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How Do I Find the Courage to Leave?

Dear Chump Lady,

I married my husband in June of 2015 after being together for 6 years. He is the only man I have ever been in a serious relationship with.

In December of 2015, my mother died unexpectedly. I was a complete wreck for at least a year. He was my ROCK. In June of 2016, my father was diagnosed with esophageal cancer. Again, a complete wreck. Still my support and my rock.

A few months after my father’s diagnosis, my husband started cheating with a coworker. For over 2 years. I had NO idea.

We had ups and downs of course. I wondered if I still loved him or not. We tried to get pregnant for 2 years. It was a tough rollercoaster. He was seeing her all of this time. Throughout my pregnancy. My son shares the same birthday as her. She had NO idea that I was pregnant so he was lying to her too. He brought my newborn son to her home when I was at work. I saw pictures.

Sometimes he takes responsibility, other times it’s because he felt like I didn’t like or love him anymore. I’ve heard lie after lie. I found out about the affair in October of 2018. I keep telling myself I’m going to leave (I have constant suicidal thoughts, nausea and vomiting, panic attacks) from all of this. But I have a home that I’ve invested so much time and money in, my identity and my 2-year-old son that doesn’t deserve ANY of this. I hurt for him and I am afraid if I leave, I will ruin his chance at a normal life. I’m also closer to his family than I am my own. I’m scared to lose them.

How do I gather up the courage to leave and how do I know if it’s the right thing to do?



Dear Scared,

Is leaving the right thing? How do you feel about your continued investment in a marriage that gives you suicidal thoughts and panic attacks? It’s been 1.5 years and you describe the distress as “constant.” Why do you think you should live like that? Why do you think you feel that way? Could it be you feel unsafe because your situation is, in fact, unsafe?

I know this decision feels impossible. So let’s break down all the scary things and face them together, okay?

1.) He went from “rock” of support to cheater. He was there for you, until he wasn’t. In fact, during the time you thought he was there for you — supporting you through your father’s cancer diagnosis and trying to have a child with you — he was cheating on you. So, you can’t really feel safe in any “support” he offers, as you know that he’s completely capable of faking his investment.

This new knowledge negates the “supportive” partner narrative. How would you ever know if he really has your back? Could he eventually morph into a truly supportive person? It’s possible, but he’d need to want to. And we have zero evidence of that. In fact, we just have bad signs. Which takes us to data point, #2.

2.) He lies and blameshifts.

Sometimes he takes responsibility, other times it’s because he felt like I didn’t like or love him anymore.

He had ethical ways to address this — difficult conversations with you, therapists, or divorce lawyers. Fact is, he was quite happy to have you (unlovable, withholding you! projection much?) and the OW. That’s cake. TWO YEARS of cake. He’s excusing his sociopathic weird-ass double life by blaming you for not loving him enough. Insult to injury.

He chose this behavior, that risked your health, your child’s health when you were pregnant, and your emotional well-being. He felt ENTITLED to do this. That’s the problem.

Were you distracted by grief, losing your mother? Or concerned about your father? That’s adult life. Partnership is weathering these crises together. Good partners realize that they will not be the constant focus and that one’s happiness is not always of paramount importance. (It’s not irrelevant, but it doesn’t supersede the welfare of others.)

He didn’t feel loved? Making a child with someone is an act of love. Putting your body through pregnancy and childbirth is love. Showing up every day is love. Investing in a shared family life together is love. Where was HIS investment? He’s got a lot of nerve putting this on YOU.

3.) The OW lies.

He was seeing her all of this time. Throughout my pregnancy. My son shares the same birthday as her. She had NO idea that I was pregnant so he was lying to her too. He brought my newborn son to her home when I was at work. I saw pictures.

The OW had no idea you were pregnant? Where did she think the baby came from? A turnip patch?! Did she imagine her Very Single Boyfriend waltzes around with newborns? Enjoys accessorizing with snugglies? WTF?

“He lies to me too!” Really? Then why didn’t she ditch him? Why invite him in for photos? I’m sure OW’s shocked and concerned. (Eye roll.)

Scared, she’s snowing you. And the fact that she wants sympathy from YOU, after conspiring against you for TWO YEARS, is disgusting.

Other disturbing details — why talk to her? Because your husband won’t level with you? Also, what do THEY do when you’re at work? Do THEY work?

I only see one ethical adult here, and it’s you. Listening to a couple liars would make anyone feel wobbly. Scared, why do you want to be part of this triangle? Imagine how peaceful it would be to not need details from either of them, and to live in the land of Meh.

4.) Your sunk costs are keeping you stuck.

But I have a home that I’ve invested so much time and money in,

There are other homes. I’m house proud too. I’ve left a lot of homes I really loved. Heck, I planted an entire garden before I left my cheater. I planted a Prairie Fire crabapple tree and whenever I’m in that town I drive by just to see how glorious it is. I GET loving your home, as do a few bazillion readers here — dream other dreams.

It doesn’t matter how lovely your home is, if it’s filled with misery and suicidal thoughts. YOU make your home beautiful. YOU fill it with love. That follows you.

my identity and my 2-year-old son that doesn’t deserve ANY of this.

He’s two. Do you remember anything from age 2? Two is easier than 12 or 20 years of modeling chump/cheater narcissist/eater of shit sandwich dynamics to your offspring.

Your identity? What? As a hypotenuse to a couple of fuckwits? That identity? Of being with a guy who could lie to your face and risk your health for TWO SOLID YEARS? You want to be arm candy to THAT?

Oh no, you mean the life you’re fronting of normalcy and Intact Family Togetherness? Inauthenticity, the constant diet of shit sandwiches is death by inches. People can smell the phoniness. No wonder you have panic attacks.

Why not consider a different identity? A mighty mom to a toddler son — an INTACT family, minus one fuckwit.

I hurt for him and I am afraid if I leave, I will ruin his chance at a normal life.

I just got my copy of Normal News, and Dad With Double Life did not make Father of the Year.

Really, have a hard think about your values. Do you think all of us here who single parented and divorced aren’t “normal”? That we didn’t give our children “normal lives”?

Do you see the judgement? If you want to stay with a guy who makes you feel SUICIDAL because of intact-family-I’m-married! status, go head. You’ve spent 1.5 years suffering to maintain that status. And giving him lots of power to decide your self-worth should he decide to strip you of that status. How’s that working for you?

I’m also closer to his family than I am my own. I’m scared to lose them.

They’ll always be in your son’s life. Do they know their son cheated on you for two years? While you were pregnant? And they’re okay with him? I’d say these are not people you need in your life.

If they don’t know, then perhaps they need to be tested with this knowledge. I hope they’re in your corner.

Scared, it’s sane over here on the other side. I hope you’ll make the leap and come join us abnormal people.

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.
    • Thank you for your no BS response. It’s just what I needed! I need support from people who have been through this garbage before. As far as his family goes, they are well aware of what their son did and they are disgusted by it. I know they will stand by my side if I choose to leave. The OW found out that I had a baby on the day he was born when I posted a picture on Facebook and tagged my husband in it. I’m afraid she will become his step-mom and I don’t want that bitch around my child. This SUCKS. Thank you SO much for your response. I needed it.

      • So after she found out he’d been lying about a CHILD, she still welcomed him into her home, and they took pictures?! Where did you see those? — also on facebook? He thought it was a good idea to take his innocent child to her home?! Make sure his family knows that part.

        • Yes she is crazy! The OW sent a picture to MY FATHER! And me! I do not talk to her anymore because I lose my cool. Big time.

          • Treat her like she’s dead to you. Never look at her. Never talk to her. Never respond to her. Walk right by her. She’s beneath you. Treat her that way.

      • Scared, I have a very similar situation. And, I must tell you, I always hated when I heard, “RUN”, I think it’s insensitive to say that to someone in our situation, but the truth is, it’s what we need to do. Getaway from all this insanity.

        Be careful, very careful with his family, there is a reason he is like this and lots of times it has to do with genetics + upbringing. I learned it the hard way by being completely betrayed by my in-laws and people that I felt were my rock. They all disappeared without any pity in my life.
        Regarding the OW having access to your child, make sure you find a lawyer that can help you with that, there is a limit to what can be done but don’t believe in what a lot of people say about the new partner, you have some control and some saying in who gets to have access to your child, make sure you document everything in order to show the courts that your partner and the AP made horrible choices and can’t be trusted. I did and now the OW can’t get near my kids because of that. People called me vindictive and unrealistic due to the fact that he “could do whatever he wanted since it’s his life” and guess what? He could not, they could not. Do whatever YOU think it’s right for your child, there are still some judges that don’t buy into all this “they deserve to be happy and we need to co-parent like BFFS bullsh**”.
        It is an awful situation we are in, there is no silver lining, no light at the end of the tunnel as far as I can see right now, but make sure you control what you do, get away from them, I didn’t for years and regret it so much, he used all my reactions to make me look unstable, such a cowardice thing to do, especially to the mother of his children, and now he is using this against me.

        Make sure you rise above everything, they go low, you go high. Don’t react to his triangulation and shenanigans. Easily said than done, I know, but try to read as much as you can from what people write here so you learn from OUR mistakes and don’t make them YOURS.

        Focus on being the best mother you can be and the best person you can be, I tried to meet new people and it made things worse, let them have their second teenage years and be the adult you have been all this time. Take one day at a time, make plans for something fun for you and your child. Things only now after years I am starting to do and I should have been focusing on enjoying my kids and not on getting him back. We were conned, it sucks, we’re here talking about OWs, APs wneh all we wanted to do was to still live in our beautiful bubble but it was all based on lies, like many other marriages are, to learn that I wasn’t “special” was brutal and I am sure it is for everyone, especially when you didn’t grow up feeling special. But you have your child now and you can write a new chapter in your own family, your child will grow up knowing he is very special to his mom and he will feel the same towards you. Sending you hugs!

