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How Do I Get My Cheating Wife to Reconcile with Me?

cheat on meDear Chump Lady,

You mention the only way to have your spouse back is with them doing a full reconciliation.

What’s that look like?

Do you go into detail about key points of it?

Are there special sites that go into detail about “full marriage reconciliation” you would recommend?


Situation: (M-69) My wife (F-66) cheated in year of 2-4 of our marriage, physically, to a man out of state, while I’d be at work on the weekends pursing my job and career in IT at the time.

He got her pregnant and gave us baby boy #1 in year 5 of our marriage.

When baby boy was two years old, she came to me and admitted the affair*, shocked and everything else that goes with that, I didn’t know where to turn and just ate the whole thing and threw it in a closet.

This wasn’t anything I could discuss with anyone, brothers, close friends, family, it was horrible inside.
So at that time, from simple pleasures to horrifying thoughts of what my life would be like – who could I discuss this with that I could trust, and on and on? No one … that’s who.

*-But because she came to me and confessed, I believed things were over with her and him.

I “kept my guns in my holster” and things began to settle down. Two years later, she and I decided to have baby boy #2 (in 98’) and baby girl #3 (in 2000).

Fast forward from 2000, thru minivans, pet dogs, getting kids thru high school and college, seems to have all flowed and flowed well…

Then comes Covid, specifically, second week of May in 2020.

I had been pushed out of my job/career in 2019 and been at home full time doing things around the house.
Wife was assigned her job at home as well, and we brought daughter home to do remote schooling to her university, so the three of us lived together in our home during this time.

Also what was going on was that my wife insisted that in order for me to get more closer to her in our relationship, that I should attend marriage counseling classes with a marriage counselor, actually both of us.

We were five months into this counseling business when her AP calls up, out of the blue, and leaves voicemails on our housephone, instructing my wife to call him.

This wasn’t just one time, but multiple on this week, to the point, that at the end of the second day of these calls, I unhooked our house phone for a week to ensure this AP wasn’t going to bother us again. And told wife to tell this person never to call our house again.

At the next marriage counseling session, I asked why this AP was calling.

Wife explained to us, that she had been calling annually on the birth month of our first born to this AP, and reporting to him on status updates.

This is at least what she said she was doing, and knowing how this (affair stuff) works, there likely, was more than just calling going on for the past 26 years… But since I hadn’t caught any of this before to challenge her on it, how was I to know?

It’s one thing for her to be caught at doing something, but it’s another to not get caught.
It’s like seeing the tip of an iceberg floating by and thinking about how large that iceberg really is…

Since this time, our daughter has returned back to school in another Midwest state, my wife’s daily habits have been to attend to her job/work, (in our living room, converted to an office), then after work, grab something to eat by herself and go up to her bedroom**.
Then around 8-9, wife begins her going to bed routine, showers, gets into her bed (alone), and goes to sleep.

**It’s the master bedroom that I left and am sleeping out of another room in the house now for about 4-5 years.
I left her bedroom for another because she was starting to treat me terribly so that I thought I’d just leave and wait until she wanted me back.

In general, I’m included in her plans if her plans come to issues with our family or issues with our budget and house (I have money thru inheritance, and she just works for her pension and retirement, which she could do at any time if she wishes to do so, but doesn’t)…

One other thing,

  • I’ve never had access to her phone, and she refuses to be transparent about providing me access to her phone, among other future plans she has made for herself.
  • Also, is that she refuses to get counseling or help, she says it hurts her too much to relive her bad decisions she’s made in the past.

What’s your advice? (Besides ditch the bitch and work on yourself …)


Believe it or not, I still love the woman, but this is extremely tiring


Dear Believe It or Not,

Clearly, you’re new around these parts.

You mention the only way to have your spouse back is with them doing a full reconciliation.

No. I don’t say that. In fact, there’s a big, bold tagline on every page here and a book that says, LEAVE A CHEATER, GAIN A LIFE.

I do, however, outline why the odds of reconciliation are terrible and devote an entire blog to the stories of millions of people who stepped in that flaming bag of dog shit and regret it.

What’s that look like?

Very stinky. Very messy. Very painful.

Oh, you mean the dog shit?

Believe, I don’t advise reconciliation. There’s the entire rest of the internet for that. We call those folks the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. Charlatans who are quite happy to take your money and sell you false hope.

Do you go into detail about key points of it?

Yes, 10 years of blog fodder on why the Pick Me Dance for a fuckwit is a terrible way to spend your life. The most I’ll concede is that you need the raw materials to even consider reconciliation — like actual remorse and recompense (a generous post-nup).

You have a wife who has cuckolded you for 26 years and feels zero regrets. Ergo, you have nothing to work with. And even if you had it (you do NOT), I don’t think you should waste your life on an abuser. (Yes, she is abusing you.)

Are there special sites that go into detail about “full marriage reconciliation” you would recommend?

Believe, this is like asking an Orthodox rabbi where he gets his bacon.

There are many “special sites” — send me $399 and I’ll tell you.

Is that offensive? That’s the RIC business model. Oh, you didn’t find them? I guess you weren’t trying hard enough. Is that offensive? That’s the RIC business model.

Let’s put all this reconciliation bullshit aside and talk about you, Believe.

When baby boy was two years old, she came to me and admitted the affair*, shocked and everything else that goes with that,

This is so cruel, Believe. The time for that conversation was when she got pregnant. Instead she waited until you were deeply invested and bonded with this child.

This wasn’t anything I could discuss with anyone, brothers, close friends, family, it was horrible inside.
So at that time, from simple pleasures to horrifying thoughts of what my life would be like – who could I discuss this with that I could trust, and on and on? No one … that’s who.

We get it. That’s why we’re here. We’ve lived the chump life and carried that shame.

*-But because she came to me and confessed, I believed things were over with her and him.

Rookie mistake. She was just gaging your chumpiness. To see if she could continue her cake-eating without consequence. Your pain means nothing to her. But your father/husband appliance skills were needed.

Does your first born child know the AP is his bio-father? If not, your wife been deceiving him too, and pressed you into her conspiracy. You’re only as sick as your secrets. Please tell this kid the truth.

The other possibility is that your son has met AP, and knows he’s the bio-father and your wife has pressed your son into a conspiracy against you. Also horrific. Common denominator — your wife sucks.

At the next marriage counseling session, I asked why this AP was calling.

Wife explained to us, that she had been calling annually on the birth month of our first born to this AP, and reporting to him on status updates.

This is at least what she said she was doing, and knowing how this (affair stuff) works, there likely, was more than just calling going on for the past 26 years… But since I hadn’t caught any of this before to challenge her on it, how was I to know?

26 years of deceit? A dead bedroom. And you get trotted out to family events and propped up like one of those dead Soviet leaders.

Is this relationship acceptable to you, Believe?

I know you “love” her. We’ve all been there. You bond because you’re human, but you bonded with a thing that doesn’t bond back. It takes a staggering amount of dysfunction to conduct a double life for decades. Google “sociopath.”

It. Does. Not. Get. Better.

she was starting to treat me terribly so that I thought I’d just leave and wait until she wanted me back.

How is that working for you, Believe? This four-year-long game of chicken. Did she wake up and discover your value?

No. So, you’re searching the Internet for an answer and you found Chump Lady and Chump Nation. The Ditch The Bitch demographic.

Point of fact, she is a bitch and you do need to work on yourself. But Believe, this isn’t a you problem. It’s a her problem. You cannot fix her. Contorting yourself into pleasing shapes to win her back doesn’t work. We don’t control other people. She demonstrably does not value you. She probably will say otherwise (see the three channels of mindfuckery — rage, charm, self-pity.) But examine the evidence. TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF DECEPTION. You wouldn’t know an honest statement from a turnip. Because TWENTY-SIX YEARS OF DECEPTION. She’s a pathological liar.

My advice to you — the advice you don’t want, but the advice you need — is to go see a divorce lawyer, pronto. Hang on to that inheritance and don’t mingle it with any marital assets. (It often matters in division of assets. I am not an attorney, go talk to one, ASAP.)

Pull no punches. Do not tell her you are seeing an attorney. Just DO IT.

And please, when you serve those papers, call it a “status update.”

