Dear Chump Lady,
I could really use some advice. My kids and the affair partner’s (AP) kids are in the same school; same grades, different classes (I made sure of that). My problem is that many of my friends from the kids’ previous year are now in the same class as her kids. AP tries hard to show that she is a good mom, Betty Homemaker type, and that’s all well and good, until I noticed that she is trying to go after my friends with her Pinterest Room Mom crap. How do I handle it? Do I tell everyone the humiliating story of my husband having a one night stand with my “friend” while my kids were staying the night at her house and I was out of town? Or do I “take the high road” and give her space to start over?
Back story: AP was my friend, although now she likes to tell people who found out that we were never friends; that we barely hung out. The affair happened when I went to a wedding and my husband went to pick up the kids from her house from an after school playdate. She offered him a drink and he proceeded to get hammered.
His MO was he liked getting drunk, she was willing to take care of the kids for him, and he was gonna pass out on her couch. After she put the kids to bed, she went after him on the couch…less than 10 feet from where the kids were sleeping. She decided to move it to the bedroom, and he followed. BOOM! Doneski.
I was told by my husband after spending an ENTIRE day with her when I got back under the impression she and her hubby were fighting about her getting drunk with my husband. I confronted her that night to see if it was true, and she said, “It was a mistake.” So I ended the friendship, called her husband and told him the ugly truth.
For the next 3 months I received texts about how sorry she was she hurt me, but that she was hurting too, and missed our friendship. Her hubby thought she hadn’t contacted me since it happened, so he was pretty surprised to find my husband outside of his work with a folder full of text messages, pins from Pinterest, and emails showing otherwise. My husband apologized and then asked that the man to ask his wife to leave me alone. I didn’t hear anything after that.
I run into her ALL the time though. We live near each other in a small town, kids attend the same school, soccer league, hell, even a trip to the grocery store can shake me up. I’ve told a few people but like you said: you spend the rest of your days avoiding those that hate your husband or trying to defend your choice for staying, and unless you have been through betrayal before, they just don’t quite grasp how hard it is. And it is BEYOND humiliating; I get comments like, “Whoa. He must’ve been REALLY drunk,” “Do you not put out or something?” or “You have to forgive her because God asks us to and you want to be forgiven for the bad choices you’ve made in your life.” (We live in the Bible belt.)
Help! I’m tired of taking the high road; neither of them did that night. My therapist tells me to avoid her, but with the school year coming up, and the run in we had while I was talking to a friend who happens to be in her daughter’s class (Hi! I’m Gina. Our kids are in the same class. We should get coffee together and maybe do a craft for the teacher), I feel like I should stop walking away. On the other hand, I don’t want to look like the scorned, bitter wife….and more importantly, I don’t want to be pissed all the time.
Is your husband getting treatment for his drinking? His “MO is he liked getting drunk.” Is that still his MO? Because I fear you might have bigger problems than living near Miss Super Sleazy Homemaker. (But I’ll get to that in a moment.)
I understand your distress about the nutty OW — but fact is, she wouldn’t be an issue in your life if your husband didn’t have a penchant for getting drunk and passing out on strange sofas. Your letter kinda glided over your husband’s culpability — instead the narrative is that she pressed herself upon him (this is his story, right? All she said by was of elaboration was it was a “mistake”). She took advantage of poor Mr. Shitfaced. (Where was her husband in all this, by the way? Just curious.)
That might be the case, she’s a predatory nut who’s attracted to inebriated, semi-conscious men. In which case — hang on, how drunk was he exactly? So drunk he was passed out, but drunk enough to still get it up? Guy chumps, you want to weigh in on the plausibility of this? Anyway, my point is — alcohol lowers your inhibitions, but he still gave himself permission — he was a willing participant. According to your story — they had sex. It’s not like she felt him up while he was passed out. He did the deed and spent the entire next day with her. (Versus waking up, running outside with his trousers, and puking in the bushes like some college frat boy.)
I wouldn’t be surprised if there was flirting and inappropriateness before that night. I just doubt that people go from 0 to 60 that quickly. It might be more of an affair than a one-night stand. It would explain her investment in him and her fishing expeditions for more attention. I doubt her attraction is based on one night of pathetic, fumbling drunken sex.
It sounds like you’re in reconciliation — for that to be remotely viable (and you know I am skeptical on the subject) — your husband needs to be in AA owning his shit on the drinking AND the cheating. It just doesn’t sound to me like you have the full story. I’m glad he apologized to the man’s husband. I’m glad he threw her under the bus. But those are small things compared to the enormity of your husband’s problems. He’s got substance abuse issues AND character issues. What’s he doing about that? What makes you feel secure in reconciling with such a person?
As for the OW? You told some people. She told some people. It’s a small town — I promise you, gossip like that gets around. People know what she is. And if friends of yours want to be friends with her, or crafting buddies or whatever — they’re not your friends. Those people don’t have your back. And anyone who would have the unmitigated GALL to say “Do you not put out or something?” should be hit with a brick. That idiot isn’t your friend, nor is the Christian who insists you forgive her. Have they been tested in this way? Were they cheated on? No? Then they should keep their mouths shut. Would they say that to a parent who lost a child to a drunk driver? That “friend” is minimizing your grief. You were betrayed. It’s not like you got snubbed at a dinner party. Your husband fucked another woman. If you forgive, how you forgive, or if you even feel inclined to forgive is your private business and nothing that can be dictated.
I’m sorry. You’re surrounded by lousy people, Nellie. Start finding people who have your back, who are true friends, and hold those people close. Forget about the other nincompoops.
You only get to control you. You cannot control who your friends are friends with. You cannot control what the OW pins on her Pinterest board or who likes it. You cannot control your husband, if he drinks or doesn’t drink. If he cheats or does not cheat. You just get to control YOU.
Do you want this marriage? Do you want to live in this small, judgmental town? Do you want your kids to grow up around the OW’s kids? If not, then you have to start taking steps to act in your own best interest. See a divorce lawyer. Consider a move. Set a condition of sobriety on your husband before you will even consider reconciliation. In therapy, figure out what YOUR boundaries are — and how you’re going to enforce them.
If you’re intent on reconciling, you’re going to have to learn to live with your husband and the OW in close proximity to you. Or you’re going to have to insist on a move as a condition of reconciliation.
My advice to you is tell whoever you want about what they did. If it wasn’t so bad to do it, it’s not so bad to speak of it. You don’t get to control other people’s judgement of you. If they think your husband sucks, or you’re bitter — you have to let go of that. Live your truth. You don’t have to protect either of their reputations. Just live your own life with integrity.
I’d also suggest that you get a post-nup. You’re making a very risky investment staying with a cheating, drinking husband. Work out an advantageous divorce settlement with an infidelity clause. Only he controls if he cheats again — if he balks at signing it? There’s your answer to how committed his is to fix this. I’d like you to have a nice, fully-paid-for escape route for the next time he falls asleep drunk on a sofa.