Secret Sexual Basements: An Interview with Dr. Omar Minwalla

In our latest episode of Tell Me How You’re Mighty we interview Dr. Omar Minwalla, who is unique among therapists for calling cheating a “deceptive sexuality” problem.

Dr. Minwalla is a psychologist and founder of The Institute for Sexual Health and the author of the “Secret Sexual Basement.” We talk about trauma and the conventional victim-blaming discourse around infidelity. And what lurks in those subterranean hideyholes.

It was a great interview. My takeaway, however, is why is accepting that infidelity is abusive a radical position in the therapy industry?

Minwalla talks about it taking a decade to use “the T word” (trauma) and it will probably take another decade to use “the A word” (abuse).

REALLY? The people in sobbing puddles across shrink sofas nationwide weren’t the first clue for the helping profession?

I won’t give away the whole episode (please listen! follow! review!) — but some things we discuss:

1.) What you don’t know CAN hurt you.

What’s going on in the secret basement affects the people in the upstairs dwelling. Deception causes trauma. Our bodies feel it.

2.) Infidelity is not just about sex.

Of course, CN knows this. But the broader discourse misses it. Dr. Omar Minwalla talks about an “integrity abuse disorder.” It’s the lies, the theft of your reality, that hurts. But for whatever reason, the larger world just wants to talk about how vanilla you are. Or the unnaturalness of monogamy. Anything but the deception. As Minwalla says “Why is this stuff in a basement, period?”

3.) Cheating is intentional.

Minwalla compares it to psych-ops in warfare. There’s a target. There’s a mission: Keeping the two worlds apart. Psychological abuse is part of the arsenal.

If you’ve listened to the episode yet, I’m curious what you think about these ideas and Minwalla’s work.

I did ask him about hopium and working with sex addicts. How this could give false hope to chumps. He said he’s not about saving marriages. Getting away from abuse is sane and healthy.

Well, that’s a relief.

No unicorns were harmed in the making of this podcast.

Next week, Sarah and I pick apart Michelle Weiner-Davis’s “The 180” of divorce busting fame. We have a right good snark.

Let me know what you think!

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Mr Wonderfuls Ex
Mr Wonderfuls Ex
7 months ago

I LOVE that podcast. I have been telling friends about it.

And excuse me if I am amazed that THAT is Dr. Minwalla. I expected he had to be very old and academic looking. lol He could have his own TV show or something as he is very telegenic. I don’t know why I always expect such professionals to look frumpy like me. haha

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago

Thankfully, my mental health professionals and a coach (truly a good one) all said that I needed to get him out of our lives, perhaps long-term. None of them pushed me to quickly forgive and reconcile. None.

In the end, I put it all together myself and decided that I was done. When I emailed my husband “no more reconciliation talk,” I actually hadn’t seen any of the professionals for a few months and didn’t ask anyone’s opinion. It was 100% my decision. He later said that I had been managed or coerced, and that wasn’t at all true.

It was in my religious circles and from his family that I kept hearing that he was the hurting one and that I had to forgive and reconcile, no other option. They looked to me to fix it, which was ironic given their patriarchal beliefs. They also dug deep into me, looking for fault instead of holding him accountable and accepting what seemed obvious to me.

So why doesn’t the mental health industry handle this right? Good question. Are they in denial? Are they reluctant to make moral judgments (adultery is wrong)? Why do they see the perpetrator as victim? I don’t know.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie_

They won’t make judgements against the perpetrator of the abuse because the abuser will stop therapy if they do. The victim, on the other hand, is more malleable. If they can get the victim to just give in and accept the abuse, they can pat themselves on the back, thinking they’ve “saved” a relationship. It’s about the bottom line and the therapist’s ego. They can keep clients coming to them for years this way, going to expensive seminars and retreats, etcetera. It’s bad for the chump, but great for the industry.

I compare it to doctors who throw prescriptions at you which may or may not relieve symptoms, rather than work with you to get to the root of your illness. There’s no money in curing people. Witness the popularity of diabetes drugs for type 2 diabetes, which can be cured by lifestyle changes. The same applies to high blood pressure and many other health problems. Patients will walk out on a doctor who tells them they must change their diets and start exercising. They’ll find a doctor who will just give them an RX and send them on their way.

Similarily, marriage counseling which blames the chump will relieve symptoms in the sense that the chump accepts that s/he deserves to be cheated on. The chump then submits, which certainly improves the relationship for the cheater, and the chump gives up and stops challenging the cheater. The therapist chalks this up as a success.

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Ah, makes sense. However, there are also marriage therapists who call a spade and a spade. I know of a local therapist who is very outspoken and considers himself successful if he speaks the truth, not if he saves the marriage. He also doesn’t believe in long-term marriage therapy and regularly tells clients that they can’t come back because he’s done all he can.

I only had individual counselling, so thankfully I didn’t have to experience a therapist working with both of us to “save” the marriage. At times my ex would say that he would go, and then he’d gaslight me that he never said that. His family tried to work both sides with us separately while completely favoring him, but I ended that.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie_

Yeah, there are some good therapists out there, Elsie. My daughter has a good one. Rather than try to convince her to reconcile with her father, he told her FW is an asshole and a lost cause. He had only one session with them and could see that.

