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Dear Chump Lady, What do I tell my 3-year old?

Dear Chump Lady,

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 in October 2011 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. 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 (my ex just calls him her “friend,”) 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 just 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


Dear Colin,

I know it doesn’t feel this way, but it’s a blessing that she’s a preschooler. At that age, she’s easily diverted in conversation (Look! It’s Elmo!) and she doesn’t have a big grasp of the grown up world. Her world is the only world. She’s got a short memory and she accepts whatever you and mom do as normal. They aren’t doing a lot of compare and contrast at age three. From what you report, she’s pretty happy.

You wish she had another normal — an intact family with two loving parents. A normal where Shit Face and his son aren’t in her life. A normal where you don’t have to explain to her why you don’t want to be at any of her life events where Shit Face might be in attendance. I get it. But you don’t get to control that. Unless Shit Face and his son are endangering your daughter, there’s nothing you can do about his presence in your child’s life. You can’t police your ex.

Your ex is a cliche. Her personal trainer? Really? Oh yeah, that’s gonna last. I think you have a very temporary problem here. This guy will be around until the next pretty set of quadriceps turns his head. Then your ex is going to be scrambling around for the next Shit Face to replace that one. Her idiot choice of men could be a perennial problem, so I hope for your daughter’s sake she chooses better next time. And please, whatever you do, when Shit Face is gone, don’t reconcile with her. Perish the thought, but it doesn’t hurt to remind you that she’s scum. Okay?

Anyway, my point is, accept it right now that you’re the sane parent. You’re going to be the stable one, the happier one, the one with the healthy relationship some day that you can model to her. That’s what you get to control. And from where you are right now — recently divorced — that’s a LOT of work, building that life. So put your focus there and on being the best daddy you can be for your little girl.

I know it doesn’t feel like enough. Trust me, I’ve been doing this more than a decade longer than you — it’s ENOUGH. She’ll have both parents and she’ll figure out who has her back and who doesn’t. Who is sane and stable and who isn’t. Who has healthy reciprocal relationships and who doesn’t. Live your life with integrity and model that.

If she asks questions, tell her the truth. When grown ups marry, they promise to be each other’s one and only. Husband and wife or husband and husband, wife and wife. You’re each other’s special person. No boyfriends or girlfriends. Mommy broke her promise to daddy and had a boyfriend Shit Face. Daddy and Shit Face are not friends. It’s okay that Shit Face is in your life. But Daddy isn’t friends with Shit Face. All your friends are not your friends friends, right?

Daddy’s fine. Daddy wants you to be happy, and you’re a lucky girl who has a mommy and a daddy who love her.

Keep on keeping on, Colin. It’s gets better. I promise. Pretty soon you’re going to be asking me how to introduce your new fabulous girlfriend to your daughter. I’d be happy to tackle that one for you later.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Great response. I love how you said – ‘When grown ups marry, they promise to be each other’s one and only.’ I might use that with my kids who are 6 and 8. I have no idea when my husband will introduce his GF to them but he told me that ‘he’s serious about her’. Okay, do you realize how sick that is to tell your WIFE that you’re serious about your girlfriend? WTF is wrong with you…. I posted a new blog about a lovely Powerpoint that I found on his computer about why I ‘forced him into doing what he did.’ Maybe I can save it for when my kids are older and they can see exactly why Daddy did what he did.

    • STBX told me that as well. When we were first separated and he had known OW for a couple of months. A week after we spent Christmas together with family ‘for the kids’. Yes, it was serious as soon as he realised he had lost me. Had to keep that steady stream of ego kibbles heading his way and she was right there, ready to provide.

    • Wow. Powerpoint? Really? Because he didn’t have time to list all his grievances on MySpace or an AOL chat room? Or commit them to microfiche?

      What a tool. And likely a sociopath, I’d say.

      • Microfiche… LOL.

        I’m betting on the sociopath. The military seems to have trained him well to take on the enemy – which he know equates as me. Scary.

  • How sad this is… Fortunately, yes, the little girl is three. My immediate thought on what to tell her is “nothing.” Never lie, but until she’s old enough to ask questions, there’s really nothing to discuss, IMO.

