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Dear Chump Lady, My daughter considers ex’s affair partner “family”

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greatest-weekend-dad-ever-family-ecard-someecardsHi Chump Lady,

My daughter (aged 10) brought home a family tree project from school — and she said she would just include her mum, me, and her brother because there wasn’t space on the sheet to include my new wife, and my step-kids. I told my daughter that we could add a sheet. To which she replied, that she could also add her mum’s boyfriend (affair partner). To which I replied: He is not family or blood. When he marries your mother he’ll be a part of your family. Until then, he’s nothing.

She burst out crying, saying that she loves him, just like she loves my new wife.
It’s come up before, and I’ve explained why I don’t like her mum’s boyfriend — “Your mum and (AP) were dating when we were still married, and that’s not right, and that’s why you live in separate homes now.”

My daughter touched a raw nerve: I can’t accept the affair partner (AP) as part of their lives — afterall, he’s one of the reasons why I get to spend 50 percent less time with my kids. I feel zero for my ex-wife, but still have vitriol for the AP.

I don’t like upsetting my daughter. I handled it so badly with her. How do I get past my feelings of rage for the AP?

LondonChump

Dear LC,

It’s a school project, not a referendum on infidelity. Let her do it her way, and include (or exclude) anyone she wants to. At 10 years old, I probably would’ve included my stuffed animals as family and disowned my brother. If you worry that your wife will be offended at her family tree exclusion, she needs to get a tougher skin if she’s going to do this step mom gig. (A shout out to step-parents everywhere. It’s a hard job. At best you’re an inoffensive satellite. At worst, you’re a cartoon villain.)

It’s kind of you to reflexively want to include your wife and step kids, but your daughter might not be there yet. I don’t know how long ago the affair(s) or remarriage was, but I think it’s best not to push Family Unity on kids of divorce, but let them accept things over time. Think how hard it is for you to accept the dissolution of the family you thought you’d have. She’s only 10.

As long as she’s not being disrespectful, or acting out (don’t tolerate that), let her explain her family tree her way. (Technically, she’s correct, if we’re talking DNA and lineage. I’d have a different opinion if she was excluding your new family from her wedding or something.) It’s great that she loves your wife and kids. You’re way ahead there. But a lot of kids, in my opinion, cling to the false equivalency — dad’s okay! mom’s okay! Dad is happy now! Mom is happy now! It Was All For The Best. It’s one way to swallow the shit sandwich of divorce.

Frankly, cheaters peddle that Everyone Is Better For It narrative too. As if their cheating was this great benevolent act bestowed upon dim chumps. Oh thank you Omnipotent Cheater for the STDs and trust issues! Fifty percent parenting time? I never could’ve known such joy without you! As I’ve said elsewhere, this is the equivalent of a drunk driver killing your kid and then taking credit for your awesome public speaking skills at MADD rallies.

Anyway, your poor daughter is just trying to make sense of a very fucked-up situation, and she just tripped the affair partner land mine.

I feel zero for my ex-wife, but still have vitriol for the AP… How do I get past my feelings of rage for the AP?

A) Recognize the injustice that this asswipe gets to enjoy 50 percent of your parenting time, because he fucked your then-wife. I know you want to punch a wall. It’s not fair. There’s no getting around the fact that this is a great big shit sandwich and you don’t deserve it.

But LC, we have to deal with the reality we’re dealt. Tell yourself, “Yes, it’s unfair… now what?

Are you going to forbid your daughter to ever mention his name, and by doing so confer all sorts of power and centrality on this idiot? Why not trust that he sucks instead? You’ve already explained to your daughter why you don’t like him. Next time, change the subject. Deflect. Or simply shrug. “Oh, Asswipe got a new fedora. That’s nice.”

B) Trust that you’re DAD. The AP usurped your roll as husband, but he CANNOT usurp your roll as father. That love is primal. Just keep being stable, loving, and sane. And keep parenting (it’s not a democracy). The AP can keep doing whatever it is douchebags do.

C) You have a new life. Embrace it. You found love again. A new wife, step-kids who accept you. You triumphed. Your ex apparently is with an AP who hasn’t committed to her, and they both brought all their crappy character with them to their new relationship. The AP didn’t “win” anything here. He got your ex — a CHEATER. A woman who also gets 50 percent less time with her child, because she thought that destroying her family was worth it for kibbles. THAT is who you lost.

Why not rage at losing a tumor or a case of head lice?

Hang in there, LondonChump. We all stumble at this parenting gig. Just brush yourself off and get back in the game. (((Hugs)))

 

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  • I’m with you LC. I’m not at Meh because I still have that same hate. When I first discovered her affair and told my adult girls, I told them I will never be in his presence. Unless she and the AP get married, my girls will have to pick between him and me at all functions like graduations or weddings. I’ve been told it was the wrong thing to request and to let it go, but I can’t. The day will come when the injustice no longer bothers me. When that day comes, CN will never hear from me again. I will have graduated. 🙂 Until then, I come here for great advice hoping that one day it will sink in. Keep being a great dad.
    Chump Lady Rules!

    • As a fellow chump, I can completely understand your rage, and why you wouldn’t want to socialize or share holidays with your ex.

      However, I don’t think it’s fair to say that you won’t attend events that are specifically about highlighting your children’s milestones and achievements–like weddings and graduations– if their mother brings her affair partner.

      Its unfair that you have to swallow this shit sandwich every few years, but it’s also unfair that to make your kids swallow it on your behalf, too.

      • It’s so hard! I made a conscious choice one day to just let it go. The hate was hurting me. And my kids. About a year out. She was in their lives, it is what it is. And she was good to them, it could have been way worse. Well, they just broke up. Hahahahahaha! She was nice & had dropped off a present for my oldest a birthday. I texted her thank you. She said she was a mess. I just laughed. Oooooh, ya. It must be soooooo hard. Try doing it with your husband of 10 years, pregnant with a 2 & 3 year old. Idiot. But, I warned her. My d day came with the knowledge that their were 5 including her at that time, and it had been going on the whole marriage. I guess she thought she had a magic vagina. She thought wrong.

          • There must’ve been a magic vagina sale at Wal-Mart… seem to be a lot of them out there 🙂

            🙂

            • ONLY AT WALMART: Magic Vagina for just 19.99. You too can be a magical side piece and enjoy the benefits of mistress gifts and his love forever* COMING SOON: Magical Penises. Because all the ladies with poor character need a side piece too!

              *Until he upgrades to a new magic vagina in someone else. Side effects include: STDs, lies, headaches and heartache. Use at your own risk.

        • Oh my Tallula, I have to say I’m laughing my butt off. I soooo love when the karma bus strikes and the chump gets to see it!! Rock on girlfriend.

        • They always think they have a magical vagina. Always. It will never, ever happen to them because this is TRUE LOVE! hahaha…suckers!

    • and of course when you graduate, no reason you can’t stay on CL to help other struggling chumps ; ).

      • Thanks Tempest. You’re the best! I know I’ve got problems. And I know I will let them go some day. I will probably always help out here, but my dream is to be completely free of what happened (not realistic). I’ll always have hope. Thanks for the great help you provide.

        • I feel the same way toward the AP. Some pain is searing. It is ok to communicate that directly to the kids. Be upfront and honest. That is good for them to see. One day they will realize that my desire to protect the family was a good thing, and that some morals have absolutes and consequences.

        • Marked711–in a way, we will all have problems the rest of our life because of what happened to us. Even if we go on to extraordinarily healthy relationships, and get to meh, and have our new life crowd out the old, what we suffered creates a scar. It would be better not to have such as scar, EXCEPT that it can also make us more empathetic, more willing to stand up to manipulation (not only on our behalf, but on other people’s behalf, too). It can solidify our moral code and strength of character.

          By way of example–as an undergraduate, I worked with an other student who had lived through a dorm fire in which a student died. The two of us wrote a city mandatory smoke detector code for rental housing in that town, testified & got it passed by city council. I can’t imagine the horror my co-student lived through that night as he banged on doors trying to alert people to get out. And then to know that one person did not survive that fire. Yet he turned it into gold, and helped prevent any more students in rental housing from every going through that same horror.

          I assume my, and your (and everyone else’s) anger will abate over time. Perhaps, maybe, maybe, we’ll even say hello to our former spouses at weddings [but no promises ; ) ]. But I hope we all retain at least a healthy level of moral indignation for what they did to us, to societal norms, and (when relevant) to our children.

          Call it “meh” with Tabasco.

          • I love Tabasco, and I will love that kind of Meh. 🙂 But, I love even more your comment, “But I hope we all retain at least a healthy level of moral indignation for what they did to us”. Very well put. I just need to get it to healthy levels. I will get there. I know that of myself. Once I know of my problem, it will eventually get fixed. Just takes time.

        • Marked, you might think about how much your kids can gain from watching you walk through the healing process. None of us will ever be the same as we were before D-Day (and, more accurately, before the cheating, lying and gaslighting started, because even when we don’t KNOW, we know something is off).How powerful it would be to say to kids, in words and deeds, “Being apart from you really makes me feel sad (or angry) but I am OK and we will be OK together.” Or, “Your mother and AP made choices that hurt the family we had and I am still hurt and sad about that so I prefer not to see them. But I’m glad you are safe and happy when you are with them because you are the most important thing to me.” Own the pain but don’t hand them the baggage to carry.

