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Reconcile at a $12K Marriage Retreat

The Unicorn of ReconciliationDid your partner cheat? Nothing says accountability like a $12K spa retreat. Enjoy hopium snorting at your own private Shangri-La. Make sand castles while discussing your trust issues! Relax with eight-straight hours of couple’s therapy!

This RIC insanity was featured in a helpful article in Elle magazine this week: Marriage Retreats for Infidelity — Do Marriage Retreats Work?

Future articles include: “Pony Trekking With Your Rapist” and “Parasailing with Wife Beaters.”

In the Elle story, Callum is the serial cheater and Maria is the suicidal chump.

The couple called the one person they knew could bring them back from the brink: their therapist, Andrew Sofin, who was also staying—and working on-site—at the resort. Minutes later, he arrived at their door, ready for an emergency session that would stretch into the early hours of the following morning.

Maria and Calum were on a relationship therapy retreat held at Club Med’s new Michès Playa Esmeralda in the Dominican Republic. Run by Sofin, a marriage and family therapist based in Montreal, the $12,000-per-week Couples Retreat at Ocean Coral aims to build on the connection-cultivating power of a regular vacation by introducing intensive therapy to the itinerary.

Sessions can total up to eight hours per day, but in their downtime, couples are free to decompress, enjoying the property’s bougie amenities as if on a regular getaway. Sometimes, Sofin prescribes specific leisure activities that encourage teamwork and trust, like sailing lessons. Other times, something purely relaxing, like a trip to the spa or floating side by side in inflatable pool rings. It’s a concept that could easily inspire a White Lotus plot line, but the sincere goal of relationship therapy retreats is to resuscitate relationships. By providing the couple with expert guidance to work through their issues, combined with breathing room from the daily responsibilities, routines, and distractions of home, these retreats aim to prevent more couples from winding up in divorce court. In the wake of infidelity, they can even offer a blueprint for rebuilding trust and fostering forgiveness—that is, if you can afford the hefty price tag.

Maria, you could’ve saved that $12K for your lawyer. Fault state? The infidelity is legally forgiven now as you vacationed with cheater Callum — did Andrew mention that in the brochure?

Just float in a pool ring. Let all those self-protection thoughts dissolve away.

Last fall, Angelique and Christopher, a Texas couple who had been married for six years, attended a similar retreat, The Marriage Restoration Project in Costa Rica. The impetus to book came when Angelique got a call from a stranger who claimed she’d been intimate with Christopher. Considering the couple had been distant and struggling to communicate effectively for some time—Christopher has a tendency to, as Angelique puts it, “shut down” and “go cold” during arguments—it was clear they urgently needed professional help to salvage their marriage.

Gosh, maybe the “couple” had been distant and struggling to communicate BECAUSE CHRISTOPHER WAS FUCKING STRANGE?

Clearly Angelique needs urgent, professional blameshifting help.

Attendees are even given scripts to help them make formal amends for the hurt they’ve caused, as well as workbooks to practice their communication techniques once they return home. Step one on the path to reconciliation is to examine how the interplay between their upbringings and attachment styles contributed to the affair.

Angelique — your upbringing contributed to Christopher cheating on you. You cannot go back in time and redo your childhood, so just accept that something you have zero control over made your husband abuse you. Upset? Rabbi Slatkin has a notebook. Scream into the A4 binder.

“In Imago therapy, it’s believed that we’re all looking to marry someone familiar, who’s going to push our buttons in very painful ways because it’s going to uniquely play on our childhood wounds or unmet needs,” explains Slatkin, whose private couples retreats start at $7,000, not including flights, food, or accommodations. “In order to prevent an affair from happening again, we need to understand the origins and the context. And when we do that, we find that couples who have experienced infidelity and have worked through it actually wind up having a stronger relationship than ever before because they’re really going to understand what was broken in the first place.”

Of course, the ol’ It Makes The Marriage Stronger bullshit.

It would be wrong to punch a rabbi in the face. But if I did, could I blame my upbringing and assure him, while his bones are resetting, that our relationship will be stronger for my assault. Let’s go on vacation together!

What? You don’t trust me? Send me $7000, we can work on that.

As part of their ongoing commitment to working on the relationship, Clara and Oliver recently traveled to Arizona to attend Sedona Soul Adventures, a five-day bespoke retreat that takes a New Age-y approach to healing marriages. There, the couple dabbled in “core wound” exploration (another term for addressing issues stemming from childhood), love languages, and Enneagram personality tests designed to help couples understand themselves and their partners better.

As Debra Stangl, the owner of Sedona Soul Adventures and a former divorce attorney, says of her methods: “Most people know more about what they want on their pizza than about what they want in their life and relationship.”

Other more esoteric wellness activities are also part of the retreat’s programming, including holotropic breathwork, a facilitator-led technique where altered states of consciousness are accessed through repetitive breathing patterns.

Breathe the Chlamydia away!

Clara and Oliver, who identify as non-religious but “spiritual,” believe they didn’t find the retreat so much as the retreat found them. Throughout the week, they had profound experiences that imbued their union with meaning. One particularly impactful activity was sandplay, where the couple arranged random objects in a large sandbox then stepped back to observe the story they had unconsciously told through their arrangements.

Sand. Play.

Sandplay.

Oliver has been fucking around on Clara for years, who has PTSD, and the cure is…

A children’s sandbox? 

No Tracy, it’s a Sedona, core-wound, 5-day workshop sandbox.

Isn’t playing in a sandbox a skill I learned in pre-school? 

No, Tracy. You need a Soul Guide. Sedona Soul Adventures don’t have therapists, they have Soul Guides.

Are they accredited? 

Shhhh. Enough questions. Sit back and have a Profound Experience®.

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.
  • GAH!! What a horror. I went to the cheap Catholic version and left with a feeling of doom.

    He punched his Therapy Ticket and the cheating took off like wildfire after.

    For years I kept the “journals” we were supposed to share our feelings in. Not worth the ink it was written with… I ripped the written-on pages out, threw them away and kept what was left of the blank 25 cent spiral notebook.

    • I never went to a retreat, but was an “Amazon Queen”, buying all the affair-proof-your-marriage books. I bought books for HIM to read, which, of course, he couldn’t be bothered to do. THAT is money I would like back. (I did resell several on Amazon, and always put a sticky note inside the front cover directing them to CL/CN.)

      Then I stumbled on LACGAL, and this website. LACGAL is GOLD and worth every penny. I admit to being afraid of it, at first. I wanted a unicorn, not an ass with a sno-cone on his head. I think I instinctively knew, though, that the CL would talk sense into me, and help me remove the blinders I had used to cover up the FW’s abuse of me.

      • Ivy, I love that you put sticky notes with CL info in the other books! I work in a bookstore and when someone is looking for an ‘affair proof your marriage’ book (which is not too often, thankfully), I always recommend LACGAL.

        • I love this! I’ve been looking for a new way to volunteer in my community. Armed with sticky notes, I can hit 5 libraries (every suburb has their own) and 3 book stores within a 10 mile radius from home.

      • I think the beauty of CN/CL is you get a lot of cheaters playbook info. That is invaluable, even if one decides to give their cheater another chance it remains valuable to recognize bullshit when you see it.

      • My personal library was the saddest thing. I went to give it to Goodwill and I was afraid that it was too revelatory of my misspent adulthood.

        It started with themes of how to have a good marriage, how to be a good mom, Men are from Mars things, Love Language stuff, then How to make a better marriage, Midlife Crisis, Depression Fallout, When a spouse wants out, then Surviving Widowhood.

        Now I have books about the worlds great cities and museums I’ve been to.

        • Me too.
          My sister came to visit years back and told me I’d better not keep my books out or I’d scare a man away.

    • Same here. 6 weekends of Catholic couples telling stories about how drifting apart causes affairs. Very depressing and gave the cheater tons of ammo to shame me with.

