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Ex Tells People She’s ‘Liberated from a Loveless Marriage’

Dear Chump Lady,

After being quarantined with Covid for the month of November 2020 my wife came home and announced that she wanted a divorce. The month had been stressful as we have two young children, 5 and 3, and I worked from home as a teacher during that time. My wife had returned to work as a nurse and I remained in quarantine for another two weeks. During that time she worked late, went “away” for the weekend because “work was stressful” and was just plain distant the whole time. It was a very lonely time but I kept my head down caring for our children and working.

This was days before Thanksgiving and she informed me that she would be moving out on New Years Eve. During that time (2 major holidays), she was distant and not really present in our home. I made gingerbread houses and made Christmas dinner for the kids. I took the kids to a hotel to get out of the house and swim. She would shave her legs and go “shopping” for 4 hours at a time. She was not someone I knew anymore and I confronted her about there being someone else. Each time she would lie and say there wasn’t. I handled my part, owned what I needed to own for the demise of our marriage, got sober and focused on myself and my children. I bought my own home, sold our home for a hefty profit and eased into my new life. I got a therapist and started working on my mindfulness. She got a lawyer and we quickly filed for divorce. I limited contact with her and sensed that there was something bad going on. Well, fast forward to June and it all came out.

It turns out that she had met a man, a co-worker, for “beers” out in the woods in the middle of October. A fellow co-worker (a female who my wife was also intimately involved with), who has an open marriage and is a slut, had set up a threeway for the three of them. They talked for hours and made out. They got Covid and spread it to me and our children. They spent every night talking on the phone for hours and meeting whenever they had a chance. He was married too but his wife found out about the affair. He ultimately decided to leave his wife of 23 years and his two children for my ex wife. They spent the winter continuing their affair and ultimately buying a house together a few weeks after our divorce was final. The whole time they were both peddling a narrative that didn’t involve an affair but was a magical coincidence.

She controlled the narrative for much of that time — telling people that she left a loveless marriage and somehow “found” her new lover as they liberated themselves from their painful marriages. She assassinated my character to our mutual friends and got ahead of the affair narrative. I have lost a lot of shared friendships as a result.

Now I am realizing just how many people really are not that interested in what happened to me and are happy to buy whatever narrative she is selling. It is a sad reality but at the same time also liberating that there are many people who just aren’t worth being a part of my life. Since we live in a small town and have a large circle of mutual friends it has been painful to watch people accept her immoral actions as justified. I know that I am on a better path, the path I was meant to be on but know the road is long. My children are now living with this man (6 months after our divorce and her moving out) who crept into our marriage and decimated my life as I knew it. We try to parallel parenting but communication is toxic and limited. She told me the only thing she would change about all of it was “telling me” and that “he left his wife for her” (like it was something to be proud of). I work on my no contact but there are challenges. Any advice for this chump?



Dear Christian,

I’ve got advice for your ex-wife: “Fly! Be free!” That old Robin Williams Mork episode came to mind (thus gif). Fly you selfish twat! Be liberated from the cruel environs of marriage and a loving husband! Go splat on the counter.

I mean, think about this Christian. (I’m sure you have.) She began the pick-me dance with a three-way in the woods. (Were there pine needles? Ticks? Poison ivy? I know this is supposed to be edgy, Druid stuff, but I always imagine — is the sex really that great in a forest?) She “wins” the pick-me dance and the guy leaves his wife. The wife who was into the open marriage. (Maybe. Big maybe.) Does she really think this guy is going to close the circle and make her special? Or she is the new sucker who gets to schedule his sex partners?

She thinks THAT guy, Lord of the Pinecones, is a prize. She imagines she’s the only co-worker he has a beer with. She gets to police that. Or play along. (We’ll fuck in a yurt! Go glamping with groupies! In the glow of kerosine!)

My advice to you, Christian, is be the sane parent. Because your ex has taken leave of her senses.

Or perhaps not. Maybe she’s always been a shallow, selfish person who’s okay risking her children and your health for a fuck in the park.

I handled my part, owned what I needed to own for the demise of our marriage, got sober and focused on myself and my children.

You didn’t make her cheat. I’m glad you’re sober. Whatever your problems, you clearly had the executive functioning to do child care, make gingerbread houses, move an entire household, and navigate a divorce. Oh, and teach children remotely during a pandemic. So, don’t accept any blameshifting that you Drove Her To It. She could’ve spoken up before she fucked strange in a pile of leaves.

But she didn’t. And that’s about her character.

A fellow co-worker (a female who my wife was also intimately involved with), who has an open marriage and is a slut, had set up a threeway for the three of them.

And you know this how? From your cheating, lying ex-wife? Look, the whole “Let’s try open marriage” is something foisted on a lot of chumps. Some go along (see “Pick-me Dance”). Some discover this “offer” is just damage control because unbeknownst to them, they were already in an “open marriage.”

Also, if she was really into open marriage, then after 23 years, she’s the primary partner and your ex is just a satellite. Didn’t work out that way, did it? And, it’s in your ex’s interest to describe her competition in a bad light. Just like she did you. So, check your own narrative, okay? It’s still not okay that this woman fucked your wife. But consequences were served.

Affair partners, as much as they suck, don’t make cheaters cheat. No more than you can make a cheater NOT cheat. Adults have agency.

[This man] who crept into our marriage and decimated my life as I knew it

Your ex did that. All by herself. He and his ex-wife are co-conspirators, for sure. But this The Big Bad Affair Partner Ruined My Marriage narrative is dangerous. What happens when Ms. Egg goes splat and needs a Plan B? You gonna take her back because he’s gone?

No. Be clear-eyed on who she is. Someone who is okay cheating on you and then assassinating your character afterwards.

She controlled the narrative for much of that time — telling people that she left a loveless marriage and somehow “found” her new lover as they liberated themselves from their painful marriages.

And you liberated yourself from a fuckwit.

Look, you don’t control what self-serving tales they spin. I get that it’s infuriating and adds insult to a pile o’ injury, but it’s just what fuckwits do. What is she supposed to say? “I got drunk in the woods and gave my family COVID for luv”?

No, much better for her ego to paint you as “loveless.” The guy there picking up the slack, making gingerbread. I’m sorry you don’t give her the same butterflies as a loser with a cold beer and a tarp. (Sorry, I have to imagine the logistics of that romp. What were they fucking on? A blanket? But there’s no moisture barrier. It’s damp outdoors!)

Anyway, as you rightly point out, believing her nonsense is a litmus test. Those who judge you as loveless, or complicit in being cheated on, are NOT people you need in your life. Cull your social register accordingly.

As for maintaining no contact ahead — with kids there’s just grey rock. Minimal contact, parenting software, and iron-clad boundaries. CN can weigh in with Co-Parenting with a Fuckwit pointers.

If it’s any consolation, I wouldn’t expect Lord of the Pinecones to be a permanent fixture in your children’s lives. The odds of open marriage guy committing to the hum drum of domesticity with two small children after he did 23 years of it elsewhere, unlikely. But by the time the consequences hit, you’ll be past caring.

Soldier on, Christian. ((Hugs)) from all of us.

Ask Chump Lady

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  • Fellow male chump. I agree, one of the hardest things to accept, is the false narrative. It’s hard to accept that your “mutual friends” still want to hang out with her. It’s hard to accept that your kids have to spend time with that POS. Christian, there is no other choice, unfortunately. I hate that that’s our only option, but it is. I feel your pain brother, I think the biggest part of “Tuesday” is acceptance. You’re killing it right now, if you hear nothing else today, hear that. Character shows itself over time. Keep up the good work.

    • Fellow Make Chump,
      I too know your pain. But I will tell you its going to pass.

      And I will tell you that your stock will trade high, you’re the catch most healthy people are longing for; a good dad, a teacher, you got. it. going. on.

      But first get through the tunnel of pain. Do not worry about the narrative. Let that boat-of- boneheads drift away from your dock and don’t even watch it go. Set up a home for your kids.

      And in time you’ll see your mighty power (hint; its real love) and life will be SO MUCH BETTER you won’t believe it.

      • Boat of boneheads…good one! Make chump:hugs. Good job setting yourself free! Hugs! She sucks! Your better off without that creepy icky person. Thank you for being a teacher and being there during this crazy time.

      • Thank you. I understand that the pain was necessary to help me really change and be open. My kids and I just picked apples and pears from our trees and went for a swim at the local pool. It was a really good day today. Oh, and I blocked Pine Needle Butt and am only using the parenting app to communicate. There was no other way to set real boundaries.

    • Christian-I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I understand the injustice of the AP spending time with your children. It’s unfair and so frustrating. I don’t think it’s a male or female thing. It happens to both sexes and it’s not right. While I still question why the AP gets to play mother to my children, I know I am their true mom. Your kids will know you are their dad and tell you on multiple occasions how grateful they are for you.

    • Thank you for sharing this! I feel like I’m killing it and that this is my true path. I’ve got to learn to get of this trap with parenting with my ex.

    • I agree with BBM about Mutual Friends – some be just polite – she tells story, they listen and say nothing – no-one knows inside head what they are thinking. they may not know what to say to you and are keeping out it.
      I have several of my ex’s mates who stuck with me cause they disliked his behaviour. These chaps (and their wives) have been great and gave me hope.

  • Good Morning Christian and welcome to CN.
    CL is right (as always 🙂 ) you got screwed by this “modern liberated person”. You and I have similarities in experience with FWs (both dumped for a “sexy luv filled romp with a tru wuv”— if only we’d made the gingerbread a bit more snappy ( or whatever the reason was for the demise of our marriages and families ).
    You’ve done awesome thus far and you must keep the course— no contact, know that she’s a hole in the forest filled with poop. Keep moving forward.
    CL saved my life, literally, because my freak and her Tru Wuv ruined me— did you know last Friday her Tru Wuv called my work and the result of which got me terminated? Not joking. ( my work is secretive and I must pass a background check and all possible shenanigans are not good and the story he told them was not pretty. It’s their narrative and it’s only meant to serve them. ). I just told my HR person, “Sorry they involved you and thanks”. I moved on, again.
    So know that FWs and Tru Wuvs will do anything to keep that spark and because I did no contact the spark was fading and their orgasms became less tingly without me in the triangle. Same story as you, just different words. Stay away from her, do your parenting and remember she is just a turd in the forest. You got this. Be an awesome dad and show your kids what awesomeness is — it is not Tru Wuv. But, he’s around them … yep, your wife sucks just like mine. It’s awful. I’m still navigating how I parent with these freaks, but CN and CL are here to help and all we can do is be awesome and sane and chuckle — my narrative is my ex is an “egg donor” for my 3 amazing children all under the age of 2.5 and her Tru Wuv is the turd she likes to screw. Repulsive
    You got this.

    • I’m so so sorry Xioba that they even made you lose your job. I hope things only get better for you from now on, far, far away from those assholes!

      • I hope you have a good lawyer, Xioba Xioba. I know most employment if you are in the US is at will, but maybe this is usable in custody, etc. Not a family law specialist, just thinking out loud and wishing you and your kids the best.

    • “Their orgasms became less tingly without me in the triangle…”
      Gad, it’s so true.

    • Get a lawyer. I don’t know what the AP told your employer but it sounds like you were terminated immediately, without an investigation. As for the AP, maybe he’s a bum and you can’t get blood from a stone but he has opened himself up to a defamation or harassment lawsuit. At the very least a restraining order would be a start.

      • Losing your job because of this sucks big time. Especially if you liked the job!

        But maybe you can “splain’ to your EX that it will mean LESS child support, not more.


  • “Fly you selfish twat! Be liberated from the cruel environs of marriage and a loving husband! Go splat on the counter.”

