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Dear Chump Lady, I have a Switzerland cousin

backstabberDear Chump Lady,

My cousin is very close to me and my soon-to-be-exwife. My cousin was my STBXW’s maid of honor. My 9-year marriage was very rocky and at the end my STBXW cheated on me.

I had a lot of heart-to-heart talks with my cousin about how devastated I was and how I was coping. She was supportive, and said that she wouldn’t go out of her way to stay in contact with my STBXW, but that if my STBXW wanted to see my cousin’s girls (she has two small daughters, my nieces), she wouldn’t forbid it. This didn’t bother me at first, but then it did. I had paid visits to see my nieces about five times this year, and it was great. It felt good to leave my troubles behind and bond with them. But then I found out that my STBXW had also visited them, without my knowledge.

For some reason, I felt hurt. I told my cousin that it hurt to know that they were spending time with my STBXW. My cousin replied that she supported me, and cared about how I felt, and that if I wanted the contact to end, she would end it. She also told me that she disagreed with how my STBXW’s cheating, but gave 6 reasons for why cutting my STBXW made her feel uncomfortable:

  1. my STBXW was family for a long time,
  2. my cousin didn’t know everything that went on between me and my STBXW,
  3. that I was partly responsible for the deterioration of the marriage,
  4. that the kids enjoyed spending time with STBXW,
  5. whatever trouble there was between me and my STBXW was none of my cousin’s business or fault, and
  6. that my STBXW had never done anything personally against my cousin.

I had been making good progress in my healing, but this set me back. I feel a little more isolated now, like nobody understands me. I get the feeling that my cousin thinks I’m being too judgmental or that I should get over it because I brought this on myself. I don’t know. Maybe I’m expecting too much of my cousin. Am I infringing upon her boundaries when I expect her to feel and understand the same rage/despair/injustice that I feel? Maybe I should adjust my healing strategy so that it relies less on seeing my cousin and her kids. Is this what they mean by Switzerland friend? Any advice/insight is appreciated. Thank you.


Dear ProdigalMe,

I’m going to give you 6 reasons your cousin isn’t telling you for why she’s not cutting your STBXW out of her life.

  1. She values her friendship with the cheater more than she values her relationship with you.
  2. She’s also your STBXW’s confident. In fact, she probably knew about the cheating before you did.
  3. She’s all about herself — STBXW likes her? Likes her children? Then she’s in! Validation! Why can’t cousin have ALL the kibbles? “Neutrality” means double kibble portions. If she quits your STBXW, she gets half kibble portions.
  4. She thinks you deserved to be cheated on.
  5. You’re not the boss of her.
  6. She doesn’t care about your pain so much as she likes a front row seat to the drama.

I’m sorry. You probably think I’m saying mean things about your cousin, but I can tell this by what you wrote. Let me put her reasons through the Universal Bullshit Translator.

my STBXW was family for a long time,

Define family. You mean that person you’re divorcing? For cheating on you? Hey, just because she cheated on you, doesn’t mean I have to recognize your divorce. I get to define family on MY terms and I include your STBXW. I don’t find your reasons for divorcing her valid.

Or really, I don’t care. But I’ll say “family” because that sounds more noble than “unsupportive” or “oblivious to your pain.”

my cousin didn’t know everything that went on between me and my STBXW,

There must be a good reasons you deserve to have been cheated on. She doesn’t know what it is, but surely it must be there and that Thing is the Universal Thing that explains why your cousin can do what she wants to.

that I was partly responsible for the deterioration of the marriage,

The UBT doesn’t have to work too hard on this one — she outright says it — she blames you for your STBXW’s cheating.

Excuse me, she blames you “in part” — a spoonful of sugar to “you brought this on yourself.”

that the kids enjoyed spending time with STBXW,

You wouldn’t want to HURT THE CHILDREN would you?!

This is just mindfuckery from your cousin. I promise you those kids don’t care one whit if some ex-aunt comes around occasionally.

And if they do? And everyone is sad that the relationship has to end? The person who broke it is your cheating wife. I’m sorry your cousin is too gutless to say, “You cheated on my cousin and you’re not welcome here.”

whatever trouble there was between me and my STBXW was none of my cousin’s business or fault, and that my STBXW had never done anything personally against my cousin.

Because that’s who really matters here, your cousin.

I’m sorry Prodigal. She’s being pretty clear where her priorities are and with whom. I would distance yourself from her, as sad as that is.

Sure you could ask her how she would feel if her husband cheated on her, and you wanted to stay buddies with him, but that would require empathy. You’d get a more satisfying response if you directed that question to a moldering pile of cow dung.

Yes, your cousin is a Switzerland friend. Which is to say, she’s not your friend at all.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Noo, ChumpLady, say it is not so!

    This letter describes….my adult sons. My PendingX’s stepsons.

    The reasons they give for staying in touch with the PX are: the same. And they stayed in touch without telling me because “it might upset me to know”. They can see “both sides”. PX is a “great grandfather” and their kids should not lose their only “grandfather” because of our divorce. Not to mention that PX kept the beach house in the settlement, and well, it is summer, and they are scheduled to go to the beach house, because, after all Mom, it is “tradition” and their kids are “sad” that they might miss a summer at that particular beach house.

    The fact that I offered to keep the beach house if they would help with expenses, and they declined, does not matter.

    AND, the PX’s “other side” of “both sides”?? He is and has been for unknown years, a sexual compulsive who visited massage parlors and such, who spend 2 to 5 hours a day looking at very hard core, bisexual, teenager porn, who had multiple secret affairs at work with subordinates, who is a secret mantenance alcoholic and was using street drugs….at, wait for it, 74 years old. That is “his side” that my adult sons are “seeing”…

    I found all this “by accident” and have been separated NC since then, pending my divorce. This man and his addictions destroyed my life, left me alone at 62, gave me PTSD. I have slowly been picking up the pieces. And my sons desert me for a… beach house???? And a disgusting, creepy, betraying POS?

    I am not speaking to them. Ever again. Until they come to their senses, probably sometime after their beach vacation.

    I get it, I really do. I now see who they are. But I have to tell you, it hurts like hell, and is just another betrayal of the first magnitude.

    And ChumpLady writes it all down, and translates it. Ohhhhh. OUCH.

    • I am so sorry you are going through this, VaGrace. Sending you hugs from afar. I was going to tell my little story of a family friend, but compared to this from your own sons? That’s nothing.

    • VaGrace, I’m so sorry for what you’re going through. I have two sons and one of them was very angry and distanced himself from his dad, but the other is still very close to him. In fact, that son spends a lot of time at my ex’s vacation resort home with his wife. When I found out about that it hurt like hell, because I now live in a small house that’s not a resort home. However, it’s been 4 years since our divorce and the pain has lessened. The son who is closest to his dad is now expecting his first child, and he is calling more and sharing his excitement. We’ve had some really nice times together the last year or so. I’m getting better at viewing my ex as a distant relative that is supportive of the kids, instead of my competitor. At one point I was so angry and hurt that I decided if my one son wanted to hang out with the man who destroyed our family I would just stay away, but I’ve let that all go now. As the bond that I had with my husband dissolves, it gets easier and easier.

      Your sons are probably at the age where it’s more about them, and they really just don’t understand the depth of pain you’re in. However, I don’t understand why your sons would want their children around someone who looks at hardcore porn all the time. I guess it’s up to them to decide what type of influence they want on their children. In the meantime, just focus on the time you have with your grandchildren and be grateful for it.

      Hang in there!

    • I’m so very sorry VG. My situation is similar except it’s my stepsons and their wives who have abandoned me in favour of their lying, cheating, happy-ending massage, father. I also got the, “two sides to every story,” bullshit. The older son explained to his young daughters that although my STBX was a bad husband, he’s a good grandpa. Yeah, right. If he had put 1/2 he money he spent on whores toward his grandkids education, then maybe he could be considered an OK grandpa.
      I’m so sad to have lost my step kids and their families; but, there’s simply no room in my life for people who accept that sort of deplorable behavior.
      Many hugs and good wishes to you.

      • Va

        What helped me with this was knowing my adult children needed to make these decisions on their own. My therapist recommended stepping back as he stated The Limited was not capable of maintaining ANY Relationship.

        It hurt to see the disturbed mentally I’ll whore embrace my daughter and to imagine my granddaughter being anywhere near her.

        My children set major boundaries limiting contact with the disturbed couple to twice a year for two hours. My granddaughter has minimal contact and the things she reported are enough to keep her away. Guess who gets blamed anyway?

        Treat your children as you always have and I believe they will lessen contact on their own. It’s painful.

        Children miss the parent they fanticized about. Without you there believe they don’t look so hot. Children are also grieving the loss.

        I hear things like, I don’t know this man, he acts like her, he doesn’t laugh anymore. Yup, the despackled with a coat of crazy whore glue doesn’t work for them. And they hear the fantabulous magical dreams he talks about and it’s eye roll time. Hang in there.

      • Same as you guys above, My older stepsons were supportive at first, disgusted with their Dad. NOw he’s moved, he’s obviously told them “his side of the story” . Ha ha. I found out he had been telling them for over a year that we were not getting on and would separate, hadn’t told me, didn’t tell anyone he was banging his ex wife no.2. So he’d been peddling his lies for a long time. I helped those kids out so much, taught them to drive, drove them to countless job interviews before that, sorted out and paid for their studies, helped them get jobs. They lived with their mother 40 kms away and I still had to sort out their school stuff, talk to the school counsellor etc. Now they ignore me. I accept their father is their father and I never expected or wanted them to cut him out, quite the contrary, I have encouraged them to work on their relationship with him, which was always very bad. But why cut me out? I would have been grateful for Switzerland step kids.
        Sorry for all of you, losing the step kids and the family hurts more than losing the cheater who was usually abusing you anyway.

        • I agree, it just infuriated me that my ex’s stupid decisions caused me to lose relationships with people in his family I’d been building for 36 years. It certainly has made it tough for me to want to get attached to anyone again.

      • Bravo Valerie:

        “I’m so sad to have lost my step kids and their families; but, there’s simply no room in my life for people who accept that sort of deplorable behavior”


    • I’m in the same boat here, I feel like as long as they are not the ones getting the direct hit they’re ok with it. After all he just made a mistake and boys will be boys. And gosh, dad said you hadn’t had sex for years. Barf. You know the flip side is, if it were true than I also had not had sex for years and I didn’t cheat! Tired of it all

    • I hope Tracy will weigh in on this, but I think children, and adult children are completely different from Switzerland friends. It is incredibly difficult to completely cut off a parent, that you have loved for years, just because they are assholes. Children stay i. Touch with and forgive parents who are murderers, drug users, neglectful and or abusive. Loving our parents is just hard-wired into us. You can demand that friends decide if this is the type of person they want to stay friends with. They pick wrong, and you don’t need them. But you shouldn’t try to force your kids to cut off a parent. Of course, most cheaters are so entitled and narcississtic that they find it hard to maintain their relationship with their kids without the chump running interference, so they may end up choosing to have no relatinship with the cheating parent. But, it is a decision you should let your children make without threatening to cut them off.

      • I am grateful to know I am not alone in this,
        but am sad others have to feel this pain.

        These are MY sons, not the POS’s sons, but they do love him. POS was unable to maintain any relationship with his own three kids, even before the revelations… Of course the reason he had a relationship with my sons is that I protected them and spackled to hide his odd behaviors.

        And I know they will discover his real self.

        I am just so hurt. I have received the blow of my life and they want me to stay their rock. Give give give, take take take. And that is my fault for spoiling them as a single parent from birth to college….

          • Dianne. You are not alone. It’s hard to choke down that this person seems to get a pass with the kids with some “I was wrong, but . . . ” bullshit story. All those years of devotion while being defrauded gets reduced to that and the explanation gets accepted, and we’re just supposed to be strong and move on.

