My father is having an extramarital affair. Help!

Question: My parents have been married for 26 years, and we were a happy family. Unfortunately, my father's is having an affair with a married woman who has two kids for the past two years. His behaviour towards us (my mother and I) has changed drastically. He considers us a burden and has started neglecting us. We always see him chatting with her, sending her messages and talking with her for long hours. There is no doubt that they might be having a physical relationship as well. This entire situation has become a torture for us. Please advise what should I do?– By Anonymous

Response by Rachana Awatramani : I understand that you are in a difficult situation as your father's behaviour towards you and your mother has changed because he is having an affair with a married woman. Firstly, I appreciate that you have shared your concerns here and I know that you want to make the situation at home better as it was before like a happy family. Though it may be difficult on many levels for you to deal with this situation, I would request you to respect and stay out of your parents' marriage concerns. It's in everyone's best interest–including yours. Although it is their concern, I am sure you are not immune to its impact as well. But the fact is that this is a relationship problem between them (two grown up individuals) and they need to resolve it.

Your father might be expecting something from the relationship which he is not getting, and similarly your mother might be having certain expectations. This situation can be better handled between them through communication and they need to figure out what has changed and things that need to be worked on. They can consider for marriage counselling also.

Depending on the situation, I would suggest that you can speak to your father and ask him what is it that has caused this behaviour change and how it can be improved and you can express your feelings and emotions of feeling neglected and tortured by him. You can tell him that you miss how you were a happy family.

A relationship is a big investment of time, emotions, feelings and finances. It is also an investment which is done by both partners. And when someone has spent a lot of time in one relationship, sometimes it becomes monotonous and then a partner seeks for change and excitement from outside. Such incidents then become emotionally painful for the other partner. As I said earlier, relationship is an investment and its not onetime investment, it's a continuous investment which has to be done by both of them and not one, therefore if you are unable to speak to your father you can speak to your mother. Your parents have to communicate and decide on how they want to take this relationship forward.

It is an emotionally difficult situation for you, therefore I would suggest a few tips that can help you cope better: first, speak to a friend or a sibling about the situation, you can also meet a counsellor. Next, you can express your feelings and emotions to your parents if the situation permits. You can maintain a dairy to express your thoughts. Try and build a separate relationship with each of your parent, and focus on your life rather than trying to solve their problems.

-Ms Rachana Awatramani is a Counselling Psychologist in Mumbai

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