Guest blog – Staying together for the sake of the children

Today’s guest blog is from one mum who blogs at Through AcceptingLimits. It is a brave and honest account of her marriage break up and how it made her consider whether it is always right to stay together for the sake of the children. 


A little over a year ago I told my family that I had ended my marriage, and they were masksshocked.  And when I said to them “I’m alright.  Really, I’m alright” they didn’t believe me.  They thought I was putting on a brave face and trying to be strong.

The irony was that I really was alright, as opposed to the preceding years when I had put on a brave face every single day.  My family never had a clue.

I was happy for most of the first year of my marriage, living in ignorance of what was happening when I was looking the other way.  The remaining three years of my time living with my husband grew increasingly miserable and oppressive, and during our final year together I cried almost every day.  And yet I never gave my family the smallest clue as to my misery.


Image: Netmums

On one occasion my husband could not find the shoes he had been planning to wear to a formal family gathering and began shouting at me to find them. He grew angrier and angrier with me for not knowing where the desired shoes were, until eventually he screamed that he would not be coming with me.  I cried and begged him to come.  I sobbed and sobbed, and then once he was satisfied I had been punished enough for not knowing the location of the shoes, he calmed immediately and said he would come.  In the car on the way there I bit my lip and said nothing, trying to fight back the tears so that I would not arrive red-eyed and puffy-faced.  As we entered the room I smiled.  A big, broad smile that told everyone I was the happiest one of all to be there, and that all was well in my world.

This example is one of many.  The point of recounting this story is because I still sometimes wonder why I did not tell the people I love most what I was dealing with.  Why did I feel the need to present the big fake smile?


Image: Netmums

Yesterday when J was looking through my wedding photo book I saw something I’d never noticed before.  Two photos next to each other on a page, one after the other, telling a clear story.

The first picture shows my husband and I walking along a corridor towards the marquee, where all the guests at our wedding reception were waiting to greet the bride and groom.  Our heads are bowed together as we walk and it looks as though we are in deep conversation.  However, it is actually a photo of our first argument as man and wife.

Cut to the next photo, taken no more than a minute after the first.  We have just walked into the marquee, our guests on their feet applauding us.  We are holding hands and I am smiling.

As I looked at the second photo the emotions came flooding back to me.  Trying to subdue the feelings of anger and sadness, and push them to the back of my mind.  Knowing I had to show the world I was happy.  And from that moment on, that is the way it was.

mother and child

Image: Netmums

The day I told my husband not to come home there were three “final straw” moments.  One of them was an argument that took place that morning.  This was nothing new.  What was new was this.  J had his hands over his ears and was repeating: “Don’t shout, don’t shout, don’t shout, don’t shout”.  And L was stroking my leg, looking up at me saying “Don’t cry Mummy.  Please don’t cry”.  And in that moment I stepped out of myself and saw my family.  My sad, angry, f*cked-up family.  And I knew enough was enough.

Today I was talking to a friend and discussing the notion of “staying together for the sake of the children”.  And I have to admit that this is the main reason I didn’t end my marriage earlier.  Despite everything we were living with, there was still that deep, ingrained belief that I needed to keep my family together, and that I had to do what I could to save our family before I took the last resort of splitting it up.

And so I’ve been thinking about a parent’s right to happiness.

So this is where I think I’m going to get just the tiniest bit controversial.  Because I think it’s OK for a parent to simply say “I want to end my marriage because I deserve to be happier than this”.  Not because they are abuse-victims, or affair-victims, or any other kind of victims.  Just because they know we only have one shot at life, and that this life is not the best, happiest life they could be living.

And their children might find the period of breaking up sad and difficult, but like the vast majority of children from divorced families, they will adapt.  And their new reality will be fine.  They can still be happy.  But now so can their parents.  Because let’s face it.  I certainly wouldn’t look back and wish things in my childhood had been different, if I thought it would bring my parents misery.

Life now, as a single Mum, is hard.  It’s bloody hard.  But compared to my life as a married  Mum, it’s bliss.  And my children are happy, not only because they are in a calm, stable, loving environment, but because I am (mostly) happy.  And the best thing is that the “brave face” mask is banished forever.  At last, when I am smiling (which is most of the time) it is a real smile.  And when I am miserable, I tell people I am miserable.  Because being honest with myself and everyone around me is what has, at last, brought me true happiness.


Read the full blog post here.

