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Dear Chump Lady, My husband says the children should not be told of his affair

honeylieHi Chump Lady,

I am in the midst of the hurt, pain, and sorrow of my husband having had an affair (with his secretary 12 years his junior and she has 3 kids of her own). I found out about the affair when I read a few emails that strongly hinted at something going on between them. I confronted him. He denied it, then he had to confess because I caught him in a direct lie. At that time (5 months ago) we chose to work on our marriage (because he said he loved me and was very sorry for what he did) and we agreed to go to counseling. During the counseling he continued to lie and have contact with this woman who he eventually slept with again and came home directly afterward and confessed to me.

Needless to say I had no choice but to ask him to leave. We have 2 kids — our son just turned 15 last week and our daughter will be 17 in 2 weeks. We are separated and will divorce eventually. We have not sat down with the kids yet to tell them we are officially splitting up and divorcing ( I think they realize it but we need to tell them). He is seeing this woman and has met her children. I have spent a lot of time trying to figure out what the kids need to know and what they should be told. They have each directly asked me what happened. I have told them that what is going on is not something I want or something I expected, but if hey want to know specifically what happened they need to ask their dad. Neither of them have asked their dad.

My husband (or ex I guess) feels the children should NOT be told about his affair and he does not want to tell them he is involved with this woman right now.

So I do not know what to do. I feel that my kids should be told the basic truth of why we are divorcing — the problem is my husband denies that the affair and his relationship is the reason for our divorce. He tells me his infidelity was the result of a broken relationship. He has informed me he was unhappy for 10 years. The only problem is he failed to ever tell me about his unhappiness. Yes we had issues and problems I don’t for a second deny that we were struggling — but I had no idea he was unhappy. I have many health issues that out a significant strain on our relationship. But his having an affair and his relationship is what ended our marriage very abruptly and shockingly.

I love my kids more than anything in the world. He has been a good father to them and I know he is an important person in their life. I do not want to hurt my kids but I also feel that they deserve the truth so we can start to rebuild form the pain and hurt. My concern is if we don’t tell them and they learn of it some other way (they are teenagers and they are not stupid) they will be more angry from not being told — and worst of all I do NOT ever want them to think would lie to them.

My husband and I (ex) are going to go to a counselor to help us try to get on the same page about what to tell the kids……I sure as hell hope we can get there because it is eating me up right now. I have tried very hard to separate my hurt and pain from the reason I want my kids to know — and that is a challenging task. But I do believe my desire to tell the kids is because I believe in truth and honesty — they are 2 very important morals I hold dear to my heart. I also believe this is a good opportunity for my husband (ex) to face the hurt and pain — be honest — and teach the kids the value of honesty and facing your mistakes and problems.

I would appreciate your input.


Sam I am

Dear Sam,

Why do YOU think you are divorcing? Simple question. From your letter, I understand that your husband cheated with his secretary (points for originality there…), was discovered, was sorry, you tried to reconcile, and he continued to fuck his secretary.

Which, from your point of view, seemed to force your hand into a divorce you did not want. But then again, you didn’t want your husband fucking his secretary.

I suppose from your husband’s point-of-view, he confessed that he was fucking his secretary, he TOLD you he was sorry, and he is shocked at your decision to divorce him. Which is baffling when you consider his ten straight years of self-reported unhappiness. “Needless to say I had no choice but to ask him to leave.” I mean, you just handed him the key to release him from this cage!

From where I sit, it looks like you’re divorcing because you wouldn’t let him eat cake — i.e., have you and the secretary. Let him fuck around with impunity and suffer zero consequences. Let you wonder if you’ll be left, or if you can pick me dance him back in perpetuity.

You rejected that crap, Sam.

My husband (or ex I guess) feels the children should NOT be told about his affair and he does not want to tell them he is involved with this woman right now.

Who cares what your husband feels, Sam? He feels, he wants… NOT YOUR PROBLEM. When you divorce, you get to keep the truth. He can keep whatever it is he tells himself that lets him sleep at night.

Do you really think this man gives one shit about his children? That he’s not telling because of their welfare? Really? How’s that square with fucking the secretary, and meeting her new family replacement children kids?

No, Sam. He cares about impression management. And everyone maintaining the facade of his Goodness. Good people do good things. Fucking your secretary when married to the mother of your children? Not a good thing. Abandoning a faithful wife with health problems? Not a good thing. Promising to commit to your marriage and healing it, while fucking your secretary? Not a good thing. You want to make those choices and get that cage-free new life? Fine. Then you accept the consequences of those decisions. He needs to OWN his choices.

You don’t have to own them for him, or make excuses, or speak in euphemisms. You’ve got two teenagers. They aren’t stupid. Teenagers can sniff out hypocrisy at 20 paces. Tell them. As I’ve said on this blog a bazillion times, it’s not okay to gaslight children (“I have no idea why we’re divorcing!” “We grew apart!” “Love is a nebulous vapor that evaporates sometimes!”) even with the best of intentions — sparing them further hurt. Lying to them HURTS THEM TOO.

The caveat to this advice is do NOT editorialize (“Dad is a man-whore”) and do not slop your grief on to them, they have enough of their own. Face this adversity head on, be the sane parent, and assuage their concerns about how this break up will effect THEIR lives. Because Dad sure as hell isn’t doing that.

Talk to a shrink about this? There is no common core standard advice on this. Depends on your shrink. Some say tell, some say don’t tell. My feeling is that unless you have personally gone through this misery? Shut the fuck up. If you haven’t lived it, if you’ve never spent one miserable minute trying to keep a colossal secret from your children and Kept Up Appearances? Shut the fuck up.

All I can tell you from reading tens of thousands of stories on this blog, and getting letters from adult children still upset they weren’t told, and reading all the mightiness from sane parents? And the resilience of children who were allowed to form their own opinions and relationships with the cheating parents? Honesty is the best policy.

I also believe this is a good opportunity for my husband (ex) to face the hurt and pain — be honest — and teach the kids the value of honesty and facing your mistakes and problems.


Have you met your husband? Seriously, you’re going to Wait for Him to Do the Right Thing? How’s that working out for you?

Please stop chasing unicorns, and predicating your behavior on what the cheater wants or feels or Should Do. You’re in charge, Sam. Speak your truth.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Bravo Chump Lady, bravo! You have written some excellent responses over the years but this one just spoke to me. Heed the wise words Sam and peace be with you during this painful time in your life.

    • You want to know what makes me as f’ed up as the divorce? It is the constant battle and struggle to know what I should and should’t say to the ex, my daughter, his family, friends and public etc.
      The stories are similar of how he came home out of the blue and said he was not happy..hadn’t been for a couple of years. Found out, after he moved out, he was having an affair. He denies it too. He said they hooked up after he asked for divorce. BS!
      My counselor, lawyer, family etc tell me I am not the one to tell my daughter he is a cheater or I will be the one she will resent. All of the lies he told her while hiding his affair during the 8 months going through the divorce process are still my secrets. I want to expose him for everything he is. But, I have been told it will come back to bite me. So, when my daughter asked, if “the OW” was the reason for the divorce?”, I told her she would have to ask her father. However, I have learned she did find out the truth on her own.
      I only told my family of the affair during the 8 month divorce process. My shitty lawyer led me to believe we could leverage it. So, I kept it quiet. (wasted thousands of dollars doing so)! I HATE LAWYERS BY THE WAY! Once it finally came out in mediation, there was no leveraging… in a no fault fucking state!
      NOW, I tell everyone he is an adulterer, whose mistress just moved in with him 3 months post divorce.
      I also told no one about the first affair he had when I was 6 months pregnant. (13 yrs ago) That is NO longer a secret either! You can only keep honoring someone who is honorable!
      His family doesn’t even know about the first affair he had years ago and they believe him when he told them this was not an affair! I am in agony wanting to tell them about the first affair their beloved son/brother . I want to expose all of the lies he told to me, his daughter and them over the last few months. I was told they will all just resent me. So, I sit in silence and agony!

      We are told not to give any kind of reaction to the public bc we look bad, bitter or weak. Don’t tell your kids or they will resent you. The church tells you to only speak in kind or don’t speak! Everyone is sick of hearing about your pain and hurt he has caused.
      He wanted the divorce and walked out, He gets to have a lover, who is pretty.(She has no kids, so no baggage there). HE gets to keep a relationship with our daughter, HE gets the business and the financial stability, HE keeps the lifestyle i had a shitty lawyer and/ or the court system is f’ed up, HE has most of the friends, HE and the mistress both have families here (I don’t). He will likely be married in one year, no doubt! I can’t move out of state bc of our daughter. So there is no getting away from any of the stuff listed above! There should be billboards for liars and cheaters. But, no we just take it! I can’t take it!

      Someone out there, tell me where the freaking justice is?
      The shit sandwich is a freaking Big Mac!

      • Cheaters1, you know THE truth, not the one he wants you to know. I would be as honest as possible with those who care about you. You don’t have to sugarcoat shit.

        And let’s face it, he is shit.

        • How did, do you feel knowing you knew something but not sure what it was, then finding out and was furious about it? That’s the way your teenage kids will feel towards the both of you.

          Explain to them honestly and fairly that their father became involve w another women, made the choice and that choice was to leave the 3 of you for her.

          He is the one that is going g to have to look at his kids everyday from now on out, and that’s what he does not want to do.

          Once you owe someone else’s issues, they become yours. You don’t need to carry around his lies. They aren’t very becoming.


          • ^^^Yes!
            If the truth is ugly, that’s his problem.
            Withholding the truth is also lying.
            The truth will set you and them free. Tell them the truth because you love them — not to spite him
            It’s what he did and is doing that hurt the family NOT them being told the truth.
            Please check out Divorce Minister’s blog. He has some good insight & support as well!

      • I told anyone that would listen including my church family. There’s a little thing that talks about expelling the immoral brother. A known practicing adulterer would not be allowed to hold any office or parade his ho around in church.
        As far as telling his family and friends, I told them too. They were shocked, his reputation tarnished but they are still his family.
        The children I told but they were not surprised because he was absent and crappy to them as well. It helped them to fill in the voids and now he has to develop a relationship with adult children.
        No way will I keep his dirty little secret. I am known pretty much for telling it like it is. Some of his siblings including his mom wanted me to keep quiet. But the old heads in his extended family, particularly the women were not pleased and there were consequences initially.
        Why are you helping him?

      • I told everyone and anyone that would listen, friends, neighbors, dentists, store clerks, banks, town leaders, family… he sold the house he was trying to steal before the divorce and moved to another city!?????????????????

      • Hi there cheaters1. I know how you feel. He gets a cloak of respectability, you get to be considered bitter and angry.

        Here’s an electronic billboard to put him and his AP on.

        When I am feeling frustrated by all the things in your post AND the fact that in my position, I have to keep it to myself (for now), I like to look at the pics of the smug and simpering cheaters and laugh at them.

        • Haha! I was just browsing through the latest cheaters posted and there was one reported by a teenager warning people about a woman who has been trying to break up his parents’ 20 year marriage!

          • Kids know. I knew all about my cheater narcissist mom cheating on my chump dad and so did all my younger siblings.

  • Kids desere the truth from someone and they know they wont get it from him. If you don’t tell them the truth, they will feel like they cant trust you either and that is a terrible place for them to be. You are in danger of leading your kids to believe that you took the intactness of their family lightly and gave it up for NO reason – you have a really GOOD reason, without too much ax-grinding, please tell them.

    I was, as you can see, a long term Unicorn…I was sure we could “save” our marriage…what I didnt know is that there was nothing to save and I was in it alone. I chose not to tell and when he died suddenly and I learned horrible things of his secret life, I had no ground to stand on with the kids on this topic, since I had not told them initially.

    My older sons (now 28 & 25) were eventually told but my 20 yr old daughter still doesnt know and she makes snarky comments to me about how I took his photo down and replaced him after his death, so has no idea what I went through with her late father…I wish now I had told the kids something age-appropriate at the time.

    • Dear daughter, here is a gentle version of the truth. I waited to tell you because I know you had a very different and important relationship with your father than I did. Your memories of him can still be all those things, but I think you are old enough to understand he was also this other type of person. Such people exist in the world. Watch out for them. Love, mom

      • So perfect, Dixie Chump. Someone needs to tell my stepkids this, who have never been told the whole truth why their parents broke up. All they hear are whispers and half truths, which is *not* the way to go through life.

    • “I was, as you can see, a long term Unicorn…I was sure we could “save” our marriage…what I didnt know is that there was nothing to save and I was in it alone.” This is exactly what I experienced in 35+ year relationship… Call me a slow learner.
      I made Gaslighter tell my 17 and 26 year old sons the minute I learned about Schmoopie. Gaslighter wanted Cake. I had kicked their father out when he came home one time at three in the morning. He worked his way back into my life and we were in “wreckonciliation” when I found out about this Schmoopie. My kids were so happy that I had finally taken Dad back and that we were happy and together again, so that this was a very low blow. Of course their dad minimized everything- “I haven’t treated your mother very well”, and “it it only been going on a few weeks”. Ha ha. I discovered it already been going on over a year which means Schmoopie was in the picture well before Wreckonciliation started. I slopped my grief all over my kids, I’ve said and did all the wrong things in my grief while telling them the truth. Gaslighter was trying to rewrite history of course. It pains me when they spend time with their father and Schmoopie, but it sounds like their relationship with their Dad is very superficial. Somehow my kids can be mad at me sometimes, but I think it’s because I am the safe. They know they have me. I feel conflicted because I want them to see there father for what he is, and not play along with him while he pretends to be a good guy and destroyed our lives. He has proven to be a con man, a pathological liar and serial cheater. They know he has proven to be a serial cheater and that we are in a lawsuit because of unscrupulous business dealings. I don’t think they deserve to pretend that they were “unhappy” for 10 years without ever happening to mention it or get off scott free with their children thinking mom and dad just “grew apart”. Children deserve the truth and I admire those who are able to keep it short and sweet. I sometimes feel like the Bad guy because I don’t sugarcoat what is happening.

  • Thankfully, my child was grown and I was able to explain what was going on and why we were splitting. Also, she saw evidence herself, and Manwhore lied to her face, then introduced his whore barely a week after I left. All of that was bad enough, but coming at a time when I was fighting for my life….Yeah…. He’s pissed that he can’t control the narrative but unfortunately, he’s dealing with not one, but two strong women now. She believes 0% of his BS. He blames me, but he doesn’t realize she is an adult who saw it for herself. You can lie to a child and pull the wool over their eyes. Not so much with an adult. That is one fortunate thing here, in a sad way. I didn’t have to break her heart by divorcing her dad – he did. That makes two of us.

  • Just tell them simply and blandly. Get a time when you are fairly rested, calm and not emotional or hungry or in any way out of sorts and then just say ”I know this has been really upsetting and confusing. The reason your dad and I are divorcing is because he is having an affair and is unwilling to end it and I am not willing to be cheated on because that’s not what we promised to each other. It’s a deal-breaker for me.” This is truthful, it gets the point across in a straight, non-melodramatic way (don’t be shrill!) and it underscores that in life, there are boundaries and deal-breakers. This is a very valuable lesson to take in for anyone, that just doing as you please and expecting a consequence-free life is unrealistic.

    Your husband cheated because he felt entitled to and lacked the moral character to be honest, to do the right thing and be fair to the person he swore up and down on a legally binding contract, to place above all others. You may well have faults, we all do. You did not break your end of the deal. He did. The end.

      • I love everything said above. This is the truth, the counselors have not lived a moment in this hell. The offender only cares about himself and his kids are the least of his concern. He will tell you otherwise. My ex was what I thought a good father but as soon as I kicked his butt out my kids took a backseat in fact, he turned on them
        My ex was a repeat offender. I was not going to lie to my children and tell them we are divorcing because dad doesn’t like the way mom squeezes the toothpaste. He was great at being Mr good guy so no one ever knew he lived a double life, except the me they know as prior nothing was said to them. I made him sit down with them and tell them the truth. I was sick of lying and covering for him for so many years. When I made choice to have him do this it was freeing! Years later he had yelled at me saying that it wasn’t necessary to tell the kids. I reminded him that it was the truth and the rest of the family chooses to not lie. The moment after he left my daughter looked at me and said you need to divorce him as he has done this to you before. Kids are smart as we never told them about his past infidelities. I will never ever live another lie for another human.

    • I second that this is excellent advice. Staying calm, cool and collected is the way to present the truth to your children. Your STBX doesn’t want them to know because he knows they won’t like it and he’ll suffer the blow back. Well screw him. As to his “I haven’t been happy for 10 years” (also not original) nonsense, just ask why he didn’t do you both a favor and leave back then, it’s a rhetorical question as he will never tell the truth. In fact NEVER expect a truthful answer from these defects.

      • I cornered mine, until he reduced the gap to the age of our son: 2 years.
        I asked him simple questions: why did you marry me, why did you buy a house with me, why did you make a kid with me if you were so unhappy?
        I doubt cheaters will ever come to anything closer than that. I knew while asking him, that I won’t get a truthful answer.

  • Sam, the family therapist we saw said we should tell the kids in age-appropriate terms, right away. This was about two months after we had told them that we are divorcing for reasons that don’t have anything to do with them — “things that happen between adults.” Of course, that was my ex’s formulation.
    I wanted to tell them without editorializing, but he said we should wait. And waited we did.
    So the kids got to see a very angry mom who is all of a sudden doing a lot more self-care than they were used to, and no longer picks up the pieces after their dad and no longer plays both sides of the net.
    And guess what conclusion kids draw from such behavior, in the absence of more information? Yes, the older one told his dad that he understands why he’s divorcing me because I have clearly become “selfish.”
    Did my ex correct the kid? No.
    Did he come to the family therapist with this story as if it justified everything he had done to me for two decades? You bet your ass he did.
    So the therapist told him it’s his duty to correct the kid and tell both kids that he was unfaithful, so that the kids doesn’t blame me for the divorce.
    My ex told one kid. He hasn’t told the other one to this day.
    I did.
    So, this is a long way to go to say: Tell them. Plainly, clearly, without editorializing, and without emotion.
    They will feel enough on their own without us interfering with them.

    • This is such an important point — what happens in that truth vacuum — the cheater narrative fills in. And don’t think they don’t know that.

      While the chump is staying quiet out of a sense of fair play and not Hurting the Children, the cheater is doing a subtle (or not so subtle) game of character assassination.

      • Even when the chump broadcasts the truth far & wide, the cheater fills any remaining narrative with character assassination of the chump, or “there were marital problems” excuses.

        Cheaters can be charming, slippery, and convincing little buggers. Fill the entire narrative yourself.

        • Yep I broadcasted the truth far and wide and while I have learned that many others are on to his character, I think there are many people who don’t suspect how easily they are fooled by Pathologicals. These ClusterB’s are masters at social hiding and the Chump can often look like the crazy one because of the horrific, often covert damage and abuse they have endured. I did not realized I had been manipulated and covertly abused by a Psychopath my entire marriage until I was two years out.

          • It takes awareness to smell them. But I think it’s not our job to convince anyone. Just tell the truth and let it be. Life/karma has it’s own way of settling the score.

          • Same here. Married 16 years and did not realize the extent of abuse until 2 years out; when the fog started to clear up. The first bit of separation is all about surviving. Things always seem clearer from 50,000 feet away.

            However, we must give ourselves a break. Chumps don’t have any frame of reference and have difficulty fathoming peole can really be that evil.

      • Chump Lady

        I had read in previous threads that the cheater narrative would fill in, at the family level and in the community. What wonderful and powerful advice that was, to use my truth (the truth). I can’t thank you enough. Even now, three years later, my x is on the fringes of events.

        My children were told in appropriate manners even though I was extraordinarily distraught. I have been careful not to bad mouth. His actions, true to cheaters, have only continued to provide evidence that he is not really interested in them as people, but rather accoutrements.

