Staying for The Sake of the Kids

Welcome to the "On Balance" guest blog. Every Tuesday and on days like today when I'm on vacation, "On Balance" features the views of a guest writer. It could be your neighbor, your boss, your most loved or hated poster from the blog, or you! Send me your original, unpublished entry (300 words or fewer) for consideration. Obviously, the topic should be something related to balancing your life.

By Maggie Leifer McGary

"You have a lot of 'babies,' " my nine-year-old son said to me a few months ago, glaring at me over the lunch table. I had just gotten off the phone with my fiance. I'd ended the call with my usual "bye, baby." My son apparently hadn't appreciated my using that particular term of endearment for anyone but himself.

I can't say I blame him; it must be incredibly hard to watch your mother love someone new, whether it's a new baby or a new husband. God knows I tried to love his dad and, as a stay-at-home mom worked hard to keep the marriage together "for the kids." The idea of only being able to live with my son and daughter part-time motivated me to make the marriage work. I went to individual therapy for years, convinced something was wrong with me, not the relationship. I went to marriage counseling with my ex-husband, again trying to identify what was wrong with me that was preventing me from being happy with the marriage. I pored over countless self-help books: How romantic love is a myth that undermines families, how divorce devastates kids forever, how sticking it out is the right thing to do.

Finally, once it was apparent that the marriage was beyond repair, I resigned myself to another 10+ years of co-existence and separate bedrooms so I could at least stave off the inevitable devastation until the kids went to college.

In the end, though, I realized that my efforts were hurting, not helping, my kids. I learned that both of my kids had remarked to friends: Your parents sleep in the same room? I hadn't considered that my ingenious plan to stay married living separate lives would shape my kids' views on what marriage is supposed to be. And then, of course, there was the particularly heated argument that ended with me throwing my keys at my ex-husband and him "accidentally" dislocating my shoulder. Watching my children's horrified, tear-stained faces as I left to drive myself to the emergency room made me realize there was no way that staying married was less harmful than divorcing.

So, after almost 14 years of marriage, eight of which I spent at home raising two kids, I got a job and a divorce. What had once seemed unimaginable to me turned out to be the best thing I ever could have done.

My joy, of course, is not necessarily shared by my kids. I have met a wonderful man, and I am living proof that romantic love is not a fairy tale. I have a great job and a fulfilling personal life. But it comes at a cost: namely, that my kids now live in two different houses. They see both their father and me almost every day. One of us is nearly always home with them after school. But the fact remains that they only live with each of us half the time. No amount of Mom's happiness can make up for that.

I can't help but fear I've become what I once considered the ultimate selfish mom: The woman whose happiness comes at her kids' expense. As a stay-at-home mom, I always scoffed at the "a good mom is a happy mom" concept. After all, doesn't society dictate that a good mom is willing to sacrifice everything for her kids? In my community the majority of moms don't work, and a mother's worth seems determined by the amount of time she spends volunteering at school or driving her kids to activities. I can't count how many times after my divorce and return to work I've gotten the condescending "I don't know how you do it" from moms who stay at home.

So my question for you today is this: Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?


Maggie Leifer McGary is a former stay-at-home mother who now works as a Web writer and developer. She is newly remarried and lives in Olney, Md., with her husband and two children. She writes about her journey from SAHM to working mom in her blog Motherwhatnowredux.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  August 21, 2007; 7:00 AM ET  | Category:  Guest Blogs
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Comments

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You did the right thing - good for you. Martyrdom doesn't look good on anyone.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 7:13 AM

First!

No, you did the right thing; what's amazing is how long it took you to realize that. My sister divorced her dolt of a husband after she realized he was too immature to be a father to their son, and he wasn't going to change. By herself, she raised a smart, well adjusted young man who just recently got married, and both of them are now attending graduate school. My nephew's dad remained in his life, but he never really "grew up" even after the divorce.

Divorcing him was the best thing my sister ever did, even though she knew being a single mom had its own set of tough challenges.

Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 7:14 AM

You did the right thing.

All of you need remain to be civil to each other, because you be together over the course of many years at family functions.

You sound like you tried.
You tried counseling, you got a job, etc.

Other than that, cut your losses, get on with your life, find happiness. Good for you and your son.

Good luck.

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 21, 2007 7:44 AM

We teach by example. How could they have learned to be in a happy healthy marrage if you don't modle that? You are a better Mom this way.

Posted by: sharonpalmer | August 21, 2007 7:45 AM

"Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?"

Noooooooo! What kills me about that "logic" is you're not fooling anyone. The kids know you're miserable, your husband knows you're miserable (as is he), hell, the person behind you in the grocery line knows you're miserable.

It's as simple as this: When you're happy and feeling in control of your life, that permeates everything you do and everyone you interact with. Your kids and acquaintences will also benefit.

I'm sorry to hear about the "dispersion" of you kids, but they will recover from it all. Just keep strong, keep doing things for YOU, keep them involved, and don't badmouth their dad (as hard as that can be sometimes). Doing that will make you into a positive role model for them and yourself.

Posted by: Corvette1975 | August 21, 2007 7:49 AM

I wish blog stats could keep a running total of how many Ahole husbands and blameless woman posts we get today. sigh

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 7:53 AM

"You did the right thing."

Who is anybody to judge whether Maggie did the right thing, or the wrong thing for that matter?

Oh, yeah, I almost forgot that this is the blogland for know-it-alls.

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 7:57 AM

"So my question for you today is this: Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?"

Tons of insecurity here to need approval from cyber strangers.
Why make it yet another competition between moms?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 7:58 AM

Maggie, this was a great blog entry and a very touching story. You definitely did the right thing and your children - albeit maybe when they are a bit older - will realize that and respect you all the more for the example you are setting.

I'm sure it isn't easy to walk away from a marriage, especially when kids are involved, but you sound as if you gave it your all and at the end, it just didn't work out. I think you should be able to sleep soundly at night with that knowledge.

Posted by: londonmom | August 21, 2007 8:00 AM

I always stay with my children. Well, sometime I eat them but that is another blog for another day!

Posted by: nonamehere | August 21, 2007 8:02 AM

Gee Patrick, sounds like this topic hit a nerve with you.

How about this one; I've got a friend who married probably too young for both of them. His wife (according to him; I never met her) was a controlling, jealous, scheming shrew who got into regular fights with him over minor incidents, threw his stuff into the driveway and threatened him with a knife on more than one occasion. The only reason he stayed with her (according to him) was because they had great sex.

Eventually that wasn't enough, and he left her and married another friend of mine who also left a controlling marriage, but on the opposite side. They've been married now for 8 years with two kids and are doing great.


Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 8:06 AM

pATRICK,

The same number of blameless women who bemoan the fact that their future in laws are the most bigoted, small minded people on this earth. But of course, the husband to be has none of these characteristics.

(and five years down the road, the women are wondering just who the hell they married!)

Posted by: nonamehere | August 21, 2007 8:11 AM

"I can't count how many times after my divorce and return to work I've gotten the condescending "I don't know how you do it" from moms who stay at home. "

This sentence struck me odd. I've gotten this "I don't know how you do it" from a number of people, mostly women, with children and without, older and younger, who stayed at home or worked, part-time or full-time. I don't know that I've ever found it condescending. Silly, perhaps, but not condescending. Maybe a lot of us just put up a good front and look like we have it more together than we do. Which I think is fine. Not everyone needs to know or wants to know when we're barely hanging on. Besides, regardless our kid situation or marriage/relationship situation, we fill our lives with things that we do. And you get so you wonder how you could do another thing. When we had our first child, she took up all our time (or so it seemed) so it was hard to imagine how we could do more. Then we had a 2nd child and then a 3rd. And now I wonder how I couldn't get more done when I "only" had one. As for "how you do it," you just do because that's your situation. I think the "I don't know how you do it" is almost a compliment, at least when I've encountered it.

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 21, 2007 8:20 AM

"I've gotten the condescending "I don't know how you do it" from moms who stay at home."

why is this condescending? Maybe they are truely impressed that you've done the right thing? OT their mind, perhaps what you are doing was the "road less traveled" and therefore more difficult.

Why assume that people are being insincere? They may be speaking from their heart. If you aren't sure ask them-- "what do you mean by that? Actually, my life and the lives of my children are so much better now-- better than I ever thought they would be. We are all much healthier than we were before."

Posted by: baby-work | August 21, 2007 8:25 AM

Maggie, you said "I can't count how many times after my divorce and return to work I've gotten the condescending "I don't know how you do it" from moms who stay at home." As a former SAHM who said this to moms who worked outside the home, I can state unequivocally that never once did I mean it condescendingly. And now that I am working, I don't know how I do it, either. Just sayin'.

Regarding whether you've made the right choice, I don't know. I really don't. Here's the reason for my uncertainty: my husband's parents pretty much loathe each other and always have from all accounts, yet are married. They are exhausting to be around. Yet they are still married, 50 years now and then some. My sister-in-law (whose parent divorced when she was 14) commented that it is striking to her that she has no good memories of childhood (even though her parents were reasonably happy until 2 years before they separated) and that the memories of the divorce and subsequent fallout seem to have blocked out anything good. My husband and his siblings, on the other hand, had by their own accounts a wonderful childhood with fabulous memories. They accept their parents arguing as something that is just part of the way they are. All the boys have successful, long-term marriages and the girl, well, she never got married because she's been kicking a$$ in her career from day and never had the time. Plus she told me she doesn't like the idea of sharing her money with anyone.

If I were in your shoes, I would probably have left, too. But is it the right thing for the kids? I don't know. I know it's not a popular statement, but it's how I feel.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 8:31 AM

Maggie -- I'm not in your marriage, so I can't tell you whether you did the right thing or not (sounds like you did from what you wrote, though). But something Hax said in her chat last week in response to a similar question really resonated with me: "How would you explain it to your kids, in hopes they'll grow up to model your behavior?"

I don't think there are any easy, automatic answers. Yes, it's "best" if you have two parents in a loving, healthy relationships -- but life isn't perfect, and sometimes you don't get that, so you have to figure out how best to play the hand you were dealt. And whichever option you pick, you will be sending a message to your kids. So I think all you can do is look at what each option would say to your kids. And then think: what do you hope/fear your kids will take out of this? What would you want your kids to do if they were in your situation?

If it helps, I was the product of a "broken home," back when people still used that term without irony. It wasn't easy for either me or my mother, and I probably did come out of it with "issues" (although it's hard to say whether the divorce really caused them, or whether they were just part of my personality that it's convenient to blame on the divorce). But on the other hand, I learned that a woman could be independent and self-sufficient (a fairly radical idea in 1970, and something that proved very valuable to me). And when my mom married my stepdad, I got to see up close what a good, solid, stable marriage could be (30+ years now), and to compare what made this one work and the first one not (given the small bits of sanitized stuff my mom and dad thought appropriate to share). Plus I got four great steps and halfs from the remarriages on both sides. So even if I could change the past, there's no way I would give up all of that just to keep my parents together.

Posted by: laura33 | August 21, 2007 8:33 AM

"So my question for you today is this: Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?"

Ask the parents who were killed in destructive relationships.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 8:37 AM

"Maggie, this was a great blog entry and a very touching story."

