Questions & Answers: Relationships Department

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Please remember, this column is designed to help the consumer seeking behavioral-health information, and not intended to be any form of psychotherapy or a replacement for professional, individualized services. Opinions expressed in the column are those of the columnist and do not represent the position of other SH&P staff.

You are invited to read previous questions and answers below; and if your area of interest isn't covered, submit a question of your own.

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Question

After twelve years of marriage and three children, I unexpectedly fell in love with another woman. We've been involved for over a year and I'm planning on getting a divorce. I want to live with her, but I'm afraid it will be too hard on the children, all of whom are in elementary school, for me to move them into a lesbian household. Would it be better for them if I stay married? Thanks for your help.

Answer

You've asked a question that doesn't have any simple answer. It's important to remember that divorce is rarely easy for children. That's true regardless of what relationships, if any, their parents have after the divorce. In addition, no one can know whether it would be better for them if you stayed in a marriage that was no longer working instead of ending it. I suggest you educate yourself on how to help children through these kinds of situations and make sure their needs are being met.

You wonder if it will be too hard on the children to be in a lesbian household. The hardest part will be adjusting to the new person in your life, particularly if that person is in a stepparent role, not to that person's gender. Again, I recommend you educate yourself about how to deal with this type of change. The fact that it will be a lesbian household is relevant mostly because they may encounter prejudice from other children and adults. There are a variety of resources available about how to handle this problem.

Take a look at our Divorce and Children's Departments, then at our links pages for additional references.

09/16/98

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