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Staying together for the kid

Posted by Meredith Goldstein  July 22, 2009 06:34 PM

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Good chat yesterday. If you missed it, there was some amusing talk about why short women date tall men. Apparently, that's a thing.

I also thought we did well with yesterday's letter, which, yes, was written by a woman. The letter writer wound up responding to the comments at the end of the night, so if you have time, look back to see what she said.

Today's letter is angry and sad. Let's help.

Q: Dear Meredith,

I recently discovered that my wife is (or was at least) having an affair. I had suspected something for a while though I never confronted her. Then I happened upon some cards and letters that make it undeniable. I only glanced at one or two cards and got the idea. I didn't want to know the rest.

If we were child and mortgage free, I would have had my things packed before she got home. But we have a beautiful three-year-old boy who is the center of my life. Unfortunately, if I confront her about this, there is a very real possibility that I will lose my son. My dad left home when I was about that age, and we did the weekend thing for a while, but it's not the same. I don't think it's possible to parent a child from another house.

I've kept this to myself in the 12 hours or so since I found the cards. But I don't know what to do. The marriage was essentially over anyway, so frankly I'm not that surprised. I have wanted to find someone else myself, but decided it wasn't worth risking separation from my son.


-- DJ, Burlington

A: DJ, first of all, so sorry. Finding those cards must have been … well … awful, despite the fact that they confirmed your suspicions.

You say your marriage was over before you found the notes -- but you don't tell us why. Some couples have an incredibly difficult time transitioning from lovers-without-obligations to parents-with-responsibilities. It's a whole new lifestyle, and romantic partners are just expected to roll with it and know what to do. I've never understood that. You have to talk to your wife about how this relationship unraveled. Tell her what you found. Hopefully, it will lead to an honest discussion about whether there’s something to salvage.

But let's say there's not. I get the sense that your real question here is whether miserable couples should stay together for the children. My opinion is -- no, they shouldn't.

You say you can’t parent from another home. I’d say you can’t parent well if you’re living in an angry home. Children are perceptive. They hear fights. They sense stress. They understand resentment.

Splitting a family between two homes isn't ideal, but it works. To me, it’s better than everyone living together as one, big, unhappy unit.

Talk to your wife. Maybe there's hope for the two of you as a couple. But if it’s really over, don’t stay together just because you love your son. It's not your parental obligation to be miserable but present. What you’re supposed to do is create a loving, happy environment for your son and have him around as much as possible.

Readers? Is this marriage really over? Should people stay together for their offspring? Share here. Twitter here. Submit your letters to the right.

-- Meredith

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169 comments so far...
  1. you will do more damage to your son if you stay in a loveless marriage where there is infidelity. kids are smart and will notice the tension and unhappiness... do yourself, your wife and your son a favor by ending it and getting therapy ( i know some people will say "enough with the therapy talk", but it works!). living a fake existance in the same home will not help matters. better to have 2 happy homes than 1 unhappy.

    Posted by nemo July 23, 09 11:06 AM
  1. Welcome to the modern world "DJ". Unfortunately, if you separate, not only will you lose your son - you will lose everything you own. Today's child support laws are still archaic relics from the 1950's, where the wife stayed at home her whole life. EVERY guy I know whom is divorced lives PENNILESS, usually living in some basement apartment (or with a relative); while the wife keeps the house and buys a nice new SUV. To add insult to injury, the current system doesn't factors in the thousands of $$$ that "Weekend Dads" pay for food and entertainment each week. I know dozens of men who are not only "staying for the kids", but also staying "to avoid homelessness". I say you have two choices: (1) get marriage counseling, if you think there is something to salvage (2) Quit your job, becuase you'll be living on the poverty level

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 11:06 AM
  1. It will be interesting to see the responses here today, because I think most of the LL readers are younger and without children, so IMO may have limited insight into this issue. That said, I think there are many couples that stay together for the kids, although perhaps not in as dire circumstances as the letter writer. The bottom line unfortunately is that there is no "right answer" and no "best solution" for this situation. But here the letter writer is assuming he would only have the kid on weekends. Why? If you continue to live in the same town, maybe there could be a more 50/50 split, which keeps the child's schooling intact but gives each parent equal access. Bottom line, as 'Dith writes, is to talk to your wife (as difficult at that may be) and see if you can hammer out a mutually acceptable solution. Hopefully she cards as much for your son as you do, so you'll come to a better answer than "stay together & be miserable" or "I only get him on weekends".

    Posted by Name Witheld By Request July 23, 09 11:08 AM
  1. "You say you can’t parent from another home. I’d say you can’t parent well if you’re living in an angry home. Children are perceptive. They hear fights. They sense stress. They understand resentment."

    Meredith hit it on the head. I'm going to be the guy to second it. Yes, I can understand that you want to be there for your son but if you stay in the relationship until he's 18, that's 15 FIFTEEN years of your life being spent in HELL. You don't deserve that man. You need to find someone who can make you feel better about where you're at in life. You have to do the right thing - for yourself. Your son may not even remember when Mom and Dad got seperated - but if you DO get separated, do it soon because it'll take him that much longer to get adjusted. He isn't going to hate you. You'll always be his dad. And you can raise him from another house. Perhaps even getting custody full time? Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

    BOTTOM LINE: Do not ever EVER leave your kid to be raised by someone else. You are the kid's father and the only man who can say that. Be there for him. Period.

    PS: Find a woman who will appreciate you, not depreciate you.

    Can I get an Amen?

    Posted by TheRevHortonHeat July 23, 09 11:11 AM
  1. DJ,

    I'm so sorry to hear about this. What a terrible way to discover your wife's affair.

    I understand that you want to stay for the sake of your son, but I think Meredith (as usual) is dead on. Your son, even at his young age, will pick up on your anger and resentment. A happy dad who does not live with him will serve him much better than a miserable dad who does.

    My parents split up when I was a teenager, but they should have split up when I was much younger. There was constant bickering and fighting in my house. Both of my parents had a very short fuse with my brothers and I because they were constantly angry at each other. It made for a very tense house throughout my adolescence. I couldn't wait to move away to college. After my parents split (and we actually continued to live with my dad), I got along MUCH better with both of them. Just something to think about...

    Good luck to you.

    Posted by Veggiesaregreat July 23, 09 11:14 AM
  1. Why were you considering packing your bags? You should pack hers and have them waiting on the doorstep with the locks changed when she gets home.

    As for the parenting from two homes, it can work if the noncustodial parent works their ass off to stay involved. If you end up divorced, don't give up just because it's tough. I have seen plenty of fathers like that and I want to punch every one of them.

    Posted by Advisor July 23, 09 11:16 AM
  1. Oh man, that is awful - so sorry. Never been married and don't have children, but I have been blessed to be raised in a home with two parents that are celebrating their 40+ wedding anniversary this month and adore one another. Truthfully, both my parents have told me that it has been A LOT of work to make their marriage work, and there were many times that they did not adore one another. However, as far as I know, both remained faithful. I can honestly say that the best gift my parents gave me was their love for one another. So, I guess all the advice I can give is – don’t give up on your marriage. You loved your wife at some point in your life – can you and your wife work to get back to that point?

    Good luck

    Posted by LuLuLemon July 23, 09 11:17 AM
  1. Meredith is right. DJ needs to confront his wife and figure out where the relationship broke down, decide if it's fixable and work from that point. Staying in an unhappy marriage is not best for DJ or his son. An unhappy home with two parents who don't want to be together can be more damaging for a child than two separate but happy homes.
    And DJ, don't assume you will be the one separated from your son on a daily basis. Work with your wife to find the best solution for you and your son, which just might be you taking physical custody.

    Posted by MJ July 23, 09 11:18 AM
  1. DJ, I don't know what the right answer is but I can relate to your statement that you don't want to be separated from your son. I have a son and the thought of living away from him and seeing him only on weekends is devastating. You didn't mention the facts regarding why your relationship with your wife was already over but hopfully if you confront your issues you might be able to work it out. Good luck.

    Posted by bgcomreader July 23, 09 11:20 AM
  1. DJ, why do you say there is a "real possibility" you would lose your son? Unless there is some reason you are not a fit parent, then you would be entitled to joint custody with your wife.
    Divorce stinks for everyone, especially the kids. But so does the hell of growing up in a household held together by a loveless marriage and desperately unhappy parents. You are NOT your dad and can find creative solutions to being present for your son.

    But first things first: you need to confront your wife and figure out what the two of you guys are going to do. This is not a decision you make all alone. Divorce, like marriage, needs to be a joint venture conducted in the best interests of the kids.

    Posted by move on July 23, 09 11:21 AM
  1. I am writing to you assuming your marriage is over.

    You can coparent. I do it with my ex. We live in the same town and our child goes back and forth. We are both fully engaged/involved. First of all, don't assume you'll get every other weekend - if you ask for shared custody, you will probably get it, as long as you and your child's mom are willing to cooperate. I'd suggest you use a mediator to come up with a plan. We each pay half of the costs. It can work. Work with your stbx to come up with a plan. It isn't easy - but it can work. And my child is so much better off with us living separately and happily than together and miserable.

    Good luck.

    Posted by Living Proof July 23, 09 11:22 AM
  1. Meredith is absolutely right; a strained, unhappy family with parents who don't want to be together makes for a bad environment for your son. So not only are you punishing yourself by not splitting with your wife, but you are also not helping your son out at all.

    Do as Meredith says: talk to your wife. If there's no way to rediscover a happy relationship with her, then talk about ways for you to stay involved as a parent if you split. When my parents separated, my dad insisted he wanted to spend time with us, but when I would spend the evening or the night at his apartment, he was busy talking with a girlfriend, trying to over-parent me, and so on (mind you, though, I was 17 at this point). A lot of non-custodial parents want to spend time with their kids not because they love their kids and want to spend time with them, but because they feel entitled to be called "parent," and they want the kids to like them better.

    And I get the sense that you truly love and want to spend time with your son. So I think that you could do this.

    Posted by sabend July 23, 09 11:22 AM
  1. First, I highly recommend "And Baby Makes Three" by John Gottman. Lots of very good advice about transitioning from a couple to a family. Lots of problem solving techniques. (He also has a book about marriage, somewhat overlaps the topics in the baby-related book).

    Second... Unhappy parents make unhappy children. Being a child of divorce I can speak from that perspective. My parents were unhappy for a very long time but did not separate until I was in high school. There is no tragic ending to tell of, my sisters and I all ended up well adjusted adults. However, there were many evening listening to fighting parents and feeling like it was my fault or wondering if I could have made a difference to prevent the fight. I think it also took longer for everyone to forgive each other for all the many wrong doings than if they had made a cleaner split when it was first apparent that they were not going to live happily ever after.

    Posted by Amanda July 23, 09 11:23 AM
  1. Yeah, you're going to have to confront and deal with this. If you're anything like me the resentment will only grow and fester without talking about it.

    Posted by boutful July 23, 09 11:23 AM
  1. DJ,
    My heart sank when I read this letter. I have a 4 year old-I couldn't imagine being in this predicament. Since your son is only 3, it made me wonder how long you have been married. It doesn't sound like it was that long. Why was the marriage essentially over? What happened in such a short period of time to tear apart your marriage and family? And were is your son when your wife is carrying on the affair- with her at the scene of the crime or at daycare? Mere is right. You do need to have a talk with your wife-just don't come at her prepared for a duel to the death with guns blazing.
    If the marriage truly is over, is there any chance you can get custodial rights (the toddler lives with you not Mom)? I know people who are divorced and both parents see their children 6-7 days per week. The parents stayed in the same community and work together to coordinate dropping off and picking up at school, sports, etc. The kids have dinner with Mom MTW and stay overnight, dinner and overnight with Dad TH, F, Sat.

    Posted by Anonymous July 23, 09 11:24 AM
  1. I write this in the nicest, least-sassiest way possible: It's not about you, DJ. You wrote about the possibility of losing your son. What about what your son is losing? There's no easy answer, but the quickest way to misery is to think only of yourself.

    Posted by Sally July 23, 09 11:24 AM
  1. Right up Rico's alley...hit off the sweet spot of his Louisville Slugger...And here we gooooooooo....

    Such a beautiful day and ruined by the content of this letter. So sorry to hear about your wife cheating on you and your son...That is right she cheated on BOTH of you. She is a rotten person for doing this regardless of whether the marriage was over or not...It is not over until you have divorce papers and have moved to seperate homes. Regardless there is a child which is more important than you or her and Meredith is 100% correct that you need to either split up or work out the marriage because an unhappy couple will ruin that childs upbringing. Rico totally understands the love for a child, there is nothing better than that innocent smile waiting for you when you come through the door after work, or first thing in the morning when they wake up...Ahhh to be a child again.

    Rico suggests that you tell us what went wrong that the marriage is over and when that happened so we can tell whether it is a total loss or not. Rico's first inclination is to tell you to hire a divorce lawyer, pack up and move out or have her pack up and move to her new boyfriend/girlfriend?. Rico is probably right in going this route since once a cheater always a cheater and you are already thinking of doing the same as she has...which is wrong. Cheating because she did is not an answer. Rico thinks maybe you should look to get more than just weekend custody and make sure you use it to be with him (as you said, center of your life) instead of like a previous writer that used the children in his dating.

    Rico knows people that are divorced and brought up well adjusted somewhat normal kids, those divorced parents some of which remain friends even now. Cheating is wrong and nothing can take back what she did but 2 wrongs don't make a right. If it is a marriage that can be fixed and you can live happily ever after forgiving each other for what has gone wrong then great. Rico is not that forgiving. Reading this letter makes Rico want to go home early to see his little one and his wife and give them both big hugs and kisses. You should do the same and everyone reading please go home and hug your loved ones. A hug is the greatest therapy known to mankind!!!

    Rico is here to help, so please fill us in on more details and we'll see what we can come up with. Rico hopes you are seeking some counseling on yoru own with a qualified professional to help you sleep at night. Maybe as a previous writer the other day said, you could split the house in two and live as "roomates". Just kidding, that would just be stupid. Rico thinks if you love your son and want to make it work you will find a way whether together with the cheater or in a new life of your own. Please don't run out and date right away, you will only confuse yoru child and hurt some women that might want more than you can give them right now. You are hurt and need to heal first. Your needs are to the back seat till you get yoru life in order and yoru son is cared for...then go out and enjoy.

    Love always and Rico hopes you are on to a better life....


    Gears not Gas

    Posted by Rico July 23, 09 11:25 AM
  1. I had the exact same experience as #5 (Veggiesaregreat). Separate now if the marriage is truly over. It's not fun being the kid listening to their parents fight constantly. After 10 years of constant bickering, we kids were so relieved when my parents finally separated.

