≡ Menu

In Other Words: “My Husband is Sleeping With My Mother”

My sister sent me this recent WTF(!!) column from ELLE’s Ask E. Jean, who seems a little off her rocker, maybe?

My mother is an attractive, interesting woman who reads ELLE and The Economist, dresses fashionably, and maintains a petite size 2 frame. Recently, I found out that my 39-year-old husband (of 14 years) has been having sex with her when he attends conferences at the resort near where she lives. When he told me, I was bothered by the fact that it didn’t bother me.

He’s a wonderful man — father to our two children and a good provider — and he’s always taken care of me emotionally, sexually, and financially. I know I should be upset; I know I should feel betrayed on so many levels. But I just don’t. He says he enjoys the relationship with her but will stop if it’s what I want.

Honestly, if my mother and husband are happy in their affair, I just can’t seem to find the energy to be angry or jealous. So my question is: Is this normal? Should I be upset? — No Talent for the Conniption Fit

I mean, WTF, right? No, seriously. Your husband is banging your mother and you’re … you’re OK with it? And you’re wondering if your reaction is “normal”?! Um, NO. No, it’s not normal at all. None of it is normal on any level. Yeah, being upset is an emotion that takes energy and I can see how someone who isn’t automatically upset by a situation that would “normally” make one upset would rather expend energy feeling a positive emotion, but come on! Your husband is banging your mom! Instead of denying the abnormality of the situation, get upset! Get angry! And get to the bottom of the issues that exist to have created such a mind-blowingly awful betrayal.

This is not what E. Jean advises. Not at all.


You can follow me on Facebook here and sign up for my weekly newsletter here.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

Comments on this entry are closed.

avatar sarita_f November 20, 2012, 3:03 pm

Meh. Go read Sex At Dawn.

Fabelle Fabelle November 20, 2012, 3:08 pm

Oh, god. I saw this when I got the magazine & was like “Uhhhh okay, E. Jean, I guess that’s one way to look at it.”

But seriously, what the fuck? “Unconditional love” is how E. interprets this? I would say it’s more “apathy.” I mean, if you’re not upset that your husband is fucking your own mother, than you must be jaded as heeelllllll.

Skyblossom Skyblossom November 20, 2012, 3:14 pm

That’s what I thought. She feels nothing because she isn’t emotionally attached to the husband so she doesn’t care.

avatar Riefer November 21, 2012, 11:53 am

And apparently isn’t emotionally attached to her mother either? Two of the people who should be closest to her are betraying her and she doesn’t care. Something’s wrong.

avatar muffy November 20, 2012, 3:52 pm

Yeah I read this as more like the woman is depressed or really doesn’t care about her husband rather than she loves him so much she wants him to be happy.

I find it hilarious that the husband was like “I’ll stop if you want”.

QaraKoz QaraKoz November 20, 2012, 7:14 pm

E. Jean was being sarcastic, right??? I’ve never read E.Jean’s column before but there’s no way that could be a real response….

avatar Amanda November 20, 2012, 3:11 pm

LOL! That is some fucked up, repugnant shit.

avatar lets_be_honest November 20, 2012, 3:23 pm

I believe its repugnant ass shit, not repugnant shit : )

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 3:47 pm

As a former lecturer in English and composition, I can assure you that the correct phrase is “seriously fucked up repugnant ass shit.”

avatar Amanda November 20, 2012, 3:58 pm

I’ve just been schooled 😉

avatar lets_be_honest November 20, 2012, 5:35 pm

Props to you for finding the perfect movie quote for this! (saying Props dates me, doesn’t it?)

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 5:56 pm

Snaps to you for saying props…

avatar jlyfsh November 20, 2012, 3:18 pm

Hmm…I feel like she might be depressed. Or done with the relationship herself? I get how maybe she’s realizing she’s ok with her husband being non-monogamous, but with her Mom? And for how long? Because, even if I realized I was ok with an open relationship I would be pissed at the lying that had been going on. I just don’t know, I just can’t even imagine being told by my husband he was sleeping with my Mom.

avatar muffy November 20, 2012, 3:54 pm

I thought this too. Also: I wonder what the husband thought when the wife was just “meh”

avatar lemongrass November 20, 2012, 4:40 pm

My thoughts exactly. It isn’t unconditional love, its depression so bad that you can’t even work up the energy to be mad at your husband for banging your mom.

avatar Jenny November 20, 2012, 3:19 pm

The other woman’s answer is crazy. This is NOT Papua New Guinea, and key to that e ceptional culture’s arrangement is a lack of lying, which this involved. This is not some other woman, it’s her own MOM!

avatar bethany November 20, 2012, 3:28 pm

Maybe the LW is still in shock and that’s why she’s not upset?? So bizarro!

