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Dear Chump Lady, My soon-to-be-ex wants to take a family vacation together

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cakemanDear Chump Lady

I am seething!  My charming husband of 20 years said he will not give up his long-term affair partner for me or our boys (15 and 12). We did counseling. I cried, tried to understand, asked that we rebuild our relationship. He lied and kept up the affair the whole time. Yup, all that.

It’s almost 2 years after D-day and I am finally dragging myself free. He doesn’t want to leave the house, but wants to stay together and ‘co-parent’.  Sex would be great if I wanted to throw that in (NOOOO!!!!), but we could be platonic “if that is what I wanted.”  (He did ask that I try not to be so sexy if I wasn’t going to sleep with him.)  Ugh.

My younger son wants to keep the family together. I told him that was not his job. Next week is school vacation week. I suggested that husband take the boys skiing, and I will take them south for April vacation. He wants us to go together. He had the nerve to text me while he is waiting for a plane to go to Florida for a “conference”.  I am working and taking care of the boys while he goes on yet another boondoggle (with OW or he’ll find someone there).

He forwarded a text from our son asking if we could all go skiing as a family when daddy gets back on Sunday. He tells me “not to do this to our son. Son is so fragile now.”  I could just scream. Of course our son is fragile. He has watched our family disintegrate before his eyes. Even the dog has gotten skittish. Did you not think of the impact on our children when you decided to have an affair? Not just a drunken night in Vegas, but a full blown 5-year-go-on-vacations-together and signs their texts “life partner,” kind of affair?

I am supposed to play happy family with the man who lied and betrayed me? How do I help my sons through this?

Breathe

Dear Breathe,

Why don’t we start by helping YOU through this? Find those boundaries and enforce them. He wants to go on a vacation with you, as you’re trying to divorce him? You tell him “I’m sorry. I don’t vacation with men I am divorcing.” He tries to triangulate you with your son — you tell your son clearly: “You’re welcome to go on a vacation with dad. I’m not going. Dad and I are divorcing, which means we don’t do family things together any more.”

Maybe you think this will upset your son further. I’m sure it will upset him, but it’s the truth. And your son deserves to know the truth and adjust to it honestly, then to have some  manipulative asswipe raise false hopes that We’re All Getting Back Together Again.

That fucker must be really desperate for cake that he would hurt a 12-year-old boy. I think you need to be really clear with your son that dad won’t stop cheating. You’ve tried your best to save the marriage, but dad is intent on his girlfriends and that is unacceptable. Explain the concept of enforcing boundaries and letting go of the consequences to your son. “Son, it pains me too to lose our family, but it pains me more to see your father cheat on me. He cannot have both his intact family and his girlfriend. I cannot go on vacations with your father and we are not getting back together.” I would add that it kills you to see him so hurt, and you know he misses his family. But the consequence of his father’s actions is no more family vacations together.

You are NOT the bad guy here and don’t let your asshole soon-to-be-ex try to paint you that way. It’s a familiar tactic disordered freaks use on children. They abuse the other parent and then cry victim when boundaries are enforced. “Mom is so terrible. She won’t let us be together! I want us to be a family, but I guess your MOM doesn’t!” That’s why you can’t keep his secrets and protect his image. You tell your son exactly why you are divorcing, and remember to leave the editorializing out. Just the facts. Dad has a girlfriend. He won’t stop cheating. This situation has forced me to file for divorce.

You may think you’re the instrument of pain and crushing disappoint to your son. But really you are role modeling how to stand up to mindfuckery — a crucial life lesson.

I would talk to your lawyer about how fast you can get a separation agreement drafted. Mr. Cake needs to move out and be one with his “life partner.” Perhaps you could call her and tell her to prepare some closet space? I mean, godspeed! She can have him. Someone needs to send her the memo.

Stay strong and stay the course toward divorce. He wants to live together, co-parent, and have sex? Gee, you enjoy those things too in a marriage. Too bad he wants a harem. Keep putting it back on him, Breathe. Don’t let that motherfucker off the hook for one second. Family FAIL is on him. Tell him you will be platonically calling your lawyer and platonically filing an order of support and platonically throwing his ass out. Try not to look so sexy while you’re doing it.

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Ask Chump Lady

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  • Good advice. I haven’t had the experience of dealing with children in a divorce, but I think she’s spot on when she says leave the editorializing out. It might be hard to do, especially if your son asks questions, but it’s really important. Your stbx husband will probably try his damndest to editorialize as much as possible. Kids or no, married or not, this is what cheaters do. They try to control the narrative. They try to make you look as bad as possible to anyone they can. The ones to try to turn your own kids against you are particularly sick.

    Which is why it’s important to not do that yourself. Stick to the facts, even when it’s difficult.

    • Preach it, Chump Lady,

      Every. Word. Is. Correct.

      Getouttathere, hun, take your kids by the hand, and lead them and yourself away from the crazy.

      I did, because we’d be dead otherwise, or worse, stuck in the ambit of an abusive loser….

      Eyes forward and walk. It’s all you can do.

      love and strength,
      Meh-x

      • My husband to whom I’m separated he is booking a second trip this time for 20 days to CA. he says he bought tickets for our two kids and for me, Ive told him last week I cant stand haning out with him too much (he lost his license.) he stil booked th trip oughghh for the coming 9th

  • “Try not to look so sexy” = offering to trade a piece of kibble for cake. Imagine him imagining himself fucking her AND you and how important that makes him.

    He’s a full-on ASS, and part of the reason is because he’s getting away with it.

    As long as you pretend to be a family, by living together under one roof and entertaining the idea of complying with his manipulative requests, you are playing a role in fucking with your kids’ heads. That sounds harsh, and it is. I hate when kids are victimized.

    End this now.

    Set the ball in motion. Tell your son that you are very, very sorry–LORD, how you’re sorry–that his father wants to have other women while maintaining all the benefits of being married, and that’s a deal-breaker. I would even go so far as to say that it is abusive behavior and that you have a responsibility to remove yourself from it. That the divorce (not the possible divorce, not the maybe divorce, not the eventual divorce, but the divorce that is under way) is unfortunately the result of dad’s behavior and choices, regretfully. That if it were up to you, you all would still be a family, but that you only control your own behavior.

    Ugh.

    Do something. Call a lawyer. Have a goal of No Contact. Your STBX is an abusive jerk. The old life has ended, and a new life is beginning.

