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When You Work With Your Ex

Dear Chump Lady

I’m in the unfortunate position of having to continue to work in a business with my ex. I know this isn’t ideal, but we work on opposing days and most communication is via email and purely business related. I’m hoping that we can sell the business and finally go our separate ways soon or that I can find a way to buy him out. I find great satisfaction in watching the business grow and prosper after all the years of hard work and sacrifice. Our employees have told me that without me here they wouldn’t stay because he is such an unreasonable person to work for. Business is booming and I’m enjoying the financial freedom of having my hard work pay off.

He seems lukewarm because he’s onto shinier things. I believe there are some mental health issues at play with him (understatement of the century but I’m not a medical doctor so…)

He recently went to the Phillipines for six weeks and guess what! Surprise! – he met someone else while he was there. He didn’t tell me this when he got back (whatever) but I saw an email to our business email account thanking him for instructing an immigration lawyer on this woman’s behalf. I saw an exchange where he wrote back explaining that his girlfriend is pregnant now and he’s trying to get her into the Country before the baby is born.

(I can hear you rolling your eyes from here … you don’t even know where to start to you?)

I’m actually surprised by how off kilter this makes me. I’m incredibly angry for so many obvious reasons, the most painful is that he’s estranged from our daughter and is making no effort to make amends for any of the awful cruel things he said to her during the whole discard of me and the family. I must have had some hopium left that after getting some distance he would realize quite how badly he’d messed up and try at least to give his daughter some peace.

I’m furious that he and this person created a new life… for what? – to get her a stronger case for immigration? He’s 53. He’s a shitty Dad.

I’m disgusted – for so many reasons – and appalled that he thought it was ok to use the business email for this shit.

I’m so angry I don’t know how to get rid of the anger and bitterness I feel. I KNOW he sucks but he’s pulled the rug out from me AGAIN.


Dear Foxlilly,

Not many of us get to witness karma this up-close and personal. He’s 53? He’s known this woman for 6 weeks, and she’s already pregnant and he’s already retained an immigration lawyer for her?

You know this won’t end well, don’t you?


I don’t know how to get rid of the anger and bitterness I feel.

Your feelings aren’t the problem here. It’s your proximity to the fuckwit that’s the problem.

Because your livelihood is intimately entangled with his, you’re still very vulnerable to him. All his stupid shit is YOUR stupid shit. He can upend your life at any moment with his wandering dick nonsense. I don’t care how successful your business is, it’s founded on instability — him.

You feel “incredibly off-kilter” because you’re still the hypotenuse. This is still primo cake-eating for him. You’re the wife/worker bee appliance. There (literally) taking care of business while he’s out screwing around. How wonderful for HIM. How awful for you and your employees. Alternate work days cannot spackle over how shitty this is.

I bet anything your business is successful because YOU work at it. YOU sacrifice. YOU show up. So move heaven and earth to buy him out today. Research this. Go see a banker and figure out your financial options. Do you have a friend, a family member, a generous aunt, someone who can be an investor with you? I think you could probably swing a cat and find someone better than your ex to run your business with.

And yes, you might have to take a loss. But remember, you built this thing while dragging the weight of a fuckwit! Think of how you will soar without the fuckwit!

But Tracy, maybe the fuckwit is really talented at something and contributes greatly to the company?

First, everyone is replaceable. Second, whatever his contribution, it doesn’t outweigh his “mental health issues,” his reported unreasonableness, and his coming drama tsunami (can you say “paternity test”?)

I must have had some hopium left that after getting some distance he would realize quite how badly he’d messed up

I think you must’ve had some hopium to agree to this co-working situation while going through a divorce. Why you didn’t divvy it all up while you had lawyers on the job. I wonder if there wasn’t some bargaining stage of grief going on, where you thought, well, we can’t be life partners, but we do sell auto parts well together… (or whatever your business is). And you agreed to this. And thought that as long as you played the familiar roll of Hard Worker to his Prima Donna Fuckwit you could at least Salvage Something. Not have to take on so much loss at once.

