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Every Bit of Lousy Reconciliation Advice

shrinkHey Amazon chumps! You know who you are — sort of person who responds to a crisis with research. How many reconciliation books did you buy? Is “When Good People Cheat” still gathering dust on your shelf?

I have a Friday Challenge for you. Tell me what unicorn messages you got from the existing infidelity literature. Did you try any “affair proofing” programs and what was the outcome?

What were your feelings when you read these books? Hope? A nagging feeling that this was chump-blaming bullshit? Solace? A mixture of valid relationship advice, but directed to the wrong audience?

I’m doing some crowd sourcing here. I’m pretty sure this is one of the only places that doesn’t ask chumps what you did to drive cheaters to cheat on you. Or ask you to “own” your part in not meeting their needs. Or doesn’t take the sad, broken sausage approach to “waywards.”

But please give me your own impressions. Bogus quotes, links, and resources if you can.


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  • Maybe I’m the exception to the rule… on DDay I knew I was out. After 26 years I didn’t care about sunk costs. As far as I was concerned his actions crossed every boundary and I knew I was out and there was no way I’d consider continuing a relationship with a person who had no respect for me. I hadn’t found this site or book but knew it wasn’t acceptable to me. I did find this resource fairly quickly and it reinforced my gut feelings and helped immensely.
    Every day this site lifts me up and I’m so glad I didn’t dance or try to hold onto a fantasy of what “should” happen when your SO betrays you so completely. This site reinforced that it wasn’t about me and I wasn’t obligated to fight to continue the abuse I endured. That I wasn’t to blame (which I knew in my heart but was hard to articulate in the climate of “owning your part”). That I did the right thing ending it immediately. Thanks Chump Lady 👍❤️

    • Ditto for me, including the part about being grateful for finding CL quickly after D-Day (within the first week, in my case).

      A few days before D-Day, when, out of the blue, he said he wanted a separation, he suggested couples therapy. He’d gotten three names from his therapist but then claimed that all three had no availability. Of course, he was probably lying, but this is one time his lie benefitted me. I dodged the reconciliation bullet.

      • I should add here that during this three-day separation/limbo, I, Spinach, still clueless about the affair, sent my then-husband an Esther Perel article/video.🤦🏻‍♀️

        • I sent an Esther Perel video to FW too. I figure that when we first get chumped, we are still blaming ourselves and when we see ol’ Esther in a Ted Talk, it makes her seem like she knows more and can fix things…. even if it means we have to take the blame (we’re blaming ourselves at that point anyway). I’ll bet many of us did that.

          Thankfully FW left me high and dry, so I didn’t have a chance to reconcile in any way. I still read plenty of useless books though.

          <> There was one book (I can’t remember which) written by a woman who was chumped and spends the whole book giving advice about how to get through it. But there’s a twist… The last chapter she suddenly reveals that when she was in her 20s, she was an AP. And when the Cheater left his wife for her, the wife committed suicide. And she didn’t care. But now of course, she’s been chumped herself and has new found empathy. That book went right in the trash and I’m still horrified to think about it.

          • That’s a personality disorder. A whole book written about how hard it was for her and poor her and everybody feel sorry for her, and oh by the way, she did this to another woman and that lady killed herself but who cares, let’s get back to her pain.

            • My ex and the ho-worker had a coworker (all in the same department) that committed suicide because HER married boyfriend did not leave his wife for her (as my ex had left me)! So much for happily ever after.

            • Does anyone remember the title? It sounds like it should be studied for science and published in a compendium: “Proxy Killer: The Mind of the Other Woman.”

          • FW emailed Esther Perel’s Ted Talk to me a week ot two after D Day. At the time I didn’t know who EP was, but luckily I had found Chump Lady by then. I googled something like ‘Chump Lady opinion of Esther Perel’ hoping to find a scathing rebuke to the nonsense spouted by EP. CL did not disappoint. I wanted to forward a CL blog pointing out how ridiculous EP is to FW. Fortunately, I’d learned enough from this group by then to know that silence was the best response. Thank God for CL & CN!

          • …wow that’s a huge swing and a miss.

            That honestly smacks of “I was strong enough to get through this…

            Unlike this one woman I knew who clearly couldn’t handle it…”

    • Same here. I did make some effort to drag him to counseling but I already knew it was over. He was pissed off i didn’t dance and proceeded to show me the back of his ass to try to bully me into rug sweeping. Conflict avoidant baby couldn’t be uncomfortable, and his phony image was supremely important to him.

      Ironically when I told him I wanted out he went into panic mode. He was fine being an asshole until he realized I was going to dump him.

      • Kim, your story just reminded me of the FW XW, and how in my pick-me dancing (it actually lasted about 4-6 months beyond the almost two weeks she stayed w/me and the kids in our house, before shacking up literally a half mile down the road w/her then current boss in a relatively brand new, high-end apartment in our little New England village) I got her to go to a marriage counselor.

        A female one, to make her feel less intimidated. Yeah, now I realize I could’ve gone w/any sexual orientation for a MC, or even an alien species for all the good it would have done me. Twu wuv can’t be denied!🤢🤮

        I think the recommendation that this was one of the top marriage counseling groups in our area was fairly true, as before we even met the counselor, they had us fill out questionnaires.

        Either the questionnaire touched on it or the counselor did first thing in talking to us, but the question was asked upfront before counseling commenced whether either partner was interested in saving the relationship. I said yes, and she said no. Big surprise, right?

        So the MC tried to point out stereotypical things I might have done that caused my FW XW to want to leave me. Maybe I wasn’t helping out w/the cooking. No, once I was no longer earning us a good living as a pharmacist, and providing her some status I guess as my wife, the FW XW stopped cooking for us as a family.

        So I had to tell the MC that no, for the last couple of years, I had been getting the groceries to make the FW XW happy, and doing minor cooking like I always did for myself and the kids if needed (I make no claim to being a good cook. The FW XW was an excellent cook, but she had taken herself out of the cooking equation unless we were having company).

        This confused or at least gave pause to the MC. I wasn’t doing the traditional bad husband act. I lacked in many things as a husband, I know, but she was having a harder time than expected to figure out what those things might be. This gave me a small bit of pride, and I noticed the FW XW squirming a little at this hiccup in what was supposed to be our tale, and specifically of my ineptitude.

        I think the MC came to realize that I was not the normal shitty husband (not perfect, but not shitty), but that my FW XW might be an entitled asshole to at least a certain degree.

        Because she ended up admonishing the FW XW by saying that marriage is hard and that nobody, man or woman, is good at mind-reading, and that it’s detrimental for someone to expect that from their partner. She was looking right at the FW XW.

        She said you have to tell your partner clearly at least two and preferably three times what you expect from them. And if after that second or third time you don’t get any acceptable response to what you’ve said, then you can move forward w/what you’ve determined to be your plan of action. Because you can honestly say you tried to communicate your needs to your partner in an open manner.

        I have since added to her idea that you should also let the partner (this can be anyone you have a relationship w/, from coworker to friend and on up. This part of advice was from the MC) know if the way you answer the request matters to them, too. Because I can see this upsetting some people who also assume you will only do it the way they envision it, and will anger them if you don’t.

        You know. Extra special torture for the person being asked to do something that’s probably hard for them to achieve already. But at least you’d know this upfront.

        So, the MC was asking us both to remember to work together in a relationship to smooth things out, and not to get angry w/each other when one partner doesn’t correctly anticipate what the other wants. Basically, try to be relatively transparent and helpful towards your partner.

        Which, at that point, the FW XW had no interest in being helpful towards me in our relationship, and she had always had trouble being transparent w/me. At that point, the latter was partly because, in her twisted mind, I think, I was abusing her because I wasn’t doing exactly what she wanted. I was making things unnecessarily difficult for her by burning out in pharmacy, and losing us our money flow and status.

        Poor sad sausage. I literally drove her into the arms of her married, rich, older boss. His wife was in her way, too. That bitch.🙄 Thank God her boss had been most likely fucking around on his STBXW for at least twenty years, so he had devalued her probably all he could, and had no problem leaving her behind in a dual exit-affair.

        Yeah, this brings us around to “trust that they suck!” And may they and all cheaters fuck themselves to death w/a sharp instrument. Such complete assholes.😡

        Kim, I’m so sorry you had to deal w/such an asshole for an XH, who devalued you because of his own sense of entitlement. You’re so much better off w/out him. Just like the rest of us. I hope you’re finding peace and joy for yourself and your family this weekend.

        • I can relate to your story. I had a few people (now ex friends) really try to figure out why I deserved everything he did. They asked if I ever cooked for him. Well, I got up early with him to make him breakfast before work, pack his lunch, and I cooked dinner every night. I got asked about the housework, well I did all of it. They brought up that i wasn’t working. Well, i had been working 40 to 60 hours a week in a warehouse but I couldn’t do that and also be his full time housewife with my schizophrenia diagnosis. It was too much for me with all the meds and I was constantly ill. “Oh….” Was all I got in response to that.

          Then they like to bring up sex. Did I understand men like sex? They think it’s their trump card. Well, I was very unfulfilled sexually because I’d been dealing with his erectile dysfunction for over a decade. Then i get “aha! Then how was he cheating on you?!” He was taking viagra daily. I found the empty packages. It was such a gross experience, watching people try so hard to come up with reasons why his actions were my fault.

    • You saved yourself a world of pain and yet further sunk costs! How is it that when such terms as ”owning your role in the relationship breakdown” never refers to ”I own that I have been cheated on and so now I’m leaving.” Oh dear no. It is ONLY ”your role” to fix the problem, to be nicer, more understanding, whatever. Weird.

      • Right, and the subtle 😉 differences between chumps blaming cheaters for wreaking havoc in our lives and causing immense emotional pain and health/financial/social consequences vs. cheaters blaming chumps for their infidelity, unhappiness and abuse. Holding perpetrators accountable is not the same as victim blaming. Just don’t try explaining that to a cheater or a marriage counselor! If you find yourself trying to make a case along these lines, to yourself or anyone else, it’s time to LACGAL.

    • Bravo, Rollerskater! I’m responding mostly to remind the CN that adding a post-it note with the chumplady’s website address to the inside cover of every RIC book in your local library may help a LOT of fellow chumps. I have sold a few I purchased during my Amazon queen phase, and included the post-it note in each.

    • I was in the exact same position. Cheating was my one inviolable boundary and he knew it. DDay was a Friday and I went away for the weekend with my mom and cried for 36 hours. The entire time it wasn’t a question of what came next it was oh my god, this is overwhelming: I’m getting a divorce. Fortunately, within a week, I found LACGAL, the Facebook group, and the original page here. It all reinforced everything I felt and I was shocked at how much Tracy “knew” my FW. He was (and is) so textbook. What he has done is the ultimate in disrespect and I will never show my daughter that it’s okay to stay with someone who abuses you like this. As things have gone on I’ve discovered the extensive financial abuse and in retrospect, I see all the ginormous red flags I ignored or didn’t notice. I knew things weren’t great but I honestly thought it was a rough patch. A 7 year rough patch. I’m uncertain about a lot of things for my future but I know 100% this is the right path for me and that the support I’ve gotten here and through the book were exactly what I needed.

  • I took a few books out if the library. The advice didn’t sit well. FW wasn’t acting remorseful, though he was endlessly saying he was. The books did not address what to do if it seems like the cheater isn’t genuinely sorry. The RIC falsely assumes cheaters are remorseful and do love their spouses. If you start from a faulty assumption, everything that follows is going to be a crock.

    They blame the chump for the simple reason that cheaters refuse to accept blame, but chumps, being chumps, will. Without somebody making a concession of some sort, they can’t claim they “saved” the relationship. So it’s on the chump to change, not the cheater. What they don’t tell you is that even if you pretzel yourself into an even more bizarre position, it won’t stop the FW from cheating. I’m convinced they know this, too. They would have to have seen it in operation from experience with patients. So they lie, because otherwise, they are out of a job.

    • They do all make that assumption. My ex point blank told me he hated me, had never cared about me, and had fantasized about how to kill Mr for years.

      People STILL were like “well obviously he loves you…” excuse me? How the fuck is that obvious?! It seems really obvious that he does not. But I was treated like a stupid child by nearly everyone for not thinking he loved me. It was so bizarre. Really lowered my opinion of humanity. I now think the average adult is so unbelievably stupid that it’s a miracle they survived to adulthood. Strangely (and sadly) enough, that belief makes it much easier to deal with the public in general.

