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How Did You Line Up Your Ducks?

We talk a lot at CN about “lining up your ducks” — stealthily doing your reconnaissance work before you leave a cheater. Getting financial records, saving money, seeing lawyers on the sly…

To be chumped is to be underestimated. Why of course you trust them! You’d never dream of asserting yourself. Bleat on with your misery and accusations of them, it’s not as if you’d actually DO anything about it.

Until the day you do.

It’s very difficult to keep it all under wraps. Did you tip your hand? Today’s Friday Challenge is to share your advice on doing the prep work to leave. Or, what NOT to do. (i.e., announce your plans to the object of your oppression.)



Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at [email protected]. Read more about submission guidelines.
  • Very timely post for me. I’m just starting this process so look forward to hearing the dos and don’ts from experienced experts.

    • Good morning GetMeOutASAP,
      Welcome to CN.
      Your message is a bit vague, but since you’re here, I imagine you’re a chump.
      Your life is about to implode and disappear/ or is in the process, so this time is about you, healing you, protecting you, and if you have children being a sane parent.
      CL is the expert, so follow her advice. DO NOT do the pick me dance. Walk away from this freak as you walk away from the toilet. Flush, good riddance. Remember he/ she sucks. There is nothing good about that person. Nothing. Get an STD check. Get a lawyer. Get your finances in order. Now, you’re going to spend oodles of time in the skein, and you will be depressed etc on your journey to Tuesday. I can’t imagine your pain and suffering, but if it’s anything like mine then you need to get right ASAP. I started running when I was so depressed my only thought besides suicide was sleep and vice versa. Your journey is you, but you must drag yourself out of the nightmare and protect you and your kids ( if you have them ). Live. NO Contact. Remember he/she sucks. Sane parent. Do not pick me dance. Your freak has nothing to offer you but oozing sores and heartache. Why do that to yourself? Good luck and we’re here for you on your journey to Tuesday.

      • Xioba Xioba: Thank you. My wife of 30 years has been engaged in an emotional affair for a year with a man who lives overseas. My wife told me about it early this year. I was shocked and got very close to tossing her out, when I suddenly had a change of heart and started playing the “pick me!” dance, which I’ve been doing most of this year. What a huge mistake. Hasn’t changed anything. I wish I had found this site back when my wife first told me. But better late than never. Our kids are adults and live on their own, so thankfully that’s not an issue. I am the sole breadwinner living in a no fault divorce state. I have my first consult with a divorce attorney next week. Now that I’ve made the shift away from the pick me dance, I’m pissed off. Every day, when I’m by myself the words that come out of my mouth to describe what I think about my wife are shocking even to me. I think a lot of repressed anger is finally coming out. Perhaps that’s a good start to healing…

        • GetMeOutASAP,
          A wise man once told me “you are right where another man has been and another man will be”. At the time, that sentiment enraged me and all my anger and hatred turned inward on me as I took the blame and tried to reconcile. Only now after almost a year of self torture, do I understand what he meant, so I say hate away. It’s ok because those sentiments are emotions about her and as freaks are wont to do, she is putting it all on you so she can have cake. It’s going to be rough, but NO Contact and remember she sucks. You do not suck. You are an amazing man who gave up 30 years of your youth to trash. Do you hear that? You are a good and awesome person who opened his heart and became vulnerable to trash. It’s harsh, but the only thing that matters is you and you getting right and being awesome. Listen to CL “leave a cheater gain a life”. Others might have a different perspective but we chumps are here for you. You got this! I believe in you and want the best you out of this shit show. I’m sorry for your situation but she’s trash.

          • “…she is putting it all on you so she can have cake.” That is so right on target. When I read about cake in CL’s book, the scales fell from my eyes. An entitled narcissist is gonna narcissist. That’s what low character losers do. Thank you for your encouragement. Greatly appreciated. You made my day.

        • My advice to you is to know what you’re willing to walk away from for peace. When divorcing an entitled cheater, you can be right or you can be happy, but rarely both…as in, there’s what she/you are legally entitled to but then there’s what extra you’re willing to give to get out, assuming she makes the process difficult (they almost always do). For example, although I was entitled to it, I walked away from alimony from my cheater ex, even tho I was unemployed in school at the time and really could have used the money. I also let him take whatever shared stuff he wanted from the house…which he sure did. It’s just stuff. I bought a cheap giant bean bag that my daughter and I used as a couch for a long while, until I graduated and got a job. I bought secondhand appliances, cause he took those too. Was worth it to be detached from him.

          So, just know boundaries and think about what will make you truly happy (lol, NOT revenge…it’s not worth it), then decide what that’s worth. Often, throwing stuff and money at these disordered people makes them disappear…and that can make you happy.

          • NotANiceChump: Thank you. I’ve been thinking about that a lot. What’s the value of just getting it over with and moving on versus engaging in a prolonged battle? Not sure yet where I come down on that, but this year has already sucked so much that I think I would be willing to give some just to get it all behind me. That being said, if she tries to play hard ball I have a feeling I might go to war guns blazing. All TBD.

            • Think of your retirement and if you are willing and able to provide financial support to your kids and grands.

            • Just be careful with giving away the store. I gave my ex a fair settlement – nothing more than the baseline law in our state. He took me back to court for prolonged post-decree nonsense 5 times over 8.5 years. He lost every motion and I lost another $40k. This is the first year since 2009 that I haven’t had legal expenses.

              It’s great that you don’t have minor children like I did. Just make sure you have a kickass attorney who ties up every loose end. Read as much as you can on divorce and don’t just rely on your attorney. You know you and you know her best. And finally, before you sign, have a few other folks (preferbly ones who lived through divorce and post-decree) read your agreement to be sure there’s no place she can take you back to court.

              • GetMeOutASAP, I gave my 7 years younger ex more than he would have achieved had he gone to court. He had a long distance ‘emotional affair’ with his married ex gf from school. I had to issue financial relief proceedings (UK) because he would not make any kind of offer to resolve things, though he said he ‘knew what he was in for’ – he pretended to be urbane but scratch the surface and he was what he was. My legal fees increased in consequence of his refusal to engage. I was 60 then, working 6 days a week at high pressure jobs (I’ll be doing that to 70). There came a point when paying the extra was worth it not to have to see his ugly face ever again. It was like the scales fell from my eyes. Sad, but there we are. He had another partner (denied). She will share in the pension that I helped him earn over 26 years. But you know, it’s a price worth paying to put that rubbish out. Yes, I could have fought tooth and nail (we are both UK lawyers), but my life and peace of mind are worth so much more than the cash I gave him to get him off the deeds. I like my work so that’s no hardship. I’m free. That’s priceless. I like my own company. I’ll live! Him, well who cares.

            • It might be helpful to get your hands on some of her insipid love texts/emails to long distance schmoopie. If you can’t crack her phone, pretend you need to see them because you want to see what they have that you could not give her, that you need to understand where you went wrong. A fake sob or two helps in addition to the self blame. They love to make us hurt and see us scrambling to understand why we’re so deficient. Ask her to send a selection to you for you to read so you can learn how to be a better man and give a woman the love she needs. Yeah, I know that the pride rebels against the fake groveling. But keep your eyes on the prize my friend.As soon as you receive them, go NC.

              Later, if she ever gives you any trouble re; the divorce, you can always tell her you’ll post her drivel all over social media, plus paper her neighborhood with them, along with the sordid story of her long term affair, if she doesn’t comply with your terms. Make the terms reasonable enough that she’ll agree.

              I had worse stuff on my fw than that and the ploy worked. I got EVERYTHING. Fuckwit was down some chipped dishes, a crappy bed, and a loveseat with ripped upholstery. I generously let him keep his 2014 shitbox car, though. Hey, I’m not heartless. ????

              Other than that, all the usual advice applies. STD check, because I can almost guarantee you it was not purely emotional. At some point he came into town and they fucked.

              You’ve lawyered up and that’s good. Do not assume she will be reasonable, and be ready for anything.

              • “It might be helpful to get your hands on some of her insipid love texts/emails to long distance schmoopie.”

                Love that idea OHFFS. Thank you!

    • Getmeoutasap, you’re in the right place. We understand. The horizontal pick-me-dance (e.g. terror sex) is demoralizing and I still feel ashamed thinking of how desperately I was clinging to my abusive spouse. But, I was doing the best I could. I was married 25 years, 4 kids, totally blindsided. It took time to figure it out (roughly a year) and realize there was nothing to work with and to get mad enough to stand up for what was left of myself. I was in terror of losing everything financially but filed, pushed through a divorce from hell (rich, lawyer-XH, narcissist with BPD (diagnosed)) and had a 10-day trial in a no fault CP state. Judge awarded far more than the paltry last offer at mediation.

      Get a great lawyer. Come here daily for support. You’ll get through this to live a new and eventually wonderful life. It’s been 7 years for me and I still come here for the community and to reach a hand to newer folks. It’s gets so much better! Time and no contact. Those are key.

      • MotherChumper your story is one of bravery. Stepping into the unknown after years of marriage is horribly frightening. The courage to do this is phenomenal.

      • Motherchumper99: Thank you for the encouragement. I feel lucky that I’m holding the financial cards in terms of income. Look forward to seeing what my attorney advises. Concerned about what our kids will think. They’re all adults in their 20s. I think they will be shocked. Will my cheater wife start in with a string of lies to manage her reputation. So many unknowns, but here I go. Grateful to have a support group like this forum. What a blessing.

        • Be like ice, and chill. Convey nothing digitally because it will be used against you. Likewise save all digital communications you receive (not to use, but to protect just in case). Do not tip your hand until you file.

          Be chill! You are dealing with and separating from a person who lied to you. That person is adversarial and intends you harm. Until you are free give that person no ammunition to fire at you.

          It’s so hard what you are facing. We’ve all been there. Until free discuss nothing but the weather. Lawyer up, and file swiftly and directly.

          It’s so much easier and cleaner to deal with emotional trauma after you have at least filed. A clean break is a fast break.

          God speed, Brother—

        • You didn’t do anything wrong ! I would tell your kids today why you’re filing for divorce. They will have to manage their relationship with their mother from now on.

          I used to attend CoDA meetings regularly and was the inter group rep for one of my meetings. One of the other reps (a hetero married woman) spoke of limerence at a regional conference. She was cheating on her husband ! It’s a triggering buzz word for me now.

          I spotted a bunch of cheaters in these meetings. One woman burst into tears because her husband didn’t want an open marriage ???? Hilarious to watch potential flying monkeys rush to comfort her at the end of that meeting. Ffs

          • Thank you Saffa. The way my soon to be former wife talks about her love object, I’m sure it’s limerence. Like an idiot, I allowed that to be an excuse for her infidelity, but as CL says everyone has a CHOICE, no matter what they’re feeling. But narcissists choose themselves. My wife told me she wanted BOTH her marriage AND her love object relationship. Talk about cake!

            • The gall ! Proposing a ménage à trois, was she ?

              A distant elderly family member died earlier this year. Her father was a cheater, her marriage was very brief and later in life, her live in partner actually proposed that his side piece move in ! She told him to get out of HER house.

          • CORRECTION

            Right after you drop the boom on your wife by filing, tell your kids why.

              • Also, keep it short and clean, but firm:

                No details about what she did or your anger about it. Just, “I found out your mother has been in a long-distance relationship with another man for over a year, so I’m divorcing her.”

                Then, establish your boundaries with them: “No, I won’t go into the details with you, that’s not appropriate for a parent-child conversation. Also, while I won’t tell you how to interact with your mother, I do not want you to tell her anything about me, or pass on any messages from her.”

                Your kids will be very grateful in the long run if you tell them enough truth to keep them from being gaslit, but also refuse to trauma-dump on them, or allow them to get involved in the conflict.

              • traffic_spiral, I copied and pasted what you wrote because it’s been on my mind about what to say to my adult children. I love the idea of keeping it short and to the point, and setting boundaries right off about what I will and will not share with them. Very grateful for your insights.

        • Getmeout, one of the hardest things is negotiating relationships with family and friends after the reveal. Be prepared in case your children either won’t believe her betrayal, or even come down on her side. As an honest, self-respecting man who wants rid of deception and exploitation, they will probably have learnt from you and will sooner or later accept that she’s a fuckwit. I don’t know your relationship with your kids but as adults they should understand your position and as soon as you feel your preparations for divorce won’t be harmed, you should tell them the unvarnished truth. I am sorry this awful thing has been inflicted on your family by her – but this is the exact right place for you to be to get advice and support. Chump Nation is here for you!

          • “As an honest, self-respecting man who wants rid of deception and exploitation, they will probably have learnt from you and will sooner or later accept that she’s a fuckwit.”

            Thank you ArtistFormerlyKnownAsChump.
            I have an excellent relationship with my children, but I don’t know how they will initially react to the news. A mix of shock and anger I would guess. Whatever the case, as you recommend, I’m going to stay focused on the long game.

            • You might think of writing a letter, so they can read it and have their initial responses on their own time. You can discuss it (at whatever level of detail you decide is appropriate) when they have gotten over their initial shock.

    • Be as quiet as you need to be, to understand how you need to deal so that you can be free.

      Rage is never to your benefit so if that’s what you need to express, get thee to a ‘breaking’ room and use the bats, axes and other smash things to smash things. And don’t take it out on the people involved in this because it will tend to have bad outcomes for you.

      Get documents showing how long the affairs have happened for. Get documents showing you paid bills for their porn, their sex chats, their rubdowns. Document the financial infidelity and utilize it within your documents for filing.

      Ask trusted friends for help. Tell them the truth, ask them to hold confidences with you, and also use their help to hold documents and copies of required records securely.

      Breathe. Walk/run/exercise to help the ptsd and anxiety.

      Don’t let yourself be guided into looking like the crazy one. Ranting about infidelity unfortunately tends to make you the villain. Just be quietly classy and rise above.

      • “Don’t let yourself be guided into looking like the crazy one. Ranting about infidelity unfortunately tends to make you the villain. Just be quietly classy and rise above.”

        Thank you creativerational. I’ve been in the high stress corporate world for a long time so I feel confident I can do this. Granted though, have never faced an issue this personal. Will likely have to call on all my experience to keep my cool.

        • GetMeOut – I’m 5 years ahead of you and as time goes by, my kids (adults) and I have had such interesting conversations about all the narcissists tricks; blameshifting, minimizing, DARVO, and changing the narrative as time goes by. They are calm conversations and we laugh about things now. It’s nice to educate them about things I was completely clueless about at their age. I feel they are more equipped to handle the world with this knowledge. Of course in early days, I just answered their questions without editorializing. I told them the truth and tried to keep it very short and factual. Those were painful conversations and there was no laughter. But my therapist told me that all of us have a right to know the truth about what’s going on in our lives and homes – kids included. She said don’t gaslight them like he gaslighted you. They need an honest parent they can trust. Now their dad says to them, “I don’t bash your mom like she bashed me” and they burst out laughing. “Dad, she didn’t do anything wrong (loser)!” They have zero respect for him. Zero.

          • Thank you KathleenK. I’m preparing myself mentally to keep the explanation short without editorializing. I think that will take discipline if my wife blameshifts everything on to me, which is likely, and the kids say to me, “Well mom said blah blah blah….” I’ll have to be patient and let them learn over time what kind of character their mom has.

          • KathleenK. What a great therapist you have! Love that she said that about an honest parent they can trust. My daughter’s therapist told me I shouldn’t say anything, that it was something just between my husband and me. I told the therapist that I would tell my daughter if he robbed a bank, or if he punched someone — I will tell her what happened with her Dad. Plus, she is 22, more than old enough, even with high functioning autism, to know the truth. No emblishments, just the truth.

    • Don’t ever get upset at the cheaters place of work but have him “SERVED” there it’s golden.

    • If you think your ex is going to be financially abusive, try to pre-pay everything you can before you file. Insurance, car payments, rent/mortgage, gym membership, orthodonture, whatever you can think of. Divorce is stressful so maybe pre-pay a package of massage treatments. When you go to the store, slip a gas/grocery gift card in the basket and hide them where the ex can’t find them.

      Anything you have that is precious to you that can be stolen/broken or haggled over needs to be out of sight. If you think yo, your kids, or your pets are in physical danger, have a safe place to go set up in advance.

  • I wanted to surprise her by slapping her with divorce papers, but I couldn’t do it. I’m a very direct person and I don’t keep secrets very well, especially in a situation like this one where I was feeling so much agony and rage. I sat on it for about a day before I confronted her.

    I’d also never been cheated on before and didn’t realize that confronting her would just get me more lies, blame shifting, and defiant lack of remorse.

    In my defense, I kicked her out by the end of the week. It wasn’t a lack of self preserving anger that made me show myself. I just don’t do secrets.

    • Good for you for going on the offensive. No one expects to have this life skill.

    • By the very end, my abundance of self-preserving anger was what got me out. I wish I’d had a little more self-preserving restraint.

      Maybe I would have, if I’d believed I had something to gain, or even preserve? I didn’t have any ducks to speak of (a result of my own chumpy choices and years of deception and financial and emotional abuse), and a large part of my rage came from this injustice. I also still believed that my ex cared about me in his own way and had some shred of decency; if he could just understand how horrendous and unfair what he’d done was, how badly I was suffering as a result – wouldn’t he change course and at least offer closure?

      Unfortunately, trying to get an abuser to stop being abusive does not work – it just puts more power in their hands. If you continue to engage with a disordered cheater, especially at the end when it’s clear all is lost and you’re no longer completely under his/her thumb (and consequences that actually matter to them – i.e. financial losses and damaged image and ego), you will see what escalating abuse and “scorched earth” are all about. It was impossible for me *not* to react when faced with such cruelty and dishonesty from the person I had loved deeply and made countless sacrifices for.

