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Infidelity, divorce, children, families

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Darkness Falls posted 8/15/2019 12:29 PM

WS and BS responses welcome.

Hikingout made what I consider to be an interesting point on another thread. She said, in paraphrase, that WSs are told to just divorce (or that they should have just divorced) before blowing up their families....but that if she (and by extension, any WS) had chosen to divorce prior to or instead of cheating, the family would be just as broken up.

Now, duh, I’m not saying if divorce is going to be the end result either way, then it’s ok to cheat first. Cheating is a betrayal and a mindfuck that a BS does not ever deserve. But when the particular argument is pinpointed on the stability of the children’s family and the WS having put their kids’ best interest in having an intact home at risk but then at the same time saying it’s better to have divorced first, that seems all well and good as far as from the BS’s perspective, but is the end result to the children not the same?

I can say with a high degree of certainty that if I were to leave my marriage because I dislike my husband and my marriage, the sense of betrayal my husband would feel and the practical logistical ramifications to my children would be no less than if I were to leave because of an OM. I’m not “just saying that” or making it up—I believe it in my heart of hearts.

Again, I’m not saying that I might as well cheat first then. But a split family is a split family—an abandoned spouse is an abandoned spouse—displaced children are displaced children—regardless of whether the chicken or the egg come first. JMHO.

Catwoman posted 8/15/2019 12:35 PM

You raise a good point--the home is still shattered and the kids will have to transition to a new way of life. It truly sucks for them.

That being said, in some cases, cheating adds a layer of contentiousness that may not be there if the parties decide to mutually split. Would the contentiousness still be there if one party wanted to leave the marriage and the other didn't? Perhaps that would be the case, but you wouldn't have the layers of lies and deceit that generally accompany an affair.

Often the cheating spouse has issues with entitlement, which adds to the strife.

I think it sucks any way you slice it, and the kids are the innocent victims.

Cat

DevastatedDee posted 8/15/2019 12:43 PM

I disagree on that. Yes, divorce because you don't want to be with your spouse and cheating that leads to divorce obviously both lead to...divorce and all that entails.

However..."just" divorce isn't as traumatic as infidelity, won't wreck the BS in the same kind of way and may allow them to proceed with the kind of dignity that being cheated on makes very difficult. It may allow them to maintain some kind of mental health in the immediate aftermath.

As far as most people know, I'm divorcing and won't take back my WH because he developed a problem with drugs. I remember knowing that I was going to have to divorce him for being a drug addict before I knew of the cheating and being devastated and wrecked and I thought nothing could be more painful. Then he got clean and I found out about all of his cheating. The devastation that wrought was so far beyond losing him over drugs that I cannot put it into words. I thought I knew the pain of my marriage ending, but it ending for drugs was a flea bite compared to the infidelity 3rd degree burn.

If my WH had just come to me and said "I fell out of love with you and I need to break up", those words would have been easier to deal with than drugs or cheating. None of it is easy, of course not. What is easier on children is having a sane parent and boy oh boy is parenting not extremely difficult in the aftermath of infidelity. I daresay ALL of us fell short in parenting for a time after DDay. Had my WH just wanted to leave me or had it just been drugs, I wouldn't have been suicidal. I wouldn't have needed medication to make it from one hour to the next. I would have had my shit far more together. I wouldn't have been so very wounded at a time when my kids and step-daughter needed me together the most.

The method in which the marriage ends does matter for the sake of the children.

HellFire posted 8/15/2019 12:46 PM

Divorce is pretty straightforward. It says, "I'm done. I'm out. It's over."

Yes, it hurts. And,yes, it hurts the kids.

But when it's infidelity, not divorce, it's abuse. The lies. The gaslighting. The crazy AP. The emotional torture.

Being betrayed changes who the BS is.

And the kids get to watch that.

If a spouse tells another they are filing, it leaves the BS with their dignity. In a way, it shows respect for the other spouse, and the relationship they had.

It's all painful. But infidelity adds layers to an already difficult process. And those layers affect everyone involved.

