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When You Don’t Want to Spend Thanksgiving with Your Ex

Dear Chump Lady,

The holidays are coming and I was just wondering how to deal with the soon-to-be-ex (STBX) and holiday get-togethers. I actually thought we could stay on friendly terms since we have kids together and we will be seeing each other time to time. I really wanted it to be less painful for the kids and I just need some peace and healing.

Today, we were supposed to go to court and end the marriage. I have spent months and over a thousand dollars trying to draft up a decree with a lawyer that would just split our assets, since we both have a house, retirement etc, I thought we could just call it even and go on. When my STBX got the decree he called and was angry. I still don’t know why. Now he has hired a lawyer and they have asked that the trial be delayed, for 75 days! 

So, Thanksgiving and Christmas is coming up and I had planned on having him over for dinner, but I am really hurting and angry right now. He is trying to still control me, after abusing me, my kids and having multiple affairs for over 20 years. He wants to get his fair share of my savings and retirement, but what will happen now is that we will give the lawyers and court most of our savings. What a great guy!

I want nothing to do with him. After he called me two weeks ago, angry because I blocked him on Facebook and ranted on me, I had an anxiety attack and suffered heart palpitations for two days. How do I break it to my family and kids that this guy is trying to destroy me and I want nothing to do with him for the holidays?


Dear ChumpedtotheMax,

How do you break it to your family that you do NOT want to spend Thanksgiving and Christmas with a serial cheater? It’s called a divorce decree. They’re these really amazing documents that free you from abuse. Everyone (including you) has to accept the fact that divorce means that you’re no longer family with the creep you’re divorcing.

He is your EX. Ex-turkey carver. Ex-stocking stuffer. Ex-Aunt-Mildred-sweater-gift-recepient.

Let’s say that 10 times together, shall we? EX! EX! EX! EX! EX! EX! EX! EX! EX! EX!

He doesn’t deserve the honor of a place in your life, or at your holiday table, any longer. He lost that privilege when he fucked around on you for TWENTY YEARS.

It’s called a consequence.

I’m sure he does not care for consequences. He prefers cake to consequences. Cake, that lovely, fluffy, moist state where you remain of use and project to the world that he’s a Splendid Person. Do we UNfriend Splendid People on Facebook? No we do not! Of course he’s in an uproar — you took away a tiny bite of cake! Do we object to Splendid People grabbing more than their fair share of allotted resources? How dare you! They’re SPLENDID and more deserving than you are!

See how that works? It’s entitlement — the same impulse that drove him to cheat for 20 years.

Which is why the cheap-o mediated, draft-it-ourselves divorce settlement was never going to work. Your situation is EXACTLY why I tell people to get their own divorce lawyers. Cheaters are not honest brokers. The fact that he demands cake shows you how skewed his world view is — me, me, ME… nothing for you.

Equity? Reasonable division of assets? A fair settlement?

No! You’re the meanie who took cake away!

I’m sorry it’s painful and expensive to get rid of one of these freaks, but think of it as the Christmas present that keeps on giving — you no longer have to tolerate this jerk in your life.

I promise you, you can have a really lovely holiday season, in time, that doesn’t include a buffet of shit sandwiches.

Part of the issue is this myth of the Friendly Divorce (probably propagated by some subsidiary of the Reconciliation Industrial Complex), where even though you’re no longer together (you drifted apart, it was all for the best), you still put the brave, happy face on For The Children and spend holidays and Thanksgiving dinners together. Just like the old times. Only Daddy has a girlfriend now (well, he did back then as well).

Hell NO. There is a REASON you are divorcing — his 20 years of abuse. It is sane and entirely rational to remove this person from your life — especially the special times.

That isn’t to say your children have to remove him from their lives. No, you absolutely ensure that they get their visitation or whatever custody arrangements you’ve worked out.

Is it sad? I’m sure it will seem that way for them at first. Change is hard. But one advantage to removing a cheater from your life is gaining a NEW life. One that is full of your traditions and your values. You invite to your table those people who love you and have your back as you have theirs. They may not share your DNA. Maybe it’s a dear friend, a widow, a neighbor. But you surround yourself with people who give joy, who reciprocate, who honor you.

How do you explain it to the people who were expecting Mr. Cheaterpants? Very matter-of-factly. He’s making other arrangements this holiday season. We’re divorcing. And then you deflect — hey, I wonder how much chocolate Santa brought? Let’s go watch Elf for the gazillionth time! Let’s stay in our pajamas and watch football!

It’s your day, Chumped. YOUR day. This day and the day after. Don’t let him steal your joy.

This one ran previously. But I figured there are newbies who need this reminder about their guest lists…

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  • I can’t imagine spending another holiday with FW. Fortunately, there’s no need since we don’t have children and the divorce ending a 30 year marriage was finalized a year ago.

    I continue to be incensed that, even if infidelity is proven, most cheaters require the chump to file and pay the bulk of the legal expenses. Something is wrong with the system.

    • Yup. He cheated and left repeatedly. I was the one to draft papers and pay for a lawyer (which I needed financial help to acquire); FW didn’t pay for anything. He just sat back, at his new GF’s house, and let me divorce him.

      • Even better, I spent over $20k on lawyer (I did get a good settlement, which I negotiated but my lawyer brought home), he probably spent 1/4 of that, HE cheated/abused – necessitating said lawyer/divorce, but he loves to tell people that HE didn’t “give up on the marriage.” Pfft.

      • Yeah, mine told me I was going to be receiving divorce papers so I waited, and waited and … I filed myself a few months later and THEN ended up paying his lawyer and my own (‘cos he’d blown through his money) just to get the damn thing done! Still, best money I ever spent!

    • In my case, I’m glad he didn’t file already. I would have been up a creek if he had filed right away. Since he hasn’t, I had ample opportunity to get things lined up better so kiddo and I have a softer landing. I wish cheaters would be forced to pay, for sure. Unfortunately, many of them would rather stay married and try to get whatever cake they can from everyone. In my case, he keeps up his image and controls my income and has a free house servant. He isn’t going to go unless I file. It’s awful but the price I will pay for freedom.

    • Yep. I was lucky that I could convince him to file, he wanted me to; you know because he just didn’t want to hurt me more by being served. HA ????. Anyway, I said nope you want a D, you file. Of course I would have had to if he refused just to save my financial situation. He was in a pinch though, because he shit all over himself at the workplace, so he was desperately trying to save himself.

      Him filing gave my lawyer more options, but he had such a lousy lawyer; evidently he didn’t know that.

    • Lol. I filed, but I put the retainer fee on HIS credit card and put verbiage in the divorce that he had to pay for any further fees, etc. This not only covered my attorney initially, but also covered the rest of her costs when he ran up the costs by contesting every little thing to prevent the divorce from proceeding forward. He literally paid for all of his stupid games.

      • I floated a similar idea with my highly qualified and experienced lawyer. She implied she couldn’t control payment from someone who was not actually her client. Maybe she saw more court challenges going that route?

        To the extent that responsibility for legal fees can be made “standard language” in cases of infidelity. I believe this could help chumps. I wonder if it’s already routine in other breach of contract cases.

        The holiday gathering shit sandwich can be avoided, but those legal fees are a harsh reality.

      • That’s next level. I bow to you!

        I did put the STD tests on his credit card. He didn’t want it to show up on his government insurance. Wasn’t he surprised at what that shit costs out of pocket.

    • My ex cheated for most of our 25-year marriage. I was a SAHM and he controlled all the money. When he surprise filed first divorce, his complaint asked that I pay all legal costs because he was “forced to file this petition.” Forced by what, exactly? Forced by his dick? I thought that was the height of arrogance.

  • You deserve to enjoy your holidays. Part of that enjoyment is liberation from having to pretzel twist your emotions in order to continually accommodate a person who hurts you.

    The whole “for the children” argument is misguided. You don’t want to model a lack of self-worth, self-protection and boundaries to your children. Think of their long-term relationship skills and self-concept, rather than their short-term desire for harmony. In fact, that kind of thinking is what chumps need more of ourselves. How many times did we spackle & self-deny, in an attempt to maintain harmony? Don’t teach your children to do the same thing, or to grow up thinking that being a loving parent also requires being a martyr.

    Mommas, don’t let your babies grow up to be chumps.

    • Totally agree with what yo’ve said. I expect most of us also want to model that there’s a difference between married life and single life, too. It seems to me that pretending there’s no difference between when Mom and Dad were married and living together, and when they’re divorced, conveys the message to our children that marriage doesn’t mean anything. Sure, we want our children to continue to experience the love of both their parents, but divorce has to mean something–just as marriage does.

  • My aunt continues to have her cheating abusive ex over for holidays…because her RIC therapist said it was best for the kids.

    So the FW continues to show up. He bitches at her to cook things like he wants, he sits on his ass watching football, and then he expects leftovers to take home. We can’t stand him and avoid going to her house most times. So she loses the joy & peace of her family around her.

    Does any of this sound appealing to anyone?
    We try & talk to her that she doesn’t have to continue to take his abuse. Nope. She reasons it by saying it’s “her cross to bear”. Why though?! She bore that cross for many years already! Between her & her therapist’s RIC-think my aunt has “martyred” herself. Sad.

    • Oh my gosh, that’s horrible and sad. And a perfect cautionary tale that “doing it for the kids” will often just lead to unhappiness for everyone.

