Our heart breaks for those who have been the unwitting victims of a cheating spouse. It's hard to be blindsided by something so horrible with zero warning.
u/imnotfromomaha told us her story:
My Dad [M 43] cheated on my mom [F 43] - and my mom and I [M 19] found out because he sent an email meant for his new GF to us.
This a bit surreal for me so I apologize in advance for my emotion in this post.
I - along with my mom - discovered that my dad was cheating on her because he accidentally sent a message meant for his new girlfriend in an email to my mom and me. (What a fucking idiot, I know.)
As my parents have always fought, I guess I expected a divorce (I'm 19, no siblings, and they've been married 20 years), but I never thought about cheating. This is especially hard for me because I am close to my dad - he is my role model and one of the best friends - but this is so two-faced it gives me stomaches. Additionally, I am not very close with my mom.
The hardest part is that the email said that he "just got away" from my mom and me so he could meet up. In other words, he chose this person over being with me (and my mom) this weekend. I leave for sophomore year of college this weekend so to hear that he didn't want to be with me is extremely painful, and unexpected.
I'm writing because I need advice:
- How to approach my dad - right now I have no plans to talk to him, at least for a while. My mom - who I want to support in this especially difficult time for her - wants me to give him the silent treatment but tomorrow (before I leave) wants me to say all these things about how he lied to us, etc. she wants to keep the marriage, I'm 99% sure my dad wants to get a divorce. My mom believes that if I say the right things that make him reflect, he'll realize he's missing out on family things, repent, change, and come back. Personally, even though I think a divorce is solidified, I owe it to my mom to support her.
- How to approach topic with friends - my mom doesn't want me to tell anybody because I don't think anyone in our community would expect this, and as a result it'd become nothing but gossip and embarrassing. I have close friends that I certainly trust, but I'm worried that 10 years from now at my wedding or family events they'll see my dad and presumably new wife with such disgust. I don't want to be known as the kid with a dad that cheated on his mom, but I feel like I have to tell some people. I know my friends will support me, I just don't want them to look at my dad so negatively. He is an amazing father (except this does break my respect for him), just a bad spouse.
To all those who say my dad is not the villain: since when is cheating a way out? he could have just ended things. I appreciate trying to see his perspective but lying to me, avoiding time with me while I'm home for new girlfriend? Fuck.
TL;DR: My Dad cheated on my mom. My mom and I both found out in horrible way and know I want to know how to approach my dad and if I should tell my friends.
Here was some of the advice he got.
My mom believes that if I say the right things that
Oh God. No. This thinking is highly emotional, which is fair. But, it is not reality. Just nod until she clears her head. But, forget all that.
You are right, this is your family, and ramifications could last decades. So, even though you love your friends, I don't think you need to rush the cat out of the bag. I think you should get a counsellor. You need someone to talk to, end of. Get a pro to help you unload. Your friends don't benefit and aren't qualified to help in that regard anyway. No need to stress them out..
If you want to tell your friends, that's up to you. This is something that happened to you, nobody owns it. You can. But, you should honestly wait until you process it with a counsellor first. That way you don't go off sounding irrational like your mom, talking at the highest emotional time. That kind of stuff is hard for your friends. They can't tell you that you are wrong. They can't stop of you from doing things that will be bad for you...
You get it.. get a pro. That's going to guide points one, two, and help you through the list that grows from there.
I think your mom is putting you in an awkward position by asking you to influence your dad's decision regarding their marriage. Their marriage is their business and they need to sort it out between themselves and decide what to do next. Putting you in the middle of that is unfair.
If I were you I would concern yourself with your relationship with your dad as a completely separate thing from their marriage. You have every right to be upset and he has amends to make with you. Hopefully in time this will happen.
In the meantime, if you feel you need support, maybe identify a couple of close friends to talk this through with. Hopefully as your friends they will provide support without judgement.
No no no!!! Do not get between your parents on this one, their marriage is their business. You should t be asked to "say the right words" and win him back for her. If she wants to save the marriage, she needs to do it herself, and take responsibility for the things she did that have made the marriage bad as well, it will likely take couples therapy, but even you can see that it's over.
IF you talk to your dad, talk to him about it's impact on YOU. Tell him you feel like he had to escape you, and that he should have done this the right way instead of being a shameful cheater.
