Kids and the Affair Partner(s). The Unavoidable Shit Sandwich.

by Chump Lady on March 18, 2013

How do I protect my kids from my spouse’s affair partner(s)? How do I shield my kids deal from this new blended family that’s been inflicted on them? And…Hell, we’re not even divorced, and he’s introducing the kids to my replacement. What can I do?

I get these questions a lot. And I have the same head banging answer of disappointment — Nothing.

NOTHING?! Are you fucking kidding me?! I get cheated on, lied to, lose half of all my worldly possessions in a divorce AND THAT DOUCHEBAG AFFAIR PARTNER gets to be around my kids?

Uh huh. Yep.

Introducing the shit sandwich you can’t avoid — What Other People Do.

Once you are divorced, you don’t get to control what goes on at your ex-spouses’s house or how they parent. You don’t control who they date (even if they were dating that person while you were married). You don’t control how many fuckbuddies they cycle through each season. You don’t control how many of them get introduced over breakfast to your kids.

Yes, if you’re lucky, you can write into your divorce decree that your ex cannot have overnight visitors, or provisions around sleeping arrangements. I had a judge write this into a custody decree with my ex, and I didn’t even ask for it. The judge just had a thing about unmarried parents having sleep overs with paramours while having custodial time with children. So it’s there. Despite the fact that, in my particular case I don’t care. My ex has dated the same woman for 9 years and she’s the more competent adult between the two of them. He’s violated the order every summer vacation. And if I cared, you know what my options would be? To hire an expensive lawyer and try and hold him in contempt. Spend thousands for a hearing. To do what? Have a judge fine him? If I’m lucky pay my attorney’s fees? (that’s never happened to me, btw, in over a decade of being sued by a mentally ill pro se person). Tell him sternly not to do it again? Spend a life being the ex-spouse police and monitoring how he spends his evenings and with whom? Documenting it all and going to court?

By all means, while you are divorcing use evidence of the cheating and the introducing of affair partners as reasons for why you should have custody and decision making. Some judges care. But many do not. But once you have that divorce decree and that order — even if it has provisions for “visitors” — enforcing it is up to you. And that depends on how deep your pockets are.

Judges see a lot worse. They see horrific child abuse, addiction, unspeakable drama. Unless this person is a criminal or is putting the child in imminent danger, courts don’t care. You saying the person has crap morals and is a slutty home wrecker and should be kept from your kids makes you look like the batshit crazy person.

I know that is hideously unjust. Because what is the most precious thing to you? Your kids! It’s one thing to have your marriage broken up, your bedroom defiled, your finances decimated because of infidelity — but to touch your KIDS? Protecting them from hurt is primal. Clearly cheaters don’t think of this at all. And it pisses me off to no end that so many cheaters eat cake EXACTLY because they figure you would never put your children through a divorce. Which they’re quite happy to pin on YOU (which is why so many of them drag their feet, much better if you’re the Bad Guy).

And I’m sure a lot of “reconciliation” is undertaken with the express purpose of  folks being goddamned if they’ll let the Other Person touch their kids. Understandable, but wrong headed.

Children eat the biggest shit sandwich with infidelity. Their families are broken up by divorce, their allegiances confused — all we can do in response is be the best parent we can be. That’s all we get to control — ourselves.

And it’s a lot to ask of a chump — to be the sanest, most together, consistent parent after DDay. To not bad mouth the person who has just gutted us. To not try to protect your kids from the affair partner who aided and abetted in the destruction of their family. It’s a Herculean task of sanity. And yeah, it’s fucking unfair.

If you haven’t achieved “meh” about your ex, fake it around your kids. IMO, it’s okay to tell them why you’re divorcing (i.e., “mom cheated”) but not okay to editorialize (i.e., “because mom is a whore”). Shore them up the best you can. Get counseling for everyone. But when you feel yourself spiraling out of control, obsessing over your ex and the AP, put the focus back on yourself. How can I be a good role model? You really have an opportunity to show your kids what grace looks like in the face of adversity. How to navigate heartbreak. How to survive and thrive (but focus on survive right now, thrive will come later).

I know that’s not very satisfying. These are the days where you wish you had an uncle in the Russian Mafia or a lynch mob at your personal disposal. They pass. Take it on faith that your kids will figure it out in time. (Yeah TIME. Damn you Time!) They don’t have the life experience to get it, and they won’t for another 20 years or so.

Oh, and don’t let your kids jerk you around and do the humiliating dance of “pick me” with them either. Children have been known to exploit an opportunity to play one parent off the other. Your house, your rules. Be secure in your role as their parent. Don’t spoil them or let them get away with shit. Don’t go all soft and wobbly because you’re afraid they won’t love you. (If they’re teenagers, they don’t love you right now anyway.) You’ve still got a job to do — so do it!

Some day they’ll thank you for it. By then your ex will be on their 15th ex-affair partner probably. Life has a way of filling in the bigger picture so you don’t have to.

(((Hugs))) Chumps. Meanwhile, I know it sucks.

{ 109 comments… read them below or add one }

Arnold March 18, 2013 at 8:44 am

This is true. There is nothing you can do to keep your ex from inserting the Ap into the kids lives EXCEPT you can tell the kids exactly who and what this new person is.
Many, many times the cheaters seemt to try to pawn off this relationship as “new”, formed after seperation or divorce. Let the kids know that is not true. Thye need to protect themselves from these folks.
In my case, I have three young daughters that were forced to endure the presence of a man who had no qualms about fucking a married mom of three for over a year behind her family’s back. My daughters absolutely needed to know what they were dealing with, an immoral predator with no integrity at all.

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Rose March 18, 2013 at 8:58 am

Arnold, how did they handle this? And how are they now? Are they close to their mother? What do they think about her (vile) choices?

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MovingOn March 18, 2013 at 11:17 am

Arnold, how did you tell your girls? What was your XW’s response when you did? I would feel so much better about the whole thing if the kids knew why I wanted nothing to do with Mrs. X (whom their father is, apparently, marrying soon). Right now, they think that I’m going to eventually meet her and that we’re going to be the best of friends; they are all younger than ten, so I’ve been careful about what I say. I don’t say much about it– the best I have been able to come up with are comments like, “I don’t know her. She’s a part of your dad’s new life, and I’m not a part of that, so we’re not going to meet.” It would probably make a hell of a lot more sense if I said, “Mrs. X and your dad starting dating while we were married, so I am not friends with her since I don’t think she’s made very good choices.”

But how do I say that without things devolving into a war of words with my ex? The way he’s been acting, he’ll come to her defense and likely say terrible things about me. I don’t want to put my kids in the middle of that. They have enough on their plates to deal with.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 11:37 am

Oh, I think it’s TOTALLY okay for your kids to know why you don’t want to have anything to do with Mrs. X. Not trying to get the courts to intercede on their relationship is a lot different than having to pretend to be kissy face friends with that asshole For The Sake of the Children.

So YES say “Mrs. X and your dad starting dating while we were married, so I am not friends with her since I don’t think she’s made very good choices.” That’s MILD. KIND even. How about, I don’t think she’s a person of good morals. Or I was very hurt by her involvement in the breakup of my marriage. Or I don’t choose to associate with these people.

It’s about respecting that your kids, yes, have to (and WANT to) associate with these people. But you sure as hell don’t have to. You control that! That’s one shit sandwich you DO NOT have to eat.

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Arnold March 18, 2013 at 1:09 pm

I just responded to my eldest, 7 at the time, informing me that “mom has a new boyfriend”. I told her, “no, she has been seeing John for over a year”.
At 7, she looked at me and said “you mean mom was cheating?”(kid read at the college level in 3rd grade).
I just told them the truth. No editorializing. Told them the guy was not to be trusted and to watch out.
Thye HATED the guy. Affair relationship lasted about a year or so after that. By then, the teo cheaters were at each others throats.

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Broken August 3, 2014 at 9:58 pm

Arnold…My thirteen year old daughter knows everything because she has been on mine and her dad’s phones and read text messages. She’s not stupid. And yes they are password protected phones…again…she’s not stupid. She knows what he has done and she feels bad because she likes the other women. She shuts down and won’t talk about it. All she wants to do is make everyone happy. Not good for a thirteen year old girl. My eight year old son just found out about two weeks ago. He was mentioning something and said her name. He looked at me horrified and I told him it was okay, I already knew. He asked why and I told him because she was the cause of our divorce (she wasn’t the only cause because it takes two). He looked at me with a confused look and said…but dad said they have only been dating for a few months. I didn’t lie to him and I told him that dad and this women have been dating for about four years. He looked and said…so he’s been cheating? They are smart. While I wish my kids hated their dad for what he has done, I have no clue what they are going through and can’t expect that to be the case. I hate this man which goes against my Christian upbringing. We were married for 15 years and were together for 19 years. He admitted to being “inappropriate” with several women that dates back to 12 years. Pretty sad. I just wonder when I stop crying? The divorce was final only five months ago and he takes our kids around her and her kids and they act like one big happy family. I’m not really sure how someone goes on and gets through this. It’s horrible…absolutely horrible. Did I mention that she is a Judge and Divorce Attorney, who was married to an attorney and my ex is in the Law Enforcement Field. Good stuff. I don’t get it and wish I knew what I did wrong. All I did was follow this man around to follow his dreams and now I have no family where I currently live. Absolutely devastating.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 4:42 am

It’s a matter of being age appropriate.
What is clear from adults whose parents lied to them about the cheating is that the children are very hurt by the lying. They are entitled to be told the truth at a certain age.
In saying that I know of a mother of the boys friends who has never told her son. She doesn’t want to rock his relationship with his father. That takes so much self control. I really admire her for that. How strong she is.
XW,s want everyone to support the new relationship. They want to be friends which just is bullshit. It can’t happen. There has o be consequences. They still live in fantasy land until they realise people don’t support their crazy behaviour.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 9:43 am

It is THE shit sandwich of all shit sandwiches – if you have children too young to comprehend and years of shared custody in front of you. I honestly don’t know how chump parents handle it – they are amazing, amazing heroes to my way of thinking.

That said – I have had one tiny drop of happiness in my chump cup in the fact that the end of a 25 year marriage afforded me two “of age” children who can make up their own minds. So I gifted them – as Arnold above said – with the best defense they could ever have in the face of their father and the OW – TRUTH. I was just plain truthful. I left nothing out. They overheard things on the phone and asked? I answered. I didn’t volunteer but I was THROUGH protecting his image and certainly was not looking for the job of protecting the OW.

I will never forget when my STBX sat across from me the day he told me he “didn’t have it in him to do what I needed to regain my trust” and asked me – no lie – to “work with my children to help them be introduced and to accept and get to know the OW.” Seriously. Because – as he put it “She’s so likeable – she must be – I like her and the girls need to know that she’s in a difficult and bad place and I need you to help me with that.”

Sorry – no.

And as a result of being truthful – they are both able to see their father for exactly what he is – not some fantasy that he’d like to portray. And they know EVERYTHING about the OW. And as a result – we are relatively free of him and completely free of her. They have control of when and how they interact with their father – which he detests because the control is not his – it’s theirs. And both have told him in no uncertain terms that his future with them will continue to be very minimal as long as he is with this person because she is the line in their sand. They will NEVER meet her and never allow her in any aspect of their lives. So as long as he remains with this odious predator who was so unhappy in her her own miserable life she abandoned her two children and husband to prey on our family, he will not see marriages and grandchildren and visits and family. He will have to build his new life with her and without any of the gifts I brought to our life together – especially our family.