Instead, what hopium got you was MORE vulnerability and MORE upset to his crazy.

Face it, this arrangement is NOT sustainable. Let the new baby mama be the kick in the rear you need to break things off with him completely — in work and in your personal life. I don’t know how old your daughter is, but if you’re in your 40s or 50s, I imagine she’s grown or close to it. She can figure out her own relationship with her dad. You need to parachute out of this mess.

Once you’re clear of him? Watch the “anger and bitterness” disappear. No contact is where it’s at.

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.
  • Please please please take chump lady’s advice and get out. You especially don’t want to hang in there until his latest shenanigans turn into the huge dumpster fire that they will and his sponsored partner goes after half of your business. You sound resourceful and you deserve to have things go your way act now while he’s feeling smug and distracted and make him an offer he can’t refuse. Good luck.

    • That’s what I was thinking!!! This chick he has gotten knocked up after six weeks knows how to get into the country, and that’s what she’s after. The only way to get her here is to marry her, and this is the absolute cliche of the mail-order bride. She’ll eventually leave him and go after half of what he has. Which will be half of what YOU have, OP. Disengage now!!

    • Get a hold of your lawyer. Using the business email might be grounds for dismissal from the company….granted, it is more difficult because of the co ownership…..but if there are any certifications you are both required to keep, or any ethics laws, the lawyer might be able to make a strong case for you to buy him out.

      And if he used company emails, did he use company funds? That would definitely be something you could sue him over and get possibly the courts to force him to sell his part of the company to you.

      I am not a lawyer, so consult a good one

      • Also, if the lawyer is for the business, you may be able to pay the lawyer from the business account….drawing down value….or maybe pay out of pocket and have the business reimburse.

  • Business founded/owned together? Check.
    Ghosted daughter? Check.
    Foreign affair accomplice/girlfriend? Check.
    No pregnancy yet but I did hear recently something about adopting in the future…the next bright idea from the dim bulb of relationships.

    1) If there’s any way to buy him out, do it. It worked until the presence of another partner showed up. When you can maintain the illusion that he is by himself crying into his cornflakes, you could be there. Not anymore. New girlfriend in your face wakes up old deep wound (re-traumatizing to the max).

    2) Can you both bail out of day to day and install a general manager, board of directors, and both take an equal paycheck? My GM runs the show. Neither of us has to be there. Our corporate attorney is my good friend from high school and so there are neutral parties involved to keep it running smoothly.

    The main thing is to protect your assets from the incoming girlfriend and any future marriage partners. Put that first on your Ta Da list. Get a lawyer to help you. Cheaters flash the assets to impress the girlfriends and of course believe the attraction is all about what great guys they are.

    Work toward getting away and out of the day to day interactions as best you can. Your mental health is at stake. As the brains of the business, you hold

    This is divorce with special extra complicated circumstances….I am sorry you are going through this. DEFINITELY do not try to figure this out on your own. Get the lawyers and therapists on board to help you with your next steps. The infidelity has infected the business too.

    • TYPO….

      “as the brains of the business you hold the winning hand.”

  • Leaves the business behind FOR SIX WEEKS. I am surrounded a small business people and grew up in one. No one leaves for six weeks. Or four. Or three. Maybe two but they check in all the time and hate to be away from it. You clearly do not need him for the business.

    • Not only did he leave for six weeks he chose to be away at the same time as our one employee was away finishing tradeschool; the only employee who was trained to provide decent cover for him in his absence. Honestly I think I’m so steeped in his tomfuckery things like this are just another “normal hurdle” for me which is insane.

  • One more thought. You don’t need the business involved in any law suits that he could be the target of with this irresponsible behavior.

  • This is timely. The pandemic arrived as I was filing (still joint) taxes, pulling together documents for future divorce filing, separating insurance coverage, getting “my affairs” in order including a will.