      I did everything wrong (for many years, and also at the end). My advice: NEVER believe or trust a cheater, and do not try to get anything from a cheater by asking or explaining. Decide what you want and figure out the best, safest way to leverage that. If a person who gets through life by abusing power knows what you want, they will use it against you. SOP. Even after you’re free, abusers can continue to control you this way, and they will not hesitate to deceive or steal from you (as they’ve already shown time and again). They can still take things that matter away from you, and they can still humiliate you if you are fool enough to share your feelings and vulnerabilities. And like so many other chumps and victims of abuse have shared, fuckwits will do whatever it takes to portray you as the unstable, crazy, abusive one – and they are sneaky and manipulative enough to make others believe it even when the shitty story of who they are and what they’ve done is out there for all to see. Even if you’ve been the sane, responsible, loving one for years.

      • Excellent advice and a good warning, bread&roses: even when it’s over, it’s not necessarily over.

  • I lined up my ducks after both D-Days when FW was happily in the “OW is my soulmate” honeymoon. I never my cheater; he left me both times…. but I moved on all the administrative stuff after he left the house because (1) it gave me something practical to do that I could use to distract myself from the debilitating depression I was in and (2) my nightmare was that he would swoop in and demand a lot of custody over our kids because he and OW made up a coupled/two-parent household and I was just an under employed single mother now using the food bank to fill the fridge.

    Both reasons were excellent motivations to line up some ducks even though my heart was shattered and my life was exploding around me. I did a lot of the emotional labor and form-filling (and frustrating) work of separating our lives on paper. Things like getting my own bank account finally, getting the bills to me just in my name, and getting the gas card number we shared to just be my gas card number. Some of these were big accomplishments (like the bank account) and many were small (having the gas card just in my name) but all moved me away from him and the pain that surrounds him and towards sweet independence and freedom.

    Not all of that was as easy as just filling out forms. Anything that involves words like “forms” and “registration” usually means bad times and headaches… times that by ten if you are doing it because of marital breakdown. I spent hours on hold and in phone calls with strangers explaining *why* I was changing the names on an account (which was emotional and humiliating) and I recall one person who ceased their investigative stonewalling (“We need to know why you are changing the names of the parties on this account, ma’am”) immediately when I started to sob and explain that the “other party” had left me for another woman.

    Strangely, one of the hardest “shared account” things to alter was our gas card number (a totally voluntary loyalty card program). They wouldn’t alter the account unless they could file away some sort of signed letter from him agreeing to it. I could have cut up the gas card and registered for a new one but I had memorized that number and I wanted to keep it. So I did the emotional legwork of printing out a letter and getting FW to sign it.

    The biggest duck was getting a lawyer and beginning the divorce. I did that while he was still ecstatic about moving in with GF#3. That lawyer kept a tissue box on the corner of her desk for our meetings because she figured out pretty quickly that I’d need it.

    Going through all that changed me fundamentally. I am now a list maker and a pre planner. I don’t even go out for errands now without getting a piece of paper out to plan what happens first, what the importance of each task is and in what order they’ll occur in. Years of duck lining and planning, planning, planning my escape have altered me.

  • Mine made it very easy by insisting on spending 2 months of his long service leave in Paris without me. Refusing to come home for Christmas made it even easier.

    He came back 1st Jan, On 2nd, with the ok of my lawyer, I drove off with my son to my newly leased and furnished villa and half our savings in my new bank account. He didn’t see that coming. Or my 67% settlement.

    Au revoir a-hole.

      • 33yrs Cheers! I had help. Reading Lundy Bancroft a couple of months before the leave started was like a whack from a 4×2 – my shitty life word for word.

        Then reading Chump Lady and great support from 2 of my sisters – along with no fault divorce laws – stiffened my spine.

        I was so hurt at his callous rejection – but then I got angry and his absence became a window of opportunity.


  • Don’t tell cheater about Chump Lady! Even tangentially. It is too good of a safe space to wonder if you’re being stalked here too.

    • Absolutely. Anything that helps you that you tell the FW about is something they use later to harm you.

    • Maybe I’m paranoid, but I don’t even tell friends.

      Note: Chumps are different. I wouldn’t definitely share this site with a chump.

  • I did a lot of things that weren’t necessarily useful–like the struggling swimmer who flails madly in hopes of grabbing hold of something that will save them. In retrospect, some of the actions I took that were useful included:

    –Documenting. I kept a daily log that listed what I did for the kids. While still living together my entry might say:
    “Got kids up and ready for school. Packed lunches and dropped them off. At 5, I took kid
    #1 to soccer and helped kid #2 with homework while we waited at the park for soccer to end.
    Made dinner for family and cleaned up. Read to both kids for 30 minutes before I put them to
    After we separated it might say:
    “At 4:00 kids’ school called to say they had not been picked up. I tried to call EX, but he did not
    answer. I left work and went to retrieve them. I asked the school to document that they had
    tried 3 times to reach EX. I fed kids dinner and helped with homework. Kids missed soccer
    because their gear was at EX’s. At 7:00 EX showed up at my house and accused me of
    kidnapping the kids since they were supposed to be in his custody this week. Kids witnessed
    him yelling at me and calling me a “fucking bitch.” He took them back to his home.”

    It took me awhile to learn not to editorialize. I kept this kind of log for at least two years. Our custody agreement changed several times, and my lawyer said this level of information made it very easy to demonstrate why it was in the kids’ best interest to spend most of their time with me.

    –I moved several hundred dollars in cash to a hiding place in my office. I didn’t have to use it, but it gave me a sense of security.

    –I moved a car trunk full of family heirlooms to my brother’s home. My EX had begun destroying things–ripping up family photos and throwing every dish in a cabinet across the room. I knew he wouldn’t notice if a glass pitcher from my grandmother was gone or the box of Christmas ornaments my mother made was no longer in the garage.

    –I copied all SS cards, birth certificates, and other important docs. I moved the originals to my office and left the copies in our household file.

    A lot of what happens during a divorce is out of your control–especially the cheater’s behavior. My life was falling apart in a violent and dramatic way that was not only hurtful, but was also hugely embarrassing to me. Doing things–keeping records and making plans A, B, and C helped me at least pretend I had some control.

    • The log is a great idea. I will implement that immediately. Great job just reporting facts.

    • I’m so sorry you went through this. I really hope you and your kids are in a better place now!
      This is all great advice. I’ve done some things, such as: started a secret savings account, started legal insurance through my workplace, and I am paying college loan debt down as fast as I can, while he’s paying all the bills. He says there won’t be a D Day #2, but I am prepared in case there is one.

    • Similar to Eilonwy, I documented all of the dates of the “work trips” where he took Schmoopie. 26 vacations with her in one year – where he’d use the beard of “work travel”. When I dropped the list of dates on my lawyers desk, her mouth fell open, as it proved he wasn’t a present or involved parent. (These Cheaters will try to present themselves as Parent of the Year during the divorce).

      I also brought photo albums, anything heirloom, jewelry, even DVDs I didn’t want to disappear, to my office where he could never enter the building, as it’s manned by guards and he’d need a key card to enter. I also brought 4 years of Tax Returns to my office, and other paperwork, like his military discharge paperwork to show he was not in good standing with the military. It was this paperwork that convinced him to settle, after dragging his feet for 7 months, he didn’t want Schmoopie to know he was anything other than a model military man.

  • First thing I did was change the beneficiary on my life insurance. Nothing else was as important as making sure he didn’t get that big payout if anything happened to me while I was working on the rest of it.

    • I did the same, put my Mum as beneficiary, same with my supperannuation, or 41k ?? In USA. I’m in Aus.

      • Lady B Yes, very important that its not a preferred beneficiary but a definite one – and I changed my will to “in anticipation of divorce” too.

        • Yes I did some extra paperwork to make sure it was. No ‘will’ as yet, need to do that one of these days.
          Currently facing my ex quitting his 100k job because he won’t get jabbed. He owes $1000 Child support and is blowing up his life. Going to live in a van apparently. Has declared zero future income to child support, which I disputed as he has a load of long service and entitlements. Happy days!!

    • Hopeful Cynic: Thank you for that. I’m the big chump but also the breadwinner, so my cheating wife is the beneficiary on my life insurance policies. Makes me sick even writing that just now.

      • I have had trouble with changing the life insurance. They require the spouse’s signature to remove him/her as beneficiary. But luckily I should have divorce papers in the next few weeks and can finally change that!
        It creeps me out that fw still has a government life insurance policy out on me (Spouse SGLI) 2 years after I filed ???? But hopefully that ends automatically when we’re divorced. Anyone have experience with this?

        • I worked for DoD and I was able to change all my insurance and benefits to my son. There was no requirement for him to sign off on those. My retirement had to be addressed in the divorce document, which he waived and I waived his.

          Technically he could have tried to claim a part of my retirement if it had not been addressed in the divorce document, but he knew it was in the divorce document so of course he never tried. As I could have tried to claim part of his, but it was in the D document.

          I would not leave it up to chance.

          I don’t think anything will end automatically, unless it is addressed. Better safe than sorry.

          You need to check with your agency and find out what you need to do to get that addressed. If he is the govt employee, I don’t know how that goes, but in my case I was the govt employee so I made sure he was off all my paperwork.

          • Thanks, Susie! It’s interesting you mention retirement, because that’s one of the big holdups that’s about to have us in court. We should be splitting his govt retirement (based on 10-10-10) but he refuses to address it in the agreement, saying it’s “not vested” and the value is zero. He refuses to even get it valued by a CPA which internet research tells me is standard procedure. But what you’re saying is consistent with what my attorneys told me, and the judge herself. The judge got frustrated at pretrial and said to his attorney, “if the marital value is zero, why do you have a problem with it being split in the agreement? 50% of zero is zero!”

            I don’t want to go to trial and am still trying to settle, but if we end up in court I’ll get no end of joy from watching the judge rip him a new one for defying what she told him to do. Entitled cheating asshole.

            • Nothing wrong with settling if it is ok with you, but just know all the facts first.

              In my case I had only been working for DoD for three years, I didn’t have a lot in it, so his share by the time I retired wouldn’t be much anyway; but I just didn’t want to deal with the asshole when I retired so I agreed to waive his if I got the mortgage free property and he waived my retirement. A buy out was also on the table, but he chose to let me have the property. He got the marriage home and all the other property, including his precious boat and river property. But he also had to pay it all off. I believe he fairly quickly sold it all after the D was final.

              We had been married for 21 years, so my share of his ret would have been a lot more. It was worth it to me to get the asshole out of my life. I knew I would save for retirement at the top level allowed.

              Don’t let your lawyer drop the retirement issue. Make the fw at least buy you out of the retirement.

        • I am sure there is a phone number you could call regarding SGLI. I have no idea if there is anything you can do about it, though.

          Regarding removing him as beneficiary of your insurance… I have a life insurance policy at work on which they will not allow me to remove klootzak without his signature. But, I was able to add a second primary beneficiary and assign a percentage to each. So klootzak is still on it receiving 1% and my son is on it receiving 99%. Since son is a minor, if anything happens to me, his 99% share would go into a savings account for his benefit until he turns 18 and can claim it. Annual reporting to the local probate court will ensure none of the money is touched except to son’s benefit. I know this because when my father died and I was a minor, I was the beneficiary and that is how it worked.

          I wasn’t able to remove klootzak entirely, but he would only get 1%, which is best I can do for now.

    • Yes to this! My exH insisted on taking out a huge life insurance policy on me four years before D-Day. I did not think too much about it at the time, as we were taking out the same amount on him (he made way much more than I did, and even our financial advisor did not understand why my exH wanted to take out the same amount on me). Needless to say, this creeped me out so much once I discovered what my exH truly was capable of on DDay and beyond. Changing him as beneficiary was the FIRST thing I did after serving him with divorce papers. I cannot recommend this enough.

  • THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR THIS TOPIC TODAY!! I will be reading every entry today because I’m having some trouble getting my crazy ducks wrangled!! Started getting records, but with mysteriously broken computers and deleted reports, there have been some problems.

    • One thing I am scared of is the lawyer he called on d-day a year ago. Cordell & Cordell. Checked the website and it was an eye opener. Women are evil creatures that just ruin mens lives and take the children away. I’m trying to find a bulldog lawyer and need to make sure a small town lawyer will be able to take them on. They’re national and full of resources. ????

      • The benefit of a small town lawyer is they usually know the local judge. You are correct about a big, national firm having more money. ????

      • Hang in there. Find a highly regarded and seasoned lawyer, one who is respected in the courts and can hold their own against nonsense. Judges typically don’t like bullies and the courts have long since changed their thinking to shared parenting. Seems like the C&C fathers’ rights mantra is outdated and meant to scare women.

        • It worked. I’m paralyzed right now. It’s not like we have a lot of assets and I feel like they’re all going to disappear in a divorce.

          • You’ll be ok, BetterThan. I’m an attorney although not family law. This looks like a volume business to me, which means they are going to want to move onto the next case quickly. Get a good lawyer who is familiar with their playbook, and you will be fine from a legal standpoint. Judges typically hate dealing with the kinds of shops your ex has hired.

            • My stbx hired a firm called THE FIRM FOR MEN… of course the same mind set with them as well. I have an attorney that has been the president of the state bar several times and is local and older. I am hopeful that things will go in my favor.

            • Thank you!! I’ve had an awful week. Forging through. It’s amazing how FWs feel like they need to build themselves up and downgrade everything they’ve done and ignore the suffering they’ve caused. ????

              • If you are in the US, go to to see how family law attorneys in your area are rated by their peers for knowledge and years of experience.

  • I ignored people who told me to not make any rash decision while I was upset, that things can wait. I’m glad I acted quickly after D-Day.

    An advantage of acting quickly includes striking while the cheater may feel some pangs of guilt. That window shuts quickly.

    I’m glad I asked around for good lawyers and interviewed 4, coughing up the consultation fees.
    I decided early on that this was no time to save money.

    I hired the most expensive lawyer, not because he was the most expensive, but because he seemed the best. He served my x within about a week. When served, x wrote a sarcastic “Thank you.” And then he added, “You know, we could have saved money by doing x.” I felt a rush of power in that moment because I knew he could no longer call the shots.

    X tried to save money. He hired a crappy lawyer, one that his therapist recommended. She didn’t even specialize in family law. I got the sense that x took the advice of the AP who’d just gone through a divorce. She told him that lawyers don’t matter because everything will be cut down the middle because we lived in a no-fault state. Wrong!!!

    I’m glad that despite my daily crying jags and inability to eat I somehow became steely in all matters related to the divorce.

    Having incredibly supportive friends, family, and therapist was key to my survival and strength during this period. I shared!! I told my story. And I kept my cool. I channeled my anger into getting the best settlement possible.

    Oh, and I’ve written this before, but I’ll toss it on here again for any newbies who might benefit. I wrote the following on a sticky note and posted it in my car and on my bathroom mirror in case I got wobbly and slipped into my 35-year-long habit of trusting him and thinking he had my best interests at heart:

    *Don’t trust him.
    *Don’t engage.
    *He’s the enemy.
    *Keep you eye on the prize (good settlement).
    *Get to MEH!!

    What I would do differently?
    1. Gone NC sooner. I shared emotional BS with my x that only hurt ME.
    2. Worn more comfortable shoes during mediation.

      • “I ignored people who told me to not make any rash decision while I was upset, that things can wait. I’m glad I acted quickly after D-Day.”

        Yep, I have seen that advice on other sites. “You don’t have to make a decision now, give it a few months” Hell, they can wipe you out in a few months or less. That is horrible advice.

    • Spinach yes good support is such a big help. Two of my sisters were amazingly supportive and such patient listeners.

      • Amen for sisters!! It brings to mind this quote from LAC;GAL:

        “And the only people who are worth spit are the people who aren’t afraid of your pain who’ll walk into your cracked open heart and not blame you for it.”

        My sisters have pulled up lawn chairs and are still sitting in my cracked heart, ready to support. #blessed

    • Interestingly the ow changed lawyers midway through her divorce to use the same lawyer as the dick. I wish I had known this at the time…they knew what their situation would be…I felt like I was flying blind.

  • I was blindsided by the discard and his leaving. I was distraught when he listed my extensive character failings as the reason for leaving. I was shocked when I found the emails confirming his long affair with exgfOW. I immediately went no contact. We met in real life one last time 20 months ago. I told him what I thought of him in a neutral pub. He said little, accused me of being ‘obnoxious’ because I said that he had been hiding money from me for years (which he had). When the affair was mentioned by me, I got ‘I’m not talking about that piece’. He then proceeded to sneer when I told him what one of the emails said. He told me he ‘knew what he was in for’ financially. I looked at that man who I had loved for so long with complete disgust. He repulsed me. He said ‘what happens next’ with a sneer. I replied ‘I started divorce proceedings against you on the grounds of your unreasonable behaviour online yesterday evening’. His face! That wiped the smirk off. This alleged man, who demanded to review the petition in advance to make sure that it met with his approval. He suddenly realised that there was a limit to what he could control and that he was not going to get all his own way. I did enjoy that moment. The rest of it was not easy. He used various techniques to regain control, behaved like the FW he is at mediation, and tried to manipulate the process. However, another precious moment was when he demanded to come to the house, now my house, to collect the rest of his belongings. On my instructions my solicitor wrote to his, stating ‘my client never wants to see your client’s face again whatsoever’. I got a removal firm, they packed his remaining goods (he sent a list but he got everything belonging to him, not what he cherry-picked leaving me to dispose of the remainder). I told the guys what had happened. They drove the stuff to his luxury flat costing nearly as much as our mortgage (he needed a gym and a pool, don’t ya know) and dumped it in as unhelpful a way as they could manage.

