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Dear Chump Lady, Son wants me to be friends with my ex

Dear Chump Lady,

Looking for words of wisdom from you and Chump Nation about my relationship with my son. I split custody 50-50 with ex. It was my choice — he’s not a bad Dad despite his long history of serial cheating on his partners. (I didn’t know when I married him). Son is 10. We’ve been divorced nearly a year and I left 2-1/2 years ago, following 9 months of fake reconciliation following the first of many rapid-fire D-Days. My son knows I left because his Dad broke a promise not to have girlfriends. For the first year or so, I was the preferred parent. Dad was angry and sad, while my life with son went on as normal — the two of us were busy doing fun things every weekend he was with me because that’s what we always did.

But now Dad is on to a new life with a new, younger live-in girl (the same girl I didn’t tell about what I found on Everything is happy, happy, happy and life’s easy and good over there — nightly dinner as a family, parties, friends, etc. While I’m happy and much more content now, the vibe at my house is more quiet. I’m lucky to get an edible meal on the table. I’m don’t have a live-in boyfriend and I am more of a quiet, night-in kind of girl. I still do lots of fun stuff with my son and his friends (and often their moms), but I’m still recovering from 12 years of non-stop lies. I wouldn’t say I’m bitter, but I’m digging deep and doing a lot of work on myself, which is emotionally taxing, but right.

Back to my son…he is extremely bothered that his Dad and I are not friends. We’re as NC as possible, but even child care arrangements are fraught with pokes and jabs from him. I’m proud of how I don’t bite anymore, but it hurts. His Dad is wily — he saves his venom for email. I let jabs at ex slip from time to time (not daily, but probably once a week). My son reacts strongly when I do this. I know it’s wrong and I feel such shame (my hallmark) after a slip. Sometimes, I’m compelled to explain myself to my son, which just makes it worse (God, I’m a chump). Anyway, I’ve told my son that I can’t be friends with his Dad because he hurt me. I tell him that I don’t hate his Dad, or wish him ill. I just can’t be friends with him. Just like I wouldn’t expect him to be friends with someone who was unkind to him.

While I know that I’m Mom and no one can take that away from us, I’ve had two counselors tell me that — in their teen years especially — kids get sick of shuttling back and forth between houses and they usually choose one; especially for boys, it’s the house with less drama. Although I’m not a big “drama” person, my son blames me that his Dad and I aren’t friends. Has anyone seen this scenario play out? I know I’m not unique in this.


Dear SummerGirl,

I blame Gwyneth Paltrow. Perhaps you didn’t see the news that the celebrity, carb-eschewing waif who brought us “GOOP” is divorcing her rock star husband. Oh hang on, “divorce” is such a common word. No, sorry, she’s “consciously uncoupling.” It’s like divorce only smugger, without the gluten.

See, unlike the divorces that you lowly, unenlightened people have, Gwyenth’s divorce is evolved and “conscious.” Utterly devoid of baser emotions like anger, grief, and spite.

From her statement:

“…while we love each other very much we will remain separate. We are, however, and always will be a family, and in many ways we are closer than we have ever been. We are parents first and foremost, to two incredibly wonderful children…”

This is divorce the way fabulous people do divorce. In this sort of aspirational non-relationship relationship, you’re still a family! Closer than you’ve ever been before! … but just living separately. Because nothing makes people closer than living apart, right? And the important thing here, that binds Gwyneth in ever-lasting love to her consciously uncoupled husband is their children. No, sorry, their “incredibly wonderful” children. (Your children may be simply wonderful or perhaps incredible, but they are not incredibly wonderful children like Gwyneth’s children.)

This crap is part of our zeitgeist. That any of life’s unpleasantness can be sanitized and rebranded. That imagery trumps reality. Divorce means your family breaks up, but in  Orwellian Gwyneth-speak, no divorce means you’re still family! Just without all the real world shit like sharing a life together.

GAH! Gwyneth! Words have MEANING! (And food has pleasure and substance, but that’s another Gwyneth rant.) Divorce HURTS LIKE A MOTHERFUCKER. People don’t couple and uncouple like trains, willy nilly, for no reason other than… huh, I’ve always wanted to go to Chicago. No! They uncouple FOR A REASON! Painful reasons! We separate NOT because we want to be “closer than ever before” but because we WANT TO GET THE HELL AWAY FROM THE PERSON WHO IS HURTING US!

SummerGirl, it is totally healthy and authentic of you to reject friendship with your cheating ex. Tell your 10 year old that friendship has MEANING. You give the best parts of yourself to the people who deserve you, who have your back. And that once betrayed, you can never be friends with someone again because you can never feel safe with that person. Friendship implies intimacy, connection, and shared values. You do not have that with his father.

Polite acquaintance? Yes, that you can aspire to. Not taking jabs at him in front of the boy? Yes, you can (and should) refrain from that. But be very clear with your son that you are divorced for a reason. It’s wrong to pretend to be friends with people we’re not really friends with — that kind of superficiality is confusing and painful. You never want to mistake an acquaintance for a friend. And as he grows up, he should understand the difference between real connection and a veneer of social pleasantry.

Ten year olds want all sorts of impossible things, unlimited video games, a year of snow days, cookies for dinner — and your job as Responsible Adult is to impose life’s realities. Homework before video games. Go to school, don’t stay in bed. Eat your vegetables, and dessert later. Son wants you to be friends with dad — the answer is, no, we’re not family. But you can be his family.

As he gets older, yes, unfortunately, he might gravitate to the fun, party house because there won’t be rules and limitations. I hope that doesn’t happen, but it might. And if that happens, then you realize he gets a front row seat to his father’s serial cheating crazy. My guess is the drama won’t look so appealing after awhile.

All you can do is stay the course on this responsible adult thing. And work hard on “meh” with the ex. My guess is what your son really wants is not friendship so much as to not hear the jabs about his dad. Tell us, not him. Your son doesn’t get it yet. He wants to retain his good opinion of his father, and that’s his right. Sadly, he’ll probably figure out his dad is a schmuck  in time, but that’s HIS journey, not yours.

It’s totally not fair that your ex tries to goad you and insult you. But realize that’s just what those people do —  it’s kibbles. Every reaction, every time he gets your goat, is kibbles. So stop giving him that centrality.

When your son “blames” you for not being your ex’s friend — don’t get defensive. Say, as straightforwardly as you can, “That’s right, we’re not friends. We’re divorced because your father cheated on me. Life has deal breakers, son.”

Do not minimize the experience of infidelity. Don’t build a shrine to your grievances either, remember the goal is “meh.” But live through example — actions have consequences. Cheating is a deal breaker. Families break up. It’s painful to enforce our boundaries, but necessary for our mental health. He’s not going to get that lesson from Dad… or Gwyneth Paltrow.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • It is a hard one and a difficult line to treat. CL’s advice is spot on but not always easy to achieve.
    Fortunately, my two children were too tiny to understand anything about the break up when it happened. I was able to seethe with rage & spit fury at him without them really knowing about it.
    However, I always vowed that I would let them make their own minds up about their Dad. I have never bad mouthed him to them or let anyone else do that either (in front of me at least). They are 12 & 14 now & have worked out for themselves all his damning qualities!
    As they have grown older & have been more curious about why we are no longer together, I have been honest in an age appropriate way. I have explained the he fell in love with someone else & broke our marriage vows. I said these were really important to me and I couldn’t trust him anymore, so we got divorced.
    I am always courteous to ex-H in front of the children, as I am to the OW, who is now his wife. However, I think the children are very clear that we are not friends.
    SummerGirl, your son will work it all out – I promise. Kids have good bull-shit detectors & whilst it is all sunny in your ex-H’s garden at the moment – we all know that won’t last forever.
    As for Gwyneth & Chris and their conscious uncoupling – well the media in the UK are having a fair bit of fun asking exactly what that means! Apparently, there is something written by Gwynie’s spiritual advisers Dr Habib Sadeghi and Dr Sherry Sami called On Conscious Uncoupling and it says: “Although it looks like everything is coming apart; it’s actually all coming back together.” Hmmmm, that all smells of stuff from the farmyard to me – but what do I know? 😉

    • The entire internet is laughing at Goop and she brings it on herself. I feel badly for anyone getting divorced but she’s making it mighty difficult with her pretentious bullshit.

      • Eh, a cupcake might cause Gwyneth’s system to go into shock.

        Maybe we can get a round of virtual cupcakes for everyone on the site (still prefer the real ones though)

        Wait, didn’t Gwyneth cheat on her husband with a billionaire? Now I don’t really like Coldplay, but it would still be sad if he’s a chump now too, I guess. Of course, it’s Hollywood, things are quite different there.

    • HAHAHAHA -loved that line! How awfully smug these people are. They don’t appear quite human…but that’s the point, right?

      • That was my favourite line too!

        While I want to vomit and then overindulge in glutinous food (oh, a poutine!), if celebrities want to hit extremes during divorce, I prefer her kind over the ones where they have to drag the other person through the mud and use kids as bait.

        • I think they’re both equally damaging. What’s ridiculous about Paltrow is this whole my shit doesn’t stink, divorce isn’t painful, it makes people closer! nonsense. It’s like she sees “enlightenment” as a competitive sport. I’m Above Such Baser Emotions.

          You make people crazy when you deny someone’s reality. I’m sure her children find the break up of their parents to be very painful. What she’s saying about being family and even closer than before, is at best confusing, and at worst a total mindfuck.

          • I think this is a really important point. It has HUGE value to kids to have at least the barest outlines of not only truth, but affirming their common sense and perception. They know when things are bed.

            I just had an email from a friend whose father chumped her mother some 45 years ago–the affairage failed, and he remarried for a third time. Totally alienated his kids at chump point #1. My friend spent decades in therapy on “dad issues”. But here’s the point: even as an 11 year old, she knew some child-version of what happened, and although it took her decades to be able to confront her father and talk it through, neither parent mindfucked with her. She was actually able to create some kind of relationship with her father in his elderly years, which was comforting to *her*.

            If her folks had pretended that their very painful split was really making everybody closer (and, up is down, East is West, and shit is chocolate), it would have made her journey that much harder. And it was hard enough, and has lasted a lifetime, thanks to her narc father.

          • Well, apparently Goop has a Mindfuck Guru in one Katherine Woodward Thomas who pretty much is the person out there publishing and publicizing stuff with this “Conscious Uncoupling” nonsense in it.

            I found this on the net:

            This occurs when something shocking happens, like the person stole $30,000 from you, was having multiple affairs, or had another family elsewhere.

            When traumas happen, one mechanism of the psyche is to try to integrate the shock. To do this, we’ll tell and retell the story about what just happened. Yet, unfortunately, we’ll usually do this from a victimized perspective. The problem with repeatedly telling the story from this perspective is that we will not graduate from the role we ourselves played in the dynamic.

            Yep, you got that right: “the role you played” in getting ripped off for 30 grand or your spouse having affairs or a secret other family.

            I swear… no matter what “lifestyple” nook you look into there are charlatans out there promoting this idea of “it always takes two” (or more).

            • and BTW, I did look for anything like “spackling over” and such for redeeming value in this new agey nonsense, and I couldn’t find it.

              I found a lot of nebulous stuff about ” the original heartbreak that lead you to choose your current partner” and so on. Nothing easier to nail down than Jello.

            • My STBX W did have multiple affairs (some at the same time) and stole $30,000 in the form of credit card debt…I played zero role in her being a complete narcissistic fuckwit other than being a great babysitter so she could embark on her escapades…Kathryn Woodward Thomas needs to take her head out of her ass!

              • Pretty much same with me Cletus, my ex had multiple long-term affairs, porn “addiction,” and all other sorts of perversities (my made-up word), under my and our kids’ noses (must’ve been fun for him and his AP’s, such droll excitement!). On the way, he stole our kids’ college funds, the money I had put away for annual real estate taxes, and re-routed our tax return to himself as a parting gift. Oh and 2 weeks before D-Day I had paid off $20,000 of his credit card debt (which I later learned he incurred buying gifts for his AP’s and paying for other creepy things I did not know at the time even existed).

                I played no role in that. I don’t know how anyone else defines “victim,” but hell yes I WAS a victim. (Online dictionary definition reads: a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action). He could’ve just as easily been a stranger who came up to me with a gun and demanded all my money… as well as the best years of my life….but hey, that would actually be kinder.

                The Kathryn Woodward Thomases of the world are abject fools.

