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How the Hell Can I Live with Him Until I Can Get Him Out?

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Hey there, Chump Lady.

D-day 1 was almost a year ago and D-day 2 was almost 2 months ago, now. I won’t unpack the Baggage of Fuckery right now, as that would take too long and I have a tendency to write novels so I’ll spare you and CN.

I’ve decided to leave and I think FW realizes that now. He prefers to play pretend and act like nothing is wrong and that nothing horrible has happened. So we haven’t really talked about…..well, anything.

Here’s my problem.

I’m not a fake person. Period. This whole game of pretending while I organize my little duckies? It’s KILLING me. Biting my tongue, walking away from the arguments, pretending to wreckoncile — this is not me and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to ignore his bull when I just want to scream at him and punch him in his stupid, narcissistic, lying face.

I have 3 teenagers from my first marriage, I don’t make a ton of money, and rent/housing prices have skyrocketed (if I’d left last year it would’ve saved me hundreds of dollars in rent compared to now). In all honesty I have NO idea where I’m going to go or how I’m going to get approved for a rental when my income isn’t high enough in regards to having to make 3 times the amount of rent. I have a settlement coming sometime in the near-ish future from a car accident that I was in almost 2 years ago, but it’s not going to be a ton of money and most of it will be going to purchase furniture, dishes, etc.

Long story longer — I don’t know how long I’m going to be stuck living with his lying ass and I don’t know how to get through this. He’s the type that he’ll bring the OW to the house to hang out while I’m still there. (He hasn’t -YET- but did that very thing when he and his first wife split up – aaaahhhh, the things that came out AFTER I married his lying ass).

HOW do I keep living there until I can get my children and myself OUT? I’m numb these days but this fake face bullshit is NOT me and I know the things that are coming and I’m afraid of ending up as a Snapped episode.

This site, your book, and the comments from CN are one of the few things keeping me afloat these days. Please, oh Wise One. I need advice on how to make it through until I can leave. I thought his gaslighting and lying and all the other bullshit was making me crazy but having to lie and pretend MYSELF? Fuuuuck me. I hate it.

Please send help lol.

Sincerely,

ChumpMeGentlyWithAChainsaw

Dear ChumpMeGentlyWithAChainsaw,

Yeah, lining up ducks, living together while plotting to leave is insanely stressful. How do cheaters do it? Lack of adaptive anxiety I guess. No stress rashes or teeth grinding for them. You’re living with a secret — you hate his ass and you’re going to leave his ass. But right now you’re financially vulnerable.

I know you probably feel like if you can’t afford rent, you can’t afford a lawyer, but I think that’s exactly what you need. A separation agreement could get him paying you support, it could protect that settlement you’re due so half doesn’t go to him. I’m not a legal professional, but you totally need to consult with one. Read over at www.womenslaw.org on all the divorce laws in your state. Check out your state bar association for “low-bono” services (pro bono is free, low-bono is sliding scale) for family law. If there’s a women’s legal services in your area, research that too. Being tethered to a fuckwit is NOT the only option for continued survival.

How did you support three kids before you met him? Could you put your energies into a job search? A lot of employers (in the US anyway) are desperate for workers and are raising wages and giving sign-on bonuses now.

Point is, Chainsaw, you need a plan. D-Days are overwhelming, but focus on one challenge at a time. Give yourself homework. It will help you feel like you’ve taken back control. Lawyer. Job. Housing. Break each challenge into bits. Call three lawyers who have free consultations. Apply to three jobs. Make lists.

Put every option on the table. Including the Things You Didn’t Think You Could Do.

What’s off limits that you dread? Asking a family member for a loan? Couch surfing? Moving school districts? Having the kids live with their bio-dad for awhile? Moving to another state that’s more affordable, or closer to your support network?  Consider the un-considerable. Remember, like pain, arrangements are only finite. You’re rebuilding, moving toward an abuse-free life.

Consider using that settlement money as a down-payment and rent for new digs. Forget new furniture and dishes now. You have teenagers. These are not the years for nice things. Try free cycle, Goodwill.

Does all of this SUCK? Yes. Yes it does. But does it suck worse than living with a cheating, gaslighting fuckwit? Only you can answer that. This shit does take a toll on your mental health. And remember, while your situation may feel static, it isn’t. He’s got a history of douchebaggery. He could leave YOU. So get in FRONT of this and get protection.

Opening the floor up to CN: how did you survive the lining-up-ducks-phase of limbo hell? Practical suggestions? Tales of mighty?

Hang in there, Chainsaw. It can be done.

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Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • I was lucky, that I did not have financial problems. I know that is rare.
    When I had enough , I gave her 3 weeks to move out.
    She slept in the guest bedroom and in front of the kids we behaved as if nothing happened until she found an apartment. These were stressful times. I acted as a referee for her rental application and I paid her a regular fortnightly amount of money, even before legal child support was sorted. I always thought that I wanted to be able to look my kids in the eye, knowing that I have behaved in those days with dignity.
    I had meetings with my lawyers and got organized.
    When she finally moved out, a weight came of my shoulders and I could breathe again.
    This is incredibly difficult. What helped me was to think of it all like an accountant. A business deal has come to an end; we are planning the financial separation. Leave all emotions out. And like chumplade describes – you can do the same even if you are in an financially weaker position. Find free legal support get all the information you can find on the internet and become a divorce expert. The cheater is at that time almost certainly busy fucking around. That was the case with my ex: She went on tinder straight away. Kept her busy. She came to the divorce proceedings unprepared, I didn’t.

    • Same! FW was too busy playing with OW and didn’t even bother looking up divorce law or what would happen. Ironic, since OWs dad was a prominent family law attorney one state over. Thankfully OW was giving FW crap advice… FW thought that I had to wait a year of separation and that once he moved out he was legally separated and could do as he pleased. OW was still separated from her husband (never bothered to divorce because he moved out of the country) and her dad was a lawyer in a no fault state.

      If FW has just taken 2 minutes to Google it, he would have realized that our state is still “fault” and there’s no “legal separation”… so all I needed was a PI and some photos even after he moved out to prove adultery. And he was served within 2 weeks. I wasn’t about to wait a year.

      Take advantage of their lovey dovey stupidity and get your ducks in a row. Focus on this like a business transaction and you’ll be ten steps ahead.

      I lived in Red Baron pizza with my kid to get through this. It’s a financial hardship for most women to get free of a FW. But I fought and believed until I could get a good job and right my ship.

      • “Same! FW was too busy playing with OW and didn’t even bother looking up divorce law or what would happen. ”

        I think that was the case with my fw too. Too busy fucking and trying to same his job and position. Honestly when he left I think he thought he was still in control. He just though, I have the D plan worked out; Susie always does what I say. Whore will just slide into Susie’s place once I dump her, Susie will use my lawyer because I have the settlement all worked out and since Susie is scared she will do what I say, she always has. Susie will take care of my mom because they are close; Whore will be my wife, mom will get used to whore and Susie won’t give me any trouble, she never has. It’s all good.

        FW meet wrench. Susie hired her own lawyer and told fw to eat shit and die. Ok, well Susie didn’t mouth those words, but they were implied, and he knew it.

        • “Take advantage of their lovey dovey stupidity and get your ducks in a row. Focus on this like a business transaction and you’ll be ten steps ahead.”

          Absolutely. Absolutely this. Chumps have to move while FWs are in their honeymoon period because as that gloss begins to dim, the FW becomes more aware of what your lawyer is actually saying.

          • I now see the benefit of striking while the OW’s grass is looking greener. Once they are not honeymooning with OW it’s hard to get them out.

            • LTC,

              The grass always looks greener on the other side of the fence to the FW when they have spent years sh*tting over everything in sight on the Chump’s side.

              LFTT

          • 👍

            My lawyer even made reference to this. I wanted him to file, so I called him and said you wanted the D, so you need to file and take responsibility for it.

            My lawyer said as soon as he files he would move quick, because whether I believed it or not he is still feeling some guilt. And dang if the lawyer wasn’t right. He signed on to my demand for a legal separation with full maintenance for six months.

          • ^1000x THIS! Can’t stress it enough chumps! I did this with 2 ex-cheater pants. Seasoned said “okay u can go be with ur tru wuv without a hassle from me. Just sign this separation agreement and I’ll go away.” Take advantage when they are in full-on limmerence with AP. And like chump lady says about getting a post-nup if they come crawling back for wreckonciliation. You can accomplish that by ensuring your separation agreement has language that states it survives any reconciliation.