I agree that it was a good blog entry, but the story is very common. As long as people continue to encourage spouses to cut and run from their problems instead of identifying and correcting them, expect this situation to become more widespread than it already is.

It is real easy to blame a partner for one's own unhappiness and deny any part of a destructive relationship. Even in marriages where one spouse is afflicted with alcoholism, the non-drinking partner can be just as sick and resort to far more destructive behaviors than their drinking counterpart. It's the drinking spouse that gets the blame for the breakup of course. However, I've seen several cases when, after the divorce, the drinking spouse sobers up, and the non-drinking spouse continues to live a messed up life.

The point here being, that people who are destined to live happy, fulfilling lives, accept their mistakes , learn from their experiences, and move on in an efort to constantly improve themselves throughout their life.

On the flip side, as everyone knows, unhappy people blame everybody else for their problems.

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 8:41 AM

Having made the same decision to leave my ex (after counseling etc as well) I know we made the right decision. My accident prone daughter, whose worst year (multiple broken bones - she was with a different adult for each accident) was the year before we seperated, is no longer accident prone. All the adults in her life agree that she was probably reacting to the tension at home.
As a WOHM already I may have had that transition easier.

One request - I believe many of you other bloggers are the children of divorce. I would like to hear from you. As parents it may be easy for us to justify our actions and our children may tell us what we want to hear. In this essentially anonymous forum hearing the honest answers from the child's point of view is interesting. I know this isn't scientific, it will be anedoctal, but it also can be interesting.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | August 21, 2007 8:42 AM

"Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?"

I don't think there is any right answer to this question. I do not agree that it is as cut-and-dried as the early posters seem to think.

Assuming the relationship is "destructive" (I am assuming this means emotional pain) and not "violently abusive" (I did read the one incident but I am responding to her specific question) it is not obvious to me that the proper response is always to leave.

I think that for richer or poorer/better or worse/sickness or health means something. If the "destructive" nature of the marriage is based in any of those categories (yes, "worse" is pretty broad) then I think it is not a no-brainer that the marriage should dissolve.

Here's a scenario:
1) Husband is a bad money manager (according to wife). She tells him so. Often.
2) Bills barely met every month. Wife can't/won't work because she wants to be home to raise her kids hands-on.

Okay, so there is going to be lots of stress in this marriage based on the competing viewpoints. There is sure to be lots of shouting (at least once a month). Is it a no-brainer that this couple should break up because there will definitely be this ongoing strife around money? I don't think that's an easy question. We need more data.

Basically I think that while it may have been the right move for THIS author to leave THIS relationship, her question is far too general to just get the specious "yes, of course!!" answer that lots of posters are giving.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 8:43 AM

"Ask the parents who were killed in destructive relationships."

If you think about it, that's impossible to do.

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 8:44 AM

Catwhowalked wrote it best: Martyrdom doesn't look good on anyone.

Anyone who thinks that a marriage where people hate each other is still a marriage is a moron. That's not a marriage. It's hell on earth. You model for your kids that a marriage should be unhappy. End of story.

Anyone who thinks that waiting until the kids are in college to divorce is "better" is a moron. If you get divorced, do it sooner rather than later. Your kids are more likely to get over it. Why wait until they develop memories of bickering? Or memories of a happy home that will be shattered? Young kids can adjust a lot better than older kids, including college aged kids.

Staying in a bad marriage (not even abusive, but unhappy or hateful) for the kids (or for whatever reason) makes you a martyr. A very stupid martyr.

Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 8:54 AM

ProudPapa15 - so "one incident" of abuse is OK? Sorry, I know I am probably misinterpreting your statement, but it is NEVER ONE incident unless you leave. Men (and women) who hit will always hit.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 9:02 AM

I think whether it's better for the kids if their parents stay in a bad marriage rather than separating depends on how well the parents can make the family work without a strong marital relationship. If the parents can be outwardly civil and refrain from letting the kids see what's broken, then staying together can be good, I guess. But parents who scream, throw things, physically hurt each other and otherwise make it obvious that things aren't right should just split up.

FWIW, my parents hated each other. They fought like cats and dogs, my mom would regularly kick my dad out then claim he was off sleeping with his secretary (he wasn't), and each would often perform long monologues for us kids about how unhappy they were and how the other one was a bad spouse. Even worse, my mom never let us forget for a second that the only reason they hadn't divorced was for the "benefit" of us kids. I used to pray and pray that they'd get divorced.

Posted by: newsahm | August 21, 2007 9:04 AM

mom_of_1, my story of divorced parents might be shocking (sarcasm alert).

They both made mistakes! Dad is overbearing and has a temper. Mom is negative and shifts blame. Both drank too much.

There was no abuse! There were, however, plenty of screaming matches that left my brother and me crying ourselves to sleep.

In the end, Dad cheated and Mom found out. Dad later married the fling and now lives happily ever after. Mom is bitter and alone. She just sued him for alimony that takes half his meager pension.

What they did right: 1. Got divorced. Duh. 2. Left visitation to us because we were old enough to decide. 3. Both stayed in the same area so we could visit easily.

What they did wrong: 1. Didn't divorce sooner. They waited until I was 12. Very bad timing with all the other changes at that age. 2. They bad-mouthed each other every chance they could. 3. They confided in us way too much. We did not need to know the details; we still don't want to know! Even though we're adults, we hate that they try to get us to choose sides.

Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 9:09 AM

I don't see how parents can keep things from their children; my parents always made sure that they argued away from us kids (easy to do on a farm), but we still knew they were arguing about something. If there's a tension between parents the kids are going to notice and pick up on it.

I agree with meesh; staying in a marriage that is broken beyond repair for the sake of the kids is a stupid decision. It doesn't help anyone and probably hurts eveyrone.

Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 9:11 AM

The "I don't know how you do it" comment is one of those dumb things people say. It ranks right up there with "call me if you need anything."

I wouldn't read a thing into it.

People do what they need to. I'm sure for every wife/mother who ends an unhappy marriage and moves on there is another who sticks it out and years later either regrets it or describes it as a "rough patch" that eventually improved. You never know and second guessing probably isn't worth the effort.

IMO it's better for children to see you take action in your life about things you aren't happy with.

I wouldn't fall into the assumption that all Moms in your community stay at home and compete with each other for volunteer hours. Sometimes we just see certain "sets" of people and compare ourselves to what we perceive as the ideal. Don't just focus on what you used to be or thought you were going to be - focus forward on what you are. Others like you will start coming out of the woodwork.

Posted by: RedBird27 | August 21, 2007 9:12 AM

"I wish blog stats could keep a running total of how many Ahole husbands and blameless woman posts we get today."

A friend of mine, male, is currently returning to his life with his long-time girlfriend and their 2-yr-old son. He has gone through much therapy and resignation that his life is no longer what he thought it would be. I think this is more common among men than most people seem to think. Compromise for the sake of family. It happens, and it's not always the best option, but most people, at least in my experience, will do a lot for the sake of their children, for long (years, decades) periods of time.

Posted by: slrumph | August 21, 2007 9:13 AM

atb- I wonder how many people stay together, not for the kids' sakes, but because they can't imagine the kids not living with them full time, ie for their own sake. Honestly, the thought of sharing my daughter with someone else chills me, and my husband won't even entertain the idea, because he knows he'd be lucky to get her every other weekend.

So, what's the secret in choosing the right spouse? Smarts and luck?

I hate the term "romantic love." What's that supposed to mean? It does sound like a load of crap. Does romantic love involve taking out the garbage and cleaning up cat vomit? I believe you should love and be attracted to your spouse, and schmoopie time is fine, but be very careful of expectations.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 9:16 AM

I'm not going to get into the issue of whether parents should stay together for the sake of kids - sometimes they should, sometimes they shouldn't, sometimes people should at least try to stay together. What I quarrel with is this notion that we parents should sacrifice everything for our children. When did this push to make our kids life "perfect" start? As parents, our main job is to prepare our children for life, not to shield them from it.

Posted by: jjtwo | August 21, 2007 9:16 AM

Meesh, I totally disagree. There are bad marriages that, through therapy and healing and both people trying to make it work, become great marriages. You can't have a partnership with a person for 50+ years that doesn't have up and downs.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 9:19 AM

ProudPapa15 - so "one incident" of abuse is OK?
Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 09:02 AM

Please quote the text where I say that. Or even where I imply it.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 9:28 AM

There are bad marriages, and through therapy, succeed in making it worse.

It seems that most marriage counselors have a stack of business cards of their favorite divorce lawyer in their top drawer. Makes me wonder if they make a comission off of each referral.

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 9:34 AM

ProudPapa - please read the rest of my post. I guess I just saw the words "one incident" and reacted to that. It has to do with a relative who was chastised for leaving her husband, because he only hit her "once". Broke her jaw and knocked out a couple teeth, but her parents still wanted her to go back for the sake of the children..you know the story.
Didn't mean anything personal, sorry.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 9:34 AM

"so "one incident" of abuse is OK?"

Abuse is never OK. The question is more like, should one incidence of abuse end the marriage?

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 9:38 AM

I can't respond as a child of divorce, but can respond as a child who lost a sister to leukemia at 9 (she was 18) then had my mom plunge into a terrible though functional depression for about four years. I did not know anything was wrong with my family -- it looked pretty normal. But thinking back as an adult, my mom was a void over those years. I don't blame her -- it was a very natural response, and she tried. But it is very hard for kids developmentally when they are enmeshed in very damaging situations without any conscious awareness that "this is not how things should be."

I think bad marriages can have the same effect on kids, particularly where mom (or dad) withdraws emotionally and tries to soldier on through the unhappiness.

Posted by: sophie2 | August 21, 2007 9:54 AM

I can't respond as a child of divorce, but can respond as a child who lost a sister to leukemia at 9 (she was 18) then had my mom plunge into a terrible though functional depression for about four years. I did not know anything was wrong with my family -- it looked pretty normal. But thinking back as an adult, my mom was a void over those years. I don't blame her -- it was a very natural response, and she tried. But it is very hard for kids developmentally when they are enmeshed in very damaging situations without any conscious awareness that "this is not how things should be."

I think bad marriages can have the same effect on kids, particularly where mom (or dad) withdraws emotionally and tries to soldier on through the unhappiness.

Posted by: sophie2 | August 21, 2007 9:54 AM

Catwhowalked, I understand your strong reaction to violence. I have similar strong reactions to certain behaviors myself.

I did read your message that you may have misinterpreted me.

I reacted equally strongly to the notion that I would condone abuse. Like many (I suspect), I saw my dad hit my mom. Just once. I was probably about 10 years old. I have conflicted feelings about it. The reason is, my mom (RIP) was manic, and I'd also seen her pull a weapon on him, seemingly out of the blue. Now at the time, I was looking through the eyes of a 10(?) year old so I don't know how much my recollection is clouded by a lack of understanding.

What I do know, is that I don't condone violence in a marriage. I specifically said, "Assuming the relationship is 'destructive' and NOT 'violently abusive'..." So I have no idea how I was misinterpreted.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 9:55 AM

My parents divorced when I was in college. I knew they had an unhappy marriage but was unprepared still for the sorrow I felt at graduation, seeing (seemingly happy) families walk around with the graduates. I thought, that is gone for me, forever.

