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Ex-Wife Wants Old VHS Tapes for Christmas

Dear Chump Lady,

I have been divorced for 4 years now after going through an ugly divorce complete with 2 years of doing the pick me dance. We were together for 25 years with the last few years legally married (same sex marriage). My ex was having an affair and ultimately ended up moving in with her affair partner.

They have been together now for 7 years living in a house she bought with the lump sum alimony I had to pay her. I just found out this week they bought a mobile home in Florida so they could golfing during the cold northern months. I guess retired life post-divorce is good. I have moved on and have enjoyed living my life too, but encountered a wobble today.

I got a call from my adult son tonight saying my ex wants copies of home movies from when the kids were little (I gave birth to a son and a daughter that she helped raise) for Christmas. He called me because my ex knows I won’t talk to her and I am a softie when it comes to him.

It really irritates me that she puts him in the middle and that he takes the bait. Now if I say I won’t give her copies of the movies, I’ll look like a spiteful bitch. The movies are on VHS tapes and other various old media. I would have to take the time to hunt them all down, get them copied and get them to her. I really don’t feel like going to all that trouble (nor do I want to contribute to her happiness). My son offered to do all the work, but he lives out of state.

It irritates me even more because I was the one who bought the cameras over the years, the one who took the movies and the one that has been the gatekeeper of them over the years. I was even given grief all the time I took the movies because she thought it was stupid.

She might be getting nostalgic now that her affair partner is about to be a grandma. I suppose she misses memories of the kids when they were little since she didn’t take any pictures with her when she moved out. She still sees the kids and has a good relationship with them. I am a bit perplexed as to why this request is coming up now.

So I am putting this question to you and Chump Nation, do you feel I should make copies of all the family home movies and give them to my ex? I want to tell her to fuck off as she blew up our family the day she started her affair and has no claim to anything “family” anymore.

What say you?

Thanks for the Memories

Dear Thanks for the Memories,

I’m imagining your ex standing on a street corner, ringing a bell, like they do for the Salvation army. “KIBBLES! KIBBLES! Triangulation for the poor! KIB-BLES!” Clang, clang…

What a masterstroke of narcissistic centrality that request is. It feeds her impression management as a Caring Mother, who is short a few props. (Video! I must have video!) It weaponizes your son to deliver the request. (Surely You Would Not Want to Appear Bitter For The Children). It understandably torques you. And — bonus! — it will broadside Schmoopie.

Hey Schmoopie, were you having a moment in the sun anticipating your first grandchild? No! It’s time for HOME MOVIES OF YOUR PARTNER’S EX-WIFE! See those cute kids? See the woman there who’s not you? Awww!

You weren’t the only one doing a years-long pick me dance.

Your ex must miss the cake. Imagine Christmas morning with the Schmoopies, as your ex opens a gift of Very Personal Family Memories of your shared life together.

No, Tracy, you cynical hag. She misses the children! 

Yeah, well if that were true, she would’ve made efforts to secure the memorabilia in the divorce settlement FOUR YEARS AGO. Instead, she got a pile of cash and Florida mobile home.

Priorities, priorities.

Why is she considering this now? Would she also like the Vitamix and the garden gnomes? I think it’s because Schmoopie is about to become a grandmother, and your ex wants to compete. You have a cute little person? WELL I DO TOO! Is your cute little person burbling and touching their toes? I HAVE A VIDEO LIKE THAT! WANT TO WATCH?

Back to you, Memories.

It would seem I’m giving you reasons to deploy the VHS tapes. Imagine the suffering!

Do you want to ever digitize the family movies and watch them? Would your kids? I imagine they would like to have those memories for themselves. But this wasn’t a request for them, it was a request for your ex. And that’s a very different thing. Also, after a painful divorce, all the multimedia tends to sit in dusty boxes until you get to a point, much, much later in the healing process where you can face it.

Here’s a couple options.

1.) You let your son take on this project, of digitizing all the home movies — only if he leaves you out of it, AND this is a gift to you, himself, and his sister. They can share the files with your ex, if they want to. That’s their business.

Then, you’ll have video files in a cloud to ignore, instead of dusty VHS tapes.

or…

2.) Say no.

You don’t even have to give a reason! Just NO. I heard your request and no thank you. NO.

You’re allowed to say no. It’s your property and you’re under no obligation to share your property with your ex. Even for the children! Your ex asked something of your son that was not his to give. It’s yours.

And if you get pushback, I’d wonder out loud why are you the jerk for saying no, but she’s not a jerk for asking?

But, but! Family!

As you pointed out, she broke up your intact family with her affair and left. So, she has no claims to family or property.

Does denying this request put you in an awkward position with your son? Yes, it was created with that discomfort in mind. (Kibbles! Kibbles!)

Your son can also get a simple “no, thanks.” CN may have some script ideas.

“Son, I’m not comfortable with this request. I hear your offer to take care of the logistics. I’m still uncomfortable with it. I’ll let you know if my mind changes on this. But the answer is no.”

And then change the subject.

That would be the mature, adult thing to do.

My third option.

3.) Hire a videographer. Create a video. Cows mooing in a field. Bad golf swings. Highway traffic.

Hire a videographer. Create a video. Hand puppets discussing Florida citrus.

Hire a videographer. Create a video. It’s blank. Just like her investment.

That’s not very meh. It’s like dropping a bag of flaming dog poo in the Salvation Army bucket. (Which is still kibbles.)

Better to just ignore that clanging bell and walk on by. No contact!

Happy holidays.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • VHS roulette: Is it porn or a birthday party?

    In my case I made digital copies of all the pictures I could put my hands on before my now ex left. After she left, I put them on a disk and gave it to my oldest “in case your mother asks for them”. No clue if she ever did or not.

    It could be worse – she could be after the pinecone elves 😀

  • My suggestion is to digitize it (or have son do so) and not give it too much thought – except now you have an upgrade too.

    • I’d also do this. Not to the deadline of Christmas though. Just… whenever, because it’s nice to have the videos for your children.

      Personally, I’d select a short clip here and there and ping it over, maybe via someone else so you don’t get into a conversation.

      “No” is easy to argue against but “I’ll see what I can do” is much more vague and difficult to object to.

        • CL, I agree. “I’ll see what I can do” implies there’s a possibility it will happen, or that you’re working on it, and it leaves room for them to bug you about progress on it. Next thing you know, ex is sending son to ask “Have you started it yet?” or “She wants to know if you have a timeline on that” etc. etc.

          No is a full sentence and you don’t have to explain it. When it comes to dealing with exes, no contact, and grey rock, there can be no room for vaugeness. “No” is definitive and solid. It means what it means. “No I will not do this.” The end.

          • I’ve done this and yes it is totally image management.

            But. I know I’m going against the current here. It takes just as much effort to say:
            “Sure – son would you like to come and find them, and then have them digitised etc”
            as it does to say
            “No.”

            In fact, I would say then first is less of an effort than the second. Saying “No” could look a little like a power play. And it may be a power play. Holding the memories hostage.

            The second is SO nonchalant. And 100% non-commitment from you. Son wants to play go-between? He can do the spade work. You do nothing except be absolutely accommodating! Win!

            • I wouldn’t turn over the stuff to son unless I was ready; and unless I knew he would make sure they were safely returned (unless I didn’t care).

              These FWs manipulated us, they can manipulate their children.

              I would also want to go through my memories alone and separate them as needed, on my own time line.

              Saying no if that is how one feels at the moment is not a power play, it is authentic.

              God forbid the chump display any sense of power, or backbone. Not being authentic is exactly what coming up with a plan to drag it out, as opposed to just saying No is.

    • I vote for #1.

      It’s in the best interest of your children. Don’t give the ex a moment’s thought. It will mean more to you and your children than to her in any event.

      • Also “no” shows that you are bothered. She cannot manipulate your emotions. You are free!

        Dropping the rope is the most effective way to deal with these narcissists. It drives them nuts when they realize that their actions do not affect you in any way.

        If she did not exist (“dead to you”) and your son asked to borrow the tapes to digitalize them, what would you say? that’s your answer.

        • No can also mean “no I don’t want to” and that’s valid. We don’t have to make great shows of This Doesn’t Bother Me! when it actually bothers us. I think chumps are often put in positions of magnanimity under duress.

          • “I think chumps are often put in positions of magnanimity under duress.”

            I agree. I am a human with feelings. I can act like an adult; as that comes easily to me. If it didn’t, he would have ended up floating down the Ohio River face down. (Those two conspired to destroy me) But, I don’t have to pretend the FW is anything but what he is.

            It has been years for me, so I have released all of that stuff; and now don’t care if he sees it, or shreds it. I have my copies. But in the first few years, stuff like that is still painful.

