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Dear Chump Lady, I’m trapped financially

Dear Chump Lady,

Do you have any advice for those of us who feel trapped financially? We know we’re chumps, we see that and we want out and yet the financial nightmare that awaits us seems overwhelming and impossible.

I can’t be the only one who feels this way. I have been a stay-at-home mom for 16 years. I only have a high school education, very little in the way of job skills and am in my 50’s. At this point, college doesn’t seem like an option for me. It seems it would take me so long to obtain a degree and then pay back the college expenses that it simply would not be worth it. I need to think of my child’s college soon, so I feel I am a low priority for college at this point.

I am the poster child for spousal support I suppose, but I have no idea what I would receive or how much it would help. I don’t even have the money for an attorney to find out about my rights and alimony. It’s as if I’m trapped being a chump until I figure out how I’m supposed to make it on my own with so little going for me. I think about rent, utilities, food, car expenses, insurance, clothing, etc etc ETC. What do women like me do in this situation? Any advice?

My cheating husband had a really depraved affair; rather sick stuff. He needs to be single. I need to be free. I do not want to live the life of a chump any longer.


Dear OregonRose,

You need to get scrappy. Start thinking in new ways. You know those lines you though you wouldn’t cross? Put it on the table. Cross them. Start breaking this huge, overwhelming challenge into a bunch of smaller overwhelming challenges and attack those. Every small success will lead to larger successes.

First thing you need to do is see a lawyer. Yes, even if you cannot afford it. For many lawyers, the first hour of consultation is free. Find those lawyers. Talk to them. Line a bunch up. Next, check out women’s centers and legal clinics. Explain your situation to them. See what they suggest.

You MUST reach out. You must network, network, network and get outside yourself to solve this.

And you must believe it can be solved, or you will stay stuck. Other women do this — take inspiration from them. Maybe it’s not your exact story, but stories of winning over insurmountable odds are out there. Model some of their moxie. For me, I think used to think a lot about my time in South Africa during apartheid (I lived there for a year in 1988 on a fellowship). I knew people who had been tortured, jailed, exiled, who triumphed. I used to focus on one particular memory that still buoys me. I went a political rally at which Archbishop Tutu was speaking. Very exciting stuff. But the place was surrounded by police with guns and water cannons. The cops sat in the front rows of this church, looking intimidating. Tutu made sport of them. I remember he used the word “incontrovertible” in his speech. Then paused dramatically, looked at the police, and slowly spelled it. (Knowing that he was being recorded.)

Up in the balconies was also a large police presence. A group of boys, probably no more than 12 years old, went to sit next to them as a lark. It was illegal to assemble under the state of emergency. They were laughing and enjoying the rally, sitting right next to these men who could arrest or kill them at any moment. (Plenty of people “disappeared” then.)

Those boys climbed up to that balcony. Sat next to fear. And they laughed. I’ll never forget that.

You need to sit next to your fears OregonRose. Take them apart. Demystify them.

If you cannot find some free or low cost legal advice — sell something, like a piece of jewelry. Borrow money from your family, or a friend, with terms and interest, that you will pay them back with your divorce settlement. This will feel very uncomfortable. You cannot solve this without feeling a LOT of discomfort. Keep going.

You need to end your financial dependency on your husband. That’s a biggie, but it can be done, and it can be done while you’re divorced from him in the form of alimony. Get in a job training program — some sort of trade school. You need to support yourself apart from him. Being a greeter at Walmart living in a studio apartment is still better than staying with someone who is abusing you.

Being able to earn some of your own money will go a long way to bolstering your self esteem and sense of agency. Don’t feel like you have to do everything all at once. Don’t get hung up because everything isn’t falling into place — when you force yourself to ACT, the other pieces will fall together eventually.

Make a budget, gather all your financials, take this to your attorney. You’ll feel a lot better when you know what you’re entitled to by law.

As for financing your children’s college — if you can afford that, you can afford a divorce lawyer. It’s sad, but they’re going to have to do college on their own, and there is help for that in terms of student loans. Older, betrayed wives? Not so much federal aid there — so allocate your resources accordingly and make yourself a priority.

I won’t lie to you, it’s scary as hell. The money is frightening. When it happened to me, I’d quit my job to move to his new one, and put all my cash in our house purchase. I assumed my new husband had my back. He didn’t. I took a job out of my field that paid less than half of my last job. I made it, I was fine eventually.

I had to borrow the money for housing off my friend until my divorce settlement cleared 9 months later. Mortifying as hell, but I paid her back and I’m eternally grateful to her.

My point — step waaaaay outside your comfort zone and figure something out. If you want it bad enough, escape is possible. And it’s way better than living with Mr. Depraved Sick Stuff.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Believe it or not my county courthouse employs (volunteers?) a family law attorney to staff our free legal advice clinic–it’s right IN the courthouse building! Why don’t you go to the clerks who would take your divorce paperwork, and ask them if you have such a service in your county?

    You might also start gathering paperwork you’ll need, assuming you have passwords to all your accounts–start printing off statements and keeping them in secret files. Run a credit check on you and your husband and kids. Start getting some cash back here and there at the grocery store, if you can, and tuck it away.

  • Great article CL. I’m years out but if I had it to do over again, I wish I’d had this advice. I made all of the chumpy mistakes…ALL of them! BUT, am I happier being out? Yes, MUCH happier!

  • CL, boy, did I need to read that speech today. I have been putting money back, but it began to dwindle and I was getting scared again. I have nothing but a very small social security check and occasional book royalties. VERY scary. I took the bulk of what I had put back and bought two new computers. Without those, I was, as a writer, “out of business.” I am back in business, but again, with little put back.

    I am doing exactly what you outlined, disassembling each financial hurdle, keeping me as the main priority and each one seems less daunting than the huge, “I can’t afford to be on my own.” Thank you, thank you!

  • Great advice, Tracy, as always.

    As for going back to college in middle age, I have a friend who did it and worked part-time. She just got her master’s degree and it took about three years and she has no money. I have heard that a lot of colleges will help women of this age, because they think that they make good students. And here is another website I found that might be helpful.

    I borrowed money from my mom to buy my apartment. I too, was in that, I can’t afford to stay married much less leave, but that was largely crap as I have my own biz and on that note, my marketing person is messaging me so that I can my website in order!

    • To piggy back off of Laurel’s suggestion, some states also have grants for single parents with children to go back to school. Depending on what you can work out, you may be able to find both tuition AND housing for yourself & the kids on campus in some locations.

      So if money is the only reason you are ruling out college, don’t be too quick to take the option off the table. Even a two year associate’s degree can make a big difference in the starting wage you are offered, and if you can find the grant money, the only thing you are out in order to get it is time.

    • I’m in my 50s, recently divorced from a cheater, and going back to grad school part time while working full time and raising kids. It’s not impossible, but it can be tiring and quite stressful. My ex brags that he won’t be helping the kids with any of their college expenses, so their only real hope will be scholarships, financial aid, and Mom (who is woefully underemployed). I am hoping I will eventually get a better job so I can help the kids with whatever they need.

      Laurel…thanks so much for posting that site. I haven’t gotten any financial aid other than loans and would love a chance to apply for a scholarship.

      To OregonRose: when I was still trying to get together the money to leave my husband, I was fortunate enough to find a career counselor in my city that didn’t charge. Some of the people there were women in the same situation. Also, the public library in my city has a job and career center which offers services for free. Look around and see what’s available–you might be surprised!

      • I wanted to add something further to my comments to OregonRose. Please seek the advice of an attorney, but your belief about spousal support is not a guarantee. I was married for 24 years and my ex got out of alimony because he was in tremendous debt. I also got nothing for the house because there wasn’t much equity (he had refinanced twice). Gather as much information about your finances as you possibly can. Print out the info and hide it–virtual records may have an inconvenient habit of disappearing. If you have evidence of his cheating, make sure you keep that info in hard copy in a safe place (maybe the house of a friend?).

        Do the best you can to inform yourself and have a plan, but don’t make the information gathering a reason for procrastination. When I finally decided to leave with the kids, it was completely unplanned and we essentially had to leave with the clothes on our backs. Plan for that too–and hope you’ll never need to leave abruptly.

        • I do have evidence of the affair. Emails mainly. It sounds like something straight out of a Jerry Springer episode. 3-way sex with family members on his side. Depraved stuff. Not normal. I saved it all so that I can expose the truth about all 3 of them if I feel the need someday.

          We are not in debt now, but I’m wondering if a WS files for bankruptcy after a divorce, can you lose spousal support that way? Another good question for an attorney.

      • Jade,

        Your ex BRAGS about not helping his kids with college? This is not really a question about you at all, but about him. How could he BRAG about that? Wow. You did the right thing. Hang in there. What a useless sack of spit! No paternal instinct. He gets no respect from Chump Son. You are the hero in this story.

        • Mine does the same thing. He calls it teaching them “financial responsibility”, when actually, he’s the most selfish human being on the planet. That money is all his now (and the new wife’s), he did his duty for 18 years.

          “Nobody owes you a living” It’s the fiscal equivalent of teaching a kid to swim by taking them out to the middle of a lake and throwing them in.

          • I call it paternal abandonment.

            I hope the kids get angry and do well. I gave my two cents worth of advice on colleges below. These fathers will reap what they sow. They’ll be lonely and feel abandoned, when it was they who did the abandoning.

            This is very depressing to read about. I’m sorry that there are fathers like this. Hang in there. The kids will appreciate you sticking with them, and, using community colleges and other resources, they will get to college and will do well.

    • Thank you so much for the link above. Truly helpful & motivating. I have a Masters Degree but need to change fields for a higher income.

  • Rose,
    Stephanie brought up a good point about tucking money away during trips to the grocery store. I had a small stash of cash from doing this. I just drew cash over the purchase amount, $20 here, $20 there, until I’d eventually had a good amount saved up. You might want to try it. And it’s a small step towards freedom that you can start immediately as you start to gain a grip on your situation, which will help you to gain strength in yourself and your ability to handle this. It’s a good way of pulling money, especially if your husband controls the money, as did mine. (He was just too stupid to know that a gallon of milk and a loaf of bread didn’t cost $26).

        • There is another way to get money if your spouse watches it closely. Get cash from the ATM for your shopping rather than use the credit card and buy shit like clothes, towels, stuff that most people don’t really notice and then return the items for cash back, save those receipts. If you have a Paypal account of your own (not joint), pay for shit online from that and then return it – the cash goes into the Paypal account. You can “accidentally” order 2 of the same item online and return it and it won’t raise an eyebrow, no need to mention to your spouse that you are using Paypal

          • That’s so true, my Mom reminded me about cash back at the grocery store.
            I also sell online and don’t share all the money I make, it stays in my Paypal account or I withdraw asking for a check so can cash it and squirrel away.

    • Sorry Guys, but she needs to triple check that advice with a lawyer. Taking marital assets and hiding it is fraud. If she has to do a Net Worth Statement, the opposing council will come down on out of line charges like a ton of bricks.
      You can do more harm than good.
      Basically it is stealing marital assets; not worth it.
      You are much better off taking a loan from a family or friend. Document the loan and draw up papers with a payback plan. The courts tend to look at that in a better light than hiding money.
      Other than that, it is all good advice.

  • Yes OrRose, dig deep for your inner strength. You probably have a lot more than you realize. Also look around for others who can help you too.

    Check with a domestic violence agency to see if there are any resources that can help you. It depends where you live, but I was surprised to find out how much help is out there. The agency I am working with does recognize infidelity as abuse, and I wouldn’t be surprised if your depraved husband is otherwise mentally abusive.

    They can help women with every aspect of getting away from an abusive man, including health care, legal assistance, education, child care. I just found out about interest free loans for women in crisis (not just victims of abuse), to help with the sort of problems you are facing. There is also educational assistance available. Look for non-profit family law agencies.

