Married for the Kids…

Relationships, specially long-term ones are an investment… an investment of time, money, energy, trust, emotions…, and that is one of the reasons that couples dread getting out. It is devastating to call quits and file for bankruptcy, but if the investment is not yielding any of the required return, at one point one has to cut their losses before any further damage. 

I ran into a very old friend the other day … I hadn’t seen her in ages, she and her husband, who is also a close friend of mine, have been divorced for three years now after a 12-year-old marriage. I have also bumped into her husband a month ago.

Both of them separately tried to scare me out of a divorce, they started by painting a terrifying picture, being alone, managing the kids by myself, the financial burdens, shattered-self esteem, the weight I’d be carrying on my shoulder and the guilt-trips that would be a million times more once it got final. The guy kept telling of how miserable it is and how frustrating it is being away from his kids, not sleeping in the same house and not being able to wake up with them. She on the other hand says that she is living with the guilt of breaking up the family and her kids not having their father around. And they are not the first, many render the same image…

Ironically none of them missed each other, none of them said anything about wanting to be together, or regretting leaving one another… it was all about the kids. When I asked her, if it is so fucked up why don’t u just take him back, she stuttered for a minute and said, but I am comfortable this way. He had also said the same. So why do they portray such a petrifying face of divorce, although even if given an option they would never go back. They were both unhappy in the marriage, they both fell out of love and it had become cold and bland and emotionless. No abuse, no cheating, no stinginess… nothing major I mean, to make them never to want to take each other back, but still, they wouldn’t trade it no matter what.

She told me that the kids get to see their father even more than they were all living under the same roof, he had become more involved in their lives than he ever was and both are more relaxed in dealing with each other, they even communicate much better than they used to, they were both finally free.

A lot of fucked up marriages, ranging from stagnant, to emotionless to the far end of it being abusive and miserable, dread breaking up their family out of fear for their children… So here comes the age-old controversial questions: A bad marriage or a good divorce? I think a lot fear that it would be a bad divorce, and that’s what makes them stay… No contribution, less contact with the children if they’re not the ones living with them, revengeful dynamics… etc.

I myself know that I stayed for kids and still have not left because of them, even after I have admitted defeat and that no matter what I do, this relationship has proven to be a failed one by all means, most years spent in it were for the kids one way or the other. I was either wanting one and fearing to leave before I had one, that I might not to find anyone else to have a kid with and was pressured by society that it was time, and then later giving in when I found out I was pregnant the second time, saying it might be nature’s gift for my daughter to have a sibling so I kept her and then afraid of being on my own with two kids.

Nevertheless, I do believe that parents are the source of security and stability for their children, that the relationship between the parents is a huge part of how their off-spring, learn different emotions, learn how to express passion and how to show and receive respect… etc. I believe that we are a reflection of our parents’ dynamics, yes genes play a role, but observational nurture is where we absorb and acquire our knowledge of how to process and reciprocate all kinds of emotions and our children are a reflection of our marriages. I believe that the way parents demonstrate affection towards each other, act as a training ground of how their kids will show affection themselves and how they become comfortable with intimacy in their own relationships later on… just like when kids grow up in a violent environment, they are most likely to continue the cycle themselves. I believe that the quality of the marriage directly influences the child’s mental and physical health as well their future relationship with either parent and as a partner later one. So what are we teaching out children on daily basis?

But then again, do kids really need to live with both parents under the same roof to get a learn their lessons about intimacy, conflict, and balancing life? Can’t single parents demonstrate the same skills in healthy relationships with friends and family members and the ex-partner? Why does it necessarily mean that parents getting separated would break that notion for them? They would hopefully still have both parents in their lives, both parents will forever love them and both parents would be happy. Isn’t that what a parent should be like? Not just a made up fable of the family living together happily ever after, when kids very easily can tell the difference between a real and an unreal connection between their parents, if not consciously, then their subconsciously defiantly will?

In my case I know deep down inside that staying in this marriage would most definitely do more harm for my girls than trying to artificially make it work? All the resentment and abuse and disconnection between us will affect their well-being and how they understand and lean about love. They deserve a conflict free environment. They deserve to see their parents happy, even if not together. They deserve to be living in an atmosphere that is peaceful and calm and supportive. They deserve to be in warm and happy and loving setting, so that they can live a much healthier childhood and hopefully a much happier and stable adulthood. A lot of times, I see aggressive or shy kids and think, no way they come from a warm and stable home.

But that does not negate the fact that I am still afraid of all the unfamiliar and uncomfortable situations that would follow a divorce. Starting from the small stuff that might seem trivial, like what would happen to our friend’s circle, and family and friends and society treating me differently to what if it went really ugly between us after to having trouble helping the girls adjust to the rollercoaster of feelings I would have to endure.

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