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When You’re the Parent in the Relationship

memes_hipster_disney_peter_pan-s500x375-144224-580One common thread I see running through a lot of stories here is that the chump is takes a parental role in the relationship. Gah! This person won’t pay the bills/watch the children/work a job and I must do this and then they resent me for it!

Totally maddening.

I was completely guilty of being Mommy in my first marriage, and baffled by it, because he was 10 years older than I was and you’d think he would’ve worked out the basics of Adult Responsibility. He had a job he’d held for many years and owned a home, so on first glance he seemed normal enough. But when I was married to him awhile, the guy couldn’t pay bills on time — or at all. (Part of this was OCD, he freaked out if anyone touched his papers, but I learned about his anxiety disorder years into the relationship.) He also couldn’t/wouldn’t clean things.

So not only was I doing the lion’s share of the adult work, I was resented for it. Which made me totally lose respect for him, and pissed me off no end. And he was pissed off… but I could never figure out why. Because I’m organized? (I’m not terribly organized, ask anyone who knows me.) At some point the dynamic dawned on me, like that Miller Lite beer ad (tastes great, less filling) — All the control! None of the responsibility!

To a chump — why would you want control if you weren’t going to be responsible?

Wrong question to a disordered person. The answer is always ” Because you are not the boss of me.”

Now, of course, the healthy thing to do in a relationship like that is speak up. “Uh, we’re both adults here. The mortgage needs to be paid. What’s your plan on that? How should we approach this?”

If the freak is true to type, they’ll feed you some line that they’re going to get around to it. Or the check is in the mail, or some such. And then inevitably we discover… that’s not true. Or they’ll blameshift and tell you you’re a hard ass. Bills, schmills.

So, if you’re not a chump — you’ll connect the dots. This person’s actions demonstrate they don’t give a shit. And I need to act on that. Like consider a divorce, because we don’t share values and I can’t be the only adult here.

If you ARE a chump — you won’t connect the dots or act in your best interest. You’ll accommodate and resent. You’ll be afraid of your sunk costs. You’ll spackle. (Well, I guess child care/bill paying/cooking dinner/working isn’t their thing…) And you’ll arrange your life in such a way that Peter Pan/Petra Pan gets to live in Never Neverland.

Life becomes a game of chicken. Who is going to pay the mortgage? Who is going to care for the children? If you’re a chump, you feel a tremendous amount of anxiety at those things not happening. A disordered person? Little to no adaptive anxiety. They’re cool cucumbers in the face of disaster, mostly because they have you sussed — you’ll take care of it. Of course you will, Chump-o. The chump always caves. The chump needs order over chaos.

And if you’re deeply chumpy, you’ll feel this is your role. You need to be needed. You need to be that guy with his finger in the dyke. The metropolis would drown without you!

But you’ll seethe. There’s no way to keep your finger in the dyke and enjoy other aspects of life. You’re stuck there saving everyone from disaster.

If this sounds like your marriage — you’ve become the Parent, the kind of person who seethes at the immaturity of their roommates. Ever live with a teenager? There’s a reason the wealthier classes send them all off to live in boarding schools, quarantined from  polite society — they suck to live with. Between the hormonal drama, the obliviousness to chores, and the feigned helplessness, there isn’t a lot to recommend the experience, except that eventually teenagers grow up.

Peter Pan never grows up.

And Peter Pan never finds you sexy. You don’t live in Never Neverland with Tinkerbell. You live in some drab, gray London and care about life insurance and pruning the garden.

Here you are, smoothing out the chaos, you think they’d recognize your value. Oh, they do — as someone who smoothes out their chaos. But a soul mate? No. You don’t sparkle with fairy dust. You’re not terribly spontaneous or fun.

Yeah, well being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in a marriage does it? Being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in child care either. Someone has to be the heavy, if you’re doing it right. But marriage is not supposed to be heavy. You’re supposed to share burdens together with reciprocity and mutual respect.

Peter Pan doesn’t respect Wendy. He just needs her.

If you’re married to someone like this — let the fantasy world have them. Come over to the land of adulthood. There are some nice people here. And we keep our rooms tidy and our bills paid. And the gardens are really well cared for.

This column ran previously. Happy MLK Day!

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  • I don’t know when it hit me that I was the parent in our relationship but I knew for certain by the end. I remember one night when he had his work friends over (I offered to host so he would stay home instead of going out to drink and drive) and it was getting late (after 2:00 am) so I started picking up trash. As I was grabbing empty beer bottles he looked over at me and said…(wait for it)….”Mother, can you do that later?” His friends fell over themselves laughing because he (they thought) drunkenly called me his mom but in my gut I knew that was how he really thought of me. From that point forward I noticed it more and more and knew beyond a doubt that the only role he had for me was cleaning up after him (Mommy) and not as a wife/partner. Thank goodness he is in my rear view mirror. Happy MLK day everyone and let’s all keep marching on toward peace in MEH land!

    • what a hurtful, nasty thing to say. How humiliating and belittling to you, even totally leaving aside the whole ”being the parent” thing. Calling you names and mocking you in front of his friends to get a laugh, using you as cannon fodder for a bit of bullying.

      What a total douche.

  • My situation may be pretty common too: I was the adult in all but finances. He controlled all that, and for good reason, in retrospect: so I could not keep track of his expenditures.

    But in all other respects, I was the responsible adult. The parent. Actually, a specific parent, in his mind: his mother. Whom he deeply resented for childhood traumas, her own narcissism and lack of emotional intelligence, etc. Somehow, unbeknownst to me, my contours and hers merged in his psyche some time very early in the relationship. And then it didn’t help that in time I became a mother too, at his request, and actually took care of the kids and made a home for all of us. That just added to his displaced anger, for reasons that I am leaving to his shrink to unpack on day. So he ran away even more furiously than before, acting out and soothing his ego the only way he knew: porn, strip joints and massage parlors, prostitutes, one-night stands, and girlfriend-experience types.

    The last 10-15 years of the relationship, he was barely there for the kids, he never got to learn to be a present and communicative dad, he never fed them or bought them clothes or packed them for school or for vacation or woke up with them or showed up in the emergency room when they needed stitches. He also never learned to do a decent grocery shop or vacuum — he did that only once in the entire time we were in the last apartment: when we had an open house to sell the place as part of the divorce. My kids are more helpful during any given week than he ever was in the entire 20 years of the relationship that way. But now he’s telling me that he “took care of everything” just because he controlled the finances.

    I rant a little here and there, but I’m at meh. Like chastity, narcissism is its own punishment.

    • theother
      Just out of curiosity any tips on getting to meh after this type of relationship?
      I had the exact same one. Struggling to disentangle myself and to actually recognise my own needs and shove them further up the to-do list.
      Especially with the kids. My older ones seem fine but my 11 year old worries me.

      • Dear Capricorn, I’m afraid I don’t have a magic potion. Just supporting friends and family — lots of them!; therapy and a good 12-step group for families of sex addicts; lots of exercise and yoga and looking at the sky and reading good books and watching good films; forcing myself to have fun again, including dating again — and realizing in the process that I still the capacity for trust, communication, and love.

        It helped that he has been acting in a highly insensitive, sometimes aggressive, manner throughout all this — every insensitive thing he did was actually a favor, and it helped me detach and expect less and less of him. It also helped that he “moved on” very early on, proving that he is not working on himself, but rather desperate to regain his false image once again — and that his new partner is not someone I will ever be envious of, and not just because she is his new victim. And it helped, eventually, that I found someone who loves me in the most generous, emotionally open way, someone who is honest to the point of comedy, and sexy and smart and interesting enough to make me feel like D-Day was actually a fucking gift.

        Do I still get triggered on occasion? You bet I do. Do I still have anger? You bet your ass I do, and I hold anger in high esteem — it’s a signal I know who I am. Do I still regret spending over two decades in a relationship with a stunted human? I certainly do.

        But I have come to the realization that I cannot change the past or him, and that, thank god, I like myself enough that I don’t think I need to change anything other than small specific behaviors. And that is MEH to me. Only two years after D-Day. Can’t wait for twenty! I’ll be over 60 then, but, boy, this will seem like ancient history!

      • Dear Capricorn: I forgot to answer about the kids. That part I’m not MEH about. I know I can’t control what he does in his own home and on his own time with them, but if he messes with them I’m ready to CUT him. (Yes, that bad. Not a figure of speech) He has conflicts with our teenager so he wants send him to military school? Over my dead body. He wants to surprise the youngest with a new mommy on Christmas? I will do EVERYTHING so that he does it the right way, at the right time. So yeah, I’m not at MEH where the kids are concerned, and that won’t change for a long time.

        But as for the rest, doing some consistent, solid self-care is what it’s all about: it helps remind me how much I respect and like myself, where my boundaries are, and what my value really is. And, truth be told, having the kids with my ex for part of the time helps a lot with that part. When we were married, I used to be on 24/7 as the only real parent. Now I can shift my attention to myself, to friends, to books, to music, to whatever I and no one else want to do, at least for part of the time. Take. Every. Minute.

        If this long thing helps you even a little bit, even for one second, I’ll be a very happy woman.

        • “He has conflicts with our teenager so he wants send him to military school? Over my dead body.” That was my X to a tee. Instead of engaging our son, trying to understand the reasons he was acting out, and participating in family therapy, he just wanted to ship him off somewhere. Military school, boarding school, wilderness camp, you name it.

          Chumpy me entertained each of these proposals and researched them, since of course X couldn’t be bothered. Thankfully, I found my spine, said no, and went to therapy with our son myself, right here at home. Now I can clearly see that X simply wanted to wash his hands of any messy parenting responsibilities and let someone else deal with it instead.

          • I’m afraid outsourcing is a first, rather than a last resource, for them, because it saves them from having do any heavy-lifting parenting-wise.

            • Listened to X rant that he was going to send our then teenage son to military school.
              Outsourcing, X didn’t want to participate in anything that requires a little effort especially when it comes normal human understanding or to explain logically a situation.
              X would boast and be proud of himself for not speaking to our son for six weeks over some silly argument regarding some karate move they disagreed on while our son was practicing his karate.
              Another of X’s discipline was ridicule, I cringe thinking about the demeaning things X would say to our son. When i’d ask X to please stop he’s start laughing and call our son a mommy’s boy.. he’d say what are you? a Mommy’s boy, your mom has to fight your battles for you? I wish I would have taken a stronger stance back then.
              I still have stacks of parenting books in my book case from parenting classes offered through the school district and books I had purchased on my own because I wanted to be the best parent I could and learn different parenting strategies.
              He wasn’t interested in picking up one let alone read one.

    • How are there so many of us out there? This is my story too. I’m waiting five years post divorce to see how crappy his credit gets without me paying the bills on time….or at all. Pretty sure it will be a good laugh if I still care. Still working on meh, but closer every day!

      • LOL, me too! Discovering the mountain of credit card debt he’d amassed without my knowledge was one of the first triggers that got me questioning everything else. Without me there to manage the debt and find ways to pay it off, I can’t imagine it will be long before his credit rating takes a hit.

        • Me three.
          He “handled” the finances until he had basically buried us under a mountain of debt. I assumed I could trust him as he had a degree in Finance. When all was lost, he turned the job over to me to “fix” the situation. It took me years and by that time I was more than resentful because he really didn’t bring anything to the table at all. No help with the kids, cooking, cleaning, etc. AND he called me “mommy” even though I repeatedly told him that it bothered me and I was not his mother. Then I began to discover the cheating. What a nightmare of a marriage. Looking forward to that Tuesday when someone asks me “How are you?” and I can seriously answer “Meh” with a grin on my face ;D

    • I totally identify with your description ; “psyche merged with his mother” u could almost feel it happen but he always left me hanging like I was imagining things were wrong. Now in retrospect- internally he was seething with an bunch of unresolved mummy issues and I was the closest punching bag. His immaturity also extended to spending and as the ‘man’ he felt he needed to command the finances which is why today we are bankrupt and he is blaming me for not agreeing to sell the house as soon as he abandoned us all before Xmas . never mind we had no where to live I was constantly harrased for his financial woes even though this involved entertaining the OW instead of paying child support. Never wanted to really grow up but did a good act at pretending. I should have really noticed the peter pan syndrome when he packed up stuff he HAD to have to furnish his new bachelor pad and insisted on bringing all the family board games !! After all the kids don’t play them – dad is much more in need .

  • “Life becomes a game of chicken. ”

    I experienced that with my passive aggressive husband.

  • I felt ill reading this post. It’s me. I did all the deeply chumpy things. I was not just a Parent but I felt guilty about being a Parent of my spouse and so tried to encourage him to grow up and just bloody help. Because the other side of it for me was that deep panic and anxiety. I was trying to keep the whole ship afloat while he controlled the money and speeding tickets, bills, credit cards just were never paid until legal notices came flooding through the door. As I was a child of divorce that was plunged into proper poverty after my dad left I was terrified of money and so needed him to ‘take care of me’ in that way. I did EVERYTHING else, he was to work and save. Yes well we all know how that goes.
    And I was blamed and ridiculed for being uptight, not spontaneous, no fun. The ‘funny’ joke in our family is that I could never actually enjoy anything in the moment but I would enjoy it only when it was all over. Because I was the only one responsible for everything- everyone else just had a great relaxed time knowing it would all run smoothly.
    Thank you for this today. I had me seen this post before. God. I thought I used to be good at connecting the dots drawings! Turns out I’m a bit Dali in that respect in real life.
    This came at just the right time. I woke up afraid of the impending divorce and thought hey maybe a judicial separation wouldn’t be so bad. Still married but living apart. Madness right ?
    I’ve got a lot of living my life to catch up on. Just wish it felt easier and more fun, not scary and overwhelming. I guess when you actually do have kids you have to continue to be the parent.
    Fab post today. I am sooo chumpy.

    • Cap – you got this! One step at a time. And if you really think about all the complicated shi% you handled then you’ll understand managing your finances is no big deal AND I’ll bet you end up with a savings account instead of nothing! As I flashback I remember a time when I was afraid to answer the phone (bill collectors) and would just let it ring (like not acknowledging them was going to work – SMH) and it never bothered him. So when he would earn his commission I would have to beg for it so I could pay bills. He told me then that “all you care about Who is money for bills and as soon as I get it you take it all away”. About a year after he left, when I still snooped (don’t now – thanks NC) I looked at her FB page. She had a picture of 100 dollar bills (lots of them too) with a tag line of Yippee. About the third comment down was her “frowny” face and a note that it was all gone now – for bills! OMG I laughed my @ss off and it still brings a smile to my face today. And yes I pay my bills in full each month and my savings account is slowly growing! Hang in there Cap – I know you can do this.

      • Thanks WhoamINow
        I just decided a few days ago to get an accountant. After the divorce he will still be responsible for bills and mortgage and support but for me it feels like I am very much under his financial yoke still. Until I get back into paying work and build up savings I feel very much at risk from his financial shenanigans.
        Also I think this is why I feel almost obligated to make sure he is emotionally stable even after the divorce because we are all still financially dependent on him.
        I have no idea yet if time will sort this out or I need to be more proactive.
        Thanks for the reassurance- means a lot.

        • All you need to do is enforce whatever orders are in place. Put aside ”will he… won’t he”. Let the consequences happen as they happen. And they will happen if you allow them. I totally take the point it will be incredibly irksome for you financially, if and when he simply refuses to Let You Be The Boss Of Him, but the sooner you just get specific orders in place and then rigidly get your lawyer to enforce them so that it becomes easier for HIM to just cough up and be organised, the sooner you will be able to set that anxiety down. You will be frustrated to tears because this is an excellent way for him to remain central and pivotal to you, so you do indeed need to get cracking on sorting your own financial means as soon as is practical, but never give even an inch on anything. Document every single infraction, not to him, to your lawyer and then make the consequences deeply hurt him in a clinical way… only when it hurts him will he stop. Sad, but true.

        • You are under no obligation to make sure he is emotionally stable. Let your lawyer make sure the settlement order is iron clad and let him worry about his obligations and suffer the consequences. Meanwhile, take care of yourself. My therapist told me something that helped me. I used to work myself up thinking he should do x, y or z. Instead, now I say to myself that I would prefer he do it. A one word change in my thinking has helped me let go of feeling obligated for what he does or does not do.

          Good luck and stay strong.

          • I agree with Lisa, Capricorn. You are not responsible for anyone else’s emotional welfare — last of all, his! Also, when in doubt, as yourself: did he care about the emotional effects of his actions on you? And there you have it.

    • I just want to chime in and say, “Me, too.” I grew up in a lower middle-class family, and I am terribly afraid of poverty. I have amassed a fairly substantial savings, have a good career, and I am STILL afraid of poverty. As soon as I found out I was getting divorced, I went into “lockdown” financial mode: started shopping only what was absolutely needed and very very thrifty — this in spite of a continued substantial income. It’s my adaptive mode: thrift.

