Staying Married ‘For The Kids’ – Is It Really A Good Idea?
A lot of married couples who admit their marriages have gone down hill will remain legally married and live together for the sake of their kids. The idea is that by staying together, it helps the kids develop better and not have to suffer with being caught in the middle of their parents getting a divorce, especially since many divorces are ugly and complicated.
But is it really best for kids if their parents hate each other, or can’t stand each other, yet live together? Does it leave a good impression on how parents should love each other? Often times, kids don’t seem fully aware that their parents are only going to be together until the youngest kid turns 18, then divorce. This means that just as the kid is starting out in the world as an adult, there is a sudden distraction of the parents getting divorced.
I’m not trying to insult anyone for making a decision to remain in an unhappy marriage if you truly believe your kids will benefit from it. I’m just trying to shed some light on a few issues that quite often arise from such a decision.
Your Kids Want To See You Happy
If you are clearly miserable in your marriage, it shows. Even if you try to hide it, your kids know you better than you think, and they can see right through a facade. I’ve talked to people who grew up with parents who stayed together when they clearly hated each other, and it had a negative impact on the kids. Trying to make it work and not having any success with it makes the situation worse and creates a tense and uncomfortable environment.
As a teenager (many years ago) I had a friend who wanted so much for her mom to file for divorce, as the home environment was so bad. Her mom waited until she (my friend) was an adult before filing for divorce, and shortly afterwards met and married a man she truly loved. My friend was so happy for her mom, and disappointed that it didn’t happen sooner.
You’re Not Getting Any Younger
Needless to say, none of us grow younger. If you are in your 20’s or 30’s, and plan on waiting another 10 years to break away from a bad marriage, that’s not a smart decision. All the years of being unhappy and having little to no romance with your spouse creates heartache. Lacking affection from your partner is difficult and creates feelings of loneliness. Again, your kids see it.
Not only that, but there could be someone out there who would love you forever, and who you could be so in love with, but all of that is hindered because you’re choosing to remain living in disappointment.
Your kids are constantly observing you, and flare ups (especially on a frequent basis) makes kids nervous. I’ve seen kids who are with their parents, and how uneasy they are because of the tension between “mommy and daddy”.
If you are happier without your spouse, then staying married (if indeed the marriage cannot be saved) is a bad idea. Splitting up from your spouse isn’t the horror you may believe it to be. Yes, there are cases where kids cry themselves to sleep at night for the first few months. That’s usually because they feel guilty, thinking somehow it was their fault. This is why kids need to be told – and understand – that mommy and daddy are better off separate than together, and express the joys of being a mom or a dad with the kids. It’s when couples break up and say a bunch of stuff that shouldn’t be said in front of the kids, and it causes stress that could easily be avoided. Don’t add a burden to your kids with a divorce, but show them your love and assure them that life is better this way.
It doesn’t take very long for kids to adjust to their parents getting divorced. The key is to make it a clean transition, and not discuss the details with the kids. They don’t need to know much about the divorce, just get them used to things and don’t drag them into anything they shouldn’t participate in.
You might be wondering if a custody battle would be worse than staying in a bad marriage. First of all, consider the length of