One of the findings of the Longevity Project was that the children in the study group who were in high-conflict marriages found their parents’ divorce a relief. Their adjustment to life after divorce was easier than those children who thought they were a happy family. My current guest, Ashley experienced her parents’ divorce when she was fourteen and her experience supports the Longevity Project. Here’s Ashley:
[contemplate1] It was such a relief because there was so much tension and distance between them.
I felt they should have never gotten married. But if I had ever said that then the response was, “But then you wouldn’t exist.” So it reminded me that there was some good in a bad situation.
My dad wasn’t there the majority of the time and if he was he was either angry or sleeping. I’m sure my brothers have a different recollection of him. In fact, just recently we were out to dinner and we were talking about the first time my brother found out about sex, how my father told him about sex. For first time it occurred to me that my brothers had a totally different relationship with my father. To me, he was always just this angry, absent person but when they were younger, before I was around, he was maybe around more.
I think my parents were doomed from the start. They should never have gotten together. My parents are both Jewish, though my father definitely wasn’t practicing. They went to high school together and my mother’s best friend who wasn’t Jewish was dating my dad. The only way they could get together was for my mom to pretend that she was dating my dad. Then for whatever reason they started actually dating and ended up deciding that they should get together and get married.
Yet, my father was never committed to it from day one. My mom and her best friend are still best friends now into their late 70’s.
Ashley’s story here illustrates an important nuance – when we talk about the impact of divorce on children it’s critical to remember that the children won’t all be affected in the same way. The relationship each sibling has with each parent before divorce will play into how that child perceives the divorce. Those relationship differences will undoubtedly continue to influence the family dynamics after divorce.
How is your relationship with your child different from your STBX’s? How is that impacting your divorce? Does it change how you treat your other children?
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