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Infidelity, divorce, children, families

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sassylee posted 8/15/2019 15:16 PM

I know several people who have divorced. (Sadly, Iím sure many of us do!) Those with amicable divorces experienced no infidelity. They speak with regret and say things like ďWe did counselling for years - it was just better to end it.Ē And ďIt was for the best - we married too you g and had different goals.Ē Those with infidelity as part of their divorce story - their coparenting stories are much different - lots of hostility and resentment.

If my husband had asked for a divorce (he didnít because he wasnít unhappy until he met OW) but had he been so unhappy in the marriage to end it ethically, there likely would have been discussions about what was making him unhappy, possibly attempts to rectify these issues, attempts at MC - all before the divorce was decided as the final solution. Yes, it would have disrupted our family - but nowhere near the extent his affair did.

In fact - my husband did ask for a separation because he was unhappy (this was when family was interfering with his time with OW). He listed several things he was unhappy with and I stepped up. Cleaned more, stayed up late to greet him when home...those were his issues. But of course - that wasnít really what was making him unhappy and destroying our marriage.

Divorce is always unfortunate...but a way better alternative to the destruction a dday brings.

[This message edited by SI Staff at 3:18 PM, August 15th (Thursday)]

Candyman66 posted 8/15/2019 15:32 PM

YES! Definitely divorce rather than cheat ESPECIALLY IF CHILDREN ARE INVOLVED!!! Had my first wife just divorced me I would have been still in my children's life. As it was with the combination of my skills in killing (in combat) and my NEVER before experienced RAGE I wound up having to move over 1200 miles so that I did not live in constant fear of killing someone.


emergent8 posted 8/15/2019 15:33 PM

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.

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.

*Puts hand up*

Let me start by saying, that I'm not the "typical" child effected by infidelity/divorce. I had a happy childhood and what I understood to be an ideal home life and I was "technically" an adult when my dad left my mother suddenly and without warning (to me). I was in my second year of university and living in another city. He met with my mother and informed her that he was moving out as life was too short to be in an unhappy marriage. Several months later, my siblings and I learned that he was living with AP (and her kid). It was absolutely a gut-punch to my soul that my father was leaving us for another family - it felt like he had cheated on all of us.

Looking back, my mother was a saint in the aftermath of D-Day, but I didn't feel like it at the time. If she knew or had an inkling of his infidelity at the time (I now strongly suspect she had some idea), she never told us. She also did her best to never speak negatively about him to us - though I still remember resenting her at times for what was (now) obviously the emotional fallout and financial fallout, of being left suddenly. I felt responsible for my youngest sibling who still lived at home during the time and wasn't as good about recognizing that my mom deserved some room to grieve. Their relationship was adversely affected, I also resented my sister for acting like a martyr while simultaneously being grateful that I had the physical space that allowed me to rugsweep my own feelings.

At some point, I remember learning that this was not my father's first affair and that there had been a prior one that my mother had attempted to forgive in an attempt to keep our family in tact. I'm embarrassed/ashamed to admit this now, but I remember losing respect for my mother upon learning this. I had always believed that infidelity was an automatic dealbreaker. I thought she was weak, and it seemed unsurprising to me that he had gone on to do it again. What did she expect!? Once a cheater always a cheater right? I also remember thinking she was foolish for allowing a situation to occur where she was in any way dependent on her husband's earning capacity.

Learning of my father's infidelity was also tough for me for other reasons. I had always had enormous respect for him and took pride in the fact that everyone had always said that I was just like him. I was even in school to go into his profession. What did that say about me and MY character? Did my extended family look at me with the same disdain that they now looked at him? It is a difficult part of growing up to realize that your parents are just flawed people - this was different. Losing respect for your parents (particularly a parent you identify with) is tough - it changes your whole worldview and sense of self. I still struggle with this now.

