We need to talk.
First of all, please understand that your mother and I love you very much, so this is hard to say. The thing is—sometimes in a marriage…. Okay. See, at some point in the future, your mother and I will go though hard times and—there's no easy way to say this—we are going to get a divorce.
And you will never see it coming.
Now, now, don't get upset. We're not getting divorced right now. No, your mother and I are very much in love and are determined to make this marriage work. Also, you're expecting it now, so there would be absolutely no element of surprise. I'm not going to throw away a beautiful, healthy marriage of 22 years for anything less than complete and total shock.
I know this is difficult for you to hear. And believe me, it will be difficult for us, too. Very difficult. We have to pick the perfect time to catch you totally off guard. That means waiting long enough to make sure you've all but forgotten this conversation and are feeling fairly content, but not so long that you're too old to fully experience the sudden-and-completely-unexpected-shattering-of-your-young-psyches feeling we're going for. That takes some delicate planning, but your mother and I love you very much, so we're willing to put in the effort.
Right now, our marriage is all smooth sailing. But as time goes by, and you children are lulled into a false sense of security, we'll start to grow apart. Don't worry; we'll do our darnedest to keep it from you, otherwise you'll know it's coming. You won't see us attending marriage counseling or even engaging in a single fight, because that would be a dead giveaway. No, we'll be one big happy family until, one day, when you've let your guard down, we'll inform you it just isn't working out.
It's going to be horrible for you.
It might be right after you come home from school, it might happen during an otherwise ordinary family dinner—hell, it might come tomorrow, for all you know. One thing is for sure: The collapse of our marriage is going to hit you kids like a ton of bricks.
Sure, we'll consider staying together for your sake, but in the end, we'll decide that keeping up pretenses will just do you more harm than good and that you're adequately distracted by Henry's birthday party coming up. Hey, we might even tell you during the birthday party. Can you imagine how surprising it's going to be when we bring out the cake and tell you in front of all your friends that Daddy is going to stay at his friend's house for a while?
There's no reason to cry now. There will be plenty of time for that when the moment is just right and we break the vows we took to stay together forever. Until then, you should put away all that sadness and return to the blissful, naïve belief that your parents will beat the statistical odds and never split up. The sooner you can move on like nothing's happened, the sooner we can disrupt the only sense of security you've ever known.
It will, when we finally do decide to break it off and send you into a nosedive of insecurity, shame, and confusion, be for the best.
Don't drive yourself crazy trying to change things, because there's probably nothing you can do about it. I'm not going to lie, though. If you eat all your vegetables and go to bed without any fuss, it might reduce the stress we have in our lives and better equip us for the day-to-day problems any marriage faces. Maybe.
But in the immediate future, there's nothing you can do. It's best just to forget about this and move on like nothing happened. Because nothing did happen. But it will.
Now, who wants some ice cream?