The problem: My parents think my husband is a saint. Truth is, he had an affair. After a lot of therapy and tears, we got past that and I’m staying with him. But how much honesty do I share with my parents, who are in their 80s? So many times, I want to say, “He does not walk on water like you think he does!”
Low road: Tell them that, yes, he is a saint: St. Gengulphus of Burgundy, the Patron Saint of Difficult Marriages.
High road: Please don’t tell them your husband had an affair. It’s terribly tempting to set the record straight, but to what end? Your aging parents would likely be heartbroken, with too few years left to recover from such a betrayal of their daughter. They’d spend the few years they have left trying to make sense of the past, and would also feel sad that they didn’t have an opportunity to help you through this.
You be a saint, and keep your secret from them. But find an outlet to let off steam. Do you have a trusted friend, for example, with whom you can vent?
You made the difficult decision to stay in this marriage and rebuild it. You have likely forgiven your husband and, one hopes, he has not repeated his wandering ways. Give him a pass with your parents. I’m guessing that many of the qualities they love about him are qualities that drew you to him, too. Focus on those.
The only exception would be if he decides to step out again, and you decide to step out of the marriage. At that point, you couldn’t — and shouldn’t — keep that information from them.
Your goal would be to assure them that you are fine and that their relationship with their longtime son-in-law is theirs to define. But let’s hope that devastating chapter is now water under the bridge.
Send questions about life’s little quandaries to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of Gail’s “High Road” columns at startribune.com/highroad.