Dear Margo: When the Mistress Becomes the (Step) Mom

Should I embrace my father’s new wife so that my children can know their grandfather? Margo Howard’s advice

When the Mistress Becomes the (Step)Mom

Dear Margo: I’m in my 40s, as are my siblings. Our dad, who is in his late 70s, had an affair an indeterminate while ago, but to this day won’t admit it. My parents have been divorced for a dozen years now, and Dad married the mistress. Naturally, I am not comfortable acting like we’re all “family.” I’ve told my dad I’m not comfortable behaving as if everything is fine and pretending we all enjoy each other’s company. His response has been to never call or visit, and he turns down my invitations to dinner or visiting with my kids. (We live within 30 minutes of each other.) He doesn’t even call the kids on their birthdays.

He and his wife frequently see my sibs and their kids. I am hurt but realistic about it. I really cannot tolerate his wife, and if he wants to side with her over getting to know his young grandchildren, that’s his choice. I extend invitations every once in a while, and he frequently says during those calls that he misses my kids but is too busy to see us. Admittedly, I never invite his wife, but I assume he knows an invitation for him is for both. I do attend large family events for holidays or his birthday.

Should I try to tolerate his wife so that my children can know their grandfather? It’s not just her history and role; I simply dislike her. Plus, she certainly hasn’t extended herself in any way toward me. My mom is bitter, too, about the affair and divorce, though she has admirably built a new life. Maybe because I’m a wife, mother and daughter, I side with my mom, so I would have to contend with my feelings of betraying her, too, if I reconcile. Should I call it our loss about his decision or suck it up for my kids? –Willing to be a Martyr

Dear Will: Life is choices, hon. It sounds as though you alone of the sibs have badgered your father for a “confession,” and it doesn’t seem to be forthcoming. The handwriting is on the mistress — I mean, the wall. Having made known your dislike of her, you cannot expect him to interpret any invitation as meant for the two of them. If you’re willing to put up with her, make an explicit invitation to them both. Your father will know how to interpret it. If this woman hasn’t been nice to you, it could surely be because she’s getting the vibes. It’s your call. Literally. –Margo, optionally

No Need To Feel Stuck for an Answer

Dear Margo: From time to time, a friend will say, “See you at The Smiths’ party!” What do you say in reply when you haven’t been invited but don’t want to embarrass your friend for having mentioned it? I always end up saying, “Oh, we’re busy that night,” so the friend doesn’t feel jerky for mentioning it. Should I just say, “Sorry, we weren’t invited, but have a good time”? Help. — Feeling Awkward

Dear Feel: There is no shame in not being invited everyplace your friends are. Ergo, there’s no need to fudge an answer. If this person starts fumfering around, merely say, “Don’t give it a thought. People cannot invite everyone they know to every event they have.” If the prospective host mentioned is a close friend of yours, the same rules still apply. One hopes grownups do not feel about entertaining as though they were sixth graders planning a birthday party. Chins up. –Margo, comfortably


Dear Margo is written by Margo Howard, Ann Landers’ daughter. All letters must be sent via e-mail to Due to a high volume of e-mail, not all letters will be answered.


Every Thursday and Friday, you can find “Dear Margo” and her latest words of wisdom on wowOwow

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61 Responses so far.

  1. avatar susan says:

    LW#1, I am the wife that was left for the other woman.  I was very bitter and to some degree still am 11 years later.  At the beginning it would have made me happy to have our kids side with me and abandon him, like he did to us.  My kids were better people than me, they maintained a relationship with their father and although they are not thrilled w/the other woman, who is now their stepmother, they treat her with respect because they love their dad.  They don’t condone what he did, but they love him and that’s what counts.  They know he cheated and left,  and that will never change.  I don’t feel betrayed by this, if anything, I take pleasure in knowing that I was partly responsible for raising such amazing young men.   

    • avatar JC Dill says:

      Susan, that’s a really beautiful attitude, and reply. I commend you for your mature response to things that were outside your control.

    • avatar krista griffin says:

      You should be proud to have been such a wonderful mother. Of course you were hurt by your husbands betrayal. But the fact that you were glad your kids took the high road, speaks volumes about your personality. Kudos to you.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    A friend divorced over a mistress who then lived with her ex for almost 20 years until they decided to finally get married after my friend actually suggested it.  My friend actually “gave him away” and held the wedding in her home.  Alas, the mistress was and always will be the mistress in some eyes.  But for the eyes that counted, their children, it was the moment of healing for everyone.  Which of course is why my friend did what she did. 

    All I can say about this situation is that if you’re going to extend an olive branch, it might be wise to remove the thorns.

  3. avatar Miss Lee says:

    Ltr # 1  The writer should ask herself if she is willing to risk never healing this wound.  Her father will not always be around.  One never knows how long one has on the earth.  She may well find herself having the carry the burden of this estrangement long after she can do anything to heal it.  She should get over herself and reconcile with her father.  She will never be best friends with his wife but she can be civil for her father’s and her children’s sake  and ultimately, for her own.  Over time, she may well find herself uninvited to many family gatherings because her relativess will find her martyr act unnecessary and irritating.

  4. avatar Maggie W says:

    Apparently LW #1 still believes life should be a Hallmark movie.  When your father fell in love with his second wife, it is unlikely he was thinking of your approval.  You have chosen to plant yourself on high moral ground regarding his marriage.  It is unfortunate that your own children have never really learned to love their grandfather, but since you dislike his wife with such intensity, it is also better they not see that side of you either.  To extend an olive branch now would be meaningless, and your father’s wife would see through such a hypocritical gesture. 

  5. avatar David Bolton says:

    “Plus, she certainly hasn’t extended herself in any way toward me.”
    Well, I probably wouldn’t either—even though you sound like a bundle of joy and happiness.
    Look, everyone makes mistakes and some hurt other people. Relationships don’t always work out for whatever reason. You can either make the effort to forgive your father (regardless of whether or not he EVER admits to anything) or not. It’s your choice, but it sounds like you are the one who is suffering more from your feelings of anger and betrayal than anyone else. Either let the man back into your life (along with the people who are in HIS life) or move on with yours.

    • avatar David Bolton says:

      And by the way—I’m estranged from my father. The reason why I don’t make any overtures to him is because I have done so in the past and it was met with apathy. My father is emotionally lazy, and I came to the realization that I can’t make him care any more about me than what he does. And since that’s not enough in my book, I have decided to move on. I don’t try to replace him, and I don’t miss him.

