TimT
In some sad cases, children learn much more than they should about an affair. Great care should be taken to give them appropriate information at the appropriate time.

If they don't already know, what should you tell them?

You need to be honest with your children, but what you tell them depends on their ages and how much detail they already know.

Ages 13 or more, at home: It's likely that they already know or, at least, have guessed what is happening. If so, don't lie about it. Without getting into details, you should admit what happened, but then assure them that it is over and that you are taking steps to fix your marriage. (Caution: Don't tell them this if it isn't true. Telling lies just to assure and comfort them may buy some temporary peace, but it ultimately do more damage to their trust in you.) If they have questions, answer them. Keep the lines of communication open with your children and don't be afraid to check in with them periodically to provide assurance and to answer any new questions they might have.
 
Ages 8-12: Provide fewer details, but if they have any awareness of the affair, you need to admit that you got too close to someone else for a while, but that it's over now. Take responsibility. Give them plenty of reassurance with your words and your touch. Let them ask questions and provide answers that are general but honest.
 
Under age 8: Your child is likely too young to understand anything about an affair, but they'll certainly have some sense of the conflict in your marriage. Address the conflict. Let them know the two of you are having some problems that you are working on. Assure them that they have no responsibility for the conflict. Children that age tend to view the world as though they are at the center of it and will assume that your problems are their fault.
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Courage
My children are 11, 9 and 4. Although they know nothing about the affair, at times in anger I may drop something that eludes to it in front of them. I so know this is wrong and I need to exercise more self control. I know them knowing would change who they are. Other than these rare outbursts, they are unaware of our problems. We do not fight in front of our children for the most part. Rarely do they see us fighting. We continue to do pretty much everything together as a family. They know they are loved. What I feel most guilty about though is how I haven't been as emotionally available to them in the almost 7 months since discovery. My absolute devastation and coping has taken up most of my energy. I guess I have a shorter wick with them, and I often feel guilty when I lash out at them when they may be squabbling or just doing the annoying things that sometimes kids do. My patience at times is frayed. I also work full time and feel I have little to give. My husband has way more patience and I have found my kids at times turn to him instead of me. It's almost like they are finding more with him, when it used to be me. I am happy to see bonds developing with their dad, I think it's lovely. I had an amazing relationship with my dad and I would love my kids to have the same. What bothers me though, and at times I feel resentful about this, is that the reason for my lack of energy and patience is a result of the affair and sometimes my focus of saving my marriage trumps anything else. All this strain was caused because he had the affair and I am paying the price for it by denying my children my full love and grace. I love them more than anything. My greatest joy is them. I hate what this has done to me and how it's changed me in a negative way.
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Godspeach
It's really difficult when children are involved. Especially, when they have issues like my children had special needs. I think that children sense SOMETHING IS WRONG. What they need to know depends on how old they are, and any pressing issues. Their security is the MOST IMPORTANT ISSUE.
I suggest leaving details out.
If you're working on the marriage, let them know there are some issues, but you and your spouse are WORKING TOGETHER. Don't put them in the middle. Keep life as sane as possible.
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TimeToFly
I think no matter what age your children are it is always going to be difficult for them. Our son was almost 19 years old & it greatly impacted him & his life at that time. He was in college & probably being away was his only saving grace from all the turmoil. However he spent many days & nights worrying about me & how I was coping with everything. I know how lucky I am to have him & he has been a great source of strength & support for me. 

