Cheating Husband: Would You Tell Your Children About Your Husband’s Affair?

Submitted by: Erica Manfred

whisperI spoke at a divorce support group last night and heard some interesting stories about adult children of divorce.   One woman’s ex told her 19-year-old son that he was about to divorce her before he told her.

Actually he asked his son whether he thought it was a good idea.  I thought I’d heard everything but this was a new twist.  The poor kid suffered a breakdown after the divorce.

Another woman shared with the group that her husband was a serial philanderer but she hadn’t told her 21-year-old son the real reason they split.  It seemed he had a variety of mental health problems and she was afraid of his reaction.  Her marriage counselor and his therapist agreed.

However, her son was curious about the reason for the divorce, and what his father had done and kept asking her.  Her ex just lied to him, she said.   I told her I felt her son deserved the truth.  She didn’t have to tell him the details, just that his father had affairs, period, but I feel that family secrets are toxic.

I shared with her that my parents split up when I was ten, and got back together six months later.   I had no idea why they split and neither of them told me.  After my dad died, when I was 35, I asked my very proper mother why they broke up and she at first said, “we had problems.”  I asked, “what kind of problems?”   She said, “you know, problems.”  I said, “mom, I’m thirty-five, you can tell me.”  Finally she said, looking very embarrassed, “well he had affairs.”

Strangely, I wasn’t shocked although I had no clue he’d ever had affairs. I never saw my dad flirt with other women or any signs that he’d screwed around.  But somehow it made sense, considering who they were and what their relationship was like.

She was the domineering wife, who controlled the marriage and took care of him, me and everything else.   He was the dependent and resentful spouse, who acted like a rebellious teenager,  just like my ex who also cheated, but just with the woman he left me for.  It made sense that my handsome dad would rebel by having affairs.   He was too dependent on my mom to actually leave.

I told the woman at the group that I wished I’d known about my father’s affairs.  She asked why.   I told her it would have helped me understand their relationship, my adolescence which was hell, and my own life.   I thought I had a right to know about them, if only to sort out my own problems and issues.

I wonder how other older divorced women have handled this issue?  How have you dealt with your adult children when it came to explaining their dad’s cheating, or your own for that matter?


  1. 1


    “She was the domineering wife, who controlled the marriage and took care of him, me and everything else. He was the dependent and resentful spouse, who acted like a rebellious teenager, just like my ex who also cheated, but just with the woman he left me for. It made sense that my handsome dad would rebel by having affairs. He was too dependent on my mom to actually leave.”
    Ooooo, that paragraph smarts cause it hits a little too close to home! My kids are way too young (11 & 4) for me to address this issue yet, but I’ve already started to worry about when this time comes – how much is too much vs not enough.
    For me, finding out about my ex’s affairs was just the final “proof” that it really was over. My problem now is that he wants to get back together and I don’t. My ex has planted the kids in the middle (as a manipulative tool, I’m sure) and I’m having a hard time deciding how to handle the situation.
    I’ll be interested to hear what anyone else has to say. Especially from the kids’ point of view.

  2. 2


    This is a hard one. I have two sons, one is 24, the other 18. There are still many, many things they don’t know about my relationship with their Dad or our divorce.
    When I was a young adult my parents marriage went through a rough patch. My mother shared everything with me.
    Her telling me certain things caused me to feel responsible…as if I were supposed to somehow fix the problems. It had a very long-lasting negative effect on me.
    My sister was different though. She would listen to my mother and off she would go. She didn’t internalize their problems and make them her own.
    Sharing and how much you share depends on a lot of things. It is a slippery slope and one I learned via experience can turn your children into accidental victims of their parent’s problems.

  3. 3


    Affairs and Children
    My husband had an affair the pastt two years. We divorced in June. Tomorrow they are meeting his girlfriend. Affairs are so hurtful. The children knew because I have been to family therapy with them. My ex told them a year ago that he made a poor choice. (wouldn’t she like to know that is what she is called) He never ended the affair and we divorced. They are curious about meeting her. I grieve about all of these changes for our family but the truth will set us free.
    Oh the journeys in life.

  4. 4

    Mary says

    I found out last fall that my father has been having an affair with the same woman for more than 5 years. My mother was in town visiting me when she found out, and I was her only means of support when she was here. I found out who this woman was, where she lived, where she worked, how my father and she met, how the relationship progressed. I got all the dirty details. It was gut wrentchingly horrible. My father was my hero and that feeling in me died that day. I was an accidental victim of my parents problems. I have two sisters who still don’t know about this and my parents have all but commanded me not to tell them. I’ve informed them that I will keep their secret, but, if asked, I will tell them. I am so angry about being the only one that knows that it spills over into everything. My relationship with my mother is irrepairably harmed. My father is doing his best to communicate with me, but it was never really his forte. I applaude his effort though. It’s more than I get from my mother who thinks she can do no wrong because she’s the victim in this scenario (and to a large extent she is), but I’m a victim too and I don’t like it when my feelings aren’t validated nor my sacrifice in not telling my sisters appreciated. I feel like I’ve been forced into some kind of little parent role. I’m nearly 30 years old and still made to feel responsible for the mental well being of my sisters. I love them and wish them no harm, but I would’ve loved the chance to have had someone make the same decision for me.

  5. 5

    Peter says

    I just found out that my wife of twenty years is having an affair with an old boyfriend who is visiting from mexico and she wants a divorce.She told me this on a voicemail.I’m working out of town.We have two teens,what should I say to them.Oh yeah,she told me that she has already spoken to them.

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    Sonia says

    I wish I had older children. I would just tell them the truth. I’ve always been a believer that the truth will set you free. However, my children, while not very young, are very far from being adults.

    I keep reading that I need to keep their father’s transgressions secret and never let the children know. That doesn’t seem fair to me, but I am trying to take the high road and follow this advice.

    I think the children will figure out what really happened as they get older. It’s clear that I cannot see or speak to their father now, or ever. They’ll probably also notice that none of their aunts, uncles, grandparents, or cousins are willing to see or speak to him either. Surely they’ll connect the dots…

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    Mary, you have no moral obligation to keep your parent’s secret. Your first obligation is to yourself. That means doing what you feel you need to do to relieve some of the pain you are experiencing due to your parents bad behavior.

    Your parents seem only concerned with their level of comfort and for some reason believe that their level of comfort should be your only concern.

    As parents our first priority is to do no harm to our children. Your parents have failed and their priorities seem a bit skewed at the moment.

    You ARE NOT the parent! They are and when they stop acting in your best interest they have no right to expect anything from you.

