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The Other Man Wants to Come to Mom’s Funeral

broken heartDear Chump Lady,

My mother died suddenly last Friday. I’d started grieving her when out of the blue this bloke called her phone and asked to speak to me. Turns out she’d been having an affair for 12 years. My parents were married for 54 years. All her holidays and weekends away were spent with him instead of the study group from the synagogue as she’d told me. Now I have to keep her secret as it would destroy my 80-year-old dad.

Needless to say, this has been massively triggering. D-day 6 was 2 and 1/2 years ago and divorce was a year ago. My ex-Fuckwit cheated for 9 years and put me through living hell during the property settlement. My mother was an amazing support through all the shitfuckery.

Now we are forced to keep this shit sandwich a secret for my dad’s sake. And the Other Man is demanding to come to the funeral! Thank god for Covid rules limiting numbers.

Anyway this has put a rift between my sister and me. She thinks ‘good on her she got some joy and love in her life’. Yes my parents marriage was awful, but it was mainly because my mother was horrible to my father. He wasn’t very attentive or romantic, but he loved her despite her nastiness toward him.

I just feel angry and betrayed. I can’t grieve for the mother I knew because I didn’t know her. The parallels between this shitfuckery and my shitfuckery are hitting me hard. I’m the eldest child and it’s fallen in me to arrange a funeral I don’t even want to have. How do I navigate this all the while trying to hide this from dad?


Dear ChumpDownUnder,

Is there some reason you have to arrange the funeral? Could your sister do this? Or another family member? I think given the massive pile of shitfuckery you’re living under, it’s okay to say “I’m not up to this. I’m sorry.” And delegate.

You don’t have to defend yourself, or give reasons. “I can’t do it, I’m sorry” is enough. Or perhaps you offload this entire responsibility on to the funeral home or the rabbi and write a check.

Anyone in your family complains? Great, then they’re in charge. They can do the work.

Funeral logistics is the easy part. I can’t begin to tell you how to live with the cognitive dissonance of who you thought your mother was, versus who you discovered she is. I think the worst part of this story — and it’s the story of so many children of cheaters — is that you’ve been unwittingly drawn into a conspiracy against your chump parent. Now you must carry the weight of her secret, or share it and put your dad through additional sorrow.

I know most people would say, carry the secret. Don’t hurt your Dad with this knowledge. And given your father’s advanced age, I might’ve gone with that. But then I asked Mr. CL, a guy chump, what he thought and he’s firmly in the tell camp. Because everyone deserves to know the story of their life. And your dad’s was hidden from him.

Would it pain him? Of course it would. It’s equally plausible it could free him of thinking for decades that he was the bad guy, a man who couldn’t please his unappeasable wife. It might answer the nagging question of why she was never available. This knowledge could liberate him.

Is it fair that you’re in this position? Of course it isn’t. But your mother made a unilateral decision to betray your father and family, and you’re under no obligation to keep her secrets. She’s dead.

Anyway this has put a rift between my sister and me. She thinks ‘good on her she got some joy and love in her life’.

Okay, if that’s her narrative — yea! love! — then she shouldn’t have any problem sharing this secret with dad. Because, hey, “good on her,” right? Everyone should be thrilled for Mother’s Happiness.

Oh? That would be terrible and cruel to tell your father? Then how “joyful” is this love really, if it’s based on deceit and a conspiracy of silence?

This isn’t Bridges of Madison County. Poor mom finally finds love in her stultifying life! Is your sister really so dimwitted to not connect the dots with your experience? Hey sis, is that your narrative for my ex? Is the narcissism hereditary? Ugh.

And the Other Man is demanding to come to the funeral!

Yeah, that’s a hard no. COVID excuses, “We have a seating limit on senior dick-dribbling fuckwits.” Whatever you want to tell him, absolutely NO WAY does this guy show up. Are funeral bouncers a thing? Do you know who he is or what he looks like? All I can say is what a malignantly selfish person. Who DOES this?

ChumpDownUnder, I’m so sorry you’ve been dealt all this. I hope CN can offer some words of comfort. As I’ve written here before about double lives revealed — remember you are real. Your love for your mother, whoever she was, whatever she did, was real and speaks well of you. We can’t control the stupid of other people, including our parents.

Go forward knowing you’ve lived your life with integrity. Sometimes the best example is the worst example — you’re not your mother.

Ask Chump Lady

Got a question for the Chump Lady? Or a submission for the Universal Bullshit Translator? Write to me at Read more about submission guidelines.
    • @Sharon
      Doubtful. Long after my D-day I subsequently learned that my ex FW’s toxic mother and a few of her toxic friends knew about some of her secret affairs. In all cases, each of her friends only knew about one affair because even they would have been aghast at how many different men my ex FW was involved with over the years as a serial cheater.

      It seems they all enjoyed a good cackle behind my back (as in “surely he must know or suspect something”) like that those shallow, vulgar women from “Sex and the City”. Makes me sick to think about it. If anyone would have stepped up and told me, I would have considered them a saint and swiftly put an end to my abusive FW’s abusive game.

      Tell the deceased’s husband unless he’s of such poor health that the information would surely kill him.

      • I am the product of a marriage – chump father and sociopath narcissist cheater mother. My mother would just enjoy the hell out of any ructions resulting from her antics even after she is dead (centrality!) – my dad knew but stuck by her (not the example I would recommend to anyone at all ever) and while I agree honesty is the best policy, if she was a nasty person, and someone who would be an arsehole to their partner, I personally would want to know no matter how old I was, but everyone is different. I sure as shit would not want to fulfil her narc dreams from beyond the grave. Truth is beauty, but maybe have a gentle conversation with your father about things, and he might tell you a bit how things were for him. If she was a bitch to your father that would temper my mourning. I am sorry you are in this situation.

        • Also, I should also have said Chump Down Under – and this is in no way a reflection on you, and something that I have unfortunately been forced to examine in my own life – I identified with my father, putting up with shit behaviour over many, many years from partners – you said your ex partner cheated on you for 9 years and put you through hell – did you unconsciously learn this tolerence from your dad putting up with your mum?

          Pretty sure that’s part of how I learned it, because that’s what the good guy or girl does, right? I can’t identify with the bad person, so this is the alternative. Now I know this is not right, and being a good person does not mean being treated like garbage, which I kind of knew, but my default position due to my upbringing was to accept the shit, even when it was unjust, because you are strong and you take care of everyone else. This is wrong. You can be compassionate, but that does not mean you accept bad behaviour. I don’t know if this is your situation, but it is something worth considering.

    • Sharon, when my mother was admitted to the psych floor, my sister told me that my mama had an affair. My other sister and my dad knew. I was the only one that didn’t. So you may be right, he may know.

    • I rarely disagree with CL (or Mr. CL!!) But

      — all I can say is that if my EX had died without me knowing all his secrets, at least I’d have gotten to keep my memories.

      And maybe my kids would have been less traumatized. 35 years…

      while I hate saying this, I swear it’s true. I’ve had so many wracking self doubt since finding out…and I still don’t know what “my story” is, but I sure liked it better before.

      The only upside to knowing was that I put the hopium pipe down, but my EX still lives!


      IF the dad does know, then why tell him??

      I could be wrong, of course, But I swear I’m saying this from HIS perspective.

      • ALSO

        UN invite the OM in the clearest way possible. He’s not your dad, he doesn’t get any protection.

        ALSO – just curious, why do you believe this OM? I mean, is there proof that he’s who he claims? Could be be some asshole who had a brief fling and enlarged it OR or made the whole thing up?

        Crazier shit has happpened. Maybe he’s hoping to be in will….

  • I can’t even begin to wrap my head and heart around this one.

    Tell your father immediately. OM may show up anyway and make a scene – your Dad may as well know why this asshole may show up.

    I’d skip the funeral. I don’t think my facial expressions even under a mask would qualify as my “indoor voice”.

    I am so very sorry for the entire mess. Your dad deserved better and so did you.