        • “ChumpRoyal” said:
          ‘I always hated when I heard, “RUN”, I think it’s insensitive to say that to someone in our situation, but the truth is, it’s what we need to do. Getaway from all this insanity.’

          Sometimes hearing “RUN” is just the push you need. I remember after D-day with my last fuckwit (seems that the third time isn’t always the charm) I was vacillating. I was so angry, I never wanted to see his face again. But it was my third marriage, and I didn’t want to be a third-time divorcee. I was 62, retired and worried about money. I never was able to have a child of my own (although I tried until I was 42) but I helped raise the fuckwit’s lovely daughter. If I left him, I’d lose her. We were living on a sailboat under 40 feet. I sold my two houses, cars, and everything I owned to live on that boat, and the money went to pay his credit card bills. Tens of thousands of dollars, and I have NO idea what he spent it on. Porn, hookers, drugs, gambling, alcohol? All distinct possibilities, but I had no idea. And no money.

          The couple on the next boat over heard him ranting at me — it’s hard to miss a full-on rage attack three feet away, especially when it happens 3 times a day. One day, the woman followed me to the marina pool. She sat down next to me and started a conversation with me, and told me about how she’d had to leave her first husband with nothing but a briefcase and her cat (in a paper bag). I found myself telling her about my husband whom I’d just discovered was having an “emotional affair” with his high school girlfriend and how angry I was. I’d put up with the verbal abuse, the tantrums, the “I love you but I’m not in love with you and I never was” speech, the financial malfeasance because at least he wouldn’t cheat on me like my first two husbands had. And then he did.

          “Run,” she said. “He’s a narcissist. He will never change. Just grab your purse and run.” How would she know? She’s a clinical psychiatrist and well-qualified to recognize a personality disorder. She also set up domestic violence programs in more than one municipality.

          I’d been on the fence, finding just as many “reasons” to stay as to go. But Elle got through to me that day. I got on the phone to Enterprise and a day or so later left with what I could carry. That was in October 2017.

          Turns out there are employers that will hire a 64 year old retiree. I lived in my best friend’s basement for two years, but after the divorce was final and I had avoided owing him alimony, I got a job. I have a cute little apartment now, and it’s heaven. I come home after a 12 hour shift and it’s peaceful! I had forgotten how wonderful it is to have peace. No one screaming at me, criticizing, blame shifting, gas lighting. No one spending my. money but me. I’m saving money for my own home, and in a few months I’ll have enough to find a buyer’s agent and start looking. Yes, I’m going to grow old alone — but if you (or the original poster) are young enough to have small children, there is still plenty of time to fix your picker and find a good man. Truthfully, I’m old enough that my best friend and another close friend are widowed. So I could be alone now even if I hadn’t divorced the fuckwit.

          “RUN” was the best thing anyone could have said to me. I wasn’t just crazy or being overly sensitive — I wasn’t making mountains out of molehills. I was in a toxic marriage, and it was slowly killing me. Hearing the word “RUN” applied to my situation is what saved me.

      • Dear Scared,

        This will be hard. It won’t be much harder than what you are doing now. It will be easier, eventually.

        Please do not put any stock in his family. They will likely realign with him when your marriage dissolves. This is not your fault. There is nothing you can do about it. Figure out what kind of relationship you want to facilitate between your child and the grandparents and enable it. Set your boundaries. If they don’t respect them, then go NC with them as well. If they love their grandchild, they’ll probably learn to treat you with respect and civility eventually, as a means to get access to the grandchild, but this may be a 5 year process (or more).

        The OW may in fact become your child’s stepmother. But that is not a reason to stay. And if she doesn’t, some other woman might. Your EX could divorce you tomorrow and marry someone horrible. You will not be able to control his actions. Focus on making the decisions that are best for you with the knowledge that you will always love and support your child.

        Finally, there are difficulties to leaving no matter what age your kids are. But, if you leave when your child is small, your child will not remember having the intact family and all the changes that come after it. This is a good thing. You will create the healthy, happy, normal your child remembers. If I could do one thing differently, I’d have left a lot earlier.

        Start getting your ducks in a row–documents, a lawyer, a childcare plan, how you’ll support yourself. Taking action will help you build your confidence.

        We never slip into a ready made new life–we craft one as we live it making big and small mistakes as we go.

      • Scared. We understand – you are among friends here. We all get the pain of sunk costs. All of the commitment and effort you pour into day to day life at home. My heart breaks for you. I know the pain of letting go of “home”, the pure sole crushing grief of letting go of the dream (I say this from the perspective of a woman preparing to list her dream home on the market next week. My fuckwit currently resides in a rental home on other side of town closer to his fuckbuddy).
        But I also remind myself that I have felt consistantly rejected and lonely in this home since we moved in a couple of years ago – and it wasnt until he left for good did I realize that I felt LESS alone by myself. No longer pick-me dancing no longer walking on eggshells.

        “YOU make your home beautiful. YOU fill it with love. That follows you.“… I too needed to hear these words too Scared, as I search for one bedroom apartments – my “life boat”. Once I fill my apartment with friends and ‘Marie Kondo’ the shit out of it- I will be home.

        • Thank you. It’s so nice to know I’m not alone. I have a therapist and a support system but this is the best yet. I have severe ruminating thoughts (I am seeing a doctor and it has improved significantly) and I obsess about things until I am physically sick. Example: being alone, starting over, not being with the father of my son (my parents fought but stayed together), I’ve even had thoughts that maybe I won’t like my son as much because he reminds me of his dad who has hurt me so much. I know it sounds silly and horrible and I recognize that a lot of it isn’t true, but the thoughts haunt me. This is honestly the hardest thing I’ve ever been though. Even more so than the death of my mother.

          • Scared, you will still love your son. He is his own person. (And very much so at age 2!) DNA is not destiny. Your son will not be your soon-to-be-ex. (I’m going to refer to your husband that way, let’s be forward-thing.)

            Why not? Because he has you as the SANE parent. Leave this situation for your sanity. The situation is insane. You are a healthy person in an unhealthy relationship trying to get healthy. Don’t model this misery to him.

            Google trauma bonds.

            You can untangle all of this, but the CURE for it is acting in your best self interest and your son’s. Which means saying no to abuse. Protecting yourself. Getting out. Make a plan. Make lists.

            Talking a lawyer is totally liberating. You hand this over to a professional. Someone who will fight for you and have your back. This community can emotionally support you, but you need a professional to get you out.

            I promise, when you’re out you will wonder what took you so long. And you’ll marvel why you ever tolerated it.

            My son’s father is a deadbeat. A no show. A guy who used to be functional and professional and cancelled his subscription to adulting about 20 years ago. I don’t associate my son with him. And what similarities there are physically don’t even register. Please take this fear off your fear list. A mother’s love is primal. You bred with a fuckwit. It happens. MILLIONS of people make this mistake. Life goes ON. In fact, life is pretty indiscriminate. I’m sure I’m descended from generations of fuckwits somewhere down the line. You are too. Focus on what you do control — getting out. Getting healthy. Being a sane, loving, stable mom.

            You can’t stay there and be these things. ((hugs))

          • Hey Scared,

            “As a Religious Freak”(stated on a police report by Unhusband) DIVORCE wasn’t in my vocabulary…The night he told he wanted a divorce I had a panic attack and had to go to the ER. During the next two years, Unhusband LIED about being with “the girl” (who btw HAS SAME NAME I do) they got engaged the day after our divorce. Got married three months later. THEN “those people” had the nerve to want to take my boys (2,6) out of the state to Virginia because “those people” were in the Navy and going back to Sea. I remember vacillating about moving to Virginia because it was easier “for the children”. What finally broke me was my Pastor prayed for me and told me if I moved to VA it would cause Cancer in my body because of how much HATE I carried. More importantly he said my relationship to God would be destroyed because I would ultimately blame God…

            That last part scared me more than anything…I have gone through seasons in my life when I didn’t have encouragement or guidance. I ULTIMATELY decided to stay in Michigan and FIGHT…

            That *9 months* I lost 30 POUNDS due to anxiety and nauseau. I TOTALLY get it!! I found the most AMAZING Doctor who helped me get through that year. I had to cut out Caffeine, Sugar, and eat small meals throughout the day just to get through.

            2 Weeks before our court hearing with the Judge. My parents were going to be flying in for a weekend for my youngest sons birthday. I planned and asked for this weekend in advance. Unhusband obviously forgot and tried to take boys that weekend. The text messages I received were so horrific that my Mom took away my phone. Boys and I ended up staying with them. Then Monday morning I get a call from County Sherrif, stating “those people” claimed I kidnapped my boys and was taking them out of state. I told the Sergent what was going on and he came over to do a wellness check before older son went to school.

            To this day, my Husband and I retain that police report to remind US of what “those people” are capable of. Fast forward 5 years “those people” got out of the Navy and tried again to have “week on and off” schedule. I said NO, get a new attorney and of course I WON. Now I anticipate, “those people” are going to TRY again to take boys because “those people” want my boys to be in a “Better” school district. There buying land and “custom-building” their house.

            I say ALL that to say this, “When NOTHING goes Right, Go LEFT”…

            Take anti-anxiety medication and anti-nausea!! You already have WORK… that to me is the scariest aspect of leaving. My boys have made it clear throughout this whole process that they Love me…

            “You have a DIVINE Animal right to protect Your Life and the Life of your Offspring”…(Enough – Jennifer Lopez)

            This is the Poem I wrote finding out about ALL the betrayals, hope it inspires!!