    Don’t keep their secret at the expense of your own piece of mind. Get it off your chest, tell them to grow up and act like adults and then get on with your life.

  8. 8


    Sonia, the truth may set you free but would it set your children free?

    This isn’t about what is fair to you. It is about keeping your husband’s behavior from harming your children.

    You don’t want them to know because it would help lessen their pain. You want them to know because you are angry and you want them angry.

    Your children will figure it out as they get older. When they do figure it out they can then take it up with their father.

    Another thing they will do is witness your anger and hatred and believe me, that will not cause the respect they have for you to grow.

    Refusing to co-parent with your children’s father may give you relief but it does them harm. You and your relatives need to be civil to their father. You don’t need to be friendly but refusing to talk to him and shunning him in front of your children is childish. It may make all of you happy but it will make your children miserable.

    In the end, all that matters is the children. I don’t care how much you are hurting, what your husband has done to you or how your family feels about him.

    My main concern is the children who are caught in the middle and that should be your only concern.

    Sorry if I appear harsh but, if you don’t take care of your children’s emotional health no one will. It is plain to see that your husband has stopped being concerned with them and their needs. Now you have to not only deal with your own pain but make sure they do not suffer any further pain.

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    Sonia says

    I guess my big question would be, how does it help my children or serve their emotional needs for me to pretend that I respect their father or want anything to do with him?

    Do I have to live a lie for the next seven years? (Seven years from now is when the youngest turns 18.)

    If a person commits a despicable act, how can I not despise them? How can I pretend that this person is OK with me? I am not a very good actor at all. Up to this point, I have never had anyone in my life who behaved immorally.

    I no longer trust their father’s judgement. He is acting irrationally in many ways. I don’t want my children to be angry. I just wish I could explain that their father’s behavior is unacceptable to me, and that I do not condone it in any way.

    What if my husband had embezzled from an employer or run over a pedestrian and left the scene of the accident? Would I be expected to lie about his transgression for years until the children become adults, and pretend that I was OK with that behavior? Why is marital immorality put into a different category?

  10. 10


    No one is telling you to tell your children that their father’s actions are acceptable. If they come to you…and that is the important thing…IF THEY COME TO YOU tell them that YOU do not condone and will not condone what their father has done and that YOU hope they understand that it is not OK to be unfaithful to a wife or husband.

    Then drop it.

    The mistake people make is when they tell their children “your father is a bad man.” That is an opinion they have to come to on their own and in their own time. And if they never come to that opinion it is their right to feel anyway they wish about their father regardless of how terrible a man you believe him to be.

    How does it serve your children’s emotional needs for you to be civil to their father in front of them? Think about it. They have lost their family, their father is living with another woman, their worlds have been turned upside down. Don’t you think they are already suffering enough emotional turmoil without also having to witness their mother’s anger toward their father?

    You being civil to him in front of your children serves them because it is one less piece of conflict they have to deal with. It is one less thing they have to worry about.

    Sonia, you seem very wrapped up in what your husband has done to you. Have you stopped and thought for one moment what he has done to his children and how they must be feeling?

    This isn’t only about you and your pain. It is also about them and their pain and as a mother I am of the belief that my pain means nothing if my children are also in pain. And, as a mother I would kiss his ass if it meant keeping my children from suffering any more emotional pain.

    My ex husband is a very angry man. I’m not sure why because he is the one who left and the one who wanted a divorce and he got what he wanted.

    For 10 years he has refused to co-parent with me. He refuses to communicate with me. The idiot will look over my head and ignore me in front of his children. He thinks when he does that, that he is getting back at me for whatever it is I did to him.

    He isn’t getting back at me though, he is getting to his children. I’ve watched my children suffer tremendously over the last 10 years because their father had his head stuck so far up his butt that he couldn’t see the light of day or what his actions toward me did to his children.

    Your comments are full of “I.” You seem to think that what your husband has done is all about you. It isn’t though it is about your children and you doing whatever you have to do to keep it from causing your children more harm.

    I can’t stand my ex husband. I think he is a contemtible man. A coward who ran out on his wife and children. In my opinion he lacks moral character and is not someone I would ever call a friend.

    When my children are around though I smile. When he looks over my head I smile some more. I ask him how he is doing. I put forth every effort to co-parent with him. I do it because it is what my children need me to do.

    The last thing they need is two parents with their heads stuck up their butts. Sounds like your children already have one parent in that position. I hope for their sake you are able to set an example for them by showing them that they are more important to you than any anger you feel at their father.

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    Sonia says

    I’m trying to do the right thing. I co-parent! I pass on any relevant information about soccer games, music lessons, birthday parties, and so on that happen to fall on the four days/month he takes care of them. I just do it by email or text instead of speaking. The other 27-28 days of the month, my STBX falls off the face of the planet as far as his children are concerned. This is nothing new.

    I still arrange and/or supervise everything for them regarding homework, parent-teacher conferences, doctor and dental visits, lessons, sports, forms that need signing, etc. The kids and I are still living in the same house doing all the same things. The only difference for the kids is that they spend more time with their father now than ever before, eating candy and going to movies and playing video games.

    They actually have rolled with the punches and don’t seem in any pain at all. So when the time comes that I am able to speak to their father–if I must–any smiling I do will be about that.

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    login says

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  13. 15

    Tara says

    My spouse and I have had an empty emotional relationship for years. After 15 years of marriage, I sought comfort with a man who was respectful and understnading of my needs. My spouse found out and after that I was forced to admit my own feelings that i did not love him any more and wanted a separation. All he sees me as is the cheating wife. He is understandably hurt and takes every opportunity to degrade me in front of my kids and our friends. I want a spraration but cannot bear the thought of shared custody with him. My kids are 15, 6 and 4. I cannot fathom how shared custody will work and what emotional damage this will do to them in the long term. Also what should the kids know about the reason for my wanting the separation?

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    Ah, the consequences of infidelity! Your husband is angry and hurt and, rightfully so. That does not however give him the right to degrade you in front of your children.

    The problem between the two of you should be kept between the two of you and you need to inform him of that. You may want to remind him that divorce laws are “no-fault” in all states but one and that your cheating won’t play a role in a divorce between the two of you.

    If, however he continues to say degrading things in front of the children he could be accused of parental alienation which the courts frown upon.

    Whether you can fathom shared custody with him or not it is going to happen. These are things you should have thought about before seeking comfort from someone other than your husband. The comfort you found is now victimizing your husband and your children. Was it worth their pain?

    It might help you if you look at the situation from your husband’s persective. Feeling empathy for a man whose wife cheated may help you understand his anger. Anger which is probably only emotional pain that he does not know how to express.

