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Healthy parents support?

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blakesteele posted 4/28/2014 07:15 AM

A long-standing friend on SI recently posted. She mentioned her gratefulness to her parents as she journeys her path through and away from adultery. I remember reading the point in time when she and her husband sat down with her parents and told them about his affair. Her parents stepped up....supported their decision to R. (the decision to R was made prior to talking to her parents about it).

That was over a year ago....and that short post by her has stuck with me. It has because this is a component to our R that we simply don't have. Our fathers are almost non-existent in our lives. My Mom is still in pain over my Dad's affair and her choice to D him 30 years ago. I had to actually have this conversation with my Mom.

"Mom, if I choose to R my marriage....will you support me?" It took her a moment to change gears. She, unfortunately, was very ready to support me in D.....but I get a sense from her that R was simply not an option. My brother D pretty quickly into their struggles, and she was quick to support that decision.

She is now supportiveof us....and is starting to feel and process some things she has been avoiding for that is good.

I selfishly would like to hear from others whose parent (s) have stepped up fast and hard to support the mending and forgiveness that is such a challenge after adultery is invited into a marriage. I get that real change comes from within and that the primary relationship is between a husband and wife (leave and cleave thing)....but immediate support for a M from parents must be very comforting.

I know, it doesn't change my sitch....but following this one SI's journey to sitting down with her parents as a husband and wife motivates me.

I sooooo want to be that Dad if and when my daughters struggle with relationships. I want to protect and nurture them specifically but want to be mature enough to respect their wishes and be a tug boat for them as they push out of the harbor of our family and into the ocean that is going to be their lifes voyage.

I desire to mature more.....oldest is 10 so I have a few more years. I have grown considerably since 21 months ago.....but I still have some scared little boy pieces inside me yet. I see my Mom still has some scared little girl parts inside her. We all do....and this is why these parents I was allowed to "see" via that post over a year ago has stuck with me. They have matured to the point where they know marriages are hard...but that does not mean you give up.

This idea of committment.....I am learning what it means. Learning to do it in extreme adversity and in spite of what my feelings are, at times, telling me to do. AND learning to abandon my codependent ways....aiming for interdependent relationship with my wife.

I believe this growth WILL benefit our daughters....much like a fellow SI members parents set the foundation that this member can build a new marriage from. Was just cool to "see" some parents show up to the "job site" and encourage rebuilding after the storm.

Any others care to share how their parents stepped up? Or care to share how they had similar experiences as mine with my Mom?

God is with us all.

[This message edited by blakesteele at 7:29 AM, April 28th (Monday)]

blakesteele posted 4/28/2014 07:23 AM

Positive side of my relationship with my Mom.....

I have shared some of MY hurtful actions within my M with her....namely my use of porn within it. It was uncomfortable, but it feels REAL.

Also shared some of my lesser offenses with her. Turns out, my Dad did similar things within his M to my Mom. Recently, my Mom started sharing little pieces of her self....and how her actions hurt, limited, or killed initmacy in her marriage to my Dad.

So much good continues to happen in my life.

I sincerely appreciate the willingness of people on this site to share these details of their journeys. It is easier to quote from books and express theory and philosophy.....but their is real value in simply sharing feelings and emotions. I felt myself holding my breath for this SI member and her husband as they sat down with her parents and told them.


bionicgal posted 4/28/2014 08:41 AM

I can't be much help, as I haven't told my dad (mom is deceased) and my H is not close to his parents, so no reason to tell. My dad knows we have been in counseling and were going through a rough patch, and asked my sister if my H had an A, and she didn't deny - so he kind of knows, but we don't talk about it.

That sounds unhealthy, but my MC was pretty adamant that my dad doesn't seem like someone safe to tell. I hope I don't regret it someday. I do feel like it has limited intimacy between me and my dad, but he would be likely to blame me for the A (like, I wasn't doing enough), so that is part of the hesitation. Sometimes I worry that I am not giving him the chance to step up, though.

