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Spending Holidays with Your Ex ‘For The Children’

Chump Lady,

Can you do a post about having to spend holidays with the ex or not see your kids?

I’m in another chat room for new moms. All the ladies there are talking about divorced parents and how they need to suck it up and hang out together for Christmas or not see their kids and grandkids for the holidays.

It’s makes me sad to know how little people know or care about the pain of infidelity and how little grown children care about their parents’ feelings.

Karen

Dear Karen,

It’s not the holiday season without judging. The refrain of HEY, YOU’RE DOING PARENTING ALL WRONG is about as familiar as Jingle Bells.

It bears repeating for the umpteenth time — you don’t have to be friends with your ex. That doesn’t make you uncivil, or churlish, or not moved on — it makes you divorced.

Opening presents together with your cheating ex is a shit sandwich buffet you can pass on along with the holiday fruitcake.

The sad (or liberating) aspect of divorce is that you have separate families. Separate traditions. Conflicting time schedules. All at a time of year that fetishizes the Nuclear Intact Family.

That Norman Rockwell heterosexual-once-married-for-life couple gathered around the heritage dining table is just one flavor of family life. There’s also pajama party with your tribe of friends eating chocolate from Xmas stockings. And I’m Jewish-Chinese-take-out-and-a-movie Christmas. Or I’ll-take-a-pass-this-year-and-cruise-the-Bahamas-with-my-new-partner.

BUT NORMAN IS THE ONLY WAY!!!!

If you feel that way, you’re going to be miserable.

Also, Nuclear Intact Family gatherings are not devoid of dysfunction. If you’re misty, remember at the heritage dining table is seated your Fox News watching aunt (“GLENN BECK IS A FINE AMERICAN!”), your opioid-addicted sister-in-law and your grifter brother.

Expand your definition of family and what “moved on” looks like and model that to your children. Don’t try to shoehorn yourself into a situation that doesn’t fit you (or could make you puke with stress sickness).

I have a lot of sympathy for chumps who have to share their kids at the holidays, and compassion for children of divorce, and the shit sandwich of having to schlepp between households.

The remedy for a divided holiday, however, is not forced reunification. It’s adapting. That goes for grown children too.

The holidays would go a lot smoother for everyone if we accept who people are — not who we want them to be. Fact is, mom cheated on dad and he doesn’t want to be friends. We shouldn’t expect bonhomie, demand it, or create hostage situations about it. (YOU WILL NOT SEE YOUR GRANDCHILDREN UNLESS YOU PLAY NICE.)

Like the marines, adapt and overcome.

CN, how did you adjust to sharing your kids at the holidays and building a new life? Share your strategies.

Oh, and Karen, the playgroup mommies can shove it.

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.
  • Karen, I would not share a holiday “for the children”. Because it is not necessary and especially because it sends the wrong message (what will they think?).

    As I write my eldest son is visiting my youngest son and I happen to know they are hiding from me the fact that sparkledick is also there. It is painful for all of us, except for sparkles, who, if I know my cattle, is happy to feel in control) and I hope they reflect that hidden visits are the consequence of wandering dicks, a CL describes male cheaters.

    After the visit is over I will let sons know I know and remind them to think about consequences.

      • *Deer in headlights* I’m always pumping my kids for info on how their visit with dad went. But moreso because I’m worried about how he treats them. Should I not be?

        • If you’re worried about physical harm – sure. Otherwise? You sound like you desperately want to hear every last detail of his life. And if you’re pumping them for information about your ex then you can’t expect your kids to not pass on every bit of information about you either. Is that what you want?

          • He is usually an emotional abuser more than a physical abuser. Very narcissistic and manipulative. But yes, I see your point.

            • Therapy would be better than pumping them for information. Pumping them for information puts them in the middle. But having them tell their therapist how Dad treats them may solve your problems….

            • You’re trying to control something you can’t control. You can’t make him into a good father. What you can do is be the sane parent–and that means not putting them in the middle.

          • Arkyle, I dont know about Woman Scorned, but Í assure you that I do NOT want to know about sparkles’ current life. Really! But I DO want to know how my sons’ moral reasoning is going….

            Sparkles father was exactly the same as him. In the beginning of our relationship he would rant and rave about his father’s cheating and abandonment.

            I was the one who made him introduce our children to their paternal grandfather (whom they saw for exactly 60 minutes their entire life).

            In hindsight I now see that sparkles was not outraged about how his father treated his mother, about the dishonesty and fraud (lots of stories), but that he, sparkles, was a broke college student who lost his upper middle class life. He resented the losses, not the cheating.

            I am no contact, 100% disinterested, but I am not at meh yet because I curse sparkles frequently (less and less, but I still do).

            And I do worry about his crap and irresponsibility having consequences for my sons. It’s complicated.

            • ClearWaters– I so very much feel your pain. The first year after D-day, I re-ignited the tradition with my “tribe”, as CL puts it. We always had a giant party with all our friends but then he dragged us away from there for his job. It was 2 years later D-day happened. So the first Thanksgiving after, the kids and I road-tripped back to our old friends for the festivities and he disappeared for Christmas and New Years. But the second year, we ended up splitting holidays. One of my daughters had just started college, only had Thursday and Friday off and she was on the east coast of the US (I live in California), so she went to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving as it is only an hour flight away with now time change. Fuckwit, Schmoopy and the Narcissist Enabler (my ex MIL) all joined them. My younger daughter came with me-her choice. We split Christmas and New Year’s- with him getting New Year’s- and his whole family gathering happened again where he paraded Schmoopy around. No one told me Schmoopy was there. I didn’t ask. I wanted to know. I wanted to know she was awful and everyone hated her. But I also feared they wouldn’t because his mother and his sister (who is an angel, but a little messed up by her mother’s weight issues) are completely unable to separate thinness from beauty and worthiness. I knew that Schoopy is rail thin and they would worship her, although they, themselves, have average BMIs like me. It was not until 6 months later learned that I was correct in that he brought her, in that the two women in his family are in awe of her thinness and regularly talk about her body, and that they were instructed not to tell me she was there. I also learned that my nephew told my daughter that “Auntie Katie was way more fun” and that my niece chimed in, “and prettier too.” Awww kids-it’s because I smile, wear rock band t-shirts and take them for ice cream after we go hiking. But I didn’t ask for the information. But I wanted to. So, my point is–it’s fine to want to know. Don’t let anyone make your feel badly about that. It’s even ok of you ask for the information because if that’s what you feel like you need to do and you did it, you’re still fine. But, in the end, you’ll probably find out what happened with their dad from someone, you’ll get the satisfaction of looking like you didn’t care and your son will probably start to sift out where north is on his moral compass with your guidance.

              • “Auntie Katie was way more fun”….. hahahaha. That’s what I hear all the time from nieces on sparkledick’s side.

                sparkles and his brothers were always taunting and teasing the nieces and nephews. I guess that’s why Auntie ClearWaters is more fun and they keep in touch and my sons have gone no contact with uncles.

                I love young people. I remember how great it was to have my fun and interesting aunts and uncles, they made me feel so good about myself and taught me a lot.

                I also remember the pain of trying to be loyal to my own cheating mother…. She made it easy for me: she was so damn mean to me I just gave up. Maybe it was her way of protecting me, who knows?

            • Yes. This. He can act a fool all he wants. That’s on him. But I do worry about the effect his actions and behaviors have on my kids. I wish I could not care at all. But what happens to the kids affects them. Which in turn affects me. It’s really a nasty circle. I feel like there’s still no freedom. Everyone says, get to meh. But how can you really get to meh when all the crap that goes on directly effects your most beloved?

              • Yes, WomanScorned, how can we get to meh when our children have so much evil to deal with? Who is going to help them wade through this mess and how?

                Who would keep quiet after this: my eldest has a good job and rented an apartment to be independent. His father helped him furnish it. That would be OK with me except if it weren’t for the following: sparkles goes to the most expensive stores, buys a number of high end things my son did not need (I had good appliances he could use since I was moving into a much smaller house; who NEEDS German fancy cutlery and crystal).

                This is not to sooth a guilty conscience because sparkles makes my son pay him back for these whims in monthly installments! Sparkles loves to show off in expensive stores, he’s the kind who eats tuna from the can and burps caviar.

                AND sparkles lies to the judge for our divorce that he is in debt because of this aid to a son in an attempt to get me to pay for the debts he ran up buying flatterfuck shoes, purses, fancy hotels and trips to resorts….

                God, I want to scream.

              • I think meh is a long road for some of us. I know I won’t be at meh till my kids are grown. My ex is a Narcissist psychopath with a Narcissist Father, Sister and the flying monkey mother-in-law. My kids are elementary and middle school age. I don’t ask what happened on dad’s weekend when they get back to my house, I let them decompress and process. Over the week they tell me thing and they are realizing what kind of people they are (forming opinions on their own). It is teaching my kids to watch actions and how values, morals protect. How the kids feel effects me deeply, I will never understand how ex and family can treat people that way and think it is OK. The kids and I are learning how to move forward while facing abuse-that the court system doesn’t recognize as abuse. My oldest sat on stairs last night after returning and cried that she was verbally persecuted all weekend. I gave her hug told her I loved her and lets get something to eat. That the reason people put you down is to make themselves feel better.
                I am going to tell you a little bit about my daughter.
                She is one tough cookie with a heart of gold. Straight A student, Beginner saxophonist. An amazing artist- has won an art award in school. She is tall, thin and incredibly beautiful. But most importantly one truly amazing girl.

                These evil people don’t bother with the weak-they want to destroy the strong. Try to not let it affect you-Model strong sain parenting. I am hoping like you that my kids will move past the abuse as adults, but we have to teach them this by moving past it ourselves.

          • No, you should not be. A simple, “did you have a good time with dad?” is enough. If they say yes, conversation over – they either had a good time or they aren’t ready to talk about the bad time. Either way, prying for more puts them in a bad spot, puts them in the middle. Don’t do that to them.

            If they say no they did not have a good time, then you can ask if they want to discuss it with you or with a counselor instead. Pressing them for deets isn’t healthy for either of you. It will cause them to resent you.

          • I would tell them you’re NOT going to ask them questions about their dad’s new home (unless it’s ‘do you have somewhere to do your homework?’ Or otherwise neutral/ not personal) but if they ever want to tell you anything you are ready to listen.

