By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
4/25/2013 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
Adultery is a serious offense. The Bible speaks about the sacred bond of marriage and the importance of faithfulness to your spouse. However, in modern times we have lost much of this morality to corrosive influences and the apparently widespread acceptance that infidelity is both common and almost normal. However, new studies have shown that adultery is exceptionally and surprisingly devastating, especially to children.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Adultery affects children, even adult children, to a degree hitherto unimagined. According to a series of articles and a book by Kate Figes, adultery is devastating to children and can have lasting, lifelong effects.
Breaking down the impact by age, Figes revealed the conclusions of years of research. No matter the age of your children, from infancy to adults, adultery, and the commonly resulting divorce, bring lasting harm to children.
In many cases, the parents will not notice or recognize the harm, but it is there.
Among the surprising conclusions Figes draws is that infant children as well as adult children suffer harm.
Infidelity in a relationship isn't what many assume it to be. In many cases, people assume that the cheating spouse is seeking sexual gratification without regard to the impact it will have on others. The truth, as Figes reveals, is far from that.
While sex is often a feature of new relationships, (although it shouldn't be!) the real motivation for the cheating spouse is to escape a problem. Cheaters complain about feeling unloved and unwanted, or disrespected. The monotony and security of married life can become a grind and many embark on affairs for the thrill.
Infidelity is common, especially following the birth of a child, unemployment, or other times of emotional stress. Most affairs are not serious attempts to break up a marriage or to form a new one. Rather, they are attempts to escape unhappiness.
Surprisingly, an affair rarely means a marriage is fatally flawed. Figes discovered that affairs often occur when both spouses are contributing to the marital problems, saying that it's often a 50/50 scenario. This does not fit conventional wisdom, but it is the conclusion of her work.
The solution then, is for both individuals to recognize and acknowledge their shortcomings and to work diligently on their problems. When both husband and wife works to improve themselves, the marriage often improves as well.
Many marriages can be saved, except society expects the offended partner to kick the other out which only exacerbates the problem and condemns what could otherwise be a salvageable marriage. However, given the cost of infidelity for children, spouses contemplating a split would do well to reconsider this knee-jerk reaction.
How does infidelity impact children? The conclusion is that it's hard for children, and even worse if the parents split. Even if the parents remain together, infidelity does harm.
Parents with infants and toddlers might assume that their children will be too young to remember, which is generally correct. However, a parent struggling with the emotional stress of an affair and the grief that comes with the discovery means the parents have much less energy to spend on their children. This results in neglect, which causes more tears. Babies require an incredible amount of love and attention and an affair robs them of this.
Lacking the devoted affection they need, children become needy and cry more. As they develop and grow, they are more insecure and this can affect them for life. Children whose parents split when they were babies also have an increased incidence of marital problems of their own.
Young children also suffer unimaginably from their parent's affairs. According to Figes, children between the ages of five to ten normally exhibit emotional disturbances, particularly in school. Performance drops and they fall behind their classmates. Their behavior may regress and they could resume thumb sucking or bed-wetting. This can impact them for the rest of their lives as they later struggle to regain ground lost in some of their most formative years.
Older kids, particularly teenagers can take affairs quite badly. Teens tend to be idealistic about relationships and a straying parent can be explosively condemned. Teens are also very adept at discovering signs of infidelity because of their savvy with modern technology. Secret text messages and Facebook dalliances can be discovered by teens who then feel they possess dangerous information and have little idea what to do with it. Eventually, it tends to come out.
This impacts teens as they forge their own identities. Teens who witness parental infidelity tend to become less trusting and very skeptical. They become critical of others, especially their parents. It doesn't help when parents then use their children as sounding boards for their individual struggles. This lays a burden at the feet of a child, which they can never carry.
Teens often react to this by turning to promiscuity, drugs, and alcohol. They may develop eating disorders and trouble in school is common. As an added danger, if it's the mother who has the affair, children end up traumatized because their mother is equated with Jezebel by others.
Older children, even those who have left home have problems too. Although they may be away at college, they can be devastated too. It can torpedo their education. In addition to the exams, peer pressure, and intensity of college life, they must now navigate a crisis not of their choosing. Like teenagers, most older kids are woefully equipped to deal with such a crisis.
Research suggests that teens and older kids who witness infidelity in their parents become more likely to end relationships that could be saved, making them more prone to divorce. Some kids never marry following such trauma.
Many people who have affairs believe they cannot get caught. However, affairs are usually detected. The cheating spouse cannot help but change in some way. Perhaps they become uncharacteristically happier, or they become increasingly secretive. In some cases, cheating spouses have even allowed themselves to be caught as a means of hurting their partner.
In their effort to escape the drudgery of marriage, however, they destroy lives, including those of their children.
Take advice from the scriptures. Adultery isn't worth it.
Read more from Figes here.
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