Why I'm happy my parents divorced

August 31 |
By: banjo dCC BY 2.0

At twenty-five, I'm entering into quite a few new phases of my life. For example, everything that I grew up being into is slowly creeping back into the mainstream, and bands that should have broken up long ago are getting together with OTHER bands that should have broken up long ago (um, New Kids on the Block and Boys II Men might be touring with the Backstreet Boys, you guys) for nostalgia tours. Another example? Friends of mine are not only beginning to get married — a few of them are already getting divorced.

Divorce has quite the social stigma in our society, and mostly for reasons that I don't quite understand. To me, if a house is devoid of joy and love, that trumps any kind of moral or religious reason why divorce is bad. If a marriage is truly broken, or, in some cases, never should have been entered into in the first place, I think it's better for all involved parties (spouses and children) that it end.

I will concede that some divorces are hastily decided upon in a fit of emotional rage or agony, and could have been prevented if the couple had been committed to working through their problems, but that in and of itself is part of my point — if a couple doesn't feel like its worth it to continue on in the marriage, then they should disband, and I especially believe this if children are involved. I don't know about you, but I want Jasper raised in a house that is filled to the brim with love. Sure, we'll have our fights and arguments, but I want him to feel like, if nowhere else, he is safe and secure at home.

My parents split up when I, the oldest, was sixteen, and my brother, the youngest, was eleven. I will never, ever forget all of our reactions when my mom told us — every single one of us (there are four) just sighed, "Finally." There were no big tears, no emotional turmoil about who we would live with (my mom, of course) or why. We were happy to know that it, the marriage between our parents, had finally ended.

As far as I know, based on what I have been told, every single one of us were what is commonly known as a "save the marriage baby." My parents split up when I was young, and then had my sister two years later. They split up again, they got back together. Then they had two more babies.

I'm not saying that there wasn't happiness in our home, but it definitely was not over-flowing. There was an incredible amount of verbal abuse (to the point where I still don't handle yelling of any kind very well), and a few instances of physical violence that taint many of the good memories I have of growing up. Life was somewhat harder financially after my dad moved out, mostly because he didn't try to help us in any way for quite a few years (we were never in any kind of high income bracket anyway), but it was also a lot easier, emotionally speaking.

I don't know all of the details of my friend's divorces, mostly because I think that's their business to share if they want to. I definitely do not think reasons for a divorce have to be as extreme as abuse, and there's no shame in a divorce that takes place because a couple simply grows apart.

In all honesty, I can attribute my outlook on marriage and divorce to the fact that my parents finally got it together and did what we were hoping they would do. Sean is also a product of a divorce of good reason, and I think our experiences have helped our marriage be stronger than it might be if we had both never experienced divorce in the first place — we know what to watch for, and what to try to do and not do. We entered into our marriage knowing that there would be intense lows and periods of emotional anguish, but also knowing that we were both committed to working through those times and basking in the glow of the happy times together.

I love being married to Sean, but I do not for a single instance take my marriage for granted. Neither of us are under the impression that we're the only people in the entire world that we could be happy with, but we both also hope that we remain happy with one another for a very long time. It's safe the assume that if we're in love now we probably will be next month, and hopefully next year, and we both, at this point in our lives, want to be together. That is what matters, and that is what creates a happy home for us.

  1. Thank you for writing this. I am also the product of a happy divorce. I can vividly remember my mom & dad sitting me down and telling me (and my 3 sisters) that they were getting divorced because they wanted to raise us in a house of love. So many people tell me they feel bad that I have divorced parents. My parents getting divorced was one of the better things to happen to me. Now they are both remarried and I (and several of my friends) use their marriages as examples of what a great marriage looks like.

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    • Yes! That is exactly what happened with my parents. They had a trial separation then divorce when I was in middle school. But they loved us so much they stayed friends and continued parenting as a unit. Not once did they ever sit apart at any soccer match, dance recital, or kid event and they made sure to keep each other abreast of what was happening with us kids. Best of all the screaming fights behind the bathroom door stopped. The constant tension ended.

      I've grown to love their new spouses as additional parent figures and it made/makes me feel really reassured and safe to know that they are all happy and in supportive relationships. Plus my angst filled teen and college years were backed with the love and support of double the number of adults (lovingly keeping me on the strait and narrow).

