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Therapy Homework Fails

shrinkRaise your hand if you ever did therapy with a cheater. Raise both hands if you didn’t know they were a cheater.

(Free now? Then wave ’em in the air like you just don’t care.)

One of the deep veins of humor on this site (gallows humor?) is marriage counseling with a FW. It fails in so many ways.

Today’s Friday Challenge is to share your therapy homework flops.

This contest was inspired by this comment from FuckWitFree:

I remember while going thru pointless RIC therapy an assignment we had to do that entailed listing the things we loved and respected about each other. What he wrote about me? “l admire your love of the Beatles.” Fuck that shit. Missed the assignment for 30 years. Now he’s in the past tense.

Hey! At least he did the homework!

What did you get? A blank stare? An admission that “Hey, I LIKE being a narcissist.” Or damnation by faint praise. I love your love of the White Album.

Do share.

TGIF!

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.
  • When our therapist asked why we were there he said “we need to work on our communication skills.” I just looked at him like he was crazy and told her the catalyst was the fact that he cheated on me. I 100% communicated to him at the beginning of our relationship NOT to cheat on me 🙄

    • What is it with narcissists and “communication skills”?? My ex wanted to go to counseling to improve our communication skills. Mostly, he meant that I wasn’t reading his mind and doing everything he wanted without him having to ask. He told the counselor that he had no need to change anything. As far as I know, the cheating came later. But who knows with these creeps? 🤷🏻‍♀️

        • Ha. I once said to my ex that it must be hard to be so perfect. And he said, “sometimes, yeah.” No joke. Flat out meant it.

          • I said something similar to ex, my version was, it must be nice to be perfect, he replied with, it isn’t bad.

      • I got the same line: we had to go to CC to “improve my communication skills”, and “work on my anger issues”. He wanted a divorce and wouldn’t tell me why, and I was the one with communication problems? And I was not allowed to be angry at him ending our marriage for no reason, after 11 years and two children together? I agreed to go to see what he would say in front if the counselor, boy did I regret it… I sat through hours of word salad about how misunderstood he was. He just wanted to go to be able to say that “he tried everything” 🙄. In the end after a few sessions it did convince me I had nothing to work with, affair or not (but of course there was an AP hidden in the closet), and I filed for divorce. Yes I had to file, even though that’s what he wanted supposedly. That’s the last thing I did for him 😉

    • Ditto👆🏻👆🏻👆🏻 Projection? ✅✅✅

      In response I studied, I mean memorized some ridiculous book suggested by the MC: 7 effective communication techniques for successful relationships, or some such crap. We are both successful lawyers- together 26 years. Communication IQ/skills off the charts. The real problem was XH’s complete lack of integrity/empathy. No book for that. 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️ Can I get those $$$ and wasted hours of my life back, pleeaaasssseee???!!!

  • “She’s a good cook”

    He just didn’t love me. I didn’t see that then but I do now. Never again.

    • He said that about me also. He forgot: loving mother, has a great job, fixes all of his financial screw-ups, demands NOTHING for herself, works miracles with his measly salary, puts up with his horrible mother, great gardener, provided him with great health insurance, put up with his impotence, believed all of his lies and never complained about his lack of help, etc., etc..
      My task for the rest of my life is to understand why I thought that I deserved SO LITTLE!

      • NotMyFault: Don’t beat yourself up! I think most women were raised to expect little from men other than for them to pay bills. Circumstances have definitely changed & we want more evolved partners.

      • I know my ex loved all the things I did for him that he now has to remember to do for himself. The short list would include: fixing the wireless when it blinks off, loading paper in the printer, cleaning the lint filter in the dryer, changing the print cartridges, remembering to take the trash out on Thursday, remembering to bring the empty containers back in on Friday, knowing how to make a bed, knowing why cast iron doesn’t go in the dishwasher … I could go on and on.

      • The insurance thing reminds me. From the time my son started first grade, I bought health insurance from my job for my son and I. His PD insurance was awful for dependants but good for the actual employee (police officer). No biggie, it was back before insurance sky rocketed so I was glad to do it. Anyway fast forward and fw and whore are married. He retired early mostly because he had shit all over himself at work (she was his direct report). he refused to buy health insurance for whore because it was too expensive. Her eyes god bad from cataracts and he still refused to get insurance or pay for the surgery.

        My son told me this just last year. I ask my son what happened to her eyes, he said when ACA came to be, he (my son) researched and found a cheap policy that didn’t cover much; but it did cover most of cataract surgery. He got her signed up for it and she did finally get the surgery.

        That was the value he placed on his twu luv.

    • HM, one thing you also might consider- he’s incapable of love. He didn’t love you, and he can’t love anyone! And if there’s a way to learn ( I’m not sure about that), he probably isn’t interested in that, either.
      My X came across as reasonably normal, liked people, charming, but, as we were together, he didn’t love me. I couldn’t see it then because of FOO craziness, but I did after I divorced him! That sounds like some kind of hell to me- can’t love a great partner back. I was a good cook, too. It’s not that I’m unworthy of love, he just doesn’t do love. He really enjoys using people, though.
      I cook for those who love me now, including for myself!

  • I went to a therapist about my health issues. When I said my husband cheated she told me to go to marriage counseling for families. Looking back I wish she called it out and just said I’m sorry you were psychologically abused.

  • *raises both hands*

    Good grief, marriage therapy with a cheater is just about the most pointless thing ever. I was there throwing the most, considering this our last chance, and he kept looking at his watch and telling the therapist what they wanted to hear while also pointing out that he never did anything wrong. It was excruciating and it went nowhere. If we were ever assigned homework, FW never did it.

      • I’ll try and give a condensed version of this debacle, At thee end of our marriage when it was obvious to everyone but me that ex was cheating, I made an appointment for us to see another another therapist.
        As we were leaving the house ex insisted we take separate vehicles.
        We leave at the same time and I could see his truck in my rear view mirror he was purposely slowing down, then he makes a turn in the opposite direction of the therapists office.
        I get to the office and Cheater isn’t there, the therapists waits with me and cheater walks in a 1/2 hour late. He apologized to the therapist, sits down and the therapist ask him something about our marriage.
        Cheater jumps out of his chair and says to the therapist. she lied! she lied to me, she told me we were here to talk about our son, The therapist corrected him, and said something about how the divorce would be devastating for our son.. Cheater jumped up again and said, no, it’s over, I’m done. Then walked out of the office.
        Remembering this gives me chills.

  • I am sure there are some here who are familiar with the wonderful RIC dude Mort from Marriage Fitness. Only compliment each other, never keep track of where they are, or act like you don’t trust them, do not talk for months and months (years?) about what he did…I actually did this. And stupidly thought it was working. It was the answer to all cheater’s prayers!!! Worth the money for both Mort and ex! Easiest cake making ever! We are divorced finally after 5 years of cheating and two years of divorcing (although he is appealing it all for second and final time.)
    It makes me sick that this industry and awful uneducated therapists still get away with helping abusers instead of their victims.

    • I am sorry you are still in circular forever divorce hell. I know that world and remain there myself. I hope you move through it OK.

    • Oh god! I had forgotten about Mort! 💀 Thanks for the chuckle.

      A pastor, who told us he could fix our marriage in six to eight sessions (FW loved this because it offered the promise of being both fast and free), gave us the homework assignment of creating vision boards. I still remember sitting in that office, immobilized in grief, wondering where and how on earth I was supposed to source poster board, magazines, and glue stick!

      Spoiler alert: I did not make a vision board and our marriage was not fixed in 6-8 sessions.

        • I can chuckle about it now, but at the same time, I’m SMH because Geez Louise, pastor boi! I think he was a nice enough guy, but so completely out of his depth. I truly don’t think he could grasp the depth of FW’s evil. I’m also really not sure where he thought we’d be able to find illustrative magazine pics for this. . .

          The “vision board” was meant to be a large poster board, on which we were each to draw three concentric circles. The innermost circle was to be immediate goals, the next one was goals within the year, and the outer circle was long-term goals.

          Pastor’s Example Vision Board for FW
          Immediate Goals:
          ✅ Stop Lying
          ✅ Break off the relationship with Schmoopie
          ✅ Do whatever it would take to rebuild and repair with me
          Within the Year Goals:
          ✅ Secure a different job (Schmoopie was a ho-worker)
          ✅ Build trust with me
          Long Term Goals:
          ✅ Plan for a wonderful retirement together with travel, grandchildren, etc.

          My Actual Vision Board
          ❌ Unable to complete assignment due to Takotsubo Syndrome

          FW’s Actual Plan (it makes me laugh to wonder how he would have illustrated this on a poster board)
          Immediate Goals:
          ☑️ Keep lying
          ☑️ Double down on schtupping Schmoopie
          ☑️ Do whatever it would take to attempt to retain me as a wife appliance while continuing to schtup Schmoopie
          Within The Year Goals:
          ☑️ Insist on remaining at job and spend more time with Schmoopie
          ☑️ Attend marriage counseling with me to build an elaborate facade of reconciliation
          ☑️ Keep schtupping Schmoopie
          Long Term Goals:
          ☑️ Maintain wife appliance and continue to schtup Schmoopie

          Bummer for FW that I, while desperately Googling “betrayal recovery,” stumbled upon Chump Lady, who gave me an entirely different vision for my future. 😉

        • Vision boards are fun when you make one to inspire you to meet a goal. Like I have a digital vision board to inspire me to save money. It has all the things I hope to have one day on it. The cute little house, the claw foot tub, a garden, etc. When I want to spend i look at it and remember why I’m saving.

          I have no idea how that would work in a marriage though. It sounds ridiculous. Like FW supposed to look at it to remind himself not to cheat? Good grief. And I’ve no idea how that would help a chump in any way.

        • If it’s like one of the dozen “we” tried, it’s a joke. Cutting pictures from a magazine of what I dream of, while he did bikini-gals from mens mags. “But it’s what I think of when I think of YOUUÚ!”

          It took me 23 years to convince him he was a sex-addict, and another 5 to find out how bad it was.

    • I also bought the Mort CDs so I could listen to them on my way to work. This was before I divorced the fuckwith and found CL. I wasted at least $1000 trying to save my marriage with books, CDs, and counseling. I understand that $1000 is peanuts to others. Their costs were so much greater.

      • That Mort Fertel. 🤮

        I clicked on one of his links before I read LACGAL. One of that fucker’s scams was you could ‘affair proof’ your marriage, even if your spouse wasn’t on board; all you had to do was “make the marriage a good place to be”. And attend his ‘boot camp’ for a mere $399.

        What a snake oil salesman. I really don’t know how people like that can stand themselves.

        I actually sent him an email telling him I’d read LACGAL, and he was full of shit. No reply. 😂🙄

    • Oh Sarah, I found Mort and another RIC thing. Spent a lot of money. And time. I got something out of what I did and I was a willing participant, but agreed that my experience didn’t and wouldn’t address the “abuse” aspect. So I unwittingly continued my pick me dance and giving of kibbles for so long.

      • Try “Lifestar” out west. The ideas are good, but a cheater is gonna cheat, and there’s no feet-to-the-fire accountability.
        Some people have to have the pathetic self-impressed fantasy that if more women/men want them, they have more worth.

  • I asked my to do Therapy /counseling his response “ I am not doing that. They would tell me I am wrong”.
    Didn’t waste my time on therapy or any more time on him. Started trying to get my ducks in a row, I filed for divorce less than a month later.

  • Marriage counselor told now ex-wife that, to work on getting over her last affair, she needed to tell me that the guy she was currently obsessed with online was out of her life so that I would have a safe place to stand while we worked on our marriage. Then-wife said she wasn’t going to further the relationship with him while we were working on our marriage, but she couldn’t say what would happen in the future. Counselor was gobsmacked. After 10-15 seconds to recover, counselor said then-wife needed to see her own counselor to work out what she wanted.

    Of course now ex-wife never did. And of course I found out latest online obsession was more than that: cheater-ex had already hooked up with him several times and never paused the relationship during our counseling.

    Still SMDH that she thought her commitment to not fuck other dudes RIGHT NOW was enough enticement to keep the pick-me dance going. Also at the gall of failing to honor even such a modest commitment as that.

    Finally, auto-correct changed PICK-me dance to KICK-me dance. Well played, autocorrect, we’ll played.

    • “Pick-me dance to kick-me dance.”An auto correct success for once! Lol. I got told-not watching porn anymore, and it’s too dangerous for my career to use hookers. What else do you need from me? Uhhhhhh. Jaw just dropped.

    • I am appalled that the counselor said the cheater (abuser) needed to figure out what she wanted. What she wanted is cake, and more cake. Th counselor should have said, well it sounds like FW is not willing to make any commitment. What do YOU want?

    • I discovered my husband was gay. Then he said he was bisexual because he had been with me. Similar to your now ex wife, he was still planning to leave to speak his true language, but thought he was making a commitment to me to keep me as a front while he worked out his financial massacre, so he said convincingly: “what is love?” And “what is enough?” And “I think I can be happy with you now.”

      • Mine too. He claimed he was bisexual, which totally explained why he cut me off sexually for over two decades while he ran around pursuing teenage boys. And, stealing money behind my back the whole time.

    • My x didn’t drop his solicitation of a prostitute, “I have to hear it from her directly that it’s over.” I stupidly thought by him agreeing to MC that he wanted me, our marriage, our family that we’d built over 34 years together. Nope, he wanted to “date” drug addicts who’d call him Daddy, drop out of our children’s lives and blow money gambling, on strippers/escorts/prostitutes. “It’s my turn.”

      • “It’s my turn” reminded me how my FW excused his “cheating/porn/rando f*cks/leaving 23yr marriage for OW” with the fact that I had sown my wild oats in college, but he never had… such a sad sausage, poor thing.

      • His turn to get an endless stream of sexually transmitted diseases? This sounds like a toddler who wants on the swing.

    • I remember the FW telling me I “needed to get over it” (the 7 year affair) after a mere 2 months. I shot back at him, “I’ll get over it when YOU get over HER.”

      “Kick-me dance” is priceless!

  • When we were tasked to list things about each other that we loved, I, of course, had a long list of items. It took him forever, but then he smiled and said, She’s a good loser.

    • (To IamChump) Holy shit. What a douche. I would hope the therapist would turn to you at that point and say “this guy is a complete asshole. Please stop trying to work it out with him.”

      • I actually had a therapist who did just that, MS. It was after only ONE session and when FW left (we were separated) the therapist said to me, “Don’t ride that elevator all the way to the bottom.” Took the therapist less than an hour to see what I couldn’t see for years.

    • Same!
      Got nothing.

      Assignment was to make a list of what we loved about the other person AND what we wished the other person would do just for us.

      I put so much thought into my responses (btw, I only asked for more intimacy – there was zero sex – and for him to dance with me at weddings).

      At the appointment his response was that he loved everything about me and he had no wishes because I was perfect. He said all the problems in our marriage were because of him.

