Ask Amy: Should he stay with cheating wife for the kids?

  • Article by: AMY DICKINSON
  • May 24, 2013 - 2:10 PM

Dear Amy: After 20 years of marriage and four beautiful kids (the oldest is 14), I found out that my stay-at-home wife has been having an emotional and physical affair with a recently divorced man who is a friend of the family. They were seeing each other even when he was living with his wife, and it has been going on for nearly two years.

My wife does not want a divorce just yet (she would like to wait until the kids are a little older) but continues to communicate with and “see” him when she can.

He left his wife and three girls to live with his elderly parents.

Our home has been in turmoil ever since I found out (yelling and screaming), and her family thinks I am crazy for staying with her, but things are starting to calm down now somewhat.

I am in therapy and on medication to deal with all this.

Is it better for the kids if we stay together, or should we go our separate ways now?

I come from a broken home, and I did not like it. And I know my kids want us to stay together.

Amy says: Parents often find this revelation surprising or upsetting, but I think it’s important to realize that your young children do not care deeply about your personal happiness. Nor should they have to.

You are a child of divorce (me too), and your own insight should tell you that your children treasure their own happiness — even if they can’t really define or pursue it on their own.

No matter what drama you and your wife are dealing with, you must do everything possible to shield your children from it (in the moment) and the fallout (afterward).

It is definitely possible for you to recover from this and even repair your marriage, but not while your wife is communicating with her lover. Until you and she receive some clarity, your household will remain in a state of tension and turmoil — and that’s not good for anyone.

This situation sounds almost unbearably painful, and if you and your wife cannot live together peacefully, you might want to ask her to leave the household for a short time so you can all catch your breath and weigh your options.

Surname suggestion

Dear Amy: The letter from the woman who offered to hyphenate her name with her fiancé’s really singed my britches. He declared that her using any portion of her surname called her commitment into question.

She should suggest a different surname that they both can change to — then both parties can show how committed they are to the new marriage.

Amy says: I like your idea and wish I had suggested it.

Send questions via e-mail to Amy Dickinson at

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