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My mom Is Cheating On My Dad
April 7, 2010 10:00 PM   Subscribe

How Am I Supposed To Feel About My Mom Cheating On My Dad? And Draining Family Money? (desperate for any help or advice)

My mom is cheating on my dad. She's been "with" the guy (who just happens to be a good family friend she used to work for before she was laid off who is married with children) for a year and a half, but just found out tonight and in one of the worst ways.
For a few months, I could feel tension between my parents so heavy I prefer to just not be at home. My 3 siblings are in their twenties so its just me and my parents at home. They're always fighting about something. Anyway, I recently have been seeing papers lying around the house about infidelity in marriage, and cheating (not too smart, mom!) but i didn't know which of my parents were having an affair. My boyfriend had advised me not to worry about it, he's the only one i told, and i took his advice. However, today, I was using my mom's phone to text someone because mine died and in her inbox were messages from a friend saying something like, "Try to cut off contact with him. You have your family at stake." I'm not generally nosy at all, but i had to know what was going on, because nobody had told me sh**, so i looked at my mom's email. I didn't know what to expect really but i had to know. Thing is, I don't know how to forgive what i saw.
There were about 10 messages back and forth between her and a man who went by the name of Peter, which i figured out is a cover up. Also, the subject is "sales estimates" for all of the messages.
They were long messages full of romance and lust, which maddened me and made me sick to my stomach. It also mentioned them staying at hotels together (my mom "travels with friends" alot), traveling together, dreams of "escaping". She also told him that she had saved up money for months of hotel stays with him. I mentioned above that my mom lost her job, about a year ago. My dad is working his a** off for us, working late nights because we cant make all the ends meet. I have to use my savings money for some necessities because we cant afford alot, and i cant get a job. But i figured out where all of the money is going... She's wasting it away on her affair. They mentioned me, saying if they ran off together i would come too, because i need to be with my mother. And she said she had discussed divorce with me, and the possibilty of separation, but she actually never mentioned anything to me at all. She tells him she loves her family, but she cannot decide if she wants to go with him or us. She says she is miserable without him, but even I know that the "love" they share is simply lust heightened by the fact that they "cant have each other" and they only see each other when they want to. My poor dad is a great guy who married my mom when she had to flee from her first husband with 3 kids. He adopted and raised my siblings as his own. Maybe they werent meant to be together, but she could at least respect him enough for what hes done for our family.
The reason i am miserable is because i dont know how to feel about this. I understand divorce, it happens. But adultery is unacceptable. And draining family money, hypocrisy and lies are just unforgivable. I dont know whether to speak up to her, or keep it to myself. Either way, i cant look at her the same again. I will always respect her as a mother but never again as a person. Please, can anybody give me advice on how to get through this?
posted by xopaigexo to Human Relations (29 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
 
If it were me, I'd confront your mother with what I saw and what I knew... but that could be very wrong because, sadly, this problem isn't yours to fix. I'm sorry.
posted by 2oh1 at 10:11 PM on April 7, 2010


Oh, and I forgot to mention... my dad does know about the affair. He doesnt know about he saving up family money though. And she's left my dad twice already but i didnt even know that
posted by xopaigexo at 10:13 PM on April 7, 2010


You should go out of your way to be good to your dad. I don't have any better advice, sorry, maybe someone else will.
posted by pseudonick at 10:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [5 favorites]


You need to talk to your mother - trying to keep this a secret is going to eat away at you. However, I suggest that before you talk to your mother, you talk to someone else (preferably an adult, preferably one is neutral). A teacher or school counselor that you trust would be good for this. Family might over-react because of their own relationship with your mother. Anyway, give yourself a chance to talk it all out and sort out some of your feelings before you try to talk to your mother.

Second, don't let your mother talk you into keeping this a secret from your father (unfair to you). If he doesn't already know, then it is reasonable to tell your mother that she needs to tell him or you will.

Third, you are going to have many, many different and uncomfortable feelings about this. If you can, try to just accept the feelings that you have at the moment, realizing that you will probably have different feelings later. This will certainly change your relationship with your mother but it is not just a one-time change - your feelings about her will continue to change as you see how she deals with this and as you yourself continue to mature. You get through this with a lot of tears and a little help from your friends (actually a lot). Journaling is also a really great way to get a grip on what is going on for you.

