parent opinion

'I am the daughter of 'the other woman'. Dad's wife doesn't know about the affair, or me.'

This is a letter to the author of ‘A Letter to the woman who so desperately wants my husband’.

Dear Anonymous,

Your letter to ‘the other woman’ struck a chord with me in many ways. I sympathise with the utter hurt, betrayal and insecurity that it has left you. I can see the pain through your words and your tone. It is obviously quite raw and has created a sense of bitterness within you and I can totally comprehend why.

But can I tell you, as someone with my own experience within this world of affairs, there is never one person that is to blame. Not for the decision to have the affair, not for the decision to continue it for however long it lasted, not for its end and most definitely not for the ramifications of it all afterwards.

Blaming this woman won’t help you, it isn’t fair, and it isn’t an honest assessment of what has happened. How do I know? Because I am the daughter of ‘the other woman’. Not the one involved here but of another affair. One that happened decades ago. One that lasted around seven years. One which resulted in me.

I have never understood my mum’s decisions to become involved in a relationship with a married man. She had her own life experiences and lived her own injustices (as we all do). And as the majority of us discover, they can often be the cause for making decisions that aren’t really the best, just as these did, in part, with her.

"I have never understood my mum’s decisions to become involved in a relationship with a married man." Image supplied.

This is not a justification for her decisions (for the record I don’t agree with affairs), but it was significant in shaping my mum’s thinking and outlook on relationships, especially when it came to acceptance, rejection and what a family is.

The fact is, like all things in life, especially affairs, they are complex. Summing it up by shaming the ‘other woman’ as the cause of all that transpired just isn’t the reality of these events and in the end, it will just cause you more pain. It stops you from dealing with what really happened; the fact that the man you loved disrespected you and needs to be held accountable.

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The truth is, just like your husband, my father made a conscious decision to cheat on his wife. My father was unfaithful with my mother, not just once but many times, for nearly a decade. He was always adamant he loved his wife – before, during and after the relationship took place and didn’t want his marriage to end. But he didn’t stop having a relationship with my mother - he saw her regularly, he took her to his family beach house, he gave her gifts and he decided to have a child with her, me.

Their relationship was significant, it was meaningful, it wasn’t “exclusive”, no (it also wasn’t exclusive with his wife). But it wasn’t just “attention” it was affection and it was very, very real. Even after I was born, he continued his relationship with my mother and began a fatherly one with me. At the same time his wife had his other baby, a son, merely weeks younger than me at his house where he would return afterward.

"Their relationship was significant, it was meaningful, it wasn’t 'exclusive'." Image supplied.

Once my mother moved away and the relationship ended, he continued to call and send cards and bits of money for birthdays (just enough to not raise any suspicion). He did it in secret and raised his son with his wife while my mum raised me an hour and a half away.

He never told anyone of his daughter or his ‘other woman’, not a soul. His wife continued living the faithful, loving and honest relationship she believed she was having with her husband and my half-brother grew looking up to him and respecting him and the relationship he had with his mother. They both had an image of him, similar to one you used to describe your husband - “honourable, kind, generous, cultured, intelligent and loving".

But an honourable man, no matter what situation they are in, never cheats on his wife. No generous and loving man who loves his wife and family and who respects it would have a relationship with another woman while still married to you. This is nothing to do with her and I am sorry to say, this is everything to do with him.

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What happens between your husband and this woman you will never truly know. The truth is, some men are great at lying in situations like this, they can do it convincingly and for a lifetime. In my case, my father did it so well that I think he even believed parts of it.

"What happens between your husband and this woman you will never truly know." Image supplied.

Just last year, my father turned away my request to meet him anonymously. He said hurtful things that were unwarranted to make me stop asking and he did this all to protect his wife and son from the truth of his own actions. When backed into corner, one where their own secrets threaten their life, their reputation, their image, things will be said and done that are far from honest and far from honourable, even if they protest that they are.

I don’t know you or your husband, I don’t know the woman who had a relationship with him, but I do know the pain affairs cause for all those involved. I know that it is easy to blame ‘the other woman’ in these cases. I get it, it is much easier to do that than really look deeper within the situation and analyse the complex reality of it all.

Your husband may well and truly love you, adore you, care for you and your family. But I am sorry to tell you, from my own experience, that this doesn’t always mean he is honourable, that he didn’t make advances, that he didn’t consent to another relationship, that he didn’t feel things for someone else and that he didn’t lie or that he still isn’t.

Your husband, like my dad, was selfish. Your husband, like my dad, showed you and your family, his own children, the biggest lack of respect that can possibly be displayed. I hope you can respect yourself and your family enough to be brave and stop blaming this 'other woman' for it all.

It takes two to have an affair but only you can deal with the fall out and move on from this in a healthy way.

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