    This exactly. Towards the end of our year of our legal separation, the asshole wanted to meet for lunch to talk about “trying again” This was after I had already turned him down in front of the preacher. I had already given him one chance and he fucked me over yet again.

    Anyway, he was really mumbling through that encounter. He said “we never really tried again” (We did, or I should say I did”. I flat out asked him, why did you do this to us. He kind of shrugged and said “I wanted something for myself”. I said “I thought that was what I was”. (He had been the only man I had ever been with, and I was blindly devoted).

    Anyway, I just got up and said, you made your choice, so if you love whore you should just go on with your life. Asshole still called me one more time to try and lure me back into his web. It was just a few weeks before they jetted off to Vegas to make their solemn vows. Lol, I am slapping a hundred bucks down on the whore. Let it ride.

    Please understand he never really wanted me back, he just didn’t want me with anyone else.

    No I didn’t call her whore to his face, I used her name; but I really wanted to say whore. I only did that once early on as he was giving me the discard speech.

    • Susie Lee, love all your posts. So happy you have a loving & caring 2nd husband.

      Your posted reminded me of a post-dday conversation with ex just before he moved out. He was the only man I was ever with & I asked him if he could see me with another man. His reply was, “if it will make you happy.” No need for me to be stunned as I was in a permanent stage of numbness by then.

      • I think honestly so many of these turds mistake our loyalty and commitment and think we are loyal and committed because they are just so danged awesome, and not because we are loyal folks who keep our promises even when the ones we love are less than perfect.

        They are honestly shocked that we don’t spend the rest of our lives, crying over the altar of their memory.

        A woman (who I knew from the Lions club we were members of ‘Betty’) actually came down to my house and told me of what happened about a year after we were legally separated (the D was not final yet, but I had been trying to move on) She said fw and whore were doing some politicking and whore actually said to her that fw was hurt that I had gone out on a date with someone else. The unmitigated gall of that stupid whore. She (Betty) said to whore, did he think she was going to pine away for him for the rest of her life? Betty was so pissed she came right down to my house to tell me. We sat and talked and laughed a long time. I wish I had told her of the awful detailsof what he had done, but I was still in protect my feelings and my son mode,

        Evidently their politicking didn’t go well as soon after that he was demoted and booted out of his office. Within a couple months they had slithered out of the town and rented a place pretty far away. He hid out until he took early retirement.

        Turned out part of what they like about him was me, who knew? Well actually I knew, and so did the mayor. FW had killed the golden goose by his own actions.

        I guess because women were interchangeable to him, he thought they would be to everyone else.

        • He thought his accomplishments were because of his ‘wonderful character’. He never even thought his advancements could possibly be contributed to the fact that he had a loyal and devoted wife. I must admit, I would be thrilled to have a similar story to tell about my ex-FW and his skank; however, he retired and as far as I know, is not pursuing anything in the public eye. As for his skank, she’s still a social worker teaching at the local university. It’s not worth my time (or my job) ousting her for her lack of character. I’m leaving it up to God. He’ll deal with it in His time and in His way. I’m just doing the best I can to be the best person that I can be. And I’m happy!!

          • Right, and I am not saying he wasn’t a hard worker, honestly he was, but he needed me to help him in the community that is just how those things work generally. Shoot to be fair he even thanked me for my help the day he was promoted. Now I don’t know if he did it of his own accord, or because brass told him he better.

            Anyway almost over night he started the withdrawal, and subsequent discard by the end of that year. He had evidently washed his hands of me as soon as he got his captains bars. He also had dreams of eventually becoming mayor, but since he thought he would easily slide whore in to replace me, he may have thought he could still pull that off once he smoothed it over.

            ” I’m just doing the best I can to be the best person that I can be. And I’m happy!!”

            Yes, you will continue to be happy, and likely like me you were happy before he did his crap, not because of him but because of you. They hurt us, but they can’t destroy us unless we let them.

            My ex however was hell bent on destroying himself, and I just had to step out of the way lick my wounds and go on to a fuller better life than I imagined when it all went down.

        • “I think honestly so many of these turds mistake our loyalty and commitment and think we are loyal and committed because they are just so danged awesome, and not because we are loyal folks who keep our promises even when the ones we love are less than perfect.”

          Thanks for this, Susie Lee, this is is such an important reminder. We are often so wrapped up in trying to figure out what we could have done differently, when the reality is there is very little we could have changed, and likely nothing that would have resulted in a different outcome. Their sense of entitlement let them believe they were awesome and deserved our loyalty. But our loyalty was a reflection of our character, not theirs.

          • Yep at a point in time, they decided that they deserved a faithful spouse but their spouse didn’t. So they cheated. There is no other way to look at it than their perceived entitlement.

        • Well said, Susie Lee. I am occasionally still tempted to break NC – don’t worry, I won’t! – to call out this egoism and entitlement, to set the record straight about what a POS I think cheater ex is, and to let him know that I’m not struggling because I lost him. Quite the opposite! I’m struggling because I spent years of my life with an abusive cheater who stole almost everything from me, then went in to lie and steal some more. I was traumatized because he’s pathetic, not because he’s wonderful and I miss him.

          • “Quite the opposite! I’m struggling because I spent years of my life with an abusive cheater who stole almost everything from me, then went in to lie and steal some more. I was traumatized because he’s pathetic, not because he’s wonderful and I miss him.”

            This exactly.

    • When Tinkerbell said: ” If you have to choose between me and her, choose her. Because if you really loved me, there wouldn’t be any other choice ” I felt that.

      • Yep. I don’t want a man who has to choose. In a marriage the choice was made. I was either the one or I wasn’t.

        I never wished either of them harm, nor did I care what happened to them.

        They were the authors of their own misery.

      • AuntBea619, I said that and meant it, too. Maybe I should change my name to TinkerChump.

        Cheater said he chose me. Finding hope in the possibility of “new”and better relationship (thanks, Esther), I gave reconciliation my all – destabilized and vulnerable as I was. I recall the couples counselor, along with FW, telling me I had to take the risk and believe in order for the relationship to work. I did.

        Cheater was still cheating. Liars lie. He said he chose me, but he didn’t. I wouldn’t have chosen him if I’d known. I was very clear about my needs, and he used deception and coercion to keep me dancing.

    • My ex was supposed to return a truck to me he refused to pay for or get out of my name. He filled the bed with trash from him and the whore. He did every horrible thing you could dream up to me, while still married, while living in marital home with the whore. I think he thought I would react to the truck filled with garbage and cat litter, etc. But I calmly took the keys and said “ go back to your whore” in Rhett butler fashion.
      It must have been a devastating blow because the whore went on Instagram trying to get people to agree she wasn’t a whore. But when she had to explain he was married the whole time they were together, it was krickets from her followers. If the show fits!

  • Christian here’s to being the safe and sane parent. Kudos.

    (Lord of the Pinecones!!! I AM DYING)

  • Seriously Christian, my dad stayed with my cheating narcissist mother for decades, and she made his and her children’s lives a misery (my life!! as a child I did not have a lot of escape options available). I understand it’s tough, but please be the sane parent for your children and model self esteem and honesty for them so they don’t grow up thinking an unhealthy relationship is good.

    You are really much better off without this cruel dishonest woman. Hopefully you will find someone less dysfuctional to repartner with if that is what you want like my dad did – make sure you learn this lesson – unlike one of my friends who is gearing up to marry a third deeply problematic person – she seems oblivious to the fact the guy is a sociopathic creep who is after her money – and while my dad really did love my mother, I bet he wishes he got divorced way earlier, someone may be pretty on the outside, and charming on the surface, but please carefully examine their character too.

  • Christian’s role now is to be the sane, stable parent. And hopefully in time he will find a decent lady.

    I imagine there will be a lot of instability on the side of the liar ex and the snake she has fallen in with. Those kids are going to need a grounded father. And no other man will ever take his place.

    The fact that some people are going to judge you wrong, despite all you do, is one of the tough things to swallow in life. They look at the situation with their own bias and fears. No amount of explaining to them will make any difference.

  • Interesting. My cheaterpants ex wife did the whole screw in the woods in the middle of January in a northern state with her lover boy. I always wondered if it was true. She’s a lying liar after all, so who knows.

    • Lol– I think the nature-loving pose of the mate-poaching men in these situations really means they’re too cheap to pay for tacky hotel venues like the other creepos do.

  • First, everything CL and the Chumps above wrote….spot on. Second, one of the biggest things I picked up on is it sounds as if you are trying to co-parent with your toxic, character flawed, narcissistic ex. That’s a no-go! You can’t co-parent with a narcissist so you need to learn how to parallel parent. Parallel Parenting works best for high-conflict divorces with narcissistic fucktwits. Get a plan in place (legally so when….not if…asshat breaks it you can do something about it). Use Our Family Wizard App to communicate (FYI – when asshat fucks up, court allows messages from this app and emails…bc they have time stamps and are easy to follow….but typically does not allow standard text message unless it is an extreme case). This type of parenting will help you and your kids….PROMISE!

    • I also recommend hiring a bulldog family lawyer as well as a good counselor who has had high levels of training with narcissistic individuals to get your parenting plan and how to navigate parallel parenting style in place. You might have a great therapist now and good for you but when dealing with a narcissistic person/parent it’s a whole other level of knowledge and training for a therapist. The best and most well intentioned therapist can be inexperienced with these master manipulators and get roped into the Narcs narrative and games. Hope that info helps! It helped me in an 7yr battle (some in court, some in therapist offices) with my ex narc and it finally took a highly experienced psychiatrist (who had a PhD and high levels of training with narcissistic individuals and became our children’s guardian ad litem) that peeled back of what was really happening under all the fucked up drama the narc and his narc sidepiece were stirring up and exposed it all. My kids and I are in a much better place now….safe, happy and free. Good luck and many prayers for you and your children.

        • ❤️. I know it’s hard! But it’s the best thing for you. To help you improve your grey rock skills here are some things that helped me:
          – if my ex text or called, I would not reply until the next day
          – when he started texting about “urgent” things and then telling the court that I’m not a good parent bc this is an “emergency” and I should have responded (mind you, they were not emergencies and not urgent….they would be things like our son forgot his homework, needs his cleats before practice, etc) but my ex Narc created them to be so the court would listen…so, when that occurred I implement the “respond in 3 sentences or less rule”. It’s best if you can respond with just 1 word (yes or no) preferably.

          **They have My Family Wizard now which is meant for communicating in High Conflict situations with difficult parents and I would use that instead of text. I say that from experience. It was not out when we first divorced so we continued to text/email and in the middle of the nasty custody battle that my ex narc brought forth, I submitted YEARS of text that proved me right. The lawyer said the judge was going to throw them out bc it was difficult to read through them and there had to be a direct timestamp (ex: Aug 8th, 2021 at 3:45pm). I had to fight tooth and nail for those text to stay. In my case, they accepted it. I know others who did not. Get My Family Wizard and protect yourself.

          • Thanks. I ended up blocking her phone last week because she would bombard me with meaningless stuff and usually about changing the parenting schedule or being late to meet. It was just a way for contact me whenever she felt like it. I told her we could do all that through OFW. I told her there were two things I was interested in hearing about from her- the status of her name change (she played a lot of games with that) and providing our children some sort of therapy as I was seeing more emotional distress around the time she moved in with AP in the house they purchased together a month after our divorce was final. She didn’t inform me about the therapy but billed me for half through OFW. It was the first I had heard of the therapy and she had done the intake and the first session with the kids. She said it was mostly just behaviors she was seeing and other stuff…no big deal. She invited me to contact them and join at any time! They even recommended it!! Wow thanks for making me feel included. It was kind of the last straw of the mindfuckery so I had to create more boundaries. Thanks again for your support.

