I read the post about divorce that my friend Amy over at Mom Spark wrote. And it was a very powerful post about how her parents divorce shaped her. Go read it.
I decided that, instead of leaving a comment the size of a post, I’d just write a post. Because yeah, been there. Only, I was the parent not the child.
I grew up in a two parent home. My parents fought a lot. Sometimes I think that the yelling was just so that they could be heard. But they stayed together. They’re still together 42 years later, yelling to be heard.
I always assumed that marriage meant until death do you part. But after 5 years of marriage, death was looking really good and I’m not talking about my own.
I was miserable. The fighting was constant and shamefully, in front of the kids. It was starting to affect my son who was 3 at the time. He was taking our fights, putting them on his shoulders and making them his own burden. My daughter was an infant, practically incapable of realizing anything aside from her hunger and wet diapers.
I spent so much time wishing and praying for a miracle or an epiphany that I missed out on truly enjoying the first few years of my firstborn child’s life. And my son spent the first 3 years of his life not realizing how much more he deserved.
I would take my children to the park on the weekends by myself and stare longingly at other families that were enjoying their time together. My heart ached for what I thought I was missing. I would strap my babies into their carseats , cry quietly into my hands and with dread I’d head home.
Misery was my unwanted company. And it was taking over every aspect of my life. Especially my parenting.
We decided to go for counseling. We went for 2 years. It didn’t work.
It was hopeless. The marriage was over. I took my kids and left.
And 10 years later, I have no guilt. I know what the professionals say. It’s better to stay together, even if you fight all the time, for the kids.
I can’t believe that a home with two parents that so obviously hate each other could possibly be a healthy environment for children to thrive in. It just seems that divorce is oftentimes the best solution, especially if all the work that has been poured into the relationship is futile.
Sometimes the relationship is irreconcilable. There is no other choice but to move out and move on. Which is what I did. What I had to do. Amy ends her post by saying “Marriage with kids is hard. It takes constant nourishment, effort, and sacrifice. There are highs and lows, but the reward is so amazing! A strong marriage results in strong, healthy children. Fight for it-for them.” Sadly, and I can only speak out of my own experience but, not all marriages with children are even worth the trouble of saving. It’s harder to work on that marriage than to end it and start over.
Now? My children are growing up in a home kind of similar to the one I grew up in. It’s louder. And more chaotic. That is for sure. The parents yell a lot…mostly to be heard. But they also love a lot. Here, the kids are thriving. No one is internalizing negativity. Not any more than, what I would consider to be, normal.
If I hadn’t taken mine and my children’s destiny into my own hands and followed blindly where my heart led, I shudder to think of how unhappy our lives would have turned out.
Marriage and life is pretty darn close to the way I had imagined it when I was young(except with more money problems than I pictured). A cross between perfect and horrendous. Exactly the way it kind of should be. Because hey, I’m realistic. I know that fairytales only exist in books and imaginations. Not in marriages.
I don’t know any professionals who would say that it’s better to stay in a completely joyless marriage “for the kids.” Modern professionals value strong parenting, even if it’s carried out in two different locations or by one parent instead of two. I think it would actually be unethical for a professional to counsel somebody to stay together simply “for the kids.”
.-= Greg´s last blog ..Weekends… not always so fun. =-.
Tiaras & Tantrums says
My parents, well, my mom, yelled, screamed, shouted, hissed, fought all the time with my father . My father, well, he just sat there nodding. My mother was a fricking lunatic. I begged my father to leave her, divorce her, take us away form her. He never did. he stayed with her, I will never for the life of me know why. I wished they had divorced. Then my father fell ill and died. So I will never know why he stayed. But I do know this, my brothers and myself, we cringe when we hear shouting. We simply close off completely, shut down mentally! Bad marriages DO damage the children. i am 42 years old and ever time my husband shouts at our children – I shrink up a bit. Then I stand up straight and remind him that we do not yell in MY house!
.-= Tiaras & Tantrums´s last blog ..I ♥ Faces~Collages =-.
Aimee @ Ain't Yo Mama's Blog says
I’m so glad I saw your twitter mention about this post.
I first want to say that, as an MFTi, I would never say that it’s best to stay together no matter what. And I don’t know any other relationship counselor that would say that either. A home where there is constant fighting is detrimental, not only to the mental and physical health of the couple, but especially to any children that witness it on a regular basis. If counseling doesn’t work and it is obvious to the couple and their therapist, then the role of the therapist will often shift from being an advocate for the marriage/partnership to a therapist who helps guide the couple through the process of separation/divorce and separated co-parenting.
