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Dear Chump Lady, Am I “bitter” if I tell people she cheated?

bitterbunny_lowrezDear Chump Lady,

I am in the middle of a nasty divorce with an ex who was having an affair with a married man, a family “friend” living in our neighborhood. The affair was uncovered by his now ex, who found text messages between our spouses confirming the affair. She let me know about the affair and my soon-to-be ex apologized profusely, claiming that it was all a mistake, etc., etc. She claimed that it was over before the other spouse discovered it, that it had been a mistake, and that she wanted to save our marriage. Being a chump, I took her apology hook line and sinker and have since been handed a double-decker shit sandwich. I tried forgiveness and thought that we were on the road to returning to a blissful marriage, before I realized that she had no similar intentions.

During this period of reconciliation things got so messed up that my soon-to-be-ex convinced me that if our marriage was going to work she needed promises from me! She said that I had always made promises that I never kept and that she needed some “guarantees” that I was going to stay with the marriage and that she would be okay, financially, if I fell through on that promise. So I went so far as to draft a post-nuptial agreement, which essentially gave her 90% of our assets and 75% of my net income, until our children were out of high school, if for some reason I left our marriage! (She tried to enforce this document after she filed for divorce, but thankfully the court found it to be unconscionable and invalidated it.)

My soon-to-be ex actually was the one who initiated the divorce, claiming, for the first time, that I was emotionally abusive, because I was angry over her affair. She has made false accusations to the court about physical abuse and child abuse by me. Her attempts at a restraining order against me were denied by the court, but she continues to make false accusations of me being abusive. I have resisted going public to her family about her affair, initially because I thought we were reconciling and I knew that publicizing the affair to her family would destroy any shot at reconciliation. But now her allegations are threatening my position with respect to custody of our two minor children, who were in the house asleep on at least one occasion, when she and her affair partner had a hook-up in our bedroom, while I was working out of state!

Not a single person has stepped forward to support her false allegations against me, while several have provided affidavits to support my positive parenting with our children. I feel that it is time for me to stop being Mr. Nice Guy while she spreads lies about me and I want to put all the cards on the table with her family, regarding how she destroyed our family and another family with her selfish affair, but I don’t want to be labelled as the bitter ex. But I feel like I am fighting for my rights as the father of my children (8 and 10) as well as my reputation. When I tried to reconcile the marriage I kept all the information about her affair to myself, because I knew that if I approached her family any chance of saving the marriage was over. Now I feel like my silence has been manipulated and she is portraying herself, falsely, as the victim, when in fact her actions are what destroyed the marriage. Do I continue keeping this information to myself or am I justified in putting all the ugly laundry out on the table?


Dear Lou,

There’s Mr. Nice Guy and then there is Mr. Trampled-Ass-Eat-Dust-Lick-Boots-Of-Abject-Humiliation-And-Say-Please-And-Thank-You.

You’re Mr. Trampled Ass. Yes, Lou for the love of God, RISE UP. Tell the court and all concerned that this disordered bitch cheated on you.

Does that make you bitter? No, it makes you truthful. It’s relevant to your divorce. HelloOooo, it’s why you are divorcing.

Where did you get the idea that telling the truth about your ex is spiteful? When did you become her PR manager and keeper of her good name? And how’s that working out for you, my chumpy friend? How did appeasement and reconciliation work for you?

It resulted in you fucking yourself with a post-nup and finding yourself embroiled in a custody battle.

I’m not saying call her a whore (except privately, to yourself) — but be matter-of-fact. This divorce is a result of her affair. Period. Full stop.

Disordered wing nuts all know the best defense is a good offense, which is why they are so quick to get to the narrative first. They count on your chumpiness and fair-mindedness. Your conflict avoidance and false, chumpy belief system that you can “nice” people into reasonable behavior. While you’re there sputtering for polite discourse, she’s wiping her boots on you. When you object to the boot, she claims victim status.

So EXPOSE these motherfuckers. Every abusive asshole everywhere needs sunshine and disinfectant. You think Ray Rice, Ravens idiot and domestic abuser would voluntarily lose his job if it weren’t for video evidence of him cold-cocking his wife to the point of unconsciousness? Oh! And he (and the NFL) had her publicly apologize for her part in her abuse too! It’s what these freaks DO. For you it’s signing over your assets to a woman who cheated on YOU. For her it’s “owning her part” in that asshole assaulting her.

So much nicer for abusers if you just eat the shit sandwich.

Lou, you only control you, so DON’T EAT IT.

Every person who ever launched a liberation campaign, who ever upset the established order of wing nut, is maligned. If I can discredit you, no one will notice my misdeeds.

That’s why you need to be cool, calm, collected and TRUTHFUL.

Do you have evidence of the affair? Does the OM’s wife still have it? Hand it over to your lawyer and let them do the talking. Anyone in your life, in your family — you tell them — and it will spread, I promise. Then, just go no contact with her and get on with your life.

This woman had you thinking up was down. Really, SHE needs assurances that YOU won’t leave? And then you desperately reassure her just so she can fuck you over in a divorce?

Something in you believed her. That YOU were the real problem here. That you could control her crazy with appeasement and promises, when she was really seven chess moves ahead of you.

Chumps need to stop buying the narrative of “The problem isn’t what I did — it’s your reaction to it.”

The problem isn’t her cheating, the problem is your anger and upset.

No, the problem IS her cheating. There is so much crap out there that wants chumps to show fealty to the cheaters right after discovery. Oh, they’re timid forest creatures. Oh, make the marriage a good place to be. Oh, admit how you drove them to fuck other people.

And this is how it works out — they stab the chumpy heart that loves them.

Stop taking it, Lou. If it’s not too bad to do, it’s not too bad to speak of it.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • CL,
    Here you tell Lou to go public with the truth and then no contact. I’m wondering how far to take “going public” means? My cheater husbands family COMPLETELY denies my accusations as well as some proof and has shunned my kids and I for months.

    I know you don’t mean to rent a billboard, post on FB that he is a CHEATER or post a sign on my front lawn but how far is too far?

    Fierce Mommy

    • While you’re in a custody battle, you give your evidence to your lawyer and let them advise.

      In your personal life, if anyone asks (don’t emotionally vomit on their shoes), you simply say “my marriage broke up because my wife cheated on me.”

      No, don’t take out a billboard. Be classy. But be TRUTHFUL. I’d save the gory details for only those closest to you.

      • Exactly! Give the evidence to the lawyers and make sure that you have copies of everything in a safe place (or 2). Chances are, the affair won’t have any play in court as most states are “no fault” states. More evidence of the decline of our society. But, it’s something for the file.

        I agree with tell the truth. One huge issue with abusers is that they are big on silencing their victims. No one wants the truth to get out. The more you help them maintain their image by being silent, the better for them, not you. (Not too far off are the ones that abuse children and threaten what will happen to them if they tell.) Some that don’t tell are worried about the shame of the abuse that happened to them. I was mortified when I found out all the dirty little secrets and was terrified of telling anyone what he had done. But, once I started telling people the relief rolled over me like a wave. It was out there. And the more he does, the more I tell, and the more he looks bad – not me. The shame is not yours to bear. Tell it in a truthful factual way that maintains your integrity and doesn’t make you look like a deflector (which would be her). Be honest in why you didn’t come forward with the information from the start: I was embarrassed; I was feeling shame that really wasn’t mine to bear; despite the injustice of what she had done, I still felt this need to protect her and our relationship – no matter how much I can see that as foolishness now, it’s what I felt I needed to do at the time. You can only be seen as bitter if you slander and make unnecessary comments that would incriminate you – all cheaters must die, she’s a skanky whore who doesn’t deserve to be treated better than the gum on the bottom of my shoe, I wish Dexter were a real person, etc.

        “No, don’t take out a billboard. Be classy. But be TRUTHFUL.” Exactly!

        • Prisons are full of “misunderstood” and “innocent” people who always seem to be a victim of circumstances, right?

          Manipulation 101: Playing the Victim. I wouldn’t a had to shoot him if he hadn’t tried to take my gun away. Sad, sad, sad dangerous people who will not own their own crap.

        • Exposure is not spite. It is truth and the OM wife has the proof.
          I posted undeleted text messages on my facebook site and sent links and tags to anyone that doubted she had an affair.

          Also posted phone bill with all texts and times and tagged everyone as well.

          The truth puts you on an even playing field and stops the manipulation and deception meant to keep you down. Get your power back! Expose her! Expose him! Tell everyone in an email or facebook post. Print letters and distribute them to neighbors, work, family 🙂

    • If they have shunned you and your kids for months, go with it. They are part of the problem and not people you want to deal with or people you want to be able to fill your kids’ heads with a bunch of crap! I wish mine would shun my kids. Instead, they are abusive to them and use them as pawns in a really ugly power game. Go no contact with that family too! Be blessed that they don’t want to deal with your kids. Your kids will grow up better for it. If you are a Fierce Mommy, you can handle that!

