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She Keeps Acting Like We’re a ‘We’

Hello Chump Lady,

Thank you for an amazing site that has helped me through the worst time of my life.

The background: two months ago, my wife of 15 years and mother of my two children came to me and said she thought maybe we should get divorced. She did not want to work on it or go to therapy, all that we decided was that we won’t do anything rash.

She had grown distant over the past couple of weeks and i had my suspicion she was having an emotional affair with a guy we play games with. Why? Because she had done so six years earlier and we went to therapy about it, I dragged us there. And i thought we came out of that stronger than ever. She said that she didn’t have feelings for this new guy, she swore, and I in my chumpiness believed her, i guess because I wanted to.

We went like this for maybe a month, talked about it another two or three times and her answers were the same. No reconciliation, maybe we should just divorce. Note the maybe, she never just said let’s divorce. So I did the pick me dance for a month, i was extremely depressed, went into therapy and had serious thoughts of just ending my life.

Then came D-day. I was working late and she asked me to pick up our daughter on my way home. This would’ve been out of my way, and wouldn’t have been more than a 5 minute walk for her, so naturally I got suspicious. I came home 30 min earlier than announced, no sign of her in our house. I walk upstairs to the bedroom, and the door is locked. I bang in the door and ask her what she’s doing, she days she’s changing. With a locked door, while alone in the house. Yeah right. I know what she’s doing, she’s sending pictures to this guy. This was my greatest fear this past month, because she did it six years ago.

I bang on the door, panicked, and she eventually open after what seems like an eternity. She admits to what she was doing, says she never sent anything. I go through her phone but she had ample time to clear the evidence. I freak out, yell etc. and my heart is broken. Even then I ask her to work on it, to go to therapy. She declines, says she sees no future with me, maybe we should just divorce.

I am crushed, I go to a friend, cry, drink and talk about how my life is over, how my marriage is over. Instead of staying at his place though, I feel dead inside, crushed and unwanted after just being rejected for a month. So I go out and have a one night stand. It didn’t make me feel any better, the opposite, I felt disgusting and guilty.

I come home in the morning, we talk and when I mention I was with someone else she responds with “Oh that makes me sad” and I ask her.. why? You ended the marriage last night, you were very clear. “Yes, but I hoped it wasn’t truly over”. What the fuck does that even mean?

She’s now blaming my ONS for not wanting to reconcile, she’s disgusted she says and asked me to move out of the bedroom, which I did. We went to one therapy session after this where she pretty much just said no. So, it is truly and finally over. I blamed myself a lot for this ONS before I found your blog. I realized that she went for over a month watching me be tormented and broke, and she just continued the affair. Continued to keep me in limbo. She says she cares about me, that she’s sad she hurt me, etc. But she still chose to keep doing this to me.

We still live together, and haven’t started the actual process or anything, but I don’t know how to act around and with her. She is acting like essentially nothing happened. She talks about her day, jokes around, when we watch TV she chit chats about what we’re watching. If you saw us you wouldn’t know she had had and affair for three months.

And like… I don’t want this to turn toxic, I want a smooth divorce for the kids. But i don’t want to be friends with her, even though I enjoy her company and talking to her.. I don’t actually want to give her my energy anymore. I don’t want her as a friend. She was my partner and my best friend, was.

So how do I act around her? Do I ignore her? Do I respond short and swift when she initiates conversation? Do I yell? I don’t know. And it’s just.. weird. She acts like we are still friends, she talks about things WE have to do and are gonna do. About our summer vacation and how I should book a hotel to go with the park tickets I bought a month before this, how we should clear out the basement, how we should get the AC serviced, how we need to get this and that fixed. We. I mean… How is there even still a we?

It might be a weird question but I just don’t know how to act or respond. I’m not an angry or spiteful person, I don’t like hating someone. But I hate her for what she did to me, twice.

Nordic Chump

P.S.

And to add. In our 15 years i have never as much as flirted with another woman. I have been 100% dedicated to this marriage, and i wouldn’t have even considered us not growing old together.

Would I have had a one night stand had I not discovered her sending nudes to another man and then saying it was over? No, not in a million years. Not that that is an excuse. I did it, i take responsibility for it, I told her about it and I regret it. But i would’ve never done it had that night never happened.

I thought my marriage was 100% over that night, and it probably was. And even then i feel like shit about it. But her saying she hoped it wasn’t over keeps me awake at night. It feels like I messed up and killed it. Even though I know that’s not true.

****

Dear Nordic Chump,

Quit waiting for her to initiate the divorce. You do it.

Is that fair? Of course it isn’t. But that’s how this shit goes down. And that’s how you take your power back. (Not through self-medicating with other people, which you’ve already discovered.)

This is what you need to know about your soon-to-be-ex-wife — she enjoys cake. Her affairs, and boudoir photography — and your beautiful pick-me dance. She’s awash in kibbles. Plus you’re there to fix the AC and book the family vacation. This WORKS for her.

But, but… she says she wants a divorce. 

… And then does nothing about it. People who want things make them happen.

If I tell you I want to be a concert pianist and never touch a keyboard, how badly do I want to be a concert pianist? Not very.

However, saying she wants a divorce has the desired effect of you upping your pick me dance game. Of you committing to her with therapy and centrality. Of you fighting for her attention. She’s the star of this soap opera and you’re the jealous lover competing for her awesomeness.

Stop that shit.

I come home in the morning, we talk and when I mention I was with someone else she responds with “Oh that makes me sad” and I ask her.. why? You ended the marriage last night, you were very clear. “Yes, but I hoped it wasn’t truly over”. What the fuck does that even mean?

It means cake.

She’s knows you’re more invested than she is. The ONS didn’t convince you or her otherwise. That was you trying to get her to do the pick-me-dance for you. Revenge affairs don’t work. You can’t hurt them like they hurt you, because they’re simply not as invested. You hurt because you bond.

She’s playing a game of chicken with you. Enjoying a power trip. She knows you don’t want to be the bad guy and end things, so it keeps you there, and her in cake.

Be the bad guy. Who cares what she thinks?

She’s now blaming my ONS for not wanting to reconcile, she’s disgusted she says and asked me to move out of the bedroom, which I did. We went to one therapy session after this where she pretty much just said no. So, it is truly and finally over.

Quit putting stock in what SHE says. Of course she’s going to blameshift. Is this relationship acceptable to you? Do you want to feel broken and suicidal? Spend your life marriage policing? Can you go on this way?

No. So, call that lawyer — don’t tell her — just do it — and start taking your life back.

And like… I don’t want this to turn toxic

It’s already toxic. You’re several Chernobyls in.

I want a smooth divorce for the kids.

Then be the sane parent. You don’t control her side of the parenting street, just yours. Don’t model dysfunction to the kids, stand up for yourself, have boundaries, and get out. It’s not good for children to live in limbo either, with the threat of divorce or parental meltdown hanging over their heads. Be a field marshall and get yourself, and them, to a saner, safer place.

So how do I act around her? Do I ignore her? Do I respond short and swift when she initiates conversation? Do I yell? I don’t know. And it’s just.. weird. She acts like we are still friends, she talks about things WE have to do and are gonna do. About our summer vacation and how I should book a hotel to go with the park tickets I bought a month before this, how we should clear out the basement, how we should get the AC serviced, how we need to get this and that fixed. We. I mean… How is there even still a we?

She’s gaslighting you. “We” works for her, as I said above. You can let the cognitive dissonance paralyze you, or you can STOP hanging out with her. STOP the conversations about vacations and basements. And let her babble we-we-we-we… all the way home.

You don’t “act” around her, when you’re NOT around her. Read everything on grey rock. Talk to a lawyer and figure out a separation agreement and custody schedule. Yes, I’m asking you to ignore her and move on with your life.

She’ll probably lose her flipping mind. (Rage, charm, self-pity.) Doesn’t matter. You keep moving on with your life.

There’s no “we” unless you agree.

Stop agreeing.

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.
  • A couple of bits of advice from a guy who’s been there:

    – Be prepared for this “we’re still friends, nothing’s really changed” attitude in front of the kids for as long as you’re both in the house together. She’s gaslighting *them* as well, under the guise of ‘doing what’s best for them.’ In her warped mind, you’ll either go along with it, in which case she gets cover for his shitty behavior; or you’ll start grey rocking, in which case she can point at you and say “Dad’s being bitter and difficult.” Unfortunately she now has something on you as well. Don’t let that keep you from taking all of CL’s advice. Take charge of what you can control, gray rock like hell, set the good example for the kids about boundaries, etc.

    – I was in forced cohabitation with mine for 10 months before the court ordered her to vacate. Figure out now what’s most important to you regarding the marital home. If it’s in your name only, enlist a lawyer to help get her out ASAP. If she has any detectable desire to leave, do everything you can (shielded from her, of course) to help make that happen. If (like me) it’s in both your names, and she refuses to leave and/or is vocal about wanting it for herself, push a forced sale and a split of the profits. Whatever you decide, you need to prepare yourself for constant exposure to the three channels of mindfucking — https://www.chumplady.com/2017/09/mindfuck-three-channels/ — for as long as you’re in the house together, and probably for a time after.

    You’ll find strength you never thought you had. Good luck, brother.

    • Damn…so well said. What’s overlooked all too often is the the effect of this gaslighting on kids. It’s fucked up beyond words and my kids are still dealing with the effects as my ex continues to sparkle her “everything’s wonderful” routine in front of everyone while my former family and mutual friends all play along with her.

