Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

UBT: Destroying Marriages to Improve Them

blowupApologies for the late post. Was driving to Michigan (just arrived) when I realized the scheduling plugin didn’t work… so here it is. Back to normal tomorrow!

A submission here from “Deaun” to the Universal Bullshit Translator that was too messed up to pass over.

According to my counselor [the affair] was a subconscious way of blowing up our marriage to improve it. It was physiological, my brain enjoyed the dopamine.

I’m assuming from the “my brain enjoyed the dopamine” Deaun is the cheater? If so, I give him props for submitting his therapist’s get-out-of-remorse-free bullshit. On the other hand, there’s enough therapy quackery that I wouldn’t be entirely shocked if some nitwit told a chump that no, they secretly enjoyed their betrayal. Subconsciously of course. You can’t prove it if it’s subconscious.

But more likely what we’re dealing with here are two tenets of Reconciliation Industrial Complex that always need debunking —

1.) Affairs improve marriages.

2.) Affairs are addictive.

According to my counselor [the affair] was a subconscious way of blowing up our marriage to improve it.

Okay, for your next therapy appointment I’d like you to bring a bucket of tar and pour it all over your therapist’s office. If he complains, tell him you were just destroying his office in order to improve it. And hey, that was an ugly sofa anyway.

If he gets upset, tell him your urge to pour a bucket of tar all over his office was subconscious. I’m super sorry it resulted in actual damage to his office, but hey, subterranean urges — what can you do? Heck, we probably evolved to have them.

Shrug. Don’t apologize.

It was physiological, my brain enjoyed the dopamine.

My brain enjoys dopamine too. Especially the dopamine that is released when I eat German Christmas cookies. Put me around a plate of lebkuchen and I cannot be responsible for my actions. I LOVE lebkuchen.

We’re dealing with a dopamine high here. If those cookies did not want to be eaten, then they shouldn’t have looked so alluring with their green and red sprinkles. Should I stop eating lebkuchen and fit into my pants? Let me ask you something — do you think carrot sticks release dopamine? Or lunge squats? Or those sugar-free protein bars that taste like glue and cat litter? NO. NO DOPAMINE.

I DESERVE my feel-good lebkuchen high. Fuck the cost! Fuck my pants!

My lebkuchen cravings are physiological.

And they’re probably subconscious too. Excuse me, I have to end this column now. I hear the cookies calling me.


This is a rerun. I’m on the road today.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
    • Met too Attie. I’m also traveling today and thought my phone was messed up but then I began to worry about CL’s wellbeing.
      Glad all is well.

  • Wow, Chump Lady! You had to drive many states over just to escape the snakes?
    Hope you have a safe journey and enjoy your snake-free time in Michigan❤️

  • I was wondering, too. Sorry the plug-in didn’t work! My ex FW’s plug-in didn’t work for me either but for others. 🙁

    Morality and responsibility seem to have been thrown away by these so-called marriage counselors, especially when the cheated upon have these traits up to their eyeballs. So sad for the poster.

    • Yeah, morality means making a judgement and they seem to be allergic to judgement. It’s come to be synonymous with prudery and bigotry in our culture. A “no judgement” environment is one of the ways therapists get people to open up, but it’s gone too far. Harmful, cruel actions towards others should be judged and condemned. Any therapist who misses that opportunity will not have success in actually helping patients.

      • Well said. No judgement sort of. My counselor that I had when I first found the cheating was very pushy with me about leaving. I guess my problem was I wanted help navigating that I wanted my marriage not to be pushed out. Anyhow that helped me find an RIC that got a lot of my money and attention. It kept me high on hopium for another 5 plus years.

    • This is why I’m beginning to get angry that the only options for anyone with a problem is “counseling”.

      According to my sister who became a counselor at age 50, there are a lot of “rules” about what you can say and do or not. Mostly not. To me it sounds like they have to agree with everything yet can’t say anything and sure can’t share a personal point of view.

      Side note: For her, that works because she barely ever talks about anything personal including telling me things about her own kids. And she calls me every week.

      • I am more than certain this is why my FW ex tried to pressure me into couples counselling instead of talking to someone who’s going to hold him accountable. I refused and I got individual counselling first. My individual counsellor began to get very suspicious of the story of events from him and began to question the FW’s individual therapist’s credentials based on the BS he told me. She told me as well as she professionally could that I deserved way better. Then I went back to him and asked him based on what I got from her, turns out he never did the homework what his therapist told him to and expected me to believe he had any intention of not cheating again.

        I realized couple’s counselling with him would be a place he would use to abuse me further, dumped him and cancelled the session he insisted on.

