Is better to stay married for the kids or seek a divorce?

My old man ran off on me when I was 3. Now I have a wife (who I cant stand) and a baby son (who is my saving angel). I dont want the boy to grow up without his father there everyday, but me and my wofe cant be ina room for 5 minutes together without beginning to secretly plot each others demise. And that cant be good for the kid, can it?
So which is the lessor of the two evils?

LAWYER: So, how long have you two been married?

ELDERLY HUSBAND: Seventy years.

LAWYER: Seventy years! And now you want a divorce?!

ELDERLY WIFE: We were waiting for the children to die.

Kind of hard to say without more information, really.

Some couples don’t get along but can keep that sort of thing away from the kids. Some can’t. We also don’t know WHY you and your wife don’t get along and what you have or have not done about it. I mean, there’s a pretty wide range of things that break couples up, some of which really are not worth working through, and some of which are.

My personal view is that divorce is way, way more destructive than people realize, and my personal observation is that people who divorce and their kids are rarely better off for it. Oh, sometimes they are, but not usually.

So you and your wife might want to consider putting legitimate effort into saving your marriage. but liek I said, I have little information to go on.


Counseling, therapy, try to save the marriage, etc. is best, but if you really can’t stand to be in the same room for 5 minutes **after **you try all that, then split up. Be a parent, be a father, work with her as a team when it comes to raising your son. Pay your child support if you’re the non-custodial parent, pick him up when you say you will and enjoy every moment of your visitation. Share his time and achievements generously if you are the custodial parent. Never bad mouth the other parent either way, but also don’t lie to your child and gloss over their imperfections. (“Mommy’s got some trouble keeping a job” is OK. “Mommy’s a lying skanky hobag who can’t keep a job 'cause she’s drunk all the time” is not.)

I know a number of people who are far better co-parents because they no longer live together to push each others buttons. I also know far too many people whose parents stayed together in a toxic marriage “for the sake of the kids” and not a single one of their kids is glad they did. My husband’s folks are like this, and it’s horrible to watch what they’ve done and still continue to do to their kids and each other.

If you can maintain a quiet household and get along socially with her, then that’s one thing. It might indeed be worth raising your child together, even if the two of you need separate bedrooms to do it. But if you can’t be in the same room together, all you’re doing is stressing the kid out.

I dont want to be a dad who picks his kid up on weekends, or for two weeks each summer. Like I said, my old man left me when I was 3. I waited until I was 37 to have a kid because I felt the reason that my old man left was that he was only 17 when he got my mom (who was 15) pregnant. So he had lots of things he wanted to do with his life and the road was calling him. I’ve come to accept that, but at the same time I wanted to make sure that I didnt make the same mistake. But now here I am, in a situation that may be even worse. Today, someone gave me some advice, he told me to see if we can still share a laugh together. If so, then the marriage is salvagable, if not, then… So while I was washing my kids hands after supper, I playfully flicked some water on my wife. She immediately gave me the stink eye and yelled (not in a joking way)“You just got water on me!” Three years ago, we would have laughed about it and maybe even got into a water fight that led to sex. But now, seeing the seething hatred in her eyes, I just played dumb and said, “Oh, sorry.”
I dont want to say anything about her that sounds like I’m bad-mouthing her. It’s just that we are two very different people, with different values, different outlooks on life, the whole bit. The fact that we got married is jsut as much my fault as it is hers. She wasnt honest about her real values, etc in life at the beginning, yet there were signs that I ignored becasue at 33 years of age (when we started dating) I was starting to get anxious to get married and start a family. I should also add that she is ten years younger than me and has become very career-oriented in the past couple of years. At times she seems so self-absorbed that she puts her own best interest ahead of our sons. That’s the thing that makes me think that I cant stand to be with her, but at the same time, if I leave, then I wont be able to watch over my son…
It’s a situation that is getting worse each day.

The parents of the kids next door did this… now not only do they hate each other, but their kids have no respect for either of their parents.

I’m not saying that they shouldn’t try to work things out, but if it’s not going to work out, then staying together for the kids probably doesn’t help things at all.

Hmm… Can’t you have the custody? And anyway being the non-custodial parent isn’t the same thing as running away, like you father did.

Finally, shouldn’t this thread be moved to IMHO?

It seems so cold to say, “I think you should get divorced,” but I think you should get divorced. My parents got a very amicable divorce when I was 10. They agreed to share custody of my brother and I equally, and they further agreed that, in order to maintain equal custody, neither of them would leave the area until my brother and I were eighteen. My brother and I switched houses every week, later every other week. Of my many friends whose parents are divorced, almost all of them are quite close to both parents. None of them have every expressed any lingering bitterness over their parents’ divorce, either. A couple even expressed some relief that it was over.

Your son is so young that, assuming you can get your wife to agree to equal custody, the emotional impact on him would be much, much less than they will be in just a few years.

My mother’s parents stayed in a miserable marriage “for the sake of the children,” and it made for a miserable home life. She didn’t want her kids raised in that kind of environment. Do you really want to be unhappy for the next 18 years? Do you really think that would be better for your son?

Speaking as a child of divorce, “it’s better to come from a broken home than to live in one.”

Divorce. I know that when my own parents divorced, my reaction was one of relief. Living in a house filled with arguing parents is not pleasant.

Speaking as the child of acrimoniously divorced parents, I agree absolutely with the above, with the proviso that it’s only true if the marriage is really unsalvageable - but probably nobody here can figure out that part for you.

Also seconded that being divorced isn’t the same as not being around for your son while he is growing up. After my parents divorced, Dad moved into an apartment only a few blocks away for several years afterward. Frankly, I think my sister and I saw just as much of him after the divorce as before, if not more, and his attention was more focused on us when we did see him.

