I often hear from wives who tell me that their husband has either told them directly or made it very clear that he’s not fully invested in the marriage (or even in love with them) and is only still married because of the kids. While it’s commendable that a parent would make such a commitment to their kids, this is a hurtful thing for one spouse to say or imply to another. And it leaves the wife on the receiving end of this message in an undesirable position.
If she wants more or thinks that this arrangement isn’t acceptable, this certainly doesn’t mean that she loves or is committed to the kids any less, but all sorts of guilt and worry might come into play. The truth is, this arrangement certainly isn’t optimal for any of the parties. Sure, the kids live in a house with two parents and experts agree that this is best for them. But the lack of affection and forced commitment in that house certainly won’t go unnoticed and this is going to affect them as well.
In the following article, I’ll offer some insights meant to help the wives in this difficult situation. Everyone in the family deserves to be happy and to feel valued. I hope this article helps you to get more of this.
Staying Married Only For The Children Implies That Your Happiness And Fulfillment Doesn’t Matter And Isn’t Important For Your Childrens’ Well Being: To be fair, I actually advocate trying to keep a two parent household intact. I’m a child of divorce and I’m sure that this loss has affected me in all sorts of ways. I remember the pain associated with my parents’ divorce and how it affected the lives of my sister and I in negative ways. So from a purely selfish point of view, I wish my parents had never divorced. But I didn’t enjoy the very emotionally charged environment in our house either. Looking back, what I really wanted was for my parents to find a way to actually be happy together.
What benefits children the most is living in a two parent household where both parents are happy and affectionate to every one who lives there. Isn’t this the type of marriage that you want for your children? Do you want for them to thing it’s fine if everyone isn’t happy? It’s important that they know that fulfillment matters and if this isn’t present, they are likely to feel that void very deeply also.
Many people respond to this point with something like: “Well, unfortunately, I don’t see any way to provide all of those things. At this point, it’s a choice between us staying married for their sake or us being happy away from each other. And we think it’s better for them if we stay married for now.”
I applaud these types of sacrifices, but it breaks my heart that one or both of the parents are just accepting their misery in the marriage as though it couldn’t be changed or as if they themselves aren’t worth the effort to change it. In short, they are putting themselves last and I don’t think that this is completely necessary. I believe that many people could dramatically improve their situations if they accepted that they deserved it, made a commitment to do so, and then followed up with some very specific actions.
It’s Fine To Stay Married For The Children, But Why Not Make The Marriage Happier So That You’re Considering Everyone’s Well Being And Happiness?: Few people would argue with me when I make the point that the best case scenario for children is a home with two loving parents who also love each other. But many people doubt that they can truly have this. I often hear comments like “Our marriage is too far gone. We don’t fight in front of the kids. But we don’t love each other either. I have learned to live with it and I don’t think the kids know that it’s happening.”
I would argue that, with both people that committed, the marriage might not be as far gone as one would think. I would also suspect that although the kids might not fully understand their parents’ emotions toward each other, they most certainly feel it and will internalize it (and possibly act it out) when they have their own families.
Sometimes, people understand and buy into what I’m saying but they just don’t know where to begin. Their marriage has gotten into a rut and follows the same predictable pattern, so how do they go about changing this? Sometimes, you have to be brave one who takes the initiative. The next time your spouse makes a comment about only being together for the kids (or implies this with their actions,) tell them that living this way is not making either of you truly happy, and since you’re both committed to being together, it only makes sense to make the best of it and to try to be happy together.
A suggestion would be something like: “I know that you’re only still married to be because of the kids. You’ve made that very clear and it hurts me. We both deserve a marriage that makes us happy. I want that for both of us. Since we know that neither of us are going anywhere, can we work together to make things better for both of us? Can we create the marriage that we would want our kids to have when they grow up? I know that this means we will have to make some changes and work a little harder, but I’m willing to do this if you are.”
Now, your husband might not fall into your arms immediately and commit to changing the marriage, but he will hear what you say. And, in the days and weeks to come, you can show him that you mean what you say through your actions. And very slowly and gradually, you may begin to see some changes in his behaviors.
Typically one person will start the process and the other will begin to fall in line eventually, even if they aren’t fully aware of this. Once they begin to get some positive pay offs, they will likely want to continue, since people move toward what makes them feel positively and away from what makes them feel negatively.
Please believe that you deserve to be happy. I know that you might think that this situation will never change. But even marriages on their last legs can turn around. There was a time that I thought my marriage was truly at it’s end. My husband was resentful, distant and withdrawn and eventually suggested a divorce. Thankfully, even though I had doubts, I decided to try one last thing, to give a little more, and to approach it from another angle, and this eventually worked. You can read a very personal story on my blog at http://isavedmymarriage.com.