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Sometimes people talk about staying together in an unhappy marriage for the children.

I was a child with unhappy parents, and IMHO, its a very bad idea. My parents always said how much they "loved" each other, and so as a child I saw their miserable broken relationship as "love". It took me a very long time to unlearn that lesson.

Other thoughts? Should parents stay in an unhappy marriage for the benefit of their children?
 

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Sometimes people talk about staying together in an unhappy marriage for the children.

I was a child with unhappy parents, and IMHO, its a very bad idea. My parents always said how much they "loved" each other, and so as a child I saw their miserable broken relationship as "love". It took me a very long time to unlearn that lesson.

Other thoughts? Should parents stay in an unhappy marriage for the benefit of their children?
I think when people say they're staying for the children, it's just a rationalization for lacking the motivation or the courage to leave. Or the motivation or courage to actually fix it.

You get to have it both ways, and to play it safe. Without having to do any work or take any risks.
 

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As I said in the other thread, I think it depends on the degree of unhappiness... you can have a perfectly functioning relationship even if you are not 100% happy. In my opinion, the children would be better off like this. My parents were ok, although my mother was very cold and unemotional and my father violent. I still wanted them to be together, at least when I was young...
 

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As I said in the other thread, I think it depends on the degree of unhappiness... you can have a perfectly functioning relationship even if you are not 100% happy. In my opinion, the children would be better off like this. My parents were ok, although my mother was very cold and unemotional and my father violent. I still wanted them to be together, at least when I was young...
Which explains your weakness as an adult...
 

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Sometimes people talk about staying together in an unhappy marriage for the children.

I was a child with unhappy parents, and IMHO, its a very bad idea. My parents always said how much they "loved" each other, and so as a child I saw their miserable broken relationship as "love". It took me a very long time to unlearn that lesson.

Other thoughts? Should parents stay in an unhappy marriage for the benefit of their children?
I was also a child with unhappy parents.. well, my dad anyway, he was verbally and emotionally abusive to my mom. I remember thinking, even back when I was really young, how much I wished they would get a divorce! I hated the way my mom was treated, and I hated having to be stuck in a home with my angry dad. She did finally file for divorce when I was 13, and after initial upset, I was so, so grateful. Granted, not all situations are openly abusive, but people make the HUGE mistake of thinking that they are shielding their children from the fact that their marriage is miserable. Kids are way smarter and more intuitive than they are given credit for. I think kids that get stuck in these homes eventually come to resent their parents for NOT breaking up and making them live with the dysfunction. Not to mention you are setting a crappy example of what marriage is that they are likely to grow up to repeat themselves.

As the saying goes, its better to be FROM a broken home than to have to LIVE in one.
 

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No guts and fear for the parents, then their shiny dispositions rub off and start the game all over. What a loss for the kids.
 

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Yes, children usually do want their parents together but they also want their parents happy. They know. I was always well aware my parents weren’t happy and I would have much preferred they had gotten a divorce. My mother claimed she stayed for me but I don’t believe that for a moment. She was too weak to leave and I was the one who paid the price by growing up in an unhappy house. I have no doubt that influenced my own marriage and not in a good way. So, no, I definitely don’t support the idea of staying in a dysfunctional marriage for the children.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
There are also of course many forms of bad relationships. I think though that children are far better at picking things up, even if they don't understand them.

They can also learn all sorts of unintended lessons. For instance I grew up having learned that it was "normal" for a married couple to have no physical contact at all, and to spend almost no time together. Mother cleans house and cooks. Father goes to work and brings home money. They speak politely to each other at meals. At other times they were rarely in the same room. A very efficient arrangement for operating household.
 

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It's only way a couple should stay together for the kids is if they can create an environment in which the kids are happy the family is together. If the kids say "We have a great family", then it might be worth it even if the parents are just putting on a good show. Kids growning up in a family environment where they feel safe, happy, and loved is worth it even if it's a little bit phony. But if the parents aren't able to create such an environment, then divorce will likely be much better overall. Growing up in an environment filled with fear and anger will create lots of problems that aren't worth staying together.
 

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In my situation I seriously thought about staying with my STBXW for the kids sake but decided that they would be better raised by a happy Father. As it turned out it was VERY important that I filed. The kids will be much better off now then they would have been if I stayed. Kids are smarter then we give them credit for and I didn't want them learning what a relationship SHOULD be by watching what was going on in my marriage.
 