            • I should clarify that the FW and her AP bought the house together a month after our divorce was final, he moved in in April and she moved the kids in with him in July after it all came out and she was busted. I’m sure they both didn’t want to keep spending the $1,600 a month on her apartment since their cover was blown.

    • OurFamilyWizard does not solve the problem, as my situation shows. I am still not divorced even after more than two years separated. High conflict because husband will not settle. More than a year ago the court agreed with me that we should use Our FamilyWizard. But it took months after that for my husband to use it for anything but reading my updates about minor son. Now he uses it for all communication, but he has his ways of jabbing and harassing me with his Trojan horse emails. There is no way to escape these cruel people except no contact.

      • No it will not stop the harassment or his irresponsibility. Nothing will, so stop thinking it will help him. What it will do is cover your ass, especially in court! (We call it CYA). You are in a war up against a hateful, cruel, sick piece of trash….I say, let him keep harassing you on Our Family Wizard….the better to gather evidence for the court. Sorry to say, these asshats love to dredge it through the court system bc they love to inflict pain where they can but this app and his harassment can actually save you in the long run. If he gets too harassing take it to get a restraining order against him if you haven’t already (that’s another good tool in your tool belt when court hits). I’m 8 yrs out of divorce and 3 yrs out from our last court battle….he kept me in court for 5 yrs. And, after the last one he won’t try again….the guardian ad litem was a psychiatrist with a PhD and specialized in Narc abuse. He wrote a scathing report of my exes lies, deceit, greediness and how he should not have custody of our kids. I share that report to anyone and everyone I need to so they don’t fall prey to my ex narc when he tries to pull the wool over their eyes (per the court I have been instructed to this as needed)….this has included doctors, lawyers, the school, etc. So, my best advice is hunker down, CYA, document, gather evidence and always be prepared to fight (legally) when you need too.

  • I feel your pain. My x has told people, from the time I found out about his prostitute, that he was unhappy and in a loveless marriage since before our children were born (so since 1999). This was news to me since we went through infertility treatments to have both of our children. He peddles the unhappy narrative to anyone who will listen. It’s amazing how many people will believe it rather than look at the ugly truth: he cheated with a hooker, during COVID, in my house and didn’t care that he exposed me to STIs, created financial insecurity for his children and caused them to lose the only home they’ve ever known. But he’s HAPPY and FREE! I will get to Tuesday… I’m starting to see it. I don’t miss his moods, his anger, his lack of fun. I miss being part of a couple.

  • Sorry to have you as part of the club, bro.

    A long distance dedication to my brother in arms . . .

    (music by John Denver, lyrics by [and for] Christian)

    While teaching little kids with the quarantine flu
    Turns out the wife ain’t the decent nurse I knew
    She’s easy to tempt, easier to screw
    Thank God she’s a country cunt

    A deceitful kind of wife who will do as she pleases
    Drinkin’ a beer or two and fuckin’ in the trees
    How do I know she gave me only one disease?
    Thank God she’s a country cunt

    Well I got self-respect and I got me my kiddies
    She’s got fuckwits galore and a stature that’s shitty
    Life is better without living by committee
    Thank God she’s a country cunt

    (here’s the tune:

  • I have nothing to add to what has already been great advice, but wanted to say how awesome it is to see all the male chumps responding!

    Soldier on, Christian; you got this!

  • “Since we live in a small town and have a large circle of mutual friends it has been painful to watch people accept her immoral actions as justified.”

    This is another hard part of being a chump. My FW is very social and charismatic and, because he had his whole plan pencilled out before I even knew he had a secret girlfriend (I, too, also kept my head down, raised our kids, and desperately tried to keep him happy even if that meant walking on eggshells), he was able to get ahead of the narrative and throw his story out there–like a large fish net!–before I even knew that my marriage was over.

    It was disappointing and heartbreaking to see how many people got caught in that net. Many friends and family members preferred the “oh, Fourleaf and I just drifted apart; good thing FW#3/Wifetress was magically right here–like immediately right here–to pick up the pieces of my heart… no, no don’t ask Fourleaf how she feels, she’s find.. no, no I said *don’t* double-check my story!” narrative to, well, the objective (and, c’mon, easy to see) truth because believing FW’s story was more palatable and easier to digest than my pain.

    Many of those people, after he left and moved in with her, when out drinking with them, posting their friendly friend friend friendship photos all over social media. Many of those friends attended their wedding. None of those people who were willingly caught in FW’s “I’m ahead of the game” narrative reached out to me to inquire how I was doing; they accepted his story and his new soulmate (whose house he instantly moved into after leaving me and the kids, I mean, come on!) and aligned themselves firmly on his side.

    No one needed a magnifying glass; it was obvious that my husband left me and the kids for an affair partner. If they swallowed his narrative, they did so willingly and while looking the other way. It was frustrating, disappointing, and heartbreaking. I never asked people to take sides but I was kindof devastated by how quickly they did just that. Those fish jumped in the net themselves.

    I will have to take careful stock of my actions and my alignment should I find myself in a similar position. I should hope that, should I have friends who are divorcing because one of them is an obvious obvious cheater, that I don’t jump right over to the more attractive looking camp.

    Anyway, yeah, I lost a lot of friends. A lot! I was in survival mode, so I had other pressing matters at hand while he, girlfriend, and his social circle had good times. I learned how to block people on social media (FW, GF#3/Wifetress, FW’s family), and ignore-without-blocking the rest of them. I didn’t cut these former friends out of my life or block them but I did take stock of who was taking selfies with FW and his affair partner and I took ten giant virtual steps away from them. My social circle is infinitesimally smaller now but I feel better about who is here. You will find yourself becoming a curator of friends. It… sucks. There’s no way around it. But I knew that I didn’t really want to be in the same room as someone who, weeks before, had their arms around FW and his affair partner in a celebratory selfie.

    Don’t try to get ahead of your FW’s narrative; they’ve had that net out in the waters longer than you’ve known what’s going on. It’s not fair, I know. It sucks. But trust that they suck, hold your head high, and live your life authenticity with more honour and honesty than ever.

    And, to the other point raised, parallel parenting. It suuuuucks. I’m so sorry. My FW’s exit affair became his Wifetress and my children have been calling her “Mom” (they visit them on weekends) for nearly ten years now. This was, and still is, a painful situation; I’m just used to it now. Before it was a throbbing wound. I remember once telling a lawyer (sobbing) “I’m never going to get used to my babies thinking someone else could be their Mom too!” and this lawyer unsympathetically said “Well, you’re going to have to get used to it” without batting an eye or looking up from her paperwork.

    I didn’t keep that lawyer but I never forgot what she said.

    It is what it is. My children’s step parent is their father’s exit affair. What brought me a small measure of peace was realizing that I can’t control that. I just have to deal with things over on my end. Like CL said, be the sane, stable (heck, even boring) parent.

    Be the center spoke in the ever rotating bicycle wheel that is their world. Be their steady rock.

    • I love your line “no one needs a magnifying glass” to emphasize that all the faux friends know what has happened and are only buying the EX’s narrative out of convenience!

      • I really think that some people just do not care. The person who is hurt is messy. It is so much easier to believe the person who seems together. We are suffering and struggling Directly because of their actions, maybe we don’t look good maybe we are overtired maybe our houses are messy maybe we aren’t going to church maybe we have become more boring maybe we lie around crying a lot. And then what they have done to us they use those very things as evidence of why they had to leave.

    • It sounds like your ex fw surrounded himself and your marriage with a ring of bullies.

      If you think back, you might remember subtle ways that he chased away people who may have been more likely to align with you. I remember being given this treatment by friends’ partners who later turned out to be abusive. Abusers definitely have radars for who’s going to be “for or agin’ them.”

      As for the enablers’ MOs, my kids asked why some teachers side with the class bullies rather than the class scapegoats. I explained that it’s the universal instinct of the gutless wonders among us to grovel for amnesty by going into a kind of boxer’s hug with the most dangerous monkey in the room. These enablers will give power to bullies simply by virtue of the bullies being bullies no matter how loserish or powerless the bullies actually are. It’s irrational reenactment of how they were raised and what they experienced growing up– that bullies win and victims lose and it’s not safe to side with victims.

      Sadly it’s quite common. Sometimes it’s hard to tell who will react this way until they’re triggered by witnessing abuse of some sort, then their “Manchurian candidate” childhood enabler-training kicks in. If you were to somehow poll them about their childhoods, you would find some pretty dark things. That’s not to make excuses because, conversely, many survivors of childhood trauma are all the more passionate about doing the right thing.

      Anyway, I think it’s rather fun to disabuse chronic enablers of their false notions by demonstrating that things can work out quite differently in RL: often abusers collapse like flans and victims prevail. Oops.

      • Nice explanation. I hadn’t thought about it, but it does make sense that the ‘gutless wonders’ side with the bullies because they see them as more powerful and the victims insignificant. I never had the opportunity to side with either a bully or a victim. I was insignificant from the beginning since I came (literally) from the other side of the tracks. Now I look back as an adult and am glad that I was insignificant, that no one cared to befriend me. I hate to think what my choice would have been had I been put in a position to choose sides. I could have been a ‘gutless wonder’ too. I will say that I most definitely am not now.

      • “”If you think back, you might remember subtle ways that he chased away people who may have been more likely to align with you. I remember being given this treatment by friends’ partners who later turned out to be abusive. Abusers definitely have radars for who’s going to be “for or agin’ them.”””
        Hell of a Chump, this is so true! I definitely remember noticing this behavior in a controlling covert narcissist ex-boyfriend. Now I know it is a red flag, but at the time, I just spackled.

      • What I find sad in my case currently is how the children—especially adult children—seem like they have become enablers because they love their cheating parent. In my case it is also because husband has money, including family money. Even one son who is furious with his father is enticed by the cool stuff—money and opportunities.

      • “it’s the universal instinct of the gutless wonders among us to grovel for amnesty by going into a kind of boxer’s hug with the most dangerous monkey in the room.”
        Well said. I think the gutless wonders starting groveling as kids and never mature out of being a nothing but a flying monkey. They think better to side with the bully and help them target others rather than be the target. We see it a lot right now. While I certainly did some cringe worthy stuff as a young kid I was blessed with parents that never bullied or submitted to bullies. My parents never cared whether anyone liked them or not…which actually made them rather popular. To this day I detest bullying of any kind and it has not always made me popular by bucking the bully. However, I would urge anyone that has never done so or one that always tried to keep the peace, to go up against or call out the next bully as an exercise. I swear it is cathartic.

    • My ex had a really similar strategy except that he said almost nothing in the process. He just went straight from our house and life to his mistress’s house and life (including her 2 littles) without saying much of anything to anyone. It was super creepy. It was almost like he expected everyone to pretend that I had just gotten plastic surgery and now looked like a different woman, but nothing else had changed: within a week of DDay, he was co-hosting house parties with the mistress, attending family picnics at my workplace with her (she was a ho-worker of mine), taking her as his +1 to parties we had RSVP’d for together, to resorts we had planned to go to, on bike rides we had signed up for together…. He literally just recast my role, like Becky in the original Roseanne, and went on with his life like nothing had changed. Leaving me to clean up the mess, of course.

      He did sidebar a couple of friends. He told me on DDay he had calculated he would lose about 90% of his friends, and he didn’t care. With the remaining 10% he cared about keeping, he went on the charm offensive immediately, like yours did, and told the same story your ex told: we had drifted apart, there had been problems for years, he was so much happier with this woman he serendipitously met 1 second after he moved out (she’s now the wifetress, of course–she couldn’t completely replace me if she weren’t). That was all par for the course: classic narcissistic image-management. But what really surprised me and creeped me out was the silence and the pretense. It was like he thought he could gaslight the whole world (and with his family and close friends, at least, he pretty much did).