    • Went to the same one- poured my heart out thought we were good- the Friday before our Saturday graduation found him and his mistress in the car together behind his work “hiding”. That was my final straw after two years. Stupid retreat. What a waste.

    • I found those journals useful in calibrating my lying-liar radar and correcting my life-long gullibility a bit. I was able to match up the crap FW said and his demeanor and facial expressions when he said it against my notes, text archives, my own body sensations and secret affair credit card data and created a sort of chart of “shit lying-liars say/do” worthy of submitting to the FBI.

    • I think I went to the same one… this one stretches across both Catholics and Protestants.
      Did the same thing as Unicorn did with the notebooks (that were supposed to be used regularly).
      We got a candle that was supposed to be lit while we were writing. That way we could see our effort over time.
      It was lit once or twice at the retreat and that’s it.
      It’s probably still under the bathroom sink in the marital home (which is now his).
      Honestly I believe the leaders were genuine in their intent. There was no set cost, you paid what you could afford.
      And it may have worked for some couples. But as has been said here, NOTHING works with a FW.

  • Nothing says “I’m sorry” like purchasing an apology script. Sounds to me like cheaters everywhere are thinking “I’ll take ‘How much money does it take to shut up the chump,’ Alex.”

    • That’s exactly what I was going to say. “Attendees are even given scripts to help them make formal amends for the hurt they’ve caused.” There’s no need to put any effort or sincerity into the apology; and no real effort to make amends. Formal amends? Do they dress up like it’s their wedding, too? Formal amends would be making restitution or repairing the damage they’ve caused, not simply reciting a statement written by someone else. And this line: “…the sincere goal of relationship therapy retreats is to resuscitate relationships.” Not it’s not, it’s to make money. How dumb can this writer be?

    • Yeah, that bothered me too. “Here’s a script to say what you need to in order to make the dumb bitch get back in line!” Yeah, that’s super heartfelt and genuine.

      • A lot of these cheaters are already reading shit online to “explain” themselves from what I have read elsewhere. The use the; fog, FOO, Insecure, thought you didn’t love me, etc shit to a T.

        I quit reading another site because these poor abused women would come on and tell all the bottled excuses their extremely remorseful shit head cheaters would spout to them, and they were buying it.

        • Yes, susie lee, we had one book (don’t remember the bullshit title, but it was blue) that FW read word for word, then just parroted whole paragraphs, while conveniently forgetting little things that might have ACTUALLY helped him, like “it takes 2-5 years for [Chump] to heal” because that was inconvenient to his career timeline. I quit marriage counseling & filed when he kept pressuring me to trust him & come back after a few months.

          Basically he couldn’t even fake the full RIC program, he cherry-picked what worked for him. And I’m glad he did, so I saw that the problem was him, not that we needed more books and exercises. In the end I wasn’t fooled and saved myself from becoming one more New Age dipshit paying 10 G’s to move random objects back & forth in a FW litterbox while FW stands there puzzling out how he can monkey branch to one of the instructors.

  • Marriage therapy was a waste of time and money I’ll never get back. Somewhere I still have the notebooks and journals with the worthless “exercises.” It would have been more useful to have made a pile of the journals, papers, and assignments he NEVER did, thrown all of his clothing on top, and set the entire stinking pile on fire while doing what I should have done-run away from the crazy when I first found out about it 25 years ago.

    • Our retreat had a technique that they instructed couples to do as an ongoing practice… it was called “Dialogue” and had specific structure and rules. Guess who refused to do it the very first time it came up after the retreat?

      What he did was to encourage me to get along better with my (alcoholic, clusterB) parents. It was a Wild Goose Chase of Biblical proportions designed by the Cheater gods.

      • Unicornomore – Marriage Encounter, perhaps?
        Check!
        Imago?
        Check!
        Holotropic Breatwork?
        Yup!
        Heartstream journeys? (FOO psychodrama gestalt)
        Uh-huh.
        Psychosocial masturbation and performance art to throw off the chump?
        Fuck, yeah!

        Hey Tracy,
        I propose a LACGAL retreat for chumps ONLY – an intensive week-long immersion in FW playbook studies, Trust That They Suck, legal coaches, with an optional hopium-detox rehab.

        Whaddya say? We can call it “Sure, I’ll Take All the Blame”, tell FWs they don’t need to be there, but if they’ll just pay all the costs, it “Will be So Valuable for our Relationship“!
        #takeapageoutoftheirbooks
        #gaslightingforchumps

      • The sad fact is, there is a whole bunch of people looking to make money on other peoples pain and misery. They get you at your most vulnerable and hit you hard with the Hopium. I’d call them scum, but that’s an insult to scum.

    • In defense of those few therapists out there who are good, I have had a couple of good ones. One kept asking the ex: Can you hear what your wife is saying? And when he was dodging all over with excuses, she just kept asking him: Do you hear your wife’s pain? He quit after two sessions and wouldn’t go back. They are rare, but out there. The trouble is, you yourself have to be educated on cheater manipulation tactics to even see what is happening and be able to pick a good therapist.

      • My marriage therapist bought his BS. She felt he was honestly remorseful and desperately wanted my daughter to be raised by both parents. (I’m a child of divorce, with an absentee father.).

        NOPE!! He lied in MC. He actually said “of course I lied. You were there.” 🤦🏻‍♀️

      • I have been known to tell those considering marriage counseling to instead get a pizza and bottle of wine…they will be served much better by the pizza.

        • A friend is a PhD psychologist specializing in sleep disorders. However, when she only had a Masters she was employed for awhile as a marriage and family counselor. She says if people truly understood the success rate on marriage counseling no one would EVER go. Success rates are less than 10%.

          Bottom line is this: 1) People wait until the relationship is too deteriorated before they consider therapy. 2) Whatever behavior is problematic for one spouse is working for the other spouse, and that spouse does not want to give it up. For “behavior” substitute whatever you want: Time in bars, shopping, heroin, extramarital affairs.

          She hated the job and was much more satisfied working with insomniacs. They were much more stable and likely to take her advice.

          • If the success rate is based on couples that have stayed together, I would question the 10% number. Many couples are miserable but stay together for whatever the reason. Not exactly a success story, more like one partner has submitted to the one causing most of the marital issues. Plus, there really is no cure for people afflicted with the “selfish asshole” condition.

      • My dream couples retreat would be the opposite. Starts out with individual interviews with the latest eye-tracking lie detectors. In cases of infidelity or financial fraud the chumped then meets individually with excellent therapists, and a crack legal team that draws up a preliminary separation agreement.

        The “couples therapy” is basically just mediation to get a fair agreement signed. The cheater then leaves and the chump stays for a few weeks of massages, reading LACGAL by the pool, and socializing with other chumps.

        That would have been money well spent.

  • i would take the apology script, dip it in sedona mud, wrap myself in it, drawing out the chump toxins, and, after a thorough cleanse, rise new.

    FFS

    spa treatments for those with no character/morals/ethics. like that makes any sense.

  • And I’ll never forget the therapist (cheater chose him) who looked straight at me and asked what I had said that caused the fuckwit to scream at me that he wanted to hit me. I remember the panic I felt thinking they were BOTH ganging up on me and feeling abused AGAIN.

    • My ex refused to find a therapist I called around I found someone on the phone who told me that they had a lot of experience dealing with infidelity, they had a sex therapy background, they never asked to meet with a couples individually because it creates bias etc.

      My husband did state at the beginning of the first session that he wanted me to be okay that he wanted me to be happy
      I was extremely upset and the therapist ended up stopping me and asking me if I wanted to run the session? Then he asked me if I had any support and I said no and he said “must be tough” in a snarky way Man ended up asking my husband if I was the abusive one, what was wrong with me that he would choose to cheat and then asking my husband immediately if he could meet with him alone to find out “what was wrong with me “ That my husband would not have me as a partner

      It was before I had had much therapy or support for myself or information. And it came within inches of pushing be over the edge.

