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Dear Chump Lady, I want him to stay with the OW

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Dear Chump Lady,

I’m new to reading your column (just found it).  I’ve been divorced 10-years after 14 years of being married. I found out from my then 2-year-old that her daddy was “naughty” because he kissed “girl.” We also had a 10-month old baby at the time. 

I knew from the look on his face, it was true and immediately asked him to leave. Although I was devastated and wanted to be nasty, I knew it was important for my girls to have their dad in their life on a regular basis. (I never had mine). 

It took everything I had to decide to do what would be best for my girls. I told him if would just be a good dad — the kind our daughters could be proud of — I’d make his life easy. Although I lost all respect for him, I told him he might be able to earn a bit of it back if he did right by the girls. 

He has been an excellent dad and co-parent. We have coached T-ball together, gone to dance competitions together, and can easily celebrate milestones for our girls together. He continued seeing the “girl” he had the affair with, and they have been married over 6 years now. She is 17 years younger than me, but I really do love her. She is an amazing person with an honest and pure soul. She is GREAT to my girls, and she is a good partner for their dad. He is a better person for having her in his life. 

Now the problem. Sadly, he recently cheated on her! It was a short affair with a weird set of circumstances, but I am FURIOUS. I’m trying to be understanding because I don’t want his life to blow up because it would affect my girls even more than when he and I separated. They are now 11 and 13 and really don’t remember their dad not being with his current wife. 

Of course, he is ashamed and remorseful and thought he would NEVER do this again. I really let him have it for being so selfish and arrogant and told him to get professional help, but I truly just want them to reconcile. 

I’ve reached out to her and tried to advocate on his behalf, but I think she now knows that she was most likely the “other” woman all those years ago. I just want them back together. Why in the hell am I even thinking that? I should be thinking well, once a cheater; always a cheater. He doesn’t deserve to have two amazing women in his life. BUT I decided many years ago to show grace to them both, even though it was brutal, and I am so thankful I did.  

I feel guilty for wanting her to stay with him after what he did to her, but I know he is a better man than he has shown lately. 

Terri

Dear Terri,

I get some weird mail, but your letter takes the biscuit. I think you’ve been eating shit sandwiches for so long and pronouncing them delicious that you’ve lost sight of who you are. Like, where you end and other people start.

I have sympathy — believe me, I know where all those cultural messages to forgive and Be The Bigger Person and Be Friends with Your Ex come from. And… you’re Exhibit A why that’s all a bunch of toxic positivity bullshit (A new buzz word I swear was lifted from CN…)

It’s like you were goddamned you were going to be a chump — a person who was, through no fault of her own, victimized by two selfish fuckwits — so instead you went with the positive narrative. I’m going to kill these people with my Goodness and Understanding, and (sorry) moral superiority. That will cover up the stench of vulnerability and grief and anger.

I get why that’s a powerfully seductive choice (societal acceptance PLUS you stay in your ex’s orbit as his emotional helpmate and confessor). Now I’m going to tell you to cut the crap.

How about you stop projecting all this love, peace and treacle on everyone and take a hard look at everyone’s actions? Current wife was a mistress — she was happy to have an affair (your term) with your then-husband when you had a toddler and infant at home. She wasn’t “pure and good” — she was a young woman quite happy to break up your family if it meant she was Special. At your expense. And (bonus!) she got you to agree with her specialness. Now he’s cheated on her? I got nothing but ha-fucking-ha over here.

I am sorry for your children who have to go through yet another divorce, but you never controlled that.

Let’s break this down.

Although I was devastated and wanted to be nasty, I knew it was important for my girls to have their dad in their life on a regular basis.

I would never advise you to be nasty. We’re all about civility and following court orders here — but your niceness or nastiness has NEVER controlled the degree to which your ex is involved is his children’s life. You’re buying into a toxic myth that we control others through our behavior — and the flip side — that our missteps (was I nasty?) compel people to abuse us.

You were going to be civil to him — because THAT IS WHO YOU ARE. And he was going to fuck up every good thing and not give a shit about the consequences or anyone’s feelings — because THAT IS WHO HE IS.

He has been an excellent dad and co-parent.

Bitch cookie. He parents and goes to events. Like… a parent. Set aside his whole penchant for blowing up home lives with his wandering dick. Aside from that, he’s great at T-ball practice.

She is an amazing person with an honest and pure soul. She is GREAT to my girls, and she is a good partner for their dad. He is a better person for having her in his life. 

Nice narrative you’ve got there. Crazy how her goodness and purity didn’t stop him from cheating either. You bought into the story that gosh, she was just a better fit for your ex. That’s why he had to Do the Bad Cheater Thing. And now turns out… he was just a cheater. And she’s not special.

I’m sorry of the two, your daughters are losing the more invested parent. (Someone had time for fucking around and it wasn’t her.) But your kids still have you — and that’s all you control — YOU. Please be the sane parent, because Dad and Miss Thing have a lot of self-inflicted drama.

I am FURIOUS. I’m trying to be understanding because I don’t want his life to blow up because it would affect my girls even more than when he and I separated.

You don’t control that. Just like you didn’t control it when it happened to you. We don’t control fuckwits. I’m sorry your girls will be hurt. That’s what selfish fuckwits do — they hurt kids because they did the cost-benefit analysis and fucking around won out over everyone else’s well-being. That’s his CHARACTER. He didn’t give a fuck when they were two. He doesn’t give a fuck when they’re 11. Dance recital attendance cannot make up for this.

Of course, he is ashamed and remorseful and thought he would NEVER do this again. I really let him have it for being so selfish and arrogant and told him to get professional help, but I truly just want them to reconcile. 

Dear God woman, why are you in his head? How can you presume to know what he feels? You’re projecting shame and remorse where it doesn’t exist. How do I know? HE DID IT AGAIN. Yeah, he felt so bad about cheating, he went out and had another affair.

Anyway, NONE OF THIS IS ANY OF YOUR BUSINESS. And you making it your business is you being emotionally enmeshed with your ex. Which is a really nice triangle/pick me dance you’ve got going there with the OWifetress. Who gets all the cake and kibbles? Your ex. Stop it!

I’ve reached out to her and tried to advocate on his behalf,

OMG no.

but I think she now knows that she was most likely the “other” woman all those years ago. I just want them back together.

Look, if you knew they were having an affair — she was fucking him. She knew. And if she didn’t know, she’s had the last decade to buy a clue from you.

Anyway, your wishes about their relationship are UTTERLY IRRELEVANT. You weren’t invited to their fucked up love rhombus, okay? LET IT GO. Step away!

I feel guilty for wanting her to stay with him after what he did to her,

Examine that. Staying with a cheater was too good for you (awesome choice), but totally acceptable for her? This person you purportedly admire and esteem? Superiority much? You don’t see a bit of frenemy bitchy dynamic going on?

She chose a cheater. Who cheated on her. It’s a natural consequence. Consequences happen regardless of our feelings about them.

but I know he is a better man than he has shown lately. 

No. He’s a serial cheater who does shitty things. You’re just now perhaps clueing in to who he is. And maybe who she is.

The real question is — why are you so invested in them?

Terri — go do you. You’re enough. You’re parent enough. You’re mom enough. You never, ever needed to buy into your ex’s impression management to be whole. (IF I’M AN AWESOME CO-PARENT AND NEVER BITTER HE WON’T FUCK OVER ANYONE ELSE!) That’s voodoo. Stop believing in superstition and start believing in you.

Grey rock with the Fuckuperstons.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • HOLY shit. This letter is a nightmare. My goodness, the level of Chumpiness is off the charts. PLEASE for the love of God listen to Chump Lady!! This is a situation that is beyond fucked up. Stop trying to clean up your exes messes!!! He’s like a child and every time you come around and repair the damage, he gets away with it! He is a lying liar that lies!!! Free yourself!!!

    • Sadly, this letter is the description of 4 women (now at least 5) orbiting their lives around a piece of shit instead of creating their own self-guiding torches.

      • agreed. she is WAY too invested in “helping” her ex. .. .. i TOTALLY get the wanting better for the kids but she has taking it to a whole new level.

        instead of worrying about how “good” he could be or should be. … she needs to worry about WHAT this is teaching her girls. she mentioned that the children do NOT remember a time when dad was not with the current wife, which means the girls do not remember daddy being naughty and kissing other woman who are not mommy.. .. a good thing if his ass had straightened up and did the work to change his character. Obviously he did not, he only was hiding his shitty character with coaching Tball, dance competitions and pretending to be a great dad and co-parent. Now her children are fooled just as much as she is. how do you explain to an 11 and 13 that Disney Daddy is actually a shithead, loser cheater?

        by telling the children the TRUTH. tell them that it is wrong to cheat on your WIFE. teach them that every action has consequences. teach them that keeping your word and promises and doing what is right is more important then having a good time. explain to your kids how dear old dad had a choice to make, and he purposely chose the wrong path. and encourage your girls how to NOT be treated with such disrespect as dad treats current AND ex wife. ..

        children learn what they live. terri has invested so much time, energy and effort to make daddy look good. she worked hard so her children would have a good father figure only to find out that he is honestly NOT a GOOD father figure. it was all just pretend. it was NEVER her job in the first place. if daddy wanted to be in the childrens lives he would have never cheated on her in the first place. she only made it easy for him.

        Now Terri has some hard thinking to do, is THIS the kind of male role model she wants for her girls? IS THIS the kind of man she wants her girls to idolize and admire? at 11 and 13 they need to learn that sometimes men (and woman too) DO bad things even thou they say they wont. they need to learn that ACTIONS and CHARACTER mean more then empty promises, little league practices and dance competitions.. .. at ages 11 and 13 these girls need to be taught morals, standards and boundaries… as well as consequences and rewards.

        i hope she reworks her mental process and starts teaching her girls how to stick to boundaries and to SEE how shallow dad’s behavior really is. he was only doing the bare minimum, not to much depth there. i feel bad for all of them, but i hope they all find a way out of this sinking pit of misery.

    • Omg!!! Do I understand the Op. I’ve been living this mind thought for the past 7 years. Can’t upset the cart, not realizing I’m living my life for someone else just to keep peace.

      I needed to read thus from chumplady like you can’t believe.
      You must be one of my angels.

      • Eileen – if the responses I’m getting are helping you, I’m stoked. I’ve read viewpoints I never even thought of and know I’ll move forward with a clearer vision of what I need to do vs. what I should do. It’s tough to hear at times especially when you truly thought you were doing the right thing.

        • 10 years ago, you didn’t have Chump Lady, just a bunch of BS. You’ve done the best you could – don’t doubt that. It’s never too late! You have found Chump Nation now and nothing will be the same! Welcome to clarity – even though it is incredibly uncomfortable, you will soar eventually and know true peace! The folks on here have seen and heard just about everything. All of us look back and can’t believe we did / thought certain things. Hang in there! You are on a new path and it leads to better health, happiness and peace, we promise!

        • OP – your letter totally helped me. I have been waivering on a relationship like this with my ex and his family because that is what they guilt me into. I recently cut all of them off and will only text over visits, etc. I know it gives them the impression that I am an angry bitter bitch. But really I just don’t want a relationship with any of them. Seeing CL’s responses to you helped confirm that I am doing right by me, my children and my situation. Best of luck to you!

        • Terri, you’re not alone in your supreme codependent Chumpiness. I have gotten some good perspective here also. Thanks for sharing your experience.

    • When I was reading Terri’s letter I keep thinking….I couldnt do that… Oh boy… I really couldnt do that. BUT….I’m only a year and some from DD.

      Terri..
      Go grey rock! I so helpful!

  • You realize he cheated on her because there is NO ONE in his life, include YOU, who has had the balls to call him out on his despicable ways. Being friends with him did not benefit your girls. Respectful co-parenting is one thing. Being friends enabled him to continue being a terrible example of a man for your daughters.

    And you LOVE his wife, the woman he cheated on you with? You LOVE her??? She’s a wonderful person??? Do you feel terrible for her that he cheated? Do you not remember how she participated in ripping your family apart? Why do you care so much about saving her marriage that was built on lies and deception to begin with??

    I believe in forgiveness and letting go, but you have not done that. You have handed over your power to your ex and his affair partner. You have condoned and enabled the mistreatment of yourself. Sorry if this is harsh but maybe it’ll help you wake up. Put yourself and your daughters first.

    • Exactly. My cheater HATES just HATES that I haven’t done modern ‘let’s invite OW over for Xmas and yeah hell I was a bit crap at times and thus had it all coming to me but I still love you and care for you and want to a loving mum and dad like we were before’. BULLSHIT.