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • For reconciliation in any situation to have even the tiniest chance of success, BOTH parties involved have to be seriously invested in it. Your wife shows no signs of remorse or concern for you. She has had more than 20 years to come clean and work toward a better marriage. She didn’t do a thing, and in fact kept deceiving you. So you stand no chance, and should just save the time and effort and skip to the end where you declare it a failure, and move on towards divorce. Put your time and effort into helping your kids through the shock, especially the one who will be affected by the truth the most, getting a fair settlement (protect your inheritance) for yourself, and building a new life with people who don’t use and abuse you. Once you get over it and look back with hindsight, I’m sure you’ll find other examples of her selfishness and manipulation in your relationship.

    Also, DNA test the other two kids. When working with a twenty-plus year liar, trust nothing about the past.

    • Good god, no, the OP should not demand that his other two adult children submit to paternity testing. What would be the point? That’s just untangling the skein.

      • Actually, if I were one of the kids, I’d want to know myself. For one thing, there’s family medical history information that could be extremely important. If I were the OP, I’d let all 3 kids know that kid #1 has a different father. And with with today’s genealogy kits, the kids might find out through a letter in the mail.

        • This scenario happened to my daughter’s friends. She was recently contacted by a genetic half-sibling that’d done one of those mail order genealogy kits. Discovering she was actually the daughter of her Mom’s one time personal trainer, who still was in contact from time to time, blew up several peoples’ worlds.

        • The kids themselves wanting DNA testing? Understandable, and they’re entitled to it. The OP demanding it to see if they’re “his”? No. That’s a rejection they don’t need. They’re adults; they should be told about what their mother did, and allowed to make their own decision.

  • Believe, I think you need to work on your own self esteem issues. You deserve better and yet you don’t seem to realize it. Get counseling for yourself. Be your own best friend. And if people ask, be open about this woman and what she has done. Don’t protect her. She doesn’t deserve it or you.

    • I agree! Tell everyone! Siblings, friends, pastor, the person on the park bench. When you start speaking about it out loud, you’ll finally start seeing the abuse for what it is.

      • I would wait to tell anyone until the ducks are in a row. Lawyer can advise you on that.
        First things that come to mind after that are paternity testing (all 3 – how can you know she was even truthful about the first one or not?) and STD testing.
        Obtaining copies of phone records through the phone companies can help you and your attorney see how much contact they really had, since she won’t tell you.
        Good luck to you.
        It will suck for her to go into retirement years alone, but: play stupid games, win stupid prizes.

      • I’d dial that back to people you trust. I blurted my story out to anyone and everyone and it bled
        over into my daughter’s world which was NOT GOOD. (So my kid was hearing about her dad cheating from her friends who found out from their parents because I process my talking about stuff.) Our mother/daughter relationship suffered a lot, to the point she felt more comfortable with her father. (What kid really wants to experience their parents pain?)

        Your kids are older, so probably won’t be as bad, but be sure to keep it out of their personal lives.

        Good luck to you. Your wife sucks. So does my ex who led a double live with serial affairs for 20 years. I will never forgive him for taking those years from me.

        • Hello Giddy Eagle! I am so sorry to read yor daughter was alienated by your pain. This is so sad! I do hope this happened before or during teenager years. Adolescence is tough on the kid’s emotions, and a parent’s divorce does not make it any easier. From what I observed, kids of divorced parents can and are lured by the manipulations of a narc/shiny turd/ FW (pick your choice). After all, we chumps fell for it too! Then at around 18-20 years of age, maturity kicks à n with adulting. The scales tend to fall from the kid’s eyes, and the kid realizes who the sane parent is/was all along. I hope some of this applies to you, and that better years are ahead. {{Hugs}}

    • It is often said that Cheater and Chump are on a parallel journey, though separate and apart. The Cheater has their own journey discovering why they are destructive, dangerous, and unsafe to others. The Chump has to walk the path of discovery as to why they might accept, condone, rug-sweep, and hang around waiting to see if things get better.

      Chances are great that the Cheater will not reach the destination of self discovery resulting in change. However, the Chump MUST do the work of self discovery in order to avoid living in dysfunction with disordered people and to heal from any exposure to same.

      The journey (growth/maturity) must be taken. One cannot stand still.

      • Do the cheaters even wonder why they are the way they are? I don’t know. I think this saying gives them too much credit. I think they like themselves just the way they are and really have no intention of changing.

        • From my experience they are just always the victims of situations out of their control. No introspection needed!

  • “It takes a staggering amount of dysfunction to conduct a double life for decades. Google “sociopath.” #TRUTH

    Not to get all morbid, but the average life expectancy for a US male citizen is 80 years old. Believe, do you really want to spend the rest of your one precious life living with a FW who doesn’t want to sleep with you? Spends time with you when she needs a husband/father appliance? Your FW might be playing the long game with hopes that something medically happens to you, and she gets everything, including your inheritance!! And she walks away as the grieving widow, and no one ever knows what a FW she is and how horribly she treated you for 26 years!! Take your power back! See a lawyer! Blindside her like she’s blindsided you over and over again! Oh, and if you do go see a lawyer (we all hope you will!), be prepared for her to switch to the charm and pity channel to win you back. Because that’s what these types do. I got from my X FW way back in the early 2000’s, “I’m going to spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” I can’t think of one single thing that he did to “make it up” to me! He just went further underground, more lying and gaslighting for the next 14 years. LEAVE, Believe! (((HUGS)))

    • I got that too. “I’ll spend the rest of my life making it up to you”. I kicked him out less than two months later. The affair went further underground and there were hookers. Don’t believe anything they say. Watch what they do. Believe, if you decide to end this, I’m sorry for what you are about to go through. It will get better. Much better. AND 69 year old men are IN DEMAND. You’ll be shooing away the women and their casseroles!! Hugs to you.

    • “I got from my X FW… “I’m going to spend the rest of my life making it up to you.” I can’t think of one single thing that he did to “make it up” to me! He just went further underground, more lying and gaslighting”

      Same. Not ONE SINGLE THING. Oh, but he tried! “I want to spend the next 50 years with you. I’m ready to have children. Please let me make it up to you. I’m going to put your name on the deed — in fact, I almost already did but thought you’d be angry. (?!) Everything has changed; I’m a completely different person now. From here on out, you make every decision about the house we’re building. I can’t believe how badly I’ve hurt you. I’m being 100% truthful from now on. There’s no one else, and there never will be.” Every day for months after dday, he hounded me with this while I ignored him. Shameless hoovering and lovebombing, and 100% BS. He was still in contact with at least one OW, and he didn’t follow through on a single promise. The day I came back, he was back to his same old. In fact, it was worse than ever. You enter into an entirely new realm of abuse when you agree to “reconcile” with a cheater after you learn about their infidelity and secret life. You give away all your dignity, power and self worth. It is not safe or healthy, for you or anyone you love/who loves you.

  • This letter is utterly heartbreaking to read and I just don’t know what to say.

    There is a woman who passed away last week in Scotland. Right now she is in London awaiting her funeral on Monday. Maybe you have heard of her? As I write this, people who never even met her are waiting for hours and hours and hours in line for a moment with her coffin to say goodbye. Many of them are crying.

    Your wife, with whom you have lived and had children, a FAMILY, for 26 years, has. not. shed. one.tear.* and treats you horribly, perfectly happy to fuck you over royally.

    *no tears shed for you, maybe for herself

    What is there to love? What is there to reconcile? How is it that YOU have reconciled all that has happened and deemed it desirable?

    Cheating is a NO. Not “should I or shouldn’t I?” or “how do I get away with it?”

    Marriage is for those who say “I DO” to YOU and “I DON’T” when it comes to cheating There’s no fixing someone who is OK with it.

    And therapy with a cheater is like calling the fire department after the house has burned to the ground.

    CALL A LAWYER AND FILE FOR DIVORCE is how you reconcile this.

    • One definition of “reconcile”
      Is “accept as inevitable”…….

      • The word and concept “LOVE” is what confused me so terribly. What helped one. me immensely was to stop thinking about LOVE and start thinking in terms of RESPECT TRUST AND LOYALTY.

        The word LOVE clouds relationship reality like poker chips and credit cards obfuscate financial reality.

          • Yes. Healthy relationships are based on reciprocity and mutuality. In marriage, friendships, even work/business relationships.

        • Velvet: You nailed it. When someone betrays, that is not love. If we keep thinking about loving the betrayer we go wrong. Also there is the old saying “Love is not always enough” or something like that, betrayal never equals love.

        • You can love someone without living with them or wasting your life waiting for them to love you back.

  • Believe, take everything CL is telling you to heart. You may be in love with the person you hope and wish she could be. But she is a far cry from that.
    This old world of ours is filled with kind, gentle, honest, and loving women. Your wife is not one of them.
    When you physically separate yourself and go no contact with her, you will begin to be able to identify what you thought was good in the relationship was little more than another mirage and really not so wonderful. Hindsight away from the immediacy of her is powerfully healing.
    You deserve a better and healthier life! Sending my best wishes that you take the necessary steps to find it.