      I stopped the therapist after a few sessions and then I looked like the one who wasn’t willing to work on the marriage

      And my husband was still seeing her on the side he was trying to stop he claimed but he couldn’t so he was also lying

      My now X never did Try and find a therapist. It was such a horribly wasted opportunity I believe to this day maybe if we had had a decent therapist there made of been an opportunity for some progress
      Or maybe not No one seems to have found a couples therapist that helps.

      • My ex told me his therapist said she couldn’t understand how he could stand to be with me. I thought he was making that up as no professional therapist would say such a thing about someone, let alone someone they’d never even met. After reading your encounter, maybe his therapist really did say that! Shudder…

      • Between D-Days I found out that my ex was spending on average $1000 a month on a cell phone game on his credit card in addition his general shittiness. I spoke to a divorce lawyer then and told my ex. He begged me for another chance and I told him fine but he needed to go to therapy. We’d been told during marriage counseling after the first D-day that he was likely depressed and my later armchair psychology told me that it was all symptoms of his depression. He said he had called around but he couldn’t get a call back from any therapists.

        After D-day II and I filed for divorce, I was looking for a therapist for myself to help deal with the stress. I used a program that my work offered where they will do the calling around and scheduling for you. It was super easy. I told him that he was still eligible to use the program until the divorce was final. He said that his employer had a similar program, but he just didn’t want to use it. I doubt he called anywhere in the first place.

    • This happened to me. He and his therapist ganged up on me and I raised my voice and then they said I was screaming or yelling. In the end he lied to the therapist and she believed him – I was in shock the entire time and after that I never went back. I went no contact and the divorce was final 6/15. From what I understand he continued seeing her- but what help are you getting when you aren’t even truthful to the therapist. He was cheating the entire time. Real funny now – I’m the one laughing. He walked out and left a nephew that we had take in a age 11 -who was 15 now. As a 15 year old the nephew was sort of a jerk.. well guess who had sole custody— he did (this was his sisters kid-why would I keep him?)— so I packed up the nephew and Mr. walk-away-from-kids-wife- pets-bills-mortgage now has a nephew ruining all his free dating plans! Our son lives with me and goes there to visit!! Ha-ha so funny!

      • That really IS funny! If he is still seeing the therapist, I’d bet money he’s banging her too.

    • That was my RIC experience, except the elderly male RIC therapist and self-proclaimed “former” sex addict was so over-the-top that even FW said, “If you raise your voice again we’ll leave and demand a refund.” Not that FW couldn’t bully all on his own in private but the therapist’s cue to mount a DARVO gang-bang was too obvious for FW, who preferred subtler, passive aggressive gang bullying. Plus FW would have been more than happy to get out of there despite the fact that he’d arranged and paid for it.

      It was a huge waste of money but I’m almost glad I got a close look at how that shit show works. I’m not sure I would have believed how terrible the racket is otherwise.

    • Ex and I sat in the male therapists office when ex started rubbing my back, and repeating isn’t she beautiful?
      This is out of character for cheater to be affectionate. Therapist looks at me and tells me I’m lucky to have a husband who loves me so much. There are women out there that would do anything for a man like him.
      I should go home and appreciate my husband. Meanwhile cheater is looking at me with puppy dog eyes.
      I tried telling the therapist that this wasn’t normal behavior for cheater. He and cheater had already started a conversation on baseball and I was like the third wheel.
      Just another example of how manipulative and cunning cheater is and more reason for me to despise him.

  • The marriage therapist we saw did tell Fraudster that he had to give me access to his emails and his cell phone, and thanks to that, I got evidence of tens of thousands of dollars he sent her in his emails. When I uncovered another batch of money he’d sent her on his cell phone, he assaulted me, and I kicked him out. I didn’t know that he had multiple emails and multiple cell phones, so I never saw all of it. Due to his violence, the therapist refused to continue with us together for HER safety, which highlighted that I did the right thing. If she didn’t feel safe with him in a session, he clearly wasn’t a safe person to interact with at all.
    I wonder if the cheaters get together at these retreats and compare notes on how to gaslight and DARVO their chumps.

      • No, and it still infuriates me. He sent the online affair partner/romance scammer/catfisher photos of the gift cards he bought with the code scratched off, so she could cash them without having the physical card. He transferred funds directly from checking and savings. He sent money via Velle. I had emails and photos of the credit card he sent her and emails verifying that he’d paid when she’d run up the limit ($5K) several times. I had physical receipts from Western Union to her “friends” for another $7K, and the emails that he’d sent it. I had it all on a spread sheet with copies of the documentation. Literally hundreds of gift cards with their numbers for verification. I had more than a hundred of the gift cards, the bank statements, letters from the credit card company, the receipts from Western Union. He claimed the Western Union money didn’t go through, but had nothing to prove it. Both the mediator and magistrate said he was entitled to spend money as he chose during our marriage.

        • Is this the UK or Australia? Depending on the state, that’s a bit different than in the US. I’m so sorry you didn’t get that money back. I did but I’m still tempted to report the Schmoops to the Internal Revenue Service. It’s actually been done.

        • So very fucked up. I can only imagine how much he spent on his affairs over 20 years. When I said he should reimburse me he laughed in my face and said “good luck with that.”

  • Ahhhhhh, the old ‘love language’ mantra. Let’s put this into a vernacular Fuckwits can understand.

    Our retreat will enable you to hone your What’sApp skills, perfect your online hook-up profile, teach you how to get a secret PO box and a stash of burner phones in addition to group brainstorming sessions where you can share your best trade secrets!
    We specialize in bringing out the best in your covert narcissism skills and, for today only for the low, low price of $12,000, we’ll kick in mansplaing, gaslighting, and DARVO seminars that guarantee your Chump will stay in the dark and question their own value and sanity for years to come!
    Don’t delay and book today lest you lose your chief cook and bottle washer. You too can have it all!!!

    • The “love language” inventor went to Bible school and has no therapeutic credentials. Here’s one of his choice quotes: “Disappointment is a common emotion when a parent hears one of their children indicate that he/she is gay. Men and women are made for each other—it is God’s design. Anything other than that is outside of that primary design of God.”

      Again, the hubris and delusion of people who claim to know it all about relationships.

      • OMG, FYI, that’s heinous. Thanks for sharing. You gave me some ammo for the next time I hear that claptrap about “love language.”

    • I found out my ex husband had a secret PO box in the early 2000’s. Why would he have that? What do you use it for???

      • Back in the 2000’s, secret credit cards, loan applications, correspondence with attorneys, ……anything financial that he wanted to keep private.

      • I bet he was ordering sex toys and gifts for the OW, wanted a secret place to receive them.

  • This industry preys on the duped chump. Unaware yet that the CHEATER has a character deficit, conscience gap, integrity vacuum, and inability to love or respect the chump from an emotionally healthy place, these retreats do nothing to address the root problem. Instead, the retreats promote recreation, self-discovery, communication, and time spent together as the magic elixir that repairs a marriage. Unless or until the underlying root cause of the offending party is recognized and exposed, this is all a colossal waster of time and money. This industry knows it’s fast easy money to prey upon duped chumps when they’re emotionally wounded.

  • God, these people are so pathetic. They want to blame everything on childhood. I’m sorry but grow the hell up. I had a rather nightmare childhood and it is not an excuse to mistreat people.

    And it’s always the people who didn’t suffer actual abuse who want to claim they get to abuse others because of their “difficult” childhood. “Ooh, my mommy had to work a job so she couldn’t stroke my hair six hours a day and make me feel loved so I HAVE to fuck hookers behind my wife’s back! I’m just so traumatized!”

