5 Reasons to Stay Married

A few people wrote to me, either privately or in the comments area, taking issue with yesterday’s post about reasons not to stay married. One person asked about the meaning and importance of wedding vows. Another said that divorce always damages kids.

Today’s blog is not an attempt to argue with those viewpoints. I honor and encourage different opinions on this blog. I’m glad you all shared them. Your comments help to shape a full discussion. Thank you.

But I don’t agree. I don’t think vows or kids or a sense of obligation is enough to hold two people together in marriage for the rest of their lives. In my opinion, good reasons to stay married—even if you are both currently unhappy—include:

1.    You are both willing to work together to try to improve your marriage. It takes two people to create a good marriage. It only takes one to ruin one.

2.    You haven’t yet tried everything possible to save your marriage. You have not gone to marital counseling, sex counseling, or individual therapy. You have not read marital improvement books or gone on couples weekends.

3.    You are going through a temporary rough patch. Maybe one of you just lost a job. Perhaps one of you is grieving the loss of a loved one. You can easily pinpoint when your problems started, and you can see an end in sight.

4.    You feel hopeful that your marriage can be saved. You think your marriage has potential.

5.    You’ve been working on your marriage and you see some improvement. You might not be anywhere close to nirvana, but you’re certainly better than you once were.

These are all good reasons to try. They are all good reasons to muster every ounce of endurance and resilience you have. These are things that just might carry you through so that, one day, you can look back and say, “Wow I’m really glad we stuck it out because look at how far we’ve come. I’m so happy you are still in my life.”

What are your reasons for staying married?

52 comments… add one

  • Trista June 16, 2009, 11:11 am

    Alisa, I completely agree with you. I had a married couple that wanted and needed a divorce but would not because they didn’t want to hurt their daughter. After all the yelling and name calling they finally realized they were only hurting their daughter and they divorced. They are both happy with other people and the daughter is happier. Both individuals returned to the fun, friendly people they were before they were married. They even speak kindly to each other. Marriage was a blessing for them because the had a beautiful daughter and divorce was a blessing to them because they both recognized that their daughter needed two parents intead of a couple people lost in a sad relationship.
    Keep up the good work…you always get me thinking.

  • Robert Erbeau June 16, 2009, 1:15 pm

    There is only one reason to do anything in life: It’s the best choice for you. I know this sounds extremely egocentric, but after all, it’s your life. Your 5 reasons are all excellent ones, as was your original post. BTW, to the comment that you only see your kids every other weekend if you are dad: Patently untrue. Joint custody can work, but you have to be able to work with your ex. Otherwise, it can become a tug of war where everyone loses, especially the kids.
    Thanks for a great post Alisa.

  • Sarah Liz June 16, 2009, 1:30 pm

    So true! Again, I think staying married for kids or because you want to honor your vows is dumb; it does take TWO people and people and kids are NO better off if one stays in a miserable and truly unhappy dead end marriage. When people get religious about it, and I’m Christian myself, I say “God may not like divorce, this is true. But He also didn’… Read Moret create us to be miserable, lonely, neglected and un-cared for. He created us to have loving, joyful relationships and experience happiness and peace!” And you know what, no ONE has ever argued with me on that point–not even the most religious, God fearing, church going person. Yes, in a marriage, there WILL be tough times, trials and tribulations, that’s normal and even good sometimes–because it helps you grow (hopefully). But, still, I think people staying together for the kids solves nothing…….in fact, on the ‘Today’ show this morning they were talking about how kids/teens who ARE in households where the marriage is troubled (constant conflict, fighting, yelling) those kids are MORE messed up during THAT process than kids whose parents have actually divorced and are now happier and calmer within themselves. Kids in conflicted … Read Morehouseholds are more likely to drink, have more sex and partake in drug use as well. So, that should be food for thought for some people. Just saying….great reply to your blog, Alisa, as always, you are right on! I’m so glad you saved your marriage, along with your husband, it’s inspiring!
    Many Blessings,
    -Sarah Liz :)
    P.S. I totally understand, encourage, admire & support people who DO stay married–money’s usually a factor too, especially in this economy. But, staying married is hard work and marriage isn’t for everyone, I absolutely believe in staying for the RIGHT reasons, like you listed above! To all of us who have done that, I say, BRAVO!

  • Rebecca Kvenvolden June 16, 2009, 7:41 pm

    I don’t think it is at all “Dumb” to stay married because you made a legal and moral contract to do so. Its merely showing integrity. If you only intended to stay married as long as life was perfect and comfortable, hopefully your vows reflected that. Mine were more traditional, “in sickness and health, in good times and bad, till death do us part” and so, since i’m not DEAD, and nor is my spouse, i am committed to this marriage, no matter how unfashionable that may be.

    • replying July 4, 2011, 10:04 am

      if that works for you great. just may not be everyone’s solution.

      • Mikelle James November 17, 2013, 12:54 am

        There is no integrity in being beaten an inch from life or raped repeatedly by there spouse in some cases divorce is needed let us not forget how evil people and this world can be. Although love hides a multitude of sins we are still charged to persevere and protect our temples. So be leery of telling people they have no integrity for leaving. Scripture must be put in context and many people are bound and can be manipulated by it, if they are not strong in the word of God. Peace be with you!

  • McLaughlin June 17, 2009, 4:06 pm

    Well, my x got married to another guy and then 2 years later we were divorced. A bit too late for anything listed.

