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He Left 3 Kids. How Can He Be Happy?

Hello Chump Lady,

10 weeks ago I found out that my husband of 9 years (together 14, 3 kids aged 6,4 and 1) has been having an affair for over a year.

The affair partner (now girlfriend?! Vomit) is a mutual friend who knows me and my kids. It started when I was 6 months pregnant with number 3 and I knew immediately something was wrong, so I spent months desperately trying to get him to talk to me — I thought he was clinically depressed and was comforting him when he was crying.

He was completely distant and unloving towards me, even when I was pregnant and then had a newborn as well as the other two to look after. He starting to go “to the pub” every week, starting when our baby was 2 weeks old (turns out that’s when he started sleeping with her, although it all started with a drunken snog at a wedding a few months earlier).

After months of begging him to tell me what was wrong and turning myself inside out to make him happy and support him, I pushed him for an answer as to why he was driving us into a wall and he said he thought it best if he left so we could just be friends — he couldn’t tell me why, and changed his mind when I shouted at him, told him he was an idiot and threw my phone across the room (but still didn’t tell me about the affair).

He agreed to marriage counselling, but turns out he carried on seeing her the whole time. He told me everything I’d done wrong in our marriage (I worked too hard, didn’t get on with his mum, made him feel guilty for going out, am too independent, am not strict enough with the kids etc etc) and watched me kill myself trying to change and fix things, but he didn’t move an inch. He told me I made him feel bad for going to Glastonbury festival for 5 days (which we used to go to together, got engaged there, ended our honeymoon there – but since having kids he just went with his friends while I stayed at home with the kids), then went there in the middle of all this, leaving me at home with 3 tiny kids (I later found out he had sex with her while he was there).

There were 4 more months after the “I think I should leave” revelation, with him saying he didn’t know if he wanted to save our marriage or not, while I had panic attacks, lost loads of weight, couldn’t eat or sleep — and he did nothing, just carried on seeing her it turns out. He finally told me about the affair in a marriage counseling session by reading out a confession he’d written on his phone — he’d always had feelings for her, this had happened because there were problems in our marriage (problems he didn’t tell me about until he’d be shagging her for nearly a year), maybe something had always been missing between us and he’s found it with her… then he said he still didn’t know what he wanted!

The next day he decided to leave but only because I made him tell me everything, I realised there was no coming back from this and forced him to say what he’d been too much of a coward to say all along. I suspect he was hoping I’d make the decision for him so he wouldn’t have to be the bad guy — ha, too late dickhead! He walked out 3 weeks after our daughter started school, 3 weeks before our baby son’s first birthday, and a month before my maternity leave ended.

The kids are coping okay — my oldest’s first thought was that it would be tough for me (he’s 6), my daughter’s been sad but is getting extra support at school. I’ve been ignoring him since we told the kids he was leaving, and only communicating via email.

I filed for divorce 3 weeks after he left (2 days before my baby’s first birthday) and sent him a proposal as to how I could buy him out of the house (which of course he had ignored). I arranged individual counseling, reached out to friends for support and started to feel strong and like I was moving forwards for a while.

But in the last week I feel like I’ve gone backwards, and my head is just full of all these horrible questions the whole time.

Are the kids going to be ok? How am I going to cope with the kids on my own all the time, am I enough? How am I going to cope when the kids stay with him, when I’ve hardly ever been away from them (I’ve not even had one night away from my baby)? Should I even let him have the baby overnight when he’s still so little? How am I supposed to organise Christmas and access visits when it all makes me feel so sad and I just don’t want any of this to be happening? Why does he get to destroy our family then say he’d like something approaching 50/50 time with the kids (he didn’t see them that much when he lived here) — is it just a case of swapping me out for his girlfriend and carrying on as usual as far as he’s concerned?

The excuses he gave — he always had feelings for her, something was missing with us, there were problems in our marriage — was our whole marriage a lie? Did he just settle for me, have kids and build a life with me because that’s what I wanted, but as soon as she was interested he was gone? Why wasn’t I enough, even when I was pregnant? Why weren’t the kids enough to make him even try to work things out? How could he leave me at home with a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 week old to go and start shagging someone else? Why did he agree to marriage counseling if he was going to keep on seeing her? What the hell is she on, she knows me and my kids but was happy to facilitate the destruction of our family? Is she going to be my kids’ freaking stepmum?! What on earth are they telling people — oh yeah, I left my wife and 3 kids, including a baby, so we could be together — we’re so happy and in love?! He’s got what he wanted — new flat, girlfriend, pretense that he’s father of the year (when none of this is the behaviour of someone who gives a shit about their kids) — but come on, HOW CAN THEY BE HAPPY WHEN THEY’VE DONE THIS?!

I guess there are no answers to any of this, so maybe the question is just how do I make it stop?

Yours sincerely,

Cake Time Is Over, Dickhead


Way to be mighty. YOU filed for divorce. YOU stopped the pick-me dance. YOU are doing the sane parenting for the kids. Let me tell you how this all ends, CTIOD — you win.

I know it doesn’t feel like it now. It feels like crushing rejection and abject terror. But look at how freaking strong you are! In the face of betrayal and abandonment — you navigated your way OUT, with self-respect and dignity. You’re a fucking field marshall. And if you can do THIS — at the worst time of your life — you can tackle whatever comes next. And those battles will be easier really because you won’t have the dickhead dragging you down.

You invested deeply and made three children with him. I get it. But you were a mismatch — you’re a person of substance and strength, a titanium steel alloy — and he’s a dickhead. If character were pasta, he’d be a flaccid egg noodle. He was never your equal.

I’ll answer your existential fuckwit questions.

Are the kids going to be ok?

Yes. Because they have one sane parent — you. Some kids don’t even get one sane parent. You only control your side of the parenting equation, so focus on being their rock and setting a good example.

You’re already doing GREAT. You’re modeling resiliency and strength. You’re not modeling chumpdom and catering to fuckwit entitlement. Parenting is a very, very long game. And there are going to be a lot of stretches that don’t feel very rewarding. (Vomiting illnesses.) But the single most important thing about parenting is showing up.

You know who’s showed up for your three kids and isn’t at a fuckfest in Glastonbury? YOU. You win.

How am I going to cope with the kids on my own all the time, am I enough?

Logistically, no one is all enough. Build a support network, a tribe. Do this in your real life and online. Real life, because you need friends and family to tag team with on child care. And online, because you need a safe place to vent and compare notes. A shout out to the Happy Hausfrau “Porch” Facebook group (it’s closed, ask to join).

Love-wise? You’re absolutely enough. You’re more than enough, because you’re genuine and you show up.

How am I going to cope when the kids stay with him, when I’ve hardly ever been away from them (I’ve not even had one night away from my baby)?

It sucks at first, but you’ll get used to it. Unless he’s endangering the kids, you’ll have to accept his less-than-optimal parenting. (My mantra during those years for my child was, “Just come back alive.”) And when you’re off the clock, practice self-care. Go build a new life. Or flop on the sofa with a book and get some well-deserved rest.

Frankly, my prediction is that a guy who walks out on a wife and three children will NOT be the most invested parent and time alone is probably a theoretical problem you won’t often face. Dipshits like him are quite happy to leave the unglamorous parenting to you and show up for the occasional victory lap, like sports banquets and graduations, where they can play Involved Adoring Parent to a crowd of strangers.

Anyway, document, document, document. Child-share software is your friend. In matters of support and custody, always be clear on what you’re investing and paying for.

Should I even let him have the baby overnight when he’s still so little?

Talk to your lawyer. I’d say no, but I don’t know the law where you live. (And a reminder, I’m not a legal professional, I’m a chump with a blog.) CN can weigh in here.

How am I supposed to organise Christmas and access visits when it all makes me feel so sad and I just don’t want any of this to be happening?

Don’t organize his Christmas or access visits. If you don’t have a custody order yet to abide by, fuck him very much. You do what YOU want for xmas! He doesn’t like it? Oh that’s right, you don’t appreciate being abandoned with three children.

When you have a court order that spells out holidays, you must follow it. You’re still in the grey zone of divorcing a fuckwit, however, so make your holiday bright — ignore him.

Never EVER organize their time. That’s THEIR job. He doesn’t show? Doesn’t care? That’s on HIM. You’re the sane parent. Sane parents don’t take responsibility for the insane parents. We’re SANE, not co-dependent.

Why does he get to destroy our family then say he’d like something approaching 50/50 time with the kids (he didn’t see them that much when he lived here) — is it just a case of swapping me out for his girlfriend and carrying on as usual as far as he’s concerned?

Because he doesn’t want to pay child support. That’s the usual 50/50 fuckwit ploy.

Again, DOCUMENT and FIGHT this. See upthread. He doesn’t want childrearing responsibility. That’s what his behavior says.

The reality of three children 6 and under is chaos. Sticky, loud chaos. And potty accidents. It casts a pall on Schmoopie love. I seriously doubt he’s swapping you out for a New Family Life with Schmoopie. He appears to want zero responsibility.

The excuses he gave — he always had feelings for her, something was missing with us, there were problems in our marriage — was our whole marriage a lie?

They’re excuses. What’s he going to say? “I’m a human wart. I have no soul.”

He has no depth. No real attachment to anything or anyone. His “feelings” for the new shiny are about as deep as his feelings for a pint of beer or his newborn child. No one matters that much. The only thing that matters is HIM.

That’s what his BEHAVIOR says. He doesn’t bond. Who walks out on three small children and a wife? The guy is a monster of shallowness.

Did he just settle for me, have kids and build a life with me because that’s what I wanted, but as soon as she was interested he was gone?

You are a PRIZE. A titanium steel alloy of strength. A mother of three. If he — a WART — thinks he “settled” for you? Fuck him very much.

And who cares what he thinks? You don’t measure your self-worth by warts.

Why wasn’t I enough, even when I was pregnant?

No one is “enough” for someone who’s a bottomless pit of need. There isn’t enough kibble production in the world to feed that ego. Newsflash — Schmoopie isn’t enough for him either, whatever the impression management says to the contrary. (All those “happy” pictures on social media.) She’s the next idiot to pick me dance for him. Take yourself — and your kids — out of the equation.

Why weren’t the kids enough to make him even try to work things out?

Because he’s a horrible person. He was never going to work it out. He’s not capable. He’s a man who cheats on a pregnant wife. He’s a front bencher in hell.

