Time To Give Up?

Dear Dr. Darcy:

My wife and I do not have a healthy relationship. We fight, we yell, we call each other names and often it’s in front of our 3-year-old daughter.  We’ve been to couple’s counseling and I’ve been to individual counseling and nothing seems to work.  Our parents are adamant that we stay together for our child.  But I begin to wonder if we are doing her a favor.  Would it ever be better to split for the sake of the child?

ANSWER

Your parents are ascribing to an outdated model of family.   For all their good intentions, they are encouraging your wife and you to grin and bear a situation that you may be better off walking away from.  Sometimes the best way to solve a problem is to stop participating in it.  Trying endlessly to fix something that is fundamentally broken can break one's spirit.  But before you split, make sure you’re fit.  Fit to co-parent, that is.

Let’s be clear:  You’ve had a child with this woman, so there’s really no way to ‘split’ from her.  There’s a way to cease cohabitating with her, but you’ve signed on for a life of co-parenting with her.  And let me make another point:  If you think it’s hard to communicate with her now, wait until you try communicating with her when you’re divorced from her.  I may sound like I’m contradicting myself here, but what I mean to underscore is the need for the two of you to revisit counseling, this time with a new agenda:  Acquiring new skills so that you can communicate in a healthy way and raise your child together.  If you divorce her and attempt to raise your child with your current skills, your daughter will pay the price for your divorce.

Divorce should never be a first option.  I hope you have done some soul searching to identify what your responsibility is in the demise of this marriage.  But make no mistakes:  We can't stay together for the sake of society, our parents or a child.  And your child is far better coming from a broken family than living in a broken family.

Writer’s Stats: Heterosexual, male.