          • Somewhere in Gwen nie’s perfect divorced family is an extra dick. Maybe even a bag of dicks, that she can poach and serve with a kale salad. Eat a bag of dicks, Gwen.

    • Loved that line, too!

      Chump Lady, I wish you and Tina Fey would get together and write a movie – we’d all die laughing!

  • Agree with CL!

    And this “conscious uncoupling” has given me something to laugh about today. Freaking-unbelievable that Gwyneth can’t use the “D” word. Talk about denial.

    To Summergirl, my STBX suddenly left me for a younger woman kind he had met on Reddit and basically dumped me as soon as he met her in real life like I was yesterday’s trash. I have a polite relationship with him in that I treat him as if he were a complete stranger. We are no longer a family and I have told my 2 kids (10 & 9 yrs old) that lying, abandonment, cheating are NOT okay ever.

    So please stay strong and be the great mom you seem to be. It’s very hard, I’m there myself. I just wanted to let you know you’re not alone and to stay strong!! You’re doing the right things.

  • Summergirl, you say he uses email to make the nasty remarks to you and you have not reached the point where you can laugh at them so… Lay down a boundary with him that email needs to be just about your shared responsibilities and nothing more. Tell ex you will not respond to emails that include nasty/off topic remarks. If you are saying bad things about ex after reading emails then it might also help if you have a friend who would be willing to filter email from your ex for you for a while.

    OTH, learning to ignore the jabs, in fact recognizing they are bullshit and that you do not care what the ex has to say is key. He wants a reaction, he likes making you look like the bad guy. Gift of Fear tells us to that if someone is trying to get a response from you and you ignore them 100 times, then you react to the 101st try – you just taught the person that you WILL give them the attention they want.

    My whole life I have never cared what a person thought of me unless I RESPECT that person. I can’t imagine you have any respect for your ex left, remember he’s an asshole – his opinions are worthless. AND, you take all the fun out of it for him if you remain calm and answer every one of them with the same neutral phrase. Pick one. I don’t know what kind of nasty he says to you but you could try: “That’s nice” or “Your opinion is duly noted” in a calm voice. If you have to finish the conversation (like when to pick up son) return directly to the matter at hand, otherwise you turn away. It is the bad reaction your ex wants from you, his point is to make you look like the asshole. So frustrate the hell out of him by refusing to play the game.

    • When my STBX takes jabs at me – I just agree with him. It’s just words, & nothing takes the wind out of someone’s sails like refusing to engage. His newest meme is that I need to get over my “anger & rage”. His examples of that are so ridiculous I just say, “ok”, & walk away. What’s he going to do? Follow me & ask why I agreed with him? If he texts me with one sided demands, I reply, “you have a point”. Doesn’t mean I agree with him, or am going to change, but it diffuses the situation & doesn’t feed the “isn’t my ex a bitch” fire. Then, if needed, you have the proof of his unreasonable-ness & your calm response to show a judge.

      • When I was “consciously uncoupling” from my ex, and I was getting the crazy texts and such, I would do my best to reply with totally ambiguous replies that could mean anything:

        “That’s really something.”
        “Yes, I see.”
        “Hmm, really.”

      • What is up with the accusations of anger and rage? I get those two and I haven’t been angry or upset over him in a very, very long time. He, in the other hand, remains very angry. Projection, I know, but it’s weird that so many do this.

    • The Al anon response is:

      ‘you might be right’.

      Basically, never engage with crazy because it [makes your life unmanageable] drives you crazy.

    • I just heard about this concept, seems relevant here: there are websites that divorced parents can communicate through like email. I think some are monitored. Knowing that a third party is keeping an eye on the conversation keeps people a bit more civil and to the point, I think.

  • My now 16 yr old figured out the BS pretty fast and who and what his dad really is. He has chosen to live with me full time and although we technically have shared custody, in reality we don’t and at this point we’re all happier that way. Son has stability and a family and home and ex has the freedom to go to Vegas every weekend with his live-in girlfriend (was OW).

    I am normally able to be quite civil to the ex, but I do slip up once in a while when I extremely mad at my ex for hurting my son – but I’m getting better at that too – I keep reminding myself it’s his journey with his dad and I cannot interfere, I can only be there to support when the tears flow.

    Good luck SummerGirl – vent to a girlfriend or your family – or write it down in a journal all the nasty things you think about your ex when he does something stupid or bad – and try to get to civil, which will help both you and your son out.

  • Summergirl, I thought Patricia Evans had useful advice in her book on verbal abuse: she suggested that just trying to be strong and not respond emotionally is not really a viable strategy. Although we eventually reach meh, trying to do so by willing yourself not to feel is not how you get there. You will just tie yourself up in knots. Here is where No Contact comes in: once you have time away to heal, these barbs will lose their power to get under your (strong) skin.

    So, Datdamwuf is right: you need to stop reading his emails. Ask a trusted friend/relative to screen for you. Set up an automatic “forward & delete”, so you can’t even see the messages, and have the friend email you only info that needs a response. (For example, if an email says “RANT GASLIGHT CROCODILE TEARS what time is visitation? SOB SOB SOB NASTY DIG”, your friend just says, “Ex asked what time to pick up son.” And you can send a one-line answer to that.)

    This will protect you from all the barbs while you heal, AND it will cut off his kibble supply (without any actual effort on your part).

    And amen to having the conversation with son (as many times as needed) about what friendship means and how it is distinct from civility. *That* is an extraordinarily valuable life lesson for him to learn.

    • BTW, don’t even tell ex you are doing this. There’s no point in announcing boundaries at this point; just set & enforce them entirely on your own.

      • Although we eventually reach meh, trying to do so by willing yourself not to feel is not how you get there.~ Brilliant

        BTW, don’t even tell ex you are doing this. There’s no point in announcing boundaries at this point; just set & enforce them entirely on your own.~and Brilliant

        Thanks for sharing Psyche. I love it when someone points out something on this site that just makes sense and is totally relevant for me in the moment.

    • Good advice to have the emails go to a separate folder, or simply not read them alone.

      Or try one of those online calendars for scheduling.

      Thing is, if a disordered person wants to fuck with you, they will. By text, email, trumped up WTFever-ishness. And because you think it’s about your kid, you will look at it.

      There is NO getting around developing a tough skin about this crap. It’s not fair, it’s messed up, but they don’t care. You need to get support from people who understand and will yourself to not take the bait.

      I still get broadsided by the ridiculous nastiness of my son’s father many years post-divorce. My husband sees the humor in his crazy, but I can’t. I just see flaming crazy. But I rarely take the bait. It’s taken a long time, but it was very liberating to realize that not every missive requires a response. Silence speaks volumes.

      And if it’s something for real about the kid, answer in the fewest business-like sentences possible.

      • Ditto the silence. When my ex sends his occasional, holier-than-thou lecture, he gets crickets from me. Why would I bother asking him, “How dare you question my parenting?” He has already shown me that he doesn’t care what I think, so I’m not going to bother sharing it with him.

    • How do you have those conversations when my 17 year old daughter is just as wrapped up in his mindfuckery as I was. She’s always been “daddy’s girl”, and I have realized that I harbored some resentment to her because my stbxh was affectionate, loving, and spoke nicely to her. I didn’t realize it was happening to her while it was happening to me too, but now that I can see it for what it is I see it happening to her. I even told her why we split and who the other woman is. He has had the other woman over several times while he has our kids, but my daughter still doesn’t believe me. She just thinks I’m “emotional”. Her father’s favorite description of me.

      On the other hand is my 8 year old son who thinks life is grand since the divorce. Yes he says he hopes we’ll get back together, but he also loves that his dad actually spends time with him now. And every time the other woman comes over she brings take out and they play games (my stbxh groaned whenever I suggested games) so in my 8 year old’s mind the ow brings fun, and he loves having her visit dad’s house.

      I worry my daughter will not see her father for what he is and therefore fall into the same type of shitty relationship as an adult. Please, I’d love to hear from people who split when their kids were older and whether or not they ever chose to actually process the truth. I know my daughter does see the truth, but she has her father smeared head to toe in spackle and keeps buying more.

      • TTMO~ I don’t have experience with divorcing with older kids but I did grow up with a mom who blamed EVERYTHING on my dad. It was a pretty askew view and I always took my mom’s side when it came to the two of them growing up. BUT, once I hit about 23 I got a good look at what was actually going on and realized my mom was full of crap a good deal of the time. Really what I learned was to watch action rather than listen to opinion about what was going on. In this case mom and dad roles would be reversed. So I’m saying there’s hope. My mom wasn’t sparkly or anything but at 17 I thought I knew everything, I was extremely loyal and I believed the parent who did the most propaganda. But I did eventually figure it out.

        As for her ending up with a shitty relationship….I think the only thing you can do for her is model respect for yourself, integrity and the importance of consequences. Amazing Dads or not there’s still an awful lot of pitfalls for young women in finding themselves in healthy relationships. Like I said, model it. You may not be dating but you can still show a healthy relationship with yourself. Best of luck to you. I was a shit at 17.

      • My kids were 21 and 27 when I divorced. One speaks to his father, the one has not said a word to him since the day he left. That was more than five years ago.

        It’s interesting because my older child was finished college and grad school and was becoming established in his career when Dday came. In other words, he wasn’t there when the marriage was falling apart. My younger child, however, was a freshman in college the day my then-husband announced he was having an affair. Prior to that he was witness to the asswipe’s bad behavior.

        My older child is now is now 30 and has yet to see what his father did. As a matter of fact, my older child recently married and I was told, per the bride, that asswipe and his whore would be sitting in the front row with me. I explained to my son how hurtful that was but it was his and his bride’s day so I swallowed it. It was just one of those things that you do to make your kid happy. I did not speak to my ex or his whore at the wedding. There was no need to.

        My younger child still hasn’t spoken to his father. My ex constantly accuses me of “poisoning” my son to “get revenge on him.” I always reply, “The relationship between you and your adult children is between you and them.

        It’s interesting because I recently had a chat with my older child and told him I did not mind that he has a relationship with his father, but I wanted him to understand that the woman he is with is the woman who was one who broke apart our family. He commented that now that he’s a married man he doesn’t understand why his father didn’t leave me first before having sex with someone else. He also said he doesn’t understand how a woman can sleep with a man knowing he’s married. I replied that I do not know the answer to that one, perhaps he should ask his father and his woman.

        In the meantime, my ex refuses to tell my son when he met his whore or that he cheated multiple times before that. Even when asked, my ex will say what happened is no one’s business. In other words, he still has his head up his ass and continues to enjoy the view. He lives in a different part of the country than where the bomb exploded so he can fool whomever he’d like since there’s no history or accountability there.

        Eventually our kids do process the truth. However they do it on their own time and in their own way. In the meantime you simply continue to love them as you always did. As I told both my sons, no matter what happens, I love you far more than I hate him.

        As to being my ex’s friend, I can only share what I told him when he said there was no reason we could not be friends. I explained that I have many, many friends. I had only one husband. He fired me from that job. I also that friends do not do to friends what he did to me.

  • SummerGirl,

    I have a child around that age. My child said to me recently, “I don’t want there to be a war going on behind my back.” And it was good for me to hear that. It’s hard to be “civil” to someone who has been so hurtful and yet, I know that for our child it is the best way to be. And that’s not being friends. No. We are polite and talk in civil tones when discussing money matters or our child.

    I’ve told my child that I would not expect her to be friends with a bully. I consider my ex a bully. I told my child that her father had a girlfriend while married and that’s not ok. I’ve told her that it’s not ok to lie to your friends, betray them and abandon them. Those aren’t actions of friends. I believe those are the actions of a bully. I don’t think children have to be very old to understand when someone is being mean to them and they naturally try to avoid those people. I find it’s the same way with my ex. I don’t reach out to him and we are not friendly but we are civil for the sake of our child. In order for me to heal I am learning not to “hate” him and to watch my behaviour so that I do no more harm to myself or my child.

    I think we owe it to our children not to lie to them but to show them courage, love and kindness. How their relationship pans out with the ex is not for us to manage (as hard as that can be sometimes.) It’s not easy and we are human so we are bound to say a few things we might not ideally like to say. However, forgive yourself and be honest with yourself.

    • Doesn’t your ex just deny having a girlfriend? That is what my stbxh does over and over to me and our daughter. The ow is apparently his “only friend”. (Yeah because she is the only person he was willing to make time for). So to my 17 year old daughter it is he said – she said concerning the affair. My stbxh has the ow over to hang out when he has my kids, but he justifies it because she is his friend. My daughter chooses to believe her father. I can’t combat that without telling her the proofs I know, and that is just wrong. Please tell me that eventually she will take the blinders off.

