You Pay Now - The Kids Can Pay Later.

So although your marriage is dysfunctional, and you'd like to leave your intimacy averse spouse, you have chosen to stay.

"For the kids"

It is a noble sacrifice you are making. It is going to continue to take a toll on your mental health, your self esteem and well being. But with a bit of pharmaceutical help you ought be able to survive. It won't be a real lot of fun, but hey !, the kids come first, and it is far better to provide them with a predictable base. And you have done the right thing. The noble thing. The moral thing.

Or have you ?

YOU are already paying a price for your choice to stick with your intimacy averse spouse, but that might NOT be the end of the price. There will likely be a further price to be paid. NOT by you. But by your kids.

There are your kids. Watching, observing, soaking up what is going on in the house. "Daddys are strong and silent". "Mummys do what Daddy says" The little sponges absorb it all. "Mummys take pills". "Mummys cry". Every little thing, in it goes into those developing minds. "Daddys yell at Mummys". "Mummys look sad". "Daddys and Mummys do not fight, or argue, or touch". The kids education goes on. based on what they see. What they hear. What they feel.

And now, a decade or two has passed, and it is time for the kids to start choosing their own partner for the next stage of their life.

What are they going to base their choice on ? What is going to have been their inspiration, their vision, their experience to bring to this decision ?? Might it be the role models they saw in action during that period ?? What they learned during that time ?

Might your son be prone to behaving like his father, and seek out a woman like his mother to accomodate that ?? Might your daughter be prone to behaving like her mother, and seek out a man like her father to accomodate that ??

Might these kids be condemned to experience their own personal pain by unwittingly choosing to get themselves into intimacy averse marriages ??

Might it be them, your kids, who end up paying the end price of your choice way back when, to "stay for the kids" ??

Worth thinking about I'd suggest.

In the here and now, where you make the choice to stay for the kids, it may seem to be the right thing to do. The honourable thing to do. The moral thing to do.

It may not be so at all. It may well be the kids who end up picking up the tab.

Tread your own path.
bazzar bazzar
56-60, M
29 Responses Jun 22, 2012

This is the one! This is the story I read that hit me like a tonne of bricks. You posted this 8 days after I joined, and it was exactly what I needed to hear. See my comments below?!?! I was "staying," but the thought of my kids learning that my dysfunctional deal was normal and that they themselves might settle for a refuser one day scared me into action. I wouldn't wish a sm on my worst enemy, let alone my own children.

Baz you helped save my life, and I mean that sincerely.
Thank God for you and Enna!!!

As it panned out, you gave yourself a shot at being a happy fulfilled woman.
And, you provided an example to your kids that sometimes life confronts you with very very difficult choices, and you provided them with a hands on tutorial of how to go about that process.
You have already reaped some of the reward of the process of fully informed choice.
I'd be staggered if your kids have not learned a whole heap as well.

I'm trying to show some more backbone in dealing with my wife now. I used to do what she liked (nothing physically), but then, with that gaping hole in our relationship, I have a real hard time showing any affection. Because I don't get affection back. And certainly not anything physical.

During our last meaningful conversation, where she actually listened to me, I asked her if we could start acting like we loved each other. While this has merely gotten her to stop "dissing" me in front of the kids, and has us going to movies more often, that's about all. Well, at least we might sit on the couch together while watching a movie, and TOUCH!

Pathetic, but a quantum leap from where we were. And maybe the kids will now see how normal people should behave toward each other when they are in love. And my prayers have been answered by my daughter's boyfriend, who seems to be an excellent role model for how HER relationship should be. She thinks she's asexual (like my wife, which kills me - but that's the 1/2 genetic thing Baz talks about). I keep praying that she'll get a healthier attitude and I'm trying to provide myslef as a better role model.

I completely agree Baz, but I also think that kids make their own choices no matter how they are raised, I know I've said it before, but I never wanted to be with a man like my dad, and then end up like my mom myself.
They have their own dysfunctions, and I hate that picture of them.
But yes, why not expose your kids to a positive loving picture so that they live a happy childhood to begin with, and then they can hopefully make better choices in life.
So yes, I completely agree, I also said "I stay for the kids"
now I say "I'll leave for my kids sake".

If you have ploughed through all the comments up to here, congratulations. There are a lot of well constructed arguements for and against about the 'better' environment aren't there

Now, here is something else to throw into the mix.


