed? What is wrong with people? I don’t like to use the term because it’s used for every little thing but THAT is internalized mysogyny from you those old friends. Like no, nobody who’s honest and loyal deserves that.

        He hated you? No he hates being held accountable so when you have appropriate fury we’ll, he just deserves to be treated like a prince at all times. What an utter piece of trash. I’m so sorry you went through that honestly nobody deserves that. He should’ve treasured you, it’s an honour for anyone to be loyal to us and share their lives in an honest way.

        Hug Katie!

      • KatiePig,
        You said it…the hard truth..

        “And ex friends and family are all “See! That means he loved you!”

        No, it means I was fucking useful. He used me.”

        That is the hardest part of all of this…my ex never loved me…I was just a placeholder and a prop. He used me for 30 years until something new and shiny came along that suited him better. There should be retribution to those of us used in that way. But, that will never happen. All we can do is swallow it and move on.

    • it truly does. They like you stuck and hanging on. Dancing as pretty as you know how. Meanwhile they have zero investment beyond the sunk costs of finding another chump/ spouse appliance to do 90% of the heavy lifting in the marraige.

  • When I walked away I thought to myself, how many times am I going to take this man back and allow him to keep hurting me? I chose to walk to the lawyer’s office.You need to chose your hurt. You still give the same energy to both… making up, keep loving her through that affairs and disrespect or you walk right into a lawyer office, demand your dignity back and keep moving on without her. I really hope you walk into the lawyer office and get yourself back. You did everything you could but she is not the same as you. You have a loving heart and wouldn’t hurt her like this ever. Your children see this and you know this about yourself! I hope you chose to walk away. You deserve to be #1 priority in someone’s life.

    • SweetChump Girl, Even if that some one is yourself!!!!! I’ve been trying to treat myself the way I would want to be treated. It is wonderful to be spoken too in a kind and respectful tone of voice. I flourish when my needs are considered. Be your own priority for a change.

      • Chump Girl – “choose your hurt” is one of the wisest things I’ve ever heard! I could have used those words a few years ago. Damn smart!!

  • Don’t be me. Don’t live this abusive cycle of cheating and reconciliation followed by more cheating for decades. Wait you already did! Ok be me! Get a therapist who tells you “Adultery is abuse.” (Ok, infidelity is the preferred terminology, I’m quoting my therapist!) !Internalize infidelity is abuse and wisely get a divorce!

    My kids were not surprised when I divorced Fuckface. My youngest asked, “Mom, what took you so long?” My kids have benefitted from seeing me leave an abuser. I am close to my adult children. I have their support and love. I am modeling how to not tolerate abuse. Be me and leave that cheater to gain a life.

    I loved LTC Fuckface with all of my intensely nerdy heart. I was devoted. I let the RIC persuade me that the issue was me. It nearly ended me. I was convinced that I could love him enough that he would see how he hurt me and the kids with his cheating. It isn’t possible. My therapist and Chump Lady helped me learn to love myself more. I learned to become my own Mama Grizzly Bear and protect me from the abuse of infidelity.
    I am eternally grateful for Tracy and her 2×4 of truth.

    Love yourself and those kids enough to divorce this cheater. She doesn’t love you. She doesn’t deserve another chance. Give yourself a chance at a cheater free life.

    • Yup, I LOVED Major Cheaterpants to his last breath. I lived and breathed hopium.

      It is only now that I look back and I SEE SO CLEARLY that he told me & showed me that (although he liked what benefits our marriage provided) he HATED being stuck with me and all the normal requirements society put on that.

      • Unicorn, it seems like it wasn’t “being stuck with you” that he hated, because he WASN’T stuck with you. I’ve thought this distinction before when I’ve read your comments. He chose to stay with you, as much as he tried to make it seem like he was trapped, doing you a favor, burdened, etc. I think he hated being an adult. He was immature and entitled – and delusional. He didn’t have integrity and he didn’t want to be held accountable for himself. Poor TFC. He would’ve felt unhappy and resentful with others, just like he would’ve felt the same way alone. He’s a blameshifter (“you’re only awful enough to cheat on, but not awful enough to leave”). He got lucky with you, because he was fortunate enough to spend his life with a strong, capable, ethical, intelligent, loyal and kind person. His kids grew up with a good mother. If it hadn’t been you, he would’ve run abusive cycles around someone else. I’m sure he was terrible to his APs, too.

    • ThirtyThreeYears, I can’t wait to speak with your clarity and resolve. Five months out and thirty years a chump. I feel very far away from loving myself, but I guess the first step was the strength it took to escape. Thanks for real hope, not hopium.

  • SL – No contact. Not to get even, not as a manipulative game. It is the ONLY way your heart can catch up with your brain.

    Besides, you’re going to be busy sharing what you’ve found with a lawyer and an individual therapist. And a 12 Step program if you still feel obligated to fix her.

    Read the archives about next steps, she’s probably miles ahead of you. And you have kids to finish raising.

    • “It is the ONLY way your heart can catch up with your brain.”

      So, so, SOOOO true!! Grey rock in my case, but still true. My heart caught up with my brain really fast once he moved out and I wasn’t experiencing constant manipulation.

      So many friends have said to me “oh I would have been so angry! I would have kicked him out in an instant.” That’s extremely easy to say when you’re on the outside. But when you’re the frog in the boiling water, not so much. It’s a huge leap to jump out of the pot. After all, the water is bearable. Why jump?

      And then you’re out of the water. It wasn’t until grey rock that I felt that anger for the first time. Crazy. I had been too emotionally worn down to experience anger. I don’t like being angry now when it pops up, but I sincerely appreciate the fact that my emotions are now tied to reality!

      Your heart will get there, SL.

      • TBT: I’ve been using the frog analogy for a while, but you just helped me see it in a new way.

        SLC: You will fully realize just how much pain you’ve been in only when you get out of the pot. If you’re lucky enough to get out.

        That’s what makes Tuesday so amazing. When you finally get there, the peace, contentment, and happiness – the utter lack of pain in your life – feels extraordinary.

        The irony is that the whole time you’re in it (the pot/marriage), you fight to stay in it because you’re mostly numb, believe you deserve the pain you do feel, and think that being out of it will be too painful to bear.

        The truth is quite opposite. I think so many people equate love with pain because, where there is no love, pain at least gives you something to feel. And feeling something is better than being empty.

        • Chump Queen,
          I have to re-read this—trying to figure out why I stayed in spite of the daily abuse through
          with-holding, gaslighting and coldness. Feeling hope was painful but seemed better than jumping out into the abyss. Feeling pain keeps you battling to survive.
          Living in crumbs and pain is a toxic diet.
          But it can keep you feeling alive.

  • SLC, you need to get your head out of the blender! Your will fe is a cheater and has been for many years. There are probably other partners that you are not even aware of. You need to recognize that you are not to blame for her choices. Her choices are completely on her. She chose to cheat because she has no character. You have no reciprocal love in this marriage. She could have been honest with you but she chose not to be. You had no voice in her decisions. There is nothing to work with.
    The last couple of days here have been a bit triggering since my memories of being a new chump are still quite recent. The first thing you need to realize is that there is no trust left here. You can not have a real marriage without trust. The only thing you can trust is the fact that she sucks. This needs to be your mantra as you lawyer up, line up ducks, get finances in order and all the other things that need to be done to show your kids that you have boundaries. It hurts and it is definitely not fun to eat those shit sandwiches but you have to do it unless you want to remain with a cheater. Start practicing grey rock as soon as you can. The cheater will shuffle through all types of moods but you need to grey rock. Get the lawyer as soon as you can they will guide you.
    You will need to get the cheater out in order to start healing. Work with you attorney to get her out and see that the kids remain with the sane parent. Be sure to get STD tested. Listen to the advice of your fellow chumps. We are all going this or have gone through this. You can do it. I am in the midst of settling with my FW and hopefully that will be settled in the next few days and then freedom will come shortly thereafter. My son is older so I do not have experience with younger kids. We are no contact with the FW and everything goes through lawyers so I don’t give him a chance for any kibble through engagement. Good luck. You can do this. It sucks but you will make it through. I am seeing light at the end of the tunnel of shit sandwiches and am following that light.