Find articles about relationships over on Netmums

Find support, information and advice about separation and divorce here

Do you think parents should stay together for the sake of the children? Do you ever put on a brave face and a smile to show the world all is fine when you are hurting inside?

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This entry was posted in bloggers, relationships, Separation and divorce, Single mothers, single parents, Woman - the woman behind the mum and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

29 Responses to Guest blog – Staying together for the sake of the children

  1. I have read the full post with heart in my mouth as usual when people speak up like this. Such an important read and I completely agree with your writer.

  2. Anisha says:

    I truly applaud you for not only are u a courageous person but it shows how much you love your child

  3. jo says:

    Well done. I have just come out of a relationship for the same reasons as you and although I have down days they are my down days and not caused by anyone else. My children are also much happier, although it is early days and they are adjusting.

    • Lowri says:

      I did the same thing. I also lost a few friends and the support of a lot of my family because for all they could see I was leaving a good marriage to a good man- they really didn’t understand that what they saw wasn’t the whole picture. I’ve been divorced since 2008, my children were 5 and 3 and adjusted very well and have equal time with both myself and their father. I have also since re-married (to an old school boyfriend) and have two younger children. You have to look at the bigger picture. In my case also, leaving was the best thing all round, but its not easy to do, and is a sad decision even when you are the one making the decision.

  4. R says:

    No its not ok to stay together just because of the children as a child of parents who did just that although i am now married with children of my own i have been left with security issues and very few happy childhood memories i remember lots of arguments and when my parents eventually divorced when i was a teenager my parents were better apart than together and became friends.
    i luckily have married an amazing man who is my best friend and a wonderful father.

  5. mcpherson31 says:

    If u aint happy leave now trust me iv been there

  6. Happier For It says:

    this could be my story.

    my kids are happier now and i wish i had the guts to leave earlier. i stayed so long for their sake and my now 9 year old asks why i used to cry all the time.

    Kids need happy parents.

  7. Louise Parerk says:

    I agree 100%!!!! This almost sounded like me. I stayed with my ex as I didn’t like the thought of my children not having a father. Then when I sat back and looked realised the “father” they had was no role model and they and me would be better off without him! 18 months later, despite the lack of money (he doesn’t pay anything). Myself and my 3 children could not be happier! The children adapted very well and it doesnt bother them they don’t see their dad. In fact they have all come along leaps and bounds since he left and Mummy is so much happier not having to live a lie! It is hard at times but certainly no harder than the life before and we have far more fun moments making happy memories and that is what childhood should be about, being happy!

  8. We all deserve to be loved and cherished. Children will one day leave home to start their own lives. I believe all parents need an eye and a thought to that day when making choices about their one and only life.
    Having said that I have been married for 20 years through thick and thin but that was my choice, for me and my husband and its been totally worth it.

  9. laura says:

    This made me cry, I am in this position and you are right, so so right. I am in a marriage where my Husband is trying hard to fix our marriage but he has hurt me so deeply that I feel we will never ever be the same again and I am deeply unhappy. Thank you for this article

    • You might be happy again, it’s possible to renew a marriage to better than ever as long and there are some solid foundations and the will to.

      • LadyLah says:

        True. We were in a total mess, very unhappy… But we still wanted things to work and went to therapy and we’re back on track and planning to grow old together. Both of you have to want it though and you have to have really good foundations. Wouldn’t be like that for everyone. But worth a try: if you were happy before you can get there again!

      • exactly 🙂 lovely to hear.

      • laura says:

        There were once solid foundations until they were broken down by addiction and anger which created sadness, mistrust and low self esteem.

  10. talha korti says:

    relationship with babies is greatest equipment of life

  11. Karen says:

    I just want to say thank you, so much of this rings true to me, I don’t think I realised how unhappy I am. I need to do what I’ve been dreading doing for a long time.

  12. Tori Hickson says:

    I found your story incredibly touching and I admire you for your honesty and bravery. I have been in that kind of relationship before, many years ago when I was really too young to know that it should be better, and to this day I still panic when I spill something in case I get yelled at. I wish you all the best on your new journey and hope that you do find someone to cherish you one day.

  13. Steve W says:

    Interesting. It seems as if your ex-husband was perhaps more aggresive than you. In your example, why did you not turn round and say “Find your own f**king shoes – I’m not your slave”, because that would be what my wife would definitely say to me, if I had ever tried to make out it was her fault because I had mislaid something. Did you not have any inkling that your husband was like this before you married him? Did he become this brute after you married him? One thing I do know – in this world you need to be able to stand up for yourself.