    • I have that same raging hate for final AP OWhore, whom I thankfully never met. I refuse to tolerate interaction with her for me or my daughter. That’s partly why I live 6000 miles away from STBXH and left my whole life behind, which was a life I loved (besides appearantly being with a cheater idiot).

      Hugs! to you, you are not alone feeling this hate!!

      • Final AP OWhore is a sociopath who messed with me whilst I was unknowing and pregnant… My hate is so big… meh is far.

        I have no hate for another OW who I now think was a regular side dish for STBXH maybe for years… she is uneducated and from poor family, a golddigger… just kinda sad really.

    • Yes! I’m right there with you. We are not friends and never will be. He says it’s my fault and that he has tried to be friendly. Uhm. No. The reason we aren’t friends is because you lied and cheated. You ranted and raved when I didn’t eat your shit sandwich. The skank you cheated with and I will never be buddy buddy. You are now the sixth person (her having been divorced twice) that she has introduced to her own children saying ‘hey kids, THIS is the one. Not at meh but not raging. Just done. Deleting you from my future. No longer following by your rules.

  • My 11 yr old son has a daily agenda from school that is supposed to be signed by his parents every night. Just this past week, when I was preparing to sign it, I noticed that the prior day when he was with his father, it was signed by his father’s girlfriend. I asked why his father didn’t sign it and was told that he had to leave early for work. I commented that it is your father’s responsibility to make sure that his agenda gets signed not the girlfriends and my son said that it is okay, just as long as it is signed by a guardian….
    I pointed out that she is in no way a legal guardian to him and it is your father’s responsibility to take care of these things. This was not a “mean” conversation, just a factual one. It did piss me off that his father didn’t handle it, but what else is new – that is who he is. From a kids perspective, he just didn’t want to get in trouble for not having it signed so he made due with what he had available. I applaud my son for getting it done however, it drives me nuts with the incorrect informaiton his POS father feeds him. Legal guardian, really???? Then again, it says more shitty things about him than it does me.

    • They say parents because generally, that’s who will be there while they’re doing their homework. It’s not a legal document; it’s just making sure that someone older has overseen their homework/reading time and it’s complete.

      Sometimes, Grandma signs it. Or the babysitter. Or the afterschool aide at the YMCA program. Or their friend’s mom. Or my teenaged sister. It’s not often but it does happen when necessary.

      It totally sucks that she’s the one around to make sure his homework is done… but the point of the agenda is just an extra pull of accountability, so the school knows that someone is around to help and make sure it gets done. I know it’s irksome but it really is just about that. Maybe she DID sign it and know it would irritate the crap out of you… but don’t LET her have that power. This is insignificant, in the long run, just like she is. <3

      • I totally understand that. My point was that my son stated that she was his legal guardian and she is not. This to me solidifies that he is being told bullshit by his father and points to the continued lack of responsibility by his father.
        If it is important, they will make an effort, if not, an excuse.

        • I don’t blame you for even disliking the AP initializing it. Luckily my kids are past that. I would have lost my shit if that happened.

          • The girlfriend is not even the affair partner. Lol
            I was more pissed that my kid said she is a legal guardian….
            For me, it just shows how x passes off responsibility…..he will never change…

  • LC

    It’s bad enough you have to loose half of your time with your child. Why should he be considered family. Yet to a ten year old it’s just another part of her new life. I draw the line in what she calls him. Moms boyfriend is fine. What I would have an issue with is if she was calling him dad.

    The whore approached me and said, I’m a grandmother now. She will never be considered a grandmother to my granddaughter as she knows the difference.

    Shut sandwiches all around. Chose the boundaries YOU want to set in a way that is age appropriate and truthful.

        • Hehe, Grandfather Fucker?. He dumped his grandchild and children for a wacko and 21 months later blames me because he’s missing his family reportedly.No one buys it. I can’t protect my adult children as they can make their own decisions. My granddaughter is not associating with a woman who fucked up her only child and seeks out married men and has no class. She did approach me to make peace. No entry. Ever. I hold my ground.

          • I’m with you donna…satan is a grandpa too…and I worry about him and his hook ups bein around them will affect them… But, as we know, the disordered see nothing wrong with their behaviors…and no care about how it affects others…

            • There are many things I can’t control. I will be damned if my granddaughter will associate with a pig. Its best they keep their distance. I forwarded her arrest records to my son in law, his mother, and my daughters when my lawyer told me about her lengthy arrest record.

              • My daughter in law was just here with me all morning and, without sayin so much, she kinda said they are limiting the exposure my grandchildren have with satan and his hook ups 😀 Soothed my soul to know that. I am so glad that my children see the insanity of the situation. I’m sure yours do too.

  • LondonChump, it’s fine to let your daughter know that the AP is not family. Don’t be too hard on yourself because this touched a nerve. That’s the thing with infidelity–it touches our nerves all right. Boy oh boy, does it ever touch the nerves. It touches the nerves for a real long fucking time. My nerves are touched, numb, and shot. They’ll never be the same.
    LC, it’s horrible when our children like or accept the AP. It’s horrible when they seem to be so forgiving of the adulterer. It’s horrible when others do not seem to understand the magnitude of our devastation. There is nothing fair about any of it.
    LC, you can’t just put away your feelings for the AP. You let your daughter know how you feel about the AP. You weren’t wrong to do that.

  • LC, I teach a class in family dynamics. There really is something to the saying “a man’s home is his castle” and yours got invaded. It happened. How you deal with this for the rest of your life is going to have a profound impact on your daughter. Contrary to the crap all over the net children take years to recover from the breakup of their families. Here is where it gets tricky. Your daughter is being torn in half. She wants to protect you from pain so she allows the idea that she is doing ok to be mantra. She, biologically, needs your love and approval, and her mother’s. I hope she is in therapy. She needs to grieve to a neutral third party. She has to be happy for your sake and her mother’s. She is just trying to sort out all the new configurations. If her mother loves the guy then so should she. It is safer. If you love your new family so should she. It is safer. Stop thinking in terms of being human. Think of all of you as animals. It helps. She cannot protect herself. You have to. There is a new man in her mother’s life. He has to be loved by her to feel safe. He has to accept her for her to feel safe. She automatically “knows” her safety depends on that.
    What you and your ex need to do is make peace. As awful as that sounds you only have about a year or two to fix this. All that hidden pain and rage buried in your daughter is going to come out with the first hormone surge. At that point neither of you will have the power you do now. She will pick a set of friends who will become more important than either of you. What decisions she and those friends have about behaviors will depend on how she gets through the minefield of divorce. Help her, Dad. Allow her to love who she needs to. It truly does make all the difference in the world.

    • Let Go, I have to respectfully disagree. I think it’s reasonable to tell someone they should try to be civil to their ex in a situation like this, but have to disagree about the whole making peace bit. Making peace is for marriages where parties have just grown disinterested or “fallen out of love” with each other. Learning to become a mostly whole person after this happens to you is so beyond just being able to make peace with your ex.

      “What you and your ex need to do is make peace. As awful as that sounds you only have about a year or two to fix this. All that hidden pain and rage buried in your daughter is going to come out with the first hormone surge. At that point neither of you will have the power you do now.”

      There is no way this can be fixed. The damaged parties can learn (ideally with a lot of love and counseling) to get through and find their inner strength again someday, but I am a year out with four ranging in age from 2 1/2 to 14 and there is no fixing any of the destruction this has caused. It gets picked open during any holiday, document from school needing a parent’s signature and emergency contact, event that reminds them of when we were still a whole family or especially rough counseling session, and all three of the older kids have been in counseling since a month after D-Day. But the hurt, confusion, anger and feeling of being torn in half is still there just under the surface no matter how hard I try to keep things “normal” or to rework family traditions. Hell, I’m still not over my dad remarrying several times after he and my mom got divorced, and there was no cheating or deception going on in that situation.

      I think modeling strength, morality and standing for what’s right serves kids better than making peace you don’t really feel. I’ve had a lot of talks with my older daughter about psychologically toxic and unhealthy people and what to look for, as well as taking care of herself emotionally before she can care for someone else’s emotions in a relationship, and this has done more good than faking pleasantries or saying I feel one way when I very obviously do not.

      I’m polite to their father because they don’t need a scene, I recognize they still love him and really, it just isn’t worth my energy whenever he tries to pick a fight. But telling someone to make peace after their heart, soul, dreams and ideas of basic human decency have been doused in fuel and set alight is just unreasonable. You make peace with someone whose job got in the way of the marriage or with someone with whom you get along better as friends than as spouses. You don’t make peace with someone who does this, and the best I think any of us can hope for is meh-ness, which is still far from a peaceful, contented smile, shrug and “Ah well. Life happens but let’s move on.”

      And as a parent, when your child inadvertently steps on those still raw infidelity nerves, it is not peaceful. It hurts, particularly if you’re the one caring for them when they’re sick, helping with their homework, putting food on the table every day for them and doing all the other in the trenches labor while the other parent just breezed out of their life. If your child is comfortable enough accidentally hurting your heart this way, it tells me they’re secure and comfortable enough with you to do that because they trust you to not go off and hold it together even when they may have poured salt in the wound, and you have to handle it calmly and in an age appropriate fashion. But kids also have great bullshit detectors and I won’t sugar coat anything to spare their feelings if they have questions or need to be reminded that Daddy and I are not a family any longer because Daddy broke a vow and was keeping a girlfriend while he was supposed to be married, so now we can’t and won’t do things as a family anymore because he isn’t a part of ours any longer.