    Posted by Found peace July 23, 09 11:25 AM
  1. My parents divorced when I was 9. I never remember them being close, and they had been doing the "stay together for the kid" act for years. I hated it. They fought constantly, called each other names, and I was there to witness all of it. When they divorced, it stopped. While it was difficult not seeing my dad every single day, my parents grew to respect each other. The fighting turned into disagreeing. I eventually saw my parents as happy individuals. You can raise children from a separate home. My dad remained involved in my life even though he lived in a different state. Don't let your unhappiness and anger seep into your child. They will be able to sense it.

    Posted by Julie July 23, 09 11:26 AM
  1. Since you have just discovered the letters and you are dealing with some powerful emotions right now, i dont think you should make any rash decisions. I think you should make plans to confront your wife and make immediate plans to see a marriage counselor. See if you can get an appointment by early next week.

    In the meantime, i suggest:
    1. Go for a long walk, run, or even a bike ride if you have a bike. Get some adrenaline pumping, blood flowing, and you will feel physical better.
    2. You need to vent to someone close to you. Is there anyone (a sister, best friend, etc.) you can call who is a good listener?
    3. Listen to or read online on other people's experiences with discovering infidelity, divorce, mortgage and custody issues since there have been countless people who have been in your shoes.

    You can make a promise to yourself and your son that you will always be there. Although you grew up with mostly your mom, times have changed (laws, technology, father's rights, travel) and it may not be as hard as you think to share custody. In times of crisis like the one you are in, I would try and focus on getting through the next 24 hours and try to not worry about the long term future just yet.


    Posted by trueluv4eva July 23, 09 11:26 AM
  1. I dont think you should compare your childhood to your son's. Just because you did the weekend thing with your dad, doesnt mean that you will do it with your son. My friend went through the exact same thing, however both her parents lived in the same town and she went to both of parents' homes as she pleased. The best thing to do right now would be to move on as amicably as possible, for everyone's sanity.
    Whats done is done. Don't make yourself miserable.

    Posted by korriv July 23, 09 11:27 AM
  1. I'm not sure why you think you would lose your son if she's the one who had the affair. I believe that would come up as a reason for divorce and in the custody arguments as well. In any case, children who see unhappy/angry/fighting parents never forget. The fights my parents had are still very vivid to me and I'm 41 years old. If you really want to do anything for your son, you should separate and live the happy life that you dreamed of. He may not understand it right now but he will be better off emotionally if he sees two happy but separate parents.

    Posted by ThingsAlwayslWorkOut July 23, 09 11:30 AM
  1. Dads can get screwed when marriages split up. Stick up for yourself and don't let it happen to you. Also, don't let the fear of it drive you to remain in an unhappy situation.

    Simple advice for a complex problem, I know - but try to think of the script you'd write for your future, based on your current situation. If it involves the woman you are with and a nuclear family - work for it. If it involves hands-on parenting of your son without your current wife - work for it.

    And....best of luck.

    Posted by Fievel July 23, 09 11:30 AM
  1. Not that there's a good way to find out about your spouse cheating on you, but it must've been terrible to get your doubts confirmed.

    1. Try couple counseling to get your relationship back on track if you have it in you to forgive your wife. Be honest with yourself as well as your wife about it and hopefully, both of you would want to make it work.
    2. If that fails or is not an option, then Meredith has given good advice - living together unhappily is worse than separating and having joint custody.

    Posted by The Dude July 23, 09 11:31 AM
  1. If you're going to stay together for the kids, it's going to make your life miserable (being with someone you don't really care for). You're not going to be able to hide your disdain, discomfort, and there will be plenty of fights and falling outs.

    And that will scar your child a lot more than growing up living in two different households. If you're going to split, make the split, be social, and create the best environment you can for your child.

    Posted by mz July 23, 09 11:34 AM
  1. Meredith is dead-on with this. I also think it's important to note that because your wife strayed, it's possible that you could use that as a bargaining chip for 50/50 custody. You obviously don't want things to get too messy and make it impossible for you to co-parent civilly, but her actions are essentially the reason you would be divorcing and if using that fact is going to help you spend as much time as possible with your son, use it.

    Posted by E July 23, 09 11:36 AM
  1. I'm going to respond with the assumption that the marriage is not salvageable.

    First, the every-other-weekend type of custody is not the only type of custody there is. More and more, people are opting to share custody 50-50. This is really the ideal arrangement for the child, provided the co-parents can work effectively together and do away with any hostility. A child deserves BOTH parents in their life. But, it does take motivated parents. Yes, it can work - and work well.

    I know this because I have had such an arrangement for 10 years now. We first tried the standard custody, and the kids missed their dad terribly, and dad was quite bitter (which I don't blame him). So we arrived at 50-50, and it's so much better all around for everyone.

    My kids are now 15 and 16 - and they would tell you that this is the best way to do it, and that they have a good life. I'm not just saying that because I wish it were true: my kids advise and reassure other kids going through divorce on this all the time, and if they were posting, they'd tell you this in their very own words.

    My ex and I both eventually remarried, and both of us are much happier in our second marriages. The kids see this and acknowledge it. They are at an age now that they can clearly see why mom and dad were not right for each other, but step-dad is right for mom, and step-mom is right for dad. And we give them the freedom to have loving, close relationships with ALL the parents in their life. It's not a competition for affection.

    There is a right way to handle integrating a new partner into your life, which would take another missive. But, a key point here is that you should both hold off a long while before adding a new partner into the equation (yes, go ahead and date on your free nights - just no introductions for a good long time). I would strongly recommend 4 years, as this is the average length of time it takes a child to work through his/her own issues. Your focus for those initial years should be on the child, and smoothing out the coparenting relationship.

    Sharing custody is challenging - especially considering my ex and I are vastly different in our values, beliefs, etc. But rising to those challenges has been very rewarding for all of us.

    I have often been asked why I didn't just rise to the challenge of fixing my marriage. For me, I was not strong enough to do that within the marriage. Instead, having the space to live separately - and the possibility to find a better partner for me someday - was what gave me the strength to work with him on all the sticky issues of co-parenting. As for him, having the opportunity to see his children a fair 50% of the time was what gave him the strength to keep working through it all.

    Posted by anecdotal evidence July 23, 09 11:36 AM
  1. Here's my quick story, and I'm sure there are many people with a divorce story........

    My parents divorced when I was 12. I was very very hard for me. but my 4 year old brother understood ntohign of it really. My 8 year old brohter kinda knew what was going on. How long did my parents live togther in misery, well it could have been years. I think back now to how they dealt with each other, family gatherings, even how they scheduled us our schooling and themselves, it was clear things were not right. They were married for 18 years when the split.

    It was definitly the hardest on myself, and when my mother moved away taking my brothers with her, it was heart breaking. When she remarried I was angry thougth she gave up on their marriage, thought she had an affair.....all the terrible things I could think up, I was 15. When my father remarried, I was 18, I was overjoyed for him.

    It was all about my age. At 18 I could see that the woman my father had met made him so happy, somehting I hadn't seen in him in many years. I did come to realize that my mothers new husband did the same for her and have become good friends with my stepfather. I am 28 now.

    I tell you this because you should know that right now your son is young and children are very very adaptable to new situations (probably more than you can imagine). As long as you are a regular presence in his life you should not fret. It is soooo aweful what has happened to you. But for your son you should live a happy life, and he will too. your life will reflect in his, and if you live an unhappy, angry, resentfull life around him, he will grow up thinking that is how people who are married live and love.

    Divorce does not have to be messy; it all depends on the couple of course and how it is approached, but it can be worked so that you AND your wife can raise your son. Find a mediator or thearpist or even a friend so that you can approach it without fighting or yelling. See if you can discuss the "state of the union" without confrontation. If it's really over over and you have surpassed the stage of a calm business-like discussion of where you can go from here, then proceed with a lawyer.

    Posted by KMH July 23, 09 11:38 AM
  1. DJ, if the marriage is truely over, don't stay together just for the kids. Kids can tell when things aren't right. I was divorced when my kids were 3 and 5. It's hard, but with communication and a civil relationship with my ex (this also a key ingredient to making it ok) things have worked out . It's been ten years.....It helps if you stay local so as your son gets older he doesn't have to leave his friends behind when he switches locations and miss out on birthday parties and school events, etc. It also makes it easy to go to his school/ sporting events. There are lots of creative ways to deal with custody so it works for your family.....many books written on the subject.

    Posted by shell24 July 23, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Do not assume your marriage is over. My husband and I felt the same way. We had a similar situation. We have a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old son. We both come from divorced families.
    After seperating and a year of individual counseling and 4 months of marriage counseling - I believe this can be saved. It is very hard work.
    If it works out - it is worth it. If it doesn't - then we gave it all we had and we will be able to co-parent well.

    Posted by kristine July 23, 09 11:40 AM
  1. Do not assume your marriage is over. My husband and I felt the same way. We had a similar situation. We have a 6 year old girl and a 3 year old son. We both come from divorced families.
    After seperating and a year of individual counseling and 4 months of marriage counseling - I believe this can be saved. It is very hard work.
    If it works out - it is worth it. If it doesn't - then we gave it all we had and we will be able to co-parent well.

    Posted by kristine July 23, 09 11:40 AM
  1. DJ, if the marriage is truely over, don't stay together just for the kids. Kids can tell when things aren't right. I was divorced when my kids were 3 and 5. It's hard, but with communication and a civil relationship with my ex (this also a key ingredient to making it ok) things have worked out . It's been ten years.....It helps if you stay local so as your son gets older he doesn't have to leave his friends behind when he switches locations and miss out on birthday parties and school events, etc. It also makes it easy to go to his school/ sporting events. There are lots of creative ways to deal with custody so it works for your family.....many books written on the subject.

    Posted by shell24 July 23, 09 11:40 AM
  1. What an awful situation. I can't begin to imagine how you must feel. The only thing that I can say is that your son deserves to be raised by parents that are happy, whether happy means together or separate. It is setting no kind of example to stay together for him. He could grow up with a distorted view of how relationships are supposed to be, or worse, begin to resent you for staying just for him. Kids are perceptive, he will eventually catch on to this. Plus, why wait? Hating home is a lousy feeling. You shouldn't have to put your life on the back burner. He would benefit much more from seeing that his father is a strong man that loves life. Either way, whatever happens, best of luck.

    P.S. Amen, Rev.

    Posted by sm1231 July 23, 09 11:41 AM
  1. Sally, would you wite that to a woman that said she was afraid of losing her child???

    Posted by B July 23, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Once your anger subsides (and that will be a task!) you will find peace and settle into a new life.

    Your son will always love you and over time will appreciate your attention and sacrifies, and hopefully understand why things happen the way they did.

    Don't vilify your wife to him as he needs to love his mother too. Just be glad its over begin to build a new life--with your son as its focus.

    Posted by beenthere July 23, 09 11:42 AM
  1. Ban Rico! Gas not Gears !!! Get 'em with the door!

    Now, you have to discuss this with your SO. Note I did not say confront. The only healthy way for this to resolve, whether its a break up or not, is to discuss it. It's healthier for your son to figure it out. Don't assume you would lose him. It's not the 60's anymore.

    Oh yeah, Ban Rico !!! A true waste of Carbon, which I am sure he thinks makes him super wicked cool on his bike. Rico, you and Armtsrong or a Contador man?

    Posted by byubba July 23, 09 11:48 AM
  1. DJ,
    My heart sank when I read this letter. I have a 4 year old-I couldn't imagine being in this predicament. Since your son is only 3, it made me wonder how long you have been married. It doesn't sound like it was that long. Why was the marriage essentially over? What happened in such a short period of time to tear apart your marriage and family? Before finding the letters and cards recently, had you and your wife actually sat down and discussed what was going wrong and what could be done to make things right? And reading this I wondered where your son is when your wife is carrying on the affair- with her at the scene of the crime or at daycare? Mere is right. You do need to have a talk with your wife-just don't come at her prepared for a duel to the death with guns blazing.
    If the marriage truly is over, is there any chance you can get custodial rights so the little guy can live with you fulltime? Afterall, it sounds like you are the more stable parent. I know people who are divorced and both parents see their children 6-7 days per week. The parents stayed in the same community and work together to coordinate dropping off and picking up at school, sports, etc. The kids have dinner with Mom MTW and stay overnight, dinner and overnight with Dad TH, F, Sat
    If you feel the marriage is truly over and you want custody, you need to take copious notes e.g. dates, times, incidences, witnesses when your wife was out cavorting with her new paramour (yes, illicit lover) while the little guy was left in the carseat or dumped at grandma's. Also, keep a record of any other behavior which might constitute neglect, abuse or exposure to inappropriate situations.


    Posted by You lost that loving feeling July 23, 09 11:48 AM
  1. DudeGuy, Regarding child support: if you share custody 50/50, you have the option to request that child support be waived. You both need to be in agreement about that, and if your wife makes a lot less, the courts may overrule, but it's possible.

    In our case, I had been a SAHM so we did have child support payments for the first year, until I got back on my feet financially. Then we had it waived. Day care and other expenses we split equally. There have been times when I've struggled (like when I got laid off) and he chipped in to cover some expenses, so the kids wouldn't go without - but no check directly written to me.

    Otherwise, I agree wholeheartedly that the standard custody with child support is an awful system. Financially, it really hurts *both* parents. Mom may get that check, yes, but she does not have the time to really devote to a career that dad has, since she has the kids round-the-clock. 50/50 solves that, because you can then balance it all out a lot easier.

    Posted by anecdotal evidence July 23, 09 11:48 AM
  1. My parents divorced when I was young, and at the time I remember thinking “well I guess people get divorced all the time, you figure it out, move on, no big deal” but years of hindsight have proven my optimistic child self very wrong. As a child of divorce I’ve given a lot of consideration to the institution of marriage and I’ve come to one solid conclusion: People DO NOT try hard enough.
    Marriage is not an simple thing or a hobby you can drop when it’s lost it’s newness. It’s like a job, it’s something you need to get up and DO every day, and sometimes it’s easy and some days you wonder why you can’t just quit and stay in bed, but this is your job, you do not have a choice.
    People say they know that marriage isn’t easy but I think the divorce rate shows how naïve adults can really be. People change. Feelings change. We are not rocks that sit stagnant waiting for our environment to shift around us, as humans we are ever changing as are the other people around us. We know this, yet we still let ourselves be surprised when people change.
    You say the marriage was basically over before you found these cards and letters. I can’t dispute that, obviously I am not a spectator of your life. But given what you said I ask: before finding those letters, what was the last thing either of you did to improve or fix your marriage? Counseling? Have you talked about where your relationship has been heading? Have either of you discussed what you could possible do to make each other happier?
    You loved each other enough to build a life and conceive a child. Now you need to love your child (and each other) enough to give absolutely everything you have to fight for the life you built together. Marriages are not disposable. You need to do everything you can to wade through the disagreements and silence and those seemingly insurmountable problems until you get down to the bare bones of your relationship. And from there you decide. Is this really a relationship that is lost from any hope, a situation where it is unhealthy to be together? Or you decide to start to work through it piece by piece.
    I’m not saying divorce is wrong. My parents should never have stayed married, so please know I’m not saying it isn’t an option. I’m saying it CANNOT be a get out of jail free card. So don’t stay together for your childs sake. Take the time your marriage deserves and see if you can stay together because you can still love the person you married.

