The Effects of Infidelity and Interparental Conflict on Predominantly Female Adult Children: A Contextual Perspective




Schmidt, Alexandra Elyse

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Texas Woman s University


Despite family therapy's systemic principles, limited research addresses the impact of infidelity outside the couple sub-system. Since infidelity is often associated with conflict within the couple relationship, children may experience indirect consequences of parental infidelity that are more directly related to interparental conflict. The purpose of this exploratory quantitative study using the lens of contextual therapy was to gain more information about the relationship between interparental conflict and infidelity, focusing on vertical relationships between adult children and parents and on horizontal relationships between adult children and their partners. Results indicated that increased interparental conflict and the occurrence of mothers' and fathers' infidelity predicted lower vertical relational ethics. Fathers' infidelity predicted decreased horizontal relational ethics; mothers' and participants' infidelities were not significant. The occurrence of adult children's own infidelity partially mediated the relationship between fathers' infidelity and horizontal relational ethics. Implications for clinical practice and recommendations for future research are discussed.



Individual & family studies, Mental health, Social research