Dear Barb—All in the Family

Dear Barb:

My parents just separated because my dad was having an affair with my aunt (mom’s sister)!  I am devastated!  I thought my aunt and my dad got along well, but I never figured this would happen.  My mom is heartbroken and barely able to function.  Meanwhile my dad wants me to be happy for him, as he says my aunt is the person he should have married in the first place.  I love my aunt and we were always close, but I can’t even look at her now.  My cousin is as shocked as I am (aunt’s son).  How can people do things like this?  I don’t know how to process this; my whole world is upside down.  How can I ever trust my dad again?  Right now, I don’t want to see my dad or my aunt and I don’t know if I will ever want to see them again.  I think I need some help to get through this, do you have any suggestions on what I can do?  

Looking forward to your reply.  Thanks, Jodie.

Hello Jodie:

Thank you for your email.  I am so sorry this has happened to your family.  Everything you believed to be true has come into question.  Your dad betrayed not only your mother but you as well.  Your aunt also betrayed her family.  Life is not always black and white.  People do stupid and hurtful things.  However, remember that your father is still your father, and he will always be your father.  My advice would be to give yourself some time to heal.  Spend time with your mom.  It might be best not to discuss your feelings with her, as she is still trying to process what happened as well.  She was not only betrayed by your dad but also by her sister.  You both must find a way to manage your feelings of grief, anger, and loss.  Do not rush; take your time.  Time will help you to process and manage the pain.

However, if you are still feeling this way after a year, you may need to get some professional help, as would your mother.  All marriages are unique.  Your perspective of your parents’ marriage was from a daughter’s point of view.  What really went on in the marriage is only known by the two people involved, therefore you must let judgment go.  No doubt what your dad and your aunt did was cruel and hurtful, but their reasons may be complicated.  Although your view of your dad has undoubtedly changed, I hope in time you will be able to find some forgiveness for your dad, as forgiveness will also be healing for you.  Best of luck Jodie.

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