We have been married 5 years. He’s been cheating for 4. First it was with his boss and then with a secretary. The affair with the secretary is still going on.
I had NO idea. I was blindsided. I thought we were really, really happy. He was charming and handsome and fun. I trusted him completely. I bragged about him to my friends for being such a great family man.
One night, when I was putting my 3-year-old to bed, he told me that he hadn’t gone to Dairy Queen like Daddy said — that he had been at “Mabel’s” house. I checked our cell records, googled the number, and found the woman. I knew her; she had actually been at our baby shower. On D-day I was still recovering from giving birth to our second son — I was breastfeeding a 5-month old baby.
For the next few weeks and months, the truth trickled out: the romantic weekend away while I was 9-months pregnant, them taking my older son out for public outings on several occasions, she came to my home when I was teaching night classes so she could hold our new baby in my living room. It is a long-term, serious, physical and emotional affair.
That was a year ago. I’ve been pick me dancing ever since. He said he broke it off. I discovered several weeks later that he hadn’t. We tried it again. He sent her an email saying it was over. That email was fake. I filed for divorce and asked him to move out. He acted devastated but complied. He said it was over between him and the whore, but then I stopped by his new place and she was there. He acts sorry and begs me not to give up on him, and the cycle goes on for months. I work up my courage and gain some distance, then he acts sorry, and I back down and delay the divorce proceedings.
We’ve been going to marriage counseling for a year — and he points out the progress he’s made. And I go along with it, telling myself that he has made progress. He says he’s not seeing her, that he’s just texting and staying in touch because he is finding it hard to “close that door once and for all.” (Even as I’m typing this I feel like such a loser because even I don’t believe it.)
Here’s my question, I guess: I am seriously considering just saying, “Who cares.” The thought of divorcing, of 50/50 custody, of my children potentially living with that whore 50 percent of the time might be MORE painful than just sticking my head in the sand and moving on with our pleasant, pretend little life. My babies are so little, and the pain of being away from them is excruciating. (I tried to fight for full custody but he is an attorney in our little town and the judge refused to even listen to my testimony!) When I think that she may have the opportunity to hug and cuddle and do bath time with my young sons, I just can’t handle it. Am I nuts for contemplating this?
Dear So Sad,
You aren’t nuts for contemplating it. But I want you to seriously weigh some other scenarios. Let’s play out the decision tree here.
1.) You stay with him and he continues to eat cake.
Pro: You get your “pleasant, pretend little life.” You get to hug, cuddle, and do bath time with your sons.
Con: You’re not preventing the OW from hugs, cuddles, or bath time with your sons. She’s already been in your home. You’ve already consented to his cake eating, and now you get to play marriage police. Do you ever leave your home? Does your husband ever leave? He’ll continue to cheat, based on four years of past behavior. The counseling is bullshit. He’s just “texting” and “staying in touch.” And some licensed therapist listens to that shit and continues to bill you? And doesn’t call him out on it and say “I can’t help you. You’re in an affair. Marriage counseling is pointless”?
Oh no, everyone is happy if you keep smoking the crack pipe of hopium. (And have the therapy bills to show for it.) You’re getting exposed to God knows how many STDs, and you get to live with misery and hypervigilance.
Unless you’re as pathological as he is, I can’t see how you can compartmentalize this into “pleasant.” He’s flagrantly disrespecting you and calling it “progress.”
You miss the lie, I get it. But I don’t think staying with a cake-eater is sustainable. It’s soul death by inches. SS, your soul MATTERS.
2.) You stay with him and he decides to dump you later.
Pro: Not much pro here, but you get to live the pleasant lie a bit longer.
Con: While he’s got you pick me dancing your heart out, he’s feathering his nest, moving assets, and moving out for Schmoopie, leaving you abandoned. If you think your legal case sucks now, try adding emergency temporary support orders.
3.) You divorce him and fight like hell.
Pro: You go on the offensive. You get the biggest, baddest, most respected divorce attorney in your county (who also knows the judge) and you gather all the “he went away with his mistress when I was 9 months pregnant” evidence.
He’s an attorney? Ask your attorney to depose his affair partners. See if he’s done anything shady with the money. (Ask for money spent on affairs back in the division of marital assets.) I’m wondering if you have some leverage on his ethics, as he’s a member of the bar. I’d hate for him to perjure himself…
Con: It’s expensive. And time consuming. And you might not win.
You may be cast as a bitter, scorned woman who is trying to punish him by taking away his children. IMO, you need to cast this as What Is Best For The Children — which is to have the mother who has raised them, and who has DEMONSTRATED that she’s invested the most time and care with them. You say, of course you want their father in their lives (eat that shit sandwich), but he’s so busy (with his fuckbuddies) that you’d be the most consistent parent.
You do NOT cast it as “Can You Believe What He Did to Me?!” I wish that mattered, but sadly from what I read here, it usually does not.
4.) You divorce him and accept 50/50.
Pro: It’s probably a short-lived arrangement. But the biggest pro of divorce is YOU DON’T LIVE WITH HIS CRAZY and you get to build a new life for yourself.
Con: He doesn’t pay child support. Which is usually the strategy of these fuckwits. And you don’t have the time you deserve with your small children.
However, I sincerely doubt this man wants preschoolers 50 percent of the time. So you must take the long view and DOCUMENT. Every time he hands them off to someone else. Every time he leaves them with you. Every time he puts his selfish whims above those of his kids. You document, document, document.
And then, after he’s hung himself with enough rope, you sue for custody. Now, you’ve got more evidence of how much he sucks and how reasonable you have been.
And while it is a big shit sandwich, many guy chumps have had to eat it and survived. And you will too. But really, I think it’s highly unlikely that your husband is single parent material, nor do I think it one bit likely that the OW wants to spend more than an hour with two preschool boys.
Small children are HARD. As moms, we love them, but really very few people want Cheerios ground into their carpets as a lifestyle choice. The first time someone vomits in her hair or has a potty accident, or wakes up with a night terror, the novelty will wear off.
Remember — you’re MOM. It’s primal. No one replaces you.
One last option here, SS — the Chump Lady Strategy.
If I were you, I would ask your husband for a post-nup. Gosh, you so believe all his sorry, sorry remorse, so you’d like to put that in writing with some guarantees. He’s never going to cheat again, right? So if he does, here’s a property settlement and a custody agreement written into a post-nup.
You make him sign that motherfucker and you “reconcile.”
That money you were going to spend on a divorce retainer? You spend on a private investigator.
That’s the best way I know to get the settlement you want. If he balks, then you’re looking at divorce anyway. Good luck.