[disclaimer: this is pretty long. i just have to get this off of my chest somehow. expletives are used, although minimally]
ever since the early years of my parents’ marriage, my mother has encountered nothing but lies and secrecy. prior to getting married, my mother found out that my father has a daughter with his ex, whom he keeps in contact with at the time (for child support and other expenses). she was surprisingly okay with it and still pushed through with marrying him, with the condition that he involves her and keeps her informed of whatever contact he has with his daughter and her mother.
this condition, apparently, was never met despite her numerous pleas and reminders. it had gotten so bad that she would constantly check his things to look for clues (e.g. receipts, electricity bills, etc.) until it got to the point where she secretly followed my dad to his ex’s house and confronted him then and there.
for years this had been a major source of conflict. although i am rather close to my half-sister now and my mother has grown to love her, her husband and children. i sometimes still hear my parents bicker about not telling who about what.
this problem along with other smaller problems kept piling up over the years. until in the past decade of their relationship, a new one had been added to their growing pile of problems. my father had apparently been contacting / is being contacted by “pimps” and “girls”. my mother immediately took notice of this, and soon one by one my sisters and i found out too. one of my older sisters was the first to find out and decided to investigate on her own. (god bless her guts)
she got the number of one of the people messaging my dad and texted them. she pretended to be him and asked to meet up at a fast food place nearby. at the time, she was a first year college student, so she effortlessly blended in. when the person finally messaged her, saying that they were there. she was shocked to see a middle-aged man standing next to a scantily clad young girl who was about her age. she got up and left without them noticing who she was, all the while ignoring her phone which kept vibrating nonstop from texts and calls from that man. when she got home, she told my mother. she bawled her eyes out as this was solid proof to all her suspicions.
when i got a little older (high school), i found out too. my father would sometimes leave his phone face up and i would see some texts from people asking if he’s interested in meeting up or commenting on the wonderful time they had previously and other similar texts. i, of course, being the curious high schooler read all the messages, and snooped around in his phone to find more (i found a lot). i was so overwhelmed by what i found and didn’t know what to do. so i went and told my mother, because as his wife, she deserves to know. when i told her, i was confused because she didn’t seem surprised at all. she then told me everything: my half-sister, her suspicions about him cheating on her, my sister’s findings — all of it.
my mother of course confronted him about everything she’s found out (thanks to me and my sisters’ “investigations”). he denied everything. he said that he was only acting as the middle man and never actually met up or did anything with the girls. my mother calls bullshit, of course. but my father kept saying the same thing.
my mother almost left him. but for her children’s sake, she stayed. she most especially stayed for my little brother who was only in elementary school that time. she didn’t want him to have a life without a father figure. my father however, started becoming very secretive and protective of his phone. since he found out that my mother found most of the information from there, he brought it with him literally everywhere and never let anyone see what was in it. (this of course never stopped my mom from snooping around to check if he’s still in contact with “those people”)
fast forward to two years ago, when my father finally showed some initiative and invited my mother out for a drink. that night after a couple drinks, my parents talked and (ugly-)cried everything out (they were thankfully in a private booth at a bar, so it was all good). my father finally confessed and explained everything and my mother finally told him exactly (with no sugarcoating) how she had been feeling these past couple years.
after that, things had been going well. they went to therapy and started sleeping in the same bed again. my father was still pretty protective of his phone but he allows my mother to inspect his phone every now and then. when “those people” try and contact him, they would block and delete the number together. although my eldest sister had her own house and family, and we barely saw my other sister, we were all closer than ever. we drank together, played games, and went out together regularly. when the quarantine started we played and drank almost everyday, and my parents seemed happy together.
fast forward to last month, when my dad finally got a new phone. my mother was excited as she wanted to explore the new phone together and share what she knew (context: my father was a long time samsung user and bought an iphone. my mother is a long time apple user). it seemed perfect; an old married couple trying to understand the “intricacies of the smartphone”. right?
much to my mother’s huge disappointment (this is an understatement), as soon as my father got his phone, he suddenly more secretive and protective of its contents (especially while transferring data from his old phone to the new one). while setting up the phone password and facial recognition, he made sure no one saw a thing. my mother was of course fuming and asked him, “why are you being like that? what are you still hiding from me?” and now they’re back to square one again.
this brings us to now. she’s “tired of his shit” so she stopped talking to him and acts cold. he seems to be waiting for her to make a move. she keeps making passive aggressive comments in front of him. he keeps shrugging it off. she cries and drinks a lot. he hasn’t been sleeping well. she keeps saying that at this point she’s staying out of pity. he tries and fails to reconnect with her (e.g. making small talk, tries to give her a kiss or a touch in the small of her back, etc). she “fucking hates it” when he does that.
basically things are very awkward at home (this is also an understatement; a huge one, at that).
i’d like to think that i am on both of their sides as i constantly try and talk to them (individually) and not make things any more awkward than it already is, and i love them both. but i know for a fact that if asked to choose a side, all my siblings will side with my mother and openly rebuke my father. my father knows this too.
i don’t know what to do. my mother refuses to do anything because she’s tired of always being the one who adjusts and fixes things, and my father becomes either evasive or super defensive. i am so overwhelmed by the things that i don’t want to happen but might actually happen.