BrokenButTrying posted 4/28/2014 08:50 AM

I'm a WW so my take is a little different.

My family know, his don't. His choice.

My mum has put her feelings about our relationship and marriage to one side and supported me. I know underneath everything, she wanted me to D. When I told her about my A, I made it very clear I wanted to R and I needed her to support me in that. She was absolutely unfaltering. She supports me in everything no matter what her personal feelings.

My mum is a bit awesome.

rachelc posted 4/28/2014 08:56 AM

My Mom knows everything. SAme with my sister.
His Dad knows but not his Mom - she is the town gossip.

However, going through this has brought my Mom and I closer. It's too bad pain has to be the way people finally connect but so be it. She was a BS herself and my Dad left her for the OW. But Mom forged a much more interesting life for herself.
She was hurt so very badly - not only by my dad but by her family - her own mother allowed my dad in her house to visit us, her sister was one of my dad's witnesses to their annulment - just awful, more betrayal bullshit.

She's been my rock and as long as I stay married to my husband she'll support him too. She is very sad for us. But she's been around long enough to give us wise adivce - that all long term marriages suffer at times - people have bad years and even bad decades of marriage. She has offered either of her homes (alaska and arizona) for us at any time if we want to get away.

I've learned a lot from her and also learned a little about what she went through herself. She was not a good parent when we were growing up. She is now.

veronique12 posted 4/28/2014 08:57 AM

Hi Blake, we've never chatted but I've read many of your posts and have found them really helpful, so thank you for that.

I did tell my parents right away and they were and still continue to be supportive. My dad was a serial cheater throughout much of my parents' M, though my parents have stayed together (45 years). I knew about several of my dad's A's growing up. My sense of self has been pretty warped because of them, as I'm learning more and more as I delve into IC, and so telling my parents has been complicated, but ultimately cathartic.

From the get-go, my parents have been supportive of whatever I feel I need to do: R, D, separate. My mother was very frank from the beginning, telling me how different my situation is from hers, how she didn't feel she had a choice to D my dad since she had no job, no education, no $, and 3 little kids. I work, which makes D a more easily attainable option for me. My mom has been terrific with offering me her experiences, talking me down, giving me tough love. My dad, interestingly enough, has been pretty good too. It's really weird to sit down at the table with your parents and talk about issues of infidelity that were so painful when I was a kid and so painful now that I'm dealing with them in my own M. I'm sure it really hurt them to see the same dynamics play out in my M.

My dad has been kind to my H, including him, not alienating him, talking to him directly about it, saying that it works out for us, that it will take time, etc. My whole family has been this way really.

I think the real benefit of talking to my parents about the A is that I'm starting to really look at what my father's infidelity has done to my own feelings of self-worth, of what a M is supposed to be, and maybe to understand the parallels between the dynamics of their relationship and my M. As a young teenager, I resented my mother for staying with my cheating father. I looked down on her. Now I see things in a more nuanced way and in a weird way, it's brought me closer to my parents.

itstoomuch posted 4/28/2014 09:02 AM

You know my story... So when I called my mother to tell her what had happened, he first words were "this isn't the first time this has happened.." What she meant was NOT that my H had done this before, BUT that this type of this happens all the time...I think it helped put things in perspective. She didn't respond with shock - it was just matter of fact.

She supported us by helping watch kids so I could visit him. She helped me with getting our kids to visit him since I could only visit 4x month, and we had too many kids for them to all go at the same time. She talked with him. She sent him books to read she knew he would enjoy. She wrote him letters and sent nice cards. It meant a lot to him and to me as well. Since he's been back & I've complained to my mom, overall she doesn't react. She listens, sometimes joins in with me with frustration, but in the end she maintains the support of our M. She is the one more than any if our parents that gave of her time and made an effort to support us and encourage him as well to do right.

