Social Question

stemnyjones's avatar

Should a couple ever "stay together for the kids"?

Asked by stemnyjones (3974points) December 13th, 2009

If a couple is no longer happy together, should they stay together just to keep their kids happy? Keep in mind both aspects of the arguement:

If the parents are unhappy together, there will probably be a lot of fighting and uncomfortable tension in the home.

If the parents get divorced, it will have a huge impact on the kids, who will probably never be able to spend time with both parents together again. Depending on how old the kids are, it could even lead to severe depression or emotional problems later in life.

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80 Answers

jerv's avatar

No.

A bad relationship does more harm to the kids than the average divorce.

Berserker's avatar

You’d be giving them a false idea of what love and commitment are if you did. It might help at first, but in the long run I believe this will greatly damage their perception of the truths of the matter.

thriftymaid's avatar

Yes. A marriage and family are the most important things a person can be a part of.

Facade's avatar

No. Very bad thing to do.

skfinkel's avatar

Once two people have children, the issue of divorce changes. Divorce affects the children tremendously. If these two people, who swore to love each other until “death” can’t manage to deal in an adult way with each other, and give their children the security and comfort they need, they should get counseling to learn how to not argue and fight in front of their children. They had their chance. Now they need to follow through for their children. The only case in which I would say divorce is warranted—once a couple has children—is if there is abuse. The rest is all whining—they need to get over it.

Likeradar's avatar

No. Happy, emotionally healthy parents are one of the best gifts a parent can give their children.

randomness's avatar

No. My parents tried that for a while, and I can tell you for sure that the bad relationship was worse for me and my sister than the divorce was. My parents were civil, and even friendly when in front of us, but I could still tell that something was very, very wrong. I believe that for a while, I had an incorrect notion of what love and relationships are and should be. It would have been better if they had just divorced straight away.

jerv's avatar

@thriftymaid Considering my father and my wife’s parents, I find that idealistic. Then again, I think you and I have been through this before so lets just leave it at “I strongly disagree” and move on.

Clair's avatar

No. Kids should be around independence and strength before a false concept of love and lies.

VohuManah's avatar

Living in a home where two people hate each other and don’t want to be together won’t help or ‘make it easier’ for the kids. From personal experience, the kids get brought into the conflict more than they would in a divorce, and in my case, are forced to choose a side in a problem they didn’t create.

snowyowl_ecs's avatar

My parents got divorced when my brothers were 18, 15, and 3. I was only 2. I have to admit that to me it was normal. I have very few memories of what it was like when my parents were together, but from what my older brothers tell me, it was not a good time. I think my middle brother was the one who got the most impact from the divorce itself. Teen years are hard enough for kids without having to lay the weight of a divorce on top of it. But at the same time, you can’t keep living a lie. I think the things that hurt me most when I was a child was when my parents would lie to me. Looking back, it still hurts. And I don’t think someone should put themselves, or their children, in a loveless marrige. It will only damage their views on what healthy relationships are supposed to be. And when they find out that you don’t love each other and you just stayed together for them, they may lose respect for you or feel guilty for your decision. I think you should definatly step back and take a look at all the possiblities. Sitting down with the kids and trying to explain the situation wouldn’t hurt either.

chelseababyy's avatar

No. This is what we would call a “conflict habituated marriage”. This is when the couple stays together for specific reasons such as children or finances, however they have a horrible relationship otherwise. Being in a romantic (or unromantic) relationship such as this will ultimately just deteriorate even more over time and put a strain on both parties. It’s not healthy and will just make things worse.