      • When I wrote “make peace” I certainly did not mean a kumbaya twinkly saccharine relationship with his ex and the AP. What I meant was keeping his anger under control. That 10 year old has no power at all. None. Her parents have it all. What she does with those surging hormones will be based on how her parents help her navigate the new life forced on her. I don’t think Chumps should ever forgive cheaters. I just think they need to leave the kids out of it. She is going to love her mother. She is going to love her father. How much better her life will be if she gets along with their partners. I do hate that we only have one word for “love”. She is not going to love that other man like she does her father but she has no other way of expressing herself. I wish cheaters understood the damn damage they inflict.

        • Let go,

          I agree that kids want to protect their own views of who they think their mother and father are.

          Many of us chumps (in not most) have been olympic-level spacklers for many years before calling it quits. To most of us, it took DDay#x, financial abuse, and many other dishes on the shit sandwich buffet for us to realize and accept that we have chosen to couple with a selfish asshat with Cluster B tendencies (or full blow disorder).

          From the stories on CN, we know that it takes a whole lot for chumps to walk away from their cheater, and divorce them, especially when they have children with their cheaters. Even worse, once the mask falls off, there is no peace to be made, the disordered is most of the time continuing the abuse by putting the kids right in the middle no matter how many qualified professionals say it is hurting their kids.

          Now comes the hard part. Think that it is rough for chumps to navigate the craziness? Truth is it is going to take even more for our kids to realize that their cheating, disordered parent is far from the ideal version they want to believe in. Kids are chumps on steroids, they are addicted to their parents’ potential, they want to believe that the grown-ups in their lives, especially the ones that are there to ensure their safety and health, are good people who love them and will protect them.

          But we all know that cheaters are not good people, and are incapable of healthy relationships. This is why the advice of most psychologists and well-meaning mental health professionals with no training in dealing with Cluster B personality disorders is doing more harm than good.

          Most well-meaning “therapists” are invalidating our kids’ perceptions, and tell their kids that both parents “love” them. This advice leads kids to believe that love is systematically putting the needs of others before their own and that suppressing their voice, that self-sacrificing is the only way to make others happy and to get love in return. That is wrong, and often leads kids to avoid developing healthy boundaries and increase their likelihood to become narc bait as grown ups.

          But all of CN can have a big impact for all our kids. We can all teach our kids to listen to their inner voice and give them permission to discover and validate the key idea that many people might use the same word (LOVE), but mean very different things when they say it:
          * To healthy people, love means to respect others, to make compromises, and to build relationships that are based on a give and take that helps the other person build their best life without systematically disregarding one’s own needs.
          * To Cluster Bs, love means “you are of use to me,” and kids get used to see “love” as a systematic devaluation of their own needs and voice.

          Remember that all our kids have been exposed to Narc-version of love, they have seen us with our narcs as they grew up within our family dynamics.

          Hence, post-divorce or separation, the biggest and most precious gift I believe I and all chumps can give our kids is to validate their perception, and tell them very clearly that we divorced because we found out that both parents did not share the same definition of love. That someone who lies to you does not love nor respect you. Making peace with someone who blew up your life? Unlikely.

          But I am learning, and yes it is a long, very very challenging journey to keep validating my kiddo’s perceptions without being charged with parent alienation, to do this by empathizing with how unfair a situation she is put in, and to model a healthy, age-appropriate parenting relationship. But I truly believe that it is the only way I and chump parents have so when they are older, our kids will parse out what type of love is worth investing more in and discern when “love” leads to unreciprocated sacrifices and systematic disregard for their needs and voice so they can walk away or limit their involvement when they can. I am also learning through all the horrendous stories from CN that I can do my best, and still are no guarantee that our kids will not grow up to be as entitled and selfish as our Xs are. But at least, I can live with the self-respect and validating pride that I am doing the best I can after being put in the no-win situation of being cheated on.

          • ^^^THIS^^^

            “That someone who lies to you does not love nor respect you. Making peace with someone who blew up your life? Unlikely.”

            My 24yo stepson and his GF have recently friended the AP on FB… yet asked me if I’m still planning a family vacation for the kids (with me and their 1/2 brother). I replied along these lines… by accepting the AP’s friendship as an adult, you are condoning the behavior. What would you do if this was your relationship that got blown up? Is THIS what you think love looks like and should be respected as such?

            • This is the part of the destruction of a family I struggle with the most. Another post recently discussed celebrations of all kinds and how children will have to adjust to “separate but equal” crap for the rest of their lives. Now, as “gray divorce” increases, infidelity also impacts grandparenting.

              If we logically agree that unsavory, immoral adulterers who inserted themselves into our families lying,cheating, and deceiving are not KIND, why would we want our children and grandchildren to spend ANY time spent with them? Would we want our little ones to hang out with the bully at school? Would we want them to model stealing, lying, from any other source? Where is the right from wrong, they made their bed now lie in it consequential thinking that allows young people to recognize how to live a good life in the future? Honoring oaths of any kind, vows and giving ones word should with follow through is how children learn to have inner strength and resiliency.

              Affair partners degrade, devalue and willingly deceive to achieve their own goals without regard for a structure that the world as a whole regards as desirable – the family. IMHO, nothing about these individuals is desirable. I don’t always have time in my life to enjoy those who are sweet, nice, fun, happy. Why would I want to spend my most valuable commodity of time on them? They teach us that No Contact would be good for everybody. All. The. Time.

    • “Stop thinking in terms of being human. Think of all of you as animals. It helps. She cannot protect herself. You have to.”

      Let go – That’s a wonderful piece of advice. LondonChump has already done the difficult job of demonstrating to his kids that you deal with cheating by calling an end to the relationship. Reinforcing that his daughter is safe is a wonderful companion to that message. My parents emphasized that I was safe, but never demonstrated that you leave a cheater to gain a life. It got very confusing.

      LondonChump – You’re already a strong dad by demonstrating boundaries. I hope CL and CN’s advice gives you tips to be even better.

    • As difficult as it is to maintain civility, it is vitally important to your children. They should not be put in the middle of adult conflict. Now, I am not saying that you have to be one big happy family, but I do believe it is unfair to make our children take sides in a divorce, even where one partner is a cheating sack of shite. Let Go offers good advice. Children grow up very quickly and they are sponges when it comes to observing certain behavior. They also are masters at playing parents off against each other, even in intact families. My kids are mostly grown, but even when they were younger, I tried to keep them out of the fray. They now tell me they were well aware of what was going on and greatly appreciate my efforts to let them have as much as a “normal’ relationship with their dad as he would allow.

    • I’m thinking on the terms of cheaters being sub human.
      Children need to be protected from both of the immoral cheaters. What is the difference between staying in a failing Relationship with a cheater and divorcing them? The answer is we no longer have to participate in image control to make them look good. And once divorced the disordered use their children instead.

      • I COMPLETELY AGREE!! I have an 18 yr old daughter and a 24 year old son. They both have nothing to do with their dad since heleft to move in with his affair partner, my kids have have zero respect for either of them. My ex, who basically had me raise them alone since he was ( now I know) so busy trying to secure extramarital relationships,, now is HEARTBROKEN ( many episodes of tears) that his kids are gone and will do ANYTHING to get them back.
        Sorry buddy, …they aren’t interested.

  • From what I understand, relationships with the affair partner more often than not fizzle out at some point. Even after the kibble excitement is gone, they’ll stay together to try and save face, living inwardly miserable lives. Does that help??

    I like to think of my ex and his new wife looking across the table at each other, wondering, THIS was what we wanted? Where’d my kibbles go?!?

    • GOYSACA, I really, really hope that’s true. I hate to think my STBX will have a happy life with the AP. It’s not within my control but I really want him to regret what he’s done. I know, I should just trust that he sucks and move on and let go but it’s just not that easy.

      • Ditto! I want her to suffer like I was made to suffer. I know I will get over this feeling some day. I just won’t care anymore (Meh). Until then, I don’t want her to be happy.

        • Chumpella and Marked, remember that a HUGE part of the attraction of cheating in the first place is getting over on the chump. Once you’re removed from the situation, fantasyland is over and real life takes its place. It’s hard for a Narc to admit Schmoopie isn’t all he/she is cracked up to be, so the Narc will often stubbornly hold onto the AP (usually future chump) until all the kibbles are exhausted. TRUST that they SUCK!!!

          • Thanks. I do trust that she sucks, but I don’t yet “feel it” in my heart. I will get there, I just don’t know when. I will never do anything to cause her any suffering, I just would like to see some justice from the universe. And some day in the future I won’t even care.

          • Thanks GOYSACA. It’s hard right now but I keep repeating the “trust that he sucks” mantra and hopefully one day soon my heart will catch up with my head.

      • Chumpella: Your X may regret things he lost because of the divorce, but he will never regret what he’s done.

        Step 1 in recovery–recognize that they will never sincerely apologize, stop blameshifting, have real remorse. If you see any of those things–an apology, remorse, or egads! taking responsibility–realize that they are all fake and strategic to get back some form of kibbles or narc supply.

        • Thanks Tempest. I know you are absolutely right. I’m just such a chump that I can’t believe that the person I married turned out to be someone so completely different. Like everyone else here, I’m finding it so disorientating. However, CL and CN are providing me with backbone and I am repeating the “trust that he sucks” mantra many times a day. It’s going to take time but I will keep coming here daily for reminders.

