The Cheater’s Handbook and the Reconciliation Industry


We’re going to take a little break from my song list and take a look at what Chump Lady calls the Reconciliation Industrial Complex.  I’ve been on both sides of the equation.  If you’ve read my entire blog, or even just gone back to read The Whole Sad Story Part 1, Part 1.5 and Part 2, you know Cousinfucker had an emotional affair with Harley two years before he finally fucked the whore.  I forgave him.  Why?  Honestly, I think I was just so pissed about finding out I had been doing a pick me dance all summer and having no clue!  I mentioned that summer had a record number of days in the triple digits, right?  And I mentioned dragging my ass out into the garage and listening to music I didn’t enjoy in order to “prove” my love and show him that our marriage could be happy, right?  So imagine finding out the day of your kid’s birthday party that you weren’t just fighting for your marriage but that your husband had been lying to you and playing you for a fool all summer long!  The entire time I was “fighting” for him he was enjoying the attention and my efforts and then he would turn around the next morning and text that bitch the minute he walked out the door.  Followed up by calling her and chatting the entire drive to work.  Why I didn’t dump him that very instant instead of giving him an ultimatum I don’t know.  I suppose because I wanted to keep my family intact.  I didn’t want my kids to have divorced parents.  I didn’t want her to “win”.  I experienced some white hot fury at realizing all the mind fuckery that had gone on all summer.  I let loose on him, told him to get his head out of his ass and to decide what it was that he wanted, reminded him that I deserved to be happy too and I wasn’t going to hang around waiting for him to dump me, and then I issued the ultimatum, not really believing he would “pick” me.  I was honestly surprised when I “won”.  But really, what did I win?  I won a lying, cheating sack of shit who ultimately fucked me over once again and even worse, abandoned his children.  After moving us 2000 miles across the country and decimating our lives, of course.  He takes the idea of living a brand new life and completely turns it on its head.  Yeah, I didn’t realize it meant him fucking his cousin and living in another state.

This time I filed for divorce.  Now, I’ve admitted I saw the writing on the wall.  Even if I wanted to reconcile I knew there was no chance of it.  Despite that I knew I couldn’t take him back.  I had already told him that if he did it again we were done.  How could I ever trust him again if he did it twice?  How could I ever expect him to take me seriously if I told him I’d leave and then didn’t?  It would have been open season on cheating.

Where is this going?  I’m glad you asked.  Since I’ve been on both sides I’ve read a lot of blogs.  Obviously, when I was trying to salvage the marriage I sought out people who were like me- people who had been cheated on and were working through the infidelity.  It was even better if the husband had had an emotional affair. Sidebar: I’m not going to be gender neutral here because all the blogs I read were by women who had been cheated on.  The only blogs I read by men were men who had cheated.  I sometimes check in on these women because I’ve come to care about their stories.  I want to see if things get better.  I’m rooting for them and whatever it is that they want.  So I see the comments from the other readers who are going through this.  I continue to read about the triggers and the anti-versaries and the pain and hurt and anger.

This time around I hustled my ass over to Chump Lady.  Her tag line is:  Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life.  She is frequently accused of being bitter but I think the reality is she doesn’t believe that true reconciliation happens often; instead, what you get is a cheater who wants to have their cake and eat it, too.  You get a cheater who doesn’t want to go through the hassle of divorce, or who needs the respectability of a family.  This cheater is very invested in keeping the spouse and family; however, this cheater also has absolutely no interest in really making amends or no longer cheating.  He or she just gets better at keeping it underground.  She’s also more than willing to tell people the hard truth.  If you want to reconcile you’re not going to want to hear that your husband (or wife, but again, the reconciliation blogs I read are by women and almost 100% of their comments are from women as well) is not doing what he should to make amends.  You don’t want to hear he’s trying to have his cake and eat it, too.  You don’t want to hear that his latest excuses are bullshit.  You don’t want to hear that he’s not special or unique or brilliant; he’s just an ordinary lying liar who lies and a rotten cheating cheater who cheats.