    Your husband isn’t the one who did something wrong. You are and pointing fingers at his behavior since does not erase your own bad behavior. Own what you did and show the people you did it to some empathy.

    As for what to tell your children. Tell them you fell out of love with their father. Tell them you love them and always will and will NEVER choose someone else over them and what is best for them.

    Then, get them into therapy because if your husband doesn’t learn how to express his anger and pain in a more productive way he is only going to add to the pain your divorce will cause.

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    Tara says

    Cathy Thank you for your words of wisdom. I was brought up with the belief that marriage is forever. I am in love with someone else and how can that be a crime? it happened because I was vulnerable and empty and stuck in a vaccuous relationship. I was suffocating. Now I feel bad that my children will suffer the partial abscence of one parent if we separate. What choice do i have? Stay with a man who I now find revolting for the sake of my children? I would rather be alone. One way or another, my children will be affected.

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    Tara says

    Is staying with one’s spouse a mind set? Do all relationships end up the same way? Am I chasing a rainbow? All I know if that for the first time in 15 years I feel loved, respected and adored. I have som one who listens, cares and respects my feelings without judgement.

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    Tonya, being in love with someone other than your husband is not a crime. It is a shortcoming but not against the law. Being vulnerable, empty and stuck in a bad marriage is no excuse for infidelity.

    Divorce is the answer to a bad marriage, not introducing a third party into the relationship between you and your husband.

    Have you thought about leaving your children with your husband and pursuing your happiness with this other man? That would mean the least adjustment and upheavel for your children.

    Your husband is about to lose the ability to parent his children on a full-time basis because you’ve fallen in love with another man. Your children are about to experience the absence of their father in their lives on a daily basis for the same reason.

    I know you are thinking you could never leave your children but, which is worse for them? Turning their world upside down, moving from their home, possibly changing schools, changing their relationship with their father?

    If you really want to do what is best for them, go and pursue your happiness with as little disruption to their lives as possible.

    That is the way that will have the least negative effect on your children.

    As for this man you are in love with. Well, you need to think about a few things. You are in love with a man who saw no harm in having sex with another man’s wife. Your feelings for him are getting in the way of you seeing a HUGE character flaw in him.

    You two have no reason at all to trust each other. You are running on lust right now and can’t see the forest for the trees. What does he know about you? He knows you are someone who cheats on her husband. What do you know about him? You know he is someone who sleeps with another man’s wife.

    You can bet that when the lust wears off and the rose colored glasses come off there will be trust issues in your relationship with this man.

    Staying with a spouse is not a mindset. Whether a marriage works depends on the amount of commitment both spouses have to make the marriage work. If there is no commitment there is no hope of a marriage lasting.

    You are chasing a rainbow. I’d be willing to bet you once felt loved, respected and adored by your husband. And he probably once listened, cared and didn’t judge. If not you wouldn’t have married him.

    Tonya, if you no longer love your husband you need to leave your husband. You do not need to leave your husband because of another man though.

    Pardon my language but, that is taking the chicken shit way out. If you’ve been unahppy so long why haven’t you already left? Why did you wait to make the decision to leave until another man came along?

    Were you afraid to leave? Are you afraid to be on your own? Is the only reason you are thinking about leaving now because of this other man? If so, you need to stop and think about what you are doing.

    Leave your marriage for yourself…not for someone else. If you don’t you will be facing another divorce within five years. According to statistics second marriages have a 67% rate of failure. Second marriages based on adultery end at a rate of seventy four percent.

    If you divorce your husband you need to give yourself at least two years to get to know this other man before marrying him. If you don’t you may find that you have jumped out of the “frying pan and into the fire.”

    And please, whatever you do, don’t introduce him to your children for several months. They will have enough to deal with, without also having to see their mom with a man other than their father.

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    Tara says

    Hi cathy
    Let me give you a little insight. I started working with this man several years ago on cases together. It was combined work and we saw the fruits of our labour in the gratification of the work that we accomplished. The relationship did not start out being physical. We got to know each other over several years as friends before anything physical came about. It started as mutual respect and admiration and kindness as friends. The physical came about when the feelings turned to love. So I have had several years to get to know him as a person and worked closely with him as well. I realize that if I have to leave the marriage it has to be for me and not for someone else.
    I am willing to go for counselling to determine if I can make my marriage work however, my husband is on a war path and is out to find out the depth of my relationship with this other man and expose me. What do I do?

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    Mike says


    You sound a lot like my wife in so far as the way you think. Of course I’m very upset right now since its only been a week (I’ve known deep down for a month or so though), so I’m trying to be objective and rational about it as I write this.

    I found out a week ago (at least found hard evidence) that my wife of 8 years was getting up in the middle of the night, sneaking down to the hotel down the street to be with another woman. Of course she did not offer a bit of truth, but I dug around and exposed all of it on my own which she did admit to when there was no way to deny any of the details. That last part does nothing but set up the background story and doesn’t relate to your story, but the reasons why she said all that happened is very similar to what you’ve said. She says that I emotionally abandoned her for the last year and that she was/is dying inside and sees no way out except to leave me. Of course I wonder how long was I going to play the fool before she became an adult and left me instead of seeking comfort like a thief in the night with someone else, but yes…I’m very hurt and upset about it all. She wants to chase her rainbow too and I’ve tried to reason with her and attempt reconciliation but she doesn’t want it.

    The kids issue is the bright spot. We have 4 kids (3 of which she had when I married her) that I love very deeply. The only decent thing she is doing in all this is leaving them with me so I can at least provide some stability and continuity. What I see as similar in both of you is that you are using an emotional needs excuse to justify breaking a vow that you took to the other person. There is no excuse that you can come up with that justifies you having what you want at the expense of the other person and for which action accounts for the absolute destruction of your vows that you took to him. Own up to the action that you have taken, and realize you used someone for a long time to get what you wanted. You could have had what you wanted if you had just left when you were unhappy. He doesn’t owe you your dignity, you took his. Is what he is doing to you justified in so far as telling the kids all the details? No…I am not doing that to my kids, it is not helpful in any way. We will be having a talk with the kids on Monday about my failings that lead up to these events, but she is going to have to admit to them that she broke our vows and sought comfort with another person. I did not realize what I had done to her emotionally, it was not out of malice, but what she did to me was in the full knowledge that it was wrong and what she was doing has consequences.

    I to this day do not understand the sheer indifference she has about all this. It is shocking to have a matter of fact conversation about bloody details and her have a smirk on her face without the slightest hint of remorse.

