Affairytale

Oh, how I wish I could take credit for that term. Unfortunately, I stole it from one of Chump Lady’s many commenters. It was what that particular commenter calls her ex-husband’s relationship with his whore.

If the “relationship” between the two cheaters is called affairytale, then what word might describe a marriage between two cheaters?

A farce registered at Macy’s. Fine. That’s more than one word. Yet, that is how Chump Lady describes the marriage between the cheater and the affair partner. How better to tell the world that this wasn’t some tawdry affair than to pledge to love, honor and cherish your affair partner. Sure, you sold that same pack of lies about love and commitment and forsaking all others to your ex but hey, this time you really mean it! This is your soul mate, after all. There will be no pesky problems that permeate real life.  Or as Chump Lady wrote:

I think you’re pretty clear on their motivations- to show the world, with hand-engraved invitations and pastel sugared almonds- that they aren’t fuck ups.  No, their treachery had PURPOSE!  This is what soul mates DO- they marry.  You were just an obstacle to their happiness, and so now they can be together for eternity!

…what does marriage mean to two people who have already shat all over monogamy?  What does commitment mean to people who don’t honor commitments?  What does honor mean to dishonorable people?  It’s a farce registered at Macy’s.

People who cheat have crappy life skills… They tend to be narcissists… Narcissism and crappy life skills are not good qualities in a partner.  Perhaps you suffer from the common chump delusion that with the affair partner they will be different!  Well yeah, their surroundings are different.  Their wedding china is different.  But they are still the same crappy people they were before, only now with more baggage and life complications.  His dick doesn’t have magic transformative properties that turn her into a good woman. [And her pussy doesn’t have magic transformative properties that turn him into a good man.]

If you’re feeling particularly vengeful, the best you can hope for is that they stay stuck with each other for many years to come, as the shiny quickly wears off.  Someone is bound to cheat and check out.  Gaslight.  Blameshift.  Do less and expect the other to pull more weight.  A long, miserable life together trying to prove everyone wrong- hey, it was so worth fucking up everyone else’s life to have this… banal, shitty existence together.

So how do marriages that begin with an affair fare? Not too well, according to everything I can find. Someone once went to the trouble of compiling this list of “statistics”. I put it in quotes because a lot of it was extrapolation.

  1. Depending on the sources only 1-10% of married men leave their spouses and marry their whores.  I think that’s a pretty wide range but I’m also fairly certain I’ve heard anywhere from 2-3% all the way up to 10%.
  2. Over 75% who marry affair partners eventually divorce.  Color me shocked.  What, you mean two cheaters couldn’t make it work?  What is the world coming to these days?
  3. 80% of those who divorce during an affair regret their decision.  Yeah, it must really suck when reality intrudes on fantasy and the cheater discovers exactly who he or she is stuck with now.
  4. To sum up, for every 100 people who have an affair anywhere from 1-10 of them marry their affair partner.  Of those, statistics say that 75% will divorce within 5 years.  (I wonder what the overall statistics are.  Jezebel and Husband #2 lasted 10 years post marriage.)  Ultimately, MAYBE 1-3 out of 100 live “happily ever after”.

Put another way…

*Chances of affair ending in marriage: 10% or 1 in 10.

Chances of affair marriage divorce: 80% (1 in 5 affair marriages will survive).

Chances of “Happily Ever After” marriage to AP: 2% or 1 in 50 (1 in 10 multiplied by 1 in 5 = 1 in 50 or 2/100 (2%)).

Sure, there are cases where two cheaters end up together. Hell, I’ve said many times people do indeed win the lottery; doesn’t mean you should stake your retirement on those odds. I also realize that pretty much everyone who is engaged in an affair believe that they are special. This affair is different; it’s true love. They are soul mates. The sex is phenomenal and the AP understands the poor cheating spouse like no one else ever could. It is fate, destiny. Okay. Sure. You are different. This really is true love. You are soul mates. It’s destiny. Let’s examine some of these examples of fate and destiny, otherwise known as marriages that resulted from an affair…

I again point to Jezebel and Husband #2. She left her first husband, the father of her children, for her pastor. He was her very best friend. The whole problem between her and her first husband was lack of communication. And the fact that their sex life was nonexistent. When she married Husband #2 people told her she had never looked happier.

