Discussion – The Ripple Effect on Families as a Result of Infidelity

infidelityOver Easter weekend we met up with some good friends of ours for a few drinks and some live music.  This couple is one of very few friends who know of our situation. During our time together they shared a story of one of their neighbors who had an affair a couple of years ago and eventually married his affair partner

They also shared some details of what has happened to the family as a result.

The man (who had the affair) and his new wife of four months seem to be getting along fine and are still in the honeymoon stage of their relationship.  It will be curious to see how their relationship evolves as time passes.

The ex-wife however, is having a much harder time of it.  She has become an alcoholic and spends a good deal of her time drinking and sleeping.  She has attempted to date again by utilizing a few different online dating sites but has not yet found anyone worth pursuing.  She is lonely, angry and hurt.

During their twenty-something-year marriage they had three kids – all now out of college and out on their own, but this whole situation has had a huge effect on them as well.

They have one daughter who is married, and after a period of time she was the only one of the three kids who began to at least accept what had happened and was willing to have a relationship with her dad and his new wife.   She didn’t like it necessarily and she was still mad at her dad, but she felt that she had to do it. 

She and her husband just separated as a result of her own affair with a co-worker. 

Did her father’s affair have anything to do with this?  Who’s to say?  I wonder though…

Daughter number two has had the hardest time with this whole situation as she is the only sibling that lives in close proximity to her mom.  She has had to take care of her mother and has tried her best to get her mom back on her feet and to start living her life again.  It’s been a very stressful situation which has caused her to resent her dad and her other siblings. 

She has gained 35 pounds, drinks too much and goes to therapy as a result of her dad’s affair and her inability now to maintain a lasting, trusting relationship.  She is very angry at what her dad did to her mom and has no desire to ever meet his new wife.  Her relationship with her dad is strained to say the least.  Oh… she is very pissed at her sister for having an affair.

The son is also very angry and refuses to have anything to do with his dad’s new wife.  Dad and son rarely talk anymore and the several hundred miles that separate them makes it difficult for them to see each other as well. 

He has a college education but can’t find a meaningful job and lives with the financial support of his mom.  Though the family is well off, he lives in a slummy area of a big city and spends most of his time drinking and partying and is currently not involved in any relationship.

As a family, they never get together for holidays, vacations or just to hang out.  There’s an abundance of hurt, anger and resentment which makes it very difficult for them to carry on a “normal” conversation during the rare occasions that they do communicate. 

We’ve met this family in the past during a neighborhood block party that our friends invited us to.  Now granted this was several years ago, but on all accounts they seemed like a very normal, loving family doing the typical stuff that close families do – sports, church, family vacations, etc.

The affair has literally torn this family apart and has had many profound effects individually and in their relationships with one another and with other people.

I’ve briefly summarized this family’s current situation and I’m sure there is much more to the story that we do not know about.  However, it demonstrates the destructive nature that infidelity can have on a family – directly and indirectly.

Thus, it leads me to our weekly discussion topic…

How has the affair affected other members of your family…emotionally, physically, mentally, etc.?

What have you done (or tried to do) to help repair the damage and/or ease the situation?

Please be sure to reply to one another in the comment section below.


Linda & Doug


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17 Responses to Discussion – The Ripple Effect on Families as a Result of Infidelity

  1. tsd April 10, 2013 at 6:51 am #

    Woah, what a horrible reality…that poor poster family should show you that repairing your marriage should come first…no thanks to the ripple effect….

  2. Rachel April 10, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Sad story, I feel for this family. The ex wife is better then her ex. She needs to brush herself off and rise above the loser. She needs to to this for herself and her family. Hard yes but, don’t let that selfish creep win.