      • This was one of the things that tore me apart the most during “the end of my life as I knew it.” My daughters were in high school and were aware there was a serious problem in our family, but my partner told me that the fact that she was using again (after being in recovery) and having an affair was “private” and I had no right to tell them those things. She assured me that if I “threw her under the bus” by telling them the truth, she’d counter it, and I’d be sorry. Everything I feared came true — they accused me of lying, “throwing her out,” and being the cause of the divorce because I was “mean and controlling.” I had evidence but didn’t think it was appropriate to share sexually explicit texts and FB conversations making deals. I didn’t give them details about coming home for lunch one day and finding my partner having skype sex with the OW, and I didn’t tell them what kinds of things I found hidden in the storage cabinets in the basement utility room. But I told them she cheated and had a substance abuse problem, and I made every attempt at reconciliation and urged her to get treatment, because my daughters need to know what an unhealthy relationship looks like so they can protect themselves. My therapist agreed and no matter how angry my daughters were with me, I have always known I did the right thing.

    • I was just thinking as I was reading this, the only thing that would be helpful about a counselor determining what to tell the kids is a counselor being present in the room with you and the kids while you tell the kids. I’m not sure how, at this point, with divorce confirmed (and rightly so), a counselor will help you get on the same page.

      Your relationship with your kids is between you and your kids now. He has his own relationship with them. They need an authentic you who they can trust. You need to be that for them.

      He gave away his right to input in your family unit with your kids when he chose his behavior. He didn’t have to lie and sneak to have sex with somebody else. He chose his path. He may not want consequences, but that isn’t how it works. Life isn’t a cartoon. Jump off a cliff, and you fall. You don’t get to change your mind halfway down.

      • I don’t think the psychological community is as well-versed on this issue as ChumpLady. In an ideal world, involving the counselor with telling the children would be perfect, but, frankly, many counselors will advocate NOT telling the children the truth about the infidelity (a huge mistake, IMHO).

        I struggled with this myself at first. The developmental psychology literature emphasizes children of divorce retaining a positive relationship with both parents, reducing animosity between the divorced parents, etc. But the developmental psych research doesn’t contend with blatant dishonesty/betrayal by one parent, nor with co-parenting with the disordered, nor with children being gaslighted. CL is light years ahead of most divorce researchers and counselors, and for exactly the reasons she states:

        -don’t gaslight the children. Remember how most of us felt when things weren’t “right” in our marriage or with our spouse but we had no objective evidence to point to? I remember the panic attacks, the gut feeling that something was wrong, the looming sense that then-husband didn’t really care for me despite outward signs that he was committed to the marriage? It was horrible. Children sense the disconnect between portrayed reality and reality, too, with fewer emotional and cognitive resources to deal with it. They deserve the stability of the truth.

        -Children need one sane, stable, truth-telling parent. How will they feel if BOTH parents are lying to them? They will be more likely to feel destabilized, and to turn to someone (or something) else as a source of comfort.

        Step 1. Chumps need to gain the narrative of truth within their families. Step 2. CN needs to gain the narrative among counselors and developmental psychologists to stop promoting lying and the emotional instability that results from it.

        • Tempest,

          I also advocate that by telling children appropriately we can help give them tools to move forward in their own lives. We can help our children break the cycles of narcissism, BPD, and general familial dysfunction. A big motivator for me was that I do not want my children to repeat the dysfunctional relationship they witnessed.

  • Princess Di said it best – “Three’s a crowd”. That says it in a nutshell – conversation over (marriage too) and allows the listener to fill in the blanks with their own observations.

    Sorry you are a member of the club no one wants to join but know you are with a great group of folks here and keep coming back. Chump Lady and her nations of followers have great advice and can help you climb out of this mess.

    • That’s a great way to phrase it to the media, but it might come across as a little cagey to kids. I’m a big proponent of clear and direct communication about these sorts of things.

      • Yes! My EX NARC Cluster B wrote my a Dear Jane letter about how unhappy the last 12 years of our 36 year marriage had been for him! The Ex claimed there was no girlfriend involved… he wanted me to move out of our expensive home… and he would send me payments! He wanted a 2700 sq ft house ? with 16 acres for himself… stated on the Bible no GF was involved! When I painfully looked at the situation and found his cell phone unlocked the skank mistress popped out! I told my adult sons..and … they didn’t believe me… my eldest asked him face to face.. then warned him if I catch you lying I’m done with you…you’ll never see me again! Guess what 2 years post divorce the sons are alienated from both of us! But I have learned to live with this as painful as it is…. the truth has set me free! My life before was all gaslighting and lies!

        • Why did they alienate themselves from you? Did they ever say why?

          That is why my counselor and family have told me not to say anything bc it would only result in my daughter resenting me.

          This is ALL so messed up! Why do the lying cheaters who walk out on their family come out ahead in everything?!!

          Goes back to the “Grin and bare it” expectation!
          I am beginning to wonder if it matters anymore if you are a decent, honorable, moral person who honors their vows and family. NO one cares! They ALL still rally behind the cheater and the mistress!
          You are just viewed as the angry bitter woman that should just get over it and move on when you keep expressing your emotions.

          • Yes it’s unfair but if you stay in it …….you die a thousand deaths! I rather leave broken, poor, and unloved then dead without a least I have a chance to start over again!

    • I agree…tell them “I didn’t like the fact that he had a girlfriend, who has three kids and is married to someone else”

      My adult stepkids spent 15 years not knowing about their mother’s cheating. She gaslighted them and blamed their chump father for “abandoning” the family. She rewrote history. He was terribly wounded that his kids never wanted to stay with him or even visit, and he couldn’t believe their mother would lie to them. But then, he didn’t believe in badmouthing their mother to them “it’s not thei fault”…

      My response? No, their mother’s cheating was not their fault, but that’s a different poimt from letting them know the facts. When stepdaughter’s husband one day recently made a crack about chump Dad having gone on the singles market…I told them all outright why their Dad moved out and divorced their mother…because she was fucking their tennis coach, in their marital bed, and let it carry on for over a year.

      I noticed the shocked response, they all went quiet at the time, but since then, they have become a lot more respectful toward their Dad and actually come around a lot more to visit. He says he should have told the truth all along, oh, and cheater ex-wife’s BF just left her for another GF. Karma.

    • Excellent response: “Three was a crowd.” I have been struggling to come up with a polite and succinct answer. Thank you

  • Tell them. Affairs start with a thousand little lies. Teach your kids that, while honesty can be hard, it’s so, so important.

    • Yup! My biggest regret is that I stayed with the loser when I first discovered him lying to me about many, many things. Cheating just happened to be the lie that was my deal breaker.

      Had I left 15 years ago, maybe I wouldn’t be so financially fucked now.

      What I know as truth is that my sons value my honesty. They know I am trustworthy and there are consequences to lying to me. Ask my son who no longer can live here. Hardest thing I ever did, but when you lie about your sobriety and the weirdos you choose to let into my house in the middle of the night, you’re out.

      Funny thing is, son respects me more now.

  • My dear children, your father has been having an affair with his secretary. He lied to me until I found proof. We went to counseling to try to stay together but he kept lying and never stopped cheating. You two are old enough to manage your own relationships with him. This has broken my heart so I hope I never have to lay eyes on him again.

    • Absolutely. I like this phrasing. I like the inclusion of the fact that you tried counseling while he tried to continue lying.

      He will continue to lie even after you tell them–he’ll be full of stories of woe and unhappiness. You can’t combat those, so don’t address those issues unless the kids ask, “Mom, did you know Dad was unhappy?” And then you can say, “No, he never told me, so it was never something I had the opportunity to work on or respond to.”

      And, like many here, I can confirm that if you are not open about the infidelity now, you will regret it later. The first narrative, the one where dad was not at fault, will become entrenched in a way that you can never unseat without becoming equally complicit in the lie.

      Some aspects of managing infidelity or a divorce are hard. There are not right answers about what to do. This is NOT one of those aspects. Being truthful to the kids is the right answer.

    • Yep! It says it all.
      My eldest was about to become engaged when Gaslighter blew everything to smithereens. Three years later he says to me “Mom we can’t get married until you and Dad can be in the same room together”. I said please don’t postpone your life because of your father’s and my situation. The ONLY reason I would be in the room with him would be at your wedding. Being around him or having any communication whatsoever is dangerous to me. I am advised by professionals to have absolutely no contact with him. I’m very sorry that this is what it’s come to. I love you.

  • Oh, he might try to get hold of the dialogue and say you were not a supportive, loving etc wife. Tell them they lived in the same house and did they see a bad person. Chances are they are going to say “no” and that is when you tell them even adults try to find excuses for bad behavior and not only are you hurt but you are disappointed in his actions.
    Allow them plenty of time to grieve. It takes adults about two years and kids many more unless they can be totally open about it. If you can’t handle it get them into counseling.

  • Surprisingly, my children were relieved when I finally filed. By that time they were adults. He had cheated repeatedly while they were young and took him to OW’S homes. My oldest daughter met at least 5 OW.

    They are all about image control and what he wants is to maintain his good guy image. Once you tell them and file he will most likely abandon his own children regardless. They deserve the truth as he will distort the truth in order to avoid consequences.

    Right now you need your own theraoist to help you through the discard. Avoiding the truth will give him the power and control he seeks.

    • I had a similar experience in that when the cheating became apparent to me, my kids were now adults. When I told them we were separating because Dad was unfaithful, they both said they had always believed that about him. They had some memories from years ago of him being with other women and taking them along on “dates”, so they could entertain or even babysit the other women’s children. They were totally supportive of my divorcing their Dad. One has maintained a relationship with him, the other hasn’t It is their choice. I must admit that I did some ranting and raving in the early stages of the separation when I fell apart, but now never mention their father and we have settled into a new normal for all of us.

  • I had this issue. My daughter was 13 at the time, and it came up in court after she refused to see my X triggering a long access case. I had carefully explained to her that her father had engaged in an affair, and that I found it unacceptable so ended the relationship. I didn’t go into the hurt etc as that wasn’t for her to deal with- I just gave her the facts. She asked many questions such as ‘how long,’ and I answered them to the best of my knowledge. I was not going to allow my own relationship with my daughter to be jeopardised or the narrative twisted against me. She also needed to know why at times I wasn’t at my best, and that my emotions were not from a simple amicable situation, which is what her father was trying to portray; it would’ve looked like I was crazy. I arranged therapy so she had an independent third party to work through her emotions with.

    My X accused me of child abuse through parental alienation. The (UK) judge concluded that I did not owe a culture of silence to protect the image of my X. Teenagers are very astute, and at a time when she needed honesty, her father was trying to engage a campaign of image control. His need for looking like a Good Guy was not in the best interests of our daughter. My X argued that I had told our daughter purely out of maliciousness, and that I had estranged her from him by telling ‘poisonous lies.’ Thankfully, my daughter had written a statement to the court via her therapist which laid out that I had explained the situation to her but had not injected any emotions other than saying I wasn’t feeling my best. A court psychologist spoke with my daughter and concluded that there had been no ‘poisoning,’ merely a statement of facts which was very important for my daughter to understand the sudden change within her home.

    I admit that I was probably very lucky to have an understanding judge, and this was in the U.K. so might be very different, but it does show that there’s a consensus amongst the psychiatric community that lying to your child to protect One parents image is damaging.

  • Absolutely 100% tell them. My ex was able to lie and smear me to his co-workers and friends. I wasn’t there and able to defend myself and tell the truth. He wanted to control the narrative of the divorce with the kids, too. The night we told them (and I had to make him do it with me), he started out with the bs about us “both wanting the divorce.” I did not at the time. Right away I had to start speaking the truth, because as we all know, cheaters never speak the truth. They live in their own distorted world of lies and half-truths. Why would they start being honest now?

    My ex in the Divorce Letter said something like, “I’ll never say anything bad about you to the kids and you won’t say anything bad about me.” What in the world could he possibly say bad about me to the kids?!! And he said I was the one who was “controlling.” Well, since I’m so controlling, I took control! He didn’t want me saying anything bad about him to the kids. Screw that. He not only pulled the rug out from me, but he did with the kids too. They would have lived in a world of insecurity the rest of their lives thinking that all-of-sudden your mate just leaves you for no good reason when there was no prior signs (I can now see the red flags, but the kids never would have picked up on any of that stuff because I sheltered them from their dads lies and “friends”). I deserved the truth which I know I will never ever get from my ex, but I was able to at least give my children the gift of the truth. The truth didn’t come out the way I had planned, but once it was out, I was happy that I was no longer covering for the cheating liar. Over 20 years of stuff that I spackled over for him came out. It felt good to finally bring the truth into the light. The Cheater didn’t like it, but I didn’t give a shit.

    Just like us, kids deserve to know the truth. I could care less that they look at their dad differently now. That’s not my problem. If he wanted them to think highly of him as they did before D-day, then he should have acted better.

    • Amen. Your story sounds EXACTLY like mine. The weight of not having to explain away his absences and weird behavior and selfishness anymore was like a new breath of fresh air. I won’t ever have a truth, either – his story changes every day, so we no longer have any contact. I am sorry that you were in this situation but so glad that you sound like such a strong person!! Thanks for sharing.

      • Tiffany, I’m sorry you went through this crap too. 🙁 I don’t feel that strong very often, but I can now look back and say, “Martha, you were pretty mighty there!” 🙂

    • Very true… that’s why spackle! Our instincts tell us that if we expose them or don’t give them cake the will blow up our families! After the family blows up they will blame you if you don’t tell the truth right away! If cover for them your part of the problem!

  • Unlike Jack Nicholson once said, your kids can “Handle the truth” they are old enough to process what their dad has done. They need to understand that lying and cheating is wrong, on every level, and your delightful husband will try everything to maintain his image…don’t let him get away with it. Tell them once, tell them the truth and leave it at that, don’t make it an ongoing issue, if they come to you in the future and ask you more then tell them.

    My 3 kids witnessed the whole meltdown with me and their mother when I discovered her affair. I sat them on the couch together literally 5 minutes after I discovered an email that was clear proof that their mother was having a full blown affair, cried and told them their mother has a ‘new boyfriend’. All 4 of us cried together whilst their mother stood there with the most pathetic expression on her face. When my kids asked if we were splitting up I simply said “Yes”.

    I have some regrets that my kids found out amidst the fury I vented at the mother, but I’m also glad they know that she’s a liar and a cheat. 3 years later and my kids still love their mum of course, whether they resent her in any way I’m not sure. My eldest son (15) is certainly old enough to understand what she did, my youngest 2 (9) and (11) will work it out soon enough. Nothing more has been said about it, my kids know the truth and I’m concentrating on continuing to be a role model for my kids and that actions clearly do speak louder than any words or manipulation their mother throws their way.

    • mickeyblue

      Two of my kids found out this way. I found out and just went into that weird shock, numb, rage, grief, vomiting thing and they witnessed it all. I regret that to this day but forgive myself as I had no control at that point. They saw and heard far more than I would want them to but I just have to keep steady now. My eldest found out by text and FaceTime which also wasn’t ideal but he was away for three months and had noticed stuff.
      So all of mine went through the rawest of trauma.
      Interestingly though my STBXH was calm and focused but not enough to make sure the kids were safe or out of earshot or sight. The one who still had control didn’t use it to protect the kids but just stood there trying to lie his way out.
      So the kids know exactly who he is. And they have told me to stop apologising for marrying him and for not stopping them hearing and seeing all that they did.
      All I can do is monitor them as we go forward.

      • I’d like to be able to get into my kids heads to see what they really think of their mother. She’s a master of manipulation and spinning things, from the outside it looks as though she has a good relationship with them, but I guess kids love unconditionally and time will tell.

        She always just said she had a “Bossy” personality, I used to think she was a “Bully” but telling her that seemed ridiculous and I knew she would snap back with a “Don’t be so ridiculous” comment, but that is what she is and emotional, manipulative bully and my kids aren’t equipped with the mental capacity to see through it all, heck I’m 47 and I’m only just beginning to see it for what it really was.

        I’m sure your kids will be alright, they’ve got you for a mum.

        • I appreciate that comment!
          I have another perspective as the child of divorce when it wasn’t done to talk about these things openly. My parents divorced in 1976. My dad was working as far as I knew but then the police came to our house looking for this woman we had never heard of (I was almost 10). Things had been bad for a while between my parents. Lots of shouting and slamming doors. No one ever spoke to me or my brother about it at all. No one acknowledged anything was going on. Surreal. My brother and I would go sit outside our house while they raged inside.
          Anyway. Turns out my dad had gone to work in Germany and had gone with his OW who had abandoned her family too. That was it he was gone. Didn’t see or speak to him for 2-3 years.
          No one sat us down and told us anything. I can’t even believe it myself but we heard the word divorce and I guess I kind of knew what it meant.
          Anyway. I worshipped my dad at that point. My mom was a psychopath with no empathy, cold rages and I looked like my dad. So I idolised him. Didn’t blame my mother. I was just generally afraid of her and tried to please.
          When they came back my dad and OW were married and we played the game of speak badly of whoever you are not with. So OW loved to hear bad stuff about my mom. Mom loved to hear bad stuff about them. We just got screwed by them all.
          Took me a long time to work out who my dad was. Probably 20 years. But I got there.
          Your kids have you. You have a new partner I believe(?) and are sane. Your kids will figure it out sooner and as you can’t help but keep modelling sanity and respectful behaviour they will thrive.
          And as I am learning with mine at some point I just have to accept who they are and they make their own choices.
          I cut off from my family entirely. My brother has relationships with both but is a narc himself.
          Just trust yourself. Your kids are very lucky to have you.

          • Wow, three years on, and the OW was milking you for dirt on your mom? Twisted. Mate poaching makes a person sick inside.

            • @ Dubious

              I would say people who are sick inside mate-poach, and poaching that mate certainly does not help make them well.

            • Dubious
              It’s worse than that. Both my mom
              And the OWife loved hearing bad stuff about each other and quietly but surely bad mouthed each other right up until the point I cut contact with them all.
              Funny thing though. My dad, the great sparkly narc has never badmouthed anyone but politicians. He acts appallingly (he is a serial cheat) but never speaks badly of anyone. Then again he doesn’t have to, the women were doing that all for him.

          • Wow! quite a story Capricorn. Your mum was a psychopath and your dad was a narc! How the hell didn’t they murder each other?

            My life was pretty typical, mum and dad, two siblings, happy memories and neither of my parents have any kind of disorder…It’s interesting to hear people’s stories of what it was like coming from a family that their parents have divorced.

            My mum bless her said she was proud of the way I’ve handled the whole situation with my ex, I simply replied “Its because I was brought up well”

            • Mickey
              I had a lovely grandma, fantastic teachers, and just one or two people every year who have significantly helped me in some way.
              I was also lucky in that I seem to have a happy gene, a general trust for people and a cheerful nature. Not to mention some solid intrinsic values and a stubborn streak a mile wide lol.

        • For years, I blamed my dad for the chaos in our home because my mother was big on recruiting us to hate him. Then I figured out my mother was a narcissist and he was an alcohol abuser. I think both cheated. It took a long time but I eventually figured out what was really going on.

      • Capricorn,

        That is remarkable like mine went. And like you, my kids have told me that they are okay with the knowledge. They also learned that it’s ok to express emotions. When you are hurt you hurt. You dust yourself off and move forward. Life get’s better. As a therapist, the only way out is to walk through. I’m almost two years out and their father continues to prove that he is selfish and uninterested in their lives. Meanwhile, we have become a very fun family of three at our house.

    • Yes ….I agree with the way you handled this! Sometimes the cheater can hide the affair partner and later introduce them to your kids as a post divorce boy or girlfriend! Pure evil….!

  • Tell your children what you want to tell them. He ain’t running a thing but his mouth.

    Not much else to say really.

  • Long time reader, first time poster. Please tell them. I’m speaking as a child of a cheater. I really did appreciate knowing the truth and it did help me. I knew that there was something going on with my dad. As a result of watching my mother be destroyed by taking him back multiple times, I made iron clad boundaries of what I would and would not tolerate in a relationship. Cheating and other forms of abuse are not acceptable. As Chump Lady stated, he doesn’t want to tell them because he is trying to drive the narrative and not look like the morally bankrupt piece of garbage that he is. He is only trying to protect himself and the OW. After all, the future introduction might be a bit awkward if your kids knew that they were involved prior to your separation. Tell the truth and trust that he sucks. I could go on and on… but I will stop. Give your kids the gift of the truth. Please.

