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You Asked: My Dad Had an Affair While My Mom Was in the Hospital

Dear Sugar,

A year ago, when my mother was diagnosed with cancer, she told me that she suspected my father had been cheating on her for some time, and a few months ago, my mother passed away. My brother still lives at home with my dad and was angry when he found evidence of my dad's affair. I was pregnant with my first child and decided to try and clear the air. I had my dad over for dinner and confronted him about the affair and, of course, he denied it.

Just yesterday, he showed up at my house with a hickey on his neck. He tried covering it up and I didn't say anything. My brother found out the girlfriend's name and that she's about 2 years older than me, 35, and my father is 60. My brother suspects they've been seeing each other for over a year.

I can't bear the thought that he was so disrespectful to my mother while she was dying in the hospital, and I can't believe that he continues to look me in the face and lie about it. I wouldn't mind if he decided he was ready to date, I certainly don't expect him to be alone forever, but maybe in a year or so after the dust has settled.

I'm concerned about the relationship he'll have with my new daughter because I have lost respect for him. He'll be retiring soon, and I imagine that she'll be moving into my family home and taking vacations with my father's sizable pension. Of course it's his business, but it makes me sick. Do I confront him again and see if he can be truthful? Do I forget about it, or
just tell him no matter how much he denies it, I know the truth and I've lost respect for him?

—In Disbelief Debbie

To see Dear Sugar's answer

Dear In Disbelief Debbie,

First of all, I am so sorry for the loss of your mother. I can't imagine how you must feel losing her to cancer and then having to deal with your father's unspeakable actions. Not only did he cheat on your mother and disrespect her and their relationship, but he did it while she was sick and in need. I don't blame you for having lost respect for him, especially when he continues to hide the secret you already know.

That being said, you've got to decide what kind of relationship you want to have with your father, if any. If you do want him to be a part of your life and to be a grandfather to your daughter, then you're going to have to find a way to either forgive, or forget about, what he's done. If you can't seem to shake the fact that he lied, then yes, I would confront him again (maybe with your brother for emotional support).

I know that you probably had a wonderful image in your mind of how your family life would be so I'm sorry that you're let down. Sometimes time is a great healer, but if you can't put his actions behind you, then you may decide that your father doesn't deserve to have a relationship with you or your daughter. If that's the case, I'd focus on the loving family you and your daughter do have. Good luck.