    Small victories but good ones nevertheless. He was not fit to enter my air space.

    • Wonder Woman!! Bet you loved the moving day. Lol. That awful sneer that comes over their faces needs to be slapped off. My FW smile sneered-much like the Grinch-when I said that the state doesn’t care at all what he’s done and nothing will be done about it. You are an inspiration!

      • Thank you, Better. That’s kind. Every time I read here I come away inspired by the strength of chumps, their resilience and determination. And everyone is ready to say that they have their difficult days, crying days, lonely days. That matters too. The scars run deep. I appreciate the honesty of being able to read here that it’s ok not to have ‘moved on’, ‘got over it’. I know that it will always be with me. Dealing with that level of abuse from someone we loved takes immense strength and energy. It is exhausting!

    • My fw moved his stuff out of the house in the time frame of three days, Jan 2, 3 and 4th; all while I was working. I was still numb and thinking I guess that somehow I was going to wake up and realize this was a nightmare.

      Anyway, he also took his desk which had all our paperwork in it. Him taking that desk was detrimental to his case. I didn’t know this until I hired my lawyer. Luckily I was able to get him to file (he wanted me to of course). Once he filed coupled with him taking stuff from the house while I was at work; and taking all the paperwork, legal docs etc, my lawyer used abandonment as an issue to get me a really good temp maintenance plan. And this was in a no fault 50/50 state. Folks seriously mis understand what no fault 50/50 really means. No fault does not cover fraud, and 50/50 is just a theory or a starting point if you will.

      Had I agreed to using his lawyer; I am sure the asshole crook would have convinced me that what my ex stole from me to use for the whore was not in play. It was, and fw helped seal the deal by sneaking stuff out of our family home.

      However that was back in the day when one could afford a good lawyer. Now days from what I am hearing it is really difficult for an average person to obtain top of the line legal services.

      Still know your rights and get the best help you can.

    • Warrior, I remember the last public meeting I had with my FW (at a good court; my gut told me to never be in a private space with him again) to discuss the business of divorce. The emotions were different (I was sobbing/he was uncomfortable) but I still controlled the floor. Like in your meeting, FW refused to talk about the affair. I used the word “adultery” once and he squirmed and cringed. He’s always disagreed with the framing of any of his affairs as “adultery.”

  • I did a lot of things wrong, including the now regrettable emailed manifesto sent a couple of days after I left. But I did one thing right – I left immediately upon discovering his secret life.
    I was gone within the hour, and remained 100% committed to never going back.

    The second thing I got right was knowing exactly where to find my safe harbor; what friend I could trust and stay with while I decompressed and sorted things out. And I told noone else where I was or where I was going. I had just blown up his skillfully constructed illusion of respectability… and did not know what he might be capable of doing.

    I also spared no expense on getting the best legal representation money could buy. My state does not have no fault, but is 50/50 for the most part and a divorce can be finalized in 30 days with cause. I had plenty of cause… I got more than 50 and he paid for my very skilled attorney. Every penny. And I was divorced 34 days after I walked out and with a very favorable settlement. After almost 37 years of abuse, I deserved it.

    Last but most important is self care. This includes not seeing or talking to him since the day I walked out. I’m seeing a great therapist who is helping me unravel my shit, not trying to fix his. I found a safe and clean environment where I now live free from porn, skid marks, spunky hand towels and whore cooties.
    Just dedicating my day to day activities to my health and happiness first.

  • Dday #2(?) 3(?) occurred just as the legal process started so my answer is far less dramatic, but thought I’d share if this is you.

    I found out just prior to an initial interview of a mediation lawyer. It was very uncomfortable to be sitting that close to her and being that vulnerable. Interview was a blur and we didn’t go that way.

    Instead we did Collaborate divorce and that gave me a lawyer I really liked. She helped me get my ducks in a row.

    I live in a no-fault state. There was little I could do, but start focusing on healing and letting go.

    • I have wondered if collaborative divorce can be done with a narcissist. I studied alternative dispute resolution in law school long ago and have always been intrigued by its potential. I just worry that I’ll get sucker punched.

      • C.D.’s intent is to move efficiently through the legal process and do so in a manner each person feels fair.

        You can’t go in wanting vengeance; you won’t find that (I did—but soon let it go)

        My XW’s narcissism shows in a “pity-me” fashion, but my lawyer pushed through any of that. Hers did too. C.D. has the lawyers working more as “partners” than against each other.

        She wanted out and a divorce b/f I found out, so that helped too.

        It just forced me to start letting it go.

  • I never saw it coming and was blindsided. In hindsight, I should have realized he was full of shit. He had been setting up his new life by buying a steady stream of gift cards when he went to our local grocery store (He bought $500 the morning he told me he wanted a divorce). If someone is thinking of getting a divorce I would advise them to do the same. If you are the primary shopper, start stocking up on Visa/Mastercard or gift cards that you know you’ll use in the future. Buy larger ticket items but don’t remove the tags. After the bill has been paid out of your joint account, return the item. A lot of times you’ll get cash. Slowly remove the items you want to keep from your house. Keep out “just a little more cash” when you deposit your paychecks..

  • I just remembered that my ex was mad I told my mom we were getting divorced before I told him. Oh, the entitlement! Lol.

    • I’ve told a few select people what my plans are and I know that, if it comes up once I have a new lease and tell him I’m leaving, he’s going to lose his shit if I tell him that someone else knew before he did.

      Doesn’t make sense though, does it? They make plans and have ulterior motives behind our backs and THAT kind of relationship is completely acceptable to THEM, correct? They don’t like it when we secure ourselves behind THEIR backs, though.
      Yes, entitlement.
      They’re so gross.

  • It’s an almost impossible thing for a chump to remain silent and not to confront their spouse immediately after discovering cheating. I failed miserably. I wish I would have given myself more time to quietly gather as much information as possible before divulging what I knew and giving my ex a chance to begin covering up evidence I hadn’t thought of yet. Even amid the denials, lies and gaslighting I began documenting and doing as much surreptitious research as possible. But it would have been so much easier had I kept silent for at least a few weeks.

    So the most important lesson I would share with newly minted chumps who are experiencing their world turned upside down is to go silent. Don’t give in to the impulse to immediately confront. Don’t threaten to divorce. Don’t divulge your plans to move out/take the kids/kick them out/hire an attorney/etc. This is like a prisoner telling the warden about his plans to escape.

    • I wish I’d kept quiet on knowing about his Troll. Instead, I called him on it immediately because I was panicked and heartbroken. I should’ve sat back and gathered my evidence but I went full blown, “WTF!!!!!!” right away. That’s definitely something I would change because confrontation doesn’t stop what’s already happening. It just gets you more lying and deceit. And additional D-days.

      I’m in a holding pattern right now because of rental prices but everything else is lined up and ready to go. I have my settlement from my injury suit and he doesn’t know that I’ve already gotten it. It went on for two years so he’s known about it from the get go. Anytime he asks and gets mad because it’s “taking too long” I just use HIS playbook and either look right through him as if he hadn’t said anything, act like I have no idea why it’s taking so long, and/or change the subject. Just like he does to me.

      I KNOW he knows better and I suspect he thinks I already have the money. I’m playing His game with new rules. While I’d STILL never do to him what he’s done to me, I hope he’s enjoying this Christmas season, worrying about how “we’re “ going to pay for Christmas gifts for the kids. I went crazy for a year while he lied and hid shit and he knew I was losing it but he continued doing what he was doing while telling me a different story.

      Now he can sweat for awhile. I wouldn’t say I’m taking pleasure in it, because I’m not, but what’s good for the goose and all that jazz, right?

        • Yep, it would have to be declared. The judge may determine it solely belongs to the injured party and set it aside, but it still has to be declared in discovery.

  • I’m don’t think this particular step would be recommended, but it’s given me some comfort. I was able to move/camp out in our vacant rental property after DD#2. So there was a period of months (during wreckconcilliation) where I could plan what to remove from the house and what to box up. In fact, every time he refused to work on the marriage – and would leave the house – I would pack a few boxes.

    Maybe it gave him kibbles. Maybe he was telling the OW “things were progressing”. Maybe he had a sadz with his family. But I’ve never had to worry that he didn’t understand what was happening.

    When I finally went no contact, I had a support team (lawyer/therapist, friends, my family), financial documents, had closed joint accounts, drawn up estate documents.

    He didn’t complain. I was doing the work to end the 30 year marriage he had destroyed. We didn’t have children and I didn’t feel in physical danger. So this worked for me. I just wish he had to pay my legal costs.

    • Replying to my own comment. Why was it important to me that he understand what was happening?

      Maybe he’s a covert narc. He frequently feigned confusion – he didn’t hear, he didn’t understand, he didn’t know how to do something. He also didn’t budge.

      Of course, he was gaslighting me. He denied the sexual relationship and rarely slipped up. I’m amazed at the hundreds of lies he was capable of telling.

      • “Replying to my own comment. Why was it important to me that he understand what was happening?”

        That’s a good question. Wouldn’t it be nice if the cheaters admitted that they were (let’s put this as simply as possible) totally in the wrong and not totally in the right? We chumps imagine it would take some of the emotional pain off our shoulders but I don’t know if it would, really.

        In any event, if your FW is anything like mine, he admits to zero wrongdoing. It’s frustrating and shows a complete lack of empathy.

  • Sadly, my X Asshat did all the duck arranging. He future faked me right up until he abandoned me. My ducks were bloody feathers and gore spattered on the walls after he blew everything up.

    If you were also submarined by a sociopath like this, my advice is to go scorched earth. Go no contact, have them served, burn them to the ground. Don’t negotiate with them over the marriage, just get the best lawyer you can and never consult your cheater again. Dispose of their left-behind shit how you see fit (I stupidly handed him his birth certificate and SS card that he left behind when I should have saved those to stick on some random telephone pole by the bus station after the divorce was final). I was a good pick me dancing wife appliance for him while I managed the dissolution of our lives and property alone. I should have been a silent but deadly adversary who never heard his voice again, but I was in shock and was smoking hopium that he would come to his senses.

    I suppose my passive stance of simply dealing with all the administrative parts of the divorce- he didn’t even get a lawyer – was totally normal for him since I was the only adult in the relationship for the 31 years we were together. I should have been a lot meaner, silently.

    • Now I.C., this is very similar to me and I was similarly way, way too kind to him while he was destroying my entire world because I had no idea someone who told you thousands of times they loved you could do that to you with no warning. I even reminded him to not forget his dead grandfather’s wedding ring when he came back for some of his stuff! New Chumps, protect yourselves.

  • After Dday#1, I started gathering up what I could. Most of it was to show his expenses that increased dramatically. My son contributed their lovely photos and videos the FW sent via shared accounts. FW promised to break contact with AP but lied as they do. Do not pick me dance! I for a few weeks until the second Dday hit. Changed that habit quickly and went full on. Even in depression and feeling physically drained, I lined up financial stuff, gathered more evidence and got a great lawyer. Got paperwork served and got FW out of the house. I am still in the midst of the process but thanks to some detective work on my part and my son’s, we managed to find a load of financial dirty dealings. He will have to pay it back in the final settlement. Accounts are now monitored by a third party and Schmoopie is not benefiting as she did. I suspect His 30 years younger Schmoopie will soon dump his old ass. Hopefully, everything will go well but they are definitely the enemy. FW tried to accuse me of cheating and his evidence was a group photo taken at my workplace. 25 people all clothed. WTF? I completely trust that he sucks and so does my son. My advice at this point is be prepared, launch quietly, maintain dignity and no contact or very minimal contact.
    I have started feeling better and through self care am almost back to a semblance of normal.

  • I see my first consult today with a family law attorney. I have been married nearly 2 years. Both me and FW are nearly 60 years old. I found another attorney who sounds good in case today’s attorney isn’t a match.

    First thing I did was remove him from my bank account. I was the primary and he agreed. He has had his own bank account for years. He signed. He has no credit card and I never added him to mine.

    I made scanned copies of his paystubs and quarterly investment documents as they came in the mail. Quietly. For the past 2 years. It was apparent within a week of marriage he was addicted to porn. And hiding it. These were saved on my cloud drive.

    I have always had a household budget. I backed all the budgets up on my cloud drive so he couldn’t access them. I can break down every penny spent the entire marriage.

    All my passwords were changed. Just in case.

    We were and remain debt free. We have no children together. He insisted on a post nup and we did that 7 months into the marriage. I had an independent lawyer review it.

    I insist he leave my house (bought and completely paid for by me before marriage) after a good therapist dropped him after a year of therapy. For the third time. Therapist states FW lied to him and fails to work the program. I have a master cake eater on my hands.

    I reached into my little savings and changed the locks immediately on the house after he left.

    I found CP in his belongings and reported him to the police.

    In the past 2 years I have stocked my house with food. I could go a year and only spend food money on fresh vegetables and fruits.

    I put in a big garden and have a green thumb. I will not starve. I grew up poor and know how to eat nutritionally on $1.50 a day.

    I probably won’t get alimony and many things because of the prenup. But, if he is smart, he will exit my life without fuss.

    My only concern right now is finding a job with health insurance. I haven’t worked in 3.5 years and have a chronic, but controllable autoimmune disorder that cannot be ignored.

    I was living fine in my paid for home down south – which is now rented out. I was using my over 100 grand of liquid savings for health care until I was old enough to qualify for Medicare.

    I knew FW for 7 years before marriage. He convinced me to leave thebstate down south and take my liquid savings and buy a house in another state 1,000 miles away for cash. And he would move in. That happened. Now I am stuck with no job, only one ill family member within an hour drive, and house poor. No local friends. I have one really good friend that lives about 90 minutes away. She is top notch. I don’t know what I would have done without her.

    I have as little contact with FW as possible.

    Porn was discussed before marriage. He knew this hard boundary of mine.

    I got HPV, HIV, chalymidia, gonorrhea and syphilis tests in the days he was packing up his stuff and at work. I came up 100 percent clean.

    • Sending you a hug Spedie. My second marriage was also short. There’s special kind of hurt that comes with trusting again at an older age. Hopefully things will get sorted out quickly.

  • The best thing I did was when I found my second lawyer. I asked around for recommendations. I ended up in a long conversation with someone who knew several family lawyers in my area. This man was a life-saver for me. He was able to tell me a bit about the personalities of the lawyers and I chose the one that worked well for me and my case. My first lawyer had a great reputation, but she was not good. She should have already retired by the time I hired her.

    Another really good thing I did was to buy two copies of “Splitting: Protecting Yourself While Divorcing Someone with Borderline or Narcissistic Personality Disorder” by Bill Eddy and Randi Kreger. I gave one copy to my new lawyer and kept the second one for myself. I told my new attorney that I wasn’t willing to pay him for his time to read the book, but that I thought he might find it useful for dealing with the ex. Not every cheater has a personality disorder, but people with personality disorders are more likely to cheat. The marriage counselor eventually told me that he thinks the ex has a personality disorder, and this book was quite useful.

  • I’ve told this before here, but it aligns with an aspect to getting ducks in a row . . .

    A week after the shit hit the fan, I changed my direct deposit settings so that my paycheck was routed to my (at that time measly) personal checking account, instead of to the ‘family pot’ checking account. I then made arrangements with power, cable, mortgage, etc. to have the bills changed to my name (this was something she’d done for the entirety of our 15-year marriage).

    Once all that was in place, I matter-of-factly communicated these developments to KK (forced co-habitation) as I was making dinner for me and my daughters. She was silent for a few moments — wearing that soulless ‘shark-stare’ she had when I caught her trying to bring the Carrot Singer into the house — then said: “Well, I have to tell you that I’m feeling pretty blind-sided.”

    I felt like the scarecrow: “Oh . . .Joy! Rapture! I have a brain!!”

    • Of course, she never saw the irony of complaining about being blind-sided by someone she’d gone to such great lengths to deceive.

      • I replaced my 10 year old minivan since Douchecanoe had bought himself a new car the year before. I signed his name to the title and put the new car in my name only. He didn’t know I had a new car in the garage for 3 days since he was coming home really late after screwing around at Schmoopie’s and parking on the drive. I’ll never forget his over-the-top anger that I hadn’t consulted him. What a hypocrite!

        • “And you get a car ???? ! And you get a ????!”

          Brilliant ????????????????

        • If I were to go back and do it again, I would buy a car before filing. The year things imploded, both my EX and I were driving older cars that needed to be replaced. He wanted a new car, but our budget made it clear we would have to purchase two used vehicles. Nonetheless, he went out one weekend and bought himself a nearly $40,000 new vehicle putting only himself on the title. Not a dime was left for replacing my 18-year-old vehicle. I was the only one working, and I did nearly all the chauffeuring of the kids–yet he needed a fancy new car to show off in.

          When we separated he got “his” car and I got the worthless one. (At least he also got the five years of car payments as well). But it would have made the first 6 months of our separation easier if I had made sure to have a reliable vehicle before I filed!.

  • I kicked him out within hours of discovery. This worked for me because FW is a non confrontational POS. I gave him two days to take his share of the household items and I had my mom and best friend with me when he came with the truck and trailer.

    I was a complete mess but I pressed forward with a settlement quickly, taking advantage of his short lived guilt. Changed my will and life insurance beneficiaries. Took half the money from our joint account. Bought him out of the house. We weren’t married on paper (having both been Chumped previously) so we both kept our retirement accounts.

    All done within 4 months and thank God. Eventually he got angry and hired an attorney to rescind our settlement agreement. Fortunately it was sewn up tightly. Then came the angry emails from him claiming he “bought me a $$$ house.” Block.