      I should have left then. Would have saved me years of abuse.

      He also met with my therapist (not marriage counselor) to help her understand why I was so depressed. He told her that I had never gotten over the death of my father 20 years earlier. He even cried while telling her that. To this day, she despises him for that.

      • It’s sad that we ask for so little — “dance with me at weddings” – that touched my heart. 🙁 I had the same refrain about depression and unhappiness, all of it blamed on my father. Such crafty manipulation because like everyone else I have FOO issues, which I addressed. It was always jaw-dropping to me that he could not see any FOO issues of his own (though glaring) and never fathomed that my upset was connected to his betrayal, deception, and neglect. He sat with his arm over the back of the couch at MC, not participating, spinning things, blaming me, getting ammunition to attack me later. Not human.

        • “It’s sad that we ask for so little — “dance with me at weddings” – that touched my heart”

          Yes. I remember saying to the fuckwit, long before Dday, it would be so nice if he would just respond a bit when I hugged him and told him I loved him.

          He said, “well, I never had that before, so I don’t know what to do”. It’s not fucking rocking science moron. Of course chumpy me at the time thought all I had to do was keep on showing him love and affection and eventually he would respond. How wrong can you be?

          • I asked ex why he wasn’t affectionate like he was when we were dating.. (he’d rub my shoulders, hold my hand), ex laughed and said I did that to get you in the sack. I don’t have to do those things now, we’re married.

          • Yeah, a woman I know once said, “I thought by giving, I would teach my family how to give. Instead I taught them how to take.” Wise words.

        • In MC I asked that my husband come to bed with me so we could cuddle, be intimate and hopefully build up to having sex. He laughed and said I sounded like a high school girl. It broke my heart. But at that time I had no idea he going to sex clubs and had full on S&M relationships mostly with hookers. So no wonder anything normal felt like high school to him! I minimized myself to nothing. I got nothing from him in our marriage and the MC was a platform for him to try and be superior to me. It was disgusting.

      • What you and others describe is so foreign to me because the ex fuckwit and I continued to have a regular sexual relationship — except the last year of our marriage. He continued to show himself to others as a loving father and husband. I did notice very, very often that how he behaved when others were looking was different than how he behaved when it was just us at home. For example, he’d act like he really enjoyed being with me and that he was interested in having sex when we got home. And yet, he quite often was ‘tired’, or ‘something triggered his stomach’, or whatever. I couldn’t quite figure out why he was different. Finally I did.

    • On our second (!) round of MC, we were tasked with the same list.
      While I had a list of thoughtful responses (like the chump I used to be), everything on his list was about the things I provided to him, nothing about me as a person.
      Our otherwise useless counselor made a weak attempt to explain that his list was essentially all about him, cheater x just sat there frowning in confusion.
      Of course it was all about him! My only value to him was my role as a kibble dispenser.

  • We spent 3 sessions in counseling before I knew he was cheating. I remember the epiphany I had when the therapist pointed out he kept interrupting and talking over me. Like a frog being boiled, I didn’t even realize it. I started going to a therapist on my own for “my trust issues.” One session later and I discovered his cheating. Therapy goals changed real quick.

    • You had “trust issues” because you were living with someone who can’t be trusted. It’s amazing to me that we always believe the “trust issue” lies in us, as if we have some inability to trust, when it’s our instinct telling us we aren’t safe.

      The only “trust issue” we have to work on is learning to TRUST OURSELVES–trust our gut when it tells us we aren’t safe, trust our sense that we are being devalued and disrespected, trust the evidence that the relationship is one-sided, trust our own ability to “leave a cheater and gain a life.”

      • And if you trust them, many of them will say well; she never noticed how much did she care. Or some bull shit like that.

        You can’t wind because as CL says: “the deck is stacked against you” and that is by their design.

      • Yup, I came to realize that my “trust issues” were not some failing on my part – as he led me to believe — but strong instincts that I ignored at my own peril. But for so long I wondered what was wrong with ME, instead of realizing it was never me and that I had good reasons to doubt him.

        • Cheater said that someone must have really betrayed my trust in the past because I had trust issues.
          No one ever betrayed me, break ups with old boyfriends were on good terms. No drama.
          I ignored my gut feelings, Not sure why but I accepted that there was something wrong with me.
          Still it didn’t feel right, the nagging gut feeling.never completely disappeared.
          Always trust your gut.

          • I bought a book called “Gift of Fear” for a friend who was being stalked by a coworker- it gave me the understanding that I was being gaslighted to disbelieve my own eyes. Best therapy EVER, and it was less than $15.00!

    • Oh, wow, DBleighm–i had the same issue with asshat talking over me and constantly interrupting me during therapy. And everywhere else. Everyone noticed it, pointed it out, and he was in total denial about it..until…our teen daughter caught it on her phone via video. And played it back to him. His excuse? “Well, she never lets me talk so I have to constantly talk to keep her silent.” Irrational much?

  • Oh. Hell no! Found his notes and he wrote that: he LIKES-my sense of humor, smart, persistent (when I want it), honest, loyal, determined. These were from his notebook that’s where he writes all thoughts, especially after he sees his therapist. He “likes” these things about me. Wtf! Must be nice to have a loyal and honest partner-I wouldn’t know futhermucker!

    • I took over the Facebook account after DDay number two. Didn’t want to lose contact with family and friends and never had one of my own.
      I saw SO MANY memes he posted about truth and loyalty, it made my head spin. And many of the likes and comments came from people who knew his true self!
      In the minds of cheaters, truth and loyalty TO THEM is all-important, but they are unable/unwilling to provide that to their partners.

  • We were given an assignment to write down our feelings, then read this out loud to the other in our session. The point being that it was to utilize “active listening” skills, which we had talked about in the previous session. Fuckwit insisted that I read mine first. When I finished, the therapist asked him to repeat back what I had said and give his thoughts. He sat blankly for a moment, then smirked and shrugged. “I don’t know, all I heard was wah-wah-wah. Like the way it sounds when Charlie Brown’s teacher talks.” I blew up, called him several choice names. A couple silent moments passed, I was so angry that I had burst into tears. Still smirking, he says, “you see? She’s the one with the problem! She needs anger management!”
    I walked out of there and never went back.

    • Amazing the extent of their cruelty. What a horrible person. I’m sorry you have to have that abuse track stuck in your head. It’s all about his shallow empty existence and nothing about you. Who in their right mind would say such an awful thing? Makes my skin crawl and I’m a complete stranger, not someone who vowed to love and cherish or whatever you. FW x 10000.

      • That’s just it. These people aren’t in a ‘right mind’ and they’ll never be. I’m glad that Katiedidn’t found out quickly the extent of the ugliness of the fuckwit. He actually did her a favor by playing his cards immediately. He is an ugly man.

      • Thank you. I should mention that the flip in his personality after d-day was indeed, calculated and awful. But now, five years on, I am definitely waving both hands in the air, and I really don’t care, lol. I moved out, divorced him, went back to school and got my RD, and I am working as a dietitian in a hospital. Happily independent ever after. I will be 60 this year and I am having the best time of my life.

  • No need to go to therapy. I analyzed this shit up side one side and down the other.
    I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he wouldn’t be a better person, a better person that he could easily be. Why did he always the choose the fucked up thing?

    So many hours spent discussing issues. I did the lion’s share of the work. Spackled endlessly.
    We had a good life and a great family and he was constantly wearing his poopy diaper face – restless, irritable and discontent always always. He helped himself to the lion’s share of the benefits. Maybe he was an alcoholic I thought. Has intense FOO issues. Yes, that too.

    Always giving me the indication I was less than. Jealous of my intelligence – always muttering something disparaging.

    What did it come down to? Undereducated naïve me didn’t know about narcissists.
    Finally got my head around the unspoken truth.
    “Hey, I LIKE being a narcissist.”

    Divorced three days shy of 40 years. Whew. Finally.

    He’s what he is. I’m at meh.

    • I can relate to this so much. When he would lie when there was no reason to lie and the truth would serve him better. It was so incredibly confusing.

    • Always choose the fucked up thing… oh yes, I lived that, too. We could have had such a cool life, so frustrating. My neighbor, who watched the last affair play out, told him one day- you’re throwing away happiness with both hands!
      Narcs are impossible.

    • “I couldn’t for the life of me figure out why he wouldn’t be a better person, a better person that he could easily be. Why did he always the choose the fucked up thing?

      So many hours spent discussing issues. I did the lion’s share of the work. Spackled endlessly.”

      Hell yes !! To me, he had all the pieces needed to be an awesome person having an awesome life but his malcontentedness and pointless blame for everything poisoned the well at every turn. We didnt discuss things endlessly as he would just get very mean very quickly if I tried to discuss, but I surely did spackle endlessly.

      I didnt see him as a garden-variety narc during my life because compared to my parents, he was almost normal. I did not read about covert narcs until after he had died, but he checked off every single box. It was 2 years after he died that I learned that the cheating had been ongoing for decades. In order to live with himself, he had to prove that I deserved to be treated this way, so his lack of charity or decency towards me was structures to appease his guilty conscience.

    • Yes to all of this.

      I will never understand how he could be so miserable in the lovely life I provided. I earned good money. I took care of all the things. I was a good parent, we have great kids.

      But he did the same – moped around like a sad sausage, glaring at me, giving me the silent treatment. He was jealous of any success I had, to the point where I stopped telling him if something good happened to me because it was just an opening for him to try to take me down a notch.

      Honestly, when Beyonce got cheated on it cleared a lot of things up for me. It wouldn’t have mattered if I was the most beautiful, most talented, wealthiest woman in the world.

      He measures the quality of his life in orgasms, nothing else.

      • Same here, cheater moped around, glaring at me, giving me looks of disdain, the silent treatment. If I’d ask if there was something bothering him he’d accuse me of looking for something to bitch about.

        As he became more and more miserable at home, the more critical he became. He began accusing me of never being happy when I felt happy at the time. Then he’d add that he could never make me happy. I thought maybe I was coming across as unhappy so I made an effort to prove I was happy by smiling more often. I was willing to do whatever it took to save our marriage.
        There was nothing I could have done it was all projection..

  • About 10 years before D-day, we went to a marriage therapist who asked FW if could see my point of view about an issue. X stared blankly, as if someone had asked him to play a strange instrument that he’d never seen before

    The man I married was a covert narc, incapable of empathy. One of many 🚩🚩 that I missed.

    During the few days that X announced he wanted a separation and right before he fessed up to the affair, he suggested we go to a marriage therapist. But, lo and behold, none of the three he called (three that were recommended by his individual therapist) had appointments! Liars lie, so who can be sure?

    Anyway, x would later tell me that his individual therapist suggested he not divulge the nearly 3-year affair during therapy. Also probably a lie. SMH!

    Glad those therapy sessions never came about. No doubt x would have pinned some shit on me to make his affair seem like a problem for which I was equally responsible.

    • My own therapist told a friend I referred to him not to confess the cheating–but only if she would never do it again. She followed that advice and has lived faithfully for 30+ years. She got help for her issues and turned back to her husband. His point was that it was her burden to bear with the guilt, to learn not to do things that would lead to feeling guilty, and to deal honestly with her own choices. But it was evident to him that she is not a disordered person but rather someone on the wrong road.

      • She’s a person who doesn’t take responsibility for her actions and avoids consequences though. Her husband should have had the right to decide if he was ok with another 30 years with someone who betrayed him. She denied him that.

        • In my case, x fully intended to leave me. Said he loved the AP and wanted to marry her. So not divulging the affair would have been a lie by omission, intended to serve his need to 1. appear to have “tried” to save our marriage, and 2. to pin partial blame on me. I’m convinced of that.

          He made a half-ass effort to get a marriage therapist. The time from announcing we should see a therapist and the time he fessed up to the affair was all of 3 days.

          By the way, he’d made a big show of wanting a 3-month separation. “I need 3 months to think.” But he could never be alone for long. The coward lasted 3 days. lol.

          When he confessed on day 3 (#D-Day), the AP drove across country to re-unite with him. The stuff of romance novels! Those two love birds immediately moved in together. He’d said she drove away because she felt SO BAD about breaking up our mirage (thanks, VH). Ummm. Maybe. But I also think she left to make him pine for her more and also to get him to make a commitment to her. After all, they’d been “affairing” for almost 3 years. It was TIME!

          Those two cheaters married one year after they moved in together. May they and their massive upper-thigh fish tattoos experience all the happiness they deserve.

        • Whenever I read unicorn comments it’s always about a “friend” which says it all to me.

          I am sure this “friend” learned a lot about image management and what to say to everyone to be above reproach. I think that’s the scary thing to me, that it’s so incredibly easy to hoodwink people if you are so inclined. Just tell them that the affair is your “burden” and you are on some magical journey to be a better person, blah blah blaaaaah

      • Your friend was probably the exception. I believe that most cheaters most likely don’t admit to cheating, or at least to anything other than the instance that brought them to a counselor in the first place.
        I asked the x what his first counselor told him about his lifelong habit of cheating, he said “it never came up”.🙄 They just discussed how hard it was for HIM to break up with the married OW. I was told (by him so I take this with a grain of salt) that I needed to help him get over his heartbreak.
        All his other dalliances? He didn’t think they were relevant to the conversation so he didn’t disclose anything other than the current situation.
        Not that it would have changed his trajectory in any way. He was happy doing what he did and never had any intention of changing his lifestyle.

      • I can imagine a few people doing this, especially if they are young and naïve. I guess that’s why we believe the cheater’s remorse on DDay 1 and continue to hope….
        I never actually knew anyone that this happened to.

  • I never gave up on actual therapy, but I learned to give up on a therapist based on style and content. I believe you need to be as careful choosing a doctor of any type as you do your friends and life partners. Now I would run from an RIC therapist, but in all likelihood, at that time I thought I wanted to reconcile, or at least verify my diagnosis of what was wrong and find if it was fixable when I went to marriage counseling.

    I found personal therapy very helpful in finding and identifying FOO issues. I had 3 different therapists for marriage counseling, 2 for the first 20-year marriage, 1 with the brief 4-year marriage. They were helpful in guiding me to clearly see what was wrong with the relationship(s) and man, and in both cases to eventually accept it was not fixable. Chumplady’s tear off the band-aid leave a cheater method is much more cost effective.

    The hardest things for me to give up on were my “dream” of what my life would be, and my belief that someone who professed love for me would not be such a calculating user. When I understood my culturally created dream would never exist, and that I had indeed been conned, I was hurt to the core, but I was also finally ready to heal and get a better life.

    I have to say I was lucky — all the marriage counselors I saw were able to see through these men. They helped me to identify some problematic areas of my own behavior so that I could work on myself, but they did not give me false hope about these men being able to change. The first of the 2 in my 20-year marriage was before we had children. He told me that if I stayed married and had children with my husband that I should be prepared to effectively be a single parent. In other words, don’t expect any help, except maybe economic help, and don’t count on that. He was exactly right. Still being young and foolish enough to believe I was strong and could fix things, I stayed. But I did get my son’s. There are some painful choices in life, but I am glad I had my son’s.