    There are a lot of different things that can keep us stuck. I am approaching two years of trying to get away, not because of finances but for fear of retribution. Now that I have finally reached out for help I feel like I am close to being able to leave. I hope you find what you need to get away.

    • You are so right about not being surprised if he is otherwise mentally abusive. He is very controlling, always has to be right and criticizes me on every little thing, still to this day, despite all the damage he has knowingly done to me with regards to his affair. He has this need for constant validation and I cannot give him any validation. My happiest moments are when I plan my escape/divorce.

  • hi. I had to step in here when you said Walmart. I work for them and have been able to move up through their company. Yes, if you need to, start there. No matter what position your take it offers the ability to learn. It offers security for those that have a drive to succeed, you do not require degrees to move up, they promote from within, because our workforce is primarily female it offers wonderful management mentors. I got a job with them, stepped out of my comfort zone, learned about everybody else’s jobs, so that I was multi trained. When my husband was having his affair I was able to get promoted into middle level management. Working there did wonders for my self- esteem, my co- workers were there to offer support when I kicked him out. I only had a high school education and had not work for about ten years.
    Don’t just look at them. A lot of companies now operate under the same policies of hiring and training, then promoting. If you decide these places aren’t for you, then it becomes a stepping stone to other companies. Once you have some confidence then you can start looking at education. you don’t need to go full time and for years to colleges or universities. Many now offer night classes, weekend courses and online ( I did this) and you attend when you can afford them. Not stay out of the work force to attend and lose valuable time. each class helps you no matter how its offered as the idea is to move forward in training. When I got 95% on my online course I was so proud as I paid for it myself, was able to do it while working and it helped me get my promotion.
    Many people snub their noses at working at retail companies but believe me when I say they have offered a way out for thousands of women. I’d still be married to an abuser and living with his affairs if it weren’t for them.

  • I am a huge fan of higher education. That said, I would strongly recommend that returning students look into their local community college programs. Often community colleges offer associate degrees or other training programs in areas where the community has specific needs. For example, if there’s a nursing shortage in your area, you might be able to pursue nursing licensure at the community college and step into a job with a livable wage. Allow for a couple of years to complete the degree work. Community colleges are also more affordable than 4-year schools.

    The one caveat is that associate degree programs can be very practical in nature, and some of thos.e classes won’t transfer well into a 4-year degree program. For example, locally, the community college offers two degree tracks for biotechnology. The applied track primarily shows students how to use the lab instruments. Yes, they do learn science, but only as much as they need to run the tests. This track doesn’t transfer well, and students are often surprised to learn that when they do try to complete the 4 year degree at the local university, they will have 3 or 4 years to go on top of the 2 they just completed!

    So check out with the community college to see which programs are available. If you think there’s the possibility that you might want to continue with a 4-year degree down the line, then ask which programs work best with that goal in mind. Otherwise, you can get some good training at a good price and be well on the way to financial independence.

    As for your children’s education? I agree with CL. It’s not necessary for you to pay their way through college. They can take out loans. Everyone’s concerned with student indebtedness, but that concern needs to look at education from a big picture perspective. No one said you need to go to a school that costs $$$. In my state, you can get a 4-year degree for about $30-35K from either of our flagship state schools, and a bit less for some of the other ones. That sounds like a lot of money until you go car shopping. Lots of people will think nothing of financing $30-40K for a truck that they’ll trade in or sell within 8 years. Education has a better rate of return and the skills last forever, even if sometimes skills like learning a foreign language don’t seem to have immediate practical value.

    If the kids don’t really have an interest in education, then working or military service for a few years after high school will help them focus better so they can decide whether higher education is worth it for them, and if so, whether they’re going the 2 or 4-year route.

    In the meantime, you become an awesome role model. You’re the one who went back to school, did what it takes to get trained to get a good job, and you take control over your life.

    I also agree that you should check out the womens resources in your area. What your husband has done may be classified as abusive, especially if it’s considered depraved. You may discover you have more resources than you realize.

    Best of luck!

  • Breaking down a scary task is daunting, but you can do it. It does take some pragmatic thinking, a trusted friend or family member, and sadly, some time.

    1. Identify someone who wants you to be genuinely happy; someone you can trust with your feelings and money; someone who will not gossip about your reasons for wanting to leave. They are the key to your freedom.

    2. Cash back at the grocery store is your friend. Give it to a trusted friend to hold for when you need to pay an attorney or put a down payment on an apartment. Fill a shoebox with sentimental items and valuables and ask him/her to hold them, too. My husband was stealing money given by his mother for vacations for our family for years. Had I not emptied out what was left (after he cashed in savings bonds without my knowledge) in our safe deposit box, he would have taken everything.

    3. You will need to provide a ton of paperwork to your attorney to file for divorce, so start making copies now and asking your friend to keep them secure. Go to your State’s web site and poke around for divorce procedures. You will find a list of items needed to file.

    4. Choosing the right attorney is like choosing shoes; not all will be the right fit. Find those who will consult with you for free, and trust your gut. It they push you, talk fees before even looking at your case, or are not based in your county (a HUGE mistake I made), think twice. A good attorney will have something filed for you within 30 days and will contact you promptly when you call with questions. They will also have established, important relationships with the court personnel, and have appeared before your assigned judge before, so they can give you an idea of how your case will play out.

    5. Get yourself a good therapist! You need someone who handles divorce trauma and can help advise you on taking those small steps toward freedom. Again, not all therapists are the same; choose the one you feel most comfortable talking to. Many insurance companies cover this cost, and you can always tell your husband that your therapist is helping you through menopause. Misogynist husbands hate that subject.

    6. Enroll in one or two courses at your local community college. They are quite affordable and most have an agreement with local state universities that will transfer your credits for a four year bachelor’s degree. There are financial aid programs out there for everyone. Many stay-at-home mothers feel they cannot go to college because their children are almost ready to go, too. This actually works in your favor when applying for financial aid with your children.

    7. Open a new email account for private correspondence with your attorney, and most importantly, LOCK your computer or log off when you are done!

    8. Open a credit card in your name only, buy small items with it, then pay it off every month. You will begin to establish personal credit.

    9. Sign up for this blog’s email posts. For those of us who have experienced the pain of betrayal and humiliation of being married to a cheater, you will find this sight to be a beacon of hope, and a really nice place to visit when you need to feel validated or even laugh at the absurdity of the cheater’s mindset.

    Finally, please allow me to share a pearl of wisdom that drove me through many months of school. One of my professors met us on the first day of class. It was one of the first courses required in my master’s program, and he asked how many of us felt the next three-four years seemed endless. We all raised our hands. He replied that we should picture two selves; one is the person we will be in five years with our degree in hand; and the other will be the person we will be having not completed the program. In short, if nothing changes, NOTHING will change.

    You can do this.

  • Dear OregonRose,

    Cash back at the grocery store was also my friend. Once I had $100, I would take it to my attorney’s office, lay it all out on the paralegal’s desk, snap a photo, & get my receipt. That way I was not tempted to spend it elsewhere. Do that for a few months, & if you can get $100 each from a few friends, you will have your retainer fee in no time.

    Wait until you are divorced to go to college. Once you are Single, and hopefully you will insist your lawyer secure the tax exemption for your kids on YOUR taxes every year, you will be amazed at the amount of tax refund for which you qualify. Look into filing as “head of household” each year. If you secure a low wage job, you will qualify for grants to go to college. Community Colleges offer the lowest tuition rates. I actually receive a refund from the college after tuition is paid , and I use that for my living expenses. Student loans are at 3.6 %, again you can use the refund for housing, etc. This will also help you establish credit in your name… and it is “good” debt to have.

    SNAP (food stamps) will also assist you. If you are a full time college student, and especially if you are over 50, you should be eligible. But again, wait until you are divorced. Use any assets you receive in the divorce settlement to promptly pay your attorney your legal fee balance…she will gladly wait for it. Divide up what you need to pay her, and insist those monies are issued in YOUR name & Your attorney’s name. You will be happy to be debt free. This can also help you qualify for more college aid, since you are reducing your amount of assets. I you receive an IRA etc from the settlement, DO NOT tap into it because you will pay lots of penalties.

    If your kids are in college and you are in college at the same time, EVERYONE will qualify for assistance. Sell your wedding ring ASAP & put that $$ in a safe deposit box. Work with your banker to open fee-free checking accounts. If you earn a low wage, apply for free meals at your kid’s schools. It saves you $$ and they don’t even have to know you did it. I earn $10,000 a year as a substitute teacher, in college full time which is paid for by grants, qualify for an awesome state health insurance plan… I am making it happen and you can too!

  • Dear OregonRose,
    Cash back at the grocery store was also my friend. Once I had $100, I would take it to my attorney’s office, lay it all out on the paralegal’s desk, snap a photo, & get my receipt. That way I was not tempted to spend it elsewhere. Do that for a few months, & if you can get $100 each from a few friends, you will have your retainer fee in no time.
    Wait until you are divorced to go to college. Once you are Single, and hopefully you will insist your lawyer secure the tax exemption for your kids on YOUR taxes every year, you will be amazed at the amount of tax refund for which you qualify. Look into filing as “head of household” each year. If you secure a low wage job, you will qualify for grants to go to college. Community Colleges offer the lowest tuition rates. I actually receive a refund from the college after tuition is paid , and I use that for my living expenses. Student loans are at 3.6 %, again you can use the refund for housing, etc. This will also help you establish credit in your name… and it is “good” debt to have.
    SNAP (food stamps) will also assist you. If you are a full time college student, and especially if you are over 50, you should be eligible. But again, wait until you are divorced. Use any assets you receive in the divorce settlement to promptly pay your attorney your legal fee balance…she will gladly wait for it. Divide up what you need to pay her, and insist those monies are issued in YOUR name & Your attorney’s name. You will be happy to be debt free. This can also help you qualify for more college aid, since you are reducing your amount of assets. I you receive an IRA etc from the settlement, DO NOT tap into it because you will pay lots of penalties.
    If your kids are in college and you are in college at the same time, EVERYONE will qualify for assistance. Sell your wedding ring ASAP & put that $$ in a safe deposit box. Work with your banker to open fee-free checking accounts. If you earn a low wage, apply for free meals at your kid’s schools. It saves you $$ and they don’t even have to know you did it. I earn $10,000 a year as a substitute teacher, in college full time which is paid for by grants, qualify for an awesome state health insurance plan… I am making it happen and you can too!

  • Dear O.Rose…
    Your story touched my heart. My beloved Mother stayed in a miserable marriage because she was in the same situation and sadly died in it.
    Even tho you are a “stay at home Mom”…. you DO have marketable skills !
    Breathe… Calm down …stop thinking about the ass you are legally bound to …. start thinking about YOU. Those kids WILL graduate school, they may be your business partner, in the very near future.
    Google” Women Entreprenteur (sp) Network in your city/ town.
    They may inspire you.
    Got a great recipe for hummus dip ?
    The perfect pumpkin muffin ? You can look at getting advice on selling at a local farmers markets…. local antique mall. Selling them all on line. Sell clothing on EBay.
    Collect your best recipes , print up a cook book, while teaching cooking classes either in your home or your churchs’ kitchen.
    Make a FaceBook page about your culinary creations. The holidays are coming …. maybe take orders for company gifts.
    Catering … setting up buffets for parties / office meeting lunches.
    Do you have a mini-van ?Contact young working Moms about shuffling their kids to their events. Home day care ? Home Senior Care ?
    Have your own house cleaning biz…. new construction / office. Degrading ? No , you are starting your OWN business ! You can grow it where you can eventually hire others to work for you.
    Start a “Kiddie Music Biz “. Rent a large room at a local church to have the kids meet , play games, play music.
    Rent a church room and teach tap dance/ exercise routines.
    Check into student aide for beauty school. You can learn to be a hair stylist.
    Do book keeping free lance if need be … take a couple of classes while doing dog walking.
    Learn to set tile, for remodels or new construction….artistic work !
    You can do these while working part -time at a local store. You never know you you may meet .You may have to work two part-time jobs , FOR A WHILE…. not forever.
    At our age… we have much to give, altho the job market will not let us. So you may have to take a 1099 job…. but you can make some REAL $$$$$$ doing so.
    With FB , Twitter you can market your services, talents ideas, products .
    Please contact someone thru the SBA, a local college may give you some direction.
    Do reach out to others, a divorce support group.These people will have advise to share.They want to help, share , all just for the asking.
    Move out your comfort zone…. face your fears…. and move TOWARD them.
    They aren’t as scary, as they are in your head . I PROMISE YOU.
    Keep in touch here…. you have a supportive group here who do want to help. and care .
    WE wish you the BEST xo

    • Home senior care is a great idea. People are willing to pay a lot for care for their elderly parents — I certainly was.

