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Do affairs always affect the children?

(24 Posts)
rubynoodles37 Sun 23-Nov-14 11:14:17

Hi there- just throwing this out to get others opinions.

Basically a (single) man I know has been having an affair for several years with a married woman. She has a 7 year old son sad

I know nothing is as black and white as it seems and people have affairs for various reasons and it doesn't make them bad people but in my opinion and from what I've seen from family and friends who have had affairs, whilst the adults get hurt they eventually move on and in most cases find other partners. But from what I've witnessed its the children who often become the casualties of affairs. Take my sister, she had an affair (she is now with him) he had 4 children and his wife was pregnant with their 5th child, roll on 8 years and I believe the consequences have drastically changed these kids futures. The older ones seem to be on a path to destruction and are full of anger and frustration. Obviously this could have occurred without the help of the affair but personally, I doubt it. I also have several friends whose husbands have had affairs and again the children do all seem to have struggled in some way.

However, this man I know will not agree with me he says kids are tougher than they seem and this sort of thing doesn't change them. He says its too easy for an adult to blame their behaviour/actions on their childhood experiences! He doesn't have any children of his own btw.

What are your views/experiences on this?

AuntieStella Sun 23-Nov-14 11:26:23

"He doesn't have any children of his own btw."

Which always makes me think that views are based on theory, which we all know is instantly exploded when you actually have to deal with real children.

Yes, DC are affected, and the first bit (attention and time on affair, not in the home) is subtly damaging, but usually rationalised away by straying parent; and the DC have no point of reference so don't know what they're missing (I don't mean that the DC are necessarily neglected, just that their home life could have been even better if both parents were focussed on the family). And also the next bit: discovery, and all the disruption that brings. There is no predicting what struggles that might bring for the DC a.

It is true that DC adapt to all sorts of circumstances, though. Infidelity during the child-rearing years does not condemn the DC a to a life of delinquency. Whether the adults can work together to ease the path for the DC is probably a bigger indicator.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Nov-14 12:23:38

Affairs don't necessarily damage children. Family breakdown is traumatic, as is living in a hostile or unhappy environment. But if the affair never comes to light (and that's more common than people seem to think), the chances are the children and the rest of the family will be blissfully ignorant. This person, however, doesn't seem to be at all discreet if you know about it. If you're friends with the single man you might want to point out he's wasting his time.

PlantsAndFlowers Sun 23-Nov-14 14:28:59

Not if nobody finds out.

Ragwort Sun 23-Nov-14 14:40:31

Other people may not ever find out but I always wonder about the time and emotional energy spent having 'an affair' - let alone any financial cost - must have an indirect effect on the children surely?

I know if I was sneaking off to meet someone at lunchtime or when my DS was at scouts for example grin then my focus wouldn't be on my family but on keeping secrets.

Talking to (adult) friends whose parents have had affairs they have always struggled with their relationship with the 'guilty' (for want of a better word) parent because of the lying and deceipt towards their other parent and the rest of the family.

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Sun 23-Nov-14 14:55:58

Most people are not thinking about their family the whole time, they can be concentrated on any number of things. If we accept that that doesn't damage children then there's no reason to suppose that thinking of an affair partner has more impact than getting rid of greenfly on the roses.

I don't believe that you hand over the contents of your head when you marry. Your thoughts and feelings remain your own.

whattheseithakasmean Sun 23-Nov-14 15:05:51

When you lie and cheat on your partner, you are also lying and cheating on your children. It makes a mockery of their childhood and is really scary and destabilising for the child.

I don't think I recovered from my mum's affair until I met my DH and he gave me the same family life I had lost. I am close to my mum, but my heart has never forgiven her entirely.

Ragwort Sun 23-Nov-14 16:57:06

I don't believe that you hand over the contents of your head when you marry. Your thoughts and feelings remain your own. - of course you don't hand over the contents of your head when you marry but having a secret affair is obviously grin - secret.

I do a lot of activities without my DH or DS - I have a wide range of interests and hobbies, that neither of them is at all interested in, but I don't do them in secret hmm - sneaking off to have sex in the afternoon is hugely different to 'getting rid of the greenfly on the roses' (to use your example Lying).