During and after the divorce, there was lots of drama, especially on my mom's side (she way overshared, and I found out way too many doubtful "secrets", such as she thought my father raped her once and that he's gay -- I still don't know about that).

My father never said a bad word about my mother. When I told my mom this in the hopes that she would stop badmouthing my father, she said, "Yeah, right, what's he going to say?" and then launched into another tirade against him.

It was the most painful experience of my life (I'm now in my early 30s). If things had been handled amicably, I think it would have been ok. But my mom just fell apart. Both my parents are in their mid-60s, and I consider them both way too damaged still to ever remarry.

I have managed to build a happy family for myself after some time in therapy in my early 20s. Invaluable. I am grateful for what I have today.


Posted by: goodhome631 | August 21, 2007 9:58 AM

"So my question for you today is this: Is a mom who stays in a destructive relationship for the sake of her kids really a better mom than one who takes care of herself?"

Posted by Maggie Leifer McGary | 7:00 AM

A good question. Here's another:

Suppose a man is very unhappy in his marriage. He finds it to be a destructive relationship. His wife yells at him, berates him in public, throws things at him, hits him, generally makes his life miserable. Maybe he's afraid she will follow the example of the lady in today's Washington Post who is "Rebuilding a Life After Killing Her Husband." Suppose he has a good lawyer who tells him he can divorce her, get full custody of the children (who will see their mother every other week-end), keep the family home, and be rid of her. If he does that, he is confident that he will find a better wife who will be a good stepmother for his children. If he doesn't do it, at best he will continue to be miserable, at worst he'll wind up dead.

If such a father stays in his marriage for the sake of his children, is he really a better father than a man who takes care of himself and throws his wife out?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 21, 2007 9:59 AM

WorkingMomX, we'll have to agree to disagree. I agree that every marriage has rough spots and that most are worth weathering. I also agree that therapy can be great.

But seeing a therapist for years at a time? "Ups" that last a year and "downs" that last 5 years? I don't think that's a healthy pattern. As my friend says, "you can't polish a turd."

I think people like to make themselves seem pious or brave because they're "sticking it out" in a bad marriage. In reality, they are probably too scared to be on their own. Or they think they deserve to be unhappy. My friend's married parents haven't slept in the same bed in 20 years and they live in separate houses in separate states. That's not a marriage. That's a joke.

Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 10:01 AM

"And then, of course, there was the particularly heated argument that ended with me throwing my keys at my ex-husband and him "accidentally" dislocating my shoulder. Watching my children's horrified, tear-stained faces as I left to drive myself to the emergency room made me realize there was no way that staying married was less harmful than divorcing."


This is what I don't get. Why women think that staying in this type of environment is better for the kids than splitting up.

You're lucky that while you drove yourself to the hospital, and left your kids with him that he didn't continue to take out his rage on them. It happens all the time, and really, it could've happened while you were there, too.

Posted by: jrs1978smith | August 21, 2007 10:01 AM

RE:But is it the right thing for the kids? I don't know. I know it's not a popular statement, but it's how I feel.

Posted by: WorkingMomX

My husband and I have been married 20 years. We are polar opposites in almost every area of our lives except loving our children. Both of us are children of divorce (his mom has had 4 husbands, mine 2) so divorce is not an option. Recovery from divorce for children is an illusion. Often you hear people say "children are so resilient." This may be true on its face but in reality the child has learned a coping skill/mechanism to deal with the emotional trauma i.e. overeating, self-injury, depression. I believe that when you make the choice to have children you give up the right to put yourself first. Right now neither of us are particularly happy with where we are in our lives (working when I'd prefer to be home for my children, debt, aging home that needs upkeep but no $$)but we're committed to the family. Do we argue? Yep. Does one of us do more than his fair share? Yep. Does it create tension in our home? Yep. But we also model what marriage really is by staying together and working it out: compromise, plain and simply. We show them that nothing in the world worth having is easy and that includes marriage.

momof3boys

Posted by: CheleFernandez | August 21, 2007 10:09 AM

Yes, you are selfish. Get ready for a ton of problems when your kids start their own families. You deserve to be happy but don't fool yourself -- it did come at the expense of your children, and it will come back to bite them, and you.

Posted by: bcerich | August 21, 2007 10:17 AM


Note to self: If there's ever a blog day on those who sell financial services, be sure to skip it."

MN, I don't blame you, I will skip it too sounds like a real snoozer!:)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 10:18 AM

ProudPapa - sorry, ready your post too fast then typed too fast....my bad.

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 10:19 AM

"This may be true on its face but in reality the child has learned a coping skill/mechanism to deal with the emotional trauma i.e. overeating, self-injury, depression. "

These are serious issues, especially the self-injury. If a child is expressing these they need help. Maybe in this case the marriage still can't be saved, but it can be made easier on the child if you get them professional help when needed. Even though I agree that sometimes it is better that the marriage end I would never say that the child(ren) aren't effected. If there is any question that they are having trouble adjusting get them some help, a support group, a counselor, etc.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | August 21, 2007 10:19 AM

"This may be true on its face but in reality the child has learned a coping skill/mechanism to deal with the emotional trauma i.e. overeating, self-injury, depression. "

These are serious issues, especially the self-injury. If a child is expressing these they need help. Maybe in this case the marriage still can't be saved, but it can be made easier on the child if you get them professional help when needed. Even though I agree that sometimes it is better that the marriage end I would never say that the child(ren) aren't effected. If there is any question that they are having trouble adjusting get them some help, a support group, a counselor, etc.

Posted by: mom_of_1 | August 21, 2007 10:19 AM

The shoulder-dislocation incident was started when she threw her keys at him. This she admitted. For all we know, she was in a rage, threw her keys and charged, and he grabbed her arm and yanked HARD, dislocating her shoulder. In this scenario she is as likely to abuse the kids as he is. I hate to side with Matt from Aberdeen and pATRICK, but we all rush to the assumption that The Man is violent and at fault, and The Woman is pious and perfect. I know a man is bigger and stronger than a woman, but that doesn't mean she gets to be physically abusive. My husband and I were watching Footloose (which is TERRIBLE) the other day, and there is a scene where the girl punches her ex in the face. They basically end up in a fist fight, which she started and subsequently lost, though the ex didn't beat her to a pulp like he could have. My husband was really bothered that the guy would punch back, but I thought, she started it, he ended it, noone was seriously injured. You start a fight, you should expect to get a fight. Don't assume people won't hit back. Once you open that door, you better pray the other person isn't as inflamed as you are. This is why women who hit men are very very stupid.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 10:20 AM

Now for my two cents. I think the blogger gave a balanced view as much a sone can of what happened. I think it is better for people to get divorced, at least the fighting will be over for the kids, somewhat. But divorce is a nasty business and people can be crazy, so it is kind of a crapshoot. My post was in the hope that we don't just get a ' MY bil was a ___, my ex husband was a _____ all day long.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 10:21 AM

I thought for a long time about this post, because my own parents are divorced, and I am divorced from Organic Kid's dad. My parents divorce involved a great deal of acrimony, huge custody battles, and a mom who more than once said to me "I can't stand you, you're so much like your d**ned dad. I only let you live her for child support." Before the divorce, my house was silent. My parents didn't talk, they didn't sleep in the same room, and my sisters and I played in one of our rooms with the doors closed. So, yeah, my life may have been better if they hadn't divorced, but I doubt it. My mom would've had said most of what she did if my dad were still in the picture (except she would only keep me around because dad insisted instead of child support or something). There was never respect or happiness.
I think that having this relationship modeled for me lead to my choice of my first husband. But, this experience also helped me to handle my divorce differently. He and I speak frequently. We support each other's decisions. Organic Kid always hears me speak of him with respect and fondness, and him speak of me in the same way. I rather like his new wife, and he clearly adores her. He has told me he thinks my Organic Guy is great, and is happy to see how much he cares for and step-dads Organic Kid. So, many people here might ask why we divorced in the first place, if we get along so well. Organic Kid explained it pretty well, though, just a few weeks ago. She said "I don't remember you and dad laughing and dancing and being silly like you and Organic Guy. And it's the same at Dads. He and New Wife laugh a lot more too. I'm so happy that I have two happy families and not just one quiet one." That statement just chilled me, because the only thing I really remember of my parents being together was the silence. I think Organic Kid is benefitting from seeing her parents happy, engaged with their lives, and engaged with her. I shudder to think of the silence being her memories of childhood.

Posted by: OrganicGal | August 21, 2007 10:22 AM

Meesh, you say "I think people like to make themselves seem pious or brave because they're "sticking it out" in a bad marriage. In reality, they are probably too scared to be on their own. Or they think they deserve to be unhappy."

These are people who will be unhappy in any marriage or significant relationship. Why not work through the problems and get passed them?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 10:22 AM

CheleFernandez |

"But we also model what marriage really is by staying together and working it out: compromise, plain and simply."

Sounds more like you being a smug, self- righteous martyr than compromise. A common, but poor example for kids.

"We show them that nothing in the world worth having is easy and that includes marriage"

Really? JC might not agree. But most of your problems do stem from lack of money...

"Recovery from divorce for children is an illusion" A phony marriage is also an illusion.

I would love to hear your husband's side of the story!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 10:25 AM

My husband and I were watching Footloose (which is TERRIBLE) the other day, and there is a scene where the girl punches her ex in the face. They basically end up in a fist fight, which she started and subsequently lost, though the ex didn't beat her to a pulp like he could have.

This is an excellent point. I teach my son not to hit girls and I will teach my daughter not to hit boys. A woman I worked with once told me that her father said once you put up your fists you are no longer a lady but a combatant with another person and you should be expected to be treated accordingly. Very wise advice that I will pass on to my daughter.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 10:29 AM

Hillary, Who is JC? Is that the poster's husband?

Also, I wish you'd tone it down. What right do you have to take that tone with a poster who offered her example?

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 10:35 AM

Hillary, I just figured out you may be talking about Jesus Christ. It's a bit presumptuous to assume the poster is a Christian.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 10:38 AM

My parents divorced when I was 14. I struggled with anorexia from age 11. I got better after the split. Flash forward 20 years -- Mom is happy and we have positive relationship. Dad, though remarried, is as miserable as ever. I am glad my mom got out. My Dad is not willing or able to be an engaged partner or father. I've been married 11 years to a man who doesn't shut me out. I plan to stick around for the long haul because it's a partnership. But you can't make a sick, miserable person better just by staying with them. That's a deal breaker because the wasted, ruined lives just multiply.

Posted by: taylor.amy | August 21, 2007 10:38 AM

Yes, you are selfish. Get ready for a ton of problems when your kids start their own families. You deserve to be happy but don't fool yourself -- it did come at the expense of your children, and it will come back to bite them, and you.

Posted by: bcerich | August 21, 2007 10:17 AM

Good grief, they've been in a fight that turned violent enough that she ended up in the emergency room! Yes, divorce is hard on kids, but so is growing up in a violent home. It would be a harder call for me if the marriage was merely "not-so-great", but it sounds like she made a real effort to patch things up, and maybe he did too for all we know. This isn't even about blame, it's about not letting things escalate to the point where one of them kills the other or takes out their frustrations on the kids. IMHO, some marriages really don't deserve to survive!