      • I was thinking that too. I have also seen many ads for room for free, in exchange for being there to help out a house-bound senior. The last one I saw I would do myself, gladly- gorgeous, huge house up on the hill, fully furnished private half of the house in exchange for 5-6 hrs of care and companionship daily. Plus, probably a great way to network to get your life on track, seniors know EVERYONE!
        There’s always a way, just make your first step, and remember that someday you’ll look back and be so proud- ‘I did that!’
        Also, be careful, don’t tip your hand to him. Time to turn into James Bond, until you are completely ready!
        I have received help from VOA, look for them where you are. I got a year with an awesome therapist for free, due to emotional abuse.
        Un-stick yourself, and let everyone here give you strength, we’ve been there too. OXO

    • I am dumbfounded at the fabulous a dive that is pouring forth. I am four years from seventy and had not a clue what to do. Now, I have so many alternatives, I am not sure which avenue to take…but I will and I ail thank all of you for opening the paths.

      • Yoder, 70 can be your new 30 if you’re brave enough to take the first baby step toward a future where you are happy, valued and free from a miserable, selfish cheater. I went to a play last night with some friends, and a hike through beautiful country with my son and his new dog (now that I don’t need permission, I got the kid the dog he wanted his whole life) this afternoon.

        I still have my moments when I panic and weep about the injustice of it, but I find I am more and more happier than crushed these days.

        You will be, too.

        • I am already happier, even though he is still in the house. I have such a comfortable detachment, as I do the chores. It is so nice to curl up and let my mind wander and wonder about the future. All the planning and rethinking of things is only up to me. I love it when I start to get up and go ask him something and realize that it does not matter what he thinks…about anything. My own private thoughts, all to myself, no intrusions, no qualifying why I think what.

  • Oh I forget to mention…. research how to help others “down size” homes. That is a up & coming much needed biz. You can help, others , who are moving into retirement living, down size empty nesters … and help those who are down sizing due to divorce. More than you know .

  • O. Rose, I was a SAHM for nearly a decade and only worked part time prior to that (went part time when the kids arrived) so I get your fears. I have added stresses that I won’t get into but I can say, without a doubt, that I was facing what I saw as insurmountable problems. I was completely beholden to my ex financially.

    Well, I started going to conferences that were connected to my former work in any way. I met with friends, I held dinner parties for friends and asked them to bring others along who might be good networking people for me. Eventually one of those introductions paid off and I got a short term contract. I’ve been working that, building my skills, networking more, screwing up a bit because I haven’t worked in so long, picking myself back up and working harder….and more lunches, more calls to people I hardly know, networking on, asking people flat out if they know of anything, even the tiniest bit of work that could help me rebuild.

    Today I got another small bit of work. Not much money but for a high profile company in my field working on a project carrying a name that everyone in the world owuld probably recognise. it’s not glam work but it’s another brick in my wall, so to speak. I’m in talks to take a job that I’m probably not qualified to do but I get what they need and I think I can do it anyway. I’ll meet them again in a few weeks. The project I’ve been working on may need me a bit longer for some followup work. I try to schedule at least one lunch/coffee meeting each week, no matter what…and often these meetings are with people who are freinds or colleagues of friends–I have often never met them and have simply reached out to them. One of those meetings has led to a man in my field endorsing me like mad on linkedin. That’s led to people taking me more seriously.

    I’ll be 50 in a few years and I’m scared shitless half the time. Sometimes I have total meltdowns from the stress of all this and the worry and fear. And you know what I do? I reach out to a group of friends and pour my heart out to them and they prop me up and help me get back on my feet and face the new day.

    IT IS HARD. I will not lie and say it is easy. And you will screw up, have setbacks, do and say dumb things (I can’t even write some of the dumb shit I’ve done and said). YOu will drive your friends batty at times as you struggle through. But things will slowly start to come together – probably not as quickly as you’d like but it will happen if you just keep on.

    You can do it, you will survive, more people than you’d ever believe will be there for you. Your horizons will expand, you will have new and amazing people in your life, you may lose a few friends along the way or decide to set a few aside and that’s just all part of growing and changing and making your life what YOU want it to be.

    You can do this, I promise. Just take it one step at a time and don’t let the setbacks get you down.

    • Oh, and my goal is to be completely free of my ex financially because he uses money to fuck with me and try to control me. Screw him. There is no way I’ll let that idiot get the best of me. When I feel a lack of motivation and like I can’t carry on I imagine the look of satisfaction on his face should I fail. And then I toughen up a bit and get on with things. Nothing like a resentful, cheating ex wanting you to fail because you wouldn’t put up with their bullshit to motivate the fuck out of you.

      • A-MEN! The easiest way to motivate me has always been to say I couldn’t do something. Every day is one day closer to the moment I care less if X pays his child support or not. Fuck him and the cross-eyed bimbo he colluded with to ruin me and the lives of my sons.

        • Hear, hear. The length of time he’s dragged this shit out, the continued fuckery from him…to say I am motivated and kick my own ass (or ask someone to do it for me) when I feel myself faltering would be an understatement.

          I had a really crap week in some ways, topped by some more bullshit by him yesterday. I felt myself reaching that point of saying ‘I just CANNOT deal with this or do this any longer’. So I got in touch with a great friend and poured it out. And she kindly but firmly told me to take the night to get a good rest and then leave it all behind once I woke up, because no one could do this but me.

          I adore my friends. They’ve saved me more times than I can count, so I think an important component is to surround yourself with people who only care about you and have no interest in your ex. I weeded out a few friends and continue to do so over time, because I don’t want people around me who make excuses for my ex, who STILL acts like he’s the victim. It’s been hard and it’s been painful at times but it’s also made room for new people are are really on my side and are hugely supportive. And I reached out to old friends as well, people who had fallen by the wayside over the years due to me making my ex and his world my world. They have pretty much all rallied around me to varying degrees.

          Best part of all of this? I no longer feel like I’m playing a role. I have my life full of people who like ME, the me that was slowly getting buried by Ex and his vampiric ways. You will see, O Rose, that your life will get better, be filled with people who actually like the real you and you will be happy with your new life.

  • Oregon Rose:
    You can do this.
    You have run a household for years. You have had children. You are still here. A good friend told me to start my “research” early on in this mess and I am so glad I did. “Just do one little thing each day,” she said. Originally, I thought the pos and I could “work this out” but I listened to her anyways. When it came time that I knew I had to leave, I had all the information I needed to move to a safe home for myself and my children in a big city and the support network of family, friends and women’s organizations to make it happen. Frankly, he didn’t know what hit him. He keeps saying now: “You left giving me two days notice.” Inside, I laughed. He never thought I’d do it. Thought he was soooo cunning. So, you can start small: a few dollars cash back, find out where the co-ops and supported apartments are in your area, see a lawyer for the 1-hour free consultation so you know how much he has to give you in support payments, reach out to one person at a time: old friends, family that you isolated yourself from to cope and let them know what is going on. Read everything on this blog. One thing that’s buried somewhere in here is about people taking offense to the use of profanity to talk about cheaters. When I read that, it was the first time I had laughed out loud in months. That was when I knew that, inside this Chump, I was still myself and that my Self would get me through.
    One of the many wise people you will meet here posted the following quote on the day I left him, after twenty-five years of marriage. It brought a tear to my eyes but only because it is exactly what I have had to do. Maybe it will resonate with you too.
    You can do this.

    “If you hear the dogs, keep going. If you see the torches in the woods, keep going. If there’s shouting after you, keep going. Don’t ever stop. Keep going. If you want a taste of freedom, keep going.” ― Harriet Tubman

    • I love profanity when talking about this stuff. It suits the subject matter.

      • Amen. It’s a stress-reliever! It’s one of the many things that made me feel at home here (not that I always use that language, only talking about the Fucktards!).

        • I seem to be getting more profane in real life, but only in comical situations.

          • Me too. And I make no excuse about it. People that know me are sometimes surprised at the swear words I combine for added effect. It seems to fortify me and launches me from victim to victor. That and picturing the two of them together as steaming piles of sparkly shit. Hilarious. 🙂

            • I know!

              Nothing says “fuck you” quite as succinctly as “fuck you”!

              • I like the use of profanity here, mostly because the whole act of cheating and lying and gaslighting is profane.

                My new favorite word is “clusterfuckdale” when referring to the freak show house the loser moved into with his bimbo, her 19-year old daughter, her 19-year old daughter’s boyfriend (until he was arrested for narcotics) and my 18-year old son who was relegated to the basement and had no idea his father was planning to move in with his fuckbuddy and her fucked-up family before his dear old dad was divorced.

                X always used grandiose, five-dollar words to make himself look more sophisticated. Come to find out, everyone just thought he was an ass. He called his hometown “Greendale” instead of the city he lived in, because “Greendale” was the section of the city. He called his bimbo his “special work friend, coworker and then tenant” during his deposition, until my attorney deadpanned, “Have you had sex with your special work friend-slash-coworker-slash-tenant while still married to [me]?” It was gold.

                Clusterfuckdale is perfect for them. And it reminds me why my life is soooooooo much better without the lying loser.

  • Rose,

    You and I are of an age. It IS extremely scary and daunting to start over in your 50’s. I know because that’s what I am doing. In fact, I am at the end of my 50’s and there are days when I experience severe anxiety when I think about the future. You know what’s scarier? Continuing to live with someone who you describe as “he needs to be single.” CL and everyone who has commented has given you sound advice. Let me add a little more – if you are worried about your children’s college education, once you leave the jerk, secure an attorney and file for divorce, you could be viewed as the custodial parent. You would have to check your particular situation/school, but you could have your attorney write a letter regarding your divorce status and based on your income (or lack thereof) your children could qualify for a Pell Grant, which in addition to whatever loans they would need to secure, could go a long way in helping them pay for college.

    I know your fear Rose, even though I have worked for practically all of my marriage. My Mr. Top 1% of the NPD Class spent every extra dime I had and I have had to start over with very little. I had to borrow money from a friend (and not even a close friend, but someone who likes and trusts me) to pay my attorney. Reach out Rose – people will help you. It will not be easy, but staying with Mr. Needs to Be Single will be much harder on you in the long run. You have been a stay at home mom – you have many skills. You have performed the job of teacher, nurse, therapist, cook, cleaning lady, etc. You have skills. I am sending you hugs and a fist pump because I know you can do it. All you need to do is begin taking small steps in the direction which you wish to go.

    • Oregonrose, I’m 58 and proud of it! I went to Comm College in my mid 40’s, decided on an x-ray degree, and am working full-time in that field now. College was very hard, especially the looks from the 20 somethings, LOL. I did very well in school, because of all my massive skills from running a house and raising kids with little help from him. I was so motivated, because I was older. As an alternate idea, you could also go into healthcare admin jobs at an entry level, just because you’re smart and organised, you have to talk your background up, and see what you’ve done as an asset. Many jobs will pay for classes, as long as you pass the class. Big hospitals need lots of employees, and have great insurance, too.

