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The Rise and Fall of Wife Guys

Kudos to whoever coined the term “Wife Guy.” I confess, until the Adam Levine debacle I snarked about last week, I hadn’t heard of it. (Hey, I’m an aged dork who lives in the woods.) But it perfectly encapsulates the phenomena of the flamboyantly devoted man, whose wife is his brand. (Spoiler alert: Until such a time as she inevitably is not.)

The New York Times wrote about Wife Guys in 2019, after some dweeby guy Robbie Tripp created a video praising his wife’s curvy body “Chubby Sexy.” .

A wife guy is not embarrassing because he is overly devoted to his wife, the sexist idea that used to be called “being whipped” and is now more fashionably referred to as “being a cuck.” He is worthy of suspicion because he appears to be using his devotion to his wife for personal gain. Tripp has made a brand for himself off his wife’sbody, not his own. He has leveraged it into Instagram brand deals for natural shaving creams and Dunkin’-themed sneakers; in his music video, he raps as his wife dances mutely in a swimsuit. He has taken a rather sexist tradition — of men gaining social status through the physical appearance of their wives — and pitched it as a newly enlightened stance.

God save us from this enlightenment. And why, at least in the case of Tripp, is the praise rather off-putting? I love you in spite of your cellulite! #bitchcookie. Are there women rappers out there exulting their husbands’ ear hair? #tuftguy

Anyway… the era of the Wife Guy appears to be in decline. Tiffany Kelly at MSN asks, “Can we stop idolizing Wife Guys now?”

The problem with making loving your wife part of your brand? The fallout if you break up or get caught cheating. We saw this happen in 2021 when John Mulaney announced his divorce from Anna Marie Tendler, an artist whom he mentioned a lot in his comedy specials. And we saw it happen this week after Try Guy ​​Ned Fulmer admitted to a “consensual workplace relationship” after rumors of him cheating on his wife, Ariel Fulmer, hit the internet.

Now add Adam Levine reportedly cheating on his pregnant wife, Behati Prinsloo.

Should we despair? Are there any thoroughly decent people out there just loving each other warts and all and not making cringey videos about it?

Sure. And that’s the tell — the love isn’t all impression management and narkles. Authentic people don’t require rewards for doing normal, loving, human bonding things, i.e, “finding wife attractive.” (Thank you Stew Elliott for this tweet.)

How could a Wife Guy cheat?! He was so devoted! Here’s my cynical take. I think the over-the-top proclamations of love, the whole muse schtick (that’s a rail-against-patriarchy essay for another day) is just an invitation for other women to do the pick me dance. Knock that muse off her pedestal and win some of the glory.

Wow! If I can get a Wife Guy to choose ME, I must be REALLY special!

Nah. You’re just kibbles.

Real devotion just shows up and stays quiet. Why advertise that juicy ass/bogeyman-ear-hair unless you want to share?

 

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        • “Facebook is the number 1 dating site for married people” I can’t remember where I saw this or who said it but in many cases including my own it rings true…

          • My case too. Cheating Abusive Douche knew I didn’t look at Facebook beyond checking the child’s page for unsafe and inappropriate activity. I had no idea I should have been checking his page for the same.

          • FW used FB to cheat and communicate with APs. I never went on. She was on all the time putting her pictures up. I hate FB.

    • Aren’t we a fucked up lot? I too find FB anniversary tributes cringey and suspect. But then again, shouldn’t we want to give a shoutout to our partner on a special occasion? But maybe not on FB? Is FB an inappropriate place for that? But isn’t that what FB is for? Sharing special moments with your friends? I’m so confused. And I hate that I find the majority of public professions of love suspect.

      • It is fairly easy to spot the genuine couples from the image-management ones.

        I bonded with some old high school classmates when we read between the lines of our facebook posts. Nothing overt, but it was obvious who was in awful relationships.

        I never posted anything fake and I never overshare. People don’t know all the crap I went through, it I;m married, divorced, dating. Nada.

      • It depends. My social media is filtered by the fact it’s only for environmental advocacy and related environmental health issues and is filled with activists, researchers, journalists or consumer advocates who’ve personally suffered fallout from environmental disaster. It’s an embattled cause so many people “front” their personal lives a bit (or a lot) on social media if just to avoid having rampant toxic industry trolls snatch evidence of personal weakness and use it against the cause. But that “fronting” comes in different forms and is for different reasons. Nowhere more than in helping professions and advocacy for important causes are you going to see the best types of people and the worst types in stark relief.

        I’m very fond of the sober researchers and earnest advocacy professionals who almost never post anything personal and are completely data- and cause-driven. But what stays with me the most are the people who’ve suffered environmentally-related illness in their families. Many use social media to stay in touch because they’re too swamped by various trials by fire to always see friends and family in person. They seem to mark memories with beautiful photo evidence to leave for family because they’re not sure how many more memories they’ll be able to make. I think it’s also an attempt to remain positive and focus on gratitude rather than sinking into hopelessness. Those celebration posts are interspersed with posts about, say, their brain surgery or chemo or a child’s repeat hospitalization and lots of awareness-raising articles that show genuine concern for people and causes outside their own circles. The same people tend to be kind, deep, reciprocal and enriching to know. I’ve seen a few people like this blindsided by interpersonal betrayal but there isn’t this sense that they had been trying to make people jealous of their devoted family lives but rather had been clinging to those things as life rafts so their loss seems all the more unfair, horrible and infuriating.

        I do have some people on my threads who are building personal brands but these are divided between shilly types doing it for personal gain and others who use the brand to further a cause. It’s not that hard to see the difference between them. The cause-driven pundits can be real behind the scenes, knowledgeable, generous with important information and also highly aware of the politics of presentation which they can be frank, funny and instructive about. But I keep my distance from the shills because they’re depressing. And they tend to be rampant plagiarists who hoard important information, form juvenile cliques to gate-keep access to celebrity environmentalists, use people and, because they’re about as deep and discerning as puddles, often taint legitimate environmental issues with embarrassing tangents (chemtrails!). I’ve seen a few of those types in family dramas too. They’re more likely than average to be the cause of it but a few have been victims as well. It’s a little more ironic when the latter happens to a jerk but in the end I know that even IF someone is a card-carrying narcissist, this still doesn’t justify an abuser abusing them. It’s not like part of the penal code is that if you’re a dick, this means anyone can stab you with scissors for fun.

        Anyway, seeing social media from that perspective has made me immune to what is being called “Insta-depression” where people compare their “meager” lives to flashy fronting. Call it social media “meh.”

    • Yep when I see a big bouquet of flowers for Bdays from wonderful spouse, I remember that he bought me a beautiful array of flowers, just three months before he drop kicked me.

      Of course only he and I knew that it was the second time in 21 years he sent me flowers, the first time being the day our son was born, 9 months and two days after our wedding day. (he was in Vietnam and had them sent) Oh in the early years he brought me some grocery store plants, but flowers sent only twice.

      It pains me when I see them bragged about, because I know that statistically about half of those women will be devastated at some point.

      • Asshat bought me a beautiful bouquet for our 24 wedding anniversary………10 days after handing me divorce papers!

        • Yeah I came home to flowers and a kitchen full of my favorite foods. I had been overseas on a trip with our daughter and he’d been cheating on me with his newest girlfriend.

          • It was all impression management for my two kids (18 & 21 at the time). I left them there for weeks to die–I didn’t want to touch them. I didn’t say anything and want that to be the image they have so when they’re older, they’ll appreciate what a BS move it was.

            • My daughter, God love her, took it upon herself to quietly go through our house one day, remove all of the icky fake tokens of love, and trash them. I believe the fancy framed thing with “I’d marry you again” was the first to go, though perhaps it would have been sufficient to cross out the “you.”

