What Marriage Counselors Get Wrong About Infidelity

marriage counseling infidelity

Marriage counseling on infidelity usually presumes reconciliation. Like this article in the Washington Post that the Universal Bullshit Translator recently pilloried“Should an Affair Be Disclosed? Risks of Hiding or Revealing Infidelity“. Its author, therapist Yael Schonbrun, reached out to me.

 I’m working on a book about misunderstandings between people and would love to interview you for it. In addition to helping me understand your view better, it could also be helpful for spreading the word about your work. And, of course, it would help me, too.

What do you think? Would you be open to a conversation?

Yes. I would, I said.

Hang on, Tracy. You’re the Leave a Cheater lady. Why are you talking to an agent of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex?

Well, not every therapist is a shiny-haired quack trying to sell you $399 affair-proof-your-marriage seminars.

Some of them sincerely believe you can heal a marriage after infidelity. Of course, I’m hugely skeptical that’s a relationship worth having — and skeptical about marriage counseling for infidelity in general. Nonetheless, as I’m trying to change the narrative about infidelity, I can’t just talk with people who agree with me. So, if someone wants to “understand my view” better, I’m happy to set the snark aside. (Alas, I cannot say the same for the Universal Bullshit Translator, which is fueled by German confections and bile.)

When we spoke via Zoom, I found Yael Schonbrun to be an intellectually curious person who seemed sincerely interested in our 11-year thought experiment over here at Chump Nation — leave a cheater, gain a life.

My chump cred.

On the chance there’s a community of chump-curious therapists, here’s a blueprint of my “misunderstandings” (critiques) of marriage counseling when it comes to infidelity.

Hang on, who are you to criticize the therapy industry? They have studies! Science! You’re a bit of journalistic fluff. A clickbait artist! A cynic! You have a bazillion stories, but they’re self-selecting! Of bitter people who didn’t save their marriages!

  1. I’m a critical thinker who was chumped. You don’t need an advanced degree to point out nonsense. But if you do, I have a useless masters in southern African history.
  2. Millions of people visit this site every year and share their stories, here and on CN social media. I believe scientists call this “one hell of a data set.” Welcome researchers!
  3. I’m not cynical. I argue you can hold out for better than a partner who abuses you. It’s a question of where you put your faith — I put it in chumps. Not the character recovery of abusers. Learning to captain your own ship is optimism, not cynicism. What I’ve learned about infidelity comes with lived experience and the shared experience of others. Statistically, that’s way more people than are ever going to sit on a single shrink sofa.

Without further ado, here’s what I’d like therapists to understand about cheating:

Infidelity is abuse.

This is our fundamental “misunderstanding.” Whatever advice you’re giving about infidelity — ask yourself if you’d give the same advice to domestic violence or fraud victims. If someone slammed your face through a window would you tell them to “make the marriage a good place to be” so as not to anger their abuser? If Bernie Madoff embezzled your client’s retirement savings, would you tell the mark that this experience would likely make their relationship with the embezzler stronger? Would you expect the victims to be wholly invested in the rehabilitation of their abusers?

No, that seems ridiculous. Because we see physical violence and financial fraud as transgressive, criminal, and scarring. Yet the conventional wisdom (in the world at large and in marriage counseling) doesn’t see infidelity as abuse. Self-improvement, self-recrimination, and deeper investment are the messages commonly given to chumps by prominent therapists like Esther Perel or the Gottmans.

Cheating — having a double life, sexually acting out, conspiring against your partner — is psychological abuse (gaslighting, blameshifting). It’s sexual abuse (lack of consent, humiliation). Financial abuse (double lives cost money). It’s the theft of your reality (time, opportunity costs). It has physical costs (STDs, trauma). I outline this argument in greater depth here and here.

We don’t make people abuse us.

If you work from the premise that infidelity is abuse, then you must logically conclude that we do not compel people to abuse us. Just like we don’t drive them to drink, or make them hit us. Our faults, real or imagined, do not make someone create dating profiles or blow their bosses. We don’t control other people. And if we did, we wouldn’t choose rejection as our superpower.

Ergo, “unmet needs” in marriages don’t make people cheat. Unhappiness doesn’t make someone cheat (in fact, most cheaters report they’re perfectly happy.) Two people may be unhappy and have unmet needs — only one of them is conducting a secret life.

A partner may truly suck — there are ethical ways to address that — therapy, hard conversations, and divorce attorneys. So this isn’t a couple problem, it’s an unethical person problem. It’s a dishonesty problem. There is no dual accountability. Yet chumps who go for marriage counseling for infidelity are constantly asked to examine their “role”.

By framing infidelity as a marriage problem, the victim blaming is baked in.

A focus on marital discord (communication styles, unhappiness, sexual dissatisfaction, whatever) validates the idea that partners are permitted to harm chumps because they were “unhappy” with them. And that the abuse chumps suffered (exposure to STDs, gaslighting, blameshifting, the agony of betrayal) is proportionate to their faults.

I don’t think that! (Imaginary therapist)

THEN WHY ARE WE TALKING ABOUT IT? Back to point #1 — if you accept infidelity as abuse, then you wouldn’t ask a DV victim to discuss all her annoying habits that led her husband to stub his cigarette butts out on her face. You can disavow cigarette burns all you want, (use your words, not your Marlboros!) but if you earnestly discuss her faults and his dissatisfaction with her, you’re implying causality. She triggered him. She can control him by controlling herself.

If you think having a cigarette stubbed out on your face is worse than being chumped, you’ve never been chumped.

So, you’re saying therapy is hopeless?

It would seem to me, the couple should be on separate therapy tracks. Marriage counseling is the wrong approach to infidelity. Because a victim is not responsible for the rehabilitation of his/her abuser. And the odds are long on character transplants.

Personally, I think anyone that responds to marital dissatisfaction with cigarette burns or a secret sexual basement isn’t a safe partner. And may be a sociopath. And I have better things to do with my life than wait for the cure. I would not encourage or promote reconciliation, period.

Stop sanitizing infidelity.

Marriage therapists, you still with me? Please stop saying “mistake” (singular). Stop saying “wayward.” Stop the euphemisms.

Get REAL about the experience. Read this letter from a young mother who had to STD test during her pregnancy because her husband was fucking strange while they were in marriage counseling. That story is an average afternoon on the Facebook page. I’ve lost count of how many women discovered STDs during their pre-natal exams. Or men who had to paternity test their children. Or people who lost their savings to “sex addiction.”

Oh, or worse, spending $10K on a sex addiction ranch retreat, only to get blamed for the “addiction.” (Google Patrick Carnes.)

Or children who open a parent’s laptop and discover evidence of an affair. Or children who are introduced to affair partners and pressed into conspiracies against the chump parent. Family members who knew. Friends who knew. Co-workers who knew. Betrayals on top of betrayals. But hey, infidelity is just a private thing between two people. Can’t judge. Mustn’t tell!

We haven’t even gotten into suicidal grief or the infidelity diet yet. The stress illnesses. The PTSD.

That’s what infidelity looks like. It’s not — to quote Esther Perel — “an exuberant act of defiance.” Nor is it self actualization. Or the heart wants what the heart wants. It’s an abusive power trip. With real costs to its victims.

Be skeptical.

Cheaters are not reliable narrators. Heck, they might be Dark Triad personality disorders. One night stands aren’t likely. Neither are mid-life crises. What is common — judge me by my enormous data set — is serial cheating. That’s the infidelity norm, IMO. Not one-offs. Not exit affairs with your cute co-worker. But cake — having double (triple, quadruple) helpings. Monogamy for thee, but not for me.

