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“Does divorcing her make me the Bad Guy?”

Dear Chump Lady,

I’m a chump guy here. Trying to make sense of how drastically my life and marriage has changed over the last several years. Its been a year and a half since I finally had enough evidence and confidence to confront my cheating wife. She had been having an affair for over 3 years with a guy she works with. Since the confrontation she has continuously stated that she loves me and wants to make this work (yes, like all cheaters do).

I set down rules immediately. No contact what so ever. No going to the bars and parking lots they used to hang out at. She insists she’s held to this. The problem is, I just don’t believer her, and I don’t believe he was the only time she cheated in our marriage. Although I have no proof of this and it may be my insecurities. I do on occasion monitor her whereabouts. She has visited the parking lot they used to hang out at during lunch. It’s close to their work and is a smoking spot they shared. Why would she still go there, even if innocent, its still disrespectful to me in my view.

I just can’t bring myself to believe her. So many insecurities are in me now, is she still friends with him? Are they still having an affair? Why has she gone to smoking parking lot several times over the last 6 months? Is she just sneakier now, but continuing the affair? And the most important question I face is… If she truly wants to make this work, and truly loves me, and saw firsthand how much damage she did to me, why would she not just leave me?

I know there’s no sure answer to any of this. But with her saying that she loves me and wants to work it out. I’m left being the “bad guy” in my kids eyes if I choose to end this marriage. In their eyes, she’s the one who is being left behind. I’m the one who now has to choose to walk out and not see my kids every night, not tuck them into bed, not wake them for school. I’m the one who loses everything while she sits back and can play the victim in my kids eyes because daddy left them all.

Thanks for the ear.



Dear BetrayedHusband303,

We’re really nailing down that Why Being the Marriage Police Sucks public service announcement this week…

Although I have no proof of this and it may be my insecurities. I do on occasion monitor her whereabouts.

Why has she gone to smoking parking lot several times over the last 6 months?

Dude, THIS IS NO WAY TO LIVE! Six months you’ve been staking out a parking lot! She’s still there! Are you doing drive by’s? GPSing her phone? Ankle monitor?

I’m not guilting you for monitoring, a chump’s gotta do what a chump’s gotta do, I’m merely pointing out that:

1.) This entire exercise of “trust but verify” sucks.

2.) You set a boundary. She violated it.

3.) Repeatedly.

4.) Instead of accepting that she’s NOT sincere about fixing this, or being sorry, or will stop seeing Fucky McCoworker — you go back to that parking lot for more evidence that she sucks.

SHE SUCKS. Trust it.

THREE YEARS she had an affair with that guy. THREE YEARS equals tens of thousands of lies large and small. THREE YEARS of lying straight to your face and crawling in bed with you, and letting you think your world was safe, when it wasn’t. THREE YEARS of risking your health.

It takes a staggering amount of deceit to conduct a double life for years. And apparently, she’s really good at it. Doesn’t twinge her guilt in the slightest to go to that parking lot or continuing working with Fucky McCoworker.

But, but! Your children’s sleeping faces!

But, but! Who are you to shatter their world?

Every single chump who ever bred with a fuckwit has lived this nightmare. I liken it to a civil war. One of those horrific scenes where the rebels force you to shoot your own family members. The cheater brought this destruction and madness into your life, now she’s forcing YOU to put a bullet in your marriage and your children’s family life, and kill it. It’s grotesque.

But SHE is the Bad Guy here not YOU. You didn’t start this war. You’ve tried to negotiate peace. She’s not an honest broker. She’s perfectly okay hurting you over and over and over and over and over (smoking break…. puff puff….) over and over and over and over… to get CAKE.

If she truly wants to make this work, and truly loves me, and saw firsthand how much damage she did to me, why would she not just leave me?

CAKE. Having the respectable face of you, father to her children, paycheck to her lifestyle AND extra kibble portions of Fucky. You don’t understand it, because you’re not disordered.

She knows your sunk costs. She knows puling the trigger would hurt your kids. She knows this stops you dead in your tracks. Now where’s that fork?

Are you going to spend the rest of your life letting her play that game? NO.

But with her saying that she loves me and wants to work it out. I’m left being the “bad guy” in my kids eyes if I choose to end this marriage.

No. You’re the strong man with integrity who refused to live a sham marriage with a cheater. You’re the brave man who builds a NEW LIFE with them and models sanity. Later you find a good partner who cherishes you and you model a TRUE relationship to your children, based on reciprocity, kindness, and respect.

You refuse to let them grown up in dysfunction, modeling the cheater/chump dynamic.

You are the GOOD GUY. You LIVE that. She can call you whatever she wants, it doesn’t change how you LIVE.

In their eyes, she’s the one who is being left behind.

No. You own the narrative. You tell the truth — age appropriately and without editorializing. “Mommy and Daddy are divorcing because Mommy cheated and wouldn’t stop.” Talk to other chumps about what script they used.

Yes, it hurts like a motherfucker. And IT IS FINITE. Then you build that new life.

I’m the one who now has to choose to walk out and not see my kids every night, not tuck them into bed, not wake them for school.

This absolutely sucks. No getting around the injustice that is half time with your children because your ex is a cheating fuckwit.

But would you rather they grow up with half time sanity, or full-time insanity? You control YOU. You can parent your way with your values. Or model hypervigilance, grief, and parking lot stalking.

I’m the one who loses everything while she sits back and can play the victim in my kids eyes because daddy left them all.

She can play victim all she wants. (It’s one of the Three Channels of Mindfuck — self-pity). You don’t control that. You just control YOU.

You are stronger than her lies. You are stronger than her betrayal. You deserve a real life partner, not a freak. Go out and GET IT. Jump the fence and call a lawyer today. We’re here for you.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Betrayed, if I were you I would see a lawyer asap, line my ducks for the best possible deal under the circumstances and divorce her cheating ass right away. I can only speak for myself, I once were where you are now, except I am a woman and the kids are with me apart from visitation rights. My ex is not even repecting those, too busy with shiny new appliances, but meh. There is life otside this nightmare. She doesn’t love you, at least not the kind of love a sane person does or deserves. Just focus on yourself and your kids, and what is best for you. It’s a process. I did just that and three years out of my toxic marriage I can breathe again. It’s like the air of Rivendell compared to the toxic fumes of Mordor. Take care of yourself! You can do this!

    • And no, you are not the bad guy !!!!! Reframe that immediately, you did not have an affair and betray her. She did. She needs consequences. Your children need to see that. If she truly loved you, she wouldn’t have cheated. We live in a screwed up world where people blame the victim. Don’t buy it.

      • I know exactly I had to file my Narc husband was a coward. I refuse to be played for a fucking fool with these tramps coming through our house! I love my kids dearly but I need a man I can trust.

    • OMG. Listen. Absorb. Listen again. Get out! It’s hard. But hey once you listen to ur gut and trust ur gut,Once you do it will get so much easier!

      • You will struggle painfully until your head catches up with your heart.
        Sorry this happened to you

    • You’re not the bad guy. Don’t delay the inevitable like I did. I suffered atrocities like you’ve outlined for 12 years. A fake unstable marriage with a cheater is damaging to the kids and toxic to you. The stress of it all can make you sick. And if something happens to you because of all this pain, then who has the kids’ best interest at heart? Not her. She’s a selfish #%>*€!!!

      Be strong. You’ll get through this and still be a great dad.

  • It totally sucks. Completely sucks.

    Last night I saw the kids for dinner. They were here longer, but as teenagers were mostly on their phones and in their rooms. So, I saw them for one hour. I’ll see them tonight for one hour. And I’ll pay for that experience since we’re just getting dinner. It’s all I’ll get until next Tuesday.

    Totally. Sucks.

    You know what doesn’t suck? My life. Living my old life where I would check her phone at 3 am looking for something.., anything to confirm what my heart was telling me. What a hell.

    My kids don’t know. It’s too late to tell them and I can’t be the one — not yet at least. And she’s still
    their mother.