I went through something very similar to what you are describing- closer to my dad, dad cheated on mom during sophomore year of college, ditched us to talk to gf, mom emotionally manipulating me/putting me in the middle, etc. I cannot recommend counseling enough to give you the coping skills to get through this. I used my college's counseling services and it was a godsend.
- You cannot be the one to support your mom. She needs to find support elsewhere. You are going through your own grieving process through all of this and she is going to need a LOT more support than you are capable of providing.
- Tell your friends. I waited because my friends all loved my dad and I didn't want to taint their relationship with him or view of him. I wish I had told them sooner to help myself accept it sooner. You have nothing to be ashamed of, you did nothing wrong. I am telling you this as someone ten years on the other side of this incident, nobody will view you differently for your dad's actions.
PM me if you want to talk. I'm so sorry this is happening to you. Things will get better, hang in there.
I want to write my dad a letter and tell him he hurt me. But I'm scared I'lll come across as too emotional.
"Too emotional" isn't really a thing. This is an emotional situation and you have every right to feel how you feel about it.
Sit down and write out however many letters you need to. Decide after they're written if you want to send them.
Don't feel pressure to say things to help your mom or keep the family together. Your mom and dad's relationship is between them and they're the ones to work it out. As for not telling anyone; does your college offer any counseling services?
It's strange to me that he accidentally sent it to two people vs the mistress. It may still be unintentional but it's less likely to me. Could it be that they decided in the past to stay together until you were an adult and your mom wants to delay the divorce because she hopes to change his mind? Sending the email to you both would force her hand by informing you about the situation in an explosive way that's not easily ignored.
It's magical thinking that someone can say the right words to make the situation okay. The only thing that you might be able to do is to guilt him into staying in a relationship where he's unhappy. That's not fair to anyone. I would talk honestly to him about how you feel and ask questions to understand him. You can make the case for him staying with your mom if you still want to, but you need to understand that if the relationship between your parents is broken you cannot fix it.
I think you should cut your mom some slack. Don't do what she is telling you! But I wouldn't hold what she is doing against her either. Right now she is in free fall and not thinking straight at all.
Again - do not do what she wants. It is not your place to mediate your parent's marriage. They will figure it out on their own. I would recommend you advising your mom to confide in her friends, perhaps start seeing a counselor. Advise her to NOT sign anything from your dad until she has a lawyer look it over.
I'm sorry - but cheaters do not play fair during a divorce anymore then they played fair during their marriage. Protect your mother by insisting she get a lawyer.
Your dad is still your dad. You love him but now it is complicated. This is going to be rough. I hope you take advantage of counseling provided by your university. Learn how to enforce boundaries with both parents.
Understand though, that you are completely justified in your feelings towards your dad. You may eventually want to confront him about this - and that is your right. Don't be guilted into accepting his mistress. Don't be surprised if your dad is angry that you aren't happy for him.
Finally, don't carry your parent's secrets. It will weigh you down and eventually crush you. Tell your g/f. Line up counseling. Confide in your best friends. Take care of yourself. Your world just came crashing down, too. It's ok for you to be sad and mad and relieved all at the same time.
Don't listen to your mom here. She's going into damage control mode which is understandable but she's doing things wrong.
First, don't say what she wants about your family. If you say anything to him, say what you feel.
Secondly, tell your friends. Your mom is embarrassed but it's not her fault and nobody is going to think badly of her. And you're going to need your friends' (hopeful) support. Tell them. Talk to them, if they're good friends, about how you feel, because you need to talk to someone and your mom isn't the right person. Good luck man
Hey just so you know you don't have to do anything about this right now. You don't have to know how you feel, you don't have to know what to do, you don't have to have a confrontation. You will not get this figured out and resolved today. And you don't have to. Take time to feel how you feel without others input and then do what you feel is right when you feel it is right.
My mom suspects that my dad has been cheating on her. He vehemently denies it. What I have told my mom, and she hundred percent agrees with me, is that I will not get in the middle of it. It is wrong of your mom to ask you to play any role in their marriage or their divorce if it comes to that. You can support your mom emotionally, but remind her that you still love your dad and nothing will change that. I told my mom that if my dad was cheating on her, It is absolutely horrible and reprehensible, but it is a wrong against her, not a wrong against me, and I won't let it change my relationship with either of them. As hard as it will be, don't let yourself get in the middle. Don't condone the behavior, but stay out of it as much as possible.