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I’ve made an ultimatum for my cheating husband. Is it reasonable?

Tagged as: Cheating, Marriage problems, Troubled relationships, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (30 May 2018) 18 Answers - (Newest, 1 June 2018)
A female United States age 36-40, anonymous writes:

Hello Cupids,

Short question. My husband, who I have been with for 13 years, compulsively cheats on me. Last time, I kicked him out and begged him to get therapy, which he said he would. He didn’t, but kept telling me he planned to. Things got better between us, though he still maintained his apartment.

Anyways fast forward to now - he has cheated AGAIN.

I had said that last time was the last straw, but here we are and I want to do the probably stupid thing: lying down a final ultimatum. We have two small children, and when he isn’t in Manic mode (he has been diagnosed with depression and being bipolar), he’s great. Our family has so much fun together, and he’s a great father. He’s also a lot of fun to hang out with, the sex is great and he offers me the intellectual compatibility I want.

So, my question is regarding my ultimatum, or List Of demands, as it were. Are they reasonable? I want him to:

- sign up for personal and marital therapy

- take down tokens (a painting and another little gift) from his last emotional affair

- replace his wedding ring and wear it (he lost it while surfing years ago and has yet to get a new one because they’re just “not as good” as his last one)

- transparency (passwords to social media, phone, etc. this is where he always conducts his shady business)

- apologize to me, his friend (he cheated on me in front of a friend that has known us both since we got together and said that the friend was clearly super uncomfortable), his family (while they were here from out of state, I was entertaining his parents and watching the kids, while he was spending hours texting another woman).

I have been waiting a year and a half for him to get therapy. This time, I want to tell him that he has three days. And if he hasn’t done the things, that he’s out of the family.

I’m heartbroken. And furious. At him. At myself. Ugh.

He is great when his pendulum is centered. And I can deal with the depression. But manic mode creates this total jackass. Both pregnancies, he found some girl to spend months texting and toeing the line (skin on skin massages, plans to meet and hookup, etc.)

I have been so clear that other women are NOT OKAY. If he needs to go to a strip club now and then, fine. I’m pretty easy going. I’m sure that doesn’t interest him as much, because he enjoys the individual attention, the ego stroke of it all.

Anyway, is my list reasonable? And timeline? I know this sounds bad on paper, but even though right now I hate him, I do love him, he is a great Dad, and he is my best friend. He’s just kind of also a jerk.

View related questions: affair, best friend, cheated on me, heartbroken, text, wedding

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A female reader, Ms Badger New Zealand +, writes (1 June 2018):

From what you've written there is no indication that he will do anything to take on board your requests, especially as you'll be demonstrating that 'ultimatum' and 'last straw' don't actually mean that.

I can't imagine how hard it would be to consider uprooting your whole home life so I'm not going to just blithely suggest you to leave him, even if I see it as the obvious solution.

However I would ask you to consider a few things:

- what is this situation teaching your children about respect? If he respected you he would have sought therapy and help. If he respected you he wouldn't be texting another woman while you entertain his family. How will you be able to parent effectively when your children are watching him disrespect you?

-his behaviour has probably undermined your confidence and self-belief but you are stronger than you think. Imagine living without the weight of all of this. Why do you have to do all the heavy lifting?

-he will not change as the current situation stands. Why would he? He can treat you so badly and you still take it. You need to make a change or you need to accept that this is your life. And you deserve more.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

Leave him. Life is too short to waste on selfish idiots. Find counselling for yourself, organise your finances, pack your bag and go. Good luck.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

He sounds like a sociopath!! You deserve better. Run.

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A male reader, N91 United Kingdom + , writes (31 May 2018):

N91 agony auntWhat are you expecting to change?

He is cheating on you without consequence. What are you not understanding? Even if he agrees to all that stuff, which I have to say seems absolutely pointless, does that mean he will guaranteed stop cheating? Highly doubtful.

You keep taking him back no matter what he does so why would he stop? You’re a pushover. The only thing to do here is divorce this guy and find someone that can keep his dick in his pants. Just because you love someone doesn’t mean they’re a good match for you.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

Your guy is presumably charismatic and attractive and knows how to get what he wants.

You have been living in a one sided relationship where he thinks its ok to cheat but would go crazy if you did.

This is exactly how it will always be.

He needs a background woman to do everything in the home while he engages in romantic forays.

Ultimatums are useless because he can wind you round his little finger.

If you want to continue that way then you can, if not then see a divorce lawyer and cite infedelity or irreconcilable differences.

