DEAR ABBY: My 13-year-old son, “Wiley,” was playing a game on my cellphone. I stupidly forgot to delete a short video of myself engaged in a sex act with my ex-husband, “Cliff.” Wiley didn’t confront me or mention it, but given his sudden change in behavior, I’m almost certain he saw it.
The next morning I mentioned it and apologized, hoping we could get past the awkwardness, but Wiley wouldn’t admit this is what’s bothering him. He acted as if he didn’t know what I was talking about. Now he’s shutting down. He won’t talk to me. He’s off in his own world as if I’m a stranger, where a few days before we would laugh, share and trust each other.
I divorced Cliff because he and my son didn’t get along, but in the last six months we have been secretly having an affair and we ultimately want to get back together when Wiley is 18. My son doesn’t approve of him, and he’s angry about it.
I’m worried and embarrassed that he saw me doing what I was doing in that few seconds of video, and I don’t want to scar him or have him think differently of me. Wiley’s father has been no help, and I suspect adds fuel to our son’s anger during his weekend visitations. I tried therapy for Wiley — it didn’t help. Do you have any suggestions? — MORTIFIED IN ARIZONA
DEAR MORTIFIED: I’m printing your letter because, once again, it illustrates the danger of putting videos of a sexual nature on cellphones. I can think of few people of any age who don’t prefer to think of themselves as products of immaculate conception, and your son is no exception.
Because Cliff and Wiley’s relationship was so poor the three of you couldn’t coexist under one roof, discovering that you are once more intimately involved with your ex must have been traumatic and threatening to Wiley. It might reassure him to know that your seeing Cliff does not mean you will be living together anytime soon.
In the meantime, I recommend that you talk with a therapist to help you cope with the changed relationship you now have with your son. It’s a shame that Wiley’s father has used this unfortunate incident for his own selfish purposes. Divorced couples must remember that they have to love their child more than they hate each other.
DEAR ABBY: A year and a half ago, I reconnected with “Paul.” We were in grade school together and hadn’t seen each other for many years. We have been extremely happy and want to spend our remaining years together.
Because of our ages (we’re both seniors) and separate families and incomes, we feel marriage is not what we’d like to do. But we would like to move in together.
Would it be ridiculous for us to do that without being married? Will the world condemn us? Will our children understand or ostracize us? How do we handle questions about why we have chosen not to marry? —IN LOVE IN LOUISIANA
DEAR IN LOVE: Many older couples do what you are considering because being married would negatively affect their retirement income. If your children like Paul — and his children like you — I doubt you will be ostracized. Most adult children want their parents to be happy.
If you’re worried about how the community will react to your living arrangement, consider talking to a clergyperson about being “married in the eyes of God.” As to questions about why you have chosen not to marry, apart from your family, it is nobody’s business and you are not obligated to discuss it.