‘I’m Considering Just Giving Up’

churchill_neverDear Chump Lady,

I’m struggling.

We have been married 5 years. He’s been cheating for 4. First it was with his boss and then with a secretary. The affair with the secretary is still going on.

I had NO idea. I was blindsided. I thought we were really, really happy. He was charming and handsome and fun. I trusted him completely. I bragged about him to my friends for being such a great family man.

One night, when I was putting my 3-year-old to bed, he told me that he hadn’t gone to Dairy Queen like Daddy said — that he had been at “Mabel’s” house. I checked our cell records, googled the number, and found the woman. I knew her; she had actually been at our baby shower. On D-day I was still recovering from giving birth to our second son — I was breastfeeding a 5-month old baby.

For the next few weeks and months, the truth trickled out: the romantic weekend away while I was 9-months pregnant, them taking my older son out for public outings on several occasions, she came to my home when I was teaching night classes so she could hold our new baby in my living room. It is a long-term, serious, physical and emotional affair.

That was a year ago. I’ve been pick me dancing ever since. He said he broke it off. I discovered several weeks later that he hadn’t. We tried it again. He sent her an email saying it was over. That email was fake. I filed for divorce and asked him to move out. He acted devastated but complied. He said it was over between him and the whore, but then I stopped by his new place and she was there. He acts sorry and begs me not to give up on him, and the cycle goes on for months. I work up my courage and gain some distance, then he acts sorry, and I back down and delay the divorce proceedings.

We’ve been going to marriage counseling for a year — and he points out the progress he’s made. And I go along with it, telling myself that he has made progress. He says he’s not seeing her, that he’s just texting and staying in touch because he is finding it hard to “close that door once and for all.” (Even as I’m typing this I feel like such a loser because even I don’t believe it.)

Here’s my question, I guess: I am seriously considering just saying, “Who cares.” The thought of divorcing, of 50/50 custody, of my children potentially living with that whore 50 percent of the time might be MORE painful than just sticking my head in the sand and moving on with our pleasant, pretend little life. My babies are so little, and the pain of being away from them is excruciating. (I tried to fight for full custody but he is an attorney in our little town and the judge refused to even listen to my testimony!) When I think that she may have the opportunity to hug and cuddle and do bath time with my young sons, I just can’t handle it. Am I nuts for contemplating this?

Thanks,

So Sad

****

Dear So Sad,

You aren’t nuts for contemplating it. But I want you to seriously weigh some other scenarios. Remember, I’m not a lawyer, I’m a lady with a blog. Talk to a lawyer, but let’s play out the decision tree here.

You stay with him and he continues to eat cake.

Pro: You get your “pleasant, pretend little life.” You get to hug, cuddle, and do bath time with your sons.

Con: You’re not preventing the OW from hugs, cuddles, or bath time with your sons. She’s already been in your home. You’ve already consented to his cake eating, and now you get to play marriage police. Do you ever leave your home? Does your husband ever leave? He’ll continue to cheat, based on four years of past behavior. The counseling is bullshit. He’s just “texting” and “staying in touch.” And some licensed therapist listens to that shit and continues to bill you? And doesn’t call him out on it and say “I can’t help you. You’re in an affair. Marriage counseling is pointless”?

Oh no, everyone is happy if you keep smoking the crack pipe of hopium. (And have the therapy bills to show for it.) You’re getting exposed to God knows how many STDs, and you get to live with misery and hypervigilance.

Unless you’re as pathological as he is, I can’t see how you can compartmentalize this into “pleasant.” He’s flagrantly disrespecting you and calling it “progress.”

You miss the lie, I get it. But I don’t think staying with a cake-eater is sustainable. It’s soul death by inches. SS, your soul MATTERS.

You stay with him and he decides to dump you later.

Pro: Not much pro here, but you get to live the pleasant lie a bit longer.

Con: While he’s got you pick me dancing your heart out, he’s feathering his nest, moving assets, and moving out for Schmoopie, leaving you abandoned. If you think your legal case sucks now, try adding emergency temporary support orders.

You divorce him and fight like hell.

Pro: You go on the offensive. You get the biggest, baddest, most respected divorce attorney in your county (who also knows the judge) and you gather all the “he went away with his mistress when I was 9 months pregnant” evidence.

He’s an attorney? Ask your attorney to depose his affair partners. See if he’s done anything shady with the money. (Ask for money spent on affairs back in the division of marital assets.) I’m wondering if you have some leverage on his ethics, as he’s a member of the bar. I’d hate for him to perjure himself…

Con: It’s expensive. And time consuming. And you might not win.

You may be cast as a bitter, scorned woman who is trying to punish him by taking away his children. IMO, you need to cast this as What Is Best For The Children — which is to have the mother who has raised them, and who has DEMONSTRATED that she’s invested the most time and care with them. You say, of course you want their father in their lives (eat that shit sandwich), but he’s so busy (with his fuckbuddies) that you’d be the most consistent parent.

You do NOT cast it as “Can You Believe What He Did to Me?!” I wish that mattered, but sadly from what I read here, it usually does not.

You divorce him and accept 50/50.

Pro: It’s probably a short-lived arrangement. But the biggest pro of divorce is YOU DON’T LIVE WITH HIS CRAZY and you get to build a new life for yourself.

Con: He doesn’t pay child support. Which is usually the strategy of these fuckwits. And you don’t have the time you deserve with your small children.

However, I sincerely doubt this man wants preschoolers 50 percent of the time. So you must take the long view and DOCUMENT. Every time he hands them off to someone else. Every time he leaves them with you. Every time he puts his selfish whims above those of his kids. You document, document, document.

And then, after he’s hung himself with enough rope, you sue for custody. Now, you’ve got more evidence of how much he sucks and how reasonable you have been.

And while it is a big shit sandwich, many guy chumps have had to eat it and survived. And you will too. But really, I think it’s highly unlikely that your husband is single parent material, nor do I think it one bit likely that the OW wants to spend more than an hour with two preschool boys. I also think there’s a very good chance a judge isn’t going to grant him 50/50 custody between his work schedule and his shit human being status.

Small children are HARD. As moms, we love them, but really very few people want Cheerios ground into their carpets as a lifestyle choice. The first time someone vomits in her hair or has a potty accident, or wakes up with a night terror, the novelty will wear off.

Remember — you’re MOM. It’s primal. No one replaces you.

