Stepfather had affair and has moved out

By Dr. Marie Hartwell-Walker

My stepfather of 15 years has been having a physical and emotional affair for a year and a half. He told my mother yesterday and has begun moving out. They will be getting a divorce as my mother wants nothing to do with him.

My biological father had an affair when he was married to my mom, I was a year old when he moved out. My biological father has been there for big events in my life, birthdays, holidays, dance recitals, etc. However, my stepfather was around daily. Therefore I have always felt that I have two fathers, and have always had a better connection with my stepfather.

Now that i know what my stepfather has done to my mom, at this time, I have no desire to speak to him ever again. I feel so betrayed by his actions towards my mother and the family we had become. My issue is that in a divorce where the biological father is involved, the children are still that man’s children. In this situation, I am losing a father. I’m not sure how to even begin coping with this. I’m having a hard time finding advice, so anything will help.

A: I don’t blame you a bit for being furious. I understand why you feel like you never want to deal with him again. I get it that you feel pulled to side with your mom who is devastated to once again be left by a man.

But before you write your stepfather off completely, bear in mind that you are the kid in this situation. You may be 23, but you are still the kid. There may be more to the story than your mother wants you to know or that your stepfather chooses to share with you. What goes on in their marriage is between the two of them.

You have a separate relationship with three parents who love you: your mom, your bio-father, and your stepfather. You don’t have to choose among those relationships. Just as you’ve maintained a relationship with your bio-father, you can keep some type of relationship with your stepdad. You can certainly tell your him how disappointed you are in him and how hurt you feel that he would break up your family instead of working things out. But if he has indeed been a good father to you most of the time, that doesn’t get wiped away because he’s failed as a husband.

I suggest you ask him what he would like to happen for the two of you and take it from there. It will take all the maturity you can manage to open up this type of conversation but it may help you untangle your feelings of loyalty to your mother from your own personal wishes.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 16 Oct 2010

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2010). Stepfather had affair and has moved out. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 1, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2010/10/16/stepfather-had-affair-and-has-moved-out/