  • Nancy August 3, 2009, 5:33 pm

    I agree – never stay together for the sake of a child! It is not easy, but in the long run it is worth it. Speaking from experience it takes time, patience, forgiveness and a great deal of love for the children to work through a divorce and be civil to each other.
    My son’s father and I split when he was seven years old. It was not easy after 11 years, but once we were able to get out of each others personal lives and focus on our son’s life it was much easier on both of us. It took about one year to get out of each others lives and two years to be completely civil when our son was not around (we made the effort not to fight and argue in front of our son). Both of us made good money, so we split the child expenses ½ and ½ and worked out a visitation schedule (that was easy as a US Marine he was deployed for half our son’s life). We have always been about to talk civil to each other about our son, catching up on his school, sports, vacation, etc. Only in the last couple years can we speak on a slightly more personal level of how is the spouse, how are your kids, how is work… Anyway, his father was sent to Iraq, back to the states, back over to Iraq, home to the states, over to Japan and then back to Iraq. Needless to say my son did not get to see Dad too often in the last six years. This was difficult because they were always close. Last year he made a huge decision with the help of two months of talking with me and his counselor (his father is a Marine and our son needed help dealing with his feelings of Dad possibly dying over in Iraq). Our son decided he needed to spend time with his Dad and reconnect as Dad would be home every night for two years. My son’s only concern was would he be welcome “home” again if he left. After reassuring him he could come home anytime after the end of a school year he decided to go! This adventure has opened his Dad’s eyes and made our relationship even easier. I had him for eleven years first as a military family (any one who know the military family life knows that I was a single mom most of the time) and then once we separated a true single mother. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life letting my son go. I speak to my son five times a week and see him as much as I can (he lives on the East Cost and me on the West Coast). We (son, father, mother and step-parents) have not decided on him returning with me in 8th grade or not, but one thing we all agree on is he needs to spend 8th-12th in one place as these are the most important years of a teenagers life. This decision will come in time with lots of communication from all parties, including our son!! Our son is very happy with both his parents, well-rounded, very good at communicating and is an honor roll student. He loves both his step-mother and step-father because it is not a competition! He knows who is father is, he knows who is mother is and darn it people – they have the right to love their step-parents without feeling guilty! My point is that staying together for the sake of a child is not a good thing. His father and I were miserable together, but we better friends then a couple. All of the “parents” work together and get along for the child’s sake. If the parents are happy then the child is happy!

    • Char April 16, 2012, 4:00 pm

      You hit it all , I agree

  • OneHotTamale25 November 16, 2009, 9:32 pm

    What does fashion have to do with marriage? (I just said that to be obnoxious.)

    Thanks, Nancy, for being so transparent. It is great to have people share examples of the HEALTH that can be produced in the lives of formers spouses and their children after a divorce. IMO people pushing the “stay together at all costs” mentality are the reason women stay with men who are abusive, repeatedly unfaithful, living secret lives, or are just flat out jackasses who refuse to be responsible for their vows because they are selfish. Why stick around for that? I too am a Christian. I know what the Word says about divorce. I also know what it says about the way spouses should treat one another. I agree wholeheartedly with Sarah Liz’s statement that, “[God] didn’t create us to be miserable, lonely, neglected and un-cared for.” If that is the picture of any person’s marriage, God didn’t take the picture and I don’t think He would want it to be developed! It seems to me the main thing is to start off right. People would do well to assess the motivations for the marriage and state their intentions for it clearly. If more people who went to the alter took care of that part first, maybe none of us would be commenting in this blog about whether or not divorce is a valid alternative to a miserable marriage because perhaps fewer people would be miserable…. But, who knows that for certain?

  • Dee December 24, 2009, 3:48 pm

    I liked your post, very true. The only thing I disagree about is this: It takes 2 people to ruin a marraige not one. Relationships are not one sided, everyone has their part.

    • gmcsocalgirl March 3, 2012, 7:26 pm

      I concur on it takes two to wreck a marriage. I’ve done my fair share of it. My husband has been traveling for work the entire time we’ve been together (almost 19 years). We have a great daughter. She’s struggling right now in her own life with just the usual 11-year old garbage. Great person, wonderful student, heart of gold. My husband and I have grown so far apart in the last decade, and he has suffered greatly from depression. I never really expected to be alone in parenting so often with him traveling and his career being such a huge focus in our lives. It feels like the first ten years before our daughter arrived were easier because I had my own career and was distracted enough to not be fully aware of how emotionally unavailable my spouse really is. To his credit, he has worked on it a great deal, and so have I, but lately I find myself wanting so desperately to hold on to the bitternesss and resentment and not just let go already! He is up for a new job in the next few weeks that requires no travel, and he has told me in the recent past that he now realizes that he spent his whole life completely involved in his career and climbing the corporate ladder. He also said he’s been emotionally unavailable for the entire time we’ve been married. This made me feel hopeful at the time, but then he’s also in the middle of a mid-life crisis of some sort too, and he’ll just turn right around and say the SOS he used to say that feels so historical and quite frankly, nutso! I am really conflicted, because I gave up a great career to have our daughter, and he travels so much, so someone has to be here for her (she still pretty young) and we agreed that one parent would stay home with her. Now, looking back, my heart just aches and is filled with regret for choosing this person to have a child with, when clearly he wasn’t up for the co-parenting part of the job. He spends time with her when he briefly returns from business trips every other week. However, he rarely even talks with me, calls me, emails me, or spiritually connects with me. The whole, weary-traveler, mid-life-crisis, hates his job and is desperately looking for a new one feels sort of like too little too late. There hasn’t been any cheating or really big offenses (name-calling for sure, and fighting of course…mostly a lot of ridiculous bickering that is fueled by our mutual exhaustion with his constent absence). I care about him, but he never really gives me a straight answer about anything anymore these days. He just avoids and deflects and spends as little time in the house as possible, except with our daughter. He keeps telling me that it’s going to get better, and as soon as he hears about this job offer, things will work out. What if he doesn’t get the job? He’s still the same depressed person who is always telling me the same old crap I’ve been hearing for twenty years now. I know I am huge part of the problem, and I am in counseling…but the waiting around is just getting so old. What if I died tomorrow? My life would have sucked for the last five or six years basically. I am not worried so much about being alone and I am that I have become this bitter, resentful person who is really not that effective of a parent. When he’s away, sometimes I am a great parent. When he’s here, some times I am an okay parent. I feel less stressed when he’s here, but then my daughter starts to act up and I am trying to help her, and I feel like no one has my back, becuase he’s so lost in his own sea of crap trying to get out of this confusing cycle of traveling for work and being depressed. I want to hang in there and have some faith, but why? If he doesn’t get the job, I figure he’s going to just spiral back down into his usual hole and disappear emotionally again. Yes, I am very aware how accusatory I sound, like none of this is my fault. Believe me, I am VERY aware that I am just an enabler and a nutball for expecting different results from the same old situation. I really want us to get unstuck, but we’ve been pretty stuck for a long time. I never really know who or what we are from one day to the next. Talk about identity crises for both of us…I am not sure you woudl call this a marriage or a stalemate. Okay…be gentle with your onslaught of comments…I feel them coming…