  • Mine was a gray divorce under different circumstances, but I have no regrets. Our kids were in college at the time. He was retired, and I had to ramp up employment after being mostly a stay-at-home mom. I ended up being mostly self-employed.

    Sure, I had people say that I should work harder and stick it out, but I had been working hard and sticking it out for a very long time. There were addiction and mental health issues involved, and he wouldn’t own up to the chaos he had been causing for over a decade. I’ve come to the conclusion that once someone makes manipulation and lies a habit, you need to get out of there.

    It was the most gut-wrenching thing I ever did, but I wake up every morning thankful to be single.

    • “I’ve come to the conclusion that once someone makes manipulation and lies a habit, you need to get out of there.”
      This is a key insight for chumps.

      • I help with a local group for abused and addicted women, and I can’t count now how many times I’ve said that. Addiction inherently requires manipulation and lies, whether it is in them or their partner. Sometimes those of us in these relationships develop our own ways of manipulating and lying to keep afloat (I sure did), and that has to end as well.

        It was so freeing when I stopped trying to change my ex and keep up appearances. I didn’t dwell, but I viewed it as it was and gave people my elevator speech, “He lives in another state, and we are in the divorce process. I prefer not to talk about it.” I stopped defending myself and just lived in the truth. Only my attorney and a few close friends needed the details.

      • Yes. CL once wrote something (i think!) to the effect of, “Where there’s confusion, there’s abuse.” I didn’t get in on the epiphanies challenge in time, but this was a big one for me and will be my North Star if I ever venture into dating.

    • Elsie, your story reminds me of a couple of lines from a Mary Oliver poem:
      “Tell me, what is it you plan to do
      with your one wild and precious life?”
      You decided to do more than just work hard and stick it out. You are mighty!
      I hope that Believe decides to do more with his one wild and precious life than chain it to an abusive cheating fuckwit.
      As for me, I suffered low-grade abuse in my 18-year marriage, and blatant abuse in my subsequent 4-year relationship with the Lying Cheating Loser.
      I’ve been single over 4 years now, and like you, I wake up happy and grateful every day.
      It doesn’t mean life isn’t hard. It just means I’ve chosen the right kind of hard.

      • Ten months after my divorce was final, one week after I retired (to get away from my ex), I offered to move temporarily a thousand miles away to help out my declining mother (then 93). For three years, minus time during the pandemic, I spent half the year living in her condo, helping her (my sister came for short visits during the time I took respite trips back home). She died on Monday night this week; I was with her.

        Those three years after divorce and retirement and during the pandemic were not at all how I had planned to live. Life was hard. But you are so right. It was the “right kind of hard.” Living with my ex for the three years after D-day was the wrong kind of hard. I regret so much about my years with my ex, especially those three years of pick-me dancing. I regret nothing about the three years I sacrificed to help my mother.

        • Peace be with you, Adelante; you’ve been through two layers of hell. It’s hard to gain a life when you’re pulled in so many directions but I hope what you build next – and the life you gain – is just perfect for you.

          • Thanks, M. I’m the executor, so there’s still work to do, but these tasks are just tasks, and don’t pull at the heart. I’m grateful I did for my mother what she needed to have done, as I have no regrets now about my actions.

            • You did the right thing. And caring for an aged relative is always time-limited.

              I’m really proud of you. And thank you for caring for her.

        • I like your description: Marriage to a cheater is the “wrong kind of hard. “ Life after divorce is the “right kind of hard.”

        • Adelante, I am so sorry about losing your mother. Hugs to you in this grief. Losing a mom is not easy and I still miss mine, even after 4 years.

        • I am so sorry for your loss yet glad you had the time and energy to be WITH her rather than wasting energy on FW.

        • My condolences, Adelante. The peace of mind you describe around spending time and effort in supporting your mom is a shining example of the “right kind of hard.”

        • Sending love your way, Adelante. I’ve been reading for over a year and know you’ve been through a lot. You deserve some peace and lightness.

        • Adelante…so sorry for your loss. You’ve posted many times about helping your mother after your divorce & I wish you all the best as you continue on the path of healing.❤

        • Adelante, condolences on the passing of your mother. Caring for a parent at the end of life is indeed the right kind of hard. May her memory and the memories of your time together be a blessing.

  • Youve convinced yourself you that to save this relationship you must twist your heart into the tiniest thing.

    But I will tell you that the universe is giving you the chance to become whole again.

    It’s gonna hurt. Blowing your heart back up stings. It’s a lot of work.

    But you deserve a bigger heart, a happier life. Your children deserve it too; their only getting the small you.

    You deserve a bigger life.

    • And I want to add, life is so, so good after you get rid of the fuckwit. It certainly hurts when you go through the divorce. You keep doubting yourself wondering ‘maybe I quit too soon’. (I actually wanted to die because the pain was so intense.) But after you reach your Tuesday, you KNOW that you should have left sooner than you did.

  • Oh, Believe. You seem like a really nice man. I feel so sorry that you wasted so much time with this loser. Please get out and find someone who truly values you.

    • ^^ Even if that person who values you is yourself! Being single is also a healthy, valid choice. It’s infinitely preferable to being married to a fuckwit.

  • Believe it or Not,

    You answered your own question; ditch her and work on yourself.

    I’d also advise some help for your children, as I suspect that once Pandora’s Box is opened they will need assistance in processing quite who their mother actually is, what she’s done and what it is that she’s put all of you through.

    And remember that CN is here for you and that it is does get easier – and better – with time and effort.


    • And Believe might actually discover that one or more of his children know of the affair, if not the cuckoldry.

      • Adelante,

        I can’t see a “good” way for Believe it or Not to unpick this, but it does need unpicking. Either the eldest son is unaware of his real parentage – in which case he’ll be on the receiving end of a bombshell – or he is aware and has likely been sworn to secrecy by his manipulative mother, in which case he’s still got a lot to deal with and will need help …. and the same goes for his siblings.

        This whole situation sucks.


  • I’m nodding as I read all these comments! Damn, CN! What a group!

    Here’s my one addition. A book recommendation for Believe. It has helped me stiffen my spine and assert myself rather than default to pleasing others:

  • Dear Believe It or Not….I get it. I was married for 25 years to an awful person, too. This all sucks. Every bit of it. We’re old. (I’m nearly 62). This is not the life that you signed up for. Can’t you just live out your life in peace with the mother of your children?

    And the answer is NO. You do NOT want this bitch to be the one making decisions about your end of life care. I lost my dad this year at the age of 90. My mom was there constantly seeing to his needs. Every time there was a choice to be made, she considered what was best for him. What will happen if you’re still married to this monster when you are sick or possibly dying? She’ll do what it takes to get her hands on your inheritance.

    It’s time to lawyer up and get out of this fake marriage. It’s better to be alone than to be with someone like her. I promise.

    • Believe, whatever else you do today, get to a lawyer and put this inheritance out of her reach, no matter what happens.

      • Absolutely, this. I rarely see any mention of inheritance on these pages, but I know many many stories of OW /OM running away with the children’s rightful assets. See an attorney and work this out for their protection. He’s been banging your wife for 26 years. You want him bagging your estate as well?

        • ^ Most definitely this. My FW ex has wealthy parents, and my greatest fear is that some woman will come along and steal his $ (or even half) from our son, even though I know FW absolutely wants everything to go to him. FW is just stupid and blind to the danger he’s in as a man with money. I have to urge him from afar to see an attorney, get the proper advice, be constantly on alert, and then all I can do is sit back and worry.

    • I can’t stress enough how dangerous the disordered are or what they’re capable of.

      My grandmother fell and broke her collar bone. Her son (undiagnosed but definitely had a personality disorder) stepped over her body and left the house because he was on his way somewhere and couldn’t be bothered to help her. He called 911 from his car and was annoyed we were upset to discover HE LEFT HIS INJURED MOTHER ON THE FLOOR for the EMTs to find.

      You don’t want to be legally or financially tied to these people. You certainly don’t want them having medical decisions on your deathbed! If they’ll leave their own injured mother on the floor, then their spouses and children don’t stand a chance.