Your kids are carrying half YOUR genes (which may make them prone to be attracted to a refuser, like you were)
Your kids are carrying half your SPOUSES genes (which may make them prone to be attracted to someone they can refuse, like your spouse does)

So there is a double whammy in effect here.
1 - the environment
2 - the genetics

That puts the kids involved in an ILIASM shithole with a vastly increased risk of carrying this affliction into their adult lives.

The genetics you can do nothing about.
The environment (in so far as leaving them exposed to it) you can.

Tread your own path.

if my children ended up in a marriage like the SM that i had, i would encourage and help them leave. i would be devastated to have THEM spend their lives like that, and i acknowledged that is was not a loving choice for me to stay either..we have split - .i definitely think my daughters seeing their Mom (and Dad) pursuing happiness is a good thing.

I suspect it's a rare child who discusses the details of their sex life with their parents, while they can still avoid the subject. I only spoke with my parents on this matter once it had become almost unavoidable (i.e. why I'm leaving her...).

So I suggest you're unlikely to know what's happening in your child's marriage.

i am in my 50's. my Dad knows what happened in my SM, as i've considered my family a resource for me and have sought help of all kinds. my kids are teens. i am modeling loving behavior. i do think they will talk to me. regardless if they do or do not, it's in their best interest and mine if i model healthy.

Well, so does mine now. But I didn't discuss my sex life with my parents in the early years of my marriage, at the time that the dysfunctional foundations were being laid, and I believe that I'm not unusual in that (hell, I didn't discuss it with anyone, not even my closest friends). So as a parent I don't think I can rely on later intervention to help my child if they end up repeating the pattern. I believe my ex and I were setting my daughter a bad example - it needed to stop.

Yesterday I asked the therapist when he thought the best time to leave was, if I decide to go ahead with divorce... He said obviously there is no "good" time in a child's life for their parents marriage to fall apart, but he felt the earlier the better. He said teens are going through enough already, so to make your exit sooner than later. I guess the pressure is on for me to get off the fence. As painful as things may be, a decision has to be made.

Agree.. I am divorced and remarried.. my ex is still a nightmare.. I feel for my two boys who live with her.. but they do get to see a different way of being in my new marriage.. there are many of us who are affected in this system... it's never as simple as black and white...

One of the huge problems in any marriage break up is the emotional maturity of both parents. If BOTH spouses are mature and have true love and empathy they will work together to make the children's experience has trouble free as possible. Too many times one parent uses children as pawns to further their self righteous attitude. This is usually the parent who refuses to acknowledge her or his part in the ending of the marriage. "Everything was perfect. I never knew there were problems". Only an idiot would say these things. Of course this spouse is getting all they want. A house and security and lots of meaningless stuff at the graces of the worker providing all the stuff. <br />
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Sometimes a bit of pity sex is tossed in just to maintain the status quo but it is always given after a period of begging. So marriage ends up being prostitution for favors. I can respect a *****. It is upfront and the transaction is understood by both parties. I have no respect for a wife who dangles sex in front of her husband to get a new stove, car, television, or vacation. A ***** is a ***** whether a wife or a streetwalker and I do respect those who walk the streets. At least they are honest! I stand by this and will always do so! Peace,D

Sometimes children grow up to be compassionate respectful human beings and sometimes they do not but become self righteous prigs. Having a child is a crap shoot. Whatever way the dice rolls the adult is formed. I now believe it is more nature versus nurture. I was raised in one of the most dysfunctional environments possible and I still had the ability for compassion and under standing of others. Why everyone that ever got to know me told me that I was different. A word that eventually made me quite uncomfortable. <br />
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Even my dear husband has told me that I am incredibly different than anyone else he has ever known. Strangers would open up to the most intimate parts of their lives and then draw back a bit. Ask me why? I judge no one or anything they do or have done unless it is intentionally cruelty. On that I must always call a person for there is no excuse in my mind. How I see life maybe quite different. So many people get bogged down in certain religious doctrine. Taking some time to read about these doctrines shows me that it is all ba<x>sed on control and fear. The end result is always money and power.<br />
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Religion makes us weak. Believing in some lovely fairy tale. Why so many couples exist for years in SMs because of some doctrine that has been pounded into their head at a young age. How many people were killed in the Bible to further Christianity? Millions. How many people did Satan kill? One. Look it up.<br />
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I read facts even though many of them have been used to serve agendas according to the Bible. I also read a lot of science. I believe in what can be proven. Fairy tales are nice but not reality. I no longer believe in organized religion. All they want is money and blind followers. I believe and follow the spiritual humanist take on life. The divine can live in all of us and we are all worthy. This way I can cast aside those who intentionally hurt me to their own demise. I also can elevate my soul with acts of kindness and compassion when called upon. In this I have found my own peace.D