    What I would have done differently….trusted my gut sooner.

    • “ What I would have done differently….trusted my gut sooner.”
      Amen to that!

  • I only did one thing. I went through the file where he kept his Visa statements to prove he had paid a woman $300 using Western Union. I just grabbed the single statement and went. When I had time to peruse the statement, I discovered he had bought an expensive breakfast ($78) for someone while I was getting an 8 hour surgery. I found a couple more restaurant receipts, a Victoria’s Secret, and NYC recipt.

    He began to scare me with his anger and when the straw-camel situation happened on a Sunday, I contacted a realtor the next morning. He was in a show at the time and I didn’t want to funk up his acting, so I waited the full two weeks until the final show and left while he was on stage. I left a factual note.

    Turns out it was not wise of me to have purchased a condo while leaving. Apparently I should have rented some place until the divorce was final.

    For a long time I felt guilty for not facing him and telling him I was leaving.

  • Fw left me suddenly. I didn’t find out until a week later that his con on the job had collapsed as someone had dropped a dime on his antics to the city counsel.

    So, I didn’t have time to get my ducks in a row. I did however as soon as he left order a credit card history and just by chance I guess he didn’t intercept it from the mail box. I also went to the bank and got a history and last statement of our shared bank account.

    So I had seen the charges and odd bank activity by the time he came back to confess his shit and tell me he was madly in wuv with whore and wanted a D. I told him he wanted a D, then he files. He left but didn’t file. a couple weeks later I made one of the very few calls I ever made to him and said, you need to file so we can get our finances separated. He wanted me to file (not sure why, as everyone already knew all his shit). Anyway, finally a week later he filed. I had already retained a lawyer by then, and just took the papers to my lawyer. I left it up to my lawyer to find the ducks and get me some restitution.

    I just concentrated on my job and standing upright. It was all I could handle for a while.

  • Additional things I did wrong:

    I once made him his favorite chocolate chip cookies so he could have a few when he visited the house to collect his things.

    I bought the dark chocolate he liked. (What the hell was I thinking? Guess it was a form of the pick-me dance. Ugh!)

    I lovingly (ugh) set aside his things–important documents, mail. I labeled the envelope. Throughout our marriage, I made the mistake of thinking that if I treated HIM well, he would return the favor. I was still in that mode.

    I left the house within minutes of his confession. I wish I’d made HIM leave. I stayed away for about a week and then demanded that we switch places and that he get an apartment. He was PISSED, but it worked. I wrote something like: “I would think you’d have enough respect for me to allow me to grieve in my own home.”

    Being in the house allowed me to manage documents and inventory household items. He had to ask for permission to come clear out stuff. We’d set a time; I would vacate while he did his shit. I insisted he not bring the OW, which might have been stupid. I don’t know. At the time, I couldn’t stand the idea of her pawing through my stuff and was traumatized that she’d been in my house–AND BED–so many times without my knowing it. But I wonder if caring at all that she was there pleased my the cheater. Kibbles!!!

    • “Throughout our marriage, I made the mistake of thinking that if I treated HIM well, he would return the favor. I was still in that mode.”

      Same here spinach. I honestly thought that. I remember feeling secure because why on earth would he leave someone who took such good care of him. Oh he was a bit selfish, but he loved me…

    • I did the cookie thing, also. He had the balls to ask if I was trying to poison him!! WTF!

  • Is it weird that I find these stories inspirational and empowering? I was under FW’s thumb for 20 years, and I put his needs first. It was a shock to him when I hired a lawyer when he declared that we “didn’t need to use lawyers”. It was the first thing I did for myself in a very long time. I think I did a pretty good job of getting my ducks in a row. Hiring a lawyer was first. I asked her what I could and could not do in terms of moving assets. I didn’t want to make a wrong move. I wish I had paid more attention to whose name was on bills because I inadvertently paid for a month or two of his electric bill for his apartment. The account was in his name, so when he set up a new account in his name, it just got added to the house account. Luckily the amount was low (so low I didn’t notice) so I just shrugged my shoulders and moved on. I made sure to remove him as an authorized user on my credit cards right away. I made sure to have possession of my son’s documents (birth certificate, passport, etc).

    Another thing to keep in mind in terms of ducks in a row is that there are some things that can’t happen until the divorce is final. Things like removing the other person’s name from the deed for your house, refinancing the house to be in your name only, or conversely getting your name off the mortgage if they get the house. Splitting investment accounts happens after the decree. My ex didn’t refinance his suv and my name was still on the title, so when he didn’t pay his car payment for a few months, it showed up on my credit. I got his name off the title of my (paid off) car right away. I went to the county office with the title first and asked what I needed to do, and I got his signature and the fee for a new title was low. When he decided he needed to get me off his title, he demanded MY lawyer handle it.

    • I had ordered a credit card history right after he walked out. I also cancelled it and didn’t say anything to him. I wondered what he thought when he whipped out that card to feed the whore. I imagined him thinking, “uh Oh, I have lost control of Susie” Which is funny if you knew how much of a controller he was.

      He also, tried to get me to use his lawyer because it would save us money. Yeah, bite me.

      • Yes to the control. My FW wanted ME to fill out all of the divorce paperwork, including his stuff. I told him legally I couldn’t do that. When it was time for him to respond to my filing, he emailed me asking what he was supposed to do. I had hired a lawyer because I didn’t want to deal with that crap myself. I pointed him to the county court website.

        • That was one reason I wanted him to file. I knew if he filed he had to do the legwork.

          My lawyer had already told me that if he filed it would give him (my lawyer) more leeway for a temp maintenance agreement.

          The other reason was that I honestly felt that he was the one that should file and own his own decisions.

          It turned out better for me than I expected. When he first left I thought I would be lucky to get away without owing a bunch of money, but though he got most of the property, he also had to assume the debt. I got a small property that was paid off and I could afford to keep up.

          A few years later I got forty thousand dollars more than he paid for it. That had to sting. He could have paid me 20 thousand dollars, heck I likely would have taken 15, and been thousands of dollars ahead. But, no he did it his way. Lol.

          Didn’t matter though, he gambled everything he got away anyway, and ran up over 250 thousand dollars in gambling debt. Honestly that surprised me. I really thought he would just keep amassing property and end up wealthy.

          I definitely dodged a bullet. Oh I got burns and pains from the bullet whizzing my me, but it wasn’t fatal to me.

          • Funny how short-sighted FWs can be. My ex wanted to get a swanky new apartment and buy all new furniture for his “bachelor pad”. He left me with all the furniture and the house, including some of his childhood furniture. He was so proud when he got it fully furnished and showed me around. It weirdly felt like he was a child leaving home for the first time. I’m sure he is now very pissed that the marital home has doubled in value from when we bought it together.

            • It is weird.

              I remember my ex came by one day while I was out in the yard picking and weeding flowers. I had gone out on a date and he wanted me to know that he knew I guess, so he said “that guy is too old for you”. I just said what do you care? then he said he came by to see if I wanted to go see his apartment. I just said “I have no interest in that at all” got up and walked in the house.

              Asshole, hadn’t spoken to me in months, now out of the blue… Nope, no thanks.

              We had been legally separated for about a year at that time. I do remember thinking “don’t you have a whore to tend to”. But, I didn’t say it out loud.

    • Yep….thought I could breathe when the divorce decree was signed; thought the bulk of the lawyer’s fees were behind me. Nope actually getting him to divide the assets and refi the 250k boat mortgage so it’s in his name only….ongoing for almost 3 more years with 2 trips to court, and 4 missed deadlines…his attitude has been “make me”. This is why I effing hate him.

      • I hear you. Every single thing was an issue. Would he close the bank account with both our names on it? Nope. Would he sign the quit claim deed on the mortgage. Nope. Would he cancel the phone service so I could restart it in my own name. Nope.

        I think I have all the loose ends tied up now. But I also think there are probably a few I won’t know about until something legal gets snarled when I try to sell the house in a few years.

  • As soon as I confirmed that Affair #2 was occurring, and well before confronting him, I saw a family lawyer. I found out what my rights and responsibilities would be, how custody could be worked out and the finances. Most importantly my lawyer and I discussed what I could try to negotiate and what the courts would likely decide if it got that far.

    This was SO HELPFUL.

    I could then start figuring out potential budgets, start thinking about options for the custody time split and how I could consult the kids about that, start looking at the costs of renting in our neighbourhood if we had to sell our place right away (or if Cheater Narc refused to leave and I had to)…

    In the end, Cheater Narc did as he always had; he counted on me to get the info and handle everything. Which I was happy to do. It worked out quite well for the kids and I, legally, custody and $$$. (His abandonment of the kids over the first year of separation was a different, extremely damaging situation, though ….)

  • In hindsight, I wish I had done a lot more things to advocate for myself (like not waffling on getting out, for starters).

    I was blindsided and lost and in unbelievable pain and fear, so, like many of us, I was willing to entertain wreckonciliation, which actually prevented me from going into Rambo self-protection mode. I did not even know where all the ducks were. I had been a full-time parent, founding and co-owning a business with him that was the source of our income. I was not involved at the business as much as I should’ve could’ve have been (in hindsight). I trusted him and my focus was parent/running the house with input from him and believed his primary focus was running the business with input from me. I thought we were a team managing our business and personal lives very well. Then, BOOM.

    If you are shell-shocked and out of your right mind, as is the case for a long time after DDay, deputize a trusted friend to help you get things done if you can. This site is where you get your To Do list, and the friend can help you execute it. I REALLY needed an executive assistant because I was so out of my right mind.

    “Lining up the ducks” felt like trying to rake leaves in a hurricane. I just could not do it on my own. I was so compromised emotionally, mentally, spiritually, devastated on all levels, that I am shocked at the bare minimum that I could do on the basic everyday life survival To Do list.

    One thing I did do was dig my heels in to slow the divorce process way the fuck down (on the advice of the trusted therapist). Because we have a very complicated situation with the business, Hurry Up was NOT a good idea. I needed my wits about me and they were nowhere to be found for a long time. Fast talking cheater wanted to speed things up in an attempt to take advantage of me and get away with shit. Of course, you can move more quickly the less complicated your situation is. In my case taking it slow meant I was able to find a mediator who was family law with a corporate law background. She was ideal for our situation, and turned out to be the ultimate duck to get lined up.

  • I would watch movies on Lifetime TV about cheaters. The wife always freaked out and would immediately confront the cheating husband. Then her life would go to hell. I would mentally re-write those scrips so that the wife “won”. Little did I know that years later I would discover my Prince Charming is a cheater.

    I remember the moment so clearly ten years later. He made a hotel reservation that morning from his computer. As he kissed me good-bye as he left for work, he so casually told me it was going to be a late night at work. I kept my mouth shut and got to work.

    I went to a lawyer who created trusts for all my financial accounts. I had a will prepared leaving him out. I learned what my rights would be if we divorced. And I slowly started spending more money. If I had done too much, the courts consider it “waste” in anticipation of divorce. So it was slow and steady.
    In short, I got my financial house in order.

    I went through all his things and found things I know I did not give him. He hates to shop so I know he didn’t buy them. They had to have been gifts from the OW. I sold them all. Some things I replaced with things that looked similar, but if he wore them, she would know they were not from her. He never noticed. I joyfully spent the money from these sales.

    It was months before I confronted him. I wanted to be ready. Note: you will never be ready for the drama that follows a confrontation.

    I know the Chump Lady will say I did the pick me dance. I guess I did. I made myself a better girl friend than the girl friend. I made him fall in love with me all over again. Rewriting those movie scripts helped as well as knowing that the cheaters did not realize I had caught on. In my case it worked. When the marriage counselor asked him what he would change about me, if he could, he said – Nothing!

    When I was in that period of knowing but had not confronted him yet, we celebrated a wedding anniversary. I gave him one of our wedding pictures I had reframed. It was for his office (he cheated with a co-worker). I tried to reach him emotionally – I wanted him to go back to those early years where we were drunk on our love for one another.

    Fast forward to now – years later, I think we are in a good place. But it was hell getting here. I will urge all betrayed spouses to out the cheaters. Cheating takes place in secrecy. I told the OW’s husband, her family, her friends, everyone. I never talked to her but got “messages” through to her in talks with my husband. I was not going to quietly disappear so she could step into MY life. She had to decide if he was worth it or not. She is still with her husband.

    There, of course, is so much more to my story. I will say that if you are not strong then pretend to be. You will not have anyone’s respect if you go to pieces. So hold yourself tight, pull together a support group. Read here. The Chump Lady gave me strength as she so cleverly explains how cheaters function. She gave me the tools and the understanding I needed.

    • This doesn’t ring true to me. Seems written by a cheater to convince people who have been cheated on to pretend the cheating didn’t happen and give them even more kibbles than before.

      True or not, it’s completely the opposite of getting your ducks in a row, and the opposite of all the advice CL gives.

      • “I went through all his things and found things I know I did not give him. He hates to shop so I know he didn’t buy them. They had to have been gifts from the OW. I sold them all. Some things I replaced with things that looked similar, but if he wore them, she would know they were not from her. He never noticed. I joyfully spent the money from these sales.”

        “I made myself a better girl friend than the girl friend. I made him fall in love with me all over again.“

        “I never talked to her but got “messages” through to her in talks with my husband.”

        I find this extremely manipulative, as did my therapist today, not at all what Tracy advocates here, and very chilling.

          • I just finished reading “Every Last Secret” by A.R. Torre, same scenario. It takes a lot of effort to do this sort of thing and the fw gets exactly what he wants: two women who want him and at least one fighting for him. No fw is worth that.

  • After he told me he had fallen in “luv” with this solemate/howorker he had only known for a couple of weeks, he had to go out of town for work. During that time, I got an attorney, filled out all of the documents, had enough time to find everything I would ever need for financial discovery, saved up money, and waited for him to come home. When he got home and said he was going to visit his estranged toxic family, which I was able to eventually get him to admit was a lie, that he was really going to see the howorker, I waited until I knew he was hiding at his dad’s house because the howorker had traveled to see him and his toxic fam was the ultimate enabler/flying monkeys, I had him served at his dad’s house, hundreds of miles away. Long story, but even in the midst of tremendous emotional pain, I had the strength to do what I needed to do to protect myself. After 30 years of marriage, I told him if he left our home to be with someone else, he would NEVER be allowed back. And he wasn’t. If I can be strong, anyone can. 1. Always have cash saved up. 2. Get a good lawyer that knows how to deal with high conflict narcissistic sociopaths 3. Make sure you have all financial documents so you can track spousal spending. 4. BE strong even if you don’t FEEL strong. For me, cheating was the ultimate dealbreaker.

  • I was getting my darling little bedraggled ducklings in a row when LTC Fuckface pulled a gun out during an argument. I grabbed my go bag, the dog and left. I went back when he was at work to discover he had changed the locks. He also moved all the money out of our mutual accounts.

    I left before I was ready but I am here to tell you about it. It took 2 years, 5 months and 18 days and now I am free of that abusive fuckface.

    Get those ducks lined up but be ready to RUN if you are threatened. Cheaters kill. Get a bag packed, hide money, keep the car gassed up, make a plan. Leave.

    • How the hell was he able to block access to the house (assuming both your names were on the deed) AND take all the money from the joint accounts ?! I can understand half but all ?!

      • They can take the money and change the locks, but doesn’t mean it is legal. My ex had no legal right to run up credit card debt buying gifts and giving money to the whore, but it didn’t stop him from doing it. (it did however help my lawyer force him to take over all the debt, since he had run up most of it frequently).

        All I did was get copies of financial history and current status of funds. That way if he took the money out or tried to re direct it, he had to explain it and pay back any that he took illegally.

        I really think many of these cheaters are so arrogant they really think they are above the law. My fw was a police officer and I am sure when he went down this road he thought he would control the outcome, just as he always had.

        • I would have called the police and a locksmith to regain access to my home. In terms of the money, somebody at the bank/brokerage firm would be losing their job.

          • I would have reacted too.

            I am not sure the bank would be culpable though. If both own the account then depending on how the account is set up they may have been obligated to give him the money.

            I remember when I was a teller a guy came to the drive up window and demanded all the money in his account which his wife was on the account too. I panicked as I was a new teller. I got the head teller and she checked the cards and account and said, yep you have to give him all but six dollars. It took six dollars to keep the account open, and the account could only be closed with both signatures.

            But yeah, if the account was set up with thresholds or required both sigs, definitely go after them if they didn’t follow their own rules.

      • He did it. He is a narcissist. Whatever he chooses to do is right and good. The Judge spanked him.

        • ????

          I was so fortunate to have a good lawyer and evidently a good judge. The ex still got the majority of the assets, but he also had to pay off all debt. I got out with a small house that was paid for, and my sanity, well most of it anyway.

          I am sure whore was riding high for a season, but he sold it all, and then as soon as he retired began gambling big time. Gambled them into huge debt. They ended up living in a cramped mother in law house, and then because they were both so nasty to my sons wife; ended up in a trailer court.

          I can honestly say I never wished that on them, but it was due to their own actions; so I didn’t care about anything they suffered, only what my son and his family suffered.

    • Thirtythreeyears that sounds absolutely terrifying. I’m so glad you were ready to run and got out alive. The go bag is a must if your partner is abusive.

      • I think the go bag is important even if the spouse doesn’t seem abusive. They can turn on a dime. My friend up the street has a box in her guest bedroom closet that contains clothes and items for me and my son. She is ready to quarter us there if we have to leave fast for safety reasons. I will never trust klootzak. FWs have proven they are capable of stuff you never expected. I sleep with one eye open.

