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Dear Chump Lady, He never told his adult kids their mom cheated

Dear Chump Lady,

While I am all for remaining gracious in the face of a cheater spouse, at what point is it acceptable to inform adult children of their parent’s infidelity?

I am twice chumped, and am dating a fellow chump.

He is a man of integrity, at least so far, but he has this thing about never criticizing the mother to the kids. His wife cheated 13 years ago when their youngest child was six. He divorced her, but has had frequent but not friendly contact over the years because of shared custody. Now the youngest, a girl, is nearly 20 and finishing university. The sale of the marital home, as dictated in the divorce agreement is about to happen. The Ex has enjoyed 13 years in a million dollar home without paying rent, and now has to face reality. She is no doubt pretty fearful of her impending downgrade and this, I believe, has triggered some venom. Daughter lives with her own boyfriend, so housing children is no longer an issue.

The 20-year-old daughter recently tore into her father, saying he was a bad father for having left her mother way back when. She called him selfish. This is after years of paying her generous support, funding elite sports training for her, travelling all over the world with her to attend sports competitions, and generally being as good a father as possible. He is extremely passive and rarely gets into discussions about anything controversial.

The ex wife moved her tennis coach lover into the marital home, despite it being contrary to the terms of the divorce. The daughter lived with that guy in the house as a child — how could she not realise the truth?

My opinion is that father should go on the offensive and simply tell the daughter the whole truth. There was evidence collected by a PI, and the tennis coach was named as correspondant in the divorce. I think this is a classic case of a cheater lying out of spite or whatever, but it has poisoned the daughter’s attitude and Dad is devastated. He loves his daughter so much and it breaks his heart to be losing her respect.

I know I should keep my opinion to myself, but I am losing respect for this guy because he won’t stand up for himself. He needs some major chump support. I’d like to be his partner some day, but until he gets some balls and deals with the crazies, I feel stuck.

Thanks, any opinion appreciated.


Dear Marci,

Unfortunately your boyfriend didn’t write to me, you did. I’d love to give you the magic spell that makes people find their balls, but I don’t have it. We don’t control other people. So my question to you is — do you want to continue to date a guy who is “extremely passive” and whom you are losing respect for?

You could tell him his passivity and unwillingness to defend himself is a turn off, and you’re losing respect for him. That’s one approach. (Being the unsubtle, bucket-of-cold-water that I am, it’s probably where I would go.) Or you could untangle his skein a bit because you care for him.

“Sweetheart, what is preventing you from telling your daughter  the truth about why the marriage ended?”

I suspect you’ll get one of several answers.

1) I don’t want to bad mouth her mother. Some chumps are so mindfucked they think telling the truth is “bad mouthing.” No, what the cheater did was bad. Speaking of it, is just telling the truth. Chumps like this are still carrying the shame. They’re still buying into their role of being the narcissist’s PR agent, you know, “we’re good people who grew apart.” They allow this shit sandwich, because they’re ashamed of being chumps. Rather that shit sandwich than people know he was cheated on, and what kind of Terrible Husband Must He Have Been for her to do that?

Chumps who feel that way often also have the idiotic idea that They Will Be Above It, and nobly face the slings and arrows of the cheater’s bad opinion for the sake of the children. There is some merit to this idea AFTER YOU TOLD THE TRUTH. What makes it idiotic is taking the high road, when no one has any idea what the road is. It’s one thing to take the high road after you’ve been chumped and everyone knows the cheater cheated. It’s another to wage some silent campaign and let the cheater’s narrative go unchallenged. “I won’t dignify that with a response” will be taken as “you’re guilty” of whatever the cheater’s allege.

Chumps — RESPOND.

As I advise over and over and over again here — tell children the truth as soon as possible. (Okay this guy is 13 years too late, but better late than never.) Do not editorialize. “Mom is a slut.” But simply state the facts. “We divorced because your mom was having an affair with Mr. Tennis Coach. She refused to end the affair, so I left.”

Stating the FACTS is not bad mouthing. “Mom is a slut” is bad mouthing. If your kids want to infer “mom is a slut” from “mom cheated with the tennis coach” that is their call. Because cheaters know that is the natural inference, they are desperate to control the narrative and shut the chump up.

Worked for her. This guy is still a chump.

2) He thinks deep down he was selfish for leaving. The Achilles heel of every father of divorce. The daughter played it nicely. It doesn’t matter how horrible the situation, the faithful dad is going to wonder if he couldn’t have kept his family together and toughed it out for the sake of the kids. It will kill him that he put his sanity and well-being ahead and saved himself — so he cops to “selfish.” He believes he was selfish to leave a cheater. He thinks at some level he could’ve prevented this outcome, or been a better husband so she did not cheat. He feels responsible for the cheater’s fuckupedness. So he’ll “make up” for his inadequacies by being financially generous.

He doesn’t realize that leaving an abusive situation was a healthy choice not a selfish one. That her cheating had NOTHING to do with him.

Someone should’ve told him 13 years ago to focus on being the best dad he can be, and let his kids know the divorce had nothing to do with them. He didn’t want to leave them, he just could not stay in a marriage where he was being abused and cuckolded.

3) He doesn’t see the point in defending himself, the mother controls the narrative, why fight it? He’s given up before he’s ever begun. He may feel 13 years later, it’s too late. He may feel that the mother “won” the kids and all his financing of the elite sporting events was for naught — they still don’t respect him.

They don’t respect him, and that’s not just because the mother is a Queen Cheater Bitch. It’s because he doesn’t respect himself. He allowed this narrative to stand and he was too passive in the face of it all to muster up the emotional wherewithal to challenge it — and this is what he gets. A spoiled, angry daughter who thinks it is All His Fault.

Marci — time to figure out where his chumpiness is coming from, so you can make an informed decision about the relationship. It’s one thing to date a former chump — but they have to be REFORMED. You don’t want to take all that spackle, hopium, and denial into your future relationships. It seems like this guy got stuck at chump and he’s made a temporary condition a permanent one.

Ask him what kind of chump he wants to be — a former chump? Or a chump in perpetuity? It’s long past time for him to stick up for himself.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Marci, I don’t have experience with this (telling 13 years later), but I am thinking this unpleasant situation actually opens a good window of opportunity for him. I’m thinking of some chumps who’ve posted to say they didn’t tell their kids at first, and now don’t know how to bring it up. Well, he can sit his daughter down and say, “I didn’t tell you the whole story when this happened, because you were so young. But now that you are an adult, you deserve to know the full truth.” And present the evidence. This is a win because it implicitly honors the daughter’s newly-claimed independence, and also shows the cost of having such freedoms (must face adult truths – and people who don’t face them, like EW, pay consequences).

    But I agree with Tracy that you can only offer this to him (and maybe only once), then you’ll just have to draw boundaries for yourself. I do think that having a passive partner does not sound pleasant. We’ve all been there, so give him a chance to recover, but I wouldn’t just be willing to put up with this forever. (Imagine: what if you ever needed him to go to bat for you?)

    • I agree with you 100%. We’ve all been through enough drama. If she cares for him, give him a chance to change. If he just can’t/won’t, I’d move on.

  • Good post, CL! Love the point of how it is not taking the high road if no one knows the road exists. It is so easy to buy the lie that one is punishing the cheater by telling the truth. If they didn’t want the consequences of cheating, then they shouldn’t have cheated. Just saying the truth is actually the kind thing for all. Cheatets and kids need to know the reality….chumps, too.

    • FSA, for years I kept my mouth shut because it was “un-Christian” to tell. I truly believed it was wrong to tell. Now, I don’t. The truth about cheating needs to be out there. I have been pleasantly surprised how practically everyone who knows he cheated agrees that his behavior is deplorable.

    • I think the most important thing I’ve learned from being betrayed is how important it is to tell the truth, from the beginning, while respecting the boundaries of other people. Cheaters expect people to live their lies–for Chumps to live with the cheating or hide the cheating from others, including the kids. Telling the truth frees the chump and the kids to live authentic lives and to make decisions about where to draw boundaries with the cheater.

      My guess is that in this Chump’s case, the daughter has picked up on the cheater mother’s disrespect of the Chump and learned how to use and abuse others for her own needs. It’s never to late to change the narrative. But this situation is a great example of why it is important to pay attention to all of the ways cheaters manipulate chumps into going along with their distorted reality.

  • Now he’s letting his daughter abuse him.

    Not a good sign. I like Tracy’s tack of asking him to consider what is motivating him, rather than berating him or telling him he must tell his daughter.

    I don’t trust men who lack spines. Passive leads to passive-aggressive. You are always going to have conflict with the daughter. Do you want that in your life? In my experience, passive men often choose women who will carry their balls for them. Some women like conflict, and are happy to stand up to the passive guy’s mother, ex, daughter, business partner, neighbor, etc. so that the passive guy doesn’t have to. If you’re happy in a role like that, then so be it. It could actually be a match. Just see it for what it is. This spite coming from the ex? It has to go somewhere. He was happy to let an abusive cheater push him out of his own home, and let her stay there with her moocher (how attractive!) boyfriend. That’s some serious passivity. The ex is very entitled, and she will not go down without a fight. Are you interested in fighting for him? Because it’s clear that he will not stand up and take charge of his own life.


    Hah–and if there’s ONE thing that being a chump should teach us? DO NOT think he will change. What you see is what you get, but you must open your eyes and see him for who he REALLY is, not for what you want him to be. (Sound familiar??)

    • You got it, Miss Sunshine. I had a passive guy who was extremely conflict avoidant that he solved his major challenges by cheating. Wife pregnant? Whoa, I’m not ready to be a father yet, maybe cheating will make me feel better. Having marital issues? I bet a little cheating on the side will make me feel better. Having major issues with a close relative? Why not cheat? That seemed to always help me forget my problems. You know the drill. Will he change? Nope, unless he wants to change AND seeks help AND do the work. Good intentions to change are just that … intentions.

      • Same here. Ex was absolutely passive and conflict avoid ant and could never deal with anything straight on. He still can’t. Still lies. Still avoids dealing with shit. My honest reaction to the OP is to give him your advice on how to deal with things and consider if you want to be with someone who is unable to stand up for himself in what appears most ways.

    • Marci,

      Miss Sunshine is right. People get chumped primarily because they don’t know how to be appropriately assertive, and your reservations about being able to adequately respect this man are going to be key in how this relationship turns out.

      You already know that you can’t fight his battles for him or get him to fight his own battles in the way that you would fight least not without evolving into someone you aren’t going to like.

      Taking up a crusade for him would be just another way of subverting you own identity, and the surest way to lose our own identity is to try to live another individual’s life for him. That sounds convoluted, but ponder it for awhile.

      Passive dependent personalities can bring out the “controller” in more assertive personalities. Is this what you wish to become? Since you have also been chumped, I don’t think you need reminding that taking on the job of doing someone else’s emotional “heavy lifting” doesn’t work.

      At face value, the facts you relate indicate that he enabled the mother to continue in her narcissism and also to create a mini-version of herself. Chumps are notorious for enabling narcs (in the name of love or decency or honor) as this site hammers home daily, but chumpdom can also be inverse narcissism. Martyrdom is a very potent form of control and manipulation, as it provides that sense of moral or ethical “superiority” for the chump. Again, ponder that for awhile….

      For the pathologically passive it is much easier to perpetually “put on the good face” and/or throw money at a problem rather than practicing introspection and becoming healthily assertive. IMO, what conflict avoidant/passive people fear most is FEAR itself. They haven’t ever learned to sit with their fears and emotional pains and discover that neither of these kill us but instead are simply warning signals that we need to change our methods of problem solving in the emotional arena.

      This man probably needs serious personality work with a highly competent therapist, but he has to discover this and act on it. He may never change his coping mechanisms unless he experiences a major epiphany that blasts him out of his comfort (or perhaps more aptly his discomfort) zone. You must decide if you can live peacefully with how he copes.

      Keeping in mind that none of us is perfect, try taking an inventory (as objectively as possible) of all his redeeming qualities balanced against his dysfunctions. Next take a good objective inventory of self and how much uncertainty and disappointment that you can tolerate with equanimity while not losing your own joy. Then try to hypothesize outcomes. Just as in financial investing, there are ‘opportunity costs’ in emotional investing. How much uncertainty can you tolerate, and will the “return” on your investment be worth the cost of other opportunities? Only you can make this decision.

      I’m not saying you couldn’t try to gently and very subtly nudge him to examine his extreme passivity; but if you do, be most careful. Should he feel coerced, I suspect he will (as Miss Sunshine implied) default to PA behavior as a defense mechanism…and the circus will commence.

      I am proud of you for seeing the red flags and recognizing potential pitfalls. This situation is a sticky wicket and not one that I envy you. Good luck.

      • “Martyrdom is a very potent form of control and manipulation, as it provides that sense of moral or ethical “superiority” for the chump. ”

        Such a great insight. I wore my false sense of superiority with pride. Makes me laugh at myself now.

        • Yes, notyou. I find it very helpful how you show us as Chumps how to fix or subtly adjust our pickers by pointing out (as my therapist does) what we “get” when we get involved with a narcissist or a passive person. You write, “The surest way to lose our own identity is to try to live another individual’s life for him. That sounds convoluted, but ponder it for awhile.” And I can say that is absolutely true. The “gain a life” idea is not just about “losing” a cheater (as a person in your life), but also as gaining a life that is not at all dependent on fixing the feelings or meeting the needs of others instead of living our own lives in relation to others (which sounds convoluted, too). So thanks. That line goes into my CL wisdom file.

          • Thanks LAJ. 🙂

            It’ so logical when you think about it isn’t it?

            We absolutely cannot live another’s life for them. But observe how we tend to slide into that with our children. Running interference for them and solving their problems for them.

            And with respect to children and their development of responsibility, which is the foundation of character….

            It is the hardest thing in the world (especially with someone we love) to stop our wagging fingers and wagging tongues, to step back and

            (1) let them face natural consequences that are not life threatening and have small price tags

            (2) put the problem back on their shoulders and require that they solve their problem in a way that doesn’t hurt anybody else in the world before they can go back to “the scene of the crime.”

            (3) and when they DO solve their problem in a win-win way, praise them in a very special way: NOT “I am proud of you.” (which encourages them to need external validation) but INSTEAD “I’ll bet you feel good about yourself for finding this great solution to your problem (which encourages them to develop character and to internally validate themselves for doing the right thing).

            It’s a simple concept that works, but is hard as hell to do. But character development begins in early childhood.

            There was a side discussion on this forum the other day about how children and teens are pretty much naturally entitled, self-centered and shallow.