    • For me the best part of my de-chumpifying my life was being shunned by the evil M-I-L. I wish she’d done it years ago! She brought nothing good to me or my children so why should I care if she shuns me? I don’t. I’m grateful. Tomorrow is her birthday and for the first time in 25 years I’m not standing in the card aisle trying to find a birthday card that doesn’t make me feel like a liar and a flaming hypocrite because I don’t mean a single sentiment it contains.

      • Daisy,
        The 25 years in the card aisle and the shunning, evil MIL…my experience exactly. She was the one who enabled my cheater . Outlaws earned the name for a reason!

        • Same here! My MIL is the root of all evil and after 3o years she’s the one still coddling my STBX. My children never warmed up to her which always reinforced my opinion of her. Is there a study out there how MIL’s cause divorce??? Would love to read or be part of that discussion!

  • Sheesh, Lou, stop thinking you owe the cow ex a single thing. She’s lying, making false accusations, trying to take all your money and fucking with your role as a parent. Time to stand up tall, remind yourself every second of the day that this is on her -not you, and sing like a bird.

    The dumb cow not only fucked your neighbour, she fucked your neighbour while you were out of town and the kids slept nearby. Fuck that bitch. Tell her family, tell anyone you feel like telling, then go NC, as CL says.

    She’ll predictably go nuts, rage at you like a loon and tell you how horrible you are for telling the truth but honestly, fuck that bitch. Telling the truth is the only thing to do here. Some people probably won’t believe you or might think you’re bitter. And maybe you are a little bitter – who the hell wouldn’t be after all that? – but who cares what anyone thinks.

    Put your focus on you and on your kids and start taking the very difficult first steps of making the rest of your life absolutely fantastic. Do it for you and for your kids. Don’t stop when it gets tough or you feel like you can’t lift your head up one more time. Just keep doing it and doing it and doing it.

    And one day, when you hardly notice, your life will be better than you ever dreamed. Not what you dreamed of but a new dream and probably fantastic.

    I know a man who went through an awful divorce from a cheater and he didn’t think he would ever see the light at the end of the tunnel. Today? He’s remarried and very, very happy. It didn’t happen overnight. In fact it took a number of years. But he never gave up and it paid off.

    We’ve got your back, Lou. Go kick ass and kick that bitch permanently out of your life and your head space. And kick her out every time she creeps back in (because that’s going to happen a lot and for a much longer period of time than you’ll expect).

    Good luck and sorry this happened to you.

  • Hey Lou,

    I married the male version of your spouse and I am extra chumpy too.

    Forgive yourself and pull up those Fruit if the Looms and own your story!

    My stbx is a Minister who openly had a “justafriend” in the clergy for years. Made a big stink about my problem with him having friends…..blah blah blah and made me out to be the crazy one.

    His disordered family took her in with open arms and would not listen to me – so don’t be surprised if hers does the same.

    But I tell everyone who asks that my spouse cheated and financially devastated me and my in tact family.

    I am nc as much as possible and I have learned to show no emotion or reaction to his narcasistic flare ups ( or serving sized portions of shit ).

    It’s hard. I want things to be fair – and none of this is fair!!!!

    Just keep your head up and soldier on!

    • Your ex and his skank are clergy and his family accepts her openly. When cheating is a definite no-no according to that book your ex and his skank purport to believe in! Well, they can just have a fun time explaining all of that in the hereafter! Sorry, Jesus cheaters really get my blood boiling. One of my friends was Chumped by a Jesus cheater, and a couple of other friends were told by their religious leaders they need to confess their sin of divorce and that if they ever dated again they would be sinning.

      • I, too, have a problem with the Jesus Cheaters. You know I have a front row seat on that particular phenomenon, as well. You really have to be a special kind of fucked up to have adultery align with your supposed piousness and beliefs and adherence to the bible. It’s amazing that they are not swallowed up into the earth or sucked up in a wind tunnel. I’m particularly struck by those that then give pre-marital and/or marital counseling. That’s some pretzel-brained logic going on right there.

    • Lisa,

      Yeah, I can relate to the “justafriend” excuse then rage over not allowing her to have friends. My ex tried that crap on me when I was confronting her about a specific affair partner. You would think being a marriage therapist she would have understood why her husband had objections to her keeping a “friendship” with someone who was screwing her. Nope.

      It’s the ad absurdum argument: make it look extreme and absurd (e.g. “You don’t want me to have ANY friends) and then dismissed. I did not have problems with her having friends. My problem was her having friends with people she was doing. I know….SOOOO controlling of me! It is called a healthy marital boundary.

      As to your experience with ministers, I am soooo sorry, Lisah. That is not God’s heart on the matter. I started a blog to speak up as a minister who DOES have a problem with adultery ( Sadly, it is an uphill battle in a world so quick to excuse adultery….even in the church.

      • Dear Divorce Minister,

        Yours has been a voice of sanity I’ve always enjoyed hearing on this blog. I was fortunate enough to have been brought up within a (very loose) spiritual family. We didn’t go to church and only until recently did I work it out that it was within a loose interpretation of Baptism. All I really knew was that we were fairly ‘happy, clappy’ enjoyed singing spiritual songs as a family ‘Give Me Oil in my Lamp … etc’ and had a strong, strong ethic for the fundamental Christian teachings – love thy neighbour as thyself. Turn the Other Cheek. Who Would Cast the First Stone ….

        Despite the true fact that I recognise this left me defenseless against the abuse I suffered in my marriage (confused my poor chumpy heart trying to love him as I loved myself, and not casting the first stone etc) I honestly treasure that christian ethic I was raised with, and pity any child raised without any spiritual ethic at all. There’s plenty here in the UK – not so sure about how it is in USA.

        However. Fundamentalists, of any flavour FREAK. ME. OUT. I simply cannot cope with impiety masked in religious righteousness. I can’t cope with people who are ‘ praise be the lord -ing’ all the time – when their lack of any spiritual insight is obvious with every insincere word they spout. It makes me feel nauseous. You could say I’m like a Christian basic agnostic these days, I don’t care how you get to spirituality – Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Jainism, even atheism- it doesn’t matter – it’s all the same path to me – and it’s a good, valuable, essential path for humanity. I listen to ‘Thought For The Day’ on Radio 4 every day and, for the most part the various spiritual leaders who speak have something thought provoking and truthful to tell me, and I am grateful for their wisdom and insight. Ultimately, what I’m saying here, Divorce Minister, is you could go on ‘Thought For Today’ and I would be grateful to hear what you had to say, because, from what I’ve learned about you in reading your posts, is you are truly speaking from your spiritual truth and you have the humility to do so with honesty.

        Thank you


        PS what a waffle – but I think I wanted to point out the difference between someone who is truly spiritual and the disordered people who use religion as a weapon against others / justification for their own bad choices. Divorce Minister (and others of course, don’t want to turn you into a guru there Divorce Minster 🙂 ) display, effortlessly, a sense of humility that is utterly lacking in the disordered and the fools who believe in them.

      • I’m so glad you added the “go to the extreme and absurd” comment. That is exactly what I was dealing with for the last few years. It’s so hard to come back from that looking like I’m not some kind of crazy. It was so hurtful to. I once asked him if he would like to practice his best-man speech with me before a wedding. He grabbed it and turned it into,”She doesn’t even think I can write a speech for my brother’s wedding. She’s trying to tell me what I should say; she’s so controlling. She’s afraid I’m going to embarrass her or my brother.” He told this to anyone who would listen and acted like it was a source of strain on our marriage. So when the wedding rolled around and he treated me like crap all night, everyone just assumed that was why. It was CRAZY. Sorry to rant, I was just thinking about this today and how no one else would believe the crappy lies he told like this.

        • DoneNow, he sounds like a master manipulator, and a narcissist – but I think he did those things to you mainly just to be cruel to you, not just for the attention he got from others. And that makes it abuse. This is all innately familiar to me, countless similar incidents where I was portrayed as “controlling”.

      • The whole “justafriend” business is one of the most outrageous things that these cheaters pull. And the best answer is the most direct one: “When you lie and say your affair partner is ‘just a friend,’ then I realize your definition of ‘friend’ is ‘someone I can have sex with.’ So of course I am opposed to your having friends with sexual benefits.”

  • He gets the idea that telling the truth about his ex is spiteful because that’s how MOST see it, even if everything you say IS TRUE. I am so fucking sick and tired of being told to get over it!!! Or that I am SO bitter! ~ It’s been six years and that SOB is the father of my two teenagers and his Narcissistic venom WILL ALWAYS INFECT THEM AND ME! And until that stops…???Humph! Call it what you want…Average folks DO NOT GET IT!!! So, okay. I’m bitter, I’m not over it! Fucking PAHLEEEEZE! Walk a Mile In My Shoes…and BITE ME.

  • My read on this is that by keeping the affair secret, you actually encouraged more manipulation because it signaled that she could do underhanded crap to you, and not only would you do nothing, you’d be her PR manager and keep her image squeaky clean.

    How’s that working out for you? In my book false accusations of abuse, child abuse, and trying to take all of your assets tells you more than you need to know about who she is, and keeping her secrets should be about the last thing on your agenda: protecting yourself, your kids and your assets needs to be at the top of your list.