How could he leave me at home with a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 week old to go and start shagging someone else?

Because it’s probably not the first time he’s been shagging someone else while you’ve been raising kids. It’s the first you know about. (Sorry, I read a lot of these stories. And anyway, it doesn’t matter, because one Schmoopie is enough damage.)

He could leave you at home, because he’s NOT CONNECTED. He doesn’t BOND. And his conscience doesn’t operate because it’s non-existent. Don’t project connection and shame where it doesn’t exist. That vapid man-child mirage you see before you? Yes, he’s just vapor. You just thought he was solid. You’ll still grieve the mirage.

Why did he agree to marriage counseling if he was going to keep on seeing her?

Because cake is delicious and your pick-me dance gives him a hard-on.

What the hell is she on, she knows me and my kids but was happy to facilitate the destruction of our family?

She’s high on I’M SPECIAL ego kibbles. And yes, her furtive orgasms mean more to her than you and your three kids.

Is she going to be my kids’ freaking stepmum?!

No idea. But this isn’t going to end well for her. Either she’ll have to supply an endless amount of shiny kibbles for Mr. Easily Distracted (impossible) or be a smorgasbord of pussy (impossible) or spend her life pick-me dancing (possible, but miserable). There are no good outcomes.

But this isn’t your problem. You get to focus on YOU and the kids. She really, really did not win a prize.

What on earth are they telling people — oh yeah, I left my wife and 3 kids, including a baby, so we could be together — we’re so happy and in love?!

Here’s a litmus test for who sucks — whoever thinks “I left my wife and three kids so we could be together” is a love story? Sucks. Adjust your social register accordingly.

He’s got what he wanted — new flat, girlfriend, pretense that he’s father of the year (when none of this is the behaviour of someone who gives a shit about their kids) — but come on, HOW CAN THEY BE HAPPY WHEN THEY’VE DONE THIS?!

Their “happiness” is about as deep as their unhappiness. THEY AREN’T DEEP. They traffic in kibbles — cheap flattery, adulation without accomplishment — not love and connection. Don’t mistake kibbles for happiness.

She’s supply. Blowing up his life is a nice distraction from his essential immutable fuckwittedness.

And a warning — you and the kids can be supply again. So SHIELDS UP. Don’t be his “friend” (aka auxiliary kibble source). Divorce him and look forward.

If he ever wonders some day why his life is meaningless and his kids hate him, go to the pub and raise a glass to your mightiness. Better yet, take the kids to the Glastonbury festival.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Good for you!! You had the strength to let him go. My dear that’s definitely mighty. I admire you, remain strong. You will be fine. I know me saying that problem seems so far fetched. But you will be!! Raise your kids, focus all your energy in them, not him. As for court, I went for soul custody, with visitation rights of course, and child support. My ex cheated as well. I presented that in court said it caused me significant distress, make sure you get a good lawyer who will be willing to fight. He walked away, he was having this affair, he turned his back, he ignored his family needs, hmm….sounds like abandonment to me!! Take all that to court dear! Don’t hold nothing back and don’t feel bad. You’re doing it for your babies. Who cares about him, who cares how he’ll try to make you feel bad, don’t fall for it. Fuck him!! Reason why I went for soul custody is because I didn’t want him to have no say in my children’s lives. Custody was shared. But in all honesty he never cares if he saw them or not. Which I didn’t care. Now my daughters are grown one is 22 the other 18. The younger one doesn’t care to speak with him, they now understand things and they are fine. In university and doing great! o don’t worry you’re strong, be strong for your children, do what you have to do for them and don’t even worry if he’s coming around or not. My daughter communicate with him now, if they chose to, I have no contact now that they are grown. He never payed child support. Even though there was a court order, so now he’s paying back they are garnishing his wages and he can’t leave the country. Lol. We’re in Canada. So live be happy and your children will be fine. Fuck him cuz he didn’t think about any of you guys when he was banging that dirty bitch. They will get what’s coming, you just do you.

    • Sorry I made a mistake there. I meant to say custody was not shared. Instead of custody was shared cuz I went for and got full custody. He did get visits.

      • Woohoo for being mighty, Magdalena! I’m glad you’re able to give great advice. My children were in their late 20s when I divorced the fuckwit so I’m unable to chime in. I’m glad you’re here.

  • CTIOD,
    My STBXH walked out on me 10 weeks into my pregnancy with our daughter. He has shown up ONCE in her almost 3 months of life since she was born. She clung to me the whole time, doing the stranger danger stare at him. My point is that the kids know who is their real parent and they know who takes care of them. Your kids will learn it too.

    • My story goes way back to 2000, when my now XH was cheating on me when I was pregnant with our daughter (he’ll deny it to his dying day). I cried every single day throughout that pregnancy. We had a beautiful 1 1/2 year old son and a baby on the way, but overnight he turned cold and mean towards me. Started going out all the time and joined a bowling league; came home drunk a lot and smelling of smoke. He was so horrible to me and at one point he said to me, “You and the kids will be fine financially without me.” I guess he was planning on leaving me for one of the many ho-workers in his Harem Garage.

      Not only did I cry every single day throughout the pregnancy. He yelled at me at the hospital the day our daughter was born; I cried again while holding our newborn daughter. She was supposed to be named Natalie, but he yelled at me and said that I chose our sons name (not 100% true) and he should be able to name our daughter!! So he chose a name that was never even spoken of before and it was an odd spelling of it too. He said that HIS “FRIEND” FROM WORK SPELLS IT THAT WAY. Anyone else out there thinks their child is named after an AP? Well, I do! And I have to keep my mouth shut for the rest of my life and just live with it. And if I’m right about this, it is just more proof how disordered my XH really is.

      Our daughter didn’t want anything to do with her dad for well over a year. She clung to me and cried anytime he tried to hold her. She was inside of me when I was crying every day and she was also there all the many times he yelled at me after she was born. Her little baby self somehow knew he wasn’t a good guy and was hurting her mommy. I sure wish I would have protected myself like my baby girl was trying to protect herself from her abusive, lying, cheating daddy.

      Dear CTIOD, I know you have a very long road ahead of you. But a lot of us chumps stayed with our husbands who cheated on us when we were pregnant. I stayed for another 14 years and of course I caught him cheating again. And there were tons of times in those 14 years where I found evidence of flirtations in emails, texts and Facebook Messenger with lots of different women. Lord only knows what happened when I thought he was working, out with friends or work functions. I wish I could have those 14 years back. Every single thing Chump Lady wrote to you is true about your cheater. He really is that shallow. Big (((HUGS))) to you and your kids. We are all here for you at Chump Nation.

  • Dear Cake Time Is Over, Dickhead ( Love the name BTW )

    I can only give you a virtual hug to you and your precious babies . There are a lot of mighty stories on here look through the archives of parents left with children who go on to live a great life .

    I don’t have any children but my ex did get pregnant his AP 11 weeks after he left me . This is after him telling me for 19 years he never wanted children . So i ask the very same questions why do they get to be happy ? Why do they get everything they want while i am now left with no one and a mortgage round my neck until i am 68 ( I bought him out of house ) Why do they get to be in love ?

    But please listen to all the wise words you will get from CL and CN look through the archives .
    There is also a CL Reddit forum if you wanted to join . I am on it you can message me if you wanted to as i am in UK also . I always have a listening ear if you need it

      • Just FYI, the subreddit just gives a message that it is a closed group, and the only option is “back.” No way to send a request to join – I just get kicked back to Reddit Home. I’ve gone to the subreddit time after time trying to ask to join, but no dice. At least on mobile and at least for me. I might be going about it wrong, I admit that freely (ugh, tech)…but the mods might want to double-check how they have the subreddit set up ????

        • Hi Little Might Me – I’m a mod on the reddit, what is your username? I’ll make sure you get added

        • Did you get a reddit account? If not, you can’t join.
          I’ll alert the mods there so you can get in.

          • I’ve had a reddit account (RosieChump67) but have never been able to join. Signed up to many times with no luck.

        • For anyone else reading this – to get into the subreddit you have to send a message saying you want to join etc and we will then add you. It is the only way the moderators are alerted.


    CTOID, you are mighty and the others on CN will be singing your praises for the way you kicked him out. YOU ARE MIGHTY! My story is very similar and almost two years out I’m starting to feel better, the aftermath and time alone reflecting is almost as bad as the original abuse. Stay strong, we are here for you!

  • Its about him, not you. He’s shit, she pretended to be your friend, I bet its not the first time she did it to a friend. She will tell him what he wants to hear.
    Did he actually help you with the children.
    Make sure you get what your entitled too.
    Don’t be surprised if he tells you he wants you back.

  • I have a major suggestion for you. Your children are so young they don’t know what day it is. They don’t know if it’s a Tuesday or a Saturday unless you tell them. They just get up every day and go about the business of being children. Since he has acted so erratic don’t tell them when he is supposed to come and pick them up. You are setting them up for disappointment if he doesn’t show and he sounds like the type who doesn’t show. Just be ready so that if he knocks at the door or makes a phone call and says he’s coming that you are able to throw some things in a bag. That’s for the first couple of visits. Then you tell him if he’s going to have them at his house he needs to buy them clothes, toothbrushes diapers etc. that you will no longer provide those. He’s their father he needs to step up. He probably won’t but hold his feet to the fire. Their clothes in your home stay in your home. He and the twat get to spend some of their fun money on kid’s clothes.

    • yes, this totally.

      As the person who has done literally all of the mental work and the physical heavy lifting, you are perfectly-targeted to keep doing it… for him and his fuckbuddy. Keep spending money, running small circles…

      No. The first couple of visits, sure, make sure it’s all arranged. Then tell him in good time (via email – document everything!) that his time with the kids is his to arrange and he needs to sort out lifts to and from school, extra-murals, friends and so on, and 100% have clothing, art supplies, toys and the like. They bring the very barest minimum with them to and fro. Why should they? Why should you? But get it clear from the get-go. He needs to have nappies, changes of bedding, the complete works. He wants to be 50/50 or something similar, then that’s how it goes. He spends his money and his time and his mental energy doing some of the work that you have done 100% of till now.

      It will be hard to cede control, I grant you that, but you must. Unless you are genuinely afraid for your children’s safety – and I’m guessing he’s a shitheel, but not cruel or evil re his kids, just pathetic and selfish – then that’s how it goes.

