Why do I stay?

10/12/2005

Wednesday

This question, that gets asked more often than any other, has reached a fever pitch in light of recent postings. So I guess it’s only fair that I give it the ample attention that it deserves.

First and foremost, there is the issue of my children. I do wonder sometimes that if it weren’t for the boys then one or both of us would fly off like a bird, winging our way far, far away like the prayer of little Jenny in Forrest Gump. But we do have two boys, ages 6 and 3, who need both their parents. The oldest, Thomas, I have previously mentioned is on the autistic spectrum. Contrary to what the earliest autism literature says, he does develop strong emotional attachments to others. And none are stronger than the attachment he has for his family. He talks about us being a family constantly, about there always being the four of us. It’s almost like he can detect the fragile nature of our relationship and knows we are held together by a single thread and tries to reinforce it in any way that he can. Our youngest also shows signs of delays, although not so significant at this time. He also requires the assurance of a stable and intact family unit.

Several folks will try to convince me that staying together is doing more harm than if we went our separate ways. I’ve read the peer reviewed research literature myself. Children benefiting from divorce is the exception, not the rule. It is so rare, that single parent households make up the fastest growing segment of impoverishment in the U.S. Children from single parent households are many times more likely to:

-be arrested

-drop out of school

-suffer from depression and other psychopathologies

-attempt suicide

-become victims of physical and sexual abuse

-Perpetrate physical and sexual abuse

-become drug users

-Join a street gang

-eventually divorce when they marry, carrying on a cycle of unstable relationships

-not go to or finish college

Many of the above are as much products of poverty as they are the divorce, itself. And there are plenty of drug users and gang members who come from intact marriages. And there are some well-adjusted people who came from divorced families; no doubt many are reading this right now. But there are many, many risks. Many of you are all too willing to gamble the lives of my children away for my own personal pleasure. Not me. At least not yet. But thanks, anyway.

While Arwyn is engaged in the abuse of negligence and rejection (with a fair amount of contempt thrown in for good measure) she is not terribly abusive. Her psychopathology (whatever it is) is not externalized very much. While this does have ramifications for my own mental health and well-being, it is not an immediate and urgent threat. It is more of a slow grinding and gnawing. Exceedingly painful, yes. But not fatal. The fictional story of the Amorite drew much more inspiration from other sources than from interactions with her.

Financially, it is cheaper to keep her rather than to dump her. At least in relative terms. She is quite expensive, though. Up until a couple of years ago, it looked much better. Now it’s closer to being a zero sum proposition. Cost alone isn’t enough of a factor to go one way or another.

I think it is important to note that I’m not that much of a bargain, myself. I’m not an attractive person. I never was, and I think this is a bigger issue in our semi-celibate than I might like to admit. As other traits of mine become less attractive or less relevant, my physical unattractiveness becomes more of a factor. Arwyn, on the other hand, is very attractive. Since I’m neither physically attractive nor rich, and can be antisocial at times, these are hard obstacles to overcome. My one redeeming physical trait is that I’m relatively tall at 6’2″. Short guys really get a short shrift.

Then we have the part of the vows that say, “What God has joined together, let no one take apart.” As a mostly evangelical Christian, this does weigh heavily on me. When the prophet Malachi said God hates divorce, that’s pretty straight talk.

So to summarize, I’m committed to my children, my wife and my God in this marriage. While things are bad, there are no truly compelling reasons to break these commitments. And there are no good reasons to believe things would improve much for me once I got out of this relationship.

Not that I don’t think about it…often. If I had another relationship to go to, that might paint things in a different light. Then I wouldn’t be escaping from something as much as working towards something better.

Convince me my children would be better off. Convince me that God would be pleased with the break up of this marriage. Convince me that I have something better to look for. Then we can talk about walking away.

Rob the commenter, gave some other options:

-Take on an affair: that is under investigation, but not likely. Possible, though.

-Live with it and accept it: Rob’s chosen option. I may pick that one down the line. As long as I’m married, it remains an option.

– Get divorced: Generally that’s an option that can be exercised only once.

– Fight for it/fix it: This one I can keep doing until I decide to execute one of the others and it is the one I choose for the present. Obstacles of childcare and cost are the hurdles at the present time which inhibit my getting help of a more professional sort.