  6. avatar David Bolton says:

    As for LW#2, I found myself in a similar situation when I moved in with a good friend in Minneapolis. It was a major move for me, and I didn’t know anyone in the city except for my friend. He began introducing me to his friends, and they seemed like nice enough, fun people. Shortly after I got there, he was invited to a friend’s birthday party, along with our other roommate. I was not included, even though I had met this person several times, and had done something social with them. I thought it was incredibly rude then, and I still do to this day.

    • avatar Miss Lee says:

      Definately sounds like Minneapolis!  As a transplant myself, I have found that Minnesota nice is superficial at best.  Most of my friends are from somewhere else also.  Often the first thing I am asked when I meet a native for the first time – “Where did you go to high school?”  The assumption is, since I am of Norwegian heritage, that I am from around here. Even if I were, it seems a rather odd question since high school was 40 years ago for me.  But it shows how closed the friendship circles are in this town. 

      • avatar RL says:

        I’m glad you posted this because I’ve always wanted to try out Minneapolis.  Honestly what you just described is how it is in Seattle.

        • avatar Miss Lee says:

          Minneapolis is a lovely town.  Beautiful lakes, lots of things to do and a good economy.  I think the locals are pretty much like most other places.  It is human nature to be confortable with folks you have known for years.  The only place that I have lived that was different was Las Vegas. I was there from 1987 to 2000. The locals there were great and everybody was from somewhere else.  I met lots of nice and interesting folks.  Then the Californians moved in and made it a little LA complete with transplanted gangs.  Sad.  The town I loved in the 80’s is gone forever. 

          • avatar Susan Thomas says:

            Come to South Carolina!!! They are the nicest, friendliest people in the world! They open their hearts to you, and  are kind and helpful. I was collecting flowers by the side of the road and on numerous occasions people have stopped and asked me if I needed any help. I am from Connecticut and still love my home state, but the south is the way New England was years ago. They greet you in stores, smile at every chance and are the sweetest people. Some of the meanest people I have met lived in Florida but were from Ohio, who knows why. (sorry Ohioians). We have been to 49 states and the south is one of the best areas in the country!

  7. avatar Jrz Wrld says:

    LW1, grow the hell up. Seriously. My parents’ marriage finally came to a close when my father took up with a perfectly reprehensible woman. I. Don’t. Like. Her. In fact, I hate everything that she stands for. She is rude, obnoxious, bigoted, bossy, smug and self-centered. (She and my dad are actually a lot alike.) For a few years, I used to get a kick out of making her uncomfortable, but that got old. They’re still together (in an open relationship), and I only have to deal with her on occasion. But there is NO WAY IN HELL I would ever let her destroy my relationship with my father. Despite the above-mentioned flaws, he was a good father to me, and I cannot overlook that. I am polite to her when in her presence and otherwise ignore her. It’s really not that hard.
    Don’t be a “martyr” – be an adult.

  8. avatar impska says:

    LW1: Sometimes it’s not easy to disentangle ourselves from nitty gritty of our parents’ divorce and all of the emotional drama that follows. First, ask yourself what you would do if this woman was not “the mistress,” but just your step mother who you didn’t like very much. Would you put the effort in so that you could maintain a relationship with your father? Would you attempt to fake it, so that your kids could be comfortable seeing her as one of their grandmas?
    I disagree that it’s too late to mend this fence by extending invitations to both of them. If this has gone on very long, you may need to have a frank conversation with your father: tell him that you’ve decided to put the ugliness behind you and that you hope that they will join you in putting the effort into mending the relationship.
    As for your mother, does she act resentful to your other siblings, or are you just supposing that there may be repercussions with her? If you think it’s necessary, then you can tell her that for the sake of your children, you’ve decided to try to work out a relationship with your father, but that you love her and empathize with her.
    Since our parents’ relationship affects us, it’s difficult to come to the understanding that it’s really none of our business what went wrong, who did what, and that it’s not our place to take sides. Whatever their mistakes in their relationship with each other, our relationship with each of them is separate, and shouldn’t be reliant on whether or not they were good spouses to each other.

  9. avatar Dana2011 says:

    To LW #1

    I can understand not wanting to pretend to get along with the former mistress/now step-mom for the sake of the appearance of family harmony.
    Perhaps your response to this situation would have been different if your father had been honest and acknowledged how much his actions hurt you, as your mother’s daughter. When someone has an affair, it affects the entire family, not just the spouse who was cheated on.  While healing and forgiveness are certainly beneficial, it doesn’t mean you have to accept your father’s new wife. He’s the one who’s drawn a line in the sand by refusing to continue a relationship with your children.

    Forget what everyone else’s opinion is on this site, it’s YOUR life.  All that matters is that you make choices that honor who you are, what you feel and believe, and what you can live with.  Perhaps ask yourself what would be worse 20 years from now:  Your father passing away and knowing you and your children didn’t have as close a relationship as you might have if you tried to tolerate the new wife(assuming your father reciprocated), or spending time with this other woman and your father feeling ill at ease, knowing that she played a big part in destroying your parents’ marriage and caused your mother tremendous pain. It’s also possible that no matter what you do at this point, the relationship with your father has been irreparably damaged to some degree.

    As Margo said, it’s your call.  And it’s up to you to be at peace with whatever decision you make.  Good luck!

    • avatar Kathy Fisher says:

      What I’m not seeing addressed here is the actual marriage before the affair….When my parents separated, I was 19 years old.  They were not a good fit, mistress or no mistress…Perhaps their similar goals at the beginning of the relationship were enough to make up for their VAST personality differences, but it wasn’t enough at the end of the day….My mom didn’t set healthy boundaries; my dad was selfish, and enabled by her to step over what little boundaries she’d set..My mom was in many ways “a saint”, and that was probably her biggest fault…she also had control issues; communication issues (she didn’t speak up until things got really bad – then she’d explode and my dad would be shocked that the boat was being rocked when everything seemed fine to him)  It was a very complex situation, and I when the mistress came into the picture, I was mature enough to understand that she was only one piece of a very, very large, complicated puzzle.   My dad was far from perfect, but he worked his ass off to provide for us, made me laugh, took me fishing, supported my unconventional career choice….So when he married “the mistress”, I welcomed her into my life because I could see how much he loved her, and how much more suited she and my dad were for each other than my parents could have ever been….We formed a close relationship over the years, and now that dad is gone and she is moving on with her new life and a new relationship, I miss her with all my heart.

