Editor’s note: Spouses are left with mistrust, anger, and betrayal after an affair. But what about children? Their hurt gets mixed with shock and confusion, unaware of the relational dynamics that led up to the infidelity. The news can have long-term emotional and spiritual effects, as kids wonder how a parent they loved could do something so hurtful.

Today's contributor—a writer and divinity school student—reflects on her family’s story. Out of respect for her father, who has not shared this publicly, she is writing anonymously. – Kate

I was 17, a senior in high school, working in my father’s store. Rumors had been floating for a few months that my dad was having an affair with a sales representative who visited the store periodically.

I did not believe it. My parents were adorably in love: regularly going on dates and trips, getting a bit too affectionate in front of their kids, laughing at each other’s jokes like they were in high school. And my dad was one of my most important spiritual role models: leading the family in devotions, spending hours talking theology with me, inspiring me to go to divinity school.

Then, one day he called me into his office. There was no mention of that woman, but he brought up problems with my mom and the possibility of divorce. I was in shock. I thought, Who are you, and what did you do with my real father? I could not reconcile this person with the dad I knew.

Six years later, my dad was pursuing his third affair. Each lasted a few months. I could tell when he was cheating by how little he was around and how much his personality changed. The timing was always terrible. Each major event in my life—graduating high school, going to college, and ...

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