            After a few years went by my son took all our old photos and made specialized DVDs of the family for each of us. My video included pics of me with him, and my now husband with our grand children, family Christmases with just me and him etc. His dads DVD was of just him and son. And I assume Schmoopie and the grands. If the OP is skilled, he could do that and just take himself out of the mix in the videos. All she would get is her memories, since she drop kicked memories of him. He could even give her the video of him and children separate. I bet she won’t watch that one. 🙂

          • I agree. There’s this idea that eventually you have to forgive and move on. Move on yes, but forgive? You don’t have to forgive anyone for anything, especially not people who aren’t even asking for your forgiveness. It’s ok not to forgive someone who cheated on you, broke your family apart, and pretty much undid your life for a time. Move on is for you, not for their benefit, so forgiveness doesn’t factor in it.

            I personally would just say no or maybe let my son do it if I felt it benefitted me as well, otherwise the family boat has sailed.

        • My narcissist ex manipulated my son like this. He asked him to get the hard drive with all the family photos on so he could have a copy, then persuaded him to give it to him to make the copy. My son did, because it seemed so unreasonable not to. Never gave it back, I ended up having to get it out in a court order, which he still ignored. As far as he’s concerned, I have no photos of my kids growing up. Only because being a narcissist it never occurred to him that my son would make copies for me when visiting his dad. Narcissists can use this sort of situation to ‘get back’ at you

  • No. (Don’t waste any of your time on any of the aspect of this request).

    To son: “No”. Longer: add – “it’s been 4 years, can’t be bothered, if the tapes were that important she’d had taken them with her long time ago”. If necessary, add: “Let’s drop this. What about … (change of topic)”

    Other people are free to think about you and your motives whatever they want. It’s none of your business.

    Don’t be a hostage to your children for your ex. They’re old enough of disappointment of not providing the tapes.

    You’re welcome.

    • Spot on, Persephone. That’s exactly what she should say.

      I also think CL’s spot on as to the reason for this skank’s ‘request’ out of the blue. Jealousy. Of the fact the whore AP is going to be a grandmother, so skank just *has* to make herself central in that. Says a lot about their relationship.

    • Absolutely this.

      1. NO – is a complete sentence.

      2. Boundaries – whether it’s your son acting on behalf of fuckwit, whether it’s a friend or a boss, learn to enforce boundaries. Meaning that if it’s something you don’t want to deal with, NO is a complete sentence.

      3. Do not project your chumpy values and what you care about to a fuckwit. CL is 100% spot on that the only reason she is asking is centrality and competition with schmoopie. This is not your problem and not your game to play or facilitate in any way. Fuckwits don’t care about those memories and the sooner chumps learn to accept that, the less your respective fuckwits will be able to yank your chain like this.

      …and finally….really….a fuckwit wants you to inconvenience yourself and spend your time jumping around to give her a Christmas present….she has some steel balls….or her delusions of grandeur are truly out of control this time of year. Fuckwits don’t get Christmas presents from you. She kind of lost that privilege when she decided to fck schmoopie.

      • Absolutely agree with what you say in your last paragraph! And if the letter writer needs another reason to say no, saving her son from spending HIS time accommodating the cheating ex is a very good one.

  • This isn’t very meh, but I had a funny thought….you know how when you buy a picture frame it contains a stock photo? I wonder if you can find hours of stock (generic) family memory videos. Just put a bunch of those on a thumb drive and give her that.

    However, if you did that, she might think you actually want to give her a copy of your actual VHS tapes. So probably best just to politely say “no” to your son.

  • I would say NO.

    The other day I heard “if I had talked to you maybe we wouldn’t have gotten divorced.” Meanwhile, he left everything here that was unimportant to him. His things, his family, and the pictures of that family.

    Cheating is a messy business. Proof of idiocy, emotional immaturity, a missing moral compass. They do not possess courage, a brain, or a heart. They may sometimes realize that “there’s no place like home”, but after they’ve intentionally nuked the home with your family inside, there is no going back.

    Even Miss Manners, one of my idols, says I do not need to consider the feelings of anyone who has made clear they have no regard for mine.

    Do what YOU want, in this situation and in
    every situation. But I would also be calling her to deliver my answer and tell her to NEVER put your son in the middle ever again. And tell my child that the EX is not to put them in the middle as a messenger of any kind.

    • I would not call the ex. She would love the centrality of Memory’s upset. And telling screwed up people “HEY! This really bothers me!” is handing them your button, which they can push.

      I think no contact and refusing to be a hypotenuse is the way forward.

      • I think we agree? I would not respond at all or talk to her directly (setting a boundary), but I would not respond through the son.

      • But as I say below, she can tell the kids not to be the 3rd leg of X’s information triangle. One of the first lessons I learned in therapy is: Don’t deal with others through third parties. And don’t let others use 3rd parties to deal with (manipulate) you.

        If X wants something, she can ask. And take the “no” when it comes.

        No triangles.

    • I agree. In fact when I gave my son all our home videos and movies; I told him I did not want his dad to see have them or see them. He threw his family away, so he doesn’t need to see them. After a few years, I finally told him he can do what he wants. As far as I know, his dad likely won’t want to see them. I imagine schmoopie would be pissed to see us romping around on the big screen, (In my pretty young years) with our son. My daughter in law said she does not like him to talk about the past.

      A few years ago, I did go through my pictures and picked out all the ones his dad was in, and gave them to my son. Told him he could do what he wanted with them; but that he should get copies of any he lets go.

      Though, a long time ago, my daughter in law told me that schmoopie told her that he keeps a hair ribbon that belonged to me, and a couple other things in his drawer, and he won’t let her touch them.

  • I think it’s REALLY important to communicate directly with the EX and NOT through the son…..modeling the appropriate behavior.

      • In my similar case, my response to my daughter was to tell her that if dad wants something he needs to talk to me directly and not go through her…that’s what Dr Therapist said to do.

        I think we are in the same section of the ballpark?

        • This is what I would say as well. “I’m not going to discuss my ex with you, or use you as a messenger boy between us,” and just refuse to discus anything about her.

          • I agree. I’d also frame it with saying that you love him. ‘I love you, but this is between your Mum and me. I’m not going to participate in anything that makes you the messenger/ I want to keep you out of all that.’
            If your son pushes you, you could also try explaining that they’d be emotionally and logistically difficult to dig out and you don’t have the space for that right now?
            Either way, listen to your inner desire to say ‘no’. Children are never too old to see a healthy boundary role modelled.

      • As for the EX…I think ignoring her is viable option OR calling her to educate her about boundaries and the kids is also a viable option. In my case I have felt better speaking up about boundary violations even though I have no expectations they will be respected…..just my personal choice….toddlers aren’t the only ones who need ongoing education as we all well know!

        😂

  • Because we are not leaving any sort of pictorial history of our era, since everything is digitized, I think you should do this for yourself. Also, have a professional do it and ask if you can get still shots out of some of it. Things like children throwing leaves in the air, running with the dog or just sleeping. I think you should tell your son this exactly, “Yes, that’s a great idea I think I’d like some pictures too. I’ll handle it and I’ll let you know.” Then go ever so slowly slowly slowly so that the grandbaby is shaving before you get finished. In the meantime you will really enjoy looking at your kids as little people.
    Btw, you will get calls and texts about taking so long. Be upbeat and say you are really enjoying the process and will stay in touch. Life will go on. She will move on or not. You won’t care and you will have your memories

    • Yes, this is my reply too. Yes, I think it would be a good idea to digitise them, and I’ll pass them on when it’s done. Then take as long as you like.

      • I like this idea too. Do it for yourself. Even set a timeline for yourself of a year or two and the intention is to gift this to your kids. They can do what they want with it after that. In the meantime, you have preserved the memories you want before they wear off on those VHS tapes.

        “Thanks son. I think it’s a great idea to digitize them and thank you for offering to do the work. I really like this idea of preserving these memories, but I feel like it’s something I would like to do on my own. I’ll let you know when I’m done and share a copy of everything with you. It certainly won’t be done by this Christmas, and that’s okay.

        In the future, however, I ask that you refrain from passing on any messages to me on behalf of your ***. I do not want you to be intermediary again. It is inappropriate.”

  • Don’t let the originals ever leave your hands, even to your son. My ex asked his brother if he could borrow the family photos and copy them, and then when ex got his hands on them, they ‘tragically’ they got damaged by ‘water’ and destroyed.

    You could have a few of the VHS’s copied, and give them to your son. I wouldn’t do them all, or go to any great trouble. Your kids can get the rest of them in years to come when you have ‘time’ to sort things through.

    • I agree, Mitz. While I understand why the adult child should manage this, I know anything my kids took to my EX’s or for my EX would never be seen by me again. Even if my kid promised to secure them, the EX would talk the kid into letting him see them first or tell the kid it was his turn to have them for a decade, etc.. I’d end up in a fight with my kid.

      If I were in this position (and it might happen as the EX both demanded half our photos and then destroyed his half, so some day he will likely send a kid looking for replacements), I’d agree to:

      –investigate the cost of having the tapes professionally copied and digitized
      –tell my child the cost and let them decide whether to place an order or not
      –and I would insist it all happen on my timeline–not as something I needed to rush around doing during my own holiday season.

    • Mitz is right about keeping originals in your possession. Nobody will guard them as carefully as you.

