Should people stay married for the sake of their children? I asked myself that very question when I was considering leaving my ex, Eric. Deciding to get divorced is never an easy decision to make. I agonized over it for 2 years before making a final decision as did many of my friends in their relationships. It is such a hard decision to make especially when you have children. There is so much more at stake when kids are involved.
So, being the logical person that I tend to be, I sat down and thought about what made sense to me. I looked at our relationship which went from good friends and lovers to two angry, depressed people running a household together as if it were a business. I thought about the atmosphere in my house and I noticed that the air was quite thick, there was very little civil conversation going on and my ex and I spent a whole lot of time clenching our jaws when we were there together. We argued a lot over the little things and we screamed at each often. After careful consideration and contemplation, I decided that I needed to get my kids out of that toxic environment.
Not every couple that gets divorced has built up enough resentment to create this toxic atmosphere, but many have. I have had the unfortunate occasion to have been approached by at least 25 or 30 married men (no kidding) looking to have an affair. I’m quite interested in how people think and behave, as well as relationships and how they work, so I always asked “Why?” The story was always the same! We got married, had kids, the wife got tired because she was caring for small children, handling the household details and often working. The husband was exhausted because he was working long hours providing for the family. The sex life decreased significantly and the resentment built on both sides. The more resentment, the less the husband would help around the house, the more tired the wife grew and the less frequent the sex would become. The friendship they built went out the window. Eventually, the men in my scenario found other people to meet their sexual needs and didn’t even consider trying to “fix” things with their wives as an option. It is uncanny how similar their stories were.
I also asked why they didn’t leave the relationships if they were so unhappy. Every single one of them said that they wanted to stay together “for the sake of the children.” It really got me to thinking, is this truly the best thing for these kids?
I am no psychologist, but I have done my own informal “research” and I have come to the conclusion that it is not necessarily the best thing for the kids. I know you are fuming right now, but hear me out.
What are we teaching our children when we stay in a loveless, sexless marriage where there is minimal communication? From what I can tell, we are teaching them to settle for less than what makes them truly happy, and folks LIFE IS SHORT! We are teaching them that a hostile environment is the norm for a marriage and that is what they should expect. We are teaching them to expect very little from marriage and relationships. It is very likely that our children will one day have relationships just like ours despite doing everything in their power not to. We followed in our parent’s footsteps even when we tried not to, didn’t we? We are modeling the behavior of two hostile adults that chose ignoring a problem, suffering through it and pretending to be happy versus talking and working it out, or splitting up and being two happy separate people. Our kids don’t have a chance for a successful relationship; they haven’t learned how to communicate with the opposite sex successfully.
Our kids know everything! Don’t think your kids don’t know how unhappy you are because you will only be fooling yourself and doing them a disservice. I know several couples that have chosen to stay together for the sake of their children and they continue to scream as their main source of communication. Kids follow our actions, NOT our words. The adults scream, their kids scream, the kids even scream at their parents. It’s a horrible environment to visit; I can only imagine what it is like to live there.
I can’t say for sure what is right for every situation, but I do know that most of my friends and I all have all had civil divorces after not so civil marriages and we have what appear to be happy, well-adjusted children. At the very least, it’s worth your reconsideration, isn’t it? It beats the alternative.