How to Tell the Difference and Why It’s Important to Know the Difference.

Sarah P.

serial cheater


Some men never stop looking for the affair – they are serial cheaters whose affairs have nothing to do with relatedness to another, intimacy, sharing, pain or silence–They connect as conquest to bolster a well hidden but fragile ego. Over 60% of men who have an extramarital affair, however, say they never seriously imagined themselves doing it until it actually happened.”  — Dr. Suzanne Phillips, PsyD. (1)

The old adage goes: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.  But when it comes to infidelity, it is never that simple. Infidelity can make the ultimate fool out of a loyal and trusting wife (or husband).

And you know the feeling – – perhaps you have already invested 20, 30 or even as much as 50 years in your marriage and suddenly you find out that your husband had an affair. Are you going to throw everything away because of a momentary, er, prolonged lapse of reason on his part?

You are trying to rebuild because it’s just not worth it to throw it all away. But there is a daily nagging feeling that your husband might do it again. Maybe he might do it again with the same woman or with different women.

You have a terrible feeling that your husband is not telling you the whole truth. He might tell you daily that he gave up his mistress and that he really felt nothing for her; but a feeling inside of you tells you that he still could be seeing her for lunch in secret.

You want this time to be the last. You want to ensure that he has given up the other woman, that he will not return to her, and that he won’t make such a stupid and life-shattering decision again.

The pain with D-Day was so great that you cannot imagine going through it again and again. You know how important his continued fidelity is because it not only reflects the recovery process, but also the long-term health of you and your marriage.

I would like to tell you that I have a crystal ball where I can look into the future and give you 100% surety that he will not do it again. But, I can’t do that because even he cannot guarantee himself that he will never do it again, even if he swears to himself he won’t cheat again.


Past Behaviors Can Predict Future Behaviors

But there is good news because future behaviors are all about probabilities. Stephen Covey, in his book “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” remarks that people’s future behaviors can be predicted by their past behaviors. So, whether you can rebuild for the long term depends on the type of cheater that you are with.

It is imperative to be able to tell the difference between a man who cheated and probably never will again and a serial cheater. This is important so that you can make an informed decision.

If you are with a cheater who can be reformed, you can go on with your life with him and rebuild your marriage. But, if you are with a serial cheater, there is a pretty high chance your marriage will be one of continued drama and trauma.

But here is the kicker…

Until your husband is completely out of the affair fog, you will not be able to tell what kind of cheater you are with.

Both types of cheaters are going to display the same exact kind of behaviors when they are in the affair fog. If they are still in the affair fog, they will act erratically, they change their minds almost hourly about both you and the mistress, they will seem like a Jekyll and Hyde type, and they will have a lot of narcissistic traits. They also may indulge in drinking or other substances more than usual. But the worst part is, when they are in the affair fog, you usually no longer recognize them as your husband. Where did your prince charming go?

I categorize cheating husbands into two main categories based on whether or not they are a good bet for your future. I call one group the Reverse Prince Charmings and the other group of cheaters the Fallen Prince Charmings.

These descriptive names pretty much say it all: Reverse Prince Charming (RPC) is basically the guy who puts his car in reverse and drives off to meet the needs of any woman but his wife. Fallen Prince Charming (FPC) is the average good guy who falls off his white horse, but who is poised to get back up and head home to make things work at the castle.

That’s all well and good, but the issue is that sometimes it is very difficult to tell the difference. After all, both Reverse Prince Charming and Fallen Prince Charming usually say the exact same things, whether they are in or out of the affair fog.

While both types are in the affair fog, they say nasty things, they lie, and they act distant and sometimes even behave as if they could leave at any moment. When they are out of the affair fog, they both show remorse, plead for you to stay, and sometimes make you feel like you are the only woman on earth.

Fallen Prince Charming is sincere in his protestations of love and remorse while Reverse Prince Charming has a selfish agenda and says the right things as a manipulation tactic. Fallen Prince Charming wants to genuinely patch things up; Reverse Prince Charming puts on a show because of a number of self-serving motives. Fallen Prince Charming wants his marriage to work, while Reverse Prince Charming just wants to have his cake and eat it too.

Reverse Prince Charming’s motive is to provide the illusion of making his marriage work. The biggest problem with Reverse Prince Charming is that he doesn’t want to lose his wife, but he doesn’t want to lose his mistress either. So, he tells each woman what each of them want to hear and does everything to make his wife believe that he has turned over a new leaf.

Reverse Prince Charming is very scary indeed and if you are married to one, it is best to cut him loose. Reverse Prince Charming is the ultimate wolf in sheep’s clothing and (perish the thought) sometimes he appears to be a better sheep than the actual sheep themselves.

I have put together a list of behaviors for both men that you can use as a comparison for the future. Of course, this list is valid only after the affair fog has melted away.

See also  12 Top Infidelity Questions Answered


serial cheater


So what is a girl to do?

In deciding what to do, probabilities are everything. As I mentioned earlier, Stephen Covey says that past behavior is indicative of future behavior. If your husband has done something many times in the past, there is a high probability that he will do it in the future.

For example, if he has spent many Sundays for the past 10 years playing golf, there is a high probability that in the coming years he will spend many more Sundays playing golf. He has made playing golf on Sundays a habit and so golf will be a hard habit to break.

It turns out habits are hard-wired because as we repeat an action, neural pathways in our brains get made to reinforce the action. This is why trying to change a habit with sheer willpower can be hard. Habits must be replaced with concrete, repeatable actions in order to replace them. Old neural pathways need to be trimmed back and new ones formed.

You can use habits and behaviors as a clue to your husband’s future. You need to figure out if physical affairs are the norm for your husband.

Here are some cases or personality issues where affairs could be or at least become a norm for your husband:

  • closet sex addiction
  • pathological narcissism or psychopathology
  • substance addiction
  • early life trauma
  • coming from a family where the father had known affairs

Here I would like to separate out physical affairs and emotional affairs. I believe emotional affairs are far more common than any of us might believe because they can masquerade as friendship. I also believe that many men (and women) can easily fall into emotional affairs.

Everyone experiences unmet needs and how a person reacts to that experience can predict whether or not they can easily fall into an emotional affair. We all have needs for validation from others. Most people look to their spouses for validation, as they should. A spouse should be our number one champion and in our corner at all times. But, what happens when a person’s need for validation is so great that it exceeds what a spouse can give? A person can use it as a growing opportunity and learn to meet his or her emotional needs in healthy ways. Or, a spouse can intentionally put himself in situations where he can be adored by other women and receive validation from them.

But, to clarify, I think everyone more or less experiences validation from others as a positive experience. The difference is that people with a healthy sense of self do not actively seek it out and do not engage in relationships just for the sake of validation.

People with a healthy sense of self do not need constant validation from those other than their spouse. In fact, people with a healthy sense of self won’t feel abandoned when their spouse is not able to provide constant validation. But, for those who need constant adoration and validation, they will seek it out. Otherwise, they might feel like an empty shell or even feel abandoned.


A Personal Example

I learned that hard lesson from my ex-fiancé. He was very out-going and loved to flirt. He loved having female friends and constant attention. I was in my 20’s and thought this was just immaturity or a phase. He had been the guy in high school who couldn’t get a date with even the ugliest girl and was probably making up for lost time.

By the time I had met him, his braces had come off, his acne had been long gone, had a thick head of dark hair, his glasses were replaced with contacts, he had gotten an MBA and lived in Paris, and he had been working out so he was 6’2’ with a long, lean swimmer’s body. He was obviously making up for lost time.

I remember going to his 10-year high school reunion with him. There was a woman there who had been the blond that every boy idolized during high school. She was still extremely attractive and sassy. She did not recognize my (now ex) fiancé and she flirted shamelessly with him.

There was one funny thing…The blond believed that I was the high school homecoming queen (and her main rival) from her graduating class. Since the real one was not there and I did not have a nametag, my fiancé ran with it and so did his friends. I just sat there and kept quiet because I didn’t even understand at first that she thought I was her former rival. But, then something interesting happened. When the blond thought I was her high school rival, this made her flirt with my fiancé even more.

The fact that the (alleged) homecoming queen had pre-selected him made him all the more valuable in her eyes. Some women really like men who other women have selected. This is why some men get more attention while wearing a wedding ring. Another woman has given her stamp of approval and the more attractive the wife, the higher status the man is in another woman’s eyes. For insecure women, they get quite a kick out of stealing a man with an attractive wife.*  

So, the blond really laid her admiration for my fiancé on thick. The most important part was that he got absolutely high off the ego boost she gave him. Here was the one unattainable woman from high school who, at the time, didn’t even know he was alive. Now, she was approaching him and flirting with him and even upping the ante once she thought her former rival was attached to him.

At the time, I was very supportive of him getting an ego boost from the flirtation. I too was the girl in high school who, still in her awkward, ugly-duckling phase, couldn’t get a date either. So, I was happy that he was receiving validation from someone who never knew he existed prior to that moment. At the time, I felt like it was a victory for all of us high school ugly ducklings and late bloomers.

Looking back now, I see that my ex-fiancé let all of the newfound attention go to his head. In fact, he had started getting a lot of notice well before he met me. At the time, I figured that it was a phase that he would outgrow. I believed that since he had professed his moral values, he would never cheat.

If I had been looking for the signs at the time, I would have realized that his need for constant, external validation had become a habit and even borderline addiction for him. At the time, I did not realize that this kind of thing easily leads to emotional affairs and where there is an emotional affair, a physical affair might not be too far off.

See also  We Were Just Like Roommates During the Emotional Affair

But, no, at the time, I was a self-professed feminist and not a petty, jealous girlfriend. I could handle his flirtation because I was a ‘big girl’ and I was ‘above all of that’. I reasoned that I should feel proud of him and glad for him since he was now getting positive attention from others.

Well, he too easily ran with it and broke up with me for someone who wanted to move into our mutually owned home. (That’s another long story). On the other hand, as men get older, I do believe that they can temper their need for attention with maturity. (Although, I don’t know if he was ever able to temper it.) Considering he did marry the other woman, I am guessing she got what she deserved in him.


serial cheater

Reverse Prince Charming

Now, I want to show you an example of what I think is certainly a Reverse Prince Charming. I scoured the internet and chat boards to find comments from men who have cheated. Here is what one anonymous RPC says about himself:

I’m that guy…the married one. I’m the one who is in the affair with a beautiful woman who has been trying to get out of this relationship. She’s in love and we have been seeing each other for four years. I have done this many times with other women, but I have no intention of leaving my wife. My wife knows about the two affairs that I have admitted to. I tell the other woman that she is being used for everything I am not getting at home. These other women are my fantasy, my sexual fantasy, my ego booster when I go out. They may be smart, have a great job, but there is something about them that just doesn’t meet up to the standards of my wife. Most men do not upgrade great sex to wife…. How long can two dishonest people maintain a healthy relationship? The other woman wants more time and I give them just enough to keep them there. I say what they want to hear just to keep them close.” – Anon

It’s easy to see why I put this fellow in the Reverse Prince Charming category. He has a long history of infidelity, he has no intention of leaving his wife and also no intention of leaving his mistress, and he knows exactly what he is doing, yet he feels no remorse.

Unfortunately, would a fellow like this tell his wife everything? Absolutely not. So, the wife’s best defense would be to get as much information about him to see what he is up to in whatever way she can.

I would also venture to guess that this fellow is not trustworthy in other aspects of his life. He would probably make a bad business partner or even friend to other men since through his behavior he has established that people are there for his use.

On the other hand, for people who have a history of affairs, I like to believe that it’s not completely about sex even if it appears to be.

The affair becomes a mechanism for acting out just as drinking too much becomes a mechanism for acting out some kind of inner pain, struggle, stress, emptiness, or even anger. A workaholic could use work as the mechanism for acting out, but there is a much deeper issue within that individual.

Just as some women wouldn’t feel a deep betrayal if there has been had another drink, this type of affair doesn’t have to instill the same sense of betrayal in you. In all affairs a mistress is an object for use, but in this type of affair the mistress is no better than a toothbrush or other grooming object. Does that mean you should stay? NO. But, it does put the almost impersonal nature of the affair into perspective.

Finally, there are some Reverse Prince Charming’s who fall into the category of being pathological narcissists or psychopaths. These folks are in the minority and yet they do so much harm to society. Most importantly, there is no working it through with personality-disordered men. So, if you find out you have one, it might be best to leave.


Feeling guilty

Fallen Prince Charming

In the prior section, we saw that the two factors that stood out for a Reverse Prince Charming was that he had a history of infidelity and he had no desire to stop having affairs. His behavior is marked by abject selfishness and he would make for a poor partner even without affairs.

