March 1, 2012

"Divorce is immature and selfish. Don't do it."

Says Penelope Trunk (who got divorced 4 years ago). I — who got divorced 22 years ago — agree with her. (Except to the extent that her pronouncement is phrased in absolute terms, which I doubt she believes. And not everyone who experiences divorce can be said to "do" it. It can be done to you.)
1. Divorce is a cliche among people in denial....

2. Divorce is nearly always terrible for kids. Your case is not the exception....

3. Divorce is for dumb people....

4. Divorce reflects mental illness....

5. Divorce is often a career issue....
Bullet points fleshed out at the link.

64 comments:

Pastafarian said...

I agree, if there are kids involved.

Fortunately, my first wife and I didn't have kids, so I don't beat myself up too much over it. It's not something I'm proud of, but it's turned out to be the best resolution of a bad situation, a situation largely of my own making, attributable to my youth and stupidity.

traditionalguy said...

Walking out on a spouse to have more for yourself in the way of freedom and romance leaves you just as bad off or worse in the long run. People seem to find another one just like the first one.

Scott M said...

When I divorced my first wife, it was for completely self-centered reasons. While I regret the impetus of what the 22-year-old me was thinking (wholly selfish), as time wore on it became obvious that we never would have made it anyway. We're both happily remarried and have been so for quite a long time.

So, yeah, I agree with the selfish bit.

Matthew said...

Selfish is not always bad.

edutcher said...

I think the old wheeze, "Marry in haste, repent at leisure", probably applies to divorce, but some mistakes have to be rectified, sad to say.

"Divorce is nearly always terrible for kids. Your case is not the exception....", but staying together can be much worse - do you leave the cancer in or cut it out?

Biff Styles said...

Yes, as someone without kids, I have to strip out all of the advice based on the "for the kids" rationale in that piece and then you are left with just about nothing.

I am grateful for not having children with my 1st wife. She was mentally ill, unbeknownst to me before we married, and the prospect of having to deal with her schizophrenia, and perhaps that of a child (or children), I don't miss.

My second wife was very confused about wanting children. She confessed in her diary to have wanted to have children, but refused to even agree to set a time for a conversation on the topic of having kids while she was married to me. She had an affair with her boss which I discovered during the process of the divorce. Prior to that discovery I was ready to turn on a dime and stay the proceedings in hope of a reconciliation. But when I read the evidence of the affair, it was instantly game over and I objected to none of the remaining process. She is now a lonely and bitter woman. Among the many in Madison.

Marriage counseling is a pathetic joke.

I have since remarried, and have been very happily married for 2x as long as the cumulative time of my first two marriages.

The third time is indeed the charm.

Sorun said...

I sympathize with the article a lot - especially when it comes to kids - but everyone's situation is different.

What wasn't addressed was divorce after the kids leave. What's so wrong with that?

(I didn't have kids and I'm happily divorced.)

Hoosier Daddy said...

Cheaper to keep her.

I'm passing through 20 years of wedded blitz and we have had our share of battles, some probably worthy of divorce but we muddled through and survived.

So unless she's beating you with the pin roller, spending all your money or banging the pool boy, suck it up and make it work.

Petunia said...

Ah yes, the lady who tweeted that "thank goodness" she was having a miscarriage during a board meeting, because of the "fucked up" three-week wait for an abortion.

Her writing is awful. Just as bad as the lady who writes the Dooce mommy blog, which I'm not surprised to see she follows. I've tried to read their musings but they're so badly-written that it's not worth the time or effort.

Patrick said...

I did happen to catch the "eggcorn" "judge mental" in Ms. Trunk's comments. Not surprising.

Divorce with children is always bad. It's not always the worst, but it is always bad. When it happens, I think the parents ought to be the ones shuttling back and forth, not the children.

Sonia said...

Wow, I'm sorry to hear this coming from you Althouse, since I've long considered you a model of a sane, conscientious divorced mother who raised two great kids, had a brilliant career, and eventually found a man who made you happy and treated you like gold.

Now you're saying that those of us who aspire to what you've done are selfish, dumb, mentally ill, etc? Just wow.