    I have sons who were about the same age as yours when all this went down. There was no discussion about “whether” the family would break up. It was just known that their father had pulled the trigger and that a divorce was underway. It was fucking devastating. I will never forgive my ex for doing that to my beloved children. I hate him for that and always will. It didn’t take long for my kids to adjust, to appreciate how strong and happy and RELIABLE their mother is. They know I did the right thing. They have stability in their lives, and their father’s role has diminished significantly. He is more like an uncle. I am constantly worried about the impact this will have in their adulthood, about the impact this has on their egos and senses of security and rationalism, but I know that I have set a good example, and they tell me this regularly. This can be your life, as well. There is no room in a happy woman’s life for an abusive asshole who uses words to twist the knife. It is your job to remove the knife, stop the bleeding, and never ever let him near your heart or head again. I would cut off contact with him ASAP. You can parallel parent, with minimal to no contact. I know. I do it. My kids are THRIVING, in spite of scars in their hearts, put there by a man who dares to call himself their father, and the treacherous twat he claims to “love.” The two of them wouldn’t know from love. They are clueless. Thank God my kids know I LOVE them, in the fullest meaning of the word.

    Do it.

    • BTW, I did a minimum of editorializing, except to say that I thought (when I was reading the chumpy marriage saver website) that I felt their father was depressed. Youngest rejected that explanation outright, said he didn’t believe it. I did not badmouth their father EVER–I didn’t have to. His behavior spoke for itself. I am proud that I raised such rational young men, who took their father’s behavior at face-value, as it should be. I don’t have to say a word, just be as awesome as I want to be. I only speak for myself. My kids understand CHARACTER. In truth I believe (but never say to my kids that) their father has no values. He says one thing and does another. He is a weak little coward, who humps a trashy, disordered female who is perfect for him.

      • Tell your son that everything is going to be ok. Hold him by the shoulders, look him straight in the eye, and tell him that you are confident that “although this is so very painful for you guys and for me–and I’m sorry, because I never wanted anything but the best for you–you deserve the best, I need you to trust me that everything is going to be ok. It really, really is, especially now that I know what has happened and now that I have a plan to move forward for our family from here on.” And hug him like you mean it. DO NOT tell him that your family is “broken” or that their father “tore up the family” or any other such thing. You three are still a family and a damned fine one at that, with relatives and friends who LOVE you. Your kids have YOU and they can count on you. They will continue to see their father–the relationship will probably feel a little different, but everything WILL be ok. You have no idea how much relief they will feel from that.

          • Jesus, Miss Sunshine-there’s a significant undercurrent of passive aggressive here. Are you really so sure YOU’RE the innocent victime here and you had NO part in the split? Certainly there are selfish people out there, and if that’s the case then more power to you in your anger. But the tone suggests the lady doth protest too much, methinks.

          • My husband to whom I’m separated he is booking trip this time for 20 days to CA. he says he bought tickets for our two kids and for me, Ive told him last week I cant stand haning out with him (he lost his license.) he stil booked th trip
            I’m wondering if a I travel will I look bad im send a custody case from CA late enough he responds

        • Of course he’s depressed he is losing control over what he wants. I don’t understand it. I am going through the same thing. All of a sudden being lovebombed and every weekend he stays drunk and cries and wonders why I didn’t get him a V day card ( he got me a very lavish one) when I told him “well you didn’t want to celebrate our anniversary 6 ms ago” more crying it is very scary (on one hand) and very put offing on the other. Sure I cried when he said he wanted a divorce but not like this and only once in front of him. not attractive.

          • Hahah!

            STBX came home all sick on Valentine’s Day. Since he is always physically ill after any kind of conflict, I realized that he’d had an argument with his schmoopie. She wants him to divorce me and marry her. I think this sounds like a GREAT idea, lol! I should probably call her in a couple of weeks to let her know I know of the affair, that I won’t stand in the way of true love, and that I think the better woman should win.

            Of course, the better woman is me. I’d be free a cheater. 🙂

  • Excellent advice. Similar experience here, however, my ex wanted to add on to the house so he could have his own entrance and bedroom because he was annoyed that the dog barked when he came home. Too much noise! And those kids, running around, awful! Denying him the “tower of power” was the first non-chump move I made in my entire life.

    When, a few months after that, I discovered his continued affair (this was after D-day, separation, reconciliation, counseling), it was time to finally end it.

    I was truthful with the children about the facts and to this day I do not regret that. The reality : we were divorcing because dad’s having an affair. Period. Not some ridiculous “we fell out of love” or “we’re growing apart”. No, dad is having an affair and 3 in a marriage wasn’t working for me. Since my ex moved the girlfriend in immediately and then subsequently married her, I am very glad I told them the truth. My children were close in age to your son. They understand a lot more than you give them credit for and they can handle this. Good luck.

    • Miss Sunshine and Newlife,

      This is my story. Even though I am at meh and years beyond DDay, reading stories like yours makes me feel less alone in the experience my children and I went through. Chump Lady, Thank God for you making this support system possible for all of us.

        • Yes well here it is. I’m married for almost 37 years and my husband told me that he wasn’t in love with me anymore. But that he still loved me and I was a great mother and a wonderful wife. But I don’t do anything for him anymore in bed.My daughter is getting married 1n 13 months and it just came out when I called him on p*** and was so upset. I asked him why he was doing that. He said he was planning on leaving me after she left the house. We would then be empty nesters. We had been thinking planning and looking to see where we might move retire and travel together all along. This was shocking to me. I am devastated and my husband believes that I have ruined my daughter’s wedding by telling her and my son which they are both in their twenties. He wanted me to pretend everything was okay for the next 13 months so that I don’t ruin her wedding! He said he didn’t want to be married to me anymore. To top that off, three years ago he had an affair online and a one time trisk someone. I forgave him, we went to therapy. And it’s been three years since then. I was hoping and praying that we would make it. I can’t even explain how hurt I am. I know he is depressed and insists that he can’t get over the fact that hi cheated on him when we were dating. This never happened. He is paranoid. But he has held on to this idea for many years and has boarded up throughout the years. I’m just freaked out and can’t understand it sounds like insanity

    • OMG!!!!!

      I know of another case where the husband wanted to add on to the house to avoid the kids/dogs. He, too, wanted a “Tower of Power.” (That’s what I called it!)

      These guys are NOT original. Not at all.

      Chump Son

    • This really is worth noting. Imagine a person actually suggesting that he build an addition on to the family home so he could be away from his own family! Now, I think part of what went on here was that the hubby wanted to keep his affair and to have a nice little nest where he could leave a cell phone around, he wouldn’t have to be careful. I also notice that many nark-men are terribly noise-sensitive. Any noise bothers them, particularly if it’s joyful. So, that’s part of it. Then there’s the final element. I’ll be you anything that this guy was going to sneak his honey up there some time. These folks love secrecy. It can help, I think, with dubious performance. So a sneaky little session under the noses of the family…. It appeals to a certain not-so-well mind.

