Stay in Touch

Check out CL's Book

UBT: ‘Accept My Truth’

Dear Chump Lady,

My children, 4 and 7, and I had a talk the other day. I asked my son why he thought his parents got divorced last winter. He said it was because he was a bad kid. I was heartbroken and explained to them that their mom had a boyfriend (who they live with now) and that because of that we had to get divorced. Her affair partner had to get divorced too and that’s what happens when people want to be together but are married to other people. No editorializing or my own pain mentioned. Clear and at their level.

I had proof of the affair since this past July and read a lot on Chump Lady about how and when to tell the kids. You published my story this September “Ex tells people she’s liberated from a loveless marriage“.

My ex found out and was upset. She went straight on the attack, character assassination, and regurgitated the usual:  I’m a suicidal, alcoholic, porn addict (things she never mentioned when we were married and hunkered down for the pandemic). I had owned the state of my mental health since the beginning and got sober, into therapy and focused on my mental health. She continued to drink and lie for the remainder of our 5 weeks living together before she moved out and in with Lord of the Pinecones. Then she inserted this gem which sums up a lot of the cheater new age take on truth and reality.

“You need to accept my truth. You also need to understand that my life is my truth and your life is your truth. R has said some concerning things that made me think you’re talking about very adult content to our children. You telling our children what you think is my truth is not for you to do. Slandering and talking negatively about the other parent goes against our parenting plan and is detrimental to our children. Our role as parents is to provide them with a supportive loving environment. I think therapy will benefit all of us.”

Yeah a big no to therapy with a narcissist. It would be great theater for her but not healthy for the kids.

Thanks,

Christian

Dear Christian,

You told the kids the truth clearly, without editorializing, or slopping your pain on them. You didn’t gaslight them or let them blame themselves — so, sane parent win there.

I always wonder why the Heart Wants What the Heart Wants narrative is so great, until it’s slander and irreparable harm to the children. Huh. Head scratcher.

Maybe the Universal Bullshit Translator can figure it out.

“You need to accept my truth.

You need to keep the story straight and further my impression management.

You also need to understand that my life is my truth and your life is your truth.

You must accept my truth, but I don’t have to accept your truth. (The actual truth. I have a problem with reality.)

R has said some concerning things that made me think you’re talking about very adult content to our children.

Talking about “very adult content” (aka a boyfriend) is a problem. Being the star in my own pinecone Druid shag fest, not so much.

You telling our children what you think is my truth is not for you to do.

Regardless of what I did, if I THINK it’s not the truth, it isn’t. I did not steal that last cookie. I AM the weight on my drivers license. It is not for you to say otherwise.

Slandering and talking negatively about the other parent goes against our parenting plan and is detrimental to our children.

I’d much prefer our 7-year-old blame himself for the divorce.

Why should I feel a sadz when there’s a kid to take the rap?

Our role as parents is to provide them with a supportive loving environment.

Until such a time as I wish to bail for an orgy in the woods.

I think therapy will benefit all of us.”

I need some reinforcements with this mindfuckery.

***

Christian, no need to respond. You told the truth — age appropriately, without rancor. She doesn’t have to like it. Stay grey rock. She can go pound a pinecone.

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.
  • My only concern here is… if X is this bad, she may be trying to start some documentation to generate a [false but] documented narrative, which, if unrebutted, might *somehow* be used against Christian in the future, like in the legal sphere? I always worry about that angle when i hear stories like this one. I would be sorely tempted to document privately what is not true of what she obliquely suggest in her missive, but I dont’ see how telling her would do any good, so def no contact.

    • I wouldn’t respond. He doesn’t have to confirm or deny what he told his son, in writing. If you read the other letter, this woman had an affair and gave Christian and the kids COVID. So, if I were her, I wouldn’t want my behavior going in front of a judge.

      But yes, over all, chumps need to be careful on the whole parental alienation front. I still come down on the side of telling children in age appropriate ways without editorializing. Because otherwise, it’s a secret, and kids blame themselves — and you — for gaslighting them.

      • Yes. I thought a lot about this over the past few months. I don’t really talk about their mom or the AP. My kids share a little but mostly about his two kids. The kids and I went through a lot of pain over the winter while they partied and fell madly in love. She never felt their pain IMHO mostly because of being a narcissist. They knew I suffered deeply but I didn’t involve them in what had happened. I know it was the right thing to do. This community helped me realize that and set strong boundaries on what I will accept in my new life. Thank you!
        Christian

        • From a legal perspective, there’re pluses and minuses to responding to something like this and some of it depends on your local court system and what they like to see in terms of parent communication. This is one reason why having a local attorney who understands the local court is valuable. For example, mine advises me to respond neutrally and simply, so that we can demonstrate to the court that I don’t stonewall the other parent, as our local family court judges seem to be sensitive to this issue.

          If you were to respond, I suggest a simple “I always communicate with our children in honest and age appropriate ways and reliably adhere to the agreed-upon parenting plan.”

          Along with any reply, and as always, you should be documenting each and every transgression from the parenting plan that she makes and each irresponsible parenting decision she makes…I do this by sending emails to myself on the date of the transgression that describes it and any negative reaction to it from my daughter…like a date-stamped diary entry. I do my best to write factually and neutrally, like a police report, so that if I need to submit these email entries to a judge, she can easily follow them.

          Best of luck! Sharing custody with a narcissist is absolutely miserable. I handle this by documenting everything and involving 3rd party communicators to deal with him.

          I also agree that therapy with a narcissist is generally terrible, but I will say that a recent video therapy session with my ex and child (who is undergoing significant mental health problems that are partially associated with her dad’s behavior) could not have gone better. The therapist was clearly trained to deal with this kind of person and continued to hold his feet to the fire and allow my daughter the space and support to speak her truth. He was held 100% accountable for his behavior, even when he turned on the self-pity channel and started crying, the therapist persisted with statements like “I like that you’re being vulnerable however this volume of emotion from a parent is too much to ask a young teenager who is already struggling to handle. This is a kind of feeling that you, as the parent, should be processing with your own professional help.” It was fantastic and validating for me, to say the least. It almost made up for the shit sandwich of having to do that therapy session to begin with.

          • I have tried from the beginning, even before actually filing, to go no contact and have all communication go through attorney because I had come to understand how deceptive and accusatory and psychologically manipulative my husband was.

            This was more than 2 years ago and we are still in never ending divorce hell. At the time there were two teens still living at home. Now just one minor age 17.

            My attorney made it very very clear—and has repeated this even when I am bombarded with difficult stuff from husband—that I MUST communicate about anything related to the minor children. Otherwise I will be seen as not a good co-parent.

            My husband understand this and uses it. In reality he is not involved with the kids but he pretends to be with well timed emails or texts to them. He is being incredibly aggressive in his litigation and often puts the kids needs against him just getting whatever he wants or hurting me.

            But he knows I have to respond politely.

            So he sends me emails “about the kids” that have little digs or questions or statements that refer to other things. Like sometimes one email on one day where he is being really awful about something, and then same day or the next, sometimes to another email address I have, he will send another email “about the kids” that refers to the cruel or painful thing.

            He does it so politely that for me to say “he is harassing me” would be laughed at. He just refers to other things—and often those other things are incredibly painful memories—or they are things he did that themselves were layers and layers of half truths and accusations that would take too long to explain to someone who did not know the back context. We have a thing now going on more than a year where he keeps finding ways to remind me about a really horrible thing he layered related to health care. Just two days ago I got yet another email. With just a little reminder in there.

            Sometimes he sets it up so I have to do something harmful to myself or the kids in order to respond. Often he is trying to get me to make statements he can use in his endless litigation. And he will have catch 22 situations in what he says and asks.

            Often he says things that are outright lies. Setting himself up as caring about education or medical care or whatever—when behind the scenes his actions were incredibly destructive to our young adult children in these things. So then I have to respond because he has included something about the minor child, and He knows I will be fuming or have to contradict or admit.

            One time I called him out about a truly egregious lie he set up related to some significant medical care for our son. He had delayed for many many weeks. His lie was a series of elaborate things with timing and delays and him posing and gathering documents behind the scenes. I called him out on it because it was so so bad. And I had to respond.

            And of course his response was something like “I find it difficult to work with you when you question my motives as a parent. I accept that you believe I am the villain in all this, but will you please keep your opinions out of things so we can take care of xxxx’s medical care?”

            I have started responding as someone else has advised—I do not say anything negative. Not that I did before except for that one thing I refer to above.

            Now when he attacks my character or actions I instead take the negative thing he says about me and make it a positive.

            “I am a respectful person who always considers the needs of other people.”

            “I am a polite person who sees herself as no better or worse than anyone else.” (He had accused me of being entitled and demanding when I asked for a receipt after depositing a $1300 medical reimbursement to a shared health spending account after two months of him not responding to my request to access the account to make the deposit.)

            It is so horrible.

      • Maybe this could be helpful: My lawyer advised me to respond to these with one statement, “I disagree with your characterization.”

        • “I disagree with your characterization.”

          So much better than “this is my truth and this is your truth” bullshit. Truth is truth there is no ambiguity.

      • He doesn’t have to argue with her, but I agree with NotANiceChump that a neutral, NON-ARGUMENTATIVE response is a good idea – there are a lot of little things that suggest she is trying to create a paper trail.

        Something like: “We obviously disagree on the facts and events you’re referring to, but I don’t think it would be productive or helpful to our children to argue about them. Let’s agree to keep our discussions civil and focused on what we need to do to co-parent the children cooperatively.”

        And it helps if you can throw in a pivot to something neutral and informational: “Setting that aside, please let me know what time you’d like me to drop Junior off this Sunday”, or “I’ve confirmed with the real estate agent that you’ll be receiving papers sometime this week”, etc.

        • That would work if you were dealing with a normal person.

          Christian’s ex is not a normal person. Any response opens the floodgates to verbal abuse, and it’s then like having to turn a fire hydrant off.

          • It does often open the floodgates, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Chump’s reasonable and calm communication followed by Cheater’s crazed ranting can look very good, if one has to go to court, or, when Cheater’s lawyer sees that documentation, can keep us out of court.

            And it’s not Chump’s job to turn off the hydrant. Ignore ignore ignore. Respond only to the practical concrete stuff. If it’s too hard to receive those nasty emails, get someone you trust to screen them for you, and just inform you of the practical stuff that requires action or a response. Communication by email or through co-parenting software only, except in case of a 911-type of emergency.

    • I worry about that too, as my stbx says “just bc you say it doesn’t make it the truth.” He wants to be the dictator of what is the truth and what is not, and if it fits into his image. He is very quick to say I am slandering him and that he’ll sue me if I continue. I just say the truth isn’t slander. I do worry as we will be telling the children soon and in his typical manner will want to control the narrative. I guess that will organically unfold with time. They knew two of the ap’s as he introduced us to them, but they were so young I’m not sure how much they remember.

