Staying Married For the Kids?

staying in an unhealthy marriage

By Jackie Pilossoph, Founder, Divorced Girl Smiling, the place to find trusted, vetted divorce professionals, a podcast, website and mobile app.

Staying married for the kids? Alison Maloni decided not to do that and wrote about it. Here is her guest post, which offers her perspective on why it doesn’t make sense to stay in an unhappy married for the children. 


A Message to Parents Who Stay Married for the Children by Alison Maloni


I recently wrote an article about my divorce. I was panicking about the response that I would receive, as I know that some people were in shock and others disappointed in my recent life-changing event.


What really overwhelmed me was the feedback that I received. My inbox was flooded with messages from people across the country who have gone through divorce, those who are going through it and some who are contemplating it.


After that, I felt compelled to continue to write about this journey. I call it a journey, because divorce doesn’t end when you go to court. When you have children, it’s a continual process.


A topic that continues to come up when I talk about divorce is the children. Separating and/or a divorce is very hard on a family. But on the flip side, raising children in a negative environment is far worse.


I’ll begin with what someone recently said to me. The person told me that “I was being very selfish and that I clearly did not work hard enough at my marriage.” They called me a quitter and that I was not putting my children first. They continued to say that I should “suck it up” until the children are out of school and THEN I can get divorced.


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Well, here’s how I feel about that.

I know that people stay in unhappy marriages for many reasons. The fear of being alone, lack of money or a job to support themselves. If they are a parent, they stay in a miserable marriage for their children. For some reason they think that it is a good idea to stay unhappy and sometimes unloved so their children will have a “normal” life.


For those who haven’t kissed their husbands or wives in months or are happier when they are not in the house, you are NOT doing your children a favor. You are NOT living a normal life and neither are your children.
I’m here to say that your children know that you are unhappy. They see that you don’t put your hand on your husband or wife’s shoulder, they hear you talking to your friends and they see that you don’t laugh anymore. They may even hear you fight. They sense the tension and it DOES affect them.


Please explain to me why staying together is better for your children? I know people who have slept in separate beds until they felt their children were “old enough” to understand what divorce meant.


First, children are much smarter than we think and they can handle it. Secondly, how much time are people wasting in a bad marriage? Third, you are showing your children that this type marriage is normal.

Remember, they learn by watching us. We are their role models.


Our children should see love. They should see their parents laugh together. They should see a happy mother and father. That is what our children should experience.


If you ask any therapist they will tell you that the worst thing parents can do is stay in an unhappy marriage for their children. But, we see people do this time and time again.


Children of divorced parents live very normal and fulfilling lives. Research shows that 80% of children of divorced parents adapt very well. It’s up to you as a parent to make sure they get the help they need and have open communication with them.


For those going through a divorce or contemplating it just know that you will get through it and it will be okay. It will be extremely stressful and even when you think that “you got this” it will get harder.


But please know that the children will be okay. They will be stronger and better off than if they stay in a household with negativity and sadness.


Katz and Stefani Family Law Attorneys


My children now see a happy mother. A vibrant mother. A mother who is proud of who she is. A much more patient mother. And hopefully they see a strong mother.


Not everyone will agree with this. But, at the end of the day, I have come to realize that you can’t make everyone happy. And if anything, this journey has made me strong enough to not let those things bother me.


Instead of worrying what people think, I focus on my three beautiful daughters, my career and my future filled with love.


Alison Maloni is a media expert, owner of Alison May Public Relations and a speaker. But most importantly, she is a mother of three beautiful daughters. The former journalist helps companies get their stories told through media exposure. She is a lover of chocolate, wine and barre classes.



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    Jackie Pilossoph

    Editor-in-chief: Jackie Pilossoph

    Jackie Pilossoph is the Founder of Divorced Girl Smiling, the media company that connects people facing with divorce to trusted, vetted divorce professionals. Pilossoph is a former NBC affiliate television journalist and Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press features reporter. Her syndicated column, Love Essentially was published in the Chicago Tribune/Pioneer Press and Tribune owned publications for 7 1/2 years. Pilossoph holds a Masters degree in journalism from Boston University. Learn more at:

    6 Responses to “Staying Married For the Kids?”

    1. Brad Trnavsky | Off the Cuff!

      This is painful but honest and true. I experienced the exact same thing. I spent 6 extremely unhappy years before I came to this conclusion. I struggled with my faith, my commitment to my wife, a lack of desire to “quit”, and a desire for my kids to grow up “normal”. The truth is nothing was normal though, and no amount of desire to fix things is going to work when one person is trying to fix it and the other is trying to get out. It’s weird to say this, but when my wife finally moved out my biggest emotion was relief. I had been exhausted and stressed for so long I had forgotten what it was like to be me and do what I wanted. To pursue my own happiness and focus 1000% on my kids. I’ve since remarried and NOW my kids experience normal, but it took a lot of time, thought, and prayer to get me there.

    2. Robert

      Kids aren’t stupid, they can tell when a relationship is strained. So if your marriage is over, and you are just staying together for the kids, look forward to the myriad of emotional trauma that will inevitably happen to your children. Every situation is different, but don’t make your kids suffer also. I found a super useful website to help define common divorce terms. It’s been super helpful:

    3. Broken mom

      I broke down and cried when I Read this.I know deep in my heart I can’t forget about my own happiness but I have been so worried about my kids that I over look a lot of important facts.i am a stay at home mom of three daughters and expecting another soon I have been wanting a divorce and just feel frozen because I’m afraid to face life with four kids by myself but after reading this I’m thankful I ran across this post thank u I know what I have to do.

    4. Commited

      Staying in a marriage for the kids has been such a controversial subject for many years. Between counselors giving bad advice to the norms (or so called) norms of today.. While I agree that staying in a physically abusive marriage is dangerous for you and the children. However, I disagree with people who want to tell everyone that they just fell out of love or they don’t love their spouse any longer. This is unacceptable! Love is NOT and EMOTION! IT IS A COMMITMENT! PERIOD! So if you are not being physical abused, or cheated on you have no reason to divorce , this is not good for your children….

    5. Bruce

      Life isn’t guaranteed to be happy nor is it promised to be easy. How one responds to conflict and challenge is up to that person, and to be judged by others. When you lay down at night, it comes down to have you given your best that day and can you sleep with the choices you made? My stance is, if it were as difficult to get married as it is to get divorced, a lot less divorces would ultimately happen.


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