Dear Chump Lady, Unicorns are real

Hi Chumps, 

Just a note that today’s blog post letter is being answered by fellow chump Chris DiRico while I’m away from the blog for a couple days. As much as I’d like to perform a unicorn deconstruction, Chris has taken that job today. 

Tracy/CL

——

Hi there Chump Lady,

I am a big fan of your blog. I found you while searching online for resources to help my best friend, a fellow chump. I guess I am a chump, too, to a degree. Some might call me a unicorn? But, my reconciliation is certainly interesting, if you can even really call it reconciliation. It feels more like a “do over”. I just wanted to share my story with you.

My husband cheated on me with a former flame. The affair lasted probably a year or so. He initially exposed/admitted the affair to me. We went through some counseling, blah blah blah. He was really just eating cake. At the time we had two small children and I was extremely hesitant to separate or divorce, so I was adamantly committed to working it out. I thought we had put everything past us, but I could never shake the feeling that I was his “second” choice.

I was not happy and I did not feel loved. I am strongly committed to principle, so I chumped it and carried on. Until the fateful day I discovered the affair had never ended. At that moment and in an instant, I threw him out. Figuratively speaking of course. I calmly called the OW and asked what her intentions were. I told her she could have him and then I proceeded to share with her every negative and unflattering intimate detail only a married person could share about their spouse.

She was married with small children herself and had no intentions of leaving her family to be with my husband, although at the time that’s what he was hoping for. She promised to end things, although I did not take her seriously. Then I contacted her husband and shared with him every detail about the affair I knew about. The affair effectively ended. My husband was initially more devastated to lose her than he was me and our children. It was all heartbreaking. Yet, I did not file for divorce. In fact, I even remained willing to go through counseling. But I absolutely refused to do the “pick me dance” or allow him to eat cake.

We tried to go through some more counseling, but I and the counselor could both tell he was just not getting it. He was entangled in a tightly gripped storm of narcissism, blame shifting, and fuckupedness. I did not feel sorry for him, or feel in any way that it was my job or duty to fix him or “be there” for him. I was wise enough to know the affair had nothing to do with me and everything to do with his character and integrity. Just because he ended the affair did not mean another would not happen, and I was not willing to play marriage police either. I knew that if he did not change what was broken in his soul, that the cycle would repeat.

Cheating behavior and affairs are usually symptoms of bigger psychological issues. Neither one of us wanted a divorce and he wanted to come home, but I would not budge. I knew that he needed to do the work and I knew that if he was serious, I would see the change. So, I marched forward, and I did the only thing I knew how to do. I prayed. Two years passed and no change. I finally came to the place where I felt like I had given everything I could. I had gone to counseling for myself and I was ready to file for divorce. When I shared this with him, something seriously snapped. (Keep in mind, we were completely separated for two full years. Neither one of us dated anyone else nor did we ever share a bed during this time. Fortunately, children and finances were amicably managed).

Suddenly, this man who had gone to counseling and “tried” for two years to get his family back together understood that it wasn’t enough. He started attending a men’s group at a local church. He sought out and paid for his own personal counseling. He started to do all of the things you would expect to see a serious man do who had fucked up his marriage and wanted to make amends. He started to change and he got better. At this point, it was too late for me. I had already hung on for two years and I was ready to close this chapter of my life. At that point, I had given up, yet I struggled with the idea of divorce. I saw the changes in him but I did not trust him. I was crippled by fear of the unknown.

This is where things get a little more unbelievable; TWO more years of separation (and celibacy) passed. My husband absolutely refused to agree to a divorce. He wore his wedding ring religiously and sent flowers for anniversaries and holidays. He stayed in counseling. He was helpful, he stepped up his dad game, he brought little thoughtful gifts constantly, he demonstrated honest love. Yet, he wasn’t perfect. I found plenty of flaws still to capitalize and focus on. Everyone, and I mean everyone, thought we were crazy. “Move on already! It’s been four years! It’s not healthy to be in limbo!” That’s what both of us got from friends, family, and clergy. They were right, too. I found myself visualizing my life as a fast moving river. I had come to a fork and I could not see where either path would take me. But I was stubbornly refusing to make any kind of decision. Like I was hanging onto a tree root and the river was swallowing me up. I needed to let go and trust God, no matter the outcome.

So I let go. And do you know what happened? We reconciled. My husband proved himself to be trustworthy and devoted. He loves me, and I know he really loves me. He will tell you how absolutely insane he was back then. The affair was actually quite easy to get past when compared to the core of the crazy. It was all that messy brokenness that led to the affair that was the most difficult to work through. Now, I will not sit here and say, “Oh! Our life is a fairy tale and perfect and full of flowers and chocolate!” No, our life is good. And, yes, better than it was before, but far from perfect. It’s as good as any realistic couple can hope for. There has been forgiveness and healing. Our children are happy, and we are happy! Our home is peaceful and loving. It’s been one year and a miraculously smooth one full of God’s grace.

In retrospect, I certainly don’t think it should have taken four years. But genuine, healthy reconciliation doesn’t happen overnight either. I find myself in agreement with most everything you write about. Unfortunately, there are severely disordered people out there and I am in no way trying to compare my story to others. I just wanted to share a rare example of a real unicorn. It can happen, but only if the offending partner can get serious enough to get real help at the core. It also helps if the offended partner can get in touch with the real reasons they chose someone so broken to begin with. I know I did, and it helped me. My husband has done some incredibly hard work on himself and I want to give him big credit for that. We are much healthier emotionally and spiritually today as individuals and as a couple than when we were first married 10 years ago.

