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Kate's husband cheated on her. 5 years later, her son did the same thing to his partner.

For Australian writer and journalist Kate Legge, infidelity made its way into her marriage in some of the most painful of circumstances. Her husband had cheated on her for decades, one of the affairs even involving Kate's close friend. 

It ultimately resulted in the breakdown of their relationship. Four years after that initial discovery, Kate and her husband decided to carve out lives separate from one another.

A year after the split, Kate was finding her new normal. She was in a new relationship, working towards keeping things amicable with her ex-husband and had just become a grandmother to her son's new baby. 

Then at 3am she received a phone call from her daughter-in-law that left her "horrified".

"She had just found out that he [Kate's son] had been cheating, and she was devastated," Kate said about her daughter-in-law on Mamamia's No Filter.

"Her mother was away at the time and so it was my role to fly there and be with her and look after her. I was absolutely devastated. Angry, distressed and upset."

Kate and her daughter-in-law had always been close. Plus, Kate had been in her daughter-in-law's shoes before and knew what it felt like to be the one cheated on. 

"I immediately sided with her," Kate said. 

"I had to be supportive of both of them. People in her immediate family were furious at my son, as I was too. But I also knew that fury wasn't going to be useful emotion. And it was a waste of time because it had already happened."

The next few days and weeks felt like a blur. Kate was there to support her daughter-in-law and assist with the newborn child, while also trying to give space for her daughter-in-law's own mum to be the emotional support pillar.

"My role was to comfort and soothe, and take my grandson out for long walks and keep the kitchen full of food and look after their emotional welfare," Kate explained.

"It takes years and years and years [to recover from infidelity]. She's certainly not there yet, and she hasn't really forgiven [him] and I don't expect her to. It's just a passage of time. But there was conflict between everyone of course."

It was a position Kate was overly familiar with, as she had gone to her own mother-in-law in need of comfort after unearthing her husband's affairs. 

"I had gone to her in tears and was desperate for her to disown him, and she didn't. She sat there very stoic. She listened to me. While she loved me, she also loved her son and [shared] that it [being cheated on] had happened to her too. She felt I could get through it."

Fast forward to the present, Kate felt the same for her daughter-in-law and son — that they could get through the infidelity and continue on with their relationship.

But unfortunately, it didn't work out that way.

"I couldn't force them back to together, that had to be something they either managed themselves or didn't," she said on No Filter

"And they didn't [stay together]. That's a great sadness to me. I love them both very much and I've just had to be that bridge between them."

Listen to Kate's story in this subscriber-exclusive episode of No Filter. Post continues below.


As for how the whole situation impacted Kate's own relationship with her son... it was complex.

"We didn't talk for a little while. I encouraged him to try and make it work but it wasn't possible," she said, adding that despite the frustration over what he had done, she knew she had to be there for him too.

Later down the track, she and her son were speaking about infidelity more broadly, and Kate asked him whether he believed the fact his dad had been unfaithful to his mum had impacted him in some way. His answer stuck with her.

"He felt our coming apart and then learning about why [the marriage had ended] had influenced his behaviour [to cheat]," Kate explained. "But as far as I'm aware there's been no infidelity since then on my son's part."

For Kate, she said that despite the similar path her son had taken to his dad, she didn't get angry at her ex-husband. On the contrary, they aimed to come together even more for the sake of what was going on in their son's life. And for their new grandchild too.

"We had to put on our big people pants and had to get in there and be the best people we could."

Nowadays, Kate and her ex-husband are both in separate, happy relationships. They still communicate regularly, get along well and have managed to come out the other side of all the hurt. Kate says that ultimately comes down to time.

Despite it all, the couple never ended up divorcing.

"We still are married. We couldn't bother getting divorced, we're both with people who both don't seem to mind that," she said.

"We had to stick together. You've got to face these things, deal with them and make the best you can. Once we had other relationships and you let go of the sense of betrayal, and with time, that repaired and fostered a new [platonic] relationship. There are so many things apart from our children and our family that keep us together. He is my best friend. He really is."

Infidelity and Other Affairs by Kate Legge, published by Thames & Hudson Australia, $34.99, available now.

Feature Image: Supplied.

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