    Story time! Shortly after I married my ex one of his friends made a comment about his horrible stepdad and “what had happened.” I asked what had happened and the friend goes “Oh! You don’t know?! Well, that’s really his place to tell you, not mine.”

    So I asked my husband. He said he didn’t want to talk about it because it was too painful. I thought damn, it must be bad. I genuinely thought for years that his ex step father may have molested him. Or must have beat him. But something really bad, right? That’s what it sounded like.

    Over a decade later I find out the truth. As a teen, he was larger than his mother and physically threatened her. His stepfather got between them. So then he physically threatened his stepfather. Stepfather was shorter than him but a bodybuilder so he told him to try it and see what happens. My ex backed down.

    That’s the whole story. That’s the horrible abuse he endured. His stepdad wouldn’t let him beat up his mother. Mind fucking blown when I learned that. That’s abuse in his mind. “He wouldn’t let me hit my mom when I wanted to so he’s abusing me!” But this is the guy who screamed at me that I was abusing him when I was crying from him insulting me so it’s not surprising. Just absolutely no personal responsibility or accountability. Everything they do is someone else’s fault.

    • My ex constantly cried how his parents had “kicked him out” as a young person and left him homeless. He claimed it’s because he told them his sister had been playing hooky from school.

      Talked to his sister years later and she said that their parents kicked him out because he refused to stop smoking PCP and their rule was no drugs in the house.

      Made me doubt every sob story he’d ever told me about how horrible his parents were. I see them all the time now (since he died and isn’t keeping me away from them) and they have never been anything but kind. Now I’m pretty sure he kept me away from his family for the last 8 years because he didn’t want me telling them he was abusing me and didn’t want them setting the record straight about his past.

    • I agree! The idea of “core wound therapy” sounds like torture to me–a whole new vocabulary for my EX to justify his behavior and demand more patience and understanding from me while treating me poorly as an expression of his pain. I doubt the therapist would say, “Stop picking at your ‘scabs’ and start paying attention to the damage you are doing by stabbing your wife in the back.”

  • Right around when the first affair was about to be discovered, I was at my most desperate. *I would have done ANYTHING to “save my marriage.”* Which, of course, makes me a vulnerable mark with a target painted on my chest for people who promise miracles for a price. The whole RIC is predatory.

    Fortunately, I was a broke mom with two babies and no income, so I didn’t have the money to sink into couples getaways. Because I would have done it. I would have done anything. I was desperate not to let my marriage fall apart. So, I went the cheaper route: couples therapy. Talking, journaling, explaining how we feel to each other, the whole song and dance. FW never fully participated, called it a waste of time, and told the therapist what he wanted to hear so he could leave earlier. It was so pointless.

    But you wouldn’t have convinced freshly chumped me of that. If you had told me that there was no chance couples therapy would work I would have held onto hope and said something stupid like “Even if there’s only a 0.1% chance this will work, I *have* to take it. I love my husband and I’ll do anything to save my marriage!”

    Desperation and vulnerability. The bedrock of the RIC.

    And I did briefly “win back my H” and “save my marriage” after FW cycled through OW#1 and #2. I steadfastly held the door open for him to come home and, eventually, he did. And we had another year and a half of wedded bliss together. Oh, did I say bliss…? I meant hell. Another year and a half of absolute hell. The marriage was “saved,” he came back and after a month or so of wooing me (to be fair, I was easily wooed) with sentiments plucked from the RIC like “this experience will make us stronger than ever” and things I was desperate to hear like “I was a fool; I’ll never, *ever* hurt you–hurt us!–like that again, Fourleaf,” FW quickly settled in, took off his mask, and became, well… just openly horrible and cruel. I went on antidepressants during the reconciliation year, it was that bad. It was still painful, of course, when he found OW#3 (who became Wifetress) and I went through the hellscape of lost weight, hair, and stress vomiting all day because I didn’t want my marriage to end. But it did end. He packed his bags, took things with him that were “our things” instead of his, told me that he hoped I would never date or introduce our kids to boyfriends or potential stepdads, and skipped off into the sunset leaving me in a puddle to start picking up the pieces and doing the legal work of starting the separation paperwork all over again. If I didn’t have children to care for, I think I would have wanted to die, then and there.

    And that was one of the best days of my life. The direct source of pain (him) was gone. For the final time. I realized (over the course of time/it’s a process, not a sudden realization) that he was a cancerous tumor, to put it indelicately. And all my blood, sweat, and tears that I put into “saving the marriage” was just to keep the tumor in my life. I went through the RIC, and I did get my apologetic, cheating spouse back, and I did “win” reconciliation and it suuuuucked. He was the worst during reconciliation I can look back now and think, “That? That was what I held onto and worked so hard to keep? That person? That relationship? Poison, both of them No wonder I was a wreck.”

    I wouldn’t wish the RIC or reconciliation on my worst enemy. It was one of the worst periods of my life.

    • All of this. FW asked me back too (after kicking me out) and I went. It was three months of absolute hell, and his previously verbal/emotional abuse escalated to physical abuse.

      Looking back, I don’t know what I was trying to save.

    • “For the final time. I realized (over the course of time/it’s a process, not a sudden realization) that he was a cancerous tumor, to put it indelicately. And all my blood, sweat, and tears that I put into “saving the marriage” was just to keep the tumor in my life.”

      Wise words.

  • Color me shocked when my Roman Catholic priest and community offered nothing but support during my divorce. My priest declared this wasn’t a marriage and that God didn’t intend for me to live this way. No judgment or offers of reconciliation retreats. Our community encourages Retrouvaille retreats for crumbling marriages, but when the infidelity and abuse is so egregious, they start the meal train and give the STBX a hard side eye. Amen

    • I love stories like these. My pastor told me I had nothing to work with and to see a lawyer.

      • A friend asked me to see her pastor, who was well known for his kindness and belief in humanity. After I made just a few comments, he said, “You don’t have to say more to convince me. That man is a monster.”
        I got the meal trains, too, from three different churches at the request of friends. I think I cried at every delivery. I was so touched to know there were people I didn’t even know who recognized that what I was going through was horrific.

      • My pastor was also so supportive of me. He tried to help fw, but in order to do that he flat out told fw he would have to walk away from sin and go to IC. FW was not going to walk away from sin.

    • MD, that’s amazing! I envy you. I have longed for this sort of response from my church. What I would have given for them to throw my STBX and ex-friend AP a hard side-eye. A meal train would have been helpful too.

    • Back in the late 1960’s our (Roman Catholic) parish priest encouraged my mom to kick my dad out bc he was such a loser. She was shocked, too That helped her do just that!

  • OMG. I happened upon this at 3:00 am
    in my news feed and sent it to you, Tracy!

    All I can say is THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for this site and your work, which effectively rescued me from this utter and complete bullshit RIC tar pit of insanity and setting me on the path to safety, sanity, and freedom.

  • “As Debra Stangl, the owner of Sedona Soul Adventures and a former divorce attorney, says of her methods: “Most people know more about what they want on their pizza than about what they want in their life and relationship.”

    And former divorce attorney Debra has figured out that what she wants in life is a bigger bank balance, and there’s more money to be made dealing hopium than in being a divorce lawyer.

    • ““Most people know ?more about what they want on their pizza than about what they want in their life and relationship.””

      Right? I may not have known everything I wanted in my life, but I know I wanted a husband I could trust to have my back.

      The only thing I regret is I never had the opportunity to ask fw exactly when it was that he decided he deserved a loyal spouse, but I didn’t.

  • You know what would be REALLY helpful would be a “chump’s retreat”, that the cheater would have to pay for. Forget “making my marriage stronger”, I want to make ME stronger and FW-proof myself. CL, of course, would lead it. We would cheer each other on. We would learn practical ways to be mighty and achieve the nirvana of “meh”.

    • Hahahahaha! Great chump minds think alike, ivyleaguechump! I thought exactly the same thing. See my reply above for proposed workshops & activities. Hell, I’ll organize it for ChumpLady!

