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Dear Chump Lady, Do we have to do things “as a family”?

notplanBDear Chump Lady,

My (now ex) had affairs with skanks off Craigslist while he traveled for work. I busted him, threw his ass out that minute, and divorced him.

He spent the first six months being nice thinking I might take him back (no way), then met a girl, got engaged within 6 months, and has been back and forth within 6 months along with women in between.

He comes to me wanting to do things together with the kids “as a family.”

Let’s adopt a family for Christmas! — “start a new family tradition.”

We do things with the kids already Halloween, Easter, and birthdays.

Is it petty that I absolutely do not have any desire to start a ” new family tradition” with him?

I said no.

First, he left me in a serious financial tight spot. A single mother, 45, with 4-year-old twins. I can’t afford to adopt a family! I do home daycare to stay home with my kids!

Second — we are not a family!

When we do things together he pumps the kids up — mommy AND daddy are going together!
all of us! — over and over.

I trust nothing he says or does. He is probably trying to make his girlfriend jealous.

I’m not mad at him, I’ve forgiven him for me. But he is still a dirtbag — I just don’t dwell on his dirtbagness.

Am I being petty? I think we do enough together with the kids, am I wrong?

I’m respectful of him, I’ve never said a word negative around my kids — never involved them in adult trouble, never will. Isn’t that enough?


Not a Family

Dear NaF,

Let me suggest a New Family Tradition — no contact.

Your dilemma is what I covered the other day on the post Co-parenting Cake. You’re not obliged to do “family” together things with him like birthdays, Easter, and Christmas. As you rightly pointed out, you’re not family. You’re divorced.

Divorce (ergo not being A Family) was the consequence of fucking around with “Craigslist skanks.” I’m sorry he doesn’t like the consequence — that’s not your problem. Your problem is single parenting two preschool boys. Your problem is building a new life that doesn’t depend on the facade of Intact Nuclear Family impression management.

Ask yourself what you’re getting out of this arrangement? The enjoyment of watching the various girlfriends wear their tap shoes out pick-me dancing? Some part-time bozo’s help hiding Easter eggs? Picking up ice for the birthday party? Corralling pre-schoolers for pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey?

The $20 you’d have to spend hiring a middle-school girl instead is well worth it. Whatever “help” he’s offering can’t compare to dealing with his manipulative bullshit, or letting your kids think cake-eating is okay.

Why are you being “respectful” to a dirtbag?

Seriously, what is there to respect? The institution of Fatherhood? You can respect his paying you support and holding up his end of the custody agreement. If he’s not doing that, then YOU are doing a kind of codependent jujitsu thinking that “including” him and letting him play the role of Family Guy will make him keep his obligations.

If he keeps his obligations without you? Then what are you doing with him? Why do you think pretending to respect people you don’t respect is okay? Does that align with your values?

I’m all for civility. Never be rude. But there is a wide chasm between basic civility (“Yes, Tuesday is fine for pick up!”) and playing hostess to every Hallmark Daddy occasion.

Frankly, I’d slap him into next week for mindfucking the kids with Mommy AND daddy are going together! all of us! — over and over.

No. Mommy and Daddy are NOT together. And there is a REASON for that. And not telling your children that you HAD a reason is a mindfuck.

Telling the kids age appropriately why you are divorced is not “disrespecting” him. It’s explaining their reality.

Existing as you are is living in a muddle of confusion that only benefits HIM and leaves you in the position as Bad Guy.

Gee, Daddy is so nice and Mommy won’t let him live with us! Mommy divorced Nice Daddy! Daddy is so FUN at birthday parties! Why can’t we see more of Nice Daddy? If you like Daddy so much that you’ll do Fun Things Together With Him, why can’t he live with us all the time?

Reasonable question, kid.

Your values and your actions are not in alignment. And it’s bothering you, which is why you wrote me. Start acting in accordance with your values (i.e., I’m not friends with people who abandon preschoolers for fuckbuddies) — and I trust you’ll feel better soon.

Mr. Cake there can keep his own social calendar.


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  • When I was tolerating a lot of subtle emotional abuse from then-H, my oldest daughter (16-17) was also engaging in a lot of underhanded disrespect to me. D-day arrives, I cut off all romantic ties, throw him out a month later, and file for divorce a few weeks after that. Guess who now treats me with tons of respect, including calling me for advice in a way she never used to?

    Model self-respect (i.e., jackasses who cheated on you don’t get your friendship or time), and your children will notice.

    And tell them WHY daddy had to leave, in an unambiguous & age-appropriate way–he was looking for other girlfriends while married, and that is against the rules.

    • Tempest, as you are aware, I was a complete and utter doormat to my ex husband and 2 adult children. I have certainly modelled self-respect but sadly my kids are not interested and will never notice because I have been given the boot by them completely. I have recently become aware of them posing for pictures with my ex husband and his 23 year old tart here in Melbourne at many of our familiar surroundings. My son, daughter and son-in-law are friends with her on her Facebook account and is she posing and bragging with my ex husband. In one photo my son is standing in the middle of them with his arms around both of them and they are all smiling happily, as is my daughter and my son-in-law in other snaps and these photos are on the tarts Facebook. They are doing things as a family whilst I have been left behind. To say I was gutted is an understatement and to know that I will never have my family with me ever again is sad. I will not receive the respect from them that I have earned and deserve because they just hate me so much, particularly my daughter. I have been humiliated beyond belief because it really does look like I have been the bad guy in all of this. Because when someone is rejected by their family, others will naturally think that I am at fault.

      • As an aside. A few years ago I told my son that I was thinking of opening a Facebook account and he was quite definite that I was not allowed to be one of his ‘friends’ and yet he has the 3rd world tart as one and he in turn is one of her’s. I can take a hint because I don’t have a Facebook account!!

        • Maree, your story never fails to make me both very sad and very angry in equal amounts.

          I think there is truth in the observation that children, when observing their parents relationship, make a decision to either 1) mirror the chump or 2) view the chump with contempt for their chumpy ways and choose to model themselves on the abusive parent. ‘The Great I Am’ despised his mother, despite the fact that she was horrendously chumped by his father (not a cheater, but a compulsive gambler and thief who repeatedly abandoned the family, stole and spent their food/rent money, was a masterclass in ‘stone-walling’ and lied constantly) yet kept the house together, fed, clothed and sheltered 5 children – at times having to go cap in hand to the local parish church for handouts to feed those children because ‘The Great I Am Snr’ had lost all the food money on number 5 at Kempton. Suffice it to say, ‘The Great I Am’ behaved just like his sparkly father, and had the same level of contempt for chumpy me for being on the other side of his abuse.

          Please know Maree, that I for one don’t believe for a moment that you are at fault for how your shithead ex-husband behaved, nor how your fucked-up, ungrateful bastard children behave. I know for sure I’m not the only one in Chump Nation who think the same! Maree, you are lovely, you just got dealt a particularly smelly and runny shit sandwich. Not your fault, your terrible misfortune to have bred with a fucktard.

          Take heart. No one with any integrity could hear your story and not question how those kids can live with themselves.


          • I so agree with you Jayne. Maree your story makes mine pale in contrast. My emotionless son said “It’s ok. and He’s sick of hearing about it.” My daughter is kind of grey rock. It hurts like heck that they can’t empathize and see how he sucks and how inappropriate and disrespectful his behavior was. They are sweep it under the carpet adult kids. On the outside. I have much empathy for you Maree.

            • I think older and adult kids often can’t handle the pain of seeing one parent hurt so badly and the truth that the other parent is a huge scumbag. It’s hard enough for the chump to finally believe that the person closest to them could betray them so brutally. Imagine if it’s your parent. I think they just kind of shut down because they can’t deal with it. It’s all too much. If they face the reality and react appropriately, they essentially lose a parent. Infidelity is a double decker shit sandwich for the kids.

              • Except that Maree’s children deliberately threw away the better parent. Now they *are* the shit sandwich.