        A few years ago my FIL wanted to ship us his old guns. We currently don’t own any. I told him that having a young son, I don’t want guns in our house. He respected my wish and sold the guns instead. In truth, I think of all the wives killed by their cheater husbands and try to minimize making it easy for him. If he goes completely bonkers, I’m ready to go.

  • Copy account # of bills, insurance, 401k, his check stub anything involved in your lives. Copy his birth certificate. SS#, marriage certificate, only for needed information changes. Get your own accounts for everything or change to only your name. Squirrel away money. Keep everything somewhere safe, some family members have been known to side with FW. Photograph and document any household repairs needed. If needed get estimates on major car repairs. Photograph all rooms, items in the house. Remove loved items quietly, pictures, etc.
    Document everything daily, think like a detective or secret agent.

    • Keep a bag packed with your documents. I left copies and took the originals. Get your own credit card. Fuckface removed me as an authorized user on all his cards. Keep cash on hand. Having a GoBag ready really helped me. I didn’t have to think, I already had a plan.

      When you are herding your ducks Do Not Tell That Cheater. My therapist and my lawyer advised me to go to a safe place before I filed. Their intuition about Fuckface was correct. I had a good plan, I was lining up my ducks but his abuse forced me out the door.

      Chumps, don’t hesitate to get out sooner than you anticipated. Fuckface had become more and more abusive. Screaming at me, throwing things hard into my face, lurching toward me in anger, denying me money, belittling and gaslighting me. Pulling a gun on me was terrifying. Don’t stay. There is never a perfect time to leave. Get out.

      • I think your point that you may need to get out sooner than you anticipate is key.

        My EX also shifted from sullen anger (normal marital state) to raging, dangerous fury when I told him I wanted a separation.

        If your partner has any history of anger problems or control issues, have a Plan B ready.

  • Accept no verbal agreement that your ex will maintain support pending divorce. Get a legal separation agreement or move straigt to divorce.

    Protect any inheritance you may have. Do NOT commingle any funds or it becomes a mutual asset. Be careful where a Cheater is prodding you to use your inheritance for a new car, vacation home, pay off debt, or effect a residential move prior to discovery. It’s a set-up.

    If you have a special needs child that will require support through adulthood, research and know your rights before settlement. Longterm support to include medical, vocational, respite, life insurance, therapies, etc. are all built into the settlement. It’s your job to argue for this – most attorneys don’t know much about this.

    Change your will. Change your beneficiary status on all instruments of value.

    Secure your home with new locks and keys.

    If the Cheater is pleading inability to work or maintain gainful income (to reduce support obligations), request a Vocational Evaluation. Attorneys coordinate this process.

    If the Cheater has psych issues incidental to this process, document every. single. one. There may be a need for a trespass warning to protect you.

    If you know your marriage is heading to divorce, don’t try to negotiate or work out a settlement with the Cheater. Cheater is looking only at maximizing personal gain while minimizing yours. You need a neutral professional to apply the law that protects your interests – a good divorce attorney. What you spend upfront may seem unncessary. What you gain in the end easily offsets that initial expense.

    Don’t listen to the Cheater tell you they’ll always care about you and their children. Or, that you’ll be the best of friends. Or, that if you ever need a thing you can count on them. Or, that they’ve planned forward with life insurance, investments and income that will benefit you in the future after their death. It’s all said in an effort to have you let down your guard, keep the kibbles coming, and to set you up for a fall.

    Take off your wedding ring. Put on your business hat and make it strictly business; nothing personal.

    • I LOVE this: “Take off your wedding ring. Put on your business hat and make it strictly business; nothing personal.”

  • I didn’t get my ducks in a row. An AncestryDNA test that my daughter and I took exposed her cheating. I did file for divorce 2 1/2 weeks after DDay and followed mostly what my lawyer told me to do. I even told her she would be served beforehand ????????????. One piece of advise, think that your cheater is your ENEMY not your friend. Don’t have to be fair and nice to them.

    • This is so true! My neighbor told me that when I told her of the divorce and that was my mantra through the divorce. They do not understand being civil and nice. If they did, they would never have cheated and would have requested the divorce beforehand. They feel they are entitled to whatever they want and you are an object to be used.

      • YES! 100% —> “They do not understand being civil and nice. If they did, they would never have cheated and would have requested the divorce beforehand. They feel they are entitled to whatever they want and you are an object to be used.”

  • I wished I’d been cagier. Like a damn fool I was trying to save the marriage until the bitter end. But, one thing I did do instinctively was keep every scrap of correspondence and evidence. This was helpful because it supported some court documents later on, but also served as a reminder to me why he was a dirtbag. When I would get low and upset, I’d reread my old journal entries about our marital problems and his emails to me, and would get the slap in the face I needed about why he was gross. I did this enough times that I truly became disgusted with him. Enter meh.

    He, being the manipulative cheater he is, took all kinds of sneaky actions for months to place himself in a better financial position, in anticipation of leaving the marriage. Meanwhile, stupid ole me is just going about my life, making marriage therapy appointments and stuff. Haha. But all’s well that ends well. My daughter and I are thriving, and he is miserable and looks like he’s aged 30 years.

  • One of the best pieces of advice came from the marriage counselor we had both been seeing when I found out the ex was still seeing his howorker. If your money and savings is in a joint account, go the bank and transfer to your own individual account. I was able to do this easily and at that point I controlled the money and he couldn’t withdraw it. Plus, it was fun to see his head implode!

    The other piece of advice I would offer is that asshat would not move out. When I changed the utilities into my name, I made sure to change the internet password and did not give it to him. He was moved out within the week.

    • This is brilliant. Part of what has me stuck is trying to get him to move out. My name is on almost all the utilities as he was too lazy to set them up when we moved back into this house. Sometime in the next few months, I expect he will get the job offer he has been waiting for and will want to move. And then I can say “You go on ahead,” and have him served.

      My only fear about him being gone is that he runs the house internet and I won’t know how to stay connected when he is gone. I work from home so this is no small thing. A big duck for me is getting trained by someone or hiring someone locally to keep me online for my job!

      • Internet and working from home is easy. I have done it for the last 10 years and it has been 3 years since D Day. I use Xfinity. When I told them I wanted to change over, they needed the old equipment returned and then a guy came our with a new router, set it all up, and I was in business. I have never had any issues, but if I did, I can contact them for help.

      • I set up an Xfinity account a few years ago when I moved out on my own.

        It’s ridiculously easy: You set up an account online, then they ship you the modem with instructions. I had it set up in 20 minutes, and I had no clue what I was doing.

        If you absolutely need help, Youtube has videos on how to set up internet.

        Don’t let this issue stop you from moving forward. It’s really no big deal.

    • This is brilliant. Part of what has me stuck is trying to get him to move out. My name is on almost all the utilities as he was too lazy to set them up when we moved back into this house. Sometime in the next few months, I expect he will get the job offer he has been waiting for and will want to move. And then I can say “You go on ahead,” and have him served.

      My only fear about him being gone is that he runs the house internet and I won’t know how to stay connected when he is gone. I work from home so this is no small thing.

      • Talk to internet companies before hand and pick one. Then have a conversation with them about set up and installation and tell them of your situation. If need be, have them ship the equipment to a friend’s house or your own if you know a place where he won’t find it. That way, you will be ready to go if he shuts your current internet off. Plus, he won’t have the account information nor your password for your new system.

  • The hardest thing I did was to go see a lawyer without his knowledge. I had been looking up divorce laws in our state on the internet, but I wanted to hear it from the horse’s mouth. I paid the $200.00 consultation fee out of my own money (an inheritance) so he would never know. Taking that step gave me a shot of needed confidence.

    After that, I began making plans, ever more concrete, all still without his knowledge. I made a list of my resources, financial and otherwise. My now-ex had handled the finances, so after years of just letting him handle it I finally signed up for online access to our shared checking/savings accounts, and went back months through the statements, checking to see his check was fully deposited in our account and he wasn’t taking money out of the account. I was astounded to see just how often and how much he’d been spending on frivolous things while I had been frugal, and asked him whether we had the funds every time I needed to buy something like new shoes or a coat (he’d been spending on meals out, lots of Amazon purchases, etc). I started looking at places to rent, at first on the internet, and then in person.

    By the time I stopped pick me dancing (way too long!) and decided to divorce, I knew just how entitled he felt he was, but I was not prepared for how this increased and manifested during the property settlement. He didn’t want to use a lawyer. He wanted to go through mediation (the mediator disabused him of his belief mediation wouldn’t require a lawyer). He wrote up a property settlement and expected me to agree with it.

    In the end, he didn’t get his own lawyer, and I did the work of filling out all paperwork, including finding the numbers needed. I ended up with a different lawyer than I one I initially consulted with because when I returned to see her she wanted me to pay the consultation fee all over again, after telling me in the initial consultation that wouldn’t be necessary. She also wanted quite a large retainer. Nor was she transparent in what it would cost. But she really lost me when she failed to express any empathy for my situation, and said we “should both be free to live the lives we want.” I wasn’t looking for a therapist, but I wanted to feel my lawyer at least understood my situation. I was delighted with the lawyer I eventually hired. She was transparent about fees, promised to hold his feet to the fire if needed, and I felt she had my back.

    I “gave” when I thought it served my interests, and stood my ground on other things (that also served my interests). My primary goal was to get free from my ex asap, and I made decisions in that light. For example, I let him have the house for a very low amount, because I did not want to be the one to have to do all the work to ready it for sale and remain tied to him while that happened. (I also knew just what would have to be done before it could be sold, because I’d been the one responsible for taking care of it for years.)

    That my lawyer had my back and that the law didn’t care a whit about what his entitled self thought was “fair” was enormously empowering for me. Also important was that I never told him about all the preparation I was making: consulting a lawyer, surveying our financial records, seeking out places for me to move. I suppose that as I’ve said how important that stealth preparation was, it is ironic that one of the most enormously satisfying moments in our break up was the look on his face when one night he said to me that he “didn’t see how we would go forward without divorce,” and I whirled around and spat back “Good. Because that’s what I want. And I’ve already seen a lawyer.” He thought he had the upper hand, and it had apparently never occurred to him that I could keep secrets from him, too.

    • But she really lost me when she failed to express any empathy for my situation, and said we “should both be free to live the lives we want.”

      What the what?! Glad you dropped that lawyer. That common attitude justifies all manner of shitty behavior. “If it feels good, it’s ok.” Ugh.

      Anyway, great job on getting the upper hand in the divorce prep!!! Yay you!

  • Couple things come to mind for me:

    – if you’re wreckconciling, get a Post Nup with a fair settlement…

    – once they move out, change the locks immediately

    – when after a year past discard, he still hadn’t filed and would not discuss divorce terms with me, I filed pro se… he ignored it… so without telling him, I hired a lawyer and had him served… felt good to take back some of my power

    – I had married later in life and had some assets prior to the marriage that I protected with a pre-nup… when he tried to challenge the validity of it in court, I held my ground… thank you LegalZoom

    – even though I was/am co-parenting, I went hard core grey rock during the divorce process… all communication via email, minimal texts and no phone calls or meet-ups

    You can do this… it sucks… but you can do it.

  • When I was still in the throes of wreckonciliation, my personal therapist advised me to do some visualization exercises that would help reduce my anxiety and make me better able to cope and function in my situation. She told me to imagine what I would want my life to be like if the reconciliation didn’t work out. She said that doing so would make that scenario less scary, that my anxiety levels would be reduced as a result. She also told me to start putting some of the practical pieces in place… Things that would be necessary if I needed to enact my “Plan B“.

    All of this was framed as an exercise that would help support my attempt at reconciliation by reducing my anxiety levels. Which was true. But what is also true is that I owe that woman A tremendous debt of gratitude . Because of her, I had already selected and engaged my divorce attorney, coparenting mediator, and financial mediator *two months* before Dday #2. Because of her, I was fully prepared to shut down wreckonciliation immediately upon D Day#2. I had already made my exit plans, and knew exactly what my life was going to be like. Because of her, I was able to begin divorce negotiations within only two weeks of Dday #2. I was able to locate and rent a home for me and my children within two months of Dday #2, so that I was able to take my children and move out within days of the school year being over. My divorce was final 11 months after Dday #2.

    Thank God for that woman. I only have one precious life, and she helped me to stop flushing it down the toilet on a FW.

  • He told me he wanted a divorce and moved out 4 days later but I managed to get all the credit cards out of his wallet first. I then called all the credit card companies and got new cards. I changed all the passwords. I gave him the joint account because all the bills were tied to it (I knew he’d pay them or be too stupid to call them up to change it). I rerouted my paycheck to my own account.

    I gathered all the financial information and moved it to my office. I went through the house 4 times before moving. I took EVERYTHING and left him to deal with 30 years of crap (it was a rental house). I rented a small storage unit to start moving important items out.

    I became super mom. I shut everything unnecessary off and started stockpiling money. I needed it to rent a new place and to pay for the best, most expensive attorney around. I filed for divorce. I filed separately on our taxes causing him to owe a ton of money. I did all this while he was having a great time in his new single life. I blindsided him.

    He’s been stalling the divorce for 2 years but my expensive attorney handled it all while I sat back and waited. He angered the judge so I got a better than I expected settlement. My attorney drew up the offer and my guess it will be done by the end of the year.

    The only mistake I made was moving out. I should have stayed put until the divorce was final. By moving out and getting my own place he had no motivation to do anything. These assholes won’t do anything unless forced to.

    They are the enemy, they will not be reasonable, they will screw you over, they will lie, they will lie to your kids, they will gather dirt on you, they will push your buttons to keep you down, save your strength because this is war. Grieve later after your plan is in place.

  • My ducks were shaky yet I white knuckled it and had him served

    I could not face taking the paperwork into my lawyer in person. I mailed all my forms to him, even though he practices in the city I live in. I was barely functioning.

    Divorce was like being dropped on a new planet for me. But my life is genuine now and I don’t have to live under seige.

  • I wasn’t the only one blind sided – our MC was shocked beyond belief and outraged. So during the weekend ex was “thinking” about things and broke NC – I knew it was over. But we had one MC left. So I wrote down everything I wanted to say about how this was mistake and not what I wanted but if he was suddenly irrevocably determined to get a divorce and being around me was so unacceptable…that he must want to go back a bag and stay elsewhere. And oh – leave the keys and garage opener and you have 30 mins before my dad gets there.

    I did it in front of the MC bc I knew ex was a coward who would loathe confrontation and looking like the bad guy even more in front of the MC. And before that session, I moved 2/3s of our joint account to my personal account. And redirected my paycheck and stopped 401k contributions.

    Ex found out about that the next day and was not happy.

    I don’t know how I managed to be a badass for that week – probably my parents assuring me I was right and needed to do it because I was a complete mess and literally on the ground for the next 2 months.

    I implicitly knew no contact was the way to go from there but I still thought he must have a brain tumor and maybe this can be salvaged if we can get him help. so I was low contact.

    At about 2 months I went NC and demanded email only unless emergency. That was the true beginning of healing.

  • I did everything wrong. I was full of hopium and pick me danced as if my life depended on it. All the affair recovery forums, wreckonciliation books, 5 marriage counsellors. All trying to change the reality that he sucked. Once the final straw came and I kicked him out I didn’t realise he had all the financial documents. I took the wrong advice of friends twice on lawyers who were crap and expensive. I sent nasty emails to him that he used in the settlement. The only thing I did right was to move half our savings out of our joint account and into my own really early on.
    I let him file as I figured he could pay the cost of the divorce as he got more of the property settlement. It was a brutal shock that he did so quickly. He let me think he was all in for wreckonciliation but not even a week after kicking him out he was dating.
    My advice is get all your financial documents in order as well as a good FAMILY lawyer before you kick them out. And believe they truly suck.

  • I got my Dear John letter after she had talked to a lawyer and ramped up her affair. She did all the paperwork and told me where to sign. She did all this while I was home and quarantined with our two young children. I felt like I needed to move out and started looking for rentals right away. I knew I couldn’t rent again after being a home owner for several years so I started looking to buy. And I got sober and worked on getting good sleep and being there for my children. I got my mom to co-sign on a place that really spoke to me as a place to heal and grow my new life. I bought the place a few weeks later. FW’s head was spinning with the clarity and decisiveness of my actions. I then focused on finishing our marital home to put on the market and spent the next three weeks working every night while FW moved out and into an apartment with her AP. I got the house looking great and sold it for a $250k profit which I split with FW. I was in my new house a week later with money in my bank account. Those moves have helped me get close to Tuesday even with FW and AP getting married last week and posting themselves all over social media. My kids are still hurting but we will get through this together. Having a special place to call home has made a big difference to all of us.

  • Stupid things like the joint Spotify account resulted in some crazy-making situations.

    On the way to a wedding shortly after D-Day (a wedding that my then-husband was pissed about being disinvited to), I was playing Spotify in my car.

    He logged in and changed what I was listening to. Until that moment, I didn’t realize this was possible.

    My sister was in the car with me, and she switched it back. He switched it again. She switched it back. This went on for 5 minutes. He eventually gave up.

    It was so petty. But it did reveal to me that he wasn’t sorry and that he didn’t give a rat’s ass about me. I mean, I was only three weeks form Dday. I was not eating. I was crying every day. He said he was sorry, but he didn’t act that way. Sorry would understand my need to soothe with music. Sorry would let me listen to Adele, for God’s sake.

    I got my own account shortly thereafter.

