Keeping Your Family Together After An Affair: Is It Worth It?

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from folks whose sole motivation after their spouse has cheated or had an affair is to keep their family together at all costs. As angry and as hurt as the affair has made them, they are determined not to allow this to tear their family apart. However, as determined as many of them are, they often have small doubts as to whether or not this effort is going to worth it in the long run.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had an affair at work last year. I kicked him out for a little while because I could not stand to look at him, much less to live under the same room with him. My kids did not understand this of course and I wasn’t going to tell them. Over time, we all began to miss my husband. I told him that I was allowing him to come back only because I want to keep my family together no matter what. My parents are divorced and this is very painful for me because they could never get along and I always had to choose between them. As a result, I’m not close with my extended family. I do not want this for my own children. But I am still so angry with my husband. I still feel so much pain. And my husband knows this. He says he can never feel at ease around me. He says neither of us are really happy but he knows that this is all his fault. I am starting to wonder if this is all really worth it. I am wondering if it’s not more problematic for my kids to be living in this awkward situation. I guess I’m wondering if I will look back when my children are adults and be glad that I kept us all together.” I’ll try to address these concerns in the following article.

I Think That Preserving Your Family Is Definitely Worth It As Long As You Insist On Healing: The situation that the wife described wasn’t an ideal one. Sure, the family was still together. But they were all still in pain. The kids likely knew that there was something going on. They likely felt the tension quite intensely. And, in small ways, they likely had to choose between their parents sometimes, especially in terms of their loyalty.

With that said, I will be the first to admit that my primary motivation for trying to save my marriage after my husband’s affair was my children. If I only had myself to think about, I might well have packed my bags and never looked back. But, like this wife, I am a child of divorce who wants better for my own children.

With that said, although my children motivated me, I was also clear on the fact that I was unwilling to live in an unhappy household.  And I stressed this to my husband from the very beginning.  I went through that in my own childhood and it left serious scars. So I insisted that my husband and I focus on healing so that our household would be a happy one for every one involved, including ourselves.

I am not going to tell you that there weren’t some very difficult months in our house. There were times when things were most definitely difficult for all of us. And I sometimes wondered if one of us should move out for good. But when I had these thoughts, I would promise myself that I would revisit some troublesome issues and then give the whole process a little more time.  And looking back now, it was absolutely worth it. But, I do not think it would have been worth it if I was going to hang onto the anger or if my husband was going to be sullen and bitter. And it most definitely would not have been worth it if my children were caught in this unhealthy cycle.

I suppose the point that I’m trying to make is that my opinion is that it is worth it keep your family together  if you can set it up so that the same family is in a healthy and happy environment. And this takes work and time. It’s not easy. And it’s not immediate. But it can work.  The wife in the above scenario hadn’t really considered this.  She just assumed that if she kept her family together she would have to struggle with her husband.  But she hadn’t entertained the thought that if she could fix what was broken, she could actually not only tolerate him but enjoy being married to him again.

It’s Fine To Use Your Kids As Motivation, But They Shouldn’t Be The Only Thing Keeping You Together: It’s very common for me to hear from people who tell me that they are only still together for the sake of their kids. They tell me that as soon as their kids are adults, they are leaving their spouse and seeking a divorce. I find this sad. Because when they have this mindset, there is no way that they are working on or improving their marriage. They have no belief that they can ever be happy again. In short, they are accepting a sentence of living with less than they deserve.

And I don’t believe that this is necessary. I believe that you can heal your marriage if you have the tools and the desire. (There are some free tools on the right side of this blog.) I’m not saying it’s easy. But I do think it’s worth it. So to answer the question posed, I do believe that it benefits every one in the family to save your marriage after an affair, but only if it’s done in a way that returns the family to a healthy and happy state eventually. Living with tension, despair, and pain isn’t beneficial for children either, especially when this can be avoided.

I admit that it was my kids who made me even consider staying married.  But I eventually moved past this and realized that I wanted to save my marriage for myself and that I deserved a marriage that was happy and whole again.  If it helps, you can read the whole story on my blog at http://surviving-the-affair.com

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