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Understanding How Marital Infidelity Impacts Children

Marital infidelity is relatively widespread. According to a study by the American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy, 15 percent of wives and 25 percent of husbands have had extramarital affairs. A survey by the Institute for Family Studies found that 16 percent of married people reported having cheated on their spouse. Research conducted by the University of Chicago found that 20 percent of men and 13percent of women admitted to having had sex with someone other than their spouse while married.

The reality is that marital infidelity can have a significant impact on the lives of children in a number of different ways:

  • Emotional trauma
  • Trust issues generally
  • Trust issues with parents specifically
  • Behavioral problems
  • Academic struggles
  • Relationship problems
  • Self-esteem issues
  • Health problems
Emotional Trauma

Children can be deeply affected by the emotional trauma of a parent's infidelity. They may experience feelings of betrayal, abandonment, and confusion. Children may feel like they are caught in the middle of their parents' conflict, which can cause a great deal of emotional distress. They may feel responsible for the problems in their parents' marriage, even if they had nothing to do with it.

Trust Issues Generally

Children whose parents have been unfaithful may have difficulty trusting others, including future romantic partners. Infidelity can shatter a child's sense of security and make it difficult for them to believe that they can rely on others to be honest and faithful.

Trust Issues with Parents Specifically

Children may have difficulty trusting their parents after a parent has been unfaithful. This can lead to a breakdown in the parent-child relationship and make it difficult for children to feel close to their parents. They may feel like their parents have let them down or that they can't rely on them anymore.

Behavioral Problems

Children may exhibit behavioral problems such as acting out, becoming withdrawn, or engaging in risk-taking behaviors. Children may struggle to express their emotions in healthy ways and may turn to negative behaviors as a way to cope with the stress and emotional turmoil caused by their parents' infidelity. They may also feel angry or resentful towards their parents, which can manifest in their behavior.

Academic Struggles

Children may struggle academically as a result of the emotional turmoil caused by a parent's infidelity. Children who are dealing with emotional distress may have difficulty focusing on their schoolwork, which can lead to poor academic performance. They may also feel less motivated to excel in school or may feel like their efforts don't matter.

Relationship Problems

Children may have difficulty forming healthy relationships as adults due to the impact of their parents' infidelity. Children who witness infidelity may grow up believing that relationships are unstable and may struggle to form healthy, long-lasting relationships as adults. They may also feel like they aren't worthy of love and commitment.

Self-Esteem Issues

Children may suffer from low self-esteem as a result of their parents' infidelity. Children may blame themselves for their parents' relationship problems, which can lead to feelings of inadequacy and low self-worth. They may feel like they aren't good enough or that they don't deserve love and affection.

Increased Anxiety

Children may experience increased anxiety as a result of the emotional turmoil caused marital infidelity. Children may worry about the stability of their family and their own personal safety, which can lead to increased anxiety and stress. They may also feel like their world has been turned upside down and that they can't trust anything anymore.

Health Problems

Children may experience physical health problems such as headaches, stomachaches, and insomnia as a result of the stress caused by a parent's infidelity. Children who are dealing with emotional distress may experience physical symptoms as well, which can lead to long-term health problems. They may also be more susceptible to illness due to a weakened immune system.

In the final analysis, it is crucial to understand that marital infidelity does not just impact spouses. The impact of marital unfaithfulness truly can have a significantly negative impact on the lives and wellbeing of children. As is set forth throughout this article, this impact can also be long-enduring and not something that is easily addressed and resolved. If you have any questions concerning child custody and/or, call 201 845-7400 for a free consultation,

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