I am beyond blown. My husband decides to let me know last night that he has been having a two-year affair with a co-worker. I am in a daze right now. He is also begging me to still go to Thanksgiving dinner with his family because his mom has been dealing with major health issues and this would be too much for her. I adore his mother and she is honestly dealing with some major health issues, but I just think he is trying to “save face.” I just want to hide under my comforter and cry. What do you think? —Anonymous
Before I say anything else, I am sorry. I am sorry this happened to you. I’m sorry you got blindsided with this right before the holidays. I am sorry your husband is a sorry man.
But hold up. Your husband just did the emotional equivalent of kicking you in the chest and has you walking around “in a daze,” and you’re trying to be a good wife, concerned about him and his mama? Who is worried about you, boo? I’m asking: You OK, sis?
I’m appalled that your husband would spring this on you the week of Thanksgiving. And I wonder why now, since he hadn’t said anything all this time. What’s the catalyst for this horrific timing? Not that there’s ever really a “right” time to drop this information on a spouse, but doing it right before he wants you to show up and play nice for his family certainly isn’t it.
Why didn’t he wait until after Thanksgiving? Or after the holidays altogether? Or, since he’s so worried about how this news will affect his very sick mother, who sounds as if she might go any day, until after she passes?
I’m going to guess that someone found out about his affair and gave him a “you tell your wife or I will” ultimatum. What I know is, he didn’t confess out of guilt. Because any man with half a brain—or at least one who wants to make his marriage work—knows that if his wife finds out he’s cheating, he’s supposed to fall on his sword. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry … ” is all he’s supposed to say, not, “Yeah, so I know I just destroyed our marriage, but could you pull yourself together for my mom’s sake?” You’re his wife and all you want to do is cry. His concern isn’t about what he’s done to you but what your absence at Thanksgiving will do to his mama. Like I said: sorry.
Let’s be clear: Your missing dinner isn’t going to send his mama to the great beyond. But perhaps finding out that part of her legacy is having a sorry man for a son could. That, however, is between that man and his mama. The effect and appearance of him showing up to Thanksgiving sans wife was something he should have thought about while he was carrying on with his co-worker and, later on, when he was telling you about it. If he was so concerned about what his mother thought, perhaps he should have invested more energy in living in a way that would make her—and his wife—proud.
Another note of clarity: I assume the “this” he refers to as being too much for his mama is knowledge of the affair or an indication that there’s a serious problem in the marriage. If that’s the case, remember that this marriage is between the two of you. Whether or not you go to dinner, or whether or not you stay with your husband, isn’t his mother’s business. If he doesn’t want his mother to be devastated by “this,” I suggest that he lie to her about why you aren’t there. He should be a great liar, since he’s been doing it consistently for the last two years. If and when you talk to his mother, you can cover for him or not. Again, your choice.
Right now you should do whatever it is you feel like doing. You want to get up and go see his mother because you adore her? Do it. And if you just don’t feel like it, well, then, don’t. Your husband has spent the last two years acting selfishly, and while it’s nice that after all this time he’s decided to come clean, you don’t owe him—or his mom—any favors.
Here’s an option that you may not have considered: Instead of going with him or staying home to lick your wounds, go be with your people. Let your family rally around you and love on you. You might want to deal with this alone, but you’ll get through it better with a strong support system. Since you genuinely care for his mother, you can spend some time with her after you have taken care of yourself.
Demetria L. Lucas is a contributing editor at The Root, a life coach and the author of Don’t Waste Your Pretty: The Go-to Guide for Making Smarter Decisions in Life & Love as well as A Belle in Brooklyn: The Go-to Girl for Advice on Living Your Best Single Life. She answers your dating and relationship questions on The Root each week. Feel free to ask anything at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously in Ask Demetria: “I’m a Married Mom and I Feel Like I Missed My Sexual Prime: What Should I Do?”