      You’ll be OK. As someone here said, you’ll probably end up better off than when married because you won’t have that drain. — I can’t address the legal stuff, but take a deep breath and realize the attorney’s fees are all a means to a better end and ultimately worth it. Similarly, having a good accountant. I was grateful to have had a longstanding relationship ship with my accountant when I got a letter from the IRS this past year; I was being audited because I had been married to XH at the time of some improper business dealings (yay.). I called my accountant and said, “I do not wish to speak to XH. How much would it cost for you to just handle all this?” It was well worth the $200 to not have to talk to XH.

      • Me too, as well. After growing up in a household where there was never enough of anything to go around, I know how to budget for the needs and save for the wants. It was tough during the divorce, because the price of keeping the Fucktard out of our house was to pay all the household bills myself. No problem. I could live on a couple of Taco Bell tacos day for a while when the situation required it. No joke. After covering everything else from the mortgage to the fish food, I had a whopping $3 a day to spend any way I wanted, including food for myself. I managed with what I had and I lost 35 pounds to boot. It was totally worthwhile because I didn’t let him see me sweat, I didn’t fold, and when he saw the suddenly younger, thinner and prettier me in court he shit little purple turtles. In his mind, I was supposed to fall apart and let him wipe his feet on me some more. In reality, I was competent enough to wipe my feet on him for a while, which I must confess felt pretty good.

        And when the IRS came around for their audit, the shit knew better than to include me in the meeting or payment schedule.

      • Mine got around my tendency to control the finances by having his own business. I didn’t realize how much cash he was blowing until I took a pile of business banking statements and saw these large cash withdrawals. I know that some of it was definitely for his whore (literally his whore) because she was “doing work for the business” and getting paid for it cash off the books. I somehow doubt that their arrangement included her submitting itemized invoices and him paying her via check, and her reporting the income to the IRS. It was actually one of the tools that I had in my arsenal if things had gone sideways… I was going to basically make him account for all that cash/hire a forensic accountant. Fortunately it never came to that.

        But based on his super shady business dealings, and the fact that he is a fucking narcissist so stuff like rules from IRS don’t apply to him (’cause he’s so so special), and the fact that his whore was like his assistant from his day job, and “working” for his personal business… I had some concerns about legal trouble. Either from the IRS or in the form of a sexual harassment lawsuit. My divorce settlement says basically “If I have to hire a lawyer, you are paying for it.” If I have to get a lawyer, take time off work, travel or otherwise deal with trouble due to the fact you are an asshole you are paying for it.

      • it me, too

        Coming here and seeing cheaters set fire to 35-year marriages and wipe out everything gave me perspective. STBXW and I both grew up so poor. But I did all the books and housekeeping. She just sparkles. 8 years and two degrees I supported her, but once I got a chronic-progressive diagnosis and some of the work was offloaded to her? Oh, no, slave boy. I need a man who can hire more help.

        So, like a monkey, she caught the next vine before she fully let go of mine.

  • You definitely described my relationship to a tee. I ran the whole household and arranged my life to accomodate his peter pan ways. He was a bottomless pit of need and within a few years he had me running in circles to try and make him happy but nothing seemed to satisfy him. Added to this I was deeply chumpy and throughout my life loved to be needed and took pride in being the one who was the problem solver and always put others before myself. I found it so difficult to manage everything at times and the anxiety you describe would build at things not happening and it would fall on me to find a solution. To add salt to the wounds when he left to be with schoomkins one of the main reasons he gave was that I was a control freak and convinced my children of that as well. So while he was off with someone who sparkled I was the “no fun to be around” one trying to save everyone from disaster thinking it was so wonderful most times feeling so needed (mistaking this for love).

    Here you are, smoothing out the chaos, you think they’d recognize your value. Oh, they do — as someone who smoothes out their chaos. But a soul mate? No. You don’t sparkle with fairy dust. You’re not terribly spontaneous or fun.

    Yeah, well being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in a marriage does it? Being a parent doesn’t bring out your best self in child care either. Someone has to be the heavy, if you’re doing it right. But marriage is not supposed to be heavy. You’re supposed to share burdens together with reciprocity and mutual respect.

    Peter Pan doesn’t respect Wendy. He just needs her.

    If you’re married to someone like this — let the fantasy world have them. Come over to the land of adulthood. There are some nice people here. And we keep our rooms tidy and our bills paid. And the gardens are really well cared for.

  • Oh my God yes to this. The fact that I speak better French (we live in France) was always his excuse to let me do everything, although I don’t know how my superior French stopped him from pushing a vacuum cleaner around. I like my life organized and to know that the bills are paid but as someone else said I was accused of never being “spontaneous”! Yeah right, his idea of spontaneous was to take thousands out of our Swiss and French accounts (we work in Switzerland) and spend it in the bar or on his whore or on whatever! As an aside, after I had him blocked from my salary account he still managed to spend thousands in just one month and I had to fight the UBS bank to get it back – but hey, I won!! I used to do all the housework and ironing, homework, etc. despite working full-time also and earning more than him. After he left with the skank and then after she dumped him he ended up having to do it all on his own and I don’t think he liked it. And as for me speaking better French – you’ve been here 30 years asshole learn it!

        • It was a joke (since an off/on switch in French shouldn’t have prevented him from learning to use a vacuum cleaner).

          However, internet research reveals that most vacuum cleaners do not have language on their on/off switch, merely a vertical line or an O. Factoid of the day.

    • Attie, funny how he knew French well enough to make arrangements to fuck some strange behind your back.

      How did they communicate? Sign language? Act out charades? He waved money at her and pointed to his nether regions?

      What a scumbag. Congrats on taking out the trash!

      They NEVER appreciate what they’ve got, do they?

      Glad she dumped him and his lazy entitled ass has to do for himself.

      • I think she saw his paycheck and managed to make herself understood! And strangely enough all the other guys in the OK Corral managed to make themselves understood enough to get him (and therefore me ‘cos is came out of the joint bank account) to buy rounds of drinks.

  • Yeah ….

    Loved being the grown-up w/xhole. Amazing, the man made 3x what I did, yet pissed away every fucking cent on baseball cards, bubble gum & hand-painted assholes. In the iterim, I paid the bills (mine & his), and saved up the down payment for the house.

    Yep, if only I’d been smarter to see that giant waving flag ….

    • Just lol-spit my coffee at “hand-painted assholes”. Had quite a literal picture in my head, thanks for the morning laugh Waffles.

  • Kunty Kibbler was always hyper organized, always super early for meetings and social engagements, and always extraordinarily frustrated when others weren’t either of those things — she’d call them ‘lazy’ and ‘disrespectful and rude.” I call it just more manifestations of her need to control others.

    But what really resonates for me here today is what theotherwhitemansburden mentions about her cheater’s mother: “Whom he deeply resented for childhood traumas, her own narcissism and lack of emotional intelligence, etc.”

    KK and I went to couples counseling 3 times together before I called a halt to the madness. The counselor offered to see me individually thereafter, and I agreed. In our first 1:1 session, she said straight out: “I listened to KK very carefully over those three sessions, and I hope you realize that what she really wants was for you to be her father. It’s up to you if you want to play that role for her.”

    It was one of those lightbulb moments — for 15 years I’d been hearing about how much she resented her father, his emotional distance, how he never paid enough attention to her, and how he would never be able to make up for all of the shitty things he’d done to her. And now here she was, heaping all of that same shit on me.

    I have no idea whether or not her father was any of those things — at this point, as she’s demonstrated that honesty is not one of her strong points, I now question everything she ever told me. But I do now see that she looked to me to make her feel whole and fill her sense of entitlement — and when she decided I wasn’t doing a good enough job any longer, she simply discarded me emotionally.

    • UXW,

      They’re really all the same.

      My cheating stbxw used to rail on about her dad cheating on her mom, treating her badly, etc. After I had to become the responsible parent and clean up after her constant financial messes, guess who got to be the target of that daddy aggression?

      The last AP is a douchebag her dad’s age who is widely loathed in the area and lives off of his mom’s family money.

      Daddy issues, much?

      • Oh yes. Except her AP is broke and therefore not a suitable cohabitation partner just a caricature of a father. This causes me much chagrine because they’d be so perfect together without any alimony from me.
        I realized on my own she had 3 dads. One she feared, one that was responsible and hardworking (whom she punished) and one she loved (but to his own family was very much like her real dad). Thankfully they got me to.foot the bill.

      • I heard the same from my husband: ” He would never be like his dad and cheat”. H’s dad always had girlfriends and wife put up with it. Now I see more of H’s dad coming out in him. Caught H texting, calling and seeing pixs of the OW, but he claims he never met her or had sex. How can you act that way about someone you”ve never met? Doesn’t really matter, the damage is done.

        He moved out of our bedroom right after I found out about “sweetie” and he told me he “wanted to know what it was like to be single. That I was too controlling and demanding and tried to control him”. This from a man that did whatever he wanted while I stated at home and was responsible for everything else. I’m tired of being MOTHER. I’ve got to get my act together and get out.

        • CrazyLady, my ex was like yours, with lots of statements early on, about what a jerk his cheating, violent father was, and how his mean stepfather didn’t appreciate his mom. It made me feel like he really valued family and good character. Hah! He was saying what he knew I wanted to hear.

          He ended up just as mean as his stepfather, and while he cheated less consistently than his father, and was less violent (never actually hurt me, just scared the shit out of me, and our kids), I think even that was because those things aren’t as socially acceptable as in his dad’s heyday, and I set better boundaries than his mother did.

          • Oh, I wanted to say I hope you can get out soon! You know we’re here if you need help strategizing or want some support. We get it, including how hard it can be to leave.

    • UXworld, the truth is that most cheaters with intimacy issues badly need parents. They probably needed them early on, to model love and intimacy for them, to teach them boundaries and discipline them, to just show them that they and their actions matter. That’s why they end up doing what they do — ultimately, it’s because they are damaged humans. With mine, I too fell into the trap of thinking that love can save someone who had a traumatic childhood. Never again. Now I listen carefully to the way someone describes their parents before anything else. Not in the business of saving anyone anymore. It’s a failing business.

      • “Now I listen carefully to the way someone describes their parents before anything else.” I totally agree that cheaters with intimacy issues are the way they are because of their FOO issues, however, many cheaters parents come across as “normal” and you’d never know how fucked up their childhoods were. If you met my MIL you would think she is grounded, authentic and wise beyond her years.

        My stbx always put her up on a pedestal, she was a single mother with 6 kids (her choice – after 18 years of marriage she wasn’t happy and sought to recapture her early 20’s which she missed out on because she got married so young so she left the house for a few months and lived the life of a single woman complete with an affair, partying, etc.). After the divorce she worked FT and went back to school and earned her bachelor’s, a master’s and then her PhD. Sounds impressive but the reality was that her success came at the cost of neglecting her own kids. Tragically, several of them were sexually abused during this time by a local teenage boy. The older siblings parented their younger ones because my MIL was never around. They were scraping to get by and decent clothes, stocked cupboards and a warm house were foreign concepts. My FIL was as present as he could be in his kids’ lives but he remarried and had 3 step children. My stbx has spent his whole life trying to fill the immeasurable void he has felt his entire life because he didn’t get what he needed from his parents. Without my realizing it he sought my validation, my attention, my love and my affection in very unhealthy ways and if I failed to meet his expectations (which I was unaware of) he would keep track of them. For every time I wasn’t as appreciative as I should have been, for every time I lacked patience or criticized something he said or did, for every time I didn’t say or didn’t do the right thing, he tallied my slights against him as though he were putting coins in a piggy bank that one day burst because it was full. In my opinion, we functioned like any other “normal” couple in a long-term relationship (together for 25, married for 20) in that he was “guilty” of these same “violations”. If I recognized that I fell short on one thing or another, I’d acknowledge it and apologize. I assumed we were good. Not the case. If I failed to acknowledge something (not because I was being stubborn or thoughtless but because I didn’t realize I had done something to piss him off) he kept it to himself and let it fester for years. So now I am being blamed for his unhappiness and my MIL, who – believe it or not – is a psychologist – refuses to acknowledge that his current behavior has anything to do with his unresolved childhood issues. She is in total denial that her selfish choices negatively impacted her kids. My therapist has said several times that I am his mother. The first time she said it my jaw dropped.

        • Blindside, it does actually sound like my ex, too. Putting someone on a pedestal is not exactly a healthy way to relate to someone, especially someone as close as your parents, and it’s usually a compensatory move that masks deeper, unresolved, perhaps even unexplored issues. Makes perfect sense for someone who can’t communicate and lives locked in himself. It’s terribly sad, but very familiar. My ex did not realize he deeply resented his mother until it was too late — and only long after everyone realized it. Similar story: single mother, looks somewhat heroic, but actually not very present for the kids…and, yes, allowing an abusive babysitter to come into the picture, too.

          It’s actually infuriating that all these stories are so similar. One would think that evil is a bit more creative, or at least fun.

  • Ohhhh boy. This all sounds familiar.

    Guess who was expected to pay all of the bills, deal with all of the major items, and make everyone happy while doing it? Not my stbxw.

    A thought regarding sunk costs: it’s a classic error I management and finance to let sunk costs obscure opportunity costs. And the opportunity costs of staying with a cheating asshole are huge. Your happiness, your future, your mental and physical well-being, the impacts on your children, your finances… Staying with one of these assholes is robbing yourself of the potential return on the investment in yourself.

    • Nanki Poo
      This is so true. And so tragic. Because how many of us had no clue we were in a situation where we would be considering sunk vs opportunity costs. As far as I knew my sunk costs were as ‘safe as houses’ as they say. I trusted, I loved, I showed up and I took on all the responsibilities.
      Suddenly it is a whole new ball game.

      • Now that you know the real score (no doubt without any help from the lying cheater), you can accurately assess the opportunity costs of staying in any way linked to that cheater. I cannot think of any sunk cost that outweighs the opportunity to rebuild a life based on values and authenticity.

      • Capricorn, your pain comes through in every post. Know that you will emerge out the other side of this divorce not only intact & able to manage life, but BETTER able to manage life than when you were swimming with a 150-lb. weight around your neck. The emotional drag from cheaters and Peter Pans cannot be underestimated.

        Don’t worry about conceptualizing how you’re going to manage finances, parenthood, job, running a household after the divorce-just “do” and it will fall into place. Will it be pretty? no. Will it be easy? No. Will it always be fun? No. Will it often be infuriating? yes. Will you want to crumple in a ball when new crises come up for about a year? Yes. But you will un-peel yourself from the ball, do what needs to be done, and eventually feel mighty about it. Hugs!

        • Tempest.
          Smart lady. STBX is back on Friday for a week. Just drags the whole mess back around with him and into my mind and dreams. I’m just toughing it out day by day until he is due on another continent and hopefully then divorce will be final and I don’t have to see him.
          I’m in lockdown mode at the moment. Just getting through as I know I can. I’ll get back to myself when he has gone again.

          • Survival mode is exhausting. Please do some things to take care of yourself.
            Can you avoid seeing him? Or have a friend over if you have to?
            Take care. Sending you strength and love.

  • Oh God I thought I was the only one who experienced this! My ex could not would not pay bills on time. The only real chore he would do is clean the dishes after dinner (but bitch that I was “lazy” while doing so). With 4 kids, there was always a mound of laundry and he would ignore it, but whine if I spent a Saturday tackling it. But one really odd thing he did was control money, never paying a bill on time. It was always a huge fight. He even started keeping the checkbook hidden. That should have been a clue to his disordered head. It was funny to him if we got a disconnect notice for the electric or cable. Then he would blame me cause I spent money on lunches while working. You know I blew the budget! I started putting my pay into my own account years before we divorced because of this. That pissed him off too. Wanted to know if I was planning a divorce. Gah. 26 years with this guy. And yep — when I finally kicked him out, our finances were a disaster. I cleaned that mess up too!

  • Yup. I had FIVE kids. It really puts you at a tremendous disadvantage. YOU are the parent getting shit done beyond working outside of the home or even working inside the home as the FT SAHparent. I experienced that this baby-man also would undermine me at every turn in parenting the actual children even when we agreed earlier on a course of action. Someone has to be the bad guy to the kids and it will not be the Fun Dad or Fun Mom.

    My younger two wanted to watch Mrs.Doubtfire last night. That movie is about just this: fucking Peter Pan unwilling to do any adulting with the kids, home and job. Blameshifts his crap onto the chumpy wife until she finally kicks his ass out and divorces him. He, in the meanwhile, blames all of his unhappiness on her. Uses the kids, and eventually the wife too, in emotionally manipulative ways….all under the guise of “for the kids”. During his lying as Mrs. Doubtfire he actually HAS to parent. To be an adult and to put the needs of his kids and Xwife ahead of his own because the wife is paying him to do what the asshole should have been doing all along in the marriage!!! (I’m not suggesting that in a healthy partnership one person shoulders everything. In a normal relationship BOTH parties seek to meet their needs, their partner’s needs and the needs of the kids.) This guy also explains why this dynamic sucks.

