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Dear Chump Lady, How badly will this screw up my kids?

Hi Chump Lady,

This is about my kids so I will try to give a brief overview: January 20, 2014 (MLK Day), 11:20 pm (school had already been canceled for the next two days due to snow) my husband says we need to talk. After a lot of mumbo jumbo this came out: “I have been seeing someone for six years, I don’t know if I love you, don’t know if I love her, don’t know if I can love anyone. I don’t know if I want to stay with her or stay with you. I don’t know why I did it, maybe I am a sociopath”.

After that nothing else he said that night really mattered, he wasn’t apologetic, definitely in that fucked up fog state I kept reading about on infidelity sites. I went to bed that night feeling like I had been hit by a Mack truck. He got up the next morning and headed off to work leaving me home with son (11) and  daughter (13). I managed to hold it together the first snow day but early the second morning my daughter caught me crying at the computer (probably Googling sociopath) and I just couldn’t lie to her.

She is incredibly insightful and empathetic, she would not have let up on me until I told the truth, I know that. But I was also so angry and broken, I would never cover or make excuses again so I told her that her Dad had a girlfriend of six years, someone he had met at work when we lived overseas for his job. Of course he had just spent the week and a half before Christmas in her country for “work” (God, he sucks hard) and my D picked up on this right away. She was angry, devastated, you name a bad emotion, she had it. She and her Dad had always been so tight, even when he could barely stand to look me in the eye (geez, I wonder why?) the two of them would spend quality time together going to museums, hiking, etc.

After this news she shut him out, would go to her room when he came home and not come out, refused to speak to him, etc. I, being the chump, would insist they go off on shopping trips or whatever to “rebuild” their relationship. She would go along if I forced it but otherwise she did a 13 year old’s version of no contact — who knew she was so much better at boundaries than I was?

In the meantime I contacted the school counselor right away and went in and told her everything — I could barely speak I was crying so hard. The counselor was awesome, she took on the responsibility of telling teachers and others who needed to know so I was spared that awfulness. I also got her in to see a therapist right away, she had seen someone when we first came back to the United States for adjustment issues so we already had someone we trusted. Her therapist was awesome also, reinforced D’s boundaries when I was pushing to have her Dad come into therapy with her so they could rebuild their relationship — that never did happen.

Within two or three weeks of Dday I found pictures of the two of them on romantic cruises (gross), receipts for other sexcations and expensive presents. Even more important, I found a journal page he had written (out of guilt?) after I told him I thought he had given me chlamydia and he needed to tell his girlfriend to get tested. It was two hand-written pages of woman after woman, prostitute after prostitute, Ashley Madison hookups, random bar hookups, work hookups, you name it, it was there. It started when I was eight months pregnant with my second child and never stopped. I was so thankful for this discovery, it went pretty quickly from “what is wrong with me?” to “what is wrong with him?” My D knows nothing about this other info but you can imagine I was not the most stable person at the time. I did my best not to say inappropriate things but I know I slipped every now and then, I’m human and I was traumatized.

So, fast forward, D, now 14, no longer lives with us. She made the decision, and I supported it, to move to another state and live with her aunt (husband’s sister who has been truly amazing) and 13 year old cousin. She didn’t feel emotionally safe here (I can relate and probably wasn’t helping the situation either) and needed separation. My husband, who will be my ex eventually, and I are still in the same house so our son can finish sixth grade at his beloved elementary school. What about S, you ask — as far as we, his sister, his school counselor and D’s therapist can tell, he knows absolutely nothing about the OW. He is having one of his best years that I can remember now that the chaos of unknowingly living with a hardcore cheater and then the initial discovery has worn off. Our house is actually pretty peaceful right now and H is spending more time with S than he has in years. We have made the decision to let him have this year of innocence and ease him into the idea of divorce when it gets closer to happening.

And now my question/dilemma — my husband, after a couple of months of being a complete dick that included overtly texting the OW while looking like a sullen teenager, the silent treatment, disparaging me during phone calls with the OW (yeah, I eavesdropped) and other nasty behavior, has done a 180 degree turn around. Once I got a backbone and told him what I expected to get in the divorce (lots of money and full custody) he had a “moment of clarity.” Whatever, what matters to me is that he is walking the walk and wants to do what’s right for our kids. He has cut it off with the OW and has listened to me when I needed to rage at him. I know his anger towards me is still there, I see it every now and then. He is especially angry that I told our D and I have to admit, now that I see how traumatized she is I wonder if I have really messed her up. Please, don’t worry, I know that his actions are what messed this whole thing up but I wish I could have done things differently — I don’t know how, just different.

I am going to visit my D this month and I don’t know if I should talk to her about her Dad, let it go or push her to open up. I want to apologize for the trauma she is dealing with now and whatever part I had in it. I also want my D to have a father she can like and respect — I know that is blown out of the water right now but hope they can rebuild something. When she first moved away in July, H would call and leave messages for her all the time, asking that she call him back. After a couple of weeks his sister and I told him he had to stop, it felt like stalking and caused her a lot of anxiety. Since then he has respected that, she has talked to him a few times on the phone and skype but really limits contact. This is tearing me up, being a chump and all, and I do see he is really trying. Just don’t know what my role in this is anymore. Any advice from others in the same type of situation would be appreciated.

Sorry this is so long, none of this is ever brief, is it?


Dear BAM,

I’m just going to take this point by point, because we have a lot of ground to cover. There are so many alarm bells going off, I’m going to just triage with the DO THIS FIRST item, okay?

1. SHUT UPOnce I got a backbone and told him what I expected to get in the divorce (lots of money and full custody) he had a “moment of clarity.” 

This sends chills up my spine. Yeah, of course he had a moment of “clarity” — you just gave notice that you might be imposing consequences. Never, never, NEVER tell these fuckwits what you plan to do. JUST DO IT.

Don’t you find the timing of his 180 to be a bit disingenuous? This man had a double life for OVER A DECADE, that you KNOW of. Don’t trust a word he says! He’s broken up with the OW? Oh really? Which one? He’s going to do right by the kids? Gee, you want to take a sociopathic liar’s word on that? No, BAM, you get a goddamn lawyer and the lawyer ensures that he does right by the kids, because you CANNOT TRUST HIM.

If he means what he says? He will not mind that you got a lawyer, because he has enough insight to know he’s a cheating piece of shit you cannot trust. He will do the right thing REGARDLESS of what you do.

But you, chump that you are, think you can control this outcome. So if you’re very good, and play nice, why he’ll be nice too!

That never works. Ask us all how we know.

Never, EVER tip your hand to these freaks. Every time you rage at him, you give him kibbles and centrality. That’s bad. What is worse, however, is that you give him a big look inside your head and ammunition with which to manipulate you. No contact is so powerful because it deprives these abusers of the raw materials they need to mindfuck. Are you still in love with him? He’ll act loving. Are you threatening to take the money? He’ll get to it first. Are you going to tell the friends and neighbors? He’ll undercut you with his narrative and paint you the crazy.

For the love of all that is holy, STOP TALKING TO HIM. Lawyer up immediately. It’s 10 months overdue.

2. Get out of limbo. This is absolute bullshit that you’re staying together so your son can have a nice year in the 6th grade. I’m sorry, but discovering a treasure trove list of prostitutes, OW, and random hook-ups trumps having a splendid year in elementary school.

Think of it this way — you’re in a burning building, but you don’t want to run out because your son is having such a lovely tea party with his stuffed animals.


Dad’s a sociopath. Says so himself. He is exposing you and his family to grievous harm. You need to protect yourself and your children from further harm. You need to DIVORCE. That never comes at a good time. We don’t wait for the stars to align to run out of burning buildings, we just fucking RUN.

Will your son be hurt? Yes, of course. That’s not your fault and it’s not going to hurt less in the 7th grade. In fact, we can argue it will hurt MORE because you’ve all kept this big secret from him that his sister knows and he does not. That’s totally fucked up. TELL HIM.

I always advise people to tell the kids in an age appropriate way without editorializing. (Dad has a girlfriend, has had many girlfriends, we must divorce. Versus, Dad is an asshole.) You’re only as sick as your secrets — and for 10 months you’ve been tip-toeing around a HUGE secret.

Will it piss Mr. Cheaterpants off? Yes, of course, but you’re not speaking with him. See item #1.

3. Your daughter is the only sane person in this clusterfuck. The only one with enough sense to run out of the burning building and go no contact has been your daughter. Perhaps it’s the therapy she got, but for whatever reason, she’s the only one reacting appropriately and not eating shit sandwiches. She’s not living the pretty lie of a continued intact family — she’s reacted in horror and gotten herself the hell away.

Let her be an example to you. Get YOURSELF away and then you can provide the kind of environment she can feel safe in — an authentic one.

4. Quit taking responsibility for your children’s relationship with their dad. Your kids have to figure out their relationship with dad, and that is their burden to bear, not yours. You cannot mediate this relationship, you can only facilitate it in the ways the courts specifies — like make sure they’re ready and available every other weekend and two weeks in the summer. How they feel about dad and how much they contact him is THEIR business.

BAM, I say this with total compassion, because we’ve all been there — but you’re waltzing with a corpse. This marriage is a dead, it’s a sham, and you’re trying so very hard to pretend it isn’t for the Sake of The Children. To give them that pretty lie of their happy, intact, loving family. It doesn’t exist. There is no “year of innocence.” You can’t make up innocence when you’re living with a sociopath.

You can tell yourself, well, we’ll “ease into it” — this death thing. But you keep waltzing with the corpse. That’s just unnatural. Your daughter sussed it out. “Eww. It’s dead. This is creepy. I gotta get out of here.” You’re still waltzing. You won’t tell your son it’s dead. Perhaps he won’t notice. Eventually, we can let him in on it. Maybe.

If this happened in January, 6th grade is over and we’re well into 7th. You’re still there. You’re still keeping your husband’s sick secrets.

This isn’t helping your kids. It’s hurting them. What’s your role in all of this, you asked? To be the sane parent. To model strength and self-respect. Your job is to be the safe haven for your kids. And they’ll know they can trust you because you’re honest with them and yourself. You’re not in that place now — I suggest you get there ASAP.

I know you’re traumatized, but it’s past time to ACT. Start protecting yourself. See a lawyer and make that escape plan. Insist he move out. File for temporary support. Get this ball rolling.

5. Trust that he SUCKSI also want my D to have a father she can like and respect. BAM, that’s not your job. She doesn’t have to like him and he’s not respectable. If she likes or respects him is her business. Quit playing public relations for the sociopath. She’s not traumatized because you told her the truth. She’s traumatized BECAUSE of HIS truth — who he IS. She may also be traumatized because you won’t live in that truth and protect yourself from further harm. You’re sticking around for more mindfuckery thinking you can control this shit.

Quit trying to mediate everyone else’s relationships with each other — father/son, father/daughter — and focus on YOURSELF. Do you think a man who risked your health, who has been serially cheating for over a decade is someone YOU can like or respect? Do you want a continued relationship with this person? What are you going to do next? How are you going to save yourself? What kind of life are you going to build for you and your kids?

Put your energies there. On YOU. He’s a monster. We run away from monsters.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • BAM – sticking around for this and lying by omission/building up his reputation for your kids is not only sad for your kids to watch right now, it is going to PISS you off later when you do hit the point of being over it.

    When your son idolizes this a-hole and you have to explain to him that you’re divorcing, watch how fast your ex blames it on you and your son BELIEVES that because you’ve been pretending he’s done nothing wrong this whole time. How are you going to feel when your son goes to live with his dad and whichever OW he chooses to chump next, because you’ve been helping him fake being a good person??

    Clean this up, stat. Do everything CL told you to immediately!!!

    • “When your son idolizes this a-hole and you have to explain to him that you’re divorcing, watch how fast your ex blames it on you and your son BELIEVES that because you’ve been pretending he’s done nothing wrong this whole time.”

      lale is absolutely right! BAM, I can relate so much to your situation. I reacted much like you did. I tried to be friends with my Cheater for the sake of my children. He wasn’t living here, but I let him come over for family dinners every night. We all went out to dinner regularly. We watched movies together as a family. Etc. I did that because I thought it would be best for my kids, even though it was killing me inside to sit down next to Cheater at a dinner table and eat the shit sandwich with a fake smile on my face.

      Then I got my discovery from him and realized that he was using my chumpiness to paint a false picture that what he did really wasn’t bad at all. That he is in fact a good person, caught in a bad circumstance, doing what any good person would do. That — look! — even the chump (me) knows he’s a good person or else why would we still be such good friends? (And more personal public relations bullshit blah fuckity blah blah along those lines.)

      I realized then that he was using that same line of reasoning with the children. Look what great friends your mom and I are! No hard feelings! No foul by anyone!

      When I realized what he was doing, I went NC immediately, and it was the best thing I have ever done, as far as my healing. I have told my children that Dad made some bad choices and those choices have consequences, and that it is similar to someone being a bully at school. Someone who is being bullied does not want to be friends with their bully — does not want to have to sit with them at the lunch table, for example. It’s the same with their Dad and I. He did some things that were very hurtful, and I do not want to be his friend any more.

      Some day when they are older, I will tell them about the adultery. At that point, they will see that his actions and the consequences match. My cheater will not be able to twist reality by saying — hey, how bad could it have been? We were still friends afterwards!

      • MrsDorianGray,

        I was trying to figure out a way to explain to my 7 and 6 year old why Daddy and I are divorced because they still don’t understand and are still upset that he’s gone. I’m using the bully analogy too and have used the same kind of language with consequences. I wish it had dawned on me earlier to phrase it that way. I can relate to everything that you said, I’ve been really lax on my boundaries and how I behave with my X for the same reasons, and have done a lot of the same things you did. Thank you for sharing.

        • You tell them: Mums and dads are not allowed to have boyfriends or girlfriends while they are married. Dad got a girlfriend so that is why we are divorcing.

          • That is what i told my boys (8 and 12) i also explained about good choices and bad choices. everyday they do something and i tell them good choice and talk about rewards, or bad choice and talk about consequences. i try hard not to bad mouth my XH. honestly, it is the boys who are bad mouthing him. and they make me laugh, and cry sometimes. but then i tell them that they shouldnt keep saying that even if it is funny because he is still their dad. i dont care if they like him or not but they will respect him.

            so i am pushing the good/bad choice thing as much as possible. and when talking about dad. i tell them he made a bad choice. i think they are getting it. they got it faster then i did.

            you have to be honest and truthful!!! it is a hard line to walk being honest and telling the truth about dad, and bad mouthing him. i messed up more often then i wanted. but i always try harder NEXT time not to tell the kid kids that dad sucks or is an asshole. we are getting there together. and my kids know that i love them, and they can tell me anything. they trust, believe and love me.

            oh, and another word of advice. my youngest (8 yrs) was really troubled by dad leaving and not living at home. he was terrified i was going to sell the house (probably because little ears heard me talking about it a few times to my mom). he was super whiney and crying at the drop of a hat. i hugged him more and more. i kept telling him i loved him. it wasnt until one night late, while in bed, i just casually told him “you know i love you and will always love you and i will never ever let you go” THAT was what he was waiting for. he asked me “so you will never leave me” i told him “i will never ever go away and leave you. You are stuck with me until you are old and gray. we might have to move to another house but we will go together and i will always be in your life forever.” i could see his little body actually release the fear and anguish he was carrying. WHO KNEW?

            i thought he knew but sometimes you have to say the words. his crying and whining has almost stopped. he just wanted to know i would not leave him too. (like dad) this kid is 8 years old. pretty smart. i still had to say it outloud. if you have kids this age, give or take, or maybe even older (i said it to my 15 year daughter too after this and she sagged a little also) you need to tell them you will never leave them.

      • This is so timely. I just got an email from Asshat asking what I have planned for tomorrow for our son’s 8th birthday. He just assumes he’s going to be included even though he cheated and gaslighted me for so long I don’t know what’s up and down anymore.

