Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

Cool. Bummer. Wow.

indifferenceDear Chump Lady,

Please help! I do not know how to navigate this entire divorce mess with my two teenage daughters. My youngest sees her father every other weekend. This includes time spent with the OW. This weekend they took a day trip and she took many pictures on her phone from the day. She wanted to tell me all about it. Fine! She wanted to show me her pictures. Fine! With those pictures came selfies of her and OW. Plenty of them. A group selfie….her, her father and OW. One big happy family!!!! No pictures of daughter with just her dad. I said nothing.

Seeing that was like driving a stake between my eyes. I excused myself to the bathroom for a moment to gather myself and to try to decide if I should mention to her how seeing those photos hurt me. I decided to word it in a way that wouldn’t hurt her feelings, but would explain my boundaries and to let her know that I wasn’t ready to see pictures like those yet.

My words were (and I held in my tears and emotions) “Can I say something to you briefly….and please don’t take this the wrong way or be upset?…..I am not yet at a point where I can see pictures of you and OW. I wanted to hear about your trip and see your pictures, but I am not ready to see you with OW. This is a boundary I need to have in place so I can continue to heal from the hurt.”

She rolled her eyes at me. She said “Whatever Mom” …..”I can never do anything right”….”Those pictures were just there.” I am not stupid. She knew those pictures were coming up. She could pull her phone back and pass over them before continuing. She is 16! She isn’t a toddler. She knows how much it hurts to be cheated on. Has happened to her with boyfriends. How does she not see how this would hurt? Did she do it on purpose? Did she want the drama? Why couldn’t she say,”Gee Mom, I am so sorry. I did not do it on purpose. I will be careful next time.”

Why do I feel as though I should be silenced about talking about my feelings?

I don’t know how to handle this. Now she is angry with me and she won’t talk to me and she was verbally abusive this morning to both her older sister and to me. And she said that her sister and I gang up on her. “Everyone sees it”!

This is why I held on for five years (knowing of the cheating) and tried to reconcile my broken marriage. Because I saw what was going to happen to my children and our family. This feels hopeless. I feel so damn defeated. I didn’t want any of this!

How do I fix the mess?

Kimmy

Dear Kimmy,

It’s not your mess to fix. You set a boundary, and when you set a boundary you let go of the consequences. People may not like your boundaries. They might lash out. They might get ugly. It’s your boundary. Stick to it.

I don’t fault you for having the boundary and I think you went about it the kindest way you knew how. That doesn’t mean your daughter is going to like it.

She’s a teenager. If she’s like most young people her age, she resists all boundaries. Given the narcissistic age they’re at, never show your vulnerability to teenagers. You think toddlers are manipulative? (I’ll just bat my eyelashes and look cute here and mom will give me a cookie!) Teenagers have had the last decade to perfect their skills of button pushing. You just handed her your button when you said this hurt you.

You can’t expect your kid to understand your pain, but you can expect her to respect your boundary. I would suggest a simpler boundary for now — what goes on at Dad’s house stays at Dad’s house. You don’t need the particulars. I doubt you wanted to see her pictures, or hear about her fabulous day out, so don’t put yourself in that position. If she goes there, don’t agree to see her phone. Just utter a pleasant banality and change the subject.

A wise person once counseled that all conversations with young people could be reduced to “cool, bummer, wow.”

I spent a terrific day with dad and his mistress!

Cool.

I’m got fired from my internship, but it’s okay because I got a job as a tattoo artist!

Bummer. Wow.

Look at my sleeve tattoo! It’s the Battle of Gettysburg only with zombies!

Wow.

Teenagers don’t want to share everything with you. Don’t share everything with teenagers. If she pushes you on why you don’t want to see 40 selflies of her and the OW, you say “I’m glad you had a good day.” If she keeps pushing you just state your boundary. “It’s better for me now if I don’t hear about the particulars of your time at dad’s. Hey, want tacos for lunch?”

Look, she is 16. Whatever her kerfuffles in her dating life, she has absolutely NO IDEA how you feel. She hasn’t the foggiest notion of what it is to invest decades in a relationship and have kids and a mortgage and entangled family. She has no idea what it is to be gutted by adult infidelity.

From her perspective, she knows her family fell apart, and if she can’t have her intact family, then she’ll go with the next pleasant narrative We’re All Happier Now and Everyone Can Be Friends. The reality of your pain, of your boundary of not feeling friendly toward the cheating ex, doesn’t play well with that narrative. She’s grown up watching you eat shit sandwiches. Why won’t you eat this one too?

Because there are consequences for abandoning your family. Because there are deeply hurt feelings. Because it is a terrible loss and you’re going to grieve it. Eventually, I trust you will get to meh about the ex and the OW and their trips to petting zoos or WTFever they’re up to, but you’re not there yet. Because this pain is fresh and raw. Don’t be inauthentic, but don’t discuss your emotional slop with minors either. They just need to know you are still IN CHARGE. You’re mom, this is your boundary. Respect it. Next subject please.

I know you wish your daughter could respond with compassion, but maybe she’ll get there at some point years from now. But don’t predicate your relationship on it. Your pain isn’t her job. And hearing about it probably makes her feel disloyal to her dad, and guilty about enjoying time with the OW. She’s got to work those relationships out on her own and connect the dots for herself. And that shit takes YEARS. Your job is to focus on your new life and parent your kids.

Part of which includes not taking shit off teenagers. She’s verbally abusive to you or her sister? You shut that down. Not acceptable. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement.

Chumps have this codependent notion that sharing our pain will compel other people to not do certain things. I can tell you about my pain! And that will (guilt them, make them feel bad, and compel them) to not Do The Upsetting Thing. No. Cut to the chase and be direct with people. Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing.

It’s much more effective that way and shields you from further hurt. Then your vulnerable underbelly isn’t being rejected.

If the person persists in Doing the Upsetting Thing? That’s good information to have. That means you have been clear and they are indifferent. So you enforce the consequence, whatever that is.

So, in summary — keep your pain to yourself around your kids best you can, but get that boundary right out there in front.

Did your teenager do it to stir up drama? On purpose? Who knows? We’re talking about teenagers. Their brains aren’t fully formed (as I keep telling mine). Drama is part of the gig. Steady on and keep parenting.

This column ran previously. 

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • This is so timely for me. Other chumps advised me to read this as my situation is similar to Kimmy’s. Only my daughter has moved out to live with her dad whilst being loved bombed by MOW. Adhering to Cool. Bummer.Wow and avoiding being dragged into the triangulation and drama which Ex, MOW and daughter seem to feed off.

    Thanks Chump Lady. Great advice

    • I’m going through the same crap. My ex and OW are basically buying the boys off while having the “Your mom is SOOOO mean and evil and we’re so wonderful!” line. Hello! IF you really LOVED the kids, you WOULD NOT have cheated on their mother for years, drag her through a hell divorce and stick her with child support, etc, etc, etc.

      I just don’t understand why teenagers are so entitled. It is all about them and what they can milk from people.

  • Chump Lady. I know this post ran previously. Did you ever get an update on how things were working out for Kimmy?

    • If I recall properly, Kimmy is happily dating the Husband of the OW. Aside from the delight in finding someone with whom you can connect, isn’t that the greatest FU to the cheaters evah?

      • It is but in my case I would Nevah Nevah Nevah hook up, set eyes on, or entertain any kind of contact with the wife-beating, common-law husband, father of illegitimate child who was the “husband” of the girl-child OW. Not in a million years!

        • Same here. Skanky’s ex raped their twelve-year old daughter. Of course, that’s all behind them now and she’s the court-appointed supervisor for his visits with their younger daughter in Clusterfuckdale.

          When I objected to our minor son spending time with the rapist, by X told me to get over it. Because he’s a “treasured guest” in their home.

          So, no. I’ll never date the ex of the skank who helped blow up my marriage. I draw the line WAY before child rapists.

            • Yeah, the OW’s X almost positively knew they were having an affair and he couldn’t tell me?? What an ass. So, he’s been blocked too. He looks like troll anyway. Like his x-wife.

              • Same here, he didn’t tell me. And he was the om in her first marriage to his brother so that’s gross. And he’s wiry and skinny in a runner/high school teacher way. Not my type, and I was disappointed lol.

              • Shechump, so right. Someone’s sloppy seconds can in no way inflict the pain we’ve endured, and whomever they chose before is arguably a victim and therefore just another pawn in their game. Who knows. It’s funny to speculate; radioactive to the touch.