    • That’s awful and so sorry for your aunt that she’s been minfucked into submission. I have a simple rubric for sharing my precious life with another human being:
      1. Do I like this person?
      2. Do I respect this person?
      3. Do we share the same values?
      4. Is their behavior kind to me?

      For Ex-asshat, every answer is a strong NO. After $20k on a divorce, Ex’s almost non-stop post-decree nonsense for 9 years has cost me anonther $34k, not to mention his continued lying and gaslighting the kids. So why would I want to celebrate any joyous occasions with him?

  • And the holidays will become progressively happier, holiday by holiday, with the removal of the cheater ex. Hard at first, I’ll grant you that, but ultimately so much happier without that dark cloud hovering around.

    It may work for some folk but the “let’s spend the holidays together y’know… for the kids” would not have worked for me. I feel like depression puking everytime FW pops back into orbit and he never travels anywhere without Wifetress, so… who would have a happy holiday? Certainly not me. Certainly not the kids. FW would be grinning like the cat that ate the canary though; he would have loved that stamp of approval that spending the holidays with me would have given him: “See? It wasn’t an affair. My X is cool with everything.”

    I can’t speak for how other families organize their holidays. It initially broke my heart having to split holidays and plan on the kids spending “some of Christmas over at their Dad’s and Wifetress’s place” and “some of Christmas over here at home” but, let me tell you… that gloom began to fade when I realized that I didn’t have to interact with FW at all over the holidays.

    Turns out, the holidays weren’t getting sadder after all; they were getting happier and more awesome.

    One of the last earnest emails I sent FW in the early days, when he was a STBX (before NC) and had just left for GF#3’s greener pastures was an honest response to him messaging me saying “I know you just want me back but you’re going to have to get over me. It’s over.”

    I stared at that email with a surprising amount of anger considering the depression I was in. How dare he? He thinks I’m pining on how to get him back AGAIN? How big is his head?

    I wrote back “I do not want you back. The kids and I–my family–only became whole after you left.”

    That year Christmas was actually pretty good. Holidays got progressively better from there on out, blessed by his absence.

      • This made me laugh at a recollection. I just remembered toward the end, I told my best friend that I didn’t know how Ex could fit his head through a standard doorway.

  • Divorce is the gift that keeps on giving.

    Cheaters are the jerks that will keep jerking you around unless you get rid of them with the divorce gift. Like having to go to sleep on Christmas Eve, Santa won’t come until you get your divorce.

    At least he’s consistent. I remind myself that if he were to Do The 180 and get all truthy and honorable it would only confuse me and keep me snared and smoking hopium.

    After DDay he said I WAS HIS BEST FRIEND. He said he thought WE COULD ALL BE FRIENDS AND I WOULD REALLY LIKE HER AND SHE WAS A LOT LIKE ME. I actually laughed when I heard that while in the background my life was going up in a mushroom cloud.

    I know, I know. Being straight up and straightforward with your communication feels like shoes on the wrong feet after decades living with someone who is fluent in Bullshit Gobbledegook.

    But it’s the only language that works with a cheating lying liar who lies. Someone whose conduct does not meet the requirements of friendship by any standard.

    Just say NO.

    • “Cheaters are the jerks that will keep jerking you around unless you get rid of them”

      Pretty much and yup.

      (Also, FW said the same thing to me about GF#1: We’re all going to be good friends; you’ll love her; you and she are so much alike, etc.)

      • The ex stated he had been miserable 22 yrs which was the amount of the marriage at that point. Later it was the ol you’d like her. You are a lot alike. Much later it was “ y’all area lot alike. Neither want to have sex with me anymore.”
        1. Why would you choose anyone like me since I made him miserable.
        2. We are nothing alike. I don’t sleep with married men. She was in a relationship and married later.
        3. After we left Ex said he never trusted me. Ex said she’s the only female he trusts.
        * fun fact. They are still fucking around and I’m pretty sure they have a kid conceived during our marriage.
        That’s the only long term that I’m aware of. He had many more scatted thought and prostitutes. He’s a predator.

        Today’s topic- my brother had to endure years of his ex being invited to all family functions by my mom. It was my norm. After I left he told me how much he hated that. After my mom died and I hosted, that ended. I actually had to tell her if she spoke to me about the ex or spoke with him again, I would leave or hang up. He was off limits in my life. He probably assumed since it happened with my brother that he’d get the same treatment. Nope. Never will happen if it’s within my control.

        • I said the same exact things. No, I do not fuck married men. If she’s so much like me, why are you having an affair? Following cheater logic is climbing the hand basket to You Know Where!

          Oh, I forgot. You have brain parts missing. And a big black hole where a heart should be. I think he really might have blue eyes but they look brown because he is full of shit. (I do love brown eyes but in his case I think they might be a tell).

          And Mr. Relationship Genius wants to explain to our daughter (15) that he will be dating and he wants to find another target…ahem, PARTNER.

          Well, she already knows you are dating and were dating while faking being a married man who routinely told people how much he loved us, how lucky he was, and how glad he was he wasn’t in the dating world.

          (He should probably Google the definition of “partner”. I don’t think he understands what it means).

          She currently does not speak to him or want anything to do with him. His abject failure to grasp the appropriate order in which to do things is impressive.

          I enjoyed listening to Dr. Kickass Co-parent tell him oh so sweetly that his timing for this was incredibly insensitive and oblivious to the situation, while I whistled and filed my nails.

          I enjoyed listening to her validate me when I said the partnership I thought he should prioritize is the one with our daughter.

          Doot da doo……

    • Velvet, you get me every time. I love your wordsmithing. The requests to stay friends never ceased to baffle me . I think it is part being absolutely freaking clueless about themselves and also part image maintenance. I always choose my friends based on their ability to lie to me, gaslight the shit out of me, abuse me, and give me an STD. With friends like those I need a very sharp hatchet.

    • Dear Velvet Hammer, I wish I could force choke him for even thinking you are anything like that homewrecking whore. How dare he?

      Fuckface also tried to get me to like his Howorker. “You will like her.” I do not like that Jesus Cheater. She is a hypocrite. She knew he was married. That whore was up in my house knowing she was involved with a married man. I hope the hand she uses to clutch her Bible withers and falls off.

      I shake my head in disbelief that these insane dicks even considered their wives would like their whores. So glad to be free! Divorce is a gift.

    • And,just to make a Chump feel extra good, many cheaters will add to the be a good Chump
      “ I will always love you as the Mother of my Children.”

      Oh, for certain, let me do that, but first let ME ask “Would that be the tiny child, and the child to be in utero, that you are referring to?”
      I can remember when cheater said that to me I immediately held my hands up in the STOP position. I found that beyond painful. It crushed me. ❤️‍????

      Big Hugs to YOU ((((VH))))

      • Oh yes, lovely Peacekeeper. That phrase is the ultimate backhanded backhand.

        I told him to never refer to me that way. If he likes how his limbs are currently arranged.

        When you love your children, let alone the parent of your children, you don’t fuck over the other parent of your children. Just more truth that sails way over the disordered head of a cheater.

        • My response…

          “I was your wife and I am the mother of your child and you fucked us both over royally.”

    • “Being straight up and straightforward with your communication feels like shoes on the wrong feet after decades living with someone who is fluent in Bullshit Gobbledegook.”

      Omg! Love this!

  • I can’t imagine celebrating anything with my x. That my children are grown means I don’t have to. My heart goes out to all of you who have to negotiate with a cheater/abuser because of minor children. Honestly, I can’t even imagine how hard that must be.

    This is my second Thanksgiving since DDay. This first was a low-key affair with one daughter because of COVID. It was still special.

    But tomorrow, my three adult children, their significant others, and my two grandchildren will be at my place to celebrate Thanksgiving.

    I feel incredibly thankful.

    As a family, we are all free of that man. No more walking on eggshells. The calm is palpable.

    Happy Thanksgiving to CL and my fellow chumps. You inspire me, amuse me, and make me feel less alone in dealing with the fallout of the most painful betrayal. For this, too, I’m beyond grateful. ????

  • CL is correct asking you “why is he having dinner with you?” Shouldn’t he be with his latest OW? He is no longer family and should be treated as one.
    Myself after 35 years married and divorced for 5 years would never have my ex in my home ever again. It was hard around the holidays but I’ve accepted that he is not the man I thought he was. Our adult son sees him occasionally which is his decision.
    Please remind yourself that you deserve so much better than to spend time with this cheating man/child.
    The sooner he experiences his consequences of infidelity, the better you will feel about your life.
    Good luck and stay strong. ????

  • And yes, expect that asshat to immediately clap back that YOU are being bad to the children. They say those things not because they are true but because it will hurt you.

    Everything an abuser says and does is designed to hurt you.

    Even when they are kind, it’s a mechanism to throw you off base so your guard drops a little, making it easier to hurt you.

    That is the nature of an abuser. They hurt you to get the win, and they never get enough.

    The abuser is unwell and unlikely to ever get well — because getting well from this illness requires intentional, committed work on one’s soul, and that takes things like ethics and caring and humility — not things an abuser generally possesses.

    A monster like that doesn’t deserve to cross the threshold to your home, or turn you into an example of what you never want your children to tolerate in front of your children. “No” is the only reasonable choice.

    As far as the commentary about your choice and your children, I say a mentally ill abuser with a long track record of deceit and harm shouldn’t be among your trusted circle of people whose input you value and consider. Like a small child (or late teenage child, or abusive person) who screams “I hate you! You’re so mean!”, the only useful answer is “OK, I get it, you hate me, and here are the rules now.”

