Can you please tell me why cheaters so badly want to remain friends?
A little background information — my ex-husband and I were married for 16 years, have 2 kids (15 & 12), have been separated for a little over 2 years, divorced for one.
I found out 2 days before our daughter’s 13th birthday that he was cheating on me with a woman from work (also married, 10 years younger, 2 small kids).
It slowly came out (mostly through his brother) that he had been cheating on me for much of our marriage (lots of one night stands, etc). He moved directly in with the OW upon moving out of our house. Lived with her for 3 months, proclaimed her crazy and moved out from her, talked about reconciling with me, got back together with her, bought a house with her last summer, and they are now planning to get married.
He stopped seeing our daughter in January (because she was being difficult about going to their house and he gave her an ultimatum that she either acts like a perfect child and comes there or has no relationship with him at all) and stopped seeing our son in September (because he was crying because he missed me when he was there on weekends and ex got mad that he doesn’t miss him when our son is with me).
I have been as no contact with him as possible — only emailing bills and things. He has consistently been trying to shove their relationship in my face — trying to force situations where I have to see them/talk to them/look at them (at drop offs in the past, at kids’ sporting events which he periodically attends). And last night I got this text from him:
“I saw this picture today and I wanted to share it with you. I really hope that the new year 2020, can bring a fresh start, and moving past our feelings towards each other for (daughter) and (son).”
The picture was of 4 adults wearing t-shirts that said “mom, step dad, dad, step mom” standing with a little girl holding a trophy with the caption:
“This is not weird or awkward. This is how it SHOULD be! It’s not about the adults but the kids [Ex highlighted this]. The kids watch our behaviors and listen to how we speak to and interact with each other and they need to see support! Their mommy and daddy’s significant other IS an important person in their life and all involved adults need to be able to communicate and interact with each other [also highlighted by ex]. So frustrating when the adults can’t see that and act childish and stand-offish.”
One other note, I am not dating anyone nor do I have any dating plans in the imminent future.
Please give me the reality check I need that I am not a horrible, bitter, unforgiving shrew who can’t put my own feelings aside for the sake of the kids. And please tell me why he so badly wants to shove their relationship in my face and make me be their friend.
Trying to live my own life
He doesn’t really want to be your friend. He wants a hypotenuse to bang his triangle with.
He had the OW and you to triangulate with, plus all the attendant drama with two families to break up. Divorced now, you have a new life and a choice — you can react to his drama (i.e., I Have A Very Important Shaming Meme to Share!) or you can empty the crumb tray in the toaster. Or brush the cat. Is your car inspection sticker due? Really, whatever mental energy you’re giving his fuckwittery could be used to power small engines. (Is there a solar cell for this yet? Clean energy peeps, get on this. Channel the power of fuckwits. It’s a limitless power source.)
But, but… THE CHILDREN!
Yes. Raise them. Sane parent them. Get the scheduling software.
Being Friends For The Children is not required. Following court orders is required. Not muttering curses within earshot of minors or stabbing little effigies are required. You know, civility.
Friendship is something else entirely. The poet Walt Whitman said a friend is someone you can be your most “sincere” self with. My guess is that your authentic, sincere self does not respect a man who cheats and lies, or the woman who helped break up your marriage. You sincerely do not like these people and three minutes in their company, one year out, probably makes you break out in hives.
He’s not asking for friendship, but impression management, and when you’re a shallow as a puddle of piss, to him it’s pretty much the same thing. So he’s probably confused on the subject. Anyway, “friendship” is not your problem — managing child-sharing with this guy is your problem.
He stopped seeing our daughter in January (because she was being difficult about going to their house and he gave her an ultimatum that she either acts like a perfect child and comes there or has no relationship with him at all)
Have you talked to your lawyer about this? Documented it in your child sharing software? At 15 is your daughter legally old enough to decide her level of involvement with her dad and overnights? These are legal questions for a legal professional. I don’t know the answers to these things.
You’re not obliged to accept your ex’s creepy For The Children! narrative, but you are obliged to follow custody orders.
As the sane parent, it’s a balancing act when a child falls out with the Fuckwit parent. On the one hand, you get it — I know that fuckwit — on the other hand you don’t get it — children tend to love their parents, even the fuckwit ones, and they have to work out their relationships themselves. You want to support your daughter — “Perfection is not required” — but you also don’t want to triangulate with what goes on over there.
My usual caveats here are the SERIOUS issues (and sadly, we have cases of this here at CN) — addiction? abuse? sex offenders? — inform the authorities. Everything else, chalk up to Life with a Fuckwit. It’s survivable, especially when you have a Sane Parent (you!) to love.
You can’t make a unilateral decision to not let a child see a parent, however fuckwitted they are. (Ask me how I know.) You have to follow the court order — unless your child is at an age where they can decide these things. (Every state is different.)
Another thing to balance — how litigious everyone is. Does Mr. Whoresalot have the disposable income to argue about custody in court? If so, you better have clean hands, Trying. DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT, DOCUMENT.
He hasn’t seen his daughter in a YEAR? I would have every email or text exchange where you TRIED to uphold the ordered visit, and WHY it didn’t happen.
and stopped seeing our son in September (because he was crying because he missed me when he was there on weekends and ex got mad that he doesn’t miss him when our son is with me).
My takeaway from what you wrote is that he’s willfully NOT seeing his children (despite a recent custody order?) and has blameshifting excuses about their behavior that justifies his own?
Yeah, what a pal.
He has consistently been trying to shove their relationship in my face — trying to force situations where I have to see them/talk to them/look at them (at drop offs in the past, at kids’ sporting events which he periodically attends)
Look, he’s a serial cheater. Time to pity the idiot who “won” him and see yourself and the kids as liberated. Let him “shove” his relationship status in your face — whatever. Good luck with that, Toots. If he shows up at the occasional sporting event, okay. He should, he’s a father. And he can pay the child support and do the other adulting too. You don’t control him showing up on neutral ground like school. You do control your reaction — so don’t have one. NO KIBBLES.
As for the meme he sent you. Come on, consider the source. Would you take fashion tips from a hobo? You’re going to take parenting advice from a fuckwit?
“This is not weird or awkward. This is how it SHOULD be! It’s not about the adults but the kids [Ex highlighted this].
Yes, what teenager doesn’t thrill to wear matching t-shirts with their parent.
The kids watch our behaviors and listen to how we speak to and interact with each other and they need to see support!
Dad is a serial cheater. What does he need support with? Crafting dating profiles?
Kids do watch behaviors. Model sanity and not taking the bait.
Their mommy and daddy’s significant other IS an important person in their life
Key word “significant.” Until the next one rotates through. Who’s the lucky match this week? I would greet the latest Schmoopie like the meter reader.
and all involved adults need to be able to communicate and interact with each other [also highlighted by ex].
See “scheduling software.” He can use it, or he can STFU.
So frustrating when the adults can’t see that and act childish and stand-offish.”
So frustrating when adults communicate via passive aggressive meme and demand “friendship” — because nothing says “I want to spend more time with you” than divorce.
Please give me the reality check I need that I am not a horrible, bitter, unforgiving shrew who can’t put my own feelings aside for the sake of the kids.
You’re not horrible. You’re navigating a really difficult, painful situation that two fuckwits created. I’m sure it’s not the first or last difficult, painful situation your ex will create. I predict that soon he’ll be sending his “Friendship” meme to his next ex-wife… and the one after that…. and the one after that.
Keep rocking your new life.