        • Pumping the kids for info? No. Not fair to them emotionally. (If you feel there is abuse that is an entirely different subject). But if that is not the case then don’t triangulate your kids with your ex.

      • I let them have a relationship, CL. Or rather, I don’t even ask if they do or don’t.

        But their father is an infectious disease caused by a parasite called Craporum moralae. And, as I note to Arkyle below, sparkledick caught this disease from his father… No vaccine, no medicine was used. Did I underestimate the danger? What is the prevention?

        I am traumatized and I live in fear that my sons will banalize their father’s shit. I think that not every child figures out who the sane parent is. Because it is a lot of work and it hurts to do so.

        I still get the ‘It takes two people for things to go wrong or right’; ‘No good marriage has ever ended in divorce’ spiel from my sons.

        • They are absolutely right!

          It DID take two people to ruin the marriage.

          … The problem is that the chump wasn’t one of those two people. That’s how cheating works.

        • I’m going to comment specifically on you and your family. My paternal grandmother was a quiet, very manipulative mother who wrecked her children’s lives. My father never got out from under that very quiet, subtle, crazy that she inflicted on him. Neither did his sister. The other two children left home as adults and moved far enough away that they had very little to do with her consequently they were much happier.
          You have the right to watch over your children. Biologically kids want relationships with their parents. You can help stem a little of this absorption of his nuttiness in this by simply asking somewhat neutral questions. If they bring up something that sounds alarming to you just asked them if that seems reasonable to them. You are going to be a little drip of water that erodes the crazy a little at the time. Just ask questions and never, ever comment. Questions are open ended and allow them to think.

          • I like this way of thinking. I know my ex treats the kids the same way he did when I was in the picture. The only difference is now I cant protect them. That *kills* me. So I ask leading questions in an attempt to do what I can to protect them, or at least pick up any pieces and rebuild them the best I can. He is so hot and cold with them. Either Disney Dad or cruel and ragey. It’s a mindfuck for them too.

            • Dear WomanScorned,
              I hear you. The hardest thing in parenting all around – regardless of whether cheaters are involved or not – is coming to terms with the fact that we can’t protect our kids from the world. Even before my most recent DDay 14 months ago, I was already struggling with this issue, because of the increasing likelihood that abrupt climate change will be a real gamechanger for all of us, and sooner than we might like to think. It’s a serious challenge to deal with the day-to-day grind while having a bigger picture in mind (either climate change or fuckwit mind games), and it is very painful to dwell too long on how life might turn out for my kids. So I try to use mindfulness techniques to stay in the present, and accept that I can control only myself and certain aspects of my immediate surroundings. If there’s a silver lining, it’s that kids and people are resilient, and will use whatever tools are at our disposal to deal with any given situation. The best we can do for our kids, I believe, is to model healthy coping strategies and boundaries, and to work through our own stuff with others (like good therapists!) so that we can be there for our kids in a non-judgmental way, if they ever need to process things for themselves. Best wishes to you!

        • And yes-again I hear you Clearwaters. I get that BS about “it takes two”. I have even tried to explain that he and I did all the little things wrong that people do. We were equal there. And then he did some things like undermining me which was a bit more than I ever did. And then he made me feel sexually inadequate, cheated and blamed it on my sexual inadequacy, lied for years about it, convinced me to leave my career to move for his career while he was cheating and then left, saying he loved us both and wanted to be with her but that he would financially repay me for me losing my career, but of course has fought tooth and nail to minimize what my lost career is worth. So, those things—he’s way ahead of me in blame points there. OF course, I have said far worse things about him than he has said about me. He prefers to damn everyone with weak praise, an effective tactic. I prefer honesty. Anyway, it’s bull shit–it does take two people for an affair to happen, but it’s the two people in the affair, not the chumps.

          • It’s hard to balance my strong urge to demonize cheaters. I want my kids to know the behavior is totally unacceptable. Under no circumstance is cheating ok. Buuuut. Doing that also demonizes their father in their eyes. Their father is a cheater. A lying, manipulative, abusive, nasty cheater. Of course I dont say those words. But I have nothing good to say on the topic of cheating either. I worry that in and of itself puts them in the middle.

            • yep. Another shit sandwich, right? I went whole-hog cheating is bad. When asked, I told them there were many things I loved about him but that I could no longer see them but that first and foremost-cheating is a choice and it’s not genetic. Everyone has the ability to be selfish and it’s important to choose NOT to be. Anyway, I tried my best to point out that I didn’t hate any part of them. When the smoke cleared, my daughter who is in college started to form her own opinions. This summer she said, “mom you must absolutely hate him.” And I said, “I feel an extremely strong negative emotion when I am with him and prefer to avoid contact as the feeling is unpleasant.” And she replied, “So you hate him.” And I said, “It doesn’t matter. For you college graduation or wedding or whatever big events like in the future…it will be like it always was. I will be paying more attention to you than him.”

            • If you tell someone, under no circumstances can you eat these cookies and you repeat it over and over, you’ve pretty much assured that the person is thinking of those cookies.

              Let how you live your life speak for you. Your choices will speak for you. Build a cheater-free life. That shows kids how you feel about cheater. And when you begin to date again, and you tell the kids about that process, you can–quietly and actually matter-of-course–tell the kids you put character first: honestly, kindness and fidelity.

        • It takes two people to make a healthy marriage. It takes one person with a stick of dynamite to blow it to hell. Your children haven’t learned that and they don’t want to face it. If they did, they’d have to face the fact that their father is a fuckwit. That means that their entire life’s image of their father is going to get blown up.

          Unfortunately, I don’t see any way for your sons to feel differently until they experience this from their father. It may be that they never get to see that their father has crap for morals.

          That said, I think I would let them know that while you don’t care if they see their father, that they don’t need to keep the fact that they’re seeing him a secret. This, to me, seems to be the lesson they need to learn. They don’t need to tell you they’re seeing their father, but they don’t need to hide it from you either.

            • Dear ClearWaters,
              I can only imagine how hard it must be to see your adult children maintaining a relationship with your ex. I’m just at the beginning of that process and have an inkling of how that will likely feel, since my kids (ages 8 and 17) are very bonded with my STBX. But I also know that children of any age are unlikely to be honest with their parents if they suspect they will hear a lecture.

              Even though I’m sure it’s unbelievably difficult, I will endeavor not to comment whenever my kids tell me about the time they spend with STBX (unless of course something seems to have crossed a line), so that they know they can be honest with me. If they need to process, that’s fine, as long as their processing is driven by them. I would far rather have my kids feel they can be honest with me than feel that they need to keep things from me for fear of hurting my feelings or getting lectured. If necessary, I will remind myself that my kids didn’t choose this situation either and are making the best of it.

              I agree with CL above that the real issue here is one of control. We can’t control our exes, or our children (esp. adult), or their relationships with one another. We can only control ourselves, and our own responses. But exerting healthy self-control (and related boundaries) can be really powerful, and an excellent tool for opening lines of communication with our loved ones, including adult children. They need to see they can be safe to discuss their own process with us, without judgment, just as we need to be able to discuss our process (with others, not our kids!) without judgment.

        • You know what won’t help?

          You harping on about their dad I KNOW YOU SAW HIM AND TRIED TO HIDE FROM ME.

          They’re stuck with him as a father. Guarantee he pulls that card all the damn time. If they have to deal with his narcissism and then have to deal with you bashing him, they’ll turn on you. Because you should know what sort of person he is and what it’s like having to deal with him. You’re supposed to be the good one and instead every time they see their father they also have to worry about your reaction.

        • I share your fear that my kids are normalizing their dad’s behavior–I love your word “banalize.”

          Having been divorced for 8 years (kids in mid to late teens now), I see this as a roller coaster ride. I’ve seen periods of “Dad’s great” and the lows of “not answering Dad’s phone calls for a couple months.” Dad is currently looking good (no rules at Dad’s house!) and my anxiety is on the upswing. I am disappointed at how easily they seem to be reeled back in, but I know better than to try and explain or justify or argue about their perceptions of Dad.

          For years we had a big reproduction of a Norman Rockwell painting in our house. (Not the iconic holiday one referenced by CL, though). The irony of this has not escaped me.

          One thing I’ve become better at noticing over the past few years is that intact families do not insure happy, healthy kids. My friends with kind, reliable spouses have teenagers with “issues” too. It is easy to idolize the thing we don’t have.

      • You are completely right that kids deserve to chose to have a relationship with Mom and Dad. The only issue I would have is if they started lying about it. That would be unhealthy and would need a discussion about why they felt they needed to.

        • They don’t lie about it, but they omit the fact, probably to not hurt me and to avoid my comments. BTW, one son has “come clean” about the fact that their father is with them and I told him, well, don’t tell me any thing else and keep even shadows out of any pictures you send me.

          • This might be a very good thing. They aren’t triangulating. And it means that they likely respect your privacy.

    • If our kids are small and we have concerns that would interest Child Protection (physical abuse, neglect, driving the kids while drunk …), then yes, we need to have some idea what’s going on at the Other Parent’s house.

      Otherwise, for older kids, adult kids, or less dangerous parenting offenses such as being a dickwad, jerk, or twat, manipulations, emotional abuse, etc, keeping an eye on what happens when the kid is with the Other Parent is NOT the most effective or helpful way to help our kids. It’s also not the most effective way to help our kids grow up to be decent people who don’t repeat their cheating parents’ entitlement and asshole-ry.

      What helps the most? Two things;

      LIVE a good life. Be a moral person, be a caring person, be a person who has boundaries and respectfully enforces them (even with our own kids). Talk to your kids about YOUR decisions, YOUR dilemmas, YOUR choices.

      Teach about morality, ethics, life choices, etc through discussions about other people (NOT their cheating parent). Talk about what people in the movies and TV shows they watch are doing, and why, and what their options are, and how they decide, and what the consequences might be. Talk about the people surrounding you all; friends, neighbours, teachers, family members. Point out the difference between ‘niceness’ and genuine kindness. Point out the caring actions and the careless, inconsiderate or harmful ones. Teach them to differentiate words and actions, and which to believe when a person’s words and actions don’t match, using examples from all around them – but NOT their other parent. Ask your kids how they are impacted by the behaviour and choices of their friends, teachers, coaches etc. Ask your kids what they think about other people’s behaviour (not the other parents’).