But alas… reality set in. Life got real. She decided she had daddy issues which set her up to marry Husband #2, who happened to be 20 years older than her. She re-used the exact same script. New affair partner was now her very best friend. She was wild about him. He made her happy. In fact, people told her they had never seen her looking happier. Imagine that!

Husband #2 was convinced she was worth giving up everything for. And give up everything he did. He lost his church. They struggled financially for many years. He had to get a regular job.

Yet, in the midst of it they were madly in love. They were very best friends. Until life got real and he couldn’t keep up with giving her all the attention (and material goods) that she demanded. Until she found someone else. Now Husband #3 is the love of her life as the clock ticks on his shelf life.

On the bright side for any cheaters out there willing to risk it all for someone with poor morals and lousy character… they did manage to remain married for approximately 10 years. They were together for 14 years, although she was cheating by year 13. So if it blows up it doesn’t always blow up immediately…. unlike the next set of star crossed lovers.

Bonnie and Clyde remain one of my favorite “success” stories. He left his long term marriage for a woman who ended up embezzling from her employer to fund their extravagant lifestyle. I’m not sure what part he played in all of that but I do know he joined her in prison after they were busted. Joined her is not exactly correct. He was sent to the men’s prison while she went to the women’s prison and then onto a halfway house where she met her next husband. Their marriage lasted less than five years and they caused a hell of a lot of destruction during that time.

While I don’t know this next person personally I’ve read her story for many years now. She married her best friend, a man she had dated for 10 years. They had two children. She quit her job to be a stay at home mom at his urging. Then when their youngest was 4 he got another woman pregnant. On purpose. He never did marry his affair partner, but he did eventually move in with her and their shared child. Now he’s cheating on the first other woman and she is appalled that he could do such a thing to her. That bitch actually emailed the ex-wife to complain about it! It was understandable when he was cheating with her on his wife, but now that she was the main course she was stunned he was still looking for a side dish. I’m your destiny!

I was once a part of a large group of friends. Eventually one of the men left his wife for one of her good friends. The story was they just fell in love. My friend ended up putting their house on the market and it sold in less than 24 hours. She sold off all her possessions and moved into an apartment. Their life together was obliterated while he sought out happiness with a woman my friend considered to be one of her best friends. But the two cheaters had so much in common. I believe “so much in common” boiled down to they both liked to golf. At one point the two lovebirds wore matching clothes. Awww… isn’t that sweet? It was another marriage that didn’t last. She’s now married to a man she used to know years ago. He’s just the best husband in the world, according to her Facebook page. Again, a huge amount of damage left behind in the wake of their short-lived fateful marriage.

I have a friend whose sister had a many year affair with a married man. They are now married. His kids refuse to have anything to do with her. It’s still a relatively new marriage. I think they’ve been married around 5 years so we’ll see how it pans out in the long run.

There is another website I used to visit frequently, back in my reconciliation days. I think it’s called Healing From An Emotional Affair. The couple dealt with his emotional affair with a co-worker. During the course of the time they’ve had this blog the wife’s brother had an affair, left his wife and married his mistress. His children have very little to do with him and nothing to do with his wife. And this is years later. Their mother recently died from cancer. Their father paid for the funeral and was in attendance. His wife flew on back home. I won’t say it’s not a happy life because he never speaks about it. It’s always tales from his sister or brother-in-law. It is apparent, though, that the man now has to live two separate lives- one with his kids and one with his wife. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Another friend that I work with had a cheating husband as well. We were comparing stories one day. He cheated on her with his best friend’s wife. Long story short- they divorced their spouses and married each other. They even had twins. Then she cheated on him. Hell, maybe she cheated on him before the twins. Doesn’t matter. She cheated. They divorced. She died. That karma sure is a bitch, huh?

I’m also struck by the number of people who write blogs because they’re either in the midst of a divorce, or have recently divorced.  After reading for a while you suddenly discover that they were the other woman. In one case it’s a man who left his wife for his narcissistic affair partner. It didn’t end well. It usually doesn’t. It’s yet another case of people thinking they are getting this wonderful prize, that they deserved it and the spouse was in their way. Take what you want because you deserve it. And then WHAM! It turns out the shiny, sparkling prize was nothing but a sparkly turd. They are SHOCKED! You would think that most people would be able to connect the dots… if you are with a person who thinks it’s perfectly okay to cheat… you are not with a very good person…. that person has crappy character.  If you are willing to cheat then you, too, have crappy character.

