Ask Stavroula: I Want to Divorce But Stay in the Marriage for My Children

The National Herald Archive

Dear Stavroula,

I am 40 years old, married for 10 years and father of two children. My wife and I have had more bad times than good. We have talked several times lately about trying to change all that, but in fact no one is trying. It is now an open secret that we stay together for our children. I would like to divorce but I hesitate, first and foremost for the children as I want to keep them near me. Secondly, I do not have self-esteem although I get enough flirting – I consider myself ugly and I think that if I divorce I will not be able to find another partner as my wife no longer wants me romantically and emphasizes only the negative elements of my character. There is no more trust on my part as I know that she is chatting with another man via the internet, though she says they are only friends, something I do not believe. I still love my wife and I think she loves me, too, but it is not enough. I feel that this whole situation will never change and at worst it negatively affects our children. I would like your advice.


Dear Christos,

Every divorce is a painful process for both parties, even for the one who may want a divorce. It is a loss that is often experienced as mourning and it takes time for the wounds to heal.

The divorce becomes even more difficult for the Greek father, because apart from everything else, the contact with his children also changes. He becomes the weekend father who often has to deal with distancing or the changing behavior of his children, who can also experience their parents’ divorce and the breakup of the family traumatically.

That is why even in cases where the family with children is dysfunctional, it is very important that both parties sincerely try to reverse the situation. In order for this effort to be effective, however, it is necessary not only for both sides to agree, but also for a coordinated effort to be made, perhaps with the help of an expert. As you have already seen, simply discussing it with both partners is not effective, especially if their communication is already problematic.

So this might be the first step you can take to help keep your family together, especially since you both still have feelings for each other.

This process will also help you better clarify other issues such as your role in this relationship dynamic and what you really want. What is the difference between wanting to stay in your marriage because you think there can be a relationship of respect, trust, and love again, and not wanting to divorce because you think you will not be able to move on in your life, and staying together only for the children?

If the latter is the case, it would be good to work on the issue of your self-esteem with a specialist, so that you understand why your self-image depends to such an extent on your spouse. Also, it would be good to think about what the relationship offers you with a person who systematically emphasizes only your negatives, as well as try to understand the reasons why she does it.

If indeed the relationship with your spouse has become toxic to you and you have stopped feeling good in it, and find out – after perhaps making a concerted effort with your spouse to save your relationship – that this marriage continues to malfunction for everyone, you may need to consider divorce.

For children both situations are difficult and painful. If your relationship with your spouse does not improve, you may need to choose the solution that will be best for everyone in the long run.