What *Is* A “Broken Home”?

A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the various ways parental alienation can take place.  In that post, I linked to a rather disturbing audio track which displayed how alienation can be initiated while a marriage is still “intact”.  The video has since been revised and you can see the newest version here:

In the comment thread of the original post, the creator of the video made a statement which was quite profound.  I considered his content from a new perspective when he said,

…why didn’t I walk away earlier from somebody so obviously abusive? The answer in part is my religious background, where divorce is heavily frowned upon, and in part my desire not to have my kids grow up in a “broken home.” What I now realize in retrospect is that my home was already broken.

His home was already broken.  How many couples endure abuse, depression and isolation because they want to spare their children the trauma of a “broken home”?  In the past, I’ve written to say that I don’t believe in “broken homes” as they relate to divorce.  But I hadn’t thought of the phrase in relation to marriage.

I think I was wrong.  We shouldn’t discard the terminology but rather rethink the meaning and give it a new application.  “Broken” typically means that something needs to be fixed.  I think that definition can easily apply to any household, regardless of marital status.

I realize I’m making a scary proposition.  Who among the proud married folk wants to look within and see that something is wrong?  It’s much easier to point outward and say “Divorce is wrong!”  I understand.  I spent some time in that mindset, albeit briefly.  Unfortunately, if one can’t see what’s truly broken,  it’s kinda hard to fix it.

Bottom line:  if kids are hearing Mom and Dad say things like, “you’re worse than Satan”, it’s a bad situation.

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Posted in children of divorce, divorce and tagged , , .


  1. Of course you are right: many “intact” marriages and families are broken. Whenever I read statistics about how many people are married or how many households comprise married couples (with or without kids) or how long marriages last, all I can think is that the statistic is irrelevant. At least from a personal and psychological and emotional perspective, the only relevant question is “how many of those marriages are healthy, both for the spouses in them and the children modeling them?” Perhaps from a sociological perspective we care about keeping marriages, even unhealthy ones, intact because it is one way to order our society (people, mostly non-working spouses aka wives) get benefits like healthcare, etc), but that is a lazy way to organize society in my opinion. A more difficult, but ultimately more powerful way, is to give each person the tools (education, training, encouragement) and the opportunities (even playing field, readily available childcarr and other support) to fulfill his or her own dreams and life. In that world, people would enter and remain in marriages only because they WANT to, not because they need to.

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