            I don’t totally adhere to that. I’ve seen too many children and teens who DO exercise respect for authority, courtesy, empathy, consideration, and who definitely are not shallow. Without exception these children are excellent problem solvers because they have had years of do-it-yourself experience combined with adult guidance that cleverly steers them in the right direction but does NOT take over the problem solving process for them.

            It all goes back to parents teaching age appropriate responsibility with age appropriate lessons and mild natural consequences CONSISTENTLY… throughout the child’s developmental years.

            Best way to cure a narcissist? Don’t raise one.

            • Oh, and there is a special technique for putting that problem back on the child’s shoulders while teaching them empathy at the same time.

              YOU must show empathy while unloading the problem onto the one who created it.

              “Ohhh, wow, that IS a bummer! So what are YOU going to do?”

              [I don’t know]

              ” Well that’s sad not to know. Would you like to hear what some other children have done?”

              [I guess so]

              At which point you suggest three kind of solutions ONE AT A TIME: Good. Better. & Best. (Because the child most often is automatically going to dismiss out of hand the first solution you suggest, you engineer the choices to escalate in effectiveness.)

              Once a child grasps the concept that improving his own behavior is a problem solving exercise, s/he will begin to generate better solutions on his own.

              I can recommend some most excellent resources for parents here who want to raise responsible, confident, appropriately assertive children.

            • Love this distinction–good for teachers too: “NOT “I am proud of you.” (which encourages them to need external validation) but INSTEAD “I’ll bet you feel good about yourself for finding this great solution to your problem” (which encourages them to develop character and to internally validate themselves for doing the right thing).

        • Ali,

          I don’t always get rave reviews when I make that statement on here, but sadly it is often true.

          When chumps are in neck deep in the trauma of having been cheated, it’s hard for them to understand that while they aren’t responsible for the cheater’s infidelity, they also (in hopes that an asshole would have empathy and change) employed the “victim” status and perpetuated a situation in which they allowed the cheater to believe s/he could skip over boundaries and never face serious and attention getting consequences.

          Whether we like it or not, we DO teach people how they can treat us. To use a poker metaphor, “When someone wrongly reaches for your chips, you need to cut their hand off at the wrist immediately or they WILL do it again.”

          For first time egregious offenses there should be immediate and painful consequences (aka traumatic one-trial learning) other wise the “student” doesn’t learn the lesson. Probably would save a lot more marriages.

          Unfortunately so many chumps don’t come to this realization until they have endured years upon years of intolerable treatment…believing that they have taken the HIGH road. Then when the chump finally pulls the plug, the chump-er cries, “WTF?”…and predictably so! The chump-er has been effectively taught that s/he will not be asked to assume appropriate responsibility.

          Better late than never for plug pulling though!

          You’ve apparently come a long way.

          Good for you. 🙂

          • Notyou, I really value your writings. They have helped me more than you could know.

            • Speaking for myself, I think it is tough for people who are on the ground and bleeding to sort out the differences between (1) being told by the cheater that the cheating is the chump’s fault and (2) looking for their own patterns in order to figure out what attracted us to or kept us with a cheater and con artist in the first place. Once the worst of the pain is over, I was able to start seeing the cheater more clearly but more important, how I needed to change to have a life without this BS in it.

            • Thank you. Linda.

              I don’t have all the answers either and was knocked down hard when I experienced dealing with just a one-time cheating spouse.

              But I do know this. Humans are hard wired to survive and thrive. So, if any of my suggestions work for someone else, then I have paid forward all the support that was given to me when I was trying to regain my bearings and make it to the surface.

          • Oh, notyou, you don’t even know how I needed to read this today! STBX is *constantly* pushing boundaries w/ me. Today it was “I want to go to church because I need God & the boys (our children), but am out of gas, will you pick me up?”
            WTF????? The reason he’s out of gas is because he spent all his money on beer & gambling!!! FYI, the church is a whopping mile from his apartment.
            Thank you for helping me see that the “high road” can be cleverly disguised & is sometimes really just codependency & boundary busting.

            • whoda,

              I hope you told him with as much empathy as you could muster that while HIS problem is a real bummer, he will need to find another solution because you are otherwise occupied. And then made yourself unavailable for further contact.

              🙂 🙂 🙂

              • I told him I would have the child at church to attend with him, which service would he like to attend? No mention of pick up, or gas. Guess what? He gave me a service time & didn’t mention anything else. Funny how that works…
                He has finally realized that I will not have any contact w/ him. I do not answer his phone calls – they go to voice mail. If it’s an emergency, he can call 911, or wait until I listen to the message & determine whether or not I will respond. I only answer questions regarding the children & occasionally finances. It took me a LONG time – even after reading here for months – to go totally NC. It took my dad using a CL-style 2×4 to finally give myself “permission” to not respond to his drama & not be sucked into the black vortex that is his chosen life. Thank you Chump Nation! You have once again come through!!! 🙂

              • “I told him I would have the child at church to attend with him, which service would he like to attend? No mention of pick up, or gas. Guess what? He gave me a service time & didn’t mention anything else. ”

                Hahaha! I love it.

                You did a “love and logic” on him. Set a reasonable boundary with a “whoda-engineered” choice inside it. Just like you would with a child–because he IS behaving like a bratty child. He couldn’t do anything else but cooperate!

                Oh, and don’t you feel good about how you solved this problem? 🙂

              • This really works. I’ve been working 24/7 on my codependency, chumpiness and people-pleasing. A friend wanted a ride to a party about 90 minutes away. I was going in that general direction to an event I’ve been looking forward to for a year. To take her directly to the party would have meant another20-30 minutes of driving. I would risk getting caught up in invitations to stay, etc., and I would have had my new car on roads that I’m not fond of. So I said, “You can ride to my destination, and your date can pick you up there since he lives a few miles away.” Then of course, the date was pissy because he wanted to leave earlier and she said the party couldn’t start until she got there…but my event was once-in-a-lifetime. Even people you love (as I love my friend) will push you to put them first every time if you let them.

            • Notice he says what HE needs. “I need….” Guess he’ll have to find a way to meet his needs.

              Not my circus…

          • Notyou, you are completely and totally right. When I look back at how I reacted when I discovered the level of betrayal and disrespect…

            my IC said [at the time]: he has learned he has got away with it.

            I didn’t understand it then, but I do now. But having been extremely well trained by a PAIR of parental severe narcs, I simply didn’t have the sense of self to do it.

            This has all been quite a trip. The opportunities of it are coming through now. Even the worst things have a opportunity hidden in them. Thanks Notyou for talking about the hard stuff. Keep on keeping on!!

          • LOL — was sort of skimming this and thought you were advocating cutting off the hands of those who steal potato chips.

            Anyhow, you’re right. We do teach people how they can treat us, even if they then do things we don’t know about. My wife told a couple of people who asked what would happen if I found about her cheating. She said “He’ll forgive me. He loves me.”

            Two comments on that:

            a) Yes, this shows her to be a self-entitled cheater with a missing moral compass
            b) She had every reason to believe she was right

            • Hahaha! ANR, that was Poker Chips! LOL…autocorrect is a sneaky meaning changer, eh?

              But you are entirely correct.

              Your motives were kind, but the results were the opposite of what you desired.

              She learned that you would tolerate the behavior without setting boundaries or imposing unpleasant consequences. I am SURE she learned this same lesson over and over earlier in life too…otherwise she wouldn’t be engaging in duplicitous, erroneously self-serving behavior as an adult.

              All of which brings me to another point: We, ourselves don’t like imposing unpleasant consequences. When we are basically benign individuals with a live and let live attitude, it can be a hard row to hoe.

              BUT, the concept of “tough love” (not abuse– just tough realistic love tempered with logic) teaches our loved ones that the real world will NOT tolerate them acting like fools, that they will indeed eventually experience consequences and painful results when they try to screw over others for personal gain.

              This is NOT rocket science, but it is hard to do when all we want to do is to protect and love another and to make another’s life pleasant and easy. When we constantly run interference for the mistakes of others, we don’t teach them how the world really is: a place of consequences–sometimes extremely harsh consequences.

              We in effect distort reality for them. A huge and sometimes fatal disservice.

              The major difference between CL and me is that I believe we don’t have to hold on to anger indefinitely in order to learn how to set boundaries and teach people how to treat us.

              As a matter of fact hanging on to extreme anger can distort our own cognitive processes with respect to determining the most effective course of action BECAUSE there are two parts of the brain competing with each other: the rational, logical, long-term thinking part of the brain and the often over-reactive and irrational “feeling” part of the brain.

              We need to simmer down and learn to exercise unshakable RESOLVE… as calmly as possible.

              My mother told me something that has stuck with me all my life. She said that when we were small children and getting on her last good nerve, she’d lose her temper and yell at us. She said my grandma counseled her, ” ****** you will NEVER be able to control those children until you learn to control yourself.” [Old, homespun, but TRUE, and applies to dealing with adults, too]

              Mom said that when she changed her own reactions to us that we became remarkably easier to discipline. 😉

          • Great posts notyou, Want to add that the super entitled do not really seem to “get” boundaries either…they are often just another “speed bump” on their way to their own personal nirvana! They don’t get it until the papers hit!
            How true that teaching children to do what they know is right & experience their own reward rather than outside feedback…great point. And what a gift to teach a child how to be at peace inside.
            Another thing I never really thought about is that every cheater I can think of is passive or passive/aggressive or both-including mine. Otherwise they would just open their mouth & communicate….oh that’s right, we are suppose to be psychic too!

      • notyou, thank you very much for this post. You articulated very well what I have long suspected went on with my cheater ex, myself and our relationship. The clarity you offered in your post is life changing. I feel validated that I am on the right journey of finally living life for me and on my on terms, without harm to anyone, especially myself.

      • Notyou,
        Your comments and insight much appreciated. This about sums up what I need to think about.

        Sometimes the sparkly stuff serves as a huge distraction. Today I spent a lovely morning with him only to return to his house in time to entertain and cook for his grown kids. I enjoy being part of that. However, the subject of their Mom inevitably came up…and how the son felt his father should be going over to the family home (where dad has’t lived for 13 years, but her BF sleeps over) to clean up the garden because poor mom doesn’t have the energy. This just galls me since there is no legal requirement for him to do so. He said he would “pop over this week”.

        I almost lost it but kept silent. Son says to me…you don’t mind lending him just a bit? I answered in a calm voice…look, first she cheats on him, then she moves BF into family house, pays him no rent, now expects him like a chump to do the gardening while BF sits by the pool and watches? No, I certainly don’t think anyone least of all his kids, should ask that humiliation of him. Then I walked out. I caught a glimpse of 26 yr old son looking stunned. Maybe the truth is finally out.

        Let’s see if I’ve gone too far. Not cool perhaps, but I’m not sure chump himself would ever say it.

        • I profess to some curiosity as to what has happened since you said this to the kids, has there been a reaction from them and/or your BF?

        • Marci,
          You should re post this towards the bottom. I think it might get buried up here.

          My jaw dropped after reading this. I wouldn’t be able to date this guy. What happens if you ended up marrying him? Is he still going to be the garden boy for this X wife of 13 years?!

          You don’t mind lending him just a bit? Are you shitting me?!

          • Rumblekitty
            Not to worry, I’m definitely not marrying him or anyone anytime soon. I do enjoy his company but his lack of boundaries with his ex and all the other crap mentioned above turns the situation into more of an interesting long term dating experience. I find it very hard to risk developing deep and abiding emotions for someone with his behaviour. I guess I’m looking at it as a learning experience that might be rescued by an epiphany on his part. In the meantime, I continue to lead my own separate personal and professional life.

        • I recommend that if “Mom” needs help with the garden, GROWN SON is the appropriate person to help her with it.

          • Amen, sister. The son’s suggestion is so manipulative. And that is what Dad should have said: You and your sibs are all adults–go help your mother. Or simply–“No, that is your mother’s responsibility.”

        • Marci,

          I probably wouldn’t have addressed the mother’s past behavior. I really think that is a responsibility that their father needed to have assumed. But you’ve done it. ONCE is enough. The message has been sent, and the ball is now in their court.

          With respect to the young man trying to get Dad to assume responsibility for that garden? I’d have been more inclined to be manipulative and put them in a bind where if they didn’t participate they’d look like jerks. It’s passive aggressive, but sometimes you have to fight fire with fire for a good cause.

          When asked that question I’d probably have said, “No, I’d be delighted to “lend” your Dad if ALL of you can make this a group effort with designated individual tasks so that no single one of us has to invest an inordinate amount of time in the project. That seems most both logical and fair. Why don’t you arrange a convenient day and time for everyone to begin early and get it done quickly? Keep us posted on your efforts in that regard.”

          [You are politely putting the problem back on the young man’s shoulders and politely making him take ownership…. with some concrete suggestions as to how he might solve the problem…and giving him time to process it and make the decision to act without feeling that he must respond immediately.]

          You would be doing several things here:
          (1) establishing that this will be an appropriately shared responsibility and not a dirty job foisted off onto your man and by proxy… you,
          (2) making it difficult for them to refuse without looking like assholes,
          (3) subtly inserting yourself (without asking permission) into the project (by use of the words “I” “us” and “we”) so that if they malinger, you can help your man excuse himself when he is done with HIS part…. leaving them to finish their assigned portions of the job or (again) look like assholes,
          (4) putting them on gentle but firm notice that you are a boundary setter,
          (5) engineering a situation where your man can use the platform you built to set his own boundary without looking like an asshole (because he so dreads that–as people pleasers do),
          (6) possibly causing them to decide that they’d rather do the job themselves than subject themselves to potential micro-managing. On the other hand, they might actually take to “direction” since their mother apparently never provided them with any.

          Always, always, always try to come up with solutions that make such things a learning experience for those who need to learn better. But keep in mind, you can tell people to do things all day long, but until you take an active part in modeling and guided practice, they will fumble about and not learn quickly. And your man definitely needs to learn boundaries.

          The worst thing would be for you to be passive and not set boundaries, but you are going to have to set boundaries in such a way that it does not come across as being combative.

          • Hit reply too soon (continued)


            You are in a relationship with this man and are therefore an equal player who is entitled to set boundaries, (including boundaries to protect the time you spend with him).

            BUT…and do believe that I’m not trying to beat you up… your comments to son about his mother’s (even though it is the truth) adultery had serious inflammatory potential…and that is tipping over into what we call triangulation (please Google it) which will be self-defeating for you.

            Talk to your man and sound him out about how willing he would be to learn how to set boundaries with more finesse (like I described above). This is the only way you will get the knowledge needed to determine if you are going to be able to stay in this relationship.

            I know you are protective of him and I genuinely appreciate your value of honesty. But this situation took years to develop, and brutal honesty from anyone except HIM at this time probably isn’t going to cut much ice with those brats. Coming from you, however, brutal honesty can effectively undermine your position of nudging him to take stock and change.