      • I am so sorry I laughed but your idea about the average adult is about perfect. It takes about an hour on the internet to see them.
        In my brother’s case(he and his kids were abandoned) he never tried to fix anything. She was smoke in the wind and he was one pissed off person. He got full custody of his children and never looked back.
        You don’t know what strengths you have until you are blindsided by this but this decent, loving man found his immediately. He was the frog in the pot because for years she was anything but a wife and mother on the greeting cards.

      • Mine told me he never loved me and I believed him, nothing to work with on that!

        • Is there a secret script that cheaters have? Why do they all say that AND claim it is because we Chumps are lazy, judgmental, don’t add enough spices to our marinaras, etc.?

          • Because they have a lego where their heart should be.

            They love and respect no one, certainly not the next victim.

        • Yeah, on DDay he told me he hadn’t loved me in years, hadn’t found me attractive in years, wasn’t interested in working on our relationship (this was before the big 7-years-cheating reveal), and was DONE. The entire conversation was about HIS HAPPINESS and how he deserved to be HAPPY. It was an endless litany of his complaints about not being happy and a mishmash of why he should be. No reflection on me or our daughter, naturally. Then the big finale: he’s been cheating for 7 years. The flourish on his s#it sundae to me. Even if I had been inclined toward the Wreckonciliation Industrial Complex, he didn’t give me anything to work with. He was DONE and definitely didn’t want to be with me. (I wasn’t so inclined, so it hardly mattered.)

      • “I now think the average adult is so unbelievably stupid that it’s a miracle they survived to adulthood.”

        I’m right there with you.

      • They are so cold hearted. I got the “I never respected you” and “you’re so lazy like your father” BS (why the hell he brought my PhD dad into the conversation was beyond me, especially as HoWorker/Wife and his father are both PhDs). As if I hadn’t figured that out, Asshat. I didn’t get the murder fantasy admission, although I’m sure he did.

        I had so many people tell me “I bet he regrets his choice”, “I bet he’s so sad”, “He’ll be really upset when he realizes he lost you”, and I remember thinking every single time, NOPE. He has no reflective abilivity whatsoever. He doesn’t regret anything. He’s like Homer Simpson and he keeps going for the donut in the eletric wires, getting electrocuted every damn time. He doesn’t care. Short term gratification trumps all. Kicking the reality can as far down the road as he possibly can, usually with no consequences.

        • And really, it doesn’t matter if the cheater ‘realizes he’s lost you’ Who tf cares at that point? So, they cheat and deceive for years, the truth comes out, chump serves consequences (and is understandably mad as hell). The way I feel, is that they had their chance! Once we are gone, never mind with all the I’m sads, and the I can’t believe I’ve lost you’s!!

      • Came to the same conclusion. I work with the public, in one of the most expensive areas in the country. People with advanced degrees, great jobs, you have to make a lot of money to live here and pay taxes, and if these are the creme de la creme, we are in serious jeopardy as a country.

      • The lifetime incidence of mental illness is 48% and THAT may be a major underestimate due to some not seeking treatment. Whenever people try to get me to buy lies that undermine my mental health, I remind myself they might currently be part of the 48+%! Of course, I’m going to make myself mentally unhealthy thinking the way they think if they’re unhealthy! Why should the opinion of a potentially unhealthy mere human be more important than my well-being? This is not meant to contribute to stigma. I do believe holding false beliefs can be a big contributor to mental illness and those beliefs often happened by buying into lies from other people.

  • Trying to get my ex to work through the 5 love languages to give each other what we needed is just hilarious (and futile) looking back. The first comment on any of those books/programs should be “is your spouse even remotely interested in doing anything to improve your marriage? No? It’s just you then? Then don’t buy this damn book & save your money for a lawyer!” Identifying my “love language” to my ex husband just gave him ammo on how NOT to treat me when he was angry at me or in the throes of an affair.

    • Alternatively FW swallows the book hook, line and sinker and declares he needs words of affirmation.

      • And mine read approx 2 chapters and then weaponized it as his excuse for the marriage ending, “I guess communication was the problem.” Yes it was asshat and bc you could not communicate with your wife you found it online with sex workers. Way to sugar coat the truth with my efforts to work on our marriage.

    • My FWs counselor fed her bs about the love languages that she immediately weaponized. I can’t even stand to hear the phrase now.

    • The “love languages” author has no therapeutic credentials whatsoever. None. Zero. Zip. He was a Baptist preacher in North Carolina.

      • It’s worse! His degree is in adult education. I confess to being traumatized by that book as well.

    • Yep!!!! We did the online quiz for the five love languages years before I caught him on a date with the Newly Divorced Whore/now wifey. He used the info that he knew about me and purposely withheld my “love languages”! Just like you said, it gave him ammo on how NOT to treat me. And during that time, I was doing my best to nurture his “love languages”. And then after d-day, when I brought up the “love languages”, he said he thought my “love languages” were totally different than what they were. LIAR!!!!!!!!! What garbage it all is when you are with a disordered person. He also weaponized another book we both read: “Love and Respect: The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Desperately Needs”. In the Divorce Letter he said I didn’t respect him, because I didn’t trust him. He felt sooooo disrespected by me. Well, I don’t trust someone who lies constantly. I don’t trust someone who goes out on a date with a Newly Divorced Whore. I don’t trust someone who has a secret sexual basement. And I most certainly don’t respect someone with this type of character! He tried his best to blame me for his cheating and lying. But thanks to Chump Lady and Chump Nation, I saw the light and realized he was 100% to blame for his adultery, lies, porn, strippers and everything else I don’t know about.

      • I have heard way too many horror stories involving “Love and Respect” making abusers feel validated.

    • I recently learned that the idea of “5 love languages” was invented by Gary Chapman, who was a pastor. While he earned a PhD in adult education from a Baptist theological seminary, he has never been credentialed in therapy or counseling. His ideas are not science-based. It seems he conferred upon himself the title and honor of relationship expert, basing his ideas on anecdotes from his time spent in pastoral counseling.

      Chapman’s book grew, in faith communities, into an entire series of versions for different demographics (5 LL for Teens, for the office, etc), book studies, programs, sound bites, and thought-terminating clichés. Its basic premise seems to have expanded into the broader secular zeitgeist without much critical examination.

      At best, The 5 LL are simplistic and reductive. At worst, they’re a bludgeon of abuse.

      Countless men subject their wives to endless sexual coercion , whining but “my love language is physical touch and closeness!”

      Partners might verbally abuse each other and dismiss it by saying, “Words of affirmation are just not my love language.”

      Partners might exploit the physical or emotional labor of the other with weaponized incompetence, justifying it with the mistaken belief that “acts of service” are their partner’s love language (but not theirs, so they are off the hook.)

      It’s telling that Chapman’s ways of expressing love don’t include empathy, fidelity, honesty, integrity, or respect.

      When FW and I were in (actual) therapy with a (certified) therapist, FW claimed that he’d been doing all the love languages, so that made him a good guy. (He refused to address the ongoing affair with ho-worker.) I was appalled when I realized that narcissists and other disordered people can absolutely, as part of their cycle of abuse, use affirming words, quality time, gifts, acts of service, and physical touch. There’s nothing LOVING about it – it’s all manipulation!

      I’m so grateful for this community where we can all share stories about the long & painful process of deconstructing our dysfunctional marriages/FOOs and all of the systems that uphold the abuse.

  • Our marriage counselor recommended “After the Affair,” which I stupidly read and FW did not (He was busy “processing the loss” of his AP, who he was still in contact with on a second phone line and what’s app). I looked up the Gottman Institute, blaming myself for his unhappiness (which he’d never bothered to mention until the sex worker habit was uncovered). Our MC told us that if we did the work, our marriage would be stronger and more rewarding. After he left therapy mid-session, because he was called out for driving by her apartment and downloading her drug arrest video to our family icloud, the MC told me that I needed to get out of my marriage because I had nothing to work with. It was soul crushing–I’d bet my heart on a reconciliation, thinking the decades I’d spent with FW actually meant something. I was wrong.

    • I was a daily on the Gottman Institute website. Watching the videos, sending them to him. Such a joke. I had tried “Love Languages” too. The only thing he ever sent me was an Ester Perel video and told me that it was the closest thing to how he felt. Eight months of pick me dancing while he psychologically abused me until I had enough. Found Chump Lady two months after I kicked him out. Her book, “Cheating in a Nutshell” and “Empaths and Narcissists” were the jungle vines to pull me out of the quicksand of hell I was in. Thank-you CL.

    • My marriage counselor told me 1:1 that I had nothing to work with after about a year of sessions. And she recommended working on my picker. “We need to be thoughtful about who we rely on and invest in.” It meant so much to have her be straightforward with me like that.

      • Mine called my husband a straight up narcissist and told me to run like my ass was on fire. She detested him on sight. Once they start cheating the marriage is over. Someone that truly loves you doesn’t hurt and humiliate you that way. It’s inconceivable to some how think you can have a stronger marriage after someone screws you over like that.

        • I had a therapist like that. It was the most shocking message I’d ever received— but she was spot on. It took a few more months to put down the hopeium pipe🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

  • I did the research – in spades! I bought and read at least ten books. One of them even recommended that I get my cheater to read it also. He said he did, but if so, it sure didn’t stick. I remember returning at least a couple of books when I got to a chapter that blamed me. I wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t deserve the treatment I received and I never fell into that trap. Everyone who knew us as a couple always gushed about how lucky I was and how totally besotted he was with me – hah! What do you say when people say stuff like that? He liked putting on a show.

    • In the middle of the most hellish period, I was a work party at which a woman discovered who I was married to, and gushed, “You’re married to [X]? You’re SO lucky!” I think I snapped something like “Maybe you’d like to be married to him.” And later, one day at work after I learned she’d been cheated on, I took her aside and said, “Look, of all people, you should know that what a marriage partner looks like from the outside might not reflect the truth of it.”

      Now I’m convinced that when I hear a person gush about “how lucky” someone is in their marriage partner it’s a red flag warning.

      • Yes! I used to wonder what was wrong with people who saw that as a red flag. Like, what? People can’t be happy? Now I get it. My ex always knew how to say the right thing, do the right thing publicly. There were times when his private actions didn’t line up and if question it but he’d cry stress and I have empathy so… But yeah, it was weird. It was too much.

      • Oh yes, I got that all the time, even from people who had just met him. I now know it as a red flag, too. It means the person is doing some heavy duty image management in order to create that impression.

        Add to that how insulting it is and it’s become a pet peeve of mine. It’s like they are saying you’re a loser, so you’re lucky to have somebody they consider good. People should never say that. My response was often; “You mean we aren’t both lucky to have each other?” They would get flustered by that, because it points out how passive aggressive such a statement really is. I guess they didn’t think he was lucky to have somebody who challenged their bullshit. FW, otoh, would never disagree with people and ingratitated himself, so they thought he was wonderful. Most people aren’t interested in other people’s values and character, they just want somebody to validate them. Sad, but true.

        • I honestly never thought of how insulting it is but you’re right. I’ve also never even thought to say that to anyone.

        • What’s validating is reading your comment, OHFFS! You’re in my head!! This was my exact experience with X. Thank you for sharing.

        • I heard “how lucky I was” many times.
          You’re right, it’s an insult, it’s implying that I’m beneath Mr. Personality.
          As if I’m not special but he sure is a prize.

          What these people don’t realize is they’re being conned. Behind closed doors he’s nothing like the person he portrays.
          To outsiders he’s wholesome, articulate, personable, funny, just an all around great guy.
          Like a Jekyll and Hyde, behind closed doors he’s cruel, condescending, petty, vindictive and rude.

      • Adelante – I heard the same about my X many, many times. People would tell me how “lucky” I was to be married to such a “good guy”. I heard it over and over again. Maybe that’s why so many of them disappeared from my life after finding out X was fucking my friend. Maybe they were embarrassed and mortified about their own inaccurate deductions. Me too, ghost friends, me too.

    • “He liked putting on a show.” Amen!!!! I got the same comments. How lucky I was. How we were the perfect couple. Barf! It was all an act on his part. He played it up big when others were around. Case in point: Head off to church. I open my own car door, get inside and close the door. Get to church and open the door myself, close the door myself. Now church is done, and we head outside to go home. Of course everyone else is around to watch him, so of course he now opens the car door for me and then closes the door once I’m inside. It’s all a big show and he’s the star of his own show. Then we get home and of course he doesn’t open the car door for me. He proceeds to go in the house and reheat the delicious homemade pizza that I always made every single, fucking Saturday night. While he’s stuffing his face, I’m making our kids lunch and of course I eat last. This scenario played out for years and years. Who they are in public are NOT who they are in private.