        • Yay 🙂 congratulations!! Although I’m totally curious how that match happened, lol.

          Very timely article… my biggest complaint wasn’t the teenagers, but my 4 year old. It caught me so off guard that she brought up “daddy’s friend Ms. Courtney” in the middle of nowhere that I did not handle it well. I said not to talk about Ms. Courtney and that brought in temper tantrum of how mommy is so mean and Ms. Courtney is so nice to everyone. It was awful…. we’re obviously working on behaviors. Thank you for the fresh perspective to handle it. Yall are my people <3

  • You could try giving her empty responses and then she may go elsewhere. While people tell me the following “is just plain rude”, I either the response I want or something better than what I would have gotten had I gone the “open honest dialogue” route.

    So responses like:
    1. yeah, and…..
    2. why do you ask?
    3. and your point is…..

    followed by blank stares may get your daughter to cool her jets, so to speak.

    • JPC – well, since I never had kids I can only go by my own teenage self.

      XANAX!

      The nicest people become such horrible people during those years.
      You absolutely can’t understand them or vice versa.
      I’m still ashamed of yelling at my mom once. Thankfully, I didn’t swear but I’ve sure heard a lot of my sisters’ teenagers use the worst mouths on their mothers. Even ones married to their dad.

  • Takeaway messages for me: teenagers are assholes. Universally. Teenagers that share 50% of their DNA with an asshole and have been at least partially raised in proximity of said asshole are likely to be assholes during your conflict with the parental asshole.
    My own teen and tween assholes have seen their dad either ignore me or treat me like crap for most of their childhoods. That is also on me because I allowed it, sometimes because of wreckconciliation.
    Sometimes I hear my STBX’s words coming right out of my kids’ mouths, and it sucks. My message has become “I am no longer allowing myself to be treated disrespectfully by ANYONE. It is never acceptable. I am sorry that I allowed and you witnessed others treating me this way. We have better standards now, so get with the program.”
    I should probably have business-size cards printed up…

    • During the discard, devalue phase, my children’s father was unbelievably cruel (I thought it was stress, too much work, mental health crisis) and it’s those last years with him that I remember best. By the time Dday came around I was past wanting him out of my life. The way he treated me was modeled to our kids but I always called him out on it. Who in their right mind treats their spouse like shit?!? Like many Chumps here I now have healthier boundaries, and have eliminated most of the crappy people from my life, including his entire family ;). So, lesson learned. Life is so much more beautiful now.

      • Yes!!
        This is the first year that I am not buying Xmas gifts for his crappy family (I had been doing it since before we got married). It is such a relief!

        • LOL … my child reports that this year ex is giving all the members of his family a cheap-shit whitman’s sampler from the grocery store … you know, the ones that are probably 50 years old , marked down to $5, and already “wrapped” … Methinks they might just miss me a little, teeny-weeny bit. 🙂

          (my apologies to lovers of whitman samplers!)

          • I used to get my MIL those Belgian seashell chocolates. They got harder and harder to find but I did every year for 10 years. Not this year!
            STBX will do something expensive and last minute. Expensive to show them what a great son he is. Last minute because of what kind of son he actually is.

    • “Sometimes I hear my STBX’s words coming right out of my kids’ mouths, and it sucks.”

      So true Louisvilleflower. When this happens, I know exactly where the words are coming from and I try hard to not be roped in to the triangulation.

      • My personal favorite is “you buy too much junk food.” STBX used to say that to me because he had no self control. If there was junk, he would eat it. Now he takes them to crap places during his time with them.?
        When teen son says it, I 1) list off a dozen healthy choices, 2)remind him that just because there are treats, he doesn’t have to eat them, and 3) suggest he accompany me to the grocery store. I usually only get to #2 before he apologizes.

        • I think it’s funny when D says they went to X restaurant for lunch/dinner and the food was awful/unhealthy, etc.. X restaurant is awful/unhealthy, etc. and they both know it so why go there in the first place! It’s all about choices…..and we know cheaters don’t make good choices.

        • My son said after frisbee golfer got arrested for DV that I must have exaggerated my story to the police. I showed him my bruises and he said “whatever mom. You know you bruise easily.” He has heard his dad say that. I do not know how to handle him and I fear he will become an abuser too.

          • OMG, my kids said the same thing. You made it up, exaggerated it etc. followed by, you knew he was upset you should have just waited for him to calm down. Wow we were all well trained to let X control us. Lightbulb moment for me

            • D said to me once, “mom, you always play the victim”.

              There’s so much they don’t see or understand.

              • My son said the same thing. And even though I knew he was parroting what he had heard, it was heartbreaking.
                Whenever I say something positive about myself or something I have done, he says “inflated ego much?”
                The first time I heard that I was stunned. My therapist pointed out that STBX had become the negative, nagging voice of self doubt that I heard in my head. I had internalized his bs so much that he didn’t even need to be around for the emotional abuse to happen. And my son had internalized it too.
                Now, we talk about healthy ego (as opposed to narcissistic STBX) and being proud of ourselves and each other. It is a long fucking road.

          • I am so sorry.
            Can you say to your kid “yes, I bruise easily and frisbee golfer is well aware of that but chose to put his hands on me anyway. He broke a law that he is well aware of. He thinks he is above the law and me and neither is true.”
            There have to be some resources out there for parents to teach their kids who have been exposed to DV and have had it normalized to them. Ask on the forums maybe?

          • Oh, Sara, may I recommend you address what your son said very firmly? Whether you bruise easily (which I assume is BS) is not the issue–your son needs to know in no uncertain terms that laying hands on another person out of anger or aggression is NOT okay and is appalling behavior.

            Sometimes messages need to to be delivered with a 2 x 4 because teenagers are self-centeredly thick (even the honors students).

          • High-five on using “frisbee golfer”!

            More seriously, my sister had a child who got violent occasionally as part of his ADHD problems. If you ever find your child repeating the pattern modeled for him, be prepared to treat it exactly as you did with ex. Calling the cops on a child is far more emotionally difficult than doing so on an ex, so I mention this to you so that you can just have that thought already processed in your mind. Hopefully that would never be necessary.

          • Man that’s awful. My middle son occasionally sounds like the smarmy shit bird old husband and its chilling.
            I’ve never had to endure physical bruising from family members though- I’m so sorry that happened to you.
            Like most kids, mine are selfish and I do notice the parent with the more image crafted narrative (everyone is happy now! Let’s not discuss the “awful thing!”) is the one the teenagers seem to gravitate towards. It’s like a fucking extra taco punch after the shittiness of cheating and divorce. Sigh.

            • I had a very close friend help me realize that one of the reasons my son’s abhorrent behavior is so grating to me is because he sounds and acts just like his father. It is the hardest thing in the world to reconcile post divorce; my love for my son and my visceral response to his asshole beliefs, lies and behavior. When he speaks, he is parroting the shit his father has fed him.

              Staying together for the sake of the kids is a BAD PLAN. You essentially give them a front row seat with blow by blow instructions on how to treat you like shit.

              • I hear the same arrogant responses from my son parroting his father.
                Body language, condescending attitude, snide remarks.
                Having a conversation with him is one sided, disinterested when you speak and of course knows better and more than anyone else.
                It turns my stomach..,

    • Totally agree. My teenager knows thinks MOW is really awesome, even through she’s aware her dad’s special snowflake is sneaking around behind her husband and kids back. It’s poor dad this,poor dad that. No empathy for me. Talks about MOW, find Cool, Bummer. Wow is the only way to deal with it otherwise I will lose my shit completely. That’s what she want’s. Like CL states, can’t show my vulnerability and let her see she has hurt me. They can only fuck with my head if I allow it.

      Not going to play, so Cool, Bummer, Wow

      • I haven’t had that lovely experience yet. But I am going to start practicing for when it happens.
        My kids are all on the autism spectrum. My STBX cannot effectively or appropriately handle a lot of their behavior. He is going to have a tough time introducing them to anyone.
        He told me that he would wait “at least 5 years” before introducing kids to someone. I don’t know what he means by that… If he is talking about 5 years after he first screwed them, he has got about a dozen women to introduce them to by now.

        • My ex fiancé said the same thing. He introduced her to his red headed whore within 3 months of dating. (About 6 months if you add the time he was cheating on me). It’s all BS. He had some many rule when we were together. Won’t marry for 5 years after a divorce, won’t introduce kids, never buy a house again, blah,blah blah. He broke every single one of them.
          The worse part was he was so uppity about his ex-wife cheating on him but it’s was perfectly fine for him to do the same. ASSHOLE!