  • I had been gaslighted and manipulated by an expert, and the X was having an open affair with our neighbor. I was also studying for my finals in a grueling college program (thanks, fuckwit!) So, just not knowing how to deal with this, but badly wanting OUT.
    When I told my father and sister one day, how crushed I was, he told me he’d hire me a lawyer, so I was able to immediately start lining up those ducks. I moved quite a lot of stuff out of the house, and he never even noticed, so busy with the OW. I got all set up with my lawyer, and then informed him we were through, and moved out. My piece of advice is- keep it all business with your lawyer! I found them so easy to talk to, but I should have found a therapist sooner, and I felt bad, the bill was kind of high, because I was telling them all the awful things that had happened. Try to keep it to the simple facts, even though you’re dying inside. (my father didn’t care, he was fine with the final cost).

    • Excellent reminder for the new chumps. An attorney and a therapist are there to support you in different ways. Lawyers cost a lot more than psychologists !

  • Absolutely the only thing I regret out of the whole situation of separating from/divorcing a narcissistic cheater is not finding the right kind of help or getting good advice at the time. Chump Lady was the guiding light that finally saved me. Unfortunately I didn’t find this site until very late in the healing process. But better late than never. Im 100% on track now

    • You know what Lorie— it’s all ok. And I can so relate 🙂 Glad you’re free now. Forgive yourself. Trauma from a FW is horrendous — all the awful was their doing. ❤️

  • My ducks were sort of all over the place. But I got the job done ????

    Lessons learned:
    1. Do your best to stay focused on your kids if you have them. Put all your energy into getting the best outcome financially and custodial for them. It kept me on track when I wanted to freak out and blast the world with the crazy I was dealing with
    2. Have grace with yourself and get your own therapy immediately. I was blind sided. FW has been acting differently and starting fights in the last few months. I couldn’t figure it out. Then it sort of came to me all at once as I was driving home and I confronted him without a plan or even believing what my brain was telling me. (Don’t do that) He walked away for a few minutes then immediately returned and told me that I was right, he loved a coworker and no longer loved me… and he packed up and left within the hour! And just like that, I was left by my husband. So I went into trauma. And it was horrible. Then I had to pick up my son (who was 9) from friend’s house and I had to deal with everything alone and unprepared and out of my mind… even that dad wasn’t coming home anymore. It was so surreal. Even looking back, not sure there is a way to deal with this better. I had zero preparation. And he just left.
    3. Right before he left I freaked out and made him hand me his phone and open it so I could read their texts. He didn’t want to but I grabbed a hammer and threatened to break the phone (not a threat to him — still … don’t do that ????) and I sat and read his messages while he packed. But I was so in shock that I didn’t think to take pics and send to myself — ugh. Wish I had! Screenshot everything you can find
    4. I melted down that night and was calling and begging him back — but again… trauma. But he came over after calling the police on me to have me taken away for suicide watch. Ain’t that special? The emergency mental health facility recognized there was nothing wrong with me… just traumatized. So they apologized. But it shook me awake that FW had me cuffed and taken away… so it helped me make some good decisions that followed…
    5. Make your plan — get your finances together right away. Get your own account and move half the money into it
    6. Call your close friends, family, church or any other support you need so you are not alone. Ask advice from those who may know good lawyers or went through this themselves
    7. Don’t tell FW you are doing anything. But do start researching lawyers. I felt frantic and went with the first lawyer I found. Bad idea. I brought a friend who I thought knew more about lawyers and both of us were hoodwinked. My first lawyer took advantage of me financially. So really look all around and get advice any which way. Some places have Women’s resource centers (men can call too!!) or first Friday types of seminars to help guide you with finances, legal etc advice at low cost. Look for those. But also be wary — my lawyer worked those. Good news though… that attorney got things rolling right away for adultery so I was able to serve him within 2 weeks. My divorce was done in one year
    7. Check every line item your attorney charges. Not sure if it’s legit? Ask around. You shouldn’t get nickel and dimed for every little thing. Don’t like your lawyer? Don’t be afraid to switch. I got a new lawyer and she was awesome.
    8. Make sure your attorney is involved with who is chosen as a mediator if it goes that way — my custodial mediator was an asshole and best friends with FWs lawyer. Didn’t make that mistake with the final equitable distribution settlement.
    9. I wasn’t afraid to go to court. Don’t be afraid. Trust yourself. Trust your lawyer. And if FW isn’t working with you, call his bluff. Usually they back down. First time (for pendente lite — emergency financial support), FW wouldn’t agree to help me and forced us to court. He looked like and idiot and the judge awarded me more than maximum. After that, he wasn’t so keen to go to court ????
    10. Don’t share ANYTHING on social media
    10. Don’t share anything in writing — pretend anything you write could be used in court. Because it can be.
    11. Before you even start this process… get as much credit as you can on your credit card…. Once credit card companies see law firms on your bill, they won’t let you have more credit!
    12. Get access to everything you can… check phone records if you have a shared account.
    13. Try not to be reactive with FW. PTSD was so bad that I was full of anxiety and had little control. I did things I wish I hadn’t (like freaking out and ripping FWs shirt). But also, big picture… I didn’t destroy things or do anything truly crazy. Try to manage that as best you can under the circumstances
    14. Take time for yourself. Try to mediate. EAT. I starved myself and couldn’t eat. I lost 25 pounds in a month. And I didn’t sleep for a year. Try to breathe through all the pain and come here for support. I didn’t know CL then… wish I did.
    15. Put a camera on your home and inside once you are living separately so FW can come on by or try to come inside
    16. Be very careful and thoughtful about custody, make a list of everything you want. And avoid a coparenting coordinator at all costs. Most asshat FWs just manipulate and it’s a waste of money and very frustrating and not in the children’s best interests.

    That’s all I can think of for now…. So much to figure out on this horrible road. But it leads to peace on the other side

    • Couple of typos:
      14. Take time for yourself. Try to *MEDITATE. …
      15. Put a camera on your home and inside once you are living separately so FW *CAN’T come on by or try to come inside

    • This is a great list. It is full of practical ideas and truths about the emotional difficulty of it all.

      • Thank you. It’s easy to say hindsight is 20/20, but the reality of it is that many of us go through serious trauma and can barely keep it together or think clearly enough to make the right decisions. I hope this helps someone.

  • Long time lurker, first time poster. Thank you, Chump Lady, for this website. I was reading this website to help my sister through her own personal chump hell when I found myself in the same position. Thanks to this website, I kept everything I found to myself. Took screen shots and pictures of everything. Next, found a counselor to help me keep things straight in my head, made a list of all financials and made copies of everything. Started putting away money for a retainer and saw a lawyer for a free consult within a week of D-Day. Once I felt I was in a good position, I confronted him reading from a written script, to keep me focused, and filed. Looking back, I can’t believe I handled it as well as I did, but after having read this website for so long to help my sister, it clicked into place.

  • I just had a thought about selecting a lawyer. I read that a lawyer can’t represent someone in a divorce if the other spouse has consulted with them?

    In retrospect, I should have consulted with the old family friend he “retained”. Not only would he have had to actually pay another lawyer for legal services, but he also wouldn’t have been able to maintain his image. I guess it could be risky, but I think it could also provide some negotiating strength.

    I didn’t believe it when other chumps said the victory was in the leaving. But it is.

    • That’s actually a great point. Try to find out who the best “go to” lawyers are in the area and pay the consulting fees (worth it) and consult with all of them. When a FW doesn’t know you’re doing it, it’ll get them good when they need to find a lawyer.

      • Yup. Klootzak is a military retiree and there are a lot of things to know about splitting military pensions and other military benefits that make military divorces unique and best to not be handled by any old divorce attorney. I live in a military town. My first consultation, on the recommendation of a friend married to a very high ranking officer, was an attorney who literally wrote a book on military divorce. She is quoted by the media on the subject. She is a total bulldog. I decided not to use her but feel my consult fee was well spent in preventing klootzak from using her.

  • My FW announced his schmoopie to me over the phone, then packed up all his stuff and moved out. After 40 years of marriage. He said, “Get the paperwork, I’ll sign it.” I said, “I’ll give you a divorce but I want the house, 1/2 your retirement and alimony.” He said, “You’re not getting all that.” I said, “The attorney needs $2500 upfront. Do you have that?” He said, “No.” I said, “Maybe your girlfriend has it.” To which he gave me that standard look of disgust he always saved for me and walked away.

    I’m very proud of my duck lining up skills. I cried, screamed, ranted and scanned, cried and scanned for days. I took my stack of neatly organized documents to an attorney who said, “You’re still alive, you’ll do fine.”…meaning I looked young for my age (61). I nearly fell out of my chair. Entirely inappropriate to say to a woman who has just been informed of her husband’s affair. Then this attorney left me with his legal assistant who was a woman near my age who looked down her nose at me like churchlady on Saturday Night Live with a “tsk, tsk” when I answered her questions.

    I called in the next day and fired that attorney! I stood up for myself!!!

    Next I called the bulldog attorney I had heard rumors of for many years. She’s a fighter. I thought I wouldn’t really need a fighter since he had already said he would sign everything so he could marry schmoopie asap. My first conversation with my new attorney I cried so hard she couldn’t understand most of my words. Then she carefully laid out the plan for me, all along saying, “in case it goes this far”, etc. I think about that conversation even now because it was clear to her immediately exactly the type of person my ex was. This was not her first rodeo. And she prepared from the beginning for his narc tricks of delaying, avoiding, pouting, etc.

    On the day of the final court hearing (a judge had to decide everything because FW would not agree to anything), she was that bulldog for me. And I was so very, very grateful for her strength. She may actually be the first person ever in my life to just STAND UP FOR ME! FW tried so hard to pull his intimidation tactics, followed by his “poor me, everyone picks on me” story and she had seen that shitshow every day in her career. Even the judge was showing that he had seen this tactic too many times to count in his career. I think it was my first time in 40 years to see FW was the sad sausage he is. In a room full of smart, dedicated, upstanding people – he stuck out like the loser he has always been. Even his own attorney wanted little to do with him by that point.

    Yea, ME!!!!! The beginning of finding my Tuesday. May it please come soon!

  • 1. lawyer
    2. contacted divorced friend with listening capabilities STAT
    3. called close friends for support
    4. transferred $$ to private account
    5. individual counselling ASAP
    6. talk to your family doctor about what’s going on

    my X said, “let’s be certain. take a few months to really talk it through. this is a big decision” but i think he was just prepping from an emotional perspective. as for me, there was a period of pick me dancing (cringe) and i insisted we see a marriage counsellor a couple (fruitless) times. that’s where he dropped the most insulting thing i’ve heard: “i don’t love her anymore, maybe i never loved her, but she’s been a good mother to MY KIDS.”

    FFS. i still burn over that. i mean, he said some dumb shit, some insulting shit, some drunk shit, and some crazy shit. but this? THEY’RE OUR KIDS.


    i realized i’m an object to him, as are the kids, and he’s devalued us all. it’s appalling and curious and funny, all at the same time.

    it’s one year since D-day and we’ve almost negotiated a separation agreement with a mediator. my X has tried a number of manipulative things during the process but i just carry on, talk to my lawyer, and repeat the facts: 50/50 ratio. my X seems rather dumb TBH. he didn’t think i’d consult a lawyer from the beginning? that i wouldn’t know my legal rights for spousal support? that i wouldn’t consult an actuary, a financial advisor? WTF?

    “we can do this without lawyers. it’s adversarial with lawyers.” he didn’t believe he needed a lawyer even when the mediator told him so. he believes he’s the exception to the rules.

    i suspect he didn’t want it to go to court because names are recorded in the records, and there’s the matter of his married co-worker, his direct subordinate, the one he’s shagging, the one he promoted to a directorship after he started shagging her. gah.

    i really like the commenter above who said, “take off your wedding ring and put on your business hat.”

    this does not mean that gallons of tears haven’t fallen because they have. divorce is a motherfucker.

    • I agree, we are just appliances to them. Disposable for something newer. My son caught out a lot of his photos and text from a shared account that FW forgot was turned on. My son is 25 and in the Navy but he confronted my STBX . FW got all enraged when DS came back with if FW didn’t love me or his son, why didn’t he leave years ago? FW really couldn’t answer. Needless to say DS decided not to deal with FW and is no contact. FW tried to get in touch when son was home for Thanksgiving but it did not work. Of course I got blamed. FW did this to himself through his choices. He was not willing to have a honest discussion with his son so now he lost that relationship. It’s like he threw us in the garbage and then decided he wants something back from the garbage and goes searching. Guess FWs will be FWs and don’t think of consequences.

    • What’s with their logic, Feels Bad? “With lawyers it gets adversarial”? As if the presence of the lawyer causes the adversity? No, dippy, it’s “with adversarial, one gets a lawyer”. The presence of adversity causes the lawyer.

  • After reading many CN posts here, it should become concrete to newbies that we focused on cleaning up the mess left by our FWs.

    Being a male chump was the hardest thing I’ve ever experienced.

    I had to divorce my alcoholic first wife to spare my daughter the tradegy of growing up in an alcoholic home like I did. That cost me 16000$ and our house but my daughter was saved. She turned out fabulous and was a major support during my journey through hell.

    When I discovered the reality of what was really going on with wife 2 i took immediate action and found a female lawyer. Lawyers bill in 7 Minute Intervals and are not your psychological counselors
    I knew that i had screenshot irrefutable evidence she’d been unfaithful from her own texts to her AP. (4 possible…two confirmed fuckbuddies).

    I immediately began the legwork to protect my cash assets and typed a separation agreement which included forfiture of any Social Security attachments, retitling of vehicles, bill responsibility assignments, division of land and property division and re-deeding in my name throughout the separation. I’ve always kept bank accounts separate in both marriages because primary breadwinner and bill payer.

    Hint: in a large number of cases, it was pointed out to me the cheater controls the phone bill. Thus making AP communications easier to hide.

    No contact started within about 3months. After I got her signsture on the SA i called my retained lawyer and pulled the trigger. Divorce was inked 10 months. I got a small 2 br cottage and 4.5 acres of land

    I was covert and her limerance for her AP
    lessened the value of material things she agreed to give up. I told all the kids- grown adults- what happened. I copied all the damaging texts,store receipts, AP photos and names on CD and told her I’d mail each kid and her employer a copy. This was a leverage psyop on my part and it worked well. Image management is so important to these psychos. I guessed correctly that Exposure would be a stern motivator for her. I had her “infidelity dossier” and she had no idea of the proof of her betrayal therein save the one printed text I showed her that could not be denied. Virginia is an at fault state and I became a quick study of thise laws. I threatened to sue her lover for damages and had the resources to ruin him. She defended her AP saying “He didn’t have anything”. Another motivating trump card.

    It’ll be 5 years divorced Jul22 and I told her F2F that she wasn’t welcome on my property. I haven’t spoken a word to her. She’s white trailer trash. You can take the girl out of the trailer park, but you can’t take the trailer park out of the girl.

    • Marcus Lazarus, respect. You just laid out a template for me to follow. ????????????

      • Bro when you search/get a female lawyer ask her if she has ever been divorced and why. A female lawyer that was a victim of adultery, was shit upon by the courts with child support UN ENFORCEMENT, and knows how you feel is a winning combo, imho. They’ve got skin in the game and know how their own sex thinks.
        (British accent) Right then!! Chin Up
        Yank. Quick Time!, March

  • In the States, when you’re narrowing down your choice of attorney, call your state’s bar association and check to see if the potential service provider is being “investigated” by the governing body. I don’t know the correct term. My mother’s divorce attorney was under review for something and he didn’t disclose this when she hired. I don’t think it affected her settlement but this was not ethical in my opinion.

    Chumps can get chumped some more by others after the cheater treats them like ????.

    • Like a weak gazelle, easy prey for predators lurking in the grasses.

    • The state bars have websites and you can and should check, but take it with a grain of salt.

      My first attorney clearly took advantage of me. She (nor the crooked firm she worked for) were listed for any investigation or issue.

      However, OTHER LAWYERS in the area were well aware of the problems with this firm. After changing attorneys, both my new attorney AND FWs attorney(!) supported me reporting her to the state bar. I did. The investigation dragged on 2 years. The investigator was certain they’d get in trouble and said I did an incredible job reporting and proving everything. But even he warned me that lawyers protect lawyers.

      In the end, my former attorney got a slap on the wrist — she needed to prove she took “additional training” and I was informed that I couldn’t share anything regarding the case!! Wtf?

      And where is that terrible attorney now? She was just made a judge last month.

      In other words — don’t trust that the state bar really protects anyone

  • I changed beneficiary on an inherited IRA from him to our 3 adult children. Then I opened up a free checking account at another bank. Next I started liquidation of some stocks to move to our joint savings, then from joint savings to my account. This was all just in case there was a problem, he kept saying I was imagining things, he was just depressed about the business…..

    GF confronted us at airport on my 60th birthday ???? I picked me danced, i kicked him out before Thanksgiving until he fired her. Then I allowed him back home for Christmas big MISTAKE. Between Thanksgiving and Christmas I replaced my 2003 Lexus sedan with a 2017 RAV4, paid out of our money market account. He said I bet you didn’t even put my name on that car. DUH He thought I paid for it out of my inheritance.

    I copied business bank statements and business CC statements.

    I called a friend of mine that worked at the courthouse, she got me the name of two family law attorneys that she and others that worked at the courthouse would recommend. While still pick me dancing I consulted the attorney using some of my inheritance money for a $300 consultation. Attorney told me I could take all of the joint money for safekeeping and if there was any left after the divorce, husband & I would split it. I did not touch IRAs. I left a note for my accountant to contact me about changing the beneficiary but that did not get through in time. Fortunately I didn’t die. I took a credit card with no balance and changed it from statements delivery to the office and made it electronic to me. I put the $7500 retainer on that CC.