      • Mine did the same car door thing.
        The comments I got were how do you put up with him? He’s so full of himself. My reply was in one ear out the other. They’d say he says you’re a saint. That’s me 🤦🏼‍♀️ It was all part of his M.O.

        • Thse comments about “you’re so lucky” really got me thinking. People would so eyimes say that to me, because my ex was very good-looking. But he also put on a show – it was quickly clear he was not the spontaneous gift-giving or surprise giving type, but gave an expensive gift at the start and had a history of giving chocolates/gifts to female staff who had helped him (I knew of two occasions where he gave a gift to a receptionist, and one to a nurse). He loved to impress and to give compliments to women about how easy they were to talk to etc, to get them thinking how nice he was.

          It was the sake dance at the start of every new interaction with new women, then it withers away to little emotional depth and little conversation. He was so different at the start vs at the end.

    • Ha!Mine put on a show too! People told me how lucky I was too. I used to say to him, “ I’m lucky? I suck a lot of d*** and am a great wife, I made my own luck.” Now I know they said that because they thought he was a nice guy. He wasn’t nice. I made him look good.

    • I would tell people at work all the thoughtful things he did for me. Everyone was convinced he was the last good one. They were all half in love with him, themselves. The women lamented that their husbands never did those thoughtful things. Now I know it was all window dressing to hide the manipulation and keep me from looking too closely at what was happening around me. In future I’ll take straightforward communication over meaningless declarations and gifts, thanks.

  • For years, I didn’t know my spouse was cheating. I knew something was terribly wrong – but I asked him if he’d found someone else and he bold face lied to me. I chose to trust he was telling me the truth and after looking up EVERYTHING, including marriage counseling – settled on this gem: It claimed marriage counseling HURT your marriage – we came away from our sessions angry and crying so that seemed like a legit conclusion. When we were supposed to read books together or listen to audio tapes etc, my husband either fell asleep or didn’t do the assignments at all. Laura Doyle claimed that her program was all about fixing YOU – and that, in turn, would fix your relationship (her book actually claimed that most divorces are caused by the wife). It was the life line I needed – the illusion of FULL control. Do these 6 intimacy skills and you get to keep your intact marriage. No effort required on the part of your spouse – you can fix your marriage and family all by yourself – just be sure not to tell your husband what you’re doing. Worst advice is that you need to keep sleeping with him even if he’s sleeping with someone else. When I was in the program, you were able to gain support from other women doing the same thing, and I remember a nurse in the forum telling the women sleeping with someone who isn’t being faithful is a health risk. I was grateful I didn’t have that tension – boy, was I wrong.

    • Our marriage was in trouble for years, and I read every single marriage book I could get. He never worked on himself but just heaped the shame on me. He remained perpetually unhappy, which should have been a sign that his expectations of marriage were unreasonable and that his eyes were going to rove sooner or later. We separated twice, and the second time he went far away, actually to the area of the country where a previous girlfriend lived that he idolized.

      It was a huge revelation when I realized my marriage was not mine to fix. Sure, I had issues, but none of them were marriage-breaking. His issues were.

      • Yup, it was a mess for YEARS, but I was sure that improvement was around the next corner. I thought if he would just UNDERSTAND how hurtful his words/actions were, he would do better so I tried to explain in every possible way.

        He was dead before I realized that he understood, in fact, he liked keeping me precisely where I was…accepting crumbs. 2 years after he died, I learned enough to realize that he had cheated all along.

        • That was me, too, grasping for every possible way to express how hurtful everything he was doing was to me, thinking that there had to be SOME way of getting through so he would stop. Well, there’s no magic epiphany to be had, of course. “It’s not that they don’t see. They just don’t care.”

          • Yep! I remember trying to explain to him why outright insults hurt me. And just thinking, how does he not understand this?! He would do this thing right before big events where he would get right up in my face, like an inch away from me, and study me and then rip me apart by pointing out every flaw he could find. “Two of your eyelashes are tangled!” cue the look of disgust. “I can see the pores on your nose!” another look of disgust.

            It got to the point where I would literally shove him away from me and demand he stop. He would then get all weepy, “I just don’t want you to embarrass yourself in public.” And I’d be like, if someone gets in my face to study the pores on my nose, I’ll fucking punch them. Why would anyone do that? Why are YOU doing it?

            Part of me is like, he knew exactly what he was doing, he was just being cruel. But I actually found some notes he had been taking when I had to go through all his garbage he left behind. He had a list of how to treat me that included things like, “Don’t call her fat.” and “Don’t insult her looks.” really basic things that he apparently needed reminders of to act like a normal human. This was full pages of notes on just basic human decency that he needed to write down to… I guess “pass” as human? I’m not in any position to diagnose anybody but I genuinely think he really is a psychopath and just barely human. He’s missing the most important parts of being a human.

        • I was living in utter denial and hopium.

          The two 60-something attorneys were long-term friends who liked to toast each other after court. I was sold on mine when he told me that and when he explained exactly what that attorney did every…single…time. Apparently that attorney promised the moon and threw dirt everywhere at first, and then he would get tired of the drama if he wasn’t getting anywhere and get it done.

          So we got past the ugly part, and then that attorney did a tell-all with mine when my ex was driving him crazy, and yes, the fraction that I knew was just the tip of the iceberg.

          My ex is still alive, but ick. Not someone that you want at all close to you.

      • I did that too! Read all the marriage counselling books, trying to fix things, couldn’t figure out what was wrong. Near the end, nothing I did was good enough. He was always grumpy.

    • I didn’t come across Laura Doyle until recently when I colleague quit her job to become one of her counsellors. I looked it up and was completely horrified. Even Ester Perel is better than this nonsense. It all seems to boil down to you being the abusive one and if you just abandon your needs and fawn incessantly over FW, you will earn his respect. I have been searching this site to see if Chump Lady has written about her and there is nothing. I wanted to bring it up but you have done it for me.

      • That started to be my tip off that something was “off” with the program. I started posting about my “wins” in the forum and suddenly they were asking me to come clean with my husband about the cause of the big change in our relationship and ask for $10k to become a “coach”. I was like ummmmm… my marriage is not out of the woods yet, why on earth would I be qualified to coach anyone else?

      • Drop CL some links – this would make a good article! Good grief, what a horrifying person Doyle is. She’s just peddling a repackaged version of all that cringe “when your husband comes home from work greet him in lingerie and with a martini in your hand” stuff from the 1980s.

    • “Most divorces are caused by the wife.” AKA, the wife is usually the one who is being mistreated and ultimately refuses to put up with being treated like crap, as opposed to immolating herself on the marriage pyre like a good little woman!

  • I can’t possibly count them all. Here are a few: Kate Figess, Marriage Helper, Esther Perel (thanks to an ill-informed colleague), and a whole shitload of other web sites about midlife crises kept me breathless on the hamster wheel before I found Chump Lady in a google, and starting reading her column even as I tottered aimlessly through the chump-remake-yourself-into-a-worthy and attractive person phase of life which I am embarrassed to say, lasted much longer than it should have. But, even the chump shaming folks did teach me that I needed to let go of my “wayward” spouse and focus on my own self-growth/improvement plan.

    Something I read from CL along the lines of these mind-fucking freaks actually thinking they are better than us really stuck with me. It was like, the light finally went on and I realized how much I projected my own good nature onto these heartless, cruel people. I actually feared for her and the inevitable agony she would feel when she came “out of limerence” and faced the heartbreak she inflicted on me and our children. Was I ever wrong.

    It was only after entering psychotherapy with a badass, narc specialist that echoed every single thing (and more) that I was getting from CL and George Simon that I began to unravel my codependency and finally start to heal. Here we come, Tuesday.

  • Mine involved his chemical addiction and diagnosed mental health issues as well. I was overly hopeful on those too, not grasping that being sober is more than quitting and that long-term mental illness often doesn’t get better, it gets worse. I was overly optimistic about the whole mess.

    I have local friends who bought into the reconciliation myth as I did, and every one of them is divorced now. Eventually the ex went back into the games and secrets.

    As one of our young adults once said to me, I kept trying to put out a forest fire with a bucket when getting the h*ll out of there was the best possible course of action. Thankfully I did.

    • I like that analogy. My kids told me afterwards they were prepared to cut me out of their lives had I not filed, they didn’t like seeing me so upset all the time and dint want the grands around ex

  • I had forgotten the Gottman article the 4th counselor gave us for homework. He didn’t read it so I found a YouTube video which we watched together with a promise from me we wouldn’t have to talk about it outside the counselor’s office. That was easy since he only lasted two sessions at that office, too. How about a Friday challenge for three “tests” to see if FW gives a sh*t.

  • D-day two years ago. Husband immediately found a program called Affair Recovery so we did that, including a weekend retreat. I read many books. I think I found this site about 6 months in. Still married, we’re doing fine, but I read this site every weekday, first thing in the morning. Not sure what that says about me.

    • You and I have the exact same situation. was my daily pilgrimage. We are still together- but I also read Chumplady every. Single. Day.
      What does that say about us?

      • It’s a weird place to be. I knew something was up when my husband was having his affair (for FIVE years) – but I never had what I considered to be proof (now I realize I had plenty of proof to take action). Then everything blew up. Husband took the lead on reconciliation work. Things really are better now. But….I always wonder how long this will last. So I keep coming here…trying every post on to see if it fits.

        • Well, of course he took the lead. He had to control the narrative and steer you away from any ‘work’ that might lead you to end the marriage.

          • I wouldn’t be so blasé about the fact that my cheater took the lead. There are plenty of stories about cheaters blaming their victims, continuing to obfuscate affair details, and drag their feet when it comes to working on themselves. I did do the work that could have led to ending the marriage – individual counseling and an extremely generous post-nup. I agree that diving immediately into Affair Recovery postponed my individual work, but my husband was supportive of me when I was working on myself and not just our marriage.

            • Not being blasé – this is speaking from experience. Sure, some cheaters are defensive and blameshift. Other cheaters “get out in front” of the situation and take over the “work” – which puts them in the driver’s seat and steers where reconciliation efforts are going. It’s a tactic, just like blaming is a tactic.

              And it’s also a tactic that can be used to obscure what work he ISN’T doing. Look how manfully he’s leaning into reconciliation! Cool, how much work is he doing on fixing his character defects that led him to deceive you for five years (that you know about), and the actual damage he’s done? Is any of this “work” something that isn’t being worked for reconciliation points?

              It’s your choice on whether to forgive him, obviously (and good on you for the post-nup), but don’t give him bitch cookies because his flavor of take-me-back isn’t as obviously hostile as other cheaters.

            • Can you please explain the process of post-up. I want reparations, and he is willing to give anything. I just haven’t started it yet. Do you go to a divorce attorney?

      • It tells me that you are on alert and want to have a backup plan prepared.

      • How discouraging. I hope you find the means to make a choice for you.

    • It says that some small part of your brain is still warning you that things are not, in fact, fine.

      • I think CN can share experiences where they think they are reconciling, when in reality the cheater is working feverishly to set up off-shore accounts and protect their ass-ets. In the meantime the cheater gets to enjoy cake. I sincerely hope the reconciliations above are genuine, but, for the chump, trust has been broken. THAT is nearly impossible to repair.

        • YEP! Mine planned my discard for at least SIX years. That time was used to skillfully paint me as the problem. I thought we were doing great and had a good marriage on a Sunday. That Monday he laughed in my face while telling me he’d been planning to dump me for over six years. I lost all mutual friends. They’d been listening to his made up issues with me for years and were so glad he was finally pursuing his own happiness.

          They don’t change. Niceness during reconciliation is simply manipulation.

    • I suspect it might mean that once your trust is broken, you know it’s possible to be betrayed by someone you had trusted, and that if it happened once, it might happen again. I think that is a completely rational reaction. You may really want it to not happen again, but if it does, you want to know so you can decide if the relationship is acceptable to you. Reading this website helps you envision a path forward if the bottom falls out of your world in the future.

      I had a D-day #2 about 7 years after D-day #1. And that was that. I felt the second chance after D-day #1 was acceptable but not a third chance. My ex was my college sweetheart and first serious boyfriend, and fortunately, we didn’t have kids, so the no-fault divorce we had was about as “easy” as it gets, though painful. We’ve loosely kept in touch over the years (occasional phone calls at first, now occasional emails), and that has actually been useful because rather than making me wistful, it’s clarified for me that although he has some very good qualities, his flaws are deal-breakers for me and I would never want to be with him again. With the perspective I have gained over the years from learning more about myself, about men and women, and about relationships, I came to realize that issues from my family of origin had resulted in a faulty picker. And even though my marriage ended years ago, I’ve learned things from CL and Chump Nation that have continued to help me better understand the world. I don’t agree with 100% of what I read here, but I’d say more than 90% of it resonates with my take on human behavior.