      Of course, also teach your kids to think about how they themselves behave, their motivations and feelings, and the impacts their behaviour has on the people around them and their relationships with those people. Teach them how to set their own boundaries, have difficult conversations, and yes, how to ‘cancel’ people who have consistently shown they deserve that.

      The advantage of taking this approach is that;

      – the kids don’t feel they have to defend the cheating parent, or hate them because you do
      – your kids learn LIFE SKILLS they will need EVERYWHERE and ALWAYS, not just with their cheating parent
      – the kids WILL reach their own conclusions about their cheating parent, based on cheater’s BEHAVIOUR towards the kids, both pre and post divorce.
      – no accusations of alienation can be supported (they’ll still be made, because hey … narcissism!)
      – the kids’ conclusions will be much more solid, because they will be THEIR OWN

      • 👏👏👏👏. 100% agree! I have 6 kids — oldest is in her 30s, youngest is 15. The moral guidance happened in mid-childhood. Since puberty I teach and lead by example. No badmouthing others, especially the father that I bred with and chose as their parent! That, imo is not appropriate and if more than a rare slip, is emotionally abusive and a boundary violation.

        • I found it hard to bite my tongue at first (they knew about the cheating – he introduced them to her before having the “decency” to tell me six weeks later), but eventually I realized he was more than capable of sinking himself just by being him. Now that he lives in the States they rarely see him and speak to him when they want, which isn’t often. It was a different kettle of fish when he lived here as they got an up-close-and-personal view of his behaviour so I let it speak for itself. The youngest knew what he was from the beginning. It took the oldest a while though. Thankfully for me BOTH their wives have his number and won’t take any crap from the ex, so in the end he sunk his own boat – but then I always knew he would!

    • They can have their own relationship with their cheater dad but don’t lie about it. That just perpetuates the lying gaslighting behavior and normalizes it. Spend all the time with fuckwit and his twat just no more lying.

    • I just don’t get this. The children know mommy and daddy aren’t together anymore, why keep up a facade?

      In my opinion, he doesn’t deserve to have the family “stuff” anymore. That’s what happens when you cheat on your family. Consequences arise and that’s one of them. To me, this would be like giving him the cake and letting him eat it to. Children are much more resilient and intuitive than we give them credit for. They know that shit is weird.

  • Oh hell no!

    My kids are 17 and 20 and the cheater’s mother is already trying to make people feel bad about me blocking her on my phone (she sent my son a text message) and Christmas. I do not give a rat’s hairy bollocks if she bought my dad, me and everyone in my family shit…I want nothing, nada, zero, zilch, null to do with her, her son and her abusive, manipulative grand daughter (cheater’s daughter)…me and my fam/friends/peeps are going to do Christmas how we want, no pressure, no anxiety and no freaking abuse in sight.

  • When the Twat ran off with Schmoopie he was quite happy spending Christmas with her and her family. My kids were older but always spent it with me (one still lived at home anyway) and saw their dad later. BUUUUUTTTT when Schmoopie cheated on the Twat and the Twat was ON HIS OWN for Christmas then it was all drama, tears and sobbing. But, I refused to spend Christmas with him, so the first Christmas they spent the morning with me and the afternoon with him. Eventually I told them they were free to spend the whole day with their “poor widdle daddy who couldn’t be on his own” and I would be fine on my own, ‘cos, you know, I actually have a backbone! So one Christmas I did spend it alone. It felt a bit weird/sad for about 30 minutes but then after that I just thought to hell with this, curled up on the sofa with the TV remote and a bottle of wine and had what was probably one of the best Christmases I’ve ever had! The hangover the next morning, probably not so much! So my answer is DO NOT play happy families just because it’s Christmas. The fact that it is no longer “happy families” is all on them!

    • The first Christmas after I left the kid (then 10) spent the holiday with his father. I spent it alone. I binge watched Kill Bill movies, drank margarita’s and ate chocolate in my sweat clothes. It actually was pretty great!

  • Last Christmas was 2 months after D-day and we were still in the reconciliation phase. We had not spent a Christmas together in our home which we had bought about 3 years prior. I went to great lengths to make it the perfect Rockwell Christmas, the first in our new house. I even had my husband invite over a female work friend to make it more festive.

    My daughter, who was 12 at the time, was not fooled. She noticed that my husband’s gift to me was really for him. The friend and my husband spent the time commiserating over how badly he was being treated because he was going to be fired for impregnating the HR manager who was responsible for his promotion selection process (he failed which is why he was “required” to have an affair to soothe his ego). He spoke endlessly of how they celebrate Christmas in Vienna, home of Schmoopie and his brand new daughter.

    My daughter was not fooled by any of it. She has said dozens of times that he expects to get away without ever facing the consequences of his actions. She also mentioned that while his friend was nice, she could not imagine why she was still friends with my husband. This year, I won’t be having Christmas with the ex. He can go to Vienna with Schmoopie. I really don’t care.

    • Wombat Mom, sweet heavenly days! It will only get better without having to listen to his drivel. I am impressed that you didn’t throat punch those bitches for talking about his infidelity during Christmas in his betrayed wife’s home. There is no bottom to their selfish behavior is there?

      What is it with cheaters and giving gifts that are intended for themselves? I was given a big screen smart tv for Christmas last year. I don’t watch tv. I was raised without tv and just never enjoyed it. So asshole bought me a tv. When I told him I didn’t want it he said he would give me the $200 he spent on it. I looked it up and he had spent at least a $1000 more. He got a new tv and I got cheated. Then there was the year he gave me a shotgun.

      This year I will he cheater free and it will be a merry and bright Christmas! I think your house will be better than ever without that fucker.

      • He sounds a bit thick if he thinks giving you a shotgun is a good idea!

        Yeah, the cheater likes to normalise his affairs (turns out they were continuous over the 20-year course of our relationship.) I went to lunch with him and another female work friend which was supposed to be part of our reconciliation. The first inappropriate bomb he lobbed was piping up that he had just been to Vienna to see Schmoopie and the baby (this was a detour from the trip he took to buy me some wine). Then the friend started complaining about her failed relationship then mentioned how impressed she was that we were working on our relationship despite our troubles. I lost it. I snapped back that only one of us knew that our relationship was “in trouble”. In reality, the only source of trouble was that the arrival of a baby meant he couldn’t keep the latest affair quiet. I never had any idea we were having trouble. We weren’t. It was just that there was so much cake outside the marriage that he simply could not resist. As long as I never found out, he would have carried on until the day he died.

      • My music-crazy, deaf as a post, tone deaf ex bought me a stereo system for the kitchen one year. I don’t listen to music! Guess who it was really for!

  • Nope and nope!

    Being around my Cheating ex for any length of time would just give me anxiety. I would not enjoy myself and I don’t want to put on a fake game face when I could have a real happy face with just myself and my children.

    I was actually relieved when I didn’t have to “do” for my in-laws anymore. It was no longer a source of contention of “keeping everything equal” for my children and my step daughter. I didn’t have to worry about buying crap for the extended family (because we all know that ex didn’t do the shopping). It was actually a relief to me.

    Last year was my first holiday season without my intact family. It was rough but I am thankful that my family lives here close. This year, I believe I will enjoy the season more and can be “off the clock” while my ex juggles the blended family thing with his ho-worker and family.

  • There is absolutely no way I will ever again spend any time together with my ex-wife for holidays or anything else. I did it before, a couple times, because I felt it was the right thing to do for our child. It’s just one more opportunity for her to present her rainbows and sunshine persona to me. She loves being able to show me how happy she is. Who knows she might honestly be happy. I personally believe that she does that as a way to hurt me.

    I simply can’t fake being happy when she’s around for more than 30 minutes or so. She’ll say something that’ll trigger me and I’ll want to get away, but I can’t. Then I’m stuck with trying to keep my emotions under control for the rest of the time. It makes me look like the one that’s got issues.

    Ex tried to make it happen again this Halloween. She was going to take our kid trick-or-treating in their neighborhood, then come pick me up so we all go trick-or-treating in my neighborhood. I refused to do it. I still have no idea why she didn’t want me to join them when it was in their neighborhood. That seemed a little fishy, but honestly, everything she does is a little fishy. I told her to bring our kid by my place and I would have some candy.

    I made a huge candy gift bag for our kid and gave it to her when they came by my place. Then I got a string of messages afterwards saying that our kid didn’t need that much candy. She actually tried to make me out to be the bad guy, because I gave our kid too much candy!

    It’s always an opportunity to manipulate.

    • They always have to ‘win’ in their beady little heads. A therapist told me once that every contact they have with us is an opportunity to abuse us further.

      • I personally believe they always must have a win/lose result; with the chump always being the loser. I’ve seen it time and time again when trying to compromise with her. I can try to pile on incentives so that her win is sweeter than my win…nope, not good enough. I have to lose. That is her view of love. I have to willingly chose to lose, so that she wins. Apparently, I’m a piece of crap if I’m unwilling to lose when there are several options available where we both can win!

        Her family is exactly the same. I have been asked to do things that were an obvious loss for me. Even when I found a compromise that got them EXACTLY what they were asking for, it was unacceptable. I had to give away and they had to get.

        I guess that’s their way of making the kibbles taste sweeter. IDK

        • I am familiar with this. The only solution is to come up with some loss that is purely symbolic – sign a piece or paper where you admit that you’re at fault for something, but that’s legally worthless; agree to give up an object that she doesn’t know you hate but that you know your XW loves (easy for me because so many things have been tainted by association with her); pretend that she’s successfully forced you to do something that’s not really your responsibility when you were always willing to do it for the sake of the kids.

          I can sometimes get away with things because I let XW send me nastygrams asserting that I’m a bad father and don’t care about the kids, and then I don’t respond. Because she gets the last word she thinks this means I agree with her and she has won; in actuality, this ends the conversation which is what I really wanted in the first place, but she’s unaware of that since she can’t really internalize the idea that I just want her to leave me alone.

          • IG, I know your way keeps the stress level at a minimum, but I can’t do it. Don’t get me wrong…I’ve used it a lot, with great success, for keeping the peace.