    • I keep hoping for that, not so much for me, although that would be validating. But for the kids. Three of them don’t speak to him at all since he married the AP. What fizzled out was not the affair/marriage, but the Dad.

  • I don’t think your daughter needed to add your new wife and step-children. Sounds like she was quite happy with her family tree. My ex-husband left me and our girls for his AP and they now live together, but for him, me and our girls we are still a “family”. I think you confused the situation and brought your feelings too much into it.

    • My family was so ripped up when I did the genealogy chart in 3rd grade that I told my mother that I was only going to go by blood. It was just as complicated but it cut everyone’s feelings out of it.

      SO WHAT if she and her mother hadn’t talked in 10 years? SO WHAT if my real dad was a big, fat jerk and I didn’t know him at all? It’s about the genealogy and feelings don’t affect that, in hindsight. It has nothing to do with me loving or knowing anyone… I wanted to stick to the facts. Other people’s feelings aren’t mine to take on – especially as a child – and it doesn’t change the blood history at all.

      That’s when I learned WHY my parents weren’t together, btw. I had a half sister, apparently, who was 6 months older than me. My real father had been separated from his wife for 2 years (but told everyone that he was not only divorced but that their Catholic marriage had been annulled – my mom wouldn’t have cared about the latter part, being agnostic), five states away, and he had a girlfriend of two years who was seven months pregnant, an hour away… but had been engaged to my mother for almost a year. When they announced their wedding date his mother finally bit the bullet and drove up from Oklahoma to tell my mother ALL that was going on… and my mother ended everything immediately. Within a week of that, she found out that she was expecting me. She was in her senior year of college and sold cars for a dealership nearby, on breaks and during the summer, where she met and worked with my real father.

      So yay on the Sticking-to-the-Facts Family Tree. lol – you only make it on through marriage or blood lineage. 😛

      • insistonhonesty,

        Thank you for reminding us about non-blood related families.

        My niece has a father who is essentially a speed donor. When she turned 18 he gave her a little money, and he’d paid child support silently over the years.

        I too made the family tree at eight. My dad’s AP (then-wife and my step-monster) made my sister and I separate elaborate family-trees. Never really thought about why until today. She wanted to spackle too. My dad divorced AP after 10 years married. No one came out better. Dad died but step-monster hates me and my sister to this day some 15 years hence.

        As a childfree Chump, my advice is probably unpopular. The odds of any marriage failing are at least 50 percent. You chose to breed (Yes, you got a cheater, and I am not minimizing that pain.), but please make heroic attempts to parent even in the face of that violent betrayal. I believe that anyone reading this is indeed a heroic parent. Good for y’all.

        One final point. My own experience with the journey to Meh has shown me a critical distinction about the pre and post-divorce-decree process. I am pursuing a fault divorce. There is no Meh while the legal battle rages. There is only no-contact (grey-rock) and cold-appearing calculation to protect my rights. Meh is only an option once the divorce is final.

          • Ian – LOLOL. For the life of my, I couldn’t figure out what speed-donar was until I thought about a poster using that organ-donar phrase. (Which I’ve already used once!) He was an organ donar…shared his organ all over town. ! ha !

            • ooops……my turn. Not a ‘donar’, like Thor in Norse Mythology, but DONOR.
              Won’t forget that one now.

            • All of your comments on this terribly difficult situation just brought tears to my eyes. What agony to have to deal with. We, thankfully, never had kids. I always wanted to wait until I thought he’d be a good dad, but he kept proving himself too selfish. Plus, we disagreed on discipline. I’m a hippy. He’d have been Sargent Hartman (Full Metal Jacket). Anyway, thankfully I never bred with him.

              I just had a family of big dogs to deal with who were left behind.
              (actually, I wouldn’t dare let him get his hands on them)
              Didn’t matter, he only wanted ‘the girl’.

              Dogs are certainly more adaptable than children and are certainly not as introspective as humans and I sure don’t mean to compare the two in anyway, other than they are innocents.

              We did so much awful fighting during the 4 mos together after D-day.
              The dogs suffered a lot more than I realized.
              The males got very aggressive, the tension of banging dishes, slamming cupboards, throwing bananas, elbow fighting…none of this was good for our family of dogs.

              But, and you know many dog stories/movies about dogs…X left his old boy behind – his best friend.
              That old boy sat by the door for days waiting for him to come home.

              Sorry if this is off topic, but yes, it certainly affects dogs as well.

              Thankfully, not in the same way as children,
              Old dog died shortly after he left..

              I am happy to say, my 3 dogs are all very happy, there is no tension, I’m at meh…and so are they.

              Blessings and good luck to you all with the myriad of children’s issues ahead, no matter the age.

              • oops, thought I posted that at the end of recent comments. Ian Diablo – yeah…The Organ Donor! lol
                (is that you?)

  • One other thought that waddled through my mind is this: if her mom ends up having a string of losers parading through her life, your daughter may experience a string of grief events that will likely result in anxiety around abandonment. She will need to feel safe turning to others in her life for comfort. If she feels she can’t talk to you without upsetting or hurting you, you won’t be on that list.

    If her dad isn’t on her emotional safe list for talking about her pain and/or fear, it will make her more vulnerable to boys and men who know how to recognize her need for comfort and use it as a grooming tool to exploit her kindness (and to exploit her sexually). I know it seems too soon to think about that now, but believe me, it isn’t. (Voice of experience.)

    You’ll probably need your own place to turn to talk through how hard this will be for you (confidential therapists are helpful, here, as there is a zero percent chance they will spill the beans around family or friends). This will be very far from easy, but she needs you to have any chance to get through this crap with her unreliable mom and grow into a healthy adult.

  • Hugs to you, London Chump. It’s so hard when there’s little ones involved in the situation, and whether or not it’s right, I’ve taken the approach that while my ex is still legally and technically their dad, when he chose to walk out of the marriage and our home, he chose to leave the family. So whenever it comes up as it does somewhat often, I remind them that Mama and Daddy aren’t married any longer and Daddy left, so he doesn’t get to go places with us and when he’s got the kids, that’s their time together.

    My ten-year-old was talking about how he’s looking forward to going to the beach and watching fireworks with his dad this summer and asked quite calmly why I don’t go places with them anymore. I explained why, and he asked if I’d change my mind because he wanted me to come along so I could “get out and have some fun, too.” He’s such a sweetheart. I told him we’ll just do our own thing this summer and that seemed to satisfy for now. Another thing with little ones… Short attention spans. 🙂

    My 14-year-old wanted to know if ex and I would take her shopping for a dress for her upcoming school formal. Again, I reminded her that no, if she wants to go shopping for a formal, I will take her. Though I think her motives were purely financial (her dad drives and she was probably assuming she could get him to pay for her dress–yeah right.) I said she could choose to go dress shopping with either one of us, but that we would not go together. I’m sure ex would be more than happy to do that so we could play happy family again, but fuck that. I have boundaries.

    But don’t worry because as everyone says, your children know who’s there for them and who stands their ground even when all you want to do is curl into a little ball and shut out the world for a while. Your ex is still their mom, and has probably done her share of reiterating the “validity” of her affair and subsequent relationship to your daughter, and she’s too young to really understand the complicated fuckedupness of the situation. But she will.

    Yesterday, ex showed up on foot with the kids as they returned from their overnight. He lives maybe a couple miles from my house. Apparently his car broke down and due to his excellent savings abilities and amazing problem solving skills, he doesn’t have the money to replace the alternator since his idiot self went out and bought a new battery assuming that to be the cause of the problem first rather than taking the car to be checked out from the beginning instead of buying a battery he didn’t need.

    When the car died, he told the kids he could always call the mistress and borrow her car at which point my older daughter went off. She said she’d rather walk home and proceeded to pack up the baby and head for the door. He was furious when she also added she’d be much happeier skipping her upcoming dance classes and counseling appointments rather than ride in “that disgusting car *she* has.”

    So it does get through and will come to light when it matters. It just takes time for them to mature and understand the context of the situation. Meanwhile, just try to keep calm on the outside and give the ex and her AP enough rope to hang themselves. They will. 🙂

    I told ex as he was leaving that I’ve taken Uber dozens of times with no problem (I’m blind so can’t drive and this was a huge part of how fucked I was when he left), and he gave me such a scowl according to my daughter. But I said it with calmness and added a reassuring tone just to prove I totally meant nothing by it and was merely being helpful… Even if I was cackling like a villainess and rubbing my palms together on the inside. The universe and nature have their ways of correcting that which goes out of balance, and your kids know in their hearts who their steadfast and loving parent is. Trust this and it will help you get through.

  • Good Post….I could have used it a several months ago. I know how LC feels. My girls are older and they put there foot down on Mom’s AP (they knew him prior to the affair and said no way to him moving in). I actually felt bad for X, took the girls to counseling so they wouldn’t hate their mom – and they understand know that she has to have her own life (he never moved in – I knew he wouldn’t).