      Believe me, he’ll get bored because a lot of it is boring. It is. No one wants to cart kids to and from soccer or do the parents sleepover at cubs. It’s what we do because we love them.

      Also. NB. On your agreed off days, you are busy. Very busy. You are completely and entirely unavailable to help him in any way. If there’s a problem that isn’t medical, you are just not on speed dial. He needs to figure out what to do and how.

      • Absolutely! He and Schmoops can figure out the parenting thing – after all, you did, right? Even a medical problem, don’t be available unless it’s emergency room level. Fever? Sprained ankle? Scraped knee? Vomitting? THEIR problem, not yours (unless it’s the baby, while under 6 months old). They text or call? Pause a moment (on the phone) or a good 15 minutes (by text or e-mail). Then reply ‘You are their parent, you can handle this. If you end up at the doctors or an emergency room, let me know.’. HANG UP, don’t reply to anything else.

        Lots of jurisdictions don’t force overnights away from mom until baby is 2 ys old, especially if breastfeeding – so if you’ve been breastfeeding, keep it up! It’s good for baby and you and your connection, as well as legally. If you’re heading back to work soon, make a point of nursing her as soon as you pick her up at the end of the work day (don’t wait until you’re all home), sleep w/her in your bed and nurse on demand at night, and nurse again in the morning before drop off. Plus as often as you both like on weekends. And since he’s not taking baby, maybe all the kids can come back for nights, just daytime visits, ‘for now’? He’ll LOVE that, nights have even more real (ie annoying) parenting than daytimes do! That way you’re establishing a status quo, that a judge may not want to change …. Hope you have a helpful lawyer.

        BTW, great trick; block his number so it only goes to voice mail. That way you don’t have to actually speak to him except when YOU choose to.

    • I don’t know if I agree on the clothes, etc. I did that at the advice of my lawyer. After my 5 year old came home from weekend visits with rashes because she didn’t have access to clean underwear. I decided I wasn’t covering for his shitty parenting- I was protecting her! I put snacks in the kids backpacks and clothes on Fridays they go to his house. Nobody should be subjected to this- but the american justice system is a joke. Choose your fights wisely. They know who loves them.

      • FP, your ex is a shitty parent. We are hoping the jackass isn’t. Time will tell. My brother got total custody because his ex abandoned their kids. Some people aren’t meant to be parents.

  • Dear Cake,

    We have much in common….and here’s what I really hope we have in common…

    After being told he cheated because of a laundry list of problems in our marriage…which he never said anything about…

    After finding a note to her that “she showed him what was missing in his life”…

    After being told we were not compatible….at 27 years together…

    After he moved out to a secret apartment with her, set up before he even moved out of our house, funded with money siphoned off from our business…

    My daughter caught him on Tinder while she was using his phone during visitation….

    His Craigslist “sole mate” (his spelling) caught him going to the illicit massage parlors featuring his fantasy racial demographic (Sole Mate is of the same fantasy racial demographic, and was actually shopped for on Craigslist specifically for that racial demographic, and she advertised herself as such)
    They do with the next one what they did with you.
    Patterns of behavior are like deep scratches on a vinyl record. (Dating myself here).

    If you stay in your kick-ass mighty long enough, you will internalize that this is a very painful and oddly-wrapped gift. It takes a long time for your head and heart to get married again after being divorced for so long, but trust me when I say your heart and head are your REAL soul mates. Your children are your other real soul mates too, and your real soul mates the only ones that matter here.

    I am deeply sorry for your loss but glad you are here. And the homewrecking duo can enjoy their front pew in the Extra Crispy room in hell reserved for traitors with littles.

    PS….he was right when he said she showed him what was missing in his life. She showed me too.
    What was missing was a brain, a heart, a soul, character, integrity, emotional maturity, a working moral compass, etc etc etc…

    • Chump Lady, I never fail to be amazed by your ability to blog in the exact area needed to recharge my dilithium crystals when the are at absolute zero power….thank you….

  • “Because cake is delicious and your pick-me dance gives him a hard-on.”

    There was a time when I’d say “oh no Chump Lady… she’s really a good and kind person who is wrapped up in something she can’t control or stop. She’s such a timid creature”. That is, until I got a copy of 3 years worth of her speech-to-text audio backups. Suddenly the passive and easily emotionally distraught woman in marriage counseling became nothing more than an Oscar winning performance.

    Just a few months ago I listened to it again for the first time in almost 3 years. I feel truly blessed to have that recording. Typically I might have gotten occasional glimpses behind her mask, but this was a long, hard look behind it.

    Hearing her mock me to affair partners and potential affair partners. Laughing at the fact I thought it was inappropriate to have any contact with these men. Actually telling these men that she doesn’t have any “morals or integrity”. This is just the tip of the dark iceberg.

    Now I can confidently say that she’s a sick monster who took the utmost delight in making me dance. I’m counting the days until our child turns 18 and I can completely block her from my life. Even now she’ll still try to play that old tune to see if I’m willing to dance.

    • I too got a couple recordings of my ex talking to his AP, and heard him telling lies about me and throwing me under the bus. It really helped me switch from pick me dancing to recognizing the horror that he really is. Something about hearing it in their own voices, the duplicity, the self-serving.

      • I was blessed with discovering my ex’s affair by overhearing him talking on speakerphone to his AP at 1:00 in the morning. It gave me the wherewithal to make my appearance and say, “You need to get the fuck out of my house”. Not one second wasted on a pick me dance. And it was after that that his mask fell completely off as I heard him tell people, “You need to use that person for everything you can get out of him”. I told him, “You know, I’ve heard you say that more than once in the last couple of weeks. It explains a lot about our relationship.” They truly are abusive monsters.

    • I’m glad you brought this up. I don’t have any voice recordings but I got to see, in real time, the duplicity. It was 3 days after DDAY/GTFO day and while he was texting me his undying love and remorse *barf* I turned on the feature to read his incoming and outgoing texts.

      He was texting his AP, having her arrange to pick him up and take him to his new apartment in the next town over, that he set up already behind my back the preceding week. She asked if she could bring her tv before he realized he was being watched.

      As soon as he knew it, he started talking major crap about me and she joined in and it became crystal clear what their “relationship” had been built on. Lies about their “terrible” spouses. He said he couldn’t wait to “get out of his prison” even though not 5 minutes earlier he was texting me that I was just as beautiful as I was on our wedding day.

      They. Suck.

      And I needed that reminder today.

  • CTIOD — I happened to see the following on Quora this morning immediately after I read this post.

    I think this poem, or whatever it is, is a great description of how a covert narcissist thinks, and might help shed some light onto your situation and supplement CL’s stellar advice.


    Love is a myth.

    When I find someone who claims to love me, I must poke and prod and cut and tear and peel away at it. I will analyze their thoughts and actions, dissect and pick through every situation. I need to find out what “the love” actual is.

    Love is a myth.

    When they say they love me, I know there has to be some exploitation or manipulation going on. I won’t be taken advantage of that way.

    Love is a myth.

    If I can just test it the right way, then the true motives will show. I will create a situation so I can see what they do, determine what it is, see how I am being victimized and abused.

    Love is a myth.

    How am I supposed love them if they can’t even get me to believe they love me? It is up to them to prove to me that love is real. It’s not up to me to blindly accept their love without proof.

    Love is a myth.

    I get to determine who loves me and who doesn’t. That is not up to them, and it’s selfish of them to say they love me if I don’t accept it. They hurt me because they force me into a situation where I have to deny them. That is their fault, not mine.

    Love is a myth.

    Even if it seems like there is proof they love me, I know it is just because I lost control. I showed weakness. I can’t accept that. I can’t lose control.

    Love is a myth.

    I will trip them up, they will show their true colors. I won’t let them use me like this. I will continue to test and to test until I find the reason that it cannot be love.

    Because, love is a myth.

    • Thanks for this.

      When I read this, I start to see myself in these thoughts and behaviors, not the Cheater. I think this passage serves as a good warning that we Chumps don’t turn this direction, protecting and walling up our hearts so much that we behave this way with honest people and then feel love is just a myth.

      I have to keep reminding myself my love and actions were real. I lived open and honestly. Love is legend, not myth.

      • I just saw me in this poem too!! Yikes. After the betrayal and discard, it’s really, really hard for me to believe that love exists.

          • Yes! When we give up on love we play into their narrative that we are unlovable and worthless.

            We are mighty. Good people exist. Good Things can still happen.

    • Sounds like something I read about BPD’s. “They fear abandonment, but behave in away that guarantees it.”

  • “I thought he was clinically depressed and was comforting him when he was crying”.
    Lolcry here. I thought my husband was clinically depressed, too. This being said, he was.
    But that was not the reason he refused to open up to me, of course.
    I even encouraged him to meet with “friends”, have a weekend with “colleagues” or trips “alone”, because I thought it would cheer him up. While I was struggling alone with a one-year old.

    • Sometimes I wonder how much “depression” for these guys is just narc manipulation. I’m “depressed” so you’ll take care of me, walk on eggshells around me, buy me things to cheer me up, etc.

      I also paid for my husband to take trips alone to help alleviate his depression, too many to count, and ashamedly often for weeks – or months – at a time. All while I stayed home working full time and being a mom.

      Thought I was being nice. I was just being a chump.

      • Probably quite a lot of it. A narc only has 3 tools; charm, rage, and self-pity. If one doesn’t work, they’ll switch immediately to the next. If it’s working, they’ll keep doing it.

        I’ve found the easiest way to test this…the smiling no. When a suspected narc tries to get me to do something I’m not particularly interested in doing, I politely smile and say “no”. Then I politely refuse to explain why. So if I get “why”, I’ll say “because”. If I get “because why”, I say “just because”. My only explanation is “I don’t want to”. All said in a manner reserved for the very sick.

        A narc will flip that depression into charm or rage so fast it’ll shock you. A normal person might be a little hurt or confused, but will drop it because they aren’t trying to change your mind. A close friend might spout mock charm, pity or rage, but it’ll be obvious that they aren’t serious.

        • ^^^^^^^^I love this! My daughters and I just had a conversation about how women are programmed to never offend so we make ourselves appear weak, and vulnerable, by over explaining. “No” is perfect.

          • Or the Gavin De Becker response to the “Why?” question: “No is a complete sentence.” Without further explanation.

          • I’ve tried to employ the simple “no” with my XW. She responded with: “Please be aware that a curt “No.” without explanation is a hostile and aggressive response in any context”.