  • You own no part of her decision or action of cheating. That is entirely on her. She would have to fully accept this moral fact for there to be any hope of marriage resurrection. Clearly, she doesn’t. You have nothing to work with here.

    • Divorce Minister,
      It’s great to find your post here today.
      I found you here via Chump Lady.
      I recommend your book “Cheated On”
      & your website “divorceminister.com”

        • Dear Divorce Minister,
          So sorry, my post did come off as a robotic plug. LOL, but it was really
          a sort of prayer. When I read some posts, sometimes, I instantly believe they need your ministry & would benefit greatly IF
          they washed up on your electronic shore
          and got your book in hand.
          Your formal education + your personal experience with adultery makes you
          quite unique & very valuable.
          Plug? Prayer? Both? + an Arrow
          pointing to you & your important work.
          I look forward to your future posts here
          as I continue to visit your website also.
          I’m a big fan of succinct truths & you excel in that too.

  • OP has a picture! Evidence! Could be useful depending on his jurisdiction. It could mean more of the assets would go to him or at least he would not have to pay her any spousal support.

    OP needs to run to the attorney and get the wheels in motion. The “but I love her” will go away when you do some things. First, stop contact with her. She chose other men several times now. I doubt she is sitting home boo hooing alone. Second, let’s get back to you doing things you enjoy. Take the kids on a trip. Get the band back together for a reunion show. Imagine a picture of yourself and the FW… only the FW isn’t in it. What will life look like without her? Well, less wondering if you have to police another adult to keep her knockers on. Sounds like you had a full scale snoop operation. Software? Key logger? Air Tags? CN has been there, my friend. Stop spending your life being a prison warden for someone who is keen to seek out whatever sparkly dick lands her way. You can have a better life once you unload this dead weight. Stop carrying the burden of being the chump. Be mighty. Lawyer up.

  • SLC,

    If you haven’t done so already, please read CL’s book.
    https://www.amazon.com/Leave-Cheater-Gain-Life-Survival/dp/0762458968

    It might help give you the courage–yes, courage–to leave an abusive situation. I suspect you’re staying with this woman in large part because of fear of the unknown, yet you tell yourself that you’re staying because you love her and want to save her.

    Save yourself, instead!

    As CL puts it, “Find your dignity and end this.” Your kids will take note!

    Good luck!

    • Spinach:
      “It might help give you the courage–yes, courage–to leave an abusive situation. I suspect you’re staying with this woman in large part because of fear of the unknown, yet you tell yourself that you’re staying because you love her and want to save her.”

      You are so right! I found the courage by reading the book. When the suggested postnuptial agreement wasn’t forthcoming and he hired back the howorker, I was ready to file. I had already consulted an attorney as recommended in LACGAL

      SLC
      No one likes the idea of losing so much in assets and the emotional upheaval is awful. It’s ALSO awful if you continue to allow this disrespect. READ THE BOOK.

  • So, what exactly is it that you ” love” about the cheating wife? That’s not love, whatever you come up with there. You are feeling some sort of screwed up abuse based emotion but it’s not love. I learned this the hard way, myself.

    • Agree. SLC’s strong feelings for his wife are likely more a result of trauma bonding than actual love. Us chumps are prone to mistake a trauma bond for love.

      If there’s abuse, dishonor, unkindness, selfishness and lying it’s not love.

      • GratefullyDivorcedDad,
        You wrote exactly what I immediately thought after reading SlowLearnerChump’s letter: His might be, to some degree, another case of “Trauma Bonding”.
        Only way out of such a tangled, knotted, insidious Deception is to embark on a serious Truth Seeking Mission.

    • I believe sometimes it is just hard to give up on a relationship we have a big investment in. You want to get dividends, not a major sell-off.
      Sometimes you have to “fold them” and realize you can’t fix it, it is beyond repair. You have not failed, you won a new shot at life.

  • This letter illustrates one fact perfectly: no one is the perfect spouse. We all do stuff in our marriage that is not nice. But this fact has absolutely nothing to do with lying. It has absolutely nothing to do with cheating.

    Cheating is above and beyond. It is not at all like other transgressions. Cheating is voiding the very foundation of a relationship.

    There is not one bad thing a spouse can do to warrant being assaulted or cheated on.

    Normalize divorce.

    Divorce is the only way to “affair proof” a marriage.

    • Yep. Of course no one is perfect.

      X: “I know I shouldn’t have had and affair, BUT you weren’t perfect”….as if that makes what he did not only justified but also completely understandable.

      Society supports this justification. People agree that “the heart wants what the heart wants.” People wonder what we chumps did to cause our spouses to cheat. People assume that the marriage wasn’t good. Sometimes people straight up applaud cheaters because, hey, they simply want love and who can find fault with that?

      It’s infuriating…until you stop caring. #meh

    • Dr Ramani has a video out on how that is the narcissist’s go to excuse for everything. “Nobody’s perfect.” Which, yes, nobody is. But how big of a marital transgression are we talking here? Maybe I let paperwork stack up on the bar, but he pretended to be at work while he was out having sex with his coworker.

      • My XW said this exact thing in court when I told the judge about her spending an entire weekend at a regional amusement park with her AP while I sat at home with the kids (2 & 4) , under the premise of her taking a weekend off alone to determine which was most important to her. I wish you could have seen that judge’s expression/reaction when she said that . Absolutely priceless.

  • No one is perfect, every couple has something that annoys them about the other.
    Even if you kept the house immaculate, she would still cheat. This is who she is, it’s her character.

    Your heart is holding onto an image of who you thought you married. That person is an imposter and never existed. It’s a harsh reality we’ve all had to face.
    You don’t share the same values. She isn’t capable of changing, this is who she is.

    • Or, to rephrase: her cheating not about you and whatever flaws you may or may not have brought to the marriage. It’s about her, and her lack of character.

      That’s the ugly truth that the “affair-proof your marriage” people can’t admit to themselves: you can’t prevent an affair that wasn’t about you in the first place.

      • Totally true.
        We had a very active sex life (to the extent of me fulfilling all types of his sexual fantasies-to my physical and psychological detriment) and he still cheated. Nothing will “affair proof” a marriage when the other person doesn’t give two shits about you.

        • “Nothing will “affair proof” a marriage when the other person doesn’t give two shits about you.”

          Exactly.

          Each person is responsible for their own morals, it is not my fault if my H were to rob a bank, it would be his fault. Assuming I didn’t know about it, or drive the get away car.

          I would of course suffer a lot of the fallout of his actions, just like I did when fw betrayed me. But I didn’t drive the get away car, whore did that.

  • I have been blamed, like many here, for the feelings of Beautiful Daughter toward her DAD (Doublecrossing Asshat Douchecanoe), Traitor X.

    I only recently realized (I’m just over four years out from DDay), that he actually has it backwards. The shift in my feelings toward him were actually inspired by her.

    She wants nothing to do with him and does not speak to him. I was much more tolerant of him for a long time, and, noticing her feelings toward him, started wondering why. Hey, maybe she’s onto something here.