      Wouldn’t he love it if I did, although I am sure he would just use it as another set of reasons to emotionally abuse me. No contact, stay away is the sanest advice EVER. It’s like the Switzerland friends thing. Do not condone their behaviour as this normalises it.

      I wish I were in your shoes I would be popping the champagne, standing on the sofa shouting. ‘Here comes the karma bus’ and laughing my head off even if I had reached ‘meh’.

      • LOVE this – I wish I were in your shoes I would be popping the champagne, standing on the sofa shouting. ‘Here comes the karma bus’ and laughing my head off even if I had reached ‘meh’.

    • I disagree that the cheater cheated because of anything she or the OWife did or didn’t do (and I bristle at seeing this responsibility dumped on anyone especially a well meaning but misguided chump). He cheated because he is a selfish asshole … the end.
      How we respond to assholishness is what we should consider.

      • True. I called Hannibal Lecher out ALL the time on bad behavior. His family told me how good I was for him. He was still a serial cheater. All my calling him out did was make him better at hiding his poor behavior.

      • Just wondering, where do you see the “the cheater cheated because of anything she or the OWife did or didn’t do”?

        I see that that is his explanation as to why DGS’s cheater thinks she should be more accommodating…

        Just wondering if I’m reading that wrong.

        • The part where Annoyed said
          “You realize he cheated on her because there is NO ONE in his life, include YOU, who has had the balls to call him out on his despicable ways.”
          Is what’s being referred to. I would agree it’s putting the blame on OP

          • Ok. Sometimes I find it difficult to follow all the responses. I was actually looking at another conversation.

            Thanks.

    • Yeah, quite a cognitive dissonance in this letter.

      Staying friends with a cheater for children’s sake is another RIC-fueled imposition. All it does is stripping the non-cheater parent of their children’s respect when they become adults. It shows mom/dad can be footballed around and are expected to be nice to everybody no matter what. Children (who are manipulators in early childhood) sense this right away and we unfortunately don’t serve them with the right lesson: mischief – consequence.

      Plus, I don’t believe that cheaters somehow transform into excellent dads/moms or better future partners because character does not change.

      To Terri: I have been trying to put some sense into my newly chumped friend’s mind who thinks her husband’s emotional (that’s what she knows) affair was a one-off and had ended. I have known her before we both got married and witnessed their entire 15 year marriage and know he is one big emotional and physical abuser, heavy drinker and an entitled pompous ass. But she continues to live in denial (as I also did for a while) and is in a heavy pick-me-dancing mode throwing all her earnings to new clothing, mani-pedis, etc to seduce her husband back. While you threw your cheater away and I admire you for that mightiness, I see you are still in denial of what he is and what the new wifetress is. I wish there was some magic pill for us to take to get the fog cleared. Yours has been on for over 10 years, please snap out of it. ((hugs))

      • I got that from the counselor dude who was part of our mediation team during the divorce. He tried to tell me that I should encourage the kids to have a relationship for Schmoopie for their sakes. For once I stood my ground and let him and ex know that wasn’t ever going to happen and that wasn’t my job. I told them the closest I would come would be to ignore her existence as much as I could and let the kids form their own bonds or not with her as they saw fit. They chose not. I am sure ex thinks that’s all my fault. Whatever. If we weren’t divorcing over infidelity and he found a new girlfriend months after we were divorced that advice might make some sense but under the circumstances I felt that it was rather absurd for anybody to suggest such a thing. He’s damn lucky I was still encouraging them to have a relationship with their Dad.

        • Chumpinrecovery, I am not actively encouraging a relationship with Dad. But dad is not around most of the time, so this is the difference. He thinks that a dad spending 2-3 weeks at a time for 2-3 times a year (mostly around holidays) is enough to raise a healthy human being. He feeds my son with tales that he is overly busy (scratching his balls perhaps) and also due to time difference they can’t speak more often. When we were still “together” it was me literally forcing my son to skype with dad, which almost always ended with a few anticipated questions around school and activities and 5 min later they had nothing to talk about. Most of the time my son would just blabber about his pokemon cards while his dad was actually reading something on global economy on the net with occasional “ah-huh” to acknowledge that he was still there.

          So now it’s all about sparkly-dadding. DS spent the Christmas break with him and came home all excited with stories of horse and camel riding, overnight desert trips and scuba diving. This summer they are going to France for 3 weeks. I am only happy for my DS although still angry for me being away from him.

          I, on the other hand, am around during school days, activities, homework, outings with friends, but also spending very meaningful vacations with DS on my own. I know he gets the best of the two worlds being pampered, but even with his sparkly dad he feels secure and at home with me.

          So what’s the point of encouraging a relationship? I had to pay 800$ for DS’s black belt testing and emailed stbx about the expense. He responded two weeks later saying that he was too busy and did not check the email for 2 weeks. What kind of a parent are you when you have a child leaving across the ocean and don’t even bother to check your email for 2 weeks. Granted, I could have whatsapp’ed him but I chose not to. I prefer to have all the communication stored in my mailbox.

          When DS asked if he could go to the black belt test I told him that since I have not heard from his dad for 2 weeks (!) we had to postpone the date of the test by a couple of months. While I am prepared to fully shoulder this expense and all the expenses related to raising my son, I want to demystify in his eyes how “greatly responsible” his dad is.

          • Aw.. LongTimeChump, as mom to a junior black belt I feel really bad for your son! Sounds like he paid the price (not getting his blackbelt) for his Dad’s bad behavior.

            It might be just that this hits too close to home for me, since my son’s dojang has been a rock of stability for him during a time of family turmoil. His grandmaster and junior masters are the male role models my son needs so badly right now.

            • Wobble, my son is not really into this sport so I don’t feel that bad. I keep pushing him to practice. Now this delay was also a good opportunity for him to up his act and try it in April. It’s not that far. And like I said, I would pay for it anyway (as I do for his coding, ski’ing and int’l language school classes), just wanted to give this opportunity for son to also see this for himself. I’ve got this, don’t you worry:) We are off to disney world in a couple of days! I had to put my foot down for this spring break being with me.

    • I personally believe that “forgiveness” is highly overrated. My belief is based upon my own experience, which I will not bore everyone with here. I will point out that forgiveness is typically sought for those who do not deserve it. Look what happened when one of Micheal Jackson’s victims “forgave” him and, as a result, testified that he had never been abused. Justice went out the window.

      Kesha (my guiding star for standing up to her rapist music producer) sings it best,”Sometimes you get what you give, but there are some things only God can forgive.” If this makes me a bitter bunny, I’m cool with that label. Some conduct is unforgivable.

      I know, I know, failure to forgive is going to “poison” my soul. Again, no problem; just call me The Acid Queen, just like another of my heros, Tina Turner. Think she ever forgave Ike? I could go on and on (Roni of Roni and the Ronettes, who had to escape from Phil Spector…who later murdered a woman in his home.

      Fuck forgiveness. I will take the revenge of living well to keep me warm at night… and justice, I’m real big on justice.

      • Violet, I had to really think about how to forgive the STBX. I didn’t want to be bitter and I’m a Christian so had to work things out. I realised that I can understand why he did those things, i.e. his immaturity, entitlement etc, and refuse to excuse them, but still be civil to him, be polite, but make it clear that I don’t want to be around him. We are all taught ‘forgive and forget’ but I disagree. The bible says ‘gentle as doves but wise as serpents’ and thats where I am – I don’t harbour resentment, I don’t bad mouth him and don’t talk about his affair unless someone asks me (my truth, I can tell it) but I won’t have anything to do with him except for co-operating in co-parenting our teens. That’s what forgiveness looks like to me.

        • I totally agree with you, AFKAC. I’m not religious but still felt the societal pressure to forgive, and have had nosy people outright asking me if I’ve done that for the good of my soul. I felt like telling them to ask my ex if he has repented of lust, deceit, theft or adultery.
          I think aiming for ambivalence (meh) is the best equivalent… I don’t like what he did and we we can never restore our friendship, but I don’t dwell on it or give him anymore headspace than necessary.

    • I have to ask — what are you teaching your daughters? It’s ok to cheat and your partner will continue a very messed up pick me dance? I don’t believe you have the relationship with you ex and his wife totally for your daughters. It’s for you. You still matter to him, see what good friends you are? She likes you….see you have value she picked you for the dance too.

      You need to cut all ties with your ex and his wife. Get some serious therapy to see why you are willing to put up with so little.

      You are worth this work, you….yes you matter. Go teach your daughters what appropriate boundaries look like, and that it’s ok to have them.

      I’m sorry to be so blunt, I want to support your getting healthy. You found CN and Chump Lady so use us for support. And know we ALL have done stupid things….if I told you some of mine you’d say ‘oh no you didn’t ‘

      Take care

  • This relationship he had with her was built on lies and deceit. That’s how it ended. There is nothing good about him. He may be the father of your children but he has done no work on himself. Stop believing he can be any different than who he is. Maybe when he ends up old and alone it will dawn on him.
    Is he the kind of man you would want your daughters to get involved with?

    • Precisely! How can a man raise daughters and still be able to cheat?!

      I get not wanting kids to see this and go through divorce a second time. I think ultimately, Terri, you are trying to shield your kids from seeing who their father actually is, just as you’ve tried to protect yourself all these years. The truth always outs.

      You’ve put the “he’s now a good guy” spin so that your girls have the father you wish they had. But it’s not true, and he clearly is not up to the task of living up to that hope.

      • It sounds like she’s the impression management queen when it comes to painting a picture for her daughters.

        Now she’s been handed a hot turd that totally contradicts the picture she’s been painting for all this time. Daddy is wonderful. OW is wonderful. The truth under all that varnish s something else.

        It’s time to have a sit down with her daughters and tell them what’s under all that varnish. They’re old enough to understand. Start with the truth why she threw daddy out in the first place. He was fucking strange and that’s not what a loving husband does.

        Now he’s doing it again.

        Anything less and her daughters are going to be totally confused and fucked up themselves.

  • Yikes! I have no words to describe how crazy this letter is, and I normally have too many words. She needs therapy almost as much as this disgusting cheater does. This is one if the most disturbing letters I’ve ever seen on here. 😱

  • Sounds to me like your children are the right age to learn some lessons about self-esteem/self-respect and consequences.

    Do you really want another person to knowingly stay in an abusive relationship? Let’s say instead of fucking around with people behind her back and jeopardizing her health, he was coming home at night and hitting her. Would you tell her to leave then? What if he was lying to her and trying to make her think she was crazy to be paranoid and suspicious (gaslighting) and it was causing depression in her, would you tell her to stay?

    When Mr. Sparkles blew up our family, my son was 9 and the stepchildren living with us were 18 and 17. I explained to my 9yo that Daddy got a girlfriend while we were on our family vacation and that married people shouldn’t do that – teaching him consequences. My stepkids were gaslighted by their Dad – “we just fell out of love”… luckily, they were on to him and knew he was cheating on me (think of the mindfuck they had to sort through on that one – thanks, Dad.) Flash forward four years, the OW broke up with my X because he cheated on her… he lives with a new GF on whom he is also cheating (Ashley Madison). My son understands the truth and doesn’t get too connected to these women because he knows who his Dad is (from a lack of character perspective).

    Step back from this shit show… it isn’t yours. Go no contact with your X except to co-parent and suggest the “OW” find this site… hell, give her a copy of Tracy’s book. And then sit down with your kids and have a real honest and age appropriate conversation about what is going on and basically morality. In the long run, they’ll value that more that being taught to be chumps.

    • ”… suggest the “OW” find this site… hell, give her a copy of Tracy’s book. ”

      WTF !!??

      No, no, no.

      The last thing we need on CN is some whore coming here and whining. The cunt got what she deserved ! She was happy to be complicit in breaking up Terris marriage, the karma bus made a stop.

      This letter just **horrifies** me.

  • Do you think your kids don’t know what kind of a guy he is? He’s not a good example of the kind of man you want them to expect is the norm but by ignoring the obvious (that he’s a selfish bastard) you are allowing them to grow up thinking this is what a relationship should be like.
    They are old enough to be figuring out what’s going on so step back from this hot mess and have some real conversations with your kids. Then, like CL says, do you – away from this train wreck!

    • I read something somewhere that stuck.

      It was that I don’t have the power to forgive someone else for what they have done – that’s their own deal.

      I can only forgive myself for only knowing what I knew at the time.

      • This: I can only forgive myself for only knowing what I knew at the time.