My father (my parents are D) was exact opposite, but let me finish the story... He went on protector mode when it all hit. He walked me into lawyers office and MADE me sit and listen to how/what's of legal separation. He paid the couple hundred bucks and sent me home w paperwork to sign when I was ready. He and my FIL had some conflict in those first months post dday while he was trying to protect me and FIL was trying to let my H. I had a lot of yelling arguments w my father. He was the worst enemy of R. When my H went away, he never asked a word about him. He knew I was visiting etc but he never said a word. To him, my H did not exist. I should note also my dad is lifetime teacher and was HS principal in town they got caught in, so this situation hit my father in more ways than one. :( despite my R, my dad maintained his support of ME and the kids. He helped out in so many many ways! And my stepmom too- she listened a lot to me but never crossed my dad- followed his lead mostly. They both did everything they could to protect me and the kids... Even when they knew I was R w my H.

When my H got home, my dad sat down w us both for the first time since it happened. My dad expressed his concerns, his personal hurt and disappointments; but then he shocked us both by saying he is still here for us. He didn't exist for over two years to father, but once he rejoined our family, my dad extended his hand again. Since then, my H has said my dad has talked much with him and treated him like a son again. We go out to eat together and they even bought him a sweater for Christmas this year lol! I stand amazed at the miracle that my dad would forgive my H and have the relationship he has w him know. I know he is still on guard and watching, but it is huge how my father has laid down his desires to support my desire to R. He would have loved for me to D and move on.

My FIL is a preacher, so his parents pretty much went I to shock I think. A lot of shame to bear. Think his dad only visited him 2-3x. His mom helped w our kids to visit. They supported us R, but honestly I've been hurt by a lot of things they said/did. I felt like they were more worried about losing their grandkids over this and how this affected them and their family more than me. The supported us to R, but I never felt more separated from them since I have married my H. I was actually closer to them for many years and most of my M than w my own parents, so it stings bad. I really don't think they know the pain I've felt and the sacrifices and struggles I have gone thru to reconcile with their son. I guess I'm bitter about this. I didn't cheat on their son- he is the one who cheated. Why do I feel like the bad one in their eyes?

You mentioned you being able to support your daughters in R... Watching my dad hurt for me is one of the most heart wrenching things about all this. He did everyone he could to protect his little girl, but I have so much respect when I understand he let go of his natural instincts to love and support me and the decision I made. But it's really not that he supported me to R, it's that he supported me NO MATTER WHAT I decided. What if you feel confident in your ability to support a R if infidelity (or anything else for that matter) affected your daughters' much that they know that you would be supportive of R... So much that they might possibly fear your lack of support if they decided to D? I know people who could fall in this category too. So while right now you might be feeling the need to find strength to support a possible R in the future, remember too that you may also need to find strength to support a possible D. It's all hypothetical I know, but the key is that your daughters know you support THEM And will ALWAYS LOVE them. That takes meekness :) my mom and my dad did this in different ways and at different paces, but ultimately they both did. Remember as we are healing, our parents must heal too. What my H did hurt more people than just me; our parents have to work through their own pain as well.

SpotlessMind posted 4/28/2014 09:03 AM

I wish I could share a positive parents story with you, Blakesteel, but I've chosen not to tell mine. After talking at length about my FOO issues in IC, my therapist agrees that telling my mom would not be safe, as she has a lot of narcissistic characteristics and I most likely would not get the support I needed or worse, she wouldn't support R at all. My dad revolves around my mom, and apart from that he just wouldn't understand, and I don't want to risk permanently damaging his (good) relationship with my husband.

My husband told his parents that he'd made some bad choices and our marriage had suffered because of them, but I don't think they wanted more info than that and frankly, I'm pretty sure his mom would support any choice he made in the pursuit of "his happiness." He thinks the same thing, so we made a joint decision not to fill them in on the exact issue--though they know more than my parents in terms of our relationship hitting some rocky times.

