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Dear Chump Lady, How Do I Move On?

Dear Chump Lady,

I just found your blog today and I am really like your simple, no-nonsense style. I found out my husband was having an affair almost about a year and a half ago.

I am a stay at home mom and did everything *I* could to save my marriage. My story played out exactly the way you describe it can through your posts. Gaslighting, chronic lying, gambling, cake-eating, the “pick-me” nightmare, and endless hours that I won’t get back living in the SKEIN of why???? Yes, I read every book on infidelity and HIGHLIGHTED passages for him to read. I AM the stereotype. If I heard one more time…”It’s the way she makes me feel…”

Character, character, character. He has none. The more money my ex made, the more he pushed boundaries. Now that he is making $2 mil per year, things are so out of control.

Here is my question…I still think so much about this. He is still with the OW (she is his customer, she WAS married, too, but now both original couples are divorced). I am SURE they will get married soon (he does NOT want to parent alone). 

I am having trouble moving on. It bothers me so much that she gets to enjoy my children after breaking up our family. It is very difficult to parent a now 2, 4, and 6 year old children alone. I feel like they aren’t getting the best of me because it is JUST me…and I will need to go back to work soon. Even though he makes a TON of money, I didn’t get that much in the divorce because he gambled it all away. But THEY are living the life. I realize that life with him isn’t living….but….how do I move on from this place?




Dear Leslie,

My first thoughts for you are financial. He makes two million and screwed you over in the divorce? Really? Talk to your lawyer, but child support is renegotiable until your kids are 18 — and even beyond that if you want to push for college costs. I would ask him to provide all his financials for a child support hearing and hold him in contempt if he doesn’t. Get those numbers up.

Next, if he’s a gambler, makes a lot of money, but cannot keep it? Do you think the OW has a miracle pussy that transforms gambler cheats into honest men? She doesn’t. Just because they may have the illusion of wealth, doesn’t mean they actually have wealth. (In fact if you’ve ever hung around super wealthy people, and through weird personal experience, I have — they tend to dress rather shabby and drive 1974 AMC Rebel station wagons to horse races. Point being, they don’t flaunt it. Nouveau losers like your ex flaunt it.)

You need to learn to feel a big MEH toward your ex and the OW. Work towards indifference. And be grateful to the universe that you didn’t waste another moment of your life tied up with him. A man who can walk out on three small children is a pathetic loser, I don’t care how much money he makes (and you shouldn’t either). A woman who would break up a home with three small children is a heartless, amoral, sugar-coated dog turd.

These people are not to be envied. Karma comes in its own time and Karma will make mincemeat of them — but by that point, you’ll be so moved on and out of this, you won’t care any more.

But how do you move on? Well, here’s a couple of tricks.

1. Take up welding. Or something like that. For me, it was welding, for you it might be sky diving or needlepoint or volunteering at the League of Women Voters. Master something and make it your own. Get outside yourself, meet some new people, and make sure it’s a bit scary for you. Melting steel with a plasma cutter is terrifying — but totally kickass. You need to find your plasma cutter.

Why? Because this is your chance to invest in your best self. To reinvent. To heal, your NEW life has to eclipse your old life and what good is a new life if it’s just full of Netflix, wall staring, and diaper changes? New life needs some awesomeness. Go be awesome.

2. Know who you are and what YOU value. Because when you know that, all the shit about your ex won’t hurt you any more. Did you want to be the enviable spouse of the guy who makes $2 million a year? (Even though he is a cheater, douchebag gambler?) Did you like those perks? I’m not judging you. (I was married to a patent attorney, cheater douchebag.) I’m just saying, you’re better than that. Wiser. Those materialistic trappings should not matter to you now because you know what heart of darkness lies in the glove compartment of his BMWs. Don’t wish your new, integrity filled life away for the misery that is life with him. He is no prize.

Why is he no prize? Because you VALUE faithfulness, honesty, and commitment. Because you are an awesome mother modeling self respect and I don’t take this cheating shit! to your children. You don’t trifle with assholes like your ex. He is a bad partner for you, because your values do NOT match.

Internalize that.