She reviles the so-called Reconciliation Industrial Complex.  I have to say when you compare and contrast the two views they are amazing.  It’s like being told all of your life that you’re stupid and everything bad that happens to you is your fault.  Then one day someone comes along and tells you you’re NOT stupid and it wasn’t YOUR fault.

How many of you that were cheated on were asked to examine YOUR PART in the affair?  Raising hand and waving it wildly!!!!  I didn’t even have to be asked; I jumped all over it.  Here is where I have failed.  I will do better, you awesome human being; I am so lucky YOU are willing to give ME another chance to be your wife.  Tell me, pleeeeeaaaaase, how I can change so that you won’t ever have to cheat on me again!

I do believe I have mentioned how Cousinfucker had a list for me.  It wasn’t a written list; that would have gone too far.  He was very verbal though about the problems and what led to him cheating.  Here’s the funny part.  His list is no different from the list of thousands of cheaters before him.  They all give the same pathetic excuses.  They all think they’re special and that it’s our job to make sure they never feel the need to cheat.  The following is a small sample of excuses given by Cousinfucker and others.

  1. We’re nothing more than roommates.  This is a very popular refrain.  I thought CF was unique in this one but no!  I’ve actually read comments from other spouses who’ve dealt with cheating husbands (or wives) and their cheater said the same thing.
  2. I’m just a handyman/paycheck.  If you feel that way, Cousinfucker, maybe it’s because that’s what you’ve reduced your role in the family to.  I would have *loved* to have you accompany us on outings.  I would have *loved* to spend some actual family time with you.  Your kids would have loved to have had you available for their games, their school award assemblies, and any other things that were important to them.
  3. We didn’t have enough sex.  That one is a common complaint for a lot of people.  I’ve also heard women who have said they didn’t know when their husbands could possibly have found the time to have sex with someone else because they had sex almost every day.  In my defense I would simply like to point out that perhaps if I hadn’t been banished to the couch because my snoring bothered you you would have gotten a little more.  It’s really hard to feel romantic when you’re treating me like a street whore.
  4. He didn’t mean to hurt me.  That’s not one he trotted out but it is a very popular cheater phrase.  I believe it’s on page 1 of the Cheater’s Handbook.  Very important phrase.  Much like the drunk driver who didn’t mean to kill that person the cheater simply needs to say they didn’t *mean* to hurt you.  If a person didn’t *mean* for it to happen then it doesn’t count, right?
  5. He didn’t set out to have an affair/fall in love.  Yeah, I got that one.  He didn’t intend for it to happen.  I think that could easily be restated as, “I didn’t *mean* to have an affair/fall in love.”  Oh well, then we’re good!
  6. We should be friendly “for the sake of the children”.  Hey jackass, here’s a thought.  If you’re really concerned about the children try not fucking other women when you’re married to their mother!
  7. My spouse doesn’t understand me/doesn’t care about me.  This one goes hand in hand with #2.  Cousinfucker LOVED to spread the narrative that I hated him and that I was going to leave him.
  8. My spouse doesn’t meet my needs.  When you’re a needy, whiny, narcissistic sonofabitch NO ONE can meet your needs.  I gave up trying.  Suck it, cheater!
  9. She gives me attention.  I bet she does!  His biggest request was that I text him more because Harley texted him constantly.  He just wanted to know what I was doing and be a part of my day.  It made him feel so much closer to me.  My therapist, however, says it’s a huge sign of control.  He also wanted me to touch him more.  “Just put your hand on my thigh or come up and give me a hug.”  I can’t believe I dealt with this whiny ass baby.  Seriously!

I’m so tired of hearing other women (and men, too, to be fair) take the blame for their husband’s affair.  People cheat because they can.  They cheat because they want to.  They cheat because they have poor character.  They cheat because they are entitled assholes who think of no one except themselves.  I’m tired of hearing people blame the spouses.  I get it.  I really do.  If you can pinpoint what it is that the betrayed spouse did to make the other person cheat then you can avoid that in your own relationships.  If the cheating is all on the cheater and the cheater doesn’t even need a reason…. well, that disturbs the whole world order.  How can you prevent your cheater from cheating if you don’t know what you’re doing wrong?  Hell, how can you prevent it when it turns out the cheater doesn’t need a reason?  You can be absolutely perfect and still have your spouse cheat on you.