      • My ex is the same. He always says „that is your truth, not mine“ What does that even mean? I am just glad he is the ex

  • I hope the fact(s) of the infidelity and substance abuse are also contained in the divorce settlement/parenting plan. This may allow concerns to be directed to a lawyer, if needed.

  • Rebuttals like this from cheaters who think they have done no wrong and who go on the attack when people don’t “accept their truth” are exactly why we go grey rock when we are forced to parallel-parent with them for the next couple of decades or so.

    I can’t recall how many emails I got from my FW, happily nestled into his new cozy nest with the GF#3/Wifetress, that looked like this before I stopped using email as our communication medium. Not only was it not quick, it gave him too much space to “tell his truth.” Around the same time I started going grey rock, I also moved to text only communication with him. The nature of texting definitely shortened his diatribes. There were a few of his diatribes that trickled through, here and there (learning how to communicate with this man whom I formerly adored and thought of as my best friend in the whole world in a polite grey rock manner was a skill I was still learning), but the flow of them did slow down once I stopped speaking to him on a personal level (business only!) and moved our dialogue to text messaging which favors shorter messages over longer ones. In time (we’re talking years but all good things take time), his texts became to the point and grey rock ish as well–thank goodness! I can’t imagine what my mental and emotional health would have looked like if I kept the door open to communication avenues that encouraged more dialogue… like emails or, heaven forbid, phone calls. I got my first texting style phone after FW left for the last time (hey, phones were expensive, I was a poor single parent, and I’m usually late to the new tech party anyway) and it was one of the best investments I ever made. I always said that being able to text the X was a huge blessing: quick, informative, and as impersonal as you can get.

    I shudder when I recall the days when FW and I emailed each other. He told a lot of “his truths” in those missives. Reading them always made me want to throw up. Texting with him has done so much good for my mental health. We get straight to the point and then stop the conversation. (“When are you picking the kids up?” “5:30 today. I’m running late.” “Okay.” Boom. The end.)

    Christian, time to work on your grey rock communication game. It takes time to develop but you’ll get there. Remember what CL says: “Is this acceptable to you?” For me, reading long, blameless, telling “my truth” emails from my cheating husband, typed on his mistress’s computer, was not acceptable (although it took time for me to learn this). I felt so much better when I was able to move the dialogue to text and then a million times better when those texts became, over time, grey rock.

    Business only. I have no time for “his truth.”

    • I email only. Then it’s automatically documented.

      I don’t text because it is private. (legal advice I got which I agree with in my case).

      An email is better than texting for documentation purposes. I’ve been able to instantly access very old emails which have come back to haunt him and been glad I had them.

      And remember, whether it’s a text, email, or a letter, or someone speaking to you in person, you don’t have to continue reading or listening to anything if you start feeling upset. Many people feel that they have to catch a football if it coming their way. The art of Not Reading and Ending the Conversation has been a helpful tool for me and a daily practice…..

      • Agree that email is better for documentation. However there are tools that can make it easier to save and backup text messages. I had to do that as a way of documenting my FW’s verbal abuse.

      • Thanks for this, very well put. I too have used old emails to ding my ex in court, and if he texts me something even remotely controversial, I’ll screen shot his text and attach it to an email, then reply. Much stronger evidence in court. I’ve told him that I do this because it’s far easier for me to type on a keyboard than with my thumbs on a small screen…and this is true. Also true is it provides reliable and usable documentation of his parenting transgressions…and also his temper and bad attitude…because eventually, he will email me back something real nasty. This can be used to show a judge that he is very difficult to deal with.

    • I’m with VH.. It’s important to document the crazy and hard to prove the authenticity of a printed out text. They can be easily faked, but an email has the information of the sender’s IP, date and time sent, etc. right in it. Plus with email you can route their missives to the spam folder. I favor going even further and having an entirely separate email just for the ex, which you only go into when you’re feeling strong. That way you can’t possibly be hit unpepared by a blast of bullshit in your regular inbox or text messages.
      But if your ex isn’t crazy enough that documenting it is neccessary, whatever works. Some of them keep sending threats and attacks for years no matter what you do.

      • I never had to go to court for anything and FW signed over full custody to me right away, so documentation was far less of an issue for me and forcing him to text shorter, less emotionally damaging messages was my priority. And for that I know I’m super lucky. Keeping and recording those horrid emails is definitely something that everyone involved in the divorce or some sort of legal proceedings should do. I’m privileged and grateful that I can rely on his less damaging texts, but the advice given here above to keep things in email form for documentation is definitely more appropriate.

        • I never went to court in my divorce, nor did I have a custody fight. But catching him in lies and history revision is an ongoing issue. He also began to get nasty, sarcastic, flip, dismissive, and mean in texts. So I said no more texting.

          Like meeting at a restaurant and being in public, the knowledge that emails are documentable sometimes keeps people behaving better using the written word than using text, which I found to be verbal abuse-enabling. That’s the reason I put an end to texting.

      • I got our family wizard as only communication. All it has done is document his verbal attacks and abuse on me. According to the wonderful legal system and advice of several attorneys, this only proves he is abusing me, it doesn’t prove he is harming the children. So no one will do anything about it. My advice unless it’s a direct question, ignore or you will get 40 more messages of ranting. If you feel the need to respond “That is your opinion, not fact.” Or “I do not appreciate you portraying me in a negative light. Or “I am following the parenting plan”. Expect them to send 40 more responses, only respond once or it never ends. My attorney actually told me unless it requires a response don’t respond and if he is slandering or name calling, don’t defend yourself- it’s a waste of time.
        Good Luck to all – Parallel Parenting is only option with a narcissist psycho sociopath.

      • Use a parent communication site. There are a bunch of free ones out there. Ask your lawyer which one they use. Judges prefer them because nothing is missing, everything is timed and dated, and since lawyers monitor everything for court purposes, the parties tend to be more rational and less dramatic or arrogant.

        If you must email, send everything through (and to) your lawyer. That way, you never screw up, and s/he has a complete case file at the ready. Even though they’ll charge you, it won’t be more than ¹/⁴ hour paralegal time at most, and they won’t have a bunch of prep work to do if and/or when you go to court. Prepping cases when you have gaps and have to track down, or compensate for, missing documents costs a shit-ton more than when clients keep you up-to-date and informed.

        Also, when the fuck did the truth become relative? There’s no such thing as “my truth” or “your truth.” Truth is not something you own. It exists independently of anyone’s point of view. I wish people would stop thinking that their perspective is truth. That’s the shit that starts wars. Two things they ought to teach in kindergarten: 1. you don’t own the truth. 2. Listen to and empathize with other perspectives.

  • What is it with cheaters wanting therapy? Mine keeps asking. It continues to be a hard NO from me.

    • They are arrogant enough to feel they can control the narrative with a therapist, and score potential points against their ex which they feel will go ‘on the record’.

    • Because they often manipulate the therapist into partnering with them in blaming the victim. It gives them a huge ego/kibble boost. Couples therapy is (mostly) a total mess.

      • Yes. It becomes a threesome where the abuser and therapist team to silence and psychologically control the abused partner.

        Only assholes EVER require their own truth. To circumvent basic moral outrage and it’s consequences.

        Run from people who spout personal truth gibberish in future. It’s guaranteed you are dealing with a mindfucker.

        Silence is the best thing. Check out Bill Eddy’s work about communicating with
        and divorcing manipulative and disordered people.

        Maintain your integrity and tact. It’s your best defense.

      • I truly believe that is what they hope for in therapy, and is the only reason they suggest it. Otherwise, why bother? THEY certainly don’t need fixing.

        • I agree, this is what happened during one of our therapy sessions.

          Cheater walks in, fake concern, sits next to me, rubs my back, (totally out of character) therapist asks how he is, he replies with, isn’t she beautiful? referring to me. (yeah, right). manipulation begins, plays the victim, he loves me so much, does everything for me, I’m never happy, he can’t make me happy, grabs a tissue, pretends to dab tears… What’s your problem Brit?
          You have a great guy, who adores you… why can’t you just be happy? Be happy Brit or you’re going lose this great guy.

          Cheater and I leave and get into the car, Cheater bursts out laughing and says doesn’t look like we need a follow up appointment.

          • that must have been a truly horrible experience. I’m so sorry. My ex never let on that he was lying to all our marriage counselor or to his individual counselors until I ended things… and never to my face, only to our daughter… that was also terrible, but somehow the horrific in your face that your ex did is worse.

        • Yes Ivy, they don’t think they need fixing. Their agenda is to puppeeter, seek advantage and control outcomes.

          Christian is dealing with a AAA moron, and she would just leverage his mental health issues against him.

          She is seeking psychologically sanctioned window dressings for her side show circus predilections.

    • Yeah therapy and narc cheating assholes don’t mix. When I tried to get my ex wife to go for couples therapy she made it 2 sessions and stopped going because the great therapist told her how it was. Told her she needed to end her affair. Ex wife didn’t like that so that was a wrap.
      Next the ex wife thought it would be great for the kids to do therapy and counseling. I agreed of course as the kids had a sparkle dick and his 5 kids forced on them. That lasted a few sessions as the kids told the therapist everything about their mom and her AP. Ex wife didn’t like all the dirt out there. So the kids therapy was over quick. So yeah narcissists hate when their shit comes to light.

      • Same experience. The therapist was great. She set strict conditions on therapy. Worked for me, but for the cheater, not so much. She focused on owning our choices, which is a hard reckoning, but impossible for those dependent on blaming others for their own actions. Lasted six weeks. Therapist told me in solo session that I had nothing to work with and I would eventually see this as the best outcome.
        Yep.
        Remarried happily and great relationship with my adult kids.
        No contact with her.

      • Couple therapist was also very good, after Cheater Narc’s first affair. Diplomatic and calm, but kept coming back to Cheater Narc owning his choices. Result; therapy did not last long. Stupid me, I didn’t see that for the four-alarm red flag that it was.

        Same therapist saw Cheater Narc w/the kids after affair #2 (which finally got me to kick him out definitively). Ex had blown up his relationship with the kids. Therapy allowed the kids to process their feelings, to speak clearly with him in a safe environment, and … to see that he is a hopeless case. Super sad, but very helpful for the kids.

        A GOOD therapist is a huge gift when there’s infidelity. The Esther Perel’s of this world? Not so much ….

    • I get that request about once per year. I’m pretty sure XW thinks a therapist will force me to be friendly with her. Not that she actually cares whether we’re friends, but she thinks it will put pressure on me to have fewer boundaries and say “yes” to her demands more often. It’s a reasonable strategy.

