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Love Letters

Does his father owe her an apology?

Q.

I have been in a relationship for eight years. About three years ago, my fiance learned that his father had been having a long-term affair. His mother had found evidence, confronted her husband, and was preparing for a divorce. She shared this with my fiance.

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Ultimately, they did decide to stay together. However, the experience wreaked havoc on my relationship. My fiance was angry at his father for the affair and angry at his mother for telling him about it. Not surprisingly, my fiance was upset and withdrew with worries that the “sins of the father would be bestowed upon the son.” And though I hate to admit it, I too suddenly had doubts. Would my fiance also have an affair? Could I trust him? Instead of starting from a place of trust, I found myself beginning from doubts and becoming even more possessive and insecure. Ultimately, his father apologized to him but never to me. It has been the elephant in the room at every family gathering.

I have told my fiance that I am hurt as well, and that I would like to discuss it. My fiance’s response: “Why?” He doesn’t think that my feelings are justified because his parents experienced a greater loss than me. The issue has driven a wedge between us because I feel like he doesn’t value my feelings. It’s also hurt my relationship with his parents because I have lost all respect for his father.

I know that this experience has exposed many weaknesses in this relationship, but I’m curious about just one aspect: Am I wrong to believe that there should be a discussion with his family that includes me, in which the affair is at least acknowledged? Am I expecting too much to believe that his father owes me an apology as well?

Boston

A.Your fiance’s dad hurt a lot of people when he cheated on his wife. For all you know, his co-workers are thinking, “Why isn’t he apologizing to us for bringing his relationship stress into the workplace?” For all you know, your fiance’s parents’ friends are thinking, “Shouldn’t he be chatting with us about how he messed with the dynamics of the group?”

You’re one of many people who got caught up in this mess. Your fiance’s dad might bring this up with you eventually, but for now he’s focused on his wife. That’s understandable, even though I absolutely empathize with your anger and frustration.

My hope is that he rallies as a parent and explains to his son that every marriage is different. My hope is that your fiance can watch his parents overcome a relationship tragedy with love and support. That would be a great lesson.

In the meantime, you need to focus on your own relationship. Separate yourself from this indiscretion and maybe your fiance will follow your lead. His parents are not the Ghosts of Christmas Future. They’re just two people trying to make it work.

READERS RESPOND

You are a funny chick, you want your fiance’s father to apologize to you for an affair that he had behind his wife’s back? The world revolves around you, and you alone, right? If you want to start worrying, begin with why after EIGHT YEARS your bf hasn’t married you yet.

What is she going to do with this apology she wants? Nothing. She isn’t going to forgive the father for sins he did against his own wife. She hates him and will continue to hate him as a convenient excuse to have a “wedge” between her and her fiance.

His father should apologize to you, LW? I don’t get that at all. Do you just want to be included in the walk of shame? I am having trouble understanding how you have even made the leap to making this about you, in any way, shape, or form. It’s not. You will be part of this family when/if you get married, but you are not now and if you keep putting more pressure on your fiance about this, it is unlikely that you ever will be.

You are not owed anything from his father. He cheated on his wife . . . not you. The fact that this has caused you to think your fiance may cheat on you has nothing to do with him, those are your thoughts and feelings alone. Be careful what you wish for. Should this “family discussion” about the affair ever occur, I doubt you will find it helpful at all. More likely, it will make everyone even more uncomfortable.

On the plus side, you and your fiance seem very well matched. Another couple has marital problems and you assume that means you’re going to have marital problems. And his father has an affair, and your fiance assumes he’s going to have an affair. Apparently you are both totally controlled by outside forces. Maybe this explains the eight years and still not married thing.

When it was revealed that my father had an affair, my sister was (and still is) extremely [upset] with him. I think the fundamental reason for that is because it introduced doubt into her relationship that wasn’t there before. But really, her relationship was not immune before, and it isn’t now. No relationship is immune. But also, no relationship is destined for cheating just because someone else’s had this happen.

You need therapy. If you are now worried about your relationship because his father cheated on his mother then you probably had the doubts all along. His father doesn’t owe you anything.

Maybe you are looking for a reason why you and your boyfriend haven’t gotten married after eight years? Bam! Father’s affair! And, maybe you’re thinking that if your fiance’s father apologizes to both of you, you’ll have this cathartic moment where you’ll just walk right to city hall and get the deed done? I think there’s more going on than your fiance’s cold feet following the revelation of his father’s affair. Maybe your fiance realized in hindsight that his parents’ relationship was troubled for years and he sees qualities of the same in his own.

You are correct that you are wrong.

Edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe .com. She chats online Wednesday at 1 p.m.

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