In contrast, let’s see what a Fallen Prince Charming has to say:

As I talk [about it] my heart sinks deeper into the shame and dishonor that permeates my very skin. I feel like such a piece of garbage. No amount of physical pleasure or mental stimulation will compensate for the ridiculousness of my behavior. I mean, I was gallivanting around like a 17-year-old with a perpetual [desire], thinking others couldn’t see what I was doing, and how I was acting. I’m just an idiot.” (2)

I believe that this fellow fits into the category of a Fallen Prince Charming for several reasons. The first is that he does not mention having several affairs—his focus is obviously on one large affair. He also feels tremendous remorse for what he has done. He also feels the requisite shame of such an encounter. Finally, he has insight into the idea that no matter how fun at was at the time, it obviously did not excuse his behavior.


The Most Pathetic Part of All

I think in every affair lays the potential for tremendous tragedy. I am talking about the kind of tragedy that we see in epic, ancient Greek dramas—the kind where families are ruined and this ruin extends for generations to come. The protagonist in such a drama is always left with the painful insight and the understanding all that has occurred at his own hand, yet, for many reasons is powerless to change anything. The deeds have been done and the consequences meated out—nothing can be undone no matter how many tears of anguish are shed and no matter how much regret weighs heavily on the heart.

I think the most wretched type of affair is when a man wakes up to his actions too late. This type of man may have long since left his wife, married his mistress, and then in the future comes to realize exactly what he has lost and what he has done.  He has left a legacy of innocent victims in his wake, his children are estranged, his ex-wife has long since forgotten him and possibly remarried.

See also  Random Thoughts on Emotional Affairs

I believe that this type of hell is probably worse than any kind of fire and brimstone of which the Old Testament speaks. For this is a very personal type of hell and one knows exactly what one has done and has to live with the consequences.

My wish is that all men who have affairs could be given a crystal ball so they could see that kind of future where all of the embers of romance have long since burned out and there is even no cold comfort for him. For, he has missed out on his children’s lives, he has broken both a material and spiritual bond with the woman he promised to stand by, and he is no longer a young man able to look forward to a future. All he is left with is what he has done and how he has lived his life.

I think in the end, a man’s ultimate betrayal is to himself. In the end, when a man has an affair, he must live with what he did for the rest of his life. There are no do-overs for past mistakes, there is only forgiveness. But even forgiveness does not undo the act itself.


emotional affair

Can You Make It Work for the Long Term?

Well, it all depends on what you are willing to live with. Whether or not you choose to stay, you need to reach a point where you engage in radical acceptance.

Radical acceptance actually helps you come to peace with the situation. The fact is, we cannot change another, no matter how hard we try. In fact, when we expect something of someone that he is not capable of, this causes us pain each time he fails.

For example, most husbands will participate in exhausting mental acrobatics to downplay the affair. Other times, they will lie. But, liars are usually caught and each time they are caught in a lie, they cause pain and disappointment to another. But, it does not have to be that way. Karyn Hall, PhD says:

Accepting reality is difficult when life is painful. No one wants to experience pain, disappointment, sadness or loss. But those experiences are a part of life. When you attempt to avoid or resist those emotions, you add suffering to your pain. You may build the emotion bigger with your thoughts or create more misery by attempting to avoid the painful emotions. You can stop suffering by practicing acceptance. Acceptance means you can begin to heal. Resisting reality delays healing and adds suffering to your pain. When you practice acceptance everyday, you may be more prepared when the most difficult experiences in life occur.” (3)

Acceptance gives an alternative even when living in a situation that will not change. There is no rule that says you need to divorce a cheating husband and also no rule that says you need to stay.**  It is all up to you and what your gut tells you is best. You must ultimately be true to yourself.

However, if you choose to stay, accepting that you will be lied to and refusing to expect more than your husband is capable of brings a sense of equilibrium. That is, acceptance allows you to remain balanced each time you catch your husband in a lie or otherwise.

So, no matter what you choose, acceptance of your husband’s continued flaws is the key. You can stay or you can go, but accept what your husband is able to give and accept what he is not able to give.

This will help you tremendously whether you are living with Reverse Prince Charming or Fallen Prince Charming. Finally, remember that past behavior is indicative of future behavior, so that is the best bet you have in terms of a crystal ball.



*Let me define what it means to be attractive. Beauty is ageless, beauty does not belong to one race or type of woman, beauty is not the sole domain of thin women. It does not matter if a woman is 25 years old or 85 years old– an attractive woman is well-groomed and holds herself with dignity. She has a beauty that is found within and shows through her eyes and smile. But, I like this definition of beauty that has been attributed to the late and great Audrey Hepburn:

Recipe For Beauty

“For attractive lips, speak words of kindness. 

For lovely eyes, seek out the good in people. 

For a slim figure, share your food with the hungry. 

For beautiful hair, let a child run his/her fingers through it once a day. 

For poise, walk with the knowledge that you never walk alone. 

People, even more than things, have to be restored, renewed, revived, reclaimed and redeemed: never throw anyone out. As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands; one for helping yourself and the other for helping others.”

**There is a caveat to the idea that there is no rule that you should stay in a marriage or leave a marriage. The caveat here is physical abuse. When a man is severely physically abusive, even if he does it occasionally, this is a situation where a woman must leave. This becomes doubly true if children are involved.

I remember working with a woman in my former profession whom, when she was 6 months pregnant, had her husband push her down the stairs. She went flying and it is a miracle she did not lose the baby. Like all abusers, there was nothing she did to provoke him and she was caught completely off guard. She was no stranger to the occasional unprovoked slap or punch in the face.  This is what I am referring to when I talk about physical abuse.

She did not leave because when the man was in the honeymoon (romance) phase of the cycle of abuse, he was full of love, promises to change, gifts, compliments, passion for her, etc. When a man participates in repeated cycles of physical abuse like this, there is no end to the cycle until a woman leaves. It is really a tragic situation for all involved, especially since it is so difficult for a woman to get out for good.





    99 replies to "A Tale of Two Cheaters: Are You Married to a Reverse Prince Charming or a Fallen Prince Charming?"

    • TheFirstWife

      I think when you find out your spouse has cheated you wonder how many times it acually happened or how many times things were close to happening but didn’t progress beyond flirting.

      Makes you see your spouse in an entirely different way.

      I remember being upset that my H was trying to hide his affairs from family & friends. And then he admitted to me he told one of his friends from grad school. Of course it was a woman, gorgeous, much younger etc. it upset me b/c it appeared to me that he was trying to appear like he was a sensitive caring guy and taking responsibility etc. boy was I furious.

      In my opinion he was only telling her b/c there was an advantage. Or she was another “good friend” he crossed the boundary lines with. In any event I was furious and it appeared once again that he just did not get it. He was open and honest for years with everyone but me!!

      I seriously wonder how many EAs he had that I did not know about. And possibly PAs as well. I sometimes wonder if his last PA was so challenging b/c he had feelings for her.

      I just hate being in that stereotypical “my wife doesn’t understand me” or “I’m just not happy” marriage. Great to know how your spouse can just humiliate you over and over again.

      Great to realize how you were really thought of. Yes this is what affairs and cheating and sexting and inappropriate texts leaves behind.

      A mess.

    • Hopeful

      All so true. The fog is so real even after dday. My husband still does not remember things he said before and after dday. Most in self preservation mode or just to make himself feel less guilt and shame.

      What is interesting is I see both of these types in my husband. I always thought I was the insecure one, the less confident one. But I was so wrong. All along he was the one lacking, so insecure, so needy, so immature, selfish. And the worst thing is he was so good at manipulating and lying. There is sadness for me in all of this but actually freedom. The best part of dday for me is the realization of what was. It was nothing like I thought. I listened to my husband and his narrative all those years. It is hard to think about lost time and being used but all I can do is celebrate today. I cannot undo the past. No matter what happens I am sure of who I am and always honest and true.

      • TheFirstWife

        So true everything you said. My H actually admitted some of his behavior was egotistical. When I was in his face telling him the EA he had going on 20 years ago he admitted he kept it going b/c I was not going to tell him who he could be friends with.

        And now I am strong and confident. This challenge in life showed me who I really am. And what I can manage.

    • Sarah P.

      Hello the First Wife and Hopeful,

      I know it’s been repeated many times, but both of your stories prove that it is not about anything either of you did or could have done. TFW that’s a crazy story about your H calling a younger grad school friend and telling him about the affair. I believe your analysis is 100% correct– he was doing it come off as the sensitive guy to her and also to plant a seed. But I am really glad to know that you are standing strong. Hopeful and TFW- What are the rules in place with your H’s to ensure they clean up their act?

      • TheFirstWife

        The question about cleaning up their act – I could write a book on that.

        My H now sends me his travel plans and hotel reservations and tells me about delays etc. why? B/c he came home from a business trip one day early to spend the night w/ the OW. (The OW told me that). When I saw the Amex bill with his flight on the bill it was true.

        He lets me know things about his schedule voluntarily. After 25 years of little or no info.

        However I learned in the 3 years of aftermath that my biggest mistakes were trying to get to the truth, trying to control things so he wouldn’t cheat again (and he did), trying to make him happy instead of me and just putting more emphasis on the marriage and him.

        Waste of time. I learned after too many frustrating and anguish filled days the CS is most likely not going to be completely honest and will continue to lie to cover their butts. I felt like a damn trial attorney with the “but two days ago you said this and now you are saying that – which is the truth?”

        After 33 years with this person I thought was so honest and sincere and an upstanding guy, I honestly don’t know who or what I have married. Is he the Fallen Prince or Reverse Prince? Some days I have no clue.

        So I have no rules at this point. If he wants me he knows what to do. How to behave. Right from wrong. If he wants to be a liar and cheater for the rest of his life, that is his choice. But if I find out then it is my choice on my next step.

        Once I adopted this attitude I felt so much better. Less stress, no worries, not obsessed with tracking him down or is he where he says he is behavior. I have moved past it b/c it hurt me more than anyone.

        We had an argument in 4/1 about how much he had to drink while out with family and friends that night. I could smell the alcohol from across the room. He did not appear drunk but that doesn’t mean your blood alcohol is over the legal limit and he drove home that night. He says two beers. I said not buying it.

        Without going into all the details I was curious he lied. He says 2 beers. That is it. I finally told him that I am not his mother and if he wants to go and drink to please not drive. But I am not going to control you. You are an adult. But I cannot tolerate that behavior either. It is now his choice. But I was more upset about the lie. And he swears he is not lying. Impasse.

        So I am creating a life for me. Making sure I sm happy. He can come along or not. Up to him. But he is no longer my #1 concern.

        It is sad when the light behind to dawn and you see things for what they really were, not how you thought they were. My H has always treated me well so I never would have suspected unhappiness or affairs.

        So who did I really marry? Not so sure. And now I trust even fewer people.

        • Sarah P

          I know what you mean about the trust issue. After my fiancé and I broke up, several things that had occurred during our relationship came into clear view for me in terms of his cheating. For example, he had a lot of female friends. When we live together he had this girl from France come and stay with us. He had always told me that it was platonic and that she was not even his type. ( note to everyone, men don’t actually have a type and this was proved by the women he cheated with). This French girl was also engaged to someone that he knew so I figured it was totally safe for her to stay with us. She was very outgoing, spoke English brilliantly, and really took a liking to me and I figured she could be a friend. Since I trusted them, there were several times when I would go out on grocery store runs or take out runs for us. They would stay alone at the house together. Stupid me, I thought everyone was trustworthy just like myself. Anyhow, each time I would come back, both of them haf just gotten out of the shower. Now, we had two showers and so I assumed they simply want to take showers in 2 separate bathrooms at the same time. They both kind of acted sheepishly when I would return, but in my mind I thought nobody could actually stoop that low. Because, after all, she had befriended me and acted like she wanted to help me make my relationship with him work. After all, she was engaged, and besides she was not even his type! But, having the knowledge of 2020 hindsight, I now know that they were probably having fun in the shower together. I seriously believed that she was my friend. There was another time towards the very end of our relationship when she was calling him on the phone and asking me and him and her and her fiancé to travel for 2 weeks together. Normally I totally would have made the trip happen but I remember getting irritated and telling him we wouldn’t be going. My intuition was screaming “foul” but I still couldn’t believe it. And she wasn’t even the woman he had been cheating with regularly, who lo and behold, also was not his type!! So, I think when cheaters are married to those who have ironclad integrity, they can easily fool their spouses. Because, in my universe there’s no way I would mess around with a guy who even had a girlfriend. In my universe I would not befriend another woman’s fiancé and then get dirty with him in the shower while she was gone. It would be easier for me to take a trip to Mars down to go after a man who was taken. I am speaking in the context if I were single. One day recently my husband admitted to me that his very worst nightmare in life would be to be married to a woman who cheated. He knows his mind well and says that he would so upset over it so much it would likely destroy him. He also said one of the reasons it was so easy to get married to me was because he could tell I am the type that would never betray him. And he is right. Knock on wood he can return the same level of integrity over the long haul. He is nearing midlife crisis or age but not there yet. We are both not that young but not enough to still look very youthful. I often wonder what will happen in my post menopausal years when I can’t maintain the youthful look any longer. Hope to God my personality is enough to keep him.

