A Parent’s Obligations During a Divorce

Dear Coming Through The Rye Staff,

My husband and I have been married for five years. I am 24 years old, and he is 28 years old. So there is a decent age gap between us. I will start with a short background.

I had my first child when I was 16 years old. I decided not to give her up for adoption. So I got my life together – I graduated a year early, started college, and in a semester, am graduating with a physics degree. After I have my undergraduate degree, I will be continuing my education through a doctorate program and will work as a teacher while I get my Ph.D. I met my husband through church about six years ago. At the time, I didn’t think anyone would ever be able to love and accept me, because I was so young and had a child. So, I was eager to settle down. To this day, I’m not so sure why I was so eager. My sister believes I was scared that my then-fiancé would leave me when he really realized what he was getting into… by marrying a woman with a child. So I married. And one month into our marriage, we discovered we were expecting. (end background information)

When I married, I knew we had differences. I just thought, “Hey, everyone has differences, but we’ll make it.” As I got older, and dare I say, as I discovered more about myself, those differences seemed to become tremendous. I feel like we don’t make each other happy. A few examples of some major differences are as follows: I am atheist, he’s Christian; I have a lower than normal sex drive, he has a super high sex drive; I love being outdoors, he would rather watch t.v. all day; I seek knowledge constantly, he could care less. I don’t feel like we have meaningful conversations… I don’t feel comfortable around him anymore… I don’t feel happy. I don’t feel like he’s happy. I don’t think that we make each other happy.

I see him lust after other women. I find my mind drifting and thinking about my future. And when I think about my future, I don’t picture him in it. I believe that I should stay in this marriage for my children. I am so scared to break up my family, despite my unhappiness. So what do I do? Do I stay for my child, or is it better to leave have my child be brought up in a divided household? I am so torn on what to do. I cry about it constantly, and I have read article after article after article. Are my only two choices either to stay unhappy for the sake of my child or to put my children through the pain of a broken family for my happiness? I feel like it would be terribly selfish of me to divorce my husband because of the pain my children might go through. Please help me. Thank you for taking the time to read this letter. Even if you don’t respond, it’s been nice just typing it all out. Have a great day.

Sincerely,

Marissa


Dear Marissa,

Thank you for writing to us here at Coming Through The Rye. As you may have noticed, our site has been on hiatus for quite some time. Regardless, during that interval of time, I have personally read each and every letter – waiting for one that would resonate within me… thereby inspiring me to write/advise and to bring this site out of hiatus. And when I came across your letter the other day… well let’s just say it did just that.

Before I continue, I must say that I’m younger than you are, I’ve never been married before, and I don’t have children. Therefore, I apologize if anything I write seems insensitive. I certainly don’t intend for that. Anyways, despite my limitations, I do have some things to say to you… Marissa, you are lightyears ahead of many, if not most, people in their twenties… with respect to so many aspects. I mean look at you! In a semester you’ll be graduating with a degree in physics (quite impressive), and you seek stimulation intellectually and philosophically! And yet, you’re not above having fun in nature. You seem like a level-headed, well-rounded individual.

Now Marissa, the situation you’re in (divorcing as a parent)… is not uncommon. Nevertheless, it is a difficult choice to make – whether or not to seek divorce when you have a child (or in your case, two children). I want you to do something for me and really do it. Forget everything that you’ve read from other articles, forget everything that you’ve been told from other people (at least for a moment), and listen and focus to what I have to say now. I’m going to give you two perspectives. The first perspective is that of a friend. My friend married young – just like you, Marissa. And after about ten years of marriage and a child, he found himself falling out of love. Whose fault was it? His? Hers? No. It was no one’s fault. In those ten years of marriage, in that tumultuous period of time that comprises our twenties… we change. He changed. His wife changed. The circumstances changed. Everything just changed. He ended up divorcing his wife. Long story short… both he and his wife are much happier now. You’re right in that every couple has their differences. Sometimes, those differences complement each other and bring the couple together. Other times, those differences are much too great and eventually drive the couple apart. It appears to me that your relationship with your husband is more the latter than the former.