  • Dee December 24, 2009, 3:49 pm

    It takes 2 people to ruin a marraige, not one.

  • RN January 10, 2010, 2:33 am

    I would first like to compliment the author of this site, as the articles are very insightful, perhaps the best I have seen on the web, so kudos to you.

    I would like to offer some thoughts on often used comment, “staying together for the sake of the kids”. Kids, in this context, sounds to me like a contractual obligation, a car, vacation condo, or any other mutually acquired obligation.

    I am in a sexless and affectionless marriage. After 6 years, I fully realize that it was a mistake, and have punished myself needlessly(insommnia) for making a bad decision after much much careful consideration.

    What keeps me going? My son, who I love dearly. He is the joy of my life, and is constantly happy, almost innately.

    He provides these points of distinction for me why I stay:

    1. We have a very close and strong bond.
    2. It is certainly not his fault that I made a mistake marrying his mother.
    3. A divorce in which his mother gets custody(if she gets it)would send him straight into poverty, which is how his mother was living with her daughter, deeply in debt.

    Maybe other people don’t bond with their kids as much, which makes it easy for them to walk away, I don’t know.

    There was beautiful quote I read on a blog which sums up my dedication to him, and why I live in a bad marriage:

    “Love is not affectionate feeling, but a steady wish for the loved person’s ultimate good as far as it can be obtained.”

    C.S. Lewis–Answers to Questions on Christianity

    • Beezer April 15, 2013, 12:17 am

      You have described my situation perfectly. I have two boys. I’m sure my wife isn’t as bad as yours, but she’s pretty clueless about a lot of things. I work too much to even think about taking custody.

      I hate my life. Sorry, I know that’s not very constructive, but I really do. Like you, however, I don’t see how it’s ok to leave my boys to fend for themselves. My wife respects me, and I can mitigate a lot of her negative effect and stop her from yelling at the kids and stressing them out quite so much, just by being there.

  • Alisa Bowman January 10, 2010, 10:55 am

    RN–I think you raise an interesting and compelling reason to stay for the children, one that I had not considered before. Many people stay because they are too scared too leave, which is not the best reason. Also, staying because you worry about the emotional scars of divorce on the children probably is overrated. But if one parent clearly is not a good parent, for whatever reasons, that’s a lot more compelling.
    .-= Alisa Bowman´s last blog ..How to Accept Defeat, Part 3 =-.

    • alison April 5, 2012, 4:50 pm

      As a child of divorce, I believe it to be rather ignorant (read: uninformed, but speaking on it anyway) to brush off in ANY way, the effect divorce has on a child. My parents were married for 22 years, and divorced when I was 15. The divorce took about 1 year. During their marriage, they fought incessantly. They were, at times, physical with one another. My mother slept on a couch for the latst 2 years of their marriage. My sisters and I saw all of it. But when the time came for them to announce that they were divorcing, we would have moved heaven and earth to stop it. Still would. The life we had, for all the dysfunction it may have been, was the only life we knew. In divorcing, my parents took away all the security of a 2-parent household, they took away the familiarity of the life we led. They took away all the memories of holidays we spent, and they took away the peace we had come to know in the quieter moments. What we got in return was the constant uncertainty of where we were going to have to live, with which parent, were they going to fight when we saw then next, was one of them moving on with a new mate. We missed the familiarity of our old life so badly. Nothing ever filled the void of NOT spending Christmas as a family again, or having to try and go to 2 different houses at Easter. Nothing will help me get rid of the painful memories of seeing my dad severely depressed, or my mom trying to hide a new relationship with a man who didn’t really want much to do with teenaged girls (my sisters and I were all preteen to 20 at the time).
      When divorced people or even psychotherapists speak of “how the kids will/are handling a divorce”, or the effects of a divorce on kids in 1,3,5, or even 15 years down the road, are they really asking the KIDS who lived through the divorce?

      • mika May 30, 2012, 6:22 pm

        I guess everyone is different. My situation was the same; where my parents fought the last 2 years and I feel terrible that they endured that. They were miserable and trying to make it work for the sake of us. Of course I wish life was one perfect happy sitcom. But it’s not. And they weren’t. I can’t imagine being so selfish that I would wish my parents would live a miserable unhappy life just so I could have a 2 parent home… I love them both too much.

  • deborah January 22, 2010, 1:31 am

    I have been married 5 months and I am a Christian. We didnt even have sex until we were married and we are in our 40s. We were both married years ago in our 20s and that did not work out.

    I am now at a place where I honestly do not see how people STAY married and I do not see how I can possibly stay married. Its not that I dont want to, its just that, I dont see HOW it can happen. We are having issues, not adultery but other big stuff and my brain is just on overload because he has DEEP issues I can not fix and I can not see how to stay with him thru his issues. For now, I am coping by sleeeping in another room and speaking to him only when necessary.

    • Sara December 7, 2011, 11:02 pm

      Doesn’t sound like the communication was too good. If people are on their 2nd marriage & haven’t worked out their issues they repeat them. Sounds like you need counselling if he’s willing or go yourself. Life is too short to live in misery. If you’ve done your best to resolve your marital problems it will be easier to walk away

  • John M April 20, 2010, 10:45 am

    I would also like to add a little to the discussion about whether to stay for the kids or not.

