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How to Deal with Adult Child After D-Day?

Dear Chump Lady,

My husband told me 4 weeks before our 50th wedding anniversary that he had been having an affair with a woman who he saw at an out-of-town work conference for 11 years.

He told me in the most vile descriptive language imaginable, which is something he never ever used before. It took two months for him to reveal the truth (of course I don’t know this really, since he’s been a pathological liar for years).

I will divorce him, can’t stand to be disrespected anymore. I had extreme gut feelings at the beginning of his affair that something was wrong, so I asked him. He said, “ work-related stress.”

I asked him directly if he was having an affair, because this is what my gut told me. He said, “ No, I have never been with anyone but you since we’ve been married, I would never do that.” After much begging, crying, doing the pick me dance… he finally revealed that he did indeed have an 11-year affair.

Now after telling our grown children, ages 47 and 48 that he had an affair, my daughter who is also in the process of divorcing her husband of 22 years due to his chronic infidelity, is siding with my husband. She is saying she and her children need to have contact with “Grandpa.” This would be more understandable to me if he would have put forth any effort to be “Grandpa” in his life, but that never happened. He remained arrogant and separate from us, his family, only wanting to be connected to his job.

When telling me about the ongoing affair, he said he did it because “I wanted my dick sucked and I wanted it sucked by anybody but you and I had a RIGHT to, because I wanted to.“ Now after my daughter continues to invite him into her life, I was upset with her for doing so, also for lying to me saying she wanted to be transparent dealing with him, but she was not. She invited him to go shopping with her and her daughter, saying she would only do so if it was agreeable with me, that she would never ever want to hurt me.

I later found out she had already asked him to go along on the shopping trip four days prior and he told her she better let me know first. Only then did she pretend that this was her idea to reveal this to me. I am so hurt, I later called her and told her I thought this was a wrong way to treat me. She will no longer speak to me. I am devastated. What can I do?

Sad Mom

Dear Sad Mom,

Your son and daughter’s relationship with their father is their business. You don’t get to manage that relationship for them.

I know that feels super, super unjust. Like they’re choosing a fuckwit over you. (Because they are. Because they still want Grandpa Fuckwit in their life.) After All He Did!

Your soon-to-be-ex husband sucks, and he sucks epically. But think of how long it took YOU to figure out that your husband is a cheater and pathological liar? Nearly 50 years apparently. They’ve got a different learning curve. And a different set of priorities — child/parent bonds are pretty primal. You don’t control it.

We say here, “Trust That They Suck.” Meaning, accept that the cheater is not what you hoped and dreamed they’d be, you made a lousy investment, and the turd can’t be polished. Let go and focus on you. It’s a really tough concept. Most of us struggle with it for years. But! But! He has a lovely singing voice! All can’t be lost!

There’s a corollary to Trust That They Suck — Trust That Other People Don’t Think So. The cheater may have been utterly toxic to you, but not to them. (Personally, I believe that a parent who cheats on the other parent is being terrible to their children as well, but not everyone shares that opinion.) The cheater may be of use to the Non-Believers of Suck. Or these people might believe that this person sorta sucks, but hey, it’s a temporary condition and with their unwavering love, financing, and soft sofa to crash on, they Could Be Magnificent Again, and will waste their whole lives high on hopium.

You. Don’t. Control. It.

We have to let kids figure out their crappy parents for themselves and give them the space to do that.

The only exception I have for trying to control the uncontrollable is — is someone being endangered? Is there a criminal element? My opinion would be entirely different if Grandpa was a sex offender. Or if someone was stealing opiates, or your ID, or harming vulnerable people. If Grandpa Fuckwit was a clear and present DANGER to others? Then yes, you sound alarm bells.

Then accept the consequences of your immense unpopularity for doing so. (Pro tip — people even love addicts and sex offenders, and criminals.)

God, this is all very depressing, Tracy.

Hey, well, here’s what you DO control and what you CAN do:

1.) Stop Competing. Stop the pick me dance with your daughter for her relationship with dad. CHOOSE ME! is not a good look on anyone. Your daughter doesn’t need to tell you her comings and goings with Grandpa Fuckwit. He’s Not. Your. Problem anymore. If your daughter wants a relationship with her fuckwit father, that is her sad problem to figure out. It’s painful to watch. So while it’s all still raw, just deflect. Distract. Move your energy elsewhere.

Here’s a script. “Daughter, for my own sanity, I need to not know what’s going on in your dad’s life, or what you’re doing together. That could change. But now, while we’re divorcing, I don’t want to know. I’m sorry I tried to control it. This is your relationship to figure out. You know my feelings about what happened and why this divorce was necessary.”

2.) Invest in Your Awesomeness. All that energy you wasted pick me dancing for a fuckwit? While he was Busy At Work? All that exhausting begging? That energy is all yours now. Go invest it in yourself. Go be awesome WITHOUT ANY OF THEM. Move a thousand miles away. Study for a new degree. Buy a puppy. I don’t know what your bliss looks like, but go find out. Maybe Sad Mom is Happy Mom in a different context outside of Chump Wife and Mother.

3.) Believe in the Laws of Natural Consequences. People who suck tend to keep sucking. That chaos isn’t going anywhere. People who choose a relationship with sucky people, may get sparkles for awhile, but they also get all the shit that goes with Sucky People.

Betrayal, lies, drained accounts, no shows are just some of the featured benefits! 

And if you act now, we’ll also throw in verbal abuse, rage, and STDs!

4.) Choose your own level of investment in your relationships. You don’t control your daughter’s level of investment in her dad, but you do control your level of investment in your relationship with your daughter. I’m not saying be punitive or withholding. I’m saying recognize that your shared values may be out of alignment, and you need some space. Take some time for self-care and doing what the fuck YOU want for a change.

If you bust your ass for your daughter to be a Great Mom, and get zero appreciation, and Grandpa Fuckwit smiles sideways and gets hailed with Hosannas? Yeah, re-evaluate your investment. It’s lopsided. Grandpa can cook the Thanksgiving dinner this year.  Is that inconvenient and a lot of work for Grandpa and the turkey will be dry or nonexistent?

Excellent. Back away. Maybe you might get some appreciation with the absence of your awesomeness.

5.) Trust that you do NOT suck. You know what happened. You know what went down. You know why you have to divorce this fuckwit, what lies he told, what shit he exposed you to. Trust that your STBX’s fuckupedness is NOT your fault. This whole situation is unfair to everyone but the Fuckwit. (Fuckwits tend to be oblivious to injustice, except their own sense of aggrievedness.)

Be confident in the truth. Live it. And ENJOY your children Fuckwit-free. Once you’re on the other side of this mess, you’ll appreciate the benefit of that.

Hang in there.

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.
  • Can’t even begin to imagine what you’re going through, OP. I’ll simply say we’re all here for you and to follow CL’s advice.

  • This totally resonates with me. Similar situations. Chump Lady advice is spot on as I am finally in that place od detaching what my kids do with their fuckwit father. Focus on yourself and enjoy your life and don’t let this piece of garbage of a man steal any more of your joy. Don’t depend on anyone to side with you. That hurt me the most but not anymore. Everybody’s true colors show eventually. We here know and support you. Your success now is the best revenge. Goodness prevails in the end and you don’t need to prove to anyone including your kids that he is a horror. One day they will see the light. Trust this!

  • Cheaters obviously aren’t nice people, but their still their parent, my ex is their dad, you have to let it go over your head. You don’t have to like your ex, thank God!. Your husband has should what he’s really like. No contact works because your giving them attention, I mean exs. I feel cheaters and ow/om live off the drama.

  • This is timely for me too. Two daughters 19 and nearly 17 who generally live with (ex cheater) mum. I have to work, she does fuck all apart from go the gym so is more available than I am. Anyway, after totally neglecting them when she was in affair mode she is now being Disney Mum to the younger one (eldest has gone to Uni) whilst I am the one working full time to support kids through higher education. Some days it just really fucks me off but I get that they have a right to a relationship with their Mum ( even though I think she’s a dishonest, manipulative, lazy useless waste of space). Ho Hum. Trust that they suck, right on .

    • Just be patient. When the time comes when your daughters have a family of their own, they will have a more objective, clearer view of the situation. Eventually, they will see you as the sane and reliable parent. Just hang in there.

    • Remember to play the (very) long game.
      Mom’s have an undeniable advantage us dads have to earn.
      They’ll be adults longer than children.

      So play the long game.

    • RML
      I find the hardest part of being a chump-post divorce, is the shedding of the role of husband. The loneliness, the expectation of the magic moment when everything returns to the dream world I was in before finding out who I was really married to. I guess that’s part of the injustice of it all.
      Hopium withdrawal. I find myself thinking where all the distraction in the world will not make the lonely feelings go away. The pain is not a fraction of what it was almost a year and a half ago, but I don’t blame myself anymore.
      My kids are grown adults on their own and making their way in life with their own families. I told them the truth and they thanked me for it. All but my x’s daughter. What did I expect? The bond was there before I was so it is natural to feel slighted. Part of adulting. Part of the process. I went NC with x’s daughter to maintain the peace and not interfere. It’s OK. I have my life, they have theirs.
      Most of my frustrations come from not being able to control things that happen. So I revert back to wise advice I received year ago about having zero expectations from people. NC also means “no control”. Being single is hard work. I hold fast to the concept that “They don’t get overnight character transplants”.

      • Thanks for that. I agree that having zero expectations help, plus I don’t want to burden my kids. Ultimately they are still young and they need a reliable adult in their life providing consistent unconditional love to them.

        • Unfortunately kids of any age (especially younger of course) need both parents and are suddenly placed in a position to “choose”. This happened to me and it felt very unfair to ask of a child (13).
          When this happened to me and I remember thinking “why does everything have to change for me in a day”, and why do I have to choose between my parents? It is scary seeing how fallible adults are and how their whims can turn our lives upside down as children.
          Most kids under 25 are in the middle of some sort of identity crisis of their own.
          One day you wake up and people you were dependent on are now at odds.
          Sometimes it helps to look at it from their angle.
          You guys are taking the right approach….believe me, they need you, there is NO question about that!

    • I do believe this all works out in the wash. One day when your kids are older they will look back and acknowledge the effort it took to put them through school–they’ll see how you showed up again and again for them. Until then, you get to hold the self satisfaction (and great honor) of providing for your children. And it truly is an honor, as tough and thankless as it can be sometimes.

      • This is so true. When I met my partner about five years ago, he was a chumped Dad of three teens who had been brainwashed by his cheater ex into thinking he was just a source of money. They never had time for him and he was filled with sadness about all the family time he had lost because of an acrimonious divorce. He lived in hope of the occasional text from them. He didn’t buy into the idea that this is normal teenage behaviour!

        My advice at the time was, just wait until they are independent and move out…they will see The Dragon in a new light.
        Sure enough, nowadays they are in their 20’s and have magically developed a new liking for his company and have expressed their appreciation for his absent support….and the fact that he never gave up on them. There have lately been a lot of comments about how glad they are that Dragon is no longer able to keep her beady eye on their every move. They spend good quality time with him now. She, on the other hand, is a source of nagging and demands that they resent.

        There is hope!

    • I should note that I’m a single mom, not dad, who currently must rely on her ex to provide for our daughter because I’m at the tail end of law school…and he never lets me forget it. But I can’t wait until I can write all those checks and financially support my kid. I’m dying to be on the other side of that equation. It sounds awesome. So trust me, you’re in the better place.