      • Thank you! I really wish that Chump Lady was around all those years ago for my mom. So glad that it is here now.

    • And of course, sometimes kids blame themselves or think it’s their job to “fix the marriage.” On top of the shit sandwiches of infidelity, divorce and AP’s who get “dream houses,” no one needs codependent kids who needed to hear the truth, told in a factual manner, with reassurances that they didn’t cause it and they can’t fix it. And neither can you.

    • At what age were you?

      I have a 7 year old and a 10 year old and I would love to tell the children the truth bc I think they deserve to know. However, I don’t know what age is appropriate?

  • I have been speaking on this since I started reading here.
    My kids are now 19 & 25, they were 17 & 23 at the final d day…..there were 4 of those. I went to counseling, lost weight, turned it up in bed, spackled my way through all those d days…..never told my kids a thing because we were working on it. Ha!!
    When he asked me for a divorce on 12/31/14 to go be with his affair partner ( which I learned about a week later, at the time he told me he was just unhappy and wasn’t in love with me anymore.) I told my kids. Guess what? They already knew. Kids aren’t stupid and they live in that house too.
    My kids are NC with the ex because after 3 sit downs with him where he wanted to “explain” and he lied instead they just had enough.
    Now they get the text occasionally that he’s miserable without them and I occasionally will get one of his break downs over the kids if we need to speak about something business.
    According to him, I am the reason the kids won’t have anything to do with him…..I shared details of the break up that poisoned the kids against him…..his and his affair partners words.
    Want to hear my words? Fuck that….own your shit.My kids weren’t babies, one was a senior in high school and one was a senior in college.
    More of my words?? If you are truly unhappy just leave, when you are married, it’s wrong to fuck other people.
    It’s like the saying goes- If you wanted to be thought of more fondly, you should of behaved better.

    • Thanks so much for this; struggling with the same.
      I am being blamed for his kids not accepting the OW – they were 15 and 12 at the time he left so they are not stupid.
      Good to know that others have to deal with this too and it is a universal cheater trick 🙂

      • I think there is a fine line here.
        I was very clear about a few things:
        1. I was invested. While the relationship may not have been perfect, I didn’t quit, he did.
        2. When I discovered I was left for another woman I told my kids there was another woman. He sells it as he would of left anyway, he just happened to be dating someone at the time he immediately moved in with.
        I said, ” I’ve discovered there is a current mistress and hes been seeing her for more than two years.”
        If this is “poisoning” than so be it.
        3. I was clear that I felt comfortable that I was an honest and loving partner and he was dishonest for most of our marriage. This made the relationship irretrievably broken. I did fully invest in counseling and every time I tried to fix my marriage I did so with a pure heart, although the infidelity did eat me alive.
        4. While I gathered TONS of unsavory information on him, I didn’t feel it was necessary to share with my kids how many times he had sex with her in the park behind my house, hotels, etc. They knew he was unfaithful and that was enough.
        I don’t know why it’s our job to protect these assholes.

    • Exactly mine stayed 36 years and was planning on taking all those years assets such as the paid off house and Lump sum cash from his retirement so Skank mistress and him could start a new life! If your older and your home is paid off they can buy another house without you knowing and when you divorce your marital home will be used as a divisible asset!! The laws are stacked against the CHUMP!

  • Who is this Melania? No sources–Bad journalism! Chump lady is failing bigly–I’ve heard Numbers way down . SAD! Little Marco, did your tiny fingers type the message by so-called Melania? TRUE AMERICANS WANT TO KNOW! Also, check out the discount rates available at Trump hotel in DC this weekend!!

  • This isn’t just about protecting his image… He’s protecting the OW’s as well because eventually, he might want to present her to your kids as his girlfriend while omitting the fact that their relationship started on your watch.

    So if you keep your mouth shut, what are you supposed to do? Grit your teeth and smile when he inevitably brings her around? Look like you’re bitter and irrational because you can’t accept Dad’s “new” girlfriend? Allow your kids to be fooled into forming a bond with a woman who participated in the destruction of your marriage?

    In my opinion, there is no option here BUT to tell your kids.

  • It makes me sick to my stomach that these assholes want you to “keep it secret” because they don’t want everyone to know what a POS they are! I tried that too at his request. Yep, it was okay for him to keep up his affair as long as I was the only one he and Schmoopie were torturing! I finally told everyone once I’d had enough. He was so pissed! My kids were adults and they unleashed fury on him and his little OW! I’m glad he suffered the consequences of his own actions and the destruction of his sterling “good guy” image. Don’t let him gaslight your kids too! That is so wrong!

  • 15 and 17 is old enough to know the truth. “Your father had an affair with X. We went to counseling but he continued the affair, so now I’m divorcing him. Please understand that this is a difficult time for me and that I don’t want to go into more detail or talk about this further. I still love you very much and I will do my best not to vent or rant about this matter to you.”

    • This is so important. You gotta reassure your kids that you’re not going to badmouth their father. And remember that you’re not telling the kids for revenge, you’re not telling them to relieve yourself, you’re telling them because, as CL so aptly put it, they’re being gaslit, and that’s really unfair to them, and, frankly, emotionally dangerous. They’re trying to make sense of the world.
      And do NOT use them as confidantes, either. That’s what trusted friends are for (in a limited way–eventually they will tire of your pain, so bring it here.) Your kids may want to vent, may have questions–resolve to be factual, without oversharing (they probably won’t want sordid details, anyway.) Reassure them that you will do everything in your power to keep this from adversely affecting them (try not to move them away from friends/schools, keep up as many family traditions as you can, BE there for their needs–and their needs are big at this age.)

      You can do this. Take your power back. His opinion and demands no longer mean anything. YOU get to decide everything about your life and your truth from now on. It’s a little scary at first, but once you get rolling, there’s no stopping you. It’s actually pretty exciting and freeing to not be held down by someone who doesn’t care about you.

      One more thing–he is NOT a good dad, at least not now. He lied to your kids about his free time and where he was going. He was NOT available to them, he did NOT share in their lives when he was off fucking the new woman. He has abandoned them. He is not around for after school chatter, for next-day planning, for inside jokes, to laugh with their friends. That’s real life, and it’s precious. He’s not there for it. YOU are. Cherish it. Trust your kids to know who is the available parent. You don’t have to point this out to them. They will trust YOU, not him. He is NOT a good dad.

      • I admit to having a huge problem with this… oversharing with my kids. D is 27, S is 24. Son discovered email from OW many months before D-Day and Flotsum told him she was someone he’s known for many years through work, a co-worker. Son said nothing to me until six months later when now X announced we were separating. Son asks me is it because of the other woman? What other woman? I check phone and discovery begins. Son offers up OW name – all sorts of treachery I find. Affair going on about two years, much financial abuse. Of course, I had known we were not great, but thought I married a man of integrity. My mistake. All the narc behavior I suspected made sense. He’s an alcoholic, no impulse control, ADD, passive/aggressive, covert narc. I was given a litany of justifications: I didn’t like it when he drank, I didn’t learn his company’s accronyms, I didn’t contribute to the marriage, etc. OW is 20 years younger, was married when they started up, now divorced. She lives out of state so affair was easy with all his “business” travel. She is uneducated, been nowhere, heavy drinker, three kids. His mother was alcoholic so he found his mommy that would drink with him. His wallet was/is wide open so she has found her sugar daddy. I filed right after discovery. He claimed to not want the divorce, and was planning on retiring with me. He said he felt entitled to affair and that I’d never find anyone like him. All the same BS as other stories.
        My grown kids go out of state, on Flotsum’s airmiles, to visit X, whore and her kids in dream house he bought for them. Hopefully he will decide to marry her and really show how fucked up he is. No fool like an old fool who thinks she’s God fearing, a teammate, and knows those accronyms, of course.
        I feel betrayed all over again that my kids accept this shit sandwitch. I am guilty of expecting them to feel my anger at the abuse he doled out to us all. I confide too much in an effort to acquaint kids with his NPD. X is using them for image management. He’s sooo magnanimous to all. Especially the replacement kids and whore. I am seriously considering a distancing of me from my own kids as this does nothing to help me heal. OW works hard to win them over and I have very limited funds to compete. I am seriously distressed when they are under the same roof as whore and evil monster X. Am I justified in putting distance between kids and broken me? I am considering not seeing them for a year or two. So disappointed am I in their lack of integrity that they find no problem in accepting X and fuckbuddy golddigger homewrecker.
        I feel jealous when I read of other adult children who have nothing to do with POS adulterer.
        I feel like telling kids to call me when you have found your integrity and proper morals.
        Hit me with a 2 X 4, please.

        • Liveandlearn, please don’t be so hard on yourself. Your hurt is understandable. Ex is buying your kids but eventually the funds will dry up and so will the good times. It may not happen in 100% of families, but I’ve seen it in several. The kids are actually taking Daddy for what he’s got and don’t give an actual crap about him. I know I would be sad to see my son take advantage of his dad that way, but sometimes your kids inherit or learn traits you’d rather they didn’t have.

          Several posters made points upthread that you may find useful: Ask your kids not to talk about their father and OW. Be honest and tell them that it just hurts too much to know about it. If necessary, dial back on seeing them so much if they can’t honor your request. They may just start missing you and realizing your value once you aren’t there for them to take for granted.


          • Thanks, Blondeness. I just so wish they could see X as the horrible person he really is. And when they are polite to the OW, they tell me they are showing her how well I raised them.
            I did not raise them to have no integrity. I do not want them to be a doormat like I once was.
            This is very difficult for me. I took my vows seriously.

        • Here’s my 2X4:
          1. Your are not competing with your X in terms of money. No–you can’t fly the kids around on your air miles. But these kids are adults. If they treat you as “lesser” because you don’t have a “dream house,” then their values are not what they should be. But if they are just maintaining a relationship with their father, remember how many years he had you fooled. They are his kids; you were an adult partner. So if they are basically sound, it may take them a little while to figure out what he is.
          2. You are not the one to educate the kids about narcissism, etc., in relation to their father. They will learn the long and hard way because he won’t change, and they discard kids and use them for impression management and show zero remorse.
          3. Don’t talk to the kids about their dad. Just don’t. Remember CL’s advice about teenage kids sharing about AP and X–“Cool.” “Bummer.” “Wow.” I also like “pass the potatoes” and “Do you think we will get any snow/rain/thunderstorm. If the kids talk about their trip to see XH and the SecretarialBimbo he took up with, just say, “Cool. Bummer. Wow. Or “I had no idea.” Or “Really.” (do not inflect it as a question, make it filler talk.) and—–“Huh.”
          4. And finally–take your focus off your X and his AP, as completely as you can. Block them on social media so you can’t see what they post.

          Figure out where and when you start on the gerbil wheel of thinking about XH and SecretarialBimbo and design an intervention. The car got me all the time, so I started listening to talk radio or singing loudly to a good music playlist. I also had trouble at night–so I found cable stations like ION and TNT and TBS and HGTV that had stuff that didn’t require a lot of my attention but that would snap me out of “jackass mode.” This work is really important. The betrayal happened. It was a total devastating nightmare bitch of a life event. Now get out of the past and live in this moment, right here. Yoga helps. Meditation helps. Prayer helps. For me, running and exercise helped. Pinterest helped. Find out what works for you, what interests you, and focus on your life. Things will get better. And one day you will be grateful you aren’t living with a liar who has no regard for you or your life.

          • Thanks, LAJA, I think it would help for me to stop the gerbil wheel as it is revving up, indeed. To have to have my children even near the OW who didn’t give two shits about their lives, scares me. I don’t understand why my kids are not worried about being with such evil people. I have to try to refuse to eat this shit sandwich. But, shit sandwich it is. I am grateful for not being married to and sleeping with the enemy I thought was my friend. After a year after the divorce, I am still feeling the effects of PTSD and experiencing anxiety attacks. I see meh in the windshield, but simply am not able to pull over to the exit and get there yet.

          • Loved
            You are just fantastic. Your advice is always just so right and said just the right way.
            I realised after reading this that I still kind of bad mouth their father, not too much and sort of subtle but that I can knock it off and trust that he will be true to form and be under involved with them. Thanks LAJ. I will be a better parent because of you.

        • They damaged from living with him just like you are! I had to go no contact to heal also! My youngest was making excuses for him ” it’s a ma thing… he’s mad you took his money”! Fuck that BS,

  • My exH was very concerned about what the kids would think of him — he said “I don’t want YOU lying to the children. I laughed and said, I have no need to lie, the truth will be sufficient. I told him I would not volunteer details, but if the children, or ANYONE else asked, I would tell the truth. I didn’t stop strangers in the street. I didn’t have a meltdown in front of “our” friends. Many of the “friends” had already guessed, or knew about some of his affairs any way. I tried to carry on my life in a sane manner, I am a private person and I kept most of my sorrow to myself. But here is another issue: How can I be a parent and not tell my children my truth, and how can I not explain boundaries. I think it is perfectly ok to tell children that when someone chooses to marry, they make a vow to love, honor, and remain faithful to their spouse. Lying honors no one. Love is not demonstrated by cheating. Those are important vows, and sometimes they are very hard to keep. So don’t get married for a frivolous reason. Explaining how difficult life can be is part of the package of being a parent. It also lets the children know when they are being lied to. The OW is not some nice woman daddy met AFTER he left mother. I don’t think they should be allowed to set up some big fabricated story where mother becomes the wicked witch that drove them from their happy home. In my case, he was rarely “there” in our happy home, He chose not to participate, he chose to lie, he chose to cheat, He can live with those choices — that is who he is.

    • “The OW is not some nice woman daddy met AFTER he left mother. I don’t think they should be allowed to set up some big fabricated story where mother becomes the wicked witch that drove them from their happy home.”
      Exactly Portia, that’s why the kids should be told the truth. Dad had an affair with Ms X, for whatever length of time Mum knows about (be specific, especially if it went on for a while, it shows how deceitful he was). In spite of this, Mum tried reconciliation, Dad continue fucking Ms X. Mum is divorcing Dad because she was lied to and her dedication to the marriage and the family was abused. Mum doesn’t not have to put up with lies and STDs. Lesson for the kids: lies and STDs are not acceptable. Don’t let yourself be abused.

  • Do not manage his image for him. Tell your kids the truth. Like CL said, you don’t have to be brutal about it. You can say, “You dad is in a relationship with his secretary, which violates one of the most important promises of our marriage, so I had to divorce him.” Feel free to add that you did try to patch things up but that he CONTINUED to “date” his secretary. Your kids will appreciate the truth. As my kids’ counselor once said, if the kids think that both parents are lying to them, they won’t know whom to trust. I know it’s hard and that you want to protect them, but telling them the truth is the healthiest thing that you can do for all of you. Been there, done that. It was hard, but I don’t regret it. Hugs.

  • My only regret was not telling my child sooner and allowing exhole to control the script. He actually went behind my back and talked to my child without me and I have no idea what was said but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t “hey buddy I’m fucking your aunty so I’m going to abandon you now ok?” We wreckconciled for a whooping 2 months and that time I made damn sure we both sat down with him – he was ten so we left the affair out and went with adult issues over the past 2 years my son is figuring things out and when he has questions I answer them. I’m keeping all my court papers (all 4 – 3 inch binders of them) and will one day hand them off to him and let him make up his own mind about what kind of man his father is – I’m done protecting that asshole and kids have a right (age appropriate) to know why their life blew up.

    • The traitor did this. He talked to the kids for months behind my back, telling them how we weren’t getting on and there were problems, while fucking the whore while I was looking after his kids. Result: no one is talking to me now. He and whore are walking off into the sunset and I have lost my family, my partner and all my dreams for our future as a family, step grandchildren, everything. His SIL believes the kids are not allowed to talk to me, she just saw him, he showed up with whore at her house for New Year’s Eve, unannounced as if nothing was going on. Just like the actress that plays his wife in his soap opera life has been replaced. Not one word about the change. I had dinner with SIL last night, she is fuming, but the whore cut him off his family for 7 years previously so they won’t risk that again.

      • Hugs to you @ kiwichump – no one deserves that! The whore won such a lovely prize – a traitor and bullshitter – good riddance ❤️

        • Thank you heissobroken. I am grateful to his family for being kind to me and seeing through the bullshit. It’s perfectly fine with me that they want to keep their sibling, in fact I have asked them to do anything they can to keep the peace with him so he doesn’t cut his sons off their only sane relatives… But it is very tough and painful because I miss the family life so much. So I really appreciate your message.

          • Kiwi
            Your journey has been harder than most and you always write such great posts. Keep your chin up, they are not worth this pain they have caused.

  • Sam,
    So sorry you’re in this mess and I sympathize with you wanting to spare your children the pain BUT I also agree that they are old enough to be told the truth.
    My sons were 27 and 31 and thought their dad was the BEST. They talked to him every day. When I discovered the affair I did not give them all the wonderful and smutty details of the texts messages between Fucktard and his slut BUT my boys were taught to tell the truth and be responsible for your actions. That integrity and morals were a must in life. No way was I going to “pretty it up” to them, they deserved to know the truth. Plus we live in a small community where my fucktard was a public figure. Wasn’t 12 hours after I discovered the affair my oldest son was approached and asked was it true his dad was having an affair with a 29 year old. They deserve to know that what he did and with who.
    If he was sooooo unhappy he should have talked to you about it, just like you’ve taught your kids.
    He can spread all the bull shit he wants (remember he is a pro), its total impression management and if you’re like the rest of us you did that job your entire married life, then he fired you…. so not your problem anymore.
    My fucktard texted me that he could just imagine the “poison” that I told our kids. Never heard the truth called that before but ok…. of course he didn’t have the guts to tell them of the affair, or that he married the slut or that they had a baby. So I can see now how totally concerned he is about them, he has not once tried to contact either of them.
    The only one your soon to be ex is concerned about is himself.
    Fuck him and the slut he rode in on.
    Hold your head up and be there for your kids.
    Many hugs to you!!!!!

  • My children found out on D day, when they saw me fall apart. I dusted myself off and reassured my children we were going to be ok. (Because at the end of the day, thats what kids really want, to know everything will be ok).
    I told my children I will always tell them the truth, even if I look a jerk, I can own when I do something wrong.
    Of course ex started damage control after about a week, he told my youngest (11 at the time) that mommy threw him out and he wanted to come back but mom said no.
    I explained to my son that is not the truth. Has daddy called mommy? NO
    Has daddy come to the house to say sorry? NO
    Has daddy sent flowers? NO.
    Your fathers actions do not match his words, and when actions dont match words, it is not the truth.
    My children have learned a very hard valuable life lesson about people manipulating and lying.
    I am 3 yrs away from him and I let my teenage children decide what kind of relationship they want with ex.
    They understand that I only want peace and happiness in my life and that means no contact with him or his flying monkee family.
    I am here for a shoulder to cry on and I am their biggest cheerleader but no where in my mom job description does it say, I will knowingly
    cover for a narcassist to manipulate, lie and hurt them ,fuck that !!
    Whats the saying….
    If you want people to speak well of you, then you should have behaved better.

    • I tell my kids the same thing. Pay attention to actions and choices, not words. Do I help them recognize this when STBX sends them text messages full of words that he doesn’t follow through on? Yes. I just hope that is the right thing to do rather than completely let them figure it out on their own.

      Should be noted that I also point out when he actually does make an effort, which isn’t too often.

    • This is a GREAT GREAT post about how to combat those “mommy/daddy won’t let me come home” sad sausage stories.

  • My kids are a bit younger than Sam’s. They haven’t asked why we are getting divorced (yet), and I’m not going to go out of my way to tell them because I’m not even sure what I’d say. My wife of course is going with the standard “your father and I weren’t happy” (read: your father wasn’t a good enough husband in my eyes, so I decided to spend the last several years our marriage sleeping with a married guy at work).

    The problem is that many of our friends know, and those friends have kids that hang out with my kids (and these folks had heard the rumors about the A before I even knew). I also know that a few gossiper parents in our kids’ grades know, so I’m sure that kind of juicy rumor is going to get around to the rest of the parents real quick. I’ve heard these folks talk about other parents in the past, so why would we be treated any differently?