Consider the Ashley Madison hack — 37 million extramarital cheaters. Or wannabes. Or consider the estimated $186 billion a year spent on prostitution in the U.S.. All those johns can’t be single. Serial cheating appears to be a preferred lifestyle for many. But when you hear infidelity discussed, it’s cast as the drunken one-night stand at the conference. A singular mistake. Followed by an immediate pivot to a chump’s inability to forgive.

Police yourselves.

Do you know how many predators and charlatans are in your ranks? How many so-called “sex addicts” become sex therapists? And blame the victims as co-dependents or “intimacy anorexics”? Do you know how much spiritual abuse there is out there? Do you know how many people peddle false hope to vulnerable people that they can “affair proof” their marriages? (For an exorbitant price, of course. Google Andrew G Marshall, Michelle Weiner Davis, Mort Fertel…)

Hopium is incredibly profitable. Please understand that the average chump who finds you has Googled and found this “help.” They’ve probably internalized the message that they are the problem and can single-handedly save their marriages. And then wasted a shit-ton of money on it.

Do no harm.

Look, it’s a beautiful thing to want to save a marriage. And you might read these arguments as incredibly sad and cynical and lacking a deeper understanding of what true commitment is. Most chumps, unless they were abandoned, tried to reconcile first. They gave second and 14th chances. They loved with their whole hearts.

So this is not an embittered perspective I’m offering you. It’s a fundamental disagreement about what marriage is.

Relationships can endure. That doesn’t make them successful.

People who devalue you so utterly, are a failed currency. They can’t reinstate your value and appreciate you afresh, because they’ll always be someone capable of casually betraying you. To stay is to forever live with the mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance of such “love.”

And my God, don’t you have something better to do with your life than be an option at the cheater’s pussy buffet?

That’s so crude, Tracy. So transactional.

Exactly.

For more reading on my marriage counseling with a cheater skepticism see:

The Fallacy of Blissful Ignorance.

The Fallacy of Unmet Needs.

The Dual Accountability Therapy Fallacy.

The Redeemable Cheater Fallacy.

The Myth of the 50-50 Marriage.

Subscribe
Notify of

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

91 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Chump-Domain Cleric
Chump-Domain Cleric
1 month ago

This is so wonderfully put. You’re so honest about it, saying what needs to be said. Thank you, Tracy, for all your hard work.

Lola Granola
Lola Granola
1 month ago

Magnificent. This should go into the Top Ten Posts for this blog of all time.

I’m so grateful to this site, to all its contributors, and to its feisty Big Mama for ripping off the band-aid.

In my next life, I’m going to survey the shit out of you all, and write huge research reports based on your data.

MamaMeh
MamaMeh
1 month ago
Reply to  Lola Granola

Lola, can I please be your research assistant?

(Like CL, I too have a useless Masters. In guess what … Art Therapy … yes I know the dubious Perelness of that, don’t judge me! I did super-well in qualitative research methods, however, and geez how good would it be to mine this solid gold data seam and give the chump narrative “evidence” legitimacy?)

Conchobara
Conchobara
1 month ago
Reply to  MamaMeh

Then I’ll take all that data and write endless articles and whitepapers for publication to spread the Chumpology far & wide (I have an English degree I actually do use for work as a copywriter). 🙂

ClearWaters
ClearWaters
1 month ago
Reply to  Lola Granola

Took the words out of my mouth!

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago

Epic post. I hope the therapist gets it. I can’t see how a truly intellectually curious person could just dismiss the perfect logic of this. CL is right and the RIC is wrong. It really is that simple.

Bruno
Bruno
1 month ago

Hit out of the park!
Again.

MamaMeh
MamaMeh
1 month ago
Reply to  Bruno

Standing ovation!

Bluewren
Bluewren
1 month ago

Wonderfully said.
Infidelity is nothing short of deliberate harm and abuse.
It’s high time it was treated as such by therapists and those who do such things were treated as the disordered dangerous humans they are.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Bluewren

Well said! I have begun to think it should also be a crime, punishable in law, at least in some of the worse cases when the victim’s life and/or health have been affected negatively, and certainly when children have been hurt or harmed psychologically by a parent’s infidelity!
I don’t know about prison sentences, but being made to pay the victim’s life expenses, any health care bills, and being prevented from contact with the children in the worst cases or when the cheat just abandons them but being made to pay maintenance to the point of it being deducted from wages or even from State Benefits/Social Welfare. I also think that infidelity causing cheats to have a criminal record would be justified, because if they’ve deceived and betrayed someone they vowed to love and be loyal to for life, I think they’d be a bad bet as an employee due to their capacity for sheer deviousness and dishonesty! They’ve stolen the person they vowed to be faithful to for life’s reality , future, peace of mind and probably health, mental and physical an often have stolen financially as well, so why on Earth is it NOT treated as a crime, just like physical and sexual abuse and like coercive control now is in the UK and some other countries?

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

I recently had the interesting experience of following an old link of Tracy’s to the Reddit Adultery forum to see what the hell they’re talking about over there. It’s as bad as you would imagine, lol, but the thing that struck me the most was how totally unconcerned these people are about their spouses (or SOs as they say). One of the threads was about a woman who was preparing for a weekend, I guess, with her AP, and the lingerie she was bringing, and the posters were all discussing various ways she could hide this from her husband – not just the weekend but the clothes themselves (as well as where you can buy the sluttiest ones). It was like sneaking into the Vampires Ball and seeing these critters in action. They are NOT like us. They just aren’t. They have no concern about their spouses AT ALL except to hide what they’re doing and keep lying. There’s no guilt, no concern – I’m not saying they may not have serious marital problems but…..this is what they like to do….fuck other people and hide it from their spouses. I tried to make some comments about….why do you do this….why don’t you just tell him the truth or ask for an open marriage or try to improve things because….I think these people need to hear someone sane for a change propose something healthier. I GOT BANNED. They like the echo chamber support of other cheaters.

The bottom line though that stays with me is….THEY’RE NOT LIKE US. THEY DON’T THINK OR FEEL LIKE US. They really ARE as fucked up and peculiar as we think they are. Don’t ever forget that. There’s something missing in these folks. Marriage counseling DOES NOT WORK with people like this – they won’t tell the truth, they have no ideas about changing anything…..they just want to hide their shit from us and keep eating cake…and pie….and donuts….and Turkish Taffy. People need to realize this at a very deep level….they don’t WANT to heal the marriage…..they want to play these games of Master of the Sexual Universe and they want to keep hiding it and lying about it because THEY ENJOY DOING THIS. It’s as simple as that.

Conchobara
Conchobara
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

100% – On DDay FW confessed everything with zero emotion. I had no idea he even could cheat, let alone that he’d been doing it for almost a decade. With lots of very young women. In addition to an inflection-less recital of his deeds was the calm recitation that he was done. He wasn’t interested in therapy, he wasn’t interested in working on our marriage. He wasn’t interested in marriage.

After DDay when he’d bring things up, it was with a smirk or a gleam in his eye; he was essentially low-key bragging about how dumb I was and how easy it was to fool me. These instances, of course, came with a side of gaslighting and devaluing for good measure. There is no question in my mind that a big part of the excitement was in ‘getting one (or many) over on’ me.