            I do so wish you well.

            • Notyou,
              Thanks again for your thoughtful and helpful comments. Looking back 24 hours now on said ‘potential inflammatory situation’ ..Dad has had a text from son saying he is sorry he was so insensitive about asking me to “lend” his father for yardwork [while ex’s lover sits and watches]. He clearly cares what I think of him, and going forward perhaps the shock therapy might possibly have worked for boundary setting.

              I agree that I now need to step back and let them sort themselves out, if it ever happens. I have no sense of urgency about sales of houses. I have the luxury of being independent. My only concern is the passivity and this is what I should likely be addressing by gently encouraging BF to do some therapy. Right now he thinks his behaviour is perfectly acceptable and although he admits it has gotten him into trouble, he says he finds it painful to set boundaries. Maybe an old hippy in disguise?

              • Hi Marci,

                Most psychologists adhere to one or another philosophy of human behavior. I am a behaviorist. This means that I believe people don’t just somehow intuitively grasp how to conduct themselves in the world of human interaction.

                I believe people are taught and learn how to behave by the actions (or lack of action in some circumstances) of those who are integral to their lives, and by what kinds of “rewards” they gain from behaving in certain ways.

                If pro-social, healthy behavior is reinforced, an individual will learn pro-social behaviors. If maladaptive behavior is reinforced, people will behave in maladaptive ways. This is nothing more than simple Learning Theory…but the learning situations can become complex, sophisticated, and thorny after people have reached adulthood having learned to behave incorrectly and/or in hurtful ways. Children are so much easier to correct (when one can deal DIRECTLY with the child); but I still believe that old dogs can learn new tricks…because I have seen that happen.

                The fact that his son apologized for being self-centered is encouraging and shows potential for him to learn to look at the other side of these “social equations.”

                Your man’s immediate ‘need’ right now is to learn (by observation) two things (1) boundary setting does not necessarily have to be Draconian for ordinary transgressions others people who simply aren’t accustomed to being considerate, and that (2) all the setting of boundaries takes is being firm and consistent over time. Worth repeating: FIRM. CONSISTENT. TIME.

                I think your man can learn much from you if you model polite, firm, consistent boundary setting for him over time. Verbally explain to him that all of us initially feel awkward when we must learn ANY new behavior or skill. This awkwardness is simply part of the learning process, and that boundary setting is NO different. The more we do it and do it the right way, the more comfortable we become until the skill is smooth and automatic.

                As he sees that this works for you, naturally, therapy would accelerate a learning process for him. So, let’s hope he eventually decides to go.

                If you don’t take anything else away from this post, please think about this: Whom do we try to emulate? Those whom we respect and admire, right? [We don’t emulate those who make us feel diminished and disrespected do we ?]

                So, if you will, “work” this situation in a way that he always sees you as someone he can respect and admire. Someone who is classy, non-threatening, and calm while remaining FIRM with personal boundaries.

                Again, I wish you good fortune in consistently modeling the kind of behavior that may help motivate this man to change himself for the better.


              • Correction:

                This sentence: “…Draconian for ordinary transgressions others people who simply aren’t accustomed to …”

                SHOULD have read, “…Draconian for ordinary transgressions BY other people who simply aren’t accustomed to…”

                Syntax makes ALL the difference, eh?

              • Very well stated notyou, the boundary setting is a skill and if it never existed or you lost that skill through behavior modification (I did), it takes time to get it back, it takes practice.

    • Miss Sunshine, your comment “I don’t trust men who lack spines. Passive leads to passive-aggressive”. When I met my ex husband 45 years ago, I took his passiveness to be that he had a gentle nature! You see, I come from a very violent, alcohol fuelled upbringing and to meet someone who was so ‘gentle’ was foreign to me and I could not believe that a person, a male in particular could be so gentle due of my father being so violent both physically and mentally. My ex husband is certainly passive aggressive and appears not to have a spine at all. My ex was never physically violent but he was very mentally cruel to me and nobody saw or heard that as it always happened behind closed doors. I always refer to him now as a smart arse. He doesn’t know any other way. He feels he is getting the better of someone when he is being a smart arse. It has taken me this long to really dissect many things. If only I knew then what I know now.

      • Meeeee, too. Had a very authoritarian, controlling, “me-first” father. He’s a good man, but one must have firm boundaries. I’ve only now begun to exercise those boundaries, and it feels great! I realize that I, too, can be very passive-aggressive, and I’m working on being more assertive–to ask for what I want, to ask for help (instead of being upset when help is not automatically offered, and instead of feeling like a failure if I don’t to everything the way I want it done all by myself…), and to verbalize without raising my pitch and voice when I am displeased–to verbalize at all! Lots of people believe I am very assertive, and in some ways I am, but not in all ways. I learned from an assertiveness class that being assertive (NOT aggressive, not selfish) is the most dignified way to treat others, and it’s true! Nobody can read my mind, and it’s not fair to be upset if I never asked for help and never said that I objected.

        And when I met my husband, and he was passive and a little lazy and cut me a lot of slack, part of me wanted him to be more direct and decisive–like my father–and part of me thought that it was great that he was so laid back! But I now realize his PA behavior was hostile and unloving. I take ownership for my part of that–for worrying too much about coming off as a controlling bitch. I do realize that nothing I did was deserving of abandonment, and I know that I am actually quite easy to get along with–an eager-to-please doormat, if you will, behavior I learned from living with a controlling father.

        I don’t find passive men attractive at all. I like a calm, assertive man–that is strength. I think Cesar Milan needs to give us all lessons. Actually, one can learn a lot from watching the Dog Whisperer!!

    • Hmmm. A light just went on for me, about passive men letting women carry their balls. That might explain why some cheaters (certainly in my situation) totally disengage and deny when you find out what they are up to: the OW can’t carry the balls as she doesn’t exist and they can’t face the chump without any balls…

  • I can’t imagine being able to keep my mouth shut for 13 years. LOL! My guess is if he’s this passive, he’s not going to want to stir it all up again now. I guess you have to decide if this tendency to go silent instead of going defensive is going to drive YOU crazy later.

    And heaven help you if the kids find out from YOU what the truth is because then you’ve just made yourself a lightening rod for spoiled offspring angst. The daughter sounds like a brat, and Daddy sure isn’t doing anything to hinder that . . . but really what is he supposed to do? She’s 20, she must have some type of clue what happened when mom was shacking up with a new man. Maybe the daughter is just playing Daddy because she knows he won’t defend himself and will probably throw money at it.

    Sigh . . . Good luck. 🙂

    • Rumblekitty, if you knew me in real life, you would be shocked that I was able to keep my mouth shut for over 20 years! Well, kept my mouth shut to my son, that is. Friends and family knew, but now the whole universe knows.

      • But you’re talking about while you were still married right? He’s divorced and still keeps a tight lip on things. I wonder why he just doesn’t state the facts and leave it at that. Some people are just like that I suppose . . .

        • Yes, I was married. You’re right – once I filed for divorce, I couldn’t shut up.

          • Same here. I kept quiet except to a few friends for a maybe 6-8 weeks. Once I had enough and pushed for the divorce I was vomiting the whole story to anyone who would listen … and even to those who didn’t want to hear it. I literally could not shut up and I think that’s because I needed people to tell me that yes, this was fucked up. No, having multiple entanglements over the years was not in any way ok, and yup, I married a loser dickhead. I just could not wrap my head around it and really needed to hear other people say just how fucked up it was. Weird how we know in our hearts that it’s a total mess but still can’t quite accept it. And then we can and do, thankfully.

    • The daughter was six when her parents divorced. It’s not surprising if she accepted that Mom was bringing in a boyfriend because her Dad had left.

      Now that she’s an adult, she might work it out, but people don’t see things they don’t want to believe.

      Also, now that I’ve gotten older, I’ve noticed that 20 year olds are very young. 🙂

  • Great point that this is an opportunity for him. The Dad may face some anger: “I can’t believe you didn’t tell me before this!!??” and some denial: “No! Mom said you left us and abandoned us!” But I think deep down, after the daughter processes it in her own time, it could really help them both.

    I probably waited a bit too long to discuss my situation with my 20 year old son, but an opportunity presented itself, I took it, and have never regretted it. I think it also helped when I told him I knew it was very hard for him to hear and deal with it, that I did not want to push any uncomfortable discussions on him, but I would be there 24/7 if he ever had any questions or thoughts to share, and that I had never lied to him and never, ever would.

    I’m lucky. He’s a grounded kid and the light of my life. He’s been nothing but supportive. I’ve made it clear we’re not going to sit around and trash Mom, but I haven’t sugarcoated things, nor has he. We don’t discuss it much and neither of us pry, but we’ve both acknowledged that we are sanity checks to a certain extent for each other.

    • Chumpguy, I kept my ex’s serial cheating from my son for a very long time until the final OW. He’s in his early 20s and I had a similar talk with him. The news was upsetting (he could not believe his dad was capable of cheating) but he was glad I told him. I didn’t go into the other cheating sprees from years back. I will tell him if he asks, though. He has chosen not to have any contact with his dad and is at peace with it. He, too, is the light of my life, and he and I have supported each other through this ordeal and the subsequent healing. There were times that we talk about his dad more than he wanted to and he would tell me so. I respected his requests. Nowadays, we only talk about cheater ex if something comes up related to the ex. Otherwise, ex is simply in the background of our lives.

      • We’re both very fortunate to have sons of that age that are able to see beyond their own situation a bit. My son picked up an incredible framed photo that has he and my wife hugging when he was about 8, in the snow, both with huge smiles. He said “I feel like leaving this picure on her nightstand with a note telling her to call me when THIS MOM comes back”.

        Hasn’t been long, but he’s pretty standoffish toward her so far. Funny, your pointing out being “in the background.” Although she is there, she is also sort of in the background for both of us. I know she could care less about being in the background for me, but sadly enough, she doesn’t really seem all that concerned about how he feels.

        Maybe she just feels like she needs to give him space and that time will heal. Or maybe it’s like I’ve said to her, it’s as if she has become a totally different person, and one that I don’t even feel I know. Maybe it’s like my son has said (about her whole personality, not just the cheating) “With her, it’s become always all about her.”

  • Hum, I wonder if the cheating wife has already prepped the daughter to disbelieve anything the father should say.

    The cheater in my life stayed ahead of the game so well that even when the truth came forward, everyone ignored it and discounted the person who bore the truth. When one of his employees asked to met with me to alert me about his unwelcome sexual advances toward her, I was already prepared to think she was one step out of the insane asylum. He even suggested that if I meet with her, I bring a handgun for my own protection. He was the one who needed to be in an institution. Wish I could find that woman again and thank her for her kindness in telling me the truth.

    Anyhow, don’t be so sure that even if he tells his daughter the truth that it will be accepted. I agree with the others. Consider what your life will be like if the situation with his ex never changes. Best wishes for a happy outcome for you!

    • Yes, I think it’s critical that he have the evidence on hand to give to the daughter immediately, given that the XW has a 13-yr head start and no scruples.

    • Cheater wife obviously hasn’t changed all these years. Now, how come I’m not surprised?

  • I kept my mouth shut for over 20 years until the final OW. By then, my son was an adult and I told him the facts. No editorializing. Kid’s not stupid, so he figured it out in a hurry and has had no contact with his dad since he found out over a year ago. He said he doesn’t want to be part of a very unhealthy dynamic (dad with OW). In his own words, “Who needs that shit?”

    Marci, as you probably know, keeping secrets is a slow death. As Tracy said, just suggest to your boyfriend to tell the daughter the facts. All you can do is provide information. What the recipient of that information does with that is up to her. You cannot control anyone other than yourself. The book Choice Theory (by William Glasser) is quite the eye-opener.

    Marci, you have deal-breakers like the rest of us. Last night, a dear friend in a very successful, loving, long-term marriage said to me “It’s really important to know exactly what you want before you even consider dating anyone.” In short, no spackling, no moving boundaries. My motto is better to be miserable alone than to be more miserable with someone.

    • uniquelyme, I agree with your friend. I’m not near ready to date, but I’m already deciding what I will and won’t put up with from the man in my future. There are certain things, like too much drama with extended family, that I just won’t put up with any more.

      • moving liquid…..thank you.. i am not ready to date either, and friends are trying to convince me to go online… fuck that i am not ready for that…. i am 18months past -d-day but 4 years left me for h0-worker..

        • magicrain, yes, about 9 months for me and while I pray there is a man in my future, I’m not ready for him yet! I have finally learned so much about myself and plan to put it to good use. Don’t let anyone rush you.

        • We really need to listen to our inner wisdom. When I’m thinking “having a boyfriend/husband right now would make me feel better,” I know it is NOT coming from a good, healthy place. It’s coming from a place of desperation or loneliness and that feeling is simply temporary and I just allow myself to feel it and take care of myself. I don’t act on it since I know that will end up in a disaster. Who needs that? Feeling lonely/rejected/unhappy for a few minutes or a few hours or even a few days beats being miserable being with a wrong partner for years. I’ve been divorced over a year and I find that the men I was attracted to a year ago were completely different from the kind of men I now find attractive (I’m talking character traits here not physical). A year ago, I think the only thing I would have written if asked to write a list of what I would look for in a man is: as long as he’s not a cheater. Lousy list and obviously came from a version of myself that did not know who I was or what I wanted … for me. Now, my “list” is evolving and definitely has more clarity. Had I succumbed to dating out of desperation, I know I would not be where I am today. At peace and quite happy being unencumbered.

  • One possibility is the daughter in her heart of hearts know but for reasons having to do with being a bit mind fucked by mom needs dad to tell her before having a frank discussion with him about it.

    • I agree. i believe the daughter knows and is pissed that her dad didn’t rescue her or stand up for himself. She’s pissed, dad paid the bills while lover boy and mom shamelessly lived out their soap opera lives in the marital bed. Everyone went on to new lovers… in daughters eyes. So in her six year old mind all the adults were selfish and couldn’t set aside their lust to take care of her-the kid.
      I would be careful Marci, because the adult kid may see you as a threat.

      • Then you will have two women, ex and daughter, manipulation this guy. Not a good situation.

  • Hmmmm, “i don’t trust men who lack spines. Passive leads to passive agressive”. And “imagine… What if you ever needed him to go to bat for you?”

    These statements struck home hard to me. Memories are flooding back. My husband NEVER went to bat for me. I would tell him over the years when his friends made inappropriate advances and he would laugh it off.! He would never want to put my feelings, preferences, ahead of his friends in most any situation. I think he became more and more passive aggressive over time. He was sweet to my face, did most of the cooking, and was Mr. Fixet. All the while a pathological liar, serial cheater and charming con.