            • Yes on the above! While mine was super busy lovebombing schmoopie – I was scanning documents and visiting lawyers. Also, a tip that might save you some stress……when my attorney described what she expected to happen, I disagreed with her. I thought he would do as he had told me he would, that we would divorce as civilly as possible, etc. Typical chump thinking. I can tell you that when the dust cleared…..my attorney was within $100 and right on the time schedule she predicted on day one. There’s a reason you hire someone to fight for you that does this crap every day. In fact, I was very impressed in the final court hearing when both attorneys and the judge just watch FW squirm and complain because he wasn’t “special.” It was very obvious they had seen his sort before and were not impressed. In fact, sometimes on bad days, I think back to that day and remind myself just how stupid he looked trying to sell his twu wuv bullshit to educated, high character people.

        • SAME. I was going to wait while he was on a business trip to Paris and we were going to share a lawyer when he returned (we were getting “amicably” divorced already, but really it was me just eating another shit sandwich)…..and then I found out he was in Paris with his girlfriend AND there was a slew of women before her. I got a separate lawyer pronto while they were fucking and his eyes were on her.

          But I really think he thought he was in control still; I was in-hand and wouldn’t cause trouble because I never, ever did. He tried bullying me once to sign over property before the divorce was finalized; the lawyer said, “Let me handle it.” Never heard from him again after that. And my life is so much better.

      • Same. My FW didn’t want to use lawyers, and he wanted me to do all the work of filling out paperwork and filing (including his paperwork!). He also wanted me to give him a large sum in cash from the equity in our house to furnish his apartment. I was uncomfortable with all of that, but I pretended to go along with everything he wanted until he moved out. I knew I had to for my own safety. I’m so glad he was able to move out after only a few weeks. As soon as I was safe, I hired a lawyer and had her fill out all the paperwork and file stuff. I think FW was too deep into whoever he was screwing at that point to notice that I wasn’t meeting all of his unreasonable demands until less than a week before our final court date. He had been pro se and hired a lawyer at the 11th hour, who told him the settlement agreement was fair and that he should sign it. Take advantage of him being distracted by the OW and do what you need to do to keep you and your kids safe and financially sound.

      • ^^ All of this!

        First, for lining up ducks, check out https://www.secondsaturday.com/ For $20 donation, I went to one of these workshops which had excellent legal and financial information and resources. I was glad I went relatively early on, but there were women there who were already post-settlement or well past filing and they all took away useful info too.

        I agree with AFS on keeping your dignity, which felt like a really tricky line to walk as I highly value integrity. I have asked myself at critical points: would I be proud to tell the kids I did this? It helped me decide. I didn’t like operating in a way that seemed sneaky to gather evidence about the affair. Checking myself with that outside perspective was really helpful. Sometimes it actually made me realize that the “sneaky” thing that I felt horrible doing was something I SHOULD be doing to protect myself (ex. downloading every one of FW’s credit card statements available to me, screenshots of OW’s social media posts documenting their vacations together.)

        I also agree with “take advantage of their lovey dovey stupidity” – FW left the engagement ring he bought OW and the receipt in his underwear drawer at our house for a few days. Picture of those went straight to my file of evidence. He agreed to a lot during settlement just to hurry along divorce as his sole focus was starting his new life with OW.

        It feels interminable, that you will never be able to just get through it – but you will. Strength in numbers – Find a friend who keeps me honest and grounded and can remind you how far you’ve come. And CN is here to feed you mighty when you need it!

      • I don’t know if he’s talking to the OW anymore or not and I’m to the point that I hope he is so he CAN be distracted by her. As far as he told me – back in July on d-day 2- they’d stopped speaking to each other because he’d been an insensitive prick to her (they had argued about something- he “couldn’t remember” what 🙄- and told her she ‘let’ her daughter get molesteted by her stepfather ….and surprise…she supposedly told him to go fuck himself). I know better than to believe anything that he says at this point, though.

        What does that say when I’m now hoping he’s still talking to her so he won’t pay attention as I get up and leave?

  • FW moved out immediately on DDay and straight into the arms of OW. That left me, my 9 year old son and a mortgage that needed to be paid… and I had no income as a SAHM. I reached out to friends and family for legal advice, support and money. It was embarrassing and difficult. Because FW was already out of the house and my state is a fault state, I went after him for adultery just to get the divorce going right away. Did it within 2 weeks of DDay.

    But in hindsight, it would have been better just to seek counsel to get pendente lite (temporary financial support). I also wish I’d known about the Women’s Center we have locally that would have given better advice on my legal rights and financial services for free.

    Chainsaw, CLs advice is solid. Seek out a women’s center for advice. And call several lawyers — maybe they can get you started in the right direction and possibly pendente lite… financial support until you are divorced.

    • “I had no income as a SAHM. I reached out to friends and family for legal advice, support and money. It was embarrassing and difficult.”

      Me too. Those were some hard years.

      • The worst. But… we survived it 🙂 I look back and can’t believe the fiery Hell I walked through to get to the other side. But we all have it in us. And now I just want to help anyone else going through it and let them know it’ll be better once FW is gone.

        • I really appreciate your words of support and encouragement. I need them at the moment. All I see is an ongoing battle which I am doing alone. It’s damn tough so thank you ❤️

          • Claire- I just remember saying “I’m so tired” to myself at the end of long brutal days. My job, taking care of two young kids, moving out, moving in to a new place and with all the psychological and emotional stress it drained me to my core. Stay present and control what you can. You can do this.

            • Claire – Montana Chump is exactly right. It’s exhausting. You’ll need to give yourself grace. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Surround yourself with good friends and fight for yourself and your children. There IS an end point. And when the FW is gone, the clouds part and you’ll start to breathe deeply again. It takes time and trust. Believe you can do this. You can. I’m 6 years out. Hardly deal with FW at all anymore. My finances are back in place and I can now keep my energies on my son and my life. Hang in there!! We all understand it here.

  • I didn’t have to line up ducks (I’m so sorry you’re in this space), but I was suddenly discarded for the OW and left with all the bills and financial responsibilities. Don’t underestimate the combined power of fear and determination to get you through this.
    CL is right, use that settlement money as a bond and get out. And sell EVERYTHING you don’t love/ need. If you can start this process now (without him realising) all the better. Unwanted jewellery? Go sell it. Get a fiver from selling this kids old clothes? Save it. You CAN do this, and with time and perseverance you and your children will be ok again. 💪

    • You absolutely can do it! Be careful about selling now though, he could get 50% of the money.

      On the flip side – spend money now that needs spending. Does your car need new tires? Do that while he still pays 50% of it.

      • One of my closest friends suggested right after he left, that I buy a new couch and chair since he never would let me buy a new one while we were married. I said well I would just have to pay half of it, but in hindsight I wish I had done it. It turned out he took over all the debt, he almost had to. But even if I had to pay half at least he would have had to pay half too, and I would have finally had a new couch.

        But each one has to decide what is best in the situation they are in. I had always been more conservative in spending money. If I hadn’t been he wouldn’t have been able to keep his whore on the side. Whore get their pay, whether they are working the streets (more honest) or are co working with the John.

      • I refer to the period between XW leaving me and us splitting our debts as “my half price sale”. Unfortunately I was raised to be frugal so I was unable to really indulge, but I did buy an expensive e-bike. It’s my commuter bike (I’ve put 20,000 miles on it so far) and I really think the regular exercise saved my sanity during the first year or so.

  • The best advice I can give, learnt the hard way, is ‘respond, don’t react’. Whenever tempted to panic (and I had, and to a lesser extent still have, many reasons to do so), I said to myself ‘respond, don’t react’. I didn’t always succeed, but when I did that breathing space made all the difference to the quality of my decisions. And treating it like the ending of a contractual relationship. Really hard to do, especially when you are still under the same roof, but worth practising as it get easier. It rankles to have to use your settlement money for this purpose but you will not regret spending the money on a deposit and/or a lawyer. Getting that safe, separate space makes all the difference. Good Luck.

  • Though I was devastated when he left, I kept telling myself he would snap back to the person I loved. But, even given that, it only took me a few weeks to realize my life was more peaceful. I wasn’t getting screamed at constantly, I didn’t have to think about where he was at all hours of the night.

    I honestly wish he had just bought me out instead of getting a small property that we had paid off. I would have rather just been totally away from my old life. But I had to take what I could get.

    However, I did sell a bunch of stuff that I knew I wouldn’t have room for. A few big ticket items.

  • I would add finding a great sliding-scale therapist to the list, if you don’t already have one. The awesome lighthouse of a lady who I found in October of 1985 is still in my life today, thank GUS! (Great Universal Spirit).