My ex has a lifetime history of using women and setting up new relationships before ending old ones. He has skated on his superficial charm and basic likability and the protection of his parents, his brother and most recently me. I have eaten more shit sandwiches courtesy of him than I care to admit – but the one thing I can be sure of is that – because he ruined a great life and messed with the wrong heart (mine) – he’s not skating free. He for the first time in his miserable life is feeling real consequences for what he’s done. I’m not protecting him, his parents are dead (thank God – this would have killed them) and his brother has cut him off cold. So he can keep his OW and build his new life – but he’s not taking any of the beauty and joy of our old life with him. And for that – I am really, really glad. And I am really proud that my two children are adults and have real moral compasses and – while they haven’t cut their father completely from their lives (as I wish sometimes they would) – they will never let him play them the way he played me.

So thank you, God – for having this happen when they were old enough to decide for themselves. And I’ll never be sorry for being truthful with them. There was little enough truth in our lives the last 4 years of our marriage as he lied to all of us and led a double live.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 10:10 am

You bring up a good point, I left out (it’s a big topic!) — that for kids, often the price of admission to have a relationship with their other partner is tolerating — or hey even liking (especially if they’re young) — the affair partner. And kids want to have that relationship with both parents. If they’re little, they really need it. You can divorce the idiot, but your kids cannot. Don’t make them choose. Don’t make them feel disloyal to you for loving the other one.

Char, your daughters are old enough to decide for themselves, and if they’re in their 20s, they have a bit of perspective younger kids don’t have on what cheating means. But I hope they don’t feel that loving or missing their dad is being disloyal to you — even though it must feel that way, I’m sure.

I did not have kids with my cheater. But the ex I did have a kid with is pretty screwed up. Sure it FEELS like my life would be much easier if my son had zero relationship with him, but that wouldn’t be the best thing for my son, and the courts see it that way. It’s hard, hard, HARD. All you can do is hope that they grow up and figure it out. But I’ve had to accept that my son will always love his dad. Even if I personally think he is a POS.

Also — and I realize there is room for debate here — but I really flinch away from telling kids of any age too much of the gory details of infidelity. It just seems emotionally incestuous to me. They shouldn’t have to bolster you up. YES, tell the truth that the relationship broke up because of infidelity, lies, a double life, serial cheating. Whatever the story. But it’s not okay to lean on your kids emotionally, or burden them with icky details of their parent’s sex life. Really, most of us would rather believe our parents found us under a cabbage leaf than to imagine they had sex. Infidelity is more than any kid should have to think about.

My husband has to deal with this. His ex is a serial cheater. I think the kids know there was more than just the current guy she is married to. Maybe they think there was two. (A former boss too.) But I doubt they know it was more than two, and it was over a decade (perhaps two) of cheating and double life leading. So, point is, they can know mom is a cheater. They don’t need details of mom meeting up in parking lots to give a guy a blow job — or whatever other sordid truth my husband has on her ex. He’s moved on with his life. She’s moved on with hers. People’s crappy life choices generally catch up with them, and reflect badly on them. You just have to trust the kids will figure it out.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 11:04 am

CL,
I do understand and agree (mostly) with your thoughts on children and the “facts of the case.” As I said – I never volunteered more than just the facts, but if they asked – I didn’t lie about anything. While truth may seem like a burden to some, I can’t help but think of it as a key to freedom of choice. You can’t know what you feel about anyone – parent, lover, friend, business partner – if you don’t have the truth to guide you. It’s messy, it’s painful, it can be operatic at times – but it’s real.

Narcissists and cheaters use lies and illusion and masks as their stock and trade. It’s what allows them to get away with the pain and destruction they bring to bear in every relationship – be it with lovers, spouses or children. And they count on just the type of discretion that you refer to. They count on people being too classy, too decent, too unwilling to rock the boat to expose them for what they are – to show that the emperor really has no clothes. That’s how they get away with it.

It’s just my opinion – but if good people continue to just go quietly off into that good night of divorce to lick their chump wounds and go “what can I do but accept” the horrible things that happen to them because of a cheater – nothing will EVER change. A cheater will not be exposed and they will continue the pattern unabated. I would never feel right as a parent if I’d just said “Daddy and I decided we don’t get along anymore and BTW he has a new friend who will be a part of our family and lives.” That’s not right. At least with the truth – everyone gets to make their own call. As I said in a previous post on a previous column – the concept of “shaming” is way undervalued in today’s world. Perhaps cheaters would at least think a little more about how they treat the people who love them if they knew that they couldn’t hide behind propriety, manners and the fears of others to cause a little discomfort by being perhaps a little too candid.

I do want you to know – I love your blog. You have empowered me and helped me move forward in a way I’d been missing for months. Thank you for speaking to and for a lot of good people who feel so – well – much like chumps.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 11:46 am

Oh, I’m not saying cover for the NPD and maintain their image. HELL NO. It’s a balancing act, that’s all I’m saying. If they ask, they’re over 21 and they really want to know? Sure, don’t lie. But I would stick to exactly what they want to know. I totally get the temptation to share the whole, sickening injustice with them. But it’s not their marriage. It’s their parent.

And I would never say “new friend” — you don’t have to spackle. You don’t have to associate with them. You can expose them and tell people why you’re divorcing (i.e., he cheated on me with her, and I decided to leave… or I was left…)

I’m just saying kids have their own grief — the break up of their family — they don’t need to carry your grief too. It’s a very hard thing. But I would NEVER advocate for spackle. Some discretion with your kids, yes. But take out a full page ad in the New York Times if it pleases you, for the rest of the world!

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

I’m a big believer in the truth because STBX’s lies have caused so much destruction. I’m not adverse to the little white lie but he lived a lie for years and that caused enormous pain. I get what you’re saying as a result. i don’t lie to the kids but I couch things in appropriate terms. I don’t want the kids to hate their father but I do want them to be aware that he is manipulative. I do this by being honest to a point but also reading books with them, watching films, etc. and then we talk about the people in them and mykids, thankfully, aren’t stupid and can spot things so they say ‘that’s how dad is’ and then they have a little more knowledge with which to deal with him.

It’s a tough road to walk but it can be done. I will not queer they’re relationshp with their dad unless he does something nuts, then I step in and say something. It’s becoming less and less, though, mainly because he’s finally twigged that I will say something if he does stupid shit.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Yeah, that’s the thing with really manipulative people — the disordered wingnuts that are serial cheaters and do the double life thing for eons — your ex, my husband’s ex. They’re reeeeally good at impression management. They play the victim, twist the tale, lie outright. Anything to get sympathy kibbles. Or they act Above It All. “I don’t understand what all this hostility is about.”

Mindfuckery. Horrible to see your kids either learn it, or suffer at the hands of it. You’re totally doing the right thing pointing it out to them, or reading books about manipulation.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 1:22 pm

“I don’t understand what all this hostility is about.” Man-oh-man – you just quoted my STBX almost verbatim. Amen, and amen.

Impression management/mindfuckery – they raise to some sort of hellish art form. Spot on, both Nord and CL!!!

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Please, even today, when we had to email about practical things he tried to get a rise out of me. I refused to deal, just saying we know what happened, I prefer to deal with the present and the future and leave all that nonsense in the past. His response was something along the lines of ‘but that’s YOUR story about what happened’, as if I didn’t read reams of emails and other communication with loads of different women. What a nut job. He almost seems to think that if he says it isn’t true he didn’t really happen that way.

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Arnold March 18, 2013 at 1:23 pm

This is so true, Cahr. My XWs are both NPD. And, the amount of lying they have done and continue to do is very confusing for the kids.
Imagine, for example, my lunatic second wife forcing the kids to go to church with her, while she lived with her affair partner , and now lives with a guy she hooked up with while he was still married. She chastises the kids if they lie, but they know she lies all the time.
My middle daughter was crying to me “mom just lies all the time”. So, I did not want to invalidate her reality, and confuse her further. I simply said “Anna, I know she does. You are not imagining this”.
See, she even gaslights her own kids. How abusive and damaging. Thye are confused as hell about what she does vs what she espouses.
So, I confirm their perceptons when they inquire so they do not think they are losing their minds.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 1:31 pm

Arnold – and thank God you do. They are not blind – they can see what their mother is. And the old saying “Do as I say, not what I do” – which must have been thought up by a narcissist – doesn’t hold up in the light of day. The best thing any parent can do – and the most important job they will EVER hold – is to be a good example for their child(ren.) The only legacy we leave behind at the end of the day is our good name and how our children remember us. You are setting a good example that is strong enough to countermand the horrible example of your ex.

And the worst thing is – narcissism and an inherent lack of self worth/respect that I think goes with the disorder – doesn’t allow the cheater to even make the connection between action and words. She probably thinks that she’s a good parent. My STBX actually said “Hey – other than the cheating and lies – I was a great husband and father – and I still am.” How’s that for surreal? But that’s the nature of the beast, I’ve found. They can rationalize and excuse themselves from any sense of guilt or even wrongdoing. It’s pathological.

Just keep being what you are – a great dad teaching them about being truthful and instilling a moral compass in them. Down the road – they will recognize and remember you for it in the best ways.

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Arnold March 18, 2013 at 5:36 pm

Very well put, Char. I can see you have researched the cluster B disorders,as well. I think any BS should look into them to try to explain what they have been subjected to.
Thes NPDs and BPDs are so messed up that you cannot ever reason with them. Thier entire value system is shockongly bizzare.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 4:53 am

I agree here. What is important is the kids now the truth why you broke up. They don’t need the detail. It would have done us a world of good if some of us hadn’t fond out the details. It’s the biggest mindfuck I’ve ever experienced.
The kids will figure out in due time what is going on. They will love both patents as long as those parents treat them with respect.
As is the case with some exes here if they treat the kids like shit then it will come back and bite and bite hard. In some cases the WS doesn’t give a fuck. Sad sad sad

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anudi March 20, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Dear CL,
I tend to disagree that children absolutely need both parents, howsoever, courts or society may view the same. Yes, a lot of times we tend to R just for the sake of our children. In those times, at least, there is a picture of a family for the kid. But not so after Separation. If kids are in an age, where they can comprehend what is going on, then according to me they should not only be told but should also protected against a lot of abuses (especially if chump fears about the ex or AP in that way).
Contexts play a big role. There can’t be the same rules for all. I have decided to give my son a family of me and my parents (they have been thoroughly involved in his upbringing and my son has always loved them like foster parents). We three together can compensate for 90-95% of his losses. His father has never been involved as a parent should be. He has not contacted his son for months. And I am happy about it. I won’t stop my son from meeting his father but I won’t encourage it either. For both of us he is nearly non-existent or dead. It shall be painful otherwise.
Regards

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 4:47 am

Groceries has done this all along. I have only just realised that she will not end a relationship without having the next one set up. I was different in that I met her after she was dumped by her boyfriend. She was a mess.
She also is highly attracted to older men normally 10-15 years older. I can real their names off. Not suggesting a PA but very good friendships.
You cannot go wrong being truthful

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Pinkie April 2, 2013 at 1:31 pm

I’ve just read “Char’s” response and I feel like we are sisters. Wow, I admire you and sometimes these situations mimic each other. Kudos to you and your children. Being lied to is like watching the trust disappear right before your eyes. The best feeling is when you walk away and finally feel strong enough to be patient and not wish for the demise of the affair partners’ relationship. Nine times out of ten those assclowns fail without the help of anyone.

