“Can we meet up to discuss what went wrong in our marriage?”


More than a year after the divorce and after I had married Mrs. DM, I was contacted by my ex-wife out of the blue. She was contacting me to ostensibly gain closure and understand why our marriage ended. My ex-wife wanted to meet up to rehash our relationship in person. Her inquest was essentially:

Can we meet up in person to discuss what went wrong in our marriage?

I did not agree to meet (more on that later). But I have subsequently learned this move is not unique to my own experience. I learned this fact of commonality from a post on Chump Lady this past week (link here). Apparently, The Cheater’s Guidebook has a chapter dedicated to this demonic ploy.

Time to dissect this ploy:

1. Beware of the false front!

A false front comes from the Wild West in the history of the United States. Buildings that were only one story high would have fronts that made them look larger than they actually were. These were false fronts. The building was not as advertised.

This is true about a cheating ex seeking to have a sit-down about “what happened.” It may look like reconciliation. Perhaps, they couch it as a healing or growth experience for you both. Maybe they even include a counselor or pastor in this meeting to give it more legitimacy. Perhaps it is presented as “for the kids” sort of scenario. Sounds reasonable, right?

Do not take the bait! 

While some parts of this may be legit–i.e. they may cope to some wrongdoing–remember that a trap needs some bait. The false front hid one story of a real building, after all.

This leads us to point two…

2. The request to meet to discuss “what happened” is very revealing.

It reals some very important pieces about the cheater’s position. This is important to note both for faithful spouses and pastors/Christian counselors who may be involved with such cheaters.

A) This reveals the adulterous ex-spouse does not grasp the gravity of what he or she did. By asking this question, they are demonstrating a minimization of what they did. The adulterous ex-spouse is treating her adulterous sins as merely a contributor to the marriage’s end as opposed to the scorch-earth, contemptuous, soul-raping act it was. The fact they committed adultery and/or continued to commit adultery ought to be a sufficient explanation to a contrite adulterous spouse as to why the marriage ended in divorce. That is all the reason God needed to end a marriage in the Old Testament (e.g. Deuteronomy 22:22). Adultery is that serious.

B) This reveals the adulterous ex-spouse is not taking full responsibility for his or her adulterous sins. They are likely about to attempt to convince the faithful spouse of “The Shared Responsibility Lie” trying to offload responsibility for their adulterous sins onto the faithful spouse.

No wise pastor or Christian counselor ought to be party to such wickedness. 

Someone who is repentant recognizes a just consequence of committing the heinous sin of adultery may very well be the end of his or her marriage. It is not a great mystery when such a marriage ends following adultery. The only real “mystery” is why the adulterous ex-spouse continues to refuse to take full responsibility for the destruction their sinful choices wrought.

My advice to pastors and faithful spouses who may find themselves confront with this ploy is:

Set your boundaries firmly. 

Such a meeting will result in no good as long as one party clearly does not grasp the gravity of his/her sin and is unwilling to take full responsibility for it. To go to such a meeting is to welcome further victimization, and to support such a meeting is to facilitate further emotional brutalization of a faithful spouse. It also is poor soul care for the adulterous ex-spouse who needs to grow in owning his or her sin and recognizing the consequences that flow from them.



9 thoughts on ““Can we meet up to discuss what went wrong in our marriage?””

  1. Very often the faithful partner carries a burning desire to find out why they were left. They are suckers for this tactic. The fact that your spouse cheated is your answer.
    Listen to it.
    Feel fortunate that you “shook the hook” and are free from this abuse!

  2. Ive been having this nagging feeling like this is going to happen to me soon. Then came the post on Chumplady and now yours.

    DM, can I ask how did you turned her down? I’m afraid that once two way communication of any kind is established then some boundaries have already been broken. From there on she may not leave me alone. I don’t want to have to change all my contact info again and I certainly cannot afford to move.

    It’s been 6 months since she left and 4 months since divorce and I’m entering another vulnerable stage. I’m beginning to really miss her. I keep telling myself what I’m missing is a mirage of a person and that who she is is something completely different. Now is a good time for the enemy to attack.