      • Oh my god this really hit home…… My disordered, sociopath, addict lifelong cheater mother recently watched her husband with dementia trip down a flight of stairs and she let him lay there for several hours before calling 911. This is the second time she let this happen. She’s hoping that he passes and she gets his pension and can find her next victim…. He was the younger boy toy…… She’s in her 80s and she never expected that she would have to take care of him. This is how she takes care of him. They are all alike!

    • Lizza, you’re so right. I very much suspect this FW is sticking around in the hope of a big payoff in the form of an inheritance.

    • I agree, Lizza.
      12 years ago when I knew there was cheating going on, and we were financially barely making it, and we had many children in high school & college, an attorney asked me “Can’t you just live in peace?” I am certain that attorney could see there was absolutely no money to even put forth for a retainer & he was trying to be kind, as I was not physically being abused.

      “Believe” is past that stage of life, has an inheritance to protect, and is young enough to strengthen friendships with people who have his best interests at heart.

      I remember CL saying something about swinging a cat by its tail & it is more likely to hit a better person than your cheating spouse. (I don’t have LACGAL with me to check the quote. ????)

  • Believe, I feel for you I really do. Your FW wife….. errr nope she feels nothing for you.

    Step away from the crazy. Put distance between. Go grey rock or better still ‘no contact’. Once you do step away the ‘writing on that wall’ will be so very clear.

    It hurts, I know (ask me how I know). The pain is unreal but believe me it gets better. Talk to your family (brothers etc) this is not your shit show to hide its her shit show. Feel no shame. Speak the truth. You will need their support.

    Get yourself a lawyer. Do that now!! Get ready for Battle Royal (divorce) pick your weapons wisely. Do not allow her to hurt you anymore.

    You are worthy of so much more.

    Come here daily. There’s a huge amount of support, sense and snark (you’ll find yourself laughing, I promise).

    Hugs to you ❤️

  • This was tough to read… I hope Believe will follow advice here. Poor kids… she is such an awful human being… you will realize that once you start living your life with no chains. Seek therapy and seek a good lawyer. DNA test all kids… who has been paying their education in the end? Is the AP paying anything? Utter abuse… she has been using you for years.. I hope you can get as much as possible back and escape.

  • Oh Believe! I was there living your current dysfunction. Trust CL and everyone else here. You’re married to a sociopath who only cares about herself. She’s been fucking up your head for years, and now that you’re so ‘invested’, she’ll be pulling more shit (more than what you don’t even know about), and she’ll blatantly start doing it in front of your eyes. She’s perfectly happy in another bedroom! She looks at you like a fool and even laughs about the fool that she has married when she’s balling her lover. Stop and believe us when we say that not everything you love is good for you. Not alcohol, not chocolate, (not bacon), and certainly not people that don’t give a shit about you. You need to start loving yourself. You must believe that you’re worth more than that piece of shit twat you’re married to. If you continue to stay married, you will NEVER be happy. She’ll just get more abusive until your health fails, she buries you, and then she’ll talk more crap about ‘the fool she married’ and that she ‘couldn’t wait till he died’. I was married for 30 years to the exact type of sociopath as your wife. And yes, he didn’t let me see his emails, and then he started getting more blatant about his disrespect for me until he didn’t care if I found out about any of the stuff he was doing. I should have left sooner, but oh well, I didn’t. My head was so fucked up by the manipulating piece of shit that I was married to, i.e., the one that everyone would tell me that I was lucky to have as my husband. Oh, when I filed for divorce the first time, he didn’t want to lose his cake and started being romantic again. But within 4 years, he was back to the same shit (if he had even stopped.) His ‘reconciliation’ was only to get me back under control. Look up cognitive dissonance, leave that bitch, and start learning to love yourself. You deserve to be happy and you have to leave in order to find happiness, peace and sanity.

  • Believe, if your wife wanted to save the marriage, she would be actively making amends. You are living such a lonely life with her, and every single day and night she is rejecting you. She’s cold and cruel, and she’s the one who wronged not only you but also your children.

    In response to the AP calling the HOUSE PHONE multiple times, telling her to call him, your wife explained to you and your marriage counselor that she calls the AP annually during firstborn’s birth month to provide an update. If that’s true, she had approx 30 days to make that call, so there was no need for AP to call the landline. And why did he call multiple times, leaving that message? Something is going on there, but it’s not your responsibility to find out.

    Since your wife refuses to let you see her cell phone, it might be worth asking to see it while you are at MC, if you’re still going. The MC I saw with my ex insisted that he give me access to his phone and emails. It showed plenty of evidence, although I later learned he had multiple phones and many more email accounts on various computers.

    You don’t need any more evidence than you have to end this marriage. She has effectively ended it while continuing to live with you. Imagine if one of your kids came to you with this scenario. Wouldn’t you tell your kids they deserve more? You do too. Take care of yourself and your kids and stand up for yourself. You will see things much differently once she’s out of your home and your life.

    • You can of course get the cell phone records if your name is on the bill. I’d definitely do that if you can.

    • Her ongoing relationship with the father of her first child sounds sketchy and vague. If he did not want to be identified and did not want to contribute financially, she had no reason to be in touch. This may complicate your estate planning even further. Get to a lawyer immediately. Protect your inheritance (find those records).

    • I think we can all agree that she isn’t living a lonely life.
      Quite the contrary.
      Yes, there’s more to the story of the AP calling multiple times.
      Believe you deserve more and so do your children.

      Cheater started staying in our guest room because after 19 years of him getting up at five to go to the gym he suddenly decided he’d rather not disturb me at that hour.
      He became more and more distant as time went on. Looking back it correlated with his “something new”.
      Cheater would get angry if I went into the guest room, put a pass code on his phone, something he never had done before. He eventually put a lock on the guest room door.
      Instead of getting angry or suspicious I spackeld.. just like a chump champ.
      I was in love with who I thought he was.
      Despite all the red flags I continued to spackle.
      Living in denial of the reality of who he is.., and that he was treating me like something he needed to scrape off the bottom of his shoe.

  • Believe, I am so sorry you’ve dealt with this for so long. Many of us have gone through some of these same things. I think the key to your future is in your chosen handle: Believe. You believe. She doesn’t believe. You believe a remarkable relationship with this woman is possible. I’ll go one farther- not only does she not believe, she can’t even see or understand the kind of relationship you believe is possible.

    And it takes two believers to get there. Upending your life is never easy, but sometimes you have to. And since you have an inheritance to fall back on, your road out is going to be far more comfortable. Envision the life you want. Realize she doesn’t want it. Go seek it, on your terms. You don’t deserve a half-life.

    • “You believe a remarkable relationship with this woman is possible. I’ll go one farther- not only does she not believe, she can’t even see or understand the kind of relationship you believe is possible.” Poet, something about how I read this really strikes home. After experiencing flickers of remarkable love among and care between humans, and the life-giving joy it’s stoked within me, I’ve thought this many times about my community. There truly IS a deep, rewarding way to live! But I think, like you say, many people can’t even see or understand the kind of relationship (in marriage, or in community) we KNOW is possible.
      Not sure if my words are translating my thoughts as eloquently as I’d prefer. Makes sense to me tho 😉

      • That inability to see it is, in the end, what I came to believe was true of my own ex. I don’t really believe anyone save a true sociopath or psychopath is actually incapable of that kind of relationship. There was a very brief moment where my ex admitted in marriage counseling that she’d never encountered this crazy kind of relationship I was talking about. She said she was trying to understand it. But in the end, it became easier to find titillation and go with that as a substitute, which she had clearly done for all her previous life.

        I think for some of us it’s natural, no matter our upbringings. And for others, it’s this crazy concept for suckers and impractical romantics. But I’ve experienced it. It’s real. And when people can find it, it’s like an activation of something primal, deep-seated, and IMO, the true human default. I don’t intend to settle for less in my next relationship. Which is why it’s taking a while to find! 🙂

  • Remember that if anything happens to you, SHE gets final say over whether or not you are treated or they pull the plug. I bet she gets the life insurance too. You are literally trusting her with your life. I wouldn’t.

    Lawyer, lawyer, lawyer, lawyer and…lawyer. Do not say a word about the attorney to her. Interview several.

    Carry on with the farce of “marriage counseling” so she doesn’t get suspicious. Meanwhile, find a therapist for yourself. One who specializes in trauma and who will NOT take your money and tell you to put up with this shit.

    Continue to have no sex with her because it is very likely she has been cheating for quite a long time and you are lucky not to have gotten a genital-melting STI.

    Tell your son you are not his biological father. He may need to know this for medical reasons. But as mentioned above, he may know already.

    I’m sorry. You deserve better. Being divorced is much better than what you have now.