    • or any day.
      I’m 4 years out, newly engaged, and still need this.
      I used to wonder about that, like…if I wasn’t over things somehow.
      Then a good friend told me that I would never really get over it, it was a trauma.
      She said “ just because somebody is cured of a disease doesn’t mean they forget what it felt like to be sick.”
      My young adult kids cut my ex off about 10 months into his new life. He constantly lied, they constantly caught him in his shit and now they are just done.
      Will that change? I don’t know.
      I feel guilty at times that our mess caused this, but he did this. I need to remember that.

  • This dynamic occurs occasionally with my own mother, who is seriously concerned that either on my daughters (more likely M the Younger) will end up choosing KK over me.

    Whenever I tell her about standing firm with my boundaries re: the use of my home, not accommodating a coverage request when it’s clearly made to avoid her own responsibilities, etc. my mother gets nervous: “I just don’t want the day to ever come when M picks her mother over you.”

    I have to be ready for that possibility. I can’t control that. As CL says, I have to trust that both of my daughters are smart enough and intuitive enough to understand the inherent differences in their parents, even if they’re still developing their emotional intelligemce skills and likely don’t understand themselves yet (never mind anybody else).

    When therapists advise you to “just let it go,” this is what they’re talking about. Believe in yourself and in everything good and true and honest about how you handle things. Unfortunately there are no guarantees it will pay off with every person in your life, or in every situation. Life is unfair, as we’ve all come to learn. But you’ll be able to look at yourself in the mirror each day with a clear conscience.

  • Many people who either have not lived in a dysfunctional family, or who do not want to acknowledge they do, and therefore live in Denial, just do not understand or acknowledge the long term harm that is done to the psyche of the family members. Your daughter may be too overwhelmed now if she is also divorcing a cheating spouse. She may not be able to stand losing her father, too. She may just like Hopium. Who knows. The fact is you have more than enough to deal with right now to take care of yourself, your daughter is an adult, and you can not change any one other than yourself.

    It is very difficult to stop doing “MOM” things, even for adult children, and to stop being a “WIFE” after a long term marriage. All your habits are part of who you think you are. Listen to the advice CL and CN gives you. We essentially tell you to learn how to be your new self, and have fun doing it. You are free to figure out what is the best thing for YOU to do now, and how to live the best life you can. It is a very liberating opportunity. When you have transformed from the chump of the past into the new, strong person you will become, you will feel much better. That is the gain a life part of Tracy’s advice. MEH is a wonderful place to live, once you get there you won’t ever want to go back. It is not an easy trip. Your daughter may want to move there one day, but until she decides that, concentrate on your own journey. You will need all your wits and all your resources to concentrate on taking care of your needs. Believe you are worth the effort. Let others worry about their own journey, and the consequences of their actions, that is no longer your problem. Freedom is one of the greatest things you will ever experience, once you allow yourself to believe you are entitled to it and to happiness. Good luck on your journey. Meet you in MEH some Tuesday in the future.

  • Today’s post was exactly what I needed to hear. I finally divorced after 30 years with my ex, after multiple cheating events. it was an ugly divorce because there are only three channels and he was most definitely on the rage Channel. My adult son told me that he wanted to be Switzerland, that was until he and some of his friends came to help move his dad’s stuff out. He didn’t help me move one stitch when we had to sell the marital home. Like many, my ex throws money at the kids, and unfortunately in this stage of life they gravitate towards that. My daughter is expecting, so this will be my first grandchild. It truly sucks to know that I have to have him and his new wife in the mix. Thank you so much for your response to sad mom. I think I need to print it out and refer to it often. most of the time I do okay and there’s totally no contact except now there are events where we have to be in the same room.

    • Gosh, this really tugged at my heart-strings. I’m so sorry you had to be in that position. As you predicted, with the new bundle coming there will likely be an uptick in weirdness. Be patient with yourself – it seems like you’ve done a good job of navigating so far.

      I’ll be thinking of you.

  • The only thing that worked for me was to finally tell my adult children that I had a lot of healing to do and couldn’t do it while still hearing things about their father. It’s the hardest part, to separate out your life from your (ex)spouse’s. You have to learn to create your own story. I did this with no contact and no info regarding him. As much as I wanted to hear what was going on and discuss him I knew I wouldn’t heal while doing so. Focus instead on meditation, exercise, travel (if you can) and the little things that heal YOU. (Music, walks, coffee with supportive friends etc). I’m sure you were so disappointed that having gone through infidelity, that your daughter didn’t side with you, but you can’t control that. They really do know who will be there for them and who won’t. But it takes time for true colors to shine through in regards to parents. Just focus on being the best parent that you can be. But remember that you too can have some boundaries regarding your needs. I think they learn to respect that if you hold to them.

    • It sounded to me less about her daughter taking a side and just wanting to keep a relationship with her dad, which is totally normal. The moment we create “sides” that we impose upon our kids, we are already losing. Kids love their parents, that’s natural, and they are always craving that return love.

      • Agreed, “side” was not good wording. But I was phrasing my response in relation to Sad Mom’s words. When mine left me he also ghosted his young adult kids. Two of the three would not speak to him as a result. He, of course blamed me and had no worries attacking me about his fears. In actuality, I had encouraged them to try to keep the door open with their dad. I knew that the glue and foundation to their relationships had been me, so I wasn’t worried. When he accused me of trying to sabotage his relationships with them it couldn’t have been farther from the truth. He was doing a good job of that all on his own. I never wanted them to not have a relationship with him. But when difficulties arose or money was in the picture they soon learned who would really be there for them. My only point was to put focus on the self. And not to afraid to set boundaries as to Sad Mom’s need to separate her feelings out.

  • Sad Mom
    After 34 years married I too had the same experience. My adult son sides with his father knowing the pain & humiliation I went through. But like CL says I can’t control it. ????
    Three years out & I feel differently about my son. How he could even speak to him is a hard fact to accept. But I try every day to accept his decision. It will get better with time. Good luck to you & when your cheating fuckwit is gone you will enjoy a better life. You so deserve it! ❤️

    • Kids love their parents. Humans are hard wired to do that. To ask a child to sever a relationship with their other parent is pretty unfair, even in these circumstances. I mean, it sucks having to deal with any of this. But in some ways you’re asking your son to enact your vengeance for you by severing ties from his parent. I understand why you’re hurt. Trust me. It stings every time my kid extolls the virtues of my ex, but my pain and humiliation is not her burden.

  • Patsy and I had a long talk about this. While our then-husbands were violating our marriage covenant, there were times when they wanted a buddy and their side-fuck was not around and (in all the blame shifting) they had developed such strong distain for us that they ended up transferring some of the pleasant wifely sort of companionship components of our relationship to their daughter. In neither case did it get yucky with incestuous undertones but the daughter became quite a chum.

    After nowdeadcheater died, my daughter told me that he was her “best friend”. She didnt cause it or ask for it but unknown to her she was put into the vacuum left over after he convinced himself that I was The Cause Of All Badness in his life.

    In Sad Moms situation, her daughter is likely hurting so badly from her divorce that she needs every ally she can get and she probably has no idea if her father inappropriately made her into a buddy because that is the only Father/Daughter relationship she has thus nothing to compare it to.

    In my situation, my daughter and I started our grief journeys together but as I learned more about his betrayal, I was angry more and sad less while she was still terribly sad. I took his photos down, never spoke of missing him, and started dating. For a while, to her, I looked like a cold hearted person who buried one and moved along quickly and she made snarly comments to the effect. Since then, without gory details, I shared that her father betrayed me in ways he didnt betray them and I was upset and had a right to my feelings. She declined more info and we have kind of hit a place of peace about it.

    CLs advise stands though…back away and let kids have their relationships with them…if they reform themselves then goody…if not, they show that they are still selfish wads and the kids return to the person they know they can count on. In the mean time, go live.

    • This will likely have long lasting negative consequences for my daughter as the relationship she had with her dad was lopsided with her given devotions and attention that didnt really fit. Now she is trying to find a healthy adult relationship but nothing will ever seem as great as that was because whatever partner she has will hopefully be giving her “normal” amounts of love when she got used to interactions with her dad that bordered on (familial) “love bombing”.

      I wouldnt be surprised if this were somewhat common in the world of betrayal that we all lived in.

      • I interpret what UNM describes, through attachment theory.

        Because he doesn’t do connection, my husband would keep me at a distance through triangulation. Before the kids were born, I was triangulated with the dog. The bloody dog got far more attention and touching than I did.

        When D was born, she was then elevated above me in the family dynamic. Our parenting was good cop, bad cop, he never set boundaries, he would give her far more attention than me and when he was angry with me he would undermine what I said. Many a time I would trot behind whilst he held her hand and never even looked behind to see where I was. I was so blind ….

        So like UNM says, it wasn’t incestuous, but it was really inappropriate. This beautiful little girl was given power that was not hers to have. Her parents didn’t act as a team and keep her safe. She was the focus of my anger and resentment (I have apologised to her for that and told her it was never her fault).

        And when he blew up the family she lost her hero.

        The damage has been huge. Like others have said to Sad Mom, step away, they work it out for themselves. They really really do, and they work it out quicker when you exit centre stage and leave him to it. He showed himself in all his selfish deceitful colours when I was miles away. Her self esteem is on the floor, she acted out destructively, this beautiful person let down by two unbalanced fuckwits (me included). I feel very sad and sorry about this.

      • Thank you for this. I have mentioned this to my therapist a couple of times. Even when we were starting to go through the divorce process he would always refer to him and our daughter as “we”. He still does this and to me it sounds like she has become his partner. I told my therapist that he acts like there are a couple And it’s the two of them against me. I always treated her like a daughter that it was never good enough compared to the way her father treated her. I have absolutely no relationship with her as her father is everything to her. I always thought it was sick the way he treated her and now she has to be in competition with his girlfriend who’s only 5 years older than her.

        • Pia Mellody refers to a parent using a child as a buddy or surrogate spouse as emotional sexual abuse.

          • Sounds about right. I always thought it was manipulation but what you wrote sounds right. He did it while we were married (the two kept secrets from me) but I didn’t realize how much until he left me. In fact, I heard from people that 1) he told them that both of them were victims and they both had to leave me, 2) if I was a good mom then why did my daughter leave me to live with him and his girlfriend (again, only 5 years older than her) and 3) she told people I abused her and he told the same thing to others, including attorneys.

    • There is a book that I found very important when dealing with a partner whose daughters were enmeshed with their mother, “The Emotional Incest Syndrome” by Patricia Love. This book explains how making kids (most particularly children and kids through college) the social or emotional partner in place of the spouse is terribly damaging to the kiddos, not just to their relationship with the other parent but also because kids aren’t ready for the intensity of being “friends” or “companions” to adults. Her point is that the boundaries between generations are important for a number of reasons. Worth a read. She uses the term “emotional incest” to point to the range of ways that adults can “use” kiddos for their own needs.

      To be clear, I don’t mean in any way that Sad Mom has done such a thing; she is aware of the need for boundaries although struggling with the pain of imagining that DD prefers Dad or won’t reject him. As Patsy puts it, we have to be on guard to keep these boundaries intact, at least on our end, because it is not good for kids of any age to be the parent’s confidante regarding the marriage. Keeping the kids out of the loop on the Chump end is the best we can do, as Cheaters often have zero boundaries. But staying out of that triangle may make that behavior less interesting for the cheater.

