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Dear Chump Lady, I just discovered that my mom cheated

secretsHi Chump Lady,

I’m 28, married to a wonderful man, and expecting our first child in a couple of weeks.

My dad is a great guy, and we have always gotten along pretty well, probably because we’re so much alike. He and my mom got divorced when I was 12, and both parents are remarried. My dad and my husband chat on occasion and I like that they get along well also.

I recently found out that my parent’s divorce was caused by my mother’s affair with her current husband. Unfortunately, I found out because my husband told me, after my dad told him the story assuming that I already knew. I spent 16 years not knowing the truth, 6 years living with the OM (the cause of my parents’ divorce), and I spent the entire time listening to my mom talk trash about my dad while my dad never said a thing.

My mother has many narcissistic traits, and I am not speaking to her while I work through the anger and resentment I feel toward her for behavior unrelated to her affair. But this revelation about her affair has me feeling even angrier and more betrayed, and it don’t know what  to do. I find myself in a situation where I want to talk to my dad about it, but I don’t know how to start the conversation, or even if I should bring it up.

How would a “chump” feel about being asked about the betrayal by his adult child? Is it even any of my business at this point? I really want, maybe even need to know, so that  I can cope with it, too. I feel like I was never given the opportunity to deal with the reality of the situation. I’m just so confused and don’t know what to do.


Dear Ashley,

Boy, you’re a 28-year-old poster child for disclosure. Your predicament is exactly why I advise chumps to tell their kids the truth about divorce. “Mom cheated.” Leave off the editorializing (“Mom is a whore!”) and just the facts. Relationships have deal breakers. Choices have consequences.

Please don’t fault your father for not telling you. There is so much advice out there to do exactly what he did — never speak of this. I would assume that he ate the shit sandwich and took the high road for your benefit — to not poison your relationship with your mother. Also understand that being cheated on is deeply humiliating, and there is a gender divide on disclosure. A lot of men probably would not publicly admit that they’d been cuckolded.

The reason I tell people to give children the facts is, I don’t think it’s kind to gaslight your own children, even with the best of intentions. Oh, we grew apart! No, Bob had nothing to do with the break up of our marriage! Of course children still love their cheating parent — but at least they understand something of that parent’s character. And they will know that divorce isn’t this nebulous thing that Just Happens. Kids have guts and intuition too, and I think they deserve the truth told to them in age appropriate ways. They need to know that dad (or mom) is sad or angry or finds it difficult to be around the affair partner for a reason.

You didn’t have the truth for 16 years. I can understand why you’d want to talk to your parents now. It’s your story too.

I will take your word for it that your mom is narcissistic and was the cheater. There’s always a chance that your dad isn’t telling the truth. (Cheaters often turn the narrative around that it was the chump who cheated.) But the fact that he didn’t bad mouth your mom and kept silent for 16 years, sounds like a chump move. So I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt here.

It sounds like, even without knowing about the cheating, you have a good working knowledge of your mother’s character and you find her difficult. If it were me, I would approach your father and ask him what happened. Let him know that you just learned about the affair from your husband, and no, you had no idea. (He may be working from the assumption that your mother told you. Cheaters lie.)

I’ll let the other chumps weigh in on this, but I think most chumps would be relieved to tell you what happened.

If you ask for your mother’s side of it, please know that if your mom is disordered, she’s going to spin this. She may insist that you knew and were okay with it. She may deny it. She may demonize your father and say he drove her to it. Please don’t base any of your healing on getting some admission of guilt or remorse from her.

It’s really tough to have a narcissistic parent, but there are good resources out there. (Check out the books in the Resource section on this blog — “Why Is It Always About You?” and Dr. Simon’s books would be great reads for you.)

It’s your choice what kind of relationship to have with your mom. My advice to you, if your mom is a narcissist, is to settle for a very superficial one and have strong boundaries. Don’t share your vulnerable underbelly with her. Don’t ask for compassion or support from her. Anything that requires empathy will not be her strong suit. Shopping for cute baby outfits? Fine. A good therapist can help you figure out how to manage this relationship without losing your soul as a kibble dispenser.

Best of luck, Ashley and congratulations on your impending motherhood!

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Yes, relief. Relief is what I always feel when I can finally tell the truth, especially to somene who is open-minded and willing to listen.

    • My current partner never discussed his wife’s cheating with his three kids to my knowledge. They have grown up in the mother’s house and heard her trash talk their Dad for years. As a result, over the past 14 years, he has struggled to have good contact with the youngest daughter, although now she is grown, they are friends. The kids are now in their 20’s.

      I think daughter must know her mother is difficult. However, the kids’ constant wish that their parents should be there at all important events (this includes sitting together at birthdays, sports events, and soon, weddings and births, is starting to have an effect on our relationship because he has said I will not be included if his ex is there “alone”.

      It is because partner feels so guilty at his kids’ “trauma” over their parents’ split that he says they “should never have to suffer because of their parents’ problems”. I think if they knew the whole ugly truth (which I’ve heard from partner’s extended family) then the gown kids would not be so insistent on Mom and Dad smoking the peace pipe.

      • “My current partner never discussed his wife’s cheating with his three kids to my knowledge. They have grown up in the mother’s house and heard her trash talk their Dad for years. As a result, over the past 14 years, he has struggled to have good contact with the youngest daughter, although now she is grown, they are friends. The kids are now in their 20’s.”

        The man I have been dating for almost 2 years was a chump. His wife cheated 16 years into their marriage. They had 4 children & she moved in the OM immediately. She trash-talked her ex to the point that he still does not have a great relationship with his now adult children. I try not to get upset but he never includes me when he takes them out for dinner when they come to town, mainly to visit their mother. I think he is still trying to do right all these years & including me may seem that he has moved on.

    • my wife cheated on me when i became disabled, not totally i can still get around, and told me she needed a real man not a cripple. She took my 12yr old daughter to the guys work and she walked in on them getting it on and made her promise not to tell. For 3yrs i didnt know she was sleeping around. She played the game so well i just never saw any signs. During the divorce she lied about me, got an order of protection that was later canceled when the judge found out she was lying. Her new boyfriend bought the kids cars, apt rent, and lavish gifts. And now the kids wont even talk to me. I always took the higher road during the divorce and never said a bad word about their mother to the kids. Its been 3 more yrs and they wont even talk to me. I just dont get how they can know their mother cheated, she moved him in three days after the order of protection. And hate me for doing nothing. I dont understand how i could be replaced to the point of not even being acknowledged. They are all grown now, and i now have grandbabies that i dont even get to see. Can someone tell me why they can hate me for loving them and their mother, none of it was my fault. I did nothing. Please someone tell me why this is happening. Will they ever change, or will i spend the rest of my life without them…plz help.

      • Corey, this is very heartbreaking. I’m so sorry.
        There are a few people here who, surprisingly, had their children react the same way towards one parent, which is totally unconceivable.
        Especially since they cheated and broke up the core of the family.
        Maree knows it well and perhaps she will have some perspective.
        I don’t know if it’s your spouse who has manipulated the kids to believe her narrative….who knows what they will say to preserve their ‘honorable status’.
        And, you took the high-road not influencing the kids against their mother.
        I have no idea not having children but it seems, they are either at a very vulnerable age, extremely stressed out, and trying to find the easy way out.
        They are super angry!
        If some guy was suddenly buying my 13-14 yr old self a kayak or a new pair of ski’s, I’d probably be trying to bury pain and try to find the best way to get materialist things. (Hey, maybe he’ll buy me a car) Kids can be very selfish but they are so immature and it will wear off eventually. Maybe then, they will realize who really has the morals and that money means squat and doesn’t buy love.
        Please hang in there, Corey! I pray they wake up someday.

    • Yes relief, just to finally tell the story. My then 8 year old was with me when I accidentally found out the affair was continuing, she calls it “dads day of screaming”, poor thing. She’s 10 now and I did talk to her a few days ago about it, & used Chump Ladies “special friends” anecdote, as I get on the the awful ex superficially and I didn’t want to my child to think I accepted her mums behaviour, I just happen not to utterly utterly detest her (i detest the way we broke up, fuck her to hell for that mindfuck). But I’m reminded that when we did break up and I told the awful ex that we were splitting coz I couldn’t accept her cheating she said “oh is that how you are spinning it?”. That amazing style of mindfuckery where it’s so ludicrous it takes a year or so to untangle.

  • My dad has NPD. What meh looked like for me was working with a therapist through the anger and grief of accepting that he is a very limited person and there are a lot of things I will just never have with him. At some point I realized that it was like wishing that a stink bug could be a beautiful butterfly. All the wishing in the world would never make that happen. So I have very superficial email contact with him. I don’t wish him any ill, but I really don’t enjoy being around him, so I don’t do that to myself. I focus on the other family relationships I have that are more meaningful. It sounds like your dad is a decent guy. I would broach him about what you learned, it seems like you need to talk about it to move past it.

    • DeeDee, my therapist also said my X was limited. It’s a hard thing to know about your father. I struggled with this fact for years and now understand his NPD impacts not only the spouse but the children as well. He too has little contact with his adult children and prefers to sit drinking in a casino nightly with a disgusting low life. We have all moved on with our lives and truthfully we all enjoy ourselves without the tension and negativity that defined every interaction. At least now my children know because of his addictions and preference to be with a trashy whore they see his personality disorder. I didn’t have to say a thing his behavior said it all

  • I wish I could tell my stepdaughters that the way their father discarded me is not how you treat your spouse, but because they are not my kids I don’t feel I can, yet. Like CL says, cheating is not okay and shouldn’t be treated like an accident. I agree you should come right out and ask your dad about it — he no doubt thought you already knew.

    • I see nothing wrong, if the subject comes up, with saying ‘Your dad and I split because he was seeing someone outside our relationship’. If you had a good relationship with them they will appreciate the honesty. And it’s better than them thinking someone just flaunts off into the night with no real reason.

      • “if the subject comes up” – this is always my problem. I know that, if/when my kids ask me, I will tell them the truth. I just can’t bring myself to initiate the conversation. It just feels wrong. Reading this post has really gotten me thinking that maybe I need to find a way.

        • TwinsDad, do the kids have therapists? You might ask them, I’d think an opening for that conversation would be asking how they feel about the split and do they understand it’s not about them. But hey, I don’t have kids so it’s just a thought, not an experience

          • Thank you Dat! That’s a good idea. They seem to be taking it all very well, but I do check in from time to time. That may prompt them to ask more questions. I’ll think more about it.

        • TwinsDad- please tell your kids. My kids were 11 and 14 at the time and I waited 4 months after dday to tell them when it was just strong on my heart. I stuck to the facts, no name calling, etc. and we’ve only discussed it once so far. They were upset but I noticed after that they were much more peaceful and my 11 year old stopped acting out. I think when I told them the truth it really confirmed that our separation had nothing to do with them. Turns out my 14 year old already suspected it and even knew who the OW was. I had early legal counsel that I shouldn’t tell them but it never felt right to me. After reading Ashley’s letter I know I did the right thing.

          • To tell or not to tell, I had a huge amount of external influence after d’day on my situation and struggled in the beginning. My then 14 yr old son knew, he outed his father to me.
            Driving home from hospital with my then 11 yr old daughter, a few days after her 9 yr old sister had been diagnosed with leukaemia and just a month after D’day, I asked what she knew of adultery from her study of the 10 commandments in Sunday school. When she explained what she new, I explained that her father had broken that commandment but it did not change that he was her dad and that I would do all I could to ensure she had a relationship with him. Months later I had to revisit that discussion after finding that kids knew the truth at her school due to her brother voicing his anger to his mates, it was then that she learned that her dad had, had a boyfriend during or marriage. She doesn’t need detail, and once she knew the truth the added weight on my son to guard what he said was gone and so was the tension. It has never altered her interaction with her father and that at this point is a good thing.

          • Yes, it can be that your kids already know or suspect and then what you have on top of divorce or separation and betrayal is a huge family secret–and “a family is as sick as its secrets,” to quote a common saying in addiction recovery. You can just say, “This is hard for me to tell you, but I’d rather you hear it from me than from someone outside the family.” Kids either internalize the blame for the family breakup or fantasize that they can “fix” the problem or “save” the cheating parent and perhaps even the devastated chumped parent. I think telling the truth puts the kids back in the “kid” space instead of the “family rescuer” space.

        • I brought it up, actually. Kicking my ex happened literally overnight so the kids went from ‘happy family’ to ‘broken family’ in the space of 24 hours. There wasn’t much to do other than tell them the truth: dad has been seeing someone else and mom isn’t putting up with it. Then the rest started to filter out, drama ensued due to final OW not being totally sure she wanted to be with him, blah blah blah.

          The kids know and sometimes they wish they didn’t but as I have told them, it’s better to know the truth. Lies are what set all of this in motion in the first place.

        • Don’t listen to women’s advice on how to be a man, they project pretty consistently and are FAR more likely to justify their emotions through action. If it comes up is an entirely different conversation than you bringing it up. The advice to tell a child younger than an adult about their mother/fathers cheating is actually quite petty. Just my opinion.