    • I am very concerned that if the LW were to become I’ll she would either sabotage or withhold care so he will die.

      In HER world she is a heartbeat away from an inheritance. That’s how people like that think.

      • That is an excellent point, Regret. She seems cruel enough to do just that and has no discernable conscience.

      • It happened to one of my aunts. Her worthless husband withheld care, and kept anyone from seeing her in the last few days when my aunt surely realized that she was on her way out of this world. She’d waited too long to change her will and divorce him.

      • Sadly I’ve seen this happen– adult siblings squabbling over inheritance, one takes control of an ailing elder, drugging them into pliancy, giving them up to hospice at the first opportunity and not letting anyone else near the dying hostage. As hospice is increasingly privatized and for-profit (actually making money from death), this has become easier to accomplish. You don’t want a FW to have their hand on the plug to cut off your life support or the power to isolate you and prevent you from changing your will.

        • My mother, who was in hospice care for six months, died on Monday. The conversation I had with the hospice nurse, a woman I would trust with my own life, told me that hospice does better financially when people on hospice live a long time–re-certification is every three months–because the biggest financial outlay for hospice takes place in the initial few weeks.

          • Sorry about your mom, Adelante. I lost mine to cancer two years ago. I still have dreams about her.

          • Sorry to hear about your mom. It’s something to lose a parent, no matter what the relationship was like.

  • Ya, wifey is setting something up with bio-father of son #1. Be careful, she’ll be sitting pretty if you’re no longer breathing & she knows it. Even if she’s not willing to harm you physically these types will try to put you over the edge mentally so you harm yourself. Time for you to man-up (and I hate that term) & hit her where it’ll hurt: her bank account & her reputation. A divorce & getting the truth out will accomplish both of them.

      • Yes, the beneficiaries. I’m not sure about life insurance because we didn’t have any, but in my state, I had to have FW as at least a 1/2 pension beneficiary so long as I was still married. I couldn’t wait until the divorce was through to change that. Yes, remove her as beneficiary from everything you can asap.

  • I sincerely hope that any money you inherited cannot be touched by her without your permission. If that’s the case take that money and anything else you can get your hands on and leave. Whether you recognize it or not you are no longer married. There might be a pesky piece of paper somewhere saying you are but you can get that fixed. The rest of your life, which might be 40 years, should be having fun, taking walks, playing chess, dancing around, reading books etc. You get my point. There is a whole lot of life left in front of you. The more you move, the more you enjoy, and the more you laugh the longer it will be.

    • “Whether you realize it or not, you are no longer married”. Well said and a very good point.

  • My heart aches for Believe It or Not. He’s married to a monster.

    Believe, you can love someone and still divorce her. In fact, most of us still “love” our partners at the time we are discarded or when we get the courage to leave. It’s only when we have significant time out of that daily dynamic that we see the truths about that attachment, including the truth that the partner has no respect, affection or concern for us.

    Believe, you should divorce this woman yesterday. But it’s a short trip from your lonely bedroom to a new condo of your own. You don’t have to file until you are ready, but a smart bulldog attorney can protect your assets and guide you through separation and eventually divorce. You are not old at 69. You may live 10 or 20 or 30 years. You have time to heal and rediscover yourself–and maybe intimate relations with a woman who has actual human feeling.

  • this is a sad letter. i don’t know what to say except i’m sorry. it’s difficult to understand the person you love isn’t capable intimacy and love, that they don’t care about you because they don’t have the capacity to do so. but once you do realize this, you’re set free. this i know.

    as for family secrets and lies, i have a friend (aged 63) who is discovering the extent of her father’s deception and it’s painful. there are half-brothers and half-sisters all over the place. it’s complicated. the sooner your son knows the truth, the more time he has to sort it out for himself.

  • At this point, there is NO reason for her to be calling the AP for “status updates”. YOUR son (you are the one he knows as “dad”, right?) is an adult and perfectly capable of providing his own status updates if he chooses. Oh, your FW hasn’t told him? f not, I wonder why?

    REAL remorse doesn’t hide their phone. REAL remorse allows you access and passwords to everything. REAL remorse says “I will walk away from all of our joint assets if I screw up again”, and backs that up with a post-nup.
    REAL remorse doesn’t go hide in the other bedroom. REAL remorse is transparency in all thiings. REAL remorse ditches the habit of lying and embraces honesty. No secrets.

    Do you know who the AP is? Is he married? If so, does his wife know about his biological son and ongoing contact with YOUR wife?

    I suspect your FW is only going to counseling for impression management, and lying the whole time. Everybody here in CN can probably raise their chumpy hands in recognition. What she is looking for is validation, from a counselor she is lying to, that YOU are the problem, not her. Oh, no. It couldn’t possibly be HER and her overblown sense of entitlement.

    She has been ABUSING you, Believe. For years. She brought another man’s child into the world for YOU to raise, and allowed you to believe it was yours. I wonder why? Are you a better provider? More stable? I’m guessing yes. Believe, she has been USING you for nearly 3 decades.

  • When you live with abuse and mistreatment for so long it becomes your normal. You’ve been trained to be happy with crumbs. The reality is that your wife has been depriving you of the happiness and fulfillment that you have deserved for all those years. You and your children have been pawns in her sick game and her sick life. While you’ll never get those precious years back, you still have time to decide whether you want to live the rest of your life under her thumb or if you want a chance at experiencing life on your terms, to finally pursue your own happiness and contentment. It’s your choice: take the red pill or the blue pill. Best of luck, brother.

  • Believe, you are 69 years old. Please don’t waste anymore of your precious years of life with this vile FW. Go get a lawyer ASAP and protect your assets. Don’t give her anymore opportunities to rob from you – rob you of love, time, dignity, assets, and sanity.

    • Believe, I’d protect my person, too, and get physically removed from her. Who knows what this sociopath is capable of. Certainly, love-bombing and charm, if not poisoning or worse. Clearly she wants your assets, and not you.

  • I found out about my cheater’s affairs after 30 years of marriage and also wanted to reconcile, however, my xw had absolutely no empathy for the intense emotional distress I was experiencing and no interest in apologizing or going to counseling, yet she didn’t want to get divorced. After a few months of futile attempts to repair our marriage, I decided to divorce her and now realize that the person I thought I knew and loved was a facade. I am now 4 years out from my divorce and in a relationship with someone who actually likes me and is always excited to see me. Being with a kind person is such a contrast to my xw, who took pleasure in lying and being cruel to me. Your wife has treated you horribly, doesn’t love you, and is not the person you think she is. She continues to live a double life and you will never trust her. You are experiencing a type of Stockholm syndrome, where you are sympathizing with someone who is abusing you. You will only achieve peace of mind and happiness by leaving her. You can and will do much better. Listen to CL.

  • This entire letter is heartbreaking. I hope Believe follows CL’s advice. Cheaters just freaking suck.

  • Oh, Believe. I feel for you.
    My story is similar, but I’m an older woman not an older man.
    The x was caught decades ago with a married woman who he had made future plans with, and he left our family for her and her kids.
    The only reason he came back was because she cheated on him.
    We went to marriage counseling. But when only one person in the relationship is committed, it doesn’t work.
    Turns out that he not only didn’t stop cheating, he got worse.
    About 5 years ago, just as I was set to finally retire myself, I discovered his whole other relationship with a neighbor that he was with for TEN YEARS.
    Part of the reason why he was able to get away with his secret life for so long was because he moved into a spare bedroom. Like the x, your wife has plenty of time alone in her lair to contact her (maybe) ex and any other person she has her eye on while you’re sleeping alone every night.
    Your wife is living her life as if you only exist on the margins.
    You deserve so much better!
    Drop the marriage counseling and find an individual counselor who will help you to see that you’re worth so much more than being an afterthought to the person you love.
    Your love is not reciprocated; she doesn’t love you, she loves her current lifestyle and possibly her affair partner.
    Please don’t waste your time and money on this empty shell of a person and a marriage in name only.
    Use your inheritance to LEAVE A CHEATER AND GAIN A LIFE.
    I know it’s hard and scary to do this at your age, but trust me you will come out the other side much happier and healthier. I survived and I’m not a particularly strong person; you’ll find reservoirs of strength that you didn’t know you had.
    Please, please, please don’t waste your precious remaining years on this horrible woman.

  • “she says it hurts her too much to relive her bad decisions she’s made in the past.”

    The past? What past??? SHE’S STILL DOING IT! She’s never stopped cheating on you in 26 years!