When I was younger, sometimes it seemed that people sometimes got divorced rather than even try to stay in the marriage if they were even somewhat unhappy. But nowadays, it seems like the pendulum has swung so far in the opposite direction that people will lay guilt trips on someone who leaves a truly dangerous situation like this one.

Another IMHO- maybe people in general should think longer and harder before they get married or have children in the first place?

Posted by: SheGeek | August 21, 2007 10:52 AM

"I teach my son not to hit girls and I will teach my daughter not to hit boys. A woman I worked with once told me that her father said once you put up your fists you are no longer a lady but a combatant with another person and you should be expected to be treated accordingly. Very wise advice that I will pass on to my daughter."

Patrick, if you teach your daughter to not hit men, you need to rethink that and perhaps modify your teaching. She needs to learn self-defense and that in some cases, fighting is not only ok, it is necessary. The teaching is how to recognize those times.

Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 10:53 AM

My parents also divorced when I was child. To this day, I still think it's better to divorce than to subject your children to a bad situation. It was very clear that not all problems can be worked out. It's not for me to say whether or not someone I don't know should have gotten divorced, because the only people who know that is the couple in question.

Likewise, whether kids of divorced parents can ever 'get over' the divorce depends on the individual. Blanket statements that say "divorce always causes lasting problems' or "children of divorce will have difficulties later on" never sit right with me. Again, it depends on the individual. Sure, no doubt some kids will have problems. Others won't.

And whether or not the kids have problems is irrelevant if the relationship will hurt them worse. Spending years in a home with tempers flaring, arguments, constant strife, and no peace will cause just as much harm, whether or not there is abuse. The most important thing that helped my siblings and I was the simple fact that our mother never once put down our father in front of us. That gave us a solid foundation that we didn't get from our father, who did insult and degrade our mother.

Keep the kids out of it, don't expect or encourage them to take sides, make sure they know it's not their fault, and above all, make sure that no matter what happened between the parents, the kids are still wanted and loved. From a kid's perspective, it's very easy to blame yourself for the divorce, to think that something you did caused it. As an adult, I know better, but I didn't when I was five.

Posted by: Sitka1 | August 21, 2007 10:54 AM

Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 10:53 AM
Well, of course. Defending yourself is one thing, hitting men because you are pissed off and can't control yourself is quite another.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 10:55 AM

Patrick, if you teach your daughter to not hit men, you need to rethink that and perhaps modify your teaching. She needs to learn self-defense and that in some cases, fighting is not only ok, it is necessary. The teaching is how to recognize those times.

Posted by: johnl | August 21, 2007 10:53 AM

I think Patrick was referring to striking out in anger, not self-defense. It is a good thing to teach all children - don't assume the other party will not hit back!

Posted by: Catwhowalked | August 21, 2007 11:00 AM

Has anyone read "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce"? A fascinating book about a 25-year study done on children of divorce.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 11:05 AM

I was a SAHM until my youngest was in middle school and then again when she became ill in high school. My marriage was marked by my own medical problems, including mental health difficulties, and the children's health problems. We were pillars of the community, and we got along great most of the time. Just before our 30th wedding anniversary, my husband admitted that he had been unhappy for some time. Our children were grown, launched into their own adult lives. We separated, then divorced when he met someone he wanted to marry. He seems happy. Our children surprised him by not being as suppportive as he had hoped. They felt that a contract had been broken--they expected that they would have their intact family (a rarity in our social group) until we were doddering old people together. It has been difficult for them to reconcile their father's stated unhappiness with his loving behavior and steadfastness through difficulties. Now they question everything they do in relationships in light of what might happen many years from now. So I don't know what is "best" for the children, even when we all try to do our darndest.

Posted by: rerow75 | August 21, 2007 11:08 AM

«Catwhowalked wrote it best: Martyrdom doesn't look good on anyone.»
«Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 08:54 AM»

O Ladies, martyrdom looks good on Husayn ibn Ali, the Third Imam. The battle of Karbala in the year 61 AH, Husayn was gravely wounded, hit in the head by a stone, shot by an arrow. Syrian soldiers, they came upon the wounded Husayn ibn Ali to kill him. Shimr ibn Dhiljawshan, he was bloodthirsty, who else but a bloodthirsty Muslim terrorist would slit the throat of a wounded man and cut off his head and put it upon a spear to show off? Ashura, the fast of the tenth day of Muharram, Muslims every year honor the honorable martyr, Husayn ibn Ali.

And Prophet Abinadi, was he not martyred by the evil King Noah, because he would not deny the Divine Commandments, and he suffered death by fire? Mosiah 17:20.

And Prophet Issa ibn Maryam, was he not martyred, set up by perfidious priests and Pharisees and crucified? His crucifix, was it not painted on the shields of the crusaders, a symbol of martyrdom?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 21, 2007 11:11 AM

I'm loathe to comment on one's dvorce choices since who really knows what goes on behind closed doors, but you put this out here, so.....I am confused about the following : "And then, of course, there was the particularly heated argument that ended with me throwing my keys at my ex-husband and him "accidentally" dislocating my shoulder. Watching my children's horrified, tear-stained faces as I left to drive myself to the emergency room made me realize there was no way that staying married was less harmful than divorcing....My joy, of course, is not necessarily shared by my kids. " Of course, if your husband was physically violent with you, you leave, but why do people argue that it's either staying together and miserable, which you live out in front of the kids making them miserable or happily divorcing? If you love your kids so much, why would you fight so violently with your spouse that you threw your keys at him, in front of them? You say yourself that your new joy isn't shared by your kids. As with all studies, I am sure there are anecdotal exceptions, but didn't everyone see last year's study that showed, on the whole, kids of unhappily married parents are better off in the long run than those of "happily" divorced ones?

Posted by: lancehubner | August 21, 2007 11:12 AM

Hi pATRICK:

You seem like so much less of a right-wing loonie today. (Oh by the way, that was something called sarcasm. Look it up.)

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:13 AM

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 21, 2007 11:11 AM

BAGHDAD BOB is in the house............

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 11:15 AM

To Everyone Else on This Blog (except pATRICK):

Shhh. Don't tell him. I'm waiting for his usual attempt at humor. Accent on "attempt".

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:15 AM

To Maggie:
You must be new around here.
For the rest of us, here is today's posting from Maggies' blog:
motherwhatnowredux.blogspot.com

btw when you end a personal blog entry with a question, you can expect a pretty direct answer here.

***************************************
Wow--who knew that there was so much pent up (or maybe not pent up? Maybe these people go through life, hands clenched and jaw muscles coiled, just waiting for the next idiot to speak up so they can start the verbal attack?) rage out there! I didn't realize my piece for Washingtonpost.com was a hunk of meat being thrown to an angry mob poised to rip me personally. Um, I don't recall, in the piece, asking whether or not people thought I did the right thing--I was not looking for sympathy or confirmation that I did the right thing by leaving. I was throwing out the question is a mom who stays for the kids a better mom.

Regardless--I guess I shouldn't be surprised--just drive around town for a day and enjoy these same people behind the wheel in their cars. If reading a blog entry about some anonymous woman's divorce sets them off so much, just imagine how tolerant they are of the slow car in front of them or the person who refuses to crash a light.

I personally can barely string together thoughts, let alone words, this early in the morning.

Posted by Maggie at 5:38 AM 0 comments

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 21, 2007 11:15 AM

Damn. I missed it whilst he was posting. He already tried humor and failed. Please pATRICK, go back to your office and kneel down in front of that big poster of Dick Cheney. Be a supplicant. I know you can do it. Love you pATRICK!!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:19 AM

Posted by: chemguy1157 | August 21, 2007 11:15 AM

Post still eating posts? I think now we know the rest of the story as they say.....

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 11:19 AM

Wow--who knew that there was so much pent up (or maybe not pent up? Maybe these people go through life, hands clenched and jaw muscles coiled

Maggie, only Hillary and Bababooey fit that bill. We try to ignore them since they only clog up the blog like a turd in the toilet.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 11:21 AM

I think pATRICK and John are on to a good topic for a completely different day. Although I wonder if this is a topic more of interest to Dads than to Moms. (Actually, I don't know why I say that. Maybe that was a sexist statement. If so, pardon me.)

I'm sure no one teaches their kids to strike first in anger. BUT.....

Do you teach your kids to
A) Hit Back; or;
B) Turn the other cheek??

I'm curious what you guys think....

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 11:21 AM

"Maggie, only Hillary and Bababooey fit that bill. We try to ignore them since they only clog up the blog like a turd in the toilet."

Wow. Toilet humor. I expected so much more of pATRICK. I guess unrealistic expectations are not only reserved for the Bushies working on Iraq!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:26 AM

that blog piece from maggie is a bit odd. If she characterizes these comments as full of rage and anger, it makes me wonder what was accomplished during all those years of therapy. this sort of hyperbole might make a thinking man question Maggie's perceptions of her ex, current spouse and marriages.

da*n, the village idiot, baba / abu has returned. I'd hoped he'd lose his way back after poisoning several other blogs.

Posted by: gcoward | August 21, 2007 11:27 AM

WorkingMomX wrote "These are people who will be unhappy in any marriage or significant relationship. Why not work through the problems and get passed them?"

Well, I'm all for working through problems. Our 2 year anniversary was yesterday, and my husband and I have worked through job losses, death, three moves, buying a house, and living with the in-laws. I'm sure there's more to come. If he ever berated me, yelled at me, or insulted me, we would seek therapy. If it didn't work, we would get a divorce. However, there are some things that cannot be worked through, like cheating or hitting.

So the short answer is that of course people should try to work it out. If a person changes and therapy can't change him or her back, I think it's time to leave.

Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 11:28 AM

RE:Has anyone read "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce"? A fascinating book about a 25-year study done on children of divorce.

I don't suppose you could offer a brief synopsis (time & space constraints)here on the blog...could you?
BTW...thanks for defending me earlier...:)

momof3boys

Posted by: CheleFernandez | August 21, 2007 11:29 AM

Has anyone read "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce"? A fascinating book about a 25-year study done on children of divorce.

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 11:05 AM

I'm on the look-out for a fascinating book about a 25 year study done on children of parents staying in miserable, loveless marriages to serve as a bookend. One group is needy. The other accepts dysfunction as normal.

Posted by: gcoward | August 21, 2007 11:30 AM

pATRICK:

I love you like a son. You are what makes this country great! No matter how simple, or uneducated, or humorless you are, you have a right to speak! And make those weaknesses clear. I praise Leslie for giving you a forum to demonstrate your inadequacies. There are those who will view this as crossing the line into a personal attack. But that is truly not my intention. I really do love the fact that persons such as pATRICK have the freedom of speech. GOD BLESS YOU Patrick!!!!

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:31 AM

Here's the blurb from Amazon about the book I was talking about. Gcoward, I'm sure there's a book like the one you're looking for somewhere. Keep looking and do let us know if you find it, won't you?

