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‘She Must’ve Made the Right Decision to Cheat’

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cheat on meDear Chump lady,

Seeking your advice on the following:

Background, was with partner for 16 years who decided the grass was greener with a married work colleague with 2 young children. She blamed her actions all on me and said that she’d been unhappy for 10 years of the 16 years and nearly left me 5 years before D-day. (Fairly sure there were other affairs now).

In terms of the relationship, I know I wasn’t perfect, but neither was she. She was the sort who would send cards with ‘Thank you for the best x years of my life’ right to the very end, as if marking each year was the true measure of our relationship. Went through the pick me dance for 3 weeks after which she left accusing me of making her homeless.

Anyway, her family were very good and supportive to me at my darkest hour and were not at all impressed with her. Whilst not in each others pockets, I was close to her mother (fellow chump x2) and her brother (fellow chump x1), so we stayed in touch, having a common experience probably helped.

Ex partner tried hoovering me after 18 months, turned up on two holidays I was on during that time, and then married her affair partner after 2 years of us separating. Have remained no contact since the separation was legally settled 6 months after D-day (thankfully no kids). Like everyone on this site, I was devastated at the time and it took a long time to get to Meh/Tuesday.

Fast forward circa 20 years and I have been happily married for 6 years of a 12-year relationship with a wonderful woman who is everything I didn’t realise was missing from the previous relationship. She makes me a better person and I hope I do the same for her.

I have recently been thrown by one event and subsequent responses.

My ex-partner’s mother died recently, she was a lovely giving woman who I miss greatly. Given that we had remained in touch and how good she was to me during all the years I had known her, I asked ex-partner’s sister if I could attend the funeral to pay my respects.

The sister and brother were fine but they got back to me to say that my ex-partner did not want me there as it would be ‘too upsetting for her’. Her sister, brother and myself were gobsmacked that after 20 years she could not just move on and let this be about remembering her mother. I had only intended to sit quietly at the back and then disappear immediately after the service. Her siblings thought she was being childish. With reluctance and in respect of not wanting her to cause a scene at what was a day to remember her mother I did not attend. Still not sure if I pandered too much to my ex-partner, but for me it was about her mum, so I sent flowers instead and ex-partner’s sister thanked me for being such a gentleman and understanding.

So what threw me….. Well, as her brother put it ‘You would have thought she would have moved on after 20 years, particularly after she had done the cheating’. So it just got me questioning after all this time as to why she still seems to hate me when I don’t particularly have any good or bad thoughts towards her? Why couldn’t she move on and put her mother first?

Secondly, when speaking to a colleague at work, they asked if ex-partner was still married to the affair partner after 20 years. When I replied yes, their comment was “Well, she must have made the right decision (to cheat) as she has been with him longer than you!”

To be honest I did really know how to respond to that without sounding churlish or having to justify myself, so I said nothing. But how do you answer that? I have never judged a relationship on the number of years, but clearly a lot of people do. It just reopened the whole untangling the skein for me so any advice would be appreciated.

Thank you

Thrown by comments

****

Dear Thrown,

On the funeral situation, I think you handled that like a champ. You were sensitive, you asked in advance — so you probably sensed it might be fraught, or you wouldn’t have gotten the all clear first? I think you ate that proverbial shit sandwich with grace, by sending flowers.

Should your ex have been the bigger person, and been okay with your presence? That’s not who she is. And that would upset her narrative — that cheating on you was your fault. That she’s the wronged party in this. Also by asking (which I think was polite), you put her in the power seat to deny you. And that’s an irresistible kibble.

irresistible

Funerals are for the living. And most people have their reasons (some justified, some dunderheaded) for not wanting their exes at their family funerals. That’s harder to understand when you’re the injured party, but yes, she’s underscoring that you’re not her family. Now, if the services were open, and all were invited to the memorial, but you were deliberately excluded? Ouch.

I still wouldn’t go where I was unwanted though. So good call on not attending.

So it just got me questioning after all this time as to why she still seems to hate me when I don’t particularly have any good or bad thoughts towards her? Why couldn’t she move on and put her mother first?

In fairness, she just lost her mother. However shitty she was as an ex-partner, her feelings matter more than yours do here. Even if we judge those feelings as uncharitable and wrong, it would not be right to insert yourself. Her mother is dead, so there’s no putting a dead woman first. There are just the survivors. I’m sure your ex’s siblings thank you for your thoughtfulness and your kind memories of their mother.

Even years after a break-up, it can hurt to be excluded, or cast as the villain. Why does she still hate you? If she’s left you alone for more than a decade, I doubt she does. Hatred needs stoking, and she stays out of your life, right? She’s not suing you, or plotting revenge, or popping up on your holidays anymore. My guess is she’s asserting her narrative that She Did Nothing Wrong (aka “you made her cheat”) and she enjoys some extra drama and self-pity at your expense. #impressionmanagement

You were useful. And you’ll go right back to not mattering shortly.

Now than, that co-worker…

when speaking to a colleague at work, they asked if ex-partner was still married to the affair partner after 20 years. When I replied yes, their comment was “Well, she must have made the right decision (to cheat) as she has been with him longer than you!”

Wow, your colleague just told you they’re a cheater. I wouldn’t put this person in charge of the petty cash, or corporate secrets. Anyone who thinks abusing you is the “right decision” is someone who needs a water cooler dumped on their head.

Nigel: Why did you dump a water cooler on my head?!

You: Felt like the right decision.

Anyway, both of your questions are untangling the skein issues. Why do stupid people say and do stupid stuff? This is unknowable. We only can guess at the origins of their vapidity. (Too many water cooler head injuries?)

Longevity doesn’t mean healthy. We had slavery for 400 years. Lots of shitty things endure.

Your colleague isn’t someone who possesses a lot of critical thinking ability. Your colleague has biases. Good information to know. Avoid this person. Keep your eye on the petty cash.

Thrown, what matters here is that you rebuilt a great life for yourself. Don’t let a couple of fuckwits give you a case of the wobbles. As you were.