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Yes, children usually do want their parents together but they also want their parents happy. They know. I was always well aware my parents weren’t happy and I would have much preferred they had gotten a divorce. My mother claimed she stayed for me but I don’t believe that for a moment. She was too weak to leave and I was the one who paid the price by growing up in an unhappy house. I have no doubt that influenced my own marriage and not in a good way. So, no, I definitely don’t support the idea of staying in a dysfunctional marriage for the children.
I had to like this twice , Openminded say it straight up. I didn't like this twice because his marriage suffered because of his honesty.

It is true because of if his parents, he has suffered because of it. I like to say l believe people say that it didn't affect them much, but little do they know that all of the crap goes with them and it unknowingly they live it out what they seen or because of it build up a boundary and what will be tolerated so no other person could ever live up to it.

So then they themselves become miserable for the most part of their own lives.
 
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My parents often said that they stayed together for us kids. I got tired of hearing it, and at one point told them to stop blaming their children for their mistakes.

When I left my ex husband, my parents were less than pleased. Several years later I met my now husband. After several years we decided to get married. The day before our wedding, my mom told me that she had hoped that my ex and I would get back together for our son. I was shocked, and offended. Up until that moment the only thing I had really said about my ex was that we had problems that we could not work past. I decided to tell my mom why I had divorced my ex. My ex had a severe aversion to monogamy, and had cheated on me throughout our 10+ year relationship.

My ultra conservative mother was appalled. Up until then, she had sent my ex birthday cards and gifts, Christmas gifts, and had basically been treating him like the much loved soon in law (that I had left, and didn't 5 years fighting in a contentious divorce). Needless to say, he was no longer the perfect SIL that they had hoped I would reconsider divorcing.

I cannot even begin to imagine staying with him for our son. I would die for my children, but there wasn't a chance that I would even consider getting back together with my ex. If Hades had frozen over, I'd have gone skiing. .

Staying together for the kids may work for some people, but generally speaking it forces the children to grow up trapped in their parents toxic marriage. Sadly, it will likely affect their children's concept of what a healthy relationship looks like.
 

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As I said in the other thread, I think it depends on the degree of unhappiness... you can have a perfectly functioning relationship even if you are not 100% happy. In my opinion, the children would be better off like this. My parents were ok, although my mother was very cold and unemotional and my father violent. I still wanted them to be together, at least when I was young...
And you and others that think like this would be wrong. Your kids know that you are unhappy, even before you told them, they knew.

You modeled what for them? Staying with a woman that does not love you because you are lying to yourself that you are doing it for the kids?

See, same old rationalization about all this stuff.

Staying for the kids is a lie we tell ourselves because we are scared to leave and face the unknown.

Problem is, we don't see the damage we did to them until it is done.

I did it, I am sure others did it... We think we are doing the right thing but we are not.

I am starting to think anything done out of some type of fear is a bad thing...
 

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There are also of course many forms of bad relationships. I think though that children are far better at picking things up, even if they don't understand them.

They can also learn all sorts of unintended lessons. For instance I grew up having learned that it was "normal" for a married couple to have no physical contact at all, and to spend almost no time together. Mother cleans house and cooks. Father goes to work and brings home money. They speak politely to each other at meals. At other times they were rarely in the same room. A very efficient arrangement for operating household.
That sounds like my parents. And my marriage. Kids definitely learn about relationships from their parents. I did. So 'for the kids', I think, can do quite a bit of damage.

Staying for the kids reminds me of another saying in unhappy marriages. "Too bad to stay, too good to leave". You are constantly in that middle ground of rationalizing staying because it isn't that bad. But always thinking about how life would be separate.
 

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Staying for the kids is a lie we tell ourselves because we are scared to leave and face the unknown.

Problem is, we don't see the damage we did to them until it is done.

I did it, I am sure others did it... We think we are doing the right thing but we are not.
I was very young when I married. Just a teen. I actually believed the "in case of pregnancy, get married and stay married for the kid" party line. No matter how bad it got, that would damage the kid less than a *gasp* broken home. I did some things out of desperation to keep myself sane that were not consistent with who I am as a person because I believed the hype.