      • I agree with the concept that I am NOT my kids’ buddy – I am their mom! I always found it weird when moms and daughters went out nightclubbing together. Sarah Ferguson (Duchess of York) is, in my view, a supreme example of this!

      • Wish I had known about this sooner. My ex denied cheating when I accused him of it…I got pregnant shortly thereafter. He stayed in the marriage for another 13 years, but (in hindsight) threw all his emotions into our DD. Younger DS always got the short end of the stick. After the divorce, ex overshared with DD, apparently made her feel as if I was a monster (yet she lived with me because he moved overseas with OWife and new family). End result, daddy’s little girl had a difficult time coping, suffers from anxiety and depression, and was hospitalized twice for suicide attempt/ideation. I had the kids in therapy from Day 1… but another sign how important the therapist bond is…).

      • I was 20 and in college when my mom called me to tell me that my dad was leaving her for a co-worker. She was going to transfer to Texas. Then my dad called a little later and said he still loved me and my sister and brother and that he wasn’t leaving ‘us.’

        I spent the next couple hours bawling and then my mom called back and said, ‘He came back home and he’s not leaving me. We’re going to work this out.’ At which point I called them both lunatics and told them not to call me again until they had their shit figured out.

        My younger sister, who lived at home at the time, paid the real price for my dad’s cheating and my mom’s anguish. She remembers my mom having her spy when my dad would pull into the driveway and she also recalls going through pages and pages of phone records to look for ‘her’ number.

        My parents stayed together – my sister has a lot of animosity towards our mom and probably has a stronger relationship with our dad. Even though she hates what my dad did.

        I hate what my dad did, too, but I would have never ended my relationship with him. But I did tell my mom at the time that I would fully support her if she chose to leave.

        But yes, turning your child into a confidante regarding your marriage can carry a severe price, as I think it did with my sister.

        When I was with my cheating ex-boyfriend, his teenage daughter complained that her mother ‘told me things about my dad, things that he did to her, things I didn’t need to know.’ My guess is that he had cheated on her, too. Yet the daughter sided with her dad and wouldn’t speak to her mom for months at a time. I can’t imagine the mom’s pain.

        • Well at least you can imagine your mom’s pain.Though I cannot fathom why she still decide to stay with your father.

  • “the turd can’t be polished”

    Thank you for that visual! Imagine trying to spit-shine a turd…

  • The best way for them to get the reality on Grandpa is for them to spend lots of time together!

    I have stood way out of the way with my daughter and STBXH….she is his child and I am the chump….very different relationships. You are apples and oranges….daughter is not choosing as you are not equals/rivals.

    The result of my daughter spending the time she wants with her dad is sadly resulting in her finding out for herself that he is not who she thought he was. And because I wasn’t poisoning the well by slagging on him her trust in me has been strengthened. I have tremendous compassion for the position she is in and I don’t want to add to her trauma by making her choose between parents….it’s bad enough to find out your dad isn’t Superman like you thought.

    • THIS x 100 The kids, of all ages, suffer to. Why add to that by creating a “side” that they then must choose. Why outsource your pain and vengeance? Of course it’s not fair–none of it’s fair! But dignity matters.

  • I can totally understand why after such brutal cruel treatment it would be horrendous to see your daughter be so friendly toward your ex. There’s a strong element of gaslighting to his words. All I can really recommend is that you see a therapist or similar person to give you that affirmation that it really happened. That will reduce the need for that from other people.

    • This is such great advice. At the end of the day, when we’re in the thick of the pain, sometimes we just want another person to say “yes, I see you, you hurt, and it’s unfair.”

  • I have one adult child that speaks to her father and one that has not spoken to him in two years. I have to say that both children hurt from this in their own way. For me that is way more painful than the divorce.

    I know that this hurts to watch your children make a choice, but you need to step back and see it from their side. As much as your husband has earned the title of Captain Asshole, he still is a part of your children. They see part of themselves in him. To have to walk away from him, makes them feel that something is wrong with them. Your daughter will realize that walking away from you will make her feel equally inadequate. The script has been flipped in their lives and as much as you are adjusting, they are too. I know it feels impossible to focus on yourself, you absolutely HAVE to do that. Please find a good therapist to talk with for as long as it takes. It is the best thing you can do for yourself. And right now, you are the focus. (Put your oxygen mask on before others).

    I will tell you that if I look at both of my kids, the one who talks with her father (not often, mind you) seems to have adjusted much better than my child who refuses to speak with him. He harbors great resentment and I can see he is in pain. It comes out in unexpected ways. My hope is that someday he can work through this, but for now I just have to support both of their decisions. They do what works for them.

    Your kids will figure it out on their own and in their own time. They will have the relationship that works best for them. Trust me, over time it will change and hurt less. The fuller your life is, the less room for this pain. Take care of yourself!

  • It took me a while not to resent the relationship between my second husband and our daughter after he and I divorced; I was a constant for her, so reliable she could discount me as background noise, and she was always chasing her daddy’s approval. He didn’t even want her to be born, calling her “Your little project” to me. He told me once he didn’t even see her as a person until she was talking (able to say “Da-da”). Such an asshat.

    It’s hard. Can’t tell you how many times I was glad this universe doesn’t produce visible thought bubbles over our heads while she was burbling on about what daaaaaaaaddy said and I was smiling and nodding at her sweet little face.

  • I am going to tread a bit of unstable ground, but there’s a purpose to it.

    This shopping trip thing reveals a few subtleties that are telling.

    First, it seems to me that this dad/daughter “in cahoots” dynamic isn’t new. He has probably been working on image management with the kids for much, much longer than is evident. Who knows what he has already told them, true or false, in some kind of secret confidante style relationship. However inappropriate and/or unfair, it seems likely to me based in this story.

    That kind of history impacts her perspectives in ways you can’t predict. It may even be the primary dynamic behind her choosing a cheater herself — if she felt super close to a manipulator, it would be easy to feel safe with another one. One thing seems likely to me — she is willing to lie to you, and their relationship culture includes discussing what to reveal to you.

    I see an angle here where these grandkids need to be abandoned by as few people as possible. It may be that the key point for you right now is to focus on them. Your daughter can be as mad as she wants, but her kids probably still want to love, and be loved by, their grandma. Maybe you can find some common ground there and let the rest go a la CL’s sound advice?

    I am not saying it’s at all easy. Far from it. This is your child, who you carried as a helpless infant, that we are talking about, and that is not lost on me. I am only meaning to say that this time is especially raw, and any common ground you can find and any stability you can offer the grandkids may be good foundational work.

    There is this future reality dangling out there of you and your daughter finding some kind of rhythm as fellow divorced victims of cheaters. It’s a terrible thing to have to share.

    My heart goes out to you.

    • Actually I do wonder if there’s another angle too. So the daughter asks her dad to go shopping and he insists she inform her mom first. Could that be the mindfuck channel? I mean, mom didn’t even have to know did she!

      • Cheaters love triangles. So the more Sad Mom steps out of it, the faster the kibbles will go stale.

    • AGREE. This: “He has probably been working on image management with the kids for much, much longer than is evident. Who knows what he has already told them, true or false, in some kind of secret confidante style relationship.”

      Absolutely. And he’s cultivated his other relationships the same way. It’s so creepy – but I think this feeds his soul. I recognize it. Shudder.

    • I think ani is spot on about focusing on the grand kids. Bad enough that they are dealing with their parents divorce and disorder but grandparents too? Just pile on the shit, oh those poor children.

      My in laws have abandoned my kids. They, of course blame me. You need to be the grandma that says no matter what happens, you love those kiddies! Let them know you will be there come hell or high water. Don’t expect them to comfort you, you make every effort to comfort them even when you are hurting. Spending a little money on them is not buying there love right now, it is showing you care. Text them often. Tell them you know they are hurting and are so sorry for this crappy situation but you want to do anything you can to make it better. Call and Send them all the love and well wishes. Ask them about their lives and feelings and be interested.

      Sucks for all of you- so sorry!

  • My ex (as I just MAY have mentioned before – insert smiley face) was a violent, spendthrift, alcoholic, cheat. My kids saw me get beat up (on average twice a week), they saw him staggering home drunk after driving, they heard (and were on the receiving end of his screaming – which they didn’t deserve) but they didn’t feel the consequences of his spending because mommy’s salary was always there to cover! My oldest had to drag his dad off me God alone knows how many times. BUT, I feel the oldest sided with his dad and and that it was all my fault! I think what did it is that when I get mad I go quieter and quieter whereas the Twat would rant, scream, punch – and then burst into tears. So it was all my fault you see. I eventually asked the oldest if we needed to talk and he just said “you are strong and daddy isn’t” – so that’s why he looked out for him.

    When the Twat’s driving licence was finally cancelled (not withdrawn temporarily) I would occasionally run him around so he would leave my younger, more sensitive, son alone, but in the end I had to back off and leave them to it. Eventually my youngest had enough of the screaming rages and told his older brother to just deal with the Twat himself. So he had to get on with it. I would point out that both kids were extremely polite and unfailingly (and undeservedly) respectful to him. But I know the oldest had also had enough (particularly as his own wife wasn’t dealing with it either), all the more so when his dad abandoned the 3-bedroomed farmhouse he was renting lock, stock and barrel here in France in the space of five short days and buggered off back to the States “to avoid consequences” with the French. So I (and later) they, ended up doing all the grunt work to empty that place AND get rid of the dog he had just bought.

    So even though the oldest doesn’t slag off his dad I know they are both SOOOOO relieved that he has buggered off back to the US and they don’t have to be around him. I would say they have contact about twice a year (which is twice too many as far as I am concerned but hey …) and everyone reaps the benefits of his absence. I do openly laugh in front of them at some of the stupid stuff he does and they just smile. Just this week he posted on FB a picture of two long-haired female military people and put a caption under saying “can I get a thumbs up and share and ooooraaaaaah for the good old US of A” and then somebody pointed out to him that they were Israeli soldiers! See what I mean when I refer to him as “the Twat”. If he had half a brain he would be dangerous!

    You have to step back and leave them to make their own decisions – you don’t have much choice anyway do you. If you make them “choose” you will probably loose. Sorry for the epic rant but this is very close to my heart!

    • Attie,
      What would CN do without you!?
      Whenever I see your name my heart lights up.
      All you have been through, and still, you rise, you come to CN, to Sad Mom’s topic archive , to all archives, and you give give give.
      Each and every time! You give from your heart!
      You do this to hold up, to support, other Chumps.
      I am not good with words and I know at times I go on and on, trying to get out what I feel so strongly in my heart.
      Attie, I just really want to say that YOU get it all out so perfectly!
      And, most important, to me , is that you so often get it out with a MIGHTY sense of humour!
      Thank you for being YOU!

      • Attie and Peacekeeper – thank you, BOTH of you! Wise words and passionate support – just what we all need. I read CL every day but quickly. I often do not find the time to respond and support others the way I would like. I will try to do better. But thank you thank you to all those who bring me to a more peaceful and wise place every time I read. I feel hopeful and optimistic every day knowing that I am not alone and that my compadres are amazing human beings. Love you all!

