Tag Archives: Forgiveness

Help! How do I deal with discovering a secret affair child? Part 2

half sibling DNA test

We recently had someone write with a request (slightly changed for confidentiality):

Can you write about how we should deal with discovering a sibling born out of adultery? In this case the Loyal Spouse was not aware there was a child conceived of adultery, as the child was hidden and never revealed. The Disloyal Spouse introduced their parents and siblings to the hidden child, and they helped the Disloyal hide the child until the marriage was over. How do I deal with this discovery?

We’re going to answer this request from two points of view. In our last blogpost we answered “How a Loyal Spouse, married several decades, would deal with discovering their Disloyal Spouse had a child that they didn’t know even existed from an affair in the past.” Today we will address “How a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.”

Before we go any further, let’s start with some definitions and statistics.  A STEP sibling is when parents divorce and remarry other people-the children of the two remarried people are step-children or step-siblings.  Step-siblings are not related to each other by blood but might be considered ‘family’ because they are living in the same home being raised by both the step-parent and their original parents.  A HALF sibling is when one parent has a child with someone other than the other parent, so that the children ARE related to one parent by blood, and the other parent is not the same.  Sometimes half-siblings are considered ‘family’ and are raised in the same households and sometimes half-siblings are raised in different houses.

Step and half siblings are becoming more and more common.  According to Smart Stepfamilies:

  • 40% of married couples with children (i.e., families) in the US are stepcouples (at least one partner had a child from a previous relationship before marriage; this includes full and part-time residential stepfamilies and those with children under and/or over the age of 18). The percentage of all married couple households is 35% (Karney, Garvan, & Thomas, 2003)
  • 42% of adults have a steprelationship–either a stepparent, a step or half sibling, or a stepchild. This translates to 95.5 million adults. (When you add the more than 5 million stepchildren in the US, the total is over 100 million Americans have a steprelationship.)
  • 40% of children are born out of wedlock; nearly 60% of these couples already have at least one child from a previous relationship. In other words, the majority of children being born out of wedlock are entering functional (nonmarital) stepfamilies (Carlson & Furstenberg, 2006).

To  put it simply, this means that if you’ve recently discovered that one of your parents had an affair and you have a half-brother or half-sister, you aren’t alone!  We are not suggesting it isn’t shocking to discover a hidden sibling, but even though it feels like you are the only one who has had this happen, the statistics above assure us that there are other people who have experienced this same thing and have gotten through it.  Hey–even OPRAH found out she had a hidden half-sister!

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UJuk_eIRmM]

To help you cope with discovering a new half-brother or half-sister, here are a few applicable Bible verses and a short list of 10 practical issues you’ll have to address when you discover a new half-sibling.

BIBLE VERSES:

Siblings are mentioned often throughout the Old and New Testaments; unfortunately, not all siblings express love for one another!  Cain and Abel, Jacob and Esau, and Joseph and his brothers spring to mind–and yet the story of Joseph is a good place to start.  Joseph’s brothers sold him into slavery in Egypt (Genesis 37:12–28), but during his time as a slave in Egypt and when he saw his brothers again years later, Joseph did not act toward them in hate or shut them out of his life.  He reacted to them in love.

Thus I think the next applicable verse here is Luke 6:27-36:

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.

I believe our natural, sinful reaction would be to shut them out of the family or be resentful of them because they were the product of the actions that rocked the family’s world! Yet Jesus is clear here–we are to love OUR ENEMIES! So even though we don’t really know the half-sibling well enough to know if they are an enemy, what we do know is that we are to do good to them.

Here are a few more verses about how we are to treat people–half-siblings included!

a) We should not only respond gracefully when others react sinfully toward us, but also go out of the way to serve them – John 13:12–14

b) We are instructed to “live at peace with everyone” playing the role of peacemaker when disagreements arise  –  Romans 12:18

c) We are to show kindness to each other, compassion, and forgiveness – Ephesians 4:32

d) We are to love others in a way that reflects the love of Christ – I John 4: 7-8

10 PRACTICAL ISSUES YOU’LL HAVE TO ADDRESS:

1. Learn how to decid confusion over (a) “who is who” in the nuclear and extended families, (b) who decides who belongs.  If you are a young adult, it may be time for YOU to decide for yourself who is in your family and who is not…and to take personal responsibility for what you choose.

2. Learn to accept that being a “half” does not mean they are somehow less loved, wanted, worthy, smart, normal, or valuable than “full” siblings, despite what some people may say.

3. Decide what to call your new half-sibling – e.g. “my brother,” “my half-brother,” “Jeremy,” “My Mom’s other son,” or something else, and why names are important to some family members and not to others (“I don’t care what you call me.”)

4. Learn that it’s OK if you don’t know or care about the half-sibling’s “other Mom” or “other Dad,” and don’t “have to” acknowledge them at holidays or birthdays, or expect acknowledgement from them.

5. Learn how to react when siblings and relatives get into “fights” (values and loyalty conflicts, and relationship triangles, etc.) about the half-sibling.  Not everyone is going to make the choices that you do, and not everyone will feel like you do.

6. Learn how keep your own boundaries clear and to assert your needs if a your parent treats you differently than they treat the half-sibling or if their “other parent” does or does not discipline them the way that you’ve been taught, etc.

7. Learn to feel compassion for your half-sibling’s many family-adjustments–which you don’t have to understand.  Just remember you aren’t the only one who’s having to adjust. Clarify what will change and what will not.