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 11:11 am

I struggle with this one a lot, because STBX tried to drag the final OW into the picture very , very quickly the kids freaked out. He would try to do sneaky meetings, where she would just ‘accidentally’ bump into them. Then it was ‘you’re going to meet her and be nice or there will be trouble’ kind of stuff. Then it was ‘you’re ruining my life by not wanting to meet her’. And so it went, each decision he made in this area worse than the last.

I finally stepped in because it got so fucking dramatic, with enormous fights between STBX and the kids. I finally told them to accept what they cannot change, be polite if they must and I’d always be here for them.

Then I decided to think about dating and instead of doing it behind the kid’s back, I sat them down, told them what I was thinking and we worked out how we thought it should be handled if and when I meet someone who becomes important to me. I wanted to show them the right way to do things, the straight forward, non-sneaky way, the way that means everyone is respected.

So I went on a date a couple of weekends ago and told the kids. They loved the idea, wanted to know about him, I told what little I knew and when I saw them the next day they asked how it went and I said ‘nope, nice guy but too conservative for my taste’. And that was that.

They tease me about dating a bit and I laugh and we are trying to find a place, slowly and carefully, where we are all comfortable.

I tell this story because I have decided to not focus at all on STBX and his OW. I have an idea of what it’s like over there and it’s not great, from what I hear but who cares. As long as the kids are safe and she’s nice to them then best of luck. I don’t like them having to make nice with the slagbag but instead of giving that my attention I am making a priority of allowing my kids to see how healthy relationships develop, relationships that start slowly, not like a bolt of lightening where you are like two teenagers in heat and plan your future after 4 sneaky after work drinks. I want them to see how the grownups do it.

I’m certainly hoping I find someone who makes me want to screw like a teenager but I don’t plan on basing my future relationships on that. Passion needs to be there but so do a whole lot of other things, and that means more than fun times and unicorns. I want a proper man this time, who knows that real life is a mixed bag of great, good, boring, dull and downright sucky at times. And who can laugh through it all and still make mad love to me.

I should use the above as my dating profile. :)

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 11:47 am

Love that!

You totally handled the dating thing the right way and I’m sure your kids appreciate it.

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Really March 18, 2013 at 12:52 pm

Damn, that’s beautiful!

As my Aussie cousins would say, good on ya mate!

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Toni March 18, 2013 at 12:54 pm

I’m certainly hoping I find someone who makes me want to screw like a teenager

I LOVE that Nord, that line just made my day!!!

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Bonkti March 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

Thank God she left out the comma.

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Nord March 19, 2013 at 7:28 am

Hahaha! Too true!

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quicksilver March 18, 2013 at 1:25 pm

Nord, I am so impressed with how you handled the dating thing. I need to keep this, in case I ever get to that point again.

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I’m barely there, trust me. I went on a couple of dates a few months after dday, when I was in the ‘I’ll show him’ phase. Well, all I did was show myself that I wasn’t ready to date (those poor guys!). So I stopped and just dealt with myself and my kids and my friends.

Then, around Christmas, I started to feel like yeah, maybe after the new year. So I talked to the kids about it but said I was only thinking about it and would tell them if something happened. Then someone asked me out so I told them. I didn’t go into details about the evening other than it was nice and fun but I didn’t think it would go further, although he wanted to take me to dinner at some point and I was thinking about it.

I strongly believe that after all the lies, manipulation and other fuckery that has gone on since dray (and before, of course) the kids need to have at least one parent who is straight forward and truthful, and allows them the freedom to be the same.

I don’t always like what I hear from the kids but at least we’re all out in the open about stuff and can discuss things. It’s what I thought our whole family was about but, you know, obviously not. :)

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 5:00 am

I think you will earn so many chooky points with this open strategy with the kids.
How you remain calm with the OW looking after your kids says so much about you.
I think this is really going to mean a lot in your relationship with the kids when they are teenagers and older.

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Nord March 19, 2013 at 7:32 am

I hope so. I had a talk with one of them this morning because I did have a slight fit last week after STBX and OW took my kid to see a movie we had planned on seeing together (me and kid). I was pissed and ended up being pretty childish and it hurt my kid’s feelings. So this morning we had a talk and I simply told him that although I’m good with everything most of the time every once in awhile something pops up that hurts my feelings and/or pisses me off and I don’t always handle it well and I was sorry, I didn’t mean to make him feel bad.

It was a good talk and he understood. As we move through this bullshit the only thing to do is be honest with the kids, keep the dialogue open and basically focus on our relationships with them, not on the ex’s and their side pieces.

I mean, STBX and OW in my case don’t deserve one iota of my attention–they still try to blame me somehow and honestly seem to see themselves as victims in some way. It’s kind of funny, but also quite pathetic.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 1:33 pm

I get the blame for everything simply because I give chainsaw man nothing.

I refuse to pretend. I’m an open book to the boys. I have the boys 75% of the time but its actually a lot more.

Take last night for example. I passed groceries and chainsaw man rushing to his apartment at Terrigal at 4.45 I guess to have a cup of tea.

She didn’t pick up my youngest until 7.30. Lets say he goes to bed at 9.30.

She has spent 4-5 hours with him this week.

Kids are not dumb. Sure we have bad days. I’m told its important the kids see you have been hurt. It’s the truth. You just can’t make it an opera or carry it on.
CSM isn’t in the boys life yet so I have all that ahead of me.

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Nord March 20, 2013 at 2:40 pm

You’ll be ok when he is in their lives. My kids deal but they’ve got both their dad’s number and OW’s number…and they’re getting other people’s numbers as well because they can see how badly some people have behaved.

It’s sucks but I’m honest and they know that I screw up at times because there are incidents and moments that happen that hurt me and I lose it here and there. When I do I pick myself up, talk it through with them, apologise if I’ve been an ass and hopefully they understand.

soyouseeit2 March 18, 2013 at 6:36 pm

trade places and thats exactly what my ex did/does, except the other person she insisted they like- was significantly involved with their families destruction. Despite their speaking up she consistanly put the other person first. She pulled the “look who happens to be at the movies as well ” stunt alot…my children despise him. My daughter at 13 1/2 was destroyed by finding the ex’s “f’ing disgusting e-mails ” (as she put it) left open on her computer in her room…yes her mother used my daughters computer in her room I assume not to be caught. I found this out from my daughter during one of her soul crushing emotional breakdowns from the burden of knowledge she was carrying. I’ve witnessed 2 of these and when you see your child go thru this kind of pain it’s unbearable- knowing her own mother caused it makes you want to vomit. When it was brought up to my ex about my concern for our childrens sanity (literally) and I suggested counselling -Her reply was simply “I don’t care if you take them I’m not paying for it” There is nothing we can do…I know my kids have picked up on their mom’s disorder. But like me when I knew something wasn’t normal but was un-educated as to what I was dealing with, it’s difficult to say the least let alone the loyalty bind they feel. It’s unbeleivable how many people are dealing with these societal fuck up’s ! It’s as if a plague of selfishness has swept thru. And there is no cure…I could spend hours telling of the most uncomprehensible selfish acts with horrible consequences that she has done and yes – OBLIVIOUS to it all…no I think I am the crazy one now..LOL

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Named for Vera March 18, 2013 at 11:19 am

Dear Chumplady: Wow is this one 100% full of truth. I speak not from my own life (thank god), but from a good friend’s history. Her kids are now 21 & 28– Scum Sucking Ex had the requisite affair and was promptly dumped when the kids were little. Health issues, mental health issues ensued over the years, kids’ residency issues. Oh and just to add to the fun, SSEX was an NPD unemployed lawyer with nothing to do but drag her into court for more spousal support and harassment. It was an eternal nightmare, and she really did keep her cool, and just raise her kids as best she could. She ate every conceivable flavor of shit sandwich, including driving one child at 4:30 AM to said child’s super-special school, while said child “resided” with SSEX dad, and had to bring younger along. For which SSEX thanked her by dragging her into court and accusing her of bad parenting the younger one. I mean really, it went on in Fellini-esque ways for a decade and a half .

Now however, the kids are really adults. And guess what? They are smart, grounded, they came through it. Scarred, but sane. She did a good job. They can see who is who, and who did what, and who the real parent was. They know who took care of them, went to bat for them, stayed up late, argued with the schools, patted them on the back, made sure they had clothes that fit and a nice place to sleep and have friends over (what is it about SS cheaters that they so often don’t make A PLACE for their kids at the new love nest???), got them to, and through college….

All of this is a longwinded way of saying, yes, it’s true. Suck it up, be the best parent you can be. Your kids will not only come to appreciate you for it, more importantly, it will help them grow up to be people with values and be grounded in reality. You’ll be able to sleep at night, and so will they.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 11:51 am

I feel for your friend. She raised her kids right in the face of some really shitty obstacles. You have to take it on faith for so many years that it will work out. I’m really glad it did for your friend. And I hope SSEX nosedived into oblivion.

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Really March 18, 2013 at 11:30 am

And this is the situation I find myself in. Our older child is a teenager and (thankfully) doesn’t want anything to do with the OW, but unfortunately it’s to the point that she won’t see her father because it would mean having to see OW as well (the two of them are living together). He has made some effort to see her without the OW, but OW always seems to be with him. Poor kid even told me that she still loves her father and knows he loves her, but he loves the OW more (ooh, that was a punch in the gut!) What do you do with that? How do you comfort that? It’s a total no-win situation. At least, in a few years she’ll be 18 and in terms of seeing her father, can call the shots.

Our younger child? STBX made sure that the OW established a good relationship with him early on (before I even knew about the affair – bleh!) He likes the OW (and she pays attention to him) but there’s tension there, too. Recently my son had a school function and he asked me if the OW could attend (I don’t know if it was his idea or STBX’s). I thought it was weird that he was asking me for permission, and I told him that it was fine (hard to do but you do what you have to for your kids…). Then he asked me what would happen if people asked who she was, and then he burst into tears. And then uncontrollable sobs. Oh, and all this was happening while he was on the phone with STBX, and he heard everything. My son then decided not to go to the event, to avoid the problem altogether.

The kid tried, and found out he couldn’t tolerate spackle.

Also recently STBX asked if I could be more amenable to the kids concerning him and OW.

AMENABLE?!? To the person who cheated on me?!? To the person who knew he was married and did it anyway?!? I told him exactly what I would do, what I’ve been doing. I don’t badmouth STBX or OW to the kids. I tell them the truth, but I don’t put them down.
That’s as amenable as I’m going to get. It’s hard, but I’ll do the right thing for my kids.

Too bad STBX and OW can’t say the same.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 11:40 am

You are a class act, Really. You handled that brilliantly. Give your son a hug from me. Kids heal on their own time table. I’m sure they hate “get over it” as much as chumps do.

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 12:19 pm

STBX told the kids to ‘get over it’ two weeks after dday . And never stopped saying it.

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GreenGirl March 18, 2013 at 1:00 pm

Ah yes, “get over it” and “grow up” the least likely ways to get your kids to listen to you.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 1:41 pm

Groceries favourite saying “get over it”.

Nah. I’m not getting over it. You had and are having the affair.

I’m living a new life with the boys ,supporting and loving them so they grow up to be independent loving ,well adjusted men who respect people. Hopefully they will have a strong moral compass.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 12:02 pm

Really –
I think you are AMAZING. Just a note – I learned via the courts that – if a situation where a parent is trying to force another person into the visitation mix – that CAN be addressed. As CL said – the courts are all about the welfare of the child. Also – a child of teenage years has a right to determine the circumstances of visitation with the parent – so your teenager can simply tell her father that she is quite willing to meet him – but not the OW. If he continues to persecute her for not wanting to engage with someone she has no interest in knowing – you can address that in court.