          • Xam – ‘Don’t listen to women’s advice on how to be a man, they project pretty consistently and are FAR more likely to justify their emotions through action. If it comes up is an entirely different conversation than you bringing it up. The advice to tell a child younger than an adult about their mother/fathers cheating is actually quite petty. Just my opinion.’

            Your opinion is noted. But, huh? ‘Women project pretty consistently’. WTH does that mean?
            And, we justify our emotions? Oh, I see. Didn’t know I had to justify my emotions and actions are what are actually meaningful and words are useless.

            There are a large number of people here (and it’s been discussed ad nauseum) who agree that the children need to be told in an age-appropriate way about why their parents’ marriage split up. Too bad if that makes one parent look like scum. (they are) Also, many folks here raised by parents who split up and the kids, not being dummies, were lied to (and basically gaslighted) when they new something far bigger was going on. It does a lot of damage.


            Good luck to you TwinsDad.

            • Funny how that phrase Just My Opinion rubs me oddly.
              If it’s not your opinion, then whose is it? Obviously.

              You know, just a little pettiness thrown in for some humor.

              • I think I prefer ‘*I* feel differently….or *I* don’t agree.’
                We all know it’s your opinion.
                And, we all know it is humble.

                ok – that’s off my chest.

              • Not trying to poke fun of a fellow chump Xam, not at all.
                I totally respect your opinion.
                I didn’t realize this was such an old post so I assume you are going through the archives.

                If you are, welcome to our quirky group.

      • ” And it’s better than them thinking someone just flaunts off into the night with no real reason.”

        additionally, you don’t want your children to think either

        1) It’s ok to cheat, there are no consequences. they may learn the hard way after they try “a quick one” in high school or college that other people don’t think so.


        2) that being cheated on is something that you have to put up with …… until the cheater dumps you first. You certainly don’t want to teach your children that there is some glory in being a sitting duck.

  • Do not lose your soul as a kibble dispenser. 🙂 I recently read that abusive parents have two types of children: those who survive with denial & those who are mentally tortured. Not sure if that is true, but it sure explains a lot. Neither approach is irreparable… you either gotta start building walls or tearing them down. It is a lot of work, but it is worth it.
    I have started applying some cheater survival mechanisms to my Mom: ie. If her mouth is moving, she is lying.
    She hates when I listen to her without embracing her bluster, but man, it is good for my sanity.

  • My mother was always discreet about my father’s role in the divorce. As I got older, she told me more when I asked and I appreciated it. She is always open to answering my questions but still says, “Your father may have his own side.”

    My response is he is not around and that is too bad for him.

    • Glad your mother was discreet and this worked out for you.

      My concern with a “your father may have his own side” approach is that we chumps know all too well the web cheaters will spin when given the opportunity.

      i regret not cautioning my young adult daughters about how to translate their father’s narcissism, blameshifting and flat out lies (aka “his own side..”). but then again, i did not know at the time wtf had just happened. blindsiding does that to a person. i also did not know about CL until almost 2 years after Dday

      if knowledge is power, truth and reality are turbo rocket boosters. developmentally appropriated of course..

        • My Mum and Dad sat us down and explained the situation together. No editorialising, just the facts, that they loved each other, but Dad had such a sheltered upbringing, he didn’t even know what gay was, and after around fifteen years of happy marriage, he worked it out, lol. He kept it hidden, his dirty little secret (and, yeah, it was dirty, hidden public toilet hookups, ewwww – but where else did you go for that in the late 70s – early 80s in “backwaters”? Mum was fabulous. Gutted, torn, absolutely heartbroken, but we had the truth, and her. He flew off the rails, ten years of little contact – only the stuff Mum made us do (“You’d better catch up with your father, he’d appreciate it” – Bullshit, he didn’t care at that stage.) Later on he woke up and realised what a self-absorbed arsehole he had been, and he has contact with us all and his grandkids now. But I will never love him, I know he is my father, but he is deeply disordered – not the homosexuality, that is no problem – he just doesn’t live in the real world anymore. This, my down-to-earth Dad who I grew up with. They split as I left school to go to uni, my younger brothers had a different story to me, they did those last years at home with a mighty singly Mum!

          Mine know the facts, also no editorialising. They are safe, informed and have a good relationship with both of us. Mine is not a narc (just was for a while, lol!) It works for us that the truth is out there, and we have used the experience to illustrate the dangers of being, or being with, an arsehole!

          • OMG.
            As hard as that face to face would have been I give your dad credit for owning his issues to your face.
            My XH is a carbon copy of your dad (and yes they still do that public toilet hook up shit now) but my XH is not developed enough to own his issues and claimed it was all in his ‘passed’ from the moment he confessed using the eldership of our church to hide behind, he has taken no responsibility and has used every excuse as to why he did it. Curiosity, demonic possession, that I was such an awful wife. He was very angry that or son was told the full extent of his behaviour and that I didn’t leave the poor kid to guessing, seeing he had cought his dad indulging in homosexual photography.
            He would shocked to know all the kids know to some degree, there are no secrets in my house. Just love, guidance and acceptance.
            My XH has been so desperate to hide who he really is, yes I do truly believe he is a gay man stuck due to his bigoted upbringing and the bias misogynistic nature of the church we have been in for over ten years who were happy to hide him and ply him with the excuses to ensure he was ‘restored’ to heterosexuality. I feel sorry for the woman he has sucked in to this ongoing lie that he is living. He and the church have convinced her that he is restored and that his marriage ended to a lack of faith and commitment on my behalf.

            And I won’t go into the fact that he is also a narc so she is special and he is extra special, and has now found the love of his life.

              • Hmmm, don’t get me started on some religious views about the LBGT community. Dad is gay. He has identified as gay for the past 30 years. He grew up with Christianity, Mum was agnostic, so we did get some exposure to the church-attending-thing as kids. There is no “restoration to heterosexuality” – Lady Gaga had it right, “baby, you were born this way.” To deny this does SO much damage. If he had been nurtured to be who he is, he wouldn’t have married my mother, and she would have a whole different life course. However, it is what it is, she was very philosophical about it all once she got over the agony of a nearly twenty year marriage being somewhat of a sham – the four kids she brought up would have been a very different bunch!

                He recently told me he considers himself bisexual. I laughed, as that is not the story I know. I even said, “okay, when did you last love and/or have sex with a woman?” He said, “your mother” – to which I just thought, good grief – that was well over 30 years ago!

                Yeah, Thankful, we were lucky, we had a great mother!

  • Ashley, congrats on the upcoming parenthood!
    Your story is why I told my kids my exH cheated. I waited almost a year, so the emotions were calmer and I would not editorialize.
    But I think it is extremely important to know the true events, in the case of cheating, and other situations.
    My mother spent 50 years thinking she was the cause of her mother’s death, complications related to childbirth she had been told. Really, she was 2? Turns out, my grandmother died of leukemia. Why lie about that?! What a whacked family; we do not have much contact with them.
    My mother has a host of issues, and I would not be surprised if things such as this were the root cause.

  • Ashley,

    I’d suggest looking at this as one friend to another now that you are an adult. If you had something (i.e. knowledge and a compassionate listening ear) and your friend needed it, wouldn’t you want to give that to your friend? I suspect your dad would want to help you the best he can. So, I agree with CL here. Talk to him and share with him what you just discovered letting him know how that makes you feel.


  • Ashley, our parents are grown ups and they make their own choices, just like chumps do, unfaithful spouses do and as a mother and wife you yourself will do. Some of us make good choices some make shitty ones. But reality is once decided and acted upon it cannot be undone.
    My question would be, are you pissed at your mum for keeping you in the dark allowing you to form an inbias bond with your stepfather? Or knowing how devastating cheating is, are you now pissed on your dads behalf because you never saw that emotion in him when you were younger and you feel he now needs a voice? You have a right to be angry but please make sure it is genuinely your own.
    I say this because I harboured anger towards my mother for years for her shitty choices and for keeping me in the dark so I was a compliant unwitting support to her actions.
    My mother is an exceptional narc, I remember as a child under the age of 4 being handed to my father as he came home from work, literally as he walked through the door sometimes, as she left all dressed up. I don’t know where she went, but when my father died just before my 5th birthday she shacked up less than a month later with the man who became my stepfather. I was too young at the time to understand the gravity of the situation, and I adored my stepdad, but as a young woman I got it and it made me furious. But no matter my feelings it was her life, her choice. I was fed, clothed, abused and at times neglected by her, but no amount of anger will change that. I was angry for me and for my dad who was treated like he never existed. This emotion took a long time to work through, you sound as though you have a great relationship with your dad. Go talk to him, get his view, but also try to respect his decisions, both at the then and now.

    Hugs to you. And for your dad!

  • Boy, does this post hit home. First marriage – I found out that my ex was having an affair, which led to his abandonment of our family. I was completely blindsided (again….). I didn’t have solid evidence. So I said nothing to my children who were 4 and 2 at the time. I thought I was doing the right thing but it has chaffed at me since.

    If my sons asked me today I would tell them what I know. Not sure what it would accomplish now.

    Since my 2nd ex cheated too – my kids know all about it and what he did was a little more public. And they are adults now as well. I don’t feel that I have to protect them.

    Cheaters … lot in life no more. But I have been a chump a lot longer than 21 years. Sigh.

  • I told my son the truth as soon as he asked. It was about 2 months after DDay He’s 7 years old.

    He was playing in my closet and, out of the blue, said, “I can’t wait until Daddy comes back.”. Dang. I thought he understood that he wasn’t when we told him that Daddy got an apartment. Nope. So I told him. I said that when mommies and daddies are married they aren’t supposed to have girlfriends/boyfriends. Your Daddy has a girlfriend so we aren’t going to be married anymore. (btw I got these words of wisdom here on Chumplady) He had some follow up questions like “Is God mad at Daddy? Will He punish him?” and “Don’t you wish they would break up”. I answered them as best I could and I don’t regret telling him at all. He will always know that Mommy is a truth-teller no matter how ugly and heartbreaking it is.

    Now, he speaks with confidence about Daddy and him never living with us again. He knows the truth. 8 months DDay, he only has contact with his Dad once a week for about 24 hours. No phone calls during the week. This broke my heart FOR him. But he is thriving. He does not ask for his Dad. I hope that means that, for now, I am enough. He gets love and discipline and stability with me.

    And, Ashley, CL is so right. This is YOUR story too. Not just your paren’ts story. The first two casualties after a spouse cheats is the demolition of the marriage and the impact it has on the children. Their lives are forever changed. You deserve answers no matter how old you are or when it happened.

    • Conniered, that is one of the saddest stories. Your brave little son, I can just picture him. What a monstrous father to leave him like that.

      • Conniered, it is so heartbreaking that we are left to repair the distruction these cheaters leave without an afterthought. You handled it beautifully.

        X and I were away for a holiday weekend when he said to my granddaughter, you girls should have a girls weekend and he left to sleep with his pig. My granddaughter knows the truth. He also lied to my daughter saying we weren’t getting along and made a point of showing her his wedding band he cut off his finger saying it broke. He had arranged to move out the week before at the request of his slut who gave him an ultimatum. He was telling me he loved me and was sleeping with both of us. His actions cost him his family. Now he is alone and in a living hell. He is miserable with no way out of his situation. They live the hell they create. All children deserve to know the truth and it’s best explained by the chump regardless of their age.

    • Good for you Conniered! I haven’t had the guts to do this yet, I’m embarrassed to say. I’ve only said that there is a specific reason for the divorce and I will tell them some day. Kicking that can down the road isn’t working too well lately as they seem to be struggling in different ways. Hugs to you and your son.

      • You’re not the only one kicking that can, stronger. I wish I knew the right way to handle it for me. Wishing you strength.

        • Thank you for the encouragement. It means a lot. Sending that wish for strength right back to you.

          We’ll get there.

    • i was like you and told that same story almost verbatim to my sons, then 8 and 12. but it was my sons who were saying “i dont think daddy is coming back this time”. i have always told my sons the truth. i am guilty of editorialize him also but i try really really hard not to. i always answer their questions in a child age appropriate answer. i dont go into details just the facts as i saw them. i tell the boys that is the way i felt or the way i thought. i probably need to say that he has a different story more often. because i know he will tell them something completely then what i told them.

      it is sometime really hard because i try to instill morals and values into my children. so i use everyday issues or problems to use as an example of what to do and what NOT to do. for instance, if my son friend was lying and my son over heard it, i go into the spew of how lying is wrong, even considered a sin. how some people lie for attention, or tell stories that are not true to “FIT” in and how that is still a lie. i might explain how lying is hard work, you have to remember all those different stories you told all those different people, your mind can never rest and you will never know if the truth will come out. Therefore it is just much easier, healthier and better all around to tell the truth. even if the truth is painful or hurts, it is better to face the truth then lie……….anyways. so NOW it is my sons who editorialize, THEY are TELLING ME dad is a liar. or dad always lies or something like that. some times out of the blue, one of my sons will say “dad is stupid from leaving us” or “dad likes his beer more then he likes us”……………any advise on what i should do? i dont want to lie to them. If it is simple, i will just agree and say, “yes, he did lie alot and he shouldnt have” or “your dad should have told the truth” if they ask WHY or if they have questions i usually say “you will need to ask him because i dont know” but when they say other things that are not easy, i am not sure how to answer them. i still stick with the “ask your dad”………..which of course wont happen because they havent seen dad in 11 months. and they dont think they will ever see him. so it seems like a cop out to say that but then again, it is bad for me to editorialize him. so what should i do? when my kids are bad mouthing their dad but it is not really bad mouthing because it is the truth.