    I admire her for leaving me with the kids. It is either the most selfish thing I’ve ever seen someone do, or the kindest thing I’ve ever seen. I can’t decide which it is, but in the end it doesn’t matter because what she does or does not do has no meaning any more. My focus is on damage control and stability for these kids. They don’t deserve this.

    Forget about your happiness, do the right thing whatever that is. You know what that right thing is, do that and think of someone else besides yourself. You have others that depend on you. They don’t deserve to suffer because you want to be happy. Take a break from everything, step back, take a deep personal look at what is best for everyone. I’m not saying it is to stay, but do what is right for everyone…not just you.

    Forgive me if I’m lecturing, I don’t mean to. I don’t know you or your circumstances and this is kind of an outpouring of my feelings on the issue that sounds similar to mine.

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    Mike, thanks for posting. I’m sorry you and your children are suffering the consequences of your wife’s infidelity.

    I’m happy though to hear that she will be leaving the children with you. I would suggest you protect yourself legally and get an order for full custody.

    I have a feeling her actions are based on her selfish need to be “happy.” Once her happiness bought at the expense of others falls apart she will be back wanting the children.

    Even in cases like this a mother who leaves her children for another man can come back months or even years later and regain custody. Please see an attorney and get something in the form of a court order that will keep her from being able to do that.

    Good luck!

    Tara, you owe your husband the truth. You owe him answers to any questions he may have whatever his motivation.

    What to do? Take responsibility for your actions and be willing to deal with the consequences of your actions. If you’ve done nothing you are ashamed of, you should not fear other people knowing.

  21. 23

    Tara says

    It is good to get different perspectives on the same topic. And if you ask 10 people you will get 10 different answers.
    A relationship is a two way street and although ones happiness should not be dependent upon some one else, it is necessary to recognize that it takes two in a relationship. I have ben married for 15 years and thought that my husband was the best thing that happened to me. As women, we take hurt over and over again and I am talking about emotional hurt. We dust ourselves off , get up and walk or even run again. Mike you may not understand this, but a big part of a relationship for a woman is emotional. Over the years, I have tried to express my feelings, and let him know how I felt about certain things. When you get a response such as ‘ you feel too much’, your feelings are incorrect- in other words you get judged on your feelings, one bottles them up.
    In my case- it took 15 years and yes-sometimes a friend starts to make you see that your feelings are not wrong. And in fact that is just it. Feelings are feelings- neither wrong or right, so you continue talking and expressing yourself and feel good about it. Everything that is bottled up comes to the surface and you learn a lot about yourself in the process of becoming whole again.
    The new relationship may actually be a transitional one, but I learned that I was not willing to live in limbo with my husband. It would have to be me that would have to change. Right now things are very ugly. He insults and abuses me in front of my children. He can’t get past his hurt. I have suggested joint counselling for us to get past this and decide if our relationship is worth salvaging. I have apologized for hurting him- but like your wife and I hope you will see this from an outsiders point of view. I am not sorry for the person I have become from this outside relationship. I realized what it meant to be respected, cherished and adored and most importantly validated as a human being. To have the best in me brought out so that i could give the best of myself to others. However he can’t get past his anger and hurt and insists that I show remorse before-he decides on whether to go for counselling.
    The interpretation of a relationship outside of marriage- need not be considered sordid, it is how you look at it. I have learned so much from it. However- I have seen the worst of my spouse over the last 3 weeks, and I think to myself-is this the man I want to spend the rest of my life with? Is this what I want from a partner- he has defiled me and brought out the secrets I trusted him with in front of my children, my friends.

  22. 24


    “I realized what it meant to be respected, cherished and adored and most importantly validated as a human being.”

    Tara, self-respect comes from within, not without. The things you describe above if only felt via the “love” of someone else are not a true reflection of who you are.

    It doesn’t matter how much this man loves, respects or adores you if you don’t feel those same things for yourself.

    If you had any true self-respect or love for yourself it would not have taken another man to make you realize you couldn’t live in limbo with your husband. You are copping out big time.

    I’ll be blunt with you, a relationship outside of marriage is sordid, no matter how you look at it. You are doing nothing that any other person who cheats doesn’t do. You are making excuses, making it something that it isn’t.

    You are narcissistically viewing the relationship with this man as good because you need it to be good. Need to define it differently than the majority of society defines it. Because without this other man you would be right back where you were before you met him and you will justify being with him anyway you can.

    “I have seen the worst of my spouse over the last 3 weeks, and I think to myself-is this the man I want to spend the rest of my life with? Is this what I want from a partner- he has defiled me and brought out the secrets I trusted him with in front of my children, my friends.”

    You’ve seen the worst in your spouse? You question whether he is the man you want to spend the rest of your life with? Is his behavior what you want from a partner?

    How about we get real Tara. You are upset with your husband because he has told your children and friends you cheated. You cheated…you got naked, got into bed and f#$ked another man but you have the audacity to judge your husband for “defiling” you and not keeping your trust? Talk about the “pot calling the kettle black!”

    You are a grown woman, a wife and mother. You are not a sophomore in high school. Stop acting like one! You are right, feelings are feelings, they are neither right nor wrong. What is wrong is the behavior conducted based on feelings and when a married man or woman screws someone other than their spouse they have behaved badly and should have the common human decency to feel remorse.

    If I were your husband I wouldn’t go to counseling with you either. You cheated on him and now want him to feel bad because if he had treated you better you would have never been open to cheating.

    Get original Tara, you sound like hundreds of other cheaters I’ve communicated with. Same old justifications, same old excuses.

    To have the “best” in you brought out so you can give the “best” of yourself to others? Where the hell is that “best” when it comes to the man you screwed around on? He may have been emotionally unavailable to you and he may be angry as hell with you now but he, in no way has done anything that comes close to what you have done.

    Do him and your children a favor. Leave them to heal and get on with their lives. Don’t be surprised though if he doesn’t want you back when you get ready to go back.

  23. 25

    Tara says

    ‘Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned’. Cathy I am sorry you feel this way. But you should get help for yourself and deal with your own issues of resentment before posting unsolicited advice to other people you know nothing about.

  24. 26


    When it comes to infidelity Tara, I have no issues. No personal experience with the subject. I have never cheated nor been cheated on.

    I have, however spent years as a professional dealing with the harm that infidelity causes and the excuses those who cheat come up with for their bad behavior. I’m not the one with an issue Tara, you are.

    As for unsolicited advice…you came here looking for advice. Maybe you thought you would get a pat on the head and told to carry on. Maybe the fact that you didn’t hit a nerve with you. Whatever has caused your “resentment” over my advice and opinion, you asked and were told.

