Dear Chump Lady,
Hi. My name is Brian, I have visited your site a few times and I have noticed that most of your readings are directed at women. I would like to know if you have anything to help me out. This is my story:
About 4 months ago my wife and I were in bed having a conversation about the night before. She said that she just couldn’t hold it in any more, and told me that she cheated on me with my best friend last night. I was devastated, and in shock — so much so that I couldn’t even get mad. We stayed up that night talking about it and I sat there and listened to all of her justifications about why she did it and so on. Her justification was that for the entire time that we were married she always knew about the girls that I had been with before we were married and how I was her first and how she never got to experience that.
The whole time all I could think about during this conversation was how I was going to save my marriage and what I needed to do to stay around my son. Anyway we came to an agreement that we would do an open marriage of sorts. She would have her boyfriend I would have my girlfriend, but it turns out she wanted to have her cake and eat it too. For about 2 1/2 months I dealt with seeing them together, knowing about the infidelity going on, so I started to push about me getting a girlfriend. Well, all it did was create problems and arguments. So i started to do my own thing, trying to make her see that she was going to lose me and all that did was cause even more arguments. One bad enough to pull a knife on me. After that I demanded that all of this stop and told them what it was doing to me and how it made me feel. By this point I started to realize that it wasn’t going to stop, so I went ahead and filed for divorce.
So now when visitation weekends are over, I have to go over to her place and see him there. I know that man is there around my son trying to be a father figure and role model, playing with him. It makes my blood boil so much to pull up to her house for whatever reason and see him there playing with my son, as if them having an affair together wasn’t wrong. I am trying soooo hard not to do something stupid, like following any one of the fantasies going through my head where he ends up 6 feet under. I need some sort of advice to help me cope with the rage that is continuing to build. Please don’t say I need to see a therapist or anything like that, because I am seeing one and it isn’t helping. I just need some advise to help me cope with my son being around a man of his morality. I need help, please.
That’s quite a shit sandwich you’ve been presented there with, my friend. No wonder you’re FURIOUS. I would be too. I’m not going to tell you to not see a therapist. But I would suggest you stop seeing THAT therapist if she/he isn’t helping. This is some serious shit and you need qualified help, not some Leo Buscaglia quack with a beard and a turtleneck who wants you to hug it out. You need the company of people who GET it — who have walked in your shoes and lived this, unlike your shrink. In particular you need the BTDT from some men who have survived this — I’m sure some of the guys here will weigh in, Brian. For a larger crowd, check out talkaboutmarriage.com and the infidelity section there. Surviving Infidelity is okay if you’re clear that it is pro-reconciliation (fuck that noise), but I hear the Just for Men thread is very helpful.
Not passing the buck here, I just want you to have the 24/7 support from people who get it. When you feel the rage, you need someone to talk you off the ledge who is there ASAP and not charging you $150 for 45 minutes. I’ve got a great community here, but the forum isn’t up yet (ALMOST there), so find an online community of guys to help you now too. AND us here, Welcome!
You’re grieving Brian. You’re going to whiplash through all the stages — bargaining, denial, and yeah, ANGER. What you’re dealing with is totally overwhelming, plus you’ve got a double betrayal going on — her and your former best friend. The very best thing you can do is put as much distance there as possible. Only talk with her via email or text — something that can be documented. You said you go by the house for “whatever reason” — don’t do that. It’s not helping with the no contact, which is essential for healing. Only pick up your son on your custodial time and think about doing the exchange in some neutral place. Being around them fills you with rage? DON’T BE AROUND THEM.
I’m not going to tell you your rage is shameful or wrong. You’re dealing with betrayal and a horrible injustice. You’ve violently been jolted out of one life you were building around, with a child, and thrust into a new life you didn’t ask for. But you need to focus your rage, let it propel you forward into that new life. Channel it. Go punch it out at the gym. Do sit ups until you want to puke. Run laps. Use that energy to make a plan for that new life, make that ex-wife-free life an awesome thing, something beautiful to share with your son.
Do NOT let the rage destroy you. Don’t let it fuck up your young life. Don’t let that idiot ex-wife and her affair partner provoke you. This is a very volatile situation if she pulled a knife on you — did you call the cops? You have a small child — you need to be VERY careful she doesn’t accuse you of physical abuse or you don’t actually act out your rage on him or her. You’d be throwing everything away. You’ve got to stay strong for your son, and put him first.
Read more of the articles here, Brian, and the stories of fellow chumps. Lots of people are dealing with this same sort of grief. You only get to control YOU. That’s it. All you can do is throw yourself into the hard work of rebuilding your life and making the very most of the time you get with your son. Navigating this right will mean everything to your kid some day. Kids only need one sane parent, Brian, and you’re it. Your ex sounds like a chaotic child. You will move on, you will heal from this nightmare, and you will have a loving partner worthy of you some day, if you want that. So FEEL the rage. Sob, kick, scream it out somewhere safe. It’s finite. I swear to God it doesn’t last.
I can tell you better days are ahead, and I’m sure you’d think I’m throwing you a line. How could you believe such a thing, when you’re world has been shattered and that asshole gets to play daddy to your little boy? No one can replace you in his heart. NO ONE. You are his father and that will never, ever change.
Lean on the people who love you now. Lean on the chumps of the world online who have lived this and gotten to the other side with their souls intact. They’re out there, and they’ll listen. The rage goes away, and then there is sadness and grief, but that’s finite too. Your new life will eclipse your old life. It takes time, but it’s always a better life when you chuck a partner who would lie, cheat, and disrespect you.
Big ((((HUGS))) Brian.