  • My family also has generational chumpery. My grandmother told me of her father’s betrayal. Great-grandma ‘Nanny’, was chumped for almost her entire marriage. There was a half-brother for my Grandmother, who was never acknowledged publicly. Then my Grandmother was chumped by her husband and her best friend. The cheating in my parent’s generation was on everyone. My first marriage ended in divorce over his serial cheating, and my current marriage has a history of cheating as well. It’s almost as if I was raised to be cheated on. At least it seems familiar. If I tell my story to others, people drop their jaws and look at me like I have two heads. I don’t tell my story anymore. Coming to this site and reading both the letters, CL reply and CN replies help me keep my sanity.

      • I sure wish someone had told me about my cheating ex-wife. I wasted literally decades with her not knowing the truth that was so well-hidden.

        The worst place for that poor an to find out she was a whore is encountering the OM at her funeral.

        Tell him before he is shocked and embarrassed in front of his entire world.

        • The amazing part to me is always the entitlement cheaters have. For their “happiness”, “entertainment”, “fun”, “sexual gratification”, “deserved attention”, and on and on and on. The fact that it is at the expense of others does not seem to occur to them. When or if it does, it is a side note or afterthought that barely registers, as it is all about them.

          • You’re so right. When my EH was sending emails he would say “why can’t anyone except that I’m happy” (his bad grammar). Yes, we’re all concerned about your happiness…

      • Yes. I wish that I knew the story of my life.

        If you offered me a book with a narrative of every moment of treachery he committed against me, I would read every page. I wish I knew.

        Your dad might be faking grief because he feels he needs to protect the daughters from the truth.

        My mom is a dreadful erosion who I grieved during the years she lived. She is living but demented and I dont even plan to tell people when she dies lest I have to fake grief (or be considered an asshole / ice queen).

        Dont feel compelled to grieve, maybe there is some “good riddance” to it all

        CLs “dick dribbling” descriptor amused me

    • Hearing this generational thing is what worries me. My ex wife’s grandma was a cheater and married 5 times. My ex MIL was a serial cheater. My ex wife is a serial cheater. And now my daughter is only 9 but I do worry about her following or being groomed by these women. I filed for divorce when she was 6 and have been the sane parent. My daughter knows who and what her mother is. She has figured that out for herself already seeing fake tears and how controlling she is.

  • Dear ChumpDownUnder,

    That the AP insists on going to the funeral is such an illustration of how entitled FWs are. It also pisses me off that your sister isn’t more sensitive to your situation. I agree that you should delegate *everything* to her.

    I’m guessing that during a 12-year affair, your mom might have slipped up. He probably already knows, and it might be a relief to find out that you know and also that you support him.

    Ugh. Cheating sucks. It just hurts so many people, even beyond the grave. I hate these cheaters.

    I’m sorry that you’re going through this. It’s terrible!

    • My younger sister told me to ‘give myself a slap’ 1 month after I had found out about the 10 year affair, 3 months after he left after 26 years. I was supposed to be ‘over it’ because it was convenient to them that I was. In fact, that Christmas and New Year when still suicidal I was beyond brave. Laughing and joking even though I was dying inside. My Dad had died only 2 months before the FW left me. I will never forget or forgive what my sister said, and I will never forget or forgive my mother’s acquiescence as they ganged up on me on New Year’s Day 2020, when I was sitting with my lap top desperately applying for jobs at nearly 60. I will play along, say the right things, do what I need to do to keep me safe. Give all the tasks to your sister, CDU, free of any self-blame. I wouldn’t go to the funeral but that’s a big personal decision. Put yourself first in all of this. It is a horror story. You need to navigate your way through it, with you at the centre.

    • Yes, the AP wanting to go to the funeral is awful. It shows he just has no respect or consideration for the actual spouse. We already knew that logically, but acts like this really bring it home in another way. You tell yourself at times that they were so in love they couldn’t resist, and really hated to cheat, then see behavior like this and realize, no, they just really couldn’t care less about others.

      I was once in a social circle with a woman who was cheating with her colleague. (I didn’t know the wife at all, btw- only saw her once & never was introduced.) The time that I saw the colleague’s wife was at her son’s birthday party, which we were invited to due to being friendly with the colleague. I was shocked that the woman attended the party. I felt awful for the wife. She was celebrating her baby boy’s birthday, with her husband’s mistress present. So awful. I never liked the woman or that colleague much, due to their affair. When I mentioned to my then-boyfriend (who was their real friend rather than me) how awful that was, he just said “well, she (the AP) doesn’t like it either”. Seriously. That should have been a massive red flag to me, that he and I were completely incompatible. Live and learn.

  • I am with Chump Lady on this one.
    Like this woman’s father, I spent several years in the discard phase being actively demeaned and humiliated by her while she slept around. I was convinced the divorce was my fault until l discovered her infidelity and subterfuge. While it was painful, it gave me a foothold to regain my balance and flipped the script I had been given.
    Give your father the chance to regain his self respect.
    Ban this asshole from the funeral. Talk to the rabbi. He surely has heard more disturbing stories than this one. Honestly, hire security if you need to.

    • Also please consider that the AP is trying to cement some financial claims by weaseling into family affairs. He may be entwined with your late mother’s finances. Making your father aware of this can protect his financial future.

    • Exactly what Bruno said. I’d start with talking to the rabbi and letting him know what you’re dealing with. Be sure AP knows that he best not show up. And try to sit with your dad and see what you can find out from him too.

      If your sister wants to celebrate your mom and her AP, then let her take control of the funeral.

      You can’t control any of this. So let it all go. I’m so sorry you had to discover this about your mom. And that your sister has been so insensitive to you.

    • My thoughts as well. Just because he wants to come doesn’t mean he should be given that right. Ban him
      tell him no.
      Tell the funeral home staff
      Tell the Rabbi. I agree as clergy he’s heard all of it. And also don’t forget about the cemetery and the graveside service.
      If possible keep him out
      Can you assign a relative to ask him to leave if he shows
      If he approaches you again remind him that the eyes of God are upon him during this service and he does not deserve to be there
      He violated every law of decency Should only be there to ask forgiveness from your Dad and your family

    • As far as I know, the only thing you can do is choose a private service. I don’t think funeral homes are prepared to ban/single out/take aside specific people. Someone please correct me if I’m wrong!

  • Email CL. She can edit it. If she sees it here she’ll correct it. I’ve almost done that so many times — I feel you

  • Cut that sister the hell out of your life ChumpDownUnder. You cannot trust her, ever. You might be thinking oh, I can’t go NC with her. Well, you don’t really have to when it’s your sister. You can see her at family functions and joke and laugh with her and pretend everything is fine just don’t ever actually tell her anything real or important. Like someone you have to deal with it at work. Just don’t ever give her any ammunition to use against you ever again.

    She knows you got cheated on and it destroyed your marriage and she’s gushing to you about how wonderful cheating is. She is not that stupid. She’s kicking you while you’re down and she’s enjoying the hell out of it.

    You know what else bothers the hell out of me about this? This mother was cheating for years and telling herself it was ok because she’s such a good, supportive mother and then her child marries a cheater. Well gee, I wonder why the fuck that happened. She trained her children to see cheaters as good, supportive people. Nobody talks about this aspect. How your kids don’t know you’re a cheater and see you as good even with all your little flags that you can’t hide showing you’re not trustworthy. They grow up seeing that as trustworthy. “Oh, this person I’m dating is good and supportive like my mom is, I should marry them!” They set their children up for failure in relationships. But ooooooh, their genitals! The tingles!

    As for the other man, I’d tell him if he wants to set up some sort of memorial on his own for himself and her other dicks on call he’s more than welcome to but I’d literally call the fucking police and have him removed if he dared show up to the funeral. I’d give the people at the funeral home a picture of him and tell them not to let him in. She wasn’t important enough to him for him to be open and public about their relationship while she was alive, but she suddenly is now that she’s dead? Is he a corpse fucker? Is that his angle?

    And I’d tell dad. Yeah, it’s going to hurt. But you know what, looking back over my 20 year marriage and finally being able to make sense of some things was actually nice. I blamed myself a lot. I felt crazy a lot. It was nice to actually know some of what was real all those years. His wife was not nice to him. You aren’t going to be ruining lovely memories, you’re going to give him the gift of being able to go, oh, that’s why she was being a bitch on that vacation. That’s why she said that awful thing to me. That’s why I always felt weird around that one friend. It’s a gift.