My marriage was absolutely miserable, for me and for the kids. I'll spare you the tedious details and try to sum it up in terms that defined my daily life: My husband treated me -- and my big lawyer salary -- like an ATM machine, servant, babysitter and verbal punching bag who was sexually repulsive and couldn't do anything right. After a few years of this I was such a wreck I couldn't eat or sleep, and could barely function. Oh -- and I was solely supporting a family of four with two kids still in diapers.

Fast foward one year, when we're living separately and in the process of a mediated divorce. My husband, without the apparently unbearable stress of living 24/7 with a wife and two small kids, has become a helpful, more or less pleasant person, and a much better father. I am roughly 1000 times happier, and yes -- it does make a difference to my kids that their wreck of a mother is now cheerful, highly functional, and not crying all the time, thank you.

The kids do have two homes, but they're two peaceful homes, not the toxic, demoralizing single home that no one but us could even stand to be in for more than a few hours.

Their lives aren't perfect, but they're a hell of a lot better than they would have been if I didn't make the very difficult and painful decision to leave my husband. Of that I am absolutely convinced, and no amount of glib moralizing and name-calling can make me feel any different.

So thanks for nothing, Penelope and Althouse. Good to know women like you think so little of womehn like me.

aronamos said...

Divorce is bad. Ok. Sometimes the marriage can be worse.

Doesn't change the fact that Penelope is a bonehead.

MikeR said...

Hard for me to accept this, and I believe strongly in marriage. Sure they should try a lot harder and succeed, but if they aren't doing that? Do I really have a right to tell them that I prefer them vicious, fighting, and miserable their whole lives? A person has to have the maturity to admit that some tests are too big for him or her.

X said...

sounds like the farmer has had just about a gut full.

Paddy O said...

I have friends whose marriages have fallen apart, and they all fit well into the discussion here. Great article.

And indeed, those even in these comments who are disputing it, are giving examples of why it is true, especially as it relates to issues of mental illnesses.

This leads to Althouse's right point there are exceptions, and the exceptions come when the dysfunctional elements are in place but one or more involved refuse to deal with them.

Marriage is a covenant with two people, and they both have to be willing to address these issues for a marriage to continue to work.

I don't think this was an article for the "other" person, the one who caused your marriage to fail. It's a call for people to wake up and realize how their own behavior is being rationalized and is wrong.

It's for those people who are fooling themselves into thinking their marriage is falling apart just because. It's for the people who are themselves the root of these points.

We shouldn't blame others for our own dysfunctions or make our kids bear the weight of our own dysfunctions. This is true for both the man and the woman, and if one person isn't willing to deal with this, the covenant has already been broken.

Canuck said...

Penelope Trunk has accused her second husband of "beating her up" and posted a bruise of her naked bottom on the internet.

NSFW: --
http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/12/28/the-psychology-of-quitting/

It may not be true and she has falsely accused her husband of "beating her up." Or it is true and she is choosing to raise her two young sons in a physically violent household.

elliot said...

My first wife left me for a 17 year old when she was 32.

Despite having a very unhappy marriage, I never would have left her for all the reasons cited at the linked blog.

I do believe my eldest son suffered because of it and isn't the man that he would have been if we had stayed together.

That said...I've now been remarried for a decade and my marriage is the center of my life. We have a four-year-old who we both adore who wouldn't exist if I were still married to my first wife (who married the 17 year old as soon as he turned 18).

Bad things definitely came from the divorce, but in the end so did a great deal of good.

So who is to say which what have been better in the grand scheme?

Canuck said...

It's not just two adults engaging in drama and dangerous actions. This is a second marriage and she choose to bring her children into this household. They do not have a choice as to the environment in which they live. This is selfish, indulgent, immature behaviour:

http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/2011/08/02/how-to-look-like-things-are-great/

"I walk in front of the tractor so he will stop and talk to me. He drives it into me, so I jump on top of the front. He keeps driving. It is very hard for me to keep from falling off.

I am screaming, "Stop driving!" and he is ignoring me.

I think that'€™s the picture of our relationship, right there. I want to talk, he doesn'€™t, so we do terrible stuff together. I put myself in danger, and he goes along with it by saying that I'€™m crazy.

write_effort said...

When Margaret Thatcher was asked about her successful marriage she said simply, "I married the right man and he married the right woman."