            The downside was that it eroded my self worth. I’d rather speak my mind in the nicest way possible. As soon as the attitude comes out, I end the conversation.

  • FFS – It’s the holiday SEASON. You don’t have to get hung up on one particular day.

    Make one or more of the days after your usual Thanksgiving YOUR day. Or Boxing Day. Or New Year’s Eve/Day or anytime in between.

    Tell the kids you want things to be a bit more relaxed and why don’t we try shaking things up a little.

    You don’t need to spend any more of your precious time with a Fuckwit. Regardless of someone’s expectations for photos.

    • Which was my way of saying, “Don’t let other people screw up your holiday with THEIR expectations. You can spin it out longer than one day and start something new. Don’t let Fuckwits win!”

      It didn’t come through at all in the post above. Sorry about that – it sounded good in my head and I completely got it – but it looked pretty awful when I re-read it.

    • No Shit Cupcakes, I thought it was just fine. I prefer direct succinct communication now. I no longer pussyfoot around worrying if my words are weapons. I had to be mealy mouthed or was accused of being disrespectful. Then I would be punished with the silent treatment or ghosting. I try to think before I call an unrepentant motherfuckering asshole any unpleasant names.

      I’m experiencing my very first holiday with no adult kids. My friend is divorced and her kids are with her cheater that day. We are having a Friendsgiving, followed by crafting in my little tiny craft room. I plan on turkey sandwiches and tomato soup. If the weather is fine we will go hike at a state park. It will be a good day!

      You are right. This is wonderful advice and I am taking it to heart. “You don’t need to spend anymore of your precious time with a fuckwit.”
      No Shit Cupcakes

      • 33, can I come? We don’t celebrate Thanksgiving over here of course, but spending a special day with a friend with easy food, crafting and then going for a hike is my idea of heaven!

        • Attie , you would be welcome. I spent so many holidays working feverishly to make it perfect for HIS friends and extended family. Now I’m doing what I want to do!!!

      • I don’t want any Chump to think I was scolding them!

        I figure there are 364+ Unbirthdays to celebrate, so why not the holidays too?

        Food, fun, hiking – sounds great to me. May the weather mostly cooperate too.

        • No Shit Cupcakes, I’m from the school of “there is no bad weather just the wrong clothes.” I am just determined to have fun that I like. Pleasing myself has become very important to me! I spent decades putting everyone’s needs ahead of mine. No more!!!

        • Lovedajackass, I firmly believe in stretching out the birthday fun. Three weeks is about right! I feel the same way about holidays too.

          I think this is the result of a long career as a military spouse. We celebrated around his career. Kids regularly had multiple birthday celebrations, friends, family, Dad’s finally home and their real birthdays. I always tried so hard so they didn’t feel slighted or neglected.

          Celebrations are what we make them. I’m not letting him take that joy too!Enjoy yourself!!!!!

  • I have a seven year old that still believes in Santa. I won’t get Christmas morning with him. No amount of directions to the land of Meh will make that right.

    • Fearful, can you get creative and broaden the tale of Santa’s presence so you won’t miss out? There’s got to be a story line for a tradition here somewhere about Santa visiting when there are two households…..getting friends to help you pull off a Santa visit on Christmas Eve while you take your child out for dinner?….my heart breaks for you….

      • If you do the German Christmas Eve where Santa brings presents while you are out of the house (my STBHX’s parents are from Bavaria and did this) you will get the magic Christmas present experience…..have friends put the gifts out while you go somewhere with your son for dinner, or for a walk. You have an easy explanation that this is Santa’s idea because you and his father live in separate homes now,

        This is NOT to say you should not feel sad or angry about what Christmas is like now….but a way to make egg nog with the rotten eggs your husband gave you guys…..

        When my father died in 1991, I learned that Christmas traditions could be kept, added or subtracted every year; that I could decide each year what I wanted to do, that how to celebrate didn’t have to be set in stone. I have actually been much happier during the holidays ever since, and years of experience with holiday tradition flexibility came in handy after the A Bomb was dropped…..

      • When my stepkids were little and still believed in Santa, the Dickhead and I celebrated Christmas on Christmas Eve and Santa delivered presents! We were taken to task by his exwife because Santa DOES NOT deliver to two households. We had explained to the kids that Santa knew they would be at two houses and he split the gifts. Looking at it now from her prospective, maybe even as a chump and maybe I was the OW (the Dickhead and her did try a second time aft their divorce but I don’t know the timeline), maybe she was just trying to keep a grip. For me, I just trying to give the kids a nice Christmas because it was my idea in the first place.

    • Well – what about Saint Nicolas?

      For children of the French provinces of the Alsace, Lorraine and the Flanders, Saint-Nicolas is the character who distributes presents on the 6th December. He is the Patron Saint of Lorraine whose people organise large-scale parades in their towns early December.

      In the North-East of France, Saint-Nicolas is often portrayed as a tall thin man with a long white beard, all dressed up in silk garments, carrying a bishop’s mitre and holding a crosier. Saint-Nicolas is traditionally accompanied by a grey donkey carrying baskets filled with biscuits, sweets and gifts.

      When the Dutch migrated to the United States in the 19th century, they took with them the traditions of St. Nicolas (aka Sinterklaas) which gradually evolved into Santa Claus, a moralist character whose duty was to reward good children and punish the bad ones.

    • It really is all about traditions. In Germany it’s traditional to open your present Christmas Eve, not Christmas morning. Doesn’t make one better or worse, just different. Start your own tradition, that’s what your kids will remember.

      • I agree. Your son is still young enough to enjoy the wonder of Christmas, and it comes in a lot of different forms. You can make your own tradition that is never spoiled by his selfish incubator making sure to shut you out.

        I have my kids every Christmas Eve, because that’s our big family holiday. The ex has them on Christmas Day because we’ve already celebrated.

        Can you have your Christmas morning on Christmas Eve morning? ( I won’t lie that it would help steal your ex’s thunder as well.)

      • F&L–There’s no getting around the fact that sharing kids is hard. My heart goes out to you. It’s hard in the beginning to get your footing after the earthquake. And the holidays are one of those unpleasant aftershocks you can’t avoid. I’m 1 1/2 years out from the divorce, and have only now come to grips with the reality that Ex will have the funds to fly my kids anyway and everywhere for holidays. Yesterday, my 23 year old daughter asked for her Delta information, and I could send it to her without asking or even wondering where she was off to next. But it took a lot of work to get where I’m at.

        Totally agree about traditions. My grandmother was German, so we always opened presents on Christmas Eve. It might also help that you get to open presents first with your son. I also had the opportunity to live in Germany, and even though I’m not Catholic (we lived in the Catholic part of Bavaria) I incorporated some of their wonderful traditions into mine. As noted above, St Nicolas Day–I would have my kids put out their shoes and fill it with candy on December 6 (also helped that my son is Nicolas). There’s also Three Kings Day on January 6, where people would dress up as the Three Magi and come to your house to write your yearly blessing above the door. There’s always Whitsunday–held on the seventh Sunday after Easter. How cool would it be to have two Easter celebrations? Not sure what your heritage is, but maybe you can explore that with your son as to make your holidays together extra special.

        • You could also have special holidays on the days that are your for sure. My ex gets the kids on the first and third Wednesdays thru Sundays of the month, so I cant do St. Nicholas Day on December 6th this year. So, I think we’ll do it on the second Saturday of December, which will always be mine and I can also have something for my older kids, grandkids that day too.

          Maybe you can have Christmas morning on a day like that?

          • You all are right, I can make new traditions. And I know I’m not the first parent, or last unfortunately, to go through this. These are all wonderful ideas.

            It just sucks extra right now cause the ex is in total Disney dad image control mode. This is going to be the “Bestest Christmas EVER!” dont ya know. This coming from the man that said being “tied down” with family responsibilities made life stressful and boring and was one of the reasons he HAD to cheat.

            • Disney Dad’s are the worst…..but YOU will always be the mom and your son loves you with all his heart. My best Christmas memories are when 15 people crammed into a two bedroom house with one bath–that’s what’s important. I’m trusting what my therapist constantly says, “the kids will figure it out”.

              Have a plan when your son is with the A**hat, so you’ll spend less time thinking about them. Occupy your mind by going to a movie–make it a comedy to laugh. Get outside and take a long walk to clear the cobwebs, maybe listen to an audiobook about how life will get better.

              That way, by the time your son comes back home, you will be the happy smiley mom. That’s the best tradition for you both.

              Hugs.

    • Fearful-so sorry. Obviously, there are ways to make it a fun holiday but nothing replaces the tradition you had. I get a wave of anger every holiday even while enjoying myself. I don’t think Meh makes one immune to nostalgia and nostalgia can bring a sense of loss. I hope you have friends and family to help ease the pain.

    • My parents are divorced and my dad is a cheater. They lived 2 blocks away from each other, but mom can’t stand him, and she shouldn’t have to. Anyway, my brother and I would sometimes spend Christmas Eve with Dad, and because he wouldn’t let us go home to mom’s after the festivities of Christmas Eve, we were with him on Christmas morning. Mom always found a way to make sure we had a special Christmas lunch with her on those years we weren’t there for Christmas morning.

      As an adult, I realize that it was never about spending time with us for my dad. For him it was about hurting mom as much as possible. Because she dared to divorce him.

      Make Christmas special in your own way, don’t let a fuckwit ruin it for you. Your child will realize what the fuckwit is doing when they get older. It does get better.

    • PS, Fearful, here’s a pro tip for kids at school that ruin Santa Claus for kids who believe…

      I told my daughter to ask if the offender had ever seen a million dollars. No? Well, does that mean it doesn’t exist? Sit back and watch their little mind blow…..🤯

      I know there is a Santa Clause because I WORK FOR HIM.

      ❤️

  • Holidays are the hardest time. The kids have their own relationships with their dad. Its one day,
    Incidentally one Xmas, whilst we were together, unknowingly to me, he wanted to be with ow.
    He thought nothing of trying to dump the kids.
    God knows what he told her.
    We split up nearly 7 years ago.
    He said the kids have got their toys, they won’t miss me. What about me, don’t I exist.
    He actually said why they need presents.
    He was always selfish with money.

  • 1. I admitted I was powerless over Christmas expectations from others and they had made my life unmanageable and miserable, which is not how I want to feel at Christmas.