        I tried to be the ‘we’re friends for the kids’ card as well. I can’t do it anymore. He sucks and he should not be able to skate by lazy parent style and ride on my coattails.

        NC is definitely the way to go. I need to embrace that as well.

    • “When your son idolizes this a-hole and you have to explain to him that you’re divorcing, watch how fast your ex blames it on you and your son BELIEVES that because you’ve been pretending he’s done nothing wrong this whole time.”

      This is a pretty crucial point, I think. Especially considering the fact that your daughter knows what’s going on. Your son could potentially be getting two different stories: one from you and his sister and one from Dad. I don’t know what the answer is and I don’t know how you explain the truth of these circumstances to a five year old.

  • My thoughts:
    “I was so thankful for this discovery, it went pretty quickly from “what is wrong with me?” to “what is wrong with him?””- I can totally relate. When I found out about my sausage’s online life and the things he was posting/saying about others on the different forums…well, immediately I got over the ‘what’s wrong with me’ phase and saw him for who he really was. In a way, that list of conquests will carry you through any self-doubt.

    “What’s your role in all of this, you asked? To be the sane parent. To model strength and self-respect.” – I completely agree with CL here. Back when I was closer to Dday, I read something somewhere that said something along the lines of, ask yourself what you would want your children to do if they were in this situation. Basically, they learn from us and if we can’t have and enforce healthy boundaries, if we don’t have self respect and demand respect from others, if we gobble down shit sandwiches, then they will too. What if they were to grow up and go through the same damn situation, what would you as their mother advise them? You would say leave their cheating, lying partner’s ass in the dust pronto. Children learn from their parents behavior. YOU must show them how to behave when someone grievously violates your boundaries and lies to you and disrespects you.

  • BAM,

    Do was CL recommends. You are dealing with a person who likely has a personality disorder of some kind and it’s not your job to figure out which one. It is your job to protect yourself and your kid. You protect your kid by protecting yourself and that means getting away from abuse.

    I get it. It’s hard to get the hell out from underneath this but you can do it. This guy is a serial cheater who gets his kicks from abusing you and women. He is an ABUSER. Once you get that through your head you will start to act accordingly. The one and only thing you need to remember when you are dealing with psychopaths (and abusers) is do not make yourself more vulnerable. Do not engage, no threats, no ultimatums, just get out and get a good lawyer.

    Yes, staying for the kids seems noble but it’s really avoidance. Your son might like his elementary school but he sure would like a stable parent. YOU are that stable parent. Get out of this mess and go no contact.

    I text my ex and email. That’s it. And only about finances and our child. Period. And I THINK if he really needs to hear anything and I mean ANYTHING from me. I do not let him know ANYTHING about my personal life. And I learned this the hard way because what CL says is true; if they know something about you, they will use it against you. This is what evil is; it’s using someone’s vulnerability against them whether that’s money, children, your emotional well-being. These abusers will use that to gain an advantage over you. So get your ducks lined up and do not let him know your plans. Protect yourself.

    When you protect yourself, you protect your kids too.

    • Compassion, empathy, the belief in the goodness of man, belief in their ability to be better….more ‘vulnerabilities’ in their eyes which they WILL use to manipulate you. So, so awful…

  • I found myself nodding, & umm-humm’ing throughout all of CL’s response. TRUST that he SUCKS! The Maya Angelou quote “When someone tells you who they are, believe them”? Yeah, this applies to him. There will never be a good time, & this sucks donkey balls. No contact is the ONLY way to be. It’s hard with kids, but take CL’s rule #1 to heart!!! Do NOT show your hand! My bi-polar narc keeps trying to find my buttons, & relentlessly pushes them, but I can tell that he’s looking for a response. Before I took NC to heart, I showed him what my buttons are, & he is still trying to push them. I just don’t let him know it bothers me, & I can tell he’s trying to find that damn button! “Damn, it was so obvious before, maybe I’ll threaten this to get a response…” It’s f’ing kibbles & they eat it like manna, it’s what fuels their ego. Stop fanning the flame, take away the fuel & it will eventually burn out. Good luck – please learn from our mistakes!

    • He “thinks he might be a sociopath”? That is righteously fucked up. Hes not even a human. Just a masquerade of a human.

  • definitely in that fucked up fog state I kept reading about on infidelity sites

    I got stuck on this one.

    This is why those infidelity sites are so danged harmful: they encourage and enable denial as a coping mechanism, and that rarely works out well as a long-term plan.

    The man has been leading a double-life for 6 years and owned up to possibly being a sociopath because he doesn’t feel empathy like he thinks he should, so the only one in a fog is you, and that fog is called denial.

    At first, it’s understandable. But to do on with it and add into it all this business of trying to manage his relationship with his kids and to try to manage an image of an intact, normal family is not going to end well, and it makes me wonder how long you’ve been doing this kind of thing to make this marriage/family thing appear to “work”.

    If this sounds judgmental, well know this: many, many of us have done something similar. Some of us also had poor coping strategies that were reinforced by mythos and pseudoscience spread on infidelity forums by folks who try to hide their dysfunction under the noble cause of “promoting the institution of marriage”.

    Time to come up out of that rabbit hole. The air is fresh out here in the real world.

    I won’t kid you by saying it’s easy in the beginning. Kicking your hopium habit is not easy.

    But in the end, living an authentic life is your only real hope of finding real contentment. Burying your head in the sand or pulling your dress up over your head to cover your eyes and chanting “na-nana-boo-boo, I can’t hear you” is not a workable alternative.

    Get a lawyer, don’t threaten, don’t share your strategy because you don’t have a partner: you have an adversary, and he is not so deep in denial that he doesn’t know that.

    • Bam,
      Sounds like your fuckballs has a “sex addiction”. I use quotes here because, while the pros can label it all they want – its just a new way to relieve the responsibility of the cheater and try to therapy that bullshit away – ring the bell, Bam – school’s in – that shit doesn’t go away – EVER. I went through a long phase of really bad therapy – told this was a “disease” and to disengage because “slip-ups” happen. I now view this as: hey there chump, put on your denial face while poor baby works on his “disease” with my hopium that if I could just get my own personal boundary issues managed better, this whole mess will just go away. Poof! I have boundaries. No other women – no porn – no craigslist hook-ups -no texting or calling people in the night. And while I spoke this boundary over and over in therapy, somehow, my boundaries were always something I needed to “work on”. I look back and think – that is totally fucking ridiculous. Like… seriously. Fuck off. Don’t buy into that “sex addiction” bullshit. Its a matter of character – plain and simple. His values did not align with mine. This has nothing to do with my boundaries.
      Take a moment to gather your plan – and fucking run. He is not worth it. You can’t fix stupid.

  • You might do your son more harm than good, pretending things are fine.
    I know this from personal experience with my kids.

    Your H has shown his true colors. Believe it.

    Your kids relationships are their own, and they will navigate that on their own over time.
    Good luck.

  • If if had kids, I would walk through fire, face a thousand man army–do whatever I had to do to keep my kids with me. You’re letting this guy’s sister raise your 14 year-old because won’t kick him to the curb. How is that going to play out as she is becoming a woman? You are teaching her that she is worth less to you than keeping up appearances and making your aon’s 6the grade year go OK. In 10 years, your son will be a grown up and your daughter might be a stranger to both her parents.

    The first part of your letter reads like you get that he’s what he says he is–a sociopath, The second part of your letter reads like you are just running out the clock until you can go back to not noticing because he is “better.” If you are worried about your kids, the first order of business is to get yourself into therapy with someone who will shake you weekly into reality before you lose your daughter and your son because you are busy with your head in the sand, figuring to get a divorce some day when the stars are all aligned and no one will hurt over it. I know this sounds harsh, but I am a stranger to you, standing up for your daughter, who deserves a mother as strong and brave as she is. And for you, who deserves a life with a man who isn’t a total freak.

    • Agreed, LAJ, the first thing I felt is that BAM has chosen her cheating husband over her vulnerable teenage girl. Fourteen is just about the hardest age for girls and she needs her mother around to keep a close eye on her. This is the time when girls lose their self confidence and BAM needs to be there to bolster her up.

      BAM, you think your husband has reformed or is sorry? No. He’s sorry he got caught and he’s working very hard behind the scenes to steal or hide martial assets so that he came come out pretty in the divorce. I guarantee you. That man will NEVER stop cheating.

      If you and your husband value your son’s stability so much, ask your husband to leave so that you can remain in the house for the year. I see only problems that your son is already bonding with his “Disneyland” parent and when the news comes out he’ll be highly conflicted. Stop cushioning things.

      • The person I felt the worst for was the 14-year-old.

        I don’t want to go into all the details, but I know two adult women who went to live with other relatives as kids/young teens, and they do not have a good relationship (if any) with their parents today. And I’ve been trying to be a stable support person for a teenager who is estranged from a parent, and OMG the damage that has been done. The not good relationship with the parent was happening throughout the years, but when everything went down? It was at the age of 14.

        • Yes, this jumped out at me, too. This girl has been traumatized, moved away from her family (not just her father, who is the only person she is rightly trying to avoid). This is not ok. She may be well cared-for, but that does not mean she’s invulnerable.

          BAM, I think you need to step up not just for you, but for your kids. You’re trying to protect them by spackling over the behavior of a sociopath, and in the long run I fear it will have the exact opposite effect.

  • BAM, I’m sorry this is happening to you, but it is time to act. Your son is going to be upset anyway and anytime you break it to him. He’s going to feel violated, lied to and confused. Rip the band aid off now before he hits full-blown adolescence and has to deal with all that, too.

    Did it occur to you that your son may be already confused because his sister “abandoned” him? The explanation she gave is going to be another lie. And he has no clue.

    I feel for you, but it is time to find an excellent attorney and an excellent therapist for yourself. DO NOT TIP YOUR HAND and let your husband know your plans. Get all your financial records, his journal and any other evidence to your attorney, then wait for him to be served before you tell your son.

    Once this whacko is out of your direct orbit, you can re-build your family with your daughter, son and honesty. Hugs.

  • I can offer perspective from two angles. I, too, discovered I had married a stranger. When I found out about his online presence, how he contacted women like a salesperson working a marketing call list, how he regarded pornography like an endless list of interchangeable parts — designed for his pleasure and having no human feeling for any of the “parts” being connected to a whole, real woman, and how callous he was about having multiple random sexual partners, totally disregarding any risk to me as inconsequential — I lost whatever emotional attachment I had for him, forever. It was bad enough that I had tried to spackle the information about the affair I found out about first, and had been doing the pick me dance. Only a co-dependent chump can spackle like that. So it was like ripping a big bandage off of an open wound, only to discover the wound was getting worse, not better. Painful, but necessary so that the needed “medicine” can be applied and treatment started to actually heal the wound.
    With regard to your children, during my healing process I realized that my father had been a Narcissist, and that many of my problems had started with my family of origin when I was a young child. Having a father who is like that is NOT EVER a good experience for any child. However, if it has happened, learning the truth about it is essential to start the healing. The children will learn and you will learn not to expect certain things from their father. You cannot ever control the situation and you can never force a personality disordered person to do anything that is for the benefit of anyone. Many times their actions don’t even benefit themselves — they just cannot change. They can “act” a part for a limited amount of time, but they will only do so if they perceive a benefit for themselves.
    Please listen to the advice you have been given by ChumpLady. She has charted an excellent path to sane living and healing for both you and your children. I had two son’s who had to survive having a Narcissist Father, and they grew up well. It was not easy, or trauma free for me, and sometimes my sons struggled with the situation, but they are stronger than you might imagine. They still love what they imagine their father to be, but they also realize that he is incapable of some things and that none of it is their fault. Teaching them to accept the things they cannot change is a major accomplishment. Good luck with your struggle for a better life — time and clear thinking will improve your situation tremendously!

    • Portia…could you desribe for me, BAM, and other chumps how you navigate (stomach) your son’s love for their narcissistic, deceitful, sicko father?

      My daughters were 17 & 23 on DDay. They dont know everything but (by reading a personal email) know he had an affair with a patient and when he tried to end it, she threatened to turn him into the board if he didnt leave me for her. She wasnt going to be a chump!! he chose her and he is giddy happy with this rich, exotic, 13 years younger adulteress…who was married throughout our divorce and kept the whole affair and our family’s destruction secret from her husband and teenage kids for full year. But her most recent xboyfriend (not making this up) knew and caused a lot of trouble. My daughters lost their home (i moved to new city; tried living in marital home 1 year and couldnt heal.) My daughters were traumatized by the affair and felt ashamed in the comminuty.The affair went on for 4 years before discovery. Many other horrible details i am leaving out.

      I want our daughters to be able to love their dad but i want them to be protected from his dangerous selfishness. And OW’s!! How did you get to meh with your sons relationship with cheater dad..knowing his narcissism?

      • If you carefully read the way I phrased it, I think you will see that I cannot control the way my son’s think — they still have a way to go before they reach the state of mind I have achieved.

        What struck me about this particular situation is that it is (at the very least) a DUAL problem. I was attracted to N men in part because my father was a N and my mother was codependent. I was “trained” to accept many things as normal, when they clearly are not normal or healthy. So the basis of the problem was in my being attracted to someone who was not healthy for me, and how I had to overcome not only the devastation of a relationship with this type of man, but also the tendancy I had to “have a bad picker” because of my family of origin issues. The advantage I had as a mother was that I could and would talk to my son’s about these things while they were young. My mother never recognized the issues, or talked about them until I was a grown woman. She was raised in a home where her father dominated, and no one dared talk about anything. She had to figure many things out by herself, and ironically finally gave voice to many feelings after she saw me enduring some of the things I endured. She knew the behavior was wrong, but she didn’t know how to articulate it. I knew the behavior was wrong, but because I had more freedom than she ever had, I was able to research the problem, and I never saw much sense in the rule of silence, so I asked for help. When I got help, I was able to help my mother, my sisters, and my own sons. Knowledge is power, and articulating the knowledge in a language that your family understands is a great gift and a great burden.
        The cycle of abuse that goes on for generations can only be stopped by warriors like ChumpLady, who refuse to accept the BS that is constantly fed to us by our families, our friends, the media, and people who make a lot of money trying to “reconcile” us to something that we clearly know is wrong.

        As far as my sons go, I can understand their need to love their father. I needed to love mine, too, and also wanted to feel he accepted and valued me. When I realized he was not capable of truly loving anyone, or ever accepting me, or acknowledging my value, it was liberating for me. I could stop trying to “please” him, and just accept what he was.
        My son’s see the things that originally attracted me to their father — he can “act” in a charming manner, is well travelled and can be interesting. He professes to love his son’s, because it provides an air of normalcy for him. My son’s don’t know the difference — or at least they have not talked about it with me, yet. As long as their needs were being taken care of, I was able to stomach his motivation. It was the price I paid to obtain the financial assistance I needed to raise my sons. However, although I did not volunteer information to my sons, I would not lie to them. As they grew older and figured things out, I told the truth if they asked questions. They are very bright, and they saw through their father’s attempted cover ups. His actions always spoke louder than his words. I also used these times to talk to my sons about what it really means to be a father and a husband. Only time will tell if they are able to process this information and turn into much better fathers and husbands than their father ever was.

        Did I answer your question sufficiently?

        Incidentally, I seriously doubt your ex is living happily ever after. This type of personality disordered individual never really changes his ways, and he is a cheater who married a cheater. They will both cheat again, it is just a matter of time. Neither of them will ever be happy or satisfied, because the grass is always greener somewhere else. The are incapable of change. Once you really believe and accept that, and if you can help your daughters to see that, all of you will experience relief. It is the point where true healing and growth actually begins.

        • Portia, thank you for a thoughtful reply. I understand what you are saying. it sounds like you are healing into your wholeness. good for you. I feel more liberating and sane with each passing day.

