Why Staying Together for the Kids Is Such a Bad Idea…

We had tried – for three years, we tried. And it wasn’t working – nothing was working. It wasn’t like there was anything wrong with us exactly, except that everything was wrong. We were all screwed up. Royally screwed up.

And so, after three years of therapy, three years of actively working to fix our relationship, it was time to call our 15 years of matrimony quits. Time to do what needed to be done. Except for one thing, we had to tell the kids. I was terrified – I’m talking shaking, throwing up terrified.  The plan was to tell them together, neither of us blaming the other, which I’m told is the best way – but the truth is there can be no best way for something like this. It is like a horrific train wreck any way you slice it. I hope I never experience another night as terrible as the night I told my children their parents were getting a divorce.

Most of the pain comes from the anticipation of knowing. Knowing you’re about to crush these sweet little innocent lives you’ve been fiercely protecting since the beginning of time. In a moment, in one sentence you will take away their entire world. Mommy and daddy couldn’t get their sh*t together and because of that, life as you know it will never be the same.

It seemed so selfish - which is why it took so long to decide I think.  I would have done anything to avoid that conversation and spare my kids that pain.  And I did – for a very long time. But I knew I couldn’t choose to be miserable for the rest of my life. My misery was not helping them. I came to realize the dysfunction in our home was hurting them.

The truth was hard to face. My marriage was in a massive addictive/co-dependent cycle that just wouldn’t quit. I felt like a crazy person most of the time – I have no idea how he really felt, even after all the therapy. That’s how messed up it was.  My kids were watching, and they were learning.  

They were learning that love meant being passive aggressive and checked out. They were learning it meant being mostly angry with little pieces of happiness sprinkled in for good measure. They were learning relationship meant going through the motions with no real connection. 

My girls were learning it was ok to have a partner that wasn’t available – both emotionally and physically.  They were learning that moms are supposed to be upset and stressed out more than they’re happy.  They were learning that dysfunction in relationship is acceptable. And worst of all, they were learning to hide family secrets.

They were growing up to be just like us… and they would teach their kids to do the same things.

Not on my watch they wouldn’t.  I knew a change had to come and I knew that change would either involve my marriage, or my marital status.

@@If you are in a dysfunctional, abusive, non-changing situation, staying together for the sake of the kids is an effort in futility and foolishness.@@  It keeps the focus on the wrong thing and will ultimately set your kids up to fail in relationship.

The best thing you can do for your children is to get real and stop living in denial.  Work on yourself, see if your partner will do the same and together, fix your marriage and teach your children that love looks like changing, growing, becoming your best self and using that best self to love another person.  They need you to model healthy relationship. They need you to teach them how to love well – in the good times and bad. If this can’t happen, then maybe it’s time to ask the tough question.

I’m not an advocate for divorce, but I am an advocate for change; changing yourself, changing your life, changing your marriage - for the sake of the kids. That is a worthy cause.

Let’s get real and make it great!