Dear Chump Lady,
I found your site by accident some months ago when I was researching articles to send to myself and my (hopefully soon to be ex) husband. I come to it often to remind me that it’s not me and I deserve better. Your site and articles give me strength in my weaker moments and I’ve read several of them numerous times.
In March of 2013, I discovered he had had an affair with one of his employees. He said, then, that it had only been going on six months and was online, as she had returned home to her country. In May of 2013, he said it had actually started ‘right before she left’ to return home in May 2011. She started working for him in Nov 2009 and I suspect it actually began in early 2010, but he balked about my wanting a timeline. He bought an iPad to FaceTime with her after she left, another phone, Skyped, etc etc. He closed all of those accounts, left Facebook (though I discovered a fake account he had had) and closed his personal-only bank account without balking when I asked.
We worked on reconciliation and while he was initially very remorseful and sorry, there were small signs that it was less than the 100% I was throwing myself into to save the marriage. When I asked him to draft a no-contact letter in Aug 2013, he refused, saying she might be mad at him. I should have taken this for more than I thought it was at the time, but didn’t – so intent was I on saving our family, which seemed to be going well enough.
He learned in early Sep 2013 that she might return from her country to work for him again and hid that from me. I discovered it late that month. He did nothing to stop it, atop of hiding it from me. When I begged and cried about him writing a no-contact letter, he refused. I began counseling and asked him to do the same. He did. She did return to his employ and he flat out told me in Oct 2013 that she was, ‘such a good friend,’ and he was not going to treat her any differently than any one else.
They restarted the affair in late October, from what I can gather, and I lived a torturous life from October through December, in which I was still committed to trying to save the marriage and he was a complete, self-serving jerk. The marriage counselor said that he was ambivalent about the marriage, but that I needed him to end it, not me. Just before Christmas, he said he’d be leaving after the holidays.
In early Jan 2014, I figured enough was enough. I had absorbed the fact that he’d been lying and hiding things for at least three years and it was likely she wasn’t the first one, though I don’t have proof of that. He quit marriage counseling, snuck out at night at least twice a week, slept in the den, etc. I consulted with two lawyers and retained one a week ago. He sent my husband a letter on Tue noting that I had retained him, to find an attorney and hopefully we could settle this amicably outside of litigation.
My problem is that while he still apparently can find time to sneak out at night, or be up all hours on his iPad, he has done jack-diddly about getting an attorney or moving out. The kids, aged 15 and 12, know something is up since he’s been sleeping in the den for nearly two months now and he and I barely speak. He said that he ‘can’t do anything’ until next week, due to his work schedule. I’m trying to be graceful and take the high-road, as we can’t afford too much litigation and I don’t want him getting into a fighting mood. Living this way, however, is sucking the life out of me.
How do I get through this day-to-day with him there? My nerves are starting to fray at this daily torture of having him there and his attempts to be friendly. I need some survival techniques. I’m tempted to ask him to leave, but no doubt he will stall on this leaving thing as before; it’s well after the holidays, after all, and he is still there. I hate his concern about my weight loss, I hate his watching me take out the garbage without offering to help, I hate his, ‘have a good day,’ on the mornings he’s feeling gracious. I hate the rolling in after midnight and our daughter worried and waiting up for him. Again, I’m trying to weather this, but each day just frays me a little further and I’m starting to question my patience. I need advice.
Advice? Use the contractor bags — the really large black ones. Don’t buy generic, because they rip. And forget anything with a twist tie. You want the bags with the built-in closures, so you can haul those suckers to the curb easier.
Seeing as you have all this experience taking out the trash, take it to the next level, Vicki. Throw the bum out.
But, but …his work schedule!
Oh hey, look at my watch. It says DUMP HIS SHIT ON THE LAWN IN TRASH BAGS. Actually, it’s quarter past DUMP HIS SHIT ON THE LAWN IN TRASH BAGS. And by “quarter past” I mean since March 2013.
Time to start calling the shots, Vicki. He’s still in his affair. He’s doing jack shit about your petition for divorce. He’s a cake eating bastard. He was going to leave after Christmas? People took down their trees weeks ago. It’s nearly February. Isn’t OW back from the home country? I’m sure she’s got a comfy sofa he can sleep on. Wherever he lays his air mattress isn’t your problem.
Change the locks. Throw him out.
But! But! What will the lawyers say?
He doesn’t have one. Maybe this will be a nice impetus for him to get one.
You have it on good authority that he was going to move out after Christmas. Told you so himself. It’s after Christmas. You’re just helping him pack.
But! But! What about the kids?
Time to tell them that dad’s been cheating on you for three years, you’re not going to take it any more and you’ve filed for divorce. And it’s all his fault.
Scared of my advice? Don’t be. The way you’re living now is a million, million times harder than calling a locksmith and throwing his shit on the lawn. Will it be hard on the kids? Yes. Get them some therapy. Start making a plan. But you know what’s worse for kids? Living with secrets and tension. Waiting for the world to collapse.
The world is collapsing, but you’re in charge. You’re mighty and you’re going to navigate yourself and them through this.
But first you need to get this asshole out of your life and go no contact. You need that lawyer to draft emergency support orders. You need to stop being passive in the face of his abusiveness — his blatant disrespect of you and the kids.
You know why you’re losing weight? Because you’re only eating shit sandwiches. You need a healthy diet of KICK ASS. Start taking control and you’re going to feel a hell of a lot better. And you’ll build up an appetite again.
You’re internalizing all of his wickedness. Taking sucker punch after sucker punch. You’re accommodating him. You’re putting his fucking WORK SCHEDULE above your sanity. Apparently Mr. Cheaterpants’ work schedule accommodates his fucking around quite nicely. I’m sure he’ll find time out from his busy life to pick his possessions up off the front lawn.
He gets ugly about it? You call the cops. Immediately. They’re not as nice as you are. They’ll give him 3 minutes to pack a duffle and a ride in the back of a cop car.
You can do this, Vicki. Get the ball rolling on your new life. We have your back.
ETA — You cannot “nice” a person out of an affair. And you can’t “nice” a cake eater into an amiable divorce. How’s that working for you? He enjoys the good opinion of his children and has you to take out the trash. It’s going to be ugly. Count on it. So go on the offensive. He dances to YOUR tune. You’ll accomplish a lot more by demonstrating you’re not his chump any more than you will trying to achieve consensus with a dickwad who does NOT have your best interests at heart. Give that motherfucker a FIGHT, Vicki!