    • Now she will say that he cheated also. She will use that against him. I talk on the phone with a woman while we were separated and she found out. Told everyone I was a cheater like her.

      I had to do a forced sale also.

      • That‘s because he is a cheater.
        Of course she will use it against him. And why wouldn‘t she?
        He has gone down on her level.

        • Nah, you gotta have a committed relationship in order to cheat on it. She blew that up before he had the ONS. Put it like this: if we have a contract that you sell me tomatoes, and one day when you show up with the tomatoes I don’t pay, tell you to fuck off, and rip the contract up in front of you, you are not in breach of contract if you stop delivering me tomatoes.

          • I agree with Portia too.
            He could have done many things but he chose to cheat.

            If he had sex out of the marriage without immediately telling his spouse, it’s cheating.
            Wouldn’t we here call it cheating if the fuckwit did the same thing?

            As far as the tomato analogy, ripping up the contract is equal to getting a divorce. Null and void and free to do what you want. Not the same as just finding out you’re married to a cheater and cheating yourself.

            I’m sure the writer is very sorry about his actions but the dynamics of his divorce have changed. The degree of cheating and the intent are irrelevant. Cheating is cheating.

            I don’t mean to hurt the author and I hope he makes a clean break. Clearly this relationship is broken.

            • >He could have done many things but he chose to cheat.

              I’m not a fan of judging chumps for a trauma response, or insinuating his actions and hers were on the same level. They’re not. There is no marriage or covenant left to break. The cheater’s already destroyed it.

              • I tend to agree with Cam. She cheated AND said she repeatedly said she wanted a divorce. Clearly the letter writer didn’t make a great decision for his own health/mental health, but she’s not his friend and he owes her nothing. All the advice we share here involves separating oneself from the FW, keeping your plans from the FW, not considering the FW your partner or even on the same team.

                Where I think he went wrong? Going back to her and telling her. He could have just exited the marriage then & there.

              • Full disclosure, I did not have a revenge affair, but I did start dating 2.5 years after DDay and 2 years into the divorce while FW was holding up negotiations.

                Would he have considered it cheating? He sure would.
                Do I give one single fuck what he thinks? Sure don’t.

              • You have nothing to justify and it’s good you see that – once the couple have clearly stated that their relationship is over and especially if they no longer live together and even more so if legal stuff is underway, their requirement to be somehow faithful is completely not a thing to most rational people. What for? The contract is no longer valid, be that an actual marriage contract, or a verbal contract between committed partners. It’s openly and clearly finished. Cheating involves deceit.

        • The only difference in our names is I do not capitalize the p. This will probably cause some confusion for those who have been here a while. I’ve been here years. Just FYI

        • I don’t agree with this statement at all. The relationship was over and he let her know anyway what happened with someone else (even though at that point it was NOHFB). She deceived him for the entire relationship – he was invested for 15 years and she never was. Not even close to the same level.

          • Exactly Dr. D, and I’d feel differently if we thought he would/should reconcile – then yes, he has just lowered himself to her level of selfishness and entitlement, by cheating and expecting to come back and have cake. But I’m pretty sure zero people here would recommend that he reconcile with her, whatever our differences over the revenge affair.

        • Sure, sure, he did in fact have a ONS, having just left the family home, distraught about the divorce his wife asked him for, had mentioned more than once, after finding her sexting her current fuckbuddy. Not *quite* at her level, is it? There are differences, but that’s not really relevant. She can call him what she wishes, as long as she signs here, here, here aaaannnd here and initials every page and is good to the kids. She can call him Adolf Hitler if she wants to, who cares?

    • I never looked at it like that- about gaslighting the children under the guise of “what’s best for the children”. My ex also does this with everyone else, especially his parents. “Look at us, getting along, seeeeee? I’m not so bad.
      This is good for everyone. Every one is happier now that we’re divorced” (as if divorce is what happened here)
      And as a chump it’s hard to get away from it and set that boundary because I actually do want to do whatever is best for my children. Is that seeing us at his concert sitting on separate ends of the auditorium? I get so torn up about it, as a child of high conflict divorce. My children only have one sane parent left, and I’m running blind.
      Anyway, good advice, thank you

  • NC,

    Your soon to be Ex doesn’t get to unilaterally decide that there is a “we” when she feels like it. Her actions make it quite clear that there isn’t a “we” when it suits her. As CL suggests, go “grey rock,” get your act together an divorce her; after all that’s what your soon to be Ex said she wanted.

    And quit worrying about whether she thinks that you are the bad guy or not. The fact is that she will go all out to paint you as the bad guy anyway, so get used to it.

    You’ve got this.

    LFTT

  • Thank you for replying to my letter.

    I wrote this letter two weeks ago and have since: gotten realtors to look at and valuate the house, discussed custody agreements, discussed financials. All of this was initiated by me.

    She still talks to me like we are friends, she claims this is to keep the kids from knowing, but she does it when we are alone as well. She also keeps asking me if I am seeing someone when i go out to the gym or see friends, and when i ask her why she wants to know she won’t answer.

    She’s also still keeping her affair going, she knows i know, but whenever i have asked her she just says “I won’t answer that”. She knows i know, why is she still lying?

    But the piece that really made me realize who she is, what she is was after i had been at a friend’s house with his wife. Before I went, she asked me if I was really going to see someone else, i said no. And when i got back, i was in a good mood for the first time in weeks, i had a lovely night just talking shit with my friend. She noticed.

    She again asked me if I was really at friends house, i seemed so happy! She looked suspicious. And then comes the great reveal. She starts talking about a coworker at her new job, she has mentioned him before but this time there are more details. She says she knew him from college(i knew this) but she added “And as you recall me saying, i had to kick him out of my dorm, he was so into me and wouldn’t leave even though I wasn’t interested” (I’ve never heard this before).

    She then continues to say how he today at lunch was super eager to talk to her even though she didn’t want to talk to him and goes “It was weird, he was on me like glue. He’s married with kids now but it’s like he’s still interested in me”.

    That was so funny and obvious. I had a good night, she thinks I’m seeing someone and she just had to tell me that story about someone who is mad about her.

    • DON’T ASK HER ANYTHING! Especially about what she’s doing with other people. You’ve already started taking your mighty steps, showing any interest in her life is the worst thing you can do to jeopardize progress. As long as it does not *directly* affect the well being of your children, what she’s doing is no longer any of your concern. This is a hard habit to break after being a devoted husband for so many years, but it’s the most important thing you can do to get on the path to a bighter day.

      • Excellent advice.
        I am hopeful that Nordic Chump can find the strength to make a new life for himself as soon as possible while supporting the children as best he is able.

    • Maybe she thinks you were seeing someone. If so, projection. If not, she’s still worried you might take the blinders off, and goes for the transparently obvious move of trying to make you jealous, so you’ll get back to dispensing her kibbles while dancing the pick-me dance.

      You don’t mention seeing a lawyer. If you haven’t, make that your next phone call. Because those discussions you’re having with your stbx are going to get a whole lot less “amicable” when she sees you’re serious.

      • Right, you can agree to whatever but until it’s on paper and signed, it doesn’t matter.

        I’m trying to convince my sister of the very same thing now. “But he said he only wants x amount, we agreed to it!” Sure he agrees, until someone informs him he owns half the value of your new house you just bought, because you failed to separate on paper and bought it with marital money.

        At least consult with a lawyer to see where you stand!

    • Yes, it feels like scale fell off our eyes. Now we seevthrough their game. It is so obvious once we are primed fot it! Next comes the re-evaluation of all past interactions, all conversations that fell weird then and are so obvious now. I started divorce proceedings two years ago, divorce was final 6 months ago, and I still have plenty of those “OoooooooooOh that was what is was” moments. Painful and a relief at the same time. Welcome to the chumps’ world (where nobody wantee to land)!

      • You’re so right. The number of things I pieced together years out from dday was staggering. Turns out she cheated before we even got engaged, but were living together. Kind of a kick in the teeth knowing I pissed away 12 years with her.

    • Wow. Is this middle school? I’ve been transported to the lunch table, period 4. How insensitive can she be to tell your husband (and others, I’m sure) that this co-worker is really “into” her? She gets a thrill from your pain. That alone is justification for divorce. And if you wobble, just remember that she also blame shifts, gaslights, and treats you like shit.

      Nordic, that reminds me: you should write down all the shitty things she’s done so you can refer to it in the future. She seems like the type who will try to hoover you back. Stay 💪!

      After you leave this woman-child and heal from the pain of infidelity, and if you’re so inclined to date again, find an adult of good character. In the end, your kids will thank you.

      Good luck.

      • Thank you Spinach@35 – I did this and it was a lifeline for me later.
        There were 8 weeks from when my ex said he was leaving me until the house sold and we were in new places. In that time i started a list on my phone titled, “All the things I will not miss.”
        For example, #25 is “I will not miss his lectures. He acts like an expert in everything and when I asked him how this is possible, he said he creates connections from everything else he knows, so he has more capacity. he is just so full of Bullshit!”
        I have 78 things on the list.

