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Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity #414656
10/12/16 04:39 PM
10/12/16 04:39 PM
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NewEveryDay Offline OP
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There were some interesting posts today, my experience as a 10 year old whose dad left for the OW was how orchid described- my brother and I blamed ourselves. We didn't do our homework sometimes. He had to remind me to clean my room too much. We were disappointments. We were not enough.

I think for us, 10 and 7, the truth would have been kinder.


"I have everything I need." and "I am exactly where I am supposed to be." ~Louise Hays
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: NewEveryDay] #414657
10/12/16 05:22 PM
10/12/16 05:22 PM
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Was it expressed to you that your father left because of your behavior, or was that something you used as a child to explain it?

What "truth" do you feel would have made a difference?


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Fiddler] #414659
10/12/16 06:31 PM
10/12/16 06:31 PM
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Mmmmmmm, I've been thinking about this since I read the discussion on it earlier.

When I discovered ex's infidelity I decided not to tell the boys - they were 8 (the day before!) and 11. As was mentioned before, infidelity is an adult problem, not something to burden children with.

But about 3 months later when it became abundantly clear that their Father had no intention of returning, I needed to tell them something. DS8 asked me a number of time "what can I do to make Daddy want to live with us again" DS11 kept on telling me all the things he would do better so Daddy wouldn't be mad at him and would come home. It was utterly heartbreaking!

So I spoke to their school, I spoke to my counsellor and I spoke to a child psychologist who had assessed both of them in the previous year and was very familiar with them. And she in particular emphasised that the most important thing was to make sure they understood was that this was their Daddy's choice and they had done absolutely nothing to cause it. And yes, she recommended I tell them exactly why he had left and then push/encourage him to do the same.

So I told the that Daddy had decided he wanted a new girlfriend and that you cannot have both a wife and a girlfriend so he had decided he didn't want to live WITH ME anymore. I made it very clear that it wsnt that he didn't want to live with them and that he was their Daddy and still loved them and this choice was nothing to do with anything they had done.

And a few week later when he was back for a visit I sat in the room while he repeated a very similar explanation.

And I firmly believe it was the right call. I had angry outbursts and panic attacks and shots and tears but we worked through it all, always repeatng that this wasn't about them, this was a choice Ex made and we needed to see the good in the family we have rebuilt. Over the last two years these outbursts have become less and less frequent and the boys have found their own equilibrium.

Unfortunately, due to some really stupid things their Father has said and done Ds13 no longer wants anything to do with him. I've encouraged him to speak to the school counsellor, encouraged communication and done my best not to criticize or vilify his father, unfortunately the damage was done by his father and he seems to have no interest in fixing it.

Ds10 is still happy enough to spend time with him but has laid down his boundaries. He has made it very clear he will have nothing to do with OW and any attempt to introduce them will result in DS refusing to acknowledge or interact with her and he won't spend time with his father going forward.

These are choices the boys were able to make because they knew the facts. No gory details, no disparaging their father. Just the simple statement; Daddy wants a new girlfriend, you cannot have a girlfriend and a wife and so he has chosen to leave.

I know all cases are different but IMO, being hones wih the boys was the first step towards our moving forwards as a new (improved?) family unit.

MUN


You have brains in your head
You have feet in your shoes
You can steer yourself any direction you choose.
You're on your own and you know what you know
And YOU are the one who'll decide where you go
Dr Seuss
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: MaidUpName] #414668
10/12/16 08:32 PM
10/12/16 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted By: MaidUpName
Mmmmmmm, I've been thinking about this since I read the discussion on it earlier.

When I discovered ex's infidelity I decided not to tell the boys - they were 8 (the day before!) and 11. As was mentioned before, infidelity is an adult problem, not something to burden children with.

But about 3 months later when it became abundantly clear that their Father had no intention of returning, I needed to tell them something. DS8 asked me a number of time "what can I do to make Daddy want to live with us again" DS11 kept on telling me all the things he would do better so Daddy wouldn't be mad at him and would come home. It was utterly heartbreaking!

So I spoke to their school, I spoke to my counsellor and I spoke to a child psychologist who had assessed both of them in the previous year and was very familiar with them. And she in particular emphasised that the most important thing was to make sure they understood was that this was their Daddy's choice and they had done absolutely nothing to cause it. And yes, she recommended I tell them exactly why he had left and then push/encourage him to do the same.

So I told the that Daddy had decided he wanted a new girlfriend and that you cannot have both a wife and a girlfriend so he had decided he didn't want to live WITH ME anymore. I made it very clear that it wsnt that he didn't want to live with them and that he was their Daddy and still loved them and this choice was nothing to do with anything they had done.

And a few week later when he was back for a visit I sat in the room while he repeated a very similar explanation.