              Meanwhile, son and daughter both told ex to take off the wedding ring, already, and to stop saying, “my wife” this or that—is a professor, makes killer chili, whatevs—at once.

              Love those kiddos.

  • Unsurprisingly, my FW was a Wife Guy as well until he wanted a new wife. Just like in the above quote, which cites the messy cases of Mulaney and Fulmer, my then husband branded himself as “best husband” who had the “happiest, sexiest wife” ever. But those were in the days were social media was in its infancy and he didn’t have much of a personal brand yet (and I was uncomfortable being made into a public/front-facing figure, so I limited how much I actively participated in that), so most of his “devoted family man and husband husband husband husband, hey did you know that I’m a husband and I have a wife” persona was due to his active campaigning and word of mouthing.

    And, like in the citation with Mulaney and Fulmer, it absolutely *destroyed* his personal brand and reputation when he dropped me for GF#1. Folks were shocked in a way that took several days to process: “But he’s been a devoted husband to Fourleaf for forever! He’s always talking about her.” I even had a friend tell me that she “looked up to FW so much and wanted a husband like him one day because he seemed so kind and devoted.” Learning that he was a cheater shocked and broke the hearts of a lot of his friends who bought into that image management. His personal Wife Guy brand took a huge beating back then and he pretty much lost a good 80% of his childhood friends.

    I haven’t done any online pain shopping in years but, the last few times I did, I saw brief Instagram flashes of sexy GF#3/Wifetress all over his feed and testimonies of how amazing she is and how devoted he is to her. He spent a long time picking himself back up from the fallout of the GF#1 days and has largely cultivated a new, large circle of friends who didn’t know him back then and have certainly never heard of me (a mythical, distant “first wife”–a quiet, blurry creature of legend), so he’s back to form as far as I could tell: Wife Guy all over again. (Good luck to her.) I learned my lesson years ago: I don’t go looking at what he’s doing online.

    • Yep- my x was also full of praise to anyone about how he was so lucky to have such a wonderful wife, and played up the devoted husband. A couple of days before he dumped me he told his family that he’d ‘never been happier’. He’s doing the same thing now, with the new wife.

      My family and friends were also stunned that he ditched me, in large part because of how outwardly loving he was. I’ve learned since that having everyone perceive us as being so happy, and him as such a great partner, fed into his narcissism.

      • “ I’ve learned since that having everyone perceive us as being so happy, and him as such a great partner, fed into his narcissism.”

        Yes!

        My FW was on staff at our church. I heard from others in the church how he would often sing my praises during the weekly staff meeting. Would also brag about the gifts he bought me for Christmas, birthdays, our anniversary. I was told how lucky I was to have a husband who loved me so much. ???? It was all just impression management to build himself up. He got off on people admiring him for being such a great guy.

        Everyone was so shocked when they found out he left me for a massage parlor sex worker and that he’d lived a double life for years.

      • Yeah. After D-Day, x said that he’d been unhappy for 10 years.

        But around that time (10 years prior), he not only got my initials tattooed on his body????????‍♀️, but he also threw an expensive birthday party for me and gave a seemingly heartfelt toast about how much he loved me and how great I was. Lol.

        Now I see that this was a kibble fest FOR HIM. Look at Spinach’s husband!! He threw a lavish party. So generous! And he gave a wonderful toast. What a guy!!!

        But there’s something beyond the kibbles. I think he was acting a part because he really didn’t know (doesn’t know) how to love deeply or experience true intimacy.

        After 35 years of marriage, he believed he deserved to have two women in his life. Furthermore, in the end, he felt he had the right to choose which woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, like some star on The Bachelor. When he told me that 3 days before D-Day I was still in the running, he thought I should be grateful. Second place!! Not bad. If only I hadn’t tripped in the end. #myfault.

        Who thinks this way? Shallow people. Entitled people. People who, as CL would say, have elevator shafts where their souls should be.

        • “I think he was acting a part because he really didn’t know (doesn’t know) how to love deeply or experience true intimacy.”

          Don’t know if it’s true for every situation, but I think that right there is the key to almost everything. My own FW had a moment in counseling in which, for a nanosecond, she caught a glimpse of the “true intimacy” idea. She kind of had an a-ha moment of stunned consideration, said it was something she hadn’t understood before and she’d have to think about that.

          Little did I know that she thought about it, then decided, “nope, that’s too hard” and found a few people to talk about threesomes with instead. I think when you don’t understand intimacy, titillation becomes a stand-in.

        • “Yeah. After D-Day, x said that he’d been unhappy for 10 years.

          But around that time (10 years prior), he not only got my initials tattooed on his body????????‍♀️, but he also threw an expensive birthday party for me and gave a seemingly heartfelt toast about how much he loved me and how great I was.”

          Isn’t that weird? Mine said, in the middle of Reconciliation Hell, that he wanted to start planning a Renewal of Vows ceremony. “Make it a really big party! Renew our vows! Invite everyone who doubted our love!” (He conveniently left out “…because, y’know… of all my cheating…”) I looked at him like he had grown a second head. I was still trying really hard to trust him while simultaneously showing him every day that I wanted him to value and love me in return. He was getting colder and more distant every day, so where the heck did this idea of a Vow Renewal ceremony come from?! I told him that we didn’t have the money for something like that (objectively true/we were so broke) and that I would feel really, really, REALLY awkward having everyone staring at us for a vow renewal because… y’know… (He stared at me accusingly/he didn’t like it when I brought up GF#1)… um… we’re still figuring our relationship out. He agreed that we didn’t have the money for it yet but that it’s something we should do later.

          A few months later he was living at GF#3’s house. I’m glad I didn’t let him bully me into a sham vow renewal ceremony just to try and reinstate his Hey-Everyone-Stop-Doubting-Me-Wife-Guy image; it just would have heaped more humiliation on me after he left for the final time.

          He also got my personal symbol (same idea as my initials) tattooed onto his arm around that time. It’s just, like…. WHY? You already had nearly both feet out the door.

          • We were planning our vow renewal, a second honeymoon, and a second baby…six months later he was having an affair and telling me he never loved me and had been miserable for ten years (we’d been married ten years).

        • “ After 35 years of marriage, he believed he deserved to have two women in his life. Furthermore, in the end, he felt he had the right to choose which woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, like some star on The Bachelor. When he told me that 3 days before D-Day I was still in the running, he thought I should be grateful. Second place!! Not bad.”

          Mine told me he’d made a list comparing me, his faithful wife of 29 years, to his massage parlor girl schmoopie. Listing the pros and cons of each. Guess I narrowly “won”, as he asked to move back in. And I let him! ????‍♀️ It was a short-lived, miserable few weeks of marriage policing that ended when I caught him hiding in a closet talking to her.

          He’s actually married to massage girl schmoopie now. I would bet the honeymoon is long over and he’ll be back to making his lists again soon, if he isn’t already. So glad he is no longer in my life.

      • We went on a vacation with friends literally a month before mine dumped me. He did the same thing. He told them how happy he was and how much he loved me. It was just a set up so they wouldn’t believe me. And they didn’t. I must be a liar.

        I’m now suspicious of people who talk too much about stuff like this. It doesn’t impact my life much but when I notice somebody talks too much about their love or devotion, I wonder if they’re actually a psychopath. Just like people who always seem to have something going on that they want you to feel sorry for them about. They’re big red flags to me now and I avoid those people.

        • “He told them how happy he was and how much he loved me. It was just a set up so they wouldn’t believe me. And they didn’t. I must be a liar.”

          That…. makes a lot of sense. It’s a good way for the more uninvested partner to prop themselves up as saintly so that folks will find it hard to believe that they could every stray.

          “I’m now suspicious of people who talk too much about stuff like this.”

          Me too, honestly.

