Heartbreak

Why Cheating On Your Spouse Is Cheating On Your Family

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Have you crossed a line that you never thought that you would cross and found yourself having an affair?

Are you feeling incredibly guilty, knowing that you shouldn’t be doing what you are doing even though it feels so great in the moment?

You may feel devastated that you might hurt your spouse, the parent of your children, but find it hard to stop.

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I totally get that. No one wants to hurt the person they vowed to love forever or betray what they believe in.

Unfortunately, when a parent has an affair, it is not only the marriage that gets damaged but also the family unit. I know that you don’t think that this affair will affect your family but it will!

Here are 5 reasons why being unfaithful to your spouse is being unfaithful to your family

1. You are breaking promises.

When a couple gets married, they do so in good faith. They commit to each other for life, promising to honor and cherish each other forever. And I don’t know one person who has entered into a marriage believing that they would do anything else.

If you are being unfaithful to your spouse, you are breaking a promise. A promise that you made in front of family and friends, one that laid the foundation for the family that you would build together.

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And, now that you have broken that promise, you have damaged the very foundation on which that family was built.

For a family to be healthy and whole, its foundation needs to be strong. It needs to have two parents committed to its success, neither one of them sabotaging it in any way. By breaking your promise to your spouse, you have damaged that foundation, leaving your family a very shaky ground on which to stay healthy.

So, understand that, if you are unfaithful to your spouse, you are damaging the bedrock on which your family was built. As a result, the whole thing just might come tumbling down.

2. You are lying.

A key part of good parenting is modeling good behaviors. We want our children to be good and kind and understanding and upright and we can teach them that but, really, the best way to help them learn is by modeling.

By letting them see what goodness and kindness look like, firsthand, and showing them how to apply those things in the world.

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A conscious parent knows this and tries to apply it to their family life. Someone who is cheating is someone who is not modeling good behavior because they are lying.

I am sure that you are thinking that no one in your family knows that you are cheating so no one in your family knows that you are lying. But I would push back against that. Children are very perceptive and, even if they don’t know that you are lying, per se, they do know that something is off. You can see evidence of that in the erratic behaviors of children whose parents are unhappy, or who are struggling at work or who have a drinking problem.

Furthermore, while your family might not know right now, they most likely will someday know about your affair and they will know that you were lying to them and that will only teach them that it’s okay to lie. I mean, if their parent did it, why wouldn’t they?

So, know that if you are being unfaithful to your spouse you are no longer modeling behavior that you would like your child to copy – you are modeling behavior that will only be destructive for them in the long run.

3. You aren’t fully present.

I have a client who was having an affair. And that affair consumed her.

Outside of her affair, her life was mundane. She was a mother and a wife and a volunteer. She cooked and cleaned and carpooled and went for walks with her friends. Boring!

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When she entered into an affair, her mundane life was no more. She was having intense conversations, she was wanted, she was desired, she was sexual, she was a woman again!

And all of this made it very hard for her to be present with her family.

She recalled one night when the four of them were having dinner. Her family had always had good conversations at dinner and she loved them. This night, however, she found herself totally disconnected from the family dinner, anxious to get to her phone to see if her lover had texted.

When she became aware of this, she was devastated. She wanted to be connected to her family but, no matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t.

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At bedtime, her daughter asked her why she wasn’t talking at dinner. Was she ok? My client didn’t know what to do but she did know that her daughter had noticed and she knew that that wasn’t ok.

So, just know that, if you are having an affair, it’s very likely that you aren’t as present as you might have been in the past and this might cause a fracture in your family, even if it’s just a small one. A small crack can spread very easily!

4. You are betraying their parent.

The long and short of it is that you are having an affair and you are betraying your children’s parent. You are being disrespectful and dishonest, you are sharing intimacies and sexual experiences with someone other than your spouse.

And this is not okay for a child. Ever.

Again, your family might not know that you are having an affair but they will, someday. And when they learn the truth, they will know that you had so little respect for their parent that you were willing to lie and cheat.

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And, while your spouse might ultimately forgive you, your children most likely never will. Or, if they do, it will always be in the back of their mind that their parent hurt their other parent and that it wasn’t ok.

My parents set a terrible example for my siblings and me. Both of them cheated, my father more than once. As a result, we never respected either of our parents. We knew that cheating wasn’t ok but it seemed to become normalized in our family. We never talked about it but it was something that we all knew, to some degree.

The sad thing about this is that all of us kids have had relationships that are plagued with infidelity. Because we never had the example of parents who didn’t betray each other, we didn’t really have a road map to navigate a healthy relationship. So, we cheated.

If you are being unfaithful to your spouse, know that your children will know someday that you betrayed their parent and, not only might they not ever forgive you but you could very well be modeling behavior that they will repeat as adults.

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5. You are hating yourself.

A healthy parent is one who feels good about themselves. They believe that they are good people in the world, people who work hard to take care of their families. They respect the way they are in the world. They know that they make good choices to model to their family. They know that they are true to their convictions and that they are being the best person that they can be.

A person who is being unfaithful to their spouse is not someone who feels good about themselves. I have so many clients who have struggled with infidelity and, without exception, a big part of their struggle is the guilt and self-loathing they experience as a result of the infidelity. And that self-loathing carries over into their parenting.

Do you believe that your spouse or your kids don’t see your behavior and wonder what has happened? Do you believe that you are hiding your self-hatred from your mother or your friends? Do you believe that how you feel about yourself, good or bad, isn’t written all over your face?

You would be wrong if you thought any of those things.

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So, if you are struggling with the self-hatred that is most usually the side effect of an affair, know that your family is being affected by it. They know the person you were before the affair and this stranger who now sits at the dinner table is someone they don’t recognize.

If you are being unfaithful to your spouse, it is more likely than not that it is affecting your whole family.

The person who you were before the affair is mostly likely buried somewhere inside the shell of the person you are right now. This new person is a liar who betrays their spouse and breaks promises. This new person is no longer present at family get-togethers. This person hates themselves and that self-hatred is reflected in who they are in the world.

As you struggle with the fact that you are having an affair, or considering getting into one, know that your affair will have far-reaching consequences, consequences that you should consider as you take this next step.

After all, your family has always been your priority. Why should that change now?

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Mitzi Bockmann is an NYC-based Certified Life Coach and mental health advocate. She works with all kinds of people to help them go from depressed and overwhelmed to confident and happy in their relationships and in their world. 

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This article was originally published at Let Your Dreams Begin. Reprinted with permission from the author.