One last option here, SS — the Chump Lady Strategy.

If I were you, I would ask your husband for a post-nup. Gosh, you so believe all his sorry, sorry remorse, so you’d like to put that in writing with some guarantees. He’s never going to cheat again, right? So if he does, here’s a property settlement and a custody agreement written into a post-nup.

You make him sign that motherfucker and you “reconcile.”

That money you were going to spend on a divorce retainer? You spend on a private investigator.

That’s the best way I know to get the settlement you want. If he balks, then you’re looking at divorce anyway. Good luck.

***

On the road today. This is a rerun. I really hope SS weighs in if she still reads here. I’d like to imagine she’s out there living her best life and isn’t on her 14th D-Day.

 

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ChumpedForANewerModel
ChumpedForANewerModel
10 months ago

I hope So Sad came to her senses and got rid of the cheater. Trust and honesty are needed in any relationship. She had neither and could never live an authentic and healthy life. I sure hope she made the choice to leave even though it means eating shit sandwiches. She needs to model good behavior for her young kids.

CakeEaters'Daughter
CakeEaters'Daughter
10 months ago

Living a lie is not good for kids. People think they can just pretend everything is fine and the kids will never know the difference, right?

Wrong. They may not put it all together consciously for decades but they will not feel happiness and the long-term effects are toxic on their future lives. My brother and I are still “untangling the skein” of our childhood.

And after 30 years of marriage Dad dumped Mom anyway and married his last schmoopie/secretary.

Mari
Mari
10 months ago

How did that work out for him???

CakeEaters'Daughter
CakeEaters'Daughter
10 months ago
Reply to  Mari

Actually, it worked out pretty well for him. He did lose his job over the workplace adultery , but it was a second career, he had investments and could afford it. He was already close to 65, schmoopie actually a year older, well preserved, knew which side her bread was buttered, socially slick, ready-made grandkids, managed his emotions as well as his household skillfully. He cut us kids out of his will immediately but we kept pick-me dancing because, well, not about money (much too proud!) but to try and keep up some kind of relationship with him. I did not put the whole thing about his serial cheating together for literal decades.

Adelante
Adelante
10 months ago

In my experience one of the dangers of staying with a cheater is that the pick-me dancing done by the cheated-on spouse is one of those behaviors that transfers generationally. My mother’s decision not to divorce my father meant she was placating and pick-me dancing as a way of life for until she divorced him after thirty years. Both my brother and I saw it, and took the lesson, although we applied it along gendered lines. He became like my father, and wanted his girlfriends dancing attendance, while I learned to placate and pick-me dance.

MARISOL TAMMERO
MARISOL TAMMERO
10 months ago
Reply to  Adelante

With a handle like Adelante, I’m assuming you are Latina. I’m one too, so you pretty much describe how it went down in my family as well. The men were serial cheaters, while the women suffered and endured all that bullshit. They were too busy holding down the fort and working their asses off; not only raising their kids, but their Peter Pan husbands too. My mom always looked so sad and tired. (sigh)

Hell of a Chump
Hell of a Chump
10 months ago

Chauvinism in supposedly first world countries like the US is alive and well too. Day to day expression of it can be more fragmented and hypocritical and therefore difficult to define so that it’s easy for apologists and deniers to gaslight those trying to stand up to it. One form of gaslighting is for apologists and deniers to point to more technicolor expressions of sexism in certain developing countries as a way of saying first world women have “arrived” while ignoring the fact that US rates of workplace harassment, domestic violence, domestic murder, rape, etc., are still unacceptable. There’s no denying that worse rates are even more unacceptable but one thing can be said for the more technicolor expressions of sexism in some countries: when women have had enough and get organized, they tend to do it in more technicolor ways, are fantastically unapologetic and start churning out the progressive, exciting thought leaders. I’ve been pretty awed by emerging feminists from India and the Zapatista indigenous women’s summit. And the US women’s march was downright listless and suburban compared to femicide protests in South America. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s5AAscy7qbI

CryMeARiver
CryMeARiver
10 months ago

My ex left anyway, down the track. It doesn’t matter how good you dance or how much cake you bake FWs will always do what they want anyway. Their right to their ‘happiness’ (aka sex with whoever, whenever and whereever) will not be denied them. And they will always DARVO the chump for it.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
10 months ago
Reply to  CryMeARiver

Exactly!

Change is hard so a FW will 99% pivot to behavior they’ve demonstrated since childhood as it gets them CAKE. They just go deeper in the damp dark basement of deceit to achieve their kibbles. It will never end. And they’re willing to use any means necessary and anyone, including their kids, to achieve their next high. It’s just a matter of when, not if. No amount of pick me dancing, no matter or exquisitely olympic worthy it is, will make a difference.

Asshat took such pleasure in handing me divorce paperwork and then wanting to initiate sex. I think it blew his mind when I said no, because he was so used to me giving him what he wanted. That was the beginning of a new relationship and I began to see him for who he was because of how he reacted to my new found role as an EX, and one who has been hoover resistant.

susie lee
susie lee
10 months ago

” And they’re willing to use any means necessary and anyone, including their kids, to achieve their next high. ”

And it doesn’t usually end. My ex used our son by lies and manipulation. Luckily son figured it out before it was too late. He even tried to slip in a loan without my son knowing it when son was buying ex’x house. Son caught it. FW just laughed and said, I didn’t think you would notice it.

Sandyfeet
Sandyfeet
10 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

Terrible thing to try and saddle son with a loan. It would be difficult to maintain a relationship after that.

Adelante
Adelante
10 months ago

My ex, too, was quite surprised when I stopped anticipating what he wanted and giving it to him, was no longer manipulable, and when I outright refused and even took the initiative against him.

I think he really believed that after the divorce we would continue a relationship in which I supported him, continued to caretake him emotionally, and gratified his sexual proclivities. He wanted us to be “friends”; funny how his idea of that “friendship” looked a lot like his idea of “marriage,” with everything set up for his benefit.

I’m sure the fact that I declined this “friendship” merely confirmed for him what a horrible person I am.

Fourleaf
Fourleaf
10 months ago

One of the biggest sandwiches I’ve ever had to swallow is knowing that I have no control over what type of relationship the OW develops with my children.

