As has been documented again and again, divorce crashes a child’s world. That truth stated, an essential question must be asked: If you are in a marriage that feels like a death sentence (and maybe is), if you have tried and tried to make things more endurable but cannot — what is the worst damage to children: to stay or leave?
I believe with every fiber in me that it is better to leave, and show your children that you are capable of a better life, and so are they. This leads to other questions about the wisest way to accomplish this. Please read on, as I would welcome your feedback.
My former husband fought our divorce tooth and nail. He saw monogamy as “nonsense” and felt that because most of the money that supported us was through him ( I was told nothing about his investments), he could come and go from our family home as he wished. He also believed that our life should be presented to his colleagues and our friends as Christmas Card Perfect.
Further, even while he unofficially lived with an other woman, he insisted that “the family” (as he called us) celebrate holidays, birthdays, even wedding anniversaries together. (He did not believe that his unofficial companion belonged at these gatherings.) His choice was to always celebrate at very public hotels and restaurants so that others would see how sophisticated and cordial “the family” was. While I was trying to save our marriage, I participated in such evenings, until they began to make me physically ill.
Due to my former husband’s resistance, the legal and emotional ordeal of our divorce took years. When he finally agreed to a divorce (because of an assault charge) he was given very liberal visitation with our children at his home. Still he insisted that in the agreement there also be a clause that once every month, there be such a “family” evening. I signed this, though my lawyer urged me not to, just so the divorce finally would be granted.
My children were very young at this time (in early elementary school), and their father continuously built up the importance of “the family” every time he was with them. He insisted on intimate birthday celebrations, even “raising a glass to celebrate our wedding anniversary,” as well as the monthly “family” gatherings in pubic places. He told anyone who would listen that the divorce was all my fault, as my “demands” for his time were “completely unrealistic for a real man.” He also told everyone who would listen that he hoped for a reconciliation, when I “finally came to my senses.”
Things really got awful when I refused to participate in our public monthly outings. By this time his companion was leaving me phone messages, raging that first I held up the divorce and then I insisted on a “family night” that left her out!
Alive for me always remains one such “family night,” in the dead of winter. Directly after such a call from the woman he lived with, the children’s father came to my children and my home, demanding that we all have dinner.
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