Obviously – your ex is thinking only of himself and pleasing his OW – and not of either his children’s emotional well being. Good luck – you are strong!!

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Really March 18, 2013 at 12:46 pm

Thank you for the support!

Things turned around after I stopped doing the “pick me” dance. Oh, and the dance I did…truly horrible. I’ll never be able to apologize to my kids enough for it.

Now at least I can go to sleep at night with a clear conscience.

The OW didn’t like being cross-examined by my daughter (the last time she saw her) – her answer to my daughter’s “why did you have an affair with him (her father) when you knew he was married” was “get over it – your mom was okay with it.”

NO, I WASN’T OKAY WITH IT! I was scared of losing the partner I had for half of my life! Being a SAHM, faced with losing everything we had worked for, I agreed to whatever my STBX wanted so he’d be around (and happy to be with) the kids and me. I too kept thinking that if he just saw how good, how understanding I was, he’d come out of the fog and come back.

Yeah, that was one rainbow-colored unicorn. It NEVER existed.

STBX and OW messed with my mind for over a year, and they still try. Truly, God knows where I’d be without this site.

Keep ‘em coming, CL!

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 12:49 pm

Oh UGH, Really. I’m waiting for the not-so-distant day he does it to her. I’ll pop the popcorn.

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Nord March 18, 2013 at 1:19 pm

You and me both but one thing I figured out: as long as they have us Chumps to focus on they can still do the ‘us against the world’ dance and not face themselves and their reality. There’s another reason to just leave them to it, not get involved with anything that isn’t important and just get on with your own life.

They’ll implode at some point. And if they don’t? You won’t care because you’ll be so far gone. But of course i will do something of a happy dance when STBX and the dingbat OW implode. Partly because I don’t want to see her for the rest of my life but also because it will be funny to watch his family coldly devalue her overnight. Hell, they already say snotty shit about her behind her back so it won’t be much of a stretch.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 1:51 pm

I’m waiting for same thing Nord. Meantime we just got to get on with it.

That’s one of the hardest aspect of all this.

I’ve been replaced by a selfish arsehole who abandoned his two daughters in NZ. Groceries family know about him and taken him in but because he’s the knight in shining armour then they accept him for groceries sake.

The mil and fil will focus on him being the big CEO and proud their daughter is his partner.

He such a successful businessman but a total fuck up when it comes to his family. I know what id rather be

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soyouseeit2 March 18, 2013 at 6:55 pm

I lived with it for 2 years…know where your coming from

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm

Agreed.

What a terrible thing to say to a child.

The cheaters will lie about anything and to anybody to justify their behaviour

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McJJ March 18, 2013 at 1:04 pm

Oh. Good. Lord. They really do think they sparkle, don’t they? Thank heavens my kids are all adults, but I remember my cousin (who is almost a generation older than me) telling the sad story about her youngest child, who was about 12 at the time.

They hadn’t been divorced very long, but the ex had re-married, and insisted on bringing the shiny new AP/wifetress to the school fall open house. Now this was a small private school, and the kid had just started there. My cousin said he was mortified when he had to stand up and introduce all the “adults” to the assembled classmates and their parents. This is my mother, and this is my father, and this is my father’s wife(?). What kind of fucktard puts his 12 year old son through that?

As my kids are older, I’m now seeing the fallout years later, in terms of their friends’ acceptance of the cheater parent. Most are very close to the betrayed parent – on Facebook I see them mentioned and lots of pictures/visits/vacations with them, especially now that grandchildren are beginning to appear on the scene. I won’t say the cheater is totally absent in their lives, but I rarely see more than a once or twice a year appearance. They seem to be pretty much a non-entity in their children’s lives. They do seem to sort it out, figure out who the “real” parent was, and model that behavior and work to keep a relationship with that parent.

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CHAR March 18, 2013 at 1:38 pm

“Wifetress” – I’ve been wondering how I’d refer to the OW once the divorce ink is on the page and STBX runs to Vegas to tie the knot with her. That is PERFECT! May I borrow and use when the time comes? :)

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Stacey March 18, 2013 at 2:30 pm

My ex is not married yet, but my sister and I refer to his OW as my kid’s “step-mistress”. I like wifetress too! :)

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JamesR March 19, 2013 at 9:36 am

So what can I call the OM my EW married? I have a few names already, but I would enjoy one in the vein of Wifetress….?

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sunshine March 18, 2013 at 12:35 pm

Thanks so much, Chump Lady, for addressing this topic. I know that sucking it up and eating the shit sandwich is the right thing to do, but damn it’s hard sometimes! My kids are young, and they already knew the AP as a family friend before everything happened, so it takes ALL the self control I can muster to hold my tongue. Especially when AP takes them shopping or I overhear my 11-year old daughter (the oldest) tell her cousin “my daddy couldnt help it, he just fell in love with her.” Erghhhh! Of course his story leaves out all the prostitutes, ONSs, lying, etc!!! Anyway, I did tell my daughter that’s not really what happened, but without getting into all the sordid details. I try to be honest in a very do-no-harm, less-is-more way, and mostly I try to get at the topic and associated values by never mentioning my ex or his affair and instead focusing on the lessons I want the kids to lesrn. So they hear a lot of “the truth may hurt for a little while, but a lie hurts forever” or “you are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of your choice,” etc. It’s been a struggle for me, but over time (9 months since dday now), I have gotten better through practice at keeping my mouth shut. And it is SO helpful to hear everyone’s stories here, which have really hrlped me cope thus far and continue to bolster my resolve to do the right thing with my kids. Thank you all SO much!!!

On a slightly unrelated note, I want to share with everyone here a few additional resources that have helped me along this difficult journey (apart from therapy ;) One is another blog, bakadesuyo.com. Although Chump Lady’s blog has by far been the biggest help of anything, bakadesuyo and its focus on helping one become a better person has also been an eye opener, in a different way. That blog looks at all kinds of different studies about how to be happy, how to do well in your job, how to be the best friend you can, etc, and presents the readers digest version. Super interesting and helpful with all the self-reflection I’ve been doing. Another newer resource is a free, 21-day, 15-minute a day, online, guided meditation program sponsored by Oprah and Deepak Chopra. It’s only available for a couple more weeks apparently, but it has been a great resource for me, as someone new to meditation. Finally, a guy named Dan Ariely, a professor at MIT who writes about irrational behavior incl in the WSJ, has been an interesting source of info. Apparently, he’s starting a new, online course through Coursera, on how people behave in irrational ways and how to overcome those problems. (Yeah, how many of our exes does this apply to!) Anyway, I don’t always agree with his point of view, but it is definitely interesting.

Well that’s all for now, fellow chumps, and Thanks again, Chump Lady, for another incredibly helpful piece!!!

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Toni March 19, 2013 at 10:09 am

Did my 1st meditation today Sunshine, Thank you, will check out the other link also. Any links are appreciated, looking forward to the day when I can concentrate on a novel again! Like your name!

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sunshine March 19, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Thanks! And glad you like the meditation! Guess it’s just one day at a time for all of us.. . :/

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Toni March 18, 2013 at 1:11 pm

Wow, as always great post. My daughters are grown up, but after 12 years of looking up to him they were very very hurt too. I have been so emotionally deranged that I haven’t given them the attention regarding the whole thing, just trying to maintain.
About a week ago things between him and I turned very ugly with him threatening me, etc. over getting the last of his shit out of the apt. I have been slowly throwings things out, one box at a time, even hurting my back in the process. He showed up 2 days in a row took NOTHING and threatened to call the police on me for tampering with his mail (I’ve done no such thing)
Well, my older daughter, the soft hearted non confrontational one, did the last thing I would ever expect her to…..She called him up – first time she’s talked to him and said..
“We love our Mom, we need our Mom, and we need you to take your shit and stay far away from her”…….!!! He came and got his stuff the very next day, promised it would be the last time and it’s been a week since I’ve seen/heard from him. Hopefully it will last but either way I am so incredibly proud of her. And Grateful. I just want to try and heal…and read my CL in peace!

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Arnold March 18, 2013 at 1:32 pm

I think the kids must be told the truth about the affair partner. These folks are without morals and are a danger to the kids.

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Stephanie March 18, 2013 at 3:22 pm

100% agree, and it is unfair to lead the children to believe that a) marriages break up for no reason–or that you act on whim, or, b) that immoral actions are without consequence. Kids need to know they can count on you to be there for them. They need to know they can trust their instincts about a person. Cheaters are self-absorbed liars, and not just in marriages. It’s likely that the APs make your kids uncomfortable, anyway, and if they are alert to it, and informed that it’s ok for them to not like the AP’s behaviors, they’ll be able to use their judgement better, and be able to do what is right for themselves, without inner conflict and confusion. Kids need to know that cheating and divorce is NOT ideal, it is NOT normal, and should not be celebrated nor normalized.

I think you should be truthful, sparing kids sordid and salacious details that are more of a burden than useful information. I think you should be honest about your very difficult feelings and circumstances–consequences of cheating and divorce, but also make every effort to collect your shit and move on, emotionally and otherwise functionally. Do NOT burden your kids with caustic remarks and wailings about the ex and the AP. If the happy couple (*cough*) are harming your children, then step in and fix it to the best of your ability. But your best bet is to be a sanctuary of sanity and peace for your kids–no venting to your kids about the snake and the pig. I believe your kids can be your friends, but not the sort of friends that you spill ugly details to–find an ADULT to vent to.

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Pearl March 18, 2013 at 3:29 pm

I know this isn’t right but I told my husband he could do whatever he wanted but that if he ever brought the ow near my kids I would hand out flyers at her kids school and her faux socialite charity organization detailing her actions. I know I should be more mature but I draw te line where my kids are concerned

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Boo March 18, 2013 at 10:22 pm

I love it! Actions have consequences…

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nomar March 18, 2013 at 4:12 pm

Divorce means you have no control over what goes on in your ex-spouse’s house. As CL said, the only exception is an act or omission that puts your kids in imminent danger (e.g., drinking to the point of passing out, consuming illegal drugs, hosting convicted sexual offenders, and not much else). You can (like I did) get a legal agreement attempting control. Which order your ex will (like mine did) completely ignore. Feel better? Didn’t think so.

The sooner you choke this sh*t sandwich down, the better. In my case, I found distractions helped wash it down. Keep busy as much as you can when your kids are at the house of Your Stupid Ex. Even better once the shock of infidelity begins to fade: ***luxuriate*** in your lack of parental responsibilities. After 15 years of non-stop dad duty, it was ***amazing**** to have a whole week to myself. To go see a movie on a Wednesday night. To drink 3 beers on a Saturday afternoon while watching a whole baseball game, then take a nap, then get up when it gets dark and go our for a steak dinner. You can do these things now, people! Just because your ex has the kids doesn’t mean you have to be a martyr. Live a little! When your kids come back, you’ll be more relaxed and focused and a better parent for it.

