Dad Is Deployed; Mom Is Having an Affair

Ms. Vicki

Dear Ms. Vicki,

I’m a 20-year-old college student. My father is deployed to Afghanistan. Over the holidays, I walked into our house and found my mother in the arms of another man with her lips locked on his.

You would think my mother and this man would have been in shock and would try to get themselves together. Instead, they acted very normal as if they had every right to continue their actions.

Now, my mother didn’t act like I was intruding, she just acted like this man was my dad or her husband. It was the worst day of my life.

My mother is telling me this is none of my business because it’s her home and not mine. She said that I’m a visitor from college, that she’s the mother and I’m the child, and that I can’t tell her what to do.

How in the "H" can she say it’s none of my business? It is my business because she is my mother and married to my father who is deployed. I’m supposed to just let her carry on an affair with another man?

I have a teenage sister and brother who still live at home. I’m afraid to ask them if they know anything about this affair. The day I discovered my mom was cheating on my dad, they were both spending the night with friends.

Should I demand answers from my mother? Should I tell her to stop cheating on my dad? What about this man, should I confront him? I know where he lives and what unit he is in. Do you think I should ask my brother and sister if they know anything?

Ms. Vicki, I can’t concentrate at all this semester because this has me stressed out. Every time I talk to my dad, I feel like I’m lying to him and keeping something from him that he should know. I would really appreciate it if you would write me back and give me some answers.

Sincerely, College Overload

Dear Overload,

My heart really goes out to you. I regret that you walked into your home and found your mother in the arms of another man. It’s something that no child deserves to find out.

I know this is a very difficult time for you. There is a myth that says older children are not affected by deployments, but this is not true. Older children can have a difficult time coping with a deployed parent. Your feelings are normal.

It’s also normal for you to have so many questions. However, you have to understand that you may never get all of the answers you want from your mother. Your mother is wrong for what she is doing but, in her defense, she doesn’t have to give you any answers.

No matter what answers she gives you, it wouldn’t be enough to satisfy you anyway. This situation is definitely not fair to your father. It’s not fair to you or your siblings. But you absolutely can’t mention this to your father.

Something like this would devastate him. I mean, I think he has a right to know, but you can’t throw this on him right now. He has to be on his best game at all times for his protection and for everyone around him, so don’t mention it to him.

I don’t think you should question your siblings either. I just don’t think you should pull them into something like this. Perhaps if your maternal grandparents are close to your mother or if you have a close maternal aunt or uncle who could speak to your mother, then I would confide in them for help and support.

However, if they are not close with your mother, then it won’t do any good to solicit their help. I’m not saying that you should have to carry this burden of knowledge alone, but I think you have to say there is nothing you can do about your mother’s decision at this time.

Most colleges have counseling support available for students. I think you should visit them and talk about the stress of this semester and that you recently discovered your mother is having an affair. This may help you put some things in perspective and decrease any feelings of responsibility and guilt that you may have.

I wish you all the best and please stay in touch during your semester to let me know how you are doing.

Sincerely, Ms. Vicki

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