If Family Doesn’t End, Then Marriages Shouldn’t Either

If you need any more proof that Americans have no idea how marriage and family are supposed to work, look no further…

Our Marriage Ended.  But Our Family Did Not 

This is a New York Times blog post about a man and woman who “were toxic together” as a married couple.  But, apparently, they still make a fabulous parenting team.

“Of course we tried staying together for the sake of our son… [But eventually] I knew that staying together might be the worst thing we could do for him…

On the days it hurt to look at each other, our innocent child was passed from his father’s arms to mine without so much as a glance. We knew we couldn’t continue on like we were.

[Then, my ex] called me to say that our boy had come down with the flu and was asking for me. I didn’t remind him that we weren’t on speaking terms, but instead hung up and raced the 12 blocks between our homes.

…I quietly watched from the doorway as [my ex] softly stroked the little bald spot on the back of our son’s head. This was why I had chosen to have a child with this man. It was no longer important what kind of husband he’d been; that part was now past. As a father he was exactly the partner I needed: patient, present, committed in every way.”

So, there you have it.  Her ex was a lousy spouse. She couldn’t stand being married to him for another day.

But he’s a terrific Daddy.

If you don’t think about it too hard, that distinction almost sounds beautiful. You might even call these two “mature” or “wise” for being able to respect each other as parents, despite their ugly divorce.

But chew on that thought a little longer, and you can’t help wondering:  what sorts of qualities could possibly be bad enough to end a marriage–and NOT bad enough to make you a poor parent???

So, this man is patient and present, nurturing and consistent with his infant, but he CAN’T be that kind of spouse?  (Or, perhaps, she just wasn’t willing to stick around while he learned how to be that kind of husband?)

On the flip side, maybe he has anger issues, or problems keeping promises, or a hundred other things that make him really hard to live with. But, I guarantee he will lose his temper and disappoint that child many times in the next 18 years.

Should the child divorce him?

Or, can we agree that family sticks together, no matter what?


See, the problem I have with this article is the way the author draws a line between “marriage”  and “family,” when they are supposed to be the same thing. She says, essentially, “Our marriage was temporary–but our family is forever.”

So I ask, “Why can’t you just apply the same commitment to your marriage?”

Over time, most marriages take on a brother-sister dynamic. You take each other for granted. Little, unimportant things start to annoy you. And, let’s face it, some brothers/sisters fight loudly and often.

But that doesn’t mean you stop being family.

The recognition that you will be together forever and work as a team (regardless of feelings) is precisely what BOTH marriage and family are all about.

When you make your wedding-day vows, you are saying, from this day forward, YOU and I will find a way to put our differences aside for the sake of unity. For the sake of the team.

You’re saying, “I do take you as part of my family.”

Even as the passion comes and goes, and you encounter more boring (or even bitter) days than happy or exciting ones, you find a way to work it out.

Because marriage is not just a tax benefit.

It’s not an elevated dating relationship.

It’s not a business transaction or a contract.

And it’s NOT a certain list of qualities you like or don’t like about each other.

Marriage is family–and family is forever.

Lord, help us. We’re so confused…


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