It’s hard. It’s really hard and I’m so sorry. My FW’s third GF, now Wifetress, swooped in when my babies were still in diapers. She bathed them and cuddled them and loved them. They became very fond of her and they still love her a lot. To my admitted sorrow, she is still the only one they trust to cut their hair (darn it, she does a good job too). They’ve been calling her “mom” for most of their lives now.

For years, THAT HURT. But I swallowed that shit sandwich, deflected conversations away from the people who caused me pain and encouraged my kids to talk about themselves instead (“Dad and other Mom took us out for ice cream after the movie!” “Oh, how nice. Can you tell me if you liked the movie? Oh, and what ice cream did you get? Was it good?”) and I would cry about it after I had put them to bed.

I used to he a member of a different “left behind spouses” group for years. They were, for the most part, fantastic and they saw me through many storms, but on this situation I fundamentally disagreed with them. They said I was to message my X and the Wifetress m, with lawyers if need be, and tell them that she was not to act like a parent to my kids: “Tell them that YOUR kids should never call ‘that creature’ Mom EVER!” was the advice.

So I thought… how on earth am I to police that? I can’t control what goes on in their home. My only options are to come off as truly unhinged and interrogate my babies every time they come hom about how many times the “M word” was used (thus giving them anxiety and encouraging them to lie to me) or, better yet, move in with FW and his new family so I watch everyone like a crazy person and remind them that ‘the creature’ was not their Mom and to stop calling her that.

I realized that I was hanging by an emotional thread most days anyway and if I decided that this (the kids calling her “mom” and her acting like a loving parent towards them) was going to be a battleground then it was going to be a full time job that 1) would destroy me and make me look like a loon and 2( would, in time, drive my kids away from me emotionally.

So, I get it go. FW married his last affair partner. She changed diapers on weekends and sent my kids back in freshly washed clothes. She fed them well and treated them nicely. In turn, they bonded with her and also started calling her “mom.” I decided that if I was going to stand in the way then the outcome would not be good for me. So I swallowed the pain, deflected conversations, and tried to look on the bright side of things: at least she’s a good step mom and she’s not abusive towards them. I sometimes think that she’s the better parent between her and FW and probably is the reason why my kids come home fine each time.

Now, I’m not sitting in on family picnics. I have nothing to do with FW and Wifetress. There’s simply too much pain for me. But I also didn’t stand in the way of the relationship they developed with my kiddos during visits because I simply can’t control what goes o in their home. My babies are now teenagers and I believe those hard choices have beared fruit.

There are hard times ahead and I’m so sorry. Continue to be the same, stable parent when you have your babies. Take solace in the areas of life that you can control and be at peace with the things you can’t control (like OW hugging and cuddling your kids). That takes years of hard work but the alternatives (dig your feet in and let it consume you) are too horrible to bear.

Stay sane and stable for your kids. Find a safe place to cry, rant, and vent. And document, document, document.

RaffNoMore
RaffNoMore
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

I knew that my kids were better cared for when she was there. The house was cleaner, food in the fridge, laundry done, made it to events on time. Once they broke up the house became a shit hole, rotten food in the fridge, rodent infestation, no clean clothes. Kids were older so could do their own laundry, I sent them e-gift cards to go get food (places to walk to) and now my 14 year will not go to his house anymore. I guess that second dead mouse in her bedroom put her right over the edge!

Involuntary Georgian
Involuntary Georgian
10 months ago
Reply to  RaffNoMore

Similar story here, except gender-reversed.

I once asked my daughter about AP (now XW’s husband). She said that she liked when he was there because XW (her mother) didn’t yell as much and they got better food (because AP cooks; XW’s idea of a special dinner is taking the kids to both McDonalds AND Burger King drive-thrus). I have no relationship with him and never will, but if their mother will put on a show for him that ends up benefitting the kids, I guess that’s OK. I can’t say he’s a good father because he is slow-motion abandoning his kids in favor of my XW and my kids (and doing serious emotional damage in the process), so basically every positive thing he brings into my kids’ life is coming at the expense of his own children.

Apidae
Apidae
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

No doubt one of the reasons he picked Wifetress is that he knew he could dump the job of being a parent on her. You are incredible, Fourleaf.

Motherchumper99
Motherchumper99
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

Fourleaf.. . . You are mighty! Wow! I’m blown away!

Fourleaf
Fourleaf
10 months ago

Thanks all. It is really hard. But back then, when the GF#3/Wifetress wound was fresh and my kids were little, it was HARD. I once even heard (second hand) that FW and Wifetress were taking my kids (and hers) around and introducing them all as “their kids” (omitting me entirely). Thus, when new people met their family, they just assumed that all of the kids getting hauled around were FW and Wifetress’s biological kids.

I remember hearing that and momentarily seething. Then I deflated like a balloon. What was the alternative? Take out classifieds and billboard ads informing the world that “those are NOT her kids, they are MY kids” or taking to social media with a friendly “Just a FYI for anyone reading this: if you should chance to see my X and his new GF around, just know that they lying; those are actually MY kids.” Ugh… they would have come off looking like the sane, stable parents and I would come off looking like a maniac.

I bit my tongue. I swallowed the sandwiches. If the chance to explain things to other people came up organically then I would explain things: “Oh, those are my children; she’s their step mom.” And then I wouldn’t really encourage further conversation on the matter. The only thing that mattered to me was that, in my absolute sorrow (PTSD, depression, pills to deal with it all), my kids still saw me as safe, sane, and the softest place to land. If I rallied against the woman that they had (to my sorrow) come to love and have deep affection for then I would not be, in their hearts, a safe space.

I still keep my boundaries. As Chump Lady explained in other posts, an excellent strategy is to deflect the conversations away from focusing on the hurtful people (FW, OW) and back onto the person with whom you are having conversation with instead: “Oh, you had ice cream after!? Awesome, what kind? Do you think you’d ever try that flavor again? (etc)” (Completely omitting all mention of FW and OW’s part in the ice cream story.) It works so well and the child doesn’t feel like they are being shut down from talking about their time spent at the other house.

I remember once, back during our first seperation (after the discovery of GF#1–sigh–in very similar circumstances), going to see a public/pro-bono/for people who can’t afford lawyers lawyer. I explained my situation to her (sobbing! I was a mess!) and asked what I could do legally. I explained, from a position of deep feeling (just finding out that my husband had been sleeping with a younger woman and that girl was taking photos of herself with my babies) that I simply could not bear the idea of HER taking on that role. I remember saying, as I wept, “What am I supposed to do? How do I stop HER from doing things like putting MY kids on the school bus and making them their lunches? What forms do I have to fill out to prevent that from happening.”