I spent my 20s telling myself I would do better than them. I finished school and got a great job. I focused on my career so that I could entirely self-sufficient - I never wanted to be emotionally or financially reliant on another person. I found a partner that was my equal and treated me as such - we were truly in love and had a very egalitarian relationship. In the vast majority of ways, he was nothing like my father and I was nothing like my mother. I was a "cool girl" and was okay with same-sex friendships. I made sure to keep it fresh and interesting in the bedroom so he would never have a reason to stray. It didn't matter.

My own D-Day and the aftermath brought forward a lot of my own issues with the breakdown of my parents's marriage (many that I didn't know I had). It's my own FOO story - it continues to effect me now in how I view myself, my parents and my siblings. I obviously can't say what would have happened if things occurred differently. Divorce is obviously difficult and complicated and life-altering for kids (even adult children!) with or without infidelity, but my personal opinion is NO, not all split families are created equally.

KingRat posted 8/15/2019 15:46 PM

Iím a BS and this is the bomb I got: the ďI love you but Iím not in love with youĒ 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 ďhe had met someoneĒ, 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 donít think that a spouse just telling you out of the blue: I donít 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.


I think this entire discussion boils down to the "grass is greener" effect. It's a common fallacy that all of us fall victim to. We look at our actual experience and compare it to other experiences based on what we believe those experiences to be and not what they actually are.

For example, when I was in school and stressed, I remember thinking that working would be so much easier. You didn't have the stress of exams, you didn't have to take it home with you, and any sort of bullshit you had to to take you at least go paid for it. When I started working, I remember thinking about how much I wished I was in school. I had so much more flexibility with my schedule, the stresses in school were much more manageable in many ways, and all the compensation just went to paying for my school and other bills.

The point is they both had negative components that were different but were still based in stressed nonetheless. And when I was in the thick of it, the other seemed like such a better option than the one I was dealing with.

I remember hearing someone mention something to the effect of: Well, at least if I was cheated on I wouldn't feel like it was my fault and it would be so much easier to hate that other person and move on. And I'm sitting there thinking, are you fucking kidding me? But I can see how she could feel that way and it make sense on a logical level despite not taking into account the emotional state of self-blame that BSs experience even though their higher brains tell them it is completely irrational.

Now, don't get me wrong I think that infidelity does bring other issues that a divorce would not. However, many of the hardships described aren't a result of the betrayal per se, but due to the process of trying to put Humpty Dumpty back together again in R. It's not that they lied to us and rejected us, it's how do we reconcile and trust someone who lied and rejected us.

JSS1227, I'm sorry you had to endure that. That is truly awful for your family. I think though there are some distinctions. You mentioned you divorced your first husband, whereas your second husband cheated on you and you are still together. In the first instance, you were the partner doing the rejecting, and in the second instance, you were the one rejected. Naturally, it's going to be much more devastating when it is not your choice and there isn't a clean break than asking for a divorce whereby the process is amicable and your ex wants to ensure a clean transition for the sake of the children. Also, I believe children at different ages are more vulnerable to the impact. I am no way trying to minimize any damage and pain you felt, I am merely pointing out there are subtle distinctions that would not make that an apples-to-apples comparison. I hope you are not offended as that was not my intent.

What I take from HO's comments is that infidelity which results in divorce (not reconciliation) does bring a different set of challenges and obstacles for a BS to process and overcome compared to a partner asking for a divorce. However, it is a fallacy to assume that a partner asking for a divorce is a much easier and palatable alternative for the entire family. Rejection is rejection and grief is grief no matter how you slice it. Both are inherent in divorce no matter the reason for it and both must be dealt with.

farsidejunky posted 8/15/2019 15:49 PM

I am a BS.

I am also a child of infidelity related divorce.

I was eight when my dad left. I can tell you unequivocally that I couldn't care less that he was leaving for another woman. I was mostly just angry with both of my parents because they had promised me they would never divorce...and broke that promise.

I didn't care what led to it. I just wanted my parents back together.

So much of this discussion is from a BS perspective rather than a child's perspective. Not unlike being a BS, I would say it's hard to envision exactly what it's like to be a child of divorce unless you have been one.

