Dear Chump Lady
I am seething! My charming husband of 20 years said he will not give up his long-term affair partner for me or our boys (15 and 12). We did counseling. I cried, tried to understand, asked that we rebuild our relationship. He lied and kept up the affair the whole time. Yup, all that.
It’s almost 2 years after D-day and I am finally dragging myself free. He doesn’t want to leave the house, but wants to stay together and ‘co-parent’. Sex would be great if I wanted to throw that in (NOOOO!!!!), but we could be platonic “if that is what I wanted.” (He did ask that I try not to be so sexy if I wasn’t going to sleep with him.) Ugh.
My younger son wants to keep the family together. I told him that was not his job. Next week is school vacation week. I suggested that husband take the boys skiing, and I will take them south for April vacation. He wants us to go together. He had the nerve to text me while he is waiting for a plane to go to Florida for a “conference”. I am working and taking care of the boys while he goes on yet another boondoggle (with OW or he’ll find someone there).
He forwarded a text from our son asking if we could all go skiing as a family when daddy gets back on Sunday. He tells me “not to do this to our son. Son is so fragile now.” I could just scream. Of course our son is fragile. He has watched our family disintegrate before his eyes. Even the dog has gotten skittish. Did you not think of the impact on our children when you decided to have an affair? Not just a drunken night in Vegas, but a full blown 5-year-go-on-vacations-together and signs their texts “life partner,” kind of affair?
I am supposed to play happy family with the man who lied and betrayed me? How do I help my sons through this?
Why don’t we start by helping YOU through this? Find those boundaries and enforce them. He wants to go on a vacation with you, as you’re trying to divorce him? You tell him “I’m sorry. I don’t vacation with men I am divorcing.” He tries to triangulate you with your son — you tell your son clearly: “You’re welcome to go on a vacation with dad. I’m not going. Dad and I are divorcing, which means we don’t do family things together any more.”
Maybe you think this will upset your son further. I’m sure it will upset him, but it’s the truth. And your son deserves to know the truth and adjust to it honestly, then to have some manipulative asswipe raise false hopes that We’re All Getting Back Together Again.
That fucker must be really desperate for cake that he would hurt a 12-year-old boy. I think you need to be really clear with your son that dad won’t stop cheating. You’ve tried your best to save the marriage, but dad is intent on his girlfriends and that is unacceptable. Explain the concept of enforcing boundaries and letting go of the consequences to your son. “Son, it pains me too to lose our family, but it pains me more to see your father cheat on me. He cannot have both his intact family and his girlfriend. I cannot go on vacations with your father and we are not getting back together.” I would add that it kills you to see him so hurt, and you know he misses his family. But the consequence of his father’s actions is no more family vacations together.
You are NOT the bad guy here and don’t let your asshole soon-to-be-ex try to paint you that way. It’s a familiar tactic disordered freaks use on children. They abuse the other parent and then cry victim when boundaries are enforced. “Mom is so terrible. She won’t let us be together! I want us to be a family, but I guess your MOM doesn’t!” That’s why you can’t keep his secrets and protect his image. You tell your son exactly why you are divorcing, and remember to leave the editorializing out. Just the facts. Dad has a girlfriend. He won’t stop cheating. This situation has forced me to file for divorce.
You may think you’re the instrument of pain and crushing disappoint to your son. But really you are role modeling how to stand up to mindfuckery — a crucial life lesson.
I would talk to your lawyer about how fast you can get a separation agreement drafted. Mr. Cake needs to move out and be one with his “life partner.” Perhaps you could call her and tell her to prepare some closet space? I mean, godspeed! She can have him. Someone needs to send her the memo.
Stay strong and stay the course toward divorce. He wants to live together, co-parent, and have sex? Gee, you enjoy those things too in a marriage. Too bad he wants a harem. Keep putting it back on him, Breathe. Don’t let that motherfucker off the hook for one second. Family FAIL is on him. Tell him you will be platonically calling your lawyer and platonically filing an order of support and platonically throwing his ass out. Try not to look so sexy while you’re doing it.