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Should I Reach Out to the OW?

cheater manifestoDear Chump Lady,

My ex-husband had a year-long affair while on a military deployment. He came back to our hometown back in July and we started a shared custody arrangement that was going pretty terribly.

He moved the affair partner in a couple of weeks ago (without telling me or the kids). I have never met her, but am torn over whether I should initiate a meeting on neutral ground.

I feel like I should meet the person who my kids are sharing a house with and from what I’ve gathered so far, she is much better at taking care of them than my ex is. I feel like it could do some good to know some things about my kids from a mom-to-mom perspective.

At the same time I don’t want to condone what she did or her role in the end of my marriage. Is the saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” applicable here?

Lisa

****

Dear Lisa,

The OW might be marginally better at adulting than your ex is, but he’s still your kids’ parent, so that’s where your communication needs to be directed.

Not because of any expectation that he’ll do the Right Thing, (“Please remember to bring Bobby’s asthma inhaler…”) but because you’re documenting all this shit for the lawyers.

Dear (Fuckwit),

It has come to my attention that (Shady McSchmoopie) has moved in with you. As per our shared custody arrangement: (I am supposed to be notified about changes to our children’s living situation / there is a court order that paramours are not to be introduced for X months / no sleepovers).

Document, document, document.

He came back to our hometown back in July and we started a shared custody arrangement that was going pretty terribly.

How was it going terribly? Document, document, DOCUMENT.

Was this an informal arrangement? Oh, he’s back and remembers he has children! Or was is it a formal, legal, shared custody agreement? In which case, what are the provisions? Is he supposed to notify you about changes? Do you have rules in there about introductions and sleepovers?

A lot of custody orders have such things, enforcing them is another matter. Being marriage police sucks, being divorce police is worse. However impossible it is to get FWs to obey court orders, you should absolutely document when they are NOT following it.

Why? Because you might have to use this ammunition some day in court. (I’m sorry. I know exactly how much that sucks.) Parenting software can really help here. It’s a running, time-stamped tally of all your co-parenting interactions.

Mr. CL says about documentation and the law, “Documentation is like sex. Even when it’s bad, it’s still pretty good.” Court rulings are based on EVIDENCE. You’re building a case, for the next 18 years, that you are the sane parent. You may never need this evidence, but you want that FW to know you have an arsenal, and you’re not afraid to use it.

Also, time for the caveat — I’m a NOT A LAWYER. I’m a lady with a blog. Please talk to your lawyer about your situation.

What I can tell you, having been through a few custody battles, is that FW parents tend to operate with the same oblivious you’re-not-the-boss-of-me entitlement you were once married to. Let them try it on a judge. That’s always fun. Oh, I signed a legal document? And you’re going to hold me to it? 

But back to your original question about Schmoopie.

Lisa, you’re trying to achieve consensus with fuckwits. Schmoopie doesn’t care about you. She doesn’t care about your children. You are alone in this sane parenting gig.

How do I know this? Because Schmoopie was quite okay to have a year-long affair with a married man with children. Her super specialness trumps your children’s wellbeing.

Oh sure, he probably told her a bunch of lies. That doesn’t change his status, or the fact that she stuck it out through your divorce, or moved to your hometown. She fully consented to enter the fuckwit thunderdome.

She might derive some impression management kibbles from playing the role of Responsible Parent. (Hey! She can pick me dance in a whole new arena!) And she might even have better adulting skills than your ex. Like, she can make a sandwich, or drive a kid to a karate class. For which we are grateful. A competent fuckwit is better an an incompetent fuckwit. But please do not mistake this person for an ally.

She’s a person who quite happily helped break up your marriage. A favor in the ultimate scheme of things, but a blazing red flag in terms of her character.

So, my advice is, treat her like the nobody that she is. Deal with him. Communicate via some in-personal third party software (document, document, document). And leave them to this shitshow.

Her grand romance means now doing all the parenting scut work he’s avoided. Only she doesn’t have the primal bonds of parenthood to get her through vomiting illnesses and science fair poster board runs. She’s doing this as a live-in girlfriend. The bloom will be off the rose soon.

Is the saying “Keep your friends close and your enemies closer” applicable here?

I don’t keep my enemies close. I Chernobyl that shit.

You can’t out manipulate FWs, so don’t even try. Just keep your side of the street clean and steady on with the sane parenting.

And do let your lawyer know about the change to your recent custody agreement.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at info@chumplady.com. Read more about submission guidelines.
    • I have to agree!!!! Your personal life should be filled with people who make it better, not bullshit. If you keep your enemies closer in your personal life, expect your life to be chaotic.

    • The “keep your enemies closer” thing comes from Sun Tzu’s “The Art of War” and was popularized in movies like “The Godfather.” It’s great for arenas that involve backstabbing Byzantine intrigues and blood feuds if you’re into that kind of thing. It can apply to families if you’re a Murdoch (see the series Succession– and look how those kids turn out). Chernobyling (yay, new verb!) is probably better for people who want wholesome, happy, productive lives surrounded by healthy, reciprocal people and to create the healthiest environments for children.

      But a great first step is that Lisa recognizes that she’s dealing with the enemy in the first place. Another thing Sun Tzu wrote was “know your enemy” and don’t let your enemy know you. So here’s something that’s known about APs in a general sense: in studies, witting side pieces– aka, mate poachers– score especially high on psychopathy and narcissism and low on empathy and agreeability (https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S019188691400628X). When it comes to kids’ welfare, it’s probably better to err on the side of statistical caution and consider worst case scenarios. It’s probably safer to assume the AP only means to image manage “good parenting” for the time being to compete and show Lisa up as a “bad parent” in contrast and/or attempt to alienate Lisa’s children from her so that FW can get more custody and won’t have to pay child support so that the AP can get more of FW’s assets. Any contact with the AP is a chance for her to make shit up about the chump. If the AP were to succeed in helping FW gain majority custody, the AP’s good parenting act would likely fly out the window like CL warns.

