Sexless ...generation Next (please Read If You Have Kids)

My in-laws have quite an interesting story.  They met in highschool and had my soon to be ex husband (stbx)  while quite young.  My mother in law has told me the details so I know they are true.  My FIL was not a good husband.  He went out all the time.  He drank a lot.  He cheated.  He'd come home with lipstick on his collar....all the stereotypes.  Of course, there was a lot of fighting in the home.  My MIL left when my stbx was 4.     They divorced and my FIL re-married and moved away.  Visitation was scarce.  My MIL that my stbx would wait for his dad to come for a promised visit and he'd never show up.  

Five years later after my FIL's second marriage fell apart, he contacted my MIL and wanted a second go round.  She agreed to try again and moved to be with him in a new location.  She told me herself that the main reason she did it was so my stbx could be near his father.  What an unselfish mother.  That's what I've always thought...giving up her own happiness to make an in tact home for her son.  My FIL's behavior was better and the cheating stopped, but he was still very controlling, selfish, and did what he darn well pleased (hobbies... etc.)  

Well, here we are 30 years later.  My stbx and his sister would both agree, their mom is a very giving unselfish person and they lover her very much.  BUT, DO YOU KNOW WHO THEY ACT LIKE?  THEIR DAD.  Of course they would.  His behavior got rewarded.  He got to do whatever he wanted.  His life was more fun.  And they have NO respect for their mother.  If heard it from my SIL herself.  She thinks she's kind of stupid.  I learned it in psychology 101.   Kids model bad behavior.  Especially if it's rewarded.  

My MIL should've stayed away. 

Here are my questions.  I know we want to prevent the heartbreak out children would have by going through a divorce.  But maybe that heartbreak is a small price to pay in the long run.  If we stay, won't our children repeat this selfish, controlling behavior? If we really want what is best IN THE LONG RUN for our kids.  Staying may not be the right answer.

k145712 k145712
36-40, F
9 Responses Feb 13, 2010

I left in August just after my daughter turned 2. <br />
<br />
One reason I was able to fathom doing so was that I have a good friend whose parents split when she was very young, and it became the new normal to her. She said to me, "I don't remember my parents ever living in the same house. I just had my mom here and my dad there, and that's the way it was." <br />
<br />
So far my daughter seems to be, as my friend suggested, adapting amazingly & surprisingly well. She loves her dad and talks about him frequently, even though we moved cross-country and they only see each other every six weeks or so, and twice a week on Skype. He came in tonight and she did a full-speed run to give him a hug. The rest of the time? She laughs, she plays, she throws tantrums just like any other 2 year old. <br />
<br />
I think, actually, she is happier now than before. Our household with her dad was not openly angry but there was a lot of tension. She is freer and more herself now, and she laughs easier. Possibly because I do. <br />
<br />
The only setback I even suspect is in toilet training. She has accomplished the feat for a few days here or there, but never on a consistent basis. She says, "I'm still a little baby." So that is fine. She has been through a lot of changes this year, with the divorce, and moving away, and me going back to work full-time. I am confident that she is not going to go to college in diapers. <br />
<br />
One good book that helped me along the way: _Divorce & New Beginnings_. Lots of good tips about helping kids of each age and stage adapt to separation and divorce. Big key: kids do better in divorced households than in households that should have divorced but didn't, provided that the divorce ENDS the conflict.

Wow, Enna. Thanks for sharing. I'm sure that was hard to write. Maybe your wisdom can help us who still have small children. <br />
Squirrel, thanks too. I am going to strive to be well aware to the traps single parents fall into.

You are correct. The long run is the important part. <br />
<br />
There are so many variables that factor into the development of children, but I think they generally do better when they are not in the midst of fighting adults all the time. Or one-sided abuse situations.<br />
<br />
It is worse that often one or both of the parents tend to move on to relationships that are much the same as the ones they left, so the children get even more scheisse to deal with. If they really put the kids first, why don't they just stay single for a long while?

I agree with you, Anne... 100%... I had many arguments with my STBX over how I raised my daughter... and I pointed out to him that I was not raising a "perfect child" (which he claimed he had been... and still is... lol... ) I was trying to raise an effective adult... as to my success - well, that's for another story... she does mirror a lot of his behaviour...

Having raised two children to adulthood in a sexless marriage, I now see plenty of evidence in my adult children (both in their thirties) that they have been profoundly (if subtly) affected by this.<br />
<br />
Having been divorced from their biological father when they were young (5 and 6), I was determined to hold my second marriage together "no matter what". As with some others here on ILIASM, I believed that the fact that we had a good relationship other than sex, meant my children would not be adversely affected. . . <br />
<br />
NOT SO!! Both my children are very independent, in great jobs, have heaps of friends, and generally live successful and happy lives EXCEPT for their love lives.<br />
<br />
My daughter cannot allow anyone truly near to her - she demonstrates problems with true intimacy (altho she enjoys sex). My son has serial girl friends but cannot get close enough to one to form a truly intimate relationship.<br />
<br />
So I think my children have unconsciously "learnt" that to be loved they need to behave like their step father . . . I loved him very much and I love them very much. The "lessons" they learnt were that being cool, aloof and avoifding intimacy were the keys to being loved. Now that I see this, I weep with sadness for my mistakes.<br />
<br />
Many people here focus on the children as CHILDREN. But children grow up to be adults - and on average they are adults for at least 4 times as long as they are children. By staying in sexless / intimacy-free marriages, we may actually condemn our children to a life-time of the same . . . <br />
<br />
Surely some temporary distress in childhood can be excused if it results in happy, fulfilled and satisfactory adult lives?? If you are in such a marriage, PLEASE think carefully about my children - and ask yourself if you want the same outcome for your's. . . .

It's scary how easy it is to f up one's own kids. No doubt the answers aren't easy.<br />
Doin' ok...A. Speaking of kids, they don't give me much of a break. Plus now, I have to watch the Olympics. :)

Golightly, I don't know. Both my stbx and his sister would definitely say that they do not want to be the kind of spouse their dad was. But they must act that way in spite of themselves. My x has over the years repeatedly said he would do everything in his power to keep an in tact home for his children. Yet, here his son is 4 (the same age his dad left him) and he is leaving. It can't be a coincidence. It is beyond bizarre and makes no logical sense. The magnet of that learned behavior is just way too strong. He can't even admit that his parent's relationship has any influence on him at all. He "doesn't even remember" the stuff that happened with his dad. He is in complete denial.

I agree with Steve. Get out and make sure the route out of town is the high road. That is the best you can do. It is not a foolproof method that will protect children from all possible pitfalls, but I've seen a lot of divorce in my time and never seen anything work better than this.

This is something I have thought about a lot. My H is really big on "because it is the right thing to do" - but he is a hypocrite. <br />
<br />
So far my son is not fooled. He knows dad does not keep his promises. But it sets up a terrible burden on him. If he needs something, he comes to me because I keep my promise - he will freely admit that his dad won't follow through.<br />
<br />
Then there is the burden on the spouse - if one spouse is unreliable, the other spouse MUST be, but in doing so can not show solidarity with the other spouse and model good marital behavior.<br />
<br />
When it comes to love you can not teach them what a good marriage should be, and if you leave, you might not have that opportunity either. <br />
<br />
That just sucks doesn't it?