    Thanks LC for bringing this up,

  • This post was very hard for me to read and I’m 5 years out and am pretty much at “meh” most of the time. My ex moved in with AP and her 3 kids a couple of years ago. So my kids (now 13 and 9) have to spend 40% of their time being told they are a “family” over there when they have told me “Mom, I don’t know why they call us family. We aren’t family”.
    I didn’t tell my 13 year old about the affair until he asked me pointedly face to face and asked me not to lie. Did they have an affair? My answer “yes. They may call it something else because they didn’t openly date until after they broke up two marriages but it to most certainly was an affair, no matter what they want to call it to assuage their guilt”.
    My 9 year old knows I dislike my former friend and neighbor (yep…why go out of the neighborhood to cheat? The neighbor is so much more convenient!)
    What I’ve told my daughter is this; “we don’t have to like the same people. Someday I may dislike a friend of yours. It’s ok for you to like someone who is nice to you”.
    Once this bit me in the ass and it still stings. In an effort to “be nice” to the AP, she drew a “family” pic that had all of the people at dad’s house. Not me. When she showed me I burst into tears and ran from the room (I have tears now and this happened a year ago). She later explained her reasoning (after ripping it up on her own and crying for hurting my feelings). She did it that way because she didn’t know where to put me. She thought dad would want his gf in the picture (so she did that to make her dad happy), and she knew she couldn’t put me beside the AP or her kids so she got confused and left me off – here’s the important part – because she “knew I could understand”…
    My kids feel safe with me. I’m single because I choose to be for now. My point is that the OW wasn’t family. ..she was put in a drawing by a confused 9 year old.

    • Mim,

      Your comment is awesome and in my opinion right on target. My parents divorced when I was 5 and my sister 1. Four years later I got two new stepsisters and lived with my dad. I am a big believer that men can be as good a parent as women and in my case, worlds better. I don’t know the reason my parents split, but I can guess it had to do with my mother’s lifestyle. I remember the parade of men, drugs, alcohol, and stealing. I never said a word of this to my dad or stepmom because they were so negative towards her and I felt like I had to defend her. Who wants to admit that their mom is a horrible person who should never have been allowed visitation rights? When they stopped their attacks on her, I eventually stopped my defenses. I began to see her for what she was and started talking to my dad. When I turned 18, I went no contact with her. Yep, it took that long. My sister was not allowed unsupervised visits. My mother contacted me five years after NC wanting to get back into my life. She told the same lies she always did and so I told her I would get back to her. I researched her and discovered she had been arrested for a string of thefts and was on her way to prison. I contacted her and told her that she was never to contact me or my sister again. She never did and she died alone at 54.

      All you can do is be the sane parent so your kids will always know you will be there for them. I was lucky that my kids were over 21 when D Day hit. That still didn’t stop me from having a melt down when I happened to go on Facebook (which I rarely do) and saw that my youngest “friended” the AP. I called him screaming. He said he just didn’t think about it when the request came. After I calmed down, I apologized for by reaction and told him that I knew that he and his brother would see her because of their dad, but friending her on Facebook was like announcing to the world that it was okay to have sex with someone else’s husband or sex while you were married and it would be accepted. We talked further and I deleted my Facebook account. I know that most aren’t in a situation that is that easy, but when a meltdown happens, be kind to your kids, and then be kind to yourself. Meltdowns happen. Take a deep breath and try to forgive yourself.

  • From what I know of children, it sounds like she feels pretty secure in her relationship with you and your new wife. The ex, and the affair partner, not so much. Like cats, children will throw all their time and effort into whoever they feel likes them the least.

    Your wife left her family for this guy. Maybe he left a family as well. They have a history of being Deserters. They haven’t committed to each other. One of them will bail at some point. It’s just a question of when. You daughter gets all that on a primitive level, I think.

  • Gonna add my two cents… YOU wanted her to add your new wife and step kids… Not her. She merely wanted to balance out the equation. You are already remarried and have step children and you are perturbed by your wifes BF ? I get he is that he is the AP….sucks balls… But to your ten year old its about math and who she is going to upset when the family tree ends up on the wall at school. When mom walks by and sees your family is added….but not hers. When you asked your child to include your family and not her mothers you created a problem that your child would have to explain. Your kid didnt want to have to do the zen diagram and explain to her peers either. To your child…her family is you, her brother and mother period. you wanted to reflect something different. And family….is not just through marriage or blood. Plenty of adopted children. Plenty of cohabitating parents.

    • This post really hit a nerve… I read this post on the train and I had to fight back the urge to cry.

      When I was a kid, I had to make a family tree for a school project. In order to make my stepfather not feel excluded, my mom made me put my stepfather as a bird sitting in the tree.

      When I showed the finished project to my Dad, he threw a fit as LC did, and I started to cry. No matter what I did, one of my parents was going to be unhappy.

      Don’t do that your kid, LC. After all, married or not, the affair partner is in her mother’s life, and your daughter has to deal with him a lot more than you ever will, whether she likes it or not. Don’t make it more difficult for her than it already is.

      • I agree with THeClip and Lulu – At 10 years old, this poor little girl has to deal with which parent to add, who to exclude, it’s too much for a little girl to deal with. At 10 years old, all I had to decide was which hair color elastic to use to tie my hair. And TheClip is right, he wanted to add his new wife and stepkids, those are the people who mean something to HIM, but not to this 10 year old girl. The little girl was probably trying to be fair by including everyone and it becomes a whole production. Also, Lulu is right, she’s the one who has to deal with him and if her mom sees him excluded how will that come across. I feel bad for all the pressure this may have created for that poor innocent little girl.

      • It would be helpful to think of things like family trees and drawings and stories written by kids as a window into how the child sees the world–not as a representation of some objective reality. Kids who include all the step-folks or APs or one who pare it down to blood family or does something in between are expressing their own perspective–often painful, confused, and tinged with the need to please others. It’s an opportunity to know what we might not otherwise know.

    • ^^^^ Yup. 100% agree with this.

      Many kids with extended families feel pressure to walk the tight-rope. She didn’t want to tick anyone off.

    • LC – I think TheClip has nailed it, here, “When you asked your child to include your family and not her mothers you created a problem that your child would have to explain. Your kid didn’t want to have to do the zen diagram and explain to her peers either. To your child…her family is you, her brother and mother period. you wanted to reflect something different.”

      This child is 10 years old – never asked for a relationship with the AP, and yet is somehow expected to understand and judge that AP does not count because Mom is not married? Huh?

      One thing is for sure, there will be rocky times. As a child of divorce, 45 years on, I can say that my family is still just my parents and sibs no matter who got remarried with added step kids. Then there is step family. Imo, being remarried doesn’t automatically make for core family. When I got even older, there was chosen family outside of everyone.

      To a child, separation and divorce is so confusing no matter the circumstances – I totally agree with others that most times kids figure out each parent all by themselves.

      Wow, I really think the genealogy should be scrapped from the curriculum, too.

  • It sounds to me like DD is having a hard time accepting the “new” situation. The new wife and kids and the AP. I think expressing to our children how we feel is ok, but not in ways that make them feel accountable for how we feel. Then let her know that she is free to make the family tree any way she feels the best about it. Like CL said, she would add a stuffy and minus her brother. I went through something like this for a long time. It doesn’t go away. Just when you think it has…another shit buffet. My ex is very disordered and tried to make my daughter hate me. She is 18 now and we are very close. For many years though I had to refrain from losing my mind and raging about him and what a asshole he is. Instead I listened to her and when she started noticing awful things about him I didn’t spackle or make excuses I just agreed and reminded her that she has a whole life to live and she should focus on the things in her life that make her happy. I did my best to explain truthfully. Its ok to admit that things suck, but try to not involve your daughter with the skein that belongs to you and your ex. Children need freedom of expression too and in a case like this everyone has a shit sandwich to choke down and puke up. Stay positive LondonChump. Some people really suck and try to bring people down to their level. Sadly this is a long term big deal when children are involved. I find it helps with my daughter to ask her how she clearly feels about something more than once, Then I come in with a yes or no question to solidify the answer. It doesn’t help to condition them into our way of thinking, she has her own thoughts and feelings and you can encourage those and accept those and she will eventually be as awake as you are. But this takes time, let her grow up in the right timing. This is not easy but worth it. She is 10, let her think about 10 year old stuff and be there to listen and talk when she needs you, I think the person who said therapy and to grieve with a neutral third party is a very good idea. I have learned in my life that grief is necessary when trauma occurs and that is how we learn to heal and move forward. Hugs!!!

  • I totally get it about hating the Affair Partner, especially when there are kids. Ex’s whore had a daughter about ten years older than mine. She totally messed her own kid up, but yet here’s dumass ex trying to bring a whore and her protégé into my child’s life.

    Ow knew husband was married, with a very young daughter. She knew we weren’t Broken Up, hence the sneaking around. I think she had some sort of sick vendetta against me due to the fact that she was raising a juvenile delinquent, while i was raising a wonderful child. You can’t whore around with married men in front of your own kid without negative effects. Ex was continuously reassuring the whore what a Good Mother she was. What a joke. He also thought he was a Good Father. While doing the absolute minimum possible, for me, her, and our family. Again, what a joke.

  • It doesn’t end when they’re 10 either. Just had a birthday dinner with my 23 year old daughter. Just me and my daughter. Great time. Great conversation. I miss that with her, since she’s been away at college and will soon be working several hours away upon graduation. So every minute I get is great. But even she parroted, “I think you’re both happier now…” I just cringed, but didn’t say anything. Later, “you are happier, right dad?” To which I replied, “If you’re asking would I ever go back, no I would not. But happiness isn’t the only measure worth considering. It’s fleeting at best, and a false measure of the totality of my life.” Her turn to cringe a little. That was the extent of the conversation, thank God.