      If a chump’s lawyer is one of those “children need fathers” saps even in cases of rank abuse who’s moving the victim away from holding onto majority custody, it’s probably better to get a different lawyer, one who understands abuse dynamics. Cheating is abuse; cheaters are abusers. Full stop. Affair partners are abusers. Affairs are progressively viewed as an aspect of coercive control and part and parcel of intimate partner abuse (https://www.joplinlawyers.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2021/07/FINAL-COPY-Infidelity-as-a-Consideration-in-Domestic-Abuse-and-Coercive-Control.pdf). Those aren’t idiosyncratic personality traits but global ones affecting every aspect of someone’s character. If good parenting involves integrity, cheaters are toxic parents. CL’s advice is solid and it’s warranted to go for as much custody as the law allows given what is known of the enemy. If a chump can’t fully succeed in this, selectively apply a bit of Sun Tzu and don’t let your enemy study you for weakness and reduce contact to bare minimum.

  • I have been in many courtrooms and had to give testimony. No feelings, ideas etc. You need to leave out anything except facts. Example: FW was to have child from A to B. I was not notified of any change but he did not show up. Nothing but facts. Even phone calls.

  • It’ll be 7 years this Christmas since I found out about the affair. I’ve never met the new wife appliance and I don’t want to. They are married and have a child together. I still don’t want to meet her. My kids never stay over – very occasionally they do. My kids rarely want to go. I send them, all the same.

    Ex doesn’t really attend any school-related stuff, so I’m pretty safe from her. I think she tried to collect my daughter from after school club once (I was away for work) and they wouldn’t let my daughter leave as she wasn’t on the list of those that collect her. Ex decided to make a complaint against the teacher that wouldn’t let my daughter leave, so I hear.

    There was one occasion when the new wife appliance collected my daughter from the house, but she hid from sight as I’m clearly an ogre. I’m very glad she did stay out of my way, but it was interesting that she decided to hide from me – behind a post box – no less. It was amusing.

    • Yeah. Maybe she thinks you’re an “ogre” because of FW’s lies. But I wonder if there’s a chance that she feels some shame.

      Perhaps this is me projecting how I think APs SHOULD feel. FW’s too, of course.

      • I’d like to think it was shame too, but I’m not so sure. Only because, in the early days after we split. I pulled up at a petrol/gas station and looked to my right and I could see someone waving at me in the back of the car. It was my son. He was in the back of the car with my ex. I waved back.

        Wife appliance was filling up her car, as was I. My daughter was in her car seat in the front seat. Wife appliance knew it was me as she spent her whole time with her back to me, head looking at the floor. Some element of shame, sure.

        But then she got back in the car and she was pulling faces at my daughter and laughing. Cute family, you’d think. It broke my heart. It was the longest time watching her with my infant daughter. If there was any element of shame, she’d have filled up, got in the car and driven off as fast as she could, but she didn’t. It was like she was rubbing my face in it or maybe it was just all too raw for me at the time. I dunno.

        If I saw the same situation now, I’d think differently. It was the early days. My daughter had just started going to my ex’s house. I had stipulated that she could not go to their house until she was 12 months old.

        • In many states in the U.S. it’s illegal to put an infant car seat in the front seat. And even if not illegal it’s unsafe and unwise. I would have whipped out my camera and documented the situation.

        • Chumpylou–

          Imagine another scenario in which the dissolution of your marriage had been honorable and that FW had eventually married someone he dated long after the ink on the divorce papers were dry. Then imagine wife #2 in the same situation: seeing you seeing her in public while she was with your kids. Wouldn’t the “Look at me being so motherly with your children– more motherly than you!” display simply look like gratuitous cruelty? But under the actual circumstances, it looks not only cruel but compensatory.

          I suspect you’re right the AP felt social shame when seeing you and the fake display with your daughter was meant to counter the impression she guessed that you and a lot of people had of her as a calculating homewrecking creep. The fact she knew she was probably being watched and the nature of the display tells you exactly where she feels most vulnerable to judgment: as someone who’s toxic to children. If the display aped “happiness” and “warmth” it was meant to counter the fear of being exposed as glum and cold. It’s not much of a mystery why she might feel the need to counter: people who participate in affairs with others who have minor children are people who put children’s welfare very low on their priorities, otherwise they would never get involved. And the relationships that result from poaching tend to be pretty glum according to research.

          I risk over explaining this because if you still feel in any way bad about the encounter you endured, a little perspective shift might not hurt. I’ve seen shitheads put on displays like this when they felt in danger of being exposed and socially shamed. For instance, I saw a former colleague who’d gotten fired for harassing me do this. This was pre-#MeToo and it was a rare coup in that horrible, rapey industry that any perpetrator would suffer consequences. I don’t even think it was because the owner of the company was particularly evolved. It was the perp who initially approached the owner in order to take my position but the owner had hand-picked me, didn’t like his decisions questioned and quickly figured out what the real story was. Anyway, I later saw the perp in some public place with a woman and as soon as he saw me, he went into some bizarre cheerful antics and began hugging and dancing with the woman. I guessed he’d gotten pretty depressed after getting fired, felt like he’d been exposed as a misogynist (which he was) and so the cheerful display was meant to say, “I’m not depressed, you can’t get me down! And women love me!” It didn’t mean he felt guilty about what he’d done but just that he felt in danger of being exposed for it. Except the WTF look on the woman’s face and the way she stiffened up said it all. It was transparent and weird and my heart rate didn’t even speed up while watching this.