      Anyway, the Tower of Power is an amazing tale of self-deception/self-absorption. Wow.

      • David; so true that any noise bothers them, especially joyful noises!
        Also true, loving screwing over the others right there in the house-what fun and excitement!
        Like you are 16 and sneaking someone in through the window with your parents home. Extreme immaturity!

  • This revolts me:

    “(He did ask that I try not to be so sexy if I wasn’t going to sleep with him.) ”

    A flat footed rape threat draped in a flimsy see-through compliment.

    Classic mindfuckery – it simultaneously blames the victim and excuses the implied action.

    ” Ugh! ” is right!

    Fly! Get Thee Hence! Breathe Courage!

    • ‘A flat footed rape threat draped in a flimsy see-through compliment.’
      Wow. Just Wow.
      There is some amazing writing on this site.

    • These characters will scavenge all the kibbles that they can, if you let them. This guy is a real kibble-scavenger. Or kibble-vulture. Cut off the supply.

  • Hi Breath

    Tell your son the truth. Don’t go into details, thats not necessary. Your were betrayed by lies. Don’t do the same to your son. If you sugar coat things he could end up resenting you. The world can be cruel but he will see that mom will always be there, to tell him the truth and to help him through when things get tough. You will have the strength to go through all this madness when you have your son by your side. Thats a blessing.
    Get rid of your husband, he has no self respect or integrity. Do you want your son around someone like that? He’s using him and your son will pay the price in the end.
    Hang in there. Blessings

    • “Get rid of your husband, he has no self respect or integrity. Do you want your son around someone like that? He’s using him and your son will pay the price in the end.”

      How great if it were that simple! I’m almost 4 months since my STBX finallly moved out after a year and a half of torture. She was on her fourth (that I know of) BF and living in our family home with me and our twins while we went through the legal divorce process.

      Now that she’s gone, I have the best my lawyer said I could hope for – equal joint custody. Our kids have been handling it very well but are now starting to ask questions. They haven’t asked the big one yet (because I’m sure they know and don’t want to hear the answer), but when they do I am going to tell them that mommy cheated to be honest with them. Can’t wait for the fallout from that! She’ll say I’m badmouthing her and going against what was taught in the parenting class (not true) that everyone divorcing in Maryland has to take. I still, after reading all of CL’s great posts and the great responses don’t know if telling them is the right thing to do for my kids.

      So I wish I could somehow not have our kids around her, but it just doesn’t work that way. They will be around her 1/2 the time and there is nothing I can do to change that.

  • What an ASS! He’s what they( shrinks) call “compartmentalizing.” You are the WIFE, not allowed to look sexy unless HE can USE your pussy. How dare you! The OW is his SECRET pussy. It’s vital to keep her behind the scenes, in order to keep it FUN and exciting!!! An easy erection filled with “OH BABY, your the BEST! ” Give him a NO!!!!!! And boot him to the curb. Your kids will figure him out in a few years when “super” DAD shows himself for what he really is an ASS!

  • Breathe, your husband wants to stay married to you and be “single”. Mine did the same shit. He’s told you who he is, now you have to act on it. It sucks he’s using the kids against you, I agree with CL you have to tell them the truth. Kids are stronger than you think, the uncertainty is more damaging than if you can tell them you are divorcing and there is no chance of that changing. They need some certainty, YOU need the same thing, make the decision and act on it and life will go on.

    Gather all the financial docs and go see a lawyer. Most states require a 6 month to 1 year separation before you can finalize a divorce. You are obviously still living together, if you have not done so, please! you have to sleep in separate rooms. Once you or he moves rooms in the house, have a friend come over and verify it, state clearly you are separated. This person will be deposed to prove you are separated down the road. Take no shared vacations, he can use that to prove you were acting as a wife. Do not sleep in the same bed, have sex or date him, this resets your clock. Have your friend come by every month to verify you are separated.

    I disagree with one thing said; do NOT contact his OW and let her know you are divorcing him. If you do that she will put pressure on him, you don’t want that. You want him happy and stress free regarding the OW. I know for a fact when I was divorcing my ex, he continued to lie to the OW and tell her he couldn’t leave me because I would be devastated. These assholes lie to everyone. Point is, you want him to keep in his mind that things will be great with OW while you engineer your escape. You want to create a stable home for your kids sooner rather than later.

    • I agree.do not contact the other woman.good advice.you have got to be much more secretive than they are.watch “Elementary” on TV. We have got to be like Sherlock Holmes or else it’s back to square one and start all over again how many months or years later.they are clever bastards.we must be much much more clever.don’t believe any thing they say or do.keep your eyes open and your ear to the ground.good luck!

  • I got that too. His idea was that we would vacation together, celebrate holidays together, he’d just get to sleep with someone else. “My fault” that I couldn’t get along with him.

    I told him that when he decided to rip the family apart, if he wanted to live on his own, then he was not going to get the benefit of family time with me. For better, for worse, was the vow I took, and he just wanted the better without any of the hard work.

  • Breathe, this really pissed me off on your behalf because I heard the same blaming crap from my ex “He did ask that I try not to be so sexy if I wasn’t going to sleep with him.”

    You know what that is? He’s saying you are the person that controls his sexuality, it’s up to you to not arouse him, and if you do he isn’t responsible. Fuck him. I know he’s trying to flatter you too, but it’s a very sick kind of flattery, a total mindfuck. You slut you, you better stop the sexy look, that is crap.

    What else is your fault? Oh yeah, the whole idea of divorcing is your fault because he’s totally fine with the way things are. Yeeeeeeeeeaaaaaaaaaahhhhhhh, right up until you go have sex with someone else, that’s when he wouldn’t be fine with a platonic marriage.

  • Kick Ass answer Chump Lady!!
    As for this asshole husband tell him “You’ll be all right once the swelling goes down!” That could be an answer for almost every sentence a a Chumper has.

  • I like the idea of contacting the OW– why don’t you tell her that you’re going to Hefty all of your WH’s crap and leave it on the front lawn for her? If she could be a dear and come pick it up because your WH is moving in with her, that would be great.

    Then, lawyer up, change the locks, move half of the money into your own personal account, and go NC. Tell the kids the truth without editorializing, and get them and you into counseling.

    It’s time to pull the rug out from under this fucker. Show him that you are done, and he is welcome to his new life with the OW while you get on with your fabulous one.

  • wonder if the OW isn’t totally on board with taking him…..? I’d text email or leave a VM to WO – just state 1) I’ve asked him to leave, he won’t. 2) He wants to sleep with me while he’s still sleeping with you. I’m done but thought you should know.

    Please come get him.

