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I'm 19, discovered my dad's cheating on my mom


Family Parents too demanding? Sibling driving you mad? Tell us!

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Old 11th March 2019, 2:08 PM   #16
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Originally Posted by LivingWaterPlease View Post
I agree that you need support from someone you respect and trust. It seems to me it would be good for you to tell your Dad you know but not knowing your Dad I wouldn't know how to advise it.

This may seem like an odd question, but is your dad prone to violence or to passive aggressive behavior? My concern would be his lashing out at you in some way so that's one reason you really need support right there where you are before telling him.

Do you belong to a church? Is there an adult (besides your parents) you have a great deal of respect for and trust in?
My dad is never violent. But in this case, he has a strong emotional relationship with the other person, not just sexual (as far as I can tell from the messages). That makes me more fearful of how he'd react. He might turn violent. He is much stronger than me. Also, he is very intelligent and I'm afraid of any plans he could make. I want to make a better plan of how this would be handled before he can make any plans of his own. I wish he could just get out of our lives and things could continue normally without him, but my mother might not want him out of her life. Maybe if he leaves she'd become depressed and it could ruin her life.

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Originally Posted by SunnyWeather View Post
OP, you've laid out all the reasons why some of us are suggesting you get support in these matters, it's too much for you to navigate this alone. Quite frankly, these are matters that a professional would be better to take on, and release the burden from you.

I wish you all the best
I am already seeing a counselor for other issues, but he's a counselor at college so he's probably more experienced with students who're stressed or depressed because of academics and jobs. I don't know what he'd have to say about this. But maybe I should wait for my next appointment.
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:10 PM   #17
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If you’re afraid of your father, then your mom probably is, too. I would not recommend talking to your father about this. Personally, I would leave it alone. My guess is, your mom knows or suspects what he’s doing. Because of the temperament of your father, announcing this knowledge to anyone could cause real problems. The only person I would even consider telling is your mom. Or, you could have her “accidentally” stumble on those messages so that it appears she found out on her own. If she knows you know about it but she plans to stay with your father, she may be embarrassed by you knowing. Or she may feel inclined to do something about it when she normally wouldn’t have. Telling others, especially family members, could also ignite a war.
That seems like a better idea, although I'm confused how to implement it. I have the messages downloaded but don't have any more access to his messages. I can't just give her the downloaded file because she'd realize that someone must have downloaded them. I think i'll have to think more about how she could accidentally discover them without revealing that I know.

Also, I don't really want her to read those messages cause it'd hurt her. But again, if I eventually have to prove it I'd have to show those messages anyway.

Last edited by kithin; 11th March 2019 at 2:18 PM..
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:23 PM   #18
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Maybe you could anonymously tell the husband and he could tell your mom....

She does have a right to know, and you shouldn't worry about things like their assets, the house, etc. It would be a process if they divorce and not something that happens overnight.
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:24 PM   #19
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Honestly, I hate to say it, but your mom may have just chosen to not see it because she wants to stay married and maybe feels she has no other options but to stay married. Does she work outside the home? Could she support herself?

Look, you have every right to be mad and disappointed, but this isn't really your problem to get in the middle of. I'm afraid that if you tell him you know, he will just manipulate you into keeping his secret for him by lying or making you feel sorry for him. I guarantee he will say something blaming your mother, like that she doesn't want sex or something that you do NOT want to have a conversation about, because that's what all cheaters do -- they blame the other person. Do you have any older siblings to talk to who you could trust who might have some input about it?
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:30 PM   #20
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Kithin, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. It must be extremely difficult for you, a heavy burden. You are right to seek insight and counsel as far as how to handle it and what to do. I would suggest a professional counselor, because regardless of the ultimate outcome you will have to deal with the residual emotions. I'd hate to see this interfere with your ability to have healthy relationships in the future. Alternatively, or in addition, a trusted adult might be good to talk to, but I'd caution you to choose very carefully if you decide to go that route. I'd suggest professional counseling first.

Beware of advice given on these forums (or the internet generally). You'll get lots of conflicting advice, and the ones with the most self-assurance as to being "right" are probably the least insightful. It's a projection of their own traumatic experience, and they may be more interested in seeing someone suffer consequences than in helping you sort out how to deal with your situation. They are moral absolutists, and they typically give finite, black and white rules that you "should" follow because there is only one right way––their way. They do not see the complexity or nuance in difficult situations.

They may say that your mom has a right to know, but... you don't know what your mom would want. She may already know or strongly suspect and chooses not to make an issue of it. They could have a don't ask don't tell understanding that you know nothing about. Or she may wish she had never known if she finds out. Sometimes people end up blaming the messenger too. There are a huge number of possibilities. This is between the two of them, it's not your place to alter the course of the universe. Take nothing for granted, and try to discern what is wise in the largest context.