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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.
  • Acting dishonorably is never the right decision and the ends don’t justify the means.

    That’s what I would’ve said.

    • I like your “ends don’t justify the means” Kim or “still doesn’t make it right” or (depending on the audience)“fucking people over doesn’t make it right”. I tend to have some stock comments (like stock photos) to cover bases whenever stupid people talk.

      We never completely get over trauma. The sting just lessens with time. But things crop up that bring the trauma to light again (like weddings & funerals). The best we can do is cope with it with our heads held high & remain steadfast & true in our convictions. Then that event is over & we go back to living our lives again. If you’re having difficulty with that, something in your current life might need some paying attention to.

      • Agree completely “We never completely get over trauma. The sting just lessens with time. But things crop up that bring the trauma to light again….” Also when people tell you who they are, believe them the first time (Maya Angalou spelling??). You know who your X is and when she has a say about anything, expect drama from her.

  • Thrown, by not saying anything in response to your stupid coworker you inadvertently said everything. You told them they were beneath your contempt. You showed them you don’t care anymore. Silence, the cut direct, screams louder than words. Keep up the good work.

    I am sorry you lost the friendship of your Mother-in-Law. I know you will miss her.

  • It’s difficult to come up with a good comeback on the spot (or at least it is for me), but we all know that just because they stayed together doesn’t mean they’re happy. Hell I was married for 26 years and hated him for most of that time! I think you behaved beautifully and your ex’s siblings can see yet again who was the problem in your marriage!

    • Attie,
      What is it about 26 years? (half my life at the time). That’s when I filed for divorce from a shitty marriage. It was probably okay for the first year or 2, but that was because we both traveled for work.

      • I was over thirty years. It was a truly wonderful relationship. My very best friend, amazing intimacy and sex.

        Until he was exposed as a cheater, and I bloody stayed (worked my chumpy arse off trying to understand, grow, unpack the whole painful thing) never thinking I ever would stay with a dirty, disrespectful, lying cheater (he showed amazing faux remorse) – and then eight years later, bam! Another one. Who he left for. So yeah, despite an enormous amount of work and being a member of Chump Nation for years and years, the trauma still sits close to the surface. I know it’s best he is gone. I know he showed me who he really is. But the grief is not something you “get over.” Being told that makes you feel like you are doing healing/recovery/rebuilding wrong.

  • I think, from all accounts here, the letter writer has behaved quite admirably; both in dealing with the funeral situation and the crummy coworker. What I can’t get behind is the “it’s been 20 years; why can’t she move on like me?” perspective. 20 years, 2 years… doesn’t matter. No one is required to “move on” even though the situation here is flipped and the one not “moving on” is the cheater and the one who has “moved on” is the chump.

    I admit, however, that this is likely a particular trigger for me. My FW is a big fan of using “I’ve moved on” as a shield to deflect all criticism. Two months after he left me and the kids for the last time and moved into GF#3/Wifetress’s house, he was quite early on preaching the gospel about how much more enlightened he was than me because I’d still burst into tears whenever I saw him and he would gently roll his eyes and ask me why we all just didn’t “move on like he can.” Two years later and he was much the same: “Everybody should be like me and move on. The past is the past. (Stop thinking about my many affairs.)”

    I’m the last D Day is now over ten years behind me and I’m still working on me. I was in survival mode for a long time raising kids on my own and racking up that single mom debt and going on and off antidepressants. Anytime I see him my stomach twists and I feel nauseous. Theres a lot of PTSD going on. Thankfully my interactions with him are minimal. Getting to where I am now took a lot of work.

    But I can almost hear him or other well-meaning bystanders intone “It’s been ten years. You should be over it by now. Move on.” To them I say, “Listen, if this man had stabbed me or physically assaulted me I would be uncomfortable around him ten years later or even forever. This is not all that different.”

    Sometimes we just don’t want to be around someone who caused us great pain and the amount of time between that event and now (ten years, twenty years) is an illusion. I’m not a big fan of the “Argh, it’s been [period of time], get over it already just like me” defense because my XH was using that line straight out of the post-affair discovery gate. I wide-eyed anyone these days who says that moving on means being okay with your abuser being physically around you just because a certain number of years have passed.

    Admittedly, the hitch here is that Thrown’s X, the cheater, is reversing things which is gross and weird but, as CL pointed out, her mother just died and this is a good opportunity to be seen as the one who “had bad things done to her” instead of “the one who did bad things.”

    • Thank you Fourleaf its great to read another perspective which was thought provoking although I’m sorry about the trigger. I think you are right about PTSD in that a specific trigger, experience, sound, smell etc can take you back to any horrendous time in your life. Personally I think it diminishes with time which varies per person or PTSD event but never truly goes away. I can get triggered by a hearing of someone else experiencing infidelity or a tv/film drama. I get your not wanting to be around someone as attending the funeral and being in the same room as her would not have filled me with joy. Nobody can dictate to you how long it takes to get through this but I wish you well and hope you find meh soon.

      • “I can get triggered by a hearing of someone else experiencing infidelity or a tv/film drama.”

        Thrown, I’m with you here 100%. Shows/movies that I used to enjoy in my pre-chumped days are often ruined for me now.

      • Thrown, one of the best things that happened to me was watching Ozark in the immediate aftermath depression and grief filled fog of shock. This one line made me actually laugh and feel so much better: “In fact the satisfying sound of your lover smacking the pavement is the only thing that gets me to sleep every night.”

        https://youtu.be/BYA22xq94gs

    • Just recently I had a friend not want to go for ice cream at a particular location as that was the place where he took his elderly mother every Sunday before she died – 12 yrs ago. At first I thought to myself, you got to be kidding as wouldn’t that be a place for happy memories? The pre-chumped Hurt1 may have said oh, jeeze, it’s been x amount of years, come on! The chumped Hurt1 said, ok, pick another place. I’m clearly more aware of other people’s traumas & just try to be respectful.

