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Infidelity, divorce, children, families

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humantrampoline posted 8/19/2019 18:10 PM

I think I'm late to the party and mostly everyone else is done with this topic. I'm not expecting much interaction, so maybe these thoughts are just for me.

Darkness Falls,

Of course your opinion is valid and valued. Probably 75%+ of opinions here are that infidelity pre-divorce is more harmful to the family and children then divorce without infidelity. Your marriage and infidelity situation are unique, and I'd like to hear you elaborate.

I'm trying to understand your assertion that "the practical logistical ramifications to my children would be no less" if you left for an OM vs divorcing your husband prior.

I get the impression that you are not emotionally satisfied in your marriage, and that you feel your husband is not either. (I'm basing this on other posts where you said you wish you hadn't married him and that your husband told you he wished he never met you.) It also sounds like you don't envision your marriage relationship ever improving. Therefore, you see your marriage as largely a business partnership to raise children. That's why you feel there would be no additional emotional pain/trauma for either of you as a result of infidelity vs divorce? It might be good to ask your husband to make sure he feels that way.

I'm sorry for you, your husband, and your children. It sounds like you are all in a difficult situation, and I hope you find a solution. You both are comparatively young and have many years left to live.

I'm trying to frame this by putting the emotional impact to a BS aside, because the initial assumption is about only viewing how it affects family and children aside from BS.

As a parent I think my spouse is an important part of my child's life and it's part of my parenting job to help keep myself and my spouse around and healthy to care for our child and not be a burden to them. The STD risk naturally comes up. I guess a parent could mitigate (but not eliminate) that with HPV vaccine, other protection, and not having sex with your spouse while in an affair. Is it a risk worth taking, and is it fair to expose the other parent to it?

There are also many stories here of affair partners/OBS doing things that hurt or damage families in myriad profound ways during and well after affairs. That's another risk to your family/children.

Personally, I think the two reasons above alone make affairs an act of bad parenting. I think the terms “bad mother” or “bad father” add a black/white dimension and an unnecessary layer of shame. Mothers seem particularly sensitive to it. Most of us have an act of bad parenting now and then. This is a serious act to me, and there are more reasons why.

hikingout, wrote

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.

Unfortunately, those things above are not things a wayward can control when they have an affair.

A parent modeling the behavior of deceit, betrayal, selfishness, and a lack of integrity and empathy is not good parenting. I don't think the child's age matters. I think it would be emotionally difficult if a teen/young adult child finds out years later that a parent had been engaged in infidelity while they were forming their first adult relationships and listening to their parent's relationship advice or using that marriage as a model. There's no real immunity to that. There are plenty of stories of AP or OBS or evidence coming out years later. My own WH still has a hard time facing and comprehending his own parents' infidelity revealed in his late 30s, although they are not divorced.

Also, I've seen infidelity have long term effects on other relationships between other siblings and extended family members too. So yeah, I don't think there's many cases where the children are unaffected. At the very least, it's taking a big parenting risk for a selfish gain.

That's all an opinion – my opinion. I hope I don't sound hysterical. I don't feel hysterical. For what it's worth, I think my WH is a better father overall now then he was before the affair. I'm ok with what my son has learned from this situation. I don't like it that he's had to live through this, but I prefer that it's out there with honesty.

Darkness Falls posted 8/19/2019 18:25 PM


Sorry I’m late getting back to you, and sorry to everybody else—I actually forgot about this thread....

What I meant by the practical, logistical ramifications being the same whether infidelity was involved vs. not was that:

- their dad and I would each be single parents with all that entails—maintaining separate residences, singly responsible for the children while they are in our care, etc.

- the children would have to deal with shared custody and visitation back and forth

- depending on how the custody arrangement worked out, one of us would be paying child support to the other, or else we would each be solely responsible for each household’s finances

- adjustments would need to be made by both parents vis-ŕ-vis scheduling and transportation for the children: school, special-needs child’s therapy, etc.

All of these would be the case whether there was infidelity or not.

Striver posted 8/19/2019 18:29 PM

To me it mattered what the source of the unhappiness was.

My ex was unhappy because she couldn't fuck the man she wanted to fuck. She didn't marry that man, even though he was single, because he wouldn't have married her at the time because he was a commitment phobe. He eventually decides to commit and she runs right off.

There is nothing I could have done to fix that. Nothing. I was simply used by my ex as a sperm donor and now co-parent and source of child support.

This is a different level of unhappiness than what is actually going on between two people. What went on between her and me was always completely irrelevant.

