Stop that! You’re judging me. I can feel it. You took one look at that title and now you think I’m into some freaky stuff. Well, the truth is, I’m not even talking about myself. I’m talking about Towanda. You know Towanda, right? She’s one of singer Toni Braxton’s sisters and 1/5th of the cast of the new reality show Braxton Family Values. She admitted on the premiere episode that she and her husband date outside of their marriage.
She also said they sleep in separate beds and keep their extramarital activity from their children, so it sounds like the marriage has run its course as far as they’re concerned. Their only reason for staying together is to save the children the emotional stress of a divorce. Considering that divorce is known for having devastating effects on children that last well into adulthood, is there something to be said of a couple who is trying –granted, in a rather non-traditional way–to avoid such a fate?
I usually have definite positions on issues, but I’m not so sure here. On one hand, I am a firm believer in the sanctity of marriage and think dating (other people, that is) should be left to those who haven’t made a serious commitment to God and each other. On the other, I have to applaud them on at least recognizing and considering their children’s feelings and not rushing into something that has such dreaded potential. I disagree with what they’re doing, but understand why they’re doing it.
Still, though, I can’t help but wonder how it’s all going to turn out. I don’t know how old their children are, but if they’re over the age of 2, they probably already know their parents are sleeping in separate beds. Children are far more perceptive than adults usually realize. And these dates they’re going on, what could possibly come of those relationships? If either of them meets someone they really like, what’s the next step, to continue to date in secret forever? I’m just having trouble seeing how this type of setup would work out in the long run. There’s got to be another option, but what is it?
Should they continue what they’ve been doing, stop dating and stay unhappily married, or divorce and risk hurting the children? None of these options sound all that appealing, but more and more couples are finding themselves facing this crossroads. We can all probably think of at least one person who has stayed married only to keep the children happy. It may be a good friend or it may be you. This sounds good in theory (because it ensures that children don’t have to grieve the “loss” of a parent or their family) but it doesn’t take into account the fact that simply having both parents in the same house isn’t enough to afford children emotional stability.
One of the best things parents can give their children is a good relationship with the other parent. Not only does this give them a blueprint for how to treat their future spouses, but it also helps build a strong sense of self. When children see mommy and daddy getting along and treating each other with respect, they instinctively know that they deserve the same treatment. When children see that their parents obviously love each other, its so much easier for them to love themselves.
This brings me back to Towanda’s children. What are they seeing? Obviously not the infidelity (thank God), but what? Do they see happy parents, parents that are kind to each other, parents that at least pretend to love each other, or do they see disengaged parents who merely exist in the same space? I don’t know the atmosphere in their home, so I’m not making any assumptions or conclusions. I’m just questioning the environment they’ve created.
What do you think about this situation? Yay or nay? Thoughts, questions, opinions?