In the meantime, the hysterics regarding the mere thought that a WS may actually be able to be a good parent while in the midst of their affair is rather baffling to me. I have seen time and time again on this site, and others, The uncanny knack for a WS to successfully compartmentalize their life. Not always... but not never, either.

It's sort of like saying that all infidelity should end in divorce, or that all people who reside in a certain neighborhood are bad.

When you paint anything in life with the broad-brush of generalization, you run the risk of being inaccurate. And frankly, if you want your words to be credible, accuracy should matter.

My post is is really just a lengthy way to say that neither side in this debate is wrong.

hikingout posted 8/15/2019 16:04 PM

Thank you far side junky. And king rat.

I never would say infidelity or just plain divorce is the same playing field. I donít think darkness falls is saying that either. My comments are really out of context, they were specifically in another post in which someone said that a ws is a bad parent. I said I was a good mother and then that caused a few to question me about that.

Look, I was a really bad person in the affair, I say that every where. But these comments were specific to shutting down a conversation in which I felt that I was being asked to defend my experience of motherhood. And I just wasnít doing it. Still not, just trying to explain in case their are people who now think I am saying infidelity and divorce is the same difference. Thatís not at all what I was saying. I donít think darkness falls is saying that either.

[This message edited by hikingout at 4:05 PM, August 15th (Thursday)]

HellFire posted 8/15/2019 16:13 PM

Hiking, my comments were not meant to shut down the conversation. I was asking you if you truly felt you were an excellent parent during your affair. I genuinely dont understand how any WS can say they were an excellent parent during a time when they were abusing the other parent. However, I had forgotten your children were adults during your affair. And, I believe, I said I believed a WS could be an excellent parent before the affair, and after the affair, just not during. The fact that your children were grown and out of the house changes that.

[This message edited by HellFire at 4:13 PM, August 15th (Thursday)]

hikingout posted 8/15/2019 16:18 PM

Hellfire - I am not upset about it, or at you.i understand why you said what you said, and the others. Itís just we so often go under a lot of assumptions on this site, all of us - me included. It was more a time to reinforce why details matter. But I had to explain the context because getting into this thread I didnít want people to assume I had said somewhere that there was no difference between cheating and divorce.

Luna10 posted 8/15/2019 16:37 PM

A good parent protects their child and puts them first. Even when they decide to divorce the kidsí interests are first such as the best coparenting ways, not introducing new partners in their lives till they are used to being in a new split family dynamics, realising that a civilised divorce means that when the kid graduates from college, gets married, becomes a parent, both parents can participate and be in the same room without the lifelong tension infidelity often generates. A good parent does not intentionally destroy the kids family.

Infidelity is not protecting the kids but openly inviting a stranger to stab their heart. Thatís exactly how I perceive my WHís actions: he invited and allowed his AP to do everything possible to harm his kids.

So thereís one thing to have your marriage collapse naturally in front of your children and quite another to openly invite someone else to take a hammer to their hearts.

JSS1227 posted 8/15/2019 17:05 PM

JSS1227, I'm sorry you had to endure that. That is truly awful for your family. I think though there are some distinctions. You mentioned you divorced your first husband, whereas your second husband cheated on you and you are still together. In the first instance, you were the partner doing the rejecting, and in the second instance, you were the one rejected. Naturally, it's going to be much more devastating when it is not your choice and there isn't a clean break than asking for a divorce whereby the process is amicable and your ex wants to ensure a clean transition for the sake of the children. Also, I believe children at different ages are more vulnerable to the impact. I am no way trying to minimize any damage and pain you felt, I am merely pointing out there are subtle distinctions that would not make that an apples-to-apples comparison. I hope you are not offended as that was not my intent.