    Thanks to Benedict “OJ” Madoff, the traitor I was “mirage-d” to, I have been diagnosed with atrial fibrillation. I now have a pill organizer for the heart medication I have to take along with my thyroid medication. Last week was at the dentist getting two abfractures filled. An abfracture is a crack at the base of the tooth below the gum line. The cause is teeth-grinding at night from stress.

    These people are a serious hazard to one’s health and protecting ourselves might call for drastic measures, help from others, open-mindedness, a tolerance for tolerating things we may not have considered before that will save our lives. Life vests are not haute couture but they keep us alive until we can resume life safely on land.

    On an amusing note, I watched Girl on a Train with Emily Blunt last night. Extremely early on in the movie, way before any clues were imparted to the viewer, I correctly guessed who the killer was, because I am a chump. May my AH detector work as well in real life.

    Also, contact your local women’s shelter for resources! They should have a bunch to share with you.

    • I would also second the suggestion of putting LEGAL at the top of your Ta Da list. You mentioned this is DDay 2.0, so I’m glad to hear you are here and not smoking more hopium and signing up for DDay 3. For me, I wish I had gone legal right away. I was too scared to retain my own lawyer and acknowledge inevitable reality and that’s the one thing I wish I had done way earlier in the game. It’s ending up OK, but engaging my own lawyer who had my back would have been very helpful and I wish I had done it sooner. I was too shell-shocked (I still am to a degree) to be much of an advocate for myself. 😪

  • I have been trying to get a legal separation for over a year. I won’t get into too many details, I don’t want to give other FW’s ideas on how to further fuck the chump. We are still in the same home. When he felt the walls of his secret life caving in life was so crazy for a while. I kept telling my attorney what he was doing, and he finally stopped only because it was getting filed. Just brace yourself as best as you can for what will come after he knows you know, it can be just nuts. Luckily almost everywhere is hiring, with teenagers they can be alone while you work. I’d suggest talking with an attorney, get finances in order, start looking for a job (almost everywhere is hiring), and just keep doing little things to untether yourself to this person (physically, financially, and emotionally). Keep all your evidence of his infidelity in a safe place (even in a no fault state it matters). I’d also recommend that you pay attention to all the finances, mail that comes to your house things like that, generally this deception goes to other parts of their life.

    • Good advise.

      I also agree with CL, forget the new furniture and dishes. Keep what you can of what you have, and make scouring the thrift shops your fun. If you have a Jimmy Carter Resale shop those places are amazing.

      Beautiful well made furniture for a fraction of the price of new. Also a large turnover. At least ours is. Furniture, building supplies, tools, dishes, ours even has school supplies. I just bought a huge bag of school supplies for our local school supply drive. About 1/4th the prices of new items. I checked.

      • Think, too, that many people have found that their kids don’t want their old china, silverware, furniture, etc. So let people know what you need. I’m single, so my furniture doesn’t get real wear-and-tear, so when I’ve grown tired of looking at things and want a change, I give away sofa, chairs, etc. to those who need a fresh start. So get out the word! You can get great stuff cheap or for free.

      • Jimmy Carter places are called Habitat for Humanity Resale Shops around here.
        Got my ‘new’ couch and love seat for 75% off of $300. When it arrived in my house, I discovered it had never been used and was a display model from a hoity toity shop. I paid $100 to have it delivered.

  • I understand the dealing with a phony part. My ex is the biggest phony I’ve ever met…..make nasty comments under his breath or do something nasty and then paint a phony smile on his face and play dumb. Will even ask you how you’re doing with that disgusting phony smile.

    The night I was going to tell him I wanted a divorce I got drunk, so I passed out in the bed. That scumbag threw the door open (when he knew I was impaired….baby is too much of a coward to have real conflict) and yelled loudly into the room “are you there!!!!!?????”.

    The next morning he sits next to me with his phony smile, plays dumb, puts his hand on my leg and asks how I’m doing. I smacked his hand away and told him we were done. After going a few rounds of him “not being able to believe I said that” he proceeds to ignore it, tries to kiss me, and invites me up to bed. When confronted about the incident he claims he was upset that we weren’t spending more time together, so of course rather than talk to me like an adult we have to be a passive aggressive coward and then play dumb. As if yelling into the room was about anything beyond him being a cowardly prick which he then refuses to own.

    But I don’t do phony either and my ex truly didn’t understand it. He thought my refusal to paint a phony smile on my face and play dumb was me being difficult, because to him everything was about image management

    I dealt with it by grey rocking him and being gone a lot. So what if your stbx brings his trash whore around? If it doesn’t get a reaction from you he might not want to do it, and frankly only the lowest piece of trash allows herself to be used in such a way (OW). Pity that she thinks so little of herself.

    Ignore him and keep everything surface and phony. That’s what I did even though it’s not in my nature. Just be prepared for escalating attempts by him to get a rise out of you……ignore them.

  • I started moving money on the advice of lawyer, bought a quality year old used car (mine was 15 years old), started gathering documents, credit card in just my name, changed my adult kids to beneficiaries on an inherited IRA, & therapy. The day after he didn’t come home (hired gf back), I gathered his clothes and dumped them in the waiting room of the office. I was a mess but taking control of what I could. Thanks to LACGAL for the lawyer up map.

  • It would be funny if he brings the whore around and you could call his 1st wife while they’re within earshot and tell her he’s got a whore over.

    My kids dad, who wasn’t a cheater but was a nasty, abusive drunk did something like this. He brought a piece of trash over while we were still in the house together to hang out with the neighbors.

    The neighbors all thought it was trashy, and when whore came into our house to use the bathroom I called a friend, made sure she could hear, and said “yeah, he brought someone over but if he’s trying to upset me he should’ve brought someone with a smaller ass”.

    Whore wouldn’t turn to look at me and scurried out of the house.

    I still chuckle thinking about it.

  • Leave it to CL to distill the steps down into three simple priorities. I remember how overwhelming it was to escape and start a new life on a single income, from being a SAHM, with kids but CL boils it down: Lawyer. Job. Housing.

    She also makes some excellent points about how it’s time to consider the unconsiderable. You have to get out of there; it’s killing you. So, what are you willing to do for awhile in order to facilitate that escape?

    For me, it was packing up my myself, two babies, and very few personal belongings, and moving back into my parents’ house. Not everyone has that option, I know, but I do want to put it out there that moving back in with my parents as a depressed and humiliated single mother with no assets was never a part of my life plan. Starting a new life as a single parent with nothing was never a part of my plans. Getting a crappy job that paid stinking little but let me work from home was never a part of my plan. Moving into a one bedroom shack (the kids got the bedroom; I slept on the couch) that leaked and was never built to code was never a part of my plan. Going on welfare/social services/ spending many hours in research trying to find any government handouts I could was never a part of my plan. Happily accepting all the free clothes and furniture I could find no matter how ugly is was was never my plan. Going to food banks (they gave me more because I had two dependents!) was never my plan. Doing that all while borrowing money so I could keep meeting with my lawyer to facilitate a divorce that I didn’t want was never a part of the plan.

    I know I sound like I’m complaining but I don’t mean to. That time of my life was hard, humiliating, humbling, and it sucked but I’m so glad I did all of those things. Every day spent away from FW (even though my codependent ass never wanted to leave him) was a day I became better. I’m so glad I got away from him and downgraded my life for awhile; it was a real upgrade.

    I never could have gotten my ducks in a row while living with FW; I was just too emotionally destroyed. Living with him kept me in survival mode. CL is right: sometimes we have to take a deep breath and consider the unconsiderable. For everyone, that mileage will vary.

    • I know I sound like I’m complaining but I don’t mean to.

      It isn’t complaining. It’s telling what happened.

      Thank you. I hope you and your babies are in a better situation now ❤️

    • It’s strong to leave with next to nothing. It takes courage to a whole new level but it can be done and isn’t as scary as I think you see it in your head. I left my cheating exhol the night I found out. Turned up at a friend’s place, then parents…and within 10 days of day I was in a smaller little townhouse with mismatched furniture I bought cheaply as floor stock and begging friends and family for hand-me-downs and things they could spare. I assure you the my kitchen was fully stocked and functional in a day as people kept bringing around everything they didn’t need or could spare. I ended up with 5 toasters and so many lamps! You don’t need new things right now..you need a safe place to process the pain and trauma you are in.

      Please ask for help…check out those freebies pages on Facebook. You would be amazed at the things you will be able to get for free or very small fees. You can stock a house! I STILL have so much of that furniture and kitchen ware from leaving the cheater. It’s mixed in with furniture I upgraded and bought with my beloved husband. You’ll be amazed at how life moves forward and you blend your hardships into your beautiful futures.

