My daughter and her husband have been married seven years. Childhood sweethearts. They have a 6-year-old child. They own their home, are financially secure, everything looks good.
A couple of days ago, my husband and I received an email from her telling us she has been in an affair for three years with a friend of her husband. He found out a couple of months ago, and they have been living together in silence.
There were the requisite tears from her and the proverbial deer-in-the-headlights look. She admitted she’s lied to everyone for years. After hugs and tears, she said she can’t end it. She does not know if she loves him, but he is kind and exciting. OMG!
Her husband came over to talk to us. He’s been in hell and is glad it’s in the open. He does not know what he wants to do. He told her they could try to work it out, but she has to stop seeing this guy. She won’t. She says she needs her husband’s financial support and her lover’s excitement.
We support our son-in-law entirely. We are trying to support her, but it is difficult when she won’t make a move to end this mess. She has ruined so many lives and does not see it.
I want her to see a therapist. She said she would but does nothing. I am so scared for my granddaughter. She is smart enough to know things are wrong, even though there is no fighting. The tension is so thick you can cut it with a knife.
It is almost like she is more upset she was caught. How do I help her, or do I?
Cynthia, for three years your daughter looked at life through a camera focused on its nearest object, herself. Everything else was out of focus. Now everything else has come into view.
It’s not a pretty sight. A man has suffered the worst assault a man can in a relationship. A parent is being forced to choose between what’s right and the bond to her child. A child is growing up in confusion.
You can’t stop your daughter from doing what she is doing. Neither can her husband. She has a legal right to decide what she will do. No one has the power to stop her.
That said, the same is true of you and her husband. She can’t stop what he, or you, decide to do. So you both need to understand where you are powerless and what that applies to, and where you are powerful and what that applies to.
Once your son-in-law realizes a woman who loved him would never do this, he will realize the power of divorce. Your daughter wants to have her cake and eat it too, but your son-in-law does not have to provide the cake.
Hard as it is to support him over your biological child, he is the one in the right.
Your son-in-law needs to consult with an experienced attorney, and he needs to be frank about his reasons for divorce. He is safe while your daughter thinks he won’t do anything, but once she has an inkling he will act, she may retaliate against “what he has done to me.”
Now that it is in the open, your daughter may feel free to bring her lover or other men into the home and expose your granddaughter to their influence. Protect your granddaughter as much as you can. Provide her with a calming presence that never varies in its love.
You don’t understand your daughter’s motivation. She may think she should have dated more before marriage, she may think she felt pressured to marry someone or anyone, she may think she didn’t know her own mind. You can support her only to the extent she is willing to bring her whole life into focus.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of April 13, 2015