  • You can’t be kind to cheaters. You can’t be friends with cheaters. You can’t be family with them, partners with them. They are entitled selfish idiots who wreak havoc and damage with everyone. Let them be to choke on turkey bones by themselves.

  • I’m nearly 40 years divorced from ex with whom I have children. My daughter is hosting T-Day and I find myself really hating the idea of sitting down to dinner with him and his wife. Nothing negative between us for over 20 years and we’ve had to deal with some crises. He will contribute to his granddaughter’s college next year.

    I haven’t thought through why this year is so distasteful. I will be doing the white lie bit tomorrow morning. That I am feeling under the weather and shouldn’t spread my germs.

    • Emma C. I hope you recover (wink, wink, nod, nod) just in time to have a glorious day all on your own. Any day free of cheater stink is better than tolerating being in their vicinity.

      You shouldn’t expose yourself to the toxic wasteland that is a cheater. It makes me sad that anyone would even consider it appropriate that you should do so. I hope you make the best of the day.

    • Don’t go.

      You should communicate to your the fact that you’re not comfortable celebrating holidays with the man who cheated on you, and with his current wife. Tell her openly that would be too painful. If she’s a caring daughter she will understand. Some alternating of holiday invitations might have to take place in the future.

    • Feigning illness works for this year.

      I understand why you might not want to simply state “I will not interact socially with your father even for your sake.” (Kibbles for him, problems with your daughter.) Deflection can be exactly what is called for.

      Here’s an idea for next year, if you need it: book yourself a trip out of town. Great if you can afford to go somewhere exciting. But, it doesn’t matter if it’s just the next town over or even a Thanksgiving afternoon drive.

      Volunteering in some way on the holiday similarly makes you unavailable.

  • One of the perks of divorce is never having to sit with that dickhead again for holidays. And I also got to divorce his family’s horrible holiday traditions:

    (1) his mom (a mega narcissist herself) either makes everything — and it’s exactly the same bland gross meal every time. To give you an idea, she roasts the turkey the night before then removes all the skin, slices the meat, then covers the meat in a pan full of water so it’s boiled and tasteless when you eat it).
    OR she demands that I host it and then passive aggressively puts me down for having brown gravy made from the turkey drippings (she uses basically flour and water… she likes it white)… and makes a mess of the kitchen “accidentally “ and laughs about it.
    (2) sitting around in a big family circle on Christmas opening his mom’s gifts one by one for HOURS while she laughs that she is “the worst gift giver” (she asks everyone for a gift list but won’t use it – she just buys random shit).

    Buh bye. Glad to be rid of FW and his creepy clan.

    Let go of the crazy and create your own traditions. Let the holidays be fun now that you’re free of a FW. Yes, the kids will enjoy them more too… it takes time but it will happen.

    This Thanksgiving my boyfriend and I are eating out and taking a mini vacation. 🙂

    • Wow, I have never heard of preparing turkey in such a way. It sounds like how an institutional cafeteria would prepare food, if I’m honest. She might as well purchase a few packs of turkey cold cuts and call it a day. It might be more flavorful that way. And don’t even get me started on her gravy. I once watched my brother in law prepare gravy using a few tablespoons of drippings mixed with a roux. I was pissed he wasted the drippings and I didn’t get to make my awesome brown gravy the way my granny taught me.

      • Schrodinger and Sucker Punched – thank you! It’s validating to hear ????

        That’s not even the beginning of how bad that food is. But in her mind, she’s the best. And the meal is the same for Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter.

        One year FW and I went to his family’s house for Thanksgiving and she sent us home with tons of leftovers… all plated up. When we got home to my family, I went to throw the leftovers away. My mom got angry and said that it was wasteful and she’d eat them. I laughed and said “trust me on this. Throw it away.”

        She took it anyway and tried to eat it the next day. She asked “what was the white stuff?” I said “her ‘twice baked potatoes.’” My mom said “NO! They weren’t potatoes. What was the white stuff?” I repeated “Those are her so-called ‘twice baked potatoes.’ She uses nonfat sour cream and margarine. No seasoning. And she just mashes it together. It turns to plastic. Mmmmmmm right?!”

        My mom was so grossed out. She never asked for those leftovers again. We still laugh about it. I warned her ????‍♀️

        No more Thanksgivings with FW and his mom — truly something to be grateful for

    • MichelleShocked this made me laugh so much. My ex-inlaws Christmas spread (we alternated years – us, them and gxh’s sister) was inevitably store bought barbecue chicken, store bought deli ham, lettuce and cherry tomato salad, cheapest grocery store bread rolls, bought potato salad (sometimes), bottles of $1 soft drink and $3 Prosecco, fruit salad and cheapest possible pudding and custard. With 2nd hand gifts for all, including dirty, broken and incomplete toys and games for the kids. My personal fave was a used sugar bowl with half a bag of sweets stuffed inside. A lump of coal was too expensive ????

      My 19 year old son doesn’t speak to his dad but goes to his grandparents boxing day party (still the same menu apparently). He has unopened Christmas gifts from them from 2 years ago that he won’t open or throw away. Quite literally so much there to unpack.

      My gxh hated Christmas and we have had four joyous carefree chaotic Christmases now without him.

      This will probably be the last year we are ‘just us’. As my adult kids are growing their own relationships, with other families they are joining, I will not be placing obligations on them to do it the same every year. As I get older I will be just as happy to keep my Christmas quietly with my own kind of joy, Mass and a place at one or other of my children’s tables – or just phone calls !

      We don’t do Thanksgiving here but to all who do, wishing you a happy one

      • Klootzak hates Christmas and all holidays, really. He is a complete killjoy. He mutters when he hears holiday music. He does not support us going to church to celebrate holiday Mass and hear the choir. Divorce buys me FW-free holidays? I’m all in!

      • NewChump – I think we found a new post for CL: Holiday Meals and FW’s Family Traditions That You No Longer Have to Endure — Hurray! ????

        I think the hardest part of being with FWs family was that his mom not only cooked crap and made us eat it year after year… but she also does not allow alcohol. No wine – nothing. She won’t even let her husband drink a beer while watching sports. So I had to face the meal from Hell sober every time. She’s a sadist.

        Can’t help but smile that AP gets to enjoy it now LOL

        • MichelleShocked my ex MIL was weirdly puritanical about alcohol too. Ex FIL was allowed one glass of that crap prosecco on festive occasions.

          Yes, crap traditions we discard with glee sounds like a worthy Christmastide Friday challenge!

  • There is absolutely nothing that requires that you spend the holidays with a FW. I am sure your kids can sense the tension when the FWs are there. He can make his own holidays with them if he wants. Just explain that this will not work for you in regard to a “family holiday”.
    My son cam home last night, and since earlier this week I have gotten texts from the STBX that he would like to see our son. Unfortunately, my son has already informed him that he wants no contact with him. This is mainly because FW had a lot of his and Schmoopie’s nude and other crap going to an old family shared account and of course the kid saw everything. That turned him and he shut out his father.
    My son is 25 and a responsible adult who is serving in the Navy. He can make his own decisions and if he does not want contact that is his choice. Period. Of course I got the nasty texts about keeping him from his kid and that this was my fault and so on. I sent one response (violated my boundary) that said, “ you created this situation and now you have to own the consequence of your decision. Your relationship with our son is between you two and I am not involving myself. Since getting these messages from you that bother me, I am blocking you from any contact with me.”
    I am not eating shit sandwiches this holiday. No one should have to do that. These FWs need to live with their choices. Yes, there are consequences!

    • Your text in response to his false accusation was PERFECT ???? “You made your bed, now lie in it” “Abusive actions have consequences”

  • I have a Thanksgiving drop-in dinner planned with my ‘kids’ and grand baby. SO GLAD the X will not be here! He was always the selfish wet blanket, that played horrible music on his stereo while we ate, or one year for variety, he insisted on watching the 3 Stooges on TV during the meal. Since he won’t be here, all of us can enjoy each other’s conversation, with maybe some jazz playing softly in the background, and everyone will have a peaceful, happy time.
    I do feel kind of sorry for him, as the AP has poofed, on to her next fling, but I’m almost no contact, so I’ll just enjoy our day without his chaos in it!

  • These freaks (cheaters) with all their lying, deception, premeditated scheming and planning, theft, angling to maximize personal gain and outright abuse do not deserve a place at your table or anywhere else. They didn’t do one thing to be upfront, honest, honorable, considerate or act in your best interests leading up to or after divorce.

    These freaks are abusers.

    You wouldn’t share social time with someone who battered or assaulted you. You wouldn’t make nice or plan to share your day with a thief or robber. You wouldn’t endure time in the company of an embezzler or con artist. Surely you wouldn’t make plans to lend your time with a known cheater deviate.

    Once you’re away and untangle the skien of abuse and control you’ve been under, you’ll see this freak for the person he is. For now you’re still seeing the relationship as though it has potential for happy hopes, better dreams and a bright future if you can only endure the shared times together for your kids.
    Reimagine those hopes, dreams and future on your terms, away from the deviate, leading your children to a better life.

  • It took me the longest time to get that it was over when he took off, but eventually, I grasped that throwing our lives into chaos and everything that followed said everything I needed to know. He is what Richard Grannon calls a VCP — a very cruel person. Our adult children came to the same conclusion without any prompting on my part. We agreed to separate, but he ran off many states away four years ago and have been divorced for nearly two years.

