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Better to Stay Together than to Divorce

(21 Posts)
PrettyHairClips Sat 13-Oct-12 16:53:26

In Dr Stoppard's "Complete Baby & Childcare" (2006 edition, page 242), it states: "Research suggests that children can be better off with two unhappy parents than with divorced parents".

Does anyone know what research this may be? I've tried contacting Stoppard's agents to find out but it's been weeks without a reply.

Does anyone know of such research?

RobynRidingHood Sat 13-Oct-12 16:56:59

I dont know if it is the source Stoppard quoted but this threw up on a google.

* About 55% to 60% of divorces occur in low-conflict marriages,
marriages that the authors of the 20-year study call "good enough
marriages" that might be salvaged. Divorces in these low-conflict
marriages are very damaging to children, says sociologist Paul Amato
of Penn State University, because the surprised children have not
been aware of the discord.

During his 20-year project studying a total of 2,000 adults and
700 of their children, Amato has changed his mind about the effects
of divorce on kids. "Divorce does harm large numbers of children," he
now says. "We should lower the divorce rate not by restricting access
to divorce, but by strengthening marriages."

PrettyHairClips Sat 13-Oct-12 17:17:49

Wow! Thank you RRH! Very interesting. What are your thoughts?

RobynRidingHood Sat 13-Oct-12 17:26:25

My thoughts? A lot of people muddle along. I think a lot of people today give up on relationships as soon as the water gets turbulent. Life isn't plain sailing. Relationships take a lot of working at. A lot of people can't be bothered, it's too much effort and some infringement of their human rights to have to compromise.

A large proportion of MN seem to be quite self obsessed in persuit of their own life agenda; they have very little tollerance for other people they are in relationships with (be that partner, siblings or parents). There is no give and take that makes relationships work. It's all very me-me-me.

All I'd say is: yup the grass may be green on the other side, but cows still shit on it. (thank you to who ever I stole that from!)

I don't apply the above to people who are in genuinely abusive relationships, but being a bit bored or fed up is not an excuse to throw a relationship away especially if it fundamentally sound and has children in it.

PrettyHairClips Sat 13-Oct-12 17:30:48

RRH, isn't it important to feel personally fulfilled though? Isn't that an important message to send to ones children? Surely marriage/relationships is a central part of personal fulfilment?

RobynRidingHood Sat 13-Oct-12 17:38:20

Are you interviwing me??? grin

I agree with your last post - but if you let your relationship slide to the point you are both miserable, neither you, your partner or any children will feel any sense of well being.

I've been married nearly 20 years, and yes we've had our rough patches. There have been times that if were just co-habiting, one or the other of us might have walked away. But we were mature enough to work things through. Without being smug and arrogant, I'd say we have a strong marriage and the key is communication. Someone once asked me on MN what I'd do 'when' he left me - which was indicative of that posters relationships. Her's didnt work out (presumably) because she never expected them to. That's perhaps a little bit judgy on my part.

MirandaGoshawk Sat 13-Oct-12 17:49:45

I agree with you, Robyn. People expect perfection & have a rosy Hollywood expectation of life these days. It's worth it to put a bit of effort in and ride through the rough patches, if you have dch and your OH is basically a good person. Boring can be made a bit more interesting! Divorce when you have dch should be a last resort.

Maybe we should should all think more carefully before saying 'I Do' or having dch with someone. But easy to say these things with hidsight.

CremeEggThief Sat 13-Oct-12 17:52:23

I stayed for 4 years after the marriage became unhappy. Mainly because I honestly believed it was better for DS to have two parents together than it was for me to be happy. I wasn't desperately unhappy most of that time, in fairness, but I was far from content. I ignored those little voices telling me I deserved better on several occasions.

What happened? Fucking twat STBXH went behind my back and lined up a replacement, who he left me and DS for 4 months ago sad.

I have to live with the fact I could have left 4 years ago and possibly found happiness and a longed-for second DC by now. Instead, I can't ever imagine trusting another man enough to consider having a DC with him, and poor DS feels rejected by his father.