    The truth is going to set you free, I think.

    • To be clearer, I don’t think you are dealing with somebody who’s going to stop messing with you now until there are some concrete consequences.

      What’s your lawyer got to say about making false accusations? Aside from annoying the judge are there any legal mechanisms to address this?

      And yeah, if the divorce comes up, I’d be sure to mention it’s been downhill ever since she had an affair with your neighbor, and it’s been downhill for his marriage too.

      • My lawyer has hit her pretty hard (figuratively) in two hearings that we have already had (the divorce trial was continued at last minute last month because she suddenly wanted a custody study and psych evals). Right after she filed for divorce she filed for a restraining order, which was served on me while I was working in another state over 1,000 miles from home. We produced a ton of evidence to deny each lie she put in her pleading, and the judge dismissed that claim. But she continues to make those accusations in discovery, etc. Some of her claims are so absurd, but very hurtful to someone who loved her unconditionally for nearly twenty years. Not surprisingly, not a single person has come forward to support her allegations, because they are completely false. But the judge has yet to call her out on the carpet.

        • I know it’s infuriating, but look on the bright side. All she can battle you with in court are disprovable lies. Her attorney is either a good attorney who is going to drop for lying to him (causing him to look like an ass in front of the judge), or is a very bad lawyer desperate for clients. From a legal standpoint, you appear to be in very good shape.

          All of her hurtful allegations – on top of everything else she’s done to you and the kids – are on record from here to eternity. That is something considering that cheaters, although extremely unconcerned and unmoved with the pain they caused you, are very worried about their reputations and how everybody else but you sees them. She’s setting herself up for a huge fall.

          I know you still love her, but the time will come when you realize how richly she deserves it.

        • Hi Lou: I recommend you read a book titled ” High Conflict People in Legal Disputes” by Bill Eddy, LCSW, ESQ. Mr. Eddy is a mental health professional who later in his professional life, became an attorney and mediator. Here are a few of his words from the preface of his book: “I have become convinced that undiagnosed and untreated personality disorders are driving much of today’s litigation – and this trend is rapidly increasing. Yet few people recognize this. Judges express concern about “vexatious litigants” and “frequent filers”, attorneys complain about “difficult clients” and mental health professionals talk about “high-conflict families”. But few of these legal professionals recognize the significance of personality disorders in these disputes.”

          A must read for those of us involved with high conflict people – be it in a lawsuit, workplace or home. For professionals and lay people alike. He has written several more books on this topic recently. I have ordered his most recent books and am waiting for my delivery from Amazon soon.

        • Lou
          I assume you’ve told your lawyer about the infidelity. What is his/her opinion of bringing those facts into evidence? This has less to do with making you “seem bitter” than it is about helping your children keep a sane parent in their life.

          Think – why would she want to deprive you of reasonable contact with the kids? I would guess it’s because she wants to be able to spin her version to them (that you are the bad Dad).

          I wrote to CL not long about a situation my chump BF faced which was similar to yours, but happened 14 years ago. His children were in their 20’s and STILL didn’t know their mother had been a serial cheater. And the worst part was, she was still abusing him by text which hurt him repeatedly. He, in isolation, was dealing with it by saying “I don’t want the kids to think their mother is a whore” and “I don’t want people to think I’m bitter”. Oh, and she was still living rent free in the family home 14 years later…

          Fast forward and the past four months have been that family’s summer of liberation. The kids (in their 20’s and old enough to handle it) now all know the truth. Their relationship with Dad has improved 100% because the twilight zone they were living in now suddenly all makes sense. They are each dealing with Cheater Mom in their own way, but her continued whoring about town is being seen for what it is. They openly joke about it now among themselves, shrug their shoulders, and most importantly hug their Dad and share quality time at his place.

          In retrospect, he says he should have exposed her long ago. What she did do over the years was go about town inferring she “left him” because he was inadequate…but I can witness, he is definitely not inadequate in any departments.

        • This is how she is dealing with the shame of having been caught cheating. She”s trying to make you seem worse than she is, so that she can hold the high ground. I lived with shit like this for fifteen years.

          The only victory you can have is to have the false allegations thrown out and to try and get a fair deal out of the divorce. Fighting with her isn’t going to work, because that’s a form of attention.

          Believe that she’s fucking crazy – she is. Get the legal stuff sorted out and get the fuck away from her. Communicate only about relevant child matters – don’t speak on the phone or text. Just use email.

          And if anyone asks why you’re marriage went bust, tell them it’s because your wife cheated on you. What do you care about her reputation? She’s quite willing to destroy yours.

          All the best.

  • It is a very tricky thing for you in this situation. Stating the facts, providing the evidence and privately railing against her her is part of the process… she is a nasty piece of work but you are not. You have to decide what, if any, relationship can be salvaged here for your kids with their mother. Is she so disordered and unredeemable that your kids should go NC too. Write here, we all get it and know the taste of disordered shit sandwiches, with a side of maggots.

    But you have to be careful to protect your goodness in this. Protect the best parts of you and make sure that they stay strong and healthy. Two sayings come to mind. ‘Never mud wrestle with a pig. The pig likes it and you just get dirty’ and ‘Hate and anger are like acid, they corrode the container they are kept in far more than the object they are poured over.’

    That is not to say you don’t tell the the truth. Tell it… just protect your heart. It is a process but you don’t want to wake up after this is over and find that her final gift to you was to extinguish your kindness, your compassion, trust and empathy. The best way to do that I have found, is to hold your head up, stay true to your loving and kind self. People will see from your actions who you are and who she is… Trust she sucks right down to her pretty manicured pink toes.

    • In general, I agree with you. Except when it comes to hate and anger. While I agree that too much exposure will eventually corrode your own heart over time, that doesn’t mean they’re emotions to dump as quickly as possible. The anger and hate is there for a reason. They didn’t come from nowhere. They’re trying to tell us something.

      Me? I like to think of this kind of anger and hate as rocket fuel. I let it propel me away from shitty situations and towards a better, brighter trajectory of my choosing.

    • Ditto flyingsquirrel. Anger is a healthy response to infidelity. Your supposed to be angry when you get screwed over in such a fashion. It’s righteous anger. Find a healthy way to release it. Find a good friend that will let you vent, curse up a storm, whatever and be present with you even when you’re in your some of your darker moments, without being shocked. My husband’s site has some posts on anger if you click on my name above.

      • feistypants,

        Thanks for your post. I had a not so great encounter with my STBX today. For the most part, we are in a no contact situation. But when it comes to our son, I can get wound up and then all that anger comes back again. He basically asked why I’m so angry at him which pissed me off even more! Unbelievable! As if his cheating and lying for years is no big deal.

        I was upset with the situation and myself. I don’t want to be angry anymore but I can’t help it. Seeing your post makes me feel like a normal person just trying to get through this. Thank you.

  • My ex-significant other is claiming that the reason I left and have been no contact is due to a “psychiatric condition’. Yeah, I ended up on medication for extreme anxiety because I my heart would not accept what my head was telling me. He had told me about giving money to and borrowed from a friend to give more at an auction. He told me he made 1 follow up call to her afterwards. He was just trying be a “nice guy”. ( She was recently widowed at the time and he was friends with the husband.) I wanted to believe his narrative because the OW lives in another state. My last ex was a serial cheater so I tried telling myself to not let that relationship poison the well. However, a couple of months later he called me and asked me if I had cheated on him. I cheerfully told him “Yes, of course!” I e-mailed his sister about his asking me if I cheated but did not disclose any details because I felt so ashamed. Why was I ashamed??
    He recently called a friend to inquire if my “psych meds” had been straightened out. (I’m on a low dose anti-anxiety med.) Then he asked her 4 times not to tell her I called because he was afraid I’d yell at her. You read that right, I would yell at her. Then I got a card from his 87 year old mother wishing me peace in my life. So yeah, I’ve been contemplating following up with the details.
    Lou, in your situation I totally agree you need to tell her family. In my mind how they respond may impact the children later on down the road. Hopefully her family will say something like they knew she was a flake all along and wondered how you put up with her crazy crap. If they believe her version I would have serious reservations about how much contact I’d want my children to have with them.
    Just my thoughts.

  • Tell the simply truth: marriage ended, as she had an affair.

    My exH tried to convince our daughter that I was bitter and angry for indicating I had no plans to meet the OWife. He tried to use a horrible example (comparing apples to oranges, actually) of me judging her before I had even met her. Umm. She had an affair with my husband while still married to someone else, and got pregnant 2x (by my exH?) before she had even filed from divorce from her husband.
    I do not need to meet her: her actions say everything.

    Good luck. There will always be a subset of people who think telling the straight forward truth is being angry/bitter. Ignore them.
    Just keep it simple.

  • Dear Lou

    I have a huge issue with this ‘You’re so bitter …’ accusation people make. As far as I can read it, it’s a huge societal control order for victims of any abuse: ‘Are you still banging on about slavery / the gas chambers / police herding other spectators into a tiny space at a football ground so your daughters are crushed to death / that man who murdered your son? You are SO BITTER!’ It seems to me that something gets skewed and it turns out the ULTIMATE display of poor character, as judged by society, is allowing yourself to still feel unhappy about what was done to you, NOT, apparently, allowing yourself to actually DO those things! What is wrong with this picture??

