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My Cheater Isn’t a ‘Bad’ Person

HopiumDear Chump Lady,

Do ALL cheaters suck? Like many others, I discovered my wife of 15 years, partner, soulmate, mother of my two beautiful children was having an affair. The weird thing is, its been 1.5 years since the initial D-Day, and she’s STILL seeing the affair partner. Even after I’ve confronted her, told her that I’m ready to give up, and even went as far as proposing we end it all with a divorce.

Everytime, she begged for forgiveness, told me that she made some wrong choices, and will never see the OM again. Yet here we are, I just discovered a couple days ago that she had another meeting with the AP and was doing something very friendly with him 🙁

Why do I keep giving her chances? I just can’t envision her as “sucking.” I’ve read your posts, all of them, on “trust that they suck“, but I just can’t do it. 15 years ago, I married this sweet, adorable girl that I love more than anything in this world. She had great moral values, had a Christian upbringing (!!!), and would never do anything wrong. We’ve been through hell and back together. She was great to my friends, to my family… we were so close… how can she be a bad person?

So I kept making excuses for her, like “Maybe he’s tempting her”, or “Maybe she’s trying to break it off but just needs time”, or “She’s made some bad choices, but now she sees the light”. But none of it computes — Why would such a sweet, kind and loving girl suck? My logic engine is falling apart…. there MUST be an explanation!!

Please help!

Hopeless Romantic


Dear Hopeless Romantic,

Your logic engine is falling apart because you’re not believing the evidence. You made a judgement — your wife is an adorable Christian with good values who would never do anything wrong. And the evidence is — she’s a run-of-the-mill cheater who lies through her teeth and doesn’t respect you.

The question isn’t what she is, it’s what you will tolerate.

You’ve made some baseless threats to divorce her, and she’s called your bluff. She did the kabuki theater of sorry, and has continued her affair. Because she doesn’t believe you. Because she’s willing to play this game of chicken with you — threatening your intact home life — to get what she wants — cake. Her affair(s) and you.

For whatever reason, you don’t want to be angry about that (i.e., conclude that she sucks). You’re still stuck in disbelief.

If you were writing to a different advice columnist, that person might suggest an open marriage. But that’d be lousy advice because the problem isn’t monogamy, the problem is her lousy character. All relationships — open or exclusive — require mutually agreed upon boundaries. And your wife has proven herself to be entitled — someone who unilaterally changes the rules of any agreement to benefit herself.

It sounds like you’d like the terms of the agreement you signed up for — a monogamous marriage. A wife who is wholly invested in you and your family. You don’t have that. You have a wife who is checked out, not sorry (her actions say that), and doing “friendly” things with her affair partner.

We only control ourselves. You cannot make your wife a better person. And even if she gets the proverbial character transplant, she’s still a person who cheated on you, and continued to cheat on you after you gave her the gift of reconciliation. You’ll never be able to trust her. And that’s some hellish mental gymnastics to live with. My suggestion is that you don’t live with it. Leave a cheater, gain a life. Call the divorce lawyer, and move on.

But Tracy, this letter is about ALL cheaters sucking. Are you going to address that?

I recently had a cheating wife ask me for unicorn-ing tips. Which letter I fed to the Universal Bullshit Translator. Her husband, by the way, recognized his wife and posted on the thread recently. He confronted her, she owned up to it.

“How can she be a bad person?” is wanting to believe in exceptionalism. Cheaters do this and chumps do this.  As chumps this thought is expressed as spackle — making excuses for cheaters. Unicorns don’t exist. You just have evidence of character and what you’re willing to tolerate.

The weird thing is, its been 1.5 years since the initial D-Day, and she’s STILL seeing the affair partner.

“Weird” is a weird word choice. Devastating. Shattering. Enraging. Even, if you read here, predictably. Second chances invariably lead to second D-Days. Or 14th. Without meaningful consequences, cheaters feel emboldened. And why would you want a partner who needs the threat of divorce to not abuse you? Fuck that shit.

Why do I keep giving her chances?

Because you’re being manipulated. That’s why no contact is essential, to keep you free from a cheater’s continual mindfuckery. You’re probably also afraid of starting over, or facing the wall of pain about how deceived you were. I outlined 5 things that keep people stuck with cheaters here.

I just can’t envision her as “sucking.”

Doesn’t matter. You can still feel love for a person and leave because you recognize that some love isn’t good for you.

It doesn’t take pure distilled hatred to leave a cheater, it takes the solid conviction that you don’t deserve abuse.

Do ALL cheaters suck?

A lot of great artists, U.S. presidents, musicians, national merit scholars, and church deacons are cheaters. The only realm in which you need to care about their infidelity is if you’re personally married to them.

If I need my gallbladder out, I don’t really care if my surgeon is a cheater. I want a skilled surgeon.

But if I’m looking at investing the next several decades of my life with someone — yes, their wandering dick matters to me.

Also, people who cheat in their personal lives may be dishonest in other facets of their life as well. Enough that I wouldn’t want them as my club treasurer. Everyone needs to do their due diligence and sort the wheat from the chaff in their own lives.

If you’re shallow, you’ll take sparkles over character. And that may be a fun ride for awhile. Until your wallet is missing.

What I think this question is asking though is — is there wiggle room? Could we make an exception on this suck thing?

Sure, MUCH LATER. After recompense. Therapy. Many years of good works. Selflessness. Charity. Apologies without expectations of forgiveness.

But any cheater who wants assurances NOW that they don’t suck? They suck.

So I kept making excuses for her, like “Maybe he’s tempting her”,

She has agency. She’s choosing to cheat.

“Maybe she’s trying to break it off but just needs time”

Typical cake stalling tactic. Breaking it off is breaking it off. We aren’t leaving Afghanistan here. Leave the slow, measured withdrawals for the U.N.

“She’s made some bad choices, but now she sees the light”

She doesn’t have an insight problem, she has a character problem.

She knows which way the light is, but it’s easier to deceive you in the dark.

Why would such a sweet, kind and loving girl suck?

Because she’s not sweet, kind or loving. She’s manipulative, cruel, and indifferent to your suffering. Ergo: she sucks.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • So how badly would she have to beat the emotional and psychological crap out of you for you to believe that she sucks?

      Someone who is cheating on you is beating the emotional and psychological crap out of you.

      If she were using a crowbar on you, what would you think?

      Her weapon of choice inflicts far more serious wounds because as you may have noticed, they are invisible wounds that make it easy to dismiss and deny.

      Physical injuries can be treated with medical intervention and leave the victim with the odd blessing of certainty that they have been assaulted.

      Her behavior does NOT fit the definition of SAFE and TRUSTWORTHY (the two non-negotiable rock bottom characteristics of a healthy relationship), nor is it Christian, kind, sweet, or any of the other positive qualities you have tragically and mistakenly assigned to her.

  • “…and even went as far as proposing we end it all with a divorce.”

    Oh, honey.

    Getting a divorce in this circumstance isn’t “as far as”. It’s normal and desirable and a good outcome.

    • I’m just so scared of making the wrong decision – What if all she needs is one more chance and I didn’t give it to her?

      • Have you asked for a post-nup? Get a divorce settlement squared away — a fair one. And ask her to give you this formal reassurance that she won’t cheat again. If she does, you have your property settlement and custody worked out in advance. She controls if she cheats again.

        If she balks at this — there’s your answer. She’s not sorry. Sorry is as sorry does.

        • I asked my fuckwit for a postnup and she accused me of trying to steal her house and cats. I was so stunned I tried to explain to her that it was to guarantee she wouldn’t cheat again. She actually said “I can’t do that.” I was still in so much shock that her response did not register for several weeks. It’s like the studies on people who lose their arms or legs but still think they are there because they feel pain. Turns out the pain is “phantom pain.” Maybe that’s what discovery is like, phantom marriage/love/caring. You know it is gone but you still feel the phantom pain. hmmmm

          • And there is your answer, “I can’t do that”. She is telling you she is going to cheat again (and again).

          • I asked for a postnup too and mine couldn’t give it to me either. Two months after we separated, he mentioned he had gone for another HIV test. I asked him why, and he said he was still seeing prostitutes unprotected. Last month (18 months later) I looked at my Blue Cross insurance to claim my son’s therapy sessions. My ex is still using my coverage for drugs, he has been prescribed medication for Herpes, HPV, Gonorrhea, sleeping pills and Viagra.

            Thank you CN and Tracy for the blog and daily advice. I have Left a Cheater and Gained a Life. I now have a wonderful boyfriend who respects me, values and cherishes me. I know my worth and my standards. Life is sooo much better on the other side.

            Good Luck to you Hopeless Romantic!

          • You asked for a pos nup. Cheaters are willing to keep their investment. Unfortunately the spouse isn’t an investment.
            The pain is real; so is Tuesday and Meh. Invest in that.

          • Phantom pain used as an emotional analogy. We like this. Please stay and comment more things like this!

      • I too faced this dilemma. My good, faithful, Christian wife was publicly cheating with a married man (and others), practically in front of my face. I even went as far as reseraching the antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications she was taking to see if these could have caused a personality change within her as she was combining them with copious amounts of alcohol several times a week. As far as I was concerned, that was the only explanation for, what appeared to me, as her sudden and drastic change in behavior.

        What I can tell you is this…

        After turning over every stone and digging up every clue, what I found is my former wife was this same horrible person before she met me. She acted differently around me, and it is my guess that her parents hoped that she had changed. But when she betrayed me, her parents not only recognized the version of their daughter who was a total stranger to me, but they also accepted her new relationship, proving to me the apple did not fall far from the tree. It has been five years since my divorce. My former wife is still with the same affair partner. He is now divorced as his wife found out about his cheating and filed. Even once I stopped looking, I still come across proof that my cheater was never the woman she pretended to be with me.

        My suggestion is to reread Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life, but this time do it so objectively. If you can blindly accept ChumpLady’s advice and look back over the events of your relationship and marriage to this woman, you may begin to see the signs that have always been there. That is what I did. LACGAL was the first resource I found that gave me a clear explanation of what I was facing, and it explained the sudden discard I experienced. It took looking back at my marriage from the outside, through a new perspective I gained having read LACGAL, for me to realize I had been subtly manipulated and abused for nearly 23 years, culminating in her affair and drastic change in behavior and personality.

        I am so sorry you are going through this, as well as for the difficult position in which she has placed you.

        • I am not a doctor, but my understanding for taking these medications is that you are not supposed to consume alcohol. I have a sister with depression and anxiety, I suspect bi-polar, and she drinks. Alcoholism runs in our family. None of the family members afflicted ever would admit they are an alcoholic. I believe it is safe to assume that this combination of chemicals is not going to produce a good outcome, for anyone. It is also possible for people with a character disorder to have symptoms of these type of illnesses. Underneath all of these problems is a person with a lot of anger and destructive tendencies, IMHO.
          Also, how do you define “good Christian”? IMHO, people do not have to be perfect, but they should follow their belief system. Can you imagine Christ want’s His followers to lie, cheat, steal, and abuse substances? He may forgive, but He will also say go forth and sin no more. You’ve already tried that tactic. You do not have to eternally forgive, and she has shown no evidence of change or remorse.

          We have the option and capacity to love ourselves enough to make healthy choices, and to treat others the way we want to be treated. We do not have to agree with their belief systems. We can keep a safe distance if they abuse us, and/or we consider them dangerous. You have been given ample evidence of who this woman is. Let yourself believe she sucks.

          • You can forgive in your heart and still file for divorce. That feels like a difficult challenge but perhaps the one that leads to the most peace of mind for someone on a Christian path. No options feel good while in the midst of the shitstorm.

            • I came to the conclusion that I do not believe in foregiveness. I believe in acceptance and moving on. I can’t foregive someone who lied to my face for our entire time together including our short marriage, ran away from home, and cheated on me with a boyfriend she was still involved with while we were together. I simply accept that she did to me what she does to everyone, I made a mistake and now it is time to move on. I do not forgive her at all.

        • My good, Christian husband also had a character problem. I refused to see it for the longest time until it was slapping me in the face. One of the leaders of our long-term church asked me who my husband was hanging out with after he took off to another state. At first I didn’t know, but soon I suspected. They weren’t exactly “church people.”

          Later, my divorce attorney (a religious man himself) asked if I had ever read the verse in the Bible that says, “Bad company corrupts good morals.” Of course, I Corinthians 15:33. We had been discussing some of the revelations from his attorney that confirmed my suspicions.

          My attorney suggested that my husband had chosen his companions, and so it was time to leave him to those companions. Boy, that shook me up. It wasn’t anything but a choice. He then related that he had been married for 40 years to his business partner (she ran the administrative side of his firm), and despite struggles and temptations, he knew that what he’d gain by cheating was nothing compared to keeping his marriage, family, his professional reputation, and his faith intact. So true.

        • XP Chump–

          I don’t blame you for researching side effects of certain meds because “radical personality change” has long been associated with a surprisingly long list of medications. I’m not a pharmacologist but learned more than I wanted to know about adverse events while working as a researcher for disability lawyers and environmental health publications (none related to Scientology or other purveyors of woo, btw). Adverse effects and biotech corruption is the place where science and politics collide and you can’t approach the politics of it without understanding the science.

          But what I’d previously learned as an advocate for survivors of domestic violence is that, generally speaking, abusers don’t abuse because they consume mind-altering substances; rather they imbibe in substances in order to abuse. This is also true of organized militant terrorists (as opposed to non-ideological crazies who attack random crowds of strangers). For instance, Anders Brievek, the Norwegian mass shooter, wrote in his diary about deliberately taking steroids and other drug cocktails in order to increase his aggression and snuff empathy in preparation for his attack on a summer camp. Batterers do the same thing as well as using being drunk or “out of their minds on drugs” as handy alibis.

          It can sometimes be difficult to figure out which is which and I would never want to lump innocent people who develop psychosis out of the blue due solely to drug reactions with abusers and terrorists who dose to amp up aggression and kill conscience. There have been been Congressional hearings on medication-induced suicide and violence and genuinely tragic cases of people without histories of violence or mental illness who suddenly committed horrific acts after taking certain drugs by pharmacy mistake. No one has yet figured out why some react this way or suddenly uncharacteristically develop, say, gambling addictions or other compulsions out of the blue (or kill their whole families and themselves). There’s no consistent association to preexisting cognitive disorders and it might boil down to a kind of “Samson’s hair” dynamic where otherwise benign immune polymorphisms in a minority of people interact badly with the wonders of modern chemistry. But here’s the rub: if– as you discovered about your ex– someone is already serially abusive and/or criminal prior to taking certain substances, it’s a safer bet to assume they came that way and that reaching for drugs/booze was intended to facilitate their ill-deeds, snuff conscience or act as a get-out-of-jail card (“Demon whisky/Vicodin made me do it, yer honor!”).

          FW in my situation only began drinking after he decided to hunt around in earnest for an AP (he knocked on several doors before finding anyone willing). Consequently it didn’t go over very well with me when he attempted to blame the cheating on his drinking. But I did agree that wearing beer goggles was probably necessary to stomach the crumbling mutant barfly he had the affair with lol.

          • HOC and XP Chump,
            If a person is bipolar but treated as a depressant and put on antidepressants the antidepressants will push them into a sustained manic state. Hypersexuality is associated with mania. FW’s NP did this and when I called to point this out her NP and supervising physician told me that hippa prevented them from talking to me. This was before DDay and we were very much married at that point, from my end obliviously.
            That being said the misdiagnosis and medication are not what caused her to cheat. It is a character flaw developed from an awful childhood.I don’t give her a pass because I also had a shitty childhood. She sucks

            • DrChump–

              You know the old story about two brothers raised by an abusive and criminal father. The one who ends up as a violent criminal says, “How could I have turned out any different considering the father I had?” The one who turns out ethical and upstanding says, “How could I have turned out any different considering the father I had?”

            • This happened to my STBXH too. His bipolar disease caused hypersexuality and he used that as a shield as to why he had to do other woman..he also told me his testosterone was high and at 61 he had to act on his compulsions. He started drinking saying that helped him cope. He did not want to hear about my pain at all. He wanted as many woman as possible and ended up with an online woman who is ready to marry him as soon as our divorce is final. And I held on to this waste of humanity thinking this
              Could not be true. It was.

          • What’s crazy is that a friend of mine and me, both had our Wives cheat on us AFTER they stopped taking their anti depressant medication. I am convinced these meds cause massive changes in people.