MotherChumperNinetyNine
MotherChumperNinetyNine
7 months ago

I wish I’d avoided the additional trauma and wasted time and money spent down the “sex addiction” and “recovery” rabbit hole. X (married 25 years, 4 kids) used this as an opportunity to manipulate me into delaying consequences (separation and filing for divorce) after I was blindsided on Dday so he could revel in the centrality and further divert marital assets. After 18 weeks of that fresh HELL I took rational action: I told him to get out. It took another 6 months, but I filed and pushed the divorce over the finish line of a 10 day trial where I got full custody and 82% of assets. It’s been 8.5 years since then. Kids are grown and I’m completely no contact. I’ve repartnered and upleveled every aspect of my life. With the passage of time, it’s crystal clear that “getting away from abuse is sane and healthy” and the only rational response to abuse.

New Beginnings
New Beginnings
7 months ago

I listened to the podcast and I loved it. It was very validating to hear a professional emphatically state that “what we don’t know can hurt us”, and calling out the trauma and abuse of infidelity. I think many FWs really believe that what they are doing doesn’t hurt anyone.

I also appreciated his discussing the question of whether a lying FW can change with therapy. He said it would be a very hard and long process. And I think he implied that most FWs would not be interested in actually doing the work to change.

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago
Reply to  New Beginnings

My ex had the formal NPD/BPD diagnoses, and I asked our mutual therapist how long it would take to get his thinking right if he was agreeable.

Years, and she was 99% sure he would never stick with it. She then commented that the moral/character side might still be broken, so waiting for him was useless.

I didn’t wait.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  New Beginnings

“I think many FWs really believe that what they are doing doesn’t hurt anyone.”

I take a darker view. I think they know it’s hurting their partner, and that is a large part of the thrill. The power, the control and the sadism are intoxicating to them.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

This is 100% true.

Asshat gleefully told me in the last conversation we had in 2018, “HoWorker/Wife and I only LIE to you”. (of course, this was a life, but I wasn’t in a mood to trifle).

Meant to have poked me in the eye, but it was just so juvenille and by then, just such a dumb unenlightened comment. I actually laughed on the inside because they were getting kicks by keeping me in their relationship. So. Dumb.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago

They’re like adolescent bullies, ginger. They have arrested emotional development. That’s why they behave in such a juvenile way.
Clearly, you were taking up a lot of space in FW and OW’s face without even meaning to. What losers!

Helen Reddy
Helen Reddy
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

I believe serial manipulators feel a high somewhat like gambling or hunting whenever their countermeasures throw off their target’s discovery or departure. My take is that they know it will be hurtful to their target if discovered–and that sadism does register in their brain’s reward center–but mostly they aren’t interested in their target’s quality of emotional experience. Their target’s emotions are just a useful tool always on the verge of becoming an inconvenient obstacle.

I agree with Susie Lee that FW’s maintain a complete double standard about deception being inexcusable were it to be reversed on them.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  Helen Reddy

That’s a good point. I suppose both types of FWs exist- the ones who thrill to watching their partner struggle emotionally, and for whom causing that is the primary thrill, and the ones who don’t care and barely notice, whose main thrill lies in evading detection. The second type would be the sort who continue to pretend to love the spouse, making the discovery of the cheating all the more inexplicable.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  New Beginnings

“I think many FWs really believe that what they are doing doesn’t hurt anyone.”

I do too. I also think that very same fw would sure a hell think it was abuse if it was being done to them. Sheer entitlement.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
7 months ago

Hi all, short time listener(D-Day was almost exactly two months ago), first time caller. Coming out of lurking compelled to share a thought (read today’s posting as part of my daily affirmations). I have gotten some appreciatively shocked reactions from mental health professionals(am one myself!) at the notion that infidelity is in fact a type of abuse. Most responses, including from my personal therapist, do seem to appreciate the notion in terms of “I’ve never thought of it like that before!”

That being said, I wonder if the taboo around the “A-word” is similar to the same taboo surrounding emotional abuse-maybe it’s because (depending on municipality, at least) it’s not illegal per se. By and at large people tend to equate “abuse” as “legally definable harm.” Break a spouse’s orbital bone? Abuse. Break their psyche for several years? Ehhh.

Either way I hope we can all accept infidelity for what it is as abuse and get people the help that they deserve. I will definitely be integrating that framework into my practice. Great read today, stay mighty, all!

Mr Wonderfuls Ex
Mr Wonderfuls Ex
7 months ago
Reply to  JeffWashington

And yet as Dr. Minwalla pointed out, the gaslighting, the leading one’s partner to believe they are going crazy by denying reality, is identified on page 721 of the DM5 as emotional/psychological abuse. (I hope I am not misremembering the page number from the podcast.) Maybe find that reference from the podcast and start asking the professionals to take a look. It wasn’t so long ago that bullying and internet harassment were not on the books as illegal forms of abuse, either. Maybe the counseling community needs to get out on the pointy end of the spear in protecting victims and stop wringing their hands over the FWs’ “sexual needs.”

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago

“He said he’s not about saving marriages. Getting away from abuse is sane and healthy.”

Thank you, Doctor Minwalla! It’s hard enough getting people to believe you were abused, let alone that getting away from the source of it is the only healthy strategy. Most people do seem to think you can fix your spouse. They insist that if only you would give more compliments, more or better sex, be more patient, bla bla bla, all would be well. Those of us who’ve been through this hell have tried all of that long ago, to no avail. That advice applies only if your partner is emotionally healthy to begin with, and you’re just having some temporary trouble connecting. It does not apply if your partner has irretrievably defective character. Most marital therapists will not even consider character, because that would be judgement, and their more entitled clients tend to flee when they judge them. They make ridiculous false equivalences, just as cheaters do. They dwell is an alternate universe where serving bagged salad is an offense on par with years of living a double life. Many chumps say the marriage counseling they endured was almost as abusive as the cheating. I love that there are a few therapists, like Dr Minwalla, who stand for the betrayed and the abused.