    • Thanks Laurel – that’s my thought too (until she’s old enough to ask). I sometimes feel like my intentional omission of information is wrong somehow due to all the books and messages online that talk about “how to talk to your kids about divorce.” Well, in my situation, it seems that this is just her normal now. Her sleep is good, her nap never got off schedule, she didn’t regress with potty training, and everything seems pretty much like it was before.

      I think in someways life for my daughter isn’t any different than the last 18 months her mom and I were together. My ex’s 20-something year brother had died in a motorcycle accident back in 2010. When my ex refused to seek counseling after the death, we thought it would be good for her to get back in shape as a therapy method. So, we signed her up for a personal trainer. 3 nights a week at the gym quickly turned into 7. When I’d get home from work each night, I’d be handed my daughter to take care of until bed, and then my wife would get home 3-4 hours later between 9 and 10. What a schmuck I feel like now. This escalated into the 3 of us pretty much never spending time as a family. It was either my ex and my daughter together or my daughter and me. When I’d try to set up weekends away or dates with my wife, I was denied. Then I noticed she was carrying her phone with her everywhere – even sleeping with it under her pillow. That’s when I checked the phone records and everything began spiraling from there …

  • Colin,

    keep up your amazingly good work, and keep being the supportive, stable parent to your little girl. It will not go unnoticed, please trust that. As the child of parents who divorced as a result of Dad’s infidelity, I can say with 100% certainty that I was lucky to have my mom be there for me as the stable rock and unfailing support system in my life.

    I now have the luxury of looking back at my Dad’s behavior and recognizing how deep his dysfunction ran back then and still does today, as he’s on his way out of marriage #4 (and what broke up each and every marriage? infidelity!) -these people DON’T change; as CL says, trust that they suck! And when given the examples set by both parents, I choose to live my life in a way that would make my mother proud. CL is so right about this: “She’ll have both parents and she’ll figure out who has her back and who doesn’t. Who is sane and stable and who isn’t. Who has healthy reciprocal relationships and who doesn’t. Live your life with integrity and model that.”

    Your behavior towards your daughter will leave the lasting impressions you want for her. You will be the example of genuine love, compassion, trust and RESPECT for oneself and others that she needs to see and emulate. She’s very young and you may not get immediate feedback from her to reassure you of this now- but I am grateful to have had my mom as a role model and stable parent, and it sounds like your daughter will be well-prepared for her life with the lessons and examples you provide for her, too.

    • Thanks for posting, this, Belle. I hope that my kids some day realize the same things about me that you did about your mom. This gives me hope.

      • I hope my kids see it as well. I*m not a perfect mother and lord knows I made some mistakes during this process and fell apart at times but they also hopefully will see that I made sure they had a normal life with me that didn’t alter too much after I kicked the cheating bum out…and that I didn’t shove new people into their lives before they were ready. I’ve respected them.

        They told me tonight that they love their father but that he’s a very selfish person. I think they’re starting to get it.

  • I hate that our kids end up in these situations where there is another person brought in and it all is very uncomfortable and awful. I was thinking today about what it’s going to be like in the future at weddings, graduations and other big events. STBX is a complete asshole to me and has been since he realised I wasn’t going to provide anymore of my Nord Special Brand of Ego Kibbles. So how do I deal with this in all the years to come? It’s going to be an absolute nightmare, is all I can say.

    • My experience is that the nightmare part can be mostly avoided by keeping contact to email about logistics and then limiting any message to 1 or 2 sentences. NO. MATTER. WHAT.

      And in the year since my youngest son moved across country with his mother (my ex, a serial cheater) and her new hubby (her last AP from my first marriage), the boy has matured immensely, has an increasingly accurate view of his mother (he hasn’t yet recognized her habitual lying but says she “exaggerates a lot” and doesn’t always follow through on what she says), and seems to appreciate his relationship with me and time spent at my home more than ever.

      Kids are resilient. Hang tough, breathe deeply, and things will improve.

    • Same here, Nord. The other thing I resent is that he’ll attempt to cast me as The Big, Bad Wolf. Look at her– she’s so mean to us! She won’t speak to us after our kid’s concert! She won’t invite the OWife to her house for birthday parties! She doesn’t want to meet my darling soulmate! I’m sure that, deep down, The Dope thinks that I’ll soften over time, let bygones be bygones, and some day, she’ll be allowed to come over to my house to celebrate Christmas morning over a wonderful brunch, and we’ll be one big, happy, blended family.