Chaos posted 8/15/2019 12:46 PM

From my own perspective - WH affair denied me any agency I had in my marriage. Because during his LTA my marriage was a lie. I just didn't know it.

Then - the R/D choice was put on me. Because of his actions.

Top it off - my children were forever shattered because one of them discovered it, confided in the other and they had to be the ones to tell me.

WH had us all living a lie for his own selfish purposes. And I then was put in the horrific position of deciding what to do about children already destroyed by this. I resent being put in this position and resent my children being shattered.

If he was upset with life/himself/his marriage/the paint color of the walls, he had choices. An affair was but one of them.

The children are victims in all of this. There are no winners. Just a various degree of losers. No matter what happens in my future I lost. My children lost their innocence in a way - they know their father had a LTA. The do not know he took it underground. I alone carry that scar.

In my WH case - if he was so unhappy he could have spoken up. In my WH case that unhappiness came from within himself. He created his own viscous cycle of a downward spiral. He took an easy path of validation. Seek it elsewhere instead of looking within himself. Leave it to someone else to provide on the sly instead of manning the fu*k up. He turned away from his family instead of turning towards it. Then liked the excitement it brought. Then hated himself for doing it. Lather, rinse, repeat.

Now - through IC - he's starting to figure it out. That's a story for another day.

Oversimplified - I think that a WS has options before making the decision to stray or ultimately leave. Because they did leave. Some of us just didn't know it at the time.

hikingout posted 8/15/2019 12:57 PM

Since I did say that, I will clarify by saying every situation is different. When I said it, it was in the context of the idea that my children are adults. They are not in their formative years, they were not thrown into it. Their security now lies mostly in their own homes in their own respective states with their own significant others. They are off living their own life. I don't want to be seen as I am starting some revolution of thought.

There have been children of affairs come here and express the pain of their parents affairs and all the ways it effected them. So, I do think depending on what happens, how it's handled, what they witness, where they are at that juncture in time...it can be very traumatizing. It can effect how they view their mom or dad, and can effect their self worth.

So to that, I believe that what catwoman said is the thing that rings true, you protect your kids and help them the best you can. I can see how affairs can effect them and their security. And, in some ways this was an offshoot on who takes care of the kids in the aftermath might be the WS, and it might be the BS, and there is no wrong or right answer to that that fits every situation.

In my case, when my kids were young, I did all the day to day stuff for them. I knew what they liked to eat, their schedules, who their friends were, what they were doing in school and I spent a lot of time with them when they wanted to talk about their problems. My H was a great father and had his own invaluable contributions, and I would never have kept them from him, but my kids were more used to me and my husband by far worked longer hours back then. So, had this happened earlier, even though I am the WS I probably would have continued to be a primary caregiver if only in the interim as they adjusted. I would have been fully capable of taking care of them. And, if he was up for it so would he.

But, when I spoke up I was talking only about my situation and I don't think there is a definitive answer that fits all situations. Context matters.

DaddyDom posted 8/15/2019 13:02 PM

I understand your point. There is no doubt that for whatever reason a family breaks up, it is going to be damaging to the children, and everyone involved. I don't think that is at issue.

For me, the questions that are relevant include:

1) How much and what kind of damage is done to the kids, and...

2) What resources and relationship bonds are left for them in the aftermath?

When we cheat, we not only send our spouses a message about who we are and what's important to us, but we send that same message to our kids. When we engage in infidelity, we don't just cheat on our spouses, we cheat on our families as well. We put our own needs ahead of our kids needs for safety, security, stability, love, trust, and as a model for how love works, not just between married adults, but between adults and kids as well.

Kids whose parents simply get divorced (non-infidelity related) get the message that the marriage didn't work out, but it is still possible to assure your children that Mom and Dad still love them wholeheartedly and that the end of the marriage is not their fault.

