Question (from Facebook community): “Are my kids better off if my husband and I stay married or not?”
Have you seen the moving “Sliding Doors” with Gwyneth Paltrow? (Love it.) Gwyneth Paltrow’s character’s life hinges, unknown to her, on whether or not she catches a train, and we see it play out both ways. My entire life has felt like that the past two or so years, since my separation began and into my now-divorced life.
I can picture my old life. Had I not made that one pivotal decision and then had that one pivotal conversation, I would (more than likely) still be married. I would still be living in that sweet little home with the pond view that I adored. My kids would have both parents under the same roof every night.
And those parents would still be fighting almost constantly. And we would still be miserable and dying emotionally more and more each day.
And my kids…my kids would be going to bed each night knowing there was something terribly wrong in their family. They would overhear arguments and words that they shouldn’t have to. They would see their mom cry, again and again. They would see something so wrong but try to convince themselves simultaneously that this is what a Christian marriage looks like along with making themselves promises to never ever have a marriage like their parents’ marriage.
This is such a tricky topic. Some would say that any marriage is better than no marriage as far as kids are concerned. And others would debate that kids need to feel safe and their home should be peaceful, and that is worth the trade-off of a broken home.
I cannot answer this for any family but my own. And here is what I can say.
I stayed in my marriage as long as I did for many reasons but one was that I had promised myself I wouldn’t pass on the legacy of divorce, no matter the cost to myself.
I can also say that one of the many reasons I didn’t stay married was because I couldn’t stand what my son was learning regarding being a husband and what my daughter was learning regarding being a wife. What my husband and I were together was caustic and sad and the opposite of the picture Christ wanted painted of his relationship to the Church.
So on the list of reasons of how I knew I would be able to make it through if I were on the receiving end of a divorce was, at the top, having a few years to attempt to undo the damage our marriage did to our children.
I know my children well enough to know that deep down they wish their parents were together – this is what every child would want – but only if we could have gotten healed together, which just wasn’t happening. And I know my children well enough to know that there is a deep relief now that they are not living in constant chaos.
If you or your children are in physical danger, I believe an immediate separation is in order. Beyond that, only you can answer for yourself, knowing one day you’ll be standing before God to account for your decisions, if your children will be better off growing up within your marriage or not.
Either way, God will not take it out on your children. Either way, they are learning skills that most people don’t learn until adulthood. Either way, they still have a fighting chance at wonderful relationships and a fulfilling life. Either way, God has a plan for them, and it is good. Either way, there is grace. And either way, there is healing. Lots and lots of healing.
If this post helped you, I would encourage you to check out “Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage”, found here.
Yes. No easy answers, but lots of grace.