    2. Came to believe in and honor my own Christmas celebration desires, and that they would restore me to sanity.

    3. Turned my will and my life, during the Christmas season, which does NOT begin the day after Halloween, over to Christmas, as I understand it, which is no longer Codependent Misery Christmas Prison, but happy, joyous, and free Christmas which does not include pretending I am friends with the man who took wedding vows with me and stuck a knife in my back and my daughter’s back and blew up our family.

    He didn’t want our family any more so he can go create his own separate Christmas. Our daughter, who turns 13 in January, can participate with him as she wishes.

  • Last Thanksgiving I was invited to adult daughters home. It was an all inclusive cluster fuck of cheaters and their X’s, and the AP’s. I declined. FUCK.NO.

    This year my friend invited me to spend it with her partner, friends and family.

    I have my granddaughter every Christmas since birth. I send out invites a week prior. Disordered are not included. A response is required. Last year her mom decides to ‘drop in’ with her loser boyfriend and his family with a text after drinking and partying at Limited s. I said NO.

    • Doing Me, boundaries are beautiful aren’t they? Keep saying NO to allowing toxic people into your presence. I bet you will have a wonderful Cheater free Christmas.

  • My ex said he wanted to be friends too after the discard and all I could think about was how fucked up He was in the head! Predator pops into my mind. Well I educated myself on narcissism and psychopaths. All thanks to cl and cn. What my gut and all the expert’s were saying about my ex were all true. Sick fuckers. Why would you want to hangout with someone who just abused you? Why would you want to model that disfunction to your children? It creeps me out, way down in my gut. Want to throw up piece o shit cheater.

    Set up your boundaries again. Take back ur power. My ex just tried getting our son again for Thanksgiving because he knew I wouldn’t be seeing my family this holiday because they live in Florida. If I don’t go to a friends house this thanksgiving then I’ll start a new thanksgiving tradition with my son but I am not letting my ex manipulate me out of my time to see my son on thanksgiving. Oh. Plus he said our son wanted to have thanksgiving with his family. I said this is my thanksgiving and iam taking him. I hate teaching him to parent but that’s what you do with an adult child. My ex will manipulate and push on normal boundaries every time because he’s a covert narcissist and will always try to get what he wants. So glad he’s the ow problem now. 😈

    For those of u that need more….

    https://blogs.psychcentral.com/recovering-narcissist/2018/08/research-finds-that-narcissists-try-to-remain-friends-with-their-exes-for-darker-reasons/

    https://kimsaeed.com/2015/04/13/narcissists-and-the-lets-be-friends-scam/

    https://queenbeeing.com/narcissist-wants-friend-discard/

    Protect your self and model sanity to your kids this man or woman abused u. They don’t deserve to be in your life anymore.

  • Lots of families have one Xmas eve dinner party, and then Xmas morning and a bigger Xmas day dinner with extended family. It’s often easy to split it up and do Xmas eve with one, then ship them to the other place for Xmas day.

    I suggest taking eve. You get peace and quiet to clean up after and ex has to clean them up to present them to the extended family.

  • I have to confess that I enjoy it when my ex drops by on Christmas morning, or one of our adult kids invites us both. The still-married OW is long gone, across the country where she lived when his true-love-soul-mate discovery took place. Now the sad sack broken down fool can see what he gave up.

    • I have to say Leslie, the OW made it clear she wanted everything that was dear to me including fitting into my family, said she now was a grandmother to my granddaughter. My setting boundaries and keeping them was the model granddaughter follows. Nanthony wasn’t invited to her graduation or the party. She also declined her mother’s birthday party.

  • The last Christmas I ever spent with the cheater (before dday), he demonstrated how he really felt about this family occasion via triangulation. I found out later he had re-gifted me something from schmoopie and the only things he asked me for were things she suggested he get. So he had me out scouring stores for hard to find items just to please his whore. He must have had fun laughing at me about that. Then there was the first Christmas spent with our new grandchild, whom he made such a fuss over, but during which he texted his creepy bitch while his grandchild, daughters and I were in the room! He shat all over his family and Christmas in too many ways to count.

    Not only will I not celebrate it with him, I no longer celebrate it all. It is too triggering. Perhaps that will pass in time, but for now I am not going through that pain for anybody, and anybody who would demand I do is a selfish asshole. I exchange gifts with the one person who was supportive of me following dday. That is my youngest daughter. The ones who blamed and shamed me can go choke on bone-dry fruitcake. No, I have not forgiven. It would help if they acknowledged wrongdoing and apologized, but chances of that are slim to none.

    Don’t celebrate anything with these abusers. They lost that priviledge when they chose to do you harm and break up your family.

  • Playing happy families when you’re divorced is gaslighting and sending children (and everybody else) mixed messages. Also, this idiocy is a new invention. In the recent past, people didn’t do it.

  • I am fortunate that my X Asshat abandoned me when our daughters were already adults. They had lived through OW#1 as young teenagers when he asked them if he could move out of the house for a while. Yep, he asked our daughters to make the decision for him because he wanted to go fuck around on Mom. They were horrified and cried and will never forgive him for that whole episode. 9 years later he poofed on me for OW#2, lying about it all the way and using my daughter’s teenage Conflicts With Mom as a prime reason why they could all amputate me, making them feel responsible for the failure of their parents’ marriage. OW#2 is a chick the eldest daughter’s age.

    With all of this drama the abuse of OW#1 all came rushing back to them and they absolutely loathe him. He missed both of their college graduations that first summer and tried to force the little twat chippy down their throats as someone they would really like if they got to know her, you know– this person who Means Nothing and Is Just A Friend I Can Assure You. They were having nothing of it.

    And now the dumbass just can’t figure out why his daughters are such “little bitter bitches” and haven’t gotten over it. Not like he ever admitted anything or made amends, but hasn’t enough time passed where he just gets to move along (like Chumpy me allowed him to do for 30 years)? Gee, maybe calling them little bitter bitches was a bad way to approach the situation, Asshat.

    The first Thanksgiving after abandonment he simply assumed they would show up at his bachelor pad and whip him up the traditional feast. Totally presumed and didn’t even ask them about their plans. They ignored it and came home to my house as usual even though it involved travel. They were firmly on my side and have been for every event and holiday since. I am so grateful for that.

    We will continue to be the new family unit, me and my 2 girls and the families they each grow for themselves. I will be involved; the cheating, cowardly, lying Asshat will not.

    I am sure the OW was worth it though. As my daughters and I say when we get sad about what a destructive asshole their father turned out to be we always turn the mood around by closing with, “Yes, but at least he is happy” and laugh through the tears at his profound stupidity.

  • I have my first Xmas this year without my daughter, they are going up to the Scotland to the OW’s parents. Frankly it sucks to be away from your child at Xmas. I’ll get her back around the 28th and we’ll do something then but it’s going to be so hard I know. I have been thinking of people who have lost their children and never get to spend another Xmas with them and being grateful for what I have but the thought of them churning out Happy Xmas for her makes me ill. Just one of the many many shit sandwiches.

    However, I wouldn’t spend the day with him if we were the only two human beings left on earth.

  • I gladly went our separate ways in the holidays, but I did drill the kids not to get into the car if their dad had drunk anything. Although at one point, he got sober, I knew one beer always led to finishing the case.
    I liked the woman who was his next long-termer (not one of his cheating buddies), but I still politely always had an excuse when she wanted to have me attend their Norman holidays. She usually attempted to add a tone of pity that I’d be alone, but I never let her know my plans — nor did I let the kids know because I figured she be grilling them.
    Eventually my ex cheated on her and I was one of the ones she called for support — I was always up for negative gossip about the ex and this is one time I allowed the wall to be breached. Turns out he told her I was the cheater. hahaha This caused me to raise my level of attention to my ex because I didn’t know if the life transition meant he’d fall back into habits the kids couldn’t be around.
    I was always cordial with my ex and whoever the current partner was, stepping in when sensing unsafe behavior. Like the time his partner was clearly sniffing cocaine in the bathroom at events when we were both attending. I sent a letter stating that the kids couldn’t be around her because she was a bad role model.
    These days, we see each other occasionally at grandchildren events. He found god at some point and married the church secretary at some point. I wondered about his being allowed to marry in this church because the pastor broadcasts on the radio about marriage is until death. I think they recently celebrated 20 years of marriage. My adult daughter clued me in. He was given permission to marry the church secretary because I cheated on him and that broke the bond of marriage. I laughed out loud when she told me, but still didn’t tell my daughter any details. So he married with a lie. My daughter was more upset thinking that her step-mother thinks I’m a cheater.
    I wouldn’t say that we’re one big happy family — we’re one big civil family sharing some of the same goals as we age.
    We have an adult disabled daughter and we’ve had to spend a lot of time in lawyers offices and in state offices getting us lined up to support her after our death. We have a parentless grandchild that we are both willing to pay for college for; we split the cost of school tuition and daycare and karate lessons, so we tend to know things like how we intend to support her if we pass on.

  • It’s been 5 years out for me. The Christmas we separated he invited himself to my fathers house. He had to be there or he would keep my children from attending. They depended on him finically so he showed up.

    Everyone politely had to ignore his constant texting and pretend we didn’t know what he was up to.

    Then we had to move to the table for dinner. I took pictures of my children and nephews. I also took one of him. Looking at the picture later his face was twisted in some kind of rage.

    The reason I am writing this is when I married him he came across as the worlds nicest guy. Looks good on paper but deeply hidden underground life I didn’t know about till I was divorcing him.

    Now he meets with his kind. His level. That’s the difference. The low level of these women know part of his secrets but I’m sure on some level they regret it but hang on for the benefits.

    So remember that on the ex’s. They are with their own level.

    It takes time to readjust so practice breathing techniques to get rid of stress. Breath deeply in 5 seconds. Hold 5 seconds. Blow out to release for 5 seconds. Repeat to keep mind focused and calm. No one knows you are doing this. It keeps you calm.

    Peace out. It gets better.

  • I divorced when my children were adults so I didn’t have to do drop offs or pick ups during the holidays. On Christmas, they spend time with their dad on Christmas Eve, then the have breakfast with me on Christmas morning and go with me to see my sister and parents Christmas afternoon.

