I Know I Should Leave My Cheating Spouse, But I Love His Family And Don’t Want To Let Them Go

By: Katie Lersch:  I think it can be a mistake to assume that an affair only affects the husband and wife involved.  No, it can have very far-reaching implications.  Even if you choose to keep the infidelity to yourself (which is never a bad idea) it can still have implications on your relationship with extended family and friends – especially if your marriage may change as a result.  In fact, sometimes, these changes factor into whether or not you want to save your marriage at all.

Someone might explain: “I found out that my husband had an affair.  He swears it’s over and will never happen again. He is begging me not to destroy all that we have built.  But I made the rules of the game very clear to him when we got married.  There was no ambiguity about how I felt about infidelity.  It is what ended my first marriage and I have no patience for it.  So my immediate inclination is to kick him out and then file for divorce.  But after my mind goes to that, then I can’t help thinking about what that is going to mean for my step-daughter and mother-in-law, both of whom I love desperately.  I feel like my husband’s daughter is also my own child, in a way.  I am closer to my mother-in-law than to my own mother.  I don’t want either of them out of my life.  And yet, I can not imagine my husband in it.  My mother-in-law can tell that there is something wrong with my marriage.  I haven’t told her exactly what.  But she told me that whatever her son has done, he loves me deeply and will make it right if given a chance.  She says that in marriage, we have to just ride the tides and hold on sometimes until better days come.  I wonder if she would think the same way if she knew what her son did.  Anyway, I know that I should end this marriage, but part of me wants to stay in it, not for my husband necessarily, but because I adore his family. Is that crazy?”

I don’t think it’s crazy at all.  It means that you are fully aware that your decisions are going to affect people other than yourself.  However, only you can decide if your marriage can be rehabilitated to where it is a healthy situation for you.

I believe that marriages harmed by infidelity can be saved and rebuilt because I have done it, but I am fully aware that not everyone wants to do it or is successful at it.  Sometimes, marriages do end.  But, I don’t think that this needs to mean that your relationship with extended family also ends.

My father recently divorced a woman with whom I’d become very close.  But I have decided that although my dad divorced her, I did not.  I still proceed with her as I always have.  We still have lunch. We still go shopping.  I still call her.  She is as important to my life as she has always been.  Yes, we change our topics of conversations a bit.  We don’t discuss my father because that is none of my business.  But our relationship is based on much more than their marriage.  And my father respects that my relationship with her is about the two of us – not about the two of them.

I suspect that you would find it is the same in your situation.  Your mother-in-law may not stop loving you.  She may be able to separate the relationship between the two of you with the relationship you have with her son.  And, assuming you have a good relationship with your step-daughter’s mother or you maintain a cordial relationship with your husband, there really is no reason that you can’t remain a special person in your step-daughter’s life.  Yes, it would mean more work. But I believe it could be accomplished, so long as most people keep in mind what is best for her.  How is it not great for her to have as many loving adults in her life as is possible?

I’d like to make one final point.  I know that because everything is fresh, you might not even consider waiting to make a decision about your marriage.  But maybe you might consider that.  Because many people change their minds in time or open themselves up to at least trying counseling.  Even if you don’t want to save your marriage, the delay might allow you to maintain civility with your husband which might in turn make maintaining those extended family relationships much easier.

In short, I don’t think your relationship with extended family needs to influence your decisions with regard to your marriage. I think that you can give it time.  And I think that if you ultimately do end or pause your marriage, you can maintain those relationships if you work at it.  I think you can have both or you can pick and chose which you want to maintain if you handle this with integrity and love.

I don’t think you ever go wrong when you turn toward love.  And I do think that, more than any other time in history, people really do try to consider what is best for children today when they alter their own relationships.  Nothing says that you can’t proceed in the most healthy way possible, even after an affair.  That’s what I tried to do in my own situation, even though I ultimately saved my marriage.  You can read about the details my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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