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Stay Married for the Kids?

When a marriage grows distant or unsatisfying, one partner or the other may ask, "Should I stay for the kids?"

Sure. If you stay married for the sake of your children, they will avoid the overscheduled life of a child of divorce. They will find more money in their education account or better food on the table thanks to the economies of a shared household. And they will probably manage their aggressiveness and sexuality better during the teen years.

Much better, though, to fall back in love for the children. You spare them all of your resentment. You confirm their view of their other parent as loving and worthy of love. You show them how to succeed at marriage. You demonstrate how to receive love with open arms, how to grow in concert with another human being, how to let yourself be influenced without giving up yourself, how to love another without living in fear of abandonment. You give your future grandkids a pair of secure arms to hold them.

To fall back in love, let go of everything you think you know about what someone should do if they love you. Take nothing for granted. Look for every opportunity to feel grateful. Look for every opportunity to feel generous. Look for every opportunity to feel gracious.

Do the things you dream of doing if you divorced. Lose the weight. Quit smoking. Get more exercise. Take a course. Spend some of your hard-earned money on a cruise or a trip to Tuscany. Schedule a weekly visit to a spa. Sing. Serve chocolate chip pancakes with mashed bananas for dinner. Dance. Lift your spirit, because love flows in more easily when you feel healthy, happy, and alive. Lift it while you're still in the vicinity of the person your kids most want you to fall in love with.

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Patty Newbold is a widow who got it right the second time...

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