      Spend the settlement on a lawyer and if advised to: hide the rest with family. You do NOT want your exhole getting his greasy mits on any of the money and he may well try. You’d be amazed what they turn into once they realise you’re leaving. Gather precious things and hide then with people you trust…I guarantee he’ll break those dishes from your grandmother or “lose” your favourite baking pan or the kids school photos. Things that hurt you will bring him pleasure once you initiate divorce.

      There was a great suggestion when I landed here over 4 years ago to pad out grocery shops with gift cards that you can later use once you leave. Wish I had known this piece of advice before I left. If you can I would do this. A collection of $20 gift cards can be really helpful when buying groceries once you are moved out.

      Stay strong. You can do it. It’s just not going to look like anything you expected or imagine. It’s going to be different but you can do it.

    • I agree with Claire, Fourleaf. You’re not complaining. It’s most comforting and validating to hear advice and encouragement from chumps who’ve been through it, and I appreciate these stories as much as any others here. You’re not preaching or minimizing or saying, “Suck it up!” You have been in Chainsaw’s position and you made it through, even though it sucked. And now, things are much better and it was all worth it. Your story is probably the most reassuring and meaningful.

      I lived many of the humiliations you did (but without the added responsibilities of kids), but I pretty quickly stopped giving a fuck about what others thought. For one, I’d already forced myself to stop caring what my longterm partner thought about me, so everyone else’s opinions became relatively easy to let go of. I’d also been worn down by everyone knowing intimate details of my life, including that my “partner” had been cheating on me for years – and that I’d gone back to him, anyway! – so it couldn’t really get much more humiliating. I’m not ashamed about doing what I need to make ends meet, and I don’t think any of what you did, or I did, is shameful. It’s responsible and wise, and it got us where we needed to go.

  • In the UK in many areas we have ‘Acts of Kindness’ Facebook pages. Like Marketplace but people give stuff and help away to those in need. The first person to comment wanting the item or help gets it. Really good quality furniture, white goods, and home essentials (and non-essentials) often turn up there. I’m not sure whether other countries have the same. Our local area page is run by a wonderful young woman who understands how hard it can be for people finding themselves in housing difficulties for whatever reason. And the generosity of the givers is extraordinary. Perhaps this is the same as Goodwill?

  • Dear Chainsaw, before you move out check with lawyers to see if this weakens your case. I’ve seen a friend’s fuckwit argue in court that she moved out because she wanted to. She had very good lawyers.

    Times are changing Chainsaw.

    Just this week a major funding agency for R&D started asking applicants to mention in their CVs if they had interruptions in their careers for childbirth, caring for ill relatives, etc. My jaw dropped. I feel like asking them if divorcing a fuckwit also counts. It caused a major interruption in my career, but I survived. I treaded water nonstop and got a good lawyer.

    You will find all kinds of support in the next 30 days. Cross them off on the wall of this prison you are living in and then send CN news on how you are doing.

  • CL is correct about the job market. Right now employers are desperate. Compensation is up and they are willing to take on the expense of training. This will not last long much longer so get out there now and apply. This should be step one. Step two is to get an attorney or legal advice. These steps/actions should be in conjunction. I get you want to punch his stupid, cheating face in, I really do…but your energy should be directed towards getting out. Practice having a poker face and fantasize about pulling the rug out from under his cheating ass. Step three…pamper yourself if possible. Manicure/pedicure/facials, new make-up and exercise. Wish you all the best.

  • In your forest of overwhelming tasks, use your chainsaw to start cutting a path. One thing at a time; lawyers first I suppose.

    Looking back, these first steps were my most powerful.

  • Yes, it can be done. My ex was the one that left, but some months into a long-distance separation, he decided that the house had to be sold. It took me about 30 minutes to decide that was a good idea. It gave me a cushion for moving to a rental and what I considered to be the inevitable divorce. We actually moved out before it went on the market because he was coming to get his stuff, and I didn’t want to mess with people tromping through the house I loved. Friends moved us. I qualified on what little income I had and my retirement investments. I wrote a letter explaining my situation that was business-like. I noted that the house was shortly going on the market and that my credit score was excellent. I got it!

    We also had two families offer their basements if we needed them, so I felt pretty sure that we’d land on our feet. The house did sell (it was a really nice house), so that gave me some security. My ex was totally awful during all of that. There were signs that he thought that selling the house would drive us into his arms, but I knew I couldn’t agree to that then even though I was still taking a lot of hopium.

    I didn’t kick off the divorce because I wasn’t there yet emotionally and was having the worst time getting employment after being a SAHM for twenty years. He kicked it off, and I still wasn’t self-supporting until some time into divorce closeout. However, I had my cushion. He paid support until partway into the divorce. Both kids were in college, and he is retired. So basically no support per the law, and I chose to drop having him pay for any of the kids’ expenses because he was so awful during the divorce. My attorney outlined a host of problems that could arise if we got my ex involved in that. I figured that if they had to borrow, it wouldn’t be too bad because there were already working and had scholarships. They were commuter students.

    However, it all came together despite what my attorney called “the terrorist.” I also live in an expensive area, so it was indeed scary at times. I became self-supporting during the pandemic and could help the kids with college. One graduated and is working remotely while paying me rent. The other is in her last semester and plans to do the same.

    It was years to get there but had to be.

  • Check “offer up”. Many of my retired/retiring friends are trying to unload stuff their kids dont want. You can be eating off fine bone China for everyday! And silver plate cutlery! 😅rental property is tough right now but again some retirees are trying to stay in Their massive homes and might rent out the main house so they can stay in a MIL. It does take some creative thinking and flexibility. Best of luck-set yourself free.

  • You learn a lot about yourself when you go through this type stuff. I learned what a great actress I can be. Sometimes my ex would look amazed he could get away with all of his lies but I just pretended I didn’t know or suspect anything. Hon, just fake it. You have no money and three kids to feed and shelter. So you fake it. Stay put til you can swing it. Yeah it sucks but now is not the time to freak out.

    • Absolutely.

      They broke the contract; so now it is up to the chump to take care of themselves.

      I can’t even imagine how hard this must be for chumps with small children, especially when money is a big problem.

      All I can say is shame on our laws for leaving these venerable mothers/fathers in these situations.

  • It is fairly obvious that different chumps have different options depending on their life choices prior to finding they are married to a lying cheating, FW. Once you are out, and on your new life path, you can think about other choices and how to support the chumps who don’t know it yet, or are trying to deal with it now.

    For me, since I had children with FW, my priorities were clear. No matter how much I wanted to get away from him, and on with my life, I had to do research and make preparations to ease the transition for my children. He could think we were reconciling if he wished to think that, it made it easier for me to gather all the information I needed and make all the preparations I needed to make. I found a new job, and had to do a long commute for awhile. This provided me with an opportunity to find alternative housing, save money, check into schools, and gather information and seek advice. As long as his life was “easy” he was compliant. The fact that I did all the work was one of the things he liked best about his life with me.

    Fortunately for me, he travelled a lot with his work, and I encouraged him to “build his career” by concentrating on it. I wanted him to be in a good position to pay child support, I didn’t have to see him often, and I was free to use my time productively to plan the transition. It was ironic that I was able to take advantage of his selfish behavior to ensure a better transition for my children. When I was ready to go, he was presented with a reasonable and fairly painless plan of separation and divorce. I had done my research, and pointed out to him his life would be much the same, he just would not have me. He would be free to seek a new companion(s) as a divorced dad with a “good” relationship with his ex. I was way beyond caring about the OW du jour by this time. I had reached the acceptance state that he would never change. I did not feel one bit bad about any deceptive behavior I carried on with him, he had deceived me for years. I just concentrated on the children.

    I won’t pretend any of this was easy, or that other people could stand to do things this way. This was just what worked in my case. I had to have a strong stomach and nerves of steel to carry off some of this, but in the end, my willingness to endure and survive worked out well for my children. I also learned that “things” didn’t matter as much as freedom and peace.

    A few years later, when I discovered the truth about the love bomber, it was much easier to divorce him. I had learned many things during my prior marriage, and I had no children with this man. My heart was broken (again) and my pride was devastated, but my independence was already established. I did not co mingle funds or credit. I did not have to count on him for anything. It was much faster and less complicated, because I had done it before. He had to leave with almost nothing, and I am sure he was quite surprised at my decisive actions.

    The only thing I had to deal with after he was gone was how to fix me. My picker was obviously off, and I had to discover why. I had started the path of self analysis in my late 20’s. I was determined to break the cycles of dysfunction I had grown up with. It took more work to fix myself, to invest in my own self worth, than it did to get rid of either FW. Be sure to add this step to the end of your planning list. It is hard to transform into someone new while you are battling for your life, but when the battle is done and the smoke clears, you have to then plan on how to fix your vulnerable parts and patch your damaged parts. You are your own greatest asset.