When we cheat, our kids get a different message. They get the message that they weren't important enough or loved enough to come first. They get the message that it's okay to betray the ones you love, and that includes them. They get the message that trust is not something that exists in the family. There is a difference between "growing apart" and just plain leaving.

I understand what you are saying. Sometimes, people say things such as, "You could have just left and no one would have blamed you" and that's just bull. Of course you might still be seen as an uncaring asshole just for asking for a divorce, and of course, the kids might still be in therapy for life. Divorce sucks no matter what, and the damage is palpable. The affair however is like pouring gasoline on the fire. Even if the kids don't know about the affair now, these things have a way of being exposed in time, and when that news does eventually hit, the kids are going to be hurt again as if it had just happened. Look at how many BS's here tell the story of how their spouse cheated 20 years ago and never again since... you'd think that something that happened that long ago wouldn't even matter. But it does. And it hurts just as much as if it just had happened yesterday.

Yes, if you left your husband before the affair, they'd still be hurt. But at least they would still have some trust in both of you. They'd still have YOU to beleive in, and your love for them. Now, they need to question everything.

AloneAndDrowning posted 8/15/2019 13:17 PM

I think an affair changes the BS and that has a serious impact on the family. You've changed the childrens "person". I know in the aftermath I wasnt nearly as focused on my children as I should have been. I couldn't show them the joy the needed as I was just trying to survive the days.
Add to the fact those that end up R. Had you decided to leave prior to the affair, THAT could have been the opening to fixing a marriage in distress. That could have got you into therapy to work on yourself and marriage. Why did you have to destroy another person to fix a marriage?
Had my husband come to me prior and said he wanted out... I still would have wanted to fix it. And had we went that route and started therapy then... I wouldnt be struggling with life right now. My children wouldnt have to deal with the instability I am dealing with. Everything that effects me, effects them.

xhz700 posted 8/15/2019 13:22 PM

This is an absurd line of reasoning.

Divorce, if nothing else, is an honest action. Cheating isn't. The two cannot be compared.

People are hurt during a break-up, it affects the kids, all of this is true, but to compare it to the deceitful sneaking and lying... You aren't leaving for an OM, you are stringing two people on dishonestly, and if you believe anything else, you are dishonest with yourself.

Jameson1977 posted 8/15/2019 13:46 PM

My WW's A's have changed me forever. Yes, divorce would be very tough on both of us and our son but I feel I wouldn't be a damaged, pessimistic person that I am now.

My WW and I were first everything, and that leaves me with a lot of doubts and questions about myself.

ibonnie posted 8/15/2019 14:09 PM

Yes, your family would still be split up, but it would have been done with care and respect. You could trust your co-parent to be honest with you and not stab you in the back. As Gwyneth Paltrow put it, you could "consciously uncouple" and focus on that and your children first, without throwing a selfish, low morals AP into the mix.

My WH's AP tried to convince him that what I was legally GUARANTEED to receive in child support (approx. $1180/month) was insane and that "lots of women only get $600/month in child support." Also, he was struggling to pay child & spousal support one month in addition to a storage unit & saving up for first month/last month/deposit for an apartment, and his AP was pressuring him to take her on a vacation he couldn't afford.

So.

I think there's a big difference between respectfully ending a marriage but working on co-parenting successfully and making sure your kids are okay before jumping into a relationship.

Butforthegrace posted 8/15/2019 14:13 PM

I think details matter. I've PM'd a few of you about this concept. We talk about infidelity here on SI often in a vacuum. In real life it usually occurs in context of a bunch of other marital stuff. When a marriage is at the point where one or both spouses are contemplating divorce or adultery, it's often a stressed marriage. Kids are likely already suffering.

Butforthegrace posted 8/15/2019 14:13 PM

I think details matter. I've PM'd a few of you about this concept. We talk about infidelity here on SI often in a vacuum. In real life it usually occurs in context of a bunch of other marital stuff. When a marriage is at the point where one or both spouses are contemplating divorce or adultery, it's often a stressed marriage. Kids are likely already suffering.