      Never. Gonna. Happen.

      I think that all we can do is show grace under pressure– no public scenes with the OW, no badmouthing her to the kids and putting the kids in the middle, etc. I plan on treating her like I’d treat any other stranger– look right through her, walk by without acknowledging her presence, etc. She’s lucky that I’m willing to be that civil. The OPeople get crickets.

      • Funnily enough I’ve offered to meet OW, mainly because I wanted to diffuse the situation and calm things for hte kids. I figure since current OW is only the final one and he was screwing around on her and me towards the end then I have nothing but pity for her. I’m old enough to be her mother, for god’s sake.

        Naturally she won’t meet me and STBX FREAKS at the thought. I suppose if she met me she would see that I’m just a normal person and not the evil psycho he’s painted me to be.

        That was a long time ago, though. Now I can’t be bothered. I jsut get on with things and hope the kids get it.

  • I’m a SAHM Chump… found out about my husband’s infidelity when my kids were 2 and 8 months, back in June 2011. Kicked him out in January 2012 (looks like I met my 6 month waiting period requirement!) and just finalized the divorce a couple months ago, my kids are now 4 and 2 1/2. I’m a little luckier that my ex just continues to work daily side-by-side with his affair partner… and maybe still screws her a bit on the side… but he hasn’t brought her out into the light of day. So it’s pretty easy for me to keep my kids away from her.

    I think it is better that this happened while they are so young as well because, yes, they don’t even know the “normal” life they are missing and have completely accepted their new reality. Especially the youngest. But, I still haven’t mentioned the D word to my kids. I didn’t even mention the word marriage or the word husband or wife for a long time. I still need to work on doing that more. But I needed to accept it first so I could talk to them about it without getting emotional. That’s been the hardest thing… cause I sure as hell don’t miss him, but for a long time I missed the dream of the way my kids were going to grow up. But I’ve finally accepted their new reality as well. I had to downgrade my dreams slowly over time… because for a while even after I initiated the divorce I thought we could still do lots of family things together, etc. Do you think you might be doing this a little as well… holding onto an old dream? Now I know we can’t and it’s not what’s best for us. I’m currently about to go back to school and considering moving an hour away in a year when I graduate (to an actual city where I can get a decent job)… and am actually feeling a little bad about that because the current dream I cling to is that my kids will be able to go back and forth super easily between houses and see both of us all the time. But I’m now slowly realizing I just don’t think I can have a life here.

    I have a kids book called Two Homes that is good, btw. I think twice my oldest has suggested that we have a sleepover and daddy sleeps in my bed… and he has said he remembers that he used to. But that’s about the extent of anything they’ve said that indicates they know something is “different”. They ask me if I might want to go to their grandparents sometime (his parents) and I just kinda say “maybe someday!”. Maybe you can do that if your daughter suggests hanging out with the AP… just bite back your anger and make some vague maybe statement. Or you could say you don’t think so… and if she asks why just simply say you’re not friends. He’s her mommies friend, but not yours. If she asks why you’re not friends just keep it simple… like “we just aren’t” or “we just don’t get along”. And hopefully like you said it won’t last too long. But there will be another guy someday so it’s not like the problem will ever really go away.

    I assume sometime soon I will more openly tell them how some mommies and daddies are married and live together and some are divorced and live apart. Which is my regular line only with the addition of the words “married” and “divorced”. I’ll probably get another book that more openly talks about divorce cause I’m the ultimate amazon chump 🙂 That will hopefully last me a couple more years. Then when they ask why we’re divorced that’ll be when I go to some explanation similar to what CL suggested.

    Good luck!

    • Thanks anotherErica. I feel the same as you about “downgrading dreams.” I am sure my daughter will be more resilient than I expect, but I am so sad all the time that her family structure has been uncontrollably and unknowingly robbed from her. She deserved to have a normal and loving family without the unnecessary strain of divorce. Growing up is hard for us all, and it is pathetic when adults choose to be selfish after they have brought another human being into this world. I cannot believe that one would lack the foresight before cheating (then again, those of us betrayed on this site are cut from a different cloth) to anticipate what kind of trickle-down impact this would have on her own child, her family and her friends.