      And mailing them anywhere is another way you lose control of those precious items. Digitizing home movies is something that should be done in person, locally, IF and WHEN you decide you want to do it.

      Given the global pandemic, this is definitely not the time to be going into a store to discuss at length what you want done.

      I think you should tell your son that some day, when it’s safe to do so, you will make copies for him and his sister. If he chooses to then make copies for your ex, that’s up to him.

    • Yes, that would be my fear too, that you would pass them on to son and then ex would ask him for the originals and they would be gone for ever.

    • That’s a good idea, just choose a random one, get it copied verbatim without any editing or care, and pass to your son. Put the original back and do it on your own time.

  • I suggest option #4: do option #1 for your own benefit, but with a professional, not son, and ignore EX´s request. NC NC NC NC NC. Later, when the EX´s sudden “nostalgia” blows over, give son and daughter copies as gifts.

    Yeah, Memories, how stupid you were to make videos….

    Interesting how alimony was discussed, but not photos of dear children. My ex did not ask for and does not have, it is certain, a single picture of his children when they were younger than their age when he blew up his family. It is indeed all about them.

  • If you decide to do it, she can pay for the costs to copy/digitize and to have copies made for your children. Get the $$ up front. Then take your time getting it done.

  • Well, well, well. A few days ago, my ex asked me for a very specific family video from 1996. At the time, and unbeknownst to all of us, he’d set up a camera to videotape a family meal. Of course, because he knew the camera was rolling, he was on his best behavior, It was originally on a VHS tape that I’d later digitized. I digitized all of our family pics and movies. He didn’t ask for them in the divorce settlement. He only asked for 50 pictures. I complied.

    Anyway, he pops up with this request just a few days ago. I would say that this is just about the only video he ever took of us. Like Thanks for the Memories, I was the one who memorialized most moments.

    If it matters, he sent me this request minutes after transferring alimony to my checking account. Guess he thought I’d feel I owed him.

    I should add that in the same email he expressed concern about the increase in COVID cases. Maybe he wanted to commiserate. Maybe he wanted me to comfort him as I did for 35 years! I don’t know.

    After consulting with my sisters, I shared the video from google drive. I added no commentary. He sent an email back without content but with “thank you” in the subject line.

    What the hell was that about? Does CN think I did the right thing? Oh, and btw, I hadn’t heard from him since August when he wrote that he wanted to “acknowledge your 60th birthday.”

    I was trying to pretend he’d died. The kids and I went NC last October when he confessed to the multi-year affair. As far as I know, he and schmoopie are living together in a house he bought earlier this year. They were coworkers (physician/younger nurse).

    • I also work under the presumption that my ex doesn’t exist. Too much effort to imagine that she’s dead.

      I do think you did the right thing. If there’s no cost to you nor any expectation of this opening the door to accommodate further demands then doing a decent thing for another human being – even if they are dead to you – is good karma.

      BT

      • “If there’s no cost to you nor any expectation of this opening the door to accommodate further demands….” This is my concern. I wonder if he’s up to something. He’s very manipulative and calculating, obviously.

        But, I don’t really have regrets that I shared the video. It crossed my mind that it ruins his Spinach-is-a-bitch narrative, but then again I realize I shouldn’t give flying f**k about that.

    • It’s a hook. He’s missing cake and wants to see if you’re willing to provide it. My ex does the ‘just wanting to acknowledge it’s our wedding anniversary/ your birthday’ texts too. Don’t take the bait. He’s probably feeling bored/ angry with shmoopie and triangulating.

  • Family pictures, films, music, and “things” are a hard call. When children are young, they may not see the importance, as they age they may gain a different perspective. Reproducing these things is often expensive, and some of them will be lost to time. If you do decide to hunt for these items, make it clear to the children they must participate if it is important to them. I would not do anything for the ex. If the children want to copy and preserve, and make the ex a copy, or allow the ex to pay for the expenses involved, that is up to them.

    So far in my retirement, I have not had much money to do things like this. I have had to concentrate on repairs and updates to my home, and my health. Covid has added a whole new layer of problems. However, it was always my intention to do some family preservation and organization as a retirement project. I have become aware in dealing with my own parent’s advanced age and dementia that some things are already gone.

    One thing I would encourage others to do is begin the process of letting go of things. Neither of my parents have been cooperative in this, and when they do die, there will be a huge unorganized mess for the siblings to go thru. As I age, I find less need for many things I thought I must have when I was younger. I do not want to leave a mess for my children. If I want them to have something in particular, I would rather know that they want it, and have the joy of passing it along while I can see and enjoy this transition I do not want to encourage fights over things once I am gone. I have seen too much of this in my lifetime. My family calls it picking over the bones, and have seen the vulture fights in the families of friends and relatives. It is not a good look for anyone.

    If you value the concept of family, and heirlooms, and memories, realize it will be a bittersweet process. It will also allow you to remember certain parts of your past, so memories, good and bad, will probably come up. You cannot change the past. If you were a chump and enjoyed certain things when you were oblivious to duplicity, don’t ruin your own joy, or that of your children, by trying to rewrite the history now. Your children will have a life of their own to learn about duplicity and greed. Even FOO problems are part of the family history, and sometime understanding the origins and development of those problems can bring a new perspective to everyone involved. We grow and evolve as we experience life. We make choices, good and bad. We are human. We don’t have to be perfect. Sometimes certain imperfections can bring joy and build character. We cannot control other people’s motives, but we can control what we do and say. How do you want to be remembered? Act accordingly.

  • A hard no. My ex used the kids on matters like this. It was a request for more proof that he still had some control. I put my foot down and said no. Just no. No explanation. Just. No.

    The other thing I liked to say was, “I’ll think about it.” For some reason, especially if it’s a narc request they seem to forget about it because it wasn’t really what they wanted in the first place. Impression management, kibbles, cake. Putting son in the middle, disgusting. I agree with Miss Manners.

  • Here’s two more similar but slightly different cents from the others. My suggestions to consider.

    Tell adult son that you do plan to convert the media someday, and you’ll share it with him when you do, but you aren’t ready just now. Thank him for his offer to help. There are always risks when converting media like that. As a mom who carried the babies herself, it’s something you really need to do on your own process-wise, and you know he might have a hard time understanding that but you’re asking him to accept it because it’s important and not something you can negotiate about.

    (Side note, pay a reputable pro – there truly are risks to converting such media.)

    If pressed more, I suggest being simple and and transparent. Tell him that you’re sad that he feels in the middle of the conversation between you and your ex, but that he’s the person who is most important to you and with whom you have a long term relationship. So, as far as you’re concerned, any conversation you share with him about family memoirs is between him and you. If he chooses to share memoirs you provide, he’s welcome to do that. It remains true that your ex doesn’t figure in to your plans or timing because that’s not how being an ex works. That relationship is over. It can be hard sometimes for people to accept sometimes, but when relationships end, the connections and negotiations end with them.

    He’s an adult now and he still has a relationship with his other parent. That’s as it should be, of course, but he’ll need to negotiate that relationship on his own as an adult because you are no longer in it and he shouldn’t ever be asked to be in the middle. That’s unfair and you won’t use him as a go-between.

    Then if he brings it up again later, you can briefly and clearly and lovingly refer back to this baseline. We’ve discussed it and there’s no new information right now. I’m not ready yet. I will let you know when it’s done and give you a copy. There’s nothing else to negotiate, so let’s move on. I know this is hard and I love you and we’ll get there. Now. Want some pumpkin bread?

    My essential goal in my suggestions is to be loving to him and centralize him as the important person — and to make your ex the only person who is trying to put him in the liaison position.

    She tells him “get things for me!” You tell him “I do things for and with you, it’s you I love, you I’ll help, you I’ll inform, you I respect, you I hold dear.”

    For what it’s worth, those are my thoughts.

    • One side car: Look like a spiteful bitch to whom?

      To your ex: doesn’t matter. Who cares what a cheating deceptive self-focused demanding person you aren’t in relationship with anymore, who devalues her own child enough to use him as a pawn for her own narcissistic pleasure, thinks? Not exactly a subject matter expert on ethics, is she?

      To your son: “Not right now during a pandemic with one month before the holiday and when I have other things of my own to take care of in that timeframe” isn’t spiteful. It’s just a simple “not right now” statement. Hopefully your son can see that. (If he can’t, it may be there’s nothing you can do to change that anyway because it’s pretty damn reasonable)

      • Amiisfree – I agree. The time frame is too short and no giving a flying fuck about what morally devoid cheater thinks. The son is being used for triangulation purposes only. Ex is really living up to her stereotype by being a complete coward and passive aggressive.
        I think about all the running around I did for him and the stress it caused me. No more stress. No more running around. No more last minute requests. Maybe it will be done by next year. Maybe. God! All the last minute things I did for him!!! No more.
        My house is so peaceful now.

      • Certainly not! Everything I’ve learned on this topic, I learned from you! I will, however, gladly support you any way I can, including going blah blah here with two cents when I have them, and any other way you say. 😊

  • Hm, my suggestion would actually be to say yes. But, like, very vaguely. Say yes the way your flaky brother says he’ll send you the book you forgot at his house–you might get it in the mail next month or the month after that or you might get it when you visit for Christmas. Say you’re busy but you’ll do it sometime when you find the time. I’m not suggesting lying. Put it on your to-do list, at the bottom.