Some people are simply "better" at making these kinds of long-term, meaningful choices, even if it doesn't appear that they are really making a choice -- rather than simply being in love.

John Lynch said...

It's nice that the consensus has moved to divorce being a bad thing.

I don't care care much if there are no kids involved. Starter marriage, shrug.

The longer I'm a parent the more I realize how much of a jerk my father was for leaving when I was five. The consequences were still playing out decades later. I'm sure leaving was better for him, and my Mom ultimately did very well, but it was not good for me or my sister. Now the family is irrevocably split and only my mother and I get along.

People can rationalize that divorce is better for children, but it's not. Divorce is an alternative to working out problems. Both parties have to cooperate to fix a marriage but it only takes one to get a divorce. That makes divorce attractive- you don't have to give anything up. I've had some very bad times in my marriage that we worked through.

Good for Trunk for saying divorce is selfish. If people didn't think they benefited from divorce they wouldn't do it.

Bruce Hayden said...

Having been divorced, and having divorced friends and having dated a number of divorced women, I do think that it is often selfish, and if the one pushing the divorce had been willing to work harder at the marriage, that then the marriages probably would have succeeded.

I also think that it is not the least bit coincidental that women file for most divorces, get custody and child support most of the time, and are often otherwise supported by the state of single parenthood. And, yes, in many cases, thanks to their exes' income, have a significantly higher standard of living than said exes after the marriages break up.

I have long marveled that females are the ones who seem to be so driven to get married, starting at a young age to dream about their perfect wedding, etc., but then are the ones most often who walk out, taking the kids of course. But, maybe, and esp. today, it is because there is a much greater downside to a failed marriage to the man than to the woman. She gets the kids and a big chunk of his income, and he gets the crumbs. So, no wonder, that so many millenial, gen-y, etc. males are delaying marriage or skipping it entirely.

Oh, and my special pet peeve, brought to my attention last night as I renewed my CO bar license, is that non-custodial parents (read fathers) have to yearly certify that they are current in their child support obligations in order to maintain their license to practice, while the custodial parent has not corresponding obligation to certify with her obligations, such as visitation. Luckily, this no longer applies to me, but when it did, I would yearly add a protest to my dues payments.

DADvocate said...

Considering about 70% of divorces are initiated by women, Gumps "Stupid is as stupid does" reflects poorly on women.

The primary reasons women divorce reflects poorly on them also.
"Because I've Outgrown Him"
"Because I Don't Need Him"
"Because I Will Win"

The last reason shows our societies commitment to equal protection under the law.

prairie wind said...

Penelope Trunk has accused her second husband of "beating her up" and posted a bruise of her naked bottom on the internet.

There. Just in case there was any doubt of immaturity...she posted that online for the world to see. And I'm not talking about her husband.

Dan in Philly said...

Divorce sucks so bad for everyone involved that any benefits you might have by initiating it are far, far outweighed by the drawbacks.

I'm actually kind of in admiration for the Victorians, who sensibly outlawed the practice.

Sigivald said...

And not everyone who experiences divorce can be said to "do" it. It can be done to you

Well, true.

But she didn't say "do not have someone divorce you against your will", or even "do not end up in the state of being divorced"; when she says "don't do it", we should assume she means "don't do it", not "don't have it done to you".

Canuck said...
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Bruce Hayden said...

I do think that divorces should be harder to get, but they should be available. I just think that the line should be moved a bit.

Two examples of girlfriends who I think were justified in getting a divorce. One found her husband to have fathered two kids out of wedlock with her. Her priest told her she needed to forgive him. Her response is that she could forgive, but not forget, and henceforth would be worried every time he ran an errand that he was hooking up with some other woman (because, that was what he had done continuously during their marriage). And, ditto for when he was, supposedly, at work, where he would apparently ditch out to see his girlfriends.

Another one was verbally, then physically, abused. They got married because they both competed in the same sport, but she was much more successful, and he apparently got quite jealous of her success.

I don't think that I would ask anyone to stay in a marriage where the other partner was cheating, and was likely to continue to cheat, unless they too were cheating. Societally, the cost of divorce is really the biggest thing holding many people to a monogamous marriage. Of course, this shouldn't be absolute, since some infidelity is a result of one partner denying sex to the other, who ultimately goes outside their marriage for such.