        I still get this “accusation” from some friends and family. They can’t understand how I “did not know all that time” because in the last few years of our marriage we had been living in two different countries (his work related choice) and seeing each other infrequently and, hence, I had to assume that a lonely man would cheat. That’s just a matter of fact. I used to beat myself over this “lack of woman intuition” and felt my friends were much more mature than me. Then I learned that what I had found out wrt his affair was only the tip of the iceberg and his cheating was all through our marriage even during the years we lived together. From our first year of marriage, to be precise, when I still felt loved and cherished he had on and off rendez-vous during his “business trips” – he was a great actor.

        CL helped put this in perspective. I was also frustrated and lonely with our long-distance situation and raising our son all alone. I wanted my husband to be with us, which he had promised at first but then kept postponing his decision to move back and blaming me for not being understanding and supportive. I also yearned for the attention. But I did not cheat. He did, and it’s on him.

        • Exactly. You were also lonely and frustrated by the long distance relationship that he kept extending. Women like to get laid too, but you didn’t go off seeking strange dick over it because you knew that would be wrong.

          • Exactly this, Chumpinrecovery and LongTimeChump. Fuckup and I were also distance for years. After the cheating was revealed, some people were all side-eye about how I could have been stupid enough to trust him not to get bored or lonely and start shagging strange. But I WAS LONG DISTANCE TOO, AND I DIDN’T CHEAT! The only forgiveness we owe is to ourselves for misjudging their moral character (and for spackling over red flags that might have changed that mistaken judgement!)

    • Totally! The Jews don’t have to forgive Hilter and we don’t have to forgive the monsters who crushed our hopes and dreams, abused us, lied to us, humiliated us, gave us STDs, stole our innocence and wasted our lives. I’m still trying to recover from PTSD because of the emotional abuse my cheater doled out. I tried to commit suicide by throwing myself in front of a bus. I’m not the only one here who tried to end his or her life over what these scum did to us. We should forgive? Fuck that noise. Anyone who can forgive that has the instincts of a doormat.

  • Hey CN! This is ConfusedChump from 2 weeks ago. Wow. This blog blessed me so much. I, too, have been trying to be overly accepting of OW. I really thought it was for my daughter’s sake. Now I know that I can co-exist and be cordial without being besties. Sigh. Us chumps just can’t let the chumpiness go. The day has come to say F’You! Deal with your crap on your own.

    • Not even cordial, Confused! Just be civil. Don’t curse your ex or OW in front of your kids but also don’t cover up their deeds. If they ask (and they will) don’t try to pretend that all is well and we are all friends. We are not “friends”, we are “adults” who can deal with any situation with responsibility and commitment it takes, but we don’t need to “respect” cheating parents. I tell my son “your father had lost my respect and hence I can’t be friends with him”. I get “why can’t we go to places together, spend some vacation time travelling together, etc” and my determination is unwavering. Your father hurt me by cheating, I don’t respect him, and I don’t like to spend my time in the company of people I don’t respect. Period.

      I am not a psychologist, but I truly think that by being cordial, friendly, exchanging jokes, being in dinners and parties with cheaters and the OPs we suppress the natural development of the gut feeling in our kids. They know deep down that what had happened was wrong. Of course they want to forget what happened and go on living as if nothing bad happened – that’s what my 11yo DS tells me all the time. They want to wake up one day and realize it was all a scary dream. So when we continue this “friendship and cordial relationship” we perpetuate the dream, not the reality, for our children. And then we help our kids to live in constant denial instead of teaching them valuable life lessons of respect and consequences. Please chime in, experts.

      • LTChump, I’m not an expert but your response is spot-on in my view.
        Age appropriate talk…but, always the truth.

        That’s one things us chumps have….we cannot lie and hold it in, like a cheater.
        Full disclosure.

      • I agree completely agree with you LTC. Suppressing the gut feeling indeed. Suppressing the development of intuition and boundaries. Eventually children learn the truth anyway and then they have to process the fact that the persons they trusted the most lied to them for years.
        I can speak from a child’s perspective too. Until I was 11, all I was told was that my father had died when I was a baby. In fact, my mother was the AP, and got dumped by my cheating father when I was a baby. He was alive and well, living in the same town, and had cheated again (probably never stopped) and sired another kid with another AP. Eventually there were a couple more.
        Surrounded by lies and secrets, that was my childhood. Then from 11 I was told “the truth” but not supposed to tell anyone. All to protect the adults who put me in this situation in the first place by having an affair.

  • It would make more sense if she wanted them to stay together because two cheaters deserve one another.

    Huh. My earlier reply is still in the ether or my internet is squirrelly today.

    • JWH, I want skankboy to stay with the whore so he doesn’t try to come sniffing around in my world! He deserves the narc/borderline….birds of a feather and all that jazz!

      • ^^^SAME!!^^^

        i want wasband to stay with the neighborhood methhead troll because she keeps him away from me and the boys. she doesnt want him talking to me (which rolls onto the boys too) and she throws a fit if he tries to come visit the boys. And with him chosing HER and her wishes, my boys truely see what a piece of shit their dad really is.. .

        i dont want him around my boys, teaching them by example with his bad behavior, endless poor decisions and acting like a victim. *its NEVER his fault.. ..blah blah. .. i was going to say that he was “better” when he was with me but the truth is that he only HID it better when he was with me. he was still using meth, i just never noticed and/or saw it. he was still lying, stealing and cheating, i just never knew. he was still selfish and did what he wanted, he just pretended to care about me and the children. .. . until he just couldnt keep up the act. ..

        i remember my then 4 year old telling me that “daddy said not to tell mommy” and how daddy would tell my littles “what mommy doesnt know wont hurt her”.. .. THIS IS NOT what i want my boys to learn. so the longer he stays away from my boys, the better it is for them. PLUS the easier it is for me. i dont have to put up with his and his trolls disrespect and hate, nor do i have to make excuses for him. i do not have to watch the light go out in my boys life when daddy does not make another visitation, or does not keep another promise. (THAT is super painful). i do not have to deprogram the toxic behaviors my boys would learn from watching wasband and the troll.. .. or deal with 2 angry frustrated and disappointed teenagers. **interesting note: HER 4 kids are all super messed up. the 3 boys are 15, 19, 22 and are ALL 3 currently in jail. her youngest girl is 14 and she is somewhat ok just very promiscuous. i wouldnt be surprised if she gets knocked up soon. All 4 smoke weed and her boys all have done meth. apparently SHE would give them weed and teach them how to roll joints and blunts. so a SHINY example what would have been in store for my boys had i went the “lets be friends” route.

        as long as he stays with her he is not allowed (by her) to talk or visit his boys. he only comes around once a year when they have “broken up”.. .. and he remembers he has children. For the past 5 years, although i have heard rumors that they are broken up for good this time since nov. he hasnt called or stopped by so i am guess he is working on a new troll. My boys are now 13 and 17 and almost grown. we have peace and happiness.

        • i want wasband to stay with the neighborhood methhead troll because she keeps him away from me and the boys.

          ^^^YES!!^^^

  • My god, wow! I hope she reads your response CL-she needs to get a life and some therapy of her own. Good grief!

    • Nothing wrong with WANTING your ex to stay with his wife and to be a good father for your kids.. .. . But she most definitely has crossed that line. It is not her job to talk to the current wife or advocate for the ex. or make excuses for him. .. . she needs to stand back, let him and current wife deal with this their own way and without any interference from her and focus on teaching her children what is wrong and right, good and bad decisions and consequences as well as standards and boundaries. .

  • Sometimes, it’s easier to be a Sunny Susan than do the hard work of accepting you’ve been rolling with assholes for the past decade.

    Terri- this is too much work. Let go. F*ck them.

    You remind me on the women in the film American Beauty- the mothers…. white knuckling through life.

    Frantically show horning a messy imperfect shitty situation into a Nate Berkus stylized brunch.

    Let them stand or fall. Use cool/bummer/wow as much as possible- even with your girls if they want to analyze why Daddy blows up lives over dick.

    You can’t fix this. Please get a new focus. You are wasting your value on shitheads.

    • Thank you for your response. Really makes me think about what I need to start doing differently.

  • And……I thought I deserved the Oscar for “Most Fuckedupness Relationship Ever.”

    Looks like the traveling trophy is headed to another mantle.

    I lived in a car for 6 months, but at least I chose to finally break away from this kind of mental bullshit.

    Go Be You.

  • She most likely knew she was the “other” woman all those years ago? She was kissing daddy in front of your two year old. You really believe she had no clue?

    Hey I want my ex to stay married to the Owifetress too. Not because I care about his happiness or hers but rather because cheaters deserve to be with other cheaters. Of course I’ll never know if they stay or split because I’ve had ZERO contact with him for over 5 years now.

    You still have minor children. Invest in Our Family Wizard and keep your communication on that medium and only about child related things. I would also suggest some serious therapy for you and maybe your children too.

    There is a huge difference between civility and being a doormat. Learn the difference and embrace it!

  • This is a great example of why it’s not enough to just NOT BE WITH the Cheater… you have to – HAVE TO – fix your picker! Otherwise, you’re still a Chump; you’re just a Chump Without A Cheater.

    • And I do NOT mean fixing your picker for romantic partners; I mean fix your picker. Because it’s broken. With a broken picker, you take bullshit you shouldn’t take. You apologize, of your own volition, for other people’s horrific behavior. You have bad boundaries or a scarce few. You aren’t as YOU as you should be. You’re too accommodating. People push and get away with it. You feel badly for saying no instead of letting other people know they should feel badly for asking you for something inappropriate in the first place.

      Fix your picker and the results will shine. Your picker will filter out all but the very best and truest friends, relatives, lovers, employers, and clients. And for those people you can’t avoid, your picker will filter out their effects on you. And you’ll feel guilt about none of it.

  • She found out that ‘If They Do It With You They Will Do It To You’. boo hoo

    Next you will be pressured to reconcile with this ‘poor man’ who just happens to be capable of deceiving those he purports to love.

    You allow them both to glory as super parents. When the reality is that both of them conspired to destroy your kid’s family. Relationships that are built on evil tend to implode.

    Don’t give him the honour of being his confidante. He plays the befuddled fool and you buy it.

  • Oh dear no. Terri please put down the codependency and walk away.
    He sucks, she sucks, and your daughters should know that cheating has consequences.

  • There are times when optimism is nothing more than poison which keeps you from seeing the truth

    “but I know he is a better man than he has shown lately”. <—This sort of thinking got me stuck for YEARS

    He is NOT a better man, he is a shitty man who appeases people just long enough to hide some of his shitiness and he doesnt care about his kids or he would have learned the first time.

    I cant get past the "loving" the former OW…10 years to get here…Hell, nowdeadcheater was boinking Susan of Seattle 14 years ago and I might still accost her in an airport if I ever see her.

    Terri, we dont wish to be mean to you, we want what is best for you which is NOT you running interference on Cheaters misdeeds anymore.

    • Worry not, I wont ACTUALLY accost Susan, but I would certainly not wish her well and pretend like it was all OK…I would (as I have shared here) probably tell her that she was the love of his life and it is a shame he died so she couldnt be with him. That would mindfuck her for a few years, I hope

      • No reason to be ashamed of wanting to accost her. I admit I’d probably vigorously bitch slap the whore who helped destroy my life. This despicable narcopath, even though she didn’t want to keep him herself and wouldn’t leave her husband, actually advised my husband to leave his family, which includes a physically disabled and mentally ill daughter. I can only conclude she did it just to be an evil homewrecking bitch. I stay out of her end of town for that reason. I don’t want to run into her and be tempted to beat her to a pulp.

    • Agree with UNM – and would add that all this Fantasy Blended Family is NOT what’s best for kids.

      In fact, modeling poor boundaries and delusion is actually BAD for kids.

      Of any age.

    • There are times when optimism is nothing more than poison which keeps you from seeing the truth.

      Sigh. Raising hand here.

    • Oh Uni, your opening line!! I’m going to print this out to keep. Always wanting to be the optimist to his pessimism kept me stuck for years as well. Being the bigger person—-yep, wasted a few decades. Then there was the spiritual torture of the famous “love verse” in Corinthians about love believing and hoping all things… three decades of my life wasted on a lying, cheating, selfish man who never deserved the beautiful home life and family I gave him. My own optimism, love, and trust did indeed keep me blinded to the truth.

      I am so grateful for the support and truth that gets dished up here daily. Keep on being mighty. You’ve earned every bit of that awesomeness.

    • Why not get in a relationship with the OW? (she says sarcastically, lol)

      That’d show him!

      No, you don’t want his rejects either but could stay pals with her….