      • Chiming in here about the usefulness of writing things down that she has said or done. It’s all so overwhelming, retraining your brain to see that person for who they really are, and it’s easy to forget things. So I started my list. Handwritten, oldschool. This shitty thing he said, that shitty thing he did. When I would remember something, I would add to it. There was plenty of recent horrible things, but I began to remember things from years earlier. The list grew and grew to several pages. Whenever I got sad about the end of the marriage, or missed him, I’d take out the list and read it. I’d be astonished every time that my brain was capable of letting me forget horrible things. But there it was in my own handwriting, horrible things he had done over the years, because he is a horrible person. One day I didn’t need my list anymore. Because I stopped giving a shit. Nordic Chump, she sucks. Quit giving her all your power. Get a lawyer and get out of that crappy marriage. Some day, she won’t even be a thought in your mind

    • Nordic, why is she still lying? because she’s a liar. Don’t believe anything she says, ever.
      She’s lying about this guy at work who she claims is interested in her and “super eager to talk to her”
      Wishful thinking…
      If she didn’t wasn’t interested in this guy at work she wouldn’t have mentioned him.

      • Claiming this guy is interested in her and “super eager” to talk to her, I think she’s surprised that you’re handling everything so well. She hoped to see more pick me dancing.

    • My dude, stop engaging with her. Look up Chump Lady’s posts on “grey rock.” Be bored and boring. “Yeah, cool, wow.”

      You DON’T want to know her lie of the week, you’re NOT interested in her affairs (both real and made up in her delusional mind), and you definitely don’t want to give her ANY ammo she can use against you. You no longer have a wife but an enemy combattant. Treat her accordingly. She’s already fucked you over and will continue to do so every chance she gets. Don’t give her more bullets to perfect her aim.

      Put all your energy into strategizing with your lawyer – you have one, yes? Get on that.

      In the meantime, tell your wife nothing. Lips zipped.

      >She knows i know, why is she still lying?

      Because she can. Because she’s a liar. You’re trying to find logic in lunacy. This person is hurting you because she enjoys it, because she’s an abuser. She’s a horrible person who enjoys hurting you. You really don’t need to know more than that.

      You think you do, but you don’t. Not right now. Your monkey brain is trying to figure out where the woman you married disappeared to. Save those musings later for a therapist. Focus on protecting yourself and your kids. Get a lawyer like yesterday and prioritize your exit.

      Be prepared for her to use your one-night stand against you in court or with your social circle. It’s part of the disordered’s playbook to manufacture drama and deny their own responsibility. Don’t get sidetracked by it and don’t waste your time defending yourself against her accusations (real or imagined). Trust me. You don’t owe anyone explanations.

      • Can, I appreciate this: ‘You’re trying to find logic in lunacy. This person is hurting you because she enjoys it, because she’s an abuser’.

        It took me a long time to accept that the ex smirked when he was being unkind because he enjoyed my pain. That he wanted to see me cry. That it made him feel powerful. I waver every now and then. But I do know that I was abused.

      • About a week after D-day, she shared an instagram post with me asking “This you?”. It was a local news article that the police had gotten a call about someone crying in a park. Upon further inspection the article said, the police found out it was just a man that had experienced heartbreak, and told him to go home. It was a funny article, if you know, i hadn´t had my heart crushed into pieces a week before that.

    • Nordic, it’s plain as day what’s going on. I saw this very thing with someone I know recently.

      You are plan B, and you won’t remain plan B if you start seeing someone. It’s very unlikely Mr online is going to turn into anything beyond pictures and possibly cheap fucks. Unlikely he’d actually want her full time, so she needs you to remain available while she explores options.

      The trash I know was fucking around on her hb but still had thw nerve to make comments like “if I decide to go back”, as if it was his job to wait for her. He started seeing someone and she went ballistic.

      My ex also demanded to know if I was cheating on him….after I told him I wanted a divorce (he’d had an ex gf around our entire 13 years together).

      Don’t engage her at all. Repeat that it’s none of her business.

    • My take on this is that since you informed her of your ONS, she believes that you now essentially accept and agree with her view that your marriage is all about cake. In her mind, she can do her thing, you can do yours, and then you can talk about each of your exploits together in the comfort of your sham marriage. In other words, all the ‘fun’ for both of you without consequence.

      Stop talking to her unless necessary to discuss logistics for your children or household. Don’t ask her about what she’s doing. Anything she asks you about should be answered with one word. Her: “Where are you going?”, You: “Out”. Her: “Who are you going out with?”, You: “People”

    • P.S.

      >gotten realtors to look at and valuate the house, discussed custody agreements, discussed financials. All of this was initiated by me.

      Are you discussing these things with your wife? I cannot emphasize this enough: Get a lawyer so you ensure you and your kids get out safely and promptly, and that you all get what you’re entitled to in the divorce.

      Do NOT trust your wife to be honest or fair. She wasn’t in the marriage, so why would she be in the divorce? You need your own advocate.

      • Agree. Do not, do not, do not discuss these things with the person who betrayed you. Discuss with a lawyer.

    • From one Nordic to another: stop talking to her about anything. Have you hired a lawyer yet? If not, make that priority one today.
      Your brain is awash in fight or flight chemicals. You aren’t thinking straight— this is major trauma and normal. It’s going to take time to heal and it starts with finalizing the divorce so there’s no time to waste.

      I’m very sorry you are married to a cheater who sounds like all the others. Get free.

    • Please, please, please get a lawyer immediately. Do not discuss anything divorce or separation related with her unless it’s through lawyers. Get copies of everything financial, and expect her to hide, oops, I mean “forget” about assets she owns.

    • My FW straight up told me he was divorcing me because he was still in love with the OW and was going to start dating her again “if it was still possible.” He 1) never did file for that divorce and 2) pretended he wasn’t actually seeing her after he moved out. My best guess for the #2 is that being “mysterious” about what they’re actually doing keeps you engaged. Like others have already said don’t take any interest in her life. Cheaters love being at the center of everything and nothing hurts them more than just being someone that you used to know.

    • She won’t answer questions about her ongoing affair because she is lying and minimizing. Many of us here experienced the same. She keeps you in the loop of hope by acting vague. Cheaters love keeping chumps in the dark as this makes them feel high and powerful. These people love centrality. Her talk about the married coworker, and all the details she gives you, is just about centrality. She wants your attention, she wants you to play pick me dance, she gets kibbles from your reactions. Do not spend one minute of your attention on her stories. Cheaters hate it if you don’t pay attention to them.
      Please go no contact as soon as you can. Communication should be only about kids.

    • “He’s married with kids now but it’s like he’s still interested in me”….. not only is that SO manipulative and hurtful to you, but your cheating liar wife is about to blow up another guys marriage/family without a thought, because she gets some attention kibbles. Good God, the damages are going to start piling up man. Get her/you out of there asap, don’t tell her anything you’re doing, play your cards close to the vest with your lawyer (get one NOW!) and serve her with a prepared agreement that works for you. I’m so sorry your’e going through this but glad you found the wisdom of CL & CN. Think of the long game and what’s best for your children. Oh, and by the way, they probably do indeed know something’s up, despite your spouses games. Kids are smarter than more intuitive than you think.

    • Great job getting everything together to set your new life in place! Getting to the point where you could care less what’s happening in their life takes awhile but you’re on your way!

  • Also, do not spend your time or money fixing ANYTHING in the house. Because in the divorce, she might get the house or you might sell it. Figure out who the house will belong to, settle it legally. Then the owner (you, her or someone else) can pay to fix the AC.

    Don’t go on vacation with her. You can take the kids on vacation and tell them about the divorce. Start your new life as a single dad with your kids out with a vacay.

    Or sell your passes to pay for your lawyer. Or exchange the passes for something else you want from her in the divorce agreement.

    Don’t give her anything else.

  • As you are discovering, there are a lot of logistical issues to deal with when ending a marriage, particularly one with kids and property. It takes time and energy to figure them out, and she may be inclined to let you do the difficult work. And/or her affair partner may be in a similarly sticky situation, so they may need to coordinate their next moves. All of this takes time and effort; plus, since she’s happy with the current situation (she’s still seeing the affair partner, but has full access to your house and kid whenever she wants), there’s little incentive for her to push to hasten things. All of this is to say: just because she’s not pushing the divorce forward does not mean she isn’t done with the marriage. Just because she’s acting friendly doesn’t mean she’s on your team. This could go on for months, or she could just announce one day that she’s leaving. I think people read a lot of nefarious intent into situations like this, but IMO she’s probably just happy to be having an affair, doesn’t care one iota about how it affects you or the kids, and can’t be bothered to put much effort into ending the marriage.

    • True! No doubt she’s really into CAKE. Tricking her husband is so much fun. If he dances, all the better!

      Don’t trust her. She could be squirreling away documents and $$ while pretending (cheaters excel at this) that you and she have a future together. FWs can multitask; they can serve sweet tea with one hand while sharpening a knife with the other.

      Bottom line: lawyer up to protect yourself and those kids.

      Good luck.

      • “FWs can multitask; they can serve sweet tea with one hand while sharpening a knife with the other.”

        That’s really good Spinach. And *so* true. 👿

  • I feel like I’ve been exactly in your shoes minus your ONS. (Don’t beat yourself up. You learned.) The “we” talk is nothing but a carrot meant to confuse. Regarding your FW, in your silence you will find your strength.

