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Dear Mary: My son wants to leave his wife after a brief affair with colleague


Illustration: Tom Halliday

Illustration: Tom Halliday

Illustration: Tom Halliday

My son has been married for nearly 10 years and has young children. He is having an affair with a co-worker. It just started two months ago. He said he fell out of love with our daughter-in-law.

We have been talking to both our daughter-in-law and our son. We were trying to get them to go to therapy but he says no. He wants to move in with my husband and I.

The girl he is involved with is married with a child. She evidently has had other affairs and my son isn't sure she will leave her husband.

I am so hurt and upset for our daughter-in-law and our grandchildren, who are still very young. My son just never gave his wife a chance to try and work things out. Please help because I don't know what to do.

Mary replies: Your son has been very quick to decide that his marriage is over. He has been having an affair for only two months - and so it is still in its very early, heady stages. It must be particularly exciting for him as she is a co-worker, so therefore every day going into the office has an extra buzz for him.

He may well have been equally smitten with his wife when he began dating her, but then everyday living and raising children will have taken over. Sleepless nights, grocery shopping, putting out the trash, supervising homework and everything else that is part and parcel of family life tend to take the edge off of the initial 'honeymoon' phase of any marriage.

However, he very much owes it to his wife and his children to at least try relationship counselling because if his marriage is truly over, he will need to be able to say that he tried everything before ending it.

He wants to move back home with you, therefore forcing you to take sides. I think this is very unfair to you. It would be different if his wife was the one having the affair and was calling the shots, but this is not the case.

Why should you take him back, therefore signalling to her that you are condoning his actions?

He is a big boy now, with responsibilities, and the idea that he can leave all that behind and come back to you is preposterous.

Does he also expect you to condone his affair and perhaps entertain the other married woman in your home as well?

Of course you and your husband love your son and want to do the best for him. He must know how upset you and your husband are about all of this. Tell him that naturally you are always there for him when he wants to talk things over, and you will have advice if and when he wants to hear it.

Then tell him that anything he does regarding moving out and moving on will have to be done without any help from you. Say that you feel you owe it to your grandchildren, and their mother, to do what you feel is right, and for you what is right is not taking him back into your home, which would be giving him an easy way out.

The woman with whom he is having an affair obviously has a troubled history. Chances are she will not leave her own security, and she may even be a little startled by your son's desire to leave his wife and children for her so soon into the affair. It is much easier for her when her affair is married also, because there is usually not a big chance that the man will leave his wife and children. So be prepared for things to move slightly differently to the way that your son is envisaging.

Also the current Covid-19 pandemic will probably stop everything for the moment - he may even be working from home - but you will have to be ready with your answer when movement is more freely allowed.

Your son will have to understand that expecting you to take him back into the family home is beyond what you are prepared to do, because if you do, the only person that would be happy would be your son, and you and your husband deserve more than that.


You can contact Mary O'Conor anonymously by visiting www.dearmary.ie or email her at dearmary@independent.ie Alternatively, or write to Mary O'Conor, c/o 27-32 Talbot St, Dublin 1. All correspondence will be treated in confidence.

Mary O'Conor regrets that she is unable to answer any questions privately

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