    • Unfortunately, the dad also taught ChumpDownUnder to put up with being treated badly, to stay in the marriage no matter what!

      We learn all sorts of bad stuff from our families, and it’s rarely from what they say, but from what we see them doing.

    • Thanks KatiePig and everyone who’s weighed in. And big thank you to Chump Lady for running my letter and your kind words.
      My sister and I had a huge fight yesterday and blamed me for ruining her life. She was an alcoholic for years and has been sober for years but she’s still the same mean and volatile person. She’s getting the bulk of the estate which I’ve known about for years and don’t care as I’ve made a decent life and have a wonderful job and beautiful sons who are supporting me an loving me throughout this. As a direct result of her anger issues over the years she’s got nothing and no one. She blames me for this for some bizarre reason. Anyway during the fight she said she was always the favourite with mum (true that) and that’s why she’s getting most of the money and that my money only came from the ex. That hurt and is also untrue.
      Anyways after the fight she refused to take part in the meeting with the funeral director as again it’s left up to me to arrange on behalf of my dad. I’m also executor of my mothers estate so I’m doing all that work as well. My brother is also horrible and has been cut out of the will because he tried to extort money from my mother a few years ago and was violent. He will likely challenge the will and quite honestly after what I went through with Fuckwit I don’t have the fight left in me to go the distance on this one. I’ve already decided to give him what he asks for.
      My family is a hot mess and always has been. Thank god for my sons.

      • Tell your dad. He has the right to know and it’s better coming from the sane child…your siblings sound like real treats.

        I would also put it out there that you don’t need a funeral. Your mom needs to be cremated or buried. There are families who can’t afford the funeral. Do what your dad wants. If you siblings want to do a memorial let them, and they can make the arrangements and pay for it. I bet they won’t do anything- it sounds like they were cut from the same cloth as your mom.

        Also – my EXH had an alcohol issue. He gave up drinking for awhile and his behaviors didn’t get better. They call it being a ‘dry drunk’. If your sister hasn’t taken responsibility for her actions and made amends she still has her issue. It just looks different.

        My mom also had an affair when my EXH had his first known affair. It’s crazy how they can see the pain and continue on. I didn’t know for 10 years after they were divorced (I was 32 at the time). Two days before she passed she told me she never thought of me as her daughter – more of a cousin, sister or a friend. It explained a lot. My point is you can’t cont who she was or the choices she made. Not every parent or partner is loving and kind. Sometimes the are narcissistic. Nothing to do with those around them. Please do what you need to for yourself and your dad. I’d suggest therapy for each of you. You’ll have to unpack feelings before you can put them away. Your dad may have feelings about the behaviors of your brother and sister in addition to your dad.

        If I could big you I would. This is a tough time for you and you didn’t cause any of this shit sandwich ????

      • In the States, depending on the state, the executor gets a small percentage of the estate. And they can decline it, if they choose. Just sayin’ given the work involved (nothing legal but time sorting through a house’s contents, etc). Sorry your siblings choose to behave the way they do.
        Hugs ???? to you dealing with this revelation

      • ChumpDownUnder, are you also having to organise this in lockdown? Add that to my pile of sorries that I want to send you.

        Have you applied for probate yet? That will slow things down, and allow the inheritance hotheads to do the math on challenging the will.

        Other execution tasks also take time – like valuing the deceased’s real and other estate before you can pay it over to the beneficiaries. Individual significant valuables like jewellery may need individual valuations.

        I am not sure that pursuit of money spent on the AP would work right now in anyone’s interest, especially yours.

        But certainly tying off the credit card and bank accounts is essential – you need the original death certificate, so ask the funeral directors to expedite that.

        The registry of births, deaths, and marriages in your state can do that – they should have a two day or so turnaround that the funeral directors can ask for – for a fee, of course.

        Once you get that, close those bank accounts. All of them.

        It’s awful. I know. But you only have to do this one day at a time.

        Hang in there.

        • Thanks Lola, I’ve decided to get a lawyer to do everything. My sister is evil and toxic and it’s NC for her. I’ve told her everything will go through the lawyer from now on.
          Lawyer bills will be taken out of the estate. My mother had much more money than any of us realised. Which is something good to come of all this.

          • What a good call – especially with the toxic sister. I had one of those too, with the recent death of my father.

            Death of a parent brings out the best and worst in siblings, and in a family that’s already a fuck-up, it just gets technicolour.

            You can always instruct the lawyers to move fast on the bank accounts because of the existence of the OM. I’d give them a good briefing on him so they know what to look for.

            I think the other Chumps are right – he may also be sniffing around for some AU$. I read this horrible story the other day:

            “My superannuation.” There are no words.

            Let us know how it all pans out.

  • There’a nothing like being slimed by the mind-blowing, off the charts, out of the stratosphere self-centeredness of cheaters.
    Especially at a time like this. Holy crap.

    I’m on Team Tell. Maybe your dad smelled smoke his entire marriage, couldn’t find the fire, and thought something was wrong was him. Like I did. This is a terrible and completely unacceptable position to put you in. And one your mother and this man had no right to put you in.

    NO is a complete sentence. You don’t need any excuse to justify telling this predator he can’t come to the funeral. If you did need one, how about referring back to your wish to protect your father? Or YOU, as the creep had no qualms about dropping this bomb on you just after your mother died?

    I’m also on Team Delegate when it comes to funeral arrangements. No matter what the circumstances, it is ALWAYS okay to ask for help, decline and delegate.

    My sincere condolences for everything.


    • PS…I think funerals should be for family and friends of the family.

      Cheaters are in neither of those categories.

      After my father died, my mother and I appeared on Oprah as the featured guests. On the show my mother characterized their marriage as happy. Someone whose husband my mother cheated with saw the show and begged to differ. My mother had to tell me the truth before this woman did. I was glad it came out because I was one of the people my mother blamed for our family being a mess.
      Learning my mother was a cheater after my father died helped me make sense of what the F was going on in our family and how it had affected me.

      It is ALWAYS helpful to know what the truth is so you can respond and heal. Secrets keep people sick and suffering.

      • So firstly
        ChumpDU: I underline EVERYTHING VelvetHammer said. Double underline. I have really appreciated your posts over the years (I’m in Aus too) and my heart now goes out to you that this – on top of everything- is happening. Your mum, your sister (your husband)… when one person after another who you loved and respected turns out not to be who you thought they were.
        Second: VH, my heart goes out to you too. Absolutely horrible.

        • Hallo, First time I write. Thanks to all of you and CL for existing out here! I’ve been reading you for a year now.
          I am in the cost/ benefit assesment group. Good point: protecting your father financially. If he would have been any younger I would have been all for the getting your life back, for the truth. But at 52 after 23 years of marriage and 2 children, having discovered 10 years or cheating (that I know of) I have been a year now trying to wrap my head and heart round this fact, and I have needed all my strenght and resources: I took my anger running, walking 200km on the Santiago route, spoke with therapist, priest, true friends, found a new job,… and I still mostly feel like shit. I am gaining strenght trough my pain with the thought that with this knowledge I will build a better life for me, may be’ a better relationship with a new man… I cannot see a man of 80 years old coping with all this shit, I think you may need to make a cost/ benefit assessment here, but it is your choice. I hope the best for you it is a terribile situation.

  • I can’t believe this “never tell” group. So many people suspected my ex was cheating on me but NO ONE voiced it to me. While I suffered in an abusive marriage. I lost 14 (24 total) years of my life because of it.

    The truth will set you free!

    • This is mind blowing to me too…that people who supposedly care about us would not see what cheating really is — someone is stealing years of your life. If you decide to stay, okay, maybe not, but these people are making this decision FOR you as much as the asshole who decided to take you for a ride. Only when you know can you truly have any sort of say in your life. Those who choose to not tell conspire with the cheater. It’s despicable.

    • I believe in telling but understand people that don’t have the guts to tell. Many times the person that tells becomes the bad guy. The chump (if he/she is not ready to leave), the cheater and mutual friends may label the person that tells a busybody, a troublemaker, jealous, etc.