          • TheFirstWife

            If he truly loves you, you will always be beautiful to him. No matter what.

            That is love. Plain & simple.

            Spouses are not cars, to be traded in for a new model every few years.

          • Nancy

            Sarah P,
            I totally agree with you regarding your statement about the ease a cheater has to cheat on a person with ironclad integrity. That was me (30 years ago) when my husband cheated on me with one of my close ‘friends’. In retrospect (he just admitted this last year) I would have not suspected a thing back then because I did not think that way. I was that naive to think that my husband (who treated me very very well) would not do such a vile thing and my ‘friend’ would have no reason to do such a thing to me. Although, I knew her marriage was horrible (her husband physically, verbally and emotionally abused her). We are both in our early 60s now and have been together since we were 16 and 17 years old. Last year he admitted to virtually being unfaithful to me since the beginning (a real reverse Prince Charming with some fallen Prince Charming tendencies). Twenty years ago I suspected that he was up to no good but he adamantly denied it. And I did not press the issue (denial). Our marriage over the years has/had deteriorated to a ‘luke warm’ relationship. Last year he admitted to cheating when we were boyfriend & girlfriend and during our marriage having (2) off/on long-term affairs which included the one with my ‘friend’ and a friend of his family who I do know, (2) one night stands and (1) two time episodes with an old girlfriend. WOW! Now, he is having a real come to Jesus epiphany and totally regrets EVERYYHING he has done in his miserable life. I made him tell our adult daughters as well. That was devastating for all of us but more for him when he had to see the hurt and disappointment in their eyes. He has vowed to totally turn away : repent from his former life. I am trying to ACCEPT him back in to my life. We have been to counseling as well. I can truly truly say I did not know the man I had spent my essentially whole life with…an evil, self-centered, deceitful, immoral, cowardly, deeply-hidden fragile ego of a man. I am observing and accepting this NEW man…with my eyes wide open because before my eyes wide shut! Our 40th wedding anniversary will be coming up soon…and I am in a 2 year lung cat scan observance to see if I have lung cancer (please pray for me)…I never smoked but he does. LIFE!

            • TheFirstWife

              I am so sorry for all you have/had to endure.

              I know how you feel. My husband treated me well. But yet cheated multiple times (and I suspect there may be more).

              Having to realize you never really knew the person you have been married to for all those years cannot be put into words.

              I will pray for your health issues to disappear. And then live a long and happy life as revenge to him.

            • Nancy

              Thank you so much! I pray for my possible health issue to not be a real issue. Also, I pray to have a genuinely happy rest of my life. Vengeance is mine sayeth the Lord. I do believe that my cheating husband is receiving his pay-back… Every time he looks in the mirror, every time he sees or talks with his daughters and every time he looks at me. It is really too bad (and I find some what convenient) that now in his old age he sees ALL the errors of his ways. I think most people do not want others to know they are very bad vile people. His well-hidden (at least from my daughters and myself) secrets are out (I am pretty sure his family and friends knew). I could and still can look myself in the mirror and feel good about myself. He could back then I guess or he would have stopped this behavior…but does seem to have difficulty now. That is his problem to deal with. Thanks again for your prayers.

            • Sarah P.

              Hello Nancy,
              First off, I will certainly pray for you! I believe God heals and I have often thought about writing a book about some of the awesome healings I have witnessed in both others and myself. Still, I am glad that you are seeking medical intervention. I believe that God and doctors can work together and there have been 100’s of studies demonstrating patient outcomes during surgery when one group had prayers during their surgery while the others did not. The prayers + surgery group had dramatically better outcomes that could not have been written off by the placebo effect. No matter what happens, always ask God to send his help. love, and care. After all, when men fail we can count on God.

              Secondly, that is a terrible story about your marriage and I am so SORRY that you had to go through it. Do you think you would want to go back to the time before you knew of your husband’s affairs? I sincerely hope you have lots of loving (real) friends and family who can help you through this. You did nothing to deserve it. Your husband needs to do a lot to show he is a changed man. Are there any new boundaries you set on the relationship?
              I do believe that your husband can change with the grace of God but it has to be real. I am so glad that you told your children because your husband needs to live with the consequences.

              I have a story about what my life could have been if I had married my first boyfriend. It’s is a very funny story in a gallows humor kind of way and I will tell it to everyone in an attempt to make them laugh about this otherwise bleak topic….

              So, I only dated seriously after I was in college. My first boyfriend, Charles*, was a Christian who spent Sunday afternoons writing Grandma. I never would have thought he turned out to be that person who constantly cheated. There was no way I would have known if another girl hadn’t told me and if he hadn’t broken down and told me after I asked some pointed questions. Charles* was a business major who was two years older than myself. His dad was a macho middle manager at a car manufacturer. He was my first boyfriend and I am extremely sorry to say that he was the first person I “knew” in the Biblical sense. Still, we had talked about marriage all the time and he intended to marry me and made that clear. Then, one day he started acting really cold, right before Christmas break, and he broke up. But, that did not last long and we were back together, stronger than ever. We went through a short phase in the spring where he didn’t want to kiss or touch and that was actually fine with me. Little did I know that the reason we weren’t kissing etc. was because he was cheating. Then, one day, a female computer science major approached me and told me that she was doing certain ‘favors’ for Charles while he studied when they were alone. Apparently it was one-sided. She was annoyed that she gave but never received and she was also angry because she didn’t know he had a girlfriend. I remember not being angry with her. She was actually pretty cool. She called it as she saw it. She came to me and told me and apologized because she felt used. So, I hauled my tush over to Charles’ dorm and ended up confronting him in a common area. No one was in the student lounge but us. He ended up crying because he was so startled. Then he proceeded to tell me that there were 6 other women and they kind of rotated through his schedule. I was shocked because of the number. But then he announced, and I quote, “It’s not cheating because they were only giving me blow jobs!!!” (Obviously this was sly precursor to what would be Bill Clinton’s logic almost 10 years later. Maybe good old Bill had hired Charles as his spin doctor?) So it was I argued with Charles about why receiving a BJ actually is cheating. We argued until one of the other women came along. I recognized her immediately because of Charle’s description. I will call her PJ. So, PJ was very unattractive and she did not realize I was Charle’s girlfriend. So PJ came along because it was study time and so she decided to ask Charles if he felt like studying with her. (Studying was the code word for when PJ wanted to give a….) I looked at her and said, “Oh aren’t you the one who likes to study all about Freudian oral fixations? Charles has told me all about you!” She blanched but decided to stay. I continued, “I guess you two have been working a lot together on the Freud oral fixation thing.” That time she figured out what I was saying and she left. Charles got mad and told me I had no right to talk to her that way. And I told Charles that he had no right to tell me that. I got up and left. Charles wanted to meet the next day because he had “something” to tell me. Charles had gone to see the campus doctor because of a strange, white infection in his mouth. He broke down and told me that he got thrush from engaging in a ‘mutual’ oral thing with PJ. And so it was I got to learn that with PJ he was being less selfish and actually giving. (I knew that his condition wasn’t due to me because there were certain things I would not do and had never done at that time). But, Charles was very angry with the doctor at the student health clinic and had no one to talk to about it. He was angry with the doctor because he said that the doctor had looked at him, the doctor had laughed, and the doctor said (and I quote again): “You need to stop putting your face in between the legs of dirty women!!” Charles was embarrassed and appalled. He could not believe the campus doctor had humiliated him. And so I asked Charles why on earth he was telling me all of this. Charles didn’t have anyone else he felt he could tell and so he told me. Gee, thanks, Charles!! Needless to say, I ended it with Charles and he literally could not understand why. He kept using the argument that it didn’t count if it was oral and he stood by it. Charles had no insight and could not understand why I was mad. I left for the west coast for the summer and my parents gave him my mailing address. (Grr!!) So I would get these long letters from him (not apologies) telling me why I was wrong and why his actions did not count as cheating. I did a bunch of return to senders but the letters kept coming. Charles started to become aggressive and tell me that when I got back to campus he would “make” me his girlfriend again. He told me I could not leave and he was not accepting the break up. I tried engaging with Charles on a level playing field and telling him we were done. That didn’t work and he became all the more aggressive. So, finally, I wrote Charles a letter telling him that I was sorry we couldn’t be together. I told him the reason that we could not be together was because I no longer liked men, I told him that I had shaved off my long, wavy hair, and that I had joined a cult and would be worshipping trees from then on out. Of course, I said all of this in a sarcastic tone, but Charles believed I was serious and no more letters came that summer. I got back to campus in the fall and the first mutual friend to see me was Jen. She said, “Oh my have your hair!! Charles told us all that you had shaved your head, joined a tree worshipping cult, and no longer liked men!” She said Charles was furious but that he had decided I was no longer worth pursuing. I got a new boyfriend, who I liked a lot more than Charles and who did NOT cheat, and that was that. Charles got a very sweet elementary education major and got engaged to her. I would often see her in one of the large campus computer labs and often felt the need to approach her and tell her what she was in for. But, I did not. I figured that she would not believe me and besides, why get Charles on my trail again? And that is how I dodged that particular bullet. But if you are a regular reader, you will know that there were many cheating bullets to dodge after that. By the way, it turned out that Charles cheated on her too with the same 6 women. I hope everyone got a laugh from the Charles story. He is living proof that men say and do some pretty dumb things when they are in the affair fog.

              Nancy, I sincerely hope everything goes better for you soon. You will be in my prayers and I have a feeling that your husband will be able to work things through. I hope he treats you like gold, because you deserve nothing less.

              Many blessings,

            • Nancy

              Thank you, thank you, thank you! Your story made me laugh so much. Guess what my husband’s name is? You got it! Go figure…

            • Sarah P.

              That’s funny that this is your husband’s name. Charles was the guy’s middle name and that’s why I referred to him as that. After we broke up, I actually wrote and illustrated a comic book based on all the crazy things he said. It was cathartic. Charles didn’t just say stupid things about affairs– he said stupid things about everything and also took up the wrong causes. For example, instead of joining the anti-domestic violence rallies on campus, he would write letters to campus administration telling them that the janitors were not doing their jobs and should be fired. Why? Because the janitors didn’t place the toilet paper in the dorms over (instead of under) and this made Charles furious. This was also during the first Gulf War and he believed Hussein’s name was pronounced “Houzini” (sounds like Houdini). He would say things like: “if those dumb people don’t like Houzini they need to walk out of their country.” And on and on. I have so many funny stories about the things he said and did that are truly funny. Of course, he never understood what I was laughing at. I am ashamed to say I dated him but I was 18 at the time.

              Laughter is the best medicine and see if there is anything you can laugh at in the situation. Because men will say someone pretty humorous things when in the midst of an affair. But I am not trying to downplay the situation when I say that. I say it because laughing is better than crying…

            • Nancy

              I do (thank God) have family and ‘real’ friends to confide in and who have provided emotional support. Sometimes I have thought about would it have been better to have not known. I say no it would have not. I honestly think the deceit and trustworthiness is as bad as the sexual act. EVERYONE (the ‘friend’, the family friend, his family, his friends) knew but me. So he had given everyone the power but me. Knowing ended the ‘friend’ being a snake and him going along with it. Even though their affair ended 30 years ago we still would see her infrequently. The same with the family friend. I did confront both of them and told them what I thought of them. It felt good to have some knowledge and for them to know I KNEW!

            • Sarah P.