Amarula posted 8/15/2019 14:20 PM

If my WH had just come to me and said "I fell out of love with you and I need to break up", those words would have been easier to deal with than drugs or cheating.

I’m a BS and this is the bomb I got: the “I love you but I’m not in love with you” bomb. No explanation, no warning signs, husband still very kind to me, still very connected (or so I thought) until the day of the bomb. A bit distant maybe but he was working so much I put this on fatigue. For 6 weeks I lived in absolute shock, trying to make sense of what was happening to me. I had just been abandoned suddenly, our 17 years together were not worth fighting for, I was not even given a chance. I never ever imagined there could be someone else. So these 6 weeks were spent in absolute torment, not knowing why this man, who was still loving and caring, SUDDENLY fell out of love. One would imagine that before breaking up, before falling out of love, there are disputes, arguments, discussions as to why it is not working, attempts to make things work, chances given, etc. Nope, nothing, nada, zilch. I was dumped in a second, like an old handerkerchief that you throw in the bin. There was not even an argument. He just told me and that was it. I never ever imagined that he could have had an affair. Anyone but my husband!

Actually, when he finally told me, 6 weeks later that “he had met someone”, I sort of felt relieved. At least I knew why he fell out of love and why I was dumped. There was some logical explanation to this madness.

So no, I don’t think that a spouse just telling you out of the blue: I don’t love you anymore and I want to divorce makes things easier.

So I tend to agree with HO - affair or no affair, the fact is the discarded spouse and the children are abandoned. For someone or for no one, they are abandoned.

JSS1227 posted 8/15/2019 14:33 PM

But when it's infidelity, not divorce, it's abuse. The lies. The gaslighting. The crazy AP. The emotional torture.

Being betrayed changes who the BS is.

And the kids get to watch that.

So much this ^^^

And this :

When we cheat, our kids get a different message. They get the message that they weren't important enough or loved enough to come first. They get the message that it's okay to betray the ones you love, and that includes them. They get the message that trust is not something that exists in the family. There is a difference between "growing apart" and just plain leaving.

As someone who divorced H#1, with whom I have children, for non-infidelity related reasons, and is now in limbo with current WH (no kids together) after his infidelity, I’ll explain how the two experiences have affected my children.

XH and I divorced after 12 years of marriage and 3 kids. I met him when I was 19, divorced in early 30s. He was and remains a great friend, and there’s no one else I would rather co-parent with. We had a very amicable divorce, in which we divided up assets, worked out custody schedules, and completed the legal process ourselves, without involving any lawyers. We did IHS for close to a year, to allow the kids time to adjust to the change while also seeing that we could still get along, do things together as a family, and everything was going to be ok. It also allowed us to save up for XH to be able to put a down payment on a house for himself a few miles away, while I stayed in the house we had lived in throughout the marriage. That was 7 years ago; not only is XH still one of my best friends, but now his current W is a friend as well. The two of them have been invaluable to me since DDay, and have offered me so much kindness and support through this hell that WH has caused. Over the last 7 years, we have coparented well, we all sit together and school/sporting events, we spend some holiday time together, sometimes we all even do “family dinners” if it’s a busy week and we all feel like we’re not getting much time with the kids (they are now all middle to high school age, very active, and things get busy). The 4 of us (XH, his W, myself and WH) all work together to ensure everyone gets where they need to be, switch schedules when needed, and in general just work well together to ensure the kids feel supported, loved, and a priority. XH’s W also has a daughter from a previous relationship that is the same age as 2 of my kids with XH; I pick her up from school functions if I’m picking up my kids, she spends the night at my house sometimes, gets included in activities I do with my kids; it’s almost like I gained a stepdaughter too My kids make jokes all the time about how close we all are, and that when their friends ask what it’s like to have divorced parents, they say it’s like we’re still a big family...which is exactly what the goal was...to minimize any adverse impact of the divorce. They never felt they lost any safety or security, felt like anything was their fault, or felt unwanted or unloved.

