When I was in college, one of my best friends discovered a horrible truth: Her father was not actually her mother's husband, as she had thought. In fact, her mother was his mistress, because her father was married to another woman. Her father had started a relationship with her mom years before she was born and continued seeing her after the birth of two children. The knowledge of this truth crushed her, and she suffered years of sorrow, depression, lack of confidence and disappointment as a result.
The wife of this unfaithful man found out about this relationship many years later, when their children were already adolescents. They ended up staying married while her husband kept the two families, dividing his time between the two women and children from both relationships.
After the truth came to light, however, the children of the lover, and the sons of the wife, met due to legal procedures that were necessary to establish financial support. They demanded their father to do the right thing and separate from his lover.
Instead, this man told his lover that he was willing to divorce his wife and stay with her. She told him that she could not live with that choice and ended their relationship.
Eventually, his wife forgave him and he has stayed faithful to her since.
Not long ago, the former mistress and mother of my friend, contacted me and asked me to publish these letters she wrote, with the condition that they remain anonymous. Here are her letters:
"To the wife of my 'ex-husband':
After several attempts to reach out to you throughout the years, you still do not want to hear what I have to say, judging me only as "the other woman," but I have some things I'd like you to know.
First, please forgive me. This was never what I planned for my life. I grew up in a good family, full of dreams, especially that of having a happy family of my own someday. I never imagined that family would come through someone else's husband.
It doesn't seem to matter anymore how or when your husband and I began to get involved, so many years have passed and we are no longer together. I want you to know that I am aware of how many sleepless nights you spent worried about where your husband was, and with whom. And after finding out, I know you shed many tears.
I am guilty. I could have ended the relationship when I found out he was married. But I had no self-esteem whatsoever after having just escaped an abusive relationship and accepted any love he gave me. After discovering that I was pregnant, I was even more attached to the situation. It was not an easy life, especially seeing my children marginalized for being the children of a married man. It was not easy for me, and it was much less for them. I know it was even worse for you. No woman should have to go through what you went through. I sincerely apologize from the bottom of my heart.
I accept responsibility for my poor judgment and wrong choices, maintaining the relationship so my children could have a father around. Maybe there were other options, but with all my insecurities, I did not know what else to do. Please forgive me for that too.
I know that it is hard to forgive and forget completely, but if there is a spark of empathy in you, I beg that you give it to me and my children. My children are not guilty of the choices that your husband and I made.
I respect and admire your ability to forgive your husband and hope to receive the same gift."
She also wrote another letter to her "ex-husband":
"To the love of my life,
I could list here all the reasons why I love you, even after all these years apart, and thank you for fulfilling your role as a father, being present while our children were growing up and helping in their support.
I could also blame you for lying about not being married when we first met until I fell in love with you, but I know that I am partially to blame as well. So forgive me for wanting you, and for wanting to know that you wanted me too. While I know I could have disappeared from your life early on, at the same time I know that you would have just replaced me with someone else. I could have started over, but did not know how to do it and instead, let the years pass by. And now I get to endure the bitterness of solitude while you live with your lovely family, which you never should have betrayed.
Now that we are separated, I appreciate that you have continued to be the great father you are. This has really helped our children to overcome the traumatic and painful truth.
Please never forget something: Even though you claimed your wife pushed you to the point where cheating was the only option, you should not have done it. You concluded too quickly that there was no way to fix your marriage problems, and if we overcame our problems without being married, you could have achieved this with your wife.
Through the eyes of God, you and I were adulterers. I regret it bitterly, although we had two beautiful children, and I hope the Lord will one day forgive me for all the pain my bad choices caused you, your family and especially our children. Be happy."
In preparing this article, I asked this lady what advice she would give to couples in the same situation. She didn't feel like she was the best person to give advice, but I insisted, and she replied:
"If you are a woman, never subject to being the mistress of a married man. It is a life of suffering, and the children who come of this relationship and the children of your lover's wife do not deserve the suffering this will cause them. Even if there are no children, believe me, it is not worth throwing your life away for a lie.
If you are a man, never look for a lover or accept the advances of anyone other than your wife. Never destroy the life of a vulnerable woman emotionally for any reason. Your family is the most sacred thing you have. Be faithful to God and do not make those who are under his care suffer because of your sins. That moment of pleasure or emotional connection with another person will result in years of tears and regrets. Remember, if you married a woman it means that you once loved her more than anyone else. Save your marriage and invest your time in it, for the good of humanity and future generations. Be a man."
This article is a translation and adaption of the original article "Cartas de uma ex-amante" published on familia.com.br.