              HI Nancy, Wow, everyone knew but you. That sounds very typical. He had to get it off his conscience with ‘safe’ people. How very selfish. I am glad that he told you though. I believe more men cheat than we will ever know. Out of all of my boyfriends and my fiance, I can only think of one who didn’t cheat. What was interesting about him was that he was open about commenting when he thought someone was cute. He was sort of a flirt, too. At the time I was hyper-vigilant since he was the boyfriend after Charles. But I remember my friends telling me that whenever I wasn’t around, all he did was talk about me and he didn’t flirt. (So why did he flirt around me? who knows). One of my girlfriends told me she saw this other girl in our group pretty much proposition him for sex in front of everyone and he said no. Also he ended up telling me about it later too. I know he wanted to get married because he would talk about it. He was about 2.5 years older and was stretching college out due to a triple major. We didn’t get married because I didn’t want to. I was not ready. I moved to Europe for study abroad and then went to my first grad degree in Europe. He would call every time a relationship didn’t work out for him but I never went back to him because I was always in a relationship when he would call. Do I regret not marrying him? Funny enough, my husband reminds me so much of him in every way. Their first names also rhyme with each other.

              But my point is, I dated a lot of people before I got married in trying to locate Mr. Right. I can only think of one boyfriend that did not cheat. So, I think that your story might be more common than you think. I know just in my own extended family and in my parent’s age group, there have been a lot of affairs. Pretty much everyone my parents knew in the 70’s had been through several affairs. My mom would always talk about all of the office affairs in the 1980’s. Pretty much everyone, male or female, but her. I hate to say it, but I think society was still not ‘getting it’ and society was still pretty macho. I remember having a boss proposition me in 1999 and I was upset. When I told some coworkers about it, I found out I was not the first he propositioned and I also found out there were a ton of office affairs. I did not take it to HR and just let it go. My rambling point is, I think your story is very common and that a lot of people just don’t know about the infidelity in their marriage. I think if every guy and gal who had an affair confessed, I think there would be a very high adultery rate in this country. I do think there is hope for your marriage and right now your husband needs to be there for YOU. He needs to make up for the past by getting you through this health concern.

              By the way– and this is very IMPORTANT. I read a study on the Dr. Mercola website that demonstrated that people who have over 10,000iu of vitamin D3 per day have a dramatically decreased risk of all cancers. This is something you can do now. The other thing that decreased risk is 160 minutes of cardio per week as well as daily juicing. Try lots of fresh zucchini if you can stomach it. It also decreases cancers and fights them off. I lightly steam it in water with sea salt and virgin olive oil. Very tasty. Keeping your health in check is the most important thing. I will pray for you.

            • Nancy

              I meant ‘UNTRUSTWORTHINESS.

        • Lisa

          I would love to hear how you have progressed since May. I just found out about my husband’s years of infidelity three days ago. Devastation doesn’t come close to describing how I feel. I want the pivotal perspective to focus on me to make me happy versus worrying where he is and what he is doing.

          • TheFirstWife

            Lisa. I am so sorry for you. We have all been in your exact place. Devastation is the only word I can use to describe it.

            Are/Is the affair(s) over are you just finding out and they are still going on? That may make a difference in how you approach this.

            Other than having to be present for me teen kids at the time, I was devastated. He was walking out the door on us when I hsd DDay 1. He was divorcing me at DDay 2 but yet we are still married and togeyher and pretty happy.

            Our marriage has changed for the better in many ways.
            But everyday for almost a year I felt I had to scrape myself off the floor just to get through the day.

            I can tell you the one thing that saved my sanity was finding an amazing therapist that I continue to see for about 2 1/2 years after the affair ended.

            He definitely kept me grounded and make sure I was dealing with everything in a calm way.

            I think there was a lot of good information here on this blog and I have to tell you that having others that I could share my experience with, who totally get it, made my life easier and provided me with some excellent advice.

            I hope you can go back and read some of the posts because they contain some very helpful information.

            Just so that you know there are some typical behaviors that the cheating spouse takes on that seem to be fairly standard. In my case my husband continue to lie about all the facts and details surrounding the affair. That seems pretty common.

            You will also ask questions and get a lot of answers such as I don’t know or I don’t remember. That is also pretty common.

            You may ask questions and not get an answer at all. The gaslighting, stonewalling and lying all go hand-in-hand.

            I wish you the best and hope that you can take some time right now to just breathe and not make any big decisions.

        • Lenora

          So you’re going to act as warden for the rest of his life checking his hotel and travel plans. That’s all good and well. And he can send you all the passwords to his social media accounts and everything.

          The only problem is you don’t have HER hotel and travel plans. She could be at the same hotel. They can have a secret online password account. They can have telephones that are disposable. They can keep electronics in their desk at work. They can use social media apps to talk to each other on the phone even around the country …. even around the world .

          Here’s the bottom line you need to feel comfortable with your marriage or you need to leave. Trying to babysit him and monitor him isn’t going to work in the long run. If two people want to see each other they’re going to do it and it doesn’t matter what information they give you to make you feel better .

          The ex wife of a husband who did all that .

          • TryingHard

            Lenor–You are correct. There’s a million ways to cheat if one is so inclined. And Yes no one wants to be the warden and acting so is an effort in futility.

            LOL one unique was I’ve heard of communicating is setting up an email account and communicating in draft form. You never send the email. Your communication lives in the draft folder. Your AP has the password and can see what you have written and can write a response and simply save the draft.

            Cheaters are resourceful and crafty. I am so sorry you experienced it first hand.

      • Hopeful

        It has been many things gradually over the past year. And what seemed hard at first has become regular habit. And at the bottom of this I can see looking back where he avoided anything to do with me because again it made him feel worse about himself so he detached.

        Basically everything needed to change or adjust related to my husbands beahavior. we established early on my only error was being too lenient. Before making plans to go out checking with me, when going out telling me where, when and who he is with. If they go somewhere else or things change contact me. When he is out updates are given. Not staying out past 10 unless planned due to it being an event. Drinking less. Setting boundaries with parents and friends. When going out acting as if I am next to him. If there is any contact by any ow I am to be notified immediately. And I am sure there are more.

        what is interesting is these things have become habits. When he goes out he texts me all night. He gets home and says it was not fun like it used to be since then it was an escape and now he wants to be with me. It is sometimes surreal how much things have changed. It is all good but sometimes I am skeptical and guarded. It is hard to think am I letting my guard down too much.

        In the end I have granted a second chance. I will not know if it is the best decision or worse decision until it is too late. But I keep at it since I do not give up. It can be hard some days but I can see where he has transformed himself. But in the end the hardest thing is thinking he was capable of al those horrible things he did. Saying that his explanation is he was in a bad place personally that he allowed his boundaries to shift and that he learned for it. He says this is his biggest wake up call and he will do everything he can to make sure that me giving him that second chance is worth it. He says he is here for me more than ever and he looks forward to our time together and sharing the rest of our lives. All good but I still get skeptical. And of course the one thing he won’t do is go to therapy.

        • Nancy

          I am skeptical because I do not EVER want to give him the power to hurt me or deceive me as he had done in the past. I am accepting what type of man he was one hundred percent. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I will one hundred percent trust him because his past behavior is actually who I think he was raised (nature and nature) to be and he has to fight it and he never did…he welcomed it. He was brought in a family where cheating was the norm: his mother, his uncle who was a preacher, his siblings, his cousins and his friends.

        • Nancy

          I am skeptical because I do not EVER want to give him the power to hurt me or deceive me as he had done in the past. I am accepting what type of man he was one hundred percent. I don’t think there will ever come a time when I will one hundred percent trust him because his past behavior is actually who I think he was raised (nature and nature) to be and he has to fight it and he never did…he welcomed it. He was brought up in a family where cheating was the norm: his mother, his uncle who was a preacher, his siblings, his cousins and his friends.

          • TheFirstWife

            I understand nature vs nurture but even if every male role model in his life cheats he knows it is wrong and he made the bad choice.

            My H’s first EA was 4 years long. He denied it the entire time. His second and third affsirs (with same OW) was mid life crisis. He was bored, unhappy in his professional life, making less $ and chose an affair as a way of “self medicating”.

            He now regrets all of it. The lack of communication over last 20 years. No accountability on time coming home, walking in the door at 3 am when he said he would be home by 11 pm. All of it. Deep regrets and remorse.

            I agree I will never be victimized by him again. I have my plan B in place. I went to therapy and got my act together to be a better parent and person. I am still happy in my life with or without him. I would be saddened if we divorced but not devastated or surprised.

            He did not go yo therapy (most cheaters don’t). His loss.

            Live well is the best revenge and I plan on doing that.

            • Sarah P.

              I second that… living well is the best revenge. It’s just sad that broken people (cheaters) have to do things that harm innocents.

            • Nancy

              Living well IS the best…for me. I really think my husband’s conscience is kicking his butt now. But, as I stated before, how convenient for him now that he is older and probably wouldn’t be out cheating anyway! He did go to therapy. We had therapy separately and then ended with therapy together. I am totally looking out for my interest. After all of these years; I honestly can say economics/finance is a major factor in my decision to work on this marriage…and my health concerns. Again, please pray for me.

        • TheFirstWife

          Exactly where I am but it took longer to get there with many errors (on his part) along the way.

          Like going to a bar for a quick drink with boss even though we agreed no bars. Period.

          Not telling me young female coworker was on a business trip with him. Not the OW but still should have been discussed.

    • Sarah P.

      I am going to say straight up that if I found out my husband had affairs I would tell him that he should have told me we had an open marriage– that way I could have found my own cake and eaten it too. (Now would I actually have found my cake? NO. The purpose of such a statement would have been to simply shake him up and make him realize what it would have been like if I had slept with other men). Sometimes men need to have uncomfortable paradigm shifts in order to realize someone else’s perspective.

      • TheFirstWife

        Okay my new favorite line is yours about the open marriage!!! I am going to use that some day. Hahaha

    • Rachel

      This post is one of the best that I have ever read! And I have read a lot!!!
      The reverse Prince Charming fits my ex to a tee!!
      So amazing to read this now.
      Thank you Doug and Linda for posting this.

    • Tabs


      My CH was a sh*thead, too. He told the younger OW about his PA with the older OW. She tried to use that information to hurt me. I’ve told my CH about what happened, AND he doesn’t believe me. It’s things like this that make me wonder who the hell I married.

      • TheFirstWife

        Totally agree. Who the hell did I marry.

      • Nancy

        After my husband of 40 years revealed that he has off and on cheated on me since we were girlfriend and boyfriend; I have come to realize that my husband has obviously ALWAYS had some ‘issues’. Issues of: unstable self-esteem, fragile ego, lack of ability to have true intimacy, lack of a basic sense of right & wrong and cowardice. The lengths he went to or should I really say depths he sank to …to just make himself ‘feel good about himself and numb out what he really felt about himself’ we’re astounding, selfish, stupid and reckless! That is the ‘man’ I have spent virtually my whole life with… the ‘man’ I married and now he knows that I know this as well!

        • Jean

          This is my story after 32 years of marriage. You think after such a long time together you know your spouse intimately, then you discover you do not have a clue who your spouse really is and what activities he has been up to behind your back and for how long/ It is devastating and such a sad place to be after you have invested so much time in your relationship. I am still trying to figure out what ultimately I want to do, stay or go, but I am leaning on leaving and finding peace for myself instead of investing more into someone who has thought betraying me over and over was an option. I am angry that this is my state this late in life, but I have to deal with the situation that has been handed to me because it cannot be undone.

          • Danni

            As we go through life many bad events befall us. It is part of everyone’s life. When my husband died suddenly from cancer at 51 years old, I became very spiritual. Now I just tell myself whenever dealing with something terrible, like my own cancer now, we are always where we are supposed to be. Cheating is so common-the theme of life-Shakespeare, royalty, (think henry viii, charles and camilla) movies, tv shows, other people’s lives, gossip, blogs, it seems to me it is as common as a major death in one’s life. It is so normal I think it was created along with man and woman in the Garden of Eden. Life is so painful and unfair at times-but that is the normalcy of life pretty much for everyone. I will always remember this from Mary Tyler Moore after her son committed suicide: “nobody gets out of this life unscathed.” It does appear to me that everyone I know has some unrelenting pain from something. It doesn’t make it easier to know this is normal life-the hardship.

      • Ann

        I am with you on your comment too. Who the heck did I marry, and sometimes wonder and why am I still with him. Crazy!

    • Rachel

      I posted last night but appears it has disappeared ??? 🙁
      Again great article.

      • TheFirstWife

        I can see your prior post. You married the Reverse Prince Charming!!?

    • Rachel

      Yeah!!! Thanks The First Wife!?