My best friend did not have the same result. At first, I encouraged her to hang in there and not rush into a divorce. Unfortunately, her husband was not willing to let go of his OW and I completely supported her decision to divorce. It’s been a rough road for her, and I have sent her many encouraging words from the Chump Lady. She will be fine. So, good job, Chump Lady. Just know that there are stories like mine out there and it is easy for us to want others to experience the same. I did not know Chump Lady when I was going through the worst of my separation. I’m glad I had some good sense, though, to demand some respect. To not give cake. To not do the “pick me” dance. I drew clear boundaries and made the rules. But, I’m also glad I didn’t rush to divorce, I gave things time, I focused on myself and the children, I prayed. I did not try to fix things, or allow myself to be distracted by the romantic interests of others, nor was I vengeful. I made some mistakes, but I grew, and I healed. And though I never ever ever ever would have thought this outcome would be part of my story, I reconciled. Yes, Chump Lady, unicorns and miracles are real.

Respectfully yours,

Truth State

Dear TS:

I don’t think you’re taking into account the method to Chump Lady’s madness. The reason that the Unicorn analogy is so apt is because the chances of true reconciliation occurring are slim. Cheating doesn’t always lead to the collapse of a marriage. But then again, smoking cigarettes doesn’t always lead to lung cancer. But just as I wouldn’t recommend smoking, I wouldn’t stake your emotional stability and especially your future on a man who has cheated.

Your marriage as you described it was an absolute cold war for four long years post-DDay, complete what you call a “tightly gripped storm of narcissism, blame-shifting and fuckupedness.” Even your marriage counselor thought your husband was a dunce, and marriage counselors are usually the fucking kings of cheater handholding and spoon-feeding.

You went through all of that, filed for separation, and then you went through the absolute mind-fuck to end all mind-fucks, something Chumps rarely experience: Your cheating husband decided to do the “pick-me dance.” Once he saw that you meant business, he showered you and your children with gifts, went to counseling, and demonstrated what you call “honest love.”

But was it really honest love, TS? Sounds to me like a barrage of “I’m sorry” gifts and pre-divorce damage control in order to stop the bleeding. Sounds to me that he only got off his ass and started working on his own marriage once you finally drew a line in the sand. Where the fuck was this honest love while he was grieving the loss of the OW? Where was this honest love when he was blame-shifting and gaslighting you during marriage counseling? Did he at least buy you an “I’m sorry” gift once his affair was exposed? Oops! No he didn’t. He carried on the affair until you blew the Marriage Police Whistle contacted the OW and her husband. Most importantly, why did it take you pulling the Four Word Ace (“I want a divorce”) out of your back pocket in order for him to finally realize that he fucked up his marriage?

TS, you seem to be under the impression that Cheater Cake can only be served in chumpy, “Pick Me!”-sized portions, such as losing weight, self-blame for the affair, dressing and looking sexy, lots of emotionally charged sex, and other forms of self-improvement in order to “prevent” the next affair from happening. But there’s plenty more Cakes on the menu at the Cheater Bakery.

Your husband sounds like he took an Everyday Above Ground approach to your marriage post-DDay. You didn’t slide the divorce papers under the bathroom door while he was having his morning shit? Great! Everything’s cool! You didn’t castrate him in his sleep? Yey! My balls are still here! TS can’t be that pissed off! You didn’t passive-aggressively use the laundry detergent that makes him break out in rashes? Fuckin’ A! My clothes are clean and my skin doesn’t itch! It’s a great day for America! I wonder what’s on TV…

Your post-D-Day situation reminds me of that old Jay Leno joke that he told at the height of the Monica Lewinsky scandal. Bill Clinton was celebrating his birthday that summer, to which Jay quipped: “Of course, First Lady Hillary Clinton is giving the President a great birthday present this year! She’s letting him live!”

You’re right, TS. You didn’t pick-me dance or blame yourself or go into Marriage Re-Builder Overdrive. But you didn’t divorce him and you let him live. To some cheating husbands, that’s about the most delicious cake a Chump can whip up. Your letter describes a husband resting peacefully in a slumberous Cake coma until you held the smelling salts under his nose via your Four Word Ace. Only then did he snap awake and realize what he was losing.

It’s really important to tell the truth and call a thing a thing, TS. In my opinion, your husband only “snapped” because you threatened to take his Cake away. There’s really no other away around it.

Here’s the key passage in your letter, TS, a passage I can’t let you off the hook for. You may think you’ve found the Unicorn, and you spent the better part of your letter insisting that you weren’t a typical Chump post-DDay. But then you wrote this: “The affair was actually quite easy to get past when compared to the core of the crazy. It was all that messy brokenness that led to the affair that was the most difficult to work through.”

I’m sorry, TS, but that’s Chapter 1, Verse 1 of the Cheater Bullshit Bible: “I hurt you because I’m hurt!” And you cited “messy brokenness” as the reason for his duplicitous behavior, which is a classic water-carrying Chumpline. You also seemed to downplay the very behavior that got you stuck in this murky swamp in the first place (his cheating) and instead focused all your attention on the “brokenness” that led to it, which is also a classic Chump behavior.

As Chump Lady has pointed out time and time again, no matter what kind of chaotic childhood or frenzied adult life one may have led, cheating comes down to one thing and one thing only: Entitlement.

It doesn’t matter what kind of brokenness your husband came from or what kind of emotional demons he was fighting throughout your marriage. He initiated and carried on an affair on his own volition. An affair that didn’t end even after you found out about it. Once you blew your Marriage Police Whistle, your husband turned around and blamed you for it.

Was all of this worth it for you in the end, as a wife and especially as a betrayed and emotionally destroyed woman? You cataloged four years out of your ten-year marriage that was spent dealing with a dragged-out affair, DDay, the post-DDay separation, lots of self-doubt, pain, indecision (as evidenced by your stellar river analogy), and lots and lots of prayer. That’s nearly half your marriage that you spent doggy-paddling through a treacherous current that you nearly drowned in; a river he threw you into in the first place! And he didn’t even have the courtesy to throw you a rope to pull yourself out until after you threatened divorce?! What kind of bullshit is that?