  • Well duh. Subconsciously I wanted to kill the crooked ???? sparkledick with my bare hands. That would have been a dopamine rush for sure. But I chose to run like my hair was on fire…

  • Hmm, yeah, I wouldn’t put it past a RIC therapist or just general, shitty, haven’t-read-a-book-in-the-twenty-years-since-earning-degree therapist to say the victim willed the affair for the dopamine fix or as a tear-down/rebuild.

    Let me describe the RIC/couples therapists I had the bad luck to be dragged to:

    1) Japanese-American whisper lady. On seeing that I had feelz, you know, actual emotions about FW’s cheating, she became hushed to the point of being completely inaudible. I mean it was like watching a silent movie. It was meant as a signal to me to TONE IT DOWN. Weird because my voice has always been too soft and it was an issue for public speaking so she was reacting to intensity, not volume. Fail.

    2) Miss Prissy from Foghorn Leghorn. You know, the homely spinster chicken (misogynist trope unless you get a bad therapist like this and then you’re guiltily grateful for tropes) who perpetually crushes on Foghorn. She liked her some FW, wouldn’t stop tittering and touching herself as he spoke. Meanwhile she shut me down every time I made a peep. Fail.

    3) Green cocktail mini dress CSAT lady. Yes, to treat sex addicts, this middle-aged Columbia grad wears a green satin mini dress with puffy little girl sleeves in February. Granted she stuffed herself into it over a turtleneck and tights but then perved the outfit back up with zip-up CMF boots. It felt like she was getting competitive towards me , kept asking me where I went to school (not Columbia! You win!) and how old I was though she didn’t ask the same of FW. Then she asked if *I* had an attachment disorder. Based on…13 minutes of observation? Ugh, fail.

    4) Angry Doddering Ichabod Sex Addict: It seems this RIC therapist (who claimed to be a recovering sex addict– ick) thought I’d signed up for attack therapy. I always suspect that men with hokey, mealy-mouthed, nasal voices like Ronald Reagan are secretly rageaholics and/or pedos because I had two nasty school principals who spoke like that. This one did not disappoint. I kind of messed with him and poked the bear before walking out because I’m chump-benumbed, plus he was very old and clearly unarmed and I’m originally from NYC where the bar is pretty high for scary. Fail.

      • God, getting couples therapy during the affair while FW was in the throes of gaslighting would have been an even more royal waste of money and might have driven me completely bonkers. At least the RIC fiasco led to formal “full disclosure” which in retrospect is comedy gold and demystified that dog shit affair. In fact it was only on D-day, FW disclosed the assets he’d been hiding to fund the affair. But up until that point I’d had no idea there were any assets to spare. For things like visiting my dying mother abroad (heartbreaking and unforgivable). Or getting out-of-pocket medical treatments for my chronically ill son (worse). Or couples therapy. Or new underwear.

        Not kidding on that last one. I was still wearing 11 year old underwear while Schmoopie ordered the most expensive items on the menu, guzzled top shelf cocktails, whined for expensive trips (Paris was apparently on her future roster before D-Day), and did weekly tacky fast fashion retail sprees with the surplus cash she saved by not having to pay her own way for lifestyle crap.

        But there were a lot of upsides to being led to believe we were financially struggling well beyond the point we actually were, one of which is that I followed through on my dream of giving the kids the kind of childhood I had growing up in a starving artist household which was financially strapped but culturally rich and where I learned to do everything myself. So I was getting myself and the kids fighting fit from DIY-ing everything, using free and outdoor activities as cheap entertainment, becoming a master of finding preowned everything, taking advantage of free concerts, getting organic farm shares and cooking everything from scratch (full organic diet probably did more to heal my son than anything else)– all while FW and Schmoops turned themselves into bloated blobs from typically adulterated restaurant grub and binge drinking. The kids saw all the DIY and got into the habit of making and building things, they can cook and developed an interest in the political and climate woes of fast fashion because we weren’t partaking in it. I also dredged up inexpensive extracurriculars for the kids and they all took off in music and art and are now easily eligible for university programs. Not to mention all the amazing people we met at conservatories, art expositions, concerts, political events, organic markets and street fairs, thrifting, etc. Not getting shitty, likely traumatizing couples therapy at that time was a bonus.

    • Quack no. 3 sounds like a Sarah Silverman, dressing in a pinafore, sporting pigtails.

      • I think she was going for Marcia Gay Harden in First Wives Club. You know, one of those pseudo-intelligent women who attempt to be archly sophisticated and in control but are actually easily rattled and dementedly insecure.

    • HOAC — your line-up of RIC disasters has me laughing 30 minutes later. I’m imagining a movie montage, each one sitting in the same seat, with alternating clips of their ‘quirks.’ Prissy is the highlight, touching herself and giggling and saying “YE-ES!” to everything the FW says. Thanks so much for the laugh.