              • What the fuck?
                No seriously – what the fuck.
                I’m a child of a cheater parent, and NOT ONCE did I ever have a thought other than “My fuckwit father chose a subcontinential whore over my own mother. I NEVER want to see him again”.
                Its not a question of shutting down – its a question of morality and the lack of a Cluster B diagnosis. Maree’s children are the spawns of hell themselves and its obvious what parent they take after. Someone who thinks porking a 3rd world gold digging slut is even slightly appropriate.

            • Lania, I was responding to Happily Never After’s comments about her son, not Maree. I agree that Maree’s adult children are disordered and beyond. I am the child of a cheater too, but my mother stayed and we grew up with my father’s drinking, cheating and abusing her. There was no real D-day for us kids, just the status quo. I’m just saying it’s a tough thing to be a kid torn between wanting and needing to love and be loved by a bad parent, and knowing that they suck. Families often have a way of going into a kind of survival mode and the dysfunction becomes the norm. That dysfunction carries over to adulthood and adult children sweep it under the rug or just want to keep the peace, which can translate to a lack of support for the faithful parent.

              • carmella, I must have been different then, because when D-Day hit – I was utterly disgusted by his actions and it burned any love I might have had for my father away. I didn’t want a part of it, and I still don’t now, 10 years later.

          • I hear you, Jayne. How hard it is for someone like maree, who was there for her children, to see them reject her in favor of their father’s newest AP!

            I think the family dynamics in a cheater’s household are extremely strange, and that’s one reason whyI think it’s really important for those Chumps who have minor children to get the kids (and themselves) into therapy, tell age-appropriate truth regarding the reason for the divorce, and to help the Chump parent disengage from managing the Cheater parent’s image to the children, and to give the children the tools to sort out their individual relationships with their parents.

            I know that my XH and his brother are both cheaters, and they are sons of a man who cheated. The family dynamics in that house were quite odd. The father lived in another city for 5 days per week, and was home for exactly 48 hours. Everyone knew the father had a girlfriend. No one talked about it. The mother insisted that her sons pay attention to their father and respect him.

            I didn’t recognize that the family was seething with FOO issues. Now, though, I see that both sons chose to align themselves with their cheater father, rejecting the sacrifices made by their late mother. How utterly sad! Her memory deserves better than that!

            My heart goes out to all the Chumps who are trying to navigate these waters!

        • Maree,

          When my ex left me for his co-worker whore 6 yrs ago, I was very disappointed and hurt by my kids reactions at first, as well. First of all, he denied any affair and has to this day, although I can tell you without a doubt that that affair had been going on for several years. When this woman came out of the woodwork, everything made sense and I knew, I just knew! Til this day there are times I wake up from a dream and understand why he did something long ago, that were all part and parcel of the denial and gaslighting that he’d being doing for several years.
          anyway, at first, my kids wanted to run after him. My youngest after the first 6 mths went and lived with him and the whore, and I was totally devastated all over again. I couldn’t understand it, cause I had been a stay at home Mom with them for pretty much their entire lives. I was the one there, day in, day out, doing all the driving for various activities, playdates, homework, you name it-everything! It was me and them all the time, while my ex who is a very successful businessman was absent alot of the time and travelled frequently. But he always brought them wonderful gifts, spoiled them when he was home, and was pretty much a very sparkly narc who left all the hard work,drudgery of life, and discipline to me. Have to say I was pretty miserable at times as well and resented having to do all that while he was always gone in the name of our business.
          There wasn’t much I could do to stop my daughter going, but she did find out the hard way that even if she was going to run after him, he still was just not available. When she lived with him she sat alone, night after night like I had most of my married life. He didn’t spend any time with her and in fact used her to do a lot of household chores. She was lonely and miserable and missed me after a while. It was the hardest thing I ever witnessed,,, my own kids doing the pick me dance. I hate him for that. Children should not have to perform to be loved by their parent. Both my now adult kids see him very differently and they know I’m their rock and always have been. They still see him and I’m glad they do, but they don’t expect much anymore. Sometimes he’s generous with his money but never his time or himself.
          In your case, your kids were already adults when you split and I’m really shocked that they don’t get it. They either will one day, hopefully when it’s not too late to appreciate you and have a relationship, or maybe they do get it but are much like their father and sadly, that can happen too. Who knows maybe they resent you for actually parenting them, while your ex puts on a good show.
          I also have another friend, whose wife cheated on him( a few times) and then left him and the kids, and went and married another man in another country. His daughter a couple years later, who loved her dad tremendously explained that she wanted to go live with her mother in this foreign country because she knew she had a lot of unfinished business with her. She had been very traumatized when she was abandoned.
          In any case, they have to find out for theirselves and I know how much it hurts and feels so unjust, but know in your heart what the truth is and turn a blind eye to it.

          • I have some thoughts on why adult children like Maree’s shun their chump parent…..My guess is being the good chumps that we are we have been covering up for the cheater and maintaining impression management for our children’s so called well being. We make excuses on why they missed the recital and the championship soccer game. We cover for the forgotten birthdays, anniversaries and minimize the importance of showing up. We smile as we sit empty handed at Christmas because we were forgotten again. Say crap like’ i dont need anything but your guys love.’ We do as much damage by covering up the shit. Do your adult children who really is the liar? The person covering for the sack of shit cheater… Or the cheater? The Chump has done 20 plus years of making this farce normal for their children. Your children are accustom to this dysfunction and expect you continue with your pattern of making everything normal and allright for them. Now 20 + years later you want them to see your side? It aint gonna happen. It hasnt been their world or their reality.
            I had a light bulb moment when I was going thru all this crap with my ex. My daughter was only 9 when the shit started to hit the fan. I could see how tormented she was…. Not understanding why all of a sudden her hero was becoming a villian. I covered for way too long all ready.
            I teach my daughter that no one…. Not even family has the right to treat you like crap, dismiss you or take advantage of you. Family ties can hold strong to support you or snap in weakness. Know what links you can count on and build a better connection.
            Maree…. My heart breaks for you. I cant imagine the loss or the pain. As parents we sacrifice so much for our childrens well being. The truth does have a way of making itself known. One day your children will have to face an ugly truth about their father…. They will either bury it or meet it head on. That is no longer your job. I say the best thing that you can do right now is invest in you. Likely your children will have families of their own and will soon discover what sacrifices are.

            • Clip, thank you for your very ‘spot on’ post and I do agree with what you have said. I know that I have to take personal responsibility for a lot and maybe, just maybe my kids are seeing me as the weak one and a liar when in fact it is their father who is the weak one and liar. I did cover up or cover over many things in relation to their father for 37 years which became their norm, so to speak and they now resent me bitterly for everything and I suppose that is why they have welcomed their father’s new girl so easily into their lives However, I know my daughter would be loving my agony, she always has for some reason. It is now time for me to care about myself for once and stop worrying about what is beyond my control and out of reach.

          • Moving On

            “Sometimes he’s generous with his money but never his time or himself.” That rings so true with me. It is a difficult lesson for kids. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

        • As you know, cheaters are liars. Thats how they try to justify what they do. I wonder if your kids would be willing to TELL you exactly what the cheater told them.

          • I bet the kids were willing to believe it because it is hard to accept that one parent could be so utterly cruel to the other parent. They probably WANT to believe that YOU were the bad guy and deserves this abandonment. Because how can they accept that their father is a complete scumbag?

        • I know very well the temptation to look at those Facebook posts. In fact, my suspicion is that your ex and your grown children might post those pictures (along with doing their impression management, “look at us” for their larger circle of admirers) as a way of showing you what you are supposedly missing.

          You feel so bad about these unkind actions because you love your kids, no matter what they do. So they will always have the capacity to hurt you because you care so much. However, you can stop hurting yourself. You can stop looking at those pictures. You and I have lived long lives without Facebook or any other such social media time sucker. I do use FB, but I have pretty rigid rules around it. Early on after D-Day, I was busy reading the OW’s page, her chumped H’s page, Jackass’s page, trying to read the tea leaves of what they were up to. But all that did was keep me in my own hellish prison. So I stopped. And little by little, I felt better. Now I have zero interest in any of them. And I see a member of OW’s family every day and I just say, “Meh.”