          From a developmental perspective, how and what we say to our children depends on their ages. Mine were much older than yours. While we cannot make anyone think anything, as chumps, we know it is possible to get mindfucked into thinking certain things….that what is not real is real. And vice versa.

          So how badly will all this screw up the kids…what do we say, not say to them? Not sure. But i know Chump Nation helps me feel more sane than i have in 5 years. And i know i want to teach my daughters to love and forgive AND have boundaries so they can protect themsevles from lies, blameshifting, entitlement that now directed towards them from X & OW.

          Heck i taught them how to protect their teeth from cavaties with regular brushing, floss, and flouride. Now i need to teach them how to protect their hearts and minds from the decay of ..adultery.

          Thanks again Portia and I hope other chumps will keep posting how they assist their kids.

  • Bam,

    My heart goes out to you in this hard time. CL is really right. Listen to her. It is hard to let go of control in such an awful situation. The powerlessness is part of the humiliating injustice of it all. So sorry you are experiencing that!

    Focus on what you do control (you) and let that energize you forward. You can be the sane parent. Don’t buy his lies anymore and don’t buy the lies that he is something that he is not. Live in the truth and the truth will set you free!


  • First, sorry for the typos above. IPad and fingers gone wrong.

    Second–you say you are not sure what your “role is in all of this.” Glad to help out with that.

    1. Your first role is to be a healthy, authentic human living an authentic life and not a lie. To live with your eyes and ears open. To safeguard your “one wild and precious life.”
    2. Your second role is to be the Mama Bear, protecting her cubs from danger–in this case, a self-declared sociopath. The fact that this is all so fucked up that her aunt has to protect your daughter from harassment by this disordered freak of a bio parent (not a father) and that you have outsourced this job is all you need to know that younhave abdicated your parental role at this point.

    So think about who you are. What kind of mother do you intend to be? And I write as the child survivor–whose clueless father left her to be raised and abused by a narcissistic mother. That’s a tough road for a kid to walk. Hope you rethink what you are doing.

    • I have the echo this advice, BAM. Shit gets real very fast, once the kids start to individuate as teens, and you are NOT doing anyone any favors by spackling. Get you shit together under YOUR roof for YOUR kids. Be the parent.

      I am getting closer to Meh, so not going to do a huge narrative post, but the moral of my story is that spackling, and trying to manage your Ex’s relationship with your kids is futile. I tried. It backfires, because sociopaths fuck.things.up. It can result in real harm, aneorexia, bulimia, self-harm and suicidal ideation, and that is just the acute stuff-the insomnia and anxiety and depression may haunt Dd always. Your son is not as stupid as your ex needs him to be and neither are you.

      Nearly two years out from Dday, ten months on another continent so far, and we are starting to heal, BECAUSE we got out of the burning building.

      Put down the hopium pipe and step away from the crazy. It is your only chance. I would spare your child, and myself what we went through. Having a cheating Dad is bad enough…..


    • LovedAJackass…please see my post above to Portia. I am trying balance how to
      1) accept i cannot control, nor do i want to, my daughters relationship with their narcissist cheating dad who has been raging and shaming THEM for not giving him kibbles (after discovery and all their hurt)
      2)teach them about how to conduct one’s precious heart and soul from this level of pathology ( see above).

      I read: the kids will figure it out on their own. Hell i was 55 before i learned how to protect myself from a narcissist-cheater husband of 24 years whom i thought had my back. Seems they shouldnt have to go into this blindly as we did.

      No, def not. That would seem to be future chump-in-training…

      • 2) should be..
        *Teach them how to protect their precious hearts and souls from this level of selfishness and pathology*

        • I think you live an authentic life, and model that for your kids. You understand that you can’t “fix” their father and neither can they. You teach them to set boundaries and maintain them. You talk through with them individually about the kind of relationship they as individuals want to have with him. You tell them you loved him and you understand that they love him and at the same time have big issues with him. You keep open the lines of communication so they know they can come to you, but you let them learn from dealing with him how to navigate the relationship for themselves. You tell the truth but you don’t lay your emotions on them; those go to your friends and your therapist and your priest/minister and Chump Nation. And you pray hard, if you are a believer, to have the strength to live with your fear. Work on making a strong family unit for yourselves, no matter they age of the kids. Work on you–your strength, your health, your confidence. Then the kids have a safe base to work from. My first therapist helped me learn this stuff when I was helping to raise 2 traumatized kids living in my home. It’s a lot easier when they aren’t your bio kids, I am sure, but the process is the same.

  • Oh, Honey. The sociopath is having a grand time getting kibbles from your son. He’s probably planning to have split custody so that he doesn’t have to pay any child support.

    Your son may have a hard time forgiving you for lying all this time. If you care about him, tell him the truth.

    • “He’s probably planning to have split custody so that he doesn’t have to pay any child support.” I thought this exact same thing.

  • BAM, one more thought, and it’s a very touchy one. I’m sorry to be the one to raise it, but I’ve worked with adolescent girls as a counselor and feel I must bring it up.

    Your daughter’s reaction and move far from her family is a big red flag. Her behavior suggests that she may have had a bad experience with her father, your husband. Perhaps she met some of the partners while on her trips with him. More concerning is that she may have been subject to his objectification of women and possibly abused by him.

    Please seek help for yourself first so you can help her with whatever she is feeling now. And what your son will feel when he is clued in.

    • Yes, THIS^^! If there’s one thing that gave my daughter “daddy issues”, it’s that my idiot ex tried to introduce the kids to his fun playmate before he ever even moved out. When she realized what their relationship really was, she had a really really hard time with the deceit. She idolized her dad. He fell far in her esteem, and will never recover, even though now they can be civil to each other.

      I also think it’s a mistake to let your STBX”s (start calling him that in your head) sister basically have custody of your daughter. That has a very good chance of coming back to bite you in the butt. My four sisters in law, each of whom would have castrated their own husbands for cheating, turned out to be all in favor of the ex’s starting a new family before the old one was over, because he had made it all about rescuing my kids from their own mother, who had been made out to be some sort of demon possessed, heathen child abuser. Oh yes, two of those wonderful aunts offered to let them live with them, as a safe haven! Thank God for custody mediators who have seen and heard it all from people willing to use their own kids as pawns. Anyway, I sure hope you can trust her, but my experience is just the opposite.

      So BAM, you need to put this to the test. FILE now. Ask for SOLE CUSTODY. And watch him turn into the meanest sumbitch you ever saw.

  • I don’t believe he has had a “moment of clarity.” I think he will do whatever he can to avoid any consequences. And there are huge emotional, psychological and financial consequences looming.

    He’s just dragging you back into his web and world of lies. Like CL said, shut up and file for divorce…NOW. Don’t give him a heads up. Don’t spend one moment of time worrying about him or managing any of this for him. Just get a lawyer and file. Adultery still matters in divorce settlements. I hope you kept that letter.

    I don’t believe for a moment that he has stopped f-ing around. He may have ended it with this particular OW, but there is no possible way he as gone from constant f-ing around behind your back to no f-ing around at all. Not kidding. If you believe he’s on the straight and narrow you are just deluding yourself.

    As for your son, I wouldn’t go into any details with him, but I wouldn’t hold off on any of this to “protect” him.

    Just get out of this mind fuck asap. Please.

  • BAM, I think all of us here know how difficult it is to leave a marriage. I filed for divorce 5 years after finding out about my husband. Hopefully the divorce will be granted soon. I filed at the end of March. Even now I still have thoughts that this marriage can heal and continue. Starting over at 47 years old is daunting and I worry that I cannot do it. I worry about ending up alone and lonely. I worry that I will end up broke and homeless. I worry about everything there is to worry about. But then I remember (not that I forgot) about my husband’s porn use and all the money and time he spent on phone sex. I remember him staying up all hours of the night viewing porn excessively and masturbating. I think of the way he withheld sex and intimacy from me for many years. I remember crying and telling him we had to fix that aspect or our marriage, but he just continued with his lying, porn use, and cheating. I think of him calling me to tell me he lost his wedding band, when in fact, the slut he was fucking took it and he knew it. Oh, the tears he was crying as he told me he lost it. All of it lies. I think of how he treated me during this time. He acted like I was a parasite who wasn’t worth anything. I remember all the realizations that hit me about the times he was with other women and what was happening in our lives. I remember feeling very lonely, hurt, and demoralized by my husband’s actions and behaviors. I think of all this and more, all of this and other things that I have not revealed on this site. I think of all this and know that I haveade the right decision to divorce him and that I should have done it a lot sooner.
    I know it’s not easy but my husband made my life a nightmare.
    My kids know why this is happening. I will make sure they are all right. Even though you haven’t told your son, he will find out one day. This kind of thing doesn’t stay hidden. He may already know but has not revealed that he knows. Whether, he knows about the adultery or not, he already knows something is really fucking wrong if his sister moved out. Kids aren’t stupid or insensitive.
    The best thing you can do is lawyer up and divorce your husband. Best of luck to you.

  • BAM
    I was in nearly the same exact situation as you. Our eldest daughter heard my exH and I fighting when I first discovered his affair. She wasn’t exactly sure what had happened but began asking questions and I was so upset and crying I couldn’t lie. She knew the ugly truth. She was 13. I tried to spackle the shit out of our marriage and we continued on for FIVE years! My daughter suffered!!!! Our other daughter who was 10 at the time knew nothing. During those five years there were several more discoveries of his continued affair, he continued to lie and promise to fix our marriage but his action never matched his words and I finally kicked him out and filed for divorce.

    Our youngest daughter BLAMED ME for not telling her the truth! She felt like everyone else knew what was going on in our house and she was the only one not important enough to tell. Seriously…….our relationship suffered horribly. I am finally (after a year and a half) feeling like our relationship is almost repaired. It did more harm keeping the secret from her. And I did it to spare my idiot ex from her hating him. I didn’t want to ruin their relationship. My oldest daughter hasn’t spoken to him or had a relationship of any kind with him that resembles father/daughter since I told her the truth when she was 13 and she is 19 now. I felt shameful for telling her at the time. Now I am thankful that I did.

    Your children and the relationship they have with their father is for them to work out. They can still love him while not liking what he did. They should have the knowledge about him so they can clearly make a determination about how much of themselves they would like to share with him. Let’s face it… unknowingly shared yourself with him while he was disrespecting you and how did that make you feel???? Knowledge is power!

    I wish my ex and our children had better relationships too, but I can’t make him do the right things. If I could do that we would still be together!

  • BAM,
    GET OUT – the call is coming from INSIDE the house!

    You will give your children the greatest gift of all if you act as a sane, strong, morally centered woman who doesn’t take shit from or hang with narcissistic assholes who have endangered you AND them via his cheating.

    When I had my D-day – it took me 2 days to call a lawyer but 2 weeks to start to function in a determined, clear manner. First thing I did was drive up and meet the OW’s husband and inform him that he was being chumped. When I got home and told my girls what I’d done, my oldest said “It’s about TIME you start standing up for yourself!”

    They had been waiting for me to be their champion and fight the good fight. Champion – not chump. I told them the truth. I did lapse into editorial once in a while – but I don’t beat myself to death over that. My girls know me – know my passionate nature, know my love of a good colorful euphemism. I’d love to think I’d do things differently – but I probably wouldn’t. Truth is truth. Life is messy and betrayal of trust is a motherfucker.

    Neither of my girls have any actual relationship with my ex. He is a memory of someone else from long ago in happier days. But both know that what he is was always there – just very cleverly hidden from view. My oldest occasionally will accept a Facebook message, but refuses to friend him. My younger doesn’t acknowledge him at all. Both are thriving. I wouldn’t have it any other way. A biological tie doesn’t equate to being a dad. He forfeited that right the day all the truth about him came out (much more than just the affair.) I would gladly have them live a life without him in it – why would I want them contaminated by such a low, despicable person of bad character? Why would you?

    Your husband is a cancer – he is eating away at you and your family. Remove him. And you should give your daughter a medal – she is mature and smart and centered well beyond her years. The daughter should be an example to the mom.

    So put on those big girl panties – let go of that damned unicorn and save your family – because that’s what you and your kids are. Your husband is no part of that anymore.

  • Please let me get in on this. This man has told you he’s a sociopath, believe him. If he says he’s a narcissist believe him. This man has been screwing around on you for 13 years. This is not a nice person. I repeat he is not a nice person. He’s doing a little jig for you now because he does not want to lose money… that is all. He could care less about your children. Sociopaths do not care about other people. Please, please, please remember that. Narcissist have almost no ability to care altho they are not quite as bad as sociopath but darn close. My sister-in-law was the perfect child, good grades in school, popular, homecoming queen,wonderful college student, delightful bride. Somewhere in the real world of responsibility and being a grown-up she could not pass the test. And all of a sudden all those hidden personality disorders showed up. My brother, nor any of us, recognized some of the peculiar thing she did as red flags. After all she was wonderful as we knew her growing up.
    Your husband is never going to stop cheating. He is never going to stop lying. He is never going to have a conscience. Sadly, your children need to know this. At 11 or 12 your son still has some belief in his father. As he goes into puberty he will begin to pull away from the two of you as he should do. With the help of a therapist, a very good one, you should slowly allow your son to know the truth. There is a reason for that, once your children are grown they are going to still be conned by their father. Unless there is truly no contact between them he will continue to pull things on them as he’s has done on all three of you for the rest of his life. That is what con men do, and he is a con man.
    This horrible mess blew up in my brother’s face and the face of his children when they were much younger than yours. They had to deal with a sociopathic mother. Believe it or not even though they had a difficult time they have gradually come out of it because their father has been 100% the best parent ever. He died too young but not before he gave them a solid platform on which to base their lives.
    Lies never end well. You do not have to spell out all the shit but they both need to understand that he can lie as easily as he can breathe. They need emotional armor for when they are adults.

  • BAM-CL is dead on, as usual.

    “I have been seeing someone for six years, I don’t know if I love you, don’t know if I love her, don’t know if I can love anyone. I don’t know if I want to stay with her or stay with you. I don’t know why I did it, maybe I am a sociopath”. He told you EXACTLY who is he right there. What did you do? You spackled. You managed his image control. You stayed put while the fire alarm was going off.

    “So, fast forward, D, now 14, no longer lives with us. She made the decision, and I supported it, to move to another state and live with her aunt (husband’s sister who has been truly amazing) and 13 year old cousin. She didn’t feel emotionally safe here (I can relate and probably wasn’t helping the situation either) and needed separation. My husband, who will be my ex eventually, and I are still in the same house so our son can finish sixth grade at his beloved elementary school.”

    Seriously, take your cue from your daughter!!! CL is right, she’s the only one in your family right now that has healthy boundaries. Your daughter flat out told you she didn’t feel emotionally safe and she left. She’s not living with you. You’re really going to stay in a situation that already caused one of your kids to up and leave and stay with someone else? Do you really want it to be at that point where your kids pick someone else to live with over you?

    The year of innocence is a lie. When is he no longer “innocent?” When he’s 14? 18? Married and having socially approved sex? Your son is now a teenager. Now you have 2 adolescents on your hands. One already upped and left. The 2nd one is now the same age as the first one that left. Are you going to end up with both of your kids living with someone else b/c they don’t feel emotionally safe? You will never have an emotionally safe home while your ex is there. Please, take your cue from your daughter and listen to CL. Get the hell out of that burning building.

    “She is incredibly insightful and empathetic, she would not have let up on me until I told the truth, I know that. But I was also so angry and broken, I would never cover or make excuses again so I told her that her Dad had a girlfriend of six years, someone he had met at work when we lived overseas for his job.” One, you told your daughter the truth, as you’re supposed to and you kept it to actions. You did exactly what you were supposed to do. Stop beating yourself up for telling her the truth, especially when you also just said she wouldn’t have let you lie to her (again, take your cue from your daughter). Two, you just said you’ll never cover or make excuses again and then in the same letter you’re making excuses and covering for the sake of your son. Pick a side, and I suggest picking and staying on the side that doesn’t cover or make excuses.