But I dont think you are actually married according to the law.

He probably is husband to you in all other senses.

So if you want to protract this relationship for its good bits then go ahead and if you must issue an ultimatum then it had better be marry me now or take your cheating arse and go.

But as he charms the living daylights out of you its most likely that you are incapable of leaving him.

As the choice is yours and you are happy with what you get, its unlikely that you will leave him.

If you were legally married then you could at least legally divorce but you are in that murky inbetween where you take all the responsiblity and he does not.

Your man wont benefit from counselling but you would as you would have the chance to discuss the nuances of a relationship with a womaniser. And see if you have any other options to conduct your life separately.

Currently you feel that the good times out weigh the bad, but basically you are in the enabler trap and you really dont want to rock the relationship boat.

And I understand that with young children you prefer to continue with the committed relationship illussion whilst knowing he is sniffing round any skirt.

But I understand where you are coming from and how much you wish to maintain the appearance of normality.

You could both contiue like this for years to come,but one day you will probably snap and turn your back on him forever.

Meanwhile he is quite happy to take his chances elsewhere.

Maybe you should continue as you are as you dont sound as though you are done with him yet.

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A female reader, Youcannotbeserious United Kingdom + , writes (31 May 2018):

Youcannotbeserious agony auntI didn't even bother reading down the list because it seems completely pointless.

You keep giving your husband ultimatums you don't stand by. What is the point? He KNOWS you will take him back, regardless of how he behaves. It is all hot air on your part and pointless posturing.

Your husband has no incentive to change because he knows you will huff and puff about his latest indiscretion but then, given time, you will take him back regardless. This will carry on and on until you actually take a stand.

Your question is irrelevant. You are allowing him to walk all over you - and he is taking full advantage. Why would he not?

The best definition of insanity I have read is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. This is you.

I would advise kicking his cheating arse out and reclaiming control of your life but I know it will be pointless. Just keep giving him ultimatums you have no intention of standing by and keep taking him back because you believe life with him is better than life without him.

I hope you have regular sex health checks. Your children need their mother.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

'The sex is great' it will be he is getting plenty of practice elsewhere. You are deluding yourself if you think he is going to change, he even has a ready made excuse which you fall back on. He has chosen to keep his apartment because he likes that side of his life and is not committed to you, no doubt he comes back for the children and because you are loyal to him. That's the truth about your man.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

Your list is very reasonable, and your husband will probably tell you exactly what you want to hear to placate you.

But "final ultimatum"is an oxymoron; it implies that you've previously delivered an ultimatum (or ultimati) and failed to back it up, so you're kidding yourself if think he's going to change because he knows you'll keep making excuses and rationalizations for his behavior until you finally wise up and dump him (or not).

As to his being such a great father, do you really want him to teach your children by example that it is normal and expected behavior for men to lie and cheat and disrespect women? And do you want to teach them it's normal and expected behavior for women to serve as doormats?

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

I'm sorry to say this but you should just dump him! Life is too short to settle for this crap.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

As I see it you have only two choices . Either file for divorce on the grounds of adultry which you will be granted immediately with the custody of your children, or accept his cheating ways and stay with him. Which one do you you think you can put up with?

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A male reader, TylerSage United States +, writes (31 May 2018):

TylerSage agony auntSomeone who truly loves you would never repeatedly put themselves in a situation which could cause them to loose you. The man blatantly has keepsakes from his lovers in your face for crying out loud.

You cannot control the actions of others, husband or not. You can only control your actions and it's clear that you put up with his crap over and over and over again. Men aren't interested in women who put up with their foolishness, it's a turn off, the very same way women are turned off by men who are too nice. It's gets boring and pathetic real fast. Let your YES mean YES and your NO mean NO.

Listing demands will not help, if anything it will only make things worse. Have you not already listed demands time and time and time again? If it didn't hit the first time, I doubt it will have much effect later on. You're aiming to control him like a puppet and FORCING him to do things I don't think he really cares to do. When somebody acts like they don't care, believe them.

"Attachment leads to jealousy. The shadow of greed that is. Train yourself to let go of everything you fear to loose." -Yoda, Star Wars

We tend to loose the things we desperately cling to. Learn to let go and find happiness within yourself, not from others.

All the best.

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A female reader, femmenoir Australia +, writes (31 May 2018):

femmenoir agony auntI should add,

Your husband doesn't RESPECT you, BEcause you NEVER STAND BY WHAT YOU SAY.

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A female reader, femmenoir Australia +, writes (31 May 2018):

femmenoir agony auntHonestly, you are wasting your time even thinking that your husband will ever change.

