Skip to Content

Can a Marriage Survive a Love Child? (Here’s What to Do)

Anytime a spouse cheats, there’s a chance it will destroy the marriage. But sometimes that affair produces a child, leading both spouses to wonder can a marriage survive a love child?

A marriage can survive a love child, and 3% of all children are raised by men who aren’t their fathers but believe they are. And while as many as 75% of couples stay together after an affair, that does drop significantly if the affair produces a child. 

But there’s a lot more to know about an extramarital affair and illegitimate children.

So in this article, we’re taking an in-depth look at what happens when an unfaithful spouse produces a child. We’ll explore what the statistics tell us about the marriage’s chances of survival.

But we’ll also see what things can improve or worsen that chance of survival. Most often this happens when a married man is the cheating spouse. But wives also can find themselves in a similar situation too.

Ultimately, we’re answering the question of can a marriage survive a love child?

When infidelity produces a child

Nothing hurts more than an affair.

Well, nothing, except perhaps when that affair leads to a child being born. An affair always destroys trust. And while the marriage can definitely be saved, a child is a constant reminder of the affair. And then if you stay together, there’s most likely going to be child support payments for the next 18 years too.

Every time we see or hear of the love child, it’s like hearing about the affair for the 1st time all over again!

Getting over an affair takes time. But you CAN get past this difficult time and save your marriage. However, when there is a love child, that does require a huge amount of maturity, patience, and humility from the spouse of the cheater. When a child comes from the affair, expect the marriage recovery to take twice as long as recovering from an affair alone.

Sadly, 41% of spouses have an affair.

Since a husband cheats almost twice as often as women, my article will focus mostly on a man cheating and getting another woman pregnant.

But make no mistake. Extramarital sex happens on both sides.

A woman getting pregnant by a man other than her husband can also be incredibly devastating to the marriage. In fact, the best-selling book on Amazon called Marriage Undercover details the marriage of Bob and Audrey Meisner.

Just click that link to see the book on Amazon.

In this case, Audrey had the affair and got pregnant. They not only stayed together, but Bob adopted the child of the affair and raised it as his own.

Should I be OK with my husband wanting to be involved with his illegitimate child?

Yes, is the short answer here. It’s the right thing to do.

Ultimately, we’re talking about an innocent child here.  The child isn’t responsible for your husband’s reckless behavior. But the child NEEDS a father in their life.

You should only move forward trying to save your marriage if you are prepared to forgive your husband (eventually) and learn to be at peace with him helping to raise the biological mother’s child.

No one says you have to get there emotionally overnight. It will be hard work. But in order to save the marriage, you do need to get there eventually.

Now, no one would fault you for not wanting to stay with a man who fathered a child with someone else. BUT, if you do choose to stay with him, you should only do so being 100% accepting that he will (and should) be involved in the child’s life.

By definition, that also means you’ll likely have some level of interaction with the other woman.

If you can’t see yourself doing that, you should ask yourself if you really want to stay with your husband. After all, what kind of a man would he be if he abandoned his child? That’s the kind of man you should question being with, not the kind of man who wants to be involved in his child’s life.

A child raised without a father faces a lot of challenges in life, and life is challenging enough.

If you don’t get that, check out a recent article where I spell out all of the benefits of father involvement in a child’s life.

In short, a father’s role, as with the mother’s role, is crucial for a child’s development. And again, the child is INNOCENT in this situation. You’re understandably hurt. But don’t hurt the child in the process of dealing with your pain.

If your spouse is lying about an illegitimate child

Having an affair is bad.

I know. I’ve been cheated on and been a cheater. But I can tell you from personal experience that being 100% transparent and humble is the only way to keep your marriage going in the aftermath of an affair.

Now, to be fair, I’ve never fathered a child outside of my marriage or been with someone who had a child from another man. So that is new territory for me.

But I can still say with absolute certainty, that for the cheater, 100% accountability is a must.

Now, I get wanting to lie about a child fathered with a mistress. I really do. If that happened to me, I would feel ashamed and embarrassed. I would also be afraid of my wife’s reaction. When I admitted my affair to my wife, it was the hardest decision of my life. But being honest was critical.

In short, you don’t fix a huge problem (a child from an affair) with another problem (lying about it). If you know your husband had a child with another woman but he isn’t being honest about it, you have a tough decision to make.

Here’s what I would do in that situation:

  1. I would let them know that I know
  2. If I wanted to save the marriage, I would make that clear
  3. Then I would lay out specific conditions I would need to be met to move forward
    • 100% honesty moving forward
    • The father must be involved in the child’s life
    • I would want to meet the other woman (and lay out some clear ground rules with her)
    • The father cannot have any communication with the other woman unless it pertains specifically to the child.