Would an actual PA have been worse? I suppose. Maybe not, if it was with some random guy and I actually mattered to her. Finding out you're always second best to someone whom you had kids with, ALWAYS second best, that's terrific.

So now that is my standard for relationships. That someone can end them at any time, for a reason that they constantly lied about.


Iwasyoungonce posted 8/19/2019 21:00 PM

I can have my arm surgically removed or ripped off by a bear.

The end result is the same in that I am without the arm. But the second scenario would be far more traumatic, and leave much worse scars.

That's essentially my opinion about divorce vs. divorce due to infidelity.

Darkness Falls posted 8/19/2019 21:02 PM

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts. I understand that the consensus is that although the end result is the same, the infidelity changes much. Thank you all.

Sadwife53 posted 8/20/2019 01:42 AM

Message sent to the children (of any age) by a loved and respected parent who has an affair:
It’s acceptable to lie and cheat in order to get what you want.
No need to think about who will get hurt. I agree that if the children never find out, that message is not received. That doesn’t mean it wasn’t sent and it doesn’t mean it won’t be received in the future.

My WH sent the message to my adult married son that it’s acceptable to have his wife spend her youth loving and caring for him and then test drive a newer model for a trade in when she gets old.

My WH deluded himself into thinking he was a good parent to our college age daughters during the affair because he was paying the bills. They strongly disagreed when they discovered his text messages to his AP who was a few years older than they were.

[This message edited by Sadwife53 at 6:34 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

humantrampoline posted 8/20/2019 05:40 AM

Darkness Falls,

I appreciate everyone’s thoughts. I understand that the consensus is that although the end result is the same, the infidelity changes much. Thank you all.

What? Wait, please! Come back.

That is NOT my conclusion. I don't think it is the consensus, but I'll let others speak for themselves.

You MAY end up with having the same practical, logistical ramifications to your children and yourself. The bulk of the stories here indicate that you will LIKELY NOT end up in the same situation in both cases.

There are a ton of risks associated to your children, yourself, and your spouse with an affair that are not associated with divorce. STDs, physical harm from AP/OBS or family, career damage, emotional damage... Read the stories here.

It's possible to mitigate some of that risk, but there is so much harm and so many things that could go wrong. It's even a fallacy to look back if your family/children came out relatively unscathed (for now) and evaluate based on that.

If I put all my money in cryptocurrencies today, and they go up 300% in a few days, I can call myself a great investor. Or I can admit the risks I took and that I got lucky.

I know humans are not good at assessing risk. It baffles me why a parent who wouldn't consider allowing their child to ride in the car without a seatbelt would consider an affair acceptable risk.

Thanksgiving2016 posted 8/20/2019 08:55 AM

Wow this thread makes me weep. But it also confirms what I know deep down. That waywards wil never truly understand.

hikingout posted 8/20/2019 09:05 AM


I can only speak for myself - and that is what I said originally was taken into a different context when this thread was formed.

But, when I spoke up in this one it was to say that honestly infidelity and just straight up divorce wasn't interchangeable. There is more carnage added to the divorce with infidelity involved. The kids are put in a situation where their parent was traumatized and they absorb that.

In my case, I certainly wasn't a model anything in having an affair. I wasn't considering anyone but myself - so in that regard I was not a good wife or parent or person for that matter while conducting my affair. But this started on another thread in which the offenses being listed were not mine because my children were grown. And, I mean things like taking time away from them (the closest any of my children live to me is 3 hours away - we are rural so all my children moved at college and then spread out as a result), taking away their security, other things that really would only happen while they were in the home. So the statement I made was if we had divorced, the ramifications for them were all mostly the same because they weren't there experiencing it. Yes, they may have new issues with me for some time. But in my particular case I know my H and I would have put away anything between us to support them. We would have been respectful at weddings and kids birthday parties, because we have already been in that situation with his ex-wife. While there was no infidelity in that situation there was definitely contentiousness that would have been almost equitable and it was always put away for the interests of the kids.

At any rate, the reason I said what I said was in a completely different context and for completely different reasons. And that's why I said what you are asking about.

[This message edited by hikingout at 9:07 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

Zugzwang posted 8/20/2019 09:16 AM

One involves manipulation, deceit, betrayal, taking free will. Gee the list goes on and on about how cruel a person can be to others for their selfish gain while still keeping a faithful partner that thinks things are still working.

The other involves real life and truth. A healthy respectful way to end things. Healthy coping skills to real life issues. Being a person of integrity and honor.

