When one or other partner in a family has an affair, the whole atmosphere in the house changes in an instant. The betrayed partner is usually so wracked with hurt and pain, it is impossible to put a completely brave face on things to try and hide that anything is going on. Believe me, children of every age are very perceptive to the emotional energy changes of their parents.
So, should you include your children in the details of what has occurred?
The answer, for the sake of the children, is an emphatic No!
I am an infidelity coach and I help couples overcome the pain and betrayal of infidelity. I often deal with couples who are still consumed with the pain for months and even years after discovery. If adults have such great difficulty dealing with the emotions of infidelity, imagine how difficult it will be for children.
Once you tell your child anything about what your spouse has done, you will instantly instil huge fear into them. They will be afraid that Mum and Dad are not going to be their Mum and Dad any more – and this is devastating to any child. You will be taking away their bedrock of life security – the fear of losing their family.
This is actually the same fear that the betrayed spouse is feeling – and it really hurts. Why would you inflict that on your children as well. It is easy for the betrayed spouse to justify that this is just another consequence of the selfish choice of their straying spouse, but not if the children aren’t informed.
Children, whatever their age, will know that something is going on, even if you try and hide it. So, be honest, but spare them all the details.
You would simply say something like this. “Sweetheart, you may notice that Mum is feeling upset right now. I just want you to know that I have had quite a big argument with your Dad. It doesn’t matter what it was about – that is our business. Sometimes people fall out with each other – just like you do with (your brother or sister). And it’s important that you work it out. Me and Dad are going to work it out but I just wanted to remind you that we both love you.”
Saying these things, acknowledges their perception and intelligence as to what is happening around them, but gives them reassurance of the one thing they need to hear the most – that they are still loved.