    • Totally agree. I moved back to the same area when we were together decades later, and it hit me like a gut punch. We never married or had kids (thankfully), but because I had left the area relatively quickly, my older, wiser self was forced to re-live everything, process the overwhelming abuse, and I’m still not done (why I’m here on CL). Because I had swept much of it under the rug, it came out in full force. Couple that with him contacting me and wanting a “little something,” (we’re both married, though he’s divorcing) and I was traumatized and really angry all over again. All my reactions really surprized me; I didn’t expect it. There is no linear timeline for these things.

      • ☝️Yep, delayed reaction to
        sweep it under the rug trauma. I think of it as the chicken pox virus being dormant for years then under specific conditions, shingles suddenly erupts.

    • My ex hammered that, “it’s in the past” for 29 years of marriage. He had an affair partner that his mother forwarded her letters to him our entire first year of marriage. He was dating both of us and my mother in law preferred the other girl. I found out about the letters and asked him to end it. He didn’t, so I wrote to the girl.
      He still spoke about how awesome Germany was (He met her while stationed in Germany) for the rest of our marriage. I was triggered the entire 29 years and tried so hard not to be. He sent me to therapy because I was still occasionally bitter and kept “bringing up the past” My therapist said it was normal and I was shocked, I always thought everyone else just moved on.
      My point is I can relate to “hey you should just move on”,so much. I hear that phrase and physically feel horrible.

      • I understand triggering all too well. I would probably have told him get his ass back to Germany if it was so awesome. What a dip shit your FW was if he could not or chose not to realize that by bringing up the awesomeness he was still in the past. How could he expect you to forget…….Glad you are rid of him and his mother. Hugs.

    • Cheating, divorce, it’s all trauma. We all deal with the triggers from that trauma differently. It’s not linear, and for many it doesn’t go away.

      Since Thrown and his ex didn’t have to have contact, getting to meh is maybe easier (it was for me) because you don’t have that constant reminder. Even for Thrown’s ex, being reminded of her bad behavior when her mom died was a trigger. And the prospect of having Thrown at the funeral would just remind everyone of that bad behavior.

      • The exFW had posted on Facebook shortly after I dumped him on D-day that he had “just come out of the worst trauma of my life”. The comments were all “praying for you” “hope it gets better” blah blah blah. (It is also funny because he never posted anything on social media except in the aftermath of d-day).

        Translation: It was the first time he was ever given consequences.

        I don’t doubt that it was traumatizing for him. He thought 1) he wouldn’t get caught and 2) that I loved him so much that I would understand and forgive him. Hahahahahahaha boy was he wrong. I remember telling his brother (who begged me to take him back) “You all underestimated me”.

        In the end the FW caused the trauma – mine and his. The difference is he can’t escape from himself.

        • Klootzak, who also rarely if ever posted on his main FB page (as opposed to his secret one) also posted after D-day a similar woe is me I made a mistake. Every person who posted that “I’m praying for you” and “You are wonderful. Everyone makes mistakes and this will only make you stronger,” drivel I have unfriended, blocked, or deleted. Not immediately but over time. It is clear where their sympathies lie and what their values are and they don’t align with mine. They rallied around the cheater and not one of them reached out to me to see if I was OK. Not. One. They showed their true colors. Klootzak just gobbled up all that kibble.

  • If your exwife was no longer happy and ended the marriage honestly, before dating a new person, that’s one thing. It is still hard and unfair, but it is honest.

    But she lied and deceived you for years. That was not one single mistake. It was a choice. A hundred choices. Every time she lied about where she was, every time she said she felt something she didn’t, every small step to flirt or be open to that mew possibility while still married to you. And you spent six or more years of your one precious mortal life investing in a person who was making these choices that she knew harmed you. That she has stayed with the OM for this long does not give you your own lifetime back. It does not make those choices right. It does not excuse the harm she did to you. That she, from the outside, ended up “happy” does not excuse the selfishness, the weak character or the harm done.

    Also, you ended up with a better life because of your own resilience. YOU rebuilt a stronger relationship with a new person because you are the one with class and integrity. Things did not turn out for the best because of her, but in spite of her.

  • Tell your colleague that ‘water seeks it own level’ and walk away with a smiile.

    You were too good for her, and you deserved and got something better

    The trash took itself out once again

  • Some people are just horrible. I used to think that I had to be friends at some level with everyone. No more. I learned during the separation and divorce that some people need to be fed with a figurative long-handled spoon if at all.

    Our young adults and I have debated what we’ll do if there is a death on my ex’s side including their father whose health has been precarious for years. One kid said no way. One kid said probably. I said maybe. It was a “gray” divorce, and my ex was retired when he hightailed it. We are not in touch with him or his family on an ongoing basis.

    So we’ll see how we feel if it comes up if we are notified.

  • Thrown, in the exchange with your coworker, you bumped up against a bias that is both pervasive and universal: that partnered > single, and (as you touch on in your post) that a relationship’s longevity is a marker of its high quality and worth.
    I’m sure many of us chumps have felt the particular sting when our cheating exes repartner quickly (hell, immediately!) and we remain single and try to heal.
    One of the positive aspects of having been chumped is the awareness we gain. Awareness of how we and others show up in the world. Many people seem to move through life while asleep at the wheel, and your coworker might be in that category.
    Being chumped is being forced to reckon with everything, and what we gain is clarity. You sound like you have that clarity. You know your coworker’s comment was just a dumb, knee-jerk response born of unexamined biases. Not a personal attack against you, and not, in my opinion, worthy of a response.
    Roll your eyes, shake your head, and go back to your mighty, cheater-free life.

    • Exactly this. So maybe she’s deceiving the asshat she left the OP for more successfully, ergo the marriage has run on longer. Well, possibly it’s a better choice…for her. But that doesn’t say much at all. Perhaps all this amounts to is a more accommodating host, and/or a more cunning parasite. All we have is a duration of time and the pervasive bias as stated above. One thing for sure is that marriage is a concept that these fools will never understand. For cheaters to do what they do violates all decency and vows taken. Society at large just does not see this, or does not want to see (particularly if it forces individuals to take heed of their own precarious situations).

