1. Is the decision to stay or leave ever absolute?
Of course not (assuming children). Many factors weigh on that decision - the gender of the non, the expected custody time you would hope to have with the children, the adjustments that would need to be made financially, the cost of doing so... the collateral damage (friends, family, employment impact). So many things. If children are not involved, I think that the decision, while not absolute, is much much easier.
2. There have been studies that show that kids who grow up in divorced homes have more problems in life than kids whose parents stay together. Would having a bpd/NPD parent (or other abusive parent) change this outlook?
I'm not qualified to say. Regardless of mental health issues, a household without love between the parents, with violence, without care and compassion, without rules and boundaries... will invariably end up negatively impacting the children.
3. Who here has "stayed for the kids" and believes they made the right decision?
I did (for a while) and I can't second-guess my decision. Ultimately, she's the one who pulled the plug. I stayed for "selfish" reasons (term used loosely). I knew, as a male and father, that the likelihood of having a major share, even an equal share, of custody would be tough to obtain (given all of the surrounding circumstances, details of which aren't necessary to re-divulge here). Over time, I really became indifferent to her existence in the home and focused my energies towards my children. I served as that "buffer" that many of us all try to be in these circumstances. For the most part, it worked. Also, for the most part, my expectations in terms of custody time were correct, too. It took 3+ years and my life's savings just to get to the point I am today... 50/50 - and the madness will not soon end.
I can certainly tell you that had *I* decided to pull the plug much earlier, it probably would have cost significantly less and I would have made fewer poor decisions that came with managing the household under those circumstances.
4. Who here "stayed for the kids" and wishes he/she would not have?
I don't know what would have happened... only guesses. I do feel that I "wasted" more years investing in getting the marriage righted, but most of those years I was unaware of what BPD was/is and that my efforts were futile.
5. How has divorce affected your kids (if you left)... and do you regret it? Or do you think it was the right decision?
It was absolutely the right decision because the BPD would have ultimately continued her escalations which, in an extreme case (and we've seen several here on the forums) - could have left disastrous results for me (and the children) had I been left in a position for those things to possibly occur.
6. If you stayed (either are still together or until the kids are older), how have your kids been affected?
7. If you left, do you think your kids have been harmed by the friction between you and the ex? Would the situation have been better for your kids without the "two homes" thing?
Well, they're subjected to two different parenting styles. That's a problem because they understand the expectations in one home (with care, discipline, and love) and no well-defined expectations in the other (little discipline, if any, and a mom who buys their love and still rages inappropriately when faced with stressful situations).
Yes, I think that they've been harmed because as they get older, they're aware that things "aren't good" between us and that must be quite sad for children who want nothing more than to be with two parents who love and care for one another. There is a profound sense of failure or gloom associated with "knowing" that the people who brought you into this world really don't like each other very much.
No, I don't think that the situation would have been better without the "two-homes" thing because that would mean that the two parents are still together under atrocious circumstances... and no matter how much you think you're "managing" the situation appropriately - the situation is not appropriate and still is atrocious.
8. Regardless of whether you stayed or left, if your kids are teenagers or older, do you regret your decision? Or think it was the right thing to do? What advice would you give other parents (with younger kids) in similar situations?
Staying in a horrible situation gives you the "opportunity" to:
- Grow up in a horrible situation.
- Learn how not to treat people you are supposed to love and care about.
- Fails to put them in a position to learn how a "normal," loving relationship is supposed to work.
Those are life lessons that are hard to teach later in life and (in my opinion) - you are setting them up for failures (to varying degrees) in relationships later in life.
While it won't be a lot easier having left - you are in a better position to teach them the right stuff.
9. If you are a man, do you believe that leaving your marriage means leaving your kids?
Yes. Because the family court system remains horribly biased against men/fathers - and you leave knowing the deck is stacked against you. If you choose to escape this horrible relationship for the benefit of you and your children - you do so knowing that you have an incredibly difficult fight on your hands to spend meaningful time with your children and putting them in a position to learn about how to treat others. You fear you're a failure because you know that there is an inherent risk that they will have to spend MORE time ALONE with a person you find to be a horrible person and with little hope that there are ways out there to see her get healthy.
Probably the worst thing I heard in the aftermath of our split was If she's so horrible, why would you leave your kids with her?
...even from some in my own family.
That's the price paid by the BPD's inate ability to manage their "public/private personna."