Amazon.com
During the last 40 years, our society's views on how families are created and how they operate has undergone a tremendous shift. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, authors Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee have assembled a variety of stories from people of different ages and life stages. Some are children of divorce, some are from families that stayed unhappily intact, but all of them offer valuable information important to all of us as parents, children, and members of society at large. Separate chapters focus on the different roles children take on in the event of a divorce or unhappy marriage, ranging from positive role model to deeply troubled adolescent. In many cases, the people interviewed continue to define themselves as children of divorce up to 30 years after the occurrence; this is described by one subject as "sort of a permanent identity, like being adopted or something."
Both encouraging and thought-provoking, the final chapter questions how we maintain the freedom made possible by divorce while, at the same time, minimizing the damage. The authors' response to this question begins with pragmatic suggestions about strengthening marriage--not bland "family values" rhetoric but practical how-to ideas combined with national policy initiatives that have been making the rounds for years. With fascinating stories and statistics, Wasserstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee have illuminated the improvements within reach while our society experiences these massive changes in it's most fundamental relationships. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly
Twenty-five years ago, when the impact of divorce on children was not well understood, Wallerstein began what has now become the largest study on the subject, and this audiobook, which McIntire reads with compassion and warmth, presents the psychologist's startling findings. By tracking approximately 100 children as they forge their lives as adults, she has found that contrary to the popular belief that kids would bounce back after the initial pain of their parents' split, children of divorce often continue to suffer well into adulthood. Their pain plays out in their relationships, their work lives and their confidence about parenting themselves. Wallerstein argues that although the situation is dire, there is hope to be found at the end of good counseling and healing. Unfortunately, in her desire to communicate a lot in a highly accessible format, Wallerstein verges on oversimplification at times. Nonetheless, hers is an important contribution to our understanding of what is a central social problem. Based on the Hyperion hardcover (Forecasts, July 17, 2000).

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 11:33 AM

Re:
"However, there are some things that cannot be worked through, like cheating or hitting."

I have to disagree with this statement. All things can be worked out if both parties are willing to do the necessary work to heal the wounds. It's not easy or painless but it's possible. Marriage takes 2 people actively working to grow and change. If you don't address the issues in this relationship who's to say they won't crop up again in a new one? I believer these are symptoms of greater underlying problems.
momof3boys

Posted by: CheleFernandez | August 21, 2007 11:36 AM

Do you teach your kids to
A) Hit Back; or;
B) Turn the other cheek??

I teach my daughter to defend herself. That means, that if another kid is hurting her and she can't get away or the teacher can't get to her fast enough, she is to hit them back. And, if the fighting is constant then she needs to fight back to let the bully know she is not a victim.

I think it is a tightrope between raising a bad @$$ and not raising a scapegoat. I don't want her to be the kid who starts fights, but I don't want her to be the one who is always picked on either.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 11:42 AM

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 11:42 AM
I agree

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 11:46 AM

I haven't read it but here are editorial reviews of the Unexpected Legacy of Divorce from Amazon:

Amazon.com
During the last 40 years, our society's views on how families are created and how they operate has undergone a tremendous shift. In The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce, authors Judith Wallerstein, Julia Lewis, and Sandra Blakeslee have assembled a variety of stories from people of different ages and life stages. Some are children of divorce, some are from families that stayed unhappily intact, but all of them offer valuable information important to all of us as parents, children, and members of society at large. Separate chapters focus on the different roles children take on in the event of a divorce or unhappy marriage, ranging from positive role model to deeply troubled adolescent. In many cases, the people interviewed continue to define themselves as children of divorce up to 30 years after the occurrence; this is described by one subject as "sort of a permanent identity, like being adopted or something."
Both encouraging and thought-provoking, the final chapter questions how we maintain the freedom made possible by divorce while, at the same time, minimizing the damage. The authors' response to this question begins with pragmatic suggestions about strengthening marriage--not bland "family values" rhetoric but practical how-to ideas combined with national policy initiatives that have been making the rounds for years. With fascinating stories and statistics, Wasserstein, Lewis, and Blakeslee have illuminated the improvements within reach while our society experiences these massive changes in it's most fundamental relationships. --Jill Lightner --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Publishers Weekly
Twenty-five years ago, when the impact of divorce on children was not well understood, Wallerstein began what has now become the largest study on the subject, and this audiobook, which McIntire reads with compassion and warmth, presents the psychologist's startling findings. By tracking approximately 100 children as they forge their lives as adults, she has found that contrary to the popular belief that kids would bounce back after the initial pain of their parents' split, children of divorce often continue to suffer well into adulthood. Their pain plays out in their relationships, their work lives and their confidence about parenting themselves. Wallerstein argues that although the situation is dire, there is hope to be found at the end of good counseling and healing. Unfortunately, in her desire to communicate a lot in a highly accessible format, Wallerstein verges on oversimplification at times. Nonetheless, hers is an important contribution to our understanding of what is a central social problem. Based on the Hyperion hardcover (Forecasts, July 17, 2000).

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 21, 2007 11:51 AM

Oops. Hadn't read far enough to see that WorkingMomX had already posted the Amazon reviews.

Posted by: rockvillemom | August 21, 2007 11:53 AM

Yes, you did the right thing. Remember, there will be fallout for the kids no matter what choices you make -- the world of a family is never so simple as a black and white, good vs. bad. As long as all of the adults involved resist the impulse to talk badly about the other adults involved in front of the kids, and present a united front, the kids will be just fine.

I speak from experience and that of my mother, of whom I am so proud! I have learned so much from her about defining and pursuing goals, how to make good choices, how to be a good person and confront adversity.... so much of the so-called "perfect life" and "perfect family" is TV bull***t. The children learn nothing but how to survive in rotten situations with no future -- and those are NOT the life and relationship skills that will help them later.

You are a conscientious and thoughtful mom, and that is where the real foundation of success in motherhood is. Ignore what the other mothers say, or what their definition of a "good mother" is -- the only thing that matters is what YOU think. This "competition" that so many people seem to feel is their psychosis, not yours.

Your kids will "get it" when they are older and have had time to learn that every life is made up of a series of choices. They are going to have problems and they are going to be incredibly frustrating at times no matter what choices you make.

As always, they will grow and shift and change in their thoughts and perspectives over the years, as do we all, and the only good way to navigate that road is with the compass of unconditional love.

As long as you have that, your kids are gonna be fine.

Posted by: desi | August 21, 2007 11:56 AM

Assuming all kids are going to react the same way to the same circumstance is stupid, and no divorce is the same as any other divorce. Like many of the other things we fight about here, this is a very personal decision.

Having said that, I think that a child should grow up in a home or homes where there are healthy adult relationships. (Not always possible, of course.) Parents should try to have happy marriages for their children's sake. That is a thing worth fighting for. Just holding it together, trying to hide the rancor--not worth fighting for. Think about it--is the marriage on life support? Or are you setting up a corpse in the living room for ten years? There's a profound difference.

One of the best divorces I've ever seen was a friend's. She would be an incredibly difficult spouse (which I say with affection) but she and her ex-husband are now on excellent terms, live in the same town, share custody without quarrelling, and have a happy son. She and his new wife are good friends as well. She and her ex were tempermentally completely unsuited to live together (both very high-strung, type A, outspoken), but they are good friends. It was a smart decision. But that's no blanket endorsement.

Posted by: krasni | August 21, 2007 11:57 AM

CheleFernandez, I hear you. Surely most things can be worked out. However, everyone has "deal breakers." Mine are hitting and adultery.

The key, which you mentioned, is that both partners have to be on the same page in terms of "healing." If these deal-breaker events occur, I think that the offending partner is already checked out of the relationship and is unwilling to change.

Also, both of these events actually break the marriage contract. They also break the law. As I see it, after these events occur, the contract is void.

These events also spit in the face of the sacrament of marriage. So if you stay together because it's God's law, you're a hypocrite because you don't take the sacrament seriously.

Posted by: Meesh | August 21, 2007 11:57 AM

I think Maggie's remark on her on blog was interesting. 1 - because she made it there and not here, the original place where she posted and 2 - because she clearly latched on to those relatively few comments that were critical. Actually, most were pretty supportive, especially in the beginning.

I still liked her blog entry as I find it thought-provoking, but her response is somewhat defensive. I mean - what really did she expect?

Posted by: londonmom | August 21, 2007 11:59 AM

"I teach my daughter to defend herself. That means, that if another kid is hurting her and she can't get away or the teacher can't get to her fast enough, she is to hit them back. And, if the fighting is constant then she needs to fight back to let the bully know she is not a victim."

Think about it. This sounds a lot like what the Sunnis must be thinking in Iraq.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 11:59 AM

I went through a similar scenario as Maggie, and after dealing with emotional and physical abuse as well as betrayal, I chose divorce. I am much happier for it, and so is my daughter. It's a no-brainer: staying with an abusive husband teaches children that this is normal behavior. I do not want my daughter to believe this is what she should expect from a husband.

And anyone advocating that women should stay in these situations...check out the story on the front of washingtonpost.com about the woman who killed her abusive husband. I suspect divorce might have been a better alternative for her and her children, not to mention her now-dead husband.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 21, 2007 12:02 PM

Glad someone mentioned "Legacy of Divorce" - a stellar book worth the time to read. In one of the most heart-breaking sections the author describes the considerable struggles of a nice young woman who was the original research model for the 'parents divorce amicably and everyone stays focused on the kid.' Over time even this best-case child of divorce felt the reverberations. (The author followed these kids over decades, a remarkable glimpse into the ongoing effects of divorce.)
I am happy to be a single mom in a calm home but the huge standard of living drop and fatigue of shifting kids to another city for visits is a real issue. I don't make light of it and after reading this book understand the girls will never be fully 'over' this nuclear blast in their hearts.
Pls. don't divorce unless you must - get a 3rd party opinion and don't let burnout/pride/exasperation drive the decision.

Posted by: OrlandoNan | August 21, 2007 12:02 PM

"I still liked her blog entry as I find it thought-provoking, but her response is somewhat defensive. I mean - what really did she expect? "

Kind of makes me wonder what Leslie tells these people. Do they even read OB? I don't think anyone here savaged her, she seems very thin skinned.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 12:03 PM

Posted by: pepperjade | August 21, 2007 12:02 PM

TIME OUT! where did she say she was abused? She threw some keys at her husband and ended up with a dislocated shoulder. Did he hit her, did she slip? did he try to fend her off? did he throw her on the ground and dislocate her shoulder? No one here will know. That is a big leap you are taking.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 12:06 PM

A comment on Maggie's blog:

Cassie said...
Hey Maggie, thanks for the sweet comment on my blog - I feel better already.
Yes, I definitely want to join your book club since my "jewish women's" book club is the lamest thing ever that never meets and when we do (in one of their huge houses, btw since they're all married to doctors) they just talk about their 50k bar mitzvahs. No, I'm not bitter or jealous. Anyway, I too love Augusten Burroughs and will gladly read this (new?) book.

8/8/07 8:11 AM

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 12:07 PM

"da*n, the village idiot, baba / abu has returned. I'd hoped he'd lose his way back after poisoning several other blogs."