    But I’m playing the long game here. And I know for a fact I’ll have a WAY better relationship with DD/DS now since I’ll be healthier than I ever could or did in my messed-up marriage.

    • Tall One, are you sure it’s too late to tell your kids? This can sometimes backfire…

      When STBX walked out, I waited for him to do the honourable thing and tell our three boys that he cheated on me. Lo and behold, he didn’t! So I told the 18 and 17 year olds. I thought the 12 year old was too young, so I didn’t tell him. That was, until he told his doctor that he thought his father left because my son was too demanding, that he asked for too much and that he didn’t help out. Yeah … I told him as soon as I found that out.

      Kids can take on the blame. Please don’t let them ????

      • I second this, tell the kids why. Anything other than the truth is gaslighting and messes them up in the head. Kids don’t always hate the parent who cheats, in fact kids are wired to love their parents no matter what. Kids can discern the character of their parents. Letting your kids in on the truth helps them because cheaters are also generally difficult people with whom the kids have to deal without the chump buffer once the marriage is ended. What helps is teaching the kids to be realistic about their disordered parent, not gaslighting them that disorder is normal.

        • I didn’t tell the kids why, and I really regret it. Just like you said – it’s gaslighting them (I didn’t even know that term, then) and teaching them that their father’s cheating, lying, and narcissism are normal. In fact, he lied to them about the cheating, told them the OW was someone he had met after the separation, so although I’m sure they have some inkling, it can only be a suspicion. I have never explained to them that he is a narcissist. I worry it could backfire and they will feel like I’m trying to bad-mouth him, when in reality I would just like them to understand why he says and does some of the things he probably says and does to them instead of them feeling like there’s something wrong with them. I’m not even sure how to bring this up, at this point. 🙁

          • The kids will find out in due time. They’re teenagers, their older cousins know. Its only a matter of time.

            I had a window around DD, but that window has closed for now. I sure regret not telling them then, but now I’m focused on myself, my new life and my new relationship with them. If I tell them now, it’ll be too destructive to their healing and adjustment to the new life; one’s going to college as a freshman and he needs to focus on that.

            Its just how its rolling out for me.

            • During reconciliation, DD figured it out and was horribly struggling, thinking that she knew and I didn’t. She was beside herself with whether to tell me or not.

              After that, I insisted that my STBXH tell DS. Gave him a deadline and was firm that if he had not told DS by that date I would.

              Turns out DS is still pissed that he was the last to know.

              Rule of Thumb:
              Family Secrets = SUCK
              Truth = Honor, Integrity, Right living, Positive Mental Health

              People here who are saying it can backfire have lived it. You may be immune from the backfire, but probably not.

              • Something I learned when I was in therapy for growing up in a family with alcohol abuse: “A family is as sick as its secrets.”

                It’s really important to grasp that kids growing up in dysfunctional homes will often have very skewed ideas about what is going on. They fear for the disordered parent’s survival or that a parent stepping out on the other parent may abandon them. They fear that the functional parent will be lonely. They fear that they caused the problems. They are lied to and gaslighted just as the chump spouse is.

                This is a cancer that eats at the family. Kids end up in therapy for years trying to sort out what is true and what is not. And it keeps kids enmeshed in FOO dysfunction well into adulthood. Tell the truth. Don’t keep secrets.

            • I know for a fact that if cousins already know about this, quite a few people do. Secrets are much worse for people than an unpleasant truth. They will never trust you as much add they do if you keep this secret from them any longer.

            • Tall One please tell them. I told my sons who were 8 and 10 at the time and it was sad for them to learn that daddy was leaving for OW but it would have been worse for them not understanding early on why he was looking elated and I was breaking down in tears. I can promise you, as I hear it over and over again from my patients, hiding the truth (even with good intentions) is toxic and will backfire on you. They can handle it and have a right to know.

            • Tall one, it is not too late to tell them. Your kids are stronger than what you are giving them credit for. There is still time before leaving for college. You said cousin’s and others know. I am telling you if they find out from someone other than yourself you will regret it. They need to hear it from you.

        • Tell the kids, “Mommy has a boyfriend and when people are married, they don’t have boyfriends.”

          • That’s the exact words I used when I told my 12 year old daughter last year: “Daddy got a girlfriend…” And she replied “oh, oh” like she finally had the reason why her world suddenly blew up when she was 5. Within weeks the chronic health condition she suffered from started clearing up. And it’s still completely gone today.
            Secrets hurt, emotionally, mentally and physically. I wish I’d told her earlier.

      • Kids deserve the truth (and they know way more than you think!). Lying is where the trauma comes from; truth and dealing appropriately with it is where the healing comes from. My daughter is 11; she asked if Daddy had an affair. I said yes. Very very simple explanation of what an affair is (an affair is a secret boyfriend or girlfriend that someone has when they are in an exclusive relationship and that is never ok) Chump Lady advocates not gaslighting the children; my therapist agrees and so do I. And if you have to police your relationship, you don’t have one. Painful as all get out but true. Get well soon…❤️

        • PS…are YOU the bad guy?!!! What were you doing while she was lying cheating and stabbing you in the back? I was with my daughter, carving pumpkins, getting ready for school picture day, walking her to school, taking her to the dentist, etc etc etc while THEY WERE LYING TO AND HURTING US. Yes, CN, my gallows has TWO nooses. They BOTH used an aluminum bat on me and my daughter and put us in the Emotional ICU whenever they began their affair. We are still in it, BTW…..on life support. F both of them.

          • Velvet Hammer, love your recent posts. I’m about to celebrate 30 years sober — yay AA!

            I’m 3.5 years out from DDay, 3 years from GTFO day and 18 months from divorce. I’m completely NC and slowly but steadily healing. Working with newcomers here and in recovery has helped — a lot. After DDay, I started going to meetings every day and shared and a lot of women and some men said they too were Chumps.

            Sending you love and support. If you want to connect via email we can ask Tempest and she can share my email address with you.

            • Awesome! I will be 32 on 8/15.
              Thanks for your support. This is more painful than anything that happened in my FOO….which I have spent my entire recovery trying to avoid. Step 1 2x 4…..

        • Agreed I’m so not living with a man whose unfaithful that is not a healthy marriage!

    • Tell them now otherwise you’re covering up for her and in their minds condoning the abuse. They’ll think that this is “normal” and of course it’s not. You want them to learn your values and not repeat this disordered behavior. The benefit is that you get to explain things in your own words, on your terms, and you’re the HERO upholding the truth and sanity. Let them know that the truth always comes out and that they should always be honest with you as you are with them. You’ll model strength, resilience, values and honesty. No one is ever prepared for this, but please keep reading all the wonderful advice here at CN. You’re mighty!!

    • Me too I have the have supervised visits at a cost of $140.00 per hour split it’s insane! This idiot couldn’t care less he lives inside our family home with his latest Shmoopie, it’s not illegalin Canada as long as he pays my rent. Can you believe!?

      • I tried to get pull her out of my bedroom a year ago but he called the Canadian RCMP he wanted her there. I had to move but he’s ordered to pay my rent at least!

    • I was in your position. He was blatantly cheating and everyone knew about it, but I had to put a bullet in this dead old marriage because he was dragging this cake thing out for YEARS!!!

      I had to leave. The house ( Minister ) belonged to his career. I had to see my kids at intervals because I would not disrupt their school ( I had to live in absolute poverty in a terrible neighbourhood). I did eat the giant shit sandwich of being the one who asked for the separation and later on the divorce BECAUSE he really did not want it!

      In his world I would keep on being the handy little wife appliance doormat that I had once been.
      When he felt threatened and felt I might actually do something / he snapped and things got very ugly.

      Do not think that your wife will play fair with you. I believe your gut is already telling you this!

      My kids now know that I am there for them when they need me and that perhaps I am the sane parent. I only see them 50%of the time, but we make the best of our time together.