            There is too little understanding of the devestation that comes with betrayal, and it’s unreasonable to expect you to “stay their rock” when you can’t even feed yourself a sandwich. I trust that age and maturity will bring enlightenment to our children, and they will understand the cruelty and heartlessness of what the cheater did, and why their betrayed dad/mom went off the rails for a while.

          • That was poorly done on my part. My kids were older, 18 and 16, on D-day, and could not have been more outraged at their mother and supportive of me. They endured me at my worst, and saw me cry, get angry, and say things I regret. That had to be traumatizing for them to see, and I feel terrible about it. They are the best two kids ever.

            It was not unreasonable for them to expect me to be the stable parent that I had been, show them resilience, and strength. It was totally reasonable. That’s what they expected and needed. I just could not do it, and I accept that I was seriously impaired emotionally. I hope they understand someday that the circumstances were extraordinary, and that even strong people can come untethered under enough trauma.

            Things have changed for them and they are back on good terms with their mother. If it makes them feel better, and I think it does, I’m glad. What passes for a backstory explaining her conduct is probably what irks me so much.

      • My young adult children did not find it incredibly difficult to completely cut off their parent. They have been full-on No Contact with XH since January 2015. He has called, texted, emailed, snail mailed, showed up at their school/job, and used family and friends to try to reach them. No dice.

        I didn’t demand that they choose between us. The “hard-wiring” only exists in a healthy parent-child relationship, a near impossibility for an entitled, narcissistic cheater. I don’t think it’s wrong to model accountability to our children.The truth is when you do terrible things, there are terrible consequences.

        • I told my kids their relationship with X was their business. He subtly forced them to side with him and his pity party. I never cut them off. Once I told them I was not taking responsibility for his actions they cut me off.

          • So sorry new day. My children caught him in lies during the divorce and finally saw him. He went from being there to using them.

            • My son,26 & 5 yrs out, has been asking why can’t I go back to his dad. At first he understood, but not now… We are separated, still just winging our life. It’s very difficult.

    • I’m also so sorry that you’re going through this, and anyone else who’s feeling hurt or betrayed by their adult children. I am so thankful for this column today as this is the ONLY issue I still struggle with after 8 years (I know, it’s been a long time and I have come so far but when it comes to my adult kids, twins D31 giving my cheater a free pass “because he’s my dad”. It just makes me sick and feel extremely out of control, yet I say nothing to them about it. Youngest D27 has had no contact since he walked out the door… his loss. She had my back and always will. I guess it will take my older daughters to experience that deep a betrayal before they could even slightly understand how I felt/still feel. They tell me that they wish to stay single so that they don’t ever have to experience what I went through yet they party with him on the weekends at the local beach bar since he now owns our beach house that was supposed to be for our retirement. I mean seriously, how many adult women party and drink with their daddy there in the front row in front of the band? Am I the only one who thinks that’s just really weird??

  • I like CL’s 6 reasons. Especially 1 and 2. I believe number 2 ( no pun ) even though I don’t know her, to be a likely scenario.
    And I propose a number 7, the cousin may be cheating herself.

    Ladies I am not an expert on women, God knows. My history screams it. But I’ve learned a few things of late.
    But, it seems likely.

        • +2! I experienced this myself…..

          After becoming friends with POP’s female cousin and having poured my heart out to her by email many times, I realized she never once commiserated. Never said a negative word about how her cousin had navigated his 2 failed marriages (he cheated—duh), his children’s very rational disdain for him nor what he put ME through.

          Then she suddenly admitted to me that she had been in a 30 yr ’emotional affair’ with her first boyfriend. She’d maintained it throughout her entire marriage and she was spilling it to me because the AP had moved to her town. She was giddy about the deceitful meetings in Home Depot–yep. She obviously expected ME to be ‘hey, that’s soooo cool. I am delighted to hear this!’ or something.

          Her husband got into her computer and read her messages to me and she was BUSTED. She wrote to me that she explained to him as ‘HATC is all about drama. I just made it up to entertain her’…..Yeah, I was PISSED AS HELL TO BE USED AS A SCAPEGOAT. Her husband didn’t buy that crap and clamped down on her like you can imagine….

          A few weeks later, the next thing I know she’s texting me that she’s at a DIFFERENT ‘male friend’s house (he’s like my brother! We go play pool together and my husband is a-ok with it)’…..’he just got out of the shower and he came over and kissed me….his wife is in the other room.’ Anyone else wondering WHY she was in his bedroom while he showered —-with his wife in the other room?????

          Needless to say I backed the hell away from the situation and blocked her.

          POP’s father was a lifelong cheater with a second family on the side, one of his brothers was a cheater with a second family, POP was a serial cheater his entire life and his female cousin was a cheater.

          It’s all good in their world.

          NOT IN MINE.

          • (This was way before my drama) but one of my friends (who had 4kids) found out that her husband had a porn issue and was having an affair. She divorced him. One of our mutual childhood friends took the “you never know what goes on in someone’s marriage” stance. I was horrified and have been distant ever since. But I just remembered that she cheated in college with one of her good friends boyfriends. I never trusted her though. That just reiterates that cheaters support cheaters.

    • Since Switzerland cousin thinks ProdigalMe’s STBXW gets a pass because ProdigalMe was such a horrible husband that it was okay to cheat on him, I wonder if she’ll feel that the STBXW gets a pass after STBXW hooks up with Switzerland Cousin’s husband. After all, if Switzerland Cousin were such a terrific wife, then her husband wouldn’t cheat with the STBXW.

      See. this is where cheater apologists get everything wrong. When you find out that someone doesn’t honor the marriage vows–either because they’re married and they’re cheating or they’re single and sleeping with a married person–you shouldn’t be surprised when they hit on you or your spouse.

  • Oh, hey, whoops:

    “This is just mindfuckery from your cousin. I promise you those kids don’t care one whit if some ex-aunt comes around occasionally.”

    I 100% completely disagree with this. It’s been 40 years and I *still* care that certain “ex” family members disappeared from my life because of any adult’s inability to handle a visit to Switzerland. Children like wholeness and certainty and need it. If the adults can’t pull it together and behave well to each other, that’s too bad. But if adults can’t get it together periodically to behave well for the children, that’s a shame.

    Children ARE Switzerland. They don’t give a shit if their aunt and uncle can’t sleep in the same bed anymore, or if you can’t even look at your spouse. Children care that you are there for THEM. Up to a certain age, they are not even *aware* of adult intimacy mechanisms, or that those might be broken, or whose fault it is, or why or what the consequences are. And divorce just causes a missing person, a hole torn in their family fabric.

    Don’t assume that hole gets sewn up or forgotten over the years. Losing a favored aunt or uncle in childhood is still a loss, and pain is relative, so to speak. I disagree with CL on that paragraph and would expect anyone dealing with children to give more weight to those children’s feelings. When you are dealing with kids in this type of adult situation, do not expect children to understand, or to take sides, or to “not notice”. And do NOT expect them to forget, or to not care that someone isn’t there anymore where they used to be.

    Children are Switzerland. Be nice when you visit. And visit them a lot; children profit from your frequent tourism.

    They also profit from your STBX’s frequent tourism. Unless he is destabilizing the cousin’s home or marriage, or is a child molester. <– Yes, I said that.

    On the surface, there is nothing wrong with the cousin's statements. People who have not experienced adultery, abuse, or divorce are not to be counted on to understand what you are going through. And fear trumps family and friendship sometimes, when anyone has to face *your* divorce. If someone can face it down with you, great. If they can stay on your side, that's great too. But unless the marriage has fallen apart for very visible reasons, and especially if it affects children — other people by and large will just be stupefied. And you don't have time to school them on it and if they are raising kids, honestly it is not their priority to be following your new terms or redrawing the family boundaries against whoever is supposed to be exiled.

    Unless the reasons for divorce are *screamingly* obvious, don't expect family to close off against family.

    What is blatantly missing here is the likelihood that the STBX will ultimately detach from family ties on their own. I read the entire post with the preconception that it was a cheating husband at issue, and only just now see that it is a cheating wife. That changes things just a little: you're up against a sisterhood, and sorry, a lot of times sister trumps cousin. It's not a bitch thing: it's survival. It may be instinctively perceived that STBXW as a female has on some level "more" to offer as an aunt, sister, and mentor to the girls. That she has cheated on you isn't necessarily a problem while the girls are young.

    If she heads for the cousin's man, however, your cousin will dispatch her quickly enough. And she will know directly how to explain it to her kids, if she as their mother thinks it's important to explain it at all.

    I'm sorry for what you're in; I know it hurts. But I know children care more than was suggested here. Your cousin may know that, too. Things will restabilize over the years.

        • If you throw out a word or phrase that has absolutely nothing to do with what was just previously said, it causes the brain to tilt because of the disconnected absurdity of the word, and forget the point it was just hearing. It is diversion used to throw the conversation off balance.

            • I know that. 🙂 I was explaining use of “pineapple”. I guess I should have also said that I don’t think it was appropriate in this context.

              • I disagree with Lucky Seven, and read the comment, especially “for the children” and “the sisterhood” as cheater-apologist excuses for the cousin’s bad behavior, which to me came across as a chump-baiting troll. Others below have expressed my thoughts better than I could. But if Chump Lady says not a troll, then I defer to her judgement.

        • Okay, I get it. Thanks. I understand LuckySeven’s points and don’t view them at all “troll”ish. I think it really depends on just how close children actually are with a particular relative. But whether the children in this case are the true reason for cousin maintaining a relationship with ex or just an excuse, Prodigal needs to distance himself from cousin. Which is sad.

        • Lucky

          ” But unless the marriage has fallen apart for very visible reasons, and especially if it affects children — other people by and large will just be stupefied.”

          The minute the word ‘cheating’ enters the conversation, as the reason for the divorce that should be considered a very concrete concept.

          I don’t believe she was stupefied. She justified the reasons she didn’t give a shit about him. Yet, I believe she perhaps WAS very close with the cheater as she was her maid of ‘honor’. Bottom line she didn’t care that she CHEATED. There is honor among thieves apparently. It’s best to know who has your back.

    • No, LuckySeven. Just no.

      ProdigalMe’s ex is/was BFF with his cousin. Switzerland cousin is just using the kids as an excuse. She probably heard all the juicy details as the affair was unfolding. Women who are part of the “sisterhood” you’re so excited about tell each other that crap.

      I’m with Jim. Cousin is a cheater, too. They probably sent the kids off to play and exchanged cheater stories.

      • Totally agree, Elizabeth. Swiss cousin loves them juicy tidbits. Makes her feel important to be “in” on it. The kids couldn’t care less. I also believe she is a cheater, or is contemplating it. She is no friend of ProdigalMe’s.

    • Lucky7, I get your point, that we should all endeavor to not make children choose sides. I think this is true among parents. My standard line is tell the truth, don’t editorialize (ie., mom is a slut) and recognize that they deserve to love the other parent, and will figure out their own relationship in time.

      This is not that situation. This is a cousin by marriage. I’m weighing my thumb on the scale that small children are more interested in their parents, their own age-appropriate friends, their grandparents, their teachers, and pretty much most people more than the wife of a cousin of their mother.

      Don’t Upset The Children is often a subterfuge of Don’t Assert A Boundary or CHILDREN WILL SUFFER.

      I call bullshit that the children will suffer much from the loss of this cousin-wife.

      That said, maybe they will suffer. Maybe they’re deeply devoted to this woman and cousin and cheater are besties and they see her for every major occasion. It’s not fair, it’s painful, but as a parent sometimes you have to make tough calls about what kind of people you let hang around your kids. Sometimes life calls you to edit.

      The cousin, IMO, if called upon to edit, will edit Prodigal. That’s what her “neutrality” tells me.

      • I totally agree. It doesn’t sound like the cheater in the OP’s letter really has that much contact with these children. Just because someone is distantly related to a child through marriage doesn’t mean that child is close to the person, or even actually KNOWS them, for that matter.

