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My dad cheated on my mom when she was pregnant with my brother. I know because I’ve heard them arguing. My dad is gone a lot overnight and weekends. I can tell my mom doesn’t know where he is. She tries to pretend, apparently for my brother and I. I hate it. It’s so obvious there is no reason for them to stay together. They’re really unhappy. She earns a lot more and pays all of the bills except his credit card. I’ve heard them arguing about that, too. How can I convince my mom not to stay married? I love my parents, but I hate them together. We’ve never done anything as a family, so what difference would it make, anyway?
An extraordinary difference, actually. Your mom would have to dismantle her belief system around what it means to be good: a good mother, a good wife and a good human being. Much of what we learn about goodness is rooted in the beliefs of ancient tribal religions and the work of those religions to build communities and nation-states. As citizens, we agree to learn and abide by the rules and laws of our communities. Through spirituality, we understand that circumstances occasionally require us to hold rules and laws lightly—or ditch them completely. Here’s a rule your mom must reconsider: Marriage is forever. Now, a lighter perspective: When marriage is no longer a union of two lives into one, or when marriage is a container for abuse, addiction or adultery, try counseling or begin divorce proceedings.
Many people have been conditioned to believe that the death of a marriage means they have failed at something important. My perspective is that a divorce is a life experience. It contains stress, anxiety, relief, freedom, trauma and healing, as do many other life experiences. Securing a divorce or being divorced does not mean that a person is good or bad. Being married does not mean that a person is good or living right. Marriage is not a life achievement that signifies success. Marriage is a life experience and a lifestyle choice. Choose it, or don’t.
It’s valuable for you to understand these deeper issues so you can date and experience intimate relationships without repeating the pattern your parents have forged. Ah, yes, your parents. Trying to convince them to divorce seems exhausting. Instead, why not use their crisis for your own spiritual evolution? As a teenager, you are an adult-in-training. That means it is acceptable to practice addressing your mother as an equal, as long as you are respectful and compassionate. Like this: “Mom, if you are staying with dad because you believe it’s better for me, please stop. You are unhappy. Dad is unhappy. What is it that you want me to learn from you about marriage?” Have the same conversation with your dad. Then, look around you and tune into adults in healthy relationships, the kind of commitments you might like to experience someday. Notice the skills that make those relationships work. Then pour your energy into developing in yourself the skill set that your parents lack.