There is often a desire NOT to have your grown children know. However in the final end being honest with our children about these things tends to have the opposite effect than we initially think. That said timing is important.
Here are some benefits and why you should tell your adult children about the affair in your marriage:
1. It draws the family closer together. Honesty always brings closeness. The opportunity to "be there" for each other through difficult times bonds us together. I'm not suggesting there should be any role reversal or that kids be used as confidents or counselors. They don't need details, but being trusted with this information will draw them closer. If they don't know they will likely clue in via intuition that's something is not as it should be, and the secrecy will make them feel insecure. Their imaginations are likely to be worse suffering for them then the truth. Affairs are rarely taken to the grave, so later when they do find out; they will feel hurt that they weren't trusted with the truth.
2. The opportunity to model forgiveness, healing, reconciliation and love to our children is the most profound and valuable life lesson we can ever give them. Our children follow what we live, not what we say. Our children will also have similar problems in their own lives at some point, because no one is exempt from living life, including suffering, heart ache and disappointments. You both have the opportunity to teach your children how to cope with their own pain and obstacles in the future by your example. This is one of the most profound rewards we got from surviving the affair in our own marriage. Because during my husband's temporary period of insanity (as we now refer to it), he thought he should leave me, our kids had to know.
3. When affairs are kept secret in families, generational patterns are not dealt with and most often our adult children end up in the same situation. By dropping the need to pretend we have it "all together," things can be dealt with and are much less likely to be repeated in future generations. Most often when you dig, you find out that affairs have also taken place in the previous generation, but have never been exposed. Amazing healing happens in families when these questions are asked of parents, the truth exposed, everyone gets closer and there is such relief as the need to keep up the facade is replaced with the ability to be real, and loved and accepted any way.
One thing is for certain, whatever happens from here, it’s your life, your family and your decisions, so you need to do what's right for you, because you are the ones who are going to live with the outcome of the decisions you make. Telling your children may not be the right decision for everyone. The best thing to do is get as much perspective and understanding as you can about affairs, by reading books on the topic, and talking to others who've been through this.
Great quotes by affair survivors:
“We were in marriage counseling for years, and in some weird way it became a crutch. The 'knowing' didn't cut it. It's only the application of the knowledge that can result in a loving marriage.” – Hollis, Idaho
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