And I firmly believe it was the right call. I had angry outbursts and panic attacks and shots and tears but we worked through it all, always repeatng that this wasn't about them, this was a choice Ex made and we needed to see the good in the family we have rebuilt. Over the last two years these outbursts have become less and less frequent and the boys have found their own equilibrium.

Unfortunately, due to some really stupid things their Father has said and done Ds13 no longer wants anything to do with him. I've encouraged him to speak to the school counsellor, encouraged communication and done my best not to criticize or vilify his father, unfortunately the damage was done by his father and he seems to have no interest in fixing it.

Ds10 is still happy enough to spend time with him but has laid down his boundaries. He has made it very clear he will have nothing to do with OW and any attempt to introduce them will result in DS refusing to acknowledge or interact with her and he won't spend time with his father going forward.

These are choices the boys were able to make because they knew the facts. No gory details, no disparaging their father. Just the simple statement; Daddy wants a new girlfriend, you cannot have a girlfriend and a wife and so he has chosen to leave.

I know all cases are different but IMO, being hones wih the boys was the first step towards our moving forwards as a new (improved?) family unit.

MUN


My experience was similar.

I can't even imagine what I would have said to my son for the past 7 years if I had not told him why I divorced his father. He knows divorce is very very serious in our faith and he would be totally confused if I had not told him the truth.

Again, as I have said several times telling the kids the truth is NOT to get them on your side or get them to try to get the wayward to come home. In fact, I didn't want my xh to come back...I divorced him. Telling them the truth is because it is the truth and it affects their life so profoundly.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: SmilingWife] #414673
10/12/16 10:32 PM
10/12/16 10:32 PM
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What's wrong with the truth in a sanitized version? Keeping them in the dark breeds anxiety.

It maybe the adults problem but they are a part of the family.

Last edited by Marc878; 10/12/16 10:33 PM.

CPA
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Marc878] #414683
10/13/16 03:00 AM
10/13/16 03:00 AM
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NewEveryDay Offline OP
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Fiddler, my Dad had explained that he left because he was starting to snap at us, and he didn't want to become like his own father. I didn't understand what that meant, why would he feel like he was going to snap at us if he stayed, unless that me and my brother were too much.

After coming here and reading books like the Anatomy of Peace, I get it that when someone betrays you, they resent you for it, put blame on you, to enable their continued behavior.

If my Dad had said, I'm leaving because I want to go be valued by a home wrecker, because I don't know how to find meaning in the life I do have, maybe we could have asked him and tried to figured out how to work together to make a happy life with the family we had. As it was, all we worked on was staying under the radar better so we could stop being a bother.

I don't think that's wrong or evil or disrespectful, for folks to fight for their family. The home wrecker sure was fighting to keep him.

SW, I remember your honesty with your son and thought it helped him.


"I have everything I need." and "I am exactly where I am supposed to be." ~Louise Hays
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: NewEveryDay] #414684
10/13/16 04:57 AM
10/13/16 04:57 AM
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LadyGrey Offline
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I could have told my children any number of horrible true stories about how my husband treated me. I chose not to, and do not get me started.

Instead I told them a horrible true story about ME. Who does that? And why?

I fell on my proverbial sword, the thinking being that if my kids could just blame me, and only me, it would make the whole damn thing easier on them. And that was the exact posture I took with them: "your dad did absolutely nothing to deserve this and I am completely responsible for the failure of our marriage."

But see, that wasn't the truth either. It was as big a lie as the converse. I knew it, my kids knew it, my husband knew it. So now there we are with ANOTHER big ass lie between us.

And it is a lie I maintain to this day. I refuse to discuss the affair with my children aside from noting that it was 100% my fault and nothing their dad did had any bearing on my decision in any way, shape or form.

So long as you subscribe to the fiction that nothing the faithful spouse did caused the affair, you can't have an authentic conversation with anyone much less your kids.

Once you take the position that your behavior had no bearing on the decision, there is no other option but to blame the whole damn thing on the mother or father of your children.

That's just logic. There are only two people in a marriage and the laws of mathematics still obtain so if one party is 100% responsible for problem X, then the laws of math dictate that the other spouse had zero responsibility.

I get that this notion that the unfaithful spouse is 100% responsible for .... blah blah blah is a beloved one amongst faithful spouses, but believing something simply doesn't make it true.

If you tell your kids that your spouse is having an affair and fail to tell them the ways in which you contributed to that outcome, you are a manipulative, hypocritical liar.

If, on the other hand, your spill all, you are sucking to your children in your adult muck to suit whatever agenda you might have.

I agree (as usual) with Fiddler -- there's no way to be honest about it, so don't do it. Figure out what you can be honest about, craft a narrative that fits with the truth, tell the story to the kids with your co-parent, stick with the narrative and and leave it that.

