I Cheated On My Spouse And Now My Kids Don’t Respect Me

By: Katie Lersch: Most people realize that when you cheat on your spouse, there are more people than just you and your spouse involved. Infidelity actually affects many lives. It affects you and your spouse’s life and your marriage, of course. But it also affects the life of the other woman, the life of her spouse (if she has one,) and the lives of any children of the cheating spouses. Now, not every child finds out about the infidelity. And I always encourage anyone in this situation not to involve their children. But sometimes, children do find out and they can have a very negative reaction to this.

I might get a comment like: “I made the mistake of cheating on my wife. She was so hurt about this that she let it slip to my kids. Well, now I am always catching my kids rolling their eyes at me and making snide comments. My kids avoid me whenever possible. The other day, one of the kids smarted off to me and I told him that I wouldn’t stand for that kind of behavior. He told me that he doesn’t care what I say anymore because he has no respect for me because of what I have done to his mother. It’s hard for me to have an answer for this. I have disrespected their mother by cheating on her. And I can see their thinking that because of this, I don’t deserve their respect. But part of me thinks that I deserve their respect simply because I am their parent. Is this fair? Will my kids ever respect me again?”

I hear themes of respect over and over again. Sometimes, the faithful spouse has lost all respect for the cheating spouse. And sometimes, it is friends, coworkers, and family members that have lost this respect. I am always deeply against involving your children in the infidelity and this is one reason why. But once the child learns of it, there is no going back. You can’t reasonably expect for the child to pretend that he doesn’t know what he knows. And, it’s usually quite upsetting to the child, who will often feel very defensive and protective toward his parent who has been betrayed.

You can understand this, of course. If someone hurt your children, you would likely lose respect for that person also. Just for a second, think about how this person might earn your respect back. Well, first of all, they would likely give you a very heartfelt apology and with their words and with their actions they would convince you that they are truly remorseful. Then, they would work very hard to regain your trust by acting in a way that is trustworthy to both you and to the person that they hurt.

As you might suspect, this process takes time. You have to earn the trust back. And, this is my only my opinion, but while I believe that while you can require your children to treat you with respect, you can’t force them to respect your actions. They are going to have their own opinions and perceptions. Of course, these same perceptions and opinions can change as your behaviors change and they start to see that your new behaviors are worthy of respect.

However, it’s my opinion that if you try to force this on your children or you try to be overly strict about this topic, you may only make the lack of respect and the anger even worse. Instead, I might try a conversation like this: “what you say has some validity. I haven’t acted in such a way to earn your respect when it comes to marriage. And I am deeply sorry about that. But, I am going to make this right again. Over time, I intend to show you that I can be a good husband and father again. I made a terrible mistake. But I am going to prove that I can and will work tirelessly to rebuild our family. In the meantime, you don’t have to respect what I did, but you have to treat me with respect just as every member of this household needs to treat every other member with respect. That is part of being a family and living under the same roof. Finally, I want for you to know that my mistake had nothing to do with my love for and commitment to you. My marital mistake is one that I will work out with your mother. But I will never stop being your father. And my love for you never changed.”

After that, try to have some patience. With time and with seeing that you are truly sorry, are truly sincere, and truly intend to make good on your promises, the respect should eventually return. It may take some time. But with a lot of work, love, and patience, trust and respect can be restored after the affair as long as you show that you deserve the same. You have to understand that your wife and children did nothing wrong. So it is up to you to make this right.  It is really not up to them.

I hope that this doesn’t come across as harsh or disrespectful.  I do want to help.  But you have to understand that your family did nothing wrong and they are hurting.  This can be healed.  But it takes time and work.   You’re welcome to read more about my own healing on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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