KKZ KKZ November 20, 2012, 3:46 pm

That’s sort of where I would lean too, because I’ve been there. Earlier this summer my mom committed a huge privacy violation against me, and when I first found out, I totally underreacted and tried to make it water under the bridge almost immediately. It took time for it to sink in before I got really, properly mad.

avatar temperance November 22, 2012, 12:08 am

I’m going through something similar, and … that’s exactly how I feel, too. What my mom did wasn’t as bad as boning my husband, but … yeah.

iwannatalktosampson iwannatalktosampson November 20, 2012, 3:28 pm

I have to think this husband is rich and the wife doesn’t want to leave him for that reason – so she is choosing to make the best of it. That’s the impression I got. I would personally advise her to carry on (and not be angry) if that’s what she wants but to make sure she gets some sweet ass on the side as well. It’s only fair.

avatar Nadine November 20, 2012, 6:20 pm

Wonder what his dad looks like…….?

avatar Caris November 20, 2012, 3:32 pm

That’s like saying it’s ok to stone women because they do it in Sudan.

The writer is either not in love with her husband and therefore doesn’t give a shit that he cheated on her. With her mother. (WTF?!) OR she has negative levels of self esteem.

avatar artsygirl November 20, 2012, 3:32 pm

I pray to God that the LW is highly medicated because otherwise her complete antipathy is SCARY….

KKZ KKZ November 20, 2012, 3:43 pm

“Papua New Guinea is so violent that more than 820 languages are spoken there.”


“My first inkling that you possess a nirvana-grade freedom from jealousy? You mentioned a fellow woman wearing a “size 2” in your first sentence, then went on to write two more paragraphs—a total of 158 words—without slamming her.”

…WTF!!!!! That doesn’t mean you possess a nirvana-grade freedom from jealousy – it just means you’re not a bitch! Sheesh. For all we know the LW is a size 2 or less, too and has no reason to be jealous.

Good god. This is why I stay away from “Women’s” magazines. I can’t stomach this shit.

avatar oldie November 20, 2012, 4:39 pm

I think you and Wendy missed the sarcasm of the response. Her description of what got her to stay in that village should have been a dead give away.

beelzebarb beelzebarb November 20, 2012, 7:44 pm

I totally got that from her response too. Also, she makes the comment about Papua New Guinea having 820 languages because it is so violent right after she calls it a paradise. Pretty sure she read that letter, drank three glasses of wine to see if she could bend her mind around it, and finally came up with a sarcastic response instead of saying “Lady, I can’t help you.”

Brad brad November 21, 2012, 11:31 am

“Lady, I can’t help you.”


KKZ KKZ November 21, 2012, 9:48 am

Neither of the two quotes I pulled were said sarcastically, though.

I pulled the first because WTF does a variety of languages have to do with violence?? That’s like me saying “The U.S. is so politically polarized that we have 350 different flavors of ice cream.”

The second is just a face-palming example of women hurting women by perpetuating stereotypes – that we’re all jealous bitches who can’t bear that someone else might be a size smaller than us. Even if the whole response was meant to be satire/sarcasm, that line still doesn’t fit and is still WTF-worthy.

Besides, even when advice columnists get snippy and sarcastic, they usually pepper in some actual advice, or some sort of nod to their own sarcasm (a la the DW favorite, “amirite?”). E.Jean, whoever the hell she is, shouldn’t be using satire as a tool if this is the best she can do.