      And never underestimate the power of silence to make things seem worse than they were: by refusing to say much about why he left me, he made it appear that I had just been too horrible for words, and he was being a gentleman by not going into it and preserving my reputation. It still boils my blood 2 years post DDay even though most days I’m well on the Road to Mehville. But then, he used to pull the same trick while we were married: be nasty to me over and over until I finally snapped at him to stop, and then he would take a step back and widen his eyes and put up his hands and say in this really faux-calm tone, “Whoa. Who’s the one shouting right now?” It used to make me want to snap his neck.

      The only consolation I have is now the wifetress gets to be on the receiving end of that passive-aggressive bullshit. Hey, she wanted to be me, right? Be careful what you wish for, girlfriend.

      • That’s exactly what I think is going on with the skank/wifetress. All the crap that I put up with for 30 years is what she is now going through. People don’t change and if I was to make a guess, he’s worse to her. At least I wasn’t out screwing other men while married like she was. He felt entitled, but I’m sure he feels differently about her especially now that he’s married to her. Oh… to be a fly on that wall. I’m sure I’d be chuckling over and over. She won the turd!

        • I am betting she is getting the third degree pretty much every time she step out. And he is likely getting it from her.

        • I think most chumps, initially, are under the impression their cheater has changed and become Mr./Mrs. Wonderful when they leave with the AP. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only do they stay the same, they eventually get worse. Plus, once the thrill or newness wears off they have little respect for the AP and will start to blame them for anything that goes wrong in their life.

      • You know what else is creepy? How similar these creeps are. Okupin, many of your comments today describe experiences and understandings that are eerily close to my own. Looking back at the above “trick,” with which I am all too familiar, I now understand that the only way to escape it was to leave the relationship entirely. So, every single option before me meant pain and loss. It was so abusive.

        When I swallowed my ex’s BS, I felt terrible; I felt guilty and frustrated and weak, I never got what I needed or felt listened to, and I knew I was enabling unhealthy dynamics and expectations. Usually, I couldn’t get away with pretending, checking out/resigning or conceding; my ex would keep pushing and poking me anyway, because his goal, for whatever reason, was to provoke a reaction. If I disengaged and quietly walked out of the room, he’d say I was furious and stomping away. He’d say whatever he wanted, and that was that. He’d usually follow me out when I tried to get space to breathe and calm myself. If I responded at all, I was “accusing him” of something. If I used a strong and clear – never mind angry – tone, I needed to “Calm down!” (Often shouted.) It didn’t matter how calm, logical or empathetic I was, he owned the truth. He controlled the narrative and there was no communicating, no connecting, no problem solving or helping each other. He was a huge bully, and I had to accept his version of reality or he would rage or withhold affection. It was worse when he had more control over finances and housing. For him, there were no consequences except for losing me, and he didn’t seem to care about that even though he claimed to. Meanwhile, I wanted to matter, I was scared to go and I didn’t want to throw away my life and my relationship. I’d put so much in, and leaving meant losing it all.

        My ex once did something very terrible, left me home alone to deal with it, and then called me while in the car with his friend to “apologize” and console me (gaslight and minimize). He talked to me in his calm, patronizing tone for his friend’s benefit. The guy had no actual idea about what had transpired, of course. Later, FW told me that his friend couldn’t believe he was able to respond to me so calmly while I was so upset and unreasonable. I am really glad this is no longer my reality.

        • bread And roses, I just want to say I know this pain. I am so sorry you had to endure it. It is crazy mind bending gaslighting. Keep your head up.

          • Yes, all exactly the same here, down to almost every detail. It is wonderful to be free. Two years out (yesterday) I am so much calmer and happier. I don’t recognise myself. This is who I was pre ex. It’s a revelation. I like me!

      • “And never underestimate the power of silence to make things seem worse than they were: by refusing to say much about why he left me, he made it appear that I had just been too horrible for words, and he was being a gentleman by not going into it and preserving my reputation.”

        Wow…spot on! I never thought of it this way but it makes so much sense!!! My ex refused to tell me much about why he left…except “I” was unhappy and “I” didn’t love him. Funny, then, that I stayed with him for 30 years through thick and thin. The message to friends and family was “this (divorce) has been coming for a long time.” Again, it was complete news to me!!! He never told me, or acted like, he was unhappy!

        Four years out and I still can’t get over the gaslighting…the lies…the betrayal…that ended 30 years together.

        Let’s see, in 30 years of his new marriage, he’ll be 82 and his new howorker/wifetress, will be 61. I think she’s only in it for the “long game”. She’ll inherit his money when he passes and retire early. Meanwhile, I’ll be working into my 70’s. My 30-year sacrifice will not pay dividends.

        Sorry, four years out and still suffering financially. It’s something I can’t let go of…my ex and I would both be better off still together…but, you know…tinglies in his pants and twu luv and all…

  • I didn’t read it as this guys wife was into an open marriage. I read it as her coworker friend (lesbian) was into her own open marriage and set them with a threesome in the woods.

    • I read it this way too – but I don’t think it’s possible to actually tell from the letter

    • Same here. But it just goes to show how head-spinning this shit is. Cheaters want triangulation and drama — have at it!

      • It really is hard to keep track of the players. Way too much work.

        I think of how much my ex hid and I think how on earth did he keep all that shit straight.

        I mean reality is he was having sex with me and her for most of that time. He had to be lying to her. I mean I am sure he didn’t go into work and say hey whore I had sex with my wife on the boat yesterday, right where you and I had sex last time on the boat. I had to tell her I love her, you know, otherwise she will get suspicious.

        At least I had the excuse of being married to him, so assuming he was only with me was a reasonable assumption. She had to know he was lying to her.

    • Yes my wife and her best friend had occasional sex with each other and the friend could sit on any cock she wanted (and she needed a lot of male attention). Ironically she pulled the same move with her first husband and coached my ex with her cheating playbook. I knew they were all bad news and all lied to me about the the affair.

    • Yes I think if the wife was open and accepting of the situation she may have been involved and the location may have been more salubrious than a tarp in the woods. Sadly hilarious that cheater thinks that fucking on the cold hard ground and peeing behind a tree is the scene for a star crossed intersection of two soulmates for the ages.

  • Christian,

    I had been sober and in recovery for 31 years when my DDay hit. This has kicked my ass emotionally and I consider it a direct threat to my sobriety. Many people seek pain relief in substances. It doesn’t work; it makes it worse. Please make sure your sobriety comes first…the daily footwork of recovery, one day at a time, is the necessary foundation of being the sane and stable parent your children need.

    Your wife sounds to me like she has a problem too….this makes your recovery doubly important. Be sure to reach out and connect with local sober dads. There are some here on this site too. I have found my pit crew of women in recovery absolutely essential to my healing.

    One moment at a time
    Do the next right thing

    There are 24/7 Zoom meetings online….jump on and listen whenever you can. They are a lifesaver. Google “flying sober 24/7” for the links.

    Keep coming back!

  • Christian, I feel for you. Listen to chumplady and her wise words. Two years ago today the ex told me he was leaving me. I found out about the affair, consistently denied in spite of email evidence, 2 months later. My faults were legion, of course, when compared to the outstanding talents (especially in limerick writing, apparently) of the ex girlfriend from school. Ex is 55, ex gf 54. I’m 61. No kids and 26 years together. The marriage was ‘joyless’ although I hadn’t been given that memo.

    One fault was ‘being puritanical’ because, largely, I didn’t drink gallons of alcohol most days, unlike the ex. What your story tells me, and as I’m having a trying day, is that thank goodness I am puritanical. I can sleep soundly at night with an easy conscience. To be a person of no character at all, like these smug, pompous, know it all, creatures, is so unattractive.

  • I’ve discovered, that in life, people are often avoidant of conflict so will just believe whatever’s easiest and most fun. So believing in her effervescent bid for free love was way more fun than hearing about your betrayal. Boo, sad story. Glad you can find out who your true friends are. Carry on being strong. As someone who tends to handle more than her share of burdens, I hope you also have time to rest too. And I’m happy for you (and all those on here) who have freed themselves from their FWs.

    • Good point about how often people are conflict avoidant.

      Additionally, I think a lot of people who slurp up false narratives do so because they have their own secrets, and they treat cheaters the way they would like to be treated if their infidelity were to be discovered. They would like everyone to ignore their cruel and unethical behavior or even celebrate it.

      • “I think a lot of people who slurp up false narratives do so because they have their own secrets, and they treat cheaters the way they would like to be treated if their infidelity were to be discovered.”

        Thanks for this insight. You just opened my eyes to why one friend couple has reacted the way they have (Switzerland). The husband cheated. The wife didn’t leave. The husband remains friends with my ex; the wife tries to split the difference, and sees my ex in social settings but does things individually with me. I think if she cut my ex out, it would indicate to her spouse that his actions were inexcusable, and she can’t do that. (I mean, she could, but she can’t without consequences to their already unequal marriage of too little reciprocity and her continuing pick-me dance on so many levels.)

        • I have a former sister-in-law that I thought was a really good friend. In fact, whenever she interacts with my son, she always asks about me. I assume because she still cares for me and knows that I was done wrong. However, she is married to FW’s brother (who is actually a bigger dick than FW). I have no idea if he has ever cheated on her, but I wouldn’t put it past him in the least. I can only assume that she has to stay away from me because her husband would make her life miserable were he to find out that she and I were communicating. It hurt to lose people that I came to love, but it’s their choice. It helps me to think that they lost a wonderful person in their life (me) when they decided to stand by the FW and his skank. They know how shallow those people are, but they’re still family and they still get together for family events. That’s life, as sucky as it is.

          • Just as some “friends” are shockingly not opposed to continue relationships with cheaters, I’ve been surprised by several not very close contacts – appear randomly in my life-who were all in supportive of me and apppalled by Mr X – all with experience being cheated on. Sooo refreshing- and easy to see they had experienced a similar circumstance. Sorry you had to join the club.

            • I’ve found the same. My favorite ever Friday Challenge was “Help in Unexpected Places.” I spent the entire Friday and weekend thinking about all of the people – family, friends and strangers – who came out of the woodwork to show support, lend an ear or simply offer a few kind words. The good eggs might actually outweigh the duds.

  • “It turns out that she had met a man, a co-worker, for “beers” out in the woods in the middle of October. A fellow co-worker (a female who my wife was also intimately involved with), who has an open marriage and is a slut, had set up a threeway for the three of them. They talked for hours and made out. They got Covid and spread it to me and our children. They spent every night talking on the phone for hours and meeting whenever they had a chance. He was married too but his wife found out about the affair. He ultimately decided to leave his wife of 23 years and his two children for my ex wife.”

    Wait, I think there may be some confusion in the response. There are a lot of players here so hard to keep track, but I read it this way. Pinecone guys ex-wife is another chump. He didn’t have an agreed to open marriage. The slut coworker was another third party who did, maybe, have an open marriage (wonder if her husband knows). She is the one who also fucked Christian’s wife and set up the threesome. There are at least two chumps in this story so let’s not pile on Pinecone’s ex as a co-conspirator.

    Otherwise the advice is good although I am concerned that the kids are living with “Pinecone” guy. Does that mean the ex got full custody? The one that gave her kids Covid and was off fucking in pine needle piles while Christian was cooking Christmas dinner for the kids? Does Christian not at least share custody? If so, that is the real tragedy here. I hope Christian is still fighting for custody. The kids need at least one sane parent in their lives on a regular basis. Ideally Christian would be the one with full custody but that is difficult to achieve these days.

    • Yes, that is how I read it as well. Two co-workers, male and female, both married to other partners, hooked up with Christian’s cheater wife.