  25. 27

    marlene says

    I have a really complicated situation and would like to hear fron other people who were adults when they found out about a parent’s affair. I told our son (who was 26 at the time) that his dad had an affair that I discovered about 4 months prior to that – the reason I told him is that his dad had ended the physical relationship but was maintaining contact with the person and I was on the verge of giving him an ultimatum and intended to leave if things did not improve – I didn’t want to have it come as a surprise to our son. Over the next 6 months, my husband and I began to resolve and repair things and we are still together, much happier. The problem is that I didn’t tell him that I had told our son. About 6 months after first telling our son, he told me he wanted his dad to know that he knew – the secrecy was affecting him and his relationship with his long-term girlfriend – at that time, our marriage was surviving but still so tentative (this was a year after my discovery, just about 5 months after things took a positive turn) I did a really dumb thing – I told my husband I wanted to tell our son, we called him and told him but I still didn’t tell his dad that he knew before – it’s now 3 years later and my son is saying he wants to see a therapist because he is still having issues about his dad’s affair – they have never really talked it out with one another – my husband offered but our son said he wasn’t ready. I know I was wrong, I have apologized and told my son I know I was wrong and asked him to forgive me – I am not sure it makes much sense not to tell my husband of this deception, obviously I am afraid to do that, but will if I think I should. Right now my primary concern is my son and our relationship as well as his relationship with his dad. Any feedback is welcome!

  26. 28


    Marlene, I was 21 when I found out my dad was cheating on my mom. So I can relate to the despair and confusion that your son is facing around his dad’s deception. I know it was even harder for my older brother at the time (age 24) because my father was someone he’d held in such high regard as a role model.

    As a mom, I understand why every cell of your body wishes you could protect your son from going through his present turmoil. But as I read your comment, two things really stood out for me:
    1) Your spouse needs to step up and take responsibility for how his affair affected your son. I don’t care if it’s uncomfortable for your husband, if he’s deeply ashamed or if he has communication problems – he needs to man up. He can do it in the company of a counsellor if need be.
    2) Your husband’s affair can be turned into a really positive life lesson that your son can grow from if it is properly addressed. Just as you and your husband repaired things and have established a new level of intimacy, so too can all your family’s relationships become stronger in the end. But again, your spouse needs to man up and make this a priority.

    Relationships between fathers and sons can be very complicated. To this day, my brother and father rarely speak – my father never properly manned up, but instead chose to avoid the issue, remain defensive, and in some ways, feel sorry for himself. Your spouse needs to know that this could be his reality if things aren’t properly addressed and amended. Men shouldn’t stay ‘silent’ around important matters – I don’t care if it’s part of thier DNA – find the courage, push yourself, seek help if need be. I won’t feel sorry for grown men who choose not to speak. Your son deserves better than that.
    Hope that’s not too harsh. (wince) Just being honest.

  27. 29

    marlene says

    thanks for the response – my husband has many great qualities but he is a “put it behind you and move on” kind of guy – which has its advantages at times, I suppose – I am impressed that you so quickly hit the nail on the head, I think – he is perplexed about why our son is still expressing concerns when he himself considers the whole thing ancient history – he is not necessarily seeing or wanting to see the long-term effects of what happened and similarly thinks that talking about it after the fact just dredges up old pains that are better left in the past – obviously it would be nice if everyone could just forget about it but that is not realistic – I have told him that I would have to develop amnesia in order to not still think about the affair at times – in any case, since I did tell him about our son’s conversation with me, he has emailed him and told him, again, to call him when he is ready to talk it out with him – I have told both of them that I do think they need to talk it out – I have the feeling our son wants to see and talk it through first with a therapist which is probably a good idea

  28. 30


    Marlene, I’m glad to hear your husband is reaching out to your son and trying to open the door of communication. I’d just remind him that no matter how old your son is, your son still needs his dad to be the one who CONTINUES reaching out. Our kids still need us to be the parent and show how much we care in a situation like this. I just wouldn’t want to hear your husband say, “Heck, I’ve TRIED…I called him, remember?” If non-communication turns into a month, then three months, then I bet a part of your son will be disappointed. Cause when someone REALLY cares, they should go the extra mile to make amends – just as your husband did with YOU.

  29. 31

    marlene says

    they did speak a couple of days ago – they arranged to talk during a time when I was out – my husband told me that our son had a number of questions, which he answered, and said that he may call again with more questions which my husband told him was fine – I know I will need to remind my husband that he has to ask our son’s forgiveness for what he did even if it wasn’t done directly to him – my husband is a teacher (as are my son and I as well) and I think I also have to remind him that this is, as you said, an opportunity for our son to learn a valuable lesson

  30. 32

    Andre says

    Mike, And Cathy, Im responding to both of your comments here, I want to thank you both so very much. Mike, I was so greatful for your response to Tera. No disrespect to her but, you were right to correct her point of view that there is no excuse for any one to commit adultry and then try to justify this LUST as wanting to be happy.

    You were very respectful and proffesional to Tera with your very well put comment, Man to Man I could not have said it any better than you did. I totaly agree with you, You have spoken for an uncountable number of Men who feel the same and are going through the same Infidelity/Cheating by our wife’s, and then they wont admit to it and evade talking about it as my wife of 21 years is doing. I have phone records and Birthday Cards sent to her to our HOME from the same Guy that she has been denying even knowing Sence November last year when I brought up my suspicion.

    The day of Thanksgiven November 27, 2009 my phone records show my wife was texting this guy, the both of them back and forth for 11 hours on the hour ever hour starting from 8am to 7pm, and then she left home stating she was going to a dinner that all her girl friends had planned, I dont think so.

    I feel my wife would rather lie, cheat,not be honest and disrespect our marriage, our home, and our two daughters 20yr old and 30yr old who live with us and love us both very very much. If I was unfaithful to my wife which I have never and would never do they would be hurt. I feel they should know about my wifes’s affair outside our marriage, Any advise on this.

    Cathy. your comment to Tera, Made me and other Men feel and confirm that there is compassion from women when other women who commit adultry/Infidelity on there spouse. I have read many comments and looked at a number of websites for Womens thoughts and advice how to respond to our wives when we face this unacceptable breaking of our vows.

    You by far are in the front for your direct and honest response to what we both Male and Female are subjected to by our spouces. We all accepted the responsibilities to ( Honor,Cherrish,Love,Respect,Nurture,Through Thick And Thin Till Death Do Us Part When We Said ) ( I DO ) Maby Marriages would be more succesful if we all kept our PROMISSES, Thank you so much. Should my daughters Know?

  31. 33


    Andre, what is your motivation for telling your daughters about their mother’s affair?