      • Hey, Mrsvain,

        I have had some experience with this, it will likely pass. I have been guilty of editorializing, but then, Mr Fab told her, with me in the room. I told him he would have to tell her we were splitting up and why.

        It’s not about the cheating for the kids as such, it’s the narcissism. Their dad is a selfish dick, and they have every right to call a spade-as Dat said above, they are speaking not from thought, but experience. He lies, he blows them off, he loves beer better (and that is very, very sad for a kid). It’s not slander if it is true. I think Ashley and her Dad will likely have similar conversations.

        My mighty daughter figured it out, so did your kids. If we want them to respect our opnions, we have to respect theirs. I sort of joked it off after a while. He was giving her a shit ton of word salad at one point,she came home to a hellish message from him, and said, “I better go talk to Big Angry Baby Man. I said, “Why have a battle of wits with the unarmed?” So we went out for pizza instead.

        love and strength to you, and all Chump Nation!

        • Thank you Mehphista. i guess i just need to agree with them when they say stuff like that. i was worried about the respect thing. i was taught and have been teaching my children to respect their elders, even their messed up sperm donor. (which is what i started calling him now since he is not a dad or a father). i still try to tell them to respect.

          the first conversation he has with his boys after all this time is going to be interesting. i have a feeling that if the children show any kind of anger or hurt in the form of disrespect, exhole will blame me and disappear again. not my problem thou, i know what my boys feel and we talk every day.

          • MrsVain, your words “he is not a dad or a father” are so accurate. In creating their new identity what DO they consider themselves? This is the most puzzling aspect of the personality disordered. It really does support their inability to empathize with their own children. I have stopped trying to imagine what he was thinking when he erased his entire life. I was basically told ‘he doesn’t think’ the way you or I do. I guess I give him more credit in the thinking department than he deserved. I

  • sore sore subject for me. While I am 90% at meh (some days really feel like I don’t ever look back and I’m 100% back to being myself), when I think about my toddler’s future it feels like I’m regressing in my progress to the point where I start to obsess about how this lack of an intact family will effect his adult life. Someone told me once that if you experience divorce as a child, you will never be able to know what a proper, healthy and not a dysfunctional relationship looks like. Regardless, if you see them portrayed in the media, in friend’s families, etc. Children only relate to what is modeled to them in their own home. So if your parents divorced, statistically, you have 50% chance of divorcing yourself… this is the stuff I obsess about when I can’t fall asleep at night. Will my child ever be able to trust another person if I tell him that his father is a disordered fuck? Will he ever be able to trust me? Will he see his father as the narcissist that he is or will he be snowed by him like he has been so far. “Oh, your mother is just difficult, she’s never happy and will never be no matter what I do…” The list goes on.

    • Divorce does not doom you to marital failure. My parents have been married nearly 50 years — I’ve been divorced (and so has my brother). Conversely, I have a cousin whose parents went through a terrible divorce and she’s been married to a wonderful man for years.

      50% odds? Isn’t that the national average anyway?

      All you can do is model yourself to your child. Be resilient. Be positive. Don’t be a chump. Love people who respect you and who reciprocate. If you make mistakes (we all do!), learn from them.

      Don’t internalize the divorce shame!

      • This!

        My parents were married for 50 years before my father’s untimely demise from complications after a fall. My father’s eyes always lit up when he talked about my mom. They treated each other well and with respect. They each contributed to the rearing of their several children. And yes, their children are about 50% in terms of divorce.

        • My parents did not divorce, but should have. My 5 siblings and I are 50% on the divorce (but frankly should be at 80% divorce, imo). The psychological havoc wreaked on the children and the more giving-partner in a marriage is much worse than the thought of eating ramen noddles 4 dinners a week because of a divorce.

          I’d like to think that if my mother had left my narc father, I wouldn’t have ended up with Narc-2, but we’ll never know.

      • “Don’t internalize the divorce shame!” – I really needed to hear that today; thanks, CL. My XH LOVES to remind me that my whole family is divorced (both siblings and my parents). In fact, he threw that fact at my daughter a few days ago AND told her that SHE would be divorced someday, too! This was said to her because she dared to tell him that she is still mad at him … as if her inability to forgive and “understand” her dad’s behavior means future marriage failure for her. I tried to explain to her that the divorces in my family mean that we haven’t been very good at picking partners and it is my hope that her and her sister will do better for themselves someday. I can only hope my divorce will actually mean a better chance of success for them.

      • Same here– my parents have been married for 50 years and modeled what a normal relationship should look like. They’ve stuck together through a lot of lousy family issues, very lean financial times, the deaths of both of their parents, major surgeries for both of them… and I am divorced from a man who cheated on me probably because he felt that we didn’t have enough sex and that family life was just too predictable and boring (never mind how blessed we were, of course). Talk about being a spoiled brat!

        It’s not what I wanted for my kids, but I sometimes wonder if it was for the best– what if I had stayed with my ex, and my kids still lived full-time with his impatience, bad temper, and immaturity (and that doesn’t include the A)? Let’s throw in the A– what if I had stayed and modeled a even more dysfunctional relationship for them?

        Perhaps, in some ways, it was better that my ex cheated. It opened my eyes to what a selfish human being he is and how he always put his needs before anyone else’s. At least now, I am the primary custodian, and my kids spend more time with my calmer personality and much warmer behavior toward them. The ex’s Owife is just like him (they even look like siblings), so my kids hate going over there, but at least it’s only EOW and one weeknight, so they get much smaller doses of Cheater and Co.’s self-absorption.

        • Moving on – I can completely relate! The good news is since the narc abandoned us for OWhore, we never saw or really heard from him again. The absolute best thing I did after the cheater pants walked out the door was gave him 2 weeks to tell our 14 year old daughter the truth because I had seen the results of not telking the kids and how the chump parent got blamed for the narcs adultery. So, I gave him the opportnity to confess to our daughter that he had committed adultery and had in fact had multiple affaires over our 23 year marriage. And if he didn’t do it in that 2 week time frame I would and she wouldn’t be getting his sanitised version. Of course he didn’t tell her he was an adulterer becasue it would make him look bad and he still wanted cake kibbles from the kid but she had already guessed and confronted him on his immoral behavior during the two weeks after he left. She told him she wanted her named changed to my maiden name, she would never meet the OWhore, and his stunningly unethical behavior was unacceptable. She was prepared to go NC from the start and did. He sends her email links on rare occasions to some article about him and had the nerve to send her an email on his birthday asking if she was going to wish him a happy birthday. She didn’t respond but as she said to me – its always about him. Your children will see the narc for who they are, particularly older children. It was a relief for my daughter and myself when he left. We were already close but we have become even closer. She is an amazing young woman and I feel confident she has learned from my mistakes because I have been open and honest with her. My parents have been married 59 years and still have a loving and beautiful relationship. She has many role models of good fathers and definitely feels that her childhood improved the day the narc walked out the door. But as CL had mentioned in an article awhile back, being abandoned may be harder initially but in the end the forced NC by the narc makes it much easier to move on. And I had no custody battles or mind fuck surrounding kids. My daughter and I had no choice but to move on and now, nearly 2 years later, we are well on the way to meh (she’s a little farther along than mayself).

          Again, the best thing I did concerning the whole adultery revelation was make sure my daughter knew the truth. But my situation was uncomplicated because she was spending no time with her father and never saw him so there wasn’t any having to deal with narc, OWhore, visitation etc because there was none.

          Ashley, my heart goes out to kids and chumps caught up in this mess. Please don’t judge your father harshly because there is a lot of bad advice as others have told you already. Focus on the truth that your father loves you and he thought he was doing what was best given the available information. Be thankful you have a parent who loves you that much and can put your needs before theirs becase his actions speak louder than words. As for your narc mother, she will always try to rewrite history in her favor blaming your father. Your poor father has suffered enough. I am sre he will be appreciative of the opportunity to tell the truth and to receive your empathy and understanding of all he has suffered hese many years.

          • I also made sure I told my children the truth. First it was the girl only 5 years older than my 16 year old…his response “I guess mum told you about my “friend”, i’d love you to meet her one day” (never happened) Then it was “I guess mum told you about the baby, looks like you’re going to have a new baby brother or sister” again, they’ve never seen that baby….who is now nearly 2! I did tell them he was getting married, but by that time he’d moved interstate and had no contact with his kids. I guess he thought he’d kept his upcoming marriage a secret which explains his big man email…

            “I am still your father. I want to have a relationship with you. I want to know what you and your sisters are doing. I don’t undersatand why K was talking to me but isn’t talking to me anymore. I don’t know what I did wrong but I miss you and want to be part of your lives. As for me the cocksucker (well no he didn’t write that) and I are now married and living in *”

    • “Someone told me once that if you experience divorce as a child, you will never be able to know what a proper, healthy and not a dysfunctional relationship looks like.”

      MB, that is total nonsense. Please stop torturing yourself this way. I was six years old when my parents divorced. My bio father was a cheater and a narc who barely bothered to see me or my brothers after divorce. My mother met and married a wonderful man a few years later, and he was a fantastic stepfather to me and my brothers for nearly thirty years until he died from a lung disease. If my bio parents had stayed married, all I would have known was a dysfunctional, unloving marriage centered on a narc cheater. Because my parents divorced, I was lucky enough to have several decades of seeing a loving marriage, a true partnership and a good father.

      I have many friends with divorced parents who have been happily married 15 or more years. I know other people whose parents have been married 50 or more years, yet they are divorced.

      What damages kids is being in a family based on deceit, denial and disrespect. Although divorce is certainly not ideal, it is better than growing up eating shit sandwiches.

      • Glad, you response is so on target. It is hard not to worry all the time, how this divorce will affect them now and in the future. I hate that my kids don’t get to see their dad all the time but he has no love or respect for me so I don’t want them to see that either. I told my kids the divorce is mutual because I don’t want them to hate their dad but I am now torn because I don’t want them to think lying and cheating is ok. Although the other day I went on a rant about homewreckers and men who cheat on their wives, after my daughter and I heard something on the radio about it, so she may suspect the reason behind the split. I think if the kids ask again, for the reason behind our divorce, I will tell them the truth.

        • This – “I don’t want them to hate the cheater” is something I.just.don’t get. Cheating is about deceit, dishonesty, time sucking, lying and general nasty bullying. If we apply the mugging or raping or any other kind of power imbalance/abuse as we often do here, why can’t a kid dislike/hate their parent for being so completely unpleasant? Would you want your children to grow up like your cheating spouse. How do we teach values if we say on one hand, “Be honest, tell the truth” and then expect our youngsters to have relationships with people who aren’t? Doesn’t that send a message that WE, the faithful, don’t mean what we say? Hey, it’s your parent so never mind in this case, anything they want to do is fine I guess. Forget I told you to be responsible and forthright and trust people with good character.

          If cheaters are not nice people and we generally don’t believe they are when we write about them here, why can’t children be annoyed, disgusted and ticked off that they know a really bad person and don’t wanna have anything to do with them? Isn’t NC healthy for them too? They’ve been lied to as well, cheated out of time and not valued as worthy of a solid family imbedded in truth. If cheaters are awful, they’re awful. Truth is truth. Facts are facts. Maybe we wouldn’t eat shit sandwiches if our children knew what really went on.

          • Nain – I hear what you are saying and can’t disagree. But I also think I understand how tossed feels. It is so difficult in a situation where you share physical custody, live very close to each other (in my case, about 100 meters), and the kids love the cheater/narc parent. So I’m going along to get along (one of my worst chump traits). But this nags at me all the time. Looking forward to a time when the nagging is gone.

            • Hi TwinsDad and the rest of the nation – I can’t imagine your situation and I could not judge what it’s like to be in your shoes. My narc father cheated on my mother – serial for years until he married the final affair partner – he’s 90 now and I’ve seen him once since he left 40 years ago. Ya know what he asked me? Whether or not my sister and 2 brothers (who also have no contact) how well off they were financially – whether or not they had done well in the $$$ dept. This as he jets to the south of France every summer while my mom couldn’t afford a car and needed her parents to help support her. So not a nice guy.

              My ex, to whom I was married for 36 years gaslighted, blamed shifted and lied along with his married affair partner (she was married for 30 yrs) to every member of the family that they were “just buds”. My ex told me I could live on the streets for all he cared once I discovered them together. I needed 3 motions to compel and a motion for sanctions before he’d come as clean as a dust storm about his business which he recently sold for ka-billions. Not a stand – up guy. Not honest. Not trustworthy.

              Hence my question – do we want our children to associate with unsavory, untrustworthy, disordered characters simply because of a genetic connection? Do we want them around Sandusky types, parasitic priests, tax cheats or creeps of any kind? Not nice people are not nice people. The bumper sticker says in 3 little words, “Mean People Suck”. And, they do. For their whole entire miserable lives. Betrayal bologna is shit sandwich enough for me. I refuse to take another bite.