    Now, as the people who were closest to him, both of us want nothing to do with him, and he still thinks of himself as a Relationship Genius who has the qualifying skills for an intimate long-term
    relationship. The smoldering ruins of his family prove otherwise; the only relationship he is qualified to participate in is one where you pay your partner by the hour. He’s too laser-focused on himself to see otherwise, not to mention incapable of the honesty and introspection necessary for inner work.

    You really have to step hard on a child for them to not want anything to do with you.
    It took my mother (also a cheater) forty years to find my breaking point. He found out daughter’s in eleven. Her feelings toward him are absolutely appropriate. Trust and safety are the essential elements of a healthy relationship; she doesn’t trust him and she shouldn’t. He isn’t trustworthy.

    I now think my daughter connected the dots about who he is way before I did because her perception wasn’t obfuscated in the way mine was. Her feelings toward him were a big part of what broke the spell for me and shepherded my thoughts and feelings about him into the proper perspective.

    • ….and as for the safety element of that foundation? Parents are supposed to act to protect the family, strengthen the family, provide SECURITY.

      I see nothing pathological in a child who wants nothing to do with a trusted parent, who has the job of family protector, burning the house down with their family inside.

      I think most people would take issue with a bodyguard who compromised the security of the people he was hired to protect.

    • Loved this, “You really have to step hard on a child for them to not want anything to do with you.”

      Yes, it took me the longest time to even get that. Our kids were in college when my ex took off, but they had been commenting for years about how badly he behaved at home and would periodically ask me why I tolerated the stonewalling and gaslighting. They knew.

      When he finally made a break for it and lived like we didn’t exist, they shut the door to their hearts. They wanted nothing to do with him and were barely talking to me as it was. He accused me of alienating them of course, but the reality is that it was HIS behavior that had broken the ties.

      Eventually, I worked things out with our kids (now working professionals), but they remain steadfast in their attitude towards their father. He is untrustworthy and abandoned them. Now post-divorce, I have to agree.

    • My original trusted beloved therapist used to say, “Every relationship has problems. You want a partner you can work through problems with.”

      I thought I had done that because there was a therapist on board our entire relationship. Regular attendance on the preventive maintenance, ongoing education plan. Or so I thought. I mistook his physical presence for sincere participation. I found out/realized he was Lies and Lip Service probably all 27 years. (Learn and don’t be me, all you newcomers who think going to therapy will fix this. He lied for 27 years, and is still lying, four years since he left, in the coparenting therapy HE nagged ME, after he left, for 1.5 YEARS, to attend with him. And He Who Left recently disclosed that feels angry and like he has “been cut out” of our family. I said, “You LEFT.” Can you say Cray Cray?)

      After watching three episodes of Undercover Underage, I am now wondering if I was a cover story for him, a mirage (not a marriage) to hide even darker, more nefarious secrets. The perps arrested on that program, chased by an episode of See No Evil featuring a man who assaulted and killed his own daughter, have me wondering how I will ever trust anyone ever again.

      When you find out you are partnered with a cheater, consider it hard proof that you have an infestation of cockroaches that you will never be able to eradicate. Leave them to their fellow cockroaches and hold out for better things. You have no idea what else they are hiding, and it’s safe to assume that someone who has the capacity to deliberately hurt you and their own children like this has no capacity to love anyone. Love is not selectively bestowed upon others;
      that is manipulation.

      Every person, every relationship, has issues. But cheaters change people, not patterns, and they take their patterns with them to everyone they’re with. And anyone they’re with has issues too.

      I consider myself to have gotten away cheaply compared to the wives of Scott Peterson, Chris Watts, and other family annihilators who wanted a “clean slate” for them and their new hosts.

      He actually said he wanted a “clean slate”. I told him he doesn’t get a clean slate, that he has a rap sheet.

      I’m the one who actually gets the clean slate…..

      • My attorney commented several times that what I knew was what my ex wanted me to know. What was underneath was probably even worse. If we went to trial, we would dig that out. Further in, his attorney began blabbing everything to mine, which was a stupid move. What my attorney was hearing was indeed very bad. I told him to summarize and spare the details. Thankfully, we did indeed settle without a trial.

        I’m another who got away cheaply, all things considered.

      • Profound words VH.
        There is no doubt in my mind that cheaters employ “couples therapy” to thicken the smokescreen of which we see them through. They attend to manipulate and further abuse.
        It was a DV counsellor who first told me she does not believe in “marriage counselling” with an abuser as it only creates a venue for the abuser to further abuse. She said unless the facilitator is highly trained in this arena, can this be navigated but even then, the victim of abuse is wide open for further assaults.
        I was perplexed when she told me this.
        Until I attended marriage counselling afterwards and now still have nightmares about how he’d sit smugly with a smirk on his face as I squirmed in agony.
        This is another reason why I’ve studied Chris Watts, OJ and Peterson footage. It is a reminder that I GOT OUT.

        • “I’ve studied Chris Watts, OJ and Peterson footage”

          I don’t really fear violence from FW, but I have some stills saved where Peterson is making the same smug, contemptuous, and condescending faces that FW always did.

          • I remember the looks on Petersons face. Scary.

            My fw used to smirk when he was trying to pull one off. Not necessarily big things. Like once I walked into the garage where he was working, and he swung around and stood there with a smirk on his face. I figured out quickly that he was hiding his cigarette behind his back, he had said he was quitting smoking, so he was attempting to hide it from me. I don’t know why, because I did want him to quit, but I didn’t nag him about it; there was absolutely no reason for him to hide it. Things like that.

            • Oh my God! My ex did exactly the same! Fag behind his back, smirking because he thought I couldn’t see it! Do they do ANYTHING original and unique?

              • I know, I just wish I had seen it for what it was then.

                He was good at making a joke out of things.

      • Velvet once again you have reminded me of my own gratefulness to have escaped, alive . The recognition of the Ex’s bullying habits, addiction ,lies , by omission and full on , cheating was pervasive through the marriage and he came with a record prior to marriage. My overcharged optimism and belief people can change was a big let down . Each event he created I’d tell myself , he was working through some type of immaturity or foolish mistake , I reasoned the shit of things to ridiculous except ace. He would try to minimize the event or behavior by changing the facts to fit a distorted narrative , big opologetic tears that were a ruse and excuses for why he did the cheating after first being angry at being caught. He did everything to through me off the trail of truth. Four years divorced and I recognize the full evil and very possible darker evil he might have had . I’m trying get through the trama of all the times he might of set me up for an accidents that never came to fruition. Realizing his desperation was becoming more threatening before we split because his lies were catching up and his cover blown. The physical assaults. The grown kids were disgusted with the cheating but he has a very fake remorseful way to make himself so broken and how Mom didn’t deserve this ( which is true) but he uses this speech to his own sake and to manipulate . Ourgrown kids have come to there own conclusions , two want nothing to do with him. It will always be a take away how our family was blown to bits but we are all mending from it and going on with life. I look back at all of our hopium and he just crashed that time after time. I just hope none of the kids mimic his behavior attitudes and manipulative bullying character!

      • Same here, VelvetHammer. My late ex-h FW has a rap sheet for DV. Once the threat comes, call the cops asap. I did finally and it gave him very little in the divorce settlement.

      • Towards the bitter end, Cheater #3 and I were driving somewhere at night.

        We were talking – calmly and without acrimony – about the poor state of our relationship. I said something about trusting him, and he said in reply, “I could take you to a vacant lot and strangle you”.

        This was a shy, highly respectable Catholic lawyer. It was said as a joke – except that his voice was serious, and he’d never made that kind of joke before.

        It seemed a very detailed thing to say. Almost as if he’d thought it through.

        But even then, I didn’t run screaming. I replied, “I’d be glad that it was you who was killing me.”

        That both freaked him out and shut him up. I think he also realised that he was going to have to find another woman to get him out of the relationship. Clearly threatening to murder me wasn’t going to work.