      Bottom line: It’s not surprising–nor wrong–that you’re not fully trusting that your husband. From where I sit, that’s a healthy form of self-protection.

      • 7 years later… that is tough, 20th century. Do you wish that you had divorced him after D-Day #1?

        • Sorry, I mistyped. D-day #2 was 5 years after he began the affair that led to D-day #1, which had been going on for about 18 months before I discovered it. Time between D-day # 1 and #2 was about 3 1/2 years. We were divorced a little over a year after that.

          I’m not sure at this point if my life would have been better if I had divorced him after D-day #1 for a variety of reasons of where I was at that point in my life. Having the certainty after D-day #2 that the first affair was not a one-off allowed me to understand that the first affair was not a terrible lapse in judgment on his part but rather a substantial character flaw and that I could never trust him again. If I could live my life over again, I would not have married him at all. It’s really a shame we don’t get a second chance to live our lives, equipped with the self-knowledge we acquired the first time around!

          • I’m a sap for all of the coulda, woulda, shoulda time traveling movies. FW always laughed at me for that. RED FLAG! He was very comfortable with living a double life. I want to go back to 40 years ago to our first date (set up by a mutual acquaintance) and say to him “This is not what I’m looking for. Something doesn’t seem right” – and end it.

    • Rec,
      If you are still reading, I think that you are probably not feeling fully secure in the relationship. And I don’t blame you. I am glad that you still read daily because I think this site offers so much insight and support and my guess is, you are craving that support for whatever reason. Maybe you are second guessing staying? Or maybe you fully want to stay but are just nervous. Keep reading!!!! And I hope you get to a point where you feel good and secure, whatever that ends up meaning for you.

  • It’s not a resource I can link, but the marriage counselors we found were a husband and wife. The wife met with me privately and told me to dress better and wear the perfume I wear when we make love and to speak in a soft voice to lure FW back to me. Then when we all met for a couples therapy session, they quickly and brazenly established that three out of four people in the room had had affairs. Their wildly happy and amazing marriage was the result of an affair. So, see? It’s not so bad. They normalized the infidelity. Ganging up on the victim was their bizarre style of therapy. Or maybe they were just defensive about their own lack of character in the face of my utter devastation. The fuckery we endure when we’re already at our lowest.

    • “The wife met with me privately and told me to dress better and wear the perfume I wear when we make love and to speak in a soft voice to lure FW back to me.”

      😆 What century do these clowns think we’re living in? That kind of advice is straight out of Ladies Home Journal circa 1953.

      • Were you not supposed to bake some scones as well presented with home made jam 🙂 Sometimes I wonder if we’ve evolved at all!

        • I make killer chocolate chip cookies (his favorite). Still didn’t keep him around! lol

      • Isn’t it all, even if it’s dressed up in trendy pseudo-psych and “self-care” language and rhetoric, or misconstrued as feminist and empowering? Why are virtually all RIC “resources” and narratives I’ve encountered are r heard about here geared towards cisgendered, heteronormative chumped women…? What does this say?

        • RIC is based on the archaic belief that women are nothing with a man, so you better hang on to him at all costs. Also, women are inherently flawed so if he abuses you, it’s your fault. Also, that women somehow control men by “inviting” sexual attraction and abuse.

          It’s a perfect storm to mindfuck women with and make us tap dance for our abusers.

    • Elkay….the counselor can shove her perfume up her arse.

      I’m sorry you had to be part of that complete mindf***.


  • School councillor recommended “Love must be Tough” by James Dobson. While I agree that cheating partners have disrespect for their faithful spouse, Dobson advises the chump to “make” the cheater respect them again by writing them a warning letter and changing their own behaviour to be someone the cheater would like more and respect again. So much chump blame and responsibility for the cheater’s actions. We are constantly bombarded with the ‘personal responsibilty’ narrative, why are cheaters excused from it?

  • RBSR—If you are still reading this site I will take a guess that, somewhere, deep-down, you are unsure…are NOT doing fine……and not heeding the words and wisdom of Tracey and all of us here……

  • Searching online to try to find a term/concept from a podcast I briefly listened to (something about a new kind of trust chumps are supposed to evolve… ring a bell for anyone?), I went down a little bit of an RIC rabbit hole this morning. One dangerous piece of advice came from the Scary Mommy blog, where a chumped woman advocated for reconciliation and described a moment in her own “recovery journey” when her counselor explained that “generally speaking, it takes couples who are committed to working through infidelity two years on average to get to the other side of it”; to which she reacted, “Two years of irregular breathing and body-wracking sobbing? Two years of hurting, of hashing out all these hard feelings and regrets? That was a sobering come-to-Jesus moment for me, and I nearly balked.” Two years of hell is nothing to a chump who has already endured years — maybe decades — of abuse. If we’re promised a unicorn and a pot of gold, if we can just hang in there, ensure and be strong… we can do that. Chumps stand to lose everything. The sunk costs of leaving can be staggering, and it is very difficult to leave your life behind when you have very few resources and even best case face years of uncertainty and struggle.

    Also like many others here have written today, I never could buy what the RIC was selling. I desperately wanted to, so I kept looking for some new approach that felt authentic and palatable and made sense. Of course, I never did because it doesn’t exist. The cognitive dissonance required to swallow that RIC word salad was too great, and I couldn’t get my values and what *I needed* to align with the *reality* of my relationship and life, no matter how much I read, how hard I tried or how much I wanted it.

    • Reading on, I see that Dr. Phil’s advice about learning to trust after betrayal “helped” that chump with her mental gymnastics:
      1. Realize trust comes from knowing you can handle what your spouse does, not in being able to predict what he’s going to do.
      2. Realize the amount you can trust again depends on how strong you are and knowing you can handle your partner’s imperfections.
      Really twisted to tell people that strength and compassion come from enduring abuse, whereas rejecting abuse is weak and selfish.

      • “Realize trust comes from knowing you can handle what your spouse does, not in being able to predict what he’s going to do.”

        It follows then that trust does not mean that you can predict your spouse won’t try to kill you, so you sleep with a gun under your pillow in order to handle it if it happens. Then when he/she is bleeding out on the floor, you can comfort yourself that you “handled” FW’s “imperfections.”

        FFS. That kind of thinking is bananas.

      • Well, those make no sense. The “trust” in #1 and #2 both mean “trust in yourself,” and if you can trust yourself to handle difficult situations and challenges, then why not leave? At least in leaving the only person’s behavior you have to worry about is your own!

      • Ironically, Dr. Phil has a point… I *am* able to trust again in my new relationship precisely because I already demonstrated that I *am* strong and I *can* handle things if I have to—by kicking FW trash to the curb and rocking a new life. (I’d just be a little quicker to pull the trigger if it ever happened again.) After all, I managed to get to the other side of my divorce and recovery OK… So if I got through all that and eventually found meh, what more could anyone else do to me that I can’t handle?

      • It’s been a multi-year journey of healing for me, but some of the best advice I’ve EVER heard in all that time has been this: “Strong people don’t stay.”

        I can’t tell you what a gut punch that was to read. It totally destroyed every unconscious belief I had about fighting for relationships.

        Why should I fight for anything? Why is that MY job? Especially when the other person isn’t making any effort?

        It also rewrote my reality about life in general. Life shouldn’t be hard. It shouldn’t! Sure, challenges happen, but chaos shouldn’t be a normal part of our realities. If it is, something is desperately wrong.

        • Strong people don’t stay. I love that. I think it takes a different kind of endurance to stay with a cheater, but it’s endurance, not strength.

    • Found what I originally went looking for — “open eyed trust.” It is a bit of a shock to see this now and recall just how bad and trapped I felt, to even consider looking at this garbage! The graphics alone make me want to gag, never mind the idiotic, insidious content:

      It’s astonishing, the lengths these con artists go to in order to create such manipulative, elaborate fantasy worlds and theories, complete with worksheets, workshops, exercises and testimonials. ALL bullshit. Obviously there’s a profit to be made.

      IMO any “couples counselor” who offers to help couples heal from infidelity is complicit in abuse.

    • “Two years of hell is nothing to a chump who has already endured years — maybe decades — of abuse. If we’re promised a unicorn and a pot of gold, if we can just hang in there, ensure and be strong… we can do that. Chumps stand to lose everything. The sunk costs of leaving can be staggering, and it is very difficult to leave your life behind when you have very few resources and even best case face years of uncertainty and struggle.”

      I had one teen, 4 young adults, and a grandchild in the house who all stood to lose their home if I left (and took my share) and what I could afford with my share was likely a 2 bedroom apt with only space for me and teen. I would have immediately lost my car (all of them in his name) and needed another. I was willing to fall from upper-middle class to working-class but terrified of what would happen to the young adult kids/partner/grandchild who depended on the intact household that we had built.

      There was a weird moment 9 days before he died when he said that he was going to move away again. That might have left the 6 of us slugging along cash-poor but surviving. God intervened in the situation and made the decision for all of us.

      Now, years later, when I look back, I realize that I was really scared then and likely for really good reasons.

      I wonder what I would have done if he had lived.
      I wonder what I would have done if I had learned that his cheating had spanned decades.
      I will never really know the answer to these questions, but I straight-up admire the Chumps who did the hard stuff.

  • Yea, I was that chump. However not so much on reconciliation but untangling the skein. I was obsessed that his FOO issues caused this.
    I was going to give it my all!!! I ignored my feelings the most during this time. Makes me shudder. Put me in deep dark hole. A friend helped me out and then got here. Ahhhh. Almost at Meh/Tuesday.

    • Oh, mine had FOO in spades. But he still knew right from wrong. If what he was doing was really OK, why did he bother hiding it and lying about it?

  • The one that killed me was the midlife crisis lady who had the story about how evil and cruel her cheating husband was to her while he shacked up with and fucked another woman. But then he came back and adopted a bunch of kids with her! Complete with family photos of her with her dead eyes and him grinning like the narcissist he is.

    I read her story and others on her site and all I could think was THIS is success?! This is a nightmare. Best case scenario is that after abusing you for years he comes back all smug? I feel so bad for those kids.

  • My couples counselor recommended both FW and I to read “The State of Affairs.” Due to this, I had read Perel months before I found Chump Nation. But I hit this paragraph in one of her middle chapters and I was utterly horrified. I went from tentative respect for her perspective to knowing her moral framework would never align with mine. Re-reading, I am still horrified.

    TW: suicide.

    ‘But his next sentence reveals the dagger’s other edge. “When my wife texted me asking if I was okay, I responded, ‘Sure, if you count having a shotgun in my mouth as okay.’” On the brink of suicide, which he never saw through, Buddy mixes self-destruction with blame. “You see what you made me do?”‘

    Who highlights that a deeply depressed person “never saw through” his suicide? A soulless person. I’ve been suicidal before and not seeing it through means this guy was strong, not to be ridiculed.

  • FW had NO desire to reconcile, so I guess I was spared the indignity. He did try to get me to accept some blame for the affair, of course. So there was that. He pointed out that I wasn’t “perfect either.” And apparently, in a pick-me dance contest that I didn’t even know I was in, I lost big points for reacting badly when he said he wanted a separation. The lying liar claims that he would have stayed with me but then I reacted badly and blew the entire 35-year marriage. Just like that!!! #mybad

    Fortunately for me, his attempts at chump blaming were countered by chump-empowering comments from others. For instance, FW’s sister (herself a chump) helped me when she said, “Just remember. None of this is your fault.”
    And my own sister had her version of “trust that he sucks” at the ready when I told her about the affair: “He’s no prize.”

    p.s. I did read a slew of books about cheating and narcissism, including, of course, CL’s book, which would be dog-eared if it weren’t on Kindle. Also loved the audio version. Basically, Amazon made out.