    Do it sometime, when you find the time. Like in a year or so. Maybe.

    Basically say yes but not in a chumpy way. Like yeah, sure, you have my permission to have these I guess–they are your kids too technically–but I did all the work here and I’m not going to put myself out and immediately put in a bunch more hours for you because why should I?

    If Ex hassles the son and he keeps offering to do the work to relieve her poor anxious feelings, tell him you’ll do it soon and wonder aloud why she could wait X years but can’t wait one more month.

  • I have a younger sister who is a narc and just encountered a situation like this. I have been NC with my sister for several years. When I was getting married 16 years ago, my mother gifted me my grandmother’s engagement ring. She told me she would be giving her own wedding set to my sister. My grandmother had worn her ring for almost 50 years and the gold had worn down. When I was able to afford to do it, I paid a lot to have the ring fully restored. I intend to pass it to my child someday. Sis never married and has no children. My mother recently tried to give sis her wedding set and sis balked and said she wants grandma’s ring. Soooo… she had my mother ask me for my grandmother’s ring back. (Kibbles!) My mother gives my sister whatever she wants but I was furious that she would ask me to return a gift she gave 16 years ago and had paid to improve with the intention of handing it to my sis because she just wants it. I said no and my mother tried to argue that she never intended to give me the ring but only to lend it to me. I still said no. If she had really wanted it returned (which I know she didn’t) she would not have waited 16 years until sis decided she wanted it. My mother then argued that my sister was closer to my grandmother than I was and deserves to have it. I just stopped responding to her. My mother doesn’t seem to mind being put in the middle. It’s crazy. But I don’t feel bad in the least. Nor should the OP. Just say no and move on. Don’t get engaged into an argument. Making the videos a gift for the kids is a nice option but not necessary.

    • Your sister may be a narc but after reading your post, it would seem your mother has some (passive aggressive?) issues as well. Don’t contribute to their bad behavior (they are both way out of line) and stand your ground with the ring.

  • No. Also no. And no again. That stuff is yours and if your son would like copies you can consider it for him. Once in a while my ex will text a whiny request for a “fairer share of pictures of the kids”. He was VERY focused on getting some mythical equity in the house and some of my retirement even though he never worked or contributed in any way….but now years after the divorce is final he is remembering there were kids involved? After ignoring several of these I finally told him that if photos were important to him he could have stashed some away in the years he was cheating on me, lying to me, and planning his dramatic middle of the night on our 10th wedding anniversary exit. But he was way too busy with his triangulation and his elaborate story to his girlfriend about how I was “unstable”and that he was the only good parent. I do sometimes find old photos of his family that I do send along with my daughter when she sees him. But that’s it.
    She doesn’t need that stuff. And you don’t need her mindfuckery in your life.

    • It is kind of funny and pathetic that they follow their engorged dicks to a hot new romance. Can’t think of anything but schmoopie of course, then when the thrill dissipates; all of a sudden, memories.

    • Exactly!! My stbx meticulously planned his exit for years and the part where he left all the pictures? Not my problem. I even have his childhood photos too. Don’t feel sorry for him the box was right there…next to all the clothes he took while we were all gone. Fuck him.

      • My FW did that. While I was at work, he came in like a rat and took his clothes, cleaned out his office, even took his desk. It took three days if I remember. I came home each day and died a little more. The last day was when he emptied the living room closet which held mostly his stuff. Winter clothes sports stuff etc. There was one dress hanging there that had belonged to my late mother.

        Never asked for pictures. He didn’t take anything that could have been called community property. I am guessing his lawyer told him that.

        He didn’t even take his guns. Of course that might have been because he figured his skanks kids would have stolen them. They were always in trouble. I took a picture of all the guns, just in case he came back. The next day, I had the locks changed, called him and told him to file for divorce immediately. He tried to get me to. I said nope; you wanted the divorce you take responsibility for it. I played on his guilt, so he gave in.

        (note: I didn’t give two shits about his guns, (except the one my dad gave him) I was just sick of being treated like crap.

        I had already hired a kick ass lawyer.

        • I came home to an empty closet, very passive aggressive, very melodramatic a total “fuck you” to me. I did the pathetic pick me dance for 4 months before I knew about the OW and before he kept making me feel like shit for no other reason than he could. I got his summer clothes out of the attic, helped him with the bills, I was a total chump. At some point I realized that as soon as I started feeling just a teensy bit better he’d text me then it would take me days to recover. I had a new job, I was a single parent and so fuck him.

          As part of his image management he told the kids I could take everything. Gee kids sorry for blowing up your lives but here have some furniture. I was no contact by the time I found out about the OW so I filed.

          Fast forward 19 months and his “I need to take care of myself for a change” has turned into him working THREE jobs to pay for his new life. The kids hate him, 1 hasn’t spoken to him since he left. Hope she was worth it.

          • Yep, I endured some hateful treatment. I honestly remember being of course hurt; but mostly just stunned and confused. In large part by the screaming rants he would unleash on me for really stupid shit. Like running out of salt.

            I doubt the OW is ever worth it. Not if they were to be honest. But also, the OW, except in rare cases though a piece of shit; didn’t turn him into a piece of shit; he already was one.

            No one with any amount of human decency can treat another person the way they have. They know it.

            • I hope my FW is a piece of shit that it just means I’m really great at spackling. 30 years and I kinda sorta knew. She’ll know too won’t she?

              My FW is a cop btw.

              • Yep, she found out in less than two years, he was screwing around on her.

                Per my daughter in law, and I have never known her to lie, she left him a couple times. I doubt he quit cheating until he had a major heart attack. Likely can’t even get it up anymore.

                Of course she knew before she married him, she knew what he was when she picked him up as the old “boy and the snake” story goes. She likely cheated on him too back then, after all she was a whore. Like someone else on here said, “two peas in a putrid pod”, if she could find anyone drunk enough.

                He is old and sick now. She is too.

  • How about “Making copies of videos is an interesting idea. Let’s look through them the next time you visit.” If pressed about the request from ex for a Christmas gift “No, not this year”. End of discussion.

  • I like the idea of both. Saying no to making the copies yourself and giving your son the task. I’ve found that when I’ve allowed my children to go through old photos freely they immediately pick up on how mad, disassociated and uninvolved my ex is in EVERY single picture of him with the kids or myself but if they find one of him by himself off hunting with his buddies or with other people how big his smiles are or how fake he looks. Then they begin to remember the truth of their childhood and our marriage….and we talk openly about it. I give them a safe space to talk, figure out the truth and grieve. Obviously, I couldn’t do this for years and it hurt a lot the first time they stumbled into the pictures on their dad’s behalf (it was similar to this situation) but with it came a lot of healing for me and the kids. It was a chance for them to figure out the truth themselves and then for us to grieve together. That said, give the task to him, let him hear the distain and annoyance in her voice in those old movies (I promise it’s there) and let him feel the pain of how his other mother destroyed a family. Afterward, I bet he finds more respect for you.

    • Ain’t this the truth! After going through some old holiday photos, my daughter noted aloud that “dad isn’t in any of these photos of us at the pumpkin patch, xmas tree farm, etc.” Yes, I know honey. He wasn’t there. And, a light went off in her head. We talked more about it later, with me trying to stay as neutral as possible, but ultimately she’s beginning to understand exactly how selfish her dad is. And that’s a lesson she needs to know to protect herself moving forward.

  • Hmmm, idea: say to son, “Nah, because I don’t want to contribute to FW upstaging Shmoop’s grandchild. It’s a type of typical covert abuse I know all too well and I want no part in it. I hate triangles. When I get around to it, I’ll digitize it all for you and sibling, but I’m not going to scramble around doing this now.”

  • Thanks for the tips all! He left without anything but the clothes on his back( came back later to take stuff without telling me but I digress). It all fit in with his narrative of I wouldn’t let him take anything. Schmoopie bought him new clothes on a shopping trip south of the border ( to Canada that is). He has never asked for photos of my family. He discarded us like yesterday’s news. I wonder is he ever will want photos.. but I know what I’ll say if he ever asks

  • This subject always amuses me. The cheaters blow up “their family” and YEARS later circle back to see if they can get whatever they left behind. Those memories weren’t that important when then were carrying on affairs and long term double life charades. More proof of the narcissistic jerks they are!! (like we need more proof)

    My x took off during the divorce and took nothing but the clothes I bagged for him, and I know he copied computer files for his business. While he played fake recovery he slept in a room next to the cabinet where all the pics and videos were kept. I commented that when he left he didnt even take baby pics of our kids, they were all young 30 yo’s and there were more pics than video’s back then, A few years afer the divorce and my adult married sons were having their own children the X hit them both up to ask me if he could go through the pictures. I was flabbergasted and said Hell to the f’g NO. I told them the ONLY things he wanted in the divorce papers were his “accomplishment plaques” tools, and the sporting equipment that was his. So F.Y. but those are my property. I did go through a few pics and gave him all the pictures of his mom and dad. That was it. They were NOT in pics with my kids or me. It was probably petty but I made my point. And many pics of just him and I were tossed out. I saved a few for my kids if they want to look at them some day. I doubt they could care less.