The other thing I want to offer you is that Chumps don’t divorce their cheating spouses simply because not enough flowers or chocolates were purchased. And it’s certainly not for a lack of “manning up” in the husband/father departments. I’m sure plenty of cheating husbands went into Alert! Alert! We’re Losing Her! Fuck! mode and thus started scrambling to steer the ship away from the Divorce Iceberg. Actually, that sounds exactly like what your husband did.

For most Chumps, D-Day is followed by Reckoning Day. May not happen for months or even years post-D-Day. But Reckoning Day happens when a Chump gets out of bed, puts both feet on the floor and says: “I did not deserve any of this and I will no longer stand for any of this.” Period. Granted, sometimes the Cheaters do the work for us and hit the road with schmoopie in tow, leaving us for dead. But Cheaters want CAKE, and Reckoning Day is all about padlocking the bakery.

But wait! Hubby deleted OW’s number out of his cell phone and blocked her on Facebook! He’s home every night on time! We spend every non-business hour together! And what about the time when he was out drinking with his buddies and that cute little 22-year-old blonde hit on him and he flashed his wedding ring in her face? (Cheating men love to catalog all the pussy they’ve turned down post-DDay as evidence of their Change).

But Reckoning Day isn’t about the cheater and it sure as hell ain’t about his/her metamorphosis from a lecherous, scheming Caterpillar into a devoted, rainbow-shitting Unicorn. Reckoning Day is about the Chump politely stating: “I no longer give a fuck. The trust is gone and so is the marriage. Goodbye.”

You’re absolutely correct that your husband’s cheating had nothing to do with you. But what I’m offering you is that everything that happened post-DDay should’ve been about you and how you were going to detach yourself from a man who was no longer deserving of your love and devotion. Instead, as your letter details, what followed were several years of heartbreak, indecision, and a list of things you didn’t do because you promised yourself that you weren’t going to be a typical Chump.

You seem to be forgetting that Chumpdom is a horse of all the rainbow colors (Unicorn pun intended). Maybe your Chumpdom looked less like a crazed WWII kamikaze pilot careening into Pick-Me Harbor and was conducted more like the military forces on the North-South Korea border (i.e. one big stand-off). But it’s still Chumpdom any way you slice it.

Now that I’ve shared my opinions, let me say that I admire your willingness to share your story of reconciliation with ChumpNation. But honestly, TS, and I can only speak for myself and my own Chump experiences, I don’t envy you. With everything I’ve learned, I could never in good conscience even try to reconcile with my ex. You seem to have done that, but you don’t really need to convince ChumpNation that your husband has changed.

Our concern is with YOU: Your happiness, your well-being, and how YOU feel about your marriage. That’s the bottom line. It’s not about whether your husband cheats again. He could remain faithful or he could simply take his dalliances underground. You have no way of knowing unless you play Marriage Police.

What it all comes down to is TRUST. Once that’s gone, there’s no turning back, and that’s when Reckoning Day occurs. And the last thing any of us would ever want to happen is for you to have go through this hallucinatory mind-fuck again. Why? Because too many of us Chumps were in your shoes. So many of our cheating spouses said and did All The Right things and we still got fucked over. And while I certainly don’t want to rain on your Reconciliation Parade, the fact that your husband continued his affair after you found out about it is a rather grim predictor of future behavior.

Your intentions seem pure and you seem content with the state of your marriage. I just don’t want you to get hurt again, TS. None of us do. That’s why Chump Lady’s mantra is to LEAVE a cheater and GAIN a life. It’s not about revenge or Girl Power or Once A Cheater Always A Cheater! or Fuck You! or I’ll Show You, Asshole! It’s simply about TRUST. Cheaters squander that the first time, shame on them. They squander it the second, third, fourth and twelfth times, shame on us.

At ChumpNation we all remember that Mindfuck Moment, or what psychologists call “Flashbulb Memory.” We can remember every single detail of where we were, how we found out, how it felt, what went through our heads, and worst of all, how our worlds shattered the moment we found out that our spouses cheated. I can tell you the date, exact time, and the fucking clothes I was wearing the first time that I saw OM’s name pop up on my ex’s caller I.D.

It’s a pain we didn’t deserve, a pain we don’t get used to, and a pain that should be a deal-breaker for all relationships on general principle. Reckoning Day is simply saying: “I deserved better from you and I deserve better than you.”

Easier said than done, but it sure beats having trust issues for the rest of one’s life. Getting old sucks enough. Who the hell wants to spend a marriage looking over their shoulder?

Comments

  1. Dara S says

    Sara,
    I am SO sorry to hear you dealt with a cheater and Breast cancer. How dare you do that to him? As I found out, as cancer patients we took the spot light off THEM. My medical records were also part of my divorce discovery and I had a great Oncologist who wrote a letter on my behalf stating that she did not consider any of her patients cured until at least 25 years have passed. I am now a 9 year breast cancer survivor and a
    7 year cheater survivor. Going through cancer was a breeze compared to going through a divorce from a lying cheating wife beating monster. Wishing you many happy and healthy years of survivorship. Living a stress free happy life is the Blessing in all this madness.

    • says

      Thank you Dara, and your oncologist is awesome. Isn’t it the truth? Had I but known being ill would be such a bummer for him I would definitely have postponed my cancer for another lifetime. Every oncologist should be as insightful as yours; as my friend put it, “No matter if 90 % of people survive you are 100% dead if you are in the wrong 10 %. It’s not like you’re 90% healthy.” It has been dicey getting through the divorce, I won’t lie. Now he’ll probably snicker with his brother about my depression. But you are so right, going through cancer was a breeze compared to living with his cancerous ass!! I’m not out yet–the legal misery is sucking the life out of me, along with his continued bullying. I appreciate your support so much. It helps knowing another woman survived both the humiliation and physical challenges. And rock on 9 years!