  • ChumpDownUnder, this isn’t your secret to hide. Tell your Dad. I believe he already knows or suspected. You do not need anyone’s permission to tell the truth. Tell your Mother’s affair partner he is not welcome at the funeral. Then assign someone to keep him out. Sister isn’t the boss of you. At the first hint of criticism hand the entire funeral over to her and walk away.

    • Yes this. You can speak with the venue or funeral director about having an “usher” who can be on the lookout for this guy. They can steer him out.

      Tell your Dad. It’s better to know than to think you’ve been crazy for years. Maybe he has a close friend or sibling who can also be sure to keep the AP away from your Dad specifics and the event entirely.

      My condolences. My Dad just passed and in the thick of his death, funeral planning, etc, Ex is in contempt of court for refusing to sign court-ordered QDROs. Another shit sandwich….

  • I’m guessing, in the Jewish tradition, the funeral has already taken place? Maybe your family’s faith will include additional days of mourning. Perhaps the rabbi could join you as you tell your father and provide counsel for your family going forward. Your sister should be included in the conversation if she wishes to add her thoughts or energy to the events going forward.

  • ((BIG HUGS)). This is so triggering on so many levels and I hate that for you. I’m with CL on all this….delegate the funeral, tell Dad and NO on cheaterpants coming to funeral. He loved your mom in secret and he can morn the loss of your mom in secret. The nerve of that guy! As far as your Dad, I know it’s hard to tell your aging father but he deserves to know so in his last years of life he can liberate himself of all the “what if’s and why’s”. And, maybe…hopefully, he can find someone to love him the way he deserves.

  • The AP is a horrid and selfish and manipulative person for burdening you with this knowledge. I may be unpopular to say this but why tell your dad and let yourself be used as a pawn in the AP’s game as a means to inflict pain on your dad while he’s in raw grief? I would worry that the shock might take your dad out. The AP set it up to go this way, to use you to hurt your dad. I bet your dad will figure it out when he goes through your mom’s papers and realizes there’s no synagogue group. I say go NC with the AP other than to tell him to f off.

    • “What they don’t know won’t hurt them” is exactly how cheaters justify and rationalize what they do. It’s also not true.

      I was hurting deeply and didn’t know why. When I found out my former husband was cheating, so much made sense and it was ultimately a relief.

      I am always amazed at how much pain an invisible cactus spine stuck in my hand can cause. Cheaters think that if no one sees or knows they aren’t hurting anyone. Far be it from me to perpetuate this myth.

      (I can officially say EX HUSBAND today. I signed the divorce papers yesterday!)

      • I never really know what to say to that. I don’t feel like the demise of a marriage should really be celebrated, but – like any long, difficult and unpleasant task that you need to push through to get on with your life – I hope you’re feeling some relief and peace now that it’s concluded.

        • I’m sad to have to get divorced, but glad to be divorcing him. I realized earlier this week that I actually had a smile on my face when I told people I was signing papers Tuesday. ????

          I didn’t want to be married to Benedict “OJ” Madoff, so, as Dr. Phil says, “not every relationship you lose is a loss.”

          The sadness I feel is about discovering I was in a mirage, not a marriage. That I was defrauded and duped and tricked and abused and spent half my life in an illusion.

          So, divorce after being chumped is like being rescued from the Twilight Zone or the Fire Swamp. I usually say, “I’m sorry you had to get divorced and hope the rest of your life makes up for it.”

          Liberation from any abusive relationship carries joy and sadness I think.

          • If it helps allay the sadness a bit and tilts things towards joy, you’ve probably helped thousands of people with your deep, poetic insights, great analogies and surgical humor. I’m never one to say we have to thank even people for providing us with a “learning” experience. Fuck that. It’s still horrifying that this FW threw a shadow over so many years of your life but what you’ve done with the experience shines bright.

            • Ok, you can be in my will!


              Many thanks for your kind and generous sentiments and sharing them at group level. My spirits appreciated the lift.


      • You’re MIGHTY VH! Finalizing the divorce is a huge step in the process of recovering from what happened. I didn’t think that legal event would make such a psychic difference, but it did.

        • I agree. Finalizing the Divorce takes enormous Mightyness. I applaud you and congratulate you VH. You deserve every happiness in your fuckwit free future. It was you that taught me the word “mirage” in place of “marriage.” I lean on this term heavily and it comforts me to know it was a mirage and I was not “crazy.” As for the terms “husband” or “spouse” or “partner”, I feel the same way. He was NONE of those things to me. I prefer to call him “X”. That’s all he is and ever was.
          Husband is a term that describes a loving, supportive, life-partner. X was not any such guy.

          • The right words make all the difference, and as marriage had a psychic impact, so does signing those divorce papers. It’s been like the garbage that was rotting in my house finally got taken away.


          • Amen!

            I didn’t have a husband. I was legally bound to a traitorous, abusive, soul-murderous con artist. Hence, his nickname Benedict “OJ” Madoff. If I call him by his real name, it perpetuates the mirage….

            • It’s a momentous thing for you Velvet. Hoping this ushers in a new exciting chapter for you and your precious daughter. You deserve joy!

            • OJ and Bernardo. I’m not even kidding when I see the parallels between psychopath Bernardo and X. His systematic influence and control over others for the singular purpose to annihilate. It’s chilling.
              I once called X “Charlie Sheen” in a text. This was a few years ago prior to no contact. Another uncanny parallel as Hookers and Blow Hobbies101.
              I’d say that’s an accurate description. The only difference is Charlie was overt and X is malignant cover, with myself and children as Image Management smokescreen.
              The TRASH took itself out, indeed.

      • congrats VH. you’re free to move on. i hope there’s a new pair of bad bitch boots coming your way. it’s autumn, afterall.

      • That saying really gets to me too.

        I didn’t know and I was running around for the last year trying to figure out what was happening to my husband, to my marriage; why was he being so nasty etc.

        But even in the years before that, he was spending money on her hand over fist. I was scrimping and saving so he could have his boat and river property, he was spending most of it on her. He never remembered my birthdays, he never remembered valentines day; he didn’t do little sweet things for me that you would expect a husband to do. I did them for him. But, I spackled that well he is just not that type and he loves me. He was that type, but he only was that type with her; and he didn’t love me.

        So is that is a definition of what I don’t know doesn’t hurt me… I don’t think so. I had to absorb all the pain from it, as I was desperately spackling and trying to soothe myself with my own lies.

        I was being financially and emotionally abused.

      • Good for you Velvet!
        And great metaphor about the hidden cactus spine. I know exactly what you mean in both contexts, physical and metaphor.

        One of my sisters is not my father’s daughter, he knew it but stayed with my mother anyway. My sister’s unstable life was because of the pain of this hidden cactus spine. You can’t organize your ideas when something is nagging you nonstop.

        My mother was cruel to me because she knew I knew. Kill the messenger.

      • “(I can officially say EX HUSBAND today. I signed the divorce papers yesterday!)”

        Congratulations, VH. Lots of emotions, I’m sure. Or perhaps I’m projecting.

      • Congratulations on your divorce, Velvet Hammer. I’m glad it’s finally over.

        I agree with you about telling. When I look back at my very long marriage I remember several instances where a man seemed to be trying to tell me something about my husband. Two of them were gay men and knew him. One was a priest. If they had told me he was gay I would have believed them. It would have explained so much. But I didn’t have the courage to ask the right questions and kept the pain at bay. I loved him so much that I couldn’t face the possibility that he could be lying to me.

        All three times happened before we had children and it would have been so much better if I had been able to face reality when I was young.

  • This is tough. Like others have said, your father may have known for years. It’s difficult to understand the dynamics of other people’s marriages – even when they are your parents.
    Could you ask to see your Rabbi and have a private chat?
    Regarding funerals and practical matters I would suggest letting your sister take over if she is comfortable with the arrangement and you are not.
    This man may even turn out to be someone known to the family or from the synagogue.
    If you do decide to disclose anything to your father then go in gently as he may not want to hear it.

    • Definitely. Go gently. Sound him out. Doesn’t have to be the “big reveal” – see what kind of signals he gives. Ease along in the middle ground and see if he wants to take it there.
      He may “know” but not want it to be out in the open air. It may mean a great deal to him just to find an unsaid understanding with you.