    Your wife is a monster. I agree with Chump Lady – 26 years of a double life fucking over you and her children, without any remorse, without breaking a sweat, is the calling card of a sociopath.

    See a lawyer to find out your rights and for the love of God, do NOT tell your wife ANYTHING you’re doing. This isn’t a relationship, it’s a hostage situation, and she is the enemy. Believe it.

    • “The past? What past??? SHE’S STILL DOING IT! She’s never stopped cheating on you in 26 years!”


  • Believe, ditching the bitch and working on yourself is the only possible sane advice. What do you think she does up there in her room? She talks to the AP, for hours, while ignoring you and treating you with cold contempt.
    You absolutely, unequivocally do not have any possibility of genuine reconciliation with this woman as things stand. I know that hurts, but being a lifelong chump hurts more. You still have some years left in which you could be free and not abused. What does loving this creature even mean? There is nothing there to love. She is selfish, dishonest and cruel. What you have is a classic trauma bond, not love. They feel similar, but the difference is that in love, you aren’t miserable, you aren’t being treated like shit and pining away for an abuser to notice your worth as a human being. She won’t notice and she doesn’t care. You are in your sixties. When do you expect her to reciprocate your feelings, since she has never done so for your entire marriage? What miraculous epiphany is she going to have in her sixties after getting away with this shit most of her life? The woman won’t even go to counseling, FFS. You are of use to her for optics and financial security so she keeps you around and that is all. You might as well be stuffed, mounted and exhibited as an example of Genus Chump Husband for all the concern she has for you. You must be sub-human in her eyes because that’s how she treats you. Do you want to spend your remaining years on this earth with somebody who considers you a mere object of utility? You deserve so much better.

    Sure, you could mosey on over to one of the many RIC sites where they’ll tell you all kinds of nonsense about how to get her to change. They lie, Believe. You can’t change anybody else and she shows absolutely no sign that she wants to change. This is the hard truth. I know it’s painful and you’d rather not face it, but to face it and get yourself out of this situation means the pain is finite. Staying with her means the pain is infinite.

    Don’t be shy about telling people why you’re leaving either. You’re not obligated to protect her reputation and she needs to feel consequences in order to have any hope of reform. For the sake of your kids and grandkids, she needs to reform. She doesn’t have any chance of doing that if you keep letting her get away with abuse. So please just call it a day with her and go get yourself a wonderful new life. Those of us who have done so have no regrets. We only regret staying as long as we did.

    • This 68 year old, who finally wised up at 65, wishes to echo OHFFS’s words:

      “What you have is a classic trauma bond, not love. They feel similar, but the difference is that in love, you aren’t miserable, you aren’t being treated like shit and pining away for an abuser to notice your worth as a human being. She won’t notice and she doesn’t care. You are in your sixties. When do you expect her to reciprocate your feelings, since she has never done so for your entire marriage? What miraculous epiphany is she going to have in her sixties after getting away with this shit most of her life?”

      Believe, I hope you can take these words to heart: “You still have some years left in which you could be free and not abused.” Believe me, Believe, you will be so much happier when you leave your sham of a wife, and are on your own, free to discover and honor your own worth.

      • Adelante, I’m also a grey chump. I was 55 when I found out who my FW really was. That was four years ago. I met him when I was 23, so that’s a lot of my life that I gave to an undeserving person. I grieved hard for those wasted decades, but I still have time left and I’m sure as hell not spending it with an asshole. You did it at 65,
        which is brave AF. Believe can do it at 68. He just has to face the truth and gather his courage, hard as it is to do. He also needs to let go of sunk costs and stop worrying about what people might think of him if he leaves such a long marriage.

        “Free to discover and honor your own worth.”

  • Sometimes when I read such EXTREME cases of cheating and abuse, I wonder if the original writer is real. And I think my case isn’t that bad. My cheater wasn’t a monster. I’m not that chumpy. But then I realize that being unappreciated and lied to for decades is extreme. Making a (quiet) plan and leaving the marriage is the only solution.

    • Unfortunately, what Believe describes is very real and there are even worse cases. I’m glad your exit plan was easier.

  • Sadly “Believe” will more than likely not listen to the advice given by CL. The advice, well more like a warning, I have for Believe is to be careful of any food or drink his cheating sociopath of a wife gives him, stay out of dark alleys and make sure his bedroom door is locked. The reason cheating wife hasn’t left or filed for divorce is purely financial and that makes her very dangerous.

    • I agree. I think there’s little chance he will heed any of this advice. He made it pretty clear he would not consider leaving as an option. All we can do is try, most likely in vain. ☹
      I also believe his FW could be dangerous. 26+ years of cheating and lying = evil. He’s so used to it that he doesn’t realize that.

    • I thought the same thing– watch the food, keep meds locked up, look out for greased staircases, etc. The patient lurkers and schemers can be dangerous. At the very least I would meet with a lawyer and get full medical testing to establish that a) I had no life-threatening health issues to start with; and b) to document that I’m not suicidal so if I’m found dead of apparent self-harm, foul play should be suspected.

  • Get out now while you can! It’s going to hurt like nothing ever hurt before but you will see that as soon as you are away from her peace will descend upon your life. I am almost 2 years out. It still hurts sometimes but I have more fun, better friendships, more self confidence. Frankly most of my pain now is related to my new temporarily reduced financial circumstances. I don’t miss him one bit and would never go back no matter what the circumstances. Even hours before d-day I thought I loved him. I loved someone that I wished he could be but couldn’t.

  • Oh Believe, you poor man. Your marriage was over a long time ago. Find the toughest divorce attorney you can afford and file.

    I hope you live in a fault state and one that doesn’t have community property.

  • And Believe, as soon as you’re divorced, make sure she’s not the beneficiary of any life insurance policies. And make a will to ensure she receives none of your estate.

    • I would not wait until the divorce goes through. I changed my beneficiary to my daughter as soon as I found out FW had been cheating and changed my will to cut him out. If Believe’s FW is inclined to kill him for profit she can do it much more easily while they are still in the same house.
      That possibility has to be considered with any cheater and steps need to be taken right away.

      • Such good advice. I’m a UK lawyer chump. I remained desperately in love with my emotionally abusive husband for at least 2 years after I was dumped. That shifted once I’d completed the divorce proceedings including the financial aspects. However, I changed the beneficiary on my pension and did a new will very quickly after D-day. It was obvious to me that the ex wanted me gone whatever ‘gone’ looked like. He would bang on about ‘Sliding Doors’. If I did not exist he could pretend that he had always been with exgfOW (which in a meaningful way was correct). But how much better if I did not exist and he got the house and my pension pot! Doing those two quick acts gave me a feeling of strength and autonomy. It also felt like a kick in the teeth to him, as a tiny pay back for all the hurt I was enduring. Money was very important to him, and I suspect that it is very important to Believe’s wife too. Some of us are cash cows – hard to accept but true.

  • Lawyer here, and I am going to enthusiastically second CL’s advice – you need to talk to a lawyer, IMMEDIATELY, like, close this browser window and start finding one right now. It’s that important. You want someone in your area who specializes in family law. If you don’t know of anyone, CL often recommends Superlawyers, which is not foolproof but is a good place to start.

    Unless your lawyer instructs you otherwise (and I doubt very much they would): do not give your wife access to your inheritance. Do not deposit your inheritance in any joint accounts, or put her name on any part of it. It is likely that in your state, your inheritance is 100% your separate property if you treat it as such.

    I would not demand a paternity or DNA test for any of your children. Legally, you are their dad, and it sure seems like you’ve been a loving dad their whole lives. There’s no reason to signal to them that your love for them is conditional on how a DNA test turns out. Also, as they’re now adults, you are almost certainly the legal father of all of the kids regardless of who their ‘bio dad’ was. If there’s some reason you need to confirm paternity – I don’t know, maybe charging the marital estate for child support somehow – your lawyer will tell you.

    “But I still love her!” Cool. You can love her as much as you want after the divorce.

  • Dear Believe It Or Not:

    The best reconciliation is the one you do for yourself. Whether you know it or not, you actually gave yourself the answer you’ve been seeking: “Ditch the bitch and work on yourself.”

    Do you really want to spend the precious few years you have left in this life trying to reconcile with someone who has been nothing but abusive, secretive, cold and selfish? That’s literally a life sentence of misery. Please reconsider!

  • I hope “Believe” takes these responses to heart. I agree that he has *nothing* to work with, and his best course of action is to get an attorney and line up his ducks to protect himself and his assets as much as possible. Then he should talk to his kids–although maybe send a simultaneous email so he can choose his words carefully (the attorney could read it first). Then he needs to get his truth out to friends and family first before his wife starts spewing all kinds of self-serving lies.