        • Thus was also true for me. Taking the big picture view, my STBXH had showed me who he was on and off 32 years. After the last horror show I went No Contact and finally saw him for who he really was. All along he was abusive and used me but then cycled back to the man I fell in love with. When I filed, the entire mask came off. It was chilling the man behind the mask. File and see what happens. It’s scary but it will convince you to RUN!

        • Oddly. Some of what you wrote happened to me. When my ex was on the run with her boyfriend her mother actually said “don’t worry, she’ll come back.” She hid her whereabouts from me, her children and her family even after she came home. When her boyfriend showed up at her house her mother acted like what my ex did was wrong but I needed to not over react and her mother tried to sweep everything under the rug. I learned more about my ex’s past AFTER she ran away. Her mother knew it was drugs. It’s hard to be older and meet older people. We all have lives lived and backgrounds. We’ve all done stupid shit we aren’t happy or proud of – and we all try to move on and be better people. The problem is when our history is really who we are as a person and we pretend it isn’t. Worse, everyone else pretends our history isn’t who we are either. Her family was at our wedding, watched us exchange vows (vows my ex picked), and closed their eyes hoping she’d be different this time leaving me clueless over the extent of the problems until it was too late. I ignored the red flags. Now I am trying to learn what the red flags are with everyone I meet. At my age this is a new hard experience.

      • Like many others here, I have given chance after chance to some deeply horrible people who are superficially charming, and the odds are just very high that they will not change. Ask my father if my mother changed after he gave her another chance. She lay low for a couple of years and then went right back to what she had been doing so that’s a nope. That’s a research project over 20 years for you.

        I saw an old boyfriend after nearly 20 years, he had not changed. It was great, as I had been blaming myself for his behaviour back then, but clearly I was not the problem! If I knew then what I know now, I would not be giving second chances to people who hurt other people.

        Let me save you 20 years. If they hurt you once, they will probably do it again. And if they do it to you, they will probably do it to the next person too, and the next. Kick them to the curb then let them demonstrate change of character and remorse over time if you must (I agree with what Chump Lady wrote after ‘much later’ above), but I bet they are not interested in something that takes effort and in fact are probably not capable of change.

      • I am sorry you’re dealing with this, but end it now, she lies and is using you. She will file eventually, and then you’ll get a crap deal out of it.

        Also, as a Christian you have every right to leave her. She is not serious about reconciliation, and sometimes reconciliation is to end the marriage and live in peace. You will not live in peace as all trust is gone.

        Lastly, check out divorce minister, he’s a great resource for Christian’s dealing with this.

      • HR,

        And how many more chances do you give her after the “one more chance,” when she’s already proven who she is? The best indicator of future behaviour is past behaviour, and you have all of the evidence that you need already.

        You need to understand this in terms of her having already given up on the marriage. This is not about you “giving up on her.”


      • She isn’t the woman you want her to be. I was with my FW for 20 years before his mask slipped. All our friends, families, everyone was totally shocked. He was a young childhood educator, and to all eyes he was the perfect family man.

        My shock at the extent of his cheating was devastating. But the best thing I did for me and my 3 year old was to get divorced, and get on with my life. My life is better, my child’s life is better, and my mental health is a million times better.

        The trust that she sucks means you need to realize, she isn’t what you married. You bought her mask. She had you, and likely many others, fooled. That hurts, but that doesn’t reflect badly on you. You trusted that she showed you her real self. But now you know that was a scam. There is no perfect wife to get back. And she knows you have seen her true colors and are still with her so no, she wont change.

        When my ex got engaged, to all outside the relationship it appeared he had changed for her. She kicked him out shortly after. They don’t change. Trust that. Find a better life, don’t hope that a road can become a princess.

      • “What if?!” is your fear and denial talking, not your reason.

        Why on earth giving her one more chance is going to result in anything different, instead of exactly the same thing she did with every other chance you’ve given her?

        • Exactly. “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result”. Giving ‘one more chance’ to these types is asking for another kick in the teeth. Charlie Brown, the football, and Lucy.

      • HR,
        It is a process one goes through, a slow painful process and it sucks. Very similar, if not exactly like, the 5 stages of grief as described by Elizabeth Kuebler- Ross because it is grief. Grieving for the death of a relationship and a person you thought you knew.
        Next week will be the 2 year anniversary of a blindsiding Dday. I thought I WAS married to the sweetest, nicest, Godly woman for 18 years (together for 21). She never admitted to anything but there was proof and she rushed to divorce which happened 10 months after dDAY. It has only been in the last 4 months that I realize she sucks. Yes, it has taken that long even with facts like she was cheating while I was going through cancer treatment. Time and Chumplady that have helped me get to this point. Especially posts like last Friday’s challenge about how it is always worse than you thought. No I am not at meh but I do know who she is now. HR you too will eventually come to this conclusion hopefully sooner rather than later.

      • You’re already making the wrong decision.
        Back in the old landline phone days, I dating a man whose ex-wife constantly interrupted his life by phone. She called when he was at work, out with colleagues, on a date, on Christmas morning. She actually showed up when we went on a weekend getaway. His counselor told him that if the phone rang 72 times (her record) and he picked it up on ring #73, all he was doing was teaching her to let the phone ring at least 73 times.

        That’s you. You’ve taught her that there is always ONE MORE CHANCE for her to cheat because you are afraid you will quit one chance too soon. So the number of chances she gets is always X + 1. So why would she think you would ever leave or file for divorce? That should not be a negotiation. What are YOU willing to tolerate? Are you willing to be the afterthought?

      • How many chances does she need? Like, give us a number. 5? 10? 50?

        Let each and every one of us who “gave one more chance” just ended up having “just one more D-day.”

        Seriously though how many?

      • Hopeless,

        You did give her a chance and look what she did with it. She used it to keep doing what she was doing.

        It’s not like she’s shooting hoops in a basketball game.

        What she is doing is deliberate, intentional, and what NOT to do is not a mystery or like target shooting.

        Know that if you stay, suspicion will become a permanent member of the family.

        It takes a lot of cruelty and a lack of empathy to cheat. She used your marriage certificate for toilet paper.

        I have been reading here for five years and because of the universal experiences shared here of finding out that cheating continued, decided not to gamble with any more of my life which I can never get back.

        Most importantly, I do not want to model dysfunctional crazy sick relationships to my child.

        Children learn by modeling.

      • Friend, I’m sorry this is happening to you but how many ‘one more chances’ has she got and not taken. We’ve all been there hoping but sometimes you have to listen to the wisdom of crowds here. We have all gone through this. She keeps showing you who she is, and you keep believing she’s not who she shows she is. She’s lost nothing stringing you along because she knows she can and you’ll accept it out of fear. Do you feel better when she’s sleeping with her side lover, feel a bit safer when she comes home afterwards? Feel like your with your life partner who has your back? Or the person who would easily stab you in the back?

        It sucks, it will be horrible for a while but then you find peace and maybe someone who would be terrified of letting you go rather than the other way around. You need to come to terms with reality. She does what she does because she can and get away with it and look great being ‘good person’ to everyone while you die inside. Actions have consequences. Learn from the wisdom of the crowd here. I did and didn’t look back.

      • She does not need another chance. She is a full grown adult who has decided not to adult. Abuse never gets better. It always gets worst. Please HR , give that chance to yourself and your kids. Model safety first. She is not interested in being your wife. But she is invested in you staying her husband. That’s how abuse works. Good luck.

      • That’s the hopium talking. Put down the pipe and walk away. You need fresh air and a better perspective on what she’s doing to you and your family w/her infidelity. And it’s not good.

    • The word “proposing” is very telling–as if Hopeless Romantic thinks what happens in the marriage is a negotiation between him (faithful husband) and the cheating wife. You can’t negotiate with someone who is actively abusing you.

  • The more I heal, the more 2X4s I seem to add to my collection. In every arena. I have little patience for victims staying put and asking chumps to accept their waffling decision. As a chump I can understand it, but preaching acceptance is not okay with me anymore. Too many of us wasted years.

    Is “waffle” the chump’s version of “cake” ?

    • I should explain that I was influenced by this past weekend’s post on how much worse the cheater’s behavior turned out to be. Our society does so much to minimize the consequences for cheaters and so little to provide chumps with a dignified and safe exit.

    • It has taken me many years to recognize and understand my boundary when giving 2x4s. It has helped my patience and sanity to see where I end and the chump begins. Fool me once…

      Could “spackle” be the chump version of cake?

      • Spackle covers up the scrofulous tumour, but you have to keep doing it, because the poison keeps leaking out of the wall.

    • I like where you’re going with “waffle” but it needs a pejorative because waffles, like cake, imply a tasty treat. Maybe soggy waffles? As in, if you keep waffling on leaving your FW, you’ll be eating soggy waffles for the rest of your life.

    • You are NOT a victim after you know about being cheated on and you keep giving them chances. You are a volunteeer and sadly do not deserve sympathy. I understand this yes, but I do not feel sorry for you.

  • Romantic,

    Your Christian, incapable-of-sucking wife seems to me to be one of many shallow human beings for whom religion is not to be practiced, it is to be professed. To make them look good? Accepted in their community? I don’t care. For me it is not good enough. Please don’t let her sad sausage act fool you. I bet she has pushed the all the charm and self pity buttons of the manipulatiuon machine, but just wait for the rage button… You sound young. Get out now and give your children good values!

    • I’m a strong believer of the saying “our upbringing defines us”. My parents taught me certain basic values, and that defines me as a human being. Its not even possible for me to go against these teachings because that wouldn’t be me. Similarly for her, to be brought up as a Christian there are certain things that you simply shouldn’t be “able” to do… that’s why I’m struggling, I just can’t understand what’s going on.

      • Leaving a cheater puts a conscientious person in conflict with their values. You might feel like you’re not a quitter, that she deserves chances because she’s “sorry” (her actions don’t say sorry). But realize that she’s weaponizing your values to benefit herself. You do not have to honor a broken agreement and you are allowed to have deal breakers. You might find a helpful resource if you have an evangelical Christian background. I’m a lapsed Methodist with a potty mouth.

          • My ex became a fundmentalist Christian 15 years after we divorced as a means to cope (what do you call publicly saying you’re sorry) with something horrific he had done. He then fell in love with the church secretary. I never thought they’d get permission to marry from their pastor given his history of adultery. The church was okay with divorce, just not okay with marrying a second person if you had committed adultery. Turns out he told the pastor I was the adulterer. That cleared the path to him getting the permission he needed.

      • Take it from someone raised in a dramatically evangelical church – you may not be able to go against the teachings you were raised with, but that is far more unusual than you are understanding. A whole lot of people are raised with Christian teachings and values and pretty much just pay them lip service while doing whatever they want.

        I was similarly someone who took these things to heart and did my best to live up to them. I quickly found that many of the evangelical sorts I was around were utter hypocrites. A few were genuine seekers, of course. But they were fewer than I imagined when over time I learned what people were doing every day other than Sunday. And the people who weren’t even trying to keep up such an act? They were routinely omitting and editing things because they feared I would be judgemental, or “not understand.”

        My FW? She attended an evangelical church. She also hid from me a past and a present that were like one of those 1970s French “coming of age” films. Earnest seekers and people of faith may not understand living this way, but understanding it isn’t necessary to accepting it. A lot of people live for pleasure and self, and they may feel a little bad about it, but they just keep moving.

        The why of it is something to puzzle out later. The fact is that you have a cheater on your hands. You can live with that in your life, or you can gain a life without that horrible emotional devastation. It’s a central premise of Christianity that everyone’s a sinner. So really, there’s most of your answer. It’s just that a lot of people don’t care if they’re sinners, even though they go to church. She’s got all the outward moves down, but no matter why, she keeps making these choices.

        Time for you to get away from that and get the life you deserve. Find yourself a partner whose actions match the beliefs they profess.

        • As I read your comments AaB, I’m finding a peculiar sense of comfort and reassurance.

          I was raised in a “holidays, weddings, and funerals” Catholic family and at age 28 finally came out as an agnostic. I don’t carry that status as a badge of honor, but I also don’t back down from a discussion — indeed, some of my favorite moments occur when someone comes to my door offering some truth that will supposedly help show me the way.

          What I find reassuring is that, despite our surface spiritual differences, we (and most others here, I would assume) have in common the very best hope for ourselves and for humanity in general: a demonstrable living of life with high premium placed on honesty, integrity, honor, and genuine good will; with zero tolerance for deceit, avarice, entitlement, and hypocrisy.

          On that basis, I suspect we have far more in common than I might have with many of my fellow non-believers. There’s a lesson there that I wish the world could learn.

          • As Sir Thomas More says in “A Man for All Seasons”:

            “If we lived in a state where virtue was profitable, common sense would make us saintly. But since we see that avarice, anger, pride, and stupidity commonly profit far beyond charity, modesty, justice, and thought, perhaps we must stand fast a little – even at the risk of being heroes.”

          • Very glad to hear that! I consider myself rather an agnostic as well. But I was recently intrigued when someone of faith I know said I was one of the “most Christian” people she knew. I guess I keep on with the same way of being, despite a lack of the certainty so many people profess.

        • My ex sat in the back of the church every Sunday all shiny in his uniform, (on the days he was on duty). Of course I had no idea he had crawled out of his whores bed the night before.

          Had a lot of folks hoodwinked, until the house of cards fell.

          I believe most folks in that church including me were honest and to the best of their ability lived the truth, but some don’t.

          Quite frankly I think once our preacher found out he was sickened by him, and made no bones about speaking clearly to him about his actions. Preacher was especially ticked off that he had brought his whore to church, just before it all came out.

          I still don’t know what the heck he was thinking. My memories have faded a bit, but I remember something about the preacher telling me, he (fw) had lied to him, and it had something to do with bringing whore to church. (Of course the preacher didn’t call her a whore, that is all me).

          All this happened within a weeks span, so it all came tumbling down quick. Someone had called in an ethics complaint and the wheels came off that nasty wagon.

      • My XW was a classic Jesus Cheater. Her dad was head of the board of deacons and her brother a Baptist pastor. He married us. But she would have a sex fest at a cheap motel and go to church with AP in the morning. Reading Christian marriage books together was their other favorite pastime. Then it was back to work as a First Grade teacher.
        I had a really tough time letting go of the sweet, beautiful girl I married. Even after digging up her clandestine behavior. I had hopes she would come back to her senses with time. But like last weeks CL post, it was just the tip of the iceberg. More sex with other co-workers, financial schemes and manipulating our kids to facilitate her escapades.
        There is always more.
        Please also consider the example that is being set for your children. What are they being taught to accept as normal? Please don’t let it be a father that gets walked over like a rug instead of one that invests in healthy relationships.
        Divorce Minister is a great resource. I go way back with him and he has a firm grip on the realities of divorce in Christian culture. Another great resource is Gretchen Baskerville and her book and Facebook group, “Life Saving Divorce”. Her work is carefully researched and she draws from a long experience. Chump Lady is listed as recommended reading.
        I am many years on the other side of divorcing a cheater. Life is only going to get worse until you cut out the cancer. Then you can heal and build a life for yourself and your kids.

      • That strong belief is a way for you to avoid making scary decisions. If we are defined by our upbringing then there’s nothing you can do to change it, so there’s no point even trying.

        (And in fact our upbringing doesn’t define us. If you’re a Christian then believing that people can change is fundamental to your faith!)

        Take a hard look at the excuses you’re making for inertia.

      • Christian or not, as a decent human being you are not able to hurt a loving spouse this way, over and over. Conclusion; she’s not a decent human being.
        It’s got nothing to do with religion. There are lots of staggeringly bad religious people.

      • HR, my upbringing absolutely does not define me. I was raised by alcoholic, racist, misogynistic parents. I am none of those things. Sometimes your upbringing doesn’t matter at all. It is absolutely possible (and sometimes preferable) to be the opposite of your parents. Just because she was raised with what you deem good values doesn’t mean she practices them. She’s certainly shown you that she doesn’t. You need to open your eyes to what she’s actually doing and stop blowing hopium smoke in her direction. She doesn’t deserve you.

        • THIS THIS THIS !!!
          We are absolutely NOT defined by our upbringing. HR, the harder you hang onto these fixed beliefs about “how people are,” the more blind you will become. You have an opportunity here to be defined not by your upbringing but by your own courage, self-respect, and breakthroughs.

