I found out my mom is cheating

By Daniel J. Tomasulo, PhD, TEP, MFA, MAPP

Hi, I just found out that my mom is cheating on my dad and don’t know what to do, I found out through a letter that she had on her bag send it by another men and the letter said that they have been seen each other for the last four years.

The thing is that I had suspicions about this because two years ago I read a message on her phone and I ask her about it, but she said that the message wasn’t for her, that it was her friend who was having an affair and she was receiving the messages for her, I knew she was lying to me, but I preferred to believed her because it was easy, but I never stop thinking if every time she said she was going with a friend it was the whole truth.

After that I was completely sure if she was still having the affair so I decided to not tell her anything, but now that I am sure that the affair is still going on, I don’t know what to do. I have read that in these cases is best if you let it go, because this is supposed to be between my father and my mother, but I don’t know what to do.

I don’t know if I have the courage to ask her again and I am afraid of what she would say. Also I know that must people cheat on their marriage but this is being going on for 4 years and that’s what scares me, also I don’t want to tell my mom that I know because I’m afraid of what would happen. I don’t want my parents to get a divorced, that’s what the fist time I knew about this I didn’t tell anything, but I’m not sure if I can do this anymore, and I don’t want to tell any of my friends cause I don’t want them to think bad of my mother so I want somebody to talk to.

Thank you

A: I am so sorry you are caught in the middle of this. Not an easy place to be and there are no clear directives on something like this. There are many factors to weigh.

There are two paths that seem the most helpful. Please know the strategies might be very different if you were younger. But at 22 I think these might be the most reasonable ways to move forward.

The first thing is to use this feeling of betrayal (your mom lying to you, and betraying the family) as a catalyst for your own growth and development. While it might seem ubiquitous, cheating on one’s spouse is still a devastation to everyone involved. But this devastation can be fertile ground for your own maturation.

I would seek out a therapist (click the find help tab above) to begin talking about your experience and I would start keeping a journal of your thoughts, feelings, and reactions. One of the issues here is that your mom has become someone you cannot trust sharing your needs with. As a result I would start developing a network of support of your own. A therapist, a journal, and at least one good friend will be the places to put your energy. Don’t confront your mom with this. Just know that she is limited in how she can respond and be there for you. Develop your own support. You need safe places to have your feelings.

The second path is riskier, but may allow you to keep an honest relationship with your mom if she is willing. Do all the things noted on the first path, but in addition talk to your mom. This path involves simply explaining the facts.

  • You’ve learned about the affair and are upset by it.
  • You feel stuck and uncertain what to do with the information because it puts you in the position of having to keep a secret.
  • You are disappointed in her and are uncertain what to do about it.

The advantage of this is that it opens the communication path between you and your mom: There is no longer an elephant in the room that isn’t being talked about. The disadvantage is the elephant has to be dealt with.

As a side note the divorce rate for people who married their lovers is 75 percent. The noted psychiatrist and author Frank Pittman explains this is due to such factors as intervention of reality; guilt; expectations’ a general distrust of marriage; and a distrust of the affairee.

I include this information because whatever direction this goes it isn’t going to be a quick fix, and the best person to invest in during this time is you. Take the time to honor your feelings through a journal and starting therapy. When you are ready, confide in a trusted friend. They can be one of your best resources.

Wishing you patience and peace,
Dr. Dan

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 6 Jul 2010

APA Reference
Tomasulo, D. (2010). I found out my mom is cheating. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 23, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/07/06/i-found-out-my-mom-is-cheating/