I stayed for my kids. My husband stayed for his kids. The end result is that all four of our children despise us. We chose to take the high road and not assign blame. Our exs whined and cried and got sympathy and support from family because everyone felt sorry for them. We were destitute financially and no one gave a damn. It was only my friends in America who gave us shelter and support. <br />
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We now have a bit of money between us and are soon to make out our wills. Everything that we have will be divided between our friends in America. It is the right thing to do and we both agree that those who chose to love and support us will be the proper recipients of anything we work for. The rest can go to hell! These wills will be iron clad. Remember folks that in the end it all boils down to money. The vultures will appear after we have passed on and they will be left with empty bellies. We rejoice in this fact. It is a lesson after all. Peace,D

After re-reading this story and comments, I believe that it is better for children to see at least one parent functioning and happy then to see two parents going through the motions of existing until the children are out on their own. Ending a SM can offer this example of a parent to a child. One who regains self respect and one that they can count on for a stable emotional grounding. <br />
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Living in fear of one's children's rejection is as bad as living with a refuser only the war is now being fought on two fronts. To think that any child can be fooled for long that Mommy and Daddy are all right when a front is being played out day after day is an illusion. <br />
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Therapy taught me that when a child recognizes a problem between the parents, he or she automatically believes that it is their fault. Guilt slowly piles up as the child tries to fix the problem not having the wisdom to realize that this is between the parents. As guilt grows, so does anger and resentment. Between spouses. Between children and parents. <br />
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It is a sad situation all around. As with all things in life, there are no guarantees that leaving a SM when children are younger will keep them close to you as they grow up but every case I personally know of has turned out this way. We who stayed until the children were adults seem to be the parents easily dismissed.

Leave aside whether this is child abuse for a second, ok? A parent (or both!) in a SM can easily explain to their kids why marriage was a terrible experience for them and therefore risky business for the kids and generally not worth it. This IMO would have a HUGE influence on the kids, who may really not marry at all. My point is, even if the influence of the SM on the kids is very strong, its /polarity/ is unclear. In the above example, the kids will definitely not have a SM, no M at all. Now extend this to the co-parents making it less polarized, but teaching the kids seriously how to search themselves and potential partners for what they want in a marriage. If most kids are so dumb that they cannot learn, by their 18th birthday, from big mistakes made by their parents, esp. when assisted by said parents, what hope is there for humanity?

Ulae, there speaks the parent of a young child. As your child gets older, you will recognise more easily that "telling them what to do / not do" is not particularly influential. We are all much more likely to be influenced by our subconscious which has absorbed the "lessons" we have observed over time,rather than by our conscious which cvan recall being "told" what to do or not do.

Um, not sure. I am pretty different from my parents. They are risk averse, I have a balanced outlook to risk. They had ho-hum careers, unlike me. They had a good marriage, I don't. They are culturally closed, I am not. They each did one job their whole lives, I did not. How am I similar? I enjoy and am good at music, like my mom. I paint and sketch well, like my dad. I am not much good at sports, like both my parents. So you see, it's a fairly random pile.

Wonderful post. I left my first marriage for the kids and they are thriving.....their father is even a better father now that he can't just dump them on me. In my experience most people that claim they are staying for the kids are full of crap...they just don't want to make what is a difficult and painful decision and it's easy to use the kids as a convenient excuse. You teach them how to treat people and be treated, so take this responsibility seriously.

I couldn't comment on this right away... I had to reread and let it float around my brain for a bit. You've scared the sh*t out of me. Like I said before, I feel this is a lose-lose situation (for me anyway). At least now I will be more cognisant of my behaviour. Since I am staying, I will have to try even harder to pretend that everything is well with our marriage. I can picture it now, I will kiss my husband good-bye when he leaves for work and when he comes home. Call me June Cleaver. Seriously though... this really did strike a chord. Thanks for writing this "story."

I'm sorry to say that pretending doesn't cut it. It only teaches your children that, when you are unhappy, you should pretend otherwise and "suck it up". Do you want them to do this in THEIR future lives?

