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Q: I have been in a relationship for eight years. About three years ago, my fiance learned that his father had been having a long-term affair. His mother had found evidence, confronted her husband, and was preparing for a divorce. She shared this with my fiance.
Ultimately, they did decide to stay together. However, the experience wreaked havoc on my relationship. My fiance was angry at his father for the affair and angry at his mother for telling him about it. Not surprisingly, my fiance was upset and withdrew with worries that the "sins of the father would be bestowed upon the son." And though I hate to admit it, I too suddenly had doubts. Would my fiance also have an affair? Could I trust him? Instead of starting from a place of trust, I found myself beginning from doubts and becoming even more possessive and insecure. Ultimately, his father apologized to him but never to me. It has been the elephant in the room at every family gathering.
I have told my fiance that I am hurt as well, and that I would like to discuss it. My fiance's response: "Why?" He doesn't think that my feelings are justified because his parents experienced a greater loss than me. The issue has driven a wedge between us because I feel like he doesn't value my feelings. It's also hurt my relationship with his parents because I have lost all respect for his father.
I know that this experience has exposed many weaknesses in this relationship, but I'm curious about just one aspect: Am I wrong to believe that there should be a discussion with his family that includes me, in which the affair is at least acknowledged? Am I expecting too much to believe that his father owes me an apology as well?
– Still Wondering About My Place, Boston
A: Your fiance's dad hurt a lot of people when he cheated on his wife. For all you know, his co-workers are thinking, "Why isn't he apologizing to us for bringing his relationship stress into the work place?" For all you know, your fiance's parents' friends are thinking, "Shouldn't he be chatting with us about how he messed with the dynamics of the group?"
You're one of many people who got caught up in this mess. Your fiance's dad might bring this up with you eventually, but for now he's focused on his wife. That's understandable, even though I absolutely empathize with your anger and frustration.
My hope is that he rallies as a parent and explains to his son that every marriage is different. My hope is that your fiance can watch his parents overcome a relationship tragedy with love and support. That would be a great lesson.
In the meantime, you need to focus on your own relationship. Separate yourself from this indiscretion and maybe your fiance will follow your lead. His parents are not the Ghosts of Christmas Future. They're just two people trying to make it work.
Readers? Is she entitled to a talk with the father? Is the fiance being insensitive? What should she do? Help.
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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.