    Do you want them to know so your wife will feel their anger also?

    Do you want them to know because you are hoping their anger will cause your wife to rethink what she is doing?

    Do you want them to know so that you will have commpany in your own discomfort? You want have to suffer alone with the knowledge that your wife is cheating?

    I don’t see how telling your daughters that their mother is cheating will benefit them in anyway. Telling them will cause them pain. Do you want your daughters suffering the same pain and loss of trust that you are? I don’t think so.

    Think about it this way. You’ve got a lot on your plate with a cheating wife. Add to that two angry hurt daughters and you may have more than you can deal with. I don’t believe in introducing more conflict where there is already conflict.

    I don’t believe in dragging children, no matter what age into the problems of their parents. It is your place to protect your daughters from the harm, not introduce them to it.

    If your wife continues her affair they will one day find out. When they do it will be your place to shield them and protect them. Not use them against their mother and right now the only benefit of them knowing is so they can be used as a weapon. Do you really want to do that?

  32. 34

    Andre says

    Cathy, My answer is no to all three questions that you asked. but my wife has most of all the symptoms in her MLC condition, and I have felt the wraft and accusations that come from people that are going through MLC’s.

    This includes my wife telling my daughters that how she feels about me now is all my fault, she has not told the truth only what she wants to tell them. Not telling them that she plans on moving out of the house because of her infidelity and me catching her in her lies is not careing about any one but herself.

    Her not telling our daughters that she wants a divorce which is going to effect them and both sides of our family when they all at some point find out the real reason.

    I dont know how my wife think she will be able to complete her plans because I am the husband who pay all the bills and give my wife the world in all areas. This is what real Men do, I loved being blessed to be able to do this for my family. I will not allow her to use the hard earned money that I provide to pay for a divorce and continue to support her through the process she has no job and has continued to run away from and become board with all of her goals that she wanted to achieve. I was in full support of her goals.

    This was the reason why we both agreed 50/50 for her to become a stay home mom to be there for the girls at all times with there busy scheduals at school when they were kids. And I work hard to financially make this happen. This would allow her to accomplished her goals working out of the home in her own business.

    Please tell me what did I miss, our daughters mean the world to me and they Know that, I have always protected,cherrished,loved,supported,guided,raised,and of course SPOILED our daughters, this is what a real dad does. But this is a time where I dont know if Im going to be able to protect them. I dont want them to here it from our close knit families first.

  33. 35

    Lisa says

    This was an interesting discussion. I wish I had thought more about telling before we did. At the time, my husband of 18 years came home, told me he was having an affair and was leaving me to be with her. I had no idea and would never have thought that infidelity or divorce was a possibility, and neither did my teen boys. It made no sense to me, but I am a rational person and if he was going to pursue a relationship with a woman several states away, the kids would have to know–practically speaking he would be gone, she has her own kids, and what other explanation could there be for the fact that one day their dad just left what they thought was a pretty home.

    In the last four months, I have read so much and talked to so many people and learned so much. Primarily, there is NEVER a justification for having an affair. Marriages can be slightly uncomfortable or broken beyond belief, and the answer is to fix it or end it. Adding another person to the turmoil is fair to no one and disrespectful to everyone, especially the kids who had absolutely no role in the drama and deserve to be shielded.

    The other, more profound lesson came from my 13-year-old the day before Mother’s Day. He was telling me what he wanted to buy our best family friend for Father’s Day and I told him that he did not need to do that. My son’s response was that he wanted to, and he wanted to buy several other people gifts as well, including a female friend of mine. When I asked why, his response, paraphrased was: Mothers are mothers and they just are, you have one, even if you are adopted, it’s the person who loves you the most in the world, and will always love you no matter what. He said he had never given much thought to Dads when he “had one,” but since he left, he realized that he now has lots of Dads because Dads are the people that love and take care of your mother so that she can love and take of you, so now he has lots of Dads to recognize, but he was all that high on rewarding the one who was part of our family, then left to be with another family.

    I have not denigrated his father, or encouraged this perspective in any way. However, I have established a policy that he have no contact for a considerable amount of time. The hurt was unbearable, the fact that he could just throw out all that we had for some girl was incomprehensible and morally reprehensible to me and in order to ever be able to co-parent effectively and civilly, I needed space to heal. So the kids know that I was deeply hurt and they have seen me cry on a few occasions. But, I was not about to pretend that this was something I wanted or am happy about since I have spent a lifetime promising my kids that we would never get divorced.

    But in closing, this was my long-winded way of saying that there are good and bad ways to leave a relationship and choosing the bad way could be very expensive. Financially, emotionally, socially, any way that you can think of–if you are not happy in a relationship, leave it respectfully, especially if you want to preserve your relationship with your kids. I am not sure if his opinion of mothers would be different if I had been the one to have the affair and leave, but I promise you, this was not an opinion I ever wanted my child to voice and if by sharing it, it convinces just one person to do the right thing, I will consider myself a success.

  34. 36


    He said he had never given much thought to Dads when he “had one,” but since he left, he realized that he now has lots of Dads because Dads are the people that love and take care of your mother so that she can love and take of you”

    Your son is very wise Lisa and very, very hurt. Kids are the main casualty of a parent’s stupid actions. Thank goodness he has a “no matter what” to help him handle what his father has done.

    Is his father staying in contact with him?

    When my ex left he said he “had no choice.” He told our boys that he had left me, not them but they felt left also. How could they not,he went from being a daily part of their lives to seeing and talking to them every 14 days and then not at all.

    He thought when he got ready to pick up where he left off that they would be waiting. He thought their love for him would not diminish but he didn’t put any thought into their respect for him diminishing.

    He thought his love for them was safe. He could take his break from the responsibility, catch his breath and reconnect. How does an adult who says he loves his children get to the point of such skewed thinking?

    I can’t imagine a marriage ever getting bad enough that I would leave my children to escape it. No man could ever entice me away from my role as a full-time mother. No beating, no abuse…if the only way I had out was to leave my children I’d stay and take the abuse.

    That is why I don’t buy into the bunk of men/women leaving a marriage and children for another person or leaving because they are “miserable”. No one with an ounce of parental love and instinct could stand to be without their children. Those who leave love themselves more and are more concerned with their own needs than those of their children.

    You and your children will be fine. It will take time but in the end you will do better than their father. He has to live with who he is for a very long time to come.