Fourth, you don't get to pick how the rest of your family handles this. Maybe your father will choose to pretend it isn't happening. Maybe your mother will deny the whole thing. Maybe their marriage will split up within the month. I'm sure some options seem more right to you than others but this is ultimately a problem in your parents' relationship with each other and there isn't much you can do except duck and cover.

Finally, if you can get out of the house this summer (camp counselor, staying relatives) it might help to have a break from your parents and the family drama.
posted by metahawk at 10:17 PM on April 7, 2010 [9 favorites]


Just saw that your dad knows and your mom has left and come back before. In that case, let them both know that you know but don't expect anything to change (my 4th point above). Just take really good care of yourself and find people outside of the family that you can rely on for emotional support when things get messy at home.
posted by metahawk at 10:20 PM on April 7, 2010


wow xopaigexo ...I am sorry that you've stumbled onto this. It is hurtful and shocking for you. It will be difficult for you to not say anything--and if you bottle it up you will only get very resentful and probably lash out at her at the first aggravation.
You might consider writing out your thoughts. Writing makes things so that what you are feeling on the inside can get on the outside and it will help you "process." If you feel you might be able to put it into a letter to your Mom--all the better, you'd be killing two birds with one stone.

You are going to have to level with her that you know about this and that you are angry and feeling bad for your Dad who works to maintain the family. When someone steps outside the marriage ...it is really over for them. Once they have crossed that line..that is pretty much it. So, it is definitely not fair for your Dad to be bankrolling her new situation. You might consider telling her that she needs to sort this thing out or you are going to have to sort it out "for her" (That sounds mean, but someone has to be the adult here and currently that is likely you). Consider giving her a timeline to straighten things out. She can't expect you to go along with her infidelity.

You love both of your parents---but prepare for the end of their marriage. It is extremely likely, if not totally 100% certain. Take very good care of yourself. You're the one who has to look out for yourself at this time, since your parents will be entering the land of the crazies. If you are able to--find an older person (in real life/in person) who can help guide you and be around for you. Throw yourself into something engaging until the situations rights itself. It'll be a while.
posted by naplesyellow at 10:22 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


I don't know if anyone can tell you how to feel. How do you feel? It sounds like you are experiencing perfectly normal emotions in relation to this event. Your parents are having serious marital difficulties and it sounds like your mom is torn about what to do, which is not an excuse for her behavior.

You have a right to be angry, you have aright to feel however you do. What you do with that is going to be the hard part.

You don't say how old you are, but I'm guessing mid to late teens?
posted by edgeways at 10:22 PM on April 7, 2010


Ouch.

Sadly I have to echo a lot of the sentiments above. There's nothing you can do about any of this, but you need to look out for yourself, get support from your siblings, and support your folks however you can. The money thing...I dunno. You could "confront" your mother about it in the gentlest way possible, or you could mention it to your dad. Guh.
posted by turgid dahlia at 10:40 PM on April 7, 2010


There is no "should" with feelings.

It's understandable to be angry, pissed off, to feel like you are disgusted with your mom, to feel sorry for your dad, to feel like your dad is an idiot for not finding out, to feel like you want to yell and scream or cry.

As for what to do, I'm not sure if I would confront your mom or not. If it were me, I'd go to my siblings for support. Maybe they know more than you do about the situation, and can be of comfort to you.
posted by too bad you're not me at 10:48 PM on April 7, 2010 [2 favorites]


How old are you? Do you have siblings? How old are they?

If there are children involved, the what-to-do calculus changes quite a bit. You must protect them first, however you deem appropriate, depending on the age and situation.

But if everyone involved is an adult ... my vote is the "scorched earth" policy. Tell Dad, urge him to (legally) drain bank accounts, contact legal help.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:54 PM on April 7, 2010 [1 favorite]


First! It isn't your fault. I know you know that, but sometimes you might forget that you do. So remember, It Isn't Your Fault!

Next thing to remember is what 2oh1 said, "It isn't your problem to fix." This isn't your responsibility. You might want to make it better, or go away, but you can't; no way. Really, trying will make you feel worse and will help little. It's not fiction, where saying just the right words at just the right time will change things. Admit to yourself what you want to happen, keep track of that, write it down maybe, because your wants might change. Let both of your parents know what your feelings are from time to time (but not as often as you let your self know what they are.)