  • I’m not a fan of telling small children or young teens about their parents’ infidelity (with some exceptions). It’s enough to say that you and their other parent weren’t happy together, and have decided to try to be happier apart. (Which is true, if incomplete.) If they’re young and have further questions, it’s perfectly legit to say ‘the rest is adult stuff, not your problem. If you want to talk about it when you’re older, we can do that.’
    The exceptions would be for flagrant infidelity or direct questions – I am NOT in favour of lying to kids.
    My reasoning behind this is that kids DO need to be protected from the very worst the world has to offer, and to be introduced gently to it. And if you stay very neutral about their other parent, the kids WILL figure out what they’re really like, in time, and adjust their behaviour accordingly. If you start the infidelity conversation w/a small child, it’s going to get really complicated fast, w/questions to the other parent, etc. And w/an older child, there’s going to be resentment that you’re dragging them into the negative stuff around the divorce – it’s NOT the kids’ problem.

    • Karen, I agree with you…to a point. I think Chump Lady’s answer is right on. The problem is, you don’t EVER EVER EVER want to lie to your kids. You don’t want to teach them that marriage is expendable. Marriage, commitment…it means something (to some people). I want it to mean something to my children. (10 mos, 2 and 4) at the time of the affair.
      I don’t want them to think that someone just sprinkles dust on a relationship and it stops working. I was happy with my husband. Until he wouldn’t remove his dick from the OW’s vagina.
      Now the OW lives with my former spouse and spends more time with my kids than he does. They are now 7,4 and 3. I don’t say ugly things about my former spouse and I don’t say ugly things about the other woman.
      BUT….lying about the end of a marriage means that it will be harder for kids to accept what REALLY happened later AND it also teaches them that if you aren’t “happy” you don’t need to work on it. Sometimes you CAN work on a marriage. It hasn’t gotten complicated with my kids. If they ask me something that I don’t feel like it is appropriate to answer, I tell them that if they still want to know when they are older, I will give them more information then.
      I am NOT going to prevent my ex from taking responsibility on this one. PLUS…everyone in our community knows what happened and you don’t know what SOMEONE else might say to them.

    • Good points, Karen, though I would never tell my kids that mom and dad weren’t happy together and have tried to be happier apart. We were actually very happy together. My ex used to tell everyone we knew (family, friends, me) that he was the happiest he’d ever been in his life. We spent lots of time together, laughed a lot, were affectionate, rarely fought, etc. And the kids saw and felt that. As far as why we’re apart, well after sleeping around all over town, he abandoned me and his 3 kids and moved across country to live with OW. And I filed for divorce. My kids are grade school and middle school, so when they ask I simply say “your dad wanted to have girlfriends, which is against the rules of marriage. So he decided to go live with his girlfriend, and we had to get a divorce.” They pretty much just accept that like they would accept me saying no you can’t put down a blue card on a red card in UNO because it’s against the rules. Oh, ok. I imagine (and hope), however, that later in life they will reflect more and draw their own conclusions…

    • I disagree about telling the kids. I know two men in their 20s who told me they were furious to find out when they were in their mid-late teens that the reason the family broke up was because their dad cheated. they felt like they had to go through all those emotions again and would rather have known the truth. I don’t believe in keeping secrets. It’s what led to this situation, in my case, and is why STBX’s family is so jacked up–all secrets all the time.

      • I agree with Nord. This is what happened in my character’s family– his father was a serial philanderer (and minister fwiw)–his older brother was/is a horrible NPD hoe-master, chumped my s-in-law really brutally. and when you you go farther up the family tree? More secrets. More lies. More cheating. It is clearly a family norm (to put on my family sociologist Ph.D. hat, which alas, I do possess in real life). But a norm that gets transmitted in really twisted, secretive,damaging ways.

        So–as to the FOO issues that cheaters talk about endlessly–I think they can be very really, and very really causative in terms of cheaters actually thinking that cheating and lying is how you solve life challenges. But it certainly doesn’t excuse those morally bankrupt choices; not one bit. They know it’s wrong, and they do it anyway.

        In sum, I’d say find a way to be honest without being destructive. It’s the cheaters who destroyed the relationships with their children, after all. My daughter says she loves her father, but she doesn’t trust him. I tell him that I will not run interference or manage his relationship with her in any way whatsoever. And I won’t cover the truth (of course, she’s nearly 21).