Personally I can't see how either results are anywhere near the same. Not to mention the BS always ask, why didn't you just divorce me instead of doing cruel things to me. I think that speaks for itself. I know many divorced couples that have very amicable relationships and the children adjusted just fine. Every BS that moved on and ended things that we know. Well, there is still pain and resentment. The divorced parents don't get along and the children have resentment issues too.

Cheating and affairs do happen in a vacuum because it has nothing to do with the marriage or spouse. Just the unhealthy wayward that chooses to cake eat while staying married for whatever reason they choose to stay married. Doesn't matter why they stayed married. They still chose to it.

[This message edited by Zugzwang at 9:25 AM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

humantrampoline posted 8/20/2019 10:42 AM


Thank you for taking the time to respond. It's understandable that your situation is uniquely your own, and you are speaking to that only. I understand that you didn't take time away from your children or engage in several other activities.

I do disagree with this statement.

the ramifications for them were all mostly the same because they weren't there experiencing it.

This is a projection of the future. There is no way for you to know this. In fact, you may have to face them finding out someday. They may have to face that and the ramifications. You also undeniably put your children, you, and their father at other risks through the affair. It seems because you suffered no negative impact from those risks to date, you aren't acknowledging them. Or you have some hindsight bias to think that you were in control of things you never were.

I will speak to my own situation. My father had an affair and left my mother about 35 years ago. I'm mid 50s now. My father stayed with his AP for about 25 years until she died. Neither she nor her daughter and daughter's children have ever been invited to any of my siblings' houses or our family events like weddings, etc. My father was not invited to the births of his grandchildren. I occasionally visited my father after my son was born, but never his AP.

I have one sibling who has never spoken to my father since his affair. That brother has been in the room with my dad twice in 35 years, at two of my siblings' weddings. He did not come to a public service for my mother's death. He didn't say why, but I imagine he could not face my father.

I'm grateful for my siblings, and even most of my father's extended family, for not accepting his AP. I would have skipped many family events if she were invited. I did not go to my favorite uncle's funeral. He was a RC Monsignor, and I thought my father taking his AP was disrespectful. I don't practice the faith. I just thought it was low.

I see my father a few times a year. My younger brother invites him over for Thanksgiving. My older brother doesn't come. I don't spend Thanksgiving with my older brother anymore. That sucks.

This isn't my mother's fault or influence. She tried to encourage relationships. My mother does not dictate how my siblings and I treat our father. My mother was never allowed to invite my father's AP to our family events. Things would have been different if my father had treated my mother with respect at the end of their marriage. I do carry emotional hurt from it.

To me, these all feel like ramifications - practical, logistical, whatever - of an affair, not a divorce. You could argue that I'm projecting an alternate future. Maybe, but the feeling of disrespect my father had toward my mother and all of us in trying to push his new family on us is still there. My mother and my father's AP are dead, and my dad still tries to repair relationships. I just feel that ship has sailed.

The other situation I know of is my WH's cousin. His father left his mother for his AP about 20 years ago when his cousin was in his 20s. His cousin didn't speak to his father or attend paternal family events for several years specifically because of the way his father treated his mother. When the cousin got married about 15 years ago, he invited his paternal grandmother. They grew up with adjoining backyards and were very close. Grandma was offended the rest of the paternal family was not invited, so she wouldn't speak to her grandson for years. I saw the cousin at Grandma's 100 birthday party last year. His dad's AP/new wife was there. I think the relationships are still strained but they exist.

Maybe children come out without additional ramifications at times. I think more often they don't.

DoinBettr posted 8/20/2019 11:24 AM

My dad was cheating on my mom and that is what triggered their divorce.

I can say, the divorce with adultery is worse.
Afterward, my mom hated my dad and made every event really difficult to deal with.
Also, other stuff was happening which my dad couldn't help with because my mom was losing her mind on him. To this day, he says cheating was a really stupid idea.

My friend's parents were divorced because they became sexless and he divorced after 2 years of that before cheating. She said she would try to fix things, the dad said he was done. They were cordial after that and even hooked up once or twice after the divorce. They went on a stint of dates, then called it quits again.

They even went on vacations together after the divorce. So, the straight up divorce was by far the better decision for my friend their kid.

hikingout posted 8/20/2019 13:11 PM


I don't really argue with what you are saying, you are right I have not had to deal with it and I really can't predict what that future would be.

For what it's worth, I have not avoided the repercussions, that's been a joint decision. I would tell them if we both thought it was in anyone's best interest to do so. There are in fact just different ones due to not telling them but they are really mine to carry on my own.