        I simply wouldn’t let go. That’s how deep this Cinderella shit soaks into a person. I Can Save Him. I Can Change Him.

        • My ex told his divorce attorney that he knew how to kill me and get away with it. Maybe he was joking, maybe not. Just stupid though. Being an officer of the court, his attorney HAD to tell mine. We would have called his attorney to testify if we had pursued a protective order, and that would have been a mess of course.

          My attorney was very somber about telling me that, but we decided not to push for a protective order. My ex had settled many states away, telling me repeatedly that he would never, ever set foot in this state again. He was actively fighting anything that required him to come back to this area in the divorce. The two attorneys were working well together, and we were very close to a good agreement, just fighting over minor stuff. So we pushed it to settlement and got it done without any face-to-face at all.

          My attorney made me promise to keep it all business during closeout and then go behind a wall unless it was a potential legal matter. No cards, no newsy emails. Just done. Yup.

  • “she always wanted to be “Super Employee” and “Super Mom” by going above and beyond what was needed for her job and her kids, but there was never anything left for me.”
    There was never anything left over for you, but she had plenty of time to pursue and participate in affairs, which take lots of time and effort. It’s hard to face, but if there was never anything left over for you, it wasn’t because she was being a super mom and super employee, it was because she was being a cheater instead of being a wife.
    And her idea of being a Supermom apparently includes telling the kids you’re to blame for her affairs and cheating. Nope, not how it works.

  • Many of us here still “loved” our spouses as we filed for divorce.
    This is what helped me, maybe it will help you:
    I found a terrific therapist and the first words I said to her at the start of every session were:
    Help me leave this marriage.
    You see, like you, I didn’t want to, but I knew I had to.
    Every session: Help me get out of this marriage.
    It’s great you have asked for help. That’s the first step. Good Luck!

    • TooManyTears –
      I see my IC next week. First thing I’ll tell her is “Help me leave this marriage.”
      That’s great, and it’s what I need. I know what I need. I need to do it though.

      • Don’t feel bad about the delay…
        I waited 6 years – from his first discovered EA to his last and final EA/PA – to summon up the courage to try and break free.
        It was a hard road out, but I have never regretted it. To be honest, sometimes I still feel like I miss him. But it’s fleeting, and I know I did the right thing.
        I really wish you strength and focus and to stay on the path! You can do it.

    • It’s like a heroin addict , they know that if they keep it up , it’s going to kill them. So the the choice becomes use and die or quit and live.

  • I am so sorry to have to say this you love what she represents not her because how can you love someone who hurts you over and over. Good luck compadre.

  • It seems almost every Chump has to write how much they messed up. You called yourself a man child. People who marry young have gotten a good dose of Cinderella or Macho Man. It makes reality uncomfortable. We grow up. You did. She didn’t. It is that simple.

    One experiment is leaving young children alone with cookies and told not to eat them.. Very young ones can’t control themselves but the older the children the better they are able to control themselves. How old, emotionally, do you think your wife is? She has cruised through life taking any man that reciprocated, even if he was married. You want her to be an adult but she is not……and never will be.

    • We all are immature at times, but it’s the rotten, big-stroke decisions that break a marriage.

      My wonderful attorney stopped using my ex’s name partway into the divorce and started calling him “the boy.” Now mind you, my ex was retired when we separated. I was going to work part-time for a few years while we still had college bills, and then we were going to be empty nesters and travel.

      So I asked my attorney why “boy”? He said because my ex no longer deserved to be called a man. He had thrown off his responsibilities as a husband, father, and more, and was acting like a foolish child, running from his problems.

      Yes, that helped me.

  • “Tell her everything will be ok” Do you think she’s sitting around thinking about how things aren’t ok? Do you think she is wishing you would rescue her from herself? No, and no. She is more than ok with her affairs and her chump husband putting up with her, and she thinks she is splendid and deserving of the opportunity to abuse you further

    .

    Please divorce this worthless woman, and save your love for someone who deserves it. Show your children through demonstration what they should do if this ever happens to them. Would you want any of them to stick with someone who was abusing them? Of course not. They don’t want you to, either.

    Regarding your feelings for her, I swear they will fade after the divorce. You will find yourself wondering what you ever saw in her. The sooner you get away from her, the sooner you will be happy. Lawyer up!

  • Great advice, once again, from our CL.
    “You have a partner who thinks deception is a life skill. You can’t work with that”
    Completely agree!
    I think it would be helpful for you to read Dr. Minwalla’s article on “The secret sexual basement” phenomenon.
    I just reread it this morn and go back to it often. It lets you in to the deep level of mind fuck these disturbed individuals put us through and really spells out the psychological impact it has on us. Such an excellent article, would highly recommend.
    It isn’t only the infidelity that’s going on here, it’s a complete take down of your world view and deeply damaging on levels that will surface more once you are out.
    Please don’t stay with this woman, she’s not capable of love and will continue to carve your heart up in pieces, you don’t deserve that, no one ever does. It’s not you.
    We can’t love them out of their disorder, it’s who they are at their core, sadly, not fixable.

  • By the way my ex also thought and probably still thinks that he is entitled to the good opinion of his children. Yeah good luck with that, cheater

    • Same with mine. He’s entitled to their good opinion and no doubt he feels both anger and self-pity that they haven’t had any contact with him in 2 1/2 years (since D-day).

      One of the last things he said to me before I went NC was, “I was a good father.”

      They broke with him because of years of shitty treatment not because of infidelity, although that was their 2 x 4, too, apparently. They wish I’d left him years before. (My guilt about that is something I’m trying to process.)

      I believe he was told by his therapist (who clearly wasn’t given the straight poop about x’s relationship with this kids) that the kids would probably give him the cold shoulder for a few months after D-Day but that they’d eventually come around. Maybe that’s typical in family situations where the adult kids have a good relationship with their father.

      I don’t say this with glee. I feel bad for my kids.

      • Agree agree.

        Good parents don’t abuse and hurt the other parent and destroy the security of their children.

        Good parents don’t lie and deceive.

        (From my Handy Phrases)

        I don’t think of OJ Simpson as a good father. The damage, abuse, and injuries inflicted by cheaters is sadly invisible and therefore easy to deny.

      • The ex said the same thing “I was a good father” as he walked out the door. And my now adult daughters (who were 16 and 18 at the time we divorced) have not spoken to their sperm donor in 19 years. Their reasons are the same as your children; years of shitty treatment of them in addition to the years of cheating. Fortunately they had an excellent therapist who validated their feelings and decision to break with their SD. Nothing makes them angrier than people who glibly tell them they have to talk to the SD because “he’s your father.” They coldly respond that they have no idea how he treated them and to keep their opinions to themselves.

  • “There were probably more (ask a few million of us how we know). The tally doesn’t matter. ”

    This is so true, there is always so much more, and you will never know it all. So don’t try. Let her fix herself, then if down the line after you are D’d and have your life back you see something worth pursuing (you won’t) go for it.

    The longer you are away from her, the more clearly you will see her.

  • I have to address this: “She feels like she’s been denied a lot of things in our marriage…”
    I was married for 18 years. We married young (23 and 26) and had kids right away. We were broke. “Date night” was never a thing because we couldn’t afford a babysitter. Instead, he went out to countless happy hours with his friends while I was in charge of out young kids. It was a cold, hard, desolate marriage almost from the get-go. But was I “denied many things”? No! I just had to make them happen for myself. Adults have agency. We get to choose.
    For years, my mantra used to be “There is nothing I want to accomplish in life that I can’t accomplish while still in this marriage.” That is to say, I was unhappy and wanted out, but I still loved him, had hopes of fixing us, and thought I should stay for the kids.
    So I created my own social life getting together with moms and their kids, I got a job teaching preschool where my kids could also attend, and later when they were school-age I built a business against my husband’s express wishes.
    I wasn’t “denied” anything. That’s the lame excuse of a selfish twat.
    The epilogue to my story is I discovered my husband’s affair with his secretary and left. My business has continued to flourish, and my only regret is that I didn’t leave sooner.