            Sometimes, it is not about the promise…
            but WHO made the promise…
            Sometimes, it is not about the vow that was made…
            but about WHO will always walk beside us…
            Sometimes, it is not about the words that have been said…
            but WHO we are listening to in the quietness of the heart…
            Sometimes, it is not about fighting, even when right…
            but WHO you kneel before and ask for help…
            Sometimes, it is not the ugliness of choice…
            but WHO turns my view to all the beauty surrounding me…
            Sometimes, it is not the walls that are boxing you in…
            but WHO I remember has the power to destroy them…
            Sometimes, it is not the pain of betrayal…
            but WHO will never FORSAKE ME!!!
            “An original AJ Stoddard poem”

      • That’s been the biggest shit sandwich I’ve encountered. It sucks! My DD23 is Facebook friends with her—vomit. And both kids were at the wedding (I think–I don’t ask any questions).

        But you will always be the MOM. Keep giving unconditional love and support. Be the rock. Don’t be drawn into the upcoming triangulation. Cool. Wow. Bummer.


      • My heart goes out to you, Scared. I was in the same position as you…a newborn, abandoned in a foreign country, and then had to make that call to stay or leave. I took physical and emotional breakdowns as my cues to leave. My LO is now almost 3 years old, and we are a team. He’s a happy, beautiful and intelligent little boy. I’m still putting my life on track, it still hurts at times, the first year was the hardest thing to experience. But I can tell you this, nothing beats the feeling of lightness you get when you are no longer living with someone who makes you feel like trash. I KNOW my son wouldn’t be happy like he is if his mother was always crying or paranoid or was begging her husband for love. He’s seen a happy, confident and fun mother. I feel worried at times that I won’t be able to make it sometimes or that a child needs a father etc. There will be questions one day. But I try to take every day as it comes. I tell myself I protect my son and God protects the both of us. The universe has a higher power or logic that protects everyone and provides for everyone. Trust in that thing you can’t see because clearly the person you CAN see is not trustworthy. And trust yourself and your intuition (the illness you’re experiencing is that cue) and start charting your course. I have NO doubt that you, like all the resilient women here, will land on your feet and surprise yourself everyday.

  • I feel like I could’ve written this letter myself. Difference is that my husband felt unloved because I had PPD and he offered zero support. Thanks Chump Lady…. I’m definitely saving this one.

    • I too could have written this letter. I have a three year old and a one year old. He began cheating when I was pregnant with our first child. I tried to navigate his affair while discovering myself as a mother and taking control of raising our daughter. Somewhere in there, he got his AP pregnant. They have a two year old.

      I have hung on because I don’t want to split time with my kids or have the OW in their life. But I am not receiving the love I deserve because I AM FUCKING AWESOME.

      I told him I want a divorce, I have a lawyer….he played sad sausage and he hasn’t left. Acting like everythig is normal. He is so damn charming that it is hard not to get hoovered in.

      Thankfully, I have a friend who is ever so gently pushing me to the edge and keeping me honest about my reality.

      It is hard to break free from this abuse.

      • Well said! You are fucking awesome! Hugs to you and your babies. It’s hard to let the AP “win” after fighting. In reality, what do they win? A cheating, lying asshole. I finally didn’t care if they were together and as soon as I left, they imploded. Talk about a win-win!

      • Oh my God…THIS IS EXACTLY MY SITUATION. Fortunately my husband has NOT gotten her pregnant (that I know of). I would literally go off the deep end. I actually begged him not to have unprotected sex with her. My husband also won’t leave. Pouts around when I say I’m done and then a bit of time will pass and then he will joke around and pretend that everything is fine. IT’S NOT FINE. I just see NO light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how hard I try. I just didn’t picture this for my life and I’m angry.

        • I see you. I hear you. I am angry. I never wanted part time status in my kid’s lives. Trying to make amends with time for me. God knows I have done all of the work so far.

          My friends tell me the kids will always see me as home and as mom and eventually will know I am the #1. It’s a long game. I can play long game.

          They also tell me I will eventually enjoy time to myself more than I realize. It is just sooooooo hard to take that step.

    • Ugh, RIDICULOUS! Yeah, let’s bail on our wife who just endured childbirth and now has PPD. I also had PPD and things got WAY worse when I found out about the OW (my son was 7 months at this time). These people make me sick.

  • The sooner she leaves with her son the less damage ex will manage to inflict.

    • This for sure. I have a sneaking suspicion that a large number of chumps had that behavior modeled for them, maybe not with cheating but with unequal marriages.

  • I know it’s hard to leave, but every single chump on here wishes they had done it even earlier and wasted less years on a sleazeball cheater.

    • Yes! God, two years of wreckonciliation that gave him time to poison his family against me, and mess with my head and my kids’ heads was NOT a good decision. The ties that bind us to our in-laws are slender threads indeed. They don’t talk to me or my kids. Who knows what ex said to them (especially about the kids), but master manipulator that he is, it worked.

    • Hell to the yeah!

      Should have left in 2012 after first DDay. Five more years of blame shifting, gas lighting, lies……lead to brutal discard. Five years I can’t get back.

  • Oh, after D-Day my husband also said “I felt you didn’t like me”. I was like WTF? I loved you with whole my naive heart! All these evenings when we were watching Netflix and drinking glass of wine while talking, all these holidays together, all these things I was doing to help you with your busy day schedule…That meant I didn’t like him?? They really have a lot of nerve to blameshift us chumps. I am preparing to leave him soon, but COVID-19 has compliiicated everything…I am collecting me weapon and then I will go.

    • Oh Scared, we were all scared. Please know that is natural but if you can get past it your life and your child’s life can be amazing. I think the problem is that people stay for the kids as if that’s a good thing. Listen to me here. This is very important.

      You don’t stay for the kids. YOU LEAVE FOR THE KIDS.

      No matter what you say later in an effort to teach your children what your morals are it pales in comparison to what you show them daily year after year after year. By staying you send the message that you condone this behavior, that it’s OK and acceptable and possibly desired by you. Think about that. Your child sees your husband disrespecting you and he sees that as how you are to be treated. He sees that as how women are to be treated by men. You consistently model this behavior every day. You reinforce it every day. What message are you sending? You are saying there is an unequal power distribution in relationships. You are saying one person does whatever they want and the other has no choice. That one person breaks their word, repeatedly, day after day with no consequences. That one person’s happiness is more important than the other person. That lying, gas lighting, blame shifting, and obfuscation are all morally acceptable. Is that what you want your child to learn? To come back later and play the whole “do as I say, not as I do” card won’t work. You will have spent years reinforcing just the opposite with your own behavior. Get your ducks in a row, find a great lawyer and lead a life you are proud to model for your child. Keep coming back to us with questions on Reddit or Facebook and we’ll help. You are never alone.

      • Oops. Sorry Free_Soon. I clicked in the wrong box and posted my general response attached to your post..

        • Oh my God…THIS IS EXACTLY MY SITUATION. Fortunately my husband has NOT gotten her pregnant (that I know of). I would literally go off the deep end. I actually begged him not to have unprotected sex with her. My husband also won’t leave. He will pout around when I say I’m done and then a bit of time will pass and then he will joke around and pretend that everything is fine. IT’S NOT FINE. I just see NO light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how hard I try. I just didn’t picture this for my life and I’m angry.

      • This^^^^. A thousand times this.

        My mother stayed with my father, who was violent, abusive, and a cheater. I once pulled him off of her when he had her down on the floor choking her. I told her we needed to leave, but she didn’t. It was a terrible lesson for me, and it did a lot of damage to the relationship between my mother and me. She did not protect either herself or us. Yes, she was an abused wife, but she also had options and she made choices. Even though I loved her, I knew I needed to protect myself, and it created a distance between us.

        And even though I swore I would never be like my mother, I ended up married to a man who throughout our marriage devalued me while engaging in a series of emotional entanglements with other women (I don’t know if any were physical but I wouldn’t be at all surprised if they were). I stayed married to him for 35 years, making excuses for his awful behavior, before I finally left.

        Do not be my mother. Do not be me.

        • Exactly this. Except I would bet money they had sex. They always do.

      • This 100%. Not leaving for the kids is my second biggest regret.
        Time to show your child how brave you can be.

      • ^^^^THIS^^^^

        My mother modeled the unequal, depressed, pick-me-dancing spouse, trying to make the best of things, for close to 30 years — I believe for the same reasons the letter-writer cites, plus perceived “lack of proof” of his cheating (though in hindsight, the signals practically screamed). As soon as the kids were grown, he dumped her for his affair partner of the time (secretary). We kids didn’t really know what was going on, but we witnessed the vicious fights, silent treatments, and behavior and stories that didn’t add up; we sometimes were made unwitting tools; we absorbed the emotional tension intuitively; and in general, played the role of pale satellites to the main event in the center ring.

        I proceeded to replicate the pattern in a near-30-year non-marriage relationship. Because I thought that’s part of love — putting up with a pattern of depreciation, being used, and accepting exclusion from important aspects of the loved person’s life and deepest self. Further, I thought I was worth no more than that and should consider myself lucky even to be tolerated for so long, in all my inadequacy.

        Anyone in doubt, I beg you: don’t stay “for the kids.”

        • Yes, yes, yes and yes.

          “You don’t stay for the kids. YOU LEAVE FOR THE KIDS.“

          I cannot stress this enough.

      • My mother constantly said, “I’m only staying for you kids.” And I remember thinking, every time, “Please don’t do me any effing favors.” I didn’t replicate their pattern, fortunately, but unlearning their lessons made my twenties extremely stormy. Make the best life you can for you and your kid, and let go of the rest — because that’s really all you have control over anyway.

    • I too got ‘I thought you didn’t love me anymore’. After both affairs (it’s hard for Cheater to keep the bullshit straight, I guess!)

      What this actually means is; ‘I was no longer the only and absolute center of the universe for you. You expected me to adult. You expected me to reciprocate the care and support and affection and great sex you provided me. You didn’t look at me with those adoring googly eyes anymore, like you did in the beginning. You didn’t put up w/my bullshit as well as you used to. You didn’t keep INCREASING the ways you showed me you loved me. You no longer had as much time to spend on making me feel good, because, you know, kids, aging parents, work responsibilities, friends, house ….’

