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Dear Chump Lady, My mom is friends with my cheating ex

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Dear Chump Lady,

Will you please help me figure out how to talk to my mother? I need some guidance. My mom continues to have contact with my STBX even though I have shared with her that it is important to me that she cut off ties with him or at least only contact him as it relates to keeping in touch with my 3 step-daughters. (They were my step-daughters for 7 years. Ever since I asked for a divorce, my STBX has denied me contact with them and has forbidden them to reach out to me).

This is not new behavior for my mother. My mother has also been overly kind and generous to my younger sister’s cheater/sex addict ex-husband, and my mother rents a home (at a discounted rate) to my older sister’s ex-husband who is an alcoholic. (Nope, no drama in my family…) So, I guess it’s clear where my chumpiness comes from.

I know I’ve made it confusing for her because when Dday happened in May 2011 and I got sucked up into the sex-addict-recovery-and-reconciliation-industry, I asked many of my friends and family to continue to stay connected with him to provide the support he would need for us both to have a chance of recovering our marriage. My mother also spent many years involved in Al-Anon and AA as my father founded a rehabilitation center for alcoholics and drug abusers back in the late 1960s and still running today. My mom followed the accepted AA doctrine and asked me many times to try to “separate the person from the disease of addiction”. While I can understand this concept when it comes to the chemical reaction and dependency of alcohol and drugs, somehow I could never make it work out in my head that my husband, when I was no longer providing the ego kibbles at the rate he required, turned to prostitutes in massage parlors. His kibble jackpot looked like this: He would go to a seedy massage parlor and ask for “just” a massage, once he flipped over on his back and had a big woody, the “massage therapist” would “massage” that as well. Because he didn’t order any special services (or pay for it) he worked that out in his mind that they just did it for him because he was so good looking, because they “wanted it” or “him”.

This activity started one year after we were married and continued for four years, completely unbeknownst to me, until I opened a credit card statement and saw the charges. Sometimes three different places in one day. I knew we had problems. I knew my husband had “rage issues” and I had been asking him for at least two years to seek out help to address and deal with whatever it was that was going on with him. But I had no idea he was lying to me everyday, squandering thousands of dollars, and risking our marriage and our future.

I believe my STBX is an NPD. But, like so many that I’ve read about here, he’s good. He is verrrrrryyyyy, very good with all of his masks. A true Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. (A month ago he was given an award from a prominent organization for “Man of the Year”). It was only when I absolutely turned down the sound of his words, and just/only “listened” to his actions, did I finally see the truth. This man meant me harm. Or, probably more accurately, this man was in pursuit of Ego Kibble and he didn’t care how much he had to hurt me to get it.

It was not until I found your blog that I finally found validation! To have what I was really feeling expressed and detailed so eloquently. I have since been firmly rooted in the truth that I have found here, which is 1) that My STBX is an NPD, and 2) that he abused me for 6 years before I finally got tired of bailing the water and got out of the boat. What he did was the same to me as throwing me down a flight of stairs, repeatedly, Absolutely!

So my question is this: Knowing all that my mom knows about how he lied to me, betrayed me, is maliciously cutting off the relationship I had/have with the girls, mistreating and neglecting the girls while he spends excessively on himself, HOW can she reach out to him with kind words and HOW do I communicate to her how hurtful this is to me? Or, do I just need to practice more “detachment”? Ugh.

I appreciate any thoughts you might have.

Thank you,

FLBright

Dear FLBright,

Wow. I don’t really know how to communicate with a fuckwit who runs the Wayward Home for Shitty Husbands. My nicest interpretation of your mother’s behavior is that she’s some uber chump who believes she can love all the hurt away. You and your sisters are so strong, and these poor cheating, addicted, alcoholic ex-husbands need someone to kiss their boo-boos. She sees potential where you and your sisters see abusive addicts. Her savior schtick is narcissistic, of course. Everyone else has failed at their rehabilitation, but she can be the anchor they need! A friendly friend when no one else will listen… or rent them a room.

Maybe she tells herself it’s for a nobler purpose — to keep the doors of communication open with her step-granddaughters. But come on, there are other ways to do that (social media, Gran, get on Facebook) than to make you eat the big shit sandwich of contact with Mr. Happy Endings, there.

Okay, so that’s my benign interpretation of mom’s interest in you and your sister’s exes. My gut reaction to your mom being friendly with a guy who rages and cheats on you — AFTER you’ve filed for divorce — is that she SUCKS. Epically. If it was a one off, I might be inclined to go with my first interpretation — but she’s done this to ALL THREE of YOU. You and your two sisters! It’s super creepy. Like she’s competing for those men’s attention from her daughters — which is incestuous and weird. I know that’s strong language — and I’m not a shrink, just a chump — but IMO your mom is crazy desperate for kibbles. So much so that she would betray you all to get attention from your exes.

When you are a mom, your number one instinct is to protect your babies. Anyone hurts your kid? You feel murderous towards them. We’re wired this way for the survival of the species, and so are other animals. Here, watch this Wild Kingdom clip of a momma cougar protecting her cubs from a grizzly bear.

See how that momma cougar risked her own life to save her cubs? See how she was not fucking around? She bit that grizzly bear’s head and chased him back into the woods, hissing all the way. Notice how she did NOT call the grizzly bear to ask about his day, or fluff the pillows in his cave, or share a tea cake with him. No. She fucking bit his face off.

THAT is what mothers do. When Bad Creatures threaten their offspring — mothers protect.

