A 2009 study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found that the rate of decline in relationship satisfaction almost doubles if a couple has children.
Another 2008 study, this time in the Journal of Family Psychology, found that relationship issues are worsened even more if the pregnancy is unplanned.
A recent Reddit post breathed life into those unfortunate statistics with a story shared by a parent in the throes of her separation. Yes, she had a kid early on and yes, he is very much an influential dynamic.
Known as sweetangelonearth on Reddit, the divorce-bound mother shared all the details in a post on the “Am I the A**hole (AITA)” subReddit, where a story is put before the greater online community, who then share their takes and judgments on all the people and decisions that were made.
One note: sweetangelonearth posted her story before doing the deed in question, so it was more of a “Would I Be the A**hole (WIBTA)” situation.
According to her post, it all began over a decade ago when she married young.
“Me and my husband have had some talks about this, but I think he is trying to fight the idea. It’s going to happen either way.”
“I don’t care if he agrees or not. I’m just done and honestly I think it is my sons fault.”
“We got married at a youngish age, he was 22 and I was 20 after about a year or so of dating. After a year, I had my son.”
“We didn’t expect to have a child so early but we kind of just winged the parenting thing for over a decade.”
Then a more recent calamity came when her son reached his teenage years.
“Fast forward to about 10 months ago. Our son’s a sophomore in high school and decided to pull a ‘prank’ with the seniors but went too far.”
“It resulted in a lot of damages but no one was hurt. I don’t want to get into the details of this prank because the local news covered it.”
“The seniors gave their accounts and it seems that my son was the main driver behind what happened. It eventually got to court and as awful as it is, I thought that he should face the consequences, but my husband wanted to fight it.”
“The lawyer really drained us. Financially ruined drained us.”
“At the end of it all, my son’s getting away with a slap on the wrist compared to what was initially stated.”
Those emotional and financial strains went on to become a crushing weight.
“The last half year has been hell for me and put such a strain on my marriage that I don’t think it can be salvaged. We’ve gone into debt through this whole ordeal.”
“We’re kind of the gossip of the town. I couldn’t even go to a neighborhood event before [the pandemic] with everyone just talking about me.”
In fact, the ramifications of her son’s ordeal were the driving force behind her and her husband’s decision to call it quits.
“This wasn’t the first time our son has put a strain on us but just a final straw for me. I just want to start fresh.”
“I don’t plan on fighting for custody, my husband can keep him. I failed him as a parent at this point.”
“There’s nothing to fight over in the divorce we are spent. I just want out.”
At the close of the post, she asked the age old question—if honesty, in this particular situation, not be the best policy.
“Here’s the WIBTA part. If it comes up, like my son asks why the divorce is happening or why I’m leaving, WIBTA To tell him that he is the main reason?”
“Obviously not the only reason but he is the biggest factor at least for me and I don’t feel like I should tip toe around the truth.”
Reddit felt that was a terrible idea for a variety of reasons. The following couple acronyms were hot on everybody’s lips.
- YTA — “You’re the A**hole”
- YWBTA — “You Would Be the A**hole”
Many responses simply imagined how hard that would be for a sophomore in high school to hear.
“Yeah Billy, I just hate you so much I decided I no longer want to be a parent. Your dad can have full custody. I’m leaving. Bye!”
“Like that won’t totally crush him. YTA” — IridianRaingem
“YTA. My mother told me when I was a teenager that if her and my father ever got divorced it’d be my fault.”
“20 years later and I STILL have issues because of it. Both with her and with my own relationships. They didn’t get divorced either.”
“Get counseling. You can still be better. Don’t mess your kid up more than you already have.” — LB4184
“Sounds like your son is screaming for your attention. YWBTA if you just leave.” — momof4nohelp
“YTA Just tell him you and his dad can’t fix what’s wrong. You’ll regret saying that to him some day.” — Conan_the_Lieberryan
“Yes, YWBTA. Be the bigger person. Saddling the boy’s conscience with destroying your marriage is inhumane.”
“Besides, it’s equally that you’re mad at your husband for not agreeing with your idea of what should happen to your son.” — UnsightlyFuzz
That last sentiment was another common take on her situation.
Several other responses felt she was placing the blame for the marriage’s downfall in the wrong place.
“I’ve got news for you: your son is not why you’re getting divorced. It’s because you’re a coward who doesn’t take responsibility for their own life, blames a child for their problems and then abandons that child.”
“YTA in the most major way.” — lightwoodorchestra
“YTA — You’re getting a divorce because you and your husband couldn’t deal with a crisis your son caused. NOT because of your son. YOUR RELATIONSHIP could not deal. Don’t be a monster.” — Calmandwise
“You say you failed as a parent but you blame your kid for the fact that you’re getting divorced? Doesn’t that mean that you’re the reason you’re getting a divorce – because you failed as a parent?”
“YTA for wanting to blame your kid instead of taking responsibility for your bad parenting.” — Talja_01
“YTA. Even in this short post you show a lot of resentment for the fact your son was born. If strangers can see that, it’s likely your son did as well. So maybe he acts out in an excessive fashion because of that.”
“Also, couples survive their children dying, ruining their own lives with drug addictions, criminal activity etc. While your son’s actions put you in a less than ideal situation, the fact you and your husband couldn’t work through it is on you guys.” — judge1492
Some Redditors assumed other slightly different motives, none of them more forgiving.
” ‘Ahh sh*t. I don’t like this kid anymore. Too expensive. I’ll try again after I dispose of this one.’ YTA.” — fhixes
“YTA, you sound like the person you don’t love anymore is your son. This is so incredibly sad. This knowledge may be slightly harder for him to deal with than the neighbors gossiping at local events.” — Originalhumanbeatbox
“For some reason I feel like you’re having an affair and looking for an easy way out. YTA big time.” — chrisy1995
That last comment, and others like it, drew some serious ire from the original poster.
She said as much in a couple of updates to her post.
“Update: I am sick of people trying to destroy my marriage please stop accusing me of having an affair. This was a bad idea.”
“Update: I have tried to explain. More of my situation but it seems that commenters have a bias against independent mothers and begun accusing me of having an affair. I have not committed infidelity/adultery and any notion of that is baseless.”
Though apparently many other comments did hit home for her.
She posted a couple of additional updates sharing her revelations and how she plans to act on them.
“Update: after numerous attempts to clarify I think the majority have spoken. I’ll try to speak with my son and husband regarding some therapy or counseling. I’ll try to set up rules for him but me too but I am not sure what rules would apply to me.”
“This has shown that I am woefully not self aware and need their input to be better as a wife and mother. Thank you for all your opinions and I hope to be better. and I will end any ongoing companionship.”
“Update: me and my husband talked and we will have a family meeting tonight after my son gets home from his community service.”
And so, the dynamics of internet feedback were all accounted for.
Hopefully this family can reconcile, even if the marriage ends.