          Maree, you are going to get to “Meh,” but I think you might need some new strategies for “accepting what you cannot change.” I took my cousin out today for her birthday. We are both in our mid-60s and doing well in terms of health, both still working and very active. When we walked to the cars, I told her that our goal should be to live this well into our 90s, as our favorite aunt did. While I don’t have kids, and can’t pretend to know how painful your situation is, I do know what it means to be terribly vulnerable to someone who was willing to gut me like a fish because of my mother. You’ve been around long enough that I don’t need to remind you that “no contact” also means “no torturing yourself with Facebook,” etc. And it seems to me that a good dose of “no contact” with your very mean grown children might establish a much-needed strong boundary for you. And I am willing to bet there are young single mothers around, struggling to raise kids after somebody dropped them for someone young and unencumbered, who could use a “second mother” to talk to, shop with, cry with, have fun with. In your case, adopting a family like that might be a good idea. You have so much to give. Once you find people who are good at reciprocity, your kids will have less power to hurt you. You deserve to be happy.

          • Loveda, I seriously think you hit upon a GREAT therapeutic salve for Maree. I have come across young women who have really wanted and desired a nice relationship/friendship with a woman. I have a natural motherly interest in kids in general and there are so many young moms that feel overwhelmed and would so appreciate your friendship and wealth of life experience etc. I really came to like my sons’ tutor who was bright, kind but a bit overwhelmed as a single mom. She has married, had a second child and is pursing a master’s degree and moved to a different state but we still enjoy exchanging emails pictures and keeping in touch. She calls me ‘ Ma’! Maree, your kids may come around at some point BUT for now choose those to love who are not baby barbed wire monkeys!

          • LaJ, I know it is hard to believe from my earlier post but meh is just around the corner if not on the doorstep for me. Seeing the photos at first jolted me but it was the kick in the backside that I needed to propel me forward. I have not looked any more at anything and I won’t be. I truly feel very calm and at peace now and as much as it hurts me to have lost my kids, there isn’t a thing that I can do about it any more. Also, I do have a delightful young lady of 25 years who is my manicurist and she is from New Zealand and is without her family. She is lovely to me and seeks out my company and counsel at certain times and that really makes me feel quite valued and not so worthless. Please don’t think that I just sit in my apartment crying and searching Facebook because I don’t. As I say, meh is just around the corner if not on the doorstep and it is all thanks to a handful of very dear friends, CL and CN. This community of great people has been life saving literally and I will forever be grateful to each and every person who posts here.

            • Maree, as you know I have three adult chikdren. My biggest fear was they would blame everything on me.
              Their father, I found had been talking about me to his family, coworkers, other women and his own children since we married. All the while he cheated. He sat back and enjoyed manipulating everyone into thinking I was a horrible person when he was leading a double life. My chikdren finally saw him as my therapist tins me to back off during the divorce as he was walking in thin ice.
              Finally they saw him and apologized for not believing me whe he was using them. Sociopaths are masters of manipulation. There was no winning until I got away. Toxic assholes use their children and turn them against the Good parent. I pray someday they beg forgiveness and get away from him.

              • Oh Maree, I so get it. My 17 y/o daughter lives with me full-time since we sold our house and divorced (2 years ago), not wanting to take up residence or visitation with narc-dad because she did not want to live with OW. She sees her dad approx once per week (for lunch or a walk as he is not invited to my home to spend time with her). My oldest, off at college, has been angry with me off and on since we sold the house. We tried to arrange some closure for her to fly home to say goodbye to the house, etc, but it was too impractical and she decided she did not want to.

                My oldest daughter, now 21, loves her dad but is completely brainwashed by him. He has inappropriately shared details of bullshit with her (mainly blaming me for everything; don’t you just love how they lie cheat and steal THEN blame us, so classic). So his inappropriate sharing did generate my need to explain things to her, but that wasn’t a good idea either because then I just looked crazy trying with a frenzy to get the truth out plus it’s just not appropriate and kids don’t know what to do with it. So I don’t defend myself or do that anymore (it just created more wedges). Instead, I try to validate her feelings (though I don’t agree with them), I have apologized numerous times for hurting her (no response and honestly I don’t know what I am even apologizing for, I just want her to feel regarded because like most of us chumps I was a stay-at-home mom who did all of the real work of raising them), and have taken the high road in interacting with her in the kindest most loving way I can (and this despite her name calling me, hostility, and horrible expressions to me; now who does that remind you of?) CL’s encouragement to be the “sane and stable parent” is something I play out every day with this difficult child.

                After 6 months abiding by her request that I not contact her, her coldness began to thaw and she contacted me with a genuine, “let’s move forward” letter to which I appropriately and happily accepted and replied lovingly. So after a few months of healthy interaction, with things really moving forward, her college financial aid is being jeopardized because fuckwad claimed her on his taxes when it was my turn per the divorce decree (of course he did, he’s a narc, he’s entitled, the rules do not apply). This has created a huge wedge again because she is so aligned with ex and his “explanations” of what mom is doing that is so wrong. And CN, you are the only few who get the absolute mind-fuck, bending, twisting, manipulating of the most basic things, e.g., that the damn divorce decree said it was my year to claim her. Such a simple order, such entitled complicated drama in response to it (this plus my documented reminder that it was my year). No matter. He did what he wanted to do for him. No surprise.

                As most of you know we went to mediation and it felt great to have a sort of “second day in court,” because we addressed several other child support issues. I found an amazing lawyer (per the incredible support and encouragement of CN) and we had a settled deal on January 11. I agreed to amend my taxes due to a series of other negotiations (such as getting child support for my youngest), even getting some back child support which would have helped me to pay back the IRS for the amended return (not for my daughter’s support mind you but to pay back the IRS). Anyway, we agreed to who will take the next tax deductions and when. It was done, settled, I felt like it was finally over. My rage at being robbed of child support, alimony, and selling my house began to float away and I was adjusting to the relief of “it’s over.”

                But things with narcs never turn out the way they should with normal people. He won’t sign the agreement, got cold feet, wanted this, wanted that, raised issues not in mediation, asked to go back to mediation, began arguing with my lawyer (increasing my legal fees) and it is apparent that he is now enjoying the kibble extracting drama and chaos and once again is exerting power, control, and manipulation over the entire situation. It’s deplorable. While it feels validating that the lawyer (and the mediator) saw right through him, it still doesn’t change the fact that my daughter is now furious with me again for not submitting my amended return to her school. (We were able to get an extension btw until May 1).

                I did have leverage of getting ex to sign the deal because despite his horribleness I don’t believe that at the end of the day he wanted my daughter to lose her aid (which would mean a bill for $31k).

                The big picture of all of this is I stopped reacting to it. I stopped focusing on the disgust, pain, and anger of his ridiculousness. I stopped wishing and hoping he would sign. I stopped beseeching the universe for him to do the right thing. I just stopped. I let all of my investment in it go. I have completely detached from all of the outcome of this bullshit. Of course, I will do what I have to do to be responsible to the IRS and follow through with my part for my daughter, but what I am talking about is a complete lack of investment in prodding ex with my mental energy to do the right thing. Narcs never do the right thing (but my insanity and disbelief about his behavior and longing for him to do the right thing really speaks more of me then him because he is the sick narc so why am I in this continual spin of trying to get him to do the right thing?). The lawyer will still work to get this settled and the deadline was extended (now narc has no incentive to address or resolve it). Honestly, CN, I just have shifted to some gratitude here. I know that sounds weird, but this bullshit experience could either take me down, keep me spinning, keep me longing for what he should do, or I can just “be the sane and stable parent,” do what I need to and move on.