    I know I did not come into my ‘marriage’ to raise another adult. It absolutely evolved into this and it’s wrong. It definitely was advantageous for my cheater to live like this-it enabled him to have a wildly successful second life. Even in my years of frustration in telling him to grow the fuck up, to DO some adulting it came back to me as: “Tell me what to do!” And acted out as: “You’re not the boss of me!” If you have to tell a person who knows you will be late getting home and you TOLD them, and if you, chumpy, assume that the weirdly immature adult person will get shit done like help the kids with homework, feed snacks and make dinner, you are in for a long frustrating battle of common sense and control. The control issue is key because the Peter or Petra Pan cannot be told what to do, even if they asked you to tell them what to do – ‘you aren’t the boss of me’ backlash.

    • ANC.
      Thanks for that link. Made me cry actually.
      My STBXH is very successful in his career as he has been able to spend every single day working on it. Weekends were for fun and relaxing. But not for me of course.
      His relationships with the boys he is belatedly realising ran through me. I was the information hub for the family. Not now.
      He often says if it were not for me he wouldn’t be where he was. We agree. But that doesn’t help me now.
      Crap childhood. I never even knew what I was missing.

    • Thank you for the link. Your post was my marriage to a “T’. I did everything while Peter Pan lived a carefree life off the fruits of my hard work. I finally forced him to pay ONE bill. One. I did this by refusing to pay it…To the point of letting the electricity get turned off if he didn’t pay it.
      When he was making his excuses as to why I deserved to be cheated on, wait for it…I was such a controlling bitch that I wouldn’t even let him pay the bills. SMH!

  • OMG this column resonates. “Let’s figure out a monthly budget.” “No I don’t want to. I’m no good at that. You do it.” “Ok. Here is a budget. We can’t buy this.” ” I want to buy it. Why are you so mean?” “Look, you figure out a budget then.” “No I don’t want to. I don’t have to. I’ve found this Get Rich Quick scheme on the Internet. We don’t need to budget.” “Eyeroll. Look, most investment advisors don’t recommend this” “No, I’m smarter than all those investment advisors. Because I’ve found my Get Rich Quick Scheme on the Internet. All I have to do is give them a bazillion dollars in up front fees. Look, I just made $5,000.” “What is your annual rate of return?” “I don’t know. The point is I made $5,000 last week.”

  • ” They’re cool cucumbers in the face of disaster, mostly because they have you sussed — you’ll take care of it.”

    The most intense example is when we moved to No California for him to go to graduate school…we had 3 kids and no where to live. The military had housing and we were on a waiting list for it, but the demand was more than the supply. We had no fucking place to live (after selling a big pretty colonial home in the burbs for this adventure). I scurried around like a crazy woman and he acted like nothing was wrong. I found places to live and he dismissed them.

    It wasnt until about 2 weeks ago that I finally connected the dots, HE WANTED US TO LEAVE…go find some other place to be “mom and kids” there was a fuckfest to have at school.

    I was never a really spontaneous person but add a weekend job and 3 kids and any last vestiges of spontaneity dies. One friday evening he starts ranting that we should be in New York city having aweekend. I assured him we could do that if we planned it…he looked at me resentfully and said “I WILL NOT PLAN” (spoken like the word “plan” was something like “murder” or “genocide”).

    He later had the same thing with “Italy” inserted into the sentence instead of NY. We were supposed to magically glide out of the house with 3 kids and go to another city or country without so much as saving $50 or packing a toothbrush.

    and you all might remember that when we did travel, that was his favorite time to go into white hot narc rage.

    I developed anxiety about travel (huge surprise here) and when a friend suggested she and I take our 2 girls to Disney, I was terrified. Getting me on that trip was like pulling a hermit crab from its shell, but I did it and learned that I liked traveling with my daughter.

    Since then, my D and I have been to NY, Paris, London, Rome, Florence and were going to Amsterdam soon. Some people might hear me speak of our trips and all they hear is a brag from a rich white lady, but its not that, really not at all. It’s trumphant breaking out of abuse when I had been enculturated to believe that any excursion from my home was guaranteed to include misery, scorn and manipulation.

    • unicornomore
      So helpful your posts. I was married to the same kind of person. I am terrified of travel too. Out West posted on this a few days ago in such an inspiring way I’m going to give it a shot.
      I developed anxiety about life. I never knew what was going to collapse next and knew he wouldn’t be phased by it but would also never do anything about it. So maybe this sense of safety I thought I had was not real. I maybe will be ok after. Maybe even less anxious. There’s a thought.

      • So much of what you say resonates with me, Capricorn. By all external measures, I am a very successfully employed woman–I shift positions within my company, but sometimes I’ve managed as many as 35 other people. Yet, the idea of taking a weekend trip with my kids produced so much anxiety that it took a couple years for me to do it.

        I’m five years out of the marriage now, and I am still realizing some of the ways the experience of my rotten marriage affected me. I know now that I will be anxious leading up to travel, but that I can do it. It just takes a long time to clear the ideas I accepted before from my head–that any hiccup was a nightmare that ruined the whole trip, that anything that went wrong was all my fault, that the punishment for problems (no matter whose fault they might have been) was horrible behavior for the rest of the trip. These things do not happen anymore because I don’t travel with the jackass anymore and my kids are too well-behaved to act like that, but part of me still twitches with anxiety over the knowledge that travel is always a bit bumpy.

        Start small–an overnight is fine. If your kids are young enough, a single attraction and the chance to do different things than they would at home (swim in a hotel pool, eat the complimentary breakfast, argue over the little shampoo bottles) will be enough of an adventure. Better yet, if you’ve got a female friend with kids who is a good traveler, do it as a team. Make an effort to learn from her expertise.

        Recently, I had to travel overseas for work with a colleague. I had not done this for years–maybe 15. I was amazed at how easy it was. For awhile, I was in awe of how calmly my colleague handled everything from missed plane flights to lost luggage. Sometimes he took the lead; sometimes he passed it to me. Eventually, I realized that although my colleague is a perfectly great person, he was not doing anything extraordinary, he was just behaving like an adult. I’m used to feeling blamed for everything and having to meet demands of perfection so high that I feel incompetent when I travel. This is all nonsense, of course. It was just the way my EX manipulated me so as to avoid travel and maintain control. I knew I handled his abuse poorly in public at home (i.e. I cowered), but I hadn’t realized how deeply it affected my confidence when traveling until I traveled with a real adult.

        I am still not a great explorer, but I am getting better. I remember traveling fearlessly as a teenager and in my early 20s. I so resent that I lost that piece of myself.

        • This. I have huge anxiety about travel. I plan and re-plan, then pack days before. The level of preparation was like we were going to a deserted island. But. Every fucking time. He would tantrum about something. Forgotten toothbrush, long lines, having to eat places with kids menus…

          I was mommy for sure but his tantrums are the source of all anxiety for me. Kids can be sent to their room, toys can be taken, privileges removed. Husband-child? Nothing. Nothing but leaving because anything else is more tantrums.

          • Yes, I afraid of flying, traveling, leaving the home because I was the mother of everything. He would even call me by my mom’s name with hateful sarcasm. He controlled the money and things went south quickly. Yes to the overdue unpaid bills and hiding money from me. But, despite me being the parent and waiting on the toddler, he would gaslight me in public to be sure that he put me in my place. Interestingly, nh was hoovering, if someone was talking to me to be the center of the conversation. As I look back , it wasn’t jealousy but no needed the attention on him. We finally mediated and I pray that he follows through with our court decision. I am not at meh, but I am looking at a cabin soon as a future home for my dogs, cat and meh will get there. CN and CL have been one of the best things to help me move forward and have no contact and peace being alone. It is funny how you actually parent the n. And it’s not funny. Looking forward to the future. Don’t look back, you are not going that way.

          • Just want you to know, Alethia, that I’ve “seen” you and lethe at the airport. I spot guys like him from a mile away. His stompy little I’m-so-important pout. I see it too. I laugh at him. I look at you. Sometimes you are tending to your kids while he looks at his phone. I just want to walk over and smack that fucking phone out of his hands. What a pathetic guy. Look at what he’s got: a fabulous wife and kids, he’s jetting off to a great vacation, and he can’t even stand to be in his own skin. What a fucking coward. If you’re such a bad-ass dude, why don’t you tell your wife you want a divorce, make her better than financially whole, pay for your kids to get Ivy-league graduate-level education, and go fuck all the whores you want. But no, you sad little man. You’d rather pitch a fit in the Starbucks in the Atlanta airport because your wife forgot to bring your preferred hand sanatizer. I see you dude. I can’t wait til your wife can see you with the same hatred I do. You don’t deserve her, and she deserves so much better.

        • Confession–I have never had a flawless travel vacation. With X, there was always something not right so we had to endure his moods and criticism. And sometimes it was my fault–didn’t leave enough time to account for the snow increasing travel time, so I missed my flight. The rest of the time, the Travel Gods simply view me as a source of amusement, and bizarre, random events occur that have me re-routed through strange destinations on my way to my travel goal.

          That said, it has never marred my love of travel. Many of the Chevy-Chase-Vacation-type incidents simply became the source of funny-story-telling later. Occasionally ending up on a different plane had me seated next to someone with a fascinating hobby or history to tell me about. It’s all an adventure.

          Ask yourself what is the worst that can happen? You forget your toothbrush? Go one day without brushing your teeth and buy another. Overpay for a meal? Grab a granola bar for lunch the next day to make up. Get on the wrong ferry? Enjoy the new destination, and laugh about your travel ineptitude over dinner. As long as you get somewhere safely, expose yourself to something new, it’s all good. Wrinkles in the trip are just a way to make you appreciate the good parts.

          • I agree. Once I dumped XH, travel became so much more pleasurable. I’m out for a little hike and the weather turns bad? No more arguing about whether or not to turn around. I choose to spend the whole day in my (rented) Paris apartment instead of going back out to explore the city? My choice.

            Like Tempest, I’ve had more than a few, “Well, shit” moments while traveling (missed trains, noisy hotel rooms, etc.) but I ***LOVE*** to travel and now that I’m the only one who pays the price for my mistakes, I love it even more.

          • I love to travel without the extra baggage of stbx. He just made it hard. Any problem can be solved and those things make some of the best stories or memories.

            Anxiety comes from travel with him.

    • Unicornnomore, traveling with my cheater ex was the same!!!! I would do all the prep, book hotels, map out routes and things to do and it would always end up being a rage fest for him and I would spend the whole trip miserable and on pins and needles. He would complain about everything and ensure I was miserable. Then acted confused about why I eventually just didn’t want to travel anymore Looking back I realize he tormented me with glee during these times. Boy these fucktards really are all cut from the same cloth.

      • Same here. I spent the very last trip with the Fucktard driving across France for 8 days while he sat in the passenger seat with a bottle of wine between his knees. All of the planning was on me, so if a hotel wasn’t up to snuff, or the only vegetarian restaurant in town had closed, or the shirt he suddenly needed wasn’t in the suitcase, there was hell to pay.

        I think there is something about having a captive audience that brings out the worst in disordered freaks.

        • Hell to pay …. yes, an apt description of traveling with Cheater.

          Once when my 2 oldest were 2 & 4, we flew cross country for a wedding. The kids needed car seats and we had paid for each to have a seat. It was an overnight flight so sleeping in car seats (headrest on car seat much better than an adult plane seat for kid sleeping)… this car seats a good idea on the plane. He (who never travelled with kids on plane) disagreed and decided that I needed to be “punished” for not doing as I was told. We get off the first plane and need to get to another gate.. I’ve got 2 little kids, 2 huge car seats and all our carry on stuff and he leaves me there and bolts into the crowd towards the next gate. A trip on a team was needed to get there and there was no way I could carry everything and not lose one of the kids or have them fall on the team tracks or something.

          I stood there and wept until a janitor saw me and took pity and got me on the tram safely. I have no memory of how I got to the gate but when i did, that fucking asshole was sitting there alone and unconcerned about us.

          I knew it was horrid but I had no idea what to do… he was never going to admit it was wrong or awful. What a fucking selfish bastard asshole scourge of humanity he was that day.

          • I have a similar story, well many of them. It’s so sad that we all put up with this, but there we were with kids to take care of and things to get done and we put ourselves dead last because as responsible adults that’s what we needed to do.

            I will never forget the first trip Narkles theClown took my son on post divorce. They had to change planes and the first flight was late. Then there was no other flight that night to get them to their original destination. I know my son was disappointed but I also felt such relief that I wasn’t there to witness the narc rage on whatever airline employee he was getting bitchy with. I just kept thinking “not my monkey, not my circus” and “thank God I don’t have to live through that while on pins and needles anymore”

            • AOK, I think it’s great that you weren’t the responsible party when Narkles hit a bump in the road. If it was important enough, he would have booked nonstop or checked the % of ontime arrivals like we chumps tend to do when booking to avoid disappointment. NOT your monkey, NOT your circus anymore.

      • Funny Story. I did all the trip planning, packing and organizing. Usually we had some pretty nice holidays and XH did enjoy himself. After we separated, he went on a trip with some friends (don’t know details), but heard that when they returned he alone missed the flight home. The others all went to the departure gate and he stopped at duty free to look around. He missed the flight and had to sleep in the airport for 24 hours before he could get another flight. When we were together, I always kept track of the time and of him and the kids and would have told him he didn’t have time to shop. But other adults wouldn’t feel the need to do that for an adult and he suffered the consequences of not noting the time. I think it is funny because now he has to grow up, unless the latest whoever he is with is now playing this role in his life. I am so happy to just be responsible for myself now.

        • We went on a trip to San Diego for him to get continuing education. On the way back to the airport, the direction is different and he would not listen to me. He drove into the wrong rental car return and was making a u-turn to go another way. He drove over the spikes and flattened all four tires. Fortunately, an employee saw the entire thing. Pulled up to help us get to the airport. We missed our flight and had to buy four new tires. We sat in the airport all day until 5 pm before he would finally give in and buy the plane tickets for us to return home. I can laugh at it now.

          • This reminded me of the time my XH had recently purchased a new sat nav (GPS) for the car and spent the whole journey (3+hrs) to my sister down country changing the avatar and views / voice etc etc and kept boasting about how cool it was. On the way home he ignored the directions once we left my sisters house and when I expressed my concern that we were going the completely wrong way. Well after a massive argument and a hissy tantrum he reset the device to go ‘ home’ and was glaring at me smugly as he followed the directions to the letter. I kept protesting even when he drove right up to the ferry terminal entry and said that “I would of f@cking remembered getting on a boat” as opposed to a bridge to get from Plymouth to Cornwall but he ignored me until the moment he realised he hadn’t unticked the ferry option on the route settings ( or something ) and then we drive home eventually in frosty silence – he thought it was funny later.

    • Yes ladies…I remember when the first 2 kids were little, we packed up for a road trip to visit his family about 1000 miles away. As we pulled out of our street on our way I had the first anxiety attack I had ever had…and I can tolerate stress (I was a Hospice Nurse at the time, literally watched people die) but being with him in a car was terrifying.

      I had to pack for me and the kids and I had to find exactly the perfect balance of things to take…if I brought something we didnt need, he teased & tormented me over bringing the widget…if we needed something that I didnt bring, I was harassed and insulted for not having the forethought and competence to bring that thing I should have know we would need.

      Eventually I set some limits…once, before a trip, I showed him the credit card and I said “If you rage at me, I will use this card to get away from you, by whatever means works best for me in the moment and you can get the kids home in the van by yourself, is that clear?”. The last big trip before he died was a full “get the family to Montana to see the family”. I rented a cabin then set out to get me & daughter there. I ignored him and the near-adult sons….they needed to get there and doing so was their problem.

      That last trip was the summer we were married 25 years but his parents had their 50th…we wanted to go to Italy but couldnt afford both…decided that one of his parents might die soon, so gave up Italy. How odd that they are both still alive and he is dead.

    • Wow. The travel thing. Yes. SO many examples but here are two:
      1. Iceland was an extended layover on our way back from Europe, just two days, so I thought, Well this could be a scouting trip and see if we want to come back. Late in the first day, XH was VERY mopey as we were driving around the tourist track to see the Top Three (Geyser, waterfall and … something else). I asked and he said, “I just thought we were going to find some cool little hot springs that no one knew about or something.” — ??? — He’d done no legwork/research on this trip, so I suggested we go to the Tourism office. We talked to them. He didn’t like any of it because it’s what all the OTHER tourists were going to do, as well. (Not special enough, I guess.) — I loved Iceland, myself, but he was such a mopey guy. All my fault, I’m sure. And I’m pretty sure that was the beginning of the end of our marriage, that trip.

      And if that wasn’t, then this was:
      2. Weekend getaway with friends to local ski town: We rented a house with our Switzerland friends (now his, not mine) to ski and just hang out. They had a young kid so we didn’t see them as much as pre-kid. As we (I) packed up stuff, we talked about food — what were we going to eat, since the local “grocery” was an overpriced convenience store with crappy drunk food (pizza, frozen food, etc.)? He said we would eat out. I didn’t see how that would happen, since (again) small child going with us, but I had gotten to the point where I thought, “Fuck it. I am TIRED of being the Mommy.” And I can survive for days on just a couple of granola bars so I packed those for myself and that’s it. — Well, our friends didn’t want to go out for meals, so he ate all of THEIR food. So now Switzerland mom is cooking not only for her husband and child but also MY husband! I was mortified. XH & I had a big fight in the truck on the way home about exactly this, and I cried all the way home. That was February. Dday was in May.

