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Talking to Your Adult Children About Infidelity

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 6:15 PM on Monday, September 11th, 2023

Before I begin. Eternal Honor and Respect To All Victims of 9/11 and The Amazing First Responders. Never Forget Indeed.

Backstory. My betrayal was as a young Husband and Father. Thought Id hit the jackpot and it turned into pot of cr@p when my then wife betrayed me with my ex best friend. For a guy who grew up in an unstable (to put it mildly), fractured and abusive home, wanting to have what I never had, it was a massive blow. Ill spare you the shyt show of those years but it was awful, Though I tried to the best of my ability to rebuild for 10 years, it was for naught and extremely painful. I just didnt know what I didnt know. Im now in a great marriage with an exceptional woman who is also a survivor of a brutal betrayal. Ive also invested in years of excellent therapy/coaching to right the ship of my life.

Thats a bit of my story.

Some years ago I lost a friend due to infidelity. By "lost", I dont mean broken relationship, I mean self deletion. The pain of infidelity was, in their mind, so intense that life became unbearable. Shock and sorrow ensued, followed by extreme anger. Marital traitors do not factor in the massive detrimental effect that their betrayal will have on all involved. Lives may literally be at stake.

This triggered me big time. A lot of old feelings came roaring back. Thankfully, I now have a lot of tools onboard to mitigate that emotional flooding. During that time I also found this place and began using my voice and speaking out. Before that, I didnt speak much of it as there was lingering shame from my betrayal. Im silent no more.

So thats the backdrop which brings me to the title of my post.

Some time ago I had very serious discussions with my adult children individually. Some are married, others in serious committed relationships. In that discussion, I talked about how important fidelity was was in their relationships and how very much I detested infidelity/betrayal. In that discussion, I went as far as to say that, for me, blood will not trump infidelity and that if they ever betrayed their spouse/committed partner with someone else, they will be cut off and disinherited (we have a trust for our kids and grands). I discussed all alternatives when they have relationship challenges, what to do when they entertain thoughts of betraying their spouse/SO and what to do when they are flirted with/hit on. So, it wasnt all warning. They were pretty wide eyed when I laid it out but receptive and asked a lot of great questions.

I have recently been rethinking my strong approach. I hope I never ever have to enact this maxim, but it is a core conviction.

What are your thoughts? What have you communicated to your adult kids? I invite your feedback.

[This message edited by DobleTraicion at 12:29 AM, Tuesday, September 12th]

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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gr8ful ( member #58180) posted at 11:58 PM on Monday, September 11th, 2023

That’s interesting DT. I’ve also set up trusts for my kids (and they’re set for life). The trusts protect them from unfaithful spouses but I hadn’t considered the possibility they could make some horrific choices in life. I’ll need to think about this….

My first reaction is I think this is totally fair. You’ve taught them powerfully that their choices could have greater consequences than they once imagined. That could literally be the difference when they face their moment(s) of temptation.

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Dorothy123 ( member #53116) posted at 12:28 AM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

I dont have any children so cant put myself directly in your shoes.

As far as what you did, it's your money and you are welcomed to put whatever conditions on it as you like.

"I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!" Wicked Witch of the West.

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nomudnolotus ( member #59431) posted at 12:30 AM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

I don't really agree with this approach, this says your love is conditional. While I agree there should be consequences for the betrayer, I don't think that it should be "my father will stop loving me"

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Tanner ( Guide #72235) posted at 2:31 AM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

The discussions I've had with my grown kids is how devastating infidelity is. It's far more than "my spouse will be upset", if they cheat.

My Daughter was cheated on by her first H, my response was "I'm glad you're leaving his sorry ass". I had no idea how much she must have been hurting. It wasn't until my Dday that I realized how badly I failed my Daughter during that period of time. Thankfully she found a great man and they have a great M.

Dday Sept 7 2019 doing well in R BH M 32 years

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 1:15 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Thanks all.

gr8tful, you said:

The trusts protect them from unfaithful spouses but I hadn’t considered the possibility they could make some horrific choices in life. I’ll need to think about this….


We have that provision as well, and I dont have my warning baked into the trust verbiage, just warned that we would revise the trust to disinherit them if they ever betrayed their spouse. The converse iscovered.