    Posted by Sam July 23, 09 11:50 AM
  1. Wow. A repeat of my situation over 15 years ago, now. It was REALLY tough to walk away from my 5 year old son. It was an ironclad bi***ch to make 8 hour roundtrips to Maine and back for 3 day weekends with my son. I wore a groove into the Maine turnpike and 495 from Westborough. I NEVER got one piece of grade school '"refrigerator art", Father's day cards, etc and so on. It was a tough one, for a long time. But, here's the other side: my son now lives with me and my 2nd wife of 12 years, is in college, is doing great, has found out there really lis life out of the state of Maine. We have connected in a tight bond that I didn't think possible, he & I are stronger now, than I think we would have been in "staying together for the kids" The ex is still struggling by in Maine, (the way life should be, ha), and the tide has a way of turning, my friend. So, the ex told me once, "if you ever get the chance to fool around with someone else, don't. You'll end up regretting it for the rest of your life." Funny her saying that, since she "fooled around" plentty on me, and her 2nd husband, and is on hubby number 3. There is a good ending, I hope for you, it will take a l-o-n-g time. Work on it. Love your son, yourself, and follow what you think is right for you, and son, forget her. she has forgotten you.

    Posted by ell_dee_pee July 23, 09 11:51 AM
  1. Whatever you do, don't listen to DudeKidGuywhatever (#2). He's a dope and his advice is meaningless.

    Posted by dude get a life July 23, 09 11:51 AM
  1. You shouldn't stay in a marriage that's not good. It sounds like you don't think that a true reconciliation is possible, so divorce is likely. I have adult friends who were kids of divorce. They remember everything that went on, even now. My sister just got divorced. Her kids are 16, 13, 8 and 4. My husband I don't have a perfect relationship, but we are in it for the long haul and it's been almost 20 years. We have decided to have the kids at our house often so they can observe a healthy relationship to model their own after. Hopefully you will find someone with whom this is possible. And, you can be a dad sharing custody. You can make it work.

    Posted by Marie July 23, 09 11:52 AM

    Posted by Renee July 23, 09 11:53 AM
  1. DJ,
    My heart sank when I read this letter. I have a 4 year old-I couldn't imagine being in this predicament. Since your son is only 3, it made me wonder how long you have been married. It doesn't sound like it was that long. Why was the marriage essentially over? What happened in such a short period of time to tear apart your marriage and family? Before finding the letters and cards recently, had you and your wife actually sat down and discussed what was going wrong and what could be done to make things right? And reading this I wondered where your son is when your wife is carrying on the affair- with her at the scene of the crime or at daycare? Mere is right. You do need to have a talk with your wife-just don't come at her prepared for a duel to the death with guns blazing.
    I know people who are divorced and both parents see their children 6-7 days per week. The parents stayed in the same community and work together to coordinate dropping off and picking up at school, sports, etc. The kids have dinner with Mom MTW and stay overnight, dinner and overnight with Dad TH, F, Sat
    If the marriage truly is over, is there any chance you can get custodial rights so the little guy can live with you fulltime? Afterall, it sounds like you are the more stable parent. To get custody you need to take copious notes e.g. dates, times, incidences, witnesses when your wife was out cavorting with her new paramour (yes, illicit lover) while the little guy was left in the carseat or dumped at grandma's. Also, keep a record of any other behavior which might constitute neglect, abuse or exposure to inappropriate situations.

    Posted by You lost that loving feeling July 23, 09 11:53 AM
  1. Let me just say that this is a brutal situation. I have no jokes at all and I apologize in advance for the wordiness of this.

    Many of us can relate to LW and before I say anything else, let me make it crystal clear that in my opinion, there is no RIGHT answer. Each situation is different and there are too many variables to make any kind of blanket statement (“You should stay together for the kids” or “You need to separate for the kids”). Anyone that thinks otherwise is making a serious error in judgment.

    After having children, we (meaning men and women) become a new entity. Our entire lives, our purpose, and our priorities are all irrevocably altered. If we can accept these changes, try to adapt to them, and be willing to work hard to find an adequate balance (not every day, but over the long haul), then we can be successful in our other relationships (marriage, work, our parents, our siblings, friends, etc.).

    If we cannot find the balance and most importantly, be willing to have our own self-serving tendencies take a diminished role, then there is little or no chance of success. For many people, it is just too difficult to accept that it is not all about you any more. You cannot count on your spouse to give you the same attention as he/she did when you were dating or in your pre-children married life.

    If you are unfulfilled, then you need to communicate these feelings instead of letting them fester, you need to accept some blame, AND you need to fill some of the void within yourself. I cannot stress strongly enough that both men and women need to foster hobbies and activities that can instill a sense of pride, a sense of self-worth, and define you as something other than a Mom or a Dad.

    In many ways, I am this man and I am still questioning whether or not I did (am doing) the right thing and not a day goes by that I don’t wonder how my young children will judge me as they get older.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss July 23, 09 11:54 AM
  1. The marraige is a lifelong committment that is not simply desolved because it is no longer convenient. I guess this is the problem with thinking it is "ok" to be romantic partners before each person knows the other enough to commit to a lifelong relationship. Call me old fashioned, but relationships based on romantic interests are both irresponsible and yes stupid. This type of "do whatever you want and whoever you want regardless of the consequences" type of thinking is one of the reasons our country is in such moral and even financia decay.

    Posted by TB July 23, 09 11:55 AM
  1. I am from a home in which my parents probably SHOULD have gotten the big D. Instead, they stayed together, most likely for mine and my sister's sake, and the results were, you could say, mixed. My sister and my father, who's since passed away, were almost completely estranged. She recently told me that she doesn't miss him, which really hurt. I remember heated arguments, bitter resentment, and a host of bad habits for all four of us that formed as a result of a tumultuous but "together" household. I think sometimes about what might have been if there were indeed two homes and I don't know if it would have been better, but it might have been less stressful on us all. I agree with Mer. Everyone in the same household could be a good thing, but not at the expense of everyone's sanity and happiness. I emerged somewhat unscathed, but I'm now married and 35 and have no plans for children, largely because I fear history repeating itself.

    Posted by bound with crazy glue July 23, 09 11:55 AM
  1. Part 2

    LW is hurt. He wants out of the marriage but won’t ‘betray’ his child. It’s been over for a while and the letter he found were the proverbial kick in the crotch while he was already dazed from the gradual emotional abandonment by his wife. I assume that the child has become the focus of his life over the last three years and that has filled in some of the void from the erosion of his relationship with his wife. I assume that the wife did not take the same approach to dealing with the emotional deterioration of the marriage. She did not look within or look to the child to fill the void, but rather, she sought emotional comfort (and more) from someone else. I have my feelings about this, but it’s counterproductive to introduce them into the mix at this point. Right now, the focus needs to be on the present and future (if applicable).

    The key questions:

    Is there any hope that LW and his wife can salvage the relationship by getting everything out on the table and dedicating themselves to changing?

    Do they feel it’s worth the effort? That is, have either of them already closed the door?

    Can they both get past the emotional hurt and long term effects of conflict and anger that have stacked up like a brick wall between them?

    While they try to repair the relationship, can they be civil and almost business-like with each other? Not hearts and flowers all the time, but at least a peaceful co-existence while they work through healing and taking corrective action. As Meredith points out, kids can sense tension and the shrapnel of continued battling will leave life long scars on the child.

    That's all I've got.

    - Hoss

    Posted by Hoss July 23, 09 11:56 AM
  1. I just went through this same thing and understand what you are going through 100%. You have a long road ahead and there will be many more downs than there are ups.

    You said the marriage is over so I’m not going to go down the reconciliation road. I could write paragraph after paragraph about how the court system is going to be against you and that women are protected 100%. You won’t even be able to bring up the infidelity in your divorce (unless you want to spend enormous amounts of time and MONEY to do so).

    My concern is your son and you. It is very important for you to maintain a good relationship with him. You need to be there for him. You will have difficulty doing this everyday and sometimes it may not feel like it is worth it, but it is. Your son needs you more now then ever. Get closer to him and just be there for him. That will help you. Being a single father being away from my beautiful 7 year old girl is the toughest thing I have had to face (even after the infidelity). I see her as much as I can and when I’m not with her, it hurts. Just realize that you are important to him and just show him all the love he needs. Things will work out and your relationship with your son can actually get stronger. I know for me, I am closer to all of my children and they know that I love them dearly.

    Good luck and if you need someone to talk to please feel free to reach out to me. Meredith, please give LW my email address if he wants it.

    Posted by EE July 23, 09 11:56 AM
  1. Dudeguy's advice is not based on Mass family law. I find that when parents spout anger at the courts nowadays, it is either that their cases were decided 10 or more years ago when the laws were different or there is a serious perception problem (i.e., the dad railing about lost custody had abused the mom and *that* is why he lost custody; or with the money, a simple inability to understand how expensive it is to raise a child). Courts like joint custody. They like shared parenting plans. If you stay close by, there is a strong likelihood that you can seek and win *shared* legal and physical custody. There is no presumption for sole custody anymore. Consult an attorney. Do not assume you will get nothing. Custody tends to go to the primary caregiver, so if your wife has been a stay at home mom for the past 3 years, that is why you are less likely to get full custody, but even shared is still likely there. Talk to a lawyer. Dont stay miserable for the sake of the child; you would not be doing well by your child, in reality.

    Posted by jlen July 23, 09 11:59 AM
  1. So sorry. How heartbreaking. Of course you will need to speak to your wife, but unfortunately, in this society, and I have to agree with "DudeGuyKid et al," you should also contact a divorce attorney as well. Your wife is the one who cheated, and you discovered this, therefore, the grounds for divorce, if that comes to pass. You will need to protect yourself as well as your assets. I do know of a few dad swho are divorced and yes, unfortunately, wages have been garnished because of the child support laws. I think once you get something in writing with an attorney, you can move on to discuss legal custody of your son. Once again, unfortunately, I think for things of this nature, an attorney must be present. No one says you have to be a "weekend" dad. There are many amicable ways to approach this, and your son, being as young as he is, will adapt to this and most likely flourish because there will be no hostility in the home. I was so happy when my dad left my family when I was about 10. All the tension disappeared and it was a huge relief. I never did believe in staying together "for the sake of the kids." Your son will thank you later in life.

    Posted by bhm627 July 23, 09 12:02 PM
  1. Having come from a household where the parents staying together for the sake of the children I can honestly say - DON'T!
    My parents should have maybe split up when I was10 but stayed together until the youngest was 18 and finished with high school. Although they were civil (mostly) to each other and very devoted parents to all three of us kids - they weren't fooling anybody. All of us kids knew that they were not in love with each other and also (unfortunately) knew about the few times when one of them strayed outside of the marriage to get what they needed (something that is inevitable in a situation like this). In the end not only did the end up splitting up, but they ended up warping our view of what a marriage should be.

    Posted by -M July 23, 09 12:03 PM
  1. Reading this letter made me so sad. When I was in high school my dad found out about my mom's affair in essentially the same way. He wasn't snooping - in fact, I think my mom left the evidence "available" in the hope that it would be enough to finally end a long, unhappy marriage. My dad chose to stick around and it was awful. They couldn't stand to be around one another and left me alone most of the time. It was lonely, isolating and miserable - and I felt like it was all my fault (because I'm sure they would have split up long ago if I weren't in the picture). I couldn't leave for college fast enough.

    Luckily your son is still young enough to be relatively oblivious - please leave and give all three of you a fighting chance to actually be happy. You all deserve it.

    Posted by sneeks11 July 23, 09 12:04 PM
  1. One quick sound byte--I think it's from Dr. Phil. "It's better to be from a broken home than IN one." Kids really are perceptive, you can't fool them. If you try, they end up questioning their own gut feelings, and that's not good.

    Posted by Marie July 23, 09 12:05 PM
  1. B, #34. Yes.

    Posted by Sally July 23, 09 12:07 PM
  1. I recommend talking to a lawyer before you even bring it up with your wife. Your lawyer may recommend making some financial moves first to protect your credit and assets. Also, if you move out, it might later be seen as a negative by the court. Let your lawyer prepare you for any eventuality. Hopefully, your wife will see that you are a good dad and be reasonable and the two of you can do what's best for your son and create a civil cooperative joint custody environment. But you never know how someone will react...you may see her turn into a completely different woman when confronted with your accusation and she may really turn on you, even though she is the one in the wrong. Be prepared.

    I'm really sorry this happened. It's important to think long and hard before bringing it up with her...have your emotions as in control as possible.

    Posted by yikes July 23, 09 12:08 PM
  1. Oh I've been in your shoes and I am so sorry for you. My husband and I would have split three years ago (he cheated on me for the first three years we were married and it turned out that that was just the tip of the iceburg) were it not for the house and kids. However, when we got married we were both single parents (one child each) and committed that we would stay together, come hell or high water, until the kids are grown (20 years) rather than put them through another family breakup (neither of us were married before). I just never thought we'd have to test that commitment so early and so literally.

    When I found out about his affair, I was stunned that it had started so early but not that it had happened, as we had also drifted apart and I was very interested in someone else. Meredith is right - those first few years of marriage and parenting a young child turn everything on it's head. We were both experienced parents and even we had a tough time adjusting to being married with kids, and then more kids.

    OK so what do you do now? Obviously you'll need to confront your wife, and it will be messy and ugly. My husband and I actually ended up having the inital confrontation via e-mail (I knew for weeks and gathered evidence during that time), then over the phone. It was awful, but at least the kids weren't around. You need to go to counselling - probably each separately as well as together. Take time and care in finding the right therapists - some are great, some are a waste of time and money. Some other resources that helped me/us were the marriagebuilders.com website, the books "After the Affair" and "Too Good to Leave, Too Bad to Stay" and the realization that most marriages in which there is an affair (which is, sadly most marriages) DO survive.

    Overall, you and your wife have a long, hard road ahead of you. You have a lot of legitimate, negative feelings to work through. You have no idea what her reaction will be - she could be remoreseful, she could be resentful, she could think that she is so "in love" with her affair partner that she's ready to jump to greener pastures only to wake up weeks or month's later and realize what she's done. I don't think the enormity of the situation will hit her immediately. I don't think that my husband really knows how much damage he did or how much of our marriage will never be the same.

    So do you have to stay together forever because you have a child? Of course not. But I am of the opinion that as parents, we have to at least try to repair this kind of situation. We owe our children, at the very least, our best efforts at keeping their family intact. If, after you both give it your best effort, things still don't work out, you can at least move on to the next chapter of your family's book knowing that you did everything you could, you left no stone unturned, and your conscience is clear.