      • ^ wow Involuntary Georgian, this is exactly what my STBX did. He emailed me to read a book and do a marriage exercise that involved me having to compliment him. I didn’t. Then he called about it. I still didn’t. Next session, what do you know, therapist gives us a photocopied worksheet. Insert eye roll. Anything for kibbles.

    • They like it as long as they think it will be a chance for them to use the therapist to gang up on you and validate their narrative that you are so horrible they had to cheat.

      They just want a professional to say they’re right.

      They don’t like the idea of therapy when the therapist actually calls them on their shit.

    • My cheater never just said “I have decided to leave this marriage”… no, he said he had to go because I was a terrible wife (cue pick-me dance), then it was “if the MC says we should divorce, will you go along?” (No, why should a stranger decide if we stay married or not).
      The trouble is that he didn’t own his shit.

      Looking way back, he tried to “postpone” our wedding with the excuse that I still had feelings for an ex. I assured him I didn’t.
      I was too obtuse to see the 🚩of him trying to postpone the wedding. He was a coward. He didn’t want to be “that guy who left his wife for OW”.

      He should have said “I have decided to not get married” or “I am leaving this marriage”. Instead he was a mean and manipulative asshole

    • While we were still divorcing, my ex suggested therapy so we could learn to be better friends after the divorce. Oh and this “invitation” was accompanied by a link to an Esther Perel podcast. Because of course. We don’t have any children to parent or anything like that.

      One reason they do this is that the mere act of going to couples therapy in the first place feeds into the illusion they want to create that there are “two sides” to the breakdown of the marriage. Mine absolutely wanted to pretend what had happened was that we just had different communication styles or something and not that he’s a cheating asshole. The cherry on top for them is that when the chump refuses, on the reasonable ground that wasting your own time and money on couples therapy won’t make the ex any less of an asshole, they can say to themselves that this would have worked if the chump wasn’t so much of an unforgiving jerk.

      • Yes. It’s a mindfuck.

        This is why gray rock, No Contact, and making a life AWAY from these people is essential for recovery.

        And as for remaining ‘friends’ … 😱

      • What is it with cheaters?

        Sure, I violated you in the most intimate way possible. I lied, risked your health, told my fuck buddies all the ways you disappointed me sexually and emotionally. I spent our money fucking around.

        But we can be friends, right?

        It’s just bitchcrackers.

      • It is shit.
        The 2 sides statement is crap too. Rewrite history and have everyone agree.
        Two sides to every story and you are a douche in both!

    • Mine is only interested in therapy when he wants to control someone who isn’t cooperating and is hoping the therapist will back him up. He usually drops out again when he finds out he is supposed to improve too. The fist whiff of therapist doesn’t agree with him 100% on everything and he’s out. When I tried to get him to get individual counseling he refused. That would imply there is something wrong with him.

    • Simply state that since you two are no longer a couple, couples therapy is no longer applicable or appropriate. Let them know that they are free to pursue individual treatment options though. (They won’t, LOL) What they want is an audience & control. Give them neither.

    • I generally agree, but recently underwent a group video therapy session with my ex, our daughter, and one of her therapists (yes, she needs to have many at the moment, unfortunately). He pulled out all the standard narc tricks, but the therapist was clearly versed in this type of person and wasn’t having it and held him accountable again and again for the way he’s behaved toward our daughter and the over-the-top response he was having during therapy to her speaking her truth about his behavior. As terrible as the session was, just generally, that part was very gratifying. Especially gratifying was watching my daughter get validated by a professional in a way that I never was when dealing with him.

    • Mine asked to go to therapy a week before D-Day, when things were absolutely horrible between us and I still had no idea why. Then he suggested we go after I filed for divorce. Why??

      • They ask you to go to counseling after you file or leave because:

        1) To get a therapist to gang up with them to get you to accept the blame so it’s the narrative that’s agreed upon. The cheater can then use this for impression management.

        Btw, they do this because it works. Marriage counselors routinely blame chumps because chumps are the only ones who will accept any blame and fuckwits will bolt from therapy if expected to be accountable for themselves. Fuckwit already knows he/she is just going to bolt if blamed, and can then claim it was a bad therapist, that you lied to the therapist, wouldn’t do the work, blah blah blah, all the things that are actually true of the fw, not of you. So fw figures he/she can’t really lose on the deal, because it is only about impression management. “I tried! We went to therapy, totally MY idea, but Yalla just wouldn’t cooperate!” Like that.

        2) To try to get you to halt the divorce. Fuckwit has realized what it will cost him/her to go live on Fantasy Island. After all, why can’t we just be separated and let fuckwit live with AP and not give us a dime, plus drop in occasionally for sex with the ex? Or why can’t we just stay with fw and let him/her cheat so fw can use our services and not take a hit financially?

        3) To use a therapist to convince you to feel sorry enough for them that you will not hold them to the terms of the divorce they don’t like, which is pretty much everything. After all, fw isn’t a bad person, fw just has ISSUES. The therapist said so. So go easy on poor fw, you big meanypants.

        My fw was 2. I laughed and said no. That was that.

        I suspect your fw asked you to go to counseling a week before Dday to prepare you to take the blame for him leaving.

    • Cheaters want therapy with you to further control and abuse you. Most therapists don’t understand that dynamic and often become another tool for abuse. I went through that, and it was very traumatizing.

  • I told my kids the truth (they were 11 & 9) “Daddy had a girlfriend and her name is {Wifetress’s name}. I knew she wasn’t going anywhere; she thought he had money.

    Kids are not stupid.

    • Did the same. Told the kids mommy has a boyfriend. Told them that’s why they’ve been seeing this man come into our house uninvited. Kids need to know these things. Like my ex wife’s AP was our neighbor, their moms work buddy, and one of dads fellow youth coaches. They needed to know why all of a sudden their is 5 other kids in our house now. Without saying anything negative they know their mom is a whore.

  • The child not blaming himself for something his mother chose is the important thing here. The father did well, he kept to the facts.

    The ex is a typical cheat; more than happy to let the kid suffer so she can maintain her story.

    The dad is best not to answer his ex, put nothing in writing with an a-hole. And assume they are taping you if you call them.

  • It’s over, Christian. Two adults left a marriage. Now two adults have to parent young children independent of one another. One adult has cheating proclivities; the other is working through mental health issues. It’ll be awhile, if ever, that your ex and you find some common ground that benefits the children. So…it’s now up to you to give those young children sanity and a stable value system to take forward in their lives. Ex may never connect the dots or be that benefit to your children. You can be. Be open to growth, change and becoming the best you can be forward. That’s what’s going to help your children see where honor, strength, courage, character and love is. It took years to get into this mess; it’ll take a few to back out of it. Wishing you and your children the best.

    • Latitude69
      🙌100 per cent
      The Children, the innocent Children, one blaming himself.
      🙌100 per cent, your words!

      When Children are involved it can tear your heart apart.
      ( ask me how I know)💞

      • Peacekeeper! ❤️

        How this affects our children is the thing that inspires the most anger in me. You can see it in my post below….

        cheaters effect on children = 🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬🤬

    • Thank you for sharing. I appreciate what you said and know that I have my own work still to do. I’m s teacher and a parent to two great kids. I have a puppy who is pure love and a great house. I still struggle, at 46, with who I am and have lost a lot of relationships from the fallout but I feel stronger everyday.

  • It is sad that filth like this live in comfort while children and better people die off in war zones and famines.

  • Good Morning Christian,
    I take solace in your story as it’s similar to mine with the exception that my freak and her “Buddy” conspired to gaslight me out of parenting at all, so I’m no contact / grey rock for all the wrong reasons but understand that it’s still the best for me cuz my ex’s truth sounds a lot like your ex’s. As it is, my children are all under 3 and though one of them still remembers me, I’m nothing to them at the moment because my ex’s “Buddy” thinks crappy BJs usurps my relationship with my children— he literally threatens me to keep me from them and my ex agrees and loves him, so no-win situ for me.
    I’m assuming the gaslighting ends one day, and these awful humans will cheat on each other and look for the next sucker. I’m sure my ex will come calling in a few years, “oh, just a little scuff, what’s the big deal?” as modern pronouns are wont to do, however my truth will take a great lesson from your truth. Hold the line, no contact, remember she sucks. When my children are old enough to hear the truth, they’ll get a sane parent from me. I appreciate your wisdom on this depressing day.
    Xioba Xioba

  • I can’t quite process the original letter for this one. Feels like pages were ripped out of the story book. Hard to know what to think when that’s true — because I can see that the clarification of certain details here might impact my points of view significantly.

    I’m not ok with it, as a rule when a monogamous partner sneaks away to another relationship. That appears to be what the letter says, and I agree, that stinks, circumstances notwithstanding. And the cheater doesn’t get to dictate the terms of how an abused person tells the kid about their reasons for choosing divorce.

    Would need to know more to have more opinions than that. (I see the possibility that there could be two troubled souls here. It would be important for honesty on all topics to be included in big talks with the kids for any revelations to be truly fair and appropriate. That’s the part that’s less clear to me here, so I can’t speak to the exchange as it is characterized in the original letter.)

    • I agree with you and appreciate the fact that you’re being circumspect with your comments.
      I have to say that on balance, when mental health and addiction issues are present there can be two versions of the truth from the perspective of the two people that were living with it. Having said that, I also agree entirely with CL’s fundamental point that adults can and should use their words, not their genitals, to address their problems. That is not in doubt.

      • Thanks for sharing. I did have mental health struggles and these were amplified during the pandemic. I stayed home with the kids the majority of that time and tried to support my marriage. My ex never communicated her concerns or her issues with me except to lean down one morning and whisper “I need more”. The marriage was clearly toxic and I am glad to be free.I didn’t deserve to be cheated on and lied to. Despite all her complaints against me she left me to care for our children while she plotted with her AP to leave me.

  • “Truth” to cheaters takes several chapters in their handbook, I’m pretty sure. Because they have to consider using only details they are absolutely certain you already know, making the narrative sympathetic to themselves in some way, managing their image with others, making the fault of all unpleasantness be fully on you, and on and on. It is quite a dance. I find it satisfying to respond with total silence and just leave him out their spinning and wondering which parts of his “truth” need improvement.

  • Yes, kids are not stupid.

    We separated, and he decided that he wanted to live in another state while we supposedly worked on things. Our college kids knew that was bogus and asked me immediately if there was another woman. I was still taking hopium and said, “Of course not.” As time went on, they basically gave up on him. He threw our lives into chaos, and they told me repeatedly that they didn’t want anything to do with someone like that. I continued to take hopium, and they basically stopped talking about him and would leave the room if I mentioned him. Finally a year into the separation, I gave up on reconciliation, and my ex kicked off the divorce some months later.