    1. Michael,

      I sent her an email and refused to respond to her after I sent it. The last part is hard as she might try to manipulate you into a longer exchange.

      Do not do it!

      You could always ignore the inquest or simply answer it “No.” She is not entitled even to that short of a reply. Also, it may be good to remind yourself why you are no longer married to her–i.e. lack of empathy, cheating, etc. Do not willing open the door to further emotional beatings by agreeing to such a meeting or continuing the conversation after a clear “No.”

      If it helps, this is what I wrote to my ex-wife:

      Ms. [X-Wife],

      Due to the circumstances of our divorce, I am not surprised to learn that you have no peace and need closure concerning it. While I am not glad that you are suffering, I am glad for what I hope this means: namely, the Holy Spirit is still at work in your heart, and you fully desire to reconnect with Him.

      That said, your email implies confusion over what ended our marriage. It is not unclear. You said “Yes” to adulterous relationships, lies, and divorce, and rebelliously “No” to God, reconciliation, and righteousness. This rebellious “No” meant the severing of relationships–both with God and me. If you truly seek peace and closure, I suggest you turn inwards to seek out what motivated your rebellious choices to say “No.” I am not responsible for this work. And I cannot help you in that since I do not know your heart. But thankfully, God who is full of mercy and grace does know your heart and can help you.

      Today, I am a different man in many good ways including being at peace with myself and being free of all soul-ties to you. I am proof that God can redeem even a painful ending of a marriage. The divorce was a manifestation of mercy for me, insofar as it allowed me to move on and say “Yes” to God in new ways, and receive God’s “Yes” and love in the form of my new wife and family. Aubree, my wife, is grateful for the grace-filled man that she discovered coming out of our divorce. I hope some day you are able to look in the mirror as I did and let God refine you to a similar place of grace in the Lord.

      As I have now said “Yes” to [Mrs. DM] and her daughter making myself responsible to them, I cannot say “Yes” to a meeting with you. This is a sad consequence to your long, protracted “No.” That door is closed. Our relationship is severed. We are divorced. Like I told you in September 2012, I respect your decision to say “No” to me, and I cannot be your friend due to your regretful choices.

      May God grant you the courage to look in the mirror and help you give the gift of honesty to yourself!

      Rev. [DM]

      PS If your ex is at all like mine, this will really anger her. Saying “No” to such people is not welcomed by them. But that is what setting our boundaries is about. It is what adults do even if a “kid” throws a tantrum.

      1. Thank you David. As usual you have eased my mind. And thank you for the above and beyond level of candidness.

    2. Michael,

      If she does make this (incredibly stupid!) request of you in the future, my suggestion is:


      And then go read through CL & DM’s archives! Perhaps a little Dr. Simon thrown in for good measure. Just do not break the SILENCE!

      NO reply is needed! (IMHO)
      Not even an acknowledgement that you received the request.

      Your missing her is normal. Been there / done that. Got past it. Did not cave.

      SOOOO much better without that kind of demonic garbage in my life. Remember, Tuesday will come…..

      Forge on, Michael…..

      1. I agree with ForgeOn! here. Silence is likely the best option with her.

        Also, it is perfectly normal to miss “her” or whatever image you had of “her.” That is part of the grief process. You invested your heart even though she trashed it. Such a deep investment comes with strong feelings of missing what you had…even if it was only a mirage.

        Keep going…don’t give in! Allow yourself to grieve…but do not open the door again to further madness. Dr. Simon would be an excellent resource in these things as ForgeOn! suggests.

        It does get better. That day will come and then you will wonder how you ever put up with that junk from her looking back.


        1. Thanks you to you both. CL, DM, and the good Dr has been incredible resources to me all throughout this ordeal. I read a lot of junk out there before I found these. It’s all so clear now.

          The only way my ex can make contact is if she comes to my door (I’ve changed all my contact info since the divorce), which I imagine would make things more difficult for me – actually having face to face contact. I guess I’ll just not answer the door or worse comes to worse, get a restraining order.

          She could email me at work but I don’t think she would do that. Then again I didn’t think she would do the things she did so who knows.

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