Thank God for enna! :)

I wouldn't wish this misery on my kids, let alone my worst enemy :(
Still here, pretending to be happy... not being very successful at it.
Maybe the lesson my kids will learn will be not to stay in a relationship that is dysfunctional like their parents.

For them to learn it they will have to see you leave a dysfunctional relationship and get healthy yourself. When they can compare before/after then they will see and have clarity about it. No matter how much pretending you do, they have to see the contrast between dysfunction in the marriage and better functioning after to understand what a functional marriage (or even a functional relationship with yourself) looks like.

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How about teaching the kids that the world is changing fast and marriage is no longer an interesting process or institution? How about teaching them that human sexuality as in duets is obsolete and the future is all about solo until environmental toxins neuter all humanity? A dose of "Brave New World", perhaps?

which will then float through space and land in another planet's counterpart of San Francisco.

There's no easy answer to this. None. This isn't a black and white question of leave or stay and your kids won't suffer trauma. Everyone's situation is very different. I don't think a reductionist approach is helpful to anyone. You might think things would have turned out better if you'd done something different, but maybe they would have turned out worse.

My father was an alcoholic and, when he drank, terrorized my mother and his mother who lived with us. Obviously this had a huge effect on me however I did see a lot of affection and laughter between my mother and father during his long periods of sobriety. Dad did eventually join AA and life was good from that point on until his terminal illness. <br />
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I also was influenced by my close aunt and uncle who showed affection and humour to one another. Perhaps this was enough to instil in me a respect for these adults and thus, giving me my own grounding and inner strength. A bond between me and my parents who are both gone but never gone from my heart. <br />
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What my children saw in my husband was a total lack of respect for me most of the twenty years that we were married. In those years they absorbed how he felt about me and now neither of them speak to me. <br />
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I kept quiet about a lot going on between me and their stepfather. My main goal was to see both of them grown and independent. Then it would be my time for a life away from the fear and disrespect. Well, that has happened however they now place no value in me as either a mother or as a human being. <br />
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Rob, my kind and supportive husband has received exactly the same treatment from his son and daughter. They saw him ridiculed by his ex throughout their formative years and both also jumped on that bandwagon. He was only valued for what he materially provided and when he left to make a new life after twenty five years of marriage with little financially, he was dropped from their lives. <br />
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With hindsight, we both would have left much sooner but believed that staying for our children would establish a lifelong connection. It is just the opposite. All four adult children have disowned us. As a result we are banned from our grandchildren's lives. The fact that all four of our adult children have made it a point to tell us that we will never be a part of these tiny precious beings lives is appalling and a cruelty that neither Rob or I can relate to in any way.<br />
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A lot of people divorce and it appears that the chances of a successful continuation of the parent/child bond is in direct proportion to the mental health and emotional intelligence of the parents. Toss in the ability to recognize that the marriage had huge problems between both parents and not placing blame goes a long way in keeping this bond strong.<br />
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As in both Rob's and my case, the exs extracted every ounce of venom possible on us. Rob's children and family were told to take sides. My ex was mentally ill and said and did things intentionally to turn my children against me. His suicide made him a saint and I am blamed. <br />
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However, our four adult children are intelligent and they knowingly made their choices. No one forced them to do so and they do not get a pass. That they choose to use our grandchildren as innocent pawns in this is unforgivable. <br />
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Looking back neither Rob or I would have married our exs but, once in one tries to make the best of things until it becomes unbearable. It seems to be a roll of the dice however both of us stayed for the kids and that was a huge mistake. Leaving when they were much younger may have given relationships a chance. At the least, perhaps they would have respected us for leaving once they gained some maturity. <br />
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Something else I would like to add here. At one time the thought of my children turning their backs on me would have destroyed me. It hasn't. They are married and with good jobs and own their own homes. They have their lives of choice and I now have mine. I would never have predicted this estrangement because I thought I knew who they were. In our case staying for our kids were two of the worst decisions we ever made. Peace,D.

