04/05/2011 09:23 am ET Updated Jun 05, 2011

Can Divorce Be For The Sake Of The Children?

Ever hear of the saying, "Let's stay together for the sake of the children?" Couples who are in bad marriages will say that over and over again.

You are staying together for the sake of the children. Really? Why, so the children can have two parents who don't get along, and so they can grow up in a dysfunctional home run by two parents who can't show love for one another?

I have been a relationship coach for a long time. Whenever anyone says to me that they are staying in a bad marriage for the sake of the children, I always have the same reaction.

I look at them and say, "I don't care what you have done for your child. I don't care if you have fed them the best and most nutritious food. I don't care if you rock them to sleep every night, and stayed up with them all night when they were sick. Those are wonderful things to do for a child, of course. You can nurture a child to death and do all sorts of great things for them."

"Do you realize, though, how children learn to love? They learn how to love a partner by watching their parents interact with each other. That is how children learn how to love. That is how children learn to communicate in relationships when they get older."

One of the greatest things couples can do when they come in the door, is to run to their spouse and kiss them (and not the children) first. The child who sees this will start to see how you treat someone with whom you are in love.

How many of you when you first walk in the door, will greet your child (or children), pet the dog and even grab some nuts out of the refrigerator before you will even go over and kiss your spouse? Your kids see this -- and they see it every time you do it.

You learned it somewhere. Now they are learning it from you.

So when you "stay together for the sake of the kids," you are basically making all the mistakes that a lot of other people have made. It may be the same mistakes your parents made, and that is why you don't know how to show love.

I know this post is going to anger some people. I know it will make some people very upset, and they will say that I don't know what I'm talking about here. I do know what I'm talking about here, because I have seen this scenario time and time again.

You can send your kids to all the best schools. You can take your kids on the best vacations. You can buy your kids the best toys.

If you and your spouse don't love each other, and you don't display love for one another, then that is what your child is going to learn about love and how to treat someone in a relationship as they move forward in life.

How do you think we all got so screwed up in our interpersonal relationships? We got this screwed up because this is what we saw as kids.

Some of us are really lucky to have amazing parents who were in love with each other. For many people, though, they were products of dysfunctional families in which they saw (and learned) these behaviors.

Children are great mimickers. Kids mirror their parents' actions, and learn their speaking style from their parents. They will treat others the way they see their parents treating people.

Have you ever seen a child who has a strong dislike for something, even though they have never experienced it? That is usually a dislike of one or both of their parents that they are mimicking.

So the next time someone tells you they are staying together for the sake of the children, open their eyes. Tell them that it is better to have one parent to love a child and show then the right way to love, than to have two parents showing a child the wrong way to love someone.