    The really sad thing is chumps of all flavour have to eat the ‘Avoid displaying bitterness’ shit sandwich ALL THE TIME. It is used to discredit everything you say and every truth you tell – like I say – a societal Control Order, and it pisses me right off! I’ll go so far as to say I’m bitter about it! Who gets to decide how long you are allowed to suffer PTSD? Who gets to decide how long before you should be giving it a Gallic shrug and saying ‘ah, well – C’est La Vie!’ Who died and made these people God?? Why isn’t it bitter of a Judge to sentence someone to 20 years hard labour / lethal injection / electric chair / hanging / guillotine? The Judge isn’t a victim – that’s the only difference. Guess what, the abuser gets named and their crimes are exposed in court, but that’s okay, because the Judge isn’t bitter (read victim) no, society is meting justice – it’s not bitterness – heaven forbid!

    Right – got that rant out of my system.

    The thing you need to be aware of here Lou is you need to work out why you want to expose her to her family. I firmly believe that if you find yourself in a position where you are asked by one of her family members about what had gone on, then you definitely tell the truth – I don’t see any kudos for doing anything other than that (unless you know the shock would kill them – then ok – I can see why you wouldn’t want to do that and perhaps you’d get a gold star in heaven for being a kindly soul) – but in just general terms, I reckon it’s very, very likely that her family will close ranks. She has obviously got to them first with her own version of reality, and no doubt some of the things she’ll have told them about your ‘abusive behaviour’ (I am not, for one moment suggesting I believe you were abusive, but she’s shown in court how far she’s prepared to go with her impression management and you can bet that’ll stand with her family too) will have them re-thinking who they think you are. That’s actually the purpose isn’t it? They are going to be much more likely to question your version of reality because, and I’ve no doubt about this, her version of you and your marriage will be so far from what they thought it was. So, going out of your way to bring ‘truth’ to them is, I’m sorry to say, very likely to be received with ‘a pinch of salt’ and a huge dismissal of ‘ well, of course he’d say something like that, he’s just bitter …’. Is there anything to be gained, other than having these people know the truth, if you actively seek out an opportunity to ‘out’ her and her behaviour? It sucks, it really does, to think people we’ve previously got on very well with, perhaps even loved, now are buying into the false stories of us and our shortcomings, but unfortunately, some families are, for sure ‘blood is thicker than water’, she got there first and it just depends on how level-headed and fair-minded you can be sure these people will be. Saying all that though, if you wanted to put a full page ad in your local paper with her picture on it saying ‘Lying, Cheating, Bitch From Hell’ – I wouldn’t condemn you! (Might cause you no end of trouble though!).

    Very Best Regards,

    Jayne xx

    • Lou,

      All you can do, when people ask, is to tell them – with as little emotion as you can muster – the truth. Then leave it at that. They may not buy into it immediately, but people who cheat are their own worst enemies and usually end up outing themselves in one way or another. They are shitty people in all areas of their life, and it shows.

      Her family may well know the truth, but don’t expect them to ever cop to it. Don’t confuse a sense of loyalty, with buying into some bullshit hook, line and sinker.

      In the long run, you will shine and she will not.

  • Wait a minute, here, folks. I agree that cheaters should be exposed, but isn’t that just going to be harder on my kids? They are 9 and 10 and barely know what cheating ( or sex) means. Do they really have to go through the trauma of having their parents divorce AND finding out that their dad, their hero, is a bad guy? I figured that they will figure it out in time.

    If I tell people in our small, gossipy community, it will inevitably get back to them. I see it as putting up with more pain for me so that they have a little less. Just like sharing custody.

    • The older I get, the more I recognize the wisdom in this quote:

      “Imagine whatever you do will be reported by an informed reporter the following day in your local newspaper for your co-workers, family, children and closest friends to read”.

      I’m not big on “dark secrets” or keeping them. It requires me to be dishonest, and I don’t see why I should be dishonest about somebody else’s poor choices and behavior. I will not willingly become complicit in others’ bad behavior.

      That’s not saying gossiping is a good thing. It’s simply saying I will not be part of a cover-up even if it is lying by omission. At 9 and 10 years old, kids are more than old enough to know daddy had a girlfriend, and married people are supposed to have boyfriends and girlfriends, and that’s why their world just blew up. It’s a lot better, in fact, that having them believe this crap just happens randomly and for no good reason.

    • I didn’t tell my kids either. He was there when they were told but refused to say anything, leaving me to tell them through tears that “we wanted different things in life,” which is what HE wanted to tell them. However, in the ensuing months when I was doing everything on my own because he wasn’t around anymore and they were hysterically crying and wanting to know why this had to happen, I made it clear that this was NOT my decision or choice, and that it made me sad too. I’m not going to lie, it was a nightmarish several months of tears and yelling at me, and there were many times I thought about responding to their questions with, “Because Daddy didn’t want to be with any of us anymore!” But I didn’t. I really don’t know which way is better, saying or not saying.

      If the AP is going to be around in the kids’ lives immediately, though, I see no point whatsoever in pretending they are daddy’s or mommy’s “friend” or “roommate.” I told that to X in fact, that if AP was going to be around them, then I would tell them everything, I wasn’t lying for him and AP. So he chose to not be around his kids much until after AP dumped him.

      • IMO, I think you’re both making this too hard: “Daddy has a girlfriend, and married people can’t date other people like that and stay married”. Good enough. No gory details, and if they learn something, it might be that cheating breaks up marriages (there are consequences).

        As opposed to trying to figure out why dad isn’t around anymore? Did he just stop loving us? Or wondering why they might be losing their home: sometimes people just fall out of love for no reason and sell the house and the family ceases to exist for no clear reason.

        Trying to sugarcoat it or make it out to be about your or the kids is what does harm IMO. Let the light in. No dark mysteries.

    • I believe that it’s entirely necessary to tell them the truth in an age-appropriate way. Do otherwise, and you risk imparting some terrible lessons to your children. If we excuse shitty behavior and paper over shoddy morality, we teach our kids that it’s OK to be abused or worse yet, that abusing others is really no big deal.

      That approach doesn’t work for me. I’d rather let my kids to see the world as it really is and equip them with the tools they need to survive and thrive. It’s a bruiser of a lesson, and it sucks. But I’d rather give my kids a fighting chance at a good life NOW when the hurt can be skillfully managed and healed with counseling, rather than setting them up (defenseless, no less) for a series of painful, possibly permanently scarring reality checks in the future.

      • I think it is a very painful thing to find out you were living in one reality only to find out that people had withheld key information from you. That is one of the great sources of pain in betrayal. I don’t think kids are any different from the rest of us. People have a right to know, within age-apprpriate limits, what the truth is about the big things in their lives. Of course, many children see mothers and fathers as “heros,” but part of growing up is learning that people, including parents, aren’t perfect. It’s possible to say something like, “Married people have to give up other boyfriends and girlfriends, but I found out that your dad liked another woman in that way.”

      • I agree Squirrel. There’s no protecting children from the world we live in. Daddy always told us like it was, no matter how hard it was to hear, because like it or not, it was what we had to deal with.

        Children aren’t stupid, and know something is going on, and feel much more secure when they are let in on the secret (in an age appropriate way). Knowledge frees them from blaming themselves or becoming fearful.

      • FS,
        I totally agree with telling kids an age-appropriate truth. Otherwise, they hear it in the playground. My BF’s son, who is now 24, and whose chump Dad finally told him the truth this year, said that when he was 12, the OM’s son taunted him at school saying “my Dad says he f***ed your Mom”… The OM was the local lad-about-town tennis coach who bedded whoever he could. He of course dumped BF’s wife when the affair was discovered. BF’s son says he felt humiliated for years by the taunting and is so glad he was finally told the truth. He never dared ask EITHER of his parents about it, fearing their reactions. I can’t see how wothholding the truth for so long did anyone except the Cheaters any good.

        • My STBX didn’t want to tell our college age kids the reason we were getting a divorce after 30 years of marriage, but I forced his hand when he told them. They were shocked and felt the outrage that was due him.

          Now my 22 year old is in a relationship that doesn’t always make her happy and she’s got the skills to realize that her BF is a lot like her father. She knows she should dump him (but hasn’t) and realizes that he’s not her life partner.

          If there’s any good that has come out of this whole situation it has been that my girls look at the men in their lives with open eyes instead of accepting things at face value. Maybe when I was young I should have realized that my ex was a narcissist only interested in himself. I’m glad my girls can be discerning and hope they won’t settle!

    • I agree with Timeheals. Though it took me six months, I finally got the courage to tell my 9 and 11 year old the real reason why I kicked out their cheating father on DDay. I told them that Daddy didn´t love me anymore and he loved someone else but didn´t tell me about it. So that was lying and they know how bad lying is…and this was the Biggest Lie of All. I told them six months after DDay because I first consulted with psychologists, lawyers and Chumps messages on CL. The general agreement was that it is much worse if they found out from other people, years later, or if the cheater made them believe his own story (my cheater said to them that we had agreed to divorce because we were fighting too much!).