  10. avatar A R says:

    L1: Well. Gosh. You seem to be very….conflicted about what you want. You didn’t want her around, yet you fret that she never has reached out to you. You told your dad to forget being one-big-happy-family, yet you wonder why he makes excuses. You invite him in name only, and ruminate over why she doesn’t realize that she is included in the invitation.
    At your age, you’ve got to make a choice, and it won’t be one that suits all your needs. You either have him around, with her in the bargain, or you don’t have him around.
    If you want him around, you had better figure out a way to deal with your emotions. He’s made his choice–the new wife is more important to him that jumping through your emotional hoops. Right or wrong, he’s played his hand. Now you have to decide whether you are in or out.
    L2: Just laugh and say that you haven’t heard about that one yet, but you sure hope they have fun!

    • avatar Margy says:

      Hey A R,
      You expressed my thoughts exactly! When I read LW 1, I thought huh?!Is she serious? Can’t she see her thoughts and actions are not connecting?
      I once worked in a tight knit department and a fellow temp (an older lady who I realized way later was desperately hanging on to her job) gleefully told me she had fun at co-worker’s baby shower. I said I didn’t know there was a baby shower (and privately thanked whoever did the organizing that I wasn’t invited or asked for a donation as I was very poor) and that I was glad she had fun. I managed to outlast all the temps by several months. I was amazed because I was (and still am) like Emily Deschanel’s character on Bones. I say and think rather differently. Most times I realize it (way later) or someone lets me know…

  11. avatar uniq says:

    LW1: I would suggest having a few sessions in therapy, primarily to sort out her own conflicted emotions involving her father.  If she still decides she wants to repair the relationship (and is even capable of doing so), maybe she could have a few sessions with the father.  Talking things out with a neutral party present could make it easier, and leave the kids and the new wife out of it.  Work things out between father and child, then worry about integrating families.  Just my two cents.

    • avatar Nancy Pea says:

      i like your two cents. but i doubt the father would go to the therapy. for whatever reason (and as somebody else suggested, it could easily be for protect another person in the relationship) he would not be open to discussing what happened to have him take on a mistress.  many women get to a certain age and find they have lost their sex drive (i know of what i speak having lost my own, i like to say my ex got it in the divorce and i don’t get visitation), they want to stay married and expect their husbands to just go along with it. especially if it was more a chore for them (not every man is good in bed, but still is a good father). so they feel hurt when he steps out of the marriage and takes care of his natural urges.
      but even if he refuses the therapy, she should definitely go. i can totally understand where she is coming from. but it has to be up to her. the first wife sounds like she needs therapy also. i’m not fond of my first husband (RIP we will meet again) or his last wife and how she treated my children. but i cannot blame her all her actions solely on her. he was at fault to when he abandoned his kids for her and their life together. when my daughter got old enough to look him up, i didn’t stand in her way. her and her brother communicated with him just fine. but were never close. they didn’t attend his funeral. but do keep in touch with their half brothers and families. i have no problem with it at all! i have even chatted with the widow a time or two. but we aren’t close. that’s just the way it is. so hopefully some therapy will help.

  12. avatar susan hiland says:

    LW1: It hurts when a father choices a “mistress” over a mother but that is just the way it is sometimes. As someone who lived through a mess like this with my grandfather, I can tell you this is not helping the children one damned bit. The sender is selfish, and running the high “moral” ground when she needs to be thinking about her kids. Granddad isn’t getting any younger and time is a wasting. The kids should be able to spend it with him while he is still alive. So butch up, grit your teeth and plant a smile-it won’t be forever, and you are giving your kids  memories that will last a lifetime. It is worth a little discomfort in the short run. Trust me in the end you’ll thank yourself for being the “bigger” person.

  13. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    First of all, I love Baby Snooks’ comment that if you are extending an olive branch remove the thorns first.   I may steal that line someday. 

    LW#1 I concur with almost all the posters and Margo that it is your decision to make.  I am not an excuser of infidelity and I realize that it impacts not only the spouse but the entire family.   That said, no one knows what really goes on in a marriage and what may or may not prompt a spouse to cheat.  Some are just selfish people who don’t give a darn about anything but their own feelings and some who stray have been in loveless soul killing marriages that will never bring happiness to either spouse (and it doesn’t have to be anyone’s fault if a marriage is loveless and soul-killing).  Clearly, the best thing to do in such a situation is to divorce before infidelity but if men and women were angels…

    If you love your father and think that your children would benefit from being around him then suck it up and make amends which would include telling your father that you will make an effort to get along with his wife.  If you find him morally repugnant and of no value to you or your kids then I do not know what your angst is all about. 

    LW#2…Margo is right..this isn’t 6th grade and not being invited to an event is not a sign you are a social pariah.   I do understand your wish not to embarass someone who assumes you are going to a party but I think Margo’s response is on target.  Mr. Gray and I are not really very social people, but on the occasion that we are invited to a party or an event, I usually refrain from mentioning it to others who are in the same social circle because who knows what reasons the hosts have for inviting or not inviting others.  

    • Very well said.
      Also, I know of many cases in which one parent absolutely refuses to criticize the other and finds him or herself victimized by a parent who has no such qualms. The official versions of family histories are sometimes written by the most bloodthirsty battlers.

    • avatar Nancy Pea says:

      i like how you don’t bring up invites from one event to another person as who knows why they weren’t invited. that is a good suggestion. not always is a person left out of a get together because they aren’t welcome. sometimes it’s because they are only inviting certain ppl, maybe it’s a party for a member of the family that are close to only certain members of that crowd, like a god parent or best friend. there are so many reasons that one party might be left out without trying to cause a problem.
      very good advice and i will remember to keep that in mind when i see ppl that are in those certain circles. it would be a shock if it were a surprise party for that person and i gave it away. lol!