          It was kind of a revelation to me to understand that shame isn’t the same as guilt. As social scientists put it, guilt comes from a genuine sense of having done wrong while shame depends on social context, the sense of being subjected to judgment and, most importantly, in danger of social consequences. Even serial killers hate being stigmatized and have elaborate strategies and expend great energy to avoid it even if they’re devoid of actual empathy or guilt over their crimes. Shame can be based on truth or lies. For instance, it would feel equally shaming and endangering to be accused of embezzling whether the charges were true or not. You can feel shame even in the absence of any guilt whether the absence of guilt was from lack of any culpability or because you’re incapable of feeling guilt for the bad things you do.

          In any case, I’ve seen people awkwardly faking being light of heart, warm, victorious, whatever to cover discomfort and to appear “indomitable” and “unperturbed” and to make themselves appear to be more difficult targets for social judgment because I think it’s a specific response to fear of social castigation. It’s what seventh grade boys do after getting shamefully dumped by a cheerleader. Again, it doesn’t really matter if the castigation is based on truth and was well-earned (as it was of the AP in your situation– she was poacher and creep who knowingly wrecks families) or lies (the person wrongly accused of embezzling). Except the person charged with lies might be less likely to go into awkward compensating antics. She may feel no guilt for being an asshole but, again, even psychopaths abhor social shaming. She just gave herself away. Her greatest fear is not that you’re an ogre but that you are not and she’ll (rightfully) be exposed as being one herself.

          • Hell of a Chump – I’m sorry you had to go through that extremely stressful time with the harassment. I’m glad he got fired. The entitlement in some people is un-real.

            Thank you for replying – it is an idea that had crossed my mind – well, my sister offered this as a suggestion at the time. I was just too upset at the time to listen to anyone.

            My daughter is 6 now and so the wound has healed ever so slightly. My son is 13.

            I do wonder if wife appliance has a fresh perspective on all this now that she has a daughter of her own. I often wondered if my ex was a catch to her as she was desperate for a family of her own and one way to get one would be to poach another, but you get into all kinds of rumination when you’re suffering trauma, which serves no purpose. They’re both personality disordered. That’s all I need to know.

            The kids rarely stay over with them both and they spend 12 hours a week over there. More in the school holidays, as they’re teachers and have the time to watch them while I work and it saves me childcare, but even then it’s a maximum of 24 hours a week. My son is older now and so he decides when he wants to go – which isn’t often.

        • The AP hides not from shame, but she does know she has wronged you, so she assumes you might want to get revenge. She knows it’s what she would do if somebody “stole” her FW. She has an awareness of the wrongness of her actions. They all do. Naturally they want to commit these wrongs anyway and still come out of it unscathed. Whereas we avoid trouble by not causing it, their goal is to cause it and somehow not have it blow back on them. They are very much like criminals in that way. Getting away with their dirty deeds is as enjoyable for them as doing the deeds, even more so in many cases.

        • (((ChumpyLou)))
          Fellow Chumps know how you felt when this happened to you.
          I just want to say how very very sorry I am.
          ( my minds eye saw the scenario, and it was very painful to me, my heart aches for you. I understand your pain at that time, & still )????

      • I do think we sometimes project shame feelings on to schmoops or even FW simply because we would be ashamed if we behaved the way they did.

        I also think sometimes thought rare, they do know just what piles of shit they are and they bulldoze through like a bull in a china shop hoping no one else will notice or find out.

        Self preservation.

        I did it by holding my head high and trying not to think of the humiliation of my husband preferring the town whore to me. They do it because they are the culprits.

        Only difference is in time the shame and shit stink lifts from me because it really isn’t on me, but the stink clings to their shoes forever, no matter how many times they try to throw those shoes through the laundry.

      • I’ve never seen AP – Dday was 8 years ago. I doubt she was too “scared” to show her face the few times X picked up kid. She’s a brazen mate poacher. Our kids refuse to be anywhere she is based on her atrocious behavior (threatening to call cops on my son and falsely allege DV, screaming at my daughters, drunken/drugged falls and slurring/knock down drag out fights with X and threats to slit his throat in his sleep with my daughter listening….kids who are now grown will drive away from X’s if she shows up. I trust they both suck.

  • Lisa, CL is right on the money here. This is a great opportunity to document everything. Go with email or the parenting app. Those should be the only means of communicating with your ex. Send everything to the lawyers. Your ex and Schmoops are not your friends. Remember, she won the prize! Don’t engage with her or that shit will bounce right back at you through his lawyer. You are not going to play into his triangulation or the pick me dance where he uses the kids to keep you dancing. Nope. You are 110% business. He fails at his dad job, you let the lawyers know. Don’t answer to Schmoopie either. She is not the parent. This is strictly between you and the FW.
    This won’t be fun and all of us know how tempting it is to engage with Schmoopie but just don’t do it. Be the sane parent. Let him take his consequences from the court. He made his choice. She has got the prize and now they need to deal with consequences. Sure, you will eat shit sandwiches, but you will have to do that to be the sane parent.

  • CL is right-on where she advises you, “You’re trying to achieve consensus with a fuckwit. Schmoopie doesn’t care about you. She doesn’t care about your children. You are alone in this sane parenting gig.”

    Turn your focus to developing a care plan that best represents your children’s needs. The stable and predictable home of safety and concern for their welfare will now be with you as their primary parent. Cheater and Schmoopie will do just enough to look good and get by. Deal direct with Cheater with regard to court ordered compliance and the legitimate needs of the children. Ignore and minimize interest in the new lovebirds beyond oversight of their parenting obligations.

  • There are some religions who believe that we are assigned a finite number of breaths at birth.

    In case this is true, it’s a daily practice to spend my breaths on people and situations where they will have actual power, as opposed to being completely wasted.

    I keep a notebook and document. I save pertinent emails. And I spend my breaths on my lawyer. I don’t even talk to Traitor Ex anymore if he steps out of line. I don’t give him one word, one breath.