    My STBX claims to have butt-dialed me last night and began to ask me how I was doing. When I changed the subject and asked him why he wasn’t repyling to the very few, brief business-related texts I had sent him, he feigned confusion. And when I said he wasn’t being truthful about understanding texts, he “shhhhed” me.

    He doesn’t do e-mail or any on-line communication. Yep, I’m an appliance wife.

    That brief contact initially had me hopeful that he wanted to re-connect. My plan now is to stick with grey rock and extreme social distancing.

    I can’t even imagine sharing a business and having a front row seat to his nonsense. Thanks for reminder to protect my assets and my heart.

    • He shhh’ed you?

      Narc all the way. Get out of there. He thinks he’s sooo smart and can control you. Get those taxes filed and peel outta that relationship!

      My favorite image from today’s episode: “DUMPSTER FIRE OF DYSFUNCTION”

    • Lemonhead – something that jumps out: “he doesn’t do email or any online communication.” Does he not have the ability to do so or is he unwilling to use email? Think about it – this is a control mechanism by him. You have the right to determine how and when people communicate with you. Repeat that to yourself several times. Ask your attorney if they agree. Tell this doofus you want ALL communication by email and give him the address you want him to use. Tell him you will not respond to ANY other kind of contact from him. (If you have kids say that in cases of dire emergency other methods may be used (be prepared to ignore things he considers an “emergency.” ha) You want everything documented and email is the best way to do that. That puts control in YOUR hands as to when you choose to open messages and/or respond to them if warranted. Expect anger or whining from him, but be strictly disciplined about it. You got this. Take back your control!

  • FoxLily, listen to ChumpLady. Heed Velvet Hammer’s words. It is eerie how similar your stories are, check, check, check. These cheaters aren’t original. They operate from the same disregard of the consequences of their choices.

    His betrayals will only escalate. ChumpLady said “Some money is too expensive.” You are the brains and backbone of this business. He can be gone for a six week fuckfest. When was the last time you had a day off? If you left I bet your employees would go with you. Get out.

    Use that rage to propel you to a better life. Ask your lawyer if there is anyway to reclaim what he is spending on his whore. Don’t take this from that fuckwit.

    You are going to have a good life the farther you get away from daily reminders of his abuse.

  • I’ve nothing to contribute to Tracy’s stellar advice.

    Just had to say that whenever I see “Ode to Assface”, my day is made ????

    • Yes totally! The butthead cartoon is one of my faves!!! Second only to the shark cartoon with the “Fooled ya!” bubble.

    • When I see ‘assface’ (as I know the pics title now)
      I Always thought it to be a scrotum head.
      I guess art is in the eye ???? ???? of the beholder ????

  • Being continually exposed to his careless cruelty and dysfunctionality is terrible. I hope there is a way to buy him out in the near future.

    You are being triggered constantly. It’s a very painful way to live. And unhealthy.

    • Agreed. CN are pulling me out of the forest today … haven’t seen a tree for so long lol

  • Are you sure she is actually pregnant, scan etc, pregnancy tests might not be hers, ow do lie about being pregnant. It might not be your husbands, in uk a survey stated 2 out of 10 dads are not the biological father. a miscarriage is terrible but she could say she had one. ow or om do tell terrible lies. Getting pregnant is the ultimate in the pick me dance.
    In Asia ie Philippines its normal for women to put men on a pedestal. She’s probably using him to come to your country. She will tell him what he wants to hear.
    There’s no fool like a old fool. He will be expected to pay for her family, he’s a cash cow

  • Lilly, I can foresee an OW trying to mooch in on your business. I bet fuckwit told her what a successful businessman he is….

    Buy him out even if you have to starve and go naked.

    I feel so sorry for this new baby that is coming into the world.

    It never ceases to amaze me at how stupid people can be. Including us, the chumps, who chose these idiots. But at least we have learned our lessons.

  • It’s so damn bizarre how these fuckwits think shit like this is completely normal behavior. Total mindfuck.

