Dear Wendy: “I Think My Dad Is Cheating On My Mom”

My parents have been married for 26 years and have several kids together, but I’m wondering if my dad might be cheating on my mom. He’s always been a big time workaholic. Growing up, he was gone all the time. He recently started his own business and got a second cell phone, for what, I can’t figure out. He’s kind of a private person, so if he were seeing another woman, I’m positive he could keep it from the rest of the family easily. He’s in charge of all the finances, so it would be pretty easy to hide any telling expenses. He’s always going out of town and comes and goes at weird hours. Also, my mom is very pushy, she’s always nagging away at my dad. Honestly, if he were stepping out on her I don’t think I’d blame him. She’s not my favorite parent, for sure. Since he pays for her cushy lifestyle so she doesn’t have to work and she’s constantly finding faults with him, it wouldn’t be a stretch if he were pushed to do this. She’s gained a lot of weight recently, and that’s really changed her self image. She’s always buying him books on how to be a more romantic and sensitive husband, Christian propaganda, etc. My dad suffered a recent midlife crisis and has made some really dramatic changes. Also, my parents have hinted at some rocky times in their marriage lately and my mom claims to be depressed but she promised my dad she wouldn’t tell me and my siblings why (this seems to be the biggest indicator). If there were a situation like this going on, NO ONE would know because my parents are obsessed with appearances and looking like the perfect happy family. As far as I know he hasn’t cheated on her before … but it could have happened. Should I ask my parents what’s going on? — Concerned Daughter

You don’t say how old you are or whether you still live at home, but assuming you are well-loved and cared for, then what’s going on in your parents’ relationship is completely between them and really none of your business. Since you aren’t even sure your father is having an affair, I’m going to assume that even if you are underage and still living at home, any possible extra-marital activity on either of your parents’ part is not detrimentally affecting your well-being. So no, I absolutely do not suggest you ask your parents what’s going on, but I would advise that you talk to a therapist, a school counselor, or a trusted mentor or friend about some of the issues you have with your mom and dad and why you’re so wrapped up in the nuances of their relationship. Your obsession is neither helpful nor healthy and that baggage you’re carrying is only going to get heavier the longer you go without unpacking some of it.

I am 23 and I have been with my 26 year-old boyfriend for about 2.5 years. Of course no relationship or person is perfect but we are very compatible and have always had what we consider a happy, stable and loving relationship. We live together, we have two dogs together, my family loves him, his family loves me and we plan to get married but aren’t in a rush. Recently, one night we got really drunk together and my phone wasn’t working and I had him send some texts to my best friend. I guess as the night went on my boyfriend sent some texts to her that weren’t graphic but you would definitely get the impression that he was coming on to her. She told me a couple days later and I was very upset. He said he doesn’t remember that and whatever he did say he was sure was taken out of context, not that I see how that is possible. I didn’t know how to react really so I just told him how I felt and that if he ever did it again I was gone. Should I have done more? Should I have left him? — Text Out Of Context?

Something’s a little off about this story and I wonder if you aren’t leaving out some important details here. If there’s a history of distrust between you and your boyfriend, which you don’t mention, or if he’s ever made passes at your best friend in front of you or made inappropriate comments about her or some other woman, I’d have a much easier time understanding why you’d be upset now. But if this is the first potential red flag that’s arisen, I think you’re overreacting. I mean, let’s not forget: you asked him to text your friend — it’s not something he was doing behind your back and trying to hide from you. Is it possible your best friend misinterpreted your boyfriend’s texts to her? Is there any chance she’s a little jealous of your “happy, stable and loving relationship” and trying to sabotage it, consciously or unconsciously? I know that isn’t something we want to imagine about our BFF, but neither is believing that your boyfriend would come on to her.

I guess I’m wondering why you’re finding it easier to believe your friend over your boyfriend. Did you actually see the texts? If not, then it seems obvious you’ve got some trust issues with your boyfriend. Whether those issues are the result of inappropriate behavior from your boyfriend in the past, or what Tiger Woods would call “transgressions,” or if you’re simply an insecure person, only you can answer. If it’s the former, and your boyfriend has proven to be untrustworthy in the past, I wouldn’t even give him one more chance. But if coming on to your best friend is completely out of character for your boyfriend and something that came out of left field, I’d chalk it up to a drunken, late-night misunderstanding or misinterpretation. I’d also keep an eye on your best friend for any jealousy and potential sabotaging of your happiness in the future.

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