The message that you cannot change the nature of others by altering your own behavior needs to be spread far and wide. Character may not quite be set in stone, but it is impossible to get somebody else to do the hard work of making changes.

FYI_
FYI_
7 months ago

One of us kind-hearted chumps can offer to take a better photograph of Dr. Minwalla. He looks uncomfortable!

hush
hush
7 months ago
Reply to  FYI_

Eye of the beholder, friend. That man is H-O-T. I love this picture of him looking like he’s peering down into a gremlin FW in the secret sexual basement, with a disapproving “the fuck?!?” look on his face. Don’t yuck my yum. 😉

UpAndOut
UpAndOut
7 months ago

I think it is ironic that counselors want to provide a “safe environment” to explore relationships, but they do not do an adequate job of exploring whether a person is safe within their marriage. The counselors I worked with did ask if I felt safe at home and I assumed that they meant “safe from physical abuse” and I did feel safe in that regard. However, I entered counseling knowing that my spouse (now XH) had been unfaithful at least once.
Never was I asked “did you get tested for STD?” or “do you know where all your money is – total income, savings, loans, outgoing payments” or even “do you have access to all shared financial accounts.”
I think counselors, whether they were trained as psychologists or social workers or whether they specialize in marriage and family, are too loath to even ask the most basic questions that could tease out where the real problems are.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago
Reply to  UpAndOut

To quote another poster “I was paralyzed by fear, embarrassment, denial, and absolute sadness-depression. Crippling depression.”

Unfortunately by the time we are able to crawl out of this pit and shakily stand up, and just possibly be able to voice our pain, we are told that that is in the past, time to move on. Oh maybe prettier words, but that is the message.

Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
7 months ago

Most therapists suck. They may not have too much training or experience. Phd ones have more. My MIL recommended a Phd one also told me about Dr Simon and character defects. Wish she had told me these things 20 yrs ago when I was pregnant with my first child.
The internet was new. You could just look stuff up. You had to go to the library and look up books. Who knew what to look up at the library? Now you do an internet search stuff magically appears. People are more savy now. Reactive abuse, abuse, trauma, trauma bonding, narcissists. Thats all now on peoples radar. Thats why I think the narrative is changing. 20 years ago my parents told me to get an abortion and divorce. I was 31, I thought this may be my only opportunity to have a child. My dad had an affair for most of my childhood, and my mom parentified me. So leaving wasnt my first instinct. Had I known more then I would not have thought he was a sex addict and made him attend meetings lol. I hopefully would have realized he has bad character and that infidelity is a lifelong problem for them. They cannot be rehabilitated. It is a choice for them. They like cheating. Its fun for them yo deceive. Get their chuckles from it. I wont go into the morality of it or good vs evil. That’s a philosophical and religious argument. They are missing the empathy chip. They feel entitled. They have no introspection. Their behavior is evil. But they consider themselves to be good people. I am sure convicted criminals have this same reasoning. Adultery is no longer a crime in this country. It is in other countries for women at least. They get stoned or set on fire. But there is evil in the world. The old adage a wolf in sheep’s clothing. But again, they dont think they are evil. Its hard when you view the world snd others through your moral lens. We need to have people earn our trust and protect ourselves and our kids. Thank god for CL. Its gonna save some newbies who have their first DDay. Hopefully first and last.

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago
Reply to  Chumpolicious

My PhD therapist said that they spent very little time on personality disorders when she was in school. She was divorced from a man with personality and character disorders then, so she did her own studies in the professional literature and wrote a number of papers on that sort of thing in graduate school. She wasn’t fond of how narcissism has become an everyday word, but said in a clinical setting, it can be helpful.

KADawn
KADawn
7 months ago

This was my favorite episode yet. The discussion was SO helpful. WHY is that behavior in the basement (concealed) anyway??!!! EXACTLY!!!!!!! The confirmation that gaslighting is abusive and causes real harm in the manipulation of reality is so affirming (and also so alarming).

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

My take on this is that Dr. Minwalla’s work meshes rather seamlessly with the work of forensic social worker Evan Stark, author of “Coercive Control,” which is another must-read. https://www.amazon.com/Coercive-Control-Personal-Interpersonal-Violence/dp/0195384040

Stark, who’s work I read back in the early aughts as part of training for domestic violence advocacy, was– along with wife, Prof. Anne Flitcraft– one of the original spearheads of the western battered women’s shelter movement in the 70s. Currently Stark is one of the main spearheads of the movement in anglophone countries to criminalize coercive control. But the part of Stark’s and Flitcraft’s work that has impacted me the most are their discussions of the “second injury” of domestic abuse survivors, i.e, retraumatization/revictimization by victim-blaming helping professionals. I believe they were among the the first to studiously– using statistics and masses of first hand clinical observation– take apart victim-blaming junk science and misguided, bigoted approaches in the fields of psychology and social work. Their co-authored chapter on victim blaming in domestic violence related fields in a book compiled by founding psychotraumatologist Frank Ochberg (another anti-victim-blaming pioneer and the original theorist behind the “Stockholm syndrome/captor bonding” theory), “Post-traumatic Stress and the Victim’s of Violence.”

Frankly, I’d like to see all these folks eventually combine forces so that the relatively new conception of infidelity as a form of coercive control/domestic abuse can gain some traction. But I can see a few obstacles to this unified front.