    He wanted the adult kids to visit, I assume over the holidays since they have school and work. As if it was all a misunderstanding? I stepped back and didn’t interfere, but they aren’t going and will be with me. Of course, he blames me for that situation and never owned up to the chaos he created, but I didn’t engage with him over that.

    In many ways, he chose the situation he’s in, and I’m not responsible for giving him the holidays he wants now. That’s called being an adult and not being married anymore, IMHO.

  • My adult sons have adjusted over the many years, since I divorced their father. We have just survived going through a new twist this year — their father died and his funeral was held this Monday, before Thanksgiving.

    My sons both work a lot of hours, and my oldest and his wife live in another city 3+ hours away. They both will be working many extra hours over the holidays. We had decided to have our holiday and birthday celebrations around their work schedules, instead of insisting they be on a specific day, but I had been steadfast in refusing to have one meal with all parties after their father married. His new wife was previously my nail technician. I had known her several years, and she knew my ex was a cheater. She had met my children. I considered her a friend (Chump Move on Me). She knew my ex and my sons would inherit a good bit of money from his father’s estate. I made the mistake of telling too much of my personal business to her while she was doing my nails. I never imagined either of them as potential marital partners. She was younger than I am, and he was 8 years older than me! She was barely literate in English, and not a citizen, although she had two children by two different American men, and even convinced the second man to marry her (briefly), but she had not pursued citizenship.

    At any rate, she stopped being my friend and my nail tech when she decided to start dating my EX. She eventually convinced him to marry her. No one was invited to their wedding, and she kept her last husband’s name. We were never sure about the marriage, but I figured she had insisted upon it, because being a spouse has rewards, legally. She inherits the house she insisted they buy. She may get some of his VA benefits, and his social security benefits. There are evidently some other land holdings, some of which may be joint properties we owned at the time of my divorce, and these holdings are specified in my decree to go to my children, if they are still there. My Ex specified to our sons that they must take care of her in order to inherit anything from him.

    Fortunately for me, a friend of mine warned me ahead of the funeral that my sons would probably sit with her, because their dad had just died, and because she had “no one else” besides her daughter. Her son is in Japan. She had her employer and one work friend drop by during visitation, but they did not stay for the service. All the other people who attended had contacted me, including his brother, his nieces and nephews, and several childhood friends, and some business friends. They sat with me, and came to my house after the burial.

    My sons and I had previously planned to celebrate the holidays on December 5, due to their work schedule. I suggested to my oldest son, and his wife, that we consider the social gathering at my home to be our celebration, since they had spent time with their dad in the hospital, and for the funeral, to help them have recovery time to deal with their grief and the interruptions to their lives and their work. They agreed, but my oldest son asked me to invite the new widow. I refused. He said, he thought I should, because “she didn’t have anyone”. I refused. I explained, I had lost their dad when we divorced, but his presence in our lives still lingered. We were not friends, we were parents. She was not a friend. I only invite friends and family into my home if they treat me with respect. She was going to have to start her life without their dad without my help.

    Neither my Ex, nor the final wife, were splendid people. I endured 20 years of a drama filled marriage, some good times and some bad with the ex. We had two fine sons. I thought she was my friend, but I was wrong. I had corrected my mistake years ago. Social obligations and courtesies do not require me to pretend anyone is splendid, when, IMHO, they are not. My oldest son may not understand this, but I have a feeling he will learn soon, over time, and as his dad’s estate is settled.

    I still love and support my children, but they do not get to pick my friends, or determine who comes to my home. I am in charge of my own life, and it is a wonderful feeling. I paid for my mistakes, and learned new things, and have evolved over the years. My freedom is hard earned, and I will not retreat from ground I have gained. My son’s will have to figure out how to live their own lives, and who really has their interests at heart. Social guidelines don’t impress me, they are merely suggestions. If it does not feel right to me, I will not do it. Trust your intuition, do what is right for you.

    • Sending hugs your way. It sounds like you raisers 2 wonderful young men. FW’s mess things up & it cannot always be put right. I am learning that because of the original cheating, nothing can go as expected, there will always be complications to deal with. You are doing amazingly well & give us newer chumps hope – that new situations that come up can be handled with grace, good character, and by not disrespecting yourself.

  • If you can, book a trip and stay at at an oceanside town or some other cool nearby place. If you stay in town, find a buffet serving Thanksgiving dinner–there are many restaurants and hotels that do. But try to get out of the house with the kids so he can’t come by, call, or toment you. Don’t put on a big dinner, you need a break and putting on Thaksgiving is just added stress. Start a new tradition to celebrate your new life! The kids will be so distracted by the fun they won’t miss him, and they certainly don’t need the drama.

  • I **LOVE*** roast turkey but don’t think I could choke down a bite of food around my cheater ex, even 13 years after the divorce. Just imaging it gives me a sour stomach. ????????????

  • My ex acted very similarly regarding the divorce. He actually didn’t want to use lawyers at all and expected me to fill out all of the paperwork and basically do all the work. Hiring a lawyer was the first thing I did to put myself first in a very long time. When he got the draft settlement he decided to finally hire a lawyer to look over it, who said it was fair. During the divorce process, my ex also thought we would celebrate some things together. I wanted things to go smoothly, so I didn’t disagree. Now, I am very happy to not celebrate anything with him, and I look forward to when my son turns 19 and I can go full no contact. Give yourself the gift of space this holiday season and block if you can and go grey rock if you can’t.

  • How timely of a post. Finalized the divorce a few months ago. X is a serial cheater. This was a long marriage where I was blindsided. Lots of emotional abuse to keep me in my place. Lots of atty fees.

    Anyhow, beginning 2 weeks ago he asks if he is coming over for Thanksgiving. We have minor teen children and a few older kids. According to the parenting plan, this yr is my Thanksgiving year. If I were a bigger chump than I used to be, I would have agreed.

    I told him that was not a good idea and too confusing to the kids. I did not expound that cheating for the entirety of the marriage, constantly threatening divorce (one of the gaslighting techniques), and actually getting divorced means he can be the single dude he has always been with the added benefit of Cake by inserting himself into the new family order. Ya know, the family he willfully napalmed.

    Weird. So the kids and I are doing our thing. He is passively aggressively raging and finally decided to go to his sister’s house for the meal.

    I know there will be some weird form of punishment because I asserted a boundary. I’m waitng to see what shakes out.

    So here I am, making pies and prepping stuffing. Happy Turkey Day!

    • Good for you!!! Boundaries enforced! Try to ignore his inevitable rage-filled reaction/punishment. Not reacting to that shit takes practice. After 35 years of accommodating and caring, I’ve had to work at ignoring him. Now it comes easily. And it makes me feel powerful!

      Remember that when he cheated, he lost the right to expect you to care about him or do anything for him. Stay strong!

      And Happy FW-free Thanksgiving!

    • Context: “X is a serial cheater. This was a long marriage where I was blindsided. Lots of emotional abuse to keep me in my place. Lots of atty fees.”
      FW: “So, when do I come over for thanksgiving.”
      Chump: “You don’t.”
      FW: “WTH, you’re so mean!”

      I’m glad to see you drew a line in the sand, OverIt. Good for you.

  • It is expensive to get rid of these disordered types. Mine used his attorney to draft all kinds of bs, he wouldn’t cooperate and now he’s upset he has large legal bills. Then as they usually do he becomes the victim, really of his own making. He wouldn’t have such large legal fees if he’d not played so many games. I was pissed bc it cost me money too, unnecessarily. Never less if I can get out of this with what I’ve spent it will be worth it.

    • Yes, it is expensive, but ah…relief. Focus on the end.

      My ex picked one of the most expensive attorneys in the metro area. That attorney specialized in high net worth divorces, which really wasn’t ours comparatively. We were dividing accounts, pensions, and vehicles. The house had been sold, the kids were in college, and my little side business wasn’t worth anything. That attorney was overkill.

      In asking around, I heard how his threw insults at the other side and promised his clients the moon and the stars, and then blamed the other side for being unreasonable so he could fight for something else. Locally he was known for being a cheater himself when he was younger, overcharging, and walking the narrow line ethically at times.

      I picked a more ethical, less expensive attorney who anticipated every move his attorney made and charged me just the retainer. He wrote off a lot of work in the last months because he was retiring and found my case “fun” because it was so crazy and disordered. Then his associate took over closeout and charged even less per hour.

      It was worth every penny for those guys, but it truly didn’t have to be that way at all. What should have been at most six months total took over two years. Totally unnecessary.

  • I do cook often and I’m pretty good at it. My ex loved my food. But I don’t enjoy it and just do it for family and friends because I have to. Why? Because he’d call me every morning at 9 am to ask what I was making for din. I mean, come on!! So when he left I vowed I would never cook for that lyin bastard again. And I never have. My boys, though, they still clamor for his favorite Sunday dinner when I visit. And I’ll make it for them with a smile. Happy thanksgiving, everyone!

    • Oh wow. That’s weird.

      It always amazed me when my x would ask “What’s for dinner?” when we walked in the door after a long trip. “How the hell do you think I have dinner ready when I was on the same flight with you?”

      They only think of themselves.

      Oh, and I probably did whip something up. Chumpy me. Well trained. Ugh!

      I’m sorry your x ruined cooking for you. I totally get it.

