The Yomiuri ShimbunDear Troubleshooter:
I’m an 18-year-old preparing for university entrance exams after having graduated from high school. My mother’s extramarital affair is bothering me.
I found about her affair when I was in the fifth grade of elementary school. I happened to see letters in my mother’s organizer that included words like, “I love you” and “I want to see you more.” I also noticed that a man with the same name as in the letters was sending messages to my mother’s mobile phone. I was certain that she was in love with a man other than my father.
When I was in junior high school, my mother began coming home later and later. One day, my father found out about her infidelity. He left home and didn’t return for a week.
Although my father came back, after a month or so my mother returned to how she was before. She often went out and didn’t cook dinner for us. So I had to cook my own meals. I couldn’t tell my friends about what was going on. It was hard to carry this feeling alone.
My father must know that the affair is still going on but doesn’t say anything about it. My mother is a cheerful person, and everybody likes her. At the same time, she has an unfaithful side. I like my mother as a person, but I don’t like her as a mother. What should I do?
O, Osaka Prefecture
Dear Ms. O:
You grew up in a family having to endure some pain. You’re a strong person. You are calmly observing your parents’ situation. On top of that, you reject her as a mother but still accept her as a person and haven’t lost your affection toward her.
Your father is putting up with this absurd situation without separating from his unfaithful wife. This probably means that your mother has some sort of charm that keeps her from being judged based on social norms.
You are an 18-year-old and are just about to become an adult.
I think it’s smart to leave the matter up to your parents as they have a responsibility to bring an end to the issue, and prioritize your own life.
You said you are now preparing for an entrance exam. If you want to study at university, tackle that goal first and look ahead to a future of independence, living separately from your parents.
Then, suggest “a breakup” to your parents and build individual relationships with your father and mother.
Troubles in closed family relationships only lead to dead ends. Your independence might help your parents’ relationship fall into place. I wish you the best of luck.
Megumi Hisada, writer