Then, and this is even harder, don't blame. Really, it's hard, but don't blame. You are old enough to know your parents (neither of them) are storybook heroes. Well, they aren't storybook villains either. You know they don't know everything about you, and that you don't, can't, know everything about them. Mistake happen. Even our parents make them. Changes happen, in life, in relationships. Even in our parents' lives and relationships. For now, especially right now, don't be a detective, don't try to get to the root of it. That will make it harder on all, and it won't work anyway. It might get you trapped in places you don't deserve to be. Rather, hold on to the two, independent relationships you have with your parents, and try not to judge or blame, no matter what you hear. Be angry, yes, but don't be avenging.

Just: it's not yours to fix. Take care of your self, first, and guard the love you have for others closely. It that gets lost, it will be the greatest harm of all.
posted by Some1 at 11:23 PM on April 7, 2010 [10 favorites]


okay this sucks. but something needs to be said here: you fucked up.

invading your mom's privacy by breaking into her e-mail is inexcusable. the proper time to confront her was after you accidentally discovered the text messages.

now, to be fair, your mom also fucked up. she fucked up worse than you, but that doesn't excuse your fuck-up. your mom betrayed your father's trust, but that didn't give you a right to betray hers.

you should probably confront your mom. but when you do, expect her to be angry at you. you deserve it.

i really do feel for you. this is an ugly situation. but remember, you aren't the victim here. that's your dad. you're just the least guilty of the villains.
posted by 256 at 11:34 PM on April 7, 2010 [3 favorites]


okay look, i'm sorry. that was unnecessarily harsh.

i just think it's important that you don't take away from this the lesson: "snooping is okay when your suspicions turn out to be right."

talk to your siblings, and i wish you the best of luck.
posted by 256 at 11:38 PM on April 7, 2010


xopaigexo: "Thing is, I don't know how to forgive what i saw."

You do take that risk when you snoop. But, as for forgiveness... sometimes it takes a while. I know you're upset that your mom is cheating, either emotionally, physically, or both, but it really wasn't your business. And now that you know, you feel sick. I think you should talk to an adult you trust about this. After that, can you talk to your older siblings about the family?

I am going to second what others have said about this not being your problem to fix. Remember, your parents are the parents, you are not the parent. I am sorry you have to go through this.
posted by IndigoRain at 12:38 AM on April 8, 2010


I agree with everyone else that this is between your mom and your dad, and not your responsibility to fix. So, maybe I am a hypocrite, but if it were me in that situation I would go to my mom and say/do whatever it took to make sure she wouldn't be using my dad's income to bankroll her fling anymore. The cheating is bad enough but using his income for it is what would push me over the line. FWIW, if they've already separated before and she leaves reading material about cheating all over the house, I'd bet that he has an inkling of that part as it is.
posted by Ashley801 at 12:39 AM on April 8, 2010


"How Am I Supposed To Feel About My Mom Cheating On My Dad?" [emphasis mine]
posted by xopaigexo to human relations

Let's get one thing straight, xopaigexo: there aren't any societal norms that govern how a person should feel when their parents are acting badly. You're going to feel whatever you feel, and that's likely to be everything from confusion, to anger, to pity (for your father, first, and then, maybe, later, for your mother), to revulsion, to hate (for the stupidity that somehow still binds your parents together, even such awful circumstances), to love (because they're, still, your parents), to silliness (because, after all, this is just ridiculous), to embarrassment (because, well, who wants to be related to people who carry on like this, and might, still, air all their dirty laundry in public, or, at least in court), to...

Oh, hell, I don't know. You're deep in the tar pits of human emotion, without the normal saving ropes and solid handholds usually offered to family members in danger of emotional overload, by other family members. Maybe you can get some reach back from your older siblings (by getting on the phone and letting them know you're in emotional distress, and need to get out for a while), to get out of that seemingly very toxic house for the summer, and let your parents sort out whatever games they're playing with one another. Maybe, if you have to stay there in the next several months, you could increasingly arrange sleep overs with friends and maybe a job for yourself, that keep you out of that home, and working on your own education and exit strategy, as much as possible. I know that when my kids were growing up, I let some of their friends who were in tough family straits hang at my house, 3 or 4 nights a week, to be sure that they had a safe, decent place, and something to eat, and a push towards school and normalcy by a caring adult the next morning, when I knew that their situation at home was really bad.

