Many people stay in unhealthy romantic situations due to some form of “love.” But more often than not, they’re captives of emotions other than love (fear, comfort or complacency, for example) than the one thing they claim to be their reason for remaining committed to a less-than-deserving partner. This four-part series will explore the many ways one can be “held hostage by love” and offer examples of telltale signs that you may need to muster up courage and plan your exit before it is too late. Remember, committing to someone is and should always be a welcoming, willing and desired choice.
Here’s Part Two:
“My kids deserve to see their parents together. I don’t care if I am unhappy, they won’t grow up in a single-parent home.”
I’ve been in the relationship profession for a few years now and honestly, I am blown away by the number of people who choose to stay in relationships for reasons other than love. No, love doesn’t pay the bills or guarantee that food will be on the table, but for many people, it absolutely isn’t a priority.
This series may be titled “Held Hostage by Love,” however, it’s anything but. It should more appropriately be titled “Held Hostage by the Appearance of a Presence of Love”—or something of that nature—because love is usually at the bottom of the list of reasons to stay.
A couple of months ago I was hosting a relationship chat in Chicago. Somehow we got on the subject of bad breakups and knowing when to leave a relationship. One women took to the floor to share that she technically “cheats” on her husband because they’re still legally married, but they’re only staying for the kids.
“I see other men, and he sees other women,” she said.
“So how does that work? Do the people you are dating come to your home?” I asked.
“He better NOT bring another woman to my home! No. He goes on dates and does what he wants, and I do the same,” she replied. “We sleep in different parts of the house, but our kids have us both in the house.”
Now, I don’t have children so all I can do is reflect on my childhood growing up in a two-parent household. My folks (God rest Pops’ soul) had their fair share of ups and downs like any married couple would, but when they thought I wasn’t paying attention, I was.
Although it is noble to want your children to have a two-parent home, what’s even more noble is showing your them what a functional, happy, healthy relationship looks like. If you are simply “staying together for the kids,” trust, your children will pick up on that. Why? Because all they’re seeing is two people living in the same house, being cordial to one another and sleeping in separate rooms.
While staying together for the kids screams sacrifice, love for your children and a concern for how they view relationships, nothing about staying together for the children screams “I’m in love.” Your children deserve to see what real love looks like, and that cannot be faked, bought or sold by living under the same roof.
The reality is that you cannot shelter your children from the inevitable. Even if you do decide to stay together, your kids will learn about divorce from their classmates whose parents are no longer together. Eventually, they will learn that Johnny’s parents are no longer together after 7 years of marriage. They will come to understand that Simone’s father is married to a woman other than her mother, and that her mother has a boyfriend who is not her father.
You may think you’re protecting your kids by remaining under the same roof, but you’re doing the opposite. In many cases, you’re exposing them to an unhealthy union, all for the sake of saying you’re married. And for that reason, you’re not just robbing them of being exposed to a healthy, loving relationship, you’re being selfish.
Shantell E. Jamison is EBONY’s senior editor of love and relationships. Her book, Drive Yourself in the Right Direction is available on Amazon. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @Shantell_em and Instagram @Shantell_em.