No offense taken KingRat I was more trying to describe the differences in how the two situations impacted the kids rather than just me. And in my first marriage, it was very mutual as well as amicable; we both put forth some effort to salvage it over a period of time, but then agreed it was best to separate, and we both still feel this was the right decision. Of course it was still difficult; but it was not the total shitstorm and mindfuck that my WHís infidelity has created, and did not create the turmoil for both myself and my kids that the A has.

emergent8 posted 8/15/2019 17:17 PM

HO - I didn't read your comments (in this thread or the original thread on which this is based) to suggest that you were equating divorce with cheating, and I hope you did not read my comments on this thread as an attack on your parenting or as taking your comments out of context. That was certainly not my intention and not my point.

I will say that I did read Darkness Falls comments in the original post to suggest that she believed the fallout to her kids would be the same if she cheated than if she had simply left. "A split family is a split family." THAT was the point I took issue with and was trying to address with my post.

To be clear, I that a WS can be a good parent, just as a BS can be a bad one. Parents are people and people aren't all good or all bad.

hikingout posted 8/15/2019 17:36 PM

I did not think that emergent. But thank you for taking time and caring to check.

Striver posted 8/15/2019 18:38 PM

There is a difference when the divorce happens because of the infidelity.

My ex left me to be with her AP, whom she has married. That is why our marriage ended. Not because we were exhausted in working on it. That never happened.

AP was single and available, and she knew him, when we got married. She married me because I wanted kids, he didn't. Now she has the kids, my money, his money, him. I was played. Whole thing was a sham.

But... it was an EA only, as far as I know. Or she just knew him, knew he would have her and nailed it all down before leaving. There are people here that will justify what she did, say that is better than having a PA. Her betrayal of me was emotional. It's still a betrayal. I don't know what a PA is like, that is other peoples' situations. What my ex did, yes, it had a huge, painful impact on me.

BetterTimesAhead posted 8/19/2019 13:20 PM

I think there absolutely is a difference. If there is no A, it shows the children that you can still have respect for someone even if things don't work out. An A causes animosity and lifelong consequences for all involved. Divorce is never a pleasant experience for anyone, but without an A it is easier to try to mitigate the effect it has on the children. With an A, it involves so much more in the way of betrayal, selfishness not to mention the WS being a poor role model for the children. Even though I am in limbo, I worry every day what type of effect WH's cheating will have on my son long term. From all the reading I've done, I've discovered that children who have a parent who cheats are actually more likely to be cheaters themselves (WH's father and grandfather both cheated). I really hope that's not the case with my son.

humantrampoline posted 8/19/2019 13:33 PM

Help. Please clarify. I don't understand and am quite confused.


I never would say infidelity or just plain divorce is the same playing field. I donít think darkness falls is saying that either.

Darkness Falls:

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 practical logistical ramifications to my children would be no less than if I were to leave because of an OM.

.... But a split family is a split familyóan abandoned spouse is an abandoned spouseódisplaced children are displaced childrenóregardless of whether the chicken or the egg come first.

hikingout, Please. Explain to me why you think (and you believe Darkness Falls thinks) it's in a different playing field? What type of different playing field for the family?

Darkness Falls,
Direct question: Do you think the consequences to the children are the same with infidelity/divorce/split family and no infidelity/divorce/split family?

Does the phrase "practical logistical" mean something specific for you and your children?

strugglebus posted 8/19/2019 14:44 PM

Divorce is hard. There is no "just divorce" when children are involved. Cheating is abusive and causes extra levels of harm.

That said, every single human on this site would have benefited if the WS in the situation just communicated in a straightforward honest way BEFORE they started their affair. "Hey Spouse, I am feeling really tempted. This person has been hitting on me/I'm really attracted to/I don't feel in control of this situation or myself" etc etc. Way easier than divorcing. Way kinder than cheating.

But in 99.999% of all cases the WS doesn't communicate that because they want to cheat, they don't see it as a problem to be solved but a great opportunity not to be missed.

It's the same reason they don't ask for a divorce. Because they want to cheat. It's all a moot point because in the end, most people are just doing what they want to do.

thatcantbetrue posted 8/19/2019 14:56 PM

^^^^^ This above, and so obviously!

When people say "you could (and should) have just divorced," it is a manner of speaking showing, through one extreme example, how obvious it is that there were other options to cheating, a known evil and devastating action.