    You’ve just had a bomb go off and blow away what you thought had been the truth for minimally the past 6 years. That also applies to your kids except covering and making excuses means they’re going to have 7, 8, 9, 10 years of a fake life when it could have just been 6. Don’t put them through the additional years of a fake life. That’s torturing you, why on earth would that torture be okay for kids? The sooner you all have more solid ground without deceit to stand on the better.

    • Splitting up your kids is also a bad idea. As they go through their teen years, they need each other… And you have opted yet again to provide comfort to their father instead of them.

      • Yes, the courts don’t like this. My ex had the bright idea of him (and the whore) having custody of my son (the ‘a boy needs to be raised by a man’ bullshit) and my daughter could go with me. That was totally a financial calculation. He was blown away when the custody mediator said that the State doesn’t like to see siblings separated. BAM may have a problem with this.

        “Sooner or later, they all do the math, and this is fairly transparent to the court”, is what the custody mediator said.

  • BAM–

    You are trying to spackle your way out of this when you know that you need to leave. Leaving is better for you and better for your daughter, and better for your son.

    Let’s look at what you know:

    1. He has cheated on you since you were pregnant with your son–so for at least 12 years! How long have you been married?
    2. He confessed to a 6-year affair with one woman, but the journal shows he was sleeping with multiple women during that time period.
    3. He is unremorseful until you tell him that you’re going to divorce his ass and it’ll cost him big time.

    Wake up and smell the coffee. Your daughter did this, and she left.

    Let’s take those points above.

    1. Your husband confesses to a 6-year affair, and admits that he’s not sure who he loves.–Ask yourself why he told you. Remember that he has been cheating on you for far longer than that affair. Dollars to doughnuts the OW threatened him that she’d tell you about the affair. Damage control suggests that if he does this first, it’ll work out better.

    By the way, he was right. It nullified the OW’s power over him. Yeah, he was a total dick, but now he’s broken off contact. You sure about that? More likely she kicked him to the curb. Good thing he has a Chump for Plan B.

    2. The journal shows he’s been having multiple affairs.–This shows you that you are dealing with a Disordered person. Your husband is not a one time fuck-up. He didn’t make “a” mistake. This is why that crap about the “fog” is such bullshit. I’m going to be generous here, but if “fog” exists, it exists for those rare unicorns who let their usually strong boundaries down. They drift into the affair. They end up accidentally fucking someone else (yeah, I don’t believe that, either). Your cheater isn’t in a fog. He likes strange pussy. He has no problems about lying.

    Bet you he has a secret cell phone, and that if you put a keylogger on his computer, you’d discover he has loads of secret accounts, and he’s using this time to set up his next victim.

    3. He’s done the 180 since you laid down the law.–This is so classic cheater it’s unbelievable. You see, he doesn’t believe you’ll divorce him. He’s hoovering you back in. He’s been cheating for 12 fucking years! Why does he stop now? Answer: he hasn’t! Okay, maybe he’s not seeing the OW you know about, but this guy is trolling Ashley Madison. He’s seeing someone.

    So here is what you do. First, shut up. Nod and be pleasant. Then get a really good lawyer. Also, get a really good therapist. Not some pissant marriage counselor. Marriage counselors are for people who are working on their marriage together. Cheaters break the marriage. Remember that you still see that your Cheater is angry with you. He’s putting on the Mr. Nice Guy sociopathic mask. He thinks you’re too stupid, too complacent to see through it. Let him think this so that you are able to act decisively.

    Second, stop trying to manage your children’s relationships with their father. That is for them to figure out. You’re worried that you damaged your daughter by telling her the truth. No. You damaged your daughter by failing to have her back. She wanted NC. You kept trying to force her to live a lie. Teens are very sensitive to Good and Bad. You were trying to make her be Nice to a Bad Man. She left. You should be worried about damaging your son. Men whose fathers had affairs are more likely to have affairs. Your son will see that cheating is normal. Get out of the marriage. That, at least, sends the message to the son that cheating has consequences.

    Divorce never comes at a good time. Hell, I’ve been planning mine for nearly 2 years. I look forward to being divorced, even though I’ve been married to my cheater for 17 years and he’s been part of my life for about 25 years. I’m tired, exhausted, and in desperate need of a day off. Work is chaotic, and apparently at some important meeting a couple of weeks ago I had a bang-up idea that I have zero memory of having but I’m supposed to present on. I can’t take the time off!

    But I’ve filed. This pain is finite. In a few weeks, I’ll have the time to collapse.

    Talk to your lawyer. You might need to hire a forensic accountant (your husband’s had loads of time to hide the money). Work with your financial planner. Maybe your cheater will have to cough up the money to keep you in your house until your son finishes middle school. If you have to sell in a couple of years, that’s not bad. Get yourself to a therapist–again, maybe ask your daughter’s therapist for a referral if your daughter’s therapist doesn’t work with adults.

    You deserve better, and so do your children.

    Leave the burning building.

    • hi kb,

      “So here is what you do. First, shut up. Nod and be pleasant. Then get a really good lawyer. Also, get a really good therapist.”

      done, done and done – please see below,

      thanks for the advice – I am realizing I wrote this as a “hey you guys, this is what I’ve done, where I am, where my kids are, do you think I am doing ok?” hoping everyone would say “yeah, you’re cool” but trust me – I am so getting the much needed message that it’s not cool and I have a ways to go.

      Appointment with the lawyer next week (don’t worry, H doesn’t know) to map out next steps. Visit w/D in two weeks to have an honest heart to heart – find out what she needs and wants and I will figure out how to make that happen.

      Thanks for forcing me to open my eyes that much more.

  • BAM, my wish-he’d-hurry-up-and-be-my-ex also had a “moment of clarity.” Yes, it was the moment he realized how much money the divorce was going to cost him. It was the moment that he saw there would actually be, GASP!, consequences to his actions. And then all bets were off. He and his lawyer became vicious in their attacks on me and attempts to pay as little child support and spousal support possible. He didn’t suddenly grow a conscience or become capable of empathy – he simply discovered that he wasn’t skipping off into the sunset with the tramp with no responsibility for his kids and all of his money in his pockets. Please don’t fall for that shit. You need to start truly seeing what this man is capable of. If he was able to deceive you for at least 6 years with his gross and dangerous double life then I wonder why you would believe a word out of his mouth now? He is a proven liar. He describes himself as a sociopath. What other proof do you need that you are dealing with an evil, disorded person? It’s time to start protecting yourself and your kids before it’s entirely too late.

    Lying to your son is the worst thing you could be doing right now. I speak from experience. I pretended and I spackled and I just about killed myself trying to save my marriage and to keep my daughter from knowing that anything was wrong. When I finally did have to tell her that we were divorcing she couldn’t understand why. Because to her everything was fine! That did her no favors and only caused more confusion and caused her to doubt her own perception of reality. So, I basically gaslighted my own kid! Stop it. Today.

    What’s almost as bad is that I didn’t tell her that her Dad had a girlfriend and that’s why he moved out. I thought it would hurt her to see her father as the asshole cheating liar that he actually is – like she was never going to discover that for herself? Spackle, spackle for the benefit, in the long run, of the one person in this situation who deserved ZERO protection. The therapists involved all said, no, don’t puncture her vision of her father right now, just get her through the separation and the move, and then we will worry about telling her about the woman Dad has been living with since he left us. I listened to them and it’s one of the stupidest things I’ve ever done. I should have told her straight up and saved both of us a whole lot of pain and confusion. Because she found out and then she was pissed. She asked me why I would lie to her and why I kept things from her and it seriously impacted her trust in me. I vowed right then to be the person who always told her the truth. No more of this bullshit covering for him. I was as terrified as you seem to be that losing our family and moving away from the only home she remembers would scar her forever. Well, it didn’t scar her: we are happily moved into a new house and she is in a new school and life is better than it has been in years. There is peace here because that horrible, grind-you-down, soul-killing stress is gone. Is it perfect? Of course not. I still have very hard days and she is struggling with being separated from her father. It’s still waaaaay better than what we had before. The best thing? I am authentic. My words, actions, and feelings are aligned and I live my truth. No more hiding, no more lying, no more pretending. Talk about freedom!

    You can do this. You must do this before you lose both of your kids. I don’t know what to say about your daughter because I don’t have the right to judge you – I know you were doing the best you could at the time when you let her move in with her aunt. But. But. Still. It does look to me – and maybe to her – that you have chosen your cheating sociopathic husband over her. You’d rather she live elsewhere than kick that asshole to the curb and let your son deal with real life. I say this not to be harsh but because I know how twisted everything is when you have been married to one of these psychos. Truth isn’t true and nothing is what it seems. There is a way out of that fog and it starts with getting away from your husband. You can’t have him and have integrity. What’s worse is that you can’t have him and have your daughter. You have to choose.

    You have time to fix this for both of your children. Start fixing it today. I have two much older daughters who are out on their own and I have always told them that no matter how far down the wrong road you are, you can always turn around. Turn around and do what you already know is right. I truly wish you the best. I know that while it’s probably hard to hear these things from everyone here at CN, you wouldn’t have written the letter in the first place if you weren’t ready to change.

  • And on more thing: listen to CL and shut up! Every word you say is either feeding his ego or providing him with darts for his gun. Trust me on this, he will use what you say against you. I sat in a meeting in the lawyer’s office one time and listened to him turn something very personal and intimate against me as a way to weasel out of spousal support. And no, it wasn’t a ‘bad’ thing, just something he knew from my confiding in him when we were still supposedly happy together. I thought I was going to die right then and there. So please stop talking to him and never, ever, ever tell him what you intend to do re: the divorce. These jerks have an incredible sense of self-preservation and will do just about anything to save themselves and their image. No low is too low. I am speaking from experience.

  • BAM, my son is a young adult who has gone no contact with his father. In the beginning, I encouraged him to mend his relationship with him and my counselor told me their relationship was none of my business. Fast forward now that I’ve been divorced for nearly a year and a half and my son and I don’t even mention the cheater ex. He’s now background noise. When well-meaning friends ask my son why he has chosen to go no contact, he responds, “I didn’t ask to be part of his fucked-up life, so I’m staying out of it.” BAM, your kids are smart. They need to navigate their relationship with their dad. I’m with Tracy. Time to refocus your energies on yourself. Get the hell away from the sociopath. You’re just setting yourself up by waiting for the other shoe (rather the 10,000th shoe) to drop.

  • BAM… You have essentially chosen that unspeakable excuse for a human over your daughter… you think at 14 she doesn’t need you, she needs you, not her auntie, you. Yes, she is in a safe place but not really, kids need at least one parent who is not malignant… I hope that is you. She needs you. She is going to resent that you chose her brother, (good old sibling rivalry) and that amoebic goo masquarading as a human over her. You have been mind fucked way too much.

    You think, that your son doesn’t know dad is a dick. He does. He may not be able to articulate it but he knows. He is just play acting too. You are teaching him to be false to himself. Teaching him that reality doesn”t have to be real, based in bedrock. You are teaching him how to dance with monsters. He knows… time to bring that piece of shit out from under the bed and into the light, so you child can trust reality again. Or you run the risk of him being a sociopath too… TRUTH, believe me, is so much better than a satin covered lie.

    Sending you love and strength…

    Take the long view. YOur son needs time to get over this… Much better to do this in middle school than in high school. Do it now.

    I agree with CL… don’t tell him anything, keep your own council. That is what I do. My goal is to get a decent and fair settlement and I am one step away from it. Do the same…

  • BAM, I’m going to be a little harsh here.

    You just chose your son over your daughter. He is living a carefree life with his parents. She is living with another family.

    You are staying for your son, but staying has hurt your daughter. What kind of message do you think you have sent her? Not that you love her.

    You didn’t mess your daughter up when you told her, you messed her up when you told her to pretend she still liked her dad. You messed her up when you made her keep this a secret from her brother – clearly her brother’s happiness is more important than hers.

    You really, royally screwed up when you thought it was better for her to go ahead and leave the family than for you to kick out the sociopath.

    What were you thinking????

    I think you are asking the wrong questions. You don’t seem to be wondering about how to leave your husband faster or to get a fair deal in the divorce. CL is right, that’s what your focus should be on now – consult a lawyer without your husband’s knowledge.

    Please understand – your daughter does not have a father she can respect. That is reality. It is very, very sad. You can’t change it, you can just avoid insulting him.

    As for your question about talking to your daughter. When you visit her, I recommend that you apologize. Tell her you are sorry you pushed her to spend time with her dad or get along with him. Let her know that you will respect whatever limits she wants to set. Apologize for asking her to stay in a place where she can’t feel safe and for not creating a place where she can. Promise to figure out how to create a safe place for her to live.

    Then listen to her about how she feels and what she wants. I would guess she wants you to kick your husband out of the house and be a mom who protects her kids and puts them first.

    I could be wrong, though, so listen to her.

    I would suggest that you not bring up her brother, but if she complains, apologize for having put him ahead of her.

    BAM, your daughter felt unsafe at home. When you had to choose between helping her to feel safe again and letting your son live in blissful ignorance just a little longer, you did the wrong thing. Her needs were obviously greater than his.

    You have a lot to make up for, but it’s not about the one time you told the truth.

      • Hi DL,

        Thanks for the great advice – trust me, I feel as though I screwed up royally. As for what I was thinking? I wasn’t thinking, honestly. I think back to how completely petrified I was last spring, thinking this would never get better, I would never be financially free, yada, yada, yada – I was paralyzed. I agree with CL – my daughter was the only sane one back then – I wish I had been as strong and clearheaded as she was. I also know now that I had been gaslighted and manipulated for years – I did the best I could at the time. Please see below for my update, I have pulled my shit together and am trying to make things right for my kids.

        I am so lucky to have such an amazing daughter, she is the one that was saying “mom, you need your own friends and your own place” of course she was and is right. We talk almost daily on the phone and have honest communications but I am really careful to remember that she is only 14 even though she can seem so much more mature. I can’t wait to see her in person – I will apologize for not being stronger last spring and will let her say whatever she needs to about our situation. I will also leave her dad out of it unless she wants to say something about it – I know she doesn’t need any pressure from me.

        Thanks again for taking the time to respond

        • And please remember that what she needs and what she wants may be two different things. You aren’t going to be able to give everyone what they want. But you can give everyone what they need–a safe home in an environment where everyone is respected and honesty, loyalty, and unselfishness are shared values.

    • This is exactly what I thought when I read this too. BAM has sacrificed her daughter in order to preserve her son’s happiness. She made a mistake. It happens. Parents make mistakes all the time, trying to navigate through a shitstorm like this. I’m sure BAM’s daughter took it upon herself to solve her problem, because she saw that no one else was going to put her needs first. And good for her!!! BAM – you have some work to do with your daughter. We often talk here about how we chumps learned at an early age to make our needs small (FOO issues), which makes us prime targets for assholes later in life. Well, what do you think your daughter learned from this? Also, letting your son live in a “la-la-land” created by his parents to keep him from reality… well that just breeds entitlement. See what the world will do for me in order to make sure I don’t have to deal with any of that icky reality. Kids grow into strong adults by dealing with real life, with the support of parents who love them.

      BAM – I know that everything people are saying here hurts, and seems harsh. It’s almost impossible to know which way is up after you are smacked with infidelity. BUT… eventually YOU have to be the one to collect your wits and put things back together. And the longer the asshole is in your orbit, the longer it takes for you to find your wits.