Dartist, this situation is the one which many people fear. They fear it if they leave; they fear it if they stay. It is the most heartbreaking and despair ridden of all outcomes. That it should have happened to you and Morph, two of the best people in the Universe, is so incredibly unfair and tragic. Thank you for sharing with us what must be one of your own greatest heartbreaks. {{{Hugs}}}

Thank you for sharing Dartist. I'm sorry for your estrangement. I wonder what your grown children would feel if they read the heartache and anguish on this site. Would they understand your pain and forgive you? Have you ever tried to explain to them what caused the demise of your marriage? It sounds like you are in a good place in your life now, despite your profound losses. Best regards to you.

awesome point, although I wonder how much my kidz notice because they have autism, and one of them can't talk so I do wander what he knows. <br />
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in front of others we seem like a content couple but when the kidz are in bed, its like room mates that put up with each other.

I think children on the spectrum are already behind the 8-ball in this area no matter what. Why? A corollary to research on families with a child with ASD seems to be a shifting of parents into much more traditional gender roles, mother as primary caregiver with no outside work or part time work at most, fathers throwing themselves into work as an avoidance strategy as well as fear of the financial future. So right from the get-go the relationships kids with ASDs see, even if loving, are not necessarily going to mesh with the fluid roles and wealth of options both men and women may desire in this day and age. I worry about this a lot for my own son.

Many of you know where I stand on this - firmly in the court of "leave". Did I do it? No. And it is one of the most profound regrets of my life. I acknowledge this because, as with everything to do with SM, it s only helpful to share with others if weare truly honest about ourselves and with ourselves.<br />
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I cannot remember which very wise ILIASM member recently said something along these lines - I hope they come back to this thread and say it again as it was invaluable. . . It was along these lines:<br />
"In an ideal world, a child (children) get to live with two parents who love them and love each other in the fullest sense of the words. In an SM, that bird has flown . . . "<br />
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Recognising that the "ideal" of the two parent marriage is already a non-starter may help those in this battle to see that they are attempting to preserve something that is already absent.<br />
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My two adult children are both in their late thirties. Both are successful people with productive lives, good friends and enjoy a wide range of life activities and experiences. My son has not had a long term relationship since his early twenties. He has many girlfriends but these relationships are never deeply meaningful.<br />
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My daughter was deeply in love with a man she lived with for twelve years before his depression drove them apart. He later committed suicide. Since then she has had a number of short term relationships.<br />
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Recently my daughter gave birth to her first child, my little grand-daughter. The pregnancy was unplanned and unexpected, and due to her age, my daughter decided to progress with it nevertheless. The baby's father has abdicated any responsibility and refuses to even meet the baby.<br />
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Thus the dysfunction is progressing to yet another generation.<br />
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My parents remained together for the over fifty years of their marriage. Much of it was unhappy, but in those days there was no thought of leaving. How much of my attitude to, and behaviour towards, my two spouses was influenced by seeing this?<br />
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Counter, you make a good point when you say you can not run a control experiment - but this is true of everything in life. Simply by staying, you ARE running an experiment - altho' it might not seem that way at present.<br />
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Almost all families have dysfunctional aspects. It is impossible to accurately tease out which of those dysfunctions contributes to which behaviours and attiudes - but we can make an educated guess about some of them. When we see the effects of these dysfunctions longtitudinally, we can begin to piece together the "why" of certain problems we experience and our children may experience.<br />
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Those of us with adult children who have NOT left our SMs (either because we "stayed for the kids" or for other reasons) are generally vocal about why it did NOT benefit them. We see the effects of our choices "unto the second and third generations" and it is painfully sobering to realise that we MIGHT have been able to avoid this happening, had we acted differently . . . . . <br />
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There will always be some who say that they stayed and their children are/were entirely unaffected. And hopefully that is true. Sadly, I wonder if some of these statements are more akin to the similar one which says:<br />
"I was beaten as a child and it did me no harm, so I see no harm in beating my children."<br />
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The most vexed of all situations are the ones faced by those of you who fear that, by leaving your spouse, you are exposing your children to physical and or emotional neglect or abuse. I have the most profound sympathy for you because your's is a truly unanswerable situation.<br />
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In the end, each of us must do what we think is best in our own situations. All I would say is this:<br />
PLEASE don't stick with the old maxim of "staying for the kids is best" without really truly thinking it through at every level and deciding if this is right for YOUR kids. Don't just accept that this is a "truth" - it most definitely is NOT true in many situations. If you go down this road, be sure it is really true for you and your's.

Ha, that was me. Just trying to point out that of course children are best raised in a stable loving home with two bio parents. But in an SM, that's not there anymore. I think I used "that train has left the station".