        • Same here LouisvilleFlower.

          The Evil One/exh#2 had our Autistic daughter around the OWhore within days of meeting her as she had him around her kids, posting group pics within days of meeting each other…thanks, Facebook
          I dont have to listen to the rundown of the oh -so-fabulous time she had with TEO & his OWife — they married within 5 months of meeting (if they are to be believed) and 60 days after our divorce was final after he left us…
          Cool.
          Bummer.
          Wow.
          Fucktatds pieces of shit

      • I find it amazing that kids will treat the solid, responsible and loving parent like crap and the flaky parent with kid gloves. I think they know deep down if they do not play into the flaky parent’s narrative they too will be discarded like yesterday’s trash. Anyway, set your boundaries and if they act like a spoiled, nasty brat call them out on it and under no circumstances tolerate that behavior as you will be doing them no favors in the long run.

        • My kids are fearful of STBX. His parenting style is “do what I say (not what I do, of course) and if you do not, I will force you.”
          Kids know that chumps are the safe parent and all the feelings and behaviors come out. I used to work with abused kids and we worked a lot with these issues. After a blow up, you can process what really happened, if you can figure it out…
          I tell my kids, once things are calm, “you know, your reaction to what I said/did was out of proportion, which makes me think there is something deeper going on.” I talk about stresses from school and siblings as well as STBX.

        • “I think they know deep down if they do not play into the flaky parent’s narrative they too will be discarded like yesterday’s trash.”
          You hit the nail right on the head. I saw it with the traitor’s kids treatment of their mother, which he encouraged.

    • “We have better standards now, so get with the program.”

      I think I’m going to make this my new mantra, for myself, for my kids, for my co-workers, and for anyone else who needs to hear it again and again and again. Thanks, Louisville!

  • I love your advice! Very wise. Do not share your pain and expect compassion from your teenager. Set a clear and enforceable boundary instead.

  • Teenagers can be like toddlers with acne and a driver’s permit. Teaching empathy to toddlers is recommended by (a) parents modeling empathy, and (b) getting them to see the other person’s point of view, “How do you think Johnny felt when you took his toy out of his hands?”

    I suspect the same strategy works for teenagers (though don’t expect immediate results). While driving my daughter and her friend around, I heard my daughter invalidating her friend. After we dropped off the friend, I called daughter on it overtly, and told her she had not treated her friend well.

    The first time a teen (or any child, for that matter) tried to show me “OW/OM and I are buddies” pictures, I’d be tempted to say, “That person slept with my H/W while I was married to him/her, and blew up the life that I had been investing heavily in. How do you think it makes me feel to know you are now pals with this person, and feel the need to show me pictures of him/her with you?” Expect a backlash (as with Kimmy’s daughter), but a drama-less message forcing teens to think about how someone else is feeling can’t be bad. The “cool, bummer, wow” can then be instituted so as not to reinforce the teen who continues to press boundaries (but now at least they know WHY those boundaries are in place).

    • I like the approach of “how do you think that makes me feel.” That is probably the kind of inquiry that should be made of the cheater, rather than “How could you have done this to me/our family.” It forces them to actually stop and think about you and what you are experiencing, rather than focus on themselves and jump into defense/justification mode. I know I read that recommendation somewhere.

      • I agree, but you’ll have more luck getting empathy and understanding out of the teen. If cheaters were capable of that much empathy, they wouldn’t have done what they did.

          • raising hand – I have another suggestion that my mom did.
            She just burst out crying.
            I was never mean to her again.
            She was so fragile when I figured out my dad had been cheating on her but she couldn’t tell me.
            I just didn’t want to hurt her anymore.

      • And I followed it. I think it depends on whether your narc is a sadist or not. It gave him plnety for fuel to gaslight me an Kiddo with.

        If I had commited suicide, he’d have seen it as a compliment. No joke.

        So with teenagers, yes, teaching empathy is valid, as is the way you phrase the question, in a no BS way.

        But as Chump Lady says, you can’t preach truth to stupid. And telling someone who made a conscious choice to commit emotional rape and actual physical harm as well as financial ruination they hurt you isn’t gonna change them.

  • This is a timely post for me and I agree that teenagers suck.

    D was 16 when we split and the best thing I unknowingly did at the time was to allow them to schedule their time together. It took some painful experiencies for me to also learn that I shouldn’t ask about her dad or the time they spent together. When she would head off to see him, I would simply say “have fun” (he is disney dad, of course) and when she returned, I would simply say “I missed you and I’m glad you’re home”. Occasionally, she would elaborate and I used the cool, wow, bummer, responses.

    The more difficult times have been when he’s played on her sympathy and she came home angry at me and screaming about how horrible I am, etc. I’ve not handled these situations well and will sheepishly admit that I did yell back at her. She’s said things like:
    – she feels so bad for him because he’s alone and has no money since he’s giving it all to me and I’m doing so well. I called BS on that because when she said this, child support had ended.
    – she only lives with me because I have custody. LOL – she was 19 when she said this. I told her custody ended when she graduated HS so feel free to move anytime (she didn’t of course).
    – she understands how divorce works because they studied it in one of her classes. I called a BIG BS on this one – oh, you read something in a book about divorce? Let’s talk when you’ve lived through it cause I have and I still wouldn’t claim to understand it.

    She’s almost 20 now and she still tries to play he and I against each other. When I say no to something, she runs to him and makes sure I know it. We’re in the midst of one of these situations as I type this so thank you Tracy for this post and CN for sharing you’re experiences. Definitely needed!

  • Kimmy here!!!! Ahhhhhh…….this was a horrible time! Re-reading this was hard but showed me just how far I have come since this letter.

    UPDATE: And you are NOT going to be shocked when I tell you…….That my then 16 year old no longer visits with her father. He does not like the OW at all now. She sees her dad for who he is and unfortunately sees that she is very far down on the list of importance in his life. He focuses purely on himself and OW. My ex and the OW take vacations together that do not involve my girls. The youngest has actually asked to go on a vacation with just her father and he said NO.

    Just last week my ex called both of our daughters to tell them that he was getting married this Tuesday!!! Yep…….a TUESDAY! He and OW went to the courthouse and got it done. No family was invited. His best man was the same man who was best man when we got married. Her maid of honor was the same woman who was maid of honor when she got married!!!! WOW!! I just laugh!!

    I am so much farther along now. None of this even phased me. I do wish my daughters had a better relationship with their father but he really doesn’t want that. I think he likely never wanted to have children, does not know how to be a dad and is very selfish, living a life with no responsibilities. So sad for my girls. It truly does get better.

    I still visit CL but just not as much!!!

      • So happy for you Kimmy. You have come so far to not have your ex’s remarriage even phase you. That’s wonderful. Glad you are doing well.

      • Thanks for updating us Kimmy. Yes it’s sad for our kids to realise how low they are in their cheater parent’s priority list. Mine have never liked the OW and will no doubt end up with a distant relationship with him sooner rather than later.

      • Kimmy, happy you and your kids are doing well. Your update confirms what kb22 said earlier:

        “I think they know deep down if they do not play into the flaky parent’s narrative they too will be discarded like yesterday’s trash.”

        Very sad for all the kids in this, at least they have the sane parent.

    • “I think he likely never wanted to have children, does not know how to be a dad and is very selfish, living a life with no responsibilities.”

      I think this is frequently true and so sad for the kids. It’s one of the reasons I never had kids with XH; I knew he wasn’t “that” kind of guy.

      I’m glad your daughter realized the true story and made the decision on her own, but I am sorry you were married to such a selfish and hurtful man.

      • NW Biblio – I also knew my X was too selfish to have kids so we never got around to even talking about it.
        And, now I know I’m right.

    • I agree, in the big picture, you wish the relationships were better, but glad to hear are far along you are, and that the elder daughter can see her father for who he is. I feel for the younger one, wanting to be included, but is excluded. My ex remarried when my son was 9– son wanted to go to the wedding, but since older sister did not want to attend, son could not. It still boggles my mind that people are so selfish and self centered.

    • It really does work out just exactly the way everyone here says it will, doesn’t it? So glad to hear that you’re doing well and not needing to hang out here as much!!