  • My situation was different in that my kids aren’t my ex’s and they always just tolerated him. And my ex was a passive aggressive conflict avoidant coward who would make nasty comments under his breath and paint a phony smile on his face

    When I told him we were done he pretended not to hear me and not only kept his ring on after the divorce…he didn’t tell anyone on his side for a few months. But burying his head in the sand was his MO.

    When Thanksgiving rolled around the signed papers were sitting on the judge’s desk, but Mr. Image management phony wanted to spend Thanksgiving “together as a family” and was “really glad we were still married”.


    As it turned out my kids dad, who over the years I’d developed an appropriately amicable relationship with, invited me and our boys for dinner with his crew (gf, gf’s mom, his sister, a few others).

    It was great. Boys drove separately so they could stay, I made stuffing, had dinner, chatted with his sister, his gf, and her mother, then went to a friend’s house for a drink.

    Avoided mr phony image management completely.

    On a side note he was in my kids lives for 13 years, from the time they were little. He has so little impact on their lives that now as young adults they don’t even speak of him… it’s like he never existed. When my kids graduated high school there was not one word from him.

    That’s how much of a “family” we were and how much he gave a shit about my kids.

    • Kim, our situations and length of marriage and passive aggressive conflict avoidant ex’s are very similar.
      My two daughters have ZERO contact with the “man” who was their step father for 14 years. (They stay in touch with his daughter which I am grateful for.)
      It really does feel like a mirage …
      It’s amazing to me how so many of our stories are the same. I now truly believe there is indeed a Handbook out there for these weasels!

      • Tears, was your ex the child of an alcoholic? I often thought that ex’s mother’s drinking caused a lot of the conflict avoidant stuff.

        One thing I learned after our divorce was that ex’s phony image management didn’t fool as many people as he thinks. Comments that people didn’t want to make while we were married have since been made to me. Have you had the same experience?

        • Quick chime in here – X is passive aggressive conflict avoidant covert narcissist. His mom wasn’t an alcoholic but a narcissistic overbearing ‘bully’ of sorts. Up until he had to ask them to live with them he still couldn’t argue or disagree with his mom, especially if she was being confrontational in even the slightest way. He could barely speak around her, literally couldn’t open his mouth to speak around her unless it was small talkish. No idea how the ‘can I live here’ conversation went or how its going since he’s been living with them, nor do I care, but hindsight being what it is now I see all that as the reddest of flags.

        • Bingo. His mother was a terrible alcoholic and abusive. She left the entire family when he was 12. The other siblings were “only” neglected, but she made it clear to them all that she did not like her son. They all still suffer from it. I gave him many a pass for that sad upbringing.

          Through therapy we at least learned why he was conflict avoidant.
          I put up with a lot, because I adored him, but I could not put up with him emotionally attaching to every female he came in contact with to make up for his mother’s inability to love him.
          Sadly, I learned MY love was not enough. Breaking away from him was like cutting a tree in half. But in the end, I had to save myself.
          Yes, since he moved out and on, I’ve heard from quite a few people that he always seemed “on stage”. Needed to be liked, that you could never get an accurate reading off him. Chameleon like, and he certainly fit the “Charm, Rage, Self-Pity” description that I learned about here. I still suffer from his actions during our marriage, and I still cry almost daily, although I am glad he’s gone.

          • Preach. Mine needed validation from other women too and had terrible boundaries with everyone.

            It’s why he had terrible boundaries with his ex wife and kept a trashy ex gf around our entire relationship.

            He was also a Schroeder douchbag….he’d say questionable things and then claim to be joking if it wasn’t well received. He made a comment to a friend of mine and her bf about sending him naked pictures, then when confronted threw a tantrum and claimed he was joking.

            Told another from of mine to install mirrors over her bed so she could get better pictures, then claimed to be joking.

            On top of that he could not accept that he was aging and was very jealous of me (19 years younger). He’d tell himself he looked a lot younger (he didn’t) and wore a shitty jet black toupee even though the rest of him was greying.

            I think it must be very hard and sad to be him.

    • My children are from my first marriage and it’s been the same situation with STBX. He and my children have no relationship whatsoever. He’s actually a real asshole most of the time – he can be very cruel when he gets mad over something (which is usually some stupid molehill he’s made into a mountain). However! He’s not conflict avoidant at all. As I said -he’s a real asshole. So it’s not surprising that he’ll tout how we “have to be a family “ but that only involves me treating HIS kids like the sun shines out of their asses while he’d prefer to always put my kids in a back burner.

      TooManyTears-same for my STBX. His mother wasn’t/isn’t an alcoholic but she did abandon him and his sisters when he was 13/14 and his sisters were all very young. He admitted to me, after dday 1, that that’s why craves female attention. It makes him “feel alive”. Well, that’s great. He’s feeling alive while schmoozing his Troll and goodness knows who else, while I’m not only NOT “feeling alive” but very dead inside.

      But hey! As long as he feels good about himself and his kibbles right?

      I, too, spackled and made excuses and felt bad for him for his childhood. In the end none of it has mattered I gave a damn and would’ve been there for him until the very end and he has found it to be more lucrative to keep contingency whore in the background.

      • CMGWAC – love that name by the way…
        I don’t think I will ever understand why, if they finally find someone who loves them, adores them- Has fun with, etc… why an emotional affair would even compare?! Or a tryst? Or a side piece? Or a flirtation?
        A crush… ? Will never, never get that.
        My ex had it made in that department. I adored him. At the end of our days he said to me… “She’s like you were, 15 years ago!” (Meaning- adoring…). I replied:
        You mean before your affairs? Before your mother’s death? Before the 8 years of my mother’s Alzheimer’s? Before my sisters diagnosis with throat cancer? Before we navigated 3 girls through the teen years? Before your job lay off? Before my best friends death from pancreatic cancer?
        Before the thousand things that happen to a person in 15 years? to a marriage?
        So she’s adoring?
        You have not lived a life with her… but good luck out there.
        It shames me that I ever loved a man who could say that with a straight face to his sobbing wife.

        • I am so sorry you dealt with that. It is bad enough what they do. Why can’t the just keep their damn mouth shut, or admit what they are and leave. No they have to take every thing from us.

          The I never loved you shit is almost unbearable.

  • Yup…. This is so on point. 25 years married and probably cheating the entire time but hid it very well. When after Dday he wasn’t sorry, blame ME! and refused to stop cheating and blameshifting I had to do the adulting by filing for divorce and fighting for what was fair- he fought everything. We went to trial 14 months after I filed because I collected, organized and labeled the thousands of documents that comprised the business of our marriage. The judge gave me more that 50% to make up for his 7x earning power. BOOM. X was enraged.

    It’s been 7 years since Dday. He’s become someone I thought I used to know. . . It was a mirage, not a marriage as VH so aptly calls it.

  • This holiday season is your next opportunity to set new standards for yourself and family. Your own accomplishments creating new traditions, new foods new friends or happier more relaxed afternoons will set the standard for everyone going forward.
    The victory pat on the back you will give yourself afterward, for small, for medium and HUGE fabulous steps made forward will be worth it all.

    You don’t drive down the street looking in your rearview mirror. You don’t keep that old, broken down battery in your trunk, do you? Get along, little doggies and make your way forward.

  • Many people have physical reactions to even seeing their ex from a distance, or when hearing anything about them. Chest pain, shortness of breath, dizzyness etc.

    Breaking bread with them ? Nope.

    • Yes! I think I would have a physical reaction????if I were to see him, especially if he’s with the wifetress. I just can’t imagine being 100% neutral…ever.

      For those who are ahead of me on this journey, is “meh” not having any reaction at all?

      • That’s a good question Spinach.
        I think Meh is somewhere between total acceptance of what has happened, and going forward? Or is it no reaction at all?
        I have not seen my soon to be ex in 2 1/2 years (at the lawyers office.)
        I am stumped at what my reaction would be if I ran into him and the office girl.
        I suppose if I saw them and felt – eh. – then I would be at this prized destination – Meh.
        But for me at this point in my journey, it’s that I have no illusions any longer about who he is. I still feel sad at what I thought he – and we – were, but I know that was all an illusion. Still trying to find my way, I suppose. I can’t imagine having no reaction, tho. Sad? Mad? Bad? Disgusted? Happy?!

  • I had been asking my “husband” to leave our home for a month or so before Thanksgiving- I knew he was having an affair with the office girl, which he would not admit, but I knew and did not care at that point (he had years of emotional affairs, and I think, tho certainly not sure, that this was his first physical affair due to proximity- she sat next to him at their office, lol) I did not care at this point, so I had been asking him to leave. When he wouldnt, I LEFT with my daughters for the Thanksgiving weekend.
    Keeping in mind, my whole family knew what had been going on… he called me while I was away and pulled the sad sausage routine. He had made no plans for himself. Did I think he could go to my sisters house for his Thanksgiving????
    Um… not unless you want them to move the Turkey out and stick your sorry carcass on the roaster! I remember thinking: you really are a useless moron.
    We are not divorced yet, even tho he moved in with the “girl” same night I got him to leave. He will not respond to the attorneys requests for docs and a MSA. Why? It’s been 3 years this December. Waiting….

    • Your attorney should have a way to get it finished. Do you really want to? When I interviewed attorneys, that was one of the questions I asked them. I know covid delayed some court systems but 3 years, gah!