      Why do we have to be the decent ones and they can do what they like with. O regard for others!?

  • Wow. That was the most fucked up letter I’ve ever read here and since I’ve been reading this blog almost from the beginning, that’s saying something! Sounds like Terri’s been drinking Gwenyth’s conscious uncoupling brew. Only she’s NOT uncoupled. She’s got a very unhealthy menage a trios going with her cheater and the OWife. It’s a veritable love fest of Terri loving everyone and everyone else in the triangle loving someone who is not Terri.

    Who is loving you, Terri? Who in your crazy, fucked up love triangle is taking care of YOU and loving you? Not your cheater. Not the Owife. And this is the saddest part, not you either. Who is meeting your needs Terri? No one. Not even yourself. You need to change that. Get yourself and your kids to a good trauma therapist ASAP. Learn how to set appropriate boundaries for yourself. STOP WIFING FOR YOUR EX AND HIS OWIFE!!!! Let them clean up their own messes. Make them adult for themselves. You take care of you and your girls. You and your girls deserve your full attention, the other two do not.

    • Beth – I realize I do need therapy. I went from thinking I was doing the right thing to knowing how F’d up I am in a span of a few hours. I have a lot of life ahead of me so better start working on this… Thank you for your thoughts.

      • OP, I do hope you sense the love and support waiting here for you even though you might feel them as 2×4’s right now. We call them clue by fours. The trauma of cheating does a number on your heart and mind. It may be you also had a FOO who trained you to accept abuse as normal. I’m thrilled to read that you recognize your unhealthy thinking and are going to be getting help and support for yourself and your daughters. You sound like you’re coming out of a thick fog. Hugs to you. You deserve so much better. I hope you will see your own worth, and his unworthiness.

      • Best of luck to you Terri! I know a lot of what you’re reading is probably hard to take, my post included, but I hope you’ll consider it a firm but well meaning shove onto the path to the lovely land of Meh.

      • Terri, I totally understand where you were coming from and why you thought you were doing the right thing. You thought you were putting your children first, wanting them to have a great relationship with their Dad, and wanting them to have stability in their lives. I get it. I respect it, in theory. But now you see that, at least now that he has cheated AGAIN, you can’t make him someone he is not. Whether you “love” his OW-turned-wife doesn’t matter, you can’t get involved in their relationship. I loved the suggestion that you give her Tracy’s book, if you really care about her. As for your kids, you’ve done your best every day for YEARS. You will keep being the sane parent, the role model, but you can’t protext them from their Dad’s unacceptable behavior. Hang in there. Those kids are lucky to have you and they can handle the truth with your support.

  • OH WOW CHUMP LADY!! Your response to this letter breaks it down for all types and levels of Chumpiness!
    Even the Chumpy “good person” myth is not safe, and we need to see it.
    Damn the way you fire up the CHUMP LADY CHAINSAW and slice right through the crap even the most stubborn BS!! This is why you are still irreplaceable after all these years (for me, following since the start of this site). We all have that tinge of Chumpiness deep inside that still needs to be rooted out and brought to the light of day. Great, great, insightful response. Thank You.

    • This sounds like a great CL cartoon! It slices and dices and cuts its way through even the toughest BS! No rotten cheater filth can withstand its power.

  • This letter, my good god. I know I probably sounded super codependent playing the pick me dance early on, but this takes the cake. I was hoping and praying I wasnt the only one going “W.T.F” through the whole thing. Thank you for breaking it down, CL, and Terri, out of love, PLEASE go to therapy. Please. When you look back on this time years from now with clear eyes, you’ll understand all of our horrified comments.

  • This is none of your business. I highly recommend you read Codependant No More. You have a some serious control issues. You need to take a very big step back and examine your life and the choices you are making.

    I say this as someone who probably could have written your letter before reading that book and therapy. So I do have some empathy for you and I can understand how you ended up where you are, but holy fuck!!!

    Bluntly put, you are doing no one any favors. Least of all your children. You are modeling appalling behavior to your poor poor children, who will def grow up to be Chumps at this point.

    I hope your exes wife leaves him and goes on to live her best life. This is one fucked up situation and she seems to have the best chance of making it out. Why the fuck anyone would try to talk someone into staying with a cheater is beyond me, let alone someone who also cheated on them. So. Fucked. Up.

    • Maybe she is really just afraid he will hoover back to her if the wifetress leaves him. It’s ok, Terri, you still don’t have to take him back.

      • Right now Terri is the one hoovering over them. Perhaps this is the reason why she hasn’t found herself another man – too invested in this pick me dance relationship. Anyway, all the best, Terri.

    • Unkwowing – My thoughts exactly. Codependent No More…this letter is classic care-taking to the extreme in order to try to control the outcome.

      Terri – Listen to CL. Get out of your ex husband’s head and his business. This is his business and you are kidding yourself if you think you somehow have a part to play just because this guy is the father of your girls. Why are you inserting yourself into you ex’s personal life? Why are you sticking up for the OWife? It is not your place to do so, and the only logical reason you are doing it is out of some misguided notion that you are still relevant in you ex’s life.

      Get out and deal with your own dysfunction. Let the other dysfunctionals deal with their own shit. Will your daughter’s be saddened by the change in their lives? Yes. So be a supportive mom to them only. Use this opportunity to teach your daughters about good character and the injury that cheating causes. Let them learn extremely valuable life lessons from what they are witnessing. Your job as a good parent is to equip your children with all the tools they need to function well in the world, not to create false realities about who the people in their lives truly are. How are your girls to learn how to decipher good from bad if you shield them from bad? How are your girls to learn the importance of accountability in the face of natural consequences that stem from poor moral decisions if they don’t see it play out in their lives?

      I absolutely love CL’s call out of the false positivity narrative. It’s also poor parenting and hugely enabling of our children’s learned helplessness. I work in education and I am seeing that absolute fall-out from kids being shielded from anything “bad”. They have no instincts for detecting danger because the instinct battles with the narrative that we are supposed to believe only good things about others. They have no coping skills when things go wrong because they somehow came to believe that bad things couldn’t possibly happen to them. And, they are hugely sensitive to every perceived social slight because, God forbid, someone doesn’t like you or ignored you or didn’t acknowledge you enough.

      I am a very positive person, but in the words of President JFK “I am an idealist without illusions.” I will no longer allow myself to be naive.

      Terri, do not teach your girls to become naive women more concerned with being “nice” rather than having the assertiveness to stand for what is right. It starts with you. Get out of the OW’s business. Get out of your ex’s business. If your girls come home upset, then use the opportunity to talk about the devastation of infidelity and then have a conversation with your ex about his responsibility in ensuring that he and his OWife are being careful in what they are exposing the girls to. The girls don’t need to be observing these two adults hashing things out in front of them. If they can’t control themselves, then maybe the girls need to stay home with you in the meantime.

      Stop helicoptering.

  • “. . . but I think she now knows that she was most likely the “other” woman all those years ago.”

    Terri, you’ve got to be kidding me.

    You are like “sister-wives” and everything, and you’ve never once had the “remember that time you fucked my husband” conversation? I really don’t get it.

    • Right.
      I read one comment earlier here where somebody said that she should but the current wife Tracy’s book and direct her here and I was like…wtf??
      She’s a cheater y’all.
      When she was “kissing daddy in front of the two year old” where did current cheated on wife think that child cane from??
      Yeah….she didn’t know he was married, give me a break.
      Don’t give her Tracy’s book, don’t send her here.
      She’s a cheater, she got what she deserved. We can’t sit here and preach that these people have a zero percent chance at a successful relationship because they are both morally bankrupt then take pity on this woman when the thing we knew was going to happen actually happened.
      My ex left me for mistress number 4. Mistress number 4 knows she’s mistress number 4. Mistress number 4 knows she blew up my family and knows (as fucked up ad it was ) that I was invested in my marriage cause I was still there after mistresses 1-3!!!! If her world blows up you can bet your ass I won’t be drinking cosmos and doing therapy with her while she cries and we will suddenly be united in our victim-ness.
      She can crawl back under her rock. Zero pity.
      Terri, go be the best you. It’s time to break up with them both.

        • And what I want right now is a bunch of super mighty hilarious Chumps to have a cocktail with. That would make my day just about perfect.

      • I will admit that I have considered sending Schmoopie and ex a copy of Tracy’s book if they are ever foolish enough to get married as a not so subtle dig. I probably wouldn’t actually do it but it is fun to fantasize

  • Woooow…. that letter is stressing me out! What a messed up life this woman has created for herself. Seems like she never let go or got over her ex and decided that if the only way she could be part of his life was to accept what he did and bff the other woman that’s what she was going to do…. for the children, I call bs. Terri get your own life and stop living vicariously through your ex cheaters other woman now wife! It’s called karma. She was bound to get it eventually. Now take the advice of chump lady and everyone else! Get your own life and stay out of their messed up bs! It’s just not your concern! Just a question where were your friends to tell you to move on with your life and stop the bs with your ex and other woman? Geesh

  • “Aaaaiiight. Enough of the shock and awe, I think Terri gets it by now. 🙂

    The advice that has been given for the writer to kindly remove herself from the triangle that is her x husband, his wife is spot on.

    — Terri, there is no future in it for you. I am the last person to call out a chump, especially one who had tiny children to worry about, but your over involvement in his current life is NOT healthy.

    — The fact you are advocating for your piece of shit x to his new chump is downright manipulative.

    • I mean, you chose to “graciously uncouple” in your own manner when it was you. It’s not you, this time. Be thankful. Let his new chump make her own decisions.

  • (I feel like I repeat my stories, but for the new chump)

    I don’t come from a family with a lot of divorce. So, as I grew up and as it became a likely possibility in my own life, I admired how often women of broken marriages worked together across emotional borders to get the kids through life.

    I get Terri’s hard work to reach across, call a truce and put the kids first. In a way, she and every single parent who does this deserves a lot of praise.

    Even as my X declared she wanted a D, thats how I pictured us moving forward; for the kids. But THEN I found out about the AP and that changed everything.

    My friend consciously-uncoupled and for 6 years they worked together to raise their child together but separately. Occasional dinners together, events, etc.. Everything was working out great until his X lost her marbles and she came back after him legally in an effort to stay connected. They never really broke up, she was really still stuck.

    My X’s AP caused me to build high border walls. Walls that would make trump jealous. And I haven’t seen my X or spent time with her in any capacity in 8 months or so. Sure, I’ll see her at DS’s / DD’s activities this spring/summer. I’ll see her now and then, but I’m not looking for opportunities.

    We’ve broken up. Done. Yesterday’s news. She joins the list of gals of college and high school, some of whom I do not remember their name. And I’m all the better for it.

    No contact and grey rock are not only to protect a wounded heart, they are to move you the f* on with your life and get the new one going.

  • Terri-

    Ignore all the self righteous screechers- defining you as the most fucked up person they have ever read about.

    I did things in the aftermath of the cheater that resulted in two detectives showing up at my house.😂 I can laugh now….

    And I’ll bet a truckload of doughnuts these clowns have done some cringe inducing shit in the wake of learning your whole life’s a lie.

    Many of these people do not understand that there are certain individuals who have a higher tolerance for cheating. I’m not saying they accept it.

    I’m saying that it happens and their whole lives don’t go to shambles. I wish I was one of these people. Sadly I am not.

    But there are millions of people who accept cheating just as they would say- the roof leaking or the car transmission giving up. The people on here- and I am including myself- see it is a moral outrage. You are not one of those people.

    But here’s the problem: you would have more success herding 1 million cats into a soccer stadium then you will to control the actions of other people.

    Your ex has been and is a liar and a cheat. He moves onto new pussy because he wants to. You have no control over him.

    The other woman he married can reap the consequences of getting involved with a cheater. I do think you need to set up some self protection guards: Why are you concerned about the well-being of a woman who was not concerned about yours?

    We have such a short amount of time on earth. You have to find a new focus for your energy and worry.

    You have gotten off the path of logical thinking. You just took a different route than anger. You took the route of extreme denial and benevolence.

    They are not your family. They are not your friends. Go find a tribe that worries how YOU- reciprocal!

    🎈👍❤️

    • wow. and in the end of your spew you still ended up giving her the same advice as all us self rightous screechers and clowns gave her.. ..

      personally, i have not read any comment defining her as fucked up just concerned people who understand and are concerned since they have all gone thru the same thing in some shape or form.

      my comments are from MY own experience, i would never try to speak for another person. i am hoping by sharing MY experience and my OPINION that the readers and the OP will gain some understanding and peace of mind. for some reason your comment offends me.