      Both my children were devastated (again) when I told them, but they both thanked me for being truthful because they now understood better why I was so angry and sad for the past months. I told them that they could continue loving their father and that they didn´t have to feel embarrassed about that because it was not about them, he only stopped loving me…but that they could not expect me to get back together with him or ever have to like the OW or have anything to do with them unless it was absolutely necessary. I also told them I wasn´t going to ever love him again.

      They haven´t changed their relation with their father because he is far away, but they will probably confront him the next time and it will at least make him begin to try to have an honest relationship with his children (if he cares enough). If he gets angry at me, I don´t really care any more. I covered for him for years on his emotional abuse and I also defended him many times when friends suggested he might have a lover (I said that it was impossible: he despised lying so much, he would NEVER do that to me.!) So Lou, I advise that you also tell the children in an age appropriate way when things calm down a bit. It will be better for them and for you, the stable, sane parent, as CL likes to put it.

      • Susan – bravo! I applaud your truth telling to your children. It sounds like you handled a horrible situation as well as one can. My children are older – they were 18 and 19 when we separated and because I was horribly Chumpy and thought we would be back together in no time I told them that we had separated to “work out some things” instead of being truthful that their Dad was a serial cheater who had lied, cheated and stolen family money to the tune of $80,000 to pay for his stripper habit. My daughter knows some but not all of the truth now and I will be having a conversation with my son at some point in the near future because his belief that “no one is to blame” in the marriage ending is getting really old. Kids do have a right to know and by God, I would never want either of my kids to go through the hell that I’ve been through trying to spackle the shit out of a bad partner.

    • Ditto to Timeheals and Nomar. You do need to tell them and you tell them truth just as TimeHeals phrased it. You’re not screwing their lives over, their dad is. You’re not responsible for image control and of all people, YOU are the one they need to hear the truth from (like hell their dad will actually own up). Not the kids at school, not from overhearing someone’s conversation while in line at the grocery store. If your town gossips as you say than you better make sure that you’re the first person they hear the story from. You’re the one they need to run to, not your neighbors and you won’t win any praise from them if they find out from someone else.

      It’s also past-due for sex ed btw. It starts in 4th grade here in the U.S. but sex messages start at birth. I’ve got loads of books on the topic that are based on age, given a handful of group talks with parents on it. Any question they have, about sex, about what happened with daddy, about their bodies, about why the grass is green etc, need to be answered honestly and in a timely fashion. You can’t put if off. It’s your “now”, not your “someday in the future.”

    • When I was on the phone telling my sister that I was going to file for divorce from STBX because of his cheating, her 9-year-old daughter passed her a note: “What the [beep] (sic) is Uncle Dick doing to my Aunt kb?” This is a 9-year-old. Additionally, my sister and her husband are very careful about the kind of adult content the child is exposed to. However, my sister believes in telling the age-appropriate truth. She explained that Uncle Dick, who may not be in his right mind, decided that he would have a girlfriend.

      The child would have none of that. The first sentence out of her mouth was, “she should divorce him!”

      Now, for children whose parents are divorcing, the age-appropriate truth is that there’s a girlfriend/boyfriend, and that means that mommy and daddy can’t stay married, BUT the child will still be able to spend time with both mommy and daddy. And everything will be okay.

      I think that it’s important to stay away from “daddy is a bad guy” kind of discussion. The kids will figure that out later on their own. However, by letting them know that it’s a problem between the adults and what the adults have done–not something that was wrong with the kids. Kids sometimes believe that they’re the cause of the problem, so it’s important to reassure them that no, it’s an adult thing.

    • Who in the hell would make sure that information like that got back to the kids?

      I agree the children need to be protected, but that involves you not speaking ill of their Dad, or discussing particulars anywhere near them. Make sure no one does, and anyone who does needs to be ‘outed’ in a different court.

  • As the saying goes, “You’re only as sick as your secrets.” You have effectively kept this secret by omitting the truth. Getting the truth out there is an important step in the healing process.

    No need to lease a billboard. In my experience there are key people in every family and every community that are bonding molecules in the social structure. Let those people know and word will spread on its own.

    • Unless the cheater gets there first, and scent marks the community…then you get painted as crazy, or some other pejorative.

      Maybe it’s a gendered thing? So easy to blame the wife…she must have been (xxx fill in the blanks…in my case the story was: crazy; mean; hard to live with; et cetera)

      I think this is one case where goose and gander get different treatment: men whose wives cheat on them are pitied; women whose husbands cheat are blamed. (As the old Loretta Lynn song goes “You’re Not Woman Enough to Take My Man”, implying that if a man strays, the wife wasn’t woman enough to keep him, etc.)

      We on this list know that’s bullshit, but the wider world? I think most folks buy it.

      • “Unless the cheater gets there first, and scent marks the community…then you get painted as crazy, or some other pejorative.”

        Oh yeah, that happened to me, and I don’t think it was a gender thing in my case. I’m the asshole lawyer who traded her in for a younger model. If anything, that’s a gender stereotype of middle-age men (and lawyers). Pffft. That story might have worked a little on people who didn’t know me much, but it faded for them over the course of a year or two as events played out. Her family and the friends who knew about her dysfunction and facilitated it? Some of them probably buy it. But I would never dream I could make those crazy assholes know the truth.

        If I got a “good deal” out of infidelity because of my gender, I sure didn’t notice it. Not when I had to pay my cheating ex (and her last affair partner-cum-new-hubby) tens of thousands of dollars in support payments for years after my divorce, not when I had to paternity test my kids, and not when she moved my 2,000 miles away from me.

          • Nomar– that’s such a rotten sich. So sorry. I didn’t mean to imply you (or any of us!) had a good deal out of infidelity. (That’s what I meant by those of us in the wider CL community knowing that casting blame/not blame/whatever on the non-cheat partners is baloney.)

            More like, as I see it, women get blamed/blame themselves for hubby-cheating in a qualitatively different way than cheated-upon husbands. I could be utterly wrong however. (It’s been known to be that way.)

            In any case, I am so sorry for you and all the guys who have the paternity issue in addition to all the other things we all know about. I suppose a comparable is the women who try to become mothers, experience infidelity, then their cheaters go off and hatch babies with OWs. Having had 2ndary infertility (could never have more than my first baby, despite 4 more pregnancies, IVF and what all), I think it would have about killed me if Ex had impregnated some OW bint.

            Net? Cheaters suck.

      • I’m not so sure that’s true. You read a lot that “men cheat for sex, women cheat for intimacy” — the implication being that the husbands of cheating women are uncaring assholes. And I’ve heard a couple of times (from women who are for the most part friends of my wife) explanations along the lines that my wife had a year long affair and squandered $ 200k on a loan to her lover/boss because she was upset at the death of her mother. As if I were too gormless to know she was upset. As if I hadn’t done everything in my power to comfort her and help her through her grief. As if, in short, I was kinda asking for it by being an uncaring jerk. I can’t tell you how much that hurts.

        • Yeah, yeah….men cheat because their wives turned into fat, sexless, harpy slobs, and women cheat because their husbands were abusive and neglectful.

          People who are going to excuse cheating are going to excuse it, because it gives them a (false) sense of control over their own relationships. Fortunately, these are dimwitted people whose opinion doesn’t matter to me at all.

          Tell the truth, and let people do what they want with it. You don’t need their validation because you know without a doubt how things really went down.

          • Those are stereotypes that my Cheating Ex turned upside down… he cheated bec I the woman who loved him with all my heart and supported him $$$ for 16 years and provided a beautiful home for him, cooked his dinner ev night and did every bizarre sexual act he asked me to do, was “cold,” “heartless,” and neglected his poor suffering heart while I was out running a law practice (so cold!) that supported his lazy ass. OW wasn’t about sex (“It’s not like she just wagged her pussy in my face, Muse!”…”she sees that I’m a big picture guy! you don’t”) and then, yes, “abused him for years.”

        • ANR,

          I hear you. I truly get how much that must hurt. I’m sorry. People can be so superficial and stupid and ultimately lazy with their thinking. I’m so so sorry.

          Jayne xx

  • Hi Lou,

    I’m basically you, except I’m not a guy, and I don’t have kids. But I spent a horrible 2 years after discovering my STBX’s affair making promises and accommodations for his lying, cheating ass. It was awful. I lost almost 20 pounds and felt like a shell of my former self. I was so determined to take the high road. But it is impossible to take the high road while you’re still tethered to the asshole on the low road. Protecting him by not speaking up kept me attached to him. Being afraid of seeming “bitter” kept me in place.

    Let it go. You don’t have to go ballistic, buy a billboard, or key her car. Just tell people the facts, and leave it at that. You have nothing to defend. Calmly tell the truth. Answer questions truthfully. Then get on that high road with your kids and keep moving forward.

      • I agree LilyBart.