    Found out girlfriend was just on vacation, and I found out he was also on drugs. He refused treatment. Denial about his addiction.
    I dumped his clothes in the waiting room of the office and filed, he got served at work in front of a waiting room full of patients. FW Stopped contributing to household. I used the safe guarded money to pay all the bills and taxes until we sold our Costa Rica vacation home during divorce. Lucky there, before pandemic

    He waited until last day to get attorney. He started taking $$ from IRA, I started filing separately for taxes. He racked up credit card debt on business card. I consulted an estate attorney because we had trusts. I updated and amended mine. I made sure he was purposely left out of my will. I removed him as my trustee, my health care surrogate and power of attorney. Health care surrogate actually came in handy. I fainted while walking the dog and went by ambulance to the hospital with a laceration. I was so glad that my daughter was my health care surrogate and there was no legal need to call FW.

    My therapist said she admired my business like attitude during the 2.5 years while being devastated. I was petrified of making poor decisions. Having a lawyer that will let you email he or she was paramount. I came in contact with many others who said they had to make an appointment to talk to their lawyer about anything. That adds up.

    • A comment regarding emailing an attorney. There is a local business that ships all legal documents via FedEx or UPS. Nothing sent over the internet. Hackable?

      • I used a local printer for copies of documents and hand carried to attorney. Guess it depends on one’s comfort level. The paralegal (only $100 an hour) made 3 copies, for depositions or mediation.

        Most emails were just quick FYI or responses to questions about my case.

    • Also ran a credit report on each of us before filing. Useful to know what I was joint on for credit and what I was an authorized user only. I snail mailed company to remove myself as authorized user, I saved their confirmation. I Paid off & closed joint card after reading article about the possibility of spouse transferring his CC balance from another card to low balance, high limit joint card making me liable. No thanks.

  • Also, chumps with children, make sure you change your last will and testament.

    I was still a minor the year my parents’ divorce was finalized. It was either the divorce decree or her updated will that stated if my mother died before I finished my undergrad degree (and turned 21), I would spend my school holidays and summer break at her friend’s house, in my hometown. She wanted to assure some stability for me in familiar surroundings. I had gone no contact with my father because of how he abused me and my mother. I learned years later he was whining to people in town “my wife alienated my daughter from me ???? ???? !” An insult to my intelligence.

    My senior year, my father “gifted” me his midlife crisis car to drive to and from uni (4 hour drive one way) and have on campus. An orange Dodge Omni which turned out to be a lemon-a real man magnet ???? I was visiting my mother on a short break and delayed driving back by a day because I think she was having a panic attack (?).

    Trauma can take somebody like that-heart attack, stroke,etc.

  • D-day was May 1, 2019. I didn’t find CL and CN until July 7. I made plenty of rookie mistakes in that time frame,  but once I discovered the wealth of information here I read everything starting with the archives and finishing up with LACGAL.

    You all saved my life????????????

    I followed the plan I learned here.
    1. Got an STD check.
    2. Lined up the ducks.
    3. Hired an attorney.
    4. Took household items for the future.
    5. Made my escape plan.
    6. All in stealth mode – this is very important!

    He was served on Valentines day 2020, and he never saw it coming.  Wow, did I feel mighty.

    He asked me how I could file for divorce and not discuss it with him ? What nerve these fuckwits have…. He never once thought to discuss with me his three decades + of serial cheating. Yep that makes me the bad guy I guess, NOT.

    Divorce was final in October 2020.  I  bought a house in May and I am now and forever sparkledick free.

    Newbies, I know how horrible and insurmountable life feels to you at this moment.  Learn all that you can here, study everyday. Start making your plan, and little by little you’ll start to realize that you can get out of the psychopath’s clutches.

  • A while ago, someone in this group asked, “What can I do to protect myself?” My answer to her would dovetail nicely into today’s topic. I hope it helps someone else prepare for their journey out of the darkness.

    Here is what I wrote previously:


    You asked, “How can I protect myself”?

    Your #1 priority is to become strategic about everything you do from here on out. Obviously, you’ve got some serious choices to make. If your husband agrees to (a) terminate this “relationship“, (b) go into both individual and marriage counseling, and (c) make your marriage a priority, that’s one path. But if he doesn’t want that, and/or you don’t want that, that’s an entirely different and more complicated path — but it’s doable if you stay focused.

    Here are my suggestions:

    (1) Do NOT let on that you are suspicious of his activities. As difficult as it will be, act as normal as possible. And be extremely careful as to who you share your suspicions with (family or friends) because you never know who might inadvertently slip up and say something to him.

    I know some people have suggested you remove 50% of the money in your bank accounts, but of course, that will immediately signal to him that you’re onto him (before you’re ready), and then the die has most likely been cast. If you only want an exit strategy and not a reconciliation plan, then go ahead and take half the money, but be sure you won’t regret it.

    (2) Get online and initiate a search for every family law attorney within a 10-mile radius of your home. You can also check attorney-based websites like to see if these attorneys are listed in their database, if clients have reviewed their performance, etc. See which ones offer a free initial consultation and then make an appointment ASAP with each one. **Once you’ve contacted an attorney, your husband won’t be able to retain them; this gives you a strategic advantage.** Also, if you use your home computer/tablet/mobile phone to do this search, be sure to clear your history! Otherwise, go to your local library and use their computers so your husband can’t accidentally uncover your inquiries. Go into each attorney appointment armed with a short list of intelligent questions regarding what you can do to protect yourself financially and legally, and if you have children, be sure to ask about custody. Each appointment might only be 30 minutes long, so keep it together and stay on track. Specifically ask what services they’ll provide, and how available they’ll be to you. Remember, you’re not hiring a warm and fuzzy therapist, you’re hiring a tough and competent legal advisor to be in your court and protect you. This is really important because things could get ugly. Explain to the attorney that your husband doesn’t yet know about your suspicions; you still have to decide when to confront him and see if he’s interested in marriage counseling, and if not, that’s when you’ll need their help to go to the next level. After all the attorney meetings, decide which person is best suited to represent you. Use your intuition to gauge their attitude and personality. Will they really fight for you, or do you sense they’re just blowing smoke to get your business?

    (3) On the sly, start collecting every single legal and financial document you can. Include both your documents, and your husband’s, and if applicable, your children’s.

    Legal documents like birth certificates, passports, Social Security cards, marriage licenses, previous divorce decrees/QDRO agreements, adoption paperwork, military records, all estate planning documents (Last Wills, Trust Agreements, Durable and Healthcare Powers of Attorney, Living Wills, DNRs), etc.

    Financial documents like statements for all bank accounts (personal and if applicable, business), all investment accounts, college savings plans, all retirement accounts, pensions, insurance policies (home, car, life, health, dental, vision), annuity contracts, mortgage loans, real estate deeds, vehicle loans, car titles, and last but not least, your last 3 years’ worth of tax returns (his, yours, or joint).

    Next, make copies of every credit card (back and front) you have. Call each credit card issuer and confirm which of you is the “primary account holder” and who (if applicable) is an “authorized signer“; at some point, you may have to separate these accounts and it’s important to know this information. Then make copies of all your most recent credit card statements.

    Next, make copies of all utility statements (cell phones, landlines, cable, electric, gas, trash, water, etc.).

    It’s much better to have copies of statements and not need them than to need them and no longer have access to them. **Since you don’t want to raise suspicions, either make physical copies of the documents -or- scan them onto a thumb drive which you keep in a safe and secure location.**

    (4) If you’re in the United States and you live in a no-fault state, the court won’t care if you’re splitting up due to infidelity. But for purposes of negotiation (especially if you enter into any mediation proceedings), the more evidence you have of his behavior, the better those negotiations might go because he may not want the truth to get out to family, friends, business colleagues, neighbors, etc. By “evidence”, I mean copies of emails, screenshots of text messages, cards or letters, or anything else in writing you might discover, plus… copies of cell phone bills with the repetitive number highlighted, line items on credit card statements for purchases you know you didn’t make and are out of the ordinary for his historical spending patterns. If your husband’s been very clever about perpetrating financial abuse, you may have to hire a forensic accountant in order to dig deep and uncover all of the expenditures made with marital funds.

    (5) Find yourself a good therapist for individual counseling. Whether you stay with your husband or you don’t, you’re going to need the support.

  • I was in a unique situation when DDay happened. I was living as an expat in a foreign country through my (now) exH’s employer. My home, transportation, and many other living expenses were covered through his place of work. I had given up a good paying job to move overseas for him, and I had literally nothing to my name in the country we were living in. As with most chumps, I did not suspect a thing when things hit the fan. About two weeks before DDay I went on a trip in which (I later found out) he had made arrangements for the OW to stay in our home while I was gone. When I returned, he was acting so out of character, would barely talk to me, and kept saying that I put too much pressure on him, and he wanted me to go back to my home country to give him space. He insisted that I just made him so angry.

    At this point, I did a couple of things:
    1. In one of my moments of clarity, I asked for him to move a decent chunk of money to a savings account in my name only. (I am not sure how I convinced him to do this, I just simply said I needed this to feel safe and think about considering his suggestion of me returning back to my home country.)
    2. My gut and intuition were going in hyper-drive. I started gathering information. He was definitely THAT out of character – I just knew something was not right. This included perusing his social media in which I found the evidence that the OW had stayed in my home when I was gone. This of course lead to DDay.

    After DDay:
    1. I immediately left the home and went to a dear friend’s house. (I found out about the affair when I was alone, so I am glad I left before hearing his BS.) This friend was extremely supportive and was actually an advocate for working out my marriage (this 100% changed once everything fully came to light), and another friend joined us who was much more logical. This first kept my anger in check (to not make any emotional decisions like burning his clothes…) and the second kept me in reality. These two friends I am a firm believer saved my life. TELL CLOSE FRIENDS/FAMILY. You need the support. If you have that friend who can keep you from making crazy emotional decisions out of anger and/or a friend who can keep things logical, seek their advice.

    2. Secure housing. Given my unique situation, I had to work with my then-husband to get in a separate space for my emotional and mental health. At the time, I thought I was needing to do that to work on my marriage with some distance between us, but I think my subconscious was seriously just wanting to keep myself safe. This ensured I had a home to get through the divorce process, and he actually arranged it through his work too (saved on expenses).

    3. Interview lawyers – especially those that may have experience with narcissists. Yes, I get we should not label others with unconfirmed diagnoses, but I knew my exH, and I knew he was going to be aggressive going to court. I wanted to have someone that could stand up to him while I was an emotional mess.

    4. Keep your moves secret. My exH was tracking me on my iPhone (Find My Friends app), which had always been set up for years. I never thought much of it, as we could see when each other would be home from work to walk the dogs, make dinner, etc. Right before serving him with divorce papers, I moved the tracker to another Apple device sitting at my new home. He never saw my visits to the lawyers. I also used a friend’s credit card to pay for my transportation expenses to/from the lawyers, as my exH would have seen the charges.

    5. Have cash handy. I took out funds from the ATM just before he was served, and I was glad I did. He froze my credit cards just after.

    6. Get that marriage certificate. I needed this to file for divorce. Make copies of the financials – I wish I had done more of this, as I was missing critical documents (such as tax returns) when we were going through financial disclosure.

    7. Have him served. My exH got ANGRY after he received the divorce papers. He had never physically hurt me during our 12 year marriage, but I always wonder what could have happened that day had I been there in person. Luckily I was at a friend’s home and safe. You just never know.

    8. Some people say go no contact as soon as possible. I do agree this is best for your emotional health. With that said, in the three weeks between DDay and serving my exH with divorce papers, my exH, for some reason, thought it was best to write out all of the details (e.g. lies) of the affair. He admitted to sleeping together “one time” in which he felt so guilty afterwards (eye roll). I think he did this, because he knew I was questioning all of his explanations. Maybe he thought gaslighting me on paper would be easier than verbally. Needless to say, this is what I used to file for divorce on the grounds of adultery, and he could not contest the divorce on these grounds. Thank you, exH.

    9. If there is ANY manipulative behavior that is demonstrated at any point, or any sort of aggression that makes you feel unsafe, just skip mediation. We tried it, and he constantly was trying to control the conversation and manipulate the lawyer to make things go his way. This caused even more emotional distress for me. Court was much easier, as the conversations were between our lawyers, and I never had to say a word to him or look at him. The extra costs were worth it in my opinion.

    I hope this helps to any of you in this situation. It was complete hell for me at the time, but I am so proud of myself now for the growth I went through going through it. Yes, I made mistakes, but I got out. And I am staying out. Meh is almost here.


      This absolutely. I spent almost a month from Dday, in a blind numb stupor; I was so humiliated I didn’t want my dad or brothers to know, or anyone else what he had done to me. I couldn’t think straight. I don’t know what my mind was thinking. I guess I thought somehow the genie would get put back in the bottle. He was telling me he was trying to get his head on straight and he needed time before telling anyone.

      He used that time to get out of the house and unknown to me he had been outed at work and he was furiously trying to save himself.

      Meanwhile, I was about to go under with no real support.

      I finally called my family. I had talked to the preachers, but I didn’t say much. I never did tell the whole humiliating story until about a year ago and I finally spilled to my brother and my son.

      They use us for their own benefit, they don’t care how it destroys us.

  • I’ve only read about half of the comments — I work nights (7 pm to 7 am) and only got up about an hour ago. One thing I haven’t seen mentioned is to get your own mailbox. That was the FIRST thing I did when I was getting my ducks in a row.

    The FW and I were living on a sailboat, so I went to a mail forwarding service (St. Brendan’s Isle in Green Cove Springs, FL is a good one — they handle mail for nomads in RVs, sailboats and power boats. For an extra fee, they will open the mail, scan it and email it to you — a great way to keep the FW from getting his hands on it.) There are many private mail forwarding services, and UPS mailboxes work just fine, too.

    After you have your own mailbox (that he knows nothing about), open an account at a different bank, and keep that bank a secret. If you have access to a car (which I didn’t), open a safe deposit box at your new bank and place the originals of your marriage certificate, birth certificate, and any other important papers in the box. If you have print-outs of his text messages or any other evidence of his affair, stash that, too. Don’t underestimate the FW’s willingness to hide or destroy those papers.

    Change all of your passwords to secure, complex passwords that are unguessable. Change the most important ones often.
    Don’t reuse passwords, and don’t use the same ones for two sites. This is all common internet safety advice; but don’t underestimate the malevolence of a FW who is losing control of you. Remember, the cheater is not your friend, he is not on your side, he doesn’t have your back and he’s perfectly willing to screw you over at any opportunity. Don’t give him one.

    One thing I wish I had done was consulted an attorney earlier in the process. And I wish I had taken the money out of our joint savings account and put it into a new savings account under just my name to safeguard it from his spending. And I wish I had closed our joint credit card before he ran up 16k of charges in just a few months.

    I interviewed a kick-ass law firm, but as a retired, itinerant sailor, couldn’t afford them. I hired the solo practitioner just getting started to do the paperwork, and I negotiated my own settlement with the FW. This won’t work for everyone, but as he was a Narcissist, all I had to do was pretend that he was “winning” the divorce. He kept his retirement (most of which he had already spent) and I kept mine (most of which was intact). I gave him the boat and he let me take the dog. I won the divorce. He was anxious to move on with Schmoopie, and I’m sure that was a huge factor.

    • * this is an important piece of advice to farther no contact. I was lucky someone asked me if I had already did this 2 days after we left since all the bills were in my name. I immediately did it. His mail went to his parents so he never checked it at home. Soon after, he aggressively asked if I had a change of address which I consider a bonus because I knew he was now checking for anything he could find.
      He sent a letter that slipped through which he had opened and taped together-I took a picture. Plus I received a kids medical bill in collections 6 yrs post that I’m currently paying off that apparently was sent repeatedly to the home address. No surprise that he was responsible for half but ignored it.

  • My ex wanted to do anything to save the marriage and show me his remorse. (Actually he wanted the lifestyle and family I provided as I am the main breadwinner). We did a postnup. We hammered it out between the two of us and then took it to the attorney. I thought it was very very generous and he said he did too. In reality, the man who never experienced a consequence in his life thought his luck would never run out. He signed the prenup to show me what a good guy he was assuming we would never actually use it. After 2 years (yes, embarrassing) I could see him so clearly for the disordered person he was and we divorced. The prenup stood. Since then he’s told everyone I ruined him financially. Just remember, no matter what you do, the ex will spin it so you are the bad guy.

  • I went No Contact for almost 2 years….. I decided to live my best life… I discovered the hard way that people will thrive on your pain…they’ll love to know that your 30 years of holiday smiling cards were in fact with a cheater…to know now that my cards were met with jealousy rather than joy is obvious… never look too happy it pisses people off…. the people who love you are the people you least expect to do so, no matter how small your circle is.
    Never show blood in the water. Do not become the “crazy bitch” the fk wit cheater presents you to be…. keep a straight back and shields up… do your best acting job…Chump Lady is so right… only the “pretty pony” wins if you go to court…STAY OFF SOCIAL MEDIA…..Teach your sons not to be cheaters and teach your daughters to SAVE THEIR OWN MONEY AND OWN THEIR OWN HOUSE long before getting married and teach your daughters to NEVER SLEEP WITH A MARRIED MAN…..stop breeding OW’s…… Whore’s and homewreckers…..that’s why there’s never an ‘ol gals “network like there is an ol boys network. I’d like to see someone try to hit on Lebron’s wife…..Why, oh.. why are women so mean to other women???? My fkwit is still a Beverly Hills surgeon…… still beloved by 1000’s…. it sickens me… but people don’t care….if it’s the best pilot in the world just fly my plane…patients don’t care about a fkwits personal life “but he’s so great…..” was the reply when I mistakenly told one patient…. I often think I’m alone in a very crazy world …then I remember Chump Nation….the pain is too permeating… too often…too many women….Ladies….please don’t let your daughters grow up to be OW’s…..if they grow up to be Chumps…they are at least good people but there has to be a way to prevent them from feeling the pain..bone chlling pain we have come to know.