  • Who knows what their 20 year relationship is really like. Maybe it’s great. Maybe it’s not. But for sure they need to present it to the world as the right decision. Basically, the need to justify their actions to all the people out there looking at them and saying “20 years proves they made the right decision” is keeping them together, regardless of the actual quality of their marriage.

    Probably not worthwhile pointing out the dynamics to a coworker, though.

    • I was married 26 years to a covert narc. The first 2 years were fine. The rest was marked by verbal, financial, and maybe a little physical abuse.

      • I was in an abusive relationship for 10 years and (like your situation) the first 2 years were “great.” I put that in quotation marks because there were huge red flags that went over my head at the time. Knowing what I know now, it was never great, because abusive relationships are never healthy or genuine, they’re built on a lie. Anyway, I enjoyed those first 2 years, not knowing what I know now. I spent the next decade trying to get the nice years back.

        I’ve heard the same story from so many abuse survivors: “The first X months were wonderful and I spent the next decade trying to get them back.”

        • The old adage about boiling a frog applies to our marriages.

          And yeah, the red flags were waving but I didn’t recognize them.

          Also, the abuse wasn’t ever intentional. It doesn’t diminish it, but I know that he can’t ever change because it’s in his fabric to be like that.

          He wasn’t the cheater, although he had a flirtation early on, like in 1993 ish.

          I was with the cheater after, and having left a bad marriage after so many years, leaving the cheater was easy.

  • Thrown, I don’t think she hates you, I think she fears you. it’s likely that she and her AP (now husband) have resented that her mother and siblings continued to think well of you and support you. Your presence at the funeral, and any interactions with you, would remind the cheaters that others know the truth about their cheating. This was probably about image management and their fears that others attending the funeral, including his kids, would see that her siblings remained on cordial terms with you, contradicting stories she or AP have told.
    As for your coworker, I second CL’s advice to watch your back here. Why on earth would a work colleague even ask if your former wife was still married to her AP after 20 years, let alone throw out that nasty zinger? As Thirtythreeyearsachump, wrote, “Silence, the cut direct, screams louder than words.” Since you asked for what to say, “I have no idea why you’d ask me that,” puts the questioner on the spot, turning the tables on what they tried to do to you.
    It seems you have taken the high road throughout. It’s reasonable to question why others would try to hurt you. Their actions/comments are a reflection on them, not you. I suspect they hurt because they are undeserved and unexpected, similar to you ex’s original betrayal.

  • My first XH married his AP as soon as the ink was dry on our divorce decree, though she moved in as soon as I moved out. I think they are still together some 35(?) years later. Are they happy? I don’t know or care. For them it was definitely a “better” relationship since they are both shallow, materialistic, and narcissistic people. Yes, water seeks its own level, and they are welcome to live together in the mud-puddle.

    I missed his family. though, and they were devastated when he left me for the AP. His sweet younger sister still stays in touch, all these years later, though we rarely talk about the XH. When his parents died, I sent a small donation to the charities they supported, but didn’t attend the services.

  • #1. She doesn’t hate you, she’s afraid of your presence at a family gathering because her own siblings like, admire, and respect you more than they do her.

    #2. Your co-worker is not your friend. Watch your back.

    Chumplady’s right, there are many ways to pay respects to the departed, and they don’t have to involve attending a funeral. As they say, “funerals are for the living.” You showed support and paid respects to the family and it it sounds like they were very appreciave. Personally? I believe the so-called dead are aware of our grieving. Hold your own ceremony under a big tree. Speak out loud to her. Bring flowers to her grave.

    • Thank you WATC, ex partners siblings and father have invited me to have a drink and remember their mother’s/wife’s memory which I was deeply touched that they would do such a thing. So we will drink to her memory and all the good times shared.

    • WATC,

      I think that you are absolutely bang on target here. The Cheater fears the Chump as the Chump’s presence risks undermining her carefully crafted (ie complete bullsh*t) narrative that lays all of the blame for her actions at the Chump’s feet. It also risks those awkward “what the hell were you doing leaving the Chump for that loser?” type questions being raised …. in my experience Cheaters don’t like those kind of questions.

      Also, as you say, the friend is no friend. Not long after Ex-Mrs LFTT left the kids and I, someone I thought was a friend of mine asked me “What do you think that AP has that you don’t?” They were rather surprised firstly with my response (“Low standards and a drink problem, just like hers”) and, secondly, that I never spoke to them again.

      LFTT

      • LFTT: Bravo that you replied so expertly to your “FRIEND” and that you cut them out of your mental list of “friends”. I hate disrespect and rudeness, etc. and this person did not understand friendship.

  • Thrown: Read what CL said over and over again. Please do not be disrespectful to your current partner by letting this X of yours occupy so much space in your head. Xs are Xs for reasons. You moved on and have been happy with your current partner. Your X does not deserve any space in your head, so please do whatever it takes to minimize her being in your head so much. Do not jeopardize your current relationship by untangling the skein (even if current partner says she understands…) If I were in her shoes, it would bother me that my spouse was wondering why…………Your X is who she is. Who she is caused your break up and heartache. She chose to cheat and that was certainly not out of love for you. See a professional for counseling or whatever you need to do to get your head in the present. Wishing you all the best.

    • Thanks LC I agree and think the whole emotive nature of death and funerals along with the comments just blind sided me. It has made me appreciate what I have now and today’s feedback has also really helped. Like CL said things will will return to normality quickly after a case of the wobbles. I just didnt get her anger or holding a grudge because I assumed if I was OK now she would be too but thanks to CN see the impression management angle now.

  • She showed up on your vacation? Twice? That is creeptacular. I’m surprised you didn’t get a restraining order.

    • Regarding your coworker’s comment, maybe your ex is married to a guy who is a doormat. He’ll put up with what you didn’t because trust me, she hasn’t changed.