    At some point in our marriage, Thanksgiving became all about his family. We went to his parents house every year, no alternating; The. End. He pretty much imposed that will on both of our kids after our divorce so they sometimes go to his mother’s house for Thanksgiving and sometimes blow him off. I spend it with my family and always extend the invitation to them without any expectation of them coming. Sometimes they take me up on it, sometimes they don’t.

    There is literally nothing I miss about spending the holidays with him or his disordered wing, nut family. I don’t begrudge my children spending time with him but I don’t ask questions and they don’t offer any information. This is fine with me.

    I love the holidays now and cherish the time I have with my family. The way I see it, hanging around with a cheater after divorce is just inviting triangulation, the opportunity to be used some more and the potential of hoovering if things in schmoopieland are going south. No thank you very much. There is no need to eat a shit sandwich for the holidays after you’ve dumped the cheater. My diet was full of them during wreckconciliation and pick me dancing and I’ve lost my taste for them. For Good!

  • I tried one Christmas together after separation but before divorce. It was at his Moms house with all the siblings and grandkids, not literally on Christmas Day, but grandmas Christmas is done on New Years Day. We, meaning everyone but the X, had a great time. Snowball fights, video games, cooking, laughing, etc. for 3 days. X probably missed Schmoopie too much. He stayed in the basement or worked on his car in the garage just like before we separated. He entered the house to get his gifts and see our kids unwrap quickly and returned to his cave.
    I’m not doing that anymore. It was just sad that he’d ignore his whole family because I was there. He asked me later about being friends and being together for holidays and birthdays and such. Are you kidding me? Not with how bad that one turned out.

    Now the thing about holidays is there’s plenty of time for families to have gatherings on different days. You gotta get your head off of celebrating on THE day. What’s important is time together no matter what day it falls on. Have Christmas the weekend before. Do it on New Years. Take turns. The Christmas Spirit of all holidays is not limited to December 25th.

    Just take time, whenever you have them near, to hold them close and let them know they’re loved.

  • I think it’s important to think deliberately and act creatively with Christmas. A Norman Rockwell or Hallmark movie Christmas is an invention that has caused a lot of pain to a lot of people.Kids, especially, need alternative models rather than watching everyone try to miserably shoehorn themselves into an unnatural pattern that everyone can see does not fit. Invent your own traditions based on your values, and include the kids in planning, so they can see themselves reflected in your activities. Far better than forcing them into all around painful situations because “we’re have to do this because the grandparents want it,” which only trains them to give in to emotional blackmail.

    Christmas was always a disaster in my family of origin: my father would engage in one of his regular suicide attempts, my aunt and uncle, who were alcoholics, would drink heavily, my grandmother would radiate unhappiness and the need for centrality (no wonder she and my father, narcissists alike, disliked one another). When I moved many states away it was such a relief to be free of that dysfunction (until the Christmas my father actually did kill himself).

    Christmas with my now-ex wasn’t always great, either, as I was expected to go along with the traditions in his family, which were governed by excess and obligation. Everyone had to provide everyone else with lists, because of course no one should be expected to know or to care enough about anyone’s lives to be able to pick something out that you just knew would be appreciated. My ex’s father, who had run out on his family by taking up with a grad student, leaving his children in the care of their verbally abusive alcoholic mother, used expensive presents both to “demonstrate” and buy affection (and pretend he hadn’t done anything wrong). My sister-in-law turned her own Christmases into over-the-top mirror images of the deprivation she’d suffered. And my ex chased the approval of both, so he regularly spent much more than our budget could afford–for presents for his family. I used to include a few inexpensive items I thought each person would like–that reflected their interests–in the boxes we sent to his family, but more than once my ex simply sent the box out without telling me about it.

    Last Christmas was the first one after my divorce, and it felt important to me that I do what felt right to me, so as to prove to myself that I was not destroyed by my ex’s actions. I called a woman friend who I knew would be out of town for Christmas and asked if she wanted to go tree shopping with me, and we bought a big (real) tree, and she and I loaded it onto the car and then carried it together into the house and set it up in the stand. After, we had dinner together. I also hung lights, because to me Christmas is a seasonal holiday–evergreens and lights–and my adult son came over to decorate the tree. He came for Christmas dinner, too, because his father was away visiting his own ailing father. It was (and is) important for me for my son to know that despite the divorce we two remain a family.

    This year, I am the one away from home, as I have re-located temporarily to help my own aging mother. I’m going to miss my son terribly; it will be the first time in his 30 years we haven’t had Christmas together. But this is our life this year, so we will just have to make do, and make up for it when I’m back home or he can get leave from work to come out to visit.

    • I love this post ^^^. So accurate and real.
      “intact”- such a manipulative myth. Encouragement to give the finger to all holiday constructs- it’s so liberating.

  • Ok you who have been here for a while have heard my Olive Man story before. The first Christmas the ex announced he would be “returning home” and spending Christmas Day with us because “the kids want it”. Biggest mistake!! It was a truly miserable day which I subsequently apologized to my children for. They didn’t really want him there( just another of his fairy tales). He bought our son beautiful linens because he hadn’t had a chance to try to win him over to his narrative. Our daughter had called him out on his abusive behavior toward me so he got her a jar of olives and a small Starbucks gift card. By the way she hates olives. If he had paid any attention to his children while they were being raised by me he would have known that. And of course Schmoopie did all the gift buying because he was a deadbeat. Anyhoo, he tried to act like it was a normal Christmas even butting in to make gravy and trying to hold my hand and trying to put his arm around me ( ewww get away!). I ended up crying on the sofa. It was the worst Christmas ever. He ended up walking out before dessert without a word even to our kids, texting me that he knew when he wasn’t welcome. No shit Sherlock!!! Peace at Christmas abounds now.. no wackjob to deal with.

  • I don’t even know where to begin but I will never do the Christmas Day get together with her ever again. Last year we went and got “The Family Tree” and that was just a shit sandwich. I was 7 months out from the final D-Day.
    On top of it all our 7 year old daughter was born on Christmas. I got to spend a total of 1 hour with my kids. Couldn’t even celebrate with my kids or enjoy my daughters day. I had to be out as soon as possible so she could usher in her boyfriend and his kids. It really hurt and I just laid in bed all day.
    This year I have them on Christmas Day. So it will be just us starting new traditions.

    • Good luck with your new traditions this year. I hope you can make them flexible so that you’ll be able to do them every year regardless of which days you have with them. They are lucky to have a parent like you who wants to make the holiday meaningful for them.

  • Last Christmas I allowed my ex to come over while we were opening presents. This was the only way my kids were going to see their Dad on Christmas or any time over the holidays. It was for their sakes, not his. My parents were there. My boyfriend was going to come but got held up and arrived later after ex had left. My Ex arrived with presents for everyone except me. This included my parents and my boyfriend. I actually found this amusing rather than hurtful. This year I am taking the boys to visit my daughter, their sister, in Scotland for Christmas so ex is just out of luck.

  • Last Christmas my x and I were still doing an in-house separation (as he would not leave). I was taking my kids to my parents for Christmas dinner and he said he had nowhere to go so I decided to be the bigger person and suggested he make brunch for our teenage son. He chose instead to drive to the spa (by himself?). Son is not an idiot so my kids know who has their back (and it ain’t the asshole cheater and I don’t even have to point that out).

  • The last Christmas we spent together before DD she had a plastic surgery procedure on her face that was debilitating. (She was already cheating, I just did not know it yet. Yep, I got stuck with half that bill in the settlement.) I ended up fixing full on Christmas dinner for her ungrateful family. Still upset over that event!
    I would never consider sharing Christmas with her.
    My extended family has a big Holiday shindig and I spend time with my adult children and spouses there. Sometimes they come by Christmas Day, but one is a firefighter and they have their spouse’s families. I consider any time with them to be a bonus. I never pressure them about Holiday plans- I know their sparkly turd mother does.

  • As with every post, this is so timely. I am opening my home to ex, his mother and his child so they can all be part of our baby’s first Christmas. (Dday was the week I found out I was pregnant with our child and after spending my pregnancy in wreckonciliation, I found peace in moving forward as a single mother.) They are staying for seven days…! (I am also bringing the baby to see them for Thanksgiving.) Last night he shared that they will be getting the tree which his mother will decorate, they will be preparing the holiday meal (for my family who will be coming over). They typically don’t spend the holiday together and gather at a separate time. The compassionate chumpy side of me wants to let them have their holiday and traditions, especially for his first child who, to my knowledge, has never had a Christmas day with dad. I also need to set up some boundaries – it’s my home that I pay for fully with no support and I’d like to decorate my own damn tree in my own home. They are guests in my home! I will be working over the next few weeks on how to set up boundaries, reclaim joy for myself and baby and reflect on the things to let go of. Wishing you all well over what can be a complex and emotional time of year.

    • Are they staying in your home for 7 days? That would try the patience of a saint. What is his mother like? Don’t put yourself through stuff that you don’t need to,

      • Indeed they are. In many ways, I am looking forward to it and creating a festive holiday for the baby. I want her to know both sides of her family and she is always around mine. I really enjoy his son and have a cordial relationship with his mother. It’s not lost on me that she is loyal to her son, but she’s not a pot stirrer. I have managed to get on fine with my ex, too, when we have had to be around each other in-person – it’s his preference to avoid any and all conflict and real discussion. It frustrated the hell out of me when we were in a relationship until I realized that the circular discussion was a strategy and I was looking for understanding and remorse that would never manifest. He lives a very compartmentalizes existence, protecting certain areas of his life from intersecting, and grey rock has been my friend. I don’t ask questions that I know will lead down a wormhole of drama, hoovering or his default – lies.

        I have to face the reality that I am looking for a level of appreciation or respect that will never come and I need to stand my ground so I don’t leave the week feeling like I have been taken advantage of. I have a big heart and good intentions – it is hard to find the right setting when you are accustomed to being generous of spirit and then find yourself retracting following a betrayal. I don’t want to be steamrolled and in my home, my safe space. Healthy boundaries is something I am working on in all areas of my life. Advice and books/articles on the topic are welcome.

        • Energizer Chump, why would you do this to yourself? You do not owe those people anything. Put yourself first. A week like that would drive Mother Mary insane. Which might be their plan.

          You sound like a lovely kind person. Be kind to yourself and remember; “No is a complete sentence.”