              • Nain- I completely agree with everything you say here. You sound like a wise person with strong boundaries and you want to teach your kids the value of strong boundaries. I love your questioning of conventional wisdom or political correctness or whatever it is that pushes unsafe relationships on children just because of a “genetic connection.” I applaud your boldness.

          • THIS is why I don’t believe in them having a relationship with the fuckwit spouse, if the child chooses not to. Fuck the visitation laws – they don’t account for fuckwittery on the part of the cheater.
            Far too much potential to be poisoned by disordered shit. And believe me, the disordered will try to do precisely that – they weren’t honest in the beginning and they certainly won’t be honest now.
            To be frank, its like a form of ‘reverse image management’ to tell the truth – it kinda shields your children from the baseless lies and other crap that the disordered one will spew.

          • I never comment but I’ve been reading Chump Lady since 2013. Nain, your comment spoke to me. “Hey, it’s your parent so never mind in this case, anything they want to do is fine I guess.”

            People promote this narrative a lot around the world and in my culture. My parents physically hit me and my siblings from a young age and some of us like myself even when we were older. Mind you I’m 22. Actually hitting is the wrong word to use it was assault. The kind of assault that if someone else inflicted on me they would surely end up in jail and my parents would make sure they did but because they are my parents they somehow felt that it was okay to do it. They called it ‘discipline’. They did a host of other fucked up shit to me but if I start typing it out I will be here for quite some time.

            The ‘they’re your parents so everything goes’ narrative also makes its difficult when you are trying to explain to someone how you’ve been treated and they tell you “well they’re your parents they love you and provide for you” so whatever basically. My parents wouldn’t even let us go out of the house when we were growing up to visit friends and they still wouldn’t if I was living with them right now. They controlled every single detail of my life from how I dress to what I was allowed to think. There was no disagreeing with them ever. I kept wishing for the day I would grow up and be able to get away from them and I got my chance when I left the country to study. After I finished school I’d had enough and I told them I wasn’t coming back. Can you believe they tried to kidnap me? Took my passport and held me against my willand they were going to try to take me out of the country. The foolish ‘they’re your parents’ narrative kept me from calling the cops on their ass even though what they were doing was wrong. They never expected me to do anything – just go along with it like I always did but I sure did surprise them! I snapped out of it and got the cops involved and my freedom. They cut me off financially because I refused to go home – mind you they were paying my rent and giving me money and they were aware I had no money and no family in this country (couldn’t work at the time due to immigation laws but now I can thank goodness). So basically it was starve AND be homeless or come home. The level these people will sink to is truly unimaginable. Luckily I had saved a bit of money and my boyfriend supported me quite a lot and some friends helped out as well and supported my decision.

            I read a lot – my mother always hated that about me – she said I read books that were advanced for my age and now I think that is a good thing because I started reading about controlling parents when I was about 15 and I realised something was wrong with them and I wasn’t crazy! Then later on I started reading about narcissistic parents and it all came together. Reading the stories of other people and realizing I wasn’t crazy was quite a relief. I also went into therapy and my therapist telling me repeatedly their behavior was not okay was great considering most of my friends were from my culture and tried to tell me I should just eat the shit sandwich until I get married. Fuck that! Unfortunately my other siblings have swallowed the ‘they’re your parents they can do whatever’ bullshit and they don’t speak to me now and actually think I am wrong for refusing to take the rubbish anymore. At first I was sad about that because we were very close but now oh well they can kiss my ass too.

            That’s why I love Chump Lady even though I have not been cheated on because its not just about cheating, its about refusing to take bullshit, refusing to be treated like crap by ANYONE even family, learning to spot when someone is trying to manipulate you and watching actions not words! The advice on this blog is not just for people that have been cheated on and it can be applied to ALL types of relationships. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve read some of the comments people’s spouses have made to them and felt ‘Wait a minute! My parents have said something very similar to me!’ CL has taught me its okay to have standards and boundaries and I don’t have to feel ashamed or feel like I’m too unforgiving. I feel lucky to have found this blog because it has improved my bullshit translator/spotter and I recognize very quickly when someone is full of shit and it has also made me not ashamed to cut certain people off.

            Love Chump Nation!

            • Oh and after reading this blog for some time now if I ever get cheated on that’s it for me. Sadly, because of how almost everyone thinks ‘everyone cheats’ and you should just forgive I wasn’t so sure and I was made to feel like I’m being “young and naive” when I would say cheating is wrong and I won’t have it. But now because of you guys I know there is no point staying and I am not being unreasonable!

            • Free Chumpy Kid: You are awesome! What a tough road you have come down, and yet your inner strength comes through. So proud to count you among us!!

    • MB, the problem for children is not the divorce, it is the dysfunction. It is very hard (albeit not impossible) for kids to build a strong family of their own if they grow up amid dysfunction. But it is the alcoholism or the drug abuse or the violence or the gambling or the cheating (or the full set) that makes the child’s experience hard. The divorce is just an outcome of the dysfunction.

      As the sane parent, you will have to model resilience, creativity, humor, compassion, and all those other things that help kids grow up healthy. And everything you do to this end is to your credit. Teaching your kids to accept lying, duck and cover when someone rages, make your needs small and smother your wants—all those are horrible lessons that come out of parenting in a dysfunctional environment–now that would be a poor way to parent (and I’m deeply regretting the years I used those strategies).

      Blaming a child’s experiences on divorce is like blaming the car accident on the tow-truck that takes the vehicles off the scene.

      • I also think that when kids see one parent just passively accept the abuse from the other parent, then the child internalizes that and maybe reproduces it in his/her own future relationships: “Well, my dad put up with my mom’s constant drinking and drunken rages, so if my spouse does that, I should do that too.” I’m simplifying the situation, and I certainly know people who saw their parents behave atrociously and vowed never to be that way in their own marriages/relationships with their kids, but I’m sure that staying and passive acceptance is hugely influential. So, if you say you’re not putting up with the cheating/drug abuse/gambling/whatever abusive behavior, and you leave, your kids are seeing you model strength and a healthy attitude.

        I have a close friend who left her alcoholic husband after supporting him through several stints at rehab; her kids were in elementary school at the time. She was terrified at the idea of leaving him, thinking she’d harm her kids, but she now knows that leaving him was the best thing for her to do not only for herself but for her children. She got them away from a dangerous environment, and they grew up in a healthy, single parent home with her where she became their primary role model, and she did a fantastic job!

    • “Will my child ever be able to trust another person if I tell him that his father is a disordered fuck?”

      well….you child might not be able to trust anyone if you say it like THAT!!!!! hahaha but seriously. i think if you teach your child honest, integrity and accountability he/she will be fine. although i am spending a little more time with all of my children telling them to watch actions vs words, and not to believe everything someone says. i tell my kids to watch how the person acts with other people, other family members or when they think nobody is watching. because that will tell them more about a person then what they might be seeing. i also tell them that they can not control what another person thinks or acts.

      nobody ever told me sh*t like that and my family was great. my aunts/uncles and cousins were all pretty decent so i grow up thinking that everyone was honest and could not do bad things to people they say they were in love with. i grew up thinking that everyone had respect for each other (i dont mean the people that i decided NOT to be friends with, i knew there were bad people out there and i thought i kept away from those people) It NEVER dawned on me that the one person who said he loved me, who MARRIED me would be the person who imploded my life and scorched the earth to get away from me.

    • MB–chiming in to agree with GIO here. It is MUCH more damaging for children to stay in a destructive, toxic, and/or conflict-ridden home than to be in a divorced family where more of their time is spent with the sane parent. (Not just personal experience, I’ve taught parenting & family for 20 years & the research shows it is the conflict that is problematic, not divorce per se).

  • A NPD parent teaches their children to be chumps in alot of ways, because narcissists must be pleased and must be the sun around which their childrens’ lives revolve. It required a great deal of introspection on my part to understand that my mom basically groomed me to be a chump. Pleasing others was all I knew. My mon has dementia now and I am providing her care, so I can’t fully step away, but I do everything in my power to keep her way of thinking from invading my daily life.

    Now that a new baby is coming, LW will need to keep her boundaries strong. My mom loved her children and grandchildren unequally, which was very hurtful, as she proudly flaunted her favoritism. LW is going to be suprised how the “ghosts in the nursery” return and she should be prepared to protect her child (and herself) from mom’s behavior.

    • “It required a great deal of introspection on my part to understand that my mom basically groomed me to be a chump. Pleasing others was all I knew. My mom has dementia now and I am providing her care, so I can’t fully step away, but I do everything in my power to keep her way of thinking from invading my daily life.”

      ^^^^^^ THIS. I am living it too, Violet. My mother is in her mid-90s and has been dying since age 40. She plays on her dementia too. I know that sounds cruel, but, the dementia will kick in when she doesn’t take her pills (when she does – she’s fine). She’s been skipping them more frequently, and its not because she doesn’t forget to take them – *it’s willful*. Because I am getting more independent, she is doing this on purpose. I’m sorry but it’s true; I’ve watched it happen.

      My son and I live with her and I do the best I can. But there are days I will turn on my heels and walk away from her because she is such a bitch. My parting shot is – go take your damn pills. My teenager can barely stand to even be near her and we live in the same house. He’s maybe seen her 6 times in the last 8 months.

      Not only was I groomed to please everyone else – I was groomed to be DEPENDENT. For instance, if I did poorly on a homework assignment, or didn’t understand the content – my mother would take over my homework and do it. All the while telling me how *she* skipped two grades, so what is wrong with (me)? How awful is that!

      Our FOO could have been a poster for Co-Dependency. Of course that left me ripe for my Narc husband.

      Now at age 50ish I am having to do a life over-haul at warp speed. Damn it feels good to come out of the shell though and finally start standing up for one’s self and DOING shit for one’s self!!!

    • CL, have you thought about compiling a sort of “hall of fame” comments from CN members like Chump Son? Chris used to have some great insights too. We could nominate them — I know a lot of people cut and paste comments into their journals, etc. for later reference. Could be sorted by topic…. Just a thought.

        • As for compiling comments, I’ll have to pass on that project for now. I’ve got my hands full with this blog and the new book and 40 new cartoons… but perhaps chumps could do that in the forums? Share your comment journals/best of’s?

          • CL, We could do what you suggest but there is no search function and no way to sticky anything, so not worth it, will disappear into the forum hole of no return.

            • I usually find David/Chump Son under the parenting articles, and I miss him so…..

              But lots of other voices speaking the same truths.

  • Ashley, first, thank your husband for telling you. Married people need to be able to tell each other hard truths. Transparency is crucial! And it’s doubly crucial for someone who’s had to tiptoe around her mother’s narcissism!

    Second, let your father know that you finally found out. This is also important. It’s been buried in the closet for years. Let’s air it out! Good family dynamics involve transparency. Your father may be unhappy that your husband told you, but you need to reassure your father that knowledge is a Good Thing. You’re no longer a small child who needs to be protected. Also, he’d never have told your husband if he didn’t want it to get back to you. Married people don’t keep secrets from each other. 🙂

    When you tell your father, just stick with the facts of what you know, and refrain from putting value judgments on the fact that the information was withheld for so many years.

    Third, CL mentions therapy. If you’re not in therapy, it would be a good idea to explore it. Your family dynamics don’t sound really good, so the model you may have internalized may not always be helpful. You will need to set a lot of boundaries with your mother so she doesn’t drive you crazy.

    Best of luck!

    • Kb, I think dad may well have told his SIL so he would tell Ashley. His way of telling her now she is about to become a mother herself? Now that she’s a “grownup”. Some parents struggle to see their children as adults until they start to breed, lol.

  • Ashley, I told my adult children the truth before their Dad could get to them and spin it. Maybe your father is carrying around a heavy burden and that’s why he shared with your husband. He might have been hoping your husband would tell you, which he did. I agree, reach out to your Dad and let him tell you his truth. Good luck and blessings to your new baby.

  • Oh that one appeared. Sorry.

    Dear Ashley:

    I am terribly sorry to hear you were married to a narcissist. That is most likely why your parents could not move past her infidelity and stay together. It would have been better for you had he kept the family together

    My husband cheated on me 10 years ago. It is now a much better marriage after addressing issues left uncomunnicated about. He was not a narcissist, but we were having problems. I was full of myself with a new job, and somewhat emotionally abusive to him and emasculating because I was earning a little more than he. I also started to let myself go. We met at a health club and health and fitness was a shared interest, but I got fatter because I worked at a demanding job. I also let myself go. I was started to let myself look slovenly at home on the weekends.

    He tried to get me to go to the fitness center with him, but I did not want to go. I did not even want to go out because then I might have to get dressed up and I was too angry at him for not earning as much as I that I resented him too much too get dressed to go out. He went alone, to the gym, and met an affair partner there. She treated him well and shared his interests.

    He now realizes we should have sought counseling, and well….so do I. Marriages don’t fail in a vacuum. Unless of course one is married to a narcissist. My husband was a good man who did something wrong, but he has correct his bad behaviors. Me too.