  • This site has helped so much. Reading how a cheater works and who they are, it was like reading a description of my wife. The constant need for attention, the low self esteem. Golden nuggets from our talks before i opened my eyes to who she actually is, said by her:

    * You used to tell my and your friends how amazing i was and how lucky you were to have me
    * You know i need constant attention and affection, you didn’t give me that.
    * You only give me compliments when i dress Up
    *You didn’t support me when i mentioned i was scared of turning forty
    * I’ve been thinking about this for a while, would it really have been any different if we just divorced?(Instead of her cheating and divorcing). You’d be just as sad then.
    * I am sorry I hurt you
    * I love you but I’m not in love with you
    * I haven’t been happy for a while

    I’ve also looked back at lur relationship in a new light, and i see the small acts of selfishness and entitlement that’s always been there. Small things like never doing things like getting me a cup of coffee when she puts on a pot, she says her back is tight and i give her a backrub, if i say the same she does nothing. She goes out and sleeps late i take the kids, make her breakfast etc and let her sleep in. I go out late she gets made for sleeping late and leaving her to handle everything.

    Just a lot of these tiny things that just shows that for years it’s been all about her. If her needs are met, things are great. My needs were never even considered.

    • Yup. Same here, each and every bullet point except the one about turning 40. Amazing what happens when see things for what they actually are, rather than what you think they are.

      If nothing else, take this away with you: She’s not special. The playbook is essentially the same, only the minute details are different. All the more reason to keep coming back to this site, the validation is freeing.

      And, think about how fortunate you are to not have to feed that goalpost-shifting bottomless pit of need and insecurity any longer.

    • Sadly, you’re not alone and this reflection period is common amongst all us chumps. I think we all looked back at one point and realized our exes were always selfish, entitled assholes. We just didn’t see it at the time and projected our own values onto them. “Oh, they don’t mean it! Of course they’d do the same for me!” Nope.

      It’s a shock, I know. For me, the shock eventually gave away to relief and gratitude because I realized I didn’t cause the abuse, I was never the problem, the other party sucked and always sucked.

    • There are a lot of gorgeous wonderful honest women who will get great pleasure from bringing you coffee and rubbing your back . . . Those types will not come into your life until she is your ex-wife and you’ve spent awhile in the aftermath regaining your sense of self (that’s why no contact is key — as long as you are focused on her and not you the healing is delayed). Your future is waiting and it’s wonderful. We call it Meh. You control how quickly you get there. Divorce finalized, property transferred, become skilled at no-contact/grey rock…. Then you’ll start feeling well. Like you maybe never have in your life.

    • “I’ve been thinking about this for a while, would it really have been any different if we just divorced?(Instead of her cheating and divorcing). You’d be just as sad then.”

      Twisting herself into a pretzel to justify her affair must really hurt. #poorher 🥨

      In similar fashion, x spewed the same type of ends-justify-the-means BS. “I did you a favor. You would have stayed with me forever.”

      But, when he thought that that justification didn’t stick to the fridge, he tried this: “If it had been a two-week affair or a two-year affair, it wouldn’t have mattered. You never would have forgiven me.” [Note: it was almost 3 years. But who’s counting?] Bottom line: MY fault! (And this is how he can look at himself in the mirror).

      In retrospect, the liar inadvertently told the truth. Indeed I would have stayed with him til death did us part. He *did* do me a favor, in the way that a drunk driver who sends someone to the hospital with a body of broken bones does that person a favor because the x-rays–that otherwise would not have been taken–reveal early-stage cancer that left untreated would have metastasized. #🥨.

      • Great analogy, Spinach!
        I was just thinking this morning that although I never want to see or hear of my ex again, and hate what he put me through, I am actually so happy now that I’m almost glad he did what he did, so I could break free.

        • My life is 1000% better without a selfish, lying, porn-obsessed FW in it and I am absolutely glad he did what he did so I am free! Otherwise, I would have stayed the proverbial frog in the pot as the water got ever hotter.

        • This is a tough concept to explain to non-chumps, and it took me a minute to arrive at the point where I’m oddly grateful that my life exploded.

          Sometimes I, too, have the same urge to thank the FW because I am also happier now. But, omg, the pain. In fact, I marvel at my ability to feel extreme pain and gratitude at the same time about the same event (or series of events). It’s hard to explain, especially to non-chumps, so I don’t bother.

          Bottom line: I’m so glad for this community of like-minded chumps who GET IT!

          • “Omg the pain” I am at 11 months post DDay and 2 weeks from divorce and the pain is still intense but a little better thanks to everyone here.
            Being chumped among other things does distort one’s veiw of the world. You can no longer look at things with innocence because you have seen what is behind the curtain and have experienced how bad people can be. You can’t unsee it. While I hope in the future to trust another I believe it will not be unconditional.

          • I feel exactly the same Spinach. Rage that he put me through hell. Grateful that I was suddenly and unceremoniously thrust into the flames, because it meant I felt the pain and realized how batshit insane he was. I never would have left without that “backhand across the face, brand you with hellfire and plunge you in an ice bath” experience. As it stands, it still took me a year and a half living away from him before I actually realized that the emotional abuse began LONG before the felonies.

      • Spinach good one with the drunk driver analogy. It really does happen. I had a patient who broke his spine in an MVA and we picked up a colon cancer on the scans. A week after I operated on his spine he received a colon resection. Caught it early and he did well

    • Nordic, FYI….the site I found that led me here is

      http://www.infidelityhelpgroup.com

      Another excellent place to go for a daily dose of grounding, denial breaking, and reality.

      You’ve been conned and brainwashed and abused. Your wife is Bernie Madoff, OJ Simpson, and Benedict Arnold all rolled into one. Job One for me every day is to do some reading for deprogramming. The weeds of insanity grow back overnight, and here in the beginning of Year Five (DDay was OCT 2017), I still need to weed-whack and reality check first thing in the morning. My mind and heart need a daily shower of truth and reality. This is the necessary foundation that all my other actions are predicated on. Like you, and many other chumps here, having a child with a cheater means ongoing interactions and my dilithium crystals need recharging often so that my force field remains strong. (Yes, I am a fan of the original Star Trek. Captain Kirk was a supreme foil for mindfuckers, BTW. Cheaters are mindfuckers and the war with cheaters is won in the mind).

      When I feel weak I come here and read.

      I trusted someone who did not warrant that trust. He is an expert liar and there is no shame on my part for having believed him any more that I should feel shame for any other violence or violation done against me.

      Cheaters will seize on the most microscopic transgression, real or imagined, to use against you to justify and rationalize their actions. Stay on the high road at all costs. They don’t travel there and as long as you do they can’t touch you. Stooping to their level ONLY means kibbles for them. They are desperate to prove you are a jerk who deserved what they did and left them no choice.

      Look at this, CLOSELY:

      “I enjoy her company and talking to her”

      ?!!

      I don’t know what on earth that could mean in light of everything else you shared, but I’d quit sending mixed messages right now.

      Get a good therapist for yourself, for your children. One who espouses Chump Lady’s philosophy about cheating. Keep trusted friends close. Stay away from anybody who thinks “it takes two to tango” or otherwise implies victims are to blame.

      Don’t look to anyone else to love and care for you. Practice that for yourself, for your children, from YOU. Looking for that from her is like going to the butcher shop for bread. NOPE.

      It took me a LONG time to realize I did not have a marriage; I had a MIRAGE, and he was NOT the person I thought he was, and what/who I loved was the STORY I wrote about him, that HE IS NOT that person, that NO ONE gets that person because he only existed in my mind.

      It does get better, but only by staying on the right path and staying out of the Fire Swamp and staying away from the Cliffs of Insanity!

      • I can’t remember if I found CL through IHG but I do remember that was the first site that got me out of my “maybe I can reason my husband back to me” delusions. Wholly recommend.

      • Thank you again VH. Your roadmap for getting to sanity is now saved in my CL-CN notes-for reference on short notice-when I need a dose of reality checking. I love the concept of the weeds growing back, (the dregs of hopium trying to get a hold again). And the weed/whacking work ( it takes a power tool )
        to fight back against the tendency /compulsion, to hope for a different outcome.
        It’s work, maintenance, energy, investment, in moving forward towards being FW free.

    • Im so sorry you’re going through it. Im so sorry she didn’t value you and love you back. You’re a proper, real, kind person who knows how to love and give. Wishing you all strength to get through. Keep going. You’re doing brilliantly.

    • I love it when a Brother in arms gets submitted to CN for the sole reason of helping another man who has been injured and abused. I’m not afraid to share my experience, strength and hope. As men we’re conditioned to “take the pain” and not cry. I call Bullshit on that. Real men cry. Real men commit or die trying but You my man need all the 2×4’s you can get to shock you back into reality. Take them with Love knowing that we swing them with love so you don’t die sucking on the hopium pipe.

      Nordic. Give her nothing Nordic…No money, nor explanation, nor compassion, nor dick 🍆😎. Some courts consider further sexual intercourse as you granting forgiveness and acceptance. Biblically you have been granted a divorce when she fell on this assholes prick. WILLINGLY I MIGHT ADD. Did she say, “Oh! Nothing happened! I swear!! It’s just emotional!”

      She already gave you a text book example of DARVO when you wrote her response above,…
      “Oh that makes me sad” (bing..Self pity channel)
      and I ask her.. why?
      You ended the marriage last night, you were very clear. (bing. She just reversed the victim/offender roles on you).
      “Yes, but I hoped it wasn’t truly over”.(bing. Charm channel) now dance.

      See how DARVO works? DENY, ATTACK, REVERSE VITCIM OFFENDER roles. Cheaters and alcoholics are damn good at it too. Ask me how I know!
      Detecting this pattern takes practice but once you’re practiced at it you’ll be able to respond appropriately. See a good therapist for more insight on DARVO response countermeasures. And also about your revenge ONS. YES YOU FUCKED UP NORDIC. Lesson learned. Chin up. Forward March! Hurt animals bite sometimes and Betrayal FUCKIN HURTS!

