Ever wonder how infidelity affects kids?
My son’s perspective of my affair; 12 years later.
As I shared in my previous post, on the subject about children knowing about their parent’s affair;
I never wanted to write a post about it.
Heck, it’s hard enough writing about my own story sometimes,
I certainly didn’t want to look again at how I hurt the people I love the most.
I shared in that last post, why we eventually ended up telling our boys,
who were 16, 13, and 8 years old at the time.
You can read more from that post here:
“Should the children know you’ve had an affair?”
But when I had more and more people asking me to write on the subject of children
and affairs; I knew God was leading me to do it.
You can catch up a bit about me and my affair story here.
And read our amazing, miraculous marriage story here.
Never underestimate a ‘middle’ kid.
So, I found the courage to talk to my middle son about it, because I knew out of my
3 boys, he would be able to write about it the easiest.
Keep in mind, he’s 25 now and married to a beautiful woman that I love dearly.
So he’s far enough past the pain to write with more clarity.
I asked him how he’d feel about writing about his perspective of that terrible
season in our family.
He agreed and was very willing to do it, if it would help someone.
That’s my wonderful son, ladies and gentlemen.
(and I’ve got 2 more like that-shameless bragging)
So whether you’re a child of a parent in an affair,
the confused and hurting spouse, or
the unfaithful who’s lost their way;
I pray you’ll take his precious (& private) words to heart, and it’ll
help you in whatever place you’re needing that help right now.
But can I be honest?
Reading his answers took me right back there again; fighting a shame spiral of regret.
But it’s okay because this is his truth.
Yet, if you’re a Mom reading this… you know…You KNOW!
When it’s about something causing pain to our kids–
most of us Mom’s go into Momma Bear mode!!
Mom’s (& Dad’s) believing the lie that their kids won’t know,
or they’ll eventually be okay if they end up with the affair partner.
Or, the lie that many Moms believe (like I did),
that their kids don’t need them as much anymore anyway.
So, if you’re a Mom reading this, I pray you open your heart
and think about your own kids 10-12 years from now.
What would they say?
Even if you’ve already messed up and were unfaithful, your story is not over yet.
How will the story be for them years from now?
Because the end result is in your hands when it comes to your affair.
If your heart is confused and you reason that you’re kids will get over it,
because ‘everyone’s’ getting divorced… think again.
It hurts them more than we realize.
You might also like to read overcoming shame of infidelity-6 ways to get free.
How does a mother’s infidelity affect her children?
There’s 21 questions here, and I know it’s long. I tried to cut it down, but
found it hard to take out anything he said. I hope it helps.
1. When did you first realize something was wrong at home with your parents?
They would fight like clockwork almost. I just remember hearing doors slam and one or the other
raising their voices over each other. I remember assuming maybe this always happened and I never noticed as a kid?
Then it would get eerily quiet, and I would hear the garage door and someone crying.
My mom crying always disturbed me. Like it awoke some reflex inside of me to go in and hug her, but I knew I couldn’t.
The first time I heard my dad cry really confused me and scared me. It was one of the first times I remembered feeling truly helpless,
like I was alone with no one to protect us and lead us.
I remember thinking that if something was bad enough to make him cry (My dad never cried), what would happen to us?
2. Did you suspect your Mom’s affair before anyone told you?
No. I had not a clue. I had 100% trust and confidence in both my Father and Mother, and they in my mind were the last ones
to have any issues with each other. Growing up in the home that I did, watching their love for each other only increase
every day and every year; it was unfathomable to me.
(Debbie here: I wanted to add- it’s interesting to note that (years later as an adult) my oldest son told me he DID suspect (he was 16 at the time).
3. How did you first feel when you heard your Mom had/was having an affair?
I remember feeling stunned. Like I was light headed with tunnel vision; my world collapsing around me.
I had been around long enough to see other friends lose their parents to divorce;
so I put two and two together on what was taking place before me. More than anything though; I felt alone.
I felt like our needs and our opinions as their children meant nothing and that the decision on whether or not
our family stayed together was made when my mom made that choice.
To this day I still have not felt as alone as I did during that period of time.
4. Did it change the way you felt about her, saw her, or affect your relationship with her?
(both then & now)
At the time I thought of her differently, not necessarily negatively, more so cautiously.
I had a subliminal guard up that quite honestly, I had no intentions of having; it sort of just manifested itself while going through this.
