STBX and I are both 45. We have been married 18 years, together 23. We have a son, 15, who is disabled, and a daughter, 11, who isn’t. I gave up my career to care for our son. STBX’s career has been doing just fine, and for the past 5 years he has spent nearly 1 month out of 4 in China on business. We live in Sweden.
D-day was seven months ago. STBX came to me in tears, demanding that I comfort him after he found out his Chinese mistress of four years had been cheating on him. What followed was a most humiliating pick me dance, but finally, I saw through his Genuine Imitation Naugahyde Remorse. I asked for a divorce and we filed together.
STBX has been amazingly cooperative and generous. I have only a symbolic income, and Sweden has no spousal alimony, but he has agreed to child support much higher than the law demands — high enough that the kids and I will be okay if I’m careful. He says it just makes sense the kids stay with me since he travels so much. Since I have the kids I should obviously I take everything I need from our house. He thinks I need a car too. He offered to let me keep the house, but in the end he bought me a comfortable apartment in a more convenient location. He even promised to pay for some necessary renovations. I get the keys in a couple of days and will move right away.
But… and isn’t there always a but?
OW demands I apologize for what I did to her and poor STBX. I wasted so much of her precious youth, keeping him trapped in a “dead” marriage by “refusing” the divorce he claims he asked me for so many times. Couldn’t I take a hint when he moved out of our bedroom? Even her cheating on STBX was my fault, since she needed to try to get married and have babies before it was too late (she is 28!!!) If I only apologize, she will forgive and forget. She wants us to be best friends. She’s just big hearted like that…
The truth is, he denied it to my face every time I suspected there was something going on. He didn’t mention divorce until D-day, when he begged me NOT to divorce him! We still share our bed.
STBX is terrified I will expose his lies so he loses both his kibble dispensers at once. If I ruin his Once in a Lifetime Epic True Love, he vows that he will make sure that both I AND THE KIDS suffer even more than he does. If she dumps him again, he swears he will drag me through the courts for custody, and when he inevitably loses, he will pay the absolute minimum.
The divorce agreement won’t be final until November, so I’m walking on eggshells. I’m already pretty meh about STBX. I’m okay with feeding him cake for a good cause since the end is in sight. I offered to block her completely, but that wasn’t good either — she might see it as a snub and she is soooo fragile. When I am forced to interact with OW, the meh flies out the window. To grovel for her would be unbearable.
Also, a part of me feels sorry for her. OW is obviously making life choices on bad information. Just like I was. Even a whore who can’t wait for the divorce she believes is coming before fucking my husband deserves better.
What do I do? So far I have been stalling her with “sorry, I’m soooo busy this week, maybe we can talk some other time?”, but that won’t work for long.
Boy, your OW sure takes emotional blackmail to new heights, doesn’t she? This is a classic “don’t negotiate with the terrorists” situation. Who trusts a terrorist to abide by any agreement they make? On the other hand, negotiating with terrorists is usually how hostages get freed. (Unless you’re suggesting a Seal Team 6 solution.)
Let’s say you play along, and “apologize” to the OW and pretend to be her long-distance BFF, I can see a few things going wrong. (Besides the obvious — eating a giant shit sandwich).
1. You grovel. She gets what she wants and dumps your husband anyway. (She’s already cheated.) Now what? You think Mr. Cheaterpants is going to be all, “Well, you were a good sport! Here’s your divorce settlement!” No, you might be fucked both ways. Crap settlement AND having groveled to the OW. If she dumps him again, he swears he will drag me through the courts for custody… You don’t control if she dumps him again.
2. You grovel. He gets cake. OW’s happy and doesn’t really want you and the kids to have a generous divorce settlement. After all, SHE wants kids with him. The “let’s be friends” shit is impression management. (Yes, I’m implying that a woman who could fuck your husband for four years is insincere about your well-being.)
3. You grovel. He gets cake. He’s confident you’re too chumpy to tell his secrets to the OW. (He’s manipulated her not to believe you, and now you’re groveling and agreeing to the narrative anyway.) He doesn’t want to agree to a decent settlement after all. (Yes, I’m implying that a man who cheats on his wife and family for four years is untrustworthy.)
So there are the risks. What I would prefer is a world in which you say fuck him, you don’t need him or his “offers,” and you go back to work and find decent care for your son. You’re in Scandinavia, aren’t there social services and childcare? (We hear about this mythical land of democratic socialism here in the U.S.)
I don’t like your dependence on this creep. And I don’t like how you view the money as “his” money and “his” generosity. Fuck that! You’re in a MARRIAGE. Legally, what he earns belongs to you both. That furniture he is “giving” you belongs to YOU as well. Take back your power! If I’ve learned anything after running this blog for 3 years is that stay-at-home parenthood is a high-risk venture. It’s bungee jumping off a bridge span without a net. If anyone is reading this and contemplating SAH motherhood, get a freaking post-nup. You assumed ALL the economic vulnerability in this marriage and were rewarded with a four-year affair. Again, I say, fuck him.
Woulda coulda shoulda. You need the decent settlement NOW. Okay, now I’m throwing open your Negotiate With the Terrorists stratagems to Chump Nation. Some people do report success in divorce by sucking up to narcissists. Oh sure, I’ll be your friend. Just sign over this asset… that’s right, honey. You can have all the cake you want, just sign here.
I’ve never done it. (And have the gargantuan legal bills to prove it.) But maybe other chumps have played the guilt card (assuming narc’s feel guilt), and manipulated outcomes. Do tell, folks.
If you were to go this route, I’d suggest you just agree to whatever batshit crazy thing the OW says. Do one of those non-apology apologies. Or simply tell her the truth, “You really are a better mate for him.” (Leave out, “Because you’re as selfish and disordered as he is.”) If you can manage a straight face, maybe you can add, “I can’t stand in the way of Once in a Lifetime Epic True Love.”
You just have to tough it out until November. What does your lawyer say? Meanwhile, for the love of God, QUIT SHARING A BED with this idiot! Groveling to the OW isn’t the real problem here, it’s letting that smug son-of-a-bitch eat cake.
He wants his mistress AND his family (set up in a nice apartment across town). Believe me, the threats to cut off support will be contingent on cake in the future as well. Tie that shit up tight in the divorce decree. Get your settlement and go NC on his ass.
Please consider going back to work. It’s much easier to say “fuck you” with money in the bank. YOUR money.