Mothers who do not protect or hiss or bite grizzly bears are bad mothers. They might be damaged mothers, too weak and ineffectual to save themselves let alone protect others. But that’s not your mom. No, your mom is FRIENDLY with the exes. Quote “overly kind and generous” unquote. So, she’s not damaged. Is she just lacking in empathy? If that were the case, then she’d be indifferent to your pain, but probably indifferent to the exes too. No, your mother takes it further — she’s offering succor and aid to the enemy. To someone who hurt her babies, and continues to hurt you. So IMO that means she’s just cruel.

Her actions have a very clear message — and it isn’t neutrality. Her actions say You Were Wrong About Him. It wasn’t that bad. Whatever he did, he’s still someone I value enough to have a relationship with. She’s not supporting you in your decision, and she’s subtly denying your reality. (What’s all the fuss about? Why can’t we all just be friends?)

That may be fine in a run of the mill romance gone wrong. But this is abuse and addiction. This man cheated on you. Another man cheated on your sister. Another one was enough of a chaotic alcoholic that your other sister left him. These are men who put you all through a world of hurt. It’s not even a close call!

Chumps are often sad and upset that the in-laws circle the wagons after a divorce. Family they had once been close to, now act like strangers. And the horrible thing there is — the chump did nothing wrong. So, you can see how blood is thicker than water even when your own kid is the grizzly. It hurts, but at some point — even if the in-laws acknowledge their kid is a creep, and they’re sorry, and they hope you’ll let them see the grandkids — you understand that no contact with your ex’s family is for the best. It’s often just too painful.

It’s baffling to me why your mother would want anything to do with your cheating ex. The step-granddaugher excuse is pretty thin soup — and even if she was very close to them, she should defer to YOU on how to finesse that relationship right now. Her behavior  says I Know Best. Or, like yesterday’s post, it may be another way of saying “you’re not the boss of me.”

FLBright — you can’t control your mother or the company she keeps. You only get to control you. If you have a conversation with your mother I would say something to the effect of “If you choose to associate with my ex-husband, knowing full well how he abused me, I need to detach myself from this relationship.”

If she lays some line on you about “separating the person from the addiction” — I’d hit her with a big upper cut of the truth. Mr. Happy Endings isn’t doing jack shit about his “addiction.” And no one else in the world separates a person’s ideal self from their actions. Try it in front of a judge and see how far you get. “Your Honor, that guy who murdered that little old lady. It wasn’t me. That wasn’t my best self. I was having a very low blood sugar day. Yes, it happened, but that’s not who I really am.”

Your soon to be ex-husband is a man who lied to you, cheated on you, spent thousands of dollars of your marital assets on prostitutes, alienates his children, and rages. You’re not the crazy one for not wanting to be in contact with that person. Your mother is.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I agree with you, 100% CL. If it were me, I would send her your letter here and CL’s response. I would emphasize that she’s destroying your relationship (because she is) and that she needs to choose between you and him. Hope she wakes up and does the right thing! xo

  • I’m sorry, FL…that SUCKS, big time. Love Laurel’s idea of printing her letter and giving it to your Mom to read…maybe someone else’s perspective will jar her into reality…

  • My mother is from a time and place where this rampant narcissism either didn’t exist or was unheard of. She is deferential and polite to the extreme. Including to lying cheating scumbag X. She just doesn’t get it. It was just something unfortunate that happened. Like bad weather. My Dad is gone 15 years now and he was the one who questioned men’s motives and kept them in line.

    Fortunately, my sister does get it and when the ex made the mistake of trying to open up family finances during the divorce, she became the cougar and told him never to step foot on any family property again or else. I was just a little too beaten down at the time, so it was a welcome relief.

    The kids got trucked to a neutral location to be passed off for visitation until they were old enough to say “Not this weekend, I’m busy”

    I don’t trust any of these guy’s motives. Is FLBright’s mother worth some money? Mine sure is and I know that it really pained the ex to have to walk away from an easy street inheritance someday. Another reason I thank God that the OW left her husband and forced his hand.

      • The great thing about how long the whole leaving and divorcing process went on was that while he diddled, the kids were getting older. And the more time he spent away from home with his second life (playing hooky and avoiding responsibility) the less sway he had over them and the more bonded we were. And my kids were homeschooled through 6th grade, were very independent and were not used to being treated like possessions that were to be split and shared. In other words, when the time came to say “No thanks” they could do it to his face and expect that to stick.

        His original out-of-settlement had the kids split up with the boy (13) going with him and the girl (15) going with me. This was a money ploy so that nobody would owe anybody any child support. When we got into the mediation process after he finally filed, that really didn’t impress the mediator. The state doesn’t like to see kids split up.
        Bad Dad.

        When he moved out, he gave me a calendar with a visitation schedule on it, just like we were already divorced with joint custody! My son made the attempts to go along with it (the girlfriend was hidden — would have looked bad in court) but my daughter didn’t want anything to do with it. Age 15. He didn’t have a court order elaborating that’s how things were supposed to be, so what could he do? He doesn’t like being the “bad guy. She spent hardly any time at his apartment in town.

        About 6 months after the move out, I had to drop my son off at the apartment to study afterschool. The ex was out of the country at a professional meeting. Hmmm. Caught his Girl Friday at the apartment and put two and two together, especially since she tried to sneak out the back unseen. I told my daughter, who immediately called a meeting with him when he got back and told him that if he was going to have a relationship with that woman, he couldn’t have one with her. It blew him away. He called it blackmail. She stuck to her guns. Age 15. There wasn’t anything he could do.