But I don't believe that there is any way of knowing what is the better option for children at the point where you're faced with the choices - particularly when you're in a civil marriage. I'm not even sure it's possible to judge in retrospect. But you can say that you're already living in a sub-optimal situation. You can change it for another sub-optimal situation. It may or may not turn out better for your child.

My parents divorced. My mom was a narcissist and my dad an alcoholic. It definitely was not a happy marriage. My mother was happier divorced. Did it help me? No. Of course I was 18. Did it help my brother? Almost definitely. But that was more because of our loving and supportive grandfather. But with a narc parent and a step parent, there was no one to advocate for me when decisions were made. Turns out my stepfather was able to form his own opinion about me later and we got on fine, but in the early years my mother fomented discord as she feeds on the drama and we both fell for it.

Hi Baz. The trouble is, we don't get to run a control experiment and live out parallel versions of our lives. Life A) stay in the marriage till the kids are grown up and see how they turn out, and Life B) leave the marriage and see how the kids turn out and then go back and choose the best path to follow. So without that fortune-telling ability it's very hard to see which path will be the most damage limiting. <br />
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My counsellor said to me that no-one escapes childhood unscathed. Everyone has a story along the lines of: my parents divorced and it screwed me, or my parents should've divorced and it screwed me, or I was from a single parent family and it screwed me. As a parent you feel you are damned if you do and damned if you don't. <br />
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I think you left your marriage when your children were grown up? How was your relationship with your wife when they were little? (primary school age for example, like mine are). If you were unhappy then, do you think you could have left when the kids were very young? Not trying to be deliberately provocative, just genuinely curious. It is of course hypothetical but I am wondering if you regret now not leaving earlier, when they were in the formative years?<br />
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The staying for the kids argument is kind of a moot point for me as I have had a huge revelation today, in the aftermath of The Talk. The tremendous pain I felt when I suggested breaking up with my husband contained a high proportion of remorse for my children - but was predominantly remorse for him and his suffering. I couldn't bear to be the cause of his pain and grief and witness the self-slander that it elicited in him (the self-slander tendency is an ingrained blight on his life). The kids are indeed a very real factor but the guilt towards him is my greatest enemy ...

Your current pain and guilt about your husband are natural at this time. It is where your focus lies now - asit should. But in time, this focus fades, and then you will see more clearly that the kids are the ones for whom this pricve may be too high to pay. Remember, both you and your husband are the ones who exercised choice in this situation - the kids didn't get one. Be sure your choices honour their needs too.

My two kids were nearly adult when I left MsCR. And both (boys) have unhealthy attitudes about women. One is intimidated by them and has had no relationship of consequence with one. The other treats them very disrespectfully, tossing them aside at will. I don't think me staying helped one bit.

Sobering and thought provoking. As a slight digress, do you think that ultimately parental behaviour and the home environment are the ONLY influence on children? Yes it's of course highly formative, but as a parent it is our egotistical perogative to assume we are fully responsible for their development.

I am also interested in the other developmental factors that are beyond our control. Extended family influences (esp grandparents, step parents), societal and cultural aspects, advertising, TV, their friendships and sibling relationships, schooling, their diets even. And also their own inherent or 'organic' natures that they are born with (both my boys are very different, even as babies!), their own "karma" if you like, that is uniquely expressed by them in response to the myriad of environmental influences.

Nature vs. nurture....

Baz you will never know if your boys would have turned out differently had you left the marriage earlier. They may not have - it may have made things worse for them! As a parent it is our burden to blame ourselves for our children's shortcomings. It is just not possible to know what alternative realities may have existed.

The home environment is acknowledged by researchers as NOT being the most profound influence in certain sectors - such as decisions about social behaviour.
But when it comes down to spousal and partner roles, the home experience is profound. One of the saddest things is that even where someone consciously decides NOT to be like a parent, their unconscious may still strongly influence them to make choices based on the legacy they have from their parent/s.

What you say is reasonable enough MsCR. This whole scenario is a matter of informed choice. If someone has truly turned that matter upside down, inside out and made an informed choice, then that is all anyone can do. The thrust of this post was to challenge the truism that you "stay for the kids". It seems to me to be a very high risk strategy to do so. Will the risk turn into injury ?? Who's to know. In my case, with my kids, I believe injury was sustained.