    The price paid is a sullen 17 year old who now thinks the 20 something my ex is shacked up with is a great guy. It’s trailer trash time 15 days out of the month for this kid. And my 23 year old thinks as long as we’re all happy, it’s all good. 3 years plus post dday and I’m good with the direction my life is going. I own what I do, and ultimately I chose to move forward without a weak minded cheater tied to me bringing me down. That was my call. Life does move on. And the more I focus on what’s good in my life, the better I am. Unfortunately, my kids still are trying to absorb what she did and make sense of it.

  • When asswipe decided to go outside our marriage and then move in with whore juice he and i became offically non family. I am mom and he is dad and in that realm we survive. My kids feel their dad is family not whore juice and her family and i am their family. I remain and will remain single my choice. Its up to them the kids how to proceed with dad they are all grown. They both know not to involve me or tell me the goings on of dads life because they know i no longer care and they dont wish to have me hurt further. Hes made a big display in the last couple of months showing interest in them and just barely. Before that nothing so they have his number. Whore juice wants us all to be one big happy family and besties with me but of course shes insanely jealous of me. I dont care what asswipe and his bitch wants. Once i leave this place. Absolutely positively no contact with their dad.

  • I have zero insight for LondonChump. But I would like to say thanks to him and everyone here for the advice. I know I will need it in the future. I know Narkles the Clown is preaching the everyone happier thing right now and I have yet to reply to my child with “so what does that mean? does it erase all the wrongs because I triumphed over the shit sandwich laid on my plate?” I know one day I will not be able to hold my tongue.

  • Everything Chump Lady said. Truth.

    Two exes two kids each ex. First divorce left with an almost 2 and 6 year old, second divorce left with a 7 and 8 year old.

    All adults, now. They figured it out.

    Don’t bash the other parent, answer their questions honestly–age appropriate. But, it’s perfectly OK to go off the wall every once in a while. Even kids understand pain.

  • I have a ten year old daughter too and she is awesome at trying to make the best of the new situation. But there is a twist in my story. The new live in girlfriend is not the OW (who my ex dumped a year and a half after Dday and my daughters never met) but I still resent her because she moved in with cheater-ex a month after meeting him at a party and she is trying to seduce our daughters by acting as another teenager. Fortunately, she doesn´t have kids, but she is modeling behaviour that my girls are not accustomed to (like smoking, drinking, wearing slutty clothes)! She has gone through three husbands and cheated on all of them. (And this is the “serious relationship” that my ex promised would be the only one he would present our daughters)

    But, my daughter tells me she is a nice person and I would probably like her (of course, if I was 10 or if I went out partying with her!) so I tell her that I am glad that she likes her, but that I don´t think that someone who moves in immediately after meeting a person is a good idea for her own life. I explain that it takes a long time to really know someone and that the new girlfriend is not being considerate of her by moving in on such short notice. (But I do know that if this was the OW it would make me a million times angrier, so I don´t blame LondonChump for his feelings.).

    My point is to model the sane parent and to explain to children in a serious but tranquil way why you don´t agree with the behaviour of the cheating parent and her partner, and of course, to keep an eye on if their is any abuse or actions that can be controlled (for example, I asked ex if he could please ask the new girlfriend to not smoke in front of the children, and he agreed).

  • Our marriage imploded after our kids finished college, so I didn’t have to cope with some of the sticky situations involving children that many others here do. Some people have shared excellent advice and perspective on what the child in this situation might be feeling.

    I’m expecting my first grandchild in October and haven’t seen or spoken to my ex in a few years. I’ve been fighting off anxiety about how things will work when I attend my grandchild’s events and have to deal with seeing my ex. Because of the no-contact since we broke up it’s been like he’s dead, although I know he’s still walking around because my kids talk about doing things with him. LOL. Anyway, my kids almost never speak about him to me. Because I was so devastated and emotional in the beginning, I think they still walk on eggshells to keep from upsetting me. I’ve been trying to focus on empathizing with their feelings instead of protecting my own. I sometimes wish they’d share with me how they feel about everything, but they are both married and I’m sure they share those feelings with their mates. Recently one of my daughter-in-laws mentioned that my kids think I now seem happy, but their dad seems sad and depressed. I believe both kids would feel better if everyone was happy again!

    In my own family there were fights between my mom and grandmother. For a period of time they cut each other off and didn’t speak for years. I remember my mom making me tear up cards that my grandmother sent like I never got them. It hurt me to be forced to hurt my grandmother. I loved both my mom and my grandmother, but I had to do what mom said in order to survive.

    • Lyn,
      You mention that your kids are married. Can you share how you got through those two celebrations? My kids are older, and I know weddings are right around the corner, and I’m absolutely dreading having to face dickhead and owife. The last thing I want is to take away from my kids’ special days but the tension between me, dickhead and owife is very very thick. Any helpful advise please? Thanks

      • Fancyfree, I had to go through my youngest child’s wedding about 6 months after our divorce was final. I dreaded it and drove myself crazy worrying about it. Then I decided to talk to my doctor and get a prescription for Xanax. There was just way I could manage the anxiety on my own. So I experimented beforehand to find a small dose that made me feel normal, but not drugged. The day of the wedding I took a half a pill that morning, and on the way to the wedding I took another half a pill. Of course, I was riding with someone else and not driving. When I went to the rehearsal I saw my ex, and it was awesome because I felt completely normal and had no anxiety at all! It was so wonderful not to have my stomach tied in knots.

        My counselor had suggested I walk up and give him a hug, or at least be the first to speak, which put me in charge of the situation. When I saw my ex I walked up, hugged him and smiled, and then walked to sit on the other side of the church. What surprised me was that my ex was obviously an emotional mess. He was shaking, had tears in his eyes, and looked like he was about to be eaten by a lion. When I realized that I was calmer than he was, it made me feel a lot better.

        At the reception I even walked up and asked him to dance (we always used to love dancing). He ended up asking me to dance a couple more times. We couldn’t find much to say to each other, though. I think it made our son happy to see us getting along. Luckily neither one of us brought a date, so that made everything easier too. We didn’t agree on this beforehand, but I think we instinctively knew this would be easier for our children.

        Anyway, my heart goes out to you because these events can be so difficult to go through when your emotions are still raw. There’s no way I could have gotten through it without some pharmaceutical help. Luckily I used the same technique to get through another family celebration and it worked then too.

        I’m expecting my first grandchild this fall so I’m going to have to deal with seeing my ex again, but I think enough time has passed that I’ll be able to get through it okay on my own. At least I hope so.

  • LC, my children are much older than your daughter – I jokingly tell people they are now older than me 🙂 – but they, and my grandchildren, still struggle with how to handle the family dynamic as it is now. Holidays are hard for all of us now, I get it regardless of whether I like it or not. The big family meals I would prepare and enjoy with all of them now feel like a play we are all reading for a part in…the family unit has been blown up and we can’t seem to find our center…or something. It just sucks. Now the situation is just the ‘elephant’ in the room that we all keep walking around.
    I guess what I am trying to say is it is hard for adults and has to be even worse for children with zero life experience. Adults struggle with full knowledge of the situation and children just have to watch us and wonder what is happening. Few things in life (thank goodness!) are as hard as trying to recreate your life after being so badly abused by disordered people…baby steps and one breath at a time are about all most of us could manage for a long, long time. Children need honest, age appropriate answers to their questions and to know that they are loved. You got this!

  • My advice is to get ready for an ongoing series of lousy school projects and assignments that will frazzle your nerves. This family tree won’t be the last time your child writes down things that seem totally untrue to you. And you just have to wrap your mind around the fact that her reasons for completing her homework the ways she does are not about you.

    I was heart broken to find a profile one of my kids wrote for school about a “Personal Hero” that featured my EX. Not only was it filled with total B.S. straight from my EX’s pool of personal lies, but I couldn’t fathom why my child didn’t love me enough to choose me or to choose a neutral adult. But the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. My EX attends nothing with the kids–my child has not had a father at a sports game, award ceremony, concert, or graduation in years. Months can go by with no contact now (despite bitter fights over custody five years ago). So, this is how my child sustained a reputation at school for having a “normal” family–that profile was a way of saying, “Look what a great Dad I have! Sure, you’ve never seen him, but it is only because he’s out doing all the fantastic things I’ve listed here. Yeah, I know your Dad is cool and took us to a movie, Sam. And your Dad helped us with our Science Fair project, Lisa. But here’s why my Dad is just as good as yours.” That profile would have been more factual if it had been about Batman (and I think my kid knows that, but knowing and admitting it are not the same.)

    I would still have loved to see my own name on the first line of that profile, but I also know that when my kids have problems, they don’t call the EX, they call me. When they want to showoff their accomplishments, they tell me about them, not him. They know who loves them, but homework is not about love–it is about all kinds of things from grades to social capital that have nothing to do with me. And, yet, it made me nauseous to read.

    So get ready to develop a thick skin. Don’t impose yourself on your daughter–that’s exactly what her mother did by having an affair and then expecting you and your child to accommodate to the new reality. Let your daughter know that you are interested in her world view (including how she’d map a family tree), and that you love her and support her. Make yourself the parent who is always worth talking to. Your feelings do count, but you need to share them with adults (like us) or your new wife, not your daughter.

    • Eilonwy, my counselor told me that children who don’t feel a good connection will tend to idolize that parent. That might be what you’re child is doing. My oldest son idolized his dad and was particularly devastated when he blew up our family. When I shared with him what my counselor said, he agreed that he’d never felt very connected at an emotional level with his dad.