The first problem is that, as Dr. Minwalla puts it, clinical fields are currently a ways away from applying the “A” word (abuse) to domestic infidelity. I suspect it’s going to take some clinical studies to demonstrate what many front lines advocates for DV survivors already know: which is that batterers almost invariably also “cheat” within battering relationships, that cheating is largely facilitated by and enforced by coercive control and that those who cheat are more likely than average to eventually become violent towards partners. In order for those studies to be done properly, they’d have to be funded but this runs straight into the political problems surrounding the view that cheating overlaps with and is an aspect of coercive control and a form of domestic abuse, which is that a lot of powerful people (the types to hold purse strings) cheat in their relations to the extent that this type of abuse is part of the entitlement of power. Cheating may even be the last bastion of abuse of power in relationships now that violence against partners and marital rape have been outlawed, which is why I suspect the current frenied pro-cheating campaign in the media is partly just backlash against #MeToo (dammit, we’re taking all their toys away!)

Another huge problem in advancing the idea that cheating is often part and parcel with domestic abuse are the lack of accounts of this in the clinical literature on DV– lack of victim testimony of this association and lack of recorded clinical observation. From my time working as an advocate, I have a very strong suspicion of why this gap exists– and it’s not because cheating isn’t often part of the range of abusive behaviors on the part of domestic abusers. Instead, I believe it’s because abuse survivors are so often discouraged from mentioning their tandem cheating experiences due to the fact that helping and legal professionals as well as bystanders are often far too ready to use this information in order to cast victims as prevaricators/liars. In other words, if a victim tells others they were cheated on on top of being coerced or physically abused, helping/legal professionals and bystanders will quite quickly accuse the victim of fabricating abuse “out of jealousy.” It evokes the “woman scorned” stereotype (first order of business: topple that nasty trope).

I’ve actually seen DAs suddenly refuse to prosecute very well documented cases of domestic violence merely because victims alluded to perpetrators’ infidelity. Not incidentally, first hand victim accounts and clinical retelling of these accounts and observations will mostly leave this information out as well. Sadly, I suspect that even the most well-meaning clinical advocates for abuse survivors might try to avoid the whole added “controversy ballast” of cheating because any added controversy weighing down their life and death mission to save survivors could be seen as extraneous. Even bringing up the issue of infidelity by abusers can wade into a nightmare of complexity. For one, it’s mostly batterers themselves who are publicly and clinically conceived of as “pathologically jealous” (why it doesn’t occur to anyone that this is often due to pure projection by abusers is beyond me). Secondly, there’s the issue that battered women show a somewhat elevated rate of “monkey branching” in order to escape violent relationships.

As far as the latter statistics– yikes, what a tangle. Personally I have no trouble understanding why someone (who might not have ever cheated on a normal and safe partner) at risk for their lives and fearing for their children’s lives at the hands of a sadistic and violent abuser– and someone who furthermore cannot get adequate protection from authorities and is likely being financially abused– might land into a “protection racket” situation of relying on a “rescuer” with a sexual agenda to shield them from violence. I think this relates to the nearly 50% statistical risk for battered women to simply end up entrapped by a subsequent abuser after escaping a first.

Obviously the above issue runs into a lot of public prohibitions and biases (including traditional judicial tendencies to “sympathize” with men who kill supposedly “hussy” partners) and I can understand why clinical victim advocates just want to tiptoe away from the messy facts in order to keep the focus on saving lives. But I still think it’s better to “let the chips fly” and deal with these facts because so much more is being lost by trying to keep the political platform of victims’ rights more “simplified.”

There’s another wrinkle in framing infidelity as an aspect of coercive control which is that men can be victims of cheating as well. Well meaning victims’ advocates may– for good reason– be a bit reactionary in trying to avoid the typical “what abouting” that some radical men’s rights do towards the issue of domestic violence and overuse of the faulty “conflict scale” developed by Strauss and Gelles (which notoriously muddles “reactive” violence/aggression by victims with violent instigation by perpetrators and therefore frames women as nearly equally violent to men).

The fact remains that women are far more likely to be injured and die in domestic violence situations than men. Male/female violent crime statistics haven’t changed in a 100 years even with the advent of modern feminism. But here’s the challenge for feminists (of which I’m one): as the coercive control model gains traction, it may eventually be discovered that women are– if not equal instigators– a little more equal with men in terms of perpetrating subviolent forms of abuse like coercive control.

Again– it’s all pretty messy and lives are at stake. But one solution is to start letting chips fly one by one by increasing the dialogue around each of these complexities and also funding a lot of relevant research. That’s my (long) two cents.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  Tracy Schorn

The point was– like so many things– brought up on this site (reason 5m why the blog rocks). Yesterday NoShitCupcakes posted something that I think highlights how every generation of abusers will– for the purpose of otherizing– enthusiastically borrow from past phrasing that was coined specifically for the purpose of otherizing. NSC wrote:

“The entire quote is “Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned.” – William Congreve (1697)
The basic plot is: The Mourning Bride—Congreve’s only tragedy—concerns Almeria, daughter of King Manuel of Granada, who secretly marries Alphonso, the son of her father’s hated enemy, King Anselmo of Valencia. Almeria is separated from her husband in a shipwreck, but they are reunited when Alphonso, in disguise, is captured by Manuel along with the manipulative Moorish queen Zara. Through a series of tragic machinations, Manuel is mistakenly executed by his own orders, Zara commits suicide, and Alphonso helps overthrow the government and publicly regains his bride.
Almeria wasn’t the speaker of the line and I suspect Congreve was having a go at the “Moors” and their supposedly base characters. In 1603 Shakespeare wrote ‘Othello’, when the English were scratching their heads about “Blackmoores” and the slave trade was in its infancy. Congreve is his contemporary.
It is said that Shakespeare based ‘Othello’ on ‘Un Capitano Moro’, written in 1565.
Anyway, I think the phrase is supposed to say more about “those” women who aren’t English than directed at all women.
Still sucks.”