  3. forcryin'outloud April 10, 2013 at 9:34 am #

    From my rantings and ramblings the past week you know my child and I no longer have a relationship with my MIL. My FIL refused to talk to me and never once looked at me when we saw them for Thanksgiving over a year ago. (they have heard my side of the story) I have not seen them since. They currently live about 10hrs away. When I got on the ph this past x-mas to thank them for their gift my FIL immediately got off the ph. My H said he is embarrassed and angry with my MIL’s behavior and my H’s and that is how he handles it. (Explains why m H NEVER talked about his or our problems.) My MIL spewed venom about me to family and friends. Found most of that out during the thanksgiving trip. Craziest thing she has NOT once asked my H how he is or how we are doing since our “family” conversation after d-day. Neither of them have been supportive or helpful to my H. And neither have approached the subject of the effects on our child. I think for them out of site out of mind. It’s sad because my child has lost out on the beneficial grandparent relationship. And unfortunately my child knows his grandmother used my child as a pawn. Before I cut off contact post d-day she told my child she hoped I didn’t kidnap my child.
    The upside is my SIL (H’s bro’s wife) finally warmed up to me. My in laws have treated her like dirt since they met her. Now we have a bond over the crazy in laws who would love to see us removed. Plus she was one of the few people who could understand my MIL’s manipulations in the situation.
    My family has been incredibly supportive of us both. My H apologized to my mother for his behavior since my lunatic actions post d-day included sobbing on the ph anytime I talked to her. My H’s betrayal added insult to injury because we were also dealing with the end of my father’s Alzheimer’s battle. To that note none of this EA garbage would have happened if my Dad still had his marbles…he would have verbally (maybe physically, too) kicked my H’s a$$ and my H knows that.
    I will say my child has suffered the most and that haunts me. My child didnt deserve what was dealt my child, no child does. But that’s my child’s story to tell not mine. I will say it remarkably changed my child.

    • chiffchaff April 10, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

      My SIL and I have also bonded as a result of my H’s affair as one thing that came out what how shittily they’d treated me ever since we announced our engagement (stunned silence, then a big ‘oh no’ from MIL and much discussing with H as to whether he’d really thought about it – I was not the ‘class of person’ they had wanted for their son and I was also a bit ‘common’ looking as well as ugly – nice). They initially treated my SIL as some sort of goddess for a few years until my SIL had (understandably) difficulty coping with their first born being in hospital pretty much full time with a congenital heart defect for the first 7 years of his life. After that she became ‘the dumb blond’ and things got so bad they actively shunned her even in her own house.
      Anyway, sorry for digressing but it helps set the In-laws scene a bit – my SIL and I have since been able to help each other with coping strategies and to generally form a support for each other when dealing with them. We also act as jungle drums for the family in flagging up when the in-laws are trying to manipulate everyone to get what they want (ooh, I wonder where my H learnt some of his unpleasant skills from?).
      Thankfully that’s the main family ripple that I’m aware of. I know my in-laws have been praying and seeking help from church with how to deal with having an adulterous son but it hasn’t affected me.
      I suppose the other ripple is that I’ve stopped caring about their rudeness to me. It’s their problem and their insecurities that cause them to be openly rude to me. I don’t have to take it personally or get affronted. these days I’m more likely to laugh and say ‘goodness, do you know how rude that sounded’ which usually leads to them shutting up and going red.

  4. chiffchaff April 10, 2013 at 12:12 pm #

    Oh, the other ripple is that my H’s previously great relationship with my sister and BIL is permanently ruined. They treat him politely now but they’re unlikely to ever let him in fully again. My nephew, who’s 17, won’t even speak to him as he’d pretty much hero-worshipped my H before the affair. He feels deceived too. my H really misses that relationship with my sister’s family but he’s does understand and accept why it’s like that and that it’s all his own doing.
    My father has accepted him back and given him another chance I think. My mother, if she were still alive, well, I don’t know what would’ve happened there. she was very opinionated but also would likely assume that it was me being fat and unattractive that casued it in some way as that was usually how she felt about herself. thankfully I’ll never know.