Not all marriages and partnerships are a good fit and, when it isn’t, it’s actually a disservice to both people (and their children) to stay together. If they’re staying together for the sake of their children, they might be surprised to learn that they’re doing more harm than good. It’s much better to be in a happy single-parent home than a home where the parents fight all the time.
I am so glad to know that you gave your ex-husband a chance to work it out in counseling, it didn’t work, and you’ve now found love and happiness elsewhere. It’s pretty obvious that you made the best decision for yourself and your children.
.-= Aimee @ Ain’t Yo Mama’s Blog´s last blog ..Favorite iphone Apps For Toddlers =-.
I believe staying in a bad marriage for the children’s sake isn’t healthy for anyone. You gave your first marriage your best effort, but in the long run it seems it was better for you and your children to leave. I’m glad you and your children are happier. I also don’t believe “and they lived happily ever after” fairytales. Life conists of the highest highs and the lowest lows and most have experienced both. Actually I like the “sound” of your marriage. When you have children, yelling to be heard is a given.
.-= SurprisedMom´s last blog ..Talking with the Dead =-.
Jamie Favreau says
My parents were married my entire life. My Mom was a paranoid schizophrenic and my Dad is a control freak. Combine the two and you have threats of divorce and everything else. I don’t know why my Dad stayed for all those years. He loved her to this day even if he was threatening divorce every two years.
She had a lot of issues but he stood by her. Is that good or bad? I don’t know because she came from a good family (grandparents married over 60 years and was well off) but as a whole our family wasn’t that well off. So I don’t know how much of it was love and how much of it was the entire comfort zone.
I don’t know what would have happened if he did actually, “leave her.” So who knows all I know is that I am commitment phobic. My uncle came from a strong home and he didn’t get married either even if he was with my aunt for twenty years before he passed away and my Mom passed away in 2007 at 60. So who knows.
I don’t think their is a magic formula you just have to put your best interest for your kids ahead of your own and try adn do the right thing.
.-= Jamie Favreau´s last blog ..What Role Does Technology Play for You? =-.
I agree that sometime divorce is the only answer. It took me a long time and a lot of growing up, but I’m glad that my parents divorced. Staying together would not have worked out for them.
I’m just wish everyone would work as hard as you did to make it work. Not for the kids, but for the marriage. I don’t think divorce should be seen as an easy out. Because from what I’ve seen nothing about it is easy.
.-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Mistah Allagatah =-.
Tara R. says
Ideally, a marriage is until ‘death do us part.’ But it can’t always be saved, nor should it. My parents divorced the last time when I was in high school (yes, they split, then remarried each other). Honestly, they probably should never have been married to each other in the first place. Staying together was horrible for everyone involved, and everyone, adults and us kids, were all so much better apart.
I also agree with Amy that if you go into a marriage thinking ‘if it doesn’t work out, I can always get divorced’ is a formula for failure. It is hard work, and worth fighting for, but sometimes allowing it to end before it becomes toxic is what has to be done.
.-= Tara R.´s last blog ..On the road again =-.
Sunday Stilwell says
I have to say that not only do I completely agree with you, but I actually did the same thing as you by leaving a dead-end marriage that was riddled with verbal abuse and apathy. I realized after 10 years that not only did I deserve better, but so did my boys.
Today, 3 years later, I can say it was one of the best decisions I ever made. My ex and I have a very good co-parenting relationship and we are both the better for it.
.-= Sunday Stilwell´s last blog ..Daredevil squirrels =-.
Dani G says
I have something to say about this, an opinion if you will (shocking).
I should preface by saying I’ve never been divorced, my parents have never been divorced, my husband’s parents have never been divorced. But I think that divorce is okay. I hate when people say that a marriage failed because it ended in divorce. A relationship should never be considered a failure. Our experiences and relationships shape us- whether they’re perceived as positive or negative experiences.
How can anyone call a marriage a failure if it resulted in the birth of your kids? Or introducing you to special friends? And some happy times (there must have been some, right?).
I’d like to erase the stigma of divorce. Its okay. It’s where you are, were, have gone through to get you to this point you’re at today. I feel like I’m sounding way too positive and philosophical, so I’m going to go eat some chocolate chips for breakfast or something like that. Or maybe I’ll blog more about my kid’s poop. Yeah, that oughta do it.