    Good luck to you.

    Posted by Jen July 23, 09 12:08 PM
  1. wow, where are all the people (usually men) who usually jump on top of people (usually women) for snooping or reading things (emails, notes, texts) that don't belong to them? it's "sad" when the shoe is on the other foot, huh guys? unless she pinned these to the refrigerator, i'm wondering how he had cause to find them and "glance" at them.

    why are we assuming that this guy is a stand-up husband just because he wants to take care of his child? why do we assume his wife isn't cheating because she's been neglected/ignored/abused, etc.? there's something sticking out about how he is sure he would lose his kid. why? is there something he isn't telling us about himself, his behavior, his past relationships? drugs? abuse? alcohol?

    why save the marriage when it's clearly already one full of cheating, abandonment, and snooping? just do the best you can, don't move far away from each other, and shoot for 50/50 custody. it's better than raising your kid in a home full of hate and distrust.

    Posted by that's alright. July 23, 09 12:12 PM
  1. First, ((((((Hoss))))))

    To those recommending the LW use his wife's affair to gain the strategic advantage in the divorce:

    That would be a really stupid move. For one thing, the courts DON'T CARE. In MA, having an affair will not affect outcome at all - unless your wife is having sex on the breakfast table in front of the kids while they eat their Cheerios.

    This will paint you as spiteful and vindictive, and will be effectively lobbing the first bomb in a messy, dragged out, expensive, hostile legal battle.

    It will not set the stage for a peaceful, mature, business-like, co-parenting relationship going forward.

    I think I will add some of the best divorce advice I've ever heard here, as it seems appropriate: you know the marriage is over when you just don't care anymore, when all the hostility is gone and drained out of you, when your partner's affair means little to you. If you are not yet at that place, then I advise you to go to counseling and work through those feelings first. It's going to be hostile and icky whether you are in the same house or not, so might as well work through it all now, instead of dragging it through the courts, which will be to your detriment.

    Posted by anecdotal evidence July 23, 09 12:14 PM
  1. she cheated on him, but no doubt some moron judge in this commonwealth won't give the father custody - oh no, we can't do that! such a shame...because he's right in that he will hardly ever see his kid and this "wife" of his will probably just use the kid as a power play against him in court to defend her disgusting actions. good luck DJ, and meredith is right; center of your life or not, that child is better off with one parent most of the time instead of two resentful parents all of the time. eventually, your daughter will grow up and find out who did what in truth, and if there are any sides to take at that point, she'll likely take yours.

    Posted by FJ July 23, 09 12:16 PM
  1. Rico has this to add:

    Sorry Rico didn't say this earlier but of course someone else said it and said it well. You need to go out and run/bike/swim or whatever to blow off some steam and settle yourself down before you use that energy the wrong way. Taking a step back and analyzing the situation will make you see things clearer. Talking to family or friends is great but a qualified counselor that is unbiased will be of better help. Divorce just plain sucks with or without child(ren).

    Rico will check in later and see how it's going, for now he is just going for a walk outside before the rains come...

    Love always,


    Could care less about the tour-de-france but do appreciate Armstrongs cancer charitable contributions...otherwise he comes across as a mommy's boy weenie.

    Posted by Rico July 23, 09 12:16 PM
  1. The biggest myth concerning marriage is that it is good to "stay together for the kids." I knew my parents didnt like each other from as early as I could remember. Because my parents stayed together for most of my childhood despite constant fighting and never getting along, it warped my mind when it came to relationships. I thought all families were like this. I used to go over my friends house and see my friend's parents getting along, respecting each other, having normal conversations, and think to myself, these people are so fake. I thought THEY were the abnormal ones. Meanwhile, I never invited friends over my house when I was younger because I was so embarrased of my friends seeing my parents fight. Obviously this effected my childhood greatly in terms of having friends and social connections. When my parents finally divorced when I was in high school, it was a great relief. There was finally peace in the house and I could start living a normal childhood. Get divorced FOR the kids.

    Posted by PM July 23, 09 12:17 PM
  1. There is no doubt about that. You have a choice to stay or not to stay as a couple. The son does not have a choice. If we ask the children most of them will answer that the parents should stay even there are unhappy. They follow their pure instinct.


    Posted by EY July 23, 09 12:18 PM
  1. DJ, - Sorry to hear about the problems at home. As a male in his early 20's - heres how i see it. I come from a divorced couple - and further more was still raised more by my grandparents. my parents split when i was about 4, I moved in with my mom, but she worked so much my grandmother took care of me. My dad was always working alot (part of the marriage problems) and for whatever reason did not gain/get/try to take custody.

    I know divorce 1st hand as a child - and let me tell you, my parents were great to each other - and ALWAYS put me first. Remember to put YOUR son FIRST through everything - show how much you really love him. You can agree to disagree with your wife, both move on. if you both love your son (im sure she loves him the same as you) - then you need to separate. Your son will likely not understand at 1st, thats ok, i didn't. What is important is to love him, put him first. Trust me, all else will work out. Today my dad and i are very close, and he has helped me in many ways, with college, etc. You CAN BE A GOOD DAD without being in the same household. Best of luck.

    Posted by Mike July 23, 09 12:21 PM
  1. I'm so sorry to hear this. My mother went through something similar when I was in high school, and I lived through it as their daughter. My father had been having an affair for awhile, until my mother found a letter the woman had written to my father. As a child, I was not close to my father, and I could not understand why my mother did not divorce him. You could even say I wanted them to divorce. My mother yelled at him nonstop for several days, and to stand up for her, I too confronted my father about this in front of my mother; it was the only time in my life I have truly yelled at my father. I have never forgiven him for causing my mother so much emotional distress, and I have never looked at my father the same way. I will say, however, that now I understand as a grown woman that she simply did not have the financial security to divorce him and live on her own. Secondly, as an adult, I am ultimately glad my parents did work it out, but I think I would have been okay had they parted ways. It's always hard to predict the what-would-have-been.

    My advice to you is to keep silent for a bit longer and really think about whether you want to stay in this marriage, and whether your wife's feelings / wants / needs would change your decision. Next, I would learn more about child custody laws. Before confronting your wife, talk to a friend who is a lawyer and find out if there is anything you can do now to secure custody of a child you want to raise. I have heard that custody is usually granted to the mother; perhaps there is something you can do before you confront your wife to ensure that the relationship you have with your son is not in jeopardy. Good luck, I hope everything works out for you.

    Posted by Anonymous July 23, 09 12:24 PM
  1. Go to a lawyer before you confront your wife. Figure out what you need to do to ensure you have the best chance to have as much a role as possible in the kid's life. The courts are usually favor the women in these situations, no matter what she may be like or may have done, so be sure you have a good lawyer before you do anything. Stand up for yourself, and, most of all, fight for your relationship with your child. And leave the wife.

    Posted by done July 23, 09 12:26 PM
  1. DJ, Your marriage is over. Nothing to salvage here. It is time to move on. You are not alone. Fifty percent of marrage end up in divorce nowadays. The thought to stay for the kid is nice but if you do, you end up hurting your son. He will never know what a happy family looks and feels like. He may think that the relationship that you two have is the normal one. You will also set a bad example for him to live miserably at all cost.

    You are wrong to assume that once you divorce you will lose your son. I am divorced and I am with my kid a minimum 5 days, and usually 7 days a week. We have a no-fault divorce and joint PHYSICAL and LEGAL custody. My kid actually ends up spending most of the time with me (we let the kid decide where to spend the time and don't force it to make it exact 50% each).

    Yours will not be a no-fault divorce. Your wife is at fault since she has an affair. Document it so she can't deny it. If you have been actively involved in raising your son and are willing to continue to do so, you have a good chance at it. Her affair should give you an advantage in property division as well as child custody arrangement.

    Talk to a good divorce lawyer. Your wife is likely to fight it thinking that she should get everything (house, child, and child support). A contested divorce is a costly one but if you get a good lawyer who don't fight for fight's sake, you should get a pretty good outcome for both you and your son.

    Do go the other extreme to cut her off your son's world, unless she is an unfit mother. That's a much tougher fight and not good for the kid. It is beneficial for your son to have both parents around, even if divorced. I know it is hard right now, but if you two can create an amicable environment after the divorce, you will have a very happy kid, like mine.

    Posted by NotTheEndOfWorld July 23, 09 12:26 PM
  1. I went through a divorce that took 3 years in court and cost a 100K, but I won custody. My wife also had several boyfriends and I stayed for 5 years before I filed ... it was my belief that if I left while the children were young (5 & 7) she would have been awarded custody. Older children do get a voice with the court. It will be a while before I dig out financially ... but would fight all over again for them.

    Posted by Gerard July 23, 09 12:27 PM
  1. You know, there is no real possibility you will lose your son--you can fight for and get joint custody. Yes, your life will change. That is not necessarily a bad thing.

    It sounds to me like you are stuck in intertia. You have been dissatisfied but didn't make a move to save the marriage or get a divorce. You see that your wife is faithless, and still won't make any moves. If you are worried about a contentious and nasty divorce, you and your wife should get post-marital counselling (yes, it is out there and can be effective).

    "I have wanted to find someone else myself, but decided it wasn't worth risking separation from my son."

    OK, you know, you feel that way, then fine. But I notice that you're outraged and sickened about your wife doing the VERY same thing you wanted to do. The only reason why you didn't do it was because you were afraid of losing your son. Some self-examination may be in order.

    Get out NOW. Even if you hate your soon-to-be-ex, make an effort to be civil and respectful--not for her sake, but for your son's sake. I have friends who grew up in homes where the parents stayed together for the sake of the children (and friends whose divorcing parents constantly disparaged each other), and it did them NO good.

    Posted by PM July 23, 09 12:39 PM
  1. Two cents of free advice:

    Marry a plain looking, good hearted woman and you will have much less stress in your life.

    Posted by annonymous July 23, 09 12:43 PM
  1. Why in the world would DJ lose his son? I've no relationship at all with my ex, yet he is involved with our child's life. #2, whose comments I usually find amusing, is just plain wrong. As #10 said, "DJ, why do you say there is a "real possibility" you would lose your son? Unless there is some reason you are not a fit parent, then you would be entitled to joint custody with your wife." I am (God help me) going to pull a Bleako here, and say, "mot enough information." You may lose your house (or the Court may force the two of you to sell it), but not your son. BTW - alimony for the most part is a thing of the past, restricted now to couples from older generations (older than mine, mid-baby boom) when women didn't work outside the home, lost their job skills along the way, but were very responsible for helping their wealthy husbands develop their wealthy careers.

    Posted by reindeergirl aka Mrs Smidgens July 23, 09 12:47 PM
  1. I'm going to pretend the genders are reversed:
    You DON'T need that honey! Get out of there and leave that dirtbag with nothing! Take the kid, house and money and kick him to the curb! What a scumbag..

    Posted by bogart July 23, 09 12:51 PM
  1. Can you marry your son? That will make her so jealous!

    Posted by Steve Richardson July 23, 09 12:51 PM
  1. I grew up knowing my parents should get a divorce by age 10...it finally happened ten years later and it was no way to live. I have two wonderful, loving parents who at some point just did not see eye-to-eye and wanted to live different lifestyles. Clearly, you have remained faithful and tried to make this work to some degree. If you stay in this house and this relationship, you will be extremely unhappy, and your son will realize this eventually. I also believe your son will eventually grow to resent his mother, since it will be pretty hard to cover up your anger towards your wife. Fight for custody- you sound like a good guy- and joint arrangements CAN work.

    Posted by ACG July 23, 09 12:52 PM
  1. Maybe you should have sex with your wife?

    Sex cures 69% of marraige woes. Money cures the other half.

    Posted by dr. ruth July 23, 09 12:54 PM
  1. I knew it! Bleako is afraid of rain! Won't walk in it. Won't bike in it. 2 mile challenge? Try the Tour de France challenge. Sheesh.

    Posted by Mrs. Smidgens July 23, 09 12:57 PM
  1. You need to make photocopies of the letters and get an attorney. It is better to be safe than sorry. In regards to your son, you sound like a good, caring father. Do not, I repeat DO NOT stay together for your child. I am in my mid-20s (eek) and my parents had a horrible marriage from the start. They "stayed together for the kids" and it has inevitably torn us apart. If it is this bad when your child is only 3 years old, it will only get worse. I like to think my younger sibling and I are well-adjusted young adults now, but frankly it is a miracle that we are considering how dysfunctional a "stay together for the kids" household really is. If you love your son (as I am sure you do), pack his mother's bags, get the photocopies of the letters to a lawyer and insist on NO LESS than 50-50 custody. You will all be better off, even your lying, cheating spouse. Best of luck to you!

    Posted by trustMEiKNOWwhatIamTALKINGabout July 23, 09 12:59 PM
  1. Hoss... Your response was so long today... are you turning into Bleako? No, wait - your answers were actually worth reading, unlike the Gasbag's.

    My first wife and I split when my son was almost 4 (that was about 25 years ago). We had joint custody, and while we had our differences, we always made it our focus to keep our son out of our mess. The joint custody worked fine and he grew up happy, healthy and well-adjusted. It can work if you want it to.

    Posted by Truman July 23, 09 01:01 PM
  1. 'Dith - how do you choose your letters?
    fatty, whatever happened to 3 strikes and 2 acq. and your out Juno?
    couldn't tell from far,daw inland hails to bonhomie!

    Posted by Puja July 23, 09 01:01 PM
  1. just because there is group-hug scare in LL-mixer,
    doesnot mean you say boo-hoo!

    Posted by really July 23, 09 01:02 PM
  1. Poe,
    globe news replay - sparks seems to be there forever.
    but what to do with iluvmykid.com ?
    it just that you don't realize you have built-in set parameters that
    don't allow you to see beyond your comfort zone!

    Posted by Fatima July 23, 09 01:03 PM
  1. This letter breaks my heart. On behalf of the forgotten children of divorce everywhere, I hope that you will fight for your son. The comment from poster DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 is incorrect. The child support laws ARE NOT from the 1950s. It's the child custody laws that are ancient. It's important to see the difference. Long ago, the laws actually favored the Father, at least financially speaking. My parents were divorced many years ago. My Mother was awarded custody. But she received almost no financial support. Even when my Father refused to pay what he did owe, there were no reprocussions. Today, things are stricter for the non-custodial parent.
    With that said, I hope that you fight for custody. It will be costly. But worth it.