    Firstly, I must say straight up that unless you come from a broken home yourself in which your parents separated and divorced, you cannot really have true understanding of the impact that it will have on you for the rest of your life and how much you never want to put your own kids through the same thing.

    “Also, staying because you worry about the emotional scars of divorce on the children probably is overrated.”

    I have to wonder when I read such generalizations as above.

    The dynamics of failing/failed marriages are often quite different to one another. Not all divorces result in each parent becoming happier or better parents individually than they were as a dysfunctional couple.

    I came from a broken home in which my parents fought for years, mostly at the instigation of my mother who was dissatisfied with my fathers behavior towards her.

    My dad was emotionally and physically detached from my mother as much as possible. He was self employed and his employment took him away during the latter part of the day and well into the night.

    As a child (one of five) I still have very vivid memories of the fights they had, and the topics of often heated discussion in which my mother voiced accusations of adultery etc. I remember the separate beds for about 3 years and the loneliness my mother felt day to day of loving a man who didn’t show love and affection towards her, and more often than not wasn’t present or sleeping during the day.

    My ‘mum’ (spelling correct, I’m an aussie ;) ) was in for the long haul and tolerated much for the sake of family unity.

    My dad too for all his faults stayed for many years beyond which he probably wanted to. He made a choice to stay for as long as he could for his kids. To feed and clothe them, to be there as much as his odd work hours allowed him to be.

    I remember many late nights with fondness when I got out of bed to spend time with dad while he ate a reheated meal that was cooked hours before. I remember and treasure many discussions and alone times I got to share with him while others slept and undoubtedly my siblings would account same when I failed to wake one night when he got home, but they did.

    My mothers suspicions and accusations were ultimately proved to be correct. My father had many flings and affairs as a result of the opportunities that his employment gave him. He was a charmer, a ladies man, and people were often drawn towards him. Eventually he found someone that he fell for and separation and divorce was imminent.

    I was 15 and it was 1975 when my parents finally split. My life and the life of a younger brother and sister was about to take a substantial turn for the worse.

    We were thrown from upper middle class life style into poverty virtually over night with my mother resorting to welfare. I soon had a very two faced jealous step mother who did everything she could to divert as much of my fathers attention and finances towards the needs of her own 3 kids.

    After settlement my mum had enough to secure a mortgage of her own on a little two bedroom cottage in the country. There was no way she could afford to stay in the city and pay for a mortgage and raise 2+ kids. I was fairly self sufficient at that time (15) and soon in employment and contributing to the household rather than going to school. (Please excuse my punctuation as a result).

    I got to see my dad usually via my own efforts in traveling down to the city on the odd weekend. I even secured work in the city at one stage and lived with my dad and step family for a few months which proved disastrous due to the jealousies and actions of my step mother.

    She would be nice and polite and even seem to care while he was there, but the moment he wasn’t she would turn. She would often lie to my dad about conflicts between myself and her kids that didn’t actually happen. I wouldn’t do dishes or chores etc when I had. She was a manipulative control freak and my dad often took her side to keep the peace.

    My younger siblings got to see dad around xmas time when he managed to detach himself long enough from his new family and make the 120 mile trip for the day.

    They too (younger siblings) in their later teens lived for very short times with my dads second family with similar results to what I experienced… Rejection, jealousy, animosity, hostility, neglect, lies, favoritism etc etc. All the while having to be grown up beyond your years in trying to get along and deal with people that have displaced you through no fault of your own and in truth want nothing or as little to do with you as possible.

    My mum never did get over dad. She never got another fella or remarried. She was 48 when separation and divorce happened. She was very very bitter towards the betrayal by my dad, but she never stopped loving him and probably lived in hope until he died when he was 73 (both same age) she lasted another six years (79).

    If you ask me or any of my siblings whether they would have preferred my parents split earlier to avoid the fighting and the impact on us as children the answer would be NO!!!!!!!

    I got to spend quality time with my dad that I would otherwise not of had even though the fights between my parents when they were together were at times very stressful and even frightening to us kids we knew we were loved and cared for and we were ALL part of a family even though it was often dysfunctional.

    The emotional scars I bare from those times are more as a result of what came later when they parted than when they were together.

    For anyone to generalize and say the kids and each individual parent would be happier, mentally healthier, and better life achievers etc etc as a result of being away from such ongoing conflict is talking out of their backside.

    No-one can know what lies beyond the other side of the fence. The grass is not always greener for parents or kids on the other side.

    What I learned from my child hood experiences is that no matter how difficult my relationship becomes with my wife (and it is in trouble), separation and divorce are the absolute last resort after every other effort I can possibly make to save my marriage has been undertaken and failed.

    Even then I would still stay if at all possible for my youngest remaining child at home (son 15) and put my own happiness aside for a while.

    I’ve learned that walking away is far easier than putting in the effort required to try and make a marriage work. I’ve learned that one persons pursuit of happiness and sexual gratification at the expense of everyone else impacted is about as selfish as one individual can ever be.

    I still have issues that were never discussed and resolved (never can be now) with my father due to the fact that my step mother hid the rapid deterioration of my fathers health (cancer) from me until it was too late to converse properly with him.

    I am persistently and actively trying to save my marriage, not only because of my son, but because I still love my wife. Even if that wasn’t the case though I would endure remaining unfulfilled and unhappy because I don’t want to gamble my sons happiness on the unknown aftermath of a divorce because I gave up too early.

    BTW, I’m 50 now. I married my child hood sweetheart whom I met when I was 15. She was a neighbors child I met and fell in love with when my mum moved to the country. So not all that came about as a result of my parents splitting up was bad.

    We’ve had for the most part 35 years together with a couple of break ups and experience of having other partners in our late teens before finding each other again. 5 Children and 8 grand children later we’re still together, barely.