The second perspective I have for you is my own. The catch is, however, that it’s a perspective of a “child” whose parents decided to stay together for the sake of their children. I’ll give you a quick summary of my parents. They too married young, and then, had my sister and I. At one point in time, my parents were very much in love. However, throughout the years, they discovered themselves and grew apart. Instead of divorcing, they stayed together. Fast-forward twenty-some years… all I can remember… cheating with various partners, arguments here and there that drew in police officers, broken glass from the heat of the moment, battered doors with holes from thrown punches, emergency room visits from knifings… blood, and worst of all, a lot of tears. This doesn’t even begin to sum up the pain and agony that my sister and I… my family really… what we went through. And because what? Because my parents thought it would be better to stay together… for the sake of us? My sister and I? No. Just no. There isn’t a day that goes by without me wishing that my parents had chosen differently.

You say that you want to do what’s best for your children, even if it means sacrificing what’s best for you. However, I have to be honest here… I don’t fully believe that. What I mean to say is… I don’t believe you’re staying with your husband for the sake of your children. There is quite possibly something else. And I don’t think you fully realize it. I say this because… what’s best for your children and what’s best for you… well it’s clear that they appear to be the same thing. That’s the easy part. The hard part is, well, why are you really staying with your husband?

I encourage you to add more to this dialogue.

Catching those before they fall and helping those who have fallen back up,

RedHuntingHats

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5 responses

  1. Your not obligated to stay with someone because you have children. Of you feel any better try talking to your husband because in your marriage theres no compromise theres no doing what the person likes day laughter playing. If you both cant make it work at least it was a try you did your best to keep thev family alive. But your happiness matters. You both have beautiful kids but why be with someone who’s checking out other women. All thats gonna do is leave a messy divorce of having a affair dont wait til things get burned and hurt and there your divorce ends and now the family is at a bitter place cuz daddy cheated. You will be more hurt then ever . Your kids happiness matters but yours matter the most. If your unhappy your kids feel it and see it. You said you dont picture him in your future. You have your answer but your afraid. Your ku ds might resent u for your decision do whats best for you. If two parents get along without custody battle then your kids will be happy but will ask wheres daddy at times but it will get better and you will be happy and find someone who makes u happy . Isn’t that what marriage is about happiness with the person u love?

    • Thank you for your input Drea. I completely agree with you when you say that Marissa already knows the “right” answer, but she is afraid. And Marissa, you need to know that it’s alright to be afraid. You need to know that divorcing someone is tough. You need to know that even after the divorce it’ll still be tough. But you also need to know that after the divorce it’ll get better – a lot better – for you, your children, and your husband.

  2. Thank you for your response to my letter. I really appreciate, and needed the bluntness of the response. All I can say is, you’re right. The last paragraph stating that you think there is something else holding me back from doing what I know I need to do. There is something else I suppose. I have never been on my own. I went from living under my parents roof, to being provided for by my husband. I think in the end, I am more scared of branching out on my own, and possibly failing. I sat down and thoroughly talked over all of this with my husband, and he had little to say. He wasn’t very happy with the way things are either. Neither of us are really sure where we are going to go from here, but the fact remains that we agreed that the happiness was scarce. I think having this agreement, and open line of communication will lighten the pain of the divorce. If we decide to part, it will be a mutual decision. I feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of me. Thank you for encouraging me to embrace what I already knew was my decision.
    Regards,
    Marissa

  3. I am a young adult dealing with this too. My parents arguing, but they stay together for the sake of the children. It is difficult for everyone to deal with this.

    It is great that you and your husband were able to communicate and agree that the happiness was scare. This is a big step forward. I think it is very important that you also communicate what’s going on between you and your husband with your children.

  4. I know it has been over a year since this was published, and I’m not entirely sure if anyone will read this, but I wanted to let Red Hunting Hats know that my husband and I have finally, and amicably, decided to divorce. It is a strange feeling, knowing that your romantic relationship with a person is coming to an end. We are filing the divorce papers in November. Our friendship has been so much different since we decided to separate and be friends but not a couple. We have laughed together more, we talk more, and we still co parent without the obligations of a relationship. We have become better people and I am convinced that we are providing a better example for our children than we were as a married couple. The pressure of a relationship just isn’t there anymore and we are the better for it. I want to thank you for the letter you wrote back to me last year and let you know that it resounded with me all this time as I would read it over and over. I am a happier person, and I believe my family will be a happier family. Thank you so much for your words!

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