I think divorce is one of those topics that everyone has an opinion about whether they’ve experienced it or not. I don’t have any scientific evidence for this, but I have a hypothesis that those opinions change when your marriage ends and you experience divorce first hand.
Chandi of Italian Dreams left a comment on my LA Single Mama post Thriving After Divorce saying the one positive from her divorce is that she now gets how devastating divorce can be and she’s way more empathetic about it.
I now like to ask the question, “Have your views about divorce changed since you’ve experienced it?” in my interviews. Before her divorce, LA Single Mama subscribed to the commonly held view that it’s better for children if the parents stay together. Today, six years after her divorce, she has a different view:
I thought that people who divorced when they had children were exceedingly selfish and that most of the time things could be worked. I didn’t see how it would be better for a child.
In my situation, things weren’t so bad and we could probably have worked it out to the point where we could have lived together and gotten along. But it wouldn’t have been a marriage.
Had we stayed together, our son would have been seeing a poor model of a relationship because his father and I weren’t in love any longer. Even though we could get along in a business sort of way, I don’t think that’s a good example of marriage.
About two years after we were divorced, my ex wanted us to get back together and just live together. We’d be able to date whoever we wanted but all of us would live together and we’d have an “intact family.” It was an interesting proposition and I can’t say I didn’t consider it for a moment. It’s been very difficult for me to support us and to handle everything on my own. If I had thought that was a better example for our son, I could have gone back to the “marriage.” I do think my son would have known that there was something odd and sooner or later he would figure it out as he got older.
I think there are people who live their marriages like that. I’ve had several parents at my son’s school say,
“I’m just waiting until the kids grow up,” or
“I wish I could do what you did,” or
“You guys get along better than we do.”
My ex has some issues with his temper and he expected me to handle everything and do everything for him in a sort of 1950’s wife way. I’m glad my son isn’t seeing that. I don’t want him to think that’s how you treat women. I also think my ex handles his temper and moods better when I’m not around – there’s no one to throw a tantrum at and no one else to take care of things so he has to hold it together more. I think he’s more responsible about his behavior now and that’s made him a much better father than he would have been if we had stayed together.
I definitely think it’s much better for our child that we didn’t stay together.
Unlike LA Single Mama, I’ve always thought it’s wrong to stay married for the sake of the children. I’m talking about when that’s a conscious decision which is different from deciding to keep working at a marriage.
However, before my divorce, I’d never even consider the possibility that divorce would change the type of parent you were. Similar to LA Single Mama, T saw her ex blossom after divorce and Carolyn thought her ex made a lousy husband but a great dad. I believe I’m a better mother now than I would have been if I’d stayed married.
I couldn’t understand before what someone meant when they said they didn’t want to get divorced but they were the one who had filed for divorce. I remember watching an interview with Princess Diana when she said that. I thought she was being an airhead, appealing for sympathy. I was thinking, “Why did you file for separation, if you didn’t want a divorce, then?” Now I get it. People do that because they truly believe their marriage can’t be fixed and it is necessary to end it. Just because you file for divorce doesn’t mean it’s a voluntary choice.
I also know now that if you have children, then divorce might end your marriage but your relationship with your ex continues, whether you like or not.
Has your view of divorce changed? Would you/could you stay in a marriage because of your children? Are you a better parent now than you would have been had you stayed married?