      • Yep you nailed it! And the ex says that this gal helped her find her true self (gross I know.) I initially thought my ex was leaving me for her! Christian

    • Yes, why would pinecone dick’s wife not already know about — and suddenly “find out” about–the affair she was involved in and even initiated? I think three marriages and 2 or 3 chumps were involved in this mess.

    • Hi! No I have my children 50/50 and am a kick ass dad who had no secret agenda. I took the summer off (no big home projects or a summer job) to focus in them and myself. We had an amazing time- rafting; fishing, camping, a trip to Maine to see my family and they really benefitted from it. It was beautiful and magical despite all the pain. It was actually a pretty normal summer just without the FW.

      • I am glad to hear it. Still sucks that they get stuck with Pinecone guy half the time but at least they get you the rest of the time. Maine is beautiful. I was there myself this summer with my kids (and the summer I was going through my divorce as well). It is always good to know you can handle the family trips without the FW along being grumpy and making things miserable for everyone.

  • I didn’t see your response before I posted.

    Yeah, I read it as another woman was in an open marriage, not his wife.

    But, the message is good. These folks are low lifes. They know it, we know it.

    Some friends really do believe them, most are scared to death of the betrayed partner. If that partner can be betrayed, then they have to believe that they are at fault. If not, then what could that mean for them.

  • False narrative hurts. In my case, he ran far away and the only people who knew us both that heard his story were his relatives. With him completely out of the area, it was actually easier for me. I chose to share the details only with a limited number of people and bravely pressed on. I made new friends. I did volunteer work. I saw my therapist and a life coach. I joined a twelve-step group and did a step study. Some mutual friends held me at arm’s length for quite a while, and some were nothing but supportive.

    Being a consumer of hopium, I thought that we might indeed reconcile, but a year into the long-distance separation, I had to end relationship discussions. His version of reconciliation made sense only to him.

    He kicked off the divorce in a very disordered way, and I ended up in an attorney’s office, asking if people ever called off the proceedings or remarried. He was kind and said “of course,” but noted that many people come out of the divorce knowing what their ex truly thought of them, and it isn’t good. Yes, that was my experience. The “quick and easy” my ex promised went into what my attorney called “memorable and unprecedented.” My ex burned every bridge on the way out. Both attorneys decided that I had to have been a saint to be married to him for so long and told me so.

    I lived my truth and got to the other side. It’s Tuesday at my house, but it took a lot of time, money, and work on my part to get there. Don’t give up and keep soldiering on.

  • There is a saying here in the South, “If that don’t beat all.” A tryst in the woods. A threesome. Lyme disease, fire ants, splinters. Possible bears and coyotes. Rabid raccoons? And Covid. It boggles the mind. It beats all.
    If only you had info that told, or showed, just what a horror she is, but she sounds like the kind who would sue if you let others know.
    I wish I knew where you live and her name. I don’t ever want to be in a doctor’s office, clinic or hospital where she works.

    Live your life and be glad she is someone else’s problem. Let the rest of it go. Whatever she tells, whomever she tells, is on her. You have children who need a decent parent.

    • This has been the hardest part for me — that it feels like they are getting away with murder while you’re left devastated by this person, who just gets to flit to the next shiny thing/host (let’s face it, they’re parasites). Focus on your kids and give them your best. Damn the ex spouse — they’re a mess, a parasite, all charm and no substance, etc. Your kids will know which parent is the sane and trustworthy one…all the superficial charm will fade for them eventually, just like it did for you.

    • My ex-daughter-in-law, the one that cheated 3 times on my son before he finally had enough, was a nurse and is now a nurse practitioner. I’m certain she’s good at what she does and is a good nurse on the job; however, her character plays out and she has already been fired from one job. Her character doesn’t prevent her from being a good nurse, it just keeps her from being happy. It also keeps her from having a good bedside manner. She will always be looking for her happiness in another person. As soon as she gets someone, she won’t be happy anymore. That’s actually revenge in a way. And I have a feeling that my ex-FW is also unhappy with his skank wifetress. But I’m happy and that’s what matters to me!

  • Trust me, the pain and turmoil will eventually pass and you will be ever grateful for a growing sense of freedom from the toxicity that enveloped your life for years.

    And with regard to her false narrative, please rest assured that eventually people will come to understand the truth about what actually happened. Just “stick to your knitting” by being the sane parent and taking care of your daily responsibilities. I often refer to the following quote that’s been attributed to a number of sources: “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is getting its boots on.”

    • I’m betting on Terry Pratchett as the source of that quote. His book are great, btw, well recommended.

      Christian, we’re cheering you on.

      • Seconding the recommendation of Terry Pratchett–his books helped me get my mind off of cheater and got me laughing at a time I didn’t think it was possible!

        • @Chumpkins & @Marathon Chump

          Terry Pratchett may well have used some variation of that quote. But it has roots that go back as far as 200 years. It’s been most widely attributed to both Mark Twain and Winston Churchill, though there’s scant evidence for either. Doesn’t matter really. It’s a bit of timeless and practical wisdom. Cheers!

  • Commit to being the sane parent and to the knowledge that this is a very long road with lots of obstacles. Sometimes your kids are going to appreciate your stability and honesty. Sometimes they won’t. Often you’ll feel one kid is doing great and the other one will be struggling in their relationship with you.

    It about killed me five years after the divorce when one of my kids wrote an essay about their personal hero and chose “Dad.” Dad didn’t show up for custody or support them or do anything that looked like parenting, yet Dad did a fan-fucking-tastic job of convincing that child of his martyrdom. Now, another five years later, that same kid hasn’t visited Dad in a year, volunteered to clean the gutters on the house this weekend, and probably has a different pantheon of heroes. The point here is that your EX will continue to manipulate your kids, but they will continue to grow and learn to make decisions for themselves. Being a great parent is a thousand choices over 6000 (or more) days. Just do the best you can with each of them.

    Treasure the time you have to yourself when they are with your EX, and treasure the time they are with you. Living a divided life is tough, but it occasionally has a silver lining (I did not freak out when a kid left for college as did so many of my friends–my kid had been “leaving” for intervals for a very long time!)

    It takes awhile but the fog of friendship will clear. Some people will continue to believe (or more often just accept the convenience of) her narrative, because friendship with your EX gives them something they want–the thrill of being adjacent to a scandal, etc. Some people will figure out your EX is a wretch and leave her life, but not come back into yours (guilt? fear? who knows?). Some people will quietly drift back into your orbit. One or two old friends may even apologize for how they treated you, but not many. BUT, other good people will show up. People who didn’t like your EX but were too polite to say so may now suggest a playdate with your kids and theirs (take them up on it). You will make new friends without the limits that were imposed by the time and taste of your EX.

    You are doing great and have made a lot of progress for one year. I hope you know what an excellent parent and human being you are.

  • I read it differently- not that the other female coworker who set up the 3 way was the marital partner of the man who is now living with the ex. I read it as- she set the three up as a 3-way, and she’s in a different open marriage, and the 3 way sex romp progressed into a 2 person relationship, she shared with Christian because she probably doesn’t really understand why people aren’t just being honest because she doesn’t have the same ideas about monogamy.

    Regardless. Christian- even if you were a shitty husband, she should have left you or worked with you. There’s nothing to work with. Be the sane parent. Be happy you have two beautiful kids. Join meetup and find new friends who share your values and don’t let others opinions of you change your actions. These other people aren’t your friends, you will rebuild with your new world. Being sobers a huge achievement, congratulations, I’m excited for you to get to Tuesday and realize how much lighter life can be without her shit.

  • Whatever the details are about the affair(s) your cheater had, it was not the marital agreement you made. People love to listen to sex filled drivel — perhaps it brings a tingle of excitement into a life filled with work and responsible behavior. Whatever. No one but the two people in a relationship knows what went on in the relationship, and sometimes one of them knows a lot less than the other. Children observe things that neither parent may want to acknowledge, and sometimes children misinterpret adult issues.

    My issue is children should not have to listen to age inappropriate details, or hear language they might not know the meaning of used in a negative way to describe their parent(s). This sets up the children with a pattern of dysfunction that can hurt them for a long time, in various and sundry ways, throughout their lives. Concentrate on what is best for your children. Are they safe? Fed? Clothed? Educated? Do they feel loved? I think there were times in my young children’s lives where they “loved” their day care providers in a similar way to how they loved me. We provided what they needed. Sometimes Disney Dad was more fun, but I rationalized that they needed fun, too. Pinecone man may not be a good role model, but he also probably won’t be around long. Unless he is abusing your children, just look at him as a temporary caregiver. I think children interpret all adults as caregivers, but prefer the methods of some over others.

    The shallow people who believed your spouse’s narrative were never really your friends, Think of them as unnecessary ballast you threw overboard to lighten your work load. Don’t worry about what your ex and her horny friends are doing, trashing you is work and there are new pinecones to find in the forest. Soon, the drama will pass.

    I believe if you concentrate on the behaviors which keep you and your kids healthy and happy, you will be very busy. You will heal as time passes, and you learn to live without the excess drama and stress. One day (Tuesday) you will realize you haven’t even thought about any of this trash talk, and you have even found out what simple things bring happiness.. Your children will thrive. Who cares what happens to your ex? Bad choices create misery — that is a consequence. You don’t have to contribute anything to the future of your ex. The choice is up to the ex. Choose what is best for you and your children. The consequences of every choice belong to the chooser.

    • Sage advice, Portia. I only just recently had a similar conversation/re-realization in my moving toward meh (not so much a straight line as progress + some mental/emotional looping) that it really boils down to what is best (or okayest, as we must unfortunately accept) for our children. The adult FWs with the child-like stunted emotional development? Feh.

  • My interpretation of Christian’s letter is that AP’s wife was an unknowing chump. Not the same person as the female coworker with the open marriage.
    Character disordered people tend to gravitate towards one another for the purposes of illicit sex.

  • Dear Christian,

    This story sure does ring a lot of bells for me. They all read the same book, don’t they? It feels so strange, almost unique to your situation at the time, but really, it’s the same story played over and over. They become distant. They’re staying late at work. They have all these complaints despite all the work you do. They want an open relationship. That’s not enough, then they leave. Then later you find out all their complaining was to cover up the fact they’ve been shagging someone else. This was all your fault, of course! Every. Damn. Time….

    Contemptible pricks.

    Some potential sources of consolation:

    1). Your STBXW, although maybe you still love her now, is not the person you thought she was. She’s a special brand of nothing, just like all the other cheating fuckwits on here. The narcissistic prick who got tangled up with someone else’s (i.e. your) wife (while HIS OWN WIFE stayed at home making fairy cakes and cleaning his dried-on shit off the toilet pan), he’s also a special brand of nothing. This relationship will not last, it never does. These people are disordered and will never be happy with what they have. They are life’s dissatisfied customers who want constant titillation. Don’t give either of them any more of it. It may not come in the form you imagine, but their downfall is already set in stone.

    2). You cannot control the bullshit these people spout. Who the hell knows what these other people have been told. There are two sides to every story. So, if these supposed “friends” of yours have just bought her bullshit without examining it further they are either too much of a wet lettuce/moron to question your wife or they believe the worst of you too easily. They can fuck off too. Next! This doesn’t mean they won’t have their doubts about your STBXWs nonsense, but if they don’t explore them further by reaching out to you, you can’t do anything. Embrace the silence! Enjoy that peace while you’re being mindful.

    3). You WILL recover from this. The pain is temporary. All the chumps here know this to be true. I know it and I promise you it will happen eventually. You are stronger than this betrayal and it does not define you. Nobody is perfect, but one thing YOU ARE NOT is a cheater. You never have to carry the burden of knowing that about yourself. Your pain, although heavy now, will slowly turn to glass and no longer cast a shadow on your life. This will probably take years. You will still carry the weight, but you will get strong enough to do that by yourself. That day is coming. I believe it is known as “Tuesday” in CN.