          Why do you want your child exposed to the toxicity that bred your cheating ex-husband? I think they aren’t good people just by their comments about their plans in your home? Who does that? Who says We will be buying and decorating your tree! We will be cooking the meal! Selfish, toxic people who are diminishing your role in your child’s life.

          There is still time to tell them “No”. Don’t do this to yourself or your child. I know you would like that Hallmark Moment Christmas. Which you can have with your home free of your lying, cheating ex-husband and his FOO.

    • Oh EnergizerChump, I’m just stunned! just an idea….hotel and say the bedrooms you were going to have for them are under construction? water damaged? out of commission so they will have to stay somewhere else overnight, the house that is your home is yours alone therefore YOU alone get to allow guests into your home. Take heart and strength from all of us in Chump Nation and just tell them NO, you cannot stay here. Then send a list of local hotels. As far as the “meal” they want to prepare, sounds like they just want to hoover up as many kibbles as they can by saying…”look what we did for her” Suggest they can host a dinner at a restaurant instead. My kitchen is my domain, no fucking way would I let his narc mom come into my home to cook dinner….just to show off. good luck, be strong, and kick that shitshow to the curb.

    • Are you out of your mind? Seven days? They decide the decorations and the menu in your home? This isn’t chumpy. This is nuts. What are you trying to demonstrate? If he wanted to have Christmas with you and the baby, you wouldn’t be a single mother.

    • Dear Enerigzer, I couldn’t spend 7 days with my even FAVOURITE relatives without getting ratty and feeling suffocated (but that’s me), and they would never impose themselves for that long unless I begged them to and owned a multimillion dollar mansion. Maybe you’ve forgotten how toxic people love to crush your dreams. They are not coming to make you happy. They are coming to get their hooks into the baby and watch you running around like a servant at their beck and call. And waiting for you to “do it wrong.” I hope it works out for you.
      Boundaries include making sure you are protecting yourself, and I’m not seeing that here. Invite them for a day, and see how that goes? They ought to be willing to earn your trust, after screwing you over. They do not deserve this, and neither does your child.
      Please build in ways to protect yourself. Have an exit plan for when they start to make you feel like you can never be good enough. Sorry, to say this, but this plan reeks of perfectionism and illusion. And narcissists love illusion. They are masters at it. Take care of yourself and your baby, because you will NOT know what’s going on. It may increase your confusion and cause exhaustion and depression. Yes, I’ll be a wetblanket on this one. 20 years of never good enough Christmases, where I was always left sad, demoralized and exhausted in the background and underfoot like the doormat I was. No matter how hard I tried, and how perfect I actually made things!

      • Thank you for taking time to share advice. I am taking it to heart and it is helpful to have other perspectives. Cheater’s mother and son aren’t imposing people, but he is and you are all right. I need to stand my ground, guard my space and say no. You have given me a lot of good points to reflect around. I grew up with dysfunction myself (one abusive parent and one absentee parent). I’m trying to be the strong, stable parent for my baby and recondition myself, and the behaviors I developed over a lifetime with dealing with toxic people. I am grateful for a community that leans in and gives constructive and tough, but necessary advice.

        • Good for you Energizer! Loved ones and people who love you will usually back you up even if you change your mind. They can see what’s right, or in your interest, and even if they are disappointed they find a way to get over it. I’m saying this because – on the other hand -toxic people will act out when things don’t go their way. And will even plot some kind of miserable revenge that will make you miserable. So what I’m saying is take care of yourself. Make sure there are others around you as a buffer zone so the vengeful vibes can’t get to you. And don’t take any bullship. Hugs to you.

        • Energizer, I just wanted to add; it sounds like you had two goals with your original plan; to be kind to your Ex and his family by including them in baby’s first Xmas, but also to ‘encourage’ that family to maintain a good relationship with the baby, to be close and caring with your little one, going forward.

          But I have to say; this is you trying to control your Ex and his family. You are trying to ‘make’ him be a good father who spends quality time w/your daughter and makes things special for her. You are trying to ‘make’ his mother be a good grandmother who is close to your daughter and present in her life. And you’re trying to make your former stepson be a real brother to your baby.

          I have news that won’t come as a surprise, once you think about this. YOU CANNOT CONTROL THEM. (If you could, he wouldn’t have been a conflict-avoidant manipulative cheater, right?) And likewise you cannot create the ideal family or good relationship with her father that you want so much for your daughter to have. Nor is it appropriate, or good for your daughter, to try to do so. You will be creating an illusion for your daughter – far better for her to live in reality. And you will be teaching her that it is a reasonable thing to try to control others through our own actions.

          You need to let your Ex be the father he actually IS. You need to let his mother and son be who they are. You need to let them cultivate the relationships they CHOSE to have with your daughter.

          Your daughter has a loving, caring mom, and your great family, so she’s already blessed. If her father turns out to be, ALL ON HIS OWN, a good dad, who also encourages a close relationship with his mother and son, YAY! If he’s a lazy, selfish parent, like so many cheaters are, you need to just let that happen. Because trying to control them not only won’t work, it’s a terrible example to set for your daughter.

          • Plus of course, your baby will have NO RECOLLECTION of this event, nor the next Xmas, nor the one after. All that work, all that trying to pull people’s strings, so you can show her photos when she’s older????

  • My crazy mother actually set a healthy pattern for holidays, for the most part. What’s true is that as kids become teenagers, then graduate and go to college or military or move for a job, then marry and have their own kids, there are already so many conflicting needs and schedules that holidays can become a nightmare. I used to HATE it that our holiday celebrations revolved around when XH the substance abuser’s son and family wanted to come to dinner. The year my mother had surgery, she was in the hospital on Thanksgiving Day, raving like a lunatic (dementia patient + narcissism, oh my) and I had been in the hospital all day and half the night. But he insisted that I come home and eat dinner with his kid and the family, instead of just telling them I was dealing with a nightmare mess.

    What my mother did when we were kids was have our family dinner on Christmas Eve, present opening after church, and then everyone was free to do about their business on “the day.” But she lost her mind if one of us wasn’t there. My dad, who loved Christmas, understood that things get in the way sometimes, and I greatly appreciate that he never once pressured me.

    If Santa is still a factor, there is always present opening on the day, but by 8:00 am we always had everything opened. Have a brunch. Celebrate on another day. Change things up–if the kids won’t be with you on the day, you can be elsewhere. And if you live in the city, Chinese restaurants and movie theaters are usually open–and PACKED with people.

    It doesn’t matter whether you celebrate on Dec. 24, 25, or 26. Last year, my sib’s kids and grandkids were sunning in the islands on the day. We got to Christmas when they got back. Find a day that works for you, even if you have to take 2 days off and fly to where the kids are. What you want to do is reduce expectations around 8 particular hours in the year and raise expectations for happiness and fellowship and bonding.

    • Yes to this (LaJ)! Brava! The best family members are the flexible ones, hands down. Which is not to say that we can’t communicate hopes and try to make plans to get people together.

      • I’ve taken that attitude with my friend the Very Kind Man. Neither of us has a living parent, so holidays revolve around siblings and children, in his case. My first priority is the family dinner with my sibs (and whoever shows us). The VKM used to go to dinner at his sister’s, where she hosted a cast of thousands with turkey AND ham. Now his sister has downsized to an apartment so it’s likely he will go to his daughter’s house (new grandchild!). If the times don’t work out, we don’t sweat it because we do our thing Christmas Eve and usually I can got to wherever he’s spending the day for a few hours because my fam’s shindig starts at 5. But we do whatever works. I spent a lifetime accommodating myself to what some man insisted that I do. Never again.

  • We always went camping for Christmas, how I avoided his toxic alcoholic family, as well as my own family drama (everyone turns up late, if at all).

    So this year he mediated to have the big family Christmas with the kids. He didn’t need to, I’m good with not having them on the day, more Quality St for me and don’t have to come up with a fancy camp meal for my fussy kids. I’ll get them the next day, and have a head start on my tan. I view every foul move of his as a gift. Cin cin.

  • If you live in the same city, then find a way to split the holiday so the kids can enjoy both families. That doesn’t mean it all has to be done together.

    The agreement with my ex states that no matter whose weekend it is, the kids are to be shared for the big three – Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. Luckily, both families don’t have overlapping traditions. His always celebrates with brunch on the big day, mine always celebrates with dinner. Kids get both families just like they always did when parents were together and we went to do brunch at one house, then off to dinner at the other house.

    Because my in-laws have been very supportive of me and we are all still friends (plus the OW is not allowed to be mentioned in their presence as they took a very strong stance against the affair from the get go), I will usually go into my in-laws home for a bit to say hi to everyone. I have gifts for the niece and nephew that are my godchildren. I have a copy of the kids’ school picture to give to the aunts and uncles and a gift for the grandparents that I usually have the kids pick out (just a little something). But, I do this because I have my own relationship with all of these family members that has been maintained regardless of my ex’s choices.

    Otherwise, I no longer feel any obligation to celebrate anything jointly with my ex when it’s just us. It’s is just too uncomfortable. Hopefully, that changes in the years to come but I’m not holding my breath.

    When I planned the kid’s birthday parties with their friends, I told him about it and let it be open for him to come participate. Last year (the first year) he came and it was awkward (more for him than for me as he showed up completely hung over for our daughter’s party and I called him out on it). This year, I emailed him about it, sent a copy of the invitation, and got no response whatsoever. Not even an offer to provide the cake or put together loot bags to drop off. Zilch.

    There appears to be an ideal of what a post-divorce/blended family should look like. Look everybody how all of these adults come together out of love for the kids…so many people who love them. WOW!!! But, I think that the ideal is its own unicorn. Sure, it might exist 1 in a 1000. But it’s not what is typically going on. I think it’s especially unrealistic when there are adults in the dynamic who have cheated, manipulated and lied (and in many instances continue to do so because of their impression management). That’s just not an emotionally safe space for those who have been chumped. Those who understand infidelity as a form of abuse would understand how inappropriate an expectations that is to place on a person who has been the victim.

    Just have a wonderful time with your children and your people.

  • My first Christmas was when we were still in the emotional hell of living together, when he was openly dating the last – and current – AP. I took our three young adult kids to my brother’s.