    That got his attention.

    If either of them respected what you said, you would not be here

    • PS

      I talked to him for decades. Look where it got me.

      It was extremely extremely extremely gratifying to literally stop talking to him at the point of conflict onset and email my lawyer instead. Letting my lawyer respond to him and stand up for me shifted the power dynamic and let him know we were in serious Grownup World now, where his power-tripping would not work.

      • Yes, I found this to be extremely empowering as well. It was well worth the extra $$ for the lawyer’s time. It really put x in line because he realize that if I ran everything through my lawyer, he had to do the same, thus increasing his own legal bills, which really pissed him off and shut him up.

        That’s when he had to turn off the manipulation spigot, at least with regard to me. No doubt it’s open to full blast again in his relationship with AP-now-wife and others in his orbit. That’s how he rolls.

      • If this is helpful….

        If I have a problem with a neighbor who is renting, and I want action, I speak to the landlord, not the tenant.

        If someone in the neighborhood is having a loud party in the middle of the night, I call the police to handle it.

        If someone is abusing their children or their animals, I call the appropriate authorities.

        I am not the appropriate authority.

        When dealing with Traitor Ex, I am no longer the messenger. He didn’t respect me when I was the messenger.

        Your lawyer is the appropriate authority, and the messenger, if you need assistance with a lying cheating stealing ex and their side piece continuing to disrespect you and your children.

        Which I would plan on.

        • …..so I wouldn’t even think of talking to a side piece if she was living with Traitor Ex and Little Hammer was spending time with them. My communication tree would be in the following order:

          1) Traitor Ex

          2) lawyer

          She has never lived with her dad and we don’t know if the Craigslist cockroach is still in orbit. But I did come close to qualifying for arrest a
          few years ago when he mentioned that “we had discussed” something regarding the well-being of Little Hammer, meaning him and the side piece. I did tell him that he and I are the parents, the cockroach has proven that she cares nothing about the well-being of Little Hammer, and as a side piece she is not qualified to participate in discussions about the well-being of children.

          It’s a VERY loaded situation, to be sure. ????

      • Velvet: You are so right! Nothing good can come of allowing Cheaters to further triangulate a Chump once they destroy the family. Cut them off hard and swiftly. Engage only where responsibility and obligation are court mandated. The sooner they discover you’ve left the team and will use legal recourse to accomplish objectives, they’ll fade away and often back away from the children, too.

        Don’t wait years to disengage – shut them out, so you can rebuild the life of yourself and children on solid ground.

      • it’s pointless to communicate with the X. my emails are short and direct and informational. this irritates him and he says i’m being controlling. i ignore him most of the time, but i did once say, “has it ever occurred to you that communicating with you is a waste of my time?”

        because it is. and i’ve already wasted 30+ years on the guy. no more.

        • “my emails are short and direct and informational. this irritates him and he says i’m being controlling.”

          Isn’t it funny how these controlling people accuse us of being controlling when we go grey rock or no contact? What they really mean in these situations is that they can no longer control US.

          #DARVO

        • Yes, I never said that, but I sure thought it. Why couldn’t he move on?

          My ex was all about the long, blaming emails in closeout. I’d dig through to find what I truly had to respond to, compose a response, and then do a quick phone call with my attorney to check. After a while, he said I was a pro and didn’t need to call him unless there was legal content that I was nervous about.

          I got somewhat nervous when my ex’s attorney died of COVID, and my ex waged some bogus self-lawyering, but I got through those with only a few quick sanity checks with my attorney. I handled the last one myself because my attorney had predicted it and outlined exactly what to do in a previous phone call. Technically, my file is closed now, but in the goodbye phone call, my attorney of course said, “These types don’t go down easy. You know that I’m always just an email away…”

      • PPS

        I never left Little Hammer in the care of anyone other Traitor Ex until she was almost four years old.
        When that started, I got into the habit of asking her if anything happened that made her feel unsafe or uncomfortable, or if anything happened that hurt her.

        I think it’s an important running conversation with littles.

        In my case, I found out she had been left at six years old in a movie theatre with her friend, also six, by the friend’s mother who went off to drink/do God knows what. (Google “drunk Smurf mom”. This is the friend’s mother. I did not learn about notorious Drunk Smurf Mom until after this incident.)

        It’s bad enough to have to send a child off to be in the care of a parent without integrity or concern for others. Multiply that shit sandwich times infinity when a self-centered untrustworthy side piece becomes a caregiver. Staying aware of what’s going on is essential. And if my child is unsafe, uncomfortable, or has been hurt or in negligent care that is my business. And potentially my lawyer’s, depending on the facts.

        If you hear something alarming, first verify with the ex, if you can, and document before going to the lawyer.

        • Wow, quite a story of the “drunk Smurf mom.”
          Did she leave the six year olds alone in the theater after the Smurf incident?
          She’s a nurse and health coach?
          Some people have no shame.

          • Yes. The incident that made the.news happened when her daughter was four.

            Over Christmas break when my daughter was in first grade, she was in the bathtub and randomly yelled out, “So and So has to go live with her dad because her mom has a problem with alcohol!”

            Holy crap. It was much later that I learned she has left the girls alone at the movies when they were six, and about her true identity as Drunk Smurf Mom.

  • Trust me, don’t give her any of your time or attention. You only deal with him, and only when you have to. The novelty will wear off and she’ll be bothered af as to why she’s never recognized, let her be. You’re to busy being the sane parent to even worry about it. Document everything, communicate with him only and she’ll fall into whatever her role ends up being but it’ll never be your friend or ally.