  14. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Re: L#1: I have actually been is a similar (let me be perfectly clear, everyone’s situation is different, but mine was very close, on the surface, to LW1’s experience) situation. Some 27 years ago, my father had an affair while he was still married to my mother. He filed for divorce, she counter-filed and contested. She won her counter-suit to prevent the divorce…then discovered that when (there was no “if”) he refiled, she would have irrevocably damaged herself in court by contesting the original case, and would have lost everything…her house, alimony…everything. She then filed for divorce, on the grounds of his infidelity.
    My sisters and I were all adults, or very close (my youngest sister was, I think, 17). The divorce was no surprise, as my parents’ marriage was a nightmare of the lowest order. The affair was a bit of a surprise, according to my mother (who has ego to burn), my father had never given any indication in any of his many travels of having dalliances along the way…and he had ample opportunity. The woman was a wowzer, middle-forty-something, hyperactive (I do mean that), an extremely talented artist, highly intelligent (I mean that as well) but terribly insecure, phobic, incompetent business-wise, unable to meet deadlines (she was his employee), impossible to work with for other employees, a Scientologist (which would lead to some interesting threats and difficulties down the road)…and, mmm, well…everyone is going to hate me for this, but I’m being truthful and unbiased, and was totally shocked the first time I saw a professional photo of her…she was ugly. My father, who could make anyone look gorgeous in a photograph, could not make his paramour even vaguely attractive. And my father loved surface beauty…that was one of the reasons he married my mother.
    So, why all of the background, LW1? I am addressing you directly. You were an adult when your father had his alleged affair, and your parents subsequently divorced. A real adult, not a 20-something near child. Should your father have been unfaithful to your mother? No, that was unfair, unkind and unwise, and even potentially dangerous. Obviously, it hurt your mother deeply, and even though she has gotten on with her life, she still retains a degree of bitterness. I understand, to a point. But, Martyr (interesting self-labeling), it does take two to make a marriage work. Please, women of WoW, I am not saying that LW1’s mother was responsible for her husband’s affair in any way. I do know that when a partner strays, there are reasons. And when that wandering moves from a temporary accommodation into seriousness, and the individual leaves the old relationship for the new, something went profoundly wrong in the first case. It does not mean that LW1’s mother did anything wrong, or was a bad wife, or anything even remotely like that. But, when marriages become terminal, there are reasons, Martyr…and there may well have been things under the surface that you still have no idea existed at that time.
    And that would be for a very good reason…it wasn’t your marriage. Here you are, an adult, and you are minding your parents’ business for them. And it’s twelve years in the past. Your mother has built a new life, though I am curious as to why, if this is the case, she is still bitter over the affair and divorce, which are part of her old, and obviously toxic, life. That is a lot of wasted energy. Your siblings have moved on, and whether they approved of your father’s alleged affair (if he’s never admitted to it, regardless of what you think you know, it’s always going to be a suspicion), which I sincerely doubt, or actually like his present wife, which wasn’t stated, they are making the best of the situation, and allowing their children contact with their grandfather.
    The issue seems to be with you. You say that you’re not comfortable behaving as if you’re all still a family. I see not just resentment toward your father and his wife, but also your siblings for what you may perceive as them “siding” with him, and through him, with her. Your siblings, and your father are still family, unless you are “disowning” them (for the amateur lawyers, I mean that in a strictly metaphoric sense). So are your nieces and nephews. Such bitterness and resentment after a dozen years is at least unhealthy…and I’m not buying the “…maybe it’s because I’m a wife, mother and daughter (?)…” bit. Especially the daughter part, because you were clearly all grown up when your parents’ relationship disintegrated, and your father’s “betrayal” of you was minimal except as it affected your identification with your mother. As a wife and mother, you ought to be confident enough in your own relationship not to be identifying so closely with your still-angry mother, and to be able to move forward in life. He’s your father, Martyr, not your partner.
    As to you deliberately (which is clearly intentional) not inviting his wife when you invite him to visit, the man isn’t stupid, and he knows when he’s being indirectly punished. He probably tolerated this for a while after the divorce, and even felt he deserved it…but twelve years made your feelings all too clear. He’s not siding with her, he’s protecting himself from you. He refuses your invitations and doesn’t call? Maybe he doesn’t want to deal with your accusing tone and unrelenting bitterness, and your insistence that he confess…after all of these years, over something that is finished, that everyone else has at least attempted to move on from, that was really none of your business to pry into…and that you just can’t let be for…let’s please be honest…selfish reasons of your own.
    If you don’t like his wife (which I have my doubts about…as you gave no reasons, and have constantly referred to her as his mistress, which is telling) fine. I don’t know why she would extend herself to you, if you never include her in invitations, and you’ve made your feelings as clear to your father and siblings as you have here, the message has gotten through to her. As for betraying your mother, that is shoveling it on rather thickly. Your mother sounds quite self-sufficient…the only reason I can think of is that you might not be her wailing wall anymore…or she yours. It might do you both a world of good to put the matter at rest.
    Bottom line, with your naming yourself “Martyr”, and speaking of naturally being uncomfortable, tolerating various things, “sucking it up” for your childrens’ sakes, and being willing to martyr yourself for the awfulness of your horrid father and his ghastly mistress-wife, I don’t think actually seeing him would be productive for your children at all. Kids are perceptive creatures, and they’re going to be 100% aware that mommy loathes grandpa, and is wishing violence on his wife. That. Isn’t. Healthy. Please don’t torment, confuse and damage you’re little people like that.
    O, my dad? I accepted his brain-damaged, very paranoid, very difficult girlfriend as part of his new life when I met her after the divorce was finally final. No, I didn’t like her, but I did understand the very peculiar choice, even though I thought it would end in disaster. I thought the affair was grim and foolish, and I told him so. A year and six months after the divorce, after they had been formally engaged…my dad was diagnosed with terminal pancreatic cancer. In the horror-show that followed, she left him (no surprise to anyone). I lost my dad when he was just 57, and I was 26. He never got to meet my wonderful husband (now of almost 17 years), or see me content, sober and full of joy, or know his only two grandchildren, both boys, or find out that he was wrong, I really can sing. I miss my dad…I never got to talk to him as a real adult, to share understanding and reality with him. I’m not laying any guilt on you, Martyr, but it is what it is, and the loser will be you.

    • avatar emma manderson says:

      Briana- as for the unattractiveness of your father’s girlfriend… perhaps he had spent his whole life looking at classical beauty, became jaded, and felt like changing to something more interesting.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Emma, I fully understand. My mother, in her youth, was a blond, green-eyed beauty, classical, icy, remote, almost Garbo-esque. I am being absolutely truthful. Her early photographs, taken by my father…well, when I was a small child I was partially convinced she must have been a movie star. And several famous artists at Chicago’s Art Institute asked her to model for them, so there you have it.
        Also, my mother was utterly sexless. I accepted my parents as human at about the age of six (our neighbors’ pet rabbit, and our pet rabbit, got busy with what bunnies do best, and my parents explained, quite clinically, what was happening. My IQ had already been tested in the off-the-charts range…so I immediately parsed that my sisters and I came from the same sort of activity. Fine with me…but how did people do it as fast as rabbits? Took me a while to sort that one out…), and quite quickly understood that sex was about more than procreation, precocious little beast that I was. But, as I got older, I also realized that my parents had serious problems. And that my mother, especially, had to respect or regard for much of anyone, except herself…and her father. She certainly had none for my father. And she held herself as far above mere mortals.
        Which explains the unattractive, but brilliant, needy, insecure, extremely talented, adoring girlfriend/fiancee. It turned out to be largely a sham, sadly, and my father was no cupcake either, but, yes, I understand, Humans are so frail, aren’t we?