Hey gcoward, you keep talking tough. Are you willing to take my bet on my identity or not? Don't keep on being a little pissant. Stand up for yourself. Take it or admit you're wrong. And STOP ASSUMING I'M A MALE.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 12:09 PM

Well, I think it's safe to say Maggie has a few "issues".

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 12:18 PM

Well, I think it's safe to say Maggie has a few "issues".

That is why it is treacherous to take sides on these issues. You simply never know what actually goes on behind closed doors. I have friends who are divorced (men) and they of course are blameless and it was all her fault. I try to stay out of those conversations.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 12:21 PM

For the record, it should be about balance and about leading by example. I have a great deal of respect for SAHMs and number many of my friends among their ranks. In general though the gender roles being played are rigid and confining. The SAHM cleans, cooks, chauffers and doctors (to children AND husband). The working dad works (usually overtime)and plays at home with the kids. This usually means that the SAHM feels too inept to go back to work and the working dad helpless around the house (super competent mom has that firmly under control). Neither of these roles are terribly appealing. The balance that you have found in your second life seems more equitable to both you and your husband (it has the added bonus of allowing each to cover for the other so to speak). If the goal is to lead by doing, I can't think of a better way to show your kids that you can be in a happy marriage, split the chores and be fulfilled in your career. I think one of the hardest lessons we learn is how to balance our responsibilities (to family, work, ourselves and our community)... it sounds as if your kids will be able to look no further than home for a good start. And regarding your first marriage - none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes - the lesson here is making a bad situation work the best you can. That is a good lesson too.

Posted by: elizabeth.vandermark | August 21, 2007 12:24 PM

elizabeth.vandermark

"And regarding your first marriage - none of us are perfect, we all make mistakes - the lesson here is making a bad situation work the best you can. That is a good lesson too."

Check out the stats for divorce rates of second marriages w/ stepchildren.

Some people marry the "wrong" person over and over and over...

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 12:29 PM

pATRICK:

Uh, she said her husband "accidentally" dislocated her shoulder. Dislocating someone's shoulder over tossed car keys is a bit excessive. Would it have been okay for her to respond with a knife, as did the woman in the washingtonpost.com cover story, or would it have been too excessive at that point? At what point does the violence become unacceptable in your mind?

There are others on here who are making light of domestic violence, i.e., why leave if he hits you just once. For me, "once" ended up four times over the course of nine years. Each incident escalated, with the final assault leaving me with a concussion, deep tissue damage and a tear in my shoulder lining that I have yet to get repaired through surgery.

Even "one time" is assault, folks. Just because I did not press charges does not mean a crime was not committed. I tried, unsuccessfully, to take the route of marriage counseling rather than get involved in the criminal justice system. After the final assault, I chose divorce.

Posted by: pepperjade | August 21, 2007 12:29 PM

I think I agree with pATRICK. Who really knows what went on in that relationship. Would be interesting to hear the ex-hubbie's side of the story. Not that it would necessarily make a difference re: this blog as to who was really at fault in the marriage - if they were miserable and fighting all the time, they probably were better off divorcing - but I'm sure the ex wouldn't be thrilled at the implications (voiced on a pretty major international newspaper) that he physically abused his wife.

Way to keep things civil for the sake of the kids!

Posted by: londonmom | August 21, 2007 12:31 PM

voiced on a pretty major international newspaper

Ah, no one reads this column except some anons, some annoying people and matt from aberdeen. (and you)

Posted by: nonamehere | August 21, 2007 12:42 PM

bababooey666 posts:

"YADA, YADA, YADA, . . . I AM DEFENSIVE AND THIN-SKINNED . . . YADA, YADA, YADA."

bets? assumptions? gender-issues? Bore us some more, baba.

Posted by: gcoward | August 21, 2007 12:45 PM

"bets? assumptions? gender-issues? Bore us some more, baba."

For someone who claims to be bored by me, you sure do pay a lot of attention to my posts! Do you feel ashamed to be played like a fool by a woman like me?? Is that it? Do you have too much experience being ridiculed by women? Just curious. Love you gcoward. Peace out for today.

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 12:50 PM

Oh, Matt-ee!
(to the tune of Oh Susannah!)


Well, he came from Aber-deen with a laptop on his knee
He is bound for Wash-ing-ton for his words to give to thee
He did write all night the day he left, the words kept coming forth
The 'puter was so hot it nearly froze itself, O, Matt-ee, please don't cough
I said oh Matt-ee, now don't you blog for me
For he is bound for Wash-ing-ton his laptop on his knee

Well, I had myself a dream the other night when Leslie was still here
I dreamed that I saw my favorite blog with comments none to nil
Now, the words were in his mouth, his fingers on the keys
He said he came from Merry-Land, Leslie don't you break down and cry.
I said oh Matt-ee, now don't you blog for me
As he comes from Aber-deen, a laptop on his knee

Posted by: anonthistime | August 21, 2007 1:04 PM

«Do you teach your kids to
A) Hit Back; or;
B) Turn the other cheek??
I'm curious what you guys think..».
«Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 11:21 AM»

Prophet Issa ibn Maryam, Sermon on the hill, he preached, «You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth. But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.» Matthew 5:38-42. The crusaders, when they captured the holy city Al-Quds (Jerusalem), first crusade, 1099, how did they turn the other cheek? All the Muslims in Jerusalem, all the Zionists too, they slaughtered them, eyes, teeth, wounds, stripes, death. Massacre, Muslim and Zionist blood up to the ankles of the horses. Like at Srebrenica in Yugoslavia, 8 thousand Muslims, crusaders murdered all of them, men and boys. Is this turning the other cheek? Who is it who follows «turn the other cheek»?

«And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well.»

A poor man's cloak, who would try to take it from him? «for that is his only covering, it is his garment for his skin, wherein shall he sleep? and it shall come to pass, when he crieth unto Me, that I will hear; for I am gracious.» Exodus 22:26. You have been told, «let him have your cloak as well», but I say to you, if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, hire Miles and Stockbridge to defend you in court (do not hire Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher and From, yesterday's bloogers claim they oppress their associates), Miles & Stockbridge will win, you will keep your tunic to sleep in at night.

Abu Ibrahim means, «father of Ibrahim», it takes a man to be a father, Baba Booey, she is a lady, she cannot be abu anybody, she could be Umm Ibrahim, «mother of Ibrahim» for all I know, please cannot we all get along and not confuse one poster with another?

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 21, 2007 1:10 PM

anon

"Oh, Matt-ee!
(to the tune of Oh Susannah!)

Well, he came from Aber-deen with a laptop on his knee
He is bound for Wash-ing-ton for his words to give to thee
He did write all night the day he left, the words kept coming forth"

The herd has been thinned - Matt is still here.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 1:11 PM

Hillary,

Pretty catchy tune huh?

Posted by: anonthistime | August 21, 2007 1:15 PM

I would not want to judge Maggie's individual story, but the modeling argument is important. What teaches kids better lessons, watching their parents in a miserable marriage or creating a healthier parenting environment, even if it's within a divorce? I think divorce should be a last resort, but if you put in the work, and Maggie and her ex-husband appear to have worked on their relationship, their kids may be better off.

Posted by: pnyhan | August 21, 2007 1:17 PM

Ya'at'eeh Abu! How are you today?

Posted by: bababooey666 | August 21, 2007 1:18 PM

anon

"Hillary,

Pretty catchy tune huh?"

Yes, the tune has been catchy for a long, long time.

Your lyrics are derivative and your subject matter repetitive.

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 1:22 PM

Posted by: pepperjade | August 21, 2007 12:29 PM

I had a nice argument that was eaten by the POST. Needless to say, I am not and never did condone violence. I just think we cannot understand the context of what happened from our limited information.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 1:27 PM

Your lyrics are derivative and your subject matter repetitive.

Yes, lyrics are derivative like a lot of lyrics in songs. And repetitive subject??? Who is the song about?

Posted by: anonthistime | August 21, 2007 1:38 PM

My ex SIl broke my brother's nose in the middle of town one day in front of my nepwhew and a few witnesses. Maybe she was feeling guilty over the affair she had, who knows. He just got in the car with my nephew and drove home. They are not together anymore thank goodness. If she wouldn't have been pregnant, her and I probably would have been in a fist fight over that one.

I guess I just wanted to put it out there that women can be abusive too, but a real man wouldn't hit back even if a woman did deserve it.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 1:54 PM

As someone getting ready to leave an unhappy marriage(name-calling, constant criticism, financial irresponsibility) and worried about the effects on my still-so-young kids who do love their Dad, I am extremely grateful to Maggie and many of the commenters.

My philosophy has always been that happy parents produce happy kids...and I have become a worn-out wreck. My 3-yr-old son wonders if I'm "mad at him."

I believe creating a place of peace in my new home will be better for the kids than creating a tense, false peace in my marriage. And every person I've ever talked to who "stayed together for the sake of the kids" regrets it - every single one.

Posted by: jillcireland | August 21, 2007 1:55 PM

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 01:54 PM

I would agree with that too.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 1:57 PM

"The SAHM cleans, cooks, chauffers and doctors (to children AND husband). The working dad works (usually overtime) and plays at home with the kids."

Posted by: elizabeth.vandermark | August 21, 2007 12:24 PM

Sounds OK to me.

"Neither of these roles are terribly appealing." (E. Vandermark)

Ipse dixit (bad grammar, too!). Is someone trying to start up the "Mommy wars" here in "On Balance"? Snould the SAHM go back to work on the premise that "Labor Liberates," as the Romans used to say?

Posted by: MattInAberdeen | August 21, 2007 1:57 PM

pATRICK you and I agree on most things. My nephew is grown up now and I can tell you that my brother and his ex wife staying together was not a good thing for him or my niece. She is/was a horrible role model smoking, drinking, doing drugs, etc. Since her and my brother split up for good he has gotten his life together and is now a much better person for it.

She is the mother of my niece who is pregnant. My niece now lives, thank God, with her grandparents and my newphew will be out her with my at the end of September.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 2:04 PM

Irishgirl- I know you're a reasonable woman. Why would it be OK for you to have a fistfight with her but not OK for her husband to bloody her nose with an open hand smack? Let's assume she's not pregnant and the child is not present. I don't think it would make him less of a man, but it may make her think twice about punching people in the face.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 2:04 PM

My parents divorced when I (the youngest) was in college. My mom wanted to stay til I was out of college (staying together for 'the kids') but it just got too unbearable for her.

It was not a great way to grow up - with abusive parents, and parents who didn't know how to interact with each other, who definitely didn't know how to show us what a loving relationship should be like.

So I have two sisters in horrible relationships (one of my sisters actually said to me once that she wouldn't date someone whose parents were divorced as she thought they weren't going to know how to have a relationship - when *her* parents got divorced, I guess she thought no one would want to marry her so she took whatever idiot she could get - and as if you have any control over what your *parents* do - i mean, really, what a stupid criterion).

Bad relationships just keep going and going - people learn how not to have a good marriage, then they use that same model for their own. It's just terrible for the kids. I'm not saying it's roses all the time, but still, kids should see what a functioning relationship is. Otherwise, they'll repeat a bad mistake.

And when my BIL says horrible things to and about my sister, my response is just: well *you* married her.

