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Love Letters

Keeping The Family Secret

We have special help today. Kelyn Rowe, who plays for the New England Revolution, came to the office to try to answer Love Letters questions. He was very confident about his answers. He'll answer tomorrow's letter too.


Q:

Dear Meredith,

I am in a committed relationship with a wonderful man. Someone who I can see myself living happily with for a very long time. We have been together for two years. I am in my late 30s and he is in his early 40s. We're both first-generation Americans. Both our families live abroad. Let's call him "Adam."

The reason I write is because very early in our relationship Adam told me that his dad has kept a lover in a different country for the last 20 years. The father has been able to sustain this extra-marital relationship for so long mainly because he travels to that country several times a year. To make things even more complicated, the other woman is directly responsible for assigning and finding all his work abroad. Part of the family financial stability has depended on this relationship for a long time.

When Adam told me about it, he also said that this has caused him a great deal of pain. He said he didn't want any secrets between us and that above all, he wanted us to have relationship based on trust, love, and respect. I appreciated his candor and asked why he hadn't told his mom. He said that he hasn't been able to because he does not want to cause her any pain, and that at this point it has been too long.

Six months ago, Adam's mom was diagnosed with cancer. Needless to say, her illness has been devastating for everyone in the family. She is in treatment and has stabilized. These last six months have been quite an emotional roll-coaster for everyone. This has also highlighted the giant elephant in the room: his dad continues to have ties with the other woman.

A month ago we visited his folks for two weeks. I was able to get to know them better and bond with his mom quite a bit. While there, I was polite with his dad.

I felt quite resentful of the fact that now I am contributing to the deceit by omission. I also feel guilty every time I speak to or see his mom. She is a wonderful human being. Now that I got to know her a bit better, I recognize that a lot of the nice things I love about Adam come from her.

As my relationship starts to get more serious and I begin to see myself potentially having a family with Adam, I am feeling more and more unsettled about the situation. I don't want to be part of this lie just because I became part of the family. I guess it all boils down to the fact that I am hoping Adam can finally muster the courage to tell his mom the truth. She deserves better. We all deserve better.

Is being part of this lie tarnishing our relationship and our future? What does this say about Adam himself? How can I help him understand that telling her the truth, while scary and hard, is the right thing to do? Would telling her the truth so soon after surviving cancer a bad idea? Should I tell her myself? I have even considered sending her an anonymous email.

– Tormented About the Deceit, Boston

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A: Don't send an anonymous email. Don't tell the mother anything. You don't know the terms of her marriage and you can't make assumptions about the status of Adam's father's relationship with this woman. All you know is what Adam told you, which might not be accurate information.

You can spend time with Adam's family without getting into all of the horrible secrets. They're your boyfriend’s parents. You're just getting to know them.

For now you should be focused on supporting Adam as he figures out what to do about this lie. That's why he told you, right? He wants help. He wants you to be a good listener as he considers this difficult decision. It's about him, not about you or your relationship.

Be that good listener. Ask Adam questions about how this lie will affect him as he gets older. Work as a team to figure out what's best for him and his family.

Readers? Should the LW tell Adam's mother? What's her role here? Did Kelyn do better than the Bruins?

– Meredith