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How do you deal?

Outtatime posted 5/16/2020 21:40 PM

This is my first post. First of all, I'd like to thank this community. You all have helped me through the last few months of hell by simply allowing me to read your posts and replies and feeling a little less alone. I've moved from just found out, to reconciliation and now, the divorce/seperation section. It's been quite a ride my STBXW has put me through.

D-day for me was end of Jan. Tried R for 2 months, but WW had some sort of radical change of heart (was R too hard? Could she not handle the shame? Did she just plain and simple choose AP?... Probably the latter) and its been full steam ahead on the D train since.

We have 2 kids, 7 and 3. Our family was happy and they will be devastated to lose their family life, as I am. She will be moving out shortly and I'm lucky enough to be able to keep our home. I work in a demanding job and she was a stay at home mom.

We've done the legal groundwork and our legal/financial arrangements are essentially done and are reasonable and fair.

Though I'm devastated, confidence shattered and ego severely bruised, I'm swallowing as much as I can just to keep it civil in front of the kids and while we finalize our arrangements. We've been seperated (and in isolation) in the same house for 6 weeks now.

We will be telling the kids soon and I'm seriously dreading that convo. Where do you find the strength to say that this is a mutual decision and the right thing for our family when really its not. I guess at this point, I wouldn't go back to R anyway based on the classless way my STBXW has given up on us and threw her family away for her AP. Complete disregard for me during the A and now, again after. So I guess now this is the best thing for our family anyway? I just feel that my kids and I are victims here and I hate having to lie to them. I'm sure I'll find the strength because it's what is needed for them...

I'm also having serious concerns about the AP's potential future involvement with my kids. Though STBXW has promised that it wouldn't happen for a long time... Yeah right?! So how does that work? Am I supposed to just keep this secret forever of how this came about? Have my kids come talk to me about this guy and pretend? I don't think I can live like that.

I run my own business and we are an essential service. Work is absolutely crazy these days. So now STBXW is taking off and we're heading right into 50/50 custody. There's no school or daycare available and I can't be replaced at work. I have family that can help but I hesitate to involve them because they are a high risk age group for covid and my kids will spend half time with their mom who will, obviously, be exposing herself (lol, no pun intended) to others. So I don't really know how I'll be able to be there for my kids in this critical moment while doing what is needed for my business.

I know a lot of people are going through a lot of bad stuff right now. My situation could be worse and there is worse out there. I just don't know how to handle all this anymore. I don't trust my STBXW's judgement anymore and I don't respect her anymore. I feel the need to be the mature, stable one for our kids. But with everything stacking up against me, I'm worried about my ability to be that person.

betrayedafter20 posted 5/16/2020 23:09 PM


There are so many pieces in your first post to address and I am newer here (my last DDay was February 20th) so I am experiencing a lot of the same things.

I want you to know first and foremost that you have been heard and are validated. Your situation sounds SO painful and difficult and with two littles, I can't imagine.

I could address each of your dilemmas - but I will just address IMO the most difficult one - the telling of the kids. Mine are teenagers now so the process of telling them was excruciating - I literally threw up the morning before. BUT I will say it will be easier for you to breathe after that part it done - believe me it will feel better when you get that part behind and you can focus on the rest of it - for me, at least, it was all-consuming.

Something that was helpful and I even posted on here about it - I wrote a script that WH and I went over and we also had our IC's review. Honestly, though, the most valuable input I received about how to handle it was from peeps on this forum - they reviewed my scripts (I did four versions and kept re-doing it) and helped me navigate how to not take too much ownership of why it was happening..AND to not be too wordy - all the while benefitting from the the experience of others here whom had been in that place.

In any event I don't know if you want to go that far but to write out what you might say is very helpful so you can look over it and decide what you really want them to recieve.

Succinct and to the point but truth is absolutely important - "I did my best to honor your mom and this is not my choice but God allows us to separate when vows are broken and unfortunately that is what has happened"

focus on "we are both your parents and will continue to support and love you but to best do this we must live in separate places to keep you comfortable and emotionally safe from our disagreements"

"We love each other but we also decided together that this is best for all of us and while change is difficult we will all work together as a family to get through it"

Those are just a few words we used. I am fortunate because my WH is committed to doing right by the kids so he kind of went along with what I decided. IDK how much ownership your WW will take but thankfully after a few conversations my selfish WH managed to muster up enough confidence to understand that for his relationship to be saved with the kids he had to own his part and let them know he made mistakes that ultimately led to the demise.