  14. smiley says:

    I been unhappy for five years, divorced year ago. It is not easy to be a single mum, but I am so proud of all my little victories, and happier than before. My son doesn’t hate his dad anymore, now they are ok.

  15. Lola says:

    The court hearing for the decree nisi for my divorce is today and although I never wanted to be a single parent I am realising that I can do it. I am much happier since asking my husband to leave and my son is no longer fearful. I thought long and hard about divorcing because I believed that marriage was forever but seeing the positive changes within my children and to some degree within myself has assured me we’ll be ok. I allow my husband as much access to the children as he wants but he chooses not to take advantage of this which is sad for the children but ultimately his choice to make. I’m hopeful for the future and that is something I’d lost.

  16. Viki says:

    This is a really emotive blog and obviously written from the heart. I think when people say they are staying together for the sake of the children they forget that you can still have a “parenting relationship” together but not have to be together in any other sense of the word and quite often when the dust has died down the parenting relationship is a lot better when you live apart and can actually focus on the needs of your children and not on the constant battles. I left my daughters father early on in her life but we are now at a place where we can spend Christmas Day or other family events together and talk on the phone about things going on in her life in a much more adult way then we could ever have done if we stayed together. I am not saying it has been an easy path to get there but it has been worth it.

  17. Zoe says:

    Even though I wasn’t married I ended up leaving with our 5 year old Daughter! My ex partner abused me physically & mentally in the beginning. Although the physical did ease off the mental abuse was worse. Our Daughter often saw me upset and stroked my face saying “please dont cry Mummy”! I left 9 mths ago now, it was very tough & my ex was very bitter. I stayed as long as I did for the sake of our Daughter but in my case feel she would have been worse off. We are both considerably happier now & she still has contact with her Father.

    • myandarefab says:

      you did the right thing, otherwise your daughter would end up thinking it was normal for men to abuse women and she might end up putting up with an abusive partners. so i believe its the best decision you could have ever made. you made a stance for you and your daughter . . love and light

  18. Sharon says:

    Reading this was like reading my diary. I have to say that yes in a perfect world I would love for my children to be growing up in a home with their mum and their dad but they deserve to be happy more. I have no regrets about ending my marriage. I do still feel slightly guilty now and again about it for their sake but no way on this earth do I regret my decision. I am a MILLION times happier I am free to do what I want when I want and now even run my own business. My life long dream which I would never have been able to do if I was still married to my x husband. As a result I get soooo much more time with my children and we enjoy each other again. Rather than me being too tired emotional or withdrawn to give them that full 100% attention.
    They see their dad regularly which is more than some children and I still see my x husbands daughter on a regular basis. At 16 she’s like my little sister these days. I have also 3 years later met the most wonderful man who has accepted my children ( and my step daughter) as his own and isn’t trying to play dad. Just trying to be their friend whilst ensuring that they see that he is making me happy. So we may not have societies perfect family set up but to me our family set up is perfect because we are ALL happy and I think we are truly blessed. Our children didn’t ask to be born we chose to bring them into the world and sometimes the most difficult decisions to make and follow through end up being the best decisions of your life!!!

  19. Jen says:

    It definitely depends on your situation. Angry heated rows which are extremely upsetting for everyone is definitely not good to sustain just for the kids. Some people might be ‘out of love’ but with no adverse effect on the kids. I certainly think if you’ve tried everything and it’s just not working then the kids will be badly effected by parents who stay together just for them. Not the best relationship model.

    However, this may sound harsh, but people should be more careful when committing to each other and having kids. If you have to put on a fake smile on your wedding day why did you go on to have children together? He might have been emotionally abusive, but the writer put herself and her children in that position by choice (especially since it appears he didn’t suddenly change overnight) but I’m sure she is aware of that already.

    The amount of people with very young kids and divorced is very high – why is this?

  20. Mandy says:

    my daughters father left me when she was around 3 months (give or take a couple of weeks) then we got back together for a couple of weeks. I did it for our daughter but it turned out he was still with the lass he left me for. Sometimes you think your doing the right thing but sometimes it turns out to be the wrong thing. Ave now been single parent now for 4 years and I wouldn’t change that.

  21. Pingback: Easing The Pain | through accepting limits

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