Affairs can sometimes be "explained away" to a child. Reasons of friendship, having grown apart, or a new chance at love may seem reasonable to a child, although hurtful.
As adults, we are familiar with the concept of affairs and we often observe it from afar in the lives of others, but when the many levels of deception, betrayal and destruction are experienced first or second-hand, there is a deeper clarity and pain.
Since the discovery of my father's affair, and subsequent choices of his ended family as we all knew it, I have heard many people refer to affairs in common terms.
They may call it a "mistake" or "just an affair". Some say things like "all sin is the same in God's eyes" or they minimize the personal responsibility by claiming that sometimes people can't "help it". On the outside, looking in, these comments seem to make sense and I think they help us cope with something that is unknown to us. But when you are on the inside, you realize the depths, intensity, and breadth that the lies and selfcenteredness envelope.
One fellow blogger wrote something like " a mistake? NO! 1000 mistakes"....and I would add, 1000 calculated, deliberate decisions. An emotional spark may have started, but those sparks were fanned and tended to until the fire grew. Each choice became a choice for self above a spouse, children, grandchildren, friends, family name and legacy.
One of our parents may have fanned a flame, stoked a fire....the other one may have ignored signs of a dull glow or the smell of smoke....and yet another person ( the girlfriend or boyfriend...note "girl" and "boy" ...connotes some immaturity in my view) kept putting logs on the fire of the forbidden. Some ACODs can not reconcile any or all of these...they can not forgive the offending parent, the betrayed parent or the "friend". The adult child can not, or will not, or is not able to have a relationship with one or all of the people involved in the aftermath of a burnt out home.
Knowing my parents mutual love had died, and they would not be a cohesive unit any longer destroyed the foundations and the basic structure of my world, even as an adult.
But understanding that another person entered our life without all of our knowledge, permission or blessing and that they fanned the fires of destruction and then stole things that did not belong to them out of the rubble, just rubbed ashes and hot coal into the wounds.
Fire can be debilitating or life-giving. It can be injury-inducing, too hot and damaging or it can be warmth, light and security. Fire-proofing your marriage today is a wise step.
The fires of true intimacy, commitment and togetherness can be encouraged and give energy to those around us, not pain.
The links below give some very practical tips about being accountable and setting boundaries to make your marriage affair-proof!! This is important , because as most ACODs will tell you, an affair is not "just an affair" or " a mistake". It is a destructive fire, out of control.