      • We have a mediator- since we have no communal property or assets to divide, and no children together, it should have been a slam dunk.
        I was stubborn in thinking – you had the affair(s), you moved in with your girlfriend,
        so YOU can file. He never did. So in July I started the proceedings with the same mediator that did our legal separation.
        This is just part of his conflict avoidant behavior. I absolutely want a divorce and I’m sure his girlfriend wants him to get one, too!
        Next step is filing a default. Sigh.
        Ending the marriage like it started:
        Have no idea what is really going on.

        • Hope it goes ok. I think the constant confusion is a sign of abuse: they are not honest and/or they are hiding something and/or they want cake at your expense.

        • My theory about why the don’t want to divorce even though they are with schmoopie is partly that they want to keep you as plan b for when things blow up (they already know the relationship with schmoopie is high risk), and partly because they just like refusing to give you what you want. They delude themselves that this gives them power and control over you. It’s a sure sign of a toxic, abusive person. Keep on fighting for your freedom and don’t worry about why fw does what he does. Eventually, the fact that he sucks is all the explanation you need. You will no longer wish to untangle the skein.

          My fw, otoh, broke up with schmoopie and did not want to divorce, but he cooperated, probably in order to keep his “nice guy” image. Different strokes for different jokers I guess. 31 flavors of fucked up.

          • Lol OHFFS
            I have no idea why he’s stalling, I’m not even plan Z at this point.
            AND, I’m paying for the attorney!
            (Money well spent)
            Friends have suggested it’s a ploy so that he doesn’t have to marry the office girl, but hello, I live in a no fault state… “this trains leaving the station whether or not you’re on board.”

  • Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. This will be my first since the divorce in August. Cheating Bastard Ex will not be a part of it, but my adult children and their partners will be. So, all new traditions begin this year, and frankly, I’m so excited!
    I always cooked the same bland old crap he preferred. None of that will be on the table this year. We are doing a vegetarian pot luck and everyone is contributing one or two of their favorite dishes.
    Since I have pastry chef training, I’m doing two new desserts I’ve been dying to serve for years.
    This week, I delivered homemade pumpkin and zucchini breads to friends and family who have supported me through all of this, including my therapist. Gifts of gratitude are very important I think, so tonight, I will be writing out notes of thanks for my family that will be gathering with me tomorrow to let them know how thankful I am for their love and support. I am truly blessed to be moving forward with them by my side.

    • This makes me so very happy, DivineMissChump. It’s so wonderful to finally get to cook the food *you* want, isn’t it? Have a blast!

  • This is the tale of my Friendly Divorce from my cheating ex-husband:
    We had separated (a separation initiated by me in the hopes that he would realize my worth and treat me better if he had to do life without me for a while; at this time I had no proof of cheating) and reconciled once before.
    When I discovered his 18-month affair with his “justafriend” coworker, we had been married 18 years and had three teenagers. I confronted him, demanded he cut contact with Justafriend, which he refused. Result: marriage over.
    We hobbled along for 10 months, living separated under the same roof until I was able to get an apartment. Things were civil on the surface and tense underneath. But then, I had walked on eggshells around him for 18 years already, so I was really desensitized.
    We had always just barely gotten by financially. Our only asset was the house, which I had fallen in love with, selected, and lovingly decorated. I couldn’t afford the house on my own, and if I went after full custody and child support, I knew ex would be unable to sustain himself, financially, practically, AND mentally. Furthermore, I had a high opinion of him as a dad. Our sons were 18 and 16 (daughter 13) and I believed they needed their dad at that juncture more than they needed me, particularly given that they are biracial and, I felt, better served by the guidance of their Black dad as they enter society as young Black men.
    So what did I do? Make a verbal agreement with ex that we would separate, he would keep the house, and in return he would keep me on his health insurance (I was self-employed). We would allow the kids to come and go between our two homes as they pleased.
    And actually, this arrangement worked well for several years. Justafriend got an instant upgrade from mistress to official girlfriend as soon as I moved out, and worked hard to ingratiate herself to my kids. I never did speak to her. When I felt she violated boundaries and stepped onto “mom only” territory with my daughter, I addressed it with ex.
    For several years, ex and I came together for holidays, our kids’ big events, and things we each needed the other’s help with (e.g. he fixed my truck, I installed his laminate floor).
    It wasn’t awesome for me. I don’t think it was for him either. I think it worked because it closely resembled the dynamic that our kids had seen their whole lives. We orbited the three of them like satellites, with precious little connection to each other.
    Some years later, he had divorce papers drawn up. At this point, we had no minor kids, and the whole thing was a formality. My only request was that he include in the decree that I’d be reclaiming my maiden name.
    Looking back now, on the decade-plus since D-Day, it’s easy to point out my mistakes. My chosen path damaged my relationship with my sons (particularly my oldest) in ways that we’ve only just begun to repair in the past couple of years. They “forgot” their father’s infidelity and accepted his spin-doctored version of events (“mom left us, not sure why, guess she wanted to live the single life”). I never addressed the facts with them until years later, subscribing to the notion that it was best to protect them from the burden of knowledge of “adult issues.”
    Also, I was naive to the fact that in divorce, given a choice, teenagers will stay in the house they’re familiar with. The practical outcome of our “let the kids choose” model was that my sons lived with dad and had sporadic visits with me. My daughter divided her time between us close to 50/50.
    When the kids and I talk about that time in our family’s life, all three say that they’re glad their dad and I got along and had family get-togethers etc. In my daughter’s words, my not addressing her dad’s infidelity with her “allowed her to love her dad” in a way she feels she otherwise couldn’t have done.
    So where are we now? In recent years, my ex has descended into alcoholism. He’s hanging onto his job and his home by the thinnest of threads. As a result of his condition and how it has affected me (drunken voicemail rants etc.) I have gone 95% no contact, 5% gray rock.
    Our kids are in their 20s and none are close with their dad. Though if you asked him, he would be clueless that anything is amiss.
    In conclusion, I made the best decisions I could with the tools and knowledge I had at the time. I forgive myself for where I fell short, and wake up every day and try to do a little better.

    • What a mighty thing to do. It was a tough call, and it sounds like you were incredibly clear eyed about unusual risks. You weren’t wrong to see a great risk in how harsh this world can be to a black man who goes wobbly. So you went an extra mile to protect your children from seeing that, or experiencing it. I haven’t heard many stories from chumps in mixed race families. So I’m sure that there are special considerations.

      Whatever drawbacks from that arrangement, I’m sure that your modeling mightiness was a good thing for those kids, which will become more apparent as time passes. It’s so easy to focus on a “better” and not see the good before us. I’m sure that you’ve denied yourself much to be just a little bit “better”, and it’s not always apparent. FWIW, your story quite warmed my heart. Just the season. Thank you.

      • Thank you, Chumpkins! You honor me with your kind words. Model mightiness is indeed what I tried to do, though I didn’t have CL and CN’s succinct language for it at the time.
        I think I must have appeared very stoic to my kids – in stark contrast to their sad sausage dad, particularly after his relationship with Justafriend AP-turned-girlfriend ended.
        The kids spent extra time with him during holidays because they felt bad he was oh so sad and lonely. While mom, by all outward appearances, was doing okay and had her situation under control.
        Today, though, my two youngest came to me for lunch, and oldest with wife went to his in-laws. As chumps we tend to be unselfish and empathetic. I choose to believe the universe rewards us for that, even if it takes a long time.
        Thanks again for your validating comment! I hope your holidays are happy and peaceful!

  • The being friends thing is a waste of time and energy. All it does is stop you from moving on with your own life. I tried this in the beginning also. I was married 21 years and now divorced over 5. I wasted 1-1/2 years of my life after the separation and even after the divorce trying to keep some kind of civil relationship with this schmuck. I finally woke up, blocked him on everything and was finally able to move on. You don’t need a friend who treats you this way. Now I would probably get physically sick if I had to sit at a dinner table across from this a-hole! lol

  • My cheating ex ran home 3,000 miles away to mommy and daddy for Thanksgiving this year (divorce final in September). This is his second trip to them since May of this year. I am certain that he thought his decision would force our kid, now 18, to spend time with him on Christmas… but she decided to come with me to see my family… and go to Harry Potter World! Lucky me, I get her for BOTH holidays! We are going to the coast for 2 nights for Thanksgiving; just to do something completely different. He’s stuck with his racist aunts and uncles eating dried out turkey. I WIN.

  • I’ve been looking to CN for sanity and support for many months now, but never commented. This post is too close to home, though, and I see an opportunity for some advice I probably really need.

    I am still married and sort of separated – he moved himself into an apartment 11 months ago to “figure things out” (read: have time to talk to his Camilla without hiding in the bathroom), but only sleeps there and spends most evenings and parts of weekends at our house. We have 4 kids, all still minors (8 – 17), been married almost 23 years.

    I am a very good/terrible chump. I am extremely resilient (able to take lots of crap) for many reasons, not the least of which is having been in the military for 22 years while raising 4 (quite amazing) kids with a cheating, unsupportive “partner.” This is a problem for me because I cannot get myself to stop taking crap from him or create any real boundaries, though I have known for almost 3 years that he has been cheating for at least 8 years, and he has told me very many times that the OW is his soulmate and he would die if he couldn’t have a relationship with her, and he will never give her up, and generally not caring at all how badly this all makes me feel. For very many years, he’s been gaslighting me and lying to me and making every excuse on earth (mostly “work”) not to be present for kid-raising so he could have time with her. And making me feel very, very bad for expressing any displeasure with having to raise 4 children alone because he always has to “work.” But, also crying a lot when we tried couples’ therapy because he was really sad his glamourous fake life was less glamourous after I found out. (Note: we don’t do any of that any more and I know we will not reconcile.)

