Letter from Still A Chump

Hi Pastor David,


I found your blog via Chump Lady. 


I know that this is not your blog’s stated purpose — you call it Divorce Minister after all — but I am trying to reconcile with my husband after his affair nearly 3 years ago. I read Chump Lady because I find that most of the infidelity sites are offensive to me. I was in an imperfect marriage trying the best I could with the information I had, and I refuse to say that I did anything to “drive him” to his affair. I also refuse to beg for his attention or whatever standing for your marriage crap they put out there. We now know that he is bipolar and he has been on medication for nearly 1 year now, and under the care of a psychiatrist and a psychologist since the Dday. We have been in marriage counseling since I let him move back into the house about 6 months after Dday. We have 3 young children together — now ages 15, 13, and 9 — and they were initially the only and remain a prominent reason why I chose to consider reconciliation.


I’m not sure exactly what my question is, really, except to say that it is a long road, a slow journey and a fairly lonely one too. I get some support from the CL universe as they understand the craziness, humiliation, and abuse that infidelity really is, but that support only goes so far. Leave a cheater, etc. My friends really do not understand for the most part — they either fall into the camp of why didn’t you leave him, or aren’t you over that yet? 


I find the reconciliation sites, as I said above, do not connect with me AT ALL. Do you have thoughts about true reconciliation for both parties in the marriage? My husband has been doing all that CL says — he is remorseful, has put in the hours, money and effort to address his mental health issues, he is engaged with me and our children in ways he NEVER was before the affair etc. He has apologized for his previous disengagement and his disparagement of me, my body and weight, etc.


For me, I feel a distance between us and I feel it is on my part. Is it just too broken to be repaired? Have I changed too much to do this? Is it worth the incremental slog and gradual improvements to keep on going? What does a successful marriage that has lasted decades look like even? We have been married 21 years. 


And perhaps I should add that I am a lapsed Catholic who has been very very disillusioned with the church for the child rape, etc. and I find a lot of modern Christianity is hypocritical, especially with regard to compassion, true compassion for the poor, the sick, the other (read GLBT, etc.). I grew up in the faith and have chosen my career and life on the commandment to “love one another as I have loved you” but I really don’t see that happening very much in this world at all. 


Thanks for your thoughts. 


Still A Chump


Dear Still A Chump (SAC),


While my blog is entitled “Divorce Minister,” I would not call this a pro-divorce website. I am no more for divorce than my God is for war. That said, God recognizes sometimes both are necessary to deal with the reality of evil and sin in the world. So, my blog does address the naive and unbiblical mindset that says otherwise.


To be clear: I believe adultery is the shameful act and not the faithful spouse choosing divorce following it.


Also, this blog is meant to be a place where adultery survivors can hear an evangelical pastor actually teach–hopefully healing–things about their experience whether or not they divorce in light of it. My blog tagline is “binding up the brokenhearted.” That is my hope for this site. I focus on divorce and adultery, because that is my experience and what I perceive are areas poorly addressed by evangelical pastors usually.


As to your specific questions, I really cannot answer them. Only you can decide whether or not it is worth it to you to take this long, hard path. As I read Scripture, you are not morally obligated to take this road after adultery. The choice is yours to make.


I have heard from a seasoned counselor who has worked with couples post-infidelity that working through the issues does have its benefits in the end. However, I believe this ending is only possible if one’s partner is truly contrite about the adultery.


Is your partner truly repentant or playing you again? I do not know. Judge his actions and not his words. It will still be a risk for you. I am not going to sit here and tell you otherwise. And I am not going to say it will be painless taking the long road to resurrecting the marriage after adultery. Personally, I believe all the good options for one’s marriage left the room after adultery took place.


Also, I will not tell you that you MUST or SHOULD work through this with your husband. I believe you have to make that decision before God. I am not the Holy Spirit. However, I think it may be helpful to consider this question:


Would you have peace walking away now?


From what you shared about your husband’s subsequent actions, I do not think I would be at peace walking away, if I were in your shoes. However, I am not you. You must choose for yourself.


My God still works miracles today. But it will be a resurrection and not a healing of your marriage in my opinion. Your husband’s adultery killed your marriage by murdering all innocent trust. It will never be the same again. My exhortation to you in this is to decide whether or not you want the miracle or want a divorce.


Make a decision and go for it.


I see no shame for you either way. You are free to choose.




Pastor David


PS If you do decide to stay and work on the marriage, I hope you continue to refuse to listen to those telling you to shut up and get over your pain. Ignoring the pain and damage of adultery does not result in true marital reconciliation–in my opinion–but rather a house built on denial and lies.