    • Marcie….that’s what I did. I called OW and told her that her ‘boyfriend’ was bugging me to have sex with him but I just hefty bagged all his shit to the curb so could she please come get him.
      You know what she said? “OH I WILL!!! But I don’t know where you live!’
      I gave her the address. She really couldn’t come get him right then because she had her elderly mother living with her and how would that look? Bringing home some guy with a pick up load of black hefties? She finally kicked her elderly mother to the curb and took him in.

      • ” She finally kicked her elderly mother to the curb and took him in.”

        WOW! Just…WOW! Choosing a married cheater over your mother? Yeah, that’s going to end well….NOT!

    • That’s what I think, Marcie. The OW likes him married.

      My ex liked dalliances with married women. It was safer. Oh, the bittersweetness of purloined love that can never be, because WE’RE MARRIED!

      Then he pulled that stunt on a baby hungry, status crazy 35 year old gold digger married to a sheriff’s deputy and she left her husband. Oops. The pressure he was under had him seriously considering suicide (I found out later — he never threatened me with it), for sure it drove his blood pressure sky high, and his behavior was really stand offish. Not like Breathe describes at all.

  • CL gets some “doozie” letters, but when I read this one the first thing that occurred to me was, “Somebody is yanking CL’s chain because nobody is as STOOOPID as this man sounds.”

    Assuming that this bizarro situation is fact, I have two suggestions for Breathe:

    Execute the divorce at warp speed, and use the husband’s behavior as a prime example for teaching your teenaged boys exactly how NOT to behave unless they want to permanently lose good women–and possibly assorted body parts!!

    I have heard it all now. A man who wants to openly be a “player” in his family home and appears to expect his wife to think it is a workable situation? (shaking head) He does not have just one screw loose nor does he want just a piece of cake. He is a three tiered cake constructed out of loose screws.

    • Hey, you can’t blame him for trying! It MIGHT have worked! And then he’d have absolutely everything he wanted; lots of cake from both sides, a nice-looking family life, no guilt and no fear of discovery!

      Disordered assholes. They’re all the same, and they really are wired differently from the rest of us.

    • notyou, my ex was this stupid. He didn’t put it to me quite so boldly, but that’s exactly the arrangement he wanted. Home life and all the pleasures of fucking around on the side. Long-term OW, who remained through three (maybe more) marriages.

      Can’t make this shit up. These people are freaks, but they’re not that uncommon. Cake is delicious.

      • My ex lived this life for over 2 decades. Side dishes every now and then with a cover-up of a lovely family. Now that’s gone and his legacy is a cheater who abandoned his lovely wife and child. At least my son and I got to keep the lovely part. 🙂

      • Tracy, it is how BOLD this dude is that gobsmacks me.

        To know that she knows…to have owned up to it…to have openly said in so many words that he would like to be having sex simultaneously with both women.. and to have appeared to expect her to cooperate as if such an arrangement were an acceptable (or even ordinary) thing still has my head shaking.

        At least when a chump has been tricked and lied to about things “hidden” there is room to understand why the chump might have stayed and tried to work it out…you know “reasonable doubt” and all that stuff. But openly.. knowing that the chump is is a believer in monogamy? Then trying to use the children as leverage? There is no other word to describe it but stupid. And any chump whose value system includes monogamy in marriage who participates is also behaving stupidly…. and self-destructively.

        Yanno I can understand codependency and have seen a lot of it; but then there is just plain self-obliteration..and I have a hard time wrapping my mind around self-obliteration.

        • When my ex left he emailed the next day saying “we’re not leaving each other’s lives. We’re still going to celebrate many good times together with our boys and their lovely ladies.” At the time this tore me apart because I was still reeling with the sudden abandonment and couldn’t make sense of him treating me like an acquaintance. He seemed to assume I felt as little for him as he did for me. I wanted so much for our family to be together again, but the thought of hanging out with him seemed extremely cruel to me. For awhile I thought it was my job to get over the divorce/betrayal as soon as possible so as to “keep our family together” but luckily my self-preservation instinct kicked in and demanded I not listen to his nonsense. I know a few families that went through a mutually decided upon divorce and continue celebrating special events together. I wish this was possible for my kids’ sake, but I will have to get to MEH first and I’m not sure how long that’s going to take. My counselor says when we have grandchildren we might be able to navigate a different kind of family relationship, but I’m not sure. I think without my ex making some kind of expression of regret for the horrible pain he caused it would be hard for me to be in the same room with him.

          • Lyn – I got the same “we can be friends…we can still do things together as a family” after my Ex left. Really? I actually did have him over for Christmas morning (and prepared a lovely family breakfast) and he brought gifts with him from the mistress for our two boys. The level of clueless they sink to is mind-boggling! Now, I am no contact except by text for financial issues, and a once a week email re: any scheduling/school issues. He is not allowed in my home, I do not speak to him at kid’s events other than a polite hello if he speaks first, and I have developed strategies for redirecting my thinking during the day if thoughts about him happen to cross my mind during my busy day of working full time + a part-time 2nd job and having full custody of two teenage boys. I cannot fathom spending any more time with him than I am forced to at this point. Why would any of us choose to waste our precious time that is best spent rebuilding our lives and helping our children cope with the mess they left behind with THEM? The people who so callously blew up our families for their own selfish, disordered desires?

            • Nicole
              I just had to say, “thank you” this is 99.9% the same as what I was asked to put up with. “Can we be friends crap…” Friends don’t lie, cheat, deceive like cheaters do. It set me back for a while as I thought maybe I was being unreasonable when I told exh – “NO we cannot be friends”
              But your post has helped me confirm I was okay to tell exh to stick it up his clacker.

            • Yup, this is exactly what my ex wanted too! He stalled and stalled on getting a place, was sleeping in the guest room (on the 2 nights a week he was home; this 2nd affair began while he was working out of town 4 days a week. I guess he figured he wouldn’t get caught!).

              He expected to go with the kids and I to my sister’s place for our traditional July long weekend (I reminded him that my brother-in-law, who didn’t like him BEFORE he screwed around, has guns!)

              Even after I found him a place and marched him over to sign a lease, he wanted to spend all day here every day, and just sleep over there. When I wouldn’t accept that, he wanted to keep coming over to ‘visit the kids’, rather than have them to his place, wanted to keep doing laundry here, having BBQs ….

              It just made it much clearer to me that
              a) what he wanted most was CAKE.
              b) he hadn’t actually thought, not for one second, what it would mean for him when he screwed around again and we divorced. (Never mind for me or his kids, but that pretty much goes without saying.)

              And when I wouldn’t accept all that, he wanted to BE FRIENDS.

              Sorry, I have way better taste in friends than that.