      • Aaaaahhh Peacekeeper – that is the sweetest thing anyone has ever written to me – I’m gonna send it on an anonymous Valentine’s to myself next year. I have to admit my sense of humour really saved my life. You know when the chaos is at its worst and the atmosphere is electric, a short jab of humour really bursts that bubble. Works well at funerals too!

  • Chuckles the embezzling ex-cop disowned our 19 year old son within a year of D-Day #2. DS wouldn’t accept our ex-family friend Slaggy-Anne as new partner and Slaggy-Anne didn’t like any contact with his ‘old family’ so the young man had to go.

    It rips me apart at how much our son hurts. To hear the now 22 year old refer to his own father as ‘cuntface’ is not nice for anyone especially now MY poor son. It will affect him for years to come. Our two daughters that sadly died came into their own when Chuckles was trying to delay his miscount trial dates around their anniversaries.

    Perhaps I am better off in this situation but I don’t feel my son is…. who knows?

    • Hi Chumpy – I remember your story and while I am so, so sorry for the loss of your daughters I think it just shows the depths of his depravity to try to use their deaths to his advantage. And I agree with you, the hatred your son seems to feel for his dad is so sad for him (your son). I hope he can find his own balance sometime. Hugs to you (from another Brit).

  • “(Fuckwits tend to be oblivious to injustice…………)
    Dear CL, I hope it is ok with you if I take your words out of the brackets and repeat them in capital letters,
    And may I please add: TO KINDNESS, TO RESPECT, TO INTEGRITY,
    pretty well to anything good or human or heartlifting in any good kind of way.

    Sad Mom,
    Please read every word that CL wrote over and over again.
    Take to your wounded heart every word of advice and support form all of CN.
    Everyone here has been in your shoes at one time on another. All carry war wounds and nourish scars.
    Everyone has fought a war battle here.
    Many pick up the pieces, heal the open wounds the best that they can.
    Some even go on to a land called MEH!
    I wish all good things for you now, as you heal, as you carry on.
    CN will hold you up.
    I send you love and many hugs.
    I believe in YOU!
    YOU are integrity, YOU are truth,
    YOU are MIGHTY!
    I believe in YOU!

  • It sounds like your daughter inherited more than her share of her father’s genes. Does he have lots of money? If so that explains everything.

  • That is so sad, right before your 50th! Wow what a freak he turned out to be. I hate to say it but good thing you are free of him now – It is exactly three years since my D-Day after 30 years together. I am so glad to not have that air brain in my life.

    So— I may differ here in some ways from others but IMHO, I think it is good for the kids to have a relationship with the cheating parent IF THEY DESIRE, on their own terms without any pressure one way or the other from the Chump. (Many choose not to it seems, which is a solid choice on their own terms). My adult niece who’s Dad was a cheater when she was around 19, and was very distraut over what he did, says she continues to reach out to him periodically because he is still her father, and she does not want any guilt in the future that she didn’t reach out. Granted, she is a connector, and there we go with us feeling ‘guilt’ while they don’t, but it is there with that connection of a child to a parent. I believe my niece is better off still seeing her Dad every so often, although he is a mere shadow of what he would have been. Over time she has become very aware what a doofus her dad is, but he is her still her Dad. She is also fully aware that her Mom is the stable one, and she is the one she spends the quality time with, leaves her children with etc. (She would NEVER leave her kids with her Dad)

    Good luck how ever you decide to go forward. Take care of yourself.

  • I was very hurt when 2 of my adult children sided with x. When I took a good look at our family dynamics without spackling it was easier to understand. We were all controlled by x’s rages, ALWAYS. We were conditioned to “make him happy “. We were always unknowingly pick me dancing. He constantly pitted my kids against each other having them compete for his attention. He withheld love and attention, so they were thrilled with the divorce to have him actually be interested in them. He had been slamming me behind my back long before dday, planting seeds to get their support. CL is spot on in her advice. The biggest takeaway, it took me 34 years to see who he really was. It takes time for the kids also. The amount of planning and fore thought that cheaters put into this is mind blowing.

    • Think of how many chumps still quake at the thought that XH/XW child will be unhappy or fly into a rage, how they dread making a decision that he “won’t like,” even after divorce. This is life after abuse. It takes a long time to change from having a disordered person at the center of our lives. And kids are still growing and learning.

      The kids are just another reason why we MUST stop making cheaters and “what they want/expect/demand” central to our thoughts and our choices. No contact–even in our own head space!

  • You have to consider how good these types usually are at making the rest of the world think they’re god, all while porking whoever. I know my ex had a whole fan club of other women, coworkers, friends and aquaintances who all thought he was this great guy while he was busy having dozens and dozens of affairs.

    The problem here is that once someone believes that their friend/lover/father/whoever is a great person, it’s incredibly hard to give that up. It would mean giving up the great person they think they have as a friend, lover, father. It would mean admitting that they were wrong about that person and that they can no longer have the great person they thought they had. So they pick up the blindfold, just as many of us chumps did in our marriages, and pretend that it’s not true. Pretend that their loved one is still the same God they’ve always believed. Make excuses for their behavior and come up with just the right justifications that leave their image of that person intact and therefore their own relationship with them intact.

    He’s her father and she doesn’t want to give up her image of him as a good man. She knows he’s been screwing his wife, her mother, over for years and has walked out on a half-century marriage, but she still wants a great father. Cognitive dissonance. Who even knows what her father has given her as “his side of the story.”

  • I’ve found the more stable invested parent is often taken for granted. Why? Because the kids know that they have always been there, and they need not invest the energy to gain the invested parents love. They are consistent, stable, and predictable.

    The uninvested parent is most likely unpredictable; their love feels intermittent and unstable. By creating fear of losing the relationship (and then relieving it periodically with episodes of love and attention) is the perfect manipulation. This is intermittent reinforcement, and the theory is that it is more powerful than predictability.

    ” he told her she better let me know first.” This is a very subtle but effective manipulation. He’s playing the victim and encouraging your daughter to defend and protect him. He pushed your daughter right into the middle, but made it appear you are the one who insists on being in the middle. Stop playing “who is the monkey in the middle!” He’s sending the message “your mom will be mad if we have a relationship without her knowing” and you are playing right into his hands. The first mistake is letting a cheater know anything about your emotional life.

    Dealing with a manipulator has a long learning curve. The easiest thing I’ve found is asking myself what the manipulator is looking for, and then taking the opposite route. If you are dealing with a manipulator, the provoked response (your instinctive reaction) is usually what they are looking for. Do not react, defended your position, or attack the messenger, this only serves to reinforce the impression the manipulator is painting. The messenger has been given an impression by someone else, that’s why you are hearing about it. Don’t allow your reaction to reinforce what they have been told. The cheater pushed your daughter in the middle; the only way to take her out of it is to remove yourself from the game. You can’t play monkey in the middle with only 2 people.

    As a chump the hardest thing for me to swallow was, most people really do not care what the cheater did. What the majority of people care about is how you make them feel. People work from the position of the emotion you provoke in them (a hard lesson I’ve learned from being in relationship with a manipulator). People are willing to overlook behavior if they think it is a isolated event, and not a character flaw.

    Chumps working from a place of transparent raw hurt, anger, and sadness provoke unpleasant feelings; whereas the cheater is skilled at, and working from a place of impression management; attempting to influence the perceptions of other people about a person (themselves or the chump), object or event. They do so by regulating and controlling information. Their presentation is meant to match their audiences expectations and preferences. They know how to look good without truly being good. In my experience, cheaters have a covert way of presenting themselves as the victim. By using bits of truth, along with omissions, they change the presented context of events or behavior. In other words, your responses to their actions become the “proof” behind their lies, because they are a skilled at knowing what buttons to push to get the response that will prove their point.

    • @GotABrain- THAT is the gospel truth right there. You have perfectly described Asshat’s image management technique to a T.

    • “I’ve found the more stable invested parent is often taken for granted. Why? Because the kids know that they have always been there, and they need not invest the energy to gain the invested parents love. They are consistent, stable, and predictable.”

      My 1st therapist taught me this, adding also that kids can gravitate to the “less invested” parent because they see that parent as unstable–and they fear for that parent’s actual survival. I know when I worried about my parent’s divorcing, I feared that my dad “would have no one to love him.” So it’s not as simple as choosing a side, especially if the cheating parent is abusive or prone to neglecting or abandoning the kids emotionally.

      • Gospel. My daughter says her dad would have no one without her. And he plays up his heart condition to terrify her. And he lavishes money on her. He induces tremendous GUILT in her if she sees me. As if she is betraying poor sad dad.

        Before our split he didn’t particulary care for her or about her.

  • Guidelines every divorced parent should follow regarding their cheating spouse. Life is much better this way. Try it for yourself and see

    Thanks Chumplady for posting

  • Wow, Sad Mom, I’m so sorry that you’re going through all of this!

    And yes, super hugs to you and I’m so glad that you’re able to hear from other parents going through similar experiences.

    You are super mighty! After 50 years, you’re kicking your cheater Fuckwit to the curb! Go you! That takes a lot of mightiness. Lots of women would stick it out in an attempt to outlive their cheaters, but I can tell you from the experience of my late MiL, even if the cheater has a long string of health problems, there’s no guarantees.

    But yeah, the fact that your daughter is siding with him totally sucks, but it’s worth listening to CL on this one. You can’t manage that relationship, and you’ll be better off if you don’t try. Odds are that your daughter’s been Pick Me dancing for years, hoping for her father’s attention. Now that she’s divorcing, she is dancing harder than ever.

    It is possible that she’s trying to find a way to Untangle the Skein of Fuckedupness by being with her father. Her own husband is a cheater. Her dad is a cheater. Is her dad all that bad, she might ask herself. If she hangs around him, can she get any insight into why her own husband cheated–maybe a clue as to how she could have prevented the cheating!

    Of course, the thing is that you can’t stop people from cheating. Cheaters cheat because they can, which is exactly what your STBXH told you.

    I agree with CL. Let your daughter know that you recognize that her relationship with her father is hers alone, and that for the time being, you don’t really need to know what they’re doing. Then go do things for you. Remember that you probably have been not only a Wife Appliance, but also a Mother Appliance. They’ll notice you more when you’re not always present to do the stuff that they’ve taken for granted. Sure, send them the holiday cards and presents, but you don’t have to be around to do the things they’ve always expected you to do because you’ve always done it.

    Instead, make a bucket list. It doesn’t have to have all big things on it. You can even put things down like eating at that restaurant you always wanted to try but your Cheater didn’t want to. You always wanted to join a gym but never did because you felt obligated to make Cheater’s meals. The list will probably go on and on. Pick things out of the bucket to do and then have fun.

    The more you are doing for YOU, the more focus you put into self-care (and that includes therapy, because a divorce after 50 years is a huge thing and you need support), the better you will feel and the more confident you’ll feel and appear.

    This is a powerful image to project for your daughter. She might not appreciate it immediately, but she’ll eventually notice that you, at least, are Mighty!


  • This is a tough one. I think parents who divorce for any reason end up pick me dancing for their kids to some extent and resenting any affection the kids show “that fuckwit ex”. “How could they still love ex after what he/she did?” regardless of whatever the heck it was that ex did that resulted in divorce.