The worst and most chilling thing was on DDay when he looked at me completely coolly and said, “I told you I was a good liar.” I knew then that there was no point, even if I wanted to preserve our marriage (I didn’t). He would continue as he’d been doing because there was no remorse, no feeling there. He just wanted to do what he wanted to do. He didn’t care about my feelings or thoughts. Later he even admitted that he knew it would hurt me that he cheated but “I just didn’t care.”

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

What an interesting thread! Mehitable, thank you for starting it!

doublechump
doublechump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I wonder if therapists visit that forum…

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Of course they banned you. They don’t want to hear the truth about themselves. They want to stay in their own little world with others of their noxious ilk and congratulate each other on their sociopathic behavior. I say let them wallow in their own filth.
It’s the same reason why I don’t go to places which are political echo chambers of views I despise. As horrid as they are, they have the right to converse with others of their kind in peace. I mean, would you go to a place where neo-nazis gather and try talking sense into them? Trying to speak truth to evil is pointless and could be hazardous. Don’t forget that cheaters who are that proud of their accomplishments in doing harm, just like the neo-nazis, are personality disordered and therefore they are potentially dangerous. They are not above hacking, doxxing and stalking you. So I suggest you stay away from places where vile people get together to pat each other on the back for being the scum of the earth.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Oh blimey, I’ve just read some of the stuff on that site! Those people are SCUM! Some of them are pathetic as well but they’re ALL scum from what I’ve read and some of them stink so badly of moral corruption that even the scrapings off the bottom of the barrel would turn it’s nose up at them! Ugh!
Still, know thy enemy and all that!

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Shadow

Absolutely right, Shadow. I think the bottom line message I’d like Chumps to get from a visit to a site like that is the realization that it is NOT the Chumps fault the spouses cheat (and did a lot of other things they do like stealing money)….IT’S BUILT INTO THEM. It’s the way they ARE. So you can’t really change it or affect it or counsel it away because….it’s how they WANT to live, they just have to deal with the risk of getting caught and losing their comfortable set-up with Chump. Chump provides the home base of operations but what they REALLY like to do is screw around with the APs and whatever environment they come with. That is their natural setting – Chump is just camouflage and a comfortable home base. People have to realize – IT’S NOT US. IT’S THEM. And you can’t change them, they don’t want to change. They also DON’T want open marriage or polyamory (and they definitely don’t for the Chumps)…..they want to CHEAT because it’s fun to do these things behind someone’s back. It’s like playing Secret Agent or some bullshit like that. Many people LOVE doing illicit things like cheating, drugs, high stakes gambling, illegal things.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Absolutely Mehitable! I think if you notice that someone gets a bit of a thrill from lying, “duper’s delight”, like I noticed one day my STBX did (and it was a pointless, daft little lie but he was so smug about it…and he’s still telling pointless, daft lies!), that’s a big red flag that they’re character disordered and would also enjoy cheating and other forms of devious, deceptive behaviour!
They’re con merchants really, and the only way to deal with them is to swerve them as much as you can, and when you have to deal with them, to always have it at the front of your mind that they’re just morally deviant, lying scummers, and nothing more!

ClearWaters
ClearWaters
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I learned at this blog that there is a thing called ‘duping delight’. It explains a lot.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Too true Mehitable! My FW was certainly just DELIGHTED with himself when he thought he was getting away with it because he mistook my change of demeanor and me not confronting him about his lies for submission and defeat! In fact he was what I can only describe as GIDDY with it! I also perceived how he seemed to enjoy lying, even when it was pointless! “Duper’s Delight” clearly!
It just goes to show that not only did we not know who they really were before our D Days, they didn’t know US either! My FW still doesn’t seem to, despite having underestimated me at least twice so far, because he’s still lying and trying to control the situation in petty, pathetic ways!

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Shadow

I think they inherently enjoy these kind of activities far more than they can ever enjoy normal marriage. The lying, I think, makes them feel superior to us and the normies. I’m sure they think of us as “normies” (normal, vanilla people) that they really kind of…..despise. I think many of these people, and a lot are serial cheaters, really….despise us. And when they lie and can fool us because we want to believe the best of them, they get off on it because they’re so much SMARTER than we are. As I say, I think they mainly use Chumps for camouflage….like cuckoos….to pretend they have normal lives, and also to give them the setups for a comfortable life…like built in servants who do all the adult shit and thankless tasks while they go off on lingerie buying sprees and nice vacations with their APS.

We have to STOP blaming ourselves for these activities and stop accepting blame from our society esp the RIC/MC wing. It’s not our fault, we just got taken in and played, just like Bernie Madoff’s victims. Madoff was the same kind of person, but in the financial sphere, not the sexual (that we know of).

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

I did feel sort of bad for a while because he DARVOed me…of course he did, following The Script! But I don’t blame myself at all now, as time alone has enabled me to gain a perspective that I could never have done with him around the place! I have actually felt something that feels like happiness in the last couple of weeks, and my situation hasn’t changed in any concrete way at all, it’s my inner world that’s changed!
Seeing him, and the marriage, objectively i.e. he LIKES doing the scummy things he does and is only going to get worse, has freed me emotionally. There’s no saving the marriage at all, only God Himself can save STBX and I can’t hang around for that because only God Himself knows if that’ll happen or not, and I’m actually happier without him now!
I saw on a YT video that “One of the best feelings is loosing attachment to someone you KNOW is no good for you!” and it really, really is, because anyone who likes and enjoys being deceitful and treacherous is no bloody good for anyone!

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Shadow

Same experience as I had with my ex. Until someone dropped a dime on him, he was having a ball. I didn’t figure out what was going on until about two months before he left, that was before dime drop; but his treatment of me was getting worse.

I suspect given the situation (political), the plan was to keep me in place until the end of the next year; but then someone filed an ethics complaint against him. The ethics complaint had to be filed just before or right after he left on New Years day because as soon as it was filed the admin yanked the whore out of her job and placed her in a dispatch job, which was a higher paying job. I suspect they feared a lawsuit filed by her.

I never did find out who filed that complaint, never tried really; but whoever it was I am so grateful to them. That would have been another year of my life.

Shadow
Shadow
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

Thanks be to God they did file that complaint Susie Lee! What a pair of absolute snakes those two are!

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Shadow

Yep, and they didn’t just betray me, they put a lot of folks in that admin in a horrible situation. I was an unwitting partner is helping him hide it. That is the part that caused the lasting scars, how I was used.

I include her in the whole mess because she lied and manipulated her employers same as he did. I don’t know this for sure, but I am pretty certain that he was screwing her before she got the job in the city as his direct report. I suspect there was an investigation and they found out a lot; but I never knew for sure. By then I was totally out of the picture, rebuilding my own life.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

I think that’s the truth of it, susie, they have a ball doing this stuff and hiding it from us. It’s exciting for them. They’re putting one over on the world, especially us, and they ENJOY that. It’s not being driven by unhappy marriages – some might be, but so many if not most of these people, certainly the serial cheaters, do it because they ENJOY THE EXPERIENCE. Some people paint, some people bowl, some people cheat. I saw it with my serial cheater many years ago. He wasn’t “unhappy”…..quite the opposite…..he LOVED doing this. I just danced harder (I was a lot younger then) but it didn’t do any good. I think there’s an exhilaration with this kind of activity that normal people don’t understand. We just have to teach the young uns coming up to not waste time in RIC or MC. They pretend and then just go back to what they enjoy doing once they feel it’s safe.

SouthernChump
SouthernChump
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Amen!

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

Everyone should check out these forums at least once…..as normal people you WILL be shocked and disgusted but you’ll also see that THIS IS WHAT THEY BELIEVE AND WHAT THEY ARE LIKE AND YOU CAN”T CHANGE IT. Chumps all across the world need to learn this and preach it. Fuck Marriage Counseling for infidelity.