That's my perspective as a parent.

As I child, I will tell you that from the moment I understood that there was such a thing as an affair, I hoped my dad was having one. I thought that poor man deserved a little happiness in his life. I was probably 14.

I seriously doubt he ever cheated on my mother, but I really hope he did. I hope that poor man found some happiness somewhere.

My point is, you can tell your kids mom is a cheating [Bleep!], and you have no idea whether they will recoil in horror or think, "you GO mom -- good for you!". And that perspective can change *snap*.

Kids don't ALWAYS blame themselves. Sometimes they believe the eyes and ears on their heads. Some stuff is SO OBVIOUS that even kids get it.


Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414685
10/13/16 12:57 PM
10/13/16 12:57 PM
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I can see that many have strong feelings on whether to tell the children and how to do it. Where was it suggested that "the unfaithful spouse 100% is responsible..."?

Most kids are observant. They can see if actions and words don't match. Any parent that chooses a behavior and then involves their children in the fallout, i.e., lying and deceit, will shape and affect their kids' future.Any dishonesty hurts our relationship with our kids, whether it is well-meaning or otherwise.

As Fiddler suggested, it would most likely be best for the two spouses to appropriately co-parent together with what happened and why a divorce is happening. I have found that much of the time, one of the spouses is still trying to manipulate the world to believe their version of the situation, rather than focusing on what is best for the children.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414687
10/13/16 01:50 PM
10/13/16 01:50 PM
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SmilingWife Offline
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Originally Posted By: LadyGrey
I could have told my children any number of horrible true stories about how my husband treated me. I chose not to, and do not get me started.

Instead I told them a horrible true story about ME. Who does that? And why?

I fell on my proverbial sword, the thinking being that if my kids could just blame me, and only me, it would make the whole damn thing easier on them. And that was the exact posture I took with them: "your dad did absolutely nothing to deserve this and I am completely responsible for the failure of our marriage."

But see, that wasn't the truth either. It was as big a lie as the converse. I knew it, my kids knew it, my husband knew it. So now there we are with ANOTHER big ass lie between us.

And it is a lie I maintain to this day. I refuse to discuss the affair with my children aside from noting that it was 100% my fault and nothing their dad did had any bearing on my decision in any way, shape or form.

So long as you subscribe to the fiction that nothing the faithful spouse did caused the affair, you can't have an authentic conversation with anyone much less your kids.

Once you take the position that your behavior had no bearing on the decision, there is no other option but to blame the whole damn thing on the mother or father of your children.

That's just logic. There are only two people in a marriage and the laws of mathematics still obtain so if one party is 100% responsible for problem X, then the laws of math dictate that the other spouse had zero responsibility.

I get that this notion that the unfaithful spouse is 100% responsible for .... blah blah blah is a beloved one amongst faithful spouses, but believing something simply doesn't make it true.

If you tell your kids that your spouse is having an affair and fail to tell them the ways in which you contributed to that outcome, you are a manipulative, hypocritical liar.

If, on the other hand, your spill all, you are sucking to your children in your adult muck to suit whatever agenda you might have.

I agree (as usual) with Fiddler -- there's no way to be honest about it, so don't do it. Figure out what you can be honest about, craft a narrative that fits with the truth, tell the story to the kids with your co-parent, stick with the narrative and and leave it that.

That's my perspective as a parent.

As I child, I will tell you that from the moment I understood that there was such a thing as an affair, I hoped my dad was having one. I thought that poor man deserved a little happiness in his life. I was probably 14.

I seriously doubt he ever cheated on my mother, but I really hope he did. I hope that poor man found some happiness somewhere.

My point is, you can tell your kids mom is a cheating [Bleep!], and you have no idea whether they will recoil in horror or think, "you GO mom -- good for you!". And that perspective can change *snap*.

Kids don't ALWAYS blame themselves. Sometimes they believe the eyes and ears on their heads. Some stuff is SO OBVIOUS that even kids get it.


Respectfully LG, because you know I love you, but you are messed up on this issue.

You told your kids to punish your husband IMO. You were angry and you decided to go the martyrdom route knowing your husband knows the Truth. And you are now regretting it so you have jumped back on the dishonesty horse.

Do you know what I told my 9 yo? I told him I know I was not a perfect wife but adultery was no answer to being unhappy. And I only told him anything because I was divorcing my WH. My son is 16 now and the discussion is ongoing about individual responsibilities for a happy marriage and how to avoid the trap of an affair.

It was never 'I did nothing wrong ever and your father is a pig'. In fact, my position to ds was not that his father was beyond redemption....it was that the affair had caused me to end the marriage but that his father had the option of stopping and turning his own life around at any moment....not to get the marriage back but to get himself back.