So I would advise anyone in a similar position to either do their utmost to fix things, or find a way to end it. Muddling along does not work.

xkcdfangirl Sat 13-Oct-12 18:03:04

I think if you get to the point of both people thinking "I can't stand you any more and I want a divorce" and have no positive side to your relationship any more then it can be more damaging for children to stay together in acrimony.

However, I think a lot of people give up on relationships far too easily and get to that point without really having tried.

I also think a lot of people get married without really thinking properly about whether it's a really good think to be tied to this person for the rest of their life. I admit I've posted a few "leave the bastard" posts, but it's usually in cases where I would have posted "don't marry him - run away run away" if I'd had a chance before the wedding.

However, given two basically nice people who get on well and enjoy each other's company but just don't happen to fancy each other much any more, it's much better to stay together and build a positive family environment to the best of both people's ability.

bitsnbobs Sat 13-Oct-12 18:04:22

Life's too short to be unhappy in a relationship. If its just a blip but when it's constant bickering, crap sex, and more a duty you are better off out. Since my ex left over a year ago my children are doing so much better at school and i wish i had done it sooner .

garlicbutty Sat 13-Oct-12 18:05:32

Muddling along does not work.

If I had to make a pronouncement on marriage (thank god I don't) this would be it! YY ti what everyone else says about taking the long view, compromise and so on, but these are the very arguments used to keep people in dreadful, painful marriages.

I don't for one second believe there's a throwaway divorce culture. People do understand what they're getting into. Nobody leaves a marriage lightly. (Exceptions for sociopaths, obv.)

I'd advise caution if basing a major life decision on research conducted among a foreign population; reported using the words "suggests" and "can". Stoppard's interpretation is not what the researcher said, in any case. He said people should be helped to make their marriages happier.

Sounds like you could do with a counsellor, PHC, to talk things over with in private.

redtulip68 Sat 13-Oct-12 18:11:57

I agree that some people walk out on marriages without a thought to their children or even considering how they can get their marriages back on track. In my case there had been some rough patches but nothing that hadnt been sorted out until my STBXH checked out of our marriage and into a hotel with OW.

I was more than prepared to work through this but was never given the opportunity because he used the well rehearsed excuse of 'You'll never forgive me' which basically meant that he had decided to leave but wanted me to take the blame for the fact he had no intention of returning.

I truely believe that children need two parents, and those two parents need to to parent together. However, if that isnt happening then having one parent who loves, cares and provides for them is better than the alternative.

PrettyHairClips Sat 13-Oct-12 19:19:44

So do you reckon people just breed and marry without much thought for the future?

(Open question to anyone who would like to share their opinion)

adrastea Sat 13-Oct-12 20:36:07

In Dr Stoppard's "Complete Baby & Childcare" (2006 edition, page 242), it states: "Research suggests that children can be better off with two unhappy parents than with divorced parents".
She's an idiot for trying to simplify such a complex issue like that.

What the research says is that conflict, not divorce, is the biggest issue for children whether parents stay together or not. And also that what causes negative differences between children from divorced parents and married parents are identifiable and discrete factors. Children without those aggravating factors do as well or better than children from families where parents haven't divorced. How parents handle divorce, and how they handle their lives afterwards, tends to be what damages children. And of some people just have parents and families that would screw them up whether they were married or divorced!

Here's a summary of the research:

And here is where Amato says what is quoted above:

He says "^"When parents are miserable in a marriage, maybe they should get a divorce. But a lot of parents believe that if they are going to be happier after a divorce, more fulfilled, that their children must be, too. And this is just not true."^ I would agree with that in that it takes a lot more than a child's parent being happier and fulfilled to help them through a divorce and to be come out well.

Interestingly, in the same article it says that research shows some children perceiving 'low conflict' marriages as high conflict.

adrastea Sat 13-Oct-12 20:38:34

So do you reckon people just breed and marry without much thought for the future?
No, I don't think so. Some people might, obviously, but getting divorced does not mean people didn't think about the future. You can think very seriously and plan carefully for the future and things can still happen differently to what you hoped, planned for and wanted to do.

redtulip68 Sat 13-Oct-12 20:59:18

So do you reckon people just breed and marry without much thought for the future?
Not at all. Obviously there are people that fall in love with the idea of getting married and mnarry for the wrong reasons. However on the whole people marry because they love one another they dont think that this is ever likely to change but events occur that were never contemplated.