Then, just as with any affair, the husband would need to earn back his wife’s trust. That likely means marriage counseling. But it also takes time and losing some freedoms and flexibility during the healing process.

I have a recent article that breaks down the best ways to decide whether to stay with a cheater. In it, I consulted with 6 marriage experts to get some unique and expert opinions.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

How do I get over my spouse’s infidelity when I have to see the child?

Any time someone cheats, it is devastating.

I once heard that for every month an affair lasted, it can take up to a year for that to heal. In my case, my affair was only 2 months long, back in 2013. But that 2-month affair still took the better part of 2 years to heal.

But when you have to regularly see a child from an affair, that’s like ripping the bandaid off every single time. It’s almost like starting over on the healing with every visit.

And that’s on top of the guilt most of us would feel for feeling that way towards an innocent child.

But the reality is that anytime one of us has sex with someone of the opposite sex, a child is possible. It’s just that most people cheating get lucky and don’t end up having a child.

The key to restoring a marriage after an affair, with or without a love child, is rebuilding trust.

Now that sounds overly simplistic and obvious. But if you have complete love and trust in your husband, seeing the child will eventually not hurt. Or at least not as much. You may even grow to love the child if they are in your house often enough.

There are several steps your husband can take to rebuild trust. But while he is ultimately in the driver’s seat of that, you can lay out clear expectations, such as:

  • No contact with the other woman that you aren’t aware of
  • That contact should only pertain to the needs of the child
  • They should give you complete access to their phone, email, and social media accounts
  • He should be willing to go to marriage counseling

In a recent article, I go a lot deeper into what you should look for and expect from your husband when he’s trying to win your trust back after an affair. I even cover the 1 thing that’s an absolute deal-breaker for 99% of us.

Just click that link to read it on my site.

Can a marriage survive an illegitimate child? – What the statistics tell us

Unfortunately, affairs happen.

The reality is that 10-15% of women cheat on their husbands and  20-25% of men cheat on their wives. Despite what you might think, of those affairs, between 60-75% of couples stay together after the affair is uncovered.

BUT, if that affair produces a child, that can potentially change everything.

It’s also worth pointing out that only 3% of men who cheat actually leave their wives for the mistress. But when they do, 75% of the time they end up divorcing.

Amazingly, almost 3% of all children born are the result of an affair the wife had. And most of the time, that child is raised by a man who isn’t the father but doesn’t know that.

Check out these and a lot more statistics about infidelity in a recent article I published. The biggest shocker was how long couples take to recover from an affair.

Just click the link to read that on my site.

Should I ask my husband to verify the paternity of the child of an affair?

The paternity of a child would be something worth verifying. And as the betrayed partner, there’s nothing wrong with you insisting on it.

After all, both your husband and the young mother had unprotected sex. And both were clearly OK with marital infidelity and putting morals aside for their own gratification.

And since we know they’re capable of that, there’s no reason she may not have also been having unprotected sex with other men.

So for your sake and the potential future marital satisfaction, I would want to know 100% if the kid was indeed my spouse’s. And of course if it’s not, while that’s a horrible place to put the child, it’s now no longer your probable or your husbands.

Since my husband will be seeing the biological mother occasionally, are they likely to rekindle things?

There is always a chance that he or she will be weak and look for an opportunity to revisit their affair.

After all, just because there’s been a lot of drama doesn’t mean whatever drew them together in the first place is gone. And while it’s entirely possible for your husband to recommit himself to you and be dedicated to rebuilding a good marriage, he will have to be strong.

And as the saying goes, “if a woman sets the table, a man’s gonna eat”. 

And by that, I mean that we men can be weak creatures if being hit on by an attractive woman. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve turned down plenty of advances when I was in committed relationships. But that doesn’t mean it’s easy.

So the best plan, if you and he stay together, is to:

  • Do custody exchanges or visitations at a public place
  • You go with him
  • For a period of time, he should be 100% willing to let you monitor his phone, email, and social accounts

After all, he’s got to earn back your trust. This is a difficult situation. And if he is serious about wanting to turn your unhappy marriage into a good relationship, he’s got to be open, honest, and transparent.

Final thoughts

In this article, we took a detailed look at marriages that are rocked not only by infidelity, but also a child born of the affair.

We looked at the terrible toll that takes on the marriage. But we also looked at what the marriage’s chances of survival are.