    • avatar Brooke Schubert says:

      I couldn’t have said it better myself, Briana.  The whole time I was reading the letter, I kept thinking, “The problem isn’t your father or your stepmother, it’s YOU and your own hatred that’s eating you alive.”

    • avatar bootsaa says:


      I want to let you know that I really was impressed with your excellent advice and how you so clearly shared your thought process in such a helpful way.  This is my first time on this site and I am so thrilled I found it. Responses such as yours has made me decide that this is a quality site with quality folks.( I will visit often) I can only hope that in times of trial I will have someone like you take the time to share their thoughts so that I might be able to make good decisions when the rainstorms of life make clarity difficult. Sometimes it just takes a few sharp people to help us make the correct decision for ourselves and that means the world. It may not be the same decision as the folks who share their advice, but I know for me,”it feels oh so much better” after I have had someone like you help me look at both sides of the coin. A wonderful gift. I wish you a great 2011 and happy days reading WowOwow. Anne in Southern California.

  15. avatar Fortuna says:

    Excuse me?  A grandfather who favors a woman over his grandchildren?  Forget stupid movie clichees: “Do you want to talk about it?”, “He is your father, you’ll regret later”, “The kids need to be close to their grandfather” etc.  Capital B – capital S!  You don’t need him.  And you are an adult entitled to her feelings. 

    • avatar RL says:

      THANK YOU!  Why is it always the son or daughter in these situations who are advised to take the “high ground”?  The grandfather is behaving immaturely.  When fathers like this behave like this I wonder if this is a situation where he didn’t really want to be a father to begin with.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        RL and Fortuna…what high ground? And what BS? And in what way, precisely, is the father favoring his wife over his grandchildren?
        Martyr and her siblings were well into adulthood when their parents divorced…Martyr in her 30’s (how do I know? I read the letter and figured it out). That was 12 years ago. There is no proof of the affair. The other sibs and their children are visited by grandpa…and please, don’t go into betrayal of their sainted mother, or that they’ve somehow relented, or lost their conviction. I don’t know how you could possibly come to the conclusion that a father who did not divorce his wife until his children were well grown and out of the nest “…didn’t really want to be a father to begin with.” That involves too many twists of illogical thought.
        Of course Martyr is entitled to her feelings, whether she is an adult or a child (children have feelings too, in case you haven’t noticed). It isn’t Martyr’s actual feelings that are the issue. It’s her inability to accept her own culpability in her separation from her father, and her alleged angst over this, supposedly because she wants her children to know their grandfather. You’re right, Fortuna, that is absolutely what the male bovine is full of…
        If I were Martyr’s father, I would avoid her like the plague. Twelve years is a long time for someone to demand a confession about something she doesn’t even know happened (an affair at some unspecified time. Sure), and wasn’t any of her business. She. Was. Not. His. Wife. And she was an adult with business of her own to attend to, rather than that of her parents. Twelve years is also sufficient time to stop being a childish brat, and to either tell dad, “I’m not going to invite your stupid wife”, or, to behave with a modicum of maturity, and just invite both of them, like a reasonable human being. He’s gotten the message, you’re punishing him, OK? Twelve years is also long enough to stop showing that long-suffering face at those hideous not-family gatherings, you know, pretending you’re all still family, pretending you’re having fun…then whining to daddy repeatedly about how you’re not comfortable pretending.
        Do you honestly wonder that her father does not accept the invitations of Mrs. Martyrdom and Accusations 2011? That isn’t picking his wife over his daughter or grandchildren (in fact, it strikes me as a bit of selflessness where the grandkids are concerned, because I have serious doubts that Martyr could contain herself in front of her children, and her attitude is unhealthy at best), it’s choosing his sanity.
        This isn’t about choosing sides, taking the high ground, or believing in movie magic and fairy tales. It’s reality. Martyr is the person with very serious issues, the sort that could quite possibly effect her own marriage at some point if she doesn’t get a handle on them. She is behaving immaturely, but not in the sense that it is usually taken. She is behaving like a daughter unnaturally obsessed with her father, something she should have moved on from decades ago. Even her mother, his wife, has made a new life for herself, and I can’t help but wonder if Martyr is not overstating her mother’s current level of bitterness and anger. If so, then Martyr may actually be angry with her siblings and her mother for betraying her. It is not a healthy situation, nor am I spinning tales for my amusement. I’ve lived as the adult child of an ugly divorce, and I was the only daughter who truly saw it objectively and rationally. My sisters, especially one of them, did not. One has finally found love and happiness and contentment. The other…let’s just say that she is just like my mother…who never, ever, moved on with her life. And guess who my sister “sided” with…As adults, your parents’ lives are not your affair. Accept them as humans apart from yourself, and life will be much better all the way around.

  16. avatar JC Dill says:

    I’m amazed at the wisdom of Margo’s answer, and of the replies. I have nothing to add – everyone before me has said it better than I ever could, especially Briana. Bravo and Brava everyone!

  17. avatar Harriet Shoebridge says:

    Willing to be a martry … why? … your father is a selfish man who has chosen wife number two over his grandchildren, over you … that said, and for your children’s sake, you may want to make amends, as per Margo’s advice, in making an explicit invitation to both.  We do what needs doing for our children, this is what parents do.  You don’t have to like her, just exercise fundamental courtesies.  And, this new approach may be easier when you remove the rose tinted glasses when looking at your father.

  18. avatar Cindy Marek says:

    L #1: Well…my parents were together until father’s death so I can’t relate to mistress/stepmom. How much do your kids feel slighted or left out as compared to their cousins? You mention your mother has admirably rebuilt her life, but retains bitterness. Is it possible you’re plugging too much into her residual bitterness and anger? Because ultimately the matter was between your parents. I’d probably react very similar to you, and considering “stepmom” hasn’t made an effort — yeah, it’d be difficult to “suck it up” and be cordial. You seem to miss your father. I guess bite the bullet and extend an olive branch. But that’s easy for me to say, I know. Wish you and your family the best.

  19. avatar Eileen Heath says:

    LW #1: “Admittedly, I never invite his wife, but I assume he knows an invitation for him is for both.”  And admittedly you told him you didn’t like her so NO – he does NOT know the invitation is for both. You’re being passive aggressive here and putting the entire onus on your father. Margo’s right: explicitly say his and HER name on the invitations. If you can’t, then you’re finally being honest.