    Obviously this does not at all sound like your boyfriend, especially since he was a Chump. But the passivity in this situation is a big red flag. I was so codependent and in deep denial of who my husband truly was. I was bamboozled. Then I thought my guy would change, and stop lying to me. Now that I am 6 months post DDay #4 I have some real perspective, and am beginning to understand the gravity of the truth. I’m learning of even more women, and more people he has taken advantage of and screwed over in business.

    Guess the message is to find out his reasons for not telling his daughter the truth. Watch what he decides to do.

    This is a great chance to see who he chooses to be. And realize he is THAT man and he’s not going to change. That’s the hardest lesson. When someone shows you who they really are, believe them!

    Good luck!

    • Chump Change your ex is my ex. Sounds like twins. Sweet to my face (well in front of some people) and back stabbing when I turn away. Believe who they show they are. Amen.

  • Well, I guess I have been lied to so often that I check everything. Marci, are you sure he is telling you the truth? Do you have first hand knowledge of the facts. Did you know the couple at the time of the divorce? Have you seen these PI reports? Maybe all of the facts are not as they have been reported. Maybe he was selfish, etc. I wouldn’t proceed with any advise until the truth has been established.
    We have seen how cheaters love to blame chumps for the break up. Just be sure your guy is really the chump.

    • Let me say that Jackass was divorced from W2 and had, based on his version, a relationship with his teenage daughter supposedly poisoned by his ex’s version of their marriage and split, even though the x was the one who left. He paid huge child support, monthly property distribution to the ex, and opened his wallet every time ex or the daughter asked. I assumed that he was the good dad victim in this story. I believed what he said even though his narrative about his marriage to W1 was shaky at best.

      Then I experienced what he does when he is finished with a woman. The whole narcissist playlist, scorched earth. So now I get it about W1. I also see where Jackass and W2 were two very screwed up people, not one screwed up person and her victim. If I started dating a guy who hadn’t really cleaned up the mess from his marriage, I would suggest he finish that old business before starting anything new. That’s not to say that divorced people with troubled Xs and kids can’t make good partners; what matters is what the chump has learned and is learning from that experience. Six months reading CL and I’ve gone from devastated chump to someone who knows what I should have seen to have avoided that devastation and is learning to look for health and reciprocity.

    • I hate to say it but I was thinking along the same lines but didn’t want to bring up the possibility. Has she met the wife? How many relationships has her partner had since the divorce, etc. All things she should ask.

      • Yeah, I was wondering. 13 years is a long time. One thing I learned–listen to the whole life story. And, ha ha, at my age that’s a lot of narrative.

      • Didn’t want to sound paranoid, but I was thinking the same thing as well.

      • Me too! Glad I’m not alone in that thought. Thinking like that could make a girl feel jaded. Or wise.

        • That’s the purpose of dating, to give yourself a chance to see not just what people say about themselves and their past but how those accounts line up with other observable details and events.

  • I really hope you give this good man this to read, and I hope he has the courage to read it. He is so full of love for his family, but boundaries are SO important.

    How is the daughter supposed to respect him, if he lies down and rolls over? What is so wrong with the truth?
    I really hope he hears how confused his daughter is, and that he understands that pain is often a good thing if it realigns and rebalances.
    CL is right: his daughter cannot respect him, if he doesn’t respect himself. He should respect her enough that she is given the truth, and then left alone to work out her own realignment out of the new information she is given.

    Speak up, Mr Chump!

  • Marci; I’d just like to point out that even if a six year old had been told the truth about why Daddy was leaving, it still leaves the developmental experience of : Men Leave. If she was told her parents just fell out of love, then the message is Love Doesn’t Last. All those times Daddy said “I love you”? Well he probably doesn’t love me either.

    They never vocalize this stuff so you can reassure them — they just quietly internalize it.

    You can tell the truth now all day long, you can kidnap her had have her reprogrammed to believe your chump boyfriend, but you can’t change the way she experienced him leaving at a tender age — it’s hardwired in. She’ll probably end up working her Daddy Issues out with the first willing older man she runs into.

    Also, there’s plenty of young adults that grew up in intact families that can’t stand their parents and want as little to do with them as possible. My ex was a case in point. When he got old enough to leave, he turned his back on that narcissistic pit of vipers and left. FOO issues galore, but at least I didn’t have in-law trouble.

  • I wish my parents had been truthful about my father’s cheating, as I ended up marrying someone who behaved the same way (emotionally, as well as actions), and in the end treated me and the kids the same way.

    It might not have helped, but I wished I had had the information.

    • I am 5 months from DDay and I did not tell my daughters ages (7 and 10) about their Dad´s cheating because he threatened that it would come back and hurt me. After I discovered CL and read the commentaries about the problems kids have who are not told (blaming themselves, blaming the chump, eating disorders, problems in school, etc) I worked out a way to tell my duaghters after I gave the cheater Dad several opportunities to tell them himself. His narrative is that we were having troubles anyway, and cheating was just the end result (my fault) so he gets really upset when I suggested that the girls should know. Of course, he does not want to ruin his image and his relationship with the girls (he is generally a good Dad, though a very angry one…). But finally, now that I am on vacation with them and they won´t see their Dad for a few months (though they speak every day) I managed to look for an occasion to talk about the separation and divorce (I kicked him out on DDay and filed a week later…it wasn´t quick, 7 years after fake reconciliation from OW”#1) and to let them ask questions. Through their questions I managed to tell them, in an age appropriate way, that their father and I would never get back together again (they still had some hope) because he did not love me as a wife and he broke his promise to me by lying and telling another person that he loved her while he was still married. The older daughter reacted by saying “will that ever happen to me?” and after I calmed her fears and told her that we can live the happily-ever-after-story if we learn how to choose our partners and how to face life´s problems. We will always have conflict, disagreements with others (even those who we love most) but it is how you react to those disagreements and how you solve problems that really shows character. She thanked me after I told her and I felt a huge relief from her part . Her relationship with her father hasn´t changed (he doesn´t know yet that she knows) but I think she feels more prepared to face him now, and understands all my craziness of the last few months better. She was assured that both parents loved her very much and that this had nothing to do with her. The younger one was quite care free about the news, as if she already suspected something, and she said something brilliant “so does this mean Dad was cheating on both of you at the same time?” meaning how could he be with the OW and me at the same time…I answered that yes, he was….but that I did not feel sorry for the OW because she knew I had two daughters and has been in my home and acted like if she was a friend. In any case, I made it clear to them that they could like the OW and they could love their father, but that they had to understand that I was not going to be their father´s or OW´s friend or like them anymore. They totally got it and I am sure they are relieved. I am also relieved but was still nervous about the whole thing until I read this letter today (I told my daughters last week) and felt I did the right thing and won´t have to go through this in 20 years when it may be too late, or when they find out through someone else. Now I have to be true to myself and show them the stability and peace they need so the fact that they know, doesn´t have other consequences (which I know is the reason why well meaning chumps do not tell their children). As zxy321 says “it might not have helped, but I wished I had had the information”…thank you for this, it helped me a lot.

      • SAchump,
        Good for you! I waited a year to tell the kids and i erroneously believed that I should wait until the kids were older. I regret it. It would have saved daughter some heartache.

        Sounds like you handled it well.

      • Way to go SAChump! With that one difficult conversation, it seems to me that you taught your daughters so many underlying messages about the value of honest communication, the value of clearing the air, and that you trust them to be able to handle challenging information.I can’t imagine those messages will ever leave them.

        • Thank you for your comments…I think we tend to underestimate our kids. They have been there, watching, listening, absorbing and if respected and treated with trust, they respond accordingly. Now I am only worried how cheater Dad will react when I tell them they know. My hope is that if he sees them acting normally with him, he will talk to them about it and try to have an honest relationship with them, which was my advice to him. I wonder if anyone had that experience here….as you can see, I am still not at “meh” because I believe he can become honest with his daughters, I still care what he thinks and I am horrified at my daughters liking the OW and becoming friends with her and her daughter…oh, when, oh when will that Tuesday come for me?

          • “Now I am only worried how cheater Dad will react when I tell them they know.”

            Hi SAchump,

            I don’t think there’s any reason to tell him. It’s not your job to manage his relationship with his children. And you have no obligation to report to him the conversations you have with your own children. I’d suggest this is just a vestige of “marriage thinking” – in a marriage, you would tell your spouse about important moments with the children, so you could both be on the same page. It’s been so freeing to me to realize that I no longer have to face those conversations with ex: there is no need at all for me to attempt (fruitlessly) to explain, justify, defend, etc. my actions and decisions. I just make a wise decision, act, and I’m done!

            In my opinion, you have nothing left to worry about or do. You handled a difficult situation with grace and aplomb, and are doing right by your daughters. Take a bow and go relax 🙂

          • Why do you need to tell him that they know? It’s not your obligation to prep him or clue him in. You can’t manage his relationship with them. Your obligation is to them and you fulfilled it beautifully: here is the truth, it’s not your fault, I love you and I always will, and here are my boundaries with your father. Telling him is not NC and just opens you up for more drama with him. You don’t need that and it won’t help your daughters.

            • Thanks for both replys… you are absolutely right about this “marriage thinking” and that I am not totally NC yet. I spent so many years walking on eggs and it seems like I am still scared about his reactions. Precisely today I suggested that he look at some videos and books about dyslexia for our younger daughter (who hasn´t been diagnosed, but it is obvious that she has it) and he told me that I shouldn´t tell her that she has it because she will later use it as an excuse to manipulate us and not do her homework. I was shocked with his reaction (like many in the past) but instead of trying to convince him of my position I did a version of what Psych does: ignored his view, made a decision to act on what I thought was right, and just did it. Such a relief…thank you. It does feel liberating!

  • The saddest part here is that due to this man’s passivity, he has created an entitled daughter. My brother had a ton of guilt in his marriage because his wife was severely mentally ill and he hid himself at work. Consequently he bought his daughters anything they wanted. Flash forward a bunch of years and you have these two women in their 20s who still think they can get anything out of their parents by whining and demanding. They stop speaking to him if he imposes restrictions or god forbid says “no” to them. It’s turned them into not very likable young women. Was that doing them any favors? No.

    • Good point, ML.

      And I’d like to add, that one or both divorced parents sometimes mistakenly attribute their children’s misbehavior to to divorce trauma and try to “compensate” (out of guilt) by going overboard with excessive material gifts and lack of appropriate behavioral expectations and limit setting. All this does is produce an irresponsible, spoiled child. Children feel more secure and behave better when loving but firm limits are placed and age appropriate responsibility is expected.

    • It may be that the real issue is that he hid himself at work. If the girls suffered a lot from a mentally ill mother, they might be angry at him for not protecting them and taking care of them.

      Buying your kids anything they want isn’t good, but it may not be the real problem here.

  • I think adult kids need to know, and the earlier in adulthood the better, so that they can make decisions regarding any potential long term partners.

    My Dad cheated on my Mom. My Mom told me 5 years ago when I revealed to her that my X cheated on me. I worshipped my narc Dad because he was charismatic, funny, smart and everyone loved him. He also was a flirt, traveled away from home, and likely led a double life (just like X!)

    If I knew that my Dad’s behaviours were RED FLAGS then I probably wouldn’t have married my now X, who shares many qualities that my Dad had.

    Kids need to know the truth, because their foundation is built on sand if they are not aware.

    • I agree with you, ChattyCat, truth lies the best foundation for any relationship. I know my Mom’s cheating and alcoholism and my Dad’s workaholic and passive aggressive behavior (and Chumpiness) influenced my poor choice in a life partner. And the way they dealt with conflict and life challenges was to ignore them and bury their heads in the sand. When my marriage went south I knew there was something wrong but my ex wasn’t yet ready to share the news that he was dating. At eighteen I really thought I knew what I was doing. Lol. Now I look for people who are comfortable in their own skin, who know what drives them, and know what their values are. People who are honest about what they bring to a relationship and are willing to work on having a healthy relationship are those I want in my life. My greatest fear is that my children will end up repeating my mistake. But I hope not. I hope they will learn from it.

  • I say the earlier the better, so that kids can move through their formative years with the ability to sort out the difference between a narcissist and a person capable of love and fidelity.

  • Marci,
    A couple of examples of not speaking the truth. My mother cheated on my father when I was 11 and our entire world blew up. No one told us kids what happened. Just one day my dad went insane and stayed that way until the day he died. My mom took us kids and we lived in shacks without food. We ran the streets and no one took care of us. My father was a raving mad man who we all avoided as much as we could. Trust me when I say that all five of us kids suffered terribly. I never learned the truth until I was in my 30’s. My aunt finally told me. (My dad’s sister.) It all made sense. Like CL tells us….it’s a very scary world to little kids when mom and dad quit loving each other and their world explodes with no named reason.

    Fast forward many years. All four of my grandchildren were born when I was married to Cheater Husband. They lived down the road from us and we kept them a lot. They adored their papa. One day he was just gone and my daughter insisted that I didn’t tell them the truth. Instead she told them that he left because ‘we didn’t get along.’ That really bothered me because it was total bullshit. I know the kids saw right through that. They asked me all the time about it. We got along just fine and never had a cross word between us, especially when the kids were here. It made me feel like a failure in their eyes and ashamed and god knows we felt enough of that when it wasn’t ours to feel. My daughter won’t allow me to tell them the truth.

    • Um no. Your daughter isn’t allowed to tell YOU what you can and cannot say. You speak your truth if you are asked, you don’t put your head down and act like any of this was your fault.

      I’m serious. And if your daughter was sitting in my living room right the fuck now, I’d give her what for. That last sentence really, really pissed me off.

      Please do not allow yourself to be crushed this way. You don’t deserve to be kicked in the teeth anymore than you already have been. What happened is the TRUTH and you have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Hey, I got along great with my X too, it didn’t stop him from completely fucking me over and betraying me. This is not my/your shame to own.

      Show your daughter this post. Tell her to suck it up and back her fucking mother.

      Jesus this shit pisses me off!

      Love you Syringa! 😀

      • Thanks Rumblekitty…I’d like to but I’m afraid of her. Everyone is. She’d take my grandkids away from me. Nice, huh? In my next life I’m not getting married OR having kids me thinks.

        • I’m sorry . . . I know this is your daughter, but that is some kind of fucked up. You’re not allowed to tell the truth because Papa did some vile shit? It makes her icky and uncomfortable to hear the truth, so we’ll just force a bigger shit sandwich down your throat?!

          I had to deal with this kind if shit with my narc Dad. He was abusive, mean, physically abusive and a complete jackass to me and my siblings. I finally got fed up in my early 30’s and told him to step off. (That’s putting it mildly). I got disowned. My siblings who always took the abuse and remained quiet are still in the fold I guess, but it’s a paper family with no real love for each other. They know what he is, they just couldn’t say it. So when you say she probably wouldn’t let you see the kids anymore, I believe you.