        • My ex was raised in a very religious (Christian) home. He seemed to believe people learn morals from their religion. He made this argument as he climbed on top of his moral high horse.

          Turn out that shitty, entitled character trumps all the moral teachings you get from whatever church you belong to.

      • I had to work through the same mental blocks you’re describing and the answer that I found in the middle of yet another tear-filled night of angry desperate prayer, is that staying married to the cheating dumbass was actually destroying my faith in God.

        God had to remove him from my life in order for me to grow as a person, as a parent, in faith. It hurt like all hell and I was shattered BUT it was critically necessary. I can see that now and understand that oh yeah, I really did need to divorce that asshat.

        You can do the hard things, the scary things, the necessary things to divorce the cheating fuckwit. You can. Really. There is SO MUCH MORE life and light beyond this current shit you’re in right now. You got this. One step at a time and then you’ll be free.

      • And sometimes the values just don’t take. The religious upbringing can also create a heart of rebellion. You really can’t do much to change what’s in her heart and mind! She wants to date. We’ve most of us had that same experience! Protect yourself, don’t throw away your years, love, and effort on a woman who hurts you.
        I’m always baffled as to where they find the time! When I had young kids, there was soooo much to do, and not enough hours in the day. I guess they steal time from the family, or have a lot of quickies 😕

        • I do most of the house work and take care of the kids… On D-Day 1 when she left she claimed that the reason was because I didn’t appreciate her enough… So I’m trying harder now

          • Here’s the thing, HR: nothing will EVER be enough. You can try as hard as you want. It won’t change anything. I tried so hard for so long, thinking, like you, that if I just tried harder it would change things. But it won’t. Because you aren’t the reason she is cheating. SHE is. Nothing you did or didn’t do, nothing you try to do, will change her character. People like her are well known to move the goal posts. If you do the things she is complaining about, and do them perfectly, she will just find something else that you’re not doing and use that as an excuse. Ask me how I know.

            Nothing was ever good enough for my ex. I made him the center of my universe and he STILL complained that I didn’t “appreciate” him. I lost myself completely, and when he left me I was devastated. I didn’t even know who I was without him. Life felt empty, and scary, and hopeless. But I found myself again, I made a new life that makes the old life look like the nightmare it realy was. I nearly killed myself trying to make my marriage work, but my husband wasn’t interested in making it work, only in keeping me around because I was useful. Walk away. You have nothing to work with. There is no marriage, no partnership. I was loyal too. I didn’t want to give up on my husband because he had issues (abusive childhood, alcoholism, depression, illness), but it was destroying me to stay.

            Here’s a quote for you: Stop setting yourself on fire to keep someone else warm.

            You owe it to your kids to take care of YOU.

            It’s really hard to give up the idea of who we thought we married. My ex was such a good guy (I thought). Sweet, loving, responsible, fun, my best friend. But he wasn’t. He was never those things. He just put on a very good show for a long, long time. He acted that same loving way towards OW, while at the same time terrorizing and abusing me. He did whatever was most expedient for HIM. During the divorce he became even more vicious, even though he was “happy” with a new person. Once I stepped away and went no contact, he started abusing HER. Because he was an abusive person. OW was slavishly devoted to him and even that wasn’t enough for him.

            Grieve the woman you thought you knew, but GET OUT. You don’t have to stop loving her right away. But you can love someone and still protect yourself. You can love from a distance. In the end, once I had some time and physical separation, the love for my husband went away completely. You can’t get perspective when you’re in the thick of it, though.

            Beth Crowley’s music meant a lot to me when I was going through my divorce. Maybe it will speak to you too. Some bits below. (You might also check out “Here We Go Again”, “My Version of You”, “Perfect Doesn’t Last”, “You’re Exhausting”, and “Manipulated”)


            Don’t Think, Just Run by Beth Crowley

            You don’t know yet where you’re going
            If it’s better than where you are coming from
            Settle down
            This feels right somehow

            You meet twists and turns every corner
            But each step you take brings you closer
            To everything that’s achingly familiar

            And at the edges of your mind, your mind
            Something is whispering to go
            Into the unknown
            And see what you find

            So deep breath in
            You’re meant for this
            Everyone wants to know
            If you’re the answer they’ve been searching for

            All eyes on you
            So much to prove
            Whoever you were back then
            You won’t ever be again
            Remember how far you’ve come
            Don’t think just run

            You forced yourself to dig deeper
            When you redefined the impossible
            Can’t give in
            To the hopelessness

            Some rules are meant to be broken
            You won’t be confined by them anymore
            This might be your one chance at redemption

            It’s all or nothing
            Make your stand, your stand
            You reached the edge there is no choice
            Now you have to jump
            And see where you land

            There might be peace on the other side
            Your memories on the other side
            Nothing to lose on the other side

            You won’t be scared on the other side
            What might be there on the other side
            The world is new on the other side


            You think I want you, but you taught me well
            You’ll show me heaven, then put me through hell
            Sure the blame’s on me because I let you fool me more than once
            But I’m catching on
            I’m finally done

            Just cry your tears
            As you’re saying what you think I want to hear
            But there is one thing that I’ve learned over the years:
            That my faith in you has slowly disappeared

            Don’t act surprised
            You played the same hand one too many times
            When you convinced me that your heart could still be mine
            But you’re an ugly truth wrapped in beautiful lies

            Or “In Again”

            ‘Cause I know what will happen
            If I end up staying
            You never live up to
            My expectations
            So let’s just stop before this starts
            Can’t deny it’s for the best

            I see you and I foolishly
            Believe it will be like it was before, before
            Then I realize we don’t have
            Anything in common anymore, anymore
            We’re just two strangers with a history
            You still know how to get to me
            I can feel you trying to crawl under my skin
            But I won’t let you in again

            We used to imagine
            We could really be something
            I think I go back there
            Cause a part of me wants it
            But we made way too big a mess
            To ever start clean

            So I tell you it’s over
            You say that I’m lying
            Cause you still make my heart race
            Whenever you’re smiling
            But this is not a fairytale
            I’m not who I used to be

            I see you and I foolishly
            Believe it will be like it was before, before
            Then I realize we don’t have
            Anything in common anymore, anymore
            We’re just two strangers with a history
            You still know how to get to me
            I can feel you trying to crawl under my skin
            But I won’t let you in again

            I’ll admit that
            In my daydreams
            There’s a version
            Where you’re beside me
            Maybe I’m just a hopeless romantic
            Who still has hope


            You’re unsatisfied
            So you wave your mistakes right in front of my face like you think they’re mine
            You won’t take the blame but somehow still expect me to sympathize
            I can’t let you bring me down

            I’m not your savior
            I’m just trying to keep my head above the water
            I won’t sacrifice myself to make you stronger
            When I know you’d never do the same for me
            Save yourself and finally let me breathe

            You buried yourself so far in the ground
            I offered a hand to pull you back out
            But your misery just wanted company
            I’m not your savior
            I’m not your savior
            No, not this time

          • Those were the exact words of my cheater “you didn’t appreciate me enough”. Meanwhile he never appreciated me enough but I never cheated on him.
            Trust us when we say your cheater is just a normal run of the mill cheater.
            I know you’re hesitant to leave because you may be Christian. I’m Christian too and it’s okay to divorce if there’s adultery. Jesus himself said it. In the old testament God daid adultery is “evil”. Back in Moses’ time cheaters were stoned to death. Not saying we should kill cheaters or that they deserve to die but that’s how serious cheating is. A serious “crime” like that ought to be treated with consequences – divorce.
            I recommend also reading Divorce Minister’s blog – Chump Lady gave the web address in a previous comment.

          • Oh I’m so sorry. Mine said it was I didn’t wear skirts enough (I work in a garden centre and do yardwork for clients). There is NOTHING you did or didn’t do that justifies her choice to cheat.

            As a Christian, I found Dr. David E Clarke’s videos on YouTube and his books very helpful. You may also find them helpful.

          • So what’s in this crappy marriage for you? More work for a remorseless cheater.

      • I suppose that’s your privilege as a dude chump. There are a whole lot of women and children who end up physically abused or dead during the discard phase. Most recently, Angela Craig, wife and mother of four, was killed by her husband lacing her protein shakes with arsenic. He had a “porn addiction”, had cheated before, was running their business into the ground, was caught trying to poison her before, but despite all evidence that he sucked, she wasn’t a quitter, wasn’t going to give up on her marriage. She was sending him sweet and loving texts from intensive care. She was dying and he flew his affair partner in from out of state to read Bible verses in the family home.

        Women are less likely to choose violence, but it’s a non-zero number that do.

      • In a perfect world, this would be true. But we live in the real world where people lie, cheat, and hurt each other on purpose because they like to do it. You will never get answers to why, because the reason is always because that is what they want. There is no other reason and she sees that you will accept this arrangement despite the pain it causes you. She enjoys this. She enjoys hurting you. That is who she is.

      • I mean, my friend’s ex wife carried on an affair with Youth Pastor of their church. And when she ended up leaving him for the AP, the church supported the cheaters. This isnt uncommon. Self professing that one is a good Christian is not any guarantee that they are a good person or Christian. That is why they suck.

      • You are projecting your values onto your wife (I made the same mistake). Unfortunately, there are awful people out there, capable of saying the same things we say, but they don’t mean it. They don’t care if they upset people to get what they want. I heard time and time again that my ex “loved” me. Turns out, his definition of love isn’t close to mine.

      • There’s a lot of worldly evidence that people’s upbringing does not necessarily define them. People are raised in cults and then leave them. I was raised in a conservative Republican (1950s era) Protestant working class rural home and now I’m a progressive Democrat Catholic suburbanite. Many German “Christians” embraced Hitler. People grow and change. And there is a lot of evidence that very famous “Christians” lie, cheat, and manipulate others (see every preacher caught having affairs).

        So I don’t think our upbringing defines us. If that were true, I would be an alcoholic and abusive narcissist. We have free will. We go out in the world and learn new things. Others go out in the world and discover CAKE and the momentary thrills of self-indulgence and entitlement. You see 2 kids raised together and one ends up in prison.

      • Hopeless Romantic, you’re a believer and your wife is not; she’s a poser with “faith” that is skin-deep at best. I was fooled too, for 28 years, and I fought that admission for another five. Took me the half life of the relationship to fully recover my happy self (the deep joy never left me, but I was aware that my life sucked. I thought that if I just tried hard enough, everything would come right. But as with faith, the real trick is – just letting go, and letting God handle it. You’re not alone. Chump nation is with you, but – so much more – is your God.

      • HR, there are plenty of Jesus cheaters around. CL has quite a few posts about them. Read them. Doesn’t God despise hypocrites? Didn’t Christ tell the adulterous woman to “Go, and sin no more“? That’s what she is, a hypocrite, by professing Christian values, and doing the exact opposite. And she’ll continue to do it. You need to start levelling actual consequences.

      • I hate that attitude so much. That’s the belief that I’m trashy because i didn’t have good parents and had a rough childhood. But your wife is a good person only because she had good parents even though she’s a disgusting abusive slut who gets off on cucking you.

        Sorry, i have no sympathy. I’m so tired of that belief. You are your upbringing… how’s that working out for you buddy? Maybe start believing in personal accountability instead of giving people a pass based on who their parents are. That will work better for you. But what do i know? My parents were addicts so I’m just scum anyways.

      • If they are capable of doing it, they are capable of doing it. She is able to lie right to your face, conspire with another person against you, and disregard your wellbeing physically and emotionally

        You cannot make a silk purse out of sow’s ear

        But only you know it you are ‘done’

      • You know what’s going on but chose to live in denial. All that’s going to get you is more of what you’ve been getting.

  • Hopeless Romantic, There is nothing to work with here. She knows that you know and continues the affair. That is CAKE!!! She is not a good person, she is a cake eater and you are Plan B. You are an appliance nothing more and nothing less.
    Yes, it hurts because you invested, you put your heart and soul into this and she did not. It is gonna hurt for a good while but please get out of this because you should not waste your time with some who constantly lies to you. There is nothing to work with. Can you really trust this person? Put down the hopium pipe and get a good lawyer. Get a great settlement that you will be happy with (Note: she is a cheater so she won’t spend time with the kids like you would think she would). Work on yourself and then go out there and find the person who is worth your investment.
    You will be happier, your kids will be happier with a better model for a healthy relationship and your life will improve (yeah it takes a while but it gets better).
    Stay here and the CL and CN will support you. Trust that she sucks.

  • HR, her actions do not match her words. Every chump here once loved a cheater; we believed it was reciprocal.

    A cheater thinks not of her husband or children. Her investment is a shallow attachment of needs. She needs a home and the illusion of being a good person. This is what you provide, image management.

    It’s a reslstinshio of use, nothing more.

  • Am I reading this correctly. Hopeless romantic is actually the cheating wife? If so, that’s a whole other level of psycho – sick manipulation. Wow.

    • I’m not… I understand the skepticism, its sad but I’ve chose not to disclose this to any friends or family because I want to protect her and still give this family a chance. But keeping it all inside its quite frankly killing me inside…

      • HR — don’t keep it inside. Please tell someone in your life. This isn’t fair to you. And if she’s really sorry it should hold up against disclosure. This isn’t your shame to wear.

      • Don’t keep it all inside. Start telling people. Maybe you don’t need to tell anyone and everyone who knows her, but you need to tell a few select people who are most likely to support you. She will claim you are the one betraying her by doing so, but that is just more of the mind fuck. She thinks she is the only one whose feelings matter but your feelings matter too and you need a support network to help you through this difficult time. To get that, you need to start telling people so they can support you. Some may not care, but others will. You need to find out who those people are. Don’t go through this alone. Also, once you start telling people you may be surprised when they start validating your feelings of betrayal. Yes, it is shocking. Yes she is doing things she shouldn’t. Yes you have every right to be angry. No, it isn’t your fault. It isn’t just that she sucks, it’s that you don’t suck. She doesn’t appreciate or deserve you. You need that validation. You need to tell.

      • How long was this going on before you found out a year and a half ago? How long has she known this person? Remember, you may only have seen the tip of the iceberg.

      • HR, stop keeping her secrets. She’s banking on your covering for her because she sucks and you don’t. Take CL’s advice — try to get a post-nup, and then you’ll see. I’m sorry you’re here. But Chump Nation is behind you all the way.

      • HR. the former husband called the marriage counselor, asked for 2 weeks for AP to find another job, invited me to babysit them at office until then.
        Yet he still kept coming up with reasons why she couldn’t be fired. She had kept all texts, she could sue for sexual harassment, how? I’d seen text from her too “ I feel so safe when I’m with you”….

        Then it was she can claim racial discrimination (she is racially mixed). Florida is an at will state, there doesn’t have to be a reason. Plus office was small. Many employment rules don’t apply.

        Then he needed the right time to fire her, then her Mommy came to office to talk to him about promises made

        He came home, I met him at door with his suitcase and told him to 😡 GTFO. He was out for 3 weeks, then he fired her, I caved and let him back in. Worst Christmas ever, after Christmas I was on my way to office to help out , he calls me from office, says he needs her back in office until he can find someone.

        My power surged, I paid my retainer to the lawyer I had consulted, based on advice from LACGAL book and filed in January. Nothing to work with….

        HR take your power back.

        • Good for you Sandyfeet!
          Wreckonciliation is the most painful (and embarrassing) thing! I told myself it can take 7 tries to leave an abuser, so I forgive myself.

          • Thanks. My adult children said they could hardly look at him. AP younger than all of them. They were done with me had I not filed (I found out later, we had also had an unsuccessful intervention for his pill habit) adult children haven’t seen him in 4 years. His loss they and grandchildren are fabulous

      • HR, you’re on the road I traveled for 14 years. It’s long and sad until the day you say no to the reindeer games. If you’re not ready, keep reading here as I have for perspective & the voices of those who will guide your way. It’s 6 months since he was told to leave and I am free. When you are ready, when you read here enough, you’ll open that door too.

      • I don’t have time for a long comment, but I did that too. The worst choice I ever made. Why should the truth be hidden? It makes you a liar or complicit in a lie. I was so worried about the difference between gossip and airing dirty laundry and the family never being able to look at him the same way when we reconciled. Turned out they all suspected and had their own concerns as well. This is not your burden to shoulder – speak your truth. Get insights from people who know you in real life. Find a tribe.
        Come back often.