      • RobinLee says

        Hi Sara, I was going through today’s comments and wanted to add a couple more things about the legal stuff. If you are doing interrogatory/production of documents stuff, it can take a long time if you’re being thorough and if your lawyer wants everything in triplicate (as mine did). I asked for a time extension (2 or 3 months) when I saw how much work was involved. This is generally OK from what I’ve heard and the sooner you ask for an extension, the better. Also, I would get overwhelmed at all the paperwork and questions. I started to just knock out one question at a time and things seemed to go a lot faster. Be really kind to yourself right now. You don’t know how many people you may have helped by opening up.

        • says

          Thanks Robin, tonight is really tough. He’s harassing me with bullying texts and trying to threaten me into settlement. The case was mishandled from the beginning and spiraled out of control. My atty does not get that I can’t talk to him, but we’re nearing the end stretch and I’m lucky to have any atty at this point. My ex hid his money well, got so enraged if I got too close that I fell into 50’s unblissfully ignorant housewife by default. He won’t show his true cards, but we’ve wasted enough on lawyers. I have to come to a decision by tomorrow, or soon whether to take a chance and settle–low either way, but this would be with him providing hardly any significant financial discovery–after a year (!) Or suffer more humiliation and evals but go through the court, who might start to look down at his game playing. It’s gone on so long, I had no idea. Thank you for your kind words. I asked my friend how I could possibly make executive decisions–there is no such position open in my brain! If I eat a good meal, make it outside or god willing get to the market it’s a good day. How do I decide my divorce overnight with a psychoholic and an old lawyer who’s had enough already??

          • RobinLee says

            Gosh, I’m not sure what to tell you. I can say that my ex did no discovery either while I provided my lawyer with 2 banker boxes of paperwork. (The ex opted out of the whole process once faced with doing discovery/production of documents.) After the divorce, my ex did get involved contesting the divorce/etc but when we had to do a mini-discovery, I produced about 4 inches of paperwork while he breezed in with 3 payslips and a W-2. Who do you think had something to hide? Ha! Ha! We ended up settling that time “on the courthouse steps” (actually in 2 conference rooms in the courthouse…me in one room and the ex AND HIS FAMILY in the other!)

            Is there a rush? I know he may be squeezing you financially. What does your lawyer think your outlook is in court? I personally felt like the court had my back as it doesn’t like non-compliance, but every state and *every courthouse* is different. Is your lawyer efficient with your money and his time? It’s a lot cheaper to send emails back and forth…my lawyer liked succinctness. I’m surprised your old lawyer is ready to throw in the towel…he should know the judges, other lawyer, etc if he’s old. And this is what they do for a living! If he’s about ready to retire, is there a younger good lawyer in his firm who could take over? Good luck and don’t let your husband rush you if it will behoove you to wait or go at your own pace. Look after Sara…getting a good settlement might really help in your old age, then again maybe it’s not worth the aggravation and stress. Good luck and please keep us posted…we are rooting for you:-)

          • RobinLee says

            Oh, one more thing…our divorce decree specifies that my spousal support be paid through an “income deduction order” so there’s no demeaning pleading directly for a check…it’s been working so far. He was torqued, “I thought this was only for the worst of the worst!” I didn’t respond to that email, but did think, “Well, you are in that category.” Extremely passive aggressive. (Yours sounds more aggressive, I think?) Anyway, maybe you can ask your tired, old lawyer about this.

            • says

              Awesome! Torqued is the word–he’d rather pull his teeth out than write me a check. He was as aggressively passive aggressive as anyone could be. He agreed that he “got me to leave” by acting cruel and disgusting.

  2. SAChump says

    TS: I really, really hope it all works out for you, but I am thankful for your story because the comments helped me NOT to want to consider reconcilation, even though I wanted it very much. But now, from the experience of fellow chumps, reconciliation sounds like too much work, too many years, too much policing for almost 100% certainty that he will cheat again and you will never really forget the first time. I, like you, felt that I have been strong and set limits (I kicked him immediately after DDay and asked him to stop seeing the OW) AND asked for a divorce (which he does not want). However, at one point in this almost two month process I got sparkled again and managed to make up a story that we could get back together again AFTER divorce because we would start a new relationship after we went through whatever we needed to go through (I even suggested that he have an honest relationship with his OW so he could be sure that she wasn´t The One, in case he decided to come back to me–which is of course a long pick-me dance, now that I realize it). Fortunately, CLs blogs and my sister slapped some sense into me, but I still begged my guardian angel to send me another sign to show that he “truly sucked” (as if a one-year affair wasn´t enough). Almost immediately after my request, while I was going through some old back up CDs of his computer I found pictures, love letters and poems which showed that there was not one OW but at least three in the past 10 years. Therefore, it became clear to me that I would go through false reconciliation and be cheated on again in 1 month, 1 year or 5 years…it would happen again, but most importantly, during the periods that I thought he was that honest , nice guy for which I looked forward to being with again after reconciliation., I realized that he never existed. I hope for the sake of your time and health, that this is not your case.

  3. uncertain says

    I am appreciative of all of these comments, and I agree that leaving is much, much easier. I didn’t leave for 5 years of trying to reconcile and do everything in the book to get the cheating to stop. I lost those years, but I was also afraid because I had 2 young children in a foreign country. I didn’t know how I could face everything alone. But here’s another issue I struggle with daily, and I wonder if you all can help me: Can we really do o.k. all alone? I hate the idea that we have to dump everyone who betrays us. There are sometimes small betrayals even from friends and family. I think it’s good to know exactly who one is and that one will not tolerate betrayal. My secret worry is that actually most people will betray us at some point and then who is left? I am soooo scared to be cynical, but it is creeping up on me. This website is such a comfort to me. But the other side of it is that there are so many people who have betrayed good spouses. I really want to know that at least this is not the majority. I want to believe that many, many people are good and caring. Naive-sounding, I know. But this issue keeps overpowering me. The only way to trust again is to take a great big giant leap of faith. It is hard!