            • I think there is probably a world of difference between a curt no, and a polite no. The politeness is key when dealing with narcs.

              That being said, your wife sucks, but I’m sure you trust that already!

            • That’s why I say “no” like I’m talking to a very sick friend. Didn’t really matter with my ex-wife. The response was always “why?”.

              If I ever gave my ex-wife any justification for my “no”, she’d use it against me. One of her favorite tactics was just saying “that doesn’t make any sense” to any reasons I gave. Then she wouldn’t let up until I got upset.

              So my reasons finally became either “because I want to” or “because I don’t want to”. I’d usually have to repeat it several times. She got to a point where it would make her so angry that she would start mocking me saying it back in a ridiculous voice.

              • I have a relative who says, “I’m thinking about it.” Or “I’ll get back to you on that” and never does. I figure making yourself as easy as nailing jello to a wall will eventually wear them out.

      • I did this too. “Yes you go out if it makes you feel better, I won’t complain because I don’t want to push you away even more and all I want is for you to be happy and notice me again”. I didn’t see how much I was squashing my needs to try and look after him and his. He left me at home with a 5 year old, a 3 year old and a 2 week old baby – even if he had actually been going to the pub that shouldn’t have been ok. Spackle, spackle everywhere.

    • ????????Me too!!!!! XH said he was depressed because he “had” to work ????. I cared for our 4 kids Doing nearly 100% of the household tasks and mental load , also worked a paying job! This “depression” only came to light after he was caught red-handed and AP was pressuring him to leave family and secret-secret AP was pressuring him to “make a decision—her or me and kids—she didn’t know about new young gold digger AP until later….”. ????????????????

      Thank God no longer my monkeys or my circus!

  • CTOID,

    I am so sorry you are having to go through this shit show. It sucks, no two ways about it. You are going to get tons of support and amazing advice today from all of us here who have been where you are (or are where you are)… keep coming back. Read the archives. Make this be the place you come to every day just for you. There is strength in numbers and we won’t bullshit you about unicorns.

    My thoughts:

    – the AP was never a “mutual friend”… get clear on that… friends don’t fuck friends married husbands

    – you married a man child… music festivals take priority over family, does that align with your values?… I highly doubt it. I’m sure you can look back and find many ways you spackled over his emotional immaturity… WRITE THEM DOWN… keep that list handy any time you think wistfully of him and his AP

    – your kids will be OK… if you stay sane and give them the routine and constancy all children need growing up (you were going to be doing it on your own anyway married to this fuckwit). Do not stress over “what ifs”… get with your lawyer, get custody and visitation sorted and stick to it. You are not responsible for holding up his end of anything… he fired you from that job the first time his penis fell in to this other woman’s vagina.

    – the first year is an absolute slog… so give yourself permission to grieve (I cried in the shower a lot)… be honest with your kids (but keep it age appropriate… Daddy got a girlfriend… married people don’t do that so we’re getting divorced)… don’t make kids promises that aren’t yours to keep (Daddy loves you, Daddy will be here next time, etc.)… you aren’t his publicist, better the kids learn for themselves than grow up blaming you… find your support network and/or ways to lift yourself up (I listened to a lot of Joel Osteen and Rick Warren; read CL daily; read daily; found great blogs about narcissists and NPD). Mostly, be patient… do what you can when you can… this isn’t a race, you are building a new fuckwit free life.

    – You can do this. I filed pro se, he didn’t respond. I hired a lawyer, he responded pro se and lost. He wanted 50/50 custody, I fought back… he got 30 and four years out he barely shows up for 10… he’s too busy with his current GF and the chaos he’s creating there.

    It will get better. I’m five years out from D-day… me and my kid are thriving… I trust my instincts without question now and as CL’s aunt says… my walls are singing!

    • I second the idea of writing down the ways in which you overlooked his effedupness. One thing that emerges from your list of questions is they are all directed at him and the new partner. How could he. How can they. But not – how did I. I’m going with what the letter said – you knew this for a while that he was someone that went to music festivals without you, that wasn’t involved with children etc. This is actually not a surprise to you. You were in a fog for a while. You didn’t allow yourself to listen to your gut and your instinct. You chose to continue as if the relationship was normal because the other options were too painful.

      TThis is not about assigning blame or responsibility. Cheating is on his shoulders. I’m saying your questions are all about him because they’re much safer questions. Perhaps seeing where your own weaknesses toward accepting his bs came from will help you to deal with him in the future. And perhaps lead you into forgiving yourself.

      • Great advice! Journaling all the crap he put me through past and present really helped. I referenced it often before I trusted that he sucked, slapped right back to reality!
        Good luck to you, you can do this !!

  • He’s too surface to be shallow – so of course he’s happy to leave you and three small children.

    You lost an illusion – not a real partner. I am sorry he’s the equivalent of rotting pumpkins, but I am glad you’re divorcing him.

    May your holidays be brighter without him sulking around the house, dreaming of Schmoopie’s ankles wrapped around his ears and being a drag.

  • Your story is almost identical to mine. I thought the reason for his coldness was dealing with his alcoholism and stress of a growing family. Nope, it was a coworker pushing him to leave his family for her. I guess he had already been cheating on me with Ashley Madison women and an ex g/f. I had no clue. With an awesome record like that the ow wanted him.???? They were introduced at work about this time of year 4 years ago. I was 3 months pregnant and had a 2 year old.

    They are married now. Had a shot gun wedding where she was a month pregnant. During all of this he was “improving” himself by finishing his degree. (A degree he should’ve finished years ago when the university let him walk the stage when he only needed 3 more credit hours but then he never did them.) he got an office job at a different company. A year after that he quit and got his old job back as a truck driver. He’s in the exact same spot he was when he was “miserable” with me. I know a cheetah doesn’t change his spots. I’m able to giggle at her misfortune now. It HURT like HELL going thru all of it. I had all the same questions you did. I feel more like myself again and don t care about the answers anymore. They are shitty people and I am not. Good riddance. Hugs to you! You’re doing great! You will get to meh.


  • This may be my favorite CL response ever. CTIOD, your story is so familiar, except my three kids were older at Dday, and the affairs were plenty and also included “friends”. You’re going to thrive; you’re going to hurt and rage; you’re going to heal. One day you’ll realize how far you’ve come. Hang in there. You’re surrounded by support.

  • CTIOD, he put you through a year of torture for the sake of impression management. He knew Society generally frowns on abandoning wives and young children, so he needed to make the appearance of trying to work things out, even if he never had any intention of putting in the added effort to do so.

    This pointless exercise also served to forestall any commitment his mistress was expecting and amped up her pick-me-dance efforts.

    My advice differs from Chump Lady. I say, if he wants 50/50 custody, let him have it. Use the time you have to yourself for much-needed and deserved self care.

    My guess is that within a few months— when having 3 children around bursts the romantic bubble and his mistress tires of playing house— he’ll be practically begging you to take the kids off his hands.

    • Over three years ago, was in similar shoes as the OP: my kids were 8, 6, and 8 months when my covert narc ex walked out on us. I filed immediately and never pick me danced. Leaving the kids when they were so little and vulnerable somehow showed me what he was. God blessed me with the vision to see that, and I did not waver.

      Talk to a live local bulldog family lawyer of course. I actually agree with giving him 50/50. While it lasted, it was a Godsend to finally have free time. That’s the only way I was able to heal, get stronger, and gain a life. He will not take all of his time. Mine hardly ever took his custody time with the baby, and missed a lot of weekends. He eventually moved out of state and found a new victim. This is what they do. Hugs, you are not alone!

  • I dont think I will ever be able to express to CN how much each and every person who has talked about what happened to them, the feelings, the terror, the depression, the thoughts of self harm, the shockingly similar things fuckwits do and say, the way we internalize it…….sharing all of this with me has been key to my healing and I owe all of you that have bravely and openly shared, a giant thank you.
    OP – i sat in the parking garage and read your letter, stunned. I am in the states, I have 1 daughter – otherwise, this is my story as well.
    I thought it was depression, I begged him to get help, MC for a bit over a year where things seemed to be improving.
    No mention of marriage ending unhappiness until after I found out about howorker.
    This is not you. This is not about you. This is him and whatever is wrong inside of him.
    I am so sorry this happened to you, but I promise your life is going to improve – you didnt accept this behavior once you knew; you cant help someone you loved and trusted played you.
    Right there – you were capable of bonding and investing, you got treated abhorently and betrayed, and you had the self respect to say no when you realized what was happening. That is a blueprint for an amazing person. You are going to be ok and therefore so will the kids. Not today, not tomorrow, not next year, but some Tuesday in 2022. The will good days and really really bad crying for 8 hours days between now and then, but the good will start to outnumber the bad faster than you think.
    My best wishes go to you.

    • “… the terror…”
      OMG THIS. Hands down the worst days of my life. WHAT was happening? I worried day & night about it.

      My X actually has severe depression, which he developed during our marriage after a series of professional set backs. But it was his lying, his gaslighting, lack of job searching, drunkeness and his disappearances all day (everyday!) that I was terrified of. I just couldn’t figure out what was happening in my own life.

      Once I figured out X was bar hopping, picking up Craigslist hookers and bar whores my life improved. It was HIM. Not “us” that was messed up. I marched right out of that mess and became a divorce warrior.

      You can do this. You already ARE doing it.

      • ((((Born Free))))
        So nice to see your name,
        You are living proof of what a Chump can accomplish!
        Mighty Lady.


  • I normally love Chump Lady’s articles, but I took offense at this one.

    Egg noodles are amazing!

    They are simple, delicious, nutritious, and fun to make.

    Please do not sully the good name of egg noodles with fuckwits.

    Thank you.


    Egg Noodle Enthusiast

  • Oh man…the questions you asked. I asked ALL of those, basically verbatim. I think all of us here in CN have. If I had one piece of “advice” (not that I’m really qualified to give any, but whatevs), it would be to realize that you aren’t going to get real answers to any of these questions. And that really sucks. But the sooner you come to terms with that, the sooner you can stop ruminating about them 24/7. It’s just not worth it, you have a lot of healing for YOU in the short term…and geez, you have 3 littles to take care of. Don’t give him any more of your headspace, you need it for you and your kids. Easier said than done…I know. Just trying to save you from months of beating yourself up over questions that will never be properly answered. Read CL’s blog post about untangling the skein of fuckupedness (go to the home page, and scroll down to the bottom for her greatest hits)…I had to read that one daily for a while until it finally sunk in to my chumpy brain. Sending all the hugs and strength to you, you are already so mighty.

