Teenage Problems/27 yr old daughter having affair with best friend's dad
(From the U.S. here, so be gentle... yes, I know this says teenage problems, but your profile says you're a counsellor, so may as well give this a shot).
My 27 yr old daughter has recently admitted to me she's been cheating on her fiance with her best friend's dad, and she's thinking about ditching her fiance and marrying her best friend's dad. She admitted she was discreet about the affair.
I am horrified with the whole thing; it makes me feel sickened and her dad's furious, especially as he considers her fiance Steve to be a good friend and a great potential son-in-law (Steve runs his own car salvage business and him and my husband often socialise together; they're great friends).
I asked her why she did and she said it felt fun, exciting and took her mind away from her wedding in 2 years time - she said she loved her fiance but the sex wasn't passionate, but I doubt her boyfriend would agree, and that sex with her best friend's dad brought out the wild side in her.
I told her fiance, and he was incredibly forgiving; he said that he's sure it was lust, not love, and that it was so out-of-character for her, and that he wants to forgive her and work it through with her.
She's an adult so I can't stop her, but I feel really upset by the whole thing.
Her friend doesn't know either (as far as I'm aware) and I worry if I tell her (if my daughter doesn't) she won't believe me and accuse me of trying to wreck her friendship.
If my daughter did marry her best friend's dad, wouldn't that make her the stepmum of her best friend, and how would that affect relationships within her best friend's family?
It's made even worse by the fact our family knows her best friend's family and we've socialised with them a lot... Christmas, barbecues, the whole nine yards.
What problems could happen as a result of this scenario, and what can of worms has been opened here?
I just need some advice on how to contain this situation; there's a lot of issues involved here.
Please help me, I'd really appreciate it.
Hi there Julie,
Firstly, let me appologize for not getting back to you sooner. My full time job has been a bit manic so I have not been able to get near a computer to give you a proper answer, so I do apologize and do not normally take this amount of time to respond.
It is understandable that you and your husband are shocked, disappointed and confused about the situation that your family has found itself in. Your daughter has seemingly thrown away an opportunity of happiness with someone that everyone liked to be with someone else who although is known and liked by the family, is older than her and has children of his own her age. Normally, people who have sex with other people when they are on the verge of getting married do so out of knee-jerk reaction to a feeling that they are going to lose their independence and freedom after marriage. It is seen as an attempt to almost live an exciting life to make up for last time before they commit the rest of their life to a marriage and settle down. In some cases, although not condoned, it could be understandable, especially if the person is younger and has not had the opportunity to have other relationships previous to the one that will result in marriage. In your daughter's case however, there seems to be something more to it than this as she is not just having sex with this guy but talking about an intention to marry him; knowing that she already has an understanding, forgiving and suitable fiance waiting for her.
Her fiance, although forgiving, must be finding this whole thing difficult to deal with and it says a lot about the nature of his character that he can forgive your daughter so readily and still wants to make a go of it. I do agree with him that this relationship with your daughter and this guy may not be the result of love but maybe confused friendship; but your daughter is the only one who can make this judgement call. The fact that she is still pursuing the relationship with this guy knowing that it is hurting her fiance appears to flag up warning up signs that perhaps she is not happy in her current relationship with her fiance and she is looking to make excuses to end it without having to actually come out and say it because she does not want to have to face the family.
The fact that you know this guy and have known him for some time complicates things further and with his daughter being your daughter's friends makes this whole thing more complex and difficult to deal with. Your daughter is an adult and can make her own choices (and will# but if she is falling blindly in to this relationship out of fear or anxiety to avoid her up-coming wedding then she is going to hurt a lot of people. Either way, she needs to face her fiance and have a discussion with him about what she wants to do and deal with the fall out herself. At the minute, you and your family are trying to paper over all of the cracks to save a relationship that she does not want saving. The first thing that needs to happen is that she needs to either knock this other relationship on the head and focus on her marriage or end things with her fiance and then deal with the fall out of potentially marrying someone that comes with its own issues.
As much as you like her fiance, for whatever reasons, she is having problems with him that they need to address as a couple and as potential husband and wife. She cannot just jump from one relationship to another, hurting partners, families and friends and expecting everyone to just deal with it. She is an adult and she has to deal with her own mess; having to face up to her own problems. All you and her husband can do is talk to her about the impact that she is having on everyone else, not least her fiance and the family and for you both to present a united front about forcing her to deal with this. Shouting at her and telling her that you disagree with her choice will only mean that she will shut off listening and retreat, leaving the problem to get bigger and worse.