      I've never understood people who think divorce is bad (especially for children). It may be hard and sad right in the middle of the process, but divorce can also be wonderful, wonderful thing (especially for children).

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    • "My parents getting divorced was one of the better things to happen to me."

      Exactly. I'm glad I wrote it also–these comments are amazing to read!

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    • So Happy to find something about this….I always felt strange but I remember being Happy when my parents told me….I've read articles ,mostly religious point of view….that say stay together for the kids if you get along….They can't tell your not happy BS I knew my parents were not happy….I picked up on there comments…even though they were not yelling. It was hell…and through their new relationships…I learned how Love can be….otherwise,I would have had a bad lesson. My parents both Loved me….thats what I remember most!

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  2. Thank you! My parents divorced when I was 21 and my sister 16. It was by far the best choice for our whole family. My sister and I both agree about this. My parents were so toxic to each other, that my relationship with each them blossomed once they got away from each other.

    If there was one thing I really wish for my mom, it's that she would stop beating herself up for choosing divorce. I can tell she still feels really guilty and judged by her peers. She gets told over and over that the divorce was a sin she needs to be forgiven for (she's very religious) and I think it was admirable and heroic for her to envision another life for all of us.

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  3. I'm so glad to see someone write an article like this. My parents were separated several times during their 29-year marriage. Every time they got back together, I was disappointed, and when they finally got an official divorce, it was a huge relief. They didn't stay friends after the divorce, which made sense to me and my siblings because they were never friends during the marriage. Our dad wasn't a part of our life after the divorce any more than he had been while he was married to our mom. In other words, the biggest change was that we could all finally stop pretending.

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    • "They didn't stay friends after the divorce, which made sense to me and my siblings because they were never friends during the marriage."

      Same here! People still ask us if they get along, and we're all like..no. They never did in the first place.

      And this: "In other words, the biggest change was that we could all finally stop pretending."

      YES YES YES. Exactly. Yes.

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  4. I'm 29 and divorced. My boyfriend is 32 and divorced. I think that in a weird way we're grateful to claim that because with our relationship, we both know what we want and don't want. We know how to communicate, and how important it is to do that. Our children (his 1, my 1, and our 1) are much better off living in a home that shows what a good relationship should work like, instead of hearing the arguing and the crying from their parents. Thank you for writing this article. If only the rest of my family felt this way, I wouldn't have been disowned by them all because I chose to find happiness for myself instead of living in a depressed state of mind 24/7 and having my 2 year old watch me cry.

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    • "If only the rest of my family felt this way, I wouldn't have been disowned by them all because I chose to find happiness for myself instead of living in a depressed state of mind 24/7 and having my 2 year old watch me cry."

      I'm really sorry that your family doesn't support you in your choice, but just know that there ARE plenty of people who do. Your two year old deserves to live in a house of love, and so do you. :)

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      • It took me 10 years of that relationship to finally get the courage and see that way out, but looking at my son now and seeing how much he has blossomed lets me know I did it right. :) Thank you.

        1 agrees
  5. My parents are divorced (and remarried) and so are my husband's. So we're fully aware of the reality and have those sort of conversations on a fairly regular basis. My parents are still friends as well (my dad actually married my mom and step-dad's friend/neighbor) and it makes it so much easier when it comes to our kids, both set of grandparents in the same house for a dinner or holiday? Totally heck yeah! My husband's family on the other hand, messy divorce and a lot of bitterness towards each other. It was stressful when we got married having them both there, then they ended up sitting at the same table anyways (no place settings) and were at least civil with each other which made it so much easier for us!! It's unfortunate sometimes, but way better for everybody involved!!

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  6. I am also a child of a "FINALLY!" divorce. When I hear people talk about how people in these situations might not have "tried hard enough" to stay together, or hear the insinuation that a couple should have stayed together for the kids, I get defensive for this reason. Kids of all ages can intuit problems in the family and no one is being a savior by keeping a household in a crisis state, or even just in a state of lesser happiness, by continuing a tumultuous or unhappy marriage.

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    • I get SO defensive. It makes me nuts when people play the "they must not have tried hard enough" card.

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      • I don't know, while I agree that people shouldn't stay together for the kids, every divorce that has occurred around me could have been prevented by one person trying a little harder. There was usually one person in the couple who was willing to give it another go and try various things, but often the other person had already "left" the relationship, and was now just working on leaving the marriage.