I am sympathetic too with leaving abusive marriages - but you have to keep in mind that some, if not much, physical abuse by one party is a result, to some extent, of verbal and emotional abuse by their marriage partners. So, again, you get into the societal question of how much should you reward women through divorce for verbally and emotionally abusing their husbands. (I am not looking at it from the opposite side, because women, far more than men, get custody and child support in divorces).

In the end, in most of the divorces I know of, and the people involved, the root problem seems to be that either they picked their marriage partner poorly, figured that they could always get divorced, or just weren't ready for marriage.

Maybe, just maybe, if divorce were harder to get, people would think harder about who they are getting married to, and whether or not they are ready to get married.

Moose said...

Completely agree - divorce is destructive and simply not good for anyone unless there is violence or abuse involved.

Sonia said...

>Both parties have to cooperate to fix a marriage but it only takes one to get a divorce.

True, but also:

Both parties have to cooperate to fix a marriage, but it only takes one to refuse to acknowledge or change their selfish, mean, financially ruinous, addictive, unfaithful, etc. behavior that has turned the marriage into a miserable joke for all concerned.

You simply can't make someone "cooperate" who is psychologically unable to or, for whatever reason, just doesn't want to.

But of course, it's the divorcing party -- usually the woman -- who is selfish and won't "do the work" and "put the kids first." Because of course she doesn't care about how divorce will affect her kids.

Right. Got it.

Roman said...

Reminds me of my own marriage, a short one, long time ago, biggest mistake of my life. It is better to have loved and lost than to have loved and won. At least in my case.

Joe said...

Marriage is a partnership and if one spouse isn't willing to go along, there isn't much the other can do.

It doesn't help if your spouse is a cluster "B" personality. In my case, I was literally losing my mind trying to deal with her, though I persisted and in the end, she asked for the divorce for reasons that she still can't articulate.

My ex resisted marriage counseling for years, yet lied to everyone that I was the one holding out. In counseling, she said many of the right things and for a while her actions seemed to align with what she was saying, yet the entire time she was telling everyone else it was pure hell and that she wanted a divorce. Ironically, she never told our marriage counselor that, let alone why (to the contrary, she told our marriage counselor that she was willing to do anything to save the marriage. The counselor believed my ex at first until she realized my ex was full of shit in a very stunning session when my ex accidentally said the truth about some things.)

In theory, my wife could have made the marriage work. In reality, given her personality and unwillingness to seek any sort of therapy, I'm surprised the marriage lasted as long as it did.

As for the kids; the youngest was 15 and old enough to make her own decisions and for all my ex's problems, she's very good with the youngest, reserving her assholery for the oldest. (Though I do agree with the article's author about the shuttle thing--all the reading and counseling I've done finds that teenager especially hate that, so we didn't push it.)

It took my months to recover from my marriage and I'm still recovering, but I'm healthier now in all respects than I've been in years and my relationship with my children has actually gotten better, not worse. We probably should never have gotten married, but we were young and dumb. Realistically we should have divorced five years ago. Three of my children agree to varying extents, one has no opinion.

(I used to be quite religious and quite judgmental about divorce until I learned that the reason a couple I knew got divorced was exactly the opposite of what I'd assumed and beyond justified. Since then, I've tried to remain non-judgmental unless I know a preponderance of facts.)

Joe said...

Incidentally, one of the weird things about divorce is how do you refer to your ex-spouse when talking about events during the marriage?

So if you say, five years ago my ex did such-and-such. Did your ex do it or did your then spouse do it? This can get quite confusing.

Freeman Hunt said...

The parent who initiated my parents' divorce sees/saw how it affected others much differently than the others see/saw it themselves. Something to remember when anyone tries to tell you that their kids are doing just fine during and after a divorce.

Methadras said...

Smartest thing Ms. Trunk has ever said. Bravo.

sleepless nights said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Blue@9 said...

I agree, if there are kids involved.

Fortunately, my first wife and I didn't have kids, so I don't beat myself up too much over it.


Same here.

And I don't regret having gotten married in the first place. People grow and change as they age; one's fervent hope is that you and your spouse do so together and in a complementary way, but that doesn't always happen.

Joe said...