    So sooner or later, unless we discuss it with them first, my kids will probably hear about it from somebody else, and then I’ll have to deal with the blow back (and I guaranty I’ll be blamed by my STBX for it). I’ll just cross that bridge when I get there I suppose.

    Infidelity – the gift that keeps on giving.

    • Blindside, don’t let your kids find this out from gossip or teasing from other kids. That would blindside them! Let them hear this hard truth from someone who loves them and wants to help them – you! Talk to them about the fact that there may be gossip, and figure out together how they can handle that. Your kids need at least one parent who has their backs. Don’t wait for ‘we discuss it with them first’ – there IS NO MORE WE. As a matter of fact, there hasn’t been for a long, long time. If your (soon to be ex?) wife were that interested in the kids’ well-being, she wouldn’t have been fucking around, right?

      • Again, KarenE is spot on. And since “your father and I weren’t happy” is at best a massive lie of omission, epic proportions department, you need to get your narrative out there. “It’s partly true that I wasn’t happy, but that is because your mom was dating other people. Married people aren’t supposed to do that. So we are getting a divorce. I will answer your questions, if you have any, about what happens in divorce and how we will make sure you are OK.”

    • Blindside–I agree with KarenE. If your children find out the truth about the divorce from others, it will upset their sense of stability much more than if they hear it from your mouth. Just the facts, but tell them.

      • Blindside
        Think about what you said. You have not told them anything because you don’t know what to say. They may find out indirectly and half truths from others and you are sticking to cheater narrative.
        For their sake I think you will find it empowering to own the choices you make from now on. Fear of our cheaters can manifest in so many ways and it’s how they control us and situations. We don’t want to make them angry, we don’t want to make situations even worse, we don’t want to light the blue touchpaper as it were.
        I would suggest now is the time you decide who you are and how you want this to go.
        Tell them in an age appropriate way what has happened and what is going to happen next.
        I’m guessing you are afraid she will cut off your access to them and mess with their minds but she will probably do that anyway. As it says upthread they will fill an information vacuum with their lies.
        Do what your children need you to do. Everyone here will support you.
        She has made unilateral decisions for her benefit. You can make unilateral decisions for your children’s wellbeing. Start with them as you mean to go on. IMO.
        You also need to start putting down a few markers for her. And tell others the truth.
        Why wait to cross that bridge? Build your own fucking bridge and cross that and maybe put a few bear traps on it.

        • You guys are right. It’s just like getting up the energy/nerve to divorce – it’s just something that needs and has to be done. God I hate all of this.

          • Yes, the teens find out from others. Mine had a friend who saw her dad out with OW before I knew. I am so glad I told my teens the absolute truth. That way, they weren’t shocked when someone said something. They were prepared because they knew the truth.

          • Blindside
            I’m with you on the hating all of it. It’s like I’m on some nightmare vertical sheer wall of a learning curve! Takes all my energy to just do normal stuff, having to file for divorce, sort out financials, renegotiate old patterns of thinking and acting is just exhausting.
            Maybe though, your deciding to tell the children at a time and place and in a way of your choosing might help with your building a strategy for the way things now need to be for you own well being.
            Sounds like she is used to controlling the narrative and everything else. But you have superpowers remember – you are sane, truthful, kind, loving, trustworthy, honest, empathic and not a dysfunctional lying character disordered cheat. Surely it’s time you stand up to your full height and take pride in who you are. Cheaters so often make us forget our mightyness and that’s why CL reminds us to go look for it (mine was down behind the sofa cushions…).
            It’s your ball game now. You have the moral high ground (might I suggest a flag). Be mighty.

            • Capricorn,

              I remember that cliff. You have it. Your posts are well thought out. You are well balanced. Hold tight. Plan your first adventure.

    • I simply said “your dad and I are getting a divorce.” When DD12 asked why, I said, “your dad has a girlfriend and that’s not OK when you are married.”

      I also told her that “I read that kids sometimes blame themselves for parent’s divorce. Is there any part of this that sounds like it was your fault?” She said, “no” and I said, “good because there is nothing you have done or could have done to make this different. I don’t feel like it is my fault either.”

  • Sam, my husband did almost the exact same thing but about 24 hours after I found out about the tip of the iceberg of the affair (probably plural) he told the kids, 7 and 8, that he couldn’t live in the house because mommy wouldn’t let him stay because he ‘kissed a girl.’ I was furious. At the time I wouldn’t have told them, I didn’t want their innocence destroyed. After 2 false reconciliation attempts, loads of emotional abuse and isolation, a vacation with his ho-friend, extreme denial from me I finally decided I deserved better, and so do you Sam. Raise your children with dignity and morals, set that example. Teach them their are consequences for atrocious behavior. My priest and therapist said my children should understand that dad made bad choices and hurt people. Neither subscribed to that fluff that we shouldn’t tell the kids because they are part Dad and therefore will think they are part bad. They aren’t that part. They may have his eyes but it’s their choice to grown up to be a lying, stealing, selfish adulterer. Keeping the lie only protects, enables and normalizes the abuse of affairs. The truth will set you free. Once you all know you can move forward, you can grieve , you will let go of the lie of the person you used to love and you will be able to love someone more deserving like yourself, your children, your friends and maybe a new great guy one day.

  • It’s very simple.

    “Dad has had a girlfriend – x-name at work – for at least x-long. I found out from e-mails between them and then he admitted when I confronted him about it. He said it was over, once I found out, and said he’d be working on our marriage in counseling with me. That was also a lie; he never stopped seeing her or sleeping with her. This is why I’ll be divorcing him- I cannot be married to someone who lies to me like this.”

    There is absolutely no need to tell the children together and definitely no need to agree on what to tell them. They get the truth, in black and white.

  • My X was very publicly outed so there was no way he could lie to our kids. I am sure he would have lied about what he did, after all, he had lied to me through out the affair. His own conduct prevented that from happening. Cheaters lie, it’s what they do, but we have no obligation to help them deceive their own flesh and blood. After all, the cheating affects the kids, too. Often, their whole world is torn apart and they have the right to know why. If we want honesty from our children, they should be able to expect it from us.

  • “He was a good father to them.” No he wasn’t! When you cheat, you cheat on your spouse AND kids. You can’t be a good parent and also be a cheater. A lot of us want to separate these out, but you can’t. He sucks. My ex also believes the exact same narrative: I was so mean, he had to cheat. It’s all bullshit.

    • You’re a shitty parent if you cheat on your spouse. You know that once your spouse finds out (eventually) the relationship will end. That means the intact family is also ending. What a-hole would do that to their own children?! A selfish, slimy low-down man/woman pod with no feeling. And women do that, they are even worse, IMO.

      • A good parent doesn’t abuse the father/mother of her/his kids. It hurts the kids when one parent is being abused by the other.

        In my case it spilled into contempt for me, which at least one of my kids was learning from his father prior to Dday. My relationship improved dramatically with my kids when The Coward stepped off. And it’s no wonder why. Mom is mighty. Dad is a flaming coward.

    • My sons both said “dad cheated on you he didn’t cheat on us” WTF!!!!?????

      • Same-sex children have it hard. Ask your kids if they like being in a divorced home? Splitting holidays, weekends, summer breaks among two households? No–well, their father put their lives as they knew them at jeopardy, too, and also prioritized the OW over them regarding time, affection, finances, etc. Ergo, he betrayed them as well, and I would tell them so in no uncertain terms.

        Hugs, ChumpChange, that sucks.

        • Yep. You’re right Tempest. It totally sucks. They are great adult sons, now 20 and 29. This has broken their hearts, and I’ve told them way more than I should have. I’ve come to believe that that’s a line their father has told them, l but it cut me to the quick. Then I remind myself that I am the one they have been with on the holidays for these last 3 years. They would be home for a week or 10 days for Christmas, and see their Dad and Schmoopie for a couple of hours at most. My older son just flew me out to New York City in October for a weeklong visit. During that time I overheard him more than once saying emotionally to his longtime love “but I’m not like my father…” when she was worried what he’s been up to on a trip to Las Vegas. We just returned from a two-week Mexico City and Cuba vacation that included my 60th birthday. It was magical. We had an Epic Adventure. I can only imagine what Gaslighter thought of that. I’ll be with them again this weekend at a 30th birthday party for older son’s girlfriend in Santa Barbara. Gaslighter not invited. I’ll have to try not to think about whether he sees his dad or not while he’s in town from NYC. I have a very hard time that my sons haven’t stood up to their father for his lies and gaslighting and lawsuits, but my therapist has told me “You actually expect your sons to stand up to a Psychopath??? You need to lower your expectations, they are being controlled by him. As are you. Remember, he is sicker than you are smart!” Controlled by him? Chilling. Apparently the Psychopath is always in control. What a sickening and scary feeling, but he’s controlling the narrative as best he can as in “I was unfaithful to your mother, but not to you.” I have to somehow trust that in time my sons will see who he really is. In some ways I know that they know. I just wish they would tell him off and cut them off ! I get jealous when I hear other kids cut the cheater parent out of their lives for good. Gotta let that go somehow.

          • My guess is that their father said those exact words to them. My STBX has texted my kids telling them that “he left their mother, not them”. And he has done it more than once.

            If they are spending their holidays with you and only seeing their dad for a couple of hours, deep down, they know how important they are to him. Give it time.

    • This! I keep telling myself what a “good father” my husband is, but that isn’t true. A good father cares about his wife, the children’s mother, and wants the best for her – because that helps the children. The emotional stress and turmoil I have been going through has taken a lot of energy from me, drained me to the point where I don’t have what I need for the children who need both of us very much. They are all tweens – part of the most important times of their development.
      A good father wouldn’t put a good mother through this.

      Thank you for that reminder.

    • Right???? It amazes me what these assholes truly believe – must come from a cheaters manual that us chumps aren’t provided – JK nevermind I wouldn’t actually read the manual anyways because I am not disordered and morally intact – when they cheat their WHOLE family suffers and anyone who says otherwise needs a swift kick in the ass and to be shown the door.

  • 3 years ago my husband cheated. He told me it was a one night stand. We decided to see if we could salvage things and went through an intense marriage program. We did not tell the kids. They were 10 and 12.

    Fast forward 9 months and he had a paternity suit filed against him. She had moved away and he decided not to be part of the child’s life. I convinced myself that whether there was a child or not, didn’t change the sin. And if I had been willing to forgive and stay in the marriage, then that shouldn’t change. Plus, we had worked really hard to get back to things being “good” again. We decided not to tell the kids since this child would not be part of their dad’s life.

    18 months later, he started to revert to past behaviors…going out after work, not answering his phone when I called. All of this starting changing again about 2 weeks before I found out I was pregnant (sooo not planned and should not have been possible). By the time I was 6 months pregnant, things were really bad and he walked out. 1 month after our daughter was born, I found out he had been involved with someone 21 years younger. There would be no reconciliation. Kids were 12 and 14. They were told this time that dad was involved with someone else.

    As most chumps know, his story of the one night stand years earlier was a lie along with everything he said during reconciliation. The kids still do not know though about the first time or the child. They need to know. Their counselor thinks that it should come from me since they still trust me (and not their dad). However, she recommends waiting until after the divorce is finalized as she said he could use it against me (for parental alienation accusations).

    My questions are:
    1. Should I wait?
    2. How do I tell them? I fear they will be angry with me (for keeping it from them and for staying with their dad).
    3. What if they refuse to speak to their dad again (given how little they want to do with him now, this is a possibility)?
    4. Should I rather try to force their dad to tell them?
    5. How do I help them cope with this news?

    • Good questions GetMeFree! (I am having similar issues. See below.)
      No way on forcing their dad to tell them. After DDay 2, STBX and I met with marriage counselor to discuss telling the kids we were separating. She recommended we do it in steps. First tell them about separation, then later talk about divorce. I forced STBX to tell them because I had done all of the emotional work of raising the kids their entire lives… I figured that he had blown up our world and he needed to deal with some of the fallout. Instead of sticking to the plan, he brutally told the kids we were divorcing, causing hysteria. He was unapologetic and said he wasn’t going to lie to them. Ha! He’d been lying to us for years, and he certainly didn’t tell them the whole truth.
      You need to control the disclosure.

    • GetMeFree–the cheater will never tell the full truth, and your counselor is correct–they deserve to hear it from you. If possible, tell them right before (or during) a counseling session to make sure they have a professional to process it with.

      Give them the full, but condensed story from 3 years ago. Let the kids ask questions; they will only ask questions they are ready to hear the answers to (which may mean letting children ask questions of you one-on-one; what one child is ready to hear may not be great for another child to hear yet).

      Sticking to the facts should not permit your X to win a parental alienation case, and I think it is hazardous to wait until after the divorce is final to tell them. If they are going to be angry at you, they will be even angrier if you wait 6, 9, 12 months until anything is legal.

      (And if anyone does face a parental alienation suit for merely telling the truth, I can help you get an official letter from a psychologist advocating the merits of telling the children the real reason for our divorce. Just email me: [email protected])

      • Tempest-
        Do I need to tell STBX that I am going to tell them?

        If not, do I need to tell him afterwards?

        I want it over with but the thought of laying this on them makes me want to throw up.

        • GMF, I made Cheater tell Kiddo, with me in the room. I do not think you owe your ex ANYthing, least of all letting him know that you are going to stop gaslighting your kids. Yea, it sucks. But think of it as an inoculation against them going into abusive relationships.

          And even after they are exposed, cheaters try to mitigate. Mine lied about the duration of the affair to ‘protect’ Kiddo. She found out (in the worst way, old sexts and texts on a phone he loaned her) that her dad hadn’t just been fucking her auntie, he had been since she was eight, not twelve. It hasn’t made any difference to the results-Kiddo and I moving across the world, but it sure as hell made a difference to Kiddo in how she deals with him (deadbeat) as regards financing college.

          This is the start of a very hard slog for you-CL’s asvice and Tempest’s is right on the money. Everyone deserves the truth. The truth doesn’t suck, he does.


        • No, you don’t owe STBX anything. Tell the kids, and let him navigate his relationship with them. (hint–he’ll probably fuck it up, but that’s not your responsibility)

        • GMF, let me second Tempest’s points. You don’t owe him any explanation. Let him navigate his relationship with the kids. If he comes to you complaining that you revealed the “love child,” tell him it’s better they learn it from you. Just remember not to burden the kids with your emotions. “Just the facts, m’am,” as they used to say on the old TV show “Dragnet.”

          I would caution that if telling the truth now would impact divorce settlement for you in a negative way, I would wait. You can always tell the kids there are aspects of the story you can’t discuss because of the legal issues until after the divorce. Use your judgment on this. But in general, it’s always bad to keep toxic secrets in a family.

    • Don’t wait. I would not trust their Dad to tell them the truth.I know this is not always popular but I am all for telling the kids, in a calm manner, and tell them this behavior is not to be tolerated by you or by them. So what if they decide to not want to be around their father. I think it is healthy being pissed off rather than thinking it is ok to put up crap and have a father who short changes the family he is supposed to love & support. No one should accept scraps. It is your job to lead by example. Yes they’ll be upset, but at least they have a mother that is caring, stable and has their best interests at heart. They’ll survive.

    • Thank you all. This is so hard to know the right way to do this. Especially when I really don’t want to do this. And when this was not my doing.

  • Wow, I need this post. This is something I have struggled with recently.
    I know we all have different stories here. I have some circumstances that make this difficult and welcome any advice I can get from CN.
    All 3 of my kids, ages 15, 13 and almost 11, are on the autism spectrum. My oldest child has cognitive delays as part of her autism, and she is emotionally immature.
    After DDay 2, (2+ years ago) I abruptly kicked FuckFace out, my kids took it hard. In hindsight, I offered them no real explanation as to why (I was a wreck). My youngest ended up being briefly hospitalized for suicidal ideation. My middle kid came to hate his father – physically attacked him, threatened to harm him – it was a close thing that he wasn’t hospitalized as well.
    I tried wreckconciliation after the hospitalization. STBX refused to go to counseling – said he needed to work on himself (ha!). We floundered along for a while until I found his online dating profile and correspondence. I told him to leave but he refused. He moved into the basement and lived there for 9 months. We told the kids that we had tried to work things out but couldn’t and were divorcing. After he moved I allowed him to visit the kids in the house. Changes in routine and environment are particularly hard for kids with autism. This went on for a while with STBX continually disrespecting my boundaries, culminating in arguments (sadly, in front of kids). When STBX became aggressive about me enforcing boundaries, I changed the locks and discontinued visits here.
    He is out of the house, kids are doing pretty well. Their time with him is sporadic. But things are a lot more peaceful.
    I have never told the kids about the cheating. All 3 kids are in therapy (for various issues connected to autism, and for help dealing with the divorce).
    I am afraid to tell them. I feel like things are relatively stable for them right now, and I am scared (for them and myself) to jeopardize that. I don’t know how to bring it up.
    I know that STBX is all about managing his image. I facilitated it my whole marriage. I am also terrified of letting him control the narrative. Even though he spends much less time with them, he is able to craft that time so they only do fun stuff. He (and his lawyer) have already accused me of trying to alienate the kids because I don’t allow him to visit the kids here and I don’t force them to go with him. I certainly don’t want to give them ammunition.

    • It sounds like you’ve really been through the wringer. I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. I don’t think anyone can fully relate to raising kids on the autism spectrum unless they’ve done it themselves, so I can only give advice from my own perspective. My son has sensory processing disorder, and while he is not on the autism spectrum, it’s a characteristic shared by many children on the spectrum. His brain circuitry gets scrambled and overwhelmed when there is too much sensory input, and at his current age (5) that includes emotional input. (Luckily he’ll outgrow it with occupational therapy.) When my son asked why his daddy doesn’t live with us, I worked really hard to keep emotion out of my response. It was a simple explanation of facts. Rules are easier for kids on the spectrum to understand than emotions (from my limited knowledge), so I would explain how he broke the rules rather than how he hurt you. Once they’ve wrapped their head around that, you can take your time building up to the more challenging and complex nuances of the pain it caused, if you ever choose to go there.

      Good luck!!

    • Louisvilleflower–I think telling the kids is trickier when they have pre-existing conditions that might hamper their ability to fully make sense of the divorce or infidelity.

      Tell each child, separately, that you are willing to answer any questions they have about the divorce. Kids will typically only ask what they are prepared to hear. Give them a bare bones answer to any question, then see if they request more details. One of your children may choose to find out more, another may prefer to not know anything (but may ask questions much later, after the divorce is final). Hugs!

    • LouisvilleFlower
      I have no insight to offer as I have no experience here but I do know a bit about you from what you have posted. I feel very strongly that you can trust yourself to make the right choices when it comes to doing what is best for your children. There is no one who is better placed to make the important calls than you. Trust yourself and don’t worry. They have you, they will always be loved, safe and valued.

  • ” He has informed me he was unhappy for 10 years.”

    10 years, exactly! How many time have we heard this one? And they all suffered in silence.

    • Ah, yes!!! Happy Anniversary to them … they managed to survive 10 years with us … how brave of them … what martyrs. In tears, I asked mine, “Won’t you miss me?” and he said, “I wouldn’t have missed you 10 years ago.” We had been together 12.

        • I have six pages of cruel shit like that, before and after D-Day. Why did I stay? Because he said he loved me. He gave me pretty cards. Geez, I gave him cards, and not one sentiment in my cards to him was anything I didn’t agree with … so why wouldn’t he be the same way? Surely he must just be lost …

          Like with an elderly dog who’s dying, I kept trying different things to keep him alive. Eventually you have to give up.

          Today is the first day I’ve actually felt anger towards him in 3 years because of the lies and shit he’s said … it’s Tuesday. MEH = My Eternal Happiness … I hope.

          • On Dday I was crying and I said “We should NEVER have gotten married…too young, too different!” He was attempting to comfort me and said” Blown Away, there were a few good years!” We were married 46 years and together 50!!! I had no idea decades were spent in a miserable marriage. The curtain was raised on his secret decades long second life as a serial cheater. I STILL cannot wrap my head around this three years later.

