Stay Married for the Kids the Right Way


The wrong way to stay married for the kids.
Sleep in separate rooms, keep separate schedules, date other people, stay angry at each other, refer to each other around the kids as “your mother” and “your father.”
This is not staying married. It’s just staying. You and your kids deserve better. But divorce is not the only alternative.
The right way to stay married for the kids.
Look daily for things to appreciate about the kids’ other parent. Show enormous respect for the person who means so much to them. Say please and thank you and you’re the best to your kids’ mother or father. Keep trying until you find things you can all do as a family and really enjoy them. Hug and touch each other. Ignore cutting remarks as you would if they came from Great Aunt Betty whose dementia is worsening.
Tolerate no abuse. Involve other adults, not your kids, in protecting you and the kids and creating the motivation for stopping the abuse or its cause.
Stand together on boundaries and rules for the kids, even if it means you must sometimes defend one you could live without. Use every trick in the book to resolve your differences (e.g., The Floor from Fighting for Your Marriage and PREP, massage to release oxytocin, Third Alternatives, observing The Dance of Anger and leading into a calming dance step, taking an immediate break when there’s a harsh startup, flooding, or stonewalling per John Gottman’s research).
And never, ever, ever play the Isn’t My Spouse Awful game with your kids.

About the author

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.


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  • Found this site & have the same question – different situation. Been married 11 years, 2 kids under 10. Always condisered it a good marriage, we rarely argue, enjoy each others company & are intimate 2-3 times a week. I recently found out my husband has a on-line life I knew nothing about. He has a few email addresses, a phone & has created a fake identity that he uses to email, text & chat with numerous woman he’s met thru numerous websites. He has many pics sent to him by these woman & seems to chat / skype when ever I’m not home.
    In the past he sometimes has asked me to talk to a stranger on-line – which I’ve done & don’t mind having some anonomys fun to spice things up. What he seems to be doing is at another level completely, really because he talks to the same people quite often, some who he met though a BDSM site & has maintained these “relationships” . I don’t think he’s ever cheated, not much opportunity really, but wonder now. When we met he was a bit of a bad boy & I did know he cheated on his previous girlfriend. We started dating & once I let him know that wasn’t okay for me, he seemes to make the choice to settle down.
    When i found a phone he was using & confronted him about it he told me he really wanted to be married & was just having some fun , because he needed more sexually. Except he didn’t stop, not for a minute, just found other ways to continue. Now I’ve caught up with some of those ways, snooping really,
    I’m feel very confused. Whether I should let him know what I know, whether I should hold back & just monitor what he’s doing, do we need counselling ? i want to raise my children in a happy marriage & do not want to divorce him, but feel like I am dealing with all the stresses of the marriage alone. I’m even wondering if I discuss it all with him is this a problem we could get help for – although I’m sure he doesn’t think there is any problem ! Any advice is appreciated, thanks !

  • I would try first for a Third Alternative, a way for him to be a bit of a bad boy that fits with who you are and what you need to feel safe in your relationship. There is an entire category in the right-hand column of the blog on how to Find Third Alternatives.
    If he’s in too far, has developed a compulsion that causes you distress but he cannot voluntarily stop, you might want to seek out a therapist who is comfortable with sex issues. You might also want to search for books, videos, and interviews with expert Mark Laaser.

  • My dear wake up and smell the coffee! What the heart knows, lies can not hide. You are willing to share in his fantasies to share any experience with him. You fail yourself in doing so, even if the day to day is tolerable and you find commonality. In the end his antics become more exaggerated whether they involve others or heighted self indulgent behaviors. You lose in the end. Find your own happiness and allow your higher self determine your path. This is not a win-win for you or the kids. They know. They really do know and ultimately will show you that they knew the un-natural state of their family. But then again what is normal or natural anymore when it comes to marriage. I still recommend treating yourself well and claiming the happiness you really deserve or should have. Be bold and have the life you deserve.

By Patty Newbold

Patty Newbold

I am a widow who got it right the second time. I have been sharing here since February 14, 2006 what I learned from that experience and from positive psychology, marriage research, and my training as a marriage educator.

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