  • Thank you everyone for responding. I’m hanging out to read everyone’s replies.
    Chump Lady thank you so much for the laughs this morning. I’ll post a longer response later today.

    • My parents had a small business together. My dad’s AP was one of the female employees. They are now living or married together. I have no idea their status. I have treated him like he died since he basically ignored me once he left. My children know of him now that they are older but have NEVER met him. He is an evil man. He would take jobs he decided were worthy of his work and expertise. The ones that weren’t, were never acknowledged with a return call. He just ignored them completely until they went away. He was an asshole business man too. This happened in the 80’s. My mom got a job doing menial work. Divorce was a whole other game. I survived.

      GET OUT NOW! You can be liable for all of his dumbness!! ALL. OF. IT. Check how your corporate business was established. What liability was assigned? How was the division of assets spelled out when a partner dies or is bought out? Did you address that? If not, sell and run! Let him have it at your loss. Restart again. It’s not worth it!

    • Foxy
      Mutiny. Form an employee owned company and take everyone with you. A walk out of Massive impact. Vet your suppliers and dump any Switzerland employees. You should have droves of reliable replacements. Especially now with COVID. (Cheaters Offer Validation In Death. Covid) ????

      He’s lining up Your replacement in his fucked Up world. Hello. He’s also going by the cheaters handbook-WHICH MAKES THEM PREDICTABLE. Cheaters Like EASY, especially when they run out of $$$. And right now your business is the gravy train. These assholes repeat the same behavior and are predictable. Use that.

      If anyone can destroy YOUR BUSINESS, It’s Him. Talk and think Strategically with a business lawyer(s). At a minimum Get 51% of the company so you’ll have reigning leverage. Those kinds of scenarios. I’m sure there’s a few corporate execs out there more than willing to strategize with ya.

      Blindside this moron. Vengeance is best served Cold. Klingon there????

      You’re never gonna find No Contact when you go where ‘it’ habitates

      Peace ☮️ Love ❤️ and Understanding but seek ye wisdom above all else!

      Or this approach… turns hate into action

      You got This Foxtrot ???? and We Got You.

      ( )

      ML. OUT.

  • Please realize that you can be held liable for a business partner’s actions. The same terrible judgment and worse ethics that led him to cheat on your marriage could lead him to make choices that jeopardize your business and even expose you to third-party legal claims and criminal liability. Please get out of this situation ASAP.

    I agree that it’s likely you will see in retrospect that you were the driving force in the success of this business. That success will follow you, whatever comes next. You deserve so much better, and you will find it WITHOUT this cheater in your life.

  • Do you have a corporate lawyer? To protect your interests? If my livelihood was at stake I think I’d second mortgage my house to buy him out. What do the finances look like on his end? If he buys you out, do you know what that number needs to be? So you are set to move forward? Can you take all business clients and start anew?

    • I just got off the phone with my lawyer. He’s figuring out the best strategy to protect my interests in the business and also to help me formulate a buy out plan.
      The lawyer did say that we have room to prepare as she’s not in the Country and not cohabiting yet.
      This really was the kick in the butt I needed.

      • In my case I also have to make sure that my actions don’t destabilize the company and the well-being of EMPLOYEES. Sadly the affair affects SO MANY….the cheaters are so self-centered they just have no idea how extensive the relationship damage is. His affair jeopardized the business, literally, and I told him so. The shock waves and repercussions continue to this day.

        • Me too .. a great deal of my energy is currently being used up in damage control. His six week absence really showed me how calm, happy and productive we can be at work without his drama.

  • My ex had a (failing) business in the UK making machinery very badly. Even though it was in his name and I wasn’t involved I was told that for 7 years after our divorce became final if someone died because one of his crappy welds gave way they could possibly come after me, too, legally for damages, as he of course had hardly any income. I can’t tell you how relieved I am that 7 years is over. Get out as soon as you can.

