A marriage can survive child born from cheating

Cheating is one of the most painful landmines that a couple can stumble upon.

A child being the result of cheating can exacerbate the betrayal.

How do you cope with the reality of your partner having a child out of wedlock?

While most people think that they would simply pack their bags and bid farewell to the relationship, the truth is that it is easier said than done.

This is the exact situation that *Margaret found herself in last year, after five years of marriage.

"There was a period when my husband and I went through a separation, which lasted for about six months. No marriage is perfect, and we had decided to take a much-needed break at the time. During that period, we kept in constant communication, especially because of our twin two-year-old boys.

"Eventually when we got back together, we reconnected like never before, and things were really looking up. We were on the same page and were going to make things work. I was really happy."

But Margaret's world came crashing down one night when her husband sat her down to discuss a phone call he had just received.

"He told me that he had been unfaithful during our time of separation. Not only that, but that the girl he had slept with had called to say she is pregnant, and he is the father.

"My knees felt weak. I broke down in tears. Not only did I have to digest the fact that he had slept with someone else, but she was now carrying his baby! He told me how the girl had meant nothing to him, but for me it just made the situation worse."

Margaret says the next few months were hazy for her.

"I decided to swallow the bitter pill and not allow this to tear us apart. But it was pure hell.

"I remember the time he left to see the baby after she was born. I felt sick to my stomach. It just felt like a happy family moment that I was excluded from. I felt like I was the one with the ring, and no other woman had a right to experience those moments with him. Then came the rituals he had to perform for the baby.

"All the while, I felt like an outsider looking in. It felt like a family portrait, and I was not welcome to be a part of it.

"And the fact that this woman now has a lifelong bond with my husband is a daily struggle. It hurts me so badly, and although I want my marriage to work, I don't know if I can bring myself to fully accept this child."

Psychologist Mampho Mofokeng says that coming to terms with a child conceived out of cheating is understandably very difficult and painful to accept.

"Cheating in itself is terrible for any relationship, but a child conceived out of it can be like a picture taken of the cheating, and hung on the wall.

"This child is a living, breathing reminder of the betrayal your spouse put you through. It is definitely a very painful reminder of the partner's infidelity.

"Having said that, it is a bit of a catch-22 situation because we are dealing with an innocent soul who in no way solicited any of the cheating and betrayal, and did not have a choice of how they were brought into this life.

"So, directing all of one's anger and resentment towards the child is, if you really look at it, totally unfair," she says.

Mofokeng says that the most important thing to do immediately after learning of the situation is to make a critical decision.

"When you learn of your partner's indiscretion and that a child was the direct consequence of it, you need to decide if your marriage or relationship is going to survive this, meaning that you will need to forgive them, as well as come to terms with the situation, or if you simply cannot handle it and want out.

"There is nothing wrong with walking away from a cheating spouse. You have every right to. But if you do decide to stay, you will need every inch of your willpower to salvage your relationship, and commit fully to cleaning up the mess, even if it takes you a lifetime."

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