That doesn't mean that divorce was the only option, it is an extreme given in the above saying, to shut up the pathetic excuses a typical WS will spew when they haven't been rebutted yet on it.

There is a world between divorce and just accepting to suffer in the statu quo you don't like, and all of it was entirely open to the WS all along.

The point unfortunately with this dichotomy, is to point out that instead of all the options they had, the WS chose the selfish, cowardly, knowingly devastating option.

DevastatedDee posted 8/19/2019 16:18 PM

100%, Strugglebus. Most WSs didn't want to divorce at all. They wanted their spouses AND to cheat. Most didn't even know how unhappy they were in their marriages before they decided that they wanted to cheat and needed to create justification for it. You don't usually see that it's either the WS cheats or tells the BS that he or she wants a divorce.

I'm not getting divorced because my WH doesn't want to be with me. I'm getting divorced because he was a cheating addict. Most WSs don't seem to want divorce on DDay.

DebraVation posted 8/19/2019 16:50 PM

I am writing as a BS, we are still together so I don't have experience of divorce, although it was a close run thing at the start.

I think that if we had divorced (without the infidelity first) or if we divorce in the future, it would be hard for the children/family. It WOULD be traumatic and it would take time to get used to the situation. The children would be affected no question.

BUT I think the effects of infidelity are far greater. Mine was a double betrayal which didn't help but in the space of a few minutes I'd lost (and by implication so had my children) the marriage, my job as I couldn't carry on with it, friends as our lives were pretty intertwined with the AP's life and friendship groups. There were effects at the children's school, parties that they go to...the list is never-ending. They had probably a year with a mother who wasn't functioning well at all beyond getting them to school and feeding them. Their schoolwork suffered as a result, and we are still feeling the effects of that. The feeling of everything you believed being proved to be false can't be described, suddenly you don't know if ANYTHING was real - you question if your friends knew, you question if your spouse really went to that meeting they said they needed to be at. I remember walking to the shop a few weeks after DDay and feeling like I was 'floating' as f I wasn't even really there. Our income as a family took a huge hit and we still have the effect of that as well. My eldest's mental health was impacted, he was anxious and worried for some time and I am not sure what the ongoing effect of that will be in the future.

So no, I don't think an 'honest' divorce is as bad as the aftermath of an affair. I think with a divorce, I'd have taken a hit but the way forward would have been clear and I would have dealt with it a lot better.

godheals posted 8/19/2019 16:53 PM

I had filed for D with my H when I was in my A. I often think I should of just filed for D and not cheat at all. I think me filing was a huge wake up call for the both of us to get out head out of ass and worked on our M.

I would say just D if your unhappy. Donít cheat. Itís not worth it.

Our children donít know about my A. My kids had a hard time during my H and I separation but once we got back together our kids were happy again. My H didnít show much change knowing about my A around the kids. He put up on a good front with the kids. Maybe there was same changes when the kids were around but they were not old enough to notice a difference.

I have a hard time with some of those statements. During our separation time I never once had my AP around my kids. My H didnít know about my A and he was not putting our kids best interest at heart. There were many lies on his part to make me look like the bad parent. We never had a problem with our oldest going to the park a block and a half a way as long as he was with his friends who was a few years older. One day a car hit his bike coming back, the car never hit him. Right away he emailed his lawyer that WE have never let him do this before and why was I letting him go to the park? This is bad parenting ect.... I had to explain to my lawyer yes WE both have let him do this countless time before and he was lying. My H did everything he could to make me look bad.

Not all Dís have the kids best interest at heart and that donít involved infidelity (or in our case didnít know at the time).

ďI genuinely dont understand how any WS can say they were an excellent parent during a time when they were abusing the other parent.Ē

I have never read any WS saying they were an excellent parent during their A. I was disrespecting their dad by cheating but I never put my kids a side to be with my AP I never neglected them. Not saying what I did was ok because I was still taking care of them. I still was being a good mom to them but just a bad parent by disrespecting their dad.

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