      • @Tempest @Chumplady

        Can we kick this assclown of a troll off the site, please? Calling Mrs. Vain a “dumb boring cunt” in addition to the rest of abuse their original response laid on Chumps in general, is over the line.

        Thanks.

        • Mmm….Bhodi kind of makes a good point here. People on here seem to be tearing the letter writer apart. I mean, really. I’ve noticed a lot of vicious people on this site lately, much more so than when it first started. I’ve had my head ripped off a few times just for saying something off the cuff that shouldn’t have offended anyone. Since when is it okay to tear people apart instead of offering constructive opinions? Is this what we have come to with the new politicians in office??

          • Yes, I’ve read the posts painting Terri as the worst thing since white breadand think Fuck,
            better not write anything too chumpy else I get my head ripped off.
            “Terri”
            May be misdirected and a codependent but she’s no cheater. She’s a chump. Where’s the solidarity?

            Thanks Bhodi for a breath of kickass.

            • No kidding, I was thinking the same thing Langele, everyone tearing poor Terri a new one for writing a letter asking advice. Good lord, remind me to never write a letter asking for any kind of advice. Jeeze-oh-hell-oh-bells. Lighten up folks. Who licked the red off your candy today?

            • Eh, it’s not the chumpiness that’s setting people off. It’s the manipulation. The LW admits to trying to convince the OWife to stay because that’s what she wanted for her children. This is the sort of behavior you should run from. Intent be damned, it’s using another human being for your own ends and it’s wrong. That’s why people are freaking out.

              Nothing else to add here really. Manipulation is wrong for chumps and cheaters.

        • wait.. .. what? she was calling ME a dumb cunt? because i dont agree with her comment?!?!?!? hahaha

          i find that as hilarious as her calling us all clowns and self righteous screechers. .. ..

          as i said before, i did not read any comments that were attacking the letter writer or say she was fucked up. maybe i just read the comments differently. what i saw was a bunch of people encouraging her to get out of the situation. and to set some boundaries.. ..

          i am not worried about what this bhodi blooms thinks of me. i dont know her. i find it disrespectful to call people names and speak for others, which is why i usually put “in my opinion” or “personally”.. .. whatever floats her boat. Bhodi thinks she was kind.. .. and did not appreciate my comment on her opinion… *shrugs lifes goes on. and i am thankful i dont have people like Bhodi around me. I wish Terri the best.

          • If you read bhodi carefully you’ll see that she included herself among the people who are morally outraged by cheating. That’s why her advice was pretty much the same as everybody else’s, as you pointed out. Also, we’re too harsh on Terri. Calling you names was very wrong though.

      • Wow – nice Bhodi. I’m willing to take it for being a chump, but I DO LOVE MY GIRLS!! I don’t think you love anyone with so much hate and anger in your heart.

        • Meant to say they love anyone with so much hate and anger in their hearts… Thanks for sticking up for us CHUMPS (ha).

        • personally i totally understand where you were. You were trying to do what you thought was best for your girls. you went over and beyond to make sure your children had their father in their life and you are AMAZING.. ..

          i was at that point also when i first divorced. i wanted so badly for wasband to be in my kids life i put up with so much disrespect from him and his girlfriend. i did not realize that i was showing my children that it was ok to treat mom with direspect and hate. . .. in my case, i was lucky that wasband’s girlfriend would not allow wasband to talk to me or visit the children since i was around. even when i wasnt around she gave him a hard about it so he just quit doing anything. the kids see him maybe one a year .. ..in the past 5 years.

          during that time i really had to retrain my thinking. i did not want my children to think that cheating, lying and hiding was the right thing to do. i did not want my children to treat people the way my ex treats people just to get what they want. i did not want my kids to think that drinking and using drug is a good way to live.. .. and therefore, it was a hard lesson for me to realize my ex WAS NOT a good example for my children.

          i still did not say anything bad against their dad. i only started teaching my kids about consequences, good vs bad decisions and how each individual was responsible for the chooses they make. i taught my boys how to keep their standards and boundaries and that they were only responsible for THEIR own actions and can not control their friends or other people.. .. ironically it is now the boys who tell me how messed up their dad is. or the boys who make the connection on how dad doesnt keep his word and choses NOT to put in the time and effort to visit or see them.. ..

          they are now 13 and 17 and are doing really well.
          I understand how painful it is for you to have your daughters go thru this thing again. I wish you and your children the best and i pray you find your peace soon. You all deserve better the what he is giving you. good luck.

          *another word of advice. use what works for you, disregard the things that do not apply to you.

    • I appreciate your kindness. I had so many obstacles in life when I was a kid and feel so thankful for the life I’ve created for myself as an adult that maybe I do have a higher tolerance for bullshit than others. I was devastated when I found out about the cheating, but it wasn’t even close to the worst thing that had happened to me. I did know I wasn’t going to stay with someone I didn’t respect, and I’ve really been happy the last few years.

      • I was almost arrested.

        In addition, the things I did- cringe worthy.
        I understand more than you know.

        Here is some thing I have started doing: is to not be so hard on myself. When I look back on how I was raised, it’s a wonder I’m not sleeping under a bench huffing paint.

        When we encounter people who take advantage of us and are cruel- it is so disorientating. And when you try to impress upon the masses the HORROR of it- I have gotten more than my share of blank stares. I have also gotten the patented phrase get over it. Stop living in the past. Time to move on!

        Yes. But the mind movies. The debts. The kids. It’s just a shit show that never stops.

        People get high and mighty on the Internet when they smell any weakness and go for the kill. I don’t know why.

        I promise you there are people on here who were performing to the pick me dance that did things that would curl the paint off the wall.

        It’s all going to be okay.❤️🎈🥰

        You wrote in for help because you sans do you were on the wrong path. And now that you know better you do better.

        • Thanks for this–it helped me, too.

          One thing that may have been spelled out elsewhere on this site but that I still get skein-tangled in has to do with “You’re buying into a toxic myth that we control others through our behavior.” I don’t think this is a myth, although I do think it can be toxic if not understood realistically. It may be true that we can’t *decide* for other people how they are going to act, but it’s flat-out false that we can’t *influence* each other. I mean, look at all of us chumps–are we really going to say that none of the fuckwits in our past relationships had any influence over our choices? Of course not; obviously they did, and we did our damnedest to have a positive influence on theirs in the opposite direction. It didn’t work; that’s the point, and it was a lost cause to begin with.

          Maybe part of the wisdom of chumpitude is recognizing that (a) you don’t have as much direct influence on others as you’d like, (b) your influence may not be beneficial even when it’s there, and (c) trying to influence others can be exhausting and distracting, so it’s important to have enough perspective not to keep doing it out of a sense of obligation or the feel-good sense of Doing The Right Thing. I know how important it is to me *not* to feel like a screw-up and to do extra good things to kind of “pad the balance” against the fear that I’m not good enough if I’m not actively trying to do good in the world, but sometimes that attitude is just entangling oneself in yet another scheme of fuck-uppedness. I don’t have as much clarity on it yet as I’d like, but I sense that it’s a bad idea disguised as a good one, so I’m throwing it out there to see if others have a similar idea.D

  • If she is so concerned about her girls, she needs to start paying attention to what she is teaching them with her continued chumpy behavior. Wake Up Terri!

  • Terri,

    You have been divorced for 10 years after you kicked him out over his affair. At this point his romantic relationships are really none of your business. He’s a co-parent. That’s it. You don’t need to talk to him about anything else ever. If your kids are distraught over their breakup then provide what comfort you can but that’s it. Be the sane parent. That means butting out of your ex’s love life. Right now you aren’t really being sane and that isn’t good for your girls.

  • The best thing for these kids is the truth–and getting out of this toxic now-quadrangle, with the new AP in the mix.

    Don’t lie to kids about why their family broke up.
    Don’t teach kids to manipulate and control others–either by cheating, condoning cheating, or trying to control other peoples’ life choices.
    Don’t teach kids to project goodness and decency onto people who lie and cheat.

  • Co dependency – spending years trying to fix the ‘unfix able’ leave it be and go live your life with your kids without him. Soon the kids will be old enough to manage their own relationship with him. So what are you teaching them? Each time Daddy messes up we smooth things over and fix it for him so we can play happy families?

  • this letter is an extreme example of how society encourages us to forgive and forget and to sacrifice everything for our kids.
    I hope the writer has built her own life while playing nice with the ex…

    Protecting the kids now clearly involves reducing their exposure to their serial cheater dad as much as possible. She needs to realize his continued betrayal of his wives is also a betrayal of their kids. To him, he is number one. Period. Some people just have no conscience or empathy. Clearly a guy who will destroy both his marriages with apparently good women is one of those people.

    It’s time for Terri to stop accommodating and take over. These are her kids. Neither the ex or his new wife are her friends.

  • This was a great letter. When I first started reading it, a part of me felt guilty that I have not allowed myself any “great big ol modern family” dynamic. Would it have been better for my son?

    I remember when my ex first left us, him and his mom wanted to throw my son a 4th birthday party for me and my whole family to attend. I remember thinking how that might be healthier for my son and then my mom told me no one in my family would attend. And she was throwing one with me and him and his mom were not invited.

    It’s also a prevalent theme by some… that forgiving them helps you and it’s healthier for children.

    Thank you guys and Tracy for shutting that down.

    I am doing the right thing. I will never be friends with my ex. We will communicate when it comes to my son. But that is all. My son will know that there are consequences for actions and that sometimes in life shit happens. And yes, it’s sad for him that we don’t all do things together. He is exposed to family break down at a young age. But he is also a lot wiser and empathetic then others his age.

    It goes too far when we think it’s the norm to create a happy life with mistress and ex.

    Also, I just loved the Karma in this story. 6 years and eventually they cheat again! Bahaha! I love it. That’s 6 years of her youth that she wasted helping to raise someone else’s kids. I don’t pity her one bit.

  • Terri, I sort of did the same thing. And I ended up remarried to my ex. Who buckled down for a good few years then cheated. Only he never left. But when things were difficult in his life, like at work, or some large milestone occurred, he cheat. I was pretty naive and worked with two small kids and he’d get in some mood and I wasn’t sure why he was so miserable. Well, he didn’t want to cheat with me on them so I’d get put in the penalty box til they broke up. See, a pattern developed over 25 years. Keeping my family safe and protected was paramount. Now we are grey rock. I stopped lying and protecting him. Pretending he was so great while he was so mean to me behind closed doors. Honestly, I created my own trap by taking him back then living in a bubble. I do get you wanting to give your girls something you felt was important – a dad who is there. But CL is right. You can’t fix him or fix this situation. You need to break up with him too. You’re not his mom or bestie. I’m an adult child of an alcoholic. I always want to fix things and stay in control. Maybe this is your background as well. Anyway, run towards your own life now. I finally did it and I’m very happy and having fun. My kids are fine. They still love their dad but they have his number. It’s your time now.

    • That’s just it. Kids can still love their parents even when they know they have serious flaws. It is better for them to know the truth and accept it. They can still love him while recognizing that he isn’t the best role model to follow, at least not when it comes to relationships.

    • Thank you for your response. I am an adult child of alcoholics (both biological parents and most of their partners). My ex was never mean, didn’t drink, was a good guy, etc. so I thought it was just a one off thing, and he was better matched with OW. We were married for 14 years and were a pretty good team or so I thought. We also experienced infertility and didn’t have our first child until almost our 12th year of marriage. It was a tough time, and I think I blamed myself. Time to get things figured out. Again thank you. I hope you are happy with whatever situation you are in now.

      • Lots of us chumps had parents who were alcohol abusers, dead-end drunks, drug abusers, and/or disordered in character or personality. We learn how to control our own lives by pleasing others and taking care of them and living lies of one sort or another. One thing for sure: we don’t establish standards for what my therapist calls “normal, decent treatment.” We tolerate the intolerable. And we learn to see monstrously selfish behavior as “normal.”

      • You lasted 14 years with him (at least, I don’t know how long you were together before that) before he cheated (well, that you know of). She only lasted 10 (at most). So much for the theory that she was a better match. In fact it had nothing to do with either of you at all, just him and his entitlement.

      • OP I think I might be a lot like you. It is just that God was very kind to me and greyrock was enforced upon me. I am an adult child of an alcoholic with a severely codependent mother. I idolised my ex when married to him. I wanted nothing more than to see my kids have a dad. The problem was I never knew true friendship and intimacy. Intimacy….. I thought I had a good enough relationship with him…my kids. Only to see with great sadness that I have never known being close and connected my whole life. I accepted the few crumbs he tossed at me and called it love. I only write this to ask you, do you have true intimacy in your life? Love a sad huge chump.

