Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Eleanor Roosevelt were loving parents. They tried—more than the generation before them at least—to actually care about and consider the feelings of their children. They tried to balance their many responsibilities, doing the best they could. They quite literally preserved a future for their children by fighting for world peace.
And yet, it’s hard not to judge them for the fact that their five children would be married an astounding nineteen times!
One suspects that FDR bears the majority of the blame for this. He broke his wife’s heart with his affairs. He could be imperious and condescending. He had been spoiled by his own doting mother. Nor is Eleanor blameless. She was so busy. She stuffed her resentments and her anger down. She often pretended everything was perfect, when of course, it wasn’t. They were also distant cousins which was more normal at the time but still pretty weird!
How could their kids know what a good marriage was like? They had ringside seats to a complicated power marriage with two complicated, contradictory people who often put just about everything else in front of their happiness as spouses…and parents.
The point here is not to judge the Roosevelt marriage. It’s to remind you: Your kids learn about relationships from you. So what are you teaching them? You have to show them what a good marriage looks like, what healthy connections and partnerships look like. You have to make this a priority, because who and how you marry is not only one of the most important decisions you’ll make…it will have implications for your kids. It will contribute to how they make the most important decision in their own life too.
And hopefully, if all goes well, they won’t have to try 19 times to get it right.