Divorce isn’t the worst thing that parents can do to kids. Fighting terribly and subjecting them to your vitriolic hatred toward each other is the worst. Staying married in such a state is actually worse for kids than if you actually got divorced.
I’ve seen many people divorce and, because they handled their emotions well, the children also did well. On the contrary, I’ve also witnessed couples do significant damage to their kids by staying in an unhealthy relationship and trying to “make it work.”
But, because it is also true that a two-parent households typically have some significant advantages over separate, single-parent homes, it’s worth asking: What if you could stay for the kids and lead your own life—possibly even having outside romantic relationships?
I know what you’re thinking: People do this already; it’s called an affair. I’m well aware that romantic affairs go on illicitly, but what I’m suggesting is that this can also happen in an above-board, respectful kind of way.
It’s called a Parenting Marriage and more and more couples are turning to this option as a way to “stay for the kids” without staying stuck in a bad relationship. As spouses, you basically change your job description from lover, best friend, and co-parent to co-parent first and foremost, friends maybe, and lovers no longer.
During the past six years, I’ve helped dozens of couples across the U.S. transition from their traditional marriage to this non-traditional variation on the theme. Many find it surprisingly workable. Of course, it’s complicated and each couple must have clear agreements in place, but it can be done if you follow a few simple guidelines.