    No Shame …..

    • Excellent description!

      My EX also unduly valued his boxes of achievements (and, trust me, I’m using that word generously), but gifts from his kids got left behind.

  • Those projects should come with trigger warnings.

    Earlier this year my partner gave me a gift of digitizing all my media through Legacy Box, which cost $400 for 40 pieces. I received the link recently and spent days watching my life before Dday. It was like a movie where you know there’s a tragedy coming and you want to save the characters but cannot. To say it was upsetting is an understatement. I cried a lot even though it’s been 6 years since Dday and I’m at Meh. The words why why why why clanged through my head again. I was struck by how sweet and kind I was even when I wasn’t aware I was being filmed and kids were bouncing off the walls, I was cooking huge holiday meals, etc. it was further proof that he was the one who sucked to leave our little kids and me. Our family was/is awesome. I was/am a wonderful person.

    • Motherchumper99,

      I agree that looking at old photos and videos can be very triggering. Although it was tough for you to look at those, I’m glad you got further validation that you are a wonderful person 🙌 and that your ex sucks.

      I, too, found (and still find) looking at old movies and photos to be really upsetting, which is why I can’t/won’t do it.

      Before the divorce and when we were dividing assets, I brought up the issue of dividing photos/albums. At the time, my then STBX said he only wanted a few because “who looks at those anyway.”

      Then, during mediation, he asked for 50 pictures. He demanded originals. Maybe he had a change of heart. But I think he wanted to look like a caring dad before the judge/mediator. Image management.

      Anyway, I agreed to send 50 pics but said I would send them when I was ready to look at pictures. I knew it would be upsetting.

      One afternoon after my move to a new home, I set aside one hour and chose one box of photos (of the many that I have). I just gathered a bunch from that box and tossed them in a USPS box. Called it a day. That was in May. The divorce was finalized in June. He thanked me.

      A few days ago, as I mentioned in an earlier comment on this thread, he emailed me requesting a particular video, which I did send. Still, I’m suspicious of his intentions. I don’t trust him. I’m worried the sneaky bastard has something up his sleeve.

  • Dear Chump Lady,

    Thank you for your response and all the responses from Chump Lady. It gave me a good laugh today and actually helped make me feel better.

    I realize now that part of the reason I was upset at the request is because I am not ready to take those VHS tapes off that dusty shelf. The idea of watching family videos with my ex in them is still a bit painful and I’m not ready to do that yet. I am content to just let those memories sit on the shelf for now.

    Ironically as part of the divorce settlement she was given 10 days to come and get any copies of pictures of the kids (she didn’t ask for videos then). She never came and got any which led me to believe she was not really interested. Just another impression management scheme.

    This is not the first time she has gone through my son to get to me. I’m going to have to sit down with him and establish some boundaries. She has a new life and a new family and can continue to just leave this one on the dusty shelf.

    I will have all the videos digitized at some point. I do want the kids to have copies so they can share them with their families someday. As for my ex getting copies of them, I like your option #3 🙂

    Thanks for the Memories

    • Dear Memories,
      It’s always good to hear from a fellow rainbow chump. If your ex is anything like my STBX (we are both women, too), then boundaries are an unlearned foreign language to her, and I feel for you. I’m sure I’ll be dealing with the same sorts of requests over the next few years.

      While I don’t think you need to rush this project, I agree with the advice mentioned by other chumps above: ask your son to foot the bill of digitizing the video tapes, if he feels strongly about having that footage for his own reasons. If your son’s paying, all you would have to do is take the tapes to the digitizer, then retrieve them to put back on the dusty shelf, and send your son the digitized videos/file them away for yourself, without even having to look at them. While I understand the impulse to keep the videos under lock and key to spite the ex, that doesn’t really sound like meh to me, and your son should have access to the videos at some point and can do with them what he likes.

      I do think it’s appropriate to ask your son not to forward requests from your ex, however. Let him know how uncomfortable you felt when he brought up the ex, and remind him that he can have his own relationship with her, without letting you know any of it. In the future, he can make his own requests for his own reasons – it makes sense that eventually he would want copies of these childhood videos, with which he can do what he likes. After having grown up with her, your son might need some boundary reinforcements as well! I worry about that with my own 18-year-old, though it’s still early days since our family was blown up.

      All best to you, and I hope you can enjoy the holidays in whatever way you’re able!

      • I’m sorry to hear your family was blown up too LezChump. Thank you for your words as they do provide some comfort.

        My ex moved out 7.5 years ago and had every opportunity to take things with her, but she chose not to. She is a master at manipulating the situation to make me look bad. She probably doesn’t really want the movies as she knows I will say no. She just wants to always look like the victim when it comes to the kids.

        Situations like this actually make me grateful I am no longer with her. I have been no contact since she left, although I saw her this summer when my son got married. I was very gracious and briefly talked to her. She was the same old awful person.

        All the best to you and enjoy your holidays too!

    • I suspect she wants the pix and videos for Christmas so she can make the claim to shmoops that the ex (you) sent videos as an unbidden present because the ex (you) still “wants” her.

      How can she shit on Christmas and do that classic narcy special occasion sabotage thing without even a hint of betrayal threat? Without it, she’d have to resort to throwing a Reese Bobby tantrum over Christmas dinner. Here’s a video you can send as a tutorial: https://youtu.be/A27nH_TtN3k

      I’m convinced cheaters can’t function in relationships without the third leg of the triangle to relieve the tension caused by their own attachment disorders or whatever. The hypotenuse lurking around theoretically reduces the ever-shifting dual fears of either abandonment or “engulfment.” It may be a reflection of how that relationship is going— shmoops may have Plan Bs lurking the wings to keep FW on her toes, while FW has run out of hypotenuses for the moment. Sounds like fun (avoid, avoid).

      • hell of a chump – thanks for this video clip! Hahaha! Oh boy, if it weren’t true, it wouldn’t be so funny! And sad – “Hell son, I was high when I said that!” Right there, the son saw that his whole life was based on a lie. They hurt everyone.
        I am so glad to be out of it.

        • Ferrell always exposes these pink elephants– characters everyone’s encountered (like the attachment disordered spoiler dad) and are so ubiquitous you’d think they’d be worn-out tropes by now, but are somehow rarely nailed on screen.

    • “Ironically as part of the divorce settlement she was given 10 days to come and get any copies of pictures of the kids (she didn’t ask for videos then).”

      Then the answer is still “No. Her legal opportunity to do this expired on (date).”

      I bet she is trying to set you up as Schmoopie’s competition.

    • Thanks for the memories, it’s a tough situation to be in.
      Just be aware that VHS recordings deteriorate and you might want to make digital copies for yourself sooner rather than later. You could then pass the originals on to your Ex for her to take her own copies. Sounds like the chance of her doing so are probably quite slim but you are then seen to be the generous one.
      Ps : I didn’t read all the reply’s someone may have made the same suggestion

  • I’d tell your son that you’re uncomfortable with the indirect request that puts him in the middle. Nothing else is necessary, no other explanation.

    The thing about those movies is that you’re absent in them as the one who videoed her with your children. It’s such an afterthought on the cheaters priority list and right around the four year mark ‘family history’ surfaces because memories are necessary for image management and centrality. Maintain no contact. Period.

  • I’d politely tell the son no and move on from the conversation. It’s Mount Everest heights of entitlement for the ex to expect the OP create a gift to feed the ex’s ego, and the OP and her children owe the ex neither their time, money or offerings of family memories.

    These types rarely have any interest in their ‘old’ life or the memories of it, they only develop their peculiar brand of nostalgia when things are no longer so rosy in their current one. Having the video professionally done might be a nice idea in the future for the OP and her children, but don’t lift a finger for the ex.

  • My first reaction is to tell the son, “Over my dead body.” Meaning, when I’m gone and you inherit the tapes, you can do what you want with them.

    My reasoned reaction is that, because of all the reasons the letter writer gives, I’d say “No.” The ex has in more than one way forfeited her right to them, and if the son needs a reason that’s the one I would give him.

    If digitizing the photos were for the son’s benefit my answer would be different. But it’s clearly not. The son can view them anytime he wishes at the letter writer’s house, and he has not asked for them for himself, only volunteered to do the work in order that the fuckwit ex can have them. The ex wants them for kibbles, image management, or, perhaps, to create a portrait of her new blended family—and why should the letter writer feel obligated to enable any of those.

    This topic is very near to me right now. In the room just next to the one I’m sitting in, stacks of family photographs are laid out on the floor. I’m trying to go through them, and have been going through them for several months. It’s painful, and some days I can’t face them. Other days, I can face them ok, but only up to a point. As I go through the photos, I toss every photo I can that has him in it. Why do I do this? Because when we divorced, (I asked the ex to buy me out of the house), my ex, who had never organized a single photo or made up an single album, or taken a roll of film to be developed, asked to be able to digitize our photos. I agreed. He then bought himself a photo digitizer and digitized every photo. He then gave me the box of the photos, but never offered to give me the digitized version of the photos.