      • Good point! I also think my kid knows that the EX demands praise and idolization and to deny it is to risk losing dad’s “love.” I may not be happy to see dad listed as the “Personal Hero,” but I won’t punish my child for not choosing me; Dad, however, cannot be relied upon to react without criticism (or even rage). But that assignment was a few years ago, and I hear a lot fewer verses of “Isn’t Dad Great” than I used to. They are beginning to learn how hollow this song sounds when Dad cannot even be bothered to make the time to listen to it any longer.

        But I still hate the school assignments that have to do with family! Part of me wonders why they are so common. These sort of assignments have to be painful for lots and lots of kids. Any assignment that demands personal revelations can be tough–some kids have incarcerated parents or ones in rehab, yet “Interview your parents about their work” still shows up, along with some other humdingers.

  • LondonChump,
    Hugs to you. We parents on the board understand your pain. Sorting things out is very tough, and much worse for the kids.
    I still remember the pain of hearing my 13 yr old tell me I would probably like the OWife, she was nice. And it pains me to hear my son call the OWife his stepmom, I want to shout “she is not a mother figure to you, you see her 8-9 weeks a YEAR.”
    I just smile and nod, or refer to her as his father’s wife. I was a foreign exchange student, so I have perfected the “smile and nod.” It is a good skill for chumps to have.

    I agree with most of the comments thus far, you stumbled here. But that is ok. We all do at some time. The point is to recognize it, and acknowledge it to the kids, if necessary. Talk to your daughter about it.

  • LC’s letter and the responses have me thinking about the difference between a genealogy tree and a family tree. In my case, they would look very different.

    My family tree includes my supportive co-chump partner (we’ve decided not to marry), some close friends, and certain family members. My father, does not provide a father role, so I consider him a distant shirttail family member. Maybe LondonChump can use this classroom assignment to open up discussions with his daughter about the differences between blood ties, relationships formalized by marriage, and the broader definition of “family”, which I consider to be my inner circle.

    • I like that idea, but maybe LC isn’t ready for that. What if bozo the boyfriend feels like family to daughter? I really love that way of looking into it, but only when you’re ready for your kid to be saying and writing and drawing lines that crush your poor damn soul.

  • I think you are getting the raw end of the deal here because you are the one who has acted with love and caring and your daughter knows it. She has to be hypervigilent about hurting her moms feelings — because she has seen the way her mom is able to turn on and off love and just leave someone behind. She doesn’t want to risk that. You, on the other hand, she knows will love her no matter what — she wasn’t even thinking about your feelings probably when she initially suggested she leave your wife and kids off. She just wanted the family she had in her mind — or she really did want the assignment to be as short as possible. I know how hard it is. My ex had his kids calling his boyfriend’s mom “nana” within 18 months of his leaving (though of course that only lasted another 18 months before he just totally split from bf and his family and the kids got no closure. . .) They did because they desperately wanted some sense of family and wanted to do what they thought they needed to to stay part of his love.

  • London Chump,

    I am a fortunate chump in that my former marriage to a cheater imploded when both my children were officially adults. No co-parenting for me and pretty much complete no contact. Believe it or not though, adult children struggle when their parents get divorced too, just for different reasons.

    I try to be a safe place for my kids to land. If they talk about their dad, which isn’t really that often, I smile and nod and add the occasional “hmmm” to give the appearance I am interested. i don’t contribute anything at all to those conversations for two reasons:

    1. I haven’t seen him or spoken to him in over two years so I have nothing of value to add . I just go with the tried and true golden rule that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”

    2. Asking them questions about their dad seems to akin to prying and I don’t want to pull them into the middle of that skein plus and most importantly, it might lengthen the conversation and I definitely don’t want that!

    On one or two occasions they have asked me a question about their dad’s behavior. I just told them honestly that I really have no idea why he did that or acted that way. (Sure I have some theories but those are best kept to myself) I also tell them that it’s best to ask their dad that sort of question. I don’t interfere with their relationship with their dad either. That’s between them and him.

    I have had a few cringe worthy moments but I chalk it up to it being part of the deal when you create humans with someone else. So listen to CL. It’s hard but your daughter needs a safe port in the storm and it should be both parents, but if it can’t be your ex, you have to be that one safe port.

  • LC,

    I felt a great deal of anger towards my XW’s AP who I also considered a great friend at one time. However, I know he’s just a pawn in my XW’s sick narc manipulations. He left his family for her, and it’s going to be horrible for him some day, too. I’m absolutely certain of that.

    I took me a long time to arrive at this frame of mind. Someday you’ll thank him for taking your XW off of your hands.

    Take care.

  • Thank you all for the comments and insight offered.

    In the end, as CL says, it boils down to accepting the injustice of the AP, “…but now what”. As someone who is very black or white, it a bitter pill to swallow, but the world isn’t always just or fair. And I need to learn how to suck it up, when these uncomfortable situations arise, which is hard in the heat of the moment.

    As for my daughter, we’ve made amends and spent a lot of 1:1 time this weekend. As others have commented — she is just trying to make sense of her new paradigm, and I need to accept that. Hopefully being the best dad I can be, is enough to limit damage longer term.

    • I think the longer you hold to your grudge the more difficult will be. Everything changes when we change our mindset from victims of this great tragedy to students of life. Traitors will keep existing in our lives. We just need to learn to handle our emotions, actions and reactions. It sucks I know, but indifference is best than perpetual hate.

      • Just not feeling the label of the loyal partners holding a ‘grudge’ Marsha. Especially since when caught they will not admit to the affair, number of partners, loss of assets, emotional abuse, and their entitlement trickles down to image control and using the children or should I say objects.

        A grudge? It’s much more complex. +1 for the right to be angry. What is not right is damaging any child in the process.

        • I agree with Donna–“grudge” implies an irrational or hyperbolic response to a small slight. Cheating is not a small slight, and anger/rage/hatred is a very rational and well-balanced response to it. I hold the view that we ARE victims (otherwise we have to accept the bullshit RIC view that we helped bring the cheating on ourselves–hell to the no!). But we will not ACT as victims.

          Now give me the crossbow….

          • “We just have to handle our emotions, actions, and reactions.” This is such a tall order Marsha. It’s challenging like hitting a trifecta betting on the three horses with the worst odds of winning. Or training for a triathelon in your fifties.
            Often times there are years of emotional abuse and I’m just beginning to gain control of my emotions.

            When it comes to my lovie the gloves come off. Being left broken and discarded like trash will always be etched in my brain. That lack of respect reveals the monster inside. And that’s the one we KNOW. Then there’s the strange they expect our children to be exposed to. It’s maddening. I’m all for putting the spotlight on THEIR actions as I did with my granddaughter.

  • Just have your daughter include the AP if that makes her comfortable. Have her do a “family tree” EACH YEAR to see who gets “X’ed” from it and who gets added. Then she will be documenting the parade of men that her mother will bring in and out of her life to help her understand the reasons why she will be afraid to get married in the future…and why she will eventually regard her mother as being a whore.

    OR, you can just tell her to STICK TO THE BLOODLINES rather than including shack ups or people who have had nothing to do with her personal genealogy…which leaves out your own wife and step kids also. The only people who would make it into the family tree in this instance are future BLOOD half brothers/sisters.

  • Hi all, I am new to the site and in the “reconciliation” phase. My H. lived with the OW for about 1 month and a half after I left him. He moved the OW in and introduced her to my daughters (16 and 4) about a week after we moved. It was really stupid of me. She was really nice (I kind of liked her, she was my H coworker and I knew that they were special friends but I was really busy with a new business I started and didnt want to think about it after shit hit the fan) Three weeks later he went back to me and said crying “Its not the same to live with her than to see her only a few hours a week”. I told him “you are the only one who didnt know that idiot!” to make this long story short, the main reason I took him back was I hated, hated that they were doing family activities together so soon!! I took him back and I told the OW “I told you so”. Of course, I regret that now because we all went back to our original positions: the wife (me), the cheater (serial cheater now I know because he told me he had another 3 occasional sex partners), and the mistress. It seems we are all happy again, but surprise surprise I am documenting myself with the chumps in Chump Nation and I am planning and organizing everything to dump the Depredator and his future STDs for good and put him back in the arms of his lovely mistress (The Shorty).

    • Good for you, Masha, for getting your ducks In a row. Sadly, once Cheaters realize we’ll take them back, they become emboldened to keep Cheating and to take even more risks (multiple AP’s, prostitutes, etc) with our health.

      Welcome to CL and CN and best of luck and keep us posted!

    • Good for you for keeping a level head and getting your ducks in a row. I hope you have legal counsel too. It sounds like you have a very good head on your shoulders. I wish I had done a better job of getting things lined up at first, but I finally was smart enough to open my own checking and savings and transferred half the money to the account when shit hit the fan. I also cut up and canceled the joint credit card. I would advise making sure your financials are unable to be found by him when you do file and please take photos of everything to ensure he can’t take anything.

  • After having 75% custody for two years, I just had to sign off on an agreement letting the ex have 50% again (after he voluntarily gave it up previously). The court doesn’t care that he’s a disordered narcissist who is currently cycling through six different girlfriends, a score of casual fuck partners, and lives in a sex commune when he’s not with the kids. All the judge cared about was that he said he wouldn’t do his naughty business on his custody time. If I’d pushed the issue, I might not have even gotten those restrictions, so I felt like I had to go along.

