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Staying In A Dead Marriage For The Kids – SC 27

By Jayson
December 9, 2015

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This is a pretty charged issue. On the one hand, some people really believe divorce is one of the major culprits to kid’s problems. On the other hand, newer research suggests that kids are fine coming from divorced families, and in fact may even be more resilient and capable of handling life’s challenges. If you really think divorce is going to mess up your kids, think again…Listen in, then weigh in with a comment below.


  • The erroneous assumption that comes along with divorce statistics [3:00]

Do you want to show your children how to be a human being, navigating the ups and downs of life? Do you want to be transparent about that journey? Or do you want to hide out and pretend like you know what you’re doing and teach that to your kids?  

  • What is the real issue here? [8:10]
  • The problem with divorce/marriage research [11:45]

[bctt tweet=”Kids who struggle relationally come from families who struggle relationally.”]

  • What I suggest you do if you are in a dead marriage [15:15]
  • Relationship tools to use if you want to avoid divorce [17:20]


Marriage Success Map

10 Agreements of an Indestructible Marriage


Is Divorce Bad For Children?

Children Divorce Statistics

Staying In A Dead Marriage For The Kids




  1. BB

    Hey Jason,
    First, you’re awesome and definitely on point. I am in the process of navigating self empowerment to prepare for departure from my marriage. I have been trying to influence my partner to work on their own stuff so we can be stronger but he continues this approach of avoidance. Just because a person is a hard worker and great provider and socially liked does not mean they are thriving in their personal relationships. I have supported and also provided dependency with my partners intimacy barriers with some breakthroughs but there is a lot more that needs attention. I am thriving in my work and feel fortunate to realize I am in control. I have been concerned about breaking the family unit because I can see my partner would have a very traditional negative reaction to divorce. I keep thinking we can make things better but he is resistant to changing his patterns even though he realizes internally that he is not thriving. I am in counseling finally and I have suggested he do the same. He rejected marriage counseling for many years and I now feel individual counseling is best. When I discussed recently the severity of our situation he reluctantly agreed to marriage counseling but I said at this point we need to work out our own individual stuff so we can see things clearer as partners. Still he continues negative patterns with little change.

    I am working towards my evolution to a place of positive adaptability in order to show my kids (ages 18 & 13) that we can have happiness together regardless of our living situation. They have seen my struggle at times but we mostly provide a home environment that is comfortable and safe for them. This year is a major preparatory stage for me to put myself in a stronger frame of mind and nurture my love for my children. They know how much I love them but they also need to see me in a really good place personally. In addition, I need to be ready to accept a very different lifestyle from the one I have now. I am not financially independent as I was prior to marriage currently my income is not self sustainable. There will be other struggles that my children will have to witness during a major change in life and I need to be ready for that. Thank you for your clarity.

    • NKC

      BB, As I read your comment I was struck by how familiar your situation is. I am in a very similar space in so many ways. I too am concerned about my partner’s reaction/response to separation/divorce.

      Only since I’ve said I’m not certain the marriage is the best place for my continued growth has my partner agreed to therapy. But the challenges and concerns have been present for most of the almost 20 years we’ve been together. My two children are under the age of 10 and I fear that they will develop the same pattern that I learned from my mother… stay small and create coping mechanisms to survive instead of taking bold action to create a happy and healthy life. I’m challenged with owning the knowledge that I may be the only one feeling that the marriage is truly dead.

      My sibling and I fared quite well when my mother left my abusive father. My situation is not that dramatic but there is a presence of extreme emotion management issues. I rationally understand that my children would be just fine if their parents were happier separate but I fear that my definition of a dead marriage is not the same as my partners.

      Jayson, I appreciated hearing your stance that one should not stay for the kids but to stay for oneself if needed. And that divorce is not a failure.

    • Jayson

      BB. you are so welcome. And, thank you for showing your kids how to deal. At the end of the day, they are watching closely as they too will experience big adversity one day and you are showing them the way!

  2. Jeremy Snowden

    Really great feedback. Wish I would’ve heard your content back when I was going through my divorce. Thanks for your work. JS

    • Jayson

      Use it as fuel moving forward eh?