    • I agree that we all need to make our happiness as best we can.

      However, I was most definitely denied a faithful husband, and I made life decisions based on a lie, for many years, he was the one who stole my right to make decisions based on reality.

      So, I disagree that we can’t be denied because we have agency. We may think we have agency when we don’t.

      My fw spent hundreds of dollars on the whore, giving her gifts, time, loving actions; while I was scrimping and saving so he could have his boat and camp stuff. Yes I did make friends and enjoy my son, but the married life I was living was not authentic. An authentic marriage was stolen from me. He was lying and pretending to be a faithful husband. And not just to me.

      I was absolutely denied a lot of things (emotional and financial) that he gave to another woman for years.

      But, I didn’t cheat; that has to do with my morals an

    • I knew a couple that was married 72 (!) years, had six kids and no money for date nights. What they did do when the kids were young was hire a babysitter every week for a couple of hours and have coffee in a diner. Just the two of them. The fun stuff came later i.e. driving cross country in their eighties without a cell phone, much to their adult kids’ annoyance.

      Marriage is a long game; choose and stay with a spouse that’s in it to win.

      • We do the best we can with the information we have at the time. Susie, I validate your position. All of us chumps eventually discovered we made life decisions based on wrong or incomplete information.
        My comment was meant to illustrate that SLC’s wife doesn’t have a leg to stand on with regard to her claim of having “been denied many things.” I maintain we have agency as adults. My ex-husband was a shitty husband even before I knew he was a cheater. I could have – and should have – left. It was my choice to stay and to keep trying. On the basis of that decision, I built the fullest, happiest life could. SLC’s wife had a faithful husband. I see no reason she would have been denied anything.
        And Saffa, I honor and celebrate stories of reciprocal love and happy marriage. It hasn’t been my personal story (faulty picker and all that) but I believe in it deeply.

        • I get that.

          But in many cases for many years our husbands are not to our knowledge shitty husbands, they are imperfect husbands that we love and overlook their faults because we (think, due to their deception) they love us and have our backs.

          Our decisions are based on lies. We didn’t know it was lies until much later.

          Yes we all have agency and we make decisions based on what we believe to be true.

          That would be like one of Bernie Madoffs victims being told, you had agency you didn’t have to invest. Well true, but they (at least most of them) invested in a lie that they were assured was the truth.

          • This particular circumstance, and the intent of my comment, isn’t like Madoff at all. SLC’s wife wasn’t lied to. What I take from SLC’s letter is that early in the marriage he was gone a lot, and had the audacity to enjoy his lucrative side gig as a musician.
            The conclusion I draw is that his wife was left alone a lot with their kids, and that’s the basis for her claim that she was “denied.” I call bullshit. That is all.

  • “Where there is deception, there is no relationship.”

    My new favorite Handy Phrase that snaps my perspective into the correct position when my mind plays tricks on me….or his mind is trying to play tricks on me.

    I keep the Handy Phrases, many of them from reading here, in the Notes on my phone and review frequently. I was brainwashed in my mirage, the cult of Benedict OJ Madoff, Mr. Fake Nice Guy, and deprogramming is still necessary. It
    takes time, new information reviewed often, no or minimal contact, outside help, support, and assistance, to break the spell of denial and replace the thinking that kept me in that situation.

    It was NOT a relationship. It was not a marriage. Half of my life was washed away, never to be restored, on a tsunami of lies and deception. He has no relationships with anyone because he lies and deceives everyone. Yes, that includes whoever he was screwing around with because that association is lies and deception personified. When people have affairs, those deceived include their children. How dare he deceive our daughter, pretending to love me, love our family, act like Mr. Family Man while fucking us over for who knows how long with whom, and then essentially declare HER feelings off base when they are absolutely appropriate? That’s emotionally abusing HER.

    He does not get that, I could not give a flying F if he does. She gets it, she connects the dots, and that’s what matters for her life going forward. He is a lost cause but I am not going to allow him to get away with foisting his stinking baggage onto her.

  • SLC, for quite some time now, perhaps for the entire duration of your marriage, your wife has been a papier-mâché imposter; all pretty on the outside but completely void on the inside. As others have said, you have nothing to work with here. Find the strength to pop the balloon, see an attorney to protect your legal and financial rights, and move forward in dignity.

  • Please buy Patrick Carnes book Betrayal Bonds. I feels like love but a big part of the biochemical attachment is traumatic bonding. You’ll be vastly happier un addicted from it. It’s hard to fully understand in my professional opinion without reading

  • I think it says a lot that SLC has introspected and understands his faults in the marriage.put. That will serve him well going forward.

    One isn’t automatically sanctified when cheated on.

    So you have two separate issues….the 1st is the state of the marriage, of which fault is usually shared.

    The 2nd is the fact that you have a spouse who deals with issues by cheating, lying, and abusing. How one deals with issues is of utmost importance, and SLC has a spouse who cheats and lies.

    You simply can’t work with that. If you stick around you will be the marriage police indefinitely and she will cheat again because that’s how she deals with her issues and no amount if love will change that.

    Do yourself a favor and get out.

    • I really do wish the ex had been clear with me about my ‘shared’ fault during the 26 years of marriage. Might have helped if he’d been clear with me about his ‘shared’ fault too but, of course, he did no wrong and never admitted the affair. I disagree that the ‘state of the marriage’ led to the ex having a long distance affair with his exgf behind my back for the whole 26 years. It was the state of his cheating, lying mind that caused the ‘state of the marriage’. Sadly this ‘sanctified’ 59 year old chump nearly killed herself trying to keep the ex happy. Perhaps I should have had an affair, to keep him on his toes. But, oh no, I’m not a liar and a cheat and I’m loyal and I care, so I don’t have affairs. I’ll carry on working with my therapist to drop the sanctification and to identify why my ‘share’ of responsibility for the ‘state of the marriage’ caused him to cheat. I expect my ‘share’ will work out at 98% or is it always 50/50, Kim? Your insight will certainly help me ‘going forward’. Thank you.

      • I absolutely never said that the cheating was in any way your or any other betrayed’s fault. I said that cheaters deal with issues, whether they are perceived or real, by cheating and abusing.

        I am sorry that you were triggered by my comment and am glad you are working with a therapist. It wasn’t my intention to upset anyone.

        I will not speak for you. I know I wasn’t perfect in my marriage, and I also know that my ex’s decision to cheat was a completely separate issue.

        I hope your settlement works out and will say no more.

      • Yep, conflating marriage issues which every marriage has into cheating is never healthy for the betrayed spouse. In fact it is a sure way the betrayed spouse can be further victimized.

        The only issue my ex ever had with me by his own admission was that I was not a spi9t shiner house keeper. I was not a bad house keeper, he never had to step over crap, he never ran out of clean clothes, he always had a hot meal prepared by me, and I worked full time and volunteered at his request in the community.

        So I guess he showed me for not being a perfect house keeper. Yet when he was his nastiest to me, I never even considered fucking another man to soothe my pain.

        • I’d be lying if I said I never considered paying him back with another man, but I just couldn’t go there.

          Didn’t have it in me to lower myself.

          Ironically he was terrified that i had and after I told him I wanted a divorce he demanded to know if I was cheating on him.

          Rich.

