Dear Dr. Bill,
In the middle of marital struggles with my husband, we became pregnant. Despite this, my husband announced that he wants a divorce. Since I am originally from Europe, I’m considering a move back home rather than staying in this country where I have friends but no family. But I wonder if this is the best decision for my child.
My heart goes out to you in this very difficult situation. But I would encourage you not to give up hope. Because you are under such a great deal of stress, now is not the time to making major decisions. Give yourself some time and space to think through all of the alternatives available to you.
The research on divorce shows that if couples will slow down the process and seek outside professional help, many marriages can be saved. Although it may feel to you or your husband that divorce is the only option, in reality it’s not.
The fact is that children do better on every measure of well-being if they grow up in a home with a married mother and father. Even if a marriage is less than perfect, staying together is always better for your kids than getting a divorce. The one exception would be in cases of domestic violence or abuse.
If your husband has no desire to reconcile but is willing to take an active role in your child’s life, I would encourage not to you not to move back to Europe. Fatherlessness has profoundly negative impacts on children, and your son needs his dad.
On the other hand, your husband refuses to take responsibility for parenting his son, moving back to Europe to live with your extended family may be the best option. A loving grandfather or uncle can’t replace your son’s father, but they can certainly give him the male attention and affirmation he so desperately needs.
Thanks for writing Heide. If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Culture Connection page.