      • Sounds like the judge we had. She giggled at everything FW said, her giggles went on for too long.
        It got weird. She’d ask him how he was doing, he said, good, I’ll be better when I’m out here. She much have laughed for at least 5 minutes.
        I could see in FW’s face he knew it and played her (stupid b****ch)..

      • Wow. Whisper Lady, Miss Prissy (Ye-ess!), Pervert’s Dream (I bet she wears a Columbia tee shirt and little satin panties to bed) and Ichabod the creepy middle school principal.
        That’s quite a gallery of disordered freakazoids.
        I’ll remember them when I need a good laugh.

        • You’re totally right. CSAT lady absolutely wears CU t-shirts and frilly drawers to sleep in.

      • The best part is that not a single detail has been exaggerated for effect! I still can hardly believe it.

    • That’s *hilarious*! ????????????

      My favourite is the “Japanese American whisper lady” – I can see it so clearly, you, yelling your head off, whisper lady mouthing “arigato” in ever descending decibels… oh boy. ????????

      I’ve never contemplated therapy, as I’ve said before, I think it’s more of an American thing than British, (though we would appear to be catching up with you), but reading the various CN experiences with these people makes me even more allergic to the whole idea. ????

    • When I was in counseling with my FW they were telling me I was making the AP come back and communicate with my FW because I liked her FB business page and the AP had to talk to my husband as to why I did this, it was a public business page. He was trying to be NC with her and I was making him talk to her. I was a bit heated and raised my voice and they both said I was yelling. So I was the problem. Fast forward, divorce final, NC since May 10, best thing that I ever did. I have gone further than NC and went “dark”. I will never, ever talk to FW.

  • I agree adultery never improves a marriage. I would say it destroys any marriage. Can two folks rebuild a marriage after one commits adultery, maybe; but the adultery will always be there. That is a weakened marriage.

    I am not sure about the adultery not being addictive. Not in the sense maybe that heroin is, in that it eventually will kill you; but in the sense that I do think adulterers chase the chemical high that illicit sex and deception give them. To the point that they don’t care who it hurts, not even themselves.

    That doesn’t excuse it, nothing does.

    • ‘that doesn’t excuse it, nothing does”. Totally agree. I do not think a marriage heals after adultery. Maybe some people think it does but I agree with you Susie, it is always there.

  • On my shopping/to do list-buy a sack of feathers. To sprinkle over the tar, next time I subconsciously destroy somebody’s furniture. #urges ????????????????????
    Enjoy your time in Michigan, away from all those ????

  • HA! Sounds kind of familiar. My FW texted his twu wuv, “creative destruction, that’s what this is, like the economic theory of having to destroy what I have to make way for something new.” Why he needed to justify the destruction of his family to his OW who was clearly 100% complicit is beyond me. At least he didn’t imply it was for our marriage, though (self-awerewolf). Once the divorce was in process, he repeatedly told me that he was doing what was in his best interest. No $hit!?!?!

  • This is usually how my day begins:

    1) open eyes

    2) get coffee (thank you, Nespresso.)

    3) prayer and meditation (unless I am mad at the powers that be, and I talk about how mad I am)

    4) Wordle

    5) Chump Lady

    6) get in the shower and begin day

    I got totally thrown off today at a big gaping hole where #5 was supposed to be. ☹️

    Glad to hear you are OK.

    Speaking as an addict in recovery, there is such a thing as engaging in behavior for the chemical reward it produces (the endorphins produced by exercise are one example, gambling is another) but that does not mean the behavior is OK, that one is not accountable, absolved of responsibility, or excused.

    • I think cheating gives that chemical reward only to assholes. Good people would feel terrible about cheating, so there can be no chemical reward. FWs, otoh, feel great about it.

      • How right you are. Literally the worst nightmare I had in the last 10 years was about somehow ending up in the wrong bed with the wrong guy. I woke up sobbing. Naturally that was before D-Day, but the point is that there’s no chemical rush for me in betrayal, just nausea. Only if I got off on betrayal would there be “brain chemical hits.” I agree with the line from Six Feet Under: “You’re not addicted to sex. You’re addicted to betrayal.” It’s on the spectrum with kleptomania, compulsive plagiarism and serial killing frankly.

  • I hate to contradict CL, and I know it was a joke, but about the squats- one of the best ways to release feel good brain chemicals is vigorous exercise. My FW and his whore were doing that together as well as getting those chemicals from cheating. From early on in their affair the cheating alone was not enough for them, so they started working out together. Oh, and drinking heavily too. Because cheating and working out didn’t make them “happy” enough, so they had to get a chemical high. When drunk they were happy, shiny people in their own deluded minds. Then the next morning they’d get up and do it all again, so as to have no opportunity to reflect on their aimless lives and douchebaggery. “I’m happy!” smirked the FW when I suggested he was drinking more as an escape. I didn’t believe him, but I was unaware at the time he was referring to being “happy” with another woman.