    • Ivy League, I fantasize about a founding a hospital for people who are in trauma. Especially a hospital for people who have been cheated on.

      Paid for by the cheater.

  • Fraud.

    I went to a few “marriage therapy” sessions when XH was in faux sex addiction treatment. I say faux because turns out XH was diagnosed as a narcissist with BPD and maybe even a sociopath— therapists treating him knew this and knew he wasn’t doing anything to stop abusing me. The marriage counseling was a further platform to gaslight and blameshift. I still have PTSD symptoms from those sessions. IMO, when Dday occurs, chumps should tell cheater to GTFO at once, go no contact, lawyer up, divorce. The sooner the better. It hurts terribly but the pain is finite. Staying with a cheater and smoking hopeium? . . . The pain is endless.

  • An RIC weekend would make a good movie except the therapists would be little more than caricatures.

    The script/actors for the couple could probably be done honestly, but the very premise of the program is false.

    Vultures.

  • The sand play part made me smile because I participated in that with my therapist by placing figures in the box and drawing sections around them representing the time / space they took up in my life. Then think about how much time I needed and wanted to spend. The sad thing was that I put myself last. There was no room for me and I truly had no idea what to do with myself or what I wanted/ needed for myself at the moment or days out. It was eye opening. I believe we were divorced but the ex still took up a large space as did my kids and parents.
    We verbally visited that exercise a few years later to see who would be on the board and the amount of space they consumed. I had finally made the board! My parents had both passed away. The ex had a much smaller space and my kids space had gotten bigger because I had more space and energy to give.
    That sand box info shocked me at first but definitely left an impression.

    • As a person who has finished raising a child (he’s now 33), retired from a job in which my focus was on others (professor), divorced my cheating, fetish cross-dresser ex who dignified his fetish as “transgenderism,” but who is now the primary caretaker of my 96 year old mother, wondering when I will be able to focus specifically on me, your words give me hope!

    • And I would never want to climb in that sandbox with the ex trying to reconcile but it would have been interesting to see him add all his toys to the box because I’m sure we wouldn’t have made the cut.

      • Climb into the sandbox with my cheater ex? Id be tempted to bury him in the sand like a cat turd.

  • What a load of crap.

    May I rewrite please:

    ‘In order to prevent the affair happening again…’

    Fkn leave.

  • I had ideas that the Protestant version of this type of thing might get us back together. I asked for a separation, and he ran to the beach. I looked into these sorts of things and read the glowing recommendations, weighing the costs and approaches. But he acted like the abandonment was no big deal, which it was. Looking back, it was frankly the most cataclysmic event in our marriage. No “rescue” program would deal with that.

    The coach I was seeing at the time (a good one, not a faker like Chump Lady calls out) conferred with the therapist she was working under with my permission, and he said that he had never heard of anyone who went to one of those “rescue” programs that had long-term success. Never. Earlier on in his career, he had bought the hopium himself and sent clients to those sorts of things, but he regretted it now.

    A friend of mine actually went to three marriage retreats with one of the groups I had looked into, and her husband blew it up every time afterward. She finally packed up the family motorhome while her husband was away on business and left. Predictably, he wanted to go a fourth time and had the program egging him on. Nope. She was done.

  • Going to couples therapy, we had to use “I” statements to communicate. “I” did and he didn’t. “I” found out about his cheating. My “I” statements became “I” hate you, “I” want you to leave, “I” am divorcing you.

  • There’s a “marriage intensive” facility in CO Springs. For roughly $7000, you get intensive therapy for 5 days. The FW had booked our intensive RIGHT before I found out about his cheating. He had only admitted to porn use and “inappropriate conversations” with women at that point. I thought there was hope for my marriage until I found out he had fucked someone within weeks of our wedding 15.5 years earlier. I changed the locks that day, but he still begged me to go with him as he knew he couldn’t get his $$$ back.
    I agreed, but with conditions…
    I drove my own car. He paid for my gas. I saved every receipt for food and any expenses. He paid me back every penny I spent AND I stayed at the cute little Air B&B he had booked for us while he stayed at a motel 6 a couple miles away.
    I told the therapist on day 1 “I won’t be going back to him, but fully intend to enjoy my week in Colorado on his dime.” It was a beautiful week, paid for by FW.
    The RIC is very much like the diet industry…very expensive and full of false promises. I’m SO grateful I found LACGAL and this Chump Nation when I did!

    • AH, I remember the Family Life Marriage retreat out of CO Springs but in NM!
      Attended one of those for a weekend with the fuckwit to “work on the marriage”
      In one of the breakout writings, he wrote that
      “ the infidelity was because he had never accepted me in the marriage and he neede time to do that(been marriage 15 years at that point
      What a crock of shit
      At the end of the weekend, they asked everyone to stand to recommit to the marriage
      I stayed sitting, he was sweating
      Self preservation at its best
      ❤️

  • Tracy- Maybe you should descibe the “retreat” you would have for victums and their FWs. Include what courses would be offered. Or, make this a Friday challenge.

  • I never went to a resort therapy RIC sponsored fakation, and I am so glad. First of all, the money is outrageous! Second, therapy for whom? Who benefits? Certainly not the chump! I did have some memorable events when my Ex was working long distance, coming home one weekend a month, or I flew to meet him.

    We had two young children, he had taken a job with good pay and benefits during a strange economy turndown. He was in real estate, and the Feds hired him to talk to business owners dealing with the recession. Then they moved the office, several states away. Anyway, I flew to meet him a couple of times, and he was physically present, but not mentally present. I was afraid to figure out what that meant. Then he called me, wanting to go on a vacay with his “buddies” from the office.

    I told him if he went, I would file for divorce. I was working, full time, taking care of two small children, taking care of our home and our business properties, and HE NEEDED A VACATION???? Seriously, something cosmic shifted inside me. I didn’t need to know the details, I had to figure out what was best for me and the children. I knew I had to plan on how to get out. It took me a lot longer than I wanted to stay, but I finally was able to exit the marriage with some hope of stability for the kids. Sure, he was cheating. That is what I didn’t want to know, that was the weird feeling churning inside when we were “trying to keep the marriage alive.” The RIC crap is so bad for a chump, it should be declared toxic. I wanted to believe in that dream so bad!!! My FOO background had prepared me for a “less than” life. I finally woke up and started to change my way of thinking and acting. That cosmic shift saved my life. I didn’t have Chump Lady. I had to find my own path forward. I am so glad I did!

  • What has been said here many times is the danger of traumatized chumps revealing information that FW can (and will use against them) in divorce proceedings. I am in the middle of this now. Strung out on hopium, I desperately gushed and wanted everything to be my fault because I was in the throes of deep TRAUMA. I had no idea about character disorders, covert narcissism, sociopathy. All I wanted was a fix to keep my family together.

    FW is now happily using many of my highly personal, faulty “revelations” against me in divorce and as part of his ongoing smear campaign. The RIC is reckless and abusive. I can’t imagine a trauma victim in any other context — earthquake, car accident, flood — being put through a similar meat grinder? It makes my blood boil. As an attorney, I advise chumps to keep their mouths shut from the get-go.

  • “In order to prevent an affair from happening again, we…”

    Yeah they lost me right there. Let’s both take responsibility for this thing that just “happened.”

    Thank you times a million, CL, for giving us the ability to see through this happy bullshit to what they’re really saying. I feel like it’s like a superpower. Chumpsight.

    • Agree!!!

      And thanks for the reminder that x actually said it “just happened” and shifted half the blame onto me for a 2.5-year, lie-every-day affair. No doubt his individual therapist supported this BS thinking. Thankfully we didn’t bother with wreckonciliation. Honestly, had FW not said he wanted to marry the OW, I might have jumped at marriage therapy because I was a shell of myself, high on hopium, and trauma bonded. So glad I was spared that wasteful indignity.