    False equivalencies sum up all the stupid shit my cheaters ever uttered, in or out of therapy. They were entitled, and I was not, according to their world views. Why I ever found that attractive was what I had to fix about myself before I was ready to move on.

    • I think you speak for me as well. Congratulations to you for figuring it out. Better late than never.

  • Several homework fails:
    -stop cheating
    -stop communicating with the cheater
    -stop lying
    -stop screaming, lashing out, abusing, character assassination, etc. in therapy

  • Our therapist asked us to write about what we missed about each other. I, of course, wrote four pages extolling the virtues of the man I thought I married and how I missed him. He, on the other hand wrote one sentence. One. Sentence. That’s when I realized we were in two very separate and different marriages.

    • Yep, and that is painful to accept. in hindsight, I realize my fw for many years played me like a Marionette. I was not blind to his faults or mine; but I told myself at least he is faithful and not like all those nasty guys he tells me about. I thought we had a solid marriage and got along well HA. Of course we got along well, I did what he wanted and he kept me busy working in the community to get him in good standing. The only thing I wouldn’t compromise on on was decisions for my son, I was the keeper of my sons education and welfare and I would not budge on that.

      I went to work full time when my son started his last year of high school. In retrospect; that may have been when he started earnestly looking to replace me, rather than just fucking random whores. Hard to control a woman who is getting uppity.

      • I thought the same thing regarding chatter, he was’t like all the other nasty guys he’d tell me about.
        Cheater would tell me I was lucky to be married to him, unlike other men, he had integrity.
        He’d tell me I was his best friend.
        It was a diversion, I’m not going to suspect my best friend of cheating.
        I was conned.

  • I’ll be forever grateful for the brief way a therapist addressed counseling in our case. Therapist took Cheater first visit, solo. Therapist took me second visit, solo. Therapist took us both third visit, together. Therapist called me back for a second solo visit. At this time, therapist asked me ONE pointed question (he knew the answer from the earlier session). The question was:

    “How many children do you have?” I reminded him we have three.
    “No, Latitude69, you have FOUR children and one is in a marriage crisis with you. He’s not handling life’s problems with the skills of an emotionally mature man. He’s rebelling against injustices that have nothing to do with you. He’s not looking for your support or love. He’s ready to run away.”

    That put it all into perspective. It was the most helpful assessment of all. The rest is history.

    • “He’s rebelling against injustices that have nothing to do with you. He’s not looking for your support or love. He’s ready to run away.”

      Holy shit, my ex husband in a nutshell.

      • Same. In retrospect it explains so much. Before and after the divorce, he is often unreliable about small things for no logical reason. I think it’s his juvenile way of rebelling & saying “you’re not the boss of me.” He tends to feign ignorance or make up lame excuses, so these days I don’t bother calling him out, and if he brings it comes up, I just shrug rather than give him the satisfaction of getting a response from me.

        • Mine practically said, “You’re not the boss of me”. He told me I was too demanding, so I rarely asked him to do anything. I came to realize that, when I did, whatever I asked him to do would immediately get moved to the bottom of his list.

          • Same! Anything I wanted was just not going to happen, or if he did it he would (deliberately?) make a dog’s breakfast out of it.
            Was going to school and working full time with three kids, and I asked him to put on a load of laundry ONCE.
            When I pulled the clothes out of the dryer, there was a beautiful sweater my sister gave me, shrunken to doll-size. It wasn’t in the hamper, so how?
            I believe that’s called malicious compliance.

  • We tried therapy with two different people. We went to a therapist who did the typical blaming of me for not being forgiving, not accepting apologies, etc. and made things worse. We then tried another therapist who, on our first and only session, looked at me and said ‘I can’t help you and nobody would ever blame you for leaving.’ Mic drop.

  • We went once & I walked out leaving the FW there. The marriage counsellor pulled out the “he doesn’t feel loved enough”. He doesn’t feel loved enough?! All I did was show him “love”! Did I get any love back??!! What a sick joke. Of course, he crowed about that comment after. I swear if I saw that counsellor on the street today, I would be tempted to b*tch-slap her into reality!

    • Whoah! I guess I’m still upset about this! Of course, I wouldn’t slap her, but telling her off might be on the table.

      • I don’t know, Wow, I’d stick with the bitch slap. She was telling the truth but leaving out the rest of the story. No narcissist feels loved enough, as no amount of love and care will fill the holes in their souls. Every person in their lives can adore them and they’ll still flirt with the waitstaff, neighbors, coworkers, for they are GODS and everyone must worship them! Publicly at any rate, because they know deep inside they are frauds, just Wizards of Oz. And once you look behind the curtain, they lash out. You must be discredited, undermined, and silenced so no one will believe your version of the facts. They’ll redouble their charm offensives toward others to alienate them from you. You will be shunned by those who buy the narc’s bullshit but not by those who are not so easily swayed. It’s a great litmus test.

        • This is exactly what I believe. “No narcissist feels loved enough, as no amount of love and care will fill the holes in their souls.” It’s best to distance yourself as soon as you find out.

    • I swear what we should say in those circumstances (just before we walk out) is “YOU, don’t feel loved enough”. No problem “Go love yourself”.

  • Both hands raised here and waving madly.

    Sparkledick and I had exactly one session with a MC. She gasped when I complained that FW had called me a whore, and in front of our sons, because I was asking him for explantions about our chronic debts.

    We never went back (FW’s excuse being we could not afford it).

    From DBleigm’s insight here today: it took me ten years after that episode to realize I was just a big fat frog being boiled.

  • Oh, we had that assignment before we were supposed to go to therapy. He refused to do his paperwork then stole and shredded mine at work because he really did not want to go. I redid mine and asked him to to his. After years of bragging about me to the entire world, he only had to say I take good care of his daughter. I’m too good at too many things and it’s intimidating.

    This 6 foot tall 315 pound man was all of a sudden intimidated by a 5 foot nothing 179 pound Hobbit.

    And alllll the things he used to like about me? I realized they were all Wife Appliance goods and services I provided HIM, not actual character traits.

    Thus, with his newly dead shark eyes and the entire plates of bacon I had watched him consume at hotel breakfast buffets, Cold Slab O’Meat was born.

    • And when I asked him to pull back from texting the Sluterus hundreds of times a day, he said, ‘I’m not giving up my Friendship!’

      ‘From what I can tell this is a F@&¥SHIP, not a Friendship.’

      • Them getting defensive of tHe FrIeNdShIp while abusing the spouse is one of the behaviours that REALLY sets me off. Oh it’s a friendship but you value it above a MARRIAGE, yeah, that makes sense.

        I’m off to punch a random scote…

    • I remember after DDay I asked my ex wife what she loved about me. It was only the things I did for her. Nothing about me personally.

      • Right? The cheater can list all your wonderful qualities, which is really only a description of what you do to be the adult in the relationship. Then everyone thinks cheater is so nice to be complimentary of you, and oh, “why are you so crabby? Why aren’t you nicer to cheater? I wish I had a spouse that nice…”

    • “And alllll the things he used to like about me? I realized they were all Wife Appliance goods and services I provided HIM, not actual character traits.”

      Same here. I was aching for him to like something about me that wasn’t a service I provided for him.

      • Mine just kept saying I looked nice. He could never think of a single thing about my personality he liked, apart from ‘you’re funny’ at a push

    • chumped48: ya I was checked out too apparently because I was reading text books to finish my degree, so our family could have a more financially secure future…but hooking up with a low-paid AP is preferable to him because she only reads gossip mags 🙄 P.S. I’m sure though he gripes to her about not kicking in as much money as I did!

      • FW’s whore quit working right after they married, she was about 37 by then. My son said she worked in retail after she got fired from her city job, but it only lasted a few months and she developed some convenient back problems.

        But, to be honest he was likely fine with that. She had absolutely no power in their marriage and he I am sure liked that.

        One of the disagreements we had about three years before Dday was that he wanted to sell out everything when he retired and buy a house boat and live on the River. I threw him a big ass no on that one. I did tell him that if he wanted to sell out all the rental property and buy a boat that he could spend a lot of his time on the River, I was fine with that; but that even if it was a small apartment I needed a land dwelling and I intended to work to retirement age.

        He even tried to get me to quit my job at about the same time, saying “I (he) makes enough to take care of us both. He did of course; but I can flat out guarantee you I would have never had access to any of that. That is the reason I went to work in the school system part time when my son started first grade. I couldn’t get much from him at all to buy stuff for my son. So I went to work and we worked out a deal where all my money (wasn’t much) went to extras, and he paid all the bills, and used his to finance his boats and boat sites. What I didn’t know was he was also siphoning off a lot of money for whores and gambling.

        • Good for you susie, mine persuaded me to give up my job and I fell for it. He then left me months later, as a single parent

          Luckily I found another eventually, after discard but I’m financially on a back foot. You were wise

    • These cheaters and their aversion to reading is so weird and yet interesting. I wonder if there is a connection?

      • OMG! My cheater ex constantly complained about me reading instead of watching tv with him. I still cringe at the memory of him announcing to our daughters (ages13 and 15) that “American Idol” is on and their replies “we’re doing homework”. Who calls their children away from homework to watch tv!

        • Mine thought the “no TV while doing homework” rule didn’t apply to him.

          Well, he didn’t think any rules applied to him.

      • “These cheaters and their aversion to reading is so weird and yet interesting. I wonder if there is a connection?”

        Yes, I’ve wondered the same. Fuckwit *hated* my reading, my books.

        Is it something to do with the fact that reading draws one into another world, one empathises with the characters in it, you care about what happens to them?

        Fuckwit cheaters have no empathy, and care only about what happens to *them*?

        Also they have no imagination.

        • Mine was the opposite. He used reading as a way to distance himself from me and the kids. We’d be interacting and he’d be reading something about Linux, other tech stuff, or chess. He read endless books on the same subjects, would come home from the library with dozens, many of which he’d forgotten he had already read. He picked up the habit as a kid to escape his dysfunctional FOO. But we weren’t dysfunctional, we were lovely and as normal as it’s possible to be while living with him.
          He had no reason to want to escape us.

      • You might be on to something here…mine hated that I read so much as well.
        Why not?
        He had no interest in engaging in conversation or anything with me when he was home.
        I didn’t push him away by reading; he was so checked out throughout the entire marriage my books became a comfort to me.
        Immersing myself in another world (literary- and science- fiction mostly) made me think about anything other than the lack of love, affection and companionship at home.

      • I think they envy our ability to enjoy quiet sources of happiness, rather than noisy external validation. It’s something they just don’t have and don’t understand.

  • Wow, where to start. He decided to see the counselor alone, to discuss me and my issues. They had an affair. I trusted her and him. They both violated me in the worse possible way. I was grieving the death of my mother. She now goes to book club at my neighbors house across the street. I am in Hell.

    • Do you have the energy to register a complaint to her licensing body? I understand if you don’t.

      • We did. They dismissed and did nothing. She went on to do it to another family. The husband dated the therapist for awhile. The ex wife was arrested for domestic violence and unfortunately their 17 year old daughter committed suicide. You can’t make it up. It’s a horrific story and seeing her is so awful.

    • You guys help: omg! I hope you’ve reported her to her licensing board or at least gave her a horrible Google review!

      • We put reviews on Yelp. Other people who had the same issue with her came forward. It’s unreal.

    • Oh honey, that’s awful. What she did was an egregious breach of ethics, and if she’s licensed, she could lose it.

    • Gah! That is awful. My parents were friends with a couple where the wife was fucking the Catholic Priest and when confused and grieving by his wife’s confusingly hostile behavior, the husband sought guidance from his Priest. Years after the divorce, the wife visited my parents and laughed as she told the story. A few years after that, the husband visited and told the same story and cried.

    • I am so sorry. Yes, they both violated you. What a total, complete mindfuck. I really hope you’ve found a good counselor because that would be very difficult to get through by yourself.

      • Thank you I have. She helped me write a letter to the ex therapist to ask her not to go to a mother Daughter event, if an organization she joined after I did. Her behavior is disturbing. Also sadly I’m February I had a miscarriage the morning after she attended book club across the street.

        • I’m so very sorry for your loss. I’ll say prayers for you. May you find peace and consolation.

  • Yep, I dragged him to counseling.

    One of the things our therapist told him was that he needed to provide all of his passwords and be an open book. He replied that I could have everything the same day but since he didn’t remember them he’d give them to me when we got home.

    I didn’t bring it up again so I could see if he’d do it willingly.

    He didn’t.

    I brought it up during a fight a couple of weeks later and he of course played dumb. Two days later, after he’d given himself time to delete stuff, he hands me a password list. I threw it out because I knew all I needed to know….that he was a piece of shit and I was filing.

    Therapy isn’t appropriate for cheating because it’s used to bullshit the victim. Therapy is for things like communication issues where you don’t have character issues.

    • “Therapy isn’t appropriate for cheating because it’s used to bullshit the victim. Therapy is for things like communication issues where you don’t have character issues.”

      Well said, especially in regards to reconciliation therapy. One partner is in most cases going to have to swallow’s some huge ship piles, and guess which one it is likely to be. Cheating con artists don’t swallow shit piles, they create them.

    • “Therapy isn’t appropriate for cheating because it’s used to bullshit the victim.” Yes, this.

      Snakeface and I saw a therapist for several sessions in 2003-2004, and he resented the therapist’s support for my request that he stop spending time alone with Spiritual Slut and traveling with her to the rez and all the sweat lodge ceremonies they attended. Therapy was an expensive failure. Then, about 4 years after that, I thought we should give it another try. I don’t remember what motivated me to find another therapist, but I read profiles of providers, found one, and made an appointment for us. That therapist recommended EMDR therapy for me, which he was certified to perform, in order to deal with my trauma related to my parents’ divorce and father’s emotional neglect. I don’t know anything about the efficacy of EMDR, but I resented the fact that the therapist got focused so early on trying to fix my childhood trauma instead of focusing on Snakeface’s neglect of his marriage and the trauma THAT created.

      I never made another appointment with the guy, but that was because I found out, just a few days after that session, that my position with the non-profit I worked for was going to be eliminated due to a loss of funding, so I’d be out of a job within a few months. This was during The Great Recession, and since our insurance didn’t cover squat when it came to behavioral health, we weren’t going to be able to manage paying for very expensive sessions out-of-pocket. At that time, I would have been willing to continue therapy, however wary I was of the therapist, if we could have afforded it. Snakeface didn’t believe me. He thought I dropped the therapist because I felt too threatened. Whatever.

  • I really don’t get this ‘therapy’ thing. I’m a UK chump, it seems to be far more an American response than a British one.

    Reading here about people’s experiences with ‘therapy’, and ‘therapists’, I don’t understand why anyone would pay a stranger to tell them what to think or how to behave. These people aren’t *doctors*, anyone can call themselves a ‘therapist’, or a ‘life coach’ (🙄) and charge probably huge fees.