                And with my daughter, I offer her what my mother offered to me when similar dynamics were happening in my FOO. She said “when you are ready or if you have questions, I will always be here for you. I love you more then anything.” I also told my daughter that her attacks of me were not acceptable and that I would not tolerate name calling.

                All we can do is take the high road with kids and follow the “be the sane and stable parent” and just live our lives. Maree, we all know the truth of who you are: a loving, kind decent human being and a wonderful mother. We all know the truth of the brainwashing of your kids and the severity of your chumping. It is horrible, unconscionable, despicable, and sickening and you did not deserve one second of it. You are experiencing a double whammy in this however. I hope you can find that part of you that knows the truth and just lives according to the reality of the situation. You are one of my heroes here and I always cherish your posts, your wisdom, your strength. We are supported here by so many. Let that truth of who you are shine through. The above poster was right: sometimes our kids will model or adapt narc traits. I’ve got one child doing that and one not doing that. It’s so sad.

                Thanks everyone for listening if you got this far. Sorry to be so long today.

        • When I hear your story, I just want to wrap you up in a big hug, Maree.
          Have you considered adopting older children from foster care? There are a lot of 14, 15, 16, 17-18 year olds in/aging out of the system who have no family base to launch from. There is no replacing the family you thought you had, but you have a lot of love to give Maree, and there are some very lonely kids/young adults who would love to have you as their Mom.

      • My god, Maree, whenever I hear about how your ex and kids are behaving, I want to rip out my sinks and throw them violently through a window. You are so mighty!!!

      • Maree, what happened to you really pisses me off. Every kind of abuse hurts…but it seems like what happened to you–having loved ones turned against you unfairly–is particularly painful and mallicious. I tend to be a doormat (in my mind, a peacekeeper) like you used to be. Something similar happened to me years ago. Aquaintances suddenly started acting weird around me and some quit speaking to me altogether. Eventually I was told that my hubby was spreading untrue rumors about me. He never admitted it though. I believe they call this “painting someone black”. It is evil and sick.

      • Maree–your case and those of other chumps who have had 1 or more children gravitate to the dark side are, I hope, not the norm. There is some screw loose with your children, or they are narcs themselves, because otherwise I do not understand how they could do what they did. Those of us who know your story certainly don’t think the fault lies with you in any way. Big hugs your way.

        • And we’ve seen enough of these kinds of relationships to know how it’s likely to end, especially if she’s that young. Then he’ll fill their heads with the kind of lies he told about you and the light bulb will go off.

      • Not to worry…it is just a matter of time that your son/son-in-law will get a little “too close” to your Ex’s 23yr old tart. Then you can watch that Karma Bus collide with ALL of them.

        • My son is gay so it isn’t going to happen, but I do know that my son-in-law loves everything Asian. He is a hypocrite though because he has actually commented on “feral old white bastards” in SE Asia with young women just like his father-in-law, my ex. Some people are just not genuine. They say one thing and mean &/or do another.

          • Maree, its pretty fucking mentally ill to have a fixation like that. What next, he will actually think he’s Asian? People like that are secretly (and sometimes overtly) laughed at, because its fucking pathetic.
            Must suck to have a conflict of hating them and loving them at the same time, but thats his problem isn’t it? Obvious to see where the genes of his have come from, eh?

      • Same here…it is the hall mark of being clumped! However, 1 year post divorce…things are much brighter and clearer! You have to move on and hope your children eventually come out of Peter Pan land! I Love being free!

      • Dear Maree, I just wanted to say I am terribly sorry that you are going through this. I understand how painful this must be for you. When my cheater left us to go live with a serial home wrecker my youngest son went to hang out with the home wrecker and her kids. I was shocked and hurt, but I said nothing, as I can think of nothing to say.
        It is hard to understand what is going on within his mind. I agree with the concept that they find it emotionally easier to identify with the perpetrator than with the victim. There may be a large component of denial or it may just be that they need reassurance that the abandoning parent still loves them.
        “If I take your side will you still love me Dad?”
        In any case it is terribly unfair and for whatever reason the child is unable to recognize or empathize that their mother has been betrayed and abandoned.
        My impression is that it is not a good idea to confront the child with the truth. Once they have chosen their side the truth will only enrage them and make them angry.The only option is to wait and hope that someday the child will see the truth when they are ready. It seems like this may take a while.

        • When the child identifies with the abandoning parent what they are saying is that it is less painful for them to believe that their mother deserved to be abandoned than to believe that their father has been dishonest. They have made a choice to believe the lies, because it is less painful to believe a lie than to believe the truth.

        • When the asswipe tried to get our grown daughter on his side, she freaked and told him she will not take sides and if he insists that she has to pick a side she will pick moms. She told him how fucked up he was and is and he should have been honest and made it easier for me to move on and stop with all the mind fucking. Her reward he ignores her. Bastard!

      • Maree, I’m in a very similar situation. My d17yo has totally isolated herself from me. Lives with her dad a thousand miles away. She has been extremely challenging since she was 10. Nothing terribly unusual there. But I’ve put together now that there has been a terrible symphony of her father’s active alienation of me (once found a letter he had written her saying that she couldn’t trust me ever because I was a liar and that promiscuity gave me and my sister HPV causing both my breast cancer and her stillborn child), his obvious mental illness, and her own likely character defects. It’s all just horrible. She has been manipulating me with double binds since she was 10. And I bought into many of them hoping for a breakthrough. The breakthrough never came. Not yet. Many more details because there is more to the story, but Maree, you get the gist. Wanted you to know that you aren’t the only one. I’m so happy when Chumps share stories about how their kids and their relationships with them are thriving. Maybe one day that will be me. I can only hope, keep working on myself, and keep my side of the street clean.

        … And I was never promiscuous. Or had HPV. Who says these things to anybody? Much less a 6 year old?!!?

    • “i.e., jackasses who cheated on you don’t get your friendship or time”. Well put Tempest. My quote of the day!

  • “Telling the kids age appropriately why you are divorced is not “disrespecting” him. It’s explaining their reality.” Excellent point, CL!

    And it is giving them a moral education about actions and consequences while modeling speaking the truth.

    • In NC, a judge can modify a visitation agreement at his/her discretion. Most see “bashing” the other parent as reason enough to change the visitation. In my case, my oldest son has asked a few times about why his dad and I divorced. I don’t want to lie to him, but if I tell the truth, a judge (we are currently in a court battle to modify visitation because my ex refuses to pay his agreed-upon child support) could see that as bashing. I’m stuck having to lie by omission to hopefully be able to keep my children with me, where he and I agreed they should be when we split up…in a written agreement that became a court order.

      • WHYYYYY does the government make faithful spouses cover for the whores ? That’s just sick.

      • You could play the yes/no game with him–let your son ask questions, and answer “no” when appropriate; when he hits on the correct answer, just smile and say nothing.

      • You can tell him the truth, though–that the courts don’t like it when one parent talks about another, so when he’s 18, he can ask you then and you will tell him what happened.

        • Or when he is 11 or 12, which is when most states allow a child to determine who he/she wants to live with, all other things being equal.

  • If he wanted to do things as a family, he should have kept his family intact. There is nothing for the chump to gain, but lots for the cheater to gain, by staying “friends” after separation/divorce.
    1. Great image control for the cheater — “Look! We’re still great friends, so what I did can’t possibly be that bad.”
    2. Pushes the OW/OM or any new targets into the pick-me dance
    3. Keeps you on the line should the new target not work out
    4. Potentially benefits the cheater financially… are you helping to pay for these “family activities” that the cheater should be dealing with entirely on his OWN visitation time?

    And most importantly, you cannot move on with your life if you are still allowing your ex access to your emotions (and I think it’s impossible, or nearly impossible, to carry on pretending to be a family without fanning the flames of emotion for your ex.)

    Start new traditions. The ex can start traditions of his own with the kids on his visitation time.