          • Honestly it never occurred to me. But I was in crisis mode and didn’t recognize it. He had turned on me at the beginning of the year of discard (unknown to me) I was thinking work stress, (that is what he told me when I questioned his behavior). Didn’t hit me it was another woman until towards the end of the year. By then I was in confused mode/fetal position trying to endure what I knew by then was the truth.

            I did pretty well once he left. Still confused, still for a few weeks had the hope that I would wake up from the night mare. But wasn’t to be. I wish I had CL back then, but still I did well for myself.

            He had used me to get his promotion and his place in the community, guess he was done. I just want new chumps to understand they did not in any way cause the abuse against them. Betrayal is not how marriage works. It is how it is destroyed.

    • Kim:

      The “state of the marriage”. Some people cheat even before the marriage when they are about to walk down the aisle or with the ring on their finger. The unknowing fiance can not have contributed to the cheater’s bad behavior, cheater’s lying, deception and betrayal. The only responsibility chump has (that I can think of) is chump needed to have fixed their picker, realized that cheater was a cheater, had bad character, no morals, etc. Sometimes it is impossible to see through all the love-bombing, I love you’s etc.

      • I don’t need a lecture on this.

        My ex had an ex of his around our entire relationship….he never stopped seeing her even as he started seeing me and married me.

        I had no idea until 13 years later
        when I found messages between them.

        My phony ex was a master love bomber and I’d just come out of an abusive marriage so I was especially susceptible to it.

        I still recognize that I had could be difficult. I chose to divorce him and grow where I could.

        Others can do what they want.

        • And I only brought up the state of the marriage because SLC had clearly done his own reflecting and had chosen to include what he saw as his faults. I was addressing that aspect.

      • True Lee.

        I was married at 18, he was 18 and in the military. There was no real history at that age. And during those years it was not uncommon for folks to marry young, especially in the military.

        I was definitely more aware of history after my experience, but you only know what you know when you know it. Then you go from there.

    • Thanks Kim.
      I have done work on myself and what I’ve contributed to the state of the marriage.
      As I’ve told her, I’m not that guy anymore.

      The cheating is 100% on her. That I can’t be swayed from.

      I know I just have to do it. I am in IC, and that’s helping. My IC is awesome – cheating is 100% on her per the therapist. I think I’ll be ok.

      • Slow Learner,

        Remember that you can leave the marriage and “gain a life” without a cheater even if you still have feelings for your spouse. Marriage is as much about the legal and social contract, which your wife has blown up, as it is about love. Taking a couple of years to put your own life on a solid base with your IC is a good reason to separate. You don’t have to divorce until you are ready but getting into separate households allows for separating finances and protecting yourself emotionally.

        I’m not fully understanding why having a side gig as a musician is a bad thing or selfish. I have a “side gig” that eats up a lot of weekend time and frankly, now that I’m older, I prefer that work to being in a romantic relationship without someone who wants me to stay home. Now that your kids are older, you might think about reviving your music career. There’s a lot of happiness in doing what you love and are good at. Just a thought about the “gain a life” portion of the program.

  • Good Morning SLC and welcome to CN.
    Being a veteran of both rock n roll and chumpdon, I can tell you with certainty that it’s on to the next set. Do as CL says, read her books, go no contact and remember she sucks. You love her like you love a Fender bass, but this bass is sounding out of tune and no matter how much you try it’ll be out of tune. Toss it in the bin.
    Now, for perspective, back in the daaay, my ex-ex-ex and I went to Jazz Fest in Nawlins. At some point as we were in a bar, this ex began flirting with two men as I played pool and then disappeared. When she returned 2 hours later, higher than Timothy Leary, she screamed at me “you made me take LSD and have a manage a trois with those guys because you ignored me.” I dumped her on the spot and never looked back ( no children so it was easy ). Being a chump, my last ex basically did the same to me, but since we had children I thought I “loved” her and thus the year of torment and pain, her gaslighting me etc., and thankfully, I too washed up on CL’s shore where she explained it to me as she just explained it to you. Agency. Character. Value. Do you see? Your wife is trash. I hate to give you the prize, but BJs in a truck ( or screwing the gardener ) is much worse than a train in Nawlins, yet we both struggle because our heart hurts and there are children involved. No contact. Remember she sucks. Divorce and on to your new amazing life free of trash. Sure it’ll be difficult and lonely and depressing and painful, but you got this.

  • Slowlearnerchump – Follow your children’s lead. THEY see it clearly for what it is. Abuse.

    She abused you then, she is abusing you now.

    Don’t discuss why she is abusing you – get going on getting her out of your life. THEN you can explore why you permitted her to abuse you at all. Seek a therapist with a lot of training and success treating trauma victims.

    First you stop shooting yourself in the foot, then you get treated, get rid of the gun (your wife) and the final step is asking why in the world you ever thought shooting yourself in the foot was a good idea.

    You got this. Truly. You may start out doing it for your kids (to let them know you are serious when you say no one should be abused) but you will eventually find yourself so much happier than you ever imagined without the lying cheating wife.

  • SLC, it’s great that you can see your faults. However, like CL is saying, your (hopefully stbx) wife could have done many things that didn’t involve abusing you to solve this. You want reconciliation. She never wanted reconciliation, she just wanted to hurt you. This won’t change. Maybe she’s broken, too, but she’s actively using her brokenness to break you. Lots of us go through shit; not all of us are abusers. Please look past the hopium.

  • I might be the weird one out. I think cheating is a deal breaker. That’s why my loser ex-h hid his cheating from me. He wanted out himself after a long marriage so he let me catch him. I handled the divorce myself.

    Anyway, just get rid of her. You can say that she’s broken and want a partner who works correctly.

  • None of us are perfect but our ex’s had the option to have a conversation about it or divorce us. Instead they chose to cheat while continuing to use us. Because they are users and cake is nice.

    Show your kids that being abused and cheated on is not acceptable. If it was them you would want them to be mighty and resilient and get out. If you haven’t already – read CLs book!

  • What kills me, too, is that during the devaluation and discard, cheaters create fights in order to justify leaving, and/or they so neglect the relationship that, yah, it looks wanting compared to the affair to which they are lavishing attention.

    It’s a no-win situation for chumps. The game (that you didn’t know you were playing) is rigged.

    • “It’s a no-win situation for chumps. The game (that you didn’t know you were playing) is rigged.”

      Absolutely “The game is rigged” and it was rigged from the start. My ex didn’t want me to know until he was done with me, then he turned nasty. Up to then, we were going out with friends, doing political events. Whore was waiting quietly in the back ground.

      I will never know for certain, but I am fairly sure they had it planned to quietly dispose of me, then after a few weeks of him moping around about his failed marriage, TA DA, he and whore would start to date. She would of course have to be moved to a different job; and his life would go on as he had planned, and we both had worked on.

      He would have gotten away with it too, except someone filed an ethics complaint and well he went down, desperately flailing around in his own shit. Good times.

      • Mine too also had many ethics complaints. Why did this not make me see red flags then? Unbelievable. I was in deep denial and hopium user.

        • This was his first complaint. I don’t know who did it, I didn’t know until after we were separated. My daughter in law suspects it was a female employee who got pissed after whore got a raise that he petitioned for her. Actually the petition for a raise was a part of the complaint.

          Who ever did it, I am grateful. It caused his lies to tumble down around him. For the rest of his time on the job, he was mired down in his own shit pile. It was why he retired early. He dashed his own dreams right along with mine, he didn’t expect that to happen I assume.

    • I completely agree.

      I might add: while we unaware of the high-stakes contest going on, the APs are fully clued in and bringing their A game.

