What do you do when you feel that the love you once shared with your mate has disappeared, with no apparent possibility of revival, but you adore your children and can’t imagine spending even one day apart from them?
Until now, the options have been:
Maintaining a romantic bond for years on end is challenging, but adding kids to the mix and keeping a romantic connection for the entire length of the relationship is extremely so, if not impossible—even with all the great advice books out there on the topic.
We all know the cliché of the spouses who grow apart after having kids—he wants sex, she’s too exhausted; he feels rejected, she’s resentful, and then the man has what we call a “mid-life crisis,” including an illicit affair with a 20-something. Finally, he leaves his wife—the mother of his children—to go relive his good old carefree days, while she stays in the family home caring for the kids.
Although he has momentary guilt, he’s mostly having fun. But the ex-wife feels downright kicked to the curb. I hear women say things like, “How dare he leave me! I gave him the best years of my life!” Some version of this happened to my parents, and as a therapist, I see this scene play out over and over.
Admittedly, there is no good choice when your marriage as you knew it is over. There are just less bad options.
The alternative I’m about to propose doesn’t offer a cure-all for a troubled relationship, but it does provide a better lifestyle option for what my co-author, journalist Vicki Larson, and I believe matters most—the children.
It’s called a Parenting Marriage and it is pretty much what it sounds like: A non-romantic union centered around raising healthy kids.
Some of you might think, “That’s not what marriage is supposed to be about.” Others might think, “That’s what we already do. How is this different from traditional marriage?”
A Parenting Marriage is different in some significant ways, not the least of which is that it’s a conscious choice the couple makes together, not simply a holding pattern they fall into.
3 Reasons Couples Stay in Bad Marriages
Marriage is changing in so many ways, and the rigid paradigm of Ozzie and Harriet is trailing in the rearview mirror at breakneck speed. People are beginning to realize that they have the option to stay single or to get divorced without shame; they have the option to marry later, or marry several times—without shame. Now, couples are starting to see that they can renegotiate the terms of their marriage—without shame.
While a Parenting Marriage isn’t right for every couple, it’s certainly worth looking into.
Here are the key elements:
For more information on how to consciously convert your tired marriage into a Parenting Marriage, pick up a copy of The New I Do: Reshaping Marriage for Skeptics, Realists and Rebels or visit the website: The New I Do.
If you'd like to listen to a free webinar about how Parenting Marriages work, please contact me at email@example.com and put "Parenting Marriage" in the subject line.