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What would you do if your spouse told you they were no longer interested in working on your marriage but wanted to stay together for the kids? What if they even went so far as to call you selfish if you didn’t agree? This is the exact situation I now find myself in. While there are clearly benefits to such an arrangement, there are many drawbacks as well. Can staying together for the kids be a good thing? Is there really a way to be happy in such a marriage?

When I was growing up, my grandparents had an odd marital arrangement. My grandmother lived alone in the home they had shared as a family while my grandfather lived nearby with his girlfriend. My grandparents were still married, and my grandfather came over every day. My grandmother would type letters for his business and cook him lunch. He would take care of the household expenses. They would fight and argue A LOT. I always wondered why they didn’t just get divorced.

Now that I find myself in a similar situation, it seems a lot less strange to me than it once did.

I am beginning to wonder just how common these types of “marriages of convenience” might actually be. After all, marriage brings with it more than just love, companionship, and shared goals for the future. There is the combined income and other financial benefits of being married. If you have children, there is the benefit to them of having both parents together in the same home. They don’t have to deal with two separate households or even a new step-parent or siblings. As long as you aren’t having a lot of fights in front of them, I can see why this arrangement could be better for children.

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At the same time, there are many drawbacks, especially if one spouse is still invested in the marriage. Is it worth it to waste what are possibly the best years of your life living in a loveless marriage? Would you be sacrificing your own happiness for the sake of your children? The answer is yes, but then again, mothers have been doing that since the beginning of time. What wouldn’t you sacrifice for the sake of your child? Probably nothing.

We want our kids to have the best lives possible. Staying married means more than just having both parents in the same house.

It means more financial security, a stable home life, not having to move or change schools, being able to afford all the things that might be more difficult if parents are maintaining separate households. Can a person really justify taking that away from their children for the sake of their own happiness and future? It’s a tough question.

Then again, there is the worry that this would be teaching the kids this kind of relationship is normal and healthy. That being cast aside by the person who you thought you would be growing old with isn’t reason enough to leave. That seeking your own happiness is selfish, and that one should always have to sacrifice for the greater good. Are these the lessons I want to teach my own kids?

Of course, there is also that part of me that does want to put my own needs first. I want to be in a loving relationship. I want a partner to share my life with, someone with whom I can plan for the future. Someone to retire with one day, and eventually, grow old with. The more years I spend in a loveless marriage, the less likely it will be to find someone, and the less time I will have with the person who may be right for me after all.

It’s a sad reality.

Sure, I may still be young now, but the years go by quickly. My husband may be here today, but what about in a few more years? What about when the kids move out on their own? The longer he stays with us, the harder it will be for everyone when he does eventually decide to move on but possibly the hardest for me.

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So today, I am still here. We are still married. I still do the grocery shopping, meal planning, and cooking. He still works hard at his job, helps with the kids, and takes care of things around the house. We even still spend time together as a family and are considering a summer vacation. Even so, he has made it abundantly clear he no longer wants to work on the marriage. As time goes on, I am more and more sure he will not change his mind, no matter how much time we spend together.

Is this the best arrangement for my kids? At least for now, the answer is yes. As for myself? It’s hard to say.

I have never liked change. I am happy in our house, happy to be able to stay home with my children while they are still so young. I do miss having a connection with my husband. I would have been willing to work much harder on our marriage before giving up. It hurts to live together like a family by day but go to our separate bedrooms at night.

So for now, I am taking it one day at a time. I don’t know what the future holds, but I suppose none of us ever really do. Today, we are staying together for the kids. Only God knows what tomorrow will bring.

Amanda Melrose

I am the author of twentytinytoes.com and creator of the YouTube channel Twenty Tiny Toes. I am a mother of three, including twins. I am passionate about parenting, writing, and nature.  

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