      Also, yes, a million thanks to CL!

  • I kinda really hate the spiritual get outta jail (responsibility) card as it is.

    But layer in thousands of dollars on some weird marriage repair vacation just puts more pressure on a wounded person to accept “proof” of the cheater’s changes.

    I don’t buy it at all.

  • Sand box?! Ffs….save a couple grand and shove the cheating fucker’S head in the kitty litter box,

  • Reconnecting on vacay is all fine and good when you can afford it. But the issues exist in the real world, the daily life, not on Fantasy Island.

  • Wait! I saw this movie! Literally, it’s called Couple’s Retreat. The RIC once again recycling Hollywood fantasy that is the work of literal FICTION to make money off the poor morals of cheaters. Ugh.

  • I propose LACGAL retreats – for some REAL healing and priceless advice, experience, strength, hope, and validation from other chumps, led by the incomparably brilliant, creative and snark-tastic Chump Lady!

    Workshops to include:

    Hopium detox!
    FW blameshift scripts
    Gaslighting Identification
    GINR detection
    GAL success stories
    Grieving the end of the fantasy
    101 Red Flags 🚩
    Trusting Yourself
    You Can’t Fix Shitty Character
    “It’s not us, it’s THEM”
    How to get FW to pay restitution
    Financial Amends $preadsheets
    Co-parenting with grey rock & software

    With SPECIAL ACTIVITIES like

    🖤 🎼🎵 Chump Karaoke, lyrics by UXWorld 🎤

    🖤 Pin-the-blame-on-the-Cheater game

    🖤 “trust that they suck” mantra meditation

    🖤 Dunk the OP booth

    🖤 Un-bend to their Will yoga

    🖤 Primal Drum Circle to transform anger into energetic music

    I’m down with running the meditation & drum circles, as I’ve done this at a couple of retreats in the past.

    Whaddya say, Tracy?
    Chump Nation?

        • And a bonfire. With effigies. We could do an effigy creation workshop – it doesn’t have to represent a person, it could be situations or our former powerlessness or the scales that fell from our eyes. And smores. Or fondue. And archery and swimming. Summer camp for traumatized adults.

      • instead of drum circles (kind of loud perhaps) we could wash that fuckwit right outta our hair and dance in delight!

    • 🤣
      Sounds fabulous, but I have to agree with CL about the drum circles.
      I’d be glad to run a learning to laugh at the disordered workshop where we tell our funniest FW stories and crack FW jokes.

    • I actually approached my women’s meditation group leader to see if she would host a peer support group for chumps. She said it was outside her “scope”. I do think that a local, inexpensive support group similar to a 12-step group program is absolutely needed for maintenance. Chumps should probably be directed to Domestic Abuse Programs way more often based on initial trauma.

  • Is there a test you can give your partner before you get married or serious to determine if they have the same values as you? Marriage is a binding legal and moral contract between 2 people. The directions on the package are that two people have to compromise and communicate and that the things we do as single independent people can’t be done the same way once we sign the contract. Other directions on the package say that parents make sacrifices for their children. Surely there are questions we can ask our “dates” that circle these things. Like, do you pay your entire cable bill each month or just enough to keep the cable TV on? Or, how many glasses of wine do you need each night to relax and is it every night or every other night? Or, how much THC do you need in your pot to make you relax? I think I’d have fallen into every reconciliation trap available if it weren’t for this website and a previous really bad experience that led me here a few years ago. Seriously. Who doesn’t love a vacation? Nothing says commitment more than forking over $12,000 for a week of alone time with the person that kicked you in the groin – over and over and over again.

    • I can think of a test, RVA, but only for couples who are considering marriage. Before you agree to marry, ask for a pre-nup that gives the bulk of the money and property to the chump if there is cheating or abuse. Indicate you absolutely will enforce it and will use any and all means at your disposal if you so much as suspect cheating.

      Asking questions of your dates is useless in many cases since they will lie and mirror your values in order to get you. You might get the odd one here and there who admits the truth, so it’s worth a shot.

    • Never getting married again, and unlikely to cohabit again either. I will never legally entangle myself with anyone again. I want complete freedom to walk away if things devolve. If I have another relationship, I keep my own bank account and my own lease/mortgage (if s/he does move in s/he can pay “rent”, but I’m not adding anyone’s name to anything. Better yet – let’s be neighbors! I’m neurodivergent and I like my own space and I hate sharing a bed. FW had sleep apnea, snored super loudly, sweated like a pig, talked in his sleep, and moved around a lot. I sleep like a log and don’t move all night. Suffice it to say I never really slept well during my 10 year marriage). I used to be a staunch “til death do us part” girl, but not anymore. My marriage literally almost killed me, and my divorce cost $50,000. Fuck all that. If the person who wants to be with me isn’t cool with it, then thank you, next.

      I’m very, very happy single and will probably stay single.

      • “I will never legally entangle myself with anyone again. I want complete freedom to walk away if things devolve. If I have another relationship, I keep my own bank account and my own lease/mortgage…” YEP. All the yeps.

      • OMG, you put up with that your entire marriage? You deserve a medal! I can relate to this ISTL. I am also neurodivergent and had the same problem with sharing the bed, especially with a snorer with restless leg syndrome. I also have suffered from insomnia since infancy, so it’s hard enough to sleep without a guy beside me jogging in bed half the night and making a buzz saw sound the other half. By the time he got into his fourties it had become intolerable. So he knew I had crucial health reasons for requesting we sleep apart and he agreed to it. We still had sex but I would go to my room to sleep. Yet of course he used it as one of his bagged salad style excuses for cheating. It was so mean of me, putting my health before his desire to have me available for random groping as I’m sleeping.🙄

        I’ll be staying single too, barring the miraculous appearance of an exceptional man who accepts and appreciates me as I am. Odds of that are not good.
        Enjoy your fabulous single life, because you sure as hell earned it.

        • I know, right? Oh, and he almost never cut his toenails so they were sharp and would literally rip holes in my sheets. Even worse was that he started using sleep as an abuse tactic. If he couldn’t sleep, he would make damn sure I couldn’t either. He’d flop around and sigh loudly, or he’d get up twenty times an hour to stomp to the bathroom. Nevermind it kept me awake. But if I were sick, or had a crick in my neck and needed to shift position or, god forbid, cough, he’d scream at me for keeping him awake. And the whole next day for ruining his night. There were many nights I stayed in an extremely uncomfortable position (and consequently awake) rather than risk that. He refused to get any help for his sleep apnea (he needed a cPAP and refused to go to the doctor for a sleep study so he could get one) and would sometimes stop breathing at night, so I felt like I couldn’t sleep out of fear he’d stop breathing. Sometimes I had to shake him to get him to start breathing again.

          I’m amazed every day that I put up with all that for so long. Now that I have my own bed again, I sleep so well. My sheets stay clean. My blankets are still on the bed in the morning. I’m warm enough (ex husband kept the bedroom at about 60 degrees F). The only thing I like in my bed is a purring cat.

          Sex is great and all, but honestly? Not worth the rest of it.

      • I’m with you – I’m still unraveling – I just closed on my house getting his name off and now working on my name change. I’m not doing this again.

  • Tracy,
    You are a famous champion of chumps. One chump at a time you are changing the narrative that infidelity can be “fixed”. This reminds me all too much of the “pray the gay away” movement. RIC bullshit needs to be similarly called out for the pathetic money-grab that it is. These “one year ago” success stories only demonstrate that the cheaters learn to go deeper underground and adopt sneakier means, even if they could “play” the faithful part for a couple of months after early Ddays. By the time Chump realizes that all the work was a mirage, the therapists have sailed off on their yachts of profit and Chumps have to do the harder work of acknowledging the lost sunk costs and peeling off the layers of FW stink.