You are doing your now grown children a grave disservice to not have a broad discussion about how to deal with personal unhappiness in a non destructive manner. You don't have to trash their dad to point out how unhappy you are/ were at times with the way he treats you.

But I had already had that sort of relationship with my son prior to his dad's affair. When ds witnessed his dad's bad behavior we talked about right and wrong ways to treat people....I didn't let him think bad behavior was normal.

I had my moments post d day that I am ashamed of.....there were times I did put too much on my little boy because I didn't handle my own grief completely adult like. And I apologized to him for those times. So I do caution parents in this situation to be careful with tone and venom and to not talk it to death and to allow the child space to continue loving both parents. And yet, that leaves room for the truth bcause they deserve to know the truth about their own life.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: SmilingWife] #414688
10/13/16 02:02 PM
10/13/16 02:02 PM
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Miranda Offline
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Originally Posted By: SmilingWife


I had my moments post d day that I am ashamed of.....there were times I did put too much on my little boy because I didn't handle my own grief completely adult like. And I apologized to him for those times. So I do caution parents in this situation to be careful with tone and venom and to not talk it to death and to allow the child space to continue loving both parents. And yet, that leaves room for the truth bcause they deserve to know the truth about their own life.



This is really good stuff right here..

We took a slightly different tack with the boyz than a lot of folks here want to advocate. We just flat out said "look, there were good reasons for your parents not staying together. We aren't going to discuss those reasons with you now. They aren't for kids. When you get old enough, we'll tell you about it. It had nothing to do with you guys. Your dad wanted to make it work, but one person can't do it alone. He tried really hard, but in the end, it just wasn't going to happen. What matters is we are all trying our best to make the best family environment for you that we can. Everyone involved loves you the best that they can, and wants the best for you, me, your dad and your mom."

We just kept up some version of that the whole time. When the boyz were in their late teens their dad told them that their mom had been unfaithful. But not until then. There was no reason to color their childhood relationship with her in that way. By the time they were told, they already knew exactly how they felt about her, and had formed their opinion of who she was.

I don't regret it, we never lied to them. They never asked specific questions. They know who their parents are as people. They get it.


When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Miranda] #414690
10/13/16 02:10 PM
10/13/16 02:10 PM
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SmilingWife Offline
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Originally Posted By: Miranda
Originally Posted By: SmilingWife


I had my moments post d day that I am ashamed of.....there were times I did put too much on my little boy because I didn't handle my own grief completely adult like. And I apologized to him for those times. So I do caution parents in this situation to be careful with tone and venom and to not talk it to death and to allow the child space to continue loving both parents. And yet, that leaves room for the truth bcause they deserve to know the truth about their own life.



This is really good stuff right here..

We took a slightly different tack with the boyz than a lot of folks here want to advocate. We just flat out said "look, there were good reasons for your parents not staying together. We aren't going to discuss those reasons with you now. They aren't for kids. When you get old enough, we'll tell you about it. It had nothing to do with you guys. Your dad wanted to make it work, but one person can't do it alone. He tried really hard, but in the end, it just wasn't going to happen. What matters is we are all trying our best to make the best family environment for you that we can. Everyone involved loves you the best that they can, and wants the best for you, me, your dad and your mom."

We just kept up some version of that the whole time. When the boyz were in their late teens their dad told them that their mom had been unfaithful. But not until then. There was no reason to color their childhood relationship with her in that way. By the time they were told, they already knew exactly how they felt about her, and had formed their opinion of who she was.

I don't regret it, we never lied to them. They never asked specific questions. They know who their parents are as people. They get it.


Miranda I think that was pretty good approach.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: SmilingWife] #414697
10/13/16 03:18 PM
10/13/16 03:18 PM
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Fiddler Offline
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A key guiding principle in such situations, in my opinion, is ideally what is best for the children. This, to me, leads immediately to not involving them in adult issues. I believe that everything that is said to them be held up to that criterion.

It is also important that the children be told something and not observe parents acting as if nothing is going on when clearly something is up. Whatever is told to them is ideally age-appropriate, else risking involving them in adult issues. Most young children have little idea of infidelity - and even older ones have at best an immature perspective on it. Consider dealing with relationship issues at the level of middle school or even high school maturity. Yes, children are smart, intuitive, and usually "know" much more than they are given credit for. However, they also tend to process that information in a way that is not best for their own emotional development.

That leads to a second, and in my view no less important, principle is that there be a consistency in what each parent tells them. Ideally, therefore, the parents can work together to create that narrative for the children's sake. With respect to that, it is crucial to understand that neither parent has access to the "truth." All any of us can do in this (or indeed any other situation) is express our perspective.