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PainfulGrace
My husband and I just recently separated for the summer. My ten year old son and I have been staying at my mil's (who is amazingly supportive and loving) and he has asked only a few questions so far- like how long we will be at grandma's or why we are there... I told him we will be there for a little while, but we can always go back to our apartment if he is more comfortable there or would prefer to stay there (my husband offered to swap places with us, but right now I don't want to stay in that place, it's got so many bad memories, but I would do it if my son prefers to be in his own home). In response to why we are here- I explained that sometimes when you arent able to agree on things and can't get along with someone that it's best to take some time apart and take a breath and that it can be the best situation for both people who are disagreeing. He said "so it's like a mini vacation?" And went on to say how at times he and his cousin need time apart when they've been together and aren't getting along well... I told him it's similar to that. And although he knows his dad is interviewing for a job in a different city he has only really asked if he will still be at his same school next year. He will be spending the summer with my family in Pa (he's gone up for years and looks forward to it so much!) so I had asked my husband if he thought we should tell him more regarding our separation before he left but he suggested that we wait, so he is not so far away and worrying about what is going on with mom and dad... And then whatever the outcome is at the end of our separation then we will talk more with him at that time. We've kept any arguments or discussions away from him this whole time, but he has seen me getting upset or crying at times so I know he can tell that something is not right, but at the moment he seems satisfied with the answers we have given him. I have let him know that he can always come to either of us with any questions or anything he wants to talk about, so I am hoping that we are handling this in the best way possible for his sake. I am so thankful for the time he will have away this summer, so he is not living in the day to day change that it will be, and not to sound extremely selfish, but I am thankful for myself to have the time to be able to focus on healing- I have had deep regret over barely performing basic necessary functions for him throughout the last five months of knowing about my husbands affair- the separation has allowed me to refocus my attention where it ought to be- caring for my son and healing myself.
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Keepabuzz
This is an old thread, but I was going to start one about this very subject.

My WS (wife), had been depressed for years, refused help, I was my 4 children's anchor, their rock for their whole lives. Then my wife had her affair, and became a different person (although I had no idea she was having an affair). There was literally almost no relationship between my wife and our 2 oldest daughters, and if nothing had changed, it would be the same way with our youngest. Then D-day! My world destroyed, me as a person destroyed. I had carried the load for SO many years, and then she cheated on me. I left that night under the cover of a business trip, since I travel for work regularly. I did my best to keep it together until I got away from the house. I had planned to take some time away, by myself. When I left it was late, so, they went on to bed. But the next night my to oldest daughters (one was at soccer camp, the older at home) texted me no stop until 4 in the morning. They knew "something" happened, but not what, I don't think. If they did, they didn't say it to me. They were not communicating with my wife, so they knew who was at fault. They were worried that I was going to leave, and they would be forced to live with their mother. I just could not be allow myself to not "be there" for my girls. So I went home, my wife slept on the couch in our bedroom as to not raise any more suspicion. I decided to stay and try salvage the marriage for my children.

Well, here I am just over a year out from D-day. We have come a long way. My wife has a better relationship with my daughters than she ever has. They have their Mom back, and it's great. But I feel much like others here that I have lost some of that. I was just trying to survive for a long time. I know I was short, and still am sometimes. If they knew, they would understand. But I don't want to hurt them, so I won't tell. I worry that I have lost some of that sparkle in thier eyes for me. It's another price I have to pay for her betrayal... It's nice to know I'm not the only one that feels this way.
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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mizelld
I have searched for an answer to my question about the children with no answers yet.  My situation is different as my kids are older and out on their own.  My D-Day was Labor Day and my spouse was having an emotional affair with a co-worker for what I later found out to be 2 years.  I want my husband to admit and apologize to our children for treating their mother horrible and to reassure them that things will be better.  For years, I have been made out to be the bad guy as my spouse was verbally insulting to me during his affair.  My kids saw this.  I want him to come clean and let's start fresh.  He doesn't want to do this as I know it would be uncomfortable but I need this for my healing.  Which way would be the correct way?  He has ended the affair.  We are starting to heal but it will be a very long road.  But am I wrong for wanting this?
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surviving
mizelld - no way are you in the wrong.  I hardly believe that it was emotional affair for two years.  Nothing physical?  I can't believe that.  For us, when DDay came, I immediately set up a family conference.  My children, at the time, were 14-33 years old.  We told them that Dad lost his job because of an emotional affair that lasted two months.  It took my husband several months to tell all of his affairs to me (which included strip clubs, massage parlors w/a happy ending, prostitutes, several emotional affairs and a 14-year physical affair).  Yes, my husband is a sex addict and addicted to porn.  I felt my children ought to know the reason their Dad treated me with disrespect all those years (in their viewing) and screamed at us all the time (he doesn't do that any more since his complete confession).  Since my children knew what their Dad did, when he finally confessed all, he apologized to each of the children face-to-face and asked them to forgive him.  Not all the children forgave him, at least not right away.  Some of them still have not forgiven him.  He really needs to ask them again.  In fact, I have not forgiven him.  I can't get over the fact that the mean treatment was because he was having 34+ years of different kinds of affairs.  To clarify, four of our children are out of the house and married, two still live with us.  We have not reconciled (so I give you credit in that department).  My healing has been very slow because of trickle truth and severe triggers.  