    • says

      Uncertain, the way I’ve resolved this is by looking at patterns and consistency. Anybody can screw up, anybody can do something dumb or even mean sometimes, thoughtlessly. Plus of course, no one sees things exactly as we do. But if this comes in the context of an otherwise caring and respectful relationship, and the person recognizes the problem when there is one, and we both can work on resolving it or getting through it, then this is someone I want to keep around in my life.

      My ex was very very often selfish, with the occasional considerate or caring moment. He was very frequently crabby, negative and judgmental of all around him, with the occasional fun or compassionate moment. He often acted in entitled ways … You get the idea. As ThatGirl says above, often the cheating is just what opens our eyes to how much our spouses sucked in other ways too.

      • jinx says

        “My ex was very very often selfish, with the occasional considerate or caring moment. He was very frequently crabby, negative and judgmental of all around him, with the occasional fun or compassionate moment. He often acted in entitled ways … You get the idea. As ThatGirl says above, often the cheating is just what opens our eyes to how much our spouses sucked in other ways too.”

        Exactly!

    • chumppalla says

      Hi uncertain, I know what you mean, I’ve been wrestling with the same stuff. It has been pointed out to me that the same ‘picker’ that got me into my marriage is the same one that is attracting other people into my life also, and that my picker got formed based on my expectations from what I became used to in my FOO. Understanding that, it becomes easier to understand why, when I look around me, I see plenty of people who are not so trustworthy, and then I tell myself my spouse is not that bad.

      Since that has been pointed out to me, I have been seeking new friendships with people who demonstrate values more in line with my own. They are out there. They may not be magnetically attracted to me like the narcs of the world seem to be, but they ARE out there. And I have had to learn a new way of being in these relationships – they are based on reciprocity rather than me doing all the listening, giving, caring etc. It feels foreign, but so much better. I actually have some people in my life now that I can trust, and that I can lean on occasionally. That feels so much better than feeling ‘all alone in the world’/I can’t leave my spouse/everybody sucks.

      Okay, yes, plenty of people suck. And plenty more don’t. Go find them.

    • cheaterssuck says

      I know it’s hard uncertain to believe that there is good on the other side of this mess but just coming to this website you can see there are great, caring people who trust and love and show compassion; so much so they’ve been trampled on by the one person who should have reciprocated those actions.

      Once the bucket O’ spackle gets puts down and you step away from the mess, I think we all realize that the person who inducted us into this club kind of sucks a lot more than we thought. Heck, if we conducted ourselves by their moral standards we could’ve all cheated too because they weren’t doing x, y, or z; but we didn’t so right there you know that there are people who won’t betray no matter what the circumstances.

      Know what your deal breakers are and stick by that. I don’t know why we talk ourselves into accepting less but if there is anything positive about this experience I am hoping it’s that I improve my picker and stop accepting less.

      • Lyn says

        cheaterssuck, I agree. I remember after my ex gave me the litany of my faults that “caused him to fall out of love with me,” I explained that I too had a long list of grievances, but they didn’t cause me to stop loving him. It boils down to one thing — our brains didn’t work the same. I’m artistic and have deep feelings, he is very linear and unemotional.

  4. Lyn says

    This is a good conversation and one I’ve often wondered about as well. If my ex can drop out of my life after 36 years it makes me wonder who I could ever really trust? I think the answer is to put my trust in my ability to care for myself. Before all this happened I truly didn’t know if I could survive being on my own. Abandonment was one of my deepest fears, most likely because of FOO issues and an insecure attachment style formed in childhood.

    I’m healthier now, but I don’t know if I’m where I need to be to have a truly reciprocal relationship. I notice with the person I’m currently dating there are still times I defer to him and that worries me. It’s so easy to fall into familiar patterns! But I suppose I have learned to love and care for myself much more than I did in my marriage. What’s weird is that being rejected and abandoned has taught me to value myself. I know I wasn’t perfect, far from it, but I did try very hard in my marriage to make an emotional connection. I am a good and loving person. I never thought of divorce, and I didn’t cheat even when my emotional needs were not being met. I would have been willing to work on any issue my husband had if he’d just been willing to open up about it. The problem was he just wouldn’t talk. Whenever I tried to bring up intimacy issues he told me men didn’t think about things like that. He made decisions about our life together unilaterally and got really pissed if I didn’t like all the same things he did. That’s why the most important thing I look for now in a relationship is communication. Can they talk about difficult subjects? Are they willing to work together to find solutions?

    Honestly, at this stage of my life I’m not looking to get married again. I enjoy having a companion but I’m not looking to live with anyone. I’m enjoying my independence and having some control over my own life.

    • Maree says

      Lyn, I swore I was reading about myself when I read your comment. It could have been written by me which is spooky. I have only ever known one love, my ex husband and I will never give another man a chance to betray, hurt and abandon me again. I like being alone and I think I always have. Just as well.

      • Lyn says

        Maree, I count myself as lucky because there was a time I was truly in love with my ex. Even though we don’t speak now, I loved him very much at one time. I’m grateful for that. Anyway, I’m open to new possibilities but I’m reluctant to plan for anything specific when it comes to future relationships. I’m certainly not chomping at the bit to get married again.