Methadras and others, did you actually read the article and the associated material? Penelope Trunk's husband is beating the shit out of her, yet she claims that her children are better off with an extremely violent father and violent marital situation than having their parents divorce.

This IS battered wife syndrome; she is trying to justify staying in a marriage that has a likelihood of killing her and which is creating a very unhealthy environment for her children. She has turned reality upside down--staying in such a marriage is immature and selfish.

Blue@9 said...

Also, the experience of my marriage and divorce has taught me one thing: Don't ever presume to know or judge someone else's marriage. What you see and what you hear are the tiniest little snippets of a complex 24/7 relationship. People still tell me, "But I thought you two were perfect!" -- yeah, but that's because you only saw us a couple times a month.

Bob Ellison said...

I'm just grateful that my wife sticks with me without evident reason.

Michael said...

Bravo to the Professor for her honesty. Divorce is entirely bad even if you land on your feet and live happily ever after with a new spouse. Especially with children. The fact that you can be happy in a new longterm relationship after divorce and still be against divorce is what is called irony.

John Lynch said...

In all the stories of divorce it's always the fault of the other person.

Lyssa said...

John Lynch said In all the stories of divorce it's always the fault of the other person.

Yup, and that other person's fault is always something that the heroic and suffering storyteller couldn't possibly have known about prior to both marrying and bearing children with that person.

(I did think that my parents would divorce when I was a kid, and even hope for it. Once I grew up a little bit, I realized how stupid that was and am eternally grateful that they were mature enough not to put us through that.)

(If he's really beating Ms. Trunk, though, that's a different story. In that case, she should both leave him and avoid any romantic relationships for a long while to avoid pulling this shit on her kids a third time, which she doubtlessly would do.)

Canuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ralph L said...

My cousin's first ex just got out of the big house for shooting (wounding) her boyfriend during what she thought was an amicable divorce. She found out later his mother was mentally ill, and now their teenage son has done time for drugs. The rest of our lives have been pretty boring in comparison.

I'm actually kind of in admiration for the Victorians, who sensibly outlawed the practice
No, the Victorians made it easier legally and socially. It literally took an act of Parliament to divorce before the 1850's in Britain. Edith Wharton wrote a short story about how the stigma stuck to a divorcee long after later divorces didn't have that effect.

Canuck said...

And to be clear -- this is her second marriage. This is a stepfather to these two boys.

She was selfish to get married a second time to a man that she has a violent, tempestuous relationship when she has the care of two young boys.

Canuck said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Simon Kenton said...

Canuck wrote:

"Frankly, I really wish that I had never read her blog. It's depressing to know that kids are being exposed to this sort of b.s. and you can't help them."

+

My reaction too. It's time for the real father to step up, strip her of custody, and get his kids into a kind, stable, non-violent place.

I read several of her links, including the ones where she breaks stuff and leaves it on the floor for the kids to wade through so he'll talk to her. The one where she imprisons him so he'll talk to her. The one where she provokes him for 2 hours so he'll talk to her. It reeks of the sense that because she'll air everything verbally, she's the victim here. But I did not read a single post where either of them makes a studied effort to figure out what the other would need to feel loved, calms down, and does it. She's frantic to be loved, and never makes a deliberate effort to love.

Whatever her good sense about divorce, hers is a dirty-making little corner of the internet and I won't be back.

Victor Erimita said...

I got divorced 34 years ago, after 2 years of marriage to very much the wrong person. We didn't have kids. I remarried 28 years ago and have lived very happily, raised a family and lived the life I always wanted to. My ex remarried too and has been just as happy. And all these years later she and her husband and my wife and I are close friends. Thank God we were immature and selfish 34 years ago, because, of course, one rule always applies to all cases.

Victor Erimita said...

I got divorced 34 years ago, after 2 years of marriage to very much the wrong person. We didn't have kids. I remarried 28 years ago and have lived very happily, raised a family and lived the life I always wanted to. My ex remarried too and has been just as happy. And all these years later she and her husband and my wife and I are close friends. Thank God we were immature and selfish 34 years ago, because, of course, one rule always applies to all cases.

Sonia said...