      Just a small example: during the affair, AP sent my wife thousands of dollars’ worth of flowers during the affair. I didn’t, and I’m sure I suffered in comparison. Meanwhile, AP’s wife wasn’t getting flowers and – now that AP has married my XW – my impression from the kids is that he isn’t buying her weekly flowers any more.

      Bah. I probably wouldn’t have “won” the pick-me dance anyway (it’s hard to compete with limerence and a 7-figure inheritance), but for some reason it rubs me the wrong way that my own wife put me on double top-secret probation for a year and didn’t bother to tell me about it.

      • “…my own wife put me on double top-secret probation for a year and didn’t bother to tell me about it.”

        That’s part of the pleasure of “I know something you don’t know.” It’s delicious to have a secret with the AP. It’s about power and control.

        • Exactly!! Ugh. It’s so upsetting. Being kept in the dark is the worst offense. The actual sex between the cheaters seems almost insignificant in comparison.

          I never thought I would say that in the immediate aftermath of D-day when the sex act between those two loomed so large in my mind. Now, over 2 years out, I’m most upset that I was kept in the dark upsets. Those two were in the know, and I was clueless, weak, and vulnerable…but didn’t even know it. Still makes my blood boil!

      • So true IG.

        But god forbid we mention the ow/om’s role in the mess. We are kept in the dark, and they are helping keep it in the dark, and as you say they know they are in the game, and they are making sure to trash us in their ever so clever ways.

        This is why I don’t excuse adultery co-conspirators, they know exactly what they are doing and why. We aren’t let in on the game until it is over, or they get caught. That is by design.

        Had my fw told me he was going to start “dating”, I assure you I would have made different decisions for my life than I did.

        Obviously I am not speaking of those rare ap’s who don’t know the fw is married. By rare I mean bordering on unicorns.

  • SLC take it from me…. stayed 32 years, 3 kids (adults now) and the first Dday was announced by X after the birth of 3 baby. Out of nowhere he confessed he had benn unfaithful early on in marriage. We had only been married 6 years so to have this dumped on me with 3 babies, i really was never the same but I forgave, and overlooked. Year 10 his work pager was going crazy at 2am. (drunk AP). Nice … so he admitted again to making “mistakes” and he went for help. Jump to year 31 and I discover he had been heavily into porn since even before we met. This guy wins for the ultimate deceiver. There was much more in between but like you said ” I Wuved him”. But now kids are grown, married, empty nest, he was retired but started another biz that involved lots of traveling. Finally I woke up, filed for divorce which shocked him as well as everyone who knew us bc I never shared what he did (does). I worked like hell to save myself bc ALL counseling efforts had failed. He was the LIAR of all LIARS.
    Divorce was the only option left for me. Its been 6 years now, my grown kids witnessed me take a stand and not allow this abuse. The truth hurts everyone ….. Please take CL advice as well as all of CN stories. it is a club we wouldnt volunteer to be in but you are reminded everyday the YOU ARE ENOUGH! Cheaters are liars. They don’t change, they are entitled to whatever they want and will crush anyone in their way. DON’T spend the next 26 years like the 1st 26 years. Your children know Right & Wrong, you modeled that. Keep modeling that actions have consequences. Put yourself first, you owe her nothing, she has mistreated your love and isn’t worthy of anymore cake.

    WE GET IT here. Leave a cheater, Gain a Life!!

    • I get you. Totally. Almost the same here. Horrible. Send you kudos for your mightiness and hugs for your pain.

  • My best friend was with me moments after I found out my husband was cheating. She told me something very profound. When I told her I didn’t know if I could divorce him because I loved him so much, she responded that, “You can love him and still divorce him. You can love him all the way up to the steps of the divorce court!”
    See she could see more clearly because she had been through it herself.
    You can still love somebody and cut them from your life if they are abusing you. Does it suck. Yep. But once you have cut that chord, you van begin to heal.
    Today, I no like, much less love, my ex husband. NOW, I can see him clearly for who he really is. There’s nothing for me to work with. I deserve so much better. You do too.

    • “You can love him and still divorce him. You can love him all the way up to the steps of the divorce court!”

      That’s a true best friend, there.

      • Yes she is. We’re still soul sisters to this day. She’s still mad at him years after I stopped giving a F about him.

    • My Brilliant Original Therapist told me, “not everyone you love is an appropriate partner for you.” A Handy Phrase that came out of deep storage when I realized that I had not married Prince Charming but the portrait of Dorian Gray. Goodbye and good riddance was still painful, but any love I felt for him went quickly down the drain after the big obvious confirmed DDay.

  • Slow Learner,

    If you tell her “It will be OK” she will hear “there will be no consequences.” And I’d add that you can’t fix someone who refuses to believe that they have a problem and who doesn’t want to change. Unfortunately I learned both of these the hard way. Your best way forward is grey rock/as no contact as you can get given that you have children, and divorce her.

    Protect ypurself, protect your kids and get out.

    LFTT

  • Slowlearnerchump,
    You got this. You’ve already found CL, you’re halfway there. You know what you need to do. You just needed a push. We all know how much this sucks, but you’re going to do it and get to the other side.

  • SlowLearnerChump, if you really do love her, let her look for what she thinks she is missing somewhere else. Get a lawyer. Start the divorce process and go through with it. Go to individual therapy. There is no need for couple’s therapy. Your marriage is over, but your life isn’t. I pick me danced for over 20 years. My ex wasn’t unhappy or unfulfilled because of me. He was dissatisfied with life because that was just the way he was. I’m nearly three years past the final, epic DDay. I’ve never been more at peace and hopeful in my entire adult life.

    • Do it for your kids, who need to see that marriage should involve love, respect, and honesty.

      Do it for yourself, because someone who cheats repeatedly will not change. It is self-destructive to stay with an abuser. And from what you wrote, you’ve been playing the marriage police. That is not what marriage is supposed to be. Remember, you don’t have to divorce tomorrow. See a lawyer, figure out your financial options, and separate. I’d fight to keep the house and the kids, considering the situation.

      Do it for your wife. Yep. Do it for your wife. I was married to an alcohol and drug abuser who would not quit. I suspect infidelity. (He wasn’t the Jackass but that’s another story.) Your wife won’t change so long as she can count on you to tolerate her behavior (her abuse of you). You know from raising kids that if there are no consequences for bad behavior, the behavior continues and likely gets worse. So if you love her, let her experience consequences for her cheating–which is probably more pervasive that you know. You don’t know what will happen with her if you separate and later divorce, but you do know what will happen if he spackle what she’s done and stay with her. She’s continue to cheat, to lie, and to blame you.

      • …*if you spackle what she has done.

        And to finish my point about my XH, we went our separate ways and he kept drinking, until the doctor said “quit or die.” He found his bottom line was not hurting his wife, but facing death. Let your wife figure out what really counts for her. You know it’s not your feelings or her kids.

    • I’m glad CL’s advice has been helpful…she was a beacon in the storm for me when I was making these tough choices. For what it’s worth, once the storm was over and the clouds parted, and I then somehow managed to pair with a wonderful man who has become a wonderful stepfather to my teenage daughter, I was so thrilled to see the positive impact it had on her perception of relationships. And men. She has a rocky relationship with her bio dad, but I love that she’s been able to see, because of her stepdad, what a loving, kind, loyal, and reciprocal relationship is supposed to look like. That’s a gift she can take into the future when she chooses her partner.

  • SLC – I am grateful for your story today.

    I had a rare dream last night where my ex FW was in and out of our house, but was then dumped off from a moving car. In the dream, he was beaten and bloody. And I was so relieved – this explained everything. He must in trouble with loan sharks or something – not having an affair.. I held him tight and said “We’ll get though this”.

    Loving someone for 26 years is hard to turn off. It makes you human. It makes cheaters not worth it.

