Exs and Secrets
Q: My ex and I have been having this affair for about four years now. My feelings are still there, but he lives with this woman he was married to. They divorced but still live together. I have a daughter by this man, and anything he does for her, I have to keep quiet so this other woman doesn't find out. I'm finding this situation harder and harder to accept. He doesn't like to argue about anything, and that is why he doesn't want her to know. Do I have a right to be upset? -- Paula, 50
Dr. Susan: I had to read your letter three times in order to get it straight in my mind. What I hear is that you're upset because your affair has to be kept secret, or that parts of it have to be kept secret, because your boyfriend, who is your ex, is still living with his jealous ex. Correct? Sure, you have a right to be upset (feelings are what they are), but that particular "right" in this complex set of relationships earns you nothing of practical use.
You've gotten enmeshed with a fellow who likes to live a complicated life while pretending (and making you pretend) that it's quite normal and simple. No fuss, no muss, no truth, no arguments. Just 100% lies. Do you really think your daughter will make sense of all this someday? Who is Daddy? Where is Daddy? Why is he so secretive? Do you believe, in your heart of hearts, that she will forgive you for your own and her father's dishonesty? That she will learn how to have a positive relationship of her own what the time comes? That she won't resent that anything he does for her is a secret "favor" and nothing more?
Let the sun shine in. He should be living with you, not his supposed ex. (I hope you're not married to someone else, but you never know.) If he won't be honest with the women in his life, either get used to it and accept that being permanently "upset" is what you've chosen. Or get out.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.