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  7. So great to read this. It's almost taboo to say you're glad your parents divorced. My sister and brother and I were so glad when our parents finally divorced after years of hating each other and verbally and physically abusing each other. I was so happy when they divorced. And you almost feel like you're not allowed to say that because society says divorce is awful and sad and horrible. Frankly my parents' divorce was the best thing that happened to me.

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  8. i am a product of divorce; my parents split quite emotionally and violently when i was four. i used to have nightmares and at 23 i am still sorting out feelings about the whole shebang and trying to figure out how to handle a relationship with the parent i did not end up living with. but, i think that divorce can be a good thing when needed,and drawing a bad relationship out can, in the end, do more damage than a split. "staying together for the kids" might actually end up hurting the kids more than if the parents had split when they had to make that decision in the first. divorce can be a terribly traumatic experience for a young child (i know) but with love, and as long as the parents put the needs of the child first and dont play the "blame game" the kids can overcome that initial sadness and grief.

  9. I WISH this were my experience. my parents are still married, 43 years in, because they are catholic. and they hate each other. I know my mother's life would be longer if she did not have to deal with my father everyday, and it breaks my heart.

    on the other hand, my FH's folks are divorced. while i can see from a distance it was probably the best thing for them, sometimes he still struggles with it. the bright side is that we've both seen what a marriage looks like when it doesn't work, and are determined to enter our commitment and family life with open eyes.

    • See, that sort of situation seems odd to me. My husband and I were both pretty upfront that we don't believe in divorce. But we also see no reason to continue living together if we were to come to hate it. We've stated in passing that an open marriage and our own apartments would make divorce sort of … unnecessary (of course right now we're just basking in the happy marriage). I guess the "open marriage" part isn't really an option to observant Catholics, but it seems like you could still separate.

  10. Thanks for writing this! I'm glad to see a perspective on divorce that isn't entirely negative. My husband and I both come from very religious families and our parents are both still married, my parents happily, not so sure about his. Divorce was frowned on so much in our cirlce that I can't remember having any friends growing up from divorced families. I've recently come out of this oppressive religious environment and love hearing new perspectives on things that were considered so taboo. Thanks for sharing.

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  11. I used to say that parents should never stay together for the sake of their child(ren) but my parents proved to be the exception. They divorced when I was just graduating college and the youngest, high school. They managed to put on a happy face and none of us ever had a clue until looking back in hindsight. Everyone in town thought they had the best marriage and we almost never heard them fight.

    My middle sister wonders if it would have been better if they had split earlier but for me, the way they did it worked amazingly. It definitely came at a cost to them but they raised what are now three amazing women who get to watch them reclaim their "lost" 30's and 40's and get all twitterpated over their new partners.
    All that said, the vast majority of couples absolutely should not stay together for the kids.

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    • My parents were like yours. We never knew anything was "wrong," because they weren't showing that anything was wrong to the children. They were grown-ups and kept us (my brother and I) out of any problems in their relationship. I respect them immensely for doing this, and yes, I can say that my brother's and my life were MUCH better because of their restraint and mature handling of the situation for our sakes.

  12. I'm a product of a nasty divorce when I was 8. I didn't understand it -then-, but I understand it now. I can't say I'm happy about all the nasty things my mother did to my father, he may have been better off financially if they stayed together. But I think if they did stay together she would have made him miserable, so in that I am very happy it happened. I think my dad was better off and much happier without.

    My sister, who is 14 years younger than me, also went through a divorce at 8 with my mothers second husband. Her custody battle/divorce was even nastier than mine, and I can't tell whether it was a good thing or not, but again I imagine my mother making her fathers life miserable too, so I guess in the end it was better off. My sister and are very close because of it, and she knows she has me to rely on.

    I am definitely a supporter of divorce rather than staying for the child's sake for all the reasons you mentioned. A house devoid of love is a harsh environment, probably worse than two homes filled with loving divorced parents.

  13. Great post :) I wouldn't say my folks divorce was a "finally!" moment for my brother and I (we knew it was coming, but it was still really hard), but I can tell you I sure am thankful now. If two people aren't right/fitting together/loving one another, why on earth stay married? I think that sets a worse example than getting divorced does.

  14. Great post! I actually congratulated my dad on my parents' 15th divorssary last year. I don't know how they made it through their 11 years, and they are both much better off now. When it comes to kids, the trick is separating your relationship with your children from your relationship with their other parent, whether or not you are together.

