Gransnet forums


Staying together for the sake of the kids - does it ever work?

(72 Posts)
Kandinsky Fri 08-Jan-21 08:44:54

Can I just say - this is not about me.

I have a couple of friends/ family members who, over the years, have fully admitted that if wasn’t for the children they would have left their husband.
So I often wonder if once the ‘honeymoon period’ is over ( 5 years? ) a lot of people end up not really liking their other half but stay out of convenience & responsibility, even if they’re unhappy?

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts.

Lucca Fri 08-Jan-21 08:53:30

Interesting. Not easy in RL perhaps for people to admit to that scenario
. I did but then if I am honest I married on the rebound and because I was “ready” formarriage and children.
It’s a very daunting prospect to leave a marriage and I still hate remembering the sadness of when I finally did.

EllanVannin Fri 08-Jan-21 08:53:42

It's hard to say not knowing the circumstances of the situation.

Gwyneth Fri 08-Jan-21 08:57:55

What is RL?

Kandinsky Fri 08-Jan-21 08:59:25

Real life.

sodapop Fri 08-Jan-21 09:02:45

Real life Gwyneth
It's such a personal thing staying in a marriage with children. If you can keep things amicable and there are no issues of abuse etc then I think its possible. I certainly tried to do this but left once the children were adults.

Gwyneth Fri 08-Jan-21 09:11:03

Thank you Kandinsky and sodapop

M0nica Fri 08-Jan-21 09:29:02

Again, no personal knowledge, but I think it depends on how the parents arrange it. If they both whole heartedly commit themselves to sustaining the marriage for the sake of the children and work on it.

But if they just do it on a 'business' basis, it can be harmful. I had a friend whose parents stayed together for the sake of the children. They had a big house and virtually lived seperate lives, if one came into the room the other was in, the temperature fell by several degrees and they acted as if the other wasn't there. There were no rows. My sister and I stayed with them once, it was really uncomfortable and it seriously damaged 2 of the 4 children and Iam sure affected the other two, although the damage was less obvious.

The irony is that when the children grew up and left home the parents gradually came together again and were happy being together for the last 20 years of their lives. - but by then the damage was done.

Luckygirl Fri 08-Jan-21 09:45:13

I wish my parents had parted company and spared us the unbearable and unremitting tension in our home. But.......we would probably have finished up with Mum, who was a bit volatile and that would not have been a picnic in the park either. At least we had relative financial stability as we were.

Shinamae Fri 08-Jan-21 09:52:07

I have a couple of friends like that and it’s not just because of the children they stay,it’s because they would rather be in an unhappy relationship then be on their own.....

RillaofIngleside Fri 08-Jan-21 10:02:06

My parents rowed all through our teenage years, and it certainly damaged my sister who was too young to understand why they were both so upset and angry with each other. But I would have hated to choose between them, and as someone else said, we had financial stability. Looking back I have often thought it was better that they were together.
But they certainly took their eye off us, and I had a much wilder adolescence than I should have done.

jaylucy Fri 08-Jan-21 10:05:48

I can remember many years ago while one of my friends was in the process of splitting up from her husband and I was shocked when my mum confessed that she had thought of leaving my dad several times!
It was only us children and the fact that she would have
had nowhere to go (this was 1960s and 1970s) that stopped her walking out.
My parents were married for 58 years until her unexpected death and despite quite a few arguments ( got worse as they got older!) they genuinely loved each other to the point that I was seriously concerned for dads mental health as well as physical when she died ( he actually passed away 2 years later)
I think it is possible to come to an agreement, spoken or otherwise , to carry on a relationship once the romance has gone and even love and have a fairly fulfilling life, as long as you can keep away from thinking "if only" and "what if" .

Youcantchoosethem Fri 08-Jan-21 10:06:10

I stayed for “the sake of the children” for 10 years longer than I should have. I wish I had ended things sooner. I did try to leave at the time, following a particular incident, and went to stay for a couple of days with my parents, I had two children aged 9 and 10 and was pregnant with my third. My parents told me to go back and “put up with it”. I didn’t feel at that time that I had many options - how would I cope on my own with three children plus pets etc so I went back. I didn’t love him from that point on, and thought I was doing the best thing for my children, however in hindsight the tension in the house was always there, issues remained and it was only after I had finally got him to leave (it took 18 months after I first asked him to go for him to finally leave - I couldn’t afford for me to go - I had by this time worked up to be able to manage the house in my own but not start again elsewhere) that we all released the breath we had been holding. I found out even more after he had gone from the children, and absolutely regret not doing more earlier. Even then, when I told my parents I was getting divorced my mothers reply was “oh it had to be you, you couldn’t just put up with it. Do you think it’s easy for anyone to stay married etc” not exactly supportive. Finally over a year later they told me that I was right to have ended it and they could see now how bad things were and apologised for not supporting me and we have been able to repair much of the damage. I would urge anyone that is feeling oppressed, or damaged from a relationship that staying for the sake of the children isn’t the right thing to do. They do pick up on so much, you think you are protecting them but you are not. To be honest with yourself and them is, in my opinion, a far better lesson. I hope that helps.

