Whatever pleasures I took in my new single status — and they were unquestionably present although not unalloyed — the hurt I saw in my children outweighed them (though not, admittedly, enough to make me regret the separation). To watch my eldest daughter try to force me to kiss my now ex-wife once more to bring us together; to watch her chase my car down the street as my allotted weekend terminated. Her doomed, powerless attempts to reconstruct a relationship that she could not accept as lost left me barren for I was forced to acknowledge her grief. For any parent, that is the sharpest barb.
Even after the decree absolute in 2001 had put the final seal on the end of our relationship — and even though everything was finished between us, it was a truly bleak day when that brutal document slumped like a body on the doorstep — I believed that I had done the right thing, or if not the right thing, then kept true to an inevitable course.
Yet perhaps the worst thing that one has to acknowledge with a divorce is the fact of one’s essential selfishness. I would tell myself again and again that my children wouldn’t want to grow up as part of an unhappy marriage, but I find it hard nowadays to subscribe to that comforting belief.
I think children would rather you stay together, outside of the fact of physical violence, under almost all circumstances. The truth is, I put my psychological self-preservation in front of the welfare of my children. I deemed my need for self-respect and hope and dignity within marriage greater than their need for a two-parent household.
My children would have suffered in a different way if we had stayed together — witness to who knows how many sullen rows and blazing battles — but I still think they would have chosen it.
You can read the full article here
Tim Lott’s new novel, Under the Same Stars, is published by Simon & Schuster on March 29