Sunday, March 28, 2010

The Unfaithful Spouse

Who can escape all the headlines about America’s beloved princess and her tattoo covered mate. Yes, I’m talking about Sandra Bullock and her husband Jesse James. I resisted talking about Tiger and his messiness, and I was doing well with avoiding blogging about the current wave of celebrity infidelities. But then I decided to use the Hollywood headlines to guide a discussion:)

Okay…so here’s the background…Sandy won an Academy Award for her role in the movie “The Blind Side.” A couple days later…there were pictures in the media of a Nazi band wearing (sigh), tattooed brunette named Michelle “Bombshell” McGee who reportedly had been having an affair with Jesse while Sandra was off filming movies. In a storyline reminiscent of the Tiger Woods saga, in the weeks that followed there were additional allegations of infidelities with other women as well. Now that we’re all caught up…let’s talk about the only part of the story that interests me…the Jesse’s children.


What must they be thinking and feeling when they hear of their father’s alleged escapades on E News! and in tabloid magazines?  According to research, whatever their age, children whose parents have been unfaithful often react with intense feelings of anger, anxiety, guilt, shame, sadness, and confusion. They might act out, regress, or withdraw. They may feel pressured to win back the love of the cheating parent or to become the caretaker of the betrayed parent.

According to various statistics, roughly 65% of all marriages fail due to infidelity. WOW! This surely means that there are a large number of children who are faced with these emotions on a regular basis. Renowned family therapist, Ana Nogales, has researched this issue extensively. In her book, Parents who Cheat: How Children and Adults Are Affected When Their Parents Are Unfaithful, she shared the long lasting ramifications of parental infidelity:

            • Eighty percent report that their attitude toward love and
               relationships was affected by their  
               parent’s infidelity.

            • About the same percentage say they now feel that people regularly
              lie.

            • More than half of respondents are afraid of being betrayed by a
              partner, and more than two-
              thirds say they have a hard time trusting others.

So whether you are a celebrity like Tiger Woods, Jesse James, Jon Gosselin, Kobe Bryant, LeAnn Rimes, Meg Ryan, Eliot Spitzer, Bill Clinton or an everyday person like you and me…infidelity affects the entire family unit. Both parents should try to cooperate with each other and act in their child’s best interest. This can be really hard because of the resentment and betrayal that the spouse that was cheated on feels. Here are some tips:

• Listen to children’s concerns, and try to minimize disruption in their lives.

• DO NOT ask children to take sides, carry messages, or become your confidant.

• If affair leads to divorce…Give children permission to love and enjoy the relationship with your
  former spouse and his or her family. Try to find positive things to say about them (really...really 
  try).

So that's the advice.  But I want to hear from you about whether or not you would be able to forgive an act of infidelity.  Is monogamy an ideal that is unattainable?  Sound off my fellow Pundits:)

Happy Parenting,
An honest and realistic blog about what matters most...children and families!!!!

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