        When he filed about 6 months after that, the kids were 14 and 16. I answered for sole custody. During the custody mediation process he was not good at keeping his temper under wraps. I didn’t back down from requesting sole custody. I had the kids interviewed by themselves so they could express their wishes confidentially. Finally, at out last meeting, the exasperated mediator said “Look, the kids are not interested in having a relationship with your girlfriend”. My lawyer said by the time they get to be teenagers, the state is wary of creating rebellion by trying to coerce the kids.

        We moved shortly after that meeting, with the boy being a high school freshman, and the girl a junior. My daughter never did go on any visitations. My son did for the first year until he developed a social life where we live, 75 miles away. He had a sports schedule that didn’t really allow for visits. The summer after freshman year he spent his 6 summer weeks there with them and their new baby and was miserable, so he just didn’t go back after that. They say their howdies at Christmas and that’s that. Son just graduated from high school this year.

        One of the things that really helped was the kids having their own cell phones for communication with their dad. That took me out of the picture entirely, and he was on his own for dealing with the kids instead of expecting me to be the bad guy. I was not his enforcer. If they didn’t want to go, they didn’t go.

        He wasn’t in the best of financial shape after the divorce was over. He and the girlfriend liked to live large (new pickups and a baby). There was one attempt to play games with support payments that my attorney quashed with a letter to his lawyer about the downside of disobeying a court order for a man in his position.

          • Yes, my kids were 7 and 10 when our nightmare started, so now, at 13 and 16, they are able to speak to the court themselves (according to my lawyer). I don’t think they are strong enough t tell him to his face though. Now my son says he feels sorry for his Dad (haven’t figured that one out). My daughter, after walking in on my ex’s porn video he forgot to turn off, refuses to even speak to him, but she is afraid to confront him. He told her that if she refused to go with him that he would fight to take away “every penny” of my support. She said to him, “What about us”(her and her brother), he said, “oh well.” No matter, like CL said, “mama lion!!” Thanks for sharing 🙂

            • I don’t get “fathers” (like Alec Baldwin for instance) that think they’ll get anywhere dealing with their kids like they do their ex wives. Mine at least tried to bribe them “We’ll have a big new house and you’ll get a huge new room” “We’ll have so much fun together” and of course, he was deluded thinking that a new baby brother or sister would be better than Christmas.

              My state doesn’t think much of tantrums like that. The whole group of mandatory parenting class was told that children DESERVE the support of both parents regardless of how the kids appear to be taking it and regardless of whether or not anyone felt slighted as to parenting time.

              You be the cougar! and shield your daughter from that perv. She’s old enough to relay to a court representative what happened. He won’t get anywhere with the court.

        • Chumpalicious – your daughter sounds just like mine: “You broke the rules, you’re a jerk, go away, get out of my life.” It’s SO black-and-white at that age. I envy them. Because if I’d followed my gut on DDay and put his sh*t on the yard and changed the locks – instead of doing the “pick me” dance – the drama of the last five years would have been over in a flash.

          “Her OR me, NOT both. End of discussion.”

          Simplistic brilliance, from the mouths of babes… 🙂

          • Hey Red, My daughter’s a redhead. He never stood a chance!
            To this day he doesn’t know how to deal with a female that calls him on his shit! He can’t divorce HER after all.

          • Red, That’s a very good point. I did the pick me dance for 5 years as well!! I wasted sooo much time in “hopeland.”….trusting my gut from now on!!

        • I am so jealous of your kids’ empowerment in your state. In my state, visitation is mandatory until age 18 unless extreme circumstances. Being a selfish dad with a mistress is certainly not “extreme”. I know my kids are ok at dad’s but I deal with the brunt of their complaints about going there. They don’t want to advocate for themselves since they know they cannot change anything and they don’t want to make dad mad or sad. My oldest turns 18 in a few days. He has been counting down to his “freedom” from forced visitation. Maybe he will have a better relationship with his dad when it is on his terms, or maybe no relationship at all. That is up to them. My younger two are already complaining to me that their older brother is off the hook — they want freedom too.

          • Yes, we’re really lucky. The juvenile delinquent court must have gotten together with family court when they wrote those statutes.

            I read somewhere about a couple that REALLY put the kids first and kept the home intact for the kids and the adults switched their visitations by coming back home. The land we lived on was in my name — I wish I had immediately gone down and put it in trust for the kids and made him have to adjust HIS new life to visitation instead. I regret that I didn’t.

      • Check for your jurisdiction! Here in Quebec, custody is shared 50-50 by the two parents by default. You have to prove some MAJOR nastiness about the other parent and involving the kids if you don’t want that and the other parent has asked for it. That was one of the main reasons I stuck w/the ex for several years even after starting to see who he really was. I couldn’t stand the idea of my kids, who have always spent way more time with me and for whom I’ve taken way more responsibility, by the their father’s choice, having to be with that mean guy 1/2 time.

        BUT, the law in Quebec is also very clear about when kids get to start to give their opinion about custody splits; from age 8 the court will hear and take into account their wishes, although it won’t necessarily follow them. And from age 12, the CHILD DECIDES. (Most judges will push for an agreement where the kids spends at least some time w/each parent up to age 14, then it’s absolute.)

        I don’t think the ex even knows this; I checked a zillion websites and talked to a lawyer before confronting the ex about his 2nd affair and kicking his ass to the curb (rather gently, for the kids’ sake!). But heaven forfend he should do that kind of research! Such an idiot.

