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Is "Staying For The Children" Really Worth It?

"I would have just gone and lived the life I wanted, I would have listened to my friends who said 'forget about your husband and go and build a life for yourself', I should have been selfish. If had, I would definitely be living a better life right now, like my mates. But I couldn't leave, I had to stay because of the children."  

The pain in *Mrs M's eyes was louder than her high pitched voice. Looking at her I could see a thousand 'what ifs?', regret, doubt and discontent. Mrs M is a mother figure to me, quite elderly, somewhere between her mid-fifties to mid-sixties. 

What brought on all of this, this uncomfortably honest conversation, you might ask... Well it started with a simple "I went to Oto market because things are a lot cheaper there". Then she went on to recount how she ran into Agnes at the market, an old friend she hadn't seen in years. 

You see, Agnes used to live on the same street as Mrs M many years ago, somewhere in Ejigbo. Agnes was one of Mrs M's numerous neighbour-friends. Then they were young women building their homes and making families. 
     Agnes who moved out of the street in Ejigbo over ten years ago asked Mrs M where she lives now. A bit shamefacedly, Mrs M admitted that she and her hubby still live on that street in Ejigbo

"Whaaaaaaaaaat??? Nne! Tufia!!! Unu ka no na Ejigbo? (You people are still in Ejigbo?) Unu ka no na mainland? Hia! All of us on the street now live in Lekki or Victoria Island, in our own homes, we even thought you and Mr M relocated overseas. Ejigbo kwa? Hia!"

Mrs M told me that it was bad enough that all her peers had moved on and left her behind (which wasn't news to her), but what really stung on that hot afternoon in an overly crowded market filled with Christmas shoppers was the way Agnes screamed this for as many people as possible to hear. 

"....But I couldn't leave, I had to stay because of the children."  Are words that keep resounding in my ears. Mrs M was the breadwinner in her home and catered for five children and one husband who's been down on his luck since the late '80s. 

At some point things got so bad and friends advised her to leave. First of all she ignored them because life throws challenges at people and she could overcome, besides Mr M would 'bounce back' soon.     
      Then she ignored them because although she had begun to resent and therefore disrespect Mr M (I reckon raising 5 children and a husband can do that to a woman, especially when DH isn't making any visible effort to better his situation), she stayed because that's what "good" wives did. 
      And then she ignored them because of the children. 

Now the children are all grown up and have all moved on with their lives, Mr M is still Mr M; unlucky, lazy and indifferent. Mrs M is retired but she still does small businesses here and there to keep head about water. 

I wonder about the children she stayed for. 

I wonder about children of parents in unhappy marriages, would they really have turned out so badly if their parents got divorced? What are the real benefits of growing up in an unbroken home? Does growing up in an unbroken home guarantee that the children would grow to become respectable members of the society? I ask because I've seen people who grew in in proper homes with proper families grow up to become nuisances to society, and I've seen products of broken homes become role models...
    I've often wondered if it's not enough to each care for the children and show them as much love as possible regardless of if the couple is together or apart... 
    Do you have any experience or knowledge about this, is staying for the children and (potentially condemning yourself to endless misery) really worth it?


  1. Staying for the kids might worth or not worth it depends on the situation. My mum is still with my step dad not because she wants to or loves him, but because of his kids,she doesn't want to be labeled as someone whose first husband left her And now she has to leave this one,my mum doesn't hear clearly except u come close to her courtesy of her husband, one of the slaps he gave her recently (mum is 50 ohh imagine), I wanted to lock him up but she begged me not to,no vision, lazy neither does he have a mission but she is stucked because of my siblings. Thelma, children in unhappy homes suffer, I remember when our second to d last born was 7,my step dad beat mum to a stupor and my kid brother didn't eat for a week neither did he drink, n he told his dad,he would join the force because of his attitude and my brother meant it,I shuddered imagining what he would be going through emotionally. But if u ask me,if experience what mum is experiencing, I would not stay cos I don't have the strength, I give kudos to my Mum, she is so strong and I do not joke with her for any reason, she is the best I could have asked for. Too much epistle, pardon me.