      • My ex, too: “same song, 31st verse” as my mom would say. He was always taking pics of me to put on his FB page; had my pic as the wallpaper on his phone, etc.. It was to the point where it made me feel uncomfortable, but if I complained, how ungrateful was I being toward such a devoted husband?…. It went on like this until like 2 weeks before he walked out on me and our 18-year marriage for a woman he’d known 3 weeks. It all made sense once I understood it was 100% about him and his image and 0% about me as a person.

      • These same narcs also play devoted parent of the year…then they dump the kids when they move on to another scene. “All the world’s a stage” for these defects.

    • Publicly, my husband was very much a wife guy, praising me all over social media. He made big displays in public (bringing me coffee at work, PDA, opening doors for me, etc.). In private it was quite different (there, I was a worthless, ugly, fat cow whom he ignored). He was posting this stuff (“I’m such a lucky guy”, “my wife is better than yours”, etc.) right up until he met OW. Once he dumped me, SHE became the new object of praise. He would post terrible pictures of her, where she looked so goofy and plain, and call her “the most beautiful woman in the universe”. Constant smoochie pictures. Pictures of her in tight, revealing clothing where he talked about how hot she was. (She left him and then he looked a right fool.) Between this and his very public “great dad” routine, he was all about using his family to make himself look good.

    • My ex was a young childhood educator, and our son went to his preschool after our divorce (discounts!) and when I was there for a parent fun-day, one couple just couldn’t stop going on and on about what a great guy my ex was. How great with kids he is and how he must be such a great husband. I was living with my now husband at the time and kind of laughed to myself “Oh he’s great alright, as long as you aren’t married to him or his own kid”. Luckily I never had to see them again and I so very rarely have to see my ex as my son gets older. His brand of a sweet, gentle, kind, self-sacrificing and adoring man was always his first concern. Actually living up to it? Not so much. He could be downright cruel in private where his adoring public wasn’t watching.

      He actually asked me not to tell anyone that he cheated when we divorced. HA! Fat chance, dork. If you wanted people to think you weren’t a cheater, you shouldn’t have cheated.

      • “He actually asked me not to tell anyone that he cheated when we divorced. HA! Fat chance, dork. If you wanted people to think you weren’t a cheater, you shouldn’t have cheated.”

        Oddly, immediately after final DDay and same-day final separation, it was ME who wanted FW to keep it quiet that he cheated. I was utterly humiliated and obviously believed that I had some responsibility in his cheating. I eventually got over that with the help of Chump Lady and Chump Nation, and now I tell people what happened (in so many words). But to stay on topic, the FW I was with for 20 years would have NEVER been accused of being a Wife Guy!! LOL

        • I keep quiet about the cheating too, generally. (Except for here.) I don’t talk about it with my family or friends. Perhaps I’m keeping his secrets for him now but I just don’t care anymore. It’s like you said: too painful and too humiliating.

    • “He spent a long time picking himself back up from the fallout of the GF#1 days and has largely cultivated a new, large circle of friends who didn’t know him back then and have certainly never heard of me (a mythical, distant “first wife”–a quiet, blurry creature of legend), so he’s back to form as far as I could tell: Wife Guy all over again. ”

      Love the blurry/creature comment. I think I was the same. He literally moved out of the county with whore, and joined a new church; I am betting their story was substantially altered to protect the guilty. But, it wasn’t long before they were fighting with the preacher and were asked to leave, so as CL says don’t ever forget they take themselves with them.

    • Wow. My ex bored everyone to tears talking about how much he loved me, how beautiful I was, thin, fit, smart, best mother, blah blah blah. But he would almost never take a photo of me or with me and he never posted on social media. That was always weird for me

      • Mine too – yet somehow during our 28 year marriage he never mentioned me or the kids on his vast and multi-faceted social media! If there was a mention, it was by someone else and he wouldn’t acknowledge it. Told me he didn’t like posting things about us for safety reasons. I wish he had been that concerned about our safety while he was out having unprotected sex with anything with a pulse.

    • Here’s to being a quiet, blurry creature of legend, lol. I don’t like the idea of rotten people thinking about me at all and would rather be a blur.

    • Extended heartbreak seems to really apply in the Fulmer situation. The other guys he used to work with said not only does it break their hearts, but the legal Ramifications of an internal office relationship consensual or not could have torn apart their office. Apparently, employees who weren’t involved were getting harangued too in the media fallout.

    • I was talking to a fellow chump friend recently about the nice guys being fat and ugly. Obviously not all of them, but speaking for the men I have personally encountered in my short time in the dating field, yes. However, if those nice, fat and ugly guys ever lost the weight, they’d likely turn into asshole cheaters, too. I probably need more therapy…

      • In my experience formerly less attractive men who get hot via weight loss or lucky aging almost always can’t resist the temptation of cheating and often are closet misogynists, bitter for the years they couldn’t get women easily.

      • My ex always had a dad-bod, even when we were in college. Didn’t save him from being an entitled liar that wants as little responsibility as possible, unless he’s getting kibbles for being a “good dad.”

      • I feel like it’s the opposite. My ex FW was very average looking and has been scrawny with a gut since I was pregnant with our now adult son. Cheating was so exciting for him! He had an attractive wife AND other women want him?! It’s the scrawny, nerdy man’s dream! Throughout our divorce he was bragging endlessly about how many women want him. He told me he felt sorry for me that I didn’t have the opportunity to cheat like him because nobody wanted me. Right… that must be it. LOL

        Now my boyfriend is extremely good looking. And he isn’t excited by female attention. It’s just normal, and even annoying. I was very attractive in my youth and I still clean up quite well and I think maybe that’s why I’m not excited by male attention. It’s just annoying. My ex husband and I married very young but apparently he was already bitter and hateful towards women because he felt like they had rejected him. He sure got me back for being the one who picked him though! I guess that was his revenge on all those evil teenage girls who turned him down.

        I look back and think I should have never given a less attractive man a chance. It didn’t do me any favors, just wasted 20 years of my life. One of my friends was abused by a fat, ugly husband who was much older than her. The myth that ugly people are nicer needs to die out. I haven’t found it to be true at all.

        • I’m someone who became attractive later in life. I always could have been cute, but racism and bullying in my own family and from the outside world sent a ton of messages that I was unnoticeable at best, heinous at worst. I carried myself myself accordingly: with the energy of shame and anger. Most of my early encounters were with men “in my league” who had been viciously shamed for their brand of “unattractive.”

          I chose ones who hated themselves still and who felt powerful because they weren’t ever the ones dealing with racism, and whose main currency in the relationship was behaving as though / telling me they were attracted to me. Many were very cruel when I showed signs of growth or having my own sense of worth. I was that devoted ugly girl and my relationships only worked as long as I didn’t know how it felt to be perceived as hot in this world and given attention by dudes who bolster their own sense of worth by getting with ‘hot’ women. I was also pretty angry about not getting the kind of men I wanted.

          Now that I’m so much older and my small-town peers are seeing that Black Don’t Crack (I just had my 49th birthday and got carded), and doing a shit-ton of healing work to learn my own worth and protect my soul, I’m getting all kinds of attention. I’m dealing right now with a friend who just last night declared his “love.” We tried the romance thing at the end of the summer and I shut it down after less than two weeks. This is a man who doesn’t feel attractive himself, and so doesn’t act like a person who knows his own worth. It breaks my heart a bit, because I see that he wants what I’ve got going on in my life and is good to me in many ways, but his lack of self-esteem means he presents himself kind of half-assedly. True to pattern for me, he’s a scrawnier guy with unacknowledged rage, and I see how he tries to win me by bolstering my esteem where it has been weak. He’s declaring his love and giving me gifts, giving me hound dog eyes, while at the same time shiftily avoiding me and hiding that he knows me when we’re out on the music scene where other potential partners are around. I used to think that kind of dodgy behaviour was only Chad territory and hence my blind spot with so many exes!

