Should You Stay Married For Your Children?
- Friday, May 17, 2013
“I know it would be wrong to stay married for the sake of my children.”
“Really? Who told you that?”
“Several of my friends.”
“I don’t mean to sound offensive, but what makes them experts on the matter?”
She stared at me for a few moments. I think she was trying to decide if I were a jerk, or if I had a point worth considering. Finally she spoke. Her advice from “several friends” mostly came from one.
“Linda tells me the best thing she ever did was divorce Tom. Says I should divorce Bill so I can be happy.”
“Do you think Linda’s kids feel the same way about her divorcing their Dad?”
“I don’t know.”
“I assume the kids live with her. Do you think either Tom or their children hurt because he now plays a more limited role in their lives?”
She shifted uncomfortably. “I don’t know, but that really doesn’t matter, does it? If Linda is happy, then it was the best choice for her.”
“And now she wants you to make the same choice for yourself. Think there’s any possibility that her encouraging you to divorce Bill could somehow validate in her own conscience her decision to divorce Tom?”
“Why would you ask a mean question like that?”
“I witness many people encouraging others to end their marriages so that they might find some kind of belated justification to their own divorces.
“You say she’s happy. Maybe. Does she ever talk about how tough it is to raise kids alone? She ever complain about trying to have a social life while attempting to be both Mom and Dad?
“And did you really mean it when you said it doesn’t matter how it affects Tom or the kids as long as Linda is happy? Do you really think it does not matter if her kids ache because their Mom and Dad aren’t together? Think they may pray at night that God will make their parents fall in love again and remarry? Think it might matter to them?
“Rather than listening to Linda, I suggest you seek wisdom from qualified people before deciding that staying together for the children is wrong. Wouldn’t it make more sense to talk to someone who absolutely has no personal agenda? Someone objective?”
I based the story above on many discussions. Our culture seems to think that one should not consider his or her children’s emotions or desires when contemplating divorce. Instead, one should consider his or her own emotions and desires. Some believe that the children will be better off if the parent is happy, even if they suffer for a while because of their parents’ divorce.
Could Divorce Benefit Children?
When children are in danger sexually, physically, emotionally, or otherwise, divorce removes them from the presence and primary influence of the person hurting them. The same applies if the harm is directed at the other spouse rather than the children. Separation or divorce in situations such as those should occur, in my opinion.
However, reasons such as those vary drastically from, “I want to be happy, and so the kids will just have to adjust to the divorce.”
Please do not think that I want people to be miserable. When a marriage is difficult, I urge people to seek help to repair that relationship and make it good. People should demand respect, civility, affection, and all the other attributes a marriage should have. If a marriage is bad, a person should stand up to the situation and demand that they deal with their problems.
However, much more often it occurs as Linda in our story recommends. “If you are not happy, divorce your spouse and move on to whatever might be next. Do not let your children deter your decision. They may hurt for a while, but they will adapt eventually; therefore, do what makes you happy now and let things work out for the kids later.”
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