I am 16 and until a few days ago I thought my family was great, wonderful, happy. I was on my dad’s phone looking at pictures of the family he took when I accidentally found a screenshot of something. A conversation with a woman who is not my mother.
The conversation was weird. They were talking to one another as girlfriend and boyfriend. I scrolled through the pictures and found a picture of love quotes that certainly were not sent to my mother. I also found pictures of this woman’s name surrounded in hearts.
Being afraid at this point, I went in and looked at my father’s messages with this woman. He called her babe, his sweetheart, his beautiful girl. She ended it less than a month ago, saying they crossed the line and she knows there are other women besides his wife.
I’m confused. Why would he do this to us? This is not the first time either. When I was younger, he cheated on my mother multiple times. She forgave him and I assumed it had stopped.
I’m disgusted with him. I never want him to touch my mother again. I don’t want him in our house. He doesn’t deserve us. However, I know my mother does not know. I don’t want her saddened by this. She has anxiety and bad stress problems.
I’m scared for what might happen to us. I want my mom to be happy. She isn’t a supermodel and she isn’t the fittest of women, but she is beautiful and her soul is beautiful. My siblings are 14 and 11, and I don’t want them to feel the pain of this.
I’m going to confront my father by the end of the summer because I want her summer to be happy, but should I do it sooner? I don’t know how I can manage that long without saying anything.
Elise, you are really cornered. It’s like telling a murderer you know he is a murderer without a policeman in the room. Your father knows you too well. He may put this on you and use the right promise, threat, bribe or cajole to get you to shut up.
It appears the woman he cheated with this last time dropped him because he was “unfaithful” to her. That’s one of the ironies of cheating. Many who cheat want faithfulness within their unfaithfulness.
Your problem is that a guilty secret has been foisted upon you, and you did nothing to deserve the isolation. However, this also involves your mother, and you can’t protect her from something which directly affects her.
Your mother didn’t stand up for herself before. Maybe with you by her side she can stand up this time. But it would be wise for her to consult an attorney or other trusted advisor beforehand, because divorce is one of many possible outcomes from your father’s repeated adultery.
Cheaters think only of themselves. The proof of this is all the people around them they hurt—their spouse, their children and the families of the people they cheat with.
In general, people don’t stop what they get away with, whether it’s stealing from stores, beating a child or adultery. When people don’t suffer consequences for their actions, they repeat them. They are not thankful they didn’t lose their family. They make up an excuse that allows them to do it again.
Undoubtedly your mother’s problems are interlinked with your father’s actions, and that is for them to figure out. But this will inevitably spill over into the lives of your siblings, though you would like to protect them.
By yourself you are ill-equipped to deal with this problem. If your mother is unwilling to confront your father, find another trusted adult to stand by your side. Your father placed you in this situation. That is unfair. Unburden yourself and tell.
~ Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of August 31, 2015
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