A little while ago I wrote about my feelings of cognitive dissonance and how I felt like a huge hypocrite. I’m pretty much over that now.
It was shortly after writing that Chump Lady published a letter from a woman who was divorcing her lying, cheating husband. He had cheated many, many times throughout their marriage. The final straw was when she got a call from yet another OW while she was grieving the loss of her pregnancy. She packed her bags and moved away from the area, away from him, and was starting a cheater-free life. After a year of being a hermit (and almost 2 years after her final DDay) she had met someone, they clicked, and ultimately, she ended up pregnant. While there were a few people who tsk tsk’d the fact that she was still legally married and wanted to throw out the ol’, “You’re no better than your cheating husband; you’re cheating on him, too!” most people were incredibly kind and supportive. Some of the things that I read that really stuck with me were the following comments:
It is true that in many states (including mine), having sex with someone before you are legally divorced counts as infidelity. But my state also bans the Encyclopedia Britannica because it contains a recipe for making beer at home. So let’s take laws at face value.
The bigger issue is whether it is morally acceptable to have physical intimacy with someone before one is divorced. As long as the divorce is underway, the two people are living separately, and are not taking actions to reconcile (e.g., in active marriage counseling), that marriage is over, and both people are free to date IMHO.
Many of these narcs drag out divorce for YEARS, even after having wasted decades of our lives. Should chumps chastely sit home waiting for the cheater to FINALLY disclose his or her financials? Or hire a third lawyer because his/her first two lawyers grew weary of the delays and obfuscation? I know a man who, even after settlement obtained in an early October court trial, was not divorced by late December because the STBX refused to sign the decree to which she and her lawyer had approved months earlier. He had been out of the house and NC for 1.5 years.
Chumps waste a lot of time before gaining a new life out of concern for the cheater, whilst the cheater wasted no time boinking strange after the wedding vows. It behooves us not to rush into a relationship before our grief has ended, but I don’t think we should stall our lives again, nor allow the post-filing manipulations of cheaters to continue to control us.
And if the divorce takes 3 years, do you watch your life go by and live virtuously alone? What if you do actually want children (I understand this pregnancy was unplanned)? Must you wait until the courts say it’s okay, no matter how long that takes and no matter how obstructive your ex may choose to be?
Why allow this cheater and his manipulations to cause any more lasting damage? Why does the pace of a divorce, which he can control, allow him to keep her from ever having a child? Hell to the no!
To my mind, when there are no secrets, there is no obligation. It is all aboveboard. Cheater does NOT get to determine her life choices for one more nanosecond! The minute he broke his vows, he released her from the terms of her sentence.
All those comments boiled down to one theme: Why let the cheater waste one more minute of your life?
I spent a good 10 months wanting to die, thinking that life was never going to get any better. I was alone for almost 2 years after DDay and when I did find someone it wasn’t because I was out actively looking. My legally wedded husband had been living with another woman in another state approximately six hours away for well over a year before I met the mobster. When he lost his job and destroyed our lives I knew nothing about what was going on; Harley, however, was in the loop, playing the dutiful fiancee. The legal wife sat at home, stunned and wondering what the hell was going on.
That doesn’t even touch on Virginia’s archaic divorce laws which basically say you must be physically separated for a year and a day before you can file for divorce, but my “husband” is legally allowed to cut me off financially. He was allowed to buy an engagement ring for the whore and puppies for her kids and blow all kinds of marital assets on his cunt face cum dumpster because hey, we’re living physically separate lives. But, don’t have sex with anyone else if you want spousal support. And, as the mobster has experienced, if the cheating spouse wants to come on inside your house, the one they abandoned, and grab a few things or just look around, they can still claim marital assets and marital residence.
Prior to DDay I had spent many years with a man who was never happy. He was drinking more and more. I really believe that Blockhead telling him about my Facebook page was what sent him spiraling out of control. He couldn’t go anywhere with us. He cried constantly. He wanted to shut himself upstairs in the bedroom. It was horrible. Even before then he rarely did things with us.
The kids and I vacationed without him; we went on outings without him. I handled the day to day care of them pretty much without him. We didn’t do date nights. After all, as he asked me once when I suggested it, “Why would you want to do that with me?” We spent very little time together.
I am completely good when it comes to my decision to date before I was legally divorced. I didn’t rush it. I didn’t look for it. I certainly didn’t lie to and deceive CF in order to do so. Once again I will point out that he lived in another state hundreds of miles away with another woman.
I am also good with my decision to date the mobster even though he is still legally married. I read his blog. I know it was over. I know he filed for divorce before we ever knew the other existed. He filed because he was done. Period. Not because I was sitting there, batting my eyes at him. Not because he thought the grass would be greener over here with me. No, he didn’t know me. He was done because he could no longer tolerate her behavior.
