Working at marriage

Is it always a good idea to stay together for the sake of the children?

Is it always a good idea to stay together for the sake of the children? I have noticed that quite a lot of people whose parents have divorced or separated say that they would never split up because they lived through the effects it had on either their mum or on themselves or a combination of the two. A recent More! survey seems to back this up. Some 80% of women whose parents had divorced or separated said they would like to get married. The magazine suggested that they were prepared to ‘work harder than their parents’ to ensure the marriage lasted. We are always being told that people split up too easily these days and that they should "work harder" at their marriage/relationship. Certainly I can see a lot of potential for future misery being stored up in some of the children I know whose parents have split up. In some cases, the split itself triggers a cycle of totally unreasonable behaviour by one or other or both parents because the emotions unleashed are so raw and often not acknowledged. You would think that this behaviour would ease off after a while, but it seems to take years in many cases. That’s a lot of a child’s growing up time.

I know I maybe had it easy with my parents’ divorce since there was no parental struggle involved and, being only four at the time, I hardly knew my father. I saw him more or less annually, which was odd as it doesn’t really allow for a close bond to form and I felt I was on my best behaviour at all times, but at least there were no attempts by either parent to undermine the other nor any rivalry played out through the children. I would say that my parents are both happier for not living together. They are both very different people. I do not see why they should have stayed together unhappily just so we could have a "stable" upbringing. Indeed, I have seen many unhappy couples who seem to have resigned themselves to staying together for the children and I wonder if their children will thank them for it in the long run. Unhappiness has a tendency to touch all who live around it.
The thing is how do you advocate for human emotion and for people’s ability to face up to it? Of course, counselling can help, but I don’t know if we will ever find the solution – people are not perfect beings just as relationships do not all lead to happy ever afters. I do think, however, that promoting the idea that somehow "successful" relationships are all about "working harder", with the underlying idea that if you don’t you are selfish or a failure, is not much of a help to anyone.

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