            • What a stupid thing to say … I’m sure the inflection in their voice is on purpose. I said, “What about all those birthdays I gave you [boy, I was desperate, wasn’t I], what about that special one?” and he said, “Well, I liked THAT one” as if out of all of them, there was at least maybe one that met his approval. I told him I spent $50 on a fixing-your-marriage book, and he said, “Well, at least I’m worth THAT much.”

              You can’t even begin to wrap your head around it … I was frustrated one day, maybe a year prior to D-day, and I said, “Did you want to break up? Is that what you want?” because he was being impossible. He said “Nooooooooo.” Well, this can mean, no he doesn’t, no he doesn’t want to but he wants me to break up with him so I’ll take the blame, or no, not yet, because he hasn’t lined up someone else. In my case, it was the latter two. And then it dawned on me … he had told me his first wife wanted to break up, and had suggested it, and so they did, and that she didn’t want him. Sounded believable at the time, and my narc picker wasn’t working. Years later, nope … she had probably said in frustration to him, “Do you want to break up?” and he took that as his ticket out of there. Also, I found out from one of his kids that his wife did want him back, and did the pick-me dance.

              There are tons of things I’m comparing about us to his original story about his first wife, and I also have the benefit (?) of comparing me to the next person … he bought her the same gifts he bought me, he did the same things with her … he fits the pattern. He’s the victim because he’s just trying to find true love, and this time he’s going to make it work, so he told me … yet another cruel thing to say to someone you’ve devastated. I’m pretty sure when he picked me, he was thinking he’d try me out, and somehow the time just flew, and he stuck with me because it would be too hard to break up with me (as he found out … I was devastated). THAT IS LYING, ERRORS OF OMISSION, EVERYTHING IS WRONG ABOUT THAT … and when I say that, I get the blank stare from him … hence, finally no contact, which I should have done on D-Day.

              Sorry to go on. It sucks.

    • Hysterical! Isn’t that the best! It’s my FAVORITE! Poor babies….

      Suffered in silence my foot! They got right out there and started screwing around! Singing in the shower and prepping and primping themselves for their dates with FB’s. LOTS of suffering…

    • Yeah, ten years seems to be the number that they were all miserable, but funny enough did not even consider leaving till you know, now. Not because some new side dish is waiting in the wings.

      • Oh yes. It’s in their manual. My xw said exactly that, “I’ve been unhappy for the last 10 years”. My only reply was “why didn’t you ever tell me”? They’re all the same.

  • I told my 6 year old in an age appropriate way. I’m not sorry. It doesn’t seem to have changed her relationship with her father in any way that I can tell. I do hope that she is careful with trusting him in the future – he continues to lie to both her and me (shocking, I know). I have ever so slowly started to come around to accepting that this is not the person I knew or thought I married and there is nothing I can do to make him be a better person. He has to live with himself and look himself in the mirror everyday with the knowledge of what he did. He doesn’t seem to care but that’s on him, not me. I’m doing my best to accept and live my own life. I’ll never be the same person I was, and my daughter will never be the same person she was – and for that I will never forgive him. But hopefully, we can grow and have a terrific life.

    • I told my young daughter (I think it was right around her 5th birthday) when she asked why we were divorced. I told her “when two people are married they make a promise to each other and they decide certain rules that they promise to follow. They do that at their wedding. What happened was that your dad wasn’t following the married rules and broke the special married promise so we had to get divorced.” She seemed satisfied with that answer. Her dad is already married to OW. She asks me sometimes if dad is going to follow the married rules with her or get divorced. I said I wasn’t sure, that was his choice. She seems to think they will get divorced.

  • I wish I had more time to elaborate…. I had a 17 YO and 14 YO when I learned that my fake husband of 20 years was a serial cheater who’d had affairs since we met. TELL YOUR KIDS! My X threw a fit not wanting them to know. BS; it was just him protecting his image. Do NOT lie to your kids… their father is already a liar, they must know they can get truth somewhere and they must have a good example that truth is the right thing! My therapist as well as my kids’ therapists (3 in total) assured me this is the right thing to do with teenagers. I’m so sorry for you! I get so sick of hearing these stories– why is this awful behavior so damn common?!

  • My child does not want to know. He knows the very basic truth that dad was spending time with other women, but he does not really understand what that means nor is he emotionally developed enough to understand the pain that ex caused. He certainly has no knowledge that his dad has a boyfriend … someone child has met and vacationed with, sadly.

    It is my belief that children do not want to hear the explanation of what happened much more than once. They love the other parent and do not want to hear bad things about that person even if they empathize with you. So I am attempting to wait until my child is old enough to understand what I tell him. Ideally, he will have been in love with someone so that he can comprehend how it might have felt to be lied to all those years. In the meantime, ex is no doubt painting his own narrative. All I can do is wait until I think my child is capable of understanding the truth. In the meantime, I do my best to provide loving and solid parenting and to keep our relationship strong enough to withstand the upcoming difficult communications.

    If my child asks a question, I have never ever lied to him.

    • YES, Dixie. Mine are 14 and 13 and both have indicated that they don’t want to know the specifics, at least at this point. What I told them at the time of the blow-up was: “Mum has decided that she wants to lead a certain type of life, and she cannot have that kind of life and be married to me at the same time. So yes, we will be getting divorced.” That seemed to satisfy them (but not me, of course).

      I had a discussion with a female friend of the family who divorced a drug-addicted ex-cop when her son was 6 years old (the cop ended up dying of an overdose two years later). She told me that her son, now in college, was somewhat resentful that she never told him “the truth” of what happened with his father, though he says he understood why she didn’t. Her words to me were: “You always want you child to know that you will be honest with them. It’s tricky with something as devastating as this, but they need to have confidence that you won’t bullshit them on matters big or small.”

      So agreeing with that sentiment, and recognizing and respecting my daughters’ stated or implied needs about their parents, this is what I plan on saying to them once the divorce is finalized:

      “I haven’t been able to say this to you until now because of legal issues having to do with our lawyers and the courts as we worked to get this settled. But here’s what I want you to know, and you can just leave it for now and ask any questions later, or you can ask me questions now if you like.

      I told you when this started that Mum wanted to lead a certain type of life that meant she couldn’t be married to me. The reason it got to the point of divorce is that Mum started doing things behind my back with people I didn’t know, and whenever I confronted her about it, she lied. That’s what’s known as ‘deliberate deception’ and it’s the worst kind of thing you can do to any person, but especially someone to whom you’ve made the most important kind of promises about being honest.

      You girls are getting to an age where you’re going to start having a lot of relationships with others — both boys and girls — and you need to understand how important this is. Not only do I expect you to act with honesty and decency with others, but you need to demand it in the people you choose to have in your life. If you ever become close to someone who isn’t honest with you, you need to seriously consider whether you can afford to have that person in your life.”

      • UX
        This is so amazing. You make me feel terrible!! As I said upthread when I found out I just went a bit (well a lot) crazy and although I don’t remember too clearly what happened I know that my boys (10 and 16) at the time heard exactly what had happened and what we were arguing about. They saw me just implode.
        I read posts here and it’s so polite and should I / shouldn’t I tell and how to phrase it perfectly for their ages and shall we just sit down for tea while we just iron out this wrinkle. I just feel am I the only one who just lost it and could not keep my shit together! I was not able to function well enough to even think about my own kids and what they were hearing. I was so far gone with shock and horror.
        The two eldest decided on NC for themselves and my now 11 year old is pretty much NC too. As my cheat has worked and is working abroad mostly their relationships were not close anyway. We thought they were but that’s another post.

        • Cappy, when I found my ex around behind the garage smoking pot once again, I waited until we were back in the kitchen with child in the next room. THEN I let him have it. I did this intentionally because I was sick and tired of keeping his various addictions secret. If he didn’t want his child viewing him as a drug abuser, then he needed to stop abusing drugs. I don’t think we always need to keep their secrets for them. Don’t you dare feel bad about reacting honestly. We’ve all been there … our kids learn important things from all of these experiences.

          • Capricorn

            I imploded. I just collapsed. I barely managed not to scream and lose my shit. I went no contact and stony in the house, we co-habitated for 10 brutal months. But in public I broke down. Like Dixie, there were some phone conversations that my kids heard little snippets. Then I gradually told them appropriate info. Sometimes too much. It’s better. We’re human. You are strong. You have this.

        • As my best friend 4a.m. 4ever told me in a fit of crisis: “Don’t ever apologize for having a human reaction to a horrifically shitty situation.”

          Give yourself a break, Cappy — believe me, it took every bit of strength and restraint I had to pull it off, and I spent a lot of time wishing I’d done what you did.

        • Capricorn–let yourself off the hook. Finding out about infidelity makes you crazy, and you were left alone to sort it out. It doesn’t hurt for children to see how painful this experience has been for you. My 15 year old is NC with her father, and was in the house to see me break down time after time because yet one more piece of information about the X rolled out–a second affair, then an actual case of sexual harassment (where he drummed a student out of the program when she wouldn’t sleep with him), then the Ashley Madison hack (his email was in it), then finding out his current GF was also an AP.

          She balked at hearing details, and would even get mad if she heard more than she wanted, but has emerged fairly strong. Mainly, she acknowledges that I went through hell, but wants me to acknowledge that she lost a lot in supporting me, too.

          • Dear Cap, I’ve lost it with my sons more than once. They’ll say something that triggers me or something will happen and I just say what I need to say. I think it backfires sometimes and makes them react in defense of their father even though they both have told me on separate occasions that they’ve lost all respect for him. But they still love him because he’s their dad. I doubt their dad ever brings up anything real or emotional, it’s all superficial b.s. I just do my best not to talk about him, but sometimes things come up and I will react, especially after having some good wine. I learned that Schmoopie was telling my son and his girlfriend the timeline of their love story. It did not add up, surprise surprise. But no one spoke up. That made me very hurt and angry. I wish I was much stronger and that it didn’t bother me like it does. What is so frustrating to me is as a Psychopath he can deal with all of the swirling drama, trauma and endless legal issues he has caused without a care. He has no fear. He doesn’t give a shit about anything but himself and what he wants in the moment. When I see communications from attorneys, especially ones that he’s not paying that are coming after him (us?) it terrifies me. I wonder how he can keep all these plates spinning and keep Schmoopie in the dark thinking he’s a Prince Charming… then I remind myself he’s had a lot of practice – it took me 38 years to see who he really was and I’m still reeling from the discovery.

        • Nothing wrong with an emotional reaction to an awful betrayal. You are human, caring and hurt. Kids should understand that, they expect to be allowed to cry and wail when they are hurt, day in, day out. They have to learn that as adults, we are also allowed to express unbearable pain and to expect to be comforted by those we love and who are supposed to love us. They should expect to be allowed to express their feelings and to be supported when they are grown up too. This is a valuable lesson for them, Capricorn.
          I lost it too, curled into a ball crying and wailing, and that’s been turned into parental alienation by the traitor and his whore. Not that I was a mass of pain and despair who couldn’t keep it in, that I was in deep distress and attacked by the love of my life. Well, they have now taught their kid that’s it’s ok to be nasty to the people who have cared for you for a decade, to be cruel and to be dishonest. One day it will come back to bite them, he will be cruel to them.

        • Oh no, you are not the only one who lost their shit. Raise hand here! I screamed at my Stbx, that he could go fuck his whore and drop dead. My boys heard it all. However, only the youngest is still smoking the hopium pipe with his dad.

          Keep in mind that my ex was always lecturing them on what a man should be i.e. Honest, truthful, faithful, committed, blah, blah, blah. Always made them (and me) feel like we never quite measured up. So, when the rubber hit the road, the two oldest kids realized how full of complete shit their dad is. That his words didn’t match his actions. They are pretty much no contact. The youngest, well, time will tell whether he can maintain a relationship with his dad. It’s all great now with Disney dad, but once the divorce is final and OW and her kids are in the picture full time? Who knows.

          I do know that my oldest two were pissed that I even tried to wreckoncile. Very clear cut morals with them. You cheat, you are out. So, they have my back and I couldn’t have made it this far without them making me laugh, hugging me when I was down and just being great sons.

          Your kids will be ok with the truth, they will be ok having seen you lose it. They will take that and realize that it’s not ok to intentionally hurt someone you promised to love, honor and cherish. Be strong.

          • Ha! The traitor was always lecturing everybody too! The importance of a moral compass, of an internal locus of control, blah, blah. Beware of a sociopath who has studied psychology at teacher’s college and been through many counsellors and psychotherapists…and writes letters to the editor in the local paper about a $2.40 reimbursement to local councillors for their costs, which they were entitled too, and describes it as a corruption of democracy, then grandstands because he refused to take his $2.40. What a fucking sacrifice…All ammunition to them to gaslight everyone.

        • Cap, I did the exact same thing, and you know what? I don’t feel bad about it. My kids saw authentic grief and heart wrenching pain, and they understood that I was mourning…for myself, for them, for our family. They saw ONE of their parents demonstrate that the intentional destruction of a family by someone who had a fiduciary duty to protect that family is outright treachery, and it also showed them that our family truly is precious, not something to be discarded so callously. Our four were all teens at the time, and they also have gone mostly NC. Chin up, Capricorn. You were able to be authentically human in the midst of the hell he unleashed…and his shallow, sociopath self is just jealous since he has no sense of real humanity!

          • When I exposed his mistress that’s when things got scary and deadly for me! It ruined his plans on introducing her as a new GF after the divorce! You would have thought I unleashed the devil! My sons confronted him and he lied to both.. that’s when they realized that he betrayed them too! So sad to think a father or husband could be sooo evil to a family he created!

            • Same here, Gail! I have become enemy number 1 because I “ruined everything” by telling the kids, which he says I “had no right to do.” I told him, if he can unilaterally decide to decimate our family, then I could unilaterally decide to tell them how and why. Not details, of course, but the basics. He had planned on a quickie divorce and then introducing her a few months down the road, with no one being the wiser. She was our mutual “friend” (a Christian life coach, no less). Now Asshat is so pissed because our kids will never have anything to do with her, and have told him he is not welcome at their weddings, since he has no respect for marriage and commitment. Like you, my Asshat will always blame me for “poisoning” them against him. Stay strong, Gail! These disordered fucks are just downright allergic to truth, poor things 😉

    • I agree that kids often do not want to know much. I’ve initiated some legal shifts in the custody agreement recently, and when I offered to explain what had happened and why, the kids said flat out, “We don’t want to hear about it.” I think they understand that the shift was necessary and at the same time they resent their father for making the shift necessary and resent me for following up on the necessity. From their perspective, every bit of the situation is terrible. Learning about the shitty things a parent did or is doing is so hard for kids who want to enjoy–even idolize–a parent.

      This doesn’t mean we don’t tell them the truth, but it does mean we have to keep fighting the injustice of the fact that they will adopt cognitive strategies that are hurtful to us: kids will compartmentalize (enjoy each parent when with that parent); kids will behave strategically and milk each parent for whatever that parent provides (monetary excess from one and emotional support from the other, etc.); kids will often align by gender with a parent as they struggle with puberty.

      The only healthy responses I know are to initiate discussion about the other parent as little as possible. Be noncommittal about reports on the other parent. And the great advice others have mentioned–set your own boundaries. Once a child is about 10, you can ask a kid not to talk much about the other parent. One caveat–if you have any reasonable fear that your child might be physically endangered by the other parent or the company that parent keeps, you need to suck up the pain and encourage chatter (this could be drunk driving, drugs in the home, a “friend” with a history of pedophilia, etc.) Many adulterers would never physically endanger their kids, but the flaming narcissists and addicts of various sorts are just another story.

      My own sense is that many kids won’t really see the whole picture until their mid-twenties or until they are themselves parents. It gets better, but it doesn’t get easy as a parent.

  • To quote JC, “Lying is not a problem-tool.” Neither is withholding. The problems that came about through lying and withholding cannot be solved by more lying and withholding. I have committed to always telling my son the truth in an age-appropriate manner, and I am so grateful to Chump Lady for providing language that I could use when the question came up. My son is 5 and knows that mommy and daddy don’t live in the same house because daddy broke his promises to mommy. As he grows and asks more in-depth questions, I will answer them openly and honestly. If he was going to stay 5 forever, I would not have told him. I’m providing the truth for the older version of my son, so that he will have a foundation of truth upon which to build his worldview as he grows and develops.

    My ex, of course, thinks that I’m a big ol’ meanie for having the audacity to expose him. I expect him to spin the same crap that there were problems in the relationship, he was unhappy for years (SO unhappy, in fact, that he married me mere months before D-day and after 10 years together), and that we’re both good people but weren’t good together (barf). Knowing my son, I suspect that eventually he will be the first to point out the flaws in ex’s logic. Knowing my ex, that will also lead to a troubled relationship between the two. But, as I read somewhere, I am responsible TO the truth, but I am not responsible FOR the truth.

  • Yes, tell your kids. You know how you felt when you found out you’d been lied to for years? That’s how they feel when they find out. And if you, the sane, honest parent lies to “protect” them, then they have NO ONE who tells them the truth. They need to know that truth is so important and we all need to be truthful. They need to know if they lie, they hurt people. Truth isn’t poison. They need to see your good character coming down on the side of truth. Always.

    My kids are now 17 and 20 and have known the truth for 2 1/2 years. And yes it was a horrible bitter realization for them. My cheater X continues to spin and partial-truth the story to the kids. And he definitely blame shifts it all on to me. He was unhappy for 10 years!
    He stayed for the kids! He’s actually the hero here! Yeah, and he begged me to tear up the divorce papers at our last meeting. It’s all about image control and they will lie to anyone and everyone. He would never dream of telling the truth because that’s his private business. I guess that’s how important his family was – not part of his special private business. Please tell them – omit some of the gorier details but make sure they understand the basic facts.

  • My first instinct when my DS asked why was to point out his abusive anger and neglect. He understood this because he lived it. I wish I also added that he cheated and that is also abuse by exposing and giving me STDs. He saw me crying after I got MORE information to digest and that was when I told him.
    It makes me sick that after we left I actually took the kid’s to met him for a couple of meals because he wanted to see them. They would not go without me so I sat there and tried to have a conversation and join them in some way. It was the same old same old. They were sitting with someone who destroyed me and our family with only the partial truth. It was totally awkward, fake, and painful for all of us. I realized I am not responsible for their relationship and I don’t have to micromanage that ever again.
    My advice is to tell the the WHOLE truth so healing and education can begin. Yes, educate them on personality disorders and the effect that cheating creates so they don’t have cognitive dissonance to deal with later in life. I’m not saying to “push” a formal education on the subject but be ready to discuss it when it comes up naturally or they have a question. Therapy is also useful so they can have an outlet in a neutral setting. Admittedly, there were times I have been biased.

  • It’s only natural that your husband wants you to keep his affair quiet in order to maintain his hero status with your children; he rightly assumes that if they knew what he had done, he would be diminished in their eyes.

    But I can’t imagine you’ve gotten to this point and your children have not asked at least one question about why you and your husband are living apart. Your kids are not babies anymore; they must be curious/concerned and IMHO, they deserve to know what is going on. Unless it would make you feel exponentially better to potentially alienate your children from their father, I don’t think there’s a need to describe all of the minutia surrounding your husband’s affair with his secretary. But I think it’s perfectly appropriate, especially considering their ages, to tell your children that their father repeatedly broke his marital vow to you by cheating with his secretary and lying about it to protect himself; the fact that you asked him to leave means you know longer trust him to be your husband and this is the natural consequences of his selfish actions. Beyond that, you might share more only if your children specifically ask to know more.

    When my ex moved out to be with his married coworker (whom I met on a number of different occasions), I called each of my triplet sons and told them their father had moved out while I was at church. When they asked why, I gave them the reason that my ex had given to me in his note… that he “needed time and space” and that’s all I honestly knew at that moment. I told them that if they had additional questions along the way, they should ask. Of course, as things progressed and it was clear we were going to divorce, they did ask. I answered their questions simply, directly and to the best of my ability. While I didn’t purposely sling mud, I also felt zero responsibility to protect my husband’s “good name” and/or shield my sons from the consequences of their father’s actions. As adults in their early 30s, my sons were more than capable of forming their own opinion about their father’s behavior and the kind of relationship they wanted to have with him going forward. There was no need for me to get in the middle of that. I did ask my sons if they’d posed the same questions to their father, and they said they had, but he’d refused to answer them.