Diablo Diablo November 21, 2012, 10:01 am

350 flavours? What are they?

avatar oldie November 21, 2012, 2:49 pm

The language quote was definitely not offered as a serious quote. Sarcastic or whatever you want to call it but definitely not serious.

avatar karenwalker November 22, 2012, 9:21 am

I think the mention of the vast number of languages is meant to imply how disconnected and at odds the people there are – like no one could get along so they all had to break into their own little tribes with their own langauages

FireStar FireStar November 20, 2012, 3:45 pm

People do things every day I can’t understand for the life of me. If it doesn’t bother her – I’M not getting worked up over it. You just have to look at the news to see what some other mothers have done to their kids. I’m glad I’ll never have to deal with this issue but in the realm of what apparently is possible for mothers to do to children? I’ll save my sympathy for small children in harm’s way.

avatar Lindsay November 20, 2012, 5:11 pm

I don’t really think sympathy is a finite resource. If the LW actually doesn’t care and is not mentally ill or whatever, then good for her. But if at some point, she does feel betrayed by her husband and/or her mom, it’s still going to suck, whether or not people are going through worse things.

FireStar FireStar November 20, 2012, 5:52 pm

I agree with you – no emotion is a finite resource. But the LW is a big girl. She knows the score. She has given it thought and is fine with it. If she wrote in betrayed and upset I would there there her and be outraged along with her. But if she doesn’t care – then neither do I. It’s not my husband and it’s not my mother. Like I said I’m not getting worked up over it. And I’m not going to tell a functional adult that she has a problem when, upon self-reflection, she thinks she doesn’t. It is her life to live as she wants. I’m cool with that.

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 7:27 pm

“I don’t really think sympathy is a finite resource.”

OMG I love this! Can I steal it, pretty please?

avatar lets_be_honest November 20, 2012, 5:38 pm

There was a mother in my neck of the woods that was caught sleeping with her daughter’s boyfriend AND his friends, who were all 15 at the time. People are crazzzy!

FireStar FireStar November 20, 2012, 5:55 pm

I read about that – isn’t she pregnant by a 15 year old now? Charming. Mothers lock their children up in cages and starve them, abuse them, sell them, even kill them. Those stories raise my blood pressure and make me borderline homicidal. This? This is a “to each their own.”

avatar lets_be_honest November 21, 2012, 9:54 am

Agree 100%. BUT, not in a million years would I have thought the daughter wouldn’t have been devastated. Pretty surprising she doesn’t care.

avatar j2 November 20, 2012, 3:45 pm

I tried not to, but …

avatar Taylor November 20, 2012, 3:57 pm

Hah! That made me giggle at work =)

avatar Lindsay November 20, 2012, 3:48 pm

Now that I’ve picked my jaw up off the floor …

Even if the LW wasn’t in love with her husband, I find it hard to believe that she wouldn’t be angry. I was dating a guy for a while whom I realized that I wasn’t into and broke up with, but I still got annoyed the night he took me to watch his former crush’s roller derby team and he spent the whole night talking about how awesome she is. Surely this woman would feel upset that he lied to her or that he and her mom were willing to do something that could have devastated her.

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 3:49 pm

I dunno, seems OK to me….

Wait is this REAL WORLD not fetish porn world? OK, never mind…

avatar MMcG November 20, 2012, 4:46 pm

@ Diablo – Between this and your comment above – you are winning this thread!

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 5:28 pm

YES!!! I rarely win serious debates, but I often win silly ones.

fast eddie fast eddie November 20, 2012, 3:53 pm

His affair is far from mainstream but so what. In the 60s and 70s it would have been no more then a little unusual. Some of my progressive friends had sex with mothers and their daughters. The LW is OK with it and he’s doing all the right things at home with her and the kids. Morality is what any individual makes of it. This case isn’t something to applaud but there’s no harm evidenced for anybody involved. If he were sleeping with his own mother, therapy would be beneficial, but even then morality is in the mind of the beholder.

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 3:57 pm

What disturbs me about it is that the husband and the mom didn’t know the LW would be okay with it. The two people she should be able to count on the most in this world voluntarily did something knowing it could have completely devastated her. Not very many people would be okay with their SOs having sex with their parents, so they had to have known they were deciding that having sex was worth the risk of the potentially irreparable damage it could have caused her. That’s beyond selfish to me.

avatar jlyfsh November 20, 2012, 4:02 pm

i feel the same way. it’s one thing if that’s what they are all cool with, before it happens. but, he was cheating on her. it ended up that she’s ‘ok’ with it, but it was also far more likely that she would have found out he was cheating on her and been pissed. the who the cheating is going on with doesn’t change the fact that he cheated. for me it makes it harder to wrap my head around, but even if i could, i still would be upset about the lying that was involved.