I was also advised that (and your kids are MUCH younger), however - they need to know that fighting is not a reason to give up on marriage - but breaking of vows is not an acceptable behavior in marriage and that is why it is happening.

So, so sorry you have all this going on. I know it can be so difficult to concentrate on work when all this is going on - you seem like a healthy dad that can do this - it will be hard, but you got it.

For me, and I hope the same for you - once the conversation has been had with the kids - you will feel tremendous relief and be able to navigate more with a clear head through the logistics. They are surprisingly resilient.

check in with the kiddos regularly after the convo. Their emotions will move differently and exhibit themselves randomly. I got nothing the first day but now as the weeks go on I am getting tidbits of helpful feedback. Most of which, BTW, has been reassuring that we are making the right choice.

Wishing you the best. keep posting it will help you through this!

Phoenix1 posted 5/17/2020 01:13 AM

Welcome, Outtatime, to the best club no one ever wants to join.

Betrayedafter20 gave some good suggestions. However, I am a firm believer in giving kids age appropriate truth. Don't ever lie to your kids. If they discover later that you did, they may well resent you for it.

Now, your kids are very young. The 3 yr old is likely too young to understand much, but your 7 yr old can certainly understand something like "married people make promises to each other (vows) and mommy broke her promise so we cannot be married anymore." Of course, follow with you both love them, not their fault, etc. The important thing is no lies, no matter how you phrase it. It is not your responsibility to make your WW look good for the kids by covering for her. That also doesn't mean trash talking mom in front of them. You can still effectively co-parent without lying to the kids.

My kids were much older (youngest was 16) when the proverbial shit hit the fan. I told Xhole straight out I would never lie to our kids to cover for him or continue his phony image. If they asked a question, I answered honestly.

Also, be prepared for the possibility of more questions as time goes by and your 7 yr old starts to process things. A response down the road that "mommy had a boyfriend and married people aren't supposed to do that" is, again, honest and age appropriate.

Getting IC if the kids are struggling might help as well so there is an objective third party helping them.

This is a hard road, but it does get better in time. There are, unfortunately, no short cuts. We will walk with you every step so keep posting!

messyleslie posted 5/17/2020 01:24 AM

I have a 7 and a just turned 4 YO. Their reactions have been exponentially better than I expected. I have a 9 YO too and hers has been harder and rougher - but in my situation itís compounded with some mental health issues with me WH and she sees me upset and knows itís because her dad is being horrible to me, and she also saw some outbursts and episodes that were scary and horrible.

My 4 and 7 YOs were really like okay. My WH moved out when they were 3 and 6 and my 3 year old will ask where he is sometimes and wondered where he was sleeping but in all honesty I donít think he will even remember him ever living here. My 7 YO was okay with him moving out but was sad when I told him it was permanent. He asked some questions about when he could see him and felt better once he knew it didnít mean that he wouldnít see his dad anymore.

I think I said something like (and more related to my specific situation) - daddyís heart loves you and our entire family but his brain is sick and makes it hard for it to match up to his heart so sometimes it hard for him to make choices that show us how much he loves us. And when people get married they make promises to each other and daddy hasnít been able to keep his promises because his choices are matching with his heart. Because of that mommy and daddy are not going to be married and be husband and wife anymore. We will still be your mom and dad and we will always be family, just not in the same house.

Then I listed all the things that would stay the same - even little things like we will still do pizza night and you will still go to the same school and you will sleep here every night and we will get to still take a beach vacation in the summer etc.

I focused on what would be the same and the definites. Since you guys already have a plan that will help.

I also told all my kids that I was really sad about it and that I wished that this didnít have to happen to our family and that it was okay to be sad about it too and even though I was sad I also knew we would be okay and that there was some really great things in store for us.

I told my kids by myself though - my wh sort of refused to be a part of the conversation and I didnít trust that he wouldnít get really emotional plus my dd was dealing with some anger towards him and I didnít think she would be honest about her feelings in front of him.

I told each of my kids separately and then made space to spend extra time with them that evening and day.

Also I think we think the conversation is going to be this big thing but I donít think it needs to be - And remember that it shouldnít be a one and done, they will obviously need to process and circle back and make it an ongoing conversation.