    In my case ex was being pretty hard on the kids as well as me prior to DDay. Both before and after DDay I was as focused on reminding him he loved his kids as I was on trying to remind him that he loved me. I did not want my kids to feel as discarded and unloved as I did. After DDay he did seem to remember that he loved his kids and wanted to stay connected to them. He realized that he didn’t want to lose them which is a good thing. At that point I was working on the kids (especially my daughter) to keep them interested in having a relationship with their father. It was a dance between “your father did a terrible thing and it’s not ok” and “he is your father and he loves you”. Although the boys got over his betrayal almost too quickly my daughter took a lot longer. At that point it would have been pretty easy to turn my daughter against her father but she has her own insecurities and really needs the love of both parents so I tried to facilitate a positive relationship between them as much as I was able and as was appropriate. Eventually she started to come around and accept her father again although their relationship remains testy as it has always been to some extent. Despite the rocky nature of their relationship they do love each other and want to have a connection and are willing to work at it a bit. This was the outcome I had wanted when I was afraid ex would give up on her too, and yet when it finally appeared to be going in the right direction, suddenly I was feeling a bit hurt. “How can she still love and care about him after the way the treated me and quite frankly her sometimes?” Honestly I was also jealous that he was willing to put more effort into working things out with her than he was willing to put into working things out with me (she wasn’t making it easy for him). I guess wives are easier to replace than daughters. These feelings and thoughts are completely at odds with the things I said to her to try and get her to accept her dad. It is such a crazy disconnect between my own hurt and my desire for my daughter to be happy and secure. It also hurts to see my boys still loving and adoring and wanting to please their father so much. I know they need his love too but it still hurts. “Hey, what about me? Who’s willing to fight for my love and affection?” For my own sake, I wish they all hated him, but for their sake, I am glad they have a relationship because I want them to feel loved by and connected to both parents. When I start to feel resentful, I just have to remember to put on my Momma hat and care more about their well being than my feelings of betrayal. It’s their dad. Being able loving him is important to their emotional health no matter how screwed up he is. I don’t want them to emulate him or think his behavior is ok, but being able to love him anyway is normal and ok as long as he isn’t abusing them. In our case, I do not believe he is abusing them. I realize that other people’s situations are different than ours.

    I guess what it all comes down to is that I am not willing to swallow shit sandwiches for fuckwit, but I am willing to swallow them for the sake of my kids. It isn’t always easy. I will admit to sometimes slipping up and saying things I probably shouldn’t but I try to keep that to a minimum while also making it clear that I approve of them having a relationship to their dad even when I am not really feeling it sometimes.

    • I am with you on this. For my sakes I wish my daughters would tell their mum to go fuck herself but for their sake I’m glad they have a decent relationship with her. Strangely enough she has found herself a new man who my girls seem to like as he is kind, giving and patient ( like me). Her AP was a total narcissistic fuckwit who was as demented as her. That went badly and it really upset the kids, they seem happy that she has found herself someone sane. Personally I feel sorry for the guy. I understand his wife died about a year before he met my ex. She throws herself at people ( as she did with me back in the day) and I think she got him when he was vulnerable. Not my problem though and better him than me. Anyway I try to think of what’s best for my girls and just let everything else go.

      • I so wish ex would break up with slutface and find somebody new who I could actually like. Then I could encourage the kids to have a relationship with her too. Not going to happen with Schmoopie though. I draw the line there. If ex did find somebody new (after breaking with slutface), I might believe there was hope for him to change for the better. From my perspective, he and slutface just encourage the worst in each other. Maybe she would be a better person without him too.

        • I am so with you on the issue of the OW. I would feel so much better if my ex’s relationship with her died, and he found someone else. I accept our marriage is over; don’t want him back anymore. But, there is no way I can even accept this affair or want that example for my children of what “love” does.

          If he were to meet someone new, I could at least believe that it’s possible she is a decent person. He might then smarten up and I can feel better about what our kids are being exposed to.

          RealMonkeyLove – As long as he’s a good guy, she will at least try to act good. Who knows how long that will last, but enjoy the break from crazytown that this relationship might give you for a while.

    • I think part of the path to health and happiness comes in NOT facilitating that relationship, not “supporting” it (even in ongoing marriages) but rather stepping back and allowing that other parent to succeed or not, on their own. Not all parents do “love” their kids. And by “love,” I’m not talking about fond feelings but rather love in action, as in willingness to do for, to sacrifice, to care for, to lead, to teach–all the things that parents must do. To the extent that we put a floor under a negligent parent, we set the kids up to expect what that person can’t give–and we set ourselves up to be in a lifelong triangle. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got from a therapist was not to get involved in any relationship between two other people.

      • That is true to an extent. I used to find myself in the middle of their arguments (before and after the marriage fell apart) all of the time and it always went badly for me. I have managed to pull myself out of that one and it is much better this way. It wasn’t easy because it had become a habit as I cared about both of them and didn’t like it when they fought. I think it was also a habit for them because they would both instinctively turn to me as mediator (even after the marriage blew up). Now I let them sort out their issues and have made it known that I will no longer get involved. It is much easier now that daughter is in college (in another country).

        When I say facilitate, I mostly mean not badmouthing Dad to daughter and letting her know that he does love her (and I believe that to be true) and letting him know the same (which I also believe is true). I have also told daughter that he could have been worse as many dads in his situation do just walk away from the kids and screw the old family over financially as well and he didn’t do that. There are also some things she can learn from him, mostly superficial, but still of benefit. Things like how to put together a good resume and present herself during an interview. He can still be of use to her. Also, when she still lived at home, I would allow him to have one on one time with her when it wasn’t officially his parent time per our marriage agreement. She really needed to have that one on one time with both of her parents. I would also encourage her to go along on the nights that were officially his when she didn’t always want to go. I didn’t force her but I told her that she might regret it later if she didn’t. Sometimes she went, sometimes she didn’t. Ultimately it was her choice. Most importantly I tried to make it clear that I approved of her having a relationship with her dad and I wouldn’t see it as a betrayal if she did (as long as she still loved me best, ha ha, no I didn’t say that).

      • THIS IS TRUTH. Not all parents love their kids. I did not take it upon myself to try to inculcate my kids with that lie. Neither did I say anything to discourage a relationship with their father. I just let it happen (or not actually). These assholes are often so lazy and selfish that if you don’t give them the drama and triangulation kibbles they are after, trying to actually have a relationship with their own kid is just too much work. They don’t have it in them. One of my daughters tried for years. I just stood back and let him be himself. Eventually, that was all it took. But, I also didn’t lie to her and prop him up and tell her bullshit like “He loves you” and “he’s doing his best.” he didn’t and he wasn’t. When he didn’t send Christmas presents and the kids asked I said “He didn’t send any.” When he forgot their birthdays and they complained “How could he?’ I said “That’s who he is.” At one point when she was a teenager, the one who tried with him the longest asked me “Will it hurt you if I have a relationship with him?” I answered truthfully and NEUTRALLY. I said, “I understand if you want that. I will never be angry or upset at you for seeing or talking to your dad. I love you no matter what. It will not hurt me if you have a relationship with your father…but, it might hurt you.” Not long after that he did something that harmed her so badly, that the lesson finally took hold. I didn’t chastise her or say I told you so. I loved her through it and said,” There is nothing wrong with you for trying and loving. Anyone who doesn’t appreciate that has something wrong with them.”

        • You’re so right, Jojobee! I wish my mother didn’t cover for my father and kept telling me that my father loved me in his own way. My adult life is full of men who love me in their own (meagre) ways but nobody loves me in my way, the way I need to be loved. Your approach was spot on. Somebody wrote above that we have to have relationship with reality not fantasy. So true.

    • I think this is right on. I empathize with the pain and issues about kids staying in a relationship with the cheating parent, but, like you, I was just so relieved that my ex chose to show up as a parent post-divorce and not abandon our daughter. That kind of rejection can really kill a kid’s (and adult’s) self esteem…like, forever. When I read stories like the letter above, part of me wants to be all “you’re stoked! he’s still showing up as a parent! He’s not totally rejecting and abandoning his kids!! That’s a win! I hope he keeps it up.”

      I figured, if my ex sticks around, then at least there’s that for my daughter. And I can eat a few shit sandwiches along the way if I have to. As it were, I’ve mastered the art of “cool, bummer, wow.”

      I know it’s not that simple or linear, but, yea, parental abandonment sucks.

    • Kids admire their Dads. They respect them. They think they’re smart. And if Dad has decided that Mom is a terrible wife and deserves to suffer the pain of betrayal and thrown out like yesterday’s trash, well, who are they to argue or to believe that what he did was wrong. And so they begin to look at Mom differently.

      We can say all the right things to our fellow sufferers but when I think back about the people I’ve known throughout my life, the mothers who took it, the mothers who didn’t complain, they ended up alone. Not all kids get tired of the glitter and the fun doled out by the fun parent and his sparkling new wife.

      I used to have a houseful of people on the holidays and there was always great warmth and cheer and fun and love. Well, I should say, that’s how I viewed it but apparently the EX was miserable and had been for years. Anyway, now he’s ensconced with his new family and I’ll be the one sitting home alone on Thanksgiving and then on Christmas and then for New Year’s. I’m eating this shit sandwich but I’m not seeing any light at the end of the tunnel. And the reality is, I’ll never have my family together again. We’ve been fractured and all the kings’ horse and all the kings’ men can’t do a thing about it.

      I won’t ever say anything to them about these feelings and realizations. I just pretend that everything is fine and dandy. After all, what else can I possibly do?

      And even if they’d acknowledge that I suffered a grave injustice, it’s only a matter of time before any hurt feelings they had will fade and they’ll all be peas in a pod again. My role will simply be filled by someone else.

      • This is exactly my situation. I feel as if I have been erased from family life whilst they carry on playing happy families somewhere else. Ex told children he was ‘ so sad with crappy wife who made him soooo unhappy’ and they just accepted it. He had an affair but oh no, they don’t want to even go there and won’t hear it! He moved us all around the country, making them move schools, uprooting them from friends and family until they were teens. He spent about two thirds of every year away and yet…. he was always there for them etc, etc. He and new wife are both filthy rich now and maybe that comes into it too. All I know is I’m now invisible.

        • Maybe I’m just bloody minded but when my oldest, who seemed to have taken his dad’s side, kind of blanked me I just let him get on with it. It hurt of course because like so many he had seen me getting beaten up and so on. When he would drive to my small village to see friends and not stop in to see me my Nigerian friend read him the riot act about how disrespectful it was. His excuse – he hadn’t digested the divorce. That’s a crock of shit – he didn’t want to see me. So after not having seen him in 11 months my youngest and his gf were arranging to come over to my place for Christmas and asked about A, my oldest. I told them A and his gf weren’t invited. If I wasn’t good enough to see during the year they could sod off! Anyway, they nagged me into inviting them (apparently A and gf really wanted to come) but I thought “dance for your dinner you little bastard. I’m not pick me dancing for you”. It was a little strained I suppose, but it was a start. However, slowly, over time and with dad being out of the way they have come around. I set up a board game evening with a group of neighbours and my youngest and gf always come because they enjoy that stuff and it is nice for me to spend time with them. Now oldest wants to join because it sounds fun! Yep, he’s on his way back, and though I always kept it cordial, bought birthday presents and so on, I ain’t pick me dancing for someone who was then his dad’s puppet! We’re still not all the way there but we’re past the first pitt stop!

