Staying After The Affair Because Of The Children. Does It Ever Work?

By: Katie Lersch: I often hear from people who are clear on the fact that the only reason that they are considering staying with the spouse who has cheated them or had an affair is because of their children. These spouses often don’t have much use for their cheating spouse or even for their marriage, but they hesitate to leave their marriage because they don’t want for their children to have their family negatively affected by one mistake.

Common comments are things like: “the only reason that I am not walking out on my husband is because of the kids. I found out two weeks ago that my husband has been having an affair with one of his coworkers. He has begged me to try to save our marriage and he promised that he will never be unfaithful again. Frankly, I don’t care if he cheats again or not because I am not at all invested in him anymore. I don’t intend to have the same type of marriage from now on because I can’t imagine being able to trust my husband ever again. But I came from a broken home and I feel like it has negatively affected me even as an adult. I am determined to spare my children from any of that same pain. So I am staying only because of my children. My concern is that even though I am motivated by children, I am not going to be able to keep this marriage together because of my anger and, because of this, my children are going to suffer anyway. Can a marriage work if there has been infidelity and the faithful spouse is only staying because of the children?” I will tell you my take on this in the following article.

Unfortunately, I can’t predict the outcome of anyone’s marriage. But I can recount my own experience, which was similar. I will fully admit that I initially stayed in my marriage because of my children. I didn’t even want to think about my husband, or my marriage, for quite some time following the discovery of the affair. I just wanted to focus on my children and on myself. And I told my husband that he needed to give me some time and some space because I wasn’t even anywhere near ready to deal with the issues that he had brought into our lives. I did leave my home for a while to visit with family, but I think that it was always clear that although I needed a break, I never had any intention of breaking up my family. But I also didn’t know if I would ever look at my husband, or my marriage, in the same way again.

For a long time I kept both at arm’s distance. I just did not want to get or to feel intimate again because I didn’t want to be hurt. But over time I realized that living in a home that lacked real and growing love between the parents wasn’t beneficial to my children either. I realized that the marriage that my children saw growing up was going to be a model for their own marriages. And I didn’t want for them to think that it was OK to live in a marriage with a default commitment but not intimate love.

So I decided to consider rebuilding my marriage. I knew that my husband was a good man who I had once loved very much. I also knew that our marriage was a good one, with which I was content, before the affair. I decided that living in the way that I was, without intimate love, wasn’t fair to me and wasn’t making me happy. I committed to accepting that I deserved no less. I promised myself that I would work tirelessly to get what I wanted and deserved. And since I had already vowed to not leave my marriage, then it was obvious that if I was going to have the love and the bond that I craved, I needed to reignite it with my husband because I wasn’t going to go looking outside of my family.

I’m not going to tell you that this process was easy or fast. It was neither. But today, I am very glad that I was so determined. My children are growing up seeing a very strong and loving marriage modeled for them. They are growing up with both of their parents. I am happy and content today but I do not think that I could say this if I would have vowed to stay but had stopped short of truly rebuilding my marriage.

So to answer the question posed, I believe that it is very valid to have your children as your motivation to stay after an affair. But I also firmly believe that you owe it to yourself to rebuild your marriage so that you are happy and confident once again. Since you know that you are going to stay with your spouse for the long haul, then I feel that you owe it to yourself to rebuild your relationship so that you feel loved and are capable of giving love once again. You don’t deserve to live with the insecurity, the resentment, and the lack of trust that can come about when you don’t do the work necessary to rebuild.

As I said before, I understand where you are right now. I understand committing to your children and no one else. But, in time, I hope that you consider that if you are going to stay, you might as well rebuild so that you can have the love and the marriage that you truly want. Rebuilding isn’t easy, but it’s worth it in my opinion. If it helps, you can read about our rebuilding process on my blog at

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