    • replying July 4, 2011, 10:11 am

      Sounds like you want to improve your marriage. I would love to be in your shoes rather than in the one that I am currently, 3rd miserable marriage, childless and married to a man who’s married for life, which means we never go anywhere or do anything that doesn’t entail a remote control or a tv dinner.

    • Laura January 29, 2012, 9:33 pm

      I guess, not all marriages are perfect. If love ends, you have 2 choices: to leave or to stay. Leaving is the easiest I think, because you think about the moment. but if you think better, more problems will came, if you have kids. When you leave that guy, he will end up with another person, perhaps with kids also. Well, to me thinking that I have to take the risk to see the quality of that woman is scary, imaging my son sharing time with other person and kids…. that is not going to work, specially when they are very young. So thinking about what can happen after, you better stay in a boring marriage, but my son or daoughter will have just one father, one mother, and one home. In thins case, as adults, you will have to pull up with the situation and make your happy moments somewhere else. Life is not just your suppose, it is your work, friends. So problems will always be there. But which ones are you going to be able to put up with? that the question you have to make to yourself.

      • RL September 22, 2012, 3:03 pm

        An admirable and touching account. The very best of luck to you, JohnM.

  • DMH October 1, 2010, 9:43 am

    @ John M – heartfelt story my friend. I almost felt as if I were there going through it with you. I agree with Alisa with most she says here, but I also agree with you too. Being that I’m fighting for my marriage at this point and I have a son with my wife, I constantly go over this in my head too. I am very very close with my son. We have a great relationship. He is 2 1/2 yrs old, very young but, I don’t want him to grow up in separate households. Fortunately, there is no abuse of any kind in my home so, even though my marriage is suffering right now, it’s not enough to put my son through potential heartache.

  • Charlene October 9, 2010, 6:58 am

    I stumbled upon your post as I’m searching for divorce and its effects on children related blogs on the Net. I personally have a friend who sees another guy outside her marriage yet refuses to divorce her husband, the reason being she is too soft-hearted to hurt her husband. The husband actually knows about the affair, yet says it’s OK as long as she comes home every night. Your post gets me thinking, And I totally agree that it takes two to make a marriage work. Yet, it is never an easy process. Along the way, one might break and it’s sayonara. Whatever you do, in my opinion, (if you do have children), spare a thought for them. It ain’t their mistake, it’s ours as adults, so don’t make a devil out of them when they grow up.

  • Charles February 7, 2011, 4:56 pm

    It is my children that have kept me from walking out a dozen times from my marriage. I am married to woman (over 20 years) that has deep psychological issues and some very pronounced learning disabilities. She is emotionally abusive to me and has nearly bankrupted me four times. We have seen many counselors together and separate. But her disability doesn’t allow her to fully comprehend the steps needed to heal herself. So I am faced with walking out and leaving my kids with a woman that is not very dependent emotionally or staying in the marriage to be the stable force in the family. I chose to stay and I am focusing my happiness on my children. They bring so much joy to my life. I know that I will not have a companion spouse if I stay in the marriage, I have accepted that but I will enjoy every minute of my kids life. I will be nearly 60 when my youngest goes off to college. What will I do then? I don’t know but I live happy today, enjoying every moment.

    Moral of the story… don’t marry someone after dating only six weeks, you never know what you get.

  • Sue March 27, 2011, 4:42 pm

    I think this blog leaves out a lot! In broad strokes it gives sound advice, but relationships are complex, and this blog doesn’t speak to the intimacy of those complexities.

    While I agree one should not remain in a marriage that isn’t working, I do not agree with the idea that promises can be broken, at will. Whatever happened to trust? I also believe strongly that we are responsible to our partners (spouses) based on the tenets on which the marriage was built. The word “partner” in and of itself means something. In marriage it means shared commitment, responsibility, sickness/health and a shared life. How we negotiate a split should honor those once good qualities of the marriage. My own split speaks to these arguments: Read on.

    Married 20 years to the love of my life. I am now 60. It was a long slog through the marriage but a deep and abiding love held us together. The dynamics of the beautiful relationship began to shift around year 10, here’s why: He came from NZ – moved to the States to be with me. Showed up without a green card and no job – didn’t matter…I was employed and knew we’d get it sorted. Then he decided to get a degree (he left school at age 15 to farm). We decided together (and that’s the partnering part) that he should get his education because in the end it would position him well in a career and as an income producer. That was out plan. Well, I stood by that plan and worked full-time, while raising a son. My husband not only got his Bachelor’s degree, he went on to a Master’s then on to a Ph.d. which he finally received in year 19 of our marriage. In year 18, I supported his efforts to care for an ailing parent by selling my home, quitting my job of 20 years, leaving my son behind and moving to NZ, on the promise that we’d go “home” in 2 years. Guess what? He spent the money from the sale of our home, is involved with another women and has asked me to return to the States. He’s been working for 1 year now and has saved no money (six figure salary), but will not honor the 20 years by supporting my extradition and relocation. He saws “Read the law, in NZ it’s 50/50. If you do the math you’ll quickly learn that 50% of nothing = nothing. He feels this is equitable. I feel he is being selfish and reneging on the basic tenets on which we planned our life.

    He has admitted that he knew BEFORE we came to NZ that he wanted to end the marriage, but said nothing until a new women recently entered his life. Had he articulated his discomfort within the marriage BEFORE selling up and moving to NZ, I could have made my own choice about going with him (or not). This is a deep deception, to say the least.

    So…he took care of himself (per one of the points on the blog listing and as he’s done all these years with my support). I believe if he’s that unhappy withe me he should go. But I do believe that he should finish business with integrity. Whatever happened to ethics?

    • Anonymous April 13, 2013, 10:17 am

      Dear God! What ever came of this?! If you’re still out there and see this, I’d like to know.