              • KarenE – My ex wanted to visit our boys at MY place all the time as well. He (poor baby) said he could not afford to get cable TV so watching movies, ballgames, etc. with them “would have to take place in my home.” Silly me (still in shock and still being a chump) allowed that for about 2 months, and then my backbone started to re-calcify and I realized that my stomach was in knots the entire time I had to share air space with him and that I was upset for hours after he would leave…and I said the magic word NO. It was empowering! Then, I started saying NO to other “let’s keep us all a happy family” requests such as dinners together and other such nonsense. My boys were old enough that I explained to them how hurtful it was for me to have to be around their dad, and that they could see him as much as they wanted but I would not be joining them (they are teens so they got it + I have full custody and see them 24/7 so it’s not as though I was giving up time with my children because I wanted to “punish” my ex). Looking back, I can’t believe I allowed him to manipulate me that way. It is so unbelievable that he would think that there would be ZERO consequences for his actions and decisions!? Cheaters truly do exist in an alternate reality where they think they can have all the warm and cozy benefits of a family when the moods strikes them while swinging from the rafters as a bachelor the rest of the time. We are all just pawns in their disgusting chess match…

            • Nicole, I can’t believe he brought gifts from the OW to give to your kids in front of you. So clueless, self-absorbed, completely devoid of empathy…

              • I agree. It was incredibly hurtful. I still haven’t figured out if he is just truly that clueless or if it was done deliberately to hurt me. In the end I guess it really doesn’t matter why…I just have to guard my heart and make sure it never happens again!

    • Yeah, I’m shaking my head as well and seething for you Breathe. I have read so many messed up stories and my own stbx’s actions were on another level of crazy (financing ow’s IVF treatments and posing as her husband while I was pregnant with our first son!!!) but man oh man, your husband’s outrageousness would make me rage. Using your son to manipulate you is beyond fucked up. Dude needs to be checked like yesterday not only for your sanity but in order to protect your children.

    • This is so much like my STBX. He thought he could convince me to take OW into our home as part of the family, and that we could have a threesome! Think how great it would be for the kids to have two moms to take care of them! Yes, he really said that. And, no, I have never given him any reason to think I would be interested in such a situation. His ego is just so swollen that he believed I would go along in order to keep him.

      We are separated now but living in the same house, and he thinks he should still have all the perks of marriage. After all, he figures I must have sexual desires, so I might as well fulfill them with him. Not!

      • “Think how great it would be for the kids to have two moms to take care of them!”

        That needs to move to near the top of Stupid Shit Cheaters say. Seriously? Did someone, when he was a baby, drop the human puddle of skunk shit that is your STBX on his head? What is with these people?

        • “human puddle of skunk shit” ROTFLMAO! Thanks for the new pet name for him Chump Princess.

          Actually, his family are nice, good people. Yet, I could fill a book with the stupid shit he has said to me. I was so brainwashed after so many years with him, that even though my gut told me he was so very wrong, I just couldn’t ever win an argument with him. He would just talk me in circles. It was crazy making.

  • Breathe,

    So is the STBX a wanna-be polyamorist? Talk about someone whose sense of entitlement is totally out of whack!

    He wants sex from you? Let me get this straight – he wants to use you to essentially cheat on the woman he cheated on you with? Einstein said “Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity; and I’m not sure about the universe.” It’s people like that your STBX that make me worried for our civilization.

    • This is what my ex tried, too. He made one serious attempt at reconciliation about 6 months after DDay – spoke to me on 4 different occasions, with a weekend away at the OW’s in the middle. Then another 8 months later, he took advantage that I was communicating with him a bit more often (kid issues) and invited me out on a date. I clarified that he was still with the OW. He wanted to cheat WITH me on the woman he cheated ON me with! That is SOOOOOOO SICK.

      And this all while trying to convince me that he had finally understood ‘everything’ and was a changed man, whose only goal in life was to make better the lives of all around him. I asked him how he reconciled that with decieving the OW to date me, and he said it would just have been too hard to break up with her before knowing for sure whether we’d get back together. And since she had known about the first serious reconciliation attempt, he ‘couldn’t do that to her again’.

      Uh huh. Lucky thing he keeps showing me who he is, makes resisting reconciliation SOOOOO easy!

  • Breathe, I agree with everything CL says, but just wanted to emphasize one thing that seems especially important to me;

    This asshole is USING his own children to try to manipulate you into doing what HE wants, to manipulate you into providing pretty much unlimited cake.

    He’s keeping things in limbo as long as possible – VERY bad for your kids. He’s trying to manipulate you using your kids’ well-being. And all this AFTER he trashed your children’s intact family.

    If you need any further proof that your STBX is a disordered asshole, it’s right there.

    Calm honesty w/your kids is what’s needed;
    – that their father has cheated and refuses to stop, so the marriage is definitively over.
    – outline the steps being taken to end the marriage, and what the kids can expect over the next few months.
    – that you will all be fine, you and the kids (no need to even mention the jerkface here), although it’s going to be a stressful period because of the changes involved.
    – that you don’t take vacations w/an ex-husband, and therefore there is nothing to discuss about this. The kids may go on vacation with him if they wish to do so, otherwise life will continue as usual for the time being.

    This man is so entitled and selfish, I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if they figure him out pretty well over the next couple of years, and reduce their involvement with him quite a bit (if he even goes to the trouble of maintaining his relationship with them).

    And if your son is looking fragile, get him a good therapist! It’ll help him a lot to have a neutral party to talk to.

  • Breath~I’m so sorry that you’re in this situation with such an asshat. It sounds like Splitting by Bill Eddy up above under CL’s Great Reads That Help might be a good book for you.

  • My XH was also looking for this sort of arrangement, the image of the perfect family man with all the amenities – sex, laundry, bills paid, dinner on the table – while ALSO having a side piece. Couldn’t understand why I had a problem with it.

    Idiot.

  • Breathe, you’ve been living a nightmare for 2 years. Time to wake up, get a lawyer (a very good one) and start the process immediately. No more excuses. Do this for yourself and your sons. The marriage is long over.

    My son was a young adult with the final OW (he doesn’t know about the others but I will tell him if he asks) and he appreciated my honesty. When my ex was flaunting the final OW before we even filed for divorce, my counselor advised me that my son needed to hear the truth from me. Not from friends, not from FB, but me. She said that right now, the only parent he trusts is me and if I don’t say the truth, I will lose that trust. It was the hardest conversation my son and I had but in the end, he was very grateful for my honestly. He said it would have been horrible had he heard it elsewhere. I gave facts and did not editorialize, in spite of feeling justified to do so.

    Yes, divorce stinks, no question. But living a lie, pretending you are a family is far worse. You and your children deserve to live an authentic life.