    This brings me to Thanksgiving and the ridiculous problem I have. I have only told some of my siblings of these issues (I have 5; my 2 youngest siblings, who live far away, and my parents do not know). I had intended to tell my parents this summer. I finally worked up the courage, with support of my sister and my therapist and CN, who all convinced me that his treatment of me was not normal, and in fact horrible.

    But then my mom got diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Now, i do not think I can tell them. My dad is completely overwhelmed by the diagnosis and daily care for my mom, and my mom is confused (like Alzheimer’s kind of) and extremely emotional, and has no short term memory. If I tell her she will be distraught and confused, and ask over and over again, and I’ll have to tell her over and over, and that just seems too mean to both of us. If i tell my dad, he would have to tell my mom (they are actual soulmates), and again, very mean. They are having the worst time of their lives and the resilient chump in me canNOT bring myself to make it worse with my crappy life. My parents have known my husband for a very long time and treated him like a son (his dad died when he was a kid) and will non-stop ask me where he is if he is not there. And there are just no reasons I can make up for him not being at home for Thanksgiving.

    Soooo… we are all spending Thanksgiving together at my parents’ house. My siblings and I and spouses (minus mine – he will just hide in some room and look at his phone) and kids are making all the food, etc, etc, and it will be great to have all 22 of us under one roof in over 2 years (we are all military, so people are all over the world). BUT, my husband makes me feel miserable and will be unpleasant to everyone but the kids (who think he is super-uncle/dad) and my parents. He continues to pretend to care deeply about my mom, and all of that. Towards me, he is just a jerk, as you are all familiar with – treats me like crap, won’t talk to me, etc – says he doesn’t want to “give me hope.”

    I need to be able to get rid of him and go No Contact, but I feel extremely stuck right now with my parents and my kids. I know the answer is I just need to do it and go No Contact. But, I can’t do that for this holiday. For now, do people have suggestions for me trying to stay happy with my family and enjoy what could be our last Thanksgiving all together without letting the jerk get in my head?

    • Almost all of us were super duper chumps at one time. It’s probably too late for anything but grey rock over Thanksgiving, but I suggest acting for yourself after the holiday. You don’t have to tell your folks about it. But you do have to grow up and take responsibility for yourself: find an attorney ( I drafted a document with one but did not file until 4 months later), look over your financial picture with a financial planner, talk with a realtor in private, search apartments or other housing for yourself, get all the needed repair work done on cars & home, get all your medical, dental & eye exams caught up, and purchase things like a new computer for yourself. Set up a new bank account for only you, and start putting money into it.
      I am older, grey divorce here, and my father is still alive, highly intelligent, & still independent. I did run my finances by him a year prior to actually filing, just to have a third eye on my budget, but when it came time to file, I knew that this was my decision, my life, & my responsibility.
      You got this! And you will keep getting stronger with every decision you make for your own good.

    • SuperDuperChump: my advice is to pick a quiet moment to inform your cheater that this is his last family turkey dinner so he should enjoy it.

      Next item is that his personal belongings at your home will be out on the front porch tomorrow by 5 PM for one week. After that, if still there, GoodWill is called to remove things.

      Last item, your attorney will be in touch with him. Then, go No Contact with cheater.
      Good luck. Stay strong.

    • Oh doll. I am truly sorry to hear about your Mama. FWIW, with your loved ones around you from all over and considering your Mom’s condition I’d try not to spend one second worrying about him and instead spend time with your parents and other loved ones. If he’s hungry he can serve himself, if he wants to speak to you, tell him this is his last Thanksgiving with this family and you wouldn’t want to ‘give him hope’ for anything different. Maybe let someone know to keep an eye on him in case he tries to make a scene because you’re not catering to him that they’re to escort him out. Do not spend any time near him but instead immerse yourself in laughter and conversation with the other loved ones there. And make a plan for Christmas on what to tell everyone – perhaps he’ll be ‘working’ then. Good Luck and sending you a big hug.

    • (((((SuperDuperChump)))) You’ve got this. It’s hard when it first sinks in that everything moving forward is your choice and your decision. We chumps are used to feeling like nothing is our choice and nothing is our decision. Reading your post I can tell you are getting there; you are getting your mental ducks in a row. You’ve got this!!!

    • It’s very sweet and chumps that you are trying to protect your parents (and by so doing, you) from reality. It’s not “mean” to tell them the truth about your marriage. It’s not.

      My own mother had dementia and did not even recognize me at the end. She was certain that her daughter (me) never visited her and told me so regularly. Even if your husband is in the room, she may not note that he is there. Brain cancer is probably even less predictable, but even people with cancer have to live in the world as it exists, and not in a faked reality.

      It takes a lot of courage to live your truth (you need a divorce) when you fear disappointing people and you feel “mean” for telling them the truth.

      The only way for the “jerk” to not “be in [your] head” is to get away from him.

  • One year ago this holiday weekend I told the FW that I was filing for divorce (36 year marriage). I finally had my ducks in a row. It was a freeing feeling. I then moved into a rental home which was a wonderful relief for my adult children also, one of which lives with me due to a disability.

    For me, I was finally I n the driver’s seat, taking charge of my life. It also meant that FW would have to handle the day to day activity & cleaning of our family home which had to be put on the market. I loved that part, because for 7 “business relocations,” I had stayed behind with the kids to get the house on the market & keep it clean & leave during showings. During some of these, I now know he lived the life of a bachelor.

    So I have had one Christmas in my FW free home and am looking forward to the first Thanksgiving. Most of my adult children are out of state, but I will celebrate with the 2 here. They see their dad about every 2 months for 1-2 hours & they don’t talk about it much.
    My attorney filed the original petition under “unfortunate and irreconcilable differences” and only the “irreconcilable” made it on to the divorce certificate.

    I had to pick up an amended copy of the certificate yesterday because there was a typo in the number of children from this marriage – someone typed in one less child than I actually had! After birthing & loving & raising them all to adulthood (mine & FW’s one & only marriage) I was not going to let that slide by!
    I walked out of the county clerks office with happiness welling up inside of me! I then went to the bank & found out that FW finally closed the joint checking account- last on the list of financial “to do’s.” All in all, a good day, and a good year!

  • I’ve been doing pretty good and then my son told me my ex invited him to Thanksgiving. The thanksgiving with all our friends that we used to go to. They want him there, not me. They want the sex addict who is attracted to children at their holiday celebration, not me. And yes, they have children.

    What do you even do with that?

    Oh, but the woman hosting is afraid he’ll commit suicide when he realizes what he’s done. This is the woman I stood in front of and told her I wasn’t doing well and thinking of ending it and she said nothing. And then an hour later she started up with “OMG, I’m so afraid HE will commit suicide!” and she kept on with that throughout the day while I stared at her thinking, are you fucking kidding me?

    So the insanity of it all threw me when my son told me he’d been invited. He’s not going as he has to work and didn’t know if he’d want to go anyways. But it inspired me to do my own thing for the holidays and FUCK everyone else and FUCK what people think I should do.

    I told my sister I’m not doing Thanksgiving. I’m not inviting her over. She posts pictures of her cleavage on facebook and my ex (whom she is still friends with) likes those pictures. So they can do Thanksgiving together if they want and leave me the fuck alone. I’m not hosting her and I’m not feeding her. I work super early the next morning anyways so I’m going to do a little meal for me, my boyfriend, and my son that we’ll probably eat around noon since we are all working either that night or early the next morning. And it will be lovely and peaceful.

    • (((KatiePig)))) It hurts when people you think are friends are not friends. I know it’s good to know in the long term, but in the short term it hurts like hell. Sounds like you have a good plan. (((Hugs)))

    • Funny how so many people tend to feel sorry for the creeper, but not the victims of the creeper. It’s almost as if they think being victimized is contagious, so they want nothing to do with you. They pretend the FW is actually human instead of a monster so they can pity the poor sausage, and they dehumanize the chump so as to justify rejecting you. I don’t understand these people. They are seriously messed up and you are better off not knowing them.

  • I didn’t think I could relate much to this one b/c I don’t have kids with my ex, but boy, it hit me for a couple of reasons:
    1. I found myself getting angry at the OP for being such a doormat, and then I realized I was just angry at myself b/c *I* was that doormat. He lied, cheated, and stole joint assets, but *I* was the one staying up all night worrying I had offended him because I told him to stop taking joint assets out of the house without asking me first. It took me a lot of therapy to realize that he had trained me to be like that over the 20 years we were together–to put his interests first and make mine really small and always capitulate to his interests if they came into conflict; he trained me aggressively by shouting and calling me names and subtly by ignoring me and walking away from me when I was asking for something he didn’t want to give me or saying something he didn’t want to hear. It takes time, and therapy and practice, to undo this training. So, I’m sending big ((hugs)) to the OP and hoping that she’s started down that road; I have, even though it’s a long road.
    2. I’m 2 years out from the divorce being final (2.5 out from DDay), and the only time I get nostalgic for our relationship now is around the holidays–especially when I think of the good times we had when we visited his family. And then, I remember: he was nice then because he was the Golden Child and everyone waited on him hand and foot, so he was in his “noblesse oblige” mode; and, there were lots of moments folded in with those memories that were *not* nice: him getting in a fist fight with his brother on Thanksgiving at the age of 37 (FFS!); his narc sister screaming obscenities at everyone on Christmas Eve. What I miss is the “mirage,” as Velvet Hammer likes to call it. I miss the fantasy of having a family who really knew me and loved me and had my back. The reality was abuse. It’s OK to grieve the loss of the fantasy, but it’s also important to tell myself it was ever only that.