        If she were younger? I would say that daddy told a big fib, and that I couldn’t be married to him anymore, because being honest, especially about big, serious promises is really important. That daddy wanted to be with another person (if that were the case.) After all, a lot of us spent a lot of parenting time trying to teach our kids the value of truth-telling. If we undercut that in the most basic way by passively validating the biggest lie– the cheating–I don’t think we are doing kids a favor.

        Still, not easy–just another cow-pie that we get dealt, no?

      • Count me in the tell-the-kids-the-truth camp. In an age-appropriate way, of course. So much better that kids understand love doesn’t just fall apart. That makes it possible for them to believe that an enduring marraige is possible. Also good for them to know that, hey, actions have consequences.

        • I didn’t have much of a choice, to be honest. One of the kids overheard us fighting and knew that his dad had cheated. I was not going to burden him with that secret and so told my younger one that his dad had met someone else and that was that. STBX then told the kids how great OW was, etc.

          The problem I face is that STBX is a serial cheat and while the kids suspect they don’t know for sure. My therapist said I will have to tell them one day and I do not look forward to that day at all.

  • I think the answer totally depends on the age of the child. My children were 21 and 16 and I had to go to the younger son’s boarding school, (without the sex addict), and I sat there with both children, while his social worker told him that his father had inappropriate behavior on the internet. He has a social worker, because its a special needs boarding school.

    However, with very young children, I believe that the less said the better. They will find out in good time what the deal is… but in the meantime, trying to explain something that’s waaaay beyond their comprehension (its beyond my comprehension too!) could do more harm than good or get repeated back to him, but in a convoluted way.

    “Mommy said that you were running all over town with your pants down!”

    Again, I would never lie. I think it might be good to have the support of a qualified family therapist to help with this. I think there also might be some good books out there which discuss this subject.

  • Thank you everyone for sharing replies. It is comforting in hearing some validation. I am going to save both CL’s words and Sunshine’s words for later about how there are rules to marriage about not having another boyfriend or girlfriend, and Mommy broke that rule. I won’t dwell on all this, but I think what I will scratch my head about for the rest of my life is, why my ex wouldn’t even step away from the situation and try counseling for the sake of our marriage and our daughter? 10 years together is a long time to throw away so easily. Very sad …

    And, CL, my ex will never be taken back. I have nothing but disgust for her and sadness for my daughter. By the time my ex had moved into her new rental back in August, there was nothing but anger. All of the heartbreak had happened upon first discovering everything back in October 2011. It has been said to me that my ex probably won’t even feel the impact of everything until the alimony stops (July 2014). She will then be thrust into the real world again where she actually has to work (gasp!) and be a parent. For now (and for the sake of my daughter), she gets to be a stay-at-home-mom on my dime with the luxury of her affair partner by her side. I’m new to this, but I’d consider this to still be eating cake even though the divorce is final.

    • Colin, she didn’t/wouldn’t try counseling or try to “fix” the situation because she has convinced herself that she was ENTITLED (and still is) to have an affair. You can’t fix what she thinks is NOT broken…..

      In her mind, it is, and always WAS your fault. There just is no way to reason with that. You are trying to project SANE thoughts into her warped mind. Square peg–round hole……just won’t work.

      I am heartened to hear you didn’t try the big R, and are not going to beg her back. You are already 2 steps ahead!

      You and your daughter will be just fine.

    • Wow, Colin , I can’t get over how LUCKY your POS ex is to have a good, decent, caring father who is actually supporting her lying, cheating sorry ass for more than a year more. I know that you are doing it for your daugher’s benefit, but wow. My ex NPD husband is over $15,000 in arrears on child support right now, has never paid a dime of my tiny alimony, hasn’t helped with our son’s braces or medical insurance. Ex NPD chose to quit his $100,000 job right after he dumped me for OW because he wanted to follow “his dream and destiny” of becoming an actor.

      In the past three years, he lost his house to foreclosure, filed bankruptcy, lives off unemployment, has made less than $15,000 as an actor, used up his entire 401K, and currently lives in his sister’s spare bedroom. yet he still considers himself to be an incredible inspiring success, and in fact, calls himself a motivational speaker.

      Oh, and the OW lost interest in him too.

      Sorry, started to rant.