It is the deception and lying that makes having an affair a lot more different to getting rid of the greenfly hmm.

Windywinston Sun 23-Nov-14 17:09:20

Speaking as someone whose parents divorced as a result of an affair, yes affairs can damage children immensely, but it's the fall out that causes the damage rather than the affair iyswim.

It's very rare in these circumstances for all the adults to put the childrens' needs ahead of their own, so they are exposed to the hurt, the bitterness, all of it. Where that happens, speaking from my own experience as the child, the damage is immense at the time and changes your relationships with your parents forever.

FWIW all three parties in my parents' divorce like to congratulate themselves for how well they handled it in front of us. There we're kidnap attempts, arson attempts on the house, a suicide attempt, full disclosure of the abuse experienced in their marriage and hidden childhood abuse, parental desertion and being forced to beg the new man on the phone (whilst I was in tears) to come live with us straight away because "you'll ruin my life if he doesn't live with us because of you". I was 12.

Unsurprisingly I take a pretty dim view of affairs, especially where there are children.

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 23-Nov-14 17:13:26

I know it's not a fashionable view but a lot of people can conduct an affair almost as a recreational activity. It's not necessarily the grand passion of second rate novels and the skulking around can develop almost into a timetabled activity, no more difficult to organise than a haircut. People having affairs do not alway turn into monsters either. They can be quite relaxed and happy at home.

The question was whether children always suffer and the truth is that they don't always. There's always a risk but it's not a given.

StrawberryMouse Sun 23-Nov-14 17:16:46

In my experience, no.

If the affair possibly s had been found out about then the whole family would obviously have been affected but as far as I know, nothing was.

kittensinmydinner Sun 23-Nov-14 17:35:10

Ime the affair doesnt affect children, for most children have very little to do with an affair as they are normally conducted in private away from children. It is the subsequent marriage breakdown (if the marriage ends) that affects the children, in fact to be precise its the way the parents handle the separation/divorce/contact/parenting issues that have the greatest affect on childrens lives and negative divorces can happen with or without an affair in the mix.

DaisyFlowerChain Sun 23-Nov-14 17:44:51

Only if they know nothing about it and the couple stay togther otherwise yet of course they are affected as they no longer have both their parents together. They may also see it as something adults do and copy in their own adult life.

Bogeyface Sun 23-Nov-14 18:56:48

I think that the affects are more likely to be during the fallout of a marriage breakdown.

If a person has an affair they are being selfish, they are putting their own wants and needs ahead of their spouse and childrens wants and needs, which can include spending family money on the affair.

If that person is then found out and forced into a situation where the marriage is over then I see no reason why some would not continue that selfish behaviour. There is/was an MNer having to deal with a very traumatised child (aged about 11 I believe) because his father had an affair, left and then did not contact the boy at all. He went on holiday, spent money right left and centre on himself but didnt stir his stumps to even ring his son let alone see him. When he finally did get in touch via email the son didnt want to speak to him. I believe that they have since been in contact more but it will take years for the son to get over that and I am sure that their relationship will never be the same. I dont suppose the father will care but that poor boy will never get over how his father abandoned him.

Ragwort Mon 24-Nov-14 08:41:26

But surely the same argument that affairs can be a 'recreational activity' could be used for being a murderer, burglar, sex offender, member of BNP etc etc. It might not have direct, immediate effect on your children - if you murder someone when your children are at school and are never found out for example. confused

However from a philosophical point of view I would argue that any such behaviour is morally wrong ......... if you are prepared to lie and cheat how can you bring up your children to be truthful and behave in a respectful manner to others?

LyingWitchInTheWardrobe Mon 24-Nov-14 08:52:11

Ragwort... Really? The top three things on your list are illegal. Do you really think those are good arguments?

I think Cogito is right and there are many, many affairs that don't end up on this board, don't involve anybody but the two involved, and will never be discovered.

As for your last point, I've lost count of the number of parents who say, "Do as I say, not as I do", in support of their own wayward behaviour yet wanting to keep their children on the right track.

claraschu Mon 24-Nov-14 09:28:16

My mother had an affair when I was 13. My parents stayed together and there was no fighting.