  • Dear DownUnder,
    I was floored by your letter. Almost my exact story.

    The only thing I would add to CL’s reasonings about telling your dad is that, based on my experience with my own dear father, who raised a daughter who was not his, is:

    ***I bet a million dollars that your father KNOWS the truth.***

    Receiving support from you could mean a lot to him at a time like this.

    BTW, my sister hates me, she won’t even speak to me. But I told her that this is her story, not mine to keep, and that I had carried the weight of secrets for long enough and endured my mother’s scapegoating me for decades and that the last straw was when my mother cheated financially on my father at the age of 80 and filled him up with debts after he gave her a good life.
    Why are some people so selfish and so stupid?

  • Chumps are conditioned not to speak the truth. Being compassionate, we are reminded how we will hurt people by telling the truth. We end up protecting the person who actually is causing the pain to others. Truth is truth, roaches run from the light. Please turn the light on. As for your sister, you don’t need a big dramatic fight. You do need to say, knowing what happened to me and dad. And thinking it’s fine, tells me who you are. Done, no excuse or explanation needed. Just speak your truth to her too.
    I would tell the AP, we don’t want you or her other boyfriends anywhere near us. Lol, just to put a bee in his bonnet.

  • After a forty year marriage, last week someone new I have met through my job said to me, “What I want to know is why did you stay married to him all that time?” She completely caught me off guard. When I demanded an explanation she said a certain group of people in our community knew about his affairs ten and twenty years ago.

    In my gut, I felt it hit. Crude as she was with her brashness, truth has a certain ring and feel that cannot be denied. FW claimed last year on D-Day that this was his first, blah, blah, blah. And I have been thrashing and beating myself up wondering why I didn’t see he was so unhappy, why I didn’t do more to show him, why I let a perfect family dissolve under my watch, etc.

    In my case, speaking for only me, this new truth has given me peace. There was nothing I could have done. There are secrets and betrayal in layers and layers and layers that I will never know about. I am guilty of believing the person I trusted most when he said he loved me. That’s all. I thought we were happy. We had a beautiful family and home and I worked hard at being the best wife, mother and then grandmother I could be. There is nothing I could have done to change the course of what happened because he was cheating and lying all along. “Trust that he sucks”, happened in seconds.

    So I offer this to you – because this incident of truth telling allowed me to get through a wall. Within hours, there was a new calmness. And then just a very deep sadness that I wasted an entire lifetime on someone who never deserved me. But deep, quiet sadness is a much better place to be than confusion and anger and shrieking grief. For the first time in all this mess, I KNEW I deserve respect. I deserve love. Because I give those things always. And I’ve given those things to everyone, all my life, even those who did not deserve it.

    I’m on Team Tell. Wish there had been a Team Tell in my life twenty years ago. I lost this entire life span in the not knowing; in the bad thinking loop of thinking maybe I deserved what I was getting.

  • My mom (now 81) is also a narcissistic serial cheater. She defended me when my XH of 25 years devalued and discarded. However, she is still the lying, blaming, extremely selfish person she has always been. She is married 21 years to a guy 16 years her junior, whom she wanted because of his younger age ???? and bragging rights— sickening—and when she was in the hospital recently another much younger guy came and visited — I got the cheater-vibe from her flirty behavior and his weird attentiveness. Wth?!

    To anyone who wonders: they never change! Cheaters cheat and liars lie.

    No wonder I was oblivious to the similar cheater spouses I chose.

    My heart goes out to the writer and his father. Heartbreaking. Sister can go fuck right off – she’s clearly a chip off the old whore’s block.

  • WTF. She’s dead!! Hard NO asshole we don’t know you and we don’t want to know you. Have your own damn party for her. Sheesh

  • I would not give up control of the funeral plan. If sis takes up the mantle, maybe she’ll decide to let the AP show up. I’d bury her in a dress she hated. I’d minimize the fanfare and deliver a short, terse eulogy but put in lots of supportive statements for poor dad. Tell or not tell? If he isn’t in good health, I guess I would tell but not immediately. If he seems OK otherwise, then I would go ahead and tell. How much is he grieving the loss of someone who treated him so badly? If klootzak died today, not sure I’d be taking it so hard. Probably some tears over what might have been but he killed that dream long ago. I think he should know but sort out the right timing. I doubt he’ll be upset if you give her a basic, cheapo funeral without much fan fare. Why was there no announcement in the paper? Oh, FW mom was a very private person who wouldn’t have wanted that. She made her eternal bed, she can lie in it. I would give zero fucks about saying good things. I would be telling the attendees that she got more happiness than she ever deserved.

    • Yep she’s getting a basic funeral and a basic eulogy from me. One son wants to speak so I’ll let him do that. Both sons know and are horrified at what she did.
      I’m also going to tell him but in a month or so. When it’s not so raw.

  • I thought in Bridges of Madison County the most poignant quote was from the chump husband

    “Franny I just want to say… I know you had
    your own dreams. I’m sorry I couldn’t
    give them to you. I love you so much.”

    Franny and Robert were cheaters. Their brief encounter was a happy memory. Four days of sneaking around not her ‘life of details’ home and family which was steadfast and true.

    But its important to be known for who we are – in this case a cheater mom. Now if that mom had wanted it to be known she may have revealed all before the end but she didn’t . The AP cheater did that. Funerals are for the living not the dead. So deal with her body respectfully bin the cheater (its not about him and his feelings) Let sleeping dogs lie.

  • You should tell your father for the simple reason that this FW, in a chest-beating testosterone-fuel gesture of ownership, might tell your father he’s been jumping your mother for years. This man has earned his badge of entitlement by demanding to come to the funeral. I’m surprised he hasn’t tried to blackmail you into letting him come by threatening to bare all to your father. Head this troll off at the pass. You do not know that your father knows. My aunt and uncle had the marriage from hell, and I can assure you that none of us know (a) why he stayed with her and (b) she was NOT having an affair as an excuse for her behavior toward him. She was like that to everyone.

    Also, your dad needs to know so he can get an STD panel done. You also do not know if your parents weren’t sexually active with each other. Because, sadly, as we know, the FW was probably not the first of her affair partners. Your dad is at risk.

    Tell him. But also know that this might blow back on you in a very unpleasant way. In light of her death, he might be constructing a narrative that their marriage was wonderful. People do that. And he might blame you for bursting his carefully crafted fantasy.

    The FW. Tell him to pound sand. Once you’ve told your father the truth, stand back.

  • Gosh, this is so hard. I think my first reaction would have been to keep it quiet, but reading others’ comments I agree, your dad may already know, so I’d go with tell him. That being said, I really came here to send you huge hugs and condolences on your sudden loss!

  • Your mother’s cheating is just one of many facets of her life. Please don’t let this be the ONE THING about your mother’s life that is real, while all your other experiences become nullified. Keep your love for her and cherish the relationship the two of you had – despite the fact that you now know she was far from perfect.

    • I agree with Chumped and Pumped; even if the man told you a true story (which I have doubts about), you had 40 years of unadulterated mothering to mourn, and your own relationship with her that is separate from any others.

      Given the 12 year timing he claims, if it actually happened, she may have been experiencing early dementia even when it started–irritability and a tendency to be easily conned are often signs. But, I am not entirely certain that the man is telling the truth at all. He may be a stalker that she turned down, or some one who has it in for another member of your family, and this is his revenge. Please, please check his story every way you can, before you say anything to your father. Call the study group, find out if she was a regular attendee, if there were away-trips and if she attended them. I briefly dated a man who became a stalker when I called it quits years ago. He still lies to everyone he meets saying that we were life partners and implying that we were together for years. If I dropped dead tomorrow, he’d try to take on the role of chief mourner and tell everyone that we were still involved, if he could get away with it, just because it makes him feel important.
      The man who called you dropping this bombshell at this time is just looking for kibbles; even if his story were true, he does not belong at the family funeral, he is trying to hijack the family’s space to mourn and to make it a drama all about him instead. For that reason, I would deny him that satisfaction and not talk to your father about him til after the funeral and not until after you had checked out that story very carefully.