So be careful when you disparage a spouse or ex spouse. Others will judge *your* decision to marry them...

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 21, 2007 2:12 PM

My parents stayed together.

My father was an alcoholic who had PTSD. He was often abusive when drunk.

My mother was an enabler. She stayed because she didn't want to be on her own, without a man.

Their staying was not helpful to me in the least. I learned how to try to appease irrational men, feel powerless in relationships, have poor self esteem, and have trouble standing up for myself.

How can this be a good thing?


Posted by: marielley | August 21, 2007 2:16 PM

atb,

My father would beat the hell out of my brothers if either one of them ever hit a woman. I don't really care what the woman's lib movement or the Jennifer Lopez movie try to tell women about the sexes, but the truth of the matter is that most of us are not a strong as men and it is just not right for a man to hit a women in my opinion. It is how my brothers were raised. On another occasion, my brother did grab her hands while she was hitting him. He told her she was going to hurt the baby (remember the baby was not his, but we didn't know).

I guess I have just seen to much bad stuff with a few of my cousins and people I worked with when I was younger for me to ever think it is okay for a man to hit a woman. I know it sounds sexist.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 2:17 PM

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 02:04 PM

Your family reunions must be a sight to behold. ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 2:19 PM

I think adults trying to work through issues together and making a go for the long term is a great way to approach relationships.

However, that DOES require that everyone involved in the relationship is mature, self-aware, working on changing together, compatible, and sometimes on good medication.

I know it's hard to believe- but there are a fair number of procreating adults who lack at least one of those essential qualities necessary to "work past issues."

I have always hated the "stay together for the kids" line. It's such a case of double blind parenting- talking about how much harder it is for kids these days and how many more issues there are and how they have to grow up...yet completely fooling themselves that they can put on a show of a functional fulfilling marriage and the kids won't be the wiser.

The kids know, the kids see- as the adult you are teaching them only to AVOID doing what needs to be done (sometimes this means ending a relationship), suffer, settle, and hide issues that are important.

Now, the problem with divorce isn't that it ends a marriage. But that again, the same issues that cause people to be unable to form solid lasting relationships and work through problems are the same ones that make divorces such huge messes. People barely have the skills they need to keep things going at a normal pace- FORGET having the skills to make ending a marriage and keeping mature adult relationships to make the kids lives enriching.

As for not sleeping in the same bed- well that's fairly irrelevant. Plenty of married and non married couples sleep in separate beds.

As for Maggie's blog reaction- she really MUST be new if THIS is what she considers rage and backlash.

Posted by: EmeraldEAD | August 21, 2007 2:19 PM

As for Maggie's blog reaction- she really MUST be new if THIS is what she considers rage and backlash.

She is a tender reed.....

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 2:30 PM

You did the right thing. Honestly, once you're in a crappy marriage there's not any way to keep your kids from hurting some--they'll be hurt if you stay, as it sounds like you saw, and they'll feel hurt if you leave, as you're seeing now. As a child of divorced parents, I remember several years of my childhood as sad and hard and angry. But now that we're all adults, I think that my own relationship, and my relationships with my parents, are stronger thanks to the choices that they made back then. Now, I think the most important effect of the divorce is the amazing growth in my family--I have two stepparents, a small half-brother, a step-sister and various more distant connections that I wouldn't trade for anything, all of whom are in my life only due to the divorce.

Posted by: thistleflower9 | August 21, 2007 2:39 PM

"the woman's lib movement"?

That phrase hasn't been used since approximately 1977 and then it was only uttered by reactionary right-wing types like Phyllis Schlafly.

Between the dated, loaded jargon and reference to J.O., this post gives "straw man" new meaning.

Posted by: gcoward | August 21, 2007 2:42 PM

My parents "stayed together for the sake of the kids" and I used to PRAY they would get a divorce. No physical abuse, no grandiose drama or infidelity, just two people who argued alllll the time, had nothing in common, and never showed either other any affection. I have fond (not!) memories of drifting off to sleep at night as my parents bickered in the kitchen, which was directly below my bedroom with very thin flooring. Since I was a "weird," emotional, depressed kid who was visibly screwed up and therefore put the lie to their carefully maintained facade of "oh, everything's just fine," I got to be blamed by mom and brother for everything wrong with the family. While I had the sense to reject this idea on an intellectual level, the emotional scars stayed with me for many years. How much happier we all would have been if I'd gone with my dad (whom I got along better with) and my brother with my mom (whom he got along better with.) Maybe they would have both found people they could have loved and made happy homes with. Even if they didn't, what pleasure it would have been for all of us not to live in a war zone all the time where the slightest thing could launch an argument. Eggshell Central. I spent as little time as possible in our house as a teenager and so did my brother. Neither of my parents are bad people individually, but they had a terrible marriage. I still to this day am not really sure why they stayed together. I think my mom was scared of supporting herself on her own and my dad was motivated by a strong sense of duty. If only they'd had the courage to be honest about the fact that their marriage wasn't working. Maggie, you did the right thing by leaving, for the sake of the kids.

Posted by: syfgaryizzqm | August 21, 2007 2:47 PM

Scarry- I think it's just my hatred of bullies. They deserve to get the crap smacked out of them every once and awhile. Some women only bully/punch men because they think they won't hit back. I'm not condoning a beat-down, but I see no problem with a sound retaliatory smack to the face. My husband shares your revulsion, which is great, but then I don't punch him in the face.

Posted by: atb2 | August 21, 2007 2:50 PM

Yeah, I have a sister who always says everything's 'fine'. Always, no matter what's going on, she's always 'fine.'

She would never get a divorce cause that might admit to people that she made a mistake - and we wouldn't want that. What would people say? Of course, we all look at her in amazement as every day she makes an even bigger mistake.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 21, 2007 2:54 PM

Abu-

Um... What?

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 3:01 PM

Posted by: atb | August 21, 2007 02:50 PM

A variation on that is the woman who acts crazy and then expects her husband/boyfriend to kick some guy's butt.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 3:03 PM

gcoward

Ummm, sure whatever. I am not a right wing person at all and Jennifer Lopez made a movie where she beat her husband to death, which was what I was talking about.

Think what you want, but there are still women in "the whatever it's called thing" out there who think they can do everything a man can. Sorry, but there are some things such as fighting with a man that leaves them on unequal footing.

But hey, you are a guitless coward and I am Irish, so maybe I could take you.

ATB I see your point.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 3:09 PM

«Abu-

Um... What?»

«Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 03:01 PM »

In two sentences, 1, do not teach your kids to «turn the other cheek» because «turn the other cheek» is a Christian saying that even the Christians do not follow, 2, if someone sues you to take away your tunic, do not give him your cloak too, but rather hire Miles and Stockbridge to defend you in court, they are a good Baltimore law firm that does not oppress its associates, that way you will keep your tunic.

Posted by: abu_ibrahim | August 21, 2007 3:12 PM

Sorry, but there are some things such as fighting with a man that leaves them on unequal footing.

this is true, of course some have hand to hand comabt training etc but the majority of women did not grow up involved in any fighting. It gives you a respect for what can happen. I knew a guy in college who was a big guy, he got into a fight and the other guy pulled his eye out! No BS, he had to wear a patch for the rest of his life. I never forgot that either.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 3:14 PM

I guess I just wanted to put it out there that women can be abusive too, but a real man wouldn't hit back even if a woman did deserve it.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 01:54 PM


I still say there is a limit. I agree that there is no need to defend nor advance against an adversary who likely cannot hurt you (child, average unarmed woman). However, I've seen girl gangs start crap and pull weapons.

If you pull a weapon -- male or female -- all bets are off.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 3:14 PM

If you pull a weapon -- male or female -- all bets are off.

I would agree with that. Sorry you had to experince that. I have only ever been in fights with other girls who did not have weapons. I was not raised to fight, but to defend myself. I usually ended up defending other people though.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 3:20 PM

First, I wouldn't dream of second-guessing someone else's decision to stay in a difficult marriage, or to divorce. Whenever I hear from someone that they are going through (or have recently been) divorced, I offer them both congratulations and condolences in the same sentence.

Now that the disclaimers are out of the way...

I'm really really glad that DH and I spent all the time (about four years, and a couple of '50-thousand-mile-tune-ups') in counseling.

We hit a serious crisis in '93 when older son was a baby. We'd both been divorced before - no kids in the three previous marriages - so we knew what that was about. Neither of us were 'children of divorce', but we'd both grown up with other kinds of bad-disfunctional-absent parenting.

We got a referral from a friend who was a professional counselor himself, and we were fortunate to find a terrific match for our personalities and our problems. It was still some of the hardest work either of us has ever had to face. A divorce would have been easier.

But - we pulled together. We both wanted to make it work. Our second son was born in '97... and there were a few more bumps along the road with adding a new member of the family.

Now we're planning our 20th anniversary party in two weeks, and we're happy, and the boys are too. Much happier (I think, anyway) than if we'd taken the easy way out again. I can't imagine not having younger-son at all, and he wouldn't have been born if we had split up when things first went wrong.

Not everyone is able or willing to make the kind of commitments it takes. Successful counseling and successfully changing one's behavior in a marriage is a lot harder than a divorce - at least for us. And it takes *both* partners doing it. If only one is jumping through all the hoops, it's not going to work out. The hoop-jumper needs to cut his/her loses.

Even with that level of commitment from both spouses, a bad, or mismatched, counselor may still doom the relationship.

Don't make your own life unhappy, or worse, unsafe. But if you think the relationship can be fixed, don't give it up. I've been there, and it's worth the work.

Posted by: sue | August 21, 2007 3:23 PM

http://motherwhatnowredux.blogspot.com/

Today's comments on Maggie's blog are a riot! Scroll down for photos of Maggie!!!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 3:24 PM

Not for nothing, but Maggie's actually pretty hot.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 3:30 PM

Hillary where are the pics, I don't see them

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 3:31 PM

Not for nothing, but Maggie's actually pretty hot.

Posted by: ProudPapa15 | August 21, 2007 03:30 PM

In the former high school Queen Bee way!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 3:37 PM

Irishgirl

When you find the photos - What do ya think? Does Maggie remind you of some former cheerleaders?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 3:39 PM

Woo hoo! Maggie's new husband is a Patrick!!!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 3:44 PM

hahah, they won't come up for me hillary, but I have to admit that I was a cheerleader.

A nice one.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 3:47 PM

Woo hoo! Maggie's new husband is a Patrick!!!

She's a lucky devil, ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 3:48 PM

Irishgirl

"hahah, they won't come up for me hillary, but I have to admit that I was a cheerleader.

A nice one. "

O.K. Reserve judgment on Maggie until you see the photos. She really has a certain "look".

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 3:53 PM

pATRICK wrote: Woo hoo! Maggie's new husband is a Patrick!!!

She's a lucky devil, ;)

It all depends on whether Maggie's Patrick likes flan.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 21, 2007 3:59 PM

Abu,

Do you think Maggie is hot enough to be one of your wives?

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 4:01 PM

"Abu,

Do you think Maggie is hot enough to be one of your wives?"

I HATE to say this but that is a post of the day contender.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 4:04 PM

It all depends on whether Maggie's Patrick likes flan.