    So he accused me of parental alienation and even tried to put some of that into his self-written divorce agreement. As if they would even talk about him with me! When I got my own attorney and had him review that document, of course, he totally had a fit about that and another 20-30 issues that he flagged. My attorney and his associate wrote a solid agreement and eventually, we did get it signed, but not without major upheaval. The college kids continued to live with me as commuter students, and they watched how many appointments it took and how stressed I was. They knew we were on the edge financially. They asked about certain things and why it was taking so long, and I gave them the basics, keeping it factual.

    And yet I alienated them? When I discussed that with my attorney, he said that even if they were younger, no judge would ever call that alienation. It was abandonment, and they had a right to find that painful and to choose not to have anything to do with him.

    I came out of it convinced that he truly never would be happy with me no matter what I did and that accusing me was just part of the territory. If they had been younger, certainly I would have refused any joint counselling and carefully documented what was discussed with them.

    Yes, “Accept My Truth.” Arg…

  • Indeed, this FW sees nothing wrong with allowing her tormented child to shoulder the blame for the demise of the marriage. Not uncommon for a Cheater to be a COWARD.
    CL has it 💯 correct. This is impression management and attempted control tactic to get ahead of the narrative (truth) getting out. Ummm does FW think the masses cannot figure it out? She’s LIVING with her AP!!!!
    Never forget, narcissists always consider themselves to be the smartest person in the room (and beyond) and they believe their own BS so think everyone else should believe it too.
    It goes with the territory for Sane Parent to not allow a child to be gaslit.

    • Yeah very accurate about the arrogance and bring the smartest person in the room. Unfortunately for her I am a highly intelligent person and she’s not that bright.

  • I have been a long-time lurker here and agree with mostly everything that is said here. I feel the anger, and the frustration and pathos in many of these letters. What I am struggling with, however, is disclosing to young children that one of their parents is having/has had an affair. It is the truth obviously, but having had my parents divorce when I was 8, and then re-living it as an adult with an 8 and 6 year-old, I don’t see how this in any way helps a child deal with this trauma. I didn’t tell my kids because I needed to have a stable working relationship with the ex – for the benefit of my children. They need stability at this phase in their lives, and if it meant eating shit sandwiches for years to provide that stability, it was better I sacrificed and felt that they were ok, than giving them information that would only complicate things and honestly confuse them.

    In the end, in the teenage years, they started putting 2 and 2 together and they eventually figured it out with no help from me. But, no, that information, although factual, would not have helped my kids during the divorce or even in the years that followed. The foundation upon which a child’s world is built is shaken dramatically in these moments (I know, I lived it. The memory is indelible). Mostly everything I have done since D-day, etc. has been predicated on the idea that my kids needed whatever stability I could muster for them.

    Just my opinion of course.

    Also, since it’s my first post – to all the folks who are newly experiencing this: Hang in there. Know that you are in the early stages of taking your life back. You will have victories, and you will make mistakes. But you will get where you need to be. Take care of your kids. All will be well.

    • “What I am struggling with, however, is disclosing to young children that one of their parents is having/has had an affair.”

      Because the child is blaming himself for the divorce. He isn’t the cause.

      “Mommy had a boyfriend; I divorced her” sums up what Christian said to his children. He’s not lying and he’s not sharing intimate details. If FW doesn’t like it, then FW should have asked for a divorce before acquiring a boyfriend.

      • I understood. And thanks for the response.

        I (as a child) and my kids struggled with the idea of ‘fault’. In fact, this is very common in many instances of divorce.

        As an adult, I explained that what happened was not their fault and that it was between their mother and me. They were too young (in my opinion) for the details.

        My parents divorced when I was 8. Thinking I was at fault was agonizing. I didn’t want my kids to feel that way.

        My kids figured out the truth later. Narcissists don’t change.

        For the record, my ex married the guy. I get the anger.

        There isn’t a right/wrong answer here. You do what is best to protect your children. I choose the path that made the most sense to me based on my personal experience of having been that child. Again, just my experience/opinion.

        • I waited to disclose the cheating fact to my daughter until she was older and basically asked directly. I did this because, at the time, I really wanted her to build as good of a relationship with her dad as she could, for her own emotional development. And I knew that if she knew he had cheated, even at 10, she would shut him out. And, that’s pretty much what has happened.

          As with most kids, by her early teens she pieced it together so I just confirmed what she already knew…her dad made that easy, she caught him trolling dating sites even though he’s supposedly in a committed relationship with a young women that my daughter views as her step mom. I hate that my daughter now has to deal with these adult issues, and I’m glad she was shielded from that for as long as she was. At her age, at least, she can better process all of it.

          This was right for me and my kid. But, from the get I was very clear and consistent (and persistent!) with my messaging that our divorce had nothing to do with her…and she never internalized it that way. However, if she had asked directly about her dad cheating, at any age, I would have told her the truth. That’s the right thing to do, IMO.

          • My long winded comment omitted that I think there are dozens of “right” ways to handle this type of situation. I think it’s fine to tell a younger child their parent cheated, and I think it’s fine to wait to disclose that until their older and can process it better. Mostly, I think the most important thing is to show them strength and resiliency and keep your emotional baggage and derisive commentary to yourself.

          • Thanks for saying so eloquently what it took me multiple posts to get to (not sure I even made it there…)!

            I have always tried (not always successful) to do what I thought best for the kids, regardless of the impact to the ex. As a child of divorce, I felt that this was the best approach based on my experience.

            I lost a relationship over this as my former partner felt that every decision I made should have a negative consequence on my ex.

            My fiancé and I (she is also a chump) are more in alignment on this approach with our kids. It took over 4 decades to find her but it was worth the wait.

            Your mileage may vary. 😉

            • Interestingly, on a similar point I spent the weekend with MIL (we get on and I try to keep up a relationship with my daughter and her only grandparents, both on his sides as both my folks are dead). She has been vilified by my EX and it’s pretty clear that both him and OW have had a few things to say about me, we know a lot of it is lies and my daughter hears it. She was (rightly) aggrieved that my daughter might believe some of these lies to be true and is for putting her right but I talked her out of it. I said, yeah it is wrong, but I just don’t think it’s for my daughter to sit in the middle of two people saying she said that, no she didn’t when they are grown adults. It’s soooooo soooo hard sometimes not to say something back but I always feel it’s too much for her and it’s so emotional. She seems to have lapped up what they say but I just think in time things will be clearer for her. I can’t imagine how confused I would be when I was her age. They could very well then control the narrative and her be young enough that that becomes what she remembers. So sometimes I’m not sure silence is the best option and others times I think it is. I am always on the fence. I didn’t tell her he had an affair and did the ‘mutual split’ conversation but I only found out about the affair afterwards and I wish to god how I had made him tell her and tell her alone and I would 100% have made him say it was his decision to go.

              We would talk about OW and him now, 3 years on about having had an affair if it came up with friends but not in a heated way. A very good friend of mine who she is close to say, well your dad did what mine did (an affair) in a very matter of fact way.

              I so wish this wasn’t happening to my child, it’s the bit that cuts me up.

              • For what it’s worth – your child has you and it is clear that you are thoughtful and love them. That matters more than anything. If you can, try and have the faith that that love will conquer this. Your family’s trajectory may have changed and even been redefined radically, but you will be better for all of this. I’m 10 years out and I am thankful that my life unraveled in this way. I may have stayed otherwise. I honestly feel lucky now. Go figure. Hang in there.

    • My now husband chose to function similar to you with respect to his daughter. His xw up and left to seek green grass and start to date (it seems she waited until they were in sep dwellings before she started dating but she ignored that she left her elderly father with her then-husband. He pick-me danced for 6 months then gave up.

      After the divorce (where she walked away with hundreds of thousands $) she asked him if they could remarry (apparently the green grass wasn’t so green) and he declined. She told their preschool->school age daughter that she “tried to reconcile” and he refused. Threw blame on him. He waited until she was about 15 or 16 to explain his side – he was very gracious in how he described his experience.

      I kind of wish he had told her more earlier, but I never told my kids what their dead dad did, so I haven’t earned the right to criticize.

      I think I made a mistake not being more honest with my kids but he changed his story & plan by the minute so whatever I would have said he would have argued was wrong/inaccurate.

    • Well…in this case, a child has said that he thinks he is the reason for the divorce. Letting a child live with that belief until as a teenager he puts 2 and 2 together does not seem to me a situation that would have helped his child.

      As someone who lived with the idea that I was the reason I was sexually abused–a common response of those who are sexually abused–I can say with as much conviction as you muster about your own situation that the effects of that mistaken impression were great and long-lasting, and that I am still, 60 years after the fact, attempting to redress it and heal. So I come down on the side of “help the child understand that the split is not his fault.”

      • I am sorry for you experience. Truly.

        I think that what I’m saying is that it’s important to ensure that your kid(s) understand that none of this is their fault. I just choose to do that without sharing those details. It may not be an either/or.

        That’s it.

      • Great point! You’re describing something incredibly common and I’m so sorry, that the blame for bad behavior in situations of sexual abuse gets pinned on nearly anyone else but the abuser.

        Going forward I’ll just check in with my young one that she’s not blaming herself, and if she is, give a bit more info to clarify that it’s not her fault.

        Asking that first seems like a good sign about how to go forward and how much info to give

    • I told the truth when my daughter asked. I had asked my long-term trusted therapist what to do if she asked. She has known our family since I was pregnant with her. I still get advised before answering my daughter’s questions.

      I think for sure if your child asks, they should be told a very simple age-appropriate answer. My daughter asked me if her dad had an affair. All I said was, “Yes.”

      And I agree that for sure you need to say something if you hear your child blaming themselves, as in this case.

      Children fill in blanks with their own imaginings and suppositions, which is far worse. Truth is solid ground that was missing in my childhood and it is comforting for me to this day, even if it’s sad or distressing truth. My psyche can get to work healing the injury if I know what the injury is, and children are the same. Trauma is also created by withholding truth….

      • I really don’t think we’re that far off.

        If my kids had asked point blank – I would have answered ‘yes’ as well.

        We had a conversation about the divorce when they were young, and I gave them the reasons – minus that one salient detail.

        Was I lying? You folks can decide.

        Trauma can also come from learning a truth that one can’t adequately understand.

    • I’ve never been one for shielding children from truth.

      I have a relative who didn’t want to disrupt her children’s school exams after their grandfather died. So she just… didn’t tell them. Made some excuse for being away for a few days and went to the funeral alone.

      It was only months later when they thought their grandfather was coming to visit that she was forced to say, “By the way, grandpa died. I went to the funeral but didn’t take you.”

      I don’t think her kids ever forgave her, and certainly they didn’t trust her anymore.