I’ll have to discuss the professional help option at another time. I’ve been to counselors and I know people in the business. People I wouldn’t necessarily recommend. But I’m not discounting that option out of hand if the obstacles are no longer an issue. Part of my decision to fill my own mother in on this is so that she can be somewhat aware of what is going on and give whatever recommendations she can. Living 1000 miles away precludes any sort of direct help, though. Those that have family members close by for this sort of support are fortunate, indeed. Even moreso when dealing with children with special needs. Not everyone is equipped to deal with some of the behavioral challenges these kids pose. And Arwyn demands an even higher standard of trust than I do in these things.

The bottom line is that I am committed to my commitment. Not many other folks are nowadays, or so it seems if the present rate of divorce is any indication. I’m not faulting those that have done it or those that do, but I hold to a different set of standards, skewed and dysfunctional as they may be. So hopefully, this answers that question although I’m sure many others will come up along the way.

D.

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13 Responses to Why do I stay?

  1. Anonymous says:

    to me, that whole thing sounded like elaborate excuses and a way of looking down on anyone who chooses to not continue to live in hate and anger and contempt… your standards are one thing, but I felt as if you were belittling those that have survived and chosen to divorce… you didn’t bother to mention the number of women who are beaten and remove their children from the situation for safety reasons…. not everyone just ups and divorces to get off with another person… there are REAL VALID reasons for divorce… and I’d say that more children ARE better off for it than you give credit for… should those women stay with the abusive husband because of their vow to God… to be abused and have their children abused and to teach children that you take it… to teach boys that it’s okay to hit a woman to get your point across…

    I think your view of reasons for divorce and the good that can come from it are VERY short sighted… and hopefully your sons won’t grow up believing it’s okay to have no respect for your spouse and they’ll just take it…

  2. C-Marie says:

    I can relate to your committment as I had once done so many years ago – but how much better off would my children be (or myself rather) by keeping an unstable male figure around the house? One who abused and dealt drugs instead of working a real job? One who consistantly abused me on all levels, the same one who burnt us out of our home due to a drug deal gone bad? I got so tired of being kept, being afraid and watching my children examine daddy dealing in the driveway. My children are fine and have had me as a constant in their lives. They trust and know I will always be the one waiting for them when they come home. They know they can sleep quietly in their beds. Granted these are not your issues and your outlook for the good fight is remarkable. I suppose ending a marriage because there is no intimacy is not a valid excuse to destroy your unit. And yes, your children need the both of you – all children do. There may never be an end all to the issues you and Arwyn deal with but maybe someday, far far away, she may be able to tell you.
    Even if you did choose to leave…ending it all in a divorce, I truly don’t believe your children would ever become part of the statistics you’ve posted. I believe there are alot more things going on behind the scenes with these kids and labeling it with divorce isn’t topping the charts these days.

  3. I think annonymous has the point wrong. All the reason he/she mentioned are very valid reasons for divorce. But to leave because you aren’t ‘getting’ any is not a valid reason to leave. I don’t know Digger personally but I doubt he is beating his wife or children.
    c-Marie has a valid reason to for divorceing her ex. If she stayed in the marriage her children would have most likely become dealers themselves. Or they would have been killed in a deal gone bad.
    My Mother-in-law had a valid reason for divorceing my wifes dad- He was married to another woman in another country.
    But to just walk away because you feel it is too much work to keep the marriage, you aren’t getting any nookie, or many other reasons people get a divorce are all WRONG reasons! I had so much more but lost my train of thought. 😦
    I give Digger alot of credit for staying in his marriage. For all the reasons he stays. As I see it he only has 1 option and that is to keep fighting for what he vowed to do when he got married Tolove each other till death do you part. I definately DO NOT see an extramarital affair as an option either. It will serve no purpose but to cause pain in the long run. It will give instant gratification but that it all. Nothing long term. It will hurt Arwyn, the children and Digger himself. How would God look at him if he had an affair? Even worse than if he got a divorce I think.
    CH

  4. Also I don’t see how his POV can be taken as looking down on people who do get a divorce or even as an excuse. He is merely stateing his beliefs. I have much of the same beliefs, even if for a different reason. Also I don’t think that he was talking about people that had REAL VALID reasons for divorce.
    As I’ve said on my Blog too many people are using divorce as a quick fix to life. They are wanting to divorce because they are LAZY and don’t want to spend the time and effort it takes to make a REAL marriage work. Again Abuse, drugs, cheating are all VALID reasons for divorce.
    There is much more to marriage than sex.
    CH

