How Do I Tell My Family That I’m Staying With My Spouse After He Cheated?

By: Katie Lersch:  It’s normal for people who love us to become outraged on our behalf when our spouse has cheated.  Many of our family and friends are every bit as hurt and shocked as we are. Often, it feels quite good to commiserate with them and to compare notes as to what an awful guy our husband is – until we change our minds.

Sometimes, there comes a point when we decide that we owe it to ourselves (or to our children) to try to save our marriage.  When this happens, we can wonder how in the world we are going to break this to those friends and family members who stood so closely by us.  You can worry that they are going to be angry with you or think that you are crazy or even weak.

Someone might explain: “I never intended to tell my parents about my husband’s affair.  At first, I tried to make it seem like my husband was going out of town, so I was just going to take advantage of the opportunity to stay at their house and to spend more time with them.  But once I was sitting with them at dinner, I started to cry.  And my dad asked me what was wrong.  And everything came spilling out.  My father was absolutely furious.  He went over to my home and screamed at my husband.  I actually thought they were going to come to blows. My father threatened my husband and told him that he had better not EVER see him around anymore.  The whole time that I stayed with my parents, my dad raged about my husband.  My dad was so hurt because he saw my husband as his second son.  He took my husband under his wing and spent a lot of time with him, so he was angry that my husband repaid him by cheating on his daughter. I understand this.  I was angry, too.  I participated in those dinner-time bashings of my husband.  But eventually, my husband and I started talking again. My husband took the initiative and found a counselor. By no means am I saying that I am sure that we will be able to work things out.  It possible that we will not be successful.  But I feel that I owe it to both of us to try.  I figure that if we try and it doesn’t work out, then at least I can know that I did give it my all.  I feel pretty decent about this decision. But I am scared to tell my family, especially my dad, because I feel like he’s going to be furious with me and so very disappointed.  How do I broach this topic without my dad thinking that I am crazy?”

I understand your hesitation.  You feel as if your father was a huge source of support and now you almost feel as if you owe it to him to remain loyal and to remain furious at your husband.  You almost feel as if it is betrayal to your father to give your husband a bit of a chance.  This is understandable.  But the truth is that this is no one’s marriage but your own.  So the decision is yours alone.  Of course, people can and will have their own opinions.  There is nothing that you can do about that.  But truly, the outcome of your marriage is not anyone else’s decision because no one else but you and your husband will be living in the marriage.

As to how to explain it, I think that you have to acknowledge the support that your family has given you, but ask that they support you in another way.  You might try something like: “Dad, I want to talk to you about something and I’m not sure that you are going to like this conversation, but it is a conversation that we need to have.  Words can not express how much I appreciate how much support you have given me in the last several weeks.  I do not know what I would have done without it.  But now, I’m going to ask you to support me in another way.  I’ve decided that, for my own peace of mind, I need to try to save my marriage.  I may or may not be successful with this.  But I feel that I at least need to try. I know that this is going to put you in an awkward situation and I know that the two of us may have to talk about other things for a while and put conversations about my marriage off of the table.  That’s OK.  My wanting to give my marriage one more try does not change my love for and appreciation of you.  And I hope that it doesn’t change your love for me.”

I think that it’s important to draw that line – that him supporting you is about his LOVE for you.  We don’t always have to like the path that our children are taking, but that doesn’t mean that we can’t support them anyway.  Yes, this may bring about fresh challenges.  But I think you will be okay if you navigate them with love and remember that your marriage is YOUR marriage.  People may have their opinions and wishes but the only opinions and wishes that should matter are yours.  You can still be your father’s daughter and love him very much, but keep your marriage separate from your relationship with your family.

Navigating extended family while trying to save my own marriage was tough, which is why I learned to be very selective about WHAT I shared and with whom.  You can read more on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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