ali321 ali321 7 years
Okay anonymous I'm not unsympathetic, but how would you feel if you had an affair while your husband is dying and he found out about it? Could you deal with that?
MsWalton MsWalton 9 years
First, let me say that I'm sorry for your loss. This reminds me a lot of the situation between my parents. There's no need to say anything else to him. Karma will work it all out. What he's done to your family (especially your mother), will come back to him 2x worse then it did the first time it happened.
looseseal looseseal 9 years
I feel you *virtual hugs* And maybe it's me, but I find it really unhelpful when asked to think hypothetically about how dad might have his reasons for cheating on your mom. That wouldn't make me feel any less sick about it. Also, it feels horrible when someone talks as if it's somehow not okay for you to feel sick about this whole thing (not directed at anyone here, just in general). You'd have to be really aloof or some kind of Zen master for it to not affect you. Don't hold it all in. That's not healthy. As "not very nice" as it might sound, I find it more helpful to hate on the mistress. I know it's not fair and it takes two to tango and blah blah... but what's the alternative? Being all totally Zen about it? I'm not ready for that, yet. Hating them both equally? Well, the man is still my father, the man who raised me for so many years. What have the bitch ever done for me? And it's not like I'd seek her out and slap her bitch face (admittedly I thought about it, but that's illegal and I'm a law abiding citizen). I'd just rant about it more-or-less anonymously online - so no harm, no foul. Go ahead and rant and rage in your blog, or something. Let it out somewhere harmless. And who cares if she may not be a bitch (in my case, it's been proven without a doubt that she is, in fact, a beeyotch. Heh), and she may not have known she was screwing around with a married man? All those are just theories and unanswered questions that leave you more frustrated. Because those are things we just don't know and have no way to be sure about right now! But your anger is real, and your need to vent is real. Do it right here on the interwebs. Just try to avoid doing things you might regret while you're still steaming. Like swear to cut off all ties with your father, or perform some kind of double homicide, that kind of "irreversible damage" type of stuff. I was thisclose to posting posters around town of a photo I found of her, advertising her services as a prostitute, before I thought better of it. Might have been kind of funny, but might also have gotten me in a heap of trouble. I'd maybe start with writing dad a letter to avoid saying something you'd regret in the heat of the moment. You don't even have to ever actually send it out if you don't want to. Or you can use the material you've written in conversation at a later time if you'd rather have a chat face to face instead of use a letter. I wish I have an angry brother to commiserate with. It sounds like the two of you keep in communication. That's good. Keep communicating with him. It really helps to have an ally who knows exactly how you feel at a time like this. And don't forget to go back to your life and focus on the things that make you happy. That's something I'm still struggling with myself, but it really helps whenever I manage to do it, it gets easier as time passes. Corny but true. Once you get to a point where you can figure out what this means for you, what this means for your daughter's relationship with her grandfather will be clearer. Don't try to figure out step 2 before you figure out step 1.
bfly1133 bfly1133 9 years
I am not going to condone your father's behavior. But, I think you need to have the whole picture here. Your dad was probably going through a lot when your mom was dying. He may not have known how to handle it, so he reached out to another woman to help him. It may not have even been physical before your mom passed. (It still doesn't make it right.) You also don't know everything about your parents' relationship. There may have been other things going on that made him check out in this way. (Again, I am not giving him a pass.) There is nothing that says you have to be happy about what your father has done/is doing. However, I think you should put it behind you for the sake of your daughter. You could even talk to him about it again, say you know, and you would prefer that he just be honest about the whole thing. Then you move on. You may never see your father the same way again and forgiveness may be a long time coming. But please remember that our parents make mistakes and they aren't perfect. His past transgressions may not negatively affect his grandparenting skills. That may help you overcome some of this. I am so sorry for your loss and that you have to go through all of this while you are still grieving. :HUG:
Marci Marci 9 years
Wow, what a tough situation for you. My heart really goes out to you on the loss of your mother. I've been through that myself and it was the hardest thing I ever went through. On some level, you've also lost your father - and by that I mean you've lost the father you always had/knew. He's different in your eyes now. I agree that you should have your peace with him and talk to him, but I doubt that you'll ever have the same relationship with him again because you can't view him the same way anymore. But don't deny your child a grandfather. Our families are incredibly important to us, and while he may have disappointe you and your brother, he might be a fabulous grandfather. Good Luck.
CaterpillarGirl CaterpillarGirl 9 years
I went through similar circumstances, but my mom wasnt dying. My father had affairs and i later found out about it, but I really cant judge him because i dont know the "details" of what went on with my parents marriage. I dont want to know, all i know is that he was miserable and did the wrong thing, but found happiness in the end. My mother is better off without him and she is happy now. You need to talk with him, not confront him but talk. Tell him what you know, ask him to just tell you the truth and you will both feel better. You can tell him that you have lost respect for him, and that he can earn it back by being honest. You are both adults, and you arent going to ground him, or tell him to not see who he wants to see you dont have that right, but you do have the right to ask him to just fess up, and start over again. sometimes when a partner is dying, you go a little nuts. My real father died when i was mom had four daughters...she didnt cheat but she did go a little haywire for awhile (burned her wedding dress, tore up pictures, screamed alot).
diazy diazy 9 years
i have a similar story, It was my grandfather who fooled around 2 weeks before my grandmother past from lung cancer and the worst is it was one of her closest friends she was 14 years younger than him. a year later they got married i was the only one who didn't go (no one blamed me) but later i got over it when i realised my grandfather is just one of those men who need a woman to survive :) he past of cancer 2 years ago i went to say goodbye before he died im glad we were on good terms before he passed on. tel your father how you feel i'm sure he will understand but don't let it stand in the way of your relationship you already lost one parent just think how it would feel if he would die and you never made your peace? my mothers whole family almost split because of this
nikecold nikecold 9 years