        At first I was protective of my STBX. Then, I realized that he had not protected me, AT ALL. He was a fucking coward in every possible way and I was supposed to protect that?? Obviously I was living in delusion land. So I told. I told my family, my friends and yes, people at work. I didn’t share gory details but I told them he was a cheater/liar/asshole abusive piece of shit.

        As for our child? Yup, she knows Dad is a cheater. A therapist said to me, “That’s a tough thing for a kid to know.” I replied, “Yeah tell me about it. It’s a shitty thing for a parent to do to a kid.” If your cheater loved their kid, perhaps they could have considered that when off fucking someone else.

        I’m done with protecting any man or women who abuses someone else. And we need to teach kids it’s not ok to cheat and lie. Face it, that’s a lesson kids learn in kindergarten.

        • Rock THIS! Yes, the truth is that someone CHEATED. And we all know this goes hand in hand with a whole other fairy tale. You know the kind where the bad witch or evil vampire makes many decisions to blow that relationship up. Even affairs on the island eventually hit the mainland. Tell the truth. We can only control that.

  • I agree with Nomar above. Tell the truth to find healing. Someone famous said, “The truth will set you free” (i.e. Jesus). I believe this is true in the case of adultery. We live a lie, which makes us sick when we withhold the truth. Name what happened—she committed adultery and that destroyed yours and the OM’s home. If you get push back, I would point out such behavior is adultery apologetics–do they really want to try to justify adultery? Just a thought.

  • Well Lou, I kept quiet for a long damn time. It took a while after separation to realize that I did not have to lie for him. I did not have to keep my mouth shut. His wrongdoings were NOT my secrets to keep. When I was asked what the heck happened by friends and family, I told the truth. If that painted him in a bad light, NOT MY FAULT!!! I did not make the bad decisions to carry on a five year long (and 5 dday long) affair with the same married woman with three kids of her own!!!

    All bad decisions result in consequences, we learn this at a very young age. The fact that he didn’t learn this lesson……NOT MY PROBLEM!

    I would like to add, I believe that keeping the secrets regarding the cheaters behavior a secret implies that we bare some of the responsibility for it. And I had absolutely NOTHING to do with his affair. That is all on HIM!

    • By all means tell your kids when you kick the creep out and/or serve him.

      This is part of my shitty decision process of last year. I didn’t kick him out and I haven’t told the kids. I don’t like this lying by omission. It’s still lying and manipulating my kids’ perception of this family. I’m still holding the spackling trowel. This makes me just as bad as the creep.

      There’s my vent, Lou. I made my cheater tell his family with me present, though. He has no real friends, so he had no one to reveal his black soul to. Everyone else important to me knows, including couples we used to socialize with. No one has said I’m bitter or spiteful EXCEPT for the cheater because he could not control the narrative to these people or his family. Isn’t that interesting?

      • My STBX called the email I sent his family telling them about our impending divorce and the reason was an “insult to his family and aggressive”.

    • pretty sure I’m not going to believe anything an MRA site says as truth or even real.
      These are the founder, Paul Elam’s own words:
      “In the name of equality and fairness, I am proclaiming October to be Bash a Violent Bitch Month.

      I’d like to make it the objective for the remainder of this month, and all the Octobers that follow, for men who are being attacked and physically abused by women – to beat the living shit out of them. I don’t mean subdue them, or deliver an open handed pop on the face to get them to settle down. I mean literally to grab them by the hair and smack their face against the wall till the smugness of beating on someone because you know they won’t fight back drains from their nose with a few million red corpuscles.

      And then make them clean up the mess. …

      Now, am I serious about this?

      No. Not because it’s wrong. It’s not wrong. Every one should have the right to defend themselves. …

      But it isn’t worth the time behind bars or the abuse of anger management training that men must endure if they are uppity enough to defend themselves from female attackers.
      “I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks, playing on their sexual desires … And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m.. Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.

      But are these women asking to get raped?

      In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.

      They are freaking begging for it.

      Damn near demanding it.

      And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.
      “I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks, playing on their sexual desires … And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m.. Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.

      But are these women asking to get raped?

      In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.

      They are freaking begging for it.

      Damn near demanding it.

      And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.
      “Now, do I really mean all this? Yes.”
      I can’t believe a link to a misogynist hate site showed up here.

      • FLCC- thanks for the rant. I don’t look into the backgrounds of every founder of every site I google. It’s a link on DARVO, what darvo stands for and the article does point out that DARVO happens in both gender cases. Type in DARVO on google and you get multiples links all with the same information contained in the link I posted. I read the article, the information on DARVO matched with other sources and I happened to use that link. I’m not advocating hurting women, or any alternative agenda by a certain group. There’s an unfortunate background of the person you listed that I was not aware of (as already stated above) but the post is on DARVO, which is very real.

  • Should I NOT go out of my way to expose her? I’m going to be sending a change of address letter to our whole address list. I would like to include that my new address is due to her infidelity with John Pepper, a high school friend and affair partner. But I have a feeling my girls (19 and 22) would disown me. One of the problems is that I saw the evidence, confronted them and she promptly deleted it all and denied everything. I was too devastated to think straight and save the evidence. Its my truth against hers. She is very persuasive and everyone will believe her. What should I do?
    CL is truly a life saver. This site saved mine when I finally found her.

    • Hi Marked,

      Do you believe your daughters would disown you for exposing their mother? Do they already know, and if so, have they already given you reason to believe they think it should all be secret? Or do they not know and, if not, do you think it would be best if you talk to them first? At 19 and 22 your daughters are adults and should be capable of an adult conversation about how you are feeling as a human being (not just as the mythical creature that is ‘Dad’). It may be their position is ‘two wrongs don’t make a right’ (their take on you ‘outing’ their mother as a less than perfect mythical creature that is ‘Mum’) or they may surprise you and show they can actually walk a mile in your shoes. Is it possible to talk with them first? I guess then you can make a proper decision about how much detail you give in your ‘change of address’ note – if your girls make it clear they’d be horrified if you told the truth to the world and everyone you know, then you weigh that against your need for everyone in the address book to know the full gory details. Perhaps, if it’s very important to you that you must tell everyone (and really, I can’t condemn you for wanting to do that) then you can find some sort of compromise with your daughters; i.e. don’t give all the gory details but that you need to tell everyone the marriage was broken by your wife’s infidelity. Only you know what would be better for you, I don’t think you can promise anyone you’ll keep your wife’s secrets, but perhaps you can find out a way to be truthful without alienating your daughters? I do think your daughters do not get a pass to abuse you by insisting you keep that secret, and I do think they are old enough to be able to handle that justifiable boundary.

      Hope that is helpful,

      Jayne xx

    • Ugh. She sounds like an evil piece of work.

      You’re in the thick of it, so it’s hard to see things clearly. Are you so sure that everyone will believe her side of things, and not yours?

      I don’t think you need to offer any information about the change of address — it’s not necessary. You don’t have to go out of your way. Just tell the truth, as calmly as possible. If she’s waving her hands around trying to harm you, people will see what she’s doing in time. Let the crazy woman do herself in. Quality people will see right through her.

      Be you, in other words. Don’t protect her. Tell the truth, but don’t write it on her windshield.

    • When he left I cut out a red hexagon with the phrase “STOP! cheating ex husbands and hawkers not welcome here! Peddle your rubbish elsewhere!” And stuck it at my front door. NO HAWKER knocked on my door and even though, for a little while anyway, dickhead still dropped around, everyone else loved it. My kids WERE worried about it but when their friends parents congratulated me on the statement I think they started to get it. My girls at that time were 16, 14 and 10. I did then and do now have NO secrets from them. We are a secret free zone!

  • My girls told us when we broke the news of her wanting a divorce that they didn’t ever want to talk about it. They are sort of in denial. I did mention to each individually that I would never attend an event where John P would be. It was wrong of me but I said they would have to choose between him or me. They both got a bit angry with me but I told them I will never speak of it to them again.
    I guess my letter will just have to remain a fantasy.

    Dear Friend,

       I’m writing to let you know of my recent address change. Due to Susan’s infidelity we are currently in divorce proceedings. John P, her high school friend and affair partner, was obviously showing much greener pastures than I could ever provide. Therefore, I’m now living in a new place in downtown Chicago. If you are ever in Chicago and would like a central place to stay, you are more than welcome. I’m now at:

    Nnn xxxxxx nnnn
    Chicago,   IL   60607

    I have always enjoyed reading about all our family and friends over the years. If you’re comfortable, I’d love to continue hearing from you. Thanks.

    • Unless it’s your name, I’d prefer if you not use folks real names (yes, even if they’re affair partners). I don’t need to be sued, thanks. 🙂

      If I were your friend, I’d think this letter a transparent guise to let me know about her affair and not an invitation to visit.

      The people who ARE friends — tell them personally. Acquaintances? Let them ask you. As nomar points out, all you have to do is tell one main relative or friend and word spreads. Hold your head up and maintain your dignity. Tell the truth if asked, but I’d avoid a letter campaign, JMHO. It then makes you look spiteful and the cheater’s crazy accusations stick.

      I know it’s not fair. But there are other ways to deliver the message.