  • My then 20 year old daughter met the OW at a birthday dinner for her father about a 8 months after D-day. Divorce had just been finalized a few weeks earlier. She was a dinner with her father and her grandparents. Her father didn’t introduce her and everyone acted like the “Apocalypse” had not happened except OW was there rather than me. I asked my daughter how she felt about it and then I told her that this was NOT NORMAL behavior, although not a surprise. I explained to her that for them to not recognize how uncomfortable she might have felt or invalidate her pain was unacceptable and horrendous. It was totally predictable behavior on their part, but I wanted to continue get it in my daughter’s head that HER PAIN was real, that her feelings were important. Just because their reality was warped,and particularly her dad’s, hers was not and to never forget that in all interactions with her dad. I wanted her to trust her gut and her know that her needs, instincts and emotions always were important.

    • Their lives are a cheap soap opera where the actress playing the wife appliance keeps changing but the viewers are not supposed to notice!

  • It can go the other way….Capt. Underpants was gaslighting me and lying and the usual, when a voice from the other room cut through the noise. “Yes you did,” she said, “you did just what mom said.” “Quit lying about it.” (If I could only preserve an image of the look on his face. ::Snicker::)

    Well, whaddya know. an ally in the most unexpected place! I didn’t even know (daughter ) was home. She’s been my hero at times, and my biggest pain in the ass at others–no, always my second biggest!

    In my limited experience, they know the score. Whether they use it to support you, or to use you, or some other purpose I have no idea, but I am very very close to (daughter). Capt. Underpants, not so much.

  • I get ridiculed a lot by cheater nation (STBX, AP, and their fan club) but I haven’t lost any sleep or missed any meals over it! He and his AP are unstable – stable and sane individuals do not behave as these two have and does. And to have my kids engaged in unsupervised activities with these two is asking for disruption. I am responsible for making sure my kids are as emotionally stable as possible and a part of that is protecting them from the behaviors of emotionally unstable people and unfortunately right now this happens to be their father and his associates. However, the rules or moral standards should not change for him. I refuse to settle so if you cannot get help to deal with your issues, you will not continue to inflict momentary pleasures (day outings/shopping trips, etc.) and emotional baggage on my kids. These are just tactics to make him look good and usually my kids leave him feeling emotionally empty – he has never encouraged them or showed any interest in helping them heal emotionally but he has invested hundreds of dollars in his AP trying to keep her his preferred size and spoke many encouraging words to her on her weight lost journey. My kids need to be stable and I will fight for their stability and am ready to take on the judge and anyone else as my precious gems deserve so much more than what some man who obviously just donated sperm and cannot control his penis has to offer. Forget, “they need their dad” and “it has nothing to do with the kids” syndrome!!! Their dad showed them that his AP (a complete stranger) was more valuable via his actions so forget him and society’s view of “they need their dad” and “it has nothing to do with the kids”…IMO this is why so many children of divorce on are psychotropic medications and in mental health treatment as we confuse them with our double standards to please cheater nation and in some cases to stay connected to someone who jeopardized the emotional and financial stability of his/her own flesh and blood – how cruel!!

  • Hello. I may not be a popular post today. I have three boys, 20, 17 and 11.
    All have been great. Two eldest decided on minimal contact verging on none. Little one has some contact and is most conflicted and angry with my STBX.
    It may have a great deal to do with the fact that my cheater was much more away than he was home so I have raised them mostly on my own. But I just think a lot of teens get a bad rap. It’s a hard age to be without the cheating and divorce to go through.
    I think that to generalise that all teens are this or that is not helpful. It’s more helpful to identify specific difficulties or behaviours and deal with each case. I Just feel defensive of teens obviously but it’s sometimes too easy to scapegoat them when it’s our fear of losing them or their love that makes us crazy. They are probably trying their best with what they have to make their own way through the crap.

    Confession. I used to get roundly criticised by my mother (my dad left her) for being a ‘teenager’ when I was a straight A student, quiet, not a party girl. Just ordinary. Bookish. Never talked back. I think I just reminded her of him and she felt I had seen her be humiliated when she liked to be all powerful. So. I identify with the difficulties of being a teen. I would never want to be one again!

    • I completely agree with you, Cap. My teen has his moments but is deep down inside a most delightful human being. Not an asshole. And I too would NEVER wish to repeat the teenage years and that certainty helps me deal with child’s occasional moods. Good post.

      • Thanks Dixie.
        I also think I didn’t spot his dysfunction until I discovered his affairs and it’s only now I am looking back with a new eye. It’s not surprising to me that if we as adults didn’t see/ struggled to resist/ codepended our way through our relationship with the cheater then how can we expect teens to be any quicker ? We often talk here of the lure of the sparkly/ covert narc to us and how difficult to extricate ourselves despite their behaviour. How much harder would this be for teens and their parent?

        I had a ‘nice’ covert and I still feel pleasure when they blank him and a bit of fear if they are kind to him. I just feel hurt by what he did and want to kids to take my side however in adult that may be! I am just doing what you advocate later on in this thread and am being patient and neutral and letting it all shake out.
        Fingers crossed.

    • I agree with you, too, Capricorn. My kids a great. They are moody once in a while, but like Dixie Chump said, I remember the teenage years myself. I remember being moody, so it helps me brush off when they are quiet or short with me. My delusional narc ex thought the kids would “be fine” since they were teenager and older. Yeah, right. This was/is the worst time for a divorce. I wish he would have left when I was pregnant with my second and my first was only a year old. That way I could have saved them all this emotional pain. Jerk.

  • This is such a raw subject for me right now that it’s hard to read this and hard to even write. Kimmy, your update is encouraging. many of you have heard part of my story, that my kids discovered this affair on Christmas two years ago and that douche bag gaslit and blame shifted and we tried wreconciliation for five months all the while he was using drugs and seeing the slut every single day. It all ended when the marriage counselor said that she didn’t believe him and that he needed to take a polygraph and he refused and then he said he wanted to see the slut openly whatever that means but he was confused about whether not he wanted to leave our family or be with her, but he said he didn’t want an open marriage. So I told him he had an hour to get his shit out of the house and he left. apparently he had already signed a lease on a very expensive one bedroom apartment in another city and so despite lying to me about his loving situation and telling me for the next nine months that he was going to get his shit together and recommit to our family he was living the high single life with the homewrecking gold-digging slut. Last New Year’s I finally filed for divorce and have spent nearly $100,000 because he’s fought me on every single front. Our third daughter, the one who discovered this affair, had several suicide attempts and was in a lockdown facility for a month. during all of the family sessions in therapy sessions she blamed the douche bag for everything. I got full custody of our youngest, because the douche did not want us to inquire into his fitness for parenting and into his mental health and drug use.

    When our teenaged child got out of rehab, though she agreed to a contract of living arrangements. Within two months she broke a very important safety boundary and I imposed consequences that she had previously agreed to and that her therapist helped negotiate — basically I took her car away for a month . She was really pissed off. And in swooped douche bag and bought her a new car and allowed her to pick out an expensive brand-new apartment in a high-rise and unlimited credit card if she would agree to live with him and the slut. He doesn’t Provide any supervision.
    My lawyer told me that I could spend $10,000 trying to get her to come back but she’s months away from adulthood and she’s already in the local college and she would probably just go live with some drug dealers . so I’ve had to eat the massive shit sandwich of her living with them these past six months. She never even took her things they’re still dirty clothes in her dirty clothes laundry in her bedroom here at home. Since she left she has never once contacted her other three siblings. She has never once shown any interest in our pets. she continues to have major anxiety and depression issues but is in a long-term outpatient program.

    A couple weeks ago I found out that in addition to three piercings she got a tattoo even though she’s underage . I just use the cool bummer wow non-reaction to everything. I try to invite her to Sunday dinner with my other children every week. Sometimes she comes but it’s very disturbing to see her because she’s not doing well and she tries to pick fights so I have to shut down completely emotionally. When she leaves I am exhausted and it’s a real trigger and I usually have a long sob. Now the holidays are coming up and while she did come for Thanksgiving dinner, and reveal that because the slut has always lived at home with her parents and doesn’t know how to cook, they went to an Italian restaurant for brunch before she came to my house for a traditional Thanksgiving dinner. She said it was horrible. Again I have a non-reaction to her comments.

    When she moved out to live with the slut and douche bag I asked her how she thought that would impact our relationship and she said she hadn’t given that any thought at all and that that didn’t matter to her in any way. I said OK then I guess there’s nothing more to talk about. It broke my heart, though. I believe someday she may regret all this.
    i’ve asked her a few times especially in the early weeks to come home, but each time she says no so I’ve stopped asking. I took her on a preplanned vacation and she was so abusive to my youngest and kept calling douche bag and lying about how awful we were being to her and then she said she would never go on another vacation in her life. It was all horrible drama.