    • few years later, when I discovered the truth about the love bomber, it was much easier to divorce him. I had learned many things during my prior marriage, and I had no children with this man. My heart was broken (again) and my pride was devastated, but my independence was already established. I did not co mingle funds or credit. I did not have to count on him for

      All of this is me and you’re story is very motivating. I feel bad and guilty at times for whispering to myself “why am I here” when is this going to end. “When am I going to find out the WHOLE truth?”
      Maybe never. But why should I feel guilty? I didn’t know about the cheating until last year. “Six years ago” it happened Ed. That’s been his stance all along.
      Six years of me devoting myself amd including my daughter. My pre damaged self. Thinking this would be my time to heal amd have happiness.
      Nah. Wrong.
      Thanks for sharing I’m happy to be independent like you just need a little more strength and to snap out of these co dependent behaviors I’ve grown into

    • “The only thing I had to deal with after he was gone was how to fix me. My picker was obviously off, and I had to discover why. I had started the path of self analysis in my late 20’s. I was determined to break the cycles of dysfunction I had grown up with. It took more work to fix myself, to invest in my own self worth, than it did to get rid of either FW. Be sure to add this step to the end of your planning list. It is hard to transform into someone new while you are battling for your life, but when the battle is done and the smoke clears, you have to then plan on how to fix your vulnerable parts and patch your damaged parts. You are your own greatest asset.”

      I could have written this and I believe every word is true and important. For me, part of that cycle of dysfunction was the erroneous belief that I needed a man in my life, that I couldn’t be happy without a partner.

  • Chainsaw I know exactly what you mean I sit here while he tells his work stories or gives his opinions on the “fake corona virus” while he sat here with me sick as hell for THIRTY THREE days after a POSITIVE covid test… it’s the gaslighting. Did I really have covid? Maybe it was the flu like he told my mother.
    The pressure in my chest is getting heavier.
    He knows I’m still hurting “it will take time, my love”… are you kidding me?!?
    Everything I put into him and his daughter to get slapped with cheating with her bio mom. We haven’t seen his daughter. Everything’s a mess.
    I struggle too. When am I getting out of this? AM I getting out of this?
    Chumplady and nation has helped me so much
    I’ve been ashamed to even comment.
    Because I’m still here. But am I? Not really
    I opened a separate bank acct. I have a small cash stash. I stocked up in things I may not be able to afford later. So subconsciously I’m doing things. Yet- no papers filed yet.
    Once you make a few more dollars amd get an affordable attorney yourself should feel ALOT better. I hope you’re getting help with the teenagers we can’t do it all alone

    One thing at a time is all I can say AND please put your bare feet in the ground. It’s FREE and extremely healing. Please do it now, if you haven’t already.

    • So sorry you had covid, Shann. If I were sick and had to listen to someone talk about “fake corona virus” I probably would have been arrested for murder. Please take care of yourself and when you are feeling stronger get on out of there. I know it is hard but you can do it. Best to you.

    • COVID on top of living with a cheater would be horrible.

      I’m glad you are taking steps but get moving to protect yourself from further abuse.

  • Hi Chumpmegently, I know it’s hard. My FW had a habit of quitting jobs suddenly, and we had three kids. Not fun! My suggestion is to join NextDoor for your area, and ask for help. Ive seen people tell their stories, and get job offers, and lots of free furniture and household stuff. And if you have to stay with family or friends, just to get away from his smug face, I think it would be much better for your outlook!
    You also might try calling your county services, to see if they have any programs you’d qualify for. I had one coworker years ago, who was going to nursing school, courtesy of the county, because she had fled an abusive marriage, and had a child. That’s a pretty good deal!
    Anyway, hope you find some resources, and we are cheering for you!

    • I know a woman who bought a house through a program for single mothers. So get out there and look! There’s help!

  • CL is right. You need a lawyer NOW – you need to protect that money coming to you, and you may be entitled to support from the FW too.

    Assuming you are in the US, contact your state or county bar association referral service. In most states, they have referrals where you can talk to a family law attorney for an hour for free or for very little money (maybe $25-$50), which is enough to go over the basics and find out what your options are. Maybe you can get an emergency support order. Maybe your local bar has a “modest means” program, or a family law attorney who can help you on a payment program you can afford.

  • To handle the mental strain of feeling like you are not your usual open and honest self, remind yourself you are protecting your children and yourself. You are playing your own greatest role. Your Oscar will be your freedom.

  • To handle the mental strain of feeling like you are not your usual open and honest self, remind yourself you are protecting your children and yourself. You are playing your own greatest role. Your Oscar will be your freedom.

  • Chainsaw — just on a practical note — are not you entitled to half of the dishes, towels, cookware and other home furnishings as community property? Take half when you leave. Most men have no idea how much this stuff costs. My FW moved in with his AP and left me ALL the household belongings. He only took his summer clothes, golf clubs and his music collection. A year later he let me know he had changed his address as he had his own apartment. (a breakup perhaps?) Made me chuckle to imagine him having to buy his own towels and furniture as he was a notorious cheapskate and I had paid for all the household goods throughout our marriage. Or, he is living in a cheap apartment sleeping on an air mattress and eating off of mismatched Goodwill plates — hardly a chick magnet. Either way is divine justice.

    Save your cash for attorney retainers and security deposits.

    • THIS. They have no clue what is in the house. Believe me, I left my cheater all the old linens, dishes, etc. He paid me for my half of the furniture and appliances. It’s true that it costs a small fortune to replace all of that stuff at once–take half of everything. Half the dishes, half the linens, half the cleaning supplies, etc. Maybe it’s “just” 2-3-4-5 dollars to replace an item, but it all adds up as you know.

    • It depends on the laws in each state and the agreements.

      In my case I got everything in the house except for his personal items or any gifts given to him. He got all the tools and basically anything in the garage.

      Pissed him off when I sold our brand new water bed, and the brand new wood stove. netted me about six hundred dollars. Of course it cost him over a thousand but screw him. My stuff my choice. He was spending his money on his fat little whore, so I saved mine for my new life.

      Helped me recoup some of the money he stole from me to throw at his whore(s). I seriously doubt she was the only one, regardless of what she might have thought.

  • I stayed with Mr. Cheater for 3.5 years after D-Day. He never mentioned D-Day after a one-word “Sorry” in our kitchen. It was awful but we had two teenagers and I wanted to get them to college and 18. I used the time to get my financial ducks in a row. We ended up divorcing when the youngest was 17. ASK NOW for what you want while that limerance is in effect. Mr. Cheater clearly thought I was stupidly and desperately in love with him (all evidence to the contrary–his drinking had taken care of the love years and years before D-Day), plus Mr. Cheater liked to be seen as Mr. Generous and Compassionate. Ergo, I “just” had to ask nicely and appeal to his compassion. Move across the country with our son? Okay! Buy me out of the house? Okay! Split our assets this way? Okay! Sure, I had to fill in all the paperwork and let him copy mine, but he couldn’t be bothered to get his own lawyer–so I helpfully paid to have someone take his paperwork to the courthouse and my lawyer drew up all the legal documents (after Mr Cheater signed paperwork acknowledging the lawyer represented me and not Mr Cheater). Mr Cheater thought it was AWESOME that he saved 5K+ on legal fees because I paid for own lawyer. Mr. Cheater clearly hadn’t bothered to Google “community property state” or, say, take our tax returns to a divorce lawyer (of course, Mr. Cheater also couldn’t be bothered to do our taxes or anything responsible of that nature). My mantra through the six months we shared the house after we filed (because our state allowed that thanks to the high cost of living) was: “Smile and wave, boys!” (Penguins of Madagascar) and “Ask for what you want.” I proposed a fair settlement, but it gave me exactly what I wanted. Also–never, ever underestimate the laziness of our cheaters… he literally couldn’t be bothered to have anything to do with our divorce. He was so busy having sex with his OW and running around drinking that he only came back to the house 2-3 nights out of 7 anyhow. The side benefit of Mr Cheater never, ever doing a lick of housework or yardwork or paperwork was that he literally had no clue what we owned other than obvious stuff like a sofa or that 20 boxes of financial paperwork had mysteriously disappeared shortly after D-Day (when I scanned and shredded it the second he left the house to go to work). It totally sucks but it can be done even though I wanted to scream I KNOW WHAT YOU’RE DOING–I’M A CHUMP, NOT DUMB.