    The kids have been shielded from his crazy-ass life all this time. All they know about him is he’s their fun daddy who never disciplines them or makes them do anything they don’t want to do, and that having 50% custody would be “fair” to him. I’m sick at heart today and I’m worried he’s going to make them over into narcissists like him. I’m the responsible parent, and I get shit on because he has a “lifestyle” that he’s managed to convince the court is protected by law. Oh, and also I’m a bigot, don’t forget that part.

    • Linden, I remember your story. Your ex lives on a “sex commune”? Please talk to your daughters about sex abuse, get them some therapy, and document the hell out of his visitation. I can’t believe this guy is getting unsupervised visitation. Wow. Until that situation changes (and I hope to God it doesn’t take a tragedy for that to happen) — please help your daughters learn how to enforce boundaries and speak up. Hopefully they’ll soon be of an age when the court will listen to their preferences about visitation.

      • He’s agreed not to take them to the commune, and if I ever find out he’s broken the court order on that, I’m going to nail his ass to the wall. I don’t care what he does on his time, but he needs to leave the kids out of it. So I will continue to be the vigilant custody police for the next five years as I have been for the past five, which the judge said she finds an appropriate role for me to take. FML.

    • Sorry to hear that. Can you offer us parents with young children any insight?

      I keep meaning to ask you- your screen name, are you in doubt? Is it a reference to Latin? What are you in doubt over?

      • René Descartes was a French philospher, mathematician, and scientist (1596-1650). In his Discourse on the Method (1637) he wrote, “Je pense, donc je suis;” (“I think, therefore I am.”) The phrase originally appeared in French and Latin to reach a wider audience than Latin alone would have allowed. It was Latinized to (or French-ed from?): “Cogito ergo sum.” Antoine Léonard Thomas (1732-1785), a French poet and literary critic, later added the “dubito.” (“Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum (“I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.”))

        It’s a play on my name. I doubt everything.

        • and Thomas’s addition of “dubito” corresponds nicely with Descartes’s dualism (body and soul/mind must be separate entities because one can doubt that one’s body exists, but as soon as one doubts that one’s soul/mind exists, one has proven its existence [doubt being a mental property]).

          but, Ian, you wrote ” I doubt everything,” ….except that cheaters suck.

        • Aaaah. There’s also the Latin / legal term ‘In dubio pro reo’ which means something like ‘innocent until proven guilty’. I thought your name was a reference to that and a play on your doubt of your Cheater’s guilt.

          My favourite is the pretend Latin ‘Nolite te bastardes carborundorum’ (or something like that):

          ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’

          Oh yes, cheaters definitely, definitely suck. ?

  • Schools really need to stop doing this ‘family tree’ stuff. So many reasons (like the poster’s situation) not to do it–plus adoption, not knowing grandparents, etc. etc. This family tree assignment brings us a lot of unnecessary grief for many people; not sure why some schools love this project!

    • Like asking kids what they did on summer vacation, when so many live in poverty or dangerous neighborhoods or have addictive parents.

    • The worst fir my granddaughter were all the references to mom. Tell your mom to sign the fiend trio notice…..

    • I work in in a middle school teaching Spanish, and having students do a family tree labeled in Spanish is part of one of our units. I told my students from the beginning that they could include or exclude whoever they wanted, since my main goal was to see if they could apply the language to their own life. All that was required was a set of grandparents, parents, and siblings, aunts, uncles, or cousins. Some still asked me what to do, since their parents were divorced, or if they didn’t know the names of their grandparents. I told them I was fine with whatever made it easier for them, and that they could make up whatever names they wanted for unknown relatives, since I’d never know if they were correct, anyway. I think a family tree is just a good way to get students familiar with using a graphic organizer, hence the popular assignment.

      I used to work at a high school with a more creative French teacher, who had students create a false family tree for him, which tended to turn out with interesting celebrities. I would have to convince my current department to change the summative assessment so that students could avoid having to do their own family. People think collaboration is a good thing in public schools, and it can be, but sometimes it just ties your hands if you can’t get others to agree with you, and forces you to stifle your creativity as well as the students’.

  • When my daughter was 4 her father was supposed to send for her to visit him in another State. When he did not show up, I told her that was why we were not together….that he would say things and not mean them, and he would say he would do things and not do them. I told her this is “like a lie” and when you grow up you can choose not to be around people that hurt and disappoint you. Especially when they hurt you over & over. I told her it was not her fault and that when she grew up she would understand. She said “ok mommy” and never even asked about it for another 10 years or so. He never contacted her again. I just explained in a way she would understand.
    I decided I would never lie to her to cover for a LIAR!! And I never did.

      • Thanks Jeep! I remember at the time the mental health community seemed to think it was not good to never put an ex spouse in a negative light because it was not good for the child since they were a part of them. I thought this over and although i kind of agreed and thought it was kind of early to tell the truth, but how do you change the story in the future? Better to begin to prepare them for the realities that most likely await. What one can do is tell age appropriate truth, and it worked well for me in other circumstances. Kids seem to gain more confidence when they know you won’t lie.
        Even kids have a sixth sense for things that don’t add up & it only screws with their mind.

        • In a way, when the other parent behaves like your ex (breaking promises, missing visitation, failing to pay support), if a child asks, if you don’t tell the age-appropriate truth, how is that different from gaslighting, other than in intention? The false story creates the dissonance between what a kid is told and what they perceive on their own. So good for you.

          • What can you tell a child when their parent behaves like that? I mean, unless you say “Mommy or daddy is an international spy. S/he keeps having to go on assignments to catch the bad guy and ensure he meets justice. S/he still loves you very much sweetie and would be there for you if s/he could.” Obviously, kids are smart enough to realize that their parent is choosing to not be with them for some reason. I’d think, at that point, the child really needs to know that it isn’t his or her fault that mommy or daddy is so irresponsible or selfish.

  • I agree. When my kids were little, if they would ask me a question, I would answer it honestly and age-appropriately. My kids trust that I will tell them the truth always.

  • I found a drawing 10 year old made a drawing of her own accord of me, my other daughter and my parents and write “my family” at the top of the page. No sign of narc exH anywhere, with whom I share custody. I wondered what prompted that picture.

  • I made a personal commitment at separation that I would not miss a single thing just because his disgusting AP was there (and this piece of trash attended my divorce hearing and stared me down like it was Jerry Springer). The two of them would dress like they were going to a club and expecting paparazzi, just to attend elementary school awards ceremonies and such. They would solicit whoever was nearby to take their picture and generally try to draw lots of attention to themselves. I considered it a big ‘fuck you’ to never miss a thing and to dress and look like my frumpy self so that they didn’t have ideas that I felt it was a competition. It’s empowering when you turn things around in your head and make it obvious who the douche of the situation is. My oldest (13) would always try to get me to dress up and I would tell her this is me and I’m not trying desperately to impress anyone. I can tell that she now understands and has little respect for the two idiots.

    They got tired of the showing-up-to-everything game when they realized I wasn’t engaging. (Remember these are selfish people and they really do not care for sitting through dance recitals unless there is immediate personal reward.) Also, there was a kind of funny incident where my sister started taking very obvious pictures of them from across the room at a preschool graduation. She might’ve snapped and giggled a little. For some reason they didn’t like that, lol.

    • I’ve got news for her. Now that she has married the cheater, she will be starring front and center on the Jerry Springer show. Seriously, I found out my ex is still full of drama, his life with the new wife reminds me of the Jerry Springer show. She wasn’t the AP either, that relationship crashed and burned, this is a new poor sob. Though, I suspect she might have cheated on her ex with my ex. So, she may not be innocent, even if she didn’t hurt me personally.

      • By the way, I LOVE your sister! Props to her for taking photos of them like she’s papparrazzi, lol. My suggestion was that it would be funny to buy a red carpet and put it out for people like this. Then, make a big to do about someone interviewing them and taking pictures like they are the star of the show. Meanwhile, all the other parents can stand by and watch them be entitled idiots.

  • Also, on the topic of what our children call the AP: My ex told the kids they had to call her mommy #2. They came home and told me about it and I couldn’t help but laugh out loud and say “yeah, number two sounds pretty accurate!”

  • “You’re way ahead there. But a lot of kids, in my opinion, cling to the false equivalency — dad’s okay! mom’s okay! Dad is happy now! Mom is happy now! It Was All For The Best. It’s one way to swallow the shit sandwich of divorce.”

    this is so true. i have two step kids plus one of my own. 50% custody of my daughter, whilst my partner’s kids are with us 5 days out of every 7. kids really just want everything to be ok. it’s hard when you know that they’re building a relationship with the ap. to be honest it burns me up sometimes. it’s ok.

    kids don’t want to look under the hood. i agree with those who’ve said let her build the family tree however she likes. focus on the life you have now and enjoy the time as best you can.

    all the best.

  • Thank you for your letter, LC. Our situations are vastly different, but CL’s “It’s a school project, not a referendum on infidelity,” made me howl with laughter and I saw a little common thread.

    I”ve been obsessed all day about something. Should I do this or that? If I do this, what’s the chance that may happen, and that’s important, too… OMG. Everything Is Important and Everything Has Meaning. I just took a breath. Maybe it’s not that important. What a revelation. 10 mins. ago it was the most important thing ever. I couldn’t sleep, got back up, and turned on the light to think some more.

    What a good dad. Your feelings may be justified, your words may score 10 on the truth and morality scale, but it made your little girl cry. Game over. Love beats Being Right. My faith in humanity has been restored a little bit.

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