      • Dear HR – only one of you is trying to protect the family. It’s not your wife. You do need to speak to someone. It’s harder to go down rabbit holes if you have someone to talk to, especially if they carry the ever helpful 2×4 (that’s what it took for me). Wishing you the strength to get through this. Denial can be very strong.

      • I never told my kids and then their father died. Now it would be bad form to tell them as their dad isnt here to defend himself or tell his side. I now wish that I had told them in real time.

      • Why is it your job to help hide their affair? Don’t be afraid of her leaving you. Shes already gone.
        I’ve only seen one method that could work and that’s exposing to everyone all at once. Even then it’s a long shot.

    • Nope, he’s real. It was me that sowed the seeds of doubt after the whole cheating wife trolling episode.

      • I’ve read this blog for a long, long time but even I’m surprised at how far us chumps will go to try and fix or keep an irreparable marriage.

        There is zero to save here and yet he keeps on hoping the reality in front of him will somehow miraculously change.
        It won’t.

        Trust they suck. We are all telling you this to save you.

        How profoundly sad that this group has more concern for your sanity and future than your own “wife”.

        • Rebecca,

          “I’ve read this blog for a long, long time but even I’m surprised at how far us chumps will go to try and fix or keep an irreparable marriage.”

          You are so right. I went to great lengths to fix things before I finally accepted that there was nothing to work with and the status quo was NOT acceptable to me. It took 3 years. I am not proud that it took that long for me to stand up for myself, but it is what it is. I am just glad I eventually got there.

          I think for me, and maybe many others, the issue is that DDay just blindsides us. I have seen a few examples of chumps who were extremely mighty and they sprang into action immediately and got out asap once DDay hit. I admire their strength and think that is an amazing achievement for them. But they are rare. Many of us struggle for awhile to accept what is happening. Maybe not for 3 years like me, but still sometimes it takes time to get to that point. I was so shocked at first that I needed time to even be able to think straight. Then I was scared of what the future would hold, how I would survive in a very expensive state on one income. And then there was a lot of time where I kept hoping this would all just go away. I was so upset that my life was being upended against my will, so quite a bit of time was wasted just sort of wishing that we could start over. Eventually I realized there was no way to start over because the one thing that I knew from the get go was that I had no desire to spend the rest of my life worrying about whether he would do it again. And the way that he so brazenly got with this AP, and stayed with them for YEARS before I found out made it clear he could easily do it again. He TOLD me about her, or as we say, he told me the very tip of the iceberg, and the reason he told me was because he was planning to leave me for her. That ended up not working out for them. But the point is, if he had not told me, I am not sure that I ever would have found out.

          • SortOfOverit,
            I could have written this myself–I filed for divorce 2 1/2 years after Dday. I spent those years doing everything LAGAL said not to do out of paralyzing fear. But, in my gut I knew I would be miserable if I stayed in the marriage. I went gray rock 6 months ago after finding out more crap. Getting the distance and perspective has been instrumental in my healing process. My future is scary and uncertain, but for the first time in a very, very long time, I have hope and I believe in myself. The depression and anxiety that I had before going gray rock is significantly diminished.

            HR, if you read this, know that the only way out is through. Your “wife” sounds like she has sociopathic tendencies. She will tell you what you want to hear and behave how she thinks she should to keep you around, but it is for her own gain. Trust that she sucks. Don’t keep her secrets–tell trusted friends and family who will support you. Get a lawyer, protect yourself, protect your children, and get out.

  • She was having an affair. She was making a multitude of choices to violate her vows and your marriage that put her family life at risk. She didn’t care about you, your marriage or your kids. That so-called wonderful mother was taking time out from parenting to plot and carry out an affair, potentially splitting their home and their custody and their emotional stability.

    You found out, and it’s been 18 months. You wrote that, “Everytime, she begged for forgiveness, told me that she made some wrong choices, and will never see the OM again. Yet here we are, I just discovered a couple days ago that she had another meeting with the AP and was doing something very friendly with him.” Liars lie. Cheaters cheat.

    You wrote that, 15 years ago, “She HAD great moral values, HAD a Christian upbringing (!!!), and would NEVER do anything wrong. We’ve been through hell and back together. She was great to my friends, to my family… we were so close… how can she be a bad person?”

    It doesn’t matter how she could be bad, or even what she was. What matters now is what she is. She’s got terrible moral values and she’s modeling them to your kids. And you’re teaching them to roll over and take it when someone mistreats and betrays them. You says you went through hell and back, but apparently the trip wasn’t so bad for her–she’s perfectly happy going back to her affair partner and putting you though it again.

    You thought she was adorable, and you adored her. She’s an unrepentant cheater who doesn’t care if she hurts you or your kids. You asked, “Why would such a sweet, kind and loving girl suck? My logic engine is falling apart…. there MUST be an explanation!!” The explanation is that she is NOT a sweet kind and loving girl. Maybe she was 15 years ago, but now she is a selfish, self-centered woman who lies, cheats and deceives an adoring spouse, and callously puts her marriage and family at risk AGAIN. even after her spouse proposed divorce. Logically, you know you should divorce. When you move forward and stop living in the rosy past, you’ll see her for who she is, not for who you thought she was, if that was ever true.

  • So the cheating and lying wife is supposedly posing as the actual victim husband to get…free advice about how she’s not so bad? To get attention and tips on keeping the poor husband strung along? Oh, oh, I know! To get CENTRALITY and ATTENTION from the place that the chump went for support! How loving and supportive and helpful and rational and controlling and manipulative and fucked up is that? Did ya get what you needed to finish the job??

    • No, this post is from the chump. In her response, CL is referencing a prior post from a cheating wife — a different situation. That one did want centrality and attention.

  • Hopeless Romantic – In addition to the post-nup idea which will clarify your wife’s position, you need to be pulling together your support team in real life. Start with the lawyer, an individual therapist, a walking partner, a trusted family member.

    Yes, it feels like you’re being asked to jump out of a plane. That doesn’t mean you don’t put together the strongest parachute and safest landing place.

    And don’t ask her to help you. She doesn’t have your family’s best interest in mind.

    • This is essential advice. Hopeless Romantic, do not isolate yourself emotionally. You do need a support team! You don’t have to tell everyone. And it is actually a good thing to have people who love you and have your best interest at heart to confide in. I Can See Tuesday give you good options, but I hope you look a bit outside your religious orientation when you choose a therapist. You want someone who is an expert in healthy functioning psychologically and perhaps in recovering from trauma and abuse.

  • “Trust that they suck” was the sage advice that I resisted believing through 4 D-Days. Mr. Duplicity was a master manipulator who kept my head in the mind-fuck blender with an endless array of gaslighting, future faking and unpredictable cycles of psychological abuse and love-bombing. I chose to see only the “good” parts of his behaviour and to gloss over or outright dismiss his shitty behaviour.

    A few months before the final D-Day, I had a dream where I was doing a jigsaw puzzle (I love doing/have done dozens of them). In the dream the puzzle was nearly complete and I had only a few pieces left but none of them fit the openings. I eventually took a piece out from where I had initially put it and put it into one of the openings and the whole image shifted. Suddenly I could see the real picture. And, it was ugly.

    This dream was very literal (most of mine tend towards some cryptic code language) and, at the time, I did not attach it to Mr. Duplicity and my desperate attempts to believe that, deep down, he was a “good person” who would never purposefully hurt me. I kept trying to make sense of his actions and spackled and spackled. It was as if I was trying to balance a budget but, no matter how I tried, the numbers just didn’t add up even though I knew they should. I don’t know what caused my perspective to shift once-and-for-all but I do remember the moment (where I was, what I was doing, what I was wearing … ) when everything fell into place. Once I began to trust that he sucked, and that all his behaviour stemmed from his suckitude, everything made sense. The ‘budget’ balanced. The picture was crystal clear. And, it was very ugly.

    I walked out at 3 in the morning soon after this epiphany, changed my phone number, killed my email addresses and never spoke to him again (thankfully we were not married/no kids).

    Trust That They Suck + NO Contact = Beginning of Healing.

  • Geez, what an email. What else is there to say except that you are happily sharing your “adorable” wife with another man? At this point, either accept the situation as is (and let her cheat in peace), or pull the trigger and file for divorce.

  • There was a movie many years ago Looking For Mr Goodbar. It was based on a true story about a teacher, who was considered a very nice person, that walked on the wild side. The seedier the better. The men she picked up were folks you were not let in your house, but they evidently met some need in her and course one of them killed her. True story. Look it up.
    Your wife, the Christian caring wife, likes to walk on the wild side as well and this man meets all that. She’s not interested in divorce, because then it takes all the excitement away and she’s just left with a crummy relationship with a loser . You don’t need to ask questions, you need a divorce.

  • Thank you all for your support! What if she is also suffering from depression, or mental health issues because of this ordeal? Wouldn’t leaving her be not caring, and cruel? Shouldn’t I be there for her if she’s in need? I can’t stand the concept of hurting her……

    • Gently, I think you might be the one in need of counseling here. Your wife is just fine: she has her lover to fulfill her desires and fantasies, and her husband at home to make excuses for her. What more could a woman want?

      • Thank you for stating this so gently.
        Please read the first line of A’s comment several times over.

        As someone who has survived multiple stays in a psychiatric institution and has learned to survive with severe depression, I promise you her behavior has nothing to do with mental health. People who are truly depressed don’t w meet with affair partners. They can barely function.
        That is the truth.

    • She apparently doesn’t mind hurting you at all! What about YOUR mental health? Isn’t her cheating cruel?

      She is ABUSING you. She’s not in need at all. She is getting everything she wants. You are ripe for manipulation until you accept all of that. You will be manipulated into 10 or 20 more years of garbage — a future that is totally destroyed. Is that okay with you?

    • No, save yourself and your kids. She’s not depressed – she’s lacing character and there’s no drug for that.

    • And yet she doesn’t mind hurting you at all. Hmmm… HR, there should never be a D-Day, but if there is and you try to work through it, there should NEVER be a second one. You said she has prescriptions, tell her you’re going to her next appointment with her to ask the doctor if lying, cheating, and sneaking around are symptoms of the condition she’s being treated for. And insist on that post-nup. Don’t model this as acceptable behavior to your children.

    • HR, she is not depressed. One thing depression does is dull your sexual appetite. It also leaves you pretty inert.
      Even if she was depressed, if her own vile actions are the cause, it’s not your responsibility and you owe her nothing.

      Look, you’re in the bargaining stage of grief. That’s what all the what ifs are about, just you trying to find a reason why it’s not true.

    • You are not her keeper. She’s an adult. If she can make decisions that work for most of her life then she can make the decision to not cheat. She chooses the decision to cheat. Remember she has her own agenda, and your happiness is not it.

    • That’s your hopium speaking. You want some excuse, some valid reason, for her to have done all of this to you. The reason is that she feels entitled to. That’s it. She feels entitled to cheat on you and treat you like garbage. The question isn’t what should you do for her, the question is “Is this relationship acceptable to you?”. And you say “What if she is also suffering from depression, or mental health issues because of this ordeal?” Well, she CAUSED this mess. So any suffering is called “consequences”. My STBXFW is severely depressed now that the jig is up. Too bad. He’s the one who cheated and lied to me for decades (and make no mistake, yours will do the same. If you’re not already decades in then get out now before you’re old like me and 30 years have been wasted on a liar) so now he can reap the consequences. Don’t be me. Don’t have dozens of Ddays but still think that your cheater is a unicorn. Get out now. She’s not a unicorn. Unicorns don’t exist. She’s not some adorable little broken person that you need to fix, she’s a grown ass woman who is repeatedly cheating on you and treating you like shit. See her for who she truly is and not the romcom version of her you have in your hopium filled head.

    • Unless she is insane, and has no idea what she is doing or who she’s doing it with, then no, it doesn’t matter. You want to find a “reason” or an “excuse” that makes this workable. It doesn’t exist. My cheater had bipolar, and at some point after they continue to make these choices, and yes they are CHOICES, and their choices say they don’t give a crap about you. They care about one thing: themselves. There are tons of people with depression, bipolar, etc, and guess what? They don’t cheat. If this is how you want to live, keep going, but listen to those of that spent years “feeling sorry” for our cheaters, trying to get them help, listening to their crying and boo hooing about how they are going to change only to find they had zero intention of changing. Run fast, run far, run like she is trying to kill you, because she is.

    • That you can’t stand the concept of hurting her means that she is counting on that as a safe platform for continuing to hurt you. It’s not your job to be the martyr who sets his own well-being aside and enables her to continue sowing devastation all around. Your Christian upbringing may mean you want to “be Christ-like,” as people say. Being Christ-like doesn’t mean engaging in your own personal hellish martyrdom. Didn’t he do that part so you wouldn’t have to?

      You can forgive her and also divorce her. She’s not “in need” of your care while she devastates you (and, let’s face it, your kids, when they inevitably eventually find out). She’s in need of the thrill of transgression at your expense. If you want to truly help her, get away from her so that she can fix herself or not fix herself. Continuing to take this only means you’re enabling her cheating. She’s not going to stop unless something dramatic happens, like divorce. That’s the only way. And even then, she may not. But it’s not your battle to fight. Your job is to get yourself and your kids out of the orbit of a black hole she is in the grip of. It’s not yours to counter it, but to leave.

      • “If you want to truly help her, get away from her so that she can fix herself or not fix herself.”

        That’s a great point, AAB. The cheater has no reason to change if the chump continues making her life, and her cheating, so easy. The kindest thing we can actually do for cheaters is to provide the impetus for them to fix what is wrong with them. That won’t happen if he stays and keeps on allowing her the entitlement to do as she pleases.

      • I think the “enabling” idea is useful here. When we don’t levy any consequences for bad behavior (and I mean natural consequences, like ceasing to trust people who lie and cheat, like separating from someone who continues an affair for over a year), then people continue that bad behavior.

    • Yet she doesn’t mind hurting you at all. Even if she is suffering from a host of mental disorders, or a personality disorder it is abuse you and your kids. Self preservation and protecting you kids does not make you a bad person.

    • dear HR,

      i too thought that my X was in the midst of a mid-life crisis, had a brain tumour or some other physical problem that was causing him to act irrationally. nope. he’s missing an important part of a healthy individual–integrity. that’s it. he’s never had integrity. he will never have integrity. and don’t get me started on empathy.

      look at the evidence. make your decisions based on the evidence. your X is crying and saying all kinds of things. don’t pay attention to any of that. just look at what she does.

      i’m going to share something here that you need to grasp at some point–she gets off on hurting you. it gives her a kick. that is sick.

      you don’t deserve any of this, we all don’t deserve any of this, but here we are. typing our troubles on a website and trying to figure out what to do.

    • Yeah I had thought like that too. It wasn’t any of the above. Just x being who x is.

    • What if she’s actually under a spell from a wizard? What if she’s been replaced by an alien clone? What if it’s all an elaborate ruse because she’s actually a secret agent saving the world from certain doom and this is her cover story?

      If you really want to stay in denial about this, you can make up all sorts of reasons why her decision to cheat isn’t her fault and you just need to put up with it until things get better in some unknown future time. But back in reality, your wife’s a cheater and a liar, and the only thing you can change is whether she cheats on you, or you divorce her and she cheats on someone else.

    • Look up “co-dependency” and then find a therapist who can help you with it (after you talk to a good divorce lawyer). You ask how I know? You’ll find my photo next to the definition of “co-dependent.”

      • Yep, he’s acting like he doesn’t have any needs at all. That is not “romantic” or Christian, dude. It’s deeply unhealthy, and your kids will suffer for it.

    • If she is suffering from depression, it is because she is afraid of losing her cake. I strongly suspect manipulation, that she is playing the mental health issues to keep you dancing. If she threatens self-harm, you can call a mutual friend to take her to the hospital. YOU need to go No Contact, and, yes, that is going to hurt her. Consequences do have a way of biting.
      HR, you aren’t helping her by staying in the relationship. Instead, you are showing her that she can trample all over you, which she will continue doing. Figure out your boundaries, and enforce them.

    • Evidently she can “stand the concept of hurting [you]” and your kids, because she’s spent 18-months (at least) having an affair. Hurt, hurt, hurt after hurt.

      I fear you will fine excuse after excuse for staying with this unprincipled person.