I wish there was something I could say to ease your burden; this is a tough place to be. You seem like a mature, thoughtful 19 year old. I'm sure you'll handle it well if you take your time. You can't unring a bell.
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:31 PM   #21
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Look, you have every right to be mad and disappointed, but this isn't really your problem to get in the middle of.
Except by taking no action, the rest of his/her life and future relationships will also be affected. Either way this will happen (trust issues), but I would think confronting it will lessen the consequences for him/her a bit.

I was in my twenties when my dad's infidelity was discovered. It would have been a terrible burden to carry if my mom hadn't known.
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:42 PM   #22
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OP, I am so sorry you are here. I agree that you are right to seek out professional counseling for this. I dont know if there is a right or wrong thing to do here. We dont know what your mom does or does not know or suspect. We dont know how she would react. We dont know if she is actually miserable in the marriage. There is too many variables here to give definitive advice. All I can say is that I am angry for you and angry that your father has put you in this position.

I'll share my brief story, but for my story, there would be another that comes along that is completely different. I found out my husband was cheating on me and I was completely distraught. I thought we had a happy marriage. I thought I was living out my fairytale. Eventually, i just couldnt move past it, and I divorced. After stepping away from it all, I realised just how unhappy I actually was. I no longer have the tension he gave me daily. For 20 years. We have multiple kids together. I have been a SAHM for almost 2 decades. I had everything to lose. But I couldnt stay stuck in my u happy state (following finding out). Never once did I wish I never knew. In fact, I fought and fought for more information because I had to figure out what was real in life.

But that is my story. I'm happier now. I grew a lot from it. And the best thing that happened... is my xH cheated on me.. because I now know true happiness. But for some people, it doesnt work out this way. So I dont want to encourage that you should tell. But on the other hand, it may end up being a good thing in the long run if the affair is discovered (not necessarily by you).

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Old 11th March 2019, 2:42 PM   #23
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Tell your mom, give her your evidence.
Anonymously if you have to, or even better have a trusted member of her family present.
Tell her yourself alone if you must.
In you heart you know its the right thing to do.
Maybe they will reconcile, maybe they won't.
Thats up to them, but your mom deserves to be able to make that decision informed.
If violence is a worry, there is the Sojourner project and countless women's advocacy organizations that can help with safety.

Be strong. Many people here reading this, even if they don't say so, believe in you and trust you to do the right thing.

You can do this.
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Old 11th March 2019, 2:47 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by kithin View Post
My dad is never violent. But in this case, he has a strong emotional relationship with the other person, not just sexual (as far as I can tell from the messages). That makes me more fearful of how he'd react. He might turn violent. He is much stronger than me. Also, he is very intelligent and I'm afraid of any plans he could make. I want to make a better plan of how this would be handled before he can make any plans of his own. I wish he could just get out of our lives and things could continue normally without him, but my mother might not want him out of her life. Maybe if he leaves she'd become depressed and it could ruin her life.


I am already seeing a counselor for other issues, but he's a counselor at college so he's probably more experienced with students who're stressed or depressed because of academics and jobs. I don't know what he'd have to say about this. But maybe I should wait for my next appointment.
Your feelings about wanting to solve this are normal, but it's your parents' place to navigate their relationship, not yours.

Not knowing you or more about your family situation, imo, it's unwise to counsel you on a message board as to what to do, other than to get professional help, which you already have.

This knowledge has impacted your life but the way it's handled probably will have an additional impact on your life and that's why you need support where you are in order to handle possible repercussions from your dad, should you decide to talk with him about it while you're still dependent on him.

We can guess all day long about your mother, whether she'd want to know or not, but chances are if your dad is spending long periods of time away from home the thought has occurred to your mother that he may be involved in activities with someone else. She maybe has decided to close her eyes to the situation for the time being. Then again, maybe she doesn't know.

Even if she finds out, chances are that she'll decide to stay with your father.

Imo, it would be healthy for you to talk with him about it at some point, for your own good. But, imo, it would be best for you to be coming from a place of strength within yourself and possibly from financial independence when you talk with him. You mention you don't like him and I believe you mentioned you're afraid of him (correct me if I'm wrong).

I eventually was able to confront my parent who cheated, but it was well after I was an adult, independent from my parents and healed of the damage it had done to me. I wish I'd done it earlier (not while dependent on my parents but earlier in my adulthood) but I wasn't ready.

Once I confronted my parent (who denied cheating, though I had seen it with my own eyes!) it was very freeing for me, even though it was denied.

This is a concern I have for you confronting your dad, is that he may deny it. Just because you have proof won't mean he won't try to get out of it, which is what I experienced.

Last edited by LivingWaterPlease; 11th March 2019 at 2:52 PM..
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Old 11th March 2019, 5:39 PM   #25
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What prompted you to download his private messages?
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Old 11th March 2019, 11:35 PM   #26
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I'm a parent who has been cheated on for a long time, and my spouse though not physically abusive on my person was selfish and abusive in many other ways. I'm divorcing now - but, that wasn't what was necessary prior to me being able to change my situation.