      • My dday was May also. Mediation Thursday. 32 years. Who is this horrible lying person? Can’t wait to be done.

      • As always, it’s about unreachable expectations. You’re supposed to look perfect, be the everflowing breast of love and support, make him look like the smartest, most successful guy alive. He won’t give you the tools to do this, of course, or even the indication that he expects it. He just expects it to happen. Like finding the magical hot spring that no one else knows about. It’s just supposed to happen and YOU are a failure for not making this unspoken wish come true.


    • Another similarity to our stories, UNM. I hated traveling with Hannibal Lecher. He would pack his minimalist carry-on suitcase, then heartily criticize me for packed luggage containing THREE people’s clothes (mine & 2 daughters). He would always schedule travel plans right after the end of my semesters, so I would finish grading and start packing for a trip right away. Then I would be criticized for not being organized enough (did he ever offer to help? No), and packing at the last minute, and taking too much, and …..

      On the trip, we would be subject to at least one moody, silent treatment period per week, all while trapped alone in a hotel/rental house with him. I came to dread vacations with him.

      Our very last big trip together, to Florence, Italy, I finally warned him I was not going to tolerate bad treatment from him and he’d better behave. And he did, in part because the man of the couple we traveled with was behaving abominably to his wife, and…because Hannibal was fielding emails from the sexual harassment officer about an appointment due to his affair with gradwhore years earlier. He was feeling vulnerable, and in need of my support, thus his niceness to me.

      Travel now can still be insane, but daughter/s and I laugh instead of having to field criticism from a moody, never-pleased, humorless narcissist.

      • Tempest, skankboy would always pick a fight when we went on vacation. It got to the point where I didn’t want to travel with the idiot any longer. That goodness that is no longer a problem.

    • When this nonsense first started for me in 2009, months before I knew about the OW, my now exh had bought tickets for our family- me, him and our son- to go to England and France. He couldn’t go at the last minute because he had to “work” (uh huh) so my son and I went alone. Fast forward to 2014, when my son and I went to Italy for a week and then to just a month ago, when my son and I went to Spain. My son will be engaged soon and married not far after to a wonderful girl. I will not get this time back. Jerkwad would not travel with me. Not even for a weekend. I know now that it was because he always had one foot out the door. And when we did have family vacations years ago it was always to the Caribbean. I always wanted to see the world. He didn’t. So freedom? This is it. Travel without the jerkwad? Priceless.

  • Married for thirty six years to a teenager who spent his money fixing up an old BMW, going to the gym daily, and expanding on his drums set as if he was a rock star. Three hundred dollars for a cymbal he NEEDED and fifteen dollars for flowers on my anniversary every single year.

    Self employed babyman worked six to seven months a year and was too busy to take off a single day to spend time with me. Then as the spring and summer months approached he wanted me to pay his bills and mine. Once I started making money in my profession (2001) all he talked about was controlling my money.

    He became angry when I joined a gym with my good friend. He had been going to the gym since we got married. He was upset when I went shopping and bought clothes, had my hair colored, or went out with my friend. I started knitting scarves and one day he showed up at the yarn store and asked why I took so long.

    He wanted me to support him from April through August when he wasn’t working. Previously, he had contracts with his customers that carried us through these months. He unilaterally decided not to offer contracts. As an adult I told him that if he was going to have five months off a year he needed to find work during those months. I reminded him that in addition to paying my own bills, I provided his healthcare and paid his taxes every single year out of my earnings. I had no intention of paying a dime on his credit card debt that was over fourteen thousand dollars. They were in his name.

    The irony of this is that he bragged that the Slunt made no money and would buy him pub fries. Yay, teenagers love pub fries. Guess he showed me as he had to take out a three year loan to pay his taxes the year I filed.

  • So true. My ex passive aggressively never did much, including work. But boy was he quick to judge, criticize and berate when things weren’t done to his liking. What a great system these guys set up: contribute nothing and berate us for not doing them “right”. I was bringing in most of the household income and working 60 hours a week, took care of the entire house, the dog and all the other icky grown up stuff Peter Pan didn’t want to bother with. While he worked (barely) two days a week at the end there and he complained about even that. Later I came to find out he spent his time while I was at work arranging beach dates with the last OW and spinning his tale of how he couldn’t leave me because he would be left penniless. All lies wove to make him look like the sad trapped sad sausage. I think the portrayal he gave of me is what made me the maddest, I was working my ass off and giving him an amazing life while he was chasing tail and painting me as a materialistic shrew. They all suck!

    • Beachgirl
      I had the extra mindfuck of him singing my praises to everyone about how great I am, even his three OW. What a great wife and mother I am. How lucky he is. How much he admires everything I do.
      Now I see what a fool I was. He kept me in place the last few years as I began to buckle under the strain of six years of virtual single parenting and increasing loneliness and burn out by telling me how much he needed me, how much the boys needed me. And it was true. He did need me to keep on keeping on while he fucked his way around the globe.
      I think he believes that he does love me and admire me. He can’t see his actions suggest otherwise. I don’t think he will ever understand it as I do.

      • Capricorn, mine did that too. Always told people how amazing I was but secretly resented me and took his resentment out on me in private daily. They set us up as the parent and then resent it. Instead of just doing the healthy thing and acting like grown up partners they make this dynamic to justify their shitty choices and cheating. Still makes me furious!

        • Me too Cap and BG – you know, if you go back and read our words, you can see the classic diversion tactics going on here. These narcs do not want to give us chance to notice what THEY aren’t doing so they blame us to make us look at ourselves instead of their actions. Sheesh. Crazy making at its best. I would hear “you’re just trying to take charge” and “you’re not my mother” and I was like “well I thought the clean clothes should be put away instead of sitting on the dinner table while we eat..hmm”. So we would eat dinner surrounded by socks and underwear so that peace could be maintained. After the kids grew up and could help more he found his chair and discovered texting and pretty much stayed there the remainder of our marriage.

      • Yours STBX was just good at impression management. He knew that others could see what a gem you were, and to call you anything else would make him look like an ass.

        You weren’t a fool. You were a great mother, wife, and human being, and there was no reason you shouldn’t have believed him. You are an honest person, so you extended a belief in personal honesty to your spouse.

        He is a jackass. You are mighty!

        • I agree. We were all great wives. Truly unappreciated, but bragged on in front of others. And gaslighted to stay in place in public, because we could not appear to be better than the narc.
          Towards the end, we were in a nice hotel and he wanted to shop, shop, shop. I hate shopping. He bought so many gifts for everyone and had them gift wrapped and sent to everyone including his children and grandchildren. I was being frugal because even though he had given me money to blow, I knew that I would have no money to buy the necessary things for two weeks because he gave me that “vacation money”. I was looking at a sales rack because he was obsessed with me spending money. I picked out three cheap shirts to buy. He was trying to impress the blonde clerk in front of me. As he was making all his extremely expensive purchases, he turned and asked if he could buy the shirts for me. I allowed it. We continue to shop . I got a couple of things to look like I was being a big spender ( all on sale). That night, he remembered that he should buy gifts for more office girls and a grandson. We shopped at the hotel store. Lasted, we walked into the hotel tavern for appetizers and he wanted wine. I prefer a light beer. He drank a little much and in the tavern he began to become enraged and glared at me and said, ” It p*sses me off when you let me buy those shirts for you “. I was stunned and replied to him that I thought he wanted to buy them for me since he did ask. At that point, our waitress came to ask if we were okay. I replied that we were fine. He continued raging where I got asked if I was okay two more times. I began to think I need to leave and go to the hotel room because he is totally flipping out publicly. His voice got louder and I scooted my chair back and left him sitting there in the tavern by himself raging as people scooted back their chairs thinking that he was fixing to attack me. I was terrified that he would kill me that night. I am surprised that he didn’t get arrested. I am sure that the bartender would not serve him anymore. The next morning, we were packed to go home and he actually asked me if I wanted to shop some more. I replied , ” Hell no, I never want to go anywhere with you again “! He replied very sweetly, “Don’t say that “. I couldn’t stand speaking to him and I refused to allow him to buy me anything again. I hate shopping even more now after that experience.

          • that is horrible…people dont like to get involved in stuff like that so for him to act bad enough to have people check on you, he had to have been BAD

    • One day, I thought I’d be nice and iron some work shirts for XH (I do not iron, but I quilt, so I do know HOW to iron). I saw him ironing one of the shirts the next day and I said, cheerily, “Oh, I already ironed those for you so you wouldn’t have to iron this week!” He said, “There are still wrinkles. — You know, not everyone can wear pajamas to work.” (furious silence)

      I am an emergency veterinarian, so I wear scrubs to work. Not because they’re “comfy” but because I’ve sometimes only been at work for ten minutes when I’ve got more bodily fluids on me than the local tavern at closing time. AND it’s my “pajama-clad” job’s salary that pays for every single fucking thing in this house, you asshole!

      Instead, I said, “Oh, okay, well, I guess I won’t iron for you anymore. I thought it would save you some time, and we could instead spend that time together. But if you have to do it again anyway, then it doesn’t, does it?” and walked away. — Little did I realize the ironing was part of the preening for his job as Big Kahuna down at the restaurant with people kowtowing to him left and right. Oops. My bad.

        • I’m sure there’s a little scar in his head somewhere where my death gaze burned him. I have a very Clint Eastwood kinda thing (in spite of being only 5’2″), with a little head tilt and a raised eyebrow, like, “You sure you want to be saying that?” and I used it that day, I can tell you. (Honestly, I’m not even sure I can control when it comes out. I have been told, for better or worse, it’s written right on face most of the time, anyway!)

          • Its harder to get into vet school than medical school in the US, so you have to be smart. I worked in a Neonatal ICU for a while and he like to remind me that I went to “janitor school”. Like it would kill them to admit we are smart and accomplished.

            Im 5’2″ also…small and mighty !!

            • 5′ 2″ here too……Remember ladies…..Diamonds and dynamite comes in small packages.

            • My nickname at work is “Tiny, But Fierce,” because I’m always the one they send in to “handle” the people who are being assholes to the staff. Those people get about two minutes to calm down and apologize or I fire them as clients. No bullshit here (except in my marriage, evidently — no more of that, either, though).

    • Just before we got married, my stbxh started acting like a child. He “forgot” to pay the mortgage, stopped going to his class and flunked it, would not help with anything I asked of him re wedding, showed up late to wedding because he insisted on buying alcohol at the military base to save money (then waited until day of wedding to buy it and the shop was closed), “forgot” to bring my ring to our wedding, etc. I even dragged him into marriage counseling two weeks before we got married, to give us an opportunity to call things off, but he insisted he would man up. I asked him to take responsibility for the honeymoon planning because the wedding planning was so much work. As a result, we arrived in Costa Rica with no plan, no hotel reservations. We stayed at dumpy hotels and did all the things he wanted to do. So, yeah, I was a chump from the beginning all the way to the end. ?

  • She said to me: “I am almost 40 – I’ve wasted the best years of my life with you.”

    Same, bitch.

    • WTF is it with cheaters adding insult to injury? MG is a waste of carbon-based material, and a wretched human being.

      • Thanks, Tempest. That statement really got to me – I remember now I posted it before. It’s helpful to reflect that even though my D-Day was more like a 72-hour freefall, that her cheating wasn’t an exit affair as some in my life like to posit. No, she was horrible and vindictive to me on her way out the door too. It wasn’t twu lurve – and she was mad because she “gave” me the best years of her life. No logic; madness from a madman.

        I’ve learned (again) in the last year that any little happiness I might eek out as a soon-to-be-divorced-so-undateable-by many’s-standards guy is hard won and so so sweet!

    • Dubious

      She’s fucking with you just as a all these selfish assholes do. Why oh why do they drag the shit out of getting it over with once and for all? Words of a whore aiming to maim. I wouldn’t waste my spit on her.

    • Yeah, I heard “I can’t believe I wasted 35 years of my life on you” I thought the same thing… Right back at ya motherfucker

  • My X paid out 1500 UKpounds to a Nigerian scam .
    This was in response to one of those very,obvious scam letters Advising of being the beneficiary of a dead millionaire etc
    A five yr old who can read would probably figure it out! He didn’t apparently??

  • Hell to the yes, this is my ex!! And I just spackled away. It’s amazing how happy I am now, without him. And as I rebuild my credit and my life, I will chalk it up to a lesson learned. The Hard Way.

  • I was the Chump of Chumps.
    His Mom sucked, so I was going to be the best wife ever…but it turned out that I became the best enabling Mom ever.
    I felt the more responsibility I took on, mine and his, that STBX would appreciate me freeing up time for him to love me more… it never happened damnit! It just gave him more time for porn, cyber sex, golfing, fishing, hanging out with old high school friends to smoke pot and reminisce about the good old days.
    I raised the kids, I took care of everything in the household. Everything. He Peter Panned for 33 years and will probably continue to do so… but I am now in the land of MEH, so it is “not my problem”!!! (My new favorite phrase!)
    Thankfully my brain was in gear enough after several Days (after 24 yrs married) that I took action to protect myself, just in case he kept it up. Afterall, I was the keeper of the finances and the only responsible one in the family…
    Well, at 33 years I finally quit believing the lies, got some help from a counselor who “got it”, made great connections in the Chump Nation, realized what I was really dealing with, and said, “Get the hell out!”. Girls, I am MIGHTY! We are all MIGHTY!
    Thankful to be a healthy adult now. Thankful the blinders are off.
    My cry is Freeeedom! But in honor of the great Dr. King, “free at last, free at last, Thank God almighty we are free at last.”

  • …And Peter Pan never finds you sexy. You don’t live in Never Neverland with Tinkerbell. You live in some drab, gray London and care about life insurance and pruning the garden.
    Here you are, smoothing out the chaos, you think they’d recognize your value. Oh, they do — as someone who smoothes out their chaos. But a soul mate? No. You don’t sparkle with fairy dust. You’re not terribly spontaneous or fun…

    Oh my freaking God… this just floored me.

    I thought it was just me ~ all of it. This whole article explains so much… thank you, thank you.

    What a piece of crap my exhole was … and how fortunate I am that he kicked me to the curb like a bag of trash when he found a new ‘Mommy’ …. Wow!

  • A counselor suggested to me that I ask him once to do something simple and just do it when he doesn’t do it, then see what happens. So, one day, I asked him to take out the trash, waited about 15 minutes, then took it out.

    He lost his shit. Why did you do that, Amiisfree? I was going to do that, I told you I would do it, etc. I told him calmly that it needed to get done and he didn’t do it, so I did it. It’s no big deal, it’s just trash.

    He was furious. Way out of proportion.

    I have been blessed with some really smart counselors. That was a really good lesson.

    • Amiisfree,

      One time I asked him to trim the grass around my flowers in the front flower bed. A few weeks went by and it wasn’t done, so I decided to do it myself. I started charging the battery for the trimmer and he lost his shit. He stormed outside, fired up the weed eater and proceeded to mow down all my flowers! That was a big turning point in me realizing that he wasn’t some lost puppy I needed to rescue, but a cruel and abusive man. The cheating was just a part of the abuse, there was so much more. I am soooo ready for this divorce to be final.

      • Totally. They hate it when we f up their cycle, their control. I also can’t wait for your divorce to be final! 🙂 (Mine was years ago and life is much better now.)

        • What is their cycle, their control?

          Does the cycle start with

          1. being asked to do something, or an expectation of responsibility?
          2. Is the next stage cheater/liar rebels / refuses?
          3. Is cheater/liar hoping that Mommy will scold him?

      • Trash and lawnmower. Check and check. XH says he’ll do it. I wait and wait. Nothing, so I do it. XH gets mad. You can pretty much switch in any task/chore scenario, and it happened in my marriage. Same outcome.

        • Occasionally, mine would ask if he could help, which I thought was fantastic because that’s what I’d always wanted, a guy who wanted to work around the house with me. He knew that. So I’d give him something to do, and he’d start the job, then stage a hissy fit or claim he had allergies or claustrophobia … there was always some reason he couldn’t finish the job. Let it be known I never told him he was doing the job wrong … he had no reason to bail.

          So I had the opportunity to learn of a few conversations he had with his AP … one was of him telling her he’d love to come by and help her, and that he was very good at taking instruction. This was the same guy as mine!!!

          He just needed a different kind of mommy, that’s all … he chose the big boobed, stroking, bimbo (“She’s not as smart as you”, he told me … apparently she isn’t … she’s living with him!!!) … she gives him chores, with consequences and rewards. I’m not into those games.

          Sorry to hijack, but I want to ask about Mommy porn … he watched this when he was screwing her. Anyone know anything about this? The porn he watched when he was with me (I found out when I took his computer in for service) was threesomes, cross-dressing, a few grosser things. He also had “Christian Girls, Anal Sex” in his History, which is actually a song title …

          I’m a practical person, not spontaneous but I’ve got a lot on my plate … I don’t do porn, the only fantasy I have (had) is of him actually seeing the error of his ways, ha ha, and I do sex if you buy me dinner first and can manage to keep your hunky-looking suit jacket on for the lead-up to sex that same evening, not change into your sweats, drink too much and then want sex first thing in the morning. Oh, could I????