We married believing that it was for the rest of our lives, we had children, again believing that we would be together as parents until one of us died. I never, in my darkest nightmares, believed that what occurred this year would ever happen. I wouldnt put anyone through what I have experienced this year.

RobynRidingHood Sat 13-Oct-12 21:06:54

I think some people don't see past the wedding. Very in love with the idea of being in love and big wowzer of a day - and give little thought to the next 60 years.

Yes people continue to grow throught their lives; get different hobbies, change jobs, friendships may come and go - but if you are in a fundamentally good/decent relationship, you both should have the sense to be able to adapt within your relationship to outside changes.

Research indicates financial pressure is the biggest cause of relationship breakdown.

joanofarchitrave Sat 13-Oct-12 21:42:26

When women get the option to divorce, they do (not all of us, obviously, I mean just that the divorce rate in society goes up). If women knew that their families wouldn't take them in/friends wouldn't see them if they divorced, if there was no financial support for women on their own/with children, or if they would automatically lose their children if they left, they would stay married in far larger numbers.

Divorce does seem too prevalent, but I can't bear the thought of any of those things happening again. I wish my mother had divorced my father before he left her for another woman tbh, but it's easy to say that when it didn't happen until I left home.

cheekydevil Sat 13-Oct-12 21:54:03

I have seen people leave their marriage for someone else when their marriage has been 'stale' and say to me later on that if they knew what the affect was going to be on theirs dc's they would never have done it.
It makes me so sad.

gettingeasier Sun 14-Oct-12 08:49:37

Its almost 3 years since xh and I separated. He left because he didnt love me anymore and hadnt for some time. An ow popped up quite quickly but wasnt really anything more than a life raft to help him through it all.

I did my upmost to keep my emotions away from my DC who were 10 and 13 at the time , to preserve xhs image and dignity as a good father to them. It was the hardest phase of my life bar none. I did this in the belief that it would help them get over everything and maintain a good relationship with him.

I think he was doing similar at his end and he stuck to our contact arrangements and has paid maintenance properly.

In short we both did our utmost to be amicable and put the DC first

Has it worked ? Who knows. Who knows if they would have been happier had we remained married . I do know I would be in abject misery if I was still there the way things were between us and I am now a happy contented Mum living my life as I want.

XH lives with his ow and her clan a five minute drive away in a nice house where they have their own rooms . I think DS is happy , partly because he has an easy going nature , also because he and his Dad like football and have lots in common. DD has had a rockier road getting used to things and has been affected , mostly though with her the issue is the toing and froing and she finds staying with xh clips her wings socially and she has no interest in becoming part of his new family.

I hope she can work through this and of course at 13yo theres a lot of teen stuff in there too ie nothing is good enough and everything apart from exactly what she wants is poor her . I suppose in a couple of years or so I will have a clearer picture of how she is affected long term

I dont think anyone divorces lightly , I know xh was in a mess for some time in the lead up to leaving . Even though I was unhappy I wouldnt have left partly the DC mostly fear of the unknown. I am glad he left because whilst people shouldnt expect perfection in their lives when things are dead and buried it cant really be right to continue on forever for DC

CogitoErgoSometimes Sun 14-Oct-12 08:59:12

Having spent my entire life being the child of two people in a 'low-conflict' unhappy marriage I think there is something nasty about staying together 'for the children' if you're not prepared to work on making home a better atmosphere at the same time. When you - the child - are constantly kept on edge waiting for the next minor spat or nasty remark, it has a very damaging effect. You become a peace-maker, a people-pleaser. You believe (wrongly) that you have to make your own partner happy and keep the peace in turn.

Both my DB and I have had very turbulent personal lives and our parents are staggering on towards their 60th wedding anniversary, still in the same 'low conflict' and miserable state. Whether we'd have been any happier or unhappier if they'd separated is something we'll never know.... and neither would anyone doing a study for that matter.

I think, ultimately, you have one life to live and you have to live it best you can. Stay or leave but, whichever you choose, do it with a happy heart rather than some sense of martyrdom.

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