    • HR I felt like you did. I was still in love with my husband so I gave a thought to letting him have his GF and going with the open marriage idea. I told him I’d think about it but I needed time and space. I also said I would honesty at all times. Well, about 2 days later he told me he was going to see a friend to give me that space. I wanted him to come back home after a few hours so I called but he wouldn’t pick up, so I called the friend. Yep, you guessed it- he wasn’t there! When he came home I asked him about it and he lied. That’s all it took to make me realize I couldn’t have an open relationship (I really didn’t want one anyway I was just trying to keep my husband). It broke my heart to kick him out after loving him for 25 years but he’s a lying liar who lies and he cared so little about me that I did finally realize that he really, truly sucks.It’s hard to believe that someone you love doesn’t care about you. But please protect yourself and show her you have boundaries. She won’t like it.

    • If she has mental health issues, including depression, her acting out may or may not be related to those issues, but the acting out is not the CAUSE of the depression or other disorder. I have a family member who puts up with all kinds of abuse from her partner, under the banner of “he’s depressed.” He may be, but it’s not a justification for his harmful behaviour. It doesn’t change her agency in choosing to be the one who absorbs all the impact of the bad mood / bad judgement. If you are not acting because you think she’ll implode, harm herself, etc., that means you’re allowing her emotional volatility to override your capacity to protect yourself. You’re responding to emotional manipulativeness rather than healthy assertion of needs and negotiation. Maybe you’ve not been exposed to healthier relating.

    • I think you so want to hear she is not in her right mind or is being manipulated by dark forces. She’s crazy like a fox and the only manipulator here is your wife. She is playing the victim while being the perpetrator. Your wife is not a nice person. Repeat, she is not a nice person. You are in agony, she refuses to give up her lover and continues to string you along. If you leave her, she might be pissed off, but don’t confuse being angry with being hurt.

    • The mistake you’re making here is in believing this is an ordeal FOR HER. It isn’t. It is for you; for her it’s cake.

    • What ordeal are you talking about? Yours, or hers? She’s not suffering anything, she’s got you exactly where she wants you, falling over yourself making excuses for her, whilst she happily fucks her man whore. Stop it, now. She’s not suffering from depression, depressed people don’t have the mental or physical energy to cheat. The only “mental health issue” she has is a gargantuan sense of entitlement, which you are feeding. You can’t ‘stand the concept of hurting her’. Doesn’t the realisation that it doesn’t give her a second’s thought to hurt you, give you pause? You’re making yourself a doormat, and for someone like her, she’ll keep wiping her shitty shoes on you, until you call a halt. You don’t want to believe she’s who she’s telling you she is. I get it, we all do, we’ve been there. But you need to grow a backbone, and stop disrespecting yourself. You also need to think about your children. They probably know a lot more than you think they do, and what you’re showing them is that someone can get away with vile behaviour and cruelty if they snivel a bit and say they’re sorry. (But she’s still doing it!) Didn’t Christ say to the woman taken in adultery, “Go, and sin no more ? He didn’t say, oh, you’ve said sorry, so just keep on fucking strange, and fucking your husband over. There’s a site called Divorce Minister – he’s a Christian, and can give you some really good advice, which doesn’t include allowing someone to shit on you and your kids from a great height. Listen to Chump Lady, listen to us, because we’ve been there, and listen to Divorce Minister. Hugs.xx

    • As a chump, I know that your suffering is far greater than hers. She has no love or empathy for you, why should you care about her suffering? If you enjoy torturing yourself and being abused, then, by all means, keep pursuing her. But if you want peace of mind, you have to let her go. She is a toxic person and, like me, you have been duped. There are far greener pastures out there for you.

    • Leaving her goes against every last hope and dream you had together. Yet it’s killing you. Often times we are unaware our spouse is an abuser or that they are capable of such harm.

      Your silence is taking responsibility for her actions. Cheaters have a ways of devaluing us to justify their actions. Please don’t blame yourself. We have no control over others.

      You’re here because you want support. Prior to finding CL I didn’t recognize it as abuse. We’ve all been through it and understand the pain. Staying doesn’t stop the pain; leaving does. Talk to your family or a good friend. Find a good therapist to help you through it. Talk some steps to detach.

    • HR,

      My best friend asked the same question: what about the “in sickness or in health” part of our vows?

      Well, sometimes spouses cannot be there for their sick spouse because it’s too dangerous for the healthy spouse.

      Would you criticize someone for staying out of the hospital room (per hospital policy and doctors orders) if their spouse had COVID? Would you say “friend, you’re a shitty husband for not busting through hospital security, sneaking up to her room and chaining yourself to her bed”?
      CL and CN are the doctors warning you to get out of the COVID wing of the hospital.

      Another metaphor: Being married to a FW is like having a gangrenous arm. If you don’t take action, eventually it will kill you.

      You can’t count on your arm to heal itself. If it’s too far advanced, gangrene can’t be treated.

      Does the gangrene hurt like hell? Yes. Will amputation be incredibly painful? Yes. Will you miss your arm desperately at first? Undoubtedly.

      But a gangrenous arm is useless anyway, and harmful and you’re guaranteed to die if you keep it.

  • Wow, so many wonderful things to say about your lying, cheating, manipulative wife, huh? Personally, I don’t think HR is a chump — I think he’s a cuckold. This is not a crime, I just think he emailed the wrong person. Maybe Esther Perel can advise him re: how his wife’s affair is actually making his marriage stronger? Or whatever her drivel is? All I know is, the wife in this picture is in love with her AP, she’s not giving him up for anything, she’s not really afraid of divorce, and the husband who emailed seems unable to do much about it. Well, what do you want any of us to do about it?

    • What we can do about it is to give him the benefit of our experiences, and a bit of empathy. He’s still stuck in the spiral of not really wanting to believe she’s a selfish, lying, manipulative bitch. Most of us have been there. And what,exactly, is the difference between a cuckold and a chump?

      • A cuckold is a disgusting pervert who enjoys other men screwing his wife. They will often cry while watching the other men screw their wife and the wife and other men will often insult them during and/or after the act. Then they’ll ask their wife to screw more men for them.

        It’s nothing like being a chump. It’s literally a perverted fetish they get off on.

        • According to Webster’s Dictionary, a cuckold is “a man whose wife is unfaithful”. Enjoying her infidelity is different and I would guess that most don’t enjoy it.

      • I worked on a short project with the wife of a self-professed cuckold when I lived in France years ago. The wife is a member of the Parisian intellectual elite and wrote a tell all about her libertine sexcapades as a young woman. Orgies, gang bangs and her rapey behavior towards other women. Well she’s aged out of opportunities and the tables have turned in her husband’s favor. The septuagenarian husband favors women from third world countries in their twenties. The title of Catherine’s second book ? “Jealousy”. In her mind what is good for the gander is not okay for the goose.

        Chumps can be immobilized with fear, disbelief or years of abuse. I was mocked at the dinner table one evening by the brother-in-law of the mother of the family for whom I worked as an au pair during my first year abroad because I didn’t know the word or meaning of cuckold in French,or English for that matter. Why would I as a young woman ? Maybe the brother-in-law was confessing something. And the sister-in-law/the mother was the much younger second wife of my charges’ father. Papa already had two daughters in their twenties.

    • I get pervert vibes from him. I think he’s just here to get off over talking about it.

    • B,
      Are you trying out “tough love” on the OP?

      Instead of guessing your intentions I thought I’d just ask.

      Did you mention cuckolding because he’s male and that can be a trigger for guys? Kind of like: “what are you, chicken? Man up and move on. No one will do this for you”?

  • “My logic engine is falling apart…. there MUST be an explanation!!”

    There IS an explanation!! It is … wait for it … she sucks. Sorry, but she does not have “great moral values.” She just doesn’t. Your unwillingness to accept that doesn’t change anything. She is abusing you. You can elect to deny that for the next 20 years, until she has completely decimated your confidence and finances and sanity, but it’s abuse nonetheless. And it’s happening. To YOU. Right NOW.

    • “You can elect to deny that for the next 20 years, until she has completely decimated your confidence and finances and sanity”

      Ain’t that the truth.

  • HR,

    You need to accept that within a marriage it will take both of you working to make it successful, and only one of you to destroy it. You are working on a team of one to try and fix things, while your wife has already shown quite clearly that she is out to destroy it. Also, seeing your comments above about whether your wife might be suffering from depression or a mental health condition, I would ask you “but what if she isn’t and, even if she is, why would make her behaviour somehow more acceptable?” Fundamentally, you need to stop looking for excuses for what she has done (and continues to do) and act to protect yourself and your children.


  • I’m baffled by this letter. Continuing to cheat is anything but “weird.” It’s normal… cheaters cheat and liars lie.

    Also, 2 years after Dday 1 with at least another Dday and he’s still saying she’s “sweet, kind, loving?” Why? This is a bizarre statement. She’s none of these. By definition, if she’s cheating, she’s nasty, cruel, hateful. Her words are fake.

    When people show us who they are by their actions …. Believe them. If you’re not ok with a lying cheating entitled wife, who is likely setting you up for financial abuse before she discards you, then hire a lawyer today. Get one that specializes in complex cases with knowledge of narcissistic abuse. File asap. Follow their advice to the letter. It will be rough but the pain is finite.

  • She hasn’t and won’t stop. You are in an “open” relationship without your consent. That’s not going to change. At this point, you can make three possible decisions with that information:

    Decide to accept it, stay for the kids/finances, and maybe consider dating other people yourself.
    Set yourself up financially by getting that post nup and then playing marriage police until you catch her again.
    File for divorce now.

    These options all suck as much as your wife but it is where you are.

  • I’m so sorry you’re going through this. Most of us here know EXACTLY how you’re feeling – and it fucking sucks.

    The mindfuck of infidelity includes being blindsided and totally deceived by someone who was supposed to love and care for you – yet they’ve been stabbing you in the back the whole time. Your sense of reality and safety is shattered. Absolutely soul crushing.

    The good news is that you do NOT have to continue to accept this ABUSE. And that’s exactly what infidelity is – ABUSE. Would you be so hesitant to leave if you found out she was poisoning you, or she was physically abusive? Because she actually has been doing those things – putting your physical, emotional, psychological health at risk by betraying you and fucking someone else.

    Divorce sucks. It’s scary and painful. But so is staying with someone who epically disrespects and mistreats you. Show your children what happens when people abuse us – WE LEAVE THEM. Would you counsel your children to stay with someone who abuses them? You got this…go see a lawyer TODAY and start on the road of your new life away from abuse. (((Hugs))).

  • It’s beyond obvious that she sucks. Anyone can say she is a Christian with great moral values. If she did have them once, she certainly doesn’t now. In fact, she continues to refuse to live those values, after being given multiple chances to reform.
    Worse still, she hurts you over and over. That’s beyond mere amorality and into the realm of criminality. She’s abusing you, just as surely as if she took a baseball bat to your kneecaps. Over and over she does this. She just does it in a way which, unfortunately, is legal. But abuse it most definitely is.

    HR, we all wanted to believe in what we were sold by our partners, but we all had to let it go. It isn’t real. These monsters can live a long time in the shadows, pretending to be normal, but once they discover how much cheating thrills them, they will return to it time after time. The monster is out of the shadows now and you’re still telling yourself you won’t get eaten, even as you’re being eaten. Put that thing on a diet!

    Do they all suck? Yes, to varying degrees. The least sucky ones are those who have a drunken one night stand, immediately feel terrible, and confess right away. There is some hope for them. Yours has been having a LTA for years, most likely for more years than you know, and she won’t stop. She knows exactly what she’s doing, and you really have no idea if this is her first and only affair partner. Don’t believe what she tells you about that either. Somebody that relentlessly slutty has usually done it before.

    Why do you keep on giving her chances? You don’t value yourself highly enough. You value her and the marriage too highly. No marriage, no woman, is worth this cost to your mental health. Maybe you need to see a secular therapist to help you through this (and not one who is a marriage counselor.) The folks at your church are likely to expect you to try to save the Titanic, even after it’s already on the ocean floor, covered in barnacles. Because it is, you know. There is nothing to save.
    Internalize that. The monster does not love you and will eventually devour you. Then, once you are so beaten down that you can barely get through the day anymore, she’ll leave you for an AP, claiming you aren’t any fun anymore. Yeah, they do that. Your sacrifices, your forgiveness, all the chances you give her, this is all just cake to her and nothing more meaningful than that. It does not buy you gratitude or affection, it only buys you more pain.

    • “Maybe you need to see a secular therapist to help you through this (and not one who is a marriage counselor.)”
      The point of seeing a therapist is figuring out what, exactly, is happening to you and how you can move forward. A secular therapist can help you “see around the corners” of the assumptions that have kept you in this situation. That’s not to say there’s anything wrong with being a Christian. It’s that many religious counselors are biased toward saving a marriage even if only one spouse is committed to it. It’s simply not possible to save a marriage when one of the spouses won’t leave an affair partner. Wishing will not make it so.

  • Dear HR – let’s focus on YOU, and not on your lying, cheating cheater. YOU don’t deserve abuse, which is what cheating is. YOU deserve honesty and transparency. YOU are experiencing what so many of us here have. Dr. Omar Minwalla talks a lot about the trauma the chump experiences throughout the cheater’s affair(s). More info here, if you are interested:

    The cheater in your life has shown that she will say one thing – to get you back to serving up cake – and immediately do another. That isn’t what you signed up for. That isn’t love, that is manipulation. While you are trying to figure out if you can save your mirage, she is busy pushing your boundaries – which further traumatizes you – and takes her cheating further underground.

    Regarding your children: I think that is the suckiest part of it. Divorce impacts them significantly, but so does having a lying, cheating parent who “gets away with it”. A surprising number of children know about a parent’s cheating, but keep their mouths shut. What kind of modeling is that for your kids? That cheating is OK as long as you don’t talk about it? That there are no consequences for it? That the chump should just suck it up and tolerate behavior that could put their life at risk? Would you be sympathetic to a cheating spouse of one of your kids? Or would you want that kid to kick the lying, cheating spouse to the curb? It’s tough, but being the very model of MIGHTY is the best thing for your kids. Show them the consequences of infidelity, and be the sane parent.

    I think we chumps, especially those new to this community, have difficulty accepting cheating as the ABUSE it is. Cheaters may not physically break our bones or leave us with black eyes, but I think we can all say the mental/psychological abuse is every bit as painful, and leaves scars which most people can’t see. HR, you don’t want your kids growing up thinking they should ever stay with an abuser. Of any type.

    • Also, double lives hurt kids even if they don’t consciously know. The cheater cannot be fully “there” for them OR the spouse.

  • I recognized my early-on self in some of what Hopeless Romantic has posted. Here’s what I learned: my husband was a convincing liar because he himself was convinced his own lies were true. Sounds to me like this wife is doing the same.

  • My cheaters were “Christain”, “cute”, “handsome”, “good” people too…..AND, they were all cheaters, liars, manipulators, gaslighting abusers. It’s called character and your “cute” “Christain” wife has shown you hers! RUN…..

  • You can get Zen and philosophical about your wife if you would like. What is good and bad but a societal and cultural construct? Is anyone truly good or bad? She is an amazing wonderful person who everyone loves, who just did something that blew up her childrens world. She is beautiful, helps others in need, but has an affair partner. She is friendly, polite, a good cook, soccer mom, kind, but spends time away from her kids to screw her AP. She can be all these things. She loves being all those things. The issue here is the kids. You are an adult. You will be ok. Shes blowing up the family. Thats her choice. She chooses AP over you and kids. Now you get to choose. You can stay until the kids are 18, look the other way, never bring it up, play pretend, be pleasant if you can, continue to suck it all up. She would love that. Or you get a divorce. But what you cant do is pretend you have a self-less monogamous wife who puts her kids first. Reality blows. She is who she is by her actions.

  • Hopeless romantic:
    I too was addicted to the potential of things.
    Finally got my thinking adjusted and realized x was a user, abuser, fraud to me our marriage and our family.
    I deserve better than who he is and what I was receiving from a two-timing std transmitting financial depleting esteem devaluing cheater.
    Took almost forty years. I suggest less time to get on with your valuable self and life.