.-= Dani G´s last blog ..Reintroducin’ gluten =-.
I agree with you. There are times when it is better to Get Out. For a LOT of reasons. Do I worry about my kids? Hell yeah. But do I believe that we can still co-parent and raise healthy children even though we’re divorcing? Hell yeah!!!
.-= TeacherMommy´s last blog ..To Tell the Tooth =-.
As a child of a divorced family, my parents divorced when I was 10, separated when I was 8, I was devastated. Let me rephrase, CRUSHED, destroyed, I thought how is life going to go on without both my parents. Now, as a married adult and parent, I am THANKFUL for my parents divorce.
While my family was dysfunctional, I think more harm may have come from them sticking it out which would have been the worst thing to do.
I can tell you that my husband and I have had times where we have worked out our differences and times where we agreed that divorce would be best for us AND the kids because everyone deserves to be happy. No matter how much you seem to work things out they don’t always work, which is why agreeing to divorce is best for everyone.
Thankful am I for a spouse where our differences were communication and finding one another again and not worse. Thankful am I that we can argue in front of our kids constructively so they learn how to do the same. Thankful that my parents divorced and taught me what I know now. Thankful for you and this post my friend!
Every marriage – and I mean EVERY SINGLE MARRIAGE – is a one off experience. All the professionals, with all their psychology and stuff, have NO IDEA what drives one marriage to succeed and another marriage to fail.
Good for you, Mellissa. It takes courage to do what you did.
.-= lceel´s last blog ..Friday haiku – For Posterity – A Super ‘Ku =-.
Joni Golden says
I read Amy’s post, and seriously… if you’re playing drinking games with your kids in the room, your problem is not the divorce.
I think we have to stop publicly judging other people’s lives and marriages and parenting. Tell me what WORKED in your life, don’t look at mine and point out what I’m doing wrong.
.-= Joni Golden´s last blog ..How to honor your inner artist =-.
Mommy X says
As a child of divorce myself, I feel compelled to comment on this. You may be surprised at my take on this. I actually agree with you. Although I had a horrendous childhood that I would NEVER want any kid to have to live through, it wasn’t really because of their divorce. It was more because of the choices they both made in the aftermath.
My mom got divorced so she could live a second childhood, experience all of those things that she didn’t get to experience – sex, drugs and rock & roll. Ok, I can see how someone may want that, but when there are kids involved that is no longer an option. I think the key is to have parents who have the presence of mind to talk – really talk to their kids. A parent who reassures the child that the divorce is not his or her fault. No one ever did that for me because I was pretty much in the way of my parents trying to have a good time.
You, Melissa, have done things the way that I wish my parents would have. And you at least gave it a shot. 2 years of counseling sounds about as fun as a sharp stick in the eye. In the end, I think your family ended up exactly the way it was supposed to and an ideal situation for everyone – including those beautiful kids who I know (even though they probably don’t express it often) must feel valued and loved and important.
The key is good parenting.
.-= Mommy X´s last blog ..I’m Not a Star…..But Some Things Are More Important, Like Memorable Vacations =-.
I grew up with 2 sets of parents. My mom & dad divorced whan my sister and i were little and from the time I can really remember, they were both remarried to other people. I grew up in one of the most abnormally normal households in the world! All four parents attended EVERY function…. got along well… lived 5 minutes from each other (on purpose so we could all be close) and they ALL had a hand in raising us. It was the BEST thing possible for a divorced situation. My ex husband and I live our lives the same. We ARE best friends… have been since childhood but the marriage was a front. We never LOVED each other… it was our mothers intention. We havea daughter. She is 15. SHe is happy and healthy and lives with myself and my husband where she lives a normal life like I did. I agree with everything you wrote!
.-= Jenn´s last blog ..Ticked with the system. =-.
I grew up in a household with two people married who should have divorced but would not due to religious reasons. Their coldness, hostility and conflict shaped how my siblings and I perceived relationships. Not surprisingly, I married a man much like my father and ta-da! had the same cold, hostile and conflict-riddled marriage. I got out. I am remarried to a wonderful man and I’d like to think we model to our children what a good marriage looks like. I’m not sure what favors my parents did to any of us by staying together.
.-= MomZombie´s last blog ..Another view =-.