  35. 37

    Lisa says

    Thanks Cathy, I joined First Wives World and was astounded at the number of women who blamed me for his having an affair. Of course, so does he, but I just can’t accept that. In my book a promise is a promise, and I was determined to keep it, but he chose an easier path, and he admits that. So, how can he expect everyone else–our kids, our friends, polite society–to agree with him? He blames me for “pillaging his name,” and I said I have told many people my story, and if they choose to believe bad things about you, that is not my judgment, it is theirs. I am not powerful enough to get people to agree with me–believe me, if I was, I would be rich AND still married!

    I just finished reading Parent Who Cheat, by Ana Nogales which was a very eye-opening book. It confirmed a lot of things that other women have told me about their kids, and that is that MOST kids of adultery NEVER forgive the adulterer. It is so sad that men (and a fair number of women, also, but less so) get themselves to emotionally stunted that they can’t even see the world for the truth that they end up screwing themselves so badly.

    He does still see them, we technically have 50/50 custody, but we’ll see how that works in the long run, practically right now, it’s like 80/20, but I am not complaining. He can forfeit as much time as he wants, I like my kids, and they know. And you are totally right, in the end, I will be okay, because I AM okay, with who I am, and with what I have done. I have no regrets. There are thousands of things in my life I could have done better, but in my adult life, nothing that I would take back. I was happy before him, I was reasonably happy with him and I will be happier without him–happiness and love are choices and life is a gift not to be squandered!

  36. 38


    I don’t know who suggested you were to blame for his affair at First Wives World but you must have run into a couple of bad eggs. The women I know who use the social network at FWW would never approach a member in such a way. I’ve always found it to be a warm and supportive network.

    That being said, I do believe that it takes two to build a marriage and two to break a marriage. Not that you are responsible for him choosing to have an affair BUT good marriages don’t fall victim to infidelity.

    I played a role in the problems in my marriage. My ex chose to respond to the problems in a destructive manner just as your husband has chosen.

    As for children who never forgive the adulterer, I’m of the opinion that a man cheats on his wife, not his children. His cheating may be detrimental to his children but nothing is more detrimental to a child than a broken relationship with either parent.

    My ex withdrew from his children. So much so that after a period of time they had to let go of any hope they had of him ever being the father they needed in their lives. I can’t express to you the damage not having a father has done. It is something that will follow them the rest of their lives.

    Children should be encouraged to love both parents regardless of what one did to the other. Being without their father will do far more harm than the infidelity has done in the long run.

    You say that in the end you will be OK and you are right. Without their father your children won’t be OK though. I’m sure you are a good mother but it doesn’t matter how well you mother, you can’t take the place of their father and the influence he can have in their lives.

    I hope he continues to see them. I hope you will encourage them to have a relationship with him. Not easy I know but it is what is best for your children and when all is said and done nothing is more important than them.

    Being left behind to deal with our own pain and that of our children is not easy. What is even harder is teaching your children to forgive and embrace someone we feel is mistreating them. That is our job though…doing the right thing in the face of adversity. Not fair but life!

  37. 39


    One, I’ve only mentioned that the kids mother made terrible mistakes that couldn’t be fixed. To explain the sin, isn’t going to help anything and they may hate her even more. Divorce is never about belittling each other, it’s about fixing the unfix-able, and making sure the kids are protected and still grow in loving environments.

    To be honest, I would very hurt, if my son said that he has “many dads.” That is not true, he has one dad. And did I just catch him saying that a woman could be a Dad? What will he grow up to be if the term has little meaning?

    His dad is failing him, but to define other people as “dads” is incorrect and distorts the view of dad. Now to have other people in his mom’s life who are father-figures to help make sure she can take care of her kids is one thing, but don’t redefine terms just to make the pain go away.

  38. 40

    Mary says

    I just wanted to make a point here to Cathy. I agree with the vast majority of what you say but not on one point. I think the betrayed spouse should always tell the children about the affair. My reasons for thinking this are that I think secrets of this sort are destructive and poisonous. No act or crime is unforgivable but lies and deception undermine and destroy relationships. I think that children are affected deeply by the adultery/ divorce etc and have a right to the truth. I know that my ex thought for a long time ‘what she doesn’t know won’t hurt her’ but it did hurt very deeply and for a long time before I found out.

    Before I found out about my ex’s affair I felt like a woman diagnosed with cancer: visually OK on the outside but with something deeply wrong on the inside. I couldn’t talk about it and to many people I looked and acted just fine. Then when I found out about the affair I felt like someone who had been badly mugged and taken to hospital where it was discovered that I had been misdiagnosed and I didn’t have cancer after all. Despite being devastated and looking dreadful on the outside I was filled with relief that my gut instincts had been right, I was not crazy as he has told me over and over that I was. I was essentially sound and healthy and these wounds would heal eventually.

    The truth was a gift even if it made me feel dreadful for a while. Children have a right to the truth too. I have told my children the truth once in as factual, non-emotional, non-blaming way as I can. I didn’t say that their father was a ‘bad man’ but I did explain to them the facts of what happened. I don’t lean on them and I am very much aware that it is my role to support them, not for them to support me. I never discuss the affair with them or in front of them.

    Personally my philosophy is not to protect my children at all costs but to help them become whole, loving, kind, confident women. I try to behave as I would like them to behave if they ever find themselves in my position – dignified, strong, loving, independent. I’m moving on but I know now that I was married for a long time to a selfish man who undermined me and is totally incapable of empathy. It is in my nature to be a ‘people-pleaser’ but too much so. I can see that my eldest daughter has learned this from me too. I now know that nobody can walk all over you if you are standing up. And that’s what I’m doing now – standing up, not flaying out or kicking back or showing aggression, just standing up.

  39. 42

    Cathy says

    Mary, in my opinion the only “truth” your daughters need to know is that they are loved and cherished by both parents.

    Your ex-husband’s infidelity was his truth and your truth, not their truth.

    Give a child the unconditional love of both parents and they will grow up to be “whole, loving, kind, confident adults.” Give them more information than they are able to process emotionally and they will grow up to be damaged adults.

    I’m glad you are moving on. I hope with the “gift” you gave your girls that they are able to move on also. If not I hope they are able to find someone who is willing to discuss their father’s infidelity with them in a way that helps them heal.

    As for Frank Pittman I’ve read the book the article is based on. I find it interesting that he says in the article that good marriages fall victim to infidelity but also says that “all marriages are imperfect, and probably a disappointment in one way or another.” He seems to be contradicting himself.

    Here is the problem, a marriage is only good if both spouses think the marriage is good. A lot of people make the mistake of assuming that since they feel they have a good marriage their spouse feels the same.

    I thought I had a good marriage, one that could weather any storm. Until that morning he picked up his car keys and left to “go get a coke” and never came home again.