      If people try to tell you that you are a bad person for leaving a toxic marriage, then – these are not your people. I personally would rather live an authentic life than spend the rest of my life trying to please everyone around me while dying inside.

      • When people tried to tell me what a great guy my X was, I would look at them and say, in a friendly, helpful, customer service-y voice: “Well, that’s just the thing, isn’t it? The only way to know what a marriage is like is to be in it. ……”

        Drops them every time.

  • Meant to add as a PS, check out last night’s post! You can listen to me on a 30-minute podcast talk about how awesome CN is! <3

  • So very true!

    But I will add this, once you do pull the trigger and get a lawyer to file for divorce her tune will change. She will try to paint you as the bad parent (and maybe claim you are abusive).

    Prepare for the inevitable Character Assassination distraction that she will attempt in order to save her own Visibile Fake Character.

    • Yep…still going through that 9 years later.

      Character assassination to my kids by far has been the worst, mainly because they are 17 and 19 now and they believe it.

    • BINGO that’s exactly what happened to me he cries he’s such a victim. The rest of us are just supposed to suffer while he has his cake and possibly brings me an STD as he doesn’t protect himself. He quoted, they told me they were “CLEAN”!????????????????????????????

  • I don’t know the age of your kiddos, but I found that “daddy’s been dating other women” worked pretty well for mine. So maybe “mommy had a boyfriend who wasn’t Daddy”? That way you’re not going into details, but not hiding anything from them either. Actually, I made him tell them in front of me.

    • I used Mom had a bf with my 11 and 9 year olds after they badgered me for hours past bedtime for why she moved out. They understood right away. Oldest immediately gave me a hug. She went nuts, our therapist brought up parental alienation, and they still love her. I’ve made it clear I asked her to move out because of bf (not that it was the sole reason our marraige ended) and they still love her. But they’re seeing who is hurt and who is a fraud more and more everyday. I ended up telling the 7 year old the same thing. He’s struggling a lot with being mad at her while, of course, still loving her. Absent a major character transplant she’s going to fuck up her relationship with them (just like her’s is with her parents). I hate that I have to play the long game, but there’s no other way to support my kids (there’s a 3 year old too, he won’t even remember us together; breaks my heart when he says, “My Mommy’s house.”).

      • I feel for you Yesshesucks, I am in the same boat. My kids are 5 and 3.5. I hate the whole “Daddy’s/Mummy’s house” thing. Not least because I keep correcting them that it’s not Mummy’s house, as I still own half of it (until financials are sorted). So we call what was our family home the street name instead. “Remember today you’re going to X Street with Mummy, and she will pick you up…” type thing. I have found that it works well for both the kids and I, and also helps them remember the address in case they ever are lost etc.

        I told my kids that “Mummies and Daddies have rules, and one rule is that they can’t be with another person when they’re together. Mummy spent time with another man when she should have been with me. That’s why we can’t be together anymore.”

        Of course, after that, I had to reinforce that my 2 chaosmakers will always be with me, even if they break the rules because the relationship between a Daddy and his kids is different. They took it on board as much as they could, I guess. I remember getting lots of cuddles that night, as I guess they could feel how much it hurt me still.

  • “You deserve a real life partner. Go out and GET IT…”

    Or don’t.

    Everything nugget that CL offers here is of course “hell to the yeah,” but let me suggest that modeling integrity, decency empathy, and self-sufficiency without a romantic partner would be just as beneficial for your children (and takes pressure off as you continue to navigate the grieving process).

    One of the reasons I committed to not proactively jumping back into relationship hunting after my divorce from KK was to model those attributes to my own daughters. If yours is like mine, she’ll be very quick to introduce at minimum the idea of “Mommy’s new friend” (or friends) the moment she gets the chance, if not actually start introducing them into your kids lives. The cheater sense of self is wholly dependent on manipulation and getting attention from others — it’s as important to them as food and water.

    Should you choose to take the actions that I think you know you need to take, you’ll have the opportunity to model what a real man is — if you have sons, so they will have better chance of becoming the strong, respectful men I know you want them to be; if you have daughters, so they’ll have a model of what to look for in potential partners.

    • And my apologies to any LGBT members of CN for generalizing about the part about daughters and finding potential (male) partners.

      • I’m glad you posted UXWorld. I was hoping you would chime in. The poster would do well to read all of your posts and the ordeal you went through because it is a roadmap to how to be MIGHTY!
        Your kids are lucky you are their dad!

    • Agreed UX. I’m three years out, and have purposely not introduced any dates or partners to my kids. I want to model for my two daughters what it means to be a single, strong, independent woman who knows her worth. And for my son, I want to model the qualities he should watch for when he is looking for someone to spend his life with.

      Their father’s affair… with a family friend…in a small town…. meant that I had no choice but to tell the kids everything. Best decision ever. I didn’t want them to think that what they witnessed was, in any way, an acceptable relationship.

      You don’t spackle for the kids – You tell the truth for the kids.You don’t stay for the kids – You leave for the kids.

      • “You don’t spackle for the kids – You tell the truth for the kids.You don’t stay for the kids – You leave for the kids.”


      • Your last line was perfect there, Dee. So glad you contributed that.

  • Before you do anything, go see a lawyer (discreetly). Don’t move out first. Divorce is inevitable so make sure you protect yourself. There are many options with custody too – you don’t have to settle for “every other weekend”. Your first step is to find out your options legally and then move forward. Trust that she sucks.

    • Sometimes I think the only thing I did right was to stay put and not leave my boys. I was sleeping in our bed while she was in the next room – right on the other side of the wall – confessing her love to AP and offering times to fuck. Hurt like hell (still does). But I would not leave my boys for anything. There’s been a few times where that’s been all that’s kept me going.

      • Yes! My daughter and I were asleep and he was in the front yard talking to her on his phone. I would choose being with my daughter any day of the week before hooking up with the Craigslist Asian massage parlor hostess. I win.

        • We decided to try and keep working on our marriage, again. I came home from teaching a night class, just hours later, and she met me at the door. Said her AP was suicidal and had to call him. I told her to do what she had to do. She talked with him for a few hours (on our front lawn). In the morning, when I told her how much it hurt that she didn’t check in with me after, she didn’t respond (this was all done via text in our separate rooms). So I asked her to move out. She didn’t hesitate in agreeing. She just wasn’t going to do it herself.

          • Um, they have suicide hotlines, “wife”.
            Not her job. The MOST she should have done (IMHO) is give him the number and block him from her phone.
            Letting go is so hard for me. I really really want my husband to be who I thought he was and for the affair(s?) to have never happened. Not possible. ????

            • Yes. I’m not one for tests and games, but I desperately wanted her to choose not trying to help him after our conversations the couple days prior. She knew where I stood, and that she had to pick me and us / our family, or I was done. It was as low of a boundary as I could set for trying to keep working on our marriage. She flew right under it.

              • Sadly, I decided recently that my husband made his choice the moment he stepped outside our marriage, whenever that was. He said he wanted to repair things when DDay happened, (NOV 17) but then backpedaled (JAN 18). The last thing my self-esteem needs is to be a contestant on The Bachelor. I need loyalty and devotion and he made clear how I stand with him when he stepped out. She can have him. After all I have been through in life and with all the recovery work I have done, I can not afford to be in a contest for anyone’s love. And FOR SURE CANNOT model this for my daughter.

  • Tell your kids the truth. You don’t have go into the gory details “Your mom’s a whore!”, but tell them that ” when you get married, you promise not to date anyone else, your mom broke that promise, she broke my heart, and I can never trust her again”.

    Staying with a Cheater is death by a thousand cuts. You will NEVER feel safe again, never trust her again, I daresay you’ll never have a good night’s sleep ever again as long as you’re with The Disordered.

    Best of luck, get an awesome lawyer.

  • Divorcing her makes you ‘the Sane One’.

    Getting away from the craziness makes a statement. Good for you.

