Post # 1
Bees, I have a bit of an ethical dilemma on my hands.
My husband caught his first wife in bed with another guy about 10 years ago. She played a messed up, manipulative game for the next couple of years trying to get him to become more like her AP in order to “win back” her affections and she eventually moved out to be with Mr. Sparkledick. I am so glad that he decided not to continue chasing her. He and I met, dated, and have been married for about a year now and it seems like everyone is better off for it.
The trouble is that she’s hell-bent on never letting their son find out that she had an affair. Telling this story is absolutely forbidden, especially now that she and Mr. SD didn’t work out and she has even pursued my husband a few times since their breakup. If she wanted to save face with some generic story about how they grew apart or whatever–and if my husband were on board with that–it would be all good. But she’s pushing this narrative that he was the cheater and that I broke up their marriage. My stepson is standoffish toward me (understandably so) and I have reason to believe that she’s told this story to several of her friends who work with me.
On one hand, it would not be cool for me to divulge intimate details of someone else’s marriage. On the other hand, it’s significantly more uncool for her to fuck up my reputation at work and my attempts to build a relationship with my stepson, who believes I’m the awful bitch who broke up his home. What makes it even more awkward is that, although she’s made it clear that this is her story and she’s sticking to it, no one has actually had the cojones to confront me about it and give me an opportunity to tell the truth. At what point, exactly, would you casually work these facts into everyday conversation?
What would you do in this situation? I am trying to be sensitive to their son’s feelings and not sabotage his relationship with his mother, but I’m sick of taking the fall for this.
Post # 2
I think the rules go out the window when she started slandering you. I’d tell your husband to talk to his son. That should come from him. In regards to your coworkers I’d just be upfront and ask them what was said and tell them that that is not truthful and you’d appreciate it if they’d stop spreading rumors. If they want illicit stories about cheating they can go ask the ex wife about her affair.
Post # 3
Honestly I would just let it be as far as colleagues go. Anyone actually interested in more than rumours and who is a nice person would probably tell you that there is office gossip about you. Anyone else, aka malacious gossips, is not worth your time and worry. If anyone does ask you then tell the truth- they broke up in (insert year) and you met him (insert year) and had nothing to do with their pre-exisiting marital problems. No need to bring up her infidelity unless you want to.
As for the son. Well there is little you can do. However you partner can talk to his son about his marriage breakdown and also address any behavioural issues towards you at the same time. Again no need to bring up her infidelity. If he lives with mum then he is probably going to be biased anyway with thinking dad abandoned him.
Unfortunately people who gossip are terrible people who don’t give a shit about the truth or other’s feelings. They thrive off others misery and misfortune. You can’t change them, only they can do that. Don’t fall down to their level.
Post # 4
j_jaye : This perspective, especially the last paragraph, is really helpful. It’s good to be reminded that some people are sensible enough to not believe everything they hear.
I think that on some level, though, the gossip is actually having a concrete impact on my life. I am in a new career field and in this job—as well as my old one—character matters. In a highly technical field, skills might supersede personality, but here, integrity, trustworthiness, and morality are part of the package of you want to be taken seriously. I know for a fact that I have lost out on at least one promotion at my old job because she told my would-be boss that I’m a home wrecker. The problem is that no one comes to me about this. They just give me dirty looks and it’s pretty weird to just blurt out, “Actually, we got together a long time after they split up!” apropos of nothing.
Post # 5
aclockworklilac : Well honestly I would find a new job. If integrity, trustworthiness and morality are so important to the job then why are they participating in and believing gossip? Talking behind someone’s back and believing gossip rather than asking the person direct (if morality matters so much) doesn’t show much integrity or morality.
I would ask for feedback on why you got passed over for promotion. You can address it in the meeting with your boss if it is indeed because of gossip. You could also ask to meet with your boss or HR regarding the gossip. Gossiping is a form of work place bullying, especially if it can effect the outcome of promotions. If this business is truly concerned about integrity, trustworthiness and morality then this should be of concern for them.
Post # 6
There is always a way to work into a conversation about how long your husband was single before you met him.
My husband left me for a woman who, at minimum, he was having an emotional affair with. My children do NOT know, nor will they. 7 years later and I know I made the right choice. We are adults. I can stand quite a bit to make sure my children have a good relationship with me, my ex, and his SO.