FuturewasStolen posted 5/17/2020 08:23 AM

Hi Outtatime

First of all, Iím so sorry youíre here. No one wants to be here. But there are some amazing people here who will share their stories with you and help give you strength.

You are already doing so well!! You have R a chance, which I think is admirable. I myself have three young kids (3, 2, 6 months) with my XWH and I wanted to try R too. Itís hard to let go of the future you pictured and accept that your kids wonít have both parents in the same house. But as soon as that didnít work for you, you filed for D! You didnít do the pick me dance, you didnít waver and beg. You took action and showed your strength!! You are a rockstar!!

My own DDay was only the end of February so Iím also pretty new to all of this. I will just tell you what we told our 3 year old when Dad moved out. We wanted to keep it age appropriate. We pulled him aside and we talked about how him and his brother sleep in their room, his other brother sleeps in his room, how mom sleeps in moms room, and then told him that now Dad is going to sleep at Dads house. That this is now the boys and Moms house, and Dad sleeps at Dads house, but hell still see him all the time and still loves him. It seemed to be enough that my son understood. So far heís been dealing with it all pretty well. Heís a little extra emotional and more easily frustrated, and has had a few extra meltdowns. But pretty soon itíll be his new normal. And the younger two will never know anything else. It breaks my heart, but itís probably easier on them that way.

I am also concerned about XWH bringing my kids around AP. Although in my case theyíve already broken up (for now), even though they were ďin loveĒ. XWH has already moved on to other women, texting them right in front of me. We had a conversation about not introducing anyone to the kids unless theyíre around for at least 6 months and a serious relationship, and weíd talk about before it happened. BUT can I really trust him to keep his word on this? Iím not sure. The best I can do is try to get him to understand that itís for the kids well-being. They are already going through so much change and they donít need to be confused further by seeing a new person around. Clearly XWH doesnít care about my pain, but I hope he cares about the kids.

I would also tell you to lean on family and friends when you have to. Yes, itís extremely hard to ask for and accept help. We want to do this on our own! But family and friends love you and sincerely want to help you through this. I have been blown away by some of the support I have received.

Hang in there, you will get through this. You are so strong already!!

Marz posted 5/17/2020 10:09 AM

We will be telling the kids soon and I'm seriously dreading that convo. Where do you find the strength to say that this is a mutual decision and the right thing for our family when really its not

Find the strength to tell them the truth in a sanitized way.
Lying to them is the easy way out. Wonít get you much long term.

I just feel that my kids and I are victims here and I hate having to lie to them. I'm sure I'll find the strength because it's what is needed for them...

You kids need one parent thatís honest.

[This message edited by Marz at 10:11 AM, May 17th (Sunday)]

Okokok posted 5/17/2020 12:34 PM

I had kids at almost the exact same age that yours are when it came time for separation/divorce. My oldest was 7 at the time. He needed his own very separate conversation from the younger two. Yours will, too.

I agree about being honest. At the same time, in no way do I support any sort of full-on disclosure about what happened. Impossible for a 7yo to process, as I'm sure you're already quite aware.

We (let's just say *I*, since I did 95% of the reading) read a few books before disclosing and explaining to him. I wish I could remember exactly which ones and what sections were most helpful, but it's been a few years. I'd recommend you get a book or two. I'm positive one of them was "The Co-Parenting Handbook."

Our approach was this:

1) Figure out who would say what and what we would say.

2) Limit it all to a few standard points so as not to overwhelm him.

3) Prepare to spend the bulk of time after initial disclosure of separation/divorce comforting, reassuring, and answering questions. Prepare for what those questions and answers might be.

As for how much "truth" to tell him, and what our major points were? Our go-to lines were:

1) Mom and Dad discovered that we can't love each other the way married people are supposed to.

2) We are still your parents, and we still love you very much, and we're still 100% here for you.

3) Things are going to change, but that will not change how much you're loved and cared for.

I still stand very strongly by that approach, for my kid and my situation. No matter how much I hear it here, I cannot fathom talking to him about broken promises, broken trust, broken vows, or one parent ruining things. For me/us, that would not have been appropriate.

He inevitably had a million and one questions, both in the moment and beyond. He was shocked, sad, angry, and worried.

Some common questions and answers for us (obviously there was more nuance and more talk, but hopefully you get the gist):

Q: Why? Why are you doing this?

A: We have found that we can't love each other the way that married people are supposed to, and we can't do the things that married people are supposed to do.

Q: Do you still love Mom/Dad?

