The Effects of Adultery on Children
When a person commits adultery they in essence damage the relationship by betrayal, and deceive the spouse by having an intimate relationship outside of their marriage. There is no greater feeling of being undermined and betray by someone you trust and care deeply about. The ramifications of the act, has severely consequences that include and are not limited to, physical and mental issues in your spouse. Moreover, the person that commits the offense suffers consequences as well. The most significant is lost of trust from relatives. These consequences also lead to divorce, with countless hours of counseling, financial losses that lead to stress. Most important the consequences of breaking the laws of God leaving your spiritual life affected. Nonetheless, children are greatly affected by this act of betray and suffer emotional and physical distresses that are likely to manifest as they get older.
The issue of adultery and how it affects children is nothing new to Dr. Nogoles. In her book, Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are Affected when their Parents are Unfaithful, she clearly identifies the underlining issues that adultery has on children. Children are affected by losing trust in their parents and in return feel betrayed with mix emotions about who can they trust and if they can trust their parents again. Another underlining issue was the children with parents that were unfaithful had additional feeling of felling caught (Thorson, 2014). The children were torn between both parents. This often made children have to choose and children don’t like choosing between to people they love. According to Nogoles (2010) children are left with feeling of hopelessness and a sense of shame and guilt even though they had nothing to do with the unfaithfulness. The research Nogoles (2010) worked on had high repercussions of ashamedness and betrayal. Betrayal percentages were over seventy-five percent and signs of felling ashamed was in the sixties. As if that was not enough, his research also indicated parental adultery affects the children, as they get older in their own relationships.
Nogoles (2010) concluded that 80 percent of adults whom experience a parental infidelity had a distorted attitude towards love and relationships. The age of children affected by parental infidelity is important. According to Nogoles (2010) it is not only the young children that are affected and ages range from six to twenty-six years of age. This is an important factor to consider being that kids age is usually why some parents stay together. All ages, whether young children, adolescents, or adults are affected by parental unfaithfulness (Nogoles, 2010). With many culture aspects changing is America, you would think that a monogamous relationship has dimmed, and people desire for marriage is no longer an ideal thing. However, Nogoles (2010) stated that a total of 86 percent of her research still thought monogamy is something they desire. An interesting fact, in the Nogoles (2010) research, is that in 2008 Gallops poll survey said that 91 percent of people still think affairs are not moral. With this in mind, people still think and desire a relationship that is faithful, trusting, and that any extramarital encounters is nothing expectable. Also, the issues of infidelity are just the start of the problems for the family. Unfaithfulness is not easy to forget and it often leads to divorce and the children are once affected by a tragedy they had not committed (Thorson, 2015). Kids trust their parents and have a hard time figuring out what happened. They often feel confuse and have mix emotions towards parents.
Finding remedies to this social issue is not an easy thing to do however starting with the causations of the problem of infidelity might explain the symptoms that can bring light to some remedies. Here are some brief explanations of the major reason that people divorce and we will see were affairs are listed in this category. I believe that infidelity is an after affect of a broken relationship that does not happen from one day to the next. There are other variables to consider that lead to people having extramarital relationships. According to Schacht (2013) couples getting married today have a 40 to 50 percent change of getting divorce therefore it is nearly a coin toss as you say you’re, “I do’s”. Parent has many difficulties when soon after marriage and each stage of marriage present a possible problem (Seay, 2013). With this in mind the struggle of marriage is a working progress and every stage of marriage this special attention.
As stated by Schacht (2013) the macro factors that lead up divorce are as follows: Increase women independence in the economy, the changing of family functions and structures, divorce laws, less moral and religious sanctions, the normality of divorce, and ethnicity and culture. Once again these are more of the structure and culture factors that lead to divorce. On the other hand there are micro factors to consider as well. Micro differences are, differences in spouses, falling out of love, limited time together, change is behaviors, conflict resolution skills, value changes, satiation, and affairs. According to Schacht (2013) about fifty percent of people would divorce from an infidelity. Other research shows that almost thirty percent of people would divorce after an affair and that about 25 percent of people will divorce from falling out of love (Schacht, 2013). These percentages also are coherent with other articles such as the by Snyder, (2005) in which affirms that affairs are the cause of many divorces. He then mentions that up to 40 percent of divorces are due to affairs.
Now that there is a platform of the causations of divorce and we see that infidelity is an after effect of a broken relationship. We can move on to the remedies for this to happen. Conflict resolution is something that people have a hard time with. One of the main components of conflict resolution is communication. It is said that about 80 percent of communication is verbal and the other percent is non-verbal (Schacht, 2013). According to Schacht (2013) defense mechanism is something to avoid. Four prominent mechanisms to watch out for are escapism, rationalization, projection, and displacement. Escapism simply means to escape from trying to resolve the conflict, in other words, being too busy. Rationalization is the act of cognitively justifying one’s behavior and discussing the actual issue of the argument. Projecting is the dogging the thoughts, and feeling to someone else because you don’t want to avoid recognition for the true source of the argument. Displacement mean placing your feeling and behaviors to the other person, such as, when things don’t go you way (Schacht, 2013). Positive factors to conflict resolution are addressing lingering issues, identify behavior changes, discuss the importance of perception change, summarize perspectives, generate win-win situations, and lastly forgiveness.
