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Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
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Break-up of a 20 year marriage

Customer Question

My daughter, after 20 years of marriage and two beautiful sons, just found out a month ago that her husband has been cheating with his high school sweetheart. He told her he still loves her, but he is in love with the other woman. He also told her he doesn't want to stay, he doesn't want counseling, he wants to separate. He is still in the home in the den. They have yet to tell the two boys, 13 and 17. My daughter desperately wanted him to stay,but she has found the strength to tell him he needs to leave, but not until after Christmas. They are going to tell the boys in two days. Her husband does not want to tell them he was cheating. My daughter wants to make sure the boys know that she does not want the marriage to end, but she doesn't want them to hate their father. She wants to be sure the boys are not angry with her, as well. We need the right words for them to talk to their boys.
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your question.

 

It is always sad when a marriage ends, particularly when children are involved. Although your son in law was at fault for the end of his marriage, it sounds like your daughter and your son in law have been able to put their children first and handle this in a mature way so they do not get hurt worse than is necessary. Regardless of how your son in law acted in his marriage, the children will still need him as their father. Any way that unnecessary anger and resentment can be avoided should be considered.

 

Your grandchildren should be told that their parents can no longer be together. Your daughter and son in law should confirm that the children are not at fault for what is happening and had no part in the matter. The parents need to take blame and assure the children that no matter what happens, they are first in their parents lives.

 

The children are old enough to understand what may be the cause of their parents divorce. They may have noticed the subtle signs of Dad not being around as much or they may have seen or heard their parents fighting. The important thing is to be as honest as possible without causing additional hurt. Your daughter should try to control how she feels about her husband, at least in front of the kids. Family counseling should be considered, even if Dad is not willing to participate (though he should for the children's sake). But even if it is just the children who see a counselor, it will help them work out how they feel.

 

Also, your daughter and son in law should encourage open communication from the children. Let them ask questions as needed. If they want to know what broke their parents up, however, your daughter and son in law may want to come up with an acceptable answer that the children will be happy with but keeps their situation private. The children may know anyway and if they admit to knowing about the affair, then their parents should confirm it. The worst response would be to lie about it. Kids are smart and know when they are being lied to and this would only create mistrust in the family on top of the pain of the divorce.

 

I hope this has helped you,
Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Thank you so much. I am going to show this to my daughter. My daughter if very concerned that the younger son may blame her, so she wants to let them both know she did not want this to end. How should she tell them that without directly saying their father was unfaithful?
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome. I am glad to help.

 

It is ok for your daughter to say that she did not want the marriage to end. Your son in law may want to say that as well. Telling the kids that it was a decision that both parents arrived at together is the best option. That way, there can be no direct blame. If your grandson still tries to blame his mother, however, there may be some underlying issues in their relationship that should be addressed by a therapist.

 

Kate

Customer: replied 2 years ago.
No, he loves his mom very much, that's not the case. My daughter is just dealing with being blind sided by this. I'm not sure she can can say this was a mutual decision. If it were up to her, they would try to make this work. Can she let them know she didn't want this without damaging his relationship with his dad? If anything, that relationship has not been the greatest. She wants them to know she tried to keep it together. She wants them to know she fought to keep them a family of four. Is it possible to do that, or should she just give in and let him tell the boys it was a mutual decision. I'm sorry, right now, I'm angry with my son-in-law. Can't see things clearly. I just want him to leave the home now.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

No need to apologize. I am glad to be able to help. Divorces caused by affairs often cause very strong feelings from both sides and it is not easy to navigate. This involves betrayal, hurt, loss and much pain for most everyone involved. And you love your daughter and her children. Seeing them hurt causes you pain.

 

She can let the kids know she tried to work on the marriage, but she needs to consider is how the children will view what she says. When she says she worked on the relationship and tried to keep them together, the kids are going to wonder why Dad is not saying the same thing. It will become obvious that Dad wants to leave and Mom is the victim. The kids will be torn about who to support.

 

The important point is how this is going to affect the kids. Emotions are very high right now and it is tempting to tell the kids what really happened. Your daughter is being treated unfairly and it's hard to not tell the kids so it feels justice is served and your daughter doesn't have to accept blame. Your daughter is not only having to cope with being blind sided by her husband, but she has to put on a front for the kids. However, she may want to consider that what she does now will have effects on the kids long after she has dealt with her feelings from this situation and moved on. If she gets out her feelings now and tells the kids what happened, they may not choose to have a relationship with their father or if they do, it may be full of anger and resentment. His behavior will be apparent soon when he takes up with the mistress. The kids will not be fooled by his behavior. That is going to be a lot to cope with for them.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5424
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.
Just wanted to say thank you. You are right. Emotions run high. I will let my daughter see this. You have helped a great deal. Thank you.
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 2 years ago.

You're welcome! My heart breaks for your daughter and her children. This is not easy to deal with at all.

 

I thought she may want to try some resources when she is feeling up to it. Here are some to help her:

 

The Truth About Children and Divorce: Dealing with the Emotions So You and Your Children Can Thrive by Robert E. Emery

 

Putting Children First: Proven Parenting Strategies for Helping Children Thrive Through Divorce by JoAnne L. Pedro-Carroll

 

Kate

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