The lawyer didn’t even look up from her papers. She was curt and had no sympathy for me. “You don’t stop it from happening. This is your life now. You suck it up and let her put your kids on the bus because she’s in their lives now and you can’t stop that or control that.” She didn’t even look at me when she said that (as a free lawyer, I imagine she has long days with hundreds of sob stories and she probably refuses to engage emotionally with any of them anymore and takes on a “just the facts” stance–I get it). I shut down completely and didn’t process that for weeks. Epilogue: GF#1 never lasted that long and I did not use the services of that free lawyer because I didn’t feel like she was on my side (for GF#3/Wifetress, I had to use my parents’ money and get a paid lawyer who was totally on my side and it made all the different). I only bring this up because what that free lawyer, who never looked up from her papers at me while I sobbed that I wanted the law to keep my husband’s GF out of my babies lives, stayed with me forever. She said it perhaps a little cruely for my tastes but I’ve never forgotten it: “That woman will be a part of their lives. Get used to it and figure out what to do next.” It was a sobering, but useful learning experience.

I also want to point out that I’m not saintly. I won’t be anywhere were FW and Wifestress are and, up until my eldest’s high school graduation in a year or so, I have not been in the same space with either of them since the day he left me. It’s been glorious to not have to be around them. Also, in the early days when either GF#1 and then, later, GF#3/Wifetress would send my kids back to me all cleaned up after a weekend visit, I’d… well, I’d throw those freshly washed clothes they were wearing BACK into my washing machine, and I’d give my babies (up until they were older, of course) another quick bath at home because I didn’t even want a whiff of anything FW/Wifetress coming into my space. So, I rewashed everything on Sunday evenings–even the children. It was silly and probably even petty… but it helped me feel like I could control something (I’m going to wash alllllll the Wifetress germs offa them) and, since it didn’t hurt anyone, I leaned into my inner brat there.

Acceptance is a big part of the journey. I don’t have to like it, but I have no choice except to accept it. Once you accept that, yes, the OW is going to be playing mommy, it’s okay to feel free to barf and you can take control over the areas that you can control. Let go of what you can’t. If the situation at the other house is not abusive, then there is nothing you can do. I figured all I could do was make my home (just the kids, the pets, and me) the most loving, stable, safe space that it can be. That’s always been my end goal. It’s paid off. My kids still love their dad and the Wifetress but they feel much more comfortable at home with me (lol, or so they tell me) and would never choose to live fulltime with their step-family.

It’s hard though, particularly in the early years and particularly when the kids are young and happy to bond with other loving caregivers. No sugar coating it… it sucks. I lost a lot of weight in those years. Take care and take care of yourself. Get help, have someone to talk to, and take medication, if you need it, as you navigate the early years. Stay busy and feather your own nest so your kids feel comfortable and safe at home.

CurlyChump
CurlyChump
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

Fourleaf… rewashing the laundry and kiddos was not the most petty thing you could have done. Smells are so primal! I hate the overly scented detergent or softener that the new wife appliance uses at my ex’s house. Oftentimes a regular cycle in my washer isn’t enough to wash it all out. I’ve been known to pre-soak, then launder, my daughter’s jackets after they’ve been washed over there. I’m truly nauseated by their laundry scent, but at least it lets me know when something’s been washed?

eirene
eirene
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

You are my idol, Fourleaf. Sane, pragmatic, vulnerable, honest… Thanks so much for taking the time to tell us this story.

BigCityChump
BigCityChump
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

Oh, Fourleaf! I do admire you! It is just so hard…
In my case the OW was my friend of 25 years who preDD came over to bake with the kids, do art projects and gave them over the top presents. After DD the kids were devastated and upset that OW had lied to them. Of course, FW turned that into I was badmouthing her to them. We all know how sharp teenage girls can be and I was delighted when my kids began calling her the step-c u next T. It made me bellow with laughter. But then I realized that they had a relationship with her—mostly bc they used her as an ally when their dad acted poorly. This has made me rage and cry more than I can say. This friend of mine conspired to hurt me and my children. I have worked diligently to keep them sane and she gets to give presents and tell FW to be nice to the teenagers and she gets status? It never stops hurting. But as you said—the more the kids see you interrogate or react the worse they feel. Sigh….
My FW makes the girls buy the step-c u next Tuesday Christmas presents. I will say they always choose something lame and take glee in showing me.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

I’m in deep admiration for your grace and ability to set the boundaries that worked for you despite pressure and judgment from others.

This shit is hard. Your path is an example of balancing the shit sandwiches with moving toward meh and not alienating your children. Finding the strength on some days has been almost impossible. But you’ve stated the key—“Stay sane and stable for your kids. Find a safe place to cry, rant, and vent”

Hugs.

Principled Life
Principled Life
10 months ago
Reply to  Fourleaf

Fourleaf, I really admire you. You are a mother-hero. Like someone who rushes into a burning building to save her babies. Every day.

loch
loch
10 months ago

Find your anger. Anger is a powerful defense mechanism that protects you from exploitation.

Go no contact. Get a badass lawyer. Take your lumps and get back at it.

Sorry that you got involved with one of these user abuser frauds.
His power comes from exploiting you.
Cut that energy source off for him.

That’s the advice I’d give my young self.

Glad now to be fuckwit free.
Life is good without a fuckwit in it.

Goodfriend
Goodfriend
10 months ago

For readers in the Boston area, Tracy is speaking live tomorrow, March 30th, at 6:30 pm, along with Vikki Stark, author of “Runaway Husbands.” The program is called “Women of Courage” and it’s a fundraiser for Jane Does Well, a non-profit that provides resources to women confronting divorce. Tracey and Vikki will both speak, followed by four women telling their stories of life after divorce. For $25, attendees get copies of their books along with the presentations. Tracy, can you give a link and additional info on how to register for Boston area chumps who want to attend? The program is live only, no recordings.

eirene
eirene
10 months ago
Reply to  Goodfriend

Wish I could attend, but alas, it’s just too far a drive for me on a Thursday night. Thanks for alerting us, Goodfriend.

https://www.janedoeswell.org/our-story/
https://www.janedoeswell.org/event/women-of-courage-3/

Elsie
Elsie
10 months ago

A friend of mine endured what the poster related for several decades, and frankly, I don’t know if she’ll ever be on stable ground. She’s post-divorce but has long-term issues from the diseases he gave her, and her overall health is broken. Her adult children are seriously messed up from all the instability in their lives and barely graduated from high school. They figured out what their father was doing in their teens.