  • And when I think I’ve heard it all. I just can’t even imagine dealing with a cheating scenario at my mother’s death. How do we honor all this?

  • He’s 80 years old. Leave him to living his best life.
    Stress and trauma are NOT good things for the elderly.
    At this point his physical health and emotional well being are your concerns.
    Not setting him back.
    He does not need to look back and wonder / untangle skein of his disgusting wife. If you do, it would or could be at a great cost to his health.
    Shingles, for one thing, is something that happens to overly stressed seniors.

    Tell your sis to kiss your grits, I’d tell the Rabbi, and possibly the tax guy if you think there are going to be financial claims from OM, but – let’s be serious, that is highly unlikely to happen.

    • PSA:
      Everyone over 50 should get the new Shingrix (two shot) vaccine. It will prevent shingles–and you DO NOT want shingles.

    • Yes, the stress on him was a concern of mine.

      My 80-something aunt was so overwrought for me at times during my divorce that I was concerned about her health and chose to back off on the details even though we are very close. She took the pandemic very hard as well, so I keep our phone/Zoom calls very fun and encouraging. I love her accounts of growing up and teaching years (I’m a teacher too).

      I personally would listen to my gut on whether to tell Dad and err on the side of caution.I would express that soberly to the sister too. Some things should be buried with the person.

      • I’m a teacher, too. Education must be a chump magnet bonanza!

        If the risks outweigh the benefits, at this point I would wonder WHY a child would not want to protect surviving elderly parent.

  • Be careful to take ANYTHING this man tells you with a grain of salt. How convenient that he suddenly found the need to become an unvarnished truth-teller the moment your mother wasn’t around to contradict him. And how interesting that he couldn’t have told one more lie about his relationship with your mother, to attend her funeral while still protecting her grieving children.

    Maybe there was an affair exactly as he says. Or maybe your mother never had an affair at all, and he’s getting back at her memory for rejecting him. Or maybe the reason he is telling you all this now is because he has something to gain from it, like protecting his own marriage or gaining financially.

    OP, please talk to your rabbi about this to help sort out your feelings and what you should do. But I would run everything this mysterious AP is telling you past a neutral third party (like your rabbi) before you make any decisions beyond telling him not to contact your family.

    • I also agree. Maybe this guy is a pathological liar.

      I know about pathological liars who tell completely made up stories about their lives. I know because I was married to one. Incredibly detailed stories and I bought them hook, line, and sinker. Had to do detective work after D-Day because it dawned on me that he might have lied about other things too. Boy, did he ever.

      Best to discuss this creep’s claim with the rabbi.

  • Sounds like your sister is a cheater or at least is/was betraying uou in some manner then and now to your ex. Time to give her the heave-ho too. At least don’t trust her now or in the future. She has told you who she is for real.

    The whole thing stinks and I’m so sorry.

  • My two cents.

    Cent 1: Say to Dad, I learned somethng about Mom and it’s unpleasant. I never want to be dishonest with you. I also don’t want to cause you unnecessary pain or grief. Would you rather know it, or would you rather not hear it?

    Cent 2: If you set up a funeral, that other man guy who participated in huge deception for YEARS can shove it and have his own funeral. I’m with CL that you are totally within reason to drop the funeral reins and walk away and seek your own counsel. If you don’t want to do that because you want to support your Dad, then I refer back to Cent 1. Don’t participate in deceiving Dad, but also you can ask for consent before revealing it all.

    • I mean, I don’t even know our writer or that other man, and I’m so pissed off at him for selfishly feeding our writer the shit sandwich of this revelation, and self-centering during his deception-victims’ grief, that I want to punch the OM square in the face. And I’m not big on punching.

    • I am on Team Tell. But I do very much support telling if he wants to hear it, and I think this is a good approach to open those doors a little. If he says no thanks, you’ve given him the choice, which is more than what mom ever did.

  • I, too, believe secrets are corrosive. And that the truth can explain hidden and heretofore inexplicable currents in a marriage.

    I also tend to think that your father might want to have the right to choose whether to know this fact about your mother. So I would suggest telling him that you have recently been made aware of a fact about your mother that you believe might help explain her behavior in their marriage. And then ask him if he wants to know it. If he doesn’t, don’t force it on him. But do let him know that if he changes his mind you will tell him.

    This is the tack I took with my son when I divorced his closeted father. My son chose not to know, but he knows that he can always come to me and ask.

  • So very painful. The old me would have been accomodating, but no more.

    It’s not clear how the decisions are being made, but I would say no to the other man. Funerals are foremost for families to remember what was. Most funerals these days are broadcast via Zoom, and the sister can send the other man the link if it’s that important to her.

    And I personally wouldn’t tell my father at this time of grief. Maybe later, maybe not. I’d go with my gut on that.

    I chose not to tell our young adults parts of our break-up for the same reason, especially details. They knew enough to know that they didn’t want anything to do with him and have since chosen to go on with their lives. They rarely talk about him. Both are becoming wonderful, responsible adults, and that’s the bottom line for me.

  • Dear Chump Down Under,

    I’m sorry for all the losses you are faced with.
    AP has no right or business in your families world. He gets a NO then NO CONTACT from me. Anything else is a ginormous shit sandwich and we all know finger sandwiches are typically on the menu at funerals – not shit sandwiches.
    I hope this helps, but I’ve emolyed a “no abusers” “no abuse allowed” policy into my life now. People who want to serve me a shit sandwich get BLOCKED. Including my own sibling. Unless there is love and respect there will never be a healthy relationship with another person. And healthy is all I subscribe to.

    Let Little Sister do the heavy lifting of the funeral arrangements. You can select the sandwiches. The End

  • I vote for telling your 80 year old father. Otherwise he will finish his years mourning her and your Mom doesn’t need any undeserved mourning. If she was a good mother for the most part you and your siblings can mourn her about 50% of what you would, right? Tell your Dad to go live his best life- seriously. I would skimp a bit on the funeral expenses- some flowers but not too extravagant. Then take the cost savings and take your Dad golfing or a trip somewhere doing what HE always wanted to do but never did. All the best to you. I watched the shit sandwich of my uncle’s screwing around and what my poor Aunt had to put up with. I know it was very hard on my cousins. Take care.

  • I can’t imagine this happening with my folks; but when I do imagine it, I think of how my father would process it. My Dad would likely immediately internalize, collapse interpersonally, never speak of it, and it probably would contribute to his deterioration. This is in part because my mom is his whole support system. I wish he would be like the male chumps here, and actually be aware of his feelings and be able to articulate them — but if he could articulate values and come from a strong place, I his kid probably wouldn’t be such a chump! So it’s interesting how intellectually I’m like, of course, tell him, and then as soon as I picture applying that to my own hypothetical family I hesitate big time.

    But I do think that a person deserves the truth, and have huge anger toward all the people in my life that have decided on my behalf what I could and could not take hearing. It is a gesture of believing in someone, and reflecting that you believe in their character, to act as if they have the strength to hear the truth.

    The comment about not knowing how much truth there is to AP bloke’s story had me think, perhaps it could be put to Dad like: “Dad, a man called claiming to have had an affair with mum for 12 years, asking to come to the funeral. I told him to stay away.” That way, the information is disclosed without a declaration: “Dad, Mum had an affair for 12 years.” Given what chumps know about fuckwits and APs, the length of an affair isn’t something ChumpDownUnder can pass along to Dad as a certainty.

    • That’s kind of what I was thinking Magnolia. Rather then a huge bomb just state the facts. “Dad, some guy called who says he was with mum and he wants to come to the funeral. I told him no.”

      I also worry though what it will do to him, but for fuck sakes I hated, hated, hated not knowing the truth about my life. I do think that some people would rather not know and just go through life without the pain.

      I feel for you CDU. Your sister hasn’t had to feel the pain of betrayal apparently.

      Big hugs

  • I also found myself reacting very strongly to hearing that ChumpDownUnder’s mom was “an amazing support through all the shitfuckery” of her own divorce and D-Days. What a mindscrew.