      I’d personally rather walk through the coals with my kids on my back, keeping them safe, than risk losing their trust down the road.

      • “I’d personally rather walk through the coals with my kids on my back, keeping them safe, than risk losing their trust down the road.”

        This. Is there a person on this thread who would disagree with that statement as it applies to our own lives? I’d guess no.

        I think here that I’m introducing the fact that what worked for me was different than what may have worked for other people, and that context is important. I felt my kids were not old/mature enough for that information at that time.

        Trust me, when a child has parents divorce, there is no ‘safety’. Their world is inexorably changed. I felt that they had enough to handle without the burden of knowing what their mother had done. Was I protecting her? Not in my mind. I just felt that they had had enough ‘news’ and that they needed to understand that it wasn’t in any way related to them. And that I needed to focus on finding a stable new normal.

        Just my opinion – Sometimes blame is less important than allowing your kids to move forward safely (especially at a young age). You may disagree, and I respect that.

        But respectfully, comparing this to lying about a relative dying is comparing apples to spaceships.

        • Agree. It appears you were protecting THEM not her, and that’s a good thing. And each kid is different. I’m quite sure that my 10 year old would have struggled ALOT with learning that her dad cheated. It would have destroyed their relationship during a time when I was trying to ensure her emotional development progressed as normally as possible.

          Intimate betrayal is a very adult concept, no matter how much you “dumb it down” for kids. It introduces concepts to many kids that they haven’t even considered and can insert new fears and worries that they can’ control or manage at a young age. So, yea, I agree.

  • No response IS a response! Do not respond! Stay grey rock and keep telling your babies the TRUTH (in age appropriate conversations) no matter how mean and shitty pinecone fucker gets. I promise as they grow up it helps them cope and learn what healthy looks like so they can be healthier. Also, please teach them about boundaries and how to set them!!!! I was in your shoes with my kids when they were littles. Now they are in high school but me speaking truth, teaching them about boundaries/red flags/appropriate behavior vs toxic behavior has been a game changer for them when dealing with unhealthy people.

    • I will add that per the psychiatrist who specialized in narcissistic personality disorders that had to get involved in our custody case (per the court) the “No Response IS a Response” method is a VERY STRONG response because she is expecting you to respond….remember, she feeds off drama so she is creating it to gets her kicks off. By you not responding, you are starving her and Narcs absolutely HATE that!!! I would encourage your children to start using the no response method too.

      • Good reminder.

        Six months after my ex moved away, our mutual therapist told me that she had formally diagnosed him, but it took awhile before I grasped that the only reasonable response was indeed no response unless it was something that absolutely had to be coordinated. I went no contact during the divorce process and then went business-only during closeout so we could get car titles and such trivia done. My attorney handled everything else. I ignored a lot of garbage. After I closed my file with my attorney, I blocked my ex on my phone and in email. My attorney quipped, “Let the sheriff serve you if it’s something actually meaningful.”

        He recently reappeared via mail, trying to get our adult kids to come visit. In all the time he’s been gone, there have only been sporadic texts, cards, and emails to them. Funny how he thinks that’s appropriate after all that happened and years of not seeing them face-to-face and not talking to them on the phone at all. As if the past never happened at all. They’ve also blocked him. Maybe he’ll give up on them too.

        • I heard on a podcast with a divorce expert that judges really get peeved when someone isn’t responding to communication, and it can be proven. (We only communicate by text, so it’s documented) The advice was to keep it short. So that changed my strategy because I would sometimes not respond at all before that.

          Thoughts?

          • Yes, during the divorce and closeout, my attorneys did say to always respond even if I just said I would be discussing that with my attorney and that they would respond. During closeout, he threw all kinds of cr*p which I sifted through so that I was responding only to legal matters.

            I didn’t have any custody issues, and there was no alimony, insurance, or college funds, so no need for ongoing contact at all.

            So in my situation, truly done. When I had my last phone call with my attorney reminded me that he can be retained again any time with a single email. Better safe than sorry. Of course!

          • I wouldn’t say that this applies across all situations. Yes, I do think judges get peeved when one parent doesn’t respond to coordination emails from the other parent, but a lot of the messages that narcs send aren’t normal efforts to coparent. They are attacks and diatribes. My ex sent me a lengthy message where he, in part, demanded I stop arguing with our teenager. Really. I read but didn’t respond. My lawyer has advised that I only need to respond to messages relating to the immediate care of our son. So the messages where he demands I parent in a certain way get ignored.

          • Whoever did that podcast was either a lawyer who doesn’t respect boundaries or someone who had a judge or lawyer that was a cheater/character flawed individual and didn’t respect boundaries. I wouldn’t listen to whoever did that podcast. Why? Because nowadays people put shit out there to “help” when actually they are getting paid off of that podcast. It’s kind of like finding a shitting therapist who keeps you in the shit with a cheater saying they will save your marriage because they can keep racking up the $$$.

            Think about it this way….The legal system literally deals with restraining orders every single day. In those orders the victim is NOT allowed to contact the perpetrator and the perpetrator is NOT allowed to contact the victim. Or, if you need another way to think about it…..part of you hiring and paying for a lawyer is it’s up to them to do handle all of the ins and outs of the case (including communication).

  • Don’t respond to FW. Whatever — she’s ridiculous

    But keep the discussion open for your kids. Now that the lid is off, please let your child know that you will always be honest with them and to please ask questions any time. Stay high level as you have been. But you will help your children find their self esteem and learn they can truly trust you if they can ask you things that are hardest to discuss. It’s sad that children feel shame for something they had nothing to do with.

    I also taught my son how to identify lying and gaslighting. FW would tell him things that didn’t happen … and my son would say “I don’t remember it that way.” I’d tell him “what do you remember? Trust YOURSELF. Believe yourself.” He became keenly aware when his dad was gaslighting him.

  • Dear Christian,

    I am in recovery and a work in progress. I have come a long way but, like every one of the rest of us, I will never achieve sainthood or perfection. Cheating has tested my 36 years of recovery like nothing else I have ever experienced. The pain could have easily sent me back out drinking, using, smoking. It could have cost me my life and I consider cheating a direct threat on someone’s life because of the pain and trauma level. It can and does all too often result in homicide, suicide, or both.

    If you resisted driving over and punching her lights out after this…..

    “Our role as parents is to provide them with a supportive loving environment. I think therapy will benefit all of us.”

    …..after burning down your children’s nest and assaulting the father bird….

    …..you get an A+ from me.

    This is the height of insanity from cheaters. There must be a God because I am not in jail after hearing complete horseshit like this.

    The time for therapy, sincerely and in earnest, especially if you create a family, is BEFORE you step out of your marriage/partnership. Which is always 100% completely unacceptable and indefensible.

    Hey, Cheater Skank “mom”, guess what I learned while earning my black belt in therapy? Cheating is a sign YOU have big problems. Healthy is waiting to date until after getting divorced. Healthy is not bringing people you date around your children until, at the earliest, a year after that. I was also told that hardly anyone ever does this. Well, I am fucking doing just this because I want to do everything I can to mitigate the massive trauma that good old father bird inflicted on our baby bird.

    You cheated and your children are living with you and your fuckbuddy? You get an F.

    F is for FAILURE as a supportive loving parent.

    F is for FUCK OFF.

    F is for FUCKING CLEAN UP YOUR OWN SIDE OF THE STREET.

    F is for Shut the FUCK up.

    When you blow up your family, you need to shut the fuck up and go get your own head examined.

    • PS…

      At the request of our daughter’s therapist, I finally caved in last October and went to co-parenting therapy with Benedict OJ Madoff.

      I regret waiting so long.

      I agreed to go but only with the best I could find. Her nickname is Dr. Kick Ass.

      It’s been a year now of NOTHING but validation for me and his being nailed in the hot seat.

      Our daughter stopped speaking to him Christmas 2019. She recently agreed to speak to him with Dr. Kick Ass. This meant him listening while she tells him how she feels about what he did. He hoped this would be a magic bullet that would magically restore the magic to their former relationship which he happily traded for the magical Craigslist gold digging cockroach. It was not. Instead, our daughter is seeing more clearly the self-centered jerk he is. It has actually solidified her desire to have nothing to do with him. Which is tragic and sad, but when you have children and cheat, you are betraying your whole family. Of course cheaters, idiot grand masters of compartmentalizing, justifying, and rationalizing, completely fail to comprehend this.

      There are a lot of comments above against therapy with the traitor, but my own experience has been nothing short of 100% positive and I am super grateful for Dr. Kick Ass.

      I think it depends on getting someone really good.

      • Yes, I know someone locally who had their kid go with the ex to a Dr. Kick Ass. It was a good experience, and Dr. Kick Ass wrote a letter the next time there was a custody hearing, and the judge responded appropriately, setting boundaries on the ex.

      • So what are these Dr. Kick Ass qualifications? I keep hoping that Omar Minwalla starts training up more people like him, and I know APSATS trained are better for us than any schmook off the street… But I’m curious if there was some highlights from their Kick Ass background we can look for in others..?

        • Ideally, a very active attorney will know. I started with a firm that had a speciality in high conflict divorce, and they had all kinds of connections and resources that I didn’t even know existed. The founder retired, and my case went to another firm, and they also seemed very well-connected. They actually have an in-house therapist who advises the attorneys, works on their collaborative cases, and does divorce coaching and therapy with their clients. She knows all of the right therapists for different issues in the divorce process, who will testify in court, etc. It was one of that firm’s clients who told me how they got the letter that swayed the judge.

        • She has over thirty years in the field as a co-parenting therapist and came with recommendations and referrals. I interviewed those recommended and I really liked her. The very first session he lied and she pinned him to the mat in a very Velvet Hammery way. She listens to each of us in turn and we make agreements and then she emails us the agreements from the session. She does not let him get away with anything. I usually sit back and listen, speak when it’s my turn, and bust his trip. Then I sit back with my cup of tea while she fries his bacon. She has responded very well when I felt upset in session or disagreed with her and contacted her afterwards, not dismissing me at all. You can’t ultimately tell unless you experience someone in a session. If you feel it’s going well, keep going. If not, you have the right to stop. I’ve had a delightful year of green lights listening to bacon sizzle.

    • VH: Love that last line “When you blow up your own family…..you need to get your head examined”. If that one point would just sink in with a lot of FWs, life would be a lot better. Thanks for your comments. Congrats on your sobriety. I admire you and have learned a lot from your posts.

    • VH – I soooo love your posts on here. This is yet another one I will be saving a screenshot of in my photo gallery.

      Many hugs and thanks to you for all of your insights and contributions.

  • Christian,
    I think you did the best with what you had.
    I did the same.

    Told the facts and didn’t leave my child guessing about the split.
    He had plenty of information through other children at the school gate.