Now to current situation with WH. His cheating destroyed me. Broke me beyond what i ever thought was possible. It is the worst pain I’ve ever felt, and I’ve been through some shit in my life. My kids have watched me cry, heard the arguments, dealt with tension and uncertainty in the home for the last 8 months. I’m still a great mother, I still attend all their events and am there for them, but I am different. I am distracted. I am depressed, the initial months of not eating/sleeping after DDay took a toll. I’m not as organized, I forget things. Sometimes I feel I have not been fully present for the last 8 months. The hours of IC, MC, reading, all the effort I have to put in to heal from this...it takes time away from them. I feel I am not even the same person I was before DDay.
In addition, they know of WH’s affair. They’ve always adored him as their stepdad, and they feel some of the same rejection that I feel because of his cheating; like he didn’t really want them or love them (or me), feelings of not being good enough, etc. We also moved into a new home a few months before WH began his affair; I sold the home I owned (that his name was not on, it was all mine) just months before DDay, so that we could have “our” home instead of “my home”. Had DDay occurred when I was still in my old home, I could have just kicked him out, but being in the new home that is in his name that I can’t afford on my own changes things. So there was also the “are we going to have to leave this new home that we just moved into that we love?” from the kids...the uncertainty, the loss of safety. Their relationship with WH is not what it was, despite his efforts to restore it; he feels that loss and expresses it sometimes. It has damaged them just like it has damaged me.

I apologize for the length, but I wanted to clearly illustrate my kids’ experiences in both situations, and the impact that both has had on myself and them. There is absolutely a difference in the negative impact on us between “just leaving a marriage” and the total destruction of a marriage that infidelity causes.

DevastatedDee posted 8/15/2019 14:35 PM

Actually, when he finally told me, 6 weeks later that “he had met someone”, I sort of felt relieved. At least I knew why he fell out of love and why I was dumped. There was some logical explanation to this madness.

So no, I don’t think that a spouse just telling you out of the blue: I don’t love you anymore and I want to divorce makes things easier.

Fair enough. In my case, my WH never wanted to lose me. He just wanted to do things that would guarantee that I had to leave him. So I can't imagine him being the one to tell me he wanted out.

[This message edited by DevastatedDee at 2:35 PM, August 15th (Thursday)]

fooled13years posted 8/15/2019 14:45 PM


I can say with a high degree of certainty that if I were to leave my marriage because I dislike my husband and my marriage, the sense of betrayal my husband would feel and the practical logistical ramifications to my children would be no less than if I were to leave because of an OM. I’m not “just saying that” or making it up—I believe it in my heart of hearts.

Again, I’m not saying that I might as well cheat first then. But a split family is a split family—an abandoned spouse is an abandoned spouse—displaced children are displaced children—regardless of whether the chicken or the egg come first. JMHO.

You are certainly welcome to your opinion but I have my opinion also.

JMHO, infidelity exposes all involved to SEVERAL layers of trauma that is not necessary. All involved includes the unfaithful spouse.

The difference is much like not just leaving the house but setting it on fire first.

tushnurse posted 8/15/2019 14:52 PM

At surface level it seems like that would be a logical argument.

However when taking a deeper dive, it is not.

I am unhappy and want a D is much easier on the other spouse, they have not been victimized, they have not had their trust destroyed. They know that the other person is choosing to leave, because that spouse is unhappy. In such a situation each person is only bearing their own issues.

However when it comes to infidelity it's a double whammy when you talk about the level of betrayal. You have been victimized by the one person in the world that is supposed to have your back. Along with that you have to deal with the loss of the M that you believed you had, and for many of us, we believed it was a decent M prior to Dday.

The damage done to the children is not nearly the same, and often when D is done w/ both parents can co parent much more effectively when there isn't the level of betrayal that occurs when infidelity is involved. I have a friend that D'd and her and her H coparent together quite well, and her kids were little when it happened, and they grew up with a healthy happy mom who chose D because her H wasn't holding up his end of the bargain. He grew up eventually, but he always took responsibility for his kids, and they did an even split 50/50 parenting.