    • Yes Yes Yes to what NotTodayFuckwit said!!!

      On, let copy or screen shot what ahhe said then read it over & over. This is great advice & what would have have helped me a lot in the first year. I spent over a year trying to get answers from him about wtf exactly happened. Trying to figure out what was real & what wasn’t. It drove me insane & resulted in an ulcer. Don’t do this to yourself.

      Here’s the thing – YOU’RE NEVER GOING TO GET THE ANSWERS FEOM HIM! If he does answer any of your questions it will be with blameshifting or outright lying even more. That’s his MO. You just didnt know it. Realize now that you’re never going to get straight or honest answers from him. Most likely, he doesn’t even f’ing really know why he does and says most of the shit he does. He’s just not that deep to even ponder it. He’s a selfish asswipe who only thinks about himself & does what he thinks is best for him at any given moment. He’s shallow & is incapable of seeing or feeling beyond the surface.

      You won’t get the answers I know you so desperately want so you can try to make some sort of sense of it all. There is no sense to it. The sooner you’re able to accept that you won’t get true answers from him about any of it, the better you will be.

      You know he’s a liar, a cheat, & a total asshole. You have enough to TRUST THAT HE SUCKS. I know it doesn’t seem like it now but, that’s really all you really need to know in the long run.

  • “ What the hell is she on, she knows me and my kids but was happy to facilitate the destruction of our family?”

    In my case, the OW knew my kids since they were little, came together all major family events and we went spent weekends with her. The kids and I thought she was gay and still in the closet – no boyfriend ever.

    My ex never admitted an affair so I went to see her. She told me it was true.

    When I asked her how she could do this to my kids her answer was “If you told them, that’s your problem.” They were 19 and 24!

    That’s when I realized she had zero integrity or clue what it was like to be a parent. Would have gotten a better response talking to a rock.

    I was able to make sure she was never alone with my kids or was included in wedding, births or anything. They worked together and that got me some major clout.

    My ex has rarely been around. I realized after how I facilitated his appearing to be a fabulous father by telling him where and when to be for school or major functions for years! Once I stopped doing that, he just stopped appearing. Didn’t care but is t happy about his sub-stellar appearance now. Too bad; so sad ????.

    What everyone says about being the same parent is 100% true. I am my kids’ hero…and that makes all the other crap worth it.

    There will come a day when you are genuinely happy to be a single parent but it will be hell getting there. We are her to help and support you.

    • can you expand on how working together got you clout… and how they ensured you kept her away?

  • ((((Cake time is over))))
    I give you a standing ovation.
    YOU, sweet lady are so very very Mighty!
    Of course you don’t feel it now, but there you are being the present, sane, loving parent.
    All the emotions and turmoil you are going through is so normal, because YOU are a normal person. You are in reality.

    Your dickhead lives in a fantasy, pussy perfect world.
    CL, CN will guide you to lining up your ducks and going toward the light, leaving this dirt bag cheater in your rear view mirror, as well as you are able to with three tiny children.
    I did not read the replies to your post, but I know that Chumps, ( like MotherChumper99) will help you. Their pain was raw, like your’s, in the beginning. But, if you read the archives you will see this raw pain turn to courage, anger, and great progress, even happiness.
    Dickhead is too busy with his tru wuv to bother much with his own precious children, his interest will fade out.
    Protect yourself and your children as well as you can. ( you are also being a wonderful role model to them)
    Come here for support. Shared pain lives here. Understanding, kindness dwells in the heart of each Chump.
    Lean on family and friends who have your back.
    YOU are the strongest lady on this earth.
    I send you a million hugs!
    Stay strong!

  • When new chumps ask themselves how will I cope without them I know if they look not very deeply within themselves that they’ll see that they already have due a long time. Love your name btw and that’s one of the reasons I know you’ll be fine. You’ve been living with a fourth child long before you had th other three, one who enjoyed the benefits of your adulting and then turned on you because he then felt like a teenaged boy rebelling against mom for trying to get him to clean his room on a regular basis. He went to Glastonbury to fuck your friend in a tent in a pissbog field and relive his youth and he accuses you of not making him happy? You’ve already been flying solo for a very long tome and without his inertia dragging you back your going to go from strength to strength. Big hugs to you x

    • Wish there were a thousand “like” buttons for this. These creeps are stalled babies.

    • This is so so true. I was so worried when he said he was going to leave, how was I going to cope and do everything… but I’ve been doing everything for more than a year already if not a lot longer before this all started. I just don’t know how he hid his true colours for so long – I’m coming to the conclusion that maybe I just saw what I wanted to see.

  • When new chumps ask themselves how will I cope without them I know if they look not very deeply within themselves that they’ll see that they already have due a long time. Love your name btw and that’s one of the reasons I know you’ll be fine. You’ve been living with a fourth child long before you had th other three, one who enjoyed the benefits of your adulting and then turned on you because he then felt like a teenaged boy rebelling against mom for trying to get him to clean his room on a regular basis. He went to Glastonbury to fuck your friend in a tent in a pissbog field and relive his youth and he accuses you of not making him happy? You’ve already been flying solo for a very long tome and without his inertia dragging you back your going to go from strength to strength. Big hugs to you x you got this and always have.

  • Cake Time, he’s “happy” like a heroin addict is happy when he gets a fix. It won’t last. The guy is an escape artist. He runs away from any responsibility to get high, only his drug of choice is cheating and lying. Schmoopies become a responsibility when the two twu wuvers move in together. The buzz will be gone if he’s not triangulating and he’ll miss the duper’s delight. So he’ll treat her as badly as he did you. The MC was just part of his long con. He didn’t expect to get caught out and would have made you dance for a long time. Good for you for cutting him off at the knees. You’re awesome.

    Regarding the kids, he wasn’t much help when he was there, so of course you can do this. You’ve been going it alone a long time by the sound of it. Oh, and fuck 50/50. He abandoned his children. Fight him on that. I agree with CL that letting him have the baby (or the other kids for that matter) for overnights is a bad idea. He’ll probably have his whore over. You don’t want them exposed to his debauchery.
    Frankly, this guy sounds like a stone cold sociopath to me. I would demand a psych evaluation before he gets *any* visitation. Talk to your lawyer and don’t give him a thing you’re not ordered to do by the courts. He can spend Xmas alone with his slag, drink eggnog laced with GHB and do it doggy style to the dulcet tones of Celine Dion singing “Oh Holy Night” before you even *start* to give a damn about how he spends the holidays. Right? Seriously, fuck a bunch of this guy and his bullshit. Technically, he’s not lying about a problem in your marriage causing him to cheat. He just neglected to mention that that problem is HIM. As CL says, he’s an empty vessel. He doesn’t love. He just uses.

    Best of luck to you. Your herculean strength in the face of a situation that would flatten most people is an inspiration.

    Btw, my cheater used an annual music festival to hook up with his whore also, for five consecutive years. He even invited me there to facilitate triangulation as unbeknownst to me, she malevolently watched me. These cheaters are creepy scum and so are their APs.

  • Regarding 50/50 – document carefull what he has done to date including when he was at home. He left when there was a new born to spend 5 dyas somewhere; he did not pull his weight with the kids; sometimes you can argue that status quo in marriage continues (that is the argument they make for life style). So document what he has done so far. What has he done for the one year old? Have you done all the child care to date? Seems you are working too. Document coldly, clinically and argue that he is not entitled to 50/50. You can also argue when new partners can get introduced to the kids. You may not win weverything but this is a time you need to be tough and cold and not get emotional (you can do that privately or with friends) but not with him. Do you have adultery laws? Talk about lying in counseling if that will be helpful.

    • This. He may insist on 50/50, but if he’s not pulling 50/50 at this point, then documenting this fact shows who the real parent is.

      With respect to your baby, talk with your solicitor. In my state, a father might have 1 afternoon per week with an infant, with that time increasing over a year to 1 overnight, and then following a schedule to where the child stays 50% of the time. This is so that the child gets a chance to bond with the father and get used to the other home.

      Work with your solicitor on a temporary custody arrangement or whatever it is called in the UK. This is pretty common in my state, as divorce proceedings can take some time. In the meantime, barring extenuating circumstances or mutual agreement, the default is 50/50. Hold your cheater to the court-ordered arrangement, and don’t allow swaps. Initially, really make Cheater take the children on his time and don’t give in. Later, if you feel you want the children the extra time, indicate that yes, you’ll take them, but no, you won’t swap times. This sets up the legal framework to show that he can’t keep up his end of the 50/50. If you show you are okay with trading times, then you’re not holding up your end, either. By taking the children and NOT swapping, you show that you are holding up your end and he clearly is not.

      Again, your solicitor will know the best actions under your legal jurisdiction.

      • I’m just copying this here as it is so important:
        ” Hold your cheater to the court-ordered arrangement, and don’t allow swaps. Initially, really make Cheater take the children on his time and don’t give in. Later, if you feel you want the children the extra time, indicate that yes, you’ll take them, but no, you won’t swap times. This sets up the legal framework to show that he can’t keep up his end of the 50/50. If you show you are okay with trading times, then you’re not holding up your end, either. By taking the children and NOT swapping, you show that you are holding up your end and he clearly is not.”

        Sometimes cheaters guilt chumps for not swapping times. But your post shows that by giving in to the negligent parent, chumps are giving away their power.

  • CTIOD, they all say they were “never happy,” you weren’t enough, whatever. It’s just a way to justify doing something horrible.
    I would watch out for the “Hoover” move. If things crash and burn with Shmoopie — which they probably will — he’ll try to come back. Don’t let him.

    • TravelingTheWorld, thanks for writing, “they all say that.” That line, “I was never happy,” and/or, “I haven’t been happy for a long time,” are a few of the lines that I keep coming back to, I mostly no longer expect to find any rationality in any of the madness but the idea that he was miserable? While his every preference, desire, whim, need was tended to? While I twisted and turned and contorted to make his life as easy, simple, comfortable as possible? It’s a hard pill to swallow, even when I know it’s one that needs to just be flushed down the toilet!

      • h/t to Beth who put this perfectly, paraphrasing, “There were 2 people in the marriage worried about HIS HAPPINESS and zero worried about mine.”