A: I love that she's your mom. There are so many awesome things about your mom!

Q: What exactly happened to make you do this? Can't you just work on not fighting anymore?

A: Those are really grown-up problems, and they are for grown-ups to deal with. You're an awesome kid, and you should worry about kid things!


The real work came after this, of course. For years, up until the present day, my son has asked questions. These are still my go-to. For so many reasons that are relevant to my situation, but I also think are kinda universal.

To be clear: I have never lied to him; I agree with the others that there should absolutely be no lying. But there are tactful, kid-friendly ways to be honest without disclosing things that aren't appropriate for them. And there's probably a bit of a spectrum for what's appropriate depending on age and circumstances.

I'm also having serious concerns about the AP's potential future involvement with my kids. Though STBXW has promised that it wouldn't happen for a long time...

This is the hardest part. I have no idea what your situation is with this AP, but in my case, he was a super weird dude. Absolutely sucked, and yeah, exWW broke our agreement (at least 6 months before any new love interests were introduced to kids, and *even then* not without discussion) within about a month. She claimed she "forgot" about our agreement. She also said it didn't really count anyway, as AP was really just a "friend" and introduced to the kids as such.

Your stbxWW will likely pull the same stunts. Sorry, but you want to prepare for that.

The truth is, no matter how shitty it is, unless you can prove that AP is somehow dangerous (a sex offender or something), or unless you have some ironclad legal separation agreement with very clear rules related to this, you really have *no* say over who WW does or doesn't let around your kids. Sadly, she can do anything she wants as long as it's legally "safe."

A very shitty reality. I'm sorry. I walked the same walk. I can (and do) promise you that it gets better and you will realize over time the amount of control you *do* have, but I recognize that these are not comforting words at this point in your process. I just hope you have some trust that you are still Dad, capital D, and that will not change in any way post-separation.

It also goes without saying that this AP, whoever he is, is not likely to stick around for the long haul...but that's probably a conversation for another day.

As to your other issues, including stbxWW's shitty boundaries and the incredible amount you're going to be juggling: you're probably going to have to go into hyperdrive for a while.

It's true: you *are* the stable, good parent. So as awful as it is, you need to be the one putting in the hard work. You're going to do it for the sake of your little ones, especially because this is going to be a difficult time for them, too.

Do you have the ability to start a network of safe babysitters with driver's licenses? I'd start talking to two or three if you can (again, recognizing that COVID complicates this).

Tough spot. I get it. I'm sorry. When you can, maybe post your whole story? Could help some.

We're here with you all the way.

[This message edited by Okokok at 6:28 PM, May 17th (Sunday)]

Outtatime posted 5/18/2020 15:07 PM

Thank you all for your replies. Your support is invaluable to me.

The telling the kids part is going down tomorrow. I'm dreading it but, I'm comforted by you all who have been there and saying it does get better after. Though no 2 situations are identical, every one of your replies provided insights that helped me and I am grateful to you.

I see the actual talk like a tightrope walk: I can't lie, can't take responsibility but also don't want to completely throw my stbxww under the bus. Though it'd be deserved, I feel that my 7 year old is still not at the point where she can understand all the nuance. If kids were older, it would be a different call.

I feel that with what we're about to go through, my kids need their mom too and though she's not fully "there" for them now (she's a good mom who loves them, she's just in very "self thinking" time right now and going through a life rebuild), I don't think it's impossible that her "presence" as their mom improves once the paths will split and she'll have some time on her own to stabilize herself.

I don't want to hinder that recovery as their mom by putting the burden of blame on her - I don't think it's worth it because the kids won't really understand anyway. One day though... They might. I think this is a time in my life where i play the long term game.

My stbxww went from what we all thought was "herself" to a much more selfish person. Obviously having an A in the first place. But even after, how she handled the last few months leading to now, exposed some deep character flaws and she is now someone I could never love. My only concern now is how is she as a mother and she is a good caring mother. I hope she will continue to be one.

She's very soon going through multiple radical changes all at once: divorce, moving into an apartment (living on her own for the 1st time of her life), she secured a job starting later in summer (was stay at home 5 of the last 7 years) and of course her "new" relationship. Oh, and Covid of course. With a 7 and 3 year old.

I expect the next little while will be very busy for her.... But also critical for her and, by association, our kids.