10 thoughts on “Letter from Still A Chump”

  1. Still a Chump, I noticed something in what you wrote: “We have 3 young children together — now ages 15, 13, and 9 — and they were initially the only and remain a prominent reason why I chose to consider reconciliation.” From what you wrote it sounds like your choice to reconcile wasn’t really for you, it was for your kids. They’re important and very affected by whichever decision you take, yes, but it was YOUR marriage, not someone else’s. It’s a heck of a lot harder to really put yourself into something when the motivator is external rather than internal. I wonder if this is part of the reason you’re feeling distant. Have you really, truly owned your decision for YOU? If you can honestly answer “yes,” then you could have a chance to pull through the hard road ahead if you so choose. If your answer is “no,” then the reconciliation road is futile because both parties are not fully in it.

  2. Still a Chump, I commend you for your effort.
    I would suggest to you that you read David’s Post regarding Faults Guilt.
    The reason I say this is because in your oppening parragraph you mention,
    ‘ I was in an imperfect marriage trying the best I could with the information I had, and I refuse to say that I did anything to “drive him” to his affair. I also refuse to beg for his attention or whatever standing for your marriage crap they put out there’. When I read this I question if you, in all honesty could change the phrasing in these two sentences from ‘ I refuse to say’ to ‘ I know I didn’t’ or ‘ I refuse to beg’ to ‘I have no reason to beg’ I am saying this because there is a big gap between head knowledge and heart knowledge and refusal is often a denial where knowing is an acceptance. I personally believe this is where the distance you are experiencing is comming from, have you accepted that you hold no blame in this? You did what you could in your marraige with the information you had! no-one could ask anything more of you. As humans in crisis we take in everything around us to make sense of what is happeining and we begin a large game of cerebral ‘what if’.
    Please read the other posts on this site and stay also at CL. we may not be in the room with you but we have your back.
    Sammie D

  3. I will pray for you. I wanted nothing more than to reconcile for my children. Not me. I could never trust him. But I even think after all of the horrific things he did I old take him back so my boys ( ages 15,15,13) could have their father. But ya know what. I couldn’t let my boys see that it was ok to treat someone like that. We don’t cheat, steal, deceive. It took almost 4 years for me to say. I can be a mother and a father to my boys. They will go off to college, have families of their own. I need them to be wonderful men, Christians, husbands, fathers, sons, men in society. RESPECT. For others and yourself. Women tend to put everyone’s needs before their own. You CAN’T. I was provided for, I had to learn to do that for myself. It sucks. But you can do it. He needs to fix himself. You CAN’T fix him.

  4. Very good comments above. Well stated Sammie D. I was a single mom for 3 years. It’s not easy but it can be done. I pulled in my support system. If it weren’t for my parents being willing to take me and my daughter in I don’t know where I’d be. There’s a lot of strength that you discover in yourself though, even when it’s not the path you would have liked to be on. My situation was different, I wasn’t married, her dad was (and still is) in another country. I didn’t know what it was like to have a man present until very recently when DM and I married. I know many other single moms who didn’t have the support system I had and wow are they strong. You’ve got lots to ponder Still A Chump, but you are strong and you will have power, whichever road you choose.

  5. I pray for your discernment with this decision and I would like to share why I feel so strongly about it. After a full psychotic breakdown, my then husband of 28 years was misdiagnosed as bi-polar at 57 years of age. I’ll never forget the first psychiatric appointment I attended with him where the doctor said, “you’re having your first manic break at 57 years old? This just doesn’t make sense. This disease almost always shows up in your early 20’s.” Nevertheless, the doctors stuck with the diagnosis and I stuck by my mean, angry, detached, abusive and pharmaceutically drugged up spouse because these same doctors kept telling me he would return to being his “old self” when they got the medications “titrated” correctly. Well, that didn’t happen and his behavior got worse, not only to me, but also to our teenage son. After nearly two years of me tolerating horrible treatment and living in fear and sheer misery because I promised God to stand by him in sickness and health, I happened to stumble upon a text message conversation he was having with a woman he had clearly had an intimate relationship with while he was working at his high-level executive position. A few months earlier, despite many years of tremendous sales success, he had been fired for “cause” from his job, which he explained away to me as his employer was “threatened” by his previous success and they were “concerned” about his newly diagnosed mental illness and customer interaction. At the time, I believed all of it and assured him we would get through this together and now he could be free to fully recover from his breakdown and ultimately be happier living with less pressure. Oh, how I lacked the spiritual discernment I should have had! To make a long story short, what unfolded before my very eyes with undisputable evidence over the next 18 months was the revelation that his breakdown wasn’t due to him having bi-polar disorder. It was due to him keeping 25 years of “traveling salesman” secrets that included multiple affairs with many customers and co-workers, a ten year serious cocaine habit that he enjoyed with my now-deceased brother, a porn addiction, and God knows what else demented behavior. This man, who pretended to be a loyal, honorable, loving husband who adored me and our sons actually lived an entirely different life “on the road.” I truly believe God delivered me from deception by my accidental discovery of that text message as I would have stuck by him because that is what I thought my marriage covenant meant! Today, my now ex-husband is off all psychiatric medications, no longer sees any therapist or psychiatrist, has lost 75 lbs. and is once-again active, back working and back to his “old self”, takes testosterone injections, buys Viagra from a Canadian pharmacy, and lives with a woman who is 16 years younger than him. In short; he’s back baby! My point is that this man was willing to “cop out” to a mental illness he didn’t have and take all of these psychiatric medications that left him in a “zombie-like” state never wanting to work or do anything again, rather than admit the truth of who he really is. My own therapist has informed me that rather than being bi-polar, he has narcissistic personality disorder which is a character disorder that cannot be cured. The negative financial, personal health, and family consequences I have suffered due to his poor choices have been huge and wouldn’t have been nearly so bad had I not been so blindly loyal to him and our marriage vows. Please, please pray for your own spiritual discernment and do not automatically buy the bi-polar diagnosis. Remember, like a computer, if you input bad data, you get bad analysis. Mental health professionals don’t always get it right when they have been lied to.