    For thirty years, we had Christmas with his family. I was berated as his mum had MND and died the following February. I “robbed” his mother (whom I loved, and who was supportive of me, BTW) of her last Christmas with the grandkids.

    Real story? None of the kids wanted to be around him. They asked if they could come with me.

    Last year, my first Christmas in my new home, one was overseas, the eldest went to her in-laws, and the youngest came to me, along with my brother and his family driving several days to my new home. This year, we were invited back down south to my brother and SIL’s. I can’t make it as I’m working through.

    The kids have all said they are coming to me. I expressed surprise, no one going to Dad? I know when sparkledick hears this, I will be the worst parent ever.

    And I know I did not ask, did not coerce, in fact expected my 27, 23 and 21 year olds to go to their Dad. This will be their third Christmas spent without him.

    Boo fucking hoo. You made your choices, you have your new, poor fatherless stepkids to impress. Our kids know he puts in with them. Sparkly stepdad.

  • I spent several of my young adult years enduring abuse from across the dinner table at my parents’ place for each and every main holiday. My sibling was the worst, spending the entire event trying to push my buttons and flinging insult after insult. See, I was the “soother of all things” growing up, and I was expected to do whatever it took to regulate the emotional outbursts of my mother and sister; my boundaries, or what was healthy for me was never considered. About twenty years ago now I finally set a boundary; I refused to ever come to another holiday meal if my sister was present. My parents were furious, and blamed me for ruining the holidays. Since that was their attitude, I decided to never go back for another holiday, ever again.

    It is bliss. I spend the holidays with friends, or binge watching Netflix in my Pjs, or taking a road trip. Some years I’ve simply read all day in bed with cups of tea. Not having that stupid Norman Rockwell expectation hanging over my head anymore has been priceless.

  • The thing with the Holiday Season is that it is whatever YOU make it to be, whatever you decide that you want it to be. There are literally no rules, no normal, only what’s normal for you. You define and redefine your traditions within your life.

    The way my life has been, Holiday Season is more like an ongoing party – time for friends, time for family, time for extended family, time for SO’s family (before fuckwit). The point is that it has never been about one rigid day, one dinner. It’s more about spending time celebrating life with people you love and that’s the key. Time with people you actually love and care about. Teach your children that and I don’t think they’ll be worse for wear.

    I actually grew up like that as well. Nothing whatsoever to do with divorce or anything bad. Simply scattered extended family, my parents having a lot of different friends, so holidays were always a whirlwind of going places, laughter and fun with different people, and eating way too much good food. It’s never been about one day. If you can get that out of your mind, it’s rather freeing and lovely.

    So no, don’t ruin your life eating a shit sandwiched with some idea that it’s for the kids. No, nope, nope. Show them joy and flexibility and a holiday season that’s not fixated on a day, but rather focus on the spirit of it – joy, love, gratitude and time with people who are actually good to you, even if it’s just you and your child two days after actual Christmas….it’s still Christmas and the spirit of the holidays, so celebrate that because that’s what matters. Don’t get caught up in the toxic rabbit hole of one day or “I won’t let you….” eff that.

  • I get Christmas eve with the kids and my family, Christmas morning (very early)
    They get ready and go to ex’s house pretty early (10ish?) and then to his family’s that afternoon. And sometimes the New Wife’s family as well. The kids gripe, but they get 5 Christmases, lol – what a tragedy!

    We did do the joint thing at first but New Wife (OW) put a stop to all that. Which is fine, it kept me smoking hopium, even as i denied i had hope. (dont we all?)

    I now enjoy a quiet christmas day with wine and complete control of the remote

    I

  • My ex is taking my kids for two weeks these holidays, I have been feeling a bit crushed about it, then decided to take charge. My Christmas decorations are up, November is the new December and I’m going to make it a great month. I’m celebrating Christmas on the 30 Nov. Gifts, stockings, the works! Can’t wait! ❤️

    • Gee, I salute you. This is exactly the attitude I am trying to embrace in my life. Those motherfuckers won’t ruin your fun. You will be happy and it is up to you to decide how that happens.

      There is a house at the end of the Street where the Christmas lights are shining, the carols are playing and I swear I smell cinnamon and vanilla when I drive by. It is probably you!!!! Go girl! It looks like fun at your house!

      • Attie, I’m glad you enjoyed it. She is a great writer. She balances down-to-earth with great research skills and humour (and horrible experience)

  • Very late reading CL today!

    The first two holidays after the separation my ex came to the house and we all did Christmas morning together. Everybody was civil, but my grown kids, bless them, finally said they couldn’t stand the pretense any more, and could we PLEASE not do that again!

  • So… bc my kids were so young when we divorced and I didn’t want to miss seeing them on Xmas morning I was the one that insisted we spend it together “for as long as they believed in Santa”. This meant rotating years of getting up at the crack of dawn to go over to the other parent-who-had-them-this-year’s house to be there before they woke up to see what Santa left. I even attempted to coordinate gifts. This worked okay for like one year. I guess. Then the next year I had to open extremely ornately wrapped gifts by his on-off-gf that she wrapped on behalf of my kids. That was vaguely annoying. The next year at my house, no worries. Other than it’s not exactly that fun to see my ex at 6 am in my house. The year after, this same gf had been on-off several times (including getting the cops called on her by my ex at my kids school 6 months prior), was sprung on me Xmas morning. After me barely knowing she was even back in the picture at all. Let’s just say I threw a bit of a fit about her (But not in front of the kids of course) being there in her stupid grown adult onesie Xmas pajamas and got the hell out of there ASAP. Last year I had them at my house and ended up issuing him a half-invite after very seriously considering not doing it and knowing I would not be going to his place again for Xmas. he said he’d “let me know”. And then followed up at around 8am Xmas morning to say not this year. Luckily that was what I’d been counting on. That brings us to this year. They will be over there and I won’t be there to see it. But it’s been a letdown every time (or worse) so I will just deal. And I will get them at noon on Xmas and celebrate then. But I do expect to be sad about it Xmas eve. But I should be able to sleep in on Xmas 🙂 the time I spend w them will be pure joy. He won’t be able to mess it up.

  • James, I hope you get to say that to her someday. It’s a good one.
    Those first holidays are horrible. But at least you don’t have to pretend anymore. You can be you. She can have her illusions. What is fantasy is unreal and tends to fall away.
    All the best to you! It’s obvious that your brain works right- and too bad- she is the loser. The kids get to have one very sane and loving parent. And that is HUGE.

  • This will be my first Holiday season post divorce as well. In fact the judge should be signing the papers right around Thanksgiving (Guess what blessing I’ll be counting this year)? My adult children are having a difficult time accepting this, and admittedly it has gone fast (DD was September 9th). It will be hard if I don’t get to see them but I keep reminding myself that good things are to come, we are still a family, new traditions are healthy and it is ultimately their choice if they want to be part of it.

    • Married, your kids may be in a state of shock, this did happen fast. But I sure hope they know exactly WHY you are divorcing, and why you’re moving it fast.

      In my crystal ball I see that by next year things will have really settled down, and you’ll be enjoying your new traditions w/your kids, on whatever day or days work for all of you!

  • Last Christmas after stayed up all night making dinner and cluster feeding a newborn. He left to go visit Schmoopie under the guise that he going to visit his alcoholic father. I remember texting him that he should have taken the kids to see his parents because we don’t know how long they’ll be around…and he actually agreed with me!

  • I pushed myself on and off to share birthdays and holidays with my other abusive, narcissist ex. I finally decided, about 14 years post divorce, that I didn’t have to do it anymore.

    No more snide comments from my ex-in-laws, obnoxious comments from my ex’s kids, who clearly he’s spoken to about me a lot, and being force fed a shit sandwich buffet.

    That’s the benefit of divorce – I’m done with him and his whole shitty stupid family. I no longer have to do that. I don’t think it’s devastating for the kids unless we act like it’s tragic.

  • My ex husband married the OW immediately after our divorce and in the holiday season. He never forced his relationship on the children and let them choose to be a part of not. They chose, “not”.
    It’s 15 years later and they’re still choosing, “not”. I catch a lot of grief over it from many people who seem to have an opinion on the situation. I’ve never asked them to refrain on my behalf. They chose not to accept her as a part of their lives and she is not acknowledged at all. Of course, now ex sees it as my fault. I don’t feel it is my fault at all as he could of forced them to spend time with her from the start but gave them the choice instead. No matter what, he and others see me as the bad person but sometimes you just can’t fix the shitshow and I’ve never felt it was something I needed to fix because it wasn’t my choice to destroy our family. I am constantly told by acquaintances that I need to let it go and be friends. I say, screw that… this was not my doing and problem to fix.

  • Karen,
    Well, then those moms can deal with infidelity, kids acting out and blaming, and the affair partner trying to take their place in that “nuclear family” crap. Oh, and maybe a dash of $12k/year in continued court costs, stalking, and so on (yay post separation abuse!).
    I don’t even want to do parent teacher conferences with the nitwits, fuck holidays with them. I have fun holidays, unlike how the ex loved to wreck things with misery. So what if my kids get two Christmases and sometimes we do it in early January? (Also of note, even when married, we still had to do more than half of holidays on a different day due to ex’s work travel/schedule, and I rolled with it.)

  • I must have made it to the Land of Meh. My adult children check with me before making plans for any holidays or family get-togethers and support me in setting any boundaries I need to around my interactions with my (multiple stripper girlfriends/internet pick ups) ex-. They (and I) recognize his limitations as a human being, but also recognize that there are times when life is easier when we all get along in public and participate in “family” events (weddings, funerals, select (not all) holidays, etc.). Thankfully, he and I were both raised to have good social skills, so we interact much as I would with other family members that I don’t share a lot in common with – very superficially. Yes, sometimes I still choose to take a spa weekend instead of Thanksgiving with the fam. And I absolutely refuse to single-handedly cook a gourmet holiday dinner to place in front of him. But we find a way to make it work for us.

    All I can say is: Listen to your feelings, trust your instincts, and don’t feel one bit of guilt over setting the boundaries that you need to set to feel safe and take care of yourself. PS – I’m 5 years out from D-Day, where I caught him texting with one of his stripper girlfriends on Christmas morning as we opened gifts. Needless to say, I don’t EVER do Christmas with him.

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