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago

Re; the financial abuse aspect CL mentioned, we need to expand what is included in that. We have to factor in not just money spent on the cheating itself, but the need for compensation for the pain and suffering of the chump, as well as related costs such as having to move and to get therapy (for both chumps and their kids) to try to recover from the abuse. Add into that lost time off work and the health care costs of stress related illnesses and legal costs. These are all costs unjustly forced on the chump, so they are part and parcel of financial abuse. Maybe the cheater didn’t predict all these costs, but that’s not considered a valid excuse in other areas. You can, for example, sue a company (or a person) over an accident they didn’t forsee, and you can be compensated for those costs. Cheaters *should* have been able to predict those costs when they deliberately set out on a destructive course of action. The legal standard is usually what a reasonable person could have forseen, so why the double standard? Why aren’t cheaters expected to be reasonable and held to account if they are careless with another person’s life?

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

OHFFS,
I am just having a rough day, and I just feel so defeated. I see your comment here about financial abuse, and you aren’t wrong, not by a long shot. But I live in a no fault state, and I just don’t see any of what you are saying ever being addressed in a no fault state in any way at all, let alone significantly.

The truth of the matter, is that despite my rage at what he did. And to be clear, “what he did ” wasn’t just the affair. He wasn’t a good partner even before he cheated. He’s selfish and mean, and if I am being honest, he made my life so much harder than it had to be. (I stayed because of FOO issues that made all of this feel acceptable) But despite all he did, I don’t actually want to screw him over. Being in a no fault state means that for the most part, all I can get is a 50/50 division. His job pays a lot better than mine, so I’m sure me getting half the saving feels unfair to him. Even though the divorce is 100% the result of his choices, he still will feel that is unfair. But I am not interested in “sticking it to him” (good thing because in this state, that doesn’t happen anyway) I just want a fair settlement and to quietly live my life, hopefully co parenting as best I can for my kids.

But what really pains me is the house. He doesn’t like it. I’m there currently, and he rents elsewhere. But the official proceedings haven’t started, so what will happen is still unknown. Since he is already out, and dislikes it, I think he would truly be fine with eventually buying a new home that suits him better. I would love to stay here, but the market is crazy, so I can’t afford to buy him out. And there just isn’t enough to bargain with. My half of the retirement /savings won’t cover the buyout. If I take a loan, I will no longer be able to afford the mortgage on my own. Ironically, had DDay happened when he started his affair, and not years in, maybe I could have bought him out as the equity hadn’t grown so much. If we sell and split the profit, I’ll have a nice boost to my savings account. (And I realize that is infinitely better than many chumps get, I do, like I said today is a bad day and I am wallowing and I know it) But I wouldn’t be able to afford anything in this area currently, between prices skyrocketing and interest rates being so high. I want to stay in this area for my children because of school. They are teens. And even renting pet friendly apartments with my two dogs would be so much in this area. I specifically didn’t get the dogs until we owned a home, and if I knew that he was going to find a schmoopie and discard me, maybe, and it’s a big maybe, I might have still gotten one, but I definitely wouldn’t have gotten two. (Again, cheating is not just a shitty moral choice, the chump is making decisions based on a false life)

All this to say, if infidelity was seen as abuse across the board and treated as such, I’d get this house that he doesn’t even want. I’d happily give him as much as I could towards the the actual buyout amount. It’s simply that I don’t have all of it. In the meantime, he could go buy a house tomorrow without the buyout and afford it, as he has a high paying job. Where is the fairness in this? That I am old and about to lose the one thing that might add security to my retirement years, when he’ll be fine no matter what. (A FW shithead, but “fine” all the same)

We are where we are because of his choices, choices he made without my consent, and carried out for years before I even knew it was happening. And today I really do feel like wailing “it’s not fair!!!!”. Again, apologies to the chumps that had/have it so much worse. I am just really feeling awful today. Usually I don’t dwell because it’s pointless, forge onward and all that. And I know that no matter what, I’m better off not married to him. But today I am really feeling how unfair it is that we end up with these shit sandwiches that we didn’t order.

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

Sort of – Speak to several attorneys. Some chumps have put a retainer on a joint credit card, but perhaps there’s a downside to that. If your husband is still interested in any image management (like keeping the OW out of it), use that fleeting opportunity. You’re right, it isn’t fair. The healing can’t start after the divorce is final.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

I hear you, Sortof. Check with your lawyer, though. No fault doesn’t necessarily mean you have to split everything. Your kids are minors and in school, so there is a case to be made for you keeping the house for the sake of stability in their lives.

It’s no fault where I am, so FW thought he was golden, but his own lawyer informed him that no fault does not mean the other party has to agree to 50/50 everything, and that if I were to take him to court, I’d probably get more because I support a disabled daughter. FW, seeking to avoid having his deeds aired in court, agreed to my demands. Don’t underestimate the power of embarrassing a FW.

It is a common misconception that no fault means you have to accept 50% and you can’t have the case adjudicated. I don’t know about your jurisdiction, but you probably can. In my no fault jurisdiction, you can still get a quicker divorce if you file based on infidelity, so it is certainly not 100% no fault.