    Right or wrong, I actually don’t know. But I had enough of lies, and didn’t feel like gas lighting my intelligent child. I did get us both into therapy which helped. Now he tells me I’m the only adult he trusts to tell him the truth, so for him maybe honesty was the best policy.

    Unsurprisingly the gas lighting from the exh didn’t end with the divorce and my son has now to manage that as best he can when he is with him.

    Turns out he knew a lot more than I did anyway. Children may try to fill the empty space of why and with limited life experience can internalise it, or fill the gaps and blame themselves.
    My friend din’t tell her kids, now 8 and 11 and they are so confused and have started not trusting her either.

    I feel for you buddy, its a hard path you are on.

    • Ironically I went to pick up my kids tonight and the four year old said FW and Lord of the Pinecones are getting married but they weren’t supposed to tell me. Unbelievable I know. A full year of secrecy and telling my children not to be truthful with me. Just wow.

  • My marriage of 34 years was childless. My choice. Mental illness runs deep in both our DNA. We do share a love of dogs and have three pups acquired years before discovery day. Since ex has lost the privilege of being in my presence for the foreseeable future, all pick ups and retrievals are no contact. It’s working well and any communication about divorce proceedings are short texts only. This does not mean it’s easy. Seeing him in person is crushing. Still. It’s been 5 months since I found out he was meeting with men the full length of our marriage. Words can’t describe how this affected my brain, my heart, my soul. Walk a mile in my shoes, but if you spent 10 minutes in my head you’d collapse. Unless a person has experienced this it’s impossible to know the damage done. To the families, the community, the friends. Thank you everyone for posting on a regular basis. This blog is a lifeline helping me walk a tightrope of emotions and financial and legal logistics.

    • Have you considered contacting Straight Spouse Network? Please do. You’re not alone in that particular corner of hell.

      • Straight Spouse Network now goes by the (bullshit term) “Our Path.” Because according to the executive committee, “straight” is now a no-no word, indicating, apparently, rigidity and right-wing wrong-think, and no donor will look at an organization with the word “Straight” in its name.

        • FFS.
          Another word canceled because of the supposed need for the whole world to be a space safe where there are no forthright, unequivocal descriptions of anything.
          I’m as left wing as it gets without being an outright Marxist-Leninist and this kind of thing annoys me no end. People need to toughen up.

        • Well, that only makes it harder for those who need the support to find it, doesn’t it? How dumb can they get?

          Plus it’s just as stupid to pretend being heterosexual is a bad thing as it ever was to impugn people for being homo-, bi- or pansexual.

          As long as everyone is being HONEST with all parties, I don’t do not care what informed consenting adults do with or without their slots and tabs.

    • I was married to a gay man for nearly 20 years. I used to be on straight spouse network 16 years ago. I have walked in those shoes.

      It is a whole new level of FuckedInTheHeadness.

      I found out with an EMAIL from him while he was in another state for a short term work assignment. We talked alone and away from the house once he returned. The love of being a bottom was expressed strongly.

      I stood up with years in my eyes and walked.

      It took me about 5 years to get to acceptance. I went to some therapy. My boss let me go with pay during work hours.

      I don’t have any contact with FW anymore. I heard he married a female. He is back to his antics.

      ~Spedie (first time poster)

        • Welcome! And this is one of the best typos I have ever seen.

          I’ve had ‘years in my eyes’ too – talk about sunk costs!

          • Dang autocorrect. I meant TEARS but it kept coming out YEARS. Both work..anywho.

            Now a chump. Again. This FW don’t stand a chance! Before marriage 2 years ago and this time around:

            1. Prenup to protect my two paid off homes and retirement. Check.
            2. I am good at spotting gaslighting after the gay guy. Check.

            And…

            3. FW is out of my home Monday. Check.
            4. Reported FW to police for possessing child porn disks. Hard but CHECK.
            5. STD tests done today at health department. Check. I stopped fucking him a year ago after the whole child porn thing. What a disgusting pig!

            It ain’t easy by any means. This FW has no chance.

  • Peacekeeper, sweetheart! How good to see you! Hope you’re very well. ❤

    Yes, 100%. My 13 year old son was blaming himself for our breakup and suffered anxiety, possible depression, couldn’t go to school, researched why he shouldn’t kill himself on the internet. Any parent who would value their image and/or self-esteem over their child’s mental health is an unspeakably ugly person. I told my children that I moved us away from their Dad because he chose another woman, it introduced a whole new problem but it was the TRUTH. It also reassured them that love doesn’t just fade into thin air, someone has to do something to kill it.

    • “It also reassured them that love doesn’t just fade into thin air, someone has to do something to kill it.”

      This. How can children grow up to believe in and value relationships themselves if they grow up thinking they just end for no reason.

  • When immature adults have children guess who pays the price? Why is your wife the one of the children live with? Why can’t you share 50-50. That’s where you need to be with your kids. They are old enough to know the man who lives in the house with their mother is not their father and never will be, but if they get along with him it’s better for them. You should never be shoved out of their lives. I don’t care how many times you take the case to court. Your children need two parents who give them unconditional love. It does not matter if you don’t live in the same house as long as you work together to be good parents. Every time I read anything from a parent who’s been shoved out of the kid’s lives it makes my blood boil.
    This is for you and Xioba

      • I don’t trust Lord of the Pinecones. Can you get a court order so the children are never left alone with him (or any unrelated male)?

  • In Christian’s case, it’s over. Behind him. It’s the future that’s ahead, with two young children. Neither parent had children together expecting to burn down the house that was to serve as security for growing children. Neither parent expected to face the negative unknowns that come with children being collateral damage in a family breakup. Part of the consequences of scorched earth is rebuilding from the ashes. Parents can’t stand around fanning the ashes, moving the ashes, trying to reignite the ashes or sweeping the ashes under the rug either. They have to clear and clean-up the site of the fire, learn lessons from how it burned down so as not to start another fire, remove any worthy salvage from the embers (the children), build another figurativee house better than the old one, and set out on a path to re-establish security for all involved. Crisis comes in all shapes and forms in life. Nothing rates above rebuilding a secure life for the benefit and welfare of one’s own children. Nothing you do is going to change the ex into a better working partner. Everything YOU do can change the future for your children and family.

  • I also believe as Tracy surmised in your Sept post, that “Lord of the Pinecones” will not go the distance in that prickly start of a relationship. That isn’t something you spend your time waiting to implode or no saying the next loser she picks up in the woods is going to be any better anyway. No, you have no time for that BS adventure drama life, your mission has light years more value.
    You need to provide stable love for your kids to grow in. I would take that on as my life’s greatest mission.
    Yes, being the sane parent in the endless,swirling seas of drama and chaos, that most likely won’t ever fully settle down. That’s just who they are, they prefer crazy, don’t have to self reflect that way.
    Your children will eventually know who the solid, dependable parent is without it ever being spelled out to them.
    Their mother is probably not done blowing up her life, sadly, but to your kids, you become the rock solid foundation they need to grow up happy and healthy, modeling integrity, trust, safety, values, truth and pure unconditional love. They know the difference. It’s a daunting mission, but none of more value exists. You got this Christian.

  • As a side thread to this – does anyone have tips on parallel parenting with these selfish assholes? I don’t know if my high boundaries are perceived as bitterness or parental alienation from the asshole. I use the coparenting software suggested here and don’t talk about anything other than our child. The only thing I find necessary to fill FW on is health, and/or extreme emergencies on our child and that’s it.

      • I believe so….. please get it published asap CL, we need your wise words in print on this subject.

    • 1. Don’t expect reciprocity. Do or don’t do something based on what’s best for you and the kids – but don’t expect your ex will remember and credit you later.
      2. De-escalate whenever possible. Let it go / don’t respond / allow ex have the last word. It’s galling, but peace is worth swallowing a little pride.
      3. Find the mode of communication that minimizes emotional exchanges and use it as much as possible. I use email, and always let my response sit overnight. Usually I don’t send it.
      4. Find someone to vent to about your ex. I use OBS for this because she gets it.
      5. Never tell your ex to do something. It puts the power in his hands, and often incentivizes NOT doing the thing just to prove “you’re not the boss of me”. For instance, early on (after several nasty text blowups) I fruitlessly asked XW to stop texting me about non-urgent matters; now I just answer texts via email and she is gradually switching away from texting. As a corollary, never hold yourself hostage to a reply or agreement from your ex. For instance, I recently emailed XW “I am taking the kids for flu shots Wednesday at the pediatrician, unless I hear from you otherwise”. I don’t need to wait for her permission and she can’t pocket veto it.
      6. Accept that your ex is not your friend. Your ex will perceive you as bitter. You ex will accuse you of parental alienation. In a normal relationship, you would address such a mischaracterization by having an open and honest conversation where you reveal your actual state of mind. At best, this will not work with your ex, because he is not truly interested in understanding you; at worst, he will use this information against you. Your ex will have a false image of you (one serves your ex’s narrative) and there’s nothing you can do about it.
      7. Don’t be an asshole. Don’t stand on principle just to “win”, when doing so will hurt your kids – provided you don’t jeopardize your legal position.
      8. Pretend you are a single parent. If you assume your ex will not help out, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at small things he *does* do rather than resentful at all the things he does *not* do.
      9. Don’t believe anything you can’t independently verify. If your ex says “can you do X because I need to Y”, consider the request (X) on its own, without the justification (Y).

      • All this!

        One small thing – if possible, never let them get a reaction out of you – either to their face or in front of the kids. Your ex is the person who knows you more intimately than almost anyone else, and a true narcissist will use that to get a response, any response, out of you.

        Poker face the shit out of that if you can. Be professional. Go scream in a pillow, swear, whatever afterward if you need to. But never let them see you react.

        For what it’s worth, it drives them a crazy!

      • 👍very good list.

        In general if I find myself reacting emotionally to a request from my FW about childcare, I allow myself some cooling off time and try and figure out why I am so reactive before answering. More often than not FW finds a solution to his problem that doesn’t involve me if I respond “let me think about it”.

        Anything that’s a priority to me (such as kids’ health, daycare arrangements that impact me, etc), I take care of without waiting input/participation from FW and ask for confirmation/ repayment from him later. He is an expert at the waiting it out game which usually creates chaos, so that’s my way to avoid getting caught in one of those.

