Friday, November 13, 2009

Yet...children are not necessarily good for marriage

How do you explain divorce to a 5 year old child? It's hard. It's damn hard. And it's not even my divorce. It's been a bad year in our circle this year. I know of six divorces, and all of these involve couples with children. I've had to do it a lot. Try to explain...the why to my children. And one time is more than enough.

But, why are they getting divorced?

Well...sometimes mommies and daddies really, really try hard, and finally decide that their marriage isn't going to work.

But, why isn't it going to work?

Well, mommies and daddies might have different beliefs, and they just can't agree over time, and they decide to get divorced.

But, why?

Children are an incredible blessing. Yet... children are not necessarily good for marriage. It is a seduction. So...very easy to be sucked up into the vortex of children, missing the fact that your marriage needs tending.

As to explaining the why to my children? I cannot come up with an explanation that fits their understanding. I may understand. I may not understand. No one really comprehends the inner workings of someone else's marriage. It is difficult enough to try and figure out your own marriage.

It feels delicate to me. Marriage. And, perhaps out of my own naivete, I never realized that before. But, I've been married for 14 years now, and as I see marriages fold all around me, I know that nothing is ever certain. And, I need to get out my broom, and sweep away some cobwebs...

submit to reddit


  1. Wonderful post, J. And just plain true. More often than not, when Andy and I disagree, it's related to child rearing or brought about by kid-related stress.

    Growing up with parents who should have never gotten married, I can attest that kids are much better off in two happy parent households than one unhappy.

  2. I almost lost my marriage this year. It is so complicated, but I feel so much joy that my relationship has ben spared.

    I never ever could have realized, back when I was falling in love with him...back when we said I do...what was in store for us. I never ever could have known what it takes to keep a relationship together.

    A deep level of commitment from 2 people. A deep and unwielding love. A willingness to say, today is not my day, and your needs are more important. The ability to agree to disagree and love eachother none the less. The truth, that when you are selfless, with no ulterior motives, that 10 times what you gave away...comes back to you.

    Anyway...some of the things I have learned this year.

    Thanks for your post!!

  3. Falling in love is easy...staying in love is so damn hard. Love this post.

  4. I have always heard kids will either strengthen or destroy a marriage.
    Great post!

  5. I so know what you mean. Trying to explain divorce while avoiding saddling our kids with the worry. So much in life is this way. I suppose we need to remember that it's all part of it. The uncertainty of life and the growing up with it. We can't spare this for our kids and probably shouldn't shield them. They're more resilient than we think, sometimes.

  6. Very well put, JCK.

    I have given this topic a lot of thought also. It's true that children don't make marriage any easier. But for a marriage to end in divorce I think their presence must have masked and/or exacerbated an existing problem in a relationship. I know that was the case in my marriage.

    And here's what I plan to tell my daughter (now almost 6 years old) when she asks about divorce again:

    A marriage ends when a couple discovers a difference in values that they cannot overcome. Shared values are the foundation of every good marriage. Without them and an awareness by each person of what he/she requires of the relationship in order to feel loved in it, a marriage cannot work. And when that happens the couple must decide whether to remain together in unhappiness or to get a divorce and have the possibility of being happy again. It's not an easy decision to make, especially when the couple has children whom they love very much. Some couples decide to stay together, and others decide that divorce is the better option for their family.

    Here's what I told her almost two years ago, when she was just 4 years old:

    There are different kinds of love: the kind that can change, like between a man and a woman, and the kind that never changes, like between parents and children. And, although we really didn't want it to happen, Mommy and Daddy's love for each other has changed. We have been making each other very unhappy for a long time. And we have decided not to live together any more. But we love you and will always love you no matter where we live. And I am very happy that you and I have the kind of love that will never change.

    When one is so young, it can be scary and confusing to think that a family can just come undone suddenly. So, I hope one or both of these perspectives helps you in your conversations with your children.

    And, who knows, perhaps conversations like these can help children grow toward an understanding of what a good marriage requires and possibly even to feel comforted when their parents set aside time alone "in order to make sure that their love never changes."


  7. The couple I work for split in June, and they are now officially filing for divorce. I always thought of divorce as being someone's fault. Now I realize that often both people have made mistakes. How do you explain something to a child, that you yourself can't understand? I simply say, "I don't really know".

  8. Yeah...Ugh. Kids and divorce. I think about this a WHOLE lot. It's true...children are not necessarily good for marriage. They are SO GOOD for each parent's individual lives...but for the marriage...well, that just depends on how well it's tended...and so many other factors.

    Ugh, it's just so hard.

  9. I can't begin to imagine how much stress those little blessings can be on a marriage

  10. It is true that children can be hard on a marriage, but what I have learned from some of my divorced friends is that co-parenting children after a divorce can be the most stressful of all.

    If you think working out your values as far as kids goes in the context of marriage is difficult, it doesn't compare to when you have no control whatsoever over the values your ex-spouse (and his/her new partner) imparts.

    I'm not sure people consider this enough when they decide to split.

  11. You and me both sister.

    (And I think Jenn @ Juggling has nailed the truth in the matter: You continue to parent together and that sounds even more stressful to me.)

  12. You had me at the title.

    And you hit the nail on the head. How do you explain something to a child that adults can't adequately understand themselves?

  13. You said a mouthful. Marriage is one of the hardest possible experiences. Having kids is one of the others.

    Put them together, and it is a wonder that anyone stays together anymore.

  14. All perfectly said, which suggests you're doing fine by your children. Sometimes the most significant, helpful thing we can tell them is that we don't understand either.

    blessings to you & your friends

  15. Great post. I think it is super easy to forget what got you into this. I also think it is easy to take for granted that what you once had will always be there.

  16. Good Post

    I heard a great comment from a client who was married 60 plus yrs.

    "When my husband fell out of love with me, I loved him more. And when I fell out of love with him, he loved me more"
    Definately words of wisdom!

    So hows the massaging going?

  17. we have been lucky, I suppose, in that this is the first year we've had to deal with this, but recently we have a friend (with 2 young boys MQ adores) going through this, and one of her favorite babysitters, and, it seems, several kids in her class. So we are getting simple questions about mommies and daddies living in different houses. but it's heartbreaking. of course, for our friends and their kids, but also for MY KID, who is having to learn that mommies and daddies don't always stay together.


This blog is no longer taking comments.

Copyright © 2007-2014 JCK.

The content on these pages is the sole property of the author and may not be used or reproduced in any manner without consent.

All Rights Reserved.