  • Hopeless Romantic,

    “such a sweet, kind and loving girl” <– your comment here doesn’t say anything about who she is. But it says a lot about who you are. Someone who appreciates his wife, overlooks her shortcomings over and over, and invests in his relationship. If you can make it work with this cheater, you can make it work with anyone. There is someone out there for you, who thinks that you’re sweet, kind and loving, who wants to commit to you like you want to commit to them. Someone deserving of your love, who will care for you and make you happy. But you gotta leave your faker “wife” and go find them.

  • HR–I had the same issues with hope, and denial. I also held everything in and didn’t share because I believed him when he said he’d stop, and I didn’t want to air our dirty laundry with anyone if there was a chance we’d be able to work past it. I felt that the inevitable judgements (once other’s know) would be harmful and counterproductive.
    Plus, each time he killed me a little bit more by not stopping, more fear would be added to the pile and that alone became insanely paralyzing. In a sense, it felt EASIER for me to live in a disbelief bubble rather than face all the truly horrifying fears.

    Fast forward nearly a year and there I was, still hoping ‘things’ would change, knowing intellectually that it wouldn’t, yet largely living life as if my needs no longer mattered. That’s when I found CN, bought the book, and started understanding that it was OKAY to feel one way and act another. I had to learn how to let my head do the driving for a while until my heart began to catch up. So…I slowly, and secretly began getting my ducks in a row by telling myself that nothing I was doing couldn’t easily be UNDONE if he, and/or our situation changed. Naturally, it never did, so I kept going.

    Trusting that they suck isn’t something you can do while you are willingly in the throes of denial. BUT learning how to trust what your head is telling you, IS something you’re capable of doing simultaneously. HR, your gut already knows there is an air raid siren wailing, else you wouldn’t have taken the time to search out this site and write a letter asking for Tracy’s advice. LISTEN TO IT. If you can’t close the book yet, try a version of what I did–you can still hope AND take action to protect yourself. I promise if you do that, you WILL come to the point where fact will eventually override your need to cling to fiction. And when that happens, you will do like every single chump here has done and get yourself out. And we’ll be here for you when you do (if you join the FB/reddit CL groups for continued strength/support).

    (((hugs))) because this shit is hard.

  • As Maya Angelou famously said, “when people show you who they are, BELIEVE THEM.” Believe that she sucks, because she’s telling you through her lying, cheating, entitlement and gaslighting that SHE SUCKS. Your feelings matter zip. They are non-existent.

    The “Jekyll/Hyde” syndrome that so many of us have experienced with our cheater’s personality can disrupt one’s thinking (my mother used to call this “street angels, house devils.” They know what personality to use to suit the circumstance.) The following is a quote from the former wife of Gary Ridgway, the infamous “Green River” serial killer, who suffered trauma from this type of split reality:

    “I was in such denial,” she told ABC News’ Seattle station KOMO-TV.

    Until his confession, Judith stood by her husband, convinced that a mistake had been made. The Gary she knew was loving, gentle and considerate, and their life together was a full and happy one.

    Gary gave no clues to his secret life — there were no bursts of anger toward her or unexplained absences, Judith said.

    “He was always happy, he had a smile that would never change. He made me feel like a newlywed everyday,” Judith said.

    (As we know, he more than “sucked.”)

    And, once the cheater knows they can gaslight you and you either believe, or turn a blind eye to their lies, all bets are off. It’s as if they have a psychological limbo pole that they keep moving lower and lower, to see exactly just how much crap they can shovel down your naive throat.


    • “It’s as if they have a psychological limbo pole that they keep moving lower and lower, to see exactly just how much crap they can shovel down your naive throat.”


    • “And, once the cheater knows they can gaslight you and you either believe, or turn a blind eye to their lies, all bets are off. It’s as if they have a psychological limbo pole that they keep moving lower and lower, to see exactly just how much crap they can shovel down your naive throat.”

      That’s the worst of it. Coming to realize that there’s an element of true cruelty in all of this, no matter who you thought someone was before. I could not believe some of what I learned. There was such intentional, performative cruelty involved, that came down to FW and AP getting a thrill from interacting in the presence of their unaware chumped spouses. That’s the part I even now return to and have to work to comprehend.

      • Yep, my fw brought his whore into our house and introduced his employee to me. Both of them sat there knowing full well what they were doing.

        However, when I referred to our recent anniversary trip, she looked at me with a weird stare, I looked over at fw and he was sitting there in his chair with his eyes fixed on her. I should have figured it out then, but I spackled it in real time, (though back then the term spackle was not known to me) but when I found out my mind immediately went back to that day.

        My guess is his little plan didn’t include me spilling the beans about our anniversary trip. I am guessing that whore thought we had a dead bedroom.

      • “There was such intentional, performative cruelty involved, that came down to FW and AP getting a thrill from interacting in the presence of their unaware chumped spouses.”


    • Wonderful phrase, “street angels, house devils”. My ex fuckwit to a T. We could go to a party, he’d smile and be nice to everyone, then we’d come home and he’d punch me in the stomach because he saw some dust on the skirting board.👿👿

      • I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, Chumpnomore6. That’s horrific.

        But yes, “street angels, house devils”. FW could turn it on and off like a light switch. Verbally abuse me and scream at me the whole drive somewhere, and then IMMEDIATELY be all smiles and charm when we got there (while I would be shaking and nearly in tears, so I got a reputation for being anti-social, which FW then exploited to convince all his friends that there was something wrong with me). Or we’d be having a great time somewhere, and then walk in the house and he’d turn vicious and cruel. He never outright punched me, but he didn’t need to (my main trauma response is fawning). He had more subtle ways of hurting me. Mostly devastating verbal abuse. There were times I BEGGED him to just hit me if it would make his verbal abuse stop. It’s much harder to convince people of emotional abuse as there are no bruises to show. Not that he didn’t give me bruises too. He would regularly throw things at me, throw or flip furniture, punch walls, corner me and get up in my face and scream, raise his fist like he was going to hit me, destroy my belongings, push me so hard I fell, etc. But I convinced myself it wasn’t abuse because he didn’t, you know, ACTUALLY hit me.

        This ability to turn off the rage and turn on the charm is a big reason why I never called the cops. I had a feeling that he’d be able to smooth talk his way out of it and make me look crazy, and then once they left I’d have suffered even worse for embarrassing him.

        To this day, I don’t think there are many people who would believe FW was abusive. He was “such a great guy” in public. I had very little support from anyone. Fortunately the courts took me seriously, and I was able to avoid mediation (being stuck in a room with him) and also was able to have separate sessions for most of the custody evaluation.

        My overwhelming emotion on finding out he was dead, once I got over the initial shock, was RELIEF. Because now he can’t hurt me anymore.

  • HR,
    Want to add to the number of chumped guys responding here.

    So sorry this is happening…Its painful. **BUT THEN ITS NOT***

    Imagine being in a relationship who actually really appreciates all this care, patience and love you have. Like REALLY appreciates it. Like wakes up in the morning grateful to their bone that you are in their life. Imagine how fulfilling that would be.

    You have a person who is F*ng with this core part of you so they do whatever they want.

    I too was married to a “really nice person”. Everyone was surprised it was my XW who did what she did. “NOT HER!” they’d say.

    That was almost 6 years ago.
    So glad this happened to me (even though it did suck!).
    My life is SO MUCH BETTER…

  • Hopeless Romantic, you believe your wife is a “Christian”–when she lies, cheats, and manipulates you. Do you believe that someone who “had great moral values” would cheat on their spouse, expose them to STDs, risk the future of their children, and expose those children to a parent who is leading a double life?

    The spackle is very thick in your description of your wife and your marriage. You idealized this woman (your “soulmate”) and can’t seem to look at her BEHAVIOR rather than your version of her up on that pedestal. Look–you don’t have to divorce her. Ask for that post-nuptial agreement or tell her that she needs to get her own apartment because she’s still cheating. You don’t have to divorce her, although you absolutely must see a lawyer and find out what your options will be if you do divorce. You don’t want the affair partner raising your kids, right? There is zero guarantee that she won’t leave you–although it’s possible that she really loves having you to earn money and take care of the kids. Right now you are a convenience. She doesn’t want to split the family assets or lose custody of the kids.

    The smartest thing you can do for yourself and your kids is to decide what kind of marriage is acceptable to you, what kind of family life is acceptable for your kids? What kind of life do you want a year from now? What kind of marriage do you want your kids to see every day? You’re worried about the wrong thing. It’s not whether she needs one more change, times infinity, but whether you deserve a chance at a relationship where you are loved and respected.

  • HR,
    I think men, in particular, fall for the “if she looks good, she must be good” error. You describe her as sweet and adorable and loving.

    Love is an action, not a feeling. What loving actions does she show to you & your kids? Is it sex, after you are legitimately upset about things that she didn’t do, or awful things that she did do (friendly stuff with the AP)?

    Guess what? Abusers target kind people, and she targeted you. She gets her outside sex, and maybe sex with you, and who does the work of the household so that everyone’s needs are taken care of? Abusers do nice things, or we wouldn’t be tricked by them and be captivated by them, and be “held captive” by them.

    I think in certain Christian circles there is more emphasis on love and forgiveness, rather than on justice, temperance, and prudence. Where is the justice to you and your kids in this situation? Again, she is described as Sweet, Adorable, and Loving. Bet she’s that way to Mr. AP too.

    • This is insightful.

      My mom’s sister is an enormous Bitch. She is also talented at wrapping men around her little finger, and just married husband number 3 at age 85. Lots of men would describe her as sweet, adorable, and loving. Indeed, she is skillful at putting a sugar coating on her nasty personality.

      • She sounds like my former MIL. Sweet as pie to your face and then totally nasty, gossipy, and manipulative behind your back as soon as you stopped paying attention. Always bringing up how religious and godly she was, playing the part of the “good Christian wife and mother” while never missing a single opportunity to ridicule anyone she deemed less-than. Her 2 husbands weren’t any better. I got the brunt of her disdain, having been raised Jewish (the horror!) and having become an atheist early on. Even so, I consider myself far more moral than she ever was.

  • Hopeless Romantic – This is a lot to process. And I’m going to give you another reason not to run it all by your cheater/abuser.

    Because of HER behavior, you need to spend several hundred – perhaps several thousand dollars – on professional advice to find out what a divorce will mean for you and your children.

    You have a small window of opportunity when she is hoping you won’t go through with it. Any concessions she’ll make on the post-nup have to happen now. Don’t want to give her two thirds of your income? Want to stay in your home? Want the children to stay in the same school district? Don’t want your children left alone with her affair partner?

    You. need. legal. advice. Go “gray rock” until you have a post-nup proposal. I think many of the billable legal hours will translate to a divorce filing, if needed.

  • Hopeless Romantic,
    My ex husband is a Christian, and also a military officer. He had taken marriage vows, but long before that also an oath to uphold the Army values, including integrity.

    Well before I knew I was a Chump, I was pretty sure he didn’t love me. But, I told myself, I could always respect and trust him. He was a good person who would always do the right thing for his family. I literally talked myself into staying even though my gut was telling me something was wrong.

    He not only cheated and disrespected MY sacrifices for his career, he cheated in a way that betrayed a brother in arms, and could have lost him his career (and his children’s health insurance, their college fund, probably our house…).

    He was never the person I thought (hoped, wished) he was. Never the person he desperately wanted everyone to think he was.

    My advice? If you have to talk yourself into believing your spouse is a good person, they probably aren’t. You have a pretty good list going there. Sounds real nice. It isn’t.

    When they show you who they are, believe them.

  • Evaluate whether you think you are being treated like a doormat.1% doormat is too much. People don’t respect doormats. Don’t be in a relationship if you’re not respected – can’t end well for you.

  • Hopeless Romantic, I really feel for you. If I may, I can tell you what your comment in a thread above–“I’m just so scared of making the wrong decision”–would mean if it were me saying this in your place. It would mean simply that I’m just getting trapped BY MY CHRONIC PROBLEM OF ANXIETY (and perfectionism). My best advice would be for you to get some therapy, preferably with someone who works with people with anxiety (speaking personally, cognitive behavioral therapy is good for this, and short-term), so that you can wrestle with the anxiety problem and embolden yourself to get away from this manipulative spouse who is harming you.

    You sound like a loving, tender person, who is crippling himself and staying stuck in a kind of living hell because his anxiety is tricking him into an exaggerated dread of making a “mistake.” And unfortunately, your wife is capitalizing on this anxiety, so she gets to eat cake–indefinitely, unless you make a change in yourself.

    It takes courage to face down one’s anxieties, but boy, is it worth it. Take care!

  • I just survived a two day trial with my Jesus Cheater and it was Hell. Jesus Cheater had the audacity to boast to the judge about how he volunteers in ministry and how generous he is by giving money to build churches. I had a friend sit through the whole thing, and she said that the hypocrisy was epic. We also caught and proved that he had lied under oath in front of our judge!!! The STBX even had his lawyer complain to me that the STBX didn’t want a divorce… Awesome, don’t care, I want one!

    I filed fall of 2020 and we won’t have our oral report until July 5th. The STBX made the divorce as painful and as difficult as possible. As we approached trial, I went back and started re-reading “The Life Saving Divorce,” because I could feel the STBX getting into my head. The author talks about how God cares more about YOU, than He does about the institution of marriage. Having Divorce Minister’s definition of soul rape was helpful as well. Maybe start with that part of his website?

    I never in a million years expected that I would ever get a divorce. (Definitely find a church that supports you and not her!) But, I have to say that I am grateful to God for each person that He has brought into my life during this process. My therapist told me to start looking for when people volunteer information to you that they did not need to share. She said that it was God laying on the hearts of strangers the message that He wanted me to hear.

    I would also recommend Gary Thomas’ book, “When to Walk Away.” Thomas takes the stance that Jesus walked away from toxic people and we ought to do the same because they take energy away from our God given ministry. There is a chapter on marriage and divorce that encourages people to leave. (I read the chapter on the couple that stayed married, and I wasn’t triggered, but that husband changed his anger patterns, so it wasn’t about infidelity.)

    Oh! And get The Passion Translation of the Bible and begin to read through the Psalms! It is all about God’s heart for those who are hurting and The Passion Translation turns His Word into a love letter to His people.

  • How about this. Your “kind” and “sweet” wife allowed another man to penetrate her and probably other things. She exposed you to STD risks,
    Exposed you and your children to mental, emotional, and physical anguish, which will cost hundreds, if not thousands of dollars during months and years of counseling.

    I can tell you this, divorce sucks and is hard, but you will grow and change in positive ways. In the suffering, you will find a refining fire. It will get better.

    When I saw my ex with her AP before and during our divorce, it flipped a switch in me.

    On the flip side, there are a lot of good, kind, and caring women waiting to find someone like them and understand the meaning of vows.

  • After decades of dealing with the after effects of botched knee surgery from an arrogant sports ortho when I was a kid, I especially wouldn’t trust a surgeon who cheats. Or a babysitter or an accountant or a lawyer or a builder, etc. Call me extreme but I generally like to cut down on the risks of dying under the knife, having my kids abused, being robbed, misrepresented, over-billed or having roofs collapse on my head.

    I would tell Hopeless Romantic that you have no idea who you were married to and that, in the future, you may have some work to do on your picker so you don’t get fooled again (by anyone– partners, surgeons, etc.). It’s guaranteed that there’s something buried in your ex’s past which might explain why she’s so devoid of ethics, conscience or humanity but liars lie and often hide the “red flags” from their pasts that might cause others some doubt. Some of the worst people (including several infamous serial killers) will insist they always led normal lives and come from normal, upright families. It’s probably bs but no one will ever know the truth. Other types of perpetrators will only report how they themselves were victimized in the past but will leave out the bits about how they eventually victimized others. Liars lie and, what’s more, suckers fall the lies.

    Personally I’ve spent a lot of time taking apart all my conceptions of what makes a “good man” or a “good woman” and I think all of us– even if we weren’t programmed to trust the wrong people within dysfunctional families of origin– are often subject to cultural mythologies in the age of mass media. For example, I was recently looking around on Netflix for something to watch and viewed a trailer for a film on some important humanitarian theme that looked great… until I saw who directed and produced it. Ugh, it was my ex boss who, before he died, was credibly accused by more than a dozen women of rape, often when the victims were still minors. None of this boss’s lackeys would tell me about his criminal track record but I can attest that he was a mini-Weinstein and so evil that I changed careers and it was the last time I ever worked in media. Had I not known known first hand that this director/producer was the devil, I probably would have assumed he was some great human being for tackling such an important issue. And I would have been dead wrong.