    • Beckyb2

      I believe I am married to the princes joker. The certifiable sociopath/narcopath psycho pathological liar sex addict adhd bipolar addict of any thing he does to escape reality. His I don’t want to be like everyone else . He insists we need help he has refused to get help his only help was a simple counselor he lied manipulated and conned her. That was 4 years ago he admits he did that the wrong way hiding denying and lying about himself and his lifetime problems(note I did NOT say issues they are his whole life ) he wanted this minute fixed in counselling never what led him to needing to fix all of his minutes. I have let him know he has until our 8th grandchild is born to get himself some serious mental health or my time in his life is over and I will go on with my life without him. I have decided to become a trained doula(I have been a doula with 4 of our grandpa Iris births) since I have had 8 babies I can say my experiences could have used some extra help . This is all for me I am not wasting my time with him and his problems either he gets help or he doesn’t no matter what I am moving on with me and what makes me smile and be a helpful person.

      • Sarah P.

        I am glad that you have a career and a direction. A doula is a great choice!!

        If your husband really is a sociopath and narcissist, then it is time to get out. It’s hard to radically accept true narcissists because they do active harm all the time even when not having affairs.

        If you do move on, take the time to travel the world, rediscover yourself, and truly live it up. I believe that as long as we are on God’s green earth, we can make our dreams happen in the now. We took my grandma to the UK for a summer vacation when she was 85. She had a wonderful time. My other grandparents are in their early 90’s and they still travel and live in their home. So, if there are any 80+ women out there, it is never too late to achieve goals and dreams no matter what happens in you marriage. Women need not think that life ends after a divorce, even if women are retired. As long as there is a source of income, then life is good. For everyone under 80, life is not a complete wash if your husband has made mistakes. You women have lived your lives with integrity and that is the only part that counts. It doesn’t matter what he has done. Your life and marriage is not a waste if you did the right thing. That is a life well lived. Never forget it!

    • TryingHard

      Hi Sarah P

      You know I always enjoy your posts. However, I have found nothing about my husband Princely or Charming!!! 🙂 during all this recovery crap.

      I don’t hold him as being an innocent taken in by the evil OW with the magical vagina nor do I see him as some lecherous Lothario. Yep he’s had more that one affair. One 30 years ago and this last one. One was very short term and one was a one night stand, then this last long term affair that lasted almost 4 years where he hired her into his business. LOL actually the first affair partner was hired into his business as well as she was divorcing her husband who was also having an affair. She worked for him for many many years long after the affair ended. I didn’t find out about that one until recently when the latest affair happened. I guess he felt he really needed to clear his conscience when he told me about the latest Affair.

      So yes there’s a pattern of cheating but it gets me how he waited 30 plus years in between affairs. Here’s the deal that I have figured out. He is neither a fallen Prince Charming or a Reverse Prince Charming. I think rather that he is your everyday opportunist who thinks he is smart enough to believe that he can lie and cover up and I am none the wiser. And of course what I don’t know won’t hurt me. That’s an opportunist. And he’s not far from being wrong. I knew nothing until HE admitted it to me and actually left me for her. It wasn’t until he saw her for the drunk and broke liar she was that he woke up and said “WTF did I do”. LOL she was cheating on him when he was cheating on me!!!!! How’s that for Karma??

      It’s all so absurdly tacky I can’t even believe I’m still here in this marriage. I guess I’ve got no ego or pride. BUT he’s been wonderful and attentive and loving and you name it, all the good stuff. I don’t get it. Can’t he see that our life could have been like this all along if he’d have only put us and our marriage first as he does now? And yes I think for him it was most definitely about the sex. He had NO vested emotional connection with her at all. He was scared to death she would rat him out to me and I would leave so it was easier to carry on and hope she would tire of it and leave. She didn’t. She posed no threat as she never asked him to leave me and be with her. She played her cards very well until she didn’t. The mask always slips. And he really was the happy little cake eating frog in the pot until of course the pot started boiling….

      So if it’s true that the only predictor of the future is the past, I’m screwed!! I don’t need a crystal ball. So we will see BUT I have done just as you have said. I have totally accepted who he is and who he is NOT. I’ve also done as many BS here have said, I take care of me first. I speak up and make demands. Something I never did in the past. We have a lot of fun together, but I no longer put him or his needs first. He def had it made. And you are right it is he who has to look at himself in the mirror every day but somehow I think he looks and says to himself “you clever dog, you got away with it”.

      • Sarah P.

        I see what you mean about opportunist and you are right about a third category. Some guys are probably in the middle but they might fall into one category or another given time. Honestly, I think wives can stay with reverse prince charmings if the guy changes. People can do mind-blowingly bad things in the past, but if they have a paradigm shift and want to change, it’s fair to stay. As for the reverse prince charming who wants to stay and still refuses to have insight, a woman can stay with him too, if she wishes. And if a guy is truly a sly dog, a woman can stay as long as she keeps that sly dog on a leash. So, women can stay with either guy as long as they radically accept the situation and also set boundaries. If a guy acts like a dog, put him on a short leash. If a man is as clever as a fox, then don’t let that clever fox out of your site. Gosh, I must be a bad wife because there are so many things I don’t and will not tolerate. For example, neither of us have close friends of the opposite sex. Neither of us go on business trips and we always tae vacations together. Neither of us drink and after hours he doesn’t ‘hang out with the guys’ and I don’t ‘hang out with the girls’. On the other hand, this is how his parent’s marriage is and so I think he never expected anything else. I used to NOT be like this and thought it was really restrictive to have these rules. But after my ex-fiance did what he did, it changed me forever. I basically have boundaries in place that both of us follow. These boundaries proactively head off affairs. However, no boundaries are perfect and I won’t resort to either of us policing each other. There could still be opportunity to cheat, but it is diminished. A long time ago, I had a French boyfriend for about 3 years. His parents physically worked in the same place, they had no friends, and they always did everything together. My boyfriend wanted that kind of marriage and I said it was crazy. But, then he said that the reason his parents live this way is because even if there is a temptation to cheat, there would be no opportunity. (They never had any infidelity and started out their marriage this way). I thought at the time it was the kookiest and most controlling thing I had ever heard. After my fiance did what he did, their marriage (in retrospect) didn’t look so kooky. So, my husband and I have a marriage with pretty tight boundaries. But on the other hand, if he and I lived a traditional religious marriage (by the book) the boundaries would be even more strict than even those of the French married couple. If we look at America as a whole as compared to the rest of the world, we really do have very permissive marriages in this culture. So, I totally think it would be fine if you introduced more boundaries to your marriage in addition to accepting him and taking care of yourself. If someone shows you who they are believe them and ensure that there is little opportunity for that person to act out their darker side. Sometimes I think affairs just come down to both the opportunity that one has if he is attractive via society’s standards plus the opportunity to cheat (schedule wise, boundary wise). The worst combo is when a man is super-attractive, in a high-paying profession, has many women offering themselves up, and then has the time and lack of boundaries in marriage. As wives, we cannot change the fact that our husbands could be incredibly attractive to other women, but we can change the actual physical opportunities that a husband has to stray. On the other hand, that’s still crazy that your husband cheated with someone hired in the business. I still cannot fathom the other woman’s perspective in these cases. She knows the guy is taken, she knows it is supposed to be a professional relationship, and yet carries on. I guess there are too many people in this world who just do not care how deeply they harm others. And that is the most troubling part.

        • TheFirstWife

          I think that unless you are with someone 24/7 there is opportunity to cheat. Some cheaters create the opportunity such as hiring the AP to work for them. Or they fall hook line and sinker for the “poor me” syndrome.

          You are right if they are good looking, make $, drive a nice car and successful, women will throw themselves at those men.

          But it is up to those men to make the right choice. Too often they don’t.

          And look at the aftermath. It is ugly. And destroys families. For what? It is not always “better” than what you have already.

          As far as keeping my H in a leash, I put boundaries in place. They were there all along but he would not adhere to them.

          Lesson learned – if your H cannot abide by a request like call if you are late, then a red flag should be raised immediately.

          Putting in boundaries bothered me more than him. I felt like a prison warden. Checking up and tracking him was awful for me.

          So now I operate that he is doing everything he says. If I find out differently then I will act then and make my decision accordingly.

        • TryingHard


          We were friends as couples with AP #1. They owned their own business. She did the accounting for their business. They were getting divorced and my h offered her a job. I’m sure now that they were in the affair when she came to work for him. All within the first couple years of our marriage and we started have children. I’m sure it was an on and off thing and then totally off but she continued to work there for many many years after it was over. I didn’t know anything about that affair until he told me during the DDays 5 years ago when he admitted to the most recent one. She needed that job she was a divorced mother of 2 and had to stay in town. There’s not a lot of businesses here so not much choice for her for employment. She was good at what she did but my husband complained constantly about her. Haha even called her an opportunist.

          AP #2 was when he had to go out of town for training for 2 weeks. I found out about that one when I got suspicious. I went into the office one Saturday and sleuthed through phone bills, lol yes the old fashioned way paper bills and found her number. My h would have to go out of town once in a while and they would meet up on the east coast. Very short term. I was furious at the time but we worked through it. I forgave way too quickly but I was busy with my young children, my college work, and my job to really have the luxury to go through the proper steps of reconciliation. He acted remorseful and I was anxious to put it in the past. Big mistake.

          All went well for 30 years although this I am now guessing at. Who knows there could have been others. Obviously he had a lot of spare time to himself. But I truly believed he had learned his lesson. Besides he seemed content. Our sex life was good and we had a wonderful circle of friends and activities. I chalked the affair up, or at least the one I knew about, to youthful indiscretion on his part. An early mid life crisis. Haha A MISTAKE

          Now 30 years later he starts talking to this woman AP #3 who worked for one of our vendors in town. At the time I wasn’t working at his business, and she turns on the charm. Starts showing lots of attention. Calling him at work and sending suggestive emails. Within a couple months they are meeting at hotels. She begs him for a job because she is working for her brother and he’s an ass and a cheapskate. So he caves in and hires her. Now she’s married at the time so he thinks he’s pretty safe. She makes no demands for him to leave until she divorces her husband. This is when the pot that Mr Frog is in starts to boil. Now she’s ensconced in his business and the affair is raging. Although he doesn’t want to leave me and works very hard to keep the status quo. She gets frustrated at the situation but pretends she’s ok with it to him. She does subtle threats like “I could take you down, I know all your secrets, but of course I won’t “. Meantime in his stupid little brain he’s hoping SHE will break it off with him and start dating and she can keep working for him, just like AP #1 and all is good and I’m none the wiser. Because above the affair she needed her job so why would she fuck that up??? Well months go by and she’s not dating, lol although she was, but she wasn’t about to give up her power with him as her boss. So she kept fucking the boss and her boyfriend sometimes in the same day!! Ha, ask me how I know…. Plus he was throwing lots of cash her way just to shut her up. It was fucking extortion. But she is a broke loser and she has finally found her sugar daddy. So low on the rung of the social ladder she does care what she has to do to get the cash.

          So by DDay 1 that frogs pot was in a full boil. So he did the only thing he thought he could do. The deception was so deep and convoluted. She owed him a ton of money for the reconstruction of her house which she was supposed to be refinancing but of course lied about doing that and wasn’t. He was scared she would tell me so basically he had to jump out of the pot. Now he could have risked it fired her and come clean but in his head he believed I would throw him out anyway so instead he left and told me “I love you, I’m not in love with you”. Original right? I asked if he was having an affair with X and he said yes and that he thought he loved her. Of course he’s going to say he loved her because then the affair was justified he later admitted. Ugh so stupid. Anyway, It wasn’t until after he left that her then boyfriend called him, which also happened to be her x husbands son!!!!, and told him everything AND threatened to kill him. Lol now that scared him for real. He’s a motor cycle dude. I laughed my ass off on that one. By the way boyfriend also called me. Lovely right??? But I’m forever great full he did.

          Anyway that’s the story of his pathetic cheating life. So yes when AP#3 came into the picture I think he thought he could control this dummy just like he did AP#1 and the affair could end when he was through with the excitement and his little life would go on as usual. I actually think my H is somewhat a covert narcissist. Everyone likes him, he’s the good guy. Right!!!

          After DDay 2 and everything came out, EVERYTHING including AP#1 bitch who pretended to be my friend for a very long time after, he asked me to come to work in our business. I wasn’t working but wanted to have something to do. I said yes.

          We are together 24/7. I come home at 5 but him not until 6 or 6:30. He calls me on his way home from work. I don’t tell him to he just does it. Kinda weird since we are together all day. But he does his thing and I do mine. We are reconfiguring our office and now he wants me to move in his office with him. Yikes. Now that’s too much togetherness!!! We do pretty much everything together. He plays golf with the guys although he begs me to play but I hate playing golf, HATE IT so I don’t. Besides I have a bum shoulder. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it!!! I have access to everything, his phone, his email, his computer, everything. I am well ensconced in the business now. I am a corporate officer and have acces to all the money. I cut and sign all the checks. There’s not too much he can hide but where there’s a will there’s a way right? So yes he’s on a short leash but it’s a leash HE created and gave me. I don’t tell him what to do but he does something out of line I speak up, loudly! I’m in charge of HR. Matter of fact last week a very young attractive woman came in with her resume and I walked in to find him and another manager interviewing her on the spot. I blew at both of them. This is not protocol. I go over all resumes first and interviews. He would have never done that if a man had walked in! So yes I have my challenges with him but he knows there’s no wiggle room.