    Perhaps I’m just being a cynical old bag. If it’s truly helped anyone here, good.

    I did click on that Mort Fertel’s link once, I think it was called ‘how to save your marriage’, after I’d read it I just thought what a loaf of bullshit. I kept getting emails for ages though!

      • I have a stranger who is a doctor for my body (MD), a stranger who is a doctor for my teeth (dentist), and a stranger one for my mind (aka, therapist). Therapy has helped ME. They are no longer strangers in the course of providing care for me. Therapy has helped me. It doesn’t work for people who lie. Or if there are substance abuse issues and the person is still drinking/using.

        My parents, who were not healthy people mentally or emotionally, by a long shot, was where I originally taught how to think and behave and feel. The programming was faulty,. one needs objective trained outside assistance reprogramming.

        Being a therapist is not as exact a science as being a doctor or a dentist. There are great ones and mediocre ones and bad ones. I went to college to become one myself, but dropped out before I got a degree.

        To me, mental/emotional/psychological health is just as important as physical health. And also not self-administered, as no one can see the picture from inside the frame. It can take time to find someone good, but I believe, and was taught in school, that we don’t fix ourselves or our families because we simply can’t be objective.

        I can’t understand why people DON’T believe in it. It saved my life even if it didn’t help my relationship with him. 😊

        • For sure, individual therapy is invaluable. It’s joint therapy with the cheater that’s a waste of time.

          I had 2 1/2 years before I left my ex piece of shit. It helped put a lot of things in perspective and helped me make the decision to dump him.

        • Individual therapy helped me, too!! 🙋🏻‍♀️

          I’m indebted to my psychiatrist.

          By the way, many therapists have doctorates–psychiatrists are MDs; psychologists have PhDs.
          There are other therapists as well with varying degrees of training. Whether a doc or not, some are good and some aren’t.

          I’m a huge proponent of individual therapy with a good therapist. The trick is finding a good one.

      • Beware of “Biblical” or ” Nouthetic” counselors. They present as therapists and say they are board certified, but are not state licensed. Their training is minimal and very narrow, focusing on their interpretation of the Bible as the basis for treatment. They almost entirely dismiss biological reasons for mental disorders and ascribe personal sin or satanic influences as the root. They have been known to discourage the use of anti depressants and other drugs. They are often affiliated with churches or referred by pastors. They also are not bound by confidentiality, so what you share in assumed confidence may soon be spread around your church. They are consistently patriarchal and it is almost certain that they will blame you as a chump and try to get you to dance faster.
        Always ask perspective therapists if they are State licensed. It doesn’t guarantee they are competent, but at least they did not start out on the wrong track.

        • I’m very sorry that you had that experience. Two of my best therapists were Christian men. One was a pastor. One, within moments of me describing the ‘issues’ that I was dealing with (and before I knew about the cheating), said, “I’m sorry, but your marriage doesn’t have a very good chance of success.” He helped me get through a lot of the injustices by showing me that it had nothing to do with me. He also helped me realize that God my Father in heaven loves me and does not condone such behavior. That helped. The other, the pastor, didn’t outright say to leave my husband, but he gave me homework. He told me to go home and write down all the reasons that I believe I have value. When I got to about my 10th reason, I stopped and wrote, “I have value because I’m a child of God.” When I went back and told him what I did, he said, “Congratulations. You figured it out the first time.” He further counseled me by focusing on me and saying, “What do YOU want to do?” Both counselors were well into their 70s and I think I was one of the lucky ones in my experience. I guess by then they had years to realize that the narrative of staying-married-no-matter-what is not sound advice. They focused on me and why I needed to realize my worth. My self esteem was quite damaged after 30 years of the fuckwit. But as I say, I must have been one of the lucky ones with my Christian counselors. I’ve heard many horrible stories of those that received very bad advice.

      • A shit loaf 🍞 to make shit sandwiches 🥪🤣🤣🤣🤣. These fuckwits and their buffets…

    • I can only speak for myself but in the US licensed clinical social workers, psychiatrists, psychologists and others with formal training and licenses are called “therapists”.
      Granted, some use therapists/counselors with less training or licensing. I would never recommend that.
      My therapist has a bachelors and masters degree in Social Work and is a professor at a prestigious university.

      • Also meant to add that my therapist saved my life. Twice she placed me into excellent psychiatric facilities when I was in danger of killing myself and she always makes herself available when I’m struggling (even once on vacation).
        Her care, wisdom and concern are priceless!

        • Mine personally drove me to the hospital herself and told them I needed to be in. She saved my life. Forever grateful.

        • Meant to also add: I am so glad you got the care you needed and deserved. It can make all the difference in the world.

      • In the UK, *anyone* can call themselves a therapist or a counsellor, or a life coach. The BBC did an expose on it.

        I’m glad it’s different in America, and that it helped you.

        • My therapist at the end of my mirage was a real life saver. She educated me about how little I was receiving in the relationship, and that a lot of his treatment of me was DV.
          I’ve had ones that didn’t help, also. You have to cross your fingers and hope you find a great therapist. For yourself. I never could get serial cheater to go together for us, but he did go once to his AP’s therapy session! I was furious.

        • I’m in the UK. I have a therapist who is licensed and regulated by The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy. She saved my life and continues to help me to learn so much about myself. I urge any UK chump who feels that therapy could help them to refer to BACP for names.

      • I agree there can be good ones. Unfortunately you don’t know you had a bad one until you are possibly damaged more.

        The only disagreement I would have is psychiatrists, . Psychiatrists are medical doctors and and such fall under the rules and regulations of a governing board for approved treatments etcs.

        MD’s are not all Psychiatrists, but all Psychiatrists are MD’s.

    • I currently see an individual therapist with a trauma informed background, and she’s been very helpful. Another therapist I saw just after I separated was the person who helped me to realize that I was in an abusive marriage.

    • I tend to agree. No real standards. I mean in the medical world yes there are different types of treatments, but there is a standard of behavior, also there is an overriding association/board that reviews. Lots of different consequences for abuse. Doesn’t stop it, but at least gives the patient a fighting chance.

      I did go to a six week counseling group therepy that was run by a large church. But, it was not to reconcile it was to help folks who were thrown into D, and need guidance moving forward with their life. It was a really good session, did a short segment on the D itself, interjected with some humor. Then went on to tell us what we mostly know but in the early throes of pain our minds are not working right.

    • I’m in the UK too Chumpnomore6. My idiot FW got secret counselling on his own, I found out after d day

      He said they had told him he needed to ‘put himself first more and follow his vision’

      That turned out to be, leave his family, to fulfil his dream of being a middle aged cheater, living with his mistress and blowing all our funds on new clothes, holidays and restaurants

    • During the divorce I had about 50 sessions. She did make the odd pertinent remark but basically she listened to 30 years of frustration. I talked for Britain. There was basically no one I felt happy to confide in where the ramifications of them talking elsewhere wouldn’t affect my son’s.

  • I located four different therapists. He refused to return to three of them after his solo sessions. One therapist assigned reading an article from the Gottman Institute. We were living separately and he was “busy”. I actually located a 10 minute Gottman video for us to watch together before a dinner “date”. I think I promised him we wouldn’t talk about it while were eating. He didn’t have much to say about it in the subsequent therapy session either.

  • We never did couples therapy. Yes, I asked for it, being a bit naive. No way, he said. I was the problem. I also read a lot of marriage books that just didn’t do it for me until I found one when we were separated that called out the situation exactly. I already told him no reconciliation, and that book just confirmed it. Chump Lady was later, post-divorce.

    One time when the contempt was so thick that I was barely sane, I told him that it would be nice if he complimented me for something other than dinner and sex. He said that he didn’t believe in flattery. How on earth do you get beyond that? He would also stonewall at times for up to a month. Some months later when he was many states away, I heard about John Gottman’s work in another context, and there were all four Horseman, but the contempt and stonewalling were the worst for me.

    • My ex also refused to go to counseling. He said, “No. There’s nothing they could say that would a difference.” He didn’t lie.

      • I suggested counselling via Relate in the UK, pointing out that they could help us to end the marriage well if that was where we ended up. He refused. But then I found out about the affair. From that moment on I wouldn’t have touched him with a barge pole. He was an abuser and I wanted him gone. He made no attempt to cooperate with the ending of the marriage and he cost me a fortune in legal fees (I’m a lawyer!). It was worth every penny to get shot of him. No kids and I never have to see his ugly face again.

  • Right after I discovered FW’s online affair and about five minutes later realized it was a romance scam, we went to see his therapist and told him what had happened. The therapist said, in front of me, “I have never felt so personally and professionally betrayed,” then explained he taught a class for teens to keep them from falling for online scammers. He didn’t say that FW had been talking to him for months about wanting to find another partner, that his homework for FW was to evaluate if hurting me and our child would be worth it, and that FW had told him that he decided his happiness was more important than our hurt and pain. This man ran the weekly support group we attended for parents and caregivers of children who have been abused. He was supposed to be counseling FW for anger management. Both FW and therapist failed on all counts.

    • Go figure. My ex’s Schmoopie was a family counselor in the Health and Human Services department at the local university. She was the interim dean of the department. Half of my 30-year marriage they fucked around behind my back…. and she had her masters in Psychiatry.

  • First MC right after d-day gave us some worksheets to fill out about our marriage and what we hoped to get out of counselling. I put great effort into mine, cheater-ex did not produce anything. We lasted a few sessions, and stopped after my ex gave the MC a derogatory nickname, for daring to suggest that marriage counselling couldn’t work until the affair partner was out of the picture. I learned later that my ex’s goal for the counselling was to have the MC make me accept an open marriage.

    Second MC after six months of false reconciliation called my ex a coward during our first together session after a solo session each, for not just telling me he wanted a divorce. He hung his head, admitted “yeah, that,” and the MC referred us to a divorce mediator. That was that.

    I am thankful to both MCs for their insight and honesty, instead of just taking our money and trying to convince me it was possible to save a doomed marriage.

    When I was packing up my ex’s things I found his half done worksheets. He had gotten a number of facts wrong about our marriage, had either lied on the worksheet or to me for years about some of his past, and had written a rant about how I was always trying to change him. Silly me for expecting him to behave like a mature adult and be considerate of the person he professed to love.

  • Perhaps I’m jaded but I’ve seen a sadistic side in the RIC therapy. It is in their interest to keep you on a never ending winding road of therapy because we are the commodity. This is their living wages. So I think greed plays a role. If they told you, I’m sorry you were abused and run from this person…well then the hamster wheel of session money would end.

    • Unfortunately I agree. I wish I could have full confidence in these folks, but I just don’t. Not just for infidelity either.

      I do have full trust in my medical drs, because they have no end to their patients whether I go or not. Not that drs can’t abuse; but I am in a network that has always taken good care of me and give me all the info I need.

      • For me, the difference is that medical doctors/dentists/surgeons etcetc are *trained* in something specific and concrete.

        It seems to me therapists are simply people giving their opinion, based on whatever their own issues/ideas might be.

        And as you say, “they have no end to their patients whether I go or not”.

  • During our first two sessions our counselor told my XW she needed to cut all ties with her AP. Of course I knew that wasn’t going to happen since she was his boss, he was our neighbor directly behind us, and he coached youth sports with me.
    We got all the homework to do. Too much work for her apparently as she had to check and see what my answers were to the questions.
    Third session she was a no show claiming she was “busy with work”. Fourth session no show again. This time she said the counselor and I “ganged up on her”. During the sessions our counselor pretty told me I had nothing to work with and it’d be best to divorce her. Still wasn’t totally convinced I could go through with it.
    So I scheduled individual counseling. The one session with her was all I needed. Went home that night and told her to GTFO and walk your ass across the yard.
    Got everything lined up over two months and filed. My lawyer and his assistant said I was the most prepared client they’ve ever had.
    So I got lucky with the great ladies I had as counselors. They helped me see right through her BS.
    4 years out they are married and constantly fighting per the kids who don’t want to be there anymore and I’m single and drama free. 😃

  • So, this is less humor and more terror, but I was given a workbook to go through independently. I don’t want to go back through it now in order to quote it directly because I’m not strong enough to relive it, but I did keep it as evidence of the literal crazy that I’ve been through. It detailed all the “bibilical” reasons that divorce, even in my situation, was unacceptable, and included one particular page I’ll never forget– all the ways to be a loving wife after discovering an affair. One of the authors detailed all the things she did, and it included things like “Bringing him an iced tea an hour after finding out” and “resuming sexual relations with him within a week after finding out.” I literally feel sick thinking about it now.

    I still can’t believe I ever let it get that far.

    • BattleDancing, I can’t believe how little respect I had for myself trying to please the Cheater. I accepted the blame for his abuse. Listened to him as he’d list all my perceived faults. Told me I was revolting, white trash, trailer trash, I’m an ugly f**ing stupid b**tch.
      He claimed to have a list of built up resentments that could never be forgiven.
      He’d say things then deny he said them.
      Cheater almost had me convinced that I was mentally ill.
      I still made his dinner, washed his clothes, cleaned house and tired to please.
      On Dday, which was Mother’s Day, I put a box together of things he might need for his apartment, tp, sheets, paper towels.. Who does that? I had literally lost my mind.

      • I did the same thing Brit. I was like a zombie folding dishtowels and placing housewares in a box for his new apartment after being cheated on and abused for 4 years. I look back on that and do believe I had lost my mind….However, it wasn’t Mother’s Day.

      • After he had moved out, I went with him to the bank to help him create an individual bank account. I even rubbed his back to help relieve his stress while the clerk was creating his account. When he came by the house a few weeks later, I offered him dinner. In fact, one of my Christian counselors told me, “Let him fix his own dinner!” But I couldn’t. We do what we are conditioned to do. It’s very hard to break that mold.

      • Sometimes keeping routines is the brain’s way of protecting itself, I think. I definitely did some things along those likes in the separation process. I do them no longer, and I’m sure you’re there now too.

        PS: I kicked mine out on Mother’s Day too.

  • I found out about the affair with his boss when our second daughter was three weeks old a few days before Christmas. He started having sex with her without protection during the second trimester sometime. Even though I hadn’t been cleared to have sex yet by my obgyn, no STI testing had been done, and I was crying so hard I couldn’t breathe, the therapist advised that I have sex with or at least assist my husband with his needs ASAP. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing and insisted that we wait to be tested and my doctor clear me. In retrospect, I should have walked out of that first session and found a lawyer. Every time I would have sex with that man in the following weeks, I would start to silently cry. He didn’t care and was able to finish.

    • I am so so so sorry. That was horrific for you. That therapist should have their license revoked and your ex is disordered. I’m so sory.

    • I want to strangle your therapist and your ex. That’s horrific. I hope you reported that therapist and told the licensing board exactly what you wrote here.