  • Caren May 4, 2011, 1:31 pm

    I can really relate to Sue’s story, minus ten years. In hind sight I can see where things were off balance in our marriage, we both have work-a-holic tendancies and spent our entire relationship working on degrees and I was working full time and raising the kids. What I will always struggle with is why was our relationship only had enough value to get him what he needed, but not enough value to tell me he was unhappy, much less work on a solution. I see divorce as truly a last resort, not a convenient out, people should seriously consider both the reasons to stay as well as the reasons to leave. These lists are a good starting point, but the conversation with your partner before all hope is lost is critical if you have any respect for the relationship or the individual (including yourself).

  • Humble June 28, 2011, 8:32 pm

    As a Christian I am careful not to judge but I can’t help but be overwhelmed at the amount of selfishness that I see people indicate in this blog and in marriage throughout our society. If you are a believer one needs to first understand that God did not put any of us on this earth to look after our own needs first. We are here to serve. Just like Jesus. He wasn’t looking out for Himself, He served others, period. As Christians we are to try and become more Christ like each day. How in the world can we do that if we are looking to see if our needs are being met in our marriages each day before making sure our spouses needs are met “ahead” of our own? If you are having trouble today in your marriage, my advice would be to take a look within. In most cases each partner has some accountability. Our pride (one of satans tools) tells us, “well if he would do that or if she would do that”. Maybe there is something you could do? Figure that out, try it but be patient and commited. Put their needs first. How would you feel if they started putting you first. Well someone has to be big enough to do it first, that someone needs to be you. I believe that marriage is a union created by God ,and the Word is clear, divorce was created by man. There would be alot less divorce if we did it the way He wanted us to, Serve your spouse. If you truly loved your spouse you should find more satisfaction in pleasing and serving them than yourself. It’s called sacrificial and unconditional love. Wouldn’t you like for your spouse to have that towards you?

    • walkie74 August 15, 2011, 12:15 am

      Here’s the problem–in order to do it right, *both* spouses have to do it. A lot of the comments on here are from spouses who have been ready and willing to serve, but they’re getting nothing back. God Himself won’t stand for that. Mutual service is what truly blesses a marriage, not just one sidedness.

      • Dana October 12, 2012, 6:21 pm

        I agree that God doesn’t agree with only 1 sided giving.
        I have been married for 24 years to my high school sweetheart.
        We dated 4 years before we married. We have had many stuggles
        And have had many good times. I believe it is good to work hard to
        Have something worth keeping. My husband is not a bad man. There has been
        No infidelity. We have 4 kids together. I want a divorce but I am
        Struggling as I got married forever but am alone. He will not step
        Up as a husband. Not much of a father other then as a play date.
        I have tried to involve him in decisions. The answers I get are shrugs of the shoulders.
        Sadly his disengagement has increased dramatically as the years have passed by.
        The past 2 years have not been good. We have tried marriage counseling. I have done
        Individual counseling. He just started to try this option. If things do not
        Improve I don’t know that I can stay married. The one thing that I
        Noticed is lots of people discuss vows/promises/obligations and of course
        The children. Financial reasons loom large for me as well. All 4 kids feel it is time to
        End the marriage and have bluntly told me this and are asked if they could set
        Him up on dating sites so he wouldn’t be lonely. Btw I said yes that would be fine if
        He was ok w it. My biggest reason for staying is the extended family. I think a
        Divorce would kill my MIL. Seriously I think she would have a heart
        Attack. I also would not get to celebrate the weddings and children of many
        Nieces and nephews that are on his side. My SIL is a very good friend. My mom in law
        Is a big part of my life. I hope he has the same feelings toward my family but I
        Don’t know for sure as he doesn’t share things with me. I have
        Helped to create this situation 50% and he gets credit for the other 50%.
        I have tried to make things work and now he is willing to try. The prob I have
        Is I don’t know that I am able to try again. I don’t know that I want to. I think the relationship is over. I have been hurt and unloved for a long time and put up a pretty
        Solid wall around my heart where he is concerned. What I wish is he would meet
        Someone who makes him happy as I realize that person is not me. I want to remain
        Friends am above all not put any family in the middle as pawns. I want him to
        Be happy but I too want to be happy.

    • Sara December 7, 2011, 11:15 pm

      Good Luck on that one. After 20 yrs of being a slave to a selfish, nasty old man I’ve gotten pardoned, it’s called freedom. I feel satisfaction in knowing I deserve being treated with respect & won’t settle for less hope u smarten up & do the same

    • HumbleMyFootYou July 25, 2015, 10:29 am


      I have a family full of Christians and therefore I grew up with a strong sense of that same “how could a partner be so selfish as to put their own needs anywhere near the front??” mindset.

      I haven’t been any type of religious person since I was 15 and it’s STILL difficult for me to get away from what is essentially that brain-washing belief that my own needs should be forgone entirely for the other persons. That breeds nothing good when it’s your base needs that aren’t being met.

      Partnerships are equal and they only work when both are invested and involved. Each person, down at their core, has needs that must be met. Basic needs like love, affection, respect, some form of attention so they know they still exist for their partner, sexual love etc etc etc and so on. Different for everyone depending on who we are as individuals.

      Your black and white, bible washed version has nothing realistic to offer here. Time to do some of your own thinking and feeling.

  • Hiding it August 8, 2011, 2:00 pm

    I have been with a man for a year…and I’m the other woman. He has confided in me that he has cheated on her before.They got married very young and have since grown apart. He says he stays because of the children. How do I make him see that this isn’t necessairly the best idea? Do I feel bad for being the other woman…definitely yes. It wasn’t something that was planned…we were co-workers first, then became friends and it grew from there. But I feel for her as well. He doesn’t have a commitment to the marriage anymore but won’t ask for a divorce -1 because of the kids and -2 because he says she’s a good person and hasn’t done anything mean to him. She’s caught him cheating before and still stays with him. They’ve tried couples and individual counselling and nothing has worked. She knows who I am because she caught us out at a restaurant. They both deserve more than a loveless marriage and the children deserve two happy parents instead of two unhappy parents. Is there anything I can do to help them see that staying together isn’t necessairly the best option?