      • 57 here. Look, my mom was like the first middle aged woman who went back to college after she dumped my crazy father and back in 1970 in southern Indiana when it just wasn’t done. Brave woman.

        She put herself through college– got a stipend. We had absolutely no money, but I remember wanting for nothing. (and besides, everything was beautiful at the ballet…) She went on to be a marriage and family therapist. (yes, I know…), married a wonderful man (who died 12 years ago). She’s written two self-help books, which she did in her late seventies and mid- eighties. She’s now, 90 and still sees clients and goes ballroom dancing every Sunday.

        She’s not perfect, but when the chips are down, she’s always been there for me. Life is only daunting when you are taking your last breath.

        Please don’t give up and don’t lose hope!

    • Pell Grants are awesome! When my husband passed away many years ago and I had 2 small daughters Pell Grants saved my ass! Not only did they pay for education they also helped with chilcare and transportation. One hint though, I would try any government help now in case the “ruling party” changes. My financial problems now are mainly medical so my getting older has pretty much gotten me into a depresion ecause of medical bills…

  • I would like to suggest that if going to school and getting a 4 year degree seems daunting, perhaps you could take a shorter trade class, that might put you in touch with people who could help you find better employment.
    A friend of mine took a welding class at the community college when she was in her 50s and it was such an empowering thing for her to do, she made great contacts and had a technical skill that translated into a good paying job!

  • Life is better without the serial cheater and the endless pain they cause, even in seriously reduced financial circumstances.

    “It’s … i-n-c-o-n-t-r-o-v-e-r-t-i-b-l-e.”

  • Rose –

    You really hit a mother lode of advice today. I’d like to add my two cents…

    Lawyers – they usually will offer free one hour consultations. I interviewed three and got useful information. I also determined that I didn’t like two of them. They were looking for money, not to help me. The third one made me feel comfortable, so when he told me what his retainer was, I asked if I could give him less and pay him weekly to make up the difference. No problem. So don’t be afraid to ask for help.

    Also use the internet to your advantage. I spent a lot of time gathering information about divorce in my state, what I was entitled to, custody agreements, child support etc. It helped me compile lists of questions for the lawyers as well as learn the “lingo”. Just be sure to clear your search history so your husband doesn’t find it. If you are afraid that he may find out do your searches at your local library.

    Get all of the important papers either out of the house or make copies of them. Get all the account numbers and passwords. Get the jewelry out of the house to a safe place also. Gold was high for a while, but I believe it has come down. If you need to sell something to get some cash do it sooner rather than later and make sure you go to an established business. Save your change. Use coupons and put that savings in your pocket. Get $20 cash back every time you grocery shop. Save what he spends – towards the end of my marriage, I decided that if my husband went to the bar and spent $30 then I deserved $30 and would put it away for myself.

    The first step is the hardest. But once you make the decision to leave, you will feel empowered. It took me over a year and a half to get the resources together to finally make the move. Little steps are what you need to take. I will be 50 next year, I have two teenagers and we are surviving. You can do this! (((HUGS)))

    • All really good advice. Also, when you file, your attorney can get a Pendente Lite order that basically means your spouse has to keep paying everything they already do. In other words, when you separate, they can’t just cut you off financially. Gives you some breathing room during divorce negotiations which can take some time. It also prevents them from any other financial dirty tricks like selling or destroying assets in any way.

      • I had no idea. So when I boot him out of the house, he must continue paying the utilities, etc? That piece of information, in and of itself, might make a big difference. Thanks.

  • Talk to lawyer before you get a job. Everything about alimony depends on where you live and how much he has. Get advice on questions like can you get 1/2 of the retirement money (it is nit just his)? Can he pay off house? Can he put money in escrow for kids college? For yours? Lump sum versus alimony? Keep you on health insurance?

    Re : job it is possible that getting one now would hurt alimony – but it all depends on where you live.

  • Also I have heard that getting him to sign something earlier while still together and somewhat sorry may mean he is more reasonable and generous. And it might be that some friends or family or a minister could help with this – but listen the most to tough lawyer.

    • Diana L. , Yes you are right!
      I met with one attorney who gave me the best piece of advice of the three attorneys I consulted. She said that when you/he/both of you decide to divorce, the cheating spouse will feel guilty and be willing to give you more. But the feelings of guilt wear off after about 6 weeks. Then the cheating spouse (and assuming here, the primary bread winner) figures out how much could be in their pockets as a single person and they will start to get angry and fight more. My CH signed everything I asked him for and didn’t balk on anything! What we signed was just some separation agreement regarding house, debt, custody and alimony. I drafted it myself, but that was AFTER the 3 consults with attorneys. I know it isn’t legally binding, but dumbass doesn’t know that! So right now he is out of the house and my life except for visitations, and he is paying all of the bills.

      I have been a SAHM for 8 years and it is frightening to think about re-entering the workforce and being self-sustaining! But it can be done!! Look at all the women on here who have made it happen for them. All of you amaze me.

  • CL – this connects to an earlier post. I suspect some cheaters seek reconciliation when they realize what they have to lose. However I think there may also be times when it is part of some legal strategy to get better settlement. Something yo find out for your book.

    • This is true. My therapist told me lots of couples work things out when they realise the financial implications of splitting.

      • I’ve heard it put this way— “It’s cheaper to keep her.”

        I have seen it happen–on more occasions that I care to count. It’s insincerity, selfishness and narcissism at it’s finest….BY BOTH PARTIES…and they each, IMHO, deserve exactly what they get after that deal with the devil. Don’t go crying to anybody when your little fantasy deal implodes as you’re wandering spouse brings home some true crazy or maybe an STD. I’m not even going to mention the kids and what could happen to THEM in this little deal from hell.

        This is really getting on my last nerve. Marriage is NOT a business arrangement. I agree that pit bull attorneys are needed most of the time—but that is to GET DIVORCED—not sit around and figure out the cost/benefit analysis of staying married to a scumbag cheater.

        I personally find that whole idea absolutely revolting. I certainly don’t want to model for my daughter that staying with an abusive jerk is okay as long as the bills are paid…and I think we’re all clear on infidelity being abuse.

        • “Marriage is NOT ‘JUST’ a business arrangement”.

          There, I fixed it for you 🙂 It is a legally a partnership, but it’s not just a business arrangement… if you have emotions and stuff 🙂

        • Abby,

          Good point. Sometimes folks stay in bad relationships for the wrong reasons, and things turn out badly. It can be particularly bad for the kids to see a parent, maybe the only good parent, modeling a bad relationship. Some of these chumps who stay (and I’m not condemning everyone who stays, but pointing out a danger) will some day be tearing out their hair as they watch their sons and daughters making the same mistakes they did. Short-term financial pain is real, but so is the reality of long term bad lessons taught!

          Anyway, I thought your comment was very profound. When an adult makes a deal like the one you propose, the kids don’t get to make that decision, but they do have to live with it. So, if an adult decides to stay with a screamer/cheater, for example, those screams may well echo out in the kids’ lives in costly ways that aren’t seen on the days “the deal” to stay was made!

          Chump Son

          • Chump Son – that’s so true. The pain of betrayal can drive a person to agree to anything. I have two degrees and work skills, but was a SAHM (with a recently diagnosed autoimmune condition) when the STBX told me he was cheating/we went through “reconciliation” (STBX taking the affair way underground)/I found out he was still cheating. In a panic I agreed to not interfere in his affair (I kept hoping that fog would lift…) and started doing even more around the house – all the housework, all the child care. I had no income and without him, no health care.

            Well, and I’m embarrassed to say, my family had to pull me out of that situation. They kicked him and the OW out (yes – he wore me down to the point where I agreed to have the OW live with us) and made sure that I started divorce proceedings. Now, at the time, I didn’t want that (chump me thought the STBX still loved me, and I was thrown into a further panic seeing the spousal support/child support amounts (no way could we live on that without major changes) and finding out that STBX, by law, could not cover my health insurance after we were divorced.

            So what happened?

            STBX and the OW immediately set up house together, and the two of them let me know that he was no longer in love with me, and had been “falling out of love for the past 10 years” (strange, but he never told me that DURING the 10 years – not once during all the “I love you”s and “I love our marriage” that he told me/wrote to me over the years…). The OW had to tell me, because when confronted STBX wouldn’t say it, that he “chooses me (the OW) and he doesn’t choose you (Really a chump at this point). I was on my own.

            I turned to my family and friends, the one I had to hid everything from, and they helped me.

            One step at a time. I applied for work – got some leads. My family told me about a job, I got it, and now I can support my kids and myself.

            I got all my own accounts. For everything. It was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

            I stumbled across Truly a lifesaver.

            I applied for health insurance – kept getting rejected. But finally I got insurance. It’s pricey, but I’m not beholden to a cheating lying spouse and his homewrecking OW for it.

            Now, I look back and I can’t see why I was so afraid. Life is SOOOOO much better now. The divorce is almost done – hopefully it should be finalized within the next few weeks. I’m making money, and I can see that in the future, with hard work, that I can make more, because the spousal/child support won’t last forever. I can provide for my kids – and better, I might add, than the STBX, because I’m not spending money on all the crap he buys form himself and the OW. Our house is stable and calm now – the kids miss their father, but they know what he did, and I apologized to them for bringing OW into the house (and I’ll do whatever I have to do to help them work through what they’re going through because of it). I have health insurance. I go out with my friends, and now, I have a life of my own. A good life, with my kids, the rest of my family, and my friends.

            It’s been a two year process, from dday #1 to now, but I made it.

            And the earth did not devour me.

            • Something tells me your health might improve as a result of you taking charge of your life and finding peace, as well.

              He’s a scumbag to allow the OW to squat in your family home and to hide behind her as she shamelessly castigates you, allowing you to feel blame and shame for what HE has done. I hope one day you will have clarity as anyone here reading your story does, that what HE and SHE did are despicable, and they manipulated and exploited a very nice, albeit weak at the time person. Shame on THEM, not on YOU–IF you learn from this experience.

              I’m proud of you for working. It is always good therapy. You are stronger than you ever knew.

              • My financial situation is VERY different than most here–I am the sole breadwinner. I’m worried that because I sat back and allowed my lazy STBXH to convince me that it was the best course of action to have him at home with our daughter (although, he was unemployed or underemployed for most of our marriage prior to the birth of our daughter, so….take from that what you will…and overlay my attitude with that fact)—that he has had many years in order to make “backup” plans if D-Day ever came about.

                I’ve been reading that these types always have back up plan after back up plan—while the BS is plugging away, doing the heavy lifting. I see all of the disadvantaged BSs here and I am cheering for you!!! Do whatever it takes….ANYTHING it takes to get rid of this person from your immediate proximity.

                David–My question to EVERYONE here is—-Is money more important than the mental/physical health and safety of you and your children?

                It pisses me off that I am going to have to pay him to get rid of him–I feel he’s entitled to NOTHING, since he sat on his a$$, spending money and whoring around—-but I would be doing everything suggested here at CL in order to get rid of him, if I were the SAHM, too.

                There is, in my mind, NO justification for allowing an abusive, cheating spouse to remain in the marriage, particularly an unrepentant one (I suspect that my STBXH has had multiple affairs, I can only prove this latest one)—be in contact with me and my kids so that they can inflict more harm. I would rather pay every dime I have to get rid of him at this point.

                I’m not looking at this from an ivory tower, either. I’m going to be the one possibly paying the alimony and huge legal fees to get rid of my cheating STBXH. I have to PAY A CHEATER to leave? Support him until he gets his life together? He fucked other women….and I have to PAY him for that?

                So I can see the “financial” reasons to stay in a marriage–and I see my cheating scumbag’s reasons for his Naugahyde Remorse….do/say anything to keep the gravy train running. Onto that one finally.