        So on Dday our son was already 12 and our daughter 11 (and good luck getting her to do anything she doesn’t want!), and I felt way better about a separation because of that. The kids and I talked, suggested to the ex that every second weekend plus 2 evenings a week (when I work) for 3 hs. It’s been almost a year of their going to his place, but our daughter still hates sleeping there, so they go over Saturday morning and come back Sunday evening. Doesn’t leave me a lot of time for dating, but I manage a bit!

        (Of course, months after this agreement started, the ex complained he didn’t have enough time w/the kids, and that he needed to see them more to help w/homework etc. Claimed he’d never agreed to the arrangement we had! I reminded him that he had, and that he needed to talk to the kids about any possible changes. That’s the period when our son told me ‘papa misses us when HE’s lonely’. Needless to say, nothing changed. But now that he has another out-of-town assignment, suddenly the ex is fine with not taking them those two evenings a week, just alternating weekends. Doesn’t seem to even think about how this impacts the kids, or me. Same selfish asshole as ever, but it still hurts me for my kids.)

        • Yes, my ex does the same thing to my son, depending on whether or not he’s experiencing one of his many breakups with the AP…when they’re off, “the kids are the most important thing, it’s all about them.” When he gets back with her, the kids are barely “on the radar.”Like you said, I hurt for them…breaks my heart…they deserve better.

  • No one can heal or “fix” someone else. It does not matter if your ex has an addiction, is a psychopath or whatever mental health issue. What matters is the pain and suffering ze inflicts. Unless that person has demonstrated thru actions they are aware and working to help themselves and shown they are no longer dangerous, you don’t engage with them, you don’t enable them. Your mother has been involved in rehab? Then she did not learn a thing, addicts lie and manipulate, anyone dealing with them long term should be aware and insist on actions, your mother has her own dysfunction, enabling your ex to hurt you should be off the table.

    You can’t fix it either, find a good therapist, you may need to cut your mother loose, harsh but you ate enabling her to continue to hurt you. I bet you have rationally explained this to her many times and she doesn’t change. It’s not that she doesn’t hear you, she doesn’t agree with you. You can’t fix it, accept it, decide what to do given that simple fact.

  • FLBright,

    Chump Son here.

    As hard as it is to accept betrayal from a spouse, it’s harder from a parent. But there are parents who lack parental instinct. It just ain’t there. I do think you should tell your mother why you feel that her behavior is inappropriate, but I wouldn’t expect her to change or trust her if she seemed to change. From what you say, she is already overriding major mother instincts. It’s baffling and hard to figure out why (Is it money? Savior-narcissism? Anger at you and your sisters?), but she surely is running this river in the wrong direction.

    You may have to accept the fact that your mother really doesn’t want what’s best for you. As CL mentions, even crummy parents will usually rally around their kids when the chips are down. I must say, my own father was capable of that, even though, as I have written previously, I came to the reluctant conclusion that he was not on my side, did not even attempt to see things from my point of view, etc. So, I shut the relationship down. It’s a sad end, but it was the best or rather the least-worst option. Just because folks are our parents doesn’t mean they are good for us. That’s a hard pill to swallow, but it may just be true, and it’s something we have to consider. In your case, your Mom seems to be actively undermining you. You do not have to take that.

    I’m sorry about your situation. Even if he keeps you from your step-daughters, they will remember you, and some day they will be over 18, and you can write them/communicate that you never wanted to be cut off from them. Don’t be afraid to go your own way/to follow your gut on this. Mom ain’t doing you any favors. Let her know how you feel but, again, even if she seems to change, I’d be careful. She seems like a chaos-maker/troublemaker. There are folks out there who thrive on drama, and she may be one. Don’t let this happen at your life’s expense.

    Hang in.

    Chump Son.

    p.s. You know, in reading this over for typos, I realized something. We Chumps are all optimists. It was tough for me to cut my relationship to my father. It meant giving up the Chump Hope that things would somehow turn out all right between “Daddy” and me. But it was, in the end, the right thing to do, or the least-worst thing to do. I think we Chumps love to smoke the hopium. But life has its tragic elements. And the best way to deal with bad choices/bad relationships, is not with hope-spackle, but with firmness and resolution. That limits losses and amplifies the happiness that we can have during our brief time in this human state. I just thought this as I read through my own answer. I think hope-spackle keeps us tied to bad relationships, ones that we should accept as life’s inevitable tragedies and deal with quickly so that we can get on to better relationships and to focusing on the right people/the right connections. After all, our time is limited.

    Anyway, two cents more.

    • It’s hard not to be optimistic about a relationship with your own parents. If your parent is a narcissist or other wing nut, you must constantly butt up against who you think they SHOULD be, (and who they might pretend to be around others), and who they actually are.

      Kind of an emotional whiplash. Just best, as you say, to limit contact.

      • CL,

        You are right. But, frankly, Chumps have these Chump Eyeglasses that make them see things the way they “should” be, or the way chumps want things to be. But spouses who make public promises to always love and honor or parents who are your parents are, in the end, still just…people. And a certian percentage of people are pretty strange and effed up inside. So, as we go through the de-chumpification process, we learn to see things as they are. We also accept our limits. We don’t fall for “savior-narcissism” (i.e. the idea that I am so special that I can save this or that person). We get more realistic and we look to form healthy relationships and we limit or cut off the unhealthy ones. So, son realizes father is not for him, so he finds coaches, mentors, others. Spouse finds out that their partner really should be an ex, and spouse moves on. It’s painful, but it’s realistic and its right.

        Anyway, thanks again, CL, for everything. You are doing lots of us a lot of good.

    • Oh boy, I was really addicted to hopium throughout my marriage! It was hard to give it up. I think you’re right about Chumps being overly optimistic and believing that one day things will change.