      On a side note, one of my stbxh’s best male friends just told me today that my stbxh always cancels their plans cause something comes up at the last minute. I told him I’m sure it does. His friend said yeah, well you know the pasture is always greener on the other side cause it’s full of shit. I liked that metaphor.

      • It really helped to just keep reminding my kids that when you can’t figure out what’s going on, or you’re not sure, the best thing is to watch people’s behaviour over time. They will reveal who they are – and it’s a really useful life skill for all sorts of situations!

        But if you have proof, why can’t you share it? Unless your daughter has no computer access, she’s seen worse already! Or at least tell her about it and show enough that she knows it’s true, if she agrees that this might be helpful.

  • “Conscious Uncoupling”?

    As opposed to what exactly? Unconscious Uncoupling? Would the latter be like death (for whoever died) or… getting so drunk you don’t remember getting divorced?

      • CL, that is hilarious. Believe me I am awake. I’m not going back to sleep on this one.

        hahaha. Natural divorce. I held the view of “why can’t they just get along” before my divorce. Um…now I know why.

        I’d like to see Chris come out with his statement “Reasonable people may all be asking…’what is a conscious uncoupling?’ My response to my soon to be ex Gwyneth is, I now consciously demand you fuck off. Thank you. No questions please.”

    • I don’t like it (the term), and I suspect George Orwell wouldn’t either.

      Why doesn’t she just say “Divorce”? That’s what it’s called when you legally dissolve a marriage, right? Unless there is some new legal practice in UnicronLand Family Court, I think she means ‘divorce’, so what’s with the euphemism?

      Is this typical minimizing going on? Like on Thanksgiving Day in UnicornLand she expects the future Mrs Martin to set a place for her at dinner? LOL.

      Too bad she couldn’t climb into a time machine and join Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher on their 2007 family vacation where they could all hold an Uncoupling Ceremony.

  • I had a bad time with ex-H and emails. We communicated via email to set up times for him and the children but it became a constant exchange of sniping and angry crossfire.

    I was given some good advice to stop engaging. I couldn’t stop emailing because it was how we confirmed arrangements, but I developed a stock of neutral phrases to deal with the sniping. Here are a few:

    I take on board what you are saying
    I note the points you raise
    I acknowledge your perspective
    I’ll reflect on that
    That’s certainly something to consider

    None of them mean anything much but they are polite & can’t really be disagreed with. They buy time as well because they appear to be a response without actually committing to anything.

    • English Lady…
      Your Ex-H accepting that “word salad” as serious answers proves that he really does think the world revolves around him.
      You are the best !

      • This Chump medicated for your protection, I just had to say; every time I see your name on the blog it cracks me up, thank you for choosing this creative nickname 🙂 now I think I need a Xanax…

  • Summergirl,

    One thing – in my opinion, you do a child a disservice being anything but truthful regarding a cheater father. Children pattern their own future interactions in relationships based on what they’ve observed in their family. Your son has witnessed you being abused by his father, and has watched you be wounded, then brave and then strong. This sticks – whether he is even aware of it or not. One reason he may want you to be “friends” is to somehow validate that his father is actually a great guy and not the actual raving asshole cheater disrespecting his wife and abandoning his family. So be honest with him – and let him know that real men don’t go out of their way to hurt and disrespect their family – especially not someone who is their partner and parent of their children. And for the men who do behave badly – there are consequences and the loss of “family” between them and their partners and often their children is a result. I would not go out of the way to find things to bitch about in front of your son – but if he had a question or a situation comes up that affects him and is caused by his dad – I sure wouldn’t hide that fact from him.

    My children were almost adult age when we found out who my ex was. I never hid any aspect of his actions from them if they asked. (A few might have also come out when they heard me talking on the phone upstairs – thin walls). You will never go wrong with the truth. My girls now see their father with clear eyes for what he is. Incredibly selfish, immature and flawed – but they made that judgment themselves about two years after D-Day. Their interaction with him is about an hour once a year so he can give them gifts at Christmas. They have repeatedly told him that his life -as long as he is with the predatory OW who is now his third fiance’ – is not part of theirs. It is incredibly easier for me not having him in our life or be part of our family….and I’m thankful that the moral compass in each of them determined their choices where their father’s concerned. Your son will get there as well, as long as you keep teaching him what a real man should be, and that truth and trust and honesty do matter. That character – even in this day and age – matters.

  • Okay, SOMEONE has to stand up for a fair and balanced view of Gwyneth. In the interest of equal time, it’s worth considering 10 examples of Ms. Paltrow’s profound philosophical insights:

    1. On taking a retreat to Sedona, Arizona: “I’ll never forget it. I was starting to hike up the red rocks, and honestly, it was as if I heard the rock say: ‘You have the answers. You are your teacher.’ I thought I was having an auditory hallucination.”

    2. “Sometimes Harvey Weinstein will let me use the Miramax jet if I’m opening a supermarket for him.”

    3. “Some days I feel like everyone in my world has plugged themselves into my kidneys. I’m so tired.”

    4. “Beyoncé’s like, ‘Okay. The singing is great. But you’re not having any fun.’ She’s like, ‘Remember when we were at Jay’s concert and Panjabi MC comes on and you do your crazy Indian dance? Do that. Be you!’”

    5. On her Nanny and her children: “She’s French, so she’s teaching them French, and their previous nanny was Spanish, so they’re fluent in Spanish.”

    6. To Cosmo: “We’re human beings and the sun is the sun—how can it be bad for you? I don’t think anything that’s natural can be bad for you.”

    7. “I had my first bowl of gazpacho when I was fifteen in Spain, and the impression it made was a lasting one.” [My Father’s Daughter]

    8. “When you go to Paris and your concierge sends you to some restaurant because they get a kickback, it’s like, ‘No. Where should I really be? Where is the great bar with organic wine? Where do I get a bikini wax in Paris?’”

    9. “We’ve got a wood-burning pizza oven in the garden—a luxury, I know, but it’s one of the best investments I’ve ever made.” [My Father’s Daughter]

    10. “He [Chris Martin] can’t have background music on. It has to be 100 percent of his attention. But if he isn’t at home, I turn on the hip-hop. I’m like a bad mutha rapping along to every word as I cook.”

    So, to be fair, she’s arrogant, but she balances it out with plenty of stupid.

    • #6 — natural? e Coli is natural. So is arsenic.

      #9 — Gwyneth does NOT have a pizza oven! She doesn’t eat carbs or dairy! Maybe it’s quinoa pizza with soy cheese?

      OMG she’s nuts.

      • Hey, I have a celiac friend whose wife is allergic (as in anaphylactic shock) to dairy–that might work for them!

    • Ugh, those made me laugh and shudder at the same time. Such a blend of arrogant conceit, narcissism, stupidity and entitlement. Kind of reminds me of my ex, but he doesn’t have any money to spend on pizza ovens or restaurants requiring a concierge’s recommendation.

      • Yeah, I like how a pizza oven is an “investment”–forget blue chip stocks or mutual funds, the new long-term investment strategy is buying pizza ovens…

    • And on cheating, Ms. Gwyneth has stated:

      While promoting her new movie Contagion at the Venice Film Festival, Gwyneth Paltrow apparently took time off from demanding the canals be filled with Perrier – organic Perrier – and apropos to who the hell knows, decided to announce she “respects and admires” her friends that have cheated on their spouses because apparently she’s not constrained by Victorian sensibilities on marriage. I have no clue. The Daily Mail reports:

      Miss Paltrow said: ‘I am a great romantic – but I also think you can be a romantic and a realist.
      ‘Life is complicated and long and I know people that I respect and admire and look up to who have had extra-marital affairs.
      ‘It’s like we’re flawed – we’re human beings and sometimes you make choices that other people are going to judge.
      ‘That’s their problem but I think that the more I live my life, the more I learn not to judge people for what they do.
      ‘I think we’re all trying our best but life is complicated.’

      Conscious uncoupling, my ass. More like one of them got sick of the serial cheating. My bet is that Chris finally had it.

      • It’s nice to know Gwyneth puts as much care and consideration into her relationships as she does her biodynamic kale and pricey yoga gear.

        I mean, let’s not judge… unless it contains carbohydrates.

      • Uniquelyme,

        If that isn’t the most convoluted, pretzel-twisted brain, head up the ass What the Fuckity-Fuck mass of word salad I’ve ever read, I don’t know what is. All of that needs to be under Stupid Shit Cheaters Say. I’ll bet you can look through one of Ms. Paltrow’s ears and see clear through out of the other side.

        Life is plenty complicated, but being a decent person certainly isn’t. You’re either a liar and cheat with no character and no integrity, or you’re not. If you admire people with no character and no integrity, that’s okay, but that probably indicates that you yourself are also devoid of both.

        She elevates the description “plus signs for eyes” to an entirely new level. What a mutton head.

      • More rumours are that he cheated a few years ago with Kate Bosworth, and has been in a relationship with Alexa Chang since Glasto last year. She’s allegedly had affairs with a millionaire and some other non-peasant type.

    • Arghhhhh!!!! I used to like Gwyneth but she gets my vote for most annoying person ever!!! She might as well be quoted as saying “Let them eat gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, quinoa cake”. It’s a good thing we’re not allowed to vote for beheadings.

  • My serial cheating ex-wife wanted a Hollywood unicorn divorce a la
    Geyneth Paltrow press release style. These bran and quinoa eating , yoga and fitness obsessive preachy mantra bitches are hypocrites. Behind the scene they smoke, drink, never cook, get Botox and plastic surgery and market themselves as hip and modern day sexy Martha Stewart’s.

    Sure enough as a chump I bought into protecting our children from the damage of her “affairs” and we gave our kids the “speech”, very similar to the Hollywood spin Gwyneth Paltrow has brought to new levels about how divorce is now more special than marriage and an intact family…geez… divorce done right actually brings out more love and a sense of family and the kids are now incredibly special as opposed to those average normal kids with married parents.

    My ex for awhile after our divorce made it her goal to be the fun cool mom who was devoted to our kids. The thing is, narcissists eventually show their true colors. My kids are beginning to see through her and the glitter turd she really is.

    I’m the steady, no fireworks and drama dad. I know in the long run I will be a dad they can count on. Us chumps are reality based and yeah….it’s not as glamorous but it’s more real and hopefully it gives our kids stability and what they really need.

  • I tell you, only Goop could write the most pretentious and annoying divorce announcement of all time. I nearly fell off my chair laughing when I read that statement.

    At work so can’t comment on the rest right now but had to throw that in there. The woman is seriously up her own behind.

  • Yay Chris Martin can finally be mine! 😉 Rumor has it that Gwennie cheated on him multiple times, and if that is true, it makes sense why she inserts “conscious uncoupling” in her word salad.

  • This is great for me today. My dopey STBX has some strains of Gwyneth in her.

    Right after I found out and confronted her about her “artist” boyfriend, she acted as if nothing happened and wanted to be enlightened friends and co parents. Fuck that. I was more angry than I have been in a long time. And, I told her in no uncertain terms to fuck off and she is not my friend. I was betrayed by the person who was supposed to be safe and secure in the marriage.

    So, I reacted appropriately, I think. However, I am considered by her and almost everyone else familiar to be immature, a bully because I was “so angry”, abusive, hurting my child because I’m pissed (no fighting occurred in front of her or disparagement), and whatever other bullshit she said or thought. It is the culture, I think. And, my divorce is about as undramatic as can be (mostly).

    My chakras aren’t aligned….I need reiki…She’ll pray for me and my anger…etc..,. What I really need is for her to fuck off and get the hell away from me.

    I have not told my six year old any details other than we’re divorcing and it’s final. And, it’s because we don’t get along anymore, which she knew anyway. But, I will tell her when I think it’s age appropriate.

    We are friendly now during child care logistics and conversations. It’s only recent we have talked outside of email. But she is not my friend and that is the way it has to be, I believe. Because my actual friends don’t treat me the way she did. She is an unapologetic jackass. She made sure we were not friends. She only wanted to be friends to manage her image and maybe assuage her guilt (if she feels it).