  2. Thelma, life is what you make of it. Women remain in unhappy and unhealthy relationships because of fear. Fear of the stigma of divorce; of ridicule; of being alone; of social class. It's fear that holds us back. If you empower a woman to cater for herself and the the kids, she'll still remain in the marriage. Even when the man sexually abuses his own children. Why do you think there are more women filling for divorce these days? Because they've decided not to be like their mothers. If we can overcome that fear, we'll not be ready and happy to accept the rubbish men mete out to us. I've told DH, I'm not as tolerant as my mother. And I've learned from my father that men don't change. What you see is what you get. That's why I have two kids. I can take care of them on my own should I decide to leave.


  3. @mallama are u advocating for divorce?what happens to endurance? Am not saying endure till death,but what happens to enduring with God's help and prayers? My step dad used to have worse issues but my mum became a prayer warrior just to calm him a bit, though he isn't totally better, but mum believes he would change. I would only divorce a man if I have endured to the last straw but not advocating for divorce.

    1. Mabel, don't let a man know you don't believe in divorce. You'll be his doormat. Why will a man sleep with his wife's sister? Because he knows he won't be punished. The mrs will not leave. I saw an Instagram post, a girl flaunting her boyfriend and all the expensive gifts he got her. I recognised him. He's my friend's husband. But that's not her. And they're not divorced. He's made money. I remember when she worked to contribute to the household's income. Why will he humiliate her like that? Because he knows she'll always be there. Know what you will not tolerate. When a man knows marriage isn't your last bus stop, he'll behave himself. Don't cheat yourself by telling him you don't believe in divorce. Tell him someone will still love you with your kids. Let him know you have options.


    2. Then your mum is also waiting on the last straw. Also I think your stepdad might change later only due to old age and weak bones. Cause if at your mom's age and all the prayers he is still at it then only his health and strength will stop him. And what Mallama typed is no different from your decision to leave at the last straw.

    3. And blue bubble and mallama,are u saying a man would behave himself when u know u don't care about divorce? Do u know that a man can misbehave purposely because he knows he wants divorce but would prefer it comes from u?do u think this is the white country where a man cares about ur divorce?@to answer u blue bubble,my Mum has her dignity to protect dats yyy she is still dere,do u know d stigma people who have marry different men face? We are Africans therefore we should not be ignorant of our society and the kind of world we live in. Am proud of my mum anytime any day,she knows what leaving my step dad would do to my siblings and she choose to protect them,does that make her weak?come on guys.

    4. Never said your mom's weak and never will. I just want you to know that these things are never here nor there as Wale wrote.

  4. This is a very serious matter. I understand Mrs M's pain too well. My mom has been the bread winner of our house for a looong time. Since I can remember. And my dad like Mr M. She always hoped he would change but he didn't. Eventually he got a job that pays not less than 150k per month and he still refuses to handle responsibilities simply because my mom has always been the one doing everything. She has complained and complained... fought and argued! mba! To no avail! He'll say she nags to much! She this she that! She eventually chose happiness and peace of mind. Left him to his selfish ways. When she was still doing her 8-5 job. She was building a house somewhere after ajah, and she told him to let us move there, pending the time we'll finish! He blatantly refused. If we had, we'd have finished building that house and probably moved to a better house. He just impeded that one. I'm talking about 9years ago. I can't even go on about the wrong counsels he gave which eventually led to why the house is still like that. But my grandpa made sure she built another house and even if he refuses to live in it, they let it out.
    Some days ago, he said he was looking for one ridiculous amount of money and he insinuated my mom took it. This woman is into business and earns more than double his salary per month. At that point, I looked at her and said.. see, if u decide to leave him today, i'll help you pack your bags. Yes! I said that to my mom. I'm against divorce but there are sometimes, for sanity sake, for peace and progress... walking away won't be a bad idea. My mom just takes it all in and moves forward. She once told me she would never pack up her marriage and she stayed and would remain because of us. She has come too far to up and leave like that.
    She's the strongest and most independent woman I know. And I love and admire her with all my heart. as much as I hate and am against divorce, sometimes, leaving might just be the best decision the woman wud ever make and she'll look back and be glad she did. Many women would have done way better if they had let go of the dead weight men they married. If they had not stuck to that BS about staying for the children.
    One thing though, they should take their children and leave those children to suffer with the man or their step mother in case the man chooses to remarry.

    1. Anon ur mum did what every strong woman would do,just like my mum,if she has endured for years,yyy would she leave now@sasha my dear,u said she choose to stay because she wants to?we can never tell what a person is going through or has gone through till we go through such,I don't blame Mrs M,she might not be educated with d right certificates and might not have help from anywhere not even a relative,so I don't agree with DAT statement of urs.