Sorry to comment so much; this post has obviously touched a nerve with me. I just want to add two more things, since the discussion here mirrors the internal "bad mother/get the hell out" dialogue I had with myself for many months:

> Since then, I've tried to remain non-judgmental unless I know a preponderance of facts.

Amen.

> John Lynch said In all the stories of divorce it's always the fault of the other person.

>Yup, and that other person's fault is always something that the heroic and suffering storyteller couldn't possibly have known about prior to both marrying and bearing children with that person.

When I began telling people at work and social acquaintances that I was moving out and filing for divorce from my kids' father, I was certain they were going to react much as these commenters. While they could probably muster a polite remark, their reactions would surely reflect the guilt and shame I already felt. I was the [sarcasm alert] “heroic and suffering” woman who married an asshole, or someone who gradually turned into asshole (and was probably an asshole myself, which drove him to it). Now, instead of sucking it up and living with him for the rest of my life, I was heading for the exit, dragging my poor, helpless children with me. If only I had or would [fill in the blank], everything would be OK. But no!

I was ready for this from the educated, professional, overwhelmingly still-married people in my social circle, and braced myself accordingly.

Instead, every single person I told looked me straight in the eye and said some version of the following: “If you're divorcing him, I'm sure you have a good reason. This is a sad thing and I'm sorry you're going through it, but you and your kids are going to be fine. “

Now, either this response was a sign of the craven, immoral, me-first, child-hating society we live in – or, it was simple decency.

I believe it was the latter, and was deeply appreciative of it during a very rough time. If you know someone who's divorcing, I suggest you at least try to fake it.

Blue@9 said...

I believe it was the latter, and was deeply appreciative of it during a very rough time. If you know someone who's divorcing, I suggest you at least try to fake it.

Quite a lot of people are hard on divorce until they have to go through it themselves. That real empathy is white lightning--it cuts through all the crap you've just theorized about and never experienced.

Jana said...

John M. Gottman, noted marriage expert, has noted that divorce can be every bit as harmful on the children as living in an unhappy marriage -- he encourages couples to keep their marriages healthy.

Your anecdote about your awful, abusive husband is just that, an anecdote. Pretending that divorce in general doesn't have a terrible effect on children and personal well-being because you know (or are) that one person who had a legitimate reason to divorce is foolish. Years of academic research supports more than undermines PT's dramatic pronouncements on divorce.

Jana said...

I should note I mean a general "your" -- I wasn't addressing Althouse directly there.

Jana said...

Quite a lot of people are hard on divorce until they have to go through it themselves.

Some of us who are hard on divorce have gone through it ourselves, as children. My parent's divorce was a textbook example of a "grass is greener" attitude of one half of the partnership. There was no abuse, nothing really to justify breaking up a 16-year union. Just that nagging feeling like there might be something better out there. People who do this deserve being called out for what collateral damage (however unintended) is visited upon the children.

Henry said...

Jana, I greatly sympathize with your point-of-view, but at a certain point statistics break down. Individuals are still individuals. The anecdotal is the reality.

In the case of my wife's parents, the need to call out the collateral damage (by each other, by their children) has done no good for anyone.

This is the conundrum. The cultural disapprobation that prevents preventable divorce may be good. Irresolvable anger between the individuals involved is not good.

Sonia said...

OK Jana, here you go:

Every parent who files for divorce because he or she is vaguely bored, wants to have sex with other people, or their spouse left the toothpaste cap off one too many times, is a selfish idiot, no question. They may even be mentally ill trailer trash. OK?

But your parents' dumb reason for getting divorced is also just an anecdote, and the fact is there are many, many people who file for divorce as a last resort, because they believe it is the lesser of two evils for both themselves and their children. And in very dysfunctional and/or abusive marriages (not exactly unicorn-rare), that may well be the case.

The point is, it's (1) presumptuous and insulting to assume that people, in general, get divorced because they are your moral inferiors; and (2) it's an unexpected cheap shot for Althouse to write a “provocative” blog post titled, basically, “Every mother who files for divorce is a dumb, selfish bitch – I know, because I was one!”

(Penelope Trunk is just batshit crazy, so whatever. )

Canuck said...

"My reaction too. It's time for the real father to step up, strip her of custody, and get his kids into a kind, stable, non-violent place."

Agreed. I completely agree. I am horrified that these children are in this situation. The father needs to get the kids away from this household.