    • Thirstyfish – Oh how I hear and understand what you are saying!! My Ex wanted to give our boys (11 and 15 at the time) a song and dance speech about his abruptly moving out to his bachelor pad that included gems such as “your mother and I have mutually decided that it is best for me to live apart from you” and “we will always be a loving family even though I won’t be here and your mother will be taking care of you from now on…but we agree that this is the best thing for everyone” and other such garbage. I refused to go along with it and after he finished his little speech, I told the boys that it was not a mutual decision. That I was very sad and angry that he was breaking apart our family but that I would always be there for them and loved them completely and the 3 of us would get through this together. Ex was furious that I didn’t follow the party line and say exactly what he “told” me to say. He truly expected, in typical narcissist fashion, that I would just go along with letting our children think that I wanted a divorce. That I was OK with him being on dating sites and swinging from the chandelier in his new party pad (he is 51 and has a male roommate renting with him now who is in his mid-twenties and still in school…think he might be trying to relive his college glory days?). He ends all his emails to me now with scripture verses about “love” and “understanding” etc. He attends church with the OW every Sunday and is just the model Christian man (who just saw our older son for the first time in 3 weeks last night). Be friends with him? Hell no. He is a toxic, disordered person just as your Ex appears to be. Staying as far removed from toxicity is vital to our physical and emotional health. We DO have to be cordial and professional in front of children – it is damaging to them to witness fighting and nastiness – but we do NOT have to be “friends” with our Ex’s. We were not “friends” with them before they left…a true friend would never treat someone the way we were treated.

      • Nicole,
        Yep. I am unenlightened. And, it’s part of her narrative to others, I suppose. I don’t know because I haven’t tried to run around and repair any lies she’s told.

        It’s funny, my ex does the same with ending emails with scripture or Gandhi etc..,. She’s such a phony. It’s funny too about the college glory days. My STBX’s AP is this guy who hangs out with 25 year olds or younger. It’s ridiculous.

      • “We were not “friends” with them before they left…a true friend would never treat someone the way we were treated.”

        Yeah this!!! 100 times this!!! My ex wanted a “civil divorce”. He wanted us to remain friends and all that crap. The truth is that besides trying control the narrative, they also want to keep chumps around for the things they used to be useful for and future usefullness. Of course this only goes one way.

        I moved out before our divorce proceedings and he needed my help with the house when he wasn’t going to be around. I inadvertently found out that he started actively dating before I even moved out or before we went to the judge. I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me since he was a cheat but WTF ever.

        Anyway, I probably could’ve let that go since I was already out and divorced, but then he has the nerve to ask me out on a date for what would’ve been our upcoming 27th anniversary (which was after the divorce)..Who asks their ex-wife out on a date, while they’re already dating someone else (and have been since before you moved out) on an anniversary that you aren’t celebrating anymore? Disordered wingnuts, that’s who!!

        I can only gather that Gwyneth Paltrow must also be a cheater because of her narrative. What a bunch of deludinoids!

        • Oh, oh, me!!! MY ex, too, invited me on a date, a little less than a year and a half after I kicked his cheating ass out!!! Wasn’t our anniversary or anything, but he was very specific that it would be a date (after I refused his invitation to lunch, reminding him I had no interest in being his friend), and admitted he’d be glad to hop into bed with me on this date, too!

          This in the midst of telling me he’d finally understood that he’d been wrong about so many things (no specifications, of course, wouldn’t want to actually accept responsibility), and now his whole life goal was to be a better person, and work hard to make the people around him happier.

          When I asked whether he was still with the OW, he admitted he was, that she thought she was his girlfriend and he her boyfriend. But if I had dated him, that wouldn’t have been cheating, ’cause I was his ex-wife. Yes, that changes everything! When I mentioned that I wasn’t tempted by the idea of dating someone who was still a dishonest cheater, he gave me some song and dance about ‘oh, honesty! I feel like I’m being lectured in church!’ and ‘it would just be too hard to break up with her, before knowing whether things would work out with us. Just as it would have been too hard to leave you before seeing whether things would work out with her’. So, a dishonest, cheating coward! So attractive ….

      • When ex walked out, son was 13. Ex made a big deal of telling son that his leaving our family was “in all of our best interests,” and “the best thing for everyone.” And you know what? It’s been over four years since that nightmare day, and I now see that ex was ABSOLUTELY RIGHT. It really WAS the best thing for all of us that he get the HELL out of my life. Not that he cared or saw it that way, he was obviously just making himself out to be the good guy.

      • Ugh, sounds a lot like my ex! He started sending us bible verses and he was a person who hated going to church. It was like he wanted us to believe that God ordained his choice to cheat and leave the family. He also told my son that he and I were still going to be friends. In his mind he’d decided how everything was going to go down, and seemed genuinely surprised I didn’t go along with it. I’ve told my kids repeatedly that this was not a mutual decision, that it’s not what I wanted but I’m trying to accept it and move on with my life.

    • Yep, I also explained to my ex I could not be his friend. He nodded his head like he understood but I’m sure he’d hoped we could be friends so he wasn’t the bad guy. He also told my oldest son “your mom and I will still be friends.” My son told me “Dad is delusional, he seems to have no clue how this normally goes.”

  • Summergirl: No, you’re not unique in this, but I’m behind you in the timeline. The me-versus-them component of divorce/separation from a cheater who leaves to be with his sparkly new piece is really hard – boy can I relate to the happy, happy, happy, since my internal nickname for my cheating spouse is now Mr. Happy – he’s turned it up to some kind of frenetic “let’s play house!” game at his new apartment with my kids (and his girlfriend – and often her kids), including almost constant games of NerfWars (last night’s FaceTime call to the kids: “I bought new Nerf ammo!”), “Dance Parties”, and some Monopoly and Barbies thrown in to win over our daughter, but acts like this is all perfectly natural. Thing is, board games and dancing were always a big part of our own family life – it was a fun family – but now it’s like it’s on some kind of crazed ecstasy-fueled scale. The two homes shouldn’t be a competition. I also am fighting the urge to let little tiny barbs slip about the X (I don’t know what to call him: Still married and no movement legally) or OW, but am doing a lot better at suppressing those and getting to Meh. It really helps that my kids are showing a lot of affection to me and I’ve realized that they love me no matter what is going on over there. Your son loves you too. Concentrate on him. Blinders on to the ex, even with all the goading. You cannot be goaded. You are a calm, cool pillar of peace and a better – is that fair? – ok, no competition – Great!! parent. You’re not plaything of the day, you’re mom, which is much better.

    • Chumparama, I promise you that the super-fun parenting over at chez ex-Chumparama going on at the moment won’t last. I can’t emphasise it enough. These light weight cheaters can’t sustain this type of activity long-term. This was my own experience & has been the experience of my friends whose exes have bailed on them too.
      My ex-H can barely find time to see our children now & the new wife is not interested either now she has 2 children of her own with ex-H. Not even my children are interested. My children see through everything that their Dad does and they also know that I am the bedrock in their lives. No, it isn’t always fun but I know they appreciate me (as much as 12 & 14 year olds can) and they know I’m there for them.

      • Thanks English Lady! I really appreciate reading some support and your experience right now because, even though I try to be positive in above comment, I am still reeling from this.

        • I’m at work, so I can’t read all responses in detail just yet…But an overall HUGE THANK YOU to Tracy and Chump Nation. I feel buoyed just quickly skimming through the comments – can’t imagine how much better you all will help me feel when I read your comments in detail this evening.

          But Chumparama – yours jumped out at me. It ABSOLUTELY feels like a competition as to whose house is more fun and who can spend more money on son. Before the D, I was the only fun parent and I bought him nearly everything. Dad was in his own world of online porn and serial cheating (with neighbors, a ho-worker, Ashley Madison sluts, etc., concurrently in many cases…boy, he was BUSY!). Now, ex is playing catch-up (even though he continues his online dalliances behind his GF’s back…poor new chump). He is fiercely competitive and I don’t know if he came into money or if he’s just living beyond his means, but he is spending on everything – son, trips with new chump gf, hosting parties (with my old neighbors and friends – grrr), his new car and hobbies. I work so hard at keeping a poker face when son tells me about his life at Dad’s and all of the fabulosity! (I want it to be noted that I make more than ex does, but I’m a saver). It wears me out, but for son’s sake, I know I can’t let it show. I know my son loves me madly, as I do him, but I just fear that he will be sparkled right out of my life. He’s smart and I think he does play the houses against one another. Luckily, he’s demonstrated many times that he does have a conscience (unlike his father).

          I have reduced my email responses to twice a week, which has helped immensely. I flag ’em, move ’em to a folder and look later. I don’t engage on anything other than son and I don’t respond to texts that are not about timely issues. But I continue to struggle with even acknowledging him at son’s events – looking at him makes my skin crawl. But I know I need to be civil and mature, you guys are right.

          Unfortunately, I moved 2000 miles from home so long-term friends (and my family) are several time zones away. It makes venting to friends in real-time hard, but I know I can always come here!

          I appreciate the support and shared experiences. I can’t wait to read this all in more detail this evening (after son goes to bed, of course)!

          Oh, and thanks to the lovely Fishsticks Paltrow. Her delusion and ridiculousness is ongoing entertainment and a wonderful diversion!! Love your takes on her idiocy. Never could stand her – glad Chris has finally come to his senses.

          Thank you!

          • Oh Summergirl, I gave you a longer comment below, but then saw your response here. Your ex is so going to crash and burn. These pathological freaks cannot keep up superdad when they have been on a steady diet of porn sites, Ashley Madison, etc. Just stay steady girlfriend. Sounds like you are doing great.

            • Agree. They can’t sustain the bullshit.

              Keep the boundaries in place. No contact. I go to footy and Groceries is a another spectator. No eye contact ,nothing. Ignore them until they doubt their own existence.
              Focus on having fun with your son.

  • CL, you capture the Chump Collective Consciousness so well! Had the Gwenyth Paltrow “conscious uncoupling” thing on my mind too, after hearing this horseshit…You slapped it down and applied it to Summer Girl’s letter too! Awesome!

  • Oh, I forgot to say that I believe “spiritual” people like my ex and Gwennie are angry as hell. This spiritual buffet talk is a mask for passive aggressive attacks. If you don’t agree with their point of view or be “unwell spiritually”, it’s all your fault because your unenlightened and unwashed. A dummy. “See why I had to move on…..”

    Don’t get me wrong…I’m not attacking religion or spirituality. I am those things. It’s the impressment of those values on others to validate betrayal and other poor behavior by vapid people is what I refute vigorously.

    • I agree. You can package this shit in New Age-ese, or Christianese, but however you unwrap in, it still stinks.

  • Summer girl – it’s the same for me – my 15 yr old son wants no blame or moral judgement made on his father – does not blame him at all for what he did and wants us to be friends – so does my ex ! My 11yrs old daughter on the other hand has very little time for her dad and sees exactly what he is and how wrong he was – so I’m left balancing two plates in the air whilst trying all the while to keep access to their dad , keep as nc as possible for me , and be a responsible role model for both !!!! it’s hard and Im never sure if I’m doing the right things – I know I cannot be friends – as CL has often said – it’s only to appease their guilt – but with kids in the mix you always feel allowances should be made don’t you – anyways I think CL is right – actions have consequences – pray one day my son will see his dad in a clearer light and maybe stop blaming me for it all – joke isn’t it for he had choices and chose to cheat because he could and felt entitled !!!!

    • As Tracy says replace cheating with murderer. Are you going to be friends with the murderer of your family- I don’t think so. Be the best parent you can be. The ex partners want us to be friends to reduce the guilt and help justify their cheating

  • My sons are in their 20’s but I remember a conversation with my youngest son where I told him how much I wished we could continue doing things together, but it was just too painful for me. He said he understood. It seemed to help him to know that I wished things could be different as much as he did.

    Anyway, I think CL’s no-nonsense, no-drama statement about why you can’t be friends with his dad is the best. You can’t argue with facts.

    I feel for you because teenage boys often seem to want to leave mom and spend more time with dad. It’s a natural part of their maturation to break away from Mom and bond with men. Even when you’re married that can be painful.

  • In high school, I knew a girl who was so stuck on herself, she thought every single thing about her was perfect and wonderful. Amazingly wonderful. She believed she had not a single imperfection on her. She really believed this. One day she told a story about how the big, raised mole on her back was beautiful. It was raised up so much (like a really big skin tag, I guess) that once when she went swimming in a local lake, a fish thought it was a piece of flotsam food and tried to bite it off. But nope….she was convinced even her moles were gorgeous, priceless gems of beauty.