    • Exactly!!! You nailed it. My ex said we would be “better than ever”, “best friends”…..ha! All so people wouldn’t think he was a jerk, his affair partner that he shacked up with and I could pick me dance, and to try to get me to settle the divorce his way……which I didn’t do, and my “best friend” discarded me again.
      Big shocker…..he’s a jerk.

    • Glad, you said exactly what I was thinking – particularly with image management and financial benefits.

      Cheater tried really hard to get me to hang out with him, ride with him to daughter’s games, etc. simply for his image management. He wanted to be able to say that we were friends so he, and what he did, wouldn’t seem so bad. I said no to that very quickly because the last thing I want do is 1. be around him and 2. make him look better.

      In addition to the financial benefit to them that you covered well, they also benefit from our ability to plan an event or purchase a present that the kids would like or enjoy because we put effort into those things and they don’t.

  • “Why do you think pretending to respect people you don’t respect is okay? Does that align with your values?”

    THIS ^^^^^^ What more can be said! Thanks CL

  • I think many of us here have been through this and you get caught up in the “for the children” bullshit or they try to convince you that you need to be nice to them “for the children” or “don’t fight in front of the children.” Soooo much bullshit. Too much bullshit.

    I just had to flat out tell mine I don’t want to play happy family since we are not a happy family.

    • Children typically want what the rest of us want–the truth (though perhaps in small doses). They are comforted by an accurate portrayal of the world, as we are. Anything else is gaslighting.

  • I don’t have kids, but I did get the clear message that I would be the bad guy if I wasn’t able to put the past in the past and be friends. I did try. In the end, I realized I simply can’t ask myself to allow a soul-crushing monster to stay in my life.

    I won’t pretend I have any idea what it’s like to go through this with kids. I do agree with those who say you don’t owe a soul-crushing monster any active support of his parenting. You owe your kids a mom who doesn’t tear their dad down. You don’t, however, owe their dad any confidentiality about the basic facts, nor do the kids deserve any dishonesty from you. And I agree that supporting your own safety is great life modeling for the kids.

    Hang in there!!!

  • You don’t want to set a bad precedent either. When jackass POS ex showed up to our daughter’s college graduation with skank OW and the rest of the immoral ex Outlaws and sat near me and my family I GOT up and MOVED. Fuck that noise. The children need to know that it is never okay to sell out. (Oh yeah this is the same Father that stole this daughters college fund to finance trip with AP to Florida). Shut that NOISE down. Every thing CL said. You eliminate toxic, you don’t invite it into your one precious life.

    • What a nerve showing up to the graduation with the OW, that I am assuming is the one he spent the college savings on, and then has the audacity to think you’ll play nice. So important to lead by example and show your kids that bad behavior is not to be tolerated, ever.

  • Its been almost a year since I divorced. Been having dinner with the cheater ex and my 19 year old son when he comes home from college. At first it was good for me to see her because it reminded me what a pita she had become. Recently decided it sends a mixed message that I somehow accept her poor behavior. No more “family dinners” for me. Her bf can have her and I will go out with my son on my own.

  • I agree.

    I think there’s a big difference between telling your children that you’re divorced because Daddy wanted to have lots of girlfriends and telling your children that Daddy is a Craigslist cum-sucking sonofabitch. Your children get to navigate their own relationship with their father. You can’t control that part, nor should you. If their father is a wonderful, dependable dad who eventually marries a nice woman who genuinely likes your children and parents them well–that’s great! If their father continues to be a narcissistic asshole who uses his kids to triangulate his ex-wife and his Craigslist skanks, that sucks, but you don’t have to make any excuses for him.

    For what it’s worth, my XH and his brother are both cheaters and sons of a cheater. Their mother loathed the OW, but insisted that her sons respect their father and play nice with him. She let him stay at the house on the weekends. The lesson her sons learned was that it was okay to cheat, that the mom would put up with it.

    You surely have a custody arrangement set up. Go as no contact as you can (check out Gray Rock in dealing with narcissists). Talk to your X about picking up and dropping off the kids. That is it. You are only 6 months out of divorce, so he’s still interested in his image.

    If the kids ask you why you and daddy don’t have holidays together, you can explain the divorce and the reason in age-appropriate ways. Your XH will flip, as he will see this as a threat to his image.

    Fuck him.

    All you need to do is be an awesome mom to your children, and to adhere to the terms of the custody arrangement. You don’t owe your XH anything in the way of “family.” If family were that important to him, he’d not be trolling craigslist.

  • So many great memories of my twenty eight year relationship with the Disordered, our wonderful marriage, our three beautiful children, him “at the club” 24/7 prioritizing racquetball and his dick over everything else, then his affair, the whole devalue, distancing, and divorce thing…NOT. Why spend. one. minute. more…? Another reason to kick that waste of humanity to the curb.

  • You guys are probably sick of my long stories, but there’s another reason to avoid playing friends with an ex, although this one only applies with the really disordered types. Sometimes, they want to stay “friends” to fuck with you and hurt you worse.

    I kept on doing activities and family things with my ex during the many months our divorce was in progress. This was right after I ended the bogus reconciliation. We did many fun, family things together, and I admit, inside I was still sucking the hopium pipe, still praying ex would somehow “come to his senses” and realize that he wanted to be with me (yes, I know, total insanity, but I know you guys get it.)

    He would be so friendly and fun when we were together, but then he wouldn’t bother to communicate with me between those times. So I’d be confused and angry at myself, and I’d know I needed to stop seeing him, but I was still wishing so hard that we could work it all out and cancel the divorce. He continued to wear his wedding ring during this entire time, which made me even more hopeful and confused.

    This continued for nearly six months, until the night before what would have been our 22nd anniversary. He texted me asking if I wanted to go to breakfast the next day (on our anniversary.) A part of me jumped in joy, thought for sure he was going to say he loved me, didn’t want to lose me, let’s stay together. But a smaller, sane voice inside told me, “Don’t do it.” Thank God, I listened to that voice and told him no thanks.

    Next day, on the “anniversary,” I had a lengthy message from him saying that he was taking off his wedding ring, changing his Facebook status to single and would be posting pictures of himself with girlfriends on Facebook, so would that be awkward for me?

    BAM!! I can’t tell you all how that hurt. But my eyes opened wide, and I suddenly understood exactly what game he had been playing. It had been his intention all along — he knew how to play me like a fiddle. Give me just enough attention and flirtiness to keep me on the line, build up my hopes, play on my insecurities… then WHAM! wipe me out on a day that had tremendous significance…. our anniversary. He had set me up so that he could “dump me” in a way that hurt the most. This was his revenge for the fact that I had been the one to go ahead with the divorce. He must have been so disappointed when I didn’t agree to meet him for the breakfast. He would have enjoyed seeing my face when he delivered his “surprise.” Instead, he had to settle for doing it through an email.

    I had been very foolish to stay on such friendly terms with him, I basically handed him the knife to stab me.

    • Oh GIO, that sounds so awful. It reminds me of the time I left a “last valentine” for my ex right after we separated. I’d met him 36 years before on Valentine’s Day when I was 16 at a church dance. I left a card with his favorite candy bar all tied up in a ribbon, I wrote a heart felt note inside. Guess what? Later that night I received an email from him with a list of how he thought we should split up our assets. No acknowledgement of the card, nothing. Happy Valentine’s Day to me. I remember thinking, “Well, that’s the story of our marriage. I try to connect, show compassion and vulnerability, and he answers with a cold-hearted list.” It was like his heart had turned to stone and he had become an alien.

      • I know it hurts but its better to be a vulnerable, feeling, complete person than an empty void. Pity him. He pathetic.

      • Lyn, I totally understand. These disordered types love to hurt us.

        During the last few years of marriage, I used to write my ex little love notes on small squares of red paper, and then leave them in different places for him to find: in his coat pocket, in the fridge, on his car, etc. He had a large stack of these notes, he kept them in his dresser. During the nightmarish five months I had to stay living with him after Dday, shortly before I moved out, I walked into my bathroom one day and found all of those little red notes dumped in MY bathroom trash can, on top of scooped out cat shit from the nearby cat box. Ouch.

