Staying Together for the Kids

May 21, 2013 27 Comments TAGS: Kids, Marriage

I hope you had a great weekend. It was a long weekend in Canada, Victoria Day Weekend to be precise, and it was wonderful to rest, relax and regroup. My kids went back to school this morning after a 6-day break (hallelujah), I went back to the gym, and life returned to normal.

I was chatting with some moms last week about quite a heavy topic, and it took me back to something that happened a couple of years ago. I remember it clearly – at the time, I was grabbing a salad for the road and on the way to my son’s school to serve hot lunch to 650 students. Never one to skip a meal, I was waiting for my salad, when I bumped into an old friend’s sister. I actually found out on Facebook that this old high school friend had recently separated from her husband. Unfortunately, they also had two young children. I proceeded to ask the sister, “How is your sister doing?” To which she replied, “My sister seems much happier and he seems much happier too, so I guess good for them, but I’m not so sure about the kids. I have a different point of view than her. Who’s happy? Who is living in marital bliss? Sometimes you have to suck it up, and stay for the sake of the kids.”

In fact, we hear things like this quite often: couples divorcing after 25 and 30 years of marriage. When you ask many of them why, often they’re quick to answer, “I couldn’t break up my family. I stayed for the kids.”

Is this right? Is this wrong? Is it fair for two miserable people to stay together for the kids’ sake?  Depending on the different people you ask, you’ll get a variety answers.

After meeting my friend’s sister in the cafe that day, I started to speak candidly with a few divorcees, and I learned a lot. One separated woman told me, “Trust me, it was worse for my children to live in such chaos and fighting. The kids are thriving now that my husband and I are finally separated. We both have made a conscious effort to create a calm environment in our respective homes, and the kids see that we are finally happy. Albeit happy without each other, but happy nevertheless. And we make the kids our number 1 priority. We come together for the sake of the kids. It’s not easy, but we try our best. We will always be connected through our children, so even though I harbor tremendous resentment toward my ex-husband, I make it work.”

Interesting.

I also spoke to another recently divorced father at the time, and he painted a very different picture. “My children feel displaced. They are doing horribly. They are shuffled around. We do our best to get along for the kids’ sake, but my ex-wife can barely take care of our children now. She’s too busy living her own life. I receive numerous disturbing phone calls from my kids asking me to pick them up from their mother’s house, as she is not properly caring for them. They feel confused, and they are suffering in school. I should have stayed longer and sucked up my unhappiness. I almost wish we could have quietly lived separate lives, but at least I would still be there, and could see them daily. I made a horrible mistake by breaking up my family.”

Wow, that is painfully sad.

I have to tell you, I see both point of views. Now, I’m NOT talking about staying in an abusive marriage, or staying with a serial cheating spouse. I am talking about staying in a loveless and/or toxic marriage.

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For myself, I  believe in marriage.  I take the vow that I made almost 13 years ago very seriously. Call me old fashioned, but personally speaking, if I were unhappily married,  I think I would stay for the sake of my kids. I couldn’t go down without a fight. Therapy, whatever it would take to keep us together. I’m just being honest. And for the record, my husband feels the EXACT same way as I do. Aren’t we just perfect for each other?? 😉 He always jokes, that even if we hated each other, he would never leave. He says he’d sooner live miserably together. His reasoning; he couldn’t go a day without seeing our boys.

But then I also see the flip side. When we marry and decide to have children, we envision a family staying together forever. But what if the marriage starts to crumble?  I’m not so sure it’s better for everyone to live in a highly anxious and tense environment either. Someone once said to me about this topic, “Would you really want to set the example for your children that your own happiness is not worth anything? That your needs don’t mean or count for anything?” Also, an interesting point. This is a complex issue, one that I truly feel needs to be examined on a case-by-case basis.

So the burning question is:

“Your relationship is falling apart, or maybe it died long ago. But your children depend on you both for love and security. Should you split up or stay together for their sake?”

I decided that for today, I am not going to give any tips or suggestions. Instead, I think this is a VERY subjective issue, and would like you my readers, to weigh in on this heavy ‘on the fence’ topic. I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer. What would you do if you had children and were living in an unhappy marriage… stay or leave?

FYI, you are always able to comment anonymously, without an email address or name. I’d like to know your point of view.