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Baci March 18, 2013 at 4:49 pm

I’m going through all this now.
Groceries ( that’s what I’m going to call the ex now) moved along the road just over 4 weeks ago. She says the boys wanted her closer. She gave both of them keys. To date they haven’t used them. They have only gone there when she is at home.
The boys are 13 and 17( last week).
Since moving in groceries has had chainsaw man there every weekend. She told he boys they can come over but he will be there. They haven’t visited except for my oldest birthday on Saturday. Her whole family was there but not chainsaw man on the boys request.
I have no communication whatsoever with her family apart from minor communication woth one of her sisters. I chose not to to stay safe.
The boys ave full access to Mum. They can go there whenever they wish to.
They have the power and they chose.
Please correct me if I’m wrong here

She is saying to the boys every weekend chainsaw man is a greater priority than you. I still love you but I want to move on and this is the new deal. The boys chose not to be part of it.
Why?
To protect me.
They don’t want to meet him.
Don’t want the embarrassment
He’s an arsehole and they know it
They have more fun at home

I think she has taken this strategy to eventually wear them down. Time solves all problems. Who knows?

These are the facts.
The boys know the whole story.
They were lied to
My oldest son read the text messages between chainsaw man and groceries for 18months before d day and didn’t tell a sole so from a young age he’s had to hold a lot in.
Before d day there were no signs at home that anything was wrong. No fights. No arguments. The three of us supported groceries in her training for the New York marathon.

The boys see everyone’s actions.
They have seen me completely fall apart last year,cry my guts out, panic about the future etc. etc.
I have never stopped them going to their mother. I’ve told them groceries has done what she did however she loves you dearly. She is just infatuated with chainsaw man.
He’s older and they see that. I don’t think they understand what’s gong on. I don’t think groceries really sits down and taks with them. She just tells them he’s a good man.

Here are the facts if others haven’t read my pervious posts:

His ex wife said she caught him having two affairs.
He left a 12 and 16 year old in New Zealand with their mother
He sends money over every month and supports them financially which is easy when you earn $200,000 + a year.
All his family live in New Zealand
He’s 58. I’m 49. Groceries is 45
He has never met my sons. D day was 30/12/11

I am of course the biggest arsehole in the world. I’m bitter and do not support their relationship. I refuse to move on. I’m damaging the boys relationship with their mother because of this. It’s all my fault.

I don’t know what the right thing to do is. Everyone is in limbo.

I have met a friend. The boys know about her and my youngest son has met her on many occasions before I met her. My oldest son doesn’t want to meet her yet.
She never comes to the house unless the boys are well away. She doesn’t want to upset the boys. She travels and buys the boys many gifts and they know they come from her.
The bottom line is she respects the boys position. She provides amazing support to me. She has no kids. She is single.
Groceries knows about her. I know groceries wants me to fall head over heals in love so I will take my focus off chainsaw man.
I’m really pissed off because chainsaw man takes up too much thought every day.
I wish I was ‘meh’ about him.

I don’t know if I’m acting in the best interest of the boys. It would be easier if everyone just got on but I just don’t see that as being realistic.
The boys are free to chose where they want to be.
I can’t seak to groceries. I just can’t trust anything she says.
She flocks to couples that began their relationships as cheaters. Otherwise everyone knows how their relationship began.
The blogs say 3% of these relationships work our a d my therapist is adamant they will marry ASAP to justify the drama of the affair and all the destruction it has caused.
Both of them are narcissist and they feed off each other.
It’s vey hard but I just have to try and ignore them.
What I’m finding really challenging is my best friend, lover and mother has turned into this selfish person that I just don’t know. I have to stay away to protect myself.
It’s the most bizarre situation I’ve ever been in.
I just hope the boys colour the other side ofvthisin one piece.
You are all such a wonderful support. Thank you

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Baci, I would work very hard to be meh, and not focus on CS man or how much time your kids spend with mom, or with him (I know he is the scum of the earth, really I do). They may hold back because it upsets YOU to have them around mom and Idiot. You need to project “meh” to them, not us. So it’s okay for them to love you both, yeah, even if jerk face is there.

Look, if she does marry him, are your sons not supposed to have a relationship with her? At some point, if he insists on being in the picture, they’re going to have to deal with him. My guess is he’ll be peripheral to your kids. They know who dad is. And who mom is. Everyone else is a satellite.

As galling as it is, the cheaters do have a point — adults have partners. Kids have to deal with that. Kids grow up and leave us. That’s their job. Their job isn’t to bolster us and keep us company and be loyal to us. Their job is to grow up and get their own lives separate and apart from us someday.

Your GF sounds like a gem. It’s wonderful that she supports you and dotes on your boys, and lets things go slow on the intros. But if it were to get to a point where your kids were, hey, dad — no girlfriend. We don’t like it. I do think you get to play the adult card and say you’re entitled to a personal life.

I realize some may disagree with me strongly. I read a lot of — my kids come first. If they veto my partner, I dump him/her. We’re a package deal. Well yes and no. If you asked my son four years ago if he’d like to have his life uprooted so I could marry a Texan, he’d have said NO. Four years later, he’s very happy in his new life and adores my husband. If I’d dumped my husband because my son didn’t want me to date, we would’ve both missed out terribly.

Chumps take their responsibilities seriously usually and cheaters do not. But my basic point is — adults get to chose their partners for better or for worse. You don’t introduce anyone to your kids lightly. But we will move on. Our exes move on. Our kids grow up. I hope to God those affair partners aren’t in the picture for long with anyone’s kids — but I think everyone should just hold their nose and learn to deal. Set a good example for the kids. Let them practice “meh” towards CS man. Oh, you’re here? Oh hey. Whatever. Hi mom.

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pearl March 18, 2013 at 8:05 pm

CL,
I agree with you to a point. We will all move on and hope that our kids accept them in out lives. That is far different accepting that the person who helped break up their family. As you may remember, the OW in my case taunted me by “jogging” by my house in her sports bra in the weeks following Dday and has exhibited other taunting behavior. Quite frankly, I am scared what a person like this would do to my children for her own means or to try to rile me up.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 8:14 pm

For the kids, the price of admission to be in cheater mom or dad’s life is yeah, putting up with the affair partner. It’s a price they will usually PAY because they want their parent. We cannot hold that against them, no matter how much it hurts us. No matter how unjust — the OW taunting you, for example.

Pearl, you can’t control what that woman does, to get your goat, to rile up your kids. You don’t control it. If it rises to the level of danger to a child, then the courts will act. If your kid is old enough to decide for him or herself they don’t want to visit, that’s also an option. But you don’t get to control the OP who wants to fuck with you.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 5:10 am

The boys have a really good relationship with Mum. They know she lied etc but they are ok with that. I have supported them on this that we all make mistakes and she really cares and loves them.
What I won’t do is tell them to embrace CSM. he is what he is through his actions. That simple. Facts. Do you want to hang around a guy like that. It’s your call.
All they have is the information to make an informed decision.

If I screwed a 25 year old I would expect to be expelled from the family. I would assume there were real consequences of my actions.
If groceries has CSM over for the weekend then that is sending a big message to the boys.
Why Doesn’t she go to his apartment in the weekend like they did when having the affair. No she is making a statement now. I just don’t know what the fuck she is saying.

Groceries what’s the message?

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Arnold March 18, 2013 at 5:57 pm

Baci, she did not just turn into this. She has always been this way. I am sure of it. People do not just turn NPD.
When you are a little further along, take a close look at her history, if you can get the info. These people have patterns.

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Toni March 19, 2013 at 10:49 am

They have seen me completely fall apart last year,cry my guts out, panic about the future etc. etc.
Oh Baci my heart hurts for you, my poor daughters have had to witness the same and even though it’s Not thier Dad I feel bad for putting them through the pain.
And something else, for the last few days I’ve been REALLY missing my best friend too..don’t know why all of a sudden but Just having that person to talk to that “gets” you, even though that hasn’t been true for a long time…..my mind is a very strange place right now -more so than usual, hang in there Baci!!!!! We are all here for you!

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 2:00 pm

Toni, that is the hardest part of this. “Missing my best friend ”

I too go through this and can’t work it out. How do we trust in the future if our best friend does this to us. What about my reaction. I’ve behaved like a crazy idiot swinging from welcoming her back to wanting to never see her again.
It would be so easy if she lived in out back China.

It is such a crazy experience. All we can do is try and get through it. Everything helps including this wonderful forum we can talk to each other.

Handy in there. You’ll meet someone special again. The universe takes care of that for us.

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Hope49 March 19, 2013 at 4:20 pm

Baci, Here is what I predict. Groceries and Ex wife will marry and have a ‘showy’ ceremony celebrating their ‘LOVE’. They’ll invite her family, talk about how much they fell in love in their vows etc., etc., I’ll bet that Groceries will likely be so NPD to wear ‘white’ at her wedding to Chainsaw man. Your ex will ‘hound’ the boys into being at the wedding.

I am bothered by the fact that ‘Groceries’ moved so close to you down the road. Your teen boys are definitely upset and bothered by her behavior. I mean think about it. She’s not even being discreet about her relationship with Chainsaw man- she’s so damn needy that she just puts it out there and expects the boys to just ‘get over it’. Hell, they have to deal with the embarrassment factor and all. Very shitty of Groceries to do all this. She only cares about herself- it’s B-A-D.

Soon after the wedding, the ‘sparkle’ will fall away- Chainsaw man will be engaging in ‘another’ relationship and cheat on Groceries At that point, Groceries is going to be one really messed up woman. Really needy, attention getting crying ‘poor me’ sobbing will ensue on her part, maybe even suicidal.

She is trying SO hard to convince everyone that Chainsaw man is ‘wonderful’ and everyone one around the fallout can see him for what he is.

Love your boys, continue to be a good Dad, and continue be a man with a moral compass. TAKE the relationship with the new woman S-L-O-W-L-Y. In your situation be a Dad first, and a boyfriend to your girlfriend second. Why? I think your boys and you have really been through HELL. However, If you can enjoy your life with them free from Groceries and just enjoy being decent men with friends, you will have given your boys the best solid base ever to forge ahead in their own lives. They will be very careful about girlfriends and women to marry in their young lives.

I do know this. Your boys will love you forever! BIG (((Hug)))

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Baci March 18, 2013 at 5:06 pm

Just to let you guys know what happens in Australia regarding visits for kids.

Over 12 the child virtually decides. The judge makes a ruling but it is always in the kids best interest and the child has a huge say in matters.

Under 12 and it’s the character of the parent.

Down here if the boys want total protection from chainsaw man they can have a restraining order put in place. I don’t think that will happen. I just think groceries will live her life and just see the boys individually two nights a week. She just seems to want access to them.
While they refuse to meet him chainsaw man still has the company apartment as refuge.
Interesting that groceries in the last 4 weeks hasn’t gone there in the weekends but chooses to have chainsaw man at her place. They can’t hide anymore because the black Volvo is in the driveway.
Strange behaviour if you ask me.

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nomar March 18, 2013 at 5:33 pm

Baci, I lived your worst nightmare. My two boys were similar ages 4 years ago when my ex’s cheating was discovered. After I threw her out, she talked her last affair partner into leaving his wife and two small kids to move in with and eventually marry her. The kicker? One of my boys is away at college, but the other lives with the two cheaters 1,500 miles away. I see him only four (yes, only FOUR) times a year. Sucks the balls of rabid rhinos, it does.

I won’t belabor the heartache this situation involves. It is the absolute worst and my heart goes out to you. Having said that, I’d suggest you need to cultivate a sense of indifference even to the relationship your kids develop with their mom, and even with the asshole (or assholes) she brings into their lives. ***That is between them and her.*** In a healthy world? You wouldn’t even really have a clear sense of WHAT their relationship is like, good or ill. And the good parenting instincts you feel, and your innate sense of justice, don’t affect any of that. It’s not about you, or morals, or justice. Kids just want both parents, period. Even selfish effed-up parents. And they’ll pay a helluva price of admission (including horrible step-parents) to make that happen. You can’t take that personally, and you can’t let yourself become collateral damage to a child’s natural desire for the love of their mom.

