Should I Stay Married for the Kids? Maybe

written by Fred Campos

[W]e’ve all heard it, maybe seen it up close or can speak of first-hand experience. “I’m unhappy in my marriage, but I’m staying in it for my kids.”

But should you? Is it an idea that stems from good intentions but is it really in the best interest of the kids?

Now we can find all kinds of confusing statistics and graphs that tell us that is or isn’t the proper course of action, but what about those who are living it? Shouldn’t we listen to them? Maybe, maybe not.

Consider Kevin A. Hansen, author of, Secret Regrets book series; founder of, we have several quotes from parents and children who are dealing with that issue. Their answers are surprising, enlightening, and sadly not defining.

Should I Stay Married for the Kids?

“I am staying because it’s the best thing for the kids and it’s the easiest thing for me. I will do my best to make you think everything is fine.” – Parent

“Kids are not dumb. They know when their parents are unhappy. Sometimes it’s better to have two awesome parents who are not together than have two parents who are sad, miserable, depressed and angry and only sticking together for the sake of their children.” – Child

“Leaving is hard, but I am so much happier. And my kids can see that. Sometimes you have to put yourself first. I felt selfish for thinking that way, but I don’t anymore.” – Parent

“My parents used to be in this situation, where the only reason they stayed together was because of the kids. As one of the kids, I’m going to say, LEAVE! Seriously, it’s so much better with both my parents happy and away from each other. My life is better now, and so are my mom and dad’s.” – Child

“I am married to a man I’m no longer madly in love with, and I won’t leave because of our children. However, we are content together. We don’t fight much, and the only thing we’ve lost is the passion of our early marriage. I absolutely will not compromise my children’s happy family on the chance that I might meet someone who I am more physically compatible with.” – Parent

“Sticking together for the kids does not work … been there done that. We know that’s why you’re together and it affects our happiness too.” – Child

Is it Worth It to Stay Married for the Kids?

“Our marriage was bad, but I was going to stay for our daughter. I was miserable, but I wouldn’t leave just so I could possibly be happy. He was unhappy, I was unhappy, but neither of us left. Now, several years later, we own a home together, have another child, and we ARE happy. Together.” – Parent

When I asked my wife, SuperParentMom, whose parents divorced long after her and her brother were in college, she had this to say…

“I knew my parents weren’t happy, but thank God they stayed married for us kids. I could not have handled a divorce as a child and my mother would have been poverty-stricken. Although I was unhappy with it when they did divorce, as an adult, I dealt with it better.” – Karen

It is a tough issue. In my opinion working with parents going through divorce, I offer this advice…

[tweet “Divorce Trivia: If given $1M could u find a way to stay married until the kids were grown?”]

For most that I have asked, the answer is “Yes.” You may not be in love, but can you hang in there for a season? Unselfishly can you tolerate this relationship for the kids? If so, then stay married and suffer through it until the kids are grown. If not, or if the relationship is abusive then leave.

What are your thoughts? Should you stay married for the kids? What are justifiable criteria for not staying married?

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  1. Robert NoLastName

    i hear ya Fred, but there is no possible way in this universe i could stay married. not for a million dollars, not for anything. i think my situation is such that it is absolutely better for the kids for us to be separated. maybe all divorces aren’t like mine, but getting out of that toxic relationship is one of the best decisions of my life.

    • FullCustodyDad


      Trust me I understand. My relationship with my Ex is the same way. I could not make that relationship work for all the tea in China. Nevertheless, my point is for those who can. I run across just as many mediocre relationship that are ready to end because the passion is gone or “marriage is not as much fun as it use to be.” In those relationships, I really press for them to consider the kids. They lack concrete reasons for divorce other than a convenience. For them, I want them to consider sticking it out.

      However, I realize that is not practical for everybody. It wasn’t for me–either.

      Thanks for commenting!


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