He can't and he won't! It's that simple.

He is "addicted", he is a serial cheater, liar and manipulator.

He knows how to play his cards very well and he also knows, each time he screws up, it'll be ok, because you will always remain and put up with it, which you have been doing and will continue to do.

You do know, your husband has very little to no RESPECT for you.

You may think he does, but he DOES NOT.

A man who truly loves, honours, respects and values his wife, his marriage and his family, simply wouldn't do anything adverse to hurt any of them.

I guarantee, if you checked his mob ph and his inbox right now, you would see a number of negative things that you DON'T want to see.

I know we should never "snoop", but in your case, your husband has given you EVERY RIGHT to.

Also, i am confused by the fact that your husband has his own apartment.

This is quite strange, given that you're both married and have been together so many years.

I am sure that he takes other women to his apartment and sleeps with them.

That's pretty much a given and is quite obvious.

He may tell you "otherwise", however, he's not the least but trustworthy, so how could you know he's telling the truth anyway?

He won't ever get rid of his apartment, because that's where he goes to connect with other women in various ways and also, just incase you do decide to kick him out.

This tells me, he's not ever going to change, he has NO plans to and he's very aware that SOMEDAY, you may just wake up to yourself and ACTUALLY kick him out.

My honest opinion, your husband is NEVER GOING TO CHANGE.

Either you carry out an "ultimatum" and stick to your guns by ACTUALLY doing what you say you'll do, or you REMAIN within your marriage and TOLERATE/PUT UP WITH your husbands cheating for the rest of your life.

THIS is the real truth of what you're contending with.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

Sorry, but any and all ultimatums fail and will fail over and over again because this cheater is ADDICTED to the high of feeling good about himself through his numerous, and continual conquests. He has a problem. You will never be enough for him. The next woman won't be either. He is never going to find fulfillment because he is deep down broken and void of self love and self respect. He pretends to do the work or pretends to feel remorse because he likes the comforts of his life. But he also wants to indulge in his part time hobby, the recreational sex which makes him feel alive. No man is going to give up side sex if he can get away with it. Even if his wife knows about it! He will pretend he is walking the straight and narrow and even give it his best shot if he was caught and selfish enough to want it all, but he will fail.

As a mistress, I can attest to the chemical high an affair produces. I can attest to it being an addiction. I can attest that you get hooked on it and it would require the strength of a saint to stop. It is the very same thing for the mistress as it is the cheating husband. He wants to feel wanted, needed and special. He loves to see himself through the adoring eyes of a mistress. A woman who is new and exciting to him and does not see his flaws in everyday life. He wants to be a fantasy figure and a super hero to her. It is all about his ego! A wife can no longer do any of this for the man after years of marriage and children together. It's not her fault. We will all end up this way eventually when the shine wears off us. Mistress, wife... any woman men like this use for their pleasure and egotistical purposes. Life becomes, well, mundane and predictable. And men need excitement again. They need illicit sex. They will always have their eye out. They need the escape from all the responsibilities of married life. And mostly, they need to escape their own mortality and need to know they've still got it. And not from the wife but from another woman or other women.

You cannot fight this pull inside him. You just can't. It will be a losing battle. And it will drain you and exhaust you and eat away any tiny bit of remaining self esteem and joy you once had. Why do you need to punish yourself and sacrifice your own well being to keep this piece of trash??

I do not get wives. Why do they feel this desperate need to hang onto this husband who has proven time and again he cannot be trusted. And all he does is hurt you and his family. Fucking other women, while cold heartedly shutting you off, not caring one bit about hurting you so cruelly? What kind of a man is this? He is a MONSTER. And he is not worth giving ultimatums to. I think you need to redirect this energy into yourself and figuring out why you are feeling so unworthy and empty that you would settle for this jerk? It does not matter he is your husband or you have a history. Some things are unforgiveable. And it takes true strength to walk away, not duke it out in the ring with a loser!! He just ain't worth it. And love does not conquer all. A smart woman knows when a man is not worthy of her or her love. A smart woman walks away. That will be his poetic justice, his ultimate punishment. You have already given him too many chances. Now it is time for him to learn his lesson. Stop enabling him! Stop allowing him to keep doing this to you! Don't you see that?

