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Dear Chump Lady, Can I Keep the OW Away from My Kids?

Dear Chump Lady,

I tried to take the high road regarding my cheating ex-husband having my kids around the OW (who he had a long-term affair with). I’ve been divorced for two years, and he claims the OW isn’t in the picture any more, or around my kids. But my kids tell a different story.

So, I find out he’s still with her from the kids. THEN, I find out because SHE texts me, using his cell phone, that I should “get over it,” she “loves” my kids, my ex-husband. WTFever. <Vomit.>

Funny thing, when he dropped them off he tried to chat me up like usual. Says the OW is “classless,” doesn’t know why she texted me, etc. He wants to be all buddy, buddy, but I was all business with him. So then he left sulking, probably headed back to the OW.

I fear my “acceptance” of the OW (because I want to minimize stress to my kids) is going to somehow make it easier for him to advance his relationship with her and create some kind of family dynamic. The injustice is killing me, like they’re this happy family. And I was replaced. And my kids are just cool with that. UGH.

I always used to comfort myself with the thought that he is incapable of really doing a committed full-time relationship. But he seems to have that with the OW.

I am so trying not to let this bring me to my knees.


Chopped Liver


Dear Chopped,

Don’t predicate your happiness on what your ex does or does not do.

You only get to control YOU. You cannot control who your ex dates, moves in with, and brings around your kids. Your best, healthiest response to OW is meh. Whatever. You don’t exist.

Yes, take the high road. Yes it sucks donkey balls.

Capable of a committed full-time relationship? Of COURSE he is incapable of it! Look, according to your letter, he had a long-term affair. The man loves CAKE. That’s why he chats you up. That’s why he pretends the OW isn’t in his life. He’s still trying to deceive you, and you might again grant him cake privileges if he can keep that door open.

He appears to be quite excellent at maintaining a double life with no one the wiser. You have no idea what he has going on the side. All you know is that you left the triangle. And now he needs a new hypotenuse.

You are only surmising — imagining — he is giving her what he didn’t give you. Bullshit. She’s texting you using his phone because you make her insecure. He makes EVERY woman insecure. That’s his GAME. To keep everyone off balance. To commit to none. To give juuuuust enough to keep one hooked. Then retreat. Then tease. Then “win” them back. It’s a sicko game.

Thank God every day you’re not on the receiving end of his crap. It’s HER problem now.


Your children will figure this out. OW is a part of a rotating cast of characters over time. Count on it. And if she becomes a significant part of their young lives, (and she might, maybe she’s okay with his fucking around, or has greater powers of delusion), she still could never EVER usurp you as their mother. Just DETACH. Get on with your own life. You cannot control this and you’ll make yourself sick trying.

((Big hugs)). I know it sucks.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • “All you know is that you left the triangle. And now he needs a new hypotenuse.”

    And this, dear Chumplady, is why I adore you! He needs a new hypotenuse!!! Clever and true!

    Thanks for your wisdom and humor and your warm way of expressing the truth that we sometimes don’t want to hear!!

    He needs a new hypotenuse. He needs a new hypotenuse. Repeat and smile.

    • Thanks Paula! Yes, some need a hypotenuse. I don’t know my geometry well, but I suspect my ex-husband was more a of dodecahedron than a triangle. But yeah, they’re always looking for a new angle, those serial cheaters. It’s not you!

  • Dear Chopped,
    You took my thoughts out of my head. I am in the exact same situation that you are in. It totally sucks.

    Thanks so much for your blog, Chump Lady. It’s been a godsend. It’s the one thing that has helped me understand who a cheater really is and what I need to do to get to the other side.

  • Chump Lady your advice , as always, is “spot on”. Chopped Liver may not realize it yet, but she’s sitting in the “cat bird seat”. The “other woman” is basically standing on her heels trying to keep her balance because the ex-wife is now her “BIGGEST THREAT!”. How do I kno? , because I was in the exact same position about a year ago. Once I divorced my husband of over 20 years, I made sure that he had “full access” to our 16 year-old daughter. Whenever he visits and the 3 of us go out to dinner, shopping, etc. , his “side piece” pitches a hissy fit. She calls and texts him the entire time he’s visting because she doesn’t trust him. (Karma is a bitch! ain’t it?) Even though I have assured this broad that I want no parts of “HER SERIAL CHEATING MAN”, she is always uncomfortable and insecure until he returns to their place. Now my ex-husband is miserable and trapped. He knows that I am content and very happy with my new “single status”. In fact, our daughter will be a college freshman next year; and then I’m really planning on making everything ALL ABOUT ME! My ex-husband and his “former mistress ” and “current fool of a partner” are flabbergasted; they can’t believe that I built a new life for me and my daughter. Bottom line is this: Chopped Liver just needs to “take the high road”, rebuild her life and move on into a wonderous and exciting future. Here’s wishing her tons of love and peace.

  • Oh, that’s some relationship they have there. He calls her “classless” behind her back. She embarrasses him. He sucks up to you.

    That’s right she’s intimidated by you–you have class, he works for your approval, he badmouths the woman he’s fucking behind her back. He’s got so much respect and admiration for her.

    Take the high road, sister. The classier and calmer you are, the better and more intimidating you are. The quieter and more private you are, the more she and he worry.

    Your kids can see she’s a desperate fool. Let her knock herself out showing them “love” (errr, more like trying to win their approval.) They know who their mama is–you be their lighthouse. You know how to give them REAL love and discipline and support.

  • Don’t forget too, that often the cheater will choose another nice, caring, sweet person to fuck around with – THEY have pretty good pickers, sometimes! So sometimes (not saying it’s the case here) the OW/OM are quite good to the kids, and are either fairly honest people who were lied to as well, or people who let themselves believes the delusional crap about cheating (I believed some of it myself until I had a cheater in my life!) in order to get close to that sparkliness.

    But you don’t have to worry, the exact same things that undermined your life w/the cheater, their self-centeredness, their stupidity about relationships, their lack of effort to contribute to others’ happiness, will undermine ANY relationship they’re in. Sometimes it just takes time. The cheater usually ends up w/a series of not-very-long relationships, and usually their choice of partners deteriorates as well.

    But in the end it doesn’t matter, your kids will value you because of who you are, not because of anybody else and what they do or don’t do. Your life will get better because it’s YOUR life. And that’s what I’m trying to focus on.

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