        So many of us went through this. We twisted ourselves to be whatever they needed while still attending to all of the adult functions and primary parental responsibilities, but it was never enough. Their endless void of happiness can never be filled. Did they ever bother to worry about what we needed? Nope.

        They are simply inadequate, in every way.

    • I always got told prepare for the hoover

      Never happened never will . 9 months after d day not 1 text not 1 call or email not even a look backwards he packed and left never to be seen or heard from again . He’s very happy with his pregnant ho worker .

      I’m saying this as some might wait for the hoover and it might never come and then get even more upset by thinking why am I not getting hoovered ?
      It’s not worth waiting for just get on with your life as best you can

      • I doubt I will ever get the Hoover either. My X would never ever admit he did anything wrong and coming back around would be that in his little boy mind.

        I do believe he will regret what he did mostly because he won’t know his daughters or grandchildren. He still won’t admit he did anything wrong but he will probably feel left out and will pout about it and feel depressed. He will blame me for every shit decision just like he always did.

        I hope it rots him from the inside out.

      • Jackass never hoovered. Some of them know they are in over their heads with someone who is normal and decent and has expectations of them.

  • CTIOD (best screen name EVER). I feel you my dear. It feels like the world is laughing at you and no one understands your plight. Like somehow you could have been better-like those women who seem to have the everlasting adulation of their husbands and bask in warm fuzzy family time, or like the irresistible Schmoopies that our dickwads fall for and leave us. At least that’s how I felt. It dissipates. But first-the kids and the 50-50 custody thing. I felt that exact feeling you have. Every time they were with him I oscillated between anger at the injustice of being left alone while they did the fun family things we used to do together. And my kids, being teens, were off with friends when they were home but actually hung out with him. And like your DW, mine was fighting for 50-50 custody even though I’d been essentially a single parent during the marriage. Well, I got him down to 2 weekends a month and 2 weekday dinners a month when he couldn’t answer questions regarding the names of his daughters’ teachers, the subjects they were taking in school, what colleges our eldest was applying to and had no phone numbers of any parents of friends and several other questions. And then was traveling most of the time so he couldn’t agree to specific weekends. It was agreed we’d schedule the weekends on month to month basis to accommodate his travel. He showed up for the first few visits when I made a schedule. Then when I stopped making the schedule for him, he stopped showing up. He’s seen his daughter for 4 weekends and 4 dinners since April. But he’s busy with his new baby (who now has step-sisters who are 19 and 17 years older than her) in the house he bought in London (we live in California). He still tries to pretend he lives in the house he rents a few miles from me and will say to my daughter that he is “overseas” at the moment when he can’t make it for one of her performances. I can’t resist using air quotes for “overseas” when someone asks why he isn’t present. My youngest was just finishing her college apps and my very sweet and kind boyfriend (you’ll find one of those : )) spent an entire day helping her put together recordings for her music portfolio-which is 10 times the support her own dad put into helping her with anything college-related. Long story short, your dickwad may not buy property in another country, but he’s not going to show up for much after the papers are signed. They are all the same. They just fight for 50-50 for child support reduction and to look less dickwaddy in public. So, prepare for being a single parent. And prepare for the possibility the kids might think you are keeping them from him, which is what mine thought for a while. And if Dickwad has an enabling, sycophant of a mother, prepare for some narcissist-enabling mindfuckery from that side of the family and keep your distance. And prepare for a whole lot of “friends” who think you should “get over it” even though you are in this co-parenting hell for a long time yet. You’ll find out who your real friends are. I had a friend ask me (no longer really a friend) when I was going to stop being angry (I had just found out he was delinquent on child support and had hidden some assets that he was refusing to hand over). I asked her when she was going to stop being angry at Donald Trump. I pointed out they were both cheating, misogynistic narcissists anyway and they both keep doing things that remind you of what dickwads they are. Anyway, you’re not alone. And CL is right you are titanium and he is a noodle (my apologies to pasta).

    • Great post. And I like your answer to your [former] friend. But here’s another one: “I’ll stop being angry when he starts paying child support and stops hiding money.”

      The other thing to say: “Anyone who doesn’t understand why I’m angry isn’t really my friend.” I’d say that I figured out there were really only 2 friends who could listen to my anger or my pain. And that’s actually a lot–2 people. I got to the point where I would talk to those people and my therapist, period, about the anger or the pain. For you, you’ll need friends who have enough goodness in them to be on your team, to support you as you raise your kids.

  • My Ex; ‘Why is my life meaningless and my kids hate me?’
    My Ex a moment later, ‘Oh, yeah, it’s KarenE’s fault,the bitch.’ Continues eating sandwich.

      • That’s actually an imaginary scene, but believe me, it’s not stretch of the imagination! He completely blames me for his kids now having nothing to do with him, despite abundant evidence to the contrary. His perceptions are truly remarkably self-serving and entitled.

  • Cake Time, first and foremost good for you filing. Right now it is painful, lonely and just god awful. However I am guessing that by next year you’ll be good and two years from now genuinely glad he is out of your life. He’s a guttersnipe weakling and the OW is a skank. They deserve one another but Chump lady is right it will end and it will not end well. However it could take years and this is not your problem. When you move on with your life, your ex may panic and try to come back, please don’t even consider a reconciliation. Screw the 50/50 custody. Get child support and count on him only showing up for the kids when convenient for him or when he is lonely. Very important, do not force a relationship between your kids and ex. Don’t guilt your ex into taking or seeing the kids. Let your kids know, in a nice way, their Dad is weak and defective. This will save $$$ on therapy in later years as most defects somehow make the kids think they are the problem or just not good enough. Go grey rock. No arguments, nasty remarks or scenes as the cheating couple thrive on this shit. It is a glue that holds them together. Once the obstacles (perceived or real) are removed the cheating couple have to contend with one another (no us against them nonsense) and that is when the unraveling begins. Again this is not your problem and by the time the blow up happens you more than likely will not care.

  • “Why wasn’t I enough?” I have asked myself the same question for over the last two years. I saw value in her, my family and our Son why couldn’t she see value in Me, our Family and our Son?

    • Dave K… because you and she don’t have the same values. You value love, family, honor… she does not. It really is just that simple. It gets better the minute you stop asking yourself “why wasn’t I enough”… her cheating was never about you. It is who SHE IS.

      • Thank you for your reply, I am working on knowing it was about her lack of values and not me

      • This is very true. It’s not about you – it’s about them. It takes a while to really internalize that.

    • sadly, she only saw herself and her immediate wants and needs.

      Being married takes work. Being a mom is freaking hard. These types of people can’t tolerate normal life, they chase fleeting moments of excitement and will destroy anything in their path to get it. Nothing, and no one, will ever be enough.

      Take that weight off your back today.

    • I remember writing Jackass a note asking this same question–why wasn’t I enough? Why wan’t the good stuff in our life enough?

      Here’s the answer, as I see it: it wasn’t about me, or his first wife, or the second one. Or the woman who he kicked out of his truck and left stranded on a date one night because she offended him. Or his kid whom he ditched on all the weeknight visitations.

      It was him. He wasn’t enough to be a husband, either time, or a decent father. Or a partner for me. He doesn’t have what it takes to commit and go the long haul. He wasn’t enough.

    • I understand how you feel. I’m in a similar situation; my wife left me and our twin boys, who were 12 at the time, last November (2018). She initially said she wanted a 30 day separation, but then wanted a divorce.

      I found out she had been seeing a guy she met online for about a year. He had been working on convincing her to come live with him. She left everything, including her clothes.

      I begged and pick me danced for 8 months. One week she wanted a divorce and found her twu wuv, the next she wasn’t sure what she wanted. I finally filed at her insistence in June, then a couple months later she said she never wanted a divorce and isn’t sure what she wants, but still lives with her boyfriend and they regularly post pictures of themselves on Facebook proclaiming their love.

      In over a year, she’s seen her sons a handful of times. She gave me full custody without any argument. Her sons are hurt and angry. I’m devastated. She even cut off her elderly mother. I take care of her.

      I too can’t help but wonder why I wasn’t good enough. We were married 21 years; while things weren’t perfect, I loved her deeply, which she admitted. I made many sacrifices for her and was willing to make more to have her come home.

      I’ll be officially divorced as of December 26th. While I know I can’t control her, I feel lost an awful lot of the time.

      • Hugs hugs and more hugs! Stay strong. You’re a wonderful man, a great father. Don’t let someone like your ex make you think different or change who you are or sacrifice for her! You’re better than that and you deserve the best! Yes it’s hard but it will get better. I’m just really hoping you don’t fall for her crap and let her back in. It will be even harder after if she decides to abandon all you guys again. I want you to stay strong, focus on healing yourself and raising your boys. Be kind to yourself and allow the emotions to flow. You will one day when the time is right get someone wonderful. You deserve that.
        I pick me danced, and wish I haven’t. I let him back in and wish I haven’t. Everyday is torture for me as I’m always wondering what he’s doing, if he’s lying and so on. I live in constant anxiety. I also know and anticipate the day he will cheat again.
        Don’t be me, be smart about your situation, love yourself and your babies. They need you and you need you. Don’t waste your energy on a lost cause. People like that don’t change, you’re too good.

        • Magdalena, thank you. I appreciate the kind words and support. It’s just so hard to understand why and how she could do this, not just to me but her children too. As a parent, they’re more important to me than anything else.

          I wanted them to experience a full, happy family and home. I thought she did too. She was a stay at home mom until the boys began school, because we wanted to give them that love and caring that only parents can. What she’s done just doesn’t register. How can you do that?

          We waited several years to have children. I was 42 when they were born and we’d been married 8 years. I would have had them sooner, but she wasn’t ready. Their birth was the high point of my life.

          • We will never know why such people do this. Selfish? Who knows. And you will be giving your boys a full family, you are more than enough! They will feel and know that you love them, support them, and are always there. They will ask questions about mom, but you’ll just have to reassure them.
            Eventually you will be ok. Don’t try to understand what she did and why. That will just hold you back from moving on, letting go. Right now it’s about you and the boys. Most important people!

      • This just feels so lost. It feels like trying to lasso a cloud. I’m sorry this happened to you. I too am recently chumped and divorced. I feel the same. He was just gone, leaving the clothes and everything. The question of why? is hard, and the only answer I can figure is- because they can. My x felt entitled to have fun. And thought that our family life was boring. He has been saying that there’s only so much life left and he wants to live it having fun. So this affair is fun. And a family with its responsibilities is not fun- according to him.

