I've always had this feeling my mom is cheating on my dad. Now, their relationship hasn't been great for the last six years, worried girland she told him she no longer loves him. We all still live together, but they sleep in separate rooms.
My dad has done nothing wrong. He is not a jerk, doesn't cheat, nothing. He still continues to try and love her even after all this.
I've seen this other man around my mom a few times, and for awhile I put it out of my head. Recently, however, I heard her on the phone, and it all became clear. I need to speak up because I cannot live with both of them like this.
My dad is oblivious, and I'm 90 percent sure he has no clue this is happening. I don't know where to begin or who to address. My mom denied it to me before, and I can't continue to let this go on. What do I do?
Meredith, many people appear to be oblivious and are. It often is the case, as with your dad, the way he sees and responds to the world is the way he is. He's honest, so he believes others are honest. He's faithful, so he believes his wife is faithful. That's what often happens with good people. They can't see the bad in others because it is not within them.
What do young people hate? The obvious lie. The lie that is right there and nobody is addressing it.
You hold to the spirit of the law. Marriage is for those in love and committed to one another. What are your parents holding to? Barely the letter of the law. They are clinging to a technicality. "We haven't gotten divorced. We're still married, so this shouldn't negatively impact our children, as divorce would."
What do you see? My parents are faking a real marriage. Apparently, that's what life is about. Faking the real thing. Society and religion pretend it's no big deal when people who don't belong married stay married and model that for their children. They act as if the children aren't bright enough to recognize hypocritical behavior when they see it.
It's like saying, "I don't want my kids to smoke, but I smoke in front of them." "I don't want my kids to drink to excess, but I drink to excess in front of them." "I don't want my kids to divorce, but I married someone I don't love and am not faithful to." Guess what? Guess what? Guess what? None of those work.
Just because adults deceive themselves, it doesn't mean children have to go along with the deception. The vision of young people is not clouded. They don't understand staying married because, "I would have to get a job and support myself if I divorced." They don't get that. They don't understand, "I would have to give up half my income or pension if I divorced her." They don't understand, "My family doesn't approve of divorce."
What they do get is mom and dad are sleeping in separate bedrooms and don't like each other. They get that. They get Mom has a boyfriend, and I don't think you are supposed to do that if you are married. What has your mother made herself to you? A fraud. Is that worse than divorce?
You have a laser beam on your parents. So, of course, you discovered what your mother is doing. Discovery is a part of cheating. You may still love your mother, but you may have lost respect for her.
Just as parents model and teach their kids the good things, so also they model and teach what's bad.
Talk to Dad about your concerns, and see where it leads. We would never advise anyone, either you or him, to continue living a lie. It plays havoc with your head.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of Oct 21, 2013
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