I am a mistress and I grow more and more resentful everyday of my lover for what he is doing to me. And to his wife! I have no respect for him. And I am a mistress! I am thinking of kicking his ass OUT! Now, why don't you do the same thing? Men like this use women for their own enjoyment. They do not know the meaning of respect, love or commitment. They are beyond repair. Men should not be a fixer upper project. They should know, without you having to beat them over the head, that you deserve the best of everything. And being a good, honest and decent man who LOVES you, they should be doing all they can to make you happy. To treat you right. Never to do anything which they know will cause you pain. That is a REAL man. These cheating cowards are a waste of time and space. They have no concept of what it means to be in a committed relationship. They are only out for themselves and have no empathy for anyone else. They will turn the tables on you if you are unhappy or accuse them of wrong doing. They will blame you when in fact, it is their cheating ways that pushed you away to begin with. And it will always be their fault but they will blame you for cheating. How pathetic that they attempt to tear you down in order to get away with and justify the shit they do!

If you stay with him, you will allow him to destroy whatever inner peace and self respect is left. Not much, is it? He has emptied out all of the good in you. I am pretty sure you are no longer that woman you used to be. She has been lost at his hands. Don't you want to find her again? The happy, whole and innocent you that you used to be before this monster came along and fucked you all up? And you have allowed it. I think you need to get to therapy and take care of you. Find yourself and your centre again. Forget about him for once. Forget about him once and for all. He has had enough chances. NO MORE.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (31 May 2018):

Honeypie agony auntEDIT....

Are your "demands" resolvable? Sure.

Should have read :

Are your "demands" reasonable? Sure.

Guess spellcheck hit me too!!

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A reader, anonymous, writes (31 May 2018):

I think you're stalling. Your ultimatums are reasonable, but he has been given too many chances for any of them to have any traction.

He's an unstable person, he doesn't really care about your ultimatums; and in spite of your feelings for him, he doesn't honor your marriage.

He is an unhealthy example for your children. Your home environment is unstable. To add insult to injury; he maintains his own apartment, just in-case you kick him out.

I'm so sorry. You've given him too many chances; and he calls your bluff. He can always fallback on his mental illness as his excuse for cheating. All the more reason to kick his ass to the curb.

I can't tell you what you might want to hear. You haven't reached the final conclusion that he's not going to change.

So, offer him your plan. Give him two weeks; meanwhile, contact yourself a good divorce attorney.

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A female reader, Honeypie United States + , writes (31 May 2018):

Honeypie agony auntAre your "demands" resolvable? Sure.

Realistic? No.

This is a habit with him. You have even called it compulsory yourself so you KNOW there is a tiny tiny chance that he will EVER change.

Have you ever tried quitting smoking? Eating junkfood? Gambling? Or doing thing to ALTER WHO you are for someone else? If you have you know it's darn near impossible to sustain over long time. You might be able to do it for a short while but most of us revert into old patterns and behaviors, UNLESS WE are the ones who WANT to make that change for YOURSELVES.

He KNOWS he is hurting you. He KNOWS he is hurting his kids, the family and friends... BUT that hasn't stopped him before so really... why do you think he would stop now? HE puts YOUR health at risk by sleeping around and don't seem to give a single F.

YOU have "forgiven" him OVER and OVER - so he KNOWS that your "bark" is as tame as your "bite". You aren't REALLY going to divorce him and kick him out.

No man NEEDS to go to strip clubs, for GOODNESS SAKE! So you are even backtracking on the boundaries you want.

Is he on any kind of medication for his mental condition? For the mania? The bipolar? If not, why not?

I'm sorry to sound like a total Debbie Downer but I think you are being unrealistic that he will change and you are NOT putting you OR your kids first either.

You are staying with him because you love PARTS of him and then you hope you can "change" the parts you don't. THAT is not how life or people work.

Is it worth a try? Sure why not? Since I don't think you really will leave him regardless... MAYBE some more realistic boundaries could be in order.

I don't really think couples therapy will help, I don't think he will listen. He isn't listening to you. You are like Charlie Brown Wah wah wah when it comes to HIS behavior.

Don't give someone an ultimatum if you don't REALLY intend on sticking to it, that means... IF you are SERIOUS... then you also need to prepare you and your family for when he fails. (because I think he will). Can you stick to your gun on that?

I HOPE it will work for you, and I think it's really nice that you are such an optimistic person. But I think reality is not so easy.

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A female reader, mystiquek United States + , writes (31 May 2018):

mystiquek agony auntI don't think an ultimatum will work. He's a serial cheater. He knows he can cheat and you will take him back. So STOP taking him back. Tell him this is more and its OVER. You have to mean it though. It will never work if you back down every time. Good luck. I divorced a man like your husband. I got tired of the lies

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