I'm Spiritual, Dammit

Staying married for the kids- not always the best choice

I was recently on the phone with a friend of mine.  She's been teetering on getting a divorce for two years.

"How's it going?" I asked.

"Eh," she said.  "I think I need to keep the family together for the kids sake."

"I think that's a terrible idea," I said. 

Let me tell you why....
Thumbnail image for mom and dad wedding027.jpg

Mom and Dad on their wedding day- she was 18. He was 20.

When I was four my parents got divorced.  They yelled and screamed in front of my bother and me on a daily basis.  Not only did I not want them in the same house, I didn't want them in the same STATE.

My friend and her husband fight a lot.  They try to do it when the kids are asleep, but often the children hear it anyways.  Her youngest son is so sensitive, he complains of stomach aches and is often depressed- especially just before a big blowout is about to ensue.  

"You are teaching your kids that it's okay to be in a relationship that is not healthy," I said.  "You deserve to be happy.  Even if that means being alone."

"But getting divorced is scary," she said. "I'd rather just stay with what I know than watch everything explode."

As we already know, more than half the marriages out there end in divorce.  Thankfully, we're seeing more co-parenting these days, which means kids are lugging a suitcase around.  I hated packing a bag every week.  But I hated the arguments between my parents even more.

I met a woman last year who was getting divorced just before her 50th birthday.

"I'd wanted to do this since I was 36!" She laughed.  She was at a wine tasting with her daughter who was 24.  I asked the daughter how she was handling her parent's divorce, since she'd spent her whole childhood with them staying together.  She said she had more respect for her mother for going through with the divorce. 

"I knew she wasn't happy," she said.  "Kids always know.  I figured my mom and dad would have been better as friends.  I'm so glad my mom finally chose to follow her instincts.  You can't really love anyone else until you love yourself first."   

So don't think for a second your kids are being fooled by a closed door, or a muffled voice.  Staying together just for the kid's sake might do more damage in the long run than you'll ever know.  And jumping from one marriage to another won't solve any problems either, by the way.  You have to work on yourself and your issues before you can be a good partner.  

I should know.  My parents got married every seven years.  

And I have the therapy bills to prove it, dammit!

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1 Comment

Ellen said:

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Jen:

I couldn't agree with you more. My husband's parents always said they stayed together for the "kids sake." What a crock. It did no good for anyone including my husband. His relationship with his parents has always been strained and uncomfortable.

On the other hand, we have been happily married for 26 years so I guess it didn't affect him too badly. Also, my parents were happily married for 53 years before my Dad died in 2001. For that, I am very grateful.

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