How many times have you heard unhappy couples say that they are putting off divorce until the kids get older so as to avoid traumatizing them? Staying together for the sake of the children is commonly cited as a reason to avoid the split. Just how healthy a choice is it?
Suffering an unhappy marriage leaves one with several choices:
- Stay in the relationship and be miserable;
- Stay in the relationship and fix it;
- Get out of the relationship.
Taking a hard look at options can help you to make the right decision for you and your family.
Children of Divorce
In one study of adult children whose parents divorced during their early years, four out of five came through the experience emotionally healthy. The study indicated that many of these children were stronger and more balanced than children whose parents did not divorce.
On the other hand, parents should be aware of the fact that any divorce, no matter how amicable, is going to rock their children’s universe. Their lives will be dramatically altered, and pretending otherwise will not benefit anybody. Experts say two key factors impact the emotional well being of children when their parents call it quits:
- Parents should continue to parent. It is important that children do not get swept up in adult matters that should be confined to the adult world;
- Children fare best when they continue strong relationships with both parents.
Although any divorce will be painful, children whose parents handle the situation with calm and balanced emotions themselves do not generally have children who face long-term psychological issues. When children are protected from conflict and drama, they can survive the disruption of divorce.
Staying Together in a Low-Conflict but Unhappy Marriage
Many studies, in fact, indicate that the children of people who are unhappily married grow up feeling unhappy themselves. The constant exposure to conflict, or even to indifference, can weigh heavily on the young psyche.
Furthermore, children often grow up to replicate the relationships they have experienced and observed. What parent wishes for a mediocre or unhappy marriage for their children?
What about staying together and waiting until the kids are out of the house before splitting? Consider the fact that children might face serious guilt when they realize their parents sacrificed their own happiness and satisfaction for the sake of the kids.
Teach by Example
The question of divorce is complicated under any circumstances, and the best interest of the children is surely one of the most important considerations. If you are wavering on the issue of staying together or to move forward with plans to divorce, ask yourself some key questions:
- Am I willing to give my marriage a real shot in order to create the robust, loving example I want my children to see and experience?
- If divorce is likely going to be the ultimate outcome, am I fooling myself by thinking that staying together is better for the kids even if they grow up watching an unhealthy relationship?