  • My mom falls somewhere on the continuum between Damaged/Not Responsible for Her Actions and AsBadAsFLBright’s Mom. For one thing, my STBX really thinks (correctly, I’ll give him this much Lol) that she is coo-coo-bananas – so he will basically limit the relationship FOR her (he’s not looking for anything from her, unlike the examples in the post.). She thinks she’s being very 1970’s Free to Be You And Me by “reaching out” to the ex. The big difference here, is that I simply haven’t told her what he did, nor why I’m suddenly divorcing him after 25 years. She does know he was hospitalized for a month for mental health problems, and that the announcement came after that. If I had to guess, she probably thinks I am just kind of heartless, and don’t “understand” people with depression, like her and my dad.

    The reason I don’t tell her is self-defensive: she has zero boundaries or filters, and every single sordid detail will be rebroadcast. I know this, because it’s happened in the past with things I considered deeply personal, and she constantly is telling me everyone else’s sordid gossip. Blech. I’m sure she’s already telling everyone her surmised version, involving the crass, unloving daughter she raised who hates people with depression.

    So, in her defense, she does not have all the information upon which to base a healthy “try to stay in touch and have a relationship” decision upon, because I have not given it to her. (And I know my ex will shut her out in the future anyway.) But the REASON she doesn’t have all the information, is because she has repeatedly failed to protect my privacy in the past, and that’s a good enough reason to keep from her all the details.

    My (young adult) kids also haven’t been told the details – just that we aren’t meeting each other’s needs anymore (and STBX did tell them, unprompted from me, that he “screwed up.”) I’m afraid that if Grandma knows the particulars, they will in short order too. I expect they will eventually find out, but I’d like it to be a little more organic than from Crazypants Gramma.

    • Dear Chump Lady,

      You get to see such psychopaths everyday. I have now learned from my experiences that such people exist and they exist in good numbers in organizations and otherwise. They come close to you, read you and might even start a relationship of good acquaintance or friendship with you. When you are sufficiently invested, you let go of small matters…somewhere you know that it is “my way or highway” for them…and you don’t want to let go the sunk costs. But, there is an additional element to it…your fear…and many times your gut feelings of fear are correct…for small things (for which you come in their way in letting them have those at your expense off course)…they go to all extremes in destroying your reputation or anything you valued.

      They use information asymmetry greatly. People have seen you hanging out with them. Off course people know that they know better about us. One more important factor is that while they were with you, you know how bitchy they were about others in a convenient way (non-verifiable or casual ways where they could deny when encountered)…and you believed their version. You believe that others would believe them when they speak ill about you. People don’t have time or guts to verify facts…In Organizations, in society and in families, everywhere, this is a big problem. How do chumps (read non-psychopaths or normal people) deal with such issues? Also, factoring in the important point that this “sucking blood” take a large proportion depending also on the positional advantage of the psychopath.

      • You can’t control what other people think of you. And wing nuts do try and malign chumps. My experience is that over time, if you keep your head held high and just go about your life being you (and they go about their lives being wing nuts) — it’s pretty transparent who the creep really is here.

        And for those who know you and would believe such lies? You are better off without them in your life. Anyone who gets close to a wing nut, will get burned…. eventually.

  • This may be slightly off-topic, but I thought I’d share it anyway. When I was 22 years old, my then-husband (age 32) just-so-happened to be in a J.C. Penney 30 miles away, where he just-so-happened to be in the second-floor men’s room (a known gay meeting place), when some guy just-so-happened to offer him a blow job (at least, he claims he was on the receiving end of the transaction), when the police who just-so-happened to be doing surveillance on that bathroom burst in and arrested him. I found this out because, after one year of marriage to an evasive, bend-the-truth-whenever-possible man, I was in the habit of checking his wallet, and I found the arrest papers.

    Here’s where it gets even sicker: I stayed with him for seven more sexless years, including five years AFTER we divorced!!! This was just at the very beginning of the whole HIV/Aids nightmare, so I was checked only for the run-of-the-mill sexually communicable diseases, and luckily I dodged a bullet there.

    The point of all this is that he is still friends with my mother and brother, and two weekends ago I saw him for the first time in 27 years. He’s now married (for ten years) and he STILL tells me annually (he telephones me when he pays a visit to my family) how I was the one that got away, it was meant to be, he has never felt about anyone the way he felt (and feels) for me … Kind of embarrassing, now that I look back on all the energy and hope I spent on him! He really isn’t an evil guy, just pretty mixed up and presently trying to live a straight life. Who knows what arrangement he has with his current wife …..

    • Perhaps this is naive of me, but I do not understand how ANYONE in this day and age continues to live in the closet by choice.

      I can only interpret your ex-husband’s behavior as a man that enjoys the double life. Glad he is GONE. Why your family would be “friends” with Mr. Closet Case is beyond me.

      • My ex is certainly hidden so deep in the closet maybe even HE doesn’t know he is in there. I’ve written here already about his hundreds of gay encounters during our marriage (and before and after our marriage, for that matter), the gay porn, the interest in gay lifestyle, the stereotypical sound of his voice, mannerisms and interests. I mean, this is a guy who bragged about getting blow jobs from other men in his office at the bank where he worked. I caught him Googling “guys fucking”. yet he insists he is not gay, wants to meet another woman, was “confused” but is now “cured” because of a church he went to.

        It’s bizarre. In my ex’s case, he is from a small town family, very religious, and although I am sure they “know” he is gay, they can pretend not to know as long as he stays hidden, if you know what I mean.