    When I moved out, I took with me the baby book and several other albums that I thought my son might someday like to have. My ex will never get a single picture—digital or print–from any of them.

    • He is such a selfish jerk!

      You write: “Because when we divorced, …, my ex, who had never organized a single photo or made up an single album, or taken a roll of film to be developed, asked to be able to digitize our photos.” This is what most of us seem to be saying here, that our cheaters never bothered to be part of taking and preserving photos/videos and yet want them in the end.

      Cheaters are takers.

      • “Cheaters are takers.”

        On another subject, I just fouind out from my son that back when all this went down, he and the mayor (who he considered his good loyal friend) had a falling out, and in FWs view the mayor “betrayed him, friends shouldn’t do that.”

        I told son that his dad had a weird sense of propriety. He was upset because the mayor “betrayed” him, but had no compunction of the total betrayal, and attempted destruction of his wife and best friend of 21 years.

        These folks are truly damaged.

        Note: the conversation was brought up by him, as he wanted to tell me some things that he thought would make me realize I was not the issue. (which I knew) But still, it was really a good talk. Son is now 51, and I am 71.

  • One thing I would do is tell Adult Son that you won’t consider any requests from X if they come through one of the kids as a third party. That’s something you can stand on as a principle: “I don’t deal through third parties. That’s a form of manipulation, for anyone to use another person to carry messages they are afraid to send themselves. This is a red flag that someone is either manipulating you, the message carrier, or the message recipient. Stay out of triangles. And that includes carrying gossip from one person to another. If X wants copies of the videos, she can email me.”

    Then live by that. Don’t use the kids to carry messages and don’t let them carry message to you.

    Then I would ask the kids if they are interested in having the videos digitized. That could be part of next year’s Christmas gifts for them. I know my siblings and cousins cherish the video and photos we have from our childhoods. They may not be interested now, but they will be. And for what it’s worth, it’s admirable that your kids have cordial relationship with X, in spite of the fact that she blew up the family. They must have valued what you built when you were together. And you are smart not to intervene in that. What you want to shut down is the TRIANGLE where she uses the kids. You can shut that down by telling the kids you won’t deal with any requests ANYONE makes of you through them. And then stick to that as a way of life.

    Never deal through a third party. “Tell Susie/Bart/Hermione/Mrs. Smith/the neighbor/X to email me (or call, if that’s appropriate.” It will change your life and END this manipulation. She can try, but that will just give you more opportunities to teach the kids not to be a hypotenuse in her Kibble Triangle.

    My guess? She may send you a snarky email about the videos. You can then say “No.” And if you digitize this stuff for you and/or the kids, then what they do with that stuff is up to them. Then you get to decide if you want to archive this stuff and when you want to do it.

  • The triangulating is the worst part of this.
    This is my XW favorite tactic. Put our adult kids in the middle when she anticipates not getting her way. She had already demonstrated this while in divorce process, so I had this covered in our settlement agreement. She still ignores it when she wants to, but I feel fully justified in cutting it off when she tries.

    • It’s the best thing for you but it’s crucial to teaching your kids to stay out of triangles–and that applies in their own romantic and family lives and in their professional lives.

  • I am going through this right now. It is in the divorce decree that my XW has to sit down with me to go through pictures. I have offered many times and she has refused. Just last week my 17 year old daughter offered to go through them with me to make sure NONE of them included me. Because it would make her mother sad. I asked why then do I have to go through them? Her reply “because you took them”. Now my XW had multiple affairs and got pregnant on purpose with one of her AP’s and passed the child off as mine when he wouldn’t leave his wife. But I am “evil and demonic” (actual words) for divorcing her. She has purged me from their house. Went through the kids stuff and made them throw out any gifts from me and my family. My daughter has a box of photos I just gave her of doubles and schools pictures. Last week I went through the pictures. I even found pictures of my kids bio father (AP) in them. She had me develop pictures of her AP’s! My advise: do what you want. I will give my kids more pictures when they are grown and away from that evil woman.

    • This is horrendous, Sirchumpalot and you’re really a noble Sir for not doing away with her.

      You’re also noble for offering the pics. But now, your daughter is 17 and she also needs to be reminded that her father is a human being, too. She also needs to be considerate of YOUR feelings and if necessary, you need to explain to her that you can’t feel happy of coming across the pics with AP and/or his baby. Your feelings count, too. Especially because this is completely unnecessary, you offered her a good solution.

      Both you and OP a few posts above who feels pain when looking at old videos, are human beings and your feelings count, too. The children/ whoever should take them into consideration before they drop everything and jump to pander to the newest whim of the shitter (cheater).

    • Give a deadline, and stick by it. “Dear Ex, as per the divorce decree, we are required to go through family photos together (VOMIT) to decide who gets which ones. I am available to do that on (give three reasonable dates and times), after that I will no longer be available for this task. Please confirm which of these times works for you, or suggest other times prior to X date. If I do not hear back from you by Y date (EARLIER than X date), I will assume you are not interested in dividing the photos.”

      That will cover your butt in case of legal hassle. She doesn’t CONFIRM a date and time by Y date, you’re done! If she does, HAVE ANOTHER ADULT THERE during this revolting procedure, and let her know that you will have only Z amount of time for the task. Every time she starts extra commentary or drama, look right at her and say ‘do you want this photo or not?’ If she doesn’t reply to that question, say ‘then I assume it’s goes in my box’, put it there and pick up another photo. BE BORING, provide no drama, no kibbles.

      The other alternative is something like ‘Dear Ex, the divorce decree requires us to meet to divide the family photos, but we have so far been unsuccessful in finding a time to do that. I propose my getting the photos digitized, at which time I can make a copy available for you. Please let me know whether you agree to this solution. If I don’t hear from you about this by X date (like in 10 days, no more!), I will assume you agree.’

      Then digitize the photos YOU are ok w/her having (there are services that do this, or you can pay your kids to scan everything you don’t appear in, if that’s your preference). Once it’s done (don’t rush, she’s not in a hurry!), send an email letting her know her copy is available and she should let you know how she prefers to receive the USB key. No response? File under ‘forget’. She ever complains? Send it to her.

      The secret, when we do have to deal w/the fuckwits, is to provide no drama. It’s a business transaction with a snake.

    • This can’t be said often or with enough feeling – she is a horrible person.

      I am really sorry, Sir. Despite all of this and 2020 on top of it, I hope you have a pleasant holiday.

    • I don’t understand this kind of divorce provision. If you’re the holder of the pictures, why not just agree to have a 3rd party digitize everything single one and send her digital copies? Or you keep the digital copies and send her the hardcopies. Why go through them together? That’s horrific.

      I was the holder of the family photos (because I was the one who cared to take photos). As part of our divorce agreement, we split the cost of having a 3rd party do this. I literally dumped a bin of scattered photos on a young kid who digitized everything not already digital. For the already-digital photos (most of them), I just quickly transferred copies of every thing onto a USB drive. The whole thing took me less than a day. He received them all. The cost was pretty low considering most everything was already digital.

      If I were you, I’d just do this and ship everything to her. Done and done. Any court will agree that you fulfilled your divorce agreement with this action.

      You can be more laser like about it if you want to take the time, omit all the photos that don’t include her and/or the kids. That’ll take more time, but may be bring you some piece of mind if you care about all that. But, I didn’t bother. I just figured, what the hell, what’s he gonna do with old photos of my great aunt, or whatever it is?! He can throw them away if he wants.

    • Sir: What the AF??! *She* is sad? Kudos to you for keeping it together. I will never understand how FWs justify their sadness or anger to themselves. My own FW stewed in his rage during the divorce -that he filed after cheating on me for 5+ years. Now he has gone NC on me. I understand that it’s all part of the great pantomime for the world at large, but how they live with themselves is incomprehensible. Be thankful you’re no longer bound to her!

  • When my ex and I began splitting our household I asked him about the pictures and videos. We had over forty years of them, including many hours of videos of our daughters. I was shocked when he said he didn’t want any of them. So I have them all and have barely started to organize the pictures. Even after five years it still hurts too much.

    But the videos, which are on super-8 film, are the hardest. I couldn’t watch them if I wanted to because I have no idea what happened to the player. I know I could get them digitized but I still wouldn’t watch them. When the girls came home for the holidays in their twenties my ex used to pull out the old tapes and they would love to watch them. Yet I could only take a few minutes before I started crying. So many memories of their sweet childhoods, which were the happiest years of my life.

    So, I would never give them to him. I will let my girls have them to sort out when I’m gone.

    • My ex didn’t ask for any of our family photos either. It was the first thing I asked of him when he left as I was worried about how to get the photos and videos off of an old PC he had them stored on. He wouldn’t even help me do that, so I had to hire a geek to come and do it. To this day he hasn’t asked for a copy of the memories. It is really hurtful because it feels like you truly meant nothing to them.