    • Shifty December 13, 2011, 8:17 pm

      I don’t think it is your place to do that. My ex cheated on me even before I meet her. She is a loving person and is a giver. She puts herself second all the time. But before I meet her, her ex cheated on her, she found out and left him. Her mom is bipolar and her dad was never really there for her as she grew up. She has low self-confidence and is (in my opinion) lacking emotional intelligence. She meet this guy already in a relationship, he was overseas and she got interested very quickly. We meet she was in love, we were in love, and she would tell me, Shifty I have never been treated as well as you have treated me. Even with that she kept contact with him for all 5 years. They meet maybe twice before we moved close to him because of my work.

      Now, from my research she seems to be following the “single women married men syndrome” where she can only be happy if he is happy. It destroys her self esteem and her happiness.

      Your two questions should be why did I get close and interested too him and
      what are my intentions if they divorce.

      Like i would like to tell my ex, your attracted to men who cheat, just like your dad.(I was not her type when we meet) And I am not perfect either. Just trying to be an adult.

  • Dakota August 17, 2011, 4:25 pm

    I am a Christian to, deeply involved in church. Yet I Wonder, WHY I AM MARRIED TO THIS
    I Don’t know her anymore. Its a fuss and arguments all the time, and everything is a mess. My house is a Wreck, She hasn’t cleaned
    in years.
    I work, she refuses to get a job. We barely make ends meet. Yet she
    Wants & needs this & that.
    I’ve been Sick twice, and both times she didn’t take care of me.
    Went thru Chemotherapy for a year, and she Never even went to the doctor with me.
    I’m at my wits end, and then in walks a young Lady. We became friends at first, and it was a year before we became involved. After 5 months she has sent me back to a house that isn’t a home. We still text ever day, but its only a occasional hello in public. We still care for each other, that is obvious.
    So the dilemma is, Why am I staying here? There is no Love, Support, Compassion or Rest from the Relentless Ridicule. The wife knows who the other Lady is, but I’ve never owned up to anything.
    We have no children, but we do take care of kids at church. And that is the ONLY REASON WE STAY TOGETHER.
    This is getting Hopeless. Even or Pastor says I should get a divorce.
    The wife hinted it to him, but never told him the full story. Of course he came and asked me.
    The young Lady isn’t a gold digger, for this mine is empty. She works two job and goes to college. But she is also half my age,
    I truly wonder if age is a factor. She doesn’t act like it is.
    Anyway, what’s your input?
    This is, I guess Giving Up after 18 yrs of wondering Why! !!

    • Living LA December 3, 2011, 6:07 am

      Firstly you need to come clean with your wife.

  • D August 24, 2011, 1:00 am

    there are four reasons to me….my four children….I stayed in the marriage for my children…of curse I want out but he wont let me take my children his mother will help with attorneys I dont have that….I cant live without them…One is in the airforce one is in college I got two left youngest is 8 :( so ten more years to go and I guess that is when I will be free

    • lauren April 23, 2012, 5:44 pm

      I think staying together for the kids is different in every situation. Sometimes its not about the children getting emotionally scarred by the lack of love in the home. Its about keeping my children safe. I will never leave my husband because I don’t trust his family. I don’t let my MIL or her boyfriend be alone with my young children, her boyfriend has been accused by us of being to “hands on” with our young daughter which make us both sick. He was told to stop videoing and taking photos of her. It caused arguments but his Mother won’t admit he’s a slime that likes young girls, he’s disgusting. I wouldn’t be able to control this if we separated, what if they came over to my husbands house while the kids are with him. Also my MIL has previously been married to a drug addict and later someone who beat her and ended up in jail. His family isn’t safe and truthfully if I had realised how dysfunctional it was (they lived far away and moved closer) I would probably not of progressed this relationship. I will never leave my kids in a situation where they could be abused. Ever. So I stay for them. My husband doesn’t like to admit that anything could happen but his mums boyfriend was with her when my husbands sister was a two year old. She has some very strange problems and I’ve wondered if the boyfriend abused her way back. He left shortly after, to return to my MIL as soon as she has a 1 year old granddaughter. He has 1300 friends on fb many have babies or young kids on their profiles pictures. He bought my daughter a slutty tutu, he wanted a photo of her in it, that I refused to accept or open. Sometimes mums just want to keep their kids safe. I can do this while I’m here. I constantly worry about dying and not being here for them. I just need them to get old enough to know how to scream and run away from people. I think if my husbands family disappeared our relationship would be much better anyway. I grew up in a very loving and happy home, my parents are still so in love today. The best grandparents ever. Its not until you have your own kids that you realise what you want for them, if my husband never had this how does he know how to give it? I didn’t realise how important that was before the kids arrived. I know I can’t replicate my childhood, but when my husband doesn’t even want family time or care about it, because he never experienced it himself, he doesn’t know what he’s missing.

  • Ifeoma November 11, 2011, 4:27 pm

    I got married jan. 2011 and put to bed in august. When i was preg my husband slep wit me mayb once in 2wk. He was nt like this wen we dated for 6 yrs before the marriage. Since i gave birth to my baby i now beg for love making. I just feel the marriage is too young for this. All i think of everyday is to have extramarital affair. I ve not done dis b4 cos he disvirgin me. Please what do i do? Am just regretting this marriage

  • Sonia at Couples Counselling Toronto March 23, 2012, 7:32 pm

    Great post! There are many reasons to stay married. When two people are willing to try and explore different opions it can help to save a marriage.

