Dear Chump Lady,
Boy am I a chump! A struggling chump. My husband of 10 years cheated on me 5 years ago with a coworker. At the time our kids were 5 and 2 and I begged and pleaded for him to take me back. I wanted my marriage to work sooo badly that I was actually pathetic (in hindsight). We counseled, lived apart for 5 months and then got back together. It took me about a year to trust him again but I eventually did.
But, surprise, surprise it happened again. Two years later I was at work and got an email from a complete stranger telling me that his girlfriend was cheating with my husband. I got my facts straight, and then confronted my ex. He denied it of course but eventually admitted it. Turns out he was cheating with 3 different people all at the same time! I immediately kicked him out and got a lawyer.
That was 3 years ago. It took 2 years to finally become “divorced” and a year later we still haven’t divided up all our assets as he’s been stalling! He even refused to get a lawyer for the first 8 months of our separation. Our separation agreement states he gets to see our girls 2 weekends a month plus one day a week. He’s chosen not to see them during the week. He never calls them (not even on Easter, Thanksgiving etc.) My girls are now 10 and 7 and are oblivious to what actually happened and think they’re dad is a “hero” (he’s a paramedic). I know he’s a pathetic, useless, waste of space but I would never say anything bad about their dad to them. I know in time they will figure everything out.
Now to my problem. He is marrying HER (the last one he cheated with) this weekend. I am heartbroken. I am broken because he didn’t want to be married…I did. Now he will be and I won’t. My girls keep coming home telling me their going to have a “step mom” and I feel like I’m being (ever so slightly) replaced. I am living in my parent’s basement and struggling to pay for my kids activities while he bought a new car, new house, went on 3 trips and is now planning a wedding!!! I am angry. I understand the need for my kids to have a relationship with their dad (even what little there is). I understand that I shouldn’t say anything negative about him to my kids, but it is literally eating me up inside watching this woman have a relationship with my kids. She admittedly tries to be their “best friend” and even took my daughter out to buy her first bra. She’s stealing my moments and it’s devastating me. My kids only see her two weekends a month but even that is enough to make me want to be sick. I don’t know how to get over HER. It’s not even about him…I want nothing to do with him. I can’t get over HER. How do I stop obsessing over her and the relationship she has with my girls? I have so much stress and anger that I’ve developed an ulcer and am seeing a specialist for more testing. My health is on the decline while he moved on a long time ago. I feel sorry for her…she’s stuck with a pathetic loser. But I’m so angry and devastated that she gets to have a relationship with my amazing, loving, beautiful children and she doesn’t deserve it.
How do I let go of HER? How do I make it through this weekend knowing that my girls will be at their dad’s wedding, oblivious to everything and building a relationship with this homewrecker who helped destroy their family? Please help. I feel like I’m close to a nervous breakdown over this.
Sick of HER Chump
Sorry I’m getting back to you on Sunday. Presumably you’ve not had a nervous break down and did make it through. Pat yourself on the back. What you feared happened and you’re alive to tell the tale.
What struck me about your letter was the line — “I am broken because he didn’t want to be married…I did.”
How do you think the OW is different? Don’t you think it’s entirely likely she wanted a “commitment” (snort) off him just like you did? And he acquiesced, just like he did for you. And he’ll play married man, just like he did for you. And he’ll cheat on her, just like he did with you.
She didn’t get a different guy. She got HIM. A serial cheater. He didn’t have a character transplant this weekend. They didn’t throw magic rice. She’s not special. She didn’t make him different. He is the SAME him. A man who put you through two years of false reconciliation. A guy, who when you caught him, was cheating with THREE different women. They don’t make Jarred Diamond ads out of that situation, SoHC. That isn’t romance, it’s flaming dysfunction. She’s his new chump. You dumped him, he needs a replacement.
As an OW, she deserves all the karma that is going to bite her in the ass. But right now, he’s got to sugar coat his new life. Creepy people need hooks. So he’ll spend money, buy shiny new things, because he’s a shiny, new guy, right? No, SoHC, he’s not a shiny new guy. He’s creepy old guy — a man who walked out on his little girls and doesn’t call.
No one replaces you as their mom. NO ONE. Those bonds are primal. I know it must pain you no end that she shares any time with your daughters, but this is a no win. If she was abusive to them, hit them, neglected them — you’d want to rip her spleen out — and have a messy legal battle ahead. If she indulges them, you want to scream she doesn’t deserve them. But buying your daughter a bra hardly a “relationship” makes. Better she treat your daughters kindly, than poorly. I’m sure it’s impression management, but your kids are young. It’s going to take them a long time to figure this all out. All they know is that to have a relationship with their dad, they have to go through her. And they will pay that price, because they want their dad. Dad is a “hero.”
The person, IMO, who deserves your anger, and who does not deserve your daughters’ kind regard, is your ex-husband. He’s the one who cheated on their mother, couldn’t keep his commitments, can’t be bothered to call them. He’s the one who necessitated this divorce.
Just because you get a cheater out of your life, doesn’t mean they still don’t want you to perform the “pick me” dance. You fear the OW will usurp you as mother. Pick me! The OW wants to curry favor with her new husband, so she’ll suck up to his kids. Pick me! Your daughters probably desperately want a relationship with this unavailable father they love. Pick me!
That’s four different females doing the pick me polka with your ex in the center. I wonder how many more he’s got waiting in the wings? I can see the spinning disco balls now… Introducing the Pick Me Dancers!
Stop obsessing. Stop feeding him. Be secure in the knowledge that your daughters love you and YOU are the sane parent. You’re the one who has their backs. I don’t care if you live in your parents’ basement. You’re doing the best for your daughters every day, because you are THERE being their mother. The OW is not. And your ex-husband certainly is not. YOU are. You’re the hero in this story. Not your paramedic douchebag ex. The OW just took a serial cheater off your hands. Buck up. Your new life awaits.