    Today, more than 4 years post D-Day, I am easily maintaining a Zero Contact policy with my ex (the only time we’ve had to breathe the same air was in divorce court in July 2015 and again at our son’s wedding this past October), and that boundary has been the single most important component of my divorce recovery process. Since your children are almost grown, you could probably go to a minimal level of contact now, and if that feels right to you, transition to zero contact at some future point (i.e. when coparenting is no longer an issue).

    Despite the fact that we are divorced, no longer share any money/property and don’t need to co-parent, my ex tells people he simply doesn’t understand why I want nothing to do with him and all he wants is to be “friends”. These sorts of asinine comments only serve to cement my belief that he will likely never “get it”… he only wants to keep his reputation intact and be able to brush aside his shitty behavior and still come out smelling like a rose. He will likely never take responsibility for his actions, feel any remorse for imploding our 40-year relationship or strive to become a better man. Thank goodness he is no longer my problem! He is still cavorting around with his coworker (though she’s now in the process of divorcing her own husband of 40+ years), and I see absolutely no reason to spend a single moment of my life engaging with either of them ever again.

    One of my sons completely understands my zero contact position and thinks I’ve made the absolute right choice, but then, he has very little tolerance for bullshit and lies. However, my other two sons will periodically ask me if I’ve spoken to their father and my response is always the same: “No I have not; there is nothing for us to discuss”. They asked me this same question again when I saw them over the holidays, and this time, it was as if they were testing me to see if I knew about something specific that had happened with their father. So I privately mentioned this to my third son (the one who agrees with my boundaries), and he said that my ex was “going through a rough patch”. He elaborated and said his father had been out jogging, had been hit by a car and then had to have major back surgery… and then his whore/girlfriend went into the hospital over Christmas, developed necrotizing fasciitis, the surgeon had to remove a huge chunk of her thigh (coming just short of amputating her entire leg), and her kids didn’t visit her once while she was hospitalized because they’re so furious she is divorcing their father. So I looked at my son and sweetly said, “Karma’s a bitch, baby”.

    • MyRedSandals, my younger son, who is 31 is bothered that I don’t speak to his dad. He even told me that if we’d divorced when they were younger, we’d still have had to speak to each other. I take this to mean that he really wishes we were all still a family and could enjoy doing things together. He doesn’t comprehend what betrayal does to a relationship. Since his father basically cut off communication with me after D-day, I don’t bother trying to pursue any relationship with him. There’s really nothing left to say, anyway. He and I live in two different worlds and will never come to any consensus about what happened in our marriage anyway. All I have is my truth.

      • Lyn, how right you are… there’s really nothing left to say anyway.

        I think the reason why 2 of my sons periodically ask me if I’ve spoken to their father is that they wish everything could go back to being “the way it was”. One son in particular – the only one of the triplets that is NOT married and as you eloquently said, doesn’t have a clue what betrayal can do to a marriage – just wants “everyone to get along”… which of course, we could do if my ex hadn’t been such a dick.

        • My 33 year old son absolutely positively DOES NOT want me to talk to my ex husband ever again. He says it hurt him when my ex hurt me over and over again. He never wants to see us in the same room again and has said that my ex will not be invited to his wedding.

          • My oldest maintains occasional contact with his dad in the States but my youngest not so much – I don’t think the youngest (age 24) will voluntarily seek his dad out ever again. When I asked the oldest why he put up with his dad’s shit he said “dad’s fragile, you’re not” (he didn’t feel that fragile when he was beating 3 shades of shit out of me). But, I take it to mean that my oldest worries about his dad (and with good cause, he’s a frickin nutcase). I suppose it reflects well on my son even if I hate it. Both boys know that if I never see their dad again it will be too soon. The problem is the oldest is getting married here in France in the summer and asshole will of course be coming over. I suppose it is a small price for me to pay just to keep it civil. I only hope the jerk doesn’t start the “hey look, we’re great friends” routine because I will definitely put him straight on that one. The only thing I will ask my son is not to seat me next to his dad at the reception (nor my sister – although that’s obviously not going to happen – as she would like to pin him down and punch three shades of sh”t out of him for what he did to me). Not gonna happen of course but it is a nice dream. But truly, if I never had to see him again in his miserable life I would be one happy bunny.

          • Lost:

            It sounds like you have a wonderful son who knows the truth and wants to protect you from further pain. Embrace the love!

            Son #1 got married 18 months into our 3-year separation, and it was extremely difficult to get through that event without introducing drama into what was supposed to be a very happy occasion. As a result, there was lots of disingenuous “making nice” between Asshat and me so the focus would remain on the bridal couple and not on the dysfunctional parents of the groom. Sadly, I don’t think it ever occurred to Son and DIL to step back and consider just how awkward and painful it would be for me to share an already-paid-for apartment rental with Asshat for an entire week at their sold-out destination wedding venue; as soon as I got home from that trip, I went Zero Contact and that’s when my real healing journey began.

            Son #2 – the one who understands that his father is a clusterfuck and agrees I should be ZC – got married this past October. Except for sitting next to each other during the wedding ceremony itself, my amazing new DIL-to-be purposely seated Asshat and me at opposite ends of the room during both the rehearsal dinner (which Asshat and I paid for) and the wedding reception, and eliminated the POTG dance altogether. And best of all, DIL told Asshat’s married whore of a girlfriend that she was not invited to any wedding-related events and not to even think about showing her face. Poor Asshat showed up with his twice-divorced sister as his date and gee whiz, he looked positively miserable… I’m sure he was hoping he’d be able to parade his whore around as my replacement. On the other hand, I got all dressed up, was surrounded by supportive family and friends, had the most marvelous time and didn’t have a care in the world.

            Son #3 is still single, but currently in yet another relationship. Unfortunately, he and Asshat are very close and he takes after Asshat in so many ways, including not understanding the meaning of “honesty” and “commitment”. And coincidentally, he is the only one of my children who is still asking “Why can’t we all just get along?”… as if Asshat and I split because we were bored, or grew apart, or invoked some other noncommittal excuse. There is a long line of discarded women in Son’s wake and he simply can’t figure out why none of these high quality ladies wants to be “friends” after he unceremoniously dumped them. Sorry, kid… that tactic didn’t work for Daddy, and it won’t work for you either. If Son ever does get married, I’m pretty sure that in his cluelessness, he won’t offer me the same courtesy and respect that Son and DIL #2 did, so a solid game plan for that wedding will need to be drawn up.

            • My hopefully future daughter-in-law ( Son was about to propose to her before Gaslighter blew our lives at three years ago) made it clear that Schmoopie will not be welcome at their wedding. It’s good to read that you got through it all and enjoyed the day surrounded by loved ones. Congratulations!

    • My Red Sandals, I also have had nearly a 40 year relationship with Gaslighter. How did you handle seeing your ex at your son’s wedding? Did he bring his Schmoopie? My son recently told me that he can’t get married until his dad and I can be in the same room. There are considering a destination wedding which would be even worse because it would be a weeklong event. Sadly I dread the day that should be one of my happiest.

        • Chump Change:

          You are strong and you can make it work. Do not deny yourself the pleasure of seeing your son get married because of Gaslighter.

          Here’s what happened at my son’s wedding, and perhaps some of these tips will help you get through your son’s event with flying colors.

          I was extremely nervous about seeing Asshat at Son #2’s wedding, knowing how awkward things were between us at the Son #1’s wedding. Plus, I’d been Zero Contact with him for more than 2 1/2 years, and the last person on the planet I wanted to be in the same room with was Asshat.

          However, I kept reminding myself that I was going to the wedding to support my son and his bride, that I could be classy and deal with any temporary discomfort for their sake, and I was a lot stronger than I had been at Son #1’s wedding. I simply wasn’t going to stay away because I would’ve missed out on a once in a lifetime event.

          A good portion of my anxiety evaporated when my soon-to-be DIL told me she’d met with Schmoopie and made it crystal clear that out of respect and consideration for my feelings, she was NOT invited to attend any wedding-related events. Schmoopie seemed surprised, but then shrugged her shoulders and said “Asshat and I discussed it and we thought this might be a possibility”. Well, Schmoopie, aren’t you and Asshat the clever ones, planning ahead like that!

          I knew if I could make it through Friday afternoon’s wedding rehearsal, I could make it through the rest of the weekend. Not only did DIL also share that she’d proactively configured the seating charts for the rehearsal dinner and the wedding reception to accommodate me (I love that girl), and I would have my entire family sitting nearby, loving on me and insulating me should Asshat attempt to approach me, but on top of that, she’d also briefed the wedding photographer that Asshat and I were not to be in the same pictures (she knew I’d never keep or display any photos that included him).

          Before leaving home for the wedding rehearsal, I did pop 2 of Gaia’s Kava Kava Root capsules (natural supplement that promotes a sense of calm and relaxation); by the time I arrived, I already felt more relaxed, confident and in control. Asshat did try to make small talk with me during the rehearsal, but I did my best to ignore him and not respond to his nonsensical remarks. For example, he whispered in my ear, “As we exit the ceremony tomorrow, should we hold hands?” I matter-of-factly stated, “That is not happening” and tuned out everything else he said after that. By the time everyone arrived at the rehearsal dinner, I was having a great time.

          The next day, during the pre-wedding photo session, Asshat approached me again and said I looked very nice. If he was fishing for a compliment for himself, or wanted to engage in any other way, it wasn’t going to happen. So I said “Thank you”, turned and walked away.

          During the wedding ceremony, I moved my chair (front row, aisle seat) about 6″ away from his, positioned my body on a 45 degree angle away from Asshat, and kept my hands firmly clasped in my lap. If sitting with my back to him during the ceremony was the only way I could communicate “My boundaries are in place. Leave me alone”, I was willing to do it. At the reception, Asshat and his sister were sitting on the other end of the room from me, and I appreciated the physical distance. As Son #2 and I went out on the dance floor to do the Mother-Son twirl, I caught Asshat out of the corner of my eye, propped up against the wall, just watching us. Honestly, he looked old, lonely and pretty pathetic. On the other hand, I felt beautiful, powerful, loved and was so happy to have fully participated in my son’s special day.

          Would it have been nicer if Asshat hadn’t cheated, lied, gaslighted and manipulated me for decades so we could be present as a loving and committed couple, Mom and Dad standing united, as our son and his bride got married? Sure, but thanks to Asshat’s choices, that isn’t what happened. So, I made the best of an uncomfortable situation, and I am so glad I did.

          So think about what you’ll need to get through your son’s wedding, and then have a heart-to-heart with your son to see what and his fiancée would be willing/able to accommodate. During that conversation, I wouldn’t necessarily take a “Here are my demands” approach, but come from more of a “Here’s what will make me more comfortable… can we work together to make this happen?” angle. Please keep us posted with what happens.

          • Thank you Red for taking the time to share this with me. I feel better already! Best part, Gaslighter is an only child, and his parents are deseased (beloved son didn’t even hold a funeral or memorial service for his mother, but that’s another story) so he won’t even have any family to lean on. I am close with future daughter-in-law’s mother and have a great relationship with her 4 siblings. I can’t imagine that my 2 sisters and father will have anything to do with him, and one of my sisters and brother-in-law were stung by Gaslighter in a business deal that we are in a lawsuit over, so that’s yet another burned bridge. When I write this it sounds like a bad lifetime movie! So strange that I actually was with this man for so long and didn’t understand or see the pathology. Again, thank you so much for sharing. This has been very helpful and gives me strength for dealing with these events in the future.

            • Chump Change:

              Hey, friend, you’ve got this! Just remember… be classy, calm and cool.

              I should have mentioned that Asshat burned many bridges here as well. NO ONE in my extended family will have anything to do with him… they didn’t even acknowledge he was in the room. Perhaps the fact that he was practically alone and friendless (except for his sister) hit a little too close to home. One can only hope!

              And the best part? Asshat’s former BFF of 20 years – whom Asshat unceremoniously dumped when BFF told Asshat he thought Asshat was wrong for cheating, lying and gaslighting – not only officiated Son #1’s wedding, but he was also asked by Son #2 and DIL to officiate their wedding! BFF – we have remained close friends in our own right – and I spoke a few days before Son #2’s wedding and he admitted he was nervous about having to interact with Asshat and potentially, face some drama. But we both kept our cool – and our distance – and it all worked out OK.

  • I don’t plan on telling my kids (5 + 8). My reason is simple…. I am fairly confident my ex-wife will not tell the tale of her affair and she will live in fear for the rest of her life that I will tell our kids. Rather than helping her come to terms by telling our kids, I want her to be in a small state of purgatory… always wondering if I will spill the beans for the rest of her life. This is my small revenge… If I were to tell them, she would have to come clean and benefit from the cathartic feeling of releasing a shameful secret.

    I also don’t think it’s good to tell your kids… I think this will make them more likely to be unfaithful… “Mom did it, so it’s ok.” I remember smoking a joint and thinking it was ok because my Uncle did it and he turned out fine.

    Does my wife deserve my silence on this? Nope…but I am not doing it to help her… While it would be cathartic to tell my kids at some point… at least so they can understand all that I’ve done for them, and the type of father I am…. that said, what if they just don’t care and don’t have sympathy? That would hurt…

    • While I can understand where you are coming from I think you should take a look at your motivations. It really seems to be all about your desire to punish your ex and not about instilling a sense of safety and trust for your children. In my family growing up there was a lot of “TOPICS WE DO NOT DISCUSS.” I didn’t see my parents as people who would put me at ease or that I could talk to about pretty much anything. I didn’t see them as wanting to comfort me when I was confused or scared. So when I decided to tell my daughter it was because I wanted her to know that if she comes to me with a question she will always get an answer that is age appropriate and honest.

      • I think you raise a really, really interesting point… I will never lie to my kids for her… they will likely figure this out at some point…may need to rethink a bit…

    • It’s not about you “feeling good” about being able to emotionally blackmail your cheating ex-wife; it’s about your children deserving to know the truth.

      Do you love your children more than you hate your ex-wife?

      • I don’t know if I would call it emotional blackmailing…. I am choosing to not do something (tell them)… rather than make an overt action (blackmail). Blackmailing would be threatening my ex that I am going to tell them. She has no idea that this is my plan and will never know. Maybe it’s not super healthy… but I feel like I got screwed in so many ways…

        I love my kids and I think they would probably rather not know…. Case in point… 6 months ago, my mom called me and told me that my best friend from ages 2-5 was shot and killed trying to rob a bank. I was shocked and saddened… and ultimately, I would have been happier not knowing those details since I hadn’t heard from him since I was 5. It’s not a direct parallel but similar… My kids are going to have a close relationship with their mom… who is a little childish but loves them…I am pretty close to Meh..and would also rather not continue to re-live the pain.

    • Hey M,
      My parents denied my reality a lot growing up. How do you think I got trained up to buy into gaslighting from my xh? No, Dad didn’t just beat brother, he was teaching and helping him fix a mistake. Mom didn’t yell horrible accusations at me, it never happened, what’s wrong with my memory. Grandma didn’t just have a nervous breakdown in front of us, and parents weren’t just talking about how crazy she is, and don’t ever talk about it.

      Please offer your children the respect of their reality. If you don’t want to tell them, at least set up and invite conversations about their perceptions, do some validating of their feelings and perceptions. I completely understand the rage towards your spouse and trying to sort out your own reality. I had to eat some shit sandwiches to get the divorce finalized. Good luck.

    • Miromesnil
      IMO one kind of mindfuck is just like any other. She lies to cheat. You lie by omission to have revenge. Where is the safe adult here?
      I got screwed by both my parents after they divorced. Both lying liars. The result – I don’t trust either of them and never see them.
      Your kids deserve better than this.

    • Well, 5 and 8 is pretty young to understand the concept of an affair, so I wouldn’t make a point of telling them now. Maybe at 10, if they ask why (if they don’t ask, they don’t want to know) you could say “Mommy had a boyfriend when we were married and I didn’t want her to have other boyfriends, so we broke up.” 12 and older, you can just say “she had an affair,” and they’ll get the picture. Still, your decision whether or not to tell them should be based on what you think is best for them, not what you think is worst for her.

  • I have trouble using is the word “Affair” when explaining what happened. To me the word “Affair” sounds waayyy to soft. It’s probably the word a cheater started using to describe their selfish act of infidelity. To me it makes it sound to much like a party or a social get together.

    Speaking with the kids I don’t like to use ugly words. Since my kids are old enough to understand and they know that their mother did not have an affair. She committed Adultery and the guy she’s shacked up with is NOT her boyfriend. He is her Adultery Partner.

    Adultery is an ugly word and is fitting for what our cheaters and their Adultery Partners have put us, our children and the rest of our families and friends through. I will not sugar coat it by using the word “Affair”.

    • I agree with this. Words we choose have impact and meaning. You “have” an affair like you “have” a party. You “commit” adultery like you “commit” a crime.

  • Sam I Am,

    Boy – are you in the right place 🙂

    You kids deserve the truth. You are not responsible for putting sprinkles on the shit turd that is your Cheater. 10 years unhappy, but no communication to you directly about that and instead fucking around (let’s not believe the secretary has been the only time – it has been 10 years after all).

    I told my then 9 year old son, when my X left me and the family for the OW, that Daddy got a girlfriend while we were on our family vacation that summer and that married people shouldn’t do that. That was enough information for him. Meanwhile, my teenage stepchildren were immediately subjected to meeting the OW… my X has no shame, especially not in the face of true love.

    Over the last 2 years, as my son grows in his understanding of divorce and visitation, he eventually met the OW and her two young children. He was unimpressed – he felt even more ignored by his Dad on visitations because X and OW would hangout and expect the kids to all get along and self-entertain/engage.

    When my son asks questions, I tell him the truth that is appropriate for his age. People shouldn’t get girlfriends when they are married. People shouldn’t go to hotel rooms to meet strangers when they are married. People shouldn’t take Selfies from rooms within the marital home and post them on AFF if he doesn’t want them discovered and used in court (oh wait, I kept that to myself so far!)

    Oh, and now that the OW relationship has ended and “He Who Cannot Be Alone” found a new victim at the gym… my son has had to meet her. Yes, the revolving door of “Who’s Dad’s Girlfriend Today” has been installed. SO, again, age appropriate, I have suggested to my son that when he meets a girlfriend of Dad’s, he should consider them like he would a school teacher… someone he should be kind and polite too, but someone who will probably be gone within a year, so don’t get too attached. (Particularly since this one has no kids, but has a small zoo of animals instead… you cannot make this shit up.)

    You don’t own your Cheater anything but divorce papers. And you and your kids deserve a life lived in the truth.

    • You don’t owe your Cheater anything but divorce papers. LOL! You got that right!

  • Tell the kids in an age appropriate manner.

    I regret not giving my children the real reasons for the divorce. A neighbor, a psychologist specializing in children of divorce, told us NOT to tell them of the affair if we the kids to maintain a relationship with my ex. Boy was I a chump!
    Less than a year later, divorce finalized, and ex marrying OW and having a baby– my daughter, a daddy’s girl, was furious (too sudden, etc). So I simply said they have known each other longer, they were boyfriend/girlfriend while we were still married, etc.
    A year later, ex is telling her things like “we would have been been divorced even if I had not met OW”
    Things like that. And worse, such as explaining how he pursued OW (trying to not make OWife a bad guy?)

    In my case, the whole situation greatly affected my then 14 yr old daughter which led to suicide attempts and ideation.
    TELL THEM, and do it as suggested (facts, not emotional, etc).

    • I would say 50% of psychologists (including many specializing in divorce & children) are WRONG about this issue.

      And while I agree that it is best to give “just the facts” to children at first without editorializing, if the cheater begins to spin the “we grew apart” or “we were just friends” bullshit, the chump should set the record straight in no uncertain terms.

      What is our job as parents if not to instill healthy habits and a moral code in our children? Lying is against the moral code, unfairness is against the moral code, sitting idly by while people are being victimized should be against the moral code. We should not remain silent while kids are gaslighted more by the cheater parent who wants to spin the narrative that the chump was deficient as a spouse, or that the cheater “couldn’t help” starting an affair because “I thought your mother/father didn’t love me anymore” (the one my X pulled when the “marital problems” line didn’t work with them).