I do have some confidence that my children are mature and at an age they could process and learn from my decisions. I am not saying it wouldn't hurt them, and I am not saying it wouldn't effect our relationship for sometime if not forever.
At this point, I don't forsee us ever telling them. And, in many ways I just try and be thankful they were spared and leave it at that for now.

On the other hand, there is no real reason for me to process this as a reality, it's a bridge that if we come to it we will cross as a family, and we will do our best. I don't actually think that it's necessary for me to sit and be accountable for every single thing that might have happened but didn't. That seems to be a theme sometimes here. I don't need those warnings in order to be a safe partner and not repeat these destructive decisions in my life. I have plenty of reasons to never do that again, I have had enough shame to process and work through and I have worked hard on changing the things that led to those decisions. The "this could have happened, or this or this or this" - that probably would have been helpful beforehand, had I been willing to look at any of it rather than just ignoring it. But, those things didn't happen. Enough did, far more than enough for me to already know what is needed moving forward.

Marz posted 8/20/2019 13:16 PM

Yes, your family would still be split up, but it would have been done with care and respect.

This sums it up quite nicely.

It takes the cake eating and entitlement out of the equation.

[This message edited by Marz at 1:18 PM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

Poppy704 posted 8/20/2019 16:31 PM

I left my BH. We are less than 2 weeks away from a decree being issued.

We talked and talked and talked about the ultimate “why” of our divorce, and the narrative of me being a floozy to his innocent victim was a lot easier for him to swallow than the truth, I just couldn’t stand another fucking day being his wife.

The whole “you should’ve divorced” spiel always struck me as a rather silly hypothetical,idealized statement, and even more so now that I work for a divorce attorney while going through my own divorce.

Divorce is ALWAYS a betrayal and a rejection. It is the manifestation of “I don’t want YOU anymore”. Even the most cordial divorce between amicable parties started with one person telling g the other that they wanted out.

Darkness Falls posted 8/20/2019 16:38 PM

Divorce is ALWAYS a betrayal and a rejection. It is the manifestation of “I don’t want YOU anymore”. Even the most cordial divorce between amicable parties started with one person telling g the other that they wanted out.

This sums up the point I was trying to make with this thread.

HellFire posted 8/20/2019 16:53 PM

But, when there is no infidelity involved, and one spouse says they are filing, there is still a level of respect shown towards the other spouse, the family, and the themselves.

It's honest. It's not abusive.

It doesn't surprise me that waywards don't really see the difference. It just reinforces that many waywards will never really get the mindfuck of infidelity.

Oldwounds posted 8/20/2019 17:00 PM

Despite the many varied perceptions of the initial post, I can agree that divorce is absolutely a rejection, but I don't see it in the same light as the intended deception that goes with betrayal.

The end result is similar, the family is split up, but I appreciate an honest rejection of "I don't want to be married" versus the lies of infidelity. Let me hurt you by being with someone else first and then I'll be on my way.

In other words, I think even if the results end up similar, betrayal adds a layer of cruel and unusual punishment atop the standard rejection of divorce.

DevastatedDee posted 8/20/2019 17:13 PM

Divorce is ALWAYS a betrayal and a rejection. It is the manifestation of “I don’t want YOU anymore”. Even the most cordial divorce between amicable parties started with one person telling g the other that they wanted out.

Well of course. Thing is, that's WAY BETTER than "I don't respect you enough to be honest with you, so I would rather play you for a fool and let you continue thinking you're in a real marriage".

It's about respect and empathy. It's a lot easier to deal with someone who respects you and has empathy for you than to deal with someone who doesn't in ANY situation. Divorce is definitely one of the more important situations for those two things.

DebraVation posted 8/20/2019 17:42 PM

I don't think 'You should have divorced rather than cheat' is silly or hypothetical.

Cheating, and then (possibly) divorcing, just says to the BS, "Well I don't really think much of you, but I decided to hedge my bets and see if I could actually get anything better, whilst keeping you in the background just in case."


The other thought I have when reading threads like this is that some of it reads like people NEED a partner at all times. Therefore, if one partner isn't performing in some way, they need another one to overlap in terms of time so that there's no gap where they're in danger of being alone. I find that interesting, as I don't NEED another adult in order to function. I know that if I were to divorce, I'd be alone at least for a while. Perhaps that's one reason some people become waywards in the first place, this attaching your identity on to your role as half of a partnership. I don't know.

[This message edited by DebraVation at 5:46 PM, August 20th (Tuesday)]

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