    • 😁 yes there was a rich vein of dark humour that I now look back on. She even invited members of my family to her wedding to schmoopie….they politely declined! But lots of things that I now look back at and smile at the ludicrous nature of it.

      • Playground principles: it’s no fun running away if no one is chasing you. It’s no fun playing Princess in the Tower without someone else playing ogre and captor.

        In my experience observing social dramas, FWs/abusers seem to have the most trouble moving on. I don’t know why. Is it that if you’re never really where you are, you never really leave? Does it have something to do with “splitting” in borderline personality? People are devalued as they move closer and idealized as they move away and become inaccessible? From the stories, some cheaters bolt and do the Houdini act quite convincingly. Still, as a former dv victims advocate I would hear so many stories of supposedly above-it-all abusers circling back around at the very moment that their former victims are genuinely breaking away, as if creeps have a special radar for it. “Hey, you were supposed to be lying in a gutter mournfully calling my name in perpetuity! No fair!”

  • I have something similar said to me like the “right decision” statement. I left my cheater after 26 yrs of marriage and several d-days. I have since met the man I am now married to. I’m happy and love him very much. Many have said something like, “It was for the best because you are so much happier now.” I feel if I question this, I am being disrespectful to my husband. But I feel it gives the cheater the positive spin as if he did it for me….. Any suggestions to answer this statement?

    • Something similar was said after I miscarried: “It was for the best, there was probably something wrong with the baby.” An averted tragedy does not take away the pain, our hopes and dreams. Our tragedies do not need to be forgotton. For a while we still love the (possibly) damaged baby or the damaged husband who cheats. We morn the possibilities, the hopes pinned on a future with those we love, and they are not easily forgotten. The loss of dreams of a beautiful future need to be honored, not plastered with platitudes and a pat on the head. So many people want to put a smiley-face sticker on everything because they don’t want to admit that something sad and devastating could happen to them.

      • Maybe..people who care about us, want to help us feel better. Not much can help during the crisis but the fact that they try in some way helps. It does help us sort the chaff from the wheat though. Sincerity can be felt.

    • I agree I think CL summed it up somewhere in a way that I could not match but it’s a bit like thanking someone who broke your arm for making you ambidextrous. I would not thank my ex for what she did but I did learn some valuable lessons and ultimately met my wife. But like many of us on CN it could still happened had our cheaters just left the relationship without cheating.

    • I don’t see the comment being a positive spin for your cheater ex. I think your friends are trying their best (maybe a bit clumsy) to support you and say you are so much better off without cheater.

    • I am glad that you have found a better life and are happier now. It would have been a lot better if your first husband would have just told you marriage is not for him, etc. before he put you through so many d-days etc. Trauma is never for the better. I do understand your feeling about possibly being disrespectful to your now husband. Too bad you had to eat so many shit sandwiches before you found him. I would be at a loss too as to what to say to person commenting. You did get someone who is WAY better for you. If you could have skipped all that trauma before you met Mr. Right.

    • I have a whole comeback routine for that one because I take victim blaming fatalism very (very, very) seriously. But the trick is pretending not to take it seriously because the other person is not being direct about their intentions and doesn’t deserve frankness.

      I shall now climb upon my soap box, ahem. So there was a female comedian who quipped that whenever she hears people say the New Agey “Everything happens for a reason,” what she hears instead is “Anything can happen with a razor.” For years that’s been my comeback whenever anyone spouts this “Be grateful to misfortune/evil for good outcomes” or “Maybe this happened because the victim/you deserved it” kinds of things. I chuckle out loud as if what they’ve said suddenly reminded me of a great story, tell the bit about the comedian and cheerfully change the subject. In response the person will either half try to laugh along or else they stare glumly back, unable to defend their point without coming off like an intense weirdo. Sometimes it sparks an interesting discussion about concepts of divinity. Then I pull out my Einstein quote about the God of Spinoza who “who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of the world, not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.” The other person is free to disagree but now the convo is revealed as being about religious differences and you’ve successfully steered it away from the personal. If they keep trying to victim blame, I mention the Book of Job where God offers to send Job’s judgy friends to hell for daring to guess God’s intentions. I can never remember those passages, just the gist, so I ask them if they remember how it was worded. Then the conversation has been shifted into talking about the bible. Either way, mission accomplished. <>.

      Anyway, the razor quip isn’t actually that funny but it foils the passive aggressive fatalists every time. They’re not that hard to foil because the fatalism is knee-jerk and they’re not fully in control of themselves since a belief system they may not acknowledge harboring has been threatened by your mention of your own or someone else’s misfortune. As an advocate for dv survivors I learned about the tendency of bystanders to shift into the “safe world” cognitive fallacy (there are other names for it) upon witnessing or hearing about tragedies to which they themselves may feel particularly vulnerable. The thinking goes like this: “God is in his heaven and only good things happen to good people. If something bad happens to someone, they either deserved it or God had a bigger plan. Ergo nothing bad can ever happen to me because I am good, my happiness is intrumental to God’s plans and God loves me more.”

      Apply the “safe world” thinking to slavery or the Holocaust or pediatric cancer caused by pollution and the argument disintegrates. Really, all those people had to suffer horrendously and die for some greater end? Or they were all bad people? Wow, nice.

      Anyway, I think having a good comeback for this starts with understanding that what the other person is doing is foisting their concept of religion or spirituality on you. It’s social gaucheness and not a view that can be defended by any cohesive theology, or at least the concept can be questioned within the teachings of any major religion except in terms of bastardized cult versions of theology which are all about designating a transcendent deserving caste vs. disposable scum. I’m not religious but it’s not out of disrespect for religion that I mess with people like this. I genuinely respect spiritual faculties but blamey fatalists are typically spouting noxious spiritual drivel which any first year seminary student would be corrected for.