  • What’s most distressing to me is when a male chump automatically believes he’s the one who has to leave the home.

    “I’m the one who loses everything while she sits back and can play the victim in my kids eyes because daddy left them all.”

    You have options here. Hire someone to gather evidence. Have her sign a post nup agreement. You stay in your home get 50/50 time with children. File.

    It’s so fuckimg lopsided when the innocent party assumes all the consequences.

    Her actions tell the story. Serve up consequences.

    • Thank you Doingme for voicing this on behalf of me and all other male chumps. He definitely does NOT automatically have to leave. There are a ton of factors in play here, as in any situation.

      • UX

        Thank You for being a role model for your daughters, chump women like me who never had that male role model and for the Chumped men who needn’t accept being cast aside with indifference.

        The narrative is changing in big ways; a shit sandwiches main ingredient is toxic to all.

      • I didn’t leave; I made her leave. I fought for custody and got 50/50. You fight and fight some more because you are the victim, you are the betrayed, you are the worthy party.

      • You guys are all so amazing. I couldn’t stay in the house – tried for 18 months to “reconcile” whilst STBXW kept up the same games just more stealthily. In the end, there were so many shattered dreams and horrible memories that I decided it would be easier for me to leave for the sake of my mental health and overall well-being.

        The law here does not privilege the person residing in the property if co-owned. I would not be missing out on that front so decided to move out.

        The good thing about doing that was I took only essentials and had some discretionary funds that allowed me to buy whatever I needed fresh, so there was nothing attached to our marriage. It really was a kind of “fresh start” for me.

    • Yup. Angry MRAs have created this myth that men get screwed in divorce, but that’s completely untrue. The reason more women have custody than men is that most men agree the mom should be the primary caretaker. That being said, it’s practically unheard of not to get joint custody if you ask for it. Go find a good lawyer and work to figure out a fair divorce settlement, then present it to her.

    • DoingMe, I totally agree. Why does he have to leave the family home?! Why not HER??! She’s the one who can’t commit to her husband and family by being faithful. So, obviously she doesn’t want to be part of the family. So, SHE should be the one who is moving out!! Go live by herself so she have her little hookups freely whenever she pleases. Oh, but wait… that’s not as sexy/naughty/exciting as having a fun secret life, now is it?

      I feel like cheating women are the worst – they can use the kids as leverage to stay in the family home and raise them, while the innocent party is the one to lose the most by moving out. Totally unfair!!!

      Kick her out!!

      I feel he should tell the kids, in an age-appropriate way, of course. Why should he take the blame, and have the kids think badly of him when he isn’t the one in the wrong here? Tell them!

      • Although it is fun to say kick her out (!), he needs to get legal advice. There’s probably an advantageous way to make this happen, and you might even be able to manipulate her to go do what you want.
        This is the cousin of throw their shit out on the lawn ????. A police officer made me pick it all up, and put it back in the house. But it did feel good while I was throwing it!

        • FreeWoman, oh my GOODNESS!! The police really made you pick it all up?! Oh noooo!! That’s shit ????

          Yes, I realise it wouldn’t be easy to just “kick her out”. But, like you said, he could manipulate the situation to make her feel uneasy at home and then she might leave of her own accord. I had to play a little dirty and be manipulative when I was preparing my escape. It isn’t in my nature to be like that, and I felt TERRIBLE doing the things I was doing. But I had to keep reminding myself that I was only manipualting to keep myself and my kids safe, and to get us out of that situation. It was essential.

          All I’m saying is that he could manipulate the situation a bit to make her feel uncomfortable, and she might move out. Yes, it’s dirty play – but she wasn’t playing fair when she went about her cheating ways. Some would say this is “sinking to the cheater’s level of shittyness”. After living it, I would say it’s just SURVIVAL. Playing smart (albeit a bit directly) to get yourself out of a horrible mess.

          I hope he stays in the house, and that she leaves. If you choose to cheat on your spouse and children, then you don’t deserve the security of a home and their company. She needs to go!

      • My Exhole refused to leave. He made more money than I did, therefore, it was HIS house. It was my fault he cheated, so why should he leave? He did nothing wrong…….
        He is an entitled asshole. I couldn’t live with it so I had to leave. My adult kids tend to be more comfortable at the home they grew up in and therefore visit an asshole more often than me. AND – my youngest 21-year-old daughter doesn’t talk to me. I’m sure it is because she was told what a horrible person I was to her father. And I don’t buy her brand new cars…

    • Trust me, he doesn’t have to leave the house. The Worm refused to leave. I had his suitcase on the porch all packed and ready to go. He wouldn’t budge. So I packed my bags and got the hell out. I left two teen aged boys with him, it broke my heart because I knew what he was capable of. Within a few weeks the youngest chose to leave and stay with me, then a year later the oldest followed.
      I should never have stayed as long as I did. Because of the verbal and psychological torture they are both developmentally stunted. The oldest went through drug rehab.
      Trust me on this also, as one who spent months doing recognizance on the other woman’s house, it’s not worth it. Spend your time putting your life back together!

    • Unfortunately the situation with our home is complicated.
      I’m in software, got laid off about 12 years ago, couldn’t find a job for about a year. During that time we had to sell our condo because unemployment and her daycare salary wouldn’t cover the mortgage.
      My in-laws wanted to help… against my better judgement. My mother in-law and my wife worked their manipulations on me and convinced me that I should let the in-laws buy the house and rent it to us. I caved and we’ve been living there since. So, the home we currently live in is owned my my wife’s mother (father passed away 2 years ago). In 2016 I got laid off again, this time because I wan’t focused and was not the best employee (too busy spying on the wife). I’ve been employed again for a year now, but i’m way under paid and over qualified. Making roughly 30k less than my last job.
      So although I would love to make her be the one to leave our home, I don’t see that happening. And with all the bills we’ve racked up while I was unemployed this last time, I have no savings to speak of. And now she’s working for the city and has been there for 10 years and is making decent money. I make the same money that she does but my stability in employment isn’t as solid. I’ve only been at my current position for a year. I know, all excuses. But thats why I haven’t asked her to leave, her mom owns the house.

  • Don’t leave without the kids! Why are you walking away without them? If she has all this spare time to fuck around then that probably means you are doing the majority of the parenting.

    My mom cheated on my dad when I was a teenager. My brother and I had to tell him. He left us with her and went to my grandmas. He left us alone in the house with the guy she was cheating with! (Who was my ex teenaged boyfriend, I can’t even make this stuff up) And it got to the point where my brother and I had to issue an ultimatum to her: us or him because she was “sooooo in lurve” with him.

    Don’t be my dad. I still don’t understand his decision making process in all of this and he won’t dialogue with me about it, cause according to him it’s none of my business.

    My brother and I are now adults with children and are both single. The other day we discussed why my dad would leave us, with her, in that situation and how our lives would have been different if he had kicked her out, kept the house and raised us. We both agreed that mom and ap would probably have gotten an apartment together and lived in the fog of their affair bliss and my mothers efforts at parenting would have been lackluster to non existent.

    See a lawyer about leaving with the children. I was told by my lawyer that the precedent that you set with the kids after you leave is usually what they stick to when it comes time for custody.

    CL has commented in the past that cheating is abuse. In cases of abuse, you take the children! Mention that to your lawyer see if their tune changes. She’s obviously emotionally abusing you (lying, betraying, gaslighting) and I’m sure if you did in to it, there will be financial abuse.

    As for you being the one to pull the trigger: these disordered assholes force us to do it. They are cowards. They want to uphold their “poor me, I’m the victim because they left me” image management story….

    When I left ex narcopath after the 5th! Dday he wasted no time crying to everyone that I “ran out on him, again”!
    He loved eating up their pity.
    Is that what really happened?
    Yes I left him for major relationship crimes that are unacceptable to 95% of the human population.
    Yes, it super fucked me up that he accused me of running out when I felt that he forced my hand. The injustice!