In contrast, I knew people who pulled the trigger earlier and at least had the peace of their own places and provided a haven for their children half of the time. Over the years, it seems like many of these types of ex’s lose interest in their children anyway.

I agree that folks in this situation need a superstar attorney. I knew exactly who mine would hire (one of the most expensive in the metropolitan area) because he had been telling me for years that’s who he’d use if we split. I also knew he would try to play attorney because of prior behavior with an estate attorney we had. My ex had no legal training, but he considered himself way smarter than any professional, so there it was. I went for the nationally-ranked “grandpa with an iron rod.” It was well worth it, and he ended up writing off about half the work “because I’m the managing partner.” LOL.

portia
portia
10 months ago

Accept that you cannot control what other people think and do. Yes, you can influence others, but only to a point. You cannot change someone’s character. You cannot transplant your values into their soul.

My son’s met a number of affair partner’s du jour. They were not aware of the implications for many of those partners. As my sons grew up, they developed a more complete understanding. Still, I had taught them manners, and they were expected to be polite. They did report things to me that I really did not want to know. I could not do much about those things, and I had to resolve my own anger about them. My sons were able to figure most of it out as they experienced negative things growing up. They were betrayed by friends and girlfriends; they learned what betrayal felt like.

Even now my Ex’s widow tries to use my sons to do her bidding, using subtle threats and cash rewards as her weapons of choice. Recently she “gave” my son some money for his birthday. She immediately asked for a “favor”. When he said he would help her out, she gave him more money. I asked him if he realized he had just been bribed, and he said yes. If he had declined her “favor”, there would have been some subtle threat. Everything is negotiable for her. He is 33. He will have to deal with this, I have to stay out of it. He volunteered this information; he obviously wanted my opinion. It is hard, but your children will learn that this type of person sucks.

Believe in yourself, your ability to be the sane parent. It will be hard. Fight the good fight in court but accept the outcome will probably not be entirely fair. Life is not fair. Believe that your life will be better when you are FW free. Hold on to that belief, ask anyone who has come out on the other side here in chump nation how we know.

Ain't It a Shame
Ain't It a Shame
10 months ago

I’m hoping So Sad got out of this situation; the stress from abuse like this absolutely can kill a person. I also wish family courts would recognize how abusive and damaging it is when cheaters and side pieces neglect their children and destroy their sense of stability in pursuit of gratification.

susie lee
susie lee
10 months ago

“I also wish family courts would recognize how abusive and damaging it is when cheaters and side pieces neglect their children and destroy their sense of stability in pursuit of gratification.”

Yes, but instead we have therapists and courts thinking of it as exuberant rebellion, or private matter. I hope every one who thinks that gets betrayed. Experience is the best teacher.

Kathleen
Kathleen
10 months ago

It’s very difficult especially when you have young children but stay strong. He’s a cheating narcissist and will never change.

Almost Monday
Almost Monday
10 months ago

This is the reason that Chump Lady and Chump Nation are life savers. To be able to provide empathy and sound advice during such a challenging time is vital. It is hard to believe that so many chump parents find themselves in this situation and both survive and heal.

Although I don’t have children, I had a decades long career of providing childcare in a high-quality program. The tasks I did for children were developmentally appropriate and, therefore, appeared intimate/bonded. Hundreds of families allowed their children to make that transition into my care, BUT I was just as invested in making the end of day transition back to parents successful, too.

Document any observable problems with shared custody.

SecondSelf
SecondSelf
10 months ago

My heart breaks for SS and for her kids. The poor kids are stuck in the middle, with no good choices and are too small to understand what is happening or who to trust. I see my own kids struggle mightily with the innate desire to have a relationship with their dad and a parallel knowledge that he can’t be trusted. They don’t know how to put those together yet, and I can’t blame them. It took me 20 years as an adult to see behind the mask fully. It’s so hard to watch. This is what makes me angry on a daily basis. I have accepted the loss of my old marriage, the lost years, the financial turmoil and struggle. But the ongoing harm to the kids. I don’t forgive that.

Juniper
Juniper
10 months ago
Reply to  SecondSelf

Yes, SecondSelf. All this. Me too.

FYI
FYI
10 months ago

“It is a long-term, serious, physical and emotional affair.”

Nothing says “serious” like shoving AP’s face in it, having her over to the house to rock HIS NEW WIFE’s baby. Yep, he’s so serious about AP relationship that he keeps having children with his wife. Real emotional, that one.

I also don’t believe for a second that he’s been cheating for only four years. It’s been a LOT longer than that.

N
N
10 months ago

The thought of losing time my children and them being around the whore really held me back for a while. However, I went through with it all and divorced him. Guess what? He did NOT have them 50% of the time. Shocking, I know. So I didn’t lose out on much time at all. Yes the whore was around my kids doing all the things their dad should’ve been doing, but they now legally are not to be around one another due to beating one another up in front of their new baby. They’ve both lost custody of all their children and I have probably about 95% custody and she’s never around my kids ever. I hope you divorced him and everything worked out in your favor.

Her Blondeness
Her Blondeness
10 months ago

Quote: Con: He doesn’t pay child support. Which is usually the strategy of these fuckwits. And you don’t have the time you deserve with your small children.

Go to the county or the state and garnish his wages. It was the only way I knew I would see support from Cheater#1. Even his employer’s payroll department was too dumb to process the garnishment until their HR Director saw the state order, then everything was implemented. Best time and money I ever spent.

susie lee
susie lee
10 months ago
Reply to  Her Blondeness

Going through the courts is the best bet.

However, I think in this quote CL is saying the reason these FW’s want 50/50 is they generally don’t have to pay child support. Then what happens is the chump has the children most of the time anyway (as he will be busy) and she can’t get child support because he doesn’t owe any.