        It’s made me question every reality I held dear. Was it really not worth it to pull ourselves out of the gutter, to clean up and be respectable, to work hard to buy a house, to have children to send them to private school, to concentrate on eating right, being safe, loving our kids 100%, putting them through college. Then to just throw it away and say it’s no good? I just don’t understand it and makes me wonder if it was worth it at all. In the end the family I worked to have and treasure is shattered. And I feel like I’m trying to lasso a cloud. It’s not going to work. Making sense of this life has become very hard. It’s best to stop trying to understand it and just move on with life. Happy or sad. It’s all I have left and the show must go on.

  • IMO it doesn’t matter how long your married, how many children you have it any, or the many decades of living together as a family the selfish narcissist will cheat & abandon you. Unfortunately it’s their character or lack of that continues to put us through painful humiliating decisions. We have to save ourselves & our family.
    Stay strong ???????? Good luck to you.

  • CTIOD, please, please know that doing all the right things now is mostly an investment in your future self, future feelings, future recovery, future family culture (you and your kids) future identity, FUTURE. Doing all the right things now do not, sadly, make you feel less wounded, less vulnerable, less traumatized, abused and exhausted. It hurts like hell, it enrages, it bewilders, it defies imagination right now; there’s no way to the other side, to the future, except through and you are doing all the right things to get there.

    I am so sorry that this is life now. For whatever comfort good company is, know that you’ve got plenty. As for me, I’ve been chumped twice, the first time was an unfolding scenario almost identical to yours, back in 2005. A 42 y/o husband of 16 years, multiple affairs, very young children at home, finally left after 6 months’ worth of D-days after D-days, for his 22 y/o student. Again, this year, husband of 9 years, supposedly devoted step-father and family man, at age 52, left for a 23 y/o. Where my eye-roll emoji? Yes, I’m embarrassed, ashamed–am also a professional counselor so double-shame on me–but am clear headed and on the sidelines, cheering you on. Love those babies, see them, attune to them, cherish them. Spend no energy on the deeply unwell, abusive person that contributed some DNA, even when it feels like you must see him, talk to him, understand him. There’s nothing there that’s useful to understand that you don’t already know. I promise. All love and care to you.

  • CTOID – Your husband’s erratic behaviour was exactly like mine. He left for good almost two years ago. My kids were 7 and 9 at the time (my nine year old has mild autism).

    It does get better. Your fears regarding your children’s well-being will plateau when you start to feel solid footing again.

    My number one lesson is absolutely do not agree to anything with this man outside of legal counsel. Do not try to be “reasonable”. He will take advantage of this. Mine did. Luckily, I was able to eventually get things done more the way I wanted in the best interest of the kids, but it took longer because I “amicably” agreed to things while I was frozen in trauma.

    50/50 access for young children is very difficult to pull off successfully. My son derailed with all the interruptions to his sleep pattern and the inconsistency between households. I was eventually able to get my ex to agree to lots of days, without all the nights. That put us in a 65/35 access arrangement that put him in a child support paying position according to the laws where I live. He hated this and made some attempt to fight it. I was able to find a legal loophole to offer him, a moratorium on child support to allow him to build up his career (I had just supported him through a university degree in the final years of our marriage). I outearn him so I didn’t really care about his money and had no interest in bankrupting him – this was about the well-being of our kids. As soon as he felt assured that I wasn’t going to go after him for child support, he had no problem with the change, which says a lot about him.

    You stand your ground. Maybe a night, every other weekend. Then a Friday/Saturday night weekend every other weekend. Also, offer after school access, (eg. Tuesdays and Thursday) with the kids being returned before bedtime. If he really cares about being with the kids and having quality time, then having daytime hours when they are awake should be acceptable. If he’s arguing about nights, when they would be sleeping anyways, then this is about the money.

    My ex has Tuesday evening, Thursday nights and every other weekend, Friday and Saturday night only. Our son has done well with that. Otherwise, I have always been flexible about more times during Christmas holidays, Spring Break and Summer Break, and you know what? He barely ever asks for more time. He offers to have the kids one more day during Christmas, one more day during Spring Break, and a few weekends in the summer, he turns into a long weekend. Basically, it amounts to 5-6 extra days in the whole year. Big deal! The reality is that he just doesn’t want to use up all of his holidays.

    He never supervises a school trip for the kids. He doesn’t offer to help with their birthday parties, even though I consult with him each year about the theme and date, and even send him a copy of the invitation. The first time I offered him the kids on the day of his birthday, when it landed on my day with them, he initially turned it down. I’ve also offered that he gets the kids for a visit on the days of their birthdays when it’s landed on my days, he has declined by saying that he’s fine celebrating on the day he has them.

    And, I let him dig his own hole.

    I record every thing and keep a copy of every email. Emails in which I “report” to him about the kid’s progress in school and communications with the teachers. Report to him their upcoming doctor’s appointments and then the outcome of those appointment. Report to him different options in our son’s autism therapies, ask for feedback, and then follow up with what’s going on. I record every offer I make for time and when he declines. I copy every email when I’m informing him of the homework the kids need to do during the time he has them.

    One of the reasons why my separation agreement took so long to complete is that my lawyer recommended that the longer I let things stay status quo, the better it would work for me if we ever ended up in court. How can a parent argue that they would be fit to parent 50/50 when there is a pile of evidence showing that the one parent does all the work? When there is evidence that there has been opportunity to spend time with the kids that has been declined?

    You want to do the same.

    Your STBXH is high on his affair. Just like a heroine addict, his priority is the euphoria he’s experiencing now that he has all the freedom to do what he wants. The well-being of the kids comes second. Do not allow yourself to be intimidated by him. Let a lawyer reassure you through the process. I live in a no-fault province with 50/50 becoming more the established norm, but when it goes to court, judges are rarely granting 50/50 automatically if there is already an established access that has been much less, when there are really young children or children with a disability involved.

    Although a swift divorce shows your mightiness, heed your lawyer’s advice if he/she recommend letting time pass in order to establish a “de facto” access, meaning that once a schedule has become established and the kids are thriving, it becomes much harder for another parent to argue why that should be changed, especially if it’s been shown that you don’t keep the kids away and the parent hasn’t done much to step up.

    Will this relationship last? Who knows. As CL said, it doesn’t mean that it’s a great relationship to hang on to. Your kids will learn from you as the stable, moral and sane parent.

    It’s not often that these relationships last in the long-term, and when they do last in the long-term, they are not typically very healthy. Kids don’t usually like to be around that, but they will make due because they want to bond with their father and they make the best of crappy situations. Don’t worry that it means you will lose them.

    Also, it’s pretty typical that judges will now put into an agreement that romantic partners are not to be introduced to children within a year, and no overnight stays of a romantic partner. Make sure that gets put in there. That way, if these two move in together, you have the grounds to insist that visits be done at another location (ie: the grandparents home) and that the affair partner has to go somewhere else on the nights the kids sleep over. You can’t keep this woman away from them forever, but you can make it might inconvenient for them.

    It also helps to find out more about this woman’s background. I was able to learn that my ex’s OW was charged with assault against her husband, given a no contact order for a year (the charges were dropped on that condition), forced to take anger management courses, and has a history of substance abuse in which she was seeing an alcohol advisor. It was enough for my lawyer to recommend that we insist on clauses to (a) have mutual approval for third party child care and (b) right of first refusal for child care in the agreement. What this means is that when the kids are in his care, they cannot be left on their own with anyone without my agreement (unless it’s a family member, like grandparents). The agreement specifically states that they cannot be left on their own with anyone with a history of anger management or substance abuse. It also means that whenever the kids need care for more than three hours at a time, I am to have the first right of refusal, meaning that I have the option to take the kids back.

    Again, we have no power to keep affair partners away from our kids in the long term. However, there are some legal ways to make things inconvenient, minimize exposure or prolong the inevitable.

    Hope this is helpful to you.

    Stay strong. You are mighty.

  • Well CL and CN, thank you so much. I started the day crying on the bathroom floor, and the response here has scraped me off that floor and put me back on my wobbly feet again. So much of what you’ve said is just spot on. I can’t tell you how much it means to have people backing me, sharing their experiences and helping me believe that one Tuesday, some time in the future, it will all be ok.

    As fate would have it, today I also received confirmation that my application for a decree nisi has been accepted. So I’m one step closer to being fuckwit-free.

    Cake time is most definitely over. Dickhead.

    • Strong is crying on the bathroom floor. You ARE mighty.

      Cake time is most definitely over. He’s now forced to feed on a sugarless, flourless, tasteless, pile of s**t.

      You can take time to gather your own ingredients so you can make the biggest & most badass tasty cake for you and your children. And you have the luxury of adding and subtracting ingredients while possessing the most impressive power of strength and being the most amazing role model for your children.

      One day at a time, but each day Dickhead free.

  • There is a common thread in these and past posts. In addition to having a character disorder, cheaters seem glad to let someone else do the challenging work of actively raising a child. My ex Douche used to say, “You gotta have a mule” when talking about his job as a big shot executive. Meaning that he needed to have someone working for him who did the heavy lifting while he got the credit. He used to call me his “home mule.” He said he had a “work mule” and a “home mule.” I laughed because I thought he was just acknowledging what a hard worker I was. But when I was trudging through the toddler potty-training, snotty-nosed, crabby-kid stage with our daughter, I looked at him once and said, “You know, if we were divorced, you would have to learn how to actually do this yourself once in awhile!” We divorced after D-Day 16 years later. CTIOD, you are not his mule any more, and if he wants to see the kids a meaningful percent of the time, he is finally going to have to step up. Based on his track record, I sincerely doubt he is going to do that. Keep good records.

    • Intothelight,
      A very thoughtful post.
      So true, the narc CEO does seem to need someone else to do the real work, the heavy lifting, so to speak.
      My cheater never changed one diaper, ever.
      I cherish every moment of my babies daily care, cooing and smiling at me as I changed their dirty diaper. From the very first day of their life, and every day after, my girls knew who the present, sane, loving parent was.
      AND, my cheater stayed, well sort of.
      I come here to encourage new Chumps to get rid of the cheater, no pick me dancing allowed on CN!