Truth is Ive never read of parents being unsurprised of their adult children's adultery i.e. "I just knew they had it in them to cheat.". Most are shocked, saddened and angered. They say things like, "I didnt think they were capable of such a thing." Reactions like that. Right? My first wifes parents certainly were. As were my ex best friends parents. This was just one of the many terrible lessons of my betrayal.

You also said:

My first reaction is I think this is totally fair. You’ve taught them powerfully that their choices could have greater consequences than they once imagined. That could literally be the difference when they face their moment(s) of temptation.


This was my thought exactly. If in the moment of temptation, there was even a moment of reflection back to our conversation, which was as stern as I could make it...steel in my eyes, and give them cause to pause and not enact a terrible, terrible choice, it could literally save them and the effects on generations following.

Think of this too, how many times have we read here of betrayeds AND waywards who had one or both parents who cheated on each other and created great dysfunction and toxicity in their family and they still were either betrayed or betrayed their spouse. Its stunning really. Its sometimes generational, i.e., grandparents, parent(s), themselves. I wondered what would have happened if one or the other parent, or both had sat them down, been as transparent as possible, gave guidance about what to do if they are ever tempted and a stern warning about what would happen if they ever acted on the temptation to betray their spouse/SO. I also think of the children that needed therapy well into their adult lives due to the adultery of a parent and its aftermath.


These were my thoughts in that regard.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 1:49 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Thanks Dorothy123. You said its our money and we are free to do with it as we see fit. I agree and we have done just that. I believe that, to date, we have been wisely loving and generous in extending our resources to our kids as they grew into young adults. Now into full adulthood and self supporting, I want them to understand that those resources, will not be used to support/enable behavior such as infidelity.

Nomudnolotus, you said:

I don't really agree with this approach, this says your love is conditional. While I agree there should be consequences for the betrayer, I don't think that it should be "my father will stop loving me"

Thank you for this. Your response exactly why I posted here for feedback.

I considered my counsel and warning tough love. I love my kids and grands. I have reinforced this in word, deed, and affection over and over in their lifetimes. Sure, I disciplined when needed/warranted but it always also came with counsel and clearly communicated expectations as to behavior. I truly considered this warning an act of love...tough love.
Maybe elaborare a bit on your thoughts here. Id appreciate you digging a bit deeper.

Thank you.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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straightup ( member #78778) posted at 1:57 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

I once heard a woman who told her kids to be careful of who they bring home and ask to be treated by her parents as family. Because once that happens they stay family in her book, even if there is a break up.

The women had an outspoken, maternal way about her which was congruent with that.

It impressed me, and when my teenage children get into their 20’s I think I might have a conversation with them along similar lines.

If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
Mother Teresa

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 1:58 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

The discussions I've had with my grown kids is how devastating infidelity is. It's far more than "my spouse will be upset", if they cheat.

My Daughter was cheated on by her first H, my response was "I'm glad you're leaving his sorry ass". I had no idea how much she must have been hurting. It wasn't until my Dday that I realized how badly I failed my Daughter during that period of time. Thankfully she found a great man and they have a great M.

Thanks for this Tanner.

Ive had much the same discussion. I am so very sorry your Daughter had to experience this terrible trauma....made my stomach clench to think of it for my own kids. They all know if anythi g like that happened to them, their Mom and I would be right there by their side as we have in other crisis. Id be like an M1 Abrams ready to do battle.

I have had similar discussions with their spouses pre marriage btw and have great relationships with my sons/daughtees in law. They too know I mean business as to the ramifications of infidelity.

Continued strength and healing to both you and your daughter sir. So glad she has found a worthy man to share her life with.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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icytoes ( member #79512) posted at 4:25 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Child 1 cheats on their spouse, but is so discreet no one ever finds out.

Child 2 cheats on their spouse, feels guilty and comes to you for help and guidance.

Child 3’s partner accuses them of cheating, but child 3 swears up and down they never cheated and no evidence is ever found.

Who deserves to receive their inheritance?

I have thought a lot about this and have decided to avoid ultimatums with my children. I want them to always feel safe being honest with me.

It is wonderful that you have had conversations with your kids about infidelity. So many cheaters seem to not think about the consequences of their actions. I hope your discussions will help them make good choices and think before they act.