      • once they go crazy, they go all the way.
        My STBX has no job, no money, no home and now NO family. And I don’t mean me and my girls, his entire family turned their back on him too.
        And he is in this MLM fantasy world, soon to be rich beyond his dreams.
        OW has silicon boobs and silicion brain, apparently they are so happy together…
        My friend just saw them screaming at each other on the street…
        Pathetic, sad and so absurd that at times funny!

    • Colin, your ex is a disgusting POS. the no-fault laws blow my mind. My ex threw away 25 years and 3 chikdren without a backward glance. I’m convinced these cheaters are not really human, they just pretend to be. You are a great father, putting your daughter first, and in the end you will be rewarded and your ex will get what she deserves.

      • Kelly – thank you. And, yes, being a Dad who is the only income earner in a no-fault state is ridiculous (especially if you’re the one who is betrayed). I could have fought for everything in my situation, but guess who gets to pay for both attorneys? I have to repeat to myself that “it’s for my daughter” everyday. Sure, I might have come out a bit ahead (in terms of personal finance) in fighting things in court, but my daughter’s world would have been turned upside down (even more). I’d rather spend the money on my daughter than attorneys. Suppose I spent all my money on fighting things in court – her mother would have taken a long time to find a teaching job (they are not easy to come by), she would be living in a house very dissimilar to what she’s grown up in, and she would have been in full-time daycare after being raised the first three years of her life at home with her parents. The worst part … I’ve been supporting my ex now in her rental since August 2012 with the expectation that, since she’ll have 2 years before she has to work full-time, that she can use some of the time to substitute teach to get her foot back in the door. It is almost May now, and guess what? She has not subbed a single day. I know it’s out of my control, but she is going to be in a horrible financial situation if she doesn’t have a job when the money runs out. Again, I could care less about my ex, but I worry about my daughter …

        • Oh dear… I don’t know if you’ll see this or not, Colin and I am sure to ruffle some feathers for saying this, but I don’t think that your wife is a POS. I think that she’s actually quite ill— horrifically depressed and self-medicating through this affair. Yes, its still very, very wrong and yes, she’s done irrevocable damage and yes, almost assuredly will wake up one day and realize that she’s totally fucked up her life… Did she feel “entitled?” In this case, I think that she felt dead. She just packed it all up and didn’t tell anyone, not even herself.

          Grief is a powerful motivator and I think that this affair was the alternative for putting a bullet through her brain. That doesn’t make it any the less painful or tragic a story, however.

          I lost my brother at a young age too… and its sucks more than I can possibly say. Its been over 25 years now and it hurts more than ever… especially, now that my boys are 22 and 18. The older one, especially looks sooooo much like him and sounds like him too!

          Look, I am not in any way condoning what she did… I’m just looking at the big picture here. I am looking far into the future (because I’m old enough to, lol) and this woman despite what she did, for the sake of that innocent very young child, needs help and a lot of it. She absolutely, absolutely needs to get her ass into counseling and pronto and I think this needs to be a stipulation of the divorce. If she doesn’t like it, let the judge decide. I promise you, that given her wacky behavior and the age of your daughter, no judge would say… yeah… its okay. she’s fine. She’s not fucking fine! She’s lost her fucking mind and she needs help, for God’s sake.

          I understand your anger, Colin. I know that this whole thing is eating you alive and that you want your daughter to understand the situation, but she’s too young at 3 to fully understand the enormity of it all. I’m not saying to wait until she’s 15. There are age appropriate ways to discuss what’s happened, but I remember hearing this from some experts; it really needs to be put in very simple terms at her age, like Mommy broke her promise to me which made me very sad, and we decided that because of that, that we needed to live apart… but we both love you very, very much and we’re going to have so much fun… and then, quickly go and do that. There. You’ve told her the truth in a way she can understand, but not in a way that’s going to freak her out or unduly confuse her. As she matures, you can certainly fill in more of the details and should. I agree completely that she needs to understand the truth, as is appropriate for her age and in a non-judgmental way. (that’s the hard part) Just stating the facts. This is what happened and this was the consequence. The story is far from over, however and I sincerely hope this woman gets the help she sorely needs.

  • Colin, your story makes me sad and angry. Your ex wife is a POS, and the scum AP is gonna dump her ass soon enough. My ex husband was a personal trainer too, by the way, and wow, that is a field full of cheaters, narcissists and self-absorbed, shallow people.