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 3:57 pm

Would you say the same if it was daughter, mother and grandmother? How bout if we throw a monkey in there too?

Just kidding, FE, but ya gotta admit, it’s more fun to have an over the top reaction to this than to be all reasonable and relativistic.

Fabelle Fabelle November 20, 2012, 4:29 pm

“… it’s more fun to have an over the top reaction to this than to be all reasonable and relativistic. ”

Haha, right?? Like, guys, come on. Can’t we all come together on this with a collective WTF?

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 4:33 pm

Ready, everyone? One, two, three… WTF!!!

Brown-eyed NoVA Girl Brown-eyed NoVA Girl November 21, 2012, 12:20 pm


avatar Amanda November 20, 2012, 4:18 pm

If you are married to someone, you owe your spouse a modicum of respect to communicate your desire to fuck that hot neighbor, your gym friend or your spouse’s MOM before any sexual activity ensues. I really don’t understand why this conversation wouldn’t happen. It would be difficult, but if you want to stay married, you need to respect your spouse. Let them know how you feel and try to reach compromise before you betray them by FUCKING THEIR MOM.

fast eddie fast eddie November 20, 2012, 4:25 pm

The biggest “problem” with the arrangement is that her mom is never going to be out picture like a random lover could be. Because it’s more to it then the act of them having sex together complications will arise and it will get sticky or ugly. I’ve known quite a few couples that had an open marriage and they all ended in divorce. The conflicts that inevitable occur make this marriage particularly precarious.

avatar j.walker November 21, 2012, 5:55 pm

Ahahahah all the 20 to 30 set are clutching their pearls in horror and then the geriatric sex machine comes along and schools them on the swinging lifestyle we all missed out on. “Only mother and daughter? In my day every family reunion turned into an orgy!”

Really though, I’m not personally into it, but I wouldn’t advise anyone to get angry when they’re not. Maybe she’s just not the jealous type. Plus she says “when he told me” so it’s not like she caught them. They’re prob into some wild shit, she’s not super close with her mom and knows that she’s still a fox. More power to em if everyone’s on board.

avatar Michelle.Lea November 20, 2012, 3:59 pm

weird, but i dont know. if she’s not bothered with it on any level, either she really has found nirvana, or she’s f’d up. i suppose if she can live with it, more power to her? but if her husband kept it from her, at the very least shouldn’t she be upset about that? weird. i agree with the comments i saw above about her just not caring.

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 4:06 pm

Well, Thanksgiving might be a little awkward this year….

avatar jlyfsh November 20, 2012, 4:11 pm

And I’m assuming since it wasn’t mentioned that the Mother is single/widowed/divorced? If not does the Father know? Imagine that conversation at dinner.

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 4:12 pm

bahaha! wowowowowow!

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 4:11 pm

How’s the job going? I’m “working” right now….

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 4:14 pm

I dont’ start until next Monday, so today is my last real day of unemployment! (because of the holidays and all) Thanks for asking!

But I just found out that I have to take a drug test in the office when I get there and not at a lab. Does that mean I have to pee in front of my new boss? Anyone? Super nervous about that. I can’t even pee if someone can hear me on the other side of the door. Ahhh!!!

avatar lemongrass November 20, 2012, 4:47 pm

Congrats on the new job! I’ve never had to take a drug test but I would be so good at it- I can pee in front of anyone! Not saying I do, but I could.

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 5:33 pm

Wouldn’t the drug test in BC include the phrase, “It’s OK… I grew it myself”?

avatar lemongrass November 20, 2012, 5:44 pm

Nice. I’m not sure anyone tests for it out here. What with most of the province’s mayors publicly stating that they are pro-legalization. It’s only a matter of time, I say! Not that legalization would really have that much effect on the amount of people smoking it, nobody’s afraid of the law on that one (being about as bad as jaywalking) but I’d really love the money to go to taxes instead of gansta’s

Diablo Diablo November 20, 2012, 5:50 pm

Taxes, schmaxes, I really would grow my own. I mean, I’m pretty good with tomatoes, and I only LIKE them…

avatar lemongrass November 20, 2012, 5:57 pm

We’ve been debating it for years. We have our own veggie garden and I’m pretty sure we could grow some great stuff. The only issue is we smoke so very little! Obviously, none while I’m pregnant, but otherwise I usually only have one or two week long stints where I smoke it every day, in a year. My husband is only a social smoker (or drinker) and won’t say no when someone passes it to him, or he’d smoke it with me at home, but he wouldn’t smoke it by himself.