        • Teresa, I meant to say, I started doing things for myself – going out (even on my own), travelling (I took myself to Sicily for my 60th), fun stuff. Faking it till I made it. When your kids can see that you’re not a total wallflower to dad and gf’s fake fun life they will come back – promise. Hang in there.

          • Thank you. I do have plans I am working on. I’m not giving up on some of my dreams just yet. I’m giving both children ‘space’ atm and hoping it works. I must add that I was always happy for them to have a good relationship with my ex but find it very unequal when he is hero-worshipped and I’m ignored on a daily basis. However I think my feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence don’t help. I have a terrible fear they will just abandon me the way he did.

  • Oh Sad Mom, I feel so sorry for you. I’m a Sad Mom too. My youngest picked his fuckwit dad and his skank over me. Why? “Because Dad doesn’t judge me.” I had called my youngest out for committing adultery on his former wife, and for treating women crappy like they’re just pieces of ass until he got tired of them before moving on to another one who’s standing in line saying, “Pick me! I’m next.” He decided two years ago not to answer my phone calls or reply to me texts. I found myself wondering, “What did I do wrong? Should I have kept my mouth shut? Was I being judgemental?” Nope. I wasn’t. I was calling him out on his bad behavior (like I did with his fuckwit dad) and rather than be an adult and say, “Because I’m doing crappy things and I don’t want mom to call me out on them”, he gave the chickenshit, fuckwit answer, “Because dad doesn’t judge me. Hmmmm…, I wonder where he learned that from? Maybe from the fuckwit?! Yep. At the end of my marriage when the fuckwit came to me and said that he didn’t want a divorce, he just wanted to live separately (after having a skank in the background for 15 years), I asked, “Are you going to be seeing this woman?” He said that he didn’t know his plans. So I said, “Well, I cannot be married to an adulterer.” His angry response, “AND THAT’S YOUR PROBLEM!! YOU’RE SO JUDGEMENTAL!!” Back then I was so messed up that I honestly wondered if I was being judgemental. And when my own son said that ‘dad doesn’t judge me’ which infers that mom does, I also doubted myself yet again. Though it hurts immensely to have my son ‘essentially’ divorce himself from me, I have no control over him. I can only pray daily for him, for me, and for my loved ones. One way I was able to distance myself from the fuckwit is to tell my other sons, “I don’t want to hear anything about your dad unless it’s bad.” Now that isn’t exactly the Christian thing to do or say, but that’s what it took to heal and get through a lot of the ugly stuff. I’m with CL. Focus on yourself and healing. If it takes distancing yourself from your daughter, then do it. You have to finally put yourself first. Best of Luck!

    • “But think of how long it took YOU to figure out that your husband is a cheater and pathological liar?”

      Yes, it took me 42 years to put a name to it! I know that both my sons (now 33 and 34) still do not believe me, because “everyone thinks that dad is such a great guy”. They both also see more of a financial gain by aligning with the cheater.

      I awake every day knowing that I was a good mom and I love both my boys very much. Just two years divorced, I am hoping that some day my boys will see the light. Until then, it’s sad.

      • I’m glad you have the name ‘Not My Fault’. That means that you figured it out fast. It took me three years post divorce to realize that it wasn’t my fault. And that wasn’t without a lot of counseling, reading Chumplady, watching narcissist videos, etc., and having wonderful friends that were willing to listen to me until I was essentially healed. I was made to doubt myself over and over again. I pray for you that some day your boys will see the light, but they may not. You’re correct in that they may be getting financial gain from having a relationship with him. But if your ex-dick is like my ex-dick, he’s Mr. Wonderful and …, you just ‘grew apart’. What the kids and ‘friends’ don’t get is that people grow apart when there’s a skank in the picture. The time he spent on the skank was time he stole from you and your relationship. We can only pray for our children and be the best example we can be. Life is not fair, but we can be kind to ourselves.

    • Proud of you for calling your son out too on his behavior. Someone has to stand up for us chumps and start to switch that narrative. I know it’s hard to do to put your kids in their place but once you have it done to you (infidelity), your backbone grows stronger lol.

  • I am going to be the skunk here. Much fuckwittedness is inherited, approximately 60% We are still holding fast to the notion, that if you bred with a fuckwit, your children didn’t get any of the fuckwittedness and if they did, you could provide great mothering to overcome their genetic deficits. I certainly believed this. But in my case, that is not true.

    My oldest daughter has been a difficult child since the moment she could walk. Horrific temper tantrums and as she got older she did gratuitously mean things, to friends and to her brother. No one liked her behavior as a kid and even as an adult, she has a mean streak a mile wide. And of course, she adores her cheating father because he has always turned a blind eye to her terrible behavior and the cruel things she could say. And she is clueless about it, moreover, her feelings are very hurt that people don’t like her. I have been the butt of her jokes for years, I have been the recipient of much meanness. She has made her old friends the butt of her jokes, and many have turned her into a mere acquaintance. She has worked really hard to undermine my relationship with my youngest daughter.

    I have been talking to my therapist about it and after Easter Family Dinner, where she said out of the blue, “My mother forgot every one of my birthdays.” After everyone at the table went in to stunned silence, she revised, “ Well she forgot all of my birthdays after I was 5.” Utterly none of this is true. They all knew this because they were at the birthdays or heard about them.

    So why would your child do this? I don’t know. Create drama, make me look like a terrible person. If I had done this, it would have been a sign of horrible mothering and something that should have been dealt with between just the two of us so I could fully appreciate the terribleness of having a mother like this.

    So after that, I went to my therapist and said, I have stopped loving that child. We came to the conclusion that I did still love her, but I needed to protect myself.

    Solution, keep doing the weekly calls, and get off the phone as soon as I can, using the CL key phrases, “Huh, Wow, Bummer” in what every order seems appropriate.

    She, like her father, never seemed to understand that her words had any consequences. Until they did.

    Do what you can for your children. Take a good hard look at them, what was their behavior like as children, what is their behavior like now. If there is little or no reciprocity, if there is still manufacturing of drama and meanness, then give them a wide birth, focus on the children you have that are kind and loving. Then give them space. Perhaps the universe will teach them.

    • I am sorry you have to deal with such a difficult situation. Sometimes nature really does trump nurture and there is nothing you can do. People like to blame parents for their kids shortcomings, but this is really unfair. Sometimes they just are who they are. You know you did your best, however, and that’s all you can do.

      It is interesting that my daughter actually has the most in common with her dad and that, more than anything, is what causes so much tension between them. They have completely different opinions and world views but other than that their personalities are alike and that is a volatile mix. On the other end, our youngest is probably the least like his dad and he is ex’s obvious favorite. I think it is because the youngest is the most like the way ex wants to be so he can live vicariously through him in ways he can’t live vicariously through the other two. The middle son is the one who most craves his dad’s admiration and works the hardest to almost sort of get it. I don’t think ex even notices, however.

    • This is like reading my own story…..My oldest picked a fight with her sisters and me then called the police. It was horrible. I told her then that if she did’t like my rules…to get out. She moved in with Jackhole’s sister (who has never liked/respected me)and told everyone who would listen that I kicked her out. She still, after 3 years doesn’t speak to me and thinks it is a competition with me for the love of her siblings. I just let her do her thing. I refuse to compete with her. My heart breaks but I can’t force her to love me. She is tied to her daddy and denies all the horrible things the man has done.
      I can’t help her….I just have to let her be and figure out life for herself.

      • Thanks for this. My DD sided with her father when we were married, when he left with the babysitter and still won’t have anything to do with me. She tells people I abused her and many other lies. I distanced myself while going through 2 years of treatment for stage 4 cancer. I finished treatment in July but having her in my life is just too much drama and I can’t risk my health dealing with it. My friends can’t believe I have cut off contact with my own daughter and they can’t understand that I had to let her go and live her life without me.

    • I don’t think you are being “the skunk” at all. In fact, I think you point out real issues here–

      1. Kids are more than just “our children.” They have their own personalities, their own needs, their own often limited understanding.
      2. Kids are to some degree the product of genetics, and in the case of kids we talk about here, they may carry some of the genetic traits involved in character disorders.
      3. They are also the product of environment. So their upbringing has been at a ringside seat to observe a disordered liar/cheater/manipulator taking advantage of a chump. Some kids identify with the more seemingly powerful parent; some with the one who was wronged; and others don’t want to be either a cheater or a chump but have no idea how not to do that.

      And of course, their brains aren’t fully wired for executive judgment until about 25. But at any age, if chumps turn down the mightiness path, take their power, know their worth, then these kiddos can learn a third and better way.

      • My son that distanced himself from me is 31. I hope he grows up and figures it all out, but I have to prepare myself for the eventuality of having lost a son. It hurts so, so terribly. But we have all been given free will. As pointed out by others, half the genetics is from the fuckwit. I kind of wonder if the kids don’t also inherit the way the synapses fire from the fuckwit and feelings of entitlement from the fuckwit. Life is not fair…, and then we die.

    • My daughter too was capable of cruel words even before the split. Once we divorced and her father started showing her attention for the first time in her life, I was done. She bought all kinds of lies he told about me and seemed gleeful about it. He plays the sick, lonely man routine and I can tell she relishes being his support and helpmate. It’s almost like they are a couple.

      Sometimes our kids are mini narcs, or narcs too.

    • Congrats on detaching with love. Parents aren’t required to be doormats.

      • This exactly! Parents aren’t required to be doormats! I for one refuse to be that doormat! Adult children need to grow up!
        My X died recently and my 54 year old daughter made a “spectacle” of his funeral, she arranged with his OW. It was both hurtful and ridiculous. It has caused a rift between her and I that may never be repaired. I didn’t begrudge her going to her step father’s funeral but truly her relationship with him was not worthy of the fiasco she created. I am now focusing on the children that care about me and want to have a respectful relationship. Life is too short to waste trying to make someone understand hurtfullness, some people just don’t get it, even your own adult children.

  • Hey, Amazon Mom, you did your best as a Christian mom to give your son values and a moral compass. Sometimes, in spite of your best effort, it just doesn’t sink in. You’re not being judgemental, you’re calling bad behavior what it is.

    I guess I’m lucky kinda sorta in a way because Cheater #1 is such a screw up that his relationship with Jr. (dear son) is spotty at best. He disappeared for the first year of Jr.’s life (I moved out when Jr. was 6 months old) and he has only shown up when it is convenient *for him*. I can always tell when C#1 is between pieces of ass, uh, I mean, girlfriends because that’s when he pays attention to Jr. Right now he is chasing some tail at the other end of the state and has not seen Jr. since the end of August. He had the nerve to call me and say “set up one weekend per month where I can see Jr.”. Um, no. You fired me from being your social secretary a long time ago.

  • Dear Sead Mom,

    I’m so sorry for your situation, but with some support from the awesome chump-nation, you will get through this.
    I’m not competent for any advice in regard to your children, I don’t have any and can only imagine, how painful it must be to feel so betrayed. Just remember, they have only half of your genetic material, the other half comes from the sucker who wants his wilting thingy sucked, (I just can’t get over it, what he said).

    You will be OK.

  • It’s seriously mighty to kick him to the curb after 50 years.