    I was a SAHM for a decade of my 20 year marriage. I have a particular dislike for cheating SAHMs, though I think all cheaters should be stoned as the bible recommends. My ex cheated many hundreds of times with other men, as well as with married SAHM that he was, you guessed it, their personal trainer.

    It sounds like you are doing everything right and you are a great dad. You can’t stop your ex POS from self-destructing, so just be the stable force of normality in your daughter’s life.

  • I’m going through this now and don’t know what to do.
    Groceries is trying to force chainsaw man on the boys. He’s at her house 200yards up the road every weekend. If they want come over he’s there or they have to arrange for him to leave so they can visit.
    Groceries and chainsaw man could easily go to his apartment 8 miles away but they CHOSE to stay at her house. It’s like a Mexican stand off and she is very pissed off the boys won’t meet him. I of course get the blame as I have fully exposed the affair. It is now 14 months since d day and about three years since their affair began.
    I have had to be incredibly strong and stay away. It’s very hard.
    In think groceries is trying to force the boys on him. My oldest refuses outright to meet him. They tried about 6 months ago to get my 13 year old to meet him but he ran away.
    Like a typical narcissist these two cheaters expect everyone to get over it and move on.
    It’s a mess.
    Groceries scares me. It’s tense for everyone.

    • Oh Baci, that’s so sad and hard for your boys and you. My children don’t want to see their father, and it seems he has written his kids off too. He never wanted to face them and won’t go to family counseling (which I had suggested). He hasn’t seen them since D-Day almost exactly a year ago. I can’t figure which is worse, complete abandonment by a parent, or having to deal with a flaming NPD/sociopath as your mom or dad, along with the AP etc. I actually think we have it easier. Our ex’s certainly are not stable people.

  • Oh Baci…All I can think is that’s a really good thing we all don’t know each other physically and or live near each other because I’m sure I’m not the only only that would like to destroy that rotten bag of groceries with the defective chainsaw….XO. Lucky for the kids too… You good parents are desperately needed!

  • I’m in total agreement with Colin about the no-fault divorce thing being a bunch of malarkey. My exH wasn’t on our house deed or mortgage because his credit was horrible and he couldn’t keep a job. And, although I made about 4x as much as he did, we put both of our earnings into a single account and had equal access to it, because I didn’t want money to ever be an issue between us (and he really liked spending). Of course, when everything went down and all his lying and cheating came out, good old no-fault divorce laws said that he got half of everything incl the house despite not having contributed a cent — and having been the one to destroy our marriage! And, of course, now that the divorce is final, he doesnt pay child support, though takes the kids to Disney World, sends them tons of gifts and candy, bought them all iPhones (and they are WAY too young — youngest is in 1st grade!!!), etc. Yeah, I am really jealous of you guys who have at-fault divorce laws… 😉

  • No fault states can really suck. I’m in one and couldn’t attack him on the infidelity. Luckily, he’s so stupid that he didn’t get a lawyer (I did) and I made sure he wouldn’t come after my $ (not much at all but he still was going to try).

    First, Colin, I’m so sorry that your ex wife is a total POS. You deserve better.

    I appreciate everyone’s advice on the honesty piece; thank you. I’m now divorced (end of Jan) and separated in Nov. 2011. Challenge is the whore is VERY much in my kids’ life. And when my ex has them, she has them more. As much as she’s a lying skank of a human, she’s good to my kids. So I endure it. My two kids are 3 & 8. My 3 yr old is just starting to ask questions and I might use the broken promise info, because I do NOT WANT TO LIE. That’s all my ex has done for years, including to my kids.

    • Hazel, I have the exact same situation. Except my kids are 3,4, and 7. The kids memory is more of my ex and the affair partner together than our original family. Ugggh.
      I still haven’t met her. How are you handling it?

      • Hi Leslie, with as much dignity as I can muster. It is a challenge My 3 year old is in that same boat, too. But she still wants to know why mom and dad aren’t together.

        As it is, this weekend I had to use the broken promise answer to my 8 year old…his comment was, “don’t people do that all the time?” (meaning breaking a promise and lying). I said, “sadly, yes, but it is still not okay. and when you get married, you definitely can’t do that.” He was questioning me as to why I didn’t like the whore. Then we had a longer talk and I looked him in the eye and said, “The only thing that matters is that she is good to you and your sister. If you are happy, then that makes me happy.” He was cool with that. It seriously churns my stomach, esp. when the whore texts my son every day to say hi! She’s 24 and has the mentality of a shoe and enjoys making me hurt. But again, swallowing my pride for my kids is important right now. Plus, karma is real. She’ll get hers eventually and I get to watch.