    Posted by so sad July 23, 09 01:13 PM
  1. You need to give your wife space. Let her do waht she wants, when she wants, where she wants, with whom she wants, as often as she wants. She has basic needs that are not being satisfied. Go get your self a girlfriend on the side. God Bless

    Posted by thetruthteller July 23, 09 01:29 PM
  1. I for one am not assuming your marriage is not salvagable.
    Take a deep breath.
    Calm your nerves and think about what just happened. It's really not the end of the world. If you still have any feelings at all for each other, then you need to talk. Now. Don't hold it in. The moment when these things come to a head is difficult and you will know when the dust settles what you both want.
    Then, if you decide it's really over, don't pack your bags, ask her to pack hers and call a good divorce lawyer.


    Posted by DrK July 23, 09 01:41 PM
  1. #41, "Dude Get a Life: Where did you put the Tequila Bottle today? When will you "Man Up", and at least post your flames toward me under the same name? Thanks for buying me lunch today, it was yummy!

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 01:43 PM
  1. My husband discovered his first wife had cheated on him on 10 seperate occasions whilst he was deployed defending his country, he tried to stay for the kids - you guessed it - wasn't possible. Initially he remained in the same town and shared custody seeing the kids twice a week, and every other weekend. Now both parents are remarried and live about 200 miles from each other, but it still works. The four of us are a parenting team, we put the kids first, last and in the middle. We work together harmoniously and respectfully and the kids thrive in a healthy environment where they are loved by all four of their parents. We see them as often as possible, we call, write and email. They love their dad now as much as they did the day before he moved out. And their stepfather is a good man but will never replace their father, despite his closer proximity. It can work and Meredith is 100% right. Children from an amicable divorce grow up pyschologically healthier than children living in a bad marriage. If your marriage is truly over then, move on from the wife, but never the child.

    they did

    often as possible adn

    Posted by Steph July 23, 09 01:47 PM
  1. I agree with the posters that counsel you to get legal advice before confronting your wife (and also taking the letters, cards and other proof to the attorney). It may not make a difference to a divorce judge but if you can deal with this in mediation perhaps it will help.

    Also, someone who is cheating on you may not WISH to have primary custody of a child. Sounds to me like she is more interested in a single life than a married one. You may come out of this better than you think. Another question - who earns more, she or you? If you can get primary custody and she is the major breadwinner she may have to pay you child support which would make your new role of primary caregiver a little easier to bear financially.

    One other thing to consider is the caliber of the person she is cheating on you with. Presumably she is willing to abandon your marriage for this other person (man or woman I wonder?) so you can reasonably assume that the new lover will have contact with your child. You owe it to yourself and your son to ensure that this new person can be trusted with your child.

    A last note - you two will have to figure out how best to explain to your 3 year old about the many changes his life will shortly go through. Do you have a trusted third party - a relative or good friend - that can help with that conversation? If not then I think you should consult a child psychologist for advice before either of you makes a rash step. You will need to handle this delicately from start to finish to avoid damaging his young psyche in any way. He is so vulnerable and you both owe it to him to protect him from any anger you two are feeling toward each other. You sound like a deeply caring individual and I don't see you as doing anything hurtful, but your wife may get nasty in self defense and once things are said in front of a three year old, they can not be taken back. Please be very careful around your little boy - he is ultimately the most important part of this angry and sad situation.

    Posted by J Bar July 23, 09 01:48 PM
  1. Pls don't stay in a miserable marriage for your son's sake. Meredith is correrct, he'll feel and internalize all the unhappiness and stress. I stayed married for a good 10 years longer than i should have 'because of the kids' and they were damaged the most in those 10 years. You sound like a loyal loving good man. I think you will be a better parent after divorce than your father was. Divorce isn't ideal but it always works out after the shock of the split. Talk w your wife, get it all on the table and then if you need it, visit a therapist who specializes in divorce w children. And you will be fine after a while and the bonus is that you will meet someone who is your equal in love and loyalty, trust.

    Posted by Rose July 23, 09 01:50 PM
  1. Confront her. Agree to co-parent with a 50/50 deal. Move on with your life.
    If you can't afford to move out on your own, I suggest setting up residence in another room in the house and learning to be friends. Like it or not, you will have to get along somewhat for the rest of your lives for the sake of your son.

    Posted by Sabs July 23, 09 01:50 PM
  1. Seriously, I would like to know how many non-custodial "Dads" there are on this forum. I would like to know how many of them are both happy with the amount of money they have left AFTER child support, most everyone I know that pays support is flat broke sharing a crappy apartment with their alcoholic brother and driving a used Hyundai... Any actual Divorced Dad's on this forum??? I bet not.

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 01:52 PM
  1. Do whatever you feel you have to do for the best interests of your child. Period.

    No one else can tell you what that is. Not someone who has been through it as a parent. Not someone who has been through it as a child.

    Posted by Bob Dwyer July 23, 09 01:54 PM
  1. A long drawn out battle will destroy your son. Do everything in your power to work it out amicably with your wife. You may be angry with her as your wife (as you should be) but she is still the mother of your son and he loves you both very much. I suggest you talk to her when the time is right and try to work it out. Come to an agreement and let an attorney draft it and file it. The courts look more favorably on the parent without anger who puts his/her child first. I suggest that you work out a split arrangement with her (it's easier now since he's not in school). Even when he is in school, you can live nearby each other and just send him to the better school system.

    As long as you remember you love your son more than you hate your ex, you'll be fine.

    And my heart goes out to so many people on here who have gone through similar situations. It's nice to see people post mostly non judgmentally to help this guy.

    Posted by Living Proof July 23, 09 01:54 PM
  1. D.J., the same thing (suspicions of an affair and discovering incriminating evidence, and being haunted my own dad's absence) happened to me after a 17-year marriage. I had a 4-year old son who was everything to me and nothing scared me more than the thought of losing him. But, a year and a half later, I can tell you that ending the marriage was okay. It was (and remains) hard for my son. But as Meredith said, the overall atmosphere is better. My wife was very unhappy, and her relationship with our son was terrible as a result. Now we each have him part time, and her relationship with our son is much, much better. I miss him when I don't have him (and he misses whoever he is not with) but if everyone stays positive, it can work out. My advice (since you say the marriage was essentially over) is to talk to your wife about a divorce but from a positive place after your feelings of hurt and anger have dissolved a bit. Consider waiting some months after separating but before divorcing, and then doing a mediation instead of getting lawyers (and I say that as a former divorce lawyer). If you two maintain a healthy respectful relationship despite separating and agree that your son's interests are paramount, there is no reason this can't turn out okay.

    Posted by James July 23, 09 01:54 PM
  1. My parents never got divorced but they happen to be the two unhappiest people in the world. It affected me to the point that I'm afraid of getting married myself.

    Posted by lolipopp July 23, 09 01:54 PM
  1. Just to back up what a few people have mentioned already, why can't YOU get custody? When my parents got divorced, my father had custody of my sister and me, and it was my mother who had us on weekends. No animosity, no arguments - it was what was decided between my parents and it worked for us.

    Meanwhile, on the flip side - even if the worst case scenario happens, it's still your actions and what you do that mean everything. A relative of mine got divorced and his wife decided to up and move four states away and take the kids with her. But he was on a plane every other weekend to see them, and they never once had to question how much their father loved them.

    And lastly, I have a big crush on Hoss. You say you're like this guy? Does that mean your marriage isn't all rainbows and glitter? I'm here for you. "It's what's best for the kids."

    Posted by Ruby July 23, 09 01:57 PM
  1. so sad, I resent your phrase "forgotten children of divorce" because not all children of divorce are forgotten! I grew up with my mom in a very similar situation as yourself. We were super poor and received no support from my dad. He was also super poor. Fact of the matter is, they were not happy together! Was my dad a jerk? Sure! Shouldn't my mom have known better than to marry a 19 year old? (she was 26) Hell yeah! But I love them both dearly because no matter what was happening with "them" their first priority was "me" and they always worked together to make it so that no matter what was happening between "them" that I was happy. Guess I am one of the lucky ones. But this works for a lot of people these days. More today as it seems like NO ONE stays together anymore. People take marriage for granted, especially the younger 20something year olds. In any case, to the poster of the original message, GET OUT of that marriage as soon as you can. You should have listened to your first gut instincts and packed those bags like you said you wanted to! Unless your wife is a total b**ch-face, the details with the child will work out. If she IS a b-face? Well then shame on you for marrying and knocking her up in the FIRST place!

    Posted by Mr. Rite July 23, 09 02:09 PM
  1. You're going to divorce your wife for the sole reason that she slept with someone else?

    That's insane.

    Calm down and take some deep breaths. This isn't the end of the world.

    Posted by steve in W MA July 23, 09 02:09 PM
  1. While I don't think the fact that you have a mortgage and a kid should be the reason you stay together, I would almost think that life would be “easier” to do so.

    If you care about your kid, then you should stay together, because if you split up and it goes to court, most likely the judge will side with your wife and she’ll get the majority of custody. She’ll also get the house, and you’ll have to end up paying for it, along with child support, all while not being able to see your kid as much as you want.

    It’s sad, but true. I don’t think most women would admit the fact that in cases like this, there is an extreme bias against men, but it’s there, and they know it because they usually have more courage about splitting up. It’s because they have the security that the court will order you to hand over everything to her and the kids.

    Maybe you should talk to her about the affair first. Get that out there, see what’s going on with it and try to figure out what you two should do. See if she would be okay with a split, with equal time with the kids, and see if you can just work things out with her first.

    I wouldn’t stay though. I couldn’t stay with someone I didn’t love and that was cheating on me. Get some balls and throw her to the curb. She’s the one having an affair. No matter how bad things get, that’s one line that people shouldn’t cross.

    Posted by YouAreAllMySons July 23, 09 02:11 PM
  1. Thing is-you sound like you are a great father so you're already ahead. He's lucky to have you and you'll do right by him. So, do what you feel best to have a healthy and successful life. We only get one chance at this-so strive to be happy.
    As this may be the first step of a long emotional haul...go easy and get support.
    Good luck.

    Posted by pb July 23, 09 02:15 PM
  1. My parents stayed together 25 years longer than they should have. My father wanted all of his 7 children to pick sides. I think it would have been tough to be a child of divorced parents, but not nearly as hard as it was watching this family dissolve into one big disfunctional mess. I agree with the person that said pack her bags and have them waiting outside. Oh, I would attach a COPY of the letters to her stuff.

    Posted by Not so bitter. July 23, 09 02:18 PM
  1. "If we ask the children most of them will answer that the parents should stay even there are unhappy. "

    EY (63), what are you basing this on? It seems to me that of those who have responded here, not a single one with personal experience (including me) wishes that their parents had stayed together in an unhappy marriage.

    DJ: You are not going to automatically lose your son -- it may feel like an insurmountable task but you owe it to him to fight for the best situation possible for him. You sound kind of passive, so I hope you get off your duff and motivate. Getting a lawyer and a therapist would be good places to start.

    Posted by miss muffett July 23, 09 02:19 PM
  1. My friend, a 42 year old man, had an affair and decided he wanted to leave his wife of 15 years. They have a 9 year old daughter and he had not been having sex with his wife since his daughter was born -9 YEARS ago. He had tried to romance his wife, ask her to go to couples counciling, asked her to get a physical or therapy. She refused all of these things. He had the affair because he could not take it anymore. Then he fell in love with the woman he was having an affair with. No one knows how that relationship will end up but he is now legally separated from his wife and living in the guest bedroom while he is apartment hunting.

    BEFORE he became legally separated, he consulted lawyers and studied the legalities of such a move. I hope the LW does the same. Get some funds and a recommended divorce lawyer in place. It sounds like his marriage is over and has been for a while.

    Also, LW, you need to be setting an example to your impressionable son as to what a loving and healthy relationship is. You are not doing that for the moment nor for his future if you stay with his mother.

    I am sorry for you troubles and I hope you can resolve everything peacefully.

    Posted by Amazed July 23, 09 02:22 PM
  1. Ok, so if the marriage is truly over as you said then you must absolutely separate. As many others have pointed out staying together is likely to be more damaging to your son in the long run. However you need to make this as amicable as possible for his son. There has to be no getting ones up on each other. Adultery is often a symptom of a breakdown in the relationship and not the root cause. I'm guessing that the marriage hasn't worked due to both you and your wife. Have an honest talk (without blaming each other) and see how you can all move forward and have a happy life, with you both equally involved in parenting duties.

    Posted by another child of divorced parents July 23, 09 02:35 PM
  1. Hoss-
    I read this column every day and specifically look for your responses. You've out done yourself today. Love ya kid!

    Posted by Violet Affleck July 23, 09 02:35 PM
  1. “The Blaming of the Shrew” Haiku

    Her façade, fallen
    You can now see the sunrise
    Warmth finds you renewed (alternate line: "Cold sores on her lip")

    I’m not going to pretend I know your exact situation. I can say, from experience, that if you want to be with your kids, you will make it a reality. I started having my kids over 50% of the time since they were 2 and 4 respectively (Mon. & Tues w/me, Wed & Thurs w/mom and switch every other weekend…fives and twos). I also see them on my off days for games, projects, homework, one on one nights etc. Your relationship with the ex needs to be a good parenting friendship. It turns out I was the nurturer, the worrier and the short order cook. My ex didn’t want to be in it anymore…she didn’t want to be a full time mom either…it was her way to get some time for herself. She loves our kids…and she’s not a bad person…she just never was cut out for motherhood. Ten years later, she's a much more emotionally involved parent. By knowing what you need, you will find a happy place for your boy. It may not be “the dream”, but every time I weigh my old life against my present life with someone who loves me and my kids, I know I am providing a good life for my family. Life’s too short not to be filled with love.

    Posted by valentino July 23, 09 02:47 PM
  1. RUN -- not walk -- RUN to the nearest and best lawyer you can afford. i mean it. do nothing else until you've consulted a lawyer. i can't stress this enough.

    a lot of other readers are saying that you should talk with your wife, and that's all well and good. but as your son's father, you need to talk with a lawyer. get on that RIGHT NOW. you can get a good one by talking with your friends whom have been divorced, especially the males. please please please trust me on this one.

    you seem like a reasonable person, and so do the people who are answering you telling you that talking with your wife is the way to proceed, but i can tell you from personal experience that the court does not speak reasonable. consult a good lawyer -- and let your lawyer do the talking. you'll need to make a plan with your lawyer, but let me assure you -- you are lost without one.

    i am not a lawyer BTW, just a father who was kept from seeing his son for two years, even though i had a divorce decree in hand that said i could see my son. it took another year to normalize contact... but my son lives in Maine and i see him 4 days out of the month.

    and i blame myself because i too wanted to be reasonable and work it out with my ex-wife. her version of working it out was to move my son to Maine, and now i parent out of my car, home, and on the phone. while it can work that two households can raise a child, it is not the ideal situation and as this boy's father you are at a DISTINCT disadvantage as far as parental rights and responsibilities are concerned.

    so please, get a good lawyer. don't try and save money by getting one that's part of a lawyer's group like Sokolove or the like. channel what you are feeling now into action, and research for the best lawyer you can afford. best of luck to you, fellow father.