  • Wow, what a crazy letter. Maybe it is the jaded part of me. But, who cares if he cheated on his now wife? I would say it is karma. I am sure she knew he was married when he screwed around with her. As for him. He never had to own up to the consequences of his cheating and how it ruined peoples lives. Let him twist in the wind.
    He is not your problem. And it is not your job to fix him. He fired you when he cheated on you and your children. Karma has come to visit just sit back and let it do its job.

  • Well gee golly. Since your #1 goal is to make everything cool for this royal fuckwit, why don’t you and sweetie pie 17-years-younger OWifestress just agree to be Sister Wives with this third woman? You know, so he can have everything he wants and you STILL won’t have to deal with the fact that he is a royal fuckwit?

    Deluded.

    Please face your reality and stop trying to make everything OK for that asshole. Look up “codependent” and make a change. Time to start healing from his abuse a decade ago, and get out of his cult.

    Either that or accept your place in his harem as the wife he no longer fucks but still keeps around to take care of his children and manage his image.

  • Hah, if I weren’t at meh these days, I’d want my X to cheat on Shrek and then they stay together too. 🤣 However, my reasons wouldn’t be altruistic. I’d just want to cheaters to be stuck with each other. IJS! 🤷‍♀️

  • Here’s the plot twist: this letter was actually written by the OW because she was too afraid that we were going to eat her live if she showed her real identity.

    I mean seriously, I was asking myself the entire time “is this for real?!!”. Being a chump myself, still stuck, at the end of the story, I almost went “aww she’s so sweet”. Glad CL knocked that right out of me. It’s much easier to see what’s really going on when we are not in it. In a way, I can totally relate so Terri we know how hard you’ve tried to create a good life for your daughters but it’s time to set some boundaries. Have you truly moved on from him? Are you sure your daughters were the only reason you’ve done all that? Is it possible you are scared that you are going to lose him again (not that you ever had him) because you never know what this new mistress is going to be like and she might pull him completely away from you and your children?

    • I am offbase to imagine that she is still sleeping with the girls daddy?
      This type of guy would have that as his goal. She certainly has no boundaries!

        • I am definitely NOT sleeping with their dad. I now feel almost relieved he had an affair because although I co-parent well with him, I really don’t like him. He was never abusive or anything, but he is arrogant and selfish which is easier to tolerate when I don’t have to see him often. As far as feeling anything romantic, yikes, NOT AT ALL. I’ve been dating a great man for over 3 years, and I can’t imagine every feeling that way towards Ex. My current guy and I don’t live together, and maybe I do keep him a bit at arm’s length because of all the shit sandwiches I’ve eaten this last decade (he)

          • Here’s a suggestion.

            Fix your picker. You think CheaterDad is a “better man” than his behavior shows, even though the only thing we have in front of us to evaluate anyone’s character is what they do. You think OWife is “an amazing person with an honest and pure soul,” even though she was CheaterDad’s mistress while you were at home with a baby and a toddler. So it’s time to take a long look at what you are willing to accept from people, what your require of them, what values are critical to your willingness to be involved with someone. We have a term here–spackle–for what happens when our picker is broken and we are excusing and ignoring things that should be dealbreakers.

          • Glad you’ve been with a great guy for the past 3 years. And Yikes is exactly how you should feel towards your ex! This must be hard being put under the spotlight and reading what everyone else thinks you should do! Well, some of the comments are pretty harsh but I think it’s great we get prespectives from people who had the similar experiences. Even though they weren’t for me but I could totally use it! Best luck to you and hope you get rid of all those toxic people in your life!

          • I am so happy you responded and gave us a few more details. You shared that your Ex is arrogant and selfish. Why would you want to normalize that as “good” or “acceptable” for your baby girls? It is obvious that you love your daughters and want to do the right thing for them. The right thing is demonstrating what boundaries and healthy relationships look like. It is okay not to be perfect because perfection is not a realistic standard. They are going to encounter difficulties throughout their lives and your example of how to handle those difficulties will be the touchstone to guide them. Crap people are not good relationship material for partners or friends. It’s important for us to demonstrate that. It took me 60 plus years to really internalize that simple reality. Don’t be like me. You can learn it so much sooner. 🙂

  • Jesus’ words about forgiveness have been so twisted by people DEMANDING that you must forgive.
    That is actually very harmful and NOT what he is talking about. Forgiveness is about YOU and YOUR soul and well being not the cheater or one who wronged you.
    As most of us have experienced, if you have really been wronged and hurt by someone that can lead to hate. Hate can burn you up, consume you and keep you stuck and fixated on the wrong doer hurting yourself in the process.
    When you are ready and able to, forgiving someone in your heart does not mean that you ever forget what they did or that you will ever trust them again rather it releases the hatred and pain in you and helps you move on. THAT is what he is talking about NOT the current New Agey “love love positivity always BS”.

    Also, I get that she wants a stable environment for her kids at the Exs but as CL said, that’s not really her issue. In my case, OM#3 now my kid’s stepdad gets a bitch cookie for being decent to my kids. Maybe the devil will lower the temperature on the flames for him due to that down the road. 😃

    • It’s the height of delusion for people to think they can control what goes on in someone else’s home.

  • Does this LW direct the lives of her children too? Tell them what they can wear, what they can like, etc? Will you tell your kids what they can study in college or who they can be friends with? Because this LW really does sound like that kind of person.

    People like this think they are helping. It’s not help. It’s an obstacle to growth and life lessons. Your ex-husbands romantic relationships are none of your business. I’m not without sympathy for you as you’ve obviously buried all your hurt, but this can’t stand. You need to live a real life. You need to stop denying what you feel and actually process what has happened to you.

  • This is an interesting one to say the least. Terri, I get it. You never, ever want to see your kids hurt or disappointed so you have wrapped them in a cocoon of make nice and tried to suck the conflict out of what is a horrible horrible situation. That way they wouldn’t have to deal with the mental and emotional ramifications of your ex’s shitty selfish behaviour, of being disappointed by their dad and procesingbthat nesage because you equate yhwtxeirh them feeling rejected and unloved. So all these years you’ve made nice and let this horrible man and his affair oartner live without the harsh sting if consequences. But now he’s shut in his best a second time. And you are continuing to try and maintain control by convincing the OW that if you can do it do can she? Terri it’s tome to let go for everyone’s sake. The adults in thus drama need to shovel their own shit and you need to trust in life enough to let your kids see the reality of the situation as it really is, because the current spin basically amounts to gaslighting them. You’re afraid they’ll feel abandoned and rejected and perhaps they will be, if your ex decides to not face unpleasant consequences when you’re no longer image managing for him. But your love us enough. They are loved they are safe, you obviously have that capacity to do that for them in spades. How much of this whole scenario has been solely for the kids and how much has been you delaying having to deal with the shitty emotional fallout by focusing on managing your external circumstances instead of your own reckvwry process I don’t know, but at this point you are veering into extremely manipulative territory. You don’t want to end up Tony Sopranos mother, just take a step back from the control campaign and see where the chops fall. Bad things happen in life, your job as a parent is to be a sounding board, guide and soft place to land and process for your daughters. Be warned though, when you free up space in your life instead of filling it with being the fixer your emotions may flare up and need to be faced too. Do this for your girls and step back and refuse to be drawn into their drama any longer. Although you may not believe it you will be able to make a new life without him in the middle of it.

  • What a dysfunctional dynamic. Chump pretends everything is just hunky dory with cheater ex and his OWife. They were really meant to be, he’s super dad, a better person with OW, blah blah. OWife, well they just don’t come any better than her, she’s an angel sent from heaven.
    OWife is pretending she had no idea Cheater was married & she broke up a family. No idea because she is the best thing since sliced bread and angels would never…….
    Cheater is pretending to be a decent father & just the salt of the earth kind of guy. See, his ex-wife is his biggest effin fan, even after he deceived her & dumped her ass for OWife.
    Couple of things……Cheater has always cheated he just didn’t get caught, cause he is that good. He gets caught when he wants out. Chump may want to hang on to Cheater (subconsciously or consciously) and she still gets to be in his life with current OWife. Chump thinks she is controlling the dynamic but with this new OW, well who knows…crap shoot. So cheater must stay with OWife so they can all go on pretending.

  • Your daughters need you to hit them with the truth by four. Men or women who betray you are not good people. They don’t deserve gilded invitations to our table. To be hugged and loved. You tried it the way the world wants it togo. To be all gwynth goopy about it, loving sharing and understanding. But now it’s time to realize- the sparkly turd is still a turd. And if your buddy OW wifey#2 has truly learned, and really loves your kids and isn’t a shit head, send her here to learn she’s making the right choice. Congratulate her on strong boundaries. And for fucks sake, get your own. Dad can still be a dad but chances are his choices will continue to suck and his ability to control and amaze all of you will continue to slip as he now has two ex wives to glamour and the tinfoil and glitter in his pockets isn’t as shiny with all the other flaws showing.

    Long story short- you need to actually grieve this and not think of it as a continuation of how awesome you are to him. You need to support her right to leave. You need to just work on being a port in the storm because chances are the man you divorced is gonna get a lot weirder soon, and someone in your kids life has to be willing to be honest and show them strong.

    Say no to Goop.
    It rhymes with poop.

    • ”And if your buddy OW wifey#2 has truly learned, and really loves your kids and isn’t a shit head, send her here to learn she’s making the right choice. Congratulate her on strong boundaries.”

      Oh, for fuck’s sake ! You’re the second person on this thread who’s recommended this. In the name of God, *why* ?

      Terri’s ”buddy OW wifey#2” broke up her *family* – she’s a skank whore who knew perfectly well what she was doing, and now she’s been hit by the 2 x 4 labelled, ”be done by as you did.”

      I agree with most of what nearly everybody on this thread has said; this is a highly unhealthy and fucked up situation that *Terri* has created, and it needs to *stop*, if not for her sake, for the sake of her children.

      Boy, I bet this piece of shit cheater is just *loving* the whole situation – me, me, me !! And my first wife, who I cheated on because I wanted to fuck strange, and then married it, and then cheated on the skank, is *defending* me, and advising my skank wife no. 2 to *stay* with me !

      This is *beyond* sick and fucked up.

  • Dear Terri,
    I can relate to what you’re saying somewhat, but for different reasons…

    In the days following the affair reveal (before having any knowledge of OW’s character) – I looked my then-husband in the eye and said “YOU BETTER MAKE IT WORK WITH HER”. My reason for saying this was – since he wanted to leave to pursue a life with her – he better damn make sure that it lasts, otherwise his forfeiture of our 23-yr relationship & our family unit (w/ 2 kids) would be all for nothing. The idea of him abandoning everything for a frivolous fling was unbearable…but somehow him pursuing “true love” made it OK. *barf*

    Now, several years later (and after knowing OW’s atrociously psychotic character) – the two of them are engaged but the wedding has already been postponed once. And I want nothing more than for them to be joined in permanent union! Now my reasoning is more out of snarky selfishness – because I know the words “til death to us part” will insure them a life of misery & conflict, which is exactly what they deserve!! So yes, I’m secretly rooting for them to make it to the altar & be one of the statistically rare affair-origin marriages that stands the test of time (less than 3%?). Idiots deserve idiots.

    I understand wanting the scenario that is least damaging to the kids, whatever that might be! But kids are only kids for a short while, and your ex threw the good parenting handbook in the fire over a decade ago…

  • Terri – for your sanity, you need to start backing away. As CL say, you can only control you and that’s all. It’s most definitely not up to you to fix their marriage.

    For your sanity, it’s time for you to “gain a life” – one that doesn’t him or her. That’s their lives to figure out, not yours. Your daughters will be fine – give them a good example, teach them to be good people. That’s what really matters.

  • I am so happy to read today’s post! This just strengthens my resolve and reproach. I’m so sick of the for the forgive and forget for the kids crap. I’m not going to bad mouth my X and father of my daughters but I’m not going to push them to forgive him or tell them how they should feel. I want them to decide that for themselves, simply because of shit like this. I would never want them to come to me years later feeling like I had duped them into believing a lie or forgiving someone that hurt them agaain. This woman pushed the for the kids narrative and ate massive amounts of shit sandwiches over the years for what…..a repeat years later. You can’t hide the true character of a child’s parent. It will come out. The only thing you can do is maintain constant love and support for your child and reassure them whatever their fuckwit parent does is no reflection of them.