      • Sorry, Chump Lady, but I can’t resist naming my husband and his affair partner by name right here and right now. I hope if they Google themselves, this comes up. And if they sue, I’ll take the fall.

        He is, now and forevermore, Mr. Chronically Immature Crybaby Cheaterpants Douchenozzle, Jr.

        She is Ms. Barely Functional Alcoholic Homewrecking Skanktress. I believe she also goes by Sucks-At-Life. Might be her maiden name 😉

  • Marked,

    That’s a really nice letter!

    I’m so sorry your girls are effectively choosing to do the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and going ‘LaLaLa…..’ but, as we know, divorce is horrible and traumatic and I guess they both want to hold on to the dream for as long as possible. Hopefully, given time and maturity, there will come a point when you can discuss this whole horrid episode in your lives. You have already alluded to infidelity and with whom, I’m sure they are not ‘thick’. It may well be that their mother is doing her own ‘damage limitation’ but I’m sure the very little you’ve revealed will give them some pause for thought. Who knows, they may, together or individually, come to discuss this with you, especially as they’ll know you made a promise not to bring it up with them again? I hope so, especially if this continues to be something that is a ‘taboo subject’ between you and your daughters. As the divorce is still ongoing, I think it might be early days yet, and going just by your change of address note there – you sound like a really nice guy 🙂

    Jayne x

    • Thanks. I think it would be best to leave out the infidelity part. You are all correct in saying “going out of your way” is not the right way. I’ll just let them know I’ve moved and they can ask if they’re interested. Then I can tell the truth.
      Thank you all. It’s been hell on earth.

  • Lou, she is definitely doing the DARVO thing. My ex wife did the same. As my lawyer told me during the very first session I met him, “100% of all women going through a divorce claim abuse” so – Do not do anything Dumb that will fuel DARVO. You can calmly tell people you are divorcing due to her infidelity and leave it at that. I even used to make a little humor out of it “She likes one of her married co workers just a bit to much for those troublesome marriage vows — nudge nudge”

    Most importantly, her family is HER family, not yours, they are not your friends, they are HER family. You should under No Circumstances discuss ANYTHING with them. They are firmly in her camp and you are whatever she says you are to them so LET IT GO!

    Please let that go Lou.

    Good luck Buddy. You are strong, you are mighty.

    • Ooh – err Tom,

      Trouble is – I’m a woman, I’m going through divorce and my husband DID abuse me – nothing DARVO about it!!

      • Jayne — I’d never heard of DARVO until just now, but if it works the only reason it works is that so many men are genuinely abusive. I don’t think Tom (or his lawyer, for that matter) were suggesting that 100% of all women seeking divorce were FALSELY claiming abuse.

        • Thanks ANR – you’re post came through as I was typing my post below – (I mean below this one 🙂 )

          No offence to you Tom, sorry I got triggered a bit there – fwiw – the first solicitor I saw told me that ALL men, in her 30 years of practice as a divorce lawyer, blamed the divorce on the wife – regardless of WHATEVER he had done. Perhaps the lesson to be learned here is divorce lawyers will say anything and side with anyone and have no qualms about making outrageous generalisations if they think you’ll feel better for hearing it?!? 😀

          • Jayne, I think the lawyers have to give yoiu the worst case scenario. It is actually better for us Chumps. We would go on and on and on until we get shocked out of chumpdom. I looked back and thought no way my wife could do that….. Oh but he was spot on… I think your Lawyer is spot on saying to you what she did about men and divorce.

            They help us get ready for the storm.

            • ‘ I looked back and thought no way my wife could do that…..

              Hallelujah and Amen! Tom – I swear – there is no harm to me I would put past my stbxh now, none whatsoever. (There are some things I can tell myself he wouldn’t do because he is too cowardly to risk the consequences – but I still double lock the doors at night – what craziness is this that loving someone would result in such harm? No one forced these people into relationships with us, on my part I actively tried not to get too involved for the first 2 years of our relationship – the door was open, he could have walked away, instead my reticence was a mountain he had to conquer, I was a trophy he needed on his wall).

      • To clarify:

        My husband chose to start courting another woman less than a month after we returned home from honeymoon, after the wedding he pushed me for. He financially ruined me and has left me facing homelessness. He is able to help me financially find somewhere else to live before the house is repossessed, but he chooses not to – my crime? Calling him for the shit he is and ‘being bitter’ – that’s it! I’ve done nothing else to harm him – except take some of the shine off of his fabulous kibbles when I found out who he really was. (And, like a true chump I walked the reconciliation path and tried really hard to give him nice yummy kibbles for ages after he gutted me – but he ‘couldn’t believe I really loved him because I’d said such horrible things about him when I found out he was such a lying bastard’)! – Is that DARVO – cos he sure as hell is trying to say it is!

      • In my case my Lawyer was trying to prep me. He was making an obvious exaggerated point. Be ready. It can happen. It did happen.

        In some cases women are actually abused, which is even more insulting to the really abused women that some women claim abuse as a tactic in court and expect as the same protection and ruling as women that need to go to shelters for protection.

        But they are out there Jayne, real as you or me.

  • CL – I’m so sorry. I didn’t even think of that. Sorry. Please remove or edit my posts as you see fit. I will not do it again.

    • CL….I believe I saw an affair partner’s name mentioned once on here in another post. Maybe remove that too if you come across it?

  • Tell people you are close with, or that need to know the information for whatever reason. Tell children in age-appropriate fashion. Be prepared for your ex to smear you with mind boggling lies, and expect that plenty of people will believe those lies, especially if they did not know you very well, or if they are new acquaintances of the ex.

    Just found out my ex tells people that I was a horrible bully to him our whole marriage, and he was too weak to stand up to me. But now he’s strong and determined to lead the life he deserves. He also says that I follow the devil, but he is a righteous follower of Jesus. I have no doubt that all of his facebook “friends” believe it, because they don’t know the truth. All of my friends hate ex, because they know the real story. Ex says that is further proof of how evil I am.

    He also blames divorce on me 100%, because he claims I agreed to go to church with him once a month, but didn’t keep my word. The ironic thing is, YES I DID GO WITH HIM ONCE A MONTH, but seriously, the worst thing he can come up with as an excuse for divorcing me is I didn’t go to church often enough (and I’m not even Christian!). He gaslighted and abused me until I went ahead with divorce, which allows him to claim it was ME who walked out on the marriage and am the bad spouse. He leaves out the part about his constant cheating, of course.

    The craziness never ends. All you can do is get divorced, be as limited contact as possible while kids are young and try not to think about the nightmare you lived through.

    • OMG Gladitsover!

      It’s been a while since you’ve talked about your ex’s insanity – hell’s teeth! WTF – You are mighty, mighty, mighty and I guess, just like us all, you started this journey just wanting to be in love and happy – who cares for mighty?!

      Pox on all their houses, and blessings on yours 😀

      Jayne xx

  • Lou, I kept quiet for over twenty years because I was in a false reconciliation. After the final OW, I still kept quiet except with my closest friends and co-workers. I thought I was taking the high road. And then lots of people saw him with the OW even before I filed for divorce and the floodgates opened. Then I couldn’t shut up but I only gave short responses to acquaintances who asked. I didn’t go into gory details but the truth did set me free. You know what’s interesting? A lot of people told me they knew he was a player. Here I was all along thinking I was doing so well protecting his reputation. I bet a lot of people will not be surprised when you finally decide to speak the truth.

    • Too bad these nutjobs don’t understand that the best way to protect their reputations is to behave like a decent person.

    • A couple of months after DDay when I and my close friends had indeed been factually telling people what Cheater did, Cheater screamed at me on the phone, that I should tell my best friend “to stop flapping her cunt around town” (yes that is characteristic of how he often spoke to me, I’m sure never used that level of vulgarity with OW) and referred to my friend telling people he cheated on me as “character assassination.” And at that point, my friend and I didn’t even know about the at least 2 prior OWs that I later found out about. How they hate being exposed, when they worked so hard to conceal their treachery. How dare you?!

  • Admittedly, This doesn’t address the kids issue, but I have taken great pleasure in telling those who ask, that my XH “moved on to greener pastures” or, more recently, “traded me in for a younger model.” 99% know what this means. Usually if I shrug and say “she’s 25,” the other one percent clues in. This has allowed me to have my say while retaining some dignity. Closer friends get the whole story. He cheated. He violated our marital and Life agreements without a single backward glance, and as my therapist says, “the appropriate response to injustice is rage.” … maybe I consider my audience, as the bag lady at the grocery store doesn’t need to hear the whole story, but I am sure as shit not gonna give anyone the impression we mutually agreed to “consciously uncouple.”

  • Lou,

    I am sure your kids have enough to think about just being kids. ADULT bullshit will only cause them more anxiety than they need already being kids with a cheater as a mom.

    My older children, who were younger than the age of your kids when my cheater husband left, thanked me for not disparaging their cheater dad. After all, half of them come from him and that is how a child feels.

    They figured it out all by themselves just from the way the cheater dad conducted himself after the demise of their small world. Children look to the stronger parent for comfort and safety. Just be that person for them.