3. Realize that the OW is now living your nightmare. I wrote this in my last letter, but when cheaters marry, it just creates a new vacancy. She will never feel secure in that marriage. She is living the devil’s bargain. Don’t envy her. I’m sure life with your ex is no cake walk. Will she enjoy your children? Maybe. And I know this is hard to hear, but it’s better if she’s (superficially, barf inducingly) kind to them, instead being all Wicked Stepmother-ish. She isn’t you. She can never be you, because of points 1 and 2, and because you are their MOM. No one usurps you. No ONE.

Single parenting is a tough gig. (I know, I did it for many years.) But it also rocks — you get to be the primary, go to parent, the one who instills her values. The safe one your kids will look up to in years to come. They’ll figure out their father (and the OW assuming she sticks around, or isn’t replaced, a big if).

It gets better each day. Move toward your brighter future and don’t look back at gambler, cheater assholes and their cohorts, okay?


Ask Chump Lady

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  • “A woman who would break up a home with three small children is a heartless, amoral, sugar-coated dog turd.”


    Now I know what my first tattoo will say.

    Also a woman who would break up a home with three older children is a heartless, amoral sugar-coated dog turd. At first. Then the cracks appear, and the moist dog turd inside shows through–the whole thing is a mess. He starts to realize that Borderline Personality Disorder is just such a nightmare–but the sugar coating! THE SUGAR COATING! It’s addictive, man! And he goes back for more, holding his nose.

    She really is full of shit, too. Sparkly and full of shit.

    As in, “I love animals and and babies and rainbows–it says so on my Facebook page! Tee-hee! I share pretty pictures and quotes from the Dalai Lama on my Facebook page! See, I have two “Likes” from men! I ignore the fact that I hurt three children because I’m full of shit!”

    I love you, Chump Lady!

    More like CHAMP Lady!

    • Champ Lady — haha! Thank you. But really, whatever wisdom I possess comes from chump-dom. Per Dalai Lama — I think a lot of cheaters go through their “Buddhist” phase. Zen veneer, mystery, groovy Tibetan flags…

  • How do you move on when they keep coming back?
    Background: I married her when she was 18 and pregnant with our first, I’m ten years older. We had 3 more kids and she was a really good person/mother/wife for 12 or our 17 years of marriage, then ‘poof’, lost 50 lbs (strict diet of diet pills), got a boob job, cut her hair off, started smoking weed/cigs, drinking and going out to the bar. All over a 6 month period while I was overseas. I got home, tried to figure out what the hell was going on, thought it was just a phase and didn’t know that she was cheating with anyone that would have her.
    5 years later, still married and things were working out (still didn’t know about the affairs), her behavior subsided as long as I was around, but when I deployed again, within the week, she started sneaking a SH (shithead) in my house with my kids asleep upstairs, after only one night of meeting him. She filed for divorce, thought she had 8 months before I’d get back, but I surprised her and came home in a week.
    She hauled ass with SH, gave up custody of our kids, the house, everything, except the 3K I gotta pay her a month. Her and SH lasted about 3 months as he was still married, a serial cheater and every bit as screwed up as her.
    Now, she comes around everytime her newest SH doesn’t work out, wanting to see our kids and have someone to take care of her (cake eater). Just run her ass off, right??
    The problem as I see it:
    Married her young and pregnant and me 10 yrs older…Feel like I took her youth, gotta pay for that shit.
    I deployed often and she has the personality that needs someone there all the time…shoulda known better.
    Tons of suicide and mental illness in her family…knew that before I got with her.
    Her behavior is so strange and she is so miserable that it can’t be a conscience choice…noone in their right mind acts like this.
    Our kids love her and miss her terribly…she was there for a long time as a good mother.
    If I don’t let her come to my house, she won’t see them, she’ll end up dead, our kids will lose their Mom forever and I’ll have to live with that on my conscience. Advice??

    • Yes. Thank you for your service to our country. I’ve got a particular dislike of people who cheat on pregnant women and on deployed soldiers. (And if you cheat on a pregnant deployed soldier, well, you’re probably first in line in hell.)

