Co-parenting After An Affair: If They Can, Then You Can!

Co-parenting after a divorce can be very hard, but with effort, it can still be rewarding for both of you.


It’s been said that, while fame certainly has it’s benefits, living life in the public eye can be far more stressful than living a life where your privacy isn’t compromised every day in a host of different areas. Issues like extramarital affairs, divorces and co-parenting are stressful enough already, without everyone feeling the need to weigh in on what could have been done differently.


No one can deny it – an affair is a devastating thing. It destroys trust, leaves people feeling violated and vulnerable, and often brings out the very worst in us. So it’s no wonder that not many marriages survive it. Additionally, few things are harder in the wake of that violation, than putting aside what you are feeling for the benefit of your children. Believe it or not, however, it is possible.


There are a handful of celebrities whose divorces were attended by a storm of media criticism and controversy, who have managed to put their pain aside and focus on what is best for their children. In doing so, they’ve provided inspiration for others who are struggling with the pain of a failed marriage, and trying to adjust to parenting children in a different setting.


If people like Courteney Cox and David Arquette, or Reese Witherspoon and Ryan Phillippe can put aside their differences in the wake of an affair to focus on the well-being of their children, then so can others. Keeping your attention on what’s best for your kids, instead of on the anger and hurt feelings is very hard, but it’s the healthiest way to move forward.

In interviews following their divorce, Arnold Schwarzenegger said of Maria Shriver that she was a “terrific mother” and that they “work together…to make sure that the kids grow up to be really good human beings“. Several years after their divorce, Elin Nordegren says that she and Tiger Woods have “a really good relationship”.


But how is this possible? Well, there are a few very important things to realize when you and your ex embark on the process of healing towards a relationship focused on co-parenting healthy, happy kids.


Rome Wasn’t Built In A Day

First and foremost, one must realize that it takes time and effort to repair a relationship – you cannot expect to bounce back overnight. Give yourself, and your ex, the time and the space needed to make peace with the past and move on.


Forgiveness Is Critical

You have to forgive your spouse for what they did. Don’t misunderstand, forgiveness is not the same thing as saying that it doesn’t matter, or that it wasn’t wrong. It simply means that you are freeing yourself from the poison of bearing a grudge, and have chosen to move on, focusing your energy on positive and uplifting things.


Work To Rebuild Trust

If you are the partner that broke the trust by being unfaithful, then if this is to work, you must take it upon yourself to rebuild the trust. In as many ways as possible, try to demonstrate that you are reliable and trustworthy. Keep promises – be where you say you’re going to be, when you say you’re going to be there. This also helps your children to learn to trust you and rely on you in the future.


What Happens In The Past, Stays In The Past

So somebody screwed up. You know it. They know it. But if you’re going to co-parent your children without conflict and anger setting the tone for all of your interactions, then you need to set that aside. Again, this is not the same thing as shrugging it off, or suggesting that it’s an acceptable way to act. This simply means that you are choosing not to let this one thing define how you act towards your ex, while in front of your children.


Learning to put the past behind you takes maturity and dedication. Yes, it will be hard, and yes, it will take time. But in the end it will be worth it for your children, and for you. However, if the affair was a recent event, and the divorce hasn’t happened yet, you still have a long way to go. Call us at 517 866 1000 for help with ending your marriage and determining custody and support for the future.