    When my 2 year old and 6 year old became adults, they asked me questions about what happened and I answered them truthfully. I always told them I would tell them everything when they got older.

    I defended the asshole when the relatives called him names in front of my kids. He was still their dad.

    My oldest really “got it” when she had her own children. She could not imagine how her dad could have abandon her for the OW. The thought made her see him in a whole different light. Made her sad with adult feelings, not that of a child.

    So tread lightly, confess to us here. We are all adults, we have all been there and we feel you. Take the higher road. I promise the people who continue as your friends through your nightmare already know the score. Please think of the long-term consequences of any of your actions. Don’t volunteer, but tell the truth–when asked.

    This scares cheaters more than anything.

    • Telling the truth doesn’t mean calling someone a bad name. I don’t call my STBX “bad names” in front of my child either. My friends don’t either. Neither does my family. Nobody around me does. However, my child figured it out that Dad was a cheater. Did I lie to her when she put it all together and deny her truth? Nope.

      Kids are pretty darned smart. I could not tell my daughter that her father did not have an affair. I didn’t want to be the liar her father had become. And I certainly did not want to deny her the truth.

      Yes I’m an adult and she’s a child. Yes she’ll grow up to have her own reactions and opinions and I can’t control that. I just hope that we can teach our sons and daughters that abuse is never ok. If he’d hit you, I’m sure your family wouldn’t defend him by being silent. Why should an affair be different?

  • I agree that no ones should “call names” in front of the kids. My XH (not the cheating Jackass) had a child with his first wife. She abandoned her child and ran off with another man. Both my XH and his (now grown) son were/are very “bitter” about this woman. Early on in our marriage, I heard the two of them calling her terrible names. I set both of them straight, telling my XH that he shouldn’t talk about her that way in front of his grown child and his son that he can feel whatever he feels about his mother but calling her names was how he dealt with those feelings 20 years ago. It’s fine to be angry or hurt or disgusted or meh with her or what she’s done but not OK to bond with each other through calling names. That was the last time I ever heard the two of them do that. Whether or not it changed their private behavior I can’t say, but the important issue there was to stand up for the right thing. I’m not talking about that early, grief-stricken rage where Chumps and kids say all sorts of things, trying to cope. I’m talking about name-calling or harsh critique that becomes a way of relating to other people.

  • First I had to behave because I wanted him back and wanted him to think I’d changed and was calmer. (Before I knew about the other woman).

    Then for months I’ve had to “play nice” because he has a lawsuit pending and has promised me half. But at first he didn’t seem to think I deserved half; he really seemed to feel his life is more valuable than mine. So I had to play it cool.

    The case is almost over and I’m coming up on a year since d-day. Now that I can show my anger towards him, I kinda can’t be bothered to anymore. It’s just not important any more.


    Lou, I worried a lot about that awful word “bitter” as though it was worse than calling me a baby murder or something. I finally realized no matter what you call it I had every right to be angry over what he did to me.

    And now the bitterness and anger seems to be fading to sadness and melancholy and I’m not sure why. I guess it’s part of the Beauty of Meh.

    Just hang on, Mel. Tell the truth. Hold you head high. You’ll get there.

  • I so not want to come down on a betrayed man, but,Lou, seriously, the post nup?
    Buddy, get some therapy.
    Most amazing story of being a doormat that I have ever read.

    • You write, “I don’t want to come down on the betrayed man, but….”
      And then you proceed to do just that.
      Your comment was needlessly judgmental, unkind, and utterly unhelpful.

  • Dear Marked, I don’t think you should send that letter. I would definitely take out the bit about infidelity and don’t even say that you’ll tell them the reasons for the move if they ask. I totally understand why you want to do it. I wanted to do the same and even thought about sending round an email to everyone at my ex-husband’s work. I’m so glad now I didn’t and I really think you will be relieved later on if you also decide now not to disclose in this way. I’m not sure if I can put into words my reasons but I think it is partly because you will not be able to predict or control people’s reactions and may end up even more hurt than you are now. Imagine if everyone ignores it? I think people may also resent you for putting them into what they feel is a socially awkward position (maybe that’s just an English thing). Telling all these people your personal business can put you in a vulnerable position. Obviously, if people ask face to face what is happening, take CL’s advice and tell them calmly and in a dignified manner if they are people who are close to you. But even then, if they are just nosy-parkers, you don’t need to tell. I regret spilling my guts to my cousin in a moment of weakness. She is a notorious gossip who just loves anything salacious and was pumping me for information. I realised I was just another exciting story for her to spread about and she didn’t care about me at all. Once you send or say something like this, you can’t take it back.
    Best, M

  • I’m not familiar with the legal stuff as I am also going through my divorce currently. With family, however, I did tell my soon to be in laws.

    At the beginning, like you, I didn’t feel the need for them to know. As the situation got worse, my STBX has been making it look to his parents like everything was just fine and also made me look like I’m the one that did not try for the marriage to work. I had enough of this bs and sugar coating the whole situation with his parents.

    My stb-in laws are really nice people. I did not want them to think that everything was just fine especially with the kids. I felt like the way my STBX was describing the situation to his parents is more disrespect to me and the kids, in addition to destroying the family. I wrote them an email (they reside in a different country) just stating the facts without the gory details. I did not call my STBX names or anything like that. I really just wanted them to understand the situation and respect my grief, anger, and indifference towards their son.

    Before I wrote the email, my STBX keeps telling me that I’m being bitter. But when I thought about my reasons for making them aware, it really isn’t. I didn’t tell his family until 1.5 years later. I could have told them at the height of my rage but didn’t. All the cheating and lies he did for years was horrible. I didn’t want to allow him to disrespect me and the kids even more by painting a nice picture for his parents and making me look like the one that destroyed the marriage.

    I don’t think telling the family is bitter. Keep it simple, stick to the facts, and be respectful. Whatever you decide, I wish you well.

  • Have never understood the don’t tell policy. Especially if you are divorcing.

    I like that, “you’re not her PR agent”

    You don’t have to “vomit on everyone’s shoes” as you say, but what the hell is wrong with saying, “yeah she cheated, wanna see the pictures and texts?”.

    She did it, not you. She’s so proud of her narrative let it be. Oh yeah, she’s probably leaving the cheating part out. Or maybe she’s justifying the cheating because you were so “emotionally abusive”.

    Sheesh, what a prize. At the very LEAST show it to your lawyer.

  • I think that PR 101 is: Get your story out first. This puts the cheater on the defensive. If he’s spewing lies about you, he looks less credible. And if you didn’t get your story out first, the sooner you do it, the better. Telling other people the truth increases the chances that you will get much-needed support during a difficult time.

    • Even Marriage Builders, which is pro-reconciliation, advocates telling family and friends about the affair, not only so that the betrayed spouse can get the support she needs, but also to put pressure on the affair and hasten its demise.

      Also, I can almost guarantee that, before D-day, the cheater has already been on a PR campaign maligning you to his family and friends about what a terrible spouse you are, etc. (looking back, my ex-DH already was) to set the foundation for the narrative he has planned: that he was miserable in the marriage because you were such an awful spouse, so you decided to mutually separate; during the separation, he met this wonderful woman who helped and supported him during this difficult time. Telling people about the affair sooner than later pre-empts and short-circuits this narrative and the accompanyting character assassination of you.

  • A mature adult will tell their partner they a are not happy and get out of the relationship FIRST before creating the chaos. The tiny, immature, self seeking momentary gratification nimrod doesn’t give any warning and doesn’t think how this trickles down steam. Because they don’t care. And that’s the bottom line.
    The #1 thing to do is no contact. You have kids so it’s only email of text about kids. This means not to tell her about what you feeling. That will be used against you and she will play and toy with that.

    Don’t tell her what your legal game is. She didn’t tell you her life changing tactic. And right now, it’s on. People like this love the game. They don’t even know what they.created. They chew you up and spit you out while wiping their mouth saying ‘next’. Nope – don’t stand for it. Tell your lawyer what you want and they’ll do the negotiations for you. That’s why you hire one.
    Try not to worry about her next step. You need to treat this as a business negotiation – helps to take the emotion out of it.
    Going forward – like starting right now, don’t believe a word she says. She will be full of shit to get what she wants. Remember you’ve nothing wrong. If she was really that unhappy then shame on her for taking steps to live the life she wanted.
    There is light at the end of the tunnel. I promise. Hang in there. We’ve got your back.

  • Disordered wing nuts all know the best defense is a good offense, which is why they are so quick to get to the narrative first. They count on your chumpiness and fair-mindedness. Your conflict avoidance and false, chumpy belief system that you can “nice” people into reasonable behavior. While you’re there sputtering for polite discourse, she’s wiping her boots on you. When you object to the boot, she claims victim status.

    This is the hard core truth, they attack attack and then when your beat tired they attack some more. After all it is all about the NARC

  • For the first time in a while, I told someone new about all that had happened to me. It felt kind of weird, like I was detached from it somehow. I know it happened but it was in the past now. There was very little anger or bitterness, so I have to say that sharing that information with others is definitely not being bitter, but truthful and honest. There isn’t enough tough honesty in the world anymore.

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