Adapted from a recent online discussion.
All parties made horrible mistakes in terrible triangle
Anonymous: About U.K. (from Monday, who pressured her husband to pressure his mistress to terminate her pregnancy). Here's the thing I can't get past. U.K. told her husband to tell another woman to have an abortion. I'm the pro-choice-iest of pro-choice people, and . . . I'm sorry, NO. Wrong wrong wrong. U.K., you had no right to make that a condition of getting back together.
Carolyn: She did have a right to say she'd leave the marriage if he had a child with his mistress. She didn't have a right to ask her husband to ask the mistress to have an abortion, which she did, which was a hideous mistake; he, meanwhile, had no business passing along his wife's request to his pregnant mistress, which he apparently did, which was a hideous mistake. If he used deception to coerce her, then that's evil.
All of that being said: I don't believe the wife or the husband "made" the mistress have the abortion. The wife pressured and the husband (possibly) coerced, but the child's mother decided. All of them have a lot of work to do to get right after this.
Anonymous 2: Re: U.K.: What she did was appalling — but as Carolyn says, the fact that she's beginning to realize the magnitude and feel so wretched about it shows she's not totally lost.
Perhaps doing some volunteer work — say, at a place that helps unwed teen mothers — would be a way to make amends too?
Carolyn: This has come up before, and it will come up again: When people carry around heavy regrets for things they cannot undo, the only way they can make amends is through good works, good intentions, good behavior. Turning the bad into the catalyst for good is about the only way to make things right. Working with young mothers in need would be one possibility, but really anything that's for the greater good could accomplish that same goal — including throwing herself into the process of creating a stable, loving, morally aware environment for her own children through this awful time.
Anonymous 3: Re: U.K.: Gotta say I'm wondering if the other woman really was pregnant, or whether this was a device to find out where she stood with the married man. Probably awful of me to admit this, but there it is.
Carolyn: If you want to be awful here, take a number. I hope she wasn't pregnant.
Anonymous 4: Re: U.K.: Not only is it possible the mistress was never pregnant, it's equally possible she's pregnant . . . and never had the abortion. No one in this lovely triangle is entirely innocent, to be sure. Yes, the wife never should have made the other woman's abortion a requirement for taking her husband back. But I respect that she recognizes that now and truly feels wretched over it, so I'll leave that alone and instead just point out to her that what she was trying to avoid — the child of this relationship perpetually coming back to haunt her — could still come back to haunt her.
Carolyn: Indeed. And if so, what she fought against could be what redeems her: Accepting this entirely innocent child as family would be an act of grace.