Shift the focus from your kids’ relationship with the cheaters to their relationship with you. You can influence that, make it a strong and beautiful thing. something that will steel them for decades to come. One good parent is all kids need. You can be that parent.

My post-script: I’m ***very happily*** remarried to an ***amazing women***. My relationship with my two sons from my first marriage (though much reduced in the amount of time I see them) is better than it’s been since my first marriage ended, and I gained an ***wonderful*** new stepson by re-marriage. Life reconstitutes itself, my friend. Have faith, and stay strong.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 5:16 am

OMG how do you deal with that. You feel for me. Shit I am with the boys constantly.
It must be so hard to be away from your kids.
Great that you have an amazing woman. Chance to rebuild a healthier life.
It taken time and a ton of work but the faith is back thanks to people like you I have never met.
I wish I could shout you a beer on Bondi Beach

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Nord March 19, 2013 at 7:40 am

Manly. Manly Beach, Baci. Or even better: Whale Beach. :)

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 2:01 pm

You’re on. Any beach!!!

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movingon51 March 18, 2013 at 5:44 pm

Baci, I really feel your pain! That whole scenerio stinks and I have seen this several times with other friends whose cheater and AP move into the same neighbourhood and street even. They say it’s for the sake of the kids, so they can be closer, but I think that’s only a small reason why they do it. It’s like they get some sort of sick satisfaction for having this in your face on a daily basis. Like these are my two families-don’t I have lots and lots of ego kibbles, or my fing harem. I had a friend who was chumped and she didn’t find out until the OW was pregnant. She’d had absolutely no idea and was totally devastated. He left her with three young kids but bought a house down the street from her with his new OW and new baby. She couldn’t stop him from doing that, but she ended up selling and moving away from them and it was the only way she could heal and move on.
My ex, just recently moved back into the same small town that we lived in and that I still do live in and bought a house with his AP. I was furious as well! While having the affair and when he left he moved into a condo in another town closer to his work and I was happier with that. Now, I have to scan parking lots everywhere I go into town to make sure I don’t run into him or her-it sucks! However, I’ve gotten to the point that I don’t care. I figure if I do ever run into them, I’ll just pretend I don’t know them. I haven’t done anything wrong and I intend to hold my head up high and go wherever I want. But your situation, I couldn’t stand. How very insensitive of your feelings to move just down the street, where she’s sure you’re watching …it’s sick! If I were you, I’d move!!!!

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 5:22 am

I’m not moving!!
I few times I’ve walked into cares etc and CSM has been there. I just look at him and he gets very uncomfortable.
When you’re morally superior you diminish their power.
He wants me to flee with my tail between my legs. Not today Josephine!
I do know of a mother who moved away when her ex had an affair with her best friend. Then she returned when they moved away.
Just got to stay calm and focused on the boys for now

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Hope49 March 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

I wouldn’t move either Baci! I say keep doing what your doing. Chainsaw Man is too damn selfish to be welcomed into any social community. He’s going to be uncomfortable for a LONG WHILE. He’s not the type to be coaching soccer, helping at the Soup kitchen or anything like that.

I find it interesting that he is keeping his ‘apartment’. Mmm. . . . I’ll bet Groceries is getting a bit nervous about that. Who is at his apartment when Groceries isn’t around? Eh?

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tamara March 18, 2013 at 5:40 pm

Another perspective.

My father was a serial cheater. I am 50, so this was a while ago…. I knew about it, once I was an adult and my Mom confided in me. At the time, I wondered why she didn’t leave him, and she claimed how hard it would have been on her, single mm with three kids, etc. I made no judgment.

BUT, I do think it colored my thinking to the point that I chose the NPD, much like my father, and tried all the pick me dancing and unicorn chasing. My kids saw this.

I don’t have kids with my ex cheater, and my kids father is a fairly decent guy, but I am truthful about the cheater ex, who was a step father to two of my kids (the third always disliked him). I want my kids to see where boundaries should be. I wish my Mom had been more honest with me when I was younger.

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Chump Lady March 19, 2013 at 7:56 am

((((tamara))))) That’s quite a legacy those NPD serial cheaters leave.

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Toni March 19, 2013 at 10:33 am

Wow Tamara,
My Dad was too,and I was always in the middle because my Mom literally went off the deep end and took it out on me, physically and mentally. He was beloved by everyone, and I don’t even know how to explain how many “Mothers” I had that truly loved me. Some crazy f-d up shit but I tried to learn from it in my later years and be grateful for the love….but it definitely colored my choices in life, and as my Father was “larger than life” while alot of people romanticized it (still do even though he’s passed away) I always saw both sides but followed the pattern (I see now) causing me to “choose Daddy” over and over again in my own life. But I never forgot the pain my Dad put all the women through…whether they knew or not they either thought he was worth it or I actually think he might change for them. God what a mess I am.
So at my “young age” of 52 I’ve decided I’m going to try and live for me. My daughters too of course but they are both grown and we support each other. I just feel so bad for the X’s kids, they NEVER had a father at all and I believed his lies about thier “crazy” mothers…….at least I can say on my Fathers behalf he always took care of all the kids, if not physically then financially and with all the time he had to give. Sorry if this doesn’t make alot of sense but this is a part of my life that is “glamourized” and only family knows…it feels good to be able to “say it out loud” Thank you all….XO

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Matt March 18, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Baci,

Thanks for the post. I know that the goal of chumps when considering the Cheater is “meh.” I get the idea conceptually but I am not sure what it means in practice…you know the day-to-day grind and details of all this shit. I think that is probably where you are at too.

I will say this as it concerns your situation. Cheating, separation, divorce — what this ultimately means to me with respect to those of us that have children is that you parent your kids the way you see fit without input from the cheater. The marriage is over and the family unit you and your Ex put together is over. That is the consequence of continued and unrepentant cheating. So don’t let her co-opt you into supporting CSM and your boys.

Your only angle is what you feel in your heart is in their best interests. That’s it. Plain and simple. If you think it’s wrong for them to be around CSM, so say, tell them why, let them know their relationship with Groceries is their decision, whatever they decide, you will respect it and that their decision wil not affect your love and support for them. In the process, let them know that Groceries cheated, lied and manipulated for her own ends and that CSM wants her and not the instant family, in your view of things. After that, trust your kids to make good decisions for themselves.

I will add that your post(s) reveal a fear that CSM and Groceries will replace you and your sons as the predominant family unit in their lives. I understand your fear and emphathize with it and you. Understand that you and Groceries were their only biological family, ever. There will not be another one. Nothing Groceries or CSM will ever alter that fact. You and your two boys are now the biological family unit. Make it a good one for them because they need it.

The thing that helped me the most came as an epiphany, literally out of the blue while driving. I was so tired of all this shit and just worn down from trying to figure everything out, how to deal with it all, etc, when one single thought clarified everything for me — “I am not going to live my fears.” Fear of being cheated on, fear of a divorced family unit, fear of asset division, fear of paying my wife alimony in addition to child support, fear of being single, and the list goes on. Fear makes even the strongest weak.

Baci, don’t live your fears. Don’t worry about Groceries or CSM. Let your kids decide for themselves after a short simple talk. That’s it. Have some faith in yourself and the basic goodness of your life. Like Arnold, recalibrate yourself. Go on a date with this new woman and enjoy her for who she is.

About Groceries and CSM. Another thing I have learned is that there is never any justice in cheating. Groceries fucked you and the kids over. What else can you say? You were faithful and honest and she wasn’t. I’d rather be you than her. If she is not remorseful for what she did, she doesn’t have a conscience. If she doesn’t have a conscience, she’s a sociopath of some sort or another. Why be married to that? What there is in cheating is grace and mercy. For you, not her. Those are gifts you give yourself.

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Chump Lady March 18, 2013 at 8:09 pm

Absolutely. Beautiful. Advice.

Thanks for this post, Matt.

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 5:34 am

Matt. Mate sorry but I reared up reading this. Are you a therapist because you write with such clarity.
The fear comes from their financial ability to grab whatever they want but since I have realised the boys don’t care about money. They want enough. Wouldn’t matter if CSM had a huge mansion they still wouldn’t go there. They are happy at home.
CSM and groceries always spoke of each other kids in their emails and how they care for each others kids. Of course you going to say that in the affair- whatever it takes right?
The reality is his oldest daughter hates groceries. The youngest one is recovering from substance abuse. My boys don’t want to meet him. I don’t know why. Maybe because they see him as the main reason our family was destroyed. Maybe they see the mess their friends are in after parents divorce.
They just know if they just stay with mum there’s no drama. They can be with her and enjoy each others company. No strings attached.

Thank you thank you thank you for such. Wonderful thoughtful message.
I do realise I’m far better off in a new life. It’s just a process to get all the ducks in line.

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Matt March 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

Hi Baci,

No I am not a therapist. I am actually a lawyer, so I guess in a way I do give advice for a living! It’s tough being a chump, doubly so if we are a chump mom or dad. There are a couple of principles at work in your posts from yesterday that I think are important for you, me and the rest of this community.

One is about the kids, the cheating and the destruction of the family. From a kid’s perspective, the cheating destroyed THEIR family. Pre-cheating your family was safe, happy and loving. So the destruction was all the more intense for your sons. Kids are proud of THEIR family so CSM is going to get all the blame, and rightly so forever. Later, when your kids go through life, they will re-evaluate Groceries’ role. Right now, and CL is truly right on this one, they need both a Mom and a Dad. But they also need from you, the preservation of THEIR family. Groceries and CSM will never be able to give them that because they are the ones who destroyed it. Groceries and CSM literally cannot replace you as the only family unit which does not cause your sons’ pain and hurt. Once you know this fact, you can act with integrity with respect to all the slings and arrows Groceries and CSM send your way.

I would also venture a guess that your sons’ only want you to rescue from this mess whatever personal happiness you can. In other words, your kids want you to have a happy life despite Groceries and CSM. You will, no doubt.

Second point. Society calls Groceries’ behaviour cheating for a reason — It’s CHEATING! It is not a good thing any way you look at it. It makes Groceries and CSM bad people for having done it. Again, they cannot change this fact despite their talk or subsequent behavior. So it is not a question about “everybody getting along,” as your reply post comments.

You get a chance to honestly discuss with your sons what it means to be a character-driven person, e.g., actions not words, count. Groceries and CSM are perfect case studies how to fuck up several lives, including their own. Seriously, like I said yesterday, do you think they are really happy? The only two answers are yes or no. If they aren’t happy as a couple, they will self-destruct again but this time it won’t affect you. If they are happy, after what they did to you and the boys, then they suck as people. Either way, you are lucky to be free of it and that your kids have a family — you and them — that doesn’t model dysfunction. The point is you are the winner either way! Go with it!

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Baci March 19, 2013 at 2:45 pm

Thanks Matt.
It’s a great name.
I think it’s important for the boys to have a really good relationship with Mum. It shows their maturity that they can put all the affair aside and still love their mother.
To her credit she is being patient to a degree for not introducing CSM. The boys say they don’t want to meet him.
What she is doing however by saying you can come over in the weekends but CSM will be here is putting all the responsibility on them to make that decision. That’s a big call IMO.
Last year the boys had the turmoil of the break up and establishing how their new life will pan out. As long as they have power and control over their lives I think they will get through it ok.
What it’s teaching them is they can chose who they want to be around. My oldest son chooses not to hang around mates that drink or smoke.