    It’s so sad to hear all of the upheaval and pain caused by fuckwits. Every time they destroy lives and leaves people in misery. I hope you can find some consolation in the words of chump nation. I always said to myself that I wanted to look back on how I handled this terrible period and be proud. It’s been a guiding philosophy. The means no revenge (you can fantasise), no trying to change the narrative and as little contact as possible. I hope you can manage it. Try and embody “quiet dignity” instead of “let’s hump in the woods, give our families a disease and then blame other people for the loss of my marriage”. You can be proud of the former. The latter, not so much.

  • Losing your friends is horrible. Almost as bad as the cheating. My XW contacted everyone of my friends except one to tell them how horrible a husband I was and to justify her cheating. I have made some new friends.

    Parenting with your ex is a gift that won’t stop giving. I have less then two years to go. Be the sane parent for your kids.

    Proud of all that you have done for your kids. Keep it up!

  • Wow, she sounds like a real loser. I’m sorry this happened to you, but honestly you’ll be so much better off without this idiot.

    As for coparenting with a fuckwit — forget it. Not possible. You’ll parallel parent and when the kids are over at the forest creature’s place you won’t have any say except if she puts them in harms way. Communicate by email only in case you need it for your lawyer or any future changes to custody etc. Forget them being “reasonable” for the sake of the kids. They won’t be. Don’t be afraid to use a good lawyer if she even attempts to not abide by the custody arrangement and visitation or changes to financial issues related to the divorce.

    I went through 8 years of this with my ex cheater who enjoyed fucking vulnerable women with borderline personality disorder. He threatened to take my child, threatened to cut me off financially and accused me of abuse. All of it was documented and all of it was given to my lawyer. I endured it by staying sane, taking it one dat at a time, holding down my job, creating a safe and predicable home, going on vacations as I could afford with my child and always, always having a good lawyer on standby if the ex stepped out of line.

    And anyone who believes the cheater’s narrative of who you are isn’t your friend. It sucks but you come to realize these folks were never in your corner and in my experience, they turn out to have their own deep issues in relationships and life. Take that energy and find good friends who have your back and who enjoy your company. The best revenge is having a good life without them. I truly believe that time reveals truth and your ex and her forrest friends are no exception. You can do this. I wish you the best.

  • Just for spiteful mind-fuck funnsies, let it be known you plan on DNA tests for the holidays (Ancestry or 23andMe).

    If she goes nuts, that tells you something too.

    She’s a particularly nasty bitch.

    • I think this is a perfectly reasonable thing to question, given the circumstances.

      The purely coincidental bonus of mindfuckery makes it all the sweeter!

    • Please DON’T use these commercial DNA services like Ancestry or 23andMe. These are open source genealogy databases. Your information is now public record, fully accessed by any stranger on the internet, including the government and law enforcement.

      If you need to paternity test your kids, go through a medical clinic. Your child’s information will be protected by HIPAA and can actually be submitted as evidence in a legal battle. (Confirm with a lawyer, but even 23andMe’s website admits their tests can’t be used in court.)

      • Not saying he will use them – but simply bringing it up & noting her reaction will let him know if he may want to get real paternity testing done.

  • I live in a small town too. I have seen it time and again, both personally when my marriage imploded, and with other couples in this town where there was bad behavior and the perpetrator mouths off about the innocent other for image management. It is frustrating, infuriating and just plain disappointing that so many people in such communities let it ride. They don’t want to cause trouble. We all practice not looking over the fence (even when we are staring hard). Take people’s word for things. We all gotta work/live together.

    But I got to say, as the years go by, I see that most in my community may not say anything out loud, but they saw what was going on. The perpetrators may try to control the narrative, but we all know what really happened. The only people who don’t think their shit don’t stink are the ones trying to cover it up, the enablers, the unicorn chasers, and the ones who have/are/or want to engage in the same shitty behavior.

    We all know the couple who has an “open marriage” – Euuww.
    The guy who is the player and constantly rotating from one younger woman to the next.
    The serial cheater constantly trying to get into some one else’s pants.
    The woman who trolls the bars for pickups.

    It’s how small towns work unfortunately. But don’t believe for a second that their chosen narrative is the one that most people believe. We just nod and go about our day ’cause it doesn’t pay to call these folks out in most cases.

    • ” The only people who don’t think their shit don’t stink are the ones trying to cover it up, the enablers, the unicorn chasers, and the ones who have/are/or want to engage in the same shitty behavior.”

      Yep, they think because they can’t smell their own shit, that no one else can. Most folks will see through it at some point.

      Some are just scared, they have to believe it is the betrayed fault, because if the betrayed can be cheated on while being a good spouse, well then…

  • i’m sorry.

    it’s tough to lose friends + family. i mean, you lose a partner you thought was your friend, too, but the friends + family loss really drives it home that you’re on your own, rebuilding. it fundamentally lonely to go through being chumped, it really is.

    you have so much to deal with and have to keep it close, for the kids sake, and then there are close friends who are available to you after kids go to bed. in the meantime, you wait all damned day to talk to someone about your stresses.

    as for the wood nymph scenario, that’s just cinematic fantasy. the angles were all wrong. it takes Guillermo del Toro to successfully capture outdoor magic. you know that in reality the leaves and dirt were damned uncomfortable, caught in folds and crevices, and someone was freezing cold and couldn’t get it up. but it was an escape from everyday life.

    to me, it’s sad and a little tragic.

    PS but the loneliness is why CN is exists and is active and compassionate

    • Right? It’s all part of the fantasy-scape, and “Oh, we are so free, so unconventional, so willing to seize the moment, so Esther Perel-y.” But the reality is gnats, poison ivy, curious boy scouts and lying in the dirt like mafia-murdered corpses.

  • Christian–as one who was also totally to blame for my FW’s behavior, I get you.
    My thoughts:

    1. Gray rock is my sanity saving. Just yesterday, at pickup, I got the “You’re not my LOS anymore.” The internal litany of “What was the first clue, dumbass?” began…and then abruptly stopped. He’s right. I’m not the doormat-stay at all costs-keep him happy-eggshell walking-pick me dancing-dumb bitter bunny any more. I grew a backbone and threw out the wishbone. I let this little situation play itself out (nano-seconds, really) and then said “oh, ok.” and gray rocked it out of the schoolyard.

    This level of meh, it just takes time, intention not to return to prior status (see above) and a lot of THAT IS NO LONGER ACCEPTABLE TO ME.

    This will happen. Feel the feels and sip the coffee as the tears stream down your face. At some point, you will feel a shift and the new path becomes alive. May I also highly recommend a good therapist, EMDR and Family Wizard program? Save my life on the daily.

    2. As for the “friends”–make new ones. Or don’t. The narrative drive that puts you in the bad light is just that, a narrative drive. I was the cold, uncaring, frigid bitch who wouldn’t get drunk or/and leave my kids to fend for themselves and was not interested in a girlfriend (experience or otherwise). That is what “drove” him to cheat. Is his hyperbole based in reality? Nope.

    My characteristics were Loyalty. Fidelity. Compassion. Co-Dependence after decades of gaslighting, projection and abuse. Guess which ones I kept in my post-FW life? All of them–but now I KNOW when #4 is being pulled and I CHOOSE to not take the bait. Seeing #4 for what it the toxicity that it is no longer my lesson, but it is still part of my journey. I had 4 long years of RIC and PMD and His Awesomeness (and at least 3 A) to work through before I said enough. He lied from the beginning of our decades long marriage and his narrative is being undone each day as I remain calm, centered, grounded, and FW free. So, too, will yours.

    3. In the meantime, know you are loved and valued. Full stop. You.Are.Loved.and.Valued.

  • Christian,

    I’m so sorry. Your ex-wife is an asshole. So are all her conspirators.

    All I can tell you is you’re doing the right things. Stay the course. Keep contact limited and professional. Be the sane person.

    And DO NOT, under any circumstances, try to salvage any of these bullshit friendships. Trust me. Doing so will just prolong the abuse.

    I was in an on-again off-again abusive relationship in college that lasted well into my 20s. All told, I had the abuser in my life for almost a decade. It was a living hell I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemy. The reason I stayed so long was I had so many mutual friends (who saw the abuse but never defended me) constantly supporting him and giving me excuses. It wore down my self-esteem and made me question my own judgment. When I left my ex for good, all these mutual “friends” chose him even when he started stalking me.

    My point is, I could’ve saved myself YEARS of more abuse and insanity if I’d just cut everybody off immediately. Disloyal friends who side with the abuser are, by definition, garbage people. There’s no benefit to keeping them around and they’ll even ruin your life if you let them stay.

    It’s sad these people suck, but at least you know who your friends aren’t (and aren’t). You will feel so much better without them, trust me. Think of it as an investment in your happier future, and that of your children.

  • I read CL nearly every day and always try and catch up at the end of the week if I can’t .

    You know what AMAZES me every single day

    Do you know how hard it is to date ? Let alone find someone you love and want to spend either the rest of your life with or a substantial part of your life with ?
    It’s hard really , really hard and most people don’t find that love again ( some do I know but a lot don’t)

    Cheaters no problem at all !! Just go to their work or the gym or any random place and boom there you go the one for you just like that .

    Let’s buy a house ! Let’s get married , let’s have children !!

    Just throw marriages and children and years of life with someone away just for a fuck in a random place .

    Chumps are left sharing children with someone they don’t even know ( the AP) it must be like handing over your child to a thief that stole from your house

    It blows my mind every day and I’ve been a chump for over 2.5 years now

    • Cheaters have no standards. Any of us could partner up tomorrow too if all we needed was a warm body.

      It’s why cheaters partner up so fast, and why they didn’t appreciate a good partner when they had one.

      (If you can’t tell the difference between Hershey’s chocolate and gourmet macarons from Paris, or you don’t care, you certainly won’t appreciate the latter.)

      • Yes, no standards at all. Or understanding of what it means to truly be partnered with or love someone. When I get rage-y, I just think about how it must suck to live one’s life like that — constantly sinking ships and leaping from one thing to the next. Yeah, this works until it doesn’t. Life will catch up with them eventually. But you know what — who cares if it does, when it does, etc.? They have to lie to live with themselves. It’s sad, delusional, awful, and exhausting. You are always better off free from that mindfuckery, no matter how much you find yourself needing to rebuild. They are stuck being them.

        • Yes. You are always better off free from the mindfuckery. At first I was so, so lonely (after having a husband for 30 years). After divorce I could only see myself as this sad, pathetic, pudgy and wrinkly old woman. It took a lot of time to see myself differently. And when I did, I told myself, “I’d rather be single the rest of my life than to ever have a fuckwit in it again!” And I still feel that way. I’m happy. I have the people that I like in my life and nobody who cheats and lies is in my circle of friends. I have fun and I know I’m loved.

        • I want to emphasize everything you just wrote, because it’s 100% true. This reality can be hard to accept for new chumps, who still feel the urge to blame themselves and think they somehow “missed out on a real one.”

          Cheaters are shitty people and they don’t change. They usually go on to make worse mistakes down the road and fuck up other people’s lives. If you escaped with minimal damage, count your lucky stars.

          I’ve dealt with multiple cheaters (I clearly needed therapy), and it took me years to TRULY understand I was dealing with abusers, and that as bad as each of my experiences was, it would have gotten a million times worse if I’d stayed.

          Inevitably, every single one of my exes went on to do much worse things long after I left. Years later, they’re still miserable, still broke, still disrespecting their new wives and girlfriends.

          I had to change my perspective that I’d somehow caused the abuse and instead celebrate that I’d escaped a tornado.

