When Its Really for the Children

This posting is taken from my response to a thread (shout out to Nicole McLean and the DC SistaGirl’s) regarding wives hanging in when their husband had done….well, just any number of tacky and terrible things were given as real-world examples. Thought I’d share my answer (with a small edit or two); I get really concerned about “its for the children” response.

Here goes.

The “for better or for worse” in the marriage vows refers to the commitment to the marriage, but not necessarily the way in which we honor the commitment. In other words, if your husband is an abuser – and there are so many different ways, as you all have stated – you can be committed to the marriage and not have to be in the house. When my husband left, he said he was committed to our getting back together but we both were clear that somebody needed to go somewhere (I had not yet worked on my non-violent philosophy…). As it turned out, when he thought about returning to begin his “marriage work” I had already gotten a divorce, but up until the very day I made the decision to file for a divorce, I was committed to the marriage. There is a time, however, when you can be committed to something that has died. That is a personal decision and no one can make that call for anyone else.

Having said that, the concept of living with someone for the kids is just hooey. I talk often about the day I asked several classes – high school students – what they would change in their lives and the majority of them said the relationship between their parent. That was amazing to me; still is. A good number of those were kids whose parents were living together, hating each other, and fooling absolutely nobody. Living together without love may allow you to maintain your standard of living, to not have to get a job (or not have to get a second one), to postpone the inevitable, but it does nothing for the kids. Children know intuitively when the lights are out in the camp, and by staying you do them a disservice as you show them that marriage is not about love and trust, it’s about avoidance and maintaining the status quo. It just confuses them and makes them angry.

The part that is missing in the “for better or for worse” scenario is not the staying, but the forgiveness. You can stay and not forgive and accomplish nothing. If you stay with someone through whatever, you have to love them through whatever. If you don’t love someone enough to sleep with them, or if you love yourself enough to realize that sleeping with them is harmful to you, but you continue to stay then you’re not upholding anything but martyrdom. Holding anger towards someone is like taking poison and expecting someone else to get sick. If you love them, love them. Forgive. Try to understand. Accept what you can – and can not – live with.

But get up off the ‘children’ tip. If you do it for the children, do it with love, not “I haven’t spoken to him in 5 months, but I want my children to live in a house with 2 parents”. Really?



  1. This is so real Alexis! More parents need to understand the importance of putting their differences aside and putting LOVE first. Or how about infusing LOVE in their differences. Hmmm. I work with so many college students on a daily basis. The church that my husband pastors is 99% 1st year college students and I’m seeing first hand, the product of broken, angry parents who are “staying for the kids sake” and it isn’t pretty.

    What parents don’t realize is that their kids only see the anger and resentment. I would imagine that if more kids today, who live in homes where there are marital troubles, saw LOVE infused in their parents troubles, they would have a different perspective about life and themselves. They may even have a different approach to how to manuever in trials and stressful situations!

  2. vswillis4242@gmail.com says:

    “For better or for worse” I strongly believe is for the mature minded adult. Marriage is sacred, entitled to reverence and respect, highly valued and important, a covenant made between the husband, wife and God. With that being said, we have a responsibility to get acquainted with and to get a clear understanding of what we have entered into before we say, “I Do.”

    Although I do not advocate anyone staying involved in an abusive or adulturous relationship, the question then leads me to ask, when do we begin to teach our children about the power of prayer? If marriage is a covenant with God, can’t we believe that He will keep His covenant and restore what we believe is broken? Isn’t it God who can change the hardness of a heart?

    Marriages are intended to be the foundation of order not only in our families but in our communities at large. Divorce not only has a negative impact in our childrens lives but let’s examine the adults who refuse to allow God to change and humble in a relationship that is designed to bring us closer to Him. So I believe when we divorce for any reason outside of abuse and adultry, we miss out on the true gift of maturing in Him because of our mere selfishness.

  3. Wow! Seems like that was welled-up “somewheres” waiting for an opportunity!

    Before I agree or disagree, let me say also that I stayed way to long, and it hurt everybody, including me, But we were talking about “staying for the children”, or at least saying that’s what we were thinking.

    The children are pretty smart and isn’t it my job to teach them how to act, and what to expect, and then how to react? Am I supposed to teach them to stay in abusive and or loveless relationships? For me that’s the bottom line – “what am I teaching my child (or in my case, stepchild)”. As my son (I’m not his father but he’s my son) grew older he asked me “why did you stay?”

    He resented my staying because he (also) felt that his mother should be punished for her behavior, as a matter of fact they have all rebelled in one way or another, but looking at what I was trying to accomplish in staying, and what it looks like now, I can honestly admit that it didn’t help; it hurt.

    I think we have to have a greater awareness of what we are teaching our children (and each other) by example.

    Love You with all my heart, keep saying what you gotta say!

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