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zebra25 ( member #29431) posted at 7:11 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Would you also cut them off for being abusive to their spouses, driving drunk...

I also agree with the above poster. You may or may not know if they cheated and wouldn't you want them to feel they could talk to you?

If you didn't have money how would you handle this conversation with them?

"Don't let anyone who hasn't been in your shoes tell you how to tie your laces."

D-day April 2010

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GuyInPain ( member #55899) posted at 7:18 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

I have four grown children, three of whom are married with children. So I'm very aware of inheritance matters.

I would be devastated if any of our children cheated on their spouse, for my wife cheated on me & I know the pain & hurt that causes. While there has been very substantial healing over the years, the wound is always there.

Yet I would not disinherit a child who cheated, for I am still very much with my wife, whom I deeply love & with whom I intend to remain until death do us part.

Adultery is indeed one of life's deepest wounds. If a child of ours cheated on their spouse I would confront & counsel them. Once a parent, always a parent – so I would walk with them through that valley of the shadow & try to help them & the betrayed spouse come out into light at the other end.

But I would not disinherit a child for cheating.

GuyInPain

Me: BH, married to fWW & committed to her 'till death us do part'DD1: EA, followed by TT & MCDD2: EA revealed as PA, followed by more TT & no MCDD3: TT ended, now FT; R underway + IC & MC

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BluerThanBlue ( member #74855) posted at 10:00 PM on Tuesday, September 12th, 2023

Your money and assets are yours to do with as you choose; some people, for example, choose to donate all their money to charity because they don’t believe in dynastic wealth.

When deciding to put contingencies on an inheritance, however, you need to be cognizant of what the potential consequences would be for your survivors. Let’s say that one of your kids cheats and loses out on their inheritance. How will that impact his or her relationship with their siblings? Will there be conflict if the disinherited child contests your will? What if the cheating child reconciled with his or her spouse and the inheritance could’ve benefited the wronged spouse in some way? Do you want to inadvertently punish the BS and your grandkids for something your kid did?


Also, what is your goal in disinheriting a child for cheating? If it’s intended as a deterrent, it probably wouldn’t be successful anyway. If the threat of divorce— which involves practical consequences, such as losing money and access to children— isn’t enough to keep your kids faithful, nothing will.

BW, 40s

Divorced WH in 2015; now happily remarried

I edit my comments a lot for spelling, grammar, typos, etc.

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 12:54 AM on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

Wow. Thank you all. This is part of why I appreciate this place so much. Great perspectives to assist in striving for healthy balance.

Icytoes' scenerio made my guts clench. Thanks for the reality check.

Admittedly, I have been quite strident on this subject which ratcheted up following the loss of my friend. So many lives severely damaged and destroyed. So many families wrecked. For what?

Anyway, my thinking with my kids was that an ounce of strong prevention is worth a horrendous pound of "cure" (bad analogy but you know what Im driving at).

The thought that the more devious may get away with it while the less devious would not gave me additional cause to pause. I think the biggest thing that caught me up short was that I may actually impede the open flow of communication and approachableness with my kids. I do not want that. This bears careful consideration.

The ultimatum was not part of the legal verbiage of the trust, just a verbal warning at this point.

Again, thank you all.

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 9:01 PM on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

Follow up question due to Tanner's reply. For those of you who had adult kids who betrayed their spouse, how did you handle it? Is there anything you would do differently?

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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Napickle ( new member #78799) posted at 9:57 PM on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

2 different adult daughters were the ones that originally caught my husband in his affairs-2 different women 2 different times in our marriage
Fast tracked several years down the line their dad and I are still together my adult daughters still are mad and disgusted with their dad
And they are disappointed in me that I didn’t leave which has affected our relationships.
It is so frustrating how much pain and suffering this causes just for selfish reasons

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emergent8 ( Guide #58189) posted at 10:20 PM on Wednesday, September 13th, 2023

In that discussion, I talked about how important fidelity was was in their relationships and how very much I detested infidelity/betrayal. In that discussion, I went as far as to say that, for me, blood will not trump infidelity and that if they ever betrayed their spouse/committed partner with someone else, they will be cut off and disinherited (we have a trust for our kids and grands). I discussed all alternatives when they have relationship challenges, what to do when they entertain thoughts of betraying their spouse/SO and what to do when they are flirted with/hit on. So, it wasnt all warning. They were pretty wide eyed when I laid it out but receptive and asked a lot of great questions.