  20. avatar K Coldiron says:

    LW1: Just incidentally, what happened between your mother, your father, and your father’s new wife is not technically what I see as your business. Your mother and father were married to each other, not you, and what went on in their relationship is not much of a concern of yours. I don’t see how you have to “side” with one parent or another; a marriage only has two people in it.

    Many people will want to comment and remind me of those who wrote above saying that an affair devastates the family, which includes the children. Perhaps, but what I got from this letter is that the LW was already an adult when this devastating affair took place. Maybe let it go? Get over it? Quit taking any side but your children’s, and realize that your parents’ marriage didn’t revolve around you?

    If new wife is genuinely a rotten person, I am all for you keeping your distance. Truly. But it sounds as if you’ve been pretty hostile towards her. Think about how you would act towards someone who was hostile to you for reasons that you are pretty sure are none of her business. I think Margo is likely right that you are the one forcing the issue, and Dad is not deliberately choosing new wife over grandkids.

  21. avatar Tom McKenna says:

    Ltr #1.  What affair?  The father has never acknowledged there was an affair.  Is she talking about an affair that happened at the end of a long dead marriage that was in its dead throws or as in my case where the parents were already in process of getting a divorce as I was?  Why does she, the daughter, define it as an affair and conveniently not mention any details to support her assertion.

    There is more going here.  If she wants to live her life bitter towards her father and his spouse that is her choice.  Whining about him not having contact with her children / his grandchildren after she clearly made his spouse not welcome and indicated his presence would be at best tolerated does not serve her children as has already been expressed so eloquently by others.

    I agree with what others have expressed here, that it is probably better for your children that your father stay away to protect them from your condescending attitude towards him.

    • I agree completely.
      Some exes like to lick their sandwiches just so others won’t touch them. Any new person in a former spouses life is an adulterer just by virtue of handling the ex’s “property.”
      I’m not saying this is the case with the letter writer’s mother and father, but we are missing large parts of the story here, and I have to wonder why. It doesn’t surprise me when minor children are swayed into irrationality, but I wouldn’t expect it from an adult child. I guess nothing should be surprising, though.

      • avatar Tom McKenna says:

        I love that comment “Some exes like to lick their sandwiches just so others won’t touch them”.

        Thanks Tracy, it made my day.

        • Tom, and Briana (below) – I would LOVE to take credit for the sandwich licking idea, but I got it from an episode of “Two and a Half Men.” At some point, Jake (the kid) was wondering aloud why his mom didn’t like his Dad’s new girlfriend. Charlie (the uncle) asked Jake if he knew anyone at school who wouldn’t share even if s/he wasn’t using what someone else might want. Jake said something about a kid who never wanted to eat his sandwich at lunch but would always lick it so no one else would touch it, to which Charlie replied something along the lines of, “Same thing.”

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        My mother, who is 79, is still licking that moldy sandwich…even though my parents were finally divorced 28 years ago (approximately, I really am awful with dates) and my dad, with the Twice-Baked-Cat, were buried about 26 years ago. I suppose someone might be interested in his…mmm…coffee can…ahem…funereal urn.
        A couple of years ago I told mom that I was really over hearing her condemn a dead man who wasn’t around to defend himself, to me, his daughter, who wasn’t married to either one of them, and never “took sides” in their divorce. As far as I was concerned, they could have done it when I was 16 and I would have been relieved at the cease-fire, and I no longer considered them parents, just two miserable human beings equally culpable in an untenable situation. I was an adult when it happened. I miss my dad. She finally stopped her kvetching about one year ago. What the hell, it only took her a year out of almost 30, right?
        Licking the sandwich. Priceless.

    • avatar impska says:

      Your post made me think about it a bit more, too. I imagined if I had a family member who acted cold and unwelcoming (if not downright rude) to my spouse and routinely tried to make me “confess” to a twelve year old infidelity and made it clear she didn’t like me and didn’t feel like “pretending nothing’s wrong” – I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t call that person up on the phone or accept her dinner invitations.
      That’s not even touching the issues of perceived favoritism toward siblings, the feeling that the step-mom should have reached out to an angry 40 year old child, or the bitter mother.
      If this person was in my family, I would think she was a nutjob.

  22. avatar GingerSpice says:

    I guess I’m the minority here.  This is a man who has chosen his mistress over his own child and grandchildren.  He has been willing to cut you out of his life.  This is who he is.  It sounds like you and he do not share the same values.

    However, if it’s important to your happiness to give your very best effort to the relationship then fine.  At least you won’t have any regrets. 

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      Excuse me, but who cut whom out of whose life? I am so confused by the tack you and a few others are taking. Who refuses, after twelve years, based on her unsupported belief in an affair, to issue an invitation to her father and his wife? Who is clearly the only member of the family (including the ex-wife) demanding a confession from her father (not her husband, mind you) regarding said alleged affair? Who has made it screamingly obvious that she loathes her father’s second wife, and considers her family to no longer be a family? And this regardless of the fact that everyone else has moved on, even her mother, the “victim” of the supposed adultery. Who is behaving like an injured, victimized wife, not a daughter? And finally, who is presenting herself as a martyr qualified for canonization for even beginning to consider tolerating her father’s presence in her life, for the sake of her children, of course?
      Good grief, if I were her father I would stay away too. She is so actively hostile, unwilling to let go of anger, bitterness and jealousy, and so obviously has what the woman-on-the-street might refer to as “daddy issues”…and with a husband and children of her own. And the “traumatizing events” occurred a dozen years ago, when she was already all grown up, ostensibly an adult, and maybe even already a wife and mother. The divorce was none of her business. Her dad isn’t choosing his wife over anyone…Martyr is choosing her relentless bitterness, anger and control issues (that need for confession) over even an attempt at a reasonable relationship with life.

    • avatar amw says:

      I can understand why the LW’s father would keep time with his daughter minimal, but I too find it surprising that he isn’t the least bit interested in seeing his grandchildren.

      Then again, my grandparents have made it perfectly clear which grandchild they prefer and there is no doubt in my mind that they will lay the same favoritism on that grandchild’s children when in the presence of all their great grandchildren.

      There’s no excuse for it, and as heart breaking as it is, if it hurts that badly just be done with it. I cut ties a little over a year ago and my stress level has decreased drastically. How can I be disappointed if I accept the fact that they are who they are? You can’t make someone love you.

