Should I tell my children about my wife’s affair?
Here’s the situation: We are in our 40s with two sons, 11 and 12. My wife is in an affair with a married man, likely a coworker. They were meeting in our house and I found out last month. She admitted it.
Now, during our divorce, she is asking for primary physical custody of the boys and she is determined to continue the affair. She also asks me to keep the affair secret from the kids. I am torn by the request.
From one side, I want to shield the boys from all these details and give them as much peace as possible during the turmoil. From another side, I would like the boys to know the truth, so things are clear, rather than be shocked later when they find out by themselves.
By the way, my wife’s mother had an affair she and her siblings witnessed, and my wife had an emotional affair five years ago with another married coworker.
Wei, based on our experience, we recommend telling your children the truth.
Your wife’s unfaithfulness is the reason for the divorce. The kids need to know the reason, though they don’t need to know the details. Their mother is dating and that is not allowed while one is married.
She is the party in the wrong, yet she wants you to conceal her misdeeds. Agreeing to that is a mistake for several reasons.
First, as a matter of principle.
Things only get worse when we excuse or conceal bad acts.
If you are taking a test in school, is it fair to allow someone to cheat so they get a higher score than you? Is it fair to allow people to cut in front of you in a line so that you have to wait longer?
To whose advantage is it when you fail to tell friends that your plumber billed you for unnecessary or nonexistent repairs? It is to the plumber’s advantage. He is the only one who gains.
Telling is the answer in every case. Why? Because the world is worse for all of us when cheaters thrive. They rise, even as the rest of us fall.
Second, she is telling the kids something when you are not around, she is telling her friends something, she is telling her family something. It almost surely is not that she is cheating.
Third, you have the one, universally accepted reason for divorce. Cheating is right up there with embezzling. She is hoping you keep your mouth shut for the next year or so, and then she can deny her actions by saying, “Well, that is not what he was saying before.”
Don’t worry about your pride in telling your lawyer and everyone else. Five years from now, when she has made you out to be the villain and the cause of the divorce, you will be sorry you didn’t speak the truth in the beginning.
Her lack of character caused this. It is no reflection on your character.
She wants to conceal her actions, lie about them and blame you for the divorce. That is her game plan. That is why you should make sure your children, your family and others know the real reason for the divorce. She will attempt to give them and everyone else another reason.
Cheaters can’t be trusted. You don’t need to ask her for permission to tell. You should not forewarn her you are going to tell.
If she says you should have talked to me first, tell her she should have talked with you first before she went ahead and cheated. Any attempt to throw blame on you should be met with, “You did not need to cheat, and you caused this.”
The final reason to tell is this. People need to live in reality. That is the reality of the situation.
~Wayne & Tamara
Column for the week of July 27, 2015
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