Should I Leave My Marriage if I Have Kids

by Lauren Hawekotte


The other day I was watching one of my favorite movies, Interstellar.  Anyone who knows me well knows that I have a love of time-travel, astrophysics, and all other “mysteries of the universe,” so it’s only natural that Interstellar is right at the top of my movie list…and it doesn’t hurt that Matthew McConaughey plays the lead role!

However, it was not the subject matter that caught my attention while watching that day. It was a particular scene in the movie that brought me to tears.  Those who know me also know that I’m a pretty tough on the outside, but a mushy ball of emotions on the inside. That emotion occasionally creeps out, particularly in movies, where you may find me slinking down the arm of the chair or couch so I can cover my tear soaked face (think the first time watching E.T. as a child…anyone else?!).

To set the stage of the movie if you haven’t seen it, the landscape of Earth is changing, and it’s posing an imminent threat to human survival.  Matthew McConaughey’s character is a former NASA pilot and widower with two children, roughly the ages of 13 and 16, who, like everyone else, is doing his best to survive the dust storms taking over.  Through a series of mysterious events, he finds himself the world’s best hope of piloting an interstellar flight in search of an inhabitable galaxy outside our own.

Impossible Situation

It’s an impossible situation – he has to choose between leaving his children, quite possibly for good, in search of a better life for them, for the future of humanity, or staying and sentencing them to the certainty of no future on our planet.

The scene typically brings me to tears, as it would any parent thinking about leaving their children and possibly never seeing them again or anyone thinking about saying goodbye to their parent the way his children had to (or any sappy mush ball like me!). However, that day I saw the scene slightly differently than I had in the past. I related the character’s decision to leave to the way I felt when trying to decide whether I was going to stay in my marriage or not.

In those moments, I felt faced with an impossible situation – I could choose to stay in my marriage and provide my children with what I thought would be a hopeless, yet certain future, or I could leave my marriage in search of a better life for them…not knowing exactly what I would find.

Fear and Worry

I remember fearing that people would think I was selfish, which this character was accused of, when, in fact, he was being selfless in many ways.  His only goal was to do what he had to do to give his children a future. Even if it meant sacrificing everything.  Even if it meant making his kids sad as a part of the process.

Fortunately, I didn’t have the weight of the future of humanity on my shoulders, but, wow, some days it certainly felt like I did.  And, truthfully, though I’m confident that my decision to leave my marriage was the right one, there are still days where I worry about the fallout of that decision.

Grateful for a Beautiful Life

I’ll never know the repercussions I may have saved my children from by avoiding that “certain yet hopeless” future. “Planet Earth” may not have turned out the way I had hoped, but I choose to be grateful for the beautiful life I am creating for them…wherever that may be.