You’re spot on about the family. I’m just trying to keep things as normal as possible for the boys.

This is not something I wanted to win! I now realise I just want to enjoy life and hope the boys enjoy their time at home and have fulfilling lives in the future.

Matt, many thanks for you guidance. It’s valuable advice

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Matt March 19, 2013 at 4:56 pm

You are right about the winning part…an unfortunate metaphor on my end. It is about enjoyment, fulfillment and wisdom though. The amazing thing is that the anxiety can still strike us even a year or so out so I understand the difficult moments the same as you. You just learn to let them pass I guess. Kudos to your boys for their strong decisions and laughing at Groceries’ attempt to force CSM on them. Hope your boys have a stubborn streak. As a final word, I will never understand cheaters or reactions like your in-laws to it. I think you have handled your situation very well and good luck with the rest of it.

Matt

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Janet March 18, 2013 at 6:46 pm

My sister’s and I watched my father humilate my mother for years with his serial cheating. Children are not blind. I don’t ever remember my mother talking about this with us but we knew. We were all older (25,21 and 18) when he finally divorced my Mom for a 30 year old. We never met her didn’t want to. He lost alot of our respect over the years because of the way he treated her. My Mom gave us a stable home life when he was out galivanting around, living with other women etc….

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Chump Lady March 19, 2013 at 7:57 am

You and tamara should talk. And commiserate. (((hugs)))

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Crazy March 18, 2013 at 8:48 pm

As a child, my parents went through a nasty divorce, and while sometimes it can seem impossible and exhausting when you keep hearing “give it time,” it really is all you can do. I also can’t stress enough that it really is important to give your children the facts and be honest about the “why’s,” because my parents weren’t and it caused my dad a lot of somewhat-avoidable heartache.

My parents divorced when I was 9, and instead of my dad telling me “your mom had another boyfriend,” I was just given the generic “we grew apart.” My mom was granted full custody (she made more money, was a police officer and “friend” of the court, and was a master manipulator). My little sister and I made nice with mom’s “new boyfriend” and were constantly fed lies and insults about our father, who thought he was protecting our innocence by “taking the high road” and never outing or insulting our mom. Because of this, I acted like a wretched brat towards my dad and blamed him for the divorce.

As I got older and a little smarter, I started catching on to my mom’ act, and my dad finally gave me the reason for the divorce. I later chose to go back to court and ask to live with my father. Life after that got a whole bunch easier for us kids and my dad.

A lot of this could have been avoided, or at least shortened if we were told the truth. I know we have talked about this before, but please, those of you who are parents: talk to your kids honestly in an age appropriate way. You will be pleasantly surprised by their understanding of these kinds of situations. I still had to see my mom (until I was 16), but as I got older, I was able to make choices and decide for myself the relationship I would allow myself to have with the “other man.”

I will agree that no matter what, it IS a shit sandwich, but there is hope, and your kids won’t be kids forever and will hopefully respect you and the idea of marriage more for your bravery.

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Chump Lady March 19, 2013 at 8:00 am

Wow. A lot of children of cheaters/NPDs on CL. I’m so glad you figured your mom out, Crazy. And at an early age too.

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Ms. Jay March 18, 2013 at 10:45 pm

Wow, Char’s experience with her ex sounds exactly like mine. My ex-husband had the audacity to try and convince me and our 16 year-old daughter at the time, that his OW was a “great gal”. He only wished that “we’d just take the time to get to know her because we’d soon discover that we all had a lot in common”. I called “total bullshit” on this load of crap! If not for my daughter, I would have stuffed a “poisoned pine cone” up my ex-husband’s anal opening. Thankfully, I didn’t have to go into the disgusting details about her father being a serial cheater and his “side piece” being a married woman with 4 sons; our daughter figured out a lot on her own. She’s now a 19 year old, college freshman, and she let her father know in “no uncertain terms” that she would never be his “side piece’s” BFF, and she had no intention of ever being around “his whore”. My daughter figured that any woman who could stoop so low, didn’t deserve her respect, admiration or friendship. She deals with her father from a distance, she informed him that she still loves him, but she is very disappointed in his selfish behavior, his immaturity, and his lack of a moral compass. My daughter totally ignores the OW, in her mind, the OW is considered “persona non grata”. In the end, her father has lost the most. He missed out on daughter’s “Sweet 16″ Party, (she discovered that her father was out of town with the OW- she may never forgive him for this idiotic stunt), our daughter purposely cut him out of her prom night events, he couldn’t attend her high school graduation (because he wanted to bring the OW to the ceremony). As long as he’s with his “soul mate”, he will not be invited to any family celebrations that are connected with our daughter. He’s now a pariah, and he brought this on himself. He never realized that the cost of getting a “little sump-thin on the side” would exact such a “high price”. Perhaps, one day he will learn from his foolish mistakes. In the meantime, my daughter and I have moved on , and we’re having a great time enjoying the new chapters of our lives as they unfold.

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CHAR March 20, 2013 at 12:41 pm

Ms. Jay:
LOL!! You did have something in common with the OW – HIM! You are absolutely correct – we have had a mirror experience dealing with a douchebag cheater. I’d bet there are more out there, as well. And seriously – didn’t it take a load off your heart to have your daughter not only be old enough to understand the reality of the situation (not his “spin” fantasy of soulmate) and the strength of character to say “NO” – I will not just accept what you’ve done because you told me it was the way things are! I know I was never more proud than when my STBX stalked my daughter at work, and to get him out of there she agreed to meet him and told him exactly how the future relationship between them would play out – and that she would NEVER meet the OW. He was angry, pouted and wheedled – but she was unmoved. Both my kids have said that – as long as he is with this OW – there is no real future for him with them. But…..they did say that if he ended up without the current OW (either by his choice or via getting dumped himself) – a different, new woman would be given a fresh chance. And I am absolutely fine with that. I think they are being very mature. For them – they feel that the price we have paid for his actions have been very, very steep (I still am digging out financially from this a-hole and just now am starting to feel life again) and they have determined that for once in his pathetic, user’s life – he is going to feel what it feels like to pay a steep price as well.

If he learns from it – great. Doubtful, but great. The only concern to me at this point is their physical, emotional and mental well being. And the truth – without doubt – regarding their father (sans nitty-gritty details) has set them free. The burden is now his to bear. It’s our form of forgiveness, I guess – we’ve let go of all our old expectations of him and given him the burden of guilt to carry. It’s been freeing. Best of luck as you build your new version of life with that wonderful daughter of yours!

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Stephanie March 19, 2013 at 12:21 am

CL, you know, I can’t help but wonder if your opinion would be different if you had a child with the cheater, and then were obligated to send your son off for weekends with the NPD POS and the sidepiece squatter. It’s really different. I’ll tell you what–you’d wonder what sorts of garbage that POS was feeding your kid’s brain, what sorts of lies he was telling your son behind your back.

I am glad to see from the replies here that there are so many principled kids out there who don’t feel the need to excuse and normalize cheating. It’s WRONG. Period. It is one symptom, albeit perhaps one of the most offensive, of a very disordered person. I don’t feel the need to direct the child into a relationship with the parent, just so the kid can have a set of parents.

Yes, my children deserve two parents who love them. Unfortunately, one of their parents is a fuck-up, we found out, so they don’t have the ideal situation. I can’t make it better by insisting that the kids eat shit sandwiches. So I don’t. I don’t insist that, “You need to spend time with your father. He loves you.” Because bailing for an alcoholic homewrecker is not love. Not being there for the mundane stuff of life (those are some of the best parts, by the way) is not love. Pouting that you’re not the center of the universe, and taking off in a tantrum, is not love. And the kids know it. So, they “spend time” with the guy who used to be their father, but it’s awkward, and everyone knows it. I can only wonder what they have to talk about–their not-parent’s exciting new life, as if it has been SOOOOOOOO worth it to bail? WTF? What my ex HAS done right, with my early encouragement, is to not foist the interloping parasite onto the kids, insisting that they all get along. That has probably salvaged some of their relationship. On the other hand, it’s been a good tactic for him–the kids are still a little disbelieving that there is another woman. But, all for the better, frankly.

Anyway. My $0.02.

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sunshine March 19, 2013 at 2:06 am

My 2 young boys ask me questions from time to time about the divorce, and I try to answer them honestly but without too much detail. My 11-year old daughter, on the other hand, does not want to talk about it at all with me. She sees her dad as her “hero” and believes his lies about “finding his soulmate,” even though he essentially abandoned his family to move in with his AP on the East Coast (except for phone calls and visits) – we are on the West Coast. So, what should I do? I’ve been honoring my daughters desire not to discuss anything about him, but it kills me that she’s totally ok with all the lies he feeds her and what he and the AP have done. It’s not like I want to give her all the nasty details; I just want her to know the truth. Anyone been in this situation before and/or have some advice?

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Janet March 19, 2013 at 5:15 am

She is only 11 and at that stage the far away father is her lost prince. I think as she grows up she’ll be able to see what is going on. In her mind she knows but in her heart she still doesn’t. Just be honest with her even if she doesn’t believe you.

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Chump Lady March 19, 2013 at 8:21 am

Stephanie, I don’t insist on the kid spending time with his dad, the court does. And, I’ve come to believe that my son is better for having a relationship with his dad — who is utterly toxic (will get back to that in a moment). He gets to figure it out without me deciding it for him. He can judge how his father has failed him and how he has contributed to his life. He’s now a teenager, so he can really decide how much or how little of a relationship he can have.

Now, as to can I relate to sending a kid off to a toxic parent? OH YES. I can’t relate to the affair partner, but I have a front row seat to my husband’s travails with that one (as the mom married the most recent of the APs). But toxicity? Heaps. I had to call Child Protective Services on my ex last summer. He’s a hoarder and it had gotten so bad my son told me the kitchen is not functional and his father doesn’t feed him except for frozen pot pies he buys each day. The courts STILL made him go, and frankly, my kid wanted to see his dad and his friends, and living in filth and squalor is his price of admission to have a relationship with his dad. I have called the county on my ex so many times because of the hoarding. CPS — I should’ve done it years ago. They didn’t remove my kid btw, they made the dad clean up. (Which is what always happens. He “cleans” and then it fills back up.) He is mentally ill and downward spiraled for over a decade since we’ve been divorced. He used to be a functional person. I don’t recognize him now. He’s unemployed, uninsured. An ill, untreated person. And he’s toxic — he’s sued me pro se for years. He sued me for custody when he was an unemployed hoarder and owed thousands in child support. Try choking down the shit sandwich of spending close to $100K in legal fees over a decade because your crazy ex is litigious. I live 1500 miles away from him and he calls teachers, school principles, my son’s eye doctor, and makes demands.

Trust me — I know what it is to send your kid to someone you fear will fuck him up irreparably. I know the pain of doing EVERYTHING for your kid and the fuck up parent buys him some trinket and he’s awesome! I know the pain of seeing your ex hurt your kid with neglect — real physical neglect — and emotional neglect. My ex is miserly. He once took my kid to a train museum when he was younger (and my ex was still employed), let him look at the trains, but wouldn’t let him ride a train because he wasn’t worth the $20 ticket. He dumps my kid off at his friends during EVERY visit (which pleases my kid), but argues — poor him! — he never sees his son.

I GET IT. I get the sucktacular, toxic, dangerous parent. The failed parent. The loser parent. The amoral parent. (Who btw, does the character assassination too.)

