You are never fully prepared for the day you find out your husband or wife has been having an affair. Suddenly, your marriage, your life, and everything you thought you knew about your partner can shatter. When the infidelity was with a person you and your children know, it can feel like a double betrayal to all of you. How do you protect your children when your spouse’s affair is with someone they know?
If you are planning on working on your marriage, telling your children about the affair may not be a good idea. Depending on their ages, they may not be able to comprehend what has occurred and may become confused and upset. Even children who can understand will have a hard time hearing this information about their parents and other adults in their lives. Parents who are trying to reconcile may do better to keep details about their problems to themselves. If the kids suspect or already know, it would probably be helpful to meet with a family therapist together to get guidance and support.
If you are getting a divorce and your ex is still seeing their extra-marital partner, it is going to be disturbing and hard enough without the kids having to see their parents with someone they know. As soon as the case starts you can ask for temporary orders that prohibit your ex from bringing this person around your children while the divorce is pending. That can give you time to figure out how to talk to them about the divorce. Additionally, keeping the affair partner away until the kids have time to process the divorce is usually better for their well-being.
Telling your Children
When you have small children, you may not be able to explain much of what is happening. Older kids are a different story. When a child’s family comes apart, they need both of their parents to be loving and trustworthy. Divorce is incredibly destabilizing for children and can create feelings of insecurity. When there is an affair with someone else in a child’s life, there is always the possibility that other friends know too. If they hear the truth about the affair from someone other than you and your ex, it could add to the betrayal and make them feel as if they can’t trust either one of you.
Deciding the best way to talk to your kids will depend on your situation. It may be better to speak with them together after getting on the same page about what you will say. Talking to them with the assistance of a family therapist could also be beneficial. However you decide to let them know, it’s important to remind your children that you both love them and that this is not their fault.
Consider the Type of Divorce
Although you have been betrayed, electing to have a contentious divorce is never good for children. Your kids are dealing with the duel crisis of their parent’s divorce and the shock and intrusion of someone they know breaking up their family. Consider how a lengthy court battle may impact you and your children in the long term. You can still negotiate for fair terms but may want to consider getting there without resorting to a long and drawn-out court battle. While it’s not always possible to shield your kids, there are steps you can take to help them get through this painful time.