Erica3

    27 Comments

    1. JakeNo Gravatar says:

      I found out my wife was cheating 3 years ago. Not only was she cheating but she had several guys on the side. It destroyed me, our perfect marriage, almost my job, and ended up with my wife and our councillor (single male) still “good friends” today. (Dont waste your money on marriage counseling) Like you said, it’s hard to let go of someone you really love, but honestly whether you choose to forgive them or not, trust will always be an issue. I won’t bore you with the details but I will tell you this: Once a cheater, always a cheater and in my opinion, flirting via text messages is the same as cheating.
      So, we stay together because we have kids and that’s that. She swears up and down she doesn’t want a divorce but she continues on with her flirting/texting and I act like I don’t see. One day although when the kids are older and can manage on their own, I’m leaving and not looking back. Why, because I can tell already that I just don’t love her like I used to. Sure, she is still very good looking and takes care of herself, but I deserve better. In this day and age every woman under 35 has some guy or guys on Facebook, etc. that’s pushing for a fling. Most women fall for it and it becomes an addiction. Got to have likes and comments! Well, I’ll never fall for that crap again and every time I smile, I think about what could of been.

    2. LisaNo Gravatar says:

      I’m in a marriage where my husband is verbally abusive to me, angry and punches holes in the walls. He’s never hit me, but I think he would if he could get away with it. I’m staying with him because I’m hoping things will one day get better, but I’m losing hope of that. I’m staying because I want my kids to stay in the same school, near their friends, and have a happy childhood. He is really good with them. He’s a good father and he’s a good husband 80% of the time. So yes, I’m staying for the kids to give them some security and stability. I honestly cannot see myself growing old with my husband the way things are now.

    3. ANo Gravatar says:

      My situation is similar yet different. I have lost all respect and love because spouse constantly yell And curse at the kids and rage at them for stupid little things. But at the same time, can’t say no to them when they ask for stuff. Don’t help out around the house, only focus on sports on TV and sport activities for kids. And threatens the kids constantly but never follows through with discipline. Instead, expect the kids to behave good After they are allowed to do something or receive things, then yells at them when they don’t behave as expected. I don’t even know what I ever saw in this person anymore as I feel like I have to constantly defend the kids against this person. But we live in small town and kids have gotten accustom to no change and refuse to even move to a different house in the same town because it’ll be a different school (can’t say no to the kids) so I know they don’t want us to be separated. Too much difference between the two of us as far as our upbringing. I grew up in a relative normal family while spouse had disfunctional family and opted to live with sports coach who agreed to the arrangement. I’m bringing this up because I feel like since spouse didn’t have normal family growing up, probably doesn’t know how to be in a normal family. Should’ve listened to others before we got married … Too stupid and young back then. Sigh!

    4. AnonymousNo Gravatar says:

      Bring married for 11 years My husband and I are completely separate different personalities we have completely different point of views not even a single thing in common. And have 3 children. 10 years old Son and twin 5 years old daughters and 1 of my daughter has cerebral palsy. We often don’t get along and end up arguing lot of times. My son is very emotional and sensitive. Despite of knowing our unhappy relationship he wants us to stay together and never even think about partying ways.
      I always have to compromise and stay back because my husband is a very good loving and caring father he fulfills all my kids wishes even he gives lot more time to kids he is always there for kids . He is also JUST a caring husband. He is always there when I need him he has always been loyal to me. He helps me in all my chores. He doesn’t let me work out because he thinks I have enough to do at home. Now bad habits He has bad temper , he argues for little little things which doesn’t even make sense he has some phyco problem because most of the time he wants his way or No way. Which annoys me and wanting to leave him that very moment. And I always end up going his way because of kids But now since last year that we know that arguing or fighting is no good front of our kids 90% of the time we try to avoid talking til the night when kids r sleeping. And I am noticing he is improving himself day by day. But still He has lost all my respect and love for him in all those years for dominating me and fights for no reasons. I am just soo use to it now that
      I guess I have just devoted my life to my kids and being unhappy with husband doesn’t really matter now as long as my kids are happy seeing us together. We rather stay unhappy and see our kids happy than staying apart and ruin kids happiness or life’s. That is the only common thought in between us. We basically want our children to be raised in a single family home rather than 2 different homes.????

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