**This is a work of nonfiction based on actual events as told to me by a family friend, who experienced them firsthand; used with permission.
Family dynamics can be complicated, and that certainly proved true in the case of my cousin’s best friend. After his wife revealed that she was carrying a love child — fathered by his father — he and their entire family were shocked.
The secret was revealed at a family gathering more than two years ago. You could have heard a pin drop after she uttered those shocking words, “I’m pregnant.”
“I was elated at first because we both wanted to have a second child,” my cousin’s best friend, “Scott,” told me. “But then she said the words that would change our family forever, ‘it’s not yours,’ I couldn’t believe it.”
His wife then confessed to their family and friends that she was in love with her father-in-law and had been having an affair with him for some time.
Scott and his father were estranged following his parent’s split ten years prior, and he had not seen him for quite some time. He was completely blindsided.
“The affair began after my wife intercepted a call from my dad, and they started speaking regularly,” Scott said. “I’m not sure which of them made the first move, but things escalated quickly.”
After the announcement, Scott’s wife left him and moved in with his father. She had the baby, a little girl, seven months later. They share custody of their seven-year-old son, so he sees her twice a month when he picks up his son.
Needless to say, the situation has caused a lot of pain for both of their families.
“I think it will always be awkward,” Scott said. “Of course, I’m not sure if I will ever forgive my father or ex-wife, but I’m trying to move on and make the best of an impossible situation.
“I still can’t get used to the fact that my son’s baby sister is also my half-sister,” Scott said. “It's mindblowing. How am I supposed to wrap my head around that?”
It’s a strange and complicated situation that Scott is trying to accept as best he can. His family has rallied around him and helped him through the difficult transition from marriage to being a single father. It’s not easy, but with their help, he’s trying to stay positive and move forward.
When infidelity happens between family members
“As messy as infidelity is when it takes place during business travel or with a co-worker or neighbor, its vastly more difficult to survive and recover from when the person your partner cheats with is an in-law, member of your extended family, or a close friend.” — Abe Kass, Psych Central
Unfortunately, Scott’s predicament is not unique. Countless families all over the world have experienced similar heartache due to an affair between family members.
Extramarital affairs are challenging to cope with under any circumstance, but the situation can become overwhelming when it is between family members. In addition to feeling betrayed, there may be confusion, shame, and anger.
Then there are the complications of navigating the family dynamics moving forward. Boundaries must be set, and conversations about the affair may be necessary.
Moving forward and rebuilding
“Infidelity is a complex and painful experience that can cost both members of a relationship dearly.” — Mark Travers Ph.D.
No matter how difficult the situation is, it is possible to move forward and repair the damage caused by an affair within a family. It does take time, effort, and a lot of patience.
It’s essential to have an open dialogue between everyone involved, even if that means cutting cords and severing certain relationships. It may be necessary to seek professional help for counseling or legal advice.
Above all, it’s important to remember that everyone is going through a difficult time and should be handled compassionately.
As for my cousin’s best friend, Scott, he’s still trying to make sense of the situation and rebuild his life. He says that he is learning how to accept what happened for himself and the sake of his son.
“There’s no doubt that I would have responded very differently if it weren’t for my son,” he said. “But I want to make sure that our family is the healthiest it can be, so I’m taking things one day at a time.”
No matter how complicated a situation is, it’s possible to find ways to cope and rebuild. It may be a long and challenging process, but it’s possible. Scott is living proof of that.
What would you do if you were in a similar situation? Would you be able to find a way to move forward? Let us know in the comments.