    But now, a year out? I don’t care what he tells people because I know the truth and was strong and mighty to leave when i still loved him.

    Ask anyone on this forum if they regret leaving? Do they lay in their beds at night wishing they could go back to their situations?
    No one would go back. No one. They may miss certain small things but not the nightmare. Not the oppression or anxiety.
    When you are free from oppression you finally realize how much of your freedom had been taken away.

    It will hurt to leave. No doubt. But you deserve so much better than this, and so do you kids.

    • My stbx’s father left he and his sister with their cheating (with a woman) mother. The property belonged to cheating wife though he helped build it. I think like most men, he thought the children should be with their mother. Both kids are screwed up and now have a sick alignment with their mother’s messed up thinking.

      I don’t think children should be in the care of cheating parents, mainly because they make it clear that their wants come before all else , including kids.

      My stbx’s mother would leave he and his sister as young teens an entire summer home alone while she travelled overseas to visit her woman. She would have the woman visit and share a bed while the children were there. No boundaries and her wants first. She is a selfish woman and my stbx and his sister have turned into her.

      • When I left, my kids were 26, 19, & 16. My 26-year-old owned a house with his wife and that is where I went. My other 2 kids (19 & 16) had the option to come live with me and my oldest son. They chose to stay in their childhood home. I didn’t have an issue with that because the house my son owned was old and disgusting and full of BATS! I would not have moved in if it wasn’t killing me on a daily basis staying in the married home. I explained to my kids that I DID NOT LEAVE THEM – I left their father. They knew….
        **And then when asswipe and I went to court, he was asked when I left the home. He said that “He wasn’t sure of the exact date I ABANDONED them.” What a dick.

        • The first thing I said to my cheating ex once I found out “Our daughter is going to live with me” & she said “alright”, so after a few months of MC (the cheating wife still sneaking off with the married bus driver) my kid and I moved out. I also told the 11 year old “We broke up coz mummy has a boyfriend”, she was upset, but still loves her mum. It’s interesting though, coz the kid treats her mum so differently to me, her and mum bicker, my daughter treats her with so much disrespect, it’s awesome (for me), whereas my kid really respects me, I guess coz I model sanity and live a drama free life. I’m so lucky, kid lives with me during the week, been 14+ months since we left, and I only have a few tears now and again.

    • “No one would go back. No one. They may miss certain small things but not the nightmare. Not the oppression or anxiety. When you are free from oppression you finally realize how much of your freedom had been taken away.” #truth

    • ChumpedInCanada – everything you said ???????????????????????????? YASSSSSS!!!!

      I’m so sorry that your dad left you and your brother with your mom. This is why I reckon that cheatig moms are the worst – they’re the ones in the wrong, but somehow get to stay in the house and raise the children. It’s just WRONG!!

      YOU cheat, then YOU have to leave the family home! I’m very touchy about all of this, because I was the one who left (i took the kids with me) and had to leave everything behind to escape him. It should have been HIM that had to leave. IT wasn’t fair. And what happened to you and your brother wasn’t fair. I hope you are both doing well these days xx

  • Actions have consequences. This is a consequence of an affair. You may temporarily need to be the “bad guy” but it’s better than wreckconciling.

  • Betrayed, I grew up in a house with a cheating parent and a parent who chose to play marriage police. Even though the non-cheating parent was physically present most of the time, she was emotionally and mentally absent for much of it because so much time and energy was wasted playing detective.

    The sooner you stop playing this cat and mouse game with your wife, the sooner you can focus on being present for your kids.

  • When she says she loves you and wants to make this work, she means “I love having you here while I also bang other guys on the side. It’s really fun. I want to keep this situation for as long as possible.” You’re not the bad guy because you refuse to let yourself be deceived, betrayed, and abused.

  • BetrayedHusband303: You are living my life 5 years ago. I did the whole pick me dance, went to marriage counseling and then fortunately found CL. You are steps ahead of me by being here already, so congrats for that. First thing to do is “pretend” you are working things out while you see a lawyer and get everything squared away. Don’t let on any part of what you are doing.

    Here is what to expect:
    – Once you tell her you are filing for divorce, she will become enraged. You are taking her cake away and they will fight, threaten you and even make up things to call the police about. Be prepared.
    – Judges are not fair. I had one who still thought the children should be with the mother. Case closed.
    – I did very well on the asset split as I was divorced in an “Equitable Distribution” state (PA). Most of “our” assets I had acquired prior to the marriage. I still hear from the Ex how “you still owe me because I should have gotten more”. Entitlement much?
    – I see my kids every other weekend, 2 weeks during summer and have a holiday schedule. I also volunteer to take them extra time as I really enjoy having them with me. In general, it sucks but I cherish the time with them.
    – Post divorce she will likely try every trick in the book to get you to support her old life despite what the support agreement says. In short, she will want you to financially support the life she had using the kids as financial hostages. I was lucky, no alimony.
    – Kids are not stupid. My youngest was 8 at the time of split. At that time I tried to tell her why we were splitting up when she said “are you not together because of Mommy’s friend the DJ?” Yeah, that was her boyfriend and the kids all knew what was going on. They knew more than I did.

    Now, my children (one is 14 and the other is going to be 13) want to live with me and keep asking how do we make this happen. I have to talk to my lawyer about this after the youngest turns 13 in August. I don’t know what the chances are, but I have to try.

    On the plus side, I now live 65 miles away from the crazyness. I have my own house (the money pit), am closer to my old friends and family and almost look back to those days as a hazy bad dream. Maybe I just can’t accept that I actually lived like that? Here is the last piece of advice I can give you: You won’t realize the tornado of craziness you are living in until you step outside of it and see it for what it really is.

    Sorry for the long post.

    • Don’t apologize. It was a great post and no doubt helpful to people.

  • What if it was one of your kids in this situation? What would you want them to do?

    Model that. Time to break the dysfunctional cycle. It takes a level of courage and honesty you will have to go deep to find.

    Not the easy way out (she’s already modeling that) but forging a new healthy path will be worth it for them and for you.

    My daughter was 12 when we left. Was it rough? I won’t lie. At first it was hell for both of us. She’s 15 now and we are soaring!!!

  • Your wife is counting on you thinking you will be the bad guy for divorcing her. Did she give a rats behind about the children when she screwed around? She wants to eat cake. Tell your children the truth. You owe yourself that much. She is the bad guy not you. A cheater will lie and gaslight you. My STBX husband promised he would stop all contact with my skank of a cousin. But, he did not. I told my grown children the truth and they understood and supported me. Do not stay with a cheater it will grind at your soul.

  • Betrayed Husband……..

    I am sorry you find yourself in this situation. I think we can all say that we have wrestled with the injustice of the possibility of “sharing” our children instead of parenting them 24/7. This was one of the main reasons why I stuck it out thru 5 ddays. I implemented boundaries with each new discovery and he never stopped seeing the OW…..he just got better at hiding it. I am sorry to say, you are probably in the same boat here. While this is heart breaking, the real importance is your children and their upbringing. Speaking from experience, I can tell you that I SUCKED as a parent during the five years and five dday’s because I was too busy worrying about what my husband was doing and not about being their emotionally and physically for my daughters. They needed my attention and I just couldn’t give them that because I was so consumed with what my man-child was doing, waiting for him to fuck up once again.

    Now that I am four years from my divorce I feel 100% confident in telling you……ending my unhealthy marriage was the very best thing I could have done for my daughters. And for me. Yes…..I had to share my daughters with him and in the beginning that was soul crushing. But, all they were getting prior to our split was 50% of an unhappy, unhealthy, inattentive mother and 0% of a father too self absorbed to give them ANY of his time. In our divorce he lobbied for every other weekend (he could have asked for more) and one over night a week (could have asked for more). He hardly held to the schedule and my daughters have not spent a night with him in YEARS. And I will add……he lives 10 minutes away. He also doesn’t call or text them. As of today…..they have heard from him in weeks!