          Others may perceive him as the nice guy all innocent and charming and soft spoken. I KNOW the real guy. I’ve got the scars to prove it. Covert narcs are like that. I’m not fooled anymore and there’s no more benefit of the doubt. Since I’ve been at our business I already fired one female employee who was flirty with him. I have no problem asserting myself in our business or relationship. But he’s the one responsible for his own actions, not me.

          So sum it up, yes I’m a great believer now in when someone tells you who they are believe them. I no longer look at him through the lens of my own values and sense of integrity. He is what he is and I watch his stinger very closely.

          • TheFirstWife

            Trying Hard. You write an eerily similar story. AP#1 pretended to be my friend even though she was orchestrating to replace me.

            AP#2 was hired by my CH to work gor him. He made it all happen with her. He told me hired her an an outside contractor BUT it quickly developed into flirting and affair and an almost divorce.

            I also suspect there were others in between this almost 20 year span. I suspect he had the hots for one girl who was very pretty and attractive but I don’t think she returned the feelings. Funny how he says they don’t talk anymore since she moved. Hmmmm why not? What did you say to her?

            In any event he knows right from wrong. It is that simple.

            And it is sad to know the depth of deception and lying he would go to for his own satisfaction.

            I wish I had thought about Sarah P.’s “open marriage” comment. I certainly would have used it.

            And the more I read the more I believe there is a set pattern of cheating behavior and lies that all cheaters tell themselves to justify it.

            They act like spoiled brats if you want my opinion and I refuse to be his mother. I would rather be divorced.

            • Sarah P.

              Hi TheFirstWife,
              I just don’t understand why men throw themselves at these younger women. I know lie I have said before the (male) evolutionary biologists like to say it is wired. But, another reason that does not make sense is because it has come out in the past few years that the pairing of older men + younger women produces children with mental and physical issues. Why? Because sperm degrades rapidly after the age of 30 and the interestingly egg does not degrade. When sperm is degraded, we see things like increased autism, increased incidence of schizophrenia, and other health problems. So, that whole thing about older men + younger women does not make sense and the evolutionary biologist’s argument can be used against them. Then, there is the greatly increased divorce rate with age gap pairings. When I was in my early 20’s, I remember being the recipient of this stuff and being grossed out. I would get angry because I realized one day I would be the 40+ woman who is shunned in favor of the 20-something. And now I am the 40+ woman and for whatever reason we have these crazy anti-aging genes in our family where everyone looks a lot younger. My husband and I were born in the same year but some have thought I was a lot younger than him. My husband gets to benefit from it now, but I often wonder what will happen when I no longer have a baby face. I often wonder if he will be able to adjust his beauty standard accordingly. If not, we are going to be in BIG trouble. After all, my husband is one of those who can have his pick, even from much younger women. I remember when I was dating my husband, one of my much older girlfriends said to me: “Okay, date him, but do not marry him!” I asked why and her response was, “A guy with his job is going to have some women all over him and it’s too much stress.” Of course, one cannot control where love goes and I made more money than him when we were dating. So, I figured I was an equal to him. One time someone rude asked me how I married my husband and I said: “Well, he married me for my money!” Of course, that was a joke and now that I stay home with kids, I no longer have that income. It sure shuts people up though when I say that. 🙂 But I truly believe that unrelenting opportunity is a real problem for men. I believe that some of the best men can fall prey to it. I read this one blog post from a guy in his 20’s explaining why men cheat. He didn’t mince words and said: Most women, even much older ones, can walk up to a guy and ask to go to bed with no strings attached and pretty much all men will fall all over themselves. Then he said that men (who he believed to be more sexually driven than women) live with the fear of scarcity all of the time and wonder where their next encounter will come from. He said that men cannot approach women and ask for no-strings-attached sex. And he is right about that. Some women would haul off and slap a man if he did that. Others would just call him a creeper and be outraged. Either way, most men, unless they are Brad Pitt or something, could ever get away with it. So, this guy’s argument goes that because men live in a state of scarcity, they are going to jump at the opportunity when a woman offers, even if they are married. There might be some truth to it and I really do believe that we shouldn’t take it personally when a guy strays, although it is hard not to. When they cheat, they act on their own needs and have tunnel vision. Their wife’s needs could not be further from their sight. Affairs are the ultimate type of un-thinking.

            • Sarah P.

              PS- Sorry for the typo, the sentence in the beginning should read: like I have said before the (male) evolutionary biologists like to say it is wired…

          • Sarah P.

            Hey TryingHard,
            I am glad that you blew up at him when doing an impromptu interview with a young, attractive girl. In fact, if my husband and I ever start a business together, I would be 50/50 co-owner and I would do all the management and hiring. I am going to say straight up that I would not hire pretty, young things to work in such an environment. Men are men and men like young, pretty women. That is unfortunately a fact of life and I refuse to play with fire. I know that some would say that is employment discrimination and it is employment discrimination. But, I would want very experienced people with prior senior positions working with us. And needing senior people to best fill roles is not discrimination if I can prove factually that’s what we need. And we would need those folks. I am happy to see that attitudes are turning around for middle-aged workers. When I was in my 20’s, tech companies were gobbling up us 20-somethings and putting us in charge. Some like me flourished in management roles while others did not have the maturity. Even then, when I was hiring, I would go through resumes looking for people with a lot of experience because I knew I did NOT know everything and needed to learn. It just makes sense for a good business. Now, my friend tells me that there is a top tech consulting company that hires folks in their 50’s and 60’s and I am like “hallelujah!!” because my opinion is that older people are the people who have all the knowledge and get things done. I am seeing less age discrimination against older workers and that is WELCOME thing! Companies are finally figuring out they are good for the bottom line. Well,duh!!!!

    • Ann

      Again Sarah another great post.
      I am married to Reverse Prince Charming, and yes I should use that line about an open marriage. Love it!

    • Sarah P.

      Thank you 🙂

    • TheFirstWife

      I have a general question. I think all of us women, no matter age or beauty have been hit on by men. Even when it is obvious you are married

      Even if the person knows your spouse sometimes it is obvious (in that they come right out and say it to see if you are interested also) and sometimes you just get a vibe.

      What do you do in that situation? What is your reaction or thought after? I would be curious if everyone could answer. Women or men.

      My general reaction is that I am sorry I know that you, as someone who I thought was my friend, would cheat on your wife. I no longer respect you. And I feel bad for your wife.

      • Sarah P.

        Hello TFW,
        Well, that is a GREAT response to being hit on!

        There was a time before I was married that I was friends with a couple older than myself when they were my parents neighbors. I liked both the wife and the husband and we became friends. The husband became like a brother to me and sometimes his wife would send him out to lunch with me when he felt he was too housebound. He was maybe 8 years older than myself but they already had a large-ish family. After I got married, my husband met them and liked them too. But, most often it was the husband and I who would have lunch together. We were in the same industry and liked to compare professional notes. One day he said he wanted to pursue a divorce with his wife and that he had “walked up to the edge of the cliff” with many women during his marriage. This time he wanted to jump off the cliff since he met someone. I told him bad idea but they divorced and she never knew why. He ended up going with this LOSER lady who actually physically harmed his oldest son! Around that time he told me he had always had a crush on me. I didn’t say anything but never talked to him after that. I was livid that he had allowed her to harm his son as well. If I would have told him how livid I was, I would have dropped a nuclear bomb of anger and would have regretted it. Instead I avoided and have never talked to him since. Every time I think of what she did to his oldest son, I get upset. Obviously, I saw his kids grow up and so I came to think of them as family. This is why neither I nor my husband have friends of the opposite sex, even if they are married. My approach was always to actively avoid the person and now I don’t have male friends at all so there is no opportunity. I get hit on by strangers but I think my body language gets so closed off when they do hit on me that they end up not continuing. I was dressed up for mother’s day this year and at the store with my youngest. Some guy who looked like santa claus kept popping out of nowhere and telling us jokes. I could tell he was following me around and also working up to a dirty joke. I used the old frown and off-putting body language and he stopped. So, that is how I handle it. If someone got more aggressive?

        Well, I think what you do now, TFW, is the perfect thing to say and do. What you are doing is 100% correct and it’s the right thing to do. As for me, I am being passive and that’s the wrong thing to do.

        Does anyone have any stories about other women harming the man’s children?

        I know that it would be my concern if my husband left me for someone else. Although, my oldest son knows about affairs because his best friend’s family was broken up due to an affair. His poor best friend confides in him and the poor kid has developed an anxiety disorder. My son has said that if another woman tried to break up our family he would kick her a**. So it looks like the other woman would have to worry about my son harming her, and not vice versa. 😉 My son said his worst nightmare would be if something like that happened. It is sad that it is so prevalent that middle-school kids know all about it and the pain that it causes. Just terrible.

      • Ann

        Hi TFW
        About 12 years ago my CH and I used to have a male friend who was on his 2nd marriage at the time. At a function together he sat across from me and I accidently touched his leg and I apologized for it. His response was “that’s ok I would love to get in between your legs”.
        At the time I did not respond to this remark as I was shocked that this friend would have said something like this.
        When I told my CH about the remark our male friend made my CHs response was “oh you must have misunderstood what he said” Seriously? that’s all you have to say about a friend hitting on me?
        Of course fast forward to today I now would have said something to the friend and probably kick him where it hurts.

    • TryingHard

      Hi Sarah P
      It’s not that I wouldn’t hire a young attractive person if they had the qualifications. Who I would not hire us a person who comes in with resume in hand during my busy work day expecting an interview. In this instance I don’t even know if that was the case. My h and the other manager took it upon themselves to interview her on the spot. This actually put the young woman at a great disadvantage with me. And it turns out she was NOT qualified and her resume indicated it. The protocol is the resume comes in whether in person or sent and I read the resume and pass it on to managers of each department. They totally skipped that step and wasted both hers and their time. And yes I think she got interviewed based on her looks alone. What ever other reason could there be? As I said they never do this for men.

      I agree men do like pretty young things but my husbands APs where neither pretty nor young. They were just willing. Beautiful women do not intimidate me. I just don’t like it when young beautiful women use their looks as a sales tool. I don’t think beautiful and qualified for a job are mutually exclusive. But I see many young attractive people in sales who don’t know shit about their service and product walk their way in the front door and try to sell something based in the fact they are attractive. Doesn’t work in me. I don’t care if they are make or female. I have limited resources and will not squander them just in that fact the person selling is attractive. I think the pharmaceutical business uses this strategy to sell drugs to docs. All those sale people look like movie stars!! It’s ridiculous and its dumbing down. But I guess sex sells. Well not in my office. You can be attractive but there better be something in that pretty little head to back it up!

      • TheFirstWife

        I agree with all you said.

        My H’s APs were not pretty or cute. They were needy. They were the epitome of “poor me”. They both had issues.

        He was going to rescue them. He felt needed by them.

        The funny thing is that he fell for it so easily. But I don’t see him stepping over himself like that to help his male friends or acquaintances.

        The funniest thing is that my H actually believed his friends would accept his AP. A heavily tattooed drama queen half his age with major problems. I saw that in an email to her. His friends that love him will love her too.

        I hope he planned on getting new friends.

      • Sarah P.

        Hi TryingHard,

        I agree with everything you said about some pretty young things using their looks to get jobs. My view has been colored by the experience I had hiring when I was in my late 20’s. I was not in HR but our male manager wanted me to head up the technical interviews. Our male manager was sleeping with a recruiter and she would bring in women who were not qualified in any way but who she knew. We would put them through (panel) behavioral interviews and the interviews would turn out horribly. The panel would say ‘no hire’ and the male manager would veto it and hire them anyhow because the recruiter he was sleeping with (both he and recruiter were engaged to different people) would tell him that he couldn’t say no to her friends. So, fast forward five years. The several women that were hired by our manager all ended up doing terribly at the job. In order to compensate, they all seduced older married men and kept their jobs that way. So, I admit that I have a bias because of my experience. On the other hand, the team had a couple of very beautiful women who were smart as heck. They ended up being my friends and I adored them. But the key was, they were qualified first and beautiful second and none of them dressed inappropriately or acted inappropriately. They were all business and there to get a job done. Those young women don’t bother me and I would hire them. But I will say that I met too many who were solely getting by on playing the looks card. When the looks card failed, each played the sex-with-a-married-man card. So, this is specifically where my bias came from. You are a better woman than I am.