      My theory is that, because narcs don’t bond, the only thing they recognize as ‘love’ is infatuation and adoration. Ego kibbles. Adult life still has moments of those, but it’s also made up of a lot of other, real-life love aspects that are SOOOO UNSATISFYING to the narc.

      And of course, they aren’t supposed to lift a baby finger to participate in a relationship, so when that infatuation calms down they feel totally justified in looking for/accepting it from someone else. While keeping the spouse appliance handy, since they provide so many valuable services and kibbles….

      They are another type of human being, for sure. Just wish I’d known that far earlier!

      • This ????. 1000% Facts!! This is the best layman’s description of what it’s like to be married to a narcissist. Ask me how I know

      • Definitely describes my narc ex-H! Wife appliance expected to do more & more while he wanted a gold medal for mowing the lawn!

    • Admit, deny, or blame being the fav from the cheater’s playbook. Entitled and and any excuse will be used to justify their cheating. Their viewpoints are completely warped and center around their happiness being the most important – who gives a damn about the chump.

  • Wow! I love your no BS answer…so much truth that many don’t want to hear. I saved myself & saw the truth! I didn’t want to live another minute with the unhealthy energy. It took awhile , but the peace without him is amazing. It’s not an easy life , and there is still uncertainty. The peace outweighs all of it!!!

  • The more of read of other’s situations, the more blessed I realize that I am.

    When I confronted my cheating ex-husband, he got right in my face and said “yes, I love her AND I DON’T LOVE YOU.” What other response could there possibly be than “How do we divide the assets?” I never considered an attempt at reconciliation, never sought advice from my pastor, never vacillated on the divorce and never looked back. God gives us righteous anger for a purpose. That purpose is to give us the fuel to move forward in our lives.

    Yes, I was scared. Yes, I would wake up in the middle of the night with panic attacks. (Clonidine helped.) I was 63 years old and had been married for 42 years. I had never lived alone. And yet, I got through it with the grace of God, my wonderful sister and my friends. I know I am better off today because I did not delay. My marriage was dead. Bury the body. Grieve and move on.

    • This is me also except the age and I was only married 15 years but yep pretty much my story also .

      Hugs to you DW

    • This is me at 66 today. Future looks scary for me but Id rather embrace the unknown than the known with an untrustworthy man. Looking for my new home, whatever that is starting today. Ducks, get in a row!

    • Same story. 54 and married 28 years. He just left and I pined away/did the pick me dance for a few months but once I confirmed the presence of OW I filed. It’s been a year since he left and I’m very scared but I couldn’t go back now. Once I put some time and distance between us I could see he’s a terrible person. Just waiting on my attorney to get me temporary support then will push forward with the divorce.

    • Yes, my ex’s mask came off on dDay and despite his rage, and in my confused state, I asked about trying marriage counseling and if he would at least pause his relationship with OW. His cocky no & that relationship is continuing, were all I needed to know there was nothing left to save. Forget saving anything from the burning house fire, the house is gone and there’s only ashes left.

  • Do you want your husband modeling relationship behavior to your son? Because what will he learn? That depressed spouses as a reaction to abuse = how it is done.

    Be the Sane Parent. Get the divorce. He can keep the house (which will net you money), or you will sell the house and split the proceeds (which will net you money) and you will live in a new place without someone who fucks you over literally and figuratively.

    Yeah, you will have to co-parent for 16 years, but do it now. Before he twists and warps your son.

    Someday, your son will ask why you got divorced. “Because I took my vows of ‘forsaking all others’ seriously and your father didn’t.”

  • Get the Chump Nation guide to a better life, “Leave a Cheater, Gain a Life”. Read it or listen to the audiobook. Read “Cheating in a Nutshell”. Read everything you can about narcissism, gaslighting and trauma bonds. Get you a therapist who agrees Adultery is abuse.

    Make a plan. Start interviewing lawyers. Stop talking to OW and that asshole cheater faking being your husband. Put all your energy into yourself and your son. Most importantly don’t tell anyone what you are doing but your therapist and your lawyer.

    Get out while he is busily fucking OW. Try to keep everything as normal as possible while you make your exit strategy. Get checked for STI. Check out your finances. So many of us have gotten fucked financially too.

    There is nothing left for you but to leave. Leave after the first lie. You have nothing to work with here. Don’t be me and stay for decades and multiple DDays. Get out while you and your son are young. Get out while there is time to rebuild.

    • I’ve done all of these things. The only thing I have left to do is fill out the paperwork. I just can’t bring myself to do it. Ugh.

      • Scared, get a friend to help, encourage and push you. I had one and it made all the difference.
        When you are weak, they can be strong.

      • Filling out the paperwork isn’t the actual divorce it’s just the first step. Take the first step. Protect yourself and your son. If you don’t do this what will eventually happen is he will find someone worth leaving you for or he will wait for the kids to get older (my husband pulled this trick). Would you rather face this now or in 15 years?

      • I remember staring at the paperwork. Then putting it away untouched. Then getting it out again and feeling guilty I hadn’t filled it out yet. And on and on.
        Looking back, I honestly don’t remember when exactly I filled them out, but I did.
        It takes time to wrap your head around these things. Filling out the papers was like admitting to the complete loss of a dream.
        my time came eventually and yours will too.

    • Ditto to everything. A few months before my DDay, I suspected something was off, but I couldn’t pinpoint anything. Looking back, I think I really knew, I just didn’t want to admit it. I still loved the spouse, but I didn’t like him. That’s the point where I started picturing a life without him. I contacted counsel, and I was told what to do to start planning my departure. I started putting aside money and changed accounts before court orders froze everything. When DDay finally arrived, I was ready. I called counsel the next day and said, “It’s time.” Then I found a therapist who specialized in divorce and narcissistic abuse. (And, yes, she believes adultery is abuse, and so is dragging out legal proceedings and refusing to comply to court orders.) Granted, a year later we’re still not divorced. He’s going through the narcissist playbook page-by-page. Some days I feel like this will never be over. Some days I feel like I’ll be ruined financially (which is his goal). I had to leave my home of twenty years; the home I had decorated and landscaped and built a life in with the person I thought I’d be with forever. I don’t relish the thought of starting over at my age. But, this is what I know. I may not have the best finances when all of this is over, but I will be free. I may not have the size home I want, but whatever I can afford to purchase, it will be mine. The best day for me will not be “meh.” My best day will be when I sign on the dotted line and finally have a life of my own.

  • He took their newborn to OW’s house?!

    First of all, HELL no. Mama Bear meltdown. I’d have committed a felony.

    Secondly….yeah how did he explain that? If poor whittle OW just had noooooo idea LW was even pregnant? I’m calling bullshit on that one. Maybe cheater thought bringing an adorable baby would stop her from going ballistic when he told her? Maybe a “want one of these wink wink?” thing? Unbelievable.

    • It literally TRAUMATIZED me and I think this is one of the reasons I stay. I do NOT want my son around her. She is a trashy alcoholic. If I stay, I have more control over my son. But this doesn’t seem to be working out well for me.

      • It is totally understandable that you do not want your child around her! I am so sorry that yoiu are going through this. All i can tell you is that I wish that I would have just walked away when I first found out. Instead I am here agonizing over things and that agonizing makes me feel like I have even less control. (Hope that makes sense)

        • Amy, yes that totally makes sense! I’ve been hospitalized because of all of this. I’ve contemplated suicide more times than I can count. I wake up with panic attacks constantly. I panic until I vomit. And yet I still stay. I often wonder, what on earth is wrong with me?!

        • Amy, yes that totally makes sense! I’ve been hospitalized because of all of this. I’ve contemplated suicide more times than I can count. I wake up with panic attacks constantly. I panic until I vomit. And yet I still stay. I often wonder, what on earth is wrong with me?! And then I start to blame myself which also keeps me from leaving.

          • I am so sorry, Scared. You are living a nightmare. I am very sorry to say this, but I think the chances of this relationship working out is you stay are next to nothing. His behavior is so beyond the pale, he has demonstrated very clearly that he does not love you, no matter what he may verbally tell you. Your choice really is whether you are going to leave now on your own terms, or wait around for more cheating and lies and very likely be discarded in an ugly way. I am so sorry because I know that giving up time with your child feels unbearable. But you can come out of this on the other side with a very good life, though it is hard to see it now. Hugs to you.

          • When I was living in our house with Mr. Complete Waste of Skin (Wasband)I often panicked to the point of vomiting. Often I would stay up all night in the cycle: fear makes you vomit, then you vomit and are scared and disturbed, which causes you to vomit, which just frightens you more.

            I am a year and 7 months from leaving and 7 months away from divorce being final.

            The other day it randomly occurred to me that a year had gone past in my new apartment and I had yet to vomit in it.
            (This was when everyone was getting the stomach flu, so that was very much on my mind)

            Because I am now living in peace, it really hit me how bad it was back then! Such a sharp contrast. I thought the panic attacks and barfing that much was normal(?) or that there was something wrong with me.

            There was SOMETHING wrong but it wasn’t me.

            • Wow, you were nauseous and vomiting too?! It’s hard because I panic when I think about it being over and I also panic when I stay. So often times, I don’t know what the right thing to do is because I feel as though I can’t even trust my gut. I just want peace. I want to feel better. I’m afraid of years and years of pain following divorce, missing him, etc. but I also can’t live this way either!

      • Your son has already been forced to be around OW and might be in the future, so you staying married to your cheating husband doesn’t change that. He just does whatever he wants behind your back.

        As much as OW being stepmother scares you, you should be much more frightened of the idea that if your mental health collapses, your husband can divorce you anyway and successfully win full custody. Worse case scenario, if you follow through on your suicidal ideation, OW might end up being the only mother he remembers.

      • Chances are good she’ll get bored of having him over once it’s no longer An Exciting Affair and just having to babysit him on your Ex’s custody days.

      • Sister Scared. You will become Sister Mighty Mom. God wills it!