          I understand you are just doing the best you can. But just don’t ever OWN the bullshit that was done to you. Your daughter might be able to control the narrative for now, but it’s not going to stay in the ground forever. This shit always ends up rising to the top.

          • It sounds to me like your daughter depends on you to care for her kids, too. So she’s not going to take them away from you. There’s no need to belabor the point, or hash it out, or badmouth her father, or go on and on, but the truth is the truth, and I agree with Rumblekitty.
            Your fear of your daughter is your chumpiness.
            You should never fear anyone you love. Never fear the truth. Never back down from what is right. Never let anyone bully you.

            • Yeah, I couldn’t do it. I don’t do “secrets” anymore.

              Anybody: “Hey, can you keep a secret?”.

              Me: “No, I don’t want to do that”.

              • hahahaha, TimeHeals. I’m with you there. No lies. No secrets.

              • My favorite line from Maid In Manhattan is:
                Actress #1: Can you keep a secret?
                Actress #2: Yes.
                Actress #1: So can I.
                Then #1 walks away.

          • Rumblekitty…something tells me that you and I were meant to know each other.

          • I know Rumblekitty..I know. I just do the best I can with what I have. In the mean time. I hang on all your posts …you are so wise.

            Google Sandpoint Idaho….Lake Pend O’reille

            or Coeur’ d Alene Idaho.

            You can be my guest any time.
            This is where I live.

            • That is gorgeous! Now I know where to drag my camper when I get one. 🙂

            • Ha! I just turned down a rental in Sandpoint, but we were there last summer and I loved it. I’m just up the road in Canada. Well, quite a way up the road.

        • Wow, nothing like compounding the pain of betrayal by essentially blackmailing you into not telling the truth. So sorry, Syringa, that you’re childhood was blown up by lies and cheating and now you’re going through it again. Sending blessings.

          • Thank you LAJ isn’t it all something the shit that keeps repeating itself through the cycles?
            Love reading your posts. Stay strong Mighty You.

            • Yeah, there are indicators that both of my parents were cheaters and I certainly got caught in the middle of all of that. I don’t have kids so it stops here, with me, as do many other crazy behaviors. 🙂

              • And I never knew the truth. I caught my mother holding hands with another man in our yard. And she always claimed my dad was cheating, although I know at least one time she lied about that. She had a lot of secrets, which is probably why I am not a fan of “hiding it from the kids.”

    • Oh one more thing, my father cheated on my mom. She told us kids when we asked numerous questions about all the fights they had when we were I’d say, about 10 or 12 years old. We were FINE. We knew Dad was fucked up and Mom loved us without question. There is nothing wrong with the truth! The damage comes from lying, or selective explanations of things.

      • Rumblekitty, as you say, “there is nothing wrong with the truth”. Of late I have been telling the truth a lot to people who know both me and my ex and yet I feel so guilty like I am betraying my ex husband because everyone has such a wonderful picture of him. It is me that is the raving lunatic and probably will always be! Funny, but my ex husband never felt guilty about betraying me. He is getting a free ride which makes my blood boil still.

        • Why in earth would you feel guilty? Please . . . Take that misplaced loyalty and give it to yourself!! There is NOTHING wrong with the truth.

        • I’m in the same boat, Maree. I feel very guilty for telling people, even though I know I shouldn’t. I also feel very frightened of what my wife’s response will be.

    • Syringa,
      I agree with Rumblekitty. You are in charge of the narrative of your own life. It sounds like you have real intimacy with your grandchildren. Even if your daughter imposes “consequences” you will have that connection with your grandchildren. When they are grown restrictions she places won’t matter anymore. I’m usually all for a parent being in charge of their children with other relatives being of what help they can, but since your grandchildren are even asking for answers I think it’s important to be gently honest and let them infer things as they grow so they can make some sense of it all. Good luck.

  • I have been going back and forth about this since everything happened last year. The question is when to do it. My oldest (6 years old) is excited about her mother’s impending wedding (to the OM). She even implied that I may be invited to the wedding (???) So, what’s a good age to tell?

    • IMO, when they are that young wait till when they start to ask. And trust me, they will. 6 years old is tricky,

      Eventually, the day will come when they will ask for more details. At 6 I think they are too young to get it. I see nothing wrong with telling them when they are older. Other chumplings will chime in. . .

    • I just answered above….I told my daughters recently and they are 7 and 10. I told them separately, when we had some alone time to talk about everything that has happened since DDay. I think it worked really well to not tell them together because they felt some intimacy and special trust in me. I would suggest telling your 6 year old in an age appropriate way (you were born out of love, and this does not have anything to do with you, we both love you very much, but I can´t go to your Mom´s wedding because when we were married she told me a big lie: that she loved me, while she was telling another man that she loved him too. It is too big a lie to continue married to her and that is the reason that we divorced and why I don´t want to go to the wedding, even if she invited me. But it is OK for you to go, and it is OK for you to love your Mom ….but I can´t any more. I know you will understand…)

      Maybe she has had a mean friend who treated her badly or lied to her and she stopped being her friend. That might be a good example to begin the conversation. Don´t worry, she will totally get it and feel relieved at the same time. But you should tell her before the wedding otherwise she may blame you for being mean and selfish by not wanting to go, or not feeling happy for her, or even worse, not sending a present!

    • Hi CW,
      I would definitely have a talk with your daughter.
      My kids were 7, 5, and 3.
      I told them pretty much immediately. But my children were aware of the OW because she lives in the same street as my parents, and when it blew up in his face stbxh didn’t try to shelter our babies from his crazy at all.

      They were so little and didn’t understand that it was wrong for their Father to have a girlfriend and a wife. Their little minds just accepted that if Dad’s doing it, it must be ok, because he’s Dad and he’s great. So, when they started asking about the OW, what would happen when her and Dad had a baby, did she like kids, would they live with us? etc.etc. I couldn’t keep quiet. It seems you’re getting a similar reaction from your little one. It’s hard. I’m sorry for it.

      I kept things very simple, and through some great advice from chumps here, I steered away from things that may have confused them or made them question the fickleness of love.
      And instead they were told that getting married is a big deal and when you get married you make important promises to each other. Like only having one husband/wife for your whole life. Daddy has broken those promises and so we can’t be married anymore.
      Then we talked a little bit about promises and how you feel when somebody breaks a promise to you. Sometimes, if it’s a really big promise, then you don’t want to be friends with that person anymore. Kids are pretty spectacular. They started talking about trust, and their friends, and ‘the boy who cried wolf’. And unintentionally it took the onus of the break-up off of me (and stbx to a degree) because it has become about ‘the rules’. I have heard them telling new friends that Mum and Dad can’t be married anymore because Dad broke his promises and ‘the rules’ say.

      My baby girl still asks questions, like, “How many minutes until Dad comes to live with us again?” and “When he sorts himself out he’ll come back hey?” Breaks my heart, but I just gently try to reinforce that he can’t live with us anymore but we both still love her.

      They are coping really well. We have had the conversation a few times because there are restraining orders and other issues with my stbx. But I thank the people who gave me advice about this because my kids have been very accepting that the separation had to happen and it has made them very stringent about promises and being honest.

      Hope this helps a little bit. Everyone’s situation is different and I don’t know what professionals would say, but it’s worked for me so far.
      Good luck, whatever you decide

  • This is definitely a problem that is going to eat at you because no one really likes a man who doesn’t stand up for himself and gets taken advantage of. Maybe suggesting a visit to counseling for a consultation would be a great way to approach the topic with him. I also think that you should not put too much weight on what a 20 year old girl’s mood is on any given day.

    I am in a little different situation. My older kids (18, 20, 24) know about the EA (all that he admits to), but they don’t know of any of the subsequent issues. I don’t want to give them details as they were already mortified by what they found out in January. Since then, he has gotten a second phone and bought multiple sexual books on how to please a woman. I know he is also viewing sites about attracting women from looking at the internet file history. My kids say things to me like, “Dad is lonely. Can’t you just forgive him; he is not doing anything.” I try to give vague answers like, “There is more to it, but it is not appropriate to discuss with you.” He has continued to be rude and unremorseful to me, but I cannot figure out when or how he could be seeing anyone else. He got angry whenever I tried to talk to him about it, denied all, went to MC two times with me and was rude the whole time, and never answered any of the heartfelt e-mails I sent him. I am living away from him for the summer and have been no contact except when I had to see him for a family event where he tried to act as if nothing was wrong. (I still write long e-mails but don’t send them. It helps.) I plan to see a lawyer soon. One of my daughters does not want me to talk about my husband to her at all. They are beginning to see me as stubborn and unforgiving, and they get aggravated if I make even a slightly derogatory reference to their father. I don’t know what to do.
    Good luck to you, Marci. I hope that he grows a pair.

    • They see you as stubborn and unforgiving because you are not telling them the truth. When you give vague answers, you not giving them any information to go on. Your children are grown . . . they can handle it. Tell them exactly why you are planning to divorce.

      There is no reason to protect a person who has betrayed you.

      • It’s complicated, for sure. My xh left for someone else, but swore he did not. Although he was living with her within 3 months, and married her within one year. He will swear until he dies that she was not an OW. My gkids ask me why Poppy and I got divorced, and I now say, you will have to ask him. I don’t really care what he says. I cannot say he cheated on me, bc he denies it, and I have no proof, nor do I want any. My daughters know/assume, but he is good to the gkids, and has a lot of money. I do not want to get into a pissing contest by saying he cheated on me, when he denies, and I have no proof. We just muddle along, and now it makes no difference. Meh.

        • Can you say, “Poppy left because he had a girlfriend, and a husband isn’t allowed to have a girlfriend. I was supposed to be his best friend. He was my best friend. That’s what married people are.” And if they say that Poppy denies it, you can say, “Well, I wish that was true, because I loved him very much, and I never wanted to be divorced. It doesn’t make sense that I would ask for a divorce for no reason. But he really broke my heart. Luckily I have you kids, and [name all the other things you do that make you happy] and that makes me really happy.”

    • lilac, I’m so sorry. For someone who’s endured so much already, this would be the ultimate slap in the face. My heart aches when I think of how you must feel. I hope that someday soon, your children will be open to hearing the truth from you.

      Although I am NOT a fan of the RIC sites, I will forever be thankful for the MB advice to tell the children in an age-specific way as soon as possible (at least that’s where I first read it). Each and every day, I’m so grateful I somehow found the clarity in my pain-induced blindness to follow this advice. My kids were so young, yet they understood on some level. We haven’t looked back since.

      • “Although I am NOT a fan of the RIC sites, I will forever be thankful for the MB advice to tell the children in an age-specific way as soon as possible (at least that’s where I first read it).”

        I am familiar with Will Harley’s work, have read his books, and am confused as to how the RIC label applies to Marriage Builders. MB primarily addresses how to improve marital relationships in general, and actually his methods (which have labels that are just as gimmicky and catchy as some of the witty euphemisms used here for psychological concepts and constructs) addresses infidelity as one of many destructive marital problems people might face.

        IMO, calling it an RIC site is a pretty broad generalization.

        Does this video of Harley talking about infidelity depict a man who trivializes adultery? I don’t think so.

        Harley may not be the world’s most dynamic speaker, but anybody who thinks adultery should be made a criminal offense and gives valid reasons for how abusive it is, is OK in my book.

        • NotYou, I just watched that video to hear what he had to say even though my own marriage cannot be salvaged and found it quite interesting.

          I did appreciate that he fully understands how unbelievably painful infidelity is; he made that very clear. It made me feel better to know that he really got that.

          Of course I wish that I had “taken precautions” to avoid the affair my husband had. Our finances were in ruins and I retreated into myself while he began going out every single night. By the time I realized how much he was actually gone, I began to ask him to spend at least one night home with me and he couldn’t. He said I made him miserable with my misery. What a chump I was. Plus I was giving him the cash he needed to go out but there wasn’t enough money for both of us to have fun. As I write that I cannot believe I put up with that.

          During that last month I had begun to suspect an affair, but it wasn’t confirmed to me for several more months. The writing was there. I just didn’t want to see it.

          Having never experienced infidelity before, I could not fathom the pain. What’s worse is that you feel you are in it utterly alone. Every waking moment is a nightmare and then when you manage to sleep you have more nightmares. The only way I managed to get through it is to tell myself that I HAD to be a better example to my only daughter, an adult, but an only child nevertheless.

          And I began exercising. There were times when I screamed under water. And a couple of times when I cried into my goggles. But most of the time I somehow kept moving.

          Although I still miss and love him (addiction) I know I will be better off without him. He’s a man who simply brings hardship wherever he goes and I put in the time and can do no more. Plus, sexual infidelity has always been a deal breaker for me anyway.

          I’ll never tell him that in the end he did me a favor (plus that remains to be seen!). That would make him feel good. I’m sorry I ended up telling you my whole damn story again. You know how it is around here.

        • He may have a lot to say to people whose marriage are not going well; the advice to spend 15 hours a week giving your partner undivided attention is obviously good. However, that didn’t keep me from being chumped, because what was wrong with my relationship had to do with Jackass’s character disorder. And while all affairs probably hit the “happy chemical” producing parts of the brain, and hence look like addictions, to tell a betrayed partner that the “wayward spouse” will be sad and depressed because he’s withdrawing from the affair to wait out the weeks or months it takes to get Schmoopie-free, if that ever happens, strikes me as putting the marriage ahead of the basic needs of chumped spouses, which are to get legal advice about their situation and focus on getting through the incredible pain of D-Day. While Harley talks rather movingly about that pain, I can’t see how living in the same space with a person who is “addicted” and pining for someone else does much for healing. While I’m not sure what an RIC site would look like, since reconciliation was never a possibility for me, it seems pretty clear to me he begins by assuming that most cheaters just have some unmet needs chumps should just up their game and the marriage can be recovered, so long as the spouse plays marriage police and the cheater is willing to be “honest.” Again, that might work for some people but it is the height of folly to trust someone who has cruelly betrayed you without some serious evidence that the person has changed. And that doesn’t happen overnight.

          • Sorry for the sentence issues–it’s late and I didn’t proofread.

          • LAJ, there were certain red flags in that talk that didn’t set well with me, especially the part about needing to understand that the cheater will be crabby while getting over his affair and not really mentioning the continuing pain and insecurity the non cheating partner is still feeling and will feel for years.

            The Pollyanna in me hopes that those couples in the audience HEAR him as he describes that the pain of infidelity, to many people is “worse than a rape, and worse than the death of a child.”

            I’d like to believe some potential cheaters would remember that when they take those first steps towards cheating, but the truth is they will have forgotten, or say that it doesn’t apply to them because of blah blah blah, or their dick or their ego prevents them from thinking of it because for whatever reason, their situation is unique.

