Should You Divorce for the Sake of the Kids? Part 1

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Over the next two days we will be examining a challenging question. We ask that you are kind and considerate in your responses and read the full post before commenting.

I cannot count the number of times I have heard people say, “We are divorcing for the sake of the kids. You know how it is, we fight and argue way too much, and it is not good for the kids. There’s no physical abuse, we just don’t get along. We are tired of constantly bickering with each other. It is taking a toll on the kids that isn’t worth it anymore. We need to end this marriage so the kids don’t suffer."

I want to reply,

“So, your motive is the well being of the kids?

“You are saying that you need to divorce for the sake of the children’s long-term emotional health, right? But if this was truly for the sake of the kids, and not a superficial smokescreen, you’d stop fighting and arguing.

“This isn’t about the kids, and you know it.

“This is about you coming to us with a plausible excuse to divorce, and you have the arrogant audacity to pull your kids in as the excuse to end the marriage. If you were really sincere in this being about the kids, you’d stop fighting and arguing.”

Do I sound too tough and mean? Am I unsympathetic? Maybe, but I was one of those kids who experienced parents separating and divorcing in part because it was “best for the kids.”

What would have been best for me was a mommy and daddy doing what two mature people do: dealing with the reasons they both feel hostility and contempt toward each other, and doing whatever it took to clarify the misunderstanding or forgive and seek forgiveness.

Divorcing for the sake of the kids does nothing for the kids other than subscribe to the stupid notion that choosing the lesser of two evils is now a good and virtuous thing.

That’s like saying, “We can either stay together and keep yelling at each other, which will hurt the kids, or stop yelling by divorcing, which will hurt the kids less, right? So, let’s divorce for the sake of the kids.”

Divorce then becomes a good thing, since it is “for the sake of the kids.”

Is anybody thinking today? Since when does the lesser of two evils become a good thing? It is still evil—just lesser.

How troubling that in reading the title of this blog, “Should You Divorce for the Sake of the Kids” some will chime in, “Well such verbal abuse of each other justifies divorce, and makes it a good thing. Abuse is a bad thing, and anything that stops abuse is a good thing.”

True, this is the default mode, but it saddens me. The better answer is: stop the verbal abuse! Get help to heal your marriage for the sake of the kids.

“Abuse” is a term used almost every time by people who bailed out before they really worked on the marriage. They throw the kids in as further justification to push eject on the marriage.

“Well, I am not the abuser, my spouse is!” Who says, you or a judge, counselor, pastor, and two other friends who witnessed the abuse and back your story?

Too often - and this may not be you - some claim abuse but there is no proof. Today, few offer proof. They just say, “There was abuse.” And, maybe it is tough to prove, but still who has heard the story and been engaged with you in confronting the perpetrator? Police? Group of elders at the church? A respected family member? All of these?

It pains me that we have come to a point in this culture where someone can claim abuse toward a spouse (the parent of their children) without that spouse or kids even knowing what they are saying via social media. All of this is for public consumption but they do not say boo to the people involved nor give any evidence about turning to authority figures for intervention.

My experience reveals to me that in many instances the truly abused are not on social media blasting away without any facts. They don’t slander a spouse before people who have nothing to do with their problems, and they especially do not slander since that’s verbal abuse! Slander turns them into an abuser. They find such slander hypocritical and repulsive, not to suggest it stabs the kids in the heart when they read what this parent broadcast for the world to read about the other parent.

In most cases the truly abused open up to authority figures for help, not the world wide web for venting. They want help, not an opportunity to bad mouth a partner. And, they do not stalk the web on a mission to protect the abused via the slandering of their own spouse. That makes no sense to smear and besmirch a spouse (the parent of our kids) to help others.

Again, slandering a spouse stigmatizes and denigrates the child - kids personalize this stuff. Instead, those wanting to help the abused refrain from defaming a spouse’s character, which is pointless, and direct the reader who might be abused to groups that can help them.

But there is something else.

Have you heard this expression from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks?” This quote means that a person can too frequently and forcibly try to convince others of their outrage (in this case they protest via social media against personal abuse of a spouse) but which ends up casting doubt on their protest. Too much ire and protest begins to have the reverse effect. People begin to think, “I wonder if this is a lie for self-serving purposes? I wonder if this person might be far more the abuser but is going on the offensive to mislead people into thinking s/he is the victim?” They begin to see this person as defensive and fake, as rationalizing. Unfortunately, even here such a person will protest! They know others will rally to their defense. So, we cannot convince everyone but I believe there are enough tender-hearted Christ-followers who realize they may have gotten caught up in these misleading expressions, not the least of which is “we need to divorce for the sake of the kids.”

Am I saying that abuse does not exist?

I saw my dad attempt to strangle my mom to death, and my dad committed adultery when I was 11 years old. He also went into fits of rage.

I get it.

However, I see people claiming such stuff when that kind of thing isn’t happening at all. But even if it is, divorce is not the remedy for the kids. The remedy for the kids is turning to the best counselor and group of reconciled couples who once were where you are and letting them speak to why you are always yelling at each other.

Observed behavior changes!

How disheartening when two adult people refuse to work on the marriage and decide to use the kids as an excuse for terminating the marriage. How painful. They shift the focus from their lack of maturity and self-control and their refusal to grow up to divorcing for the sake of the kids.

They turn an impurity into a purity.

Isaiah exclaimed, “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)

My mom and dad divorced, and my “welfare” was a significant reason for this. So, I cried myself to sleep, wet the bed and had to work through issues. Why did it happen? At various times, my dad was emotionally abusive.

But, again, divorce is not a remedy for the kids unless three judges, three pastors, and three witnesses say that it is.

My point?

I want to hear from people other than the ones claiming, “We did it for the sake of the kids.”

In Part 2, we will discuss what you should do instead of considering divorce for the sake of your children.

Questions

  1. Have you ever considered divorce for the sake of your children?

  2. Is your motive truly the well being of the kids?

  3. Do you believe divorcing for the sake of the children is a good thing?

  4. Do you believe there are no better options?

-Dr. E