    • Also, he shouldn’t ask for DNA tests for the kids himself. He can stress that he loves them all and considers all of them his kids regardless of what a DNA test says. But there might be a way to communicate that testing might be something they want to do themselves because of the family medical history considerations. It’s a sad thought, though. And it can wait until after the divorce that I hope the OP will secure for himself. Life will get much better!

      • Good call. If the first son of the affair doesn’t know he’s not dad’s biological child, he should be told and framing the paternity test as a means of digging up relevant medical history is the softer way to go. It probably has to be established because showing what the FW wife is capable of could potentially effect settlement.

  • Believe, I’m another 26 year chump. The ex with his exgf, long-distance. I was dumped 7 weeks after my father died. But the ramped up abuse was going on for about a year before then. There’d been no sex for 10 years if you can believe that one. I tried to discuss but he shut down immediately. He was being faithful to exgfOW. I discovered the affair after he’d gone and I started divorce proceedings almost immediately. Exactly 3 years out, 2 years divorced. Exactly 3 years ago today I was calling the Samaritans in a suicidal state. Now, I’m still single, and happy with my dog (he hated animals), in my home which I always loved, with two well paid jobs, couple of volunteer roles, friends, nice new BMW, and an active life. It’s not all sugar and spice but I’ve got my self-respect back, I’m at a normal weight again, and I laugh a lot. Therapy has been essential for me. As a 62 year old people pleaser, trained from a very young age, I’ve had to learn a lot very quickly. I’m telling you this as proof that you can let go and thrive. You can pretty much go no contact which really helps. Don’t waste another precious moment on someone who does not have your back. See a very very good lawyer, interview a few, choose the one who you feel most comfortable with because that’s important. Don’t take any impulsive steps until you’ve done that. Dig in, grey rock with her, be prepared for her to hoover, and start living your new life.

  • That gets a big WOW. His marriage is a business transaction at this point and he doesnt even get any sex out of it! Wondering if he had paternity tests done on all the kids ? Do the kids know he is not their bio dad? I give this man alot of credit being an amazing dad. He is scared as an older male. Yes he will have to split assets, sell the house, but he could also get a nice younger wife who will treat him well and spend his twilight years with to have true companionship. Its amazing to me a man would stay. Shows that we chumps are damaged and think we have to put up with abuse.

  • You deffo need to GTFO but read some of the previous posts and just be ready from what you’ve said, it ain’t gonna be pretty when you finally stand up to her. I think she will throw everything at you so be ready, we’ve all had all the crap thrown at us on D-Day and it’s terrifying. But if you know it’s coming you’ll be better placed to deal with it. Remember, a cornered animal is almost as dangerous as a wounded one and you’ll see some truly ugly behaviour I wouldn’t wonder.

    It’s not easy to leave but I don’t think you have a lot of happiness ahead (or behind) staying either.

  • I would definitely separate the money, but it is important to remember that depending on the state (in US), an inheritance is community property. I agree don’t co mingle it, but even kept separately in the state I was divorced in and in the current state I live in unless that money is set up in a trust of some sort, if it is paid to one partner it belongs to both.

    I used to hate that law, but I now understand it. In a marriage in most cases both partners are liable for the debt of the other party. So it makes sense that they should share in the good as well as the bad.

    I hope for D, his isn’t one of those states though because she sure is a doozy.

    The inheritance can however become a strong bargaining tool depending on their situation, so yes keep it separate.

    Also check your finances for marital fraud.

  • Believe:
    1) Things are ramping up. Clearly AP wanted you to hear those messages and know that he is around.
    2) Clearly your “wife” is only with you for money. At this point you are worth more to her dead than alive. I’m not a lawyer, but I would be physically far away from her, and be legally separated before I let her know that I was divorcing her. I would keep my inheritance very separate, and I would remove her as beneficiary on any life insurance policies BEFORE she know that I’m divorcing her.
    3) Personally, I would SECRETLY (collect some hair) and paternity test all three of my children, so that I know the truth.
    4) AFTER you have moved out, and legally separated or divorced, I would not keep her secrets any longer.
    5) If your name is on the cell phone bill, you can get access to the details. However, you have enough evidence, as it is, so I would get that pit bull attorney today, and keep VERY quiet about everything, until you are physically, legally, financially away from this gold-digging sociopath.

  • Holy hell, this woman has been playing you for a sucker from Day 1. Please get yourself free (any of the “Fifty Ways” will do) and do the work to value yourself properly. Given your career and what appears to be a lifelong tendency to take people at their word, I suggest you also consider getting evaluated for autism and/or ADHD by a qualified professional. People on the spectrum are usually honest and open to a fault, and consequently get taken advantage of by narcissistic, sociopathic, or simply amoral individuals. Ask me how I know. (My selfish man-child ex thought I would agree to separate and keep paying for his healthcare and the occasional bailout of his failing business. And invest in a grow house of dubious legality to generate easy income. I divorced him and kept my own inheritance and pension. Call a good accountant as well as a lawyer and get back what you’ve worked for. Let AP pay for her retirement.)

    It’s never too late to save your own life, and you deserve better than this. Believe in *yourself*.

  • I’m guessing this letter went out to many advice columns, and it got to Chump lady who gave her acutely correct take on the situation.

    Believe, I was a long term chump also – 33 years of trying to love my spouse and to forgive him for “a mistake, it’ll never happen again,” a narrative that was true about that one instance of infidelity but omitted all the behavior that preceded it. By my accepting his show of remorse, it paved the way for him to do more, without telling me.
    After such a long marriage, it is difficult to do an about face and accept that the person you married is SO different from what you thought. For me, it took a few years, because like you, I was busy helping my kids, getting them through HS and college, and accepting that my spouse just didn’t pay that much attention to us. I came across Chump Lady and the blog responses and I began to understand what really was going on in my marriage. I knew it was not acceptable to me. I already had exhausted every possible thing I could do to improve it.
    The extent of the abuse was mind blowing. For 33 years, my husband thought it was ok to use other women for his sexual gratification, infect me with an STD, use money without my knowledge on things I wouldn’t have agreed to had I had the chance; and hide his lifestyle on business trips from me, our kids, his family & my family, and allow all of us to believe he was a great husband and dad who had strong moral convictions. FOR 33 YEARS!
    Unfortunately, I still wasn’t ready to divorce but I used the next 3 years to allow myself to get information about it, and to strengthen myself emotionally. I had been ashamed of myself for years & actually had nothing to be ashamed of at all! I had been doing the work of the marriage while my spouse had been weaseling out, playing around, and deceiving all of us. I had been caring for him, while he had been able to sustain secrets that, he knew if I knew, would crush me.
    In retrospect, I wish I had divorced sooner. I had felt forced to keep his secret. Getting away from him allowed me to live with my own integrity. I had good relationships with my kids, all adults now (the youngest just graduated college when I filed). But now I am totally myself with the kids- not keeping any secrets anymore.
    Even at 69, you can begin to heal and live a new life with your adult children.

  • I have a feeling he may have submitted that question to multiple reconciliation sites, as he clearly hasn’t read Leave A Cheater, Gain A Life or spent much time on this site or he wouldn’t ask those questions. Please, Believe. Get a copy of the book.

    I know how hard it is to end a long-term marriage. I pick me danced for several weeks after D-day to save my 33 year relationship. Paid for an online RIC program, went to futile marriage counseling, bought the RIC books and high-lighted the sections he should read. ???????? Then I found LACGAL and the scales fell from my eyes. I decided there was nothing to save, I took off my dancing shoes, lawyered up and got a good settlement. And yes, I did still love him in those early days, so it hurt like a mother-f’er. I won’t say it’s been easy adjusting to life alone after such a long term marriage. But it is infinitely better and more peaceful than living with a lying cheater who was living a double life. And giving so much of myself to someone who didn’t deserve it; who used and took advantage of my good-heartedness, and did not love me.

    Believe, I hope you take all the advice here to heart. There is peace and happiness on the other side. ❤️

  • Believe,

    I think CL is right that this is one terrifyingly cold operator. The way she’s managed to maintain demure calm while destroying your life– and, Roman circus style, the way she watched you be destroyed– is chilling and suggests you’re dealing with someone with some kind of serious personality disorder. Google “Dark Triad.” It’s a kind of spectrum with serial killers on one end and high functioning petty monsters on the other. But her self control suggests she falls into a dangerous category. It’s the calm ones you have to watch out for.