    Go be the sane parent! Your children will eventually figure it out. Go be your best for them! They deserve it (and need it) and so do you! You are worth it. AND………demand more than 50% custody. You did nothing wrong. Peace and hugs!!!

  • As my mother would say ” ease your hand from the lion’s mouth”.
    You will never trust her. Make your plans quietly. Tell her nothing of your plans. See a lawyer. Start documenting. All the times she is missing in action while the children are with you. Document your contribution to the children. What care you provide. You want to show that you are the main care giver. You want primary custody of the children because it is what is in their best interest, both short term and long term.
    I am a woman. I am also a pretty fair minded person. All parents are not equal in their ability to parent. A selfish person remains so even after becoming a parent.

  • This sucks. Hard.
    So many things that I have read here on CN really get to me. Like a slap in the face of reality.
    CHEATERS LIE AND LIARS CHEAT, and being the MARRIAGE POLICE is a game you will never win. It’s a shitty job! It’s impossible to know what they are doing 24/7, and with smartphones and secret apps, you will be drowning in paranoia, which will only take away from being the kind of parent you want to be for your kids. It will consume you. They aren’t sorry for what they have done. They are sorry that you have found out.

    KNOW YOUR WORTH! Seriously! I may not have been the perfect spouse, but I damn sure didn’t deserve this. And I can’t fix it. And that sucks. I Can’t Fix It. I will never get back to the marriage that I THOUGHT I had. It didn’t exist!!! But this is the hand I have been dealt, and at the end of the day, we are setting examples for our children. To KNOW THEIR WORTH, and know that life may not always be perfect, but it will be ok! Love yourself. KNOW YOUR WORTH.

    Mighty Hugs to All. Lord knows we need them.

  • This is a very timely post – exactly my situation. I am going through the exact same thing. Starting from about 6 months ago out that husband has been bringing girls on his business trips, sleeping over with some Russian woman in Jersey City while telling me he is taking the red eye, and frequently visiting an ex girlfriend’s house late at night. After confrontation he tells me they are all ‘just friends’ and he loves and wants me and nothing is wrong with our marriage, he wants our marriage, he wants us to be together forever. He promised to stop seeing them and cut off contact since I am uncomfortable with these ‘friendships’. We did a few therapy sessions but then he said he was “too stressed” because of his failing business. But I did marriage police work and found out a couple weeks ago that he is very much still seeing Jersey girl and the ex girlfriend. So I am now selecting an attorney and plan to get out. I feel the same way you do about how unfair it is that I have to be the “bad guy”, but only thing going for me is I have a high chance of being the primary custodial parent at least… since I am very much the primary parent now. Anyway I just can’t live like this anymore. It is untenable. Thank God I always worked and have a good career.

    • You aren’t the bad guy. The person who escapes abuse is a survivor, a hero, strong and courageous.

      A marriage is a contract. It’s a legal contract. And even religious marriage requires promises grounded in that faith tradition.

      Cheating breaks the contract, unilaterally, in an act of seeking unfair advantage. Chumps have no obligation at all to maintain one side of a contract that the other party has abandoned, trashed, disrespected, destroyed. You are looking at this as if there is no consequence at all for breaking marriage vows. If I enter into a contract to buy a house and put money down, the other party has to give it back if they decide not to sell. If someone sells me a car but never delivers it, I get my money back. A marriage requires two people. The “bad guy” isn’t the one who says, “hey, you book this.” It’s the person who broke the marriage, the contract, those vows and then–AND THEN–acted as if the other person should live up to his or her end of the agreement. No.

  • She’s the one who destroyed trust and made you insecure. Never EVER take any blame for that or apologize for it.

    Even if she isn’t cheating anymore (doubtful), she destroyed trust, and it ain’t comin’ back.

    I spied on my wife, too, but it’s not a way to live. It’s a temporary fix for th symptom, not the disease.

  • You’re going to feel terrible no matter what, no way around that, but not forever. Unless you stay. Then you will marinate in the hell of lies that your life is, be miserable about your lack of control, live with chronic stress that might kill you and possibly watch your own children grow up to choose people like your spouse (because that’s what you’ve modeled) or worse- act like your spouse (because that’s their normal).

    Are you the bad guy if you leave? How about considering are you the bad guy if you stay? I love my children and one of the greatest injustices is that I don’t have them full time but the thought that I’d model that it is acceptable to live with a cheater’s actions and send them out into the world to harm or be harmed because I didn’t teach them integrity. How is integrity taught if we don’t stand up for our own honor?

    • ????!!!!
      So much well-said sanity here this morning. Thank you all. We are about to tell our daughter that we are getting divorced. She knows her father had an affair and knows what that means (she is eleven). My heart is in pieces. I am 54 and grew up in the ubiquitous look-good crazy violent alcoholic household. I got into all areas of recovery when I was 22. It was my life’s work to have an emotionally healthy family. I met my husband in AA when we were both 27. He had the same crazy upbringing. We were in counseling our entire relationship to debrief, reprogram, and do it differently than both our FOO. And his affair(s?) smashes the whole thing to smithereens. But my daughter and I can still be an intact, emotionally healthy family. We just won’t have the daddy doll in the dollhouse. ????

      • PS…your kids desperately need a parent who is trustworthy. Trust is the foundation of any healthy relationship, as we all sadly know. Without it, THERE IS NO RELATIONSHIP.
        Be the trustworthy parent! Telling the truth and separating from the insanity of a cheating partner fosters TRUST. My daughter very clearly trusts me and not my husband. Very sad hard pill to swallow. But having her trust is better than winning the lottery. Too bad that concept is lost on my husband. His loss…no matter what they think, they will never have that most valuable gold with an AP.

      • Velvet Hammer, I never would have guessed you are at the point you’re at now given the advice you’ve given. (HUGS) No one is going to question your mighty!

      • Velvet Hammer….I so identify! I’ve been divorced snce 2014 and D-day occurred January 2012. Same alcoholic/codependency nightmare. When I told my 14 year-old-at-the-time son of the infidelity, he said that he was glad to know about it then rather than be ‘shielded from the truth’ (which is a LIE) so that when he was in his 20’s he would think, “Great, BOTH my parents were liars!” To not tell the truth to the kids (in an age-appropriate, straightforward way) is to lie to them, so that they will learn that no one is trustworthy!

    • “Are you the bad guy if you leave? How about considering are you the bad guy if you stay? I love my children and one of the greatest injustices is that I don’t have them full time but the thought that I’d model that it is acceptable to live with a cheater’s actions and send them out into the world to harm or be harmed because I didn’t teach them integrity. How is integrity taught if we don’t stand up for our own honor?”

      Yes. This is articulated just right. Thank you.

  • You are not the bad guy… but you do have a responsibility because you married a fuckwit and bred… you get to have the boring job of being the sane parent.

    Can you do that if you divorce… YES! And, instead of looking at this negatively that you’ll only see your kids 50%… look at it like this… your kids will have 50% of their time AWAY from a lying, cheating fuckwit and 50% with a sane parent who is modeling normal behavior.

    Does it suck, yes. But kids grow up… and kids learn by what they see as much as by what they hear… if you stay, they’ll see and hear that her behavior is acceptable. If you leave, you teach them a lesson about consequences and give them a future away from their Mom where they see you being the Dad you want to be… not the stalker Dad sitting in a parking lot.

    See a lawyer today. Get your game plan together (include psych evaluations for the kids)… who knows… it could be HER that has to leave and not you… if you get the right lawyer.

    How do I know? My fuckwit wanted 50/50 in mediation (in reality, he just didn’t want to pay child support). I said no, I’ll take my chances with the judge. He knew I had 100s of pages of documents of his “wanderings” for sex… he caved. He settled for every other weekend and one night/week for 3 hours. The bonus for him is that he LOOKS like the involved (yet martyred Dad)… but he has plenty of time to keeping trolling for new partners (while the new woman waits for him at home).

    You can do this.