    • I also was an unwitting, involuntary contestant in a pick-me dance that I didn’t even know was going on. In retrospect
      (1) It wasn’t an accident that I didn’t know about the pick-me dance while AP (obviously) did. XW maintained a fiction to herself that she hadn’t already given up on the marriage, but she really wanted me to lose. If I’d known my marriage was on a razor’s edge, maybe I would have pulled it off.
      (2) It wasn’t a level playing field. I was responsible for bills, household, three kids, and a cross-country move while she and AP had all-expenses-paid dinners and romantic hotel stays at exotic conference locations: of course he looked better.
      (3) AP was on his best behavior – not his normal behavior – during the contest. I’m sure that during the short period of the pick-me dance he was a better suitor than I was husband, but I know for a fact that he was treating his actual wife like crap during that period. No one can keep that up for years, and indeed (with his own wife) AP didn’t.

      I do think that (like you) my reaction to XW’s ILYBINILWY didn’t do me any favors. I was devastated, but more importantly I actually respected my XW enough to believe her when she said the marriage was over. It took me a couple of months, but basically I treated her like an adult who had made her adult decision (which I didn’t understand, but I accepted). Instead of “I’ll do anything to win you back”, I said “we need to sit down and do some hard work together”. That wasn’t the message she wanted to hear, and obviously it wasn’t the message that she was getting from AP.

  • One of the more bizarre steps in my Amazonian Chump Journey was after I read a book called “When a Spouse Wants Out”.

    The book describes a woman who waited and prayed for 7 years for her husband to change and become committed to the marriage again. When I read it, I told myself …”well that is too much, I will never do THAT”…whereupon I went to church and prayed for his soul nearly every day, watched him move away, likely shack up with OW 3000 miles away (lying about what he was doing), and return home 18 months later. At first, I convinced myself that we had wreckonsiled while he lived 3000 miles away. We lived together for 5.5 years after that. Things were unraveling fast and I was planning on when / how / where to finally leave when he died unexpectedly.

    In the end, I did exactly what I said I would not do (wait 7 years for him to be decent again).

    I thought during the whole 7 years that there had been one serious OW with some temptations here and there. I later learned that he was a serial cheater. Interesting, CL has said (forgive if I misquote) that she now sees serial cheaters as the norm…those who look like they only had one likely hid a lot of misdeeds in the past. That was my situation.

  • My head was so buried in books and on the internet that it took a little time to realize that it was ME, not him, cleaning up his crime scene.

    Sessions with our regular therapist, a whole library of books from Amazon, finding him his own therapist, phone calls with some nut from the Michele Weiner Davis cult. I am mortified to think of the effort and the energy I put in. It thankfully was brief. He left three months after DDay and I noticed that I stayed seated on the front steps and did not go after him. But even then, it was a lot of work to continue detaching mentally and emotionally. When you are under anesthesia for twenty seven years, it takes a while to wear off.

    Fast forward to just passing the six years since DDay mark, I am getting the last laugh and laughing loudly. What happened is war wound that still hurts, but it is wonderful to be in the clear mentally and be grateful my MIRAGE to him is over.

    • Repairing a relationship after infidelity is like calling the fire department after your partner has burned the house down.

      It makes no sense to stay with someone who has harmed me so intentionally, willingly, deeply.

      There is a world of difference between making a mistake and doing something wrong.

      Don’t confuse them or equate them.

      • “Repairing a relationship after infidelity is like calling the fire department after your partner has burned the house down. It makes no sense to stay with someone who has harmed me so intentionally, willingly, deeply.”

        1. Right. You can’t repair a relationship with the relationship arsonist. The cheater behaved maliciously. He found the lighter fluid. He knew you were in the house with your kids. He got matches. It wasn’t a mistake.

        2. I would add that it defies logic that an affair could actually STRENGTHEN a relationship, which is the crazy thinking peddled by the RIC (including Esther Perel). The burned down house is destroyed. Even the best spacklers among us can’t rebuild walls.

        3. It also makes no sense that we be friends with the arsonist, which is often the demand of others who don’t have a fucking clue. We are made to feel that the high road–the evolved state–is to embrace the cheater. “Take the high road. Forgive and forget. We are all flawed.”🤬. NO ONE would demand that of the victim of an actual arson. I think chumps should get a standing O for being civil. That’s enough.

    • Ugh, Michelle Weiner Davis. That victim blaming BS is the worst. Even in my desperate state the whole concept of the 180 turned me off. Don’t talk about it! Don’t ask questions or expect remorse! Let them mourn the loss of the affair. And ignore them, so they know they can keep doing whatever they want…

  • This challenge has awakened my morbid fascination with the RIC — and the power it can hold over people at n the grips of abuse and infidelity discoveries and trauma. In my doom scrolling, I encountered RIC sites encouraging solidarity among chumps — against those who would “shame” them for staying. That is 100% isolation: a well-recognized abuse tactic. RIC “practitioners” don’t merely condone abuse; they assist and even perpetrate it.

    Enough BS. Time to shower and get on with my day! So relieved that this is now in my past. Thanks, CL and CN!

  • LOL! Because I was already on this website I purchased and listened to books on how to go no contact and recover from cheating, and how to move on. The 2 best were Getting Past Your Break Up by Susan Elliott and Leave a Cheater Gain a Life by Tracy Schorn. The others were: This is me Letting You Go by Heidi Priebe; It’s Ok that you’re not OK by Megan Devine; Stumbling on Happiness by Daniel Gilbert; Why him Why her by Helen Fisher; When Love is a Lie by Zari Ballard; It’s Called a Break Up Because it is Broken by Greg and Amira Behrendt; Attached by Amir Levine and Rachel Heller. All of these books helped me get on a path I still struggle and oddly, even after moving away to start fresh I am literally still asking myself the same exact questions about what happened as I was asking when she first ran away from home. It’s been 21 months. That’s all but it seems like forever.

    • Stephen, I have written about my brother many times on here because even in the midst of his agony he moved on. His wife abandoned him and their children. I mean truly abandoned them. She was gone leaving no forwarding address. Where this gentle man found his rage is a mystery to me but it propelled him to court and permanent custody. It also allowed him to see with very clear vision how rotten she was as a wife and mother. Once his eyes were open he shucked off years of deep love in a matter of weeks. Beware the quiet ones, they find their voices.

      He decided to casually date but told me he was a homebody and loved the idea of an intact family. By happenstance he met his second wife after he stopped trying to be a serial dater. They had many happy years and several children before a childhood illness came back and we lost him.

  • I was with the Lying Cheating Loser for four years, lived together for the last two. The first D-Day was a year in, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt he was never faithful.

    The book I read that sticks in my mind was something about “How To Deal With His Crazy Ex.”

    He and his ex wife were middle/high school sweethearts, and their marriage was exactly the dumpster fire you can imagine. They’re both disordered.

    The enmeshment between them that I objected to was not just her doing. He was actively encouraging and creating it, because triangulation and cake.

    And I was seeking a theory that would allow me to keep the relationship and ease my cognitive dissonance by placing the blame on her.

    In a couple of months I will be celebrating five years cheater-free, and I couldn’t be happier.

  • Add to the long list of reasons why I adore you, Tracey, is today’s post— I feel seen by you! Yes! I responded by research. It’s my superpower. I’m a voracious reader, have degrees in English (BA) Law (JD) and I am paid “big bucks” as a law firm partner and employment litigator to solve problems by researching the law, investigating the facts, and making a reasoned conclusion. Of course I attacked the problem of XH’s cheating, devalue and discard the exact same way. My research led me to “After the Affair,” which was written to the cheater (my cheater never read any of the books— he wasnt having the crisis—he was causing it!). I recall a sentence in there — at some point, if you (cheater) do not focus on your relationship with you spouse, they will leave and you’ll lose the opportunity to be with your spouse and you will likely find that the affair partner will not make a good long-term relationship. Duh!
    I also found a bunch of books and workbooks on partners of sex addicts, but they all presumed the cheater was working on his issues— mine wasn’t so it seemed futile to continue down that path— thank God, in hindsight. I read Lundy Bancroft’s Why Does He Do That, which was helpful because the answer is: because he is an abuser, disordered, wants to hurt you/kids, and is unlikely to ever change. BOOM— 2×4 between my eyes. Finally, I made a brief foray into some weird sites that mentioned doing the 180 to make him come back (I recall “playing hard to get” in middle school — but now I’m a 25 year wife— I thought we were decades past those games 🤬🤦‍♀️) affair fog (wait! It will only last 9-18 months and he’ll come back), and some other nutty ideas….it’s all a sickening blur, frankly. I found CL in April 2015 — 4 months from Dday in the hellish throes of wreconciliation (all an attempt to manipulate me and prevent me from imposing consequences)— CL makes sense — finally, a plan of action: he sucks and probably always will, you don’t, get away from him, find something better – it’s out there. That’s exactly what I did. Thank you, Tracey!!!!!

  • As soon as I saw the real estate listing (we were house hunting and I thought he wanted me to read it) I learned he was planning to move in with a woman he met online. Took about two minutes to figure out it was a catfish romance scam. He watched the Catfish TV show weekly. It was easy to prove the photos were not of the woman emailing him and that it was a scam. He was crushed and told me that I had to console HIM on the loss of his soul mate. Days later we went together to see his therapist, a man who ran the support group we attended for our tween. The first thing the therapist said to him was, “I feel so betrayed, personally and professionally.” I was expecting him to say because my ex had cheated, but no. He went on to say that he taught a class about catfishing for teen girls, and if my ex had told him that the AP was virtual, he would have pointed it out. No sympathy or empathy for me at all. Per cheater, the therapist had told him to consider the cost of leaving me and child, and whether or not his happiness was worth the damage to us, and he had calculated that yes, his happiness was worth more to him than the damage to me and to our child (grandchild), who had already been abandoned by his parents.

    • We did go to a marriage counselor recommended by his therapist for a few sessions. She seemed supportive of me and pointed out his BS. She told him he had to allow me to see all his messages on all his devices. he agreed, although I later found boxes from THREE cellphones, so I know he kept two from me. He also had email accounts I didn’t know about until I found printouts after he was gone. When I confronted him with evidence of thousands of dollars and credit cards he’d given, after denying it repeatedly, he assaulted me, and also Tween, who tried to intervene and protect me. (Later I learned the marital theft was much, much worse.) The therapist emailed us that for her own safety she does not see clients who are violent, although I had already gotten him out of the house. She should have told me to file a police report. I regret that I didn’t. I don’t blame myself; he had knocked me unco9nscious and I had a concussion, which does not make for clear thing.
      I went to a Safehouse therapist for advice, and he gave me a handout called the Cycle of Violence. I saw very clearly that although my ex professed to be a non-violent pacifist, he’d had all the abusive behaviors before his physical assault, including verbal, emotional, financial, isolating me from my friends, intimidation, etc. He had also kicked me several times, supposedly in our sleep, but with amazing accuracy for someone who was supposedly also asleep. He kicked my knee hard enough to keep me from walking for months. And when I recovered from that one, he kicked my ankle, again while “sleeping.” Combined, these injuries made it hard for me to walk for more than a year.
      I highly recommend the Cycle of Violence Wheel.

      • Your ex-FW is an irredeemable rectal orifice. I am so glad that you are free of him.

  • My wife and I had one session with a marriage counselor, which consisted of XW complaining and me patiently listening. The marriage counselor said “I have something to work with here: there’s no contempt, you listen, the body language is all good. If you give me six months, things will improve.” At the time I didn’t see it myself but I figured she knew her business. When we returned the next week, though, XW point-blank refused to work on the marriage so that was it. (Actually, XW engineered a set piece with the marriage counselor where I would beg her to work on the marriage, she would emphatically refuse, and I would be forced to conclude “well, in that case it seems like divorce is the only possible outcome” and XW could then accuse me of first using the word divorce for the next three years).

    Years later, my relationship with my XW has turned truly toxic, for all the reasons you can imagine. The idea of talking to her makes my skin crawl; I don’t believe anything she says and I have zero trust in her.

    Now that I see what a toxic mess looks like up close, I realize that the marriage counselor was correct back then: at the time of our divorce, my marriage was good. Not perfect, but good – and certainly good enough to warrant a few months’ work. I respected and trusted my wife, and there was enough foundation to imagine fixing it. Unfortunately, the problem was not my marriage but my wife (and more particularly, my wife’s affair). That’s not something I could fix by myself, and no one could force my wife to try to fix it.

  • I did the pick me dance hard, books and everything because she’s a Jesus cheater so I thought it was my duty to save the marriage. That changed when I saw her with the fat man-child.

    Months after everything was over, our mutual counselor (she stopped seeing her) said she’s a narc, and no amount of empathy, validation, or love will satisfy her, she’s an emotional black hole.