        My entire family on my bio-father’s side disappeared after my parents divorced. I never felt any especial loss or sadness because they were never close to begin with.

        But even if the kids are sad, that’s okay. There are many hard lessons to be learned in life, one of which is that when people do bad things, there are consequences that not only hurt that person, they also hurt the people AROUND that person.

      • In the first sentence, it says the cousin was the STBXW’s maid of honor. Only a sister or very close friend will fill this duty. I have friends that are closer than some members of my family.

        • Working It Out, it could also be that the ex did not have close friends or they weren’t close by to be in the wedding. She could have already alienated her friends and family by then. We see it on here all the time.

        • I had one of my ex’s sisters as a bridesmaid, not because I was close to her, but because it was a nice gesture to his family. So you may be right, but bridal party decisions are often rather “political” in nature.

    • I see your points and applaud your desire to put kids first. That is compassionate of you. I also see the high probability of true risk to the kids in many situations. If kids see people harm others consequence-free and they are fed a big dose of image management from someone they love while it’s happening without any filters, that behavior modeling can be exceedingly harmful.

      It’s one thing for a child to be able to see a person when the need arises without being burdened with adult concepts and out in the middle. It’s another thing for children to keep getting confusing messages from the person on a regular basis.

      Separating relationships already has so much fallout. Losing things and grieving are part of life. The lines often aren’t sharp. But I totally grasp why a person who has been attacked by a monster would want to shield the kids fr further unnecessary exposure to the monster, and why it’s at least an orange flag if other adults don’t want to do the same.

    • Don’t remove the fact that any natural distancing from family members is a consequence. Going out of your way to make things cushy for the cheater is removing consequences that they *chose* over their family. Nobody’s advocating for being anything less than cordiality here, either. Certainly, when the cousin and her daughters run into STBXW while out shopping, at somebody else’s cookout, or whatever, they may very well choose to wave and nod. They may even exchange pleasantries, whatever. But going out of your way to secure special one-on-one time with the architect of your family member’s downfall? Yeah, that might be a little messed up. Really, it boils down to what @strong woman said below: “children learn what they live. I’m not teaching my kids that cheating, lying, gaslighting and blameshifting are ever ok.” Kids who are told that this behavior is fine, end up accepting that kind of treatment when they become adults. And I can’t imagine you would ever want your child to living in a narcissist’s prison, not standing up for themselves. So let’s afford these nieces that support as well.

      • I couldn’t agree more with chump-tasting comment:
        “Kids who are told that this behavior is fine, end up accepting that kind of treatment when they become adults.”
        When I was deep into my Day and working on (what I thought was) repairing our marriage I asked my X ‘If our daughter comes to you telling you her husband is doing the exact same thing that you’re doing to me (multi 30 somethings) would you tell her that she needs to accept this kind of behavior from him?’
        His response was stammering of, “well, um, not sure I can judge that,’
        I then asked “Why should I then? I’m demonstratin to our daughter that this cheating behavior is acceptable and should be tolerated and I don’t agree with that. I don’t accept it, I won’t tolerate it so you are done!”
        Kids do learn from adults, as we are their role models. They will either learn this kind of behavior is acceptable and do it in life, or they will learn there are INDEED consequences for their actions and learn how hurtful or destructive it can be.

    • LuckySeven,
      While I understand and support the principles you are talking about I disagree and here’s why…
      Cheating, as most of us know, is not a singular crime. It comes with lies, deceit, and abuse in its smallest form. you can add all sorts of criminal activity and abusive behavior from there. Most of us know if they lied about the other person or people they were having sex with they lied about other things such as money they stole from us, disease they gave to us and a whole host of other illegal and shitty behavior. In short these people are users. It’s what they do and it’s who they are. The STBXW is using the cousin’s children to keep tabs on the chump and have something to hold over the chump “see, I’m such a good person, even your cousin is choosing me over you.” If she truly felt bad about what she had done she would be ashamed to show her face to the chump’s family, but she’s not the image management if far more important and she has no shame.
      We expect parents to edit when it comes to their kids. No, you can’t hang our with Billy, because he is 12 and has a criminal record, lies constantly and does drugs. To me this is the same, no you can’t hang out with your ex-aunt because she’s a liar who uses people and manipulates others for her own gain or just her amusement.

    • So…this “sisterhood” of the cousin and the STBXW is a bond stronger than family loyalty and that’s the message we should send the children? Uh no. Totally disagree. I want to surround my children with people who possess integrity regardless of their gender. The message I would give my children is that Cousin Prodigal has been hurt and we are going to help him through a hard time because that’s what family does: takes care of family. Cousin STBXW? She was mean to Cousin Prodigal and we aren’t going to be around her anymore. She’s in a permanent time out. Bad behavior = consequences is a message all children should be familiar with.

    • Lucky7, IF these were Prodigal’s own children I would agree that this would be a shit sandwich he might have to choke down. We often have to do that when we breed with a cheater. However, even though Prodigal is fond of his little cousins, their mother now has made it known that she will continue to be friends with his STBX. Cousin’s failure to mention her simultaneous relationship with Prodigal’s STBX all while he was CONFIDING in her is added salt in the wound. This discovery means a continued relationship with his cousin (and her children by proxy) has strings attached. She is overlooking and accepts STBX’s cheating behavior because of X, Y, and Z regardless of the impact it has on Prodigal. Cousin’s love is broad and encompassing as long as she hasn’t been the one burned.

      This is an entirely OPTIONAL shit sandwich situation. Prodigal’s mental well-being at this point takes precedence over little cousins. Their growth and development will not suffer due to his absence from their lives. Prodigal is not central to their lives. They might suffer if they learn from their mom that it’s ok to be friends with shady people, but he has no control over that…. IF the joy of being around his little cousins can outweigh the mental anguish of being around their mother, THEN Prodigal may choose to continue visiting them all on a regular basis. However, if that’s NOT the case (as he has indicated), then he should DISTANCE himself and NOT feel guilty about it. It is a sad and painful situation all around, but it’s best to surround yourself will tribe of supporters who provide you with a sense of safety and security during a high conflict divorce.

      Perhaps Prodigal can see the little cousins at large family gatherings where he can feel secure in the presence of other family members who have totally written off his STBX.

      • Over and Out I partly agree with you about Prodigal seeing his little cousins at larger gatherings. However I think staying away from his Switzerland cousin plays into the cheating wife’s hand. She is occupying family territory and edging him out of his relationships with his nephews/ nieces.
        That’s actually very devious and vicious. Prodigal cousin’s is at best an idiot and this is a really painful discovery for Prodigal. If he can manage more than getting together with his nieces/nephews on the less frequent large gatherings, I would advise him to maintain visits to his cousin: focus on the kids while he is there, limit his conversations with his cousin to superficial matters and the kids, shut down any talk about his cheating ex, about his own state of mind, personal life etc. Basically, if he can, cut out the cousin mentally but show up physically to maintain a relationship with his nieces/nephews. If you can bear it Prodigal, fight not to let that cheating whore elbow you out of your own family. That’s if you care deeply about seeing the rest of the family, especially the next generation. Quietly to yourself, write off your cousin. She’s either a traitor or she’s so stupid she’s a liability anyway.
        Good luck, and I hope that cheating whore doesn’t rob you of your own family.

        • I don’t see it as an issue STBX elbowing Prodigal out, but rather an issue of how his cousin RESPONDED to his feelings of hurt and betrayal at discovering the fact she HID her continued friendship with STBX while he was confiding in her about his marital situation AND that she will allow STBX to continue her visits.

          Instead of validating his feelings, she basically told him “Gee, I’m sorry for your pain, but here’s a list of reasons why I, personally, don’t want to end my friendship with her.” Cousin has taken the stance that “all of that” didn’t involve her, it takes two to tango, and STBX was and still is nice to her. Ok, it is within her rights to feel that way and to make her own choices. However, her statement “if Prodigal wants the contact to end, she would end it” places the burden of making that decision for her on HIS shoulders… (He essentially becomes the fall-guy.)

          So, Prodigal is now questioning whether or not he is over-reacting to this new turn of events… I don’t think so. IMO, family or not, being around someone like that is not helping his state of mind. He’s in the middle of cutting ties with his STBX and getting back up on his feet again.

          Distance yourself from people who aren’t fundamentally lifting you up, even if that includes some family members.

    • LuckySeven while I understand what you are saying (I too had parents divorce when I was younger and had to navigate through the kids/family thing)…but I highly doubt my exes family is lamenting my absence from my nieces and nephews. I haven’t seen them in years and I doubt I will ever see them again. My niece and nephew haven’t seen my ex and they don’t miss him. I guess, like others say, it depends on the ages of the children and the true nature of the relationship. I can see your point in relation to a couples children or to spending time with cousins…which the parent on that side will address. But in this instance I also can’t say I agree this is putting children in the middle. I don’t necessarily see this relationship in the same way….??

  • My own sister, who has been my confident throughout my adult life and knows all the shit my STBX has done (30 years secret gay affair for newbies). She definitely “sides” with me, yet she keeps admonishing me to not “demonize” my ex and often reflects on how good looking and “fun” he is. She also has been very disapproving of my efforts to get more than 50 percent of the marital assets to the point that I just don’t discuss the settlement with her anymore. Why? Well, he didn’t cheat on her. But more to the point, my sister had a brief affair herself (which I told her quite clearly I disapproved of at the time) and when she divorced, she would have been the one to pay alimony and have assets on the table to lose. So she is very touchy about the idea that the person who was unfaithful should face financial consequences. So I agree with everything CL says and also Jim’s #7 is extremely likely.

    I am so sorry, VaGrace. Your own sons are behaving horribly.

    • “and often reflects on how good looking and “fun” he is.”

      I have a friend, who says stupid shit like this. I dumped my ex bf because he was a charlatan. And she quipped after I dumped him how good looking he was. And I retorted, not to me, he is the ugliest person on this planet. Who cares what a person looks like when they are assholes with their behavior. But look at the source, my friend is the ultimate doormat and gets treated like garbage which she tolerates, because she finds the guy cute. OK, have a ball being treated like trash.

      • Yes, there have been a few times I have almost responded “He’s available … go for it!” All of this has revealed some things about my sister I didn’t know. I still love her and she is my closest friend in life, but all of us are human and have our flaws. I do as well.

  • My brother did this same thing to me. And his codependent wife and my golden child niece (who’s 26.) They all became his flying monkeys. I had to block My 54 year old brother from sending me nasty text messages. Then he borrowed 2 more phones to continue hurting me. Blocked him everytime! I left my cheater and my own brother was calling me selfish, telling me to get over it, and I’m just a crazy jealous person. Turns out my brother is a narc too.. lots of Foo issues there. I’m no contact with all of them now. I was listening to a youtube video -just yesterday-by Ross Rosenberg about the stages of recovery from narc abuse and all the pain we go through in each stage on our way to healing. (Look him up -hes good -wrote the Human Magnet book) One of the stages is about family and friends dumping you and then in a later stage they come to acceptance and realize you did the right thing by leaving and you are far better off. Personally, I don’t care if my family or pretend friends ever think my leaving an abusive man was ok -I know it was ok. It would have killed me to have stayed and endure any more of his covert shit. I was tired of showing my kids how to be a doormat. Never again-my life matters and I’m gaining a life now- I don’t need them or him – and this narc shit stops with me! I’m staying no contact and they can all suck it!

    • Strong woman, I’ve seen similar situations play out in my own family. When one member was being abused she drew a boundary and cut off her abuser, which was her own mother. She went on to live her life and make herself happy. Eventually her mother apologized and they reunited. Sometimes, even with family, we have to draw the line with what we’re willing to put up with. If it really hurts you, then you need to protect yourself. No one gets the right to decide what hurts you but you.

