Divorce is Immature and Selfish According to Penelope

I’ve subscribed to Penelope Trunk’s blog for about a year now, and, today, this post entitled, Divorce is Immature and Selfish. Don’t Do It., caught my attention. The title was probably more impactful today, because of some recent developments in my own divorce. I can happily say there appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.

I can’t say I entirely agree or disagree with Penelope. Overall, it’s a good post with a lot of well-made points.

Do I think STBex was selfish in his decision to want a divorce? Absolutely YES! In fact, I’m still a little angry at how deceitful and self-centered I feel he was about the whole thing. Will I ultimately be better off by him leaving? Definitely. The big difference, however, to my marriage and PT’s arguments on marriage is that STBex and I had no children together.

My kids were already teenagers by the time STBex came into our lives, and they never really developed any deep relationships or respect for him.

In fact, last night, I asked K2 if he was angry that STBex left. His response was, “Where did that come from? I don’t give a shit about STBex. STBex was an asshole!”

So, will my kids be better off now that I’m getting a divorce? Yes, probably.

Which brings me to the part of Penelope’s post that I don’t agree with…the idea that people in abusive marriages should just stick it out for the kids.


I can happily say that I have never been in a physically abusive relationship, and I owe a great deal to my mother for that fact. If my mother had not had the courage and the audacity to risk her life and the lives of her children to escape her marriage, thereby ending the cycle of violence, I would not be the woman I am today.

The destruction caused by violent marriages is rarely, if ever, isolated to the two spouses involved.

What about the children in violent marriages? Do you think they don’t end up abused too?

On that point, shame on you, Penelope Trunk.


  1. epic_honey says

    I read a couple of relevant blog entries by Ms. Trunk. I am a domestic abuse survivor myself. She makes a couple of points worth thinking about, but overall, I’d say the woman is cuckoo, nuts, waayyy off.

    • says

      Yeah, I agree that people get divorced far too easily and children oftentimes bear a huge emotional cost, but her argument that people should stay in violent marriages for the children doesn’t hold water.

  2. says

    I agree with you about abuse. No one should stay in an abusive marriage. That especially goes for marriages with children. The kids see their parents and emulate them. If you don’t wnat your kids to suffer abuse, don’t stay in an abusive marriage. It’s just that simple to me.

  3. says

    Yes, Ms. Trunk is way off base when referring to violent marriages. She obviously has missed out on the experience. I left my kids’ abusive dad 18 years ago and never looked back. Yes, I was the one who was foolish enough to marry such a man and actually have children with him, but to frame my decisions, I was the product of an abusive childhood. Ms Trunk is completely wrong when she says a woman will just go from one violent relationship to the next, so why bother leaving? When I left, I met the love of my life, who was more of a father to my kids than their dad ever could be. Those were the best 8 years of my life, and my kids developed a tremendous respect and love for the man. He passed away 10 years ago, but the impact he had on our lives is here to stay. It would have been a horrible shame if my kids had spent their entire childhood in that abusive household with massively substandard parental role models. I have great kids, btw, all happy and successful in their own lives.

    • says

      Thank you for your comment. The interesting thing about Ms. Trunk is that if you follow the link to her December post on the violence within her own marriage, she has a picture of her own bruises. Sadly, it seems she’s very close to the issue, so close, in fact, that maybe she can’t make good decisions right now.

      Hindsight is 20/20, isn’t it? There are some days when I find myself engaging in negative self talk, chastising myself for marrying STBex, but I will be wiser next time. I can already see that from what I’ve learned by doing my dating prescription. I don’t believe I am doomed to fall for the same type of man next time around. Your second husband sounds wonderful, and I’m glad you were brave enough to leave and find someone better for you and your children.

      • says

        I apologize for jumping to conclusions. That said, I am even more flabbergasted at her statements regarding violence. Surely she must know something of the psychological abuse that goes with the physical. It is difficult to regain mental and emotional health without removing oneself from the environment, in my opinion. However, from her statements, it seems she believes abuse is equally given by male and female partners. This, and her generous stance for abusers, makes me wonder if she was the abuser in her relationship.

  4. says

    I don’t agree with the post at ALL. I think Ms. Trunk has included a lot of narrow-minded, inflammatory information (backed up by very selective research) in a desperate attempt to defend her instability and to justify staying in an abusive relationship. On a public forum. I don’t believe in censorship, so I don’t oppose her sharing her views … but my God, how on earth does this crazy whackadoodle have such a following when she is so obviously cra cra crazy?

    Given all that she has shared on her blog about her personal issues (effed up childhood riddled with all sorts of abuse), her own mental instability and depression (like when she had to be hospitalized!), her first divorce and now her psychotic relationship with the farmer … she shouldn’t be writing ANY thing even remotely related to relationship “advice”.