  5. Redemption April 10, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Both of our adult children were deeptly affected by their father’s adultry and callous behaviour towards them. Our daughter is a strong and confident young woman who now has a generally lower opinion of all men and especially those male friends closest to her. Our son had to face his own girlfriends infidelity within months after finding out about his father’s infidelity. I don’t know if I was the best role model in this case because as I explained, I chose to stay in my marriage as I had over 30 years invested. My son only 1. But my son saw I was making the marriage work and wanted to do the same. They have now moved in together but my son does admit he still has immense anger at his girlfriends betrayal with her old boy friend. And that little word again – TRUST. It’s always a work in progress. I don’t believe it can ever come back a 100% again. It can never be the same as it was. Lack of trust changes us all.
    My sil found out about my H’s affair the day my daughter exposed it. My sil said she didn’t condone her brother’s behaviour to me but she never said one word to my H about his affair, his deceit, or his behaviour to his family. She also said my daughter “didn’t handle it right”. I often wonder what that would mean if it were her daughter handling the betrayal of her own husband. In truth, my sil would have decked her husband on the spot and her daughter would be praised to all, as being her champion.
    I don’t deck people and I don’t blab for all to hear.
    I have though thanked both of my children for their loyalty in standing by me and helping me get through the turmoil. I know it crushed them to see me crying so much during this time but their support helped me hold it together. I appreciated their kindness while at the same time knowing I could not keep them involved in the deceits playing out in our lives. Even though their father didn’t give a fig about our kids during his affair fog, I believe that somewhere under all the guilt and the lying he knew to be proud of them for their loyalty to me. Unfortunately, to this day my H doesn’t accept, nor understand, that the OW contributed to him emotionally abandoning his kids while in the affair. The OW wanted my life but without the kids (she has an adult daughter of her own). She knew our kids wouldn’t accept her and she considered them insignificant in the final analysis. My H also doesn’t understand the power she exerted over him. I asked my H “Where did you think you could take her (OW) outside of her home town? Maybe to his sisters, who lives in another city but my H knew his brothers would never accept his affair behaviour. My H still struggles with any real insightfullness into his affair.. We still have a lot of work to do in this area.
    My own father had multiple affair while I was growing up but fortunately I had a very strong mother to look up to. I loved my father but always considered him weak and without much backbone in life. And life goes full circle. Our kids love their father too but that intrinsic trust that every child should share with their parent while growing up is gone forever. And sadly our kids will never view their father with the same respect again either. That too will be forever diminished. The damage goes on for a lifetime!

  6. Hopeful April 10, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

    No one ever wants to attribute anything positive to an affair so let me say that many positive ripple effects can happen as a result of the hard work and deep introspection and processes of taking responsibility and forgiveness that occur after an affair.

    Much can be said about negative ripple effects for us, I suppose, but in feeling positive these days, I can say that our lives are dynamic and our relationship stronger and capable of handling all kinds of crap that might befall us at this point. We can roll with things much easier. We have a small infant. I can be assured that this hard work in the aftermath will benefit him longterm to have two parents with coherent understanding of themselves and each other and who have endured much to learn what it means to be in a healthy long term relationship. He will be safe and capable of loving and being loved in ways we were not ready for given our backgrounds and os hopefully the learned patterned from our families will not be placed on his shoulders. A good ripple, let’s hope.

  7. Mandy April 10, 2013 at 8:51 pm #

    If we were to divorce, there would certainly be ripple effects It would be extremely painful for our families and sad or shocking to many friends. As it is, nobody but our therapist knows about the affair. We have chosen to keep up an appearance with our family and friends while we work on this.

    I found Hopeful’s comments interesting. I have to agree (grudgingly ) that there can be some positive ripple effects if the couple works to improve the relationship and to improve themselves as individuals. We are working on it.

  8. Recovering April 11, 2013 at 11:00 am #

    The ripple effect hasn’t really been that big in our family from my husband’s cheating, mostly because only 1 family member knows, and my friends that know have had cheating in their lives previously, so they support me and try not to treat my husband differently because of their love for me. My SIL, who is the ONLY family member who knows (which wasn’t necessarily a planned telling – more of a thing where my husband pushed me insisting I wouldn’t tell his family and I had an ‘in your face’ reaction and called and told – which I regretted at first, and now am SOOOO glad I did). My SIL and I have a much more close relationship now, which we were pretty close before, but now… She told her own brother that she hated him for what he did! She has been nothing but a major supporter of mine, to which I was a bit surprised, but am so thankful for!! She chewed my husband’s butt up one wall and down the other for what he did to us… and I think that my husband needed that to help him ‘see the light’ so to speak.