Ultimately, we answered the question of can a marriage survive a love child? And we looked at the best way to get through this for couples that wish to.

Some infidelity statistics data are courtesy of the General Social Survey conducted by NORC at the University of Chicago. Other info courtesy of the book Intimacy After Infidelity: How to Rebuild and Affair-Proof Your Marriage by Steven Solomon & Lorie Teagno.

As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a small commission from qualifying purchases if you click on Amazon from my site and choose to make a purchase. You can read my complete affiliate disclosure for more details.

Jeff Campbell


Wednesday 30th of December 2020

I am a victim here, Just this year i found out my boyfriend of 8 years father of my two daughters cheated on me and had a son. He hid that from me her whole pregnancy and 5 months after the child was born, I was the one to find out and confront him so he had no other option then to tell me the truth. We are together. Things have been really hard i feel like i lost some feeling i don't know if they are mixed emotions permanent emotions. Once i found out she told him he will never see the kid, but 6months ago he messaged her again and she agreed to letting him see the baby, but with her conditions, she doesn't want me around which makes me very mad because i of course didn't want her with messing with my partner and she did anyway. I feel like i would take thing a bit better if i was part of the picture because i have been the outcast for so long, i want to be taken into consideration . I just recently has been thinking of getting legally married but im not 100 percent sure. I feel like i need to be taken seriously and i need to be taken into consideration. Also if its a good idea for my girls to meet him they are 4 and 5 Advice please. Thank you.

Jeff Campbell

Saturday 2nd of January 2021

Hi Ana

I'm sorry you and your kids are going through this. I certainly wouldn't get married under the current circumstances; there are just too many emotions flying around, and while I do believe your boyfriend can change, he needs to prove it to you first through his actions; not just his words.

If the other woman wants your boyfriend in the child's life (which is best since he is the father), then by definition, that means she has to accept you and your kids. Unless he lied to her also, she knew she was having an affair with a man who was essentially married. She chose to do that and have unprotected sex. So she lost her right to make demands.

If I woke up in your shoes, I would tell your boyfriend that if he wants to be involved in the child's life, and be in communication with the other woman, then you will be involved also. Then I would probably suggest that the 3 of you get together to meet to lay out some ground rules. If she doesn't like that, then he should cut all contact with her other than making child support payments.

As for your kids, that's really complicated as they are too young to understand but if your boyfriend does remain in his life, it's also not fair to them to not know about their brother. What I would probably do is maybe refer to him as a cousin until they are age 10 or so, and then explain the truth. It will be hard for them to understand their dad isn't perfect, and it may impact how they see him for a while, but ultimately they deserve to know they have a brother; it just needs to be done at the right time in an age-appropriate way.

As for your boyfriend, he needs to be willing to work really hard to earn your trust back. That will take a year or more, but will include being 100% transparent about where he goes, who he sees, and sharing any and all communication that goes on between him and the other woman. While you may not want to use them, he should be willing to give you passwords and logins to email and social accounts. He messed up big-time, and he has a lot of work to do to prove he's worthy of being with you. If he's not willing to do that, then I wouldn't be willing to stay with him if I were you.

Again, I'm sorry you're going through this.


Kelvin Richards

Monday 28th of December 2020

It is so infuriating that society thinks it's men who cheat. Do they cheat alone? If they cheat with other women then ladies are equally culpable. Mine is a sad situation. I allowed my wife to work from far and she used the freedom to bring a love child to our marriage. Now I'm so confused. I love both of these kids mine and the love kid. Trouble is the father to the love child is equally married. I swore to protect my kids from these kind of issues but now my wife is very uncooperative. What does a man do here?

Jeff Campbell

Tuesday 29th of December 2020

Hi Kelvin

Sorry to hear of this. It's definitely true that both men and women cheat although statistically, men do tend to cheat more often. But your situation is tragic, not only for you but for the children who are caught in the middle.

You say your wife is "uncooperative" so by that should I assume that means she isn't willing to break off the affair?

In order to save your marriage, she's going to have to be willing to stop all communication with him other than that which pertains to the child. In an ideal situation, you would adopt the child and he would have nothing to do with any of you, assuming you want that.

But if she's continuing to see him, and not willing to work to save the marriage, if I were in your shoes, I would file for divorce and take my kids with me, and then, when/if she is able to get a stable home for herself, I would revisit custody with regards to the kids we have together.

But she's made a huge mess, and she has to be willing to clean it up if the marriage is going to be saved.