    It’s really my worst fear that my family would be completely torn apart. And it’s hard not to ask the question why why why why why ………. of course douche bag is miserable and he’s already cheated on the slut and other affair partners from prior years came out of the woodwork last year so I learned that he has a long history of living double lives -he was not who I thought he was and I can’t wait to get divorced. I’m completely no contact. I am building a new life. When my divorce is final in a few months I can see meh in the distance. But the situation with my third daughter really has been one of the worst aspects of this hell.

    • Your post is so painful to read … I can only imagine actually living it. Give that third daughter her space … she will either mature out of it or she won’t. Some things you just cannot control … no sense pushing that string. So sorry, though. It really does sound like hell. (((Hugs)))

      • MotherChumper, good advice from Dixie. Sounds to me like you are giving her space and are doing well. There is not much more you can do but wait and be there for her when she turns to you again. Sounds like she will want to, she hasn’t cut all contact. She is using you and her siblings as punching bags though. She is obviously in pain. I think she knows she can turn to you anytime, and she will. In the meantime, Cool, Bummer, Wow, you are doing very well.

    • I agree that teenagers can have a lot going for them, and that navigating post-infidelity divorce and the breakup of their family before they have full understanding of human relations, can be very difficult. And, of course, we want to think that the periods when they are being extremely difficult or selfish is merely a temporary foray into assholehood.

      However, I would hate to invalidate the horrible things that some members of CN have suffered at the hands of their teenagers–Brit and Cakeless in K spring to mind most readily. These are cases where the sane, stable, self-sacrificing parent has been blatantly and cruelly rejected in favor of the lying, cheating, manipulative cheater who offers a life with few rules or regulations. That stings. Teenagers are capable of complex moral decisions, and unfortunately, a select few do make choices that re-victimize the parent who raised them right.

      That is not to say that even those teenagers who behave cruelly to their chump parents are not capable of redemption and later remorse for what they have done. But they are clearly going through a period of pronounced jerk-hood.

      • Agree with you Tempest. And children and teens are easily corruptible, that’s what perverted groomers use all the time.

        I am glad this column was posted again. Dealing with the traitor’s kids has been a series of hot and cold showers. It is very painful, but I agree with Capricorn that as much as I was fooled by him (and we were living and working together), they can be fooled. They have spent very little time with him in comparison since he left the first wife for the whore. As for the 4th boy, being the son of the whore makes everything extra complicated. Nothing I can do.
        I am very disappointed and hurt, I cry a lot about the loss of our family, but I strive not to be angry at their rejection.
        This weekend they are off to the traitor’s family usual early Xmas do. As I requested from his brothers, the bros have contacted the traitor (they had to ask me his new phone number, he hadn’t been in touch with his family since New Year’s Day) and invited him. I just finished coaching the SILs in Cool, Bummer, Wow yesterday. They are very nervous about how to deal with him and the whore. In fact they would rather not have them in their houses! I hope they manage to do what I have asked them to do: placate the beasts so they keep the relationship with their nephews. My goal is to make sure the boys still have regular contact with his lovely family, because I dread them being under the influence of the whore’s hyena pack.
        So CBW is the new mantra, for the sake of the new generation. In this case the stroppy toddler-teenagers who must be pacified are the traitor and the whore.

    • Motherchumper………………WOW! So sorry you are suffering like this. My youngest is now 19 and while she is better and realizes her father is a total shit of a dad, she has always been somewhat of a pot stirrer, if you know what I mean. Is it possible that your daughter is like this as well and LOVES the drama?!

      I have learned, and boy is it ever an ongoing struggle, that the best approach is to say very little but be honest and open about my feelings or opinions. I have better results with tough situations when I let my girls decide things for themselves. I have been pleasantly surprised to see how smart they really are. I have had my youngest tell me, during a normal parent/child argument, that she would just go live with her dad. I very calmly told her that that is always an option, however she should really think about what that living arrangement would be like. While my house will always be her home, there is NO revolving door on my house and she will not use that threat as a tool to get her way with me. THAT stopped her in her tracks that day and I have not heard it again!!

      Good luck to you. It truly does get better!!

    • I can empathize with your situation, MC99. My oldest son has Aspergers, bipolar (his mania is irritability) and ADHD and has been suicidal since he was two. I know that sounds overly dramatic, but if you had seen the look in his eyes that moment back in 1997 when he looked at me, looked at his father who refused to leave when he should have, and then chose to run into a busy street, you would agree that he sometimes gets so overwhelmed that he wants to just die. He’s tried to kill himself three times now.

      Knowing how easily manipulated he is, our son has been a pawn in his father’s twisted game of one upping me for sport. He hates his father, but can’t help trying to win his love. It has been painful to watch.

      He’s spent the past three years self-medicating, losing jobs and in and out of the hospital for suicidal attempts. Only last time, he lied to me and said he wasn’t suicidal, but owed a drug dealer a lot of money and needed to disappear for awhile. It never occurred to him that he put me and his brothers at risk then, too.

      I couldn’t take the lies anymore. Or how easily they came to him. Or how he blamed other people for his shortcomings. Or the weirdos in my basement at all hours. Or the worry. Or the mistrust. When he lost another job and refused to help out around the house, I asked him to leave, and he moved to his father’s house in Clusterfuckdale.

      It was the hardest thing to admit that I could no longer help him. I love him like I love no other. But I recognized I couldn’t save him. I’ve seen him twice since he left in October, both times because he wanted something. There is always an ulterior motive. And after he leaves, I fall apart every time. I miss my son. I loathe the self-centered, disordered, weirdo he has become.

      But strangely, he seems to be almost at peace with who he is now. His struggles are so similar to his father’s personality characteristics (Aspergers, Narcissistic Personality Disorder). It must have been torture for him to live with me who refused to accept his father as someone I could respect, let alone love, any longer. By association, he must have felt I didn’t love him, either.

      I wait for the “call” or the visit from the State Troopers now. I know that either deliberately or by accident, it is only a matter of time. I take comfort in knowing I did the best I could. And that he is with his “people” now. I can’t change that. Or him.

      Hugs. There’s nothing worse than when your children make choices that endanger their lives. Ironically, he chose to live with his father, which was the worst choice I made in my life, too. That poor decision nearly cost me my life, too.

  • I don’t have kids, but when I substituted “ex” for “teenager” in CL’s response, it sounded eerily the same.

  • Well, one of my older children, who was 18 at the time of separation asked at the time why we were getting divorced. I did not lie, just told him about the ex’s affair without editorial. He told me I was lying as my ex had already framed the narrative as “we both agreed to divorce” which was a lie. I then showed him the detective report and said “read it and I am not going to say a word”. His response was that I and the detective were lying. And the ex told him that I had numerous affairs over the 20 years (a total lie). Ex told my son that she had proof but wasn’t going to show him. After separation, he chose to live with her and has only occasional contact with me, usually when he needs or wants something.

    Now 2 years later and Son decides he wants to go to a 4 year university at a cost of $27K per semester. Calls me to say that my ex will pay for his books but I should pay for everything else. I was stunned. According to him and the ex, I am still his father and I have an obligation to pay for his education! Needless to say, my answer was “no, I am not the ATM that you press buttons on when you need something”. When he was 17, I gave him a car, paid for his insurance and gave him a gas credit card which was billed to me. Just this year I gave him the car, told him I am not paying for his gas and insurance anymore. Am saying this so you don’t think that I have been a deadbeat to my son. I just don’t understand

    • Good for you on holding that boundary. College costs is totally optional. Even parents with good relationships with their kids don’t necessarily owe it to their kids to provide a free ride … it might jeopardize other important financial priorities. Moreover, I can promise you that those kids who pay their own way (raises hand) pay much closer attention to their studies and the real reason for college, whereas kids who get the free ride tend to party, party, party. So you are providing many important lessons with your stance.

      • Yes, college costs are optional, and it does help students understand the importance of studies, being responsible, etc. In my case, it is in the divorce agreement that both parents will assist our kids with college. I wanted something more specific, and now I wish I had fought for it. Ex now has two toddler children with the OWife and now the tune is changing.
        My ex recently told me that he will only help our daughter with college costs if she “consults with him extensively on her choice of universities” and only if she “asks for the money.” Again with the emotional blackmail. She is no contact with him (some of you might remember how she cannot see her half sister and brother without talking to her father).

