Artwork: Tess Emily Rodriguez
She’s made all the mistakes, so you don’t have to… Ask Erin is a weekly advice column, in which Erin answers your burning questions about anything at all.
My oldest daughter is having an affair with my husband, her stepdad.
This has been going on for years already. She had a baby, and at this point, I don’t really know if it's my husband's or her so-called ex-boyfriend.
I found a picture on my husband's phone of her sending nude pictures to him.
What can I do? Should I confront him? Should I confront her? Should I confront them both?
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I wish I could say I’ve never received a question like this before. But I have.
I have received some variation of the daughter-stepfather affair multiple times.
I answered one a couple of years ago, and readers were shocked. But it seems it’s more common than we think.
There is a lot to unpack here, and I have a lot of questions, but let’s get into some essential advice on handling this.
Let’s first start with the infidelity. Your husband has betrayed you. It is not clear to me whether or not you have confronted him in the past. You mentioned it’s been going on for years, but then ask if you should confront them. If you have yet to confront him, yes, tell him that you know, that you have evidence.
But before you do anything, please, please, make an appointment with a therapist.
You need someone outside of the situation who can help guide you through what will be a minefield of emotions, with both your husband and daughter.
How you proceed with him, with some outside help, is going to be dependent on unknown factors. Did your daughter grow up with your husband as her stepfather? Did the affair start when she was an adult? If she lived with him as a minor, did he groom her for this?
The next appointment you need to make is with a family law attorney. This is not as simple as my spouse had an affair-let’s go to counseling-I can forgive him. You need some guidance on getting out of this marriage, getting your finances in order, etc., so you can make get out.
I don’t think it’s possible to repair your relationship with your husband after this level of betrayal.
Because he hasn’t just fractured your marriage, he’s damaged your relationship with your daughter. So let’s talk about your daughter. Again, I really think that making a plan of action with a therapist is needed in this situation.
I am hopeful that with time and a lot of therapy, you can repair and rebuild a relationship with your daughter. Maybe it won’t be what it was before, but I don’t believe you should throw away any possibility of reconnecting.
I hope that you do get some counseling. If you need help finding a therapist in your area, please email me again. As it’s been years, and you have yet to take action, I don’t want you to sit with this denial any longer.
You need to get out of this marriage and break this toxic facade.
I know this may feel overwhelming. You don’t have to do this alone. You don’t have to take every step at once. But you can’t pretend it’s not happening.
Your silence is not serving any of you. If you have a friend or family member you trust, please confide in them. I want you to have available the largest support system possible.
Regarding the paternity of your grandchild, let’s put that aside for the moment. That can be dealt with later. And whatever the outcome, please remember that your grandchild is innocent in all this. You are still that baby’s grandmother, no matter what. Your grandchild needs you.
The only way out is through.
Taking that first step may feel scary, but I promise it won’t on the other side of this. You only have to go through this once. Take back control over what you can control — your actions. You can do this.
The information within Ask Erin should in no way be interpreted as medical advice because I’m not a medical professional. But I am here to help — to share with you the wisdom I’ve gained after years of making mistakes. If you have a question for me about relationships, addiction, dating, friendships, depression, parenting, sex, consent, what I’m watching, what I’m reading, Chrysocolla, or anything at all, use the contact form below or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, your anonymity is golden. Lastly, I’m so excited to share with you my Ask Erin Self-Care Guide, free when you sign up for my weekly newsletter. xoxo