    • I think being the same parent can be great. mostly kids like the person who really listens to them, which is fundamental to being the sane parent.

  • @Betrayed…. you are slowly killing yourself with this… I know- I lived this nightmare. Your cheater wife is playing a grand game of manipulation and you are losing. I understand the fear of looking bad in other’s eyes. Cheater will portray things as being abandoned- it’s sick attention she’s after and guess what- she’s probably ALREADY saying that to people (including her AP) even though you are trying to stick around. They are sickos like that. Tell your side of the story. Get a lawyer, file for divorce, sell that family house, get a new life so your kids can see you shouldn’t let someone abuse you. Fight for your rights for 50% time with your kids- more than that if you can prove that her issues get in the way of her being a stable parent.

  • Betrayed,
    Yes, not seeing them every night stinks, but the relief of not wondering where Mrs. Cheaterpants is more than makes up for it. And, don’t worry, kids have a way of figuring out who the “bad guy” is. And they know when a parent truly loves them; actions speak louder than words.
    Get a good lawyer, and fight for as much custody as you can get. Don’t settle for less than 50-50.

    • I just wanted to add that great advice I’ve seen numerous times here….go to first-time free consultations with all the ‘kick-ass’ lawyers in your community. If you do, she won’t be able to use any of them!

      • Yes. And run a credit check. Document the shit out of everything that happens.

  • Hello there BetrayedHusband303,

    A chumped dude here with two daughters. 5 years down the road the whole multi-car pile up mess and life is good. as it will for you.

    I had the same fears that I would be the bad guy when I started the divorce It was totally unfounded and cowardly, because in spite competing against my ex’s super-shiny charisma and abundant energy, the truth was on my side. As was mentioned before, simple sentences like “…because your mom had another boyfriend for the last 4 years” pretty much sums it up. Not saying it is 100% smooth sailing with the PR situation with the offspring, but you are doing them a favor by not continuing the whole foul pretense they undoubtedly are sensing in your household.

    Your wife is counting on your fear to continue her affair, what shit behavior that is. Call her bluff and free yourself, plus you will have the advantage if you quietly lawyer up. You will knock her off balance and enjoy some schandenfreude as her secret life bubble pops.

  • @betrayed: one idea to getting more custody— sounds like cheater wife works— can you get a work-from-home job for the next year or so and become the primary-care parent? If so, document everything in handwriting on a calendar just for that purpose. Take kids to all appointments, take them to all their school/sport/activity events. If possible, get them in childrens’ counseling and take them to the appointments (find someone who advertises specializing in children of narcissists). Do the cooking and feeding. Take care of bedtimes. Stay 100% engaged with the kids. Communicate appropriately with the therapist. Be able to prove you are the sane, most-involved Parent. Assume you are being monitored — your W may secretly record you and also look through your papers and computer. Don’t leave a trace of lining up your ducks. Don’t raise your voice, don’t get outwardly angry, or leave during this transition period. What you do over the next year or two will define your future family life. It’s going to take all of your strength, but you can do this! Other chumpmen have. We are here for you. You are not alone!

  • Betrayed

    You commented on your insecurities. The power imbalance is deliberate. Your STBX knows your vulnerabilities and will feed your insecurity.

    Believe her actions as she clearly has no respect or true remorse. What shifts that power imbalance is taking steps to protect yourself and your children. FIND a good attorney and decide what’s best for you. You didn’t cause or deserve any of it it.

  • Why do you have to be the one to leave the home and leave the kids behind? Go see a lawyer. If there is any way to make HER life more uncomfortable – good. Consequences.

    As for the kids, don’t lie to them. “Mommy lied to me,” or maybe (don’t know the ages here!) something like, “Mommy has had a boyfriend behind my back.”

    Don’t discount that they *may* know and were told to hide it from you. Or that she has lied to them in all sorts of ways and now they can get a handle on the difference between what she promised and what she delivered to THEM.

    Reassure them that you are trying to keep things as familiar as possible. That you want them to live here, see their friends, go to their school, etc. You don’t know that you can do it but that is what you want.

    She sucks. She has been lying to you for years and it’s not a good feeling. You did your best and gave her every opportunity to change her behavior. Enough is enough. You’re not slaying the last unicorn. You’re detoxifying your life.

  • BetrayedHusband303: Not much I can add here to what the others have said, it’s all wonderful advice. The only thing I can add, is that looking at your handle, it looks like you’re in Colorado. If so, go look in the forums, we have a monthly Colorado Chump Nation brunch, and it is Sunday after next (the 22nd). We would love to have you there. It’s hell going through this, but it’s not so bad if you’re going through this with a support group 🙂 Big hugs & hang in there!

  • As a chump sitting in my car right now during our court trial lunch break – I will say, stop holding the guilt that belongs to your ex. You didn’t cause this!

    I really need to make this my personal motto… since I say it often here. Your response to the behavior is not the problem, the behavior is the problem!

    Now I’m off to listen to the character witness testimony, of the chamber of commerce president (that my ex befriended in the last year) to hear what a great guy he is! These fuckwits are all about impression and no substance! Don’t forget that!

  • You take those precious kids with you when you leave with a note stating how to get ahold of you. And you go ahead and parent those children like the awesome dad that you are. She can fight you in court for custody but you know what? She’s too busy fucking around on you to be able to man up and fight you hard. Stay the course, you can totally get a good custody settlement regarding your kids. There’s no need to eat a triple-decker shit sandwich by losing your kids too. Take your pain and sadness and turn it into anger with which to fight your bitch of a wife! Stay the course, be level headed. Be smart, document. Get a very good attorney who doesn’t take shit. My heart goes out to you. You are a ray of sunshine in my very jaded opinion of asshole men who leave their families for fresh sex.

    A hopeful note: A good friend of mine is about to get 70% custody of his kids because his ex is a manipulative bitch and he fought for them. Her true colors started to show and he’s coming out on top!

  • All of this ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

    My Cheater Ex was award physical custody of his pre-teens in 2009. Their mother has custody since their divorce in 1996. Cheater documented everything. The judge over the case could smell a phony a mile away. He appreciated honesty and sincerity. Don’t be afraid to fight for YOUR children.

  • Wish the judge could have smelled Cheater but that’s another story.

  • Why won’t (some) cheaters pull the plug? Impression management. Never mind they were the ones fucking around, they were really, TRULY, willing to work on the marriage! As long as they could have a side piece(s)! And it’s OK, because Esther Perel!!

    And when YOU pull the plug, oh-it-is-so-sad. What a terrible person you are, that you just couldn’t overlook the abuse, the exposure to STDs, the lying. Oh, and it is YOUR fault that they cheated because reasons. If only you had been more splendid they would never have cheated. Really. Probably. Maybe.

    The thing is, your friends, the ones who really matter, will know how much the cheater sucks. And the cheater hates that.

    You, however, can move forward with integrity, with clear eyes, without a fuckwit messing with your mind, your heart, and your health. Sending you hugs.

  • ” I’m left being the ‘bad guy; in my kids eyes if I choose to end this marriage. In their eyes, she’s the one who is being left behind. I’m the one who now has to choose to walk out and not see my kids every night, not tuck them into bed, not wake them for school. I’m the one who loses everything while she sits back and can play the victim in my kids eyes because daddy left them all.”

    This is only true if: 1) you leave without fighting for custody; 2) if you let her shape the narrative that “daddy left them all.” As we discussed above, tell the kids the truth, age-appropriately: “Mom has a boyfriend. Married people make promises not to do that. So we can’t be married.” She can try to play the victim, but you have no control over what she does and says. You do control your own actions and words: you can act with integrity and tell the truth. To everyone. That’s a way of life.

    You should also be documenting the time she spends out with Schmoopie. That’s powerful evidence that you are the primary caregiver if she’s out while the kids are home.

  • @BetrayedHusband303

    Haven’t posted here in a long time, but drove through the site and saw your letter. Gauging from your handle, you live out here in Colorado. Never been to the meetups, but you should try one. Being a chump means you are not putting up with her bullshit.