That said, yes, it is horribly unfair and it’s needlessly cruel to force you out of your home. I would fight that with everything I had in me. Can you keep us updated on how that goes? I wish I could say something that would help you feel better. Please don’t apologize for your feelings. FW probably trained you to do that. Well fuck him. Shout those feelings from the rooftops! ❤

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

SortofOverIt–

I get the very strong feeling that, throughout this relationship, you were heavily “fear/obligation/guilted” as some kind of exploitative “whore” who was making your STBX suffer untold horrors having to work towards your impossible (and sinfully) materialist standards to the point that you are now repeatedly declaring how you “don’t care” about a genuinely fair settlement and aren’t “out for money.”

Just consider that you may have been– over the course of many frog-boiled, unfairly-accused years– gaslighted into that mental framework. And, if so, there’s a big, giant tax on that kind of abuse as far as I’m concerned.

Please go for the maximum settlement allowable. I hate what this asshole did to you.

CBN
CBN
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

SortofOverIt,

I just wanted to say that your feelings are very valid. It’s not the pain Olympics, and your situation, while not as bad as some, is still horrific and that’s all that matters. I could have written every single word you wrote. It’s my situation almost exactly, especially the house. FW refused to sell at Dday, and by the time he agreed two years later, prices had skyrocketed, so even with my 50% share I couldn’t buy anything in our area. I’m also in a no-fault state and my 50% of other assets wasn’t enough to buy him out. I might have been able to stretch, but I didn’t think it was wise to be house poor going into retirement. I could have forced a sale at Dday, which in the back of my mind I knew would be financially prudent, but I was too emotionally exhausted to go through a lawsuit, and he was letting me stay there rent free with our son for two years while son finished HS, so I just acquiesced. I ended up buying a crappy house on the outskirts of our former area, and every day I wake up in this house, I get pissed off all over again. He should have given me the marital home outright – that would have been “fair,” but until FWs are treated as the abusers they are, nothing will change, and we’ll be relegated to our 50% after (in my case) almost 30 years with FW. So unfair. My 20-year-old son had some friends over recently who had never seen where he grew up, and I heard later that he drove all of them by the old house to show it to them. I’m sure he’s sad to have lost the house and neighborhood he grew up in, and he’s probably not proud of where he lives now. Makes me sad on so many levels. I can’t even drive by the old house, and I’m sure I never will. And FW is from a wealthy family, which makes it even worse.

You can try to use waste of marital assets as a bargaining chip or offset of some kind. I wanted to keep my full pension, so I used it in that way. I also did not ask for child support for the last two years of HS as a way for him to stay away from my pension as I’m close to retirement. It all sucks; everything you said is so valid. I actually wanted to stick it to my exFW, but that’s impossible given how no-fault divorce plays out.

((Hugs))

Leedy
Leedy
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

“if they are careless with another person’s life”: this is a crucial point about cheating, and it needs to be made again and again. The interview with Dr. Minwalla is so powerful on this point.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Just WOW–

Try Googling what Dr. Minwalla described as a new addition to the DSM-5 by searching “DSM-5 + spouse and partner abuse.” CRICKETS. Maybe other people can find alternative ways of wording this that could bring up results. I have no doubt Dr. Minwalla is accurately reporting the addition but suspect it’s simply not being discussed or that discussions are being excluded or deoptimized from search results.

But hey, I found several detailed anatomical diagrams for space aliens and everything Esther Perel ever mumbled.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Please riddle me how the STDs caused by cheating can be minimized and depriorized when it’s so huge it’s driving the GLOBAL HIV EPIDEMIC.

“HIV activists are struggling to find ways to address one of Uganda’s biggest health crises: soaring HIV infections among couples, caused largely by cheating spouses.”https://www.voanews.com/a/infidelity-root-cause-of-ugandas-chaning-aids-epidemic/1644720.html

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Another thought– I think that female cheating might actually be shaped a bit by absorbing male role values in terms of internalized misogyny.

Think about it: How many she-cheaters are really and truly friends to other women/supporters of the sisterhood? None that I’ve ever encountered, even those that selectively give lip service to feminism. It’s the same for female “mate-poachers.” In my many years of working in a very top-down, perv-laden and patriarchal field, chronic workplace “side dishes” and she-FWs (who often use sex as part of career advancement) will typically be the first to throw other women under the bus and side with perpetrators in workplace harassment situations. I’ve never once met a genuinely, cohesively feminist she-cheater. Dig around and you’ll invariably find rape myth acceptance and victim blaming (unless they’re victimized themselves, then the tune may very temporarily change).

A friend and fellow DV survivors’ advocate would call the above types “men with breasts” because– regardless of how these women often consciously exaggerate rather cartoonish “feminine” behaviors (“sexy baby voice,” simpering, fawning towards men, playing helpless, etc.)– the adoption of and adaption to patriarchal dog-eat-dog, zero sum game and hierarchical structures and values mostly *requires* interpersonal aggression.

Also, how many she-FWs will betray mild-mannered good provider types for knuckle-dragging thugs and obvious abusers of power? That scenario seems typical on this site.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago

I think women have (in general) always been more willing to throw another woman under the bus. Not all of course; but dang competition among women is so prevalent it is a stereotype.

We should support each other, and I have never tromped a woman unethically, or a man either. But women have never had the reputation for having each others back en masse.

I am talking about in general life, not an organized march.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

There are some interesting studies about how women tend to express aggression through covert verbal attacks/triangulation against other people’s social status (particularly other women) and even do this at a considerably higher rate than men. But it’s still true that men kill men 8 times more than they even kill women and a lot of this relates to status and sexual competition.

