Six months ago my (soon to be ex) wife, came home and asked me for a divorce. I spent a week begging for her to reconsider, and then asked her to move out. Prior to her announcement, we would periodically argue about the close relationship she had with a co-worker. All the behaviors were there: unaccounted for credit card charges, suddenly working out, going on “business” trips together, etc. Two months after we separated she told me that she was now dating her co-worker. Her official statement, is that they magically realized they were in love one day, but NEVER engaged in anything inappropriate before we separated. She is finally happy and I should be happy for her because it will make her a better parent (I don’t get the logic either). She constantly reminds me that it was the best decision for both of us and I should work through my hurt feelings “for the kids” so that we can be friends.
We were together for a little under 17 years and have small children together, however we live in a state that does not recognize gay marriage or second parent adoption. My wife does pay child support even though legally she is not required (which she is quick to point out), and she would say we share custody, but in reality she only sees the kids when it is convenient for her.
I maintain as little contact as possible considering we have small children. Whenever, she tries to engage me in small talk, usually to slip in an insult or remind me how awesome her new life is, I just smile, put the kids in the car and drive off.
In public, she plays off our divorce as a “mutual decision.” In reality, everyone knows that she cheated and is pretty disgusted with her. And that Chump Lady is what has me so pissed off. She walks around telling people I was a horrible wife and claims I was emotionally abusive, and everyone lets her, myself included. Family and friends just shake their head and don’t ever dare to contradict her, in fear that she will fly off the handle. When talking to me, they are quick to call her a liar and complain about her out of control behavior. Even I just ignore her mean-spirited texts and only respond when they are about the children.
I recently found out that she is taking her new girlfriend on the family reunion vacation we had planned this summer. She just swapped me out for the new model. Her family has told me how upset they are about the whole thing, but not one person told her that it was inappropriate. Nobody wants to listen to her tantrums about people denying her the ability to be happy.
Chump Lady, when does this all stop? When will I stop caring when she does mean spiteful things like send me holiday pictures of the kids with her new girlfriend so that I can see “we could all be one happy family” as soon as I “get over it” even though there is nothing to get over because she did nothing wrong. She asked for a divorce, I gave her a divorce. Why won’t she just leave me alone? I read somewhere that I should just ignore her and she would eventually get bored and forget that I exist, much like she forgot she was married. Why does it seem that the more I ignore her, the meaner she gets? I’ve spent enough time on your website to know that “meh” will find me on some random Tuesday. Any advice on what to do in the meantime?
Waiting Not So Patiently
Gee, I can’t imagine why you don’t want to be friends with someone who tells everyone you were a horrible, emotionally abusive wife. Isn’t character assassination the stuff abiding friendship is made of?
Gay, straight, whatever — cheaters are all alike. They detonate your life and then stand back and Fail To Understand Your Hostility.
She cheated on you. You’re not obligated to be her friend. Period.
And Waiting, if I’m reading your letter correctly, you’re not legally obligated to give her jack shit. It is unjust that your marriage of 17 years is not recognized by your state, but dear God woman, make the bigoted state laws work for you!
If she has no legal claim to the kids, that means YOU call the shots on when she sees the kids. YOU have custody. YOU are in the power seat. She walked out on those kids, and you have ZERO obligation to share them with her. Bitch should be dancing to your tune, IMO.
Just how badly do you need the child support? Enough to put up with her narcissistic ass for the next 18 years? If she is not obligated to pay child support, do you really think you can count on that support anyway? Do you really think she would respect a visitation agreement when she only sees the kids when it is “convenient” now?
It seems to me she has you in the chump lock of “It’s best for the children that I remain in their life.” So you eat that shit sandwich. But Waiting — she abandoned those kids for her fuck buddy. And unlike your straight brethren in chumpdom, you are NOT legally obligated to eat that shared, co-parenting shit sandwich.
Maybe it is best for the kids to have a relationship with both of you. I don’t know. But I do know that you wield some power here, so start using it. Feel free to say — when she wants to take your kids on a vacation with the OW — “Yeah, that’s not a convenient time for us. How about you have them next weekend instead?” Or whatever suits you. Waiting, YOU DON’T HAVE TO EAT THIS SHIT SANDWICH.
Now then, as to the issue of why she’s mean to you the more you ignore her? Kibbles. You threatened kibble supply.
Why does she want to be “friends”? Kibbles. You can be a secondary source of supply. And your friendship helps the impression management that She’s Not Such a Bad Person. See! She has Waiting’s endorsement that she’s wonderful!
Why does she send you spiteful pictures of her holidays with the OW? Kibbles again! She’s trying to goad you into the Pick Me dance. Don’t you want to compete for the fabulousness that is her? Are you heartbroken? Kibbles! Do you care? KIBBLES!
Narcissists all want centrality. She will use the kids (and pay the support) to maintain some centrality in your life. Oh and here’s your first clue she doesn’t care about motherhood — she thinks paying you support is doing you some kind of FAVOR. She took on the monumental obligation of bringing children into this world and being family, and she REMINDS you that she’s not LEGALLY their mother — so you take her up on that, okay? She’s a POS. She should do what’s right because she made a commitment. Oh, but she sucks at commitment, legal or otherwise.
It’s only been 6 months, Waiting. You’re in the early days. You WILL gain a life. This idiot will become less and less relevant to you and the kids. Once the kids stop acting like cute props for vacations with the girlfriend, and act like actual children, you know, sticky and annoying and whinging about chicken nuggets for dinner — she’ll probably lose interest. Maybe when you aren’t so obliging to fit in around her schedule, she’ll lose interest sooner.
As to the family and friends who go along with her impression management and don’t contradict her version of events? You don’t control that. I’m sorry you’re losing 17 years of family with her, but that’s divorce. It sucks. It’s not good for your no contact to be parsing the details of how “out of control” she is at family functions. And anyone who passes along a mean bit of gossip is NOT your friend. They’re stirring up shit.
Here’s a sad thing about the disordered — they demand spackle. And most people (yourself included) oblige them.
Yeah, yeah, you’re a Solid Citizen. Okay! Please don’t explode in chaos! (Throws fistfuls of kibbles at them…)
People prefer the narrative that your ex is a loving involved parent and you’re all One Big Friendly Family still. They much prefer it over the reality that your ex callously left you and two small children for a co-worker. And that she pays child support like it was ransom.
You know what they win with their spackling? ALL HER CRAZY still in their lives. They win her narcissistic, chaotic self. They win the constant boundary pushing and shifting narratives. They win more buckets of spackle!
They lost you — a good, faithful loving person. And if they can’t muster up outrage, well, they aren’t worth spit.
What can you do in the meantime, while you’re processing all this loss?
Trust that she sucks. Trust that the OW isn’t getting a prize, she’s just fresh kibble. Trust that you’re going to be just fine without her.