  5. says

    Ah geez. I cry incessantly. I save bugs. I’m always the ‘too sensitive’ one. I miss my cat, died 9 years ago. I’ve never posted on a blog before. If it weren’t for humor and truth I’d be dead. My cheater was a successful screen writer. My cheater before was a successful editor and publisher. I’m not successful, but that has nothing to do with my point. Chris’s post inspired me yesterday, gave me hope and initiated my getting support here. I’d been following but never posted. Maybe it’s not a coincidence that I read his post while sitting on the throne.

    • says

      sara, I’ve realized that a lot of particularly successful people are self-centered and entitled (and I know there are plenty who aren’t, as well! The proportions just seem off around the successful). I don’t know if being self-centered adds that extra ‘push’ that allows their talent and hard work to win out, or if being successful encourages them to think mostly about themselves.

      I just know that now I look VERY VERY carefully for red flags when someone is a ‘stand out’ at their work or wherever. And I actually feel more comfortable with normal and average people – the ones who share my interests and values, of course! Far less sparkle, often far more depth. ‘Cause I want a reciprocal relationship, next time, with someone who enjoys giving as well as receiving.

      • says

        Karen, it’s definitely the land of narcissists. I didn’t mean to come off like I felt groovy for citing published cheaters. If anything I’ve just fallen into the same trap time and again with English majors. It feels like this divorce is going to be the end of me; how can they be so clueless about love and so cleverly deceitful about finances and affairs??

        • says

          Sara, I finally realized that my ex wasn’t clueless about love, relationships etc. He didn’t give a fuck, and didn’t think he should have to ever make any effort in that area of his life (plenty smart and hard-working elsewhere). He should be loved and admired and cared for no matter WHAT he does and doesn’t do! Entitlement all the way. He’s even managed to drive our young teens away – so sad for them.

    • Monika says

      I’m sort of glad that in comparison to so many successful, professionally accomplished cheaters, mine is below mediocre, very unaccomplished, socially retarded, aloof, narcissistic, below average father and not particularly good looking either. I’m glad because it’s one less thing he can throw in my face, and you bet that despite of all his shortcomings, he has plenty to say.

  6. Meg says

    When I was 12 years old, my family went to Sea Life Park in Hawaii and there was a Q&A board about the porpoises:
    Q: Is it true that there are stories of porpoises saving lives by pushing drowning swimmers towards the shore?
    A: Yes!! There are many anecdotal stories about drowning swimmers being pushed to shore by these smart porpoises… Of course, we don’t hear from the drowning swimmers who got pushed the other way!

    I used to laugh about this, but my point is that we in Chump Nation, for the most part, are the ones who experienced the cheaters who never followed through on reconciling. The folks that are out there chasing unicorns are not reading or posting so much to this website. I appreciate today’s post, and Chris’ response suggesting all the red flags, based on his and many of our experiences. I also love how all of us Chumps are so willing to relive our own pain in order to help someone else! Awesome!

    All I know for sure is that my own XH was a narcissist (tested by a psychologist). He strung me along and got VERY fat eating cake for 6 years after DD, and a few years before. He made my life miserable before and after his affairs. I paid several different therapists who told me the same thing: RUN! I should have listened sooner, but I didn’t. I had to find out about a second simultaneous OW and got an STD before I pulled the plug and filed for divorce and finished the job. Now that I am out of the fog, I see how clearly I fooled myself into thinking he loved me. He was always lying, and took every chance and betrayed my trust over and over again until there was no more left.

    I am not sure how to identify the perpetual cheaters from the unicorns. This site validates that for many of us, as I have found through excruciatingly painful trial and error, once a cheater- always a cheater holds true. I wish it were otherwise but it’s not. Maybe there are some true reconciliations out there, and we just never hear from them. All I know is that MY cheater would not stop. As a toxic narcissist, he had grandiose ideas about himself and NO empathy for me or anyone else. It is depressing to live with someone who is truly narcissistic; you are invisible and your needs go unmet.

    So like the drowning swimmer, I got pushed to a different shore. I am happy again, and sure of myself and my worth. And trust? I trust that he sucks!

    • SeeTheLight says

      Meg- You summed up a very painful period in your life with truth and eloquence. Bravo for surviving the nightmare.

    • Arnold says

      I think that is true, Meg. IN my case, my XW’s were remorseless and downright cruel regarding their cheating. I do have a difficult time imagining cheaters any other way, as I have never met a remorseful cheater(that I know of).
      To be honest, I think my views do have a bit of “sour grapes” element to them.
      I really loved my first wife. We had a bright future( I thought) and two beautiful kids.
      Due to her serial cheating, my and my kids lives were forever damaged. I have one boy who is a Heroin addict now and I have little doubt that the continual rejection by his mom so she could pursue “social” (sexual escapaded) activities at ngith when he was a toddler played a role in his descent into this hell of Heroin addiction.
      So, I hate that woman with all my soui. She has never, ever apologized and never made any attempt at atonement or making restitution.
      I wish she would have stopped cheating, confesses and apologized etc and, maybe, I would have got past it.
      Call me an NPD for not forgiving, I guess. But, when one’s spouse wakes one up to describe the body of the man she was with, or when she announces two weeks after my dad died that she was going to Chicago with a new man she had met and sheaaring a hotel room, when she never even attended my dad’s funeral , I guess i just will not let that go.

      • nicolette14 says

        I am with you on that Arnold, I cant and wont forgive either. The way I look at it, if they truly loved and cared for us they wouldn’t/couldn’t cheat, lie, betray, hurt us the way they did, how can anyone can forgive someone like this, I know I cant and wont and if that makes me NPD too then so be it…

        • GladIt'sOver says

          I don’t dwell on it or waste my energies on anger or bitterness, but I will never forgive my ex, and see no reason why I should. Not only has he never apologized or taken any responsibility, he blames ME for his cheating, lying and horrible actions. He continues to try and hurt me when he can, even two years after divorce. This is the guy who sent me a text message completely out of the blue a few months ago saying that he “should have added LOL to the end of his marriage vows.”

