THE BLOG

Should You (or Anthony Weiner's wife) Stay For the Sake of the Kids?

06/10/2011 12:03 pm ET | Updated Aug 10, 2011

Staying together for the sake of the kids has become one of those discredited, old-fashioned notions that are easily dismissed when couples consider divorce. Somehow we've managed to rationalize to ourselves that divorce is OK for kids; that they would be hurt more if we stayed together and were unhappy, than if we divorced. This rationalization is convenient for the divorcing couples, but in fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Numerous studies support the evidence that divorce is traumatic for children, and affects them negatively for the rest of their lives.

That said, in some cases the kids are better off if their parents divorce--depending on the situation. Sometimes the line is clear. If there's physical abuse, alcoholism, severe emotional or verbal abuse it's probably best to dissolve the marriage. But how about infidelity? I believe the French have it right when it comes to infidelity. You can't stamp it out, people will stray, we're all human, but, while having an affair is acceptable in France, you're supposed to keep it a secret and limit your emotional involvement. Leaving your family for your lover is strongly frowned upon. Sexting strangers over the internet when you're a public official is totally unacceptable. The French solution is far from ideal, but at least it limits the damage.

Is it okay to divorce because you've "fallen out of love?" When love conquers all, the prisoners of war are usually the innocent victims--the kids. How about a lot of arguments? The fiction that children are better off in a home without strife is just that--a fiction. Kids want their parents together, even if they don't get along so well. My kid certainly did.

Still, I'd have to advise Anthony Weiner's wife, Huma Abedin, to get out while her child is still in the womb and won't be traumatized by the breakup of her family. No one wants to leave the father of her child when she's pregnant, but if there's a good reason to assume that divorce is inevitable down the line, leaving as soon as possible will spare the child the most pain.

In this case, there's a very good reason to assume that Weiner won't change. Supposedly Abedin knew about Weiner's sexting tendencies before they married, and accepted his explanation that he would stop after marriage. That was wishful thinking. Women (and men) tend to delude themselves that marriage will somehow change their mate's character. In fact, if your intended lacks integrity before marriage, he or she will not miraculously become honorable afterward. The reverse is more likely. Unless something drastic happens, like a near-death experience, or years of therapy, dishonesty is not a character defect that goes away on its own.

If she's wise enough to leave now, the beautiful and accomplished Abedin will likely marry again, hopefully having learned the hard way to avoid unscrupulous politicians and other sleazebags. Maybe she'll find herself a Barack Obama type this time around.