I’m sure we could give it away though, wouldn’t be too hard 🙂

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 7:20 pm

hahaha, That’s awesome, lemongrass! And thanks!

the_optimist the_optimist November 20, 2012, 4:56 pm

Pretty sure they’ll just make someone (probably female) from HR stand outside of the stall while you go. Still annoying, but luckily not your direct supervisor (I hope).

theattack theattack November 20, 2012, 7:18 pm

Well this agency has like four people in it, so it probably will have to be the boss. Thanks! I can deal much better with someone standing outside than someone watching me.

avatar Something More November 20, 2012, 4:20 pm

Yeah, I’m in the “whatever” camp. I mean, if the wife is OK with it, so what? Yeah, her hubs is a douche for cheating and he (and her mom) lucked out hard-core considering the end result, but to each their own. Maybe it’s not normal, but aren’t we defining the “new normal” every day? I don’t think it deserves the OMG WTF everybody seems to be giving it.

Kate B. Kate B. November 20, 2012, 4:37 pm

My family is really too, too dull.

FireStar FireStar November 20, 2012, 4:42 pm

blissfully so, no?

LK7889 LK7889 November 20, 2012, 4:46 pm

Before I even read either Wendy’s or Jean’s responses, I read this letter to my SO.

His response: “Not sure if crazy or enlightened?”

bittergaymark Bittergaymark November 20, 2012, 4:53 pm

Fake… I don’t care if it’s in Elle… Fake. Fake. Fake…

the_optimist the_optimist November 20, 2012, 4:57 pm

I’m inclined to agree. Also, Elle kind of sucks. I don’t see how reading it would make you all that interesting. Unless she’s supposed to seem worldly because she reads Elle AND The Economist?

Brown-eyed NoVA Girl Brown-eyed NoVA Girl November 21, 2012, 12:24 pm

However, I wold LOVE to see this question written to the editors at The Economist and hear their snarky, British reply, perhaps with some enlightening fiscal advice about alimony.

landygirl landygirl November 20, 2012, 6:15 pm

Eeeeeeewwwwwww!! You and your mom are honking the same hooter. Gross.

avatar Sue Jones November 20, 2012, 7:19 pm

Eh, while it absolutely would be a deal breaker for me, apparently all parties here are OK with it. Who are we to judge? And what about the Dear Prudence where the gay twin men were long term significant others (since age 12)? That one is the same level of “wow!”

beelzebarb beelzebarb November 20, 2012, 7:48 pm
avatar AKchic November 20, 2012, 8:23 pm

So… he chose Mrs. Robinson after he married. Interesting turn of events. Mrs. Robinson seduced him afterall. *starts humming the song* Dammit, now that will be in my head all night.

I really don’t know what to make of this. Fake? Possibly. Of course… I’ve seen some really fucked up love-hexagons in my lifetime. And then some.

avatar E November 20, 2012, 11:58 pm

WTF? Has to be fake. I can understand not getting that upset when finding out someone has been cheating on you, although the fact that this woman isn’t more upset considering she has two sons with the man is a bit strange. This is her MOM though! Line has been crossed.

avatar Chrissy November 21, 2012, 1:23 am

I get maybe That the LW might be one of those wives that gets completely taken care of and so is able to look the other way when the husband has a mistress or women on the side, because maybe she cares more about her stability than his faithfulness. But, your own MOTHER?! No way. Even if I felt like LW and didnt care my husband was sleeping with someone else, I’d still disown my mother for sleeping with him and keeping it a secret. Who cares if she’s got a rockin bod. She betrayed me completely and interfered with my marriage, knowing that it could possibly hurt me deeply. That is effed up big time

avatar Jenniferw November 21, 2012, 11:29 am

Boy, and I thought my holidays with the in-laws were awkward.

Brad brad November 21, 2012, 11:45 am

The misogynist part of me (that I try to keep locked away in the back corner of my mind) really wants to buy this guy a drink! I mean … damn dude. This was about as big of a drama landmine as you could put yourself into and he got a free pass—unbelieveable.

For the record I still think he’s a giant douche though.

avatar Lucy November 21, 2012, 4:56 pm

Fake fake fakety fakebomb.