    Hmmm. My posts are not appearing. I had to post this again and again

    • Lee, your post makes no sense. She is not married to a narcissist, her mother is one. It was NOT just her father’s responsibility to keep the family together after her mom cheated.

      Besides no matter how shitty your behavior your husband had a CHOICE. He could have left you before cheating. It’s not a mistake. It’s crappy behavior. Affairs don’t occur in vacuum you say… True – they occur because whoever cheats has vacuum instead of character. Pls post responsibly.

      • I agree. Lee is posting that there was reconciliation and that LEE is taking some of the blame for him teaching. WRONG. Even if the marriage needs work, it’s no excuse to cheat. LEAVE. or Go to counseling. Cheat? no way.

      • Lee, your post does not ring altogether true. If you really are one of the lucky few for whom an AP invading your marriage turns out to be an angel in disguise then I am not sure why you are posting here.
        Sounds like it was all down to you that a good man found a good woman who treated him well and even shared his interests – yet you won the pick me dance despite earning more and gaining a little weight.
        Better keep on your toes then – good luck.

    • Lee,

      Props to you for owning your shit. Nice to meet a unicorn (I believe in them more than many on this board.)


      What Mind Logic said: no one – NO ONE – can MAKE their partner cheat. you H cheating “because [you] let yourself go” is like someone robbing a bank because the bank owners have stopped painting the exterior.

      I am sorry you’ve bought into the RIC bullshit.

    • Lee, you appear to have made peace with why your husband cheated. Most of the people writing here have cheaters who cheated for many years or with multiple partners and express either faux remorse or no remorse. Many were discarded by spouses or went to marriage counseling that the cheater used to keep the affair(s)–not the marriage–alive. Marriages do not fail in a vacuum; cheating provides one very clear context for explaining why many marriages fail. That is what brings survivors of betrayal to this board. (A vacuum would be “two people wake up and suddenly are no longer interested in being married” for no reason either apparent or real.

      But Ashley’s letter is about finding out that a parent lied by omission, cheated on the other parent, and then proceeded to badmouth the spouse she cheated on. Nothing to do with marriages failing.

    • Sorry, I’m pegging Lee as a troll. There is NO way that someone who was cheated on wrote that letter (unless it was under hypnosis). The whole language is filled with cheater-speak, projecting faults onto the chump. There are 14 “I”s in a short post, no evidence of the real pain that chumps feel–just total acceptance of faults (such as the cheater might accuse the chump of having).

      Perhaps Lee’s posts didn’t post after multiple attempts because he/she is posting from a proxy server?

      • Lee is a troll, a lousy one I grant you, but a troll nonetheless. If I’m wrong, I feel incredibly sorry for Lee buying into the idea that spouse cheated cos Lee sucked.

    • Lee, it is very typical for a spouse to resent it when you make more money and rather than work on the marital problems to cheat and blame shift. X met a few women sat the gym but also used the ‘gym’ as his excuse to meet up with other women. As far as letting yourself go that changed for me when I realized I had been in an abusive relationship. As soon as I recognized he WAS a narcissist and could never change I divorced him. Hopefully it works out for your marriage but keep in mind once a cheat always a cheat. The level of deception is natural for cheaters. They recycle AP,s and go so far underground with multiple phone numbers, quickie hookups while your working, and ‘going on service calls’. I got tired of him having multiple sex partners and having unprotected sex. The deal breaker for me was when he had HIV testing last year and his phone records and credit cards showed multiple hotel hookups and I had to confront three women he was dating. I have since been contacted by two of his previous victims that he recently called them. They dated and had enough self esteem to dump him when they realized he was a player. I tried to warn his latest victim but evidently she has bought into his lies. Be safe and ask yourself if it is worth it to stay with someone who was able to lie and cheat and blame YOU for their behavior. They don’t change. Life is better without a cheater. Divorcing him was the best thing I ever did. Having an authentic life is better than the fear you might have of being alone. There ARE better people out there that are honest. Work on yourself not him. It will consume too much time.

    • Lee, for your own protection I want you to be assured the other women they date and hookup with are always available. You can’t be with him all the time, now can you. It is so sad to be in a commited relationship with someone you cannot trust. I was fortunate enough to finally SEE him for what he was last year. What type of a person passes on a STD to his wife and moves in with someone else and gets tested and treated without letting HER know? X bragged about how naive the woman he picked was and said she was basically just what he needed. She talks dirty to him and he needed a place to live while he saved money. He laughed about how easy it was to hook her in. Please beware how cunning a narcissist can be and know they are always looking. Use contraception!!!! See a therapist!!!

  • This is a subject I struggled with when I divorced my son’s father. My boys were 8 and 11 at the time, It was no surprise to them, in fact they guessed what their Dad and I wanted to talk about when we decided it was time to tell them. Even though they were fairly young children, they knew much more than I thought they did. All they really asked about at the time was “where will i live,” and “where will I go to school,” and “will we be able to do family things”. They were interested in having both parents stay involved in their lives, the whys of the divorce were irrelevant at the time, and they were wise beyond their years to know that the divorce was inevitable. We did not function well as a married couple, I had always been the primary caregiver, their dad had always traveled with his work, things were not going to be so different for them, except dad wasn’t staying in our house anymore.

    As they grew older, I answered questions as they came up. Dad, of course, did not want the truth to be told. I refused to lie to them. Again, surprisingly, they knew much more than I thought they did. They saw a succession of “new girlfriends”, and even made jokes about whether or not their dad would have a new one on the weekends they saw him. They told their dad they preferred NOT to spend THEIR time with his girlfriend du jour, but their dad basically told them “tough” it was his life, and he needed to spend time with the girlfriend(s) as well as them. Some of the GF’s tried to play substitute mommy (Dad loved that, no cooking, or washing, or getting the boys to bed — but the boys hated it and would complain to both Dad and me) or the GF resented my boys cutting into HER time and attention with Dad. My boys had quite an education about the stupid and demeaning things women will do to try and hold a man’s attention. Needless to say, Dad wasn’t interested in GF’s for their mental acumen. My boys found some of the GF’s to be so stupid that they requested earbuds for their electronic devices so they could tune both the GF and their Dad out.

    The boys were smart enough to figure out that Dad’s behavior wasn’t new, or the result of our divorce. They also figured out his behavior in general, and especially the GF situation was the cause of the divorce. No matter what though, even if he was being a Big Jerk to them, they still loved their dad and wanted to believe in him. They got more discriminating as they grew older. I knew they loved me, but in many ways I was just good ole dependable Mom, who always had food for meals and always did their laundry and got them to school and extra curricular stuff on time. I think I was loved like a family retainer — kind of like Mammy in Gone with the Wind, and they didn’t really ever question that their love for me should be any different until they were almost grown, and I started ASKING for more than mere polite gratitude. I think they were surprised when I pointed out to them that I had emotional needs, too. I told them they could always count on me to love them, but that I would not be taken for granted or let myself be abused. Some good life lessons resulted from these situations.

    I never supplied detail to the boys, and I think they saw through any of their Dad’s blameshifting BS when they would ask him a question. They surely did have two different versions of the reality of our marriage, and they had to fill in the blanks with their own experiences and intelligence. It is not an easy situation, but it was the best I could do at the time, and I think my boys are content with the way things turned out.

    The only caution I would offer to Ashley would be to consider her questions carefully, and to understand that she probably will get different answers. She has to decide what she feels she needs to know, and how that will change her life and her way of thinking. Some things between a couple should be private in my opinion, and she needs to think about whether or not she would want to answer any of the questions she has if her child asked HER about the same type of situation in her own marriage. Parents owe their children some information, but not all the details of their relationship with each other. I also suggest she study about personality disorders before she asks her mother anything. Asking a disordered person to tell the truth is like asking for the sky to suddenly be green and the grass to suddenly be blue. The truth is not “normal” for the disordered.

    • Really great post, and I share your theories on child-rearing wholeheartedly. I could have talked my son’s father into the ground, and warned him about what a loser he was….but that would have hurt my son more than the asshole. He had a pretty good idea what his Dad was all about when he was 10, and now that he’s grown he can put adult labels on him. He shares my opinion of him, but unlike me loves him anyway.

  • Amber
    Could it be that he told your husband knowing he would tell you and that would open up the conversation between you and him? I admire him holding his tongue all those years. I think he was showing you respect by not telling on your mom so that you and she could have a somewhat normal relationship. But I think also there was an embarrassment/humiliation component to his silence as well. I feel for him.

    I have a narc MIL and CL has given you wise advice. They ONLY kind of relationship you can have with her is superficial and with strong boundaries. Also I have found it’s not wise to tell them those boundaries because then they are bound and determined to cross them. Keep them in your head and once she crosses you walk away with out a word. You cannot show them your hand. Silence is your best friend in dealing with a narc.

    Good luck on the birth of your child. And I say go ahead and approach the subject with your Dad compassionately.

  • I’m glad I told my kids the truth. I know, at the beginning, I said to much (Particularly when the anger hit hard) and most likely editorialised a bit but in the end it’s better they know that the marriage broke up due to their dad’s cheating (they figured out that this was a serial cheating situation – I never said a word) rather than the story he was trying to sell, which was, ‘The marriage was crumbling, we should have divorced 2, 3, 5, 10 years ago. Nice way to steal all those happy family memories from the kids, idiot!

    • I told my kids (23 and 25) what I knew. I don’t believe in hiding the truth. My youngest child was very attached to my husband and got upset with me. He said “dad never says anything bad about you.” What little I can tell is that my ex told our youngest that we were just very different people who wanted different things. That is true to a point, but he left out the part where he was having an affair.

      Anyway, I did find evidence of the affair with his married coworker in my ex’s own writing. I showed it to both my boys and told them it cleared up a lot of questions I had. It also gave me closure. After that I stopped saying anything else about him. I’ve tried very hard to focus on my own relationship with the kids and to be there for them as much as possible. My youngest is still close with his dad, but that’s no longer my concern.

      Ashley, I’m so sorry you found out so long after the fact. I know it makes you question what was real and what was not. As for your father, there’s so much conflicting information about how to handle telling kids. I think it could really bring some clarity for you to hear his side of the story. If I were you, I’d definitely go to an individual counselor to help work through your understandable anger. Just remember to take care of yourself and do what’s best for you and your baby.

    • Nord, I agree that kids lose the pleasant emotions associated with family memories because they aren’t sure whether they’re real or not. For me that was the hardest thing…to lose the emotional attachment I had to cherished memories. My oldest son’s wife told me he was struggling with the same thing in regards to his memories. That’s the cruelest part of betrayal IMO.

      • I agree . My kids and I were pretty much blindsided (although I learned later he was having an affair the last few years of our marriage which is why our relationship was struggling) and it has changed the way we look at life and the people we surround ourselves with.

  • I feel for your dad. As a parent, it’s tough to look into the eyes of that innocent little child and tell them that their other parent’s selfish choices blew up their world. When Dday hit, my kids were 4 and 6 and even now almost 4 years later, I cannot bring myself to tell them. I have spent so much time getting my kids to stop crying that their father is not living with us anymore and we are divorcing that it’s thought to put that final nail in the coffin. I did promise my children that I would tell them when they are older, so I have no intentions in keeping them in the dark forever. I am now actually planning to just wait until the divorce is final to finally tell them the news. Just in case he plans on introducing his ow as a new thing to the kids. I wish I had the guts to tell them before, but better late than never.

    There are so many places giving advice saying not to tell them, but it is true, it is their story too. I want to teach my kids that by kicking their father to the curb, I respect myself. I am showing my son how to treat a woman,and I am teaching my daughter that she doesn’t have to put up with crap either. Be gentle with your father, it’s tough on the telling end.

    • they are old enough now and probably know more then you think they do. you should tell them what you know before it comes from another source.

    • Please tell them now. Kids are smarter than you give credit for – if you beat around the bush now, they will resent you for not being told the truth and may look for other sources (read: fuckwit spouse) and be poisoned by that shit.
      Even a child who is 2-3 years old can be told, in an age-appropriate way.
      Lots of places give advice not to tell, because they buy into other nonsense like RIC. Your children deserve the truth and nothing less.

  • Lee,

    How does this post contribute to helping Ashley?

    It doesn’t. So you got fat and out-earned your loser husband. Seriously? Glad you “saved” that marriage. Whew, close call there.

    Ashley wants advice on how to deal with a cheating parent, not on how you strapped on runners, a head band and worked out to save your cheater from fucking another woman. Sorry if that’s harsh but your story is as old as time itself and IMO adds nothing of value to this converstaion.

    • 100% agree.
      One would wonder who the narcissist in that relationship was, eh thensome? One who spends a good lot of their time on ‘fitness endeavours’ or parades around the words of “I dont want to get fat!!!!!” – when they aren’t an elite athlete, reeks of narcissism.
      Theres nothing wrong with wanting to be healthy for yourself and for the people you care about – throwing yourself into that sort of tripe? Red flag.