    Like, during that time, we are desperate to know the truth, to feel ground under our feet, and know that there are people out there who value honesty and loyalty. To learn that the person offering that support to a Chump was in fact a cheater themselves is just … I find that despicable. And I want to say to ChumpDownUnder that it makes total sense if that part of this mess is particularly hard to process.

    If her support helped and you are on the other side of crisis because of her help … I am glad for YOU. (And frustrated for what that says about people being fricking complicated. Gah!)

  • Dear Chump DU, I am so sorry for you. The death of a parent is tough enough without a tale of cheating and a at the very least a sister who seriously lacks empathy.

    As for telling your dad, tread lightly an read the signs. I say this because you are the only one on this forum who knows your family’s particular distinction. When my dad died suddenly my mom went into defcon 1 mode when it came to protecting his memory and the outside appearance of their relationship. She even refused an autopsy just in case his drinking played a part in his death. One of my sisters has a habit of refusing to honor my mom’s fantasies and would often speak the truth about just how fucked up things really were when we were children. Mom kicked her out preemptively and has not spoken to her in years. Mom told me in private that she was afraid sis would drop an bomb on her regarding my dad and cheating and she did not want to hear it. She would rather lose a daughter than hear a difficult truth that contradicts her carefully crafted narrative.

  • I have a friend who walked in on her dad fucking another woman when she was 14. She never said a word to anyone. When she was in her early 20s, her father died suddenly. The other woman came to the funeral. She was driving with her brother after the funeral, and she told her brother. She found out her brother already knew. The mother knew. They were ‘protecting’ her by not telling her. Holding on to that secret for those years really really messed with her head. The other woman at the funeral messed with her head. She has stayed single her entire life.

    My mom died last year and my dad is in his mid-80s. Truth is a good thing—but at the same time, dealing with the loss of a spouse is hard enough on older people. I can’t imagine if my dad had to wrap his head around something like that. I feel like it’s pulling the pin on a grenade and tossing it right over to him.

    So yeah, this is so difficult. and that dude is such an asshole for telling you all this! you know he wanted the mom to tell all those years—and now he finally had his chance to tell. It’s almost like he wants your dad to know, so part of me is like, don’t give him the satisfaction! but yeah, he might have a lot of confusion around his own life and wonder why it all felt the way it did.

    oh, and your sister—she’s got some secrets of her own, for sure. but yes—like everyone else—i sure wish someone had told me. But, i actually did have a friend tell me how my X came on to her—and at the time, i did NOT want to hear it. oh lord, how i wish i had listened.. wish i had thought more of myself than to put up with that shit.

  • I couldn’t disagree with the ‘tell him’ camp more.

    As every single chump can attest, nobody outside of a marriage knows what goes on in it. Who’s to say the father didn’t already know and was protecting his wife’s image with the kids. Or, maybe things became ‘awful’ on both of their parts. Maybe dad had issues too. Do the kids seriously think that the only thing going on in their parents lives was what they saw? That kind of assumption is like a swift kick to the gut to all of us who lived through horrible, hidden circumstances.

    To the argument that Dad needs to have full agency on what ‘his life’ actually was–this is not only another gigantic assumption, but the man is a newly grieving 80 year old widower! What is the possible gain of heaping MORE catastrophic pain onto the poor mans lap? The kids might have an argument for gently letting him know in the future, after he’s begun putting his life back together, but not while he’s in the throes of coming to grips with this kind of loss.

    His wife is gone, those kids no longer have to be concerned with what an affair can cost their dad, UNLESS of course they choose to force the poor guy into having to face an AP while he’s trying to bury his wife. Where’s the dignity in that? And more importantly, what’s the upside? That they’re empathetic with an AP because their mother was awful?? WTF? How is that showing empathy for, or being supportive of their dad?

    I get that this community has always been about full disclosure, but the timing of this isn’t an appropriate case for that.They should tell the AP he is not welcome, period. They should also put aside the sibling argument and help their dad grieve. After he’s had a chance to start putting a life back together, THEN they can decide if telling him is the kindest and most charitable thing to do.

    • I disagree. The daughter privately telling the father about the revelations is the right thing to do. If he already knows, then it will probably lift a burden from him because he will be able to be more honest about his feelings with his daughter. If he didn’t know, then in this case it will probably bring a measure of relief, given how difficult the marriage was. On D-Day I felt two things: a sinking in my stomach due to the knowledge that everything I’d devoted 8 years of my life to was over, and a sense of relief, knowing that I hadn’t been crazy in the past, that my instincts were spot-on, and that I could now make sense of why he had become emotionally unavailable and critical of me at that time. I am very glad that I know. If anyone close to me had known and not told me (even if they had significantly delayed telling me) I would have felt betrayed by them, too. This man has already lost his wife. He doesn’t need to lose the chance to have a close and honest relationship with his daughter, which can only come exist with a foundation of honesty and trust.

  • I’m firmly in the “tell him” camp. Otherwise, you are being deceitful. Could you bring it up with your dad as “ I just heard this news,dad. It is very upsetting but you should know what I was told.”
    After all, it is just news to you. Withholding the truth only helps the guilty. It doesn’t sound like you want to be complicit in the OM’s secret life.

    • I wrote this independently of Irrelevant’s post above. I just read hers after I posted. Mine was in no way a response to Irrelevant’s post; she has some good points. It’s definitely a tough decision & I wish with all my heart, ChumpDownUnder, that you weren’t grieving & weren’t shocked and betrayed. My condolences to you for both of these losses.

  • For what it’s worth, I’d plan the funeral and honor my mother, disallow the affair partner from attending (he can find other, private ways to grieve her loss), then let the dust settle and, eventually and in the kindest way possible, tell my dad. Maybe with a rabbi present if you think that would be helpful.

    There’s a million reasons not to tell him and a million reasons to tell him. When you’re facing a situation with competing reasoning, it’s always the better choice to align with honesty. And, you don’t have to tell him your mom cheated…in fact, you aren’t certain of that–you only have the word from a supposed affair partner. But what you can tell him is that just before mom’s funeral, a stranger to you came forward and said he had been in a romantic relationship with mom for several years…and that you felt a filial duty to give him this information. And now, he knows all you know.

  • The writer will have to judge her father’s physical and mental health, and make a decision whether to tell him the truth.

    I’d wonder if this other man is telling the truth. But I am a natural skeptic

    I would also wonder if her father had his own affair(s) at some point in the marriage

    Facts would help

  • It really depends on the dad’s mental health. There are 80 years old who can handle this information and there are others who can’t.
    I would want to know if I would be in his shoes.

    I find the sister’s reaction appealing – ” found some love”. Would she be happy if her husband found some love outside the marriage?
    Surely the sister has seen what the author describes – the mother was nasty to the father, but happy to fuck another guy.

    What makes this situation so extraordinary is, that it shatters a lifetime memory. The mother who was supportive during the author’s divorce was a cheating liar. We all experience this change:
    I thought I was in a happy marriage, after I found out about her cheating – I can not pick any time in our marriage which I remember as good. Our wedding day? An expensive charade where she lied through her teeth.

    But we can rebuild; we can create a new life, where we are in charge.

    The cheating mother is dead – how do you chose what memories you keep?
    It’s incredibly difficult.

  • Definitely get the word out. If he’s bold enough to call now, who knows he may turn up at the funeral home posing as a family member and take momentous etc. the timing is always bad for these revelations and combined with a death it’s awful. Look after yourself and go where you know you’ll get unconditional support.


    When in doubt, get a great therapist to help you resolve a dilemma.

    Like individuals, families are as sick as their secrets. The first thing I learned in recovery decades ago is that one of the hallmark symptoms of troubled families is keeping secrets.

    Whenever I encounter a situation that I don’t know how to handle, I take it to my therapist. She knows everything about me and my family history, and she’s very skilled at what she does. This sounds like the perfect situation to get some experienced and competent outside help with.


    • This is great advice. I would certainly talk to both a therapist and perhaps your father’s religious leader for some insight into how to handle what you know.