  • I kicked mine out the moment it all became clear. Change your locks! Get them before you tell him and either employ someone or do it yourself.
    He had no notice. I just handed him a suitcase, began handing him his things and out he went. I dealt with the aftermath over the next several weeks and months. He broke in once overnight and did things to our computer system. Most likely erased information. Do not let him take any equipment out of the house. Document everything. Now it’s been 18 and no contact for a year now. I am still in limbo as far as the divorce goes. Trying to find the courage to move forward. He still has control financially. He has been true to his word where that is concerned. Moving forward is a crap shoot. He could cooperate, or fold. I am afraid to take that next step. But once again CL is dead on! I need to take her advice and jump in and move forward. I am tired of living in denial/limbo. They are Sociopaths through and through…….the sooner your kids face it, as well as you, the sooner you can begin to heal. I need to take this advice as well… of luck to you!

    • You are damn lucky your stbx either doesn’t know his rights or chooses not to exercise them. My ex knew his and refused to leave the “marital home”. It’s great to kick em out ASAP if you can but it’s not legal in the US so a caution to anyone who attempts this.

      • My attorney told me to change the locks immediately even though it wasn’t ‘exactly legal’. Hell, all I had to say I was afraid of him.

  • I come from a very Christian background (Coptic – the oldest form of Christianity) I was so concerned of protecting his image and my kids for years, that I realized I did more harm to me and the kids. Understand, there will NEVER be a good a time to tell the kids (oh its the holidays.. not now, oh it’s beg of school year,,not now, oh, it’s family member’s bday..not now, .oh family gathering.. not now see??). When I eventually told my kids we are getting divorced after Idk how many bogus reconciliations over the years… they were upset but my S said …”I am proud of you, you didn’t deserve to be treated that way, my D said “I understand the bible says it’s OK).. Bottom line, I told my kids, I hope you get out of this the concept of “forgiveness” is important if the person is truly remorseful and learns from the “mistake”, however, “Self Respect, honesty and Trust” is even more important in a marriage. That’s what I hope they learn out of this awful mess that they innocently have to face”. I know it’s hard, I still cry for what he did to our beautiful family so selfishly.

  • “3. Your daughter is the only sane person in this clusterfuck.”

    I clapped and laughed out loud at this one. Too true, Chump Lady.

    BAM, I don’t say that to disparage you. I was in your shoes not too long ago. I was too busy playing PR rep for my ex and trying to control relationships that I didn’t bother trying to take care of myself. What does that teach your kids? It teaches them that it’s ok to swallow lies and accept abuse. It’s ok to cheat, lie, and abuse your loved one’s trust for your own selfish, personal pleasure. It’s ok not to have boundaries, to let other people stamp all over you. It’s ok to fake a relationship, to actively deceive other people all for appearance’s sake. Is that what you want to teach your kids?

    I hope that you’ll be brave enough to do what needs to be done for the sake of your health and that of your kids. The thing that finally motivated me into action was realizing that the longer we stayed together as an “intact family”, the more I was teaching them to abuse themselves and tolerate it from others. It’s not healthy or even kind to stay together “for the kids” in this situation. Best of luck to you.

  • You asked about what you should do when you visit your daughter, if you should talk to her about her Dad, let it go or push her to open up, and wanted advice from people in a similar situation.

    As I said above, I’m trying to be a support person for a teenager who is estranged from a parent by the teenager’s choice -Teenager’s Parent is a diagnosed Narc/cluster B personality disorder. Teenager also has some relatives that want to push them to talk about Parent, talk to Parent, to have a relationship with Parent again. Any time Teenager would see those relatives, they might start talking/having fun, and veer right into Parent territory. Teenager would call me on the phone after those visits in tears, sobbing like a little kid. Teenager resented the hell out of those relatives that would NOT let it go, would NOT respect boundaries that Teenager put up and would claim they were not taking sides and yet everything was always about reconnecting with Parent, ignoring all of the valid reasons why Teenager came to this decision. Teenager says absolutely they are taking sides – they side with Parent. And now, Teenager has no relationship with them either.

    So I know what Teenager would tell you. Don’t talk to your D about her dad. When you see D, work on your relationship with her. Do something fun, talk about school/friends/brother/cousin/whatever that does not involve her father. Her relationship with her dad is not your business, it’s between the two of them.

    I’m sorry, I really don’t want to be harsh, but you have no idea how often I’ve wanted to shake Teenager’s Parent or Teenager’s relatives. What they have been doing is NOT helping, it is actively hurting someone they purport to love.

    • Teenager is so lucky to have you in her/his life. Seriously. It only takes one, sane and healthy person to make a positive impact for life.

      I was that Teenager too. I had relatives who pushed me to be in relationship with monsters in human skin. I bought into it. Looking back, I was starving for love. I had a hungry heart. I wanted a relationship with my alcoholic, drug addicted, narcissistic, abusive in every way, parents. I thought I was supposed to forgive them for all that they did, even though they weren’t the least bit sorry. The bible says “Honor Thy Mother and Father”. Small wonder I got chumped.

  • My brother also tried to stay with his lying, multiple affair partners cheating wife for his three kids. When she finally left him for another man, he found out he had made a big mistake when the judge asked him why he had stayed with her knowing she was cheating. She got alimony, child support, and every weekend free from the kids. She asked the judge in his chambers with my brother and two lawyers there to award full custody to my brother but not to tell the girls she did not want them, and generously offered to give up the child support and just take alimony. Tramp.

    All three girls ended up with drug problems, and two attempted suicide, one multiple times.

    Be honest with your son. You are the only parent in his world who will be.

  • I understand your fear, BAM, more than I can ever convey. It is horrifying and isolating. No one outside these situations realizes how manipulative these jackasses are. Even my close and supportive family members didn’t understand why I was so afraid that my kids would hate me and why I waited so long as I tried to protect them.

    And your kids will hate you some of the time (or tell you so because it is so hard to have their family disrupted); and they will take out their anger and fear on you (because they trust you); and they will believe too many of the lies their father tells them (for now). But being a good parent means you slog on while they are hurting. You can no more protect your kids from the pain of this than you could protect yourself. Just find a good therapist to help you keep your chin up and your feet pointed in the right direction.

    You will, undoubtedly, second guess every step you take, but you can’t give your son another year of “innocence” or enable your daughter to respect her dad. The jackass already took all of those things off the table. All you can do is refrain from bad-mouthing him–don’t explain him, don’t spackle, don’t try to facilitate, don’t apologize for him.

    But you need to get the lawyer now and get out. There will never be a better time. You are being manipulated by the jackass in your home. He almost certainly knows that the way to control you right now is through your fears about the kids. Be warned that he’ll probably redouble his manipulations of your son, but there is nothing you can do to stop that–and it is well underway already.

    Take CL’s advice to heart. You know the ship is sinking, and your letter sounds a bit like you want us to tell you that it is okay to wait for the Coast Guard before you step over the rail. But they aren’t coming. You have to jump now. There will not be a better time later.

  • From my own personal experience, I wil say that keeping secrets about things that involve them is one of the WORST things you can do to children.

    My story is that my parents adopted me from a family member and chose to never tell me. A crazy old grandmother with alzheimers did it for them when I was in my early 20s. To say this was devastating is an understatement. Everyone knew, neighbors, school folks, family. Except me. I always wondered why some people acted strange around me. Facts seemed to change. You cannot keep a high level secret without doing a LOT of LYING.

    My parents died not a long time after this was revealed, and I only talked to my mother about it once she had no reason for this except a good time to tell you never came up.

    This is a huge blot on my personal history that did not have to happen. Secrets are evil and destructive even if you mean well.

  • My son was 13 when Dday hit and the marriage fell apart. I did not hide the truth from him, but I did present it in an age-appropriate manner. He saw his dad a couple times a week for the next few years, but always said that eventually, he would sever his relationship with his dad. He saw the reality that his father is a diagnosed narcissist who will never change.

    Son turned 18 a few months ago, and has been NC with his dad since then. This was son’s decision. I have asked him several times how he feels about it, he says he feels much better since cutting ties with his dad. He also says that if I had hidden the truth from him, he would be very angry at ME for lying to him. He says he deserved to know the truth about the kind of person his dad is. My ex pulled a lot of unforgivable stuff on our son as well, so it is a complicated situation all around.

    Since son has gone NC, my ex has been contacting him every couple days with texts and messages. I haven’t posted much here about the stuff ex has been pulling on our son recently, but it is so manipulative, so bizarre, so hateful and so much LIES, it just confirms son’s decision to go NC.

    BAM, don’t let your son think his father is a great person and YOU were the one who did wrong. That’s what the father is going to tell your son. Not because your husband gives a shit about the children, but because he is going to do whatever he can to minimize child support payments.

    And by the way, his “180” in behavior is absolute cheater’s handbook.

  • If i had to do it all over again i would have told my son his mother was cheatzilla. Now im locked into keeping her past from him…i should not have been as nice as i was and trust me you gain nothing by being kind. He is an abuser. Just like me ex was. He deserves the misery he has bought with his lies. He deserves his kids hating him. He, not you, should pay that price. And definitely stop talking to him. Hes a pig and he will use everything you say against you.

  • BAM, trying to work through how the cheaters actions effect us as well as how they effect our children is SO DIFFICULT. You are in a horrific spot trying to get a grip on what is real and what hasn’t been.

    Follow CL’s advice. Take care of your kids and the way to do that is to remove them and you from the trauma, lies and torment (AKA: Mr Cheaterpants).

    Your daughter knows what a messed up situation this is. She needs to see you stand up for yourself and your kids. That is how she will feel safe. That is how you protect them. They will follow your example- you will not tolerate this treatment and they don’t have to either. Your daughter has made that statement already by moving away from the problem. She needs to know you love her enough to do the same, to choose HER. She needs YOU right now and you need her!

    You can do this! Set your boundaries. Get him out of the house so your daughter can come back HOME to you. We support you and understand what conflict you are feeling by wanting to protect your children. You can be such an example of knowing your own self-worth. You are worth more than the crap he is dishing out. Your kids will see that and learn from you. All my prayers,
    Fierce Mommy

  • Hey All,

    It’s BAM, with an update!

    Man, you guys are fast! I didn’t write much about my situation because I am mostly worried about my kids right now but let me fill you in:

    I have a great lawyer who actually specializes in this kind of divorce from people who work in this field (Fed/overseas assignments – you can probably figure out what he does) – she takes no shit and helped me realized how much financial protection I have.

    This marriage is as dead as a door knob – no illusions here. The best thing my STBX has ever done for me was start that ball rolling in January. If not I would still be chumping away, wondering how I could help my sensitive yet moody guy who I now see is a conniving monster.

    Hiding money – ha ha ha – I wish there was money to hide! I had been scrimping and juggling finances, wondering how we could be living paycheck to paycheck on his good salary. Turns out skimming money from his paycheck before it hit our bank account was part of the problem as were those secret credit cards. Right now we have lots of debt which he will have to take on, his pension and government retirement fund. The fund has been locked up so neither of us can touch it until divorce – pension is split with a standard formula so I will be ok there – again, great lawyer who is dealing with this.

    I have no doubt his “moment of clarity” was financially driven – he had just seen a lawyer also and I’m guessing she let him know how much someone with his salary would have to give in alimony and child support to a wife who was an overseas SAHM for 15 years due to his job. It also happened to coincide with me finally saying “you need to be out by next week, stop texting or contacting your skank in anyway while you are in this house or in front of our kids and about mediation, fuck no – I can’t trust a word out of your mouth”.

    But, and big but here – I was super chumpy last spring – if only I had found CL on January 21nd I hopefully could have avoided almost every mistake in the book. Did the pick me dance (for that POS?), was marriage police for a couple of months – no thanks. Actually created a fake Ashley Madison profile to see if I could find him – OMG that site is rank, couldn’t stomach it after less than a week and deleted everything. Went to S-Anon – that place was such a perfect window into what my future would hold if I stayed – there were some nice people there but that was my version of scared straight and it worked like a charm. Convinced myself that after 16 years not working no one would ever hire me and I would always be dependent on him (FEAR) and yes, maybe I should stay for the kids.

    So, here is where I am mighty (love those posts): finished my degree last May w/a 4.0 despite my life falling apart around me; found the book “Should I Stay or Should I Go?” by Saint Lundy Bancroft which finally made it clear to me I was living in an abusive relationship and seriously traumatized; told friends and family with no shame on my part and got the support I deserved; found a counselor who never once allowed me to think I should stay in that sham marriage; redirected all the energy I was wasting on him and the marriage inward – I look and feel better than I have in years – 16 to be exact; started going to Al-Anon – can’t recommend this enough to anyone going through this even if your spouse is not an alcoholic – mine is, as was my first husband and father (hmmm) – am now the Queen of Detachment; have been offered an amazing fully paid two year fast track to management internship so fuck yeah, I am doing awesome.

    Which brings me back to my kids, this really is my only worry at this point. About my daughter, first, I have no doubt that some are worried about inappropriate behavior but I do not think this is an issue – thank God. Her counselor and therapist were on top of this right away as they both know the full story and I’m sure had concerns. My D is an emotionally smart, articulate kid who has never had any problems discussing her emotions – she has seen counselors off and on since she was seven, partially because of an undiagnosed learning delay and because I think counseling is awesome and I know that moving every two or three years can be tough on kids. Honestly, this kid is bizarrely well rounded – I wish I could have been her when I was 14. And I can imagine that some may see this as spackling but really, the reality of her dad is bad enough without adding baggage that I nor the professionals have no indication was happening.

    When she moved to her aunt’s house I was still weak and fearful – I wish I had gone through with kicking him out and she was still here. That said, she is thriving at her new school which is a much, much better school than she would have attended here. I talked to her therapist about this move A LOT – she reminded me that D is used to moving every two to three years and had shared with her that she was ready to move after being here for four years – her Dad’s actions just cemented that desire. Of course I would rather she was with me and so would she but she is also thankful for her amazing aunt. She will be with me next year, my plan is to move myself and S to the same town she is in now so she can continue her school and S will be there too. I know I should have made this move last spring but FEAR!!! I know I cannot manage and should not manage her relationship w/her dad – just needed to hear that from all of you – thank you. It is so sad for me to see what he has lost/fucked up but that is fully on him. She is seeing a therapist there and that is something they can discuss.

    I am actually more worried about my son. He is a super smart kid but seems completely oblivious to how his home life has changed. Does not seem to think it is weird that his Dad has been sleeping in his room since January, seemed to tune out the chaos of last spring and just comes across as super content. His counselors and teachers at school have been keeping a close eye on him. These were the same people watching out for my D last year so they all know what is going on – they see no indication he is suffering in anyway. He has seen the therapist – she actually started out as his therapist four years ago when we came back to the US so she knows him and found no indication that he was worried about anything. He knows he can see her whenever but really doesn’t feel like he has any problems right now – his words. H and I met with the therapist who felt that as long as things are civil at home (they are) we can wait to tell him about moving to separate houses until it is closer to the time it happens. I was all gung ho to tell him we were going to divorce and why once he came back from summer camp this August but he started school and I can see how content he is and want to let him have that – just so worried it could backfire. The kicker is that my D begged me not to tell him, she thinks he is going along just fine and will be fine once we have separate places next year also. If he ever asked I would not hesitate to tell him the truth in an age appropriate way – I won’t lie to him – but he has never asked anything and we talk a lot – that is what worries me I think. Wondering if anyone else has dealt with something like this?

    I started writing this with 25 comments posted – we are up to 49 so I will dive back in. Unfortunately I didn’t discover this site until July but reading CL and the mighty chumps everyday has made me stronger than I could have ever imagined. Can’t thank all of you enough.