Adelante
Adelante
10 months ago
Reply to  susie lee

And thus the advice to document, document, document. Because once the fw demonstrates he’s not the 50% parent, the courts can award more custody to the actually parenting parent.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
10 months ago
Reply to  Adelante

That’s what I did. Documented every time FW asked/told me to keep our child on “his” days, every time he refused extra time (holidays, days off school, etc.), everytime he was “too sick” or “busy [with whore]” to keep the kid. That way when FW cried that I was “keeping his child from him” I could show all the times he refused/declined time with our child. The magistrate awarded me primary custody.

Motherchumper99
Motherchumper99
10 months ago

SS…???? Updates, please!

I’ve never seen a cheater step up and exercise anything approaching 50% of child rearing. My XH fought me for full custody but he hadn’t been around for 18 months … what a joke. When I ordered a parenting and drug evaluation and subpoenaed his medical and psych records he caved on custody. My XH is also a very successful 7-figure earning attorney. I had to go through a trial to get 50%. Married 25 years, 4 kids, he earned 7x my salary as I had worked part-time after being a SAHM 8 years. No fault community property state. Judge awarded me 82% of all property and none of XH’s tax debts. Limited maintenance- property instead of ongoing payments so I’d be free. XH never followed through with path to get more time with our youngest. Went years choosing to see her an hour or two a month. She has a kick ass therapist. I never will regret divorcing that evil rat bastard. Never. They don’t stop. One the mask slips, the abuse escalates. It did for me. XH attacked me in an elevator with my 9 year old next to me. Twisted my arm to get his phone (marriage police work can turn violent in an instant). I wish I’d filed for divorce on Dday-/ saved the 20 weeks of extreme trauma I suffered doing the RIC crap afterwards. 🤬😭🤬

SecondSelf
SecondSelf
10 months ago

Yes, agree that marriage police work gets dangerous quickly. Like the time I picked up ex’s phone to look up driving directions since he was driving and it opened to a porn website he didn’t want me to see. Thank god he didn’t kill me and the two kids in the back as he tried to wrestle the phone out of my hands while driving 70 mph. Physical risk should definitely be on the Con list when considering staying married.

hush
hush
10 months ago
Reply to  SecondSelf

💯 Yes, SecondSelf! RISK OF PHYSICAL HARM in staying with a cheater needs to be top of this list. Cheaters transmit all manner of diseases. Cheaters drive like maniacs and pick fights while speeding, this risking our health as well as our kids’ health, too. As the news headlines keep trying to tell us, without directly telling us, there is a clear elevated risk of homicide by poisoning, firearms, strangulation, etc. at the hands of cheaters and their accomplices. These psychopaths can quite literally turn into killers in an instant, with zero discernible red flags anyone but the most perceptive would ever pick up on.

FreeWoman
FreeWoman
10 months ago
Reply to  SecondSelf

Yep. One evening, X was determined to go out with neighbor AP, to her office party. I said hell no, so he wouldn’t let me leave the bedroom, then pinned me on the bed, and held me down. He left marks all over my arms. I eventually gave up, and said ok. It was horrible. I was so beaten down emotionally, that I HELPED HIM PICK OUT A SHIRT TO WEAR 🤬😩
It’s so disgusting what they do us, that’s all.

Hope49
Hope49
10 months ago
Reply to  FreeWoman

All the best to you FreeWoman! What chumps endured we can reflect upon, move forward and know that we refuse to ever be with a PIG human again.

FreeWoman
FreeWoman
10 months ago
Reply to  Hope49

Thank you Hope. I’m fine now, and I try not to think about him, but when I do, I can’t even believe all that he put me ( and our sons) through. It’s just astounding what an ass he was, to a wife who adored him, til I couldn’t take any more.

Ginger_Superpowers
Ginger_Superpowers
10 months ago

“One the mask slips, the abuse escalates”

I can’t emphasize this enough. There is no appeasing this black souled creatures. If you don’t have good legal representation, you will look like the crazy Ex and be treated with such condescension. Get out ASAP and get the best $$ settlement you can. It ends up being a financial transaction in the end.

KatiePig
KatiePig
10 months ago

I get where she’s coming from. But there were things she wasn’t considering because people don’t talk about them.
She’s thinking. Ok, I can get divorced and split custody of my kids or I can just put up with the fact that he screws Mabel. It’s not just putting up with him sleeping with her. There’s so much more!

It’s also getting every disease and infection that whore Mabel and cheating husband pick up from their many other partners because people who don’t care about being faithful aren’t faithful, not even to each other. So basically by staying a woman is taking on the sexual health risks of a drugged out truck stop prostitute who isn’t good about wearing condoms. It’s not a nice analogy but it’s fact. Maybe her and Mabel can be cancer buddies when their shared strain of HPV becomes cancer!

There’s also the very real risk that Mabel and hubby will get sick of her and decided it just makes more sense to them to off her for the life insurance. I mean, they may just say “Who cares? Mabel can raise the kids just as well as mom, they already like her and are used to her, so what’s the big deal?” Just get rid of her. it happens all the time.

Or maybe they’ll keep you as maid and mom and drain you dry like goddamn vampires for another 20 or so years AND THEN dump you. That’s a fun one. That’s basically my life. I do not recommend it. All the shit I did, kids I raised that weren’t fucking mine, taking on huge burdens while dealing with serious illness, all while getting laughed at behind my back by sociopaths who were using me. I think back to that first online affair. My son hadn’t started school yet. I should have left right then. I justified staying because it wasn’t in person. It was a mistake. I could have gone on to have a real marriage, a real family. But I blew it. Now I don’t get those things. That’s reality.

Wow
Wow
10 months ago
Reply to  KatiePig

“I could have gone on to have a real marriage, a real family. But I blew it. Now I don’t get those things.” I’m the same KP. My ex is off living it up with Schmoopie while I’m drained & too traumatized to go near another “I’m a good guy” lest he’s another poser.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
10 months ago
Reply to  Wow

I’ve decided to stay single. I just can’t deal with someone else’s drama. I’m very happy on my own. There’s no price to be put on peace and freedom, and I don’t have to worry about my son seeing any more abuse or having someone else disappear from his life.

Juniper
Juniper
10 months ago
Reply to  Wow

Same, Wow. Same.

Innocencelost
Innocencelost
10 months ago

I wish I had known about post-nups. My ex probably would have signed it. We went to counseling without it. As he once told me, “he had never been faithful to me during our entire relationship” so I could have made him pay me back for 9 wasted years. Plus the $ I spent on us. Sigh.

