Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Dear Carolyn: My husband of 28 years is (reluctantly) moving home to his widowed moms house. I found out hes been having an affair for two and a half years with a married woman weve both known for 35 years. Our adult-age kids still live at home and cant wait for him to leave, as they have other festering resentments against him.
I dont know how I feel about him anymore. He doesnt want to leave and has sobbed heartfelt apologies to me, but says its really none of the kids business. On the flip side, he admitted to me and the kids that hed still be having the affair if he hadnt been caught since she fills a need in him that I never have.
Im just numb and exhausted. For some reason, I feel guilty that hes hurting so much and the kids want nothing to do with him. How do I know what Im to blame for and how to feel?
Im sorry. There is logic to be had here, and, like a stair rail in a dark basement, it can lead you up and out.
His admission that hed still be having the affair is damning, but if you take the (no doubt acute) hurt feelings away, its the biggest duh in the history of love. No one ever gets every need satisfied by a single relationship. I have zero doubt, and so should you, that you could meet someone who gives you something your husband never could. And maybe you wouldnt follow through with an affair, but you might imagine your way right to the brink.
Sympathy might seem wrong here, but, wow, what a powerful example to your kids if you could say to them: Your father did a rotten thing and Im angry, and we may not stay together, but Im not so angry that Ive forgotten hes human. I will continue with this separation, but I will not vilify him, and I hope you all can make peace with the whole person your father is, versus just what he has done lately.
Taking a position and declaring it closed to family debate will allow you to concentrate on adjusting to your new reality and awaiting clarity on how you feel about your marriage.
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