        • notyou, The MB Home page clearly states that it is the #1 infidelity support site on the internet, and that MB has “more experience helping couples successfully recover from infidelity than anyone else.” MB may indeed be about strengthening all marriages, but the advice on recovering from infidelity makes up an extremely large portion of that site.

          I have not read Harley’s books, nor have I watched his videos. My experience was taken from the MB discussion forums and from reading Dr. Harley’s concepts. He may share our understanding of how abusive adultery is, but I personally do not agree with many of his concepts, for example the concept of saving the marriage by making the poor betrayed spouse suffer even more than (s)he already has by attempting to “win back” the cheater. At MB, divorce is looked down upon. It’s not seen as something that may give peace to a heartbroken victim, but something to to be avoided at all costs, unless absolutely necessary, deemed so by first attempting and failing at both soul-sucking plans A & B. Additionally, I find it sad that so many people are being told that their marriages CAN be saved, no matter how damaged, how unhealthy, or how dead it may be if only they follow Dr. Harley’s implicit instructions….for a fee, of course. Blanket promises for a fee – isn’t that exactly what defines the RIC sites?

          Of course you may see it differently, notyou. You’ve obviously spent more time researching Harley’s material than I have. In my books, though, I still believe MB is most definitely an RIC site.

          • “In short, it’s hard enough to restore a martial relationship when a lover is finally out of the picture. But it’s impossible when the lover is still hanging around.” ~Williard Harley.

            I think Harley has a realistic picture. I think he’s giving the best advice he knows how to give to Chumps who are hell bent on attempting reconciliation. You know the ones who have to find out the hard way? And I’d project an estimate of reconciliation-wanting-first-time-Chumps at above 90%.

            Besides, his advice and strategies for improving a marriage and/or having a good solid marriage are great. I don’t throw the baby out with the bath water when I disagree with only one part of someone’s philosophy and reasoning on an issue while the other parts of their philosophy and reasoning are world class awesome.

        • NY, I agree, Harley at MB does make some valid points, and MB saved my sanity when my XH told me ILYBINILWY last year.

          -Harley recognizes that being betrayed is an emotional trauma that can have serious health consequences resulting in PTSD and that the pain can be greater than being raped or losing a child.

          -MB recognizes that ILBINILWY is code for “I’m having an affair.”

          -Harley doesn’t necessarily advocate reconciling. He says that if your spouse had an affair, you have every right to divorce. But betrayed spouses kept on asking him how to save their marriage, so apparently he came up with a program, Plan A plus Plan B. I think that if marriages can be saved after infidelity, they would at least have to do so by some kind of program similar to Harley’s.

          -Plan A is essentially the pick-me-dance plus exposing the affair to family and friends. You want to show your spouse that you are able to meet his emotional needs. He advocates a maximum of 3 weeks of Plan A for women and 6 months – a year for men (he says he sees more serious health effects on women in Plan A). Harley acknowledges that most affairs don’t end by the pick-me-dance. If the affair doesn’t end in Plan A, the BS is supposed to go into Plan B.

          -Plan B is essentially NC. It’s actually serious NC, as you are not supposed to even directly communicate with your spouse by email. You are supposed to use an intermediary who filters out all the irrelevant communications so that you receive only relevant, factual pertinent information about the kids and finances. Even pleas about reconciling the marriage are filtered out. And of course all of the blame-shifting, mindf*ckery, self-pity type stuff is filtered out also. Also, as part of Plan B, you do whatever you need to do to protect your and your kids legally and financially, which frequently means filing for divorce.

          -You stay in Plan B until your spouse shows through his actions that he is remorseful and ready to rebuild the trust, e.g., ends the affair and provides you evidence that it has ended, writes a NC letter to the OW, is completely transparent by giving you all passwords to email, phone, etc., passes a polygraph,, devotes at least 15 hours per week of quality time with you, agrees not to flirt/be alone with members of the opposite sex. Harley acknowledges that reconciliation typically doesn’t work unless the “wayward” comes back “hat in hand.”

          I myself was in Plan B when I found chumplady. My XH was saying all the right things (e.g., I love you, can’t live without you, I take 100% responsibility for my actions), and actually agreed to do all of the actions listed above, but never actually did them. So I stayed NC with him and decided to proceed with the divorce.

          -Harley acknowledges that reconciling the marriage takes years, though the marriage police state is only supposed to last about 1 – 2 years, after which, because the couple is fulfilling each other’s emotional needs and spending all their free time together, there is no desire or time for an affair. He also says that all information about the affair is supposed to be provided in the beginning of reconciliation using a polygraph. After that, the BS is not supposed to bring up the affair.

          -A fault with Harley, however, is that he thinks that anyone can have an affair and it is the result of emotional needs not being met. However, I don’t think the hardcore MB posters subscribe to this. They think that, even if all emotional needs are met but the spouses do not have proper boundaries with people of the opposite sex, an affair can happen again.

          I think MB offers good, concrete advice, a plan, when the chump is in the state of shock after D-day and doesn’t know what to do. However, if you look at the MB boards, there are a lot of people who have spent years in painful, false reconciliation. And he is still peddling hope to the betrayed and I think preventing the chump from seeing that her spouse likely has some type of character disorder that probably manifests itself in other ways as well. According to Harley, the cheater is a “wayward” in a temporary “fog” that will clear once the addiction of the affair is broken.

          I am thankful to MB for helping me get to Plan B/NC and filing for divorce, but if it weren’t for CL, I might still be in Plan B waiting for the “fog” to clear.

    • I promised my kids I wouldn’t badmouth their father, and I don’t. I don’t want to hear how great he is, either. From time to time I will say something nice about him, like, “Your father is a good artist,” but I really avoid talking about the kids’ father. It makes them uncomfortable. So I avoid it. I have many other things in my life to talk about, and so do you.

    • Lilac-Rumble is right on. You need to be honest. “It’s not appropriate to discuss with you” is a direct insult to them. They’re adults, it’s their dad and mom. They opened a door to you, willingly, and you shut it on them. Your pain is what they need to see. The realness of what happens, the consequences. They can’t pretend like it won’t affect them, it already has. They were appalled when they found out about it you said. That’s a good sign. They should be appalled. You’re not weak b/c of your pain. You now have an authority to speak. Use it.

    • A therapist once told me that children (including adult children) will often “side” with the parent they think can’t manage alone. They also often want to preserve the status quo, an intact family of origin, two parents in the old family home, and so they pressure the parent that they see as the one trying to change things. Just another reason to tell kids the whole truth. That doesn’t mean they will support the person who was chumped, but then they have all the information they need to make their own choices.

      • Thank you for your comments, everyone. Each one is so helpful. I totally agree with the therapist’s information in LovedaJackass’s comment. They have told me that they know in the end my husband can’t get along without me, and they feel bad for him even though they know he is at fault and shows no remorse. Even I start to feel bad for him at times until I stop and realize that I am just being a chump. He is not sorry at all or in the least bit kind. I will tell them about the phone, but I don’t think I can bring myself to describe the sex books to them.

        • That urge to “take care” of a parent is so codependent. It’s worth explaining to children, including adult children, that grown-ups have to be able to take care of themselves, barring some temproary or permanent actual disability. “I don’t know how to clean the toilet or pay bills” or “I don’t want to cook for myself” or “I need someone in the house with me” is not a disability. One of the best lessons for kids when they are young is that they are not responsible for their parents’ happiness (and therefore, not responsible for the happiness of their neighbor or boyfriend or football coach). And your kids need to understand that their dad has to step up and take care of himself and stepping in to prevent that doesn’t help him. And I write this as someone who spent nearly 50 years trying to make my mother happy. It would have been easier for me to be named Pope, make a few miracles, and be canonized.

        • I don’t think you need to describe the sex books to the kids. That’s a detail they don’t need to know about, and you don’t need to tell them that you know it but won’t share it.
          For example, I got my ex’s “secret” cell phone and read conversations between him and the twat troll that were sickening. My kids don’t need to know that even though they are adults. It’s just sordid details. They don’t need to know that I waited in line at the lab to get tested for STD’s–twice. They don’t need to know that their father and the vulture had sex in the family truck. That being the case, they’ll never fully appreciate all the various fucked-up things he did to me and to us, or in spite of us–spite being a very apropos word. And that’s ok–my kids are not my confidants. What they know is that the ex bailed on all of us when they were teens, in a very shitty, cowardly way. They know their father does shitty, cowardly things, and that I do not, and that they can count on me to not be pathetic.

    • Perhaps you could avoid talking about it unless they bring it up. If they do, you could say that he was rude in MC, did not respond to your letters, and is looking for women online. You can’t save the marriage by yourself.

  • This is something I find just weird. I had no problem telling the kids. I thought it part of their emotional education. There is no malice, or “bad-mouthing” involved, I just told them the truth. We both talked to them, and have let them know that they are always welcome to talk to us about any of it. I know I am dealing with someone who is not disordered, and we can do it this way. Lucky us. But even in the cases where many of you have very disordered exes, YOU can tell the truth. And you should, your kids are owed the truth. I also think there is something more to Marci’s new man’s story (oh, the chump cynicism!) If not, I would love to hear the follow up. Does he tell the daughter the brief truth, and let her deal with it, or does he continue to hide? I think if that daughter was me, I would be pissed at Dad AND at Mum for the bullshit version I grew up owning as my reality. My parents sat us all down and told us the truth together. I am forever thankful for that, no bad mouthing, no delays, just “Dad is moving out, he is going to tell you why,” followed by Dad asking us if we knew why, much hand wringing, but the truth, “I am gay, and I have been cheating on your mother for the last few years with men, I don’t want to be this way, and I lied in my shame about this, and your mother is a wonderful woman, and doesn’t deserve any of this.”

    • Oh, horsesrcumin, your parents were amazing. Your mother for giving your dad a chance to tell the truth and your dad for facing up to his orientation and telling the truth about the cheating.

      • Ha! LAJ, his hand was somewhat forced, as he had a lover who discovered he was married with a family and he was being blackmailed. Mum was amazing. She did live with the information for a year before asking him to leave. But the point is, the truth was so much better. There was no doubt, no questions. They were both honest (they told us together, but one child at a time.) It meant we had time and space to ask any questions, and they were united and it helped everyone cope better. No blame games, and we never felt there were avenues that weren’t explored. I had a good family dynamic, Mum eventually remarried and everyone participated very happily in family occasions, his, hers and both of their exes :-). There is a right way to do this. I know most here in Chump Nation have no choice, that the disordered are not reasonable. My partner is also reasonable, and we get on really well, just a fucking shame he fucked my friend for over a year!

      • I disagree about the dad. He was cheating — about the most cowardly way to “face up to his orientation” that there is. That he later told his children the truth isn’t amazing, it’s the least he could do.

  • “It’s easier to bring up a child than to repair an adult.” I saw that quote on a billboard during a home visit. It’s very true. So often adults think “oh my child is 4, he’s too young so I won’t say anything.” No. They may be young but they know something’s going on and they need to know in an age appropriate way what it is and what to expect. He missed his chance and now he’s faced with repairing adults. It’s not an easy task by any means, but he’s doing them further disservice by keeping them in the dark, insulting their intelligence. They’re older, they’re going to be the ones getting married soon if they haven’t already. They need to know the truth now more than ever. The last thing he’ll want is having to wait until one of them gets cheated on to speak up.

    Marci, it is up to you to decide if his passivity are a deal breaker, it sounds like it is for you. You can encourage him to speak up but it’s not up to you to wait around for him to learn to use his voice. The key to his daughters also respecting you is them respecting him. You both have been chumped. If they don’t respect your dad’s experience, how will they in turn respect yours?

  • I started a single parent group at our church for all that are/have been a single parent or grew up with a single parent, regardless of circumstance. I can see the pain present when those that grew up with single parents b/c of divorce are trying to put the pieces back together. They’re now adults and are trying to deal with being used as pawns with each parent trying to turn them against the other, left in the dark, trying to figure out what the truth is now. It’s hard. Kids need to know what’s going on, even more so than other family, friends or pastors. It’s THEIR lives that it’s directly affecting at the level of the chump’s.

  • My husband told his daughters, ages 14.5 and 16 that he found his new true love after he separated from me and of course they believe him. If I get the opportunity to tell them the truth I will, but they live in another country and I am not their bio mom. At the least I would think it would make me look so easily disposable in their minds, but then I forget that these kids are way too wrapped up in their own world to give that any thought. They are probably thinking that’s how easy divorce is and that makes me sad.

  • ML – ‘his new true love”

    Reminds me of a wedding I was obligated to attend 3-4 years ago. The groom was 50ish and bride was the 25 yr old AP that he married after his wife found out and divorced him. Groom had two teenage daughters and the Bride had been the girls’ coach of some sort. The eldest daughter (17) refused to attend. The 14 year old agreed to be in the wedding party.

    I’ll never forget the look on that poor kid’s face, standing up there all spiffied up while her dad recited his vows to the bride, “I loved you from the moment we met and knew we were meant to be..You’ve brought me joy I never knew existed…” It was all I could do not to walk up there and smack him down and grab the girl’s hand and get her the hell out of there – gushing about his “one true love” in front of the kid whose life had imploded into foreclosures, custody battles,. and court hearings.

    At least the 17 year old got even – during the wedding reception, groom gets call from ExWife – telling him Daughter1 in jail with minor in possession – oh, and IT’s HIS WEEKEND! He had to leave his reception to pick the kid up.

    • Oh, that poor 14 year old! Do these cheaters actually lose their minds? I think they do!

    • Damn it, that is just so sad, it pisses me off. These cheaters are so fucking self-absorbed and horrible people. What a prick.

    • This happens all the time. I think it’s a form of child abuse.

      My ex and his OW absolutely did not care about children’s feelings. I gave my ex lots of evidence of the psychic pain my son (in particular) was exhibiting. His plan was the kids just needed to spend more time getting to know OW. Like she was the new dog, replacing the old dog.

      Finally, the custody mediator, who had interviewed both kids, had had enough. ‘THE CHILDREN ARE NOT INTERESTED IN HAVING A RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR GIRLFRIEND” And that was the end of it. I worship the ground that mediator walks on.

      When it came time for ex to make a “honest woman” out of his whore, neither kid attended.

  • Thank you so very much to all those who have commented here so far. It is absolutely brilliant to have so many perspectives and I’m going to to re and re-read your answers to organise my thoughts before having a conversation with Chump-guy. He is such a pleasant and kind man, but oh so annoyingly duped by any manipulation from daughter (and two sons…in their 20’s…neither of whom know the truth about Cheating Mom).