Then there was the woman who left her husband for her affair partner. They got married and shortly thereafter, the new husband killed her. Nothing says true love like murder, right? It’s not quite Romeo and Juliet but it’s so close!

There was also the man who divorced his wife for his mistress. Friends and the ex-wife said she was a gold digger. She denied it, of course. Everything was picture perfect for a while. She eventually befriended his kids and gave birth to two more children for him. They lived a lavish lifestyle, filled with parties, cars, vacations, and big houses. Then the real estate bubble burst and he lost all his money. She soon filed for divorce and eventually had him killed. Yes, I did see that one on ID TV; that does not negate the fact that a man left his wife for his mistress and ended up being killed by her.

I’m sure Stacy Peterson thought she was special and unique when she having an affair with Drew Peterson. He’s now in prison for her murder. Well, I suppose she was unique in that unlike the ex-wives her body has never been found.

Then there are those who remain married but miserable. As has been pointed out before it’s a farce registered at Macy’s. You destroy a family, you toss away kids, you lose the respect of many close to you so it had all damn well better be worth it.

I’ll never forget the story from a commenter on Chump Lady. Her in-laws married after an affair. She said they were both miserable. MIL got pregnant and FIL left his wife and 3 children for the pregnant mistress.  By all outward appearances they have it all and they look like an amazing couple- multiple homes, flashy cars, lots of outward displays to demonstrate their happy life together.  But it is all a sham, according to the daughter-in-law.  Their lifestyle is supported by charity and handouts.  The FIL is depressed over the fact his 3 previous children have nothing to do with him.  His wife is a functioning alcoholic who is on antidepressants and needs sleep aids to sleep.  They have nothing to do with one another but they can say they’ve been married for 34 years and whenever an anniversary comes along they will celebrate the shit out of it to put on a good face to the crowds.  They have to keep this facade up because otherwise their “great love story” isn’t so great.  It’s just another tawdry affair that devastated lives.

I know; I know. There are undoubtably some cheaters out there who are thinking, “Yes, but none of those people are exactly like me. I need statistics on men who are left-handed, make between $80,000 & $110,000, like to restore vintage record players, went to school in the South, and dislikes baseball. Furthermore, my affair partner is a vet tech who excels in math and science and who loves chocolate.”

Sorry. I’m not able to be more precise. I’ve given you story after story where things have not worked out well for the cheaters. The Internet is filled with stories of people who thought they had found a sparkling diamond only to find out it was glitter covered turd. You know what divorce lawyers call affair partners who get married? Repeat business.

I’ll admit sometimes it does work out. It’s rare but it happens. Just like I’m sure that sometimes the hooker with the heart of gold really does wind up getting married to the millionaire like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman. I wouldn’t start working the streets with that in mind but if someone wants to try it, be my guest. Let me know how it works out for you. By all accounts it’s a disaster.

As for the faithful spouse, the one who was betrayed and left behind here is some uplifting information. I hope it makes you smile. I’m not sure where I found it, but it was written by a marriage and sex therapist who sees this kind of thing all the time.

Overwhelmed by a potent mixture of anger, guilt, and wounded narcissism, they’re often kept afloat by the solace and support of caring friends. The faithful spouse is perceived as the more disadvantaged, almost without fail. After all, the other partner is now comfortably ensconced in a new relationship.

As a sex and marital therapist, I’ve seen lots of marriages dissolve in this pattern, and it has changed how I focus my efforts to help both partners. For all the emotional turmoil monogamous spouses endure, I’ve also known them to emerge from this situation in better emotional shape than they’ve ever enjoyed before. Not so for the spouse who “found someone new” before separating from their current partner, all the while lying about it.

While the pain of the monogamous spouse is immediate and apparent, the fallout for the adulterous spouse is usually longer in coming and less predictable–until you understand what’s going on.

Some people become richer, fuller, happier human beings by staying in their marriages; others accomplish this by getting divorced. But I’ve never seen growth occur when someone continues an extramarital affair while ending their marriage.

“I’ve outgrown you”–sugar-coated as “We’ve grown apart”–is often the stated reason for the split. They may look like they’re standing on their own two feet, or even standing up to their spouse, but when there’s an extramarital affair going on, it only seems that way. Such behavior is a charade of independence, integrity and personal growth, not the real thing. The departing spouse isn’t just holding onto a “new” partner while they let go of the other; more often, they’re leaning on the new partner because they can’t or won’t stand up–or hold onto–themselves.

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