What if the Motivation is For the Kids

When I talk to people who are thinking about pursuing recovery, many times they ask me if wanting to stay just for the kids is actually enough. Adamantly, I almost always agree with a resounding “YES, it is.” It may be imperfect motivation, but it’s motivation enough. It’s an impetus to get one or both spouses into specialized help, to see if the marriage can be saved. In fact, sometimes it’s the best motivation, as our feelings fail us quite often and on any given day we can feel so much differently about our spouse. It’s just not worth trusting emotion. Especially in the middle of absolute chaos and emotional trauma, to use our feelings for any sort of rudder is to everyone’s detriment. However, with our kids, short of some disappointments here and there, our concern and love for them feels relatively constant, and passionate if you will. Our feelings of love and care for them are less fragile and many times will carry us to a point of what I call “revelatory breakthrough.”

What I mean is, when my affair and double life became exposed, I still had so much anger and resentment birthed out of rejection from Samantha and unmet needs which I thought were justified. I wasn’t at any level healed, and wasn’t at any level madly or passionately in love with her and wasn’t clamoring with some driven mantra of “Let’s go save our marriage, let’s go save our marriage.” It was more like “Let’s save our F A M I L Y….the kids need a dad in the home.” At the time, our kids were 4 years, 5 years, and 6 weeks old, and I was willing to attempt to live in the misery just so I could be with my kids.

I know it seems sarcastic and a bit dysfunctional (not to mention sordid), but it’s highly normal for an unfaithful spouse to feel this way, and even more normal for an unfaithful spouse to want to save his or her personal family arrangement more than the marriage, at least at the initial entry point of recovery.

But take courage, there is hope. More hope than you know. The motivation, although imperfect, was strong enough to get me to do whatever Samantha wanted to do to get help and see if we could save our marriage. The incredible thing was, within about 3 months of good, strong, what we call ‘infidelity – specific’ help, the passionate feelings of love and devotion for Samantha started to return. At first it was like a time release function, yet as the lights began to come on regarding how we both became so dysfunctional and how I became so selfish and self-absorbed, the marriage began to take on a whole new life. As more and more revelation and insight came to me, the passion and true love and motivation to want to be right with Samantha was almost overpowering, and continued to motivate me to do whatever it took to save the marriage.

Now, almost 8 years later, my marriage has been fully restored and is unlike anything I could ever imagine. When we launched out into the deep of recovery, I truly had no idea it could be this good at all.

As it’s been said, “You can never tell the end of the story by the beginning.”

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I think there is an important

I think there is an important distinction to make when saying "better than ever or better than I could imagined". The one that who did the betraying it might be thinking it is the best it ever has been or better than he or she could have ever imagined. For the betrayed it is not what it could have or should have been because it took a horrible act to give them the spouse they always wanted and deserved. That said, it is understood that the dysfunction that occurs in the life of a cheater is wrong, and their thoughts so screwed up that this is likely better than they could have imagined. It is likely the first time they have stopped looking at themselves as the center of the universe. Whether the problem was, whether to hide pain, they had a massive ego, or they were filled with hate, during recovery they discover the pain they have caused. The recovering cheater understands the destruction they have caused and are humbled by it. They typically or hopefully find God, not just the creator of the universe but rather the very personal, intimate, all knowing, and yet, forgiving God. Those conditions would make any life situation better. All that said, God is good and a life with Him, your spouse, and family at the center can't help but be a "better than I ever thought it could be life"

Thank you for this - I wonder

Thank you for this - I wonder if this was/is what my husband is feeling. 

I think my husband's

I think my husband's motivation was and is keeping his family together.  He is very nice and loving to me.   like how you would be to someone you care about.

It's been 14 months since his 3 year affair was exposed.  He was in love with her and was going to leave me for her on that day.  God wouldn't let him.. my husband was surprised at the outcome of that afternoon.  She was surprised as well  as he called her on his way to see me to tell her that he was doing it... it was out in the open and he was going to be with her always... He was leaving me. .. They both didn't know that  that morning was the last time they were  ever going to see each other again.  God had comforted me during those 3 years of suspecting .. He was before me and with me.  He was rewriting the  ending to the story. 

The question I have is from what you said about specific help you had that enlightened you.  What if as the betrayer you try to do it on your own and hope that just time will bring back those feelings you talk about having for your wife now?

I think he cares for me., loves his family, does not have anything to do with her anymore, but somehow is still connected to her.



rebuilinding faith

i really enjoyed this post. i told my husband to NOT come home, after throwing him out when i discovered his affair, for the the kids. i told him to come home for ME and our MARRIAGE. i figured he could be a good divorced dad since i didn't deserve the abuse of an unfaithful and deceitful husband. he's been home for 3 months now and i struggle understanding his motivation. he is a better father than before the affair. more connected and more affectionate to our kids. but i am still so angry and so resentful that i wonder if i deserve more. your post about the kids being the step stone to finding that devoted attentive love between spouses again... well that really touched me. i hope it will happen with us too. thanks again.

I hate this logic

Let me explain. My husband cheated on me. It's been just over a year since it was discovered -a year long affair with the love of his life from high school -- not just some fling. He was so incredibly mean, and hurt me in so many ways with his words let alone actions We sold our house with the intention of moving on. I found a place, and he stayed. He had no job -- and nowhere else to go he said. But he stayed. And he has stayed for ajust over a year. But in no way does it feel like it is ever because he loves me. He does things to fix the house, he has a great job, bringing in lots of extrra money after being unemployed for a year...but as the wife who has been so deply hurt --- I cant see why staying together for the sake of the kids is healthy. It hurts me more and more everysingle day. How can I invest in the liar he was and maybe still is when I may never get anything in return. I don't want a roomate. I want my husband to love me again....and with no counselling, nothing is improving. It hurts so much to be in a house, sharing a honme with a man you are never really sure is going to love you again. Maybe because his heart still belongs to his ex girlfriend -- who will forever be included in our marriage. I'm sharing space with a man, who can't share his heart with me and that wound just keeps getting bigger.

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