    The only really negative “ripple effect” has been on me, and how I view family now. I always thought that his family was my family. Am closer to his mother than my own!! His mother is a woman with a wonderfully TRUE heart, and we have so much in common… After his cheating and going through all of this and seeing what we, I, almost lost, I pulled away from his family. I wouldn’t answer their calls, return texts or emails… just withdrew my heart from them the best I could. I realized that if my marriage didn’t make it, that ultimately his family was HIS FAMILY, and I would always be an outsider. His parents still don’t know… they know we went through a rough time for a while, but don’t know why. They actually came to visit us for the first time since D-Day just last week. I was TERRIFIED!! I didn’t know how to act around them anymore, especially my MIL, who I love so much! She and I ended up having a chat about her and I’s relationship… she said that though she didn’t know what happened between my husband and I, that she valued her and I’s friendship so deeply, and that she and I would always be friends regardless of what happened with my husband and I. I told her that it is easy to say that, and that I really wanted to believe her, but reality is sometimes different. She asked me if I trusted her. I do. I do trust her… now that I barely trust anyone, I still trust her. I am clinging to our friendship now. She did mention offhand, and I think maybe she suspects but doesn’t want to believe he could do something like this to his family, that she would never forgive her son if he did something to destroy his family. That she raised him better than that. Well, I didn’t confirm anything, but just the comment made me feel a bit more supported by his family. I hope the day never comes where they find out that they don’t really know their son – that he is the type of person they frown upon… His family, and his parents, are so important to him, that for them to look badly on my husband… I don’t think he could handle it. Stuff like this, and him having to look at his parents and hope I don’t say anything, and having THEM be upset and sad because I have pulled away… I am starting to believe that my husband could never cheat again because the reprecussions run much deeper than our marriage. They always have, he just couldn’t see past the ego trip he got from the disgusting whore… Not much ripple here, but what we have dealt with has been enough… can’t imagine having to deal with what some of you have had to deal with regarding the family… this small amount is hard enough!!!!

    • Teresa April 12, 2013 at 1:41 am #

      Recovering….you’re blessed to have a MIL like that….treasure your relationship!

  9. Teresa April 12, 2013 at 1:17 am #

    The ripple affect? We no longer have a relationship with anyone in my H’s family, since they believe the crap my H said about me during his EA…and when he tried to tell them he was lying, they accused him of doing “penance” to make me happy!
    Am I upset over having no contact with them? NOT AT ALL!!! It’s a blessing actually, since all they did was put my H down, and being Passive Aggressive, he has low self esteem anyway, and they would only do more damage!
    My youngest son seems more secure now, and doesn’t mention how his dad “almost ruined our family” anymore…so that is good!
    Infidelity is the most selfish act a person can do to a family and the damage is far reaching….as we all know.

  10. Strengthrequired April 12, 2013 at 2:11 am #

    The rille affect for me and my family,
    Well because the ea was with my h cousin, hensaid so many terrible thing to her about me,as well to his family. If he wants me in his life, he loses his cousin, also her family who supported her trying to break up my family.
    My children suffered, lack of dad time, they also saw first hand how a family member can try and break up their family. We had to move, so of course my two oldest couldn’t come with us, my younger four did.
    I used to always see my mum and my sister, since my h ea, I couldn’t, I didn’t want to see anyone, I also wanted to protect my h from not being accepted again if we worked everything out.
    So my relationship with my family suffered. My children cont get to see their grandmother or aunty much either. My children have had difficulty with their fathers ea, their lives were turned upside down. Then the move on top, having to make new friends and losing old ones has been difficult on them.
    My h doesn’t see his sister much, or her family, as we also moved away from them.
    We lost alot of friends, and I just can’t trust anyone anymore.
    I have become more lonelier now more than ever before.
    My h is barely home, trying to get our lives back on track.
    I’m worried all we have worked for will be lost.
    Yet my h still has people to talk to, because of his work he has made close friends. Me on the other hand have no one left. If it wasn’t for this site, I would be lost.
    What a loser hey? Crazy my life has come to this.
    Pure embarrassment wasn’t enough. I know myth lost respect from some of our friends because of the ea, which in turn rippled down to me.
    Ohh well life must go on.