      If the LW simply can’t imagine cutting ties, she’s going to have to suck it up and include her father’s wife.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        How do we know he isn’t at all interested in her children, his grandchildren? Consider this…what if Martyr insists on being fully present every second that her father is with her children, and bringing all of her relentless fury, bitterness, demands for confession, and other quite plausible issues into the supposedly ‘loving” visit? She’s made it crystal clear that she is unable to deal with even the most depersonalized family gatherings without discomfort about her possibly unique perception that it is all wretched posturing and trumpery…which she has felt compelled to repeatedly address with her father, making it entirely his fault.
        With that in mind…how do you suppose that a more intimate encounter, between her children, with herself in attendance, no doubt, and her father, would be? Do you really think she would suspend her 12-year-old jealousy, anger and disgust for the sake of a decent relationship developing between her scorned father and her children? Think of her words about “sucking it up”, “betraying her mother” (who has nothing to do with this decision, by the way. That’s just a convenient excuse), “willing to be a martyr”, being unable to tolerate the alleged not-family.
        Sorry, amw, but there is no mention anywhere in Martyr’s letter of grandparental-type favoritism, and simply because you experienced it, or I did (which, in fact, was true, and big deal, so what? Grands like certain kids better…it happens. My own mother detested me from birth. Now I’ll never get to wear that “Mom likes me best” t-shirt. Boo-hoo) doesn’t mean that’s the issue here. Maybe gramps has tried to call, and Martyr has cut in and said, “O, no you don’t, we meet on my turf, on my terms”. Wouldn’t surprise me a bit. Maybe gifts were given, or sent, but because they came from grandpa and the dreaded, vile mistress they were rejected. That sounds plausible too, given Martyr’s level of resentment and need for revenge. I’ve never directly experienced that sort of nastiness, but have known those who have, and read about it quite frequently.
        In the end, I think Martyr set up the foundations for the barrier that now exists, and continually reinforced it until it became virtually impregnable. I just can’t find it in me to call her father a grandchildren hating nasty selfish old man, and I think he’s doing those kids a favor. As for me, yeah, my mom made my young life a complete, living hell, and worked on keeping my adult life in the Ninth Circle too. She really is not a nice woman. But through all of that, I never cut her off or abandoned her. I’m no saint, and no martyr, and no sweet pea either. O, I didn’t do it out of masochistic or sadistic tendencies, just so you know. It took me decades to accept that she will never be Mama, ready with a hug, or comfort, or kindness, that she will always look for scabs and open wounds, and she will never change at all. She has no comprehension of me…the family freak that won’t abide by the traditional rules of gossip, backbiting, lying, reinventing one’s life to suit one’s needs no matter how that damages everyone involved, giving a pass to alcoholics and drug addicts who leave human wreckage in their wakes and living life as if one really were a superior, and therefore having no need for accountability, being. Now she’s 79, and a very old 79, and I’m around for when something happens so that I can help my sister handle all eventualities…and mom will accept my presence. I can safely say I’ve never hated her, but I do dislike her. Do I love her? Yes, and I wish I didn’t. Life is like that. And yes, my sons know her. My oldest is in no way perceptive…my youngest finds her strange, unnerving, very out-of-touch with reality and antagonistic. This was a conclusion he came to after spending a week or so being regularly in her presence.
        I don’t know about forgiveness…it may be over-rated, and I doubt it’s as necessary as Oprah and all of the self-help mavens seem to think. I think acceptance is more useful. Particularly of your own truth and reality. Which I believe may well be Martyr’s problem.

  23. avatar Jon Schweizer says:

    I think the first LW’s signature says it all: “Willing to be a martyr”.  It sounds to me like she’s made it her mission to be the designated injured party for the rest of her life.  Of course the affair (assuming it actually happened) was an afwul thing.  But it ceased to be about the LW a long time ago.  As far as her father “choosing his mistress” over his grandchildren, he didn’t.  He’s choosing his wife (better late than never).  However she arrived in her position as spouse is no longer the issue.  “Willing to be a martyr” also seems to be willing to drag her grandchildren into a long dead issue that had absolutely nothing to do with them. 

  24. avatar Jennifer juniper says:

    Margo is being slightly disingenuous with LW2.  Yes, everyone should be all mature and gracious but those little moments can be strangely hurtful sometimes.  So yes, all attempts should be made to avoid making something more awkward for all but let’s not pretend that for many, it would feel like you are in the 6th grade again, getting picked last for kick ball.

    • avatar Briana Baran says:

      I don’t know how someone saying “See ya there!” regarding some random party that they have no clue you haven’t been invited to, but obviously assumed you were, can be construed as hurtful. Unless you really are possessed of a sort of high-school, emo, poor-me mentality. So you weren’t invited…and? It doesn’t require a great display of epic graciousness to respond with something like, “Didn’t get an invite to that one, no biggie”. I’m not sure who the “many” adults are who would get their knickers in a knot over something like this. But hey, I don’t like parties, so maybe I can be more objective about missing alcohol, cigarettes and dissing each others’ boyfriends, outfits, girlfriends, make-up…and watching perfectly decent humans turn into red-eyed, puking morons.
      Now, if the offending person says, “See you thay-yar…not!” And then criticizes your fake Coach bag or disses your Choos as so 2010…well then, you have an absolute right to be morally outraged and go cry, emo child.

  25. avatar Maizie James says:

    Dear Margo,
    Your advice to LW#1 was very sensible.  I know of several situations were adult ‘step children’ eventually learned how to get along with their father’s new wife.  It always works out for the best.
    However, hard feelings are seldom resolved when wives leave their family for their lovers.  In fact, the double standard that exists between the sexes is especially condemning toward women who fall in love outside of marriage.  They are almost always labeled as heartless immoral home-wreckers; a ‘femme fatale’ of the worse sort.
    I knew a beautiful young married woman with two sons who was a close friend of my elder sister who fell deeply in love with another man when her youngest son was a toddler.  She was truly and kind and caring individual.  After a year of emotional torment and agony, she made the difficult decision to leave her family to marry this man, knowing she would loose custody of her young children.  Although her life was not as tragic in the end as the character, Anna Karenina, she was ostracized by her family and the community.  She and her new husband eventually had to leave/flee the state where she resided.  And, like Tolstoy’s character, she was not allowed to see her sons ever again.  It was truly heartbreaking.

    • avatar Maizie James says:

      Just curious if you know of situations where the ex-wife’s new husband was accepted by her family/community.