RubyReds's avatar

No. I have done it and it done my child more bad than good. Thank goodness we noticed this all and made a end to the marriage again. (Yes, we were married twice, second time around only for her sake). I am now married for almost 7 years and with me and my hubby she can see how husband and wife are suppose to talk to each other, show affection to each other, love each other. And the most amazing of all, she wants to be as happy one day as what her mom is today!!!!

ratboy's avatar

No married couple with children should divorce before the last child dies.

knitfroggy's avatar

Thankfully I’ve never been in that situation. I have a good friend that is living with her husband whom she hates and fights with 99 per cent of the time. She stays with him because he makes really good money and she would have to go to work full time if she left him. She has a 13 year old daughter that listens to them fight all the time. We’ve talked about it a lot and I ask her doesn’t she realize the emotional damage its doing to her daughter. She says she does but thinks if she left her husband and she had to be away from her daughter more and struggle financially it would be worse. I don’t understand it myself. So no I don’t think its good. But its not my place to say what she should do.

augustlan's avatar

Here’s my take on it, from personal experience both as a child of divorced parents and a divorced parent myself. A couple with children should work very, very hard to stay together as long as they can be reasonably content. If they can’t reconcile, they should then work very, very hard to have an amicable divorce.

After 2 separate rounds of marriage counseling over a four year period, my ex and I finally came to the conclusion that all of us would be better off if we split. We still loved each other, but made one another absolutely miserable. Miserable parents are in no way good for their children. Our divorce was about as amicable as a divorce could be, and our kids handled everything very well.

I have since remarried, and my ex is in a serious relationship with a great woman. Our kids are absolutely thrilled that we are happy. They, of course, would have preferred that we could have been happy together, but totally understand that it just wasn’t possible.

thriftymaid's avatar

@jerv . Hi friend. Yes we have done this one before. Good to see ya.

Oxymoron's avatar

No way. People need to divorce if they’re just together for the kids. The relationship between two people needs to be based on their love, not because they have a kid together. It ends up being detrimental to the child in the long run.

thriftymaid's avatar

@knitfroggy. I’ve heard your friend’s story many times. I live in an affluent community and this story is not uncommon. When I am actually asked for advice, I say dont’t stay for the money, stay to keep to family together. A couple who has drifted apart can come back together. These are people who were once in love. When you have a real commitment you have a foundation on which to stand. All of the NO answers here are indicative of today’s ME attitude; the loss of the WE attitude is a great one.

jerv's avatar

@thriftymaid – Maybe that was the reason you and I fought last time; because my experiences and those of my wife were, shall we say, “abnormal”.

druebeall's avatar

Actually when there are kids involved, a married couple need to put aside their differences and just finish the job that THEY started. Being a parent is a selfless job. It’s not about you, it is about THEM. : ) HOwever in cases where there is abuse of any kind (including alcohol, ect. ) It may be best to remove the children from that kind of situation.

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall True, however if the parents can’t/won’t/don’t get along, are completely miserable, and are fighting/arguing, whatever.. What kind of example are you setting for your children? That’s no way to live a life, in constant unhappiness. There is a way to work things out where everyone ends up happy, even if that means splitting up or getting a divorce. It can be worked out.

druebeall's avatar

YOu are right, all I am saying is that since they decided to have children they need to really stop being so selfish and just do what they got to do. Divorce seems to always mess kids up.

jerv's avatar

@druebeall – I think my mother made the right choice by divorcing before she and/or I wound up dead. Just a hunch, but I think getting killed would’ve screwed me up more. Besides, kids are more emotionally resilient than you thinkl maybe it’s because they don’t understand and therefore don’t worry.

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall You should really read about marriage/children and how it affects the couple. People can be in love, have children, and then realize that people and things change, and that it’s just not meant to be anymore. Having children really puts a strain on people, and people also change because of these things. If a person changes, and isn’t who the other person fell in love with, what is the point in being with someone who you just don’t connect with anymore? For the sake of the children? Sure divorce is shitty, and could have a negative effect on everyone involved, however if done right and done rationally and mutually everyone could benefit from it.

It’s not being selfish. Separating because of lost connections or because you just aren’t in love or happy can be a good thing. You don’t want to be in something that makes you feel worse than better. To me that’s just wasting life.

druebeall's avatar

I suppose you have a point. I am just going by what happened with my first marriage. I had all 3 of my kids with my 1st and it wasn’t an ideal situation. If I had any fore sight, I might have just sucked it up and saw it through. All three of my kids were affected adversly and there was always some kind of problem. I did not come from a broken home. I am glad I didn’t. My parents were married for 64 years until death did they part. They were all about comittment and being responsible. Maybe part of the problem is that people are not marrying well. They jump into it. Marriage that was founded on true love is not like a paper towel it is not something that you use and throw away.

druebeall's avatar

Also society as a whole seems to be lacking in the true committment department. Everything is disposible. If you don’t like something toss it. People need to think things through alittle better before doing them.

druebeall's avatar

People need to make life long decisions more wisely.