I have recently been rethinking my strong approach. I hope I never ever have to enact this maxim, but it is a core conviction.

I haven't read what others have responded here and if people agree, I imagine my opinion will not be popular. My kids are also quite young, so take my comments for what they are worth.

I think this is a bad idea. First off, you are telling your kids that your love for them is conditional. Which, even as adults, is a devastating. It is one thing to cut off or lose love for a spouse, it is quite another to do that to a child. The idea of parenthood is that you love your kids no matter what, even when the fuck up. Kids deserve to know that their family will always have their back. That does not mean that you approve of their bad behaviour, but it does mean that you will love them regardless.

My husband's parents kicked him out of the house at 17 or 18 for some (arguably pretty normal) teenage bad behaviour of his that they didn't approve of. This was done under the guise of not wanting him to provide a bad example to his younger siblings. When things eventually got bad for my husband, he went to them begging for them to let him back home, and they were able to reconcile on my husband's promise to follow their rules and get his shit together. My inlaws are good people and 100% felt that they were doing the right thing at the time, but see it differently years later and have apologized profusely for the way they handled it. My husband ended up turning his life around, and is close with his parents now but I promise you, this fucked him up. The idea that doing something wrong can result in your parents basically disowning you, contributed significantly to his tendency towards avoidance, lack of comfort discussing his feelings/fears, his ability to compartmentalize to an unhealthy degree, and the fact that he spirals in shame when he perceives he has screwed up. I promise you, these FOO issues tendencies DIRECTLY contributed to his A.

Second, you are attempting to control their behaviour. I get that you don't want them to cheat. I wouldn't want my kids to do that either, but you could probably make more of an impression by being honest with them about how much it hurt you than by trying to punish their behaviour from the grave.

Thirdly, you're potentially setting them up for drama, relationship strain, or at the very least, potentially preventing them from being close with both you and one another. Because of this, they may feel less able to go to you or one another to discuss their feelings and fears and relationship/marital struggles. This might inadvertently lead to them sharing this information with a third party outside of their marriage (and we all know how that can turn out). If one of them does fuck up, they (and their BS) will feel like they need to keep it a secret and will not be able to rely on their family for support.

Finally, and I know that this is a worst case scenario type thing (however I work in the worst case scenario field), but it also gives each of your kids a vested interest in their siblings committing infidelity, and money can make people do bad things. I will admit, I immediately thought of Charles Kushner who apparently hired a prostitute to seduce his sister's husband. The only people who could police this issue upon your death is them. You don't want your funeral to be the start of an ugly interpersonal legal battle full of lurid accusations amongst your kids and their spouse.

Just my thoughts.

[This message edited by emergent8 at 12:11 AM, Thursday, September 14th]

Me: BS. Him: WS.
D-Day: Feb 2017 (8 m PA with married COW).
Happily reconciled.

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 DobleTraicion (original poster member #78414) posted at 1:28 PM on Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Thanks emergent8. Ive neen called out on the conditional love aspect as well as the possibility of closing off meaningful communication. Im thinking on it. I still want to be very strong in advising/warning my kids and reinforcing that betrayal has severe consequences.

I may just take the whole disinherit thing off the table.....

"You'd figure that in modern times, people wouldn't feel the need to get married if they didn't agree with the agenda"

~ lascarx

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SackOfSorry ( member #83195) posted at 5:47 PM on Thursday, September 14th, 2023

Doesn't stop them from cheating after they inherit. Just something else to think about.

Me - BW
DDay - May 4, 2013

And nothing's quite as sure as change. (The Mamas and the Papas)

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WhatsRight ( member #35417) posted at 11:34 AM on Friday, September 15th, 2023

Sorry, double post

[This message edited by WhatsRight at 12:50 PM, Friday, September 15th]

"Noone can make you feel inferior without your concent." Eleanor Roosevelt

I will not be vanquished. Rose Kennedy

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Topic is Sleeping.
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