  • My ex-husband’s affair partner got upgraded to girlfriend the day after I moved out of the marital home. She did everything within her power to ingratiate herself to my three teenage kids (letting the boys drive her luxury car, taking my daughter on shopping sprees etc.). The kids happily extracted the value that was on offer (as teens do) but never bonded with her in any meaningful way.
    As for me, I never spoke to her, communicated with her, or even looked at her. When I had to address inappropriate things the did to/for/with my then-13-year-old daughter, I directed my communications to my ex. AP responded with a text message apology, which I never acknowledged. A couple of years later, she was out of the picture.
    APs are largely irrelevant and should be treated accordingly. Any interaction we have with them just provides kibbles for the FW anyway.

    • “APs are largely irrelevant and should be treated accordingly. “

      You handled that perfectly, WAlkaway. I especially like that you didn’t respond to her “apology” text.
      The Mate Poacher told my X
      6 weeks into their moving in together that she wanted to reach out to me and apologize.
      I can not even spell some of the words that came out of my mouth at that suggestion!
      But basically it boiled down to :
      I NEVER want to hear her voice, read a text from her or acknowledge her in ANYWAY.
      I actually frightened X I believe, and I have ignored her existence on this planet ever since.

      • I should acknowledge that our children were raised and out on their own by then.
        I really feel for all of you that have to share parenting and are basically forced to have these FW’s in your lives, and your children’s lives.
        I actually teared up – reading up above, the woman who saw her two kids in the car at the gas station with the OW and her X – and the OW making cutesie faces to her baby!
        That is heartbreaking and cruel and I am so sorry. ????

    • Exactly!

      My then 18 year old son gave me that advice during the divorce. “She’s beneath you. You never acknowledge her. You never speak to. You treat her like she’s dead”.

      I’ve followed that mantra (with his voice in my head) since 2017. He’s spot on. Best advice I received during this whole process, maybe my entire life.

  • CL is right on. My thought in addition is: If I met you and were nice to you etc, and I had had a one-year affair with a married father and I acted all nice and proper and concerned about anything, would you think I was being honest with you? Well, if I had an affair with someone who is married, has kids, I am a POS and worse. Nice people do not husband-father poach! Smart people are interested when they are partner shopping about whether the person they are about to get involved with is SINGLE and available, etc. I do not respect people who have affairs with married men and especially with a married father. I would hate it if my kids had to interact with someone I did not respect or trust, etc. But I am glad the poacher (if she has to be there) is better with the kids than your POS X is. Also before long your X will be doing the same thing to her that he did to you. Document for legal reasons! Sorry you are in this situation.

  • Ex’s new Wifey/Emotional AP is the more hands-on parent. I don’t think I even saw my ex at our daughter’s soccer game yesterday. Daughter’s new teacher also sent a contact form home last week, wanting e-mails & phone numbers for parents in case she needs to get in touch. I noticed they put down wifey’s email & phone number down instead of my ex’s. Took a photo of that BS and saved it. I’m civil when we have to interact, but I insist on directing all my contact to FW ex, although I’m sure he’d love it if I saved him the trouble and dealt directly w/the new appliance.

  • My custody case for my grandson took five years. I documented everything by emailing myself, so it was date-stamped and also easy to search. For example, when I searched “eye” in emails I sent, there were almost two dozen examples of black eyes and other eye injuries, and since they were dated I could search my photos to see if there was accompanying visual proof.

    I fought for custody twice, first from the parents as a grandparent Intervenor to their divorce, and then from my ex when we divorced. Both times, the deciding factors were having the documentation, the testimony of grandson’s therapists and teachers, and hiring good Parental Responsibilities Evaluators who were able to see through BS. Good child therapists know who are good PREs and who are not. Attorneys also have a good idea about who favors the kids and who is swayed by the party who seeks their help. In the first case, grandson’s parents were allowed to counter with their own PRE, at their own expense. The Judge’s ruling stated clearly that that second PRE was completely swayed by who was paying for his services.

    BTW, my ex was duped by an online romance scam and catfisher. He initially claimed I kicked him out because I was irrationally jealous of his financial advice to an online colleague, but a few months later, I started showing some key people the emails proving his online affair and financial abuse. It seems he got desperate to find a new partner. He introduced one woman he dated as his “life partner,” and when that ended, he love-bombed another woman. After their third date, he told grandson he was going to marry her, then a day later, introduced grandson to her by phone as his “new mom.” Grandson told me she said they were going to be a happy family together. Two days later, she dumped my ex. I put all of this in my report to the PRE. I don’t know if he asked grandson about it or not, but ex clearly violated our state’s guidance about introducing new partners, which was laid out in classes we were required to take.

    Sending your vulnerable children off to a total stranger is awful and agonizing, particularly when you know about their poor ethics regarding cheating. I’m so fortunate to have sole custody, and to have had the money for two long custody cases.

  • Short answer to the question: No. Never.

    GF#3/Wifetress is, I suspect, a better adult and parent than FW is. I am grateful that my children come back home from weekend visits happy and healthy. It could be so much worse, so, on that account, I am grateful that my children’s stepmom is alright on that account.

    She’s still a woman that encouraged a married man with babies back at home to sneak out and “come in through the side door where no one will see you” several times a week. Meet her on neutral ground so we can discuss parenting? How could I ever believe a word that would come out of her mouth? She and I could shake hands while she promises to give my kids their morning vitimans each day that she’s parenting them and then could I really be surprised to find out that she never did? No, if I believe any word that comes out of FW or the AP’s mouth then you should just line up all the other folk who have a bridge to sell me.

    In short, these are folks who do not honor treaties, so why make another treaty with them?

    Just deal with the FW. The AP has no legal obligation to your kids and could stay in their lives forever or dissapear into smoke. The FW, however, does have the legal obligation, so he’s the one to do all grey rock contracting with. Even if she is better at adulting than he is.

