Creating A New Type of Marriage
The first Monday in January can be a challenging day for most people. The merriment and celebration of the holiday season has drawn to a close and it’s time to head back to the reality of the office. But for divorce lawyers, the day has another significance and is commonly referred to as “Divorce Monday”. It’s typical for married couples, especially those with children, to wait until after the holidays to divorce and January proves to be one of the busiest months for filings.
So, why is January such a popular month for divorce, particularly for couples with kids? The obvious answer is that most parents stay together during the holidays so it isn’t ruined for the children. Others may have expectations that things in their marriage will improve if they can make it through the holidays. And other couples may hope that the holiday season will bring them closer together through shared time with family and friends. When improvement doesn’t occur, the beginning of a New Year can be thought of as a time of change and new beginnings. And that’s when divorce lawyers’ phones start ringing.
There’s no question that divorce is painful and it can be particularly stressful and difficult if children are involved. If a relationship has dissolved to the point of terrible fighting and animosity towards one another, it can be worse for children if the parents stay in the relationship. However, there is an emerging trend that more parents are starting to explore. It’s called Parenting Marriage and it’s an option that some couples are looking at before pursuing divorce.
What is Parenting Marriage? Simply put, it’s a non-romantic union centered around raising children. Spouses are changing their relationship from friend, lover, and co-parent to co-parent exclusively. For six years, San Francisco-area therapist, Susan Pease Gadoua has worked with couples that wish to change their traditional marriage into parenting marriage and she’s seeing an increase in the number of spouses exploring the option before turning to divorce. It’s widely believed that a two-parent household holds an advantage over two single-parent households and there are some couples that can renegotiate the terms of their marriage and continue to parent together effectively.
With Parenting Marriage, couples are free to create the terms of their relationship (ie- splitting of finances, sleeping arrangements, etc), but they first have to agree that their romantic relationship is over and their marriage is strictly focused on co-parenting in a way that works best for the kids.
Until this point, there have been only a few options for couples that know their marriage is over, but can’t bring themselves to divorce and be apart from their children. They can choose to stay unhappy in the marriage to provide the kids a stable home, work harder on the marriage through therapy, or divorce and accept that they won’t see their children every day. Parenting Marriage may not be an option (or an attractive alternative) for some couples, but it is an interesting trend that seems to be gaining popularity.