I don’t believe I would have ever agreed to text if he had still been living with her. I’m not sure I would have agreed to it if he hadn’t already taken steps to end the marriage.
I don’t shout it from the rooftops that he’s married, but I also don’t feel I’m doing anything wrong. He wasn’t (and isn’t) sneaking around behind her back. He wasn’t lying to her or siphoning off marital funds to give to me. She, like my husband, had moved out of their home and in with her boyfriend. There was no marriage left to preserve.
As the commenters from Chump Lady ask: How much more of our lives are we supposed to allow them to waste? Why are we expected to uphold vows that mean nothing to them? Why are we supposed to sit on the sidelines, alone and broken hearted, while they run around with their new plaything, safe in the knowledge that we’re chastely waiting for them to return to the ruins of our marriage? Why are we expected to handle the day to day running of life and pick up the pieces of all the lives the cheater has ruined, alone, halo all shiny and straight, while the cheater makes a new life with someone else? Are we masochists? Martyrs?
I know there are people out there for whom it is extremely important to be able to say they didn’t date until the ink was dry on the divorce decree. Good for you. I used to be one of you. I also know there are people out there who would criticize people who did wait but began dating immediately after the divorce was granted, because hey, you didn’t wait long enough. Why aren’t you mourning? Why aren’t you concentrating on something else besides dating? There are definitely people out there who would get the vapors at the thought of someone dating a person who was not yet divorced. Where is your decency? Do you not value the sanctity of marriage? Furthermore, I have no doubt that CF and all those who run with him are calling me all sorts of names and convincing themselves that what I’m doing is no different than what he and Harley did. Eh- I’m over it. I really don’t care. I know the truth.
I don’t need a shiny halo either. After reading so many stories for years and years I’m beginning to think that the only thing keeping your halo shiny does is make you feel good about yourself. It doesn’t lend itself to a better outcome. Usually you end up putting up with copious amounts of shit while the cheater merrily skips along his or her cheating way, leaving a wake of destruction behind. But you can pat yourself on the back and tell yourself that you did things the right way. Turns out, I don’t need an untarnished halo to feel good about myself.
Much like I get no personal satisfaction from putting chairs together, or doing yard work, I also don’t get a great sense of satisfaction from being able to say, “I followed the rules precisely at all times.” That’s actually pretty funny considering the fact that if you asked anyone who knows me well they would tell you that I am a rule follower.
Years ago I would have said you shouldn’t date until you’re divorced. Of course, it’s one thing to make life rules for yourself when you think you’ll never be in that situation. You can safely judge from the sidelines. Honestly, had my divorce not taken more than two years I wouldn’t have dated before I got divorced. Unfortunately, little things like being forced to move out of my house and sell off all of my stuff (or leave it behind), finding out my husband was in the psych ward again (or so I thought), being forced to get a job and then two jobs, working 16 hour days and 20+ days at a stretch, feeling like a horrible mom because I wasn’t around for my kids anymore, wondering every day if he was going to get away with everything, having to procure an expert witness because my husband was claiming PTSD to get out of paying sufficient child and spousal support, paying out the ass for lawyer fees, and dreading every day I woke up, ended up taking precedence.
I lived in a state that required me to be separated from him for a year. Two months before I could file he went off the deep end and lost his job. I had no idea what kind of a settlement I could expect when he wasn’t even working. Truthfully, I think him getting a job and still not paying his modified amount of support for more than six months ultimately ended up working in my favor. I would have just been seen as a horrible, unsympathetic bitch if I had taken him to court when he had just lost his job and been hospitalized. I thought he was back in the psych ward. I thought he had had a nervous breakdown or could make an excellent case for PTSD because of his latest hospital stay. I wouldn’t find out for six months that he wasn’t suicidal or that it had nothing to do with PTSD. Only when I took him back to court for a show-cause hearing did I find out the truth- that he had been repeatedly drinking on the job and he had been forced to resign. And he had not entered a psych ward; he had gone to the VA and done a mere three day in-patient program. The rest of his time was spent in outpatient therapy and he didn’t even always attend those.
The mobster can say pretty much the same. He forgave her for her previous affair. He endured years and years of her drinking and lying about it. He put up with a lot of shit in order to keep his marriage intact and to give his kids a home with two parents. He suffered through a lot of humiliation in order to keep her happy and to make things work. Finally, she took up with yet another affair partner and eventually left him for that guy. But not before she introduced him as “a friend”. Not before the guy invited him up to join their volunteer firefighter department. Not before the guy gave the mobster’s daughter a ride on his motorcycle. Not before he got to watch his wife ride on the big, shiny firetruck with her “friend” in the Christmas parade. Not before she disappeared for days at a time. The mindfuck was strong with that one.