What you can't you do is referee the situation. If your Mom and Dad "wanted" a real referee, they'd hire one, in the form of a marriage counselor, or find one, in the form of a pastor or priest. You haven't the knowledge or training to help them, in this situation.

But you can help yourself, by staying positive, and getting yourself out of that environment, to safe, supportive surroundings, as much as possible. Don't make doing that your boyfriend's issue, either - this is a job for adults you know, who can help you, if you let them. If you don't have any place else to start, talk first to your guidance counselor at school, and then take whatever suggestions they may have to heart, and follow up. Whether or not you are personally religious, it might also be a good idea to be talking with a pastor or youth counselor at one or two of the bigger, main stream churches in your town; first, because they'll have established programs you can tap into, for youth activities and parental networks, and second, because they may have people with some training in helping kids from troubled families get through crisis situtations. You don't have to take the religious beliefs that better congregations have, to shelter under their social services umbrella either; just because you're talking to a Presbyterian youth minister about your family situation, doesn't mean you have to become a Presbyterian. If ever you feel pressure from faith based organizations, to adopt some behavior or belief, you can just walk away from any services that seem contingent on that offer; real churches, dealing with kids in troubled circumstances, look first to solving issues of safety and security, and keep their "message" on the back burner until the young people they are trying to help are in a better place.

Good luck, xopaigexo. Good on you for trying to reach out to people, for help and advice, even if only through the mechanism of AskMe. It's a first step, but one that you should repeat, with real flesh and blood people in your community, not just strangers on a green background Internet site.
posted by paulsc at 1:40 AM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


i just think it's important that you don't take away from this the lesson: "snooping is okay when your suspicions turn out to be right."

Yeah, ok, spying is wrong. BUT...when you see something about "your family is at stake" and "try to cut off contact with him", who the F wouldn't want to know more if they ARE the family at stake.

You get to do that as a teenager; you are excused. It wasn't the most adult and mature moment in your young life, but as a teenager of parents who have given you signs of whats going on but never talked about it with you...you TOTALLY get to do that.

WTF did your parents (or just your mom) think was going to happen when they neglected to tell you but still carried out their plans (and affairs). Seriously...they pretty much didn't want to discuss this till you brought it up because of all the "papers" they've left laying around.

Dude, I'm so sorry about this. This is what I would do if I were you, it doesn't mean its the right thing, but this is what I would do.

1. Ask your mom why sexing her boyf in hotels is more important than all the other things that would have been done with the money? I know you're a teenager, and this is really hard for you. Your parents (or just mom...depending on who knows) aren't being very mature about this...but someone needs to be. You just need to be very calm, and say "mom, i have something important I need to talk to you about. can we talk somewhere?" When you get there, just ask "why is sexing your boyf in hotels a better use for the FAMILY money than X, Y, Z (where x, y, z are things your family needs and can't afford).


2. Tell your mom to tell your dad if she hasn't STATED whats going on to him. Tell her that you're very disappointed in her, but she can sort of redeem herself by doing this if she hasn't already.

3. If she refuses to do #2, sit your dad down and give him the talk. A lot of support will do you (and him) really well here. make sure to include it.

This is what I would do...but that doesn't mean its right (there is no right or wrong in this situation...only what works best for YOU. I'm better at confrontation than letting things "work out naturally"...so just make sure you think about the choices you make before you start carrying them out.

I'm so sorry you're going through this. If I was forced to say that a silver lining exists, its the fact that you've been pushed into a very mature situation at your age. Handle this well by reasonable, mature, and well-thought out actions and this may be one of the situations you go through that determine you to be a stronger person than you thought.

Take care.
posted by hal_c_on at 1:45 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Be extra kind to your dad. He's feeling a lot right now--pain, anger, betrayal, uncertainty over the future of his family. It would probably mean a lot to him to know that you love him and that you're with him on this.

Do your best not to be cruel to your mom. What she's doing to your family sounds extraordinarily selfish, but let how you treat her be a reflection of who YOU are--calm, mature, and thoughtful. Resist the urge to say hateful things just to hurt her back.