Posted by: mehitabel | August 21, 2007 03:59 PM

I am trying to reconcile with EMILY and get back in her good graces enough for some of her flan. May be a long shot, but damn her flan is good! ;)

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 4:08 PM

Abu,

Do you think Maggie is hot enough to be one of your wives?"

Yes, where is Fred? For that matter where is texas dad of 2. I have missed him.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 4:12 PM

For that matter where is texas dad of 2. I have missed him.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 04:12 PM


Oh, no! Your preggers' hormones must be acting up! Texas dad of 2 is a royal pain in the baboose!

Posted by: hillary1 | August 21, 2007 4:14 PM

This hit home today. I wish I had not been in in-service meetings and then at the dentist.

Some of you really get it, and some of you have no clue.

One (idiot) poster said that when an alcoholic gets drunk and the wife acts irrationally, the wife is to blame for the divorce -- it certainly isn't the husband, according to the (idiot) poster. I wonder if that (idiot) poster has had ANY experience living with an addict? Has the (idiot) poster ever watched someone self-destruct, and attempt to detroy every important relationship around him, because of his addictions, while the (idiot) poster was powerless to do anything to stop it?

Because, let me tell you, addiction makes the addict become a HORRIBLE person, and there is generally more than just one addiction. STBX is an alcoholic, and he smokes pot as well. He may be addicted to painkillers; his brother is and he has been helping him get falsified prescriptions. I also discovered recently that he has been addicted to cocaine for some time. That little tidbit helped to explain where all the money has been going. He has messages from women on his phone. He SWEARS he doesn't know WHO these women are -- but of course, he SWORE that his bloody noses were due to dry heat and the $300 cash he spent every month and couldn't really explain was for gas.

I finally got him out of the house this way: when we were on our family-reunion vacation, he threatened to chop my head off and bury me in the backyard. To my DAD. Three days after we returned, we saw a marriage counselor. He showed up plastered. The next day, he again threatened to kill me, and he went out to the shed. My 18-year-old son made me leave the house (he left too). I called my MIL and told her the basic outline. Two days later, he moved in there.

Now, all you who think "anything can be worked out, amrriage is sacred and important" and all that horse manure, how, exactly, should I work this out? Is it my fault? Maybe I ought to sleep in full body armor, or at least wear a neck protector to keep the head attached to the rest?

DO NOT judge a marriage from the outside. Unless you have been there, you have NO IDEA what it is like to be married to an addict. At least I know I can go to Al-anon and not be judged for my reactions.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 4:16 PM

educmom, I'd say this blog has definitely struck a nerve for you today. But you are talking about an EXTREME case of abuse by a violent individual. Of course there could be no question what you should do. I was under the impression that we'd been conversing on this blog more about what falls into the grey area . . .

Posted by: WorkingMomX | August 21, 2007 4:23 PM

WorkingMomX, I would have thought so too, but I did see some people attempting to justify the guest blogger receiving a dislocated shoulder, and I was really upset by the (idiot) blogger who attempted to blame the addict's spouse for the addict's behavior.

Oddly enough, my dad asked if I've taken STBX back yet, almost like he thinks everything will be just fine after a little cooling-off period...

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 4:31 PM

but, see, workingmomX, everything, pretty much, is grey. Of course, now, looking back, educmom can see clearly - but when she was in the throes (sp?) of it, even though it is SO CLEAR to her now, and possibly was clear to others at the time, to her, at the time, it probably wasn't so clear.

That's the thing - things start out small, and people usually say: oh, but he/she loves me, or they say: oh, it was just this once, they're really a good person, or whatever. But the reality is, unless people get told that certain behavior is wrong (i.e., you need to leave and take the kids, or prosecute people for breaking the law, or not let little things slide), then people keep doing the behavior - AND - the behavior typically gets worse as time goes on.

It will almost certainly not get better. People rarely do that on their own.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 21, 2007 4:31 PM

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 04:16 PM

I have some gentle questions for you from strictly a curiousity standpoint. When all this was going on, did you rationalize it?Did you really believe any of the lies? I am asking becuase a couple we know has a very strange marriage with a lot of unaccounted for time. Just curious, not trying to beat you down.

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 4:31 PM

educmom_615, I hear you ringing my dinner bell.

Chomp!

Posted by: Mako | August 21, 2007 4:32 PM

educmom: kinda like my dad always saying that things are fine, they're fine, everything's fine - what's the problem? It'll all work out.

Now, ten years after all of us have seen the writing on the wall with my sister and BIL, he's talking about hurting my BIL. When I didn't have the heart to tell him that I don't think I know anyone in the world who is more like him (my dad) than my BIL.

Posted by: atlmom1234 | August 21, 2007 4:35 PM

Hey guys, this is a little off the main point of the post, but here goes. Maggie writes:

"I can't count how many times after my divorce and return to work I've gotten the condescending "I don't know how you do it" from moms who stay at home."

My husband is in the Middle East right now and I have a short-term taste of life without help from dad. The experience has increased my admiration for those who go it alone, and I have, unfortunately, said exactly the words that Maggie felt were condescending! In the future I'll definitely try to express it differently, but everything I can think of could be interpreted similarly. There must be a good way to tell others that we are impressed with all they do, without making them feel like we're passing judgement.

Posted by: dogboy | August 21, 2007 4:39 PM


Well, at first I didn't realize what was going on -- it just sort of creeps up on you, really. I wasn't raised with addiction, so I was pretty clueless. I mean, we met in college, and everybody drinks in college! And a few beers in front of the football game is normal, right? Of course, his family is FULL of addicts, and if I had ever watched whatever trashy talk shows were on 20 years ago, I might have seen a pattern, but...

And of course, he was not always actively addicted (it didn't get to be an issue until around the time of our 16th wedding anniversary), and he was not even potentially violent until we had been married almost 20 years -- which makes me realize it's the booze and the drugs, not the person, but that doesn't mean I should keep tolerating it.

And you do spend time rationalizing, and in fooling yourself into believing the lies, because the truth is too painful to face. You really believe that if you make everything in your life perfect, and if you monitor and control everything he does, and if you don't cause any trouble, you will be able to solve his problem all by yourself.

Of course, you can't. Go to any Al-anon meeting -- it's full of reforming perfectionists and control freaks.

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 4:47 PM

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 04:47 PM

Thank you

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 4:55 PM

RE:She is a tender reed.....

Posted by: pATRICK | August 21, 2007 02:30 PM

I love your expressiveness...sigh...LOL :)

momof3boys

Posted by: CheleFernandez | August 21, 2007 5:22 PM

Fred's Quote of the Day
(The Naked Truth Division)

goes to educmon for her entire post of 4:47. She has taken an unflinching look at herself, her life and her decision to change it then shares her leanings with us.

Educmon is the first lucky recipient of first prize. The new improved Creepy Van (tm) now complete with Hula Girl.

Enjoy your ride, Educmon, the Creepy Van (tm) does ride a bit smoother than your life to date!

Posted by: Fred | August 21, 2007 6:51 PM

Touche (don't know how to type the accent over the "e")on the tender reed comment--I am the first to admit I am a tender reed--I have skin like a wonton wrapper!

But seriously, thanks everyone for reading and commenting--I'm floored that so many people read my...what do you call a blog post? My post? Anyway, thanks for reading and posting.

Posted by: maggielmcg | August 21, 2007 6:54 PM

Touche (don't know how to type the accent over the "e")on the tender reed comment--I am the first to admit I am a tender reed--I have skin like a wonton wrapper!

But seriously, thanks everyone for reading and commenting--I'm floored that so many people read my...what do you call a blog post? My post? Anyway, thanks for reading and posting.

Posted by: maggielmcg | August 21, 2007 6:54 PM

Maggie,

Yours was one of the better blog columns of recent. Altho I cannot relate to it on some levels (parents were married till sainted mother died and Frieda & I have been married many years) the sincere comments to come out of it are at once truly beautiful for their truth and ugly for the same reason.

Fred (in case you don't know is a regular around here!)

Posted by: Fred | August 21, 2007 7:00 PM

Thanks Fred--I have read your posts and think you are a great writer.

Posted by: maggielmcg | August 21, 2007 7:39 PM

Thanks Fred--I have read your posts and think you are a great writer.

Posted by: maggielmcg | August 21, 2007 7:39 PM

Wow, thanks Fred! I think the Creepy Van(tm) with four flat tires would be smoother than my life the past few years!

I have to give credit where credit is due, and I would NEVER have been able to be that smart about myself, and that honest, without Al-anon.

And I also want to thank all of you (even you, Mako -- I might just feed STBX to you, so you can have dinner and cocktails at the same time) for appreciatng my post today.

I'm starting to feel like I just won the Oscar for best screenplay and I have to thank everyone I ever met!

(cue music)

OK, I'm seriously touched. Thanks!

Do you think you could get a Hula Guy to go along with the Hula Girl? Now THAT would be fun!

Posted by: educmom_615 | August 21, 2007 8:13 PM

Hillary

Maggie is very pretty, she does look the cheerleader part. I am glad she found somone nice and is happy. Now if I could only get my brother hooked up, life would be good.

Posted by: Irishgirl | August 21, 2007 8:22 PM

No Hula Guys in the Creepy Van (tm) ever!

The Creepy Van (tm) is my vehicle, not Frieda's. If she wants, she can put a Hula Guy in the Bright Blue Boobie Buggy. You can tell this one from any other small SUV because it has the flashing pink light!

Posted by: Fred | August 21, 2007 8:24 PM

Coming in late--sorry I missed this one, I'm sure it was a great conversation. Unfortunately, I can't read all the comments because Contracts calls and I have to go read.

The whole concept of "staying for the kids" is archaic and counterproductive. A marriage only benefits kids if its participants are loving or at least civil toward each other. And it's not always wise to wait until the kids are in college. Teen years and college years are among the most transitional years of a kid's life, and disrupting it even more at those points is ill-advised (of course, sometimes it's inevitable), so don't wait until the kids are grown. They won't take it any better and might actually take it worse. Stay, sure, try to fix it, get counseling, fight for it. But once you've made the decision to divorce, don't mislead your kids; tell the truth. They'll adjust better and will appreciate it.

I'm glad my parents are not together. I'd hate to have been raised by my father. Not that he is the most involved father, but he was pretty abusive to my mother, and I'm sure that would have damaged my and my sister's psyches even more than the little abuse we did witness. Both of us adjusted very well to the divorce (we were pretty young), but 25 years later, when my mom and stepdad announced their separation, we were all very distraught.

Bottom line: do what you need to do. It's scary, I'm sure, especially being a SAHM or a low-paid woman with children to raise, but in the end, the "sake of the kids" isn't benefited by staying in a loveless, or worse, abusive marriage.

Posted by: Monagatuna | August 21, 2007 8:52 PM

Wow I say you go gurl. Life is too short and the kids grow up and live their own lives. I say continue to be a good mom and know that you deserve to be loved too not just by your kids. It's such a good feeling for the spirit when someone wants to be with you and make you happy. We only get one chance at life learn from your mishaps but more important live your life

Posted by: jaelen1 | August 22, 2007 9:05 AM

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