    Posted by lordclod July 23, 09 02:55 PM

  1. . I am so sorry this has happened to you. Please know you are not alone.

    I regret this will be long. But it is important, so it must be. Please forgive me.

    While the young find affairs to be unforgivable acts that mean the end, as they should when life is carefree, in marriage with children, especially when responsibilities have reduced life to fulfilling duty, affairs can be seen, looking back, as wake up calls.

    You are experiencing now a time in your life that is the hardest it will ever been, with the exeception if you have more children, which I would advise you to think very strongly against even if you overcome this.

    Life goes in cycles, you both have been on a downturn. As a boat in a swift running river, if you find yourself on the rocks...paddle. Make an effort to swing the momentum the other way.

    Tell her you've both put alot of time into the house, your jobs, etc, and that just as you must paint your house, put on a new roof to keep the water out, you think some effort should be put toward making your marriage sound.

    Make hints that you know about the affair but not too clearly. Make her worried but not sure that you know. Everyone wants to be adored, tell you understand that, but tell her to understand that such goes for husbands as well. Tell her you feel like she's been lost, for a while now, and though it may take some time, you're hoping she finds her way back to you and your son. We owe him that, remind her. He did not choose us. We chose this life, we chose to have him, and his life will be infinitely better in every respect if we make this work.

    Give her this. But that is it. If she cheats again, leave. What kind of father would show their son this is how a husband is to be treated? To forgive once is generous. To allow yourself to be continually abuse is setting a horrid example for your son . You can be sure such a pattern would have great risk to be played out in his future relationships.

    You think you will be illused in this, the sucker, if you will, but take heart. Life is very much a long run thing, and how you handle this, how much patience and understanding you give her may be revisited upon you later in life. One day you may unwittingly frustratingly fall in love with someone else as well, and have to give that person up, or pass her by, for your wife. And she will have to watch, knowing that had she not weakened years before, she would have more moral authority about the matter.

    That she has weakned and had the affair puts her in the uncomfortable position of knowing she 'owes you one' and that is very much her fault. And though it sounds odd to admit, that you know the taboo has been broken and not by you, may weaken the strength of your resolve later to not indulge in an affair, or falling in love. I would never advise having an affair ,but to deny that one indulging does not affect the other in their moment of weakness is niave. The fact that you were wronged will never be lost on either spouse. Such is life, and such is her fault. I would not, however, abuse the notion.

    Too often couples stop dating when they have chldren. You must remedy this. Babysitters must be found, Dinner and dates must start again. You must begin to date your wife again, talk to her at least once a week, while someone else serves you dinner, cleanse the dishes and puts your child to bed. Be it an elegant restaurant or mcdonald's matter not. That you and she look at eachother at least once a week as friends, as someone who loves and cares about the hopes and dreams of the other is as issue. Once this lesson is learned, never forget it.

    Many many couples have been far happier AFTER an affair than before and have lived long happy marriages for many decades after, their families in tact, their children grown and their retiring to nice comfortable happy life together. What a shame it would be if these marriages broke up when children were young and stresses were high. And the debt the cheating spouse owes to the one who kept their head when they did not have to is multiplied through the years as they watch other couples break up and children ruined by circumstances that could have been theirs had the wronged spouce acted differently.

    Good luck. I do hope you write back and tell us how you got on. We will be hoping and praying for your family.


    Posted by a few grey hairs with much life behind July 23, 09 03:05 PM
  1. Check out "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce" by Judith Wallerstein. It might help clarify what you want to do next with your wife. Wallerstein talks about kids from unhappy intact families and compares them with kids of divorce. I'd suggest carefully weighing your options and looking into the existing research on families and divorce. Also, I totally second John Gottman's books on relationships which are based on extensive research.

    There are all these comments about how divorce isn't that bad for kids, but I disagree completely. If my marriage ever turned bad, I would absolutely stay for their sake. My parents' divorce - I was 5 at the time, I'm 32 now - has had a pervasive, long lasting, negative effect on me. Divorce when children are involved is a very serious matter.

    Posted by so_sad July 23, 09 03:06 PM
  1. So my wife has been cheating on me for many years now, we have 2 boys and a home together. I sleep on the couch while she is in the bedroom talking on her phone with her "affairs" and sending them semi and totally nude photo's of herself on email (I put software on her computer). She thinks I have no clue...Well I know and so don't the kids. I even got tested to make sure the kids were mine because I know for a fact she doesn't use condoms. She is a dirty whore and will likely continue to act like this and think no one knows. She actually thinks she is a good person and a good mother. Even while she was out of work she thought I would believe she had to go to the city for "job stuff" trying to find work through networking...Netwroking where? A hotel? Some guys apartment? Please, I may not care but I am not stupid.

    Bottom line, I get to drive a nice car, go out with friends, live in a nice home, hang out with my kids. And while she thinks I have no clue, I have had a girlfriend for 10 years now. If the girlfriend made better money I would dump the wife and move to the girlfriend. Instead, my wife has nice clothes and lingerie that I give my girlfriend as gifts. My wife may be a whore and a total slut but she pays for everything since I don't make all that much money working a job that gives me a LOT of FREE TIME. See? I am not stupid.

    I love America

    Posted by cathy's husband July 23, 09 03:06 PM
  1. Take he out for dinner. When both of you are relaxed tell her that you are not happy. Tell her that you've been seeing a 23 yr old recent college grad that you met at work. You've only been sleeping with her for a short while because she travels a lot doing photo shoots as she's also a model. Tell her you want the marriage to end but love your son and is committed to being a part of his life.

    Don't EVER give her the satisfaction that she got one over on you!! Sounds like it's over anyway so you may as well walk out with your head held high. Good Luck.

    Posted by Michael July 23, 09 03:09 PM
  1. The Reverend Returns...get used to him cause he'll be back more often.

    Much like myself, the good people have spoken. It is clear that the LW should consider his legal options and his heart instead of his attempt to continue this marriage and be in the unhappy situation longer...

    For those on the fence - wondering if you should get a divorce or not - think of this. When was the last time you had sex with your wife? And does familiarity breed contempt? If the answers are 1) don't remember and 2) yes, it's time to find greener pastures because the love is like last winter..GONE. And then...time for a psychobilly freakout! Jump around like your pants are on fire and leave the situation you've been unlucky to get into.

    Best of luck always.

    Sincerely, the Reverend

    Posted by TheRevHortonHeat July 23, 09 03:13 PM
  1. This is why I'm a proponent of "open" marriages. You wouldn't want to eat PB&J's at every meal, right? I didn't think so. Free your mind, sheeple.

    Posted by Mark Sanford July 23, 09 03:17 PM
  1. cathy's husband sounds like a piece of work. 2 losers under one roof. both setting fantastic examples for their kids. poor kids.

    Posted by Anonymous July 23, 09 03:21 PM
  1. #85: Don't worry Dudekidguywhatever -- there are no multiple names. Have you considered that it's possible that more than one person is sick of your schtick?

    Posted by dude get a life July 23, 09 03:29 PM
  1. I am sorry for your pain. That said don't stay together for the sake of your child - it isn't fair to anyone. Once you lose trust in a marriage it is difficult to regain and I did. But after numerous affairs, I thought I was supposed to put up with it. I made the mistake of staying together for the sake of my children and was unhappy for 10 years. I can't remember a single great memory of my marriage that just included us as a couple, only with the children. We tried counseling and it just didn't work for us. I went for counseling for myself and it did work for me. I decided I was just done with the whole situation. I am now finally getting divorced and it is the best decision I made for me. Good luck in the future.

    Posted by MMM's mom July 23, 09 03:33 PM
  1. DudeGuy666SpoonPuppyDeadbeatTurretsBabbleheadWhoopSh#t -

    I am male custodial parent. When it happens early, the equity in the house is generally minimal, the shared property is reduced and alimony only kicks in after @ 7 years married. Child support can be relative to custody. Did you fight for custody, or did you take the over and drink with your buddies 5 nights a week? You’re an open book. I’m thinking that you probably were the breadwinner in your capacity as prison guard/correctional officer/dominatrix. You married your ex while she was on furlough. She got the Airstream, you got the cuffs. Dude – The Jerk Store called…and they’re running out of you.

    Posted by Jerk Store July 23, 09 03:39 PM
  1. #109, "Cathy's Husband": You might be the *Smartest un-Happily Married Man in America*. Life is a waiting game sometimes, and the key is to have fun with it in the meantime. If the story is Fiction, then bravo for the entertaining story!

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 03:40 PM
  1. The person whose quote makes the most sense although sad is the person who wrote welcome to today’s world or something along those lines. I am almost 50. When I was a child in a genuinely diverse race and ethnicity background in Queens, NY we only had one family on our large street that was divorced. People are selfish. Marriage is work and people need to take their marriage vows more seriously. When you marry you say for better or for worse often in front of God and usually in front of your family and friends. I am involved in youth ministry at my Church and there are so many from broken homes now. They are all incredibly wounded from the selfishness of their parents. Obviously it doesn’t appear the writer has done wrong. His wife however is choosing herself over both the needs of her husband and child.

    We’ve reached a pint where children believe parenting is only a part time job. One young lady was upset because her Dad (who was never married to her Mom) was dropping her off at her Moms early and that her Mom would be mad. Her exact quote was, “Mom needs her time off.” What a sad statement. Everywhere you turn these young people have biological parents split up, no dad at all, a Mom living with her boyfriend a Dad remarried. They have half brothers, step sisters, and several sets of grandparents.

    It’s time for adults to step up there games and start living a life of sacrifice putting their loved ones before them. This writer should do everything in his power to save the marriage and keep the family together. Marriage is a commitment and Love is a decision.

    Posted by Henway July 23, 09 03:42 PM
  1. I go with val's "Cold sores on her lip," just for its edge.

    And I think the cathy's husband was supposed to be a joke.

    Posted by Mrs. Smidgens July 23, 09 03:47 PM
  1. I always find it interesting that everyone has a crystal ball on what causes adult pain. "My parent's divorced and it had a lasting impact..." etc. etc.

    Guess what? I am divorced (no children) and my parents were married for over 45 years before my father's death. Imagine a therapist's shock when he learned that fact (he was all set to go down the "well your parents' divorce increased your odds of divorcing.") He honestly, truly, did not know what to say after that point and was completely flustered. (He was a lousy therapist, but that's another matter.)

    How about this--everyone is an INDIVIDUAL. My parents could have been viewed as "stayed together for the kids." In fact, my mother and I have discussed why she did or didn't consider divorce at any given time over the years. Sometimes I think I wouldn't be divorced if my parents HAD divorced because--get this--I would have learned it was OKAY to leave an unhappy relationship even before I married (not everyone is excited about their marriage; some may be full of doubts but the only example they had was "you marry your first REAL boyfriend whether you're happy or not and stick with him for life no matter what" and they are also terrified of letting everyone down.)

    See, a lot of people would call that a completely screwed up perspective and the product of a broken home. Nope, just the opposite. I saw how serious of a commitment marriage was and that you are "married" even before you're married (not only was divorce not in my family, neither was breaking up with that first serious relationship.) In fact, I actually believed that being unhappy in marriage was NORMAL. Thankfully though, my parents never wore their years like a badge of honor and when it came right down to it, much to my surprise when they saw first-hand was a bad marriage was doing to me, knew that not everyone can handle the thought of consistenly unhappy days for a good six decades ahead of them. When it came right down to it, I finally got the courage to strike out on my own. Yes, I got that courage too late, but better late than never (don't think all those "we've been married fifty years" couples are happy. There are a lot of bitterness in some older couples I see.)

    My point is not the perspective of married with kids, my point as someone who was a child of an unhappy yet intact marriage, is you never REALLY know how any given decision will affect your children. Everyone can guess (even my last example was just a guess), everyone can assume, but again, no one has that crystal ball. Kids of divorce can grow up screwed up or well adjusted, kids of intact marriages EXACTLY THE SAME. What you have to do is not worry so much about outsider opinion (and keep in mind, misery loves company which is one reason SOME married people can't stand when others divorce) and look closely at your child and how he is developing in the current situation as is, and act accordingly. He WILL grow up some day and have his own perspectives and opinions. His relationships will be unique to HIM. But not you, or he, or anyone will ever really know, which childhood experiences "caused" the bad or the good adult experiences.

    Posted by Jackie July 23, 09 03:47 PM
  1. Divorce isn't easy for the kids at any age. My parents got divorced after 36 years of marriage, and it's been awful. Sometimes I wish they had done it when I was three years old.....

    I grew up watching my parents basically just coexist together. They were roommates that slept in the same bed. They showed no real happy emotions towards each other. We would hear the arguments, but i would never hear "I'm sorry" or "I love you". They never held hands, complimented each other, or shared a kiss. It absolutely 100% affects the relationships your son will have if he grows up watching a loveless marriage. It has affected mine.

    Communication is everything in a relationship - right? Talk to your wife. Tell her everything you know, everything you are feeling, and everything that you want. If you want to work it out - go to counseling. Give it a real shot before just walking away. But do not let your son grow up thinking the current relationship you have with your wife is normal or acceptable. You would want more for him and his future wife wouldn't you? Lead by example.

    Posted by T July 23, 09 04:06 PM
  1. My children were 4&6 when we divorced. Neither of us cheated. 50% shared custody was granted after a long drawn out divorce where the attorneys ate up most of our family assets.

    Consult an attorney. Dont move out. (If you do, you will not be in an advantageous position legally). Dont allow your ex to move to Maine (#1 issue). Many courts will restrict the ability to move the kids if its shared custody. Get an apartment as soon as the legal issues are resolved. Rely on your family.

    I love my children (24 &22) with all my heart. They suffered thru the divorce and the spit custody. Kids are resilient though. I worked hard as a single dad, and it was worth it. Your son is everything. He needs his dad. Believe me, women cant raise men, MEN raise MEN. He needs you! Show him how to "man up".

    Good luck.

    Posted by billy13 July 23, 09 04:26 PM
  1. If you stayed, what would you be modeling for your son? That he should live in a loveless marriage, where cheating is the norm? You are going to have to dig deep, remember why you married your wife in the first place, and cooperate in raising your child. Get joint custody and promise to work *together* to raise the boy.

    Posted by Lemon July 23, 09 04:27 PM
  1. DJ, best of luck. You sound like a dedicated person. Keep that value. Thsi is a tough decision. While I do not have children, I grew up in a household where there were unhappy parents most of my life. They stayed together, for the betterment of me. And I have to say, it probably was not for the best at the time or shortly after. I am in my early 30's and I have to say over the years, my parents' hard work in their marriage paid off. It was hell sometimes, but as a family we are cgrowing closer as I get older. Their unhappiness made me much more indepedent as a person. I did nto want top be around so I found otehr things to do, especially in high school. Keep this idea in perspective. My parenst went through a lot fo hell to stay together. It had its aadverse affects on me as a child. But with dedication they stuck it out and they are both quite ghappy now. They have retired and get along better than they ever have. And we have grown closer as we all have matured. So their could be light at the end of the tunnel. My hope in this is that you wife shapes up. She sounds liek she sucks. But I woudl ask her one more time about the marriage, what happened and that she needs to answer whether she is a fit mother for your son. Because it sound sliek her focus is on her libido and not your son. That is the worst part iof this.

