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When there is a child from an affair
by Peggy Vaughan

This situation happens more often than anyone likes to admit. The child, of course, is an innocent party in this whole experience; however, since their presence serves as an ongoing reminder of the affair, this can understandably making it more difficult to recover. Actually, trying to expand the considerations to include thinking of what's "best for the child" can sometimes lift people out of a very narrow focus only on their own personal pain. Also, a joint effort by the husband and wife in trying to deal with this enormous challenge can serve to draw them together.

This is a very complicated situation (regardless of whether it's the husband or the wife who has a child from an affair). However, when it's the wife, there is an inevitable acceptance of the child into the family if the couple stay married (which, again, happens more often than people think). And concern for the well-being of the child often becomes the "glue" that holds the couple together in their effort to recover and rebuild.

If it's the husband who has a child from an affair, there are many more possible options of what may happen. I've heard from people who have dealt with this issue in a number of different ways. For most, the attitude was to try to deal with the third party and child similar to the way they would deal with an ex and a child from a former marriage. For some, they were unable to accommodate this situation and tried to "force" a choice. For some wives, the child was the "last straw" (so to speak) and they were unable to find a way to resolve the issues surrounding the child, so decided to end the marriage. But on the other end of the spectrum, one husband and wife even took the child from the affair to raise (after the other woman didn't want the child once she didn't get the husband).

If ever there were a situation for which there is no ideal solution, this is it. It may help to realize that with really complex situations like this there are no clear/easy answers—and nothing about this whole ordeal is black and white or written in stone. Since any "solution" is difficult because it's so complicated, each person who faces this dilemma needs to make their own decision based on all the factors involved in their particular situation. And since they are the ones who must live with the consequences of the decision, no one else can tell them what to do.

There will be better times and worse times; but at any given moment, we do well to simply do the best we can at that time, knowing that things may be better/easier at some point in the future. The bottom line is to realize that there is no simple advice as to how to handle it; it's an ongoing process of continuing to think as clearly as possible about all the complicated factors.

And there's certainly no simple advice as to how to recover; however, the most critical element in the recovery may be the degree to which the husband and wife can make a joint effort to face this challenge together and shift their focus to the future rather than dwelling on the past. This doesn't mean ignoring or denying the reality of what has happened. It just means following the guidelines that are generally helpful in recovery.

Finally, I hope you'll read one woman's experience in dealing with a child from her husband's affair. See: An Extraordinary Story of Love and Grace

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