Oh I0m so sorry for you I've been trough the same thing, and my dad never showed signs of loving my mom, even as a kid I always knew it. I understand you completely my mother had barely died a couple months when my dad found a new woman, one that he shows the respect he never showed my mother, one who he loves like he never loved my mother. He also denied it at first and the new woman is also in her 30s whilst my dad is also almost 60, I could tell you to talk to him, which you should, but keep in mind that talking won't change anything. He's done what he's done, and what he did was incredibly hurtful and disrespectful and the truth is no matter how much you talk to him the respect,admiration and even the love you had for him before will never come back. It will never be the same. I think the important thing in your case is wether he's been a good father or not, in that case I don't think your daughter's relationship with him will be affected. What he did is wrong, but if he's been a great father to you and your brother I'm sure he'll have love to give to your daughter. Its dissapointing and its sad that despite all of this I can't really find anything much to tell you, except I don't think you should cut all ties with him, he's your father after all. Just tell him how you feel and understand thet you can't fix things so either you accept him despite what he's done and you give your daughter a grandfather or cut him out of your life, I think you'll both have to agree to disagree. People do bad things it doesn't make them bad people. Your daughter deserves to have him be a part of her life after all she'll never meet your mom, and if she grows up to think less of him, then it will be her decision but if he's been a good father there's no indication that he'll not be a good grandfather. Talk to him, tell him how you feel I can't say it will change things but at least getting it all off your chest will make you feel better. Tell him to accept responsability for his actions, and to just say it, because you really need to hear it. I'm sorry this happened to you, like I said before I'm in the same situation, only I've never been close to my father so this has distanced us even more.
caryatid caryatid 9 years
good luck to you in finding a way of dealing this this messy situation. i'm in kind of the same boat (but not as bad as you) because my dad cheated on my mom, they ultimately got divorced, and he remarried the woman (his secretary..ew) the next year, all while denying that he cheated and that that was the reason they got divorced. it's hard to let something go when others just try to pretend it didn't happen - even when they have been confronted many times. you could try and talk it out again, but i know how frustrating that can be, so best of luck.
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
As far as his relationsip with your daughter I don't think his affair will make his relationship with his grandaughter any difference. I'm sure he can still be a great grandpa! I think you would do more harm to your daughter if you decided to remove him from her life! She deserves to know the great sides to her grandpa.
mrskrismendoza mrskrismendoza 9 years
Wow. That is so so horrible. I am sorry you are going through this. I wish I could help but I think that you have to make the decision on whether or not you want him in your daughter's life. Good luck to you. I hope things get better.
kurniakasih kurniakasih 9 years
I'm really sorry :hug: About your mom and about knowing how your father behaved. :hug: I think that it's up to you on how you want your daughter to be in you father's life, but just because he's not a great husband to your mother, or a not so good father for lying to you, it doesn't mean that he's not going to make a great grandfather to your daughter. As for the lying part, it's not quite your business if he's engaging in unsavory business/affair with this other person, and although it's not the right thing to do (lie), he'd probably try to not involve you guys (the kids) in his affair therefore he'd rather lie about it then blemishing his already blemished reputation. Plus, unfortunately, many people LIE especially when it comes to this, and he may want to 'protect' his reputation, or whatnot. Not honorable, but also not uncommon, and like I said before, it's up to you on what you decide to do, if you want him in your life, or in your daughter's life, etc. I hope you're going to feel better soon :hug:
hotstuff hotstuff 9 years
I agree with Berlin. I think you should say your peace and leave it at that. Let him live with the guilt of what he did, but life is too short to let this eat away at you. Let him know that you are not a fool and you have lost respect for him and then move on. I'm sure you two can still have a great relationship. Sooner or later he will be forced to realize what a huge mistake he made by doing this to your mother while she was dying. For now you only have one parent left so do your best to move on from this.
Berlin Berlin 9 years
Hey may be denying it as a way to cope with the guilt himself. It isn't as though he can face an argument or betrayal up front with the woman he shared his life with anymore. If he confronts the fact that he cheated on your mother after her passing, it will just cause pain. He may be pushing that down to move on with his life and not dwell on the horrible act he committed. He can no longer ask her for forgiveness, and must face daily what he did. That could be enough to send anyone into a depression. But as disrespectful as it was, he is at the age in his life where people don't come into his life too often that he may feel a connection with. I really don't feel that age should matter in this situation (I mean she isn't 20 so she could be really in love with him for him, not his money) and she may not even have known about your mother. Point is, he probably will never admit what he did because in his mind, it won't help anything. And if you want a relationship with him then just explain how you feel about her in your life and make sure that he respects that. And you can also look him in the eyes and tell him that you know what he did, you know he will continue to deny it and you don't want to discuss it anymore, but you just want him to know that you DO know about it, and how much it disappionted you and how much respect you lost for him, and end it there. And THAT will hit him hard....parent's hate disappointing their kids and it is more meaningful if you handle it that way then blowing up or causing an argument.
nicachica nicachica 9 years
Hugs to you too BeachyAthlete!
nicachica nicachica 9 years
Oh man...I'm so sorry. I really don't know what to say except I hope you're able to find some healing in due time. I really wish you the best. HUGS!
BeachyAthlete BeachyAthlete 9 years
I am so sorry you are in this situation. I am in a similar situation, except my mother is still alive. My parents were married for 25 years and never fought, and seemed perfectly happy. My father traveled regularly in Asia for work, but I never thought much of it -- until he started sleeping in my brother's room when he would get back from business trips (my brother was away at college). My mom would say it was because he was jet-lagged, and wasn't sleeping soundly. But soon, I came home to my mom crying every night, and she confessed to me that he had been having an affiar with a woman only a few years older than me. My dad is 61, and she is 32 now. They have been married (and my parents divorced) nearly 5 years now. I still feel a lack of respect for my father having done that to my family. I will never forgive him fully. Yes, he's still my dad, but he CHEATED on my MOM after 25 years of marriage. I feel like it's even worse because you have LOST your mom, and are trying to grieve over that, and you know what your dad is up to behind your back. I am so sorry you are going through this. Like I said, I am and have been going through the same thing for five years. Honestly, it's just ripped our family apart. I never spend holidays with my dad, and to be completely honest, we talk maybe once or twice a month if we're lucky, and it's very superficial at that. His affair ruined him being my "Dad" -- especially because he met this woman while on a business trip and my mom was completely trustworhty and in love with him -- and he BROKE her HEART. Anyway, I am sorry. I hope it gets easier for you than it has been for me. And to be truthful, it's FINE. I just dont' talk to my dad like I used to. He is a different person to me and will never be the "dad" he used to be before he tainted his status with his affair and marriage to a woman nearer to my age than his. Good luck...
chicaparati17 chicaparati17 9 years
I answered this question several days ago??? Why was my answer erased?
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