Last edited 1 month ago by Mehitable
SouthernChump
SouthernChump
1 month ago

Perfectly said! I hope that any therapist who peddles reconciliation reads this before they barf all over more innocent victims.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
1 month ago

The fundamental problem that I have with these counsellors is that all too often they put responsibility for fixing the problem (ie the cheating and everything that goes with it) on the Chump, when it (the problem) is completely in the control of – and resulting from the unilateral decisions of – the Cheater. I think that this whole issue revolves around the historic stigma attached to divorce.

The sooner that society accepts that there are worse things than divorce – even when children are involved – and right at the top of the list is staying married to an abuser …. and I’m completely with CL when she says that cheating is abuse.

LFTT

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

Very astute point – I understand the desire to preserve marriage as a social good, but the best way to do that is to PENALIZE ADULTERY….people who abandon their spouses and kids should not get ANY CUSTODY or marital assets other than what they initially brought into the marriage. If they crap on and abandon the marriage, they should get no benefit from it. AND EVERY STATE SHOULD BE AN AT FAULT STATE. People who mutually agree to divorce because it just didn’t work out should be able to get an easy divorce but people who cheat and abandon their spouses and families should get no benefit from this and fault should be assessed. This would do far more to preserve healthy marriage by punishing the guilty, rather than trying to force Chumps to stay in fake, camouflage marriage with cheaters and turn the kids into hostages – we have to change our attitude as a society towards ADULTERY and start taking this seriously instead of viewing it as some kind of game that doesn’t destroy lives.

LookingForwardsToTuesday
LookingForwardsToTuesday
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

M,

I think that in some small way society does punish adultery, albeit in a patchy and inconsistent way. This (at least to me) explains the lengths that Ex-Mrs LFTT went to (and still goes to, although I doubt that anyone who really matters is listening) in order to deny that she had been unfaithful. While I know that she feels no guilt whatsoever about what she and her AP did, I think that the shame attached to other people knowing what she did was and still is absolutely unbearable for her.

This is why, when I divorced her (I’m in the UK) I chose to divorce her on the grounds of unreasonable behaviour (unreasonable was an understatement by any meaningful metric) rather than on the grounds of her adultery. If I had adopted the latter course, she would have dragged things out even longer than she did, costing me both time and money that I could ill afford. I just wanted her away from me so that the kids and I could begin the process of recovery. I also pushed very hard for (and got) a “clean break” so that when (not if) her illusion of a fantastic life with her AP comes crashing down (most likely when one or the other of them sobers up or the money runs out), I am not on the financial hook for bailing her out of the consequences of her decisions.

It took me a long time to realise that the only feeling that I have left for her is pity. Regardless of what she says, she knows what her and her AP did. She knows the impact that it had on her kids and I. And best of all, she knows that the kids and I are thriving without her. The money (and it was a lot) that I had to give her was simply the “price of exit” for the kids and I from a poisonous dynamic that she created, she maintained and she exploited. The fact that, rather than using the money to build a better life for herself (eg buy a house, make some investments and secure her old age) she chose to waste it on a frivolous lifestyle with her AP is on her; no longer my circus and no longer my clown.

LFTT

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago

I don’t know about UK divorce laws, but in the US most of the country seems to be No Fault divorce – it changed in the late 60s and 70s when – IMO – promiscuity began to be promoted and rewarded. I think people need to have consequences of bad behavior that makes marriage a misery for Chumps and their kids, and that destroys them in the end. People should not be allowed to profit from this nor should kids be forced to endure adulterers and their partners – Chumps should not have their kids’ time taken from them to share with the people who destroyed their marriages and radically derailed their lives. Many Chumps and their kids are impoverished from these abandonments and aside from legal settlements, many adulterers (my preferred term in general) steal money DURING marriage. I see this right now with a friend of mine whose wife secretly stole several hundred thousand during her affair -she’s trying to come back now that her AP dumped her. Not bloody likely.

There may be some social opprobrium against these adulterers, but no where near as much as there should be – many people are from Switzerland. Also, even if they end up badly….I don’t give a shit. They brought it on themselves. But there should be a statement from the public through our legal system that punishes them for destructive behavior towards the spouse and kids they ABUSE with their adultery and abandonment. This needs to be instituted back into the family court/divorce systems. People should be PUNISHED for this behavior in a open, legal, societal process.

Josh McDowell
Josh McDowell
1 month ago

This is really great; this needs to be sent to every marriage therapist out there.

At the very least, this is sexual abuse. The cheater is exposing their partner to mental, emotional, and sexual harm without their consent. I think as people who have experienced it, the more we speak up, the more we can change people’s opinions on it. A lot of people know cheating is horrible, but I don’t think they understand the full depth of it.

Blue Bayou
Blue Bayou
1 month ago

I would vet any therapist with: “You don’t have to answer this, but have you ever cheated on a significant other or spouse?” If they don’t want to answer, then you know the answer.

I have made the mistake of seeing a therapist who blamed me for her cheating, only to learn later that his license had been suspended for 6 months for having an affair with his married secretary!

Stepbystep
Stepbystep
1 month ago

I just sent a link of today’s post to the Couples and Intimate Relationships Interest Network of the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy.

Sent to couples@aamft.org with subject line “Infidelity is Abuse”. Please consider doing the same? Several dozen emails should get their attention.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

I also sent it to the equivalent Canadian and British organizations. My spiel;

“The way infidelity is viewed by many marriage and family therapists needs to change. Tremendous psychological harm is being done to betrayed and devastated people through the victim blaming many therapists engage in, and through the encouragement to stay in these toxic marriages and try to “work it out” with their abusers. Many therapists collaborate with the betrayer to make the victim feel responsible for the betrayer’s actions. There should be policies in place to prevent this.”

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  Stepbystep

Just did it. Subject line; “The truth about infidelity.”

Last edited 1 month ago by OHFFS
beachgirl
beachgirl
1 month ago

Thank you for always speaking the plain truth. The bottom line is: would I have kept sleeping with my DH if he had disclosed he was sleeping with others? No, it wasn’t consensual because I didn’t consent to that. I don’t get why people don’t get this basic premise. And you are 100% right, if he was punching me in the face NO ONE would say it was my fault. We need to change the narrative about infidelity, it is abuse as everyone here can attest to. Stay mighty Chump Lady!

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  beachgirl

Also, many cheaters go into marriage in the first place with these ideas about how marriage includes cheating that they obviously keep from their spouses. If we knew they had these ideas, we wouldn’t marry them in the first place or had kids with them. The entire marriage is done under false pretenses to the Chump.

happychump
happychump
1 month ago

I totally agree with all of us. One point that really resonated with me was that the cheater is not a reliable narrator in counseling. The presumption of the counselor is that everyone is being honest. My cheater only admitted to that which he had been caught, and continued to have the affair during counseling. I felt the counselor was on his side because he was saying the things the counselor wanted him to. I knew I was in trouble when our counselor asked for a favor from my ex, he asked if he could introduce him to someone that could further his career.