        I worked and earned scholarships for college. ExH’s parents paid for everything for him (he worked part time for a couple of years, not the entire time, and did not need the money to pay for school or living expenses). When I pointed out his parents supported him, exH’s response was that of course he valued education; evidence, he paid for _my_ education! Um, we were married and had a joint checking account, so both our funds were used to repay my school loans. Revisionist history

      • I just thought of the irony here when i read your post. You see, many, many years ago i worked nights for a trucking company to pay for my college classes. I paid my own way as there was no way my parents could afford it. So I took it upon myself to get a bachelor’s degree, graduated with honors too. And I never missed a class either because it was my money being spent!

        Funny, the ex’s parents paid for college and she dropped out after the 1st year (long before we met). Somehow I did not get blamed for that, must have been an oversight on her part.

  • The post above suggests Kimmy is alive and well, but I did want to comment on a few things in case anyone is reading for their own situation right now.

    — “Why couldn’t she say,”Gee Mom, I am so sorry. I did not do it on purpose. I will be careful next time.” ” — I can’t even get full-fledged adults to have this level of poise, maturity and consideration, so I think it’s very unlikely to come from a teenager.

    Yes, teenagers are assholes. *I* was a teenage asshole, for one thing, even separate from my own parents’ divorce. However, during the divorce (no cheating, just alcoholism and emotional abuse), my biggest concern was where we were going to live, would I have to switch schools, would the other kids look at me funny, how would I still get to spend time with Mom *and* Dad, what if I didn’t want to spend time with either Mom *or* Dad, what’s going to happen to my car…. Do you see a trend here? *Me.* Me me me me me, it was all about me at that age. And I’ve interacted with enough young people at my job to think the “special snowflake” aspect of that segment of society is even more easily hurt, offended, insulted by ANY sort of criticism. And, really, it takes a certain maturity to realize someone else setting a boundary isn’t necessarily an insult against you — it does feel that way, after all.

    Also, during XH’s dad’s infidelity, XH was 22 years old, but his siblings were all teenagers, and they were just trying to make sense of it. Unlike Kimmy, no one liked OW, as she’s pretty unlikable (they married, later, and are still married), but their reactions varied from a go-with-the-flow attitude to a rage-against-the-machine (dad) from the youngest daughter.

    Finally, for anyone really struggling with the frustration from not being able to control other people’s reactions, I cannot recommend highly enough the book, “F*ck Feelings” (the asterisk is part of the title), and I think they have a website. If you get to a point, as I did, where your feelings are just beating the shit out of you, this book provides a very nice cut-and-dried recipe for interacting with those people in your life you can’t control (i.e., everyone). A good friend of mine has significant issues with her adult kids, and she agreed it was very helpful, with one passage saying something like, “The last moment you have any control over your kids is the moment before they exit the womb,” or something like that.

    • Sometimes kids turn into assholes as a survival mechanism. If you are rude to everyone, no one can get close enough to hurt you.
      I was a teenaged asshole too. A mom with narcissistic traits and my own undiagnosed depression contributed, I am sure.
      I love teenagers – even the asshole ones. Especially my asshole ones!
      *Since my kids are all on the autism spectrum, I silently cheer when they do “typical teenager” things like rolling eyes and slamming doors. It indicates an awareness of the world around them, behavior of others, social norms, etc.

  • My advice to newbies (which I actually am as well, but hell, I have advice anyway!! ha ha) is to pace yourself. Whatever it starts out being won’t last because it is all fake. If they start out bad … they’ll just get worse. If they start out “great” … they won’t be able to maintain it and it will get worse. Notice the downward direction in both scenarios.

    The first two months of visitation for my child were DISNEY!!! WOO HOO!! Everything was “better” at dad’s place. Why can’t we do it like at dad’s place, mom?! Fancy, expensive activities and meals out and just rah, rah, rah … presents and new games on the ipad … no rules! Now? One large pizza is purchased on Friday night and they eat it over the rest of the weekend for all meals. Snort. $10 is all you get, son. Dad needs his money for his boyfriend and sports hobbies. Oh, and it seems a lot of the fun money is now going direct deposit over to mom. Disney is closed. Nothing more to see. Move it along. So keep your reactions nice and neutral and just sit back and watch the dysfunction roll in like a morning fog. Poor kids.

  • Generally speaking our teenagers are dealing with their narcissistic parent who until now neglected giving their children positive attention. Now these teenagers are being manipulated and receiving attention, special gifts, more so if complaining or saying something negative about the sane parent. If there’s been an argument between the same parent and teenager narcissist will offer sympathy and more positive feedback. Encouraging the teenager to live with the narcissist with promises of freedom and gifts makes the detachment from sane parent even more appealing. Narcissist intentions are to spite the sane parent and getting out of paying child support without regard to the well being or safety of their child.
    They’re not interested in what’s best for their children, narcissists love the drama and destroying lives while blame shifting. It’s another way to prove to the world how great they are that the teenager gets along with them but not the sane parent. More proof that they’re the good guy/girl insinuating the other parent is difficult to get along with.

    • Teenagers are difficult for normal parents working as a team parenting on the same page. Our teenagers have had their lives shattered by divorce and not a divorce with both parents having their best interest at heart or are trying to make this life altering experience a smooth one.
      It’s more difficult to reason with a teenager who has grown up watching the cheater disrespect their Chump parent over the years. Chump are known to spackle to keep the peace. Chumps often put the Cheater on a pedestal and eat shit sandwiches to maintain the image of the happy marriage, happy family thinking we were doing the right thing. Most of us gave our Cheater respect while gradually accepting disrespect as normal.
      Our children are aware of who had the power and respect and who ate shit.
      Naturally they’re going to gravitate towards the parent who appeared to be the winner not the pathetic shit sandwich eating Chump.

      • I’m sorry, maybe not naturally and I shouldn’t generalize, there are other factors such as the severity of the narcissism, as well as the relationship of the Cheater/Narc on the child before, during and after divorce.

  • My kids are mostly polite and loving. I am, however, rehearsing ‘Cool, bummer, wow’ to deal with my 50-year-old teen, who keeps taking me to court on false allegations and will remain an aggressive, dishonest ‘teen’ or revert to toddler stage for the rest of his life. (I would really like a break from the harassment. Too bad he will probably live past 100–the men in his family have horrendous health habits but just keep kicking!) Hope that the real kids don’t follow in STBX’s criminal footsteps.

  • “Chumps have this codependent notion that sharing our pain will compel other people to not do certain things. I can tell you about my pain! And that will (guilt them, make them feel bad, and compel them) to not Do The Upsetting Thing. No. Cut to the chase and be direct with people. Here is my boundary. Do Not Do The Upsetting Thing.”

    that right there is the 2×4 I needed.

  • She’s been cheated on multiple times.

    You’re hurt. She doesn’t like being corrected. It’s easier to just go along with whatever is happening at dad’s house.

    I wonder if she’s decided to go with a “winner” situation, siding with the victor?

    I want you to gather yourself and take baby steps to mighty. I love that you stepped away to gather yourself before talking to her. I love that you DID set a boundary. I think your best bet is to keep going with that theme and do whatever it takes to not appear to be a victim. I want your daughter to see YOU as the winner.

    Trust that cheater and OW SUCK. Oh, they SUCK. That makes YOU the winner, even if it doesn’t feel like it right away.

    Go for small victories, go for getting what you want. Handle setbacks with grace and even admit frustration and hurt but NEVER defeat.

    I am proud of you. I think I would have eaten my own heart out by now. I think OW wants you do. You’re doing so much better than I would have under the circumstances, so I admire you. Keep going.

  • I so needed this article. Thankfully, my ex-cheater/abuser, is not my son’s father and my son wants absolutely nothing to do with him. However, my son (17) has been telling some pretty serious lies to me. Lies are a trigger. The “gaslighting” was so bad with my ex that once I figured it out and figured out at that I was not crazy I’ve been overcompensating. (Or maybe expecting the truth is not overcompensating). Either way when I found out about the lies my son was telling me my initial reaction was to freak out and start pointing out the ways in which he was behaving like the ex. I’m so glad I did not. I took a day to cool off. I explained to my son that I loved him, that what he did hurt me, was unacceptable and that if he enjoyed having a phone and a car it could not happen again. In addition he is grounded for the week and manual labor (as in cleaning toilets, mopping floors, and washing windows are getting done by him). Boundary set, consequences being enforced. I don’t know if he will do it again. But I am so glad that I didn’t go back and rehash my pain from being in that relationship and compare my son to the ex. This pain is shit. Total shit. And the pain has no boundaries in my head. I’m at a place where if someone lies to me I want to lump them in the same group as my ex, just go not contact and hate them forever. Not my son though. He didn’t ask for any of this and his life has been totally disrupted and he has gone through hell. None of it he chose. So I remind myself he is entitled to act out a little. He is just trying to figure it all out too.

