Good chat yesterday. If you missed it, there was some amusing talk about why short women date tall men. Apparently, that's a thing.
I also thought we did well with yesterday's letter, which, yes, was written by a woman. The letter writer wound up responding to the comments at the end of the night, so if you have time, look back to see what she said.
Today's letter is angry and sad. Let's help.
Q: Dear Meredith,
I recently discovered that my wife is (or was at least) having an affair. I had suspected something for a while though I never confronted her. Then I happened upon some cards and letters that make it undeniable. I only glanced at one or two cards and got the idea. I didn't want to know the rest.
If we were child and mortgage free, I would have had my things packed before she got home. But we have a beautiful three-year-old boy who is the center of my life. Unfortunately, if I confront her about this, there is a very real possibility that I will lose my son. My dad left home when I was about that age, and we did the weekend thing for a while, but it's not the same. I don't think it's possible to parent a child from another house.
I've kept this to myself in the 12 hours or so since I found the cards. But I don't know what to do. The marriage was essentially over anyway, so frankly I'm not that surprised. I have wanted to find someone else myself, but decided it wasn't worth risking separation from my son.
-- DJ, Burlington
DJ, first of all, so sorry. Finding those cards must have been … well … awful, despite the fact that they confirmed your suspicions.
You say your marriage was over before you found the notes -- but you don't tell us why. Some couples have an incredibly difficult time transitioning from lovers-without-obligations to parents-with-responsibilities. It's a whole new lifestyle, and romantic partners are just expected to roll with it and know what to do. I've never understood that. You have to talk to your wife about how this relationship unraveled. Tell her what you found. Hopefully, it will lead to an honest discussion about whether there’s something to salvage.
But let's say there's not. I get the sense that your real question here is whether miserable couples should stay together for the children. My opinion is -- no, they shouldn't.
You say you can’t parent from another home. I’d say you can’t parent well if you’re living in an angry home. Children are perceptive. They hear fights. They sense stress. They understand resentment.
Splitting a family between two homes isn't ideal, but it works. To me, it’s better than everyone living together as one, big, unhappy unit.
Talk to your wife. Maybe there's hope for the two of you as a couple. But if it’s really over, don’t stay together just because you love your son. It's not your parental obligation to be miserable but present. What you’re supposed to do is create a loving, happy environment for your son and have him around as much as possible.
Readers? Is this marriage really over? Should people stay together for their offspring? Share here. Twitter here. Submit your letters to the right.
CAN’T HELP MYSELF is Meredith’s memoir about giving advice, learning from readers, working with an ex, and moms and daughters. It’s also a story about how an online community can become another kind of family.