          He is a monster, IMHO, and will never change, no matter how often he posts on Facebook about how “giving” he is or tells our son how he is “going to do great things.”

  7. Miss Sunshine says

    Personally, I use a lot of very foul language, especially here, where it is safe for me to do so. I like it. A lot.

    Curtsy to you, Good Chris, for you are an excellent writer with terrific insight. Your ex is an immature idiot hell-bent on self-destruction. (Yes, that goes for everyone’s cheater, I suppose.) CL was right to hand you the reigns.

    I do think it was ok for Janey to say she doesn’t like swearing. I disagree with her, and I don’t believe she should think she’s going to change anyone’s behavior. She did acknowledge that she was coming off all mom-like.

    I do think the ensuing criticism was pretty harsh, and I wouldn’t have gone that way. Call me a chump, but I’m feeling compelled to jump in front of her in her defense.

    On the other hand, it’s possible this Janey isn’t the former Janey–or she could be. Which is another reason it would be better if the posters could lock up their chosen screen names–first come, first served. The ability to use someone else’s name gets very confusing.

  8. Drew says

    Sara, keep pushing for the settlement. Get your lawyer to tell you what would be best. My lawyer sucked and I ended up negotiating my own. One thing I didn’t get stuck with was the credit card debt. I told my ex he could pay for his whore and not one dime of mine was going to be spent on his affair. Hold out as long as you can. Call his bluff. And keep adding money to the alimony. It’s what finally settled mine. Also I worried my children would be financially abandoned as they were all in high school/college so I made over half of my maintenance an Ed fund. I am not taxed on that, it helps with some expenses (financial aid, and loans do the rest), and the narc can actually tell himself he helped send his kids through college. I am thinking of wearing a Chump Nation t shirt to graduation. Lol

  9. Catz76 says

    Hey

    I have to say I so admire your bravery at telling your story to Chump Lady Chris Di Rico (and others) who criticise you as delusional and would like to ‘deconstruct your unicorn’.

    What you feel and think should NEVER ever be replaced by someone else’s definition or critique.

    There are several on here that take everything this blog says as some kind of holy writ and want to force you into their mould of bitterness and dissatisfaction.

    Im sure Chump Lady didn’t initially intend for her blog to be a snarl and attack site,
    I expect she probably thinks the site has a derisive smart ass tone with edgy humour, sadly it seems to have descended into weird free form nastiness where people are venomously sworn at and told to fuck off.

    Its so unfortunate.

    • says

      Funny, Catz, that you emphasize that Truth State should trust what she thinks and feels, when one of the biggest messages here seems to be; be careful! What you think and feel may be much more made up of what you wish and hope for than of the reality out there! What you think and feel may be much more a reflection of the kind of person YOU are and what YOU would do than of the reality of the cheating partner. And we know how easily this can happen, because we’ve done that too!

      And I don’t see the harshness (other than in the argument about profanity), I see a lot of support, a lot of ‘yeah, I’ve been there where you are, and it didn’t turn out well for me, but I hope it comes out better for you!’. Nobody is criticizing Trust State, just hoping she’s not setting herself up for more heartbreak.

      • Drew says

        I totally agree. If her husband never cheats again and treats her well then no problem. But she really needs to look out for herself. My marriage worked because I did all the work. My ex showed up when he felt like it and even then he was often disconnected. Trying to talk about challenges brought on his version of the truth. It all goes to balance, next time I will be be careful of the man who spends an inordinate amount of time at work, at the gym, and surrounds himself with friends who talk crap about their spouses. When you are in a relationship with a lost cause it kind of feels like something is missing.

  10. Truth State says

    To All,

    Well, I have to say I’m a little surprised my letter was posted in the first place. Thanks CL! I completely understand all of your skepticism and I appreciate the well-wishers. One year post “reconciliation” is certainly a short amount of time and I can also understand how it doesn’t pass some of your litmus tests. But then, neither would 20 years.

    My intention was not to spread “hopium”. I’m just sharing my story. I have nothing to prove. Believe me or don’t.

    To those who don’t buy my claims of celibacy (on his/my part). That is certainly a valid dubiety. During our separation, I honestly didn’t care what he did. I had no imaginations that he was chaste. I simply didn’t care. I didn’t assume and I didn’t ask. It was only after the last two honest years of change that my heart turned. He says he was celibate and I believe him. I believe him because of the work I saw. The results it produced. I also believe him because, honestly, what man waits around for his estranged wife for two years? (four years total!) The emotional, reputational and financial damage had already been done. He could have moved on so easily with someone else who would have given him a warm bed and three squares to come home to. I’m not your ideal homemaker, anyway. Opportunities and OW abound! Why hang around me for so long when I couldn’t care any less? He became a man of integrity. He wanted his family back and he put the work into fighting for that. Yes, I believe people can change. Though they OFTEN do NOT, I believe God can change our hearts. Again, my intention is not to try to convince you. Believe me or don’t.

    Chris and others reiterated the details from my story that indicated how my husband did not become serious about changing until I became serious about divorce. Does that somehow make his change less authentic? I would not be able to change that man, or anyone else, no matter how hard I willed it, manipulated it, or forced it. You can’t change people. My argument is that we are powerless to change others or even ourselves – outside of making the choice to allow God to change us.

    I did not reconcile with my husband “for the kids”, or because “it was the right thing to do”. I’m not noble or altruistic. My marriage was dead. It died when the trust died. We were so completely divorced in every way other than the legal paperwork. I had forgiven him for the hurt, yet I did not trust him. What kind of marriage is that? Not one I wanted to be in.