So I guess you could say that, while women are far less murderous and violent than men, females can still be plenty nasty and also tend to be really sneaky about it.

susie lee
susie lee
7 months ago

Yes we all have traits we have to tame. I think Chumps in general tend to be the ones that have developed more self control and character. I also think a cheater really hates to lose a good chump, that is why the “lets be friends” is usually brought up.

I took a psychology class many years ago about the murder/insanity differences between the sexes. It was a bell curve that showed like you said that violence among men was way more prevalent among women, and also far more men were of genius stature, but along with that was that they suffered more from mental illness.

This was back in the late 80s, I am sure the narrative has been changed on a lot of it.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

As far as the genius thing, I think some of the former flaming biases in IQ testing have been reduced a bit with remaining gaps in class/race/socioeconomic status. And then there’s still the issue of “disappearing gifted girls” between kindergarten and 7th grade. In kindergarten, half of children with measurably “exceptional” abilities are female. By seventh grade, only a quarter. Researchers concluded that differences in socialization were causing girls to sublimate and repress their abilities.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago

One more thing I wanted to bring up, which was not addressed in the podcast. It’s the psychosexual harm to others caused by the sexual basement. Not just to chumps, but even to the children of the FW. I know my daughter still struggles with knowing her father is a degenerate and how confusing and frightening it is for her. She was just starting to develop her sexuality at the time around Dday, with her very first sexual partner, and finding out this awful stuff (FW was not discreet with the details at all!) was terribly damaging. She thought she must be a degenerate as well, because he was her father. She lost her first relationship and hasn’t been in one since. She has been struggling with her self esteem around sex and relationships.

For the chump, just knowing you have been sleeping with a degenerate for however many years can turn you off sex, potentially for life. It has for me. It can also cause confusion about who you are sexually. FWs tend to bend their chumps to their twisted fantasies. They give indications (or make statements outright) that this is how you can prevent them from straying. You realize you were compromising who you are to try to keep somebody faithful, and the kicker is that it didn’t even work. It’s incredibly painful and shame inducing.

These costs are never accounted for by traditional therapists, naturally. We hear; “children are resilient” and are told to “move on.” Every person has a different level of resilience. My daughter, being both mentally ill and physically disabled, is not very resilient. FW knew that full well and still did the vile things he did, then loudly told gory details she should never have heard.

I still wish a painful, lingering death on him when I think about what he’s done to her. I doubt that will ever change, meh or no meh. There is no “moving on” from having to watch your child suffer. Yes, she is in therapy and has been for a long time. It’s still a problem.

Perhaps a future Friday challenge could be talking about the impact on our kids?

SortofOverIt
SortofOverIt
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

“They give indications (or make statements outright) that this is how you can prevent them from straying. You realize you were compromising who you are to try to keep somebody faithful, and the kicker is that it didn’t even work. It’s incredibly painful and shame inducing.”

Louder for the people in the back! Your wording is so accurate to my situation and still vague enough that I finally feel comfortable enough to say that I dealt with this too.

OHFFS
OHFFS
7 months ago
Reply to  SortofOverIt

I’m sorry you went through this nightmare too, Sortof. It’s the part I find has stuck with me the most, sort of like the memory of a unspeakably foul odor. Do you find it hard to shake those memories? I sure do.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago
Reply to  OHFFS

Great points. There’s a study finding that partners of porn users have measurably lower self esteem than average.

There’s a big difference between open and frank discussions of sex (within a social justice framework) and subjecting others to intrusive sexual aggression. I can remember the violating, intrusive, darkness-beckoning “dick across the face” feeling of dealing with even supposedly “minor” sexually aggressive behaviors like exBIL’s open ogling (which FW’s sister pretended not to notice… and then ten minutes later she would lash out at women in some seemingly random way because someone had to pay for the shit sandwiches she ate).

So gross. We’d be out in the park with toddlers and BIL would suddenly blatantly gawk at some way-too-young teenager or other and make loud nudge-nudge remarks. One minute I’d be in some innocent, pastoral mindset watching babies do baby things in the sunshine lala… and then SMACK, unwanted dick in my face. At one point, in response to this behavior, I even said to exBIL that he didn’t have to keep “proving” to us he wasn’t homosexual. That really caught him off guard.

Thinking FW was Mr. Woke Ally in comparison, I started calling this “dick spamming.” Curious how he didn’t laugh that hard when I’d chant under my breath something along the lines of:

I do not like this penis spam
I do not like it Sam-I-am
I do not want it in the park
I do not want it after dark
I do not want it in my craw
I do not like this dick-in-law

Behavior like that always casts a pall on otherwise beautiful occasions. In fact, I suspect it’s a kind of “desecrationism” meant to do just that. D-Day was the ultimate dick in the whole family’s faces. My daughter had been on her first chaparoned kiddy tween date with her big crush at the time a few weeks before D-day.

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
7 months ago

As a male chump who did all the traditionally female tasks in the marriage, with an XW who was the higher earner:

I think the podcast conflates the concepts of maleness and power. I understand that these often go together, and that traditional received models of masculinity often melds them , but they are not the same thing and are increasingly independent. A lot of the behavior referred to in the podcast – particularly the psychological ones such as entitlement, dishonesty, gaslighting, etc – are designed to hold, increase and wield power in the relationship. That power may be used for sexual ends (and perhaps that’s more common in men) but it doesn’t have to be.

My XW, who is a high-profile, highly remunerated scientist, certainly used these abusive methods in our marriage and continues to use them against me (to the extent I am still vulnerable), our children, and her coworkers. I am sure she them picked up from her father (a grade A asshole) and probably from mentoring by her overwhelmingly male colleagues, so in our brave new world these power-seeking/wielding pathologies can – and increasingly will – be transmitted across gender lines.