Michelle Neal

Monday 2nd of November 2020

I believe it’s situational. The marriage is the priority no matter what. Once the marriage is no longer a priority and comes second to an affair child, it’s just a matter of time before the couple splits. The last thing a marriage on the rocks needs is a custody battle to top it off. If a married man insists on co parenting with the mistress that is his choice as I’m sure he discussed his intentions with the child’s mother before his wife is aware. It’s not his wife’s responsibility to pick up the pieces, nor open up her home and life to include a side family. The child is the mother’s custodial responsibility and she chose to raise it alone. No one is born entitled to anything. A woman that chooses to carry another man’s child probably should divorce her husband and be with the child’s father if you’re point is that the father must play a role. I disagree that the father must take a role in either scenario. The child being innocent has nothing to do with it’s true background. They will have to learn to deal with the truth about their parents.


Thursday 26th of November 2020

Hello I’m in a situation where my husband for the past 6 yrs hid a child he has with another married woman at the time. I found out last month when child support papers arrived. The woman and her husband are divorcing and now she wants child support well she and the state because she’s on welfare. This kid made her 10th kid. I’m more angry with my husband over my health then the kid. I feel gross every time I think about it. 10 kids all by different men. That’s hurting more then the kid. The kid is innocent but so is the wife period. I didn’t have to tell him not to be involved with the kid he chose not to. She had 9 kids before this one she knew you don’t just have 10 accidents. I’m going to stay with my husband and work On our marriage because we had problems before this happened. I don’t feel guilty because God knows my heart and He will protect all his children. Good night

Jeff Campbell

Tuesday 3rd of November 2020

Hi Michelle

It's definitely a tricky situation, and thankfully, not one I've been in. I do agree the wife doesn't have to do anything, and would be well within her rights to leave him. But I still maintain the child has to be the #1 priority of both the mother and the father as the child is the most innocent of all of them. A woman who chooses to stay with her husband after a love child has to be willing to have the child be part of their life (but not the child's mother). And if she can't bring herself to do that, which I understand, she should pursue a divorce.


Sunday 25th of October 2020

Im going through same messed up situation! In my case he has chosen contact with the child which means having to bare the burden that he speaks to this women! I really want to save my relationship, especially since I’ve put so much effort into it and refuse to allow this one night stand nightmare to destroy it! But the contact with the mother and her silly immature demands of having things be her way is infuriating at its highest degree. How dare you have a child of a one night stand and yet expect that man to drop his family and also have the audacity to think you could demand ? Honestly im completely loss and can’t decide if i stay or go!

Thaviesha Pallawala

Monday 26th of October 2020

Is he taking the other womans side. Or yours

Jeff Campbell

Monday 26th of October 2020

Hi Tara

That's a tough spot and I commend you for trying to make it work. Always keep in mind there are 2 victims here; you and the child. I do commend your husband for trying to be there for the child he fathered too.

If the mom is hard to deal with, I would probably try and get your husband to hire a lawyer and just get a custody agreement so that it's just set and done. That's assuming he's listed as the father on the birth certificate and/or there has been a blood test. If those haven't happened, that would be my first step as there's definitely no point in him supporting the child if it really isn't his.

Then, if I were you, I would just be really clear about what is and isn't acceptable.

He will obviously have contact with the woman, but I would not want him spending time alone with her, so maybe they only meet in public places? Your husband also needs to put forth a lot of effort to rebuild your trust in him. That means complete transparency and honesty. I would also want to go to marriage counseling.

Once you've made clear your expectations, if he's not willing to meet them, that would probably be as much as I would be willing to take, especially if you don't have kids of your own with him.

Nikhil laxmanacharya

Thursday 15th of October 2020

Hello Jeff. I am a victim of what western people call as paternity fraud. It was the most devastating thing in my life. You he children we have are the most innocent beings sent to us but at the same time our mental health should be a priority. If a woman cheats and gets pregnant from another man, it wouldn’t likely show that she doesn’t value the love and trust factors in the relationship. And in my case looking at the child would cause me rage problems and I think it would cause others with the same and so I abandoned the kid . It isn’t as easy as you think it is. It takes a real man to have a strong mind to do such things

Jeff Campbell

Friday 16th of October 2020

Hi Nikhil

Thanks for taking the time to comment and I'm sorry you went through that. I certainly don't think it would be easy, so I'm sorry if you felt my article implied it was. And I agree it would likely bring up negative feelings every time you saw the child from another man. No shame in moving on and ultimately it's the other man and your ex who abandoned the child, not you.

Again, I'm very sorry you had to go through that.