I totally hear you, and I commend you for being a good parent.

I don’t know where you live, but in more and more places, joint custody is becoming the norm, rather than the exception. Joint custody means that you both get time with him, generally in equal measure. Some parents do a month with mom, month with dad schedule, some two weeks, I’ve even known some that split the week in half. With this type of arrangement, there’s usually a proviso in the divorce decree saying you can’t move more than X number of miles away from his mother (and she can’t from you).

My own parents had a more old-fashioned custody arrangement - I lived with my mother during the school year and went to my dad’s for 7 weeks in the summer and one week at Christmas. While I enjoyed it, I wished I could have seen him more often, even if for a shorter stretch.

There’s also more and more judges who give equal consideration to the father being the custodial parent, especially if the mother has a career which requires a lot of her time and attention. I’m not going to lie to you and say that it’s equal chances - mothers do get primary custody more often than fathers - but if you show the same sort of dedication to your son in front of a judge that you’ve shown here, it’s very unlikely that you’d only see him a couple of times a year.

Divorce, definitely.

I am (very happily) divorced from someone who happens to be an excellent mother. We made absolutely horrible spouses, however. I can tell you that all three of us are 1,000% happier.

<sappy proud parent stuff>Check out my 4yr-old kid, who made his TV debut in a big 2hr made-for-TV drama on TBS in Japan last month, here.</sappy proud parent stuff>


A marriage for the sake of kids is a bad decision; a divorce is a bad decision, but the lesser evil in a lose-lose-situation.

It’s just very important not to drag the kid into your battles - don’t badmouth your wife and so on.

As other posters have said, deserting your wife is very, very different from getting a divorce, but staying active with co-custody or visiting rights.

Another way to think about is this: While you are married, how much quality time can you spend with your kid anyway during the week? How much time could you spend if you have weekend visiting rights, and can look forward and prepare to see him, compared to coming home stressed-out from work, and getting into a fight with your wife, and then trying to spend time with your kid during the week while being married?

You don’t have to be. You can simply live relatively nearby, and see your son as often as you like.

My ex lives about 20 miles away from his kids (from his first marriage), and he hasn’t missed a recital or a ballgame since the marriage ended. When the kids were young, he would drive up and take them to dinner two or three nights a week, in addition to them spending every other weekend with him. In fact, he was *more * present and involved in his kids’ lives after the split, because he made them his priority. It’s easy when you live with them to think that just sharing the same space is actually being there for them. It’s not. His kids always knew that they were the most important thing, and that all they had to do was call, and he’d be there in 30 minutes.

Plenty of parents do the joint custody thing. If your wife is concentrating on her career (which can be good for her and the kid, by the way), all the more time you can spend with your child. Talk to your wife and find out if she wants to keep trying or if she wants to call it quits. If she wants to give it another go, do what you have to do to determine if it’s worth saving. If you live apart, you can still be good parent and have a meaningful relationship with your kid. Good luck.

[proud parent hijack]

That’s one fine-looking kid you got there, DragonAsh. Did he like the acting experience? Does he want to do it again?[/proud parent hijack]

Another one who advocates divorce if there really is nothing left. I’ve seen too many people sticking it out together when their kids are suffering terribly from all the fighting and hatred. Also, the parents serve as terrible role models for what their children will either do as adults or allow to be done to them. It’s an awful situation to force on them all the way around.

My wife and I did actually make a conscious decision to not divorce, even though we both wanted to just walk away from each other, and we made that decision because we thought it would be better for our boys if they had both parents at home. But we agreed that the only way that would work is if we got help making our marriage work. It was the best decision we ever made. Fifteen years later, we’re still together, very much in love, and happier than we imagined we could be back then.

The other side of that coin is that the marriage therapy was bruising (to the ego and psyche) and time-consuming and emotionally draining. Our therapist was a no-nonsense but compassionate fellow of the Promise Keepers persuasion. At least, that’s the persona he appeared to be to us. Maybe he was just really good at role playing.

Here’s why we believe it was entirely worthwhile: Our daughters-in-law tell us, separately and with no prompting, that they consider themselves lucky to be married to loving, considerate, devoted men, when young marriages are failing all around them. Our sons say they’re just doing what they saw Mom and Dad do.

It’s hard for me to not be judgemental of people who say, “Yeah, that’s great for you, but my husband/wife is impossible to live with.” I don’t know what it’s really like to be them, so it’s unfair to judge someone who says that. But my groundless belief is that you at least owe it to each other and the children to make a whole-hearted attempt to save your marriage. Who knows, you may end up changing yourself in ways that make you much happier.

Whynot’s posts said what I would want to say and said it better than me.

But let me add You seem to have set up an ideal of what a Dad does, the reality of your life has tested that ideal and if it is not workable you need to find a way to live up to that commendable idealism in another form. For instance, my Dad was an every Sunday, split Holiday and 2week vacation every year divorced Dad. He also called EVERY bleepin’ night! Drove us crazy – but it was a much, much better situation to grow up in than those two mooks trying to run a household together (married at 23 & extremely different people then and diverged and grew apart even more by the ~12 years later when they spilt) and my Dad was very involved in our lives, very connected with us.

And let me note anecdotally I personally have never met any children of divorce [after the immediate aftermath] who say “I really wish my parents had stayed together”, and I have heard many, many times from adults “I wish my parents had divorced”. OTOH and having said that, I have heard many stories of people longing for connections to absent fathers (and sometimes mothers) and how they felt they need to deal with and overcome that later in life to feel happy and successful. Usually, but no where close to all, of these adults were the products of divorce. So, the key question to me, isn’t divorce/don’t – it is how am I going to maximize my impact and connection with my boy (whether we divorce or not)