      Become a fast learner by getting Tracy’s audio CD and absorbing every word of it. I listened to this more times than I can remember and kept a notebook of notes. Repetitive listening helped me with my mental, physical and spiritual escape from the black eyed, soulless demon that revealed itself to me as “my wife”.

      If you have a son be reminded that he will model your actions in his future because that’s what Dad did.

      Loose lips Sink ships. WE does not exist in your vocabulary. Go stealth and take covert action. Lawyers charge in 8 min intervals. They are not your counselor or therapist. Ideally you’ll find a cheated on female lawyer who knows your pain and is good at defending you when you don’t have a clue what to do or look out for. I was a single dad in AA recovery ( 21 June 1994 sobriety date ) after divorcing my first practicing alcoholic wife. I married again~ to a covert narcissist cheater which led me here. After 13 years I had my D day. That rabbit hole went deeper than the Guinness world record Soviet borehole (8 miles deep btw). A ton of mental skein untangling, sleepless nights watching her Facebook messenger activity and general self induced mental torture on hoping she’d repent and come home to me…. Crying, grovelling, snotty, begging, contrite & hysterical for her betrayal… Ain’t happening Boss.

      That was 2017. Nordic, you’re going to become a different man than the one you were before. Infidelity kills. Yourself, your kids, your relationships and friend circles
      Your future…if you let it.

      We’re told in the Big book of AA that if a new prospect comes into our midst and doesn’t want to work the steps to sobriety that we’re to turn them over to God’s care and move onto the sick alcoholic that will. It’s kinda the same here.

      Free yourself from this woman, get custody of your children and show them what a man of character and integrity looks like. Any man can be a father but not every man can be a DAD.
      “Raise up a child in the way (he/she) should go and they will not depart from it.”Move onto YOUR brighter future and you may be surprised to find yourself with a better woman that will know what love really is and become a true wife. They’re out there. Find them..

      • Nordic (Warrior) CHUMP,
        Do you like Chris Cornell,?… Audioslave?
        Have a listen to the song WHAT YOU ARE. I made that my theme song for action.
        The Steel Drivers LONG WAY DOWN or ASHES of YESTERDAY are good ones too. Bluegrass in general lifts my soul. I hope you do too.

      • Birthday coming, Marcus. Congratulations from 8/15/86.
        I hope every birthday you feel better and better.

        • Thanks Velvet. Geez!, soon, next election if we get that far- it’ll be 3 decades, a day at a time outfitting myself to be of maximum service to HP and my fellow man. TY Father for my daily reprieves, thy will not mine be done. Maranatha Adonai.

      • Congrats on the sobriety, Marcus!!

        Also, I second this: “Become a fast learner by getting Tracy’s audio CD and absorbing every word of it. I listened to this more times than I can remember and kept a notebook of notes. Repetitive listening helped me with my mental, physical and spiritual escape from the black eyed, soulless demon that revealed itself to me as ‘my wife’.”

        I’d like to second the plug for the audio version. Mine would be dog-eared if there were such a thing. There’s something about listening to the book over and over and over again while doing other activities that really helped me.

        Good luck, Nordic.

        And thanks again, CL

        • Thanks Spinach. I just wish Tracy would do a V2.0 in her voice, the professional narrator just didn’t quite get Tracy’s Snark nailed. We ❤️ Your snark Mademoiselle Schoenberg! 😎❤️

  • I can pretty much guarantee that she is acting that way because she doesn’t think you are serious about divorce. My ex was the same. He would give some lip-service to vague apologies, or he would ramble about how he felt distant from me and that he wanted to explore other options (after two decades of marriage), but then he’d just go back to acting normal, and he would be surprised to find that I was still upset about it. I still remember a conversation in which I brought up his infidelity and he said, “Are you still going on about that? Why do you keep holding on to things in the past?” I said, “That was two weeks ago.” He said, “Yes… two weeks IN THE PAST.”

    So why is she acting like everything is fine? Because in her mind, everything is fine. Yeah, you caught her, you said some things, blah blah blah… whatever. You took her back before, and she is sure you will again. In her mind, none of this is so bad that you are really going to divorce her. And now she has the convenience of blaming her cheating on your ONS. I guarantee you that she will do this again, and her reason next time will be, “I was so hurt over your ONS that I just felt like I had to do this.”

    It never ends with these assholes.

    • Mine informed me that he didn’t “have to listen to this” when I brought it up ONE WEEK after finding out he’d had his ex around our entire 13 years.

      I was told that I just wanted to be miserable and he’d already apologized (half assed in between denying it) so what more did I want?

      Yep… he got me there. That’s exactly what I wanted and he was the victim of my insidious plot to be miserable.
      🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

      Threatened me with divorce but when I went through with it he cried and begged.

  • The ex moved out to a hotel, moved back in while I went away with friends to get my head round why I had been told that the 26 year marriage was over, then moved out again once he had found an AirBnB which he had failed to do during the 10 years allegedly leading up to his desire to leave because he was ‘so unhappy’. I later discovered that he had been in a long distance long affair with his ex school girlfriend. While he was back in the marital home, he acted entirely normally for him, like we were still married (sex was non-existent so no change there). He laughed, he joked, he was happy. While I was dying! It’s what they do. It’s in the script.

    Get shot of her as quickly as possible and recover later. The only behaviour you can change is your own.

    • https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/may/22/ask-philippa-perry-my-lost-love-has-contacted-me-but-my-wife-is-dismayed

      For those of us who were dumped for the ex ‘long lost love’. I’ve always said that it’s a special kind of hell. For once the advice is robust and the comments BTL are supportive of the wife. I would like to see what the UBT makes of the poor sad sausage pining yearning husband. He is very sadz and he does not understand his unreasonable wife.

      • There’s also the Daily Mail for the interview with the Ukrainian refugee who ran off with the husband of the couple who took her in who objects to being described as a homewrecker.

      • What is with these FWs and their “long lost loves”?! Mine cheated with an ex-fiancé from many years ago; their engagement ended when she came out of a 30 day involuntary stay in the psych ward, with a new “boyfriend” she met there. Who in their right mind would want to relive that? Though I guess since they’re both mentally disordered, could be a perfect match!

      • Back in the early days of my divorce, my sister told me about some celebrity couple where the husband had divorced his wife of 20 years to go back to his girlfriend before her and wasn’t that romantic? I was like how the fuck is that romantic? So his wife had 20 years of her life wasted and was some sort of fucking consolation prize when he was supposed to be with some other fucking bitch who didn’t birth and raise his children and go through all the hard times? Some fun time slut who noped out of there when things got real but wants to show up for retirement and to play fake grandma to another woman’s grandchildren? How the fuck is that romantic? That’s disgusting. Why did he waste some other woman’s life if he was so in love with the bitch who didn’t even want him 20 years ago?!

        Ooh, I’m so bitter. Ooh, that’s such a dark way to look at it. WTF ever. It’s bad enough when someone throws away a partner for a new person but to throw them away and be like LOL yeah, I was in love with somebody else the whole time! I was just using you as fuck meat and a spouse appliance! LOL!

        Fucking disgusting. Shit like this reminds me why I don’t miss my sister. I mean, what a fucked up “romantic love story” to attempt to sell to your sister who just had her marriage and whole life implode anyways. Fuck her.

  • I was lucky to find ChumpLady shortly after D Day.

    Do you want anything from the store?
    Calmly, ‘I don’t want anything from you as long as I live.’

    Comes to me for advice because his first wife is threatening to take full custody over his lack of morals.
    Calmly, ‘You want me to help you avoid consequences of cheating on me? You fired me from being a wife. Ask Schmoopie.’

    Can you scan and email my apartment application?
    No

    Can your son help me move? No one but Schmoopie can and you won’t let her in your house.

    Henry: Dude I am NOT helping you cheat on my Mom. Are you insane?

    Felt good.

      • OMG I almost forgot the best cake eating thing he did.

        I stopped cooking for him. I made food for everyone else. He loved my cooking.

        I made a crockpot of White Chicken Chili while I was repairing the floor in the master bath. He refused to help because ‘I am spiritually with Schmoopie now and moving out next week’

        But he helped himself to Chili and Biscuits and blurted, ‘Darling, this is DELICIOUS’!

        ‘Enjoy that. Not your Darling and it’s the last thing you’ll ever have that I’ve cooked.’

        • Share with us that white chili recipe. I love white 🌶 or brown or black bean… anything chili 🌶!,

        • Ugh, they’re all so similar. I was still cooking dinner every night after d day before I could get him out because our son lived with us and it was habit and I was kind of clinging to sanity so routine helped.

          One night he sits down at the table with a big grin on his face and announces “I just have to say, it sure is great to still be served dinner every night!” And sat there eating happily while I stared at my food and my son had this wtf look on his face.

          Last damn dinner I cooked until I got him the fuck out. That was one of the things that pissed me off enough to push me out of shock and ask the lawyer exactly how much I could take him for. He cost himself a lot of money with his bullshit. LOL If he’d just been decent I wouldn’t even have pursued alimony. Instead I got it for ten years.