As LadyGrey suggests, it is hard enough to be honest - and even being "honest" is not the same as expressing the "truth." A given statement may be "true" and even "honest" without representing the "truth." And we may "honestly" believe something that is not true, or at least not the "whole truth." Hence the ideal of a consistent narrative that both parents can agree to and stick to.

One thing that stands out to me on this thread is the second part of the title "Fighting active infidelity." It is clear to me that involving the children as part of that is not at all in their best interests. They have no business in adult "fights" of any kind, in my opinion.


"Grant me the serenity to accept the people I cannot change, the courage to change the one I can, and the wisdom to know that one is me."
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Fiddler] #414700
10/13/16 03:27 PM
10/13/16 03:27 PM
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SmilingWife Offline
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler
A key guiding principle in such situations, in my opinion, is ideally what is best for the children. This, to me, leads immediately to not involving them in adult issues. I believe that everything that is said to them be held up to that criterion.

It is also important that the children be told something and not observe parents acting as if nothing is going on when clearly something is up. Whatever is told to them is ideally age-appropriate, else risking involving them in adult issues. Most young children have little idea of infidelity - and even older ones have at best an immature perspective on it. Consider dealing with relationship issues at the level of middle school or even high school maturity. Yes, children are smart, intuitive, and usually "know" much more than they are given credit for. However, they also tend to process that information in a way that is not best for their own emotional development.

That leads to a second, and in my view no less important, principle is that there be a consistency in what each parent tells them. Ideally, therefore, the parents can work together to create that narrative for the children's sake. With respect to that, it is crucial to understand that neither parent has access to the "truth." All any of us can do in this (or indeed any other situation) is express our perspective.

As LadyGrey suggests, it is hard enough to be honest - and even being "honest" is not the same as expressing the "truth." A given statement may be "true" and even "honest" without representing the "truth." And we may "honestly" believe something that is not true, or at least not the "whole truth." Hence the ideal of a consistent narrative that both parents can agree to and stick to.

One thing that stands out to me on this thread is the second part of the title "Fighting active infidelity." It is clear to me that involving the children as part of that is not at all in their best interests. They have no business in adult "fights" of any kind, in my opinion.


I agree they shouldn't be involved in the fight.

As far as the parents agreeing upon what to tell the kids.....do you really think that is possible when a marriage has imploded due to adultery?

Almost always at least one parent is NOT thinking of the children or there would be no divorce thus no need for a story.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: SmilingWife] #414701
10/13/16 03:29 PM
10/13/16 03:29 PM
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Originally Posted By: LadyGrey
I fell on my proverbial sword, the thinking being that if my kids could just blame me, and only me, it would make the whole damn thing easier on them.


Originally Posted By: SW
You told your kids to punish your husband IMO. You were angry and you decided to go the martyrdom route knowing your husband knows the Truth.


What is the truth and who gets to say?

I think this exchange with SW provides an excellent example of the fact that children should not be told about the affair because there is no way to do it honestly.

I offered an explanation for my decision that is true to me. SW doesn't believe me and offers her own explanation which makes me, the unfaithful spouse, look even worse. SW (who I love right back) does so despite the fact that I toed the party line about telling the kids and responsibility.

Neither one of us really have a stake in who is "right". She and I agree on the underlying facts -- that I had an affair, that I told my children and that I took responsibility -- but the meanings we choose to give those facts are vastly different.

SW and I can't agree but somehow estranged parents are supposed to agree to a truth when talking to their children about an affair? I just don't think that's possible.

Since it can't IMO be done with honesty, integrity, empathy and maturity, the children should not be told.

To tell or not is probably the biggest decision both the faithful and unfaithful spouses have to make. As such, the issue deserves to be studied from all angles.


Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414703
10/13/16 03:43 PM
10/13/16 03:43 PM
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Miranda Offline
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I'm in agreement with you LG.

Whatever you do, you need to do whatever is necessary to preserve and protect the child's love for BOTH their parents to the maximum possible extent. Period, full stop. Children need to love their parents. Its important, critical even to their development as humans.

So that's what we did. I was a huge driving force in that. It was one my prime directives from day one. Facilitating the boyz's ability to love their mother was an important part of raising them to be whole and healthy men. Just like feeding them nutritious meals and making sure their homework got done.


When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414704
10/13/16 03:44 PM
10/13/16 03:44 PM
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holdingontoit Online
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I think part of the decision is whether the parents are still living under the same roof. If the WS is living at home and says "have a nice day" to the BS every morning, then I guess you can try to hide the A from the kids. If 1 parent moves out, then I don't think you can effectively say nothing about why one parent has left the family home. You can say "it doesn't have anything to do with you or how you behave". But you can't reasonably say nothing and expect the kids to simply intuit it is not their fault. More likely if no one will tell them why one spouse left the home, they will assume it IS somehow their fault.