I don’t know if it’s relevant, but she also developed some symptoms of toxic male sexuality (come upstairs now; no foreplay; 3 minutes to orgasm; turn over and go to sleep). I knew that I was supposed to like this as it was basically “wham, bam, thank you ma’am” but it actually often left me feeling just … empty. She also left me for a younger man, so she absorbed that lesson as well.

Anyway, my two cents is that a lot of the described behavior is a result of a set of attitudes towards, and access to, power rather than anything inherent in gender.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
7 months ago

Involuntary Georgian,

I wrote an earlier comment about how she-FWs may still often reflect “gendered” power imbalance through internalization of dog-eat-dog and objectifying “patriarchal” values. It might be expressed with things like ambivalence or contempt towards men who show more nurturing “positive masculinity” traits and an intense sexual attraction to swaggering mega-creeps. It could also be expressed by a tendency to– despite any public virtue-signalling about “feminist” values– “diss” other women on sexually competitive grounds. The latter style of competition can be really covert and snakey among women who attempt to “front” as professionally competent if the criticisms of other women appear to be based on weakness or lack of “feminist creds,” But the underlying message is usually that younger and prettier women are all bunch of “hos” and bimbos.

When I worked in a competitive, sexism-ridden industry, I saw a lot of creepy professional asshole women who seemed to adhere to only a “hyper-masculine model” of competence by trying to out-cut-throat the men they worked with (in spite of research showing that a mixed management model of “masculine” and “feminine” organizational leadership styles is the most beneficial). I would sometimes hear people criticizing these types of ball-breaking women as “damned feminists” but the interesting thing is that none were ever genuine champions of other women’s success.

I dealt with a FW who deeply contradicted his supposedly “woke/egalitarian” public persona by being a creepy, sexual-power-mad freak in his double life. So I wonder if what really defines FW’s– regardless of gender or political bent– is just radical contradiction and hypocrisy more than anything else.

Elsie_
Elsie_
7 months ago

My attorney commented once that if you believe you have power over an adult in a romantic relationship, you don’t have a good relationship, period. He was a powerhouse divorce attorney, particularly in the trial arena. And yet he clearly valued and respected his wife greatly. She was the business manager of the firm, and the few times I observed them together was like poetry. The younger associate who took my closeout said that he had never seen a couple so in tune with each other in such a complete partnership.

hush
hush
7 months ago
Reply to  Elsie_

“Power Over” vs. “Power With” is such a helpful framework for thinking through these issues. I recommend Patricia Evans’ “The Verbally Abusive Relationship” – this book really helped me to grasp the need to avoid romantic relationships with folks who have a “Power Over” tendency in life.

2xchump
2xchump
7 months ago

So I listened and IMO Tracy needs to get her PHD and follow this topic down to the nerve endings. She gets what very very few ever do, Yes, Even very insighful ad excellent in his historical processing of these topic, yes Dr.Minwalla who has the edge on all other RIC STILL thinks that these cheaters and basement dwellers are redemptive in some way. You can and must make money on chumps and their cheaters. How else unless you say you can cure them or turn them around. So you SINK more years into this pattern of coping? Expose yourself to more diseases and stay with a lying liar that lies and get gas lit into eternity. I’ve had two cheaters in my life long term.. and they stay shallow, they remain looking for more and more, they are never happy and they pretend to be loving, adoring husbands and fathers. It is a progressive issue like any addiction, that does not get” cured” but must be fought every single day” with some kind of 12 step that allows slips?. How do you even do research on these people who cope with life by going down into their sexual basement, their fantasy world where their obsession can grow and grow into a beast. How do you do research when they are liars that lie and they are covered for by every man who cheats and every woman who has lived with it and accepted it as the norm. I’ve had a whole church, except for a few people, cover for a blatant cheater? They are afraid like I have leprosy because I locked my cheater out. Many have “forgiven” so what is my problem? <Many have basements going or emotional affairs going. Some are starting others are ingrained.So I guess Dr. Minwalla has seen a spectrum of people. Everyone needs to make a living. You cannot make a living trying to cure this basement abuser. They do not want to be helped IMO unless they are criminal and want out of prison terms. I am very negative about the hope of this coping situation and I have not seen a cure that I can believe. I say, get a post nup, use condoms, keep your GYN handy, and get your bank accounts in order. You are not in safe hands.

Shadow
Shadow
7 months ago

That was a really helpful interview, thank you, in fact in parts, it made me very sad and even a bit tearful and I mean the parts about these men with SSBs and the sex industry, which described what really is the total dehumanisation of women, not just sex workers but even loving, devoted wives and female partners! It really is an utter refusal to love selflessly. I believe the ability and willingness to love selflessly is crucial for healthy, successful relating to others, even in friendships.

Viktoria
Viktoria
7 months ago

Good podcast. Great content. Found you, Tracy, and Dr. Minwalla around the same time after my D- day and have felt wonderfully validated and supported ever since. Thank you to you both for helping me survive this deep trauma and helping me understand the reality of what this is really all about.

Viktoria
Viktoria
7 months ago
Reply to  Viktoria

Infidelity, secret porn use, secret sexual basement, the secret prostitutes, it’s partner abuse!

ex·tin·guish.er
ex·tin·guish.er
4 months ago

This episode changed my life. My husband had all the basements…sexual, financial, whatever the f*** you call hiding a gun in our home for four years and not telling me. He has lied to me for years, and likely our whole relationship. I was probably just the thing that made him look normal. Basically, I WAS his spackle. Consider that gaslight extinguished.