Ending a relationship because of an affair can be quite problematic. It is almost as if whatever else transpired to the point of adultery is lost to this breach of trust.
For many, it is a definitive line in the sand. If it’s crossed, there is no return.
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Adultery can create tremendous feelings of betrayal into which issues about the care of the children can be poured:
- Feelings that the other parent is no longer worthy to parent
- Feelings that the other parent cannot be trusted with anything anymore
- Concern that the other parent may introduce (or has introduced) their child to the person who may be positioned as the home wrecker
- Feelings that the other parent doesn’t have the moral capacity to raise children
In these scenarios, parents are cautioned about introducing the new person to the children. If this is to occur, it is suggested that the relationship of the parent to this person be stable and already demonstrated as ongoing (consider at least a half to year post-separation).
Hopefully, the parent who had the affair can apologize for their behaviour without ascribing any blame or culpability to the other parent. This is not to say the other parent didn’t have issues, but that regardless of the issues, it doesn’t excuse the choice of the parent who engaged in the affair.
As for the parent dealing with the aftermath of the affair, it is important to differentiate between a breach of trust with you and the relationship between that parent and child. While your relationship may no longer be salvageable, it doesn’t mean that the child’s relationship to the offending parent isn’t important to the child.
This ability to differentiate is as important as the other parent’s ability to take responsibility for their own actions. Please note, that one is not dependent upon the other. In other words, if only one parent can step up and do the challenging work of improving matters for the child, then that child is at least fifty percent better off.
The more challenging separations often have adultery as an unresolved issue. If one or both parents are committed to improving the outcome for the child, then hopefully one or preferably both parents can attend counselling to take responsibility for the demise of the relationship, understand each person’s role, to whatever extent, and resolve to improve matters for the sake of the child.
Elevate the well-being of the child over any hurt or animosity for the other parent. That is the secret to more effective co-parenting.