    • “But living a lie, pretending you are a family is far worse.”

      Truer words were never spoken. The last Christmas we had together where I had to pretend everything was fine was awful.

  • “Family vacations” are for . . . families. The miracle of divorce is that ends the family connection between you and the cheating as*hole.

    No family, no family vacation.

    And, no, we are NOT family just because we have kids together. Crappy Vince Vaughn movies to the contrary, sperm donors aren’t members of your family. And yes, I know that “Crappy Vince Vaughn movies” is redundant.

    • I would be very careful with your nomenclature, however. You and the kids (and uncles, aunts, cousins, G&G, are STILL A FAMILY.) Their father has chosen to step outside the family circle.
      I just don’t want my kids feeling like they don’t have a family, or they only have pieces. We still go on family vacations, but without their father. (Who the fuck knows or cares what their father does most of the time, but we still have family.) We have family dinners.

      • Absolutely, Miss Sunshine. Sloppy wording on my part. I have a family, which includes my kids (and now new wife and step child), and our family ROCKS.

        I should have said IT(my cheating ex-wife) is not part of MY family. So I don’t go on vacations with her. Still part of my kids family, of course and unfortunately. What they do on their time is between them. Not my job to mediate that relationship, even less my job to *participate* in it.

        • That’s awesome, nomar! You deserve to be happy. And I do not use the word “deserve” casually. You’ve really earned it.
          Hugs!

  • Please get this dysfunction out of your life. Sorry you plan for a caring, adult relationship didn’t work out (been there myself) and sorry there are kids involved, but you can’t go back, there are no do-overs, so just get as far away from this as is possible.

    • I agree with most everything g said about this situation . Just wanted to add that at least you are in a position to get custody of your children.
      Folks that bought into the stay at home spouse deal really get the shaft when these cheaters get the family court system at their disposal .
      Imagine what this shit is like when your cheating x gets custody and controls the story given to the kids.

      • That would suck, AND you have to pay for the privilege. Conversely, there are those SAHMs who get screwed when, 25 years in, and kinda late to the whole “just starting a career” plan, the abusive ex pulls the rug out and decides not to provide any financial support.
        You never know with that SAHM gig. Better to at least work part-time. Maybe better for everyone.

        • Exactly! The stay at home gig, while attractive because it is so much easier than working , is a bad idea from either side.

      • I agree that it can suck both ways. This is why the longer I’m on this site the more I believe that no fault divorce is crap. I sacrificed my career for my ex’s kids. And now I’m not even allowed to be in communication with them. My schedule was limited to fit better with taking care of them. If I had not done that I would have been much further along in my career and able to realistically support myself and my soon to be born kid. I also would not have had to abandon an area that I’d lived in for about 8 years to move back to a state I’m not a huge fan of. On top of that when figuring my imputed income for child support I will be put in at a wage that is almost twice what it is possible to earn here realistically. Don’t even start me on what it actually costs for infant daycare. Or what my ex actually makes in comparison. That’s why I’m going back to school. I NEVER want to be in the position again of not being able to support myself and my child.

        I guess my point is that us women get screwed too Arnold. I think it would be awful to have to pay a cheater alimony and child support. But I came out of my situation being horribly used financially. Between my stepkids and their bio mom, I was the only who actually worked to support them. My ex never once payed for anything of mine. Nor has he contributed to a single thing in my pregnancy during which I’ve been unemployed because complications have left me unable to work. (BTW, we were married and this was a planned baby.) Realistically I’m looking at a good chunk of time before I can be employed in a way where the ledger balances out and I no longer have to be on public assistance.

  • CL-
    As always, your advice is spot-on! With one seemingly small exception – but in reality not so small.

    Your next-to-last line, “Tell him you will be platonically calling your lawyer and platonically filing an order of support and platonically throwing his ass out.”

    My HARD-EARNED advice is DON’T GIVE THE ASSHOLE THE BENEFIT OF A WARNING! Just lawyer up on the down-low and file those papers quickly and silently. He’ll find out soon enough. This advice is given primarily for you to avoid having him file first and then you’re left as the defendant – which is a much more difficult legal process for you. I made the mistake of giving my ex a warning and by the grace of God, my filing was entered one hour before the ex’s. And, he was asking for FULL CUSTODY! (the SOB!) just to stick it to me for divorcing him.

    And really, since your lovely husband apparently thinks that he can sneak around and do what makes him happy without your consent or knowledge, why not offer him the same courtesy of keeping him in the dark as you move forward with your decisions about your life?

    And, your children will thank you for not playing games with the truth. Eventually, when they’re a little older, they will figure it all out anyway. They’ll respect that you not only enforced strong boundaries and upheld your self respect, but that they didn’t get caught up in the disordered mindfuckery games of their father.

    • I agree do not forewarn him. But , on the issue of filing first giving some type of advantage, I have a hard time believing that it does.
      I do not practice family law, fortunately, but how could simply filing first lead to an advantage?

      • I was told that if the ex’s filing had hit the clerk’s office first, then the divorce case would have been entered with his request for full custody and it would have been tried/heard that way. I basically would have been put in a position to prove my fitness as a co-parent and the process would have been very different than it was. Since I was asking for joint custody, my attorney requested that aspect of the divorce to be handled with a mediator who specialized in custody mediation and was well-respected by the judge assigned to our case. For a full-custody hearing, this would not have been possible.

        My ex still showed up trying to make himself out to be the better parent and was quickly put back in his place by the mediator, who was successful in making my ex understand that the mediation was going to only consider the best interests of the children, not helping the ex carry out a vendetta against me.

        I remember my lawyer telling me how fortunate it was that my papers made it to the clerk first! Maybe all states are not like mine – I’m in Illinois.

        • Great advice, and well done! All you’re trying to do is be fair, after all.
          My lawyer also told me it’s better to be the one to file first. Then, the other party is in the position of reacting to what you propose. Plus, you start the timeline of court when you are ready, and have all your documents such as financials all prepared. I was in Utah. BTW, one of 4 or 5 states left where you can sue OW/OM for Alienation Of Affection! I didn’t, cause I don’t want to give her an ounce of my energy, but it was fun to tell X, the fear on his face was priceless!

      • Arnold, while there are some interesting comments about the advantage of filing first, the lawyer I’m thinking of retaining has a very informative website that indicates there’s no strategic advantage. I think there may be psychological advantages, though. If you can get a settlement before the other person’s had a chance to process, that’s definitely worth something!

  • I think you should go on the vacation.

    If it were me I would definitely go because my children would feel safer more emotionally secure with me there with them.

    The guy is unable to emotionally attend to their needs because he is too self centred & self absorbed.

