I am a man who has been married for over 20 years. I messed up in every way and we are separated. I feel the need to rekindle as our children are involved and they are negatively affected. I really need to save them. What can I do?
Marital relationships do have challenges, and sometimes one partner messes up for whatever reason. I assume this has to do in some way with unfaithfulness on your part. When one partner decides to engage in acts of unfaithfulness, the hope is that the spouse won't find out, and little thought is given to the children. But after a while the secret is exposed and the relationship starts going south. As in your case, sometimes the situation gets so bad that one partner leaves the home. The negative impact on the children grows even worse.
You did not state the ages of your children, but unless the marital relationship is seriously impaired, children usually prefer to have their parents together. Children are affected to different degrees depending on their ages, and the offending partner would be held responsible for the fallout in the family.
You have indicated that you are concerned about the children and how the separation has affected them, and that this is your main motivation for wanting to restore the marital relationship. Although this is well-intentioned, the relationship itself must be addressed. What are the issues that might have led you to mess up? Are those issues still present?
Some couples often choose to remain in dysfunctional relationships for the children's sake. This may do more harm than good, as the children will sense the tension between their parents and react in some unfavourable way.
The priority must be on trying to resolve the relational issues. The children would be happy to know that their parents are making efforts to deal with the marital problems and would offer moral support.
So as you contemplate rekindling the marriage, do it because you want to, and not for the children alone. Once you sort out the problems in the relationship, the matter of the children will be addressed simultaneously.
If, however, there is no resolution, then a mutual plan of co-parenting must be discussed and agreed on.
All the best.
Wayne Powell is a relationship counsellor. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org; check out his work overseas on www.seekingshalom.org, e-mail email@example.com.