  • Susan April 15, 2012, 9:14 am

    my husband and I have been married for 26yrs and out of the blue he asked me for a divorce. He said he never loved me. and that he was sorry he ever married me. We havent been a couple in a long time and that he doesnt want to reconcile. I thought that everything was fine up to the night two months ago that he said it. I asked to go to couselling which im doing. He refused to go> All I did for the past ten years is work 7 days a week with doing alot of overtime and come home and take care of the house only doing things with him. I didnt want a divorce so i asked him to stay with me for financial reasons. We keep living in the same while sharing the same bed. Can my marriage be save even he says he doesnt love me anymore or wan to reconcile? He says he has a feamle friend but has not relatioship with her while we are married.

  • Sonia at Marriage Counselling Toronto April 26, 2012, 8:50 am

    Here are a few reasons to want to stay married:
    - You still love each other.
    - You have a close bond.
    - You and your partner support each other.

    Basically if you’re going to share your life with someone then you might as well be happy. Being in a relationship should feel easy not hard or complicated.

  • Oh boy... May 25, 2012, 10:17 pm

    What happens when your married to someone who refuses to change, wants the marriage to work, but is too hard headed to change. What if you have suggested counseling for the past 7 out of 12 years, and still nothing. It’s kind of hard when your with someone, and you want tit to work, but he’s selfish, hardheaded, immature, bottles up everything and still refuses to change. Everything is my fault, even when he was unfaithful, and compulsively lied, he still found ways to justify it. He talks about me behind my back, and I am good to him. I am kind and I spoil him, I’m done with all that, he doesn’t appreciate it! I think to all that you listed above, one thing is essential to make note of. It will only work if BOTH in the relationship can agree to help and change. After 12 years, I feel like my like has gone no where. No home of our own, no nothing. We have two beautiful kids together, and I can’t give them everything he promised because he promised them and me so much and none of it’s happening. I put myself back through school and I graduate Sept. 2013, I am going to make something of myself for me and the kids. I would love for us to work, but I don’t see him changing. Someday, I want a home for my family, the question is… will he be part of that home? He’s treated me so bad, and he’s left me so many times because he wanted to be single for a while. After 12 years, you’d think he would grow up. What makes this so painful, is when he’s good, he’s amazing, but it never last long because everything makes him angry!

  • Melissa August 17, 2012, 12:53 pm

    This is honestly the most heartfelt, and touching website I have come across online. I read every story from beginning to end.

    I just left my boyfriend yesterday. We have a 2 1/2 year old son. He grew up not knowing his father, and was very close to his mother who passed away a year into our relationship. We met when I was turning 20, I am now almost 28. I moved in with him after a few months of dating. He was a little bit of a troublemaker before I met him, and did not have a secure place to live, so I got a place with him. We lived in a basement apartment for a while, until I pretty much dragged him along with me to buy a townhouse. He has not kept a job the entire time we have been together, and I wracked up a lot of debt, and stress because of this.

    He cheated on me for the first time when we had been together about a year. And has had several relationships since, including while I was pregnant. He smokes weed almost every day. I think he has a hard time dealing with stress in life, and this is his only way to relieve it. We have probably had 5 or 6 wonderful deep talks our entire relationship. But that is it. He gets stressed talking about bills or anything serious like our future. On the flip side he is so outgoing, funny, fun to be around, and can be extremely loving sometimes. He is good at making me smile. But again, he can be judgemental, and rude and hurtful. And says that I always nag him and he can’t stand it. But he wants us to make it work because he grew up without a father and doesn’t want to do the same to our son. He doesn’t want his son to have 2 sets of parents and 2 households etc. I also grew up without my father in the picture, and therfore do not have an example of what a healthy relationship should be like.

    I feel horrible like I am destroying his life, and taking my son from his father and having a home with his parents, which we never had.

    During some of our fights we have said horrible mean and hurtful things. He has surprisingly held this job for over a year (I got him the job) with my company at another location. It is part time however, so he barely contributes financially. He can not save, and is indudgent and somewhat superficial. I almost think he has some sort of personality disorder.

    Now should I go back? My son last night said that he wants to go home which broke my heart into a million pieces. However, we just sold our townhouse because we would have lost it otherwise, and used all the money to pay off debt pretty much. So have been in another basement apartment for a week or so. I doubt he could even pay the rent there by himself, and will probably have to help.

    He has lied so much, cheated so many times, hurt me financially and emotionally. On the flip side he has at times made me feel like an angel and like his soulmate. But I see a future of lonliness and regret if I stay.

    Someone please help. Should we keep trying?

  • michael April 10, 2013, 12:35 pm

    You did not list reasons why to stay married. you listed things to to to stop getting dovorce. all them sound good, but remember the human factor, I bet you good money that you are either happily married.

  • Jackie May 15, 2013, 5:02 pm

    My husband and I are 73 and 72 respectively. Our children are grown and out of the home. We have no children together. He is an alcoholic. The house is mine and is paid for it is in my name. If we divorce I would have to give him half. I pay for everything and want it that way. I am trying to wrap my head around the idea of staying together for financial reasons and living separate lives. He has good health insurance and pays very little and I would provide a place for him to live. How does this go , do we set up guidelines ? Where do we start?

  • Fran June 30, 2013, 9:00 pm

    Hi. My situation is this. I have been living seperatly from my husband for 21/2 years. I go 4-5 out of 7 days for dinner and every Sunday all day. I have been married for 28 years. I have 2 boys25and19. Both still live at home. I met someone and am very happy and in love with him. I’m afraid to get a divorce and just can’t seem to do it. Afraid I guess. What do I do???? HELP

  • Veronica June 3, 2014, 5:27 am

    \”Happily ever after\”. ….. Well, at least you acknowledge this junk is as fictional as Cinderella\’s glass slippers. You do realize you are throwing that little book God wrote out the window? Leaving out some important stuff there, don\’t you think? But, do what feels good for you…… Wow. What you have written makes you sound incredibly ignorant. For those who want actual truth, keep reading. Perhaps something written by someone who believes the Bible might have some valid points. Seriously.

  • Buc October 21, 2014, 4:42 pm

    Always remember when giving opinions and advice on marriages,there are two completely different marriages,yours and every one else’s.


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