    Thank you for being our Champion, Tracy.
    Thank you, CN, for helping me make the hardest and BEST changes of my life!

  • Yeah, the safest place in the world for a chump is at Club Med, aka Swinger’s International Fuckwitting Club. The cheaters can go straight from therapy to browbeating the chump into a threesome, because oh, it will be a healing experience. No doubt the “therapists” suggest “exploring sexuality” as part of the “treatment.”

    Surely my cynicism is caused by my core wounds and led to the demise of my marriage. I mean, who can stand a wife who knows bullshit when she sees it?

    My cheater’s even fuckwittier younger brother was swinging at Swinger’s International Fuckwitting Club on his *honeymoon* FFS. Then they had kids and his wife didn’t want to do it anymore. Because yeah, it’s not exactly a healthy environment for kids to have a bunch of perverts over at your house every weekend. So he told her okay, they would stop. Now he’s just an ordinary serial cheater instead of a swinger.

  • Is it just me, or does the RIC overwhelmingly target female chumps? I clicked on the link just to satisfy my curiosity: all the couples they describe are cheating husbands and faithful wives. If you needed any more evidence that it’s all a scam (spoiler alert: it’s all a scam) ponder this: that women are the ones who have been bombarded with fairy-tale fanatasy couplings, from earliest childhood right through that magic wonderful moment where you stand at the altar in the most expensive dress you will ever wear exactly once and hear the man of your dreams say “I do” (unless I get tired of doing).

    I guess the scam targets us because they already know we can be lured into believing in fairy tales. I can think of quite a few other things I could do with $12,000. A week-long pick-me dance doesn’t justify the expense … ymmv.

  • People who are chomped don’t need ‘couples’ therapy. I’m so angry that cheating is so often declared not to be abuse, but this idea that it is not abused is never and could never be explained. There’s no way in which cheating is not abuse. So you have an abusive person who feels entitled to abuse and keep a relationship while entering to another one, and you’re supposed to continue on with this person who became single behind your back and trust them? It’s beyond infuriating the lack of accountability for these terrorizes is horrible. Obviously lots of of psych researchers and those conducting studies etc are cheating on their spouse. Read Why Does He Do That by Lindsay Bancroft – abusers know exactly what they are doing and do it for benefits to themselves of which there are plenty. All gain no pain only the other person suffers. No cheater has an ounce of empathy so they don’t suffer at all except being ‘annoyed’ hearing you not being ‘pleasant’ after abuse an any small amount of money they are willing to try to spend to keep themselves conveniences by you.

    Free child care, attention, cooking and cleaning right.

    Not that they won’t be cruel to you on top of that to avoid hearing any criticism.

  • We spent almost 1K on a therapist that told me she couldn’t predict my needs and that I had to “tell her what I needed” to heal. FW agreed wholeheartedly and like another poster said above, it felt like they’d ganged up on me to imply I was being too difficult and hard to please. Why the hell am I paying you $150/hr to tell you what I need???? If I knew that we wouldn’t be here would we? This was a month after Dday when I was still in severe shock. That was our last session and I haven’t entertained the idea of therapy ever since. I’m convinced many “therapists” out there are “anti Chump” and “pro-FW”.

    • My STBX and I met with one particular therapist for about a year who said while there was nothing to excuse my STBX’s horrible betrayal, she also wanted to know, what are ways you’ve contributed to tension in the marriage, Juniper? After feeling like I’d had the wind slapped out of me – I eventually came up with “I’ve yelled at him on occasion?” So then – in therapy bc STBX had an almost two-year affair with a close friend of mine – we were discussing how I sometimes “spoke too loudly”. Can’t believe I actually went back for another session after that. After eventually dumping her, I tried another marriage therapist who refused to speak to me individually bc the practice she was part of was trying to “foster partnership” and there could be no secrets. She didn’t last long either.

      • Juniper,

        “in therapy bc STBX had an almost two-year affair with a close friend of mine – we were discussing how I sometimes “spoke too loudly”.

        This cracks me up. In a custody hearing, FW claimed I was an unfit mother. His proof? The kids said “Mommy is too yelly.”

        😂😂😂😂

  • Traitor X and I both came from abusive, dysfunctional, bonkers violent homes. Both sets of parents were all untreated alcoholics and both sets of parents were first marriages and not divorced.

    He and I met in AA. He had arrived there through the courts. I had sought help voluntarily and had been in recovery for five years when we started dating. Therapy, Al Anon, ACA, AA. When we started dating was 27 and he was 26. We had been friends prior to dating almost two years.

    Because of our backgrounds, I requested going to therapy as learning, preventive maintenance. How to do a relationship well, which was not something modeled to either of us. He agreed.

    Therapy was a regular part of our entire 27 year relationship.

    TWENTY SEVEN YEARS. Monthly, bi-monthly, whenever a sticky issue arose. Ongoing, regular guidance and counseling. The whole motherfucking entire 27 years starting few months into dating until DDay. I SAID TO HIM, “I don’t want to bother with a relationship unless I am with someone who wants to learn to do it well.” You cannot get any more crystal fucking clear than that. He agreed to go.

    When DDay hit, after all that effort and time and work, I thought we both put into it (and money!), it blew me apart so badly I am not sure I will ever recover from it. He had been lying lying lying for who knows how long about who knows what and whom.

    TWENTY SEVEN YEARS OF THERAPY.

    He continues to lie. He lies to our daughter. And everyone else. He cheats on the cockroach he cheated with
    (the one I knew for sure about who was attached to DDay in 2017).

    Cheating by definition occurs only in the context of a committed relationship.

    The CONTEXT has NOTHING to do with the CAUSE.

    In my off-the-charts-pain-scale-faces pain, I actually paid that bonehead Michelle Weiner Davis 1000.00 for bonehead phone counseling and was actually entertaining the emergency 10K couples counseling bullshit snake oil scam when I thankfully found Chump Lady. Divine intervention, IMHO.

    I am sad but glad to be divorced from that POS.

    I didn’t know he was a traitor. I was duped. I actually got the “nice guy”, in that he kept his rot under wraps around me as long as he could. And he still tries! 🙄

    That rot was in full view on the table for the grimy co-homewrecking cockroach, who happily jumped on board the traitorous train wreck.

    Let the moron OW (and everyone else they is fucking) have them.

    When someone shows you their rotten core, stand up for yourself and hit the launch codes.

    • “THE CONTE T HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH THE CAUSE” WOW. Just wow. Thank you VH. I hope someday you will write a book

    • Velvet Hammer – we have an awful lot in common! From 2017 Ddays to seeking counseling just to grow the relationship to the shared 12 Steps. We have been through the wringer, you & I. I appreciate what you share and how you do it. Thanks for telling your story!

    • “I didn’t know he was a traitor. I was duped. I actually got the “nice guy”, in that he kept his rot under wraps around me as long as he could. And he still tries! 🙄

      That rot was in full view on the table for the grimy co-homewrecking cockroach, who happily jumped on board the traitorous train wreck.

      Let the moron OW (and everyone else they is fucking) have them.

      When someone shows you their rotten core, stand up for yourself and hit the launch codes.”

      ^^^^^^
      THIS

      I had no idea what he was. I thought I’d found one of the good ones. He successfully kept me in the dark for almost 15 years. OW KNEW he was cheating on me. She was cool with that. And that is why no matter how hard she tries to look like one, she is not a good person. I finally got to the point where I was glad to make him HER problem instead of mine. No doubt if he had lived he would eventually have cheated on her too.

  • I never experienced this RIC shit show, thankfully. I did, however, go to a marriage counselor for another issue years before D-day. After establishing a rapport with then-husband (btw, the therapist seemed to be walking on eggshells, too), the therapist asked if then-husband could understand Spinach’s POV. FW stared blankly. The therapist seemed stunned at this blatant inability to empathize. Red flag! 🚩

  • While reading this, did anyone else anxiously contemplate bills and kids’ future tuition and think, wow, that racket is like printing free money!… then a second later picture the chumps you would have to bilk looking more and more brittle and suicidal with each successive day of therapeutic/spiritual gaslighting and normalization/minimization of abuse?