          I finally see, feel, that I too am worthy of a hot guy: i.e. a stable guy with integrity, “good-looking” or not. That it’s not a man’s looks that determines whether they need/secretly want that sparkly-sexy-attention-candy. That getting bored with a lot of attention from the opposite sex, whether through being considered attractive all one’s life, or simply through maturing from multiple experiences of attention without integrity, is a wonderful superpower. It’s amazing how hot, as in viscerally attractive, an “average” guy can be when he’s developed himself on the inside, knows that he has something to offer and then acts purposefully, like he’s carefully choosing with whom to share his world.

      • I dated a lot before getting married. My takeaway is that the devil doesn’t wear horns. Life would be so much easier if they did! Whether someone was born with good bone structure or looks like a mushroom isn’t indicative of what values they were raised with. Maybe narcissists can sometimes be detected by how much attention they put into appearance but that can also depend on professional requirements for presentation. Some see appearance as pragmatic armor to survive in their fields and some see appearance as intrinsic value. I think that’s especially important to bear in mind for women in publicly visible positions who can incur bullying just from having a hair out of place.

        Not all polished people are narcs. Very interestingly, researchers have discovered that most narcissists tend to think they’re hotter than they actually are, apparently to compensate for self loathing and feelings of inferiority. The basic conclusion was that most narcissists are nothing special. But it would still be a mistake to try to determine character just from someone being “meh” looking.

        Dr. Ramani Durvasula has pointed out that when someone gets a lot of attention due to appearance (or is very rich or rises to power too easily, etc.) they can have a skewed idea of reality from being surrounded by sycophants and develop situational narcissism. Ramani argues that if called on it, a situational narc will typically catch themselves and feel bad about it whereas a genuine narcissist would become defensive and nasty.

        No matter what they look like, the most infuriating narcissists are covert and expert at feigning “humility” to keep from setting off the radars of discerning targets. They’re like viruses who mutate to avoid human immune defenses. So, for me, avoiding experiences that will leave me more cynical is all about boosting “immunity”– detecting some of the subtler, trickier cues that another person isn’t all there. Other survivors’ lists of lesser-known red flags are like a public service. I collect them.

      • Immachumptoo: Yup that’s called “pulling a Pratt”. As in Chris Pratt who dumped his pudginess & his wife, Anna Faris. Now doing image management with Katherine Schwarzenegger.

  • I understand about not bragging about something you should love because it’s what you should do. Not to make money off of your wife/husbands body. I would never brag about being a “wife guy”.

    On my soapbox. But don’t put down men for being married to a dominating women. I am a strong willed man and it was hell being married to a dominating woman. Always her way all the time. ???????????? There are a lot of men who are married to bad women. Who are “whipped” as they say. I do read on CL some dominating women who want things 100% their way. Done with my soapbox.

    • Sirchumpalot, thing is, when a man is “dominating” nobody says his wife is “d-whipped” or asks who wears the skirt in the family. The man being “dominating” is supposed to be normal. That’s the problem. The guys laughing at their bro about him being whipped aren’t asking “hey man, I’m worried that you’re in an emotionally abusive relationship, she seems really controlling.” They’re mocking a man because he’s being treated the way they think they’re entitled to treat women.

    • Sir,
      The difference between “strong willed” and “abusively dominating” is illustrated by what you’re saying. I think the difference is basic empathy or lack of it. Some people are bigger than life but this doesn’t mean they’re necessarily creeps. Before getting married, I dated this Mr. Mensa Moneybags for awhile. He was used to getting his way and used to being smarter than other people. And taller and faster and more competent. Consequently he could be pretty liberal with “advice” and it came off as controlling. But when I pointed out once that something he said made me feel bad, he turned three shades of pale, was almost in tears and tripped all over himself apologizing. I started to realize that he had a tendency to “fix” people because he was a chronic worrier, sort of a “catcher in the rye.” He was also a bit testy and poked around to see if he could expose negative motives in other people because he felt vulnerable to being used precisely because he did have empathy. These are sympathetic traits even if his expression of them could be rattling. I met one of his former girlfriends and she said he had a good heart and it was true. For me, he was a bit too overwhelming to be around but I guessed (correctly) that he’d probably marry some sincere, ruggedly cheerful person who wasn’t so easily jostled, wouldn’t wilt under his quirks and saw the good in him.

  • The biggest mindfuck to overcome after DDay has been encountering the disbelief of others because of how Traitor Ex raved about how much he loved me, our family, how lucky he was, how glad he was that he was not on the dating scene, etc. It has me wondering why he was 1) married to me and 2) in the habit of making such proclamations to others. I had not heard the term “wife guy” until someone posted a link in yesterday’s blog. But since DDay I have wondered if our MIRAGE (I had a mirage, not a marriage) was in fact a cover for something dark and secret about him, beyond the secret sexual double life.

    Over the years with him, I often heard from single women friends how they wanted a husband just like Traitor Ex. If all of us only knew what I know now and have realized since DDay. (DDay for me is also Denial-breaking Day, not just Discovery Day).

    One thing I know for sure is that I was not a wife. I was a hostage.

    • I had to screen shot this velvet hammer because it is exactly what I experienced. I still get foggy about that mirage and need to be slapped in the face by the reality. But so much was so good for so long and he had everyone conned.

    • “Over the years with him, I often heard from single women friends how they wanted a husband just like Traitor Ex.”

      my best friend who was actually his high school friend once told me that I had one of the good ones. She knew he came from a troubled home, and he was playing the part very well I assume. I know for a fact that she didn’t know what was going on, because I know she would have approached him if she had and tried to not only turn him around, but she would have made sure he told me.

      Her husband was a lying cheat from the get go, so she was likely so busy trying to manage, it just went over her head, same as mine.

      Her D happened just a couple years before mine.

      We both met good men, and have had solid marriages since then. She married quicker after her D than I did. I dated my H for five years before marriage. Two of those years we were engaged; but I was in no hurry. I was having a great time being the girlfriend.

      • I dated Traitor Ex for seven years before getting Miraged, living together for six of them. I waited ten more years before having a baby. We were together for 27 years, therapist the entire time.

        I thought waiting a long time before getting married was a sign of solidarity and relationship health, insurance against cheating, but in
        my case it wasn’t. Having taken things slowly and being in therapy the whole time has only added to the enormity of the mindfuck.

        ❤️

        • Friends for three years, dated for a year and a half, engaged for a year. So I knew him 5 1/2 years before we married. Other women envied me. People told us we were disgustingly cute. I thought I’d found one of the good ones.

          He turned out to be a controlling, abusive cheater. But the abuse didn’t get “that bad” (that I recognized it) until our son was born five years later. (Looking back I can see it from the beginning, but I didn’t have a lot of experience and didn’t see the red flags.)

          Time doesn’t guarantee anything.

    • “One thing I know for sure is that I was not a wife. I was a hostage.” This 1,000x. It was always “my way or else…” from him, and the “or else” shifted depending on what he knew I needed/feared. Best Regards had no conception of reciprocation, vulnerability, or intimacy. To him a relationship was a power dynamic in which he controlled the other person–in other words, as you put it, a hostage situation. I didn’t realize that until you put it in those words, VH.

      • At its most basic, if they are cheating/lying, they are holding you hostage because you are in the relationship using manipulation and deception instead of voluntarily with informed consent. You aren’t in the relationship you agreed to, based on the terms which were expressed. Therefore, hostage.

        If I knew the truth about what he thought, what he felt, what he was doing and who he was doing it with, I would have left decades before DDay.

        This is why I laugh whenever I hear the “unhappy” cheating defense. The door wasn’t locked and he wasn’t restrained. We had a therapist he could have talked to 24/7/365.

        He chose to lie and deceive me. I was in a relationship with a lie, not the authentic Traitor Ex.

        I call BS on any cheaters that try that “unhappy” crap.