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  15. It's funny I came across this…I'm the product of a family where the parents really, really, REALLY shouldn't have stayed together but chose to. My parents were and still are two of the unhappiest people I know, and the unhappiest couple I know. There was always verbal abuse (and in extreme escalations, some physical) and in most of the cases that abuse wasn't directed at me or my brother, but it was between our parents. For some reason they figured that wouldn't affect us or if we spoke up we were told to know our place and "shut up." Good times, man -_-
    Once, I asked my mother why she and my father stayed together and she told me it was because of my brother and me. She didn't want to split the family. From that point on, I've had a very strong opinion on that whole "reasoning" and I'll be damned if I'm putting my kids through that, if my life goes down that path.

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  16. I heartily agree with everyone above! I always got so enraged every time one of those "children of divorce grow up to be failures" studies came out, since I'm a very happy and well-adjusted child of divorce. I think a loveless marriage with unhappy parents is just about the worst example you can set for your kids.

    My parents divorced when I was only one-and-a-half, and with joint custody I switched houses every week. Both remarried when I was about 7, and despite some bumps, are still together with their new mates happily. Perhaps because I was too young to know any different, I was completely fine with the house-switching arrangement, and in fact felt it made me much more flexible and open-minded as an adult – it was always very clear in my life that there's more than one way to do things.

    A bunch of divorce-related fears sprung up right before I got married, but talking about them and admitting we couldn't know who exactly how we would feel 10 years into the future helped a lot, and set a tone for us to be totally open and communicate with each other as we grow and change. And I was able to learn from the classic mistakes my parents made in their first marriage, and confirm that I was getting married to the right person for the right reasons.

    I'm now ridiculously happily married to my husband, we've been together 13 years.

    Thanks, Stephanie for this great perspective.

    1 agrees
  17. Whoa, Stephanie. Are we the same person?! If I were to write on this subject, I would write the exact same things, almost word for word. My siblings and I all repeatedly told our mom when we were younger "you should get divorced". They eventually did when I, the oldest, was 15.

    I'm not an Offbeat Mama (yet!(I LOVE lurking this site in preparation and for the amazing articles like this)), but I am getting married in 24 days. I know, without a doubt, that my parents' marriage and divorce have shaped how I view marriage. I know that my mister and I will work on our relationship when it isn't in the best place and neither one of us is going to bolt at the first tough time. But, being a child of divorce also makes me concerned about the what ifs from time to time. I'm so, so glad that I read this today. Thank you.

  18. Thanks for writing this. I'm the product of two people who had no business staying together and thus grew up in a home that was passive-aggressive and full of resentment and a lot of anger and bitterness. I'm married now with a kid and my husband and I both work at our marriage. His parents had a good divorce and are actually best friends. I remember sitting with my sisters and mapping out a post-divorce plan (who would live with mom, dad, grandma, etc) and we waited and waited for the divorce to come but they're very conservative and religious and think the ultimate moral is divorce. Articles like this make me glad to know that people divorce and the world doesn't end, I wish my parents had thought about their children enough to do it.

  19. I am also a child of divorce. My parents split up when I was 4. They stayed friends, but they do not work as a couple. Someone asked me once if I wanted them to get back together. I just laughed and told them that my parent are very good friends and that's the way it should be.

  20. This is a very interesting article, as I had a much different experience. Although I can now agree that my parents weren't right for each other, when they 1st told me (when I was 18) I was completely broadsided and devasated. My parents never argued in front of me so I had no clue anything was wrong (btw, I am an only child). When things finally started to come out, it was revealed that I had been lied to A LOT! about the type of marriage they had, which made it all pretty traumatizing (still in therapy 8 years later).

    Oddly enough my husband went through a very similar situation & so we both have had pretty strong feelings about divorce (the negative kind) so that is why I found this post so interesting. It gave me a whole new perspective on divorce. Thanks for that.

    1 agrees
  21. I am one of the ones that is super happy her parents divorced lol! However, I am still extremely against divorce. I think there are very few cases where it is the best option, as I think most couples COULD work it out if they were both on board with doing so.

    Still, it is so nice to know I wasn't the only one not traumatized by divorce! I hate how so many people assume that I have problems because of it, when I don't. I still had a very stable influences in my life, and my mom had a rules never, ever to bring boyfriends home overnight. As a result, there wasn't some parade of "new moms" and "new dads" that lasted a few months to a couple of years, and then left, never to be heard from again.