    What you haven’t reconciled is that you’re already divorced and have been for a long time but no one told you. No one told you about the settlement plan either: your early death from despair and her inheritance. This is all very heartbreaking and shocking. But as anyone on this site will assure you, there’s light at the other side and you are capable of eventually moving on once you recover. The stock of men like you trades extremely high on the romantic market: a faithful, loyal, earnest, literate man of independent wealth and emotional depth who’s devoted to family? There will be a line around the block. For that reason, therapy can help to fix your picker and “detox” you from the experience of your marriage, the way you’ve been boiled like a frog and acclimatized to psychopaths. That way you can weed out the smooth operators in the future and find someone of character like yourself. In order to spot this in other people you’ll have to build back up your appreciation of your own character, see your own value, love yourself. Those things are impossible to do while living with the enemy but once you’re free, you can regain your perspective and true self.

    I think in the end you’ll discover that you don’t actually love this person but are instead “captor bonded.” Captor bonding as a term was coined almost fifty years ago by the founder of psychotraumatology, Frank M. Ochberg, when he consulted on the famous Stockholm bank hostage situation where civilian bank hostages “bonded” with their captors, defending the bank robbers even after they were released. The press dubbed this phenomenon “Stockholm syndrome.” The reason people do this when encountering dangerous others is because it works to some degree. You can’t really call something “pathological” or “weak minded” when it’s so effective. If the victim can convince themselves that they feel positive feelings, even love and loyalty towards a dangerous person, the dangerous person may bond a bit in turn and show at least a little bit of mercy towards the victim. The tendency is so hardwired and universal in humans that even veteran intelligence specialists are never given whole parcels of sensitive state secrets but instead only bits and pieces because it’s understood that, nearly without exception, if these intelligence specialists are captured by hostile forces and subjected to specific stressors in captivity, they’ll bond with their captors, crack like pinatas and spill whatever information they have. It’s inevitable and intelligence specialists know this can happen but still would not be able to stop the process while undergoing professional interrogation. This is why, on release, intelligence personnel who’ve been taken hostage are put through deprogramming to “unbond” them from their captors as if from a cult. Cults operate the same way, as it happens. And one preeminent expert in domestic violence stated that the tactics of abuse and the tactics of professional interrogation are almost precisely the same even if the circumstances differ. Domestic abusers/tormentors/betrayers even have the edge of having first established a trusting bond with their victims before beginning their coercive campaigns so that the effect is even more devastating.

    The captives actually don’t love their captors but their survival depended on *appearing* to bond and doing so down to an almost cellular level because abusive personalities have an almost preternatural radar for deception. In other words, in order for the survival mechanism to work, the captive must fully believe their own ruse. The difficulty is in “undoing” this process once the captive has a chance to escape. If it goes long enough, captors could unlock the shackles and throw open the cell door and the captives won’t even try to escape.

    The technique of how to collapse a person’s ego and induce captor bonding is part of the science of torture and interrogation. The main tactic is to condition a person to random reward/punishment to produce “learned helplessness.”

    I worked with battered women for several years and most report that the emotional abuse, coercion and manipulation is actually the most paralyzing part of domestic violence. Virtually all batterers cheat and cheating is extremely effective tool in paralyzing prey. The most effective abusers never have to take their hands out of their pockets to do this. They could be pint-sized and limbless but if they can systematically sap your will to live and destroy your hopes for a better life, they can be deadly.

    The thing that’s not discussed often enough is that people who lack empathy are terrifying for that exact reason. Some disordered part of them means harm. Harmful people tend to wrap that ugly side of themselves in dulcet tones and floral wreaths but it’s still leaves a faint odor and that danger is something that can be intuitively felt. Some part of our lizard brain understands that people who can switch empathy off and turn others into objects to be used and discarded may potentially be capable of anything. That gut sense can trigger a hardwired human survival mechanism to appeal for mercy and go into a “boxer’s clinch” with dangerous people, particularly if there’s already a bond established. It’s not just women who do this. The whole dog-eat-dog world runs on this: people bonding with cruel bosses, playing possum to avoid trouble from dangerous overlords, etc. Because so many people are a little bit infected by this dynamic, it’s hard to find others who truly have an overview and understand. Those who work in hostage deprogramming would understand and those who’ve broken free from emotional cages would too.

    The thing about real love is it doesn’t make you feel paralyzed, sapped of strength and trapped. So I don’t think you really love this person you’re married to because this person isn’t lovable in any sense. It’s all smoke, mirrors and control. I hope you can break free of this prison. There’s so much life on the other side, though this might not seem apparent right now because abuse– if anything– is spellbinding. It tells the lie that nothing better awaits you.

    • That is the most intelligent answer I’ve ever read. Especially the details of the Stockholm syndrome.
      Thank you, Sir.

    • “That way you can weed out the smooth operators in the future and find someone of character like yourself. In order to spot this in other people you’ll have to build back up your appreciation of your own character, see your own value, love yourself. Those things are impossible to do while living with the enemy but once you’re free, you can regain your perspective and true self.”
      I had never thought of fixing your picker in quite this way. Brilliant.

  • How are you going to, etc.?

    Don’t bother. Save your energy for recovering from the years of abuse you’ve suffered. You’re going to need it.

  • About 4 years before my divorce, I moved to the spare room, partly because the Dickhead’s snoring was getting bad and partly because he was a Dickhard. He would actually get mad at me if I had the audacity to fall asleep first because then he had to listen to me snore, and we were married just short of 18 years.

    You have life to live, you have the means to live comfortably without financial worries, and you deserve peace in your life. There’s a alot of ‘life’ in these sentences but that’s because you have the right to determine how you spend what’s left of your life here on this planet. It’s time to pick you!! The road ahead become more bumpy and a bit scary at times but it will level to this whole wide open space that is yours to live. Imagine being able to breath without needing to worry her and how she is affecting your life today. I will say it again, pick you.

  • “. . . this is extremely tiring” is the understatement of the fucking century.

    Do yourself a favor and end the cycle of horribly bad decisions. Get a lawyer and get rid of her.

  • Interestingly enough, or not, I the dad, carry DNA footprint which is uniquely inherited through my father’s birthline which I can see in the eyes of my 2 younger children, that I don’t see in the oldest sons, so I have a strong feeling that the 2 younger ones are indeed mine without needing a DNA test. I won’t go into what it is, but just to say it’s a trait that only the male line of my family possesses.

  • Believe, I hope you believe this wife of yours is an entitled, nasty crazy person. I wonder if she’s abusing your kids. The personality disordered don’t choose only one victim. Take a good look at how she treats them.

  • “This is at least what she said she was doing, and knowing how this (affair stuff) works, there likely, was more than just calling going on for the past 26 years… But since I hadn’t caught any of this before to challenge her on it, how was I to know?”

    Been there, Believe. It’s easy to be duped when you don’t know what you don’t know and can’t imagine operating like cheaters do. However, I think your letter shows that *now* you get it. I think you don’t actually believe anymore — a really important step — but you still wish more than anything that you could believe. Until your brain can catch up with your heart (took me months of being on my own and NC) you just have to take a leap of faith and leave. CL/CN are trustworthy. A con artist cheater who has betrayed you and your kids for years is not. Get out ASAP and don’t give this lying cheater one more year of your one precious life.

  • To me “reconciliation” means granting you a quick, uncontested, and exceedingly financially fair divorce.

    If they love you so much then they can always win you back and you can get remarried. If they are truly sorry it’s the least they can do.

  • I do not understand why paternity fraud is not considered legally a crime. I mean read again this man’s story or any other similar. Not only you get cheated but you add insult to injury by investing money and emotions on the fruit of this bond. I get that the child is innocent to pay the mother’s decisions but then why it is the father who suffered the worse of a man’s nightmare is lifetime sentenced to endure that and the mother gets away with no punishment? Wouldn’t be fair that not only she (and the biological father) take care of raising the child from there on and compensate for the years of deceipt?

    • It’s a bit of a thumb trap because what punishment to the mother wouldn’t also be punishment to the child if you think about it? But the biological father should definitely be made to pay support and the chumped step-dad should be able to file for that support.

  • I am very sorry. Your wife reminded me of my XW. My oldest is a NPE from my XW’s affair also. But my XW didn’t tell me for 15 years until an AncestryDNA brought it to light. I filed for divorce 2 1/2 weeks later and told both families and many other people. Your wife is not sorry, doesn’t love you and is abusive. If I stayed my XW was already treating me like that and it would have only gotten worse.

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