  • In the immediate weeks after discovering my ex-wife’s affair, we kept it a secret from our teenagers. In my delusional thinking, we were working on our marriage and dutifully followed my cheater’s plea to keep it all a secret. At the time, one of my daughters was just completing cancer treatment, so on top of all the hellish stuff, I really felt the need to walk on eggshells around the kids. (my daughter is healthy and thriving today, she is a graceful survivor and medical science kicks ass)

    During this time, my teenage daughters learned about it in an interesting way. My ex had printed out an email I sent her outlining my reasons why we could no longer share the house together, contrary to her cake-eating attitude. It was a bullet-pointed tome that methodically reviewed all that happened (from my point of view). She was going to carry it along on one of our outside secret walks/heated discussions as reference. She mistakenly dropped this detailed tell-all on the floor and one of my daughters found it.

    It was thoroughly heartbreaking to find my daughter (the one not receiving treatment) in tears later that day. The email I wrote was remarkably level headed considering how absolutely devastated and destroyed I was then. I have no idea how my ex would have spun it or tried to delay the truth telling, but the truth got out. I was enough of an uber-chump at the time I could very well have eaten the truth for quite awhile.

    Telling my daughter that just had completed months of chemo the truth was one of the worst experiences of my life. I did not want her sister to have to keep the secret.

    • “Mistakenly” dropped it, right? Once again, her trying to control the narrative.
      What a piece of shit your ex-wife is.

      • Champion, every time i think I’ve heard it all I am reminded by a chump of just how self absorbed and painfully selfish cheaters in out lives can be. It hurts my heart to think about a child having to deal with this when she was going through treatment. You are mighty.

  • Ashley, it’s very tough to have a narcissistic mother. I know, because I have one. As you get older, you will likely come to understand that much of what your mother said and did does not connect to objective reality. You can greatly benefit from reading the research on narcissistic parents and learning how to interact with her in ways that do not harm you. Dr. Simon’s website has great material on narcissism and abuse. And it’s free!

    One way to approach your dad is to just ask him: What happened to you? If you ended up in Mom’s custody, think how much he lost–home, marriage, wife, and day-to-day life with children. While I understand and admire his silence in the face of this life tragedy, no doubt he has wondered if you will ever “get it” about your mother. Or perhaps he is like many here, who both still love the cheating spouse and feel betrayed and abandoned. If you read here much, you will see many, many parents who wonder if their kids will get it that that “sparkly” parent lied and cheated and shifted the blame to the betrayed partner. My guess is that your dad will feel awkward in talking about this but that he will be thrilled to know that you know the truth and feel close to him. And it may help you to hear him explain why he didn’t say anything while the guilty party (your mother) trash talked him. No doubt his greatest fear was that you would believe her and he would lose you entirely.

    Narcissistic parents are black holes of suckitude. Work out your feelings but don’t let your mother hijack your emotions or your life. I got some semblance of normalcy but just taking a year off from dealing with my mother. She understood that if she tried to manipulate me, I would just stay away. It worked for me, to some degree.

  • Perhaps your father was told during the divorce process not to tell you. I was specifically told by my lawyers during this process last summer not to tell the children about the affair and that judges in my county in FL frown heavily on ‘biasing’ the children against one parent or another. There is an entire page of language in my marriage dissolution/parenting agreement that is dedicated to this, in a round about way. One sample: “Each party shall avoid blaming the other parent, as blame is destructive to children’s security and self-concepts when they are compelled to “take sides” after a divorce.” While the blame IS his, apparently sharing this truth with our children is considered destructive to their psyches. Now-ex was pro se (of course!), so there was no influence of a lawyer on his side. It might be something your father was advised or perhaps he didn’t want to bias you against your mother himself.

    I can only imagine the heavy burden this has been for your father. It’s hard being the chump and trying to take the high road while dealing with a narcissist. My eldest is about to be 17 and I hope to tell them both the truth when they are adults. I think it’s important that they understand boundaries and that you can walk away. I say ‘hope’ because it’s daunting to think about – breaking this news to them eventually. In any case, I’m very sorry you are confused. I would welcome my children asking me about this were they in your situation, if that helps. Your father might have been trying to protect your relationship with a mother figure – I don’t know. It seems like a conversation very worth having with him and I suspect you will both feel better for it.

    Best of luck.

    • I’ve also heard of parenting classes required by the state that specifically tell each parent not to say anything bad about the other parent. It doesn’t seem quite right to me to withhold the truth from kids, though. If you’re just stating the facts without editorial comments it seems like it would be better for the kids to know. That way they won’t feel shocked if they find out the truth later on.

      • I did, in fact, take a four hour online parenting class that was also required by the State of FL before they would grant the dissolution of marriage. It detailed not making one parent or the other the “bad guy” in the divorce and not to use the children to communicate through, etc. It was insightful overall, but very clear about not telling on the other parent, for lack of a better phrase. I often am frustrated trying to negotiate the state’s take on this. On the one hand, my kids deserve the truth so they know it’s not acceptable in a relationship and that they could move on with life if this happened to them. On the other, it might make them feel like they have to take sides or that one parent is better than the other (which, insofar as character, is true). Some things I’ve read suggests that it stresses them out when they are already stressed about the divorce, as it makes them wonder if they have some of this “bad” in them, like their cheating/lying parent. I try to just be the sane parent and be a good example and let that be their guide, I guess.

        • Great post…I haven’t told my kids who are 9 and 6…partly because of the class and the language in the order, but also because I want them to have a good relationship with the ExW as we have 50/50…but I also know that they will eventually find out…They always do as this letter demonstrates. I guess if they ask I won’t lie, but if they don’t ask and find out, will they resent me?… This truly is one great big shit sandwich!

          • Right there with you Cletus. My divorce is now final so that stress of obeying the parenting class and separation agreement language is past for me. But it sounds like we share the same exact situation. 50/50, live very close, don’t want to stress their relationship with their mother with pesky things like the truth. Like you I also worry they may resent me for not telling them the truth sooner. However, I didn’t see anything in Ashley’s post where she seems to resent her father for not telling her. Here’s hoping.

        • we also had to take a parenting course for our divorce even thou i was going for full custody and zero visitations (and i got that) but he had to take the 8 hour workshop too. it specifically stated many times in that workshop NOT to introduce your new fling to your children. NOT to subject your children to the new girl/boy friend too early, make sure it is a relationship you know is going to last, over and over. in video, on paper and from the instructor (must be a problem huh)

          anyhow, exhole had zero problems introduces his hood rat and subjecting them to her crazy right away. even when i begged him to give the kids some time. nope, he just went behind my back and she was there anyways. so much for parenting class. he also bad mouths me, let his hood rat bad mouths me, tries to blame it all on me,makes promises and doesnt keep them, uses the kids as messengers because he doesnt have the ball to talk to me, lies to them, lets HER lie to them, make himself look good by making me look bad…..basically everything the workshop told us NOT to do…

          • MrsVain, I am hoping for your children’s sake they don’t have to be in their presence anymore. That was my impression. X introduced his abusive thing to my granddaughter and she was well aware of the situation. It pains me to imagine how anyone would knowingly subject children to such abuse. For them it’s just another day in the life of the disordered. She now anticipates otherwise happy events in her life with dread knowing she has to be in their company.

        • Vicki–I heartily disagree with not telling the kids the truth. Kids often think that they are the cause of their parents’ divorce; better to (a) have a real reason rather than accept the guilt; (b) know the truth so that they have some sense that at least one parent is grounded & trustworthy.

          You don’t have to piss all over the cheater parent, but kids will put 2 and 2 together, and then wonder who they can trust.

          Those vapid parenting classes, with recommendations not based on research or based on outdated ideas are infuriating.

          • Amen to this! As to saying crap about the other parent this truly does not make sense either. It’s the TRUTH. I have framed his HIV test to prove it. Why not SPEAK and LIVE the truth. I do not want my kids around anyone this dysfunctional, my pretending to ignore this evil will not teach them anything! Why spackle, right?!? My ex went scorched earth on us. Stopped paying the mortgage HE COULD EASILY AFFORD you know the place I LIVED while the kids and I scrambled to handle expenses! Stopped paying the college expenses. Stopped paying period. We are living way below our means. And scrambling every month. Why not spell out exactly why we are living as we do. And what better lesson to learn to recognize crap when you see it and to work hard to overcome everything you have LOST. Lost your home and everything you worked for!?!? Yes, and at fifty I am starting over! “Be friends with your ex for the kids’ sake?!?!” What the.FUCK.ever! You know I may have chosen this fucktard to marry but I did not choose to waste twenty years of MY LIFE on a loser whose secret life and affair blew mine up. I will not be wasting a minute more of my time on fuckhead.

            • Yes! The truth should be told. Framing the HIV tests is an amazing idea! At first I was tempted to send copies to the other women he was cheating with and changed my mind. It’s disgusting that they think nothing of multiple sex partners and take no responsibility for their actions. That is inexcusable!

              • Ugh, why are all these Whores so disease ridden?? Guess it’s just part of the Ho territory.

      • This is required in CA. I had to go down to the courthouse and attend a several hour parenting class on basic stuff that seemed like commonsense. A lot of it was that you should never say anything bad about the other parent. My ex, not surprisingly, didn’t even bother to show up.

      • This would be all well and good if you have two parents who are NOT fucked in the head. The chances of a disordered spouse not following this is nearly 100%. Its designed to screw over people who are honest – because you know that dishonest people don’t give a fuck for the rules and will do what they please. Same with their idea of ‘truth’ – its a lie.

  • I never had to decide whether or not I was going to let my daughters know the details of their cheating father’s last affair, because youngest daughter’s closest friend outed him.

    On Easter Sunday, she got the phone call. “Why is your father rollerblading around the lake kissing that woman? Where is your mother???” Ummmmm, mom is sitting right next to daughter when the phone call came in.

    Dumped the $$$ crown roast of pork, uncooked, that was to be our Easter dinner in the trash, and took us out for Chinese dinner. Daughter texted Big Chief Dumb Fuck the facts, and he high-tailed it home, but we were already gone. I told him in no uncertain terms that he was done living in the house as of that moment.

    There was a lot more crap that came out in the days until he moved out, but it was actually easier, though brutally heartbreaking for daughter, that the discovery came through a third party.

    • That’s one of the greatest reasons to tell kids, age appropriately, because other people know the truth. You rock, though, dumping the roast and going for Chinese as prelude to kicking his butt out.

    • I also never had to worry about telling my son. The MOW banged on our door at 1:15 in the morning. The jig was up. I was horrified. I couldn’t believe the audacity and brazenness of that whore. The cheater couldn’t figure out why son was mad at him…and still is obviously. He hasn’t communicated with his father since he left. It’s their relationship and has nothing to do with me. Son has set clear boundaries and isn’t budging.

  • The kids are now 3 and 5. Their mom left a little over a year ago, after all but throwing her r/s in my face for the 4 months it took for her to leave the house. We have joint custody. She introduced The Homewrecker right after she moved out. Now they are getting married and he’s moving in. It caused problems for almost a year, mostly with our now 3 year old D. Even two months ago, S was asking for me to be there, and trying to get us back together. It goaded me to see the other man pick up and hug and kiss my son a few weeks ago. yes, we’ve met. He’s going to be their new step dad. I say a few words when he greets me, but otherwise stay clear. My Ex will never have kids because she fixed herself after the youngest (I thought at the time…. “is she thinking of leaving? A way to have child-free unprotected sex?” I wish I’d pursued it more, because it was weird that she was adamant about her getting fixed and not me).

    Anyway, S5 asked me weeks back, “this is mommy’s house.” I said no, mommy has her apartment. This is our house. He said, “Mommy moved out because the house is messy.” I asked, Did Mommy tell you that? “Yes.” I said, that wasn’t the reason. Everyone who lives in a house is responsible for keeping it clean, which is why I am always asking you and your sister to pick up your toys. Mommy moved out because Mommy and Daddy didn’t love each other any more. He said, “Mommies and Daddies belong together.” I said yes they do, but sometimes things happen.

    He seemed to accept that. So she’s continuing to lie to the kids. She’s grooming her boy toy to be a step daddy (based upon the little she’s told me, there is no way I’d accept as a new step dad the limits she’s placing on him, but I was silent…. I think she was fishing for advice. I’m not going to be a coach!).

    The kids will probably figure it out one day, and when they do, I’m not going to lie to them. I’ll tell them the truth, age appropriately. I was sick of lying to them for months “where’s Mommy?” After a while, they stopped asking. For the first few months, they didn’t even want to go with her. Of course. I wasn’t the parent who neglected them. I stay neutral and as detached as I can for now, because she is doing better with them. She still wants to be friends, but my boundaries are clear. I view it as a business arrangement, the business of raising two children in separate homes. In 15 years, I will be free.

    It’s easier to be a half time parent, spending the remaining time being a girlfriend. I can forgive the cheating, but I am still very angry that her choices resulted in me losing literally years out of my kids’ lives.