I have another friend who D'd after infidelity and they have never been able to effectively coparent and her pain and hatred for her X is palpable still (yes she needs to do more work on healing) but in this situation the level of betrayal is layered in with everything else. The kids know that mom hates dad. That's not good.

So no they aren't the same and the outcomes/results of them are quite different.

JSS1227 posted 8/15/2019 14:58 PM

Another thing to consider is the loss of time/affection/support from the WS that the BS and children feel during the A. For example:

My youngest child had a medical emergency and then subsequent medical issue during the A. Instead of being there supporting me and my daughter through these very difficult procedures and appointments, WH used it as an opportunity to see and have sex with his AP, once at her house and once at mine. My daughter adored WH, and often looked to him for support/comfort; she certainly would have benefited from his presence with her, but he chose to be in my bed having sex with OW at that time instead. Yes, I know he is her stepdad, but he always wanted to be considered a parent and not a step parent, and he was certainly on the receiving end of all the love and respect that goes along with that.

Even if a WS doesn’t do something as damaging and despicable as my WH did, what about all the time and effort that goes into the A that could be going in to the family instead? All the time spent thinking about AP, texting, emailing, sending pics, sneaking off??

Luna10 posted 8/15/2019 15:07 PM

There’s one thing to divorce because you didn’t have anything left, after trying and working on your marriage and reaching the conclusion it isn’t salvageable, and quite another to divorce because your spouse gaslighted you, betrayed you and you know that when they betrayed you they betrayed their kids too as by abusing their mother/father you are abusing them. (Let alone that when cheating the kids’ heartbreak doesn't even comes to mind should they find out that daddy/mommy left for another woman/man).

There’s one thing to be able to say to your kids “mommy and daddy don’t get along anymore and they decided to separate/divorce” rather than the kids witnessing one of their parent on the floor sobbing while the other takes off into the sunset with a stranger they never heard of.

It’s quite simple: not getting along, talking about it with your spouse, agree to make some changes or divorce after you tried to rescue the marriage = good parent, did everything they could to work on it, it didn’t work out, divorced, gave the kids time to adjust, later on dated.

Finding the “love of your life” while still married and leading your spouse to believe you’re happy, faithful, a dedicated parent while screwing another person on the side not even giving your spouse the chance to maybe make amends if possible and save the marriage, allowing your kids’ life to be one day, everything is fine, the next day dday happens and their parents are crying, shouting separated over night or attacking each other = bad parent.

My own example: my husband led me to believe we’re in a happy marriage (which he still insists was the case although a bit routined). My kids witness their parents always holding hands, spending all their free time together, still kissing, cuddling on the sofa every night, very rarely arguing, laughing together and even me sitting in my husband’s lap during the affair (which I had no knowledge off). What do you think my kids felt when their mum lost 33 lbs in 3 weeks, cried for hours in her bedroom, became a shadow of her old self?

How good of a parent was my WH then?

Divorcing from “natural causes” is quite different. The kids can see the marriage deteriorate too. They aren’t taken by surprise. They can see the parents spending little or no time together. Avoiding each other. Going to counselling maybe. In my case my kids would have gone full shock. Seeing your parents literally kissing and holding hands, saying ILY one day to “bam! Daddy’s gone off into the sunset”.

I’ll push it even further: my WH took the affair underground after asking for a chance to R. For 4 months his AP threatened him on and off to call me and tell me. (She was already calling me and hanging up before dday 2). She once called and hanged up while my youngest, 11, was in the car and he saw it knowing it was her. I was shaking and anxious. How good of a parent was he putting his child in that situation and risking his AP actually telling me in front of DD and me being so frail that I would certainly have had a breakdown?

How good of a parent is a WS when they are gaslighting the other parent and making them feel crazy and paranoid? Basically affecting their kids’ daily routine and upbringing by debilitating their other parent?

[This message edited by Luna10 at 3:12 PM, August 15th (Thursday)]

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