    • I’ve been blessed on this front… not one family member or friend has gone “Switzerland” on me. In fact, in the early days, they were my greatest supporters – often telling me to “grow a pair”… “take back control of your life”… “I always thought something was off with him” (this last one from a Homicide Detective!).

      They have been my rock. I had a rotating “call list” for when I was feeling sad, weak, lost because I didn’t want to burden any one person too much (how CODA is that!). My friendships span decades.

      I have this very vivid memory… when Mr. Sparkles mother passed away, she had zero friends to notify and if not for her sister (and the Nuns from her school), there would have only been Mr. Sparkles, the kids, and me at the service. When my mother passed away, there was a line out the door of the church… family, her friends, my sister’s friends, my friends… a packed house.

      We get so convinced sometimes that the only meaningful life is one in which we are “coupled”… but I think an equally good life is one where we have enriched others lives more. Sure, having someone to share the journey with is great, but it certainly isn’t a “mandatory” for happiness.

  • I do believe that your cousin is a confidante of your STBX, unfortunately. Although, she may not have necessarily known about the affair while it was happening, she has listened to your STBX’s side of the story, numerous times, now that it is out in the open. In the beginning, your cousin was probably just as shocked as you were when the affair was revealed, and might have thought that she could be a voice of reason for both of you. But as time went by, with the fullness of the repercussions of the betrayal sinking in; instead of slowly distancing herself from your STBX, she chose to remain in her life. She may say that the kids love to see their auntie, but that’s a distractor. Ultimately, your cousin enjoys her role of middle man. She likes to get the dirt. There’s something in it for her.

    I would say that over time, your STBX will be the one to cut ties with your cousin. She will move on in her new life and your cousin will become a distant memory. Your cousin is a good source of kibbles for your STBX now, but as soon as she’s in a new relationship, your cousin will be left in the dust. Ultimately, it’s you who has the true family ties, not your STBX.

    It’s up to you to figure out if you want to be patient and wait that out.

    • I definitely think it is a really bad idea to confide in these drama-seeking middleman types. They will reveal some of your private conversations to the other side if it will encourage that other person to continue to confide in the middleman. I know this because I was once an elementary school girl. It is basic human dynamics for children that we are supposed to outgrow, but not everyone does.

    • tflan386 is spot on. The cousin is a middleman and undoubtedly enjoying the drama that role creates. I agree with Dixie Chump as well; watch out for the person who plays both sides, because they will encourage you to confide in them, and will then give that info to the other person, and vice versa. Right after my separation, I was vulnerable and gullible enough to trust in several such people. I eventually realized they were all playing me out to my ex for their own entertainment. I very much regret having trusted those people.

  • Lucky seven- sorry i’m agreeing with chumplady on this -children learn what they live. I’m not teaching my kids that cheating, lying, gaslighting and blameshifting are ever ok. Cheating is a deal breaker for me -which comes with loss for everyone involved-including the cheater.

    • +1.

      I was a child of adultery, abuse, and the divorce. At 6, Switzerland visits bewildered me. Didn’t have many facts, but knew something was wrong on the cheating front. Why did “family” and other beloved adults think it was okay to hurt my mom? To break promises? Was she mean? I knew she was heartbroken, though she never said a word. Was she making it up? Thank God I sorted it out at 8. In a public library. I got lucky. Most won’t.

  • Sounds incredibly familiar…. My cousin, with whom I have been more like sisters than anything else, decided about a month into my divorce process that she “just couldn’t handle my drama anymore” and stopped taking my phone calls.

    This is a person I talked to every day–and not just about “my drama” either. We talked just as much about hers.

    During this time, after finding out that not only was my ex an abusive alcoholic and serial cheater, but he also got another women pregnant while on a “business trip.” A business trip he took at 5pm on a Friday.

    That Friday happened to be my daughter’s 2nd birthday.

    My daughter also had chicken pox at the time.

    Anyway, after discovering that *this* was the person I married, I also discovered that my mother had a 20+ year affair during her marriage to my dad. I told my mother I didn’t want to see her, and I didn’t want her around my children.

    My reasoning was that I simply couldn’t trust her. If she could lie to my face for years, I wasn’t about to send my toddlers off for a fun filled weekend with her and my new step dad–the affair partner.

    The night I told my mother that she wasn’t welcome in my house (for a time–not permanently), Mommie Dearest called my ex husband and offered to testify against me in our extremely contentious custody battle if he let her see the girls during his visitation time.

    Of course he said yes. What a coup to have my own mother testify against me! And, there was the added bonus of another person to hand the kids off to while he was out spending all his time in bars picking up women.

    I have sole custody. He gets 20 hours of supervised visitation a month. No overnights. But, at the time we had 50/50.

    2 months later, I saw things that my cousin only knew show up in legal pleadings–except the truth was turned into horrible lies. Things like the fact that my two toddlers were so affected by separation anxiety that I couldn’t even take a shower alone.

    Which was actually kind of good because they likes playing in the shower after I got out, and I could stand literally 5 feet away at my vanity and finish getting ready in the mornings while they played in my stand up shower at ages 2 and 3.

    That innocent story turned into my “locking my kids in my shower until the water runs cold so I didn’t have to deal with them.”

    Needless to say, that was almost 3 years ago, and in spite of pleas for forgiveness, I’m just not interested in relationships with either my mother or my cousin.

    Unfortunately, divorce really magnifies who your friends are. And, sometimes, that truth really hurts. But, better to know and adjust accordingly than to surround yourself with people who make Brutus and Cassius look like Bert and Ernie.

    • “Unfortunately, divorce really magnifies who your friends are. And, sometimes, that truth really hurts. But, better to know and adjust accordingly than to surround yourself with people who make Brutus and Cassius look like Bert and Ernie.”

      NAILED IT!

    • They asked for forgiveness after they testified against you and told lies about you?

      I have to laugh at the total absurdity with that. Care to share how exactly that went down? “Uh, yeah, it’s mom and cousin. We know one of us testified against you and one of us used what you told us in confidence and turned it into a warped lie, but we’re sorry now.” “And, you know, **for the sake of the chiiiiildren** whom we helped your ex use against you, feel like leaving the past in the past and being buds and fam again?”

      • Oh, it was quite impressive in its insanity. First, I haven’t spoken to my cousin since I saw the pleadings.

        My mother first told me that her going to my ex was my fault. If I had let her see my girls, she wouldn’t have needed to call him.

        Then, she found in one of our angry texts back and forth my very sarcastic suggestion for her to call the ex and ask him to see the kids–at the time he had not paid a dime in support or even took the kids on his visitation. He had left the girls with his mom or anyone else who would keep them and my mother knew this.

        But, suddenly, she said that my sarcastic “How about you give calling the jackass a try and see how that works out for you” was a genuine invitation.

        Then, in the first Sex and the City movie, when Carrie is left at the alter, her friends ask what she needs. She replies, “a hit man?”

        Well, when my step brother asked me that same question one night right after d-day, that was my response.

        Later, my mother wrote numerous letters to my judge, the psychologist in charge of my custody study, my ex’s attorney, and even got a letter from her doctor somehow stating for the record, filed in several legal pleadings, that I was actively trying to hire someone to have my ex murdered.

        She said that I was fixated on causing him bodily harm. So, she described my symptoms to her doctor, who was our family doctor for 20+ years, and the doctor, based entirely on my mother’s word, wrote a letter in favor of having me put on psych hold. Now, she saw me from the time I was 5 years old, and never so much as diagnosed me with depression, adhd, or anxiety, but suddenly, this doctor recommended me to be admitted to an inpatient psych evaluation.

        My mother sent me an email while I was on vacation with my dad for thanksgiving threatening to sue me for custody of my children if I didn’t allow her to see my girls by January 1. This was 6 months after a judge awarded me sole custody.

        Mommie Dearest has some serious issues. I haven’t had contact with her, except to tell her to leave me alone, in over 2 years.

        • Your story brings back bad memories. Not only of Saddam setting me up for a DV charge. My own childhood too. My aunt, the only girl out of 7 kids, placed a deposition against my Dad during the custody fight. My kick ass Grandmother told everyone ‘aunt is now dead to us, and may the wheel turn’. No one spoke to her, or of her for 20 years. My Dad forgave her shortly before he died, she was welcomed back into the family. And the wheel did turn, she developed MS, her husband left her and her children cut her out their lives. Never mess with an Italian grandmother’s favorite son, it won’t end well.

          • Thank you, Dat! After many years of therapy, I realized that it’s not me. My mother is crazier than Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction. According to my therapist, she is the worst case of Borderline Personality Disorder he’s ever seen.

            This is an actual email that my mother sent me on Christmas, 2015. I deleted the names, and added a few clarifying comments in brackets, but the rest–terrible grammar and all–is all her original writing:

            “You know I had a talk with [Friend] not long ago and she told me about what u did to her and your issue with [Another Friend] which reminded me of a conversation I had with [College Roommate] a couple of years ago which reminded me of a conversation with [Backstabbing Cousin] which reminded me of a conversation with [Ex-Boyfriend that I dated for 3 months before meeting my husband] which reminded me of a conversation with [College Ex-Boyfriend] which reminded me of a conversation with [Senior Prom Date] which reminded me of a conversation with [First Boyfriend] which reminded me of a conversation with [High School Friend whose mother filed for divorce when we were at summer camp—my mother knew and had told me before the friend’s mom had told my friend] one time which reminded me of a conversation with [Elementary School Best Friend] which reminded me of a conversation with [My dad’s school high school best friend’s daughter] which reminded me of a conversation I had with my 6 year old daughter who stood at the screen door for an hour on her birthday [which is December 26th] waiting for her friends to show up from a party for her birthday [that was held at 3 pm on Monday, December 26, 1988].

            “And not one single kid showed up and you waited for hours. And I explained to that 6 year old child that you had to start being nice to people and you couldn’t bully people and treat them mean and hurt their feelings and still expect them to like you.
            Didn’t stick then so I don’t expect for you to ever learn….

            “I’ve researched hours about your mental conditions and the personality disorders and manic bipolar describes you to a perfect specimen even the sociopath. Like Ted Bundy and other serial killers, all highly intelligent and very charismatic but also brutally mentally ill. You can’t help yourself. It’s just who you are.

            “I’m smart enough to know it’s better for me that you are not in my life, let’s face facts, you never brought anything positive to the relationship. I also know it’s better for you to be with your [dad and stepmother]. Also fact they are much more experienced with dealing with someone who has severe mental issues [my Step Brother has Autism] and cannot maintain any long term relationship.

            “So maybe they can help you or maybe they just think you are normal. I’m also smart enough to know that you probably will be successful in your career [As a Marketing and PR Manager] because you are very smart but you will always fail miserably with any continuous relationship with anyone besides [close family members] that goes beyond a working relationship or an acquaintance because you are and always will be that same little 6 year old girl waiting for Anyone to show up to your party but after knowing you at any deep level people stop showing up…. I can’t help you nobody can.”

            If you could make it through all of that, yes, my mother compared me to Ted Bundy. On Christmas. I have no idea what all of those conversations she’s referring to at the beginning. I do know that the last conversation she mentions having with the daughter of my dad’s best friend is pure fiction. The girl was 2 years older than me, and we were never friends. We went to each other’s birthdays as little girls–like before we started school–because our dads are friends. But her mother HATED my mother. Like to the point that now, my daughter, my brother’s daughter, and the other girl’s daughter are all in the same dance class, coincidentally, but her mother refuses to even speak to my mother. And Joan Crawford ain’t got nothin’ on her…

            And all of this because I refused to allow her to drop Christmas presents off at my house for my children.

            Keep in mind, on Thanksgiving, a month earlier, she told me that she had consulted an attorney, and if I did not allow her to have visitation time alone with my children, then she was going to sue me for custody of my children. Not grandparent’s rights–which in my state only apply to the grandparents of the parent with no visitation due to death, incarceration, or because a judge took their rights away.

            Yep, mom’s a peach!