        • Mine also used to frequent bathrooms with glory holes, gay bath houses and a gym that was known for gay sex in the locker room. But he’s not gay, darn it, he’s just confused! It was just a sordid phase he went through because he didn’t feel enough passion for his wife! LOL!

    • Oh. my. gosh. Thats an awful lot of “just so happeneds” lol.

      Reminds me of a guy I started dating… who shared that “I have a lot of gay friends but I’m not gay”…. “and thats why we hang out in gay clubs, but I’m not gay”…. “and of course I flirt with gay men, but just for fun, because I’m not gay…..”

      I told him to be whomever he wished to be – whether that was bisexual, or gay – and enjoy it. And I wished him well in his life lol.

      Anyway…. sorry that you *still* have to hear from your ex!

    • Well, that sucks the big petunia, ColdTurkey, but please… never beat yourself up for staying with him or trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. You loved the dolt who I’m sure except for this one not-so-little thing is practically perfect. It does confound the mind why someone would be living this particular brand of double life, but I think its just a twist on how other cheaters think. His wife is for a *relationship* and everyone else, is for sex. With some people, it IS everyone else and with some just women or just men. Now, is he gay? Yes, of course he is… but he does not want to live with another man. He wants to live with a woman because he wants to APPEAR to be a normal heterosexual man. And honey, I have no doubt that he genuinely loved you, (and probably still does…) he’s just not physically attracted to women and he’s trying to make it work.

      Hey, this COULD work. If only you were gay, then you could have sex with women and he could have sex with men and you could be one deliriously happily married couple who never have sex with each other; but that would require an open and honest convo of which he is incapable, because he knows that you aren’t interested in that arrangement or even a sexless marriage. And worse yet, he thinks that you don’t need to know and won’t find out. So, he found another patsy/place holder who’s not so curious. (at least not yet) She’s not you, but she’ll do. very sad.

      I guess it always comes down to deceit and how that plays out are like slimy snakes. Some are just plain gross and others are downright poisonous.

  • My sister’s husband asked her for a divorce and they separated. The first Chrismas I sent him a card, a small present and some cookies. (they live 100 miles away) The next year my sister said she didn’t want me to do that again and I respected her wishes.FL Bright I do not understand your mother’s actions.

  • FLBright, ChumpLady’s right – your mother should be snarling and showing her teeth to these guys, not fluffing their pillows and fetching them drinks. She’s cheering for the wrong team.

    While you can’t control her actions, maybe you and your sisters could follow Chumpalicious’ daughter’s example and refuse to have anything to do with her while she’s in contact with your exes. If she feels the need to help others for kibbles, there are plenty of worthwhile organizations who desperately need volunteers.

    Rewarding bad behavior just gives them more incentive to behave badly…

  • I’ve seen this, the betrayed’s spouse and family acting cordially to the cheater. It sickens me. I know , for a fact , that by doing this they are conveying the message that the betrayed was somehow at fault, is exaggerating the seriousness of the offense, and that the betrayed is unworthy of support.
    There is no doubt in my mind that this is some passive/aggressive abuse being inflicted by the mom here.
    Your mom is not in your corner, at all.

      • I completely agree!

        I know my sister is getting a divorce right now (long story short, her husband was pretty shitty and could never be happy and she should have divorced him years ago but decided to wait and cheat on him instead; he couldnt get over it [mainly because she kept lying] and she didnt want it anymore so divorce it was) and in the beginning my mom was still talking to her xh “for the kids”. While I do know that was part of it because my Mom hated the concept of my nephews never being able to see the family interact nicely together, I also know that she was disgusted with my sister and I can see what you mean about the passsive/aggressive aspect Arnold.
        Good Point!

    • My brother-in-law’s family invites his ex to every single family function and holiday. Now, BIL and his Ex did have a child together, so that was part of it. Also, there was no infidelity involved in the divorce. Basically, he’s a very controlling person, and his first wife couldn’t take it anymore. My sister adores him, and he adores her (though he’s still controlling). His family assumes that he was the jackass who led to the divorce, which is probably true.

      It’s weird dealing with the XW at the holiday gatherings. I don’t dislike her, and I genuinely like her mother, but I think it’s got to be weird for her, too. Still, she’s been doing this for almost 20 years, and will probably be doing it for even after my BIL dies, which given his health conditions isn’t necessarily a far-in-the-distant-future event.

  • CL – Thank you so much for responding to my letter. I really appreciate your thoughts and perspective. I would also like to announce here (as I won’t “announce” on FB or in any other way) that my Divorce just became final at 8:30 AM this morning. As of this moment I am no longer tied to this sad, sick, and hurtful man. Very soon I will find my way back to complete NC and to the Meh-State I had enjoyed for 2 months before mediation began. Tracy, your blog, with all the wisdom you have complied here, has been a game changer for me and I’m so grateful for the work that you share here, Thank you.