          The way to my heart is to wake up Saturday morning and say to me, “What needs doing? Let’s do it!” Someone proactive who actually gives a shit and wants to be with me, which apparently he is with her. That hurts.

          • Champ, you know it won’t last! He’s the same person he’s always been, and soon he’ll be whining about Schmoops just like he used to with you, and cheating on her, too.

    • I tried that also! Here is my story in reverse….

      She would covertly rage at me for doing the laundry? I would start doing the laundry because she wouldn’t.

      She wouldn’t do the laundry because she was too busy fucking other married men.

      She was too busy fucking other married men because she was entitled, selfish, had impulsivity problems and was able to suppress empathy for me and the kids.

      She was entitled, selfish, had impulsivity problems and was able to suppress empathy for me and the kids because that is who she is.

      She is a covert borderline/narc.

  • I do believe I know where the wheels actually fell off during my relationship with Fucktard. He grew up in poverty, I did not. My father paid out first down payment on a home for us. I made the mortgage payments and the vehicle payments, all the “big bills” for the whole year and half that we owned our first home and he made double the income I did. He had this fucked up co-dependent relationship with his mom and he always wanted to move home (new baby and all) I think in part because any responsibility was to much for him. He was a user my nature – much like his loser mommy dearest.

    We bought our dream homes after a few years living in mommy dearest’s basement (we where only supposed to be there for a year). This time I made sure the mortgage came out of his account because I was tired of having to ask him for money for my child and I. He liked to control and dominant everything but give the guy any responsibility or accountability he broke under it.

    When we sold our home after the seperation he took the position that he paid for EVERYTHING and was pissed that I got half of the net proceeds from the sale. Total disordered fucking asshole. We both had good jobs and he did make substantially more but I contributed financially for the whole 18 years we were together.

    He also conveniently forgot that I carried his weight and then some when he had a breakdown and quit his job and didn’t look for another one for 10 months. The whole 18 years we were together other then maternity leave, I was off work for one week for a injury and he never let me live it down (and I was paid during that week).

    I’m so glad to be rid of the dead weight. As for the whole control thing and you aren’t the boss of me – government garnishment for child support is sheer joy for me and it’s a double win because now he has a rather large bill that cannot go unpaid without consequences. How’s that for responsibility and accountability prick? I just love it so much!!!

    • XH & I had a “dissolution” because of no kids, so no attorneys either. But during the hearing, the judge said something about paying the mortgage (while were married) and I said that was me paying it, and XH piped up, “Well, I helped.” — I’m half-tempted to ask if I could see the court camera footage from that moment because my head swiveled toward him with such a look of disbelief! The details are irrelevant, but if I’d’ve had to respond, “Barely!” would have been appropriate.

  • Whenever life got hard and someone had to step up and be responsible, it was me. My ex always ran away. Over and over and over. Dealing with finances drove me crazy too. He didn’t pay the bills on time, but got mad and thought I was “controlling him” when I tried to take over our checkbook. Had to fight him for a year to wrestle the checkbook away from him, but then we never had another pink overdrawn slip in our mailbox again. What kind of person doesn’t pay bills on time, but thwarts his wife when she tries to pay them? What kind of person holds $1000 worth of receipts in his pocket but “forgets” to tell his wife? Who gets off on letting his wife thinks there’s $1000 more in the checking account than there really is? God, I’m so glad to be away from that crap.

    • Lyn-

      I am so glad to be away from that crap also. My exw was just like that. She NEVER paid anything on time.

      It started when I first met her. About a year into our relationship and when I had strong feelings for her, like a chump, I paid off all her CC debt.

      Then as we were getting married, a prerequisite was to go to Pre-Cana. When the topic of finances came up, the priest was visibly baffled when she was so oblivious that it is recommended that we both do the finances together. The priest did mention to her that “Whorrie, you are not marrying your father.” So mannnnny red flags that I overlooked!

      Her credit was so awful when we got married, that when we purchased our home, we couldn’t put her on the loan application because the bank wound then not finance us. The same with all the credit cards. Lenders would not give her any so I just let her use mine with my name on it.

      After we were married and as years went by her trends were as such…..

      -She would always overspend. LACK OF IMPULSE CONTROL

      -She would then hide the bills, and not pay them. NO ACCOUNTABILITY

      -She would then open Credit cards under her name, without my knowledge, and start building debt. Because her credit was so bad, the CC Companies would be charging her 29% and she would use Marital assets to pay them. ENTITLEMENT DRIVES HER DECIET

      -CC Companies would send “blank checks” to me. She would intercept the checks, write a check for $5,000.00, pocket the cash, then once it appears on the CC statement she would pay the minimum amount if any and hide the bills from me. ALL ABOUT POWER

      When I divorced, she absolutely decimated my once great credit.

      • SureChumpedaLot, I’m sorry to hear she ruined your credit. Hopefully you can build it back. It was kind of funny that as we were divorcing, my credit was better than his. Luckily my mom had always told me to make sure I had credit in my name and that I paid it on time. My credit score is in the 800’s now. I’m sure my ex is leveraged to the hilt. It always drove me insane. I once had a little success when I told him, “I’m on your team.” He was so competitive and seemed to think I did everything just to thwart him. All I wanted was a little savings to fall back on, and a feeling of being safe because we lived within our means. His parents were very fiscally responsible, so I’m not sure where he got his gambling attitude. Maybe it came from his horse racing grandfather who was always going to “hit it big some day.”

      • Money was tight, but he found a nice shirt for only $78.00. Mind you, I was given an allowance for groceries, gas, etc. sometimes I had to remind him he had to put money in the bank for me to buy groceries. He wanted me to be the sahh. It was a prison.

    • Oh, yeah, Lyn, I got the good ‘ol “You’re too controlling” line, too. If they were doing what they were supposed to in the first place then they wouldn’t feel the need to try to label us that way. Blameshift, anyone??

  • I was doing everything. All the grocery shopping, all the cleaning, all the yard work, all the bills. He sat there in his rocking chair doing NOTHING. I always said that I don’t care what you do, but just do SOMETHING.

    Once someone asked me how many children I had and I said one. My then 3 year old son said “no mommy, you have two kids. Me and daddy.” Even a 3 year old was smarter than chumpy me.

  • I needed this today. Woke up frustrated that asshat is dragging his feet getting his part done so we can sell the house in the divorce. He and his cousin started painting the house TWO years ago and got everything but one side and the front and back doors done. He knows it drives me crazy that it isn’t finished. He sucks. The divorce should be final in February, so there is about a month left to get it all done. I’m going to be out of town 3 days this week and he is supposed to watch the house and dogs and get done some of the stuff he said he’d do, but all I’m getting when I ask him to confirm is a vague “That’s the plan” or “I talked to cuz to finish the house…fingers crossed”.

    It’s so frustrating, but I’ve learned if I push too much, or show my frustration, he gets a kick out of it. So I am limiting contact as much as possible, formulating plan B, and copying my lawyer on all correspondence. At least with the divorce I can get an enforceable order to either compel the treacherous asshat to get it done or I’ll hire someone and get the money back out of his equity when we sell.

    It’s a control issue. One of the most honest things I ever got from his month was a few weeks before I finally filed when he come home after a drunken weekend. He stopped before going upstairs, looked at me, and said, “You are such a stupid bitch. This whole time you thought you were in control, but *I* am the one who is in control!”

    Yeah, well, you lying, drunken, serial cheating herpes transmitter, the judge is in control now and soon I will never be your parent, your chump, or your punching bag ever again.

    • Hang in there, Lisa. My ex did the same thing about stalling as long as possible to finish the divorce. Part of the strategy is to delay so that you become anxious and give in on things just to get it over with. At the end when I was trying to get into my new house, my ex started changing his mind and wanting to renegotiate things. It’s all a big game to them. My ex left all the closing of accounts and other things he was supposed to do unfinished, so I ended up having to take care of them as usual. He was too important to tie up loose ends or follow through. Recently I found out he never refinanced a loan to get my name off of it either. Argh. Anyway, hang on. You will come out the winner when you’re free of his manipulations!

      • Lyn,

        It is a game to them, isn’t it? The old me would have been nervous and anxious wondering if and when he would do what he said he was going to do. The old me would have given up and done it myself. The NEW me has a good lawyer and a mantra: “Trust that he sucks”. And he does suck.

        The new me will hire someone to do what asshat won’t do and the new me’s lawyer will put the bill in the settlement. Too bad for him that we live in an at-fault state and I have mounds of evidence of his infidelity, his lack of a job for almost 5 years, his drug dealing, his drug and alcohol abuse and his extensive arrest record, so the longer he delays, the more he shows his ass to me, the court, and everyone else. Freedom is just around the corner. I just need to remember to be patient…and mighty.

  • YesyesYES. Managed EVERYTHING once I saw how he mismanaged. I actually started doing it all out of compassion, plus it seemed to make sense to put the most organized person in charge of that kind of thing. And of course, he was always too busy “running a business” (UBT: fucking other women on the side and writing off their fun adventures as business expenses).

    When I would request a little more adulting on his part, I got the classic blameshift: Why are you so controlling/demanding/uptight/You’re not the boss of me. {Insert image of a petulant 4-year-old stomping his foot here.}

    I’m free now, and even though he still has some impact on my life regarding the children, it’s getting less and less — especially as they see that Mom is responsible and dependable and dad is a fuckwit. Only one kid remains sucking on the hopium pipe, and hopefully that will end soon.

    Hang in there, fellow Chumps. It does get better.

  • This so resonated with me. I was definitely the only adult. My stbxh was Peter Pan, having fun avoiding any responsibility and allowing me to pick up the slack every. single. time. I was in charge of bills(he made lots of cash I’m sure he hid lots), the kids, the house, all work in and about the house, planning trips , basically everything. He worked his business(I worked mine as well),drank smoked, put his friends first discarded his son basically at birth and more than likely was screwing around too(lots of opportunity as I was busy doing everything and being the adult while he wouldn’t come home until 9-10 every night as he was “building his business”. I even said it but did nothing about it. I was in love/trauma bonded big time. He carries on now with the latest schmoopie who makes good money while he has gone back to his losing business (after I made him give it up after he lost half of our life savings in it). She is his new mommy/wife appliance. He found another sucker. I could have felt sorry for her if I wasn’t 90%convinced she slept with a married man. All he had to say about our 34 years together–“you were good at making money” and “I have to get rid of my old life to live a new one” and the best one of all “I just wanna have FUN!!” POS!

  • “You’ll accommodate and resent.”

    Story of my former marriage.

    Yesterday, I was hanging out with friends, and one of my married friends talked about how she can’t leave her husband with her kids when things like homework need to get done because they don’t get done. Now, I don’t think there’s cheating going on in her relationship, but when she said that, it brought me back to my former marriage. My ex made sure that the bills were paid because he was hyper about money (ask me how many times I was interrogated about my spending), but he really didn’t do much else.

    Yesterday, when my friend said that, I thought to myself, I’m so grateful that I’m no longer dealing with that. At least now, when something doesn’t get done, it just doesn’t get done because I didn’t get to it. It’s not because there’s a fully capable adult at home who would rather sit on his butt and play around on the internet (likely on a cheating site) than help keep our home life running smoothly. It’s nice not to feel that resentment anymore.

  • Picture a teenage boy. He tells mom he will be at Fred’s house but he’s really over smoking pot and underage drinking with Barney. He comes home “on time” and makes a big show of saying goodnight, then sneaks out the side door and meets his friends parked around the corner. They laugh and off into the night they go. He plays the “good son” beautifully all the while he is skipping school and running around with his friends doing the usual teenage things. Typical. Not really all that horrible. Except he swaps his mom for his wife and continues this exact same behavior (with more skirt chasing and sex inserted) for the next 30 years. Ex is still close friends only with his high school buddies even though they live far apart. And of course, his high school boyfriend is still his boyfriend. Peter Pan to the max. I always resented the “mom” roll … talk about not feeling loved or sexually wanted. Life is so much better over here in Adult-land. Big sigh of relief.

    • So true, Dixie!!! We never asked or wanted to be cast in the role of mommy. What is wrong with these men?!!! Grow the hell up!!!!

  • Narcissist’s prayer

    That didn’t happen
    And if it did, that’s not a big deal
    And if it was, that’s not my fault
    And if it was, I didn’t mean it
    And if I did
    You deserved it

  • It is so odd how they don’t want the responsibility, but then resent you for taking care of what needs to be done. My XH actually had the nerve to ask me why I spend all my money on bills?!! Ugh, DUH- somebody has to do it, they need to be paid, and why aren’t you contributing more??? He is a loser who has leeched off of people his whole life (I later found out), but yet wants to be envious of me and treat me like shit just because I made a life for myself before I met him. He would complain that my house was only in my name. Yes, because I bought it long before I met him and I wasn’t going to be stupid enough to put him on it. The entitled Peter Pan with the “You’re not the boss of me” mentality and the “you’re like my strict mommy that I need to rebel against.” Yep, so damn pathetic. So glad I’m done with that, I need a real man next time!!!

    • I think they’re jealous, on some level. They WANT to be as good at managing their lives as we are, but they just don’t have the focus or commitment. So they resent that we are able to get done what they cannot.

  • I’ve been reading here for a couple of weeks but this post is so much my life I had to post. My ex told me I had made him a “manchild”. That he was a manchild was 100% true. I worked full time supporting us while he was substitute teaching trying to find a full time position, did all the shopping, yard work, finances, cleaning. The only thing he did was cook. I would ask him to take care of a few things while I was working and he was sitting at home and he would tell me I gave him too many things and to-do lists overwhelmed him.

    And when he left me for a woman he met on Tinder a month prior she made him a budget in order for him to make sure he could leave and be financially ok. Even his parents who were otherwise horrible in the aftermath of it all told me he has the emotional capacity of a 16 year old. It was a horrible dynamic but I was so afraid of coming across as naggy that I just kept accommodating. Luckily I’ve been out on my own for 10 months now and officially divorced since May and I no longer have to deal with his crap.

  • This was my marriage. It was exhausting. He’d bitch that he didn’t understand where all of our money went, when we had gone from 1 paid off car, to 2 cars financed. I didn’t want to get brand new cars, but he insisted. Chump that I was, I figured: well, he’s 8 years older, works in finance, I’m sure he knows what he’s doing. Then again, when we met, his credit was totally trashed. That should have been a sign. I learned what I needed to know about how credit works (I’m from a different country) and took over paying his bills. I called his creditors, set up payment plans for him, made sure our bills were paid, the whole nine yards. When I’d try to sit him down to look at our finances, he’d blow me off, saying that I had this. Yes, but I’d still like to discuss it.

    It’s so funny, because now that I no longer have to tip toe around him, I just feel so much better. So much more alive. Life has gotten it’s spark back again. Even though it’s raining and dreary outside, I have no money, I get food stamps, life is fan-fucking-tastic.

  • This all is so true! I came to this realization after my divorce. I know CL tells us we should not try to unravel the skein, but we all know on some level how difficult that can be. Yep, I reviewed my marriage from beginning to end and I came to the ugly conclusion that I was just the “unpaid, unappreciated organizer” in his life. I kept everything afloat and running in our household and he expected and demanded that I do so! That was my job damn it and I had better perform well or the shit would hit the fan! The only bonus I can think of that comes out of this mess is the fact that once the divorce is final we are more than capable of handling being alone and doing well on our own. Not only did I realize how little he did at home and how he contributed absolutely nothing, it made the transition nearly seamless! I echo just about everything that has been posted from organizing finances to trips without one iota of input from the spouse! But mark my words, if you screw up one small thing, they will make your life a living Hell! Once we were divorced, man-child moved in with Schmoopie. It lasted exactly four months. Not only was she sick of taking care of every detail in his life, but he also got cancer and Schmoopie realized the fairy tale had ended! Guess who he tried to suck back in? Assholes, all of these cheaters!

  • Oh, and the Chump as Wendy and OW as TinkerBell? SPOT ON. Because Wendy is so fucking exhausted after taking care of everything and everyone that she barely has time to do anything for herself. TinkerBell just shows up now and then with her sparkly glittery pussy.

    Because being organized and responsible and adulting is so UNSEXY.

    Just typing this makes me so fucking angry!!!!

    • Yeah, ex complained bc I didn’t wear mini skirts like OW#1, or high heels like OW#2. Because I was working 2 jobs where you have to look respectable AND be on your feet for hours, and bracketing that by walking two kids to and from school before and after work, and after coming home taking care of all the kid care and cooking.

      Maybe there are people out there who can do that in a mini skirt and heels, but not me.

      And BTW, I loved putting on the short skirt and the heels to go out with him! How often did that happen, unless I organized AND pushed? And when it did, how often did I hear or see in his face that he liked how I looked? NEVER.