One day when I was 24 and the kids were 6 and 1, IIRC I was folding something and it was sunny,and in a lightning bolt moment I realized the damage it was doing to stay. The girls are 21 and 26 now. My only saving grace is that I did leave and my DH and I modeled a much better relationship for them. It mitigated a lot of the damage according to my oldest, anyway.
 

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Should parents stay in an unhappy marriage for the benefit of their children?
Probably usually not - though the degree of unhappiness, the vulnerability of the kids and balance of harm (as best assessed at the time) are all factors that should be considered.

I am not pretending that my situation was usual but the test of the validity of a concept is not whether it holds usually but whether it holds in the extremes. Just like a good bridge is one that survives the one-in-a-hundred-years 120mph wind rather than one that survives 360 days a year of normal winds.

I stayed. I stayed from just before my younger's fourth birthday until their sixteenth. 1981- 1993.

In hindsight it is clear that my XW met the DSM5 criteria for psychopathy. No remorse, no conscience, incapable of sexual and financial fidelity, driven by competition and hatred, unable to love-care-share, acting on the instant whim, occasionally violent and a pathological liar. Such women don't want children, they want to have what others have - once they have them one will be feted as "the golden child" and the other(s) denigrated as scapegoats for all ills. The "golden one" will be lied to, subjected to special praise-extra treats-public adulation until they are prised away from the rest of the family. A Psychopath's kids are mere tools for the glorification of the possessor of a semi-human mind resulting from inheriting some unusual DNA.

Without hindsight I learnt enough in the few days after DDay to realise that my then W was seriously disturbed and likely to behave, if left to do so, in ways that would put (again) my kids at risk of severe physical and psychological damage. It was also obvious that she craved the respectability of a stable marriage with husband and kids as the ground which enabled her to hold down a respected position in society. It was good cover but also a constraint - lose it and there would have been no check to her (further but then limited) acceptance of semi-public humiliation and degradation. Due to her job, and mine, and the courts' desire that youngsters should live with their mother (what I knew was largely undocumented and deniable) I would have been absent from their lives for probably 12 out of every 14 days.

And, as far as she was concerned, it wasn't an unhappy marriage. Never once in all our twenty-five years did she suggest we split, or even separate temporarily. I don't suppose she thought it perfect - but she never expressed any more than the most minor and temporary dissatisfaction.

I regarded it as unhappy, but necessary. I had my endgame in place and a date. I fashioned a successful career with a major multinational whilst maintaining sufficient control that we appeared a normal couple to most of those we interacted with (and some of those were, once one got to know them, distinctly ab-normal). My W continued to be unfaithful and to lie incompetently but her behaviour was discreet and, in her work environment, hardly out-of-the-ordinary. I had an alternative, and very attractive, source of emotional and cuddles+ friendship.

The effect on my kids -

the younger, the golden child, became alienated from me, crashed and burned but has recovered, so I understand, to living a decent life with a decent job and a decent partner.

the elder tells me that not only did he never suspect (until I made my move) that there was any tension in the marriage, but it was never intimated to him by those who would have used such knowledge to provoke him to teenage over-reaction (one of which would have been his sibling). He now has a successful small business and a lovely girlfriend/partner.

Was I right? I'll never know - but my conscience is clear, I sleep soundly and readily and the fact that both kids have reached 40 able to have a decent life and good partners is, I suspect, better than that which would have happened had I left.

So - I agree that it is probably better for the kids, in most cases, that their parents split - but it isn't always as black-and-white as some posters appear to imply.
 

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DH and I stayed together for the kids. We've had some real rodeo ride ups and downs. Big mistakes on both sides. Troublesome or no communication for a LONG time, angry outbursts on my part, silence on his part.

Mental health issues and dry sexual spells that would make the Mojave Desert look like an oasis. Job losses, deaths, medical issues etc etc.

Now, here we are, 28 married years later. Kids are young adults, not quite launched. Our sex life is AWESOME. Our communication still needs work but now we agree to disagree or come back to it when both parties are ready.

Goodness, so much time and money wasted on MC.

Am I glad we stayed together for the kids? YUP. It's what got us over the other side of that bleeping mountain. Whatever time we have left we are gonna ride this to the finish line. FINALLY figuring things out.
 
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