  • He nagged and badgered me to go to post-departure co-parenting therapy with him. For a year and a half. I said I do not want to go because I went to therapy with him our entire relationship, to AVOID the mess he created. Because he lies, he does not follow the directions, and evidently learns nothing. I finally caved in and went, but picked the best one I could find.

    (Our daughter’s therapist had made the request that we go, so that is why I finally agreed to go).

    We went OCT 2020 to FEB 2022. What happened? Months and 12K later?

    He lied. He didn’t do one single thing he was asked to do. He evidently learned nothing.

    BUT

    Dr. Kickass Co-Parent was putting him in the frypan and validating me. Every single session was the Velvet Hammer Validation Hour. That’s what I got out of it and it was worth the money. I quit going in FEB when it was revealed (no surprise) that he had continued to lie lie lie. He revealed exactly who he was, who I thought he was, who I said he was. Which to me is chump gold, the ultimate antidote to all the gaslighting and crazy making.

    Why did he go? So he could look good and say he went. Even though he lied, did not do one single thing he was asked to do, and evidently learned nothing. So he can tell people he went and “it didn’t work.”

    They are profoundly sick people.

  • Two hands in the air. My ex wife told me we were going to marriage counseling or she would divorce me. It turned into everything I needed to do or fix. According to her, it made her realize that she still loved me 🙄🙄🙄. What she failed to mention was she was having an affair and that “our” daughter wasn’t mine (she did a paternity test with the AP). So when DDay came 14 years later I refused to go to marriage counseling and filed for divorce instead.

    • I got a manifesto from the FW with his demands on what I needed to fix. He, of course, didn’t need to fix anything.

    • At 46 and already starting to have menopause symptoms XW tells me she is pregnant. A few weeks later she miscarries. I didn’t know it at the time, but she was having sex with dark skinned, brown eyed co-worker. We are both fair skinned, blue eyed. What a mess this could have been. What secret complicated grief for her. I didn’t put this altogether for a few years, but despite all she had done a part of me still loved her enough to feel sympathy for her self inflicted plight.

  • Session 1 (couple): MC asks about our backgrounds (family, relationships, etc.) and spends a lot of time probing the Kunty Kibbler about her unresolved FOO issues. KK spends the entire ride home complaining: “See? I KNEW it was going to turn into a ‘dump on KK’ session, I just KNEW it!”

    Session 2 (couple): KK spends 50 minutes with a red face, on the verge of tears, but repeating the words “I don’t know” to virtually every question asked about the marriage.

    Session 3 (couple): KK was caught 2 days prior trying to sneak the Carrot Singer into the house for a midday fuckfest. She starts the session with “Well, I fucked up . . .” and starts opening up about the usual litany of gripes: “Haven’t been happy in a long time,” “I don’t feel like I can be the KK I was always meant to be,” etc.

    Session 4 was supposed to be a couples session, but I’ve caught her texting a new target and told her “that’s it, I’ve had it.” We agree to keep this session to get advice from MC about a strategy for explaining to our daughters, but KK takes it upon herself to tell them the every next night, when I’m out of the house. She no-shows to the booked session, texting “I don’t see the point now.”

    MC asks if I’d like to continue with her for individual counseling, and I say yes. She says: “OK officially, from this point forward, I am working with you alone as a personal therapist. It’s recorded. Now that that’s out the way, let me tell you what you’re dealing with here . . .”

    And I spend the next few months starting the road to recovery.

    • Similar experience Ux. After multiple individual and tumultuous couple sessions with then wife, she announces she is done and wants to go ahead with divorce. Counselor suggest she and I meet individually. When I came back she tells me divorce is the best possible outcome, because my wife was deeply troubled and I couldn’t fix her. This was extremely validating and healing in the long term.

  • I never went to marriage counseling with the ex. Despite not (then) seeing the ways that he manipulated me into believing I was “the one with all the problems” in our marriage, and therefore “the one who caused all the problems in the marriage,” and therefore the one who needed to do more and give more and support him more, I somehow knew–intuited–that if I went to marriage counseling with him somehow I would be made into the scapegoat for our problems.
    My intuition was borne out when we did go briefly to joint counseling because our son was flailing around, and out of the blue the (now)ex ambushed me with comments about our sex life (I stopped sharing a bed with him after he woke me several times at night masturbating in the bed right next to me). I felt accused and humiliated. But of course just as with his serial “crushes” on other women and his keeping his sexual secrets from me for thirty-five years, including his cross dressing and the sexual excitement he derived from it, he saw nothing to apologize to me for, then or now.
    I am so glad to be out of that clusterfuck of a marriage and away from that profoundly disordered man.

  • So, so many fails. TBH, I feel like they reflect just as poorly on me — for sticking around. It just got worse and worse.

    Right after dday 1 (tip of the iceberg revealed, but I was destroyed nonetheless), I only agreed to talk to/go to MC with FW because he professed his undying love, begged me to take him back after his “mistake,” and said his “brief fling” with an “inconsequential” young OW was over. I was disgusted and disappointed and unsure what I wanted, but I decided to at least give it a chance. I was pretty shocked when, after our date during which I was nauseatingly demure and restrained (homework: go on a date and keep it light… you know, don’t talk about anything difficult), I learned in therapy that FW had not ended things. After I trusted him and held up my end of the bargain, even though it made me feel submissive and ashamed to do so. Ah, the early days of pick me and PTSD, when most of the truth still hadn’t trickled out (i.e. been uncovered by me) and I didn’t yet trust he sucked. I still felt righteous and had some sense of equality and right/wrong.

    My favorite fail from this time period was when we were asked in therapy to share what we loved about each other. After I went first and was genuine and generous, FW got uncomfortable, then mumbled something about an argument we had on a bike trip. I was heartbroken and mortified. Of course, when it came to Hoovering and intermittent rewards, FW showered me with earnest-sounding, original and affectionate compliments.

    Another: One-on-one with the MC, he came up with a sob story confession about how he couldn’t do intimacy and didn’t really “get” how to be romantic. His homework was to work on being more romantic: flowers, sweet compliments, intimate connection, etc (which he had been capable of in the early days, even though he was always immature and unskilled with intimacy). He failed, was a passive aggressive gaslighter, and made me feel totally undesirable. So later, his cheesy, pornographic emails to OW’s were all the more revolting to come across. It helped show me just how intentionally manipulative and malicious FW really was.

    Fast forward several months, to when I moved back in during the pandemic. Boiled frog. The abuse was normalized and I had put myself in a powerless position. At this point, I knew FW had been leading a double life with at least two OWs for at least seven years. It was finally getting to the breaking point for me, and when the MC gave an ultimatum that FW get on the computer and show me everything as soon as our virtual session ended (i.e. that he had deleted everything), he wept, held my hand and wholeheartedly agreed it was necessary and fair. And then we ended the session and he turned back into a mean, controlling gaslighter… and somehow “we” ended up having a “fight” and it never happened.

    And then, when the MC called him out point blank on his BS and gave him the homework to take the padlocks off the door to his room and office, or at the very least make sure I could always access the keys — he agreed. And then did not. He proceeded to go on TWO trips, leaving me to take care of everything while he conveniently “forgot” and took the keys with him.

    It is ALL so bizarre and so unacceptable. Always shocking to write it down. It’s like looking back on a nightmare, or as if I was brainwashed or in a cult.

    • Unfortunately, your story is so common here on CN. I hope you find a great counselor to help you heal from such a covert narcissist.

  • I never considered therapy because in my mind, I shouldn’t have to coerce you into loving me properly. I understand why some of us would but I could never get over that mental image.

    I did, however, ask him why he even liked me on many occasions (presented as very pick me but it was a genuine question at that point). He could never answer and when I left, he shat out a list of about five things that were all in service of him (I like it when you smile at my jokes) and were absolutely nothing to do with me as a person.

    Sometimes people do tell you the truth.

    • Mine told me he couldn’t think of anything he liked about me (this was after I’d been dumped but before I found out about the affair). Now I can’t think of anything I liked about him!

      • I think that’s often how it turns out. I always treated him with respect but I eventually realised that the only time I ever regarded him in a positive light was thinking of how good he’d been in bed before the withdrawal.

        Dick is ten-a-penny though and thankfully I only invested time rather than anything binding.

  • Didn’t bother with FW#1. FW#2 insisted we go since I had “intimacy issues” ever since his hooker habit was discovered. I remember talking openly about my reluctance to have sex with the FW, the counselor asked me if I had any idea why, and I started to bring up the hooker habit. I glanced at the FW, and he was shaking his head rapidly and trying to communicate, “don’t tell him THAT!!”. I got exasperated, and said, “Look, if we don’t tell him the TRUTH, why are we even here?!” What a waste of time and money.

    FW#3 actually set up appointments, but I think it was to get somebody else to agree with him that I was messed up, which, of course, would be justification for his cheating on me (in his head). The last appointment we had together was after he had convinced the therapist I was bi-polar. He told the therapist that I would cyclically “lose it”. So… went to the therapist, and told him that, yes, I would cyclically “lose it” because FW would cyclically cross boundaries we had put into place. My “losing it” was a response to the boundaries being violated.

    Ah-hah. The therapist glanced at FW, who was squirming uncomfortably. Then I addressed the therapist and told him I resented being asked what my 50% of the problem was in our marriage, actually that I resented being asked what ANY of the problem was. I gave him a direct quote from one of the wonderful member of CN: “ONE person is capable of destroying a marriage all. by. themselves.” Thank you, CN!! To his credit, the therapist nodded, and said that, yes, he had seen that.

    In my experience, FWs only go to therapy for imagine management, since, in their opinion, they are SPLENDID, and have no intention of actually doing the heavy lifting to actually change.

  • I wouldn’t say it qualifies as therapy, but early on in my marriage (less than 2 years in, parents of an infant, before any suspicions of cheating had arisen) I turned to the pastor of the church we had been attending. I was confused and brokenhearted over the myriad ways my husband was devaluing me, ostensibly because I was still carrying around some “baby weight.”
    Hubs had told me before we married, “Whatever you do, don’t get fat, because I hate fat women and I don’t want a fat wife.”
    Well this gem of a pastor said to me: “Try to lose some weight, and maybe for every 5 lbs you lose, your husband can reward you by taking you out on a date.”
    Excuse me while I laugh my fat ass off.
    For context, I was NOT fat – 5’2″ and maybe 135 lbs – but I spent another decade-and-a-half in that marriage, believing I was fat and unattractive, unfit to be seen with in public, which led to a whole bunch of disordered habits around food.
    Hubs has been my ex for 12 years now. I am both heavier and happier than I ever was while married.
    And I take MYSELF on dates.

      • Thank you, chumpedlindyhopper! Yes, my marriage was one long daily heartbreak. But, for that reason, when D-Day occurred 18 years in, it was easy for me to walk away.

    • I am also heavier and happier than I ever was while married to the fuckwit. Good for you! I’m so sorry you had a lousy pastor!

  • 👋👋 Two hands here. We got homework directing us to “talk to each other more.” On the 45 minute ride home, he spoke nonstop, giving me his thoughts about the buildings & scenery. I finally asked him if he could be quiet so I could think to myself. Then he got pissed & said “I’m doing what she told me to – talking more!”

    • We left our marriage therapy weekend and he was chatty and seemed all happy…like he had punched the card and was done. He told me that it would be helpful for us as a couple if I would try to be a better daughter to my narc/abusive/alcoholic parents. I felt doom that day and I LITERALLY had ZERO guess that he was cheating.

      I now see the “work on your relationship with your parents” as the worst of the worst possible Wild Goose Chases he could have possibly encouraged.I am sure I didnt even try to do that but I now realize that he just wanted to occupy me so he could do as he pleased

  • Oh I can play, I have a good one!
    The therapist asked him what he loved the most about me. He said “the pop culture connection we have. We laugh about the same stuff on reddit. I also like how hard she tries to make things work between us.”

    I am at meh but three years ago, after the discard, it took ages and ages of therapy (the assignment was “write three things you love about yourself” or “write three things you are good at”) to remember my self-worth and everything I brought to the table. I had spent the years before being constantly devaluated by my so-called “partner”.
    I am a kickass human! I am mighty!

  • Therapist asked to first speak with us individually then together. We went to our separate appointments. I thought it was strange that Cheater’s appointment lasted beyond the scheduled hour. Our third appointment Cheater and I went together. Cheater sits down next to me and starts rubbing my shoulders and my back which is out of character.
    The therapist sits down in front of us, and asks how we are, Cheater still rubbing my back says to the therapist, with tears in his eyes, she’s beautiful, isn’t she beautiful? isn’t she beautiful? Therapist finally acknowledges cheater and replies, yes she’s beautiful. ..(eye roll). Cheater says I have a beautiful smile… meanwhile I”m thinking this is really weird.
    Therapist then looks over at me and says, you’re a lucky woman. You have a great guy who loves you. Do you know how many women out there would love to have a husband like him? Every time I went to speak the therapist interrupted with what a great guy cheater is.
    The therapist ended the session with, Mrs. Brit you need to cut back on your drinking. I tried asking where that came from but was ignored while Cheater and the therapist went into a conversation about baseball and flying, laughing like old friends.

    Cheater and I got into the car, cheater burst sout laughing and says guess we don’t need to make a follow up appointment. He won. that’s all that mattered.

  • Raising both hands as went with FW, not knowing he was a cheater (his idea too) go figure

    I got gems like ‘I hope you haven’t ticked the box that you are having an affair’ WTAF 😱 and ‘it’s like you don’t want to be happy’

    Oh yeah, I love being miserable me. On the plus side, we had a rare one who tore him off several strips and both the counsellor and I had no clue he cheated

    He kept saying it was all so pointless because I wasn’t happy and he couldn’t make me so

    She tore him off for ‘liking to relax after work’ and said what about your wife

    He said he wasn’t going to listen to anything she said, as she was no expert. She literally was

  • I did not know he was a cheater. I was jealous of Schmoopie, but they were just friends and I had a jealousy problem blablabla. So we ended up in therapy to discuss the issue. I was more than happy to try and resolve it (remember they were just friends and it was just me being insecure). We both knew the therapist before as she had treated us separately for other issues (unrelated to the couple).

    So he told her how I got mad because he spontaneously went for dinner with Schmoopie. He sent a text to let me know in the moment, so cue me waiting at home. When he came home, I told him calmly I was angry and I didn’t like his going out for dinner with her like that. He said if it was a guy I’d have had no problem, which was true. So I shut up. He then told our therapist that it was just me, that there was nothing between them AND if one of them was to fall for the other, it would be Schmoopie falling for him and not the other way round. (Yes, insert eye-roll here, if you haven’t inserted one before).