    Now, about my mom… The sort of emotion I have around this is more along the lines of what Chumpalicious wrote in her first comment that “she just doesn’t get it”. It doesn’t feel malicious or sick (although it is most definitely WRONG) I feel like she’s just so filled up with the hopium as she traipses through the forest in search of unicorns and she just wants everybody to be ok. I have not sat down with her face to face since I found your site and feel more conviction and confidence in the abuse perspective. I have the opportunity to do that this month and I will. Overall, my mom has been a great mom, my healthy self-esteem allowed me to know through all of this mess that whatever the issues were with my EX-HUSBAND!! (HA! That is the first time I get to “say” that!!) That they were his issues. Many friends would come to me and say, “now, don’t beat yourself up, none of this is your fault.” To which I would reply, “Damn straight its not my fault! Turns out he is one messed up mutherfucker!!” And I believe I have the confidence that I do today because my mom loved me unconditionally. The problem, it seems! is that she’s loving all these other douchbags unconditionally as well. She doesn’t like to “judge”. Which reminds me CL of the statement you make, one of the first that I read upon finding your site, “No, Chump Lady is the friend who sits with you at 3 in the morning, pours you a bowl of raisin bran, and tells you to LEAVE that motherfucker. You deserve better than this. There’s a GOOD life out there without this asshole in it.” I’ve needed that perspective from my mom on several occasions throughout my life, but I learned early on that just not what she has to offer. Instead she taught me to “put myself in their shoes”. Which is valid in certain circumstances and has served me well. It simply does not apply to this situation.

    As I worked for 18 months to try to put my marriage back together a very smart friend of mine said, “I think the problem is that you simply cannot believe you were wrong, that you made a bad choice. How much more does this man have to do to prove to you he’s a bad guy?” I think my mom has the same problem. To allow what this man has done to me and the girls and my family into her consciousness will simply be too devastating. And again, this Jekyll/Hyde is very, very good. He makes it VERY difficult to believe what he really is. I will ask her to bravely face the truth when I see her later this month and I’m pretty sure she will come around when she sees how committed I am and how important it is.

    Thanks to all of you for your comments and support on my letter, as well as every other day. I’ve gained enough strength here to help me “gain a life” beyond this pain. Hugs to you all as we navigate our Chump-Journey.

    FLBright xoxox

  • Two things:

    1) I call utter BS on the “he didnt ask for the happy ending, and didnt get charged for it” – utter utter bullshit. Those women charge a *lot* for their extra services.

    2) AA/NA etc advocate “separating with love” from an addict – otherwise you’re enabling the addict and their worsening addiction.

    Sorry, but you mother is FOS, and as CL said… a terrible mother. Detach from her too, until or unless she comes to her senses. You got rid of one toxic person, you don’t need another!

    Best of luck.

    • Right on with calling BS on the “he didn’t ask for a happy ending.” He went to those particular massage places knowing FULL WELL that he would get a happy ending. It wasn’t an accident. And he would be expected to compensate for the extra service (at the least, through an increased cash tip).

        • Well, ultimately, only he knows the truth, but it was part of the game and the Kibble Pay Off was HUGE if he did it this way. If he didn’t order it or ask for it, but they “gave it” to him, he could convince himself of his own fabulousness. Now, don’t get me wrong, the girls got paid. As I sat him down beside me in front of the computer to go through all of his credit card statements on-line I pointed out where they double charged him. “Yeah, see that there, they were pissed you didn’t pay for the service you got and hit your credit card twice (or three times…)” He claimed the days that he charged in 3 different locations on the same day is because he didn’t get satisfied, so had to go to another place, until he ended up at a regular place he knew would pay off. Yup, that was the prize I married…

          Done!

  • My parents were cordial to my ex during and immediately following our divorce, because, as my mom said, “he is the father of our grandchildren”. My dad would even go with my ex to my ex-in-laws house to help with work and projects. (Did I learn my chump-skills from my dad? LOL)

    Then ex revealed his true self and moved in with his mistress. Kids are sad and hate it there.

    Now, my dad says “F**k him!” and they don’t do anything to help him any more.

    I love my parents!

    I hope your mom comes around, FLBright and becomes that mama cougar.

    • Thank you Stacey! I don’t think I could show my mom CL’s letter and hope for a positive response, but I think I WILL show her the cougar clip and let her know that THAT is the protection and the response that I am looking for. Visual cues are helpful!

  • FLBright – “HOW can she reach out to him with kind words and HOW do I communicate to her how hurtful this is to me?”
    Have you told your mom that her actions are breaking your heart? That you really, really need her to support you right now? If you tell her this, and she continues to be kind to your ex, it would seem that she isn’t being nice to you at all. She isn’t being the mother you deserve. You would have every right to distance yourself from her.

    Another thought: Has your relationship with your ex been on-again-off-again? Have you broken up and then gotten back together? If so, she may be staying friends with your ex because she thinks you may go back to him. I’ve seen this happen in families sometimes, where they don’t want to cut-off the ex completly because they know in the back of their mind that their son/daughter may go back to them.

    I feel for you, FLBright. Your mom should be looking out for your feelings, not his. When my mom found out about my STBXs bad behavior, she let me know she is on my side completely. It means the world to me. I couldn’t imagine how messed up I’d be if my mom took the other side.

    • Nope, luckily I did not do the back and forth thing. Mom doesn’t have that excuse. When I found out what he was doing I kicked him out of the house for 2.5 months but we were still seeing therapists and working on recovery. He moved back in and we worked on it for another 15 months. Then in Oct. 2012 I called it and have not wavered once. I honestly think that when I sit down with my mom in a true heart to heart, she will come around. Ugh, sounds a little like Hopium…. fingers crossed.

  • My youngest son recently got married. I hadn’t seen my cheater ex or his family in a year and a half. His family was very kind and friendly to me, we all hugged, did small talk, etc. It was very comfortable to me. My parents, on the other hand, wouldn’t look at or acknowledge their former son-in-law. I felt bad about this because his parents were being decent to me, and for our son’s sake I wanted my parents to be decent to my ex. My father told me he wasn’t going to fake emotions he didn’t feel. So I settled for having them ignore my ex but not cause a scene. My father always says he treated my ex like a son, and my ex cut us all out of his life. He said he feels my ex divorced him too. My ex did run away and cut off all contact, so I can understand why my father feels that way. On the other hand I contacted people in my ex’s family (we were together 31 years) and said my goodbyes. I told them I’d miss them and I loved them. I don’t expect to keep a close relationship with his family, but I do hope to stay in touch with them. My ex, on the other hand, tries to stay as far away as possible from my parents.