    It was a haaaaard lesson to learn but I learned that my babies were going to have to navigate their relationship with Wifetress without me. They would have to figure that sh*t out in their own, which broke my heart because they were so little when it all started. My kids are teens now and I have remained, for years, the stable, sane, and, yes, boring parent. I stepped back and didn’t interfere with FW and Wifetress’s time with the kids and I didn’t make any treaties with them. It was on the whether or not they fumbled the ball and, fortunately, they haven’t. My kids relationships with both of them is pretty good and I’m grateful that my children have navigated the waters and have a good relationship with their father and stepmother. (But they have reported on many occasions that they neeever would ever want to live with either of them.)

    That world and those relationships belong to my children and not to me. I do not reach out. I do not engage. I do not wish them ill.

    • I agree that’s the most reasonable approach to have, Fourleaf.
      I, too, as hurt as I am by all of this, do not wish anyone any harm. I stay out of that situation and let my adult kids establish their own relationships with their father and his wifestress.
      I won’t sugarcoat any of it if asked directly about his shenanigans, but we rarely will discuss any of it.
      They all do realize he’s a weak, damaged man, but they don’t want to push him completely out of their lives, so they try to work out a little patch of solid ground they can stand on to deal with him.
      I let them have that space without interference, as difficult and hurtful as it is to do that. Their father is barely interested in their lives anyway, so it’s not been much of an issue.
      It will always be a really sad situation to me, that just can’t be fully grasped, but it’s not within my control to change anyone else, nor do I want to.
      I just try to let it be and be the solid and sane person for my family. A lonely position to hold, but absolutely the right choice.
      I don’t think bitterness and hate can bring any good to anyone’s life, nor has it ever done that.
      I don’t forgive him for what he’s done to us, but I do accept that it happened.
      I will struggle when I have to see either one of them at any of my childrens’ life events that will inevitably come up, but I’ll get through it all somehow when I have to. I’ve never met the wifestress or even seen what she looks like and don’t have any desire to do so.
      I didn’t do anything wrong and I’m a good person and the people that care about me and love me know that. I’ll stand in my truth and trust it to protect me.
      What happens in his world, I want no part of.

  • This sounds like my story. Military ex cheats, he moves in the affair, etc. etc.

    This article is spot on. At first the affair pretended to care about my kids to make herself look good. Still had very little contact with her. Always went through the ex. As time went on her true colors of verbal and physical abuse came out. I can’t preach enough to document document document. My kids are almost grown now but the last few years have been nothing but court battles and visitation hearings. Our Family Wizard parenting app has been a blessing showing that he isn’t following court orders and doesn’t care about his kids.

    It suck to be the divorce police, trust me! But you will thank yourself for it later and maybe your ex will realize you are not fucking around (wishful thinking). Hold him accountable for everything is all i can say. Don’t make friends with her, its not your place.

  • I found messages between fucktardress and fw during their 3 year affair discussing her bizarre plans of trips away and other ways to woo the teen children; their life plans looked perfect on paper and I was the only “snafu”. My children were the ones to “uncover the affair” and are not easily “bought”. I really think AP/whores are delusional beyond belief – they lack of accountability to the damage they have done is beyond reproach. I am learning to leave them out of the equation…karma will deal with them. Communicate only with FW, tirelessly document everything and be the sane, loving, present parent that you likely always were. Fucktards lack integrity (parasitical opportunists of the lowest self-esteem); my standards are too high to have/want to have anything to do with their circus of morally vapid freaks.

    • “…their life plans looked perfect on paper”

      Honestly, it’s amazing to me how the FW and AP truly deceive themselves into thinking that all will be well post D-Day. They drink each other’s Koolaid. “We’re in love. Everyone will be happy for us. Oh, sure the chump will be pissed, but that’s only one person. No big loss.”

      They feel entitled to everything, including other people’s affection. And when they don’t get it, they feel punished and pity themselves. Heck, my x felt entitled to contact with me after D-Day, writing that he has “an emotional connection.” ???? #allabouthim #allabouthisneeds

      p.s. Love your handle. That was one of my favorite lines in LAC;GAL.

      • Tbh I cannot wait to become That’sMsChumpToYou…it’s a little slap to the Fucktardress that until the fat lady sings (comments on my weight were common in their little love chats to each other… WTF…get a life) in the family court Thunderdome, I’m still – unfortunately – Mrs. FW.

    • My own relief at escaping the fate of having an AP involved in child-rearing makes me feel all the more pain for chumped parents who are forced to accept an AP in their children’s lives. It’s not exaggerating that it feels fundamentally dangerous.

      It’s kind of hard for an AP who was grubbing marital assets and kids’ college funds from a married FW with minor kids to turn it around and claim they prioritize the same children’s welfare. The money trail in my situation was damning as were the emails and texts wheedling for expensive crap while the kids went without. The secret affair credit card charges also showed the AP and FW were driving on the freeway to and from binge drinking sessions, meaning someone was behind the wheel drunk, mostly the AP. FW paid for everything and there were no Uber rides documented for most of the bar hops.

      Unfortunately for the cheaters, bars and restaurants keep itemized receipts for up to five years. I knew FW wasn’t drinking gallons of sugary cocktails and FW had admitted the AP did almost all the driving so FW’s car wouldn’t be recognized. My lawyer said that had FW not immediately dumped the AP after D-Day, it wouldn’t have taken much effort to bar the AP from contact with the kids. At that moment I let out such a huge sigh of shaking relief that I realized that one of the really traumatic part of affairs is not only the discovery that your partner is a terrible parent but that the danger is doubled or quadrupled when someone low enough to help wreck a family will be around children who they *don’t even have blood ties to.* I think guarding against this is hardwired in our DNA.

  • Treat schmoopie like persona non grata. She’s a nobody, just another adult who happens to reside with your ex. Same as if your ex had a random roommate, she has no authority over or responsibility to your kids. She’s not a babysitter you chose who needs a rundown on your routine before you leave. All communication about the kids goes to your ex, and it’s up to him what information or chores he wants to pass on (or pass off!) to any other adult who lives in his home.