    • Intothelight, you’ve explained this so well! I was TOTALLY my Ex’s mule, for lots of stuff, but especially where the kids were involved. I did all the heavy lifting and most of the day to day care, PLUS I spackled for him like crazy and did a zillion things to encourage connection between him and the kids.

      When I stopped doing those things for him, after I finally got him out post DDay #2, he trashed his relationship w/the kids within a year. Had opportunities to fix it (I encouraged he and the kids to see a family therapist together, encouraged them to continue to have short visits with him, in the hope there would be improvement to that relationship …). Couldn’t sustain the effort required for that, for more than a few months, started getting pissy about the fact everything with them hadn’t gone ‘back to normal’ yet. Trashed that relationship again.

      Selfish yes, but also very very lazy. I hadn’t thought of him as a lazy guy, ’cause he worked for hard for his education and career. Note the ‘his’ there. For anything else? ENTITLEMENT. And that meant he felt he shouldn’t have to work at maintaining our relationship, or his own rel with the kids, etc.

      Sucks to be him, for sure. But I will never forgive him for the pain and abandonment he inflicted on my kids.

  • You’re amazing and strong. You went out and filed when you realized there was nothing more for you to do in this relationship.

    As for your ex? He might end up being a total loser, who never sees his kids. He might become a half decent dad. He’ll probably never become a great dad though. There are plenty of stories of dads dropping the ball once the divorce is over. All I can do, is tell how mine ended up. We’re 3 years post divorce now. He married OW and they have a child together, as well as her toddler from her previous marriage. Like in your situation, she was a family friend.

    He also wanted 50-50 visitation. I immediately demanded mediation, as I refused to negotiate directly with him, as he had become threatening towards me. The moment we sat down for mediation, he dropped his 50-50 claim, saying it had been an “opening bid”. (WTF, what is this? Buying a new car?!?) He ended up getting them for two weekends a month, and two evenings a week for dinner. He’s supposed to have them for various minor holidays, like Columbus and MLK and all that. He never has them. He has them the minimum required to still look good.

    I sometimes ask my kids how their weekends were. Well, it turns out that my ex didn’t magically become a unicorn for her. He does what he did at home: Play computer games all day long. She’s in charge of everything in the house, as well as working full time. What a prize she has won! She helps my kids shower. She cooks them dinner. She parents them. He has them ask her for permission. Honestly, he’s worse parent at her house than he was when we were married.

    My kids come home exhausted and crabby from his house, and are thankful to be home. It takes them about 2 days to get back in to the normal here at home, and they are sooooo happy here. All three of us are. Life is so much calmer and happier without me asking my ex constantly to “help”. (WTF, are we equal partners or am I your mother?)

    Aside from the divorce, the kids are doing great. They are doing well in school, they have friends. They are the most caring children I know. One of my son’s classmates moms came up to me one evening at swimming lessons and told me how he stood up for her daughter when she was being teased. I take 100% responsibility for that.

    Tracy is right: The kids only need one sane parent, and you’re the lucky one that you get to be that parent. <3

  • Yes and yes and yes to everything Tracy said.

    I’m three years past Dday and one past divorce. I still find myself slipping into co dependent patterns that it sounds like you avoided. Yay!! Start now doing grey rock and building a new life without him! Establish early your boundaries. And in time, the world will start to feel right again.

    Hugs to everyone in those first few months. It’s hell but there is light on the other side.

  • I just wanted to write and let you know that you’re not alone. My then-husband and I had been together 17 years, almost 13 of those married (we did celebrate our 13th anniversary, but I didn’t realize he was already cheating). I wasn’t pregnant, but we had three great little kids, ages 7, 4, and 2 when I discovered the affair.

    My ex pulled all the usual BS just like yours– when he threatened to go for 50/50 custody, I told him that he would be 100% responsible for caring for the kids on his time. I told him I would not swoop in and help him as a babysitter. That was the end of that discussion– I got primary custody.

    Is he their beloved daddy now? Hah! His relationship with them is like that of a distant uncle. They go and visit (only 2 of the 3– one is no longer welcome because the Schmoopie stepmother doesn’t like him), but they would rather be with me. When he gives up a weekend or overnight visit, they are visibly relieved.

    So, whatever it was that I married has proven that he has no heart– almost two decades together, and he cheats with a woman he meets on Ashley Madison. She was married with kids as well, and he didn’t care that he was destroying his family or the lives of her two kids. His relationship with one of our kids is nonexistent, and the other two go along to get along but don’t ever say that they miss him or wish they could spend more time with him. That doesn’t seem to bother him.

    He’s the defective one, just like your STBX is. I think we married men that we told ourselves were great people, and maybe they did have some positive qualities. Overall, though, I know that I married a needy manchild who didn’t like competing for my attention, and that only worsened when we had children. I have been divorced for over six years, and my life became so much happier and carefree once I ditched him. Unfortunately, it took the pain and betrayal of his affair for me to see that he was bringing me down.

    My advice for moving forward: treasure your three great kids– you got them out of it, right? Take each day at a time and move forward in small ways (like opening a new bank account, putting his stuff in garbage bags, etc.). You will eventually come to realize how much there is to enjoy and maybe how much you’ve been missing out on because he held you down. It will take time, but CL is right– you will find meh. Take care!

  • You are living my life that started two years ago. It DOES get better. Remove yourself from his nonsense as much as you can and don’t feed into his BS! It will fall apart. Mine pulled the I am not in love with you card when I was 9 months with our third. We did marriage counseling and he left when our daughter was 6 weeks old. He tried to come back and forth for a few weeks til I finally filed for divorce and never looked back. It didn’t work out with his OW. Shocking! She was my friend (so I thought) and He ended up cheating on her too … the story goes on. You will look back and be thankful you got out when you did. Be happy you have 3 beautiful children and try to see the positive – there is better out there. Document EVERYTHING now. Keep a calendar daily of occurrences and his contact with the children. Good luck!

  • Document every damn thing you do for these kids. Don’t encourage him to see them The longer you can go as the 24/7 parent, the less likely he is to get 50/50. You might start out by saying “no overnights”; the more you can show the court that he’s an unplugged parent. the better off you are. He wants 5 days/nights in Glastonbury? He leaves the kids with you? Document. And as you start considering child custody in the legal negotiations, go in knowing what you want, your bottom line: You for sure what Christmas morning every year. You want Mother’s Day, your birthday, and some time on each kiddo’s birthday (no matter whose custody day it falls on, even if you are just getting a couple of hours on a school night.

    Take CL seriously about finding your tribe and building your network. There are other single mothers who need an extra hand. You might be able to watch each others’ kids to get time to shop or you might be able to get together and let the kids play while you share a pizza or you might take a gang of kids out while you walk to stay in shape. You can also think about whether it would make sense to have another adult in the house–like the old TV show, Kate and Allie, or like my aunt who moved in when she was widowed with 3 kids the same ages as yours. She lived with them until the 3rd kiddo went to school. Do you have an older relative who could help? Or a neighbor who would benefit from sharing a home? Now’s the time to be creative, to figure out how to have all sorts of support as you raise these kids. Think outside the box.

  • People like him repeat their patterns. Soon he will find fault with the new partner. You have a chance to make a peaceful, stable life for yourself and the kids. It will be tough. But it will be an honest life, no having to look over your shoulder worrying about him cheating again, and having him pick you apart and criticize you over everything. It will take a few years, but things will stabilize.

  • The closing paragraph in this post was fantastically timed!

    My STBXW left me and the kids 2 years ago for an older married man who’s wife was pregnant with their second child (his 4th). My wife cared for their daughter in our home nursery and was friends with her. All sorts of shit ensued over the last two years, false arrests and custody battles started by her! I had no lawyer and no way of fighting it, but in the end I was awarded full custody of my son and shared custody of my daughter. She has none to little visitation with my son and certainly no overnights.

    After my son told her what he thought of her recently (he’s 13 so you can imagine) she emailed me to say she has no words for the hatred she has for me for removing her ability to be a parent!

    Today I went to the pub and Toasted to her and all her fuckedupidness!!!

  • I have literally asked every one of those questions!

    I needed this today, thank you! I did win!

  • This is very similar to my situation minus the friend but add in being 4 months pregnant with our second child. So similar i could have written it myself and 14 months later and with nisi in hand I needed to read this today.
    Court for access has been postponed to the new year but not until the judge decided to grant him time over xmas, xmas day inclusive and splitting up our two children because the **** works shifts.
    I am in the UK so please feel free to contact me. I trust he sucks and his troll too (still together) but goodness me it hurts when you send off a baby for his minimal contact time and they scream leaving and returning and for god knows how long in between.
    Remind yourself it is a long game and that the front row in hell is waiting for him!

    • Hey Oncechumpedtwiceshy, not sure how to get in touch off thread… Struggling with access arrangements at the moment and could do with some advice! xxx

  • Thank you for the comments. Had a great day with the kids today, we bought a Christmas tree and decorated it while watching Elf and just pottered about. It was lovely. But I still just have this horrible sense of dread that won’t go away. I don’t really miss him, I mean he wasn’t really here even when he was and I can’t really remember the last time he was nice to me, that we were properly happy together. But hard not to feel quite scared and sad all the time. Eurgh. But he sucks. What a dickhead. And my kids are amazing and happy, and that’s all that really matters.

  • Damn I never realized how many jumps there were out there with younger kids not alone three of them! I’m in the same boat and I think I died every single day for the first 6 months or so. I hope you keep looking forward! I just wanted to send my love!

  • So I don’t really understand. I would do anything and everything to not walk out on my kids – not living with them isn’t an option. So how is an option for my (soon to be ex) husband? Just… Why? Maybe he hated me. Maybe our marriage was crap. It’s unfortunate that he totally failed to tell me about that before he got me pregnant and started shagging someone else… But just… How is leaving your kids even a thing?

  • I could have written this exact same article, word for word. I’m almost 2 years out and it still amazes me how text book these cheaters all are! For 3 months my ex left me in a complete state of panic because he “wasn’t sure if he loved me anymore” until I finally found all the text messages and hotel receipts. He left me and our 2 young kids while I was work one day. Came home and all his stuff was gone. Although he left in the most cowardly way possible, I’m glad he did it that way now. I know I would have fought to keep it together for the kids, but I never would have got over the affair and my life would be miserable. I’m not totally at “meh” yet…..but I feel like I’m myself again. You can do this! Although cliche, time heals. I wish you all the best!

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