    • I second this advice! Do this sooner rather than later. I also managed to negotiate a favorable settlement by taking advantage of his shame in the early days. Had I waited another 6 months when the shine wore off his new life, when consequences hit and rage set in, it would have been a real struggle.

      Tbh, it was quite hilarious reading his angry emails about how he wanted to renegotiate. He even hired an attorney to try and take back the house, but the agreement was already settled, signed and notarized. Take that, f***er.

  • Thank you, Everyone! I haven’t gotten to read all of the replies so far – it’s been a crazy day so far and I haven’t had much time. Just want to thank you all and clarify a couple of the many things going on.

    1. I have already begun looking for a new job. That part sucks because I finally have a job and coworkers that I love but the money just isn’t there. So! I’m already on that one 👍🏻

    2. He lived in the rental we are in prior to me moving in and us getting married. I have zero interest in staying here or fighting him to stay here.

    3. I didn’t mean new-new furniture or anything. But I’m going to be leaving with not much of anything and my youngest and I will need beds, I’ll need cookware, etc. And I’m definitely not opposed to thrift shopping- Goodwill is visited by me and my kiddos quite often.

    My 1st husband threw me out when I filed for divorce (had me removed from the lead behind my back and changed the locks while I was at work….that’s a whole different story for a different time) so I left with very little and ended up with lots of furniture donations for me the kids. Unfortunately, I got rid of stuff once I moved in with STBX. So I already know what I’m looking at as far as what the kids and I will need once I’m able to find a place.

    4. My kids staying with their boo dad for any length of time is no longer an option as he abandoned them in April of this year. And his new wife was arrested for domestic violence earlier this year and my children will not be in any home with her (yet another story for a different time). Their father chose her over them so they’re with me full time from here on out.

    5. I do have a couple of family members here in town but the ones that might be able to help are elderly and on fixed incomes and don’t have groom for all 4 of us (went through that with the last divorce). And my parents are both In I’ll health so I limit the amount of BA that I put on them. They DID help me with money last year when my ex and I were going through custody issues last year and I still don’t have it all paid back. So I keep going back and forth on asking for assistance from them – though I did FINALLY confess some of what’s been going on to my mother (she had a stroke a couple of years back and I watch what I tell her because I don’t want to stress her out/make her upset over things she can’t really do anything about).

    6. I’m setting up a savings account this week and am going to being putting whatever I can in it whenever I’m able. I’m also trying to figure out how I can get a storage unit to start moving things out of the house- just haven’t figured out how to pay the monthly unit rental without him finding out since the finances are still tied together.

    There’s more but my break is over. I apologize in advance for typos- no time to proof read right now.

    Thank you all again – this site has saved me. I will be back later today when I have a little more time. Thank you thank you!!

    • Consider moving your paycheck into a separate account. Then write a check for what is a fair amount towards household expenses. If you let your check go all into joint money, you never have any money for your own needs, separate from his.

      If he objects, say, “I don’t want you spending my money on your affair.” That’s all you need to say. “I am paying my share and using the rest for my kids. Did you think there would be no consequences for what you did?”

    • If your teens are old enough they should get jobs. They can then help pay for their own activity fees, insurance – those expenses add up.

      I established my own bank account and made sure it was paperless.

      If he doesn’t examine actual store receipts you can buy gift cards for use later. (grocery stores/ big box stores).

      Can you store things at your parent’s house?

      Best to you as you untangle the shit sandwich.

    • Chainsaw,

      I was so impressed by your letter. You came across as resourceful, positive, capable and earnest. Even before reading your comment above, I could tell you’d considered and explored many options; even sounds like you’ve been through the hard work of leaving before, and have also “done without.” You wrote CL because you honestly don’t know what to do. You are stuck between a rock and a hard place, and you deserve a lot of credit for committing to leaving and working to line up your ducks so you can make it happen. Don’t listen to anyone who tries to minimize the monumental challenges you face, or who tells you to look for the silver linings. You are eating lots of shit sandwiches right now, and you’re going to continue to for awhile once you move – which you are doing everything in your power to pull together. Again, why you wrote…

      It’s so overwhelming and feels impossible – especially with the crazy pandemic housing situation (I think even sympathetic chumps who aren’t currently facing this don’t quite understand..). Keep fighting that survival instinct to freeze, when it arises, and come here when you need validation that you are fighting on the side of good, not evil.

      My advice, mostly gleaned through my own missteps:

      1. List/photograph the stuff that’s really valuable/important ASAP. If possible, store it with friends or family. When things escalate, they escalate fast. I never really got to go back to my home after I had to leave suddenly one day for my own safety. Sounds like you’ve been through this before, too.
      2. If time, make a second list of things you’ll want once you’re settled somewhere. Even if you wind up deciding you don’t want any of it, you’ll have this, and it’ll give you options and peace of mind. I wound up having to send friends for my things. Would’ve been easier with photos, and I could’ve made more thoughtful/thorough choices if I hadn’t been in “survival mode” at the time I was doing this. I didn’t care about my life, let alone pots and pans.
      3. Don’t waste your time cleaning or organizing anything you’re leaving. He can deal with it, or you can deal with it later if need be. (Should be obvious, but – we’re chumps.)
      4. Ask for help and accept offers of assistance. SERIOUSLY! People who care about you want to help, and they are adults who make their own choices and can say no. I was afraid to be a burden or put people in the middle, but I learned that both of those notions were nonsense. You’ll reciprocate when you’re able; right now, just get through it and feel the love.
      5. The shit sandwiches (for me, fleeing my home during pandemic shutdown, losing years of equity, sleeping on couches and out of my car, taking a job I didn’t want, leaving behind many possessions, buying new ones, spending most of my income on rent for a less-than-ideal apartment, etc.) are temporary. Well, most of them. Just knowing that helps me, even though there are days when I just about break from the injustice and loneliness of it. Still, one year later, I am financially better than I had been in years and I have opened a new world of professional opportunities. Reading other stories here, I’ve learned this is not not possible but probable. We’re not just pumping you full of sunshine. Living with a fuckwit is an enormous drain.

      I don’t know. It’s hard. You know best. Your gut is telling you have to get out of there, and the sooner you’re able to figure that out, the sooner you’ll start rebuilding. Also, less is more. Less to move, less to manage. Then, start with the basics, and replace/build up slowly with what you love in time.

      Sorry for the disorganized response. Busy and rushed day, too. I just wanted to share my admiration and encouragement. I also want to thank you for writing about how hard it is to be phony, and the ethical dilemma that creates for chumps. I don’t have to worry about this with FW, now that I’m NC, but I used to really struggle with this. I still do, in other situations with family and at work. Your comment is forcing me to reflect – in a good way.

      We’re with you! Stay snarky and righteous on the inside, even if you have to pretend on the outside a little longer.

  • I lawyered up right away. After he moved out I started selling things for cash. I bought gift cards at the grocery store and stocked up on those during the separation. It was a way of hiding cash. I started working in a restaurant and worked my way up. I poured over every word of the divorce agreement before signing it. It was a few years of financial hardship, careful planning, investing, saving, and work. Today, he no longer has financial power over me. And I was a SAHM for twenties year. Get OUT, OP. You can do it

  • One thing for sure: tell yourself that you will never, ever again move in with a man, giving up your own home in the process. No matter how humble your own home is, it’s yours. Even your second-hand stuff is YOURS.

    And looking ahead to when you may meet someone you would consider living with or marrying, follow some key principles. Always have your own checking and savings accounts. Always have your own “rainy day fund.” Always deposit your own paycheck into your own account, either in person or by direct deposit. Always have a credit card in your own name and use it every month and pay it off. Always check your joint credit score every year. Don’t commingle money, other than to have a household account from which to pay bills. Then keep an eye on that account. If you are a SAHM, build into that decision money that comes directly into your checking and savings. That might be a reasonable percentage of what day care could cost (not that this would equate to your value, but it gives you a place to start calculating what you can afford. If you are SAH, maybe consider adding a neighbor kid to the mix and get paid for that. So even when you are “at home,” you are building your own financial power base.

    This may not sound romantic, but you never know when you are left in a position where you have to take care of yourself and the kids (either through divorce or death). Keep track of all important documents and have paper copies or scan them.

    • And if you ever get an inheritance, put it in a separate bank account in your name only. When my sister did this, her husband got all offended! Too bad, keep it separate anyway, it’s great insurance for our elder years, or whenever we need it.

  • Another thing to do while you tread water quietly – go to your physician and give them the go-ahead on any tests or regular maintenance. I got new glasses, my teeth cleaned, a colonoscopy and a mammogram. As CL has said, this is a long distance thing…….you need to put priority on your wellness. And I went through the hoops pretty quickly as I told each service, “It looks like I may be losing my insurance.”