  • My ex not only wanted that easy divorce but also wanted us still being Facebook friends, my garage to store all of his stuff in (after he’d married the OW), and a couch to sleep on when he comes to visit the kids (again, now married to the OW and living in another state for her job). But what takes the cake? (Ha!pun intended) He also wanted Thanksgiving dinner with us- with the OW there, too. One big happy family.

    (And yes he threw a fit every time I said no.)

    • Eww, no, just no!
      This reminds me of when I was married just a few years, with 2 kids. The EX & I went to see a play at the small theater in the small town we lived in. I don’t remember the name of it. It was set in the 1940’s or 1950’s. The plot revolved around a woman, a stay at home wife, no kids, whose husband ran around on her. It culminated in a tragic death of the other woman during childbirth. The man brought the newborn home to his wife. She forgave him (she never let on that she knew) and took the baby in as her own.

      Cue sad sausage music and honor forgiveness over shit sandwiches!!!
      My then husband said how wonderful she was & she did the right thing. I was astonished when I heard him say that. I already could feel the pain of a secret life, without knowing about the secrets yet. Finding out that my then husband did not express any disgust for a cheater surprised me. Instead, he clearly admired cake.

  • I was recently invited to Thanksgiving dinner this Sunday. The STBX’s family ways have it on the weekend following.

    FW will be there.

    FW’s family is terribly disappointed in FW. They seem sympathetic to me – I know this must be hard on them. FW is a porn addict and I found child porn disks in his belongings. I haven’t discussed all the details with FW’s family.

    FW was in therapy with a good therapist for a year. Therapist dropped him 3 times for no progress. FW lied repeatedly to therapist. FW been heavily into porn and hookers for 4 decades.

    I have a severe feeling of dread about going. I have called and left messages for lawyers but none have returned my calls. FW is out of the house I bought and paid for completely before marriage since November first.

    FW emailed me on veterans day to wish me happy veterans day. I told him DO NOT contact me unless true emergency for 2 weeks starting November 1st. He did it anyway. I replied to email and said you do not, never have and again disrespect my boundaries. I then went back to hard core no contact.

    Married 2 years next month. Both of us older. No kids. I vetted him for 7 years before marriage. Prenup in place. I hope the prenup was worth it.

        • Get that attorney ASAP. In my area some do a divorce for a flat fee. Get it now before he is arrested and caught up in a criminal case.
          I’d stay far away. Why eat with the guy who hurt you? And who is actively hurting others.
          He has already committed a crime. He just hasn’t been caught yet.
          No shame on you. Pedophiles know exactly how to pick their targets and how to cover themselves.

        • No way you should go.

          Hard no contact with him or his people.

          FFS–you were married for less than 2 years. AND CHILD PORN. Stay clear of all of these people.

    • Possession of child porn is a criminal offence in most western countries. You should turn him in. Its a heinous crime.

      • I went to the local PD the day after I found it. There were half a dozen disks.

        I asked for a detective or a sex crimes officer. I got a young cop. He said I live with a porn addict. I said that is true but I was reporting a felony. The officer then told me I am just not happy because I am not getting any. He said they’d call.


        I told officer my FW was investigated years ago for child porn on the net. I gave officer FW’s SSN, DOB and driver’s license number.

        I guess I gotta get police report from years ago and file a complaint against that officer.

        Darned porn addicts are everywhere and they protect themselves.

        I am about to barf again.

          • Gotta come out of retirement and get a job. Not too good looking at my age. I was comfortably retired before present FW.

            I keep putting in job apps with no interviews…way below my skills.

            I need money for the lawyer. FW kinda drained me. As all FW’s do.

            • I’m so sorry, Spedie, that is gross and unbelievable that it seems nothing is being done ???? I’m not sure what else to say except I wish you the best going forward. CN is behind you!

            • Don’t worry about whether a job is below your skills. Think of it as temporary work to get you back on your feet and through the divorce. Beware of how working impacts Social Security, if you are in the U.S.

        • So sorry you are going thru this.

          Elevating the report would be a positive action step if you feel strong enough. It’s disgusting the response you (didn’t) receive.

          I rarely, rarely dare to give anyone anything like directive advice, but please I think you would be much better advised to stay away from this dinner.

          It can do no one any good, and can only hurt you worse.

  • Spedie I’m so sorry. That is appalling behaviour from the police. I hope you can wind up your divorce very quickly.

    • I hope the prenup holds. Not my first divorce….he has no idea the monster he is about to unleash.

      I wish I had found CL earlier than I did.

      This place has helped me a great deal. Like putting aside my gay ex (father of my two grown kids). I trust that he sucks.

      Now I gotta get to heh and Tuesday with this FW.

  • Klootzak hates holidays and he ruins them. He always has. He blames bad memories of his FOO. When I file, I know exactly where he will go for future Thanksgivings – to be with his sister. I fully expect him to want to have our son for every Thanksgiving because it is the holiday he might not eff up too badly. He has a turkey fryer so he can sort out some kind of meal. I don’t care how it goes so long as I don’t have to be there. His sister can tell him how wonderful he is and they can high five because they are blood and no one else is. Whatever. What I DO know is that I do not need to attend such garbage “for the children.” Kiddo can go attend without me. If our son does go spend that weekend with klootzak, I will likely book myself a trip at that time. Or stay home and roast myself a duck. My father’s family originated in Eastern Europe and they favored duck for Thanksgiving. I tolerate turkey but if I don’t have duck on Thanksgiving with my grandmother’s stuffing, it doesn’t feel like Thanksgiving. And klootzak hates duck and will only eat Stove Top stuffing, so seriously, getting rid of him will restore peace to my holiday table. lol Spending any holiday with an ex seems like the worst punishment. Holidays are supposed to be fun, good times spent with people you care about. Klootzak is the antithesis of that.

    I am thankful this year that I found CN. It has helped me keep my head straight and keep moving forward. I now have 60% of my retainer saved up and can put the rest on my credit card if I must. I have a small investment I will be able to cash out in the spring (if I hold out that long), which would avoid using the card.

    Some dynamics are changing with klootzak’s job and I think he is going to announce the need to move. I feel like he is holding off until after Christmas to announce this and thinks he is going to blindside me and say we are selling the house and going. And the I will drop the bomb. “You know, I am thinking you should go find a place for yourself to live and we can start a separation.” I expect arguing and stammering and will have to gray rock hard. Then I’ll call the attorney and tell him to drop the papers. He is going to be furious that he can’t sell the house and buy his dream pad with the proceeds and then, after moving us, tell me to go find a shitty little apartment. No way, Jose. I’m not leaving my life here in this relatively inexpensive place in the home I have been restoring for almost 10 years to be dumped in an expensive area where I have no friends or anything. I’m not yanking our son out of the school he loves where he has started making good friends. This is stability. He can go be unstable all on his own.

    I thought I was going to be giving the “let’s divorce” speech a few nights ago. I was anxious but realized I was also immensely excited! I had the thought that I might actually be more excited to be free of the cheating FW than I was when he proposed marriage almost 18 years ago.

    I knew this would happen. I could feel it coming. He wants to be in the big city. I knew it was a matter of time before he found a position for himself there. He had said it on last D-day; he thought positions he wanted would be there and it “would be best if after we move if (I) would find a different place to live.” His intent was to move us and then discard me. He tipped his hand.

    So on this Thanksgiving, klootzak might very well announce that “this is our last Thanksgiving in this house” and that he has taken a position requiring him to be several hours away. And if he does, I will say, “That won’t be necessary. DS and I will stay here and you can find a place to live there.”

    There are only a few ducks not lined up yet but I can’t help that. I would bet money that the time to file is going to hit before February. That will bring on the misery of divorce itself plus coparenting with a FW, but the FREEDOM… to never have klootzak in my house ruining my holidays ever again? Priceless. I can finally see the finish line!

    • Good luck, MrWonderful’sEx, sounds like you have a good plan! I love the smell of thwarting FW’s plans in the morning ????

    • Your small town will be that much nicer without klootzak. You’ve worked hard to get to this point. I hope it’s easier knowing it’s only this last holiday. In reality, that’s only 6 more weeks!

      • I wish you the best, but right now I’m fixating on the memory of growing up with all those American/Ukrainian holiday roast ducklings with raisin-bread stuffing. Thanks for the happy memory, and best of luck to you, Mr.Wonderful’sEx.

        • Glad to provide the memory. My father’s family was Polish (with some Russian blood, as I learned through a lot of research) and duck was what it was all about! Grandma’s stuffing was from this ancient, stained cookbook and used a particular brand of poultry seasoning which is hard to find these days. (I bought a huge supply a few years back when I found it.) I have cooked turkey tender and delicious, but in its best day, a turkey will never make the holiday the way a duck does. It takes me back to childhood, too! When klootzak is gone, I will never cook turkey on Thanksgiving ever again!

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