    2. @mabel, my statement isn't derogatory or meant to be. It's just a pointer. If there's relative peace in Mrs M's home void of DV and co,then I'll say she stayed (whether in her marriage/neighborhood) cos she wanted to. And,what reason cld Mrs M give for leaving? My hubby is broke? I don't like my neighborhood so I took my kids and left w/o him? Wldnt those reasons sound shallow?
      As long as her life and that of her kids aren't in danger,il say she stayed cos she wanted to. And besides,i know a family who have lived in the same house for over 25yrs in VI and I doubt if *Agnes wld shriek the way she did if she hears this one.

    3. Lemme paraphrase,she stayed cos "she had to" (given the options and reasons available) and it's not necessarily for the kids...

  5. "Staying for the kids". I find that statement very relative. Cld it mean that she's used to the comfort zone of that environment? Cld it mean that she didn't have the financial means to relocate the whole family to a better neighborhood and thus "stayed for the kids"? Cld it also mean she loved/pitied her hubby so much that she "stayed for the kids" or cld it mean she was scared of the unknown if she moves on with the kids but w/o the hubby in the picture and thus "stayed for the kids"?
    It's always very easy to find an excuse to justify our actions. In this case I'll say she stayed cos she wanted to and not because of the kids...

    As to the effect of kids from broken homes,if u ask me,i think they make an extra and conscious effort not to experience that in their future homes (i.e for those who care)

  6. Every time my mum says she is staying for me...I just wish I could tell her not to. I have been out of the country for five years now and everytime I see my mum no on my phone I know she's about to give me a very depressing story about things at home with my dad. Really imagine that, that every time ur mum calls u somehow u would end up depressed after the call. I honestly wish she would leave and we can get to talk about other things. I am an only child , done with uni..lived on my own for 5 yrs if she leaves it doesn't affect me. She keeps saying she will leave after I get married, so she doesn't tarnish my image. ..whatever that means. By the way I am 22.. And I don't even know when I am getting married.
    I guess I will keep praying for her

    1. shy girl... I understand! It sucks but hey! It shall be well!!!! :)

  7. These things are so complex and neither here nor there. I would recommend staying if there is no form of abuse or cheating involved.
    Raising children in a dysfunctional setting is dangerous to everybody, better to separate if any woman is in this situation.

  8. Hmmmmmm wale I have noticed u don't have issues with divorce. Okay just observing.

    1. Separation and divorce are different; I am an advocate of separation, not divorce.
      Will never subscribe to somebody staying when the risks are glaring. God didn't ask anybody to marry and lose his or her life.

  9. My sis is a drug addict
    Another a runs chic
    The last an area girl
    My brother? No comment
    I'm the only kid out of 5 that has made a headway growing up in a dusfuncrional family. My mom should have left trust me I believe the others would have turned out better.

  10. I disagree with you mabel! I hate divorce. I think every one should do everything in their power to make their marriage work. I do not advocate divorce neither do I preach it to people... but I am with Wale on this one. That statement does not connote support for divorce in any way.

  11. It does anon, read n digest those words, only people with deep understanding would understand wale's words cos he writes like someone who is neither in support or against a particular issue,couldn't get an immediate English to describe him.@HSF I feel u,really deep I guess u choose to turn out well though, God would surely turn ur siblings around.

    1. So mabel in other words... I don't have deep understanding. I don't know how to think and reason deeply! Ha! But why? Why would you say that about someone you know nothing about.... sooo Saad. now i'm depressed! :(

    2. Anon you are right, do not feel depressed. Mabel if you can read with more "understanding" you will notice Wale used the word separation. There is a difference between Divorce and Separation. I agree with you Wale, staying for the kids may be doing the kids more harm than good. J

    3. @anon 11:09,am sorry ohh,no ill feelings meant biko,maybe I used wrong words but trust me,am not insulting u.once again, am sowwy@anon12:55am Wat else is left when separation takes place?is there much difference?