  • OMG — this explains a lot of aspects in my marriage but STBX gaslit me all along and said that because he “worked so hard (e.g. self pit channel all the way — such a sad sausage!)” he shouldn’t have to do many of the family tasks/responsibilities. Never mind that I worked as as an attorney also. He would rage at me for even suggesting he participate — for 25 years!!!!! Ugh. I never wanted to be in charge of any of this but I wanted things done, so I did them and I resented the fuck out of him when he wouldn’t help. The list of things he either wouldn’t do, or would passive-aggressively sabotage included laundry, any yard work, cooking, shopping, cleaning anything in the house, keeping the family calendar, knowing when the kids’ activities were occurring and where, anything to do with the kids’ school, medical/dental appointments and bills (including for himself), anything related to vacations or travel (he did not even know how to rent a car when he bailed and he’s a 50 year old partner in a big law firm!), anything related to home maintenance, paying bills, getting the mail and sorting it, anything related to running our rental homes (dealing with renters, vacancies, maintenance), anything to do with entertaining friends and neighbors, carpools, decorating for holidays, anything to do with car maintenance or putting gas in the cars, buying and wrapping gifts, responding to social invitations, doing volunteering at kids’ schools, for their sporting teams, etc.. . . . I’m sure there’s more but my brain is blocking these painful memories.

    I actually like the thought of STBX and slut-child (she was living with her daddy when she met STBX and at 30 had never lived on her own, doesn’t know how to boil water, had terrible credit. . . ) trying to manage. It is not how I would live, EVER! I heard that they had lived together for a year in an expensive but tiny studio apartment (he was lying the whole time) and did not have a single stick of furniture except for a cheap mattress and nothing on the walls, no decorations, nothing to make it homey or cozy. Yuck! I didn’t even live like that when I moved out on my own at 17.

    One benefit to this whole dynamic is that when STBX left, it was actually easier in many ways: I was already doing almost everything so it really didn’t change my lifestyle at all.

    I am making a promise to myself that I will never tolerate that uneven shit from anyone ever again. I’d rather live alone the rest of my life than sign up for that abuse again.

    To add insult to injury — he never appreciated one sacrifice I made. He never even acknowledged it. He acted entitled to this inequality. And I went along with that. For the better part of 3 decades. Waaahhhhhhh

    • Amen! My transition wasn’t nearly as hard (not counting emotionally) as it should have been. Just proves that he did jack for years. And I, too, would rather be alone for the rest of my life then ever be in a messed up relationship ever again.

    • Motherchump, yes, same here. When I tossed him out, no biggie, all I had to do was get a lawn service to cut the lawn. Yes, he was a good Bob Vila when he felt like it, again no biggie, I found a great handy man. Beyond that my life is just so much more quiet and enjoyable.

  • My STBX put his paycheck into our joint checking and from there I managed everything needed to plan for big purchases, kids, and paying bills. I was responsible for figuring it all out. He then kept all the income from his other business to himself. He drank, gambled, and wine and dined the other women from there. I was pretty much kept in the dark as to where he spent this.

    So, my STBX got the best of both worlds. He let me have all the responsibility to figuring out the day to day crap and then he controlled all the play money.

    Stupid shit doesn’t know that I am now tracking and documenting the hell out of his spending from the business. He isn’t going to like it when the judge says that is considered income as well as his salary when it comes to determining support. Does he really think it is invisible and he is entitled to keep it all for himself? Support for 3 kids will prove that as a no.

  • “Adults Only Need Apply”

    If I were ever to pursue online dating, this would be my tagline.

    And if there were ever a CL column tailor-made for my marriage, it is this one. Like many here, this was my marriage to a tee. When we first started out, he was 23 & I was 32. He had lived on his own a bit, knew how to do laundry and cook. A good sign, I thought. So we divvied up chores… and his never got done, except laundry. Mowing the lawn? Just one more day. So I would do it, no big deal, I like a nicely mowed lawn, no problem.

    Fast forward sixteen years. I’ve paid for everything: our house, our trips, .. he buys groceries once in a while but always weird ingredients for some special thing he wants to make, never staples like bread & milk. I nag him to do projects he’s promised to do, he doesn’t do them, I do them, he gets angry, “I was GOING to do that!”

    So I actually had the conversation: I feel like your mom, and I don’t want to be your mom. I want to be your partner, your lover! It’s creepy and gross for me to feel like you’re my kid! His reply was that he was TRYING to do some of the stuff I wanted him to do but he never got any credit for the stuff he did “right” (like getting home from work on time — he’d come peeling up into the driveway at 9:59 if he said he’d be home by 10).

    So many of the things other chumps have listed here apply: the travel grievances, the nitpicking about things that weren’t done to his liking (especially painting — jesus, every little line had to be just perfect! and yet those upstairs windows went YEARS without any paint on them at all!), … all of it.

    And on Dday, when I found out he’d used our marriage to “grow up” into a respectable position as restaurant owner (guess who’s money THAT was!) and springboard off into a shiny new life with a young chippy who thinks he’s the cat’s pajamas (look at all he’s accomplished, after all!), leaving behind all that trash of unmet expectations, disappointments, compromise and negotiations, and also a deep abiding (yet worthless, to him) love and devotion, … as I sat shell-shocked, sobbing and shaking, he said, (he actually said) “I’m surprised because I thought that you felt the same way.” Evidently my comment about feeling like a mother (which I’d made at least a year prior) was a sign to give up on the marriage rather than to try to improve it.

    These cheaters see what they want to see. They coast along their lives at a superficial level and anything that doesn’t jive with their world view gets rationalized or thrown away. Sometimes both.

    • They do see what they want to see. I’m sure my X perceives me as irresponsible in certain ways, because I did not always complete home improvement projects on time, and did run late. But he never acknowledged that I had a full-time job, was doing 95% of the parenting of two children with severe dietary restrictions, running 65% of the household. I routinely complained that, except for Saturday date nights, my life was sheer drudgery. I had no free time, gave up all my hobbies, and it took me eons to read books (which I adore) because I could muster only 2 pages per night before I fell asleep from sheer exhaustion (average hours of sleep per night for 15 years was 5 hours). And while I kept the downstairs immaculate, the upstairs with the playroom was rarely 100% neat.

      These ‘deficiencies’ on my part then became the basis for why he cheated on me, and “I wasn’t doing what he asked,” (said to me), and why there were “marital problems” (his public line). I can’t decide if I hate him more for the cheating or the blameshifting that cast me into a lose-lose situation the entire time of my marriage. What I do know is that it is a relief to be out of the dynamics with him, and I will never tolerate lose-lose situations for more than 5 seconds ever again (in any realm).

      • I actually forgave the initial affair … but I will never forgive the blame-shifting, cruel words, and mindfuckery afterwards, not to mention his silence on what might have happened during our relationship, leaving me to piece it together myself and robbing me of what I thought were wonderful memories with him. That hurt more than the initial “sex act” he engaged in with her … the fact that I could be a puddle in front of him, crying, asking why and how and when, and he couldn’t give a flying fuck and instead would say something else cruel. Later on he admitted he said those things because I loved him too much and he wanted me to hate him … spoken like a true narc who thinks he’s figured it out, but in reality he’s just admitted to intentional cruelty … even worse.

        He knew from the outset I’d be the loser and he never let me know whereas every fucking time he looked like he was going to lose in whatever he was doing, I’d have his back. I will never forgive him for that.

      • I agree, Tempest. Every time I read CL, I’m reminded anew that there’s an excuse for everything:
        Chump is:
        — Too busy. You don’t spend enough time with me!
        — Too inactive. You rely on me for everything!
        — Too domineering.
        — Too passive.
        — Too sexual.
        — Not sexual enough.

        And they’ve all got the revisionist history that they didn’t change, that they ALWAYS felt that way, that they TRIED to tell us but we never listened…..

        I, too, am so grateful not to have to deal with it anymore. My dogs do not EVER pull this kind of mindfuckery with me. SO much better off.

        • So true. Apparently mine also tried to tell me, so he said. True except for the dog part … my dog is always trying to pull one over on me. “Give me a cookie!! What??? You gave me a cookie? When? I don’t remember. Give me a cookie!”

  • I must say this hit a raw nerve. Before I found out about the cheating, I had enough. I felt like I was his mother. He would do his “chores” and pay his “room and board.” That was it. I did the rest, all of it. He would be off on his motorcycle, golfing, “hanging out with friends.” I was the one that took care of his bat-shit crazy mother all winter. I did the shopping, cooking, cleaning, etc and worked 50-60 hours. He rarely took me out the past 3 years. I remember sitting in my office thinking…WTH, I’m raising another kid. I wanted out and finding out about his affair gave me the nerve to end it….right then and there. This is the part that angers me the most, being his “Mother.” Well, he is almost 62 with a woman who has two children so we all know how that is going to end. I know with every ounce of my being he will come knocking on the door to return. That ship has sailed, Peter Pan!

      • The idiot is saying, “Thanked her for what? Why? What’d she do?” The are clueless.

        I found a dress hanging in my closet which I spent the world on … a beautiful long black dress that cost me $10 at the local thrift shop. OMH!!!! She’s spending way too much on clothing!!!!

        I realized, sadly, in our 12-year relationship he never took me anywhere where I could wear that dress. I realized the other day that it has been 3 years out from D-Day, but 5 years out from actually being taken out anywhere, and the last few dinners we had out, he, in hindsight, didn’t look engaged.

        When he complained to me that we slept in separate rooms (dying pet, family problems, he drank and snored, I worked frantically trying to make money because I wasn’t contributing enough, etc., ) and he had gone looking for sex instead of voicing his frustration, I thought, how different we were … all I really wanted was a chance to wear a pretty dress, never got it, but never went looking for anyone else who would have jumped at the chance. I can’t say I’ve had a stellar past … but I grew up, and I thought he had, too, at 60. Nope.

        So I noticed in a picture of a function the two of them were at, that his AP is wearing a sparkly dress that totally is too young for her aging body … and then I noticed a picture of her daughter wearing the same dress in another picture. Mommy Dearest gets to go out in a pretty dress with my ex, and her daughter is dressing her up for the evening to look good for a man the daughter knows lived with me when he was fucking her mother.

      • Oh my god — this just reminded me of a conversation I had with XH, very much in line with this exact thread:

        I used to try new recipes once in a while, and it got to the point where XH would just dive into his food and not even say thanks. So I told him one day after he’d taken three or four bites and showed no sign of slowing down, “You know, it would be nice if you would say thank you” (I still cannot believe I was having this conversation with an adult man). He got pouty and actually said, “Well, now that you’ve told me to say thank you, now I don’t want to say it, because I’m just saying it because you told me to say it…” !!!!! Unfuckingbelievable. So I said, “Well, I guess I just won’t cook for you anymore, then.”

        Yeah, it’s good that marriage is over! 🙂

        • This thread has opened up Pandora’s box! NW, I would cook some fabulous meals spending most of the day in the kitchen. When I would serve it, his face would be all over the plate, woofing it down like it was the last meal on earth. One day after not hearing a thank you, I said “you’re welcome.” Idiot never even looked up from his trough.

        • On top of it NW, I worked like a dog to make the money, to buy the food, shop, carry it in the house, put it away. Then take it out, cook it, serve it…for what?……a pig would at least snort out of contentment! “Squeal like the pig you are, skankboy!”

            • Mine would cry and say, “I wanted you to be proud of me. I didn’t know you loved me.” Big sob. It came as a complete surprise to him to find out I had loved him all these years, that things he did were noticed by me and made my heart soar (I didn’t know he was deaf and couldn’t hear me tell him … and I have a basement full of love notes, cards, memorabilia that should have reminded me). He was totally gobsmacked that I was actually upset that he found someone else (she was right under that rock over there) because he didn’t think I’d care. WTF? And it was a double betrayal, with a whore I didn’t like before, let alone afterwards.

              So when I said, “Yes, I was in love with you…,” he said, “I never asked you to love me.” Incredible.

    • I think you deserve special applause for taking care of your mother-in-law. That’s like having to manage Peter Pan and some female version of Captain Hook! A colleague cheated on and divorced his spouse–and expected her to keep housing and caring for his mother. She didn’t, but he would show up at parties complaining about how terrible his EX was for letting “his mother” down. I was so appalled by him, my only strategy was avoid, avoid, avoid. Now, I wish I’d called him on his B.S.

      Years later when I divorced, my mother-in-law was furious with me. It took me awhile to figure out why, but I am sure part of the issue is that she intended to eventually move in with us (she hinted often enough about how “good sons” take care of their mothers). But now, that I’m no longer babysitting her son she’s having to face the fact that he would no more take care of her without me than he would sprout wings and fly to the moon.

      I am chumpy enough that I might even feel guilty about my mother-in-law’s fear of being alone in her final years, but, having never been burdened by generosity, she’s more than able to pay for any care she needs or company she wants.

  • I’ve been reading here religiously for a year and half. It never ceases to amaze me how similar cheaters are. This is absolutely my story. Cheater ex and I met when I was 20 and he was 25. I was instantly attracted to his spontenaity and his rejection of societal expectations. I thought, “this is so different than my parents’ marriage! They are so routine and boring! Too responsible! I want passion!” (Ugh. Now I know how healthy my parents’ marriage is.) Throughout our marriage, I took care of literally every task needed. Bills, taxes, housing, banking, car maintenance, housework, yard work, all shopping, raising our child, everything child-related, gift giving, remembering family on their birthdays, travel. Oh, did I mention that over the course of our marriage I earned three degrees and then went to work full time? I guess I thought that we were young and at some point my ex would grow up. He never did; he only got worse. I would ask him to do minimal things and he would “need help,” complain, or blantantly disregard what I had asked (ie. I text him a picture of the specific item needed to purchase and he would buy something completely different just so I wouldn’t ask him again). I know this makes me sound like a control freak. I know I’m bossy, but for the love of god, if he would have just done a FEW minimal tasks to help me out I would’ve been satisfied.

    Now seeing him after the divorce mostly functioning, I find it truly amazing that he was “suddenly” able to do everything without my help! The OW dumped him shortly after I did, so he’s really on his own, and now I know: it was all an act! He bought a car, opened a bank account, rented an apartment, and pays his bills. He was SO good at acting helpless, I totally bought it. To really make it a shit sandwich, on top of his helplessness, while I was being the adult and resenting him for his lack of responsibility, he decided to be a teenager about it and “take it out on me” by spending all our money, drinking, ignoring me and our daughter, posting on hookup sites, and cheating on me.

    The one benefit to him doing absolutely nothing in our marriage was that when D-day hit, I had no doubt that I’d be ok. I knew how to do everything on my own. I actually found it refreshing to have him out of my hair. Now I could take care of myself and feel empowered rather than resentful and embarrased of my sorry excuse for a partner. I even have more time to myself now that I’m divorced because of his four times a month visitation with our daughter. I have extended time to myself! And I use that time to the fullest to do whatever I’m needing at the moment – time to do work, housework, exercise, see a friend, or just sleep. It’s glorious and I love my life now.

    I have hope for the future that I’ll be lucky enough to find a partner who has a similar level of ambition toward life as me. Now the question is where does someone like me (an introvert with almost full custody of my young daughter and a full time job) find that person? Lol.

  • So much of this was my life, CL. I was the earner, but I played chicken with finances to try to get him to pull his weight, or even just contribute. But it didn’t work and made me way too anxious so I went back to work and got stuck working 60 hours with 2 young kids, missing out on time with them and I resented the hell out if it. So then I was the bitch and didn’t appreciate “all he did for me”. Anything he contributed he acted like it was a special favor he needed to get mountains of praise for. I do massively more- it gets ignored or criticized.
    In addition to living off of me and financing his double life, he was cruelly controlling and judgemental. I would get a 10 minute lecture on how my forgetting to carry the laundry basket up the stairs cost the “family” 17 seconds (I shit you not- this was a real conversation) of productivity (and the 10 minutes to berate me- where does that go in the calculus?) If I tried to anticipate his needs I was told I should not make assumptions. If I stayed out of the way I was told I should “see the court” (i.e.- anticipate his needs). If I didn’t fill the butter dish, it was a sign of my lack of love for him. He could not be expected to tolerate the thoughtlessness of a wife who would leave him to try spreading hard butter on his toast. And all this while unbeknownst to me he was spending thousands of $ on his dick and his ego. But boy, I better not cost the family 17 seconds or leave him without soft butter.
    When after dday he actually drew a part time paycheck and provided the family with health coverage for 3 years (8 months not working but on “disability”) he then quit and considered restitution had been made for his bad acting in the first 8 years, and he just went back to me paying for him. I used to resent and feel outraged at his treatment of me and I spent so many hours and such energy trying to understand it, stop it, escape it, detach from it, or beat him at his game. It never worked. Divorce, NC except for necessary parenting, via email, control over my financial future. Mommy no more to that 60 year old petulant nasty toxic teenager.

  • Ummmm….. red flags that I was the parent???
    He played Warcraft on the computer and surfed porn all day and night that he was off work ( he is a firefighter 24 on 48 off) to the point that he would forget to get our child from the school bus.
    When something would break in the house he would say ” who do we call for that?” Never tried to fix anything.
    Argued with my 6 yr old nephew in Seaworld because my nephew didn’t want to do what he wanted to do… t kidding.
    Now I wonder who the six year old was in that scenario.