Seeking professional help is also an option to help couples through difficult situation. For instance, Structure Family Therapy (SFT) is therapeutic avenue that one can take (Morgan 2016). SFT is under the umbrella of Family System Therapy this sort of therapy concentrates in the family as a whole unit versus an individual. One important factor to consider as well is how to handle to aftermath of a parental infidelity. Regardless of age children know what a divorce and their needs to be a positive attitude towards the outcome (Seabaugh, 2015). In detail journal article by Sebaugh (2015), it is evident that age is not factors in how the kids understand divorce. They understand the way their parents come together and they also are aware of how they separate when a third party come to play, as it was describe in the article. Learning how to relay the adult information to the young children is important but even more important than that is making it positive for them. According to Schacht (2016) teaching the kids that this mistake of infidelity is a good learning experience and that one can live through it is helpful and positive. The problems begin when people don’t know how to handle the aftermath of infidelity and begin with negative behaviors. These problems often include less communication with children, drugs, alcohol, and verbal abuse (Schacht, 2016).
Each infidelity is different and depending of the type depends on the therapy you will receive. The main types of infidelity are womanizing and affairs (Lusterman, D. 2005) Womanizing is characterize as less emotional than an affair. In affairs one is more emotionally connected to the person and this often is a more serious offense. There is a difference between “I’ve cheated on you”, than “I’m in love with someone else”. The effects of both these can have different repercussions (Lusterman, 2005).
From a biblical perspective it is important to look at what God thinks about marriage, adultery, and divorce. God knows the repercussion that this has on people but not only are we affected physically and emotionally but also spiritually. Marriage is a God ordain act and we find record of this in the Holy Scripture when God created Adam and Eve and joined them together in the Old Testament. In the New Testament the Pharisees challenge Jesus on the issue of divorce and they do this to find a fault in Jesus however Jesus being God knew their hearts the reason behind their questions. In Matthew 19:3 they Pharisees asked, “is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason”. Jesus replied with an absolute, saying that since the beginning God created male and female and for this reason they should be joined together and become one flesh. Jesus affirms to the Pharisees, that “what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Matthew 19:6). But the Pharisees were not happy with this and continue to challenge Jesus, saying, “why then di Moses command that a man give a wife a certificate of divorce and send her away” (Matthew 19:7) Jesus replied to the Pharisees saying, Moses permitted you divorce your wives because your hearts were hard”. In other words, Jesus was trying to explain that the issue here was the heart and that in the begging God never intended to have divorce. But because people are stubborn and have a hard heart he allowed this to happened.
Therefore, Jesus makes it pretty clear that divorce is not something that God intended in the beginning and in fact, God does not liked but he hates it (Malachi 2:16). The reason he hates it is because he created and thought about it and this was suppose to be a blessing for people (Malachi 2:15). This is such a beautiful thing that Paul tells us, “Husbands, love your wife as Christ so loved the church laying his wife down for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Here Paul teaches that husbands need to a sacrificial love for their wives similar to Jesus and the church.
On the other spectrum of this we have what God thinks of adultery. Because marriage is a God ordain sacrament, adultery is not just a sin against your spouse but against God. God considers marriage something sacred and holy and desires that man would understand this and not violate this. We know that it is a sin because is was written by his finger in the Ten Commandment and Jesus enforces it by making adultery an issue of the heart, saying ‘”that is a man looks at a woman and lust after her he has committed adultery” (Matthew 5:28).
However, even with all this, and how God views adultery as a sin. God has provided something to reconcile us back to him, available for those that have truly repented. That is forgiveness! Forgiveness is part of the grace of God because he understands our weakened to the flesh. In fact, Romans 3:23 says, “for all men have fallen short of the glory of God”. Therefore, there are no good people and the only good one is God. And God offers his forgiveness to all people who are willing to except Jesus as their Lord and Savior. This is the same forgiveness that he says we need to have with one another regardless of the faults that we have. This is truly something that all marriages need in order to be successful and be blessed and have favor in the sight of God.
Nogoles, A. (2010) Parents Who Cheat: How Children and Adults are affected when their Parents are Unfaithful
Schacht, C., & Knox, D. (2013) Choices in Relationships: An introduction to Marriage and Family.
Negash, S., & Morgan, M. (2016). A Family Affair: Examining the Impact of Parental Infidelity on Children Using a Structural Family Therapy Framework. Contemporary Family Therapy: An International Journal, 38(2).
Thorson, A. R. (2015). Investigating Adult Children’s Experiences with Privacy Turbulence Following the Discovery of Parental Infidelity. Journal Of Family Communication, 15(1), 41-57.
Thorson, A. R. (2014). Feeling Caught: Adult Children’s Experiences with Parental Infidelity. Qualitative Research Reports In Communication, 15(1), 75-83.
Seabaugh, D. (2015). ‘Where Does Your Agape Stick?’. Missio Apostolica, 23(2), 357-363.
Thorson, A. (2008). The Influence of Discovery Method on Relational Outcomes: A Study of Parental Infidelity. Conference Papers — National Communication Association, 1.
BURFORD, M., & SEAY, J. L. (2013). ALWAYS AND FOREVER. Ebony, 68(7), 134.
Lusterman, D. (2005). Helping children and adults cope with parental infidelity. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 61(11), 1439. doi:10.1002/jclp.20193
Snyder, D. K. (2005). Treatment of clients coping with infidelity: An introduction. Journal Of Clinical Psychology, 61(11), 1367. doi:10.1002/jclp.20186