  5. Rob says:

    In reading Digger’s words, along with the comments of others both here as well as in other blogs, I’m more and more convinced that life is not a black or white affair when it involves relationships but rather a multitude of greys. What is valid in one person’s marriage as a solution to show-stopper problems is often not valid in another’s. It’s an individual decision, one that must be very unique to fit the circumstances and (hopefully) resolve the tragedy and pain of one’s marriage issues. Digger has chosen his path, C-Marie has chosen another that is hers, and myself yet a 3rd different one. Our lives are unique and all are different. Only our morals, our sense of responsibility to ourselves and to others, as well as our consciences can best guide each of us properly. There is no “one size fits all” solution to any of this stuff. So folks, none of you are wrong in your views. You just have to remember one thing: the other person may have a valid point as well. Bottom line being – keep an open mind but never give up trying to achieve your goals, whatever they may be, in the best way that you know how.

  6. Tajalude says:

    I was trying to think of something to say, but Rob said it better than I had planned.

    I will just add that D, as long as you say the things you say about the state of your marriage, people (especially those who have not been around from the earlier days of your previous blog) will continue to ask “Why do you stay”.

    I do think couples (and therefore families) can be happier apart or with other people than together, but that’s not for anyone but you & Arwyn to decide. I may not understand why you stay, but I only see half of the story.

  7. Sara B says:

    Digger, I hardly ever agree with you, but I admire your perseverance to your marriage and your children.

    That being said, how can you call yourself a mostly evangelical christian and still consider an affair an option? Prophets aside, the Ten Commandments specifically mentions adultery as a no-no. I’m honestly just curious: how do you justify this?

  8. Satan says:

    As a drug user who was produced by a stable marriage – I vote for the affair.
    Or just a lot of internet porn. 🙂

  9. So Gone says:

    I don’t think Digger considers leaving because of “lack of nookie” but because she has an obvious lack of respect, admiration, intimacy, etc. with/towards him. If it were me, I wouldn’t be able to stay and maybe I don’t understand but I respect your decisions.

  10. FTN says:

    I also appreciate you staying in, and fighting for, your marriage. And now on to the completely unsolicited advice:

    Find a way to get into counseling. Many larger churches actually have a counseling department, and perhaps they would have some suggestions for childcare. The one we went to for awhile also had a sliding pay scale.

    My second thought… you talk of yourself as unattractive and your wife as attractive. Find a way to make yourself as physically attractive as possible. Work out. Lift weights. Try to dress particularly well. Find a way to act confident. Even if your wife doesn’t respond to it immediately, all of that can do wonders for a person’s self-confidence and respect. Just a thought.

  11. C-Marie says:

    I want to add in part of Digger’s descriptions of himself: Beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and more people are beautiful on the inside regardless of their outside qualities.

    Because of your beliefs and your willingness to fight the good fight – you are beautiful!!

  12. Leela Lamore says:

    I have to agree with so gone. There are more ways to abuse than physical and sex deprivation actually is physical … the disrespect, lack of intimacy, scorn, well that is termed as mental abuse…

    Blew that one out of the water didn’t I?

    Digger I respect you for hanging in there and trying to make it work .. I hope your efforts will be appreciated some day.

  13. Chrim says:

    I stayed with my first husband for all the same reasons: kids, finances, commitments, etc. Then one day I realized that the kids were going to grow up, have lives of their own and I would be stuck alone with a man who hated me, who never made love to me or cared about me as a person.

    I realized also I would rather be on welfare than stay so miserable. So we separated and divorced. It certainly didn’t solve all my problems and it created a BUNCH more. But now I’m in my second marriage and I’m a lot happier. It’s not perfect but it’s better!!

    My kids see a more content mother and a marriage where people respect each other and love each other.

    Life’s not easy and there isn’t always a yes or no answer. I wish more than anything I was happily married to the father of my children but it wasn’t possible.

    Also…sometimes people stay together because of their strong religious beliefs. I have to wonder if God is even present when some people get married. He gives us free will, which means a lot of times we make the wrong decisions. Maybe he’s shaking his head and wishing we weren’t so stupid and he really hasn’t “blessed” our unions.

    Just my own humble opinions.

    Good luck.

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