  • I have a different take on the “parenting” of X: he was decidedly better than me at finances (does day trading), handled the mortgage, etc. But his poor impulse control, and cleaning up the damage from it, was exhausting. He also could not be trusted with any inconvenient parenting, even when his children’s health was at stake.

    -oldest daughter has Celiac’s disease and could not tolerate even slight amounts of gluten. He takes her out to eat at age 7, having been warned to get her gluten free food. He orders quesadillas, she reminds him to ask for corn tortillas, and he responds, “they always come on corn.” Um, no, that’s because Mom always orders them on corn. He then forces her to eat flour tortilla quesadillas when they come, and she ends up in the hospital.

    -I mentioned this in the forums–X has written 5 books by himself, dedications to 12 people within those books. Nine of those people are no longer talking to him, and 2 that are still talking to him don’t think very highly of him.

    -on vacation, he gets massively drunk, runs from the restaurant (I had left already because of his bad behavior) to the rental property, trips on stone steps and bloodies his face. He then jumps in the pool at the rental house, and pulls youngest daughter into the pool (age 9) with her clothes still on. She is traumatized to this day that he was so insensitive to laugh about it because he was “just having fun.” Plenty of other poor-impulse stories to relate, esp. after he’d been drinking (he was a “fun” drunk), but you get the picture.

    • He should have been charged with child abuse both for the flour tortillas and the pool–whoTF DOES THAT?

      • True. And I forgot about the time oldest daughter ended up being taken by ambulance for spinal X-rays because he had such a strong physical reaction to being tickled during a tickle fight with her that she couldn’t move her neck. Fucking man baby.

        • and the ambulance drivers did query her all the way to the hospital to find out if child abuse was the reason for her injury.

            • Oh my goodness, my ex used to find it hilarious to throw every one all over the place – knocked me over at his parents’ place “play fighting” – I was terrified I was going to slam my back into their stone hearth! I remember renting a house in Florida once and we had 5 kids with us. I got out of the pool as I was so sick of having my head held under water. Eventually my ex had made 3 of the 5 kids cry so I looked straight at him and said “hey, you’ve only got 2 more kids to make cry and then we can consider it a full house right?” He was furious at me, but as long as he was “having fun” it was ok – didn’t matter who got hurt or who ended up crying – and he NEVER stopped until that was the result!

    • They’re just such assholes. I’m sure XH would tell similar stories about me being such a wet blanket, but some of his shenanigans had bad endings like yours, as well, and he would just blow it off. We were out with friends on a camping trip and he thought he’d be “funny” by throwing a rock at me, near my head to startle me. He missed and hit me square in the middle of the back, hard. He just giggled about it like a little boy who’d been caught out being naughty instead of a man who just intentionally threw a rock at his wife because he thought it was funny.

      On another camping trip, he and some of “the guys” decided they were going to go climb an old water tower. Sitting around the campfire, we could hear the rocks clanging against the metal tower, with XH yelling some unintelligible garble (I think they were throwing rocks AT him — funny, huh?). One of the other wives asked me, “Aren’t you worried? ARen’t you going to go tell him to come down from there?” — So I think that whole “being their mom” thing is a bit pervasive in relationships (though, since half of marriages end in divorce, maybe it’s just Pre-divorce behavior).

      But that shit with your kids? It’s part of the reason I never wanted to have kids with XH (aside from me, personally, not wanting kids) — I could see him pushing Junior off a steep ski hill or drowning him on a kayak trip, or just forgetting the kid and leaving him somewhere.

  • Raise my hand for this too. I did EVERYTHING, all the physical and most especially the emotional work. I was such a chump. I eventually hired a house cleaner to come in once every two weeks so I could do everything else in my ‘spare time’ but I did not see how much emotional labour I was doing.

    One of the frustrations for me in this environment is that veto power they always want to wield. Hey albatross we need to landscape this new house you wanted how about xyz. Naw I don’t want that. Well what do you want. I don’t know. How about ABC. Naw I don’t like that.

    CL and Chump Nation thanks for reminding me of another benefit of being on my own.

    • Alice, I didn’t realize what a parasite my ex was, because he did work hard at his job, study hard to improve his professional prospects, and do some of the housework.

      But your post reminded me about the emotional work. O.M.G. ALL on me, and then some.

      He’s an anxious guy, and totally needed me to help him manage his anxiety and stress. ALL THE TIME. Let him vent and rant, be super supportive. Help him figure stuff out. Help him plan. Listen to more venting and ranting. (14 bosses in 17 years, and EVERY ONE an idiot. What a coincidence!)

      I managed our relationships with our friends, including the few who were originally his friends. Very few. I managed his relationships with his family, as well as mine. I managed his social anxiety around all those relationships. I managed his relationship with our kids. I coached him on dealing with people at work.

      Plus of course, I tried and tried to manage our relationship. I was caring, affectionate, assertive, tried super hard to do the things that were important to him, and to make clear what was important to me. I ‘re-set’ the relationship after his first affair. I did it again (although with even better boundaries) after he threatened me physically, very very convincingly, and the kids and I ended up at a women’s shelter for 4 days. I dragged us into counselling after affair #1 (he wouldn’t go anymore after 5 or 6 sessions), and required him to see a counsellor after the shelter experience. (That lasted 5 sessions. I didn’t realize that a legit counsellor for anger management seeks info from the partner of the angry one. I’m sure he did his usual minimzing and justifying, there.) I did all the things we do when we think we have a partner, then when I realized how useless that was, I stopped doing those things and just set my boundaries, and acted according to my own self, the way I would have had I been in a satisfying marriage.

      Plus, I eventually realized he did the FEW household tasks that he actually didn’t mind doing. The ones he didn’t much like? All on me, no matter how I felt about them, and no matter if I was sick or the kids were, or my back was a wreck. I did way more of the parenting, because he a) had no patience b) was sooo tired and stressed, and c) always had work stuff he needed to do at home. Then I did even more of the parenting and the household stuff, so he could work plenty of overtime, then do several certifications and an MBA. Did I mention how much all that extra education helped his career? And that he fucked around the second time, leading to my kicking him out, the very first year he out-earned me? (Except the years I was home w/the babies.) And of course, I had very calmly and competently dealt with his multiple periods of unemployment and the financial stress it created, over the years – must have been because of all those idiot bosses, no?

      I even convinced myself that his relationship with the kids could be better, once we separated and I stopped the managing. He had me almost convinced that I was ‘interfering’. He’d step up because I wasn’t around, but it was just visitation so wouldn’t be too big a ‘burden’ on him. And because he’d have little responsibility for the kids’ day to day lives, he could just enjoy that relationship and make it better. Of course he blew it right out of the water within a year. Asshole. Lazy, entitled, selfish asshole. And now, of course, the ‘reason’ he has so little contact with the kids? It’s because I alienate them from him. Of course.

      Other than my own emotional pain and that of the kids, life was really not that different once he was gone. A cleaning woman for a half day, once every two weeks, easily covers what he did around the house and way more, and the kids are big enough now to cut our tiny lawns, the twice or three times a year it needs it.

      He looked and sounded like such an adult. But he was a big, lazy, entitled baby.

    • I used to refer to myself as “Julie McCoy, Cruise Director” from the old TV show, “Love Boat.”

      “What shall we do today, XH?”
      “I dunno.”
      “Would you like to just stay home and relax?”
      “Ok, what do you want to do, then?”
      “I dunno.”
      “… OK, well, we could go for a hike, or go visit Switzerland friends, or go see a movie, or… [ad infinitum]…”
      “I dunno….”

      And, as far as chores go, XH would always ask, “Well, what do you think needs doing around the house?” when I said there was housework to be done. I said, “Look around. What do YOU think needs to get done? What would you do if I weren’t here, you know, as if you actually lived here?”

      For not the last time today, I am SO glad to be done with that!

  • Tempest

    Having Celiac’s I can’t imagine the total disregard he had for your daughter. I once mistakenly ate one small pancake and was sick for three days. The pain is horrible. What an entitled prick.

  • This is all bringing it all back. My favorite thing was him wanting to be paid for doing stuff. Mind you I worked full time to his rarely working, I paid all the bills, managed the household, grocery shopping, investments, cleaning, cooking. Everything.

    When I would get my car detailed at my office while I was at work he would get pissed at me and say “why do you pay someone else to do that when you can pay me”. And he was dead serious. I paid ALL the household bills, bought him expensive trucks, motorcycles, gear, etc and he still thought he should get paid for doing something a normal husband does for free.

    I want to kick myself now for not kicking his ass out the first time he said something like this. Towards the end I did one day, when he asked why I would pay someone to do this stuff but not him, my answer was “well they don’t live here rent free, have me pay all their bills and fund their very extravagant lifestye.” He didn’t speak to me for a week after that one. Now it makes me laugh but then I wanted to rip his entitled head off.

  • I have to admit this was me in my marriage, being the parent and being resented for it.

    I did 90+ percent of the adult chores and received no respect whatsoever for it. The harder I worked the more I was resented for it because I was not always carefree and positive, however if I didn’t do the work I did I would not have been able to support my wife and kids successfully.

    I was continually gaslighted about adult issues like finances, continually disrespected and if I expressed boundaries on adult issues I was a controlling monster, and if I let things go it was up to me to fix everything, of course with no credit whatsoever for it.

    In the end she decided it was better in her life to sleep with someone in my family.

    In the final analysis I had to look at why I allowed this woman into my life and why I enabled such teenage girl behavior. Part of it is that she was a teenager when I was first with her!

    Thank God those days are well behind me!

  • My ex was very much like this in a lot of ways. His objective was to push me into suggesting or creating something that he could then rebel against. He had no solutions to the real or imagined problems of life, and instead expected me to come up with a wide range of options from which he could pick. He usually rejected all of them without explanation, and then expected me to come up with more options. He ignored me when I asked for his ideas and what he thought we should do. When I pushed him for input, he’d tell me that he would think about it, but of course he never followed through. When I’d follow up to see if he’d given it any thought a few days or a few weeks later, he’d get mad at me for not respecting his need for time. He never had any intention of participating in problem solving, just in using this stonewalling technique and my frustration to fuel his manufactured resentment. It’s shocking how much of his abnormal adult behavior I see reflected in the normal behavior of our preschooler. I expect that he and the OW are probably vying for the position of “child” in the relationship given that she has similar characteristics. Oh to be a fly on that wall.

  • What a spot on post. People asked me how I managed after he left. I managed because I was always the mommy. I paid the bills, shopped for groceries, raised our son virtually alone (he was always “working”), did all the housework, took care of his health (he was always ill), bought the cars, solved all the problems, did all the cooking. I worked and had a full time career. He sat his fat ass on the couch and watched tv and complained. He never did a thing in the house. He said we had no money because of me. But after he was gone, even without his money, I am okay. My bills are paid and my credit is good. His bills are never paid and his credit is shot because mommy isn’t there to pay them. And he no longer takes medication for his chronic illnesses because mommy is there to get the prescriptions from the doctor, pick them up and pay for them from the pharmacy, and dole them out to him. He is still with the OW because not fun having sex with mommy! So, how did I manage without him? Easy. He was more work than he was worth.

  • This subject just flares my nightmares right back up. Throughout our marriage, this was a point of contention with us. I begged him to stop making me his parent. As I would cry over how I just wanted a partner, I would just get the cold dark stare. He actually thought it was funny when people would joke he was a ‘kept man’. I was always on alert 24/7 dealing with his addictions and manic behavior and the end costly result doing damage control.

    I learned how to minimize his access to cash to protect our family and shield our kids from his manic episodes but it was a constant battle. Shortly before DDay, I found out he emptied his 401k. Never found out exactly where that money went (I’m sure up his nose). Dead silence from him when I confronted. That went along with everything else. If I had the nerve to ask him to do something around the house, he would bark “Don’t tell me what to do!” Trash day…oops forgot again, despite driving by everyone else’s lined up barrels on his way out for the day. I guess he just assumed I loved hauling it up the long driveway after getting it all together. Help clean the house? You must be kidding. Bills? What are those? He had no clue and could care less despite me repeatedly asking him to sit w. me and go over things. When he decided he wanted a new career and had to go back to school for it the same time our daughter began college, he quit his job and signed up full-time without a second thought. Again, he just expected his ‘parent’ would handle it all…live on one income and pay, which this pathetic chump did.

    Chump lesson learned. Fast forward, one year back employed with a promise to rebuild college funds, he shuts his direct deposit off weeks before and gives me some lame excuse why it occurred, I never saw another penny of support from him. Daughter in college and tuition due, mortgage, and dealing w. the aftermath…no worries for him. He simply took off after 26 years. Left his ‘parent’ to deal w. it all with the parting words (by text of course) he felt he was being controlled and not allowed to chase his passions and ambitions in life. Yup.

    Fast forward, I guess he hasn’t figured out how to play adult yet in his new life as I have directed multiple bill collectors to his new address. I guess the OW or ‘FW’ as I refer to her isn’t doing as good a job in ‘parenting’. 😉
    All I can say is thank god I’m free from policing and being a ‘parent’ to someone other than my children.

    • Oh my word that was my life to a “T”. Between us we made good money but I could never keep up with his spending. We should have had THOUSANDS in the bank but I was always running up to the Credit Union to get another loan to keep us afloat. He was drunk one day (what’s new) and went out and ordered himself a €60,000 car (probably around $80,000) at the time. Then the new camper (€65,000), new guitars, you name it. That was one thing I had written into the divorce settlement – he had to make the payments on those because I had nothing to do with buying them. Funny thing, but my car was valued at €1,000 in the divorce paperwork but I took better care of it than he did his. He rolled 3 cars drink driving and I swear that’s why he went back to the US. The French cancelled (not suspended) his licence and he would have to take it again, including the Code, in French and he knew he couldn’t do it. Technically, since he now lives in the US, he is not allowed to have a foreign bank account, but he never informed anyone yet that he left and I know for a fact he is about €10,000 overdrawn over here. The idiot also hasn’t got it through his thick skull that as long as he has his resident’s permit for France he is liable for taxes over here. “WHATTTTT? But I don’t live there”! So hand in your permit asshole. I had a green card for the US but handed it back in 1992 when I knew I wouldn’t be living there again. If I hadn’t well then I would still be filing US taxes. Oh my goodness, it is such a relief to have half the income and ten times the savings!

  • I know that most on here have been the cheated on…..that being said…. has anyone know of a cheater and sent or thought of sending the book anonymously to the spouse ?…..cheaters are so disgraceful….it’s nauseating to think of them getting a way with such abuse…..mental physical and emotionally putting someone in harms way ….

  • Today’s post really hit home on what a chump I was I paid ALL the bills. X kept every dime he made “to reinvest” in his business. And to run off with ow I did all child rearing, housework and yard work. I paid for all vacations even the one his mistress, I didn’t know at the time, went on. The bills were in my name because he was to busy to set up accounts. If I asked him to pay one he would leave it lay knowing I would pay it to keep my credit. He never cleaned up after himself. His biggest bitch after divorce was that I quit paying the bills for his business. WTF WAS I THINKING!!

  • Oh, Lord, what we chumps have endured. Most of us were raised to be chumps, either because of our inherent kindness or our early life circumstances. We are the people who step up, pitch in, help out, and generally make the world run smoothly. Entitled jerk – magnets from the get-go. I hope each and every one of you understands that you are The Capable, The Go-Getter, The Awesome person you are. The kindly spirit who deserves better than you got.

    For our friends still lining up ducks, know that you have it in you to find your better life. Everything you need to do, you’re already doing while dragging a burden you don’t need to carry. A simpler life is a good life. There is so much Mighty on this page, it will carry you through in style. And when you can laugh at the shit you hosed off your shoe, you’ll be back to living your own life instead of serving an immature dictator. Hugs to all.

    • I was working too much and not making enough money, trying to contribute financially, but definitely contributing in every other way. He found someone else with a big income, and didn’t place a value on what I had contributed. On my own I have finally found out how to do a spreadsheet, have taken over the household bills (he still pays the taxes and insurance), am making more money without him around to be doting on, and doing what he said he had wished I had done years ago instead of taking him “for granted”, so he said. I thought love and partnership was to help each other out in whatever way we do best.

      Anyway, he can now look at some of these posts, I’m sure, and see me as the one who didn’t contribute, who pulled the wool over his eyes by being able to manage on my own financially after he’s gone, so I must have been faking it … he could very easily be calling me the narc in this whole thing … but that wasn’t the case. I truly thought I was contributing … I bought the food, some trips, paid the vet bills, gave him lovely birthdays, etc., and dealt with family stuff that was beyond disruptive, I just didn’t pay the household bills nor get myself out of my credit debt I had when he met me.

      There was always this oppression, this standard he had set, and when I did accomplish something, it wasn’t good enough so I’d try harder. When I said to him, “I finally have figured out a plan to contribute more financially”, he said, “What makes you think that will work? Nothing you have done has ever worked.”

      Well, I made heart-healthy meals … does that count?, she asks meekly …

      • Champ, reread your post. Is there any indication there that you were ever going to be in anything other than in a one-down position? NO. Narcs with larger incomes always berate their spouses and expect servitude in return. You will feel stronger day by day. You will chart a course and follow it. You are more than good enough. You need to see that and believe that and live that now.