Trunk's post is all about justifying her bad decision to stay with "the farmer." She never should have never brought her children into a household which would not be peaceful. She is justifying her decision to stay by talking about the bad effects of divorce.

Mel said...

Patrick said:
"Divorce with children is always bad. It's not always the worst, but it is always bad. When it happens, I think the parents ought to be the ones shuttling back and forth, not the children."

It's just as bad for the children when the parents do the shuttling. My DD's best friend's parents do this. They are well off and own a farm in the middle of nowhere and a house close to town. Through the week, Dad stays with the kids in town and closer to his work. Weekends, he goes to the farm and Mom comes to the town house. Kids visit the farm when the mood strikes them. After all of the kids are grown and out, the properties will be sold and the proceeds split. DD's friend thinks the whole thing is her fault and that no one should ever get married. I don't know why the parents felt the need to split, but I am sure it's not Gin's fault. I am fairly certain the situation contributed to her older brother's drug problem and that he blames himself too.
My dad drank and beat the crap out of all of us at one time or another and I always wondered why my mom stayed. In the end, I think she stayed for the same reason I didn't leave when my DH had an affair: God hate divorce. I love God and therefore found myself unable to initiate something he hates.
I think if Dad had started proceedings, Mom would have let him leave; if DH had divorced me, I would have let him go, but my willingness to forgive him and go to counseling to figure out what had gone wrong saved what has turned out to be a 20 year marriage that I wouldn't trade for anything. I understand that "God hates divorce." isn't enough reason for most people. I've been told more than once that there was amazing faith in that. I know it wasn't faith at all...just love. God's love for me and my love for Him and my family.

Jane said...

My parents, I'm pretty sure, would have divorced when we were children, were it not for a comittment to stay together, "for better or worse." They argued a lot. At one point, they made sure we kids all had Saturday morning enrichment classes, and, later, I found the business card for a marriage counselor in my mom's purse. And you know what? I'm grateful to them for sticking to it. They're in their 70s now, they've stopped arguing (they just disagree a lot), they take cruises together, and they're doing OK.

bagoh20 said...

My mother divorced her first two husbands, and these points are 100% backwards in her case. Staying in either of those marriages would have ruined what turned out to be a productive, loving, fun and successful family and life.

Relationships and the environments in which they function are so varied that anyone who claims anything is always true of them is: cliched, dumb, possibly mentally ill and only trying to advance their career writing about something they only think they understand.

bagoh20 said...

As the child of multiple divorces, it really was not a negative personally at all. I don't remember any great angst or problems. It was much better once the fighting stopped, much better. And when Mom finally found a loving man, it was a wonderful change and a truly transformative development for our whole family.

Joe said...

My parent's divorce was a textbook example of a "grass is greener" attitude of one half of the partnership.

Perhaps, but it probably was much more than that and they hid it from you.

Only my oldest daughter, best friend, a brother and my marriage counselor knows what really happened in my marriage.

About two years after we were married, my now ex-wife found out why her parents really divorced ten years previous. (I sure wish I'd known before I got engaged; it helped explain a whole lot of my ex's behaviors.)

theworld4realz.com said...

I want to agree with Penelope. What she says makes great sense & sounds ideal. But having come from two marriages (the first violent, wherein he only married me cuz I got preggers, & then proceeded to remind me that he never loved me on a daily basis; & the second emotionally void because I was too needy to see through the charming BS that covered an emotionally empty shell of a man), I can honestly say I’m happy now where I am. I finally ended up with my best friend, & we’ve been together for five very happy years. He is raising my children & they both adore him & call him “dad”. So as much as I WANT to agree, I can’t.

I was so steamed over this article that I ended up writing a response on my blog. If you would care to check it out here is the link: http://www.theworld4realz.com/2012/03/01/daggone-you-penelope-trunk/

Tari said...

That woman is batshit crazy. I can't read her that often because it depresses me too much - although sometimes it's nice to know that I am completely sane in comparison to (at least) some people.

As for divorcing post-kids, I'm quite sure it's a bad idea in more cases than it is good. But sometimes it's the only sane, smart thing to do. Not that Penelope Trunk would know a smart or sane thing to do if it ran over her with a tractor...