    But follow CL’s advice. Don’t ask your adult kids to “choose” between parents. Your STBX may be a terrible, cruel, liar and cheater. But he’s been their dad for 40+ years–and for a lot of that time, you probably spackled for him, covering his deficiencies as a parent. Don’t beat yourself up for that, but now they can learn what he’s like first-hand.

    And you can get on to a mighty life without a cheater.

  • He’s taking her shopping. What girl can resist a shopping trip from DADDY!! About as deep and introspective as a thimble I’d say. But hey maybe it’s all she knows from what she’s seen from douchebag daddy!! Eleven year affair??? For all you know this is the only one you know about. Kinda hard to do much else with ones family like create meaningful relationships and not just be a giant walking wallet!! Sounds like he worked hard, made a good living and shared with his family but fuck the rest. It’s all she knows of him. Let’s see what happens when she doesn’t have time for him for anything else but what he’s good for. Spending money on HER.

    Agree they are not your problem. Your daughters an adult and has half the DNA of douchebag daddy. Maybe the apple hasn’t fallen far from the tree

  • Sad Mom – I’m sorry for all that your are going through. If your STBXH would be crass enough to talk the way he has to you, then good riddance. Let someone else deal with his low value.

    As for your adult children, as some have said, you’re daughter could be dealing with her own daddy issues, and there is nothing you can do about that. Please do not allow yourself to be threatened by the time being spent with your ex. As others have said, it’s very likely that he is now in “image management” extraordinaire. That is very tiring work, and he will not have the stamina to keep it up. Just let the light burn out on its own.

    At the same time, do not allow yourself to be a doormat. If you’re children and/or grandchildren are not showing you appreciation for what you do, then make yourself less available. Someone else can cook turkey dinner for Thanksgiving, someone else can have the annual Christmas cookie bake off, etc. Let everyone know that you are taking it easy this year so that you can heal from the recent trauma and get yourself on with your own kind of busy.

    As for your daughter “lying” to you about the timeline about shopping with her dad, I would chalk up that particular moment as an example of her being caught between a rock and a hard place and poor timing. The shopping might have come up in conversation with her dad, but then she didn’t run it by you first, but then how could it have, etc, etc. I recommend letting that one go.

    If dear daddy does not have another woman in the picture right now, and my guess is that there is no one dedicated a lot of time to him, then it makes sense that he’s turning to your daughter to fill the void of female companionship. He now no longer has the wife appliance to fill in the blanks between other women. Once he scores again, his time with his daughter will drop. Oh well, none of this is your problem. Let her figure out the pattern herself.

    Give your daughter a copy of CL’s book to help her figure out her own husband. Maybe hold off on letting her know that there exists a blog so that this space stays as yours. Or, if you want to protect this then share with your daughter. Hopefully, the more she figures out what a fuckwit her husband is by reading their articles, then the greater the chance that she’s make the correlation to her own father.

    Be mighty, stay sane, act morally and give yourself time. Your kids and grandkids will come around. They are in the middle of all of this and are not always going to react as you would wish. However, they will remember in future whatever patience and grace you demonstrated during this difficult time.

  • It seems like a lot of these kids who “chose” their cheating parents do so because they know that parent requires it in order to keep their “love”. Kids are going to work hardest to please the parent they have to work the hardest to please. Subconsciously, they know the chump parent is going to love them and be there for them no matter what they do so they focus on pleasing the more demanding parent. That dynamic could shift, however, if the run away parent is impossible to please. In that case the child may eventually burn out and return to the parent they know loves them. I do remember my daughter once saying (before DDay) “There is no point in trying to please Dad because he is impossible to please”. I remember thinking “I know how you feel” but I didn’t say it. Now she makes him work at keeping her.

  • Sad Mom – when I finally caught the dbag in my scenario after 23 years of serial cheating, I remember telling my brothers and my dad that they needed to stay connected to my then 13-yo daughter who’s dbag dad just abandoned her. “She needs good men in her life,” I said to them.

    But…it wasn’t necessary. I didn’t realize that my engagement, love, stability, keeping her in counseling (she was a willing participant), and being the most fierce mom I could be for her was the ONLY key to her growing and thriving WITHOUT a “male figure” in her life. She’s at university now for an architectural engineering degree and works as a drafting specialist as her “after school job” because she took drafting while in high school. She kicks ass, and no, neither she nor I “needed” a dbag around us in order to move forward and grow into a healthy young woman. She learns that from me. My brothers and dad were minimally involved anyhow due to distance, so see? It’s not necessary.

    Your daughter was cheated on for years, and yet she CHOOSES another serial cheater in her life for the sake of having a guy around, yet knowing the acute pain you’re going through, but with double the years invested/wasted than she has? THAT’S the “male role model” she thinks her kids need in their lives?

    You might have to go no contact with her for a time, too, for your own sanity. I understand there are grandkids involved, but this is about your short and long-term emotional and mental health. I have one grandchild born a few months before DDay. My grandson is 6 now, and has never met the douche. I’ve been his soccer coach many times, am his afterschool care pick-up person, and he’s one of my best little friends. That I know of, my grandson never will meet that dbag, because my grown kids choose authenticity, and a devoted love from me than any lies and BS the dbag can feed them. They had him figured out long before I did. They choose no contact, have limited “male figures” in their lives, and they’ve thrived.

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this, but keep walking away. It’s the best thing you’ve ever done where that pig is concerned. Don’t look back.

  • It’s one thing to go through the misery of your life blowing up with the cheater and a whole different level when it involves your kids. I spent so many years spackling that fucker as a good father. I gave him credit for being involved with Christmas. He never purchased the first gift, he bitched about what I did buy, I set up Santa after they went to bed and he bitched about me waking him up, then he couldn’t roll his sorry ass out of bed for the excitement of Christmas morning. I kept thinking he would want to be involved. And I was so wrong. I wanted those things for my kids and I was looking at life through my own chumpy lens. And I gave him all kinds of credit for being a great dad. This is just one small example of so many to share.

    When Dr. Cheaterpants ran off into the sunset with his twu wuv schmoopie (DD14’s 20-something asst sports coach in our kids’ Catholic high school and not the first schmoopie BTW), I told my kiddos they would need to navigate their relationship with their dad from now on. I would no longer be the buffer.

    They have seen what an entitled, selfish ass he is now. DS19 still goes by that fucker’s huge new house with his young ho schmoopie, even though his father dropped paying his car insurance when he graduated high school and his dad was on a tropical vacation with his young schmoopie for parent’s weekend at his college -I was there. I wouldn’t miss those milestones with my kids for anything in the world. Yep, those are my values and what I prioritize. My DD17 now, sees her entitled fuckwit of a father for what he is and dreads spending any time with him at all, and the ho schmoopie he road in on. But he had to fail at being a good dad in her eyes first. And this may or may not ever happen for my son.

    You do have to let go of the situation. You have to step away from that old life and let the kids manage their relationship with cheater dad. He’s a piece of shit and they will either come to realize that on their own or accept the crumbs he offers on his terms. Your relationship with your kids is totally separate.

    I am so sorry for your pain! This is the hardest thing to go through in the world. As awful as it sounds, I just wish that fucker had died instead. Then I’d know how to grieve and move on with my life.

  • Chumplady – you are my hero. Thirty-two years with my narc and the worst of it has been the smear and lies that he has told my children. Thank you for putting it into perspective for me. A bucket list – what a wonderful idea! I don’t even know where to start – but what a positive idea!

    Do you have any support groups in Chump Nation for grey divorce. It seems to have many challenges – when you find out at 60 that your husband has had an affair for years and your future has been wiped clean.

    Would love to talk to other chumps with these same problems. I realize everyone here has equally horrible scenarios and have come through it – hopefully better – I love hearing all of the comments and they have made me feel not so alone. Thanks to all of you! and I feel for the chump in the 30 year marriage. May your life be better!! and you come out of it so much lighter and happier!

    • I ended a marriage to my XH the substance abuser right before I turned 60 and then jumped into a relationship with Jackass the cheater. I’ve been on my own for over 5 years (although I date a very kind man) and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. Still working, taking care of my house and property, involved in several active sports, involved in politics, and taking care of my rescue cats. Right now contemplating how to redo my living room without spending money. My best advice? Figure out WHAT you love, what makes you YOU. Put your energy into those things.

    • flowerfool,
      I was 64 when I began realizing that my husband of 43 years wasn’t who I thought he was. He had been verbally abusive for the last half of our marriage but I still believed he was a good man at heart. By then we had moved far away from our adult daughters for his job so we only saw them a few times a year.
      So when I filed for divorce after his egregious gaslighting they were shocked, as were our extended families. Because I had spackled for decades and they didn’t see any of it.

      I got proof that my ex was actually gay and had been sexually promiscuous with men (and maybe women) for our whole marriage only after I filed. He tried to convince our daughters that I was crazy and delusional and they believed him. Now, three years later, I’m not sure what they think because we never discuss him. I moved back to the East coast a few months ago and live where they grew up. My ex retired and moved to the Philadelphia area to be close to our older daughter, his favorite. Time will tell whether she ever sees that he’s a covert narcissist. I am afraid that he will emotionally harm her and my granddaughter. But I have no control over that.

      At least we share holidays; this year they are having Thanksgiving with him and Christmas with me. But I am not even close to meh. I spent the majority of my life with a man who I thought was good. Now I know that he is an evil SOB.

      • Spackled for decades.

        … to kids and to myself.

        Now, I have to correct that false narrative about sad sausage in my head and it ain’t easy. I feel responsible for making sure that he does not suffer.
        I know it’s fucked up.
        That is why I am still undivorced.

        The kids are seeing the sad sausage and they are buying in less and less.

    • Yup gray divorce is tough. We don’t have the luxury of knowing that we have years and years ahead of us to possibly find exciting new careers, remarry, have more kids etc. Our lives are quite set in some ways.

      The bucket list is a good idea. I have three trips planned for this year and next. Looking forward to travel and doing the research has been a bright spot!

  • It drives me crazy when my 8-year-old talks lovingly about her cheater dad BUT every once and a while she does something that gives me hope for the future. Most recently she performed a little social experiment unknown to everyone participating. She started realized that OW would roll her eyes or stop the conversation completely if I was brought up. So she started bringing up OW to me to see how I would act. I either discussed the topic with her or said something like “That’s nice”. It’s nice that she understands better than some adults who the real toxic people are in our scenario.

    • I do think they learn who has their best interest at heart. My kids are a huge kibble source to their cheater dad, now ex husband, Dr. Cheaterpants. He’s all in as long as he’s the center of attention or he can tag on to their greatness like my kids being great at their sport or when my son was applying to an ivy league college. Otherwise they are not of use to him and he punishes them financially when they don’t fall in line to his greatness.

      Little kids are great kibble sources as long as they comply. Your daughter is learning this. You love her completely and unconditionally. Enough to choke down a shit sandwich about her cheater dad and his ho when the topic comes up.

  • My children were young adults when xhole started his affair with howorker and blew up our family. Until the discard and affair, he was really a pretty good dad. The kids grew up with a loving father who supported them. They were devastated about the affair and divorce. They have contact with him (he did move to marry howorker). Most contact involves texts and holiday visits.

    After 4 years, I always feel a sense of dread and disgust that they have any relationship with him. But their relationship with him is just that…their relationship. They know what their dad did. I can’t make them feel guilty because they still love him (although it will never be the same type of love). I trust that he sucks. They are not there yet and they may never be. But I have no control over that. The only thing I can control is my relationship with my kids. I will just keep rocking the relationship the best I can.