    They could even break up after discovering that living together is not nearly as fun as having an affair. Your ex could end up with a series of overlapping girlfriends, who knows? You are not going to take each one aside and teach her your children’s quirks.

    I always just told my kids to be respectful to any adult, and to treat schmoopie like they were a guest in her home, and said that I hoped she was nice to them.

    How you proceed probably depends a lot on the ages of the children, and how eager schmoopie is to grab that unearned stepmom role.

    • “They could even break up after discovering that living together is not nearly as fun as having an affair. Your ex could end up with a series of overlapping girlfriends, who knows? You are not going to take each one aside and teach her your children’s quirks.”

      Yup. Even after a 4 year affair, once AP and FW moved in together, she lasted A MONTH. The problem often takes care of itself. I have no doubt that if FW had lived, there would shortly have been another OW in the home (mostly because he needed someone to pay half the rent).

  • The only thing I would like to add to CL’s advice is that IF the relationship lasts, the OW/OM will be in the picture long past the kiddo’s reaching maturity. I actually had to explain to my 35-year-old son that I was not friends with his “step-mother”, and his father’s death did not change that. He was upset that I would not invite her to MY HOME for a small gathering of friends and family after his dad’s funeral. She did not offer a gathering, so I did. These folks were not the ones who hurt me. He said, “But she’s all alone.” I said, that was her choice. I would not have attended an event at her home. I did attend the funeral, for my sons. I did provide beds and food for my sons. I did not attend the funeral of the Last Lovebomber. We were divorced after a short marriage and had no children.

    Social situations are always awkward, but you really have no relationship with the schmoops. Personally, you can hope for the best, and be prepared for the worst. It would have been hard for anyone to have less parenting skills than my son’s dad. I was always a single mom, even when married.

    • Agreed.

      I was fortunate that I moved out of state due to my job and fw and whore eventually fled the state when they burned all their bridges with our son. Son kept in touch as he could, but my daughter in law never spoke to them again. FW died a couple years later. FW flew to FL from Indy to attend a private service. Daughter in law stayed home. I think she did go to FL to see them one more time, and they pissed her off again.

      Remind me to never get on DILs bad side. Just kidding, I totally get where she is coming from. She was absolutely fine with my son doing what he had to do, but she was out.

      I have known, and been friends with my daughter in law for about thirty years and I have never had any issues with her. In fact I am the only one she would trust to care for the kids when they went on any trips. So I have no issue laying the responsibility at the feet of FW and whore.

  • Isn’t it crazy how cheaters will foist their own children on the OW as a glorified babysitter, and OW will take this in stride like it’s normal and not the shocking entitlement it is?

    Unbelievable. Cheaters are such shameless parasites.

    • Yes , this behavior is shockingly parasitic and shockingly entitled. It’s sad that anyone accepts it.

      OP should be aware that at some point schmoops is likely to tire of her new role as guardian of another woman’s genetic material. Especially when/if FW and schmoops bring their own little bundle of joy into the mix, OP’s kids are likely to increasingly be offered the short end of the stick.

    • Because the OW is now the wife appliance & totally expected to do it. Of course, the OW is doing the grateful-thank-gawd-you-picked-me-dance! & that’s why she accepts the appliance role. She’s been conned & is now a willing sucker.

  • OP: You owe this homewrecker nothing but scorn and derision Please do not give a second’s credence to the thought that her skill in parenting your children can ever match for yours. Inasmuch as she destroyed their home, they’ll almost certainly end up hating her guts no matter what you do.

    How sad that we live in a world where this has to be pointed out.

  • “I feel like it could do some good to know some things about my kids from a mom-to-mom perspective.”

    I would like to point out that it should read more like “mom-to-X’s mistress”, because that’s the reality. And when it’s written that way, just how off the concept of being buddy-buddy with her becomes more apparent. I fully agree with CL and others that your only obligation is to communicate with your kids’ dad, and you shouldn’t waste any energy at all on the home-wrecking mistress.

  • While it’s perfectly natural to be curious about the OW and to want to make sure that she’s a positive influence on the kids, you do not have any real control over who your ex spends time with or who he brings around them. That’s why getting to know her and absorbing all the details is ultimately a waste of time and a form of self-torture. You have to take care of your mental health first and part of that is (1) letting go of the idea of control in the situation, and (2) the idea that your opinion of her would hold water with anyone. You could like her and it won’t matter. You could hate her and it won’t change anything.

    You can’t control what happens in your ex’s life or home now. You have to trust that he is with a high quality person (hilarious, I know) who will at best treat the kids well. It begins and ends there. You are responsible for co-parenting with him, not her. She is a supporting character in this family’s life, nothing more.

  • +1 for everything said above. Also, just practically speaking, this lady may be one in a string of women your ex parades around your children like their “new mommy.” Ask me how I know. It’s not worth your time given that she’ll likely be replaced in the near future.

    Your best bet is to spend your time training your children to withstand the chaos that their father will introduce into their lives and to recognize toxic and abusive behavior when they see it…and call it out and reject it outright. This is long-haul, painful work. It’s another shit sandwich of having kids with a fuck wit. And it’s a shitty burden for them to bare…but nevertheless, they need to know.

    The day the light bulb went off in my daughter’s head about her dad, her life got much better. I mean, it introduced an entire different round of other issues (like, why is my dad like this, why is he such a selfish jerk? will I be like this too?), but it completely cleared up any idea that it was her fault or that she can change it or control it. It also released her from any misplaced sense she had the she needed to make him happy.

    I view narcs like addicts. Al Anon teaches us that we did NOT cause their shortcomings, we CANNOT fix them, and we CANNOT control them. I work everyday to instill these lessons in my kid. It sucks but it is what it is.

