An upcoming wedding has reminded me of the permanent brokeness and damage that infidelity brings into a family.
Why would a wedding – something supposed to bring joy and hope – be a trigger for such seemingly contrary emotions?
Well, to start with, the bride’s brother will not be attending, as he is currently serving time in prison.
Both the bride and her brother were raised in homes broken by a father’s promiscuity – which resulted in them being emotionally damaged, in their own different ways.
The bride only started visiting her paternal relatives recently, just so that they could fulfil their traditional and customary duties, to enable her to marry her beloved.
She had virtually shut off this side of her family ever since she was a child – something that chagrined the paternal relatives, as they were too eager to use that as a reason not to be part of her marriage.
Why would she shutoff her own paternal relatives?
Well, they had supported her father’s promiscuity – to the extent of even welcoming his illicit lover into their homes.
This, understandably, hurt the children – and, of course, the wife.
The children suffer immeasurably, as their father’s adultery causes them pain.
All children need their father – but, as can be expected from such a wrecked home – his attentions were somewhere else.
They never experience the full affection and devotion that every child expects from his or her dad – as he would be ‘busy’ with his adulterous affair.
Daughters and sons require that from their fathers, since not getting that leads to severe emotional instability in the children.
Additionally, which child does not crave to see mom and dad happy together in the family?
Who would not want to see their parents laughing, joyfully talking, and even playing games together as a family?
However, as can be expected from a home wrecked by promiscuity – strife and fights are the order of the day.
In the ‘best’ of days, the parents would simply not be communicating at all – besides the barking of orders, or the occasional rude or demeaning remark.
This, understandably leaves scars on the children that can never be healed.
Of course, there can be one or two days of feigned ‘happiness’, but the children can see through all that – as it would be as clear as day that there are tensions between the parents – and, from previous experiences, they know that at the drop of a hat, that ‘peace’ can shatter, and mom and dad will be back to fighting.
Such memories can never be forgotten by a child.
Furthermore, infidelity in the home leads to financial problems, especially if the offending party is the breadwinner.
Most children from such homes lack the things that their peers have, as a result of family resources being channeled towards the illicit affair.
There is nothing as painful as having to lack, yet knowing that the reason is that your parent is preferring to pamper an illicit lover.
In addition, children love both their parents so much, and can not stand it when one parent causes the other pain.
As such, in any family infested with promiscuity, the children will inevitably grow resentment for the offending party.
This is very painful indeed for the children, as they would never want to ‘hate’ any one of their parents – but the feelings come naturally.
These feelings are both confusing and depressing to a child.
Which child would not naturally feel a sense of resentment towards a parent who no longer has that devotion to them because of a illicit affair, or regularly fights with the other parent because of an illicit lover, or deprives the family financially as a result of an illicit lover?
As most affairs occur in the same community, most children know the ‘weevil’ that would have infested their home, and wrecked it.
The children often see their parent with their ‘small house’ – or have heard the name, and know she or he is – adding fuel to the already blazing inferno of anger and resentment.
Thus, this resentment will extend to the illicit lover – and may unfairly extend to their whole sex, as the child will view them all as home-wreckers – people who are not only immoral and lack confidence to have their own partner, but also as cruel and evil.
Similar to how a raped woman may view all man as rapists.
This resentment may last a lifetime, if not properly addressed.
Added to that resentment, the lack of adequate attention and love, as well as, the fighting in the home, inevitably leads to broken, confused, and angry children – who are emotionally unbalanced probably for the rest of their lives.
Some may even decide never to marry – as they no longer trust the gender of their parent’s illicit lover, or view the whole marriage institution as nothing but deceptive, abusive, and cruel.
Other children may become so emotionally unbalanced and pained that they drown themselves in alcohol and drugs – whilst others actually follow in the same adulterous footsteps of their parents, as that would be their view of marriage.
Such dyfunctionality caused by promiscuity in the home is what led to the bride’s brother, I mentioned earlier, to drop out of school, resort to alcohol and drugs, then eventually get arrested for a petty crime – thereby missing his only sibling’s wedding.
The same emptiness and brokeness is why his sister never visited – and still does not visit – her paternal relatives (except on marriage matters), as she feels betrayed by them.
Instead of being the broken family healers, her paternal relatives actually encouraged the promiscuity – not surprisingly, as most of them are doing the same – dating back generations.
This clearly shows that, unless couples make a firm decision to commit to their marriages in a faithful manner – their promiscuous deeds may be passed on from generation to generation.
Parents need to realise that their adultery is not simply between them and the illicit lover, but that their children are also damaged – one way or another – most possibly for life.
Let a decision to marry be made with that in mind.
° Tendai Ruben Mbofana is a social justice activist, writer, and journalist. He writes in his personal capacity, and welcomes feedback. Please call/WhatsApp: +263782283975. For all those still with the scars of growing up in homes wrecked by infedility, please get in touch, so that we form a WhatsApp support group.