I go round and round trying to put this into words and someone from Chump Lady comes along and puts it so much better than I’ve been able to.
As a person who did get a divorce in Virginia I believe he nailed it. I used to be one of those people who believed you were married until the divorce was final. You’re married or you’re divorced; there is no in between.
Then you get abandoned by your cousin fucking husband in a state that requires a year of separation before you can divorce. He’s off living his best life ever, or so he believes. He opens a joint bank account with her even while I have no idea he’s cheating, stops putting his pay check into our joint account, buys the twat an engagement ring less than a month after he’s found out, quits his steady job of 15 years, moves out of state and moves in with the whore. Never sees his kids. Doesn’t even bother to tell you he’s done any of this. I’m supposed to be faithful and loyal to that? Why? The marriage is over. He’s living with another woman. He’s engaged to another woman. Why am I held hostage to his games?
Or you chase after your alcoholic wife, hoping against hope that you can control or at least contain her drinking. You make excuses for her. You protect her. You exhaust yourself trying to keep your family together. Despite the fact that she cheated on you, leading you to give up everything that you held dear. You sell your business and your home, relocate your family, and move to a different state. And then she disappears for days at a time. She’s cheating on you again. One day she moves out without saying a word to you or your kids. One minute she’s there; the next minute she’s gone. She moves in with the new man. Brings him to the kids’ sporting events. Makes it a point to try to make you look like the negligent husband and he’s the knight in shining armor. So you file for an online, no fault divorce. She refuses to sign the papers. She refuses to tell you what she wants. Your divorce is at a standstill because she doesn’t want a divorce but she also doesn’t want to give up the boyfriend. You later find out she’s been spreading rumors about how you abused her, you were controlling, you’re emotionally abusing your teenage daughter, the one she left behind to be with her new love. You’re supposed to put your life on hold until you can convince a crazy woman to sign divorce papers, or until you can get in front of a judge a year later? Why? She cheated and her life isn’t on hold. Why are you, the cheated on one, the actual victim, expected to put everything on hold until the divorce is final? She’s living with another man. What is there to hold together?
To me cheating involves lies and deception. Cheating is when your spouse lies and deceives an innocent partner who believes they are part of a monogamous, loving relationship. They haven’t consented to opening up the relationship. They don’t know their spouse is off fucking someone else. They don’t know they’re being lied to. They don’t know the extent of the deceit. To paraphrase the above commenter, cheating is abusing the fact that your partner trusts you and is invested in you and your relationship.
When I met the mobster my husband was living with another woman hundreds of miles away. I hadn’t laid eyes on him in over a year. I was not telling him I loved him. I wasn’t going on family outings with him. I wasn’t making plans for the future with him. I wasn’t telling him I wanted to have another baby with him. I wasn’t telling him he was my rock and my savior. I didn’t let him think we were a normal, married couple while I fucked around behind his back. Our relationship was over. Our marriage was dead; we were simply waiting on the death certificate.
The same could be said for the mobster. He was finished the day she showed her ass up in the bleachers while attending a game for one of their kids. He told her he was filing for divorce; it was not a shock when she got those papers. I can believe she didn’t think he’d go through with it but that’s on her. He wasn’t telling her he loved her. He wasn’t planning a future with her. He wasn’t begging her to come back or telling her he would wait forever. He finally accepted this was who she was and he had finally had enough of the hell she put him through. There was no deception. There was no sneaking around behind her back. When we did finally meet there was no lying about who I was. He never tried to hide my existence or convince her I was just a friend. Hell, he straight up told her he loved me and even though I thought he was crazy he was going to marry me one day. She ended their marriage when she moved out of the family home and in with another man. Now it’s just a matter of waiting for the official declaration.
I’ll go one step further. If Jerry Lee and Harley had imploded and Jerry Lee went on to find yet another person before we were officially divorced, I wouldn’t consider that new person to be the other woman. Not even if he found this new one before I found the mobster. Our marriage was over at that point. Him going behind my back, fucking Harley and betraying me and my kids was what ended our relationship- not a formal divorce. At that point, if he was no longer with her but not yet divorced, if he wanted to date every stripper at the strip club, or all the waitresses at Hooters, he would be free to. I’m not keeping the home fires burning for him. I’m not leaving the light on. That shit has been shut down already. Him no longer screwing Harley does not mean I suddenly want the job back. Nope. That door is closed. Forever.
I suppose for some people both parts- the religious and the legal- need to be there. At one point in my life I thought I would need both. Then I tried to extricate myself from an entitled, self-important, lying, cheating, perpetual victim who was doing his best to get a PTSD diagnosis so he could avoid spousal and child support. Turns out I quite like the above poster’s explanation. Jerry Lee killed our marriage with his lies and cheating. I just refused to let him keep me from living while I fought like hell to get what my kids and I deserved.