My Kids Don’t Respect My Husband After His Affair

By: Katie Lersch: I sometimes hear from wives who are not only dealing with their own conflicting feelings about their husbands after his affair, they are dealing with the feelings of their children also. Sometimes, there is no way to shield or protect your children from what is going on.

I heard from a wife who said: “my husband had an affair last year. For a while, he wasn’t sure if he wanted to break things off with the other woman. In fact, for a couple of weeks, he left our home and went and lived with her. However, he and the other woman broke up pretty quickly and then he called me begging to come home and asking if I would take him back. I told him that I would hear him out, but I couldn’t make any promises because a lot of damage has been done to our marriage. However, once he moved back home, it became clear that he didn’t need to just make things up to me, he also had some serious making up to do with our children. They are furious with their father. They are very disrespectful to him and half the time, they leave as soon as he walks into a room. This infuriates my husband, but my son told me that he and his siblings no longer respect a man who could walk out on his family. I understand why they feel the way that they do, but my husband is losing his patience and I do want to try to save my marriage. What can I do?”

I have to admit that in my opinion, the person most at fault here was the husband. The kids were entitled to their opinion, especially since they were directly affected by their father’s behavior. However, in order for their family to have a chance to heal, everyone was going to need to learn to respect one another. I’ll offer some tips for this in the following article.

Make Sure Your Husband Understands That He Needs To Earn The Respect Of Everyone After His Affair: I understand that the wife wanted her kids to back off a little because they were impeding her ability to save her marriage since her husband was becoming so frustrated by the kids’ behavior. However, the kids’ feelings were absolutely understandable. They had to sit and watch as their father left them and their home over a woman who was essentially a stranger to them. And, after their father declared his undying love for this strange woman, he then broke up with her only a couple of weeks later. How are the kids supposed to respect this kind of silly and immature behavior? This is not to say that the husband won’t be able to regain their respect in time. And it’s important that the husband give them the opportunity to do just that, which I will discuss now.

Make Sure That Everyone Knows The Difference Between Not Respecting A Person’s Behavior And Not Respecting The Person Who Committed The Behavior: I often tell people who are trying to recover from an affair that one thing that is going to help them with this process is being able to separate the person from their act. In other words, it’s OK to hate the act of having an affair. But this is very different than hating your husband. You can loathe the act, but, once the rehabilitation process is complete, you shouldn’t loathe the person.

The same holds true with respect. Of course the kids (and the wife) didn’t respect the husband’s behavior or his actions, but that didn’t mean that they should no longer respect him as a person. Because the truth was, despite this one bad decision and this horrible choice, his track record as a person, husband, and father had been a good one.

Prior to the affair, he was a loving husband and a devoted father and he had always been there for his family. So, one decision did not negate all the good things that he had done. It was important for everyone to remember this.

How To Address It When The Kids Don’t Respect Their Father After The Affair: First, you might talk to your husband and assure him that although you will talk to the children, he must understand that they are having a strong reaction because his behaviors felt like a huge rejection and betrayal to them. Ask him to have patience while he tries to earn their respect back.

In terms of the kids, the wife may want to say something like: “I completely understand why you’re angry at your father. I am hurt and angry too. But at the same time, I want to give us a chance to be a family again. So I am asking you to try to give him a chance to re earn your respect. You don’t have to respect what he did. I don’t respect that either. But he is still your father and he has a long history of very loving and reliable behavior. I respect your feelings and I’m not asking you to lie or pretend to feel something that you don’t. But I am asking that you consider being angry at the act and not the man. And I’m asking that you at least give your father a chance to make this up to us. Can you do that for your family?”

Be respectful and patient with your children’s responses. Understand that they are grieving and dealing with loss also. And there is every chance that, with time, they will come to see that their father is being truthful when he says that he will make this up to them.

Quite frankly, recovery takes time. And those who have been lied to need to be shown (over time) that it is safe to offer their respect and their trust again.

I tried very hard to shield my kids from what was going on with their father and me.  But I’m sure they knew some of what was going on.  Over time, I tried to make it pretty clear that although we loathed the act, that was different from loathing the man.  And this distinction made a difference in our being able to save our marriage.  If it helps, you can read our story on my blog at

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