The damage came from detecting my loving, devoted, brilliant mother in a state of teenage lustful obsession with an ageing, slightly sleazy but respectable married family friend. I was an observant child and figured out what was going on.

My mother felt guilty and miserable but wildly in love with this (in my eyes) repulsive person.

I was left with such a profound sense of betrayal and disgust that, among other things, I was horrified by the idea of sex for years. The romantic idea of "falling in love" was also ruined for me.

Windywinston Mon 24-Nov-14 09:46:15

The problem is, if you conduct an affair, even with the intention of never being found out, you run the risk of being discovered. That's when the destructive fall out occurs.

Obviously, if all adults involved work hard to keep the children out of it, and reassure them, the fall out might not be so damaging, but in reality that rarely happens.

rubynoodles37 Mon 24-Nov-14 11:46:24

I agree that if an affair is never found out (not sure if I could live with the guilt myself!) then in principle the children are protected from the fallout but in reality affairs are still one of the main reasons for divorce.

I dare say there are affairs that go undetected for many many years but because we as human beings become so emotionally attached to one another I personally don't believe that you can have a long term affair without one of you becoming too emotionally attached and obviously this must be when problems start. The husband of a friend of mine had an affair which, for him was just about sex and the thrill of it all but the other woman fell for him and my friend then found out because the ow basically said 'if I can't have you then your wife can't either!!' and no matter how much she has tried to protect her children, the ripples from the fallout of the utter devastation she has felt from the betrayal of the person she had planned on spending the rest of her life with has undoubtedly changed her childrens lives. I still believe that unless you have an affair and it never ever surfaces (impossible imo will come out eventually) then the children will almost always be drawn into the fallout.

I just wish that my friend thought this way and tbh I wish I didn't know about the affair as it plays on my mind all of the time sad

IrianofWay Mon 24-Nov-14 13:19:30

H's affair certainly hurt the children - specifically DS1 who was 15 at the time. The hurt was caused by the nasty, childish, defensive behaviour that H displayed at the time. It hurt me of course although he was not specifically unkind to me, just withdrawn at times, but most of his irritation was directed at DS1. I think that was partly due to the normal father/son teenage competition and jockeying for position. But there was also guilt needling him.

I suppose you could say it wasn't directly the affair that hurt DS but the way H chose to deal with his feelings about it. Might also have just been a sort of MLC for H. Twat!

H has worked really hard to rebuild his relationship with DS and has done well so far. It's the best thing that has come out of the whole mess.

Sickoffrozen Mon 24-Nov-14 14:45:11

I know someone who has been having an affair for over 10 years. Both married, both have kids, see each other about 7 or 8 times a year for hotel stays when both on business and occasionally at other times. Never phone each other or text at night or weekend. Don't think they have even come close to being caught from what she tells me. So in their situation it doesn't seem to have done.

Both have relatively happy marriages but are just greedy!

Windywinston Mon 24-Nov-14 15:19:24

I wonder how happy their marriages would be if their other halves knew the truth though. Genuine happy relationships are not based on lies and deceit. They may have gotten away with it so far, but if they ever get caught (which is always the risk) the children will in all likelihood get caught up in the ensuing fall out.

I don't think that all people who have affairs are bad people, but they are at risk of damaging their children if they're caught.

Bogeyface Mon 24-Nov-14 16:39:33

Am I the only person who cant see how people can be bothered to have an affair?!

The constant sneaking around, covering your tracks, trying to act normal, it must be exhausting! I know some people thrive on adrenalin but I suspect most of us dont and perhaps thats why they get found out eventually, because it simply isnt sustainable to live like that long term.

I think about it and I just cant imagine any sexual or emotional encounter that would make it worth it. Or perhaps I am just lazy!

rubynoodles37 Mon 24-Nov-14 18:22:31

I totally agree with you Bogeyface I just can not imagine all of the sneaking about and then trying to cover it up! But then I'm not a great liar because I blush a lot and that always gives me away instantlysmile

Although I don't know this woman personally, she lives locally and our children go to the same after school club. Her car is regularly at the man's house (he is my sisters next-door neighbour!) and then an hour later she will be waiting to pick up her child acting all normal. I would be a stressed wreak all flustered and flushed!!

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