  • Hi Christian, this is a tricky thing. My honest response just like yours. Mommy and Daddy were married. Dad decided to have a girlfriend. Don’t have girlfriends while married. Well it backfired all over the place even down to my kids therapist. Sadly she made see that small kids take on their parents behaviors. For example, my Dad did something very bad that makes me bad. My blanket, age appropriate, statement made her feel she was wrong, especially when the shithole was yelling at her for saying it to him. Last thing you want to do to your kid is have Crazy take out their shit out on the kid. I am careful what I say to her to minimize the impact on her when she visits him. It took me 2 years in court to get full custody and she is doing much better. She is still convinced the AP is just a “friend” even though she woke up in his bed. I cannot control what her dad says, but he hounds her and hounds her and so does her dad worshipping 18 year old step brother(golden child) that I raised, I can’t have that. Not worth it. She does love her dad and bro very much, and starting to notice shortcomings. I can tell when he really starts his Alienation bullshit because she wants to come home early from her weekend visit….of course he is ok with that. Sigh. So she knows, “I(Lavender) caused the divorce”, “I kicked him out with no money”, and my favorite with a girlfriend he has been seeing for 3 years now, “I don’t love dad, but he still loves me”. He is very very sick. I just tell my kiddo; adult issues are very complicated even though this really isn’t complicated. He cheated and wouldn’t stop, done. mic out.

  • ‘Slandering and talking negatively about the other parent goes against our parenting plan and is detrimental to our children’ yes it is, and that’s NOT what you did!
    Of course treating their parent like shit (like she did) is detrimental to the child, but who’s counting!
    She wants you to except her ‘truth’ you did except her truth! She’s with her boyfriend – isn’t that the truth? What make-believe truth is she referring to?
    Your verbal restraint is applaudable. Too bad you can’t go complete no contact with this wing nut.

  • I agree that the most important issue here is that fact that a child feels to blame for the choices of a selfish parent.

    My kids are in there late teens and understood that their dad made selfish decisions-it’s been 3 years since I moved out and I still prompt dialogue with them to check in on how they are doing with the divorce and how much their life has changed.

    As they get older-I have less that needs to be discussed with their father-which is awesome.

    Now-for whatever reason he enjoys taking about how is seeing 25 women at the same time that he met thru a free dating app. They laugh about it and are grossed out at the same time.

    When I first heard them telling me-I wondered why he would divulge this to them.

    Then I remembered what I promised myself to accept about my ex:

    He is a functional, mentally ill person.

    To me-his Narcissism is a mental illness. He can’t see that that is who he is-so he can’t seek help for himself.

    Of course-he doesn’t need therapy and all of this is my fault. I’m honestly okay with his thinking because that isn’t accurate nor healthy.

    His “truth” is accurate for him-he can have it.

    Once I acknowledged his mental illness-I stopped trying to reason with him and I just let him live in his own reality-without me.

    Best. Decision. Ever.

    • A therapist friend of mine says it this way — I don’t do crazy, and I define what crazy is.

      Our kids were in college when he blew up the family and basically cut him off then. They were way wiser than I was that way.

      • Yep-one of my kid’s had very little to do with his dad and the other 2 feel obligated to hang out with him.

        Good advice to leave crazy alone-we’ve served our time 😉.

  • Sharing children with a FW also means accepting that they may still love the other parent, and they may choose to deny the evil in that parent

    Another reason to keep explanations honest yet spare

    • I believe this to be especially true when the children are grown. I worked with my therapist on how or what I should tell my adult children. In the end, I asked them if they wished to be told, explaining that my answer would be forthright, simple and honest, but with no additional color commentary.
      One said yes, the other no, and I respected their wishes and acted accordingly. It’s a tough row to hoe …

      • Yes, that is hard. Mine didn’t want to know anything but figured a lot out on their own. He pretty much abandoned them though. Both want nothing to do with him now but have a close relationship with me.

        I realize that’s rare, but it confirmed that I was at least somewhat right in how I approached it.

        • I’m fairly certain both of mine had at least part of it figured out long before my dday. The first words out of my eldest’s mouth when I told her I had left and filed for divorce (Before she asked to know why) was, “Mom, dad is an asshole.” She reiterates that to me quite often.
          I know the youngest is still wanting very much to hold on to her image of the type of person she thinks her father was, yet she has been supportive of me in every possible way. Learning the truth will be on her timetable, not mine.

  • I told my daughter that her dad had a girlfriend and that was a deal breaker in a marriage for me. She told her dad and then he accused me of parental alienation but he also lied and said the reason we broke up wasn’t because of cheating- he was unhappy and I was a controlling person so he had to find someone else. That BS has backfired on him because even though my daughter was 13 at the time, she didn’t see me as controlling at all so that didn’t make sense. He’s told her many lies over the past 2 years and it all makes him look like a dick. Impression management is what he’s really motivated by. I’m glad I told our girl, even though it was hard for her. She needs a source of truth in her life and she’s keenly tuned in to his manipulation now. Of course these narcs hate it when they get exposed for the truth.

    • That’s a perfect example of a fuckwit being stupid enough to tell HIS truth- that it doesn’t count as cheating because it was justified by whatever bullshit they can think up. That might be his truth about his *feelings*, but it is not the truth of the facts.
      In so doing, he inadvertently admitted he did, in fact, have a girlfriend while married. He admitted it is THE truth, just as you said it was, while at the same time laying claim to possessing alternative facts. Your daughter was smart enough not to be confused by that bit of self-contradictory mindfuckery. She resolved the cognitive dissonance correctly.

      What he did is parental alienation because he stated negative *opinions* about you to influence her. He blundered by trying to justify himself and his child saw him for who he is- an asshole who blames others for his behavior. A smarter fuckwit will be careful not to do this and will never admit to cheating. I feel like OP’s fuckwit is a bit smarter and won’t do that, which is why she’s trying to manipulate him into thinking it’s wrong to give kids the facts, and to go to therapy so she and some nitwit therapist can browbeat him about it.

      • And then there was the lie he told of, “your mom said I could flirt with other girls and when I did, she got mad.” WTSF?? He went through a period of time before DDay where he was trying to get me to have an open relationship. I was nearly in agreement just to save our 25 year marriage. But that all got disrupted by the fact that he’s been cheating and lying for years. He’s a lying liar who lies.

  • Here’s the thing about “your truth” and “my truth”- it’s only legitimate when used about feelings, not about facts. Facts are THE truth- what happened, what is happening. The truth is objective, not subjective, and can usually be substantiated in some way. The truth is she had a boyfriend while married. Her truth is she felt entitled to have a boyfriend because x, y and z justifications, so it doesn’t count as cheating. That’s how the fuckwit feels about it, but it is not a fact. Fuckwits could tell their children they felt justified should the children question why they had boyfriends/girlfriends while married, but they usually won’t, because they know it reveals them for what they are. So they throw blame back at the chumps for telling their kids the facts and imply that alternative facts actually are a thing.

    IOW, ignore, ignore, ignore. She ain’t got shit on you and is flailing around in desperation to control the narrative. She thinks a therapist will support her truth as being the truth, and that you did wrong by giving them the objective truth, and she may well be right as so many of them buy into a fuckwit friendly POV. So yeah, don’t even entertain the idea.

    • Thanks for the DARVO hack, OHFFS! Not that enlightening a manipulator with truth accomplished anything, but the facts/feelings distinction helps me.

      • “FACT” vs “OPINION” is another handy way to make distinctions.

        I learned that from an assignment my daughter had in first grade!

        • Thanks, VH, for a lightbulb moment! More than just fact vs. opinion, we teach kids to identify on misinformation, disinformation and malinformation. And all of this requires us to think critically and consider bias, feelings, motives, etc. We must reflect upon the sources and our own responses,m. Aha! Full circle.

    • Thanks for the DARVO hack, OHFFS! Not that enlightening a manipulator with truth accomplishes anything, but the facts/feelings distinction helps me.

    • That it was a horrible marriage, she suffered for years and her affair set her free to be who she was destined to be. Her AP gave her the strength to leave me and see me for who I really was. Oh and by the way they want to share a ski locker together for the kids when a year ago they were sneaking around in the woods getting all COVID infected.

      • It might be the truth of her *feelings*- that it was okay to cheat because she was legitimately unhappy with you. Maybe it was a bad marriage. Maybe it wasn’t that bad but she’s now telling herself it was as a rationalization for cheating. That would be cheater SOP. Why she cheated doesn’t change the fact that it’s what broke up the marriage.

        • This just in! My 4 year old told me that the FW and Lord Pinecone are getting married but they aren’t supposed to tell me. If that ain’t the shit.

          • Well hurray for them. They can do druid threesomes in the woods, howl at the moon while picking pine needles and ticks out of their tender bits and consider it all sanctified.

  • I remember briefly sharing “my truth” with my in-laws following discard. I was still in too much pain/denial to call it “the truth” or call my ex “a liar”.

    I think chumps struggle with this because we’ve been gaslighted. Protecting children from the same confusion is exactly what the sane parent should do.

  • “Slandering and talking negatively about the other parent goes against our parenting plan and is detrimental to our children”

    But abusing and betraying the “other parent” (f/k/a “spouse”) by fucking other people is good for the kids and goes with the parenting plan? (And was said “plan” outlined in the marriage plan? Or was it in the divorce plan? Or…?) What an obtuse hypocrite! She really cares about her family and upholding agreements and plans…

  • I was taught years ago to act and speak as if what I did or said would be on the front page of the newspaper.

    This goes double if you have children, because they learn by modeling.

    It’s stunning to me that cheaters get upset by anyone telling the truth about what they did. More top level dysfunctional “don’t talk, don’t trust, don’t feel” sick family propaganda. Uh, if you don’t want people talking about it, don’t do it? The “I can emotionally rape and torture and murder you but you’d better not tell anybody about it” is extra proof to me of how fucked up cheaters are.

    Acting as if what I do will be on the news, and with social media these days it just might be, really is a good litmus test for making good decisions.

    It’s impossible to control the radiation once you use the nuclear codes and target your own family.

    Cheaters expecting emotional maturity, civility, appropriate conduct from the family they completely intentionally fucked over royally is obtuse and insane.

    • “Funny,” too, how many people cheaters tell about the cheating before we chumps learn the reality of our reality. (I, like many, was one of the last to learn.) And of course, they spread so many lies through apology yours and smear campaigns they conduct on behalf of image management and kibble/ego/cognitive dissonance preservation.

      None of it – ever- adds up. In all of the individual and collective conversations (in my life and via CL), I’ve never encountered or experienced anything but abusive word salad.

  • My neighbors son calls me KMaw. I have been a grandmother figure since his birth. Living next door he wondered where my ex was, yet his parents didn’t know what to say. I simply told him that adults sometimes need space from each other. That I would always be his KMaw. He told me he had been wondering what’s was going on. Simple answers are best I think. When my parents divorced no one told me anything. It was disorienting at best, traumatizing at worst. We do the best we can with the information we have at any given moment. My blood boils when I think of all the years I made decisions based on the lies my ex was spewing. Would never have consented to ANY sex had I known what the truth was. Turns out my intuition was working ok, I just thought I was the problem. And that’s exactly where he wanted me to be. Doubting myself, second guessing my inquiries as to his motives for unreasonable behaviors. Like a seedy magician in a carnival act it was all smoke and mirrors. An attempt to alter the reality that my gut was feeling. The blinders are falling off now, slowly but surely my mojo is coming back.
    .