  • I’ve worked with teenagers and college students all my adult life–over 40 years. CL is absolutely right on all of these points:

    1. ” I know you wish your daughter could respond with compassion, but maybe she’ll get there at some point years from now. But don’t predicate your relationship on it. Your pain isn’t her job. And hearing about it probably makes her feel disloyal to her dad, and guilty about enjoying time with the OW. She’s got to work those relationships out on her own and connect the dots for herself. And that shit takes YEARS.” When CL says “your pain isn’t her job,” she’s reminding us that we have to process our own feelings, to find other adults (including friends, professionals and Chump Nation) to support us, and to allow them to see that it is possible for adults to feel grief, sadness, and anger without those emotions eroding the necessary boundaries between parents and kids. When kids become confidantes, supporters, and “friends,” it’s not good for them or the parents. The kids’ job is to be kids and learn to deal with their own emotions in a healthy way.

    2. “Your job is to focus on your new life and parent your kids.” That new life involves, almost by default, modeling to kids how to deal with trauma and grief, how to be resilient, how to seek help when needed, how to accept things we can’t change.

    3. “Part of which includes not taking shit off teenagers. She’s verbally abusive to you or her sister? You shut that down. Not acceptable. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement.” As a teacher, I can tell you it sometimes takes years to get kids to a point where those boundaries are internal–where they don’t need to be told that failing to turn in their work will mean a failing grade or to put their cell phone away in class. Simple things–but it takes years for them to internalize that and not rely on an adult doing “Not acceptable. Boundary. Consequence. Enforcement.”

    Never take shit off teenagers. But also never offload your own anger, grief, pain, or insecurity on them.

    • LovedaJackass

      This was really well written and spot on.

      I feel for everyone posting here. Anything to do with our kids sets off primal feelings. I think ‘normal life’ is quite hard, add cheating to the mix and it becomes exquisitely painful, add childhood issues, then kids, affair partners, financial issues. It’s no wonder we all feel like our heads went in a blender. It doesn’t help that society’s view of infidelity can also make us grind our teeth.

      I love this site where we can all try to figure out what happened to us, how we can cope, how we can recover and how we can renegotiate all the relationships and boundaries with the people we have around us.

      I have been lucky with my teens so far but as I say my reaction to this topic has been mainly from my experience of being one and getting crushed by my mom. I idolised my cheating dad for years as in my view he had left yes but my mom was the one doing daily damage to me through her cold rage and contempt.

      So I don’t want to ‘invalidate’ anyone’s experience but it can be brutal being a teen in this situation.

      But LovedaJackass said it better!

  • I flew back home for my son’s university grad recently and he revealed that he and the OW are now “great friends” and that she will be once again presiding at the head of the table at Xmas dinner in my former marital home. He actually said how nice it was that our home really hasn’t changed, except that I’m not there. I was married 29 years and brought my sons up in that house. We were a happy family until the long term mistress decided to take her “rightful place”. Boy, did she ever! Apparently she is using my wedding china and my maternal grandmother’s antique furniture. She also claims my sons as her own on facebook. She never gave birth to any children.

    She did, however, refrain from showing her cow face at the grad because she KNOWS what she did.

    My response to my amazingly insensitive 30 year old son? Good luck to you, because some day your own son will crap on you too. He accused me of being bitter, and I replied damn sure I am! You will be too, buddy, when your wife f**ks around on you someday.

    I know I was a good mother – never any fights, harsh words, always doing the best for the boys. I spent 25 years putting them first, and they turned out like the old man. Their treachery hurts more than anything the cheater did.

  • Ok so I have a question for all of you. I am an OW. Except I have been married to this man for 2 years now. My marriage was over and in the divorce process when I met him but his was still intact. We blew his family up. No excuses, it was horrible. I feel awful about it every single day. My question is this – is there any way to undo the hurt that we caused his wife/children/family/friends? If I left him right now, would that make it better for the wife and his kids? Honestly. Or is it “what is done is done” and I can never fix it? I just wish I had a time machine. I was a complete selfish stupid idiot for what I did. I love him like crazy but I know now that it doesn’t matter when there are so many people who get hurt in the process. I read this website to try to get a different perspective, and it has actually helped a lot. I would never think to leave my husband but I can’t think of anything else that might at least start to fix what I broke. Should I apologize to the ex-wife? I have just left her alone thus far thinking she wants nothing to do with me. I would just like some opinions. I made a huge mistake and I am trying to make it a little better.

    • Maia

      Maybe you should just leave us all alone?
      Go find another site.
      This thread is for a different topic. If you are here it will go ballistic with OW triggers.
      Write to CL if you want to but don’t post. We have had enough of cheaters without them posting in our places.

      Who does this??

      • Actually I might stick around a while and wait and watch. Many people here are very good at expressing their feelings in ways I am trying to learn to be comfortable with……

        • It appears to me that you have no problem expressing your “feelings”, particularly when your so-called “expression” comes at the expense of others’ feelings/lives.

          Congrats. You won the “prize.” Leave his ex and kids alone. Good luck to you (sarcasm inserted). Now go away.

          • Hey sara_esque I’m one of the good guys!!!
            I meant that I was going wait for Ian and Ex and nomore to show up and be properly angry which I have trouble being. I’m too polite and civil which actually just masks my fear and vulnerability.
            Good guy!!! Not Maia

              • ???

                I know that feeling! Sometimes I can hardly type I get so crazy.
                I’m feeling quite chill though as just a few weeks ago a post from a cheater would have triggered me big time. Now I feel safe enough here with my ‘tribe’ to not be really bothered. As long as I am standing behind Ian and Dixie and Sure and loved and Ex and nomore and Tempest…..

              • Don’t apologise again!!! I’m a Brit remember? I will have to apologise that you had to apologise!

                Sorry you had a rubbish week. Your posts are always spot on. I like the way you think.

                I’m sorry I made you sorry……??

            • Cap, I stumble over what I’m trying to say when I post. I’ve often wondered after I’ve posted if I’ve made any sense or if I’ve stayed on topic.
              Funny, my Mom being a Brit and growing up in England I’m laughing at the “I’m sorry” reference.
              Recently watched a youtube comedy video on Brits and “I’m Sorry.” I’ll post the link if I’m able to find it.

          • Maia, It is my sincere hope that you are here to understand the damage you have done instead of ways to amplify it. If that is so, you are a rarity.

            Chump Nation is a collective of people who worked their backsides off to build a good life for their families and found themselves kicked to the curb by spouses who decided that what they made to look easy really was. And that they were replaceable as a kitchen appliance. Think long and hard on that. Most chumps were young and strong and fetching before dealing with a cheater. After, most were beaten beyond their own recognition by the experience of being betrayed. So please do watch and read and understand that if you have chosen to deal with a cheater, you have compromised yourself badly. How to fix that afterwards is a hard task. I can’t offer you a road to forgiveness. How can you give back what you have taken? Years of a chump’s life rendered to ashes. Children harmed. Financial security forfeited. Health compromised. If you are sincere, you should give those things some thought.

            To be asking your questions so soon suggests regret. Maybe you should explain why you had no regret until now?

    • You’re a troll, right?

      If you’re not, and you just want a public flogging, you’ve come to the right place. Submit this post to Chump Lady directly at this page: https://www.chumplady.com/ask-chump-lady/

      You will probably be chastised endlessly. You’re still with him, so woe be to you if you decide to open yourself up to having victims tear into you. I’d say get divorced, get therapy, and get lost.

    • How could you LOVE someone who would hurt his family with no regard? Just super curious. I wonder if you’re in love with what you think he is or could be.

      You can’t fix what you did. It’s done. You broke it, invited by the man you think you love. It’s broken. The ex wife will hopefully help herself. Don’t torture her with your empty words. She should want nothing to do with you, because you are toxic. I mean, really, what can you possibly say blah blah blah that will help her? The fact that you think words would help says a lot about your frame of mind. You said he had a family–did you hurt some kids, too? That’s a real shame. Not sure if that makes sense to you but it is a major regret of the woman who raised them, that their father didn’t care enough about them to not act like a coward and hurt their mother and act dishonorably and be a horrible example and upset their lives. And he is a coward. That’s why I asked if you’re sure you love him. You say you love a coward. I don’t get it. I thought I loved a coward, too, but this site and his own actions helped me recognize him for who he IS, not what I hoped he could be.