        • GIO, your stories will always be a highlight here. Your ex”s fuckedupedness is often, sadly, entertaining. But your insight, sense of humor and and awareness of said fuckedupedness is a huge help to other chumps. This story, and the other about the notes and the cat litter, make me what to pound his face in.

          • Agree. If I could be given Tony Soprano privileges for a day, with permission to beat the bejeezus out of 5 cheater ex-spouses from CN and leave them in the New Jersey Pine Barrens, GladItsOver’s X would be top o’ the list. TheMuse’s and RockStarWife’s Xs would be next….still considering the last 2 slots.

              • Tessie’s would have been #1 had he not already killed himself. Maree’s X is a bastard, to be sure, but there’s a lot of competition for cruelest spouses–Friend’s X refuses to let her see her children, Lina’s issued some pretty devastating emotional abuse on his way out, Dat’s framed her for domestic violence, and whose X held her hostage for a day at gun/knife point until she screamed as the paramedics next door left their house for work? So many jerks, so little time.

    • GIO – never fear – I’m never ‘sick of your long stories’. 🙂

      I totally get how and why you were smoking the hopium pipe and seeing the (deliberate) signs that the ex was smoking the hopium pipe too. My God, I got played those games too. All completely deliberate, completely mindful of the significance we’d have placed on them; wearing the wedding ring, enjoying fun times, then the drawing away, no contact, then the Hey, I’m back and I’m loving being with you! A total mindfuck, and meant to be. Thing is, nothing in my life had ever prepared me for dealing with someone like this, and I’m willing to guess, you were just as clueless! ChumpLady and Chump Nation should be a compulsory PSA throughout the world. It’s only when I found this place that the penny finally dropped and I found out there’s a playbook somewhere these lunatics refer to!

      I am so, so glad you turned him down for that ‘anniversary’ breakfast (hurrah for self-preservation)! Evil bastard! I’m sure your heart must have broken and the shock must have been dreadful, I’m so glad he didn’t get to delight in seeing your pain.

      Keep those ‘long stories’ coming! 😀 xx

    • Seriously, what is with them wanting to “go out” for defunct anniversaries? About a month after we went to (divorce) court, the ex asked me to join him for dinner for our anniversary? Hello? Doesn’t the divorce make that anniversary is not an anniversary?

      I was doing the “be nice thing” because he owed me quite the bit of money for the divorce settlement which I was going to get in the form of a QDRO once our divorce was final. I thought I had to play nice and do the consciously uncoupled thing until I got my money but the anniversary invitation sent me over the edge.

      I contacted our mediator and asked him if there was any way the ex could renege on my divorce settlement. He assured me that would only happen if fraud could be proved; not if he was mad that I didn’t want to hang out with him on an anniversary that didn’t exist.

      I told ex-asshat no thanks to the anniversary dinner. This was good because like you GIO, I’m quite certain if I showed up he was going to drop the bomb (in public) that he was back with the OW who he supposedly had no contact with for three years. (They were married months later)

      Best to get off that crazy train immediately after you move out!

    • Even though I don’t post very often, I do read most of the posts here. I get stronger every day by hearing your stories. But SOME days I feel as though I am back to square one and not being able to move toward MEH! One of the mistakes I make is DOING family things together. At first I was in NC but as my heart softened and I started to forgive (for my own sanity) I allowed and even encouraged Family Time. I can never find clarity while he remains in my life and I want to thank you all for reminding me of that FACT!!

  • Recently my 28 yo son asked whether I ever talked to his dad. I said, “Uh, no. I’ve texted him just a few times, like when our dog passed, but that’s it.” My son answered, “He still has the same phone number” which I guess means he thinks I should give him a call. I think he just really wishes he had an intact family again, and I was sad for my son when he said that. (Ex left after our kids finished college). But there’s no way I’m going to try to have a “relationship” with my ex. I wasted too may years of my life doing that. I’m done.

    • Unfortunately, I don’t think children ever really get rid of that longing no matter how old they are.

      My grandmother was the town bicycle.

      My mother still wanted her dad (was he her dad?….I wonder) to stand next to her in my wedding pictures!
      I had to tell her to leave Grandpa alone! He can stand where he wants.

      • They do. I’m speaking from experience. I want nothing to do with my father. Ever again.
        And I didn’t from the moment he made a phone call to my mum saying that he was ‘pursuing a relationship with someone else’ and wasn’t coming back (PS: He was fucking this woman for years before this phone call).
        Fuck ‘longing’ – I never had it, and its disgusting to even think that.

        • Likewise. Living through the experience of my mom breaking free from my awful dad was inspiring to me. I couldn’t possibly wish him back into my mother’s life for even a millisecond, knowing what he did and knowing what he’s always been like. And it wasn’t just his cheating around as much as the daily grind of mean, nasty, selfish, misogynist pig shit treatment he dealt out to mom (and also to my sister and I). Wishing my birth family to be intact again is ludicrously comic. Voicing such a thing would not only be the biggest insult and injury to my poor mother but would be tantamount to me ripping off my own arm and beating myself up with it.

    • Lyn, my chikdren know the Limited is toxic and I can have NO contact. My preference is that he stays far away from all of us. He is not allowed in my house and cannot pull into my driveway.
      The limited made the choice to abandon his children. There are no truer words than I made him look good. The three if them are in agreement he is Unrecognizable and the entitlement and rage are everpresent. He can’t pull off being a parent.

  • @Glad—ouch ouch ouch. Sorry that you endured that and know that we don’t roll our eyes with ‘oh, here goes Glad again with one of her long stories’ 😉 Keep ’em coming!

    The XBF was a master of doing things at specific times that were obviously devised for the most dismissive and painful impact. These shit bags are evil, no other word for it.

    On another note, I urge everyone to go to the Forum and add your contributions to the Valentine’s Day ‘sweethearts sentiments’ post. It is hysterical and sooo cathartic!

  • The biggest gift I can give my preschool age son as he grows up is clarity. His father never gave it to me, and he will never give it to our son. I don’t want my son to have to eventually crash head-on into a truth that he did not know or expect. I will not screw with his reality, I will not allow him to believe lies or half-truths out of convenience, and I will not confuse obfuscation with protection. I value authenticity in others and in myself, even when it’s not pretty, and I intend to model it in words and actions for my son.

    • Clap. Clap.Clap.

      This exactly, “I will not screw with his reality, I will not allow him to believe lies or half-truths out of convenience, and I will not confuse obfuscation with protection.”

  • I’,m sorry if I’m kinda, sorta off the subject, but I just received a text message from ex…..”I’ve been thinking of you.” today. WTF????? We did text about business dealings, etc…nothing personal at all. Why the fuck did he just text me that? Oh, let’s see, the fantasy bubble just burst? Were you thinking about me when she was sucking your dick? Were you thinking about me when I sat in the doctor’s office getting tested for STDs? Were you thinking about me when I sat in front of a lawyer just yesterday filing for a chapter 13 bankruptcy? FUCK HIM, FUCK HIM, FUCK HIM!!!! Thanks for letting me share! I am sooooooo grateful for CL and CN, xoxoxoxox!

    • Don’t panic FFSB. Where you see emotional torture, financial ruination and physical endangerment when you look at his impact on your life, when he looks his mind slides over all that and just sees cake, lovely cake. Give it a few moments and he’ll be distracted by a butterfly, or a big pair of boobs, or a pint of beer.

      Stay strong x

      • Jayne, So true and funny as hell! When I mentioned to my ex how I could not understand how any body making the money he does could walk out on a mortgage he could well afford he pouted, “Well, I lost it too!” Like he wasn’t the CAUSE of all. that. crap. What.a.fucking.loser. His “mind slides over that and all he sees is cake, lovely cake.” Another great reason to go as much NO CONTACT as possible. I would never entertain celebrating any special occasion “together.” My kids can have two celebrations. They get it. Even when our kids marry I will not be sitting at the same table as that POS and if someone asks me why then I will just say that I will not sit near a man who never honored marriage vows on a day our child is getting married. (This is also what new traditions are for! ? Kids respect healthy boundaries and will enjoy their day more, IMO.)

