My father is having an affair in his seventies
Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles: My father is having an affair in his seventies
- An anonymous reader asked for advice over her 70-something father’s affair
- It happened while her mother was aboard caring for her her ill grandfather
- She says her mother is devastated but will wants to stay married as a divorce could bankrupt her
TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 52 and 54, draw on their 21 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems…
Q: My mother is 70. She has worked hard her whole life and emigrated to Australia with my father a few years ago. My grandfather has fallen ill and she’s coming back to the UK frequently to care for him.
Unfortunately, my dad used this as an opportunity to have an affair with his colleague and he got caught. It turns out he has been siphoning off more than £16,000 from their accounts and has used the money to rent a love nest for the past two years.
Mum is devastated but wants to stay married because getting divorced will financially devastate her, particularly with Australia’s no-fault divorce law. Dad is deciding whether he wants to leave permanently or stay with Mum. I want nothing to do with Dad and have avoided talking to him, but what can I do to support my mum through this roller coaster?
Q : My mother is 70. She has worked hard her whole life and emigrated to Australia with my father a few years ago. My grandfather has fallen ill and she’s coming back to the UK frequently to care for him (stock image)
STEPH SAYS: I’m so sorry to read about what you’re going through. Your letter has really weighed on my mind and I’ve given a great deal of thought to my answer. My heart goes out to you and I wish I could give you a hug.
I think you must first take a deep breath and make space for your own feelings. You’re going to have to be strong for your mum but before you do that you must find your own voice.
By which I mean you must own your feelings about this desperately sad situation. Find an independent person to talk to and rant and rave as much as you’d like. It’s OK to cry and be furious about the impact of your father’s infidelity on your life — as well as on your mother’s.
You are entitled to have your own perspective on this. It is an emotional betrayal of enormous magnitude and your wounds, not just your mother’s, will take time to heal. Please remember that you are not responsible for your father’s actions, nor can you do anything to influence his affection for this woman. I can tell by your letter that you desperately want to fix this but I’m sorry to say you cannot.
What you can do is support your mother. For not only is this a deep emotional betrayal, it’s also an economic one with huge implications. Sixteen thousand pounds is a lot of money.
Steph (pictured left) told the reader: ‘I think you must first take a deep breath and make space for your own feelings. You’re going to have to be strong for your mum but before you do that you must find your own voice’
What’s important to remember is that your father has taken the money secretly and with intent. You don’t accidentally rent a love nest, after all. So, I think you have to assume that, while your father is deliberating his next move, he is not thinking of your mother’s best interests. One has to assume he is working alone in his financial plans. So the one area you could help your mum, practically, is getting her financial ducks in a row.
I don’t know anything about the Australian system, so I cannot advise you on what your next move should be, but if it was me, I’d be looking to freeze any further bank activity with regards to any joint finances. Then she should engage some financial help and get legal advice about how to protect her stake in property or assets.
The other thing you can do to support her is to ease her burden in other areas. You say the affair started when your mother was back in England caring for her own father.
Could you step in now and help look after your grandfather in her place? Make a plan of all the things you’re going to do to try to make this a bit easier.
For now, I really believe it will help to come up with a plan of action as to how you’re going to get through this — together.
Dom says: What a terribly sad story. I’m so sorry to hear about what’s happening to your mum especially at such an age. You say she is 70, so I assume your father is a similar age and that they’ve been married for many decades. What’s happening must be a real shock for you.
Dom (pictured) urged the reader not to ostracise her father
I’m sorry to say, though, that I don’t think there’s a great deal you can do. I understand that you want to, but I’m not sure you can. Your parents’ relationship is theirs and theirs alone and I think it’s important you remember that you father has not been unfaithful to you.
You must be terribly hurt and I know it can be difficult to re-establish relationships with parents in this situation, but I urge you to do your best not to ostracise your father. Believe me when I say it won’t help. It is, of course, OK to let him know how disappointed you are in him and that his betrayal of your mother is painful for you, too.
Coming to terms with a father’s infidelity is very hard. You have my full sympathy and I do understand the turmoil that you are in right now. There’s nothing to do right now but support your mother and her decisions. What your mum will need over the coming months, and indeed years, is hand-holding and support and I’m sure that the knowledge you are there will be a great comfort to her.
What is happening to her is soul-destroying and I understand you must share her fear that she will be left high and dry. Divorce is never cheap for either party and it can, of course, be financially devastating.
I do hope it doesn’t come to that for your poor mother but, if they divorce, it will certainly mess up life. And I’m sorry to say that it may well have an impact on yours too. When one person leaves for another, they upset the apple cart financially for the whole family.
Whatever has been built up over a lifetime must be broken down — we can’t all afford two houses and two wives. It must be dreadful to be facing such devastation at 70. The key here is support, support, support. Listen, as much as you can and whenever your mum needs it. Be at the end of the phone at all times and, as much as possible, in the flesh.
This really is a heck of a sad tale. You have my sympathy and my boundless admiration for having been brave enough to write in and seek advice about how you can best support your mother. What a selfless woman. Your mother has been terribly unlucky with her husband but she is fortunate to have you as her daughter.
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