  • OMG – I just started reading the comments and only got through a few but wanted to reply and thank everyone. I wish I would have found this support years ago! I have thick skin so don’t worry about telling me like it is. I need and appreciate the different viewpoints.

    A bit of my history – my mom was married 8 times, and my dad was married 5 times (all before they were 50). I remember when I was a kid, my mom put her cigarette out in my stepmom’s face at a bar. Though it was somewhat deserved, it was traumatic. I am still affected by so much of this shit. When I divorced, I obviously didn’t know what to do, but I felt I knew what NOT to do. I am quickly realizing with your help I have taken it WAY too far. Man, talk about a bucket of cold water being dumped on me. I am going to read each and every comment and really absorb your thoughts, opinions, and slaps upside the head (ha).

    • Glad you gave us some of your background history. I now think you were just trying to give your daughters security & stability. Still think your ex is a cheating scumbag & his OWife pretty much deserved what she got as she knew he was married when they hooked up.

    • So relieved to see your post!!!
      Yes, we are all about truthful 2 x 4’s around here. I hope you are able to break away from exh and be total grey rock from now on.
      When it comes to your daughters, you don’t have to parent or manage a third child (i.e. your exh)
      The less I know about exh2, the better.
      I have a feeling that his OWife will be contacting me sooner than later and spill the beans about all of exh2’s nonsense and scandalous ways.
      Won’t care, once he’s done with her, there will be another to take her place.
      Meh.
      Grey rock
      Now go do you.
      (((((Hugs)))))

    • OP, we get it… we really do. Most of us were the “fixers” for our disordered Exes too.
      You finally come to the place where you realize that that isn’t your job anymore. My Ex looked shocked when after the divorce was final and she married OM#3 and she was whining to me about her issues while we were dropping off kids. I looked at her and said:

      “You know what ? You cheated on and left me for OM#3 who you have now married and HE is now your husband. Your problems are no longer my concern, so I suggest that you tell your husband and have HIM deal with them” !!

      She looked shocked because I had been “Mr Fixit” since she was 21 years old and for the 16 years of our marriage. It was a relief and I’ve told her recently that in 2 years when our youngest is 18, then I will never speak to her again. If I happen to see her at an event like a wedding or birth of a grand child, then she’ll get a “Hi” and that’s it.

      You cannot control your Ex’s relationship with his kids —that’s ALL on him and if he sucks then he sucks. As CL said, all that you can control is you and be the sane and loving parent for your kids.

    • Oh, honey. Your parents were like my grandparents. Only worse. Much worse. And my grandfather abandoned 3 wives, 7 kids and 2 step kids. But Jesus on a pogo stick, I can see why you did what you did.

      Have you done any therapy around the connection between the rampaging insane level of family dysfunction your were raised with and the choices you’ve made as an adult? We kids from majorly dysfunctional homes learn coping strategies that kinda sorta let us survive as kids but that trap us in dysfunctional situations as adults (like my serial monogamy, with a whole set of disordered or drunken people…over and over…).

      You can fix this. Read everything you can get your hands on about character disorder (see Dr. George Simon’s books and website). You might also benefit from reading about the relationship cycle that is attributed to narcissists but is, in my view, common among lots of people who are selfish, entitled, lacking in empathy. Your X doesn’t need to be “diagnosed” to see that he feels entitled to cheat, to break promises, to disrupt his kids’ lives just to have sex or “romance” with a different person. Learn about the bad lessons you learned as a kid (although not putting a cigarette out on someone’s face is a pretty obvious no-no). Learn what healthy people know and do. I was 62 when I figured this out and it made my life 100% better.

    • Good to hear from you. You being a stable parent who is always there for your kids is the best thing you can do for them. You can avoid impeding your Ex’s access to and ability to parent your kids as long as his presence in their lives is not harmful to them (and it sounds like it is not), but that is as far as it goes. What happens between him and Owife is not your problem. You have no authority there. The kids survived your breakup with cheater ex and they can survive this too. If they are grieving you can be their port in a storm. You can be a safe place to find comfort, but what you can’t do is fix it for them. You have no control over that relationship. That is not your responsibility. Let it go and just be there for your kids.

    • I totally get that coming from a dysfunctional family sets you up to be in the caretaking role and it’s great that you realize that. Now perhaps you can back away from your trainwreck ex and focus on just you and your kids. Cheater ex and his slut wife are not your monkeys or your circus. They were bound to crash and burn. They are no good, love. I know you feel otherwise, but you’re mistaken. They fucked you over and got what they deserved.

    • I get it too. But what is totally missing from your equation is your own self. You need no longer depend on a cheater who betrayed you to find your value. It’s right there inside yourself. What he does is his problem. Where you go in life is your opportunity, so don’t sell yourself short to cater to a proven user. Once you chart your own course, he may cycle down the drain. Not your problem. He fired you from that job when he decided to shop around while married. Look only ahead. He’ll find another life janitor, or he’ll learn to clean up after himself, or he’ll live in his own filth. You have other fish to fry.

      Good luck to you. Choose to be mighty!

  • I have to say that when I found out about cheaters, I learned many things about men and women that I had not known before. I do believe some one can be fooled/lied to when they meet a person who says he/she is divorced. We are too trusting, and sometimes we believe what we want to believe. If you see someone with small children, you need to ask many questions, and then fact check.

    Sorry, but I don’t trust most people now. I have met too many who do not care if the other person is married, if what they want right now is a bit of fun. This is sad. Also people who believe he/she will change “for them” because they are special. We do seem overly willing to believe the ex’s are crazy or the person we want to date “made a mistake” and has now “changed.” Overcoming this gullible belief system is hard work. Setting boundaries is hard work. I have endured other women in my ex’s life that my ex felt compelled to drag to an event related to our children, but fortunately, I never wanted to be their friend.

    Polite, for my children’s sake. Not friendly.

    While I feel sorry for women who believe the lies the ex’s told, their sorrow is their problem, not mine. It is all I can do to take care of me, I cannot protect or change another grown person. If asked a direct question, I tell the truth, but it usually doesn’t make any difference. They have to learn on their own. Once you figure out that cheaters choose to cheat because they like kibbles, that is all you really need to know. The only advice I can offer, if requested, is to avoid selfish, entitled people. They suck. They want any joy you might happen to have for themselves, and have no intention to ever give anything back to anyone.

  • This post has just lifted the spiderwebs from my brain and slapped me into reality. This is church!!! Keep preaching Chump Lady!

  • Please lady get yourself to a therapist fast. You are legally divorced yes but emotionally you have continued to stay in the same traumatic relationship cycle with him all this time. It makes me so mad! Please listen to chumplady. Let this man finally fall on his face and deal with the consequences of his actions! You are not saving anyone from anything. All children come to a point where they find out their parents are human. Let the kids find out and help them deal with it rather than trying to sugar coat everything about him.

  • Sound like Terri needs to examine her control issues. We can’t and shouldn’t control other people’s lives. It’s bad for other people but it’s worse (and very stressful) for you. Let it all go!
    My ex didn’t see our kids for a year, and he lived down the block. He did that to hurt me. I didn’t have any contact with him during that tine, no begging him to see them or telling him what a POS he is (except to respond to his initial email saying he wouldn’t see them anymore) because I knew getting my goat and my attention was what he wanted. He still tries to fuck with me by hurting my kids.
    My kids are great though because I’m there for them, always. They are wonderful people who bring me so much joy! Focus on your kids and your own parenting, not your fuckwit ex.

  • Terri,

    Oooh Lawd Girl, I get you, but you need to stop. People who deliberately hurt you do not love you, do not respect you and they are not your friends. Do not teach your daughters by example to tolerate toxic relationships for the sake of anything or anyone. What kind of men and relationships will they be willing to settle for if you have them believe people should not be held accountable and suffer real life consequences for their choices? Stop saying your ex-husband is some kind of wonderful human being because he does some of what he is supposed to do. T-ball? Dances? That is some basic shit right there. Neither of these people is “amazing.” They are entitled. Your Ex felt he was entitled to cheat. His current wife felt she was entitled to sleep with your then husband. They both feel they are entitled to your good will and the good will of your children because you voluntarily give it to them for “appearances” sake. Stop normalizing their disrespect and abuse of you. A man who is a good father does not mistreat in any way his children’s mother. Full stop. Period. A woman who is willing to sleep with another woman’s husband is not a good person, let alone “amazing,” I don’t care if she feeds the hungry and clothes the naked. That part is impression management.

    As CL says all the time – know your worth. Recognize that you deserve to be more than a cheerleader and water girl to two entitled jackasses. Instead of worrying about your Ex needing therapy, worry about the therapy you should get in order for soul-sucking, selfish assholes don’t look normal to you. Good Luck and (((HUGS))).

      • It was my lawyer that poured cold water on me. She asked what I thought about my STBxH as a father. I said “He is good to the kids and is generally a nice person”. She laughed and said “I really do not understand you women. These men shit on you and your kids for years and years and yet you still say nice things about them.” It was at that very moment I realized what a chump I was. No more though! Grey rock, minimal contact and straight talk to my kids about what abuse is and what respect/values/integrity actually are. Hugs to you OP. Value yourself and model mightiness for your girls!

  • I’m in CL’s camp. He cheated on OW? “Ha fucking ha!” (I’m going to start using this all the time now).

    When you marry a man who cheats on his wife, you marry a man who cheats on his wife (and the same with women). I remember when OW1 called me to confirm there was an OW2 on the other side of the country. He had been living with her for 3 years and she thought he was all hers. She thought she had won the pick-me dance. Booby prize! Ha fucking ha!

    The more things change the more they stay the same.

  • The fact that they would cheat in front of his 2 year old daughter tells you everything you need to know about these two.

  • Chump Lady,

    This is the BEST worst shit sandwich situation I read about.

    Could you include this letter and your analysis in the next edition of your book? Many of us have been stuck on this faulty path of generosity and acceptance towards cheaters post divorce because of our children or society expectations. But in reality this is the denial of our own stupid moral superiority and continued codependency (wanting others think of us as good people).

    Thank you for this gem!

  • I wouldn’t be surprises to hear that the writer took him back… For the sake of the kids of course.

    The letter didn’t sound like it had very much to do with what was truly best for the children….

    It sounds like what is good for your ex….

  • This is a really hard one for me. My mum modelled the same behaviour as the OP is doing and 16 years later she still is. My mum has always said it was “just easier” to have a friendly relationship with my father and his OW/now wife. It is really no wonder I am a chump because I have been brought up with this being normal. It’s something I really struggle with, because I have 0% desire to be anywhere near my ex-husband. I know my mum would have seen me go back to my ex husband if he had wanted to reconcile. I’m sure that is not how normal parent should react but how am I too know when it’s all I have ever known. It is thanks to this site that I am able to show my own children that you don’t have to tolerate their behaviour, and it’s ok to distance yourself from them through no contact or limited contact with small children.

  • The young people involved here are 11 and 13?
    Oh, they know exactly what is going on. For anyone who doubts this, just check out Instagram or Snapchat for five minutes.
    I’m a single mom, my daughter is 12. Parenting often involves blocking disordered fuckwits out of her life and mine- regardless of who they are. Family does not get a “pass” on this concept. Until my daughter has the development as an adult to do this on her own, I run block.
    Fuckwits will not understand this, and that’s a “zero fucks given” zone. Fuckwits will cycle through the self-pity-charm-rage channels in an attempt to violate the boundary. Nope.
    It’s a lot of teaching. I can only teach what I understand.

  • The only example you gave that was mean is “she doesn’t love her kids”. Who said that? The rest of them are either good advice (get a therapist) or just expressions of shock at the situation described in the letter. They weren’t attacks on the letter writer. The SITUATION is what’s fucked up. That’s beyond dispute.
    “You dumb boring cunt”, on the other hand, is a personal attack as you well know. You seem to have anger management issues.

  • The cat is out of the bag. The exes marriage isn’t going to be a great place to park two tweens. Stepmom is realing in some well deserved karma.
    Show stepmom Chumplady! That’s the best you can do for her. And cheating is abuse.
    If he had beat you and left you for her, then started to beat her…would you push them to reconcile? Would you want your daughters in that toxic family? Don’t push her abuser on her. If she wants to leave, great! Applaud her. Don’t hinder her.

    • ”Show stepmom Chumplady! That’s the best you can do for her. And cheating is abuse.”

      That’s the *third* comment suggesting the whore be steered to chumplady.