    • Dear BAM, as the STBXW of a federal employee, make sure that you are truly dialed in on the Fed benefits of a long term wife. Like if you have FERS you can get half and survivor’s benefits, the same with TSP and SS. Chances are that you are going to outlive him… he has lived a disgusting lifestyle and that and karma take its toll. Make sure you keep your survivor’s benefits. GTM… Get the money…

    • I have only been hear a couple of weeks and you guys have stiffened my spine a lot. Why do we teach our daughters to be chumps. I remember being taught to be a chump. I was taught to be loving and kind in the face of shit by my saintly mother, who is just waiting to outlive my monster stepfather. She is the queen of shit sandwiches. I think this is where women, having a job and their own income come in… I tell my daughter, a lot, always to have your own income. ALWAYS… don’t listen to that shit about stay at home moms… way better to be safe and secure with your kids and your life, than with that candy coated treacly shit that people post on pinterest about the perfect stay at home mommy. I should have never stayed home for 12 years. I would have booted his ass to the curb a long time ago and my kids would have been saner and happier people with a mother who had some sort of control over her own life and their… not always wondering, ‘what kind of mood will he be in tonight?’ Can I ask him if we can do xxx. Now I fucking do it. Also I am well employed finally. Ha…

      Also, I am at an age where my friends parents are dying. I have three friends whose mother’s once they went into a nursing home, forbid their fathers from coming to see them. I believe that these women suffered mightily at the hands of their men, and as their final act, when their was nothing to loose, they went NC. Has anyone else ever seen that?
      Ringadingding… the warlock is dead

      • In Ye Olde Days, when a woman was widowed, it was not uncommon for them to choose death over being married off again to some male relative on the husbands’s side. I totally get it.

    • You have a lawyer and you see your ex as the conniving monster that he is? You have a counselor AND a new degree? Are you kidding me right now? This is fantastic! YAY!!!!! You are mighty, BAM! YOU ARE MIGHTY!!!!

      One tiny thing, though. Are you still living with the monster? I did that for awhile. It was horrible.

      • The thing is, right now he is not being a monster – he is being kind, thoughtful, humble, going to IC, taking AA seriously after using it as a cover for the past five years, doing more than his share of housework, etc, etc. – if there was ever a unicorn this is it and I am not buying that shit sandwich for a minute (thank you Chump Nation!). He knows that he will be on his ass the minute I see or feel anything different.

        Part of the reason we are still in the house together is financial – we ended up renting this house four years ago b/c we had three dogs (now two) and this was about the only place we could find. We were only going to stay a year but turns out the elementary school was so awesome (it’s really been that good for my kids) we didn’t want to move. No way we could stay here if we had to split into two households. I know it sounds like rationalization now – it made sense a few months ago but I was still not thinking clearly.

        • IMO, you’re still not thinking clearly. You’re in a crisis. Fuck the elementary school and get out. Divorce is expensive. It’s a hit to everyone’s finances. That’s why judges give temporary support orders and later alimony.

          The longer you live with this situation the weaker his infidelities look in court because you’ve been tolerating it. Don’t think he doesn’t know it. You try to use this shit and then the judge says “why didn’t you leave?” and you say “great elementary school!” — you really think you just increased your chances of support?

          You are being PLAYED. He is not a unicorn, he is a shrewd manipulator.

            • no, he’s bad – just acting like he’s not so bad – realizing I can’t wait around until he drops the act.

          • 1000% percent CORRECT. The longer you stay, the more damage you do to your own case. Your actions are showing him (and the court) that you will tolerate his abuse, that it’s not so bad to be cheated on. If I were a judge, I’d seriously doubt the credibility of a person who says the other party is a cheating monster….and then continues to live with the person. You’re still in a burning house.

            How about finding an apartment in the school district? I was able to secure one in an excellent, high-demand school district despite having no income and only a promise from my ex that he’d pay full support. I’m in a nice, safe area and I pay a little less than current market rates. How in the world did I manage that?

            If you are a religious person, now is the time to lean on your faith. Now is the time to let God have your back. I was scared as hell when I started looking but somehow things lined up for me. I’m not special. There’s nothing extraordinary about my religious practice. I just had a tiny shred of faith that God wouldn’t leave me hanging, and God came through for me.

            If you’re not a person of faith, then how about believing in yourself? You’ve done all these other mighty things. What’s one more?

        • Lots of “WE” in those sentences, BAM. You are still not thinking like a woman and mother who needs to be making decisions on her own for herself and her kids. Remember, it is not your job to make sure your cheating H has a nice place to live. You aren’t working with your H to split households. Your job is to get the child support, spousal support and assets needed to raise your kids through college. So long as you are thinking as part of a married couple, you will be stuck.

          • And while his current behavior is not that of a monster, in your view, you’ve been fooled consistently for over a decade. So clearly, he is capable of acting the part of a decent man.

    • BAM, great that you’ve seen a lawyer.

      Are you really going to live with your husband until June and finish out the school year? Live in separations are hell.

      This is a guy who has committed financial abuse. I hope your lawyer can go after theft of marital resources. You’re entitled to half the pension anyway, that’s standard stuff. As is giving him the debt, as it’s based on percentage of income and you’re a SAHM with no income. IMO, I’d be asking for spousal support and CS until you’re on your feet. The paid internship is great, and good for you for going back to school.

      My question is WHEN are you going to lose the cheater? I don’t think your son’s school year and apparent equilibrium outweigh the crisis of escaping this abusive marriage.

      As for his emotional state — he doesn’t know the truth — so WHY would he be upset? I’m sure it will get real when it gets real. Rip off the bandaid and move forward IMO.

      • CL,

        I’m thinking this is probably why I actually wrote this letter – needed clarity. I know that I am as close to meh as I can be while still in the same house but will never get to true meh until NC which means NOT being in the same house. I also get that he is putting on a great act – I’m not taken in, just glad the chaos is over but not sure I can do this until June.

        I have a meeting w/my lawyer next week where we will work on what comes next. I will keep you posted.

        This thing about not wanting to hurt the kids even though I know they will be hurt no matter what just sucks.

        Thanks for being so nice while smacking me upside the head.

        • I am doing the live-in separation with my STBX and while it’s tolerable, it’s also hell. Well, limbo, anyway.

          I’m now listening to one of my dogs. This particular dog is happy in the morning, but is very anxious at night. This was a change in behavior a couple of years ago, when I realized he didn’t want to come into the house, and I thought that was odd. Now I notice that he’s anxious whenever STBX is home. STBX isn’t mean to the dog, but I think the dog has been picking up the tension from STBX, and is now picking up the tension from me.

          Living a tension-free life will be a godsend.

          I hope you find yours soon.

          • Oh yeah, for sure.

            My dogs’ behavior problems are pretty much gone (except when it’s time for a bath, when they go to the vet, or when there’s a rabbit or something in the yard). But the weird “I wonder if that dog is going psychotic” pacing and hiding under beds and acting like a basket-case stuff has disappeared, and the dogs are happy again. Took about a year or so.

            The craziness wasn’t good for the dogs. I don’t think it was all that great on me either (sort of a masochistic stress test–apparently I can endure lots of pain and nastiness before I grow a backbone? Well, not again, but I did).

            • So funny to read this! My 2 cats have become completely different animals since we moved away from Captain It’sAllAboutMe. They used to be really high strung and they would only let you cuddle and pet them sometimes. One was sick all of the time. Well, no more. They are lap cats, very sweet and affectionate. They follow me around the house like dogs! The sickly one is never sick any more. Guess they knew what a fucked up mess our house was long before I did.

              • What’s really interesting is that our older dog has always been “my” dog. He hyper-bonded with me immediately after I got him from the shelter. It was several weeks before I could leave for work without him trying to escape to follow me. Even now, if we’re visiting family, he wants to come with me when I leave the house.

                Our younger dog, also a rehomed dog, wanted to be STBX’s dog. She wants to please him, to say hi, everything. She’s a high-energy breed, and he’s not patient about maintaining clear boundaries (hah! imagine that!), and half the time he likes it when she jumps up, and the other half he doesn’t. I, however, am consistent (jumping up is always a bad thing, but I recognize she needs to play more than the other dog, and she’s a brat when she’s not tired).

                She wanted to be his dog, and it would have been very easy for her to be his dog. Instead she now hangs out around me. Why? Because I take the time for her.

        • Your kids are already hurt.

          Your daughter is living in another state. At age 14.

          Your son is separated from his sister, and he is living with a self-declared sociopath for a father, for whom his mother is serving as a spackler and impression management agent. And for what? The money it would take for the sociopath to rent a studio apartment?

    • “Does not seem to think it is weird that his Dad has been sleeping in his room since January,”

      I’m betting that’s really “does not want to break the family rule of talking about what the rest of the family is clearly determined not to talk about.”

      I think your kids are doubtless wonderful, but you’re balancing too much on their being wonderful as a reason for stasis.

      • definitely possible, could also be an indicator of how dysfunctional our life has become – nothing seems weird anymore! It is a wake up call to me – need to take the next step, really needed to hear all this even though I didn’t want to.

  • One more thing:
    “And now my question/dilemma — my husband, after a couple of months of being a complete dick that included overtly texting the OW while looking like a sullen teenager, the silent treatment, disparaging me during phone calls with the OW (yeah, I eavesdropped) and other nasty behavior, has done a 180 degree turn around.”

    Yeaaaaah – that doesn’t happen. My guess is that you are now being monitored 24/7 while he gathers up evidence that shows how unreasonable you are (rages) and how sweet and accommodating he is. The easy availability of miniaturized spy ware, GPS tracking, cell phone eavesdropping and remote keylogging, is irresistible to the control freak that wants to come out on top. Ask me how I know. Sometimes, paranoia is there for a reason.

    • It’s possible – went out and got a chrome book for myself but really, there is nothing to see on my end except maybe obsessively refreshing! His sweet accommodating image can be blown apart pretty quickly when my lawyer pulls out the cruise “prom pictures” and all the other receipts for romantic getaways and presents – the financial trail of skimming family funds won’t help his case either so I am not so worried about that stuff.

      Those rages and days of sharing my plans with him are over also – do my best to be cool as a cucumber these days.

      re: the OW – I don’t really care if they are in touch, as far as I can tell they are not – she lives in Chile so not easy to see each other – what I care about is that my S is not exposed in any way to his activities with her, anyone else or online.

      One of my many mis-steps last spring was sending the OW a copy of his two page “confession” along with a letter letting her know what a skank she is (she was also married – now divorced b/c her husband found out) so if she wants him after that horror show she deserves him.

      • BAM- that might not have been a misstep. Her husband divorced her b/c he found out. That may have been the proof he needed (or was further proof to what he already had).

        • No, they were divorced before the letter – have no idea who the husband is. The misstep was doing something during those early, crazy days that you may regret later – I regret doing that.

  • Not to be sarcastic…but since his Sister is wonderful. maybe she can take her brother and give you back your daughter to live in the house. It should not be the other way around. I have the most AMAZING-In-Laws who are also part of my incredible support circle, but I made sure my kids stayed in their home for stability during this Tsunami of emotions and told my STBX he needs to leave and go to the In-laws or whatever!

  • (posted this under the wrong topic earlier)
    My STBX took a romantic cruise with the OW too! I found a picture of them smiling at each other on a beach. I found receipts of him going scuba diving with her (bought him is scuba license a two decades ago, never once took me) He did this just months before our 20th anniversary. I found the picture just days afterwards. I feel your pain. It took me awhile to get untangled from his lies and abuse too. I worried about how it would affect my son. It broke my son’s heart when he found out his dad is a lying cheat. My son still suffers from it (he is 18 now) I let the cheater stay in the guest room because I thought it would be better to keep the family together while my son finishes high school. I was wrong. What it did was cause us even more pain and neither (my son or I) felt safe while he was in the house. The STBX is also abusive and throws temper tantrums as well as verbal and emotion volleys. So I just kept prolonging the crap. I gave hope where there was none. I was “dancing with a corpse” and it felt awful keeping up the fantasy. I finally got to a point where I couldn’t take it anymore and one morning when he was starting a melt down about my son’s room, I told him I was afraid of him and to get out because I was filing for divorce. That statement, that truth, gave me soooo much relief. Just getting it out and you know what, everyone understood why I was divorcing him and didn’t blame me, even my son. Friends and family wondered why I waited so long and frankly, I wonder why the heck I waited too. If I knew about the cruise while he was gone, I would have packed his crap and changed the locks before he returned. So what difference did it make that I found out later, in bits and pieces with a bunch of lies and manipulation thrown in? Call the lawyer, get him out. Your son deserves to know what is really going on. It will hurt, but you did not do this awful thing. You are the strong woman that is going to show your kids that it is unacceptable to behave that way. That is what they need from you.


  • BAM:

    I am concerned for the safety of your son and you being in the same home with your husband. His disrespect for others and his inability to love others is there by his admission to you that he can not love and he doesn’t know why he does affairs. He is disordered and lost. He will rage at some time in the future when the reality of what he is losing is clear to him. I would not live with him as you are an easy target for his rage. Happened to me out of the blue one night.

    He knows that he has a lot to lose both financially and in his image as a dad and father and employee if he is respected (I was with someone in the military and his pride was what pushed him to attempted suicide and attempted murder of me). Your husband can keep up the housecleaning, etc. to look good in court but he is reeling underneath and he is aware of his upcoming loss and he may rage at any time.

    He knows that he is disordered and it will come out in court. He is confused about his inability to love others and about himself and his disordered self. He is capable of doing or saying anything. Get away from him and get your son away from him for your safety.

    Anger at you is coming. Your husband knows that he is losing everything that makes him look like a normal human being to society. He is playing a part to make himself look good for when he goes to court against you but he is hating you and himself underneath and could snap at any moment. Plus, your husband is sleeping in your son’s room? More evidence to the court that he is a safe, comforting father. He is not a safe, comforting father. He is, in fact, the opposite and he objectifies and disrespects women. He could easily make off-handed comments to your son about women and teach him that they are disposable and have no value.

    Your physical safety and your emotional safety is important for you to be a good mom for your kids and for yourself.

    I would seriously not live with him any longer regardless of the financial drain. It is better to be safe and to appear as healthy and protective of your kids in court than to have him hurt you or you have to explain why he is sleeping in his son’s room and hanging out with his son in court. More emotional trauma for you and a better financial settlement for him.

    Lastly, don’t let the facts that your kids are smart or thriving and that your lawyer is great keep you from doing the absolute most that you can do to show that you are healthy and that he is disordered. I was a top student and athlete in school. Our home was not right and my parents didn’t deal with it. Your kids need to feel safe and being good in school or thriving in school and their relationships can still occur and does not replace the need for them to feel safe and protected.

    • I have been wondering that myself the last few days – how long can he keep this good guy act up. He has never been violent in anyway, I have never been physically afraid of him but we have also never been in this situation before. I know the anger is still there – these comments have been good to read, hard as hell, but good. It was easy to convince myself I was doing the right thing for the kids but that just glosses over the reality of who H really is and what he has already done.

  • BAM, I get where you’re coming from. You’ve been trying to keep the family together, to manage the mess for so long you can’t see the forest for the trees. I also made mistakes in how I handled things with my grown children when I was in full out PTSD house-on-fire mode. The worst thing I did was call my oldest son when I found my ex’s journal detailing his divorce settlement plans, his profession of love for his married coworker, etc. I called my son at 2 am and had a complete emotional meltdown. Not a good thing to do, but at the time my sons were the closest people in the world to me outside of my husband, and I felt my husband was leaving our whole family, not just me. My counselor said calling my son this way was not a good thing to do, but it’s done. I don’t blame myself too much for it. I really couldn’t think of anyone else to call and it kept me from jumping out the window.