        OK HANG HERE FOR A MINUTE…and your path will become clear.
        But let me play a video for you. A future sci-fi clip.
        Scared stays. Gets knocked up again. Another boy. Two sons. Father begins drinking with OW. Gambles. Then Actively shows violence on the boys, vulgarity of language becomes normal while you fight for the safety of your blood and bone. He bolts to live with Jezabell. You’re alone.

        You go back to college and get a degree in library science. You Raise your boys poor. Fish sticks and fries dinners, pork n beans with hotdogs. But love ❤️. And work. You model guts and diligence through this obstacle.

        You divorce and life drops a metric ton of Good in your life. Money. Property. Love. A higher power. Beagles!!!

        One son models his dad. Dies of a heroin overdose.
        The other son works dialysis for a decade then becomes an engineer in audiology for cochlear implant tech. Successful and a member of CN.

        Scared. Stop being scared ????
        Put your bitch boots ???? on

      • Granted my kids are older but my stbx is too busy with the OW to parent.

  • I am basically in the same situation except my son is 12 (he does not know about the affair). My husband cheated for 7 YEARS with one of my best friends who also was a neighbor. Dday was 4 years ago and it was only a year after the death of our 16 year old son. OW sat with me at his funeral. talk about feeling like a complete fool. i only stopped being friends with her after she propositioned my TWO brothers AT MY SON”S FUNERAL! Then things started getting weird. she started leaving gifts in the garage in the middle of the night for our youngest son (6 years old at the time) and sending me daily emails about how she missed me, blah, blah, blah. She finally told me of the affair when I told her to take a hint and stay away from my family. then she said that she only was sleeping with my husband because she was sick of my perfect life and living in my shadow all the time. She ended up being arrested for stalking as that got much worse after the affair came out. Nut now here i sit all because after you lose a child, it is all about “time”. Time I can never get back. I don’t want to lose more “time” with my living children ( I also have a 21 year old daughter so she can make decisions on her own about parenting time). for the most part my husband and I have no obvious issues in front of my son. We do the family thing and enjoy ourselves but things will never be the same for me as far as the marriage “love”. I am just buying “time”. I also feel like our family has suffered so much loss and I don’t know if I can cause more.

    • The OW sat next to you at your son’s funeral?! See “committing felony” upthread. My God, you poor woman.

      • Hi Chump Lady! Where can I find that thread? I am looking in the archives but I seem toi be missing it? I wrote in to you recently about my current “situation”. I am looking forward to your response if/when you have time! thank you!

        • No, the remark was made upthread. In reply to the situation of the OW at the funeral. Not a separate thread or topic.

    • Amy, it’s rare that I’m speechless…. that OW and your XH are literally evil.

      I’m so very sorry for the loss of your child. My heart breaks for you.

      • Thank you. I feel like i have been in a fog for the last 4 years. My husband and I are still together, but every day I am becoming more numb. I just don’t feel anything for him right now and I am thankful for that. I just wish leaving didn’t mean losing time with my son. I cronge at the thought of it. I will never get that time back!

          • Amy, you need to take the time you need to take, and make the decisions you feel are best for you and your son.

            But when thinking about those decisions, also consider;

            – whether custody would have to leave you with much less time with your son, or whether you might get the majority of his time. Have you talked to a lawyer? What is the usual split in your jurisdiction, what is the split if one parent presses for more time, and at what age can your son make choices around time spent w/each parent (it’s from 12/14 ys old here) and how your son might choose once he can?


            – whether it might be better to have HEALTHY time with your son, and time when you can be really focussed on him, while sharing custody. If being away from the man who betrayed you can help you feel better (and it usually does!), then you will have a healthier relationship with your son AND provide him a better example of living life in accordance with your values.
            Plus you can get all the responsibilities/adult stuff done while he’s w/his dad, and really focus on time w/him when he’s w/you.

            My heart goes out to you, you’ve lived through a tragedy and a double betrayal. I hope you have the best therapist and the best support system in the world. Keep hanging out here, and the CN reddit; CL and CN are the best.

        • That’s my fear as well. Split custody = less time with my son. I am so sorry that you are going through this actual nightmare and I am so sorry for the loss of your child. Hugs.

    • Amy,
      Wow. Just wow. No wonder you feel like this. It just seems like an abyss. So much trauma, so much turmoil. You have been through hell. I know we all have but damn, I am so sorry. Tell ya what, why don’t you go ahead and keep on doing you. The other will take care of itself.

  • You’re grieving. My divorce after a 25 year marriage and the death of my parents occurred over a six month period starting November 2017. This shit is hard.

    But your a mom of a toddler so you know how to multi-task. Time to get your financial ducks in a row. Interview attorneys until you find one that will have your back. At any time you don’t like your representation, get a new attorney! Gather financial documents. Focus on YOU!

    I ended up living a block away from what I thought was going to be my “Grandma” house, complete with the coolest attic for grand kiddie hide and seek. It hurt like hell giving it up, especially after spending $100ks in renos. But my house is mine and you can create a wonderful home for your son, filled with unconditional love. I also had to sell my dream retirement cottage (again after $100Ks in renos). But I just bought a cottage (going to rent it out until I can afford to pay for it outright), and it will be all MINE. Fuckwit and his HoWife won’t have stepped inside.

    One of the things I have questioned is “What is a good age for the kids for divorce”? I’m not an expert, but my kids were 18 & 21, and their dad blew up their family safety net just when they were launching.

    There’s no good time. Only time to focus on you.

    • Wow, NotbLUE, your story sounds so much like mine. Affair/divorce/parents’ deaths/kids launching all at the same time. I think my kids (17 and 21) know that I’m their safety net, not him. I agree, there is no good time, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t time.

    • There is no good time but my kids were 18, 16 and 13 when their dad blew up their lives. We have no money now and I’m a single parent but this wasn’t my choice. He’s a terrible husband so I’m thinking I’ll be better off someday just not today.

  • What gave me the extra courage I needed was thinking about my kids. “In five years time, what type of role model for my kids will I be?” A strong woman who protects her kids from someone who won’t be an adult or living scared, anxious, and trying to justify staying to her own kids? Nope, I couldn’t leave for myself — what would the families think, sunk costs, etc. I LEFT FOR MY KIDS WHO WERE 1 and 3 years old at the time. I did not want to model that cringing scaredy cat.

  • Try to remember how deliberate and deceitful his actions have been. Plan accordingly.

    Do not share your plans with his family. Do use them for child care if you trust them.

    Consider signing up for “classes”, but use the time to schedule appointments. A domestic abuse hotline can also give you much of the advice you need to prepare to leave or force him to leave.




    And it kicks the ass of cheating lying abusing unsafe untrustworthy fake intact family any day of the week.

    Mother Nature requires two to reproduce in case something happens to one. Finding out that one is unsafe and untrustworthy makes that one unfit for partnership. I want a lion who protects the lioness and the cubs. Any lion or lioness that threatens me or my cub is history.

    • Absolutely. I didn’t realize how poorly my asshole ex was influencing all of us. Without him we have all flourished.
      It’s is so hard to see from within the situation. But a cheaters lack of honesty and spine colour everything they do.

      • This!!!!! I’m shocked and amazed at how much better our lives got once he was gone. I’m sad, scared and devastated but overall we’re happier. It’s the craziest thing and I never saw that coming. I think it pisses him off too because he thought I’d fall apart without him. His ego knows no bounds.

      • Yes! Once you get through the very rough early times, everything gets so much better! He was weighing us down! My child and I are so much lighter and happier with him gone. He’s the same old stress case neurotic self centered dramatic narcissist, but now my daughter has a warm, kind, loving, and peaceful home to be in without all of that.

        I still feel terrible that she has to endure him when it’s his custody time, and that is for sure part of the shit sandwich. But, actually, all studies say that having a relationship with both parents is preferable, even if it’s a shitty one (minus total abuse of course). And, I cannot emphasize enough that she gets to come home to the safe space that is our house.

  • Here’s something else to consider:

    – when a partner lies to you, they have left you
    – when a partner has a child with you and shows off that child to the OW/OM, they have left you
    – when a partner cheats on you, they have already left you

    Your staying is just a delaying of the inevitable, whether now or 20 years from now (when your sunk costs are much higher)… cheaters leaving you will be death by a thousand cuts… YOU LEAVING gives you and your son a chance to build a better, authentic life… invest in THAT.

    We’re here… we’ve been where you are… it can be done.

    • Yup. Taking your baby to her house is pretty transparent: he fantasizes a brand new family with a brand new wife. Clean slate for him. Sweet.

  • It’s hard during a pandemic, but spend as much time as you can away from him. Even in a different part of the house. And FOCUS ON YOUR OWN LIFE, not on him. The only time you need to think about him is when you analyze his behavior for danger signs. Not fix him, not win him back. Focus on how to get out.

    I started being able to plan and think about getting away when I had to help a relative through a long illness. I had something to focus on besides a lying asshole. I found out I was smart and competent and people liked me when I wasn’t trying to fake a happy marriage into existence. I found out I was physically, emotionally, and spiritually stronger when he wasn’t around. My friendships deepened when I told carefully chosen people what my life was really like. People helped me. A lot.

    Don’t give him one more minute of your life. Divorce him in your mind, and then make that a reality. Find a lawyer, find a therapist who gets it, gather trustworthy people around you, and get out.

  • I started having diagnosed suicidal and harm-OCD and fear of choking in the year preceeding my biggest D-Day. Out of nowhere. Yes, I’d had anxiety off and on my whole life, how convenient for him to be able to say “you were already broken when I met you, so it wasn’t me”.

    But in hindsight, it became pretty evident that my disorders grew bigger each time he’d level up his abuse behind my back (I was able to get a fairly detailed reconstruction of events).