    I am 6 years out from completely leaving my cheater. Life is great without him. He was nothing but a drag, and there are many people out in the world to date, and have relationships with who have treated me better.

    At this point, she has you so mindwarped, leaving her abuse is makes you the problem, rather than a heroic act to leave her abuse. She does not care about you, boundaries, or anything. Genuine naugahyde remorse, standard issue cheater crap. She is still cheating. She sucks.

    As Chump Lady says, the reason she does this is because you provide a paycheck, lifestyle upgrades, social cover, and free child care. Folks who are cheaters have a host of emotional problems that they can resolve in therapy without wasting a moment of your precious time. Anyone who wants to have multiple sexual partners can do so without endangering your health, cheating and lying.

    You are worthy of honesty, and having your boundaries respected without being the marriage police. I haven’t spoken to my former partner in 5 years. Since then, i have found great sex, love, and happiness with others. I have confronted a lot of fears about my worthiness and life just keeps getting better. Its hard to imagine life without her, as you absorb this betrayal, but there is better life without her.

    Cheating is abuse. Period. Don’t model putting up with abuse to your kids. They then get to resolve that as the next generation. Children know and understand at a certain level that infidelity happens in a household. Often it models to children tacit acceptance of infidelity (its ok, no one really does anything about it, there are no consequences). Infidelity is often an intergenerational pattern (its part of my FOO), and even if the kids don’t become cheaters/chumps, they may tolerate patterns of power imbalance, not having their needs and boubdaries respected, and other forms of abuse because it was modeled to them at home.

    Get an attorney, document, document. Best of luck.

  • It’s funny. We should be honest with our kids they say. But……. the truth about their other parent’s illicit actions has to be kept secret? Thus the confusion about why dad wants to end the relationship?? Makes no sense. Just a deferral of the inevitable. You will tell them someday, why not now. Before they blame themselves.

    A simple ‘your mother had a boyfriend and that ended it for me’ Yes it will embarass your wife! But….she chose the behavior (OVER AND OVER) so these are the consequences of that chosen behaviour. 3 years!!

    Yes it will be super hard. But it’s broken now.

    Stay put until you have a custody order. You want at least 50/50. Your employment permits it I hope.

    Kids do adapt. It is very hard and takes a few years, but they do adapt. Childhood is hard with or without divorce.

  • I had to file too. Mine is more extreme as she judt left and that was it. No wanting to mske it work. Off to other guys. I see my kids only half the time. And it’s all unfair. And to top it off she said she ‘didn’t see the point of divorce as we didnt fight about the kids and she didn’t want to change her name so itcwas the same as the kids????
    Even under those circumstances I felt the injustice of having to he the one to pull the final plug on the marriage. Why it was so easy for her to implode our Life bit couldn’t to the paperwork to finish it. Even when st my expense and easy as pie divorce she still could not bother to just sign the papers when served.
    No matter what the situation its not fair we have to clean up tgeir mess and be the same ones.
    It was the hardest thing I had to go through and do but for me and i think you to leave the old life behind and start new it has to be done and if the cheater is too much of a coward to do so then you do it.

  • Betrayed husband 303. You can and you must quickly and quietly get to the best lawyer you can find. You must find out how you can plan this and what your options are. You have nothing to work with. Guaranteed she is probably biding time because the longer she is with you the more money she can get. You want to stay in the home and the kids you must get going and be smart about this. Tell no one so it does not get back to her.

  • Get out as soon as you can. And make her leave. And never stop telling your story. She is a cheating lying pile of garbage. If this is her personality and behavior she probably had crap friends and family anyways. Don’t let what other people might think stop you from being the best dad you can be- without her in the picture. You can have your own separate awesome family with your kids. They will understand. Especially if you stay with the truth. Best advice came from my dad… “you better get out in front of this. The first story they hear is going to be the one they hear first” Tell the kids the truth if they are at least 5 or older. Do not FEEL SORRY FOR HER! As soon as possible draw up your parenting plan. Get your lawyer and file for divorce. Get away from her. You don’t need to co parent until way down the line. Exchange the kids in parking lots and public areas so she can’t get crazy on you. She will probably try everything. You will have her spinning in circles so fast. Keep your temper, don’t ask “why?”, don’t try to figure her out and don’t fight or argue in front of the kids. Email everything that has to do with schedules and the kids. Document all your efforts of making a plan for the kids and reaching out to her to make a schedule. To support them. Every thing is a temporary agreement until divorce. The judge will see you are doing best for the kids. You can get at least 50/50 custody. If not more if she’s shacking up with her dumb boyfriend. You keep the house. People will understand your decision once they know the truth. The more you distance yourself, the clearer you will see and think and have peace in your life.

    • Sorry my dad said “the story they hear first is the one they are going to believe.” I was typing emotionally 🙂

  • Its sad how this same narrative repeats itself over and over again. I also had to pull the trigger & put the bullet in my marriage bcuz the cowardly immature adolescent (boy in man’s body) wouldnt. He was blatantly disrespectful, cheating and living a double life. My children knew and could see the 180 shift in his Jekyll Hyde behavior (very abusive, nasty and angry to us). They (12 & 15) at times asked why & what was taking me so long to make that unwanted but necessary move.

    After living and tolerating that hell much longer than I should have I finally left and eventually filed bcuz his behavior worsened. Tried MC but he was only pretending and did none of the work – no sooner than marriage counseling was over he was back to the same unacceptable behaviors that had no place in marriage. Fast forward to now, divorce final, im complete NC (kids havent heard from him either) and yep his victim false narrative “she left me and filed for divorce” – & not the narrative of truth, “I imploded my marriage, disrespected my vows, lived a double life and FORCED my Wife to carry out this painful process of ending our marriage bcuz I didnt have the balls to”. After all that BS and seeing him for who he really is/was once the mask came off after 20 years – fuckwit announces he’s getting married!!!

    That was my confirmation for me that leaving was the BEST thing I could have ever done.

  • Don’t apologize for doing what you have to do. I tried to stay with my cheating husband for 4 years. For 3.5 of those years, he continued to lie and withhold information, visit porn and escort sites, and search for women he’d slept with online. Since D-Day #1 (of 4…or 5…who knows) I’ve set up rules, monitored his whereabouts, changed account management settings and passwords, checked his phone logs and browser history, and compiled a staggering cache of evidence of his 10+ years of serial infidelity involving DOZENS of women. I have lost days, weeks, and months of my life (along with 20 pounds, some hair, and too much sleep) trying to keep from being a chump again. The irony is that all of it MADE ME A CHUMP. Now I’m the bitch who dares to leave because I can’t forgive and trust that he doesn’t suck. It’s bullshit. Leaving is the best decision I’ve made in YEARS. Our kids are worried, but doing okay. They know they are loved and that we are here for them. The process is overwhelming, but not nearly as overwhelming as the thought of staying married. Even if your kids don’t know the details, they most likely already know the truth. Kids are smart and they understand more than we think. Be strong. You’ve got this!

  • Thank you so much for the reply. I am doing my best right now, and I know what you and others commenting on this are right. It is just a hard trigger to pull. If she were a decent person, she’d leave and let me raise our boys. I mean, she cheated right. But nothings fair here, and she wont do whats right.
    I suppose as one comment stated, my heart needs to catch up with my head. I appreciate all the advice. As a side note, I have met with a lawyer, back when I first found out about the affair. I just never moved forward. Stuck in the mud I suppose.
    I truly appreciate the words of wisdom here.

  • Dude, I lived this, not as long as you but take it from me that you need to divorce your wife. What you have is a half a life and I’m sure you deserve better. I divorced my cheating ex and am now the happiest I’ve been for years. It sucks not being with the kids every day but to stay with abuse, constant disrespect and being used is not an option. In the long run it’s better to model that self respect is more important than maintaining a relationship with someone who does not respect you.

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