People often say that you shouldn't stay married for the sake of the kids. After all, the logic goes, if parents are miserable, it will only hurt the children.
It's better for kids, they say, to have two happy parents who lead separate lives than to be exposed to sadness, emotional distance and conflict. Makes sense, right? Wrong.
I've specialized in work with couples for nearly three decades. At the start of my career, I was one of those people who believed that staying together for the sake of the kids was foolhardy. Now, after seeing the havoc that divorce wreaks on the lives of families, I am an unabashed marriage-saver. And since I became dedicated to helping people resuscitate flat-lined marriages and keep their families together, I have learned a great deal about the process and the benefits of working things out.
First, I learned that implicit in the question, "Should people stay together for the sake of the kids,?" is the assumption that they will inevitably remain miserable in the marriage. This is insanity. Over the past decade, we have learned a tremendous amount about what constitutes a successful marriage. We actually have a very concrete understanding of what spouses need to do and stop doing to make marriages work.
Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is another matter; it requires skills — relationship skills. We learn about relationships as we grow up and unfortunately, most of us didn't have great role models.
Even if we did have great role models, we might choose a partner who wasn't so fortunate. If we don't have adequate relationship skills — knowing how to co-parent, communicate, resolve conflict, compromise, build on relationship strengths — our relationships fail. Continue reading.
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