I hope SS made him put $ where his mouth is

Orlando
Orlando
10 months ago

My friend, K, told me that her brother was screwing around with a Schmoopie & he also just had a second baby like the OP. K called him “the last guy I ever thought would do that”. I really think marriage needs to be more of a contract & less like a ceremony. With Tinder, Ashley Madison types, etc., Chumps & their kids need more legal & financial protection.

Elsie
Elsie
10 months ago
Reply to  Orlando

I forget the exact quote, but someone said something along the lines that marriage is the most nuanced contract between two people that there is, but the vast majority of people marry without a clue about the contract they agreed to. My divorce took longer than dating/engagement and cost more than my wedding.

My adult kids know that I’ll pay for a proper prenup if they marry.

Dirty Water
Dirty Water
10 months ago
Reply to  Elsie

In my opinion as a cynical lawyer, a prenup is simply another document to litigate during divorce proceedings. I sincerely hope that neither of my daughters enters into a legal marriage; I’ve suggested they consider a commitment ceremony of whatever flavor they like, complete with a fancy (or not) dress and a big party. And to never move to a common law state.

ISawTheLight
ISawTheLight
10 months ago
Reply to  Dirty Water

I will never legally marry again. I will never share a bank account again (ex spent my money and my credit got trashed, since he was irresponsible). And in the very slim chance I have another relationship, that person is NOT going to be added to the deed/title of my home. I worked my ass off for my house, and I’m never going to be threatened with homelessness by another person again. I like the idea of a ceremony with no legal ramifications, if you want to make a public declaration of commitment.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
10 months ago

No one will ever convince me that cheating is about a cheater’s unhappiness. This story, like every story of cheating, disproves that ludicrous explanation.

Cheaters want fries AND vegetables with their entree. They want everybody dancing in a circle around them, including the dimwit affair partners.

This darling lady is so so devoted to her marriage and family, and needs to be on all cylinders and full power for that herculean task of raising two children, and that evil MF and his dimwit evil MF dirty secret side pieces are handicapping her, draining her energy, stealing her joy, kneecapping her, AND MINDFUCKING HER INTO STICKING AROUND, psychologically chaining her to the wall in a mental prison cell while they emotionally pistol whip the living daylights out of her and those children.

Don’t anyone ever try to tell me that cheaters care about the involved children either. Parents need to be on full power for the job. My psychology professor told us that “children need a superhuman amount of physical and emotional support.” I think that goes for parents too. Cheaters are evil energy vampires. They care about people around them and they care about children like a vampire cares about blood. They not only steal energy and joy from the chump but deprive the involved children of a full
power secure confident joyful parent.

They’re not unhappy. They are VERY happy fucking over other people, abusing them, hurting them. The only unhappiness I’ve ever seen displayed by a cheater is when their cake gets taken away.

I hope this lady put a stake in his heart and is now happy, joyous, and free.

❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
❤️ Velvet Hammer ❤️
10 months ago

Skip all the fancy euphemisms (wayward spouse, affair partner, blah blah). Call them what they are

MINDFUCKERS.

And remember that mindfuckers aren’t capable of love.

susie lee
susie lee
10 months ago

Yep, I hate that term wayward spouse. Like they innocently lost their way. Vicious back stabbers and their co conspirators in crime. It is never “just” sec, it is the co theft of finances, time, and another’s life.

Josh
Josh
10 months ago

The quicker you leave him, the faster you can start to live life on your terms. And yes, a whore will be around your kids unfortunately. I get a dead-beat, job quitting loser that gets to hang around mine cause he’s fun or something.

Adelante
Adelante
10 months ago

In my book a woman who has two small children and is still teaching a night class is mighty. I hope she was mighty enough to leave that marriage.

damnitfeelsbadtobeachumpster
damnitfeelsbadtobeachumpster
10 months ago

this letter makes me feel incredibly sad.

recently, i caught up with some old high school girlfriends and we reminisced about the “old days”. they all have romantic memories of a difficult time as a teen, in a difficult small town in the 80s. i, on the other hand, do not see the “old days” as particularly good, simply something i endured. i left as soon as i could. thank god for therapy.

the point is, i got out of a bad situation as soon as possible. and you, SS, will do so. for the sake of the teenaged girl buried in you, the one who laughed and fucked around and drove too fast down a windy road, get out of this marriage. you deserve so much better. and your kids deserve to know you happy.

Chumpolicious
Chumpolicious
10 months ago

Great advice from CL.

Yes, my FW was 80% charming, funny, successful, attractive, extroverted, romantic, seemed like a great husband and great dad. People thought we had a great relationship and women were envious. I thought we had a good relationship.

But once DDay hit, he went off the rails. Abusive behavior. I realize it was because of a loss of control, not because he truly cared about his family. He has zero capacity for empathy. He told me this himself from a personality test. When in RIC he got much better, why? Because the thought he had me under control again with love bombing.

His strategy was:
1- Get your spouse under control, with love bombing. Make her think you love her and are committed to her.
2- Lay low for awhile.
3- Go more underground with his affairs, use different platform for communication.

Eventually, any new affairs come to light. They start to get sloppy again leaving evidence because they feel safe. Or they decide to leave you for the AP. Or one of the AP’s gets upset, they want more out of it, so send a text or email to you, so you will kick out the cheater and they can go public with them.

But noone should fool themselves that they have a unicorn. Once a cheater always a cheater. We say this for a reason.

Chumpkins
Chumpkins
10 months ago
Reply to  Chumpolicious

I hope you got away sooner than later Chumpolicious

LovedAJackass
LovedAJackass
10 months ago

The greatest thing about the post-nup strategy, if a Chump does so with the help of their trusted lawyer, is that it’s saying: You say you’re sorry. You say you cut it off with Schmoopie. You want me to forgive you. What I want is a guarantee that if you disrespect and hurt me this way again, the kids and I are going to come out of this with a chance to be OK. You put full custody into the post-nap, plus occupancy of the house and enough child support to take care of the kids. Cheater gets visitation. I would also ask the lawyer to include the details of the affair in the post-nup to document for divorce attorneys that this isn’t Cheater’s first cheating rodeo.

Then watch and wait and hire the PI. There’s no fixing a guy who would do a getaway weekend with a mistress and leave his 9-months pregnant wife alone–or who invites the ho in to cuddle the newborn. He wants to stay married for two reasons: no child support or division of assets. OK, maybe 4 reasons: “I love my secret affair kibbles” and cake.