    • Slowly accepting that some people just don’t care about the betrayal my children and I endured and see this person who tore his family apart as a ‘good guy’ has been one of the toughest pills to swallow. I am gradually realizing that my circle will get smaller. Socializing with those in Switzerland is a dangerous thing for Chump’s well-being.

  • Mine stopped in the middle of pick me sex and said word for word, I’m only doing this because I can. I’ve never heard anything like that before.

  • I was so tired and beaten down emotionally from the devaluing, the trickle truth & MC that didn’t work, and the excess responsibilities that I was left with. I read CL for 2 years to reframe my thinking about myself. There were times I didn’t see how I’d have the energy to get my ducks in a row. I applaud everyone who made that decision quickly!
    Beginning with interviewing attorneys helped me. It was empowering to do something that would really benefit myself and the kids.
    After I finally chose an attorney, I had a lot of energy. It wasn’t being sucked away trying to make the decision anymore.
    So have hope. Once I fully understood that my husband, now XH, was NOT MY FRIEND and I made the decision to leave all the confusion, things that seemed insurmountable before suddenly were doable.
    Covid may have helped streamline meetings. I filed in November 2020 so many kinks had already been worked out although the courts were still backed up. Everything with my attorney, after the initial 2 consultations, was online or on the phone. His office had a secure portal for document uploads and messaging. It was easy to download a financial statement to my computer & then upload it to the attorney’s portal.
    I promised myself to stay off of social media. And to tell my adult children only the facts, no editorializing. Both were good moves & continue today.
    I think I just broke down in tears once when Comcast needed some obscure form to transfer the WiFi. Actually I think the tears helped. It got done superfast.

  • Just my experience, but they’re usually ten steps ahead of you by the time D day hits. Then chumps do the pick me dance…….thankfully…..from what I’ve read here and my own experience says. They usually aren’t that smart about the whole divorce thing and the actual financial and personal consequences that result from it. They just don’t really grasp the idea of consequences, which is probably the only saving grace for a chump. Mine thought she was just going to be able to get divorced….run off with schmoopie ( which lasted all of 4 months when he got served and both his wife’s and my lawyer got involved) WHAT!?!?!? you mean I don’t get all the money and the kids?!?! It still kinda blows me away that they actually DO think this is cut and dry. Consequences……..something they can’t fathom and something chumps understand all too well. This is where we have the upper hand…….reality. I had a good lawyer, she told me to ride it out and all the false accusations and craziness would come out, the longer she drug it on. She was right. At first I was convinced I was gonna lose it all, gaslighted and convinced of her superiority for so long. Find a GOOD lawyer, do you’re research, talk to them and also don’t expect them to do EVERYTHING. They just met you, they don’t know anything about you’re life. No, they aren’t your therapist, therapists are much cheaper, but DO use them for strategic planning. For instance, I was gonna clean out the bank account. Lawyer says, “no, don’t do that, take half the money out and not a penny more, cancel all you’re credit cards now” Being the reasonable one in front of the courts pays dividends. Yes, I know it’s hard but that’s my advice for getting ducks in a row… the sane one, even when you’re crazy. This will drive them to be even crazier and most judges will see it, especially if they drag it out…..which mine did for almost 3 years. In the end, I got exactly what my lawyer and I agreed upon was realistic from day one. Still, not an easy pill to swallow, but as chumps our strength is that we can see and accept reality even if we don;t like it. They never will. When that part is all said and done, remember this. You gave your heart and soul to another and they started a dumpster fire with it. You get to move forward now and find whatever it is that you want to. They just have an empty dumpster they need to fill and ignite again. Hugs to my fellow chumps…..pretty sure we’re all huggers.

    • “but they’re usually ten steps ahead of you by the time D day hits. ”

      Yep. They have usually had plenty of time to plan. My fw got a crappy lawyer. He lived in the same trailer park whore lived in. But, fw didn’t really need a good lawyer, he just needed someone who would do what he said, and screw Susie over. After all he was in control, and Susie would roll over ad do it his way.

      When he called to say to me “I know you don’t have any reason to trust me, but if we both use the same lawyer (his) we can save a lot of money” I said no, then he said “that is your problem you can’t think for yourself”. I said “you are right, I can not think for myself right now, so I hired someone to do it for me” I really needed to get off the phone because next he would try the double dog dare; and I might not have been able to resist that.

  • I wish so hard that I had had my ducks lined up before I left the cheating exhole. It would have set me up so much better and I wouldn’t have had to struggle as much as I did after I left him.

    However, my best friend’s mother is currently right in the middle of leaving her cheating husband and her duck line up is EPIC.

    She has already consulted a lawyer with her binding financial agreement/pre nup, sold an investment property and purchased a NEW house for herself…all without her soon to be exhole knowing anything about it. She has literally got her new house sitting there waiting for her to move into and he knows NOTHING about it. Tomorrow morning my best friend is headed over to help her pack up heirlooms and sentimental geegaws (all again with her lawyer’s say so) while her cheating husband is at work at the hospital. Then my best friend is taking the boxes and putting them into the new house.

    She is planning on moving out and serving her cheating husband with divorce papers in the first few days of January. I can’t believe how smooth she has been and how calm she has handled this even though this is her SECOND rodeo with a cheater. I’d have fallen apart. But she is just determined not to be screwed over like she was by her first husband (my best friend’s father).

    • Hopefully the house she bought won’t be part of the settlement, but it likely will.

      I agree with all she did, but would caution folks to be careful about buying other properties and hiding it from the courts.

      In my state, after the legal separation is in place each is responsible for their own debts, finances etc incurred after the date of legal separation. Anything that is bought or sold before the legal separation is in play and must be declared.

      • I thought the same thing but her binding financial agreement allowed her to do it with her lawyers blessing. He can’t touch it. She was super smart with her moves. She told me that she was burned once and twice shy…and it paid off to be cautious getting into her second marriage.

  • I wonder why divorce lawyers don’t hand their clients a detailed “To Do” list. I asked for (but did not receive) a standard explanation of how/where/when to change my legal name. Ironically, the local courthouse had a resource for all the brides.

    The suggestion to change spouse/beneficiary to 1% (without their signature) while other things are in motion would have been so helpful.

    Changing driver’s license, car title and car insurance required multiple trips and I am so grateful to the office staff and my bank manager for passing documents to the ex.

    The final (?) shit sandwich of having to undo the shared promises and resources accumulated over a lifetime was particularly painful. But at least I had some control.

    • Because handing you a list results in fewer billable hours; divorce is a big moneymaker for attorneys. Source: my cheating scumbag ex-H was a lawyer. (And – I put him through law school in our younger years!) The only attorney that would take my case against another lawyer (my ex) was a bully and all about how much he could charge people. He and my ex dragged everything out and blamed each other. My ex had lawyer friends to consult for free. He also changed lawyers a couple of times, and purposely tried to starve me out (SAHM). After the divorce I went to work for a different family law attorney at my divorce attorney’s law firm and saw behind the scenes – they don’t want to take blame for anything so hate to put advice in writing, and they want to make as much $money$ as possible. They don’t want the paralegals telling clients anything so clients can be billed for simple things at the attorney’s hourly rate. They will bill in time segments of 15 minutes for a 1-2 minute phone calls, dictating their attorney file “notes” after every call, they charge to read or respond to any emails, etc. They determine how much time they have spent – you don’t have a say. I think my attorney billed me for any casual thought that floated through his brain, or if he happened to see my ex in court… I was scared to open mail from his office to see the huge monthly amount due. My ex and my lawyer both ripped me off. Neither one really cared. Your mileage may vary. This was my experience.

  • I wish once I had discovered the cheating I would have kept it to myself, hired a great therapist and told just a few friend and select family for support. I was so shocked as I had no idea(32 year marriage) the ex was a cheater. I would have used this time to get paperwork copied, family heirlooms moved out, stuff like that.

    I also wished I had done a better job researching and hiring my attorney. I switched attorneys one week before mediation – and had I not done that I would be in much worse shape financially. The original attorney was a narc also.

    Because darn once I discovered and filed – the mask came off and a man appeared that was pure manipulative evil.

  • I had my attorney lined up before I said anything, I paid off a lot of bills including my kids cell phones, and I did some repairs on the house knowing that it was going to need to go on the market. I leased a car. In my state, Texas, a leased car is not considered community property as opposed to a purchased car which will need to be divided so I made sure I kept a car..
    I bought my son a new suit, I helped my daughter with a down payment on her own car I did everything I could with marital assets before I let him know what I was going to do.
    He was so busy texting and sexting and planning another relationship he didn’t notice until after. I even bought airplane tickets for after our mediation date. He was furious in the end I was able to keep them

    • I will add. My husband had his own business. My attorney hired an excellent business evaluator. My husband and his attorney had tried to talk us into just discussing the business assets. The hard professionally researched business valuation impacted my settlement greatly.
      I also saw the benefit of going with a larger law firm. Connections and resources. Familiarity with mediators etc.

      • Good advice to go with a larger law firm for this reasons you mentioned.
        My lawyer knew the mediator well – he was a retired children’s court judge who would put the kids above pretty much else.
        My lawyer advised me well – the initial offer I made was regarded as “fair” by the mediator who had no problem presenting it to the other side. This sort of knowledge is worth money in the long run and a lot of energy on the day.

  • I told her that I went and saw a lawyer. She came up with delay tactics , to drag things out.
    But that time was actually good for me: My original plan was that I would move out of the family home to make it easier for the her and the kids (Chump alert !!!) – my lawyer could convince me that moving out was crazy: She would never be able to live in that house, despite the very generous pay out she could expect. I would have to move out and in and confuse the kids.
    So, I got my act together and kicked her out. I was behaving maturely, gave her 3 weeks , acted as a referee for her rental application (my children would spend time at that place ).
    My point is : listen to your legal advice . For them this is all familiar, daily work. We are in that crazy mindset, the risk is that we get chumped over once again.

  • I saw a lawyer just a few days after he told me he didn’t love me anymore, and less than 3 weeks later, I found out about the affair. My lawyer advised me, before I knew about the affair, that my ex was likely cheating based on his behaviors. He gave me a number of a PI and advised me to leave as soon as an opportunity arise and to obtain permission to take the children with me. I did so. Before I left, I gathered all documents and when I arrived in my new place, I filed for a separation. I quietly built my case over the year we were separated and exactly one year later, to the day that I found out about the affair, I served him with divorce papers. It felt good and I felt peace about it.

  • I didn’t prepare. I lived in denial… He “only” had an emotional affair (or three). He turned our 3 y/o around in the shower before he masturbated so she wouldn’t see. He was a changed man after sex addiction counseling. He only flirts with the lady at church because he had her daughter in 5th grade (he was a teacher). He joined a singles meet up because he was lonely to play board games and go on hikes not because he was interested in dating anyone. The church gave him a leadership position so he must be doing well. His counselor told me I was “neurotic” and needed to see my own sin. All our friends and family thought he was still a “nice guy.” Basically I blamed myself for his deceit, cheating, and abuse. HE filed because I was taking too long to get over things. (and he wanted to go back to the meet-up because it made him “feel alive.” Thirty five years of marriage and three children. He walked away and quickly replaced me with a woman 21 years younger than himself (I’m only 5 years younger). He got away with no spousal support, throwing away a lot of my things, keeping our mutual friends, and looking like the same “nice guy” he has always been known as. A year after the divorce, I just got Lose a Cheater, Gain a Life. Wow! I wish I had read this somewhere in the past eleven years so that I would have been prepared and ready to take care of myself. I spent decades caring for him and it was just natural to continue to even when he showed himself to be a lying selfish cheater. Its too late for me now but hopefully others will get the message sooner. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF because he certainly won’t!

    • (((ChumpyChumpy)))
      I do not read here very often but your post caught my heart. I am so sorry for all you have been through. I hope things are going better for you now, or soon will be.
      I am a Chump, like you, who did not have CL, CN at DDay time. I did not have 3 children, just 1 3 years old, but I was in first trimester pregnancy. I was so shell shocked. I told no one.
      Pick me danced my feet off, cheater stayed. To my knowledge he did not actually cheat again, but his narcissistic character was never ever easy to live with.
      Again, big hugs to you, be strong. I so hope you have freedom from your cheater now, as much as possible, when there are innocent children involved.

  • I rented inexpensive office space 20 minutes away from home. He did not know anything about it. I transferred all my documents and work materials there (I had worked from home for years.
    This was partly so that he could not damage them or use them to stalk me. But mainly I did it because I was afraid that he would try to ruin my ability to make a living by making scenes in front of my clients, as he had done already at my family and friends’ events and my volunteer activities. So creating a workplace he could not find was an important “duck” to put in the row for me.

  • I moved to Hawaii ahead of my wife, then confronted her with evidence. She didn’t end up joining me, so once we were divorced I was already living my best life.

    Not saying it was painless, but would I recommend moving to Hawaii? Yes.. yes, I would.

  • This is my ‘ducks’ route—yours may vary.

    The only way I could stop my insufferable heart from fighting with the reality my head already knew, was to start working on ducks as a ‘just in case’ measure. I allowed my aching heart that caveat because although we went into RIC mode just after dday, gathering important things and making ‘just in case’ plans is what my head kept telling me to do.

    I also knew that if things DID miraculously change, everything I was doing could be stopped and/or undone with ease.

    1. I gathered proof of the infidelity even though proof wasn’t something I needed anymore on an emotional level.
    I poured through all of our financials and printed off copies of everything.
    I went through and gathered all of our medical, insurances, and vitals like birth certificates, passport etc.
    I established all pertinent info on his 401k, our mortgage, and calculated/gathered everything I could on our marital debt.

    When all of that was done—I got all of it, as well as all small items that were precious to me, out of the house for safe keeping in case things got ugly (I’d heard so many horror stories about this, I figured it was a worthwhile safety measure)

    2. I consulted with an attorney.
    3. I started getting a bunch of small medical and dental work done in case things went south with insurances suddenly (it was his insurance).
    4. I opened my own bank account and started socking away whatever I could.
    5. I got a PO box for mail I didn’t want coming the house (legal, solo financial)
    6. I started changing passwords on essentially everything I didn’t want him using, seeing or accessing.
    7. I had no option or interest in staying in the marital home if push came to shove, so I made a plan about where I’d go. It was across the country, so I invented a believable reason to fly there and get those ducks in place.
    8. I also made a plan (with legal help) about how I would propose a division of assets.
    9. I kept on socking away money, but got creative by also buying prepaid visas and tucking them safely out of the house.

    All said and done, that list took about a year—but by the time I got to #6, it was pretty clear that I had to keep going because the RIC attempt was failing. Call it fight or flight finally kicking in, but it became abundantly clear that my survival depended on it.

    However in the name of ultimate survival, and only because he’d begun feeding off the misery I’d been displaying over the RIC attempt failing, I turned the tables, pretended to be in agreement about divorcing. I adopted a civil, calm and sometimes friendly demeanor around him so he couldn’t feed off me anymore and did not waver with it one iota. I also, about 2 months later, proposed the plan I’d spent the last year working on. I didn’t ever tell him anything about what I’d ACTUALLY been doing, but I had several stages of the plan that were dependent on his actions/reactions.

    He agreed with my first proposal; shutter the business and sell off those assets, sell the house, and split it all evenly. I think he mainly jumped on that one because he expected me to to fight him for more of it. I didn’t because do that because we nearing retirement age and there were much bigger fish to fry later on when we made it all legal.

    It took us another 10 months to get everything done, but because of my demeanor change, he became convinced that I wanted out of the marriage more than he did. And I let him think that because it ended up destabilizing and affecting him FAR more than pretending was me, and that put me into the power position for the remainder of our time in each other’s company.

    We’ve been apart now for almost 4 years. Life for me is much better on the other side.

    But because Tracy asked what we’d NOT do…the only things I would do differently if I could change any of it:

    A. NOT waste time with RIC bullshit. While I’m thankful my head found a way to keep me working on ‘just in case’ duck measures, that’s a year I’d love to have back.

    B. Not limbo under the same roof while tying up loose ends. I thought neither of us had the realistic option to do it differently due to financial obligations, age, and the fact that we were both relocating great distances. But in hindsight, those were obstacles, not roadblocks and there were several better ways we could have handled it.

    C. Vent to others far more than I did. It was incredibly difficult to keep up that friendly and civil façade under the same roof, for so long, when every fiber of my being wanted to keep screaming at his face. I did get to offload some of it safely out of the house, but it was only enough to keep me somewhat sane and resolved to keep doing it.

    What I didn’t know until after we split was the incredible toll all that pretending took on my mental health. I too began to believe that I had come to terms with it and was better off than I was in reality…which wreaked havoc with the sheer amount of anguish and grieving I actually experienced once I was on my own. It was a brand-new thing to wrestle with which shocked my system.
    Had I done a LOT more processing of my real feelings in real time during that limbo, that probably wouldn’t have happened to the degree it did, and it wouldn’t have affected my healing process as much as it inevitably did.

    That said, I AM NOT unhappy with choosing that non-feeding facade route–it literally saved me because of the power shift, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that UNLESS you have a great support system helping you vent and keeping things real in the background.

    As to the choice of duck gathering, I’m not the one who ultimately ended up couch surfing for 2 years due to bad decisions and a lack of planning. It’s embarrassing at any age, but falling that far so near retirement age… ‘Nuff said.

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