  3. Donna Allgaier-Lamberti

    Or on the other hand how do I show my children that when I make a commitment, I honor it. And how do I teach my kids that my own needs are not as important as the needs of the family unit?
    I grew up in a multi-divorced family. In fact my dad was married three times’ divorced my mother and then lost his second wife to death when I was age 12. Wife number three was bi-polar. Oh yes, fun times! I might add we suffered quite a bit financially due to the multiple divorce/deaths and the impact on our family finances.
    In all I had three mom’s-two dads’ and a total of 16 step/half and adopted siblings. Just because the adults in your family get a divorce does not mean that the children might not struggle relationally. So much depends on the maturity of the individuals involved.
    I stayed in a dead marriage for over 10 years or until my sons were fully grown and in collage and got their start in life. I have no regrets. I would do it again in a heartbeat. I made a commitment to them when they were born to not make them live the life of a divorced child and I kept it. They each had the security of living in the same home their entire life, of knowing that they would have what they needed and that their parents would be there for them in spite of the conflicts we were having interpersonally. We did not fight in front of them. We did not see other people. We had dinner together every night and attended all of their soccer game and school functions and so on. Neither of my sons have major relationship problems.
    I think every situation is different. In some case, esp. in cases of spousal abuse, alcohol or drug abuse it might be better to leave. But in the case where the family unit is sound but the married love is gone then it might be better to stay until the kids are grown.

    • Jayson

      Donna. Wow. i’m glad you played it how you wanted to. Yes, you taught your kids one way to do it for sure and I really respect that. And, I have to wonder, what else you taught them by sticking it out when the “love was gone?” Thank you for your reply!

  4. AC

    I agree with what you said about preserving the family unit and showing the kids how to honor the committment you and your husband made. This society makes it too easy to walk away from challenges. As a Spiritual man, I believe God hates divorce. However, in situations like abuse (physical/alcohol/drugs), then it would benefit the kids as well as your safety to leave. As long as structure and stability are present in the family, then yes, hang in there. Thanks for your comment!

  5. Chris


    Great podcast which makes a lot of sense to me. But I do have one question for you. If only 5% of relationships go the distance in the truest sense (which sounds about right to me), what is the point of leaving a cordial yet mostly dead marriage or relationship? In other words, if 95% of relationships are doomed to end sooner rather than later and end up “dead” anyway, what’s the point of leaving a currently dead relationship in the first place? True, you would at least get 7 or 8 years of a happy, “honeymoon period” relationship, but chances are about 95% that you’d end up back in the same spot. Just curious to get your take on this, thanks.

    • meg@relationshipschool.com

      Hi Chris, I definitely can’t speak for Jayson in responding to your intriguing question, so I’llencourage you perhaps consider joining our Facebook Community Support Group? Jayson regularly looks there and may either directly answer or possibly take your question in an upcoming “AMA: Ask Me Anything” episodes he does with his wife Ellen. Here’s the link: https://www.facebook.com/groups/therelationshipschool. Please contextualize your question to this episode. Thank you for listening and again apologies for the wait. -Meg

  6. L

    What about those that stay in the marriage so that they get to spend time with their children?
    I see that part being the toughest part of this decision.

    • Jayson

      Well, the legal systems in each state don’t make it very easy do they. That is pretty rough, but you must see it as an opportunity to make you stronger, regardless. The issue is still about the grow ups being able to navigate the relational challenges that arise, so that you can have what you want with your kids.

  7. TP

    My insight into this question is that a lot of the time it’s our own shit that is causing the marriage not to work or for it to be “dead”. I think it is difficult to tell if the marriage is really “dead” or if you haven’t done the work you need to do to see it through to the other side and sometimes this could take years. If I can’t imagine going through life with another partner while raising my children and we enjoy family time, social outings, quiet time at home with the family but have little sexual intimacy, does that mean its dead? I don’t think so. And the most important thing to our children right now is family – they are overjoyed when we are all together. And although I don’t look at my partner and think…yep, I want some of that, I do look at my partner with respect and admiration for the man and father that he is. He is one of my best friends. To me that is still a relationship worth keeping and I did make the commitment to do so. So I will continue to work on my shit, we will continue to work on our shit together and hope that one day we will find the intimacy that we both seem to want but struggle to create.


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