            • More! More! 🙂

              My Dad is a loon too, but your mother is on a scale that I can’t even begin to compare him to. Damn!

              • “According to my therapist, she is the worst case of Borderline Personality Disorder he’s ever seen.”

                He sounds like an awesome guy… AND …

                I think that might be the radical understatement of the week.

              • Kelli: Projection much by your mother? I well know the sickening feeling of interacting with FOO members who have profound personality disorders. Only those of us that are forced to endure horrific experiences with mentally ill people who are related to us can understand your anguish. Actually, it is beyond anguish. I can’t think of a word in the English language that fully encompasses the full spectrum of negative emotions that I have endured by their abuse. I have also had the honour of being compared to a monster- not quite Ted Bundy, but awfully close.

            • Kelli, I’m sending you hugs.
              I couldn’t read the whole piece. It raised my eyebrows at the repetitive remembering. And then the story with the birthday party? That was pure cruelty back than. To even mention it NOW, at a time when you need support, is beyond backstabbing.
              I have an evil mother myself, I am aware where her hatred is coming from, what exactly triggers her, but this … omg.
              Your piece made me realize that at least my mom has her priorities right. When I fell, she came to my rescue. I am stranded in a foreign country, I am alone with a small child. I must work, cannot afford babysitting and to pay the lawyers. My mother came and babysat for months. Without another soul to talk to, as she doesn’t speak the language. She tried to make pleasant small talk when I was gloomy like … death. She tried to bring sunshine with any small occasion (a few words exchanged at the shop, some lady that asked her for directions etc).
              That and the financial support that my parents offered (I never asked), I realise that I have a real family. Far from perfect, but we have each other’s back when time calls it.
              I wish you to be strong, you’ll get your own family and people to support you. Keep toxic people out of your life. It’s the only way to healing.

              • Thank you for your kind words, Enraged. I know it rambles and is confusing, but my mother actually sent this to me on Christmas night this past year. At first it hurt, but I realized that at that moment, I had my family around me, we were drinking champagne, and playing with my girls’ new dollhouse that Santa brought them. She was all alone at home with her cheater husband who was probably watching football in the garage and texting other women.

                My birthday is December 26th, and the particular birthday to which she is referring was my 6th birthday. That year, I made a big deal about wanting to have a party on my actual birthday. For the previous 5 birthdays, I was never able to celebrate my birthday with a birthday party on my birthday. Pesky Christmas just always got in the way.

                My friend had stayed the night that night, so I wasn’t alone. But, it is true that none of my friends from school came to my party. That year, my birthday fell on a Monday. Looking back now, as a mom myself, there’s no way I would have had the time to take my children to a birthday party the day after Christmas. It’s just too busy and exhausting at that time of year.

                I definitely agree that it is important to surround yourself with people that love and support you. My d-day was 2.5 years ago. I’m over it. But, the morning of d-day, after my ex husband was taken to jail because he beat the snot out of me when I confronted him about the sonogram pictures on his cell phone, I called my mother and said I needed help. I was in shock. Her response was, and I am quoting here, “What does that have to do with me?” That was the beginning of the end for me with her. In my opinion, what she has done is completely unforgivable, and I have totally cut ties with her. I feel like I divorced two toxic abusers two years ago, and I have never looked back!

            • wow, Kelli, your mom is a nut! Her letter clearly shows that, I’m so sorry. I agree with Claire – the BPD diagnosis would be an understatement. Unfortunately, we can’t choose our parents. Of all the hurtful people I’ve come across in the 50+ years of my life, none were as devastatingly damaging as my own two parents.

              I think you’re mighty going NC with your insane mother. FWIW, based on your posts here on CN, you really have a good head on your shoulders. Keep taking good care of YOU!

            • Kelli, my heart goes out to you. I wish I could go back in time and scoop you up in my arms on your 6th Birthday and protect you from that momster. As I write this, I have tears streaming down my face and my heart is in my throat. I have a pretty terrible family, who further betrayed me when my X traded me in for the secretary when my newborn son was one week old. Who have a longstanding pattern of siding with their adult children’s X’s for control and access to the grandkids and in feeding damaging info during divorces or other court proceedings. I have a saying about my father, who is aging. “He will not be missed.” But your mother takes my breath away. Makes my effed up family look like the Cleavers. Thank goodness you have put her out of your life forever. I hope your kids are getting older and can avoid her presence. My kids can hardly stand to be around their (evil) grandparents anymore. Stay strong, and continue on your path.

              • Thank you, MissDelta. This has really been the one place where everything finally clicked. All of my life, things just never made sense. Now I get it: mom was crazy. In my childhood, 1+1 never equaled 2. It was always turmoil and insanity.

                My only problem now, really, is that my ex and his family allow my mother to spend time with my children. It’s a big middle finger to me, of course. My custody papers say that I am sole domiciliary and physical parent. My ex cannot see the children without a supervisor (his grandmother) present. At no time can the children be left with a 3rd party, or be taken by a 3rd party, without my permission.

                Unfortunately, I can’t have the judge order my mother to stay away in my custody orders. The judge says I can’t dictate who he brings around the children if he is abiding by the supervision part. It’s as restricted as I can get it.

                I would have to file an injunction against her personally–like a restraining order, but not out of fear for my life. That’s a hornet’s nest I just really don’t want to kick. That crazy woman could very realistically burn my house down. Or worse.

                I’ve asked his family not to allow her around the girls. I’ve shown them the letters and emails and crazy ranting texts. My girls come home saying that my ex’s older son, my girls’ half brother, stayed an entire weekend with her. They went to the movies and the park, etc. After she takes my ex’s son to all of these cool places, she rubs it in my girls’ face and says that if their mommy would just apologize to her, then they could go on all of these cool adventures. She tells my children it’s my fault that they can’t go and do these fun things.

                Even after telling his family about her saying this to my girls, they STILL allow her to come around. Between her and my ex, they all think I’m the most awful human being on the planet. Which, ok, whatever. I still have custody, so as long as the judge knows I’m the better parent, I don’t care what they think.

                How did you combat the crazy grandparents? My kids are 4 and 5 so they don’t understand. I’ve told the girls that daddy lives at his house now because he broke a promise to mommy. When they ask why they can’t see my mother, I say it’s because of “grown up reasons.” I’m not sure how you explain raging personality disorders to 5 year olds.

                Any ideas?

              • I have to wonder how much effort your mother actually put into that birthday party invitation–after all, what did it have to do with HER? And, it’s entirely probable that if anyone was avoiding that party, it was your MOTHER they were avoiding, because they could not stand her craziness.

                Hugs, Kelli. I’m so impressed that you found your boundaries and prevailed through threats. That must have been a hell of a time for you.

              • Kelli – I received your request for tips on dealing with the enmeshed grandparents. No time to respond right now but will do so within a few days. So check back then. Blessings, Miss Delta Girl

    • Wow, Kelli. That is one extra level of hell you’ve had to walk through after a traumatic betrayal. Et tu, Brutus, indeed.

      I’m sorry you were morally abandoned by people you should have been able to count on. Hugs.

  • One of my best friends stayed friendly with my ex and his new gf (ow). I had cried on her shoulder, she knew everything that had happened and she is now friends with ow. Why? The ow’s shining personality and faithful friendship? Nope. Because it’s easier than confronting and holding him accountable. The husbands are friends so she has to be friends with whoever my ex is with. I dropped her and 5 years later it still hurts. I recently saw her at a concert and reached behind to tap her and say hi. Then I realized ow was right behind me and they were at the concert together. So disappointing.

    • ive been through a similar thing, dropping a supposed friend, and it has really hurt me. im wondering if i’ll ever feel ok about it tbh.

      • Me, too. I can’t shake the feeling of a second betrayal by a Switzerland friend in whom I had confided. I’m working on getting to emotional apathy, but it’s taking a long time.

        • Tempest, I invest deeply in my friendships (which is why I only have a few close pals .. I want to have the space and energy for them because they are important to me). To lose a confidante and close friend warrants a grief similar to losing a loved one, and a betrayal by a friend slices through the heart. I’ve been there!

          It just takes time .. be gentle and patient with yourself. I try to keep meeting good people, stay open for even better quality friendships (fixing my picker as a work-in-progress).

          • Thanks, KeepNarcsAway. There has been grief, and anger, and disbelief. I’m largely hoping to get to the stage where I’m not having heartfelt & animated mental conversations with the Switzerland woman as I walk the dogs (as I’m sure my neighbors now think I’m camped out on the wrong side of the sanity line!).

            • I do this too … Have highly agitated talks to people I am upset with while walking the dog. People must think I hate that dog but he doesnt take anything petsonally and is a good listener!!

            • Hah, I did that, too! I walked my dogs for MILES (marched them, is more like it) and even mouthed the conversations to xH and OW–but I preferred walking in the dark so I could be anonymous. Those were emotional times….

        • I hear you, Tempest, the Switzers really sting….it is about THEIR comfort, not your sanity. Doesn’t quite put them in same level of hell as Hannibal, but it does make them cheater apologists, creatures nobody needs in their life.

          As my sarcastic Appalachian friend says, “Bless them on their journey. Now turn and face yours.”


    • What a visual, mim, of your friend at the concert–with OW. That just broke my heart.

      I’m so sorry for all of you with Swiss “friends.” God, how awful.

  • Ha ha ha! I’m saving that e-card. My cheater almost took me back to court because he claimed I did not return 2 paring knives with his personal effects as agreed in our settlement agreement. 1) They were in his stuff that I put out at the end of the driveway (lesson here for all chumps: document, document, document…) and 2) WTH?

  • I can honestly say this is the reason why I have gone NO Contact with my ex’s family. My family is appalled by Prince Charming’s duplicity and the depths he went to cover up his lies. So he would get zero support from my family. Knowing that Prince Charming spun some Banbury Tale to his family about the divorce – it isn’t worth it. I only had things in common with one SIL so it is no great loss to me. So my adult son’s have no relationship with their grandfather, aunts, uncles and cousins on his side – no big deal to them.

    I have a feeling one of his SIL’s knew about the cheating before I did and failed to even give me a heads up. So I don’t promote any sort of relationship with that side of the family. My son’s are adults they can make their own decisions.

    Do I feel bad that they have no contact with their remaining grandparent? Yes, but the choices were made by his family not mine. As they say blood is thicker than water.

  • When I posted on the forums something about Switzerland friends (and former friends flirting with STBX), someone called this period of time “shaking out the assholes in your life.” I’ve thought about that often as I observe the behavior of family, friends, and acquaintances with clearer eyes than I’ve ever had before. It’s the absence of rose-colored glasses. Rather than tolerate boundary-crossing and shitty actions, I distance myself from people who bring drama and pain.

    I’m sorry your cousin has turned out to be one of the jerks.

    • Thats when you find out who your true friends are and the true character of people. Its really a blessing in disguise. You get to weed out the fake “friends” and keep the real ones. Why would you feel bad about throwing our rubbish? Toss it out and cherish the real friendships.

  • After discovering the affair itself, Switzerland friends are the second mindf*ck of divorce. I’ve lost a close friend because he and his wife wanted to be Switzerland friends — being friends with me, while inviting my ex and her affair partner over for dinners etc.

    After much thought and many months, I told my friend why we couldn’t be close anymore, and I distanced myself. It hurt doing that, and occasionally still does, but this does hurt less than knowing that my ex and her affair partner are welcome guests at their dinner table along with my kids.

    You probably need to have another heart-to-heart with your cousin — her reasons for remaining friends with your STBX trivialise your pain, especially reason #2. And as painful as it may be, you need to distance yourself, to protect yourself.

    • I’m glad you got to have some closure by talking to the “Swiss”. My friend and I just stopped calling each other. Now I hear from my kids about all the times they go to the friends house with the ow.

  • Something to remember: a classic hallmark of the cheater personality is image management. The person who has always been in your court and is now ambivalent is basically telling you via megaphone that they are buying a big load of pig crap from your cheater. Cheaters are trained professional liars who don’t want to lose anything that suits them.

