My Husband’s Infidelity Makes Me Worry About My Children’s Relationships

It was so long ago and yet it feels like yesterday. My husband of eleven years confessed that he’d been having an affair with a co-worker, and I still remember the feeling of not being able to get enough air into my lungs to even formulate a response after he’d said the words.

In one evening, my world had changed. I went from thinking I was married to my person, a man who’d never hurt me, to pacing the floor trying to figure out how I could do life alone. It was something I couldn’t even wrap my head around, and so, I stayed.

I believed that my husband wanted to stay married to me. (Shutterstock)

My husband and I really tried to make things work

For years, my ex-husband and I tried. Or we said we did. If I’m being honest, I was so scared by what happened that I was going through the motions. Always on autopilot, avoiding hard conversation so our world wouldn’t be turned upside down.

Inside, I was dying. The pain I felt whenever I let myself think about what he did, even though he told me that he didn’t love her and it was purely sexual. He said he loved me and wanted to stay but I just couldn’t move forward. 

Even though I believed my husband when he told me he wanted to stay married to me, I knew deep down I didn’t want to be with him anymore. I couldn’t fully give myself to him, but I did the thing the experts tell you not to do: I stayed for my kids. 

I wasn’t dealing with what was going on in my marriage

I not fully dealing with everything that was going on in my marriage. I just couldn’t get past what happened and I couldn’t trust my husband any longer but I tried to hide everything I was feeling from my kids. Infidelity and its horrendous fallout was a battle I never wanted my kids to have to fight. It was not their fight to fight.

This all happened a long time ago. We are now divorced and both happy. We know it was the right decision to make not just for us as individuals, but for our family. 

I want to protect my kids from the kind of pain I went through

Now that my kids are in their early twenties and late teens and they are dating and exploring relationships, I can’t help but want to protect them from what I went through. The thought of any of them going through that kind of heartache twists my insides. 

They don’t know exactly what happened between me and their father, and my intention is to always keep it that way. He is their father and they love and respect him. I never want that to charge, not even a little bit, so I always do everything in my power to protect their relationship with him.

While I’m careful never to speak from personal experience, I do talk to them about trust in their relationships a lot. I remind them that their gut is usually always right and if they sense someone is lying to them or sneaking around, they should pay attention to that feeling.

It took a long time for me not to take responsibility for his behavior

I tell them that if they are in a relationship and someone does something to hurt them, it’s not about them. That was the lesson it took me the longest to learn. I had many nights when I lay awake in bed wondering if I’d just paid more attention to my ex-husband if things would have worked out differently. It took me a long time not to absorb all the responsibility for what my husband did with another woman.

But it was his actions, not mine. He had a choice. I now know that things don’t just happen by mistake in a marriage. We have control over what we decide to do each day. 

I’ve tried to show my kids that we can get consumed with how other people treat us, or we can stand up, brush ourselves off and demand better. Because no one is going to do that for us, we have to do it for ourselves.

I told my kids once you destroy someone’s trust it’s probably gone forever

I also let them know that their actions in relationships affect other people too. And once they break someone’s trust, it’s pretty likely they aren’t going to get it back and that they’ll never regret pausing and asking themselves if what they are about to do could hurt someone.

I still worry about them getting hurt in their relationships. I think all mother’s do. But I have no control over what life will throw at them. I can only guide them and remind them that I am always here for unconditional love and support. 

What happened between their father and me was devastating to me. In many ways it was devastating to him and I know he still regrets it deeply. We both wish it’d never happened, but it did. 

My kids are going to experience pain in their lives

Whenever I worry about my kids going through something like this, I remind myself that I did get through it and it did make me more resilient. I also learned a lot about the things that I need to work on and what I truly need from a partner. And I never would have discovered those things had I not gone through what I did.

My kids are going to have lots of good experiences and they are going to have lots of bad experiences. I’m thankful I got to go through some bad stuff so if something similar does happen to them, I’ll be even more equipped to help them. 

The author of this post wishes to remain anonymous.

More Great Reading:

My Husband is a Licensed Marriage Counselor: How We Learned to Reconnect as a Couple NOW

About Grown and Flown

Mary Dell Harrington and Lisa (Endlich) Heffernan are the co-founders of Grown and Flown the #1 site for parents of teens, college students and young adults, reaching millions of parents every month. They are writers (Lisa is a New York Times bestselling author), moms, wives and friends. They started the Grown and Flown Parents Facebook Group and are co-authors of Grown and Flown: How to Support Your Teen, Stay Close as a Family, and Raise Independent Adults (Flatiron Books) now in paperback.

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