  • Ashley, I am in similar shoes to your Dad, although my ex wife was forced to publically admit her affair when she ran off to live with her Schmoopie.
    I was deeply ashamed and embarassed, particularly when it came to my adult sons finding out. My ex has told her version of escaping a wretched marriage, and my sons have called her out on it, as they watched for years as she wore me down with her narcisisstic rages
    I have just stepped back and gone on to live a happier life….I don’t want to influence the boys’ relationship with their Mom.
    Since DDay, my sons have been wonderful and supportive to me…yet I still feel that discussing their Mom is a taboo subject.
    I often wonder what their thoughts and opinions are about what happened and their views on infidelity.
    Ashley…I would envy your Dad if he were lucky enough to have you open up to him and share your feelings about the details of your parent’s relationship.
    Good luck to you….and enjoy the wonderful future and promise of an innocent new life coming in to your world!

  • Ashley, I struggle with this because I am in the place your father was in. I am very concerned with the fall out of telling my son the plain truth, my son asks questions occasionally and I tend gloss over with daddy hurt mommy very badly, that I wanted to fix things and I tried but I couldn’t fix it. My x believes telling him the truth including the timeline of events as threat and he can be scary. My son is 9 and the way things are turning out she is being slowly (re)introduced as a new development, you know, we were friends and recently reconnected, discovered we were going through the same thing and now we are in a relationship. The truth is actually that she was my (our) very good friend, of many years, and they decided to blow up 2 families because they deserve to be happy… How do I tell my son his dad and “auntie” did this thing and that I have been complicit in their lie because I hoped the damn Karma bus would make road kill of their relationship before it came to light… It’s just something I wish I could lock in a box and drop in the ocean. I know he deserves the truth but it’s so hard to say the words… I feel for your father. I’m not as strong as a lot of the people on this site but I think what I’ve been reading you should clear the air between you and your father. I don’t think your father was trying to hide anything from you, you said he probably believed you knew and has probably assumed that if you wanted to talk you would approach him. I bet your dad would be relieved to discuss it with you, to give you his version of events.

    Best of luck to you…

    • Hey Hopium, the details in my situation are a little different, but I have a 9 year old boy too, and haven’t yet told him the facts either. I don’t know about your son, but mine is struggling a lot right now and I do think the truth would help him out. I’m in the process of setting up counseling for him. And still I hold my tongue, mostly due to the resistance from stbx. I know, I know..I shouldn’t care…he made his bed, etc., etc. I haven’t yet found the strength to face the ugly drama that will come from stbx. I regret it.

      I too fear being viewed as “complicit in their lie” and I know I am going to be the one to tell them the truth, likely sooner rather than later. I know you wish this secret would disappear, but the sad truth is that family secrets don’t ever stay secret, and Ashley’s letter is Exhibit #1.

      Oh, and by the way, I bet you are a lot stronger than you give yourself credit for. Don’t discount the strength it’s taken you to get this far.

      • I think, in many situations, keeping the secret is more damaging than the secret itself. It was for my X’s family, as a long hidden secret led to years of misery for the people who carried it. So much unnecessary pain simply to keep up appearances. William Faulkner must have modeled his work on that family!

        • “I think, in many situations, keeping the secret is more damaging than the secret itself.”

          Very good point.

    • 9 year old understand right from wrong. 9 year old understand a lot more then you give them credit for.

      my youngest was 9 years old. i told him daddy got a girl friend when we were married and you are not suppose to have girlfriends when you are married. i explained loyalty, faithfulness, and what being married meant to me. i am sure exhole wanted to give the boys his own story of what happened to our marriage. in fact he even told me that he wanted to tell the boys HIS side of the story. i have no idea what he was going to tell the boys, but he said this after i told him that i told the boys he was cheating.

      you should tell your 9 year SOMETHING!!! i know my littlest one was scared. he would cry at the drop of a hat and wanted nothing more then daddy to come home. it was out of my control, so i told him that. i told him i loved daddy but daddy didnt love me. i told him that it was not his fault. i told him that i will never stop loving him, and he was stuck with me forever……oddly enough it was the last one that got his attention. he was scared that I would stop loving him just like daddy.

      dont let your kids try to figure this out in their heads by themselves. dont let them think it was something they did. dont let them hear bits and pieces and try to piece together part of the story. jsut tell them what happened to you. what you think and feel. if they ask about daddy, tell them they will have to ask daddy because you dont know what he thinks and feels.

      • Okay. Ouch. That felt like being hit by a blunt object, but I fully agree with you. This is the last major piece of my personal infidelity/divorce shit-puzzle that I’m trying to put into place.

        My 9 year old doesn’t want to talk about it at all. He said something about our family the other day and I had to remind him that dad and I aren’t married any more (well it isn’t final yet, but the minutiae doesn’t matter here) and he said “Oh yeah,” and burst into tears. I tried to open up a discussion about it and he was highly resistant. It went no where. Hence the need for a counselor to step in.

        • yes a counselor will help. and lots of love from you. tell him you are sorry for his pain and you wish you could take it away or that it wasnt happening. tell him this is NOT the way you wanted it and you did all you could do but that daddy just doesnt want to be at home and you cant make him. i talk to mine about good decisions and bad decisions, i explain how sometimes when people cant see the good things in life they make bad decisions. whenever my kids mess up, i drive home the Decision thing. did you make a good decision, bad decision. i make sure they are held accountible for whatever decision. but i make sure to let them know they made good decisions.

          keep talking to him. even if he is not talking back, he is hearing you. and keep telling him you love him. a hug sometimes goes a long way and says a thousand words. but if he crawls into himself. just tell him you know what he is feeling and you are there if he wants to talk. be truthful. and wait. maybe he is not sure how you feel and doesnt want to make you feel worse. so tell him it hurts you too and ask him what he needs you to do. i tell him that if he wants to know anything or have questions that i am ok with him asking.

          of course, i have always been that way with my kids so they are comfortable talking to me. the 13 year old even told me when he got his first hair down there. they trust me way before dad left. so it is easy now to talk to me. maybe you need to talk to a counselor to so you can find ways to strengthen your relationship with your son.

          good luck

          • Thanks. My daughter discusses her feelings with me and confides in me. It’s my son that’s not really processing this…at all. He talks about almost anything under the sun to me–including feelings about other things!–but refuses to participate in any talk having to do with the D. I think he’s in a state of denial. Confused denial. I sense that I mucked it up during the “divorce discussion” and left him in this confused state. Cue the parental guilt. Poor kid.

  • Ashley – thank you for your post. I’m a dad and less than a year from my D-day, and while Chumplady’s site helped me immensely, especially in the early times, I feel like I’m moving on and doing well. I’m in a similar situation to your dad, only rewound a decade or so. My kids are 10 and 6. I agree with what CL says about men feeling shame – it’s quite similar to the shame Chumps feel in general when the cheating occurs, and how we feel about societal reactions and judgments to it (namely, blaming and our feeling shame — including a lot of self-blame that we go through at times). I’m sure some cheaters also go through a wide range of similar emotions, including guilt. It could be that you’ve never brought up the subject of the divorce (at least in substance) with your dad, but your husband did. Like your dad, I’m refusing to talk negatively toward the mother of my kids, because quite frankly, they are able, even at early ages, to form their own opinions, and really what purpose would it serve? If we had the discussion and they told me their mom said something that I didn’t agree with, then I’m capable of offering my opinion and they can decide what to believe or not believe. Ultimately, though, I’m not sure it makes much of a difference.
    Your question asks: “How would a chump feel about being asked about the betrayal by his adult child?” The answer, for me at least is that I both dread the day that will ultimately happen to me, and also see it as an opportunity to become closer to my kids. And saying that means that number one, it is difficult to both think and talk about (especially for men, as we often have a difficult time with emotional things and opening up), but it’s also important to show vulnerability and be honest. I suspect that adult children should have the same conversation with the cheating spouse as well as the betrayed spouse. I’m sure there are many cheaters that will demonstrate remorse, sadness, and loss by what their actions have done to the Chump and the kids, while others will blame the chump, refuse to take any responsibility, or outright lie. As an adult, you can ascertain whether or not someone is truthful or dishonest. You should know that the cheating isn’t a reflection on you, your marriage, or your life. In fact, some may see it as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with your husband, if you better understood the impact of your mom’s actions on your dad, as difficult as that will be for him to talk about. If both of your parents love and care about you (and I suspect they do), they will be willing to have that honest conversation. Let me tell you though that with men, you may need to sit down in neutral territory and pry a bit to get him to open up. In my case, when that day occurs, I believe I will not only talk about the betrayal and how that made me feel, but also things that I did in the marriage and my perceptions of things that happened. I say this not to indicate that my actions were the case of the cheating, but rather to say that no one is perfect in a marriage, and to paint the larger picture. And not to say that if I would have done things differently there would have been a different result. I’ve found it difficult to talk in general about the feelings that result from being cheated on; I suspect that will be no different when talking to my own kids.

  • The other day my daughter who is 12 said to me, “Someone might cheat on me because I suck.” It was an opportunity for me to clarify with her a few things. I told her that despite how much someone “sucks” that is no reason to cheat. A person can have a conversation about their unhappiness and take steps to get out of an unhappy relationship. Yes, it’s painful but it’s worth doing because cheating on someone makes everything worse.

    At the age of 12 she got this. I didn’t go into any other details. And yes, I do “own” my part in that marriage but I also know that if someone is lying to me, gaslighting me and cheating on me, I can’t control that. I would love to have superpowers but I don’t. I am a human being, faulted but absolutely able to carry on a conversation about an important relationship. We need to do a better job of teaching children about abusive behaviours and how to end relationships in a healthy, respectable way.

  • My general opinion is that many Secrets are one step away from Lies. And I don’t mean Confidential things someone tells you about them selves or personal things you keep to yourself either. I am talking about withholding information that a person should have about a situation they are involved in and has an effect on their life. Especially something where the truth will probably come out since other people know.

    My personal situation is that my parents adopted me but for whatever reason did not tell me about it. It was exposed by a senile elderly relative in a not very nice way. To say this was traumatic is an understatement. Everyone knew about this, EXCEPT me. Family, friends, neig hbors,everyone except me. So many things that seemed a little off in my life finally made sense. I’m not sure why my parents did this, but the number of lies to cover up this secret is staggering. This involved years and decades. Also, you cause others to be liars on your behalf. If something directly affects someone and their life, please be the one to tell them. Not some random wingnut on the phone.

    • I agree 100%. People truly under-estimate how damaging secrets can be. After she was grown, my niece learned an awful truth about the circumstances of her father’s death. She had been lied to by omission her entire childhood. She remains bitter about the lies and the people who told them all these years later. Such a shame, and for what? Foolish pride.

    • Not Juliet, children know when something is off. Telling children the truth about family circumstances builds trust. My granddaughter was devastated by his actions and discard. She often said we were the only people she knew that were still married. Children often blame themselves for the abandonment. She was told the truth.

  • Ashley, you deserve the truth. You need to process the truth. I am so sorry your mother is a narc and a cheater to boot, but knowing the truth will probably help you better understand who she is. I am not saying to excuse her behavior, I am saying that the pieces will come together and maybe you can finally also understand why your mom acts the way she does. This doesn’t mean that you will have an intimate relationship with her; being vulnerable might prove detrimental to your emotional health. You come first. Always. Just because she’s your mom doesn’t automatically mean she has your respect. She needs to earn that, and it sounds like she’s not doing a good job. You can have a superficial relationship with her with very tight boundaries that you enforce.

    My adult son knows of this father’s final OW but doesn’t know about the serial cheating over the years. If he asks, I will tell him the truth. He didn’t have a lot of questions about the OW. All that mattered to him was that his father cheated, and knowing about one was enough for him to make a decision to go no contact.

    I wish you well, Ashley.

  • Hi Ashley, I can’t say how a chump would feel, only how my parents reacted to me years after they divorced (when I was 11) and I finally asked them both about it as an adult.

    Neither of my parents ever said a bad word about the other, neither one ever told me how they ended up divorced and I never really asked either. I’m wondering if you ever asked? I mean when we are young, things just are the way they are, and we deal with it.

    I think I was around 26 when I asked them and both of them told me the same thing, they still loved one another. Things didn’t work and each had their own burden in it. I’d already recognized my Mom found new husband before the divorce 3 years after it happened. My Dad had done some shit he should not have done, that left Mom alone for two years. Then Mom did shit she should not have done, first for her independence, and then for security’s sake. My parents were pretty awesome and both had some major foo (so do we all, amiright?). But years after their divorce they never had a bad word to say about each other. My Mom left me the special thing Dad gave her so many years ago. My Dad left me all the beautiful poetry he wrote to my Mom, along with many other poems. I loved them both and forgive them both their frailties, as I do my own. Trust your gut when you talk to your Dad and to your Mom. And let it go, those aren’t your scars, they belong to your parents.

    And reading this, it probably won’t help you much – it probably helped me more than it will you. Jedi Hugs!

    • Lost the last part of sentence “And let it go, those aren’t your scars, they belong to your parents.” should read

      “And let it go, those aren’t your scars, they belong to your parents, and they may have come to terms with what happened a long time ago.”

  • Ashley,

    I speak from a similar situation (I’m around your age, and I’m the child of a cheater too) – and your father is likely silent because of the reasons above. He probably, in his chumpy way, wanted you to form your own opinion or didn’t want to poison your opinion (even though his side of the story is probably the ‘right’ one – he’d still feel inclined to ‘take blame’ like most of the relationship rubbish that goes around these days) – and its an awful, awful situation to be in.