    This cousin is probably not strong-headed enough to see through the lies. The cousin really wants to believe the cheater because it results in pain avoidance. The cousin probably thinks our writer won’t “abandon” her so is erring on the side of trying to keep everyone by leaning in the direction of the less stable relationship without even realizing it.

    If our writer sets boundaries, the cousin will probably be shocked and even feel betrayed – at first. Eventually the lies will come out, though that might be too late.

    Image management is a bitch of a con.

  • Reason 6: “that my STBXW had never done anything personally against my cousin” is B.S.!!

    Your cousin values “family”? Then cheating on a family member should count as “personally” doing wrong against them. What a total copout.

  • Funny how some people hear about affairs and find all the things the VICTIM did wrong, is doing wrong, needs to suck up, could do better, needs to start doing, needs to do in the best interest of everyone else on the entire planet and all the ways they’re annoying, no fun anymore, haven’t “gotten over it’ in time not get on someone else’s nerves, isn’t “being the bigger person”, etc, etc, etc, so on and so forth until the victim is the bad guy and no one gives a single damn about what the cheater did. The fun part is when they use kids in the argument because they know that’s the surefire to get the victim to sit down and shut up already and do what they’re told and who better to dish out the requirements than them – the self-appointed person in charge of everyone’s reactions to cheating?!?

    Look out for the sympathizers (who will deny being sympathizers) of cheaters. You’ll know them when they “agree that what the cheater did was wrong” BUUUUUT have a nice long list of what you need to do, don’t need to do and never utter a genuine word about a single acceptable consequence for the cheater.

  • Prodigal Me – I would encourage you to worry less about your cousin (and her thoughts and her kids) and put the focus on you right now. THAT is where it needs to be. Feeding into any conversation with your Cousin is going straight back to your STBX over a glass of wine and feeding them both kibbles.

    Walk away from the drama. Drop the mic.

    In the early stages of healing, it is pretty damn important to start learning what YOUR boundaries are and what YOUR dealbreakers are… and then practice them.

    For example, my stepson, who has been in my life for 13 years (he’s now 24) and his girlfriend are FB friends with the OW. I called them on it – indicating that it violated my privacy because my posts could be seen on their pages. They said I shouldn’t get so upset because it is “just social media.”

    So, I blocked them. Done. Boundary. I will still have them over when the other kids gather at my house for cookouts and holidays, but I will no longer go out of my way to check-in and stay in touch.

    The thing is… a marriage was destroyed and one person cheated, regardless of all the other facts. And, if that is OK with your cousin – then that is the moral character with which she is raising her children. I’d keep my distance from that too.

    Hang in there – go no contact – feel the freedom of NO DRAMA.

    • “it is pretty damn important to start learning what YOUR boundaries are and what YOUR dealbreakers are… and then practice them.”

      I so needed to hear that today. This is one area that I really struggle with. Always have. Asserting my boundaries. I know in my head exactly what I want and what my boundaries are but putting them into practice is an ongoing thing.

      Love this!

    • Additionally… You can change your FB settings so that only your friends can see things- so that you avoid her seeing stuff when she hops through friends or friends train, which is bound to happen… Then only people you have on FB can see your stuff. Also very important for anyone who never needs employers or employees or other folks seeing their FB shit

    • My Facebook block list has surpassed over 250 people blocked. No joke. I had to block pretty much an entire town. And it’s amazing how much less drama I have in my life as a result.

  • While I can agree in general with backing away from Switzerland…. In this case I’m pretty sure there’s an issue.

    I recognize this poster from another website.

    I may be COMPLETELY WRONG about the details here so please DON’T QUOTE ME.

    But I believe I recall in this case that 1) he was on the internet chasing for tail. 2) He routinely withheld sex from his wife and didn’t see an issue with that despite her many many attempts to address it over the years. 3) He was surprised that she finally left him saying that he wasn’t “abusive” etc. And that their relationship was “low-conflict” even though he fully admits etc. how he treated her over the intimacy issues. 4) She filed for divorce and went no contact aside from coming over abd doibg her laundry for a bit when he wasn’t home (but they had some sort of agreement/awareness regarding this and I think it was short-lived.5) She moved out. 6) Then she started dating months after this and he decided on the other website “it’s an affair / it’s over.” But she had already filed for divorce and moved out etc. She wasn’t feeding him false hope or anything and he sure wasn’t saying that she had lied to him or anything. Or that she was sending any signs that she had “cheated” before.

    If this is the same case, well, duh, no wonder the cousin isn’t into throwing her BFF under the bus. I wouldn’t either.

    • I’d be curious if ProdigalMe weighs in on this. I’ve noticed him that I answered his letter.

      If that’s the case, my advice, obviously would be VERY different. If you’ve left and filed and aren’t eating cake, it’s not cheating. So in that case, PM is not a chump, but someone who is upset about being dumped.

      Still, I hope my reply helps someone who is dealing with less than compassionate family.

      I particularly loathe the excuse “Well, they weren’t horrible to ME, so it’s okay.”

      Well… that tells you where their priorities are. With themselves.

    • ^^^^Interesting. But then the cousin is still a Switzerland friend. She’s still playing both sides.

    • I found him out there. I didn’t see anything about him “chasing internet tail” or withholding sex. Also, it sounded like she starting cheating after giving him the old “we’ve grown apart” bullshit.

    • Alexandra, thanks for mentioning that PM had posted on another site. Context and facts are important. I found the thread where the OP admitted he was neglectful of his wife during the marriage, listing “infrequent sex, watching porn and sarcastic criticism” towards his wife. She got fed up and asked for a divorce. They even had an open discussion where she TOLD him she would start seeing people during their separation.

      There was no cheating here based on that thread post. It took her some time to find a place she could afford, and she eventually started dating later in the separation. I agree with SnakeBit this isn’t really cheating UNLESS the wife and PM were still having sex during the separation while he was unaware that she was already intimate with someone else (STD safety consideration).

      PM, learn from your relationship mistakes and do things right next time you are with someone. You wanted to reconcile with your ex but the marriage was damaged beyond repair. As for your cousin, if it hurts to be around her, you can try keeping a distance. She won’t change her view of what happened between you and your wife, so you have to decide what kind of contact you want to maintain with your cousin.

      • KNA – here’s why I still think it’s cheating. She dragged her feet on moving out. Her reason: places were too expensive. But the place she ultimately moved into in December was the most expensive of all the places she had been looking at for months. So, it was not a question of cost, it was a question of convenience. When we were still living together from July through December, i was paying 60% of all expenses, including all of the rent. it’s convenient to have over half of your expenses paid so that you can spend more discretionary income on an affair partner (she even complained to me after we physically separated that everything was so expensive now).

        Also, we both agreed that if we met someone, we would tell the each other before anything romantic started, and we agreed that that was the respectful thing to do. But instead of doing this, she started to see her co-worker without telling me, and telling elaborate lies to cover up her tracks about where she was going. All while we were living under the same roof.

        Had I not found her out and confronted her right away, I strongly suspect she would have continued living that way for months. In other words, she would have continued using me to finance her extramarital affair. To me that’s the very definition of cake: deliberately trying to maintain an unfair situation at my expense. Her brand of cheating might not have won first place in the 100-meter dash of infidelity, but it’s at least a podium finish where she gets to stand right next to Usain Bolt.

        • PM sharing living expenses based on what my favorite financial advisor Suzie Orman says should be based on % of your pay not a % of your bills – depends on who’s making more money – I’m not sure who did in your case, but this is what she has to say – take this into consideration with your next relationship. Hope it helps

  • You really don’t need this Cousin in your life. Anyone who chooses a non related cheating ex over their own blood relation has a problem morally.

    I would end contact with the cousin and I would not tell her that I was doing it or why. I’ve had to do this in my own family, and there has been no drama because I just cease communication. I don’t discuss it, I just do it. Ex would love to see a giant riff in your family, just because of her. Ditch the Bitch. Switzerland Cousins included.

    • This!!.. I have 36 first cousins. Two of them, whom I was very close to decided when the ex ran off to be with the OW, became BFFs with my ex and the OW. Blocked and deleted me off Facebook because they see nothing wrong with what had happened. It is amazing when the rubbish takes itself out!

  • I was really close to my cousins growing up. We lived on the same street, two houses away, so they were more like siblings than cousins. One was a year older than me and one was a year younger than me and at one point, the three of us all went to the same junior high school (7th, 8th, 9th grade) and all had the same last name, so people thought we were siblings.

    And if I found out that any of them had stayed friends with my XH of 11 years and was still receiving occasional visits from him, I wouldn’t hesitate to cut them off.

    My XH’s cheating was abuse. There will be no “Switzerland” where abuse is concerned. If you aren’t against it, you’re for it.

    • Very well said. It is abuse, pure and simple. I often wondered in the beginning if he had beaten me physically and the Swiss could see the wounds he had inflicted, if they would then “get it”. Now, I am guessing probably not. That is why I have been no contact for about a year. It feels amazing to cut those people out!

  • “You are known by the company you keep.”. That is what I was brought up with, and it’s pretty self explanatory. If you associate with someone who mistreats others, you condone their behavior.

  • Prodigal,

    I understand your feeling of isolation. To have the person who you pledged your life to betray you is one thing. To have your OWN FAMILY seemingly choose “their” side over “yours” is another layer of betrayal.

    I think you have received some wise advice. But ultimately, you will have to figure out for yourself where your priorities lie.

    My two cents….
    It seems that spending time with your nieces is important to you. Are you going to allow your cousin or ex take that from you?
    I think it is pretty clear that cousin is on Team STBXW. Now you know and understand that. Interact with her appropriately from now on (ie – she is not on your side….and you tell her nothing).

    However, I don’t think you should lose your relationship with the kids. So is it possible to spend time with them…and not their mom? Could you call her and say “Hey, I would love to take the kids to the park/movies/whatever next week”? And if cousin wants to go to – just say “awww…I was hoping for some quality one on one time with them”. Phone calls, cards and skyping (when they are older) are ways you can be in touch with them also.

    Doing a slow fade from your cousin, while still maintaining a relationship with the kids will be tricky….but you can do it. You’re mighty, right? 😉
    ((sending you hugs))

  • Your cousin blows.

    I have a cousin who was close to my wife during our marriage. The two of them were very social, and my cousin visited us a few times (she lives about 6 hours away). I knew she was visiting my wife more than me, and I was fine with that. After all, we were all family!

    Two days after I left my wife because she refused to stop cheating on me for six-plus months, my cousin wrote to us both saying that she’d be in town soon and would love to see us.

    I immediately started a new email chain with only my cousin. I explained the situation, and she immediately replied to me that (1) she was shocked at my wife’s behavior, and (2) she would never speak/write/text/see my wife again.

    THAT is what real family is.

    And now? My cousin and I don’t see one another as often. I recognize that my ex wife was the common bond between the two of us. And that’s normal. My cousin gets it, and so do I.

    I repeat, your cousin blows.

  • This is a real tough one for me. Many years ago, during my marriage, our closest friends divorced and the husband had cheated on the wife. I wanted to be Switzerland, we loved the both of them. The wife dumped me like a hot rock for my neutrality and any attempt to apologize over the years fell on deaf ears. It was a huge and regrettable loss. I miss her to this day.

    Now that my own husband has cheated on me and I sit where Mia was so many years ago, I really get it. Karma? Anyway, as I see people continue their relationship with my STBX, including the husband (who says he has dinner with my STBX only to help him “get his head out of his ass.”) I try to see it for what it is. My own family will never look him in the eye or speak to him again. I have been ill recently and was recovering at my brother’s and my sister in law made my STBX wait outside while she gathered my daughter’s things for their visit.