    Yeah, dopamine addiction is a crock of shit and that shrink sucks. These are just miserable people seeking something, anything, to alleviate the terrible emptiness of their rotten souls. Spoiler alert for Deaun, if you are the cheater- it doesn’t ever work. The only way you can alleviate that emptiness is by developing substance, moral fiber, personal responsibility and concern for others. We at CN know how unlikely that is.

    • Porn users definitely get the dopamine hit. Porn, prostitution, cheating, etc., etc., it is all the same and they are getting a hit for doing it. They do not care what their actions do to their SOs, just “me, me, me….”. I do not believe in excusing bad behavior and saying it gives them a dopamine hit is not making an excuse, IMO it is stating a fact. Too many people on this site know.

  • I think therapy should be one on one. You have to get in touch with your own problems to get strong enough to deal with them realistically. I didn’t really have negative marriage counselor experiences, but I did feel my Ex’s used counseling as a way to hold on to me longer. Cake sure is good, and hard to give up. Looking back, I think my counselors did see through the ex’s, and tried to clue me in that I was fighting a losing battle, but I wasn’t ready to hear it. When I was ready, I didn’t need a counselor to tell me so. I just moved forward.

    For me it wasn’t really giving up the particular man, it was about giving up on a long-held dream, belief system. When I finally figured out my life was much better without them, my whole universe shifted. I didn’t believe I was enough by myself. I thought I had to have a partner, a ying for my yang. Turns out, that’s not true. It might be nice to have a good partner, but it is not essential for happiness. I think my culture put too much emphasis on marriage and blood relations, and not enough on true friendship and companionship. My friends have done more for me than my spouses or family ever did. My friends love me for who I am, my family and spouses had conditional expectations for everything, like I had to prove my love or worth by sacrificing for them.

  • I didn’t go through the RIC necessarily, but reminds me of the FW who always couched his cheating in terms of “needs”. For example, I wasn’t meeting his “needs” for kinky sex. I wasn’t meeting his “needs” for me to be his subjugated sex object who flounced around the house in lingerie, on my knees, or bent over at his command. So, he thought, he’d get his “needs” met by leaving me at home to do the adulting and the parenting while he was stealing our marital money/time and spending it on hookers and other women he happened to be courting for his “needs”. He actually said that I didn’t cook while naked for him like his affair partner does. Ummm…..we have a child at home. I guess he forgot that. Well, fuck that, AND, I asked him, what about my “needs”? Those were never, ever entered into the equation. Upon DDay, when he went down the list of all the ways I was lame and didn’t meet his sexual fantasies, I pointed out that not once in 25 years did he ever bother to meet my sexual fantasies. But, it was only his “needs” that were at issue here.

    • Their needs. That’s what it boils down to. I, me, mine (sorry, George Harrison.) They literally want the world to suck their dicks.


  • What about instead if a therapist people tried family mediation? That way you have someone with legal knowledge. They meet with both separately, then together and you hash out everything? If cant be resolved then you can hash out separation or divorce agreements. Seems like a better model than therapy, since marriage is a legal agreement. The mediator probably better than a therapist at getting Both parties needs met in a short time, no feeling BS and if not then can separate/divorce.

  • This is everything. I’ve been divorced for 3.5 years now. Chump Lady and her book is what got me thru it. She posted my email to her (my ex having affair with my bff) and I read her posts daily. I got to MEH a year later… I may have gotten their earlier but this was 2019 in a nutshell:
    * New Year’s Day 2019, I discover Affir
    * Jan 6, I kick husband out
    *Feb 16, FB relationship status is “in a relationship”
    *April 15, our divorce
    *May 15, new girl is pregnant
    *Sept, they are engaged
    *Nov, he’s married.

    So, rough year… but wow… he didn’t browse — and let’s face it… cheaters shouldn’t be in relationships, but whatevs. Anywho…. I have my life back. I just started dating again because I have trust issues… IMAGINE THAT SHIT? LOL. But, what I don’t have to do is monitor a fuck-shit: wonder where he is, what app he’s hitting women up on, what he’s doing. Nope. Life is too short to be a f’n private investigator who monitors the person who voluntarily chose to be married to me forever. I still follow this blog because it reminds me of what a f’n badass savage I am – and how I’m better off. To those of you who are hurting, you’ll get to my level of “WHO TF CARES” about those exes. I promise. It wasn’t always easy. But, thank you Chump Lady for creating a fun, supportive, and INFORMATIVE forum for all of us who have been doing the WTF path! Best wishes all… and hang in there!

  • My experiences with therapy, whether alone or as a couple, of which I have had a few experiences is that the goal is to make you a meal ticket. If you can resolve issues or move on from them, you don’t need them anymore. My take is “cha-ching” now and into the future is their goal. If you move on, they have another time slot open.

  • >