    Another problem that cropped up is in telling my youngest son too much of what I’d learned about his dad. The two of them have always been close. Apparently my ex told him that the OW had nothing to do with it, that we were just too different and this had been coming a long time (unfortunately he never told me). My ex was happy and excited about our youngest son’s upcoming wedding plans, but when my son tried to talk to me about them all I could do was sob. Hence, youngest son got upset and said “Dad never says anything bad about you. He’s happy and excited about our wedding.” OK, so he’s the good guy? My thoughts at the time were “he’s been planning this a long time and I’m devastated, but I’m supposed to act like everything is fine and it’s the best for both of us. I don’t see my youngest son as much as I used to, and know for a fact he sees more of his dad. That hurts, but not much I can do about it. I just try to be as loving as possible whenever I am around him. I’ve sort of detached. My younger son has never been great at communication anyway. Besides, I don’t have the money to fly him places, or a resort-like home for him to vacation in.

    Our family will never be the same, but it’s been 3 years now since D-day. Both sons are married and have homes of their own. I believe if we were still together there would be more get-togethers at Christmas, but for the past two years the boys have gone to their wives’ homes. They do T’giving with me and my parents, though. I try very hard to let it go, let it go, let it go. I still get pretty down around Christmas, though, seeing all those happy families doing things together. Thank God my parents are still around for me to spend the day with.

    It’s all so awful, and there are no manuals on how to handle the kids when you’re in house-on-fire mode. You just have to keep moving forward, and work with a good counselor. I have to admit I’d be reluctant to mess up a child’s school progress too. It would probably be good to enroll your son with a good IC now and figure out how to break the news to him.

    One of my ex sister-in-laws (divorced my husband’s brother) gave me the best advice. She said the best thing you can do for your kids is to make yourself happy. So far she seems to be right.

    • As long as it’s “happy” in a chump definition of the word and not in a cheater version of “happy”… Because we all know that a happiness based on putting oneself above all else doesn’t go so well for others…

  • Truer words were never spoken, make yourself happy… because you can… the disordered shit piles we have all lived with can’t… they can cover, manipulate, etc but the are relagated to a life of unhappiness and chaos because that is all they are. In the end, your happiness will be a magnet to your kids. Safe and sound and happy… That is your blessing. And thier spouses will see you as the sane one first, even if it takes your kids a while longer.
    Work… work… I need to get to work.

  • Dear BAM,

    So sorry you are going through this hell. I am now 5 years out, so the advice I’d give you has to do with perspective. Having now raised three children (two bio and one step) damaged by infidelity, I would say that, yes, divorce will screw up your kids. But you know what? Life will screw up your kids. As it screws up everyone’s kids. As it screwed up your life and my life, and most people’s lives, if not through infidelity and the destruction of a nuclear family, through all the other slings and arrows of adolescence and early adulthood (they are countless). It is a really hard time after all, and no one makes all the right moves. No kids, and no parents. So take comfort in knowing that you are not Freak of the Week. You are a parent, with a common parenting story. You are normal.

    But take comfort also from the fact that, over time, life usually straightens kids out as well. That’s happened (or is in the process of happening) with mine. They were 13 and 17 when our world fell apart, but if I end up with a couple of good, solid 25 year olds (and I think we’re headed in that direction), I’ll consider it a parenting World Championship. The only alternative to pain is opting out of the parenting business, as the English poet Philip Larkin so hilariously conveyed in this small piece:


    They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
    They may not mean to, but they do.
    They fill you with the faults they had
    And add some extra, just for you.

    But they were fucked up in their turn
    By fools in old-style hats and coats,
    Who half the time were soppy-stern
    And half at one another’s throats.

    Man hands on misery to man.
    It deepens like a coastal shelf.
    Get out as early as you can,
    And don’t have any kids yourself.

    Stay strong, BAM, and never lose the ability to laugh in the face of desperate circumstances.

  • BAM,

    We here at Chump Nation have been tough on you, but let me echo others to say congratulations on finishing your degree–and with great style, finding a good lawyer, and starting to get your ducks in a row. The fact that you’ve worked so hard over the years to help your children adjust to the multiple moves required by the Cheaterpants’s job is truly wise and is clearly paying dividends in terms of their resiliency. And you have a plan, even if there are some downsides to it.

    While your lawyer is on top of this, there is some real downside about having your daughter living elsewhere, especially with your STBX’s sister. That’s a situation rife for your H to exploit when yoy get to fighting over custody. I’m having a hard time imagining that it won’t go to a fight of some kind, as 50/50 with one child living elsewhere, even if you plan otherwise, might mean that he skates on support. He lies. Right now he sees the financial consequences mounting and he is no doubt delighted to punt the ball into June and hope he can persuade you to do something not in your interest or the kids’ interest. So the question is: where is this awesome “2 year fast track to management” internship? Is it in the place where your daughter is living? Or where you are now? Because the times lines seem off. And since your daughter is in another state, I am not understanding how you see that internship fitting in with reclaiming custody of your daughter.

    Because you have, in essence, given up custody of your daughter. I am surprised that your lawyer hasn’t pointed that out. The longer that situation goes on, the more likely it is that something against your interests will happen: your husband will claim “he” already has custody since his sister is D’s caretaker; your daughter will resist re-integration; your sister will decide to file for legal custody; or as the divorce/separation/whatever nears, blood will be noticeably thicker than water and you will find your daughter is living with your enemy. The sister may indeed be “awesome” but whom a kid is living with carries a lot of weight in custody and support matters and it shocks me that your attorney hasn’t told you to get her back home and the sociopath out of the house. And if you are contemplate crossing state lines–how will that impact custody and support? You have a very complex situation. While I am by no means an attorney, it seems pretty clear that you are putting some major things at risk. And if you know you should have left last spring, but fear stopped you, why in the name of all that’s holy would you wait 9 more months? You can put either your son or daughter in a different school and just get on with it. Or kick the guy out and get your daughter back at home.

    Finally, your daughter’s advice about not telling your son is well meant, but she is a child. Therapists are helpful, but following that advice has gotten you with one young teenager living with the sister of your abuser out of state. It’s easy to say and hard to do, and some chumps reading here are still living with their cheater/abusers after multiple D-Days. You’ve got your degree and a paid internship. You will get custody and support if you move on it. What’s stopping you? If you are waiting for your son’s school year to end, then the tail is wagging the dog. He may even be able to finish the year online, if you inquire, as that is increasingly common. He won’t want to move, perhaps. Your sicko H will be upset. Your daughter will be a teenager with ups and downs. All of that will be just as true in June as it is today. But in the 9-month interim, you are giving your abuser more time to siphon money, feather his nest, poison your son, and figure out how to manipulate the situation to his benefit. He is your enemy. Honestly, I just don’t know how, if he has been cheating since you were pregnant with your son, you don’t see that you are living with someone who is perfectly willing to destroy you.

    You’ve done some mighty things, but you are, I think, looking for reasons not to leave or not to kick him out, while telling yourself that there is no consequence for leaving your daughter out of state because her therapist is all for it. Maybe that will all work out as you hope, but who will your daughter be after a year of living without your guidance? Wherever that internship is should be your base. Take whichever kid needs to move out of his or her school. If the internship is in your current location, kick the guy out and let him pay child support and alimony pendente lite, or whatever your state calls pre-divorce spousal support. He has had lots of Schmoopie money; let him live on that.

  • And while a good attorney is priceless, he can only help you get what you want. You have to know what you want in the first place–full legal custody of both kids, adequate support, and a home in the place where you have a start on a career? Whatever that is, you have to figure it out. Attorneys and therapists are just helpers–they can’t make choices for you and your kids but they can keep you in that dependent position where you are deferring your judgments and responsibilities for your life to others. I go to therapy every week, and while she gives excellent advice, she is, for example, much more money-oriented than I am. So she will advise on leasing a car or buying a cheaper one, while I want something different while I am still working and can afford it. Your therapist, your kids’ therapist, the attorney–they work for you. You are the CEO of your life.

  • I have a daughter myself. She and almost 11. Wonderful child. Straight A student. Perfect attendance. Loves earning Girl Scout badges and selling cookies. A cheerful giver who loves doing mission work at church. You know what else she is? A sneaky little Keeper of Secrets. A liar by omission. If she doesn’t want to answer a question, she will say I forgot or I don’t know. Or she will change the subject. It sure is a pretty day outside. I like your shirt, hair, shoes, etch.

    Children at this age do not know how to process their emotions. They mirror what they think you want to hear. So just because they are not expressing these things doesn’t mean they don’t feel them.

    • Agree.

      I would never assume that any child is actually ok with all the nasty drama just because they’ve not acted out.

      I’m just on the outside looking in, but I can say as the mother of 3 that the daughter choosing to live somewhere else doesn’t bode well for anyone. Doesn’t sound hunky dory to me, and is smelling a little bit like denial.

      In this situation, it’s too easy to simply not see major problems brewing. Don’t let yourself venture into la-la land where your kids are concerned.

    • My 11 year old daughter is the same. She is starting to open up about things, but it really takes some patience, energy and tact to make it happen.

  • When you stay with someone you don’t love, cheater or not, for the sake of the kids, you are sending your kids the message that it’s OK to stay married to someone you don’t love. Pretty weird, if you ask me.

    The guy told you he was a sociopath – that was his real “moment of clarity”.

    Get the fuck out of there, ASAP.

    • Yep, totally agree. Right after Dday ex was rambling on about being weak and needy and I, still thinking this marriage could be saved, kept saying that no, he was confused and didn’t realise what he had.

      Turns out he was having a rare moment of clarity. He really is weak and needy and a total asshole on top of it.

      Sometimes they surprise us by actually being honest and revealing themselves. Listen when they do. And BAM? Move, get your daughter and take your head out of the sand. BOTH your kids need you. The sociopath can figure it out on his own.

      My ex was a serial cheater as well and to say I was shocked by what I discovered he’d been up to for years would be an understatement. I could hardly move or breathe for months on end. It still, when I think about it, leaves me wondering how anyone could live that way, with all the lies and the subterfuge and general fuckery. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. These are fucked up people. I won’t even say disordered. They are FUCKED UP. Anyone who can fuck around for years while continuing with ‘normal’ family life is seriously and utterly fucked up.

      And the best part of this? He’ll end up blaming you. Mark my words.

      • “And the best part of this? He’ll end up blaming you. Mark my words.”

        Absolutely – and trying to get them to see your point of view, or expecting them to feel any real remorse for the pain they’ve inflicted on you and your family, is a total waste of time. This is how they really are.

  • I have to chime in here, something doesn’t seem right. I am a “chump kid”.. My father cheater on my mother, and talked himself into staying because he realized all he would lose. It is the truth that my mother provides the cover of a normal family for him.

    My mom eats the shit sandwiches and want us to be nice to him because it is easier for her.

    So my question is, under what circumstances would you leave? You are living in a RENTAL!!! you can’t find another rental? You daughter has left her family home. You convinced yourself that this is “okay” because you don’t want to “wreck it” for you son enjoying his happy camper year. So you don’t have the responsibility of your daughter anymore. You are “interning”. Is that a job? Do you cook him dinner, wash his cloths, and eat together while you lay in wait to start a life once sixth grade tidy’s up?
    So what if your attorney, therapist, alanon meetings and sister in law are awesome. What are you doing\g?

    If you were my mother, I doubt I would ever respect you. If I told you that I didn’t feel safe around my father, and I moved out, and you lived with him for an entire year in a rental while you got enough courage to keep me safe, I would never think it would happen. You are justifying your lifestyle because it works for you. You are causing undue emotional damage to your daughter and haven’t even mentioned the steps to live with her again. Both kids are growing up with the drama of the unhappy marriage. Neither adult is taking responsibility to do the work to make themselves happy, and the kids are victims and audience for your immature drama.

    Some problems can be solved with money, and moving out of that house is one of them.

    I know I sound a bit nasty, but my mom’s life ( and our family life) has been ruined by the drama of two deeply unhappy and irresponsible people, and you letting your daughter move out so you could have a smooth year just hit a nerve.

    Let us know when you get a new address.

    • I lived with a coward of a mother and a hateful SOB of a step parent. She feels she was the victim too. She forget’s that her job was to protect us from that SOB which she failed miserably at. I am almost 59 and I resent her to this day for that. BAM, listen to Nancy… you want cake too.

  • BAM,

    First of all, let me say you are resilient and MIGHTY for what you have accomplished since recovering from the initial shock.

    As I was reading your letter I emitted a silent scream (I was at work) because it was like reading the plot of a horror movie with your husband starring as the demonic slasher and you starring as his hapless victim and the only thing standing between him and the decimation of the other characters/victims (a/k/a your children). Freddy Krueger is never going to become Herman Munster and “IT” is never going to turn into Bozo.

    How can your husband be a good father if he is not been a good husband? What qualities make him a good father? Are you mistaking a “good companion” or a “good buddy” for a good father? Is he available to do the “fun stuff” or the stuff he enjoys doing, but absent or resentful when the “grunt” work and responsible aspect of parenting (that doesn’t provide any kibbles) needs to be done? How much of his interaction with the children is about them and how much is about him? I tend to think we sometimes give these people accolades that they expect, not that they necessarily deserve. Stop being your husband’s marketing and PR director with his children. Stop holding up the veil that you have been using to filter him to your children and allow them to look at him completely unfiltered.

    BAM, I implore you to leave this man, sooner rather than later (tomorrow would be good). I don’t believe there is anything sincere in his behavior. It is all impression management and strategic planning. I hung around trying to be the compassionate, decent person too long and gave Cheater McBeetledung a running start on fucking me over. Before I found Chump Lady, I gave him too much information and tried to remain his friend. BIGGEST MISTAKE ever. The high road is paved with self-care and self-defense, not self-abuse and self-defeatism.

    You have to walk the road that you desire your children to follow. Children do not hear what we say – they imitate what we do. It is not easy, but it is possible. I was headed to the championship round of the “Pick Me Dance” contest and was about to blue medal in the “Shit Sandwich Eating Derby.” If I can walk away anyone can.

    Get away from this horribly disordered freak in human skin. You will look back and be so happy that you did.

    • And another thing,

      Your daughter needs to be with YOU. However mature your daughter, 14 is such a pivotal time in a young girl’s life. I get that her aunt is awesome and that is a wonderful ADDITIONAL source of support for your daughter, but she should be LIVING with you. I can’t imagine living in the house with an asshole cheater while allowing my daughter to move out. Even with your explanation, I just can’t wrap my head around that.

      Sometimes it is important to let go of our attachment to the “optimum” and be willing to settle for the “necessary” until we can get ourselves to the “better.”

  • BAM
    Take the advice. I’m doing duck lining, but should not have waited and should not have let my fear cloud my judgement.

  • It’s amazing how we (chumps) can get so delusional because of our pain and fears and clinging to what we want even though all the facts point to run away from the cheater as fast as you can and NOW. I can relate to the quote, “delusion is like winding your watch on your way to the gallows.” Been there, done that and, BAM, would advice you now face reality. I hope you listen to all the words of wisdom from Tracy and our fellow chumps. Sending you strength as you navigate this horrible yet surmountable challenge. Maintaining status quo is a lot worst than leaving.

  • As a teacher, I have some insight into the question of “great” schools. I stand fore-square behind all efforts to ensure that kids have equal access to quality education. I believe in public schools. But a smart, motivated kid can get a good education in any adequate school. And some of the supposedly “best” schools bring other problems, notably those coinciding with affluence, including kids who grow up massively entitled; dismissive of those less fortunate; and exposed to problems like heroin abuse, which is a growing problem in large affluent districts. I think this letter really hit a nerve with me because two years ago, one of my college students was suicidal because his father was abusive and his mother not only put up with it, but went along with appropriating the kid’s stuff to give to his sister (notably a car he had bought and fixed up). He was 18 and the situation was so painful that thought it would be better to die. It didn’t matter one bit where he went to grade school or high school; what mattered was he needed one sane, adequate parent, but both his parents were committed to “saving the marriage” in spite of the dad’s alcoholism. A strong stable home with a minimum of one healthy, sane parent is far more important than what school kids attend. And I say this from 35 years as a teacher and an educator of teachers.