Roaring
Roaring
10 months ago

Post-nup! Such an excellent suggestion. I think these idiots use newborns/toddlers as bait, the way some people use their adorable puppies. I never hear about the Schmoopies fawning over the 13-year-olds. The good news is they rarely end up following through with much visitation anyway, so if one can just document it, things can change down the road.

P.S. How do these motherfuckers meet their One Twu Love in the time between conceiving the child with the wife and the child’s birth? And who are these idiots who shack up with a father of a NEWBORN? I will never understand this even after experiencing it myself.

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
10 months ago

SS! My first former husband, left me on the delivery room table! He got up from watching football to cut the cord after naming our baby girl after his OW. I kid you not.Bad news SS, your husband is a serial cheater. That’s like an alcoholic and it is not curable. It can only be 12 stepped for the rest of your husband’s life. He is truly disrespecting you to the core and he knows you can be played. How does that feel? You are of use that is all. He cannot love you. That seems harsh but HE. DOES. NOT. LOVE . YOU. He loves himself. He cannot truly love his babies either. He risked his family for his sexual satisfaction and selfish self centered life. As CLsays…that is who he is. There are always choices. You can freeze as you are doing, you can fawn as you do the pick me dance, you can run away…or you can fight. SS, you can fight now or you can fight later. But it will come to that unless you have allowed this loser of a man to take your spine and your life away. I’m sorry but CL is spot on. Are you making him use a condom? You need to protect yourself with STD or STI tests regularly. How do you like going to your OB- GYN for that every 6 months? This was my life and it will be your life! My STBXH gave me something for 2 years…it could have taken my life, all his affairs!! Don’t let that happen! If you are frozen, get that post nup anyway. He’s a lawyer, you must! My sister divorced her divorce attorney husband. You can too! Don’t stay beat down. My XH took my newborn after she was weaned, overnight. But he got tired of it and so did OW. All I can say is, get your big girl panties on now or later because if you love yourself at all, the pick me dance is demoralizing and a huge shame. You won’t stay like that very long. You can do this.Better now then later before he leaves you! Then you’ll get mad won’t you?

KB22
KB22
10 months ago

Please tell me you changed your daughter’s name. Ugh. All cheaters are disgusting but there are some that are beyond disgusting…that would be your husband and his OW

2xchump🚫again
2xchump🚫again
10 months ago
Reply to  KB22

No her name stayed. I didn’t find out for a few months when he was bragging. I felt like a surrogate mom for OW as she never could have kids. I’m over it all now, but I did save my dignity in the end

Nut Cluster Free Zone
Nut Cluster Free Zone
10 months ago
Reply to  KB22

I know, right ? 🤮

CBN
CBN
10 months ago

Ex-FW is a lawyer. Me too. My divorce lawyer thought he might be ethically required to turn ex-FW in to the bar after I told him about FW’s bigamy and his assault charge (he assaulted schmoopie). I didn’t want ex-FW in trouble with the bar because I wanted him to remain employed throughout the divorce, and beyond, for my own financial reasons. (We had a minor child, too.) I think my attorney found the potential conflict of interest with me if he turned FW in more ethically problematic than not turning him in, so he never did. Before you go after a FW, be sure that you’re not hurting yourself or your child.

Jo
Jo
10 months ago

Dear So Sad:
Run. Get away. As painful as it is to find out you’ve married a serial cheater and liar, it’s better to find out now after 5 years of marriage instead of 15 or 20 or 30 years like so many of us. Consider him your ‘stud’ – he contributed his seed for two beautiful sons. But, get out now. Don’t wait until he throws you to the curb or he gets you so upset you throw a wine glass at him and he and smoochiepie declare you an unfit mother as they walk away with full custody. Stay sane – stay strong – do not show your cards – do not let him drive you crazy – if you want to scream do it alone – do your best Academy Award performance – don’t show him your pain – trying to reason with a cheater is like trying to talk to a drunk – do not trust marriage counselors – although there’s a few good ones – most are nuts themselves. You’ll look back in a few years and say “wow, I did it….” Don’t ruin your entire life by staying. Take the hard and the high road now while you still have time – the view is much better from the top. Good luck and I’m so very sorry – but you are not alone.

Stephen
Stephen
10 months ago

Every time I read stories like this my heart breaks and I quit thinking my situation is bad. One of the benefits of this website is being able to benchmark my shit to other people’s shit. I am ecstatic that me and my lying cheater never had kids together. She did the kid thing with her first ex-husband. He’s been dealing with her bat shit crazy since before their kids were born, and 7 years after their divorce. I help her kids when I can and, as I’ve said before, if she just fucked me over I’d take what she did/does more personally. But she fucked her kids over worse than me; and because her first ex never took a hard stand with her she’s been able to continue to fuck them over with her crazy shit. That all said, if you want to do what is best for your children then simplifying their lives by eliminating the extra-drama is the best thing you can do for them. Every time you start thinking that your life sucks because of what he/she did remind yourself of how much damage your bat shit crazy ex has done to your kids. Your mission is to be the adult for them so that have at least one solid role model in their family. That’s the only way to minimize the damage to them as they grow up.

Little Wing
Little Wing
10 months ago

Be careful about staying. The costs to you and your children could be more than you could ever imagine.

My mother stayed. My parents were Catholics from an Eastern European country. (“Never leave your husband.” “Offer up your suffering for the redemption of sinners.”) They owned a business. But outside of the business, my mother had no real marketable skills. She could only see herself cleaning other people’s houses. My father was always diminishing and demeaning her. (But to the public, he was such a good ol’ Joe; a regular “hail fellow well met”.) My mother would swallow her anguish, and put on her “happy face” to the public. But she told me, over and over again, that it felt like she was eating her guts out. (When I was 23, she died from stomach cancer. She was 58 years old.)

I was my father’s darling daughter, and I could do no wrong in his eyes. I could have grown up to become a real brat. But as I got older (6 years old), I could see for myself how mean he was to her. So when I started sticking up for my mother, and taking her side against his, he turned on me. Viciously. Remorselessly. Relentlessly.

The public thought we were the family to envy. (Nice car. Nice vacations. Early retirement.) But they never saw the misery or the desolation.

The psychological damage took me decades to overcome. I think of myself as one of the walking wounded. (On good days, I like to imagine myself as being one of the “heroically well-adjusted”.)