MrBr00ks's avatar

@ randomness, I gave you a GA and put you in my Fluther just for The best Avatar ever! (please tell me where you found it) Then I read your response and liked that too. =p

Aethelwine's avatar

@druebeall I agree with you and @skfinkel. Maybe some just jump into marriage but it seems that divorce is just an easy way out for many. Every couple is going to have hard times. It takes patience to deal with difficulties. Patience that many don’t have unfortunately.

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall You also have to realize that not all people get married because they’re in love. I know, crazy right? Some people do get married for the love, some for the comfortability in finances or support, some because they’re drunk and go to a little white chapel. If they’re the type who marry because they feel comfortable where they are financially, and need someone to lean on, well what do you think happens when a baby comes along accidentally? They still want to be comfortable, but have no idea how a baby will affect them in the long run. They try it out and realize that it’s not working.

If it doesn’t work, then it doesn’t work. Doesn’t make sense to me to try to push something that just isn’t going to work out.

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make him drink”

druebeall's avatar

@chelseababys what you said about people being in love. get married and then later decide that they should divorce because they have changed?? well marriage is defined as 2 people becoming 1 person. You are supposed to grow together. Be a team. Work towards a common goal, right?!

druebeall's avatar

Society, even Hollywood has made it NO BIG DEAL. Honestly I wonder why some even bother anymore. It is definately not viewed with the same steadfastness that it once was and that is why 51% of all marriages end in divorce.

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall People change, constantly. It may happen gradually over time, and it may just all of the sudden occur. Sometimes people can’t deal with the fact that they’re with a person who is nothing like the person they were when they fell in love. Shit happens.
Sure it’s about being a team and growing with each other, but how can you do that if you feel as though you have nothing in common with this person anymore.

PS Where is marriage defined as two people becoming one? I’d really like to know, because if that’s the case, you can count me out.

druebeall's avatar

That is a whole nother can of worms that I would rather not open, but most people do not accidentally get pregnant. The PILL is still available and alot of times women can get it for free. You take one a day and wallah, no baby. We should all know by now that the stork does not deliver babies.

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall And you think that there aren’t cases where people DO get pregnant on the pill? Really? I think you should do a bit more research.

MrBr00ks's avatar

My wife’s ex best friend got pregnant while on an “implant” version of birth control.

eponymoushipster's avatar

what pill? do you give it to the stork or something?

druebeall's avatar

I know there are. I myself had my daughter Bridgette on the pill, but it was okay. SOme just don’t even attempt to make the effort to be responsible for their actions. They just want a quick fix to the problem instead of trying to prevent it to begin with;

Dr_C's avatar

@eponymoushipster you give the stork some valium… a sleeping stork does not deliver

druebeall's avatar

It’s like everyone thinks that it won’t happen to them. . .until it does.

Freedom_Issues's avatar

No. I agree completely with Jerv.

Dr_C's avatar

@druebeall it’s all fun and games until someone loses a testicle…

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall Then you should know what it’s like. And why is it that you’re all of the sudden contradicting yourself.. ex:

“The PILL is still available and alot of times women can get it for free. You take one a day and wallah, no baby.”

and then..

“It’s like everyone thinks that it won’t happen to them. . .until it does.”

MrBr00ks's avatar

I had a divorce. I know I wasn’t perfect, and I know my wife wasn’t either, but sometime someone let’s an awfully big elephant into the room, and if both parties don’t see it (alot of times it is only one that does), someone is bound to step into some big doo-doo.

