Stay together for kids?

Straight Talk

The Question:

My husband had an affair with a co-worker over a two year period. He still works with her and says they are not together anymore. He is not a “changed” man. Do I stay with him or do I need to move on? We have no relationship now and I am still so angry and don’t want to be around him very much. We are only together for the kids. What kind of a family life is this for kids?

Bridget, USA – city unknown

The Answer
Part 1: What’s best for the kids?

What’s best for the kids? (Part 1)

I can hardly imagine a more difficult circumstance than you describe. The affair is revealed but it brings no relief – no repentance or restoration or way to move on. You have two separate issues to consider: yourself and your children. What about the kids? Should you continue staying together for their sake? I will zero in on only that portion of your problem.

You ask what kind of family life this is for kids. Under the current scenario it is not good – certainly not healthy. I believe it is a worthy ambition to work through difficult marriage problems in order to provide a stable environment for children. But to simply live in the same house together without working on those problems is another matter.

Your children will pick up on the anger and they can certainly observe your sleeping arrangements. Or, even if you are still in the same room, they will realize there is no affection or caring. Your relationship is their model for the way marriage is supposed to be when they become adults and go into marriage themselves. The current situation does not give them a healthy view.

Does that mean I am suggesting you throw in the towel? There is another way but it is a hard road and few choose it in today’s society. Rather than “co-existence”, a couple can choose to rebuild their marriage and make it into something good for them and good for their children.

This road is less traveled because it means very hard work. It means open and honest communication and rebuilding trust. It means repentance on both sides for everything that contributed to the estrangement. It means “in honor giving preference to one another.” (Romans 12:10) It means turning around and going a new direction together, hand in hand.

Sometimes this is not the road chosen because one of the partners is unwilling and this road must be agreed by both partners. In your own situation that may unfortunately be your husband as you have said he is not a changed man. You cannot override his will. However, perhaps he is as miserable as you and would have an openness to seek a fresh start. Otherwise, why is he staying at all?

If the kids are worth staying together for than I say it is worth doing right. Why just settle for existing in the same house?