    You’ll find kind, caring souls as they care for you – I wonder if it was obvious to them that I had not been taking care of myself? My chart would have shown I was way overdue. In looking back, I had went through at least a decade where I was hoping NOT to live a long life. After D-Day and the big crash, I suddenly did find that I was interested in what life might be like.

  • This all brought tears to my eyes. I always feel less mighty than all of CN who have battled and already gotten to the other side. The many stories from you who have been there help those of us who are temporarily stuck so much. Everyone’s situation is so different.

    In my case, I met with multiple attorneys and the consensus was it is to my benefit to get my ducks in a row and sit things out for a bit. I have a child with the FW and this plus some timing and pandemic issues has complicated things a lot. If we did not share a child, I already would have been gone.

    I think the most important thing for chumps is to have those checklists. Figure out what you need or need to do and start working on it. Every item on your list you check off brings you closer to freedom. I knew based on my situation that I would be stuck for a while so I made the list of absolutely every duck. Here are some of mine:
    -open two major credit cards in my name only to raise my credit score. FW would question this if he knew so I had to do it in secret. I had to use another mailing address and make small charges I paid with money orders right away.
    -move my important items to a secure location. Old family photos and things that can’t be replaced. I have a couple of boxes of my personal treasures – no real financial value but things he would keep or destroy to hurt me – safely stowed away now.
    -set up a separate phone for secure communication so he wouldn’t know I was contacting attorneys.
    -do a bunch of my own legal research. I have a legal background and needed to sort out everything I knew I could ask for.
    -sort out if hiring a PI would help my case or not (and then hire if I needed to)
    -help the child maintain social contact and stability in the area. Big issue. When I file, he is going to want to take our child 4 hours away to live with him. I need to establish that suddenly moving away from school, friends, his godparents, and all his support networks here is not in his best interest. If I filed when he was doing online school, no sports, no social anything, that’s an impossible case to make. Once he is vaccinated, set in his school (in person), and back to visits with god parents and friends, my position to keep him from being taken away is much stronger. Kiddo isn’t yet 12 and can’t be vaccinated to open more doors for him. I can’t afford to live in the high cost area FW wants to go to, so following FW (ugh) is a no go.
    -medical/dental issues I needed dental work done while I was still covered on FW’s insurance. Sad that things like medical care are a consideration but they are. Get fixed up before you go!
    -Getting everything fixed. Someone mentioned before but get your car stuff updated or fixed now. Oil change, filters, timing belt, tires, you name it. Get the car in good shape. Same for your house if you can swing it.
    -like Susie’s friend told her – buy it now. Attorneys advised to not hold back spending. Don’t go nuts but spend on normal things so your lifestyle can be established. FW had just retired military and gotten a well paying civilian job and I continue full time employment. Since these changes, we enrolled kiddo in a private school, bought theater season tickets (just as COVID hit unfortunately), and made capital upgrades to the home. I’m currently working on having a high efficiency gas furnace installed. If we sell the house, it is a great selling point. If I get to keep the house, then I only pay half of it and continue to reap the benefit of lower energy bills to heat in the winter.
    -Meeting with a certified divorce financial advisor. This required me to make copies of all the financial documents I could lay hands on so I had to wait for FW to leave the house long enough and for kiddo to not be home to see what I was doing. In fact, doing all these things without kiddo seeing has been as hard as FW not knowing. Anyway… the advisor was a big help. She also had checklists which helped me keep perspective and think of the whole thing as a business transaction. I really needed that after yet another D-day. She really helped me get my arms about what I could manage and expect and she saved copies of everything for me so I wouldn’t have to hide anything anywhere. Some items will need an update but at least I got the ball rolling.
    -Financial preparation with my work/career and more. I have been breaking my neck at work to demonstrate my value to the organization. I help fill in when others are on extended leave, I work overtime when asked, I work on special projects and always thank the higher ups for giving me an opportunity to weigh in. I went from part time to full time and I have been pushing the chain of command above me for a raise. (Our entire organization is on a wage freeze so not looking good there….) Also, any gifts from friends or relatives for my birthday or whatever? All gift cards to places where I can replace household things – discount department stores, home improvement stores, home goods stores, etc. I save them like a squirrel with nuts. I also have had relatives give gifts for kiddo of clothes in the next few sizes. And I have an emergency “go” bag packed and kept with a trusted friend in case FW goes beserk and we need to leave on the fly.

    I have zero guilt for my acting skills right now. I know for a fact he has spent thousands on flights and hotels alone over the years I will never be able to prove. I saw with my own eyes a large box of gifts bought for a schmoopie and her kids. I can never prove how much he wasted while I worked my butt off. If he has to pay for half of my furnace or driveway, I feel zero guilt. I’m not ashamed at all for playing the game. It’s called a golden parachute. I may not end up sitting pretty and will definitely take a big lifestyle hit, but I won’t go down without a fight. Time is buying me an escape plan. I don’t know how much longer I can wait. I think once kiddo is vaccinated and playing with friends and in clubs, I’ll be ready. Maybe by end of this school year. If FW pulls the trigger early, I’m still in a much better position. Eff him.

    • You’ve packed a lot of really valuable info in here, MrWonderful’sEx. Seems you have a solid plan and are ready even if things don’t go according to best case. Impressive. Your nom de plume says it all… he’s your ex.

  • I did not have my ducks in a row. I was totally blindsided. ExH announced his departure on a Sunday afternoon when we were supposed to talk through the finances on a bigger house we were planning to buy. “Surprise! No house. Actually, I’ve been having an affair for a year and I’m leaving you today for her.” I was in complete denial for weeks – this was not the mightiest time in my life. Meanwhile ExH had already been meeting with a divorce lawyer for months, had a plan for what settlement he thought was “fair” and had siphoned off $50k in cash from our joint accounts. Don’t be me! Listen to Chump Lady. Find a lawyer you can afford and plan plan plan.

    • Mine had the settlement all worked out with his lawyer too before Dday. Unfortunately for him, his lawyer was a moron who lived in a trailer park. Same trailer park his whore lived in. Nothing against trailer parks but successful lawyers rarely live there.

      I got a good one and he really took care of me. Cost me about 1200 dollars, but he got me a small house that was fully paid for and a years legal separation where fw had to pay for my house payment, car payment, electric bill (electric heat) and phone bill. I paid the water bill. I don’t remember the full amount it added up to, but it was at least 600 dollars a month, this was back in 1990, so not as expensive as today. Legal separation lasted a year, so I was able to save quite a bit of money. Oh and he had to pay for all the rental properties, and the new river property he had just conned me into signing for.

      But like you I was a mess, I really did need a good lawyer. I was lucky I had credit card statements that showed a lot of money he spent on whore. Judge didn’t like that.

      It took a couple months after Dday, before I started to come out of my own fog, and get really pissed. Until that time I had my lawyer to get pissed for me.

      • Bravo Susie Lee! That’s a truly mighty story! I was fortunate to have a friend who finally dragged me to a top attorney in our city and sat with me while I cried and the lawyer told me what would happen next and what I was likely to get in spousal and child support. It was an important turning point – having to accept it was over and giving the lawyer the go ahead to start fighting for me until I was ready to fight for myself.

        • I am so glad you got the help you needed. At the time my close friend happened to be a receptionist for a lawyer. He was not in family law, but he was able to give me the name of a bull dog female lawyer that had her own firm (not in our city, I didn’t want any lawyer in our city). She couldn’t get me in for a few weeks, but I could see her associate if I wanted an immediate appt. So I took it and he was amazing.

          Yes I was a puddle of pain in our appt and he handled it really well. He assured me, I would have some time to get stronger on the fw’s dime, and once I wrote that retainer, it was amazing how I started to feel better almost instantly.

          I believe the lawyer saved me from a sure poverty. Don’t get me wrong I was not well off, but he got me in a situation where I could survive on my minimum wage job, and start to rebuild my life from a stronger point.

          My fws intent was to saddle me with the marital house and the rental house his mother was living in, and thereby saddling me with her and having to interact with fw and the whore for at least 15 more years. My lawyer said nope, not going to happen, don’t talk to him about any settlement, if he has any issues have his lawyer call me.

          FW only tried to threaten me once, (I hung up on him) but in then minutes or so he called me back to apologize. I just said ok, bye, and hung up again. I wrote a note to my lawyer of the threat and how I handled it; just in case he needed it.