MrBr00ks's avatar

@chelseababyy , I tried, but I could not read those two statements as contradicting each other. Am I missing something, anyone?

chelseababyy's avatar

@MrBr00ks In the first one he states how if you take the pill you won’t get pregnant.
In the second he’s saying it CAN happen.

druebeall's avatar

And how many women do you know who actually take a form of Birth control (correctly) and get pregnant? Honestly, the statistics show that women who use BC has gone down sharply and the percentage of abortions especially among teens has sharply risen.

druebeall's avatar

Oh and by the way I am not a HE. I am a she. LOL

Dr_C's avatar

@druebeall sorry… it’s the hat :p

chelseababyy's avatar

@druebeall I actually know a few. I’m also sure there are some people on here who could agree. However this is not about pregnancy or abortion. This is about how children can affect a marriage, how accidents can happen, and about how because of these accidents people and things can change.

Can I please see these statistics?

druebeall's avatar

Your right. It is not. But I think that perhaps some of the issues are similar. Like being committed, thinking about things before just doing them, (marriage and being a parent are life long endevours) So I just think that to avoid as much as possible the situation of to stay together or not might not be addressed so often if people would take these matters alittle (alot) more seriously than they obviously do.

druebeall's avatar

I also think that the root of alot of the growing apart BS is actually the lack of communication for one, and the fact that some grow up in a disfunctional family and don’t know any different. They cycle goes on and on and on.

druebeall's avatar

But that does not mean that these things cannot be fixed. But I think all too often they are just thrown away.

druebeall's avatar

I just like the Cat in the Hat. It’s okay. Actually the name is ?? too.

jlm11f's avatar

I agree completely with @skfinkel. I also realize that the answer to this question can differ based on culture. For example, in Indian culture (and a lot of Asian culture in general), once you become a parent, that is your first identity. To me, parenting is all about sacrifice. Kids first, you second. You choose who you get married to and have kids with. The kids didn’t get to choose you. An intelligent person wouldn’t head into marriage without careful thought, so if you have spent sufficient amount of time getting to know each other, and agree on your core principles, having kids shouldn’t change anything. If you are having problems, then you work it out together (with a counselor if needed), NOT in front of the kids and you give them the happy family every kid deserves. There shouldn’t be any reason to not be able to work it out if you and your partner had truly communicated pre-marriage. Point being, don’t jump into marriage and realize that long term relationships are hard work and require long term commitment. Of course, it’s a different ball game if abuse is involved, so I am not taking that into consideration.

Again, this is just my viewpoint and how I would react if I was in such a situation. Each family is different and obviously has their own beliefs/priorities.

druebeall's avatar

@PnL Thanks (,maybe I am tired) but that is what I was trying to say. You are absolutely correct.

Allie's avatar

[mod says:] Just as a friendly reminder/tip/hint, you have 10 minutes to edit your answer before it is permanent. This is in case you noticed a typo, directed it to the wrong person, or would like to add something. It is also so that you don’t have to answer multiple times. Just letting you know…

druebeall's avatar

Oops thanks

stemnyjones's avatar

Just for fun, I’ll add another factor to the question.

My parents divorced when I was probably 4 or 5… too young to have more than just a few fleeting memories of them together, anyway, and so I was never too bothered with it.

But the reason for my parents divorce was because my mother finally felt secure enough in herself to come out as a lesbian.

So, in this instance, would it be better for the couple to stay together, even if it is obviously irreconcilable, since there is no sexual attraction, and it had all been forced in the first place to conform with family/society?

MrBr00ks's avatar

That, @stemnyjones , sounds like a pretty big elephant.

Dr_C's avatar

@stemnyjones & @MrBr00ks that gives “pink elephant” a whole new meaning… i like it!

stemnyjones's avatar

True story ;)

The divorce became final when my dad found out she was cheating on him with women.

MrBr00ks's avatar

@stemnyjones , That wouldn’t have made me divorce her, however, my budget for the year would have been shot to hell because of the sudden purchase of a video camera. But to each their own. /shrugs

augustlan's avatar

I just wanted to add to my answer up there a few pertinent facts. My ex and I were together for 20 years, married for 17 when we separated. We didn’t jump into our marriage, we truly loved one another, and we waited 7 or 8 years before having our first child. We had 3 terrific children together. There was no big affair or blowup, no abuse, we just grew in massively different ways.

While we didn’t often fight in front of our children, we were plainly unhappy. There was resentment on both sides, and a loss of respect. We recognized all of this as it was happening, and tried everything we could think of to get back on track and save our relationship… date nights, family time, weekend trips, and two different rounds of marriage counseling. In the end, none of it did the trick for more than a week or two.

