Tuesday, March 29, 2011

It's about the kids

I always knew I wanted to have children, even if I was uncertain about whether I would ever get married. My sensibility that marriage was not a necessary prerequisite of parenthood was the result of my own experience growing up without having a father in my life. Or maybe it was another example of my being ahead of the curve, yet again, with the single parenthood trend so popular these days with celebrities. Either way, children were a given, marriage was an uncertainty. Now, that was truly premonitory!

During my marriage, I absolutely valued the advantages of there being two involved parents in the lives of our children. From the minute Liam was born, his father’s presence provided nurturing attention which I was unable to supply in my C-section induced stupor. The physically demanding years of babyhood and toddler stage would probably have done me in without a partner to share the weight of the load.  I imagine the teen years will require an equal amount of exertion to survive. Fortunately, the children will always have two parents who love them, support them and want them to be secure and happy in their lives – that's not going to change.

On the occasions when I projected into the future and imagined what my personal life would look like post-marriage, I was certain that I would never be interested in marrying a second time.  I mean, what was the point?  I already had all the biological babies I was going to have and without children in the equation, what is the true purpose of marriage?  Is it a financial arrangement?  A means to obtain health insurance and other benefits?  It seems that marriage is more a practical arrangement than a logical step on an emotional journey.  Or, am I all wrong? 

Like marriage, divorce is also about the children.  How do the adult members of a family manage to separate from one another without leaving the children feeling abandoned?  How much is shared with them, and at what point are they allowed to express what they may want and need in the new family configuration?  Is it really possible to maintain a family while ending a marriage?  It seems that with every inevitable decision questions are created, which is overwhelming at times.  I know others that have been through this process and will definitely be looking to them for support, guidance and advice as we negotiate this new path.  The connection between adults within a marriage may evolve, but the commitment to the children remains consistent.  It is about the kids.


  1. I remember that when my cousin was married, she got a laugh and a round of applause when she expressed her gratitude for all the many good marriages in her life: "Mom and Dave," "Dad and Martha," etc. In fact, she even managed to produce 5 grandmothers for the event - brought into her life through parents, step-parents, and her grandfather's second marriage. Somehow, all these people had been there for her in a new family that was stronger than the one she was originally born into. All these people passed on their wisdom and their love for her, and she knew it. I know you'll do the same.

  2. Once you have kids, it is always about the kids. Every move we make is about the kids. My life is worth everything to me because of my kids. Way, way, way to many couples end their marriages with so much hostility that it is almost revolting to me. I have been through 3 divorces in my immediate family (and probably considered it personally a few times :). All 3 divorces I personally experienced were all so hostile and the children were "used" as ammunition to hurt the other spouse. Since my brother won't ever be reading this, I will say that when he got divorced, I still considered his "ex" my sister in law. One day he confronted me and said "How dare you still keep in contact with Janet, we are divorced." I said, "You divorced her, I didn't and I love her and she is the mother of my niece." He let it go at that. Well, as I am sure you already know from your own observations, practically all marriages end with such resentment and anger. That is what really hurts the kids. I know it is NOT going to be like that for you. I have also witness (very few) divorces were the parents actually were able to stay very friendly and work very well together at raising the children and even would spend the holidays together, including newly addition "significant" others. How great would that be for the kids. Years ago, I met Dennis in the city for an evening meal mid town somewhere. He was dating an actor at the time and his actor friend brought along 2 visiting actors from Sweden. The woman went on to tell me her marriage story that still intrigues me to this day. By the way, while telling me her story, she was about 6 months pregnant with her boyfriends baby. Anyway, she said that back in Sweden, she and her ex husband still maintained their house, sharing in the expenses equally. She said that they considered the house the "kids" house. Instead of shifting the kids back and forth, they each had their own small flat and when it was one parents turn with the kids, that parent stayed at the kids house. And visa versa. She was thrilled with the idea and so was I !! I thought it was incredible. She and her ex were comfortable enough in sharing Christmas together with the kids and they stayed friends for the kids. My feeling is, people are not divorcing their kids, they are divorcing their spouse. Call me crazy and I know that this would not work for everyone, but I think it could possibly work for you. It sure as heck works in Sweden!! The woman told me that was how a lot of couples arranged their families in Sweden after divorce. I always hated the fact that people had to "hate" each other after divorce and hate the extended in-laws. I never understood it. At least with 2 out of 3 of my personal experiences, there was no reason for the hatred, it was just there because the adults involved "thought" that with divorce came hatred. One of the experiences definitely warranted some necessary separation of the adults. LOL. Luckily, in that case, there were no kids produced by that marriage so the couple was able to cut the ties without worrying about the kids. My dream divorce would be just what the Swedish woman did. The kids stay with the house, the parent are the ones that have to shuffle back and forth and take their turns at the house. And everyone just gets along and even tries to spend some of the holidays all together. Just my 2 cents.

  3. Not only do I have a wonderful mother and father, but I also have a fantastic stepfather, three amazing much younger siblings, a former stepfather I'm still in touch with, a pair of paternal grandparents, a grandmother and stepgrandfather and a pair of former stepgrandparents, not to mention a slew of aunts and uncles and cousins, both step and blood, and a wonderful batch of pseudo in-laws - even a former pseudo in-law. I feel pretty blessed. Family's a state of mind:)