It's past time for your parents to bring you in the loop. They should have told you earlier; this isn't how you should have found out about it. If you're comfortable with it, it may be time for you to take the initiative--sit your parents (or just your dad) down and say, "I need you to tell me what's going on."

Know that you deserve to be informed, but not to have all the details. There are some things that you really shouldn't know--what was in those emails definitely makes the list. But it's utterly unreasonable for your parents to expect to have all this fighting and just not say anything to you about it. And while what happens next will be the decision of your parents, you do have a right to have your voice heard, especially when it comes to any future question of custody.

Divorce isn't that bad. They can be ugly, especially if the parents try to use the kids as weapons. My parents divorced when I was 12 or so; it was definitely an improvement over the years of bitter fighting that came before. If there are papers documenting the infidelity, it sounds like that's the direction this is going (but of course it's impossible to be sure).

This isn't your problem? Part of that is right--it's not your responsibility to fix, it's not your fault, and you don't have the power to undo the damage that's been done. But you certainly have a stake in this, and your parents have a responsibility to you. Adultery isn't good but (in my opinion) adultery when there are kids involved is many times worse; by massively disrupting the family of her minor child your mother did more to harm you than she did to harm your father. You certainly have a right to be pissed at her. Although you will won't have the unenviable job of deciding what happens next, this is most definitely your problem, too.

As for the snooping aspect--I wrote a paragraph but deleted it on preview. Hal_c_on nailed it in the first half of his reply. Snooping's bad and you really shouldn't do it again... but in these very specific circumstances I think you get a pass.

This is a really awful situation for you and your family. You have my sympathy.
posted by kprincehouse at 2:16 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


They mentioned me, saying if they ran off together i would come too, because i need to be with my mother. And she said she had discussed divorce with me, and the possibilty of separation, but she actually never mentioned anything to me at all.

That bit stuck out for me as someone who stumbled upon letters of infidelity herself. How dare they discuss you that way and presume they know what you are going to do and what you need! How dare they plan you in with their cabals over your own head! I don't know how old you are and what the legal situation is for you, but I suggest you find out as soon as possible. Is there some place offering free legal advice for minors where you live?
At any rate, when you talk to her, let your mother know that the situation is not as all as clear as she presumes, and that whether you "need" to follow her or not is something you get to decide, too!
This is what changes it from a matter that is only between your parents to a matter that directly impacts you.

The second worst thing, I feel, is the way she hoarded away the family money. I find that horrifying. If I were you I would make sure she knows how I feel about this. Perhaps your opinion makes a difference or at least cuts through the love hazed veneer.

Lastly:
but even I know that the "love" they share is simply lust heightened by the fact that they "cant have each other"
Do not presume to judge her on this. No one can truly understand another person's love. Whether your mother truly loves the other guy - this is possible - or not is none of your business. Do not put down her feelings just because you are angry.
You have plenty to be angry about: Whether your mother's love fits to your personal standards is beside the matter.

So: Do not discuss her love affair with her. Discuss with her how shabbily she has been treating her family and particularly how shabbily she has been treating you.
posted by Omnomnom at 4:31 AM on April 8, 2010 [7 favorites]


This is a very difficult situation. The advice above that you can't control it is sound, listen to it. Take care of yourself, distance from the drama and conflict as much as you can.

Through this remember a couple of things.... this is not a reflection on you, and probably not a reflection on the love either of your parents feel for you. And (this is important), there are other sides to this situation that you do not know about or might not understand.

peace...
posted by HuronBob at 4:38 AM on April 8, 2010


Poor kiddo. I empathise with your confusion. In a similar situation to this (have to dance around a bit, I use my real name here), I found myself bewildered, not so much by the acts involved, per se, but how in one fell swoop so much of my childhood history was effectively rewritten. I felt like I was in the Truman Show or something, one day blissfully enjoying my life, the next suddenly aware that everyone is an actor, the whole thing was a facade.

With that by way of context, let me share what helped me:

Firstly, it wasn't a facade. I was still loved by the parties involved, their acts of love and compassion to me in my childhood were still legitimate and real. Other relationships they had did no obviate our relationship. The lies were not lies about me, about us, about everything. Christmas was still Christmas etc.