Solutions? There are none. There are decisions.
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414707
10/13/16 04:20 PM
10/13/16 04:20 PM
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Originally Posted By: LadyGrey
Originally Posted By: LadyGrey
I fell on my proverbial sword, the thinking being that if my kids could just blame me, and only me, it would make the whole damn thing easier on them.


Originally Posted By: SW
You told your kids to punish your husband IMO. You were angry and you decided to go the martyrdom route knowing your husband knows the Truth.


What is the truth and who gets to say?

I think this exchange with SW provides an excellent example of the fact that children should not be told about the affair because there is no way to do it honestly.

I offered an explanation for my decision that is true to me. SW doesn't believe me and offers her own explanation which makes me, the unfaithful spouse, look even worse. SW (who I love right back) does so despite the fact that I toed the party line about telling the kids and responsibility.

Neither one of us really have a stake in who is "right". She and I agree on the underlying facts -- that I had an affair, that I told my children and that I took responsibility -- but the meanings we choose to give those facts are vastly different.

SW and I can't agree but somehow estranged parents are supposed to agree to a truth when talking to their children about an affair? I just don't think that's possible.

Since it can't IMO be done with honesty, integrity, empathy and maturity, the children should not be told.

To tell or not is probably the biggest decision both the faithful and unfaithful spouses have to make. As such, the issue deserves to be studied from all angles.



LG, I apologize for presuming to know your motives. I can't really know that is for sure.

In your situation I would not have told the kids.

But when a divorce is happening the kids need to know something and they need to be able to trust someone. One parent has to be reliable.

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: holdingontoit] #414708
10/13/16 04:26 PM
10/13/16 04:26 PM
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star*fish Offline
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Originally Posted By: LadyGrey


So long as you subscribe to the fiction that nothing the faithful spouse did caused the affair, you can't have an authentic conversation with anyone much less your kids.


Well, not really. Why are YOU bound by what other people believe? Why can't you have an authentic conversation with your kids that isn't bound up with the beliefs of others? No one here has a party-line you're required to toe.

Quote:
Once you take the position that your behavior had no bearing on the decision, there is no other option but to blame the whole damn thing on the mother or father of your children.


Who are these "you" people you're talking about? Whoever they are---they can't make you take their position or do what they want you to do. Make your own choice--and own your own choice.

Quote:
That's just logic. There are only two people in a marriage and the laws of mathematics still obtain so if one party is 100% responsible for problem X, then the laws of math dictate that the other spouse had zero responsibility.


Is it logical to adopt beliefs that you don't believe in? How is anyone else responsible for what choices you make or what you believe in--that is illogical.

Quote:
I get that this notion that the unfaithful spouse is 100% responsible for .... blah blah blah is a beloved one amongst faithful spouses, but believing something simply doesn't make it true.


I resemble that remark!! LOL

LG, sometimes the BS is NOT responsible at all. A good example would be a husband who travels a lot for his job, and has an otherwise good marriage--but has opportunistic affairs. Sometimes the BS are partially responsible--this is probably the majority of the cases.

But a BS can never be more than equally responsible. And I think that's really where BSs and WSs have the hardest time coming together. How much abuse is enough abuse to justify infidelity? Let's say the BS is an abusive ditchwad--does that make the infidelity more understandable? Yes. Does it make it the only choice available? No. Justifiable? No. Adultery is a choice and it is at least half of an ugly marital equation no matter how crappy the other half is. So own your half and let your H have the rest. Who will stop you?

Children in abusive marriages know there is abuse. Whether you say why you sought love and comfort somewhere else because you were lonely and abused---don't you think they know?


"Yes, I'll have the love combo, open faced with a side of respect and large a glass of forgiveness, easy on the ice please--my brother
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: star*fish] #414711
10/13/16 05:19 PM
10/13/16 05:19 PM
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NewEveryDay Offline OP
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Star I think that's interesting because I think generations do not recognize abuse and stop it in its tracks. I see it in my brother's marriage, repeating the abuse in the next generation. This is why I believe in getting help and fighting it. If I did not call 911 myself the violence against my mom would have continued. There are actions children can try to take to get help.


"I have everything I need." and "I am exactly where I am supposed to be." ~Louise Hays
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: star*fish] #414712
10/13/16 05:37 PM
10/13/16 05:37 PM
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Star, I think you are being disingenuous here. You know the party line as well as I do.

But I'll rephrase: once one takes the position that one's own behavior had no bearing on the decision, there is no other option but to blame the whole damn thing on the mother or father of one's children.

I think a lot of poor advice surrounding how to address the affair and its impact on the family flows from that flawed premise. You can see the dynamic play out on Hopeful's thread.