    Of course that creep always shrouded himself in humanitarian themes and posed as a social justice warrior. Of course sleazy, psychopathic, backstabbing women act like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths and are just the sweetest little sugar lumps. All that sugar coating is to compensate for what they really are underneath. But because we’re all being conditioned throughout our lives to take at face value the false fronts of various public figures– the action star who always plays heroic parts yet, say, beats his many wives and eats babies for lunch; the actress who always plays simpering damsels who’s a vicious cyborg in her personal life; the “social justice warrior” politicians who violate underage circus animals, etc., etc., etc.– we’re having our gut instincts about other people’s characters suppressed and are being re-programmed to trust untrustworthy cues. That sugar coating– because it’s false– should rightfully give us cavities and make us a bit hesitant (“when something is too good to be true…”). But some of us miss the cues.

    CL usually advises against “untangling skeins of f*ckedupness” in cheaters but I think untangling our own general impressions about others is a reasonable safety measure. For one, if someone is a cold-hearted, empty sociopath who only fakes being human, why would they pretend to be someone mediocre when they could fake being fabulous or some ideal type of person? Why was I such a sucker for FW’s pseudo-stoic “authentic” act? How did the mask he wore play into positive masculine stereotypes I’d had shoved down my throat since infancy? Why didn’t he set off screaming alarms? By the same token, why didn’t your ex’s simpering sweety act strike you as over the top, churn your stomach and make you hide your wallet? Because, after all, her whole simpering goody-two-shoes act turned out to be the ultimate fraud.

    We all have to trace back and figure out if the things we like or are attracted to in other people are really safe traits or just camouflage for bad character. In doing this, it’s important not to over-generalized and end up callously cynical against everyone but to boil it down to specific red flags and certain dead-giveaways. Personally, I’m still working on that picker project and I wish you best luck with yours.

    • “Of course that creep always shrouded himself in humanitarian themes and posed as a social justice warrior. Of course sleazy, psychopathic, backstabbing women act like butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths and are just the sweetest little sugar lumps. All that sugar coating is to compensate for what they really are underneath.” -This sounds JUST like OW. Even now she’s convinced quite a lot of people that she’s wonderful, and really cares about the oppressed (particularly women). She’s really a horrible person, who doesn’t care about anyone but herself. She didn’t care about the children that got hurt, about me, about her husband. None of it. She absolutely took JOY and satisfaction in destroying me (it bolstered her ego to “win”). She plays the “simpering goody-two-shoes” all the way, but according to my ex’s suicide note, she phyiscally abused him, and then told him he was “too much of a pussy” to kill himself. That seems to be the motivation he needed to actually do it.

      I will confess that I still feel a strong desire to out her publicly so she doesn’t con anyone else. I’m just not sure how to do it.

      • “I will confess that I still feel a strong desire to out her publicly so she doesn’t con anyone else. I’m just not sure how to do it.” Consider anonymous emails to key people “from a friend” in order to push speculations about the identity of the sender as far away from you as possible. If recipients aren’t close friends, feigning this could be warranted since this person sounds incredibly dangerous. If writing to a woman, the sample below might work. If writing to a man, change the language around to make it sound like it’s from a male “buddy.” Sample:

        Please forgive me for being such a coward and writing this anonymously but I consider you a friend and the person I’m trying to warn you about scares me. I haven’t often been party to gossip but, in this case, I feel like a failure to warn could have devastating consequences. It’s been so long since we hung out and I imagine you’re as busy and overwhelmed as I am these days. For exactly that reason, I’m guessing you probably need stress and drama like a hole in the head and, if so, then you might consider being wary of X. She apparently has a history of stabbing friends in the back and harassing people in quite serious ways and is quite clearly not who she professes to be.
        I admit I was taken in by her myself and would not have guessed what she’s capable of. I can’t say how I know this without giving away the identities of the credible people who told me this and showed evidence of it. I can’t repeat what X said about you for the same reason. I also can’t vouch for all the stories that are circulating about her, like how she goaded someone to suicide after getting him to dump his family but can attest that, in this instance, there seems to be actual fire burning behind all the “smoke.” Just be careful.
        Hugs to you and your family from a cautious but caring friend.”

  • Cheaters are wonderful at image management

    Just more proof of that here

    Decent people don’t deceive their partners

  • Dear Hopeless Romantic – I thought if my husband stopped using whores in massage parlors I would be ok. I’m not. It’s been two years since D-Day. I think about what he did every day. All day. After D-Day, I saw a counselor weekly for six months. She asked what I wanted. I wanted to save my marriage. It’s impossible. My marriage ended the first time he engaged sexually with someone else. I don’t know when that was, and he won’t tell me. Was I married one year, ten years, or 30 years? I told him I need to know the very first time he fucked someone else. He said he doesn’t remember. Our 37th anniversary is in nine days. Don’t be me. Get out now.

    • I”m so sorry Erin. I hope you can get the support you need to get out asap. big hugs.

    • I was 60 when I left a drunk who wouldn’t quit drinking. It’s not too late for you. And refusing to tell you when the cheating started is just another mindfuck he’s putting you through. My life is so much better–I not only left an alcoholic spouse, I survived the relationship with a cheating Jackass that I rebounded into. I built such a happy life once I let go of my fear of being “alone.” You can learn to love yourself and build a life that doesn’t revolve around the sickness of other people.

    • 🙁 That’s super painful to hear and thanks for sharing.. I’m crying right now.. I don’t know what to do….

      • I think you know what to do. You just don’t like it. Stay with an unrepentant cheater, or face the unknown. Just remember, leaving is temporary pain, with the potential for happiness. Staying under the circumstances (some have discussed a post nup-which would be different circumstances) will be painful forever. Inaction is not the absence of action, it is the choice to do nothing.

        • Yep, doing the right thing, and taking good care of yourself often doesn’t feel good. Exercising, eating vegetables instead of ice cream, saving for your retirement instead of going on a shopping spree and a fancy vacation. Those are choices you make to live a better life. Leaving your cheater, despite all the pretty words they say, is something that doesn’t feel good, but leads to a better life.

  • HR, you’ve come to a site of chumps that have amazingly honed cheater detection skills with incredibly shocking accuracy. We have nothing to gain by telling you lies about your integrity absent spouse. She is choosing to abuse you and hoping you will accept it.
    Put yourself in her shoes for one second and try to imagine you doing to her what she is currently doing to you. You won’t be able to even do that.
    Why? Because you are a good, kind, decent, loving caring person and she IS NOT!!!
    I know it’s almost impossible to believe what is right in front of your eyes about who she is, but it is the correct view to have. She really truly does suck!!
    Please don’t waste your time trying to protect her from her crappy tower crumbling down. She built it and likes it and will build it up over and over again. If you stay, she will somehow make it about what’s lacking in you that she’s not feeling and you will work decades to fix yourself when it’s not you who needs the fixing! She will create bogus, made up stories to buy her time for more cake eating. It is she that is dysfunctional, it is not you!
    C She’s counting on your love to hold that house of cards up for as long as possible. Because she has your very best interest in her heart? Hell no, she doesn’t!
    She is a narcissist, an entitled special being upon which a whole different set of rules applies than applies to your life. You are not as valuable as she is. Your children will be harmed by this as well, increasing that damage the longer you stay. She cares about no one but herself irregardless of what she says or what you remember she was once like. She is not who you believe her to be and most def not your friend.
    It’s incomprehensible to every one of us blogging for years here over the destruction these kind of ppl have done to our lives, but it’s as real as real can get and you need to put your force field up and be the hero who saves yourself and your family from her destructive force. She is abusive to you.
    Tell people, get a lawyer, divorce her, no second chances. She’s not who she pretends to be and you will see the mask down during the divorce process when she rages and turns her anger on you and it all comes down to how you didn’t fulfill her needs in the relationship or sone such trumped up story of your lackings.
    NONE of it will be based on reality, but they will live and die with their false narratives that protect them from seeing the harm they are inflicting on their loved ones.
    She cannot be fixed, she is what you see, not what you want to see.
    Believe your gut and get out. You know the truth of it, but it’s scary as hell to face it. We get it. Someone that is capable of love would be unable to do such harms on people that loved them. Trust can’t be rebuilt with a lying liar who lies.

  • I read these stories & ask: Is it worth it? Was it worth it? Is it better to have loved & lost than to never have loved? I suppose. At the first hint of infidelity, goodbye. No rewrites. Good luck, HR. She is not capable of the change you seek.

  • HR, put down the hopium. She is not interested in changing anything. She is totally invested in keeping the status quo. I realize well what you are going through. Please, model safety to your kids and put an end to the cruel game she is playing with all of you. File. Do not tell her , just do it. This is going to hurt like nothing else. But it does get better on the other side. Good luck.

    • Everytime I confronted her she begged me to stay… how can that be? Maybe she loves both me and the AP and just needs time???

      • No, HR, gentle 2 x 4 follows below (((sorry))).

        You need to truly internalize that your wife doesn’t actually love anyone. She certainly does not love you. She’s enjoying kibbles, centrality, power and control. Over you. Internalize that. Everyone in her world is merely of use to her, is part of her image that she requires to keep getting exactly what she wants regardless of who it hurts (especially as long as it’s not her!).
        She is currently begging you to stay because if you are strong and refuse to continue to be abused she will get actual consequences. She is desperately trying to avoid consequences and you are desperately trying to avoid reality. She is not at all hurt. She is worried she’ll lose the benefit of you. She is not worried about losing you at all.
        You’re stuck because you’re naturally traumatized and also you’re severely addicted to hopium, namely the vain hope she will return to you and be once again who and what you thought you had.
        She won’t.
        You will continue to be abused unless you get off the cycle of abuse. This is a real cycle and you are currently stuck in it.
        Please please please listen to all that CL & the many chumps here are saying.
        You and your children are being damaged by this woman.
        She is not safe for any of you.
        Do see a lawyer. Learn grey rock communication skills. Get therapy support and see a doctor for meds if you’re struggling.
        This woman is seriously bad for your well-being.
        Try to accept the overwhelming evidence in front of you. If she hasn’t stopped seeing her sex buddy in 18 months (despite her promises to you) she will continue to manipulate you and your children if you don’t get a stiff spine and start moving towards separation and divorce.
        All of us here loved our cheaters. But they are not safe people for us.
        Act with logic. Heart will follow ❤️

      • No she doesn’t love you. Right now you are convenient. You take care of the household, the kids and I’m guessing the bills. Her AP hasn’t yet given her a commitment. Here is the brutal truth…even if it doesn’t work out with her and the AP, she does not respect you (and that is the kiss of death) and will continue to look elsewhere.

      • Time to DARVO the situation. Time to convince you that everything will be alright if you just accept her. I was stuck on this for awhile, Until a convo that resulted in the slip up that exposed the base line of my ex’s thinking. “I was not supposed to know.” I was not to know that he had no intention of changing. That ha was doing nothing more than image management. He was hoping to move back in after a year of “trial” separation. She will not change. Ever. I am sorry that this truth is so hard to take. But there it is. Good Luck.

      • Yes, she will need time. She will need years! She will waste your years. She will manipulate you for years. I hope you can protect yourself. Read our stories here, read all of them. She is using you and mentally abusing you.

      • HR, what she is doing isn’t love, it is abuse. I used all of the rationalizations, when I suspected I convinced myself-can’t be, she would talk to me if she was even being tempted. When I read the messages and sexting and confronted her it was she made a mistake, but it will be ok. I said the same things you say in your messages over and over. It wasn’t. It finally took one morning driving to work, looking at a bridge and thinking (seriously) that driving off of it might be better than my life. I took action after that. Please don’t let it go as far as I did. This community has lived your same story over and over, listen to them. She is not confused, in an “affair fog” or anything else. She is systematically abusing your trust, and your emotions. It wont change.

      • “Love,” that word does not mean to her what you think it means. She can say that word over and over and over again. She does not mean it the way you do when you say it. Her actions speak for themselves. Stop projecting your values onto her. I know the cognitive dissonance is hard to reconcile. Who you thought she was vs. who she shows you she really is based on her actions. ACTIONS SPEAK LOUDER THAN WORDS. Giving her more time to what? Fuck you over?

      • “Maybe she loves both me and the AP and just needs time???”

        Time to do what? Keep screwing another guy, caught in permanent indecision at your expense?

        She’s having sex outside your marriage, and lying to you, with zero concern for how bad it makes you feel or what it will do to her children. Yet you’re letting her choose whether you stick around for more. Time for your choice.

        I don’t think people can be much clearer than all of the above, and it’s hard to know what to say to someone who keeps asking the same question. I feel like it’s time for us to peace out and let you tell us what you decide. Live with her abuse, or make a new life. I hate that it’s that simple, but thanks to her, it’s that simple. Good luck. You can get to the other side of this.

      • You are her backup plan in case AP flakes. That’s it.

        Divorce has consequences. She doesn’t want those.

        You provide valuable services. She wants you to continue providing those services.

        That’s it.

        You don’t cheat on and abuse someone that you love. She doesn’t love you. It’s brutal to hear that, but it’s the truth. (If it makes you feel any better, she doesn’t love the AP either. These people are incapable of love.)

        She is feeding you just enough breadcrumbs to get you to stay. And it’s working. She will continue to do so as long as it serves her, and if you start to get stronge and it looks like you might leave, she will up her game (beg for forgiveness, promise to change, “break up” with AP), but she will not really change. She will just go deeper underground with her deceit.

        YOU are the only one who can break the cycle.

        I PROMISE that once you are out and free, and some time has passed, you will look back and wonder why you ever settled for her scraps. I “loved” my husband so much and tried to make it work for years. I was miserable, and he just kept abusing me worse and worse. I finally decided I’d had enough and walked away. My life is AMAZING now. I had thought I was happy, but I had forgotten what true happiness felt like. Don’t waste any more of your one precious life on who you WANT her to be, who you thought she was. She is not that and never will be (and never was). It’s heartbreaking, like a death. It’s hard. It’s painful. But the other side is glorious.

  • I was listening to the Dr. Laura show on Sirius radio today on a long car ride. I think she very frequently gives out really good solid advice to people.
    But when it comes to advice on cheating in relationships she could not possibly be any worse! This woman called in today, 38 year marriage which she considered a great one, finding two years of texts on her husband’s phone to a previous work colleague, heavily flirtatious with meet ups for drinks and dinners on the regular ( the woman thinks no sex, but that’s denial)
    Well, Dr. Laura asked her what she wanted the outcome to be.
    Of course the woman said she wanted to save her marriage, we all hoped for that!
    So the good doctor tells her to not say anything to her spouse about it because it will only make things worse!! If she was going to stay, say nothing and deal with it. 😳
    How is she expecting this woman to just forget about it and carry on?! She wouldn’t be able to do that at all, but that’s the advice she gives out. As if that’s the only abuse going on in this woman’s life from this cheater! I would absolutely think Dr. Laura would already know that from other clients and being in the business for many decades. How could she not call it abuse?!
    It’s disheartening to listen to her advice on these toxic relationships, it’s not the first time I heard her give awful advice on cheating and blame the chump sometimes for not being attentive enough to their spouses. She told the woman today she needs to be more flirty with her husband! As if that is the cure for infidelity!
    It just seems like ppl that haven’t themselves been chumped cannot see what is going on at all, even the ones whose jobs it is to help people get free and safe.
    All the more reason CL and CN is so critical to new chumps and old alike, validating their realities and giving such solid advice and support,it’s so massive to surviving this horror.
    That you can’t get good advice from supposed “ experts” in the world is pretty upsetting to me.
    Just appreciating and sharing my gratitude to all you chumps out there helping one another and saving others from the toxic RIC, the Esther ‘Peril’s’ and all the other damaging “it takes two to tango” professionals “ out there that imagine they have all the answers. When they are so crazy far off the mark of what is needed and do more harm than good to already deeply hurting people is what happens.
    Knowing that there are others out there that actually “ get it” is so wonderful to know.
    I know it’s off topic, but just feeling so grateful for you all, chump nation. Thank God you exist! 🌷

    • Dr. Laura’s a cheater who had an affair with a married man in 1975. Dr. Lewis Bishop left his wife and three children for her, while Laura was still married to her first husband, per Wikipedia. Dr. Laura’s divorce was two years later, and she married her AP nine years into their relationship when she became pregnant with her son. She also had an affair with another married man in the ’70’s, Bill Ballance, who published nude photos of her in 1998. And she had very ugly relationships with all of her FOO members. How this woman makes a living counseling others on family relationships is a mystery.