As far as it affecting my present relationship with her; no. I trust my Mom with everything that I am and more.
I realize through growing and maturing with God that we as people are skewed, flawed, and very far from perfect.
The beauty of forgiveness is that not only did Christ forgive my sins and free me from them as well;
he gave me the power to do the same with the ones that hurt us the most.
5. How did the conflicts between your parents affect you personally? (schoolwork, relationships, behavior etc..)
I began changing my behavior from the quiet chubby kid who did halfway decent in school, to the obnoxious class clown
who couldn’t get a decent grade in his class if he was paid to do it. Instead of seeking the teacher’s approval as an authority figure,
I began seeking my classmates love and praise. Making people laugh has always been something I’ve loved,
and during this period of time it became my goal, my unquenchable thirst to be the center of attention,
the reason for everyone else’s happiness.
6. How did you witness your siblings coping abilities?
From what I can remember, they were nonexistent to the say the least.
I can remember feeling betrayed, and I’m sure they felt the same.
It was the first reality check for us three boys that no, in fact, we were not in control of our lives nor were we ever.
I remember how quiet it was in the house, eerie almost (Which in a house with three teenage boys was very rare indeed.).
We didn’t want to talk about what Mom did and how Dad felt, we wanted to go back to how it was.
Roaring laughter and screams from having Nerf wars with each other, playing video games,
competing on who could have the biggest cannonball In the pool; that was the life we wanted back,
and we knew it was gone for the time being.
7. What was your main coping mechanism at the time?
Mainly it was avoiding the elephant in the room, staying quiet and making a fool out of myself at school
to escape the hellish question waiting for me at home; “Do my Mom and Dad still love each other?”
I ate when I was sad, and I remember some days going to sleep so early and other days feeling like I didn’t sleep at all.
Being a young 13 year old, I barely had figured out how to express myself let alone cope with a traumatic experience.
I listened to a lot of music alone in my room which helped tremendously with being alone with my thoughts, and becoming ok with it.
8. Did you ever feel justification, or more desire, to lie or rebel in some way because of her affair?
I would say I definitely felt more of a desire to rebel and change who I was after this had happened.
Part of me I think thought that there might have been a correlation with the person I was and the affair, and even if I was wrong,
I felt I couldn’t afford to be even a little right. I knew enough though that rebelling at home wasn’t going to solve any problems
for me or anyone else for that matter, and considering I spent the majority of my days at school, that is where I chose to rebel.
9. Did you ever blame yourself for the infidelity?
-if yes, why?
In a way, yes. I didn’t know who I was at the time; I was sensitive, confused, and learning about how to be comfortable
with myself as a boy growing into a man. I felt that I was too weird, too much of a burden to my parents
and they had to lash out in their own way to relieve the stress that I caused on a daily basis. Now it sounds ridiculous,
but at the time it was the Lie Satan fed me, the Lie I took and ran with.
I thought maybe if I was a different person, maybe if I listened more to my Mom,
maybe if I didn’t cause her so much stress and argue with her,
just maybe she would’ve chose differently.
It truly changed my life and who I am today, but it happened for a reason.
Honestly I don’t think there was a better time for me to go through it then at 13 year old me.
10. Did you ever blame your father, or believe he could have done more to prevent the affair?
I never blamed my dad for her actions, if anything again I blamed myself. I was upset that it wasn’t
an easy thing for him to get over, wishful thinking maybe. At that age I couldn’t have understood the damage
it does to a marriage, especially one of that many years, it was easy for me to be upset with him to think that he
couldn’t just easily get over it and forgive her because I so desperately needed them both together and in my life that way.
Knowing now putting myself in my Dad’s shoes, only God can bring a couple through something like that to the other side.
11. Did it feel like your Mother became someone else you didn’t know during this time?
To me, yes. It felt like she forgot about everyone and everything except herself. I felt like she didn’t care anymore,
that she was burned out and had had enough. Misguided and untrue as it was,
I had no one to tell me or show me otherwise until after this storm.
12. Did you have thoughts or feel she was hypocritical by teaching Christian values,
but not living it, by having an affair?
At this point I felt God was absent in our life. I felt he had shut the lights off and left, leaving no clue or note to where He had gone,
so I may have held this view towards her, but I was more concerned with repairing than blaming.