  • “Forgive and Forget” was thrown around like beads at Mardi Gras….everyone who was harmful to me said it (including RIC therapist and pastors/church counselors) and I bought it. That phrase kept me stuck in abusive relationships in every aspect of my life for 38 years. Not anymore! If that phrase comes out of anyone’s mouth, I instantly leave and distance myself from that person bc they are unsafe due to their clear lack of boundaries.

  • “If you decide to reconcile, stop being sad about the betrayal.” As if the “decision” to “stay” is legally binding, permanently. The contract was secretly voided by the abuser, yet the chump is expected to ” trust”. If she doesn’t trust, she is at fault for the future demise of the “relationship”, not the abuser. Reconciliation is nothing but the further abuse of the victim. Just because someone is technically still “married” does not mean that the marriage is “successful”. It only means that the victim has relented.

  • Over the years I have read so many books and articles, I can’t remember them all. I was searching for an answer to the “Why” question. I looked for what was wrong with me, my parents, my FOO in general, my boyfriends/spouses, and my siblings. Either I am extremely curious, or I have wasted a lot of time, right? I don’t think it was wasted, I enjoy reading and thinking about whether or not things have a positive purpose and outcome. I rarely believe someone is entirely good or bad, but I don’t rule out the possibility.

    I did have to fix some things about myself. I appreciated the understanding and knowledge I gained to help me be a better person. I do not want to be susceptible to being used or cheated on. So, I learned how to set boundaries, how to stop trying to fix other people, how to spot red flags and avoid troubled personalities, and how to make myself happy.

    I also learned that some people seem to be determined to have unhappy, unsuccessful lives. I don’t know why. Maybe they can be treated by a professional and turn their life around. But THAT is not my job. I am grateful that is not my job.

    I believe mental health issues are the biggest ghosts in the medical system. The result of untreated mental disorders and diseases has a ripple effect throughout the economy. There are many criminal and social issues connected to untreated mental disorders and illness, IMHO. I know it is hard for the government to find the place where people are not overtaxed, and yet they have the funds they need to keep our country running. I also believe that there has to be a community effort to fix the broken parts of our systems, or we will inevitably fail and fall apart.

    For chumps, we can only reactively protect ourselves and children and proactively seek a better outcome for ourselves and our children. Learning to evaluate ANY advice and adapt it to your needs is key to success. The RIC touts all kinds of advice. I found it was not useful, for me at least. The internet and public libraries are full of tons of information, but you have to be careful and evaluate that, as well. A good therapist is a great investment. A bad therapist is a waste of time and money. I can’t say any one thing I read or listened to was better than the others. For me it was a cumulative effect.

  • Zero help: The Bible, recommended by our pastor who assured me, “Of course he loves you, Eve. You just need to be more patient and understanding.”

    First Inkling: The Blue-Eyed Devil, Lisa Kleypas, a contemporary romance that captures a toxic marital relationship with such authenticity that it broke through my wall of denial and I thought, “Omg, that’s me,” which led me to

    Lots of help: The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond, Patricia Evans
    Why Does He Do That? Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men, Lundy Bancroft

    I would like to add that I have found my way back to the Bible but with a much different understanding than before.

    • “As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his foolishness,” I laughed when I read this Proverb. Through this I found my own path back as well. I felt reassured knowing that the X cheating was never going to change. He is who he is – a fool and a liar-cheater-stealer.

      I find it endlessly reassuring to read that infidelity is not taken lightly; it’s in the 10 commandments and so many other places throughout the bible. God’s heart is for the brokenhearted.
      Each of us has been through our own journey towards healing and the damage done by those that would use a tool of faith as a weapon to further harm on the victims is abhorrent.

      • Really, how is that going to play out.

        “Did you feed my lambs, tend my sheep?”
        “No, Lord, we supported the abuser.”

        • I have shard here a zillion times that I am a serious Catholic…serious enough that I cannot bear the current situation where Churches (Catholic and Protestant) are all railing against gay and trans people (who are a small segment of the population) while ignoring the rampant adultery in their pews (what, like 50% ?). I sat through a homily railing against gays given by a deacon who fucked the babysitter.
          I simply cannot stand by for this. I withdrew all my pledges and for now, the food bank can get my money and suffering marginalized people can get my attention. And clergy of any sort who sexually abuse people …fuck them all.

      • I advised FW that his adultery was outside the will of God. As the chump, I am free to divorce him and remarry. He, however, is not. While I live, he is prohibited from having sex with anyone else. His obligation to me ends only at my death. The only loophole being if I also cheated. But, I don’t think CN includes any chumps who were also cheating on their cheater!

  • I found it interesting that my sister-in-law confided, “My mother taught me, if he’s not getting it at home, he’s going elsewhere.” Her spouse, my step-brother shortly afterwards in a private conversation said, “It’s wrong. What he did was wrong. I could wake up tomorrow to find out I have prostate cancer and can never have sex again. I would hope that my wife and family would still love me.” Interesting that those two viewpoints came out of one long-term marriage, two people I have known for decades – within a few days of each other, neither knowing the other had talked to me about it.

    Mind blender stuff.

  • Sadly, I got great advice : Dump him!
    I didn’t listen.
    My sister took me aside and said, “you’ll never be able to forgive him, divorce him now”
    I did buy the five love languages book -hoping I could save the already sinking ship… but he never read it and I finally threw it in the trash – hoping he’d see it and retrieve it. Nope.
    Should have kept the book and thrown him in the trash.

    • I gave mine a copy of Vagina: a Biography and told him he needed to learn more about female anatomy and related etc. before I was willing to try sex with him again. This was after decades of constant one sided conversations where I teased, conjoled, suggested, cried, etc. with no change. He pretended to read it, constantly in the sadz because I was being so cruel, and then he was mad, then fake bewildered over the big words and foreign concepts……. ever changing the channels on DARVO I think you call it here at CN.

      Evidently schmoopie didn’t require such difficult challenges….. good for her, she wins! I am curious as to how long before she says to herself, “Now wait a minute, what exactly am I getting out of this?”

  • Sometimes when I read the comments here I feel like I’m reading the most rational, sane, and clear speech anywhere on the internet. This group appears to me to be made up of incredibly intelligent men and women with a really sharp sense of humour. My FW always cheated with, seemingly, lower forms of intelligence and that makes me wonder if that is just another way of cheating down. Which brings me to my bit of therapy bullshit. One marriage therapist actually said that my intelligence was intimidating FW and it would go a long way if I could let him beat me at scrabble. Basically, I was going to continue to be cheated on if I didn’t dumb things down a bit.

    • Darla, I agree. The people on this site are the smartest group of people I’ve ever read on the internet. And they’re good writers, and funny. It’s uncanny.

      • CN is an oasis. By a stroke of luck, I stumbled upon CN first and never even saw other infidelity resources on the web, and now I realize just how fortunate I was!

        Recently I passed through /r/Divorce (the divorce forum over on Reddit) and OMG, what a hive of dysfunction. 10% condemn cheaters, 50% will tell chumps to “own their part” in “driving away their spouse”, and the rest will condemn the first 10% as mean, unforgiving assholes because they tried to hold a cheater accountable.

    • “One marriage therapist actually said that my intelligence was intimidating FW and it would go a long way if I could let him beat me at scrabble.”

      Okay, that one would take first prize in a Stupid Shit Therapists Say contest. Perhaps this therapist should author a reconciliation book called The Scrabble Solution.

      I agree with you about people at CN being exceptional.

  • Directly after my x said he was leaving me, my best friend’s mom sent me this:

    Same thing happened to my mom when my sister was 2. I was 18.
    This is what she did and I never forgot it. She dressed up adorably, made wonderful meals he loved and carried a beautiful smile and flirted with him like old times. He never ended up leaving!
    Men are very fickle.
    When we get so involved with our kids, work, etc. And get so overwhelmed with life, we forget our husbands married us to be spoiled and loved. Many cannot be second or third on our list.Maybe X is one of them .. but he’s worth trying to save. The best time to catch him is when you’re in bed after the boys are asleep. Assure him you love him beyond words, touch him romantically and remind him how much you and the boys will need him and depend on him.
    Be strong, but gentle with your words. Fake it until you make it.
    Another rule to follow, if you can, is give it 6 months. Or even a year. Try not to do anything drastic in that time. Dont YOU leave!! STAY in your house and be as sweet, kind, romantic and available as you know how. Let him be the bad guy, not YOU. NOT EASY, but it may work to keep him.
    Those boys NEED their dad more than anything! Convince him to stay for them and promise X you’ll change whatever you need to for him to be happy. It may only take a year to form happiness for all of you again.
    Remember him to all the beginnings and romance you did have. All the good and funny memories. Give it your 100%!!!! He’s worth it!!!!
    And dont have any guests so EVERY opportunity you have with him is dedicated to him and your boys.
    I’m praying for you. This is what I would do anyway to save my man.
    I love you. XOXOXOXO
    There’s always hope!!!!


    • OMG that’s HORRIBLE. I remember hearing some of that same – “be the dutiful wife” crap from my friends and family but no one actually came out and told me to allow him to sexually abuse me– “Fake it till you make it” – WHAT . THE. FUCK.

    • Barf barf barf.

      Besides being archaic blameshifting female-role bullshit, there are legions of cheaters of any gender who cheat while the chump is doing all that.

      It’s just extra frosting on the cake, and they are happy to lap it up.

    • This is pretty much what I did and it was the worst idea ever.

      To this day, I find myself not putting my hair into a ponytail even when its more convenient. During The Great Discard, I was reluctant to ever allow myself to be less than optimally attractive. Some if that thinking stuck even after the situation has totally changed. gag

    • Well, she was right about one thing – stay in your house and kick the CHEATER’S ass out.

    • OMG!!! The 1950s are calling and want their advice back.

      MY ex-MIL had the same kind of advice. She mixed it with religious stuff, which added a certain je ne sais quois.

      She got this really confused look on her face when I explained to her that her FW son WANTED to be with the OW and not me. She couldn’t process it and kept telling me about women she knew who forgave the betrayer and really turned on the “CHARM.” wink wink 😉

      I’m sure she thought he cheated because I wasn’t attending to his “needs.” We actually had an active sex life, but, oh, I suppose I failed on a million different other fronts. I mean, there was that time he complained that I made salmon twice in ONE WEEK. #shootme #mybad

      • Typo or just poorly expressed.

        Meant to say: She couldn’t process it and kept telling me that she knew of so many women who’d been cheated on (ALL men stray, she said). They got their husbands back by turning on the charm (wink wink). If only I could do THAT… (oh and she also exhorted me to forgive because that’s what God calls us to do.)

        I failed in her (and God’s!) eyes.

        Meanwhile, she embraced the OW only weeks after D-Day. Guess she thought God would approve of an AP. 🤷🏻‍♀️ Let’s not look at the Ten Commandments, shall we? Note: I’d known her for over 3 decades. SMH

  • Dday 1- I threw him out of the house and called a lawyer – found out I was financially doomed, didn’t eat for 3 weeks and let him back in on the condition of marriage counseling. Marriage counselor had us do exercises where we looked for ways that we were each “checking out” of the relationship. FW accused me of reading too much. While I told the counselor about the “emotional” affairs (I totally believed they were just emotional-sigh-), I generally didn’t bring up the affairs in our joint counseling sessions. The counselor had me convinced that it was a two-way street and I had things I needed to work on (I can’t remember what though…). Also, she used to talk about her other clients (she was definitely unethical) and held up a baby picture from some “successful” clients that had continued their marriage and had another kid. I dropped this counselor because they were actually being INVESTIGATED while I was in a session — she tossed it off as her colleague just didn’t file proper paperwork but I’m sure it was worse. After I dropped her, FW and I stayed together and I kept thinking about that “successful” couple that had another child and so … we had another child. There was SO MUCH SPACKLE and nonsense in my head, but obviously I’m SO grateful to have my second child- he’s just about 16 now. And FW is completely out of my life and barely a part of my kids’ lives. Ironically on the last Dday when FW came to tell me that he wanted a divorce his excuse was that he was “checked out” – still using that same language from the counselor, but accusing HIMSELF now- so VERY gallant!! (failed to mention that he was having a long-term affair which is why he was so “checked out”).

  • Despite it still hurting I think him telling me I “wasn’t worth the effort” (ouch) to go to counseling and work through his affair was SUCH a blessing in disguise.

    An online friend showed me CL 2 days later when I was crying about him moving out and I haven’t looked back. ..granted it’s been a whole 3 weeks lol but I’m still super thankful for not going through the back and forth knowing he wouldn’t actually give her up. As in when I told him if we’re going to put us first he had to stop everything with her he had the nerve to ask “…can we still talk tho?” Ummmm NO?!?!