    • Vent away! Is blocking him from your phone an option? I eventually did that with the ex. I got the occasional mind fuck text, pocket dials (even from face time). I was all set. It’s been almost 2 years. If you can, I recommend that option!

    • (Sorry if this posts twice) There must be something in the air. Mine asked my daughter what he should get me for Valentine’s Day?!?!?! WTF?!?!? Um, a heart shaped box of Xanax? A time machine so I can go back and jump off that fucking speeding train to hell? He’s nuts.

      • Lol!! Heart shaped box of Xanax!!!! Me too! That was too funny. And yes, just wtf really? No thx

      • Thank goodness my STBX came to his senses and didn’t get me a Valentine’s Day present. Christmas was bad enough when he pouted for days because I told him no gifts between us. He didn’t like me telling him that when you get a divorce for your birthday you kind of wonder what kind of shitty present you’ll get for Christmas (a pregnant GF, an STD, an empty bank account …)

    • You know how a bunch of us had D-days right before our birthday? I think Valentine’s Day must bring up similar unwelcome feelings of social obligation to another human in cheaters. He’s on a fishing expedition, probably because something is expected of him and he’s looking for a reason to justify squirming out of it. I hope you ignored the text.

    • Just between us, there’s a good reply to that.

      “Well I thought of you too this morning. I was reminded of you while I was in the shower washing myself all over. I was thinking what a c**t you are.”

  • I was 11 when my mom and serial cheater dad originally separated. He decided he wanted to come back around and play Family Guy a while too. I didn’t say it out loud but inside I seethed, knowing all the falseness that was going on. It sucked. He sucked. He still sucks. Was relieved Mom ended it once and for all when he let his mask slip (as they always do in the end, right?).

  • Not A Family, your so-called husband didn’t even make it a couple of years as a Daddy without cheating? And you had twins? Wow, he really, really has problems controlling himself! And is a total ingrate! I think you are making a big mistake spending any time at all with him. Try to take better care of yourself right now, you need to re-group and heal. He will not help you, because he’s a colossal fuck-up! How could any Dad have so little compassion for two really little sons? Once again, my mind is boggled here.
    Please make your OWN Easter, Xmas, 4th of July fun, you and the boys and whoever else you want around you that actually helps you- NOT this big ass betrayer, Humph!
    My own father ditched my Mom when she was in her 50’s, for a Ho-worker. She moved across the country to get away from him and the horrible pain. He couldn’t stand the loss of control, and I remember this really weird visit he made to us (me, Mom, and my little sister). He just had to fly out, and see where we lived, and check it all out. They can’t stand the idea that for the discarded, life goes on, and we have to make something new, and it does not include them! I wish she had told him to go pound sand, I think it just re-injured her.

  • Even the briefest email contact with my ex, who has essentially abandoned me and our three children, hurts me and blows my mind all at once. Why oh why would you have birthdays and holidays together? I’d never recover my balance. Not being together as a family is the whole point of being divorced. I suspect it’s a lot easier if you plan the holidays and events, and then your ex gets to sit around and manipulate your sons and everyone else with why you don’t want him there even more, he’s such a great guy and all. Shut that shit down. As my oldest son said to me post-D-Day: “We’re still a family, he’s just not in it anymore.”

    • Kelly, Ain’t that the truth! “We are still a family, he’s just not in it anymore.” Thing is Mr. Cheaterpants spent years setting up his double life and then his exit from ours. When our kids hit high school each year he was less and less involved. Attended a few games with our eldest, participated in coaching with our middle, and practically nothing with our youngest. It really fucks with their heads. We were all clueless. I remember how all our children used to come running to him the moment he came through the door after work, for a long time he was our whole world….

  • Dear Not a Family,

    You’re right. You’re not a family with your ex-thanks to your ex. You are not petty for not wanting to hang with him for Christmas or “adopt a family?” (What the hell does that even mean?)You don’t have to do ANYTHING with him anymore. That’s the beauty of divorce. I would suggest that you cut out the birthdays, Easter and Halloween too. Your kids can have two celebrations for those events.

    You are under no obligations to him to be anything other than civil. I also agree that you shouldn’t say negative things about him to your children or while they’re anywhere in ear shot distance. It’s a professional relationship now, much like you’d have with your tax person or the plumber. I’m nice to people I’m professional with, but I wouldn’t say I respect them so much. I don’t know them well enough to respect them. And even though I know the ex I don’t respect him at all. Why would I when he did so much to disrespect me? That’s not part of your job description either.

    A lot of people have mentioned it but it bears repeating: He’s just doing that whole impression management thing that the disordered do. If you hang around with him, you’re telling the rest of the world that what he did wasn’t so bad. After all, if you can forgive him and be friends, then everyone else should too.

    Let him manage his own time with his kids. If you’re worried that he won’t spend time with him because you’re not arranging everything, then that’s his loss. It’s no longer your job to manage his relationship with his children. Just follow the court mandated custody arrangement which I’m quite sure says nothing about spending time with your cheater ex!

    You are mighty. You dumped him right away!! I cannot even tell you how awesome that makes you. Now you just have to cut the cord completely where spending time with him is concerned! You got this girl!

  • Not a Family, CL as usual says all that needs to be said. But think of it this way: your ex didn’t want to be around for real life–for the days when both twins are sick, or outgrow their shoes at the same time, or for watching the kids so you can go grocery shopping or get your hair cut or even a pedicure. He didn’t want the empty the dishwasher, throw the clothes in the dryer, cook dinner three nights a week, or cut the grass. He didn’t want to read bedtime stories or provide discipline when needed or take the kids to the playground.

    What he wants is for your to do the work of the celebrations and he gets to come to the party on birthdays and holidays. And make you the bad guy for him not living at home while he carries on with other women.

    You need that like you need gangrene.

  • Stop assisting his image management. He sacked you from your position as his personal assistant when he sacked the skanks off Craigslist. Stop it, build some kick ass boundary fences and move on.

    My Xh was an absolute cunt ( first time I have used that word) two days before our eldest DD’s 12 birthday, texted demanding I provide him to her with her siblings, the youngest sick on chemo for either lunch or dinner. No respect or consideration that plans were already made, or that he had arranged a party the following weekend at a hired venu on his weekend inviting all her friends but insisting she not tell me. No I was just suppose to provide what he wanted. When I stood up for myself he as usual turned it back on me, that I clearly hadn’t changed my stripes AKA I was still not behaving like a submissive wife. Fuck that.
    You are no longer married to this fool. You are clearly a strong person putting him out and filing takes strength, so stop putting up with this shit. Be honest with yourself, your kids and your ex and start living life your way.
    Recently the kids and I moved from our family home of 16 yrs to a rental. My dumbass Xh has not bothered to ask for the new house number so instead he calls my mobile every day. And leaves a voice message, same shit each time ” hi Thankful, Pricilla (queen of the desert) here could you please ask the kids to call me back” I do. Sometimes they do more often they don’t but that is because they too are sick of being dragged into his image control that will include them all being in his wedding party in less than a months time. Yes my gay Xh has convinced another woman to marry him. Good luck to her. But my point is your kids will not always be little (DD is almost 14 and counting the days till she can decide if she goes to her father or not) how much of your life are you willing to burn. To endorse your ex’s games.
    Don’t be cake, be mighty.

  • You encourage us to be clear about the reasons for splitting up, and I agree it is a mind spin for the kids to not be given age appropriate reasons, but the courts, at least in many U.S. states, also greatly frown upon parental alienation in any form. How can you be clear on your position for the kids and not get painted as alienating your children from their dad?