      If we want to give our children a strong moral compass, it requires not remaining silent in the face of injustice, even when the injustice is ours to bear.

      • “If we want to give our children a strong moral compass, it requires not remaining silent in the face of injustice, even when the injustice is ours to bear.’
        Tempest, you are a treasure. I am sticking this one on my fridge.

  • I told my teen son the truth. A few years later, he told me he would never have forgiven me if I had lied or covered up the truth or allowed him to go on believing the spin/bullshit reasons his dad gave for the divorce. Son has chosen to continue having a close relationship with his dad, but also knows that his dad is disordered and lies a lot.
    Believe me, if you don’t explain the truth in an age-appropriate manner, the cheater will pounce on the opportunity to spin YOU into the bad guy. Hell, the cheater will probably do this anyway, but it will be less damaging if the kids know both sides of the story (the truth and the twisted, image-control version the cheater will present)

  • Tell your children the truth, because turd bucket ex will lie to them and make everything your fault.

  • There is so much to say today I can’t respond fast enough.
    Let’s address this issue. If there isn’t a column on it there needs to be. I’m sure there is a little of this in every column but anyway…
    The cheater that comes to you and confesses that he cheated and is leaving you for her. Isn’t surprised that you are divorcing, he is asking for one. But…..wait for it….. isn’t an asshole because he came clean and is leaving…….after years of cheating.
    Like ” I’m coming clean and I’m outta here…..ur welcome.”
    He is an asshole because he made me fight him like a honey badger for what I deserved in the divorce, but to my earlier point,…… I seriously don’t get how their minds work.
    A cheater confesses for 2 reasons:
    1. They are close to being busted anyway.
    2. The AP has put the screws to them to choose.
    Mine thinks he’s being treated unfairly and says he could of just kept cheating…..smh.

  • I told my sons, in no un-certain terms. The youngest was 8. Eldest 14.
    The EX was crying and being all “traumatised”, and fled the house. It was awful.
    Now, all sorts of horrors have come out of the woodwork, he was far far worse than I knew at the time, and I am glad my children know the truth.

    It is important to remember how charming these creeps can be, and how they weave their lies.
    Any vague explanations will be exploited and you will end up being portrayed badly.

    My children still see their father, they want a dad. They are simply under no illusions and take the good bits he can offer.

  • I am grateful that I didn’t have children involved of my own. I did have a great relationship with the youngest daughter and the two youngest grandchildren. It was terrible to lose that relationship. I truly loved them. I was struggling by myself over the loss, grief and acceptance. Now, I am coming out of the pit a new person. I am finding me. I do know as a child coming from a divorce background, I would have liked to know that my dad sent photos of a woman sucking his cock instead of me finding the letter and photo myself. Plus, to wake to find strange drunk men in the bed or walking in on my mom having sex with a man. Then, bring left alone yo raise myself at 12 years old as a child on weekends so mom could go on a trip with her boyfriend without her ch, the one she told she never wanted and please don’t have any grandchildren for me. I would say it’s better to tell the child and send the unwanted child to live with the grandparents despite not wanting them to know how both parents behaved. Let’s not pretend that the truth isn’t reality. It screwed me up badly and I fell for way too many narcs and abusers because I didn’t have boundaries. I finally have them. A long divorce after almost 20 years, I am growing up and settling boundaries by myself with the help of CL and CN. Thank you.

    • saw – your story is so sad. Its sounds like you are working hard – growing and changing and recovering from your shitty childhood and recovering from the loss of your marriage. Setting boundaries is an awesome step. You aren’t alone. Good luck…

  • Sam I Am, you don’t need to get on the same page with your husband on this. You gave him a chance to tell them and he hasn’t done it. Cancel the therapy appointment.

    Yes, it will hurt your children, but so will lying about it or wondering what is going on. Your husband broke up their family and that is going to hurt them.

    At this point, you know that if you leave it up to your husband to tell your children he will either never do it or blame you. Remember how he told you that he was unhappy in your marriage? Remember how he confessed to his relationship on his own or immediately after you confronted him? Remember how he took responsibility for what he did and didn’t blame you? Remember how he always tells the truth? No??

    Get ahead of him and explain it as calmly and nicely as you can. Make sure they understand that you ended the marriage because you found out he had cheated, you tried to reconcile, and he kept cheating.

  • My marriage imploded in a very similar scenario as this writer describes. I told my kids. I told them too much, though. They were 24 and 26 at the time. I wanted them to know the truth, and I asked if they wanted to read the document I found on my husband’s computer detailing his obsessive love for married OW and his schemes to break up her marriage so he could have her to himself. It was sick. They both said they wanted to read it.

    How have things turned out? Well, my youngest son confronted his father and was told the same thing I was. “We never had anything in common. We were different people. This has been coming for a long time. We were both unhappy. OW has nothing to do with it.” My son is a lawyer, so I suppose he believes there are two sides to every story.

    In the end, for my kids, it doesn’t seem to matter. They still love him. They still spend time with him in his resort home. They still enjoy doing things with him and his side of the family.

    It hurts, but that’s the way it is. I wish I’d said less, but I don’t regret telling them the truth. I’ve witnessed in my own family how the truth always comes out eventually, and I’ve always believed in telling it like it is. Just wish I hadn’t editorialized so much. Of course my ex was all composed after he split because he knew what he’d been up to, and knew what he’d been planning. It wasn’t a surprise to him.

    No one really understands it unless they’ve been through it.

    • Lyn, my experience is extremely close to yours. I also wish I had told my son the truth, but less of it. He also doesn’t seem to care that much, although he does think his dad is crazy. Ex also told my son (still is telling him) the same crap about “nothing in common,” “grew apart,” “long time coming,” “marriage had problems, and so cheating was inevitable.”

  • I’m sorry I don’t have time to read all the comments today. But I just have to say that THIS IS **TEXTBOOK** stuff.
    Cheat, fake Reconciling, cheat again & hell with the cost. Until the bill comes due. The marriage he so “wanted to keep” suddenly becomes the justification for cheating.
    Fuck the counselors (mine included) who say don’t tell the kids. Teenagers KNOW. Why do you think they won’t ask their dad? Because of this ludicrous inverted bubble he & the counselors surround him with to ‘protect the kids’.
    They know the real truth will only come from Mom (or the betrayed spouse).
    How fucking hypocritical is it to raise our kids to have honesty & integrity, & to teach them bad choices have consequences – only to see their own parent trying to get off scott-free?

    Oh, the ex & I did that dance for 18mos after Dday – 3 of which were post-divorce announcement. I insisted my difficult 17 yr son respect his dad, hiding the sleeze & infidelity like a dog kicking grass over fresh shit. Only it’s still there, stinking & drawing flies.
    So that magical day when son & I had an issue & ‘SuperDad’ elected himself mediator (he wasn’t home when the intense argument took place), and SuperDad lost his shit & went nuts on me because I wouldnt sit quietly by while son lied about the incident, I opened the floodgates & out came ex’s dirty little secrets.
    That’s right. All the angst of protecting a cheating husband & parenting a troubled teen finally exploded & set me free.
    That asshole had the nerve to rip into me personally & my parenting right in front of the kid I’d shielded from his ugly truth. Thus, he suffered the mightiest of blows.
    And this is what becomes of those who shield their cheaters & their adult kids.
    We walk a tightrope until it snaps.
    That was no way for my son to hear it, of course.
    The proper approach would’ve been a calm setting that acknowledged his intelligence, followed by his father showing him how to be a real man by owning his failure & showing true remorse.
    Instead he witnessed a dog & pony show he knew was an act, & learned his father was a cheater & a criminal who would’ve never held himself accountable if I hadn’t spilled the beans.

  • I gave my ex 2 weeks to tell our daughter the truth – that he had cheated and moved in with the OW – and if he hadn’t in the 2 weeks I would tell her and she would get my unspackled no impression management viewpoint. Needless to say, he did not have the courage to tell her, she was 13 at the time, but she figured it out in the mean time and confronted him all by herself. He evidently tried the usual BS of how he had fallen out of love, some day he would tell her the REAL truth about me and why he cheated and left, blah blah blah. My daughter’s response was “Can I change my last name to my mother’s maiden name?” And that was it- she was done with him, and that was 4 years ago.

    I had a family friend who hid the truth from her child and the child ended up resenting the chump snd blaming the chump for ruining their “happy family”. I vowed I would not make that mistake and I wasn’t going to spackle any more. Not my job to make him look good any longer and he was going to suffer the consequences of his bad behavior. I urge you to do the same and tell your kids the truth lest protecting the jerk backfires on you and the kids end up resenting or disrespecting you.

  • My parents got divorced when I was 19. For 3 years of high school I lived with a mopey dad and a suffering in silence mother and the tension in the house unbearable. My dad introduced my sister and I to the OW under the guise of her being his business partner more than once, but I had already found sexts on his phone between the two of them. Teenage kids aren’t dumb and they might even already know what happened. I wrestled all the time with whether or not I should tell my mom, tell my sister, confront my dad, etc etc and no one was talking about it. My mom didn’t want to know (she spent 5 years being a chump and hoping he would grow up and come back) and I felt responsible for not saying anything but at the same time I didn’t want to say something that would blow up my own parent’s marriage.

    After she finally kicked him out and divorced him I started to learn more of what happened. He said they had been growing apart for years and came home from a water polo tournament he went to with me and said they had nothing in common anymore (likely affair #1 happened on that trip since my friend’s mom came home from the same trip and immediately got a divorce). My mom still blames herself sometimes for being too naggy or not open enough for him to talk to or that he was just going through a hard time with his mothers death (6 years prior to the initial we have nothing in common conversation by the way).

    From all of this my sister and I pretty much learned all the wrong things about relationships. My sister won’t get serious with anyone and thinks men only want women for sex. And I married a man who got on Tinder less than three years into the marriage and when he told me (I was completely blindsided) I tried to get him to work on the relationship even though he said he was leaving instead of sticking up for myself.

    Luckily I’ve gotten myself in therapy, got divorced, and have finally started accessing my anger over the whole thing. So moral of the story like everyone else here has said: tell the kids. Teach them healthy relationship boundaries and what is unacceptable. And teach them it’s ok to be angry when someone wrongs you, because you’re worth more than that!

    • Your point about the dilemma of kids who know but don’t know whether to tell the chump parent is very important. If they know about the affair, their loyalty to both parents splits them in half. So not telling the truth puts the burden on the kids, not on the parents, who should just bring up the “elephant in the living room” so everyone knows what is going on.

      • goodness, clairem, the picture you paint of minor you knowing but not being able to tell even your sister makes me grateful i don’t have kids. cheaters murder families.

    • Great post ClaireM, thank you for your insight in what the kids experience.
      My cousins knew about my aunt’s multiple affairs. She used to take them along in the car when she went to see other men and would leave them in the car while she was with the other men but they weren’t fooled. My cousins adored their dad and despised her. Poor dad died 20+ years before my bitch aunt did. She only had daughters and they absolutely despised her. They had very difficult teenage years, with inappropriate relationships with much older men, running away from home, all sorts. I am sure the mess she dragged them into had a lot to do with it. The whole family was messed up because of her.

  • John 3:20

    “For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed

    Even if you do not believe in God….. the bible has some pretty solid truths related to adultery and secrets. The cheater does not want the exposure plain and simple. They live in a world where they portray goodness and high moral character. They want people to look up to them. If the hidden truth is exposed, the facade is cracked. Yes they may try and spin it as our fault. But to many, they will never be looked at in the same way. I was one who did not tell the kids thinking it was not something they needed to know. What one finds out is, I was labeled for so long as an asshole to the kids that when the anger flowed related to her adultery, the kids blamed me. Best advice is to tell them in appropriate way. Bring the truth to light. Do not allow them to stay under the cover of darkness to continue to blame us for their wrongs!!!

    • Amen David!

      “But a man (or woman, my words) who commits adultery lacks judgment; whoever does so destroys himself (or herself, my words).”
      –Proverbs 6:32

  • I learned a lot about this sort of thing from living with several partners who were substance abusers. Covering up for their dysfunctional and self-destructive and very painful choices is called “enabling.” That mean we let addicts or disordered people continue to act in ways that hurt others (and themselves) without levying appropriate and natural consequences. So if your partner falls face down on the living room floor in front of the kids, you don’t tell them that dad or mom is tired, tripped on the rug, or ate bad sushi. You don’t scoot him or her out of the room before the kids can see and smell the evidence of alcohol. You don’t make excuses to the in-laws or the boss or the landlord or the teacher at open house.

    Tell the kids. They don’t need names and dates, just the basic facts: “Dad become involved in an affair outside our marriage. I found out and he agreed to quit seeing this person, and I agreed to give him another chance. But he didn’t tell the truth. The affair is still going on. People aren’t allowed to date other people when they are married. So I am getting a divorce. I’m sad and angry, and especially sad and angry at the effect on you. If you have questions for me, I will answer them if they don’t get into adult business.”

  • Marriage counseling rarely works. Still takes two to reconcile. Fear of God rarely works. That still usually blames the woman for not doing her ‘wifely duties’ whatever the fuck that means. Keeping quiet? NEVER WORKS! Trust me you were probably the last of your family to know anyway. My own mother spent years trying to tell me that my father cheated on her. It came out as anger. Pain almost always comes out as anger. Now Narcula is divorcing me because, yep you guessed it, he was never happy in our marriage of 34 years. Could it be the long parade of fuck partners that you have had over the years? Of course not. He just doesnt feel it for me anymore because hes too busy feeling up girls our daughters age. For me, there was from the very beginning a constant sob story about the ex’s, I am proudly one of the names in the litany now being used to attract a bevy of females to his bed, that always make you feel bad for the cheater. And of course, that cements that you will never do the same to them, you will never talk about how they cheated on you or lied to you or abused you or stole from you or fill in the blank. But it does change your behavior and assures your new personality of docility and obeisance to the cheater. It changes who you are! Read that again. Honey, go to a counselor to find you again. Let him go fuck the secretary. You are not the one she needs to worry about. Its the one he will cheat on her with and you can bet he will. No sorry for him, no sorry for her. Protect you now. Get a good lawyer and make him pay for it too. Protect you and your teens. Document everything. If your still curios as to whether a counselor can help, go and sit where you can see them both and watch the show. It will be an academy award winning performance by him. Be the champion of your life. Hugs.

  • Hi everyone,

    I have not been through every reply yet but I will get there.

    I appreciate the support.

    I do need to clarify – when I asked my husband (ex) to leave the night he came home and confessed (what was then) his most recent infidelity – it was in a very crazed state of anger. I actually told him to “get the fuck out”. I was more angry and hurt than I have ever felt in my life. I was completely blindsided and shocked – utterly shocked. Many of you may wonder how on earth I could not have known something like that was going to happen – but I had no clue – in fact earlier that evening I had made a wonderful chicken dinner that we, as a family, enjoyed – and I had gone to watch him play hockey. He didn’t actually know I watched his game until after the fact because I had to leave before the end of it to take my son to hockey practice. I was making a strong effort to make our relationship better amidst the chaos and stress – but I had no idea he had already fully checked out.

    I actually held onto hope after that night. I hoped that we could do a healing separation (not sure how many of you have heard of that but its a unique approach that I was willing to try) and that he would realize that being with this woman was the most selfish and hurtful thing he could possibly do – but he didn’t and has not come to that realization (and likely never will). I still loved him and was not ready for my marriage to be over……I did not ask for a divorce immediately. I eventually forced him in a conversation to tell me that he was done. I was naively waiting for him to look at the big picture and come back and make amends. I now realize that isn’t going to happen. And now I can finally move on to start my healing process.

    A lot has happened since I wrote the above post. I will try to give a synopsis.

    Last week my son used my phone briefly to do a search while he was doing math homework. When he started to type in his search- he typed the word “what” into the search bar and the question “what to tell the kids after an affair” came up…..he didn’t say anything to me right away – I was actually visiting with a friend when he did this. My son asked me about it later that night – right before bed.

    I was shocked and felt so bad. I sat quietly for some time before saying that I was sorry he had to read that on my phone. Internally I felt many things and anger was certainly one (since I have been wanting to address this issue for some time and we have been arguing about what is best for the kids.) This was NOT how I envisioned it playing out. I spent an agonizing 2 days after that waiting to meet with my husband (ex) to tell him what happened. We met in public to keep the intensity to a minimum.

    It went better than I expected – but of course since then there is still a lot of disagreement of how the rest of this will unfold.

    I had to ask my son to not tell his sister until we have a chance to sit down and talk about it together (which is another issue altogether and is weighing very heavily on me).

    My ex and I were at a counseling appointment today to have a 3rd person mediate our discussion. He did agree that we will tell the kids the basics (he has no choice now) but still insisted they not know the affair person is the woman he is with now. Near the end of the appointment I finally stood up for myself and my values (truth and honesty) – I said that the kids will be told that he is in a relationship and it is with the woman he had an affair with. I am not going to spend the next however many months or years feeling such resentment/hatred towards this woman without telling my kids why. I am not going to be able to hide those feelings – as they are way too intense and real – and the kids can know why I feel the way I do.

    I am not advocating giving my kids any details. I do think that we have a role to play in protecting them from knowing more than they need to. When they ask questions over time I will answer them honestly. Hitting them with too much at once will not serve any positive purpose.

    So the insanity continues. There is obviously way more going on right now but that is all I have time to get into……

    I am slowly realizing he is not at all the person that I thought he was. Which in itself is a shocking reality to face. After 18 years of being with someone – I thought I knew him – I thought he was the most amazing man in the world…… nope.

    Sam I Am

    • It’s totally horrible and unfair to you and your son for him to know and not his sister.

      You want to heal? Quit keeping this asswipe’s secrets and maintaining his image.

      I’m glad you spoke up in therapy. Keep at it.

      • I wasn’t going to comment on this today, but the last comment by Sam and by CL made me decide to say something.

        I’m not clear about the all the legal particulars of your situation, but from experience I will say this:

        1. I echo CL – Stop, Stop, Full on Fucking Stop keeping your asswipe’s secrets and maintaining his image. I am speaking from experience. I spent my entire over 25 year marriage maintaining my EX’s image and attempting to keep his secrets. Meanwhile, he spent years attempting to undermine my relationship with my children – outright lying to them and always attempting to appear to be the good guy. Saying one thing to me in private and pretending to believe and do something else in front of them. Taking credit for things I insisted upon in front of them while figuring out subtle ways to privately punish me for doing those very things.

        2. Stop discussing your relationship with your children with him and asking for his permission to do what you feel is right. You two are not partners – the moment he cheated, you became his adversary. You are no longer in a cooperative relationship (if you ever were) with this person. You love your children and that will guide you in doing what is best for them. Put them first. The only consideration he should get is if doing something will harm you in the divorce action. His “feels” are not your problem and are totally irrelevant. If he even mentions his feelings, hand him your phone and suggest he call someone who cares.

        I learned all of this the hard way. My children were adults when Mr. Anus of Satan made his final move. They told me of all the secrets they had held that THEY THOUGHT I KNEW and I was deliberately ignoring. He was playing all of us against each other. Don’t bullshit your children. They know more than you think they know.

        This is all very, very difficult. You have enough to navigate without attempting to be his unpaid PR person. I am sending BIG ((HUGS)) to you.

    • Sam I am
      I am so sorry that you are going through this. That you are in a great deal of pain is very clear in your posts. Unfortunately it usually gets worse before it gets any better. I am six months past multiple ddays after a 21 year marriage. Going back at least four years I found out about one, then two, then three affairs, then a porn habit, then dating websites. He never confessed to any of it. I had to suffer and dig for the truth. I don’t have it all now and know I never will.
      This site saved me from years of trying to save something that I never actually had. To realise that everything you thought this person was and would be is so utterly wrong is the most exquisite pain I have ever felt. I loved him and trusted him totally. Best advice I ever had was to stop trying to fix everything and stop talking and listen to what he actually says. It was unreal. He didn’t have a clue. No one clue.
      Trust this site. Chump princess is absolutely spot on with her advice.
      He is now the enemy. You have to protect yourself and reconnect with who you were and who you want to be now. Stamp on the rose tinted glasses. As nauseating as it is, you have to face your new reality. He sucks. Really really sucks. Get CL’s book. Read everything here over and over and you will begin to have some clarity and strength.
      We are all rooting for you. I genuinely hope you find your rage. It will help power you through. Big chumpy hugs to you. Keep posting.

