I wish I would have found your site a decade ago.. alas spilled milk… I’m in a 19 year marriage to a selfish/self centered woman who I chumpily still love. 13 years ago she found an affair partner online that I found out about. We went to counseling and “reconciled”… Since then she has “hooked up” with him 3 times and I’ve now found has been “in love” with him this entire time.
All of this occurred while she went to marriage counseling, showed remorse, and of course denied any lingering/ongoing connections. The other 2 times this happened I worked to “re-build stronger” and “affair proof” my marriage but it seems I’ve been working alone while being played for a tool. I’ve finally found this community and realize where i’m at and what is going on. I’m no longer searching for reconciliation and of course the water works are out in full force. She’s getting counseling for her “child hood issues” and all of the other BS things I’ve seen and heard a million times. In hindsight I feel like a fool. I’m truly the CHUMPION of “forgive, forget, and move on”.
I have 3 children under the age of 8 who are my world…. I’m terrified for them and when i think of leaving it is my worry, fear, and shame for them that makes me pause. I realize that staying for them is worse than leaving but i’m lost on how to help them, be there for them, or even know what they need. I need help with resources on how to navigate these waters with my children. I don’t want to fall prey to the same type of crappy advice (only trying to sell me a book or program) that I’ve gotten for the past 13 years when “working” on my marriage.
Do you or anyone in the community have resources you can recommend or thoughts on what I can do to help my kids during this time? I feel like i’m barely able to breath most days and i would be grateful for any trusted resources you could point me to.
Easily stumped Chumpion
I don’t have a guide (but I’m working on a second book on this very topic… sorry, not much help to you now…). When I left, I didn’t read a book, or consult a life coach, or anything. I just blundered through it.
You mention the RIC and crappy advice industry, and I think the same problem exists with navigating children through infidelity divorce that existed when I wrote LACGAL — all the professional advice assumes Good Intent and Warm Fuzzies.
With cheating, the set up is, of course you have a remorseful partner fully invested in saving the marriage! That balkiness you see is just a result of You Failing To Meet Their Needs. Work on that!
The literature failed to address what to do in the 99.9 percent of cases where you had nothing to work with, the person was demonstrably not invested in saving anything (other than their finances and self-serving narratives).
With children and divorce, the set-up is, of course you’re going to co-parent graciously! And be friends! And everyone is onboard with the Best Interests of the Children! And you will never besmirch the name of the Mommy or Daddy or their affair partners. Because it takes a village! Of nice people!
The life coach/social media influencer corollary to this is: Look at How Magnificently I Get Along With My Ex. What is wrong with you? Bitter much?
I’d love to hear from CN about what resources helped you and deal with this topic compassionately and authentically.
Chumpion, to your question — here’s my abridged advice.
1.) Don’t mindfuck your children. I believe in telling children age-appropriately, in rated G language why their parents are divorcing, and do it without editorializing. I.e., “When you get married, you promise to be each other’s special person. Mommy has a boyfriend and that’s why we divorcing.” Not “Mommy is a slut.”
It’s not okay to gaslight children IMO even with the best of intentions. Then they go around wondering why people just “fall out of love.” Is someone going to fall out of love with them? Reassure them about THEIR world. YOUR love of them. Children are not stupid. They understand from the earliest age that actions have consequences. The divorce is a consequence.
2.) Don’t slop your grief on them. Some of this is unavoidable, because D-Day is an emotional tsunami. But remember that children are shouldering their own grief, and those little shoulders cannot take yours. Your job is to be a field marshal and lead them through this. Live by example. Model mightiness. (Even when you’re not feeling it.) Respect their right to love their fuckwit parent. They have to figure that relationship out for themselves (even when it’s heartbreaking). It’s okay to tell them you’re sad and upset, (again, no gaslighting, they aren’t stupid), but reassure them you’ll get through it together.
3.) Do your job. Are the book reports due? Nag. Does someone need a ride to band practice? Do it. Be the Sane Parent. It’s the most important job there is. One parent is a demonstrable fuckwit. Your job is to be the rock of stability. Do NOT fall down on the job. Do not pick me dance for children’s favor. Sane parents don’t play at that shit. Parenting is a very long arc. You will not be popular a lot of the times, but love and boundaries pay dividends later. Hug your monsters. And don’t shirk the book reports.
That’s all I have for this Friday — but CN, help Chumpion out. What helped you? Book? Wise friend? Youtube videos? Box wine?