  • Listen to CL’s advice to “let her babble we-we-we-we… all the way home.” Consider every “we” comment as something she wants to get from you. Book the vacation trip? She may be planning to take over the reservations with her AP. Get home problems fixed, clear the basement? Work she can get out of you to take over the house and/or sell it. Going over financials and custody arrangements together? A chance for her to find your weak spots and what she wants to take.
    Many cheaters leave filing for divorce to the chumps. Consider yourself lucky if you can take the initiative.
    I filed because my ex became violent when I discovered he was giving thousands of dollars to an online AP, and my attorney said filing was the only way to protect my assets.
    It also did wonders for my self-image and my public image.
    Unknow to me, my ex sought out all our friends and claimed I was insanely jealous because he was giving an online colleague financial advice, instead of admitting I discovered he fell for an online romance scam and sent thousands of dollars to a “hot babe” scammer at a hook-up site. Later, my child’s therapist made a comment that made me realize that Cheater was telling people that HE was divorcing ME; when I corrected that story, the therapist’s expression immediately changed from pity to respect.
    Cheater can never change the fact that I divorced him, and it rankles him. And it makes me feel great.
    Your ONS was how you tried to take back your agency, and it didn’t feel good. Filing is a better way to regain your self-determination and control.

    • Love those, “The rest of the story” moments.
      In our divorce settlement I bought her out of our house. She went first to title company to sign the quit claim and other documents. When it was my turn it was apparent that she had spun quite a story of being victimized and forced to sell the house. I think the office was concerned that I had bullied her into doing this and I got 20 questions. It was actually amusing. When I told the agent that she had been cheating, I had a DV restraining order on her and that we both had attorneys to settle the divorce the attitude changed. The agent said, “I hate cheaters. My EX cheated on me too!” Suddenly we were foxhole compatriots. She gave me her card as I left.

      • I love your honesty. I too, tell people. They get it straight away. This technique has worked for me many times. For instance, my insurance company, in spite of me paying the policy myself for two years, said they would need his permission to get his name off of it. I explained a bit about what my ex-asshat did, and voila! His name disappeared from the policy, just like that.

    • I would still book the vacation, not let her know and then go by myself with the children …

  • My ex did this! Said horrible things to me, never loved me, wanted a divorce, fantasized about murdering me, etc. But then proceeded to act like nothing had happened, attempted to small talk me, refused to move out, and was shocked when I called a lawyer and filed for divorce. It was such a mind fuck. He’d say “sorry for wasting your youth” with a a sneer and bark laughter in my face and then a little while later he’d be asking what I wanted to do for dinner or try to tell me a story about something that happened at work.

    Your wife is a psycho, like my ex. I recommend getting the hell away from her as fast as possible and go as close to no contact as possible. Something is very wrong with people who act like this.

    • It’s been 10 years and on the rare occasions I run into my ex, he STILL acts like we’re old friends and whines to people that he can’t understand why I don’t like him, that he did nothing wrong.

      These people are insane and can’t be reasoned with. Nordic Chump, don’t even try. You will never win any argument with your ex because these people cheat in discussions as much as they do in relationships.

      • I’m only two years out but mine was doing the same. I ended up cutting off pretty much everyone we both knew because I was hearing, “He has no idea why you’re upset! You wanted the divorce! He just gave you what you wanted!”

        Right… I wanted my life threatened and to waste twenty years in a fake marriage and get cheated on our entire relationship. Totally everything I dreamt of as a little girl! That’s a big part of why I cut off all mutual friends. I was sick of people buying his victim bullshit and then coming at me like I wasn’t there and didn’t really know how it all went down.

      • Thank you Cam.
        Cheated in discussions as much as in every thing else.
        Brilliant. Underlines the futility of my endless quest to say it right, explain it better, be more logical, compelling, clear.
        Never gained 1 inch of agreement, validation or empathy in any discussion. Because he cheated in discussions -constantly making it seem that I had not made any sense.
        I was cheated again and again.
        This explains so much of my exhaustion and misery at not “being understood”. He probably understood every word- but had he acknowledged that it would have proven him a liar and a cheat.

  • She will attempt to use that ONS to make you look like the one that broke your marriage up, don’t listen to anything that comes out of her mouth.
    They create narratives to make themselves look like innocent victims. Why, they just want to be friends, it’s shocking to them that you wouldn’t want that too.
    Why do YOU want to destroy any goodness your family had together by putting up a hostile wall? It’s you that is making life so difficult, not the fact that she nuked your family, that’s so last week in her mind.
    If not the ONS, she would have dreamed up some other fictitious shortcoming of yours and go out and sell that to the world so she stays sparkly and pure. They must maintain their good facade, too a long time to create that.
    Oh, let’s just let bygones be bygones she’ll say, we should just live and let live and just forgive one another. ( cake and more cake)
    We can stay friends, it’s just that YOU won’t allow that, you are hurting our kids! ( so she can triangulate, gaslight and manipulate you forever more, no thanks to that)
    The only bygone story you should have is to tell her “bye”, cause she needs to be so gone from your life. She’s no good.
    Your mind will not able to make sense of who she has become and it’s about to get a whole lot more bizarre with a divorce underway. Hold steady, you are not the crazy one and you will get through it.
    Keep reminding yourself frequently, she is NOT your friend and does not have your best interest in mind.
    Tell her nothing, don’t share with her how broken you feel either. ( kibbles of delight)
    You are divorcing someone that should be seen as the enemy, trust nothing about her, even if you get to see little glimpses of the woman you loved, she’s not in there, it’s just a ruse she creates.
    Trust that she sucks and look out for you and your kids. She checked out of the family a long time ago.
    You don’t need her to destroy your good life anymore.

  • This happened to my brother. He asked what was the matter and she said she was leaving and did. In the blink of an eye. What happened to this mild mannered, loving man and his very young children was like a grenade going of. He was heartbroken and his kids nearly destroyed. I saw the devastation and I hope I never witness anything like that again. What got him going was rage. He got full custody of his kids, dated to prove he was ok and then when he had healed himself found another woman, married her and had more children.
    What is going to happen to you is a day when you are done asking why because your anger is going to get you out of hoping, thinking, dreaming and then you will move on.
    It will not matter to you if she has issues from childhood. What will not matter anymore what she is doing. You won’t care. That is when you look around and it is Tuesday and you are just “meh” about her.

  • “I never loved you”, “I’ve been unhappy for years” = “I’ve been an expert liar and a fraud for years”, “I am untrustworthy”, “You can’t believe anything I say.”

    And no one else can. They lie to EVERYONE.

    Pay attention to the SUBTITLES and ignore the noise coming out of their mouths.

    You didn’t realize they were phony and full of shit. The affair partners have the playbook in their hands and intentionally pick the loser player for their team. Not very bright IMHO.

    Personally I’d rather have a first draft pick than the dregs.

    • “The affair partners have the playbook in their hands and intentionally pick the loser player for their team.”

      Ain’t that the truth! But but but…they’re special, Velvet. The cheater would NEVER use those plays on them.

      In my case, both FW and AP cheated on their spouses. They co-authored the playbook. And yet…they just promised to love, honor, and cherish til death does them part.

      Boggles the mind–like trusting the guy who helped you rob a bank with the PIN to your checking account.

      • Spinach, I know you know old sayings become old because they are true.

        Ye Olde “when someone shows you who they are, believe them” is never more true than with cheaters and those who knowingly fuck around with them. They are walking red flags.

        Deals with the devil are always a bad idea; he always gets paid. There’s
        not harder and more glaring evidence that one lacks relationship skills and the ability to love than being a party in an illicit relationship. Let the fools ignore the facts at their own peril. I want to get away from bullshit and follow winners to happy joyous freedom, where trust, safety, security, and peace of mind are the coins of a realm that cheaters can never enter.

  • These kinds of stories always resonate for me. After my final d-day where Mr. Sparkles rented a nearby house (four blocks away) and moved out, I picked me dance for over a year. When he wasn’t with the OW (she had kids), he was with me and our son and my stepkids. Weekend movie dates, dinner most weeknights at my house, I even had them all on our first Christmas a part… I was doing the pick me dance marathon. And then I found CL and CN.

    2×4 to the head immediately as I began reading the archives… if he wanted out so badly, why wasn’t he filing? He had found his new ‘twu wuv (though he would say things like “wouldn’t it be romantic if we remarried after we divorced?”)… but after a year, he still hadn’t filed. Why would he? He had a cake buffet, typical (I armchair diagnosis believe) of a person with deep narcissistic personality disorder, why would he change it?

    So I filed pro se. He ignored it.

    Then I filed with an attorney, he lost his shit. He showed up to court pro se, lost the first decision and then delayed us further by hiring an attorney.

    All in, it took 27 months to divorce my fuckwit in a no-fault state where I had an upheld pre-nup.

    And, all the while, what was the OW thinking? She later told me (as part of an apology) that she didn’t know he never filed. She assumed when he told her he was “available to date” that he was on his way… of course, she offered no comment about why she thought he couldn’t seem to get the divorce over the finish line.

    Take back your power Chumps, get your ducks in a row… interview attorneys and find the right one… file first.

    • Also wanted to add since Nordic mentions a ONS… as Mr. Sparkles was telling me he was moving out, I said to him “How will you feel when I start dating and seeing other men, won’t it bother you?”… he shrugged and said, “I guess we’ll find out.” #sociopath

      Be brave Chumps… know your worth. And, to keep it age appropriate for my son when his Dad and stepsiblings were moving out, I told him “Daddy got a girlfriend and married people don’t do that so he has to move out.” Because my X wanted to image manage the hell of the truth “we grew apart”… and I said “hell no, you have more personal ads online than a commercial fishing boat has nets.”