Kris Cain says
I just left a reply on Amy’s post that I will not repeat here! She did of course make some good points, but there are always 2 sides to a coin. Here is my reply http://momspark.net/marriage-divorce-cheating-kids-is-it-worth-it/comment-page-1/#comment-17612
.-= Kris Cain´s last blog ..SV Moms Chevy Event =-.
I just left a comment on Amy’s blog but I read yours first. I cringe when anyone says it’s best to tough it out “for the kids.” I had a child in a Pre-K class who told me when school started that he knew his parents didn’t love each other any more. He said he wished they would just move into different houses so he would know they were happy again.
Kids need security. An unhappy marriage is not secure. I know that from experience. Mine are like yours. Same with my in-laws. It has always hurt to hear them fight at the top of their lungs. All 3 of us kids used to wish the would divorce so we wouldn’t have to listen to them argue all the way to church and all the way home.
Kids are resilient if given a place to thrive. You were able to make a decision and keep them as your focus. I wish more divorced parents could do that. I know many who reverted in the “reclaiming my lost youth” BS and effed up their kids. It’s not the divorce, it’s the parents.
.-= mamikaze´s last blog ..Sunday Bunny: hide and seek =-.
I gotta tell you, anyone who says it is better for the kids is either in deep denial or has never known the joy of no longer have to live in a loveless marriage.
.-= jessica´s last blog ..What Color Is My Parachute Now? =-.
Another Suburban Mom says
As a child of divorce married to a child of divorce we both are personally happy that our parents did not stay married to each other. Unfortunately, everyone does not stay the same as they were when they 1st got married and those changes can make people miserable.
Also, many people get married for less than awesome reasons. Mistakes happen.
I will say that as two children of divorce, I think that a divorce should not be taken lightly and I believe that most people who dissolve their marriage, especially when children are involved do so after much soul searching and effort.
.-= Another Suburban Mom´s last blog ..A Weighty Matter =-.
Thanks for posting this. I read both your post and the one at Amy’s blog. Being both a child of divorce and someone who is now experiencing divorce myself, I’ve seen both ends and know that divorce is painful all the way around. I disagree with Amy and anyone who says that people should stay in an unhappy marriage “for the sake of the kids”. Fight for a marriage, yes, but not stay when it is killing your soul. If you do, you are only teaching your kids to grow up and find their own soulless unions. Not something I want to pass down to my kids, thank you very much. While it sounds like her personal experience of divorce was very painful as her parents made some poor choices in how to handle it, it does not mean that that is the case for every family that splits up. My parents’ divorce was amicable and while it was painful it didn’t scar me for life or leave me feeling insecure.
.-= Kristin´s last blog ..Wow, just wow. =-.
Aunt Becky says
I am not the child of divorce, but after having a kid out of wedlock (THE SHAME!!111!!!!!) with someone whom I very nearly married and spending enough time miserable with him, I completely agree with you. I don’t think that showing kids that “sticking it out no matter what” shows kids anything but what an idiot parents can be.
Because I love my children viciously, but I love me too. And if I need to be single in order to be happy, well, that’s the way it has to be. I’m not sacrificing my entire life for my kids. Period. I don’t see divorce as shameful or life-shattering.
Maybe it’s because I grew up in a totally fucked-up family and turned out mostly okay (stop laughing), but really, I’d rather have had my parents be divorced than to live through what I did.
.-= Aunt Becky´s last blog ..Go Ask Aunt Becky =-.
I believe in true love and the “till death do us apart”, but sometimes, divorce is the one and only and the best option.
Zoey @ Good Goog says
My parents divorced when I was about 7 and my brother about 5. And yes, it was hard. And yes, it does shape you in a way that other things don’t.
But my mother was able to stand up for herself, find independence and know herself in a way that would never have happened if they’d stayed married. I believe if my father had stayed, instead of getting married to another woman who he had fallen in love with he would have been miserable and that misery would have hurt all of us. Eventually he would have resented us. It wasn’t an easy decision for either of them. It’s not like they didn’t work at it. But it wasn’t right. And I believe that their divorce was a good thing, for them and for us.
Divorce isn’t always born of a disrespect for marriage. Sometimes it’s born of a respect for what marriage should be and an understanding that it shouldn’t become a farce. And couples who stay together for the sake of their children and nothing else? Wake up. The kids know and they aren’t happy about it.
.-= Zoey @ Good Goog´s last blog ..The Good Goog =-.