  • Lyn, your situation is completely differnet. You did not cheat on your ex-in-laws’ kid. Why shouldn’t they be cordial etc to you?
    Your parents are right. No fucking way would I ever be nice to one of my daughters’ exs’ if he cheated on her, anymore than if he beat her.
    I do not buy, for a minute, that a reasonably intelligent mom cannot see how being nice, supportive etc to an abuser is failing to support her daughter. Something is amiss here and the lack of support is very disturbing.
    My GF’s mom does this, and it is really bad news, IMO. It invalidateds my GF’s pain and minimizes the extent ot the abuse and trauma she suffered at the hands of her cheating XH.

  • Blood is thicker than water, but betrayal is thicker than blood. Just because you share genetic material with someone doesn’t mean they’re good for you. I’d go NC with Mom unless/until she figures out the difference between right and wrong.

  • The mother sounds like another version of a PD’d control freak. A non-PD would listen to the evidence, who is right and wrong. Then act accordingly. Mom sounds like she want’s to be the hero and save this poor soul. And at the same time ignore the victim.

    It reminds of that bible proverb “the prodigal son”. I never ever did get that story.

  • I’m sorry but your mom sucks. She’s your MOTHER for crying out loud. Absolutely ridiculous that she doesn’t want to emasculate all of POS son-in-laws. My mom would be first in line to do it to my cheater.

    One of my husband’s oldest friends (they’ve known each other since grade school, whereas I met him in my 20’s) just told me today that he will never speak to my husband again after what he did. He said I’m his friend and not my husband now. He said wrong is wrong and there’s no excuse. If a friend can see that, how the hell can’t your mother?

    • That’s great Kay! My cheating wife’s work friends even though they know what she did to me they and agree she should be the one to move out are still friends and chum around with her. Pisses me off how people simply accept adultery. Until it happens to you, you just don’t fully understand the crushing effect it has. They still see her as their buddy. SUCKS!

      • My ex’s brother helped me get my protective order with his testimony, the only person who had ever been on the receiving end of hiS rage besides me. I am so grateful he is a compassionate and honest man. He is my friend and won’t have anything to do with his bro, my ex.

  • I’ve been divorced from ex for over a year now. My family hates ex with a passion after the unbelievable lying, cheating and abuse he pulled on me. I exchanged cards with the ex’s parents at Christmas, but no other contact with them or ex’s sisters. I AM, however, still quite close with the ex’s brother and SIL. These were the ONLY people who told ex everything he was doing was wrong, and ex turned on them quite viciously after that. It makes him angry that I am still friends with them, but their son and my son are close and wouldn’t see each other otherwise.

  • Sharing this with all my fellow chumps:
    Source: The Selected Writings of Sydney Smith; Image of Sydney Smith:

    Foston, Feb. 16th, 1820

    Dear Lady Georgiana,

    Nobody has suffered more from low spirits than I have done—so I feel for you.

    1st. Live as well as you dare.
    2nd. Go into the shower-bath with a small quantity of water at a temperature low enough to give you a slight sensation of cold, 75° or 80°.
    3rd. Amusing books.
    4th. Short views of human life—not further than dinner or tea.
    5th. Be as busy as you can.
    6th. See as much as you can of those friends who respect and like you.
    7th. And of those acquaintances who amuse you.
    8th. Make no secret of low spirits to your friends, but talk of them freely—they are always worse for dignified concealment.
    9th. Attend to the effects tea and coffee produce upon you.
    10th. Compare your lot with that of other people.
    11th. Don’t expect too much from human life—a sorry business at the best.
    12th. Avoid poetry, dramatic representations (except comedy), music, serious novels, melancholy sentimental people, and every thing likely to excite feeling or emotion not ending in active benevolence.
    13th. Do good, and endeavour to please everybody of every degree.
    14th. Be as much as you can in the open air without fatigue.
    15th. Make the room where you commonly sit, gay and pleasant.
    16th. Struggle by little and little against idleness.
    17th. Don’t be too severe upon yourself, or underrate yourself, but do yourself justice.
    18th. Keep good blazing fires.
    19th. Be firm and constant in the exercise of rational religion.
    20th. Believe me, dear Georgiana, your devoted servant, Sydney Smith

  • My husband’s mother, now my MIL, really likes his ex wife who cheated on him but says it is only for the sake of seeing her grandson. She doesn’t make any such efforts for me the mother of her other grandchild. The grandson graduated the other day and we were all meeting at the event place and while riding in the Uber I paid for to meet us there, she texts me that she and FIL will be sitting with the ex wife and her Family rather than us and her own son! She honestly doesn’t believe anything her son tells her about the woman that continues to cause both of us pain for the last few years and says our issues are all in the past and not to talk about them. He has been through two divorces and both times his family backed up the ex. I finally yelled at her and then he roasted MY balls as his fami,y are non confrontational and sweep it all under the rug. I got no sympathy for the fact that I got the text messages telling me she would not be sitting with me and my daughter and her son, even though my husband did tell her how much the ex tried to stop me going to the graduation, how much pain she cusses. Mommy jist sweeps it under the rug, doesn’t want to hear it, fuck her.

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