    And If I hadn’t lived it, I would say this stuff is just in novels or movies. Sooooo creepy.
    CL is right. Your intuition can sense the betrayal and cut through any facade. We just need to believe our gut and pay no mind to the “objective” aspects, because those can be faked through and through.

    There will always be a §(semi-) believable excuse they can come up with. You need to be your own judge of what’s going on.

  • Scared,

    There are thousands of us who had many children and invested decades with cheaters-abusers. There’s no olympics of pain, but we invested exponentially and broke free, went no-contact, got divorced and are raising our kids in calm, peaceful, loving homes where there’s no lying. Our finances are 100x better without the financial abuse and the interference in our earning and saving. Your judgment of what a cheater free life is like is wrong: it’s wonderful at Meh! My life with a blameshifting, gaslighting, narcissistic cheater was a living hell. I feel sorry for how you are living your life—- it is not “normal.” I hope you save your son from the devastation that is sure to come if you stay with this abuser. He will manipulate and emotional abuse your son too— ask me how I know!

  • “I felt you didn’t like me.”

    That’s totally not on you. That’s them projecting. “When I think about it, which I try to never do, I don’t like me.” “If you knew who I really am you wouldn’t like me.”

    • Ooh, I never thought about it that way! My Ex projects about everything, I finally learned to just turn it around when he said something that made no sense. But I had never turned that one around!

      At some level he knows he doesn’t deserve to be liked, or to receive the gift of the love of an honest woman and his kids. And he hates us for it.

    • Agree I-Survived. Mine said “I didnt like our sex life”… news to me. And this was a few months before DDay #2 when I saw “the text”. DDay #1 was ILYBINILWY speech, which blind sided me. I’m starting to realize there was a lot of mindfuckery going which I think its making this really hard to process. “I love you so much, I will alwys love you. You are the best person I know. You are a such great partner” and the classic “I don’t not want to be with you”

    • The things they say won’t make sense until you’ve got some distance in the rear view mirror. He told me he had to drink just to be with me. Yeah that hurt….a lot but it’s been a year and he’s still drinking. Wait what??

  • Find your anger. Let it guide you into taking the house, getting fair child support, and whatever else you deem as yours. You won’t be angry forever, but you need it now.

    I was scared too, and then I found stuff in his phone that made me so angry nothing could make me go back. Ever. Then I got therapy and read books to deal with my anger. I was lucky in that he was so shocked by my anger, after I had been sad and twitchy for 4 years about his APs, that he gave me everything and walked away with his clothes and the ice auger.

    As ChumpLady says, it’s better on this side. Difficult in the beginning, but way, way better.

    • HA! “walked away with his clothes and the ice auger.”
      That one got me ????

  • Leave! Now before your kid gets older.

    My stbx left just after my son turned 2 and my daughter was 3 months old. (Pregnancy cheaters ought to burn in hell) My son is now 3. He doesn’t even remember his mom and dad being together. He doesn’t remember his dad ever being in my house. He NEVER mentions or asks about his dad. My son is freaking thriving because he doesn’t remember what he is missing. You lose that as they get just a year or two older.

    Will co-parenting suck with a toddler? Yes. Will having OW around your toddler enrage you? Also yes. Is it horrible handing over a child that isn’t old enough to report any abuse or mistreatment back to you? Absolutely yes.

    But it doesn’t get better if you wait longer. Rip off the bandaid. You can do it.

  • DS,

    I hope you’re reading these wise and sensitive comments. I know where you are and what you are feeling and thinking. It is indeed scary. Terrifying in fact. I was there as so many here were. I’m eight years on the other side after I “jumped”—that is, walked away from my XW. (We have two children.) I walked away from what I thought was a wonderful life. We had it all. But what I walked away from was abuse. Deep, shocking, ongoing emotional abuse. What I walked toward was anything that would be better than the pain I was allowing myself to endure.

    I went basically broke, abruptly saw my adored children for only half their childhoods…. It was horrible. It was terrifying. I’m still alone and it sucks. But the fear? I defanged it. I demystified it. Fear is rooted in emotion. I’m not saying there is no objective reason to fear. But you must walk through it. You will grieve as you grieved your other losses. (My mother died as my XW’s affair was revealed.) But you will survive. You really will.

    Lest you think I (or anyone else here) was so much stronger than you: it took me three failed visits to my attorney before I stepped off the cliff so to speak. That is, I chickened out because I was so scared. But finally, “thankfully,” the pain of emotional abuse became too much. Things got worse and worse and I knew I had to go. I stepped off the cliff into the dark chasm that I was sure I would keep plummeting into for the rest of my life. Turns out the ground was there. The pain of hitting the ground was awful and it lasted for years. But it slowly diminished. So slowly it was imperceptible. But at some point I became ok. I didn’t perish. My fear was largely unfounded. Or rather, I moved in spite of the fear. Inertia was unfathomably worse.

    You have to move forward with hard, steely resolve even though you do not feel anything but fear. There is a life on the other side. Join us.

  • It is so hard to actual take the actions to leave, but once you finally do, you know in your gut that getting the heck out of that chaos is what is right and necessary. You know what you have to do. Sooner is better than later. ????

  • It is hard to break out of the concept that it is normal to live for other people. We are human, too. We have needs and desires, and we are not the supporting cast members for other people all the time. If we start mentioning these facts, we are told we are being selfish, and ungrateful. The role of woman is not to serve her man, or her parents direction for her all the time. This doesn’t mean you don’t love your spouse or your parents, or your children, but you are not a servant. It is not your job to be a wife appliance, or a daughter appliance, or even a mother appliance. A parent should raise a child to be an independent person. Once out of infancy, children should start learning skills and age appropriate tasks, so that they grow into a responsible adult.

    I love having my own home, too. However it is just a material possession, it is not something which cannot be replaced. When I was young I learned how to make small places I rented into comfortable places to live, for a period of time. Life is full of experiences and things which last for a season, or several seasons, but time moves on and needs change.

    When other people, some who claim to be your friend, see our living circumstances from the outside, they may be jealous. They do not know what your life is like from the inside. They seek to destroy your life by seducing your spouse, or insinuating themselves into your family in other ways. They are trying to be someone else, trying to gain approval by providing gifts and services, trying to snake themselves in to a life they did not build or earn. They live for others instead of finding the internal strength to build their own life. They do not have character, they have envy.

    It is hard to break out of the concept that other people will make us happy if we live to serve their needs. We are in charge of our own happiness. We have to have the strength to say “NO”. We may have to leave our comfort zone and live in a different environment for a period of time. Eventually, if you keep following your own truth, and living your authentic life based on your own values, you will build your own comfort zone. It may be very different from what you were told your life should look like when you were growing up. We learn as we grow, and we have to live in the present. We can dream of the future, but dreams change, too. Trying to maintain dreams of the past, when circumstances have changed, will weigh you down and will make it difficult for you to move forward. Drop the pain of the past, and plan your move forward to get to where you want to go. Even though this is very different from the idea of “normal” you were taught, it is your truth. Living your truth is your best shot at being happy.

  • A therapist said I have mild Dependant Personality Disorder. You may want to research this. There is a huge fear to totally re-inventing your life, huge. But to stay with a proven liar and back stabber is a soul sucker. Your son is young enough that it will be less traumatic to do this now. Talk to a therapist that specializes in abuse. I hope you don’t find you wait until you are a shell of yourself to tell him to leave.

  • Take control of as much as you can prior to having him served.

    Set up a new bank account IN YOUR NAME ONLY, at a new BANK. Not a different branch!

    Have copies of all the financial statements safely stowed off-site. Including the tax returns. Utility bills, insurance, etc.

    Make certain you are the beneficiary of his life insurance and any retirement accounts. Run a credit check to ascertain whether or not there are unknown debts that you didn’t agree to (credit cards in your name, for example). Is he an authorized user on your credit card(s)? Not anymore! Is there a HELOC on the home and has he tapped it behind your back? What about raiding his retirement accounts, without your permission and signature? I don’t know if that one applies to you, but it applies to me and FUU. Neither of us can borrow money without the other giving permission and in front of a notary public, so we had to prove our identities too.

    The less control you cede to him, the better. But at least get something ready for your benefit and then have the papers go through.

    You ARE strong. If you were weak, he wouldn’t have hidden this from you. He would rub your nose in it. He FEARS your reaction and strength of your resolve.

    Best wishes!

  • Losing parents is a big deal. Especially when both deaths were within a year of each other. Please get some counseling to sort through your grief over this. Leaving your husband right now may feel like you’re stepping off a cliff because then you’ll have no support but unfortunately, he’s never been your support. You just found it out after the fact. The truth is that you are stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for and you’ve been supporting yourself and your child alone for a while. You deserve to feel happy and loved, both at home and in the world.

  • Sunk costs are just that. Gone. Do not invest one more minute in this. He is a liar.
    I was with my ex 25 years. I actually asked my teens if they wanted me to try to fix things for them. They were appalled and said absolutely not.

    I was so sad for what I thought they were losing…a dad, a family, etc. Turns out, the 3 of us are a better family than the 4 of us ever were, and I thought highs were good then.

    Yes, it is scary. But taking ownership of your own life is liberating and you will never regret choosing you.

    Call a lawyer today. Get a settlement together, understand your rights, file for divorce.

    This guy is a lost cause. And in a year or two you will look back and wonder why you ever even considered staying with someone with no character or soul.

    • “Turns out, the 3 of us are a better family than the 4 of us ever were”

      Yes!! So so so much better.

    • Married 28 years and yes the 4 of us are a better family than the 5 of us ever was. I honestly thought he was a good father and now I see I had spackled all of that. The kids don’t miss him in all in fact they were the ones pushing me to divorce him.

  • Scared, I stayed with my horrible ex for years even though he was completely useless because I thought I needed help with my kids. I was doing everything and taking care of him too. I basically had four kids…three of whom were growing, maturing and learning from their mistakes. My husband-child got worse every year. When he took off I could concentrate on my real children. You will have to take care of a toddler alone when you leave. But toddlers are cute and loving and can be fun. Abusive, lying cheaters are none of those things.