    That is when I learned that just because I thought it was a good marriage didn’t mean he did also. He gave no indication that he was about to leave, was unhappy in anyway. Based on his behavior I thought I had a good marriage.

    You thought you had a good marriage but I wonder what your ex thought. If a spouse feels “alienated” how can it possibly be said that spouse is viewing his or her marriage as a good marriage?

    I stand by my opinion that good marriages don’t fall victim to infidelity. Poeple who think they are in a good marriage can fall victim to infidelity…it happens often.

  40. 43

    Mary says

    No Cathy, the truth is the truth. The facts are the facts. Where I agree with you is that one should not embroider the facts and add one’s own interpretation. In fact my children are doing fine now. I think they are well able to process facts but doubt, confusion, lies and deception is much harder to process for children as it is for adults. But I suspect we’ll have to agree to disagree.

    And for me there is no contradiction in what Frank Pittman says. Just as a person can be a good person without being perfect so can a marriage be a good one without being perfect. Perfection doesn’t exist but goodness does. Of course I agree that bad marriages can lead to affairs but they happen as well in good marriages. So it can be difficult for someone like Lisa who knows in her heart of hearts that she had a good marriage when outsiders say it’s not possible and that it was a bad one. I would say to Lisa, that she lived in that marriage and knows it better than any outsider so if she, having examined her heart and memories, (obsessively as only a betrayed spouse does)still believes it was a good one then it more than likely was. Trust your gut.

  41. 44

    Amy says

    I think this idea of “good marriage or bad marriage” is ridiculous. A marriage is not a thing that is one way or another, it is a living thing, a process and a journey. In a marriage that spans ones life as marriages are intended to do, there are seasons, both good and bad. There are good and bad times within the duration of any marriage. It is up to the people within the marriage to honor their commitment, make their marriage and family a priority, and have the maturity to turn towards your spouse and work through the difficult times. Too many times, the cheating spouse finds it easier to turn towards someone outside the marriage, rather than facing the struggles of getting their relationship where it needs to be to satisfy both partners. It does feel better, for anyone I guess, to hear from another, “I would never treat you that way”, “You poor person, having to put up with this or that”, “If I were your wife/husband, I would appreciate you, make love to you every day, etc”. The sad part is, that as the cheating spouse spends more and more time investing in a relationship outside their marriage (whether it is sexual or not), they distance themselves farther away from their family, and create more serious problems in their marriage than were probably ever there to begin with. I think that the “cheater” cheats because of something missing in themselves, not the marriage. My husband abandoned me for another woman when my chidren were 5 years old and 5 months old. My marriage was NOT perfect, I have a list of flaws that could fill a book, and so did my husband. But you know what? I loved him unconditionally, lumps and all. I loved the whole person, accepted the things that I did not like about my marriage and life with him, and focused on the good things and his strengths. Unforunately, he could not return the favor. I hope someday he realizes what any mature adult already knows, that the grass on the other side may seem greener, but in reality it is just grass. I hope he realizes that I was not the cause of any disatisfaction he had with his own life. I hope he wakes up one day realizing that he is just as miserable as he has always been, and that he is the common denominator in that misery. Mostly, I hope when he realizes all of this, and is finally forced to face the consequences for his actions, that my children and I have moved on to the point where we no longer care, and are too happy to notice.

  42. 45


    Amy, I promise you that, that is exactly how it will happen. The woman he cheated with will turn into a wife and he will remain who he is. He will one day realize that no matter where he goes, there he is.

    When that happens hopefully he will have enough character to apologize to you and his children for the pain he caused. Whether he does or not won’t matter to you because he will be part of your past, of no consequence at all to you.

    You sound like a very insightful woman. I have no doubt that you will heal and do quite well. Good luck!

  43. 46

    Catherine says

    My SO left his wife after decades of emotional abuse — to her apparent surprise. She had talked for years about leaving him, but he was the one who finally did. Not long after the separation, he and I found each other. His ex-wife has accused him of leaving her because he was having an affair with me. Completely false.

    It would be one thing if her lies were confined to their formerly mutual friends, but she constantly is repeating this falsehood to their adult children. His 21-year old son WANTS to believe that his father didn’t do this despicable act, but his mother does not stop denigrating him (on all levels). His 20-year-old daughter now refuses to speak to her father — won’t even ask if all of the things her mother says have any truth to them.

    I would love some suggestions as to how to help these kids. I can see by your posts that you understand parental alienation and the importance of focusing on the kids needs and not your own anger.

  44. 47

    Catherine says

    BTW, counselors, attorneys and even JUDGES have urged this mother to stop denigrating their father to their children, but because they are adults, they can’t stop her.

  45. 48


    She can’t be stopped but he can defend himself. That is what he needs to do and in a way that does not denigrate their mother.

    If she is going to share what she feels are the details of their divorce she has opened the can of worms and he has a right to respond. Especially if responding is the only way he can save his relationship with his children.

    All they need to know is the dates he divorced her and the dates he met and started dating you. If the kids continue to withdraw from him tell him to send an email or card weekly to them telling them he loves them and will be there whenever they want or need him.

    Sometimes that is the only way to undo what an alienating parent does to a parent’s relationship with his/her children. Just let the child know he will be there.

    Good luck!

  46. 49

    Catherine says

    Thanks, Cathy. He has been writing his daughter regularly and emailing. He has been reluctant to tell the truth about the divorce, but is willing to do so without denigrating his ex. His son came to visit recently and the ex yelled at her son on the phone for a solid hour twice about how he was “betraying her” by visiting his father. It’s very sad. Thanks for the support!

  47. 50


    Catherine, why does his son allow the mother to treat him that way? I think there is a lot your SO can do to help both his children learn how to set boundaries.

    My guess is that they both saw their father giving into her manipulations and demands in an attempt to keep the peace. Now they are doing the same thing and allowing her to get away with her game. They are now on the receiving end of her abuse instead of their father.

    She is the one doing the betraying. She is betraying her children by not putting their need to love both parents above her need to punish her ex. Someone should explain this to her and tell her that her behavior is not acceptable.

    This situation is more than sad, it is sick and nothing gets my dander up more than a parent disregarding a child’s feelings. This woman doesn’t have a right to tell her children what to do, feel or believe.

    I think your SO is in a position of not only being able to bond with his son more closely but to also help him realize that his mother is abusing him and how he can protect himself from that abuse by setting some boundaries with her.

    Maybe he could find an article online about setting boundaries in an abusive relationship and suggest his son read it. He could tell his son that it was something he failed to do for himself and doesn’t want his son to make the same mistake.

    It sounds like these children have a mother who is out of control and the only person with enough experience with her behavior to be of any help to them is their father.


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