Thursday, December 23, 2010

"Good Enough" Marriages Suit Children Just Fine

What is a "good-enough" marriage?
And why is Booth and Amato's 1997 finding, that 2/3 of divorces end "good-enough" not high-conflict marriages, so significant?

Elizabeth Marquardt wrote an excellent piece for the Huffington Post. Here are some excerpts:

"We disagree about a lot of things. Sometimes I think our kids would be better off if we both moved on."

"I've been researching and writing about children of divorce for a decade and I've heard these sentiments over and over. These parents not divorced yet, but they're thinking about it. They're raising children, struggling to make the mortgage payment and pay the babysitter, hoping to get ahead. Meanwhile, their marriage isn't what it used to be. Those pre-kid days of hanging out with friends seem the stuff of dreams now. Talking is mainly about negotiating schedules and money. Weekends are busy getting caught up from weekdays. Is this what marriage is all about? Do the kids really need this?

In a word, yes. Some marriages are plagued by such serious problems -- such as addiction, chronic infidelity, or violence -- that divorce might well be warranted. But social science research shows that about two-thirds of marriages that end in divorce are low conflict. These marriages may feel troubled to the one or both of the spouses, but they are not struggling with the kinds of serious or frequent conflict many imagine when they picture a marriage on the rocks.

It is these marriages -- what some call "good enough" marriages -- that matter so much. To any still-married parent who is considering divorce who may be reading this, I want to affirm that your "good enough" marriage is doing a world of good for your kids. By sticking with -- and working on and believing in -- your "good enough" marriage, you are sustaining one world for your child. You are affirming that the rough and sometimes not-pretty job of holding together one family belongs to you and your spouse, not your child."