      That thinking used to drive me nuts and wound my soul until I figured out the subtext of the discussion is really this:
      You: This bad thing happened.
      Them: That could never happen to me.
      You: Uh, well, yeah it could.
      Them: Meep (brain explodes).

      • I love that comeback, but people stupid enough to mouth that kind of fatalistic, faux-spiritual drivel won’t get the point of it.
        I just tell them the dismal state of the world proves the universe is a random instrument that has no capacity for reason.
        Nobody but religious fanatics will bite on that, and it’s a hard one for them to argue against. If they try I can bury them in endless examples of pointless suffering.

        • Whether you’re trouncing their religious views or just taking them deeper, you’re still redirecting the conversation away from the personal so, yay, it works even if it’s over their heads. Also people panic when you respond to their kneejerk subtext rather than the surface subject but do it in a way that they don’t really have an avenue to get even more personal and insulting.

          Another redirect is suddenly staring at someone closely after they’ve uttered something awful and saying in amazement, “I just noticed that your pupils are uneven. You should get that checked.” But I’d only use that for really nasty personal comments or people who try to shake others up with gross sexual references.

          I used to work in a horrible industry with a lot of horrible people who’d routinely say horrible things. I haven’t had to lob grenades in years, thank God, but these are field tested lol.

    • How about; “Yes, it worked out well for me eventually, but that certainly wasn’t ___(ex’s name) intention.”

  • Time is a yardstick that only measures time.

    My grandmother and both of her sisters all lived to over 100. They were drinking buddies, alcoholics their whole long mean, miserable lives. I got into recovery not because I was afraid I would die but because I was afraid I might live a long miserable life too. There are gates worse than death.

    Bernie Madoff was ripping off his clients for decades before his Ponzi scheme revealed him as a criminal rather than a genius investor.
    Many were people he called friends. There were whistleblowers who smelled a rat and were ignored for years.

    It’s a challenge for me to hold steady with my own assessment of Traitor X because he puts so much energy into his Nice Guy persona, which a lot of people buy into. They weren’t married to him. They don’t have him as a father who ghosted them.

    I have to remind myself that my experiences with Traitor X are FACTS, not an opinion. Healthy people don’t lie and have affairs and hold people emotional hostage.

    There are plenty of fools on earth who see big anniversary numbers and assume All Is Cool in the kingdom. I’m not one of them. I was stuck in my own mirage which was revealed at Year 27. I know now he was likely cheating the whole time.

    No one knows better than us how deceiving appearances can be, and that “together” does not equate “healthy”.

    • Since much of my belongings had remained packed a few years after the divorce, when I a go through things now it is very evident how he was making division on belongings. The things he wrote on the back of photos . I now believe that he had anticipated being caught for misdeeds during our marriage. He knew he kept pushing his luck in many aspects. I was there for him when he lost his parents and others ,my Dad had died years before our marriage and my Mom died right after I left him and filed for divorce. Double trauma whammy . Anyone familiar with the song”I’ll come back as another women” Hear the echo of my promise , how you laughed and how I cried
      https://youtu.be/5G14HVjQ-BU

  • “ I have never judged a relationship on the number of years, but clearly a lot of people do.”
    My therapist once told the following, “People confuse longevity and titles with quality and substance. You can have weekend filled with quality and substance than a decade together with someone”
    Spoke volumes. I always remember that statement.

    • That reminds of of the film Chinatown where the rapey pedo villain says, “Of course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

  • In my cynical and snarky nature, I would have been a total bitch and said “Interesting, that’s exactly what a cheater would say!” While giving them the eyebrow and walking away….keeping my distance from that person from that point on. If they walk up to me again, I give the brow and a disgusted look and walk away. Anyone associated with them, I would make it a point to keep my distance from that person too. If they ask why, I would say I don’t want to be associated with someone who surrounds themselves with people who believe it’s ok to treat others poorly.

    This is what I’ve done for over 4 years now after being chumped 3x since divorcing my FW 8 years ago. Me setting boundaries with perpetrators and those who associate or justify perpetrators has done nothing but help me navigate with other people. What I’ve found is other people respect you more when you clearly show your truth. And, there is nothing more blatant of showing your truth than not associating with assholes or people who justify assholes. That’s just been my experience.

  • Ex wife’s real reason for not wanting you there could be she looks like shit and doesn’t want you to see her at this point. Afraid you might gloat. Yes its petty, but hey she’s a cheater. Whatever her reason it would appear your ex is miserable and it’s not just because of her mother’s death.

    • ^THIS! Remember, cheaters are generally very shallow indeed and the simpliest explanation is the most likely. Why do we give them so much more credit.

  • > “Well, she must have made the right decision (to cheat) as she has been with him longer than you!”

    What a sanctimonious asshole.

    You can safely write this coworker off as a garbage person beneath your notice. No respectable person with an ounce of common sense or social skills would dream of saying that shit.

  • Follow the Logic:

    She stabbed you in the back and she’s still hanging out with the hitman who helped her, so therefore knifing you in the back was the right thing to do?

    He held you down while she soul-murdered you, and they’re still together so it looks like it was a good idea?

    The serial killer hasn’t been caught and it’s been awhile, so they must have stopped killing.

    I like to check in with the Darwin Awards periodically lest I become complacent and start thinking that sense is common after all. (And to make sure I stay off the list of nominees.)

    I have to admit, there are a LOT of people on the planet to choose from, and I do want to be in the company of really good people who care about being ethical, kind, loyal, and trustworthy, so I guess can be grateful whenever anyone identifies themselves as not belonging to that faction.

    I think it’s best if Darwin Award nominees stick together.

    • My favorite one-liner is from Dr. Frank Pittman. My first therapist studied with him. She loved him, I love and trust her, therefore I love him too.

      He says, “wonderful people do not screw around with married people, and wonderful married people don’t screw around.”

      He tells cheaters who blame their partners/relationships: “YOU are the problem with your marriage.”

      I agree.

      I married Traitor X because he presented himself as Uncle Fluffy, a Nice Guy who would never cheat. I believed him. I thought he was a good man.