        • TryingHard

          Sarah P–LOL actually no I am not better than anyone. You get this crap and lucky you that you’ve learned much earlier in life than I did. Smart girl!

          I always think I am wayyy to sensitive to this kind of female behavior so it feels good to know I am not the only who sees and knows this stuff.

          The minute some person, male or female, comes in flaunting their looks and of course the women try very hard to get to my husband foolishly thinking he’s the decision maker and don’t realize I am the gate keeper, they are thanked and shown the door! But I can do that in my business. It’s out in public ie restaurants where more pandering and flirting with my husband for better tips that irks me too. But I fool them as I pay the bill when this happens at restaurant and well sorry but the tip is not what they were hoping it would be. Thank goodness it doesn’t happen often because I hate stiffing waitresses who I know work for tips. But life lessons are hard learned sometimes.

          • Sarah P

            You are probably a strong empath like many women are. Empaths have the ability to read the air even when nothing is spoken. I would guess there are a lot of empaths here among commenters. My husband thinks I am so judgmental because I can read general motives of both men and women. I do it towards his coworkers all the time and do it even if little is said. By the way this goes for both the good and bad. I can tell him who he can trust and why as well as who he can’t and why. It unnerves him to no end because I have never been wrong. Does anyone else out there feel like they have an invisible antenna that’s always on and that allows them to read people? It’s not a good thing by the way. For me I hate being in large crowds because it’s sensory overload. I can pick up the prevailing feelings in the room and it’s not comfortable. And it goes even further than that and it has always been with me, but that’s another story. I am not bragging. It’s really not a good thing to have and I was wondering if anyone else out there has a version of it, no matter how mild. (By the way, I couldn’t read what is up with someone when I am blinded by denial. Such was the case with my ex). Trying, I am guessing you have a version of it and that’s why you read motives. Anyone else know the feeling because it’s not a good feeling…

            • TheFirstWife

              Okay this is going to sound weird and crazy but often I can read people too. I get a vibe and I am usually not wrong.

              Also I have dreams that come true. I did have a dream that around one of my son’s birthdays my H was going to tell me he did not want to he married anymore

              it happened exactly as in my dream. Same date and words.

              Very intuitive and I focus on the dreams. Too many over the years have been dead on.

            • Sarah P

              Hello TFW,
              I know exactly what you are talking about with the dreams. Now to preface this, I have a health condition where I could not drink, smoke, or be altered in any way even if I wanted to. Each time a close relative like a grandparent or great aunt/uncle died they came to talk to me in a dream after they crossed over but before anyone knew. And these were very detailed experiences that happened in what was the third dimension and linear time. Each time it happened and as soon as I woke up I wrote down everything so I wouldn’t forget. Each time I assumed the dream was warning me and that’s why I wrote it down. But each time it turned out their passing coincided with the dream. One of the most interesting occurances was when the tsunami hit in Thailand. I had a dream where a giant wave was crashing and I saw visions of bodies and even people wrapped up in barbed wire. I awoke with a start but for about 10 seconds after I was awake I saw the same people floating through the dark as if I could touch them. I turned on the light and it went away. After we read the news in the morning we found out what happened and one of those news stories talked about bodies being wrapped up in barbed wire. My husband is the ultimate scientist and skeptic. He simply believes people make things up like this. But after being married for so long and watching it happen to me and knowing that I am not lying and can’t make this stuff up, his new answer is: “I know it’s real but I have no explanation for it.” And he leaves it at that. It’s obvious you have the same thing whatever it is. Have you experienced dreams like this?

              I started reading about the Jewish view on this since the Christian view is very negative. I read an article by a Rabbi where he said that relatives visit in dreams and that it’s common within the Jewish community. For the Rabbi this was as normal as two living friends sitting down and chatting. That made me feel better. Does anyone else have these experiences?

              Any more interesting psychic experiences for you, TFW? It sounds like the dreams have helped warn you about major life events and that is a huge plus.

            • Strengthrequired

              Sarah, tfw, I too have the dreams, have had several relatives who have passed as well as a friend, who have come to me in dreams, however an uncle came to me late at night, exhausted and ready to sleep. It was a strange feeling that night, as things that had happened prior to me seeing him was while I was trying to sleep. It was him trying to get my attention.
              Once he had my attention and I saw him, he left.
              I have dreamt of friends being pregnant, only to find out the next day, or week that they were.
              My father came to me a few times in my dreams telling me that my ch was still with his ow, low and behold he was at the time.
              My daughter has seen things since very little, and to be honest, I used to see the same unknown spirits several times a night up until I had given birth to her. I would Se them in my dreams, as well as when I would open my eyes for a minute or two each time. I like to think they were her guardians. Sounds so strange, to someone that doesn’t believe but it’s true.
              My husband isn’t one to believe, unless he sees, yet he has no explanation for it when he sees me go through it, or even our daughter. He sits in disbelief when I tell him my dreams and they come true.
              I believe, it would have freaked him out somewhat when I would dream he was still with his ow, for me to tell him, and how I found out, when my dad would come to me. Although he would lie to me, I am sure he would have been thinking, how am I going to keep this hidden when he can’t escape me finding out, one way or another.
              I also had a bad feeling about his ow when she came back into our lives, yet I ignored it and tried to welcome her into our home, because after all she was his cousin. I’ve always had this feeling about her, not good feelings either, guess next time, I won’t shrug it off, when it comes to someone I feel wants more from my ch, although I used to let him know what I thought about their intentions, he wouldn’t listen, next time I will make sure he listens.

            • Sarah P

              Hi Strength,
              Embrace the gift that you have and allow the gift to keep you aware of what is going on. I am glad that your dad comes to support you in dreams and to protect you. I am still shocked that a cousin was involved as the OW, although I remember my husband’s first cousin getting tipsy and hitting on him in front of her own husband, her children, and me. She lives in a different part of the country and after that happened, I said that we would have no contact with her or her family and we have not had contact. I have found that the more intuitive/moral spouse needs to set the rules and not back down. If you can get that cousin out of your life for good, please do so. There is NO reason he needs to see her since you know what she is about and she has proven herself to be a disastrous human being. I don’t care of she is family, she needs to be cut out. Finally, it sounds like you have some guardian angels around or some kind of helper in the spirit realm. It’s obvious your dad is helping too 🙂

            • Strengthrequired

              Sarah, I’m too still shocked and also disgusted that my husband chose to cheat with his cousin. Still sickened by it actually. My ch knows my views on keeping her out of both our lives, and hopefully he is standing by his word about no contact whatsoever.
              Like th, I keep everyone at arms length too, more peaceful that way.

            • TheFirstWife

              I actually don’t worry about the past AP as that is over. It is the next AP who is unknown.

            • TheFirstWife

              I wasn’t cued in to the affair as my dream was my H was going to tell me he didn’t want to be married anymore.

              I wished I was more experienced b/c that out of the blue behavior is a clear sign of cheating. What annoys me is that the week before that dream we were with friends and we were talking about cheating and I stated my point. Don’t cheat. If you find someone better than me or you no longer want to be with me then tell me. I will still respect you. But don’t be a coward and cheat. My H sat there and said nothing.

              That should have been a warning right there. Silence from him is his pattern. Hecwas already cheating on me. And he knew it.

              My last dream was a few years ago and we are at a party and my H walks up to me and says he doesn’t want to be married anymore. So I asked him haven’t you been happy these last few years? He says he has but he just doesn’t want to be married. And I look at him and say “OK” and just walk away. No tears. No emotion. No pain. Just “OK”.

              I am happy b/c I think it shows I will not crumble or fall apart. I just really move on.

              Or is it that I have expected this all along?

              My therapist doesn’t believe in the “dreams come true theory” yet I have so many that do it is hard to ignore. But is this a “dreZm come true” dream or a manifestation of all that I have survived to show me I am strong and got my game ON!

            • Danni

              read the book by Bill Guggenheim and Judy Guggenheim. Many people have these experiences, myself included.

            • TryingHard

              Sarah P
              Yes. As a matter of fact during my last visit with my therapist I asked her if I was Passive Aggressive or if I had a BPD. She literally laughed and said NO!!! She said I was a huge empath and if anything I gave people the benefit of the doubt when I shouldn’t. She said I am too nice and forgiving formy own good! LOL shocking right?

              I have actually developed a severe case of social anxiety due to my sensitivity. I hate going to parties and I can’t even much handle a dinner out with friends. I come home exhausted and worried if I said or did anything to upset someone. I wake up in the middle of the night with anxiety. I am a pro at reading emotions. Our marriage counselor actually said she’s never met anyone so adept at reading body language.

              Given two therapists have said these things to me I guess I am an empath and highly intuitive. I tend to like everyone and I’m naive enough to believe people feel the same. Even if someone does me wrong I always try to give the benefit of the doubt and chalk up their poor behavior to having a bad day or something else was bothering them. I have been sooooo wrong. Some people are petty, jealous, envious, gossipy, self serving people. Sometimes they want your friendship just to advance their own agenda. So I’ve built my wall around myself and don’t let anyone in. Even my children. I love them but I don’t leave myself vulnerable to them or anyone anymore. My therapist says living in that wall gets lonely but I haven’t seen that. I like being by myself. I never feel alone or lonely. But who knows as I age maybe I will. Don’t know but I’ve never been a lonely person.

              I agree it’s not a good feeling. It’s like you are a radio constantly receiving signals. LOL maybe I can develop a narcissistic personality and all this empathic stress will go away 🙂

            • Sarah P

              Hi Trying,
              That’s a funny comment about narcissistic personality. Isn’t that the truth!

              It sounds like you are a very strong empath and that could contribute to social anxiety. I understand why you wall yourself off as a form of protection; I also understand the idea of pretty much liking everyone until you learn otherwise. I have experienced those same petty, self-serving people and because of it, I make a point to cultivate the few friends I can trust. I am nice to everyone and learning that I can be nice while still not giving trust to everyone. You are lucky to be able to put up a wall of protection. Use it to ensure your spouse never hurts you deeply ever again. But here is a question– why won’t you allow yourself to be vulnerable to your children?

        • TheFirstWife

          Reading your post reminded me of a job I had right out of college. It was a huge bank and I worked in one of the NY offices.
          One of the division managers that I worked for was having an affair with his secretary. He was married and she was divorced. She had a 20 yo daughter and a teenage son. Seemed like a nice woman but stupid for sleeping around with a married man while everyone knew it.

          The secretary’s daughter needed a job got hired and became the manager’s new girlfriend. He dumped the mother to date the daughter! Idiots.

          This division mgr used to let the teen GF drive his car around. He & his wife lived nearby and she could have seen this at any time.
          Idiots! All of them. And BTW the mother was pretty but the daughter was cute – not smart, acted like a typical dumb teen and yet no one was saying or doing anything.

          Until one day the you know what hit the fan and he was fired. Duh!

          • Sarah P

            I have a story similar to that. This was a dermatologist and everyone but his (gorgeous) wife knew he was cheating. He was cheating with two nurses who both worked for him and one had a young daughter who was a nanny. Neither nurse knew he was cheating with the other nurse. One day for whatever reason they both found out he was cheating and told him to make a choice between them. He told them he chose neither because he had been seeing the nurse’s daughter the nanny!! At that point the two angry nurses told his wife and the wife dumped him. Then he moved in with the nanny. I knew a woman who was good friends with the guys wife and this happened years ago. The moral of the story for all other women if they happen to read this is that if a guy is cheating on his wife, he is likely cheating on the other woman as well. In fact, there could be several other women just like in this case and each other woman thinks that she is special and that she is some kind of exception and that he will marry her. Other women think this way because they are in denial and wish it were true. But the hard truth is that they are not special and they are just fools to be thinking they are special. Honestly, I thought that story about the dermatologist was funny because the two nurses ended up causing a scene in the clinic with everyone watching while he announced he was choosing the nanny. I am telling you the truth is stranger than fiction!!’

            • TheFirstWife

              You just can’t make this stuff up

    • TryingHard

      Hi First Wife
      It always amazes me how all cheaters have the same MO, same excuses, same stories, etc. you name it 🙂

      I truly believe once the deception is started it is so hard for the cheaters to retreat from what is wrong in their relationships. They think they are smarter, they think they are in control AND they love the clandestine aspect of the affairs. How could the innocents possibly have known anything about our spouses having affairs or being sneaky and deceptive when this is so far from how we conduct our lives?? We can’t, plain and simple. I’m done beating myself and him up about it. Doesn’t mean I don’t look at the scar and flinch once in a while. But shit things happen in life and this is mine.