        I could have been freed up to date other people when he decided to, but that’s not how the cheating game works. No one will ever convince that cheaters know a dadgum thing about love.

        • ‘The door wasn’t locked and he wasn’t restrained’

          Exactly this Velvet! I say this to anyone who pulls the he was unhappy crap with me, including Ex FW, before I went grey rock

          If you were unhappy, you could have left. He never knew what to say to that, as he knew I would never have pursued him

          Don’t let the door hit your arse on the way out fucker

          • And ANYONE involved with a liar/cheater/thief is in a hostage situation. This means all those AP’s
            (Adultery Participant/Perp) don’t have what they think they do either. That goes double if both people in the illicit situation are also fraudulently participating in committed relationships

        • *I* was extremely unhappy in my marriage. I didn’t cheat. I never even considered it.

          I gave my husband an out. I told him if he was involved with OW, I’d walk away. He could have been divorced and free quite quickly. He chose to lie and string me (and OW) along for FOUR YEARS. If he was “so unhappy” with me, he could have gotten out. OW lied to me too, and in doing so had to deal with being the dirty little secret (though it wasn’t all that secret)/OW for a very long time. She complained about it in her letters to him, but didn’t do the one thing that would have had me out of there in a heartbeat – TELL ME. I’m sure he was the one telling her not to. Which just proves he didn’t love her any more than he loved me. No, they know nothing about love.

  • Men who show off this way get SO much praise for doing what any man should do–loving their wife. We rave over some man who makes a show of doing the bare minimum. In a related note, I used to volunteer on a ‘parents-under-stress’ hotline. We’d always ask the single parents if they needed some respite care, that is, to drop their child/ren off at the center for a few hours so they could have some time to recharge. The women callers would always gasp, “Yes! I would love that! I haven’t have time without my child since 1992! [or whenever]” The MALE callers (few, but there were some) would always say, “Nah, my girlfriend/mother/ex-girlfriend/female neightbor/random woman I met in a bar or supermarket” is always willing to take my kids, in fact they are there right now…” Grrr. And, now, in an UNrelated note, I just watch the Robbie Tripp video and for the first time in my entire life, I used the term ‘douche bag’. If the shoe fits…

  • I’ve been hit on by a few Wife Guys, most recently by one whom I know well. The devoted couple (with two adorable kids) are members of a social wine club I’m active in and we’ve always gotten along nicely. The three of us bonded quickly and often shared silly banter via text and I was excited to make new friends! Then Wife Guy started messaging me one on one. I didn’t think much of it at first because it was always about something valid, until it wasn’t. My social media promotes wellness and I post a lot of fitness videos with my trainer, with a focus on realistic home workouts for real women, which became popular through the pandemic. Most of the comments and feedback came from women, but occasionally a dude would chime in with some cringeworthy “compliment”…which would always be deleted. Anyway, one day the nice wine club Wife Guy told me he often masturbates to my videos and pointed out the ones that highlight the “camel toe”. Gross! I shot him down quickly, but my heart broke for his amazing wife. I put him in his place, but I’m guessing that many others have not. Being the devoted husband and father is his brand…it’s plastered all over his social media and he makes it look so genuine.

      • Erm, I think it would be better to send the wife a warning anonymously and even invent a little to obscure the source. I would pretend to be a dear old friend who saw the cheater doing something in public (diversion from the fact it was seen online) but prefers to remain anonymous because cheaters can be scary if exposed. Then I’d sign off with a recommendation to hire a PI and an assertion that no one thinks it’s the chump’s fault… a hint that more than one person is aware of the cheater’s behavior (guaranteed to be true) and furthermore that the context is rooting for the chump to help allay the humiliation of it. Even if the chump in the situation spackles and believes the cheater’s spin when confronted, it’s still a penny drop. Her eyes might open eventually.

        Because cheaters tend to be like toddlers pissing in a pool, unaware of who might be watching or judging their antics as long as they’re out of the house, leaving the description of the event that was “witnessed” vague protects the source and is a bonus mindfuck for the cheater. They’ll be left guessing who saw them and what was seen. And, again, it gives the chump the chance to wise up and protect themselves. I don’t think it’s possible to do more without risking retaliation from a raging cheater.

    • I hope you sent those texts to his wife. I was that wife. I used to lose friends like crazy to the point where I thought other women just hated me. It really hurt. I found out after the divorce that he would do things like this and make women uncomfortable… so they’d drop me as a friend because it was awkward. And I’d be sitting there wondering what I did wrong and why I couldn’t keep a friend.

      • I also want to add, that’s why when he dumped me, my only “friends” were women screwing him. Because they’re the only ones who stuck around. It’s a double whammy on the wives. We lose anyone who might have actually been a real friend and we get surrounded by our enemies unknowingly.

  • I have to agree, especially down here in the South! I’ve seen and experienced this scenario play out a lot here. I’ve personally been through this and counsel a lot of women who have been through this too and are thinking about leaving or in the process. Their support circles are typically very little-none because around here young (under 50) divorced woman are considered a threat so they are ousted from social and family groups! People literally run from you. It really fucking sucks….until you don’t give a shit anymore!

    It’s common for “devoted” husbands to marry gorgeous wives only to keep catting around. Sadly, society encourages those women to stay because a long list of BS excuses of why to stay – “he’s getting use to being married”, “love conquers all”, “they don’t mean anything to him because he was married before the eyes of God to YOU”, “it’s normal for a man wonder”, “Jesus said fight for your marriage”, “if you divorce you’re a sinner and going to hell”, etc. It’s pretty sick!

    And, can I just tell you, the single women down here LOVE the challenge!!!! Especially the younger ones. It’s become a well known game among the young under 30’s and college girls. It’s like if a man wears a wedding ring it’s like a beacon for wannabe sidepieces. They love the idea of being sugar babies and having a sugar daddy. I was professionally mentoring a 23 yr old girl and helping her navigate through finishing college and landing a big girl job. She told me all about how girls her age do this and how it excites them….and guess what??? She became my (now ex) boyfriend’s sidepiece under my nose. He was 50 at the time, we were talking of marriage, and shoring up our lives to be together. She swooped in put on a heavy dose of crazy (like suicidal and I’ll kill you crazy) and now they are married.

    I now work in the restaurant industry at a high end establishment and the amount of married men out with other women is disgusting! And, the amount of women that flirt with men in front of the wives is equally if not more disgusting! It’s awful! It’s like watching the breakdown of society right before your eyes. In fact, it bothered me so much I asked to take a lower profile position so I wouldn’t have to see it.

    All that said, ladies and gentlemen, this is why it’s important to surround yourself with like minded people who appreciate others and know your red flags. A partner or “friend” can make you or break you. Be confident they will make you! And, please teach your children these lessons too.

    • @SouthernChump … yikes! If you get sick of that dynamic come on up to the Pacific Northwest. Bring your flannels and rain boots. I haven’t encountered that culture in the 55 years I’ve lived here. There are cheaters, to be sure, but it’s not cool. And sugar babies?….. sickening.

      • Unfortunately, I’ve seen the exact behavior described by SouthernChump right here in my small little town in AK. I’m fairly fit and attractive, was divorced at 50. Been in this town 7 years. I am pretty much socially ostracized from all the couples in my age group because the women feel I’m a threat. Honey, I’m the safest thing since double latex condoms.

        When unavailable men try to schmooze me I want to barf. And there are plenty of young 20-30’s women here who love having that married guy with $ in his pocket paying attention to them. And I know too many men who are doing just that. Men who screw(ed) around on their wives, and now are screwing around on their girl friends. Older men going from one young woman to the next. Even ‘poly’ couples – which is the wife agreeing (under duress) to allow for an “open” marriage.

        Its even crazier to know that people really think that they’ve got their shit under cover, when EVERYONE in this small town knows what’s going on. We just pretend really well we don’t. It allows for smoother interactions at the Post Office.