As the years progressed, I appreciated that - however flawed and selfish - at the same time, the lies were trying to protect me, protect this particular notion of family and its integrity (whether I agreed with it was another thing).

Secondly, context. When I was younger, my perspective of certain relationship, whilst not necessarily wrong, wasn't complete. I wasn't able to see the more subtle - and sometimes pre-existing - forces acting upon people in my family. They may not have had the options I thought they did, they may not have had the power - may not have been the person able - to pursue those options, even if they were aware of them.

Further to this, one person may have taken the wrong path at some point in the relationship, but the other person may have taken the wrong path at an earlier date. Wrongs, unfortunately, are not like points in a basketball game; they are not necessarily equal. A trivial wrong may have a disproportionate effect on somebody, whilst a serious one can have the opposite. Crucially, I realised that a long (decades) relationship breakdown is like a long war - nobody wins. Everybody does terrible things, and everybody does noble things. Without possessing the personality, the history, etc. of a person, I had to be more circumspect. Not refrain from judging per se, but reframe it as "that is wrong in my ethical framework", not so much "that is wrong.".

Thirdly, finally, and in direct contradiction to what some people are arguing, I learned to that I didn't need to say anything. Oh, the conversations, the diatribes, colloquys and speechs I rehearsed in my head. The - first impassioned, then more dispassionate - interrogations I had with myself and people I could trust. How? Why? What should I do? Who should I tell? What will I say? How should I feel?????

But, as personal - and horrible - as this felt to me, I realised that - mainly - it wasn't about me. It wasn't my battle to fight, if I felt like shit, how shit would you have to feel to have an affair? To be cheated on? My feelings were like a twig floating on a tsunami of emotion from the other people involved. Would saying anything make me feel better? I decided, for me, the answer was temporarily yes, medium term the opposite, and long term definitely not. And I would be hurting two people - goddamn them, selfish, thoughtless, traitorous bastards - two people that I loved at the end of the day, still loved, would always love, I would be hurting those two people even more than the pain and guilt they already felt, to no effect. It wouldn't make them better, it wouldn't make me or other familiy members better. It would do nothing.

But I did need someone to talk to. Several someone's. People my own age, people in my family, older people not in my family. I talked the ever-loving shit out of them, poor bastards. Some were as confused as me, some had sage advice, some had not so sage advice. It all helped. One sibling in particular helped. Two siblings still don't know (may they never find this page). We decided their reactions would be too destructive to the fabric of our family (and themselves) to share that knowledge. I don't regret the decision. We may change our minds at a future date. Who knows, two siblings may be keeping the same "secret" from me.

That was what worked for me. It may not work for you. This is a very hard, very fast way to grow up. Especially because you are always a child in your own family.

Talk to people you can trust about this. Get out and stay with a sibling for as long as you can as soon as you can. Trust yourself. Remember, crazy bullshit or no, your parents love you, want to be loved by you - and you have to acknowledge and respect that love, even as other things colour it.

I apologise for this novel. Your family - on top of this - sounds like it's going through a very hard time. My thoughts are with you, feel free to memail if you want to talk.
posted by smoke at 5:51 AM on April 8, 2010 [3 favorites]


So sorry for the sucky circumstances. Best wishes to you.

I can't favorite metahawk's first paragraph hard enough. Everything you're feeling is fair and reasonable, even if it may be self-contradictory! A safe, neutral space to help work this out would be really beneficial. Therapist if you can get it, but if I read right that you're school-aged that may not be possible without tipping off the parents, so school counselor and other trusted non-family adults are good suggestions.

Other suggestion--hang with some friends who live in less imploding households. One of my best high school friends was over at my place all the time when his parents were in the midst of divorce, and he appreciated the safe place where the fact that stable families really did exists was reinforced.
posted by stevis23 at 5:58 AM on April 8, 2010


FWIW:

If it were me, I would do what Cool Papa Bell suggested--tell my dad in as neutral a way as possible that I know about the affair, that I know that he knows about it, and that he needs to know his wife is squirreling away money to spend on hotel stays with her boyfriend. I'd urge him to drain the accounts and get an attorney ASAP.

I wouldn't talk to my mom about it. She'd just make it about the fact that I snooped, and turn it around on me instead of addressing the fact that she's having an affair and stealing money fron her husband to fund it.