                IMHO, if you stay with a cheating spouse for financial reasons, you are complicit in your own abuse–you own it and approve it.

                This one blogpost by CL—on one blog amongst thousands, books that number in the thousands on the same subject—shows that there are SO MANY avenues out when you are the financially disadvantaged spouse—that it would scream to me that you simply don’t want your lifestyle to change. That the money and the lifestyle that you are accustomed to means more than anything else.

                “But the kids’ college!” “The kids’ clothing/shoes/recreation!” So that means that again, material things mean more than raising stable, secure children or that your health/welfare are less important than his/her reprehensible deeds.

                And it means nothing in the end, anyway. So you “reconcile” for financial reasons….this time. Now you’ve shown your cheater that it’s okay to do whatever they like from now on….you’re more interested in keeping the status quo, no matter what.

                I would rather chew my right arm off than put up with being humiliated, demeaned and discarded when he’s done using me. Nope.

  • I had the advantage of being able to afford a very good divorce attorney. This attorney was considered one of the best. In my situation, he said that if the settlement was generous/fair and would hold up in court to take it while it was on the table. He said many cheaters move on quickly and soon lose any “remorse” or “guilt” they might feel toward the betrayed spouse. He informed me not to get greedy for the sake of getting greedy as it would only anger my cheater and when they are in a corner they come out even meaner than you would imagine. He also advised me to get further independent legal input if I wasn’t sure about anything in the settlement.

    Also he advised giving my cheater access to the kids (my cheater wasn’t going to harm them, and I knew this in my case) rather than fight him as long as he wasn’t a threat to the kids and in the law here, unless they are a REAL nasty piece of work, adultery does not mean you can’t have access and visitation/shared custody with your kids. The courts usually don’t care about the affair, they only care about how that person treats the children. Fighting them on custody because of indignation and YOUR suffering is costly and mostly useless. You really have to prove they are not fit to parent and the burden of proof is on you. Pick that battle wisely. However, if you cheater threatens you with getting full custody know that it’s VERY unlikely they will get it. It’s a ploy to keep you scared. If anything document this threat and tell your lawyer. And always remember that whatever your cheater is telling you about a settlement, don’t believe it until you have it in writing. Don’t agree to anything, not a thing until you run it by your lawyer and if there’s tough negotiations to do let your lawyer handle it – just sit there and smile. Don’t let them see you sweat.

    My attorney took no crap from my STBX but was polite and had my back. My attorney didn’t unnecessarily cause additional conflict which would have lead to more battles and more legal fees but he made sure I got a generous settlement and he got my cheater out of the house. Find out what matters most to you when you speak with your lawyer and let your attorney know your priorities. Have a list of questions you want to ask so that you don’t forget while you are speaking with your attorney – the bills do add up. Make sure you ask for what you want, but know you won’t get it all. Know that your attorney is that, an attorney and not a therapist, so don’t go on and on about what your cheater did because they’ve heard it all before and time is money. They want to know what you want and will/should do their best to make that happen for you within the parameters of the law.

    Yes, my attorney was expensive and yes I had to give up to get back. Negotiations in divorce (like mine was) are about giving this to get that. I had to give up some of the things I did want to get my cheater out of my house and life. It was not an easy process. I did not walk away with everything and then some. No. But I did not want a long out battle and I didn’t want my children to be dragged through a costly court battle. I am middle aged and have comfortable child and spousal support, but I no longer live the life I once had financially and I have to say that if that was the cost of getting rid of that horrible half life I was living, it’s well worth it.

    I hope some of this is helpful and I know everyone’s situation is different.

  • Hey, I just wanted to say, you guys amaze me. This thread is full of absolutely incredible advice and practical how-tos. I think I should sticky it to the homepage.

    We’ve got an intrepid, inspiring group of chumps here! Thank you!

    • YES! What surprised me about my reaction to all the fabulous advice and tips, is that they are practical, creative and so far out in left field I never would have thought of them. Take a stint as a Walmart Greeter? Rent a room? Wonderful idea. I can’t imagine better fodder for a non-fiction writer. I knew Sam Walton and he would get the biggest kick out of that advice AND that it is for bolstering chumps. After all, his wife Helen knows what we are all going through.

      • Yoder– one way for a writer to make extra cash is writing advertorials — you know those ads that look like regular newspaper stories but are really advertisements? Papers usually do these as themed supplements — the pay’s bad but after you’ve written a couple it’s easy work. The people who handle this are usually in a department called Specia Projects or something similar.

        • Thank you for the suggestion. I remember doing some of that when I started out, just before I became a newspaper editor. Here is a funny one; home health care sometimes comes to the house to check on my spouse. She has been doing this long enough to know the situation I am in. Last week, she said, “For what you do for him (caregiver) you could be making $20 an hour working for me.” Guess all those years working in the lab and 12 hours of graduate school statistics paid off. So when my pet snake is well enough to be on his own and out of my life, I will work for her 5 hours a day for $100 and have the rest of the day to pursue my writing and film making. Werks for me.

          • Film making? There’s serious money in writing treatments and scripts for corporate videos. Serious money. Ad agencies, production houses and PR/corporate communications firms are who to approach. I make a very nice living doing this on the training side of things.

            • I use to make training films for a textile laboratory. I am in preproduction on a documentary which will go into production after the first of the year.

          • Yoder, also think about press releases and media advising/relations. I’m in your field and this is something I’ve moved into a bit – it pays well and your skills are worth a lot in this area. I’d love to get in touch and chat about this stuff. CL, can you help?

            • I am my own brand and very busy writing and sending out my own press releases, book copies for reviews, etc.

              • There are an amazing amount of great ideas here…my problems right now is that every thing has broken all at once…Carpel Tunnel, broken down car that I didn’t want but Fface HAD to trade my old perfect running Corolla in for, dental problems, you name it. Dealing with major depression right now.

                So I’m just licking my wounds and reading CL. I don’t have it in me right now because of the chronic pain…but ya’ll do keep me wanting to fight if I ever get my steam back…:/ Just feeling sorry for myself and very angry at him but I know this too shall pass…XO

              • Ao sorry you are having to go through this while you are feeling so crummy. It is so difficult when healthy, can’t imagine dealing with this under those circumstances. Hang in there and we are always cheer to try and cheer up each other.

    • This has been an inspiring conversation.
      I’ve mentioned that I have to think outside of the box due to a handicap.
      I have small partial hands but can do most anything, just not 40 hours a week. I have to switch around between tasks.
      I’ve been working on creating my own niche. There are mixed media art works I do and am just gathering a small following after working at it for a few years….
      BUT, my first love is writing. I’ve wanted to be a writer since before I could read.
      I’m confident in my writing skills, though the last 7 years my husband has kept me so busy and only recently realized in how many ways he does this. That’s part of the gas lighting. My new mantra has become “I’m certain I can write myself out of this mess!” And it’s something I can progress at without him knowing how determined I am.
      I’m going to suggest some of these ideas to my son, he’s 1 year out of college with a technical writing degree.
      Another suggestion similar to Wal Mart greeter is a Hallmark merchandiser, I recently applied for a position.

  • Dear OR:
    1. Go buy a cheapie pay-as-you-go cellphone at Target/Walmart. Hide it.
    2. Get a P.O. Box. You will need anything of a condiential nature sent there. One key only. Hide it.
    3. Open your own checking/savings account.
    4. Try to get a credit card only in your name.
    5. Save every fuckin cent you can. What you dont have, borrow from family/friends if thats an option.
    You can do this…we have all been there sister. Hugs, nmc

      • This reminded me of something. It’s going to sound bizarre, but I was living in a war zone at the time….
        During the last 3 months of living with my ex-shithead, I had to resort to drastic measures to protect myself. He was so very controlling and prone to rummaging through my purse etc. in the middle of the night. So, for those 3 months, I went to bed every night with my house key, car key, and post office box key stuck to the underside of a sanitary napkin in my underwear. He could search everywhere for them but he never found them. It was a horrible way to live but it worked for me. And it made for some really heavy underwear!

        • Excellent point, harmonysmine. I didn’t go to your extreme (very clever, BTW), but did have a “Go Bag” by my bed at all times, filled with the birth certificates and passports of me and my kids, $200 cash, and all the passwords and account numbers of our accounts. There were times when X would block my car from leaving by parking on my side of the driveway (he NEVER did that until I caught him cheating), so I started parking my car on the street, too. I had my trunk full of clothes and food for the kids and pets, too.

          You can never be too prepared to leave on a moments notice. And if I was going, so were my kids.

          • Wow,
            Before I got him out I took everything of value out of the house and kept it at my daughters…the little bit of jewelry that I had, cameras, and files with clients credit card numbers…what pieces of shit they are. Didn’t bring anything back until I got him out and changed the locks…(More $ spent – 🙁 )

            • As we have been together for almost 40 years, there are so many things the snake has forgotten we even own. Add to that, the four years we were on the road with everything in storage, he misses nothing I have set aside. Since the move , the garage is packed full. I, every couple of days, say, “I’m going to make a run to storage, we don’t need (whatever), might as well get it out of the garage so we can use it.” He does not even care WHAT is removed. The things important to me are going to a small, separate unit, at another site. He does not even remember we own them.

          • chutesandladders,
            Amazing how these disturbed people can destroy everything and yet they’re ticked off that we’re leaving them. And the children…how sad for them. What I remember most about that time is how scared I was. I had allowed him to control everything to the point that I really had nothing in the end. He was in annihilation mode and I was in fight or flight mode, ready to run on a moments notice. I was so scared of him. It just kills me to think how scared my children were, too…

        • harmonysmine

          I read your post a few days ago and have thought of it so many times. Both bizarre, as you say, and amazing and I may have to think I may need to use that idea before I am out of here.

          • Jane,
            Yes, it was a very bizarre situation, but it worked! My ex was (at one time) a mechanic and it wasn’t beyond him to disable my car by removing a part or two. He’d done it before and I wasn’t going to take the chance. He searched everywhere for those keys! What a horrible way to live…
            Best of luck to you.

        • harmonysmine

          I read your post a few days ago and have thought of it so many times. Both bizarre, as you say, and amazing and I think I may need to use that idea before I am out of here.

  • But what about the men? I feel badly for a lot of those guys. The one that gets me every time is the injustice of the SAHM who cheats on the husband. Now, he’s in a pickle, because if he divorces her, she walks off with alimony and, likely, the kids and child support. Basically, he pays her to cheat and abandon.

    Any practical advice for these guys??

    Don’t move out of the home–that would be rule #1, right? And fight like hell for primary custody–at LEAST 50%.

    • Stephanie, I whole heartedly agree and feel VERY badly for men who get cheated on by their wives. As such, I will take a stab at providing some suggestions. I would advise that you do all that has been previously recommend for women above in terms of saving some money etc., BUT I want to add some extra details fore male chumps. First a disclaimer: I am NOT a family law specialist (I am a criminal law specialist ) I have, however, done some family law and the following advice can only help you. . .

      1) Don’t move out of the home if at ALL possible. STAY in the home and continue to parent your kids. I would only leave if the mom’s behavior is over the top and physically threatening. (Do not allow yourself to be set up with phony domestic violence charges- which I have seen happen!) STAY at least until you file for divorce AND the initial temporary orders’ hearing has taken place. At that point, either the family law judge is going to make a ruling as to ‘who leaves’ the family home and ‘who stays’. A decision will be made at that time BUT if you move out of the house BEFORE the hearing for temporary orders are put in place the judge will be inclined to maintain the status quo and issue an order wherein you are to remain out of the family home.

