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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Do people still stay together for the sake of the children?

It is something we have all heard of, but is it a myth or is it prevalent? We are doing some research to find out. Have you or anyone you know stayed married for the sake of the children?

My perception is that a generation or so ago this was relatively common. Couples did stay together, no matter what. Wives and husbands were more likely to remain in unloving marriages for a number of reasons: a feeling that there is no other option, fear of the unknown, or simply because it was the done thing as divorces was a dirty word. Also on that list of reasons would be “for the kids”. There was a sense of duty to give them a real home and a sense of belonging to a traditional family.

Fast-forward then to today and it is a very different picture. No one bats an eyelid at divorce these days. Multiple marriages are commonplace (though not at the same time). Single parent families have little of the stigma surrounding them that there once was. So the landscape is very different. Does that mean then that staying together for the sake of the children is a thing of the past?

I’m torn on this topic and so am really intrigued to see the results of our poll.

On the one hand, children need to be brought up in a calm and loving environment. If a couple would not be together if not for the child being there, they are unlikely to be on the best of terms. Tensions are likely to run high in the home and there could be a strained atmosphere. This does not strike me as the ideal environment in which to bring up a child. However, it does show a commitment from the parents for at least attempting to put the needs of the child first and trying to make it work for the right reasons. And, in an ideal world and taking away all other considerations, would we not think that a two-parent family is the most natural way to raise a child?

The opposing view could be that some parents splitting up gives the children the best chance of growing up in a stable, nurturing atmosphere, free of the inevitable squabbling that will come with a couple held together only by their love for a child and not for each other. Then again, have we just made it too easy for someone to bail out when the going gets tough rather than working at something and coming out with a stronger relationship?

I don’t know the answers but we would love to hear your thoughts on it. Please do let me have your comments and have your say in the poll. I’ll get back to you when the votes are in.

Andrew Woolley
Divorce solicitor

Comments and response - Do people still stay together for the sake of the children?

I not only wrote a book on divorce recovery, but own a club for singles over 40 in Austin, TX. I have several hundred members, and hear all their stories. Although its not AS common as it once was, I am aware of some who stayed married for an extra 5, 10 or even 15 years for the sake of the kids, but eventually do get divorced. However, the question remains: was it ONLY for the kids sake that they remain married, or are they using that as an excuse so they can hide behind an underlying fear such as religious beliefs, fear of parting or living alone. ...

By Joni James on Wednesday July 21, 2010

I think some people do still stay together for the sake of the children. The children know what’s going on, much to the parents’ surprise. What is becoming significant is that couples try to stay together for the sake of the children without recieving any counseling to put to rest the issues between them. The issues are stuffed down until they can no longer be contained. Then it explodes. This is really when the children suffer and start to say, “Why don’t you get divorced already?” Whether couples stay together or divorce they still need to resolve the differences between them for the sake of the children…

By Theresa Hayes on Thursday July 22, 2010

I don’t believe people treat divorce quite as lightly as it seems. Three years ago I made the choice to divorce my husband rather than to stay together for the children. Why? Because I believe my children deserve a better example of a loving relationship than what their father and I were able to provide for them. We worked very hard at our marriage. It boiled down to us being two people with different values and different goals.  With that said, I am very much pro marriage. I am not a divorce advocate. I do believe some couples give up too early in an effort to avoid the conflict. In those cases, the conflict usually continues after the divorce and the couples and their children are no better off because of it. Education before and throughout marriage seem to be the best defense….

By Vicki DeLoach on Friday July 23, 2010

Due to the vast majority of split homes in North America there are many children growing up who are not learning the value of commitment in a marriage. Love is what we all yearn for, and the excitement of a loving relationship, getting married, and sharing expenses is magnetizing to many young couples, who have yet to understand or appreciate the commitment required to maintain the relationship.  Yes, I do have some very good friends who have stayed in their marriages, just for the sake of the children, and I am not the judge of how healthy I believe those relationships are.  Life is short enough, and by living with anger and resentment, however disguised will eventually appear somehow, and often in ill health. Education in relationship, self development, economy, holistic health, and much more allows us to make more conscious, deliberate choices, that will lead to a clearer understanding of the commitment we make when entering into a relationship….

By Wendy Mackay on Friday July 23, 2010

Theresa, In talking to children & teens, I’ve found a few who wished their parents would divorce already, and many who wish their parents handled their divorce differently. Kids can be so critical but sometimes, they are right.  I think this debate goes back to this statement: “Whether couples stay together or divorce they still need to resolve the differences between them for the sake of the children.”  When there is mismanaged conflict in the divorce, it tends to be much worse on the children. And if parents come from a low confict marriage and end it for a low conflict divorce, the divorce itself is painful and often worse than the low-conflict marriage. Divorce is almost always painful for kids, but the levels of conflict before and then after divorce make the biggest difference in how children experience it.  I wrote about this in a blog post last year. ..

By Sasha Townsend on Friday July 23, 2010


I agree with you that an environment of constant conflict and tension is damaging for children. Children deserve to have examples of healthy relationships. Examples of healthy relationships will make creating their own healthy relationships so much easier later on. There is some research that supports couples riding out the tough times. In “Don’t Divorce, Be Happy” an article in the November-December 2002 issue of Psychology Today, the magazine reported that 78% of people who stayed in unhappy marriages said they were happy five years later.  Some believe that a parental split is the answer, and I believe it is in some cases. Some people have said some nasty things and done some terrible things to their spouses, words that they can never take back. According to research at the University of Denver, marriages die because eventually, spouses begin to associate each other with negativity. Eventually, they can’t stand to be around each other anymore, as each person does less and less to nurture the marriage. People don’t simply fall out of love over night. Love erodes through patterns of negative interactions over time.

By Sasha Townsend on Friday July 23, 2010

The above comments on my Blog show the depth of feeling and also understanding there is for people in this difficult situation. If you are reading this Blog and the comments might apply to your unhappy situation, all is not lost. There is a lot of support out there—from the above people and from those mentioned under our Support link on the left hand side. You are not alone….

By Andrew Woolley on Friday July 23, 2010

My primary consideration in divorcing my ex was what the children were learning from the marriage. Did I want my son to grow up learning that treating women they love poorly was ok? Did I want my daughter to grow up thinking that it was ok for her to be treated poorly? It’s not uncommon for very strong personality types to overcompensate for their insecurities by devaluing their partner or other family members. I was able to reduce the conflict during the marriage by simply not engaging, but that doesn’t remedy the overall relationship or the lessons the children learn from it. Open conversations, post-divorce, as the children grow, about ‘the good times’, ‘the bad things’, what was not ‘ok’, and reinforcing that they are still children and shouldn’t know everything. That it was never their fault. That both parents love them and always will. And, even when its very difficult, to promote a relationship with the other parent as well. ....

By Sherry Adler on Monday July 26, 2010


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