It saddens me when I hear of people who are dealing with triggers years later. Again, I get it.  My anniversary was a trigger the whole two times I celebrated it after the first affair.  Him talking about happiness was a huge trigger as well.  So believe me I get it; I really do.  I’m relieved though that I no longer have to deal with it. I do have different triggers now, unfortunately.  They don’t simply vanish when you’re no longer involved with the cheater.  For me, it’s hearing about people who are celebrating long term marriages.  It makes me a little bit sad each and every time it happens, whether it’s the pastor at church relaying something about it in his sermon or friends giving a shout out to their significant other on their anniversary.  It’s also seeing pictures of parents with their grown children, knowing that we won’t ever have that.  It’s going to sport banquets and, I’m assuming graduations and weddings, all alone instead of celebrating those achievements and milestones with the person who helped make that child.

It saddens me when I hear of therapists who tell people not to make a decision for a year or two years.  Really?  The common wisdom is to live life in limbo for two years while you wait to see if your cheating spouse can clean up his or her act?  What about YOU and your pain?  What about you putting yourself first and figuring out what it is that YOU want- not just from this relationship but from life in general?

I detest this idea that you need to let your cheater “mourn” the loss of the relationship with the whore.  Bullshit!  What about having the shit scared straight out of you because you might lose your actual spouse?  Instead of excusing the cheater for focusing on how “sad” the cheater might be because of this loss of a sex buddy maybe we should start demanding they focus on how lucky they are that their spouse is willing to give them another chance?  Or demand that the cheater starts thinking about what life without their spouse might be like?  Maybe if they focused a little more on their actual partner instead of whining about losing the whore in their life….

Again, I would never tell a person to divorce or to reconcile.  That’s not my decision to make.  But I will point out the bullshit and there is a lot of it out there!

8 thoughts on “The Cheater’s Handbook and the Reconciliation Industry

  1. I accept zero blame for my husbands affairs. Maybe that’s me being selfish. I can say with out any doubt that I was an excellent wife. That being said, I did the pick me dance too. I did it out of fear more than any other reason.
    I desperately wanted to give our marriage a chance. He didn’t want to. It hurt so bad, it was the worst hurt I’ve ever experienced, but I know that it might be very lucky that he didn’t want me anymore. Life would never be the same 😖…
    Life isnt easy now that I’m alone. It’s harder. But I know divorce was the right thing to do, for me at least.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good for you! I don’t think it’s selfish at all. I’m glad you didn’t fall into the trap of blaming yourself.

      I think it’s pretty natural to try to salvage a marriage. I know I did. And if I’m being 100% honest I have to admit I still have moments where I start to take the blame. Chump Lady keeps me on the straight and narrow though!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I know chump lady gets a bad rap but I don’t know why because she’s upfront about her stance on reconciliation – so if people don’t like it they don’t have to read it. She speaks the truth and the truth makes people uncomfortable. I have to say I think she is much less damaging than those authors with PhD after their names who have never been through infidelity and want to tell you to claim your part in driving your partner to cheat. When I had just discovered my husbands affair, reading that stuff just added to my despair. I also wanted to save my marriage for the sake of my children but also I was afraid of life without him. Those articles that tell you take part of the blame are really doing a disservice – and I think they actually prolong the pain for a lot of betrayed spouses because while you’re out trying to be better, listening more, having more sex, buying lingerie, trying not to be too hurt, upset, angry in case it pushes them away – you’re distracted and can’t see the cheater is simply continuing the affair!!
    The chump lady article that changed my life was the one called ‘Real remorse or genuine imitation Naugahyde’ –

    After I read that I knew my husband was taking the piss with me and had no intention of doing what he said he was going to do.
    I would also never tell anyone whether to stay or divorce, but I would tell them never to let their cheater convince them it was their fault – and also to a watch actions – someone who is really sorry will work hard to make things right, no if’s, but’s or maybe’s.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think you pretty much nailed it- no one wants to hear that reconciliation doesn’t work often. Genuinely work, I should say. You get a lot of that, “Let’s see what was missing in the marriage,” talk and the cheater just laying low while the cheated on does most of the work.