      • This is one of the difficulties with FWs who cheat with exes. They believe that all options remain open to them, because in their experience they do. You split up, you get back together. The ex and his exgfOW broke up twice before I met him. Now they are soulmates. Until they cease to be soulmates for the third time. Or perhaps they’ve already broken up and got back together for the 4th time or 5th time(NC for well over two years). It’s so toxic to be involved with someone with this dynamic. I wish I’d known that back in the early 90s when I met him. It reveals a dangerously casual, entitled, and reckless approach to emotions. It isn’t in the least bit romantic. Oh how I wish the wider world understood that.

  • Yes, what does it even mean? That really messed with me.

    My ex used the threat of divorce for fifteen years to keep me in “my place.” And everything that wasn’t working in the family was my fault. Didn’t feel like sex after being up all night with a kid, my fault. Sullen teenagers, my fault. Frustrated with his drug use/porn habit, my fault. Can’t deal with his diagnosed mental health issues, my fault. Sure, I had issues myself, he was chipping away at the foundation of the marriage. I was so messed up mentally that I hardly knew which way was up.

    When I asked for a separation the second time, he took off. A year later, I saw no path forward with him and said no getting back together. He proposed a cringy way of reconciling over a weekend that my therapist and later my divorce attorney said was just crazy and concerning. My ex was somehow shocked and upset that I felt that it was over. Then he flipped it into a high conflict divorce mess that both attorneys said was entirely unnecessary. Ultimately his attorney figuratively threw him to the curb to get it settled.

    Several years post-divorce, my brain works again. I set boundaries with people and have healthy friendships. I haven’t seen him face to face in years, and he lives far away. Thankfully, there was nothing in the divorce agreement that required ongoing contact. Had to be.

  • First, start getting your ducks in a row. Now, what you would PREFER is not to be married to a selfish cheater. So that’s out of the question. But once you admit that you are going to divorce, what sort of life do you want? Ideally, where would you live and how would you manage life with the kids? How can you minimize contact with her until the lawyer gives you the OK to move? Start envisioning a life without this person.

    Then, make appointments with the 3 best divorce lawyers in your area and get their take on what’s going on. My guess is that your wife is perfectly happy staying married; the divorce talk was just testing the waters to see where she stands with you. Having a husband appliance with an income is always handy. Don’t expect her to file. In fact, it might play havoc with her affair partner if she did file. He may be married to a perfectly good wife appliance. When you see the attorney, be prepared for a lot of “worse case scenarios.” The lawyer told me my XH would get alimony and I would lost my pension. But nope, that’s not what happened.

    Secure all your valuable papers. Have copies or PDFs of taxes, mortgage, insurance, bank accounts, investments, etc. Secure any heirlooms from your side of the family.

    And finally, tell the people who love you what’s going on. Your parents, your friends, your siblings, your cousins–whoever loves you and is trustworthy to be in your corner. It will help immensely not to keep her behavior a secret.

    • LAJ,

      This is good advice, but I’d add the following to your list of documents. Secure the originals (if you can) and at the least scans of: your passport and your kids’ passports; your birth certificate and those of your children; your marriage certificate; your will and; house deeds/title. I’d also think about securing any professional documentation (eg qualifications etc).

      If I think of anything else, I’d add it in later.

      LFTT

  • The status quo works for her. She gets attention from sexting some guy. She gets vacation and house repairs and the image of a functioning family from you.

    The EA guy is probably not available as a soft landing spot for her. You are useful to her as a husband appliance.

    You deserve better.

    Your kids deserve better.

    She’s gaslighting you and them. Don’t pretend that everything is fine in front of the kids. They know it’s not, but they may not know why and they may internalize it. They need to be told enough of the truth in age-appropriate terms.

    Your ONS is a moot point as far as the relationship, but she will absolutely use it against you. Remember that her actions already ended the relationship. Your ONS and filing for divorce did not end it, but she will try to put that on you. She’s all image.

    And please stop talking to her. No more conversations. It’s really hard, but you will just get lies and hoovering.

  • Nordic chump

    Basically what everyone has said. I’m sorry that you are going through this as the betrayal is incredibly painful. Your story resonates with me as my ex also seemed to enjoy rubbing my nose it in, refused to stop it, then had a paddy when I started divorcing her. The selfishness described along with the massive sense of entitlement also resonates. Kick this piece of entitled crap to the kerb – you deserve better. Go find real people who appreciate you – they will be out there.

  • Be sure to consult with all the best attorneys in your city so she cannot have them represent her. It creates a conflict of interest….conflict all the mean attorneys out!!

  • Nordic Chump, your STBX checks all the blocks for being nothing more than a common, ordinary every day cheater. She is predictable and she sucks. I’m so glad you found Chump Lady.

    Now stop talking to that liar who cheats and is so boringly predictable in her fuckery. Get ready for her to lie and try to blameshift that you are the cheater. Don’t cheat and have causal sex anymore. There is time for that once you are divorced. Use all your time and energy to leave her. Get out and start a far better life without the barrier that is a dysfunctional lying cheater.

    Therapy and journaling helped me process the grief of leaving a cheater and gaining a life. I hope it will help you deal with the trauma of betrayal. Therapy might help you deal with the pain and misery that is divorcing a cheater.

  • Question for chumps: What is the difference between the “spackling” chumps do in response to cheating and the “acting like everything is normal” that cheaters do? Are they both defense mechanisms? Is one more maladaptive than the other?

    I know the remedy is grey rock/no contact. Just a bit of inquiry/contemplation on the way to meh.

    • I have been thinking that in my case it was the fight, flight, freeze, fawn theory of trauma coping. I fawned. I went into nice mode, which made me easy to abuse. It was spackling constantly for most of my marriage and my belief that I could make him engaged, make him happy and intimate. So anytime something was off, I fawned.

      • Sometimes I think the cheater acting normal is because it is normal for them- they don’t have the feels for anything other than themselves. That’s what I think is happening with Nordic. It’s not that she cares about him, or how it feels to confuse him, she simply isn’t ready to leave, she doesn’t have a better offer yet. The painful part is that once she perceives she has a better offer, she’ll split then. That’s kinda what mine did. He spent all his time in BDSM sex clubs, with hookers, and various other hook ups. But then, he decided to look around for a “relationship” because you know, it’s exhausting fucking randos. So he found one who would let him be sexually sadistic to him. He offered me a part time marriage- he’d be with the sex slave the other half. I said “no” so he chose her instead. This kind of shit is okay with them- I don’t think it’s a defensive strategy in their case. They’re just void of empathy. My husband cares not that he hurt me so badly, he was just upset I didn’t go for the plan of being in a weird threesome with a sex slave woman hanging around us, and me having the pleasure of folding his socks. Um, no thanks.

      • One example of my spackle was when he would routinely forget my birthday, then joke about it. I told myself and others that Bdays just weren’t a big deal to him, and honestly in real time I didn’t care much because I thought that though he was a big selfish at least he had my back (wrong). But, you only know what you know when you know it.

        After Dday I was incensed and devastated that he always forgot my Bday, but I found proof on CC statements of him buying her gifts for Bday, V day and such.

        I have come to terms with I was a human who was doing the best I could to love and be loyal to a very flawed person.

    • Yikes, your question feels like it has an assumption lying underneath that, as a chump, you’d be better off shedding fast before it majorly fucks you up. What you’re asking is equivalent to asking whether a serial killer’s tendency to justify their aggression is more maladaptive than, say, the victims’ tendency to let themselves get tied up at gun point in the hopes it really is “just a robbery” and the aggressor will go away.

      Yes, the perpetrator’s behavior is always more “maladaptive” and unhealthy than the victims’ response to it. I was an advocate for survivors of domestic violence for several years and was required to read books and studies on perpetrator mentality, victim survival strategies and, probably most importantly, critical analyses of the helping professions’s typical unhelpful responses to victims and why the old theories failed or even made things much worse for victims.

      One of the theories was something called the “psychological deficiency theory” that proposed victims “sought out” or “drew” perpetrators to themselves on dysfunctional Voodoo tractor beams due to childhood issues. Also casually referred to as the “split blame” or “takes two to tango” theory of dv, it was debunked ages ago but every generation of pop-psych gurus resurrects the zombie theory under another guise. The “reconciliation industrial complex” and “sex addiction” therapists (CSAT) have done the same. All garbage. Statistically there are no common denominators predicting which people will become victims, not by background, education, psychology, “self esteem” level, etc., etc. In fact, domestic violence expert Lenore Walker reported that, if anything, victims tended to have higher than average pre-abuse self esteem and were more likely to have had careers than average, suggesting that abusers’ taste in prey may statistically lean towards “big game”– independent, confident, healthy prospective victims.

      I see cheating as just another expression of abuse down to the psychology and tactics of perpetrators give or take a few broken ribs and black eyes. Cheating victims typically react exactly like battering victims so it’s no surprise that both sets of victims are subjected to the old “split blame” approach and that both sets of victims will suffer setbacks and discouragement from this type of false clinical blaming/shaming.