      Yeah, so, anyway. It sucks. You did a very bad thing and it can’t be undone. The wife you displaced is now free of a coward for a husband, so we here (I think I can speak for our tribe) hope she will be better soon and recognize it, too.

      I would wish you good luck but I don’t. I wish for greater insight for you, but I don’t know if people like you have the ability.

      • I’m most disgusted by your condescension, by the way. I think you really are clueless, and yet you think you’re superior to her–she’s kind of pathetic, all hurt and stuff, whereas YOU, you WON, which makes you superior. *tch!* Aww, you want to HELP her.

        Gross.

        Really.

        • Thank you for your honest reply. I don’t think I won by any means. I do not think I am superior – she has reached out to me six years later asking for the whole truth and I just didn’t/don’t know what to do. I am in the wrong place though obviously. Always the idiot! Hope you have a great day.

          • Maia–she asked you for the full truth? You want to have some penance for what you did? TELL HER THE WHOLE TRUTH. Everything; she asked, she wants to know. You have NO idea how destablizing it is not to know how long your marriage was a lie, what was said about you behind your back, the level of intimacy between your spouse and an affair partner.

            Want to make amends? Tell the ex-wife everything she wants to know. Your purpose in coming here will be served if you do so; I myself would give tens of thousands of dollars to know the whole truth. It would allow me to get past the infidelity in a way that the continued lies do not.

            I’m not going to pillory you or question your level of remorse. On all that is sacred, I am begging you to be honest with the ex-wife, even on torrid details (if she asks). A warning–it may affect your marriage as I cannot imagine your current H will be pleased with your actions. But if you are truly remorseful, you will risk this. Peace.

            • Yes, I agree with Tempest, now that I understand that SHE reached out to YOU. Tell her everything, then send her here.

              Be prepared for your husband (I hate that you get to call him that) to be very angry with you, because it’s ok for him to betray her, but not ok for you to betray him. Bet on it. He prefers the imbalance of power, “I know something you don’t know.”

              I’m not sure you are even obligated to tell him that you told her the truth. I don’t think he deserves to know.

            • Thank you, Tempest. That is exactly what I came here to find perspective on. I thought that answering her questions would just bring everything up again and just hurt all over again. Thank you for your words. This tribe seems like an amazing group of people. And fyi, if you care at all, the OW will ALWAYS be jealous of you. We won nothing. Being the OW is a very miserable and lonely life, no matter what it looks like on the outside. You were with him through the best times and we just get the leftovers (not that we deserve anything better), who tend to be quick to anger, miserable, depressed people. No matter what he tells us, deep down we know that at one point he was so in love with you that he married you (and more than likely had kids with you) and that kills us. Most of the men want their old lives back anyway and we know it, hence the constant insecurity. I wish you all peace, and I wish I didn’t have to ask these questions. I was a garbage person, just trying to not be a garbage person anymore. I can only go up from here. Happy holidays to all of you

              • Really glad to hear that Maia. Not as good as the whore dropping dead and her face being eaten by her 20 cats, but still helps.

    • You can’t fix it. You are a garbage person and you should feel bad. I am always shocked by people are really awful, but don’t seem to feel bad about it. You took what you wanted without regards to the consequences and now you don’t want to feel bad. Are fucking kidding me. You have to live with the consequence that a fair segment people, should they find out your story are going to think you are a horrible person. Because you are. So like when you are a horrible person and people find out about it, they don’t like you. I don’t give my Ex’s whore any particular time or consideration. What happened had nothing to do with her… in as much she was just the hole that he decided to stick his limp dick in… she has nothing to do with me. But I still think she’s a horrible person and I would tell anyone I could what a piece of shit she is.

      So yeah that’s who you are. Sorry not sorry… hope he cheats on you, gives you an STD and decimates you financially. Good luck!

      • All of our friends and family already know what happened. He confessed to her after the first time we did anything, therefore everyone found out very early on. That’s the thing though, it has been 6 years and nobody hates me for it. They have all moved on and are very accepting. Only I do. I appreciate your response, have a nice day.

        • Maia – Guilt is a big part of adultery if you are a fairly stable person who doesn’t think they’d get caught and didn’t think through their stupid decisions.
          Then the consequences start arriving after disclosure and everyone’s world is turned completely upside down.
          The wife and kids the most.

          I also agree with Tempest that if the X-wife wants to learn things from you, that would be a good way to make one amend to aleve your guilt.
          However, she is pain shopping and perhaps doesn’t need the ‘whole’ truth.
          Some of us do. I personally don’t. But, it’s your decision whether you want her to tell you he tied you up, spanked you and poked you with voodoo pins, for all I know. Things people do with their whores, never their wives.

          And you mention, nobody hates you?
          Well, you live in a town of masks, my dear.
          Everybody that knows basically has no respect for you through their smiles.
          I think you’ve felt the same way towards a skank out there that you know cheats on their spouses as a way of life.
          And, I’m sure you’d never become black-balled like ‘those’.

          I’ll say you had guts coming to this site for advice.
          But, C/L would have had an excellent voice to it, as well.

            • Love that site description … First thing my cheater said to his kids was ‘you have to live your life without regrets’ and linked to a lame list of bucket list type must dos… Yeah thanks dad at least you don’t regret fucking us over and putting us through hell in your year of finding your happy place ! #onedayyou’llunderstand

      • Kiwi, her and him dropping dead and devoured by cats would be even better, brings a smile to my face which is saying something. Not an easy thing to do when I think of him.

    • Homemade bittersweet hot fudge sauce … fast and not too sweet! In a small sauce pan heat and constantly stir 3/4 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup sugar, pinch salt and 10 ounces dark chocolate chips until fully melted and smooth. Approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 1 Tbsp vanilla and 1 Tbsp butter until butter melted and incorporated. Let cool but serve warm over vanilla ice cream with pecans. Makes full mason jar … Yum!!

  • For the OW Maia, you leave the ex wife alone.

    You need to remember that what you did with your now husband, a cheating married dude, he will do to you. You are not special. Your relationship is not unique. You were an easy lay and so was he. Two cheaters cheating now married based on a relationship of deceit. Yup. You won your prize. Good luck.

    • The OM or OW should have some formal introduction or third party qualification that the LBS is ‘on the same page’: ie this is not a gaslighting ‘the marriage has been over for years…we live seperate lives…blah blah BS … If he/she’s lying at that point you know who you’re dealing with #iugaveuanstdbutillstaywithu
      Probably not a suscinct # but bitter experience !!

  • Hi Maia
    This line stands out to me “That’s the thing though, it has been 6 years and nobody hates me for it. They have all moved on and are very accepting. ”
    Really?
    Because no one is throwing rocks at you that doesnt mean they dont think you are a revolting excuse for a human being. Lots of people tolerate the Swap A Spouse because its socially easier. You can never un-ring the bell of being so morally bankrupt to fuck a married man, blow up his marriage and hurt people. There isnt a justification for that. Ever. You could remodel your life to be Mother Theresa from today onwards, but those actions happened and people will remember them.
    I think you like the drama of being the poor tortured soul. Enjoy it. Especially when your darling finds the new Swap A Spouse who he loves like crazy so its all ok. And I bet his friends will move on and be very accepting to her too.

  • Nobody is “accepting” in the real sense. Most people simply do not care. They are busy with their own lives and crisis.
    It is not “we like and accept you”, its more ” you seem to be here at the moment, and who needs to cause a fuss”?
    Really, its even worse than you think. You are simply not worth any effort. There will be zero respect for you out there, believe me.
    When hubby tires of you, which he will as his coping mechanisms for anything wrong in his life is obviously to hook up with another woman, the new ” love” will be absorbed into his social circle just as easily. Do not kid yourself.
    The only way you can start over , is to divorce that loser, move away, and begin a new life. Hopefully with a new set of morals.
    I think you are frightened because deep down you know that, and you are just waiting for the axe to fall.
    You think if you reach out to the EX wife, that somehow makes your behaviour more acceptable. It won’t.
    Men like your husband do not change. He loves you no more than his ex, because cheats do not have deep feelings once lust wears off. He is probably already cheating now if you are 6 years in.
    It does not sound as if you are very happy. Don’t wait for him, if you really want to change as a person, get away from him.

  • Want to make it better? Tell your husband to spend all his time and money on the children he rejected , young or old. Maybe he will gain back 1% of the respect he lost.

  • >