  • Dear son, if Ex has a request to make, she can do so to me. At some point we should consider digitizing those old tapes, just to ensure we can still play them back when we like. Let’s discuss that the next time you’re here!
    With love,

    or perhaps

    Dear son; Ex took everything she wanted from our home at the time of the separation and divorce. Those choices were final.
    Please don’t put yourself in the middle on any type of such request in future. If Ex has something to say to me or to request, she can contact me if she so chooses.
    Love always,

  • Let this be a prompt to digitize the VHS tapes for yourself, and share with your kids for a holiday gift this year,. Do it as a DVD (not corruptible) and store it online. Maybe do a simultaneous watch party if the kids have time. You can share it on zoom, you can do it in shorter sessions. Maybe record your conversations while watching with a separate device, the shared memories, if you like that sort of thing.

    My parents created a DVD of the older family movies through a service, they were older silent color films. They added a voice over that is mostly silent but they do introduce some of the folks in the movies.

    Then you can dispose of the old VHS that hardly anyone has the gear to watch anymore. Son can share the old movies how he wants to. This whole thing doesn’t have to be your problem.

    • I agree, but not this year. Keep the FW out of this whole experience. By next year she’ll have another focus for her drama.

  • I would and have digitized the VHS tapes of our kids because I wanted to do so. I wouldn’t do a moment sooner. Doesn’t mean you ever have to share.

  • I have a slightly different take on this.

    I would say “sure” to my son, but I would do it on your own timeframe and not feel like there’s some deadline for Christmas. Do it when it suits you to do it, or to be nice to your son.

    The reason I say this is my own experience with the narcissistic asshole. He requests things occasionally, usually through his unprofessional lawyer, and sometimes through my daughter. The funny thing is, when he makes a direct request, and I say “sure” he rarely follows through with the request. So I look like the accommodating person and he looks like the unhelpful shit bag that he is. It’s like he’s only asking to see if I kick up a fuss and refuse.

    Example: “We request FormerlyKnownAs to immediately turn over the last five years of tax records.” I say, “sure”, and I eventually hand them to my lawyer and then, he doesn’t collect them. “ Or this one: Asshat needs access to the family home to see what is in the family home that he might want.” I say, “sure, let me know what day you’d like to come over.” Then there’s no reply. From my daughter last year: “Dad wants some Christmas decorations.” I say, “sure” thinking it would be good for my daughter to have some of the family ornaments. Then he apparently took some and didn’t use them on his tree because schmoopie felt uncomfortable with the family memories. Good! See how this works? I just kind of make it like no big deal, and I don’t always give a timeframe. It’s a bit like, meh, like I don’t give a shit. You want to torture your schmoopie with family photos? How fun! Sure. Will I do it right now and be your bitch? Nah.

    I think the general rule is to make it seem like you’re accommodating and you don’t give a shit, unless the request is truly hurtful. Then they can fuck off. Such as this one: My ex and I used to have a special sexy mood lamp in our bedroom that we used and had for many years. It was special to us, and symbolic of our sex life and intimacy. It followed us around for years. A few weeks after leaving me, he actually texted me to ask where we bought that lamp, or if he could have it. Don’t worry Chump Nation, I didn’t say “sure” to that request. I smashed the fucking lamp with a hammer in a blind rage instead.

  • I think you should set those boundaries with your son. He may not be able to because this other person also raised him. Maybe you will be giving him the excuse he needs to tell her not to use him as a go-between anymore. As for the VHS tapes, don’t even give a reply. Just let it go. I’m speaking from experience. Her life is not important to you. You are too busy to bother with anything to do with her. She doesn’t matter. Maybe her new partner is more nostalgic and she’s trying to keep up. So what? Nothing to do with you. I was once a chump. Used, abused and spit out like an old piece of gum. When these asshats are in the throes of “real love” they think only with their crotch which means the kids don’t matter, memories don’t matter. Then the bloom starts coming off the rose and they land back on earth with a thump and think, oh right. I had another life that I blew up before this one. That’s not your problem. I wish you all the best.

  • I’d like to weigh in on this as someone who recently cleaned out the family home.

    Having this stuff professionally digitized is extremely expensive. You can do some of if your self if you have the equipment, but if you don’t that is also expensive and takes a lot of time.

    Here is my suggestion:

    Take tapes and place them in a box. Mark the box “Grandma’s China”, or “Volleyball Equipment”, or “Christmas Gifts 1986” or anything else you can think of besides “VHS Tapes”. Place box in storage. Tell you son you lost them.

    My two cents.

  • I’m with the camp saying that you should take your adult son up on his offer to fulfill this request, but also use it as a chance to relive the good memories with him, as a reminder to you and him both that he was loved and cared for and documented by you, his loving mother.

    As in, “sure, you can have access to your old childhood videos, makes copies/digitize.etc. and do with them what you will. I’d love to have you for a visit and make us some popcorn and hot cocoa and remember together what a delightful child you were!”

    I’d see this as an opportunity to spend time with your adult kid. What he does with his childhood memories, after that, is up to him.

    Ultimately, he’s making a reasonable request. You may not agree with his motivations, but the request itself is reasonable (to get copies of his childhood videos). It kind of becomes irrelevant at this stage whether your ex’s request to him is reasonable. Don’t triangulate on that one. Either you fulfill your son’s request, and treat it as as stand-alone, or you don’t.

    You don’t have to make this a battle ground. And, unfortunately, saying “no” does exactly that. It’s a crappy position to be in, but much of this is. Shit sandwiches all around.

  • I would isolate the variables (issues).

    A) Request from FW
    B) Request from son
    C) Utility of having old videos digitized

    A) No. (Just No…but also this is a big project, and expense,…and rushing around during the holidays to do for her…I think not!)
    B) “I was thinking about, some time, getting the old videos I took organized and digitized. Won’t be happening this month.”
    C) Digitizing film/video (and photos) is great to do for yourself and your kids. When you’re ready, I’d start organizing the videos (and photos), and researching a company that does this.

  • Door #3 sounds like too much fun to turn down. All 3 options are great, as a firm “no” is always self validating and a digital upgrade is nice.

    But nothing says “Try as you may, you will never fully escape the rotting landfill that is your soul. Here’s a video to jog your memory.”

    What a great opportunity for a well-deserved smack down!

  • I am still very surprised by the cheaters ability to triangulate. My ex does the same at times. Too often I only realize after the fact that I have yet again be triangulated.
    He asks the kids (mine are teens) to communicate on his behalf. He plays good Dad for the purpose of looking great. Making a big deal out of taking the kids to the doctor or promising to pay for things that I discussed with my daughter for something we want to do together.
    So he is intruding in my life without even talking to me. It is a constant backhanded competition.

    https://notmymonkeys.net/blog/ymwaqkhtn0wixlmdebhgbqbzol71b2

  • Along these lines, ex narc during custody trial says, “she won’t even give me pictures of the kids but sends them to my mother”. My lawyer responds, “my client hires a photographer and pays for the pictures”. Judge looks at him and says, “go get your own pictures taken”. She shut that shit down!

  • I don’t know why this seems to be difficult. Say no. It’s just a simple fucking no. You don’t have to say a word to her, you don’t have to tell your son to say anything to her either. If she cared so much about memories she wouldn’t have waited 7 years to get a copy in the first place.

    There’s no need to stress and wring hands and go through mental gymnastics of trying to think of the perfect, biting response. Just no and fuck off back to your life.

  • Leaving behind any memories, be it photos or videos, of one’s children is part and parcel of the Discard. Do the cheaters have a checklist ? Susie Lee, you said it best, characterizing it as a drop kick. It sure felt like when my father did this decades ago.
    I remember my father spending a few days after my parents second legal separation going through the house with a pad and paper. He was compiling a list of everything he wanted in the divorce for his lawyer. Monogrammed highball glasses,etc. I found the typed version when I cleaned my mother’s house fifteen years later, after her death. He didn’t take one photo of me or my brother growing up. Not one,yet the box of negatives was in the desk. “Too cheap to pay for reprints” is what I used to tell myself. Nah. He didn’t give a shit.
    He had the gall to complain about not having a recent portrait of me. His current wife has photos of her hideous family scattered around their apartment. Somebody must have pointed out the glaring omission to him. That’s the only reason I could think of. Impression management.

  • Because I couldn’t stomach the thought of family photos including my cheating ex-wife remaining in the house after I remarried, but I felt strongly that these photos were part of our kids’ family history and shouldn’t be discarded, I boxed them up and left them at my ex’s new home in our small town. The kids later told me the photos stayed in the garage a year or so until the roof leaked and most of the pictures were ruined and thrown away. Metaphor much??

