Through the years I have received hundreds of thank you letters for my coaching services. The letter I received this month from Richard will always be one of my favorites. His letter highlighted for me what is hanging in the balance when we have children. I want to share his letter with you to highlight the reality that our children are constantly watching and learning from us. Here is what Richard wrote:
Dear Mr. Rispoli,
We have never met but I have heard your name plenty of times in the past two years. My name is Richard and you worked with my Mom and Dad two years ago in our home. I was fifteen years old and starting my Junior year of High School. Prior to your coming my Mom and Dad were constantly fighting and were on the verge of divorce. Our world was falling apart. Our home was being blasted apart and everything seemed so hopeless. I though for sure they were going to divorce and I was going to have to choose who I would live with. It was the worst time of my life. After you came everything changed. It was like my parents fell back in love. Thank you for saving my parents marriage. I head to college in the Fall and I know that my Mom and Dad are going to be OK. This makes me happy and I wanted to say thank you.
I want to make two observations about Richard’s letter. The first is how he was feeling in the midst of his parent’s crisis. He uses words like falling apart, blasted apart and hopeless. His fear of having to decide which parent he might have to live with is especially telling. This young persons’ life was in shambles because of his parents fighting and the instability in the home.
The second observation I want to make about Richard’s letter is his comment about my saving his parent’s marriage. The truth is, I did not save his parents marriage, his parents saved their marriage. They saved their marriage the day they decided that while it would be easier for them to divorce and go their own separate ways, they would fight for their marriage and for their family. They saved their marriage the day they told their friends who were telling them that Richard would be better off if they separated, that the advice to divorce for the sake of Richard was the worst advice they had ever received. They saved their marriage the day they decided to stop fighting with each other and together they started to fight for the marriage. They saved their marriage the day they decided to positively move forward and stop focusing on the past. They saved their marriage the day they decided to reach out and get help. For Richard’s sake, I am so glad they did.
The trajectory of Richard’s life will be incredibly different and much better because they decided to save their marriage. If you are in a marriage crisis and you have children, I am certain that people are telling you that your children will be fine and that kids are resilient. I am certain that people are telling you that you should never stay in a bad marriage for the sake of the kids. I am saying, don’t stay in a bad marriage period. Make a commitment to make it better. Like Richard, you will be glad you did, and so will your children! Please share this post with any of your friends who have children and may be thinking about ending their marriage. It might just be the source of inspiration to give them the will to fight for their marriage.