Affairs can devastate a marriage in so many different ways. For some, they are a non sequitur-- something no one can come back from. In other relationships they are a speed bump that the couple feels like they can navigate. And then there are the situations that are a little bit of both.
One mother and wife is not only grappling with the fact that her husband cheated on her, but is being asked to let him help the other woman in her final moments.
The woman began explaining on Reddit she has always been the primary breadwinner in the family because of her husband's visual impairment.
The two of them have been together for 12 years and have two kids.
"I've never minded being the breadwinner or making [do] on less," she says. "He's been an amazing father from day one and takes care of the kids so I can work. I honestly thought we had the perfect relationship."
About eight months ago, she started noticing the "obvious" signs of an affair, which she let go on because it was too painful to confront.
"Well, I finally broke down and confronted him and he confessed everything," she said. "Just as I'd suspected, he'd been seeing the other woman for about a year. What I didn't expect was that she's 68 years old and has advanced cancer. Her doctors have said she's living on borrowed time. I wasn't prepared for this. I asked if he'd been sexual with her and he said yes. I'm devastated. He says he still wants to be with me and our family and that a lot of what he talks about with his 'other woman' is me and the kids."
Things took an unexpected turn when she learned why her husband was having an affair.
"I was expecting that he was just being completely selfish, but he then told me that this all started because she has money and promised to put him in her will," she explained. "He broke down crying and told me he's felt like such a failure because he's never been able to provide for our family the way he's wanted to, and this would be enough to pay for the kids college."
Now the mom is just utterly confused and devastated.
"I honestly still love him and don't want to break up the kids home," she admitted. "I'm willing to go to counselling, but I can't deal with him seeing her again. He said they haven't been sexual in a long time since she was placed in palliative care, but he doesn't want to abandon her now because she has no one else in her life (her only son died in a car accident 18 years ago) and he doesn't want her to die alone. Is this relationship worth saving? Should I put my feelings on the backburner until his mistress passes so he doesn't resent me for it?"
Redditors were all over the place with their advice because of the complicated situation.
"Normally, this calls for an ultimatum," wrote one reader. "Leaving someone alone during their dying days really sucks, but she was probably manipulative. But again, if I had no family and knew I would die in a year or so I might be desperate for someone to be with me at the end because dying is scary. I think he needs to tell his mistress that you know about the affair and are obviously very hurt and he may not be able to be around. I only suggest that because she is terminal and alone."
Others thought she should set firm boundaries right now if she has a hope of saving their marriage.
"Consider the aftermath of her death," counseled another. "It sounds like he is emotionally involved. How much are you going to resent him when as you are sighing a breath of relief that it's over, he's moved on to grieving and expects emotional support through that? I think you need to get in to a therapist together immediately. You already have to deal with the emotional aftermath of his cheating, don't green light a compounding factor. You have your emotions to deal with, and he will have his. If he is serious that he does want to stay and make your marriage work, right now is when he needs to focus on that. It is so incredibly unfair for him to ask you to place your emotional turmoil on the back burner because he's busy with someone else he f----ed around with right now, but he'll get to you when he needs a shoulder to cry on when she dies."
While a few thought the whole scenario was a flat-out lie, others thought it is were real, it's a poor excuse for infidelity.
"Your husband using his disability as an excuse to go out and have an affair with a dying woman for the possibility of money is [expletive] the most disgusting thing," one person wrote. "The levels of betrayal are many. After this woman passes are you going to be able to recover? Trust violated this badly needs counseling, time and a marriage overhaul. Only you know if it's worth the effort and pain. You say you don't want to break up the family. Didn't your husband realize he was was going to do that when he stepped out? Many couples divorce and go on to live fulfilling lives while the kids thrive."
This woman has a huge decision to make, and hopefully she'll seek counseling before jumping to a choice either way.
Photo: Getty Images