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Dear Margo

She's shaken by father's infidelity

September 9, 2011

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Q. I’m having difficulty coping with the news of my father’s recent infidelity. I found out that he was in a short-lived relationship with another woman who is also married, and only a few years older than me. I never thought my father could be capable of such behavior. In truth, I’ve always had him on a pedestal. To me, he was the perfect worker, father, and husband. He was the bar by which I measured others. Now, knowing the truth, I feel my world shattering.

I need to be a rock for my mother. She needs me, but I can’t get past my own feelings of hurt to be any help to her. How do I get past my selfishness to be there for her? How do I act around my father when he wants to pretend that nothing happened?

TRYING TO COPE

A. You do not say how he and your mother have been dealing with his brief affair. Your hurt and your mother’s are quite different. Many girls make the ol’ man into Mr. Perfect, which of course is unrealistic. The fact that the fling was with someone close to your own age suggests a midlife crisis, or at the very least an aberration. I would hope you could internalize the fact that people often fall short of our expectations. You are not selfish because you are hurt, but remember that you are not the primary wronged party.

As for your dad wanting to pretend nothing happened, I hope you can tell him you are disappointed and hurt, and perhaps a useful discussion will follow. The bottom line is that I don’t think a child is the one who can really help the betrayed spouse . . . unless it is to listen and be supportive.

Q. I’m not sure if you can help me, but I figure it’s worth a try. My boyfriend and I were high school sweethearts. We’ve been together more than 10 years. We want to get married once our loans and debts are paid off, and “someday’’ is happily getting closer.

The problem is, while I know I absolutely want to marry him, I’m very unsure about a wedding. I’d really like to do something to celebrate the occasion, but I am completely intimidated by the planning and process of a wedding. I didn’t even attend my own college graduation. Plus, I bailed out of the graduation party my family was planning for me, so they canceled it.

I definitely want something more than a courthouse ceremony, and a “small, intimate wedding’’ won’t do because I have a large family. I also have an issue with all the hype around weddings and graduations. My boyfriend and I don’t drink or dance. We don’t even like having our picture taken. While I like some aspects of a “traditional’’ wedding (namely, the ceremony, dress, and cake), I would be nervous about the whole thing. Money also plays a huge role, as my boyfriend and I would be footing the bill ourselves. Any suggestions?

POTENTIAL RUNAWAY BRIDE

A. You are clearly not a girl who enjoys parties, celebrations, or attention. Luckily, your fella shares your views. Given what you tell me, I would definitely elope and save wear and tear, nervousness . . . and money. To make things more than a courthouse ceremony, why not invite both sets of parents, sibs, and only your closest friends to dinner without saying you will arrive there as man and wife? Ask the restaurant if they would prepare something wedding cake-ish for dessert. People will be thrilled with the surprise, and everyone will understand that you chose not to go the traditional route.

All letters must be sent via e-mail to dearmargo@creators.com.