Were it not for your blog I would have been struggling through the “pick me dance” and following the misguided self-destructive teachings of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex. I happened upon you shortly after I discovered (after having a bad feeling) that my STB-binge drinking-XH had secured himself a “wealthy” (his own words) girlfriend.
Back in March, 2015 he had told me that he thought that we should separate; that WE weren’t getting along; that he wasn’t happy; that he felt like a failure in his career; etc. At that time, I found the Divorce Busting website, bought the books, did the 180 and paid for coaching from the staff to try and save the marriage. We would have been married 10 years this coming summer and we have two girls, ages 5 and 8.
I told him that I would give up my own career for him; that we would return to his home town (he works for his father); and that he and his career would be the priority. And we had many long talks about this; how we would plan our life; how the girls would be educated. And I truly believed that everything was going to work out between us. We had sex only once since that day in March but we still slept together and kissed and hugged and all of that. And then one morning, I threw my arm across him and felt a shudder of revulsion.
I grew uneasy and checked his phone that night — something that I never ever do. And I found all of their emails dating from February, 2015 — starting during our family ski holiday. I found trip confirmations to Rhode Island, Bermuda, Orlando, and New York City. I read intimate conversations of how they missed each other, how they looked forward to road tripping together (all car expenses on the joint credit card), and how he planned to buy a sailboat so they could sail together (he and I met sailing).
I never confronted him. There was no point as they had been together so long. All of 2015 he had been gone extensively to his hometown claiming that he had to work more there; that his presence was essential. He did not spend a single weekend at home the entire 4th quarter of 2015. I did not then realize that he was spending that year securing his relationship with this wealthy woman.
I got a lawyer right away, prepared all my documentation, and served him in his home town as soon as they got back from their New York City getaway. Right before I served him, I told my girls the bare truth. That their father had found a girlfriend and had left me so I was divorcing him. They were devastated.
I had hoped that he would remain with her if he got served in his home town. His wealthy girlfriend is divorced herself with 4 children of her own. He spent most of 2015 courting her and establishing his relationship with her and her children. So I felt that he would remain with her.
Not so. He returned to our house and refuses to leave. He is on title and his lawyer told him he has a right to be here as he has a home office here. My lawyers told me that, unfortunately, I cannot throw him out or change the locks unless he threatens me or hits me. So he comes and goes as he pleases.
I was a screaming banshee when he first returned — kept telling him to go back to her and his new family and my children were hysterical. They kept crying at me to “STOP being so mean to Daddy!!!!” So I stopped and am now civil but distant. We do meals together, but I focus conversation toward the children. I accept any help with them that he offers, but as soon as they are in bed I shut myself in what used to be our bedroom upstairs and do not engage further with him.
That being said, he comes at me over and over whether I am upstairs in my room, downstairs on an exercise machine, in the laundry room dealing with dirty/clean clothes, anywhere in the house really, badgering and harrassing me about the divorce process. On and on about the lawyers taking all our money, how we should just settle this between us.
He is fighting me for custody of the girls. Over X-mas and the Martin Luther King, Jr. holiday weekend I attempted to be reasonable and allowed him to travel to his hometown with them. Against my wishes (which were expressed to him through my lawyer’s letters on both occasions), he has taken them to his girlfriend and bolted them onto her 4 children. They are dazzled by her wealth and the lifestyle of her children. Indoor pool, arcade, high end mini-van with DVD projection system. Her children share a TV on wheels. Each one gets a turn per night. My girls share a bedroom with her 2nd oldest daughter. The wealthy girlfriend buys them things — shopkins, blankets, stuffed animals etc. So my lawyers have told him that he is no longer has my consent to travel with them until the divorce is final.
This Easter weekend, my sister and her family are coming for a visit. I plan activities with friends and schedule fun for my girls as though he is not around as I never know when he will be here. Several events are already planned with my sister’s family and with friends. He announced that he was going to be around this weekend although he knew well ahead of time that they might come.
I want to tell him that he cannot drive anywhere with me and the girls. If he wants to come along to any activities he will have to drive himself. I worry that the girls will want him to come in our car and will be very upset with me if I tell them no way — your father has a girlfriend and we do not do activities together. They are so happy when we sit down together at meal times. I grit my teeth through meals — maybe I should not be eating with him?? I am so stressed but I intend to stand my ground with them and with him. But then he could turn around and tell me that I can’t take them on the outing with their cousins as he can no longer travel with them.
I fear that this weekend will turn all ugly because he is here and my sister is coming. He is in this house only to get back at me (character disordered). He is using the girls as he knows that he can get to me through them.
My lawyers have the separation agreement ready to serve to him and his lawyer. The divorce process is moving, but I have been told by my lawyers that the home is likely one of the last things that gets settled if we cannot mediate this issue ahead of the court’s timing.
Please will you give me some guidance on how to manage this situation particularly for Easter when the girls will be with their cousins? How can I stop being forced to play Happy Family for my children? How can I make them see that his priority is his new family with his wealthy girlfriend and NOT them?
Wanting to Be on the Other Side
I’d be a screaming banshee too if I had to live with a flamboyant cake-eating asswipe like your husband.
That said, the law takes a dim view of screaming banshees (you don’t want any protection from abuse orders placed on you), so let’s game out some other options here.
