Thank you so much for this site. I’m a chump myself, now in a much better place having gotten to Tuesday and meh. It does happen!
Unfortunately, my stepson has turned out to be a FW and I don’t know what to do. Stepson and I aren’t close as his Dad and I got together when he was going off to college. While there he met and married his professed life partner. Dad and I never got to know Wife very well and they soon moved across the country. Wife, who has always had concrete goals and clear life plans, has been the primary breadwinner while stepson pursued part time work and graduate school. He’s about a year away from a highly lucrative profession. Of course they have a child.
Stepson had alluded to some tension but deflected any discussion of personal issues, mostly referring to the stress of “work, school, homeownership, parenting…” Well, it turns out (per him) that a couple of years ago stepson became less enamored with Wife’s dominance (mind you, he chose her for this trait) and instead of being honest began an emotional affair with a colleague. Probably more, but that’s what he admits. Wife stumbles across evidence, he confesses and flees. They are now in the beginning of legal proceedings. While stepson is verbally contrite (he promises to be a better man!), he’s sure that he’s going to be able to be with OW, coparent 50/50, yada yada. Cake!
I sent Wife your website, but beyond that I am at a loss with how to stay supportive without causing more difficulty (D-day is still pretty recent). Dad is beyond disappointed, but doesn’t want to cut off his son. And Dad and I both are trying to figure out how to not lose our already-limited contact with the grandchild over time. Extended family doesn’t know yet why they’ve split up — stepson isn’t close with them (see a pattern here?), but he’s “okay with” Dad and I telling people what he chose. Can’t say I’m thrilled to be his messenger; shouldn’t this “better man” actively own up to his story? And (assuming this happens) how do I manage any events including OW?
Not sure what I’m looking for here exactly — guess I’m wondering how others have navigated being the family of the cheater?
Feeling Betrayed Too
Dear Feeling Betrayed Too,
You don’t get to choose your family. And, as he’s an adult, this clusterfuck is all his. Don’t be the messenger. What does that even look like? A mass mailing? Engraved “Our Son is a Fuckwit” announcements?
Extended family he’s not in touch with probably don’t care why he broke up, so don’t borrow trouble. If anyone close to you asks, you can decide how much you want to share. “We’re very sad and disappointed.” And if you want to be blunt, you could add, “He left Wife for another woman.” It’s a factual statement minus the editorializing.
Dad is beyond disappointed, but doesn’t want to cut off his son.
Of course not. This is his child.
People have asked me what I would do if my son were a cheater, as if I’d make some special exception to all my usual vitriol. My answer is — let him experience the full weight of consequences.
Son made a decision, son has to live with that decision. He’s an adult.
The sane parent doesn’t not clean up the mess, spackle, or enable — as hard as it is, a sane parent lets the natural consequences happen. And hope the kid learns from them. Obviously, this is incredibly difficult because we never want to see our children suffer.
But he’s not suffering. He’s skipping after new pussy!
The consequences will kick in at some point. He’s divorcing with a small child. He just traded Ms. Competent for Ms. Schtups a Married Guy. He traded someone who put him through graduate school — a giver — for a user. Two users together? Not the foundation of happiness.
Maybe the Schmoopies go splat, or maybe you have to spend Thanksgiving with them in perpetuity. And that’s the real shit sandwich, isn’t it? To see your grandchild, you have to hold your nose and deal with them.
Family time often involves some form of nose holding. The drunk uncle and his Qanon conspiracy theories. The insufferable cousin’s golf obsession. A sister’s free-range parenting style. You get to decide how much family you want in your life and if it’s worth the price of admission.
I am at a loss with how to stay supportive without causing more difficulty (D-day is still pretty recent)
I think you stay supportive of Wife by being supportive. This isn’t your fault. We’re so upset with Son. You’re still family.
Just because Son has been distant, doesn’t mean Wife wants distance. She might really appreciate a set of involved grandparents. Send cards and gifts to the grandchild at her address. Keep that door open. Invite her and your grandchild to visits. I hope CN will weigh in with stories of any exceptional in-laws who were kind to them in the divorce. (Sadly, it’s usually the opposite.)
As a former chump, you understand what she’s going through. And that’s a gift. You sent her this site, and I hope she finds comfort here.
Someday she’ll find herself where you are — in a much better place having gotten to Tuesday and meh. It does happen.