    • Please make sure you’ve blocked him on your phone, social media, and any other channel he might use to contact you when the shine from New Schmoopie wears off.

  • I read “Not Just Friends” and found it really helpful. I made him read it too and his only comment was that it was difficult to read.

    She talks about how full transparency is needed to earn back the trust of the betrayed partner.

    Unfortunately, I did not take her advice, stupidly thinking that I didn’t want to be the marriage police and wanted to trust my husband.

    We went to MC; he lied. He saw a counselor in his own — twice. The counselor has him buy a book about unconditional love. He never read it.

    • Giddy, there is ONE LINE in that book that I found actually helpful. Ironically, it’s in the chapter TO THE AFFAIR PARTNER.

      “A man with a history of infidelity is a poor choice for a life partner.”

      So why would I want to stay with a cheater, Shirley?!

      That book only needed to be one sentence long IMHO.

  • First and foremost, I love you Tracy. I read you like a bed time story every night to ward off dreams of going back to my STBXH or those dreams where he is chasing me to smother me with his unrelenting and insatiable demands. So yes, I had books about the secret life that men have with porn. I was told all men dabble in it and it is not a big deal. Then I attended 2 sex addict anonymous meetings and almost puked. No cure !! A life time of meetings! If there was no problem and everyone did it, what was my problem?. So I read the books, I went to therapy. He did nothing but accelerate the blame. It was ALL. MY.FAULT. If I could up my game I could keep his wonderfulness at home. This is where time was lost as I put my head in the sand and shook waiting to be dumped. A pick me dance unaware I was in a no win contest. The porn use though hidden from me, got more intense and I was being treated more and more like an object. One therapist told me that if I put a pole in the bedroom and wore pasties 24/7 it would still not be enough. I also was not new,young or shiny.
    Ok so Then, I dont know when, I was physically replaced by many others, and then came intensive devaluing and verbal abuse. It was a process of years. Until I had an actual D day and I locked the abuser out and filed. I was 69. It took years to unfold, 32 to go completely down hill. IMO I married a nice guy and i have great memories and family times together. But this disease of cheating and porn use must escalate just like any addiction, food use, alcohol use, drug use…so that wonderful man i married became entitled, abusive arrogant and unfeeling with zero compassion. My baby lion grew to do what grown lions do. Almost mall me to death and eat me alive. So since did all the work to save us, i had to do all the work to end it. A sad true story. Run if you can, it will not get better.

  • Lol, yeah after first DDay he promised to tell me about any “feelings” he was having towards other women. Total transparency!

    How shocked I was when second DDay occurred and no transparency! I mean I couldnt believe it! Silly me.

    So I bought the book Not Just Friends, and started reading it. Realized he needed to read it. So gave to him told him to read it. He placed it face down in a bottom drawer, never read it.

    Found CL started researching PD, OCPD, toxic people, NPD, psychopaths instead. Alot more relevant for us chumps. How am I going to “fix” a person with mental illness? I can understand the trauma and chaos he experienced as a child, and his development of OCPD and NPD, but I cant fix it. He would have to take medication and do intensive therapy multiple times a week for years. He would have to want to change!

    The sooner we give up the better. Realize they are broken and we cant fix them. Then we can focus on ourselves.

    RIC is a money making business. You cant “fix” a cheater. Maybe there is a lucky unicorn occasionally. We spend so much money on all this stuff, I bought an online video series about how to be alluring to men! It distracts us. Makes us feel we have a modicum of control over the FW and situation. Spent a few hundreds of dollars.

    Also did WW and nutrisystem because hey if I could loose those 15 lbs he wouldnt cheat!

    I didnt understand when people say you can only control your reaction. Now I totally get that. We are so not in control. Wasted alot of time, years.

    I should have left after the first DDay. The first one I didn’t count because it occurred when dating I found out after being married. So I really had 3 DDays. I should have divorced, given birth and moved on coparenting.

    I dont say I wasted my time or life because, I have 2 great kids, a great career, great friends. I was a great wife and mom, did the right thing, and was happy despite him. When you live a life of meaning, purpose and do right by others, the FW cant bring you down.

    My daughter asked if her whole life was a lie. I said no FW and me were together a long time, stuff happens, and I dont consider my life a lie and either should she. Yeah he was duplicitous but that had nothing to do with me.

  • I had 5 or 6 reconciliation books. I recently put all of them in Little Free Libraries around town with a note on the inside cover page: “If you have picked up this book, you’re looking for help and answers. I didn’t find either in these pages. The best help and advice I found was at Good luck, things will get better once you start to take care of yourself first.”

  • “Your husband had a sexual affair. You were having an affair with depression,” said the therapist Snakeface and I saw after he cheated on me the first time. The therapist held Snakeface accountable for his choices, but apparently my insufficiently addressed depression, a problem for me since I was a kid, was seen in an equally dim light. It was easy for Snakeface to say my depression was the motivating force for his affair. I was affecting his own mental health, he said, he was attracted to his first ho-worker because she was more positive than I was (also thinner).

    That was 31 years ago, when I was only 26, so even though I was at least self-respecting enough not to think I was to blame for what Snakeface did, when the therapist passed “affair with depression” to me, I still spread it on my shit sandwich and ate it.

    • You know what makes people pretty fuckin’ depressed? Their spouses cheating on them.

      • ☝🏻This. Being abused causes mental health problems like depression and anxiety.

    • “Your husband had a sexual affair. You were having an affair with depression”

      I can only describe this abomination of a therapist as a stupid fucking bitch. This person presumably has some sort of degree or diploma in the mental health field, yet she thinks people choose depression just like cheaters choose to fuck around? That makes me furious. I’m sorry you experienced that.

  • I’ve mentioned it before, but I didn’t have an explicit d-day. We were in marriage counseling because I was sick of his lying, and he was upset that I didn’t trust him (Gee, I wonder why?). I was trying so hard to save our marriage, while he pulled further and further away, and his treatment of me continued to get worse. When he asked for a trial separation (but we were still going to counseling) I remember talking to a priest at my church. His advice? “Pray.” Remind me not to take marriage advice from someone who isn’t actually married. I did pray, a lot. And I’m so grateful God did not answer my prayers. He set me free when my ex asked me for a divorce. My feelings about the church are a very mixed bag. I am so angry that my faith (and that ever-present drum beat to “forgive, forgive, forgive”) was weaponized against me. I’d still be desperately trying to improve a crappy marriage to a lying, selfish ass-hat if he hadn’t left.

    After he left, I realized his friendship with another married female friend was really an emotional affair (we often had arguments about boundaries with her/that couple). There’s a strong chance it was more than emotional, I’ll never know, and it doesn’t matter at this point. He’s married to her now.

    I spent a good chunk that first year of separation / divorce trying to figure out what I did wrong. Why he treated me the way he did. I read books about communication. It wasn’t his fault he didn’t understand how he hurt me! I just didn’t communicate properly. I didn’t ask him to repeat back what I said to make sure he understood! I wasn’t calm enough and he was afraid of upsetting me so he couldn’t be honest with me (I’ll take, it’s not what I did but your reaction to it for 1,000 Ken).

    What a bunch of crap. He just didn’t care. End of story. He has shitty character and doesn’t care who he hurts as long as it gets him what he wants and keeps his reputation. And boy, will he get mad if you let other people know what he does…!

  • One of my favorite not-favorite web sites is Marriage Builders. They start out by acknowledging that if you’ve been cheated on you have the right to leave, but in case you decide not to, you can take Marriage Builders classes, buy Marriage Builders books and attend Marriage Builders seminars.

    The gist is that if you want to “re-build” your marriage, you have to renew your love for this person you currently hate for blowing up your life. Date nights, interest questionnaires, special time alone away from the children, etc., etc., are all on the re-building menu.

    It would never have worked for me. I’m the type who finds it hard to concentrate on making deposits in my Love Bank while my mind is occupied with how to get away with ripping the FW’s face off.

  • After D-Day, I couldn’t believe what was happening and I looked at everything I could find about fixing infidelity on the internet. I found the RIC site that advocated the 180. Looking back, that wasn’t the worst thing that could happen because at least that didn’t involve groveling or losing my dignity.

    None of it makes sense to me now. Putting aside the obvious problem of “winning” a cheater back, the 180 is about “portraying” strength to the cheater rather than building strength in the chump. It’s not about looking reality straight in the face; it’s about putting up a facade for the cheater, in particular while still living in the same house. It’s a sign of how far I’ve come is that back then, the advice “not to beg” was actually helpful, when now it would never occur to me to beg another adult to “pick me”. The list as a whole (which I just checked today) seems manipulative to me, designed to tweak the waning interest of a jackass by pretending not to be hurt, confused and scared. In my mind, it’s better to feel those feelings (as awful as they are) while at the same time going low or no contact with the jackass.

  • I think people who have “Fixer” personalities are going to struggle the most after their partner cheats. They want to believe that there is a valid reason for the infidelity and that reason can be “solved” which means that the marriage can be salvaged after doing x, y, and z. It’s hard to accept the fact that your spouse fell out of love with you, or fell in love with someone else, and that the romantic relationship is over. It’s hard to accept that your spouse has had a total disregard for your feelings and trust, and simply didn’t give a damn. Most of us arrive at these conclusions eventually but it’s usually after months/years of attempted reconciliation that, deep down inside, we know isn’t really going anywhere. More wasted time that we’ll never get back.

    I envy those who can deftly read the writing on the wall, pull the plug and start the process of moving on without wasting another precious second on their cheating spouse.

  • My reconciliation story started at what I call “DDay lite” which occurred a year and a half in and consisted of him posting profiles of both of us on threesome sites trying to attract a 3rd person without my consent or knowledge. I only found out because someone started stalking me, found out my phone number and office address and my parents address and started sending crazy anonymous texts and letters for months about what they would do to me in bed. I learned after the first texts that he had sent nudes and sex videos of me to multiple strangers he met on these apps. I probably never knew the half of it. His initial response was basically heaps of justifications and blame shifting regarding god knows what that I wasn’t doing that made him do this.

    Embarrassingly now, I actually found this site very quickly via this post that almost exactly mirrored my situation minus the actual physical cheating:

    This post was actually the only thing that seemed to wake him up to how heinous what he did was, though maybe in retrospect it was all an act. Unfortunately I had some degree of denial and I guess sort of refused to view what he did as cheating per se (yes it was actually worse) and thus began the therapy. He agreed to individual therapy (CBT) and we then went to couples therapy where the book we were first given was Getting The Love You Need. In other words, share the blame for what’s missing in the relationship! Naturally! You 2 just don’t communicate well! Yes because talking more will stop sexual entitlement/deviancy/abuse. The love he “needs” is someone willing to let him sleep with other people and sleep with other men too for his enjoyment. Blaming communication difficulties is also really bad for an introverted person in a relationship with an extrovert, as it becomes rather easy for all of those issues to be heaped on the one who naturally talks less. 6 years later he and the therapist were still allied in trying to pin lack of openness and discussion on me while he was sitting through weekly therapy sessions while actively having an affair.

    I realize therapists are engaged in trying to support what the goals of the client are and can only work with what the client gives, but honestly they need to make better efforts to present reality. CL was indeed the voice of reality right at the beginning. I just wasn’t ready to hear it and was then enabled into paying a hefty price later in more ways than one.

  • I had all the books and hours and hours of counciling. “Marriage on the Rock” was good stuff actually. It will come in handy if I ever feel like risking everything in my world again.

    I had legit concerns about my ex. Financial infidelity and alcoholism to name a couple. A councilor whom I believe was infatuated with my ex at the time said to us during a session “A woman is just a reflection of what you put into the relationship”.

    From that point forward everything wrong with her was my fault. Found out later she’s been having affairs. Look what I made her do.

    I couldn’t get divorced soon enough.

  • I tried looking for the site I used in those early days and I can’t find it…it essentially was an affair proof for $299/$399 or something like that. Throughout the literature were elements of building your self-confidence and self-respect in case it all didn’t work out. That was the only bit that helped which led me to finding your site and book. And, I am forever grateful because I got out.

  • Having gone about nicking. futz with hurt, anger, and disappointment . He indulged me with compliance of non effective non honorable therapy which criticized me as being a codependent rather than a caring honest wife with core values and willingness to have a good marriage. The industry shoved books and suggestions to develop more with sex, which was never a problem . I guess they expected porno status. I bought half a flipping library of books to understand all the bullshit. Industry tells me if you leave come back in six months or less. The therapy industry feeds false hope of a completely broken situation but hey if the money is rolling in ….