I realize she MAY be telling this story to people, but your number 1 goal should be to make sure YOU don’t mess up your step son’s emotional attachment to anyone. He’s a child and doesn’t have the emotional maturity you do.
So just work your story into conversations when you can, without being confrontational, and move on.
Post # 7
Oh hell no!
I would absolutely divulge the truth in this case. The ex wife sounds manipulative, rude and selfish and should be exposed for her actions rather than conjuring a story that someone else is at fault. I would even explain to people and her son that she’s tried to crawl back to her ex after he’s happily remarried. Though I would have the father explain to the son, for anything you say would be taken with a grain of salt. (Speaking from expierence of being a step daughter, I wouldn’t believe my step mother if she were to say something like that about my own mother.)
Post # 8
My ex husband cheated and left when my daughter was 3, so of course she has no memories of what went down. Years later, she was under the (mistaken) impression that my new husband was the reason my first marriage broke up. I simply clarified for her saying “you do know I didn’t meet 2nd-husband until a year after your dad and I split up, right?” Factual, no mud slinging. She is 15 now and has asked me more direct questions, which I feel I can answer with more honesty- although she still doesn’t need to know all the details. Just how small is your town that she keeps talking to people associated with your husbabnd’s ex?
Post # 9
I would have one line to say to anyone that this came up with. “Ask her about Sparkledick.”
Then I would leave it at all.
Post # 10
aclockworklilac : how old is the son?
I think its important for people who’s parents are divorced know exactly why they divorced from a factual standpoint. If he’s over 14, let’s say, i would encourage your husband (not you) to explain what happened between them to his son in a more G rated, non judgmental, non mudslinging way.
Kids learn how to have healthy relationships from the people around them. If your husband wants to set a good example, i think it is best to be honest about what happened bc lying about it will only do more damage in the long run.
Post # 11
I believe that’s slander what she’s doing…. especially if it’s affecting your workplace environment. I’d engage a solicitor. Also people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones, I’m sure not everyone’s love life around you is perfect either! I bet a number of your colleagues have been in actual unsavoury situations, not just being falsely accused like yourself.
Has your husband not tried to explain this to your step-son? Surely he wouldn’t want you to be ridiculed in this way?
Otherwise I would stick to statements that only involve you and your husband such as, “I didn’t meet your father until x amount of time after he split up with your mother…” That’s not telling him anything about her misgivings but he’s 14, he will understand how that doesn’t quite add up.
Post # 12
How does she have all this access to your employers and co-workers? This is strange.
Post # 13
How is she involved with your workplace?
If you truly believe that her rumours are the reason or part of the reason you’ve been passed up for opportunities, you need to schedule a meeting with HR and report that. Tell them that a person from your personal life has been spreading malicious and untrue gossip about you and that you are concerned that gossip has made its way into the workplace and impacted your career growth. Once it is on record it will need to be addressed in one way or another, and that will give you the opportunity to give your side of the story to whomever you feel you need to and would like to. I don’t think it is necessary to divulge the affair she had – that might actually make you look malicious and give people the impression you’re trying to get back at her. I’d just lay out the timeline of their divorce and your relationship and that there was no overlap. Taking the high road and only divulging the details that are relevant to YOUR relationship makes you look like the more truthful party.
I’m really sorry you are being treated this way. It is totally unfair. I hope that she will realise the damage she is doing to her son by acting in this way. As for how to deal with the stepson, I agree with PPs that it needs to be your husband who talks to him about the divorce, your relationship and whatever other details he feels your son needs to know. I would encourage him not to sling mud at the ex-wife, as hard as that is, and leave her affair out of it. But he should tell his son that the divorce was not as amicable as he would have liked and that the things his mother is saying about you are both untrue and coming from a place of anger. The older the kid is, the more candid he can be about the way emotions can run high in a divorce.
Post # 14
I also don’t get how she seems to know where you work and all your coworkers at not just one but two different jobs.
I also find it hard to believe that someone would be passed up for a promotion solely because they had an affair in their personal life so it’s interesting that you know this for certain. Who told you this was why you didn’t get a promotion?
Post # 15
How old is the kid?
Any truth needs to come from your husband, not you.
I also think this is close to parental alienation. I’d talk to a lawyer.