Our kids are so young (eldest 10 down to youngest of 2). I really don't want to get them dragged into all this and hurt in the process. Right now they are alone with the unfaithful partner and to tell them that mummy has been cheating could have serious consequences right now. What if one of them decided to run away? They know very few people over there and are totally reliant of my wife for their support and wellbeing. I can't drive a wedge between her and them.
Your kids are already dragged into the process and need to be told and given moral guidance. They probably already know what is going on and are very confused. Kids are hurt by lies and adultery, not by the truth. They can deal with the truth, they cannot deal with lies.
Dr. Harley on telling the children:
The same can be said about telling children about an affair. My experience with the positive outcomes of hundreds of families where an affair has been exposed to children has led me to encourage a betrayed spouse not to fear such exposure. In fact, to mislead children, giving other false explanations as to why their parents are not getting along, causes children to be very confused. When they finally discover the truth, it sets an example to children that dishonesty is sometimes acceptable, making them the judge of when that might occur.
An affair is an attack on children as well as the betrayed spouse. And it's true that children are deeply affected by this form of irresponsible behavior. But it's the act of infidelity that causes children to suffer, not the exposure of it. Facts point us toward solutions. Illusion leads us astray. That's true for children as well as adults.
Q: So, you do suggest telling our 10 year old son? Is this more than he can handle? He never saw any real unhappiness as my husband and I had a very low conflict marriage. I have been protecting our son from this truth. He still has hope that his dad is going to come home.
A: As for your son, the truth will come out eventually, even if you get back together again. And your son won't be emotionally crippled if he hears the truth. It's lies and deception that cripple children. He should know that your husband is choosing his lover over his son's mother. It's a fact. He's willing to ruin a family unit all for what.
When I first started recommending openness about an affair, I wasn't sure what would happen. But I did it because I knew it was the right thing to do. Now I know that for most couples it marks the beginning of recovery.
The reason that children should know about an affair is that exposing it to the light of day (letting everyone know), helps give the unfaithful spouse a dose of reality. An affair thrives on illusion, and whatever a betrayed spouse can do to eliminate the illusion is justifiable. Mold doesn't grow well in sunlight.
My wife's mother is there on occasion, but I can't tell her either. She and my wife have many unresolved issues from her childhood and this would be the icing on the cake I feel. They have never had the best of relationships.
What other family members are there could you enlist for help? Everyone in the world has "unresolved issues from childhood" but does that really have anything to do with the present? Would your MIL be able to help? Would she be supportive of your family?
I could expose this to her family here, but I really don't want to leave her open to the disgrace and shame. I love her too much for that.
If you love her, you will not risk your marriage and your children's family by ENABLING the affair. Affairs thrive on secrecy so keeping this secret only serves to enable it. Your strategy of secrecy is a bad plan, DC. Exposure can have the effect of stopping an affair dead in its tracks. You have the power to do this NOW before this goes any further. If this goes further you may not have a marriage left when you get there.
Listen to this radio clip with Dr Harley and another betrayed husband. This man did not expose his wife's affair, the affair continued and now the wife is LEAVING the husband. Dr Harley tells the man he is an "ENABLER" and if he would have exposed the affair initially that it would have killed his wife's affair. listen here