        • Thanks, Survivor! I’m 2 weeks away from starting my new strategy for staying on top of bills and debts. My spreadsheet is a work of art … you should see the pretty colours!!! I plug in one number, and amazing things happen all over the page!!!

          A couple of years ago I told my creditors my situation, and I got a lot of understanding. I know I’m running out of that window of opportunity … eventually creditors want you to “get over it”, I imagine … so I’m on track for that. One more year and I will be where I should have been 30 years ago, but if I live as long as my mother, I have another 30 left to go!!!

          • Good job, Champ. Communication and planning can make it all happen. Just do what you can to put a few dollars aside for you as you pay those creditors. When it’s over, plan a small bit of fun to celebrate.

  • Not only did I have to do EVERYTHING around the house, he also made sure to UNDO much of what I accomplished. I decided to paint the exterior of the house. I did a nice job- prepped and primed, and it looked great. We had people pulling up to ask the name of the color- everyone loved it… except for him. He decided that I hadn’t prepped it well enough, and there were imperfections he had to patch. So he spackled over these invisible imperfections and just left it like that. Patches everywhere. I was so upset. He said he would texture and paint over them, but months went by and every time I asked him to, I was being controlling and a nag. So I did it. And he found more imperfections to patch over. I begged him to stop. I asked if we could just hire a professional, and he said okay. So we did- and he patched over his work, too! Our house is still covered in white patches.

    At first I thought it was his PTSD. Then when I found out he was on drugs I thought it was that. But looking back, I think it had even more to do with, “You’re not the boss of me”.

    As soon as it warms up I’m painting it, and I’m so thrilled to know he’s out of my life and won’t be around to mess it up again.

    • It’s simpler than that. “If you do it right, I’ll do you wrong.”

      The Barcalounger Perfectionist couldn’t get up and do any of it himself, but he wants the right to critique and destroy the work? What a surprise. Anyone asking about the odd state of your home probably heard how no one can get it right, especially you. Have some champagne chilling when you paint out the flaws in your life he created.

    • What a ridiculous thing to do. Like with little kids, any attention is good attention. I hope you get your freshly painted house soon!

  • So many people here reminding us that as chumps we are typically the ones doing 90% of the heavy lifting in a marriage so we are well set to cope with the physical and organisational demands of coping as a single parent.
    For me at the moment the emotional burden is the hardest bit. The emotional demands of a family are quite a lot for chumps who have typically done all the heavy lifting in this respect too. But after the bomb of ddays my emotional resilience is low just when the kids need you to step it up a gear. And digging out all those emotional attachments that you used to have to them is work. Negotiating how to talk to them, how to split stuff, how to redesign our new lives and where and how they fit into it.
    The hardest thing for me at the moment is that he isn’t struggling at all. He is managing life ok. He is managing his work. He is fine. So maybe his solicitation of my help was always a ploy to keep me hooked. He didn’t ever really want my input or advice. He never changed at all that’s for sure. And this stings so much. He would let me worry about him and suggest things and focus all my attention on him and it was all like water off a ducks back. Unheeded, unnecessary, unused.
    I was a totally invested wife widget.
    So much time, effort and energy all wasted on him. Because I need to feel needed or wanted let alone loved.
    I don’t think I have ever hated anyone as much in my entire life.

    • And the weirdest thing is I feel odd when I don’t tell him stuff. We used to talk everyday about everything (except he didn’t of course) but for me it’s been a real struggle NOT to tell him stuff that happens, things I heard, things I see etc.
      It reminds me how different he must be. If I meet a new person I like I talk about them fairly often. I share my life out loud. But he is obviously very secretive and for him probably our new style of radio silence suits him down to the ground.
      Again I have to make a hard adjustment- he just carries on as before or even better than before.

      • Capricorn, I think I am way further out from DDay than you but I feel like I experienced everything you write about. I think you are in the thick of it. The grief, the anger, the energy-sucking depression. It is horrible. One of the oddest twists is grieving for the person who betrayed you – but that’s what deep feeling human beings do. It’s a bitter irony. And I know your emotional resilience is low which makes everything harder. But I just feel you are SO on the right track – you have such good insights! Hang in there. Better days are coming.((((Hugs))))

      • I agree with everything KathleenK says. Sharing–or just chatting–with your EX is a habit. You will break it by limiting your contact with him. It also really helps to unload on other people. We are here for that, but if you can find a sympathetic friend or family member to talk to face-to-face, that is great too. It will get better.

        Try not to worry about how he’s doing. He treated your terribly, and it doesn’t matter if he is happy or sad, he remains a wretched excuse for a human being. Instead, think about what will make you feel better! Do you need to find more time for selfcare? Do you need to spend time one-on-one with each kid? Do you need to find a group that has nothing to do with your divorce or parenting to give you a break? I never appreciated my job as much as I did during the year I separated–some aspects of my job are so consuming that I could go for hours each day without thinking about my imploding marriage. (Other parts weren’t so consuming, and they were hard to keep up with during that period.)

        We are pulling for you!

      • It’s early days, Cap (and, for the record, every time I type that, I think of Captain America, whose nickname is Cap in the movies — so maybe think of THAT as your spirit animal. You are MIGHTY!!!!).

        Yes, of course you still want to talk to him to tell him things. You have years and years of a history with him. — About a month after Dday, I did something really stupid. Illegal. I was a certifiable crazy person at that time and made a bad choice. I got caught and was forgiven by the authorities but was so mortified at my own behavior that I reached out to the best most trusted friend, XH. I didn’t even think about it, it was instinct. His response was somewhat cold, because of course, after a month, I was Ancient History and someone about whom he cared not one whit. New girl, 100% of resources go to her. — In hindsight, I can’t believe I reached out to him — to HIM!!! But I couldn’t help it. It was just habit.

        And habits are hard to break. Even the bad ones (maybe especially the bad ones). Try not to be so hard on yourself. It’s a process and it takes time. You just have to practice. “Digging new neural trenches” is how I think of it. My brain keeps wanting to go the way it’s always gone, but I have to get out my shovel and start digging, replacing old thoughts and activities and experiences with new ones. — Is it especially cruel and unfair that this is being asked of you JUST at a time when you are exhausted and weak? Yep, but Life isn’t fair (boy, ain’t THAT the truth!), and so I have thought of myself as the hero in an action movie, being asked to keep going when it seems like all is lost (like Captain America! Hey, look, I didn’t even mean to do that!!).

        Three things about your post:
        1. Kids are resilient. They will be okay. I think as long as you continue to be “real” with them, and honest, they’ll come through this fine. Depending on their ages, they’re going through their own life-stage stuff independent of divorce. And so many kids have their own support network in school, with a lot of divorced parents and stepparents and horror stories of their own to share, so you don’t have to do everything for them. What’s the saying? “Don’t let ‘perfect’ be the enemy of ‘good enough’.” or something like that.

        2. In my opinion only — some people never feel this way — those years weren’t wasted because YOU were invested. Those memories you have that haunt you (were they real? did they mean anything?) are valuable because YOU were fully present. — Try not to kick yourself for “needing to be needed.” We ALL need to be needed — except narcs, who are like shallow-rooted weeds with no attachment to anything. I get a little bit sad for them sometimes — there’s some meat-and-potatoes love out there in the world, and they never experience any of it.

        3. Try not to paint too cheery a picture on his Shiny New Life. The fact that he’s not struggling, as far as you can see, is meaningless. I, too, had moments of, “Oh, just you wait, buddy, and see who keeps your life all tidy now, without me!” and nothing ever happened. I wanted his life to collapse into ruin, but it didn’t. But in truth I don’t know anything about his life.

        It’s all one big ugly picture, and the good bits (we’re rid of them, yay!!) go along with the bad bits (what? no karma bus yet???). But it is what it is. And all we can do is try to be gentle with ourselves, to treat ourselves as we would treat a good friend (would you allow a good friend of yours to say the things about herself that you just said about yourself? you would not), and to focus on our own lives and moving forward (or, at the very least, not getting too bogged down in the past — that shit is finished and gone).

        You’ll be alright, Cap. And your kids will, too. — Hugs.

    • Cap, this is where good anger is your friend. You don’t need to figure out how this person should fit into your life. They shouldn’t. It is YOUR life, your priorities, your way forward now. Him wanting your help was just to hand his burdens onto you. Just say no. Drop that weight and you will feel lighter. Let the sunlight in and regain your strength. You can do this.

  • My ExH changes were kind of subtle and gradual, but I remember one specific event that made me have that thought of “if this was how I knew it was I never would have married this guy.”

    When ExH and moved in together, we rented a person’s condo in large complex. He found the place and worked with the owner, so it just sort of defaulted to him taking care of the rent. We didn’t have combined money, so I would pitch in my part of the rent, and he would send a check. Over the course of the 4+ years we lived there we had maybe two occasions where the rent check was late and we mostly blamed that on the USPS. When we bought our house (we subsequently had combined our money), he just kept taking care of that. I would still be looking at the online banking and notice that the mortgage check had posted as a part of just keeping an eye our accounts.

    At some point, once, the mortgage check didn’t clear… so I said “Hey, did you pay the mortgage.” Well he had forgotten so we quickly got it off no harm no foul. Again – never had a problem before and we all have brain fart moments, no big deal.

    A few months later – I’m looking and again no mortgage check cleared. I was like “dude, did you forget to pay the mortgage again.” He flips out. He doesn’t know, and he’s working and he can’t be bothered with this. He literally would not answer me yes or no if had pay the mortgage… just raged at me about bothering him. I quickly set up online payment (all the same bank anyway) and after the dust settled just announced that I would be paying that bill from then on… and do it went. Notices to update credit cards that were on autopay were ignored and internet got cut off. Passwords I had given him a dozen times were not remembered and I would get angry/bitchy texts about needing to get in the fucking XYZ website because it’s not working (because he hadn’t paid the bill) and they are such “fucking gay fags fucking assholes” (pardon my language).

    I have said to a lot of people, the person I divorced is not the person I married. To this day, I don’t know what happened, he just stopped being a normal sane person and I was left dealing with this monster.

    • CAGal, it usually is a slow moving transition from the sweet kind person you thought you met to the monster. For me it was well over a decade before I saw any truly disturbing things. Before that, there were small signs of disapproval, gentle rebukes, guidance “for my own good” and the like, but nothing I could nail down as abuse. It moves from grooming, to instructions on their favored ways of doing things, to disapproval and ultimately anger if you don’t assure that things go their way.

      By the time the Fucktard ex took $29k from our savings to buy his midlife Porsche, I didn’t even have the words to ask why I have to save seven years for a car from my little allowance and not tap our savings, but he can just blow the wad because he wants to. Fortunately, all that went down before internet bill paying or autopay on credit cards. The mortgage was always paid. But what was “my responsibility” billwise was always half of the household total, when I earned half what he did, and I alone was responsible for my student loans and car payment. In other words, I paid far more than he did and he earned much more. To “make it even,” he figured the housework and yardwork should be my job as well. Where “his” money went, only he knew. The savings came from both of us, but was spent only by him.

      Bottom line: No One Should Marry Those People. But they aren’t about to tell you what they are until you do.

  • Cheaters are just entitled asses to the nth degree. x used to do absolutely diddly squat for housework. I worked 40 plus hours a week and did the majority of childcare, all the cleaning, all the cooking. Felt like I had two kids and an overgrown sullen teenager. The criticism of my cooking (my kids, my extended family and several friends have always loved my meals; the demands for my recipes by neighbours and friends was overwelming) and put downs about my lack of energy or lack of dressing up or plumpness or “insert some garbage excuse for cheating on your spouse here”
    He wanted to be put on a bloody pedestal and worshiped if he managed to take the garbage to the curb or the one or two times he actually vacuumed the living room (we had his boss or somebody else “important” coming for dinner).
    He paid the majority of our household mortgage for our last home while I paid all the rest of the bills including the big tax bill every year for his business (I kept paying down a credit line of $15,000 every year for that sole purpose and I am not kidding … he never set up a savings account to plan for this annual expense…bet he felt the pain the year after chumpy me didn’t rescue him)
    He took a toilet off its flange when we had a leak and left it sitting on the floor with a rug plugging the hole for 6 months. Only replaced it when my father offered to do it (post chemo and treatment for his terminal lung cancer). I had threatened to do it (difficult without a helpmate) or to pay for a plumber. Years later I did this by myself at my own place with some help from my son…toilets are heavy and awkward to lift.
    Jacktard got me paying his business bills (like Amex, cell phone, some answering service company etc. ) because it was part of the family finances which I was okay with until he got me paying off an Amex bill for a legitimate expense for three people’s air fare to Europe and week stay at a hotel. I flatly refused to pay another bill of his until he put the entire amount of $$$ back into my personal account as he was being refunded every single cent from the company he contracted with. If I hadn’t spoken up those thousands of dollars would have been spent on his toys not his family, not his kids’ school, glasses, shoes etc. After that I refused to bay his credit bills unless it was for family expenses (ie. clothes, vacations, things only his children and I could have benefited from) His knickers were twisted in a tight knot and believe me he let his family know how unreasonable I was. Imagine me the chump expecting the twit to pay me back for something he was being completely reimbursed for. And the caterwauling about how he paid the mortgage…yeah I paid for his fucking tax bill every fucking year. And his assorted crappy bills including his goddamned Harley.
    Fortunately the karma bus hit him good last year. Lost his high paying job and forced to take a job that pays lower than mine. His cost of living just dropped and I feel so NOT bad for him. Must be really difficult to pay those bills without the idiot chump bailing him out.

  • This is the personality type that I will be teaching my daughter to beware of and be on the lookout for and reject instantly. Peter Fucking Pan. The Man Child. The Taker.

    If we teach our daughters and sons that this type of behavior is common and completely unacceptable in themselves or in a partner, perhaps they will not suffer our fate in their relationships. May all the Peter and Petra Pans out there be FOREVER ALONE.

    Teach our sons and daughters to grow up and once they’ve grown up teach them that only other grown ups make acceptable mates.

    My mom only emphasized to me growing up that I shouldn’t go for good looking guys because they are full of themselves. But I learned the hard way looks don’t matter at all, ugly or handsome outsides can be equally ugly on the inside. What matters are Character, heart, responsibility, hard working, pulls their weight, doesn’t want anyone else cleaning up their mess. When they see you busting your ass they don’t hesitate to help you. That’s a good person. That is a grown up. And that is beauty and love.

  • Gee, mine brought his mommy to our divorce court. I wonder if his reasoning was I’m loosing my married mommy so I’ll have real mommy on standby. But Nooo, his mom probably there to get more bang for her buck. She is the one who paid for her Babies divorce. She even brought his dad’s lucky suitcoat to wear. He looked like an idiot in a suit coat down past his knees with jeans on and brilliant new white tennis shoes on. Throw in his “honey” had him get both ears pieced and he had 2 glass doorknobs stuck in each ear.

    • You mean you don’t find two glass doorknobs cool looking? Well of course he had to leave you!

  • My ex has some serious immaturity issues and mommy issues as well. He definitely married me to serve as a mommy surrogate; after Dday, he wrote to me that he only married me because he “thought I would take good care of him and the house and any children we might have.” Mommy/maid, that was me.

    Creepily enough, a couple times during the marriage, ex told me that he sometimes fantasized about stabbing his mother to death, and he also told me that he occasionally fantasized about doing the same to me. He wasn’t angry or drunk when he said this, it was just a matter of fact statement.

    So fucking glad to be away from all that now.

  • In several ways, I was the parent in the marriage. Yet my STBX often tells people in and out of court that I suck as a parent and need to ‘grow up.’ Tremendously insulting and inappropriate.

  • “But you’ll seethe. There’s no way to keep your finger in the dyke and enjoy other aspects of life. You’re stuck there saving everyone from disaster.” This says it all. Me in a nutshell. All the while seething…

  • There’s few dynamics worse for your sex life, too. This was a big takeaway for me. If I want a fulfilling sex life, I gotta find another adult for that. In my experience, sex is terrible with cheaters! Infrequent and lame. They complain about sex all the time, but I think our gripes are just as legit; it’s just that chumps don’t cheat.

  • I NEVER want to be the parent again to a grown “man”. It was awful, on top of it being resented for it too blah. Now he lost his house, car and life because he isnt paying bills and taking care of himself. Guess final OWhore isnt such a great “mommie” cake as I was. Fuck that. Can’t wait to get my finances sorted out and some day meet a guy who is responsible too and sees it as love not something awful.

  • I used to plan everything until he complained/criticized/corrected every decision I ever made. Hotel not nice enough, restaurant not good enough etc. I quit planning anything and everything. even dinner. Now he complains I don’t plan for dinner. I simply could/can not do it to his expectations. I still pay the bills and take care of all the service calls but that is it. He watches the money like a hawk and plans/takes care of the investments but now I know how manipulative he is with the money. He could probably argue he does everything but only because he criticized my efforts to death.

  • Looking back, I was certainly regarded as more as a parent and not a partner by my borderline former wife. This dependence is, as I now know, is one of the characteristics of the illness.

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