Another thing I have learned is the betrayed spouse is in charge.  If you want to know something about his affairs, you have every right to ask and he has to answer honestly.  The "I don't remember" doesn't bear well with me.  That just means they are trying to put it out of their minds so they don't have to confess that part (that is what I have learned in our situation).  If I ask enough times, all of a sudden he remembers the answer.  I am tired of that game.  

The whole time they are having their affairs, they have put us and our children out of their minds.  They couldn't participate in the affair if they didn't do that.  Bill & Pam Farrel talk about that exact thing in their book, "Men are like waffles, women are like spaghetti."  Men can live in compartments.  My husband always said that he put God, me and the children out of his mind or he wouldn't have been able to have his many affairs.

I am so sorry you are here.  You will get help here.  
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mizelld
Thank you for your response. I am pretty confident of the emotional affair only. My husband of 35 years did actively pursue his co-worker with flowers, gifts and helping work on her home. While she was guilty for accepting these things, and after talking with her and her family I am pretty convinced it was only emotional. She showed me every text that was ever sent. She repeatedly told my husband they were only friends and nothing else, but she did continue to accept gifts. Which was wrong and she admits that. She never was alone with him, as at her house (She is single) always had her adult children, sister or mother there as she said as a protection for her, for me and my husband. She needed help with honey do's and took things from my honey. The romantic end was my husband's fantasy but she was actively seeking help and did things that she would not have to get them. I hope your situation gets better. It will be a long road for all of us.
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Fionarob
mizelld

I am not sure your children need to know your h had an emotional affair - it may be too difficult for them to understand depending on their age.  However, if they saw your h treating you with disrespect then maybe that is something you could both talk to them about.  It is wrong that they should learn it is OK to shout or be unkind to your spouse - after all, we all want our children to learn how to be a good spouse by following our example. 
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UrbanExplorer
At least one of my children knows I had an affair (and who with), and it has been a complete negative for him. Granted, mine are all minors. Yes, I had an affair that put our family at risk, but I still think children should be left out of marital issues. Our marriage therapist and child psychologist advised similarly.

I especially do not think it should be shared with them out of vengeance or a sense of justice. It's not their fault, so why put more pain on them?

Just my 2 cents as a former cheater.
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Tapered
How do you leave your children out of the marital or affair issues when the WS has shown the spouse and their children how unkind, distant, and cruel a WS can be verbally, emotionally? My sons are older and know what their father is doing and WS seems to have no desire to change and has placed the OW and her children as a priority.
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Dirazz
Our children do not know what their daddy did. I fought to make sure they didn't find out. I choose to carry the pain alone. I just couldn't do that to them. They need to be enjoying their young teen life.
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UrbanExplorer
ngochangco wrote:
How do you leave your children out of the marital or affair issues when the WS has shown the spouse and their children how unkind, distant, and cruel a WS can be verbally, emotionally? My sons are older and know what their father is doing and WS seems to have no desire to change and has placed the OW and her children as a priority.


If WS is actually with the OW and the kids will meet her, I agree it is different. I would probably still spare them the details that will make the situation worse for them.
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Keepabuzz
My children don't know what my wife did. I don't plan to tell them, with one exception. If any of them have a SO that cheats on them, I will tell them. They need to know, that I know "exactly" how they feel, and will be able to help them through it. Or if they cheat, God help them!
Male BS, D-day July 2015, trying to stay out of the dark.....
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