    Beyond that, I just don’t think people really understand what this is unless you’ve lived it. I have several friends who socialize with my STBX and I don’t really harbor any malice. They just don’t understand and that’s ok. I choose to surround myself with friends who do understand. Now I know how Mia felt and if I could go back and make a different choice I would have.

    • You are definitely correct in that people don’t know what infidelity really feels like unless they’ve actually lived it. I had my own preconceived misconceptions of infidelity when I’d hear about other people going through it and I had this whole “that’ll never happen to me” attitude. I also assumed that there must be some legitimate reason why the cheater would do that to their spouse. I suppose that was my own way of making sense of the shitty-ness in my mind. But boy was I wrong, really wrong.

      Never did it occur to me that people who cheat are people who are severely lacking in some area, whether that be i) maturity, ii) sense of boundaries, iii) empathy for others and/or iv) character.

      That’s why I don’t have too many strong feelings about what Switzerland friends do or don’t do, as I can understand that they (generally) have no appreciation for what is happening. I put myself in their shoes, and heck I didn’t know how to react before I ended up in the middle of my own shit storm.

  • In the forums, I took a different tack on this–and I am speaking generically and not taking into account the debate over ProdigalMe’s history. I don’t disagree at all with CL’s analysis of the cousin. But I am not sure it’s worth creating a rift in the extended family over it. That is, if ProdigalMe makes a big deal out of his cousin’s Switzerland stance, it might cause people to take sides not about the cheating X but about ProdigalMe and the cousin. Of course he will never feel the same about this cousin. But it might be worth his while to give the situation some time to see if things change between cousin and cheating X, so long as the cousin isn’t serving up a shit sandwich buffet like inviting the X to the family reunion. Because the Cheater X and the cousin were close friends, she’s certainly heard the cheater’s “side,” and many people who have never experienced infidelity just don’t get how painful it is. It can well be that the cousin has shown the flaws in her own character here. It’s a big red flag about trusting her in any way. But–I’d still err on the side of allowing my kids to have as much extended family as they can have, so long as the shit sandwiches stay off the table.

  • I had to visit Switzerland last month. My ex in-laws. My son visits them every summer in Orlando for his “Jamescation”. He’d been wanting me to come down and spend time with him there so we could go to a theme park. I have primary custody (2 weekends a month with his dad if he chooses to go) so arranging this trip involves me. We don’t have communication outside of FB and holidays. But I did ask them if I came down could i stay with them. They welcomed me. I made all the arrangements. Bought plane tickets, etc. THEN I find out that the Ex Cheater is taking the OW and her son with him when he takes my son down there to start his vacation. We were both shocked and upset at this news.

    It sent me reeling back to when DDay all happened. I know blood is thicker than water. He is their son and they will stick by him even when he has utterly disappointed them.I wanted them to reject her! They know the truth. All of it. They know who she is. I wanted to change my plans…just go down there and get my son and get back home. I called my ex MIL to tell her my plans. She begged me to come. She didn’t understand why I was so upset. Sometimes people on the outside just don’t get it and never will. But she was trying and I can’t fault her for that. She said she still thought of me as her daugher in law…

    We had a great visit. We solidified our relationship to be what it will be. That gives me peace of mind. I know that the visit with their son and the OW wasn’t very nice. I feel like I spent more time with them than their own son did. I took pictures of them with their grandson. My former SIL told me that there was some confusion about whether Ex Cheater was bringing the OW and her son. Apparently, there was some doubt he would even bring them in the days leading up to their visit.

    I know that they saw me as I always was….happy, confident, full of love for my son.

    They were so disappointed with their son but they don’t tell HIM that. My MIL confides all her thoughts and feelings to her BFF and her sister…and no one else. Period. It’s good she has them but it’s not good to withhold consequences by telling your son that he has disappointed you. However, I feel for her. If she says that to him, he will distance himself even more. And as a mom, she couldn’t bare that. Ex Cheater has already abandoned his relationship with his brother. I can’t figure that one out. Maybe because his family is still intact. Happy.

  • Thank you so much, Chump Lady, for the insight and advice. I so need the clarity right now. I told my cousin I felt hurt (in my mind it felt like a second betrayal). She reminded me that although she wouldn’t go out of her way to stay in contact with STBXW, she also wouldn’t forbid visits to the kids. She told me that if I didn’t want them hanging out, then I should have said something.

    The kids (3 and 6) love my STBXW. She’s the fun aunt. My cousin and her kids live two hours away from the city in which my STBXW and I live. To begin healing from my separation, I began to spend more time with my cousin, in order to cure the loneliness and also to get a sympathetic ear. And my cousin was great. She listened. She was patient. She wasn’t judgmental. She even agreed that cheating was wrong, even with all the problems in the marriage.

    But, something changed. I don’t think it’s because STBXW was spinning anything. I think it’s because infidelity and divorce (to the uninitiated) is horrifying and all of your biases and prejudices emerge like a hundred rats running out of a burning house. My divorce has brought all of my cousin’s dysfunction out of her. I think it does that for everyone close to you. That’s why people avoid you when they first hear the news. It’s too uncomfortable for them. So, at least now I know what my cousin’s true worldview is regarding infidelity and divorce. It hurts like hell because I leaned on her for support, and I love her kids (but when they sing STBXW’s praises, that stings). But now I have to find a different strategy to heal. It doesn’t mean I won’t be in their lives, just like before. It just means my path of healing can’t go through their house, and can’t be contingent on whether STBXW visits them or not.

    By the way, here’s the sequence of events: STBXW told me last July she wanted a divorce; then we filed for legal separation; I told her we should think about reconciling even while working on the separation; she said she would think about it; she told me in August she would start looking for her own place to live; she kept telling me that; then, in December she cheated on me; I confronted her; she then found her own place and moved out; the legal separation order was issued in February; we just filed for divorce; she says it’s not cheating because she already told me we were divorcing; it still feels like cheating, especially with the lies she told to cover up her tracks.

    Thank you to everyone who took the time to comment and provide input and advice and hugs. One of the most difficult things about this is that few people understand the burning sense of injustice. A lot of people, shockingly, blame you, or minimize the situation, or think you’re being too judgmental against your former partner. But here, people just get it. I’m grateful for that.

      • That’s how it usually works.. just no discovery prior. I agree, not that she wasn’t cheating, but she wasn’t caught. If you dig, you’ll find something.. check your phone records.

        • Prodigal me, believe us when we tell you the cheating was definitely going on when she asked for a divorce. My ex sent me a dear John letter saying he wanted to leave for a few days to get his thoughts together about our marriage. I had already found a sex tape that he made with OW dated, get this… 4 years earlier. And they were still together when I made their affair public. He had denied cheating on me for years. Cheating is a cowardly act and impression management is key with cheaters. They often will pick fights with you so they can tell everyone that the marriage ended because you were
          fighting, and conveniently leave out the cheating because that would make them look bad.

          • yeah, in my case he simply cancelled the plans we made with other friends. Because I did/said something to upset him. Anything can be a reason, really. It’s passive-aggressiveness.

            But get this: when I handled situations with calm and tact, he got angry. It just didn’t work out the way he planned.
            After I found out and told I have the proofs, he dropped Mr Nice Guy mask. Now he hates me. My father told me: “Of course. You didn’t follow his script. Now he must face the consequences of his actions”.

          • “I had already found a sex tape that he made with OW dated, get this… 4 years earlier.

            I am speechless. This guy is pure scum.

    • I’m not saying your STBX IS personality disordered, not all cheaters are, but if she IS… she had her Plan B lined up WAY BEFORE YOU KNEW. I agree with Jim.

      Mr. Sparkles met #4 at the “gym” months before he decided to move out and “take a break” – translation: get cake and kibbles… kinda like what you are describing above. It was a one-sided wreckconciliation attempt.

      Do you homework, if adultery matters in divorce proceedings in your state. Heck, do it for your own peace of mind. Knowing that my STBX left me as a liar and a cheater means the OW is getting a man who will take marriage vows and then break them at will – good luck to them both with that. (And, I have the phone records to prove it.)

    • She was cheating. In a few years, you will know it. Pieces of the puzzle will fit perfectly. Gradually, you will have one ah-hah moment after another. Suddenly, the truth will dawn on you. Cheaters purposely pick people who are trusting. Same with your cousin.

      • Omg…BraveAgain!
        So true…. I hate! The mindfuckery that continues in head… I’m dealing with way to many ah-hah moments. I feel like a real sucker chump and often wonder just how many years I’ve plundered by not having those boundaries and caring for myself. How my daughters suffered for her lies!

      • Oh jeez. Your comment just triggered a memory from years back. My STBXW does some free-lance writing on the side. One day I found a fictional piece in which the main character, a married woman, goes back to her hometown for a romantic rendezvous with a high school sweetheart. I told my STBXW that the fictional hometown sounded like her hometown (foothills, marching band, etc). She said it was just a work of fiction. I also know that she had been communicating with a high school boyfriend during the early part of our marriage but stopped when I asked her to stop. Ugh, stop with the puzzle pieces.

    • Given the timeline, I wouldn’t be too hard on the cousin.

      It is possible that the STBX was already cheating before asking for the divorce. However, if she was not, and didn’t start a new relationship until after months of separation, I can see where the cousin and others might not see the known relationship as cheating. If it’s all over except the paperwork and BOTH parties know that, it’s not the same as cheating while pretending everything is fine.

      In my case, I immediately left snake upon getting evidence of an EA which threw a light on years of emotional abuse, gaslighting, and the likelihood he’d cheated before but connived and lied and denied his way out of the consequences. I filed for divorce soon after, but the snake has dragged shit out, as a way of using the legal system to abuse me by proxy. I don’t feel guilty in the slightest for wanting to date before the divorce was final. That’s not cheating, that’s moving on with my life. If anyone wants to condemn me for moving on, fuck them, I spent enough years with a covertly abusive, withholding, cruel fucker that I deserve a chance at happiness now.

      While the circumstances are different in that snake and I are physically separated and NC and have been for months, the fact remains that PM’s STBX did the somewhat honorable thing asking for the split before entering into a new relationship. At least she did that much, which is unlike what so many of our other cheaters have done. I understand that having it begin while she was still living under the same roof (I don’t think I’ve have gone that route myself) was hurtful and seems disrespectful, at least she told you it was over first.

  • I am not new here, under another user some time ago. I believe my ex found site and I backed away for a bit and changed my user. So I would like not reference to prior posts of disclosure of my identity or to tell my story again for this reason. Just know I am here because I am a Chump.

    This story really does get to me in so many ways. It really is something to be chumped and come out so injured trying to get the ground stabilized under your feet. Take in all the terrors of it, comprehend the brevity of all of it. And to realize some of your most treasured relationships where as sick and twisted as the one with your cheater. It is an eye opener and it does show you the work you need to do on yourself and in setting boundaries to your soul so that going forward you are only allowing worthy people with your values into your world (what is left of your time here). But you get a do over, they don’t. So look with eyes wide open and accept what you see and steer your soul clear. It is like being in a tank with sharks… identify the sharks and protect yourself from them and learn to live in the ocean with then safely.

    You know what really sucks?

    If your spouse were die you would have such support and empathy. You would have funeral services. It would be in the newspaper. There would be a precession line that greeted you with love and affection. People would check on you, bring you food and send you flowers.

    But this death of marriage is even worse. It is horrid. And you know what you get? Get over it, you need to forgive, what was your part?, you got fat, you must have seen… whatever… all that stuff. And you are never so alone with you and the you you are left with is a friggin mess.

    So for this cousin. She is a shark. Swim on.

    • Welcome back! This is it InAwe. It’s the totality of the destruction they leave in their wake. And when we see it we have to make that line in the sand not bury our heads in it. Hope your doing well.

        • Name change also crazy whore still after two years of I could give a fuck. Note there is another Donna -After name change. I suspected it was her after a rant blasting CN. Can only hold on to crazy for so long until it vomits out.

