Dear Chump Lady,
Today I am a mess. Ten months ago I found out my husband was cheating. I did all the classic things and he did all the cliché things from the cheater’s handbook.
A few weeks ago, I found out that throughout the ten months his focus has been cake, so I told him we must separate. Problem is we have three kids and need to sell our house before either can feasibly move out, making no contact impossible. Just looking at his cheating, lying face makes my skin crawl. I enjoy berating him and telling him what a fucker he is but I know it is not healthy. I am trying to make it clear to him that we will never be friends. I don’t want to see him in the mornings when I wake up or in the evenings at supper. I don’t want to know his comings and goings, but he won’t leave. How can I keep a lid on my urge to attack him and lash out during this horrible time? I had a blowout at him in front of two of the kids tonight when he spoke to me as if I am the enemy and snapped at me sarcastically.
What a charming roommate you have. He cheats on you and you are the enemy? Cake withdrawal is so ugly.
Have you talked with a lawyer? I think the first thing you need to do is get legal advice about temporary support orders. That means he starts paying child support now and is legally obliged to support you while the divorce is ongoing. There are usually legal ramifications if one of you moves out, so lawyer up! He may have gotten legal advice that if he moved out it would be construed as abandonment and this would harm him. So the lawyers need to hash this out.
Expect him to fight you on everything — pricing the house, moving out of the house, co-parenting. Just stay strong and focussed on your goal. This shit is FINITE. You WILL get a divorce. You WILL sell your house. And you WILL get a new home. No one can force you to live with him indefinitely.
I had this very same problem myself in my first marriage. He would NOT move out despite all my attempts to lawyer up and buy him out. It was the longest 6 months of my life. He wanted more money from me. (Yes, a part-time employed, soon to be single mother.) And I was so desperate to divorce him, I finally gave it to him. Also he just wanted to fuck with me, and he didn’t want the divorce. I’m not sure if this worked, but this is what I finally did — I lost my shit. After spending three months dicking around on the settlement with him — that he refused to sign — I went nuclear. I told him, hey, we can negotiate this like adults and I give you way more than you are entitled to. OR, I spend it on attorneys and I ask for fucking everything. Maximum child support, 10 years of his pension, a mental health evaluation. The whole enchilada.
I was chumpy then. I thought I could nice that man into a divorce. We could (HAH!) be friends, because we had another 14 years of raising a kid together. I gave him a shitload of money, bought him out of the house, and didn’t ask for his pension, and accepted LESS than baseline support to get him to finally leave. I wish, in retrospect, I would’ve made good on my threat to take it to a judge.
When I got angry, and went on the offensive — and threatened to start listening to my lawyer instead of him — I got traction. He realized there was no game left — and he finally moved out. (And then he sued me. But that’s another story.)
You’ve got a cheater and so I would lawyer up hard and hit him where it hurts. Threaten to depose his mistress. People in his workplace. EXPOSE. I wouldn’t threaten him personally, I would have your lawyer do it for you. Your relationship with him should be totally as NC as possible — even living together. Only talk by text or email — whatever you can document. If he yells at you — leave the room. He he provokes you, don’t take the bait. Do not let him fuck with your head. Be zen. It will drive him crazy to lose control of you.
Three kids, he thinks you are vulnerable. Well, he fucked with the wrong woman. Start taking your power back. You don’t cook for him or clean for him or do any domestic anything. It’s just you and the kids. If he complains — ignore. Walk away. If he asks “what’s for dinner?” like everything is normal and you were never going to divorce him — don’t hit him with a meat cleaver. (You may fantasize about it.)
If you need to talk about the injustice, post here or talk to a therapist, or lean on a good friend. Don’t take it to him. Be as “meh” as you can muster — and I know it will be a mental battle. Focus on taking care of you and your kids.
Separated while living together is a nightmare. The only cure for it, is to get separated for real. Take it minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. You WILL get to the other side. I promise.