      The best explanation for why victims are mischaracterized this way is in the chapter on DV in Frank M. Ochberg’s “Post-Traumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violence.” The chapter is also one of the most cutting criticisms of latter day helping professions’ typical mistreatment of victims. One of the co-authors of this chapter, forensic psychologist Evan Stark, went on to write the book Coercive Control about how violence only comprises a fraction of the dv experience which is mainly about gaslighting and psychological and tactical coercion of victims (which, as it happens, exists in cheating). Stark has helped to spearhead a movement to view coercive control as part and parcel with dv so that victims can get orders of protection, etc., based on coercive and controlling behaviors, not merely violence. Underscoring the importance of Stark’s campaign were the deaths of Jennifer Dulos and Shannan Watts, neither of whom reported any violence in their marriages prior to being murdered by cheating spouses.

      Anyway, none of this is to say that some victims don’t have FOO issues that complicate trauma. The point is that, statistically speaking, if something is not generally true of the majority of victims, it should not be immediately assumed of any victim– i.e., if a great majority of victims don’t have dysfunctional backgrounds and personality disorders, why the hell do the helping professions immediately label every victim with the “psych deficiency” theory before even finding out about the individual’s background, perspective, etc.? As it stands, the only parties involved with domestic abuse with any common denominators regarding background, psychology, etc., that reliably predict their role in abuse are perpetrators.

      Run, don’t walk, if encountering any therapist who starts making assumptions and barking up the psych deficiency tree even if it happens to be true of you individually. Their automatic assumption of this belies basic incompetence and the fact they probably haven’t read a book in the twenty years since they got their degrees.

      • When I ended up at womens refuge, they told me that abusers abuse because they’re abusers. Three years on it’s hard for my brain not to keep asking “Why?” My fawning technique was my survival instinct. I don’t think I caused the abuse, but I do think I was a great match for the narcissist. He abused, I was kind about it and tried to love him into feeling good. Great post Hell of a Chump!

        • FKA– Because such a high percentage of cheaters turn violent (not to mention the literal violence of exposing unwitting partners to potentially deadly STDs) I always suspect fear plays a big role in pickme dancing/fawning. It may not be conscious just as the intuition that someone may be capable of violence can boil down to almost intangible body sensations, but the perception can be life-changing and devastating all the same. The key thing is that captor bonding wouldn’t be effective in gaining amnesty from captors if the victim is conscious of doing it. The ruse has to be believed and invested in down to a cellular level. So, ironically, the more someone has to fear the less they may be cognizant that their behavior is fear driven.

          Also ironic is that even when you, cough, study this stuff you can still get boiled like a frog! I found myself acting like a battered woman before D-day. At least for a time, being aware that it was happening was like being anesthetized just enough to be mute and paralyzed on the operating table while still feeling every cut. Awareness just broke the paralysis enough for me to finally reach out to a lawyer friend who I knew would get out the cardiac paddles and jolt me out of the evil spell.

          Perhaps I got out from under a little faster due to awareness but watching myself crumble really brought it home that this can happen to *anyone.* Abusers abuse because they’re abusers and because abuse is disturbingly effective.

          • “I found myself acting like a battered woman before D-day. At least for a time, being aware that it was happening was like being anesthetized just enough to be mute and paralyzed ”

            Same here, I knew at the beginning of the year of discard that something was off, I even questioned him and he gave the old “work stress” excuse. I accepted that. I think in hindsight I was already suspicious but I grabbed on to “work stress” like a drowing victim grabs a near by branch.

            As the year went on and he got more abusive, I basically went into survival mode and my mind and my heart argued until thank God someone filed a complaint on him and he was outed, so he had to make a move and he left.

            I had already decided when we went to my sons house on Christmas that I couldn’t take it much longer but we got home and he left the day after New Years, so it was done.

          • HOAC,
            This 1000x. My slow decent into hell was comfortably numbing. Until it wasn’t. A counsellor, that FW and I saw while wreckonciling, suggested that when FW showed up at my house after calling me 20 x with no answer was a sign of his continued passion and dedication for me. 👀 😳🤬
            Crickets. The look of complete horror on my face after this suggestion was all she needed to realize the error. She asked FW to leave and spoke to me alone. I told the counselour I would not be continuing with further sessions and that I will not be reconciling with that cunt I call ex. I told her that FW’s behaviour was controlling, manipulative, unhealthy, sociopathic etc etc etc… and that “No” is a complete sentence – one which FW doesn’t give a fuck about or respect. I said that I would not pay a counselour to encourage and participate in abusing me further. This motherfucker was removed from the family home.

            The moment was surreal and lines up shockingly to what you’ve written.

            Thank you for the reminder ♥️

      • HoaC

        “Dysfunctional voodoo tractor beams” cracks me up every time 🤣🤣🤣🤣
        Please write a book.

        • Don’t we all have secret witchy powers to make cheaters drop their drawers and transvect onto schmoopsies in car parks? 😉 Thanks for the kind thoughts.

      • “Yes, the perpetrator’s behavior is always more “maladaptive” and unhealthy than the victims’ response to it.”

        Perfect answer. I tried to answer but my mind just couldn’t quite get there.

    • Spackling is ‘covering up the cracks’ in the relationship. Rationalizing and excusing the FWs unacceptable behavior in order to reduce the cognitive dissonance chumps experience— in order to be able to continue with the relationship. Presenting as a happy couple/family to others.

      The ‘pretending everything is normal’ is ignoring the bombs the FWs themselves have dropped. Probably employed during the ‘charm’ channel of the ‘rage, self-pity, charm’ lineup. It demonstrates an astonishing lack of empathy and compassion; it doesn’t hurt them to hurt you therefore everything is fine in their mind. It’s not that they aren’t aware of what they are doing, they just don’t care. They also enjoy watching you squirm. The more sadistic FWs are enjoying your pain and their centrality, thriving on the drama they create. It might seem dissociative but it’s more like DARVO with the added manipulation of gaslighting. If you say anything they will try to say there is something wrong with you. I believe this is part of the psychopathic stable of traits.

      When chumps spackle, they are not ignoring the distressing behavior of the FW. They are trying to figure out a way to move forward and live with it. It is an unsolvable problem which is why spackling and hopium extend indefinitely a chump’s untenable situation. It is so hard to know when to call a relationship with years of sunk costs.

    • Spackling is attempting to fix the situation. The acting like everything is normal that the cheaters do while they are being abusive is not trying to fix anything. It’s just more abuse, commonly known as gaslighting.

    • Cheaters act like everything is normal because they do not want the consequences of their actions. (IMO) They do not want to be free to marry smoopie or whoever in most cases. They do not want to be an adult, pay child support, etc. When chumps spackle (IMO), they are not accepting that that person they love, etc. is not in it for the long haul. The chumps spackle because they think people are good like they are and also they are of the mind-frame that people are honest, etc. and would not purposely hurt people close to them, etc. The list goes on and on. IMO the difference is the cheater is trying to have her or his cake and eat it too and the chump is trying to keep his or her family together. Neither is the right thing to do but the cheater is the POS.

    • When chumps sparkle, they are trying to believe the FW isn’t messed up. They are trying to believe that the person FW pretended to be is who they really are. It’s an attempt to resolve the cognitive dissonance by finding out this person you loved and trusted is a POS.

      Cheaters acting like everything is normal is their attempt to keep cake coming to themselves. There is no cognitive dissonance for them. They know exactly who you are and pretend all is OK to manipulate the chump and keep the kibbles coming. It’s not done from heartbreak but from greed.

    • For me my spackling was for good intentions, and out of loyalty to help my husband. For a cheater gaslighting is knowingly lying and abusing the betrayed for their own selfish purposes.

      I think a certain amount of spackling is needed to get through life, as no one is perfect. Like at work unless you are the lead dog, you (universal you) likely do a bit of daily spackling. If we (univ we) didn’t most of us couldn’t hold a job long.

      But, of course it also can be very dangerous to the spackler depending on the circumstances and level.

  • It’s a mystery for the ages…it’s the cheater who fucks other people, want out of the relationship but then won’t divorce you. I spent 2 years wondering why the hell my husband, who left immediately after DDay, wouldn’t finish the separation. It was agony. He didn’t talk to me, wasn’t nice, no support, no money, acted like I was the devil BUT he wouldn’t do anything to separate. I had the family home. Didn’t he want the money for Schmoops? I imagine she was salivating ofer the idea of all that cash. But no, it was me, the wounded one, having to do all the hard work of separating. It’s a total mystery. Nordic, just get out, but don’t expect her to play nice. Protect yourself!

    • That one got me too, lol! 🤣
      No one’s brain works quite like CL’s. ( I mean that as the highest compliment, you are hilarious AND wise, a lethal combo! I’ve never read anyone that writes like you, you have a lane all to yourself. We’d better in deep manure if you decided to switch to team RIC!) 😱

  • This relationship sounds like it has been done a long time to me. Just do what you need to do to separate, divorce, and start a new life.

    By the way, it may be knee jerk to have a ONS. Still, that’s not marriage, either, in my book. Or even a safe thing to do these days. You know you are done, so do the work.

    There are so any one-dimensional actions and reactions to a multi-dimensional relationship like marriage that are not healthy, for either party. You never get even, and you never have to forgive because it was a reaction to something you did or said. All actions have consequences.

  • Ugh, things go up and down. Last night i felt great. Today i discovered how she keeps in contact with him, they talk over the phone when she goes to and from work. Smart, no text logs for me to read.

    I knew it was happening, but the confirmation feels like a betrayal all over again. We are divorcing, and I’m moving forward with that. But uncovering details still stings.

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