    Gweneth strikes me as this sort. Conscious uncoupling? *snort* Call it what you want, that shit is NOT beautiful.

      • I think the fish was trying to tap into her consciousness by connecting her to the universal vibration of foundational knowledge, that ultimately…

        …no matter how perfect we are…..

        we all end up as fish food.

  • Gwyneth is my STBX’s favorite celeb. Before CL’s brilliant posting I never paid any attention to what she is like off-screen. Maybe this is why my STBX likes her / wants to be her so much!

    I haven’t gotten the question yet from my children of why I can’t be friends with mommy. This posting and the comments have helped me to formulate an age-appropriate response. Thanks everyone!

  • Dear SummerGirl,

    Be the sane parent as much as you can.

    Since you have the 50/50 arrangement, try to set some of the “busier” or more emotionally raw stuff for when your son is not around, so that it’s easier for you to take care of both of your basic needs when he’s around–like eating (re-your comment that “I’m lucky to get an edible meal on the table”).

    I need to address this comment: “His Dad is wily — he saves his venom for email. I let jabs at ex slip from time to time (not daily, but probably once a week). ”

    I’m going to call this as I see it.

    Hon, you have as many choices available to you as this asshat cheating fucktard–if not more. And yet, he has the wherewithall to keep his jabs at you away from your son, and you let yours “slip”. Now, you say you feel guilty. How you feel doesn’t really change what your son is experiencing from you. If this turd who doesn’t even have the moral compass of an amoeba can save up his venom where your son doesn’t see it (albeit likely for his own self-serving agenda), then surely, a person like you could.

    Now, I get how our emotions are raw, and when we feel that way, it’s harder to do the editing. I’m not sure how the jabs come up with your son, unless you are on the topic of your ex, which frankly, needs to stop. Use CL’s line about how a friendship is not ever going to be on the table, then shut up about your ex, and change the subject with your son. Don’t allow other discussions about your ex to come up, so that you a) don’t keep hurting yourself, and b) don’t end up raw and letting a jab “slip”.

    Your son knows all he needs to know about your breakup, and he will figure out his dad’s character in due time. Meanwhile, keep your bond with your son by being “the sane parent”.

    • Thanks Chump in the Sand – good advice. I feel like every time I slip, I get a big black X on my relationship with my son. I wish I could get a big eraser for the times I keep the drama away from my son, but it doesn’t work that way.

      And I agree with Lyn’s comment, that boys do tend to gravitate to Dad at a certain age. I’ve been telling myself that, too. It’s part of his normal development and it’s okay. I also do believe that Dad’s charade will not last, but it hurts like a motherfucker in the meantime.

  • Summergirl, I think your son needs to know a bit more of the truth of what happened before and what is happening since. I would sit him down and tell him the deal– “Dad cheated on me with OW, lied to me, and abandoned me. People just don’t remain friends after that. People usually can’t say each others’ names without spitting after that. Also, dad still says nasty things to me in his emails, and often when I snipe about him it is because he has just done that. My hurt is deep and it continues to be deep and you have to realize that, son. This is the reality of what happens when people do bad things like that. People are hurt and relationships are ruined, usually forever. That’s where I am. I have tried to protect you from this but I think at this point you need to understand some more of the truth” Then continue to be yourself and do your thing Summergirl, you sound like an awesome woman and mother.

    Now on to your ex. Summergirl, you want the narcissistic sociopath to win? Play his game his way. He has used, abused and abandoned you. He plays superman and superdad while he continues to abuse you verbally in emails and while you remain…..silent, compliant, cowed, afraid. I think the best way to flush the garbage out is to bring it into the light of day. All of it. Throw off the mantle of fear we all have worn for so long. TELL. This is what he did, I am not keeping the secret for anyone. This is what he is continuing to do. There is no reason to keep continuing nastiness and abuse a secret. It’s not your shame and it’s not your actions and words, it’s HIS. If it’s so awful you shouldn’t tell son or others, then he shouldn’t say it (or have done it) to begin with.

    So, to me, it all starts with the truth. Something we chumps have been denied probably all of our married lives with these cheaters. I vowed on D-Day I would not lie to my children or anyone else. I vowed I would live in the TRUTH from that day forward, that I would be authentic and real and would demand that of anyone around me. So, if I am upset or hurt, then I am. If I need to snipe I do. If I want to criticize my ex, I will. Hell, kids know how hurt you are, how devastating this must be. And if they don’t, well I am a firm believer that they need to for so many reasons.

    If one of my children is upset by a comment I make, or my continual anger at their father, I simply tell them why I am upset (“this reminds me of your dad and how he cheated on me”; “your dad emailed me and said something nasty”). I think pretending everything is fine when it is not is a recipe for disaster and too high a bar to hurdle for any wife and mother…except maybe a goddess like Gwyneth Paltrow.

    I would also calmly advise ex that if he sends you any more emails with “x, y or z” perjoratives, I will not respond. If it continues anyhow, I will advise the court, my lawyer, son’s counselor, and our son why I am so upset if he inquires. Be sure to note, dear ex-spouse, that I am keeping copies of all of this.

    Truth is more than not cheating on a spouse. Truth is also knowing why your world is in the order it is. Truth is knowing why dad lives over there with OW and mom lives here quietly trying to heal and going to counseling and yoga. Reality is knowing that dad screwed mom and mom is recovering but she is hurt and angry and it takes time to heal, and that these are the consequences when you act badly.

    P.S. Oh and Summergirl, make sure to keep copies of all the emails. (((HUGS)))

    • Thanks Kelly,

      I do keep copies of everything. For a time, I was cc’ing our Parenting Coordinator on everything because after our first meeting (just her and me), she told me I was too direct in my emails to ex, and I’d keep getting negative reactions from him. I was trying to be business-like, but I guess I was overly so. So I tried to swing back to the center – polite but business-like. So anyway, she was supposed to be giving me advice on my communication style, but I’m sure ex didn’t like that I was cc’ing her (even though I told him it was for my own coaching).

      Turns out, he raged at her, too (and my attorney). He would not participate in the PC process (even though it was court-ordered). I wanted help with our communications and with some issues with our son’s behavior. Anyway, his comments to her have been documented for the court. He thinks I’m unstable and spiteful and that’s why I petitioned the court for the PC. The reality is that our son has a doctor’s diagnosis for some behavioral issues and he’s having some trouble in school. But, ex thinks the PC is a waste of money, and counseling for son is unnecessary. The court approved me proceeding with the PC in ex’s absence. He is unrepresented by an attorney.

      So, that’s who I’m dealing with. A “you’re not the boss of me” child. So I do need to reinforce that I will not reply to insults (I’ve told him this before and I have been true to that promise). I’ve also told him I will not reply to texts unless they are a timely issue. Today, he sent me a pic of our son…what do I do? I have to say hi to my son, or ex will do the old “oh, I guess Mommy isn’t responding to us.” So I say “hi honey” to son and ex goes on to text me four more times about stuff that was not urgent in the least. So I didn’t respond. Then son leaves homework at Dad’s…So I have to text the bastard and tell him to get son’s homework to him so he can do it tomorrow night. I feel like I don’t have much choice sometimes. But it invariably goes turns into smarmy charm or rage. He just can’t keep it to the business at hand – our son.

      I gotta go back and reinforce the NC thing. AGAIN.

      With regards to son, I just can’t seem to bring myself to take it any further with him knowing what Dad did. I feel like he knows enough and the more I’d share, the more I’d push him away. I do think it would be helpful if I let him know that I’m still hurt.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment. I appreciate it so much.

      • Obviously the PC was making the same assumptions we all did initially; the other parent is probably a reasonable person who wants the best for their child, and if everyone can be polite, things will settle down and work out! Except, as a PC, you’d think they’d at least consider the possibility they’re dealing with someone with a character disorder … that’s probably often the case when the court orders a PC. (Get her the Simon book, the 2nd one!). And for these manipulative people, any contact above and beyond business-like is an opportunity to seduce or abuse – both leading to that magic goal of more ego kibbles!

      • summergirl,

        Your story sounds exactly like mine right down to your responding “too business like” and his swing between smarmy charm or rage. I have a 17 year old daughter who has flat out told me she doesn’t believe her dad cheated and an 8 year old son who loves all the time and attention he is finally getting from a man who was never home before.

        My stbxh had not been living at home for 2 weeks before we told the kids and they didn’t even realize it.

        I truly think the only solution is to continue being the sane parent and keep your snipes to yourself. I slip too, but it is just a big black X on our forehead. (Even thought my daughter has told me many things my stbxh has told her about me, the X somehow only shows up on my head).

        It does hurt like hell though and there is no fixing that. I will tell you as a child of divorced parents:
        As a child I harbored alot of anger toward my mother because one of her boyfriends abused me and she didn’t really believe me. After that my father got custody. I remember being in 3rd grade and prank calling my mother at work and calling her nasty names.

        My dad would rant and rave saying that my mother talked about him behind his back and other typical jabs. Because I was angry at my mother, I believed my dad.

        My mother was the permissive parent and I got to do a lot of things at her house that I wasn’t allowed to do at dad’s. What I didn’t realize was my mom recognized her own flaws and was working on them. While my dad seemed to digress as I grew up and became less and less respectable.

        When I became an adult and pulled away from my parents, I was able to look back at my childhood in a more objective way. I was surprised at what I saw.

        I saw a mother who had certainly made mistakes, but had worked hard to better herself and repair the damage she had caused. A woman who NEVER to my memory talked bad about my father to me. A woman who had loved me the best way she could and who worked very hard to learn to love me better. A woman who didn’ t sabotage my relationship with my father even though he made her skin crawl. On the flip side I saw my father. As I grew into a teen I was already realizing that he abused pot, but as an adult, I could also see that he had been the one making all the jabs at my mom and sabotaging any hope of healing my relationship with her. I was able to see that he was the dysfunctional one in our families life together, and that mom had been the upstanding one.

        Today, my mom is my best friend. I do have a relationship with my dad, but it is on a much lower level of respect than the one I have with my mother.

        My point being that ultimately, the truth will win. Believe me, I know that doesn’t help today. I constantly have to remind myself of my own adult revelations and trust that God will protect my children’s hearts and minds so that one day they will be able to sort this mess out for themselves.

        Sometimes I wish there were a way to connect in real life with some of the people on here because it would be nice to commiserate with those going through such similar situations on a personal level. In the mean time summergirl, hang in there.

        • Trying to Move On,

          I wish we could connect in real life, too. Because if we did, I would give you such a hug! Thank you for this thoughtful reply. My parents were married for 52 years until my Dad died and I know very few children of divorce (children of unhappy long-term marriages? I know plenty of those). Your perspective is priceless to me, and it helps validate what I believe in my mind.

          I’m trying to play music while I’m taking my morning shower. That’s where I tend to ruminate and it’s a shit way to start my day. But this morning, I woke son up with the music (oops!) and he was cranky at me about it. In my mind, I began singing John Lennnon’s “Beautiful Boy” and sending my son love (a trick my life coach taught me). His mood completely turned and we had a wonderful morning together before work/school. I need to keep those times in my mind when I’m struggling with forgiving myself for a poor choice in snarking on Dad.

          I do re-live lots of good memories with him – I’m proud of that. I’m not even wistful when I do it. I am glad I’m away from the crazy – and the further I get, the more I put together on just how crazy it was.

          I am praying that, someday, your daughter will see the light, just like her mom did. I’d put very good money on it that she will. Thank you for your compassion and I’m sending it right back at ya.

      • I’ve read that children tend to end up closer to the “non-blaming parent” no matter who was at fault in the divorce.

        It’s all so hard, my youngest son also got angry with me for saying too much about what his Dad did. He told me “Dad never says anything bad about you.” I wanted to scream “Did I lie, cheat, manipulate and then abandon him? Maybe he’s not saying anything bad because I didn’t do those things to him!” Still, after my son got upset I stopped saying anything about his dad except for good memories I had of our time together as a family.

        To this day my youngest son is closer to his dad and my oldest is very angry and distant with his dad. I try to accept that my youngest son has always been closer to his dad and let it go. Even when we were a family my youngest son gravitated towards his dad and had a similar personality. I hate that our family breaking up has split it right down the middle, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

        • I’ve read the same thing, Lyn. And you know what? I think we read to goddamn much!!!!!

          We will prevail. I know it.

