It’s complicated


Hello, I am a mom of 2 kids, aged 2 and 6 and have been married for 5 years. Me and my husband don’t get on very well these days but we try to make it work for the sake of the kids. But the truth is I have an affair with someone else and I dedicate much more thoughts and feelings to my affair… What do you suggest?

Dear writer,

It seems that you are confused and need some guidance. It might be helpful to start by thinking about the time just before you started the affair. How was the situation then with your husband? Were you getting along before the affair? Was there anything missing emotionally or physically that made you look to or fall for an other man to satisfy you? What was it that you found attractive in your lover that you didn’t have in your marriage?

I’m saying this because it is hard to expect to get along with your husband while your energies are focussed on an other lover. Making half-hearted attempts to make it work ‘cos of the children’ won’t cut it. And everyone will sense it. Besides, an affair might give you a temporary self-confidence boost or satisfy you in ways that your marriage doesn’t, but the lies and sneaking around is draining and might have long-term repercussions on your self-esteem. Not to mention feelings of guilt as the sense of betrayal with infidelity is very intense and this may weigh heavily on how you view yourself and what you stand for.

So it is important to think in terms of your long-term needs and those of your children.

If you looked out of your marriage because you were unsatisfied in your marriage, figure out what this issue was and see if it can be fixed and if you and/or your husband are willing to fix it. Looking for a solution out of the marriage is not conducive to a happy one unless you have agreed on some arrangement with your husband which satisfies you both.

If you decide the relationship with your husband can’t work and it is over – and it is a good exercise to first spend some quiet time visualising your life without him in your life, how your day-to-day life will feel, because sometimes it is surprising what we take for granted – only then think about other relationships.

Divorce has long-term effects, it does not happen once and it’s over, but it unravels over time. It is stressful for both spouses, their families, the children and friends. It is always better for the children when both parents are working towards the happiness and health of the family. Happy parents, happy children.

However, staying in an unhappy marriage just for the kids sake is not ideal. Engaging in unhealthy relationship habits creates a toxic environment for bringing up kids in and does not set a good example for the children’s relationships when they grow older. In that case divorce should be considered and if dealt with in a mature manner where both adults behave in a collaborative way during and after the divorce, the kids have a better chance at having a happy and stable childhood.

I would encourage you to do all you can to really work on strengthening your marriage. Read books, talk with a therapist, learn how to deal effectively with conflict within the marriage. The lessons that need to be learnt will have to be faced in an other relationship anyway unless you tackle them now – but it takes both spouses to make a marriage work. I hope this has helped you achieve some clarity to help you move forward happily.