The Other Child:
Children of Affairs

by Laura Giles

Llumina Press, 2004. ISBN 193230343X.
Reviewed by Lisa Shirah-Hiers
Posted on 06/17/2004

Anthologies/Collections; Nonfiction: Relationships; Nonfiction: Life Lessons

The Other Child is a collection of deeply moving testimonials by those affected when infidelity results in a pregnancy. Laura Giles has been careful to include representative experiences by every member of these tangled relationships: the spouse, the other man, the other woman and the other child. The result is disturbing, poignant, and probably healing to anyone who has been in the same situation.

When a child is the result of a spouse's cheating, the pain of betrayal is magnified by the need of the child for support that drains resources from the legitimate family. The cheating spouse's desire to have a relationship with the out-of-wedlock offspring brings further tensions as legitimate spouses worry the contact with the other woman will lead to further infidelity. Some spouses embrace the other child, even offering to adopt and support it. Others are so filled with anger and jealousy they cannot even look at the baby and insist the wayward spouse sever all ties. In one case, a spouse was forced to take a job to support her husband's other child.

The other child is not only a source of tension for the legitimate spouse, but a baby that needs financial support and the love of both parents. The problem is that is not always possible.

One angry spouse summed up the pain this way:

"I will leave him if he does have a relationship with the child. I have extreme hate for this woman and do wish terrible things for her everyday. I have taken her garbage so I can learn more about her. I have posted her picture [on the internet.] I think about it on a daily basis. I would love counseling, but cannot afford it. I would love to forget it, but I can't."

Another who worked things out with her spouse and even went so far as to adopt the other child responds:

"At the time I write this the other child is six months old, and my husband loves her as much as our other two children. She is just as important to him as the others are. Sometimes a comment will be made at his work about it being a good thing that she looks like me. My husband just smiles and says, 'Yep!'"

Spouses who were able to reconcile learned the ways in which they had contributed to the wayward spouse's desire to cheat:

"I'm a changed woman. I see my husband for the man he is and not the man I kept wanting or forcing him to be. I realize that he has needs that are very different from my own. I have learned to respect his needs and accommodate them when possible. I learned to listen with my head and not my heart."

The one weakness of the book is that Laura Giles is completely absent.There are no summaries or conclusions, as she lets her clients speak for themselves. But that might be the book's strength as well.Those hurt by infidelity will see themselves in these painfully honest accounts. That is clearly the intention of the book—to reassure the wounded that they are not alone.

Laura Giles' counseling practice focuses on couples and victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. An expert on extra-marital affairs, she is a member of the National Association of Social Workers, the C.G. Jung Society of Tidewater, the International Association for Regression Research and Therapy, Inc., and is listed in the 2004 National Register's Who's Who in Executive Professionals.

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