Last edited 1 month ago by happychump
ChumpQueen
ChumpQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  happychump

Mine asked me to go to marriage counseling while he was having the affair. I’m convinced it was just another facet of the PR campaign he designed. It ensured that everyone would feel sorry for him, even though he abandoned his family without so much as an explanation. He was so good at playing victim that “friends” donated enough household materials to fill his 2-bedroom townhouse. No one offered me a thing, even though I ended up with almost nothing in comparison.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpQueen

my husband did this too

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago

People can try saving their marriage if they want, they can read Esther Perel if they want, they can play marriage police until they die if they want. I needed just one voice to tell me “it’s ok to leave.” I was wracked with guilt and angst about ending my marriage because I have little kids. My therapist let me know I wasn’t crazy, and then I was handed this book about a year later. It quite literally saved my life (this is not an exaggeration).

I think many of us know that couples’ therapy is bullshit because so many of us have been there and know exactly what happens. We don’t need a psychology degree or longitudinal studies. We’ve lived it. Esther Perel can stick it (what’s her degree in, again?). I participated in couple’s therapy halfway through my 15-year marriage when she confessed her first round of infidelity after contracting an STD. I was asked to think about her feelings, and meet her halfway, and that moving forward would require that I not constantly remind her of the past infidelity. Guess what happened later? I don’t think I have to tell this crowd, but she cheated again and again. Then, you have someone say “it’s not your fault – they just don’t care about you, and this is how their brain works” and it’s a revaluation. I blame the couple’s therapist for goading me into an additional 8 years of marriage – 8 years of my life wasted – instead of laying the cards flat on the table and calling out abuse when she saw it.

Last edited 1 month ago by ChumpDchump
Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

Yes, the wasted time! ChumpDchump, I’m sorry your marriage counselor’s terrible advice consigned you to 8 more years of abuse.

ChumpQueen
ChumpQueen
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

That’s what I hate the most — all the wasted time. I spent our marriage supporting his career and treating my own as a side gig. You can imagine what that looks like on a resume. Now I’m 58 and starting all over with a 25 year-old master’s degree from a renowned university and no real experience to speak of. In the meantime, he’s getting ready to retire. Talk about opportunity cost! #where’sthekarma?

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpQueen

Same!

BigCityChump
BigCityChump
1 month ago

My daughter is in therapy. I have always thought very highly of her therapist based on what I have heard. Now—I adore her based on what my daughter shared with me. The therapist told her to be prepared that at some point the AP may cheat on her father bc people like that (who cheated multiple times and don’t believe in therapy) don’t do the work to change, so they repeat mistakes. Now that’s some CL in there! AP is my former friend and cheated on her husband which ended her marriage and then she began working on my FW. It was FW’s only time cheating (not that it truly matters). But my FW was not a serial cheater and he did have true remorse (hence no financial withholding and no interference with my custody and parenting). Reconciliation was never on the table and when we went to a counselor together for help ending the marriage—the therapist used to slip me articles on the way out that clearly meant she saw infidelity as abuse. Didn’t stop me from signing up for RIC emails and taking on much blame. But—like many of us—CL just really made the most sense and drew us to the light of NC. Took me a hot minute, but I got there.
Happy New Years CL and CN!

Divorce Minister
Divorce Minister
1 month ago

A lot of religious leaders could benefit from reading this post as well. Sadly, too many take their ques from therapists–the bad sort–on these matters.

JeffWashington
JeffWashington
1 month ago

Can we get “If you think having a cigarette stubbed out on your face is worse than being chumped, you’ve never been chumped” as a Bumper Sticker?(probably a little too long for a T-shirt with the UBT on it.)

This needs to be linked on the front page. It encapsulates so many of my thoughts and feelings on the matter(as a mental health professional, no less.) There are sadly too many in my field that try to validate their own horrors through how they heal others.

I seriously needed this today. THANK YOU.

MollyWobbles
MollyWobbles
1 month ago

STANDING OVATION!!!!!! My favorite article ever (and I’ve read all of them). Thank you, thank you, thank you Tracey for being our voice. For standing up for us. For validating our experiences. You are a bright light in the darkest of days, helping us gather up the courage to leave our abusers.

My FW’s trickle truthing began with him telling me about a one night stand in 2019. Just that (which is bad enough). Nothing else. But then, over the course of months, during the 2020 lockdown, he admitted to decades of cheating over the entirety of our 30 year marriage. Just like you said, it’s never just a one night stand. After diving head first into the RIC I finally snapped one day in 2021 over a workbook assignment from our RIC therapist where I was supposed to list my flaws in a Venn diagram. I don’t know what it was in that moment that caused me to come to my senses but I’m so happy I did. FW was out of town visiting his father. I ripped the book the shreds and called him and told him not to come home. Divorce was final in August of this year and I am free.

Finding this group helped me know that I was doing the right thing. I was leaving my abuser. It has kept me sane through an insane time during the divorce process of flying monkeys, gaslighting and so much more. I am forever grateful to Tracey and to this community of brave chumps who hold each other up during the worst times of our lives.

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago
Reply to  MollyWobbles

I agree, that “list your flaws”assignment is nefarious! I’m so glad your response was to break away from that whole system, and kick your husband out.

OHFFS
OHFFS
1 month ago
Reply to  MollyWobbles

List your flaws in a Venn diagram? If I didn’t know how shitty most marriage counselors are, I’d be incredulous. That is lunacy.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago

This type of honesty is so very needed. My therapist and my divorce attorney got it from different perspectives. Both were older and had enjoyed long-term marriages. I was dense, but it was like the clouds parted when I realized that the mess I was in was not my fault.

I didn’t find Divorce Minister and Gretchen Baskerville until I was post-divorce, but both of them articulated the religious side so very well which was part of the mess I was in.

I battled the “everything is possible with God.” Yes, but what if they truly aren’t sorry for the mess and expect you to take the blame? That isn’t taught in the Bible, not at all. He and his religious family kept telling me that, but there never was a miracle. Not at all.

And sin-leveling. Sure there were times that I was not attentive to our marriage, but you can’t compare that to how he figuratively blew up the marital house and burned it down. I was not responsible for even beginning to fix that. He was, and of course, he never did.

One of my adult kids observed a few nights ago that that you can’t begin to fix a major breakdown like we had as a family unless you own up, and Dad never owned up. No, he didn’t.

ChumpDchump
ChumpDchump
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

God had some thoughts on adultery, apparently, to the point that he scrawled it into rock as a top-10 biblical rule. “Not folding my shirts the way I like” didn’t seem to make the cut.

Edit: It just dawned on me, He hated it so much, it made the list twice – no adultery, and no coveting your neighbor’s wife.

Last edited 1 month ago by ChumpDchump
Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpDchump

I completely missed that. I have more to ponder.

As I told my divorce attorney during my intake, there were other women in the marriage most of the way. I didn’t completely know the extent, but they were there. My ex idolized a former girlfriend our entire marriage, and she’d periodically call and send cards. I pitched a fit which he ignored. She was so much sexier than his wife, and why couldn’t I be more like HER. They dated a matter of months, and then he broke up with her because she wasn’t marriage material. But gosh, those moves and curves…And later the porn which he made his retirement hobby in addition to the local massage parlor. Then he told me more than a few times that IF he cheated during separation, I would be responsible.

No adultery, no coveting your neighbor’s wife.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

CL nailed it by pointing out that victim-blaming is blatantly evident whenever a therapist pressures a recent abuse victim out of the gate to confess to personality flaws. When I worked as an advocate for victims of DV, we would also warn survivors that therapists were likely operating from a position of blame when therapists would do the above or even too quickly grill recently victimized people about any family of origin dysfunction rather than immediately focusing on the recent trauma. We gave the heads up because doing the latter indicated that the therapist was applying debunked zombie concepts like the “psychological deficiency theory of battered women” that, in the bad old victim-blamey days of yore, were automatically pasted on all victims. Also back in the bad old days, if victims resisted having the theory slapped on them, therapists would typically mark the patient “resistant to treatment” and, when this approach predictably failed to help victims, even the therapeutic failure was doubled back as yet more invented evidence that the theory must apply.