David0205 Fri 08-Jan-21 10:07:48

Every case is different, yes, tension in the home is hard on the children but so is divorce and having to run 2 homes with only enough cash for one. The prospect of the family home being sold, moving, divorce, child custody and all the other disruption makes many “ stay for the kids”.
Probably if cash is available and support from family or a new relationship makes it easier, but even that has its hazards.

Fernhillnana Fri 08-Jan-21 10:10:08

I finally broke up my marriage when our kids were 11 and 8. It was hideous and draining but I couldn’t bear to see them suffer any longer. I would have stuck it out for myself but I wanted to protect them. I firmly believe that what children need is a happy, balanced, positive mother. If that isn’t happening within a marriage, it’s best that it ends. Always heartbreaking though.

Bankhurst Fri 08-Jan-21 10:13:10

I stayed for the sake of the children, having decided to leave when I thought they were old enough to cope (in fact 17 and 19). I still think it was the right decision, but accept that it depends on circumstances and some behaviour is too unbearable and damaging for everyone concerned

gillyknits Fri 08-Jan-21 10:17:59

My DS is in this position. He’s been living in the same house with DIL who no longer loves him (if she ever did) Its been four years now, with all the tension and conflict but he will not leave because of the children. I fear for them in the future, as this can’t be good for them.

Keeper1 Fri 08-Jan-21 10:19:21

Every relationship is different, circumstances, finance and support all play a part.

I would say I have friends who say they have only stayed for the children or that they wished they had never married their husbands but the reality is that faced with their marriage breaking up they would be devastated. They are saying because they are feeling disgruntled or unappreciated. Those that are serious I have found anyway do something about not always easy you need to be tough to go through with it.

Coconut Fri 08-Jan-21 10:22:49

I tried to stay in my 1st marriage for the sake of my 3 children, however, after 3 years I just couldn’t keep up the pretence any longer. Of course I so regret the pain this caused everyone, but even in hindsight I know that I did the right thing for me. I too believe that children need a happy, positive mother and a calm atmosphere at home. Everyone has different circumstances so it’s hard to generalise on this issue.

Mooney59 Fri 08-Jan-21 10:30:36

Yes but you need to leave when the kids do. Start planning to leave now do not share that with your partner. Save some money but don’t steal it or feel guilty putting it away. And prepare for your kids to take other partners side. Good luck!

GagaJo Fri 08-Jan-21 10:31:55

I also stayed much longer than I should. He was alcoholic and abusive. But life after leaving wasn't great either. Depression and being desperately poor meant the next 10 years were horrific. We were almost homeless once.

It certainly taught me that I should never let go of being financially independent again.

Chicklette Fri 08-Jan-21 10:36:25

Luckygirl That could’ve been me writing! The other issue is that my Mum would have made it difficult for Dad to see us which would’ve broken him, plus he was our safety net. I don’t think Mum dared be too abusive with him around. We learned about decency and love from Dad and I’m happy to say we’ve all followed his lead through our lives rather than Mum’s.

BusterTank Fri 08-Jan-21 10:37:39

Marriage is give and take . I stayed because of the children . I have been married 28 years not all of them good . 1 daughter thought it was the best thing I done and the other daughter disagreed . Would I say I'm happy , probably not but I am content . Would I say I love him probably not but I do care . I really think it's down to the individual .

Theoddbird Fri 08-Jan-21 10:41:05

I grew up with parents who should not have been together... It is better for parents to part rather than have unhappy children...

Loobyloo12 Fri 08-Jan-21 10:43:06

I have been reflecting on this very issue recently. I left a hardworking husband ( second marriage) when I was 37. Reason, he was emotionally cold. I had two young boys 6 and 7. I know I'm a different person now, but at the time I felt compelled to leave. It was a real struggle financially and emotionally for me. For him he was depressed for a long time, but more importantly the boys were upset although we all coped somehow. That decision wrecked our family life, which as a family we had had many really good moments. I was now constantly stressed financially (although ex contributed). I had a string of unsuccessful relationships (mostly kept away from my boys) I eventually remarried but got left after 17 years. I never found a sound man. My youngest boy sadly took his own life at 33. I reflect on it all at 76 years old. I come to the conclusion that I should have stayed and made the best of what we had instead of thinking that there would be someone better 'out there' There wasn't! The drive to leave, for freedom was so strong at the time. The children's father, my ex and I after all the heartache are now good friends. I wish now that I had stayed, but easier to be wise in hindsight!