    So after this I said “Are you finished, or is there anything you want to add?” He said he had nothing to add. I asked if he was sure. He said yes. So then I told my therapist “Everything he has just told you is true.” Then I turned to him and said “But I wonder why you’re only telling her the part that makes you look good”. You should have seen the look on his face. And then I asked him “Why don’t you tell her the way you arranged the room when you went on the trip to City1?” (It was FW, Schmoopie, and another male friend. They reserved one room to save money. With two beds. FW and Schmoopie shared a bed.) He told out therapist this. “And what happened there?” I asked. He admitted they playfully rolled each other out of the bed for a while. Of course, I knew these things because he had told me before!

    Then I asked “Why don’t you tell her what I said when I went with my friends to City2 and you asked if Schmoopie could stay the weekend?” (For those who don’t know, Schmoopie was a mutual friend -so I thought!- and had lived for a month and a half in our house. PLUS we had hosted another girlfriend of mine for a month and half before that with zero issues). “She said she was happy Schmoopie could stay the weekend so she could help me if necessary”. This was because he had been injured and in pain for many months.

    Then my therapist simply blurted out to him “You need to take a step back. This friendship has obviously become a problem”. He explicitly refused.

    I very honestly, and very stupidly, thought he was really confused. I thought this exchange would finally prove my point. But now I wonder why I didn’t end the relationship right there and then, because this was when I realised he was trying to make me look bad for his own gain, but I was unable to see it for what it was. After this we carried on – me feeling awful and he telling me it was my insecurities/jealousy.

    During my long, long phase of self-blaming post-discard I asked the same therapist “But maybe he IS right. Maybe I do have a jealousy problem, and I just don’t realise?” and she answered “Of course you do. You have a jealousy problem that only pops up when it’s convenient for him”.

    She isn’t working anymore, but I miss her dearly.

  • My husband also said that he didn’t want to go to counseling because he knew they would tell him he is wrong and that he wasn’t going to change. He arrogantly thought that I should just put up with his abuse and cheating. When he finally did go to a counselor he lied to her about his cheating and she believed him! He said he felt that I didn’t give him enough attention or care about him and she asked why he thought that. My husband answered saying “She forgot to pick up my dry cleaning”! So basically he rationalized his cheating on the fact that I remembered to pick up my kids at school but forgot his dry cleaning. She looked at me and said, “he said he was sorry”. She never once questioned him about the frequency of his cheating or his 10 plus years of chatroom activity. He also had Tinder on his ipad but said he never used it. (eyeroll…he thinks I am an idiot) He went to another counselor on his own to prove to me that his chatroom activity/sexting was normal and I asked him if he also mentioned to the counselor that he had sex in cars with women that he met on airplanes and he said “hmmm, I don’t think I told her that”. It is absolutely pointless to go to counseling with cheating, abusive narcissists. I have successfully left my soon to be ex-husband and it is killing him that he no longer has control over me, communication with me and is losing a ton of money. It is driving him crazy.

  • Oh boy. Our MC wanted us to write goals for each other/our marriage. I put things like trust building, empathy, etc etc. This is what he wrote:

    “In exchange for swearing off all other women ever,
    And sex on demand at all times

    I want

    Casino privileges restored
    Fidelity ATM card back
    Sleep in guest bed whenever I wish
    2 dates per week at trendy restaurant, pick up joint, strip club, etc to check out people
    An ongoing discussion of advancing your sexuality”

    By advancing my sexuality he wanted me to allow him to choke me and to (you guessed it) have a 3 way with the prostitute with whom he’d been smitten. Hard pass. 😝🤮

    • What is it with these men that think they are entitled to sex any time they want it? Buddy–you need to make me want it–demanding it is a HUGE turn off!!

    • Faithful Rage…oh. my. freaking. god.

      Okay, you all ready for this one? Fuckwit wanted to suddenly quit his job (our only income at the time, and it was because he was screwing coworkers and about to get busted) and we would lose our insurance. I was being tested for suspected Lupus and was quite sick. I asked him if he could please hold out a bit longer or look for another gig (“impossible! i can’t do that”) so we could hold insurance. His reply? in front of our daughter? “ok I’ll stay working but in exchange i can do anything i want with anyone and have as many affairs as i want and you have to do three ways with me.”

      Nope. Nope. Nope.Nope Nope. But dear daughter wigged out and started some scary self destruction. I will always hate him.

      • Wow, if there were a shitbag olympics he would definitely get a medal. So sorry for you and your daughter.

  • my X has a skewed idea of therapy in that he doesn’t believe in it, never has. “you should just know how to communicate well” and “there are bad therapists, you know. i heard it from my sister (the psychiatrist) who also doesn’t believe in therapy” and “if you have to go to marital therapy, your relationship is just too hard of work” etc. etc.

    i think it’s about keeping secrets, really. and a trip to the therapists is a threat to a whole system of keeping secrets. in our family, the secret is addiction and my X didn’t want to be labelled as such, even though he grudgingly agreed he’s a “high functioning” alcoholic. sounds better than a straight up alcoholic, right? because if he admitted the fact fully, he’d have to admit his whole family is addicted, and then share their family dysfunction. embarrassing.

    i mean, he’s likely harbouring other secrets, too. i have my suspicions, ideas, but will never know, nor do i truly wish to know, really.

    i freely share that we are dealing with alcoholism in our family and this drives my X nuts. i have set up systems to try to safeguard my future because my X could crater at any time.

    i have a therapist and both my kids see their therapists, and we discuss important things in a timely fashion. fuck ups occur, of course. but, overall, it’s a healthy thing going on here.

  • Our therapist’s advice was “fake it til you make it”. What she and I both didn’t know was that “faking it” wasn’t his problem. Neither was “making it”, at least not with multitude of affair partners he had.

  • I shared this story before, but it was so heinous that I’m sharing it again. After finding out about my ex-wife’s first four affairs (we were married for 9 years, together for 10 and the affairs happened both when we were dating and after we got married, and I’m sure now there were more than just four). She vehemently insisted that behavior was in the past — she had gone to individual therapy and was seeing a “spiritual advisor”. We then went to marriage counseling, as I was fully chumping it up, pick me dancing, and wanting to “save my family”.

    I was also suffering from some horrible PTSD and anxiety, not sleeping, lost a lot of weight, and had developed an auto-immune disease which my doctor attributed directly to stress.

    Before therapy, my biggest concern was that my ex-wife was still lying (thousands upon thousands of lies to cover up the first affairs), and I also had that internal feeling that she was still cheating. Our therapist made us both sign an affidavit of truth, stating that everything we were discussing in therapy was the 100% truth and that nothing was still being hidden. We both signed.

    One of the exercises we did was to address my PTSD. I felt completely unsafe (obviously), so the three of us sat in a circle (me, ex, therapist), and both of them said to me directly and repeatedly, “You are safe now. There is nothing left to be afraid about. The truth is out in the open. Healing can begin now. You are safe. You are safe.” We repeated this exercise for several sessions.

    Well, as I found out just a few weeks later, I was not actually safe. My ex was engaging in a 2.5-year affair with her boss both at the time of the affidavit signing and during the PTSD exercises. I found out due to a secret meeting she arranged with him that was supposedly just a work meeting/conference. I secretly drove by the location (restaurant) and she was sitting outside, just the two them (no other employees), flirting, touching, etc… I confronted her about it, she finally admitted it, saying that they were in love (he was also married with children, just like she was).

    When we went back to therapy, I asked her to explain to the therapist that she was lying this whole time, which she did. I explained to the therapist that I now felt double traumatized due her little “exercise” and that I actually felt more traumatized now since the lying and cheating has happened again, this time in deliberate exercise designed to make me feel safe.

    Instead of apologizing, the therapist said that she couldn’t see us anymore, that this was the last meeting, and good luck to us whatever path we chose going forward.

    Colossal wasted of 9 months of weekly appointments along with several thousand dollars in co-pays. About 6 months later I moved out and we are now divorced and I am so much happier and healthier, but couples therapy was the worst decision I could have ever made and I would not recommend it to anyone. DONT DO IT, CHUMPS!

    • Oh my God. So sorry. Thank God you got out. That is so sad. Everyday away from that is a blessing.

    • “couples therapy was the worst decision I could have ever made”
      I agree!
      Thankfully we had a somewhat ethical therapist who stopped counseling with the X, once she found out he was lying. I say somewhat, because I had stopped going (because it was not improving anything) and she never enquired of me why I stopped going. Maybe she asked FW why & believed him. He was so believable! I bet he felt like he conned her too, that’s why he kept going, to get more kibbles. “She thinks I’m working hard.” But she never knew what he was not telling her!

  • We never made it to therapy. I remember demanding therapy after I found out he’d had affairs with several people who were our “friends.” But these affairs had happened years ago so I was supposed to just get over it. I was angry and humiliated and demanded he go to therapy.

    He backed me into a corner until I was huddled on the floor crying and screamed everything he considered wrong with me into my face. Told me everything the therapist was going to tell me was wrong with me. Then asked if I was sure I wanted to go to therapy. He made it sound like I was going to be beaten in therapy. It was a threat.

    Then thanks to the cognitive impairment of untreated pernicious anemia, I promptly forgot that happened. Like the guy in Momento. Getting my memories back has been both a blessing and a curse. I don’t think he realized I truly did not remember. He thought I was just weak. No, I was just dying. That’s all.

    • I’m so sorry for your abuse. Not only infidelity, but physical. You were dying. I’m glad you’re not. I hope you’re able to enjoy life now.

  • My favorite story doesn’t involve me, but my parents.

    My father is a full on malignant narcissist. He was controlling and abusive to my mom, flirted with other women all the time, and when she eventually had enough and wanted to discuss divorce, he kidnapped me for three days to force her to agree to stay. He was Catholic, so they went to Catholic marriage counseling at the urging of his parents.

    They did several sessions, and he did none of the work. He saw nothing wrong with himself or how he treated her. He had plenty of criticism of her and how she was overreacting to everything and blaming him when really she just wasn’t being a very good wife. (Ridiculous – she did everything for him.) He felt he had every right to abuse her or chat up other women if she wasn’t being the perfect slave for him.

    This poor Catholic priest did everything to try to save the marriage, but after months of sessions, the *Catholic priest* counselor told them that in his professional opinion they needed to get a divorce! When even a Catholic priest is telling you that you’re such a FW that you need a divorce, you know it’s serious!

    • I went to my priest and wanted to ask for absolution because I wasn’t going to keep my vows. I was divorcing my adulterous husband. I gave him quite an eye opener of the crap I was dealing with. He said, “You!!!! What about him!!!!” I said, “Father, I’m not here for him. I’m here for me.” He said, “Well in this case, I think God will understand!!!”

  • So many therapy fails over 2 failed months (and about $3K in fees). Some of my favorites:
    – The therapist and FW STBXW agreed that FW may have had the affair out of a need to “fix” the AP who was kind of a loser scumbag that slept with several married women. I guess she figured the BJs in her car (that I paid for) were therapeutic for him!
    – The FW wanted to keep a journal of our sessions (she only made 1 entry). It opened with something along the lines of “… the first session was helpful. We discussed many things about our marriage that needed to be fixed like communication, expressing our feelings, and the infidelity.” Yes, don’t forget about the infidelity, F-in’ FW!
    – But, my favorite was when the therapist and FW STBXW decided that a valid cause of her cheating may have been that I was just too “academic” (I’m a former professor) and she needed to find someone more “on her level.” I guess being a smart guy is a valid reason for your wife to go seek some strange! Bottom line, therapy with FWs is indeed a joke. Hell, if I had my $3K back I’d probably offer to split it with the FW STBXW out of principle.

  • Listening to some stupid hours long CDs by some guy named Stan Tatkin who wanted to blame my ex’s wandering penis on the fact that his mother never looked him in the face as a baby.

    • “Listening to some stupid hours long CDs by some guy named Stan Tatkin who wanted to blame my ex’s wandering penis on the fact that his mother never looked him in the face as a baby.”

      Found this:

      ” Stan Tatkin, PsyD, MFT, is a clinician, researcher, teacher, and developer of a Psycho biological Approach to Couple Therapy. PACT is a polytheoretical, non-linear approach to dyadic systems that integrates developmental neuroscience, arousal regulation, and attachment theory. PACT encourages partners to adopt secure-functioning principles of behavior apart from their actual attachment organization”.

      😂🤣🤮😂😂

      Now there’s a nice big heaping plateful of word salad gobbledegook.

      I think your critique is more concise. 😁

      • Reads like those nonsensical paragraphs written to make fun of managers who speak in solid business jargon.

      • “blame my ex’s wandering penis on the fact that his mother never looked him in the face as a baby”
        I heard it twice, once from FW and once from his mom (both in very serious tones) that he was very traumatized in HS when he was cut from the basketball team.

        And I was the kid raised by an alcoholic and I didnt cheat

  • The comment CL quoted reminded me of when I was trying to decide whether to allow ex back home when he said he would spend the rest of his life making it up to me, I asked what were some of the things he loved about me — he couldn’t answer, not one thing.
    They don’t love our personalities or heart. They ‘love’ what they perceive to be a benefit to them at the time they ‘commit’.

    • It’s amazing they can’t think of one single thing they love about us to say. Incredible.
      He did say I was a “good mother”, but that was actually passive aggressively delivered, since he only wrote it in a birthday or anniversary card, when he knew( told him many many times it hurt me) I wanted to hear what I meant to HIS life, not how incredible I was at establishing a second home in my SUV running countless school aged activities.
      He was making the point I didn’t do enough for him, but wow, did the kids get a good mom. What a smuck!
      I still get annoyed if someone tells me I’m a good mother now, feels like a masked insult, haha!
      On my 25th wedding anniversary I wrote a list of the 25 things I loved about him, so many notes and cards expressing my love over the years it could fill closets.
      He did tell me once, he had plans someday to tell me all the things that were special about me and why he loved me.
      He may have been waiting to surprise me on my death bed, when all I would be listening for was instructions from God!

  • Not a marital therapy story, but one relating to family therapy between Ex-Mrs LFTT and our youngest daughter.

    About 4 years ago, our daughter’s Doctor diagnosed her with anxiety issues that had developed into depression and OCD as a result of her relationship with Ex-Mrs LFTT. He referred our daughter to a family therapist who recommended a couple of sessions with just the daughter and then bringing Ex-Mrs LFTT into the next ten or so sessions to help our daughter work through her issues, which were significant.

    The first two sessions saw our daughter (then 14) explain to her therapist the full horrors of her mother’s lies, manipulation and gaslighting …. in particular Ex-Mrs LFTT’s continued denials about having had an affair in the first place (the affair was discovered by our youngest daughter), that Ex-Mrs LFTT still refused to accept that her actions had impacted any of the children and the way that she had been forcing the children to develop a relationship with her AP (who Ex-Mrs LFTT was by then living with) but very much against the children’s wishes; Ex-Mrs LFTT had gone as far as to say that the kids’ refusal to have anything to do with the AP was putting her relationship with him under pressure and that, should they break up, it would be the kids fault.