The effect of this was, in a therapeutic sense, a bit “Procrustean” from the myth of Procrustes where the limbs of an overnight guest will be either amputated or stretched to fit the bed rather than fitting the bed to the guest. To read about the disastrous effects of the knee-jerk therapeutic presumption that victims universally either “draw abuse to themselves” on their dysfunctional Voodoo tractor beams or are “drawn to abusers,” read the chapter on DV in founding psychotraumatologist Frank M. Ochberg’s Post-traumatic Stress Therapy and the Victims of Violence by veteran researchers and advocates Anne Flitcraft and Evan Stark.

And that’s the thing that especially curdles my blood about Patrick Carnes, Esther Perel and many RIC/CSAT approaches is that, by resurrecting retired blaming concepts like the above and applying them to chumps– aka, victims of emotional/psychological/financial abuse (hello “coercive control”)– they’re basically “instrumentalist” in the sense of using a toy/tool just because you happen to have it lying around. Think of it like restaurants riskily using 5 day old fish for “seafood stew” or, maybe more to the point, like US jets dropping leftover bombs on Laos on the way back from bombing missions in Vietnam and Cambodia because, what the hell, military command didn’t want the bombs to go to waste.

Not to flog the analogy but, sort of like how it will take another 200 years to clear all the unexploded bombs still littering Laos, I think the larger problem here is that victimology in general is still littered with unexploded antique victim-blaming theories that are deeply rooted in misogyny. This means the first order of business is to explode these disastrous, statistically debunked therapeutic generalizations once and for all.

For the record, despite more than a century of clinical attempts to generalize and a ton of “unexploded” and unreplicable claims presuming that victims all had preexisting pathology, victims of domestic abuse show no statistically significant preexisting traits in common– not by background, personality, psychology, education, etc., etc. In fact, if there’s any statistical skew at all, it’s that more victims tended to have careers prior to being victimized and DV experts like Lenore Walker have noted that victims tended to have higher than average self-esteem prior to victimization. What the latter suggests is that abusers, like hunters, vary in their taste in prey with some preferring to collect bunny foot key chains as trophies and others (possibly more) preferring the challenge of bigger game. That doesn’t mean that some victims hadn’t also suffered trauma prior to being abused by a partner or that this might not complicate escape in some cases, only that these statistics won’t differ enough from the general population to clinically assumed to be “causal.”

In other words, if a therapist finds a victim in a state of complete devastation, the first assumption should not be “What did this victim suffer *before* that could explain their current devastated condition?” but “How horrifying must the abuse this person recently endured be to explain their current devastated condition?” And you can see how most RIC/CSAT therapists would fail to prioritize inquiries in this way if their first assumption is that cheating is not abuse. They fail to help before they even meet the client. But then, as CL also points out, if a certain rather high percentage of RIC/CSAT therapists are abusers in their own right, maybe their goal is not to help victims to begin with anymore than the US military was trying to “liberate” Laos.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago

I should have added that, if any of the participants involved in domestic abuse show “clinically significant” traits in common, it’s abusers. So if any party should be stuck under a microscope and poked, prodded and pried apart to investigate the “cause” of abuse and the “reason” that victims often have difficulty escaping, it’s abusers. To the extent that some (but not enough) of this research has already been done, if I learned anything from my time doing victim advocacy, it’s that cheaters show a ton of overlaps with the psychology and tactics of domestic batterers.

There’s a lot already there for any social scientist willing to look and I suspect a lot more to uncover. I can never remember the scientist who first said “Facts tend to cluster around a good theory” but it definitely applies to viewing cheaters through the lens of existing research on domestic batterers and “coercive controllers.” From what I’ve already seen, once any investigator worth their salt starts down that road, they’re going to run across a terrifying heap of evidence linking the one thing with the other: give or take broken bones and black eyes, the majority of serial cheaters are arguably on the batterer spectrum.

Something we used to say in DV advocacy was that, while survivors are varied, individualistic and come from every walk, abusers are all same, gray and predictable. From reading, it appears that virtually all abusers internalized some form of trauma or catastrophic shaming in childhood. But, since this is also true of serial killers, it shouldn’t necessarily be cause for coddling support and sympathy but merely pragmatically instructive for the safety of victims because one thing about abusers is that they didn’t actually “survive” whatever horror show childhoods they endured, not in the full human sense, therefore it should be assumed abusers will tend to compulsively reenact the worst of what was done to them or in front of them (or worse). So if the abuser, say, experienced or witnessed violence in childhood, the victim should definitely be instructed to seek a protective order and supported in taking security measures. In fact, victims should be encouraged to do so whether or not they know the full extent of their abusers’ childhood dramas because something else that’s predictable about abusers is that many reportedly cover up for their own previous abusers’ behavior to the degree that they internalized the same abusive patterns. In other words, some abusers lie about, disremember or minimize trauma in their backgrounds, either as an unconscious show of loyalty to their “role models” and/or to conceal anything that might be taken as a red flag by prospective victims or bystanders.

The latter is also instructive for clinicians to never take a cheater’s word for what happened or what they’ve done at face value, just like one would not accept a batterer’s rendition of events at face value. But, again, first therapists and researchers would have to identify cheating as abuse– the thing that RIC/CSAT practitioners generally refuse to do.

ChumpQueen
ChumpQueen
1 month ago

This is so enlightening! My FW’s father cheated on his mother and then married the OW. They never admitted it and FW “never knew,” but I figured it out. FW has done the exact same thing. He refuses to admit that he cheated, even though everyone knows he did (by virtue of years of evidence). I’ve been amazed at how the FW seems to have become his own father. I’d like to know the ways in which DV abusers and cheaters overlap. I was raised with DV, and even though the FW never hit me, by the end of our marriage, every time I thought of him, I would get a mental image of my father. The abuse is real!

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpQueen

ChumpQueen,

Before criminologist Donald Dutton was accused of sexual harassment at his university, started pandering to the “men’s rights movement” and generally went off the rails, he published some of the most comprehensive studies on domestic abusers ever performed based on his prison research of convicted batterers and wife killers. One book in particular, The Batterer, is more accessible than most of his clinical work and contains some real bombshell observations that a lot of chumps might find very familiar, such as the concept of “masked dependency.”

The masked dependency theory could be a huge “Aha” moment for a lot of cheating survivors. Basically the abuser, due to whatever awfulness they endured in childhood, is a petrified baby whose attachment to partners is infantile and extremely dependent. Consequently, abusers don’t “love” in an adult sense but tend to be consumed by dueling infantile terrors of being either abandoned or “engulfed” by a partner (my personal theory is that fear of engulfment is self generated because abusers, at least in the courtship stage, tend to “mirror” their partners completely out of fear of rejection, then eventually start feeling “stifled” to the degree to which they present a false self). Yet, also due to their horror show upbringings, abusers tend to be pathologically ashamed of any vulnerable feelings like dependence on a partner so they do whatever they can to conceal this from others and even themselves. In that light, cheating (mind you, most batterers are also FWs) could theoretically serve to “mask” dependency in several ways: 1) cheating could be seen as rebellious toddler “individuation” towards “mommy” (or “daddy”)– a juvenile “rebellion” in a sense, as in “who needs dat bitch”; 2) for someone terrified of abandonment, “diluting” their infantile dependency by spreading it out among more than one partner could be seen as hedging bets; 3) cheating could be viewed as an expression of rage and punishment towards partners for “fostering” abusers’ sense of infantile dependence that abusers can’t own or take responsibility for and also a way for abusers to displace blame for presenting false selves out of desperate initial fear of rejection. The latter might explain why many cheaters act as if cheating is justified “revenge” against innocent partners: because many cheaters may believe– in their twisted little minds– that their partners “deliberately” and “calculatedly” took “power” over them by “causing” these early feelings of vulnerable dependency.