This is how my kid has turned out — he’s a sweetheart. He’s a honor roll kid who runs cross country. He walks our widowed neighbor’s dog. He’s kind and empathetic and has a good work ethic. He’s starting to figure out his dad’s mental illness, I’ve always told him the truth about that. He still loves his father. And that is HIS burden, not mine.

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Stephanie March 19, 2013 at 9:26 am

Well, what you’ve and your kid have experienced is awesomely sucktacular. I can’t top that. You kids sounds like a compassionate sweetheart.

It is heartbreaking to watch them lose faith–not because their father isn’t a screw-up, but because you can see in them that it hurts to finally realize it.

I know my ex struggled to believe that his father, right up to his father’s death, was a hero. That’s important to a kid, I know. And, I suppose that I should think of the alternative, and that would be if the ex NEVER EVER wanted to see his kids–moved an ocean away, vanished forever. That would have hurt the kids more than anything. I have explained to them that their father is really struggling to figure out who he is, to feel good about himself, probably with severe masked depression. And I believe it, too.

I will have faith that they will continue to see clearly. I do believe they can and do.

To be clear, I do not badmouth their father–ever. I don’t speak of him at all, and the kids have a car and can visit with him whenever they like–and they do, on his and their terms, usually in public, not where he really lives with the parasite OW.

Hm. What an experience this has all been.

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r louise March 19, 2013 at 9:52 am

This is THE most important and sensitive issue for me. I need to comment further when I have a little more time to collect my thoughts. Thanks, CL for bringing up this subject. More later.

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zyx321 March 19, 2013 at 2:08 pm

Thanks for the post, CL.
This is a tough one. The thought of my children interaction with AP churns my stomache.

Last summer I told ex I would never mention the infidelity to the children. A neighbor is a child psychologist and recommended that action, if I wanted the kids to have a decent relationship with their parent. My father did the exact same thing to my mother that ex did to me, and I have virtually no relationship with my father today. He comes once a year to visit the grand kids. I am the only one of my siblings that has any contact with him.

However, as I think about it more, both my grandfathers cheated, and both my father and FIL cheated. I want the lying and cheating to end, the cycle needs to stop. I want to raise my children to be proud of themselves, and be truly caring and considerate of others.
And I want them to understand the devastation that occurs when you cannot be honest with your partner.

At this point the children simply think ex has a new romantic partner. This person this out of state at the moment, so they have not yet met this person. That will happen this summer when AP moves to town (though I worked hard in mediation… Kids will be slowly introduced to this person, and AP has to wait 12 months after introduction before moving into the house with ex. Still flabbergasted with ex’s comment: nothing immoral with living with someone unmarried if you are in a committed relationship. Agreed, _IF_ there are not minor children living in the house!)

But, I think when the kids ask why I do not want to meet AP, I will tell the simple truth: they were friends before we ended the marriage.

Thoughts?

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sunshine March 19, 2013 at 6:32 pm

Sounds like a good plan, and I admire both your control and self-control! The only thing I might do differently is say that they weren’t just friends while you were still married (since that would’ve been ok) but that they were bf/gf while you were still married…

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Nord March 20, 2013 at 2:44 pm

I would be honest. My FIL was a cheater, my MIL was a cheater, my SIL is a cheater, my STBX is a cheater, and there is no way in hell I’m going to help raise another generation of cheaters.

That’s one of the reasons I told the kids and why I talk to them about having character and integrity and living honestly. That there is nothing wrong with wanting to leave a relationship but if they want to do that they do it with respect and without hurting the other person as much as that’s possible. Sure, people don’t always want their relationship to end but it’s better to end it because you’re not happy or whatever than to end it through infidelity and that sort of betrayal and hurt.

My older one recently had a bit of a thing with a girl and then she started playing games. My kid was honest with her about his feelings but said he wouldn’t play games and he didn’t feel she was a loyal person so he wished her well.

Yes, I was very proud of how he handled it, even though he was very hurt. Now she’s back sniffing around but I don’t think he’ll give her the time of day.

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quicksilver March 19, 2013 at 6:14 pm

One reason I think it’s important to let the kids know the truth is so they know that it is not their fault. Kids blame themselves even if there is nothing said to make them think so. It broke my heart when my daughter thought that it was her fault that we were fighting all the time. They need to know why.

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Colin April 17, 2013 at 1:11 pm

CL – I must admit that this posting has been the best I’ve seen since discovering my ex’s affair in October 2012. The feelings that have been expressed have so closely matched mine, and it’s hugely helpful in knowing there are others out there going through similar situations.

My ex-wife (married for 7 years, together for 10 total) was a stay-at-home mom to our 3-year old daughter, and I discovered the start of things when I looked at our phone records and found 5,000 text messages going back and forth between her and her personal trainer over a 6 month period. Fast forward to August 2013, finding more electronic evidence, having mutual friends ask why they are seeing my ex and her trainer together so much, and my ex refusing to separate herself from the situation and go to counseling together – and, the divorce was finalized last month.

I have been extremely involved in my daughter’s life from the moment she was born and cherish her more than anything in this world. As others have said, I can deal with the divorce, but it brings me to tears knowing that my innocent child is being uncontrollably dragged through this mess. Rather than spend thousands on attorneys, I chose to support my ex financially until my daughter is school-age. To me, the goal very quickly turned to one of minimizing any impacts on my daughter, which meant avoiding daycare and disruption to normal routines. When my daughter is school age, her mom will go back to teaching (which is convenient because of vacation schedules, etc).

I have my daughter 2 weeknights a week and 6 weekend days a month, so no more than a day or two goes by without me seeing her. And, to be honest, she is doing exceptionally well. This though, I think, is eventually going to become an issue. My ex is renting out the former house of mutual friends, and so we simply told our 3-year old that their house is lonely, and you and mommy will be living there while Daddy stays in his house (the houses are only about 1/2 a mile apart). Her mom and I never bad-mouth each other, and my daughter is very comfortable and loving being with either of us.

The problem now is that the affair partner and his 18-year old son are constantly spending time with my ex and my daughter. The affair partner has already been married twice and was engaged to another woman when he began the relationship with my ex. My daughter appears to like him, but it KILLS me to hear her speak of him. I am at a loss of what to say. How do I approach this? When is the correct time to tell her, or shall I just address questions as they come up? She is so young, everything is so concrete to her, and I don’t want to alter the apparently positive state of emotion she seems to currently be in. On the other hand, I don’t want her to think that this is okay, and I want her to understand at some point why I will never be in the same room with this guy. I also wonder if it might be best to ride it out for a year or two given the affair partner’s track record. My guess would be that this relationship cannot last long.

It seems that many folks have been through a similar situation but with older children that are more mature and aware of what’s going on. Any advice would be much appreciated.

Thank you

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Baci April 17, 2013 at 6:13 pm

Hi Colin.
I’m going through this now but the boys are 13 and 17. They form their own opinions. They don’t wish to meet ap so it’s putting a lot if pressure on ex.
It is so easy for us to give you advice but we are not in your shoes. The feelings of how unjust the whole deal is and they are all happy now are incredibly hard to manage day to day. You need strength that you probably thought you never had. It sounds like you have your daughters best interests at heart.
I have seen it in many solo mums around our community where they put their children first and just put up with the pathetic behaviour by their exes and ap. some if the aps are their former best friend. The self control needed is immense.
I try but as CL says I have a few wobbles. They’re more than wobbles and its bloody hard work.
Surround yourself with good supporting people and keep relationships woth your daughters friends and parents. You will derive enormous support from these people as she grows.
I kept been told the other relationship won’t last but really you can’t focus on that. What will be will be a d karma will take care of that.
Meantime mate just one day at a time. It’s a shit sandwich but it sounds like you have the proper focus and that’s your daughter.

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I.G.B. November 19, 2013 at 12:50 pm

I needed this today. I just ran across your blog today for the first time when surfing the internet while I should be working to pile up yet more evidence that I won’t do anything with that justifies my anger that my STBXH has introduced my sons to his girlfriend before the 12 month agreement we made and without giving me a heads up. Nothing like hearing it from you child first. And the STBXH said, “well it would have been hard either way…” No asshole. I could have dealt with it on my own or with my therapist or with my friends, it wouldn’t have been as hard as hearing her name come out of my son’s mouth.
Anyhow, I’ve now subscribed to your blog. I like your tell-it-like-it-is style. I’ve definitely found writing to be very helpful for me in this process.

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Lily March 4, 2014 at 6:47 pm

What about when the AP wants (encourages WS) to raise my child with him whilst him and I are still together?

We haven’t broken up, but reading her emails to him stating that she wants to raise our child with him and how he could get 50-50 custody of our child and that she really isn’t trying to confuse him but rather she is looking out for his “mental health”. Apparently living with me is such a depressing experience. Maybe he should try living with someone else and see how much fun they are. Oh wait, he HAS lived with other women and cheated in every single serious relationship he’s been in. He seems to forget that every relationship isn’t roses and tulips ALL the time. Sometimes you have to wash the dishes, something he wouldn’t know about because that’s my job isn’t it?

He’s lied to her about me, not sure what exactly, something about us being broken up and how apparently I won’t let him see his child. ARRGHHH, I’m so angry. She keeps alluding to me having a “messy life” and how he shouldn’t be fixing up my life for me blah blah blah. If she actually knew me she’d know that the only messes I currently have in my life are from WS. Sure I had gestational diabetes when I was pregnant with my son, but WS never had to inject himself with needles nor did he have hypos whilst caring full time for 3 children. The money troubles he tells her about was his doing not mine, I still support us all on minimum income (rent, food, clothes, fuel, the lot) being as frugal as I can be so that we can survive whilst he keeps buying himself toys and whinging that he doesn’t have enough money.

And she tells him that she wants to raise our child with him! He insists its all over and that he only wants to be with me and that he loves me. But how on earth could he entertain the notion of raising my son with her? And he comes home to me so I wash and cook and clean and have sex with him? I gave birth to his child (not her) and she’s encouraged him to leave me for her so they can raise my newborn together? ???

I struggle every day with not ringing her up and blasting her over this. She has a kid, you’d think she’d understand what a hurtful thing to do to another person.

1 1/2 months since D-Day and every single day hurts like hell. Still very angry.

Sorry, rant is over.

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Michael May 26, 2014 at 9:34 am

My wife has been speaking to a man since November. We are now separating and I’m hurt. We have a 5 year old daughter and has already blamed me for the affair. “She’s not happy!” I always thought marriage was about the ups and downs, and since she told me about wanting a “break” I actually thought she understood. It turns out she just wanted another man in her life, even after all the sacrifices I’ve made! This hurts. I must be sick in the head because right now I’d take her back if she asked, I must also be delusional for thinking she would. The lesson here for her is that happiness isn’t found in another man, or through an exciting fling, but through yourself. Cheaters aren’t happy with themselves, and they cheat because they think the paramour will give them that happiness. When reality hits they’ll realize that they could go through thousands of paramour and never find that happiness.My heart hurtsand vindication is on my mind. NC still allows alienation of affection suits, and I plan on filing one against the paramour. What I realize is when you’ve hit rock bottom, you have no where else to go but up. Now I need to think of my daughter and he well being. She asks me all the time, where’s mommy. I want to say she’s out fucking some guy, but I just reply I don’t know. I don’t want him to have contact with her, and I want to push him as far away from my wife as possible. I may never get my wife back for doing it, but at least I’m protecting the one woman that does love me, my daughter.

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