      Anyway, my advice. Google “codependent.” She’s not your responsibility. You don’t owe her jack shit. You’re raising three children she abandoned AND you’re paying her $3K a month (how on earth did that work out? Does she not work? She doesn’t pay YOU child support?) — that’s enough. MORE than enough.

      She keeps “coming back” because you LET HER. Get some boundaries. She can’t eat cake, slipping in and out of your life, playing family, playing with various BFs, and disappearing when she feels like it. That is TERRIBLE for your kids. They need ONE SANE PARENT and YOU ARE IT. Don’t fuck this up. You need to draw some hard lines on this relationship and that’s on you.

      She gets scheduled visitation and her relationship (or lack thereof) with her children is HER problem and THEIR problem. They will figure it out. Is it heart breaking for them? Yes. But they have ONE SANE PARENT, that’s YOU. Your job here is NOT your ex’s problem (you cannot fix that and it’s not your job to fix that). Your job is to be that ONE SANE PARENT. Work on that. Be the best dad you can be for them. That’s all you can do. And it is ENOUGH. Kids only need the one sane parent, and a lot of kids don’t even get that.

      Part of your job is getting yourself right in the head. Some therapy. Some reading on codependency. Check out the blog. Shore up your boundaries. Realize that you didn’t CAUSE her to cheat, you cannot CONTROL it, and you cannot CURE her. You only get to control you.

      If she lives out her worst case scenario, and she’s dead — not your problem. Those are her choices. I’m sorry she doesn’t make better choices, she should of course, but she doesn’t. Don’t get caught up in SHOULD. You need to learn how to DETACH from her, while recognizing that your kids can have a relationship with her. That is scheduled, legal, and DISTINCT from yours.

      And fill in your own life. Once you get healthy and dump the codependent think, consider finding someone else. Any healthy woman is not going to put up with your crazy ex. You deserve — and your children deserve — to see healthy love modeled to them.

      Hope this helps. But please don’t let her back!

      • Chump Lady, your advice is very good!
        Also, thanks for your support for our troops. We only do what we signed up for, with a deep sense of honor, courage and commitment and I tell the sailors under my charge that premise should permeate all aspects of their lives, personal and professional. That being said, military life is very hard, especially in times of war. Hard for the troops that have to leave their loved ones at home, equally as hard for the ones that keep the home fires burning. Pray for all, equally as hard!
        What you don’t realize is the rules just don’t apply to my ex. She believes she has done NOTHING wrong!! A lie is telling something that you know isn’t true, SHE BELIEVES WHAT SHE IS SAYING!!
        She has shown up at my house, I’ve told her to leave, she doesn’t and I’ve had to call the law. They’ve led her away in handcuffs, her crying and screaming to our kids, “look what your Dad is doing!” our kids crying looking at me in disbelief and that shit SUCKS! They don’t understand any of this!!
        We live in the heart of the Bible belt and the courts can’t fathom that she does what she does and therefore doen’t know how to deal with her. We have a female judge, she has a female lawyer and she plays the victim perfectly!
        The judge didn’t want to sign our parenting plan we agreed to in mediation because my x didn’t want custody ( the judge just couldn’t believe this!!), plus, I am active duty military. She finally did, with reservations, so I have to be careful going back to court. Also, you can’t let on to the court that she is crazy or I could end up paying her the rest of my life because she is disabled!!
        Like I said earlier, she gets CS even though she doesn’t see the kids when she is supposed to, but so she has the ability to see the kids if she wants to. You can’t make this shit up!!
        Anyway, just trying to move forward, keep my sanity, raise our kids, healthy and happy and wait until all this shit is over!! Trust me, when our kids are grown and moved out, I won’t have to deal with any of her stupid shit again!!

  • You took up WELDING?

    (jaw drops)

    THAT. IS. AWESOME. I’ve been fascinated with welding since I was a kid. To me you might as well be driving a monster truck through a burning hoop over a shark-infested tank.

    • Thank you! It’s tons of fun once you get over the whole notion that it can kill you. (But aren’t most things?) I was fortunate to make the acquaintance of a sculptor that had a really kickass studio and offered classes.

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