      • avatar Briana Baran says:

        Mine, and I retained custody of my child as well. I divorced my second husband in March of 1994, and married R. in September of that same year. I had extremely good reasons for my divorce and I didn’t care a fig for what my ex’s family, or their friends thought.
        It has been 18 years since then. The only people who ever had a problem with my decision were my ex-MIL (who had me cheating on my husband with everything with a penis from the start of our relationship, and I do mean everything), her other DIL (which always struck me as peculiar, and I still am baffled by) and my darling ex himself, who has never understood his own part in the dissolution of our marriage. I have an excellent relationship with his father, his father’s brother, wife and children, and his mother’s older sister, who never blamed me for the divorce, and thought it was the best thing for our son and for me, and to hell with her nephew.
        O, my swift re-marriage raised some eyebrows…my unpleasant mother called me “Liz” for a while, and my even more unpleasant sister said that I was “just like our father”. And my ex-in-laws’ Church firmly believes that I’m hellbound, which is fine with me, as I’m an agnostic iconoclast who suspects that, should there be a Hell, and should the fundamentalist right be correct in their assessment of who is taking the Down Escalator…well, conversation will be much more lively and intellectual around the lakes of fire and pitch than beyond the pearly gates.
        And R. is one of those people who seems to engender dislike only in people who are very insecure about their own intellectual capabilities and personal ideologies. Most people like him a lot. He’s mellow, quiet, kind, resourceful and unobtrusive. My family likes him. My friends like him. Even my ex likes him.
        Of course, I am a person comfortable with bucking the system, who is extremely resilient to other peoples’ condemnation, and who does not in any way require the approval of groups or community…not even family (I’d be a dumpster-diving, drug-addicted bag-lady living in a refrigerator carton and drooling in my shoes, or dead, if I had tried to rely on my family’s approval) or church. I understand that people can be driven from their community or town (state is taking it to an extreme…what kind of people were these? And when did this occur, and where? Truly tragic, but also very interesting, like something out of time. Anna Karenina indeed).
        No tragedy for me, we’ve been married nearly 17 years and ours is a union filled with joy, intimacy, delight, discovery and passion. O, add respect, honesty and communication to that as well. And a 13 year old son of our own in addition to my older child. Really, I often find that women who leave their husbands often receive more support then in the opposite case. In LW1’s case…the father’s children were also all adults, and it seems that they might even have been well on their way to having solidly established lives of their own.  All of the children, and their children, with the exception of the LW, are in regular contact with him. In the case you recalled, the woman left her toddler child for the man she loved, knowing she would never see him again. The two cases are completely different. And no, I am not judging the woman…but her situation and that described in L#1 just do not compare.

      • avatar Nancy Pea says:

        actually in my situation my fiance (we never got married but were together for 5yrs) was accepted wholeheartedly by my ex husband (once a foot was put down on ex’s backside) and most of my ex in laws. ex finally abandoned his kids and i broke up with fiance. but later as time went on, i will accepted back in to the in laws and get a long better with them than with my own family most of the time. but that’s another long story.
        in fact in my in laws family there are several ex’s and their new kids that are very much a part of their family. acceptance is a pretty accepted thing. so some families do in this day and age. some don’t. each family is different. but i have never had a problem. but i also would have never left if i thought i couldn’t take my kids. my kids ALWAYS came first. i probably would have ended up in jail though as i would have gone nuts and done something serious to my 1st husband. luckily he was fine with it being over and MY taking the kids.

    • avatar wendykh says:

      Was this before or after 1950? In latin america or the US/Canada/Western Europe?
      I know my case isn’t the norm but when my exH and I split we had an extremely amicable split, his parents and mine both figured it was our problem not theirs, and well, that was it.
      However, they also all knew we had tried very, very hard to make things work and that frankly I just wasn’t into him. We’re both remarried now and our kids are much better off for it with a large extended family and cousins and grandparents they never would have known.
      Specifically to LW1s case… while I cheated on my exH, I did NOT cheat with my current H, however, his exW is absolutely insistent we did. I didn’t cheat with him (tho he cheated on her plenty) because I wanted our relationship to start clean if we were going to be serious. And so we waited until we were both free and clear to begin together.
      Unfortunately, he cheated on her with a woman bearing my same name (unusual for here; but we’re both immigrants) and she refuses to believe there were TWO Wendys. *rollingeyes*. It’s been near 10 years now and she still looks at me like I’m Angelina Jolie. And there were no kids in their relationship!!!!
      Frankly people who can’t get over it aren’t worth having in your life. That’s just the god’s honest truth. Luckily as years wear on, and we refuse to leave, people are starting to consider her more and more and more crazy to keep on like this.
      Life is too short to run around pissed off over something that a) may not have happened (I can’t tell you how much I resent being accused of cheating with my husband. I’m no saint but I won’t cop to what I did not do!) and b) was not about your relationship anyway. But some people just need something to talk about I think. Some folks like to be miserable.

      • avatar Maizie James says:

        I’m happy that your second marriage has brought you lasting happiness.
        My sister’s friend was ostracized [probably] because she left when her children were very young.  It was quite a scandal, especially because her first husband was prominent in the community.  Neither her family, nor her ex’s family forgave her.  This happened in the mid 70’s.

        • avatar Briana Baran says:

          Ah, high society, so to speak. People do think of the 1970’s as enlightened. Hardly. I was pursued for a significant interval by a young man whose family had enormous wealth, power and influence (and criminal connections, and an unfortunate habit of occasionally terminating problematic family members) in the Chicago area. I declined his attentions. Firmly. No one really understood my reasoning…I could have had my horses, and comfort, and riches (very literally) for the rest of my life…and I was no beauty queen, after all, so had I lost my mind?
          A few years later, he married the daughter of the former mayor of a large town west of Chicago. She has her horses, her children, her estate and her wealth, a ring on her finger and another through her nose. She is not allowed to take a single step without letting him know where she is going, who she is seeing, and having a curfew. She never leaves the house without an…attendant. She has no freedom, and an early prenuptial agreement guarantees that there will never be a divorce. She has no private cell phone or email accounts, and she drinks very heavily, but only in private, and when he allows it.
          It sounds like the waters ran deep for your sister’s friend…deep, dark, murky and cold. I confess, I would not have left my children…and that has nothing to do with familial feelings on the matter. Children are so helpless…and I was once a helpless, miserable child myself. My mother was physically present my entire life, but abandoned me the moment I met the light. Of course, the object of her affection was herself. Your sister’s friend’s tragedy was her decision…I can’t imagine her pain…but I also truly can’t put myself in her place.
          But the two families’ refusal to forgive? I doubt that had much to do with her children…and everything to do with disturbing his majesty. Odd how folks’ priorities can be so scrambled by the conventions and demands and mindless dogma of society.