  • And this is why, as soon as I found out about his affair, I went straight into divorce and full custody mode. Not only because I was, by then, exhausted to be the only one putting the kids needs first , while he kept telling me that they will be okay (no, they need their nap first. No, they can’t walk in the mud. No, we go on vacation another year, I don’t want the kids to be stuck in a car for 9hrs and then be stuck in an airbnb while your mom and you visit the French Quarters. No, we need to turn back, we forgot their water. No, we need a pool cover, not just alarms for $40). On and on and on.

    I also have the dubious “honor” of having met the OW and her kids. The 2 fuckwits had arranged to meet at an aquarium on a late Sunday morning, so they could play happy blended family/ introduce the kids together. Just another step towards their insta family. Obviously it wasn’t the version I was given. We were going to meet another family – the coworker worked in the same company as my husband, kids the same age, all kosher. Until my husband proposed to me, before we left, that maybe I should relax and stay home, I was with the kids the whole week anyway, I looked tired, nice guy and all, who would look after the kids to give me a break. Since I hardly saw my husband, I still went. She arrived after us, sans husband. My husband followed her like a dog, she kept whispering to him, ignoring me unless she could brag about how much she LOVED working, as an engineer, like my husband, vs me and my pesky diaper changing – story time- nap time schedule.

    Well, I just thought something was not right, so I literally pulled away and started observing them. But I would never have imagined that he could pull some nasty shit like this, to my face. So I kept observing and saw OW in full management impression with MY OWN KIDS, like giving them food to feed the fish (I told her one time was enough; letting her kids touch my baby’s face (so I had to redirect her kids to touching the hands instead), bobbing her head when I told her kids the baby just turned 1 and then she took a picture of all the kids. Which was even more bizarre (on my end) since we were not going to meet her again. She also invited “us” to go to the restaurant (which was pre planned), which my husband relayed to me (they were whispering to each other at times), which I turned down, because I was done with their weirdo behavior. I told my husband later if he had seen her again at work (no) because it looked like they were having an affair. OF COURSE NOT. WHO DO YOU THINK I AM. Well, now I can say, you’re a guy who bonks married women.

    Anyway. That was the end of it. My husband’s idea of what a nice person is, is (cough cough) not the same as me. My kids could have had a massive headfuck that day, had I not been around. To see daddy and a stranger being all lovey dovey, with no restrain, like at work, while mommy was home. And why I asked for full custody.

    The OW in my case was/is vile. She didn’t care about my kids, she didn’t care about her kids. Just abhorrent people. I certainly wouldn’t see her as an ally.

    Best luck to you.

    • But I would never have imagined that he could pull some nasty shit like this, to my face.”

      It6 still amazes me at the vile shit these fw/whores will do.

      FW brought his whore right to my house to introduce her to me (she was his direct report). It was one of the first red flags I noticed. She was sitting on the couch, and I was in a chair with him across the room from me. I was just being friendly (she was kind of backward-ish). Anyway I mentioned that we had gone on an anniversary weekend and fw had booked the honeymoon suite as a surprise for me. It was kind of a funny story, so I figured it was safe. She sat there and her head was turned toward me, but her eyes looked weird, then I glanced at fw and his eyes were locked on her, and he looked scared shitless. My brain said roh oh, but my heart calmed it and said naaaa, first of all she is not attractive, and second he wouldn’t bring her in his house if he was doing that. (spackle, whitewash).

      That was in mid July, he walked out New Years Day. By then of course I knew something was going on, but I still didn’t know who.

  • I have met, and on occasion, communicated with some of my ex’s partners, but not the ones he had affairs with. They are long gone now and I have no issue with any of the partners since, so it can be good to know them a little. But the affair partners themselves? Not even with a 10 foot bargepole.

  • I replied back to the OW once very business-like & neutral & she came back nastyyy! No way in H would I ever say anything to her again except “good-riddances” upon hearing of her demise! The whole uncoupling thing by Gwyneth Paltrow is presented as being very grown-up where his & hers all get along with the new his & hers. Except, Gwyneth is totally making bank by selling this lifestyle. You & I are not, so why would we pretend fake-nice with backstabbers?! We don’t or shouldn’t.

  • She doesn’t matter. She is not your children’s parent. OW is not your kids’ mom because she is fucking their dad.

    Any “good parenting” you see is very likely to be pick-me dancing, impression management, attempted alienation, etc. and unlikely due to love for your kids. In my case, OW LOVED to “play mommy” to my son, even when I was right there. I shut that down fast. I do know she was also “better” at parenting than FW. My son, who was about 7, would tell me that OW helped him with this or that and he was glad someone did. I would just respond “that’s nice”.

    When OW finally left FW (only 4 weeks after setting up their “happy home” – turns out living together 24/7 with three combined kids underfoot isn’t quite the same as seeing each other on the weekends; they’d been involved for four years, but hadn’t lived together), she complete dropped my son. Never contacted him. Never gave him an explanation or an apology. Never responded to his messages. Never sent condolences when FW died. She NEVER cared about my son. He was just another way to get “in” with my husband. How hard is it to tell a little kid “I’m sorry. I had to go, but I still care about you” or “I’m sorry you lost your dad”? I don’t like her, and personnally I’m glad she’s no longer in my child’s life, but my son didn’t feel that way and I am still angry at her for abandoning him without a word.

    OW sent me an “apology” a couple months after she left my stbx. I did not respond. It wasn’t a sincere apology (“I’m sorry IF I did anything”), she accepted no responsibility (“I was operating under false pretenses”), and only came after her little fantasy fell apart. Had things worked out, she would never have felt any remorse. She wasn’t sorry she hurt me, she was embarrassed that she made such a stupid choice. It seemed to me that she was looking to me to make HER feel better, and that is not my job.

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