I have a FOFriend [I’ll call her Alice] who has been married for decades to an emotionally abusive man with a hair trigger temper. Whatever joy Alice felt decades ago has trickled away. Her husband has taken care of her financially; they’ve raised three children and their sex life is pretty good. Besides having an explosive temper, her husband doesn’t care about Alice’s thoughts, opinions, advice or passions. He is king of the manor and that’s all there is to it.
Alice is a petite and pretty woman, with a compassionate and giving nature. She is one of the most psychologically astute people I know, and understands herself better than most people.
Alice never looked at another man or entertained separating from her husband, that is, until about four months ago, when she began an affair with a [unhappily] married man. She and her “lover” talk incessantly “about everything” and he makes Alice feel smart, something her husband never does. She says she’s in love.
The other evening Alice left her cell phone on the table and her 19-year-old daughter read a text message that revealed her affair. “My daughter became hysterical and told me, ‘I’m going to tell daddy if you don’t. He deserves to know,’” Alice told me. Since then, Alice’s daughter has threatened her a few times. She’s written lengthy text messages telling Alice how she’s hurting her and her siblings. She’s also told her siblings what happened.
Alice is obviously in a pretty tough predicament. Putting aside the morality of the situation (I, for one, completely understand her actions and do not condemn them one bit), what do you think Alice should say to her daughter and what should she do?