That’s just one example of Dutton’s observations that I think apply to many “FWs.” Dutton’s early contribution to the field was so important that it makes you wonder if he had some liability or if someone got to him. Dutton’s turnaround was a bit like Freud backing away from his initial groundbreaking theories about child sexual abuse and coining his bizarre victim-blaming Electra/Oedipal theories because his colleagues protested and he was likely worried he wouldn’t be able to pay for his coke addiction.

ChumpQueen
ChumpQueen
1 month ago

Thank you for the explanation. I do believe you ought to write a book and spread your fantastic wealth of knowledge! I love reading your comments, and I’m going to research Dutton. I’ve never heard of him, but I never studied psychology either. I did write a feminist analysis of Freud’s “Dora” in grad school though. Fascinating little peckerhead he was. I love that you worked with DV victims. I’ve always wanted to be an advocate for women. The closest I got was volunteering as a CASA/GAL, which I loved but had to stop because of my divorce. If I could make a living from it, I would do it in a heartbeat.

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpQueen

I hope you’re eventually able to participate in advocacy again. As dark and gritty as it can be, the light really comes from the incredible courage of survivors and even some of the supporters. I say “some” supporters because there’s always that issue of abusers being drawn to “hero” roles (but those types tend to show their hands pretty quickly).

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
1 month ago
Reply to  ChumpQueen

Thank you– I mostly just report the stuff I read with a few speculations thrown in.

Yeah, what’s with the peckerhead 180 that certain theorists do? Freud and Dutton started out sounding all dangerously, groundbreakingly feminist and, what’s more, accurate. Then, whoops, backed quickly away from that precipice once the boys’ club complained. The sad thing is that truth doesn’t only benefit women. Dutton “recanted” in a less definable way but still muddied his track record by positing that just as many women commit abuse based on the notorious Strauss scale. If you factor deaths and severe injuries, this obviously isn’t the case though indeed women do sometimes instigate violence and yes, the abuser psych profile still applies, particularly when discussing coercive control which female abusers are more likely to engage in than extreme violence. The worst flipflop was that Dutton sometimes rallied for stiffer jail sentences but then, in other writings, softened this position saying abusers need help. That’s what makes me think he caved to pressure or found he wasn’t going to achieve wide notoriety and the big bucks if he didn’t cuddle up to abusers a bit.

weedfree
weedfree
1 month ago

And beware the fake epiphany of the abuser. Claims they have had insights into their behaviour or realised that x, y or z is the root cause should be met with caution.
I see this a lot on the other infidelity site and the chumps repeatedly fall for it and are encouraged to collude with the bs by other posters.
FWs claims of various mental health conditions were conveniently timed around not getting what he wanted in property negotiations. My earlier email suggesting he see a mental health professional were met with outrage I should suggest there was even a problem.
His mother is an incurable lunatic and so is he. End of.

Spinach@35
Spinach@35
1 month ago

“People who devalue you so utterly, are a failed currency. They can’t reinstate your value and appreciate you afresh, because they’ll always be someone capable of casually betraying you. To stay is to forever live with the mental gymnastics and cognitive dissonance of such ‘love’.”

And you could never trust this person.Trust is foundational to any relationship. No amount of therapy or promises to change could erase the sick, lingering feeling that this person will lie again. And they might lie about little things: “Oh, you wanted milk at the store. They were all out.” In reality, they forgot to go to the store. That shit builds up.

When two cheaters get married (as did my ex and the AP), I wonder how they can trust EACH OTHER. They know damn well what the other is capable of. They were both married during their affair and had to lie, lie, lie every day for years.

Oh wait. But they’re different. It’s true love. Even if you grant that it’s a good match, you still have to concede that each is a cheater and liar. They’d have to do some impressive mental gymnastics to get around that fact. Not my circus. Not my monkeys. But sometimes I wonder how they can live with each other.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  Spinach@35

My therapist used the term “devalued” quite a bit. She said my ex had so utterly devalued marriage and family and normalized that situation so far that there was no reasonable path forward. There was nothing left to build on because he didn’t care what he had done. I had to think about that for a long time.

I read Gottman’s What Makes Love Last? which focuses a lot on trust. No, I didn’t trust my then-separated husband. Not at all.

I related these relevations to my then-husband’s oldest brother and wife, and he said, “Yes, trust takes a long time to rebuild.” Screaming in my head was, YOU MUST BE KIDDING! Never in a million years will I trust my husband again! Thankfully, I didn’t. Then, my ex promised an easy divorce. Excuses my skepticism. Nah, it was an ugly divorce.

Not my committee to even speculate about my ex and his lady love. He always believed himself to be a “catch,” and I guess he probably thinks she’s a “catch” too. IMHO, that’s not enough though…

Last edited 1 month ago by Elsie_
susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

I think as CL has mentioned before that once they devalue you, they will never value you again. It goes both ways once they are devalued to us by their actions, we will just never feel the same again, no matter how hard we might try.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

So true. That’s why Dr. Gottman flags contempt as the worst of the “Four Horsemen” that destroy a marriage.

I have to say that I went into the divorce process with some shreds of love, maybe because of the history there. My ex initiated it, and I told my attorney during the second appointment that I felt horrible sitting at that big conference table strategizing with a stranger about the end of my marriage. I knew it had to end, but I didn’t like being there.

He was polite but said that from what he knew at that point, I needed to go forward. Over time, some of his clients found out just how very little their STBX thought of them, and they were glad to get a divorce.

Yes, he was right. By the end, I couldn’t stand my ex.

susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

Oh I still had love for my fw at the time of D, not romantic love, but love all the same. I still have a fondness for who I thought he was, but who I saw in how he treated me, then several years later how he treated our son; absolutely no respect whatsoever for the person he actually was.

Perhaps part of it is I just don’t want to hate my sons dad, so I keep a little place for that.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  susie lee

That’s a good way to describe it — who I thought he was.

I got all the junk in the marriage including most of the furniture, all of the Christmas decorations, all of the art, etc. At first, that was very triggering. A friend of mine said he immediately got rid of all that. Mmm. I couldn’t afford that.

And over time, it’s like — there’s the couch we bought, meh. There’s a wreath I made when we were newlyweds, meh. There’s a painting we bought, meh.

All good.

Last edited 1 month ago by Elsie_
susie lee
susie lee
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

I think it is different for different folks. I got the furniture too, and keepsakes. I sold some furniture, but kept some. I still use some of it and my H still uses some of the furniture from his marriage.

I didn’t have money to buy new furniture, my H did; but he never felt the need. So we have his stuff my stuff and stuff we bought together. It all blends nicely.

As for the pictures and things like that I knew that my son would want them some day, so I kept them all and turned them all over to him just a few years ago. Back then there were no online pics or cloud, so those pics were all he had of his childhood.

I made him promise that he would never give an original to his dad, because while he might not destroy them, she very well might. But by then he already had first hand experience that she was unstable.