    So yeah, still 98% against divorce, but I don't think it is the end of the world either.

  22. My parents definitely should have gotten divorced when I was younger. I honestly prayed that they would nearly every night in jr. high. My father was very abusive, physically and verbally. They didn't end up getting divorced until my father went to prison for sexually abusing my older sisters. If they had gotten divorced it would have saved a lot of heartache, stress, and therapy.

  23. My parents sat all five of us kids down when I was 15 to tell us they were planning to divorce. Like you, every single one of us just said, "Finally." There were tears, no emotional turmoil or really any questions. We were also happy to know that it wouldnt have to be like it was anymore.

    When I ask my mum now why they stayed married for so long she says it was for us kids. It pains me that she lost so much of her life trying to do something for us, when we didnt even want it.

    Life was harder financially but so much better emotionally once my father moved out. (He wasnt much of a dad anyway).

    The other thing that saddens me is that my mother knew marrying my dad was a mistake after only 2 years together. They could have cut their losses and who knows the opportunites they may have had. Tho, that being said then me and my younger brothers and sisteres wouldnt have been born!

    All in all, I am happy they divorced, it was best for everyone involved. They both tried very hard for a long time to make it work, but when its not right, its not right.

  24. My parents are currently going through a divorce, and though I'm sad because I know that my dad, at least, still truly loves my mom, I'm also not too upset that they've split up and are going through with this. My parents have been fighting and arguing almost nonstop for years, and it's really just better that they're finally letting go. I only hope my dad is able to remember how to be happy again, because in the end, I know this is better for them both.

  25. Phew, I thought I was one of the only people that was a child in a trauma-free divorce.

    When my parents divorced, I, the youngest, was in high school and my dad was overseas at the time (as a diplomat, he tended to travel). My parents had never been affectionate or particularly passionate, so when the divorce was announced, us kids reacted with a resounding "Meh". Nothing changed anyway (my dad was overseas until I left home, so there was no custody/two houses issue ever, and no battle over money).

    I'm grateful my parents were mature about their divorce. If they were upset about it at all, they didn't let on. And now, they're both far happier living their own lives.

    I'm not anti-divorce at all, because I've seen how smoothly it can happen if everyone just stays calm.

    Life is made up of phases – the divorce of my parents was the end of that phase, and the beginning of a new one. Nowadays it's odd to remember them being married at all.

  26. I thought I'd end up being a child of 'finally' divorced parents. In the late 1990's I thought my parents relationship was doomed for failure. I even hoped for 'soon it'll be over' sort of thing. But thankfully my parents worked it out and have one of the happiest marriges I'll ever hope to know.

    I guess I sort of know both sides, the 'so bad I hope it gets over soon' and the 'I'm so sick of my parents kissing' side.

  27. I'm the only child of a "finally!" divorce, and I only wish mine had as happy an ending as some of the comments here.

    Despite knowing the troubles my parents were having (my father was a marijuana smoker who would frequently blow the smoke in my face, and who loved to beat and more or less rape my mom whenever he "wanted some"), it was still pretty traumatic to me; there was a rough custody battle in which I had absolutely no input and was forced into visitations with the father I'd have happily stabbed for what he put our family, and especially my mother, through. To this day, I can't seem to get past the hurdle of not wanting to run him over with my car if I ever see him again. I suppose that means I'm not exactly well-adjusted… >.>

    After about a year, things with my mom began to add to the trauma I was still picking through from the divorce as she spiraled down into alcoholism and verbal/emotional abuse. Over the course of the next 11 years or so my self-esteem, trust, and what was left of my ability to go out and socialize with others was systematically destroyed. I was screamed at that I was worthless nearly every day and over time I came to believe it, and am still struggling with what that has done to me. This was a major contributor to my having an extremely hard time opening up to and trusting people.

    Despite that, I'm still grateful my parents divorced. When I look back on my life pre-parental divorce, all I can think about is what could've happened if my mom hadn't found her courage. Either one or both of us could be dead. Being alive to have issues to work through is preferable to the alternative, even if it does leave me wondering what kind of parent I'm going to (eventually, someday, maybe) be after all of this mess.

    And that was a hell of a ramble. Apparently I need to go to sleep. Or start a blog of my own or something. Sorry. @_@

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