      I get it, though. When I thought my marriage was saved I stayed far away from Chump Lady based on negative reviews by other bloggers. In hindsight I should have read up! CF was all about focusing on the future, putting this all behind us, and basically me working on the marriage. I have to say I now love, love, love Chump Lady and recommend her to my friends who are going through the same thing as me.


  3. It has been hugely important for me to consider all sides, all options. I think back about the therapist we were seeing prior to any knowledge of affairs (you know, when our marriage was just broken and HUSBAND was telling me he wanted a divorce because there just had to be more for both of us in the second half of our lives…but he left out the little reality of his whore on the side feeding his ego and his sexual appetite) I was really interested in figuring out how things had gone sour between us. And then…disclosure started and trickle truth…and our initial therapist was AWESOME. His response? Oh…this changes EVERYTHING. Looked at me…why do you want to stay married? My response? I’m not sure I do. His response? Good answer, and you don’t have to. I will be forever grateful for that response, because from nearly the moment that I began to understand the shitstorm that was REALLY my life, I had people in my corner helping me see I wasn’t cornered. And yes…I found Chumplady and read her stuff. And beyond affiars, and other woman forums, and articles in the nYT and Huff post and stats and these amazing blogs of real women. I’ve never felt compelled to stay, or to leave, and I DEFINITELY do not take blame for the (still so incredibly shocking to me) double life of sex shit that HUSBAND engaged in off and on throughout our marriage. That is something I think we all need to give to each other – just support. And care. And encouragement for the ME in the us, that she heals, and she becomes whole and she sees a future regardless of the HE. I love you guys. I’m so thankful for you. HUGS>

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It sounds like you had a great therapist. My current therapist actually saw CF for something completely unrelated before she saw me; however, since I accompanied him to every single appointment she could see me when everything fell apart. She has told me many times that I am going to be so much better off without him and that none of this has been my fault. That has really helped, especially since she “knows” him from a professional standpoint.

      I definitely agree about the support angle. It’s so important to be supported by others during this time. I don’t blame anyone who wants to try reconciliation. How could I? I did it myself! I think I must have known though throughout the entire time that mine was not being done “correctly”. I remember having a bad day not more than two weeks after finding out and he got all pouty. I did remind him that I had told him this wasn’t going to go away overnight and that I would have bad days. He would have a pity party for himself because I didn’t want to have anything to do with his family since they were still interacting with Harley. I think it was easy for him to say he understood but when the time came for him to put that into action he couldn’t follow through. In my case I believe it was probably doomed from the beginning unless I treated him with kid gloves and stuffed all my feelings deep down inside. In fact, that’s what I did do and it all went to hell when he found out that life wasn’t as perfect as he imagined. He just went out and found the whore again, compliments of his mommy. I put up with way too much throughout the entire marriage and during reconciliation but that’s my own cross to bear. I hope I didn’t come across as though I don’t think anyone should try to save their marriage.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh no…you absolutely did not come across that way. But so many do, one way or the other – as you know. Now…about his mommy and Harley…that makes me really, honestly want to VOMIT. You did put way too much in with very little return on your investment, and I’m really glad you are finding a new path!! I admire you so much for your strength!!


  4. @savingshards – you always wrote so beautifully.

    ‘..that she heals and becomes whole and see a future regardless of HE’


    So important i found to consider a future without the cheating partner – because sometimes the sadness of losing what you thought was forever and the fear of that loss and never finding love again can be so debilitating and it is easy to settle, relax boundaries etc. Whenever we operate from a position of fear it can never be positive.
    Facing that fear to realise that there is a future regardless of whether you stay or go gives you freedom and peace. If you decide to leave you realise that you will be ok and if you decide to stay you hopefully will not settle for a sub standard marriage but a completely new relationship where honesty emphathy and transparency take the lead.

    Liked by 1 person

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