Wednesday, May 23, 2018
Parenting & Relationships

Tell Me About It: When spouses grow apart

Q: Is there an age at which divorce causes more or less damage to children? My kids are in elementary and middle school. My husband and I have grown apart and live like friendly roommates. I'm very unhappy, but I think the kids perceive our home as warm and secure. Sometimes I think I should just stay with my husband until our youngest child goes to college, but that will be in 10 years. I don't think I can hang in there that long.

For the Kids' Sake

A: The kids will handle anything better if you demonstrate compassion, resourcefulness, selflessness, wisdom and integrity. Which means I don't see any best-case outcome here unless you first try — really try — to restore these friendly roommates to husband and wife. Find a talented marriage counselor, a reputable and inspiring marriage retreat or seminar, or just watch a season or five of Friday Night Lights together. Seriously — it's like a marriage clinic, with cheerleaders.

I realize it's inherently offensive for a third party to declare that you don't "deserve" a divorce because you haven't worked "hard" "enough" to "save" your marriage. I also think misery can be its own justification to leave a relationship.

However, you put the stay-for-kids option on the table, so respect your own reasons and keep it there, with one tweak — do it for yourself, too. Recognize that you had your reasons to choose this man as your life partner and father to your children. Put in the effort to find out whether any of those reasons can be revisited, rethought, repurposed or retrofitted into some form of personal satisfaction.

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