      • Summergirl, your son is old enough to take over WAY more of the communication w/his dad. If he needs the homework he forgot, HE should call his dad. If he wants to send you a picture or have contact with you while he’s with his dad, HE should send it. If he doesn’t have a phone yet, get him a cheap one with a cheap plan (around here just call and text, no Internet access, is very cheap), or get him to use yours/the ex’s, but always identify himself in the message. Explain it as a step towards independence; kids LOVE that. That way you can ignore WAY more stuff, and not get the smarmy charm/rage as often.

  • Summergirl,

    The biggest problem is it’s a double edged sword. If you become friends, you will fall for them again and get sucked in their backward world. Not being friends is a safe defense mechanism. I always raised my kids not to HATE. It’s ok not to like everyone but, don’t hate. I have a hard challenge with this myself with my STBXW.

    • This post strikes a nerve with me. I am in the beginning stages of divorce and I would imagine it’s only going to get worse. In my other posts I’ve talked about how I’m having trouble going NC. But if I don’t text the H, I get “What..are you too fucking good to talk to me now?” Then I get this: “I thought we were better than that.” So..he dumped me for the OW, the “love of his life”, but he gets pissed when I don’t talk to him? I don’t get it! And when he is around, he sweeps in as Super Dad, because they get to do the FUN things. You know, go to movies, go out to eat..all of the things that boring Mom doesn’t do. I have to reveal something here, and tell me if I’m a horrible person. My kids are 24, 20 and 12. We are 2 months out from Dday. At first my 24 year old son wouldn’t speak to him..he took it all very hard. My 20 year old daughter just keeps herself at college and doesn’t really talk to either one of us a whole lot right now. My 12 year old tells me she doesn’t care, it’s between her Dad and I, but I know that truthfully it’s really hard on her. I’m having her see a counselor at school. Here’s the bad part. I LOVED it when the kids wanted nothing to do with him. But now that they’re slowly coming around, I HATE it. I truly wanted them to hate him forever, and not have any sort of relationship with them at all. And now that the kids are coming around, the H is all big smiles and happy happy happy because he screwed over his wife, but the kids still love him, so he acts like he did absolutely nothing wrong. He destroyed my life, but hey! As long as he has his trashy whore in his life and the kids still love him, he’s good to go! Must be a hell of a relief to get rid of me. Now he has it all. The OW, the love of the kids, and his sparkly wonderful life with his skank. The feelings of hate this has released in my is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before. I feel guilty about this..not wanting them to have anything to do with their Dad..but it’s their decision. Does anyone feel like this?

      • It’s only been two months Sandy R, and I can perfectly relate to how hard it was to keep NC at that stage. Hell, I slipped and had a “catch up” conversation with my STBX a couple of weeks ago, and it has been a year since I packed up my things and moved 3 hours away.

        You ARE too good to to talk to him now. You ARE better than that. Do what you have to do to keep NC. He is only looking to have you keep in contact with him for his own narcissistic, selfish, f’ed up reasons. Sorry Asshat – no more cake for you! Even if it’s low fat/low carb cake that he thinks is actually “healthy”.

        • See that’s what I don’t understand Canadian! On Dday he walked out and went straight to the OW. So why talk to me? I am leaning on the whole “ego kibbles” idea, because he’s made it clear who he wants. But apparently he still wants a little boost from me, too. Well guess what wanted the OW so bad, you got get your kicks from her, not me!

        • Sandy,

          First, yes, I do resent it that my grown children want to talk to and spend time with their irresponsible, cheating, abusive, fuckwit father. However, that’s my fault for not treating him throughout the marriage and their lives as the irresponsible, cheating, abusive, fuckwit that he was and is. Impression management can eventually bite you in the ass.

          These people are assholes. The problem lies in the fact that during the marriage, we were employed in an image management position. We shielded and protected our children as best we could from the consequences of living with these disordered people and their abusive behavior. We absorbed most of it on their behalf.

          Of course it is difficult for our children in this situation at whatever age – they feel as though they have to choose and they don’t want to do that. My STBX says horribly negative things about our children – but not to them. There have been times I’ve threatened to cut him if he said another unkind, unflattering thing about my children. He knows I won’t tell them so he feels free to say those things to me, while appearing to be compassionate, understanding, loving Dad to their face. Consequently, while they understand that he is not my favorite person, they think he’s an okay person and Dad.

          Yes, I hate that they think he’s “not that bad” because he really is that bad. Sometimes it is difficult for our children to look at either parent as a bad person because it would make them question their own worth, particularly when you have had a parent that has always treated you as extension of themselves, which many of these disordered folk do.

          I have had to tell them that I refuse to discuss their Dad with them. My actions and his actions will eventually tell them everything they need to know – and they will make a decision to find it acceptable or not. I’m hoping they will be in possession of enough character that they will not, but I can’t force that decision on them. It has to be their own.

      • Sandy R, I’ll be divorced a year next month and my adult son still refuses to have anything to do with the cheater ex. I admit I don’t mind that he doesn’t have contact with his dad. It definitely has made life simpler for me. The dynamics of their relationship may change but I am certain my son will set up tight boundaries if he ever decides he wants a relationship with his dad.

      • Sandy, my ex tries to use the same kind of provocations; ‘I thought you were a compassionate person’ when I don’t want to yet again discuss how miserably unhappy he is that his kids gradually saw him for who he is and don’t want to have anything to do with him. ‘You’re a monster of self-righteousness’ when I won’t reassure him that he’s really just a good guy who messed up because he was unhappy. ‘Why are you so icy?’ when I give him a one word answer to his two word question about the kids.

        And these kinds of things constantly occur in the middle of e-mailing or texting that is supposed to be JUST about the kids or house, and in which I have been very polite, and not said anything about him or us!

        It took a while, but now I see that he’s trying to get me to engage with him in ANY way. He’d prefer niceness (to prove he’s not actually a bad guy) or caring (because he’s SUCH a poor sausage), but if he can’t get those, he’ll go for indignation, hurt, anger … pretty much anything is better than our not caring about them or what they say.

        Several things helped and are helping with this mindfuckery. First was that I do NOT talk to him on the phone now, ever (never mind in person). I just can’t keep myself from reacting if I do! If he calls or asks to meet or speaks to me in the hall when he picks up mail, I just don’t look at him, and say I’m very busy right now, could he please send this in an e-mail.

        Second was to learn to take a good break before responding to the texts or e-mails. In that time, I might write a long angry response, or one that explains everything yet again, but I DO NOT send those, ever. Or I might call a friend to de-brief, that always puts things in perspective.

        Then I respond very calmly and coolly, either just about the ‘factual and practical’ stuff in the message, or to that stuff and also including a line such as; ‘you are being aggressive (or personal if he’s not actually aggressive) again. I have no interest in this kind of conversation. Please stop, or I will stop responding to your messages.’

        But it’s taken me a year and a half post DDay to get this figured out, and he STILL keeps trying to pull me in. It’s getting less frequent though, so that helps.

        Sorry you have to deal with this manipulation, and with seeing your kids get sucked in by his sparkles. Most kids do eventually figure things out, because he WILL revert to being who he is, but it’s painful to watch. All we can do is be the sane parent, keep loving our kids, and try to accept where they’re at right now. Sigh.

      • Sandy, I feel exactly like that. I so wish that my kids, S19 and D21, would just not speak to their father, but like they tell me “he’s our dad”. Unfortunately, for them, they have had these past few months of trying to connect with him and he just keeps on showing them that he is a hollow shell of a person. I always dread when one of them wants to go to dinner with him. But you know what, he shows them what he is each and every time. By the time they get home, they are sad and disgusted with him and I didn’t have to do a damn thing to reinforce that he truly does “suck”. They see the idiocy that he brings to the table. But oh it is soooo hard to just sit back and “let” them go to these meetings. I feel bad for my kids cause if it was me meeting them after about 6 months of no contact I sure as hell would want to see them for more than an hour at a time and I sure as hell would not just make “small talk” while I had them there. We were an intact family for 22 years and all the kids get is small talk or conversations with their “teenage” father…..So sad!

      • Sandy, in the beginning I felt like my ex was leaving our family and the kids and I were on the same side against him. As time has progressed they have spent time with him but tell me nothing about it. My ex bought a big old fancy vacation type home so he can have his large family come up for holidays, etc. It’s hurts to think of his family, who I loved like my own for 36 years, having a great time there with my kids while I’m out in the cold. My family is very small, my parents are sick and elderly, and I really miss being around his extended family and having fun with my kids. I guess I don’t want the kids to sever their relationship with their dad, but I sure don’t want to hear about their fun times together either. It makes me furious to hear about that because I could never get my ex to take vacations unless they were work related when we were a family.

    • Not being friends is really really important initially, because the cheater will often use it to try to get you into Unicorn Land to try reconciling, or at least providing CAKE, yet again. But even if they don’t want that, or that’s not working, many cheaters will still try to use any contact with us to get KIBBLES! Whether it’s by seducing us into treating them well (makes them look good! Hey, what he/she did can’t be that bad, they have a fine relationship with their ex!) or listening to their life and woes (it’s all about them, AGAIN!), or, when that doesn’t work, provoking or abusing us into angry or hurt reactions.

      To the narcissist, this is ALL KIBBLES, and they will drag it out as long as they possibly can! And when you do have to have some contact, this is VERY VERY hard not to react to. Because when you’re all polite and business-like, they accuse you of being ‘cold’ or ‘hard’ or ‘angry’ or whatever they think will get your goat.

      You mainly have to develop a thick skin and NOT REACT to whatever they’re saying, not to them, anyway! Only as they consistently get no reaction, over a long period of time, will they move their drama elsewhere.

  • Re the celebrity train smash Coldplays next album will contain a song with the real truth. Musicians often have a knack of inserting a line that tells us of their real feelings.
    Divorce is a shit fight regardless of fame. There’s no winners

    Summer Girl, I too worry about the ambiance in the home. It can get quiet and it is different without their mother but what’s important for the boys to understand that our choices ( mine and the boys) didn’t result in how we are living now.
    Their mother and chainsaw man made choices amd we are living our lives as a CONSEQUENCE of those decisions. They live 200yards at the end of the street. We didn’t make them move there. They chose to insert themselves there for whatever reason.
    The cynic in me( and my therapist ) believe they moved there to stick it right up me ( for exposing the affair etc) but also to say that they are most important and the boys need to accept the situation.
    Groceries always says the boys are welcome anytime but they will only stay if chainsaw man is away on business. I don’t know how long this situation will continue.
    Summer girl ,your son is maybe trying to work out where he fits in all this.
    His primary focus will be on you and dad and how you both give him love and priority.
    I have tripped many times and being upset how those two arseholes at the end of the street have candle lit dinners while I am feeding a household of kids etc. I haven’t spoken with ex wife for many months- only text and email re the boys and the boys undertsand what happened so they accept that mums and dad are uncoupled( haha), that the coupling connection device is broken and can’t be re welded ( I think CL does welding in as a hobby and its one job I know she won’t go near). All jokes aside the boys know the lay of the land.

    What the boys hate is either mum or dad getting upset. They just want to get on with it without family shit. They hate going between houses etc but like all of us have to just get on with it the best we can.
    You can only be the best mother you can be to your son. That means communicating properly with the dad on your sons best interests. Fuck the OW. ignore her.
    You cannot be friends with Dad. It’s unhealthy and confusing fir your son and may give false hope. Kids will work it all out and we have to be honest with them and love them.

    • The daughter of a friend of mine whose parents had a really nasty divorce told me she just wishes everyone could get along. She worries about what will happen at her wedding. I think the kids just want peace.

  • Sandy R.: Oh, HELL yes, I feel that way.

    I struggle with that very issue and have many of those very thoughts. I had hoped that my teenage daughter would at least hold her father accountable for his infidelity (which she knows about), but she told me she blames me 100 percent for the divorce. He must have told her a doozy to make her come to that conclusion. I can’t describe how painful it was to hear her say that, especially while I was still trying to recover from the infidelity and the loss of my intact family.

    The ex gets a free pass, apparently, for cheating on me, lying daily, leading a secret life and breaking up our family.

    Like your STBX, my ex acts like he has done nothing wrong. And as long as he suffers no consequences when it comes to the love of his daughter, he’s all good. He performs the role of Super Fun Happy Awesome Dad. My daughter seems to adore him. And I can see why — he’s sparkly, charming, attentive and loving to her. He buys her things, takes her out to eat fast food for nearly every meal, takes her on expensive trips, and has the added advantage of living his life like a new college graduate who just got his first apartment. What teenager wouldn’t prefer that?

