I discovered in September 2018 that my husband of 3 years (together a total of 13 years) had been having a 2-year affair with his coworker. (The affair started before our 1-year wedding anniversary and spanned our time trying to get pregnant, our time doing IVF, while I was pregnant and while I was home with our newborn.)
After a big show of remorse from him, we tried reconciliation including: marriage counseling, individual counseling for both, a change of jobs for him, “no contact” between him and his affair partner (AP), and a whole lot of detective work and “pick me dancing” from me.
When I discovered in December that he never truly went “no contact” with the AP, and was planning to meet up with her again, I left with our 6-month-old son and filed for divorce. Now 1 year later, our divorce will be finalized in a month. We co-parent our 18 month old son peacefully and my soon to be ex-husband pays a boatload of child support (as he should).
To this day, my ex reaches out to say how much he misses me, how much he has changed and how much he wants to be a family again. He reluctantly signed the divorce papers after saying that isn’t what he wants (but I insisted).
I have resisted him every time, but I feel my resolve weakening. Part of it is just that I miss him and who I thought he was and what I thought we had. And I fall into hoping that maybe this time really would be different, that me leaving for good and filing was the wake up call he actually needed and now he has changed. It’s very hard to let go. But I think a bigger part is the GUILT.
How do I let go of the mom guilt that is suddenly overwhelming me?? Because he has made this divorce MY choice (he doesn’t want it), I feel like I am responsible for breaking up our child’s family. My son will never experience a Christmas with his parents together. Even though I know logically that this is my ex’s fault, it now feels like mine. I look at my son and I think well if I loved him enough, wouldn’t I try again? (I’m sorry if that sounds awful to other divorced parents out there!!!) I come back to this over and over again that somehow I am failing my son by not trying again, especially because his dad is willing. I want what is best for my son and if there is any chance that I can be happy with his dad (maybe there is!), shouldn’t I try? Can you help me overcome this mom guilt or maybe see this in another light? I am terrified of making the wrong choice here.
Dear Guilty Mom,
Oh hey, I recognize this flavor of hopium — wanting a hit on the ol’ abusive relationship For The Children. It’s not that you’re faltering and want him back, it’s… it’s… FOR THE FAMILY! A child needs a father! An Intact Family No Matter How Dysfunctional Is Better Than A Single Mother!
Have you been freebasing David Brooks articles? Your sweet boy is 18 months old. He hasn’t grasped the Patriarchy yet. I swear that cute gurgling baby is not judging you for refusing to take back a fuckwit. DROP THE GUILT.
Where is all this judgement coming from? Why do YOU, the chump in this story, think you have something to feel guilty about? Why have you internalized the misogyny that a woman reunited with a cheating fuckwit is better than a strong woman without one?
Oh, because he’s not a cheating fuckwit? HE CHEATED ON YOU FOR TWO WHOLE YEARS. That you KNOW of! Before your wedding! During IVF! During your PREGNANCY! He endangered your child’s life with his fucking around!
Think for one minute of how much deception that requires. How much utter contempt he must have for you and your shared life. Think about him arranging even a single fuckfest while you’re there shooting yourself up with hormones for IVF. Think how much you risked your own health, what you put your body through, to give this man a son. And what he did with that gift.
New life literally hangs in the balance and he’s out getting strange co-worker pussy. Oh hey, don’t mind the STD risk. What’s your health worth? What’s a child? What’s a birth defect or an infection?
Oh, everything’s okay? How about if he dangled you over a balcony? But you clambered back up, are we cool?
HE did this. And worse, he did it for YEARS. That takes a staggering amount of mindfuckery. He’s such a good liar you wouldn’t know if he’s sincere or if it’s Wednesday.
You know why it’s hard to let go? Because you haven’t let go. Somehow this guy’s mindfuck is getting through to you.
To this day, my ex reaches out to say how much he misses me, how much he has changed and how much he wants to be a family again.
Oh HELL no. We are not having relationship autopsies with an ass pimple. (I choose this cartoon deliberately, so that every time you look at this post you’re confronted with a pock-marked butt.) He’s reaching out? DELETE. BLOCK. Route all emails through your lawyer. Parenting software. Neutral drop-off places. Chaperons. Armed guards. SWAT teams. Concertina wire. NATO peacekeeping troops patrolling the border.
You catch my drift? DO NOT LET HIM IN YOUR HEAD. No conversations, just logistics.
He does NOT miss you. He misses cake. He has NOT changed. (And you wouldn’t know if he had, see “Wednesday.”) He wants to be a “family”? What’s that even MEAN to someone so morally bankrupt? Oh, you mean he’d like to be King, with a nice birthing vessel there to do the wife appliance things? And a son to reflect glory on him so long as he’s not sticky or tired or in need of a diaper change or have any needs? Could someone please do the adulting for this guy? He has a very important appointment with his girlfriend(s).
THAT IS NOT FAMILY. He’s not going to give you the life you thought you were investing in. He’s going to give you some sick dystopian hellscape even Margaret Atwood couldn’t dream up. How do I know? BECAUSE YOU WERE LIVING IT FOR TWO YEARS.
He loved it! How do I know? HE KEPT GOING BACK AND DOING IT.
Wouldn’t you like another round of heartbreak? Wouldn’t you like to model that to your son? Gotta get the misogyny started early while they’re young and impressionable.
My son will never experience a Christmas with his parents together.
My son will never experience his mother sobbing on the bathroom floor having discovered dad’s multiple infidelities.
My son will never experience a Christmas in which dad is inexplicably unavailable/on his cellphone texting his mistress/openly contemptuous of his family.
My son will never experience a woman being sexually humiliated.
Fill in as needed. You know, make a whole journal and give me a hundred sentences.
I’m sorry you don’t get the intact, two-parent nuclear family you thought you were getting. I’m not being snarky. You invested a lot in that dream. I invested in that dream. A few bazillion of us here invested in that dream. It’s not a bad dream if you have two ethical, loving people. You didn’t get that. And you don’t CONTROL that. You didn’t make him cheat, he CHOSE that. And you’re not responsible. It’s heartbreaking, but you have ZERO responsibility here for how he shattered this. You DO have a responsibility, however, for how you react. And I’m telling you, do NOT choose more abuse. (And NO, he has NOT changed. Besides, what’s it been, a few months?)
Because he has made this divorce MY choice
He’s pinning this on you? The fucker isn’t one bit sorry, ergo he has not changed. He’s every bit the mindfucker he always was.
my soon to be ex-husband pays a boatload of child support (as he should).
And there we have it.
Cake is delicious and costs less.
Now then, stop these crazy thoughts and pull yourself together. You are ENOUGH. I know you’re a new mom, and exhausted, with baby vomit in your hair. These are sleepless days of wonder. It’s totally understandable to want help. Heck, I would’ve dragooned total strangers to do 2 a.m. feedings (but they kept escaping my nets). Mothering alone can be a slog. But do not ever, EVER mistake that hardship for “missing” a fuckwit. Those people take a hard thing and make it harder. They exact a steep price for “helping” you. (And by “help,” I mean Do The Things They Have a Responsibility to Do.)
I’m now going to hand over the floor to Chump Nation who can tell you about their mightiness single parenting. And I imagine a few dozen of them will tell you what happens next when you take this guy back and what that looks like 25 years later.
Freedom is within sight. KEEP GOING. You can DO this.