More Secret Love

Dear Relationshipper,

My daughter is 25, bright, smart, pretty, has a college degree, has her own condo, a nice car.  She's an elementary-school teacher in a mid-size town and seems to be respected and liked by students as well as their parents.

For the past year she has been "dating" a successful local businessman who has been married for at least 15 years with 4 kids.  He seems to really have feelings for my daughter and treats her well but I think the whole thing is insane and can only end badly.  His wife is constantly pictured in the local society page and he's never in the pictures with her although he's mentioned as being her husband.  My daughter said his wife doesn't care what he does as long as he doesn't publicly embarrass her, provides her and the kids with the lifestyle they're used to, and stays with the family until the youngest is 18 which is still several years away.

My daughter told me about this because she felt guilty deceiving me about his status.  Her father is unaware of the circumstances and just thinks she's a pretty girl who dates but hasn't met the right guy yet.  Telling him is NOT an option.

Do you see any possibility of a good ending for this?

Upset Mother

Dear Upset Mother,

Watching our loved ones, children especially, willingly step into a great big mess is a hard thing to handle.  We feel that by will alone we can fix everything for them.  Women are notorious for attempting to mend every little problem for each member of her family.  But there’s one thing preventing you from helping your daughter in this situation: she hasn’t asked you for help.

Sure, there’s probably some elaborate scheme you could cook up, ala a Lifetime Movie, but when it comes down to it, if you meddle in this relationship, it will probably do more harm than good.  That doesn’t mean you have to give your approval, certainly – you should be candid with your daughter about how you feel.  However, if you order your daughter to leave him or admonish her for her actions, she may begin to resent you.

Unfortunately, we all have a tendency to get a bit deaf and blind when it comes to love.  There’s nothing you can say or do that will cause your daughter to leave this married man. Often, when people have married or unavailable mates, it’s because they don’t feel worthy of a “real” relationship.  Perhaps this is the case with your daughter.  Try to focus on the reason she is with him, rather than just the fact that she is with him.  If you can figure out the reason she is with a married man, you may be able to counsel her into realizing why she is doing this – all in a non-judgmental way, of course.  If you are able to enlighten her that the reason she is doing this is because of an insecurity in herself, the better chances are that she will leave him when and if she begins to contemplate that.

Other than that, I’m afraid you’ll just have to wait this one out.  Just remember: this situation isn’t about you, it’s about your daughter.  And unfortunately, this is her mistake to make.

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