    • says

      As I thought about her post more I started to wonder if The Farmer reads her blog. Since her advice seems so off-base, it made me think that maybe she needs to put on a public face that keeps him calm while believing something else internally. Unfortunately, I don’t think so. It was just my attempt to search for some sanity within the craziness.

  5. says

    One should never stay in a bad marriage / relationship. I left my ex when my daughter was 10 months. Hard yes. But smartest thing I ever done. Didn’t want my daughter growing up in a bad situation.

  6. ElderBaud says

    They say that in every divorce, there is one person leaving and one being left. The person leaving has already gone through an emotional journey and arrived at the decision to leave. But the one being left has no opportunity to come to that same resolution before the divorce is upon him or her. That difference in emotional state accounts for much of the acrimony connected to divorces.

    Ms. Trunk makes it clear right up front that she was the one being left, and she neither agreed with nor liked the decision. I read everything else she wrote within that context, as well as comparing it to my own divorce (and yes, i was the one leaving). She makes a few good points early on, but overall I have to say that I disagreed more than agreed with her overall thrust. Some of her arguments, especially the ones around career, felt like strawmen that could be easily toppled and/or too closely related to a few special circumstances that she knows about.

    I know that shuttling back and forth has been pretty unpleasant for my kids, made worse by the distance my ex decided to put between our homes. But I also know, as confirmed by one of my kids, that I am a WAY better father to them now than I ever was while married. Could I have just fixed it by changing myself within the marriage? No. One partner in a marriage can quite effectively create chaos.

  7. wowmom says

    I have not read any of Ms Trunk’s blogs, nor from the synopsis read in this blog and comments here do I think I wish to. Let’s just say, she is probably too close to the situation to see clearly at this point and the healing process is a long one.

    Thank You, dear daughter, for your kind & appreciative words. “Audacity” I like that word… BOLD…. DIFFERENT…. NOT GOING ALONG WITH THE NORM… and “Courage”…. Yep…. that was/is me.

    My Dad was kind, and gentle… I did not KNOW that men were abusive.. I thought all men were like my Daddy. I’d led a very sheltered life before marriage to the abuser.

    33 years ago in May… At that time, to my knowledge, which I learned later, there was only 1 safe house in the US. It was in New York City. That did not do us any good in NE Montana. It was all about timing, and the connections to have a network in place that would help and protect us, because I KNEW that once we left, we were NEVER going back. From the attorney who’d known me since I was about 3, the ranch family that checked with the Sheriff to see what their rights would be if they took us in, to the Principal at the school who met the bus in the morning and kept an eye out at night when you guys got back on, the bus driver with redhair whose kids I’d gone to school with myself, that would have taken the abuser on herself, the ranch family who were watching for you and your little brother to come back at night, while I worked to support us at a local grocery & hardware farm store, and the bosses who watched for me in the morning and made sure I was in my car at night, it all had to be in place to work well once I made the decision to make that break, because we were NEVER going to be IN THAT PHYSICAL abusive situation again. MY MIND was made up.

    The last straw before leaving, ( a lot of other little straws but the one that broke the camel’s back) was when both you and your brother qualified to go to the county spelling bee and you were denied that priviledge because of the power and control exerted over and over through the years and I took a terrible beating because of my determination that you guys deserved to go and you still had to stay home. That day, I made up my mind that NEVER again, would my kids, who worked so hard to get good grades, be DENIED to have the BEST LIFE THAT I COULD PROVIDE on MY OWN & I would DIE before ANYTHING STOPPED THAT.

    One may call it networking, coincidence, a higher power, —in my mind, God put different people in different places at the right time to make it all fall into place and WORK! You and your brother and my grandkids are my pride and joy! If I did nothing else, I reared you to have WINGS to be independent and soar and grow and become all that you can be!!!

    My only regret is that I did NOT have the ability, means or people to help who truly would support us PRIOR to that. I am glad that we did NOT stay and that we got out when we did and NEVER went back.

    love ya bunches, hugs, Mom

    cheez didn’t mean to write a whole blog myself in a comment!!!

  8. theworld4realz says

    I want to agree with Penelope. What she says makes great sense & sounds ideal. But having come from two marriages (the first violent, wherein he only married me cuz I got preggers, & then proceeded to remind me that he never loved me on a daily basis; & the second emotionally void because I was too needy to see through the charming BS that covered an emotionally empty shell of a man), I can honestly say I’m happy now where I am. I finally ended up with my best friend, & we’ve been together for five very happy years. He is raising my children & they both adore him & call him “dad”. So as much as I WANT to agree, I can’t.

    I was so steamed over this article that I ended up writing a response on my blog. If you would care to check it out here is the link: http://www.theworld4realz.com/2012/03/01/daggone-you-penelope-trunk/