    4. Mabel, separation is a whole lot different from divorce. Simply put, it enable a hard reset of the brains to escape the avoidable issues of abuse.
      Separation offers the opportunity to come back together when all the major issues have been resolved not with begging but with proper psychological treatment.
      It allows people be themselves again and decide how they want to proceed with their lives. Many victims of abuse would be alive or doing great today if only they had taken that step.
      I have not read that part of the Bible that says that God support the kind of dangerous treatments people get in marriages these days. While it is ok for the woman to support when the man falls short, I refuse to accept a situation where the woman is the permamnent breadwinner with the man even misbehaving in some cases.

      We must stop tolerating dangerous lifestyles if we want to live a frutiful life that God called us to live and also for the sake of our children.

    5. Very well said wale
      My parents where separated for a while but guess it didn't do much.
      It's a no no that a woman should be the breadwinner ESP for a long time because it doesn't allow the man to be a man.
      Secondly abuse of any form or shape is a no-no.
      I hear a lot of people talking about physical abuse how about emotional and psychological abuse with a manipulative man. With a man whose a perpetual liar, a man who is an infidel sleeps with any woman even house helps, a man who beats you and the kids, a man who messes your brain up and screws with your self esteem, who you'll rather whip lash than tongue lash you, who makes you feel like you're a nobody. Who plays Santa to everyone else but his family, the dark side of charismatism I have a ton to write but Im in transit. How do you expect anything good to come out of this hostile environment and why would any right thinking woman want to remain in this sort of environment even though she had the financial wherewithal to leave? Honestly I have a headache just remembering this

  12. My mum should leave....she is staying because she doesn't have the financial wherewithal to stand on her own(i wonder that means as she is the breadwinner in her matrimonial home).....she also tells me she needs me to get married before she can consider leaving......again I am clueless.....what on earth does that mean.

    Honestly,i think she is scared of the unknown and people's opinions.....and yes she says she is staying because of the kids.....but I wonder isn't it better she leaves than bringing up kids in a tense and dysfunctional environment?

    So she is staying but she is very bitter,angry,stressed and depressed more often than not.... I can identify with almost every comments.....i stay out of town cuz of my job and there are times I just get depressed with the thought of calling my mum,why?because it's alwaz one depressing story or another about the home situation.

    She is a strong woman but God forbid I am in that situation,i would dump my stepfather s ass all the reasons in the world be damned.

  13. Staying for the kids is just an official excuse for other ingrained fears. She who decides to stay should stay. Doesn't make her any better that the one who chooses to leave.
    Too often, we hold ourselves down under the label of 'society'. "God hates divorce"... well HE hates a whole lot of other things like bitterness and anger. Now I may be wrong, but most people that 'endure' marriages carry a lot of grudge and bitterness so what's the point?
    Thelma... I believe in LEAVING for the kids! A negative environment is no place to raise any child.
    And in my opinion a woman that's married to the kind of man described above, is in an abusive marriage if we want to look at it from the 'African setting'. After all, isn't it traditionally the man's job to provide for his home and win the 'bread'?
    This kind of issue just sets me off and I know it's sensitive to some people here so let me can it!
    Meanwhile, I had a bit of a dysfunctional childhood so when I say it's no way to raise any child, I know what I mean! I rest my case.

  14. Sometimes, leaving is simply the best thing to do. Most Men don't change that easily unless it hits them hard. Leaving is nt always about divorce, av seen couples seperated for sometime who are back and better ...better for themselves and for their kids.

  15. Came late 2 d dinning table. What's left 2 add? Jes gonna read comments


  16. a lot of guys wont marry a girl from a broken family. especially igbo and some calabar guys. its a big deal.
    a lot of mothers stay because of that simple reason.
    the idea is they would leave once the kids are married and settled

  17. I am not married and my opinions might not matter but let me just say that, what ever situation you find yourself always do what's best for you.
    If you are in a marriage where things don't work, you suffer physically, emotionally Nd mentally, the best thing to do is to do the best for yourself. You can't just endure because you think it's best for your kids? How is it best for your children when all they see is suffering? Ask yourself!
    The bible never mentioned anything about women dying in their marriage because of their children, in fact a man that can not provide for his family is worst than an infidel, that man is d very darkness himself and no woman should be seen with such!
    Every woman know what they want. You want to stay with a monster because of your children well your choice!

  18. I still think staying for d kids is worth it and I vehemently applaud mothers who re strong enof to endure jus for dia kids.. For dos who stay for fear of d comments from d outside world, fear of financial insecurity and d likes..Oh well, God gbaaaa unu ume to stay well


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