She made her decision and she doesn’t get to whine about him getting on with his own life. He is not an indentured servant. He does not have to sit faithfully waiting for her to return.
There has been a moment or two where I started to really feel like I was interfering and that if I wasn’t in the picture maybe they would reconcile. It wasn’t often and it’s non-existent now, but when those moments would come he would tell me pretty much the same thing: I am never going back to her. If you left me tomorrow I still wouldn’t go back to her. I am done with her. She is crazy. She is toxic.
He also reiterates that his kids don’t want them together. His oldest son told him when it first happened, “Dad, it’s been over for a long time. You just finally called it.”
Finally, he is very wise. The last time I brought it up he pointed out that despite what she says when she hoovers around, it doesn’t mean anything to her. If she really wanted him back she would take steps towards that, steps like ending it with the other man. Instead it is all talk and absolutely no follow through. She will tell him she will call him the next day, and she doesn’t. She will say she wants to talk but she won’t follow through. She tells him she misses his voice and yet, she’s still with her lover. She’s never made an actual move to go back to him. She merely dips the hook in the water to see if he will still take the bait. If he ever called her bluff and said, “Oh my God yes! I’m still crazy about you! I realize now how much I miss you and I will do anything to make it work!” she would have endless excuses for why now wasn’t the right time and why she couldn’t extricate herself from her relationship with her boyfriend in order to rekindle her relationship with her husband. She doesn’t want him; she just wants him to want her. She wants to keep her Plan B around in case the new boyfriend doesn’t work out.
He, too, lives in a state that requires a one year waiting period. Unlike me, he tried to do an online divorce and get things rolling (again- before we ever met). She refused to sign the papers. She refused to tell him what she wanted. She refused to discuss the divorce with him. Unfortunately for him, the online lawyer he hired only did uncontested divorces, so if she wouldn’t cooperate nothing would happen.
Approximately four months ago she informed him that she had a lawyer and she would be serving him with a divorce petition. They’ve never arrived. Around that same time she made a big show of calling him and yelling at him, telling him she wanted the house she had deserted, and custody of their daughter, a child she abandoned. Nothing has happened since except her continuing to come inside his house and randomly grab things. Sometimes those things were dishes or sentimental items. Another time she came in just to take a light plate. Other times she has taken things like the TV he bought his daughter for Easter. Yep, she took it right out of her kid’s room, and then had the audacity to say, “Did you see me take it? Did you see me walk out of the house with it?” That same day she took the blender he bought after she had already taken the one that was bought while they were married. Also found in her possession? Her son’s baseball mitt.
I can understand those who might think I wouldn’t want to involve myself in the middle of all that crazy, but I don’t understand people thinking that he needs to be faithful to that kind of crazy. She’s a horrible, despicable person. She steals from her own children. There is nothing to work with here, and I don’t think he should be coerced into trying.
With all that said I still think there are situations where you shouldn’t date. If you’re leading your spouse to believe that there is a chance your marriage can be repaired, you shouldn’t be dating. If you’re in marriage counseling you shouldn’t be dating. If you’re still living with your spouse, you shouldn’t be dating. When you’re telling your spouse you love him or her and you just need some time to think, you shouldn’t be dating. Basically, any time you’re going through anything even resembling reconciliation I would say you shouldn’t be dating. I would even say that in a situation where you want out and there’s no one else, but your spouse is desperate to repair the marriage, you shouldn’t date. You leave your spouse for another person? Well, “dating” is a foregone conclusion although you shouldn’t. But if you’re the one being cheated on? Honey, you do you!
If you don’t want to give your cheater the satisfaction of saying, “He/she is dating, too! See! I’m not doing anything wrong,” then by all means stay single. I think you can live a very satisfying life without being coupled up.
I, personally, don’t need that kind of validation. I’ve come to the conclusion it wouldn’t have mattered what I did in my situation. I would always be the bad guy. And really, I’d much rather he be pissed off because I’m seeing someone, than for him and Harley to be laughing about how pitiful I am, all alone while I work two jobs. He’s going to hate me regardless so let’s give him something worth hating. I find that to be much more satisfying.
Quite honestly I feel like all of the above is way too much explanation for what I’m feeling now. I’m good with what I’m doing. I’ve done nothing wrong. I didn’t lie and sneak around to be with the mobster; he didn’t lie and sneak around to be with me. I was married in name only; I can say the same thing about the mobster. I didn’t destroy their marriage; he didn’t destroy mine. Our spouses did that all on their own when they cheated on us and then left us to be with their affair partners. The only thing we’re guilty of is not letting them steal another minute of our lives. My conscience is clear.