  • Sorry to bring back an old post, but my now 4-year old daughter has begun to ask why Mommy and Daddy live in separate houses. She asked in bed that, if she tried in her mind hard enough like the boy in the Velveteen Rabbit, if we could all live together again. Then she asked why we live apart. I told her that “Mommy and Daddy will always love her more than anything but that Mommy fell in love with XXXXX. When someone breaks their promise to their husband like that, she has to move out.” My daughter just said “OK,” and I reaffirmed again how much her Mom and I both love her.

    The problem is that I told my ex about the conversation (thinking it’s good to be on the same page about these types of events), and she is completely denying that she was in love or involved with her AP prior to our divorce (if you read back to my original posts, I have lots of evidence). My ex is now saying that she’s going to have to tell our daughter the truth (which is essentially my ex’s denial). F!!! What am I supposed to do? My daughter is 4, and I now feel like I’ve pulled her into a “he said/she said” between her Mom and I. I left off with my ex telling her that she can choose to handle this as she likes but that I will be willing to show our daughter all of the electronic evidence I have when she’s an adult if necessary. I feel horrible.

      • I apologize for the delay in my update, but I find that I have to take coming on the site in small doses (easy to get wrapped up in feeling crazy and getting riled up from others’ stories). My recovery to some degree is about to take a turn in 5 months, as I only have 5 more months of supporting via alimony left. Thankfully, my ex has gotten a full time teaching position in the elementary school 1/4 mile away from us. This means that my daughter will be across the hall from her mom when she enters kindergarten in the fall and that my intention of not having to get childcare was successful.

        My daughter is doing well still and turning 5 this summer. It’s interesting, as she slowly divulges things in conversations about having 2 houses, about the other man, about wishing I could come live with mommy. My ex is still with the AP, and I’ve simply told my daughter that it’s okay to be friends with him if he’s nice to her (but that Daddy does not like him). I tell her it’s grown up problems and that she’ll understand someday. I feel very fortunate that I have my daughter half the time, and I am so happy that she feels like she can ask me questions.

        It is a mental mess everyday though trying to not to get wrapped up in thinking about how a parent could ever do this to their child. No child deserves this, and it breaks my heart that I have to have these talks with my daughter. I secretly hope that she realizes an increasing allegiance toward me as she gets older. It’s difficult, because to her, the AP is just some normal guy (and my daughter seems to like him). Without any prompting though, the other day I mentioned marriage when we were playing Barbies. I told my daughter that “husbands and wives promise to be together forever when they get married.” And, in response, my daughter said “so that’s why Mommy moved out? Because she got a boyfriend?” It didn’t get any deeper than that, but I feel validated in knowing that my daughter seems to get the foundational idea that mommy broke a promise, got a boyfriend, and moved out. My daughter loves her mom, and I feel a bit better in knowing that I didn’t sugarcoat things – this is in large part to the suggestions folks gave to me on this site.

        I’m sure they’ll be more to come as the months go on. I still haven’t had to face being at a function with the AP and my ex (he never shows up). It will certainly get interesting when my flow of money stops (outside of a small amount of child support) and her mom actually has to work full time. I can only hope the AP and my ex split soon. To be honest, I’d prefer to have a relationship with my daughter’s stepdad. And, if the AP could just go away, it would be so much easier to start fresh within our new f’d up family. I could at least invite the new guy to have a beer, ya know? My ex will always be the worst piece of trash in the world to me, but I couldn’t disrespect a new guy coming into her life now that she is actually divorced. As for the AP, there will never be an ounce of respect, and he and my ex are on the same level to me.

        • I am nodding as I read this Colin. They are pond scum. I have moved on, and am engaged to be re-married now. But I must admit I still sometimes wonder how my ex did what he did, if not to me at least to our 3 children (and after being caught mine just walked away, has not seen our youngest who is 14 in the two years since D-Day and the older two will barely see him). My ex told our 20 year old daughter at Thanksgiving, when she had dinner with him for the first time in over a year, that he is still seeing one of his AP’s, so she decided she will not see him again. The havoc these people wreak without a backward glance is stunning.

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