        • It is a moment when you know it is over. I brought documents in to lawyer’s office, paralegal explained FL options including mediation, contested, collaborative, uncontested. I thought, here I go…this is going to suck for a while. I was so petrified. My adult kids encouraged me, said you’re stronger than you think and you’re organized. You can do this. I knew I needed a divorce, I was just afraid of making a decision that would hurt my financial life. That’s where a reputable lawyer comes into play. 2 1/2 years with pandemic issues, finished recently. YAY 🥳

  • Does he own your home? Even if it’s in his name, it’s marital property, so I wouldn’t leave it. I wouldn’t even leave a rented apartment that he’s paying for. He’s supporting you now, and when you go to court, the court will probably take that more seriously if he’s currently supporting you, rather than you shifting for yourself at court date. The court isn’t going to want you & your kids thrown out on the street, so more financial provision for you will likely be made (perhaps even the house) if you’re still living with him at the time this goes to court.

    As for how it “feels”. Well, you’re going to feel crappy for a while whether you leave or stay. I strongly recommend staying and protecting yourself and your children financially to the fullest extent of your ability, rather than fleeing just to put some space between you and him. If he were really decent, he would move out & let you all stay there, but then again, if he were really decent, he wouldn’t have cheated at all.

    Don’t move out until after you have a settlement, and hold out for a good settlement.

  • Never underestimate a cheater marriage partner upon discovery. If there is anything to be gained, the cheater wants to maximize their gain and minimize yours. You can often tell who they are by their
    preoccupation, attempts to control, and priority of money matters. Some can be very calculated, devious, premeditated and diabolical about what was never all theirs to begin with. Especially if the affair has been ongoing and you know nothing of it. This was all planning time for the cheater who had a long head-start and intends to bear down hard at crunch time. They often take advantage of a time of weakness in the life of the spouse (childbirth, illness, death in family, move, etc.) to attack. Many times we look back to see that there was a long time of systematic planning on the cheater’s part to waste the chump. It’s nasty business; please look out for yourself now. Best wishes!

    • I have often wondered about the “time of weakness” aspect.

      My Dday and worst month of the year of discard was the time between TG and Christmas Day. Dday was actually Christmas Day. Not that he confessed, but I caught him on the phone. The night before he was talking in his sleep and he said things like absence makes the heart grow fonder, and talking about picking up the BB gun for (whores sons name).

      He may have been faking sleep talking in order to start the reveal, and then topped it off the next morning early Christmas Day at my sons house by letting me catch him, but I don’t know for sure. We were in AZ and whore was in IN.

      But, my point is, I thought that was unusual, but since then I have read so many cases where it was over the Christmas Holidays, or when the betrayed spouse was going through a bad patch.

    • I agree with you Latitude. The long-distance affair with also married ex gf had been going on for 10 years plus. I had no idea that they were still in contact (thank you friendsreunited). The ex was coldly calculating in his plans to leave. This included using my salary to get a large joint mortgage for what I thought was our forever home nearly exactly 10 years ago. He needed equity and could not achieve that on his own salary. He then watched and waited, patiently, insisting on paying all the mortgage instalments. I made over payments (thus increasing the equity) and paid all bills to balance out. Many months I paid much more than my half share of mortgage and joint bills. During the discard at a party for his horrible mother’s 80th birthday, he shouted at me that he had ‘been paying for everything for years’. I was flabbergasted but found the wit to say ‘that’s not true’. I stopped full time work at age 58 to embark on portfolio career. I had been working since age 16 one way or another. No kids here. He was 51 then. However I injured my knee which took me out of action for 3 months or so, during which time my father died. The ex left me 8 weeks later after 3 months of brutal discard during which time I had no idea what was wrong with him. He had been hiding money (later proved though he described me as ‘obnoxious’ for suggesting that he had done so). He had been filtering off small sums into secret accounts for years while I was very open about my finances. I was accused of not contributing to the mortgage. The documentary evidence proved otherwise. He was ruthless in the way he used and exploited my earning capacity. It was like nothing I had ever seen before. I have turned the situation around with much sweat and tears. At 61 my career is back on track and I am earning well. My advice is don’t assume that there will be a honeymoon period with OW. Know your FW and do due diligence to protect yourself. Think the worst and plan for that.

      Some cheaters do seem to have an ability to be reasonable about the money. Many don’t have that capacity. Assume yours is the latter. Their capacity to use their spouses, for whom they do not care whatever they may say, is shocking. First and foremost be ruthless in protecting and caring for yourself.

  • At age 20 I took my breastfeeding infant and left my first cheater husband with ten dollars, a box of diapers and the clothes that fit in a small cloth overnight bag. My parents bought me a plane ticket to visit but they were not amenable to us staying; his parents took us in for a few months and I started college, got on welfare, bought a cheap used car and after a few months moved out of his parents house into a rented room. All my stuff was old, used, donated, and I was on the verge of hunger for several years.
    But I did it.

  • It sounds like you’re doing what you can to get out, and I wish you the best of luck. I heavily advise you to never again mix your financials up with another man. Love and money can live separately. I’m with a great guy and we keep our money separate, and always will. He can treat me and my kid, I can treat him, etc…but no shared finances. Ever. Ever.

  • Since I haven’t had much time on my hands I figured I’d do an update post in the meantime. There are so many amazing comments on here and I want to reply to all of them but have been strapped for time this past week.

    We’re on the way out!

    I spoke with my injury attorney last week – the settlement is coming very soon as the insurance company paid out last week. I spoke with the attorney prior to the recorded phone call and asked her what my options are, after explaining the situation to her. She gave me a few options – one being to not cash the check until the divorce is final. And she said they can reissue the check as many times as I need them to if that’s how I choose to handle it. I don’t see that being an option since we’re waiting on this money so we can move. Another option is to “spend it down” so there’s less money to question. Another option she said would work is depositing it to my own account (like I had been planning) but she said I’d have to disclose those financials. If I “spend it down”, however, there’s less to disclose. The current plan, and the plan I had before I ever talked this over with her, is to pay at least 4-5 months rent up front. Part of that reasoning is to try and solidify me getting approved for a place.

    I think I’ve found a valid option for an apartment for us for the time being until I can get on solid ground. It’s in my children’s school district and close to my parents and is just big enough for us to get settled. I can’t and won’t move my kids out of their school district as it’s the only stable thing they’ve had since their dad and I divorced. He was always threatening to change their schools and it took a huge toll on them after years of him doing that (which he’d always do when he was mad at ME because he liked keeping me under his thumb). Given all that they’ve been through, the last thing I’d do to them right now is change their school district when that’s where so much of the support has come from for them. Might sound petty to some but it is what it is. I took their dad to court last year (that I’m still paying back now) to get a court order that he can’t change their schools.
    I still have to get an appointment at the complex and go talk to someone but have to find time to make it happen where FW won’t know about it.

    I opened up hard core last week. My boss now knows the extent of what’s been going on and is on board with whatever I need going forward. I told him I may need time off here and there and it could be short notice. He’s good with all of it and just wants us to get out and get into a place where we’re safe. I also talked to my mom and my aunt. Spoke to another friend. Spoke with my kid’s pediatrician, even. Seeing everyone’s reactions validated that I’m doing the right thing by leaving. And, holy shit, I had a ton of bricks lifted from my shoulders in doing so.

    I also sat the kids down and told them what’s getting ready to go down. They are OVER THE MOON. He’s a real asshole to pretty much everyone he’s close to, other than his own children. He does the charismatic, nice guy thing – until he’s roped you in. And he’s a real dick to my kids (which he and I fight about constantly) so they’re thrilled to be leaving.

    Someone asked about child support from my ex – yes, he’s currently paying about $600 a month but the CS worksheet I did put it around $800 per month. And that was before he got a higher paying job and was still paying for the kids’ phones. He’s since since shut their phones off (after one of his many tantrums) so that amount is likely going to be higher. I just don’t have a court order for the CS at this point but I can prove pmt via my bank statements. We’re in the process of getting everything filed and getting a set CS order but it will still be a few months. I’m not concerned too much about that one not going my way – he and his wife have a ton of stuff stacked against them.

    My lunch break is over, yet again. I just wanted everyone to know that we’re finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel! My injury attorney couldn’t have called at a better time last week. I’m starting to feel like I can almost breathe again.

    I will post more when I can and, oh! Yes. Those that mentioned it – you’re correct. I will NEVER again tie my finances or leases (or mortgages if I ever end up buying) to another person again as long as I live. I will NEVER put myself in a position to be removed from a lease behind my back and the locks being changed while I’m at work (ex husband #1) or be told, “You don’t LIKE IT??!!! THERE’S THE DOOR. Leave MY house.” EVER again.

    Much love and hugs to all.

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