    If you aren’t there he may try to bond with them in an adolescent manner by forming a childlike conspiracy around issues regarding your authority as their mother undermining you/turning them against you.

    He has demonstrated that he is a man with little empathy guilt or remorse his involvement in their life should be minimal because he is untrustworthy.

    I would not want them to be alone with them.

    • I respectfully disagree, Janey. If she goes forward with this divorce, he will likely be awarded some kind of shared custody of these children unless the COURT decides he is unfit and/or a danger. And when he does, she will not be able to control or orchestrate what happens when they are with him. Trying to control all outcomes is an exercise in futility. All she can do is teach and model her values to and for her children, provide a home that is loving, stable, drama-free, and has appropriate limits and boundaries for children to follow. After that, what they absorb while with their father is OUT OF HER CONTROL. These are not extremely young and helpless children. At some point in time they are going to be forced to problem solve on their own. All she can do is give them the tools and hope for the best. Going on that vacation would further reinforce his pattern of manipulation …that she is in essence a still a chump.

      • I agree. Folks need to realize they have no control over the other parent and just do their best during the time they have with the kids.

        • Absolutely agree, and going on the vacation in order to try to control what happens there is going to be crazy-making for ALL, mostly the kids.

          These are not toddlers, the ex doesn’t seem to be a threat to the kids’ physical well-being. (My young teens know never to get in the car if their dad has been drinking, and they know NEVER to get on their grandfather’s sailboat. And we’ve discussed exactly how to turn down those options. But both are now irrelevant, see below.) They WILL figure out what their father is like, especially if mom gives them the minimum required info about why the separation occurred, and doesn’t do any spackling of the ex’s behaviour.

          I didn’t tell my kids (11 and 12 at the time of the separation) about their dad’s cheating, or emphasize his selfish entitlement. Less than a year and a half they have figured it ALL out, and had recognized the selfishness and entitlement behind how he was treating them post-separation. They no longer see him, except for one lunch or dinner out once a month.

          (BTW, our daughter, the one who figured out about the cheating, was FURIOUS at me for not having been honest with her about the catalyst for the separation. She felt that, not having that info, she credited her father with a lot more good will and invested more in that relationship than she should have. And she’s right.)

      • They are adolescent boys with an emotionally abusive father they are developmentally very vulnerable because they are absorbing a male role model who is highly dysfunctional and unable to help them develop into healthy well adjusted men.
        I would not want him to alone on a vacation with my children and its counterproductive to challenge him and get into conflict because he is so totally preoccupied with his own needs.
        It might make you feel better temporarily to get righteously adversarial but it will not help the children because he wont get it he’s too disordered.

        If it were me in this situation I would focus on damage limitation to my children.

        • I get where you are coming from, Janey, and I really appreciate how you articulated one of my absolute worst fears, so succinctly: “….he may try to bond with them in an adolescent manner by forming a childlike conspiracy around issues regarding your authority as their mother undermining you/turning them against you.” My ex did this regularly when we were still married. When I would speak to my sons, such as when I would lecture them about needing to pitch in and help around the house, the asshat would make “yak-yak” motions with his hand behind my back to get a laugh from them. He would NEVER, and I mean NEVER bring himself to say that I was a good mother, and this was very intentionally hurtful. He would complain to his mother about what a bad mother I was. And you know what? I’m a really GOOD mom–ask anyone who knows my kids and me. I now know it was all part of his cowardice, and it no longer bothers me–I have a great relationship with my sons, who are all doing well in life.

          Back to your point–I think the kids might be worse off if the mother goes on vacation with the STBX. The tension will be so thick they will be able to cut it with a knife. Everyone will be miserable, and the kids will associate that misery with their mother’s unhappiness. I advocate letting them go with their father, and then welcoming them back home to a calm environment upon their return, with maintenance of rules and responsibilities. There is a chance that they will enjoy the trip, and appreciate the time spent with their father, without unnecessary marital tension. There is the possibility that the OW will invade their space, either in person or via social media/texting/telephoning, and the kids will see what a destructive relationship that is. Mom can’t control everything and shouldn’t try. She can only be a good example and resource for her kids. So, I appreciate your concern and point of view, but I wouldn’t risk damaging the kids further with a vacation spoiled by bickering, crying, yelling, stone-faced tension. That’s not fair to do to them.

  • Had to laugh at the Harem reference!
    I told kooky X more than once- I’m officially resigning as #1 Wife in the ‘Harem’, she can have my spot! Yes, these guys (and girls too) really do blatantly collect partners while married. Mine tried really hard to make me go along with that, thank Goddess I woke up and left, to live life the way I want!

    • My cheater had me pegged as the “vanilla” wife in the harem. He had a dominatrix/submissive switch, and a new sparkly OW that had a lot of public cache due to the notoriety of a relative. Plus he seemed to be experimenting with homosexual-toned classified ads on CraigsList as well as trying to be a sugardaddy for someone on another web-site. When I confronted him about all this, he cried “I want to stay married BUT I AM NOT GIVING UP MY FETISHES!” Wish I had a recording of that declaration! Because, for them, it really is about how far they can push the envelope on your marital relationship. And for friends and relatives and other outsiders, who don’t know the back story, it is easy to appear the “woman scorned” when you go NC and establish boundaries. Better for all to get the word out and control as much as the narrative as able…particularly when there are children involved.

      • I want to stay married, BUT I DON’T GIVE A FUCK ABOUT YOU! (Now, go make me a sandwich.)

        Fuck ’em.

        Cheaters are deluuuuuuuuuuuusional.

      • Oh my god! SeeTheLight…we were married to the same person!!!!!! After I left, my ex delighted in telling a bunch of ladies in our friend group about how even if I wanted to work things out (not in a million years!) that he couldn’t do it because I wasn’t kinky enough for him and wouldn’t give in to his whims even though I KNEW what he was when we got into our relationship. Of course these stupid women lap it up because they think they can be the one to meet his needs. Never mind that it’s a no win game because he’s not ever interested in a two way relationship or that he’s rewriting history as far as what our actual relationship was about.

        1. We agreed to be monogamous.
        2.Sexuality within a relationship is give and take. I didn’t realize when I entered the relationship that there was an unspoken agreement that I would give in to his every whim and that if I didn’t it would be grounds for the cancellation of our actual spoken agreement above.
        3. Experimentation within a relationship usually needs trust and intimacy. At some point it became quite clear that he wasn’t interested in earning my trust, just assumed that I should give it. Even my vanilla self knows that if you’re going to pull some dom/sub stuff within the community you have to actually negotiate and pay attention to the person’s boundaries.
        4. I repeatedly asked the bastard if he wanted to do (whatever kinky thing ) it was he was into. He kept telling me no. Because the truth is that no matter what I did it wouldn’t have changed who he is, a cheater.