    Part of me is glad that he is a father who wants to be part of his child’s life. There are so many awful stories of fathers who want nothing to do with their children. But the injustice of getting blamed entirely for the divorce I never wanted, for the cheating I never did – it feels like just another shit sandwich I’ve had to choke down.

    My best suggestion is to treat this as a painful but, ultimately, effective lesson in learning how to let things go. Learning how to accept that this is the story today, but it’s not the final chapter. It is excellent practice in learning patience.

    Just keep striving to be your best self. Worry about your side of the street, as Chump Lady says. Love your children no matter what decisions they make today about their father. Hold their best version of themselves in your heart for them. Be a model for integrity, self-respect and loving kindness. Children long to have a loving relationship with their parents. Sometimes they are willing to overlook things that you would prefer they didn’t. In time, they likely will begin to see their father more clearly, because he will reveal more of his disorder to them.

    This is what I tell myself.

      • The other thing, which I’ve heard from various psychologists, is that sometimes a child will lay the blame not on the richly deserving cheater parent, but on the one they know will love them despite the unfair blame. A child has to do something with all that stress and anger. But sometimes they know that the cheater parent will lash out in some fucked-up way, and they can’t bear to lose that parent’s love.

        In practice, this feels like a HELLA backhanded compliment to the non-cheating parent.

        • My 12 year old daughter really takes everything out on me, because I am the parent who is THERE, the H is not. I know she’s dealing with a lot of hurt and anger right now, and that’s what I remind myself when she lashes out on me. The parent left behind gets the brunt of the anger, because we are doing our best trying to support them and help through a horrible time in their lives; and of course the other parent is absent by choice. Doesn’t help much that the kids know now that he has spent more time with her kids and grandkids in the last 3 years than he ever did with them; and is still doing that. No matter how you look at it, we are the ones who get screwed in every way, shape and form..while the assholes that left us go on with their OW/OM and leave the ones that loved them the most in their dust.

          • Sandy R, your daughter may be upset, but I don’t think that’s an excuse to accept her lashing out at you — would you let her treat a friend/adult/teacher the way she’s treating you?

  • Phew, I thought I was the only one with these thoughts, lol! “The ex gets a free pass, apparently, for cheating on me, lying daily, leading a secret life and breaking up our family.” How true is that! They did everything, but we get the crap while they get to mosey on through life without a care in the world. “Like your STBX, my ex acts like he has done nothing wrong. And as long as he suffers no consequences when it comes to the love of his daughter, he’s all good. He performs the role of Super Fun Happy Awesome Dad.” And it’s tough to watch him strut around like nothing has changed, that he didn’t throw away his family for a white trash skank, that he didn’t leave utter destruction in the wake of his walk over the rainbow to the OW. That really is a bitter pill for me to swallow right now. Why should they be rewarded? Why should we get the shit? I do understand that the kids have every right to have a relationship with him, he still is their Dad (albeit a sucky one). But I would absolutely gloat (to myself, lol) if the kids suddenly want nothing to do with him!

  • Summergirl, always remember that sometimes we need to remove ourselves from a situation to protect ourselves. You did this by divorcing your ex. YOU come first, even ahead of your son’s wishes to be friends with his dad. We are talking about your emotional health here. Becoming friends with a cheater ex is like choosing to walk at night in a dark alley compared to walking in a well-lit sidewalk with lots of people around. Why choose self-harm? Tracy and fellow chumps have posted wonderful advice here that will propel you to continue your journey to become emotionally healthy. And this journey does not include your ex.

  • Summergirl, honesty is the only way to deal with your son’s requests to “be friends.” Why on earth would you want a friend who hurt you so badly?

    According to my son, his father and his father’s bimbo’s x-husband are best buddies now. Apparently in Clusterfuckdale, all men bond after they’ve bagged the town whore.

    Even my sons know that’s fucked up.

    • ChutesandLadders, this is f’in hysterical. and yes, SandyR and Rally Squirrel. I know that feeling.

    • I should have used quotation marks around the word “men.” Real men don’t fuck around, steal from their family then lie about it.

  • Summer Girl,
    I wonder if it’s an age thing. My cheating ex has two Wonderful kids. I met the son when he was 7. His mother was and is a complete crazy PD person who caused a lot of drama including scenes at the kids’ school. He kept still kind of expecting that we were all going to become a blended family until his dad and I both separately had a pretty frank talk about it. He seemed fine for about a year and a half but once he hit 10 he started to challenge it all of the time again. Sometimes I think he was getting old enough that part of him knew he had to grow up, but part of him really really wanted to hold onto an old way of viewing the world. It’s a sort of cognitive dissonance. CL is right that it’s important to tell it like it is and hopefully your son will grow out of it. On the other hand once kids hit 12 or 13 they start to recognize and really dislike inconsistency and hypocrisy. So whatever you do, be the one with integrity and follow through. It may make you the less fun parent but in the end your kid will respect you.

    Sorry that you’re having to deal with this. Sadly I’m sure that fun household with your ex’s live in gf is going to implode at some point anyway.

  • Great answer CL!! Even the NAME “Gwyneth” calls up images of a creature so refined and above reproach that she should be carried around above the filthy ground the rest of us walk on atop a fringed pillow carried by the hired help.
    I have not heard of “Consciously Uncoupling.”
    However, I have heard of & actually tried “unconsciously uncoupling” which involves Valium, Xanax & shots of vodka, but I don’t recommend it!

    • Stole this from somebody else on CNN’s comments:

      I often ruminate on the phrase “conscious uncoupling” whilst playing the
      eoliphone, which, as everyone knows, was used in Ravel’s ‘Daphnis and Chloë’
      and Messian’s ‘Des Canyons aux Etoiles.’ Sometimes I play it while I’m making
      my famous detox teriyaki salad with miso-nettle dressing, or while I’m changing
      into my favorite Balenciaga knee-length dress while going to the opening of this great new restaurant on East 54th Street.

      But really, playing an instrument is about nourishing my inner aspect, don’t you
      agree? I mean, sometimes, after a long day of getting the nanny to look after
      my kids, my agent to deal with Sam Mendes, my kitchen staff to fold the
      napkins, and my environmentalist to mix my face cream, my life is good because
      I invest in what is real. I love being. There’s so much wisdom in it. You wake
      up and you think, Hey, isn’t it great just being? Oh, there is so much everyone
      can learn from meeee about what it means to love and to give!

  • Isn’t “conscious uncoupling” what cheaters do? Cheaters KNOW they’re married/unavailable (they’re “conscious” ), but want to date/hook up/get a piece of strange with someone NOT their spouse/significant other (the “uncoupling”).

    My xH “consciously uncoupled” with me when he told me he had a teacher training meeting so he’d be gone all day but instead went to the OW’s apartment and had sex with her for her 20th birthday.

    Or rather, he consciously copulated while I was unconsciously uncoupled, because I had no idea what was going on.

  • Talking about celebs marriage train smashes. Funny how when Weng is out of the picture Lachlan Murdoch returns to the helm of News Corp- is it because Dad is rid of the step mum????

  • SummerGirl,

    I tried being “friends” with my STBX for several reasons, but there were two main reasons: (1) When my parents separated (and they were separated for about 15 or 16 years before my father eventually sought a divorce to marry the Swamp Wife from Hell) they remained friendly and, for the most part, congenial, thus being what was probably an unrealistic example of life after separation and eventually divorce, and (2) I mistakenly thought to continue the “Your father isn’t really an asshole” image management I had perpetrated throughout the marriage.

    WTFever! You cannot be “friends” with a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-serving narcissistic pig-beast. You simply end up facilitating and being a co-conspirator in your continued abuse. I learned it the hard way with my last lesson being just a week ago. STBX was going to end up spending his birthday alone as the Minister of Whoredom had not made it to town yet, and his scheduled trip isn’t for another couple of weeks. Chumpy Chump that I am, I felt bad about anyone spending their birthday alone, so our oldest daughter and I took him to a great restaurant for his birthday. He seemed really pleased and couldn’t thank me enough and thanked me for being his friend. Fast forward three days, and he was once again acting like a total freak of nature because the Minister of Whoredom was in town. When he began complaining about the expense my youngest daughter was causing by graduating from college, while happily paying to go visit the Minister of Whoredom and shopping for an engagement ring at an exclusive jewelry store, and planning this trip during the week our first grandchild is due to be born, I realized that he was so toxic that instead of taking him to a restaurant, I should have dumped him in a radioactive container for his birthday.

    I have refused to speak to him since. He has texted me today (she has probably returned to the wormhole from which she crawled) and I have ignored him.

    With all due respect to your son, give him the gift of not demeaning his father to him, but explain to him that when a trust is betrayed, you cannot be friends with that person. There are plenty of fables out there about loyalty, trust and betrayal and how lack of loyalty and trust makes it impossible to be friends with someone.

    I hate that these lying, thoughtless sacks of shit put us in this position. We can only navigate it as best we can. (((HUGS))) (HUGS)))

    • CP, I’m sorry that you slipped back into thinking your ex was a human being who deserved a little compassion. You did for him what you would do even for a stranger! Perfect example of the saying ‘no good deed will go unpunished’!

      Unfortunately, he’s not actually a human being, ‘just a selfish, self-absorbed, self-centered, self-serving narcissistic pig-beast’. Try try try to keep that in the front of your mind! I know it’s hard, I made that same slip so many times …

  • Thanks, SummerGirl, for raising this issue, and thanks CL, for responding in such a timely, bang-on way. Love love LOVE your writing. I’m just so glad to have found this forum. Reading through all these posts has been illuminating, reassuring, and galvanizing. Wow. Just, wow.

    Since I’m new here, I don’t know if there have been other posts about what and how to disclose to kids. As the child of divorced parents (they split when I was 8), I grew up hearing my mom constantly trash-talk my dad, which effectively killed the relationship I had with him, and I swore if I ever got divorced, I’d never do that (which I did, and I didn’t). Now here I am in a much messier situation, as my divorce didn’t involve cheating. My girls are 12 and 15, and our situation was so complex that any one of the umpteen factors we had going on would’ve been in itself enough to derail a relationship. It’s like, pick a dynamic, any dynamic. Blended family issues, widower issues, terminal illness issues, addiction issues, cheating issues, etc. etc. As far as they know, Mum just wasn’t happy (nor were they, really), and Mum didn’t feel respected, valued or represented. Despite all the upheaval, we honestly are happier and healthier in our own place, but they don’t know about his emotional affair (I still don’t know if that’s all it was) or his porn addiction. His rampant, chronic porn addiction. What, if anything, do I tell them? What, if anything, do I tell my remaining stepdaughter? As far as she knows, I just abandoned her a month before her older sister died.

    • FoolMe, it does sound like you need to talk to all three of your girls some about what actually happened. You can explain that the affair (you can say that you’re not sure whether it was physical as well as emotional, but that both are wrong) and the porn addiction were the decisive factors, and that they know you were not happy even prior to those discoveries. Try to keep it short and matter-of-fact, but explain that you’re telling them because they have the right to know what happened.

      And your stepdaughter SUPER needs to know, and needs to know you want to stay in touch with her and that you feel awful that all this came down at a time when she needed her family to be stable and caring.

      Then let them ask about anything they want, and let them know you will answer any questions they have, in future.

      Kids KNOW when there’s crap going on, and they need the basic info, so that they know where the ground under their feet is! If they seem to be struggling, get them a therapist – having someone outside the family to talk to can be a huge help!

  • SummerGirl, my kids, 11 and 12 at the time of our separation, figured their dad’s character out over the year following; he showed them who he is, very clearly (although they had some idea of the negative and selfish parts, well before). The result is that they started refusing to have anything to do with him, and now see him once a month for dinner, that’s it that’s all. (And they only do that because they don’t want their dad trying to get a custody case into court, and because the family therapist they saw with their dad insisted.)

    Even so, they don’t want to hear me complain about their dad. If he e-mails or texts and I’m exasperated, our daughter will ask what it’s about, and likes that I explain it (she HATES the idea that anything is happening that she doesn’t know about, since that kind of thing turned her life upside down). But no further than that, and no off-hand comments about what a jerk he is or anything like that.

    I realized that they just don’t want any drama (that they’re not generating themselves; living w/a 12 year old girl is a roller-coaster all it’s own!). They need things to be peaceful, and they NEED to know that I’m fundamentally OK. SO as much as I possibly can, I provide that. In the first months I made it clear that I would be polite to their father, no more than that, and although at that point disappointed that we couldn’t all still look like one big happy family at birthday’s etc, they accepted it just fine.