    Posted by JJ July 23, 09 04:29 PM
  1. DudeGuy, the largest indicator of the likelihood of bankruptcy for women is a recent divorce. Not so for men.

    Posted by Michaela July 23, 09 04:32 PM
  1. Val, that was a such a tender moment, I'm going to leave it alone.

    Posted by Sally July 23, 09 04:37 PM
  1. OMG Cathy's husband is a riot! If it is true then good for you using her that way, if it was a joke then thanks for a good laugh. Do you want to send out the pictures of your wife for us all to see? Any good ones worth looking at?

    Posted by Good for you dude July 23, 09 04:38 PM
  1. #116: When did I ever say I was divorced? I have been "happily married" for nearly 20 years - My kids are in my house where they belong - And I do whatever I damned well please with my White Collar Income. I was talking about all the Losers I have met; whom either were stupid enough to marry an incompatible shrews and/or sluts, or didn't have the Schween Mojo to keep the little-lady happy and obedient. That is why I asked the question; just because you couldn't keep it together, don't get pissy at me...

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 04:39 PM
  1. #114: Yet they still haven't banned me, have they? Why? because love me or hate me, people continue to read me and I get generate more "Hits" for them (equals advertising revenue) . Like they said about Howard Stern: "People who *like* him listen for only two hours, People who *hate* him listen for FOUR hours".

    Posted by DudeGuyKidDudeGuy666 July 23, 09 04:42 PM
  1. You have a child together, so you are going to always be in each other's lives whether you are married or not. Might as well salvage what you can so it is as amicable as possible whichever way it goes. Try talking it out to find out the root causes (instead of deciding what they are in isolation), or if it's too volatile ask her to go to a couples counselor to discuss having closure in a way that allows mature and responsible communication in future about your child. Remember, now it's about the child.

    Don't let any angry guys pump you full of fear about being screwed, like that dudekid guy, he always has a belittling response about women no matter what the topic is, and his answers illuminate his deep emotional damage. I'm not surprised that a sad sack like him would have the type of experience he describes. You can have what will ultimately feel like a positive outcome, whether you stay together or not. Good luck...it's going to really stink for a while, but it will pass.

    Posted by ThisTooShallPassButWillSuckUntilItDoes July 23, 09 04:53 PM
  1. Of all the mis-information here, this one is particularly harmful: Confront you wife. Don't do that. As difficult as it is, you need to act calm and civil to get her cooperation in order to get the joint legal and physical custody. If you asked for the joint custody, but she fights it, the court will not be convinced that a joint custody is feasible and in the best interest of the child.

    What you need to do is to talk to a divorce lawyer immediately. There are two kinds of lawyers. Some are aggressive acting more like a warrior, while others act more like negotiators, playing give and take. For you desired outcome, a lawyer of the latter kind is what you want.

    Posted by NotTheEndOfWorld July 23, 09 05:10 PM
  1. "Dude the Jerk Store called they are running out of you" OMG, LOL. That dudekidguy doesn't get it that it's a bunch of people calling him out as a loser.
    He is, of course, the first Love Letters LOSER, and a tool. LOL.

    Posted by ChooseroftheLoveLettersLosers July 23, 09 05:12 PM
  1. Haven't read the comments yet, but here are my thoughts as a child of divorce, as a parent, and as someone who has been in relationships that didn't work out....basically I agree with Meredith (have I ever not said that :-). You mentioned the relationship was slipping away before you even found out about her affair and that you were considering an affair as well, so obviously this relationship won't be ending solely for you just finding out this information. As a solo parent (never married, but his dad abandoned him several yrs ago), I too can't imagine not being in the same house with my son everyday, but I do think you need to not think along the lines of only two possibilities. You seem to think the outcome has to be either of two extremes: 1) stay in house together (and not have an emotionally healthy relationship); 2) move out and get divorced and only see son on weekends. As Meredith mentioned, I'm not sure if you've considered salvaging the relationship as one option, and also if it does seem like the relationship isn't salvageable, there are non-custodial parents that see their child more than on the weekends. Some see their children half of the week...or more. If the two of you were able to still live in same town, perhaps you could swap drop off at day care one day and have dinner with him the next night. Basically, I'm trying to say there are a lot more possibilities that you probably haven't considered...most likely because you're thinking of worst case scenario....which is understanable since your relationship has had an obvious noticeable shift since you noticed those cards. Talk to your wife and have a dialogue. Share your hurt, your fears of not living with your son, how you feel about the relationship, etc. Be honest. Express yourself,but also hear her out and see where she's coming from. Whatever hurt you feel for the unraveling of the relationship, the two of you need to recognize that you will always be united in the tremendous love for your beautiful boy. Let that union guide you into making the best decisions for all 3 of you. Best of luck to your family.

    Posted by bklynmom July 23, 09 05:24 PM
  1. She will cheat on you again. Get on with your life, share custody and find someone who will truly love you. Your child will be better off with a happy divorced daddy than a miserable stuck-in-his-loveless-marriage one. Besides it will be a lot less difficult for a 3-year old to deal with than a 10 year-old or teen. Do you really think you can stay with Ms. Cheater that much longer?
    Best of luck

    Posted by ramona126 July 23, 09 05:45 PM
  1. My divorce with my ex- was going fine, the children was happy at different home.
    until his scumbag attorny and his most munatulated girlfriend come alone and
    destroy what was fine.

    Posted by stephanie July 23, 09 06:16 PM
  1. I have been married for over 20 years now and can only say that (1) it is truly worth working through things if both you and your wife are willing to do so. It is amazing what couples therapy can accomplish. (2) It is not easy or lacking in pain to go through but neither is divorce. (3) after the pain and working on it, if things get better (and they can get much much better), the relationship can be better than ever.

    Although I have not had an affair, I do know of couples who have seen it not as "the end" but as the start of figuring out how to make the relationship work again....good luck

    Posted by Don't give up yet July 23, 09 06:20 PM
  1. Why are you telling us? Go talk to your wife. Obviously you have some communication issues. Take some responsibility for letting it get to this point. Yes, she is wrong for doing that. You said you've known for a while it was over and thought about moving on, so you are guilty too. Go talk to her.

    Posted by Lisa July 23, 09 07:48 PM
  1. This is truly heartbreaking and without an “easy” answer. Each situation is different and it may be that right now you are simply in shock. The first thing you need to do is talk with someone about what is going on, someone you trust – an older friend, an elder in the church (temple, mosque, congregation etc), a therapist but you need to talk about this. You also need to talk to your wife about what is going on and tell her that you know – the anger will eat you away if you don’t.
    I am from the product of one of those marriages where my parents thought it was their “parental obligation to be miserable but present” as Mer put it. It was a truly devastating experience. As the oldest in the family I got the brunt of it. Both of my parents disliked each other so much that by the time I was 10 I was already sure they would divorce, it took them another decade to finally do it. Meanwhile my other siblings relied heavily on me emotionally and I ended up becoming a child/parent. When my parents divorced my mother often told me she had stayed with my father because of us children and Iresent this statement to this day. I resent it because she made her children responsible for her misery and unhappiness, without taking responsibility and saying “I stayed because I thought it was best for my kids, because it was more comfortable, because I didn’t want to raise children on my own” etc. I am in my late 30s now and my father and I have had long conversations about this and he now tells me that he often wonders if he made the right decision of staying married under the banner “for the kids.” I have told him that this is something only he can come to terms with but I do honestly believe that living with so much instability had a profound effect in my adult life as well as my siblings (in negative and positive ways).
    . It is my hope that you make the best decision for yourself and are able to be honest with this decision. But whatever you do, never ever tell your child that you made the decision to stay or go for him. That is not fair. He should not be responsible for your happiness – you are responsible for that.

    Posted by PoliteG July 23, 09 11:02 PM
  1. Here's my 2 cents. I have two children, the youngest almost 3. Our marriage is over, and we're too broke to get divorced. We're barely getting by paying the two mortgages on our house; no way we could swing two residences between us. The only major asset we have is the house and it's a terrible time to sell. So we're sucking it up until the market rebounds, then we'll sell the house, split the proceeds, and work out a mutually agreeable divorce settlement. Again, there's no money or other property to fight over. I've been sleeping in a separate room for the past three months; the kids seem OK with it, and there's no big blowouts. We're committed to cohabiting and co-parenting, but I do look forward to finding someone to love.

    Posted by In the den July 23, 09 11:47 PM
  1. Meredith well done-a perfect answer. DJ, I hope thing work out favorably. I believe they will. Sounds like your son has a great dad.

    Posted by JP July 24, 09 12:10 AM
  1. I'm going to say this just once. Any male can produce a child, it takes a real man to be a father. DNA has nothing to do with it. My step father (who has since passed away) was the most wonderful man. He cared, loved and nurtured me. He was there from when I needed a band-aid when I fell off my bike to helping me pick my college (telling me the whole time, don't worry about the cost, "we'll deal with it, if this is what you choose).

    Kids aren't stupid. They know when parents aren't happy. If you think she's a good mother, let her have primary custody and make sure you're a major force in his life. All you can do is love him.

    Posted by jenandbrian July 24, 09 04:31 AM
  1. Here's what you do: your wife obviously needs more than you can give. Are you a little light down there? So let her have her little side dish so she can be fulfilled. She wins big-time with her size upgrade. He wins by getting a NSA regular thing. You win in that you get to see your son. Problem solved. Stop being so Puritanical and try being more European...

    Posted by Love Boat Sam July 24, 09 07:48 AM
  1. Please don't listen to "DudeGuy..." - he really is a bitter fool, and shouldn't be allowed to post his nonsense.

    I am a woman who went through the same situation as the letter writer. I was the primary (actually only) breadwinner in the family, worked hard to make the money, make the dinner, care for my son, etc. My ex-husband had an affair (in a very despicable manner) which he denied until I found irrefutable evidence. We were separated, and decided to share custody of our son (who was just turning six). I lost much of my retirement money in the divorce, as well as my standard of living. There's no child support, as we split custody, but I pay for ALL of my child's expenses. So the ongoing blathering here about how divorced Dads get screwed is particularly disgusting to me - and, though I continue to be suffering the economic consequences of our divorce four years later, I would enter into the same settlement again. I feel full responsibility for my son's care, and, if he has a dad who is unable to provide basic financial care for him, then I willingly take it on myself. If you really love your child, that's what you do. You don't whine and complain that you 'have to live with your brother' - you suck it up, you spend as much time as you can with your child, and you DON'T BADMOUTH YOUR EX in front of the child (as tempting as that is).

    Posted by CMF July 24, 09 08:48 AM
  1. I read through some of the comments,and it seems like I am in the minority. My relationship was 'over' several years ago, yet we stay together for the kids, and the situation at home has been successful for us. We are FRIENDS, and united in our desire to give our kids the best life possible.

    Statistics show that children from single parent homes are worse off in almost all measures. They live closer to poverty, have less educational opportunity, are more prone to self-destructive behavior, and have higher instances of failed relationships later in life. Studies of children of divorce have shown that children do NOT need to be in a perfect marriage, and would be better served in a marriage that is "good enough" than in a divorced household.

    The solution is finding a way to work WITHIN your relationship to find some common ground. I highly recommend the book "IMPERFECT HARMONY" by Dr. Joshua Coleman. It helped me see that I could carve out happiness in my life, even if I don't find that happiness in my spouse.

    As far as infidelity, we work with a simple "don't ask, don't tell" rule, and in general are too devoted to the care of our kids (both of whom have special needs) to worry about what the other is doing. Honestly I couldn't tell you if my spouse is cheating. I assume he has in the past but I find since I'm not emotionally entangled with him any more, and not emotionally dragged down, I don't even think about it.

    Definitely do couples therapy. You brought kids into this world with this woman. you OWE it to them to put your concerns aside and do what is best FOR THEM. I find it selfish to the Nth degree when I hear a parent talking about 'their happiness' and what they want. Honestly, it's not about you, or your spouse, but about the children who you are responsible for molding into decent, emotionally mature adults.

    Posted by AANDD July 24, 09 09:00 AM
  1. First of all, she doesn't give a damn about you or your son, that's clear. And she's not very evolved or she would have left you before seeking the company of another man, so that tells us something about her character. Take the letters and cards and put them someplace safe, a safety deposit box, you may need them in a divorce proceeding. If you can prove that she's a no-good cheat, then you may be able to get custody and keep your shirt. It clearly sounds like neither of you wants this marriage to work, so I'd skip the couples therapy and just do individual therapy and get your son some help to confront the failures of your marriage choices too.

    Break the chain or he may make similar mistakes in his adulthood- that would be a shame.

    Posted by hippydippy July 24, 09 09:10 AM
  1. Hi DJ...I am a 30 year old woman whose parents got divorced when I was eight. Although I lived with my mom, my dad was a very involved parent. I saw him every opportunity I could and spoke to him several times a week. As far as I was concerned, my parents had an amicable split - they didn't fight, argue or express their negative feelings in front of me. They acted like adults. As a result, I think I turned out to be a pretty well-adjusted individual...actually, I think I turned out better than a lot of my friends whose parents stayed together for the sake of their children. I know what a healthy relationship is, and am very close to both of my parents. I don't feel that I was deprived of anything as a child and I have both my mom and dad to thank for it.

    Posted by Heather July 24, 09 09:20 AM
  1. I'm suprised that only one person has mentioned a paternity test so far and that wasn't in the context of the LW. I'd get it quietly.

    Also say nothing to the wife until you have talked to a lawyer. You may do not seem to know what you want to do yet (stay go fight run), which is ok because you are in the worst situation and can't be expected to, but know your rights and options before a confrontation.

    Finally your relationship with your son is up to you and not her.

    Posted by red July 24, 09 09:30 AM
  1. I feel for you and hope that I am never put in that situation myself. However, you are not a pioneer in this regard. Many children have been successfully raised by divorced couples. You should discuss this with your wife and see if the marriage can be salvaged. Perhaps it's out of her system and she is willing to recommit to the marriage...doubtful because anyone who cheats once will likely do it again, but it's possible and you shold at least give it a shot. If not, it's best to move on. Your son is 3, so if you are planning on staying until he's 18, that's 15 more years of living this way. You will drive yourself crazy if you attempt that. Besides, are you really willing to WASTE that many years of potential happiness wih someone else if this can't be worked out? If none of this advice works, ask yourself this...If your son, who you obviously love more than anything, were in this same situation, what advice would you give him?