  • So I have been on both sides of this situation as a chump and as a business owner that provides digitization services (among other photo services) as a Professional Photo Manager. As part of my dissolution, ex is entitled to copies of photos, etc. (He has never requested them and I’m sure this will come back to haunt me.) Even suggested that my business could do the work! What a generous cheater. It has been four years since I was chumped and it has taken me at least that amount of time to come anywhere near my personal photos. It was just too hard. However there are several types of businesses out there that can do this work for you. Yes, you can send your videos off to be converted and get digital copies created. There are also small local photo shops in town to do this work, big box stores like Cosco, CVS, or online retailers. If you do send your items away to be converted remember to get the tracking information and remember you often get what you pay for. There are also individual Photo Managers all over the county and even world. (Google “The Photo Managers” association) You can use the website to search geographically for a local consultant/business owner to help you with this work. The majority of us are women business owners who love helping others with their photos. We know this stuff is filled with emotions and trust me it’s much easier for us to do it than you. Finally, if you are still in the process of getting a divorce or negotiating this as part of a settlement make sure to talk to a professional to get help, cost, time, and availability. Your memories and photos are precious and these services are an investment that should be covered or at least shared in your settlement. I don’t want anyone to be stuck with the bill or be at the whim of an ex who wants this work done now or cheaply. Some day you will have to deal with these photos particularly with graduations, weddings, funerals, etc. Happy to answer any questions for my fellow chumps. ☺️

    • I haven’t touched my photos yet, over 18 months past d-day. I even moved to a new city. I just put all the photo albums in boxes in the attic. One day, it may not hurt as much, but that day is not today…

      • It’s been four years for me so I totally get it. In the beginning I deleted all the photos of him from my phone so I didn’t have to look at his face!! I also did that on social media. It has gotten better but it took a while. Give it time. xoxo

  • The issue of photos/memorabilia is interesting. The week before my ex left for good, he was going back and forth between the two home pc’s with a drive stick moving copies of photos from the computer that was staying (mine which housed almost 14 years of digital photos and videos) and the one he was taking with him. I guess he didn’t think to just use the external hard drive or pick up another one so that it would be a more efficient transfer of information. Of course, he didn’t get anywhere near all the photos done.

    Then, my computer crashed about six months later, and I thought all was lost. This was about six months later. I asked him if he would copy the photos he had if I provided him an external hard-drive. He said that he only managed to get only about a 1/4 of the photos from the first few years because the stick could only hold so much when he was transferring. He hadn’t even asked me about the rest of the photos. Now I was telling him that they might have all been wiped out.

    Luckily, I got an IT guy to save everything on my computer. Now I have it all on my new computer, on a cloud and on an external to be safe. Yet my ex has never followed up with me to find out if I retrieved the pics, nor to ask if he can get the rest. The kids have commented about their dad showing them pics of when they were babies, but then have asked me about the rest of the years.

    He never takes pictures of them when they are together, so the kids say. Once or twice, I saw him take a pic at their piano recital, but that’s all I’ve seen in three years since he’s left. Even my son’s elementary graduation, I took pics, my ex didn’t and has never asked me for pics. It’s even crossed my mind that if anything happened to him (God-forbid as I don’t wish death on him), there wouldn’t be any pics with him and the kids for the last several years of life.

    It’s all part of the laziness. Just as CL stated above, something will one day trigger the FW to suddenly become sentimental and want to have the rest of the pics. But, I do find that there is an irony in the FW looking through all those pics – birthdays, anniversaries, vacations, halloween, christmases, etc. All those smiling faces, family together poses, videos of laughter. Thousands of memories of a life that he reduced down to “always being controlled,” “not having any fun,” “never having been in love,” “never getting to have a say”. He’ll have to acknowledge how it wasn’t as miserable as he made it out to be. He’d be reminded of how much more we had. Now he’s avoiding that.

  • Reading this makes me realize that my STBX digitized a bunch of videos and home movies a few months before I found out about the affair. Planning an exit strategy? I guess I will never know.

  • I’d probably say, “when I get around to it, I’ll let you know the cost and provide you a copy – though, it won’t be happening anytime soon.”

  • It is so disrespectful and manipulative that your ex made this request via your son. If it were me, I would thank my son for letting me know of the request but add these FW needs to make any requests to me directly and I will follow up with her. Then I would tell FW not to make requests via the children again. I think if you don’t nip this in the bud she will continue to involve the kids, which is inappropriate and puts them in the middle. And creates grief for you.

    Fake family nostalgia from homewreckers is ugly. It’s like the people who club baby harp seals to death asking for earlier video of them playing innocently in the snow. No, No, and No.

  • Or this option ”um, okay… I’d have to hunt for them though and I’m quite busy at the moment… I think maybe in the new year some time, hopefully when it’s safer to travel you’d be very welcome to come and digitise / organise / arrange them properly son, in fact I’d love to see you and it would be a favour to me if you’d do that at some stage next year maybe”.

    Ignore the fact that it’s the ex’s bright idea and by somewhat being amenable but creating time delays and barriers, you’re increasing the chance that it never happens. By the time it does, it will be far too late for Ex’s purposes anyway, but you, OP will have been totally reasonable and accomodating.

    If son says anything like ”but Ex wants them FOR CHRISTMAS…” you can say ”well with the pandemic… ” and be all regretful but completely clear. It’s not happening in time for this Christmas. After 4 years, it’s hardly an emergency, right?

  • After a 20 year marriage my douche ex asked me not to tell the kids he was leaving. He wanted to sneak out when they were asleep. He informed me of this while he was on a business trip. I didnt say anything until he got back and I made him leave then and to tell the kids why. They were 16, 13, and 9. He was mad that I put that on him. Any hoo he just took one bag of clothes, his watches, sunglasses and left. I bagged all his stuff where it sat in my garage for 3 months. I then dumped it all at his parents which I heard sat for another 4 months. When he asked for half of all pictures, movies and family canvases that were a anniversary gift to me after 2 years of him being gone I just ignored it. When my 21 yr old daughter told me he asked if she could get him pics and his old football helmet that was in the shed. I said no. This was after 4 yrs of him being gone. The moment he left and abandoned everything like it was trash it became mine. My daughter told me its just a football helmet. I told her I would think about it. We are in the process of selling our home and building a new one which made him worried about that stupid football helmet. While I was cleaning out our house I found my daughters suicide note in a medical folder. He didnt show up to the hospital because he was getting his car fixed that’s what he told the judge. He was actually at a resort. I walked outside and tossed that football helmet in the trash. It was not a that’s what you get moment. It was a I owe you nothing moment. I have heard from him maybe 8 times in 3 years. I did the pick me dance and begged for a year and a half before my daughter tried to take her life she was almost 15. I just stopped because I needed to focus on her. After him not showing up I told him he was dead to me and I meant it. He tells my oldest that I am immature. My 2 youngest don’t speak to him. He lives 3 hrs away so that makes it easier. We rarely speak about him and if we do it’s not bad, just old fun memories. But all of us know the truth deep down. When life is hard he never shows up. My daughter is at a great place but for those 3 years it was horrible and if it wasnt for family and friends letting me cry on their shoulders and being there for us I wouldnt of made it thru as well as I did. Just FYI it was my husband’s family that helped me thru it the most. His uncle who is a pastor married my new husband and I in a big ceremony and tells me all the time how amazing he is as a person. There is life after the most darkest moments fellow chumps.

    • (((Tanya)))
      YOU are Mighty!
      I am so sorry for all you went through, but I feel overwhelmed by your strength!
      Happy happy new life to you and your Children!
      ❤️🌈❤️

      • Thank you Peacekeeper. I didnt find Chumplady till I was 3 years in. Oh I wish I would’ve found you all at the begaining.

    • Tanya, what a great story, and inspiring for those of us in the thick of the crazy. Hate your ex (wanted to sneak out in the middle of the night to abandon his children!) but love his family. Happy Thanksgiving to you and your wonderful now family!

      • I promise his family is the best. They would never condone his actions. It’s almost going to be 5yrs and he only sees his parents. He refuses to speak to anyone else because they told him he was wrong and that they were more worried about the kids and I, than him. My amazing husband is super close to my exhusband’s cousin lol. They all love my husband and have welcomed him to the family. My ex might of got the 22 yr old girlfriend but we got to keep his family.

  • I would tell my son, “No thanks” and move on. If he insists, I would let him know that one day (when I choose), I plan on giving him all the tapes and he can decide what he wants to do with them. Remember, you owe your ex NOTHING – not one ounce, not one crumb, not even half a neuron. YOU do what YOU want to do, how YOU want to do it and when YOU fkn feel like it. PERIOD.

  • I know sorting sentimental items is one of the hardest steps so initially I packed all of the photos/keepsakes/letters in a box and put them out of the way. In saying that, I got this out of the way fairly early. One night when I was feeling capable, I sorted through photos: clipping him out of any I wanted to keep, and any pics I wasn’t in, went into a box which was given to him.

    I was always the person who organised for photos to be taken, processed, displayed, mounted etc. any professional photos had been organised by me. I don’t know that he really cared when he was given the photos, after all, he’d left them at “the awakening Dreamer storage facility” while he explored strange. What I didn’t want was to have to deal with it on his timeframe at a later date, for him to pilfer through and take photos I wanted.
    I also wanted to be able to look at photos and not have his ‘meth teeth face’ pop up while I was enjoying memories.

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