      Look, ‘stepmom’ was a cheating whore **OW**, and now cheating whore stepmom has got exactly what she deserved, and should have expected, except the cunt was most likely convinced *she* was special, and her sparkly twat and sparkle tits would keep the cheating bastard happy forever, because ‘twu wuv’ you know.

      The whore has got what she deserved. Do we really want another OW, now transfigured into OWwifetress, coming here and vomiting all over CN ? She got what she deserved. Karma. Be done by as you did. Full stop !!

  • Big hugs to you. It is hard when you realize that you have to let go and let things that might hurt your children happen (because you cannot control this). I wish I had found chump lady earlier as my first D day was 5 years ago and I was naive and too ashamed to tell anyone. Now I am very open and I feel it is his shame to wear (although strangely he is not ashamed — he defiantly tells me he is a better new age man).

    As hard and damaging as it is, I believe kids can learn and grow from this (although I wish they didn’t have to). I struggled with what to tell my kids and my therapist advised me to only tell if they asked and they weren’t really asking (more like dancing around the issue). Once they finally asked I was open with them. My teens are both boys and I have been very open about how hurtful and damaging it is for people to cheat and lie. They have been very hurt by this as their father thinks it is okay to have lied to them. He is also making us live through a very uncomfortable in house separation while our agreement is completed and the house sold (he refused to leave and my one son is in Grade 12 so we are somewhat stuck).

    I have told them that people’s feelings can change over time and if they do you have to be courageous and honest. My STBX has reverted to a teen — experimenting with drugs, alcohol, and viagra fuelled sex marathons with a married colleague and perhaps others. I hope that the pain they are feeling and the pain they have seen me feel will help them avoid cheating in their relationships (because the stats suck quite frankly).

    The best thing us chumps can do is be honest and be there to pick up the pieces. Children who have one stable, loving, and supportive parent are lucky compared to some children.

    Hugs to all the fellow chumps who soldier on and support their children in the best way they can :)!

    • Teens, especially, need honesty in my opinion. They are much more aware of the situation then a tot. They are also making big decisions like college and career and dating, and telling them the honest truth allows them to life. They want to be shown respect and maturity, and lying to them is disrespectful and treats them like babies. I say stick with the facts. Let them decide. But in no way condone sex parties, Viagra, or multiple partners. It sets up the example that this is ok behavior. Rather, show them actual pictures of std’s…(or have their doctor so it….my pediatrician showed my 13 year old what genital warts, herpes, dying of aids looked like on both boy parts and girl parts) … also fact filled consequences of such behavior. Don’t bash the father and keep the talks about it very infrequent. If they ask or 10 minutes a week. Otherwise they will to their eyes at you…

  • No more cake for them! Stop spackling. Cheating HURTS people and cheaters don’t care. OW thought it was ok for your ex to cheat on you – not cool. Keep your girls and yourself out of it – No Contact if you can. Not your circus. Help your daughters through it by being honest, not making any more excuses for anyone, and continuing to create a beautiful family life for them. You won’t need to say much at all, OW’s pain is very eloquent (they will extend it back to how you must have felt if they have any empathy at all, without being told). Be a refuge for them away from the disintegrating mess of two entitled jerks who have have been carried for 10 years on your shoulders, enjoying the lovely family life YOU created. This way EVERYBODY learns valuable life lessons. Certainly don’t let your girls visit there if you can possibly avoid it, what a toxic and confusing atmosphere for them. My kids are learning painful lessons about their dad that HE is teaching them without me having to say a word.

  • “I decided many years ago to show grace to them both.”

    What you forgot was to show grace to yourself.

    It sounds like you are benefiting from the caring 2X4s that you have received. GOOD!

    CL has shown many of us the way out of the darkness. Keep coming back.

  • Dear Terri, I hope, you will be able to digest all the advice given to you. I hope you are ‘ripe’ for it. As I see it, you just needed someone to adjust your perspective, because you couldn’t see the big picture.

    What made me tear up and break my heart was this:
    “I found out from my then 2-year-old that her daddy was “naughty” because he kissed “girl.”

    He definitely is not such a good father. I really hope, he is trying.
    Please, remove yourself from the situation, don’t waste your precious time for the OW and him.

  • Oh lord, this poor woman must own a spackle store. I went cold turkey gray rock with my ex. He hated it. He has cycled through all the narcissist channels over it. I am neutral but honest with our daughter about his actions, I always let her know when I disagree with something he’s said or done as a parent, and why. Because she needs to build her defenses against him too. These types are users and they’ll use their own kids for ego supply until the kids grow up and stop giving it, then they get discarded too—just like their other parent did.

    Aside from eating regular shit sandwiches, I see this as the biggest downfall. You and his current wife have spackled so hard for this guy that your daughters have not been able to see who he is and build up their own defenses. So they will be devastated when he abandons them too. And he will. I’m one form or another.

    I get why you did it—your past, Society, and you thought you were helping them out. My daughters your girls age and she is a happy healthy adjusted kid and I have almost nothing to do with her dad—who does an ok to fine job on his parenting time but I understand the clock ticks on him abandoning her too once she is of no more ego supply to him. And, I need her to be ready to emotionally handle that, which IMO is where your effort should have been going all these years.

    And I’m with CL—sounds like he’s a good parent…but yea, that’s fucking baseline. You don’t get a slow clap for being an involved parent. That’s a given.

    I wish you luck unraveling this mess. And dare I say making a better life for you. How hard is it to shine your light when so much of your energy goes to keeping his on? Imagine how night you can become without his energy suck.

    • Thank you, NotANiceChump. Your post was one of the most helpful I read. You are right about the energy suck. I don’t even know how bright my light could shine because I use every ounce of whatever I have for others. I am definitely going to talk to a therapist.

      I have also been very honest with my girls. They definitely know why their dad and I aren’t together. When he first told them “girl” was moving out indefinitely, they both told me they bet he cheated. The more I think about it, I think I want them to stay together more for me than even for the girls or for him. This is one area of my life that doesn’t stress me out because there is no drama. Yes, I eat shit sandwiches, but it has been easier on me I think than the alternative (in my opinion which I realize isn’t clear). The girls are never put in the middle, they can communicate with their dad without me involved because I’m good with what he decides, they have both of us at their events without an ounce of drama. If we hadn’t been co-parenting since the youngest was a baby, I don’t think I’d have the trust I do when they are with him. Before they had phones of their own, they would have to call him using my phone or me using his phone. We each would talk to our kids twice a day when they were with the other parent. Selfishly, I wanted the close relationship with him because it was easier to eat a shit sandwich than not have my girls. My heart was ripped out when he cheated, but it was knowing I’d have to share my girls that gutted me. Eating shit was hard at first but then I think I got used to it, and it is now very easy.

      It took 11-long, gut wrenching years with many procedures to get pregnant. Knowing I wouldn’t have my babies with me every night made me throw up and get so anxious I couldn’t function. Taking what I thought was the high road was as much for myself as anyone else. Eating shit allowed me to see them every single day while they were little. I have them 2/3’s of the time which might seem like a lot, but it is 6 years of NOT having them when you think about it from infant to 18 years old. None of us become parents to not have our kids in our lives. My twin has a 33 year old, and my youngest is 11. She started young, and I started in my late 30’s and don’t want to miss any more of their precious lives than I already have to.

      I work full time in a corporate position in Denver and also own a small bar in my home town. I took care of my mom until she passed last year, and I am the most responsible in my very large dysfunctional family. My twin was in prison more than once, and I basically raised her daughters on and off during the years. She has had drug and alcohol problems throughout her life and hasn’t ever really held a job (we are 50). I guess with so many things on my shoulders, eating a few sandwiches seemed like the lesser of the evils.

      I do realize I need to get therapy though and am glad I wrote in.

      Thanks everyone for your comments. I appreciate you taking time to help with this.

      -Terrie

      • I feel for you and also share your fertility struggles. It’s so tough. Only having your kids part of the time is, in and of itself, a major shit sandwich. And in my experience, it only gets harder. I thought it would get easier but it hasn’t. OK, you got a lot going on and I truly don’t know how you handle it. But it sounds to me alot like “I must do lots of things for other people so that they don’t go off the rails and then I have to deal with that cluster F because it’s all mine to handle.” But imagine if, aside from doing your share of parenting, you just stopped. It’s possible that you’ve built your identity around being the one who keeps it together for everyone else. But imagine if you just didn’t. I too have an addict sister–we are close, but her addiction and life is not my problem. I love her. I also love myself enough to create a boundary. Just imagine.

        Maybe that’s not the life for you, maybe being the fixer and needed by many fills your bucket. That’s ok too. I will tell you though that after 20 years of being with some who I enabled and fixed and spackled and supported and “atta boy-ed” until my brain and self esteem turned to mush, the last two years have been spent on me–bettering myself. My daughter–loving and supporting her in our way. And I’ve never been happier. My light shines brighter than I can ever remember it shining. It’s amazing and I wish it for everyone. People tell me all the time how great I look–that I glow. That’s just me being able to turn up my light cause I stopped powering his.

        I visit this site often because I am still in recovery from being a chump. I am still dealing with the trauma of emotional and psychological abuse, I am still triggered and knowing that others struggle too helps. But even still, I shine brighter than ever. And I hope you can too. As CL says, “No.” is a complete sentence. : )

  • My dear Terrie, CL & CN,
    We are all recovering and have all taken different paths – some to MEH, some of us to what we think is MEH and some who struggle with what the hell MEH would ever look like!! When I read Terrie’s letter and CL’s response on Wednesday! I too was shocked; but my shock was based on the fact that I could see me in there somewhere! All very different circumstances but I am there none the less!
    I am 60 this year which is more of a milestone for me than I care to admit. Divorced for 18 months; separated for 5.5 years; 2 adult sons; married for 29 years; only man in my life and with him since I was 16! I adored him! On reflection, he was a cheater forever but I didn’t want to admit it, preferring to keep our family and my image intact!
    I grew a pair and said enough was enough in 2013 when I found out that an affair partner I found out about in 2002 was still on the scene! There were other women as well because he ‘related better to women than men’!! He thought that by coming clean – again, that I’d be ok and start again, again!!!! Throughout the last 5 years, I have discovered that I am an independent woman; financially secure with lots of friends; an amazing relationship with my boys and their partners but I have suffered many low periods; still on anti depressants; periods of counselling and have really struggled with why!? I know it can take a long time to move on but I’m still wallowing in the misery of it all!!

    For the last couple of years I know now that I have been looking for a way to ‘keep him in my life’!!!!!!
    I have realised from reading Terrie’s account that what she has created with her ex is what I have been desperately trying to achieve!!! The difference with me is that my ex wants nothing to do with me!! I don’t know whether he has an OW but my boys are really keen not to upset me by talking about him in any way and I am seeing that as a judgement on me! They know what their Dad is but want a relationship with him and rationally I know that is good for them SO why do I feel so desolate!? There have been many times (at our eldest son’s wedding; when the eldest and his wife moved into their first house; etc) when I have been prepared to have a civil relationship but he has simply not been prepared to engage! He hates me for ‘what I took from the divorce’ (I got a 50:50 split but I think he thought I’d settle for less!) It’s a mess! I have thought that for the sake of the boys and our lives going forward that we need to be able to have a relationship of sorts!!
    This week I have realised that I have wanted what Terrie has got – some relationship with my cheating Ex and, as I read her letter, I realised how screwed up that is!! I’ve read all the responses and can see what has been stopping me from moving on for all these years!! Even putting up with so much crap when we were married and if I am honest with myself, before we were married!!!
    Someone above posted something about being co-dependent and suggested reading a book “Codependent no more” by Melody Beattie! I think that this is the missing link! I am 35% of the way through the book and it is speaking to me! In spite of everything, I have not been able to put me first. Him and the kids and their feelings have been more important than my own feelings and reality.
    Just writing this down on here, is an acknowledgement for me of where I am and where I have come from!! Thank you Terrie for baring your soul and I wish for you and your girls, in time, a wonderful life together without all the mind f*ckery that goes with this journey!
    Though it is clearly such a difficult time for many of us Chumps, thanks for being here everyone; if you’ve got to the end of this long post – thank you for listening! We will all reach MEH on Tuesday!!! xxxxx

    • Susan – thanks for posting, I am so delighted that you’ve had an epiphany and am moving on at a rate of knots, good for you! X

  • So so good Chump Lady. Boundaries. Omgoodness I read this and think about how I tried to be the nice person at first and all it did was prolong the recovery. So happy to be gray rock now. He doesn’t deserve what I have to offer, my kids deserve it all. My ex and His Schmoopie can have their fake life. I just wish my kids didn’t play a role in their script.

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