    In the first (and only session) that our daughter and Ex-Mrs LFTT both attended was a complete sh*tshow. Ex-Mrs LFTT spent the whole session interrupting and contradicting our daughter, refused point blank to admit to having done anything wrong and refused to accept that her behaviour towards our daughter was causing her distress …. she just wanted to know why our daughter had not been put on anti-depressants yet. At the end of the session the therapist asked Ex-Mrs LFTT to sit in the waiting room and then turned to our daughter and said “to continue therapy with your mother would be harmful to you; she is incapable of doing what she needs to do to help you and I refuse to work with her further.”

    Thankfully, the relationship between our daughter and the therapist was strong enough for them to work to together for the next two and a bit years, putting our daughter in a much better place than she had been before. Her relationship with her mother is no better than it was, but – critically – she has a much better understanding of who her mother is and how to put in place and enforce boundaries to protect herself.

    LFTT

    • How wonderful for your daughter to have had such a protective and caring therapist. And a protective and caring father as well. I hope she’s very healthy in spite of Ex-Mrs LFTT. Your ex sounds like a very horrible person. I’m happy that you have a daughter out of your marriage, but I can see how difficult it has been for her to overcome the obstacles, and will have to continue to overcome them, for as long as Ex-Mrs LFTT is alive.

      • AC,

        My daughter’s therapist was fantastic and, I believe, a real life saver for her; she was in a very dark place and, while not yet fully healed, she is doing really well now. Of our 3 children, 2 of them have had significant mental health issues directly attributed to Ex-Mrs LFTT’s behaviour towards them.

        As regards Ex-Mrs LFTT, even though she knew that our daughter’s therapy was helping, she further undermined it by putting our youngest on a huge guilt trip about how she couldn’t afford to cover half of the cost of the therapy. This was despite me soaking up the whole cost of the therapy as the bills arrived and allowing Ex-Mrs LFTT to pay off the debt that she was accumulating over time and at a rate that she said that she could afford. Youngest daughter actually wanted to pull out of the therapy because of the “pressure it was putting Mum under” …… I had to agree to cover the whole cost (which was significant) before she would agree to continue.

        You can imagine how I felt (and still feel) about that; not only did Ex-Mrs LFTT lack the moral courage and character to do what was needed to address the problems she’d caused for our daughter by participating in the therapy in an honest, open and constructive manner, she was quite happy to cheap out and not pay for it either.

        LFTT

  • In an effort to distant and detach himself from the process, even after three therapy sessions, he said “You know I don’t really like this woman. She’s not some one I would normally talk to – like at a cocktail party”
    #therapyfails

  • I didn’t do any counseling with FW – I knew it was pointless as I was done with him on D-day.

    His cheap-ass actually paid the $399 for RIC counseling. I had him blocked, but he still emailed me occasionally and I ignored them.

    WELL, the asshole decided that as part of a 12-step program he was supposed to “Contact those who have been hurt, unless doing so would harm the person.” He took that to mean he was going to contact ALL of my family, friends, and coworkers. He never hurt them. He didn’t even know my siblings since they are all scattered across the country.
    He went to my old workplace (that’s how I found out, they thought he was being creepy) and called my siblings, including the one I’m estranged from and others that had no idea what happened.

    So that forced me to confront him – only through email. It was an ALL CAPS shouting email. I was pissed.

    He’s lucky my good brother lives 3 states away, he would’ve kicked his lying ass.

  • My therapist was wonderful. She was a marriage counselor but fuckwit only came to one session. She would tell me “your marriage is over” and “you’re not angry enough yet”. I was still pick me dancing. Then fuckwit crossed the line and I was done. The therapist told me “now you’re angry” and proceeded to coach me on the steps I needed to take to get my ducks in a row and get divorced.

    • “She would tell me “your marriage is over” and “you’re not angry enough yet”.”

      My preacher said the same thing to me “you need to get angry” I was dealing with anger, but was trying to “take the high road” I learned quickly that you can be angry and take the high road. So I called and made an appoint with the best family law firm in the big city next to ours. I didn’t want a lawyer from my city, because he knew too many people.

  • When asked how it felt when I left for the night–when D-Day hit–he said “it felt weird”. After that session, on the way home, I asked why he only said it felt “weird”–like why did he not say he missed me or anything. His answer “I can’t tell the therapist that. I can’t be honest in front of her.”
    OMG–then why was I trying to be??

  • Gosh, so many. Of course, like everyone else here, MC with the FW was always going to fail, because he lied and lied and lied and lied… to his own counselors and to our 4 (yes, FOUR) MCs. A few things stand out: me asking him to read a book on porn use/abuse (one of the only sources I found that actually had a chapter showing what it is like from the spouse’s point of view, why it can be so harmful to a marriage and a spouse)– he asked if I would give him a brief summary of it. Later, our 3rd MC recommended a book; had to buy a second copy because he couldn’t read it if I was also reading it… never read it. I threw both copies in the trash when I was cleaning out our house for sale. He asked me to come in for a couple of sessions with the personal counselor he had been seeing for years.. the guy who told him everything would be fine if he just meditated enough (my ex was, of course, lying to him too…). The counselor asked me if “there is room in your marriage for EX to fall apart.” I said “Oh, like him getting into rehab for a while? Sure! I’ve been asking for him to deal with his addiction issues for years!” to which they both said “no no no!” I was then told that I needed to listen to my now-ex with compassionate attention while he talked in word-salad circles… not that the therapist knew that was happening, but I did. That’s when I realized that my now-ex had been feeding the counselor tons of lies about me and I said I was never going back. These FWs, they are all the same.

    • Sheesh. It’s like therapists don’t know that proven liars lie.

      My FW insisted meditation would cure all his problems too.
      You can guess how that worked out.

  • I can so relate to the comment above. Of all the things in the world my ex-spouse could’ve said about me, he told our therapist “she is always there for me.” I took that to be code for doormat. I grew mighty from this blog and your book and now he is seeking someone else(s) who will always there for him. I am a chump and I’m going to always be there for me, my kids and friends who are kind and see me.

  • Therapy fail from the therapist, who we went to because of a whole “Facebook gate” and one year later he didn’t even remember we were there because of it.

    He was supposed to help us work through the truth of the FB content the cheater was still hiding, but I will die never knowing (doesn’t matter, cause I ended finding out more stuff on my own and it was enough for me to walk away!)

  • Saw two couples’ therapists together and Ex turned BOTH of them against me. The first of the therapists told me that what ex does on her own time is her own business and, so long as she comes back to me afterwards, I need to stop controlling her…. I had spent months before that moment explaining how we had not agreed to any kind of open relationship, I was NOT okay with it and did not consent to it, and that ex sleeping with others (countless others with zero protection) put my life at risk because I’m immunocompromised. And this therapist STILL said this to me.

  • When the counselor (one visit – 40 years – he agreed to one visit in that time)…….counselor asked him if he wanted to be married. He said of course, he loved me, of course he wanted to be married.

    About a month later we were fighting in the driveway as I was crying, trying to leave. I asked if he remembered that moment in the counselorsl office – why did he say that? What did he mean?

    “I thought it was the right answer.”

    In retrospect, this statement tells me SO much. Everything we had together was what he determined should be the “right answer” in life. It was never anything about love or about me. The wife appliance.

  • We went to some marriage mediator just a couple of sessions I recall, about 7 years before we got divorced.
    I had just learned of his cheating and lies and was sooo devastated and flabbergasted by it. Did he have a stroke or something?!
    I saw the sessions as our chance to resolve some conflicts and avoid divorce. I poured my heart and hurts out maybe four sessions (I had discovered on his phone, he was looking at real estate to buy a townhouse for one of his gf’s of the last SIX years in Maine, bought a car for yet another mistress, and on and on, all mind blowing, surreal disclosures to me. ( married 31 years at that time, loved the hell out of him)
    He sat there as quiet as a church mouse in those mediations and intently listened to my revealing outpourings.
    He is not even close to a quiet man. Very difficult to ever argue with him at all, he’s like a fast talking/thinking NY lawyer, it was always intimidating trying to keep up, an incredibly fast ( and deceitful!) mind.
    I now realize with my perfect 20/20 hindsight, what was going on. He used those sessions to go further stealth on me and find out what I actually knew of his “ activities”, so he could just take it deeper underground, using the con he cared about our love and wanted us to repair things. I was easy prey.
    He was perfectly happy with his deceitful life, the only problem now was I knew too damn much about it!
    The one thing I do remember him saying during those mediations was “ I’d like to divorce her and then start dating her”.
    Took me years to understand that was code for “ I want to have my cake and eat it too”.
    We bought a beach house for our retirement right around that difficult time, which we had mega renovations on and added an additional structure to it over that 7 year period. ( perfect distraction for a coverup!)
    I saw it as he was committed to us and we would retire together as planned, he saw it as a way he could keep me snowed and distracted while he continued his 2nd, 3rd, 4th lives without being exposed and annoyed by me.
    Then when he retired, he used the classic ‘ILYBINILWY’ line, retired from his job keeping his image of great employee, amazing husband and incredible father, and headed to his new life with young, bedazzled, and very snowed Schmoopie, who will not figure out his con till he’s probably 6 feet under, as he gets to be her hero until then.
    Then he sets up a whole new group of “ friends”, code for “people to admire him”, who don’t know he’s actually using them all to improve his life. He cares as little for them as he did the other group of ppl in his past life ( his family!)
    These abusers are truly incapable of love.
    It’s pretty evil and scary to me.
    I wish I understood it a whole lot sooner,it would have saved me and my kids a long healing journey.

    • Unfortunately we cannot go back in time. I’m glad you’ve managed to maintain your sanity. I’m glad he’s not your problem anymore.

  • I did the Catholic Marriage Encounter Weekend. I’m sure it’s changed a bit because this was in 1981 — https://wwme.org/the-experience/
    It wasn’t marital counseling — it taught a technique I think was called 10×10. As a couple, you were given a question and then separately you spent 10 minutes writing the answer. Then joined back together and spent 10 minutes discussing it.
    You were supposed to continue this technique each evening. We never did it even once. He would stay late at work and then be too tired. I stopped reminders after the first week.
    Years later one of his exes told me that she knew about Marriage Encounter from my ex. Apparently he told her I refused to participate once we got home but he thought it had been a wonderful experience.

  • Therapist flop, not exactly a FW flop. Ex-husband (narcissist, alcoholic) dragged me to a therapist when I filed for divorce after – the last straw – he told me that he was going to have gender reassignment surgery [spoiler: he got the surgery, regretted it, and is now living as a man again]. The therapist he chose just happened to be an academic whose specialty was women who stay in that type of marriage – good for them, but it wasn’t what I wanted for an infinity of reasons – and she needed one more data point to publish a paper. Long story short, she urged me to consider changing my sexual orientation so that I could “help preserve the marriage.” That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard from a therapist and I’ve had lots of therapy in my life.

    • “Long story short, she urged me to consider changing my sexual orientation so that I could “help preserve the marriage.”

      What in the fuckety fing fang fuck? That’s insane.

      “spoiler: he got the surgery, regretted it, and is now living as a man again].”

      I’m guessing he did it not because he is actually transgender, but so he could play with his own tits. Then it proved to be difficult to find schmoopies as a butt ugly woman, so now he’s (allegedly) a man again.

      • Oh, you are absolutely right. I’m 99% sure that he never actually had gender dysphoria, but it got him attention, which he loves, and he has never been particularly introspective. I didn’t know about autogynephilia before, but it seems to fit the situation. I was always under the impression that one needed intense therapy before having the surgery, but either he managed to fool everyone or he found a therapist who didn’t know what they were doing. (And he *was* butt ugly as a woman! My guess, though, is that when the novelty wore off and people stopped paying attention, he detransitioned in an attempt to get more recognition.)

      • Points for the Steve Martin reference. And you’re absolutely right, of course. That’s pretty much what these dudes are about.

    • OH.MY.GOD. Sleepyhead, you WIN today’s challenge. Your therapy homework was changing your sexual orientation!!!! FFS. I got the chills reading your post. Horrified but yet amused.

      • Gaah. Correction: Your therapy homework was TO change your sexual orientation.
        Wonder if your case study made it into the research paper? Hope your case skewed her data!

    • Wow!! And I’m glad to hear your stupid ex got surgery! Can I assume he’s got sexual problems now? I hope so! What an absolute nincompoop of a therapist!!

  • No relationship counseling, but my sibling and I had a good laugh over Ex fuckwit’s father advising me that I needed therapy for my anger over fuckwit’s affair (because his son experiencing my anger and legal consequences for his abuse of me was harmful to his son.)

    Which is when we understood that the rotten apple didn’t fall far from the entitled tree.

  • I don’t have any in therapy stories. Mine did want us to go to therapy after I had already decided to leave “for a possible future reconciliation.”
    I told him to book us an appointment for the 12th of never.

    FW himself got turned down for IC by qualified therapists. Only the qualifying ones would take him. They need the experience, but qualified ones already know what a waste of time guys like him are.
    He got “I don’t think you’d be a good fit.” This can be UBTed as “Get lost, narcissist.”

  • We went to a Catholic marriage retreat for a weekend and they had us say one nice thing about our spouse. He had been in war and I said “He is brave” (he said that I was a good mother).

    What astonishes me is how desperately wrong I was. He actually never wanted to marry and he didn’t want to be married to me at that time, but he was way to cowardly to own his shit and break up with any integrity. He was a massive coward.

  • I did my homework for marriage counseling and my husband refused to do it. “I don’t do homework.” I am putting in the effort and he doesn’t think he needs to. It’s like I am doing the dance with myself and he’s waiting to see and get what he wants without the work.

    • Kimberly, that is awful. Yes, we are expected to do all the work because they are entitled, lazy, fuckwits. I got “I support you in your efforts to save our marriage.” hahahahah

  • After 3rd D-day of lying, serial cheating, and gaslighting, we never made it to therapy. My STBX, crying and begging for 1 more chance, said so many things…”didn’t think it was cheating if I was with a man, didn’t think I’d get caught, thought I’d quit before you found out”…he asked about therapy, I responded, “yes, you could use some, I probably could, too! Oh wait, you mean together, marriage counseling!?! good god, hell no, I have no marriage to save.

  • I’ve been reading CL for 8+ years and I have seen this Friday Challenge about therapy many times. I thought I would finally try telling my story for the very first time.

    Wormtongue and I had been married for about 15 years when I discovered he’d been dabbling around on cheating sites (he insisted he had never gone through with it and, chumpy me, I believed him!). He demanded we go to couple’s counseling.

    On our second therapy session, Wormtongue was tearing into me emotionally and I was starting to have panic attacks. I was 6 months pregnant and I explained to the therapist that the therapy session was getting too stressful, and that my obstetrician had told me that I needed to avoid stress because it was causing me to have Braxton-Hicks (false labor) contractions and I was at risk of losing the baby because of the physical stress to my body.

    I said I wanted to talk about ways to make our relationship calmer and more supportive until the baby was born. Wormtongue started rolling his eyes and sighing all exasperated to the therapist “see what I have to deal with? See how delusional she is?”