I followed the advice I was given because I sure as hell didn't know what to do. I'm responsible for following the advice, but it was really bad advice. I don't think it is EVER a good idea to advise lying, yet the party line requires that of both the faithful and unfaithful spouse if one follows the party line.

It really doesn't matter what I believe or don't believe. It matters what I do, and I refuse to bad mouth their father to my children. IMO, that is far more damaging to children than keeping the facts surrounding the affair/split under the 'STRICTLY FOR ADULTS' tab.

When one tells the kids, one is telling the kids' friends and family and so on until the degree of separation between the affairing spouse and the recipient of that information is sufficiently large that interest in the juicy bit of gossip dries up.

To put it another way, it would have been a lot fairer to me for me to tell the kids the reasons why I had an affair. My decision would have looked more understandable. I would have been a more sympathetic character in the drama. But doing so would have trashed their dad, and I won't do that. My husband's decision to trash me is his responsibility. I believe it was harmful to the kids, but what do I know? I'm the chump who told them to begin with!

All of this lying and contorted analysis could have been avoided if I had simply kept my damn mouth shut and let my kids be kids.

But that's not what happened and seeing how it has played out for my children -- particularly my daughter -- is just heartbreaking. This stuff has a long fuse -- what looked like a good idea when the kids were teenagers looks moronic now that two of them are in committed relationships. My guess is that it is going to look even stupider as they get older and have children of their own and my grandchildren learn that Grandma's a [Bleep!].

Let me tell you what happened last night as proof of how long the fuse is. I was talking to my son's girlfriend and her friend and affairs came up. The way they emphasized the word "affair" and refused to look at me told me they knew all about it. There I sat, 6 plus years later, like a deer in the headlights. There was nothing I could say or do besides sit there and take it. It was absolutely awful and I will avoid interaction with those people going forward because it is just too painful.

How is that helpful to me? To my husband? To my marriage? To my kids? How is everyone and his brother knowing about it going to help heal the wounds?

It is a complete mystery to me why anyone thinks broadcasting the affair to one and all can possibly be anything but destructive to the marriage, its' parties and the children. Because it makes no logical sense to me, I attribute an agenda.


Bidden or not bidden God is present.
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: LadyGrey] #414713
10/13/16 06:07 PM
10/13/16 06:07 PM
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Miranda Offline
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Hmmm

I guess the way we did it is wildly different than the way you did LG. When we did finally explain, when the kids were older teenagers (17 I think for the oldest and 16 for the younger) we just said "you are finally old enough to know the whole story. Here's what happened. Your mom had an affair. Your dad did everything he could to stop it. He even picked up and moved the family across the country. It didn't help. The guy is Mr X that your mom is still with today. It's all water under the bridge now. Just try to have the best life you can. Don't blow up your family that way."

Then we let them ask any questions they had and basically never brought it up again.

Last edited by Miranda; 10/13/16 06:09 PM.

When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Fiddler] #414717
10/13/16 07:56 PM
10/13/16 07:56 PM
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Originally Posted By: Fiddler
.....One thing that stands out to me on this thread is the second part of the title "Fighting active infidelity." It is clear to me that involving the children as part of that is not at all in their best interests. They have no business in adult "fights" of any kind, in my opinion.


You are correct, children have no business in adult fights.

However, keeping children in the dark is not safe nor being honest. It does cause damage when people are in denial and it damages all around them.

The purpose in disclosure has to be for the right reasons. To protect the children. To let the children know they are not the cause of the fights or the bad choices of their parents.

Not all but too many WS' have the tendency to put the blame on the BS and in many cases even the children. My WS alluded to that when he blamed his stress to having a baby. Seriously? Last time I check, I carried our son for 9 months and then did most of the work after. HIs stress? The few times he changed the diaper and gave our son a bath. I think I can count those times on 1 hand.

So can we at least agree on the goal is to protect the children and then discuss on how best to do so? Maybe also discuss when to and when not to? Technique is important as well.

Children should not be used to promote the wants of only one parent. However, our youngsters need to be trained on how to deal with emotional issues.

Like others, I told my son that I had things to work on and encouraged him to tell me when he saw those problems. He did. He told me that he knew I sometimes lied to him. That blew me away. He gave a couple of examples. They were more of exaggerations than lies but still to him they were lies. I owned up to them and made an agreement not to do that anymore. Asked him to tell me if he saw me doing that. He agreed.

I appreciate that to this day. I can't be a perfect parent but I can learn to work with those who try to help me be a better person.

jmo,
Orchid

Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Miranda] #414718
10/13/16 08:18 PM
10/13/16 08:18 PM
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star*fish Offline
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LG,

I’m not being disingenuous—that was the party line in shame country over there. Many of us have worked very hard to change that board culture. I’m sure there are still some people here who feel the same way—but less and less I think.