      2) Start drafting some declarations about what you do as a parent: For example, ” I Get up in the morning at 6 a.m., i.e., fix breakfast for the girls, drive them to school, pick them up, help with homework for 2 hours each night etc.. . . If you are a really involved parent (which you likely are if your wife is having an affair because she is TOO busy with her boyfriend to really be there for her kids.) the judge needs to know and understand this. DETAILED declarations will do this. Are you a poor writer? That’s okay, BUT talk to a trusted female who knows you and your kids. They can give you input and help you draft a declaration. The reason I say this is some attorneys I feel give short shrift to their male clients in documenting what terrific dads they are- get some help in this! Many male chumps are WAY too humble and soft spoken! A trusted female friend or sibling will see your value and be able to help you communicate this to your attorney and/or the court.

      3) Document what kind of activities you do for your kids. Although I am not a judge I CAN say as an female attorney that I LOVE to see fathers that encourage their daughters in sports and take time to coach them etc. Dads who spend time encouraging their daughters and supporting them in sports are fostering their daughter’s self-confidence and self-esteem. This stuff needs to be ABSOLUTELY mentioned and highlighted in declarations (which you will need to support your parenting plan arrangement in your temporary and permanent orders). Judges do not like upsetting the kids’ routines. If sports are part of their everyday lives with you then the courts will be inclined to continue this, especially if the kids are doing well, enjoy the sports, and are getting something out of it.

      3) Confide in a trusted woman i.,e, a sister about what is going on. An honest woman is an ‘awesome’ ally to have and you need an honest respectable woman to help you with some advice and support. Furthermore, judges will place weight on a declaration from a motherly female friend of the family or sibling who is close to the family and truly SEES what is going on.

      4) Get as MUCH documentation as you can on the money that your wife is BLOWING on getting herself all ‘fixed’ up. Years ago, I was represented a man who was in a divorce. He was married to a’ high maintenance’ women. She spent all kinds of money post separation on a boob job, botox, plastic surgery, clothes, nails, hair etc., etc. You should have seen opposing counsel’s shocked and mortified face when I delved into this during a deposition inquiring as to exactly how much money was spent on all this – the female attorney had NO idea this was all going on! This kind of spending can be construed as ‘waste of marital assets’

      Now if your wife is Christy Brinkley and is a super model then she has bona fide job related expense BUT if you’rw NOT married to a super model guys- it can truly be fair game where finances are at issue!!

      5) Get a credit report on your spouse. Find out if she has any ‘New’ credit cards which you know nothing about. This is important! It may have her bills for all her hair, make-up, hotel rooms with her boyfriends etc.

      6) Go get an STD check! Seriously, guys need act on this and DO something about it. If you sleep with your wife STILL, please START wearing a condom! Besides HIV, and the usual battery of STD viruses the HPV virus is really ‘bad’ if you get it. I don’t know if you are aware or not BUT there is a strong link now between the HPV virus and oral, throat, and neck cancers. You may have read about actor Michael Douglas recently being asked about this being a throat cancer patient. He even had to admit that it is entirely ‘possible’- ugh, huh??

      7) Make copies of one or two months household bills. The court is going to need to see how much it costs to maintain a household. Don’t forget annual bills like property taxes, homeowner dues etc.

      Okay, all you male chumps out there. . . . hope this helps!

      • Best advice for either spouse, going forward: never consent to the stay at home spouse deal. It is a scam and the stay at home parent has you by the throat in a divorce. Not to mention how much easier it is than going to work.

        • I’m gonna disagree with you on this one, Arnold. It is best for kids to have a parent at home when they are young, especially when they are babies. I know plenty of kids are raised in daycare, and I know they can turn out fine, but the bottom line is, babies should be cared for by a parent.

          I worked full time until our son was born, then went back to work and he was in daycare. When he was six, I pulled him out of school and was a SAHM homeschooling our son until he was about to start high school. Believe me, it was NOT easier than going to work. The separation/divorce hit around then, and now son goes to an independent study high school, which is working well. I work from home as a freelance writer.

          I never cheated on my ex, in fact, I have never had physical or emotional relationship with any man other than him. I understand how you feel about SAHM, but not all of them are cheaters and it IS in their childrens’ best interest.

          • What a lot of writers we have here! Is it something to do with us just hanging on hoping the narrative in our head will work out?

            • It is unusual. Gravitational pull? Maybe as word crafters, we feel more at ease trying to convey exactly how we are feeling?

          • I think it may be best, when they are toddlers. But, once they are off to school, the SAHD/M has way more leisure time than the one who goes to work.
            Try telling a woman who is heading off to the coal mines, risking life and limb etc or a neurosurgeon whose patients die on her once in a while, that dad at home throwing in a few loads of laundry, vaccuming, cooking etc, with Dr Phil on the TV has as difficult a job as her.

            • Well, few women work in coal mines, or are neurosurgeons for that matter, but I do understand your point.

              I firmly believe kids younger than school age are best with a parent at home, though I do realize that they can turn out okay if they are in daycare. As I wrote, my own son was in daycare from ages 1 year to 6, at which point I became a SAHM and homeschooled him. Believe me, a homeschooling mom is NOT spending a day of leisure, although those were good years I look back on fondly. Too bad my ex was busy fucking everyone who would hold still long enough during that time, and all the rest of our marriage too.

              I’ve worked full time outside the home with a child in daycare, been a homeschooling SAHM and now work from home while son is in an independent high school program. I would say my life was easiest when I was a SAHM and married, only because back then ex husband made good money and I had the illusion of a partner who loved me. Now I’m completely on my own and it’s much harder. But at least I’m not being lied to and cheated on anymore.

    • For what its worth, some states start with the assumption of 50/50 custody, regardless of abuse directed at the spouse by either spouse.

      Guys, depending on the state you are in, you may be able to assume 50/50 as baseline & fight like hell for primary placement & child support. Talk to your attorney about the presumptions of the court in your state.

      Hope49, awesome suggestions.

      • Ladies, you be careful on the domestic abuse front also. Men are every bit as capable of setting you up for domestic assault charges, there is a new book about how men are doing this ALOT. When I told my XH we were divorcing he attacked me, I called police and then lied and got ME arrested for domestic assault. Men set women up too is what I’m sayin…

      • Arnold, I’m sorry but I have to take offense at the “it’s easier to stay at home and hang…” comment. I am a SAHM. I quit my job and have not worked in 16 years. This was a mutual agreement between my H and myself. I can assure you that with 2 kids and a household and no help that I was not just “hanging out”. He proceeded to work at the same job, enjoy the admiration of his colleagues, come home to lovely children, a loving wife, and dinner. He decided to fuck hookers and have phone sex to the tune of 15K a year. He then drug my ass to marriage counseling to say I was crazy.

        With the help of my brother, I started digging. Then the POS claimed sex addiction. He spent at least 50K so far on his “therapy”.

        Yep, I was the sahm. I made him sign a post nup and got just about everything. He is doing the “pick me ” dance. I do not apologize for any of it.

        • I have never not worked. I have worked as a well-educated professional part time and full time. I do not wish to begin an endless debate about who has it easier: SAHM vs. working moms. I do have an opinion which I will keep to myself.

          That said, I would NEVER advise a daughter or DIL of mine to agree to a SAH gig. I have seen too many women sacrificed by walk-away husbands who promised to take financial care of their families as their wives took care of the domestic front, then left those women and kids high and dry. A friend of mine, a once SAHM, is finding out now, at age 50, that getting back into the workplace and making a decent living is very challenging, and unfortunately, alimony is never a given. He just doesn’t pay, and there are NO consequences. There is no mandate that he help pay for college, even if the kids worked very hard to earn entry into a university. There is no mandate for child support after high school, even though the kids live with her on college breaks. Yes, they can and probably should have jobs, but the kids suffer, too, when the rug is pulled from under them and promises are shattered, values ripped to shreds.

          That said, I would never advise my sons to agree to finance a SAHM (or SAHD) lifestyle, and let them be fully aware that they WILL have to shoulder many domestic duties on top of their full-time work, and that their time with their wives and kids WILL be sacrificed for their wives’ careers to a greater or lesser degree–all part of family dynamics of negotiations, delayed gratification, being a grown up. But to suffer the injustice of having a wife screw you over by cheating and THEN demanding decades of support? It can happen to the best of men, and it is outrageously unfair.

          Face it, this experience has taught me that interdependence is a wonderful thing–and I’m very happy for those I know who are making it. But one must be prepared to be independent at any moment, as well, for you can only control your own behavior.

        • Yeah, I kind of think I take offense at that also. I gave up a pretty lucrative career to be a SAHM because that’s what was best for the kids. Child care, cooking, laundry, housecleaning, homeschooling and ranch hand — all jobs which could be farmed out to people for pay, and all jobs that i was overqualified for — I did UNCOMPENSATED.

          Uncompensated. Pretty stupid of me. Come to think of it — it was a scam. I’ll know better next time.

          • Has Arnold ever stayed at home?
            I had more free time as a single parent when I worked full time and had 3 year old twins.
            Now that I don’t work at a brick and mortar business my husband, parents and other assorted individuals are always trying to take a chunk out of my time.
            Of course there are women who’s husbands make enough money to cover the household expenses and all the extras, but for most SAHMs they budget, do without or make extra money at home to help cover everything.
            But I do agree with Stephanie, when I talk to young women I tell them to make sure they are financially self sufficient and I tell my sons the same…..”You want a woman who is financially self sufficient because you don’t want to ever wonder if they are staying with you because they are trapped.”
            There’s pluses and minuses to both positions and each situation is different as it is at different times in a persons life.
            I’ve learned not to make sweeping statements about other people.

            • Thanks for reminding me……guess who it was that got their time “volunteered” whenever HIS folks needed anything?

              It made no fiscal sense for me to go work myself to death in order to pay other people to run the rest of my life for me. It didn’t pencil out. The logical next step would be just to not have kids. That would would have saved a lot of money and made the divorce so much easier.

            • Yes. Raised two boys, one severely sdisabled by myself. House husband is a breeze compared to trying cases.

              • I think SAH gig is more pleasant, for most humans, because we want to be self-directed. To me that’s what it’s all about. Even a good job, you’re jumping when they snap! I do agree strongly that having a career as you jointly raise kids is the best and the most fair deal.

              • Arnold, you reminded me of one thing and made me realize another.
                There are so many variations in the coverall of working or stay at home parent.
                When my boys were younger and that’s all (and I use that term loosely) I did, it was one thing.
                And as a single parent working and raising was easier than staying at home with a spouse who was mean, gas lighting or counter productive.
                And the point you made me realize about myself is that when I think of being a stay at home wife (kids are out of the house) this is the harder one for me. Kids still need emotional support while at college (and all that stinkin paperwork for financial aid), parents are in their 80’s, 2 years ago my Dad had a stroke and a month later one sister died so I have become the go to person in my family. Add in my husband and all his health issues and part of his gas lighting is having me keep track of everything…..this has been the most difficult and stressful role of them all.

              • You have perfectly articulated my stress. “Add in my husband and all his health issues and part of his gas lighting is having me keep track of everything…..this has been the most difficult and stressful role of them all.”

          • It’s a bad deal for either spouse, as Stephanie points out. With divorce rates so high, giving up one’s career or subusidizing another doing so is too risky.
            On one hand, the party that gives it up,may lose in the long run or, if a man or woman acquiesced to this for their spouse and then gets cheated on, boom, you are not the “primary caregiver” and lose custody. You may, if this went on long enough, even end up paying alimony to the cheater.
            Whether SAHD/M job is easier is debatable , I guess. But, regardless, this arrangement , which may have worked back n the Ozzie and Harriet days, no longer does.

            • Unfortunately, I grew up in an Ozzie and Harriet kind of home. I thought everyone lived that way. I had no idea life would change so drastically so many decades later. I am jaded and will always be very, very cautious of every new person I meet. By the way, oddly enough, my uncle was the electrician on the Ozzie and Harriet Show as well as Petticoat Junction. If a door bell rang, he rigged it.

