If a parent has been unhappy in a long term marriage for the majority of the marriage but stayed in the marriage in order to provide a 2 parent home for their children, do you think that parent should continue to sacrifice their own happiness in order to save their adult children from the ugly reality of divorce?
That's a tough question. I'll start by saying I don't think anyone should sacrifice their own happiness for their children. However, I would hope that any parents whose marriage is in trouble would work on things and get counseling for the sake of their family. In my case, my parents were unhappy for most of their marriage but didn't always seek the help that was necessary for them to make things better. The problems built up over so many years that it made their divorce that much more painful. For me, that's the part that is most hurtful. Surprisingly, the divorce wasn't the most upsetting thing -- it was the fact that my parents had gotten to that point in the first place.
While the divorce was (and still is) extremely painful, I also underwent a lot of pain when I saw how unhappy my parents were in their marriage. There is a part of me that is glad they have an opportunity to get happy again, albeit apart from one another. My parents did sacrifice their own happiness in many ways and I grew up with that tension and have suffered as a result. That's something I don't think is healthy for any family.
But I'm still sad because my life has been altered forever and my family will never be the same again. The five of us will never spend time together all at once again. It just goes to show you this isn't an either/or situation-- it's messy and everyone hurts. But with time, I do believe there can be healing for everyone.
I would love to hear from all of you -- what is your response to the reader's question? Do you think parents should sacrifice their own happiness to keep a family intact? Is there truly an either/or here? Feel free to post anonymous comments or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.