    I believe God changed my heart. I believe that my husband became truthful with himself and accountable for his choices. I believe that God gave me the grace to trust him again, even though I didn’t have to. There was a moment, a leap of faith, and it was scary. I jumped in, fully trusting. No anger, just a healed heart. This time it is different. I am not the chump bride that is willing to sacrifice my soul on the altar of love, as I was before. Someone mentioned having an antenna. Yes, I think that is the difference. When I went through my own personal recovery/counseling, I found out the underlying reasons WHY I was a chump. One reason was that I had no antenna. I could not see red flags, and when I did, I found wonderful excuses for them.

    My husband is a different man. I’ve lived with him a year now. He’s not the same. Nothing is the same. It’s better, not perfect, just better in the sense of the way you feel it’s supposed to be. I trust him because I trust that God has changed him. I do not say that in a swoony religious way. I say that because it is my testimony. Do I know the odds are against us? Yes. Am I looking over my shoulder? No. Please keep in mind that you’re only seeing an abridged version of my life, there is always more. Believe me or don’t.

    Whether I took my husband back or moved on with someone else, there is no guarantee in life that I will live happily ever after. No choice I could have made would be risk free. In a world full of darkness and hopelessness, what do we have if we can’t have a little faith in each other? I’m not advocating stupidity or blindness. I just think sometimes we make decisions out of fear. Sometimes we make self-promises that close us off from…miracles?

    I’m not special or holy in that I made these choices. Much of my separation was ruled by my own fear. I made plenty of chumpy mistakes, as Chris capitalized on. My story could have been different. My husband could have made the choice not to face his issues. He could be with the OW. I could have made the choice to divorce him, and I would have been fine. But, I’m very glad I didn’t. I stand by my story. I hope that somehow it helps others, if even just one.

    CL/Chump Nation take a hard line against cheating and cheaters. I tend to agree. As I stand by my good friend in her shitstorm, I direct her often to the wisdom of Chump Lady. However, I believe there is always a chance for reconciliation. Someone stated earlier, that there might be more authentic reconciliations if chumps didn’t make all the chumpy mistakes that CL so wisely speaks about: the pick me dances, trying to untangle the skein of fuckupedness, etc. Maybe so! I know that I needed my own counseling/therapy so that I would not make the same mistakes over again. There would not have been a “reconciliation” had not we BOTH worked on our inventory. I’m not an expert. Just sharing my story. Believe me or don’t.

    We are ALL flawed people who have lied, cheated, coveted, stole, raged, or judged at some point in our lives. I can see that just by looking at your responses to one another here on this board. I am guilty as well! Aren’t we all in need of grace? That’s no basis for reconciliation, but it is a reason to forgive one another and believe in the possibility of a person changing, even if it isn’t the norm.

    Just sharing my story.

    Believe me or don’t.

    • nicolette14 says

      Truth State,

      one more thing, say you have a business and a business partner and you find out he has been stealing thousands of dollars, right under your nose from the company for 6 years, would you still trust your business partner?

      • Truth State says

        no, nicolette14,
        I would not. But then I do not view marriage as a contract or business agreement. I view it as a covenant, a serious one that is too often broken. Not to be preachy, but the Bible equates infidelity/divorce as the “violent dismemberment of flesh”. Infidelity is extremely painful. As ugly as it is, I believe divorce is necessary. I was ready to divorce. My circumstances and my husband’s actions took a turn. Not a common story, but it is my story. We are not special, but I do think the choices we made were some of the hardest ones.

        Funny you should mention business as an example. I have witnessed your proposed scenario in my own family (5 yr business). Everyone forgave one another, but will not be doing business with each other again. There was a strain for a while, but the holidays are pleasant again.

    • Lyn says

      Thank you for sharing your story. I do believe people can change if they want to. Only you know what you’re comfortable living with, and you’re the only one who has to live with the consequences so best of luck to you.

    • notyou says

      Truth State,

      The salient characteristics about you that come through to me are your refusal to be a “victim”; your certainty that whatever happened, you would have the strength to face it while remaining true to identified and important values; your refusal to allow your inner peace to be destroyed by the behavior of others; and your willingness to change yourself (to remove that “beam” from your own eye).

      I believe you because I, too, have seen people who appeared irredeemable make remarkable and permanent changes. Yours was not an easy path nor were there any guarantees when you set out on it.

      You did the most difficult thing that one can do. You, “Let go and let God.” (There are some on here who are so tortured because they don’t yet know how to do this very thing.)

      Good fortune to you and your family…God Bless.

  11. nicolette14 says

    “Why hang around me for so long when I couldn’t care any less? ” because people want what they cant have!

    Be careful Truth State, this man had proven himself to be a cheating liar and remember,

    “The best predictor of future behavior is the past behavior.”

    Just saying…

  12. Still Waters says

    TS, I am glad you are happy and things appear worked out between you and your spouse. Nonethless, I am concerned after having been chumped myself and having a better understanding of these personality types, that you are being chumped again–he has gotten smarter about it is all. This is a person who committed to love and honor you–and if he could not do it until death–then he should have been honorable enough to deal with this honestly with you, instead he betrayed, dishonored and devalued the marriage until he was going to end up without all of his cake and little cupcakes. You were celibate for four years–just because he said he was does not mean he did so. When my husband was out of the country for extended periods of time he would tell me he was living like a monk–when in actuality he was living with a woman half his age. Please do not accept his apparent change at face value, you need to do some covert verification and checking so that you do not waste any more years of your life. If what you find out supports what he is saying, I will be happy for you, but please protect yourself and your children.

  13. says

    And whoever it was that voted thumbs up on Michael K at D-listed with me (can’t find the post :(
    I mean!!
    Where have I been all his life?

  14. Forest Chump says

    Chris DiRico….You are awsome!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Leave a Reply