Was I Wrong Expose Her

Question: Dear Luise: My daughter-in-law has been cheating on my son. When I first got wind of it, I did some digging into her Internet activity and into the phone records of her cell phone (which I pay for) and found evidence that proved my suspicions. My son was already heartsick about his worries, and I gave him the information because I felt he had a right to know what she was doing. Up until this I didn’t really like or dislike my daughter-in-law, but after I gave him this information, she sent me a staggering email accusing me of ruining their lives and telling me she hated me more than an abusive parent she had been raised by, that I was horrible, and that she would never let me see my granddaughter again. (Her infidelity didn’t cause the breakup, I did!) Was I wrong to give my son this evidence? L.

Answer: Dear L.: Does it feel wrong? Sometimes we really don’t know for sure until after we have done something whether it was the right thing to do or not. Also, nothing is all right or all wrong and time can change the outcome. Your son may marry more wisely next time and thank you. Who knows?

In retrospect, it might have been better to step back and let it play itself out. But what if he had kept blinders on for years, you may ask? Well, “it’s his life, his choice, his mistake and his lesson” is a possible answer. That approach would have entailed not following-up on your suspicions at all.

A Catch 22 lies in the actual situation that played out because once you knew, if you hadn’t spoken up and he eventually found out that you knew, you would probably have been in trouble. There are lots of ways of looking at this.

The nasty letter was from her not him. That’s an important point to consider.

What worries me is the method you used…called “doing some digging” and your justification that since you paid the bill you were entitled. It’s all water under the bridge now but paying for something, in this case a cell phone bill, is not a gift if you think payment erases privacy.

Your ex-daughter-in-law can’t keep you from your granddaughter because she can’t keep her from your son. He will see that you get to be with her.

Look for lessons for yourself in all of this and do the best you can to support your son and granddaughter as they move through it. One of the hardest things for a mother of an adult to learn, and this comes from first-hand experience on my part, is the difference between being supportive and being intrusive. We have to learn to back off and let go. Blessings, Luise

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