  • Every chump who is a prent should get a copy of “Parents who Cheat” by Ana Nogales, PhD. She talks about the damage cheating paents do to their children and how to respond.She addresses the various potential impacts on children of different ages. It’s essential that parents understand the harm that can come from NOT addressing possible questions and concrns in hopes that makes it easier for children. Kids don’t necessariily bring it up when they’re ready to hear about it. They often beleive that since the chump parents isn’t rasing th issue, they can’t say anything either. To the extend that they make take the lead from their chump parent, they may think they are protecting that parent (the chump) by not saying anything.
    By staying silent, you may be gaslighting your kids, or pressuring them to manage their feelings and fears on their own.

    • It’s a good read….I have it. ❤️

      I think “Cheating in a Nutshell” also has passages regarding children?

  • Sorry; this is off topic.

    I’m a few posts behind and I was just reading a previous post.

    While I was reading, I was contacted by an ex-boyfriend who is in the hospital. He started going back over our breakup (which was six years ago) and rehashing things, and we got cut off just now. Probably his phone died. I hope it was only that.

    Anyway, he said he was thinking about us. Basically I walked away from him because he was flirting constantly with other women. I tried just being cool. It still bothered me. I went to therapy. They said leave him. But I loved him. We had fun. I wanted to stay. But it continued. He was handsome and outgoing – his job was being an emcee. He loved people. Especially pretty women.

    I don’t know. I worked on myself. I tried to go with the flow. I tried joining in. But you can’t really join in because flirtatious games are usually between two people and I was always on the outside. It hurt me to the quick. Just when I thought I was “over it,” he’d do it again, and I’d think, “there is no way to deal with this! This is horrendous.”

    Tonight he called and said he had learned some things. That I had been hurt early on by men abandoning me, and that my hurt carried forward to our relationship, and that his friendliness with other women was being interpreted as abandonment by me, and that’s why I left him. So he wouldn’t leave me.

    I don’t think so. I read so much about it! I worked through issues from childhood and with previous boyfriends.

    Hmmmm… Flirting is never discussed on this website. And I’ve broken up with three men (12 years invested there) because of it. I don’t even consider myself to be a jealous person. I feel like I’m reasonable. And I meet men all the time who also seem reasonable. When first talking to me, they’re quick to mention their wives, or they make a quick excuse and walk away. They don’t flirt at all.

    Is it crazy to want one of those guys? Will I have to settle for the nerd in the back of the room with his head down? Or the guy who doesn’t have a clue? I like intelligent men who like people and are good conversationalists.

    I just realized tonight that I don’t like being blamed for not being able to look past the flirting. He said, “A tiger has his stripes.” Meaning, “take me as I am; I’m not about to change for anyone.”

    It’s easier to be alone. But I would love to have a man who wasn’t a flirt. Is that too much to ask? I’d love to be in a happy marriage.

    I’m just wondering about flirting. Does anyone who is dating – post divorce – encounter this, too? This is weighing heavily on my heart, especially after the conversation with the ex boyfriend, whose had a serious time in the hospital this past week. He must have been working it through in his mind, and just wanted me to know that it was my abandonment issues that made me think he was flirting…

    I don’t think so.

    I think he’s just turning it around.

    Being out and about with a person who is flirty is not fun.

    • Send this to Chumplady directly and she might post it as the topic of the day. I’ve dumped guys for too much overt flirting, too, and wondered if it was me or them that had the problem. It would make a great topic for discussion.

      • I’ve sent it, but I know she gets a lot of letters!

        I’m still puzzling over it. It’s like DARVO or gaslighting or all those other things where the victims get reversed and you feel like you’re crazy. It’s not easy to figure out because the other person can so easily say, “What are you TALKING about?” and they can act all offended and hurt that you’re accusing them of something they didn’t do, and you look so jealous for bringing it up. And then they tell you how insecure you are.

        But jealousy has its place, as we all know. It’s a warning sign. A red flag. An extreme alert. Not to be treated lightly.

        I have brothers and none of them flirt with other women. I have friends who are married and their husbands don’t flirt with me.

        The women that my ex flirted with kept coming back for more; if they were waitresses, they came to our table twenty times. If they were nurses, they came to his room to check on him every other minute. He loved all that! I didn’t. It made me feel sick and made my stomach hurt.

        I know myself to be courageous. And strong. And a person who stands her ground. Fearless most of the time. Yet flirting brings out the fear in me, sets me on edge, and makes my body physically ill.

        It’s like the other person is riding the line of my comfort zone. I want someone whose normal actions are well inside my comfort zone. Then the trust that is a given by default can keep going. And I want to trust. I need to trust. I have to trust.

        I fall back on some of the things Chump Lady says, and I can’t quote them, but she talks about, “is that the relationship that YOU want?” “is that who YOU want to be married to?” etc., and the answer is,

        No, a relationship with a flirt is not the relationship I want.
        And no, a flirt is not the person I want to be married to.

    • Light Heart – It sounds a conversation with him has increased your self-doubt. That’s a bad sign that his psycho-analyzing you isn’t healthy. Could he be one of those Ex’s with whom contact can be destructive? Did he never consider “not flirting” to spare your feelings? Haven’t we all seen how Godawful it can be when an Ex tells us how we’re psychologically damaged, without owning their part? It’s one of those things that can feel like love when it is anything but.

      Also, maybe I’m being overly cynical, but I wonder if he’s testing the waters to see if you’d help caretake him.
      I remember one friend had an Ex-boyfriend who asked to live in her spare bedroom while he underwent some extensive treatment. She had even said “yes” to this because he was really in a jam. Fortunately another friend helped clear her head, and remind her that he had other options thru Medicare. We could tell it would be even harder for her to say “no” once he was living in her house and obviously sick. Ugh. Glad she listened to friends who thought that he had a lot of nerve asking to free load on her again. So entitled.

      • Good point! I hadn’t thought of that. But we’re miles and miles apart now, so no worries! I like what you said about not owning their part, and it feeling like love (because they know you so well,) when in fact it’s not.

      • “Also, maybe I’m being overly cynical, but I wonder if he’s testing the waters to see if you’d help caretake him.”

        You are not overly cynical. You just know how fuckwits think. I immediately thought the same.

        Lightheart, I hope you’re still reading. This guy is indeed gaslighting you with his armchair psychoanalysis and may have been cheating as well.
        It’s disrespectful to you to do it at all, and it’s abusive to do it in front of you, knowing that it hurts you. Yes, jealousy exists to warn us that the other is not as invested as we are. In some people jealousy can become warped and unreasonable, but you are not one of them. He flirted right in your face as a way of thumbing his nose at you and keeping himself in the power seat. He gets a big ego rush from female attention. That’s the profile of a cheater.

        Please ignore this guy. It’s pretty common that when shitty people are having health problems, they find out that nobody in the circle of shallow, like-minded egotists cares, so they circle back to the one person (a person they mistreated) who did care, in order to use that person.

        • Wow, OHFFS.

          That helps.

          Yes, it’s disrespectful and disorienting for people to flirt in front of each other and act as if it’s normal behavior! It doesn’t feel (to me) as if that’s normal.

          Thank you!

    • Well, I don’t know you and I don’t know you’re ex, so I can’t have any opinion on whether he was too flirty or you’re too paranoid.

      What I *do* know, is that people rarely get to know or understand someone better after 6 years of not being around them. As such, I find it unlikely that he’s come to any great epiphanies over you or your issues, whatever those may be. Seems far more likely that the only thing he’s gotten better at is persuading himself that nothing is ever his fault.

      Seriously, he gets in the hospital, and the soul-searching that this brush with mortality brings him… it’s to pathologize his ex? It’s like that freaking meme with Principal Skinner, where he’s like “am I out of touch? No, it’s the children who are wrong.” “Did I sabotage my relationship by flirting with too many people? No, it’s my ex who was wrong!”

      Please. This guy’s only gonna get worse.

      • Oh!

        I see it differently now. He nearly died and now he’s going back through his life, wondering what happened to us. And then blaming. ME. So it can be my fault and his conscience can give him peace.

        That sounds right.

        Thank you all for responding!

        Hoping to hear more about flirting. With the fact that most people are now dating for the short term, rather than for marriage, and the availability of women for men sexually, without commitment, why wouldn’t guys be looking for the next best thing? All they need to do is flirt, get a phone number, add it to their book, and then they’ve got lots of options if things go south with the current woman. So they can have a constant supply. Women still need a bit of a banner that says “I’m available and single and unattached.” It isn’t fair but it never was. It seems to me that flirting is a way (for the guy, as I’m female and writing from my perspective) to know that women are still attracted, and it’s a first step to getting phone numbers, and that activity is where it all starts.

        Right?

        I mean, most people who are in relationships don’t just meet at a party and get a hotel room for the night, do they? There has to be some flirting first?

        I think being friendly (the same for everyone, no matter what sex) is wonderful. Flirting is innuendos, raised eyebrows, a little more eye contact, touching and smiling and laughing, a little more than is normal.

        I see flirting as the first step in the direction of cheating. I don’t think it’s the same as cheating. I just see that it’s off course. It’s a new direction, and the direction is “out there” rather than “here inside the love we have for each other…”

        And I don’t think I’m paranoid. I just see that I’ve tolerated it too many times, and I don’t want that in my life. I’m drawing a line in the sand here. Saying “NO.” For the future. To fix my picker!

        Little steps…

  • My x recently suggested therapy without young adult sons, saying their former psychiatrist (“a quack”) and one’s former therapist were incompetent and didn’t have “all of the facts”. The facts like he cheated with a hooker in our home? The facts that he didn’t want anyone to know “it’s kind else’s business”, and the gem “I understand some people may not understand the choices I made”—yes to bring a hooker to our house! To continue to see said hooker! To threaten to cut off your children’s support because they can’t accept that “all men see prostitutes”. He thinks life is like Mad Men, boys. Grow up. Forget what happened and move on. He fails to realize he blew up a family. He’s off living in addict world: porn, prostitutes, strip clubs, casinos, booze, vaping, smoking. All rationalized.

  • Christian, sorry for the segue over to me. I was just so surprised last night by that phone call from the hospital.

    I admire the calm way (without details) you told your children the truth. I agree with Chump Lady: grey rock.

    No need to vindicate yourself. Your kids will sort it out in the years to come. Mine did! Consistency with them is everything.

  • >