While we truly did love one another (we held hands during our separation agreement meetings!), we finally recognized that we just could not live together anymore. It was the hardest decision we’ve ever made, and it was incredibly painful for all of us. However, if we had not made this decision, we all would have suffered far longer. As it is, everyone suffered but the suffering is over. We are all happy now.

I also rather resent hearing that we aren’t “finishing our jobs” as parents. Being a good parent =/= being married. We are both the same parents we always were, and have a very good relationship with one another and our children. They themselves will tell you that, while it was hard at the time, they are happier now than they were when we were together. So, if 5 people are happier, where exactly have we failed?

druebeall's avatar

@augustlan this is most definatly the typical senario by any means. More often than not it is just 1 or 2 slightly immature adults who don’t like playing house after all and want to go home now. I am glad for you and yours that it ended up well for all concerned. You gave it your best shot and actually tried to save it. What I am refering to is not that by any means.

stemnyjones's avatar

@druebeall To be fair, @augustlan‘s scenario is pretty typical of the ‘older’ (not saying that you’re old!) generation. Kids my generation (I’m 23) are a different story, and fit your idea of the typical marriage.

A friend of mine got pregnant, got married, had the kid, and that was about two years ago… now they have gotten divorced (for about the third time), and are actually finalizing it this time. They got married because of the child, which was a mistake in the first place, because there wasn’t true love to build upon.

visualplant's avatar

Yes, they should. They chose to have kids together, and they should raise them together.

Finny's avatar

Nah I don’t think so. It’s only going to drive the parents insane and the kids can live with divorced parents.

randomness's avatar

@MrBr00ks
Thanks!

As for the avatar, I found it as I was trawling through the depths of the internet years ago. I believe it was originally a slogan on a t-shirt. http://typetees.threadless.com/product/548/Shakespeare_hates_your_emo_poems

druebeall's avatar

@stemnyjones that is why I was saying that adults need to really be more responsible because there are consequences to ones actions. I wonder at times if people really understand how one “good time” can really have dire consequences. People need to think before they act. Abortion has become the new “birth control”. Oops, I didn’t think I was going to get pregnant. Nobody does actually. . . .until it happens to them. And all the other baggage that goes along with it like unnecessary marriages that end in divorce. I am glad that I grew up at the tail end of the 60’s and 70’s because at least I got taste of what things used to be like. Todays generation has a different view on things for the most part because “parents didn’t stay together” it has now become acceptable and it really isn’t at all.

stemnyjones's avatar

@druebeall My mother was being responsible. She stayed together with my father for many years and they had three kids together. She thought she could stick it out and live with the man she loved, but sometimes just love (without attraction or sexual desire) turns into less of a relationship thing and more of a friendship thing.

My mother raised us just fine, thank you, and wasn’t being irresponsible by having kids then getting divorced. I would have hated to grow up in a home where my parents weren’t in love with one another, and I would never forgive myself if my mom lived her life hiding her sexuality for the sake of us.

druebeall's avatar

@stemnyjones I hope that you can respect my position on this whole thing. I understand that committment cannot be forced onto anyone or some of the other things that I have mentioned here, but it is almost as people are living life with recklessness. and have abandoned what used to be held in high regard. I am not perfect and why opinions have been formed through trial and error. What works for me is to look before leaping, testing the waters before crossing and I guess just really trying to not act impulsively. Oh and the most important thing, Ask God what He thinks about the matter at hand/? He always points me in the right direction.

stemnyjones's avatar

@druebeall Aah, I see. Religion. I get it now. ;)

druebeall's avatar

@stemnyjones Call it what you want,but God is my friend and never steers me wrong. Religion to me that is quite another story.

Blackberry's avatar

Only when they’re young. Once they are older, they can understand. When they’re older, there’s no need to have that miserable tension last any longer.

vevetoversteel's avatar

My mother was miserable my intire childrenhood and blamed us kids for ‘having’ to stay. Constant fighting. I hated going home and it was a miserable childhood for me. It took years to get over the damage and finally be able to have good relationships. My parents should have never stayed together!

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