      • FWs are afraid of being alone because they don’t like themselves.

        We are better being alone than with them. Is it fair that they get to sleep next to a warm someone every night and we don’t? No. But they are not the warm body we need. Their cold heart isn’t worth it.

        • See, I don’t even think about “sleeping next to a warm someone every night while I don’t” in terms of what’s fair or not. That means nothing to me.

          Either the new someone is an affair partner and therefore just as shitty as the cheater, or the new someone is their next unknowing victim. There’s literally nothing there I envy.

          Whether the cheater acknowledges this is pointless. The cheater has no standards anyway and won’t admit their life sucks or their “relationship” is built on lies and abuse, so I don’t care what their opinion on the matter is. Everything about the cheater is worthless.

          I’ve been afraid of loneliness too. But I’ve been in enough bad relationships to know there’s nothing worse than the loneliness you feel with a bad partner, and that appearances can be deceiving.

          I love myself and love being single these days. I don’t lose sleep over fake people’s fake relationships. We have different standards and operate in different realities. We’re not playing by the same rules or even the same ballpark.

    • It is easy to hook up when you will take anything, when your “standards” consist of 1) willing, and 2) has pulse. (And in a pinch, any one of the two.)

      You could date 3 times a day by lunchtime if those were your standards. They are just racoons in a trash can: everything is delicious.

    • 90% of the people I know are married. I don’t date married women. This already – independently of everything else – makes it 10x harder for me to find someone than for my XW, who “successfully” poached someone else’s mate. (AP’s XW, by the way, is a tenured professor, international expert in organized crime, pulled-herself-up-by-her-own-bootstraps 1st generation immigrant, awesome mother – and now a very close friend. I’ve never met her IRL but I gather she’s pretty hot as well.)

  • So the comment about leaving a “loveless marriage” parallels the narrative my stbxh is saying. He claims our marriage was long over and that we had drifted apart. That came as a shock to me because we were still being intimate and I was under the impression we were happily in love.

    He’s parading his 24 year old mistress around town at all the places we would go, even the restaurant where we had our anniversary dinner just a couple weeks before.

    Anywho, mid-size town, word gets back to you. He’s telling mutual friends he’s the happiest he’s been in years. That one stings.

    I guess it’s two steps forward, three steps back.

    • He’s also a classic Peter Pan. I grew up, and he’s stuck in the early-20’s mindset. I guess he’s happy because he’s out at the bars Every. Single. Night.

      • Every narcissistic cheater that spouts off “I’ve never been so happy” or some horseshit along that line when bragging about the AP, has ended up with a swift kick in the teeth. Instead of keeping their heads down and stupid mouths shut the idiots broadcast the new relationship. So I don’t know if it’s Karma or so many people really wishing to see them fail, the relationship ends and usually with quite the entertaining scene (arrests, free for alls in public, etc.).

        • It’s the childish “I win, you lose!” proclamation. What is hilarious is that they don’t realize the only person they’re fooling is themselves. Example: My boyfriend’s cheater ex wife lives in her exit AP’s house. She contributes very little if anything financially and would likely not be able to support herself if she didn’t fall twat-first into this guy’s home. Yet she antagonizes my boyfriend about being in an apartment, making “false promises” (i.e. discussing aspirations) with their daughter about getting a house, etc. They. Don’t. See. It. Like it was mentioned above, just because they can’t smell how much their shit stinks doesn’t mean that it doesn’t…as we very well know!

        • I’m only a few weeks out and nowhere close to meh. So watching that karma bus hit them would be quite entertaining. I’d pull out a lawn chair and some popcorn.

          But in all seriousness, it’s very hurtful that after 14 years together, I’ve been just discarded like last week’s garbage. And he’s flaunting her out and about and saying he’s so happy.

          • You’ll reach Meh. We assure you. It hurts like hell right now, but someday you will know, without a doubt, that he did you the biggest favor. In the meantime, get to know who you are, the boundaries that you allowed the fuckwit to cross, and what you will never put up with again. This time is finite and so is your pain.

        • I’m only a few weeks out and nowhere close to meh. So watching that karma bus hit them would be quite entertaining. I’d pull out a lawn chair and some popcorn.

          But in all seriousness, it’s very hurtful that after 14 years together, I’ve been just discarded like last week’s garbage. And he’s flaunting her out and about and saying he’s so happy.

          • Anyone that behaves in that manner is not long term material. Your stbx is cruel and obnoxious. The more he spouts off the more people will be turned off by him…well those with a half a brain and sense of decency. He’ll make you look good by engaging in his actions. Go no contact and get a lawyer. I promise you will get over this and in the near future he will do nothing but repulse you. You’ve been dealt a serious blow but when all is said and done, you’ll be the winner.

          • Chumperoni, I was in your shoes (15 year relationship) not long ago. A lot of what you’ve written above about yourself, your ex and the situation, I can relate to. Small comfort, but I can share that while the unfairness and frustration is taking more time to come to terms with, and figuring out how to start over and manage all of the losses and future uncertainty is an ongoing struggle, I no longer feel hurt or saddened by the fuckwit. He’s just such a lowlife scum that, no matter how he presents himself to the world, I’m over him. I’ve accepted this and he leaves me cold. And repulsed. He can’t hurt me. He’s not the center of my life anymore. Bad memories still come up, and they suck, but I don’t think, “How could he have done this to me?” and collapse. I don’t know how to explain it other than they’re less frequent and less upsetting. I no longer wish my ex would understand and just make it all better. I definitely don’t care about or compare myself to the OW(s) – also young and lacking substance and integrity. I don’t expect or need closure or amends, and I genuinely want nothing to do with him ever again. The thought of my future without him was a raw, gaping hole even a year ago – even when I’d accepted that’s what I needed. Now, the thought of a life with him turns my stomach.

            Keep coming here, and cut contact ASAP (so fucking hard but I wish I could have figured out how to cut ties sooner – it’s the only way I could begin to heal or do anything right). Once do that, I suspect you’ll be amazed at how quickly you’re able to trust he sucks and you’ll also be able to settle your nervous system – impossible to achieve when your mind is in a blender (read the archives). It’s really scary and disorienting to feel so unlike yourself, while simultaneously, your life is falling apart and your reality turns out to be not what you thought. It takes time to come down from this – excruciating and almost unbearable – but trust you will. The PTSD symptoms and the pain of the breaking attachment will subside, but unfortunately, there’s no way through but through. We’ve all been there. Read here and you’ll see this is a normal response to trauma and abuse – which is what you’re experiencing. Nothing is wrong with you, and your ex is a manipulative POS. You aren’t crazy, he is. Everything you believe and wrote above will make its way to your heart soon. You obviously see through the BS. Even if no one in your life gets it, you can find validation, advice, listening ears, comraderie and even laughs here.

            Sorry to ramble! I just remember being where you are and wish I could help give you a glimmer of hope or relief. Patience, peace and healing. Be kind to yourself.

          • P.S.

            “And he’s flaunting her out and about and saying he’s so happy.”

            That shit is so fake and so predictable and so infuriating. It’s not, “After everything, now this?” It’s, “After everything, of course this.” Just when you think they can’t sink any lower, they do. Which is why the sooner you cut contact and turn your head, the better. Your life is so much better than that.

            We hate them for you.

            • @bread&roses, thank you for the reply. And for the words of encouragement. I’ve gone no contact and actually had his divorce papers served to him inside the mistress’ gated apartment. (Which I thought was the chef’s kiss.) I live in an at fault state and he’s now trying to contest adultery because he said it would “hurt him professionally.” The dude is out drinking every night until the wee hours of the morning with his mistress. How’s that for professional. I’m sorry you went through a similar situation. This website has seriously saved my sanity over the last few weeks.

              • Such hypocrisy. Cheaters are above consequences? They are lying, abusive FWs, yet they are entitled to compassion, honesty, generosity and forgiveness? Nope.

                Glad you took control and shut him down. Love the chef’s kiss. You are much wiser and tougher than I was.

                Hang tight, and thanks for your kind words, too.

      • Cheaters seem to share the same immaturity and self-centeredness.

        I no longer trust immature adults for this reason. It’s not a minor thing, it’s a serious character flaw.

        I think most mature adults see through Peter Pans like your ex. A middle-aged man who trashes his ex-wife, parades around a mistress young enough to be his daughter, and still hangs around bars all day doesn’t make me think, “Wow, good for him.” I think he’s a loser who never grew up and that his ex-wife was too good for him.

        Healthy people know the work that marriage entails. If you’re an asshole who claims you were “so unhappy”, my first thought is, “And how did YOU try to fix it? What did YOU bring to the table for your ex?”

        Immature people want what’s easy, and it shows in everything else they do. They don’t fool many people with their “I’m so happy” act. They sound like whining teenagers looking for a fun time.

    • He is telling every one how happy he is, but he is a liar. He lied to you telling you he was happy, and acting the part of a happily married man. Just like mine did.

      Does anyone really think we stayed with them for years and supported and defended them, if they had been telling us we were through, and they weren’t happy? No, it is just easier for folks to accept the lies, it makes it more comfortable for them, and less afraid for themselves.

      Even when it all blows up in his face, and stat speaking, it will; he will simply create another lie.

    • See my reply to Fourleaf above…. My ex behaved very similarly, and it was crushing at first. Realizing 2 things helped me move past it; I don’t know if they will help you, but here they are:

      1. I realized that he had known his AP for *3 weeks* before he decided to throw away an 18-year marriage to be with her. When I realized that, I stopped comparing myself to her (I knew her previously from work) because *he* hadn’t even compared me with her. He literally knew nothing about her except that she did the same sport he did (they met at the climbing gym) and she was willing to help him destroy his marriage. So, that helped me realize his behavior had nothing to do with me or my worth as a wife and a person.

      2. The other side of that coin was a little harder to look at, but just as important: I had to acknowledge that just as my husband hadn’t known or cared about the character of the woman he left me for, neither had he truly known or loved me. As I mentioned in my comment above, for a narcissist like my ex, other people are just actors in the sitcom (or drama) of his life: two-dimensional, interchangeable, disposable. I realized that even though we had been together for 20 years, he had never really tried to get to know me. He never asked questions about me or my past or what I was thinking or feeling (unless it was about him); everything he knew about me, I told him in a futile attempt to build emotional intimacy between us. And generally speaking, he just used this information–either to hurt me, or to love-bomb me with gifts he knew I would like after he had been abusive. When I realized this, I had to face the hard fact that I had been projecting my love and devotion *for* him *onto* him. He wasn’t capable of bonding with me in that way. He had never seen me as a real, complex, rich person with my own needs and dreams–because none of that was useful to him. What was useful was that I cooked him dinner and fucked him and listened to him complain about work and belayed him while he was climbing. I was an appliance, not a life partner. After I did the hard work of accepting this reality, I was able to start to let go of our marriage, the horrible way he had ended it, and any jealousy I had for the wifetress. Because she’s just an appliance, too. And when she gets worn out, or a new, shinier model comes on the market, she’ll be replaced just like I was.

      The problem wasn’t with me, it was with him. And, barring a major miracle, he’ll take it with him into his next relationship and the next and the next for the rest of his miserable life. It’s miserable thinking about yourself all the time. It’s miserable never being able to trust or bond with the other people around you. It’s miserable being unable to enjoy your memories of the relationships you’ve utterly destroyed because you’ve either had to forget them or twist them into horrors to justify your behavior.

      My ex said to me as he was leaving me, “I’m tired of feeling alone even though I’m married.” Well, guess what, asshole? They say character is destiny, and this is your destiny: feeling alone no matter how many people you hang out with or fuck or bribe or use. Because when you’re the only person who’s real and who matters in your world, it’s a lonely fucking world.