    I wonder if it might be helpful to ask your son what he’s imagining your ‘being friends’ would be like? What kinds of changes in your or his dad’s behaviour is he looking for? How would he feel better if things were that way? That would give you a better idea of where he’s coming from, whether he’s really expressing an unrealistic idea of how things can be, and needs support to accept that, or what might make him feel more comfortable (WITHOUT your being ‘friends’ with someone who has proven that he has NO idea what friendship is).

    • You’re so right, Karen – it’s the drama they don’t want/need.

      Those are good questions. I’ll ask him if it comes up again – I really like that approach.

      Thank you for the guidance. I’ve got so much from the answers here (and CL not only nailed her response – as always – but added the Goop angle, which cracked me up)! What an amazing bunch we are. What utter fools our exes are!!!

  • KarenE, its really sad when the cheating parent choses to spend less time with the kids. It’s partial abandonment which has a huge impact on children now and later.

    Groceries has gone from being very involved with the boys to have them stay maybe 50-60 nights a year. She puts chainsaw man before them and they know that. However they still love their mother but understand what happened. They know the truth and are empowered to make their own choices and install their own boundaries.

    They would love us all to talk etc but they realise the massive devastation created by inappropriate behaviour lies ( including directly to them on several occasions ) betrayal and narcissist self entitlement.

    As an example Groceries and chainsaw man have spent 2 x one week vacations in New Zealand and one week at port Douglas in northern Queensland in the last 12 months.
    She has taken the boys to the movies twice. That’s it.
    The boys have spent one complete weekend with her in the last 12 months.

    All our kids will form their own views based on our actions.
    It not up to us to try and change the cheaters. We can’t.

    Groceries said a few months ago that I was responsible to ensure the boys stay with her and chainsaw man. They just feel so entitled. We just need to steer clear of them

    • Entitlement is totally what this is about, Baci! My ex didn’t even ask for 50-50 shared custody (which is totally the default here, and what the kids have seen all their divorced-parent friends do). I suggested alternate weekends, plus 2 evenings a week with him (when I usually worked), supper and some homework with dad. He accepted that right away, but specified ‘weekend’ would mean from Saturday lunchtime to Sunday around 7 pm (his work priorities, right?). He planned a vacation to somewhere the kids had long ago told him they didn’t want to go – so he went anyway, with his girlfriend, took no vacation with them. He wanted them to come stay with him for a week on their summer vacation – to go to a day camp while he worked! He cancelled weekends with them to travel with the OW. Then after 8 months or so, he accepted a project out of town that would have him seeing the kids only on alternating weekends for a YEAR!!!! Didn’t even talk to the kids about this change, how they could stay in touch etc.

      The kids adapted to that, started talking about their dad as the ‘provider father’ whose main job is to make the cash and take care of the kids financially, and as the ‘uncle dad’ who they would see ocassionally and have fun with, but who wouldn’t in any way have an actual parenting role in their lives. During the time he was out of town, the kids also figured out the cheating (I hadn’t revealed that to them earlier – no CL when we were separating!), and he lied to them about that.

      Then the project ended early, and the ex was back in town and wanted the kids back to their prior routine. They refused, he demanded, whined, ranted and raved, everything deteriorated. Of course, he then demanded that I fix all this, somehow magically ‘make’ them want to spend time with him, explain to the kids that cheating is not a big deal, that he’s actually a good dad, that his neglectful behaviour wasn’t actually neglectful etc ….

      Our son defined it very well; ‘dad misses us when HE’s lonely’. They see who he is clearly now, and if it were up to them entirely, would have nothing to do with him. As it is, one dinner out w/him a month. (Fortunately, here in Quebec, from age 12 a judge will pretty much let a kid determine how much time they spend with which parent, and from age 14, the kid has total liberty to choose. Not that the ex knows that, he’s never even checked out what his rights and responsibilities are.)

      Entitlement, entitlement, entitlement! Neglect and abandonment of their kids, then they’re pissed when they’re not getting what THEY want when THEY want it. Assholes.

    • That’s so sad for the kids.

      How does she possibly think that you can make the kids like her if she doesn’t spend time with them?

      • Diana L, you’re thinking like a reasonable person, there! What can you be imagining????

        These narcs want what they want when they want it, without any effort on their part. And when what they want changes, well, they should get the new thing they want! Thinking about how to maintain a relationship with their kids includes not one but two things narcs are really bad at; a) considering what someone else might want or need from them, and b) considering that there might be consequences to their own behaviour. Ain’t gonna happen. That’s why they so often do get hit by the karma bus ….

  • Conscious uncoupling= 1. A term for a person who knowingly screws someone else as to cause his/her marriage/relationship to fail. New word salad challenge!
    Summergirl, chumps have great imaginations. Happy, happy, happy is WHAT it SEEMS. Reality it is not. What’s great about Karma is that it is playing out right now. Think back to what your marriage was like. Good days, bad. Now how’s that play out with two disordered fucks? Just saying.
    As to the kid thing they go through stages too. Be the sane parent. Be consistent. Model truth, honesty, and integrity. Betrayal hurts, remind your children that you are allowed to heal in your own time and that you are able to deal with your feelings because you grew up. Life is not always about being happy. Remind your children that we all need to take care of ourselves and show them what that looks like. Developmentally, all children (even adolescents c. 11-age 25!) life revolves around them. Balance and a quiet house speak to a life lived with intentionality, respect, and love. We don’t NEED the CIRCUS(aka Drama). It doesn’t mean life is better with things and their false busy-ness usually means escape. Not such a great way to nurture a relationship. You are always running away; Isn’t that WHAT our exes did? Chumps, you have always known how to do it. So, just do it. ((Hugs)) to those who are just beginning their journey.

  • Time Magazine has paid us all the courtesy of providing a translation of essential terms so that we don’t have to spends hundreds or thousands of dollars on online coaching and “teleseries” (videos that suck money out of your bank account) or whisk ourselves off to spiritual retreats in Sedonia in order to learn the language the way Goop has learned that *special* language.

    “Time Managed Co-Parenting” = Joint custody

    “Compassionate Post-Conscious-Uncoupling Resource Distribution” = Alimony

    “Toxin” = Candy

    “Youthful Journey-Finding” = When daughter Apple says “I want to go to Dad’s house where there’s candy!”

    “Maintaining Post-Pleasure Tranquility” = Making sure new boyfriend sneaks out before kids wake up

    “Embracing Joyous Change” = Introducing kids to new boyfriend

    “Accepting a New Element” = Introducing kids to dad’s new girlfriend

    “Intergenerational Quality Time for Love and Learning” = When Grandma comes to stay for two weeks so you can go to Fiji with new boyfriend

    “Tolerating the Expansion of Horizons” = When dad’s new girlfriend gives Moses a pack of Twizzlers

    “A Communal Tranquility Event” = When all four parents and step-parents are at the school play

    • OK, Mystery Solved (just kidding): GP is a clarinet and CM is a saxophone.

      PALTROW: You know what, Terry? I never thought about that, but it kind of is! Say I am a saxophone, and my estranged husband is a clar— Wait. You know, Terry, I think I’d like to be the clarinet. So I am the clarinet, and I have my solo for a while. ,b> My voice has to be heard, Terry. That is crucial. And then, of course, the saxophone wants its turn to speak, which is only fair, but it must wait for the clarinet to finish . And then the saxophone gets to have its turn. Of course, the clarinet has a more elegant, refined sound than the saxophone, and for that reason it might just organically end up taking a little more time.

      And this is why you can’t “be friends” (Friendly, yes. Civil, yes. Friends, no): you’re just an unrefined saxophone, and clarinets just “organically end up taking more time”, and probably interfering with your future brass section (future relationships).

  • “With all due respect to your son, give him the gift of not demeaning his father to him, but explain to him that when a trust is betrayed, you cannot be friends with that person. There are plenty of fables out there about loyalty, trust and betrayal and how lack of loyalty and trust makes it impossible to be friends with someone.”
    Great advice from Chump Princess. Also some great stuff up there from KarenE in several posts.
    In my situation, I have found that by treating my x “on the kind side of neutral” has worked to my benefit and to his detriment. This is certainly not at the level of friend, but I would say a step up from cordial. I didn’t start treating him this way out of love and forgiveness. It was really because of the kids. I realized that even when I didn’t say anything, they could sense my tension towards their dad. They could pick up on the slightest ANYTHING. And when they sensed my resentment/anger/hurt/whatever toward their dad, they moved to defend him/justify him/etc. But I found that when I was “consciously kind” to him, they were no longer concerned about “defending him” and they could see him more clearly for what he is. Now, being kind didn’t mean covering for him, being sugary sweet to him, hanging out with him, speaking for him, going out of my way to be with him, etc. What it did mean was: NO snarky comments or tone of voice. Inviting him to stay for dinner if he was dropping off the kids at dinner time. (this was something the kids wanted him to do.) Letting him in the house to hang out with the kids in their rooms to see all their new toys Santa brought. Inviting him to the kids birthday parties (yet another thing that was very important to the kids) even though it meant my husband and I were completely ignored b/c the kids clung to “Daddy.” Saving him a seat and/or sitting with or near him sometimes at school events/recitals/ballgames/etc. Inviting his new son (the one with the new wife/former other woman) into our home to play with my kids or to come to my kids parties/events. My husband invited my ex to co-coach little league baseball with him for our son’s team. Now, I don’t recommend this to everyone and it can’t work for folks who are escaping an abusive relationship. But it has worked beautifully for us. Are we friends? Never. Friendly? Yes!!!!!!

    • DeltaGirl, sounds like your ex must be relatively reasonable. ANY contact my ex has with me, even if it’s supposed to be entirely about the kids, turns into being about him, and his attempts to get me back into providing kibbles for him in one form or another. Blergh. Then if he sees I’m not providing, I get the nasty accusations and hassle …

      • Yes, KarenE, I understand. My sister and my best friend have x’s in this category. No contact is best for them. But my strategy could still be adapted within the home when communicating with the kids about their plans with their other parent, even if a person is no contact with the x. It’s not really about having a friendly relationship with the X so much as it is about making sure my children don’t feel extra stressed out about their parents or guilty about wanting to spend time with both parents. It serves to help the kids feel the don’t “have to choose” or feel stressed out or guilty for loving the other parent. Also, I wanted to put out there for this group an example of this approach and how it can work and in fact HAS worked for us. It’s not so much me trying to be friendly with their dad, as it is I have moved on with my life and where our lives overlap (drop offs, pick ups, kids ballgames and events) I want that to go super smooth for the kids. The beauty of it is the kids are able to see him more clearly for the liar and the cheater and sloth that he actually is. This is because they feel free to be in relationship with him. They don’t have to put any energy into justifying their feelings for the other parent. They also are able to compare their experience with him to their experience in my home. When they see that I (and my new husband) are rock solid, drama free, they can easily see who IS breaking promises, who IS creating drama, who IS not putting family first, etc. (and it’s not us). Last, I didn’t get to this “friendly” stage right away. It took two years or so for me to feel less fragile and more able to interact. Prior to that I was on the terse side of cordial and rare contact.

        • I absolutely agree that whenever possible, it’s best to do that; ‘making sure my children don’t feel extra stressed out about their parents or guilty about wanting to spend time with both parents ‘ That’s totally how I handled it (kids didn’t even know about the cheating for a year – our daughter figured that out on her own, and boy was she PISSED that I hadn’t told them!), and it was the ex all by himself who destroyed his relationship with them over the year or so following our separation. But I still can’t see getting to cordial unless the ex moves on in his life; he’s still so fixated on getting me to respond to him personally in ANY way, almost 2 years post DDay #2/my kicking him out. Maybe it’s a good sign that his attempts are getting less frequent ….

  • You can also apologize to your son whenever a snarky remark slips through. Just acknowledging that you shouldn’t have done it goes a long way.

  • Just wanted to quickly mention this letter is from a different SummerGirl than has posted in the past… 🙂 I’m the one who was married 25+ years who started posting with the muggy resentment last year, and had the letter about the crazy now ex who wants me to chat with his new woman…just wanted to clear up any confusion on that.

    So sorry for the pain of this situation with your son, it literally hurts to read. Stay honest, patient and loving with your son, and with yourself. He’s got a great mom and he will understand the truth about his dad someday. Hang in there, it does get better down the road.

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