    • Sam, the nerve of that fuckwit and his whore to insist that the kids should not know she is the AP!! And I presume the counsellor didn’t put him right on that. These people only care about themselves and their image, when they do the most disgusting things to those they are sworn to love and protect.
      As for the whore, let the whole world know what she is: a home wrecking whore. It’s not libel if it’s true. As others have said, let only your interests be your guide from now on. You are the one who has done the right thing all along, you are the only one protecting your kids.
      You did great to stand up for yourself, the truth and your kids’ right to not be taken for fools. You are mighty for standing up for yourself and behaving with such dignity through all this. I am so sorry you are going through all this. You can see from all the posts today that CN is on your side. Capricorn is right, he is your enemy now. Hope you have a pitbull lawyer. Big hugs.

  • As CL stated, teenagers can sniff out hypocrisy. Sam, it’s a safe bet that they already know why you’re divorcing. My parents split when I was 8 years old, I knew before they told me. My twin sons were just shy of 16 when my marriage imploded in a very similar way as yours. They both knew. In fact they each came to me separately, mustering brave faces to hide their hurt, and told me that they were certain their father was cheating on me. That hurt more than anything. Be honest with them, give them just the facts, and then be there for them to help them through, because if your experience is like mine, their father sure as hell won’t be. Your ex doesn’t get to call the shots anymore, what he wants doesn’t matter. If he cared enough about being a decent father he wouldn’t have screwed his secretary. Good Luck!!!

  • I have read a lot of Chump Lady’s articles. This is top-ten class easy.

    Wooooohee, Tracy. Don’t pull any punches do you?

    My favorite part is when you laughed and laughed at hubs (X) coming to his senses. SAM, THEY NEVER COME TO THEIR SENSES.

    I haven’t read all the comments, yet, but I learned here that the number they “picked out of the sky” is a tell; here it’s “10.” Ten years ago, Sam. 10 years ago was the first time he fucked somebody else. He sucks.

  • Please speak the truth. I told my then 12 yo dd, the truth about her unicorn father. She needed to know what kind of human he was (is) and his true character. I had told her through the years that I’d never lie to her, except at birthdays or Christmas, so I wasn’t about to start now. She knows he’s a narcissistic, and a cheater and he’s abandoned her. And while a court psychologist said I shouldn’t have told her, right in front of him I said, “give me a good reason why she shouldn’t know the truth and true character of the man she used to call dad?” They had no answer. Case closed.
    Tell. Tell the world they are cheaters. We. Did. NOTHING. Wrong to deserve the shit sandwich we were served while taking care of their children and house. Tell. And tell it LOUD. You did nothing wrong. Always be yruthful and theres never a lie to have to remember or get caught in.

  • My kids were 22 and 25 when I found about my x’s affairs. I told both of them IMMEDIATELY. He had already left me for his latest. They both feel as if he cheated on them as well as me. They have nothing to do with the OW, and never will. They have no respect for or interest in their father, although they still are in contact with him (my son works for him). Malignant narcissist that he is, he probably cannot even perceive the lack of depth in his relationships with them.

    I would have told them even if they’d been quite a bit younger. I think I speak for all of Chump Nation when I say that as painful as the truth may be, it’s always better than being deceived. In my kids’ case, they also have a mystery little brother (now 15 years old) as well. So it’s no wonder they feel cheated on. At least I can completely shed a former spouse; how can you shed blood relatives who might eventually pop out of the woodwork–for example, to contest your inheritance one day?

    I would agree with others who have said just give them the facts, don’t visit your own emotional shitstorm on them. They are going through their own trauma, they don’t need to deal with yours as well. I admit that I was not very good at this. I rationalized to myself that they were adults and therefore I could be as crazy externally around them as I felt internally. This was a huge mistake that I will always regret. Fortunately for all of us, time passed and I gained control over myself and some valuable perspective on the situation. I no longer torture them with my innermost thoughts and fears.

    Of course my x wanted me to keep quiet about the whole thing, not with just my kids, but with everyone we know. He asked his lawyer if he could have a gag order taken out on me! (Of course the answer was no.) Knowing I told the kids, he ordered them not to tell anyone (of course they have).

    The thing about secrets of this nature is that those who know will never tell your x they know. They’ll never go up to my x and say, “Hey, Champchump told me you have an illegitimate son by another woman, what’s the story on that?” Therefore, it’s easy for them to delude themselves that no one knows.

    I am, however, writing a book about my marriage and its ignominious end. I plan to self publish as a free e-book. I’m sure there will be a healthy audience for the tale among our friends and acquaintances in our small town.

  • Tracy you have had some moment of greatness on this site, many actually. But this might be one of the greatest. Thank you for putting this out so clearly.

    He is free to do what he wants but SO ARE YOU. The moment he stuck his dick in his secretary, he lost the privilege of you keeping his secrets.

    Mine attacked me for “spreading lies” about him. I said: “I simply told the truth, after all you even admitted these things. I just repeated what really happened. If you had saved an old lady from a burning building I would have told them that. Too bad you did something considerably less altruistic.”

    You should have seen the rant the ensued. Oh, well.

  • I found out my husband was having an affair for sure when he became overheated and took off his shirt after moving some furniture around; scratches all over his back (she obviously planned to break his family up). They were a “rash” he said! “That looks like fingernails to me!”, I said, and demanded to see his phone. He avoided me for 15 minutes after which I went through his text messages; nothing to see until I went into Whatsapp and there was all the evidence I needed to know. He shouts “we’re done!” , I shout “get out!” and he leaves. I lose my temper and rush round to the OW’s house (the town bike (I kid you not) and someone I had given help to when she was going through a hard time. I called her everything under the sun – inadvertently in front of her children aged 18 and 16 (wish to god I hadn’t because it’s not their fault she is what she is) – and then, still not in my right mind, I went home and told our children (14 and 12) that daddy doesn’t love me any more, he’s found someone else and we’re getting a divorce. As much as I heartily advocate telling your children, having been a child who wasn’t told something they really needed to know, THIS is NOT the way to go about it. Try to calm down and see things rationally first. Even though my husband is a first class, lying, cheating, POS, things could very easily have back-fired badly. So far they’re okay but the outcome could have been a lot worse and I’m still not really sure whether or not I’ve done any long-lasting damage. I wish to god I could take it all back but it’s too late. My only excuse is that I was beside myself with grief, pain and anger, but it’s no excuse for telling my kids the way I did. Take heed if you suspect your husband of playing away.

    • Indisguise
      You are me! See up thread for my story.
      Let’s forgive ourselves. It’s hard to be rational when your spouse and best friend has just stabbed you in the back.
      Our kids will hopefully be fine. My childhood was a mess and I’m ok. Theirs has been pretty great to date so I think they will be ok. I am ashamed of losing it so comprehensively as I am normally very controlled and measured but I was in deep shock.

  • It absolutely sickens me when I hear and read about chumps who say what their cheater wants or thinks! You know why? I did it too!
    SHUT THE FUCK UP CHEATER!!! YOU HAVE NO SAY THE SECOND YOU CHEATED! THIS IS MY LIFE……go fuck yours up more than you already have; I just want to be there to watch.

  • You don’t need his permission to do what you think is right. He didn’t ask you for yours.

  • This is my dilemma as well. The reason for my crying, pills and anxiety. My kid does not know yet. I went for a consultation just for that issue a few months ago. The psychologist just told me the script of sitting down “together” blah, blah we decided (yeah right!) I am not ready for that crap and I am not ready to see my kid’s face. I know I will be crying on top of that Mr. Asshole is still at home in separate rooms. Kid is smart already asked Mr. Cheater why he is not sleeping with me and he was so coward the made up something stupid. However kid does not ask me even though kid is 80% of the time with me since Mr. Cheater is traveling. Like you said kid already has an idea. It is sad and unfortunately I feel I will always have my heart broken more for my kid more than what A-hole did to me. As I am writing this I am crying. I have no idea when or how to tell my kid, maybe a few weeks before ahole leave the house.

    • Fico, I feel for you. In my reply above I describe blurting the long-concealed truth when my cheater ex (separated in-house as you are) berated me in front of our son.
      I’ll say it again. Shielding your cheater & your kid is walking a tightrope that will eventually snap. Don’t put it off. Don’t do what I and many other Chumps have done – told our kids (directly or indirectly) in an angry moment at our spouse.
      Instead, reveal it in a thoughtful, loving moment that says “I care about you & am here for you”.
      As bad as my reveal moment was for my son, it was TRULY epic as far as timing & knocking ex to the mat (figuratively of course, though I did give a couple of warning face-slaps before finally delivering the verbal knockout). It was SO freeing, & I felt such relief aside from the regret for my son.
      But even so, even though son took it hard (compounded by his incident which preceded this argument), when the dust settled both he & my daughter understood ‘what was wrong with mom’ for the past year. They were there for me, and they asked WHY I didnt leave ex sooner. Why’d I stay so long- I ” shouldnt have done that for them” -yes, they actually felt guilty! This is the world a cheater creates when HE (or she) remains the priority despite their absolute & devastating betrayal .

      So, my point is this: You have a chance to do this RIGHT. Don’t underestimate your kid’s ability to be there for you. To heal together & build a stronger relationship. This shit is eating away at you. The anxiety, the pills. Infidelity gifts us enough of this on it’s own. Don’t add another layer by carrying the load secretly. The tightrope WILL snap, & you don’t want that for your son or yourself.

      I personally feel that if your cheater isnt man enough to tell his truth, it’s your right to do it as you see fit – alone & without cheater censorship.
      It also does away with the uncomfortable ‘middle’ kids feel when both parents tell them. They can speak/ask questions more freely.
      By taking this first step,you can prepare your son for the watered down version & blameshifting his dad will give him.

      So please relieve yourself of this burden. As you’ve heard from many of us, kids KNOW. Now it’s time to help him understand.

  • My therapist told me to tell my son the truth because if he found out from someone else, she said my son may not trust me going forward. I told my son (young adult) and he has always been grateful I spoke the truth. Cheater was not happy. Hey, they didn’t care about how we felt, why the heck should we?

  • A little off subject, but I have a question for everyone. My nephew came to me and asked point blank if his mother ever had an affair (she did and she is now married to the affair partner). His father also had an affair and married his affair partner. My sister told her children their father’s affair was the reason for the breakup of the family and constantly disparaged him, he has since passed away, throughout their lives.

    I told my nephew, I didn’t know (even though I got this information from an extremely reliable source) and that he should ask his mother.

    I don’t think anyone else in the family knows the situation regarding my sister.

    I think this happens more than we realize.

  • CL,


    Knocked it out of the park!

    Tell the kids. Tell the kids. Tell the kids.

    He didn’t want to tell the kids. He wanted to use the “we grew apart” bullshit. My children (although 25 and 23 at the time) had their lives imploded. No way was I going to let them think this was just two people who grew apart. They deserved the truth and I told xhole when we were still communicating, “The kids will figure it out…we raised a couple of smart ones.” Although we told them, it would have been easy for them to figure out when he moved in with her a week later, introduced her 3 months later, and married her a year later.

    There was no way I was going to become a liar to my kids to cover up for a liar.

  • Sounds like my situation-he was in an affair with his secretary. I put his ass out the house with only his clothes and have not allowed him to drive up in my driveway or near my home and I haven’t looked back. Fuck not telling the kids-I told them and all the dirty shit he did too. They are girls and I didn’t want them thinking that shit-bag did it to me so they should accept it from their future mate. Besides they already knew but wanted to keep their family together until they realized I knew and the pain it caused. While in counseling I found out they wrote it in their dairy a year before that they knew he was cheating-so it’s likely Sam your kids already know so hurry and tell them the truth. Shit-bag hates me because I told them and whoever I come in contact with-I don’t give a shit about him. He wrote this story, not me! He threatens to stop financial support all the time but I am not worried-little does he know I have been promoted and will be just fine w/o his financial support. Don’t shrink back-stand your ground-I didn’t give up anything but a serial cheater and my oh my does it feel wonderful…so refreshing! I inherited this attitude from CN-thanks everyone for your encouragement! Stay on this blog and share with others. Be careful with those counselors too; after just a couple of sessions I realized she was no good for us so we marched home and started to heal emotionally our way and we are doing great. Kids heal from the truth and not being forced to have relationships with shit-bags who can’t control their penis. Shit-bags showcase as “decent dads” but are so emotionally empty-I wish my ex would meet his AP kids and stay the hell out of my daughters lives…I don’t think I will get that lucky. Best wishes!

  • Hi Sam,
    Please save yourself the money going to a counsellor together to work out what to say, it’s pretty simple – Dad is in a relationship with OW and that is unacceptable in a marriage. Give your ex a time or just do it yourself if he wants to delay. Mine was the same, trotted out the “miserable for years” excuse, and “how dare you tell anyone I was having an affair with (elder son’s) teacher, it’s an innocent friendship”. It felt so wrong – he was strutting around like s smug peacock and I was crying and shell-shocked. By the time he moved out 2 weeks later I forced him to sit down with me and tell them (8 and 10) that he was leaving because he wanted to be with OW. Yes it hurts, but being gaslit does far more damage than the painful truth. Spend that counsellor bc money on something nice for yourself.

  • It is sad how us chumps are here analysing if we should tell the kids the truth, if we have, did we do it properly?
    This is all wrong. We are over-thinking the reaction to the cheaters awful behaviour.
    Turn this around. There would be no need to even think about any of this, had the cheaters behaved as decent people.
    I wish I had told my kids in a calmer way. However I am human. The kids are quite capable of being in moods, getting angry etc so why are we expected to be cool, calm, androids when our lives have just exploded? A parent yes,but also a human with feelings.
    Be real. Be truthful. I think if you hide the truth it also implies you somehow agree with what the cheater does. You don’t, so speak up. Teach your kids what you think is right. They then get to choose for themselves.
    My ex had parents who both cheated but stayed married. They really had an awful marriage, but went to dinner parties etc and pretended for 50 years while being vile to each other. She became the heart of her village, and he had a flat elsewhere but nipped home for social gatherings. Lots of drama.
    Great role models they were…..
    I would rather my kids at least knew there is another way to live, and its OK to think cheating is wrong.

  • Lying to the kids is typical image management, but the kids already know in most cases and it makes the cheater look even worse in their eyes.

    liars pants on fire

  • If the cheater didn’t want other people, including his children, to know he’s a cheater then he shouldn’t have cheated. Simples, innit?
    You have to be honest with them, especially as they are not small children. Ignore the halfwits who murmur about ‘bitterness’ and all that sort of shyte. If you’re an honest person, then be honest with the children because what kind of message are you sending them otherwise? More than ever, they need at least ONE good role model right now!
    You don’t have to tell them your OPINION of the scumbag. Just stick to the facts. The TRUTH. No need to describe him as the scumbag he is, because believe me, if you are honest with the unadorned facts, one day they will work out for themselves what he is, without any input from you.
    And the truth will also help them when they eventually realise that he is not just a cheater and by default therefore, a liar.
    As well as being a cheater, he’s also proved that, like most cheaters – he’s a sociopathic narcissist too because such monobeings never consider the consequences of their usually impulsive actions, whilst being desperate to project/maintain a ‘perfect’ image that is ludicrously false.
    They can be very intelligent on one level but they don’t even consider how their own heinous conduct may eventually affect themselves let alone how it impacts on others. And they don’t and wouldn’t care about the latter anyway. Life is all about THEM, no-one else. Not even schmoopie, who is just a can of fuel, a blood bank, whatever – feeding him his drug of choice (OTT attention).
    They are also pathological liars, usually thieves too (not just financially), never admit when they’re wrong, never think they ARE ever wrong, blame-shift endlessly, refuse to be accountable or responsible, have a seriously distorted sense of entitlement and behave like addicts (they would sell their grannies for sixpence to feed their addiction).
    They disturbingly think that obsessive attention is ‘love’, project their flaws and their despicable conduct onto others (i.e. you mainly); they smear, slander and defame the innocent, objectify other human beings and have no empathy, compassion or love for anybody but themselves.
    Not even their own children. Not even the often equally unhinged ‘schmoopie’ (some of whom are even more deranged than your primary cheater but that’s another story). No, they really don’t love the schmoopies either; they CANNOT because they are not wired correctly. There’s a fuse missing in their brains.
    Things are never what they may APPEAR to be. It is all an illusion. A theatre play, where the cast and often the location is replaced by the director/producer.
    Even if the pair of lowlifes end up getting married, don’t lose any sleep over it! If marriage and a family means nothing to him now, it never will.
    TRUTH, integrity, loyalty, honesty, respect, LOVE….none of these things are part of who he is. The children will see that one day.
    But they need to see that those things are part of YOU. So let them see! Tell them the truth. Show them that there is at least one person in their lives who they can trust. Who will not make endless broken promises to them, steal from them, betray them, let them down or LIE to them.

  • I told my told my teenage daughters that their mother cheated numerous times with my their coaches because they needed to know the truth about her and those skumbags. She spent her time and our money going to see and screw them when she could have been with us. My daughters are pissed and she has been trying to rationalize it by making excuses why she did it. She even told my older daughter that a lot of people in this world have cheated, Like that made it OK. She is so delusional and cannot seem to be able to take the blame. She’s the one who ruined the family and I’m not going let anyone think it was a mutual divorce.

  • It took me DECADES to end the manipulation that started with the adultery. We had a 12 year old and a 6 year old at the time and while I was doing everything in my power to protect him and the children he was doing everything in his power to destroy me and our marriage. The lies went on for decades minimizing the involvement and then twenty years after the fact the cunt calls him at work on his cell phone. This went on another four or five times (including one conversation where she flatly stated that she was separated – he told her he was sorry to hear it). I tried to be patient but finally told him that he needed to shut her down or that I would so the last phone encounter (called his work phone since the cell phone numbers became private) he shut her down in the first 60 seconds. That was four years ago. Since then I have been in therapy trying to deal with the fallout of decades of being manipulated. Now I am on the verge of outing this adultery to the cunt’s husband. I feel like he deserves to know and even though I was reassured many years ago that he knew about the adultery and did not care I do now not believe it. I guess I feel like the man should know who his wife was involved romantically with so that if he comes sniffing around again the betrayed will realize that this is a threat… not an old friend and co worker. Self compassion is difficult for some of us to learn. IT has taken me a solid four years to have any kind of compassion for myself. His adultery had huge consequences on my life and my world view and had I to do it all over again I would have thrown him out on his ear and not looked back. So now, if his adultery finally has some consequences for him- so be it. I have suffered for a lifetime and feel giddy at the possibility.

  • I have 10 year old and 9 year old daughters. I am petrified that if I tell them my STBX will use it against me once we file and try to make me out to be a bad parent. My greatest fear is not having my daughters and I know he will do anything to fuck with me on this matter.

    This morning was official D-Day – found the texts, etc.

    How should I tell them? I feel they need to know, but I am afraid of him as well.

    • I would seek legal counsel first and then get all the necessary paperwork in order before you poke that wasp nest! They get really pissed when you tell the kids about your replacement!

  • How many of your exes stayed with the affair partner? For how long? I wish I had a crystal ball. Everyone says it won’t last, but I know there are those relationships that do. Just curious.

    He swears, even after I found the zillion “I love you” texts that they are just friends. I want to believe it, I am still a chump.

    I am proceeding with the divorce process, don’t get me wrong, but I am still ashamed to say that I am smoking very trace amounts of hopium. That, and I fell off the no contact wagon. I’m just having a bad day.

    Thanks for your feedback.

    • I divorced X for an affair from 8 years prior. Turns out he had a current squeeze the year before the divorce, whom he convinced to leave her husband. They are still together 2 years later, but…Current squeeze is on anti-depressants. All is not happy in Schmoopieland.

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