  • I’m in camp tell. The truth does set us free. The lies are oppressive and they can drive a chump mad. On the flip side your dad may know already, and with you both being cheated on it may provide some healing for you both to openly discuss. I’ve honestly felt like if I could know the truth of it all it would help me. My stbx is almost sociopathic with his ability to hide things, and the amount I do know is just enough to cause the brain to do a lot of heavy lifting and acrobatics. From the pain the lies have caused me and lost life that I can’t recover, I’d say tell your dad and maybe it will set him free in a way too.

  • Just because you are the oldest, you don’t have to plan the funeral. Follow CL’s advice on this one.

    Regarding the OM, spend a few dollars and hire security. This man should be ashamed to intrude on your family at this time, but I guess since he was willing to have this long-term affair, well, we shouldn’t be surprised that he has NO boundaries.

    One thing to look out for: of course you are going to be “triggered” (this is a terrible word, one that suggests you are an object or machine that can be controlled) by this revelation. But once you are past the worst shock of discovering that a second person you love is a cheater, be scrupulous about NOT conflating the betrayal of your husband with what you have learned about your mother’s life. That’s not to say that both aren’t painful or that you don’t need to process them, but you will have a harder time getting to Meh in either case if you lump the two together. I caught my mother cheating when I was in college, so I have some idea what you are dealing with (minus the funeral crasher and the weekend trips). But there was enough time between cheating events in my situation that I never identified what Jackass did with what my mother did.

    I’m so sorry that your mother passed while you are still dealing with the emotional fallout from betrayal. And I’m sorry you had to learn her secret. But one thing that is worth thinking about is how her duplicity and absence might have led you to be less suspicious about what your X was up to. That is, I think being raised by a deceptive parent may incline us to sparkle signs of deception in romantic partners. Jus something to think about.

  • First, to ChumpDownUnder, my condolences on your losses — losing your mum, and losing part of your reality. It hurts when you find out your mum wasn’t who you thought she was or that your sis truly doesn’t see your old, deep pain behind this new pain.

    This is a hard situation. Honestly, I can’t imagine telling my 84-year old dad this. So, for all reading this, I have no illusions that it will be easy either telling him or keeping the secret.

    Yet, based on what I have learned in the past couple of years, I am in Camp Tell. If you really don’t want to tell — don’t read on, but if you want some good reasons to not be part of the ongoing untruth…

    I am in Camp Tell because it is the right thing to do. How can you tell if it’s the right thing to do? Almost 100% of the time the right thing to do is the HARD thing to do. What’s the harder thing to do here? Tell your father or not tell your father? My guess is telling him is the hard thing to do.

    Secondly, Always Be Trustworthy. The only thing that matters between two humans is trust. Think about it: is there really anything else? How do you think your dad would feel if he were to find out he was the only one who did NOT know? Sure, he might question why you had to tell him or be mad at you for telling him. But do you really want to take the risk that he would look at you and say, “ChumpDownUnder, of all people, you KNEW and you did not tell me the truth. Instead you were willing to let me be the ONLY one who didn’t know.” Could you bear losing his trust?

    Third. Family Secrets = SUCK. period. hard stop. Family Secrets protect the guilty under the guise of protecting someone else. Respect him. Tell him. And while you are at it, tell him your sis was too chickenshit to tell him. And while you are at it, tell him if you had known any time in the past you would have told him then. And tell him you are also protecting him from the AP’s potential schemes. And that on the chance that he knew or suspected, that you wanted to lift the burden of the Family Secret from him. Why? Because, Family Secrets = SUCK. period. hard stop. And you are not a fucking Family Secret accomplice. period. hard stop.

    And then set up an appointment with a therapist or a counselor for you, him or both of you together and stand by him in his multi-faceted grief.

    CDU, thank you for sharing your story and your pain. Reading through the comments I do see so many names of folks from a few years ago when my Chump Grief was so fresh and I came to this blog often. To all of you in the comments thread, hugs. Surviving infidelity definitely gives you the twisties, and seeing your user names again, I want to say I hope you are sticking the landing.

  • I am so sorry this is happening. Death, D-day, and Dbag all at the same time. Please tell your dad. I hope he chooses to bury/cremate your mom privately. As for the Dbag, call security if he shows up.

  • I think a quote from Sam Harris (not everyone’s favourite, I know…) would be helpful here.

    “When we presume to lie for the benefit of others, we have decided that we are the best judges of how much they should understand about their own lives.”

    In other words, by not telling your father, you are deciding for yourself what is best for him. You aren’t permitting him the knowledge he needs to view the situation as it really is and act accordingly, essentially removing his autonomy from him. Ask yourself, who are you to do that? Of course, your intentions are honorable and borne only out of love for your father. It may well be painful or it may well be liberating for him. You don’t know, but I think that is beside the point. You love him and want what’s best for him. To give him the best you have let him decide for himself what “the best” really is, with full knowledge of all the facts. However he responds, however anyone responds, we owe those around us the truth, all of it.

    I think others chipping in with their ill-considered advice (myself included!) can be safely ignored, if you choose to do so. It’s undoubtedly a tough decision and one that maybe you should come to on your own. It’s easy for us to chip in from the other side of the world without actually having to do it ourselves.

    Having said all of that, I think whatever you decide to do, you can be sure that you had good intentions and find some peace either way. Best of luck.

    • I would have to agree with you DC. Unless the older person has diminished capacity, making unilateral decisions regarding their life is disrespectful to them as a person. I’m considered an old person these days and I would very much resent my son treating me as less than capable. Yes some elderly people are fragile, but the vast majority of us would really hate being treated as though we have no say so in their own lives.

      That being said, personally, I would definitely couch the news to my father as this strange guy has come forward with these assertions, I don’t know if they are true or not, but I am banning him from the funeral. What do you think, Dad?

  • I fall in the camp of being suspicious of the so called AP. If he is the only source of information about this affair, why come forward and tell you now? He could have attended the funeral, or requested to, as a friend. There was no need to throw this hand grenade into your family at this particular time.

    People are so strange. He may have a grudge against your father, or mother, and want to stir the pot. You have two separate issues as I see it. You need to bury your mother, and then you need to decide to investigate, or not.

    When my father died, I didn’t need any additional information, nor did my siblings, nor did my mother, about who my dad really was. We knew enough. If he has any additional transgressions, they are in the past and done and we do not need to know more about something we can do nothing about. My dad had many faults, he generally did not have a good or happy life. He created most of his own misery, and tried to “share” his miserable state with his family. Do you really need to have details, considering that?

    My mother has dementia now. Do I need to bring up any bad stories from the past to upset her? What would she do with the information? My dad is dead, that is an opportunity to put his memory to rest. The accuracy of any of our memories is really not pertinent to anything.

    What would be gained, at this time, by telling your dad something about your mother that may or may not be true? If you think it is true, can you prove it without the testimony of the AP? Do you want to spend your time investigating? If so, my advice would be to resist jumping to a conclusion that may or may not be accurate and bury your mother. Then investigate, if you wish. Then decide whether or not to tell your dad, with evidence. Then, what do you think will happen? Will you feel better? Will your dad? It’s your family, only you can answer these questions.

  • Yes, funeral bouncers are a thing. We get these requests regularly. We usually enlist a not-so-immediate family member for help identifying and intervening on their entrance, with our doorman joining in as necessary to dissuade the person from entering.

    The challenge here may be that OP doesn’t know who this guy is or what he looks like (I’m guessing).

    Which leaves OP with the task of saying, “You are not welcome at the funeral. Do not come.”

    OR perhaps enlist sister that thinks this was so ‘go on Mom’ to figure out who OM is and disallow his entry – if she declines to help, then I guess Dad will find out at the funeral – does sister want this?

  • Dear ChumpDownUnder, please free yourself you owe it to everyone involved. Getting a divorce at age 72 is not the norm, when my attorney asked ” why do you want to get divorce at this age ” I told her my ex had lead a double life for many years and just now revealed it to me.. She replied ” who didn’t he just keep is GD mouth shut?” I am so glad I found out about his serial cheating before he died. At least I got to speak my piece to him, get a divorce, and live my own life now. Yes it hurt me, devastated my children and rearranged our entire lives. But YES your father deserves to know his real life story. He may have things to share with you and your sister that he is hurting keeping to himself. If you were in his place would you want to know? The truth will eventually come out, no matter what you do. Know that.

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