  • my STBXW was family for a long time,
    -Were you family for longer?

    my cousin didn’t know everything that went on between me and my STBXW,
    -Then how does she know that you were partly responsible for the deterioration of it?

    that I was partly responsible for the deterioration of the marriage,
    -Deterioration doesn’t cause cheating, cheating causes deterioration. You had no say in that choice, 0 responsibility.

    that the kids enjoyed spending time with STBXW,
    -Things you risk when you sleep around, not being close to your extended family.

    whatever trouble there was between me and my STBXW was none of my cousin’s business or fault, and
    that my STBXW had never done anything personally against my cousin.
    -She’s doing something personal against you. Since she cares so much about how people treat people. Good she mentioned it’s not her fault, because that’s important. Like if someone killed a person for money, and gave her the money.. hey, not her fault someone died… she likes money.

  • Divorce is so murky. No one really ever knows the complete story except the 2 that were in the relationship. Switzerland cousin is the least worry in this thread

    • It sucks when you think cousin has your back, she’s your support and one day you find it’s not really all that important to her what you think or feel.. Mighty chumps become sensitive to being treated poorly once they realize what’s going on…

      Want a divorce, THEN found someone.. ya, sure… call me skeptical.

    • Murky divorce or not, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect that your family will back you over a cheating ex. You expect some Switzerland friends, but when family does it, it’s another level of fuck you.

  • I can really relate to that feeling of isolation. I think many cheaters purposely isolate their victim. It is so wrong. I just back off. I have lost so many friends and family because my cheater is very charismatic. It is comforting to know that lies fall apart always, eventually. In the meantime, I build my truth, my sanity, a few give-and-take relationships, my faith and my salary.

  • “Divorce is so murky. No one really ever knows the complete story except the 2 that were in the relationship.” Actually – Cheaters make it pretty black and white. Where are the shades of gray? One of the participants did NOT know what was going on! And as far as minor children? If I find out the guy next door is having one or more affairs behind his wife’s back, and/or is trolling the internet for hookers or hook ups, and/or compulsively masturbating to porn? My children aren’t going anywhere near that sick train wreck. I don’t give a rat’s ass if it’s a relative. Core values. Period.

    • I was talking about this thread. If you go back end read all the comments, you’ll see that PM probably isn’t giving us the whole story. His posting on another site indicates he and his wife had separated and she told him and he agreed she could date others. Now he’s rewriting history to gain sympathy about a Switzerland cousin.

  • Just had a relevant situation happen except mine is sort of the opposite and I guess reinforces some families adhere to the “blood is thicker than water”. Kids had a rare visit with their father. Their father’s cousin was there (whom I also know from school). As the cousin was leaving, he told our kids it was nice to meet you and “your dad is a GOOD MAN”.

    Now in what universe is a man who did what he did which includes, in my case, essentially abandoning our kids (save a few visits during the year…no co parenting, no helping with anything, no participation in activities, abdication of all parental responsibilities except for a few visits when he feels like it) considered a “good man”? (Apparently when my kids are introduced to anyone on the other side of the family they have been told before your dad is a good man).

    One of our children wanted to say something but didn’t. They were offended. And keep in mind this was a person whose wife cheated on him and left him. Go figure. And knowing what kind of man my ex really is….he is a very sad, pathetic individual….he is not a good man. (For those of you that have at least good fathers (or mothers) even though they’re shitty husbands (wives) I envy you.

    So I feel for you,OP, in your situation. I also would be very upset with your cousin if I were you. You can see there are also other families who definitely aren’t Switzerland families. (They don’t even speak to me)….but are they much better?

  • Actually I’ll add one more thing that is similar …I have a friend whose wife cheated on him and left with the OM. The affair partners are now married. Now I do not know who has reached out to whom …I suspect the ex wife cheated is the one…but ALL THIS CHUMP’S family members have accepted friend requests from the cheater ex, most of which occurred after she left and most AFTER she married her affair partner. This includes the cheated on partners mother and siblings. To me that is such a slap in his face too. I cnat understand people like this???!!!

  • I commented on this on the forums. In this particular case, I think the old adage “you can’t control people’s behavior, you can only control how you react to it” might apply.

    I pointed out that these people lie and they don’t reserve their disordered fuckwit behavior just for us chumps. How many of us believed our Cheaters for much longer than we should have. I will raise my hand to that one. How many times did we need to see the incriminating text messages before we understood the truth of the situation. So imagine you are Cousin – a woman that you consider a good friend, who is kind to your children and has been there for you when times were tough tells you about how her marriage to your cousin is failing. And how she has tried everything, and this and that and the other. Hell, maybe even she alludes to the fact that HE cheated, and she just couldn’t stand it. What – a cheater lying and manipulating the narrative? That never happens (insert sarcasm here). So you are getting two stories about what happened, and the cousin doesn’t have alllll the history about how our Letter Writer came to appreciate what kind of disordered asshole she’s messing with.

    The point is – who the heck knows. At this point, the cousin is not able to be the kind of friend that the Letter Writer needs. She is not throwing her support behind him full force and saying “I believe you, I don’t believe her. Whatever you need I’m here for you”. So Letter Writer needs to decide what that means in terms of his relationship with Cousin. If it means it cools off, fine. If it means that she’s more of a movie and game night friend (and not a pour your heart out friend), that’s cool. Maybe eventually Cheater Ex will screw her over as well and she will finally get it.

  • She values her friendship with the cheater more than she values her relationship with you. BINGO.

    However, this is your cousin, so who cares. Drop her.

    Your immediate family should be on your side (anyone who has ever been through a breakup will be on your side). If not (like my mother who has been happily married since she was 20 – wanted to stay in touch with my ex) explain kindly and firmly why it’s hurtful to you. If they love and respect you they will stop contact.

    For friends, if they still like to hang out with the cheater, and still consider the cheater their friend. Drop them. Not your friends. They won’t help you heal.

    As I focused on healing, I cut anyone with links to my ex out of my life. Cold Turkey. I moved to a different town, I blocked all mutual friends on Facebook. I explained this all to the ones who cared, and understood. I had no links to my ex through people whatsoever (no kids thank god).

    Having absolutely no links to my ex, and going no contact was the best thing ever. Hard, and sometimes lonely, but it had to be done. Now, I’m having the best life ever without all those people linked to my ex. It was only after 16 months, when I felt truly healed, that added some former mutual friends back to my Facebook who had emerged as true friends during my time-out.

  • Regarding my kids spending time with their cheater father, I don’t love it, but it’s gotten a lot less painful over the years. Someone early in this thread gave good advice about looking at the cheater as some distant relative who treats your kids well. That’s what I have come to accept–The Coward is Uncle Dad to my kids. He paid for half their college expenses, which is really great. And he is good at certain things that I’m not good at, and he can teach the kids these things. And he loves them as best as someone like him can, and I think it’s good that my kids know that they have a father, however impaired he may be.

    I got advice early on to not manage my kids’ relationship with their father, and so I didn’t. They were older teens and could manage any contact with their father, however much or little as they chose. I also got advice to trust that they WOULD see his limitations–they were NOT going to idealize his shitty behavior. So I sat back, never bad-mouthed their father, and let it all work itself out. And it did. They each have let me know that they are disappointed in their father’s behavior, and that it has tainted the relationship. xH knew that would happen, and he mourned the loss of respect he would endure, however deserved. (He let me know this back when I was doing the pick-me dance, early on after BD.) It is what it is.

    On the one had, I feel vindicated, but mostly I am sad for my children. And yet, it’s not all bad. Life for them goes on, and life is pretty darned good for them.

    A few of the posts above mention that cheaters naturally are limited in their ability to bond–certainly in our case that has been true. xH has a lot on his plate, and in my opinion, being a devoted and attentive dad was precisely one of the things he resented about his life and wanted out from. He wanted to do what HE wanted WHEN he wanted to. HE wanted to be the center of attention–so he found a woman who would give that to him while kissing his ass. So the contact with the kids has been on his terms, and limited, and he has lots of excuses. Of course, the kids are busy, too, and xH really is sort of living Cats In The Cradle to some extent. Meh. My kids know they have a father out there, and they generally have a nice time with him when they get together, and I think they’re better for it.

    What mattered the most, in hindsight, I think, was doing what most of you have done, and that is to exercise MY OWN boundaries of NC, and living a full, respectable life with a smile on my face and gratefulness in my heart. Obviously the fact that I’m here at CL/CN means a piece of my heart/head still festers with resentment, don’t get me wrong. But it’s limited and shrinking with time, and my kids never see it. I have friends, hobbies, a career, dogs, parents (not in that order) and most of all my kids are and always will be and always have been #1. They know that. They respect me. I earned it.

    I am lucky that my kids for the most part are good kids. Like most adolescents, they are in a selfish time of their lives, and I expect that, even if their father couldn’t. It’s their time to be young and carefree and supported by their parents! There are times that they say insensitive things to me that really hurt, but I typically call them on their shit when it happens–I stick up for myself. I regret that their father was not a great role model in this regard, but that’s just the reality.

    I know some of you have kids who have been HORRIBLE to you, and I am so sorry. I can only imagine that pain. I certainly feared it for a long time after BD. That is the worst betrayal–worse than their parent cheating on you. I can only encourage you to maintain your boundaries, and carry on with a full rest of your life. Be the sane parent. Do it for your own sake. They may eventually clue in. Maybe you’ll get an apology.

    Sorry to drag on and on, but regarding Swiss family members, I did allow xSIL to “friend” me on FB, and this has been rather interesting. She recently posted a picture of The Coward and the Twat on her wall, proudly. The happy couple smiled into the camera. I was taken aback by her approval of the relationship, and thought about blocking her, but I decided not to–I simply ignored the post. Though I blocked xH from FB (after he blocked me years ago), I am proud of the way I conduct my life, and am happy to have xSIL or anyone else act as voyeurs. I don’t care. In fact, if I had to guess, after such an in-your-face display, I can only wonder if it makes her crazy that I’ve moved on and am quite happy without her pathetic brother. I am polite to her on FB, though our relationship is entirely superficial now. (Frankly we were never close, as we are very different.) I went NC with xMIL after she threw me under the bus, as well. If xMIL happens to keep tabs on me via her daughter’s FB? She’s welcome, but she won’t really learn very much. I am only superficially polite to anyone who keeps xH as a friend, and I’m not much interested in sharing gory details with anyone any more, anyway.

    Big hugs to all my CN peeps.

  • I agree that the cousin is making him the fall guy and she is definitely not lifting him up. That’s why I suggested distancing himself in his mind but not letting the cheating ex come between him and his family, especially not the next generation. I guess it hinges on what Prodigal can tolerate at the moment. Maybe it is too triggering to be around the Switzerland cousin for now, and I wouldn’t blame him. I just favour fighting for his place in the family. But it depends on how much he can bear at the moment, he can always come back fighting later.
    Sorry but I just hate the idea of that cheating wife taking over his family. Sickening.

  • I stumbled across a saying today, which is as follows – “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” ! It seems appropriate in relation to today’s topic.

  • My sister and both parents are meddler as well. They continued contact with a guy I dated, for 6 months, for crying out loud. my sister did agree, that yes, he was a little crazy, he could kill me, but I was not the boss of her. She could be friends with whomever she chose. My father felt that since I had had sex with him, well, this is what happens.

    These 3 stooges did go on to be ace boon coon buddies with the ex wife of my brother. So I guess it wasn’t a gender. Alienated my brother for a few years. Ex wife would be invited to family invites while my brother was courting his now second wife.

    There are some family members who just get off on being part of the drama.

    These days, I will not be friends with anyone who tries to have contact with my family. my choice of husband had the same requirement.

    For your next time around, try to choose someone who does not get off on having that web of relationships. You know, the ones who are so proud of being friends with the ex; or the ex’s family; or the ex’ friends.

  • Perhaps someone has already asked this question…..but aren’t his cousin’s reason #2 and #5 contradictory???

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