    Talk with him and get his side of the story, if he feels to share it with you. As his adult child, he may be more inclined to give you some of the answers he couldn’t give when you were younger.

    In my personal situation – I found out about the fact my father was a cheater by being in the very room when my mother received a phone call from my father saying he wasn’t coming home ever again, because he had a relationship with someone else. (This happened when I was 20, btw). In that moment, I realised I would NEVER want a relationship with a parent who did shit like that. Not that he wanted to anyway – he attempted to paint me as a ‘gold digger’ in the future settlement crap (funny, I don’t ever recall asking for money? Not to mention I live a very simple existence where money is one of my last priorities). I’m glad that I found out the whole story though – that no lies were told by my mum – and that she was an honest to god warrior queen in the process of dealing with that stuff. It made an awful lot of things in my past make 100% sense – incidents in the past which didn’t add up, and so on. If I had been lied to, I probably would have been very upset about it all once the truth came out.

  • Ashley,
    I appreciate you are angry and feel you have been duped. I also sense that you dont know what quite to do with your anger. I would encourage you to look at your life growing up and ask yourself… Was I happy? Did i suffer because of this lie ? Or should I say omission. Very few on the planet have had the story book childhood. That being said… What do you want to pin on your mother? What do you want to pin on your father? What is going to change it? Its done. I guess the big question to both your parents would be… Why didnt you tell me? Start there.

  • This is the predicament I’ve been in for a couple of years now – do I tell my daughter the truth?

    If my kid approached me about it I would be 100% honest, no matter how old she was. I would then try to just allow her to deal with the news in her own way (so long as it wasn’t harmful to her or anyone else). I’d try to be supportive.

    My current partner and I disagree on this – she believes that I should not tell the truth because it would be upsetting to my daughter and may turn her against her mother.

    It’s a tough one.

    • Ken Doll,
      If your partner has never been chumped, or is not a daughter of a chump, she can´t really understand this. But she has a good heart for wanting to protect your daughter from further pain. I, however, would recommend the truth in an age appropriate way, as soon as possible. The more time you let go by, the more time the cheater has to make up a story that will turn you into the lier the day your daughter finds out the truth. It will be hard for her to know who is lying if you don´t tell her soon. If two years have gone by, both of you are probably calm enough to talk about it, and it will relieve a lot of stress from you and your daughter may probably thank you rather than get angry at you. I told my 8 and 11 year old daughters six months after Dday after talking to pscyhologists, lawyers and reading Chumplady. Outside from CL, where almost all Chumps recommended to tell, even if they hadn´t, because they later paid a price much worse for not telling, the rest of the people I consulted were more on the side of not telling. Of course, my cheater many times recommended I not tell, and even slightly threatened me that everything would be much worse if I said anything. But I decided to tell my daughters on one ordinary day, when we were alone and on vacation, many miles from the cheater. They listened attentively, then we all cried,and then they thanked me. When cheater found out, he went crazy, but my daughters handled it very well but he started making up more stories, such as that he still loved me, that he wasn´t seeing the OW anymore and that it had all been a “mistake” (when I had proof of the contrary because he told me so!). When I told my daughters that he was lying because he had told me before that he was still going out with her, they confronted him and he finally confessed. In any case, the point is that everyone (except cheater) will be better off with the truth, no matter how hard it is at the beginning, and cheaters in the long run, can´t keep their image up. I hope you tell your daughter soon and stop protecting your cheater

  • I speak from experience Ashley… I am a child of divorce. I am a child of a seriously fucked up family too. I think some families handle the divorce( for whatever reason) better than others. I think some families just do the best that they can with what they know and experience. Even with best intentions… It still gets all fucked up. Even without divorce.
    My own childhood was a an example of cesspool of fucked up. My parents met as teens and my mother soon became pregnant at 18. They married a year after my 1st birthday and when my mother was 7 months pregnant with my sister. One year later my brother arrives on the scene. My father took an out of town job and my mother started drinking. My first memories of ” them” is watching a full pot of spaghetti sauce get thrown at the wall… I think I was 4. I vaguely remember him at all. When he was home it was hell… And when he wasnt home it was hell. By second hrade i was walking my sister and brother to and from school and often have to wait until one of the neighbors called my grandfather to let us in as my mother would be passed out drunk. She attempted to kill herself twice which we witnessed. Services came in and we were shuttled between grandparents homes. Where was my father? … He was living with a 15 year old girl about 1000 miles away. And by the way… They are still married… Forty years.
    My father never came back to check on us… Or claim us. He filed for divorce from 1000 miles away and then married his young girl friend.
    My mother was forced into a sobriety program… Which made her angrier than a snake… She found god in those days and would force us to be on our knees facing the wall praying while she nipped out for her drinks. She found an audience with our married mailman… Who delivered everday. When he dumped her she drove us around in her blue bug trying to find were he and his wife lived. I assume he changed routes because we never saw him again. She found a replacement… Shocking i know and before my 8 birthday she married him. He was a mormon… And suddenly we found ourselves to be dunk u in the holy waters mormons… I still am puzzled as to how that happened since divorce is not practiced but there we were mormons. My new step fathers beat the drinking out of my mother… And beat his philosophy into the 3 of us. We lived for two years in that prison. She divorced him after he beat my brother black and blue for putting finger prints on the car dadh board. But not before the other hundred beatings. Enter my biological father who tries to take custody… Only because she finally petitions for child support. On one mandatory summer visit we returned to a new boyfriend. He is a married man with two children … I am 11 years old.
    He eventually leaves his wife and we move from our two bedroom government sudsidized appt to the burbs. His children are seldom welcomed at our home and after their mother is killed in a head on collision, my mother refuses to have them come live with us. Their mothers boyfriend takes guardianship of them and my step father allows it. At 17 i return home from my after school job to find my mother not only with a drink in her hand but a cigarette too. I move out at 18. And do the shit thing and move to be with my biological father. My brother follows. I hate my biological disordered father… But i wasnt about to watch my mother spiral out of control again. She doesnt disappoint. By my 21 birthday and college graduation she is again a floor licking drunk. My step father is marginally better. My biological father tries to buy a business in my and brothers name ( unknown to us) and goes bankrupt… He
    They eventually lose their jobs… Their home and run up a 100 000 credit debt. they now at 70 years old live in a house that my sister pays for. My mother hasnt worked since she was 40. They have met my daughter a handful of times.
    I keep a healthy distance. My relationships with both my parents is polite. Christmas cards and school pictures.
    Here I am almost one year post divorce with a disordered fuck.
    What do I tell my child? I say ‘ nobody has a right to hurt or use you just because they are your family’ a nd I model that. I am not ‘ fake’ with my family. Every now and then we have a good telephone conversation… A good belly laugh. Its not forced. Things change. And somethings never change. Its just how you deal with it.

  • Vic, I am also in the same boat. My exW and I share custody of our 6 year old daughter. My narcissistic exW introduced her new beau (father of 4 kids) from across the Atlantic whom she met while playing on-line games to our daughter before the divorce was finalised. He came over to London to visit in February and, despite my pleas to my exW to introduce any new partners to our daughter carefully and slowly, she went ahead and had him stay over for 3 weeks at her flat. She has been very flippant and reckless about everything to-date. Fortunately, my daughter is smart and strong enough to see through this and despises her mother’s new Hick boyfriend. There are plans for this man to move permanently to the UK (how a father can leave his 4 kids behind, I just don’t understand) but I doubt this will happen. I don’t ask her mother about anything personal anymore and it is as NC as it can possibly be for parents who custody of their children. I have kept things civil and polite as I can possibly and reasonably be despite all exW’s psychotic, narcissistic and selfish behavior. But from what I know, my daughter is not very nice to the new man – through no instigation on my part, I must add. One day, when she is old enough, my daughter will probably ask really why Mummy and Daddy got divorced, and I will show her all the e-mails and the divorce petition, i.e. wanting to be with other men, office affairs, on-line emotional affairs, etc. The truth will set everything free.

  • I am not surprised he didn’t tell you. Good parents try to protect their children. Most people do not realize the children keep secrets as well. They try to protect their parents. You and your father are keeping secrets because you love each other. I think you could tell him now what you know. First you need to give him a hug and a kiss and tell him what a great dad he has been. Then you need to tell him that you have found out about your mother. He may not want to discuss it and that is his right but if he does you might want to steer him to this blog. Even though it happened a long time ago I still think chumps need to find support. With this new knowledge you and your husband need to sit down and talk about how to protect your marriage. You have a child coming into your family and you do not want that child dealing with the same issues you all. By the way, congratulations on your new baby.

  • My father had NPD and cheated on my Mother several times. When I was 18 she’d had enough they divorced. Initially I struggled to maintain a relationship with my father but ultimately decided that as long as I never had to rely on him for anything I was okay. He made all kinds of promises and sometimes he’d even keep them. When that happened I greeted it as a pleasant surprise. In alcoholic terms (and I have no idea if there are degrees of NPD) I always thought of my Father as a high-functioning NPD; he enjoyed a stellar career and retired comfortably. That helped; he wasn’t a mooch etc. My younger sister who also has NPD is another matter. She is so dysfunctional that it became impossible to maintain a relationship with her. My wife and I struggled with it for years but finally, we cut her completely out of our lives and everything has been sunnier since. I guess you just have to determine where your own boundaries are, what you can and can’t live with and utlimately what YOU are getting out of the relationship. But you need at least some of the truth to get there. Up to my Father’s death last year we enjoyed a solid, if odd relationship that I was happy I made the effort to maintain. I am equally happy I gave up that effort with my sister; she is just too toxic. Good luck and hugs from Texas!

  • My fiance and I have both struggled with this issue.

    My deadhusband had an A and BD when our kids were 8, 11, & 15. I told all my girlfriends the gory details but never told my parents or my kids. ThenH told the kids he “had” to take a job 3000 miles away but by them he had been distancing himself for a while and was an unreliable and self absorbed person (bad parent). I SOO wanted us to reconcile and I was afraid of what the truth would do so I spackled what I told the kids…for a long time.

    The boys figured out that he had had an affair but more they simply knew in their bones that he was not the “go to” reliable parent when they really needed someone or something.

    I never told my daughter of his A and after he died, she seemed to mentally “Saint” him while I found more nasty proof of his betrayal in our house…I couldn’t tell her lest I cause her horrible pain, so I didn’t. She and I are now in totally different places in our grief.

    He was shittiest to me then the middle son then the oldest son…by the time he diffused his constant anger on us, there normally wasn’t much left to victimize D with , so she has good memories of him that the rest of us don’t share.

    I dont know where I could have / should have done differently as his MLC path was so crazy and unpredictable, if I had ever sat them down and said “you need to know that your dad is ____” by the time I would have finished my sentence, he would have been off a totally new tangent anyway.

    When my H was 18, I did tell her that her dad hurt me in ways that she didnt know and I didnt want to elaborate lest I cause her pain but I wasnt moving on well in life simply because I was a jerk but I was trying to make the best of the options in life I had .

    Fiance and his XW had one child when his XW was 39 and she proceeded to go into a wild thing that looked like a combo of untreated Post-partum depression and MLC with a few NPD traits thrown in. His D was a toddler when the marriage was intractably broken. He never spoke ill of his XW to their D and we have no idea what XW has said to D about her dad. It grieves him deeply that his D might think that he left the marriage casually or selfishly. Their D is turning 16 and I think it might be time for him to tell her that she is allowed to ask questions if she has any.

    I was a person who always thought that “family secrets” were a terrible idea and I would always tell the truth…but I never expected my H to tell me that he never loved me and was devoted to a coworker who was his twu wuv. I never expected the wild crazy flip flopping and plan changing he threw himself into (he would change life plans 3 times in a day) that I couldn’t keep up with let alone “inform” the kids of.

    So I wonder if I could have done better but I have no idea what that would have looked like

  • Hey Lee:

    I think it’s was wise to keep your family together. People can misbehave and still be a good people. I think love means giving someone a second chance. I think you taught your children, if you have any, a good life lesson.

    Now, an NPD person will not stop cheating, so that makes a huge difference, but if your husband stopped cheating, you showed the true meaning of love by forgiving him as well as giving him a chance to redeem himself.

    A NPD person, would not give anyone a second chance.

    • Andy–why are you anti-economy? It’s all very find and good to talk about forgiveness for a cheater, and keeping the family together. But, divorce causes 1 household to become 2 households–2 abodes, 2 toasters, extra sets of towels, two lawn mowers. Divorce is good for the economy!! You can’t put a price tag on forgiveness, but you can on a mortgage, and a new 8′ x 11′ rug for the living room, and therapy for the kids because one of their parents was a cheating fucktard.

      Why do you and Lee want a stagnant economy, or a flat Dow Jones average?

  • Ashley,
    When I was 12 I found out that my dad was an asshole. He was cheating on his girlfriend with three other women right in front of my face. What I learned from chump lady is that I need to stop giving a shit. I need to care about myself and my needs. I get how enraged you are that you didn’t know before, I was too, but you are a grown woman with your life and a child and a husband. You need to take care of your baby and your family because they are what’s important now. I hope this helped and you’ve got this figured out.

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