I had some antiques that my mother in law gave me, I gave some of them to my ex sister in law, and saved a few for my son and grandchildren; already gave them to my son, so he can do with them what he wants.

Mehitable
Mehitable
1 month ago
Reply to  Elsie_

Even sharks mate. Now THAT’S a catch.

Elsie_
Elsie_
1 month ago
Reply to  Mehitable

LOL. I have these discussions with my adult kids. Sure, you can have fun and maybe even good sex, but does it mean something?

Viktoria
Viktoria
1 month ago

Brava!

CurlyChump
CurlyChump
1 month ago

Loved this post. Just last week I was on a FB page, and a gal was asking for advice about staying w/her cheater, “sex-addict” BF. I didn’t even go full, Leave a Cheater, again a Life, on her, because I’m not sure that was what she was ready to hear, but I did say that she shouldn’t be doing couple’s therapy because cheating is abuse and you don’t go to therapy with an abuser. I also mentioned she should read up on codependency because it’s helpful for reframing your relationship with any kind of addict. Oh man, the women cheater apologists that came out of the woodwork. Insisting that cheating isn’t abuse! I don’t argue w/strangers in the internet, I just let the rest of the comments work themselves out, but man! Mind boggling. Really Tracy’s position is so important, but so hard for some people to wrap their heads around.

ThatsMrsChumpToYou
ThatsMrsChumpToYou
1 month ago

Pure BRILLIANCE! You have encapsulated – with a sharp, witty, and honest tongue – what my PTSD damaged psyche of 4 years has been trying to comprehend as a lived experience. As one who has had to endure constant demands by the FW for court enforced reunification/counselling between children, myself and him (to fix his relationship), I am horrified by this industry. The almighty dollar (and this particular counselling industry)will always trump the emotional, psychological, sexual, financial and physical abuse of Chumps. They simply re-victimize.

Here’s hoping that therapist Yael Schonbrun – and other therapists – start calling adultery what it is: abuse.

2xchump
2xchump
1 month ago

If there was ever a truth teller, it is Tracy. Go and do. I’ve heard your discourse with creeper therapists on your blog…the ” speak to me when you are not so angry “” people. The PHDs who are covert cheaters and tell chumps how to be nicer to the one who devalues and tortures you behind closed doors like my cheater did. It is so much more than an affair, it is a way of life. The cheaters behavior is on them, the gas lighting is lying, the devaluing is pure abuse. If anyone can speak to the world it will be Tracy. Even if this therapist is a Chump abuser, Tracy will sniff him out and take him down on the mat. 1-2-3 bell rings loudly.
My therapist, the one who helped me divorce my intimate abuser told me you cannot drive anyone to bad behavior, you cannot force a cheater to cheat, lie, gaslight and hurt you intimately continously. The cycle of abuse had my head spinning for years. But once my new therapist told me I Needed to get out, I got out. Fast!!! Thank you Tracy for taking these people on who perhaps are sincere. If they are not, we will have some great copy for CN. My hats off to.you for your sacrifices for our nation. You changed me, saved me during and after my divorce and you keep me no contact no matter what. I have only respect for CL and CN. Thank you from my 💓

expired appliance
expired appliance
1 month ago

Thank you. I would have loved to hear his reaction.

geniebobeanie
geniebobeanie
1 month ago

After DD I decided to go back to school and become a therapist and I shouted from the rooftops that “adultery is abuse.”

doublechump
doublechump
1 month ago

This is amazing. I hope that the therapist really listened instead of labeling you and us as “misguided.”

Leedy
Leedy
1 month ago

Tracy, this is your most powerful statement so far of your insights into what’s wrong with the protocols within the RIC. (Your analogies between infidelity and embezzling, not to mention the analogy with physical forms of intimate partner abuse, absolutely seal the case, here as in your other posts. How could anyone argue back, intelligibly?) I so wish your site had existed when I was chumped by my first husband, 27 years ago. But anyway it’s helping me now, as I wipe off the gore from betrayal by my current ex.

I hope this stunning post circulates far and wide, and brings a new wave of suffering chumps to your site.

DrFormerChump
DrFormerChump
1 month ago

As a therapist, I endorse this message!

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago

Just reading this is healing. I told all the therapists and counselors my husband dragged into his mess that I was scared of him, and they all ignored me and believed his story that made no sense and his hysteria and tears. No question I was gaslighted again and again by the therapists at my most lost, vulnerable, frightened time. What I don’t understand is why they all acted as though they had never come across a disordered person in their 15 or 20 years of practising. I lost much more trust in peoples’ goodness after my interactions with therapists post-abandonment. They all came across initially as reasonable, capable professionals. I trusted a series of experts to help me, and none of them did. THAT was more painful than my husband’s actions, which at least were rooted in some emotional investment and personality disorder.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

The marriage counselor we saw for the longest, at the peak of the lying and threatening, unbalanced, drink- and pharmaceuticals-addled behavior by my husband, told me I had to be EXTRA loving, EXTRA nurturing to my husband. He forced me to metaphorically kiss the hand of the man who was in the process of wiping me and our children out, and who was giddily high with sadistic pleasure and and excitement about his prospects as a wealthy single man starting on his new life. It makes me sick to think that the counselor got me to do that.

Chumpty Dumpty
Chumpty Dumpty
1 month ago
Reply to  Chumpty Dumpty

Of course, it’s impossible to be a therapist for decades and not cross paths with disordered liars. It’s simple: marriage therapists practise wilfull blindness every day for money! That’s all they’re motivated by, and they ignore the truth and people’s distress for it. Just like my husband. It’s all he ever cared about, too. I started to heal when I finally realized that the lawyers and the therapists share my husband’s values. They are much more like him and understand him much better.

Last edited 1 month ago by Chumpty Dumpty
CRHCHK
CRHCHK
1 month ago

Very satisfying to have this so clearly articulated. I will never stop talking about how important your work is, Tracy.

Your humor and data backed message has been nothing short of life-changing for me.

Just knowing that someone somewhere got through it helped me to face this challenge myself. I’m now in a completely different mental universe than I ever was during my Mirage.

Once you gain it, no one can take away your self-reliance. I have slowly learn to trust myself after years of someone crushing my self-esteem with tiny paper cuts. I have deep and beautiful friendships, a wonderful relationship with my teenage son and a stable financial life on my own.

I have tried to treat dating after divorce as an anthropological experiment and met a lot of good hearted people, though no one that fits just right so far. I recognize these good people so much better now, as well as recognizing the users and takers long before they ever get into my orbit. My boundaries are stronger than ever, though I still stumble here and there.

If you have any doubts about this message, I urge you just to keep reading and let it sink in. Thanks always Tracy, for everything.
Happy new year!

Marco
Marco
1 month ago

The field of marriage counselors is full of quacks. For the most part they are selling hopium.
Sadly, shocked betrayed people grasp at straws. The snake oil salesman generally recommend ‘the pick me dance’ or a form of nicing them back. The fairytale lover crowd cheers them on. When the cheater cheats again they vanish like a fart in the wind.

itsme
itsme
1 month ago

Your writings are always so clever and so well explained. You justify what I feel so many times and it’s because you KNOW.
I appreciate these articles especially this particular one. And the validation I get with it.
It’s true most try reconciliation. We are on our 4th therapist.
And no it’s not easy. Never will be-if I choose to stay.

itsme
itsme
1 month ago
Reply to  itsme

Btw- I am Shann. Just couldn’t use that name here, for some reason. Hope everyone is well💛