    This issue with his passivity is part of a larger picture which affects my choices in the coming years. One thing for sure: I will stay the course for now without yielding my freedom. I can say my piece and watch from the sidelines, but perhaps that is as cosy as our relationship will ever get…no financial linkages, no co-habitation but keep our own homes. At least that is an affordable possibility.

  • Chump shall never judge Chump !

    This thread went sour! Fast!

    As this thread progressed, we as a group have assigned the very social stereotypes we regard as inconsiderate to Marci’s Chumped Boyfriend.

    No balls?

    No wonder his POS XW cheated on him!

    This is Chump Nation!

    Bat shit crazy XW’s and passive less than a man XH’s supporting each other.

    • Well, some of the comments might have been a little harsh IMO, but consider what we’ve already been through. You’re going to get responses like that after walking on hot coals for X amount of years. I didn’t personally hammer on him too hard, at least I don’t think I did.

      He didn’t deserve to be cheated on, but you’ve got to admit this dude is quite passive. Read Marci’s comment today towards the top . . . he’s not even married to this person anymore but saw nothing wrong with popping over to do some gardening? Wow.

    • I don’t think most commenters were doing that. Part of getting a life is learning boundaries and assertiveness so as to be able to enforce those boundaries. And of course, knowing our worth is integral to our growth. Marci’s follow up posts indicate her BF not only covers for his ex, he also continues to take care of her house while her own BF lives with her. She is rightly concerned that he did not learn from and grow from his experiences, it may have an impact on her relationship, on whether she can be happy with him.

      • Yeah . . . that coming over to take care of the yard shit would be real hard for me to deal with. Hey Chump – my toilet’s broke . . . can you take care of that for me while you’re here? Thaaaanks!

        • After today’s encounter with his adult kids asking if he could “go over and sort out Mom’s garden” …. And asking me if I would mind “lending him” for the purpose, that was it for me. He has a humungous “uncured chump” sign on him for me.

          Imagine doing the garden work (and I am talking about significant hedges, ponds, flower beds overgrown and neglected while ex and her current BF sit by the pool.) I asked the kids, who are 20, 23 and 25, and all still live there rent free despite having full time jobs, why the hell they don’t pitch in and do some work. “Because Dad owns half and should do his share” is their answer.

          I honestly think the Ex has simply chosen to lie outright about the cause of the breakup. Numerous of chump’s long term friends have described the horrors of her infidelity and humiliation of him, so I’m sure I have the right facts on him.

          However, he keeps saying the “kids must surely know by now what really happened”. My answer was “did YOU tell them the truth?” He says no…I never believed in bad mouthing their mother..they’ve suffered the breakup of their family, why make them suffer more?

          He cannot understand why withholding the is worse than revealing the facts so they can make their own adult choices.

          He says “if I bad mouth her, she may use it against me.” I cannot get him to agree that telling the truth is not bad-mouthing.

          I have asked him if his problem is a feeling of guilt or selfishness about initiating the divorce. He says no. It would have been impossible to stay married after the infidelity.

          This is more complicated than just being a passive man. He has allowed his spoiled kids to run roughshod over him, borrow money, live rent free, and now, continue an almost abusive manipulation by echoing their mother’s vile narrative.

          The only reason I don’t grab a cab and leave is that he really would be alone and probably not even understand why. These people need to hear the truth from someone and then maybe I’ll exit and let him choose to call me if he has an epiphany.

          • I could see being friends with the guy but given what you’ve Sid ther is no way I’d be in a romantic relationship with him. I wonder how he’s going to act toward ex once the house is sold….

            True story, my uncle separated from his wife and never divorced her. He continued to take care of her house for more than 20 years. He had an LTR in the middle of that and lived with the woman for years, after 5 years the woman finally said if he would not divorce, uncle needed to move out. He moved out. He never stopped loving my aunt, he just would not admit it, he always said it was a financial issue.

          • “Because Dad owns half and should do his share”

            Wow. What a bunch of selfish, inconsiderate, ungrateful little shits. There I said it. 😉

            • Add lazy, arrogant and condescending. I read this stuff and have Jackass deja vu–sometimes people separate and/or divorce but are never “done” with each other. If Marci is getting the straight scoop (and if she’s actually observing the kids in action, she probably is) the ex-wife is a true disordered piece of work. Yikes.

          • Marci — FWIW, the kids are operating on false information. If they don’t know about the cheating, it is somewhat reasonable to think Dad owns half, Dad should get half the upkeep (if Dad is getting half the profits).

            That’s not the kids’ fault — that’s Dad’s fault they don’t know.

            When he said he would go over to do the yard work — you probably got mad at HIM. But IMO, you directed that anger at the kids and told them mom was a cheater. Which is triangulating, and getting sucked into their issues. And kind of controlling him to do the thing YOU wanted HIM to do (however right that would be).

            Stand back. Is him doing his ex-wive’s yard work a deal breaker for you? Time to take that up with him and not the kids.

    • No wonder his POS XW cheated on him!

      I didn’t read all the comments, but did anyone besides you actually say that?

      I’ve been one of the most critical of the guy, and I never said that. He sounds like a really nice guy who has allowed himself to be taken advantage of in a big, big way, and continues to do so, right up to not wanting to speak the truth. Not once did it occur to me that he deserved to be cheated on. Nice guys sometimes attract POS women like his ex wife, that’s for sure–and it’s a damned shame. Women like me who tend to be total doormats also attract POS men like my ex husband, but I didn’t deserve to be cheated on and abandoned.

      Oh, well! Live and learn (hopefully!) Personally, I am working on picking better, and on setting firm boundaries–on being more assertive, not just licking my wounds and acting like a victim, nor rolling over. ExH thought we’d all be friends. Well, no. I quit being his secretary and his sexless confidante, too. I do NOTHING for someone who treats me like garbage. I urge all chumps to do the same.

      How about you?

      Sorry if I touched a nerve. I have found the reconciliation websites to be friendlier toward the idea that you should remain friends with and serve your ex. It doesn’t make someone “less than a man” to choose that life. But it’s not likely that a cheater who gets healthy portions of cake from the chump is going to have any respect for the chump ever, and I cannot help but wonder if said chump has any self respect at that point. And to be honest, I would have a hard time being in a relationship with a guy who doesn’t seem to have a lot of self respect–it sounds like a nightmare, for all the reasons stated. Then to find out the kids and “mom” were lounging around the pool as the dad did yard work?? Oh, HELL no. There are lots of nice women out there, though.

  • Marci, is it possible that he is still hopeful to reconcile with the ex? I know when I was in my multiple false reconciliations over several years (way more than 13), I didn’t want to tell our son and told very few people because I didn’t want people to know I would put up with cheating and that my ex was a cheater. Also, he seems to be doing stuff for her, still, based on the yard work that he’s going to do for her. Maybe I’m dead wrong.

    • UL,
      I am quite sure they will not reconcile. I have addressed the subject head on with him, and he claims his only interest in tending the garden is to keep up the value of the house prior to sale. Said sale is being blocked (illegally) by wife because she wants to stay there as long as possible. She will take a huge hit in lifestyle once moved out.

      She truly is a monstrous nut case.

      • Marci, makes sense about keeping up the yard work before the sale. I’m glad you were upfront with him on the topic of his ex-wife.

  • I wonder if he is telling you the truth, Marci? What if he was the cheater? You’re coming into the situation many years later and it sounds like you only have his word on it.

    I can’t see this situation ending well. He doesn’t like conflict and you’re creating it for him. He’s not going to argue with you but I bet he doesn’t like what you’re doing.

    I’m not convinced your real concern is him and how he is being imposed on by his kids. It sounds like you’re jealous of his ex – that is 100% understandable if he is still doing her lawn, etc. He has a weird relationship with her and many women would leave him for that.

    However, I think you telling his kids was completely out of line and spiteful. You knew he didn’t want it. Mostly though this is something that comes differently from you than from him. If he tells, he’s defending himself to his kids. From you it just comes across as attacking their Mom and trying to make them not like her.

    There’s also the awkward possibility that your boyfriend lied to you. Even if he didn’t, he may not back you up. You could end up with ex denying it and him going along with her, either to get house sold or for kids.

    • I see from comments that you have good reasons to believe him on the affair.

      I think telling is important and appropriate from a spouse, but not from you.

      • I completely and respectfully disagree with the idea that it is not my business to simply tell the truth. It was outrageous for his own kids to think it appropriate to order him over there to humiliate himself by playing gardener to his crowing, cheating ex.

        I have no vested interst in being spiteful. I only want to see the truth told so that his sicko ex stops using the ADULT children to destroy a decent man. As for comments about “am I sure he didn’t cheat” -YES as I originally said, the tennis coach was named as correspondant in the divorce documents. Many of his old friends have told me what a decent man he has always been. He is simply passive and conflict-avoidant. Someone suggested a passive man deserves to be cheated on? You must be of the school that blames the chump.

        • Marci, has he ever done any therapy? Just wondering if he wouldn’t benefit from talking to someone not invested.

          • This.

            I don’t think that anyone deserves to be cheated on, and that goes for the conflict-avoidant.

            However, I think that the fear of conflict also involves a fear of establishing appropriate boundaries. I think that it’s very tough to establish boundaries for one’s children post-divorce, since the temptation is to be the accommodating parent, the “good guy.” Unfortunately, that can mean–and seems to have happened here–that the kids see you as a doormat.

            If your boyfriend is amenable to therapy, that would probably be a good start.

        • If his kids think he left their Mom and them without a reason, it is fair to expect him to help fix up the house before it is sold. I’m assuming he’s about to get his share of the house that was kept until the kids grew up. If doing the work makes him feel humiliated (and I’m not sure why it would), he could hire someone to do it.

          I don’t think his daughter sounds spoiled. She thinks he deserted them.

          I don’t believe in blaming the chump. I was just wondering if he might have lied to you.

          As I added, I think he probably didn’t. I think he has every right to explain to his daughter that he did not desert her, he couldn’t stay married after their mother cheated on him – if that is what he wants to do. I would advise him to get a therapist to advise him on how to do it, if he wants to (doing it because you think he should would still be passive).

          However, so far this is not what he wants to do. You should not do it for him. The son did not ask you if his mother cheated or talk about cheating. He was talking about fixing up the house before selling it when you gave him a horrible blow. He may not believe you, but if he does, he is unlikely to like you. Telling him angrily in this situation does not come across as telling the truth to help the family and it probably did not help your boyfriend’s relationship with his kids.

          • Help fix up the house while his spoiled brat of an ex-wife and her live-in fuckbuddy sit back and laugh at how much the ex-husband is chumped?
            Don’t think so. And his kids sound just as bratty to even suggest it.

  • There is something so freeing as knowing and telling and living the truth. I deserved honesty in my marriage and it was not there. I deserved to know why my marriage failed. I deserved to know my ex cheated on me. Ideally way before he did. I deserved to know why my financial future was compromised. And my children deserve To know why their family imploded. All decisions I did not make. It has been a good hard lesson though and one I intend to learn from. IMHO Chumpdom is not meant to be forever and there is such a thing as being too nice and too trusting. It places others’ needs way before your own. At a point it is allowing someone else to dictate who and what you are and how you live your life. Safe yes. Secure and Life changing no. It is up to all of us to live authentically, and I think it can be done, and I think we can do so and not hurt others. I do think love is complicated but it never excuses poor choices, lying, cheating, and inauthenticity. My children deserved better than the fucked up ending too. Lying about things my ex does will never make my ex a better human. Our children’s behavior is a reflection of that. So yes I am a great advocate for truth. How else does happily ever after exist?

    • I agree drew. I felt my kids had a right to know. He lied, he said we didn’t luv him enough we treated him like a paycheck. Mind you he’d rather golf, go to “work outings” etc then do things with the kids. No going out to eat, because he did ll week long at work, he was tired after all. He lied about where he was and who he was with. My twins were 14. When he left my youngest was 11. I stuck up for him, avoided the truth did the chump dance. Until my kids came home from school and said they learned about emotional abuse in chool and something wasn’t right. I told my oldest about everything except for his whore for about a year. I told my youngest when I filed. 3 yrs later. Of course. I am to blame for everything including the weather, price of beef, their anger, night terrors, their hurt anxiety. All of it. My fault… Now 4 1/2 years later 18 months past d day. Still my fault they don’t talk to him. So he continues to punish me finically making them grow farther apart .

      • … we treated him like a paycheck…

        Straight off the script. This is how they see themselves. Mine said the same thing. Well, when you’re antisocial and begrudging and withholding, soon you resent that you share anything financially with your family. My ex was cheap. So, it’s no wonder he was focused on how much his family cost him financially–he didn’t value us otherwise. Mine also said, “You don’t need me!” So, which is it?

    • Thank you for that, Drew. I agree with your philosophy. Truth telling sometimes hurts but I am to old to live with secrets any more. Just the facts in the open, no editorialising. Establishing boundaries with extended family then is much simpler since they will know and expect that this recovering doormat will not spackle their misbehaviour. My own kids are 25 and 28 and they’ve always had straight talk from me and it has made them the same -open and honest.

      Perhaps this is why I recoil at the secrets and avoidance in my present BF’s extended family. I am quite willing to give up the relationship if necessary…and therefore will be my own authentic self with all of them.

  • Marci, I know a man very much like your boyfriend, except that when he eventually told his children of the cheating, they didn’t care. Mom was still respected as Queen Bee and Dad, well, he’s the guy you called when had stuff that needed doing and you didn’t feel like doing it.

    That old saying “we teach people how to treat us” holds true here. Friend allowed his X and those kids to walk all over him for so long and their behaviors were so ingrained that nothing changed after the big revelation. Not one thing. To this day, if his X calls him to fix something for her, he goes running over there like a little puppy dog. It’s almost painful to watch…we’re talking about a man who has been divorced now for 30 years. He vehemently denies it, but the overall opinion of those who know him is that he would gladly take his X back in a heartbeat if she asked him. His actions speak louder than his words in this case.

    Marci, what I wanted to say is that you should consider the dynamic may not change even if the kids are told. Those kids may not necessarily see their father as the long suffering, loving chump he may be, but continue to treat him with little to no respect, and if he dislikes conflict, he will continue to allow it. The issue here is far more complex than simply not telling the kids about their mother.

    I’m so sorry you find yourself in this situation. I wish you all the best in whatever you decide to do. Good luck, friend.

    • Babushka, I completely agree. If they weren’t told the truth in the beginning – and telling the unvarnished truth is NOT bad mouthing – they are very likely not to care. As I said in an earlier comment, they will just wonder why they were never told, and think it some kind of ploy to gain sympathy, or such. In fact, I would just be angry that my reality was a lie, and probably blame Dad if he was the non-custodial parent (as Mum was living the lie all along.) Mum would also get some anger, but really, he left it too late IMHO. Still, me being me, I would want them to know the truth!