  • I have a question on this topic as well. My 2 children, ages 2 and 3 are displaying signs of anger and developmental regression. My 3 year old goes from complete sentences, saying please and thank you, to nonverbal pointing. My 2 year old has full-blown rages where I am ducking to avoid the inevitable pea soup vomit.

    Their ‘father’ sucks. He is a sociopath. Dad leaves the kids with whoever will say yes to babysitting. The children have accused one of his new girlfriends of spanking them–which I do not approve of, and the only reason she is not in ICU, eating through a straw, is because I know how much my girls need me.

    We are working on sole custody, and we have a rock solid case. But no court date until 11/17. Everything is moving so slowly because he is not paying his atty.

    I’m hesitant to go the cps route because who knows what he will tell them. Being a sociopath, that’s a risk I’m not ready to take with no actual proof beyond the stories told by my toddlers. Subpoenas went out today to get proof we need.

    How young is too young for therapy? I’ve been with a great doc for over a year. He helped me so much, but he doesn’t see toddlers.

    Has anyone out there in Chump Nation had a problem with obvious neglect/possible abuse (but no proof) and obvious emotional changes with toddlers? It’s getting worse, not better, after 10 months. All suggestions are welcomed. I need an expert because this is totally beyond my capabilities.

    Thank you!

    • I think the first step is to have the kids evaluated to see what’s going on. Some of the issues might also be a result of general stress; there’s nothing like betrayal, divorce and custody issues dragging on to raise the general stress level. it’s also important for you to take good care of yourself and to find outlets for your own emotions and perhaps some regular time for yourself. All easier said than done. I’d start with a long talk with your own counselor/therapist. He may not “do” toddlers, but he will know you and therefore how you might adjust things at home to lower the stress. It may just be “what it is” until your court date, sad to say. You might anticipate that the court date gets kicked back again, though–if it does, can you get an emergency hearing before a judge to ask for supervised visitation?

      Since you are documenting things as part of your custody case, having the kids evaluated may also allow you to make a case for supervised visitation, which would totally solve the caregiver abuse issue. A therapist can collect information from the kids (verbal and non-verbal) that may support any claim you have about abuse, including spanking by care providers. I would stay away from CPS since you are 6 weeks out from a court date and CPS is forever. Also, like a PFA or protection order, involving CPS just before the court date might just make your sociopathic sperm donor more angry. Follow the attorney’s advice, though, because you don’t want some short-term satisfaction or “solution” that jeopardizes full custody. The whole thing sucks, and you must be terrified. But you are 6 weeks from your court date. Ratchet up the self care! Enlist support. Either your therapist or your attorney should know of someone who does these evaluations with toddlers. Sending hugs and prayers–you have a full plate.

  • Your children know the truth. Even your son. Like all children they do not like change. He is doing well in school because he thinks that will keep what is left of his family intact. A huge burden for a child to carry for adults’ bullshit.

    Kick your ego and the liar cheater faker (LCF) to the curb. Let honestly prevail and you may have saved the sanity of your children and yourself.

    Keeping the LCF in the home is a selfish act on your part. It helps no one and is false. You are teaching your children that being false is better than the revealing the truth of a sick relationship.

    This will be the hardest thing you will ever have to do. We get that. We have all been there. We are on the other side. And we are alive and well. And we are here to tell you that. Stick with us. You will find the light. I promise.

  • I don’t have kids so I can only provide this perspective, which may prove helpful. It is, in some way, a future vision of your own family:

    My XH’s dad left his mom for another woman (Who’s got two thumbs and didn’t see the big red flag? THIS chump, that’s who!), when XH was about 24, and we’d only been together about a year. The other kids (XH’s siblings) were 14-17 years old and still living at home. The two older sibs had their own way of dealing with cheater dad, but the youngest daughter was a frickin’ Tasmanian Devil at both Dad AND OW (who was stupid enough to put her hand in the cage with the biting daughter — tsk tsk)! She was the ONLY one of all of them to call Dad on his shit and was very very angry for a very long time: refused to spend any time with him or talk to him on the phone… Nothing.

    Fast forward about fifteen years: Dad married OW, and now at family gatherings everyone talks to everyone. Admittedly, OW is a bit of a kook, so she’s an easy target, but Dad’s choice is in the past and dismissed with a sad, “Whatcha gonna do? You can’t be mad forever!” sort of attitude.

    So I think your daughter is going to be just fine. Don’t force it on her. As others here have said, she’s the only one to stand up and say, “You behaved badly, you hurt me, and I won’t take it anymore!” Leave her be. She’ll come around or she won’t, but on her own terms, and don’t we need more women in the world like that?

    Incidentally, of all XH’s family, his youngest sister is also the only one to call XH on his bullshit, too, in my own marriage to her brother (you could freeze ice cubes on the letter I got from his mother… you know, the one who was cheated on, herself? Blood thicker than water? OH, yeah!) — I don’t know if she’s done it to his face, but she has said some very nice things to me which weren’t very nice ABOUT him, a hard thing to do with family. Right & wrong. It’s OK to say which is which.

  • Reading this earlier today got through to me. I finally responded to my lawyer’s paralegal’s email asking me if I wanted her to draw up the papers. “Yes, please.”

    I’ve been separated for going-on-seven years now. If I mention to people who know me that I’m not divorced yet, they act confused, and ask, “Why not?” Indeed . .

    I’m gaining nothing by waiting. He’s perfectly happy waiting, as he has a lot more to lose than I do. I don’t prioritize my own needs. I don’t practice good self-care. I just keep winding up the scratchy old gramophone, and keep on dancing.

    I have all the form and none of the substance. Nothing to keep me warm at night, laugh at my stupid jokes, or care about how my day went. I have a not-soon-enough-to-be-ex who feels free to call me up and harangue me about how terrible a job I did raising our children as a single parent.

    Reading these tonight, including the description of dancing with a corpse, I realized, “I am not married to my husband. I am married to marriage.”

    • “I am not married to my husband. I am married to marriage.”

      That’s brilliant.

      And if my xH hadn’t walked away without batting an eye, I, too, would have been married to a marriage. I thank the Lord that I am out of that one. There is so much peace now.

  • Possibly the best advice you have ever given CL.
    As I read more more about BAM’s situation I could feel the shivers creeping higher and higher up my spine. It’s not how much the situation will screw up her kids, it’s about how much it will screw up her. Then it will screw up her kids.

  • BAM, you wrote this:

    I am so lucky to have such an amazing daughter, she is the one that was saying “mom, you need your own friends and your own place” of course she was and is right.

    I’m getting the sense that you were using your daughter as a confidant. Do not do this to your kids. It is totally unfair. She is right. You need friends (preferably other chumps, but healthy and strong chumps) and a good counselor to unload on–not her. She’s the kid. You’re the mom. You need to act like a strong woman who is fiercely in control of her own life and protective of her most precious children.

    Your son is going to be very, very angry, and justifiably so, when you finally reveal that you have lied to him. Get an apartment or rent a home in town where you can be safe with your kids. If you must keep your son in his school (everyone is settled now, I get it, and you don’t want to disrupt EVERY bit of his life) then you need to take that boy with you to visit your daughter nearly every day off that you and your son have (and then some.) Find out if she’d be willing to move back home (HOME) with you (in your new place, not the place you share with that freak you married.) In fact, your son may well know exactly what is going on, and may be unhappy that you burst the bubble–but you must show him that living with abuse and lies is NO way to live–it WILL NOT be tolerated.

    You must show your children how to live a rational, values-based life with purpose and clarity, intent and resolve. This is VITAL to ALL children’s upbringing!!

    Do not talk shit about their father in front of them. Just cut him out of your life. Do not update your children on his latest bullshit or bully tactics. YOUR job is to be the strong, capable mom, the sane parent whom your children can count on, who puts her back up against the wind, to shelter them so that they can be the kids, and grow in peace. You will make mistakes. Your children will watch to see how you fix your mistakes. Do it with grace and INTEGRITY. You are seriously lacking in integrity right now, but I can tell that you are intelligent and resourceful, and that you can make this happen.

    Interestingly, though, I’m picking up a vibe from your posts that you are frantically trying to make peace with the Chump Nation. I feel like you are dancing as fast as you can, and telling us all, “I’m GREAT! I’m fine! Really!” What’s that all about? This is similar to what you’re doing at home. Did you have to referee in your home when you were a child? Are you worried about how all of this will look to people in your community? You know, you don’t owe any of them a thing. And you’re not fooling anyone. It’s better to operate in the truth and to be mighty with what you really have going on.

    The people posting here are just brilliant. Wow, we are lucky to have each other.

    Keep going, BAM. You ARE doing a lot that’s right.

  • Get your daughter back home. No more bs excuses. She needs to be with you and her brother. The sis in law could flip when the shit hits the fan. Blood is thicker…

    And your hubby needs to move into your daughter’s old room, at his sisters’s house. You have already damaged your kids by being so weak. STOP IT. YOU ARE NOT WEAK.

  • It took me a full day to figure out what bothered me so much about this letter, BAM.
    1. You start out by saying it’s about the kids. No–it’s about your marriage to an alcoholic, pathological liar, serial cheater and self-diagnosed sociopath who says he feels nothing but whom you are trying to turn into a normal, engaged parent by force, spackling and denial
    2. You minimize the alcoholism, which in itself, in itself, is sufficient reason to separate and get everyone counseling.
    3. Aside from the section where you detail the horrific behavior of the monster you are living with, your letter is riddled with “we” at every turn, particularly at the end, which leads me to suspect you are still very much tied to this alcoholic, cheating abuser as you see yourself as part of a unit.
    4. As an “adult child of an alcoholic” and someone who was married to an alcoholic, I know that family life revolves around secrets, lies, denial, and rage. Your husband’s secrets come out, you tell your daughter, and now she carries that weight for you–and has been banished, in effect, for knowing what she knows. Because she can’t live in the denial that you live in.
    5. Your son carries the weight of the whole family, because his stellar school performance and behavior is what allows you to think it’s OK.
    6. Either your therapists are enabling you (as in “being enablers of dysfunction) or you are omitting the uncomfortable advice they have given you. It may be that your daughter’s therapist thinks your daughter can adjust to a new school, but unless that person is an utter charlatan, he or she would not think it’s OK for her to be calling the shots in her life at 14 or for your home environment to be so chaotic she feels unsafe. Any therapist worth talking to would also be concerned that your son’s education is the excuse for your staying with this abuser and for your willingness to see your daughter live out of state. At 14. So either your therapists are piss-poor or you are being very selective about what you take away from those sessions.

    So it’s only about the kids because there is a little voice of sanity telling you this is all f***ed up and you thought CL and Chump Nation would enable you as your team is enabling you. And as you are enabling this cheater. Nothing good comes of untreated substance abuse. It’s a disease that makes the whole family, each individual and the unit, sick. And even people who know better, like me, end up enabling the addict by staying there and looking the other way.

    If he’s doing a 180, really, he would be in rehab. You and your kids would be doing family therapy centered around not allowing lies, omissions, denial and off-loading of consequence on a designated family member to destroy your family. CL is right; you should leave, now. Your supportive family should pony up some cash to get you settled or just tap the retirement and take it out of Cheaterpants’s share. But the truth is, you are looking for a way to stay or you would have been out of there rather than allow your daughter to go elsewhere. Many chumps stay for years, to their detriment and the detriment of the kids. But we aren’t as tough on them because they aren’t abandoning their kids to stay in the “state of denial.”

    I try to be positive and supportive here, but the support you need is the raw truth. Somewhere inside, you have known for a long time that this set up was terrible, or your kids would not have been in therapy off and on, even just for re-entry after living abroad. But you have a life-long experience at covering up family dysfunction, and that is hard to unlearn. How do I know? I’m a woman who spent 10 years in therapy talking about everything but life with a degenerating alcoholic husband. I didn’t talk about it because I didn’t want to leave. Simple as that.

  • To this day (5+ years post BD) I have not forgiven myself for modeling to my sons that it was ok to tolerate and accept the emotional and psychological abuse that my then H heaped upon me. By MY actions, I was showing them that it was acceptable to allow myself to be disrespected, be treated as a doormat and be on my knees begging their father to stay with me when he clearly did not love me any longer.

    My sons are young adults, but I still feel that they are influenced by how I handled this whole nightmare. They are both in serious romantic relationships now (my oldest is getting married next summer), and this post has helped me realize that I need to talk with them and help them understand that the whole implosion of our family was not ok and that the way I handled it was wrong on so many levels.

    I danced and ate the shit sandwiches for 3 very long years that I can never get back. I want my sons to be happy and healthy in every way imaginable, and showing them that tolerating abuse was definately not in their best interest. I was weak, lost and had very little self-esteem at that time, and I need to apologize to them for that and pray and hope that if this should ever happen to them they have more pride in themselves and respect themselves enough to not accept intolerable behavior.

    I have already had several discussions of how their fathers behavior was unacceptable. Now it is time to have the discussion that my behavior was not acceptable either.

    BAM, please show your children that part of having a good, fulfilling life is having self-love, self-respect and knowing that when someone, anyone treats you poorly, you walk away.


  • I was 15 on mother’s first d-day. Her second was a couple of years later. She stayed. She keeps trying to talk me into staying.

    My father was not a good man. His first affair was with a student who attempted suicide, left school, and then left the country. The second was a friend of my mother’s. She became a drunk and came to our house, car horn blasting in the driveway, more than once. He took her to Vegas (for closure) and bought my mom a mink.

    My mother believes that the shithead is the one who is resisting reconciliation. She can’t believe I sincerely don’t want him in my life anymore. “What are you going to do for money? ” So not a good example…

  • My STBXW and at least one pair of in-laws blame me for telling my then S16 about her friend. Even went so far as to tell me that my telling the truth pushed her to try to introduce the OM to my boys. Then I was told by the same ones, how terrible I am to insist that she tell then S12 about the guy. How dare I not tell my boys what I did to “cause her to have the affair”. I hear it’s my fault they hate their mother “because I told them”.

    Funny how I can know the truth and still question myself.

  • OMG.

    The plane you were all on has crashed. Stop waffling about: why you got on the plane; what would happen if you didn’t get on the plane; why you choose that airline; wondering if the pilot had been drinking, bla bla bla. It has crashed.

    Do absolutely everything CL says! Now. Get that A**hole out of your house right now. You are not doing your kids any favors.

    One final point. I am also the child of parents who divorced when I was in my early 20s. Do not over share with your kids about how you are feeling. They aren’t counselors or girlfriends – even if they are mature. Go find a counselor you can talk to.

  • BAM, many chumps stay in the marriage for awhile to save the family for the sake of the kids (myself included). But with your daughter living apart from you, the family is already broken.

    Your story reminds me of a woman I know who has stayed married with her cheating, lying, abusive husband for 20 years, through multiple separations after which he would ask her to take him back (and she did). Her 17-year old son has finally had enough and recently, on his own initiative, saw a lawyer to try to legally emancipate himself from his father.

  • BAM,

    If you haven’t already read Third Culture Kids: Growing Up Among Worlds by David C. Pollock and Ruth E. Van Reken, I would suggest it as a great resource. I learned so much about the benefits and challenges of living in a thurd culture and moving every few years and the long-lasting effects of that. There are so many positive things that can come out of living in other countries, especially as a young person, but there are also tendancies that can come up as coping mechanisms for the frequent moves. Sometimes there are connection issues and the tendancy to avoid working through problems in relationships….why do that when you can just wait for the next move and start over again? The book turned on some lightbulbs for me (I know some Third Culture Kids and was curious to learn more), and I suspect that would be invaluable in raising kids who have lived abroad in their formative years.

    Good luck. You have made some great steps so far, and I wish you all the best as you make the next difficult steps to get out and rebuild your life with your kids. Fear doesn’t disappear, so don’t wait for that. We just have to keep moving forward with the fear, and do what is necessary to get to the other side where there is a much better life waiting for you and your kids.

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