  • Oh my. Foxlily you have got to get him out of YOUR, yes, YOUR business today. Specifically before he marries baby momma and she figures out how to get her greedy fingers into this.

    Now is actually a good time to get a loan, find an investor, do whatever it takes but remove him. Heck you can buy him out through monthly payments if you gave good enough business income to cover that. Do not wait for the business to grow bigger, because when it does, it will become that much more costly to buy him out. Do not sit on your arse here and wait and hope this will all end well for you somehow. It will not and you’ll end up holding the bag of poo while he rides off into the sunset. Other posters have good points that any messed up decisions he makes, you will be liable as a partner. Get him out asap especially when you have an impending fuckwit #2 on her way. This is a crisis and a cold bucket of water over your head. Thank God he used the business e-mails, so you know what’s going on and can take action today to protect your interests. You need to get aggressive here and get a pitbull lawyer to help you along. Good business lawyers can help you not just legally, but with good connections in terms of investors, banks willing to lend, etc. Start looking high and low.

    As for hoping he will show decency toward you or his daughter……it’s like hoping a snake will turn into a puppy. Not going to happen and you have to accept that this is who he is – a fuckwit to the core of his being. So keep in mind that this fuckwit already proved to you what he is capable of – he wrecked your marriage and he can wreck your business just as well. Beware. This is war Foxlily.

  • What if you start something else on the side, a competitor, siphon off the clients slowly, then let this business fold naturally? You could also hire the employees slowly, over time.

  • Honestly Foxlily, if your ex is anything like mine, he’s already set up your downfall. Crisis is right. Cheaters tend to be miles ahead on stuff like this. I am so sorry. Hopium of any stripe tends to come back and bite you in the ass massively. You need to be considering and planning for worst case scenarios.

  • Fox, take your good employees and run! Here’s what happened to me. My husband and I worked at a firm and we owned shares. I was technically an executive director so the shares were in his name. On D day, he revealed that he had been fucking, and was now in love with, one of my clients. Each day that followed I got a new surprise- such as, he’d been cheating on me for the past decade or so. He’d been spending our money on whores, and a few other gems. Then, the other partners of the firm came to him to confront him about his behavior with the team. He’d been intimidating and bullying and letting projects fail entirely. He’d been missing in action. I thought he was at work, no one at work knew where he was. So, it all ended in a lawsuit that I had to stay out of. It was a total mess but now he’s gone. During that time, he tried to get rid of me, saying I should quit because it would be too awkward for me to work at a place where he was fucking my client. God help me! Now everyone at work knows my horrible story but they support me. It’s so painful to be abused both at home and at work. It’s frightfully common here in Chumpland. I have done some investigation about my fuckwit’s former places of employment around town. They said the same things-he was never at work, we don’t know what he was up to and he used his charms on us at first but there was no substance. He told me different stories, such as he was just generally too good for these places and he needed a great place to work ????. I believed him because I loved him so much so I brought him into my firm. He was riding on my coattails and I know that now. Foxlily- get him the fuck out and be your bad ass self, by yourself ????

  • Wow, such great advice here….

    Dumpster fire of dysfunction….LOVE it…

    I also loved “There is no fool, like an old fool”. My, my, how TRUE.

    My soon to be x husband is with a woman who is Vietnamese and half his age. I am not prejudiced against Asians, as I am part Filipina myself, but that culture is notorious for this type of behavior. It doesn’t matter how old or how ugly the coot is, he is American and therefore he has money, it is very weird. Before you know it, he will paying a crap load of money to her entire family. She is getting her claws into him. He sounds like an idiot, and an addict. You mentioned work was calm and no more drama. Maybe he also has a borderline personality disorder? Something is super off….as it is with most of them, but he sounds more chaotic than the average bear. He is a cyclone. Whoever mentioned the 6 week vacation thing was so spot on. Who the heck has that kind of time?

    Maybe “rona” will be coming to visit him soon.

    I really hope you get it figure out. I will tell you, this sight has saved my LIFE…thank you chump nation.

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