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5 Ways a Parenting Marriage May Be Better Than a Divorce

Couples with kids who want to split have a healthy alternative worth exploring.

Key points

  • A parenting marriage can be a good option for many couples considering a split.
  • However, it requires a high degree of cooperation and shared values, and some couples are not suited for it.
  • There are five scenarios where the parenting marriage may be particularly helpful.
Diaga Ellaby/Unsplash
Source: Diaga Ellaby/Unsplash

The school year has begun, bringing an end to another summer of fun-packed family time.

Autumn is one of two times every year when we divorce professionals see an uptick in those who tell us they want out of their marriage. September-October and January-February are months with higher divorce filings. Both of these times of year coincidentally follow typical family (and couple) vacation periods.

When things are going well for spouses, summer and winter breaks can be memorable and enjoyable. However, when there's trouble between husbands and wives, forced family togetherness often takes a toll on the relationship. It's not uncommon for couples to hold on through one more summer or holiday season before calling it quits.

In all fairness, divorce is not an easy decision for anyone, and there will never be a "right time to leave." There are, however, wrong times to leave, including summers and holiday breaks, birthdays, and anniversaries.

My parents split up on their 28th wedding anniversary, so from the time of the breakup for the rest of their living days, June 27th was fraught. The wife of one of my colleagues left him on Christmas day (after she had gotten her gifts), so for several years, December 25th was tough for him. To this day, there's a tinge of sadness for him, even though he's happily remarried.

You May Not Have to Leave

A "parenting marriage" is a term created to describe a marriage or partnership in which the primary focus is on co-parenting rather than romantic or sexual intimacy. This arrangement is often chosen by couples who want to prioritize the well-being and stability of their children while acknowledging that their romantic relationship is no longer working.

A parenting marriage isn't the right choice for every couple who may want to try it out. Those who should definitely not engage in a parenting marriage include couples dealing with any kind of abuse (most especially domestic violence), households where one or both spouses have active substance abuse, or where there is untreated or untreatable mental illness.

Ideal candidates will get along well once they admit they are better friends than lovers. They will genuinely like and respect one another. They'll have a proven record of strong co-parenting with similar parenting styles, goals, and values, or they will be willing to take parenting classes to learn these skills. A parenting marriage also works best when both partners have come to the decision together rather than one person pushing it on the other.

There are many couples who fall somewhere in between ideal and rule-outs. Whether or not they can pull off a parenting marriage successfully will depend on their motivation levels and ability to rise to their higher selves in the best interest of their kids.

Dylan Gillis/Unsplash
Source: Dylan Gillis/Unsplash

5 Ways a Parenting Marriage Can Make a Positive Difference

The following parties may benefit from a parenting marriage:

  1. Children: The primary beneficiaries of a parenting marriage are the children involved. By maintaining a stable and cooperative parenting arrangement, children can have access to both parents' love, care, and support. A parenting marriage aims to minimize the negative effects of a divorce or separation on children by providing a secure and consistent family structure.
  2. Parents: Parents who choose a parenting marriage may benefit from continued emotional and financial support from their co-parent. They can share the responsibilities of raising their children, including childcare, decision-making, and financial obligations, which can alleviate some of the burdens associated with single parenting.
  3. Co-parenting dynamics: A parenting marriage can foster positive co-parenting dynamics and communication between the parents. Parents may develop a cooperative relationship and effective co-parenting strategies by focusing on their shared goals and commitment to their children's well-being. This can create a harmonious environment for children and reduce conflict between the parents.
  4. Emotional stability: For individuals who value stability and continuity in their lives, a parenting marriage can provide a sense of security and emotional stability. It allows them to maintain a familiar family structure, which can be particularly important if they are hesitant to further disrupt their children's lives or have concerns about entering new romantic relationships.
  5. Financial considerations: A parenting marriage can have financial benefits, as it enables both parents to contribute to the household expenses and share the costs of raising their children. By maintaining a joint household, they can potentially reduce individual financial burdens and provide a more stable economic environment for their children.

It's important to reiterate that a parenting marriage may not be suitable for everyone. It requires a high level of cooperation, effective communication, and a shared commitment to prioritizing the children's well-being. Couples considering this arrangement should carefully evaluate their motivations, expectations, and the potential impact on all parties involved before making such a decision.


Take this quiz to see if a parenting marriage might be the right option for you and your family.

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