By Celia Poet
Exactly one month after her youngest of three daughters turned 18, Emma Grant walked out on her husband. She'd made the decision to leave him almost a decade before, but they stayed together for the sake of the kids.
"I stopped loving him or even enjoying his company a long time ago, but I felt strongly that my three girls should grow up with two parents," she says.
Emma is not alone. One in 10 married couples stay together "just for the kids" and plan to split when the children are old enough, according to research.
The break-up and bereavement support website HealBee, whose survey of 2,000 couples is among the most recent studies, reported surprise at just how many parents felt compelled to stick together with a disregard for their own happiness.
"Many of my friends used to call me a martyr because they know I sacrificed a lot to stay in the marriage," admits Emma. "But on the other hand, I found ways to make my life full and enjoyable. For instance, I made sure I had holidays with friends every year. In any case, the thing that made me most happy was seeing my girls grow up in a family environment."
It wasn't as if Emma's husband was unkind or aggressive. "We just fell out of love. At worst, he used to annoy me, although that can build up and make you feel really irritated and resentful. But when I recognised that happening, I would organise a night out with a friend and get it out of my system and then I'd be OK again for a while."
Emma's own parents had split up when she was 12. "I was an introverted and insecure young girl and this just about topped me off and scarred me for life. There is no way I was going to do that to my girls. By the time they were 23, 20 and 18, I knew they were independent enough to handle it."
They weren't surprised, she admits. "As they got older, I think they saw that although we were civil to each other, we weren't close."
Her husband certainly wasn't surprised. "He wanted the split as much as me. But fortunately, he felt as strongly as me about giving the girls an upbringing with two parents."
HealBee's study found that 72 said that they now regretted staying in their relationship for their children and that nearly 90Slideshow-84766%