    The therapist sided with Wormtongue and started grilling me, “Why do you fantasize about your baby dying? Do you wish your baby would die?” The therapist insisted I agree with him that I was never in danger of losing my baby and that I had misunderstood my doctors. I actually did say it back to him (because I am a people pleaser) and in retrospect, that moment haunts me.

    I was completely stressed out at this point and started having false contractions right then and there. Wormtongue and the therapist accused me of faking it. The therapist agreed with Wormtongue that I was “troubled” and implied that I had imagined the cheating and that actually Wormtongue should probably get a medal for having to put up with me.

    After the appointment the false contractions continued on and off, and three days later started real labor. I had a stillbirth and almost died from complications. Wormtongue had to call the therapist and tell him to cancel our next appointment because I was in the hospital due to losing the baby.

    The therapist never apologized and didn’t send a condolence card, but he DID send a bill. Apparently, I had paid fifty cents short of the total amount, and he sent me a bill for a $50 late charge plus the original fifty cents. I was so broke that I couldn’t even afford an urn for the ashes for my son and had to bring them home in a paper bag (Wormtongue had been spending all the money). I threw the letter away and never responded.

    I was comatose with grief for a month. Wormtongue threatened to have me institutionalized because he said it was abnormal and sick how much I cried over my dead son. He said I should have been over it after three days. I’m pretty sure he was furious that his wife appliance had broken. He wanted me to go with him to see the therapist again because I “needed help.” I just stared at the wall and cried. I thought that another “therapy” session would push me over the edge.

    Years later, Wormtongue admitted he had been cheating throughout my pregnancy and had been doing everything he could to sabotage the pregnancy because a brand new baby would have been inconvenient for him at that moment. He apologized tearfully…. (As an aside- closure is not a thing, I can tell you, because Wormtongue apologized for everything and it didn’t bring my baby back and it didn’t heal me. What healed me was ME, and not needing anything from Wormtongue including his affirmation (I was NOT crazy/delusional). Apologies from an abuser are meaningless).

    I hate to admit it, but I stayed married for another 5 years after the stillbirth. Although I adamantly refused to ever go to another therapy session with Wormtongue. Instead, I started reading Chump lady and began recognizing that cheating was just the tip of the abuse iceberg for me.

    Now I am with the love of my life and my surviving kids are well. My biggest regret is spending so many years with my ex. I wish I had left sooner. I would never ever settle for being treated like this by anyone – even a therapist – ever again.

    • Oh Boudicca. I am crying profusely right now after reading your story. Thank you for sharing as I know that must have been impossibly difficult to relate. The injustice is over the top. The horror is over the top. The psychopathy is over the top. I want to mangle both your therapist and ex in the worst way possible and wish shit filled karma into his pathetic life. I am glad you made out with your own and have a love and your kids. Keep up your strength and belief in yourself. I’m here cheering you on! xoxo

      • It made me cry reading that it made you cry! And I’m not someone who let’s myself cry…
        You were right, it was incredibly hard to write about, but I also wanted to share my story in case it helps anyone else.

    • I am so very sorry that both of these men traumatized you like this. I care for stillbirth loss moms in the hospital and I have seen this a few times.

      this story does not try to compare my pain as equal to yours but is a sharing in the idea that they torment us intentionally…

      I now see that in times when I really needed Cheater to support me, he used his knowledge of my weaknesses and fears to exploit me and make whatever was upsetting me much worse. Once, I was in a near miss car collision where it was my fault and I narrowly missed hitting a guy on a motorcycle. Knowing that I almost hurt this man crushed me…I needed support and he tormented me…literally tormented me until I flailed around begging him to stop. I brushed against him in my flailing and when it was over, he said “you hit me, I just want it to be understood that you hit me” and he had a little smile like he had ammunition that he fully intended to use. I did not see that he was so scheming. He did in fact try to manipulate me with my reaction to his torment.

      Like you, I spent too many years with him even after he showed such cruelty an dI struggle with forgiving myself for that

      • Unicornnomore,
        I pay attention to everything you write because you have a lot of wise things to say. You never got the chance to choose to leave, and that’s hard. Being able to decide that I wanted better for myself and walk away was incredibly empowering. It was the best, most scary feeling in my life. My ex was controlling and manipulative as well. I have a feeling we are both holding back some of our more intense stories (!) Which goes to show that we are survivors. I walked away (or crawled, scrambled, fought my way out). You were the last one standing. Either way we win. Thank you for sharing your story with me as well 💙

    • Boudicca,
      I am so sorry you went through this. I am so sorry those people harmed you. I am so glad you were able to break free. I’m sending love out into the universe for you, I hope you can feel it. ❤️

  • Wow, that’s a powerful story Boudicca! I’m am so so sorry for your loss! I can’t imagine how devastating that was for you.
    My God, how does a therapist like that not lose their license you wonder?! I think of how many ppl he probably injured over the years and it’s makes my skin just crawl. Your ex and that therapist are completely evil monsters.
    I’m happy to hear you have a ‘love of your life’ and your other children are thriving.
    Peace and love being sent to you, thanks for sharing. 🌷🌻💜

    • Yeah, Chumpsaurus, I really wonder that too! I wasn’t in the headspace at the time to do anything about it, and I’m not sure what I would report? Or to who I would report something?
      I was watching that show Candy (docu-drama about the OW who killed the chump in the story) and she actually became a therapist! I shudder to think about the advice/counseling she gives to people in their vulnerable moments.

  • I would remind everyone that 50 percent of all therapists graduated in the lower half of their class.

  • When my FW was asked what his goals were he just rattled off my goals. Our therapist and I looked at in disbelief, he said “Those are her goals, what are your goals?”
    He stared a little dumbfounded and then said “Well, I guess my homework for next time is to come up with my own goals!”

    Ugh! How tf did I get through 16 years with this FW and not realize he never had goals?! I should’ve ran then but no! I stayed another 6 months. I guess it’s better than 6 years.

    Side note, I read this yesterday and found it very interesting, it’s tips for therapists on how to treat patients who have experienced the trauma of infidelity. It speaks of infidelity as abuse. I think we would all agree.

    https://www.counseling.org/resources/library/vistas/vistas06_online-only/Rutherford.pdf

  • I never got as far as counselling with my next.

    When I first discovered that my wife of 18 years was cheating on me with a guy 25 years younger than me I did offer to see a counsellor. Her response?

    “I’ll go to counselling with you on one condition – that I can carry on seeing him at the same time.”

    Nope.

    • It is a shocking statement of course. But these sort of ridiculous comments actually are helpful, they show their true character and it destroys our hope that things may go to back as they were.

  • I know the ads are part of the deal with this website but the way it reloads constantly, and can’t seem to have a steady process to read is awful. It reminds me of early internet days of crashing sites. Your web designer is not giving you best efforts.

  • During one of the few times my soon to be ex would go to counseling with me after D Day, the counselor gave him the homework of coming up with 10-15 things he liked about me. He had at least a few days to a full week to make the list but he didn’t start working on it until we were both sitting in the waiting room before the next appointment! So I see him quickly jotting down things on a piece of paper, wondering what he is frantically doing. A few of the things he mentioned were “good mother, nice and looks sexy in a bathing suit” (he honestly thought that would make me happy to hear that). The counselor looked at him and said “none of these things are really about her as a person, what do you specifically like about your wife’s character or spirit, having to do with your connection with her?” He just didn’t get it. I think he is so shallow and doesn’t view me as a feeling person, just his possession who has little value and am existing for his pleasure only.

  • We went to marriage counseling. And this counselor was actually very good. We had a few sessions together at the beginning. The ex never spoke a word . How could she ? She was cheating at the time . The counselor soon realized that the ex wouldn’t take part and recommended individual sessions with her. So the ex went to the individual sessions and continued cheating at the same time. I reached a point of no return and asked her to move out andstarted divorce proceedings. I made contact with the counselor – and she told me that she had thought the ex was a covert narcissist and that divorce was the best thing for me.
    The homework : This was after the first session, I guess the counselor was just getting to know us. She asked us to write down daily affirmations and compliments for our partner and put them into a box for a week. And the following week, we would read one of those notes daily. My ex could not not even pretend to know or love me. The notes made no sense and just showed that there was no love. I guess in a way they made sense.

  • We never had homework, but went to couples counseling after I found out about his emotional affair with a coworker. We went for a good five months and I really didn’t feel like we were getting anywhere. Once, when I was alone with her for a few minutes, she referred to his gaslighting – which told me she knew he was a covert narcissist at that point – but NEVER called him on his shit to his face. I was really trying, thinking he (probably, maybe, hopefully?) hadn’t actually slept with anyone else, but then he completely blew it on a weekend away with another couple (both cheaters, him 52, her 30 – no I have no idea why I let myself be pressured into going) when he just discarded me to fawn over the 30 year old cheater. I came home and told him I was done. On top of that, I’d been catching him in pointless lies and found photos of him at a couple’s dinner with his arm around his plus-one (not me). The next day we went to counseling and I told the therapist what happened on the trip and that I’m done and want a divorce. “Thank you very much for trying to help us.”

    The next day she sent me this email (names changed to protect the innocent and the not-so-innocent), which I felt was just abuse heaped on top of abuse:

    “Hi Enough,
    Here is the information on one of the divorce information groups I mentioned. I think there’s also a local group that’s a little bit closer to you. But as I said this is just informational.

    I know it’s hard to maintain optimism and a willingness to keep trying in the face of so many hurts and disappointments. I am working with an individual who brought up the idea of divorce in a couple session and felt like the conversation got away from him and moved faster than he wanted. He’s now going back a couple of months later and revisiting again with his spouse and couples therapist. So I’m aware that important conversations that need to be had can get away from you. Please know on my end the door is open and if you want to keep exploring paths to possibly stay together I’m always happy to support.

    Warm regards,
    FW’s Flying Monkey/RIC Therapist”

    Of course, I’m just a stupid woman who stayed married to a lying, cheating, emotionally abusive narcissist for 25 years. I couldn’t possibly know when I’ve actually had enough! Good grief.

  • Fortunately I never had to do “marriage counseling”. My shitty/toxic father in law offered to pay for “marriage counseling because you just don’t throw away an almost 30 year marriage”. My stupid fuckwit husband didn’t make it through the second surgery, so I officially became a widow and not a divorcee. I said I would go, but I didn’t think I really needed to be there because he had the problem, not me. This actually has been the thing that bothers me…. I guess I was supposed to act like a grieving widow and not a pissed off divorced person! In my mind I’m a divorcee..

    I’m thinking I would have most likely just walked out of counseling sessions if they started to go sideways as I had already told him we were getting divorced once he was back on his feet health wise. His father and I no longer talk…

  • I went to individual therapy with a trauma therapist after a couple of rounds of marital counseling, then repeat cheating. Even that was a failure for me. She kept asking questions about possible dysfunctional thinking. I kept saying “No, I am not thinking any of those self defeating things.” I am trying not to have excessive anxiety over my husband of thirty five years cheating and having a baby with another woman. I am trying not to have excessive anxiety over my husband’s two affair partners getting jobs at my workplace to better stalk me, then telling lies to my boss about me. I am trying not to have excessive anxiety about my ex husband putting a tracking device on my vehicle, breaking into my house, and threatening to kill me then commit suicide. I am trying not to have excessive anxiety about my upcoming court date where the ex husband brought two attorneys to try to circumvent my protective order due to these actions. I am trying not to have excessive anxiety as I have to continue to run a business with my mentally unhinged ex husband in order to pay my bills.

    I stopped seeing the therapist, won my court case by representing myself against his two attorneys, got a mediator to realize that my ex was crazy and help get him to agree to a fair split of assets anyway, then have only allowed sane people into my life. I didn’t need therapy. I needed to get this person out of my life forever.

  • I refused to go to MC because I was just done when it all came out.

    But a couple I know had been going to MC for a couple of years when he started cheating. Rather than help them to gracefully divorce, co-parent, etc. and give her the agency to start a new and better life, the therapist had them do all sorts of exercises and homework on appreciating each other and communication.

    All it did was enable rugsweeping and the appearance that all was well… to the point that she called the MC a success and said they were fine and didn’t have to go anymore because she felt so good about everything.

    And guess what… four years later he is still cheating with the longtime schmoopie, she is in denial, and they just had another kid.

    It’s painful to watch from the outside- but I guess sometimes that RIC is really strong and some people just aren’t ready to LACGAL.

  • When the therapist, at our one and only session of marriage counseling (he refused to go back), said “tell me what attracted you to each other in the beginning, I spoke about things like shared interests. My husband, after 10 years of marriage, said “well, just look at her”. In TEN YEARS he had nothing to say about his love for me other than my physical appearance. It was heartbreaking.

  • My FW insisted on therapy, but did next to nothing other than claim he needed a separation to get past his pain, poor sad sausage. In hindsight, the therapy was obviously intended as a combination of window dressing, for image management (“I did everything I could!”) and also as a way to keep stringing me along so he could get as much money from me as possible before dropping the bomb. But I believed he was unhappy and we should address this! So naturally, I did everything I could and he did as little as possible. He just kept repeating the same litany of bagged-salad type complaints about me. Meanwhile, I of course refrained from bringing up his long history of incredibly entitled behavior – off-the-charts drinking, laziness, selfishness, and his near-frantic need for the company and attention of virtually any rando — to avoid upsetting him when he was suffering so…. I figured, we can address my issues with him AFTER we’ve dealt with his supposed suffering caused by my being so demanding, hard-working, and generally no fun at all. In the meantime, of course, his side piece had been in the picture for months.

    He really wanted the therapist to officially pronounce our marriage dead, to say I was impossible, to say we were utterly incompatible. However, I was lucky in that our therapist — who was chosen and insisted upon by FW – closely resembled ChumpLady’s therapist Janet, right down to being small, outspoken, and probably Jewish. She saw right through him, and as a result didn’t go along with his agenda. FW kept saying things like, FooledAgain does this minor but entirely unacceptable and heinous thing, and the therapist would say perkily, “Well, she says she won’t do that any more! And she’s sorry! This is definitely fixable! Why don’t you guys try spending a romantic weekend together?” To which he of course said, no, no, I’m in too much pain from all her abuse, while of course he was spending all his spare time and much of our money on his rotund and rapacious side piece.

    When he finally announced to me and the therapist, after months of zero progress, that he had done everything he possible could – ha! – and wanted a divorce, she told him she wanted time alone with me. Then after he left, she unloaded. She said it was obvious he was cheating, that he was lying to me about his reasons for wanting a divorce, and that this had nothing to do with me and everything to do with his character. She said I should get a lawyer, take time to heal, and move on to better things. So God bless her – she ripped off the bandaid in no uncertain terms, and really did me a solid. It hurt a lot at the time, but it really helped propel me forward. I know the RIC harms a lot of people, but there are at least some really good, honest therapists out there.

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