        But this behavior has turned me off the dating social scene all together. Only men who hit on me are way too old and just want me to take care of them, or they are married and just want a side fuck, or they are really, really screwed up. I tell you what, going into my golden years alone is starting to look pretty good.

    • Wow, that is awful. Say what you like about my state (California) but when I divorced Nitwit at 30 no one ousted me from anything.

      • Spinach, it could be “women are the sergeants of the patriarchy”. Of course this does not mean every woman. But it was taught in my DV classes. Female role belief system conditioning was/is the reality I had to change, and the work is ongoing, having realized I was yet again in an abusive situation with Traitor Ex.

        He did not hit or yell and rarely rarely rarely overtly expressed anger, so I did not see it until DDay cracked open the denial. I believed him to be an easy-going Nice Guy and now I can’t believe I did. I couldn’t see the writing on the wall with my nose pressed up against it…..

    • Too many people are apes with smart phones. I read a study that found that, in difficult or risky socioeconomic and environmental conditions, your average unreflective, reactionary idiot will adopt what’s called a “fast life strategy” that includes aggressive mating strategies like mate poaching. The idea is live fast, die young and leave a litter of spawn. The same is true for people who biologically intuit that they have abbreviated life expectancy or fertility because of poor health– they’re more likely to mate aggressively or poach. It’s kind of like, “The ice caps are melting! The air is filled with toxic sludge! War! Failing economy! My gradually failing fast food-addled liver! Hmm, should I join an eco movement or poach some old married dude with cash so I’m not the first to go down in the apocalypse? Hello grandpa!”

  • I realized when I read WifeGuy maybe I’m not on social media too much. I’d never heard of that. I’m also reminded I’m old when I read the newspaper (digital) and see the celebrity birthdays-many of which I don’t know.

    A former patient of chiropractor ex told me she had been saying to FW the last couple of times she saw him “tell Sandyfeet hello, how are the grand babies?” He’d say I will tell her, the grands are fun…….The howorker was standing at checkout the last time she went and he finally told her he hadn’t been home in over a year. Patient had known something was off because he had been such a family man bragging about the success of the children and our retirement plans-which didn’t include his late life addiction and whore.

    • “I’m also reminded I’m old when I read the newspaper (digital) and see the celebrity… ”

      My husband and I do that when we watch Wheel and Jeopardy celerity version. Who is that?

  • There’s a flip side to that — justifications of cheating/betrayal at least in part because the guy isn’t ENOUGH of a “wife guy”:

    “You never gave me enough props”
    “You never bragged about me to others”
    “You may have told ME you loved my body, but nobody else ever knew that”

    Of course, we all know that shitty character will latch on to anything and everything to cover up for entitlement and fuckedupedness.

  • I wouldn’t classify my ex as a wife-guy but he did try to come off as a good husband (in front of others). But I know the type. I’ve also known a few hubby-gals or hubby-chick (whatever the counterpart is) too. The ones praising their “ah-mazing” husbands & their “ah-mazing” families, but secretly screwing the barista up the street.

    • Or they have to constantly tell everyone how great and amazing their relationship is to the point of obnoxiousness because they have absolutely nothing else going on in their lives. They’re deeply unhappy and cling to their relationship because it’s all they have to speak of.

  • I don’t know who to credit for this, but I saw the perfect summary of the Wife Guy the other day: “a Wife Guy tells everyone he loves his wife. A good guy tells his wife he loves her.”

    • Yep, honestly except for the first few years, my ex rarely ever said “I love you” first, aside from during sex.

      He said it so few times in the last couple years that I can actually remember them.

    • There wasn’t a day that went by in over 40 years together that I didn’t hear “ I love you” from my FW cheater.
      It’s the actions that demonstrate what life is, and not the ones they do to impress others with their awesomeness.
      The actions done out of genuine love when an audience just isn’t required to fill their kibble jar, that’s where you would find love.
      Every move a FW makes is purposefully designed to serve their egos and gain them amazing and enviable partner points or why else would they waste their time at all?
      Love is just a useful,manipulative word for them, very helpful in their conniving deceitful game.
      Real love does not exist in their worlds.

      • exactly. My ex told me constantly how much he “loved” me, that I was the best thing that ever happened to him, that he was so glad we were together…. blah blah. He was cheating and being inappropriate the entire time. All those cringy protestations of undying love were just to keep me from looking behind the curtain.

  • It’s just another annoying iteration of the Nice Guy.

    If you really are loving, devoted, and happy about it, you don’t need to tell everyone. You just are. You just live it without needing everyone to see you.

    Can we stop giving cringy men rewards for basic human decency?

  • My ex fw had the “family/devoted husband”schtick. I thought it was real and evidently so did many others.

    Come to find out he had been alley catting with whore for at least three years, and likely more with other women.

    After I began to come out of my shock and look back, I remember wondering if whore was getting a thrill of being in the know of who he really was.

    I also have wondered why someone doesn’t really try to delve into the base minds of the shit heads who live a double life. But, I guess the main reason is they lie, so it wouldn’t be real anyway.

  • I’ve never heard the term either! But once you do, it clicks. I do remember one of my husband’s friends (a cheater as well – they do tend to flock together) tell me my ex would always tell the guys how devoted he was to me bla bla. But my ex was the type who would always show up to bbq right before the pictures were taken. So it always looked like he was there. But he wasn’t.

  • I’m not familiar with the term “wife guy” but it sounds like another flavor of image management. Part of what hurt so bad on Dday and the ensuing years of hell until I went no contact and got a divorce was the cognitive dissonance between how XH acted towards me (love bombing, singing my praises on social media, dedicating a book her wrote to me) and what he was doing in secret —fucking randos, having two or three AP side pieces, badmouthing me to APs and his family and his douche bag bar friends (balding overweight single guys in their 50s who drive European cars and wear too tight pants…????), whom I had never met. Learning who XH really was was what blindsided me. 25 years married- I thought I knew him. Nope! It made me question my entire reality. A real mindfuck.

    • Me too, MC. It’s a total mindfuck. Fuckface totally defrauded me. He’s an evil sociopathic monster.

  • I was my ex cheater’s entire brand for our marriage. His frequent social media homages to me were cringe-y as hell, but now I see it was all about making him look a certain way and attracting pick me’s. It also set up to effectively play his latest role: lonely guy/victim (of my horridness). I will never trust a man who seems to idolize me bc I’ll know he’s just using me for clout.

  • #tuftguy made me LOL! I love it CL!
    I was married to a “wife guy”. Women would flirt with him, while praising his wife guy mentality and telling us how cute we were as a couple. I never in a million years thought he would cheat on me.

    • That’s another hidden benefit of the wife guy – it makes it really hard to suspect them of cheating even in the face of obvious signs. How could someone that besotted ever stray?? Totally kept me gas lighting myself for most of my marriage – I saw the signs but couldn’t reconcile them with his wife-guy-ness.

    • Phoenix: what you experienced is cognitive dissonance by being gaslight & that’s a deliberate abusive technique.

  • I had one of those. He loved that I was smart, had a PhD, had a great prestigious job at a university, and was financially secure. I made him look good. In public he acted like a great father and a great husband but behind closed doors he was a piece of shit who was verbally and fiscally abusive and NEVER raised a finger to care for the kids. A stranger on the street received more kindness from him then his family. Decided being held accountable was too hard. Said he never loved me when I asked why he wanted to divorce. He did never love me, just loved the idea of me.

  • Like many, I can relate to having a wife guy for the first few years. In the final year, when the affair really heated up, he started making jokes about me to my friends and in front of others. He carefully walked the line of being a “devoted father and over-worked husband (HA!)” but he subtly changed from singing praises to making me the butt of every joke just before discard. Did anyone else have this? It still shocks me from how intense he “loved” me to how he treats me now as the mother of his children. It’s truly sickening to see Mr. Hyde in all his glory.