      • This is very perceptive and well written, Okupin. I had those same realizations.

        Once you realize and accept the fundamental flaws and incongruities, you can set it all down.

    • If I heard your ex’s story, I would 100% think he was a cheating loon. And that was BEFORE I was a chump myself. Anybody with 2 marbles rattling around upstairs and a functioning soul will think the same.

      Cheaters are so wrapped up in themselves and lacking in self-awareness, it’s honestly embarrassing. Doubtless he thinks he’s making himself look good and doesn’t notice at least 90% of people are rolling their eyes at him and thinking you escaped an asshole.

      I hope this is a small comfort.

  • Sorry to say this but nursing occupation + going into woods to fuck = suspect using drugs dispensed but not administered to patients.

  • The biggest shit sandwich is the hell your ex put your kids through and the hell she will continue to put them through. Your best defense is to be a safe and sane and loving landing pad for them and remind them always that they’re wonderful and their moms problems have nothing to do with them.

    I’ve been “co parenting” with a fuckwit for years. It’s not awesome. My kid’s been in a lot of therapy. And she’s just now at an age to see the forest for the trees. She understands now which parent is there for her fully, and which parent is limited. So I guess my advice is be consistently there for your kids and pick your battles with your ex. It’s a ton of work, a ton of boundaries. I get thrilled at the thought that one day in the near future she’ll be a young woman and I’ll be rid of that dirtbag forever.

  • Christian, our stories are similar. Initially I feared people would believe FW’s cover story, in which I was crazy and he wasn’t a cheater… but I didn’t realize how many people have tasted this flavor of horseshit before. One of FW’s friends actually called me and told me she’d sized him up years ago, that he was a narc loser and that being married to me hurt his fragile narc ego. Trust that ethical, intelligent people will see through FW’s lies. And those who don’t, or won’t? That’s just the garbage “taking itself out.” It hurts to lose friends; it hurts worse to learn they weren’t really friends in the first place. But I promise that life will be better, if quieter, without them in it. A final thought: Some people who seem to be on FW’s side are grappling with whether to remain there. You might be surprised, as the months wear on, who switches loyalties. Ask me how I know…

  • Thank you everybody for your support. Finding this website has really been a blessing and helped me to navigate this time in my life. I’m super psyched be part of this community. On the ride to school this morning my kids six and four paraded me for asking her ex to change her name back to her maiden name.I should’ve expected that she would involve the kids in this matter between us and use them against me. It’s still sad. I feel it’s important in this town especially that she not carry my last name anymore because my name still mean something.

    • Yes, get used to triangulation. She’ll employ it under the heading of “the kids need to know the truth about their father.”

      Of course any hint of you making sure they know the truth about their mother will be met with rage and continual threats of legal action.

      I don’t have to tell you not to play that game with your kids. As big a shit sandwich as it is, the damages done by triangulation on both sides would be severe.

      Gray Rock. Learn it. Live it. Trust it.

    • I asked my lawyer if we could force her to change her name. Sadly no. I even offered her money to change it. She does not deserve to drag my good name through the muck. She claims she wants the same last name as my kids. Really? The kids you abandoned and left for me to get through college? Those kids? Dark. Fucking. Triad.

    • Yea, this is a one of may whiffs of her lack of boundaries. If at all possible, have it written into the custody agreement that each parent will refrain from discussing any and all matters directly pertaining to the matriculation of the divorce with the children unless it is practically impossible to do so. You can even try and find psychological studies that support this approach and attach them to the agreement. That won’t stop her from running her mouth, but at least you can document all the times she violates this part of the agreement in case you need to use them later on.

  • I have yet to read the other comments but I first have to thank CL for the “Lord of the Pinecones” moniker she gave to the AP dude. Also, I always wondered about forest sex, ever since Bob Seger Night Moves “Out past the cornfields where the woods got heavy…” it always sounds itchy.

    I’m hoping you have at least shared custody of your kids. I know courts expect that. I’m sorry your kids are so young and that you have to coparent with that.

    Friends that believe her narrative are not your friends. It sucks that her betrayal has shortened your friends list, but were they more “social acquaintances”? You deserve real friends.

  • I dont have time to read the comments today and maybe someone else has mentioned this. Your exhole endangered your children exposing them to covid. As a nurse she ought to be even more protective of them. You might want to ask your lawyer whether this has any weight when it comes to shared custody arrangements. Her judgement is askew. She should not be in the position of making life and death decisions for them. ? I am so sorry you had to go through this horrible experience.

  • I used to sneak out for sex and refer in the woods with an ex. Of course, we were 16 and 18 and lived with out parents, so it was either that or his car. Very impressive for full grown adults to think this is something admirable. Dumasses.

  • Ahhh character assassination. They love it don’t they? Mine tells others that I abused him and refused to change. As in I refused to be married to a FW serial cheater. He even made up stories about my family claiming my childhood made me hate men. In the end you know who you are and that’s all that matters

  • Ho hum, cheaters are really all the same aren’t they? They really are so fucking boring what with their character assassinations, their gaslighting, their DARVO, their foisting open marriages on us after they’ve already been cheating, their claims of loveless, sexless marriages, their narrative re-writes, their lies, their weird woodland hook ups, their weekend fuckfests. I keep coming back to the same conclusion- it would be so much easier to be a decent person. To be loyal, invest time to develop your marriage, go to soccer practice with your kids, do Pilates, mow the lawn, have a BBQ, make love to your spouse, watch a movie, go on fun holidays. When I read about the cheater life it always sounds so disgusting, disconnected, deluded, obsessive even. That’s why us chumps, the same ones, get accused of being boring and loveless. We’re actually full of love and fun, it’s the fuckwits who choose to get their jollies elsewhere- it has nothing to do with us. After two years since DDay I fully see it now. I felt so unloveable, so lacking, so unsexy. Now it’s clear as day that it’s not me.
    Christian, she is just like every other dumb cheater on here. Fuck that. It’s not you, it’s her. You’re better than her in every way. You’re mighty!

  • Christian, I’ve been in your boat. Cheating, lying wife with her blame-shifting cover story and legions of flying monkeys. Small children, susceptible to her revisionist history and the make-believe new fairy tale of Mr. Just-a-Friend who swooped in at just the right moment to save her from YOU. It feels insurmountable, but you’re on the right track. Quit drinking, start lifting weights (or whatever self-improvement works for you). Focus on yourself. Ignore her attempts to blame you for her cheating.

    I’m seven years out from the mind-fuck. I don’t have a crystal ball with your name on it. But I can tell you how it turned out for me.

    The first year sucked. I lost 40 pounds and looked like a ghost. Tried to keep my game face on during Christmas, hoping the kids wouldn’t notice. She married Mr. Just-a-Friend two weeks after the ink was dry on the divorce decree and tried to convince all her new friends that he was the boys’ father. They bought a house in the same neighborhood we’d moved into 7 months before DDay, just around the corner from the house I’d kept.

    Started dating and met someone cool. Of course, the covert-narc did her best to undermine that, using the children, of course. Meantime, I kept showing up at the gym. Kept up with the meditation. Read A LOT of books, including Chump Lady. Got my head straight.

    First relationship ended, partially due to the aforementioned undermining. Get used to the undermining; the cheater can’t stand to see you thrive.

    Four months after that, through a total fluke, met an amazing woman who also lived in our neighborhood — right behind Cheating Ex Wife! Hit it off. She’s as beautiful as a model and has a kind and loving heart. Bonus: her ex was also a covert narcissist! We’d read all the same books!

    Now we are married and living in a (much) bigger house in a better community. Home theater in the basement. Music room. Three guest rooms. You see, we both have good jobs. The Cheating Ex Wife was too lazy to work. Her newish husband, Mr. Just-a-Friend, is on his own in the breadwinner department. So they were forced to downsize to an older, smaller house in a less-desirable neighborhood.

    My oldest son — formerly Cheating Ex’s Golden Child — had a lightbulb moment and realized just how selfish and manipulative she is. So he moved in with me and my new wife, about a year ago. Wants nothing to do with his toxic mother.

    Last month, we bought a boat. Sometimes it’s on a trailer, parked out front, when Cheating Ex shows up for the hostage exchange with the younger kids. She can’t bring herself to pull into the driveway. Always leaves the rear wheels on the street.

    Moral of the story: keep the faith. Trust that the worst thing that ever happened to you could actually be the best thing. Pay no mind to the pathologically jealous ex with a million reasons why she cheated, none of which were her fault. You do you. The kids will figure it out on their own.

    Karma has a long memory. And she knows where your ex lives.

  • Thank you for sharing your experience. It sounds very similar down to the losing a lot of weight. It’s been less than a year but I’m getting to meh and sharpening my grey rock!


  • “This ain’t where the road comes to an end. This ain’t where the bandwagon stops. This is just one of those times when. A lot of folks jump off. ”

    Just for this moment, Tracy Lawrence can be your friend.

  • Seriously, what is it with control of the narrative? They are usually the ones who leave – so why do they need to assassinate your character? Why not just say “It wasn’t working for me and I needed to move on” ?

    I just don’t understand why this needs to be someone’s *fault*; if you aren’t happy, say that, and if you can’t find happiness with your partner and they love you, then they will likely let you go and pursue what you need.

    I think where it gets tricky is when someone cheats and you find out and leave, or you just want to keep cheating…that’s when it turns into YOU against ME. Don’t take this away from me! (whatever this is)

    But real love is about supporting and lifting each other up – included in that is following through on your commitments like caring for the children you had together voluntarily even if it is time to move on.

    Actually now that I think about it, it seems like it all just comes down to RESPECT. Respect your partner, their investments, their commitment, their time, their own needs and well being, respect your kids, respect your new amore, respect your ex, respect yourself !

    There is absolutely no reason to cheat or lie or deceive someone – just put your big boy/girl pants on and speak up. It saves everyone so much emotional trauma that haunts folks for ages.

    And as an aside, do others feel like this sort of behavior is indicative of a person’s character (or lack thereof)? I know with mine, as awful as it was, had I really been paying attention (and not spackling), it was clear he lacked character, respect, love etc. He was just an entitled ass. And frankly his cheating liberated me from his shitty, shitty partnership. But alas, I am a few years out of the chaos. I never forget that now, the one door closes or when a door closes it’s for a good reason…etc.

    It is a nice extra shit sandwich that they get to destroy your reputation with their bullshit lies and you have to just sit there and take it (getting ahead of it or protesting too much doesn’t work). But the truth always comes out in the end. I really, really wish there was some way to deal with this aspect of the cheating. And frankly, it’s not just with cheating. I’ve broken up with people who didn’t cheat but because I have boundaries now 😀 I leave people who I am not happy being with, but similarly those are people who I tried repeatedly to express my dissatisfaction in the relationship and I was dismissed, false equivocated, told I was wrong, told I couldn’t have what I was asking for etc. And now, post-cheaterpants – I have learned to leave people like this. I do it responsibly…I say this isn’t working for me, for all of the reasons I have said previously and I end the relationship as cleanly as possible. They continue to defend themselves and their actions and dismiss my concerns. They usually think I am bluffing I’m guess. But the second they realize I am serious, they embark on a character assassination campaign.

    Tell me this, if I am so awful, why did you try to get back with me so hard?

    Maybe the trick is, (1) find a partner who you don’t have these issues with (duh) and (2) if you do find yourself having issues and you speak up about them – their reaction to your grievances tells you everything you need to know about them.

    Hugs. You know who you are. BTW, I read a great article the other day on what to do after you break up – you taking ownership for what you did/not do wrong is spot on. Jumping into a brand new relationship? Not so much, that’s called “Avoidant Coping”.

    hope that helps, hang in there buddy 🙂

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