Trust your mother.

For a long time, my greatest joy was my child's ignorance about their other parent, my greatest challenge to be there for each of them as they lost that ignorance, my greatest strength to defend them, and greatest task to show them a better way to be and to love.

I had to do all of this without enjoining them in my own struggle, without allowing them to sacrifice anything of themselves or their own future.

Each of them had their own struggle with the other parent, their own pain to work through. They needed real and honest love - and they weren't going to find it in the other parent, I stayed right where I could be a daily example.

I'm inclined to believe your mother already knows. I think you've also known for a while now that things didn't add up, which is why you sought your father's messages and that's okay.

I think your mother is probably as equally burdened as you are - and neither of you is currently aware of how much compassion you have for each other.

Find a professional who can help you reconnect with your mother in a place where this new found honesty can be shared. The important thing isn't what your mom knows about her husband - it's the intention she holds for you.

You each have a chance to put your respective burdens downs.
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Old 12th March 2019, 6:51 AM   #27
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Thanks for replying. I'm afraid of my dad. I don't have the courage to speak to him, and I don't know whether he'll deny and would he be aggressive or violent toward me or my mom. I'm afraid of a major change, like divorce. The problem is, everything's kind of going on fine, although he's a cheater, he is good at hiding it and my mom is still happy with him (I think). My mom doesn't want to be alone. Also, they have many assets together. I don't know what would happen to the jointly owned home, what if he decides to continue living there and brings the other woman (I think that would be the worst thing). Also, my mom is financially independent but needs the home for job. What if he challenges me to tell my mom and she doesn't believe in me. What if he tells me he'll stop if I don't tell, but then he doesn't stop but just gets smarter at hiding it from me.

all the more reason to tell your mother. and don't be surprised if she already knows. i knew. i knew for way longer then my husband knew i knew. and i used the time to seek out legal advice. he got to ALL of our money and our safety deposit box before i did. but i went into his office on the daily and photocopied ever single piece of paper he had in there, then i put them back exactly the way i found them. i went thru the credit card bills and the phone bills. my my.

you mother needs to be prepared. you must help her.

any other action is self serving. you want to stick you head in the sand? your head might be next to your moms in there. she's got to face that you know and you might have to face that she might want you to butt out of her marriage. she may be quite happy that daddy's gettin it somewhere else. less work for mommy. she may not want to change a thing.

either way, after she has all the facts she might not want her husband to "know she knows" and you will have to keep her secret.

after that, get on with you life and leave the adults to deal with their own marriage.

none of this is your fault. read that again. and again.

e.n.
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Old 12th March 2019, 7:05 AM   #28
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I completely and totally disagree with this. You are their SON, not their marriage counselor.

This is NOT your problem to handle. you are the child, they are the adults. I hope you can find another trusted adult to speak to and help you navigate this. This is NOT your burden to carry and I'm really angry at your parents right now. No child (even though you are technically an adult) should ever have to be in the middle of parents marriage issues.
I agree.. as someone who DID tell my Step Mom on my Dad about his affair I can attest to the damaging effects it had on my relationship.

The last place a child should be is in between their 2 parents, this is too much for a child to carry and belongs with an adult.

Don't tell your Mom...

Although the chances are your Mom already either knows or suspects something.. My Step Mom knew but when my Dad found out I told her he brought down the wrath on me like no other time.

I say the very most you should do would be to tell an adult family member, at least the burden would be off your shoulders and onto theirs...
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Old 12th March 2019, 7:07 AM   #29
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I think your mother is probably as equally burdened as you are - and neither of you is currently aware of how much compassion you have for each other.

Find a professional who can help you reconnect with your mother in a place where this new found honesty can be shared. The important thing isn't what your mom knows about her husband - it's the intention she holds for you.

You each have a chance to put your respective burdens downs.
Beautifully said. I have an 18-year-old daughter, and I would hate for her to carry a burden such as this. She has enough to worry about simply with becoming an adult.
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Old 12th March 2019, 8:12 AM   #30
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My Step Mom knew but when my Dad found out I told her he brought down the wrath on me like no other time.
This is wholly on your Dad, there' no mistake here by you. The better man regardless of age was you - not your Dad. It's unfortunate if you didn't have good support at that time but, it was still very brave and compassionate to have told.

Their is a patent lack of integrity in any adult that expects their child to remain silently complicit in such egregious deception of the other parent or step parent.

What stands out to me as a parent is that you were struggling with this and your Dad was oblivious. Your Dad valued preservation of his exploits more than your welfare and emotional well being. The desire to tell your step mother means you already understood the selfish and shallow nature of how your Dad was relating to you both at that time.

Whatever relationship you have with your Dad now is the more honest and safe version. Painful as it is may have been, I think you established a healthy boundary with your Dad. To overlook the value of you standing up for your own principals would be the greater mistake.

Last edited by Turning point; 12th March 2019 at 8:16 AM..
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