    • Yep, can relate to every word This Shit is NOT my story

      This is what I struggle with so much and shocked all my friends and family. How can I have been so wrong when I thought I was such a good judge of character

      He seemed devoted to me for years and then just ‘flipped’ and I was shit on his shoe

      I had all the public declarations, the expensive gifts, being spoilt with champagne, birthday breakfasts and told every day how beautiful and loved I was, then wham, just like flicking off a switch

      I still struggle to catch my breath at how quickly he changed

      I then got all the sneery, passive aggressive comments, disguised as ‘jokes’

      It gives me the shivers and makes healing so hard

    • This Shit…. they “love” their spouse appliance that they plug into until another appliance comes along to plug into. In other words, it was surface love, like they love a car or a jacket. Not a deep lasting love at all. So when they’re done, they trade you in, leaving you figuratively at the used car lot. Or the second hand store.

  • People close to me knew the ex was shit. The one friend that was “mutual” was shocked because I never complained or shared issues which is how married people should conduct themselves with members of opposite sex. Don’t invite others into your marriage. Of course I was accused of having an affair with him. People on the cusp of my life commented after hearing about the divorce simply stating they didn’t think he was present in our lives anyway.
    He was all praise and showy during the love bombing stage and he should have been because as naive as I was, he had the best he was ever going to get.
    When the first kid came, he began his smear campaign to justify his shitty behavior. I just was unaware of it.

    • “I never complained or shared issues which is how married people should conduct themselves with members of opposite sex.”

      This absolutely. I never once complained about my H to anyone of the opposite sex, and any complaints I told a close girlfriend were said with humor, and very rare.

      I think if preachers want to help and despite the Jesus Cheaters most do want to help. They should require a session of premarital counseling that includes that specific tidbit. Do not under any circumstances complain about your spouse to the opposite sex, or anyone you might be attracted to. Better yet, if you have issues seek out a preacher or trusted successfully married person (not the sex you are attracted to) to get advice.

      Also teach them that taking money from the marital assets to spend that your spouse does not know about or approve is wrong and is in fact also infidelity.

  • This whole concept of someone in a relationship is an agent for that “brand” is sick, IMO and says something profoundly disturbing about modern culture. People aren’t brands. They shouldn’t be promoting themselves as if they were a bag of potato chips. I can see someone being a saint to everyone outside the home and then being a manipulative cruel asshole at home because that’s meeting cultural expectations and a nice dose of impression management. But social media has twisted this broadcasting their domestic sainthood into a way of gaslighting and trolling for kibbles on a global scale. If you’re an entertainer, then you need people to like or admire you because it means you’ll download their songs on Spotify. This fake front earns them money. I think for the asshole-at-home, saint-in-public their fake front garners a type of currency, too, in the form of praise and massive amounts of cake.

    • “being a saint to everyone outside the home and then being a manipulative cruel asshole at home ”

      This describes my ex to a T.

  • I hate public posts on any venue that brag about how great everything in their life is, how much they love their spouse, how wonderful and superior their kids are. In the old days, when I was young, we used to get annual Christmas letters.

    It’s always a facade. I still am getting over a funeral home post describing a friend of mine as a “beloved bride” and the deceased as an active church going good man. They were older when they married, a second marriage for both, never saw her treated as beloved, and he was a cheater.

    I have learned to believe only part of what I see, and almost none of what is said or posted. Call me a cynic. If my husband had ever gushed over me, I would have wondered what he had done recently that I had not found out about yet. Why do people need to brag? Why pretend they are SOOOO HAPPY, when they are not? Is it better to look marvelous than to be marvelous??? I don’t know, maybe I’ll ask Billy Crystal.

    • Yes, the funeral stuff can be as hard to sit through as some of the weddings I’ve been to lately. After the divorce was final, I told my adult kids that I wouldn’t be going to their dad’s funeral if he goes before I do. The contradictions would be too messy for me. The recent weddings I’ve attended have all been trumpeting, “God made you for me” and “Forever partners and friends.” That feels like it might be messy too, but I keep my mouth shut. If I ever remarry, it will be very small and real.

      My ex’s attorney died of COVID late in closeout, and the obituary was indeed “interesting” and left out a lot. Around town, he was known as a big ladies’ man with rich-and-famous friends. Reportedly, he cheated on his first wife during law school (they had small children then), divorced, and married the OW, a fellow law student. They founded their own law firm and had small children, but his roving eye got the best of him, and he cheated on her. They had a big, splashy divorce that made all the newspapers when he ran overseas, and then he set up shop again in another county where he dated various clients and then married one of them. When I hired my attorney, he said that he preferred not to share the details, but he considered my ex’s attorney to be “questionable ethically both in and outside of work.” So that confirmed what I already knew. We got it settled, thankfully. Anyway, when my ex’s attorney died, the obituary didn’t mention any of his children/previous wives and said that wife #3 was the “love of his life” and that he was “strong in his faith.” I guess that was a comfort to those who knew him…?

      I’ve told my kids that my style is nothing flashy or fake when I depart. Keep it simple, and please have good music and hire a good caterer.

      • A good friend of mine didn’t much like his wife and she didn’t much like him, though as far as I know they were faithful to one another and endured each other’s company for many, many years. He was so put off the idea of false funeral eulogies – at his age, he had sat through a few – that when he found out he was dying, he made arrangements to leave his body to medicine, so as to avoid a funeral altogether. He also had fun (he told me) winding up the admin from the university through which it was sorted out – ‘this body business…do I get paid?’ 🙂

  • I had one of these. He lost absolutely zero face when he told me how much he’d wanted to murder me for years and brutally dumped me.

    Because no one believed me.

    People literally said to me, “He couldn’t have said that, I know how much he loves you, there’s no way he said that.” and when I would ask if they thought I was lying I’d get, “Well, that didn’t happen.”

    Thanks! He got all the support for having a psychotic lying wife who was trying to smear him and ruin his reputation when she left him out of the blue and I got to try to get the divorce done as fast as possible and keep myself alive while getting everything separated alone all while trying not to piss him off because I was afraid he’d kill me while losing most of my friends and family members. It was super fun.

  • I found it suspicious that my ex didn’t have pictures of me on his phone or at his office. I always took that as a sign that he was embarrassed of me or ashamed of me. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure there’s extremes out there and those extremes would make me uncomfortable. But I always wondered why I wasn’t there anymore after the first Dday. Before I knew anything was wrong, he would carry around a keychain of a picture of us, and would have me as his background on his work computer.
    I brought it up once to him and he did put things back. But after the second DDay it never happened again. I know why now.
    But extreme announcements or expressions seems forced and suspicious.
    I think a picture here or there is not out of place. I remember i liked showing us as a couple before I found out what he was up to. I remember feeling proud and happy.
    I’m working through the anger I feel towards myself now for letting him to do much damage towards me. I burned a picture of him once, and after the initial shock and fear I felt better.

    • The first time I went by my fw’s office just to drop something off, I noticed the picture he had of us on his book shelf had disappeared. It was only the one. It did bother me, but within about six months he was busted and lost his office because someone had filed an ethics complaint against him vis-à-vis him fucking his direct report and then securing a raise for her.

      Won’t lie, that took some of the sting out of it. I doubt he put a pic up of whore. Whore had been transferred to dispatch, and he was dancing like a June Taylor dancer trying to save his ass.

      If it hadn’t been for someone dropping a dime, I suspect the original plan between he and whore was to snooker me for another year until the next election had passed.

      He was getting increasingly nasty to me, so I imagine he envisioned me getting fed up filing, and then he could drag whore out as a new girlfriend who was pure and chaste… Oh well, best laid plans and all.