      Big mistake. I see the red flags with the new glasses The Affair gave me.

      I did not want to be married to a liar/cheater/thief. The truth could only be revealed by the discovery that I had been lied to, cheated on, and stolen from.

      Ironically, he and the Craigslist “sole mate” do belong together. They have matching values….orgasms and appearances are at the top of their wish list. Character and integrity aren’t. If they were, he would not have cheated and she would not have chosen to him.

      I don’t know that many here would have picked their partner if they had been up front about who they are. Good people aren’t deceptive about who they are, and good people don’t get involved in illicit relationships with people in committed relationships.

      Good is as good does.

      • My ex could be funny, affectionate, giving and Thoughtful. I refuse to banish good. But like a beautifully frosted cake when one slices into it and finds the mold and the smell of it overtakes you. The pretty frosting slides off and you realize what’s left. My Ex and his OW are a perfect set . Stinky muffins They can never share the type beginning of my ex and I. She will never have our memories and times with people now dead or the raising of children. Their together lacks because it all began in deceit lies and theft. My guess she might be jealous or doubtful of what my ex and I had , but it is not any concern for me. They can last forever and I will have zero envy . My focus is to have better boundaries to guard against fakers and takers in the future.

  • To the co-worker, “I wonder if the wife and 2 little children her husband abandoned so he could run off with her would agree with you?”

  • Cheaters are banal people. She’s probably not happy with how she has aged, so she doesn’t want you to see her. Or she doesn’t want people to compare you and her AP/husband. It’s a power thing, she’s afraid to be a “looser” you know. Cheaters often have issues with self-esteem.

    You have handled it honorably. Keep you head high.

    • They also tend to fabricate centrality where it doesn’t exist. The shmoopie in the story might still imagine that the chump would “try to kill him” at the funeral which, in shmoopie’s mind gives greater value to the cheater ex and which the cheater ex would find very flattering as if she’s worth dueling over.

      I remember FW in my situation saying that I shouldn’t tell anyone about the affair since shmoopie’s father, who was supposedly ex military, would try to kill FW. I just laughed because my dad actually was a lumbering combat veteran with a history of defending his family tooth and nail but that didn’t stop FW from FWitting. Plus one of the workplace whistleblowers grew up in the same area as the AP and knew some of the backstory. The AP’s dad was not ex military but was a chubby, runtish boozer with tiny hands who once worked as a paper pusher for a firm slightly related to military contracting. Furthermore the AP had complained to a coworker that her dad was a tightwad and her parents kept negging her about being single every time she’d ask for help paying off student loans, vacations, car repairs and rent.

      That actually made me feel a bit sympathetic in terms of the politics of this because it relates to the gender pay gap and student loan crisis which is driving between 5 and 15% of uni students to prostitution. But is the convergence of of millennial financial desperation and middle class families sinking after the ’08 crash and unwillingness or inability to shore up their adult children’s meager salaries flattering to FW in terms of the motives and the “objective value” of his conquest? Was it flattering that Shmoop’s family was trying to shove her expensive butt off the family payroll and wouldn’t have cared if she married Freddy Krueger as long as he picked up the tab? Nope. FWs tend to fluff up the narrative so that it makes themselves and their creepy communions look shinier and more sought-after. I think one of the final stages before Meh is overcoming the shame that we were married to delusional sadsacks. It’s depressing.

  • I think that Thrown by Comment’s ex probably got called out by her late mother on her shitty, cheating behavior when it all went down. She probably HATED the fact that her mother did not approve of what she did and the fact that her mother was gracious and kind to Thrown by Comment all these years thereafter really frosted her. So, she seized upon the ONLY opportunity afforded all these years to paint her ex as responsible by excluding him from the funeral that he wanted to attend. She’ll show him!!! LOL. Thrown by Comment- you are a class act human being and former chump. I agree with everything that Chump Lady says regarding your co-worker’s comment. Keep living a good, happy life.

  • If you read between the lines, the ex-wife never stopped cheating because she tried to hoover OP 18 months post-separation then married AP ~6 months later. Presumably she was with her AP during the hoovering so…the coworker is an idiot.

  • This is interesting to me, because I am letting the cheater come to my mother’s funeral. She would want him there, so of course he is allowed to be there. The fuckwit in this case is being selfish, but what else can you expect from a fuckwit. She is blocking somebody her mother cared for and would want to be there. What a bitch. She’ll be “upset” not because she hates her ex but because she hates to be reminded of what she did. It indicates that she knows she was wrong, so I’d consider this validation. It also indicates she’s none too blissfully coupled with her AP if her ex being there bothers her that much. If you’re happy with your spouse, seeing an ex (providing you weren’t mistreated), shouldn’t upset you. Methinks seeing her ex-chump would be a reminder her that her current relationship sucks. But who cares why she does the stupid things she does. The important point is that the chump behaved honorably. Kudos, Thrown.

    As for the idiotic comment from a colleague, the longevity of a union is no proof of anything. Lots of unhappy people stay together. The FW will age out and not be able to find new schmoopies, so the FW will settle, miserably, for what she has.
    This colleague is not only not that bright, but is rude and insensitive. Who says something like that? Well, a cheater or a cheating sympathizer (cheater wannabe) does. Also a chump who lives with self-blame might or somebody whose parent cheated and they then internalized the all too common chump-blaming attitude.
    At any rate, I’d avoid conversing with this person in future, since he sounds uninteresting, unintelligent and a jerk.

  • Huge thanks for the advice CL very much appreciated along with the thought provoking perspectives and answerbacks coming through. As always CN is a huge source of support and has been crucial to rebuilding my life over the years. Really appreciate it fellow chumps. Thank you.

  • This is so weird to me, because funerals are not like weddings, where people need to be invited to attend (maybe things have changed, I’m not young). I come from country people and that’s how it always was. Word got out in the community and people came. Sometimes people who barely knew the deceased came out of respect to support the bereaved. Others came because it was a gathering and they were bored, curious, whatever, or because there would be food (potluck) at the park or a relative’s house of the departed, after. One little old lady in town came to every funeral whether she knew the deceased or their family or not, because she was lonely and liked to dress up. It was nice of Thrown to ask his former in-laws, though.