  11. Gizfield April 12, 2013 at 7:29 am #

    Strength required, luckily cousins are pretty far down on my needs “hierarchy” so I could cut any of them out of my life with no regrets if they messed in my family. I wouldn’t give losing a relationship with a person like that a second glance.

  12. Strengthrequired April 12, 2013 at 8:58 am #

    Gizfield, me too. As far as I’m concerned someone that can try and disrespect my h and my marriage and my family the way his cousin did, has no place in my life. Doesn’t matter who it is, don’t mess with my family.
    Yet if you can believe it just like any ea, my h had a hard time letting her go, because of course she saved him from the wicked wife. She even told him that I must have put a curse on him, that’s why he was so sad.
    I can’t believe the shit she said to him, and the idiot believed quite a bit of it while in his fog. It truly amazes me, considering apparently she knew more about me the my own h did even though she only just came into our life, and we have been married two decades.
    Do you ever just feel so drained and wonder why on earth do I keep trying. I’m emotionally drained, and emotionally tired.

  13. Dee April 13, 2013 at 10:42 am #

    Although my h’s ea was 6 years ago now, we are still suffering the effects of it. Because his ea was with a co-worker, he had to leave his job (a condition of mine), he ended up taking a job nearly 100 miles away from where we live. We had to sell our home because of his cut in salary and I lost my job because I took time off with stress when it all happened. Our eldest daughter was just about to go go to University and therefore did not witness the repair of our marriage. As a result, she, a beautiful and talented girl, now has trouble trusting men and has problems forming relationships and my youngest is not the secure child she used to be (My H’s behaviour made it impossible to keep it from family and friends). Mt self-esteem and confidence was shattered and I am still struggling to regain it even now and the circle of friends we moved amongst (who all know about it as a result of what my husband did) are still uncomfortable with us. Our best friend,’best man’ at our wedding and children’s Godfather knew about the affair whilst it was going on and as a result of his behaviour afterwards, we no longer have a friendship. Mine and my children’s lives were irrevocably changed as a result of what my H did……and yet, the ea only lasted 7 weeks. I cannot imagine the destruction that occurs to families where an ea has been conducted over several years! We have managed to ‘move on’ as we have to to survive, but something special was lost within our family the day it all came to light and since, we have all only really managed to ‘live with it’ rather than overcome it…..I know without a shadow of doubt that If my H had known the long-term damage his selfish and immature actions would wreak upon his family, particularly his children, he would have thought twice before he had let it get that far….really sad.