  • I think you have had your answer for a while, but it is so hard to fully accept that this person you trusted, that you chose to have a family with, would do this. And I sympathize so much with the fear of losing this extended family especially if you don’t have the same extended family of your own. I experienced that, as well. I was desperately afraid to keep them in my life, then angry at his mother, then some of his family members started reaching out to me and I maintained enough of a relationship to make it work. It took a few years, but I am in an ok place with his family now, which is good since my daughter is going to college in the town where my ex mother-in-law lives (provided college starts). And after 2 years, I am able to have civil conversations about things involving the kids with my ex, despite the fact that he now lives with the woman he cheated on me with and they had a child. And that he hasn’t seen our daughters in months. You can do this. All this is on him, not you. Even if you feel sometimes, as I do (even still I get waves of it) that you didn’t live up to something or wonder how he could become so cold to you when you shared so much, you will somehow learn to accept it and it will be more like a random pang of mild pain instead of that searing, stabbing pain you feel now. You can do this.

  • I could have written this letter, except I left whilst pregnant. I utilized his mental health diagnoses (NPD) in court to protect DD. He was permitted 50/50 Custody not until she turned 4 (no overnights til then either).

    I took a looong time to work on my own healing and now have a master’s degree, am married to an amazing man, live in my dream home, vacation almost TOO much, and have a happier, healthier life than I was ever aiming at before the nightmare.

    He is also remarried, financially unstable, another kid, and a harried, overworked wife who does all the heavy lifting financially and parenting-wise. New wife believes that she is in competition with me for Mother of the Year and wears herself out engaging in petty attempts to minimize me (listing herself as Mother on paperwork, writing DD’s name as their last name rather than her legal name, etc) and there is nothing I can do about that. I just love on DD and model what happy, healthy relationships look like.

    People see it (the reason I found out about the paperwork issues is bc she turned them into the school and THE SCHOOL gave them to me as odd); just move up and be the kind, stable, sensible, non competitive person you are. Therapy (GOOD therapy) helps a lot.

    • Up at the top where it says ‘Ask ChumpLady’ there’s the email address for you.

  • Scared,
    I too suffered from identity loss after D-Day. The abuser chipped my identity off like an acid peeler on my skin, one drop after another. Not the nice, high-end kind of peeler. Pure toxic acid. He is not your identity, nor a friend. With gentle care (a.k.a good lawyer, therapy and minimum contact), your skin will re-grow. During wreckonciliation I had rare glimpses of thinking that a relationship which makes me suicidal is no good. But it was only after I left that fully understood that. Hugs

  • You will get many great comments on here especially regarding children ( which I don’t have so can’t comment )

    But I will advise regarding your in laws please don’t be surprised if they drop you like a hot potatoes . I know you are close to them I know you love and care for them but please don’t be surprised if they take your hopefully STBXH side

  • Let me tell you the dirty truth about what happens when you stay. I stayed. If I had left him the first time I saw him with his hands on another woman, I would have hurt ONE child. I stayed (on my mother’s advice) , forgave and tried to forget, stayed through the next time, and the next, and at age 68, with FOUR precious good sweet adult children and THREE precious young people my kids married – I was told by my Gyn that he’d given me an STD. So now if I leave, I hurt seven people I love. I could have left when there was only one child to be hurt. Now I have SEVEN who don’t deserve to know what a sack of shit my husband is. Leave – adultery never stops and it grows with every passing minute. I wish I could make a financial investment that flourished as well as cheating does. LEAVE HIM NOW, before you have more children to hurt.

  • I got paralyzed for a long time trying to figure out All The Things at once. The divorce, what custody would look like, how do I protect my kids, how do I support us when I haven’t worked in years, where are we going to live, should I try to move across the country to be near family, how will the divorce affect my kids, how will I do this when I’m barely able to function … and the list went on and on and on.

    I left when I finally started focusing only on The Next Step. One step at a time. And the first was consulting several divorce attorneys and getting a good handle on my situation, which was better than I thought. Side note: If you’re a stay-at-home mom, beware there are attorneys out there who will treat you with contempt because you haven’t been working and expect spousal support (I always figured they were bitter about the alimony they themselves were paying) – do NOT hire one of them. Hire an attorney who has your back!

    Some days the next step was getting out of bed. On the really bad days, the next step was remembering to breathe. But every day was what next step do I need to take?

    And eventually those steps all added up to getting myself out of a horrible, abusive marriage and rebuilding my life. You can do this!

  • Scared,

    I completely understand your weighing in first and foremost your sons welfare. In a divorce shared custody would allow the dirtbag OW access to your son. I feel it is an intelligent decision to protect first and foremost your son. You are thinking a few steps ahead and commend you for it. Do not do anything rashly. Think all things through.

    You are in a war. Look at it that way. Stategize that way. Your husband doesnt play by the rules, expect that. Of course your going to have big time PTSD just like a Vietnam vet does. You are in a fight. You are in a war. You are in a narrow spot of a rock and a hard place. In my opinion there is no easy solution but I do think you are doing the best you can. You have a fire and that fire is the love of your baby boy. Do what you need to do to ensure your own goals.

    I would figuratively build a mote around your space. Put a boundry that as long as he in involved with the affair partner he is unworthy to see you (no contact) He wants to see the baby? Tough, not until he shows that he ended the affair and voluntarily goes to therapy. Then you may consider adjusting your boundries based on that and his attitudes. These type of men are not mature men they are maladapted babies emotionally. You are in control Scared. You are not him. Remember that!

    You will be very surprised how much healing takes place when you arent constantly enbattled in a no contact setting.

    • We are amicable mostly because we are both SO tired of fighting. I rarely even bring it up anymore because it’s so exhausting to think about and deal with. I’ve wanted a separation for a long time. He refuses to leave. Unfortunately, there isn’t much I can do legally. He will not leave and I have no place to go unless it’s 2 hours away from my work. He could easily go and stay with his parents (he is working from home right now) but he downright refuses. He didn’t think about the consequences of his actions. Not once. He compartmentalizes everything. Now shit is about to hit the fan and he panics and won’t leave because he knows what it will lead to: Me. Gone.

      • Oh he is a master manipulator. Please see a lawyer ASAP – you have to know the facts so you can use the facts in your favor. You do have rights. I’m not sure what they are in Maine (I think you live there?), but you do have rights. You are fighting while you are alone and powerless. A lawyer can empower you to do everything you can legally to get what you want.
        You ruminations about what he wants and how he won’t leave MUST stop. Your ruminations must be about you getting facts and making decisions to get what you want. You really do have rights. I got my ex out of the house when he didn’t want to go – a lot of us did – and you can too! It’s crazy to think this is HIS decision. It is yours.

  • Scared, don’t stay because of the house or the garden. Besides NOT being worth this humiliation and a life constantly full of doubts, you WILL have a new home, by definition better than the present one because it’s cheater-free and it’s YOURS.

    And all gardens thrive on fertilizer and you have a pile of it.

    I regret that my sons were adults when they found out their father was a fuckwit. I envy your position.

  • I’ve been there. I stayed because I listened to older women relatives who said “If he is still paying bills dont leave”…..” you have all those little kids Pixy, try to hang in there.” I know they meant well. Those were their options in their day. They didnt have to be mine. I also didnt want to be a statistic….A single baby mama….kids from a broken and dysfunctional home..etc. Well, my ex left ME!!! Left me broken. I didn’t think I could live on my own, pay my own bills, parent my children etc. Guess what? I’m doing all of it!! Credit is looking good, I’m going to be buying a new house soon. All mine!! My rental house is one filled with love, warmth and togetherness. Anything that gives me vibes of my ex I discard. It will be hard as fuck but you can do it. As far as me being a statistic? A Single Baby Mama? I embrace that shit like I’m Michael Jordan!! You can do it!! Im rooting for you.

  • I agree about getting your ducks in a row to protect your son. But leaving is the ultimate goal. I understand how painful it is to leave your house, but it is worth it. I quite literally designed my dream house 20 years ago, with in floor heat, upgrade tile, hardwood floors, crazy expensive appliances, you name it, on 40 acres of beautiful pastureland with a view of the Colorado Rockies. The kids and I moved out March 26th and it is amazing the difference a toxic free home is for one’s health. So what if it is a downgrade! It doesn’t mean that you will be there for the rest of your life. The advice I was given was to leave behind anything that would remind us of the cheater or have a negative emotion associated with it. We did just that, and we are happier with folding camp chairs in the living room, knowing that he has never been near any of it. The kids and I joke that we are living like college kids, empty pizza boxes included. I don’t recommend moving during a pandemic, but it can be done.

    A note about your son. My son is 17 and has been in and out of therapy for years. We didn’t know what was causing all of the depression and anxiety. I learned in October that the loser had a long term girlfriend and that they have 2 kids together. Let me tell you, that will for sure mess a person up. The sad thing is, our kids have so little respect for him that they weren’t one bit surprised to learn about the second family. Mr. Wannabe Good Guy is such a lame dad to our kids that he doesn’t even know their email addresses. So when they blocked his phone, he hasn’t had contact with them since. He chose to lockdown during the pandemic with his 27 year old girlfriend, their 2 year old, and 4 year old, but still emails OUR kids to tell them that he didn’t replace us. Idiot! You did replace us, and we have the right to feel replaced. At 17, our son is old enough to do the math and to know that the new girl is closer in age to him than to me. OH BOY! More therapy! I agree that sons need a father in their lives, but that needs to be someone with character that models the right way to treat a woman.

    I feel so fortunate to have found this website. It has been a huge source of inspiration and encouragement for me. I’m glad that you found CN support so quickly. You are not alone! I agree with you that it is scary. Being brave is scary as all get out. But, learn from the rest of us that the insanity will only get worse if you stay. They are pro-status at justifying ANYTHING. You are being strong for your son and his best interest.