Quote:
But I'll rephrase: once one takes the position that one's own behavior had no bearing on the decision, there is no other option but to blame the whole damn thing on the mother or father of one's children.


I don’t live in the same absolute world you do I guess. I think that the majority of people do know that in most cases, both spouses have some culpability in the vulnerability of the marriage. I already said—sometimes they do, and sometimes they don’t. Most people believe that the BS has responsibility for the state of the marriage, but no responsibility for the WS’s choice to have an affair. I think most of the time, that’s pretty fair.

In your case—not entirely. In cases of addiction and abuse, it isn’t just the state of the marriage that’s affected—it’s the emotional state of the person being abused or living with the addict. If you make a person feel worthless long enough, you shouldn’t be too surprised if they look for someone who finds them valuable. However, for recovery to occur—both spouses need to concentrate on their side of the street.

Okay—so you believe you shouldn’t have told the children at all? This is another one of those places where cookie cutter advice doesn’t fit everyone. In my case—the exposure was vital to change. Yes, there are times where H is still uncomfortable—but he bears it well. Men seem to be better about compartmentalization. Heck—after 6 years, it still hurts me really bad too. I think that pain is a good reminder to us both. I don’t look at it as all bad.

In your case, exposure may not have been the right choice. A huge part of that is because your marriage was/is? abusive. I’m one of those people who fought tooth and nail with the folks on the other forum about telling a BW with an abusive husband to confess. It’s one of the reasons we built a new forum so that other points of view could be heard.

My H says the best thing that ever happened was that everyone found out—I’m not lying--he really does. He says without that, he would have continued to be a cheater and a liar. When it was going down, I was a complete basket case—fell apart. My kids needed to know why. I didn’t consider it my responsibility to lie to them about why so that they’d have a good opinion of their dad who was leaving all of us for his A partner. When a parent is divorcing for an OP, it’s a lot different, don’t you think?

That’s the thing LG—we’re all different. Our situations are all different. There can be huge similarities and huge differences from one situation to another. All exposure did for you was bring you shame—which you already had an abundance of. In abusive situations—I agree with you--it isn’t the best advice. Of course, most people wouldn't advise staying with an abuser either. You end up butting heads with people because you say that the abuse contributed to the affair, but then refuse to discuss the abuse or leave the abuser.

You know you’re not locked into this narrative either LG. You can still talk honestly to your kids. So those little girls in your living room knew? Everybody going through this process walks away with scars or triggers. I hate feeling like a victim. Do you know how many people have looked at me—and still do—like I’m a fool for staying with my H? I don’t like it—but I’m not angry about it.

Hopeless has a wife who is leaving the marriage for her affair partner. I don’t have an agenda, but I do think this is a situation where the kids need some kind of understanding about what has blown up their world.



Last edited by star*fish; 10/13/16 08:19 PM.

"Yes, I'll have the love combo, open faced with a side of respect and large a glass of forgiveness, easy on the ice please--my brother
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: star*fish] #414719
10/13/16 08:30 PM
10/13/16 08:30 PM
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Miranda Offline
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Originally Posted By: star*fish


Hopeless has a wife who is leaving the marriage for her affair partner. I don’t have an agenda, but I do think this is a situation where the kids need some kind of understanding about what has blown up their world.




And I have two kids who made it just fine without that knowledge. We managed to get them through it without poisoning them against those folks. And let it be. We let those people dig their own graves so to speak. We did all the right things, as often as we could. We fostered the relationships to the fullest extent. And when things didn't go as they could have, we filled in the holes as best we could from our side.

I think it worked out ok.


When we open to this moment and don't judge it or try to change it, even when we're suffering and wish it were otherwise, we tap into the spaciousness of mind that allows us to move forward skillfully, with discernment and joy. -- Sharon Salzberg
Re: Tell the children? Fighting active infidelity [Re: Miranda] #414720
10/13/16 08:47 PM
10/13/16 08:47 PM
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star*fish Offline
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Miranda,

As I said---every situation is different. If I had been okay with the divorce--I might have been okay without telling the kids why their dad was leaving and gone the co-parenting amicable divorce route that you decided upon.

But I wasn't. I was wreck--to the point where it was pretty scary to my kids, and even to myself. H was gone and I was gone too. I was always the one who was 'there". Aside from that, I still believed my marriage was salvageable. Did you? Or were you concentrating on how to move forward with a divorce that would do the least damage to your children?

Do you see what I'm saying? We have to look at each situation and the goals that each person wants to achieve---their choice---and give our own experiences with the knowledge that it may or may not apply to their situation.

Your situation worked out ok. Mine did too.


"Yes, I'll have the love combo, open faced with a side of respect and large a glass of forgiveness, easy on the ice please--my brother
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