              • And you knew Sam Walton?! You are a cool chick, Yoder. You can do this!

              • Yeah, I think I can do this too, but I just don’t want it to go on so long that I go from his home to a nursing home. LOL

            • Oh, it is easier, and I enjoy it a whole lot more.

              But it’s not compensated, therefore it appears to not be valued by society.

              I think we need to get rid of no-fault divorce. Anybody who cheats on kids ought to have their mom card/dad card pulled.

              • Work as a SAHP was supposed to be valued by your spouse–(s)he was to share income with you. You were supposed to take care of each other. Society has nothing to do with it. It’s a family decision.

                My xH did not value my work at home–he withheld financial support, I had to earn my own spending money, including money to pay bills and other household and living expenses, save the mortgages and insurance, which he paid dutifully. But now he resents the fact that we have to split everything 50:50 since, “I worked FULL time and YOU only worked PART time,” he cries. In that way, he is an asshole, and I was a chump.

                We’re both fortunate–not “lucky,” but smart, I suppose, that I have a higher-paying career, same income as his. Thus, he will never owe a dime of alimony. Child support ends when the youngest child finishes high school, regardless of the fact that I pay my kids’ living expenses when they are with me, which is most of the time they are not away at school.

                xH’s effective income will go up considerably in a year, and I will be left to care for my children single-handedly, bar the college tuition he has honorably paid half of so far. But it’s not a burden. There is no way in HELL I would trade my dignity and honor and time with my kids for his lonely cowardice. Sure, he has a purty little manipulative homewrecking twat by his side, but I personally would feel burdened by someone like that–someone I was ashamed of and who reminded me every day, with every sight, smell and sound, that I was a coward.

                I’m fortunate.

              • Stephanie;

                Society helped make your ex and mine. And society at large runs the legal system that’s totally based on dollars and doesn’t quantify the sacrifice that the SAHP makes. It’s a sacrifice, and not a scam was my point.

                Your ex sounds awful. Mine loved the traditional roles right up until he wanted something else, and then I was treated like a slacker for staying home. Yes, it was so unfair that he had to give me anything. I hadn’t earned it. “You want money? Go get a job!” As if I had been on vacation for 13 years, watching soaps. It’s a real slap in the face to be considered a mooch by a cheater.

                I would not do things any differently though. I live very small footprint now and my kids turned out great. You’re right, it’s not a burden.

                Your last paragraph I could reiterate right here. Well said.

                (except I never managed to get college tuition help out of him, but that’s another story)

            • The stay at home wife or husband, once the kids are off to school, has it very, very easy.

          • I was a SAHM because we had to make a choice at one point: my Ex’s career was about to take us on some moves and there reached a point where it was either set my career aside to support his or he would not be able to take advantage of these opportunities. After many discussions we made the choice for me to stay at home and take care of that side of things.

            Was it a mistake? In retrospect, of course. But these choices do arise in marriages and when you think you have a good, strong marriage you make decisions for the overall good. And then something like finding out your Ex was cheating the entire time makes you realise that no, I will never ever put a man’s needs and aspirations before my own ever again. If future planning doesn’t gel, well, then maybe we have to set our sights lower or something.

            Also, SAHM’s work their asses off. And it’s a pretty thankless existence…and quite mind-numbing at times.

            • And Chumpalicious, I could have written so much of what you wrote. Ex absolutely ‘valued’ what I did while he built his career. And then, when it didn’t suit him anymore, he didn’t value it. I’ve heard the ‘get a job’ more times than I can count, the word ‘mooch’ has been bandied about….it’s all just the same clichéd bullshit. He wanted the wife who stayed at home supporting his high-flying career….until he didn’t. And now I’m disposable and a burden and just a horrible person for being there for him. Fuck him-this is one of the many reasons I think he’s an asshole and figure he always resented this, just didn’t have the nuts to say anything.

              • I got this too. Ex used to say how proud he was that I was a SAHM, that I homeschooled our son, that I created such a beautiful home for him to enjoy. Right up until he dumped me, when he suddenly started saying that he had always wanted me to work, that I was selfish for having been at home and that I needed to get a job asap.

        • Your H is a slime. But, the stay at hime deal is way less demanding and less stressful. At least it was for me in my profession.

          • Arnold, I’ve done both-worked with kids and stayed home with kids. There is no less demanding or less stressful on either side. Quite frankly, I saw going to work as much easier than being a SAHM. Two very different roles.

            • I was a SAHM when my kids were litlle till my husband (the good one) passed away. As a lark we “traded places” for a week. He only made it 4 days…said MY job at home was MUCH harder than his…..

              • Depends on the job, I guess. I would rather stay home with the kids than head off to the mines.

  • As others have said, the medical field is a great option. Several years ago I took an inexpensive 6 week course at a technical college and became a certified nurse assistant (on my way to becoming a nurse next month!). I quickly got a job at a local hospital, and was told that my age/experience was considered an advantage by those who hired me (I was 40 at the time). The pay was low to begin with (something like $12.50/hr), but the benefits were fantastic, and my employer had a program to help pay for additional education. With shift differentials and raises etc. I was earning something close to a living wage a year and a half later.

    What is great about hospital jobs (at least in my area in the Midwest):
    Very quick entry through the CNA or patient care tech route.
    Full benefits with less than full time hours.
    Very flexible scheduling – easy to work around home or school schedules.
    If you can work the over-night shift you can get a couple of bucks more per hour.
    Great “foot in the door”, gives you priority access to many other jobs within the hospital.
    Professional atmosphere (usually).

    Best of luck whatever you do. I am so glad to hear that you are making your plan to get out!

  • Dear OregonRose,

    Great advice here, as always. GREAT ADVICE. This blog has become an amazing database of Chump Liberation.

    Chump Son has a few thoughts, though the pale next to the great counsel given above.

    1. If you are staying for a while because you have to, be honest with your kids. You didn’t say if Dad mistreats them (though his affair mistreats his whole family). Often these types of fathers (they are not fathers; they are really just sperm banks; I was disgusted by the example cited above of the guy who BRAGS about not paying for his kids’ college; ugh!)…. Often these types of fathers are abusive in other ways: yelling, being selfish, absorbed in their hobbies, absorbed in themselves. Don’t make excuses for him to the kids. I have no idea how old your kids are, but don’t tell them, “Daddy really loves you….” Tell them, “Your father behaves in ways I don’t agree with….” Be as honest as you can in at least setting up an alternate parenting reality so they have something to measure his behavior against, so they don’t see him as normal/typical.

    2. On college, I would argue that the children can go to college and that they should avoid student debt at all costs. If they take loans, keep them small. Community colleges are very inexpensive and good places to rack up credits that can be transferred. If your kids have good grades, sometimes small private colleges will offer generous scholarships. And there is NOTHING wrong with going to a state school and working your tail off. One of the biggest ripoffs today is going to some OK private college and borrowing thousands. Not necessary at all. And the kids don’t have to go racing through college in four years. They can do a year at a community college, work part-time, etc. There are also experiential things they can consider, like teaching English abroad for a period of time. (You have to research any program carefully, but the demand for English teachers is strong.) If your child can teach abroad and learn a foreign language at the same time, s/he may well come away hugely valuable future skills. Again, I warn you to not go down the debt route.

    3. I’m sure there are women’s support groups, free resources that you can find.

    4. Finally, you can save money. Frankly, we all can learn to live with less. As just one example, there is a new company called Tumbleweeds that specializes in making people tiny houses. Now, I’m not suggesting this for you, but I’m just citing this as an example of how people can re-think their lives and get along with less materially and have more spiritually and emotionally. We all have these fixed ideas about how big a car or house should be, but really there’s more flex there than we realize. So, take this is a metaphor with a message. Here’s the tiny house link:

    OregonRose, you will be fine. Really. It won’t be easy, but you can come through this. You show incredible guts writing in, and I think that if you do as CL suggests, if you break the problem down into smaller parts and start addressing those, the answer will develop. There’s no one simple path to solving a dilemma like the one you are in, but taking action often opens up new connections/ideas/possibilities, and then the problem does get solved, maybe not in exactly the way you first thought, but it does get solved. You clearly are not satisfied with being a Chump. Already, you have de-chumpified a great deal by just changing the way you think about this challenge!

    Sorry I’m not more practical, but the awesome advice above is full of good stuff.

    Hang in,

    Chump Son

    • “Often these types of fathers are abusive in other ways: yelling, being selfish, absorbed in their hobbies, absorbed in themselves.”

      I didn’t know you knew the STBX!

      Here’s one for you – my daughter just graduated from middle school. It was the first promotion ceremony she had been to. She was ranked #1 in her class (of about 450 students) three years in a row. She received many awards, besides the promotion.

      I was there, as was my son, my father, and her godmother – the people closest to her.

      Who was missing?

      Well, the STBX “couldn’t” make it because, as a teacher in the same school district, he was giving a final at the time of my daughter’s graduation. Now that sounds reasonable, until you factor in 1. In his many years of teaching, he’s always given his finals EARLY so that by finals day, he’s finished with his grades for the year, and 2. his teachers’ union told him specifically that his role as a parent trumps his role as a teacher, so that if his kid is graduating, he can make arrangements to attend without being penalized at work.

      He showed up later that afternoon, wanting to take my daughter out to celebrate. Except that he never told her what time he would be by (and never even told me he was coming by), so when he showed up, she was out with her grandfather.

      He called her later that evening. What was the first thing he said? Was it “Congratulations – I’m so proud of you! Keep up the good work these next four years!”. NOOOOO. It was, “Where were you? How come you weren’t home when I came by? We agreed to go out so I could get you your graduation present.”

      After she started crying, and took a break from talking to him, she got the phone back from me, and asked him, “Can you at least tell me congratulations?”

      I wish I were making this up.

      • Wow, that gives me chills. But at least your daughter figured out that her dad’s behavior is way off base. She might not grow up to be a chump! I was 38 years old before I stopped buying into every guilt trip of my xH.

      • I wish you were, too.

        Sad, but your daughter will do well. She will likely channel her anger into achievement and leave her dad behind in the dust.

    • I love all the suggestions, but as for #3–women’s support groups…nope, nuh-uh , not out there. I live in the Boston area, which is about as thick with support groups of all sizes, shapes, colors, and dimensions as you could possibly imagine, and no, no support groups for women who’ve been chumped….unless you want to consume copious amounts of hopium, and subscribe to the co-dependency dictates of SAA (sex addicts anonymous), including blaming yourself– spouse has to work “her steps” (WTF??).

      There are paid-for women’s support groups, but they cost $45 per session, non-reimbursable, and my experience was that if you are too traumatized by your spouse’s infidelity and general mind-fuckery, they won’t take you, because most of the participants are in the groups to get over FOO issues where they were abused etc. Or, you can join a divorce group–can be fine, but also $45.00 per session.

      This has actually been a question I’ve often thought of asking ChumpLady, aka Fearless Leader– how come there are hundreds of groups for the fuckers–under a the aegis of SAA, or SLAA (sex and love addicts anonymous) where they can all sit around and support each other in … oh, hell, I don’t know, whatever it is. I did ask, once if they talk about the damage they inflicted. “Only occasionally”. Not really surprising, is it? It’s all about them.

      But I digress.

      Point is, I am a pretty good finder of resources, and there really aren’t any for chumped spouses. Amazing, when you think of it.

      We need that book– Maybe it will spawn support groups!

      • Namedforvera, My H is claiming SA ( sex addict). There is a TON of support for him. I have found zero. I won’t attend those idiot 12 step for wives groups. I have found online resources. SOS ( paid monthly support group). And Married to a Sex Addict site which is free. Hope that helps. I love SOS ( sisterhood of support). We tout Chump Lady all the time on SOS 🙂

      • Look for a local Divorce Support Meet-up Group. We have one in NYC and it is the most support you can EVER imagine. These guys had my back at every step and now it is my time to return the favor. Meet-up groups are amazing, free and everywhere.