I will watch from a distance to ensure my kids are ok. The way i see it, the only thing for me to do is to be in Dad mode (capital D) and focus on stabilizing and then rebuilding my life. Logistics will be tough, but I like the term "hyperdrive" that was suggested.

HalfTime2017 posted 5/18/2020 15:32 PM

OT: you come to the right place. You sound very resilient, and I believe your head is in the right place.

My WW was the same as yours. Things were going well, and this selfish side of her shows up, and its all about her living her life b/c somehow time is running out. The truth is, their low self esteem and selfishness pushes them into this behavior, thinking their waning beauty is limited, not realizing that its not that at all, but being a good mom, and a good person.

All that doesn't matter much anymore, b/c you're going down the D train. I have 2 kids as well, just a little older than yours when this all went down. Mine were 7 and 9 at the time. I'd advise you not to lie to them like Marz said. Just sanitize the truth, and be the one parent that they can always count on to tell them the truth. You want to be that parent. Your exWW is going to be the one that lies to them, and they need to know that Dad is always going to be honest with them even when the situation is messy. Life is messy, but we all learn and live past this messiness. Be that Dad that they can count on. Your 7 yr old is old enough to know that there is some other Fuck coming around, and don't be surprised if your WW hasn't already introduced them to the AP.

My WW said the same thing, but then I found out that she was taking my kids to see her AP. His wife was trying to confront my wife at a block party. You WW can't be trusted, any and all coming out of her mouth should be assumed to be a lie.

I'm 3 yrs out now, and my kids have adjusted for the most part. They are doing well, and I've met an amazing women. I can stand here with my head held high knowing I did the right thing, and I was always a solid rock for the kids, and they know Dad never lied to them. Its still pretty new to you, but the further out you go, you'll see that it was the correct decision to D. She's not remorseful and probably did a bunch of shitty things after D-Day. That usually causes even more trauma than coming out and being honest. My WW also ran to her AP, and his wife was pregnant at the time. Talk about a shitty home wrecker. Don't keep her secret for her. Its not your job to live her lie. It takes way to much work to lie, as you know. You continue to live an honest life and let her deal with the fallout from her shitty choices.

As for the daycare situation, I'd say this. Your kids are going thru a lot right now. Family is always best. Have a discussion with your family member about their comfort level during COVID, but it'll be better for your kids to be with family. Just make sure that everyone is washing hands and doing the right things. Your family will want to be there for your kids too. It will be the best situation for them and the safest.

Okokok posted 5/18/2020 18:51 PM

Outtatime, your last post is brilliant and I really think you're in the right place mentally for this. Your approach is a good one, and for the right reasons.

I think tomorrow will go down in history as one of your greatest shows of strength as a man. Hug those little ones and be right in it with them.

Wishing you good luck.

Braveyogi posted 5/18/2020 19:49 PM

You've gotten some wonderful advice and suggestions and as someone else mentioned, it sounds like you are strong and clear headed about this situation despite the enormous wrenching pain.

I've been divorced 3 years and we separated 4 years ago, so I have some perspective. My son at the time of the separation was 7 and my daughter was 1, so similar in age to your kiddos.

- this will be an ongoing conversation with your kids over the next several years. yes, the initial conversation is critical and it sounds like you are being very wise to walk that difficult tightrope. Know that your kids may randomly ask you and/or your STBXWW questions about your marriage and the divorce, this is not a one and done conversation. Even after several years, my son still asks me about what happened and why.

- I agree with the others about telling the truth in an age appropriate way and what you said about avoiding throwing your STBXWW under the bus. Maintain your own integrity in the face of the massive, chaotic sh*tshow.
Given the lack of integrity your STBXWW has shown, it is possible she may paint an entirely different picture of what went down between you two - be prepared to be thrown under the bus someday by her or to have her narrative quite different than yours. Stay the course, your actions toward your kids (being the capital D dad!!) and others in your life, including how you talk about your STBXWW will speak volumes and cultivate a sense of trust and safety for your kids.

- Be sure you have an outlet for your feelings during this time - in house separation during infidelity and divorce is a special kind of hell. Post here, go to a divorce support group, or virtual counseling. Although you sound amazingly strong and capable, know that this situation can be gutting and throw all kinds of emotional curve balls your way. This is TOTALLY NORMAL and means you really love/d her and are losing something you valued. It sounds like you are very busy with work now so it's especially important that you find some time to take care of yourself - working out, relaxing/meditating, reading, talking with friends.

- Hang in there...it does get better.


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