I won't lie--it's a lonely feeling sometimes, when your parents can't provide a safe haven. My sister is a no-go as well, for various reasons. Thankfully I have some very supportive friends. And something that I actively work for is making a safe haven for my own children to share their feelings and frustrations. If my husband and I can build a better, closer, more emotionally in-touch and supportive primary family unit out of all if this, I will count it as a win.

blakesteele posted 4/28/2014 10:34 AM


I'm a WW so my take is a little different.

What I am learning is that parental support is nice regardless if you have been hurt or are the one that hurt another. My Mom is sad about my use of porn, and my lesser offenses I did to my marriage...but she does support me as I choose better. I appreciate your comments. Thank you. Your Mum DOES sound awesome!

(((rachelc))) I is a shame pain can, and often is, the path by which growth and deeper bonding occurrs. Good to hear that you and your Mom are nurturing your relationship into even more fertile territory.

Hi are welcome, glad my posts have helped you.

I'm starting to really look at what my father's infidelity has done to my own feelings of self-worth, of what a M is supposed to be, and maybe to understand the parallels between the dynamics of their relationship and my M. As a young teenager, I resented my mother for staying with my cheating father. I looked down on her. Now I see things in a more nuanced way and in a weird way, it's brought me closer to my parents.

Me too! Though my self-worth was tied to my Dad just disappearing, abandoning me.....left me wondering why and how a Dad could choose that way. And my resentment of my Mom was that she emotionally and spiritually shut down a lot after her D. NOW, I appreciate what they were going their respective FOO issues modified their character. It, too, has brought me closer to my least grounds for growing new compassion and forgiveness.

You seem to have a much more well-rounded stance early into your journey then I started has and will continue to serve you well. I was a mess for the first 3 months, and really took me at least 6 months to have anything that resembled the clarity your post here shows.

(((Itstoomuch))) I do know a lot of your journey, but new stuff was brought up in the post. It must have felt great to have your Dad process through his anger to the point he is at now. Sorry about your in-laws. Shame over their sons actions....I kinda get this, but kinda don't. I had some shame early on over my wifes actions...but quickly (albeit with therapy) discovered the truth that my wifes affair was not about me. I was deeply hurt by it, but I had not hand in her decisions or actions regarding it. That response by them, coupled with their "grandchild visitation concerns" displays a need for maturing in them. I pray it happens.

Thank you for the nudge about my interactions with my daughters.

For what it is worth....I have made it a practice to have this following conversation with them.

"Do you know what you can do to make me love you more?"--me


"Do you know what you can do to make me love you less?"--me


They NOW roll their eyes as I ask them this question. At recent talent show I told them this.

"You know....if either of you win tonight I am going to love you more....right?"--me

"DAD! We know that is a trick question!!"--was their response.

Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters
by Meg Meekers was a highly influencial book in my life as I learn to be a good Dad.

Having said all of that.....I have to keep in balance committment vs staying in abusive situations. From relationships all the way down to job situations. I am working on that.....

(((Spotlessmind))) I totally get that just because they are parents it is NOT a guarantee they are "safe".

I won't lie--it's a lonely feeling sometimes, when your parents can't provide a safe haven. My sister is a no-go as well, for various reasons.

Yes it is. Isolation. That is how I felt upon my parents D....and for most of my formative years. By the grace and mercy of God I did not get into drugs, alcohol, or horribly use girls....I did, however, reach for and use porn.

As I go through the process of removing that from my life (13 months porn free) it has become extremely clear that a trigger for me to reach for this is when I feel isolated.

I thought porn was just about sex. It took being clean from it for over 6 weeks before I could own that it was not JUST about sex...and actually had very little to do with sex.

Not blaming my parents for my poor choices...thats all on me. Just recognizing a void in me that was created upon my parents D. I am now finding ways to heal and fill that void with healthy, intimacy building items.

This is an exahausting journey. It is nice to hear from folks whose parents continue to want to help and engage their children. It is also nice to hear from folks who don't have that....and are doing it without that support.

God is with us all.

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