  • In a rare moment on honesty, FW replied to my “why did you even marry me” (20 years of cheating, lying about degree
    and past life, etc. double-life revealed) with “everyone at work thought you were really great and all the executives were married, so I thought it would help my career.” (Literally to gain status from being associated with me.) Plus having a handy beard for his sleezey double life while he played My fancy Vice President. I’ve been divorced nearly 6 years now, still terrified to date, and clearly not at meh based up how much this article riled me up…

    • *Mr. Fancy VP type-o
      And to add, I was required to have no needs, stay under 110#s, look great for all social appearances with him, but couldn’t spend any money on myself, and had to quit my job because I made more money. I am appalled at how clear all of this is now, but how dumb I was.

      • Don’t be so hard on yourself beenchumped. It’s easy to see everything clearly in retrospect. Like most of us, you weren’t dumb, you were just trying to make your marriage work. These types can be persuasive. And the abuse can start slowly, so we hardly recognize it as abuse.

        ((hugs))

  • I don’t know what a “wife guy” is? I thought if I loved my wife with my whole heart she’d love me back with her whole heart. I thought we all pick the people we think are beautiful or gorgeous to be with and we love that person and do things with them and for them because they as they are make us feel loved. Then my whole heart was ripped out of my chest and stomped on then put back in with a pat and a chuckle. Now I have no clue what anything I feel, say or do means to anyone. But I sure have picked up one too many triggers that put me at arms length from people. I hope this all fades away because right now it is weird to like people but not trust them.

  • How could a wife guy cheat? ‘I think the over-the-top proclamations of love, the whole muse schtick (that’s a rail-against-patriarchy essay for another day) is just an invitation for other women to do the pick me dance. Knock that muse off her pedestal and win some of the glory.’

    I’m confused by this statement.
    I’m sure CL didn’t mean it this way, because it’s at odds with everything else in this blog – but it kind of sounds like they cheated because some OW wannabe was such a good ‘pick me’ dancer?
    I’m the first to deplore OW selfish trash, and I agree that those with more opportunity are often more likely to cheat…..
    But …. am I misunderstanding this?
    Can wife guys not say ‘no’ to tarts wanting to be with them in an inappropriate way -regardless of their ability to tempt- when they are committed to someone else?

      • Ok thx Susie,
        I do agree with ‘- if it’s too good to be true it probably is!’

        Big for all to witness, wild proclamations love….. I’m not a big believer in that anymore!

    • My take is that she was saying the showing off their wives is designed to arouse competitive feelings in the kind of infantile sort of mate poacher who would be OW material. These types are insecure and envious by nature, so they are out to prove they are “hotter.” Therefore a guy with over the top displays of devotion to his wife makes them envious and sparks their desire to mate poach. So they dance like their feet are on fire in order to “steal” from women they envy. Wife guy then laps her self-humiliation up and cheats, which was his intention all along.

      • Hmm, interesting theory – personally I think a lot of them are just under developed emotionally vacant assholes who put on a good show, don’t know the meaning of true love, get caught up in the moment and act impulsively.
        Showy, entitled 12 yr olds.

  • There are a couple people in my life whose husbands give me “wife guy” vibes.

    One husband is huge on the lovey-dovey talk, telling her she’s beautiful, and gives gifts she is able to show off. But he has no substance; he doesn’t support her ideas or her professional goals … it’s like being told you’re beautiful by someone who likes five-star-hotel-room decor over a home decorated tastefully and warmly according to one’s own spending priorities, personality, mementos of life-lived, passions, etc. The two of them have a very photogenic life.

    The other is a couple I know less well but every. single. time. I’ve hung out with them, he will make a comment like, “Yes, that’s just like Debbie, she’s such a compassionate kind person. I’m the luckiest guy ever,” when she does something like get up to get a paper towel to clean her kid’s spill instead of, I don’t know, doing it with her sleeve or the drapes. It always feels off, disproportionate to whatever was going on that seemed to prompt it, and just plain performative.

    I hope the shoe never drops for either friend, but I won’t be surprised if it does.

    I’ve spent a lot of time buying into that if I get a compliment, and it feels weird, it’s my low self-esteem and I should just learn to take a compliment. But now, knowing my own inherent worth and knowing how I’ve worked to grow myself as a person, I differentiate from a genuine, appropriate compliment that I feel good trying to let in, versus genericm coin-in-the-meter maintenance compliments like “beautiful” or “smart” etc from people who really should know me better by now, and who are actually giving me signals that they don’t want to/can’t know me with any depth, hence cannot be devoted or committed to anything but a surface idea of me.

  • Yep, my ex was a wife guy. Not with the SM public declarations or anything, neither of us were much for that, but holy shit did he live playing the devoted and loving husband. So much so that women would just tell me how lucky I was and how much they wanted a husband like mine, and I believed it and agreed. What a bunch of bullshit. I’m guessing he’s playing the same role of devoted bf to sparkle puss now. In fact, I know he is, but I know he’s also looking to keep backups. It makes me think he did the same thing the entire time we were together. Ugh, I want to vomit just thinking about him.

  • I had a wife guy. In public, he doted on me. Always checking how I was, getting me drinks, opening doors, fancy gifts, declarations of love. In private, I was just a wife appliance. My daughter will say to this day that she always thought I would be the one that would leave but she, like everyone else, saw all his overt impression management and didn’t see the things he would do and say when no one was around that would make me angry at him. Our friends and family would always remark about how much he loved me so I believed them. It was a real mind fuck.

  • My FW’s idea of being a wife guy was hypocritically tossing that awful “happy wife, happy life” crumb, which he actually said to flatter himself when he did the minimum of husbandly tasks. Also he was big on complimenting me on my looks (only on my looks) while sneering me for being “boring” behind my back because I wasn’t a sloppy, attention whoring alcoholic like the OW.

    A wife guy is just a narc congratulating himself for having a trophy wife, one who is over the moon pleased with himself as a husband because he doesn’t beat her and make her meekly follow several steps behind him when they are out together.
    So wife guys, have a ????, ya bitches.

  • I was married to a man who treated me like an annoying child or pesky pet. I was routinely dismissed, and kept on side with random acts of extreme kindness and passive aggressive cruelty. Cycle of abuse, anyone! When I worked as a lawyer in clinical negligence, I was anxious about a medical accident when I saw a doctor or had a jab. When I worked in complex road traffic accident law, I was anxious every time I was a passenger in a car (imagine that with FW’s rage driving). When I hear the family lawyers in the office chat and when I read here and in the media more widely, I know why I will stay single for the rest of my life. I’ve been married twice. Interestingly, with hindsight, I can see that the fact that I had been married before gave the ex a justification for his abuse. My value was low from the outset, I was damaged, I was the common denominator. Two men found me so unbearable that the first came out as gay and the second cheated long term with his exgf plus others that I don’t know about fully but suspect. Of course, in part that’s what I think about myself. But I read and learn and go to therapy. And I care about myself enough now not to take risks with my precious being. There are so very many dangerous predators about, looking for the vulnerability that they can exploit. The ‘wife guy’ types make me feel very, very anxious.

  • I haven’t read about any of these losers so I’m just spitballing here based on what CL has written. But the “wife guys” thing strikes me as extended public-facing love bombing. And behind the scenes, the devaluation is probably going on and whoops—here comes the discard.

  • As someone who has watched the Try Guys for years, I was horrified when I saw the news, but a split second later it all made sense. While the other guys always referred to their partners by their first names (as long as their partners were ok with their names being known online by millions – totally valid to not want that publicity), Fulmer always referred to his partner as “my wife.” He would always smile when he said it and as a viewer you’d think “aww he loves her and smiles when he thinks of her” but now it’s like “oh he’s smiling at whipping out the depersonalized status symbol that gets him attention online.” I feel so sad for Ariel. I hope she gets away from him and makes some peace in a life of her own.

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