  6. Dear all,
    Thank you for your kind and generous words. I read this column and responses with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes. This is such a lonely journey! To Bamboozled, thank you for your concern and I am sorry for what you suffered. Please know that we are confident in my husband’s diagnosis as it has been confirmed by 3 mental health professionals, runs in his family, and is consistent with his past behavior prior to the affair. Also the medication has helped dramatically.

    One of the challenges for me is simply the slow journey to forgiveness. I find it a very hard thing to do and yet it is a thing I intellectually want to do. I want to be a person who forgives when another demonstrates remorse. I want to give my children an intact family if I can. I guess the “for me” part is to live and be the kind of person that I want to be — and that includes being a person who forgives in the face of real remorse. These are values that are important to me and right now I think I would be tortured by wondering if I did the right thing, if I choose divorce now. Honestly I think it would have been easier to choose divorce in the immediate aftermath!

  7. Hi all! DM, I’m in a similar situation where my H is showing remorse for his 14 month adulterous affair, lies and poor behaviors before and during the affair. He’s been faithfully receiving counseling professionally and from our pastor and was baptized. I am very reluctant to believe it as he pretended to be a good person throughout the affair, but I’ve been coming around gradually. THEN, last night I woke up with our newborn and start moving around. Once I got resettled, I noticed my cell phone and a notebook where I write prayers (private thoughts) were missing, so I called out to him in his room and he brought them into me. Apparently, he stole those items from my room around 1am and when he was ready to return them, I was awake, so he hid them hoping I’d go back to sleep without noticing. His excuse? He took those items to pray over them in case I was using the cell phone for evil purposes and the notebook to reveal myself. I honestly think he wanted to snoop, but I am not the unfaithful spouse…why am I on trial? Also, does his story sound logical to anyone?

    1. J,

      I responded indirectly in today’s post. Link here: http://www.divorceminister.com/no-honor-among-thieves/

      You might want to dig a little. It is suspicious that he would do this so secretly. If he is concerned, then the adult way is to ask you for permission. I am concerned about his line because it begs the question of whether that sort of cheating is what he would or is doing right now. How sure are you that he is open and honest right now? Has he given you access to his email, cell phone, etc? Are you sure you have all accounts?

      It may just be left-overs of his own guilty conscious. However, I recommend looking quietly to see if there’s something more happening. Getting dirt on you would likely help him get the pastor to ease off the pressure, for example.


    2. J-that’s a lame response from him. I would be hesitant in your “coming around” b/c if he was really doing the heavy lifting and owning his actions, he’d have no reason to take your phone and notebook without your permission. That’s a sneaky thing to do and smells fishy to me. You’re not the one on trial. Humility does not respond with “I’m trying to see if you’re up to no good” when confronted with his action of secretly taking your stuff after he committed adultery. Humility on his part would be 1) respecting your stuff/asking permission 2) even if there were angry things written about him in the notebook he’d recognize that it’s deserved and wouldn’t question it. He’d let you be angry and leave your grieving process alone (see more here.) An ulterior motive however, does respond the way he did. I bet he’s looking for dirt.

  8. Thanks! I love today’s post and it makes a lot of sense. According to him, I have access to everything, but whoever truly knows?! Thank you for quick response!

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