      I truly believe now my husband is a covert narcissist. Unfortunately he doesn’t know he is or he at least refuses to learn about it. Don’t care. The important thing is I know he is this. So when living with a person like this you learn the red flags. Being naive is no longer a luxury and that’s ok. I can do this. He is incapable of fooling me again. And if he wants to act deceptively or disrespectfully again he won’t know what hits him!!! I’ve put in too much blood sweat and tears in my life to EVER be taken advantage of again.

      So that said I think he knows this and it amazes me how loving and kind and thoughtful he’s been the last few years since DDays. How once I quit letting myself be a doormat he’s more in love with me than ever. Shows it and proves it every single day. So I will own up to my part of being too kind, too attentive, too trusting, too naive, too much giving the benefit of the doubt, too willing to do the “heavy lifting” in the marriage. I’m new and improve 5.0 version of my former self 🙂 LOL maybe it’s true like the book title says “Men Love Bitches”!!! It’s working for me!

      • TheFirstWife

        Trying Hard. I think your name should be changed to “HE is Trying Hard”

        You & I could write the same book page for page. Word for word. Detail by detail.

        I don’t know what my H is – a nice guy who made a mistake with the last affair or a serial flirt/cheater these last 30 years.

        But I kave now put myself first (obviously after the kids). I have my own business (in addition to my regular job) and it keeps me busy on the weekends. When kids go off to college it will be a nice transition for me.

        So yes I know where you are coming from. I have traveled down the same bumpy road. Had the same pain and trials and tribulations.

        I just hope our Hs finally get it. Maybe they can end up sharing an apartment a la The Idd Couple – can two divorced men share an apartment w/out driving each other crazy? They can wallow in their self created misery.

        Then again I am not so sure my H would be miserable. At least appearance wise he would appear ok. I remember the day after he tokd me about cheating on me was July 4th. He up and went to a BBQ and had a fabulous time. I was in no shape and stayed home.

        He literally just walked out without a care in the world. No remorse. No pain. No empathy. Just off to enjoy his holiday/day off.

        That is what I married.

        • Sarah P.

          I just saw this comment about your H having no remorse and no empathy. I was working on a post and I had written a section on that. There is a reason for the no empathy and no remorse thing. That article won’t be published tomorrow, but next Tuesday.

      • Sarah P.

        Are you reading the Why Men Love Bitches book? My best friend gave it to me and I have to say it’s great!!

        • Ann

          Who wrote the Why Men Love Bitches book?

          • Doug

            Hi Ann, I don’t mean to hijack your conversation but I saw your question and happen to know the answer: Sherry Argov is the author

            • Ann

              Thanks I’ll see if my book store has it and give it a read

    • TryingHard

      Sarah P–Yes that’s the book I’m talking about. It’s crazy, but lots of valid points.

      Man Sarah you’d be proud of how I asserted myself today. Whoo Hoo on two fronts!!! With his narc parents and at work! I think I’m getting the hang of this 🙂

      No my husband does not lack empathy or remorse. He’s got plenty of that. LOL he is def Mr. TryingHard. But he only got that way with lots of talking and work. AND a few reminders from me when he slips. It’s exhausting sometimes.

      • Sarah P

        Congrats on two fronts!! I am so proud of you!! 🙂 Yay!!!! With narc parents being assertive is the only thing they understand. They hate it, but they do understand it. When you assert yourself it shocks them and they usually back peddle. Narcs are used to throwing tantrums and getting their way. So being assertive helps. They are simply not used to it.

        The Men Who Love Bitches book is crazy but kind of humorous too. That author makes me laugh in a gallows humor kind of way.

        As for the no remorse comment, sorry, I forgot to say that one was for First Wife since she was talking about how her H didn’t seem to have remorse after he told her and went to the 4th of July BBQ. Please forgive me for misdirecting the comment.

        Again, way to go with taking a stand! 🙂

        • Tabs

          Sarah P,
          Can’t wait for your post on CHs with no remorse. My CH told me about the his PA and said “sorry”. But he was having an EA with a very young 22 year old, a girl just one year older than our daughter. Even though he was apologetic about the PA, he still flirted and carried on with his EA. When I confront him my feelings, all he says to me is “he could have treated me better.” He uses that exact phrase over and over, like it’s in some kind of manual. But it just make me more pissed. After a lot of reflection and soul searching, I now try to concentrated on making myself a better, more independent woman, mother, daughter. In retrospect, I realize my CH hasn’t really contemplated his actions. He’s has been kind and thoughtful “after” the 22 year old left our universe. But I sure never saw him sad, remorseful, even for a day.

          I have one more question from your previous post – The Nuts and Bolts of Affair Recovery. What happens if you miss a couple of the stages. I think my five stages were interrupted when my mother passed away, 9 months after the first Dday. She knew about the affairs but told me NOT to do anything hastily. I listened to my mom, quite literally on her dying bed. I doubt I could have handled both a funeral and divorce, anyway. Long story short, I remember denial and an overabundance of depression. There was no anger or bargaining. I kinda fell into acceptance. Now, five years later, I feel resentment. My CH has told me that he doesn’t want to brood over the affairs. I’m trying my best to focus away from the resentment, but it’s tough.

          • TheFirstWife

            Yes anger and resentment. The lingering gift if an affair and being the BS.

            My H has remorse and regret now. But when he saw me having meltdowns and tears after his first round of the affair and would comfort me, etc. it just ticks me off he was doing this while continuing to be in an affair with her again.

          • Sarah P

            Hi Tabs,
            I am really sorry for everything that has happened to you. I do understand why your mom told you not to make hasty decisions. That was one of her last gifts to you as a mother-daughter pair. But, do not despair, your mom is still looking in on you and she is in your corner.

            As for the grieving process being interrupted, it may not be a big deal because different phases of the grieving process overlap. If our souls/minds know we haven’t fully grieved, we might pick up elements of the process later. That’s probably why you feel resentment. But, your H is not allowing you to grieve either and that it problematic. I feel like the process may have been interrupted and also not fully completed because of your husband’s unwillingness to acknowledge your concerns. On some level you will suppress your concerns, even if not consciously. Give yourself permission to feel the resentment and to work through your feelings. Trauma always finds a voice and it’s best to let your negative emotions speak and be acknowledged. It’s too much to ask of a betrayed spouse to suppress their feelings. That only serves the interests of the cheater because he can gloss over what happened. Not a good thing. Many blessings to you!

    • TryingHard


      It’s a long story with regards to my sons. They aren’t children they are 37 and 39. While I love them I must never expect anything from them. They only want me for financial reasons. Both of them are very self centered and cruel to me. God help me if I need them when I am really old and incapacitated. Thank God for my grandsons mother. My younger sons ex wife. She is vey good to me. It’s really sad but all this came about since DDay. Just more collateral damage. And also I have my little grandson who adores me. Guess who’s in the will?

      I too am nice to everyone bit everyone is at arms length. People don’t seem to care. Especially my DIL which one is vey sweet but way WAY too involved with her sister, brother and her mother to pay 10 cents of attention to me except at holidays. Her mother gets very jealous if she does ANYTHING with us it’s weird. And my other DIL has Borderline Personality Disorder. Enough said on that one. So yes we put the fun in dysfunctional family!!!

      So just because someone is your blood doesn’t mean they care about you. At least not more than they care about themselves

      • Sarah P

        Hi Trying,
        I am really, really, really sorry to hear about your family situation– especially about your adult sons and your DIL’s and their families. That makes me very sad that you have a DIL with BPD and sons that seem to only care about financial gains. I bet your son who is married to her does all he can to keep his own head above water. Your grandson sounds like a real gem and there is nothing like a sweet little grandchild to soothe the heart of grandma. So glad you have him. 🙂 Big hugs to you, Trying, like like everyone else here, you are a trooper.

    • Tabs


      I agree with you, trauma will find a voice. And as of late, it’s been shouting. It really feels like I’m taking one step forward and two steps back….

    • TryingHard

      Thanks Sarah P.–Life certainly hasn’t turned out as I believed it would. It’s not all terrible with my sons just challenging. And coming from a family of all very attentive and doting daughters, being the mother of sons is NOT the same!!!

      I’ve learned to set the bar low on my expectations from others and high for myself.

      • Strengthrequired

        Th, hugs to you. I with you at keeping everyone at arms length, it is so much more peaceful. I used to give everyone the benefit of the doubt, and always treated everyone nicely. Now not so much. Rather keep to myself and stay away from all the drama.

      • Sarah P

        Hi Trying,
        It seems to be common for adult daughters to dote while sons usually end up having a primary relationship with their wives parents. I’m pretty sure western culture is the only place where this occurs. In traditional Japanese, Chinese, and Korean culture, the wife moves into the husbands parents house with the husband and is expected to go out on his parents. We have just the opposite in this culture and often times daughter-in-laws drive wedges. On the other hand, there are the nice daughter-in-law’s who have tried everything with their in laws and it’s the mother-in-law who is the persecutor. Sucks any way it’s sliced. All any of us can do is tend to our own lives and our own reactions and set expectations low. So you were doing the most sane thing, Trying. After I learned how to have no expectations with my own in-laws, life got better.

        And here is a notice for everyone:
        If anyone is interested in seeing a very compelling TV show about marriages and adultery, there is one that I watch. The most interesting part of the show is that a panel of therapists discuss the outcome of each dramatization and what couples experiencing these things in real life can do.

        The show is called Love and War 2. It’s a South Korean TV show with English subtitles. Some of my Korean friends pointed the show out to me and I am hooked. It can be seen on YouTube for free. It’s great! And the more I watch I realize that even if there are huge cultural and language differences, human nature is 100% the same wherever you go.

    • TryingHard


      I understand the cultural and even somewhat agree with it. But it hurts none the less. Fair warning to all the mothers of sons out there. Sad and true. LOL my sisters all have sons too and we see it. We even joke that when we are old in the nursing homes our sons will make sure to call before coming to see us to make sure we are still alive and it won’t be a wasted trip. We are dark humor ex like that.

      As I said I agree with a mans primary concern and connection is with his wife. As it should be. But just because you have love for ones wife there’s still room for your Mom. I think some DILs see Mom as competition. I’ve never wanted that. I want the wife to be first. I encourage it. We’ve done a lot for our sons probably too much. We should have pushed them out and stand on their own a long time ago. But we didn’t and we made it way too easy for them. It only bred contempt on everyone’s part. And as we all know when you start implementing boundaries people don’t like it. Well we are at an age where we have to start looking out for ourselves. The gravy train has to stop sometime. Mostly it’s ok but not a close relationship. I confide in them about nothing. They will not be the ones taking care of me when I’m old. I’d sooner off myself.

      My younger son hooked up with a girl during his divorce. One month after his divorce was final she announced she was pregnant. Great. He’s never dealt with any emotions of divorcing his high school sweetheart and now here he is trapped by someone he barely knew. She has made him cut ties with everyone he knew prior to her. His family, his friends and has made my ex DIL the enemy. She’s very cruel and cold to my grandson and denies us access to our grand daughter. Again I was good to her, accepted her, tried to be supportive and helped them buy a house. My therapist and I are convinced she’s truly Borderline Personality Disorder. So just call me lucky because on one end I have a MIL with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, very histrionic, a DIL with Borderline Personality Disorder and a husband who’s a covert narcissist and I’m an empath!!!! Haha, I’m a therapists fucking dream come true. AND I’m the only one going to therapy!!! I suppose I am a trooper, but at least I’m certain of who and what I’m dealing with. We’re it not for my grandson there are days I could pack it all in and run the hell away. He heard me talking to a friend that my h and I would like to buy a loft in Chicago. He became very concerned and asked if I was moving to Chicago. I said “no my darling just to visit and as an investment”. He said “grandma, promise me you will never move away from me.” I said “I promise you my love .” So I put on my big girl shoes and march on, for him. Maybe he will be in charge of my nursing home responsibilities if they all don’t kill me first!

    • TryingHard

      Jean— i was at 34 years when DDay happened. So i hear you with regards to this stage of life. Instead of planning retirement with your partner you’re navigating infidelity. Something we thought we’d managed to dodge, well because, time right?

      I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this stuff. It’s not right and it’s sure not fair. I don’t blame you for wanting to leave. I stayed for many reasons. Some days I’m glad i stayed, some not so much. I’m thinking those who leave Have similar thoughts. It’s a hard decision to make.

      When was your DDay Jean? Does your h want to stay or leave?

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