        The part where your ex said he wouldn’t give up his kinks just makes me shake my head. It is true, they want the married committed respectable life from YOU, but they don’t want to have to adhere to it on their side and somehow it’s YOUR fault.

        • Kat- I felt my relationship with my cheater acknowledged those same four points (pre-infidelity at least.) I was always open and playful. By walling me off, it revealed to me how he dealt with his own inadequacies. The people who were “servicing” his kinks really “got” him and his “special-ness.” Of course the money he paid to act out had nothing to do with it. Unbeknownst to me, I couldn’t partake. I was put into his vanilla compartment – what a delusional justification for his actions.
          And, how horrifying when even a child has to negotiate around that sense of entitlement and maybe end up modeling it, because the betrayed spouse/mother gets caught in the chess game of parenting with a disordered person.

  • I think it’s fair to also tell your kids that you tried to do therapy for two years, but your husband wouldn’t give up his girlfriend.

    Also if you’re worried about your kids, you can get a therapist to help you talk to them or a therapist for them.

  • So when you go to the lawyer, ask about how things like where he lives, reconciliation, and having sex play out in terms if money. Just in case.

    • I think a lot of the things we hear shout divorce and the advantage of filing first could not be true. The mere timing of the filing could not impact the merits of each party’s position. That seems absurd.
      As many betrayed men can attest, filing first got them no advantage In Terms of custody or having to pay alimony.
      In my case, I filed. My lawyer told me I had no shot at 50/50 custody as my XW was home with the kids.
      Seems that working one’s ass off to pay the bills is not nearly as caregiving as lounging around tanning and shopping for bikinis.

        • I agree. I just can’t figure out what would be better. Proving fault is difficult, and getting more so (and more expensive). Fault makes the stakes high, and I think increases risk of harm to the faithful spouse, since the cheater has everything to lose.

        • I think the key to being more fair in custody would be to
          Make it a rebuttable presumption that 50/50 is fairest and best. And, courts need to recognize that working parents are every bit as much a primary caregiver as a stay at home parent.

      • I do feel for you Arnold. I’m beginning to think lawyers make broad generalizations without looking at individual cases. In some states 50/50 custody is the assumed normal as far as the books go. It doesn’t meant that’s how it gets awarded though. One lawyer I consulted told me that one spouse’s lawyer’s fees almost never get paid by the other spouse but wanted me to ask for alimony. (My ex totally paid for every bit of his ex’s lawyer fees.) The other lawyer said that it wasn’t possible for a judge to enforce alimony over state lines so there was no point in asking. Both were very highly recommended lawyers. The whole system is effed. None of it is fair or logical and I think a good deal of the time it doesn’t serve the children. It’s almost set out to be a no win situation for all. In fact interacting with the court system is like interacting with someone with a severe Personality Disorder. Marriage is the only contract where the assumption is that it’s normal to get screwed severely when that contract is broken. And most definitely not to take away from decent dads who deserve 50/50 custody or full custody but it blows my mind that someone can be a shitty person, addict, or absent parent for 10 years of a kids life, not pay child support and then show up and the court gives them visitation rights because it’s always assumed that the kid is better off with their dad in their life. I knew someone this happened to. Really? I’m sure it’s the same b.s. when a mom shows up out of nowhere too. Sorry, there’s my caffeine induced 2 cents.

        • I hate going to court. It blows. I cannot wait until I can get the fuck out of this career. You are fighting all the fucking time.

  • “He forwarded a text from our son asking if we could all go skiing as a family when daddy gets back on Sunday. He tells me ‘not to do this to our son. Son is so fragile now.'”

    This could just be speculation, but my guess is that wasn’t a serious offer from the STXH. He extended you an invitation that he knew you’d say no too, perhaps so he’d have an excuse to introduce the boys to OW, who was probably his intended skiing vacation partner all along.

    When you get pissed off, he gets to say: “Hey! We invited you! Son even asked me to ask you! Remember the text? It’s not my fault you’re such a bad Mom! I had no choice but to invite OW!”

    There is seemingly no end to the depths of manipulative depravity with these cheaters.

    • Absolutely, and that’s why we need to be very clear with our kids about our limit-setting and why it’s occurring. Older kids can gradually figure out who’s selfish and manipulating, and who has their best interests at heart.

  • Older children are in many ways as vulnerable as younger children.

    The father is probably being selfishly manipulative by referring to the fragility of the youngest child but at the same time there is some truth to his statement.

    The youngest son wants his mother with him on the vacation and possibly he is trying to communicate that he (emotionally) needs his mothers presence.

    When we are preoccupied with a sense of grievance its very easy to overlook the bigger picture.

    • The youngest son may want his mother along on the vacation, but that is not how divorced family’s work. Most often when kids make this kind of request it’s because they either want to continue a fantasy that everything will be OK and everyone will stay together, or they want to have the emotional security of having both there, despite knowing the marriage is over. NOT REALISTIC in either case, and it’s not helping the child deal with their frustrated wishes, their fears, grief etc by going along with those kinds of requests.

      The reality is the marriage is over and that form of family is over. There will be new forms, and this child is old enough to benefit from emotional support to deal with that, and therapy if that’s not enough. Letting them ‘postpone reality’ and leaving the actual situation ambiguous is not a healthy way to do that.

      Parents can make this easier, by things like not asking the child to be away from their other parent for long periods, facilitating communication with the other parent while away, and accommodating children’s wishes not to go on vacation at all at the moment. Unfortunately, a disordered parent is not usually interested in these accommodations.

  • Like CL says, try to avoid figuring out the skein of fuckedupness and let your intuition about what is best for your children without throwing yourself into the midst of more mindfuckery. One thing that was so abusive about my experience (and probably everyone else’s) is how the lies, gaslighting, etc makes you question your inner guide and weaken your trust in yourself & your own decisions. This is by design by the cheater. The more “off your game” you are, the more vulnerable you are to his plans to throw you off your center, your strength so you will be confused and weakened by this strategy. Just remember, it is a strategy!
    The hardest thing for me was realizing I couldn’t trust him at all and that he would cover his ass & reduce all he was doing to me, and continue lying to protect himself from paying the whole price for his actions. And use the children as pawns in the mindfuckery games. Tell him you know what he is doing!! Take your power back!

      • Arnold,
        “If their lips are moving, they are lying” – what a perfect statement!
        I recently was left a three minute voice mail that contained probably over forty lies!

  • Just read this, been away from computer lately. My ex also suggested a trip together, saying he was thinking, and did I want to organise a trip together?

    So not only going away, but me organising it.

    Can’t make this stuff up.

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