I sit here writing to you 9 months pregnant with my sixth child, and 4.5 months into a separation, (3 months since it became a legal separation).
I discovered my husband of 10 years was having an affair last October when he drove three states away to meet up with his online affair partner in a hotel. He was supposed to be going “fishing” for the weekend, but being the suspicious (then 10 weeks pregnant) wife that I was, I quickly uncovered the affair. It went down like a cheesy TV drama movie. I checked the phone records, saw a number of calls to this other state, one of which was to a unique number. Called the number, it was a hotel. ($250/night!) After a pause, I said that I forgot my husband’s room number and could they connect me. She answered of course and I calmly asked to be connected to my husband.
The next day he drove back — “nothing happened” — and begged me to reconcile. Scared and sad, I went through two months of false reconciliation only to discover they were still engaged in the affair on Christmas Day. And really, of course they were! I kicked him out (YES! On Christmas! With our five children napping and playing with their toys after Christmas dinner!) and saw a lawyer.
Of course from there, things escalated. It’s been a rocky 4.5 months with him doing everything to prove he’s truly a narcissistic asshole. He got a two-door sports car, a two-bedroom apartment, and goes out of state every other weekend to be with his child-hating (self-proclaimed) tramp. The creepy part is that she looks a lot like me. Eerily like me. She just hates children and loves alcohol and sleeping. I’m a stay-at-home soccer/PTA mom. He claimed that as the cause of the marriage falling apart actually — I spent too much time focused on raising the kids and not enough on him. (Welcome to being a parent?)
He claims he will “fight” me for custody, yet basically ignores the kids except for his current every-other-weekend parenting time. There is so much more drama involved on his end, but I’m doing everything in my power to stay controlled and aloof.
The latest in a string of super awesome choices: he decided it was time to tell our very young (9 and under) kids about the special snowflake. My middle child just came up to me and told me how fun it is to talk/text Daddy’s girlfriend. I’m livid. I know all the crap about how I can’t control what other people do, but I am so furious about the lack of respect. I am sitting here about to birth his sixth child — our divorce isn’t even close to being final — the children have only known about the separation for four months — and here he has been introducing our kids to her (albeit long-distance introductions).
I guess my question is this: What do I do? Can I do anything? We don’t talk except about the children’s schedule or him dropping alimony off.
Why yes, I can think of several things you can do: document, document, and oh, DOCUMENT.
I’m trying to imagine how his full custody is going to go in that two-bedroom apartment. What? Him in one room, six 9-and-under (one a newborn?!) kids in another?
Oh, and how much room for carseats in the back of that sports car?
These are the kinds of details family court just loves. Cheating on a pregnant mother of five is not exactly a ringing character endorsement either. And while I wish courts cared about the egregiousness of introducing small children to affair partners, from what I read here, they do not. Some do, I hope you get that judge — but this guy is such a flaming fuckwit, you’ll never run out of material demonstrating his unwillingness to parent.
And that’s where you really need to focus your legal battle — on the best interest of the kids. He SAYS X, and he DOES Y. And then you document every. single. thing. you do as a parent. How much time it takes, how much it costs, every hour you have them, and every hour he does not. You make charts and PowerPoint presentations. You get highlighter pens and binders with plastic sleeves and you stuff down the injustice and you DOCUMENT.
Because documentation is the ammunition of legal warfare.
He’s going to go into battle armed with his colossal sense of entitlement, and he will underestimate his chumpy little chump. You might have to go to court, boobs leaking from that 6th kid, but drop documentation bombs on his head like it was Dresden. Investigate his finances (how does he afford this crap?), what he’s spent on his affairs, how he communicates with Schmoopie, how little he communicates with his children. Amortize the cost of 6 children over the next 18 years. Hit him HARD.
And when he threatens you? Like that going after you for full custody? (Which… huh? Didn’t he cheat because you spend too much time with the kids… so he’d like more time with the kids?) Don’t respond. Leave it to your lawyer. Your pit bull, high-conflict divorce lawyer. (If you don’t have one of these, get one.) If he can afford a sports car, he can afford your legal bills — money you’re going to ask for.
The next thing you’re going to do, Elizabeth, is start making a long-term plan to free yourself from this fuckwit financially. He drops off the alimony?
No he does not. This is not alms for the poor. You get that shit enforced by the state and docked from his paycheck. Get away from this dynamic of him ever having to “do” for you. He is checked out, fucking around. He’s not going to do for you and the kids unless the heavy boot of the law is pressed firmly upon his neck. Make sure you put it there.
After the divorce is final (because you don’t want the income now as the court will be determining child support and alimony), you go back to work, or to school to train for a new profession. I know six kids is a full-time job of its own, and this is going to take a huge degree of mightiness, but I don’t want you to rely on this guy for money. Focus on your independence. He could lose his job, blow all his money on bimbos, hide his assets, and do any number of things to screw you over for the next 18 years. Create big buffers of financial independence so it does not matter.
I know that none of this advice helps in the short-term, while you’re about to have a baby in the middle of a divorce. While he’s introducing Schmoopie-flavor-of-the-month to the kids. I know all of this is terribly painful. Please take the long view and surround yourself with the very best support right now, between loving family and friends — and a kickass attorney.
I’m proud of you for not taking his crap and throwing him out on Christmas day. He’s introducing his girlfriend? You have some introductions of your own to make — consequences.