I stayed married for a looooong time past the point where I wanted to call it quits. I had a lot of reasons, but they all pretty much boiled down to the fact that all marriages are hard, my religion said I wasn’t supposed to, and my kids. My kids, man! I didn’t want my kids to grow up in a broken home, because, you know, that like totally screws kids up.
Ok, I’m making light of it, but I did feel that way, and I know a lot of you do too. Yes, I’ve read the studies and know that, statistically speaking, kids do better growing up with both a mother and a father present in the home. I also know that one out of every five people on the planet are Chinese, so statistically speaking, if I have five children, one will randomly be Chinese.
Or maybe every situation is unique and can’t be judged by the status quo.
I’m here to tell you -- my kids are so much happier now than they’ve been the last several years. I know it doesn’t make any sense on paper (on screen?), but these kids are thriving in a way they never did when all four of us were living under one roof.
And I’m so grateful for that, because I took a chance and a leap of faith when I filed for divorce and moved out. I’d had an epiphany one day, and the thought stayed with me until I’d made the decision to leave. I had wanted to stay married so that my kids wouldn’t be “screwed up,” but my marriage was DOA, and all of a sudden I knew they’d be screwed up anyway being raised in that environment. It was a rock and a hard place, but I finally decided that I could at least be the best mom I could be; that wasn’t going to happen while I was focusing all my energy and attention on keeping up pretenses.
That's when I put a bunch of money in their therapy jar.
Of course all kids would prefer to grow up in an intact home with a loving mommy and daddy. Duh. But I’ve spent a lot of time talking to adult children of divorced parents, reading personal stories from friends and random strangers on the Internet, dealing with my own experiences, and sometimes that just isn’t an option.
Take this whole divorce thing. I roll my eyes anytime someone insinuates that I’m taking the “easy way out.” There is nothing easy about this, people. Divorce for me, and I’m guessing for the majority of people, is the lesser terrible option when you realize that you’re in a very bad situation.
I would rather still be married. I know my ex would too. But he and I had very different ideas about what we wanted out of our relationship, our family life, our religion, and heck, even just life in general. And the fact of the matter is that we were making each other miserable, and our kids were suffering the consequences.
My 10-year-old daughter said something astonishing to me this morning:
Mom, why do people say divorce is always bad? Our lives are better now.
To be fair, I will mention that not everything has been peachy keen as the dust has been settling. Emotions are still raw all around, and she and her sister have cried a time or two or 27 over the fact that their parents aren’t together anymore.
But she’s right. Things are better. We’re both better parents now that all of our energies aren’t spent dealing with each other, with nothing left over for them.
Of course divorce isn’t an ideal option for kids ... but sometimes it’s the best option.
Do you think divorce can ever be better for kids than staying married no matter what?
Image via Jenny Erikson