  • Scared Accept your previous dream died. Your ex will not improve. Your best path forward is without him. Is it tough yes but not as tough as where you are at now. Freedom peace of mind. Authenticity. Mightyness. Meh awaits. A happy new cheater free life as the strong wonderful Mom to your son can be yours. Wishing you strength and happiness In your future.

    (From experience if I could go back I would have done this sooner rather than later. They dont change)

  • You could demand that he stops his affair and comes back to you and your son. He may agree to that and you will have had a renewed closeness. Then a few months later you will find the burner phone, hotel receipts, lots of cash, he will hide his devices from you. He will all of a sudden have to work late a lot. He’ll be really tired. It will be your fault somehow that he’s tired. It means he can’t help around the house. He will need lots of downtime, both at home and out of the home. He will pick bizarre fights with you. You will feel confused and sad. You might even go on a holiday but he’ll be on his phone and he’ll be tired. He may watch Netflix but he’ll drink just enough to fall asleep so there’s no sex. Then later he’ll blame you that you’re not having enough sex. Then… get the idea? I’m sorry for you but it feels like the pattern is there. I had it 25 years so my sunk costs are extremely high. I’d give anything to have been brave enough to leave earlier. Take care and I’m sorry this is happening to you.

  • I know how you feel, I was married for 20 years. I get that it’s hard to leave, although I didn’t get a choice, he kicked the kids and I out. But I can say 3 years and a divorce later, it’s the best thing that could have happened. I only have true friends in my life, if his family value you that much they will be there still, if not, there’s your answer. It’s scary, but I’ve started my own business and my new life is light years better than it was. I still am hurt and disappointed but my life is in my hands. You dont want to hang around someone who doesn’t value you. Leave them to it, they will eventually crash and burn, and you will he living your life on your terms. Your relationship with him unfortunately will never be any good. You deserve better, deep breath and kick him into touch.

  • One piece of advice, if the OW is alcoholic or shows poor judgment (sending pictures to your dad?), you can ask your lawyer to craft language so she does not spend time at least until he is able to talk and give a report of what is going on. Also, recommend asking for as much custody as you can get. Kids know when parents are unhappy and your boy will thrive with a happy mother.

  • My wife’s ex MIL stayed with her serial cheater husband until the kids grew up. You know what happened? Taught her boys that cheating is OK and that the wife won’t leave. HORRIBLE example. Don’t do it.

  • Scared…There was a time, just a couple of years ago, when I also believed that I had to hang in there no matter what. I fought the fight of my life to save my marriage until my ex finally screwed up the courage to leave (to be with the OW). I ended up with symptoms of trauma that I am still working through now. The experience of staying ravaged my self-esteem, my mental and emotional well-being.

    All the things that I feared did not pan out at all. My kids are doing really well (and I have a son with Autism). I’m doing well financially. My relationship with all my in-laws is positive and sympathetic (they have never accepted the OW and so my ex continues to live a double life). My relationships with friends colleagues and neighbours has grown. My home is a place of peace. My ex has actually kept the kids separate from the OW, only having brought them around her about six months ago for a handful of play dates that caused our son to start derailing and so he stopped (now COVID is my children’s protector from the OW). His friends still think he’s lost his mind to be with this woman, she’s not liked.

    Peace of mind…there is no amount of money on earth that can buy it. The perspective gained from being away from the mindfuckery is eye-opening. I do not miss my ex. I am disgusted by my ex. I have learned so much more about what he did during our marriage. There is nothing on earth that would ever make me want to go back to the life I had, particularly those last few years.

    I realize now that I was the “frog in boiling” water, not realizing that the water I was in was coming slowly to a boil and it was killing me. Only when I was away from it did it dawn on me that I needed to protect myself from this man. He is not my friend.

    There is a fundamental disrespect and disregard of you and your child in him having taken the baby over to see the OW…it’s nauseating. Listen to CL in her analysis of what his treatment of you actually means. You do not want your son to grow up with a marriage like that as an example of how to be in the world.

    Learn about trauma-bonding and find a counsellor who understands that adultery is a form of abuse. Start the process of disengaging emotionally while you line up your ducks while you pull your team around you. I won’t kid you, there is a lot of work ahead of you and it’s hard. You can do this.

  • Dear Scared,

    A similar story happened to me in October 2018 when at 16 weeks pregnant with our second child and having had two late miscarriages previously my STBXH admitted his affair right after our sons 2nd birthday party.
    I didn’t have a choice, he left to be with her, moving in together 200m from our new forever family home (we had lived there 6months and spent a fortune furnishing it).
    It was an utterly horrendous time and after giving birth i had counselling, sold up & moved back to my parents.
    Less than 2 years later I have a new job in a new town, have to share my kids with him and OW after a court battle but let me share something. Yesterday should have been my 6th wedding anniversary and if it hadn’t have been for Facebook sharing a memory with me I wouldn’t have remembered!
    I felt like you; 13 years wasted, 4 married, 1 child and 1 on the way, the perfect home BUT now i would much rather be me than him or her. Yes it gets worse but it does get better and you should get out of there and “Trust that they suck”. When i finally get divorced and my financial settlement my house will be mine and not tarnished with what he did there (had her over with my 1 yr old In bed and took my son to play at hers or the park together)!

    You can and will do better. Clearly you always have and always will be too good for him.

    And the in laws….they are disgusted and embarrassed and cry to begin with but from my experience Blood is always thicker than water. Prepare yourself- it will most likely happen because they have to make you the bad guy to be able to accept what the cheater has done!

  • Do yourself and your kid a favor and extract yourselves from this Jerry Springer episode. It will be scary and tough. Be tougher. Build a life that will make your son proud to be a part of, not one of shameful disfunction. Get out and never talk to the vast majority of these people again. Keep your side of the street clean, do for you and your kid, focus on something new and fruitful for YOU (new/better career? more education? new hobbies?). Just get out and don’t look back. There’s a reason the windshield is bigger than the rear view mirror.

    Hire an attorney to help you craft an air tight custody agreement that would ensure your ex loses custody if something negative happens with your kid.

    Your marriage is over, so spare yourself the years of anguish that you’ll encounter if you stay. You married a dirtbag. Sorry. We all did. The best you can do now is do better for yourself and your kid. It’s within your control.

    Best of luck.

  • Scared, it is really really hard, but now your eyes are opened take courage and do it, get a lawyer, leave now and get it done. There’s heaps of good advice and experience in CN, and so much support to keep you going through the wall of pain. You can do it, we can all attest to that. Life is better on the other side, we can attest to that too. “Is this acceptable to you?” and “Trust that they suck” were the mantras that kept my shoulder to the wheel through those early days/weeks. And No Contact is your best friend – let the lawyer deal with him. I finally realised that most of his communications were designed to hassle and hurt and didn’t need to be answered at all. I got from point for point answers to short sentences to one word to zero communication eventually. Division of property and custody are all you need to be concerned with and the lawyer deals with that.
    If I had known 17 years ago what I know now about abuse and manipulation I would have packed up and left with my four children and one on the way the moment he said “get rid of it (our fifth baby), I don’t want it”.
    Instead of listening to my mother who airily dismissed it because ‘he didn’t mean it, staying married is more important”, I would have listened to my sister who said ‘that’s abuse, NewChump’. I wouldn’t have answered her saying ‘but what can I do, I have 4 kids and I’m pregnant’, I would have said ‘help me pack’.
    I would have listened to my own shattered, horrified heart and admitted that trust and the marriage were broken and left there and then.
    Because it didn’t get any better, it got worse.
    He did mean it and he never acknowledged any remorse for it. He blamed me and continued to blame me for everything for the next 15 years (probably still does but meh, that’s his problem).
    Finally my eyes were opened (thank you Lundy Bancroft) to the fact that he was a manipulative abuser of a very vindictive and cruel stripe and as soon as I realised that, and that there was little prospect of him ever changing, I got a lawyer and left 3.5 years ago.
    Your child will be ok because your new sane, honest cheater-free life will be your child’s normal. My youngest (almost 18 now) needed a lot of loving support and some therapy, dealing with the aftermath of so many years of spackling, cruelty, lies and image management (I needed therapy too), but your little one will be saved from so many years of lies and stress if you live honestly now and act on what is the honest truth of your marriage and who your husband has shown himself to be.
    Even if you have shared custody, your house will be run your sane way, dad’s cheating and entitlement will not be spackled and accepted, and it will be the cheater/liar/blameshifter-free place where your child knows they are safe.
    Oh, and don’t trust the inlaws. He was horrid to them and I was lovely and kind to them and taught the children to love and respect them no matter what dad did. It doesn’t matter how they have loved you – at best they are Switzerland friends and actually they are on his side and you don’t want to keep a foot in the enemy’s camp. Your exhusband can manage your child’s relationship with that side of the family, its not your mandate any more. Concentrate on your child’s relationship with you and the people you love and trust in your circle. Love to you. You got this. Honesty. Send that f*cker packing.

  • From a poster named Chumpinrecovery: “The only thing you have control over is when the divorce happens, and if you wait too long, you won’t even control that.”

    I found out the truth of this wisdom on down the road when it turned out my ex had been working with a divorce lawyer for many months, maybe years, lining up ducks. Even found a financial planner thru that lawyer. Your ex is likely miles and miles ahead of you on all that, along with his OW, who thinks you a silly fool for believing that, “He lies to me too!” They’ve probably got you hogtied financially, and if they haven’t yet, they soon will. Cut your losses.

  • Are there any men out there that ARE faithful?! This seems way more common than I thought. It’s disgusting!

  • Did I mention that my husband also called our son an “uh oh baby” ?! I about lost my shit. My son was NOT an “uh oh.” We tried for 2 YEARS to get pregnant. The OW’s mother told me that he told the OW that he had a baby with me to “shut me up.” Ha.

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