Question: Dear Luise: I am married but in name only. It was over for us almost before we got started. My wife and I were both young and didn’t know what we thought we knew all those years ago. Maybe we still don’t but we know this marriage is a farce. I wonder if we should have kept trying, but we did. Along came our kids and now they’re the reason we haven’t split. Should this just go on and on for the sake of the kids? We’re both unhappy and depressed. Help if you can, please. Don
Answer: Dear Don: You don’t mention the ages of your children, so I don’t have much idea of whether they are getting close to leaving home or not.
Your question could have moral and/or ethical implications based on your beliefs and values. I have no way of helping you sort those out. It does sound to me like you have both done your best.
Part of the reason why you are still married may have to do with the fact that it’s not that bad. Yes, you’re both miserable but it also sounds like there’s some mutual respect. That’s an assumption, of course. There are a lot of marriages that are seen as mistakes in retrospect that aren’t horrific.
Whether you stay or go there’s going to be a price. If you end it that will definitely affect your children. Unless there is overt brutality they are aware of, they want their home in tact. Children are often so self-absorbed that they miss the subtle nuances of their parent’s quiet desperation. If you agree to stay, you will watch more years come and go without the fulfillment you had hoped for.
It sounds like both of you are of a mind. If I have interpreted that correctly, perhaps you may be able to put together a plan that will work fairly well for everyone. Believe it or not, I have known of couples that “stayed and still left”. By that I mean they occupied a home with a daylight basement, each living on a different floor, and one couple even bought a duplex. Separated or divorced, you can get pretty creative if you’re miserable enough.
I haven’t suggested counseling because that’s so obvious. I’m sure you know that it’s out there.
Whatever you decide to do or not do, please discuss any changes with your children if they are old enough to understand. It may not be wise to give them a vote, since it’s your decision, but they need to be considered and factored into any plans you make.
I know this is really tough stuff for everyone who has to face it and work through it. Blessings, Luise