  • Thrown,

    1) the line “I wasn’t perfect, neither was she” makes me lose my shit every fucking time I read it. I’m not angry at the person who utters it (unless it’s a fuckwit, but they usually aren’t as modest as to admit to falling short of perfection, except when they are in full self-pity mode). It’s this obviously absurd assumption that became common nowadays that coupled life is a mutual promise of nothing but rose gardens. Life is hard. People suck. The best of people sucks every now and then. Live with someone for long enough and you’re gonna eventually smell their shit. Perfection cannot be a requirement to be treated as a human being deserving of respect and consideration. Full stop.

    2) congrats on having had a decent person as your XMIL and kudos on honouring her accordingly, you’re indeed a gentleman and it is such a comfort to know there are still people like you in the world; when my FW XMIL pass away and Satan welcome whatever remnants of a soul she may still have I wouldn’t be anywhere near her sordid carcass.

    3) I lack social skills big time (as you can see). But I believe I would never say something as clueless to someone as your colleague did to you. He is probably an irredeemable dumbass and – CL is right as usual – probably a cheater (a potential cheater at least; it may be the case that he is such a neckbeard that he will never have anyone to cheat on, let alone another one to cheat with). Stay clear of this complete idiot (that said by a hopefully benign idiot).

    4) It is very good to see good things happening to good people. Sometimes I lose my hope that anything resembling justice is achievable. I don’t wish nothing particularly bad to befall on the wicked (my FW XMIL nothwithstanding). Just fuck them! It must suck donkey’s balls to be them. Consequences would be nice though. But to see chumps being fed this strict shit-sandwiches diet for years is unnerving. Here’s for the good life you built for yourself. Enjoy it, you deserve it. I hope you forget your FW X and leave her alone. She will never, ever apologize nor give nothing to vindicate you. This is not how they roll.

    Sorry for maybe coming across as crass. Really bad day dealing with fuckwittery. Peace and love!

    • Not at all, thank you for responding, I really liked your CLesque no messing, not getting splinters in a*** for sitting on fence approach. PMSL at the 2nd part of no 2).

  • Off-topic (please forgive me): just had another post-midnight hostage exchange. Can’t stand this shit anymore. Fell off the minimal-possible-contact wagon and rolled off the self-respect cliff all the way down to text FW XW to *beg* her to take our sons best interest at heart just a little bit and *please* get her shit together. Finally I did something about it, even if it was doormatish. I pray to whatever higher power that may be that I finally grow a pair and put this shit to an end. My kids were exhausted, didn’t wanna go but had to be kept awake awaiting for coochie mama to arrive home from work/party. They have school tomorrow and I have work. What kind of selfish fucker doesn’t realize this is detrimental to her sons’ well being? At bath time at night, my autistic kid cried and begged me to put his pajamas on him when he realized he was going to leave. This is soul wrenching. When did FWs abandon even their impression management? Why are there flying monkeys cheering up to this trainwreck? Is her “happiness” that paramount that it trumps her kids rest?Where is people’s decency? Where the fuck are my balls?

    • Damn that’s rough. Especially for your kids. Document everything and get legal advice and personal support.
      You’re probably exhausted from all the struggle and the stress so you need that support to get through this and get a livable solution for your kids. Think about what’s best for them and act accordingly. Bring someone as an eyewitness if need be, but your kids need stability.
      Hang in there.

      • Thanks, Guide Dog! I am exhausted.
        I lawyered up again just yesterday, when FW threatened me to drag me to court over tax refunds. Basically she feels she is entitled to claim one of our kids as her dependant, even though she doen’t contribute a rusty penny whatsoever to kids’ education and health expenses.
        I took the opportunity to consult with my lawyer about these frequent post-midnight hostage exchanges and the fact that my eldest son (10 yo) was threatened by his FW mother to be left home alone around midnight (what is it with midnight?) if he wasn’t going to the airport welcome her boyfriend (something to which he objected). My lawyer pointed me to child protection services and there I go.
        Eyewitness is already on board. This shit is going to end now.

    • Sorry BrazilianChump, that sounds terrible. I hope you can build enough of a case to get full custody eventually. It must be exhausting. Hopefully a lawyer can help you use all this unnecessary suffering to right some of the wrong. 🤞

      • Thanks, FuckThatShit! Lawyered up again. She is currently stirring trouble with me over tax returns. We just had a phone call to talk about that and I caught her on tape losing her shit with me and the kids, yelling, calling me names, giving me orders, insulting and harrassing me. Then another one sobbing and saying she needs this money badly (she earns 2x what I earn – by her own account – and doesn’t pay anything for our sons’ education and health bills). I mentioned her conjugal and financial infidelity in the last call and she hung up immediately. Wonder how this is going to play in the court.
        My case, I think, is already built. I am having to pay google extra just to storage the gigabytes worth of evidence I have of her screw ups. I am just waiting for her to strike first. This time I will ask the judge in the end to make her pay my lawyer. Fucker.

  • I’m thinking about possibly sending my story to Chump Lady, but I really am the villain in the story. I don’t blame him, but I am so tired of it all.

  • I’m thinking about possibly sending my story to Chump Lady, but I really am the villain in the story. I don’t blame him, but I am so tired of it all.

  • I think this comment falls more in line with people wanting things to make sense or believe the world somehow is just as a way to protect them from something so awful happening to them. It was just a stupid and I’ll informed comment. I got so many of those from good friends – who didn’t understand until something happened to them. A reply may have been: your comment shows you’ve never experienced the abuse and betrayel of a cheater. In that way I’m happy for you.

  • Just curious why your Co-Worker assumes she’s not cheating on her current husband. My guess, she is & either he doesn’t know or won’t leave her over it.

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