I know it will be difficult but with the other family, it is probably best to keep some distance between the two families until things settle down and keep conversation to everyday topics rather than what is happening with your daughter and her friend's father. Similarly, whenever your daughter tries to bring it up with you, explain that you have made your position clear and this is something that she needs to sort out herself. She has two years to wait until she gets married but is already, seemingly, using the wedding as an excuse to sabotage it before it has began. It is not fair on your family or her fiance that she is doing this and you all have a right to be angry but the only person she will listen to at the moment is herself and anything said to her that causes her to disagree with what she believes to be true will only fall on deaf ears.
She is at risk of losing her friends, her family and her fiance and still seems oblivious to the advice that people are trying to give her. The only thing that you, as her parents, can do is attempt to talk to your daughter's friend's dad in private and find out whether or not this is a long term relationship with a future or whether or not it is something that has just started that is short lived. If he genuinely loves your daughter and believes there is a connection and vice versa then you can only really ask that they be discreet with it and mindful of the people that are also involved. If there is some sense of doubt in this guy's mind about the urgency around the new relationship, then maybe it could be that he be persuaded to speak directly to your daughter with the intention of ending the relationship #even if he has to use an excuse# to put things right.
What has happened will have, undoubtedly, caused tension and potential friction with this girl's family that will not disappear straight away or for as long as your daughter wants to be in a relationship with him. You and your husband need to work out whether or not you can overlook what has happened for the sake of your friendship to keep things civil #important, if this does become a long term relationship for your daughter#, or whether or not you need to keep some distance until things settle down.
Throughout all of this it is important that you are calm but honest with your daughter about your disapproval but that you do not patronize her or be forceful with your opinion. There are two key people who can make or break this new relationship and that is her new partner and her fiance. Both of them yield the influence to be able to make her see that there is a human cost to her decisions and it might even be a good idea for them both to speak to her together so that she cannot miscommunicate her feelings. If they both speak to her in the same room at the same time, she has no choice but to confront her past and work out her future and to face the intensity of emotion that will come with whatever decision she makes. It does not guarantee that she will change her mind but it should leave everyone with a clearer understanding of what is going to happen in the future and whether or not the wedding to her fiance in two years time will actually go on. If she does choose to stay with this older guy and plans to marry him, there is little that you can do but offer your disapproval and refuse to give your blessing for your own personal reasons.
Ultimately, her best friend will have to find out at some point and this could be the tipping point that helps to highlight how serious the relationship is because your daughter is going to have to convince her friend that the relationship with her dad is something serious and not just something that has started as a result of not wanting to marry someone else.
Without knowing the exact nature of the problems that your daughter is having with her fiance, it is not possible to offer solutions but if it is just around the fact that she is bored with sex, there are things that could be done by her fiance to help spice things up and keep their relationship interesting without the need for her to seek excitement anywhere else. From what you have said however, she is using this as an excuse and it has given her a reason for wanting to break away other than be honest and just say that maybe, she does not love her fiance enough to marry him #but is too afraid to admit this#.
Your daughter cannot just throw her plans with her fiance away, leave him waiting and hoping she would come back for her to marry someone else without the courtesy of telling him why. This is not fair on him and he is obviously besotted enough to want to wait for her to change her mind but this may be naive on his part because she may never do it. Regardless of what happens with your daughter and her fiance, if your family genuinely gets on well with him, the relationship that you have with him does not have to change. I know that this guy is your potential son-in-law and it must be heartbreaking to think that he may never be part of the family through marriage but things do not have to change that much as he will know that you have done everything that you can do to attempt to help your daughter make a sensible decision.
It is a difficult situation to be in and one that I do not envy but your daughter seems to be on a downward spiral that may result in her losing everything. For whatever reasons that she may have for not wanting to marry her fiance, running away in to the arms of someone else that is close to the family is not going to face nor solve those problems. If your daughter has done this to genuinely seek happiness for herself, then she at least needs to face the reality of the fact that she may be ruining someone else's and face up to her partner. In the meantime, you and your family are caught between loyalties to your friends and trying to help your daughter come to the right decision, which again, is not an easy thing to balance. All you can do is advise, encourage and support your daughter whilst making clear your unhappiness at the situation. If this is a phase that she is going through (a need to be 'wild and free'), then it is one that she will come out of naturally but only once she has lost everything and everyone dear to her and this will be a shock in to itself.
A lot of what you and your family will need to do is to smile through gritted teeth for the next couple of months as things begin to change dramatically for your daughter. Things are not going to be easy for her but it is through learning these lessons that she learns the values of friendship and love and hopefully, how to look beyond the shorter term in the future. She may want your support when things start going downhill and as much as you are her family and love her, remember that anything that happens regarding her relationships is a result of her and her partner and so, is in part, her own doing. All you can do is continue to do what you have been doing so far and remain strong, discreet and hopeful that things will have a positive outcome.
I hope that helps.