I recently recommended my mother read a book called big little lies by Liane Moriarty because I thought that was one of the best books I have read all year, and dealt with a lot of important issues. One of the issues was that the daughter of a woman who had been abandoned by her husband when the daughter was a baby comes back into their lives, and now the daughter suddenly likes the father better.
My parents got divorced when I was a toddler, and my relationship with my father always frustrated my mother. She always told me when that I was older, I would "get it" and suddenly despise my father, yet now I'm older and I apparently still don't "get it."
This book has gotten her all riled up. Her latest email to me says that it's better if the father dies than if the parents get divorced, because then there's no bitterness. It's better not to have a father at all than divorced parents.
Right now, I'm older than my mother was when she got divorced. I've been married for over a decade. I've see many of my friends get divorced. I've struggled with my own marital problems. So I really do think that I do "get it." These are my feelings on divorce when you have children, based on my own childhood and everything I have seen:
1) sometimes divorce really is better. If you stay with a person that you hate just for the sake of the children, the children will notice this and they won't think it's better.
2) if you do get divorced, maintain an amicable relationship with your ex. Don't make the children pick sides.
And this is the hardest one of all…
3) if it all possible, don't leave your spouse for another person. If you're having an affair, presumably you're not happy in your marriage. Don't wait for the affair to be the impetus to leave, because it sucks to be left for another person. It's a lot easier not to feel bitter if you don't feel like you were discarded for a younger or better version of yourself.
My hero is fellow MiM blogger Gizabeth. She's written about her divorce here, and she's had an exemplary relationship with her ex-husband. A divorced person should use her as a role model.
Obviously, it's better to have a marriage that is all sunshine and lollipops. But sometimes (often) that can't be the case. Sometimes divorce really is what's best for both the children and the whole family.