  14. Hurt and incensed April 16, 2013 at 6:08 am #

    My H’s physical and emotional affair ended just over 2 years ago and we are still feeling the ripple effects of his selfish, wreckless actions; some positive but mostly negative. He carried on a 12 mth affair with a woman at our children’s sports clubs where he was chairman. The piece of old trash he set himself up with lives in the same community as us and one of her daughter’s is involved in other local sports clubs etc with our 15 year old daughter (we also have a son, 18). During the affair, trash features was the mum of the year and let my idiot h go round to her home frequently where her two daughters talked with him and must of wondered WTF he was doing there given that like their unscrupulous mother, they knew of our family (my daughter is a very high achiever in sport), all knew he had a wife and children; shame he seemed to have forgotten LOL! Seriously, what mother exposes their late teenage daughter’s to that immoral bahaviour and then insults their intelligence by pretending she and the married guy they know, are “just friends?” Her eldest daughter once asked her mum why she had told her not to meet up with a boy at school as he already had a girlfriend and it would be wrong and yet she was having my h round to her house without his wife? My H and I moved to this Country 6 years ago so we are across the other side of the world from any family support. Since D day, I am stuck living in an area where I can bump into her anytime, having to go to various sports events she might be at, have so many traumatic triggers and have a private practice as a couple and family therapist – this man I would have laid my life down for has rewarded me with the biggest challenge of my life dealing with this total humiliation and stripped everything from me for what? But I have to suck it up because I can’t make my children move again; the migration was enough and they are settled and doing really well. I have huge, immeasurable anger and resentment that my h put our family in this terrible position which could have had very serious negative affects on our kids if it was not for me. Trashy messed her kids up and it is really sad to see. Her eldest daughter is very depressed and actually looks like a homeless person walking along in the shadow of her mum, who continues to be made up like a high class prostitute, false everything and apparently oblivious to her daughter’s mental state. My h needs to feel really ashamed and responsible too for the impact these kids have suffered at the hands of two selfish individuals just so that they could feel good. What parent would feel good getting anything at the expense of their child? I have done everything in my power for my children not to know what their father did – this is a family trait in my h’s family you see and it would break my heart if my son ever did this to anyone or my daughter had to endure it! I talked with them openly about us having some worries and problems after the migration but told them we were strong and were working on it. If they ever worried about us, they should feel free to talk to us but these were adult relationship issues. They were contained by that and I never involved them in a thing and tried to do all the upset away from home or in our bedroom. In some ways, making things so contained and stable for them has robbed me of the opportunity to leave and make him beg me to come back or to rant and rave at him about not only the affair, but his despicable and cruel behaviour towards me during it! If we had been in our own Country and I could have had support keeping the kids out of the way, I think he is fully aware, it is unlikely that I would still be here, trying my hardest to make it work!! On the up side, seeing her treatment of her kids, the lack of responsibility and the total opposite from me, my husband is in no doubt of the sacrifices I have made or the lengths I would go to for my children. He has also developed a much closer relationship with our kids, is much more emotionally involved with them, talking more openly and having fun which is how he has been in the past – it is heartwarming to watch how they are responding to this. Every cloud………..

  15. Shocked and Stunned January 26, 2017 at 6:23 pm #

    The ramifications of my husband’s affair with my sister in law are massive. Not Only did he invite her over to his house, once we were separated, under the guise of cooking dinner for her and our two teenage sons, but he had the balls to tell me to my face three times in the years leading up to our separation that I have nothing to be concerned about regarding their relationship. He berated me when I confronted him and said “thanks very much, you just made me lose the only friend I have left. My oldest son told him that he had filled awkward for the last 18 months whenever his father was around her at our house when we were still married, and he had no comment or discussion about this with our son. For the next 18 months or physical separation, he continued to reach out to me by inviting me over for dinner as a family but would never talk about any of the problems we had with the relationship with the sister in law as he promised. I have since severed all ties with him and hope karma comes his way soon. Our friends and both families are disgusted with what example he is showing to our sons, I didn’t need to tell them, they figured it out on their own. He has moved on from the sister-in-law To a woman 22 years younger than he is. He has already broken up with her because she was cheating on him but took her back several months later. They are now getting ready to buy a home together. His family has totally written him off because he Never had much of a relationship with them, never visits, never calls, missed one wedding entirely and showed up an hour and a half late for another one. He is totally self absorbed and for his middle-aged transformation, gets laser hair removal, tanning, weight loss, new expensive wardrobe And is traveling the world with his woman. All the while, continuing to take no active part in his sons life . Trust for him from all of us is nonexistent and will never reappear. When he broke up with the girlfriend, he would love bomb his son Seeing him three or four times each week, but since he’s been back with her, nothing! our oldest son who is in first year university. Is to embarrassed to bring his girlfriend to his dad’s house and avoids it at all cost. He realizes he needs his father financially for his university education but beyond that he’s not very interested in him. And daddy doesn’t understand what he’s done wrong! Neither of my boys want to marry or have children when they get older and I don’t blame them. My 15-year-old needs to be in therapy with my husband or pay for it or take him and until I am reemployed I will not be able to do that. As for the sister-in-law’s family, she had been separated from my brother and has since divorced. My nephew and niece, her children know what happened and have to deal with not only what she did with their uncle but the “too many to count and infidelities that occured throughout her marriage. The utter selfish and childish attitude of cheaters is astounding. My ex is too ashamed to show his face anywhere and he’s not even brave enough to text me and ask how our sons are doing and coping or if he can help. He makes promises to them and me that he never keeps but this has become his new normal. I hope he feels proud of himself but I know he can’t look at himself in the mirror and feel he has any integrity or morality left. My Poor boys .

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