  • OMG. Another Timex phreak. I love the Indiglo aspect. My first Timex watch — 1964. I bought it out of a prize I won in a local contest. It was around $25 and Timex are still priced about that much.

  • I needed this today! Actually, I need this every day.

    SO grateful for you speaking truth, Chump Lady, and creating a space for Chumps to hear it and begin to KNOW it.

  • Let’s talk about the fact that she has been pushing unwanted attentions on a man 15 years her junior. That’s predator territory. Ick. Run.

  • Slow Learner,

    I felt your pain when I read your story. I found out I was cheated on on two separate occasions. The first time was 2 years ago. A long distance sexting relationship with a hotel invite that “never happened”. Her husband contacted me and told all. When I asked my husband he lied, swore on our kids lives, told me it was spam, gaslighted me. Then he took my phone and disappeared for a couple hours while deleting all the evidence because he was “protecting his family”. He really said that.

    I booked couples counseling, he showed up for the first session and said “he was there to support me” and “he hopes this will help our sex life be less vanilla”. One week later he screamed at me “am I just invisible in this house” when I denied him sexual contact…A WEEK after the dday of a 10 month long affair (that didn’t really count as an affair becausethey never had physical contact). So we limped along. If I was too sad, or mad, or bitter, or still not over it on any particular day he would get angry at me, tell me I’m the problem. All the while he’s drinking more, smoking more pot. When I told him I didn’t want the pot in the house anymore and I didn’t want him to do it. He said, “if I have to choose between pot and you, I would choose pot” with a straight face and a cold black stare. He also called me boring and told me I have an antiquated mindset. I caught him looking a porn sites called cheating wives and (insert our city name here)gone wild. He said he like them because they are “confident wives”. Still I kept allowing my self respect and confidence to dip lower and lower. I got more depressed, I gained weight, I cried, I isolated, and I stayed because I didn’t want to hurt my kids.

    Fast forward to a month ago. I finally found the phone unlocked when he passed out from too much booze/pot/wanking?. Found a messaging app and discovered over 50 messages sent out, about 30 with replies to random strange women. A lot of sexting but to my horror also meeting randos around the city during the day for physical hookups. In the am, afternoon, and evening. Happening when he was supposed to be at work, when he couldn’t help me take or pick up kids because “work is too crazy and I can’t just leave whenever I want”. Note I also work FT. But I’m not as important, clearly. Also found he had a profile on a fetish app for even more cringeworthy, embarrassing ways for me to feel betrayed.

    I told him I knew and filed for divorce. He still asked, was I really going to go through with this? Throw away a life together bc of 2 years? Do I see a future where I would take him back after he gets “healthy”? He still won’t be honest with me, I never told him how much I knew so he only gives a little away at a time to see if that’s it. But I won’t give him the satisfaction, let him keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    Yet STILL….slow learners that we are….I question if I’m doing the right thing. I feel bad for him, I still feel happy when he is the tiniest bit polite. WHY?? He won’t leave our house, it super awkward. One day he’s nice and asking me to take him back. The next day, he’s accusing me of taking his shit, sending videos of our kids crying “because of something I said”, sending multiple emails of complaints to my lawyer of all the bad, things I’m doing and how he is being victimized.

    How and what makes a person treat people like this and WHY do the chumps still feel kindness, sorrow, hope, for the FW abuser? I used to be saner than this, I used to be a badass that wouldn’t take this shit, what has happened to me, where did that girl go, and can I ever get her back? I’m sorry Slow Learner, I hope we can both get through this and find our former badasses again.

    Cheers,

    The Chump That Got Away

  • I just spent some time with a male friend, who, I was surprised to learn, just “broke up” with his ex (again) on Monday. This is a friend who I thought was single, and whom I thought was maybe interested in me, in part because of the tone he takes. We both do music; him professionally. Ok, it’s actually better for jamming and music stuff if he isn’t interested, but the reason there was weirdness and my misunderstanding was, in part, because he’d been keeping his interaction with her on the downlow. Last night he implored me to never tell anyone, etc. etc.

    My friend, let’s call him A, was keeping it mum because GF’s involved with someone else in the local music scene we’ll call B, and she’s officially with B. What intrigued/annoyed me was how okay this guy was having been demoted to side guy. GF has been telling A that B is a little creepy, that B is a little scary and can get mean, maybe violent, if he finds out she’s been talking to A. But my friend A says, “but we absolutely still love each other; it just can’t be.” It can’t be, mainly, because A is quite sick, and they were less than a year into dating when he got badly ill, and she stuck around for a bit when it seemed he might get better, but as the illness stretched past the 6 month mark, he was depressed, weak and not able to do boyfriend stuff so they broke up.

    This is the second person in the past month to tell me about an affair-type involvement as if it’s just lamentable or laughable drama. I see my friend A convincing himself that she’s just scared, that she’s justified in not being with a sick old man, and that he’s being so understanding. I just see a narcissistic woman playing two men off each other.

    I share this because the OP seems to think his partner *needs* sweeping up in his arms, and that her running off is a reasonable response to his inadequacy, and that her running back is a reasonable acknowledgement of how good he is to her, and that she’s helpless both in her inability to stick by him when he’s sick and in her Stockholm-syndrome-like inability to break away from B to be with him. B may well be a douchebag, but she is a grown woman and even if he’s abusive that doesn’t justify going back to her ex and sleeping with him. She could just break up with B and figure out her own safety.

    When I expressed that she seems selfish to me and that my friend could do better, and that I was shocked that he would be secretly with someone who was dating another person, he just looked wistful and talked of their ill-starred love. I lost a lot of respect for my friend; he sees himself as the brokenhearted good guy.

    I recently caught up with a woman at work and she was like, *oh, you know, things have been busy, lol, I’ve been so stressed and I’ve been dealing with it in part by hanging out with this friend and it’s pretty much an emotional affair haha and my husband doesn’t know about it, I mean, it’s not the best situation but whatareyougonnado, right, and anyway, how are you?* I could tell she was gauging me for my reaction and that I was supposed to be like, *oh, right, lol, that’s not a big deal, you’re probably super stressed* but I had to do everything I could to just keep my face neutral in an *oh wow interesting* kind of way.

    I have not been involved with anyone since the last shady ex (we broke up 2 years ago on IWD March 8 and I didn’t even think about it on Tue, yay!) and these people! These women who already have someone and *still* want more emotional needs taken care of by secret trysts outside their main relationship! They’re looking for boosts to feel attractive. They’re basically bored by what they’ve got. It’s infuriating how these women who already have what they wanted are totally casual about soliciting/inviting more intimate attention.

    For my part, I told my friend, that despite my long history of picking poor partners and a bunch of scary stories and scars, that I am finished confessing all the things that scary/abusive men have done to me as a way of connecting with new people (at least, I keep getting better at not blurting that stuff – thank you, therapy). The men who seem to draw those stories out of me and offer this weird dynamic of daddy-protector keep being actually invested in my staying the scared little girly that they will “help out.” And if it’s anything I keep seeing here on CL it’s how often FWs look for vulnerable women to “help.”

    I just sense OP having a bit of that “it’ll be okay” vibe for his “wretched, broken” wife, and calling that sense of forgiving her weakness as love. But the weakness she has is shitty boundaries and that’s not something you can love into her character. In that weakness I bet she’s telling her AP how scary/mean OP can be.

  • You do not love her. You don’t even know her. All you know is a reflection she created to net her supply and support. The her you believe you are in love with is nothing but a convincing and meticulously researched rendition of what she believes will allow her to hurt you without consequences. It’s all superficial and you know it. You’re lying to yourself because it would be to painful to admit your love was directed at a lie. Sorry :/

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