I’ve been asked can a marriage survive infidelity and a child more often than you might expect. With the number of infidelity problems I help people deal with, sometimes a child comes along too. Can your marriage survive this?
A child from infidelity adds complexity beyond ‘simple‘ cheating but it is possible for your marriage to survive. This requires a careful balancing act for focusing on both your marriage and the child.
Any marriage surviving infidelity is driven by the love the two people have for each other and their will to save the relationship. When a child is added to the mix there is the additional complication of the other woman, and we have to be careful for the sake of the child. Remember, the child didn’t do anything wrong and we have to be mindful not to blame them.
Getting Over the Betrayal
We’re going to have to start with the hardest part first. We’ll get to how the child changes things and what you’ll need to do differently, but you’re both going to need to figure out how to put the infidelity behind you and move on.
I’m going to have to talk in broad strokes here but every marriage is unique in some way. If you’d like to get more specific advice to get your marriage back on track – take the marriage assessment quiz.
The first step is for you to decide if it will be possible for you to get over the affair, being cheated on is one of the toughest blows to your marriage, your sense of self-worth and it can rock the very foundations of your world that you thought were firm.
In many ways it is easier to get over an affair when you never have to confront the other woman, never know her, see her, have any connection with her. The third-party fades away easier when they are a shadow.
An affair can take all forms, it can be a short fling, just about sex, opportunity, driven by the other woman, someone you both know, something long term, something deep, something disposable. At the time it matters to you why how when all the details of the betrayal need to be outed for most women to cope.
Some women don’t want to know, it is sufficient to know that it is over and that it will never happen again. Some women can accept an unfaithful spouse more readily than others.
There are many marriages that survive a husband cheating, the trust is damaged but the couple work to get that back, and healing can take place.
How Can Marriage Survive An Illegitimate Child
It is a whole new ball game when there is a child born as a result of an affair. Often this happens when there are other children in the marriage already. The husband now effectively has two sets of responsibilities that he must balance. On the one hand, he has his wife and possibly children already, now nearly certainly unintended he has another child with the woman he is having the affair with.
This situation is difficult for all parties and it will depend totally on what all three adults involved in this picture want.
The chances of your marriage surviving the birth of the child depend completely on the two of you wanting the marriage and working to keep it. Affairs are tough, a child in the mix, and now the mother of the child is somewhere in the picture clouds everything.
Deciding If You Want Him
You will need to decide if you are willing to work at the marriage after the affair and most likely with the constant reminder of that affair in his life and potentially yours.
This you can only do in the same way that you get over any affair by working out if there is enough love to hold you together to get you through this together.
If you decide you can live with it, and indeed maybe it is the wake-up call the marriage needs then you can agree that you are going to stick with it, talk it through, work it all out and make it once again a happy marriage.
Having decided you are willing to work it through you need to have your husband agree to the same. This will depend partly on his relationship with the other woman and the joy fear and guilt that comes with fathering a child to another woman.
Fighting The Other Woman For Your Husband
I’d suggest reading my guide on getting your husband to leave the other woman. When a child is involved obviously there’s going to be a little more at play here.
It might be that the other woman with whom your husband is having the affair is not unhappy about having a child with your husband and indeed feels this conveys upon her the right to secure the man as the father to her child. She may well put up a fight for him.
This is a complication that women who feel that an affair is the end of their world don’t often face. Suddenly you have a woman who is the mother of your husband’s child working to keep him as her family.
She has rights legally, she has rights morally, and she has the emotional play of a new baby. If she wants him and she plays her cards well, she might well be an attractive proposition. A fresh start, a woman he was sleeping with, a woman now wants the full package.
Like every other dilemma in a marriage, your husband has three choices. You, her or be alone. You have to be the more attractive of the three options – if we boil it right down it’s really that simple.
Step Into Your Husbands Cheating Shoes
It is tough but I would ask you here to step into your husband’s cheating shoes. He has been found out, strike one, he is having a baby strike two, he has changed everything forever strike three. What might you be feeling in this situation?
If you want him, adding to his confusion and guilt by repeatedly blaming and accusing him of treachery and attacking his other woman will not be helpful.
You are going to have to keep the bigger picture in mind and look at how you repair your marriage which has taken quite a body blow.
Now Work Together to Fix It
Can a marriage survive infidelity and a child? Yes. But you’re really going to have to work at it. There are no simple answers here but you might want to read my guide on how to save your marriage. Following this advice and taking the child into account will give you both the best chance.
What matters here is the to of you and what you want. If you genuinely want to stay together and to work through this you absolutely can, It will take guts and strength, but it may make your marriage far stronger than it ever was.
You will start with forgiveness, no one can live with years of blame and guilt, baby steps to get to where you need to be, all of the usual advice will apply in getting over a husband cheating.
On top of all this, you will have a baby and in some form, the mother, to deal with. This is a long journey, but it can be a very rich one if you are prepared for the hard work.
There is a child in this mix, an innocent, not responsible for the affair, in no way to blame for any of this. This child needs love and stability like any child, and your husband has a role in providing that in whatever way you three work it out.
It’s completely understandable for you to feel like the child isn’t your responsibility or that you don’t need to have anything to do with them. But it’s not that simple and, for the sake of an innocent child, we can’t pretend it is.
You can’t ignore the child this is a new person in your lives, your husband may want to have a full role in the child’s life or simply to pay towards bringing the child up. These are complex decisions and you will need to be prepared for all permutations.
I have watched couples grow through adding an extended family into their own, I have watched as that after only takes a role and this is accepted by the wife, I have seen all three share the child-rearing.
What Effect Does a Parent’s Infidelity Have on A Child
Any psychological effect of a parent’s infidelity on a child will completely depend on how this is handled by the parents. With good parenting and love in any scenario, a child is less damaged.
If the child is the result of an affair, which might be the case when asking if a marriage can survive this, it is likely the child will be aware that they were not born when the parents were married. This shouldn’t affect the child as long as the child knows they are in a loving home of whatever makeup.
If however, the mother brings the child up with a hatred of the father who didn’t stand beside her when she got pregnant and he was already married, the child has to grow up walking a tough line to keep both parents satisfied.
Don’t Make the Child Into a Weapon
In essence, if the child becomes the weapon that one parent uses against the other then the effect can be damaging. If on the other hand the child is brought up by the mother and the father is fully involved and they manage that well it can be a pretty rounded kid. If a third parent is on hand and there is agreement across the board on how the child is brought up it’s a lot easier on the child.
Treat the child well and bring the child up with love care and consistency and it is irrelevant how conception occurred. In these days of such mixed families, the child can easily be open about their parentage and not fall foul of any real criticism. Families are complex and the family structures have all changed.
if you take this statement to be how are the children of marriage affected when it is infidelity, the answer is the same. It depends on the parent’s reaction, how much they share with the children, blame apportionment and ultimately the parenting they receive.
It is up to the parents to protect the children from that fallout of infidelity. Using the child as a tool against each other is just going to result in bad relationships all around and long-lasting damage all around.