      • Wow, I didn’t know all that about Dr Laura, but her bizarre responses on infidelity make perfect sense now. Appreciate the clarification.

    • How do I know enough is enough? How do I know where to draw the line?

      • You already drew the line. You told her to stop the affair. She didn’t. “Enough” has arrived, and she made it happen. She will attempt to say that you are the bad guy, but SHE made the choice to continue to see him, despite knowing the clear consequences. The line was already drawn, and she crossed it.

  • If you & your wife are meant to be, “soul mates” you called her….then leaving her/kicking her out/divorcing would straighten her out & chances are you would get back together. It’s a boss move. To go down this road though takes strength & huge conviction! You seem weak on this atm and I don’t know if you would be able to do it because of that. I hope you find a way though. I do know of people who split up, divorced & reconciled because one person did the work they had to do (pssst…your wife). Of course, you might figure out cutting your wife loose was the best thing ever; but since you’re not ready for that, focus on letting her go so you can hopefully find your way back to each other. Good luck!

  • My STBXH seemed so kind and tender. Even filled the tub with bubble bath and candles around the tub, took me on long romantic rides on his Spyder, took me put to dinner..all the while doing OW.He manipulated so well that I COULD NOT BELIEVE HE COULD EVER HURT ME. But it was for cake and cake alone that he used me. He just wanted to keep his stuff and keep me putting out for him. It was such a huge huge shock to see who he really was. I’m sorry you are being played and used and abused. You brain knows the truth and is trying to drag your ❤️ heart to the breaking point. One day you will see. Please protect yourself. STD ✔️ s and getting tougher !!Talk to a lawyer if you have the courage, if not, you are in for a world of reality and serious pain. Don’t hide too long. Your wife sucks..sorry.

  • Dear Hopeless Romantic,

    I used to be in your shoes. I was a hopeless romantic, too. And it doesn’t feel like too long ago (6+ years from D-day, 4+ years out from final divorce).

    My FW XW (ask anybody here, I rarely if ever refer to her as just my XW) originally seemed to me like the sweet, pretty, loving girl next door type, that made me feel I was super-lucky to have first as a girlfriend, then a wife.

    We had three kids together (pretty sure they’re all mine; they’re a good blend of both of us looks-wise). My nickname for her was Angel before D-day and discovering CL and CN. Because that’s what I thought she was. My own personal angel.

    After D-day, it took me at least six months just to START to think that maybe I had misjudged her for the almost 28 years we were together (almost 25 married). Because for all my many faults (and I know I have some big ones😞), I never thought about cheating on her.

    But I had to come eventually to the conclusion that she didn’t feel the same way, and that to her, I was ultimately expendable, and abusable, exhibited by her action of starting an affair w/her (now) former rich, asshole boss, who’s now her new, shiny (ok, dingy really) partner masquerading as a devoted husband. And she’s masquerading as his new shiny trophy wife (15 years younger, and she’s very pretty still, I’m sure. I don’t check because I practice hard grey rock, but she used to be).

    Both she and her AP/current partner fucked over their long-time, loving, caring spouses w/their infidelity. Threatened their spouses w/the physical, mental, and spiritual abuse that infidelity is. Which lead me to the realization that they have shitty or weak characters (or both! Why choose between descriptors? Use them all!🤣).

    It wasn’t easy to wrap my brain around it. Even w/her making it easier by exit-affairing me w/her asshole partner. It took me at least a good two years to get comfortable w/the fact that I married a woman w/poor enough character that when things got rough in our marriage (I burned out after 20 years as a pharmacist, and couldn’t figure out a quick way to keep our relatively expensive lifestyle going, or keep a job anymore that provided the status she was craving in a husband), her response was to look around, find a new shiny patsy (her boss, who may have been doing the exact same thing), and fuck around w/him enough to mutually agree to leave their spouses and start living their lives together. Because, ya know, twu wuv.😂

    Even though I was the one who sunk into a deep depression after leaving pharmacy as a job, and might have been the weak one to start an affair (not really, but this is hypothetical conjecture), she was the one willing to fuck me over to get what she felt was greener grass w/her pathetic, asshole of a boss (look, I have a few million dollars, and a second home on an island off of Maine, and even though I’m a cheap, rich prick, I’ll lavish just enough money on you to make you happy and satisfied w/me).

    So like Tracy said, trust that they suck. It takes awhile to get there, but if you let your brain think on it for a bit, without listening to your wrongfully (at this point), pleading romantic heart (no, no! It can’t be true! She must have been hypnotized by this Svengali-like AP!), you’ll realize like Tracy said, she had/has agency, and could have done more ethical and moral actions if she was going to leave you to play the field.

    She didn’t, so she’s not that good, sweet Christian girl/woman you thought you had. She chumped you, and that’s ok, because you loved her w/your whole heart. You have nothing to be ashamed of. Her, on the other hand…🤬

    Stop letting your vision of her cloud your acceptance of her true reality. She sucks, and she really doesn’t care about you (or the AP). For her, she’s the only one that matters in this world. The rest of us are just there to be glorified NPC’s for her enjoyment. That’s a mistake, her own folly, and ultimately, her own hell. Because she’s not really living a good life. You are. You’re a real, true, loving person. She’s a shallow…(rhymes w/blunt). And whether she realizes it or not, she’s fucking herself over, and not in a good way.

    So pity her if you must, but get your head on straight regarding her. It’s in your best interests, and the kids. Lawyer up, start the divorce rolling , and get your life back. No contact is huge for doing that, so don’t underestimate it. At the very least, go to grey rock w/her. Remember her current actions against you and your family; not your idealized, romantic past w/her.

    Get out, man. You can do it. And we’re all here to prove it’s better on the other side.

    Best wishes for you and your kids. Lots of hugs.

    • Thanks for sharing your story – I’m in a very similar boat, relatively solid from the financial side. So I said to her “If its a divorce you want, let’s just do it. I’ll give you your fair share plus more”, but she replied saying “no, I don’t want anything that’s material, I just want you”. How do you even respond to that?

      • You respond by keeping your eyes on the horizon and keep walking towards freedom.
        She. Is. Manipulating. You.
        You’re in the painful stage of mindfuckery and heartbreak. I replied to you above but you may not have read it yet.
        I am adding in case you’re still on here.
        HR, please read and re-read all the responses to you on this thread. Just an aside, but I’m a hopeless romantic too, but what we are all saying here is to protect you. The heart is a lonely hunter so it’s important to give our love to the truest of souls who could never ever betray us. The hardcore evidence that this is not love, is right in front of you.
        You deserve far better.
        Go get it.

      • HR – You respond to that with a post-nup. Now.

        Also, consider moving half of your funds out of shared accounts. She’s acting like she already financed her exit.

      • You respond by asking her to sign a post nup. If she wants you then she will sign but 99.99996% sure that she will not. You are Plan B. She wants you and her AP. You give her the image she wants everyone to see and she has her cake on the side. You need peace and you will never get this with a FW.
        Please don’t take the abuse any longer. You cannot trust her again EVER. She is definitely manipulating you and knows exactly what it takes to get you in a wonderful Pick Me dance. Stop dancing and run to a lawyer. Get a post nup and put it in front of her. That will be a true test of whether she really wants you.

      • She is using your money and manipulating you. That’s all. If she wanted you she would have stopped disrespecting you when you found out. She is not afraid of losing you. You would not do it to someone whom you love and respect. Adultery is not a disease. She is not bewitched by the OM or has a mental problem. This will continue as long as you stay with her. Affairs crash when you leave, go no contact and get a divorce. Triangulation keeps it alive. She will try to get you back into the mess but you will not care because you will have accepted that she just has lousy character.

      • You don’t respond. You take action. And the post-nup thing is a dead end in my opinion because you won’t ever be able to ‘prove’ it to the levels required by law UNLESS you hire an expensive PI to get the required amount of documentation to satisfy the court (hint: it’s a very high bar). Is THIS the kind of life you want for you and the kids moving forward? Do you want to spend the next X amount of time policing her habits to ‘prove’ something you already know? Do you want to wake up each day wondering if it’s the day the next shoe will drop? Do you want to keep doubting everything she says, or suffer HUGE anxiety every time she’s late for something, or off talking/texting on her devices?

        I know you are telling yourself that you can ‘forgive’ and move on if things go back to normal, but HR–that’s NOT what happens with cheaters in reality. What happens is what I outlined above. And the reason it will happen (and did for all of us too!) is that you already gave her a chance and she chose to show you she can’t ever be trusted. Ergo, you won’t trust her again. Ever. Even if you keep trying to fool yourself that you can, you won’t. There will always be seeds of doubt on your periphery and it will effect your sleep, your work, your health and your parenting.

        But you should also know that you probably won’t trust in what all of us have said. This is all too common among chumps–most of us chose to believe our situation was somehow ‘different’ and chose to stay too. And we suffered many ddays before we finally saw the light. So, don’t beat yourself up for that, it’s called a ‘process’ for a reason and only YOU can decide when enough is finally enough. And don’t worry about not knowing when that is, when the time is right, you WILL know.

        My dday count was 4 over the course of 29 years. I was married for 40….you could call me a slow learner, and an ‘adept’ at living the life I described above. But once I turned that corner of ‘enough’, I knew it. It wasn’t easy, or fast to heal from a lifetime of learned habits, but I did. I’m now in my 60’s, 6 years out, finally on the ‘other side’ of healing, and for the first time in my entire adulthood–I can say with FULL agency that I love THIS life a whole lot more. Seriously.

      • By realizing that her actions have shown her to be wearing a mask. Stop paying attention to what she says. She’s lying. It’s very easy for her to say she still cares for you. But her actions say just the opposite.

        You can’t save a marriage single-handedly. And she still wants her piece of cake/AP. That is a marriage-killing red flag. But you have to stop listening to her, and listen to what all us experienced chumps are telling you. Get your ducks in a row, and get out of that relationship ASAP via a divorce. And in addition, as Tracy often says, you’re not modeling good adult behavior to your children when you keep letting a cheating fuckwit like your wife manipulate you like she’s doing.

        You have to be strong for yourself and your kids’ sake. But you have to realize that. Nobody else can do it for you. It’s time to shit or get off the pot.

      • Cheaters lie a lot. You should know this by now. Words or talk is meaningless. You don’t talk about divorce you just file. You came here probably looking for a magic fix. There isn’t one. No one can make you a chump but yourself.

    • Internalized this, because it is so true: “She sucks, and she really doesn’t care about you (or the AP). For her, she’s the only one that matters in this world. The rest of us are just there to be glorified NPC’s for her enjoyment. That’s a mistake, her own folly, and ultimately, her own hell. Because she’s not really living a good life. You are. You’re a real, true, loving person. She’s a shallow…(rhymes w/blunt). And whether she realizes it or not, she’s fucking herself over, and not in a good way.”

  • Hopeless Romantic,

    My FW was also the best person I’d ever met… Until he wasn’t. He still looks like a good person to everyone else, which is what made it so difficult to wrap my head around the fact that he was, in fact, taking advantage of me and using me, if not as an appliance, then as his PR representative.

    Then I thought he had to have a brain tumour. The person I knew would never try to manipulate me, let alone cheat on me.

    But the more I thought of it (and 3 years later sometimes it still feels like I’m the only one he treated this way) the clearer it became that this is actually not the case. He lied to me. He lied to our therapist/shrink, both alone and with me present. He lied to his best friend, who was in love with Schmoopie, and belittled him. He lied about being in pain. He lied about being depressed. He lied to a very good mutual friend, who has been the only one to refuse to ever talk to him again. He of course didn’t tell people what he was doing – I somehow was controlling out of nowhere (as my therapist put it, “You have a jealousy problem that only comes up when it’s convenient for him”.)

    This was all in the space of three months after 10 years together, and it’s just the part I have seen. I shudder to think about the things I don’t know.

    In the end it doesn’t matter if FW went on to be the amazingly generous soul that I knew to everyone else. He still did all of the above to me. I can’t trust a word he says. Whatever happens now, he will always be this person, and he can’t undo it.

    I’m writing all of this just to illustrate that many of us thought our FWs were, indeed, extremely good people. And then reality hit. I always prefer to work with reality.

    As for how to respond to “I don’t want any material things, I just want you” I would respond “Your actions clearly say otherwise”, but this is post-infidelity, CL-trained me speaking, and my FW never tried to reconcile, although reconciling with someone who is not speaking to you is impossible 🤣 Plus I am sure she will want material things once divorce is really on the table. But she is trying to appease you. All of them want one thing, cake, and you ex has already clearly demonstrated that. She might very well want you… And everyone else too.

    I know none of this is what you want to hear, but divorce can be initiated by one party only too. She can never say she wants one, because she’ll need to blame you.

    I am sorry that you find yourself in this position, and hope you get out as soon as you can.

  • This letter saddens me so much. I was confused at first as it is 100% copy/paste of my story, word to word, except the genders.
    Helpless Romantic, I have a feeling that no matter what we tell you, you will have a hard time believing she sucks. You will believe that your situation is unique, you will continue to remember the good times with her and you will wait, and wait, and wait. Please read the comments of Chump Lady’s and Chump Nation very carefully and do not disregard them.
    My ex-husband used to say I was his soulmate, and I felt the same way about him. He was a great guy, always nice, fun, easy going.. We couldn’t wait to see each other after work, it was a love story everyone who knew us talked about. Just like yours, 15 years of marriage.
    Like many others here, I thought that he was sick or had a mental problem because the change was surreal. He kept me in the marriage and claimed that he was coming to his senses, he wanted to see a terapist, there was no way we could divorce. (I thought this was the sign of his love to me but no, he was a horrible cake eater) He kept me in the dark for weeks, months, years! He would show me a little bit of attention when I withdrew, and those scraps of attention kept me going. I wasted 3 whole years on him. He became a pro as time went by. He minimized his affair, future- faked with me regularly, pretended to be confused.. You might think, okay this is your story, mine is different. I will say to you that cheaters use same manipulation, gaslighting, mental abuse tactics no matter what the narrative is. We read hundreds of them here.
    You do not deserve such a horrible treatment. If you keep going like this she will continue to show no respect to you and you will have no self-respect left for yourself. Please stop thinking about the past; she was lovely, she was your soulmate… You’re in such massive pain that your brain is trying to help you ease your pain by bringing up those good times. Someone hurt you this much and you are questioning if she sucks. What do you think? She can see your pain and does not care. She leaves you in the dark on purpose. Please just call a lawyer and save yourself. Otherwise, she will continue using you. She has not changed for 1,5 years and has no intention to do so.

    • Future fake – Is that talk about future, like “hey let’s start planning for that family trip in the summer”, or “hey, what summer camp should we sign the kids up for”?

      Sorry I might sound stupid, but she does that with me all the time, talking about the future. Even talking about my parents, and her parents, our family, friends etc. Stuff that you would only discuss if there truly was a future…. Is that all smoke and mirrors?

      • Yes, that’s exactly what that is. I’m so sorry. Mine did that too. But he kept on cheating.

      • FW left me one day in the afternoon. That same morning we’d been planning two different trips. One with friends, one for us. He suggested both.

        I certainly didn’t see the discard coming. Why plan with me at all?

        It’s not a stupid question at all. It’s important that you know this can happen too. It keeps their avenues open. It keeps you hoping.

  • The harshest of truths will serve you better than the most comforting of lies.

    (I know this really late, but I am hoping that you will read this. It has saved my life. I hope that it will help you to save yours.)

  • This one hit close home Chump Lady. It’s almost if I wrote this guy’s poor letter.
    My wayward wife keeps claiming she is not in contact with her AP. My gut just doesn’t believe her after catching her with a burner phone 3 months ago still talking to him. I bet she still is in contact but just deeper underground.

    I have to divorce her, I know this. I more worried about having to pay alimony for the rest of my life to this unloyal person. That’s really the only thing holding me back at this point.

    • Then you should talk to a lawyer about that alimony issue. Some jurisdictions won’t require you to pay alimony if they have a new partner they’re living with so gather what evidence you have a get legal advice.

    • It depends on your location. If you can prove adultery it can eliminate alimony. A good attorney could tell you what you need to know. If so the cost of a good PI would be worth it.

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