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Another story that should be stickied, if EP had such a thing. It's a shame they don't, and that new folks arriving every day miss out on some priceless nuggets of wisdom.<br />
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I'm another one who stayed not "for my kids", but "because of my kids". There's a difference, the latter being more selfish than altruistic. I'm crazy about my kids and I couldn't stand the idea of only having them with me on a part-time basis. I don't kid myself otherwise, nor do I think that we've done them any favors by sticking it out.<br />
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My kids are 19 and 16 now, and the damage you warn of almost complete. I now find myself in the awkward position of having to make a move soon, or manufacture a new and much shabbier excuse for my inaction.

It is honesty like this that makes this board such a valuable resource.

I get the feeling I had something to do with the timing of this post.<br />
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Do I think staying in a bad marriage at all costs, just for the kids, is the answer? No.<br />
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But...<br />
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I only have my own experiences to draw from. As a child, I feared that my parents would divorce, every time I heard them argue. I'm not sure why it terrified me so - maybe because I saw my aunt and uncle's bitter divorce and the effects it had on my cousins. <br />
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When I was 18, my parents finally divorced. It was extremely difficult for me, even at that age. After my mom moved out, I got to listen to my dad ***** about her and how much money he had to send to her every month. She struggled financially while taking care of my younger sisters. Holidays became a logistical nightmare, and they still are. My dad is still bitter. And I've gotten to watch my parents go through multiple other partners that in most cases were even worse relationships (IMO). So I'm not sure how I benefitted from my parents getting divorced.

You didn't benefit from your parents being married either. Their relationship was the problem. Too many people focus on divorce as the problem, when in fact it is how the two people choose to relate to each other, talk about each other and choose to unite or divide their union as co-parents that matters to the kids. If your parents had been civil but each was loving to you separately and took the high road when dealing with each other as adults and parents should be, wouldn't that have benefited you? The problem wasn't the divorce. It was your parents' maturity, choices, victim/blaming mentality and so on. I say that as someone whose parents divorced when I was a young adult and they have gone on to be happier people in happier relationships. They had to do hard work to get there. Neither is particularly happy about the other one, but there's no bitterness. That work on themselves also allowed them to each find healthy partners and remarry. Divorce isn't a problem unless the people in it are problematic and choose to get locked in it instead of moving forward.

Amazing, insightful story.<br />
I swear, your writing could be in magazines. <br />
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Every person who is ILIASM with a kid should read this.<br />
Definitely something that should strongly be considered.

I am busy right now trying to unteach and re-teach my precious daughter. It is extremely difficult because she is a young adult and can reject my new teachings. I can't tell you how many conversations have gone something like "well YOU did x, y, z when I was growing up" and having to counter with "and, K, that was the wrong thing". She resents it. She learned to treat me like crap from the dysfunctional relationships we were in. It's difficult and she's suffering because of it. She re-writes history and has problems giving me credit for anything positive. <br />
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Princess StayingDoesNotBuyRespect

Dartist had a story recently about this too. I think you commented on it. When we stay for the kids and think we are being noble somehow we think they will recognize that as a sacrifice we made for the well being of the kids. Ultimately it doesn't win respect... it teaches poor relational habits that continue to the next generations.

While some around here are martyrs, my impression is that very few of those martyrs expect an epitaph from the kids. Most will never tell their kids what happened (or didn't) and why they stayed nevertheless.

So true.

I used to be a proponent of the position that you must stay for the kids absent physical abuse, that mere unhappiness and dissatisfaction did not merit breaking up the family unit. Obviously, I can no longer advocate for this position with the same moral force since filing for divorce back in March. It is certainly worthy of consideration whether by modelling being a willing participant in a dysfuctional union, I am condemning my children to repeat my mistake, as the SM is not something I would wish upon my worst enemy, let alone my own kids. More that that, even, was the realization that my intimacy deficient marriage was a constant source of tension and distraction, sapping much of my joy and happiness and rendering me a less attentive, available and empathetic parent than would otherwise have been the case.