I wouldn't let my older siblings know what you know--that's just going to increase the drama. Let them find out from your parents.

Finally, I just want to offer you my sympathy. What an awful situation to be in. Try to reach out to an adult counselor for support.

Best wishes and good luck to you.
posted by magstheaxe at 6:47 AM on April 8, 2010 [2 favorites]


Lots of good advice above.

When my kids were teenagers we often found it easier to discuss heavy stuff when we were in the car together, somehow it's easier to talk when you're side by side instead of face to face.

As others have said, you need to keep busy. Can you get a summer job? If, for some reason, you can't, then do some volunteering, at the library (I'm biased, I'm a librarian), at a nature park, at the animal shelter, whatever appeals to you. If you have a yard, plant a bunch of vegetables and flowers. Take up a new hobby.

Good luck, and don't forget that this will not go on forever.
posted by mareli at 7:07 AM on April 8, 2010


xopaigexo I sent you a MeFi mail.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 7:13 AM on April 8, 2010


Yes, yes, snooping is a bad idea generally and that in this case, oh good lord who cares. It's quite unlike snooping on an SO over suspicion of an affair -- we don't get to choose our parents -- and her actions are affecting the stability of your home life.

If it were me, I'd tell them both what I found (in general terms, not quoting specific texts, which would just be tacky and more hurtful to your dad than necessary.) And of course, tell them that what with all the literature around the house, you're aware that they're talking divorce. I would stay the hell away from discussing or even thinking too much about WHY they're divorcing and her affair. I do think it's fair for you to ask that they be more upfront with you, since their decisions are affecting you.

It's going to suck, but maybe it'll be a little easier with it out in the open.
posted by desuetude at 7:48 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


Having been there, I can tell you I know exactly how much this sucks.

If it bothers you, let her know. This is affecting you and others you love and splitting your family apart. Get some talking points written down first before you talk and have the piece of paper with you.

Tell her that the message that she is sending to you is that it is OK to cheat on people and that it is OK to be dishonest and take other people's money and hurt them with it. Explain to her that you love your father and that you are horrified that she is hurting him. Explain to her that if she leaves your father, you will stay with him and petition the court to make it so. If you are over 18 just tell her you're staying with Dad no matter what.

She will be mad, she will get angry, she will call you names. This is because she is acting selfishly. But she will start to respect you and your opinion a lot more. I wish I could say it would make her stop doing all of this, but that is something she needs to wake up to and it might never happen.

In my case I didn't find out until later. My dad divorced my mom and then had the marriage annuled by the church. But she wouldn't give up the guy so she had no leg to stand on. She of course is nowhere near this guy any more (in fact he's dead now) she lives alone and is very sad most of the time.
posted by Ironmouth at 7:59 AM on April 8, 2010 [1 favorite]


What your mother has done is horrible, but try to see her as human. I would talk to her about it and let her know how much her actions are hurting you and making you feel insecure about the love towards you in your family unit. If your mother is appologetic for your hurt feelings she may have been wearing blinders and not seen what it was doing to you. Basically, she may not have intended to hurt you and upon realizing she did may be horrified at herself. Human make mistakes, even big sloppy mistakes, but since she is your mother, unless she is intentionally and knowingly hurtful to you, you should try to work on your relationship with your mother outside the context of her as a married person (to your dad).

Also, be sure to do the same for your dad and get to know him as a whole autonomous person outside of the context of his marriage to your mom.

Lastly, I don't knwo how old you are, but you should speak to a school counselor and see if they can refer you to what your legal rights are. Depending on your age, you may be able to choose which parent you live with should they go through with separation and divorce.
posted by WeekendJen at 1:59 PM on April 8, 2010


Is there an adult you can talk to, a counselor or school social worker, a neighbor, friend, pastor or doctor? Or maybe your siblings? This is too much for you to handle alone. Make an appointment with your Mom and the trusted adult, and talk about it. Tell her how you feel about her cheating on your Dad, the lying about money, and your fear of divorce. Tell her you expect her to come clean with your Dad, and to make a decision. Your parents have a responsibility to provide you with a stable home, and htis isn't it.

Also, people cheat for so many reasons. People are frail and vulnerable. Set a goal of forgiving her.
posted by theora55 at 2:22 PM on April 8, 2010


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