    Looks like I’m just not wired to exploit and rob innocent people who’ve already been through hell. Here’s hoping that, during these retreats, chumps meet each other and stay in touch to support each other and totally blow the program.

    • HoC, Yes, I certainly thought of bills and personal expenses. I was particularly gutted when I downloaded my story to an intake person at a betrayal trauma center. At the end of the conversation, she told me it would only cost $15,000. I literally hyperventilated. She went on to say that “just today,” they were offering a 50% discount — if I would sign-up before the end of the phone call. I collected myself enough to tell the women she should be ashamed of herself, that she was an absolute bottom-feeder taking advantage of people at a time of utter despair. The good news is that after that call I decided the only one who could really help me was ME. I walked out the door and filed for divorce.

  • I was the bargain appliance. $3000 for marriage counseling over 21 years was only $143 per year to keep me running as his household help.
    His sense of entitlement always showed when I tried to use insurer covered counselors & he wanted to stay with certain ones & pay out of pocket. It seemed like he was all puffed up thinking how special he was, but he was probably more pragmatic: paying a little more to keep me around for the cover of respectability I gave to him. And the cover of “wonderful provider and good man” the well cared for kids gave to the guy who was always out of town.

  • “float in a pool ring
    Imago therapy

    “core wound” exploration
    love languages

    holotropic breathwork
    repetitive breathing patterns

    sandplay, where the couple arranged random objects in a large sandbox then stepped back to observe the story they had unconsciously told through their arrangements.

    Soul Guides”

    Oh, ffs! 😂🙄😂

    Even when I was trying to make myself believe it wasn’t happening, I’d *never* have fallen for any of this utterly daft claptrap, let alone spent thousands of pounds on it.

    I get that sometimes people are desperate, and hopium can be strong, but when does just old fashioned common sense kick in?

    Oh dear.

  • RIC vacation sounds so good, like hopium crack.
    I wish I had put the hopium pipe down sooner and just looked at FW’s pattern of withholding critical information. But I only caught on to the extent of that years too late. A little truth leaked out with each new counselor. Too bad I couldn’t have had the true information in real time.

  • I always feel a little twinge when I read these RIC posts because I was exit-affaired and discarded and never got so much as one therapy session out of Best Regards. Not that I’m pining for the experience of paying hundreds or thousands of dollars to be told his cheating was my fault…but every now and then I wish I had gotten the chance to say my piece in a space where he couldn’t belittle me or shout me down.

    That being said, I fully realize that if Best Regards had been capable of hearing anyone but himself, or anything but what he already believed, we wouldn’t have been in that situation in the first place.

    The only way to win with narcs is not to play.

    • Okupin, honestly, you didn’t miss much. Our poor therapist got himself in a total knot, he couldn’t reconcile me ‘staying non- judgemental’ with me ‘expressing my feelings’. I remember saying ‘but, what he did was fucking horrible so surely me judging it shows us all that I’m sane and have some self respect – what do you want me to do, pretend I don’t judge it and make some shit up instead?’ After that, he just concentrated on FW and I spent every session bored out of my brains. I’m not kidding, I honestly used to pretend to be a lizard by slowing down my breathing and staying motionless for the whole session. Neither of them ever noticed 🙂

    • Okupin, honestly, you didn’t miss much. Our poor therapist got himself in a total knot, he couldn’t reconcile me ‘staying non- judgemental’ with me ‘expressing my feelings’. I remember saying ‘but, what he did was fucking horrible so surely me judging it shows us all that I’m sane and have some self respect – what do you want me to do, pretend I don’t judge it and make some shit up instead?’ After that, he just concentrated on FW and I spent every session bored out of my brains. I’m not kidding, I honestly used to pretend to be a lizard by slowing down my breathing and staying motionless for the whole session. Neither of them ever noticed 🙂

  • Hey, CL & CN,
    Given the RIC topic, I looked back over how I discovered CL in the first place. It was in an RIC chat space (sorry, I can’t remember which one, but does it matter?). Someone mentioned CL offhandedly and my survival ears perked up! It was the anti-RIC lifeboat I didn’t even know existed! I immediately left that other site, looked up CL, downloaded LACGAL, and never once looked back!

    That makes me wonder if I shouldn’t go back to those cesspools to offer a lifeboat now & then. It literally only took one mention and it was like the sunlight poured into the cave I was in.
    Not as some slick evangelist, but out of compassion. How many other ChumpDivas are out there rolling their eyes and thinking, “Really?”

  • Yeah, it makes me so angry to see ppl being taken advantage of on these RIC Disneyland adventure vacations. What a load of bs that is.
    It shouldn’t even be legal! How do the providers of those programs look themselves in the mirror? I guess again it’s just proof that nothing is more important than getting rich for some ppl. Doesn’t matter who you hurt doing it.
    We need to have mission planes drop LACCAL flyers and “INFIDELITY IS ABUSE” pamphlets on these compounds like bags of rice and life saving foods at times of war.
    What a shame it’s legal to take ppl’s money to abuse them and gaslight them even deeper.
    There are so many injustices in this world. I wonder if there will ever come a time in our evolution as humans that cheating will be called out and recognized for the abuse that it is and how perverse and far reaching the trauma goes. I doubt it.
    At least some ppl get it, thank God for that!!

  • On the first day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”
    On the second day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me
    “What’s YOUR attachment issue?” and
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”
    On the third day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me
    “Don’t hate the side dish!”
    “What’s YOUR attachment issue?” and
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”
    On the fourth day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me,
    “FW’s phone is private!”
    “Don’t hate the side dish!”
    “What’s YOUR attachment issue?” and
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”
    On the fifth day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me,
    “It can’t be HPV!”
    “FW’s phone is private!”
    “Don’t hate the side dish?”
    “What’s YOUR attachment issue?” and
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”
    On the sixth day of RIC retreat the RICista said to me,
    “Contemplate forgiveness!”
    “It can’t be HPV!”
    “FW’s phone is private!”
    “Don’t hate the side dish?”
    “What’s YOUR attachment issue?” and
    “What did you do to make them cheat?”

    Please finish this, CN, and feel free to improve the rhyme scheme. That’s all I remember or want to remember and a few are borrowed from fellow chumps, lol.

  • Yeah – I went to IMAGO weekend retreat (of course I organised and paid for it). To be fair they did call me afterwards and tell me to run like my hair was on fire, but I’d already worked that out for myself, having found ChumpLady that very weekend, when I had those terrible feelings of be bullied for asking for minimum decent behaviour – should have saved myself $4,000.

  • Why does everything get blamed on wounds from our childhood? I feel like its another way to not take responsibility for being a shitty person. Every day when you wake up is a new day full of choices to be made…either fuck around on your spouse and lie about it or don’t. I feel like that should be an easy one.

  • Well I knew a serial cheater who met his second wife at one of these retreats he was attending with his first wife. He and wife #1 flew from Connecticut to California for the scam. It obviously didn’t help their marriage since they divorced and he moved down south to con wife #2. That marriage imploded as well since he didn’t work and spent his days jerking off to porn. Now he lives in California and has conned his son into buying him a boat so he can screw around with a bunch of different women. The son is trauma bonded to his father and he should have bought himself a house rather than a trawler for his father. Not my circus or monkeys.

  • Yes, I used to listen to Marriage helpers podcast. It became apparent to me pretty quick that its a podcast advertisement to get you to sign up for their workshop. I would listen to it at first and try to get a take away. After a bit I started saying WTF? their advice sucks. Stopped listening and decided these marriage saving retreat’s are not for me.

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