    • Fair question. While hard to see how the truth, briefly stated, could be used against a parent, I’ve heard of too many instances of judicial ignorance and malfeasance to believe that can’t happen. The tactic I’ve suggested above–let the kids ask questions, only respond no to false answers, and then refuse to respond when they hit the nail on the head, means you have not given a response for a judge to jump on. You didn’t say anything.

  • NaF,
    CL’s advice, as usual, is spot on.
    Please, for the sake of your sanity and safety, don’t play family charades anymore. How do I know that this is a bad idea?…. I played for about two years and it ended very poorly. It gives your cheater a sense of ongoing ownership, control and entitlement in your life. After two years of making nice (being his doormat) while he carried on with skank, I finally gained enough strengh after reading here to enforce boundaries and go no contact as much as is possible with two kids. I started adhering to our custody arrangement instead of allowing him to pick up/not pickup the kids whenever he wanted.
    Here’s how it went….my “law enforcement professional-pillar of the community” stbxh became very threatened by my new boundaries and backbone and could see that I was no longer going to be under his control. As much as he is a raging narc/self absorbed asshole, he has never in 20 years been physically violent. He showed up at my house under the pretence of dropping things off for the kids. I let him in and he proceeded to scream at me/verbally abuse me, make fists in my face, accuse me of trying to keep the kids from him. He generally became completely unhinged and out of control. All of this in front our our two teens who were crying and yelling for him to “just get out of here, Mom didn’t do anything”. He finally stormed out after I told him to leave or I would call the police….his colleagues…how nice. He left.
    We were terrified. I knew he would not be back that night as he knew very well that, given these new/annoying boundaries, would call. I knew that once he was outside he would very quickly see that he did wrong. He has extensive training in domestic violence. I spent the night awake figuring out what to do and decided to take the advice that I would give my best friend. I had to take action to demonstrate to my kids that this shit should never happen and when it does, you protect yourself. This behaviour is NEVER ok.
    The next morning, I called Government’s Victim’s Services Department (more of his colleagues) and filed a report detailing the incident. I could sense that they were in shock when they heard his name but they were extremely professional and very helpful. They advised me to call my lawyer immediately. I then called my pit bull lawyer who promptly contacted stbxh’s lawyer and shut down all of this shit IMMEDIATELY. Stbhx has a lot to lose (including his high profile awesome guy community image) and I am not in charge of his image management anymore. He now has a “tail between the legs” approach with me and has NEVER behaved in such a way again. His lawyer has clearly outlined for him what such behaviour will bring him. He would be fired from his awesome guy law enforcement job and face possible criminal charges.
    This Christmas I told him that he was no longer invited here to celebrate any Holidays- EVER. “What will I do… Where will I have dinner?….this will upset the kids”…. My response…. “What you do is of no consequence to me, maybe skank’s family would invite you over for dinner, the kids will not be upset- they asked me to not invite you over, they don’t want you in this house anymore”.
    Not a Family, shut this down now. I know that it’s not easy…. We are chumps, we want to be nice and put others before ourselves. Fight that urge, let him figure out how to manage his awesome dad image on his own. You and your children ARE a family. Please, take it from someone who learned the hard way.

    • My ex too is that Mr. Big Muckety-Muck and when he vandalized our family home (this two years after he moved out and to screw with my financial incentive to relocate which he expected to share…uh. NO) I spoke to the local cops. He returned the stuff. What a piece of shit!

    • “What will I do… Where will I have dinner?” These sentences, right here, give the game away. It’s all about him. Poor sausage, what will he do?

  • NaF, the only occasions you should ever share with your ex are your children’s graduation ceremonies and weddings.

    THAT’S IT.

    As long as you’re sharing birthday and holidays with him, and going along with his charade of being of family, you will never be a 100% at MEH.

    Oh but what about the children, you say? You’re sending mixed messages about boundaries and self-respect, and keeping hope alive that you’ll be home big happy family again. They’re going to treat every new man that comes into your life as an interloper because, unlike Dad who cycles through women like laundry, your future relationships are likely to be SERIOUS.

    You’re also not allowing any room in your heart for a future partner. There aren’t going to be that many guys who want to share Thanksgiving turkey with an ex-husband, especially if they know that he’s a cheater.

    • And just to add, what message will you be sending to future partners if you so willingly break bread and include him in family celebrations? That message will be that you don’t think that cheating is dealbreaker, that someone could cheat on you and still have a secure place in your life and your home.

    • This is a great point. Speaking as a guy, there’s no way I’d be willing to entertain someone’s ex at family/holiday times; it screams codependent issues. I also wouldn’t want to subject any romantic interest of mine to my ex and her craziness, either, and I wouldn’t expect them to want to put up with that.

  • My situation is different, because my children were older when the divorce finally happened, but I made a list of the occasions where “family time” was inevitable: 3 more weddings and 1 last college graduation. Surrounding these occasions, and 2 have passed, I attend and I’m pleasant. I smile a lot and look happy because I am. My two children who married already told their father he was not allowed to have a guest (we were still married for the first wedding in 2011). Luckily, he didn’t sneak one in.

    For the years it took to get the divorce, with my XH stalling and failing to resolve simple financial matters, he was able to play me for years with the back and forth, pretend we’re a happy family. Thanksgiving and Christmas because it “looks good” for him. No more.

    I have my family. Me and four children and two of their spouses. He’s not in it. He left.

  • NaF,

    Chump Lady is right, and IMO you’re situation is wayyyyy too much of a “family/co-parenting” situation!

    Cut it off, stop it. Do not allow him to control the narrative any longer. You need to set those boundaries now and let your children know why. If need be, if you have a counselor or children’s therapist can assist you in explaining to the kids truthfully and yet appropriately.

    When my ex- first left, and our daughter would cry or ask for him, I would tell her straight up, “Daddy’s not here anymore. He left honey, you’ll see him soon.” and leave it at that.

    Be mighty!

  • Pre-D Day, guess who was in charge of organizing all parties and family celebrations? Yep, you guessed it, me!

    Post-D Day and separation, I read all I could about co-parenting and believe that, to young kids, the more parties, the better. My munchkin is still in elementary school, so since separating and divorcing from the X, I have been drumming up that one of the few advantages of divorced parents is that she gets twice as many parties as the other kids.

    Two birthday parties, two Xmas parties, two Easter Celebrations, two summer holidays, etc. My kiddo’s friends and their parents have been amazing at showing up at my kid’s parties whether they are hosted by me or the X.

    I have been doing my part for over a year now, building memories with my kiddo as we celebrate our lives’ big events. I don’t cover up for her dad, and guess who has been slowing down on delivering on the second parties? Shocker…

  • I have been battling this issue out with my adult son for a yr now. I have been divorced for 4 yrs now due to my husband’s affair. I have a son and a daughter. After the divorce my son never had contact with his father for 3 yrs. I have been my son’s “money train” for most of is life. I finally put my foot down and said, “No more.” Told my son he was on his own as far as money issues. My son turned 30 this yr. I have put my son back on his feet at least 4 plus times. My son has not had contact with me since I cut him off. He instead befriended his father and the OW. I have problems with the OW showing up on my property. Last time was Nov 2015 and she was taking pictures of my land. Soon after the County Zoning man shows up due to a complaint filed. I believe my son is giving the OW information on what I’m doing and building on my land. My son lives in the same state and city I do. His father and OW live 2 1/2 hours away in another state. Hurts me to no end that I have had to cut all contact with my son. My son ended up in the hospital near Christmas time. I dropped everything and went to visit him. He called my daughter just yelling that she told me he was there.

    My daughter has not had contact with her father in 4 yrs. My son asked her for money help after I stopped giving it. He has burned his bridges with her also. My son owes me thousands of dollars. His father has given him nothing through the yrs. Pisses me right off that the OW uses my son for a funnel for information. She is all “Happy, Happy” there is a split between us. I’m at the stage of No contact for the duration to protect myself. Not happy about it but I see no other way at this time.

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