    I really have a difficult time with the phrase “the children chose the ex” to describe a relationship between the children and the ex, unless describing children who have ended all contact with the chump. That is a pain that surely guts the chump more than what was inflicted by the ex. My heart hurts for anyone going through that pain.

    I think many times we put the children into an unfair situation when we expect them to feel the same about their “parent” as we do about our ex “spouse”. Those relationships are very different and complex in their own ways. I don’t expect my children to understand the depth of my pain, and I will never understand their pain of having a fuckwit parent who blew up the family. My children, although grown, have been changed forever. We each deal in our own ways. My way is no contact and no updates on their dad. Their way is an uneasy love and still trying to reconcile who their dad really is. It sucks for all of us.

  • It took my daughters almost 15 years to come to terms that their father (my fuckwit ex) is a toxic jackass. Toxic fuckwit jackasses do not need anyone’s help pointing out that they are TFJs; they do a fine job of demonstrating that all on their own. Eventually. Additionally, your kids are way more likely to share with you when they have their revelation if you yourself have never yourself trashed him to them. Meanwhile, above all, be the fun one, the happy one, the purveyor of love and acceptance towards your children and they will always have a place for you in their lives.

  • If you want to resume contact with your daughter and grand child, let her know that you love her and will respect her choice to keep her father in her life. Your only request is that you don’t want to hear about him or be in his presence, unless it’s for your grandchild’s birthday or milestone events (graduation, wedding, etc).

    One of the pitfalls of breeding with a fuckwit is that the fuckwit remains the father of your children whether you like it or not.

  • Also ‘some’ younger people don’t have quite the same moral compass or sense of what is betrayal as we may have. My son who is 20 knows about my Hs EA ‘thing’ and also knew the person and he knows about the overtexting a colleague too And the hiding and deleting it, his first comment was, ‘well you wouldn’t have liked it so that’s why he did it , I text my female friends all the time ’ and with regard to his dad writing the longing songs about someone else11 years ago and me finding them he said, ‘he doesn’t have enough friends and clearly got bored and it’s an ego boost, it’s bad but he loves you a lot, just let it go’ So if I do decide to separate further down the line I’m not holding my breath on tons of sympathy!!

    • This is sucky. Sorry your son does not empathize with how you feel. I hope he does not find out how it sucks to have a spouse be emotionally (or physically) invested elsewhere. I hope you get mightly and make the right decision for you. If you need support, there is always CL and CN!

    • Be sure to be equally nonchalant and casually cruel about his future breakups.


      “Well, she probably found your dick too small for her taste. So it’s for the best.”

      “I guess she found somebody who could give her an orgasm. Hey, it happens.”

      You get the idea.

  • You’d think an adult daughter going through a divorce with their very own cheating husband would be disgusted with their cheating dad. Not so.

    You’d also think an adult daughter who abandoned her child would remain loyal and loving to a mother who raised her. Not so.

    That’s been my experience also sad. If we were in a boxing match- in one corner would lie a cheating, drunk, who plays the victim. In the other the sure and steady mom who devoted her time and energy into taking care of others needs.

    There’s a difference between the investment we made with our cheater and that of our children. There’s no difference in our expectations, however.

    We deserve love, respect, and trust from our adult children. Unconditional love is no longer required. As adults these children know who is in the ring. They really do figure you’ll always be there, will forgive, and tolerate! It’s what they learned from us.

    Setting boundaries with adult children is foreign after years of observing a lopsided relationship.
    It was no doubt lopsided with them also.

    Daughters going on vacation and needs me to dog sit. I get yelled at for a plant dying after spending my vacation week at her home. This was the old me. Now, I say no.

    Your relationship will be different with adult children. Set boundaries and live your life. Do for yourself.

  • Dear Sad Mom,

    My heart goes out to you. Listen to Chump Lady’s advice, it is spot on. Wish I had her advice when I had hit my Dday. It would of made my recovery so much less painful and long. Currently, I view my relationship with my daughters as my long term emotional investment. Staying hopeful for my return in near future.

    Stay positive and strong. You deserve a Happy life!

  • Sad mom. I hope you have a good lawyer. Do not let anyone including him try to talk you out of what is rightfully yours.

  • I get this so much! Daughter now 31 yo got married in the the middle of the shit show. She knew Fool was screwing around, and knocked me down. Ex-fool told daughter and myself that he did not care if he got to walk daughter (only child) down the aisle. Daughter works as a Woman’s Christian counselor. I paid off her $100,000 undergrad without a thank you. She did not come home for 3 years. Recently I had surgery and she would not take me. She never calls and if I call her, the son in law is always listening in. I am changing my will to give her only one dollar. I do not care about the relationship between her and ex fool but how she treats ME.

    • Good for you. She sounds like she richly deserves that whole dollar. I’d leave instructions to have your executor, totally deadpan, advise her to spend it wisely.

  • I don’t think any parent should ever attempt to prevent a relationship between their children and their mother or father. Whether the children are kids or adults does not matter. The only exception to this would be a minor child in the case of abuse. Making the children choose sides will ALWAYS end badly. You might accomplish your goal, but you may lose your children in the process.

  • I feel the worst for my four daughters. I ALWAYS protected their dad. “Dad threw the dog down the steps” I DID NOT BELIEVE THEM. Dad worked hard, I thought he did this for his family, NOPE, he made a lot of money so his educated wife could handle everything at home so he could work, screw around with his secretary and sit on a bar stool. He was never around for any problems at home. He could screw around when I had to drive hours back and forth to the cancer hospital where my daughter had treatments and I had to get home to her twin sister. It breaks my heart that I put my kids through this. It hurts like hell when my oldest daughter who is 33 thinks her dad walks on water. She feels the same about my ex-mother in law. I was always there for my kids, but they remember the fun dad. I am the one who makes the Halloween costumes for her and my granddaughter this year and they looked great, but no acknowledgement on Instagram. Just pictures of her dad and grandmother proud as can be and I am nowhere on her page. I am invisible. I gave up so very much. I am getting better everyday, but after 35 years of marriage, it hurts when all the love and work mean nothing.

    • I am so sorry, lost wishes. It is one thing to see your daughter and granddaughter having fun with your EX and his family–it hurts, but it is not unreasonable. It is another thing entirely to be ignored and used by your daughter and granddaughter (with or without the EX being in the photo).

      I hope you can have a conversation with your daughter about gratitude and inclusion. Perhaps it might work best if you leave your EX and the other grandmother out of it because it would be too easy to dismiss your pain as “bitterness,” when all you are really asking for is standard civility.

      I don’t know if your daughter will ever figure out her father is a jackass. The manipulation skills of cheaters are often amazingly well-developed, but that does not diminish your kindness and dedication. I hope you are proud of your work, and I wish my kids had handmade Halloween costumes. Your family is lucky, even if they aren’t wise enough to know your worth.

  • This is amazing – so many strong people who have worked out their own worth the hardest way known to man.

    Kids who side with the Cheater: so much hurt, so many gaping wounds – being Daddy’s Favorite, or being Daddy’s Least Favorite; both kids end up doing the Pick Me Dance.

    It’s also amazing how many Chump Life Lessons actually apply outside of a marriage. Your kids do the Pick Me Dance. Friends ‘cheat’ on you and treat you like a doormat as well as ex-spouses.

    Adult children are just that: adult. And yes, I’ve seen people who have to exercise a lot of control in how often they see their kids, and how long they spend with them. Adult children can be unsafe people; they can be abusive.

    I agree that you don’t stand between them and the Fucked Up Parent, but it’s very galling nonetheless. I guess it’s just keeping the lines of communication open so that if and when the Adult Kid comes to their senses, the walk back isn’t punishingly long.

  • Here’s another sad reality; sometimes your kids suck, too. After all, they grew up being influenced by their scumbag father. They learned from his selfish neglect of them that nice people tend to get screwed over and that assholes get to do whatever they want. They identify with him and suck up to him because they don’t want to be hurt like you were. It’s kind of a familial version of Stockholm Syndrome. Sometimes, if you wait, they realize they are wrong, and sometimes, heartbreakingly, you just have to let them go. So, just give them the facts, then let them go kiss Daddy Fellatio’s ass if they want. If they also want you in their lives, let them make the effort to reach out to you. After all, you’re the one in pain. Shouldn’t they focus on supporting you at this time? Shouldn’t that be more important than the laughably fake doting grandpa tableau they are trying to create? If they are not supportive of you, they clearly carry his suck gene and you need to back away. See the grandkids and be cordial to your kids, but don’t expect much and don’t give them anything they haven’t earned. Refuse to be used. If they never figure out that he sucks and won’t provide you with the emotional support you need, you have only lost sucky kids and bullshit, one-sided relationships. Look to good friends and other relatives who will support you.
    It’s massively unfair, but you can’t expect fairness from zombies with Stockholm Syndrome.

    • thank you thank you thanks you…..someone else who really understands what can happen with our adult children…This is my daughter throughout!! So good to know its not me!

  • Mine turned out to be an abusive relationship. After getting a restraining order I went into “hiding” for a while. I lived next door to Mom. Dickhead really took the time to get to her. She is 76 and he played on her weaknesses. Told her he will always be there for her even though I am not. Real cruel manipulator! Just to get info on me and adult daughter who by the way wants nothing to do with him.. It turns out that over a year later I discovered that almost everything he took from our house is stored by mom.
    Imagine my surprise….!
    I’m over a year out after 30yrs of marriage. And yes I went from a wheelchair to a cane. Life goes on! And it will always get better. Love to all. Hang in there.

  • As someone that’s close in age to the daughter, the ‘daughter is going through the divorce process because of her husbands infidelities too’ really stood out to me. Two thoughts, 1) it didn’t take long for me to process as I was going through my divorce that I picked pieces of shit in relationships because that’s what was modeled for me/ I was treated like growing up and 2) is daughter receiving support for the hell she is also gong through right now?

  • Just going to try to give a “thinking out of the box” opinion here about the seemingly insensitive daughter. You’d think her heart would be breaking for you because she knows first hand what it feels like as she is going through the trauma of infidelity and divorce herself. Not to excuse her cold heartless behavior towards you, but to offer a possible explanation: She’s going through it herself. She has lost all trust in men, and she’s looking for a safe place. She’s looking for a man who can restore her faith that they won’t all ambush and devastate her life. She’s not looking at her dad as someone’s husband whom he screwed over. She’s trying to find security from the one and only man who’s ever loved her – her Daddy. Prayers for you, “chump lady” (and you’re not a chump, just a trusting victim who probably had enough positive things happen in between 50 years of red flags, that you trusted that no one could be that evil). There, but for the grace of God, go all of us.

  • Sad Mom,

    You need to understand that children (adult or otherwise) will be kinder to the parent they feel the least secure with. They fear losing the parent who has always been distant or a jerk, so unconsciously they think that parent will bail on them if they take any anger out on them, even if it’s well deserved. You daughter is afraid to be angry with him because she knows she’ll never hear from him again if she does. She can be angry with you though because you have always been there and always will be. You are the safe parent, he is not. So she will take her pain out on you. Sorry.

    I hope things get better. I have been on the receiving end of my children hating me and loving psychopath dad. Eventually, they figured it out.

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