Yesterday I had lunch with DD, who is currently in crisis in a relationship. <br />
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The facts are:<br />
- She is in her first relationship with a woman.<br />
- The woman has said she does not love her.<br />
- The woman comes from an extremely different background from my DD and they do not see eye to eye on most anything... religion, children, how to live, where to live, career aspirations, importance placed on education, financial solvency, importance of family in our lives and so on<br />
- On many of the things above I believe DD's girlfriend has a better healthier view than my own DD. <br />
- A month ago GF convinced DD to move out of her place and come live with her, then broke her lease and started couch surfing. DD has "gone along with her" but is seething inside. She is someone who values her privacy.<br />
- They fight a lot and when not fighting it's because DD is swallowing her needs and starting to have migraines, stomach aches and break out in hives.<br />
- "But I love her and I just know if I do everything just right, she will love me too soon."<br />
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BS.<br />
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The conversation went along the lines of "I know with you bio parents you saw extreme dysfunction, you experienced physical, emotional and sexual abuse. That is not normal and I want you to listen to me tell you that what you are experiencing now is not normal either. This relationship is not healthy, there are many red flags and I do not think you will be mostly happy in this relationship although you may stay in it a long time just to try."<br />
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But I had to admit something else to her... while I stayed for the kids because I was sure in my case not being blood to them I would lose access to them before they were of age, they also did not see the best examples in my relationship with my X either.<br />
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"I know you saw me struggle for years to fight against (ex) and bang my head into a wall trying to make him hear me, love me, accept me, value me. You watched that happen and now you think that is normal. I am here to tell you it is not normal, healthy or what I want for you. You deserve better. I deserved better."<br />
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Later in the conversation I could tell she is going to keep doing this until she can't stand it anymore and so I said so. "I want you to hear me so that you don't have to keep hurting yourself by these choices and I can see in your eyes you can hear me... but I can also see you aren't going to do anything differently, are you?" "I don't know. I honestly don't. But I do hear you." came the reply.<br />
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That's as good as it can get at that point I suppose. <br />
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They watch and learn. They hear things we don't think they hear. They see all, even the stuff we don't see in ourselves and our relationships. Staying for the kids does not hold water with me anymore. <br />
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Leaving for the kids is the noble thing. I don't know if I would have left much, much earlier because of my concerns about them not being biologically mine. But I stayed longer than I should have. And now she is too. <br />
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I don't blame myself for that. If anything I've given her a different model to learn from now. But I see her following my path.

Change, many of us with adult children are in this situation - our epiphanies have come too late to ameliorate the effects of our SMs on our children. For me, this is is perhaps the greatest regret of all.

I agree from my heart, enna. It is why I am most frustrated by posters who say they are staying for the kids. You don't know what has happened until it has happened. And then the best you can do is live something different now and hope they still watch and learn from you now.

" .....It is why I am most frustrated by posters who say they are staying for the kids....."

-----could not agree more. Out of all the possible excuses/reasons to stay, this one is the most potentially damaging, IMO.

Brilliant!! Rated way up! <br />
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For me, I certainly felt part of the reason I left was for my kids. Its over a year and a half down the track now and they are thriving. I co-parent and have them four days a week and during the time elapsed, I learned how much they actually knew and also how deeply they felt about it. <br />
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I have always been upfront with them and tried my best to explain what happened with sensitivity and without negativity. They are happy to accept that some things can wait till they are older before they understand them.<br />
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In the aftermath, I also learned that they know who is reliable, truthful and has their back. They share openly with me and are openly affectionate. I have also seen reluctance to tell their mom if they have an issue with her and how they know she is self-interested to the point of at times being disengaged from them. Kids need at least one functioning parent to be their anchor and I mean emotionally and mentally robust and healthy. <br />
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My two cents - you can only be that parent when you have a conducive environment in which you can be yourself, where you can be vulnerable so that you can weave and imbue your kids with the care and nurturing they need. Leaving enabled this for me.

"Kids need at least one functioning parent to be their anchor and I mean emotionally and mentally robust and healthy.

My two cents - you can only be that parent when you have a conducive environment in which you can be yourself, where you can be vulnerable so that you can weave and imbue your kids with the care and nurturing they need. Leaving enabled this for me. "

Daddys and Mummys dont fight, argue or touch in this house. And I am blissfully ignorant to believe it does no harm. At least this is how I act on the outside. My time is coming, albeit slow. It's posts like these that keep me grounded to my truth. The truth that doesn't seem to go away no matter how hard I try. Thanks, Baz.

Baz, thanks for expanding your comment into a story. My ex and I didn't have children, but I think I can imagine how much more difficult leaving would have been if we had. <br />
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I've heard from a number of adults who were aware their parents weren't happy together, and wish the parents had split up sooner instead of being miserable. The kids know. <br />
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My life growing up was "Daddys and Mummys do not fight, or argue, or touch". Later, it was "Daddy's dead, and we don't talk about him any more." Not good.