First off, accept that enforcing your boundaries of No Faux Happy Family is going to upset your daughters. That’s a boundary. When you enforce one, you have to let go of the consequences. You don’t get to control those. You only get to control you. So that means yes, your daughters may get angry, and yes, your cheater may retaliate. Still, STAY STRONG. It is imperative that you enforce boundaries now and model self-respect and resiliency to your girls. Do you want them to grow up thinking cake-eating is an acceptable lifestyle? Men get wives AND girlfriends! Eat the shit sandwich! Or do you want them to be boundary-enforcing badasses? Be the woman you want your daughters to grow up to be — a boundary-enforcing badass.
Speaking of boundaries — STOP EATING DINNER WITH HIM. He doesn’t get to share a table with you. He lost that privilege when he fucked Ms. Moneybags and told you he wanted a divorce. If he elbows his way into dinner time, tell him to leave. He sits down anyway? You leave the table. He can do the washing up, asshole. He wants to know when dinner is? Don’t tell him. Again, these are boundaries — ENFORCE THEM.
Enforcing boundaries doesn’t make you an asshole. You know what makes you an asshole? Batter-ramming other people’s boundaries. Being a cake-eater who would rather scar his children with his mindfuckery makes you an asshole. You, Wanting, are not an asshole. You are a woman in crisis. Find your inner Celtic warrior princess and ride headlong into this battle. (Imagine lopping off his head the next time he mentions lawyer expenses.)
If he’s going to insist on living with you until the bitter end, remind him every day he chose the wrong woman to fuck with.
Get a sharpie and write that on your arm, to remind you when he’s trapping you in the coat closet trying to bully you into a favorable settlement — you picked the wrong woman to fuck with, Loser.
Document every single craptacular thing he does. (Brings the kids over to the OW for overnights? I’m sure the judge will love that. Blows huge marital resources on fuckfest weekends? Awesome!) Leave the leveraging to the lawyers. (And I hope you chose some really aggressive ones versed in personality disorders.) Think of your job as anthropological researcher — you’re documenting his bullshit, not partaking of it.
I know it is incredibly difficult, but try to get emotional distance from this asshole. He is living to antagonize you now, for kibbles and centrality — and most of all, for tactical advantage. To strong arm you into accepting any settlement just to be rid of him.
My first ex-husband did this, and it was the longest 6 months of my life. But it was finite. And I did wind up throwing a ton of money at him to make him leave, which in retrospect was a mistake. A judge would’ve awarded me far more, but I was weary and had no idea how to navigate this crap. I found then pretending to go along and let him show up for dinners (like a terrible, mooching roommate) was the WRONG strategy. It just emboldened him. Being a screaming banshee in my case (and I don’t recommend that) worked better. When I started enforcing consequences — like a temporary support order — it wasn’t so much fun for him. He has to pay the mortgage? Waah! Also reminding him that all that money I was going to give him to settle, and retirement I was going to waive, and all that? Fuck it. I could spend it on suing his ass in court instead.
The disordered can sense chumpdom, but they can also sense immovable boundaries. When there are no more kibbles, when you truly don’t give a fuck anymore, when they actually fear for a moment that you’ve gone insanely Celtic warrior princess and might be a crazy bitch who lops off their head? They tend to slunk away to chumpier pastures.
Remember — this situation is FINITE. He can’t force you to stay married to him. Do not be a party to cake eating. Here’s some pointers to get you through this nightmare meanwhile.
Don’t talk to him. Absolutely refuse to have ANY discussion with him about lawyers and settlements. Be a robot. “All those discussions must be directed to my lawyer.” He becomes a screaming banshee? Get away from him. Failing that, agree with everything he says. “You’re going to bankrupt us! You’re going to spend the children’s college funds! You’re a terrible person!” Yes. Yep. Uh-huh. No emotion. No engagement. No kibbles.
Practice your boundary scripts. Why are you being so mean to Daddy? Stay on MESSAGE. “Honey, I know it’s a sad time. Daddy and I are divorcing, because he has Ms. Moneybags, his girlfriend. You can’t have a girlfriend and a wife.” Or “Divorce means Daddy is still your daddy, but we aren’t a family any more. We don’t do Easter, birthdays, dinner together.”
Practice your boundary scripts with your cheater too. “Talk to my lawyer.” Anything else — yes, even if he’s there — you communicate via email. Document, document, document.
It’s harder to manipulate you when you don’t give him the raw materials. Be a cipher. Don’t tell him ANYTHING about your plans, your hopes, your desires — if he’s disordered, he’ll do everything to thwart you. So do NOT fill him in, unless your lawyer tells you to. And then you do it by email, and cc your attorney. (It’s always harder to fuck with chumps when a lawyer is looking.) Your Easter plans? Oh hey, you don’t know yet. It’s in flux. If he calls, writes, whatever — CRICKETS. You don’t owe him an answer. Stop being nice and agreeable — he’ll use that to fuck with you.
Get great big buffers. Your sister is coming? Awesome. Can she move in? Do you have any cousins in the mob? Any friends he particularly loathes? Keep them around you as often as you can. It will keep your freak off balance. It’s much harder to do the impression management times three or four. Harder to calculate the mindfuckery. You and the kids are harder to manipulate when there are reinforcements. Get super, super active right now and surround yourself with your support system. You’re too busy for his shit.
Get support. Glad you chucked the unicorn sites — now decolonize your head from all that lousy advice. Get yourself a good therapist who will help you enforce boundaries. Hang out on our Chump Nation forums here for 24/7 support through this. You WILL get to the other side, I promise. ((Hugs)) and hang in there.