  • I’m ashamed to admit I did my best to “make the marriage a happy place to be.” (As if it hadn’t been already.) I don’t remember which dumb-ass book or site recommended this. I painted our bedroom and cleaned the ketubah above our bed, among other pointless gestures. Fer Christ’s sake I was such an idiot.

  • I actually found CL early on (thank goodness) so I never blamed myself nor did I do the pick me dance, but I did wait around in limbo land for two years while we lived apart, hoping he’d “come to his senses” and figure out that I was the better choice. SMH. I finally woke up and stopped waiting.

  • I found Vikki Stark’s Runaway Husbands right away, thankfully, and then Chump Lady maybe a few months after dday. But my husband was 100% out of the marriage right after dday and had no desire to reconcile at all, so I knew I had nothing to work with and the marriage was over. It was was painful, but it was a blessing that it shortened the whole process.

  • Ugh. Not RIC specific, but before D-Day I read so many books about marriage. A lot of them on the sly, even, because I didn’t want to scare the timid forest creature away. He was too fragile to even mention that maybe we could try to become closer and even enjoy daily life together? Working together, talking together, enjoying music together? I was convinced I was the problem and if I could just fix everything that was wrong about me (which was basically everything you could think of: lose weight but not in my oddly shaped too small breasts, cook better, spend less time and money on cooking but have dinner ready and waiting when he got home later and later, be more interested in his interests, but not too interested because that was “HIS” thing, keep the kids behaving perfectly, be precisely punctual to every event, look well rested after weeks of sleepless nights with sick children, not need or want sex, but always be hot and ready for it when he wanted it, speak up more and take charge, but no don’t be one of those outspoken bossy women, too feminist, don’t chew gum around him or sing or whistle, or make any noise when washing the dishes because of his hyperacusis, don’t waste HIS time cleaning the house, do it on my own time (WHEN?!) but do have it organized and spotless with three kids at home and working remotely to make ends meet, don’t work when he’s at home because that’s HIS time, don’t cook because it makes too big a mess, but don’t eat out it’s too expensive, I can go on…) If I could somehow achieve all that it would shift everything and he would maybe want to finally participate in a fulfilling reciprocal relationship with his wife? So, I asked my brother and SIL for any recommendations and they recommended His Needs, Her Needs: Affair Proofing Your Marriage. This was a shock to me, because I never would have thought I needed to affair-proof it, I just thought we could use a little assistance for a normal marriage-is-hard for everyone run-of-the-mill marriage. I swallowed so much BS from that book. They encouraged me to have him read it, i hesitatingly but in an upbeat manner asked if he would maybe consider at least doing the quiz, and I almost wonder if that was the beginning of the end, because the progressively got worse after that. I also got Hold Me Tight all about attachment, and tried to figure out my attachment issues (I thought I was barbed wire monkey) , and Married to Distraction (I thought I was so difficult to live with and be married to because I was so flakey and lost things and always untidy and tardy and forgetful and at times overly anxious and many times depressed) and ugh, the love languages book. Any mention of a love language is so triggering to me now. Barf, physical touch and words of affirmation—so Stepford Wifey. after D-Day it just felt like proof that I failed at affair proofing my marriage. I’m still all those things, but learning to be okay with them and trying to not berate myself everyday for all these shortcomings and failings and accept and like myself. And I want to burn those marriage books now, but the His Needs, Her Needs one was a library book, I hope the library has long disposed of it!

    At the beginning of Hold Me Tight I remember reading a disclaimer, something along the lines of “if there is any abuse or addiction in the marriage, this book is not going to be helpful, proceed with caution,” or “address those issues first and then come back.” I was like, nope, no addictions or abuse here, I’m good to go! I still didn’t know about the lies.

  • I went with FW to a marriage counselor with addiction specialty (he allegedly was seeing his own addiction counselor (he went once). I expressed that I was upset FW said I could open his phone anytime and track him and he kept claiming it wasn’t working. This guy proceeds to tell all the ways FW could fool me, like keeping phone on his desk and leaving… I thinking how is this helpful to our marriage. He said there was a book on how to truly apologize for cheating. Only 99 pages, FW actually ordered it and read it, He apologized. I so wanted to believe him.
    That was short lived. He wouldn’t go to rehab, or see counselor. Cancelled our appointment because he wanted us to do something fun instead. We went to zoo, he bought a couples membership like we’d still be together another year….

    Thank goodness I found LACGAL. It had to sink in.
    DDay was my 60th in Sept
    I found his drugs probably a month later,
    held an intervention,
    kicked him out when he kept making excuses for not firing her
    consulted attorney in November,
    allowed him back when he fired her (all a ruse, I think she was going on vacation) he called from office Dec 29 and said she was needed in office
    I filed in Jan 2019.
    Divorce took 2.5 years

    Don’t waste your precious time waiting to see how it will pan out, you have no idea how long the process really can take and in hindsight you could never feel safe in the marriage again.

  • I was working as a church secretary when the pastor asked me to print out a bunch of articles about restoring marriage after infidelity for a couple he was counseling. I did as I was told, but I pointed out to him that all the articles were from organizations charging money for their counseling services, so it was really just advertising. And even if they were true, who is to say how things turned out ten years later for those “successes”? I mean, lots of people can pull it back together for a week or two, but things fall apart again pretty fast… He was mad and told me I was so negative and so opinionated. I think he missed the previous secretary who always just did as she was told and never had an opinion about anything.

    Of course, when I discovered FW’s cheating, that pastor tried to give me some of those same articles, and I just laughed at him. I ended up leaving the church and joined another where the pastor totally supported me leaving both that other church and the FW.

  • I ended up on Betrayed Wives Club. For almost 8 months. Than I found CL. What a waste of time the other site was. DARVO was a jedi level skill on this site. Shit sandwiches for all. Thanks for being you CL. The lifeline I have found here is my biggest reason for tossing his ass to the curb. Is this relationship acceptable to me? Oh HELLS NO!

  • I remember the male, Catholic-based counselor I dragged my lying cheating multiple D-Day inducing ex to, telling me that I wasn’t creating a trusting enough environment at home for my ex and that all his shame was causing him to continue to lie and cheat with OW. (Wasn’t ex the one that needed to be working on creating a trusting environment???) Also, my sister telling me that I really needed to sit down and think about how I wasn’t meeting my ex’s needs, which is why he was out having an affair. I guess between caring for our 1 year old, working full time, doing 98% of all the housework and 100% of the emotional labor…. I should have been making more time to cater to his “needs.” Ugh. I beat myself up for a few years thinking I was all to blame for ex’s affair and the bust up of our marriage and family. I’m smarter now, thanks to CL and CN. But sadly, most of society still blames the chump when an affair happens. One of the few traumas and abuses out there where its still ok to blame the survivor.

  • CL asked for quotes, and I came across this doozy of an article, which is a perfect example of stupid reconciliation advice.

    This kind of thinking is insanity. In order to keep the turd, the chump has given in and agreed that whatever she did, be it serving bagged salad, loading the dishwasher incorrectly, or sighing aggressively (my FW actually accused me of that 😆) is equal to cheating. She plays loftier-than-thou and brags that she doesn’t blame him, as of it would be wrong to do so. The RIC indoctrinates chumps into feeling guilty even for blaming a cheater for the results of cheating. It’s maddening.

    “Seven years later, my husband and I have each owned our role in the eroding of our marriage. We’ve both done the therapy and made amends with each other. Rather than play the zero-sum blame game, we worked to bond again by fixing what was broken — in ourselves and in each other.”

    Crock. Of. Shit.

  • I had done quite a bit of self-directed research, trying to read the typical books and doing a pick-me dance. We did see a marriage councilor however, who was quite good. After a two couple sessions, she asked to see my ex alone . As time passed and my ex’s affair continued, I had enough and kicked her out. The councilor called me and said ” your ex is a covert narcissist, divorce will be the best thing for you .” The one-on-one meetings had her allow to come to that conclusion. She didn’t divulge on any details due to confidentiality, but I later learned that this wasn’t the only affair – I can only assume that the therapist knew.

  • Oh, Lordy. This brings back awful memories. But, there is a distance to them now. So I can talk about them.🫤

    I was a fairly typical chump, I think. Blind-sided by the exit-affair w/her equally shitty (compared to the FW XW) older, richer-than-me boss. Alternated between some pick-me dancing and rage/intense hurt , and at the same time, stunned and in shock at what she/they had done to their spouses and families. Holy shit. I was a mess.

    For the almost two weeks she stayed in the house w/me and the kids following D-day, I pick-me danced. I think I downloaded a free (or at very least, low-cost) e-book right away (within a day or two) that told me “How To Win Her Back,” or something close to that bullshit. Discovering CL was at least six to seven months out from this point.

    I cannot remember what this thing said exactly. But it ignored asking, “what did they do, and should you even consider trying to get this person back in your life?” Instead, it just launched into suggesting that you should start dating others, play it cool w/the ex, and make them see how great a catch you actually are and what they are now missing out on.

    I think it was geared more for the end of a general romantic relationship, than the explosion of an almost twenty five year marriage. Either way, it did nothing to address the shit your partner just heaped on you. So I abandoned it within a day or two.

    What I find funny in thinking about this time is how within a month or two after this, I found on the FW XW’s iPhoto stream a picture she took at a local bookstore of the fairly new Esther Perel book, “The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity.”

    Yes, in my desperation for finding out anything that the FW XW might be doing or thinking, I found that I could get into her user space on our family iMac that she’d left me with, and see her current iCloud photo stream. I don’t think she clued in to the fact that she had left herself vulnerable by not changing any of her passwords or such for awhile.

    I’m not exactly proud of myself for doing it, but I also don’t feel guilty about it after the shit sandwich she handed me and our family with her actions of infidelity. And before this, I never really did this shit to her. At that point?! I was much closer to thinking all is fair in love and war. And it felt like I was somewhere between love and war at that point.

    And the fact that she took a picture of that book in a bookstore was a confirmation in my mind that she was continuing her selfish line of thoughts. Look! I’m having an affair, and this nitwit Perel seems to be saying it’s ok! Look at me! I’m so sophisticated!

    So much better off now that I found LACGAL, CL and CN. I found my tribe, and I mean that in the best possible way. Hope everyone in CN is having the best weekend they can have. Lots of love, everybody.😊

  • Worst reconciliation advice from our MC was that it was better that I didn’t ask for all the details of his affair because it would make it harder for me to reconcile. “Did I want the details rolling around in my head?” MC said. “Think about what your really need to know”, MC said. So I didn’t ask. 10 years later he blindsided me and left for someone else. Hindsight – my not asking him for details not only enabled him to sidestep seeing and experiencing (if a narcissist could feel), the devastation the details of his affair would have caused me, but also kept a wall between us because he was still, in effect, lying by omission. So, it was easier for him to slide right into another affair because he was already living a double life and still lying to me by not having to disclose facts about his previous affair. I was like a lamb led to slaughter by this counselor.

  • I was in a group where one person orchestrated us to read and practice a book about being a Help Meet.
    It was the first one in the trash.
    “Is there anything I can do to make you day easier?” Etc. he did a great job of making his life easier while making mine miserable and chaotic while not giving two fucks about us. Never in 33 ys did he offer to pick anything up for us, ask about our day, or do anything to help us. He offered once to help with groceries because someone was there. I declined without saying something snarky. If he was home he’d just stare as I struggled with getting things out or in with my hands full. He’d pay to have others do things he didn’t want to do. I’m sure he still does. He expects everyone to me his help meet. Entitled 100000%

    • Bleh, I can’t hear that term w/o thinking of the Duggars and all their creepyness.

  • I tried a ton of stuff. Read a bunch of books, watched EP videos and others. I joined an online community run by one of the big RIC organizations. I paid for their class. I invited my ex to attend their workshop (ex declined). It took me quite a bit of time and professional help from domestic violence experts and a therapist who has worked in that field for me to understand I was married to a deeply abusive spouse. I started reading books about that and finally began to fully understand. The online community I had joined IS DEFINITELY run like a cult. It took me a while to see that too. Run, run, run away from these groups. They teach people to doormat harder even in the face of abuse. If it’s not overt physical violence, they teach you that taking as much harm and abuse as you humanly can absorb is good and righteous –though they say they don’t encourage staying with abuse, they really DO as long as it’s not physical.🤮🤮🤮🤮🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️

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