13. Has her affair then or now affected your relationship with God? If yes, how?
Then, yes. I decided that since He, in my opinion, had decided to stay out of this trial and not alter the storm
for me and my brother’s sake, that I would handle it myself. This was such a wrong decision. If I had known what I know now,
I would’ve ran to my Father’s arms and never let go. I believed the falsity that God is a fleeting bipolar being-
only bidding mercy when He felt like it, mainly using His existence to toy with His creations to His liking.
How wrong I was. I know now there is no one in this universe that wants better for me than my God.
14. Are you angry at all with your Mom, or Have you been able to forgive her?
I 100% have forgiven her. There is no better mother than her in my eyes; she is truly the best I could have dreamed of!
She grows every day as a Mom, Grand mom, Wife, and Mother in law. Her relationship with Jesus has not only shown me
the extent of God’s grace, but just how much his love and forgiveness extends.
15. How have you reconciled her failure?
I know now that even though her choice may have hurt this family, her choices now lead her family and create an example.
She is still not perfect, just like the rest of us, but she strives daily to be better; and she is able to recognize it with God when she isn’t!
16. Did you ever feel she was also unfaithful to you or the family as a whole; or was it separate &
just between your parents, in your mind?
To me it was a combination of both individual to me as well as our family. She brought him into our home, introduced him as a friend,
and betrayed our trust. It could never have been just between my parents, even if they never told us about it.
We were and are all still in this together.
17. Was there a time when you were very worried your parents would divorce?
How did you cope?
I remember when my Mom and Dad sat us all down and broke the news that they had decided to get a divorce.
Just a couple weeks before I remember asking my Dad if they were going to split up,
and he said that as long as the choice is up to him, they would be together, and that he would hang in there.
So I remember as I left the room in tears, turning back and saying “Thanks for hanging in there Dad.”
Little did I know how much affect I would have on my dad with these few words,
and how even to this day I can remember that day like it was yesterday.
18. When did you trust that your parents were really going to stay together?
When they sat us back down later, and told us they were going to keep going and push through.
Something in the tone, the way they said it; it was one of the first times I can remember hearing them both
actually agree with each other. It wasn’t the words they said or the explanation, I could actually hear the sincerity in their voice;
like they knew merely suggested the idea of divorce was too much and not the solution.
19. Do you believe a parent(s) should tell a child about an affair going on with the one parent?
I wholeheartedly believe this. Now I’m not saying to go into excruciating detail with when and what happened,
but it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure it out when someone mentions the word affair.
I’m also not saying to sit you four year old down and explain everything; however at some point in your child’s life
they do need to understand that their parents are not perfect like they thought, even if it means telling them your worst secret.
It does wonders for them knowing if it’s forgivable for their parents to not be perfect, then so it is for them when they screw up too.
20. Has this affected you in your marriage at all?
When I met my wife, I had cut off the contact with friends in my life that were leading me away from my relationship with Jesus.
I had made a verbal and mental commitment to him to stay near to him and to make him my full and complete focus.
About two weeks after doing that was when I met my wife. So by this point I had forgiven my mother, come to terms with what
happened and gotten stronger from this. So in a way, positively, yes it has affected my marriage.
It taught me to deal with my feelings upfront with words, rather than deal with them down the line with a bottle or a cigarette.
21. How do you think her infidelity impacted you now as an adult?
I have a conscious mental capacity when I meet imperfect people, that it’s ok. It’s ok to not be ok, and it’s certainly ok to be lost.
Jesus loves even those that are the most lost, so why can I not? No one is saying it is easy.
In fact the only thing that would come easy is to harbor a grudge against all that have committed affairs;
being that I had a front row seat with four free tickets.
But forgiveness is truly freeing, and I love my Mom and I know she hates what she did and wishes every day she can take it back.
I care more about my relationship with her now and in the future than I do about righteous indignation.
Can I just say, I’m so proud of him!
My hope is that you wouldn’t feel stuck in shame now that you may be thinking of your own
kids and family. But I pray that this would motivate you
to end the affair no matter how hard it feels to do now (if you haven’t yet).
What story do you want your kids to be able to tell one day?
It just may be the most important question you’ll ask yourself today.
Also, if you’re the wayward wife looking to end the affair or did, I encourage you to join my private facebook group of
non-judgmental, supportive women who understand the struggle you’re in but who also know
how to encourage you to be your best self.
(No affair words anywhere in it-AMA Women)
Just answer the 3 questions to validate you belong first.