My parents divorced when I was 17. They had been married for 23 years, and it would be an understatement to say that my sister and I were blindsided by their decision. We had no idea that things were bad, and their divorce completely rocked our world.
It sucked. It was sad, heartbreaking, awkward and pretty much completely awful. But then? It wasn’t. Within a few short years (if even that long) everyone agreed that it was the best thing that had ever happened to any of us.
It made me realize that, while yes divorce is awful and it’s never an easy decision, sometimes it really is the best thing, not only for an unhappy couple, but for their kids as well. I now firmly believe that it is more damaging to children for their parents to remain in a miserable marriage for the sake of the kids, than it is for them to separate and find a new, happier, normal.
Now, I’m not suggesting that every unhappy couple with children should get divorced. I’m not saying that if you’ve hit a rough patch, you shouldn’t work on your marriage. If you think your relationship can be fixed, and you’re willing to work on it, that is obviously something you should pursue.
For those couples who have come to the end of the road and are only staying married because they think it is what’s best for their children, I encourage them to reconsider. While the idea of living in a nuclear family is tempting, and it makes it easy to convince themselves that they’re modeling the correct/proper/healthiest possible behaviors for their kids, in reality, they’re not.
Kids should grow up with happy parents. They should see parents who have a healthy, loving relationship, even if step-parents are involved. They should grow up with an understanding of what a healthy, loving relationship is. They shouldn’t be subjected to parents who are emotionally distant from one another at best, or, at worst, cold and unfriendly to each other.
If a couple is willing to live in the same household and feign interest in one another, I have to believe that they would be able to separate and handle the situation with respect and decency, thus easing the transition for their children. It won’t be easy. It’s not ideal. But in the long run, getting divorced might be the very best thing for everyone involved. Even, or especially, for the kids.
My parents have both remarried and are in happy, loving relationships and my sister and I now have two sets of awesome parents. In fact, both my dads walked me down the aisle at my wedding (see photo above!). While, admittedly, the world turned upside down for a bit during and immediately following the divorce, in the end, it was honestly one of the best things that ever happened to us as a family.
Read Amber’s experience, How My Son Bridged a Two Decade Divide
Photo Credit: Jensen Sutta Photography
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