    Good luck.

    Posted by Kay-Man July 24, 09 09:32 AM
  1. I have walked a mile in your shoes as so many of us have.

    There is absolutely no benefit to staying married, yet alone, for anyone. I cannot understand how people see "staying together for the children" as the best way to go, without a significant incentive.

    The children can ALWAYS pick up on tension and unhappiness. You cannot hide it Over time it becomes incredibly toxic - for them and for you and it leads to all kinds of maladaptive behaviors.

    Definitely confront her, and If you think there's a chance that the marraige can be saved - by all means try. As #136 says, that desire has to come from both parties. In my case this was never a real option.

    NO ONE goes into marraige thinking they are going to arrive here!

    Go with your gut, hire a good lawyer if you must, and best of luck with this. As I was advised in my darkest days - by someone who'd been there - it WILLget better.

    Posted by ava July 24, 09 09:42 AM
  1. I feel for you and hope that I am never put in that situation myself. However, you are not a pioneer in this regard. Many children have been successfully raised by divorced couples. You should discuss this with your wife and see if the marriage can be salvaged. Perhaps it's out of her system and she is willing to recommit to the marriage...doubtful because anyone who cheats once will likely do it again, but it's possible and you shold at least give it a shot. If not, it's best to move on. Your son is 3, so if you are planning on staying until he's 18, that's 15 more years of living this way. You will drive yourself crazy if you attempt that. Besides, are you really willing to WASTE that many years of potential happiness wih someone else if this can't be worked out? If none of this advice works, ask yourself this...If your son, who you obviously love more than anything, were in this same situation, what advice would you give him?

    Good luck.

    Posted by Kay-Man July 24, 09 09:44 AM
  1. Wow!... My heart goes out to you. As a latency aged-child my parents divorced. As a parent, it would be a nighmare situation for me to experience. However emerging research shows that children fair just fine (like myself and many of my friends also from divorced families). The research indicates that children need consistency, love, caring and on-going involvement by a parent. The challenge that likely lies ahead for you if you chose to separate is the impact of residential proximity to your son and the quality of your next intimate relationship. All of this presummes that you don't end up being the primary care taker to your son. lastly, do not stop being a nurturer to your son, you are not simply a financial provider.

    Posted by bob Mann July 24, 09 09:44 AM
  1. Totally agree with "HOSS"! 110%
    I went through the same with me Ex-Husband. The only thing is, your wife needs to be on the same page. As for my Ex-husband and I. Well, he was'nt willing to work things out and had no concern for our childs well-being. It sounds like your wife had'nt considered your son in her decision either. You have to be prepared for the worse. But, you do need to get everything out in the open. Good Luck to you and your son. You sound like a wonderful father!

    Posted by LilShorty98 July 24, 09 10:27 AM
  1. what is "munatulated ", stephanie?

    Posted by nemo July 24, 09 10:32 AM
  1. Val, you should save all the haikus you've posted in this forum and maybe publish them. I'd buy the book!

    Posted by voiceofreason July 24, 09 10:39 AM
  1. #129: Yes, Dudekidguywhatever, you are the Howard Stern of Love Letters. Why don't you make like Howard and take your program to satellite radio? See how many of your fans follow you.

    Posted by dude get a life July 24, 09 11:10 AM
  1. LW, I know you're not the one who's cheated (yet, anyway), but I'm not going to let you off the hook so easily. You admit that the relationship with your wife has been disintegrating for some time now. And you did...absolutely nothing? That boggles my mind. You are just as responsible for what's happening with your marriage as your wife, and shame on you for watching it happen. Now, it may be too late.

    Or maybe not. You owe it to your son to be the bigger person in this relationship, acknowledge how you contributed to its current state and do everything in your power to make it right. It may be much harder than just throwing in the towel and splitting up, but then, it's really not all about you, is it?

    Posted by Rae July 24, 09 11:17 AM
  1. To #139 living with a broken marriage in a seperate room...You are a loser. You are a prime example of what is wrong in our society. You meet someone and have children and buy a house you really couldn't afford and had no right to buy but the idea of the American dream was too much for you so you took 2 mortgages and probably have a ton of other debt since you had to have the new X5 and your husband wanted the M5 and of course a family vacation and the fancy clothes and out to nice restaurants every weekend...

    You made a mess based on fairlyland and now you want others to pay for your stupidity (notice I say stupidity not mistake). Sell the house, take the loss and get a friend to smack you in the head. NOw that you have the "dream" you realize you want "love". Stupid, foolish, loser.

    Posted by #139 is a loser July 24, 09 12:06 PM
  1. Dude666pi#scr*p-
    I don't want you banned. You're too much of an easy target. I got you to say "white collar". I won the bet with my co-workers. Is that white collar hiding in a parrish far away from the scene of the crime?

    Posted by Jerk Store July 24, 09 12:55 PM
  1. #157: get OFF your friggin' high horse.

    Bitterness, party of one? Your table is ready...

    Posted by Amazed July 24, 09 01:28 PM
  1. Although there is a book I could write about this, I'll try to be brief.

    No doubt about it. This is tough. I know first hand. Even the best outcome is bad. But, knowing that up front can both prepare you and keep you focused on the best outcome.

    The marriage is over. Even if you could repair it, it may not be the best for you or your kid. There's the trust issue, but it goes beyond that. Not only does she not respect you, she doesn't respect the marriage and she doesn't respect your son, or at least your son's relationship with you because she never would have done this if she valued those relationships. You're thinking it's noble to stay together for your son, but your wife hasn't considered that it's noble to be true to the marriage for the sake of your son. Face it, your value systems are different. This is just greatest example of it, but if you look, I'm sure you'll see many examples.

    Your best shot know is split and recommend you get full custody. It does happen. Next to that fight hard for joint physical custody where your son spends every other week with you. Insist on it, and if you must, threaten to fight for full custody if she won't agree to joint physical custody. Don't settle on the every other weekend deal. It doesn't work and you'll loose your relationship with your son.

    Don't fight with her. There's no point. Take the high road. Good luck.

    Posted by Rich July 24, 09 01:50 PM
  1. To Meredith and all the commenters from DJ in Burlington

    Thanks very much for your advice and empathy. You're definitely helping me through this. While it was helpful for me to hear other people's stories of infidelity and their reactions to it, it made me pretty sad to see how common it is.

    I especially appreciated the comments pointing out how much work marriage is. Both of us stopped doing the work a couple of years ago, and that's how we ended up here. I was there the whole time and could have worked at it harder, so I bear responsibility too. That doesn't excuse the choices she's made, but it explains them: we were already on the path toward going our separate ways.

    I talked to her about her outside relationship and she fessed up. She said that it was not serious and hadn't gone very far. I don't believe her, but pushing for an honest answer seems fairly pointless and counter-productive at this stage.

    We agreed that if we split we will work out some kind of joint custody. Neither one of us wants to deprive him of the full participation of a parent. Regardless of my personal feelings for her at this point, she is a terrific mother to our boy and I would never want to damage their relationship or his image of his mom. She said she feels the same way about my relationship with him.

    That said, we decided we would try to work things out. We agreed that the status quo is unacceptable. We are going to work at improving it, starting with figuring out how we drifted so far apart and re-examining all the things that brought us together in the first place. Unfortunately, she did not agree to go to counseling. That is a gargantuan red flag for me and makes me doubt her commitment to putting in the right amount of effort. I am going to keep pushing her to do it, though, because I don't think we can do this on our own. It hasn't worked out too well so far.

    To clarify, when I said that there was a possibility I would lose my son, I meant that I wouldn't be able to live under the same roof with him on a daily basis. To me as a parent, the good stuff isn't just going to Disney on Ice or whatever, it's wiping his tears and singing him back to sleep at 3am after he's had a bad dream, it's watching him play by himself in a corner and make up dialogues between his trucks, it's when I'm lying on the couch and he jumps on my ribs. My fear, rational or otherwise, was that those casual moments that happen when parent and child live together would be replaced by the sporadic, event-centered contacts that I had with my dad growing up. Those things don't create a lasting bond, and don't give a child the loving parental base that they need. And I believe they need it from both parents.

    Granted, times have changed, but since my head was in a full throttle Linda-Blair spin cycle, I hope you'll cut me a teensy bit of slack. Even after a couple of days of reflection and martinis, I still think that a divorce leaves me exposed to the judgment of the court system; in spite of what my wife said, she could change her mind if divorce became a reality. Or our judge might have a bad day. Who knows? I don't really want to leave that much to chance.

    So that's the story for now. Even though I appreciate the support from (most of) the commenters, I hope I don't have to write to Meredith ever again.

    Posted by DJ July 24, 09 03:29 PM
  1. #157 (me) not at all bitter...I am taking advantage of these stupid people buying the homes they can no longer afford. If not for the ignorance of these morons buying what they could not afford I wouln't be able to buy their properties at a deep discount. So while you think I am bitter I am not, I am happy to buy their stupid losses at pennies on the dollar. What I am saying is that it is their own fault for being in the position they are in. My statement is a commentary on what is wrong with this society which has saused us the biggest depression of the economy since 1929. If these idiots had thought forward more than next weekend we would not be in this mess and I wouldn't be getting property at great discounts.

    Thanks for being stupid :)

    Posted by #159 is probably in the same boat as #139 July 24, 09 03:36 PM
  1. #161 DJ, Take care. All the Best. We do hope you write in to Meredith when you can.

    Posted by Where there's a will there's a way. July 24, 09 07:14 PM
  1. Get a lawyer. Talk to friends to find a name. Getting a lawyer doesn't mean war. It means you're looking out for your interests, including your relationship with your son.

    In my case, my parents almost divorced when I was 5, struggled, but then finally separated when I was 13-14. Staying for the kid might be noble and all, but I doubt it can work. You're also assuming she won't initiate a divorce on her own. Take initiative and protect what's most important to you here--and I believe you may have better custody rights than you imagine. I'd also make copies of the letters, personally, and as you were advised, note any time she may have been responsible for your son when she met with her lover.

    Posted by Mario July 24, 09 10:40 PM
  1. "The marriage is over" is heard over and over again in these comments.

    Based on what? A marriage is over when it's over, not when a bunch of commenters, projecting their own experience on someone else's life, say it is over.

    I see no reason based on the information given to conclude that the marriage is over. Lots of people have affairs, and lots of couples work through it. Sometimes they don't. I reiterate my earlier comment, to trash a marriage simply because one partner is having a relationship outside the marriage is jumping the gun big time.

    Posted by steve in W MA July 28, 09 10:50 AM
  1. Speaking as someone who grew up in a loveless home, get out now because if you think it’s bad now it will only get worse. To all those making reference to the children picking up on their parents’ problems, you are 100% correct. The older I got, the less my parents even bothered hiding their issues from me. My parents just “celebrated” (and I use that term loosely) 39 years together. Just recently their behavior towards each other was so downright embarrassing I almost pulled them aside and told them to flat out get their sh*t together or get divorced.

    Today, my relationship with my dad is good but it took until I was in my early 20’s for that to happen. My relationship with my mom is very shaky at best. Not living under one roof has helped matters but I have little to no interest in doing things as a family and absolutely dread holidays. I consider my friends more my family than I do my own blood relatives.

    DJ, if you know in your heart this marriage is over, then end it and spare your son from going through what I have and still go through today. It will only get exponentially worse the longer you prolong this. It’s too late for me but I accepted my fate a long time ago. I would not wish the additional stress I have from my family on even my own worst enemy; especially since this was completely avoidable.

    Posted by Anonymous July 28, 09 04:20 PM
  1. My family story in a nut shell: Only child, parents hated each other for as long as I can remember, dad cheated, got caught, TOLD me about it to help him feel better about what he did, mom takes her anger out on me. That affair was 8 years ago. Today I’m almost 30 and my dad recently asked me how I would feel if he were to file for divorce now, after all these years. I asked what the woman’s name was. He gave me one. And then asked if I wanted to meet her. Kids are not stupid and I always knew their relationship was a bad one and I knew about the first affair long before he was busted. As for that divorce, unless the lawyers can work miracles and legally hide all his money, he’s staying put. Uplifting story, huh?

    To back up a generation, my dad grew up in a home exactly like the one he and my mom created for me. The only difference is he actually chose to meet his father’s girlfriend.

    I would like to say I am going to be the one to “break the cycle”. I may still be successful. But, several times throughout my life I have found myself on a collision course with my family’s past. My dad thinks what he has done and is doing is “normal”. I refuse to accept that. It is a constant struggle and I am still afraid of ending up like them but I will not give up. What helps me get through it today is rather simple. I came across a quote several years ago:

    "Who among us is without blame? It is better to concentrate on the strengths of your friends, rather than on their weaknesses. Instead, focus on the things that need correction in your own life."

    I would have preferred to have skipped the constant drama my parents have put me through and continue to put me through, but that was and is out of my control. They are set in their ways and they will never change. And you know what? I feel sorry for them. I choose to be open about this aspect of my life in the hopes I can save those that are younger than me from going through this. My parents chose to quit. I choose to fight.

    DJ, I cannot tell you what to do, but there is something to be said about giving it your all and exhausting all options with your wife to see if you can get back on that path to happiness again. It all starts with communication. If both of you are not up for the amount of hard work ahead of you, do not stay together (like my parents did). Just like post 166, I wouldn’t wish this on anyone.

    Posted by Third Generation of Dysfunction July 29, 09 04:39 PM
  1. My son got a divorce 4 years ago. All they did was fight and my grandkids heard it all. My grandson who was 6 at the time told me he did not want his mom and dad living together anymore because of the fighting. While it hurt my grandkids, they are much happier now. It took awile for them to adjust, but kids are resiliant. They are all happy now. Dont stay in a marriage that does more harm to your children than good. It will be up to you to keep a good relationship with your son. Make him a happy home to visit when he is with you. And dont buy him things cause you feel guilty over the divorce. Kids would rather have memories.

    Posted by grannieks August 12, 09 09:20 AM
  1. DJ,
    i find my self in a very similar situation, only i am the wife and my husband has not only cheated (have pretty much caught him red handed) but physically and verbally abussed me for years. We have two beautiful kids together and i am still here for the kids, He tells me he will take the house and doesnt care where we live. I just cant do that to my babies. I also am scared to leave my kids alone with him, they are never left alone with him now, due to other factors but im scared that he will get custody and that he will make my kids hate me.

    Posted by ANONYMUS August 12, 09 03:48 PM
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Meredith Goldstein is a Boston Globe columnist who follows relationship trends and entertainment. She offers daily advice on Love Letters — and welcomes your comments. Meredith is also the author of "The Singles," a novel about complicated relationships. Follow Meredith at www.meredithgoldstein.netand on Twitter. Love Letters can be found in the print edition of The Boston Globe every Saturday in the G section.

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