2019年11月2日 星期六

Should I Tell the Children Why My Marriage Broke Up?

I had an affair.

"I am a middle-aged woman. Several decades ago I had an affair with a woman I met in a writing class at a prestigious university's continuing-education program. I was at a very fragile and vulnerable point in my life. My husband and I and our young children had recently moved to a new town where I knew no one. My children were both in school — I'd quit my job to raise a family — and I was lost, insecure, unhappy in my marriage and deeply depressed.

The affair, was tumultuous and abusive — she had a Svengali-like hold over me. I can remember spending hours of my time, to all hours of the night, on the phone or instant messaging with her because she insisted she needed me and that if I hung up on her, she wasn't sure what she would do to herself. She made up illnesses. She kept talking about suicide. She told me her fiancé had recently died. She insisted many other women were interested in her and she would move on if I couldn't commit to her. She infiltrated my family life: buying expensive gifts for my children, dropping in on special events and much more. She also wheedled her way into my sibling's good graces and began turning my sibling against my husband. She pushed me to seek a divorce; she told me my husband wasn't good enough for me, that I deserved someone who would encourage my writing, encourage my independence and encourage me to be me. And I fell for it completely.

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Fast-forward a number of years: After many years of self-reflection and therapy, my husband and I got back together and ultimately remarried. Our relationship is different from before — more grown up and respectful, and I cherish what we have. I feel as though the experience happened to someone else in a very distant past. I still blame myself for what I allowed to happen to my life but now look back with a much better understanding of how depressed and vulnerable I was, and I'm able to cut myself some slack.

My children are now wonderful, well-adjusted, successful adults. I have one nagging reminder of that dark period, however. We never told the children exactly why we divorced. Because they were so young, we were counseled to keep it as generic as possible, and we did. Should my husband and I come clean to the children?"

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