      • Or that they’re ingrained spoiled brats because of the poison their so-called mother fed them.

  • Who is to say what went on that long ago. It seems a little odd to me if he was cheated on that he would be paying for the house while the om was living there, and letting his daughter live there.

    Maybe he cheated first then she cheated, who knows.

    And why put the house up for sale now? Oh right the daughter is moving out or is moved out. I sort of don’t believe his story.

    I do know the daughter is the one who has been hurt by whatever is going on there, nothing like not knowing the truth, great.

    Why tell the truth to her now, when he was fine with her growing up with the om there.

    It seems fishy to me.

    • Beachi,
      In their legal jurisdiction, the children’s welfare is foremost during divorce settlements. Since daughter was 6 when the bust up occurred, the court ordered that a home be maintained for her until she was finished one university degree. She is graduating now.

  • I think kids should be told. But, it is his decision and no one else’s business.
    I am in a somewhat similar situation with my girlfriend. She allows her cheater XH to come and stay with her and her family in the US for weeks at a time, ostensibly, so he can see his daughter. Weird as hell to me, but it is none of my business.

    • You must be a good trusting soul, Arnold. Given our past experience with cheaters, I give you a lot of credit for being okay with this situation. Good for you.

      Personally, I would find that level of continued familiarity after a divorce very disturbing. A scenario like that would be a deal breaker for me, I’m afraid.

  • About the house – I think it’s usual in the US for the home to be considered an asset that belongs to both spouses. Sometimes one person gets it in the divorce (and maybe gets less in other ways), sometimes it’s sold and the money is split. When there are kids and enough money, the parents may agree to keep it for the kids and custodial parent to live in until the kids grow up, then sell it and split the money. It’s a good thing to do for the kids.

    • Until you realise the fact that his ex-wife is actively blocking the sale of said house because it would give a severe dent to her lifestyle (and ego, too).

      • Exactly, Lania. She is all about “appearances”. I am convinced this is why she is spitting such vitriol now, after a silence of many years, trying to characterise him as a villain. All he’s doing is trying to enforce the original legal agreement and get on with his life. Or so he says.

        When we woke up this morning, I asked him if he was upset that I said anything to his son. He said no, in fact he mentioned my truth-telling to his 78 year old mother last night. He said she jumped up out of her chair, put her fist in the air and shouted “YES. I admire Marci. Marry her, [chump’s name], this is the kind of woman you need. I’m sick and tired of your ex and unlaunched adult kids taking advantage of you”

        So although I never have discussed his passivity with her, it must be just as clear to his mother that there is a boundary-setting problem.

        • That sounds encouraging Marci :). I hope he’ll find a therapist to help him learn the boundary setting skillz too.

        • Marci,

          It relieves me for you that he is getting feedback from different but significant quarters that he can be truthfully assertive without the sky falling on him.

          But walk this tightrope carefully, encouraging him to peel back his fear of conflict like peeling the thin layers off an onion so he can acclimate at each level of change making.

          Be instructive and supportive, but don’t inadvertently get sucked into carrying his balls around for him.

          You will come to resent that.

          Sounds like you just might be able to handle this.


          • “You will come to resent that.” [me]

            And so will HE.

            At that point, “passive” can rapidly change to passive-aggressive.

            He is going to have to “own” his sh*t and value a permanent relationship with you enough to work his stuff out.

            Damn, I ‘d like to see him get a competent, no-nonsense therapist while he has his sights on someone (you) who is valuable and motivating enough for him to put forth all that effort…

            Please keep us posted.

            • Notyou,
              Having already had a 29 year marriage, two sons grown and independent, and then some short but totally crazed relationships, I’ve learned some lessons about men. But still not an expert.

              I have learned over the years to not rip into a guy’s manhood – my first marriage taught me that. My sons tell me they appreciate my “lack of nagging” … And I stay out of their personal lives and simply encourage them professionally, and give them a little financial help at crucial times. Of course I believe this is ideal for them. We never spoiled our kids despite being affluent, and they have each studied hard, gotten qualified and now are well employed at 25 and 28.

              This makes it hard for me to watch present BFs kids…same age, all educated, but STILL living in the family mansion, driving sports cars, sitting in the cafes, but always short of money. Something has to give. BF is terrified to burst that bubble which really he bears some responsibility for not having put them on notice years ago. He says the divorce was “not their fault” and that they “shouldn’t have to pay the price for that”. He wants them to have “all the things I never had at their age”.

              I didn’t mean to get into such details when I asked the original question, but now I see that the roots of his passivity are based on his own inability to let his kids be self made…and let them experience the pleasure of making their own way. I see his holding them back as almost abusive…the message to them can’t make it on your own.

              • “. I see his holding them back as almost abusive…the message to them can’t make it on your own.”

                Wise, wise words, Marci. You seem to have a great deal of common sense and a strong sense of your own identity. Let’s hope this man learns some valuable lessons from you with respect to what is in the LONG TERM best interests of his children. I suspect you are going to do just fine….whether this relationship becomes permanent or not.

      • Lania, I was saying it was a good thing to do for kids when they are growing up.

        As for the ex, we don’t really know anything about her and her motives except that she is asking her ex-husband to help fix up the house because he is going to get half the profits.

        I am also a little confused about what’s going on with the kids. The letter says the daughter has moved out to live with her boyfriend, but in the comments somewhere I read that the kids are adults living at home.

        I think it’s natural for kids to want to keep the home they grew up. It’s also natural if the kids are living in their family home to wonder why their father wants to sell it.

        This is where the fact that he didn’t tell makes such a difference. If you think your father up and left you 13 years ago, you’re going to wonder why he wants to push you all out of the nest and sell the house. It doesn’t sound like he has any financial problems.

        However, if you know that he left because your mother cheated, then you can understand more why he wants to get his share of the value of the house.

        • Diana,
          Let me clarify the living arrangements.

          First the “kids” are now 21, 25 and 28. They are adults. They all have jobs. The divorce agreement clearly says the house will be sold once the youngest turns 21 or when the last child leaves home. God only knows why the agreement wording is so vague.

          I think it’s malarky to try to say it’s natural “for the kids to want to keep the home they grew up in”. They need to move on and GET THEIR OWN home. The trick the Cheater Ex is playing is telling them they can live there free rather than be burdened by mortgages. The daughter yes has recently moved in with her BF. But that’s close by and she still has her pink room in the big house.

          And as for the Chump Dad having no financial problems, he is carrying a mortgage on his current residence and would like to pay it off and MOVE ON with his life. Why should freeloading adult kids, driving sports cars and jetting around, be entitled to free rent? Sorry but it’s complete baloney to make them out to be victims. If they have to “wonder” why their father wants to sell then they’d have to be imbeciles. They know the deal and are enjoying the free ride while their mother stalls.

  • Marci,

    I think it’s safe to assume that eventually the house will be sold and there will be one less reason for your BF to have to interact with his ex-wife…but… if I was a betting man I’d lay odds that your BF will be shelling out rent money for his kids for some time to come.

    Right now they live in a swanky home rent free? And that’s going to end one day? Yep, just wait for it.

  • Ladies ladies please understand, from somebody who’s been through this, it’s not easy when a man goes through this. Its like cutting his balls off to be honest with you. It takes awhile for him to be confident in who he really is. So I would cut the guy some slack a little bit. I know it’s been a long time for him but I think it’s time to layoff and let him come back to the manhood he’s confident with. In other words don’t condemn him, try to support him.

    • Um yeah. Guess what . . . infidelity doesn’t hurt men more than women. Sorry but it’s an equal opportunity goring.

      • amen rumblekitty… tennisHack625 how about being raped. covering in a corner because you are so ashamed. having your ex fuck you and his secretary, then blame you. then be left with nothing because i was not “allowed” to work. I had kids and a house to take care of.

        still luv ya BUT dont you dare go there…………..

        • magicrain, men get raped too. ask me how i know — though this wasn’t in the context of infidelity or by my cheater. having said that, i’m so sorry that bastard inflicted all that on you. you are truly mighty.

          • Anr. Yes they do. I was remarking to tennishqck that it is not worse on men. Infidelity is an equal opportunity event. Everyones experience is different. I am not mighty I live day by day minute by minute. I have to be an adult for my kids. Rape comes in all forms. Rape of the soul, rape of the heart, rape of our life, and sexual.

            • I disagree, Magicrain — you could have crumbled inside and just stayed crumbled. Instead, you’re being an adult for your kids. I call that mighty.

      • I don’t see where TennisHack said infidelity hurts men more than women. Could somebody point that out for me?

        What I do see is a thread where a number of women have said this guy has no balls, he’s passive aggressive.

        TennisHack simply makes what seems an obvious explanation but one that needs to be made: his cheating ex cut his balls off. That’s how men often experience cuckolding.

        TennisHack asks to “cut this guy some slack a little bit…try to support him…don’t condemn him.”

        And then TennisHack gets the sardonic treatment. What is up with that?

        Why are people going after straw dogs?

  • I don’t think it’s a matter of us condemning or supporting him, it’s a matter of Marci deciding whether this is a man who she wants to be a relationship in. If he had written personally a) we would support him by pointing out that this is not a healthy way for him to act — which, if you like, you can call condemning and b) the tone from both men and women would be softer. I’m a man, FWIW, though not wildly butch. I actually see a fair bit of myself in this guy, which give me a real impetus to change.

  • Marci,

    It’s been noted that the wife had a tennis coach and your BF travelled the world with a daughter who was engaged in elite sports competitions…

    He can’t afford a gardner?

    • Iver,
      You’ve actually hit the nail on the head. I’ve said this to him several times as a sort of ‘duh’…why-torture-yourself comment to him. Here is his comeback: He lives in a small, insular community – an island – where everyone knows each others’ business or at least, gossip is out of control. He is an extremely competent DIY guy who runs a business in one of the sub-trades. Good professional rep. He says that he’d rather keep his personal laundry private and that if he brought local guys to clear up it would set a precedent for him to be paying for upkeep without contribution from her.

      This does sound cheap and childish in some ways. He has a stubborn streak which at times borders on stupidity, but I’m not sure trying to change that is advisable. I am happy to casually suggest alternatives and let him think about it…until it becomes HIS idea. I also worry a little that his motivations for hanging out at the family house are based on curiosity about what the ex is up to. I would hate to discover that he still has not reached meh after all this time, although when asked, he say he doesn’t hate her, but that he “wouldn’t cross the street to help her.”

      I think it is a contributing factor that he is entirely self-made, coming from abject poverty, and although his fundamental values are excellent (knowing his mother, I see where that came from) he has minimum formal education….unlike most of us here, I think that he has not spent a lot of time even touching on the basics of psychology.

      I think for this reason, he is the sort of guy who needs to be his own man without coercion. Advice from Notyou about setting behavioural examples (within the family) is probably best in this case. I believe his biggest handicap is FEAR of conflict. This is particularly confusing in that he has run a successful contracting business for many years in a tough trade…so he must have no problem in a “guy” environment. It also makes me think his problem is with dominant women – he just can’t bear the dramas that ex puts on the stage.

  • When ex and I initially told our son we were divorcing I never even considered telling him because I was still very controlled by cheater. It is so insidious how I always thought of how he would feel, how anyone else other than me would feel. I was so disconnected with what I needed and how I needed to be for me.

    When my son kept asking me to visit “daddy” and to sleep over at “daddy’s” and whether we could be together again, I had to tell him that “Daddy and I cannot be together anymore because daddy had a girlfriend when we were married and I would never go back to that.” He understood at six years old, felt shocked and bad and NEVER asked me to return to his father again. He got it.

    I wished I told him sooner and for different reasons, but I am so glad he knows. He knows so many things now. He knows what his father is capable of. He knows what I have endured and left in his own way.

    I did not tell him that daddy chose to be romantically involved with a pregnant married president of a birth education association that I was a client and that he reeled both of us into his sick charade and mind mucking both of us for his kicks. I did not tell him that daddy is a sick fuck who I wish would get hit by a bus or beaten to death by one of his clients. I am holding my feelings about fucker in check and working on myself—putting all that energy into myself.

    It is a hard balance especially when fucker keeps trying to mind fuck, but I keep it business and terse all the way. No kibbles from me, anymore. One day he will be a distant memory of misery and I will see karma happen when I don’t even care.

  • mind fucker, but mind mucker works too—it’s the PG version (much prefer mind fucker myself!)

  • My parents grew up during the depression and coming from that kind of poverty does affect ones thinking about money…but that being said I’m glad you recognize how silly this is. People gossip? They have been divorced for over a decade and she has a boyfriend living at the house. Not much there to gossip about it seems.

    But if he wants to scrabble around the yard while the ex, the boyfriend and the kids have drinks by the pool, well, it is his life.

    Of course, he might just miss being at his old house with the kids? Still, the idea of him doing yardwork there while a BF is lounging about…frankly, it gives me the creeps. Hopefully the place gets sold soon and thus one less tie to his Ex Wife

    I do think your decision to keep your finances/homes/lives separate is a sound one.

    • Iver,
      Your counterpoints are appreciated. Gives me perspective to think about.

      Thank you for all the comments – each person’s ideas are great to hear, and I am overwhelmed by the generosity of strangers in sharing their wisdom. Most internet venues are rubbish, but this site really stands out as a useful tool for those in need of support.

      In my case, things are evolving. I know my shock therapy on the son may have been ill advised by many on this site, and of course the son didn’t ask for it. However, he reacted well by admitting he was willing to talk about things, and I have the feeling what I revealed has actually cleared the air somewhat. The kids have opened a dialogue with chump Dad about what really happened. Sort of a come-to-jesus thong that he could not seem to initiate himself. Last evening they (sons and father) spent two hours sitting and talking about it. Dad came home and said he felt an enormous sense of justice and relief that they had expressed solidarity with him, instead of everyone tip-toeing around the elephant on their shoulders.

      One son has decided it is time to get his own place, and the other is consulting with his girlfriend about moving in together. So, they seem to have finally realised that the situation (them living in the family mansion) was untenable, and that continuing to live under Mom’s thumb … And that of her BF, is not healthy.

      Mom’s BF, we learned, has been chumping her by going back and forth to HIS ex. What a daisy chain.

      Daughter may be a tougher issue, since she has been brainwashed from the age of six. Perhaps now that Dad has seen the sons’ reaction to truth, he will feel less fearful of simply calling people to account.

      I’m standing back.

  • Marci,

    I’m glad my 2 cents worth of advice is useful!

    Hopefully the house gets sold and everyone can move on with their lives. Unfortunately some people (most actually) don’t respond well to being downscaled…going from a very nice home to “regular folks” living will probably not go down easy.

    Expect some turbulence ahead.

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