Friday, October 16, 2009

family secrets

I have been busy working lately, and am at a conference (intown) this week. A former colleague wants to connect with me for something she has due on Monday, and sent me an e-mail asking if we could possibly talk over the weekend - she doesn't have her kids this weekend.

I swear, that's the saddest sentence to see. I don't have my kids this weekend. All my choices over the past two years have been designed (actively or not) to prevent me from ever having to type that sentence. My marriage isn't perfect, but we are good parents together. And mostly pretty ok together ourselves. It's soon my two year blog-iversary, the marker of two years later, after the affair, after the crap, after putting up with all the crap, after moving to getting past the crap.

From where I sit now, the tradeoffs I've made to stay married, have a second child, be in this relationship, have been worth it. Sometimes the price seems very high, but it's remained a cost that has not been too much to bear.

This latest issue of Brain, Child has an article on the impact of infidelity on families and children. No one really knows, even more so than no one knows how divorce truly impacts kids. So much is anecdotal and depends on the particular circumstances, temperaments, and reactions of the parties involved. But food for thought.

I was struck by a paragraph that talks about not keeping secrets. Will I - we - ever tell our children about our relationship to that level of detail? I don't know. I don't think so. Maybe, perhaps, if a child is going through something similar. But it's still hard to imagine. What do you think? Would you share information like this with your children? Under what circumstances?


Jo said...

What an interesting question. As a child of divorce, I did in fact receive information about my parents' struggles that, perhaps, I would have been better off knowing. But I was already grown (as much as you can consider yourself to be as a freshman in college), so the impact -- I've always believed anyway -- was negligible. What do I plan on doing? Will I share our "family's" dirty little secrets with our children? I hope that, by the time we have them, there won't be anything to tell. But, deep down, I know that I am probably fooling myself. To imagine that our struggles will end with our infertility is ridiculous. So how will I explain it? I just don't know. Perhaps time, and circumstance, and the individual natures and needs of the children will dictate what and when they are told? Not an easy question to ask, or answer, I'm afraid.

Jo said...

(that should have been NOT knowing) :-)

Anonymous said...

I had not one but two affairs during my 25 year marriage and I decided that I was in the wrong. It was in the early years of my marriage, 20 years ago and I never told my husband and never plan to, nor do I ever plan to tell my children. I was wrong.

k@lakly said...

I think it is okay to have some things that are between you and your spouse and not for the children. If the marriage had failed then when they asked why, certainly the issue could have been discussed. But as you have stayed together and continue to work toward the family unity as an end, I think (FWIW), the two of you deserve to have that part of your marriage remain between you.

Anonymous said...

As a child, I knew all about my mother's infidelties. Of course, they were kind of hard to conceal, since one was with our (male) live-in nanny and another was with her partner from work.

I suppose it wasn't exactly good for me, but at least I never thought that my mother's divorces (from my father or from the live-in nanny) were my fault.


christina(apronstrings) said...

From personal experience both as a child of an adulterer and the wife to and mother of child born by an adulter--I WILL NOT TELL. EVER.

Though, I know they will find out. Eventually. I am hoping in their twenties.

My dad (aka sperm donor) was/is a horribly selfish and unhealthy person. He cheated on my mom with women and alcohol. When I was barely one he cheated on my mom and LEFT her-she way was a stay at home mom-who had moved across the country for him. Grrrr.

Anyway-she NEVER told us. In fact, she never said one unkind word about him. But I did find out-in my twenties. And I could handle it a lot better. It confirmed for me too-that I was born at the worst time in my parent's almost ending marriage. Knowing for a fact that you were unwanted-initally-is a lot easier to swallow in your twenties. God bless my mom for never letting that cat out of the bag.

*I* will not tell my children-for a lot of reasons-but manily b/c I don't want "shiny' to know that I was a month pregnant when his/her dad cheated. You know.

But that's *me.*

They will find out. Adultery forever mars a marriage. But I say err on the side of caution and not spill--unless they ask. But, either way-they'll survive and be just fine. Kids are resilient.

Ahhhh, infidelity- the gift that gives and gives.