8. Learn why some (genetic) relatives may treat you”better” than your half-siblings (or vice versa), and how not to feel guilty about that. It’s their choice and they are adults! They will live with the benefits and the consequences of how they choose to live.

9. Learn why some or all of your other family members disagree on these issues, but ultimately remember that as a young adult, you are personally responsible for what you choose.  It’s okay to disagree.

10. Learn that it’s OK to say how this makes you feel (“I wish you guys would stop fighting all the time!”), and that not everyone is going to understand how you feel.  Share YOUR feelings and don’t expect everyone to think or feel “just like you.”

Help! How do I deal with discovering a secret affair child? Part 1

affair child

We recently had someone write with a request (slightly changed for confidentiality):

Can you write about how we should deal with discovering a sibling born out of adultery? In this case the Loyal Spouse was not aware there was a child conceived of adultery, as the child was hidden and never revealed. The Disloyal Spouse introduced their parents and siblings to the hidden child, and they helped the Disloyal hide the child until the marriage was over. How do I deal with this discovery?

We’re going to answer this request from two points of view.  First–today–we’ll answer “How a Loyal Spouse, married several decades, would deal with discovering their Disloyal Spouse had a child that they didn’t know even existed from an affair in the past.” Tomorrow we’ll address “How a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.”

In the first instance, the Loyal Spouse and Disloyal Spouse were married for many years. Apparently at some point in the past, the Disloyal Spouse had an affair and created a child with the Affair Partner. The Loyal and Disloyal did not split up or divorce, and they continued with their marriage for many more years,  and they had a family together … children.  Whether the reconciliation was successful or a rug-sweep we don’t know; whether issues were addressed or avoided we don’t know.  But we do know that the Loyal Spouse did not divorce the Disloyal for many years, and we do know that the Loyal Spouse didn’t know there was an affair baby.  That child was not part of the Loyal Spouse’s life or part of their family unit.

Therefore, to the Loyal Spouse, discovering that there was a hidden affair child would be equivalent to discovering adultery that is going on right now.  The trauma of discovering infidelity is in the present because the discovery is in the present–even though the actual unfaithful activity was many years in the past.  From the Loyal Spouse’s point of view, this will be “as if it is happening now” because the shock is occurring now. This is what it feels like: “Finding Out: What It Feels Like to Hear that Your Spouse is Having an Affair

How would the Loyal Spouse deal with this?  Well our whole site is full of ways to cope with discovering your spouse had an affair!  You could start with this series: “How to Rebuild After an Affair: Step 1 Forgiveness” (there are links to the other steps) and this series is all about the stages that occur as you deal with discovering adultery (again there are links to the other stages).  The Loyal Spouse is going to have to work through this traumatic experience.

But overall I think we would recommend that the Loyal Spouse ask themselves “What does the Bible say about dealing with trials?” and “What does the Bible say about dealing with difficult people?”  How did Jesus respond to people who challenged Him and tried to trap Him?  How did He respond to those who were rude or sinful? Was He harsh or dismissive or abrasive?  Nope–He showed patience, He rebuked when it was necessary, and sometimes He remained silent.  Copy Jesus when dealing with both the Disloyal and the Affair Partner.

But I tell you who hear me: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone strikes you on one cheek, turn to him the other also. If someone takes your cloak, do not stop him from taking your tunic. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you

~Luke 6:27–31

It’s pretty clear in this verse how Jesus wants us to act, even toward those who are our enemy. That’s not to say that we are commanded to be a doormat and allow our enemies to keep hurting us, but we are told to be so profoundly changed by the Holy Spirit with us that we do the exact opposite of what comes naturally.  We are supposed to be so different that we are transformed.

Tomorrow, Part Two of this little series.  We’ll talk about how a young adult would deal with discovering their parent had other children by other people.

Why Doesn’t My Loyal Spouse Just “Move On” and “Get Over It”?

Broken Plate

When a Disloyal Spouse ends the affair and decides to reconcile, they often can not understand why their Loyal Spouse keeps bringing it up, asking question, and not moving on.  Why not just “get over it” and let the marriage be the way it was?

This image helps explain why.  The Disloyal Spouse knew what was going on the whole time; they saw the bigger picture.  But the bigger picture was hidden from the Loyal Spouse, (the Disloyal lied about who they were with, what they were doing, where they were, when they’d be at certain locations, etc.) — or the Loyal Spouse just didn’t want to admit the truth to them self and frankly denied what was obvious!  Either way this is NEW INFO to them.

The Disloyal Spouse did the damage: they “threw the plate on the ground.”  The marriage is the plate.  Now, here at Affaircare, we recognize that some marriages/plates had chips and even some serious cracks–but the plate was not smashed.  After the affair, the marriage/plate is broken into a zillion pieces.  And even though Loyal Spouses do want to hear the regret for breaking the plate (how sorry you are, how you’ll never do it again, that you regret what you did and what you said)–that IN NO WAY repairs the plate! The plate is still completely shattered!

Taking the time to glue the pieces back together is what repairs the plate, and even then it’s not “like it was.”  It may be weaker.  It may have scars. Maybe you can’t use the plate in the microwave because it’s not as tough as it used to be…  But yelling because the Loyal Spouse is not “getting over” the plate being shattered, or telling the Loyal Spouse to just “move on” because the plate is fine, still in no way repairs the plate!

In order to repair the plate (the marriage), the person who broke it (the Disloyal Spouse) has to DO SOMETHING in addition to saying they regret breaking it.  They have to do some actions, and the #1 action is to stop throwing the plate on the ground (end the affair)!

If you have questions, leave them in the comments and we’d be happy to explain more