      • I was making an assumption on the possibility of support groups. Rebecca, below, has a good suggestion. But I may have been wrong on that. And you are right that there should be such a support group.

        Maybe there should be YouTube postings, too, that reinforce all the great suggestions here?

        Others are on target, too, when they say that there are lots of support groups for folks with vices, but it seems there’s a lack of support groups for those victimized by their virtues!

        That’s a balance that ought to be righted. CL has certainly taken a stab at it.

    • I LOVE the idea of tiny houses! And, co-housing and tipis and trailers, all that. Time for people to think differently, I’m promoting this idea all the time, and selling my marital house in a couple of months, so I’ll be able to live the way I want soon!

  • I too am trapped financially. Part of his gas lighting was to put me in debt. Obviously I didn’t realize that until too late.
    But this is temporary.
    I have several plans….ALL of them involve me getting out of this marriage.
    There’s a best case scenario which involves him dying, his life insurance etc
    and a worst case…. I live in my car and storage unit.
    then there are several permutations in between.
    I look at it like a chess game. All of those scenarios involve many of the same steps.
    – paying off bills
    – socking away extra cash
    – paring down my personal items, which also contributes to the first 2 steps
    – having a plan on where I can go
    – generating a steady flow of income (since I am handicapped I have to think outside of the box)
    Which scenario plays out will determine how many of my chessmen I have in place before the final move and how fast those steps have to be navigated.
    Time is to my advantage. I don’t want to leave in a hurry and leave something important behind or not have anywhere to go…see worst case scenario.
    I have a storage unit (the cost is worth it). I have been putting the items I need and want to keep in there (family items and important papers) and I’m decorating my home with items I can walk away from if needed.
    I see no reason to confront him with his perusal of dating sites. I’ve told him 3 times it was unacceptable and that he continues to do it is his answer, so why waste my energy.
    When I leave or ask him to I will leave a copy of all the profiles I have printed out and his activity on them. My lawyer will have another copy.

    Yes, basically I am sad and depressed, but at the same time this is a chance to do something entirely different. It’s just the getting from here to there that will be unpleasant and painful. But that’s okay.


      • “But this is temporary.
        I have several plans….ALL of them involve me getting out of this marriage.
        There’s a best case scenario which involves him dying, his life insurance etc
        and a worst case…. I live in my car and storage unit.”

        Whatever it takes!!

        “I see no reason to confront him with his perusal of dating sites. I’ve told him 3 times it was unacceptable and that he continues to do it is his answer, so why waste my energy.”

        I’m starting to wonder if trying to “deal” with the betrayal is what bogs us down—it’s starting to dawn on me that perhaps I need to “deal” with this like I would a natural disaster—

        something that happened to me–a tornado rips my home to pieces or a fire burns my house down. I don’t think I would sit around and “deal” with things emotionally—I would want to move forward—find an apartment or somewhere to stay that’s safe–borrow money because maybe all I have is what’s on my back and the rest burned in the housefire, lean on caregivers who are always ready and willing to help (they are out there! not just family and friends!).

        You see those victims of natural disasters…that look on their faces, the shock and trauma…but they move forward. They do whatever they need to do in order to meet their immediate needs and the needs of their children—and “deal” with the emotional part later.

        Anger is a great motivator when it’s channeled, I think. But sometimes, I’m thinking that shutting down and doing whatever you need to do without remorse or regret can protect you as well.

        • A tornado doesn’t fuck with your head and say, “Maybe we can still be together if you get your shit together. I wouldn’t have ripped through your neighborhood if you’d have lost some weight or ignored the kids to pay attention to only me.”

          A tornado rips through your home and you have all the evidence you need that it is OVER.

          Haha–same with an affair (or several), IF you’re willing to look at the facts and not the bullshit. Don’t drink the hopium, and set your mind to moving on, and you will be ok.

          • No use fighting over an affair. No use dancing the “pick me!” dance.

            I don’t hate myself for it, but if I had it to do over again, I would’ve skipped all that crap, just would’ve said, “Right, then. Toodles.”

          • The emotional baggage was the most devastating part of his cheating realization. The how to get out and financial barriers were secondary. Once I kicked the pick me dance and became so angry which turned to hate and then indifference, I was then able to spend my mental energy on how to get out, when, what do I need, really NEED, not just want. My situation is such that I have lots of time to carefully and quietly do the planning with lots of plan b’s and c’s and d’s. Not everything is going to work exactly as planned, but I WILL get the hell out of here…maybe not in a month or two, but before this time next year.

            • Stephanie–Perhaps either you misunderstood me, or I am misunderstanding your response.

              I didn’t say that “we should all treat cheating as if it’s a natural disaster and hunker down/move on immediately”.

              What’s been occurring to me is that dwelling on my situation—thinking, rethinking, rehashing, listening to the same stories/lies, trying to untangle the skein—is consuming so much of my energy and it’s been MONTHS since this happened—and the stories don’t change. I’ve discovered even MORE bullshit, MORE betrayal.

              It’s like an ongoing tornado…constant ripping up, without any type of calm where I can call the insurance company from a hotel room and arrange for the estimator to come out to being repairs.

              When I think of people in these devastating events—the next day…they are OUT THERE with shovels and brooms and bags, with friends and family and total strangers…picking things up, throwing away what is too damaged. You don’t see them lying about, sobbing, curled into a ball.

              What I am saying is that I would like to be a little more like THEM right now, that perhaps curling up into a ball was okay for a bit….but getting on my feet, picking up my broom and my dustpan…and getting to the business of cleaning up his MESS will keep my mind from dwelling on WHAT HE DID. That’s for later. When the calm settles in and therapy begins.

              • I totally understand what you are saying. I just couldn’t think clearly at all after DDay and was illogical as I possibly could have been. It is only now, months later I am calming sorting out how to get on with living in the present and looking forward to the future.

                I did, for some reason, realize my craziness at the time and knew if I put off grieving, I would still do it later, so I chose to wallow in the misery and get it over with. For me, I am so glad I did. There are no longer any feelings to consider, just get away and be rid of the snake.

          • Stephanie, so true and the point I am at now didn’t just happen.
            It will be three years ago in September that I found the first evidence of online dating profiles. That really messed with my mind.
            I cried and asked for explanations and heard all the lies and denials.
            I went through the stage of questioning my reality and my own mind.
            I had a shell shocked look about me as I tried to sort out what was happening…not that it really needed sorting.
            Add in family deaths and illnesses to keep me running.
            As little as 6 months ago I remember thinking….because he has a history of mental abuse, making me have phone conversations with the speaker on and much more….thinking that a lot of those things have calmed down and I have started standing up for myself and maybe this isn’t so bad and then I remember……I told him cheating, flirting and all of that was a deal breaker and every time I mentally brought myself back to that the sadness sets in again.
            Now I don’t look shell shocked, just drained and tired.
            “hopium” exactly. He must periodically sprinkle some into my coffee.

        • Sorry I cant remember who said this, on here, but she felt like a ‘hostage’ coming out of her marriage. That rang true for me as well.

          • There is definitely a “Stockholm Syndrome” in these situations, like when a hostage starts to identify with his/her kidnappers. It’s hard to break, and it’s even harder to realize how hard-hearted a narc can be. So, inevitably, there is some attempt to try to figure it out, to deal with the person, some hopium that creeps in. The thing is that once you figure out that these narc-characters really don’t have all that much inside, you get going on rebuilding and stop worrying about them. The sooner and more you detach, the less power they have over you. Sometimes they rage. Often they abandon what they can’t control.

            • And then the chump is a post-chump and is much better off.

              Find someone worthy of your trust and affection, someone who also can be a decent step parent for your kids, if possible. (There’s no rush on the second item.)

            • Well put David, I’m waiting for the rage part. My husband is a scary person. People around me who know him fairly well fear for me and if he doesn’t leave on his own, I have plans for disappearing.
              From the times he threatened to leave early on and the things he did I know he has no regard for me as a person when he feels like that.
              Twice I’ve caught my computer midair when he kicked over a table.
              I know that if he wanted something I won’t give him….sign a paper or hand over my good jewelry he would start breaking things he knows are important to me or hurt one of my cats.
              So for me when the time comes it will have to be a clean sweep, one time exit.

          • Lol.

            Hey PattyToo.

            Yeah, that was me.

            I didn’t feel like a divorcee even when the judge slammed the gavel (and I mean slammed) and announced we were effectively divorced as of that date.

            I actually started crying tears of joy. Andy thought I was upset.

  • That’s the part I hate the most about this – this feeling of residual Stockholm Syndrome. My mind knows that Mr. Top 1% of his NPD Class is a disordered Level 5 hurricane, destroying everyone and anything in his path. But as my IC described it, you have to “unravel” those emotions from your former (for some, current) situation – you don’t just get a knife, a pair of scissors or a meat cleaver and hack them off (unfortunately). When I read about the “opiate” effect that the emotional abuse visits on its victims, it finally gave a name to that “pull” I sometimes feel and the difficulty I have had letting go of what I know was a mirage. Not talking to HIM for a month has assisted in the “unraveling” and it has definitely cleared my head. I hate that we have to climb through this devastation like people trapped under rubble from an earthquake, but that’s what we end up doing, while they skip blithely off like children who just got free ice cream from the ice cream truck. We KNOW that they are parasites and we no longer want to play host, but emerging from the rubble is a process and it requires tireless effort. In the words of Michael Corleone, “We’ll get there Pop. We’ll get there.” I would prefer sooner rather than later. Courage my fellow Chumps!

    • Chump Princess,

      This is really beautifully written. The nature metaphors are very apt. Some folks, the n-folks, are like predators. Now, they may not be predators in the sense of real criminals, but they’ve got some of that in them. Hard hearts, empty heads and dead souls. It’s hard to accept. Chump Son spend many years, way too many! (25, in fact) trying to get through to a narc-Dad, only to find satisfaction in finally dropping the verbal guillotine and giving up. But giving up is liberating.

      In any case, you make great points. We can’t look back at these little misery-creating tornadoes and get made that they skip on their destructive way. Move on and leave them to their little journey. The Road to Meh is very liberating, but it’s a fight. No doubt about that. It involves tasting the (at first) bitter (and later liberating) pill of acceptance as to what a schmuck these n-characters really are.

      Again, great writing. And much appreciated by this CL reader!

      Chump Son

      • I loved the “Godfather” reference. I often refer to X as Fredo.

      • Thanks everyone! I appreciate the compliments on my writing. ChutesandLadders, I LOVE that you refer to your X as Fredo! What a Hoot!!!

  • I began making my “fears” list and will attempt to break them down slowly and decide what it is that I need to do. Organize and prioritize, right? There is a panic that sets in when I look at rent payments and think about all the expenses I will have on my own. It isn’t that I’m choosing money at all. It’s a basic fact of life – you can’t rent an apartment without money. You will get kicked out of an apartment if you cannot make rent, and then you are homeless. Your car will be repossessed if you cannot make the payment. Your utilities will be turned off if you cannot pay your bill. You get the idea. You need money to live, so that will have to be priority #1 for myself. Find full time employment. I don’t choose to stay married for money. I am trapped because of my financial situation, but looking to get out of that trap. There’s a difference. I certainly would never choose this way of living. I am left trying to claw my way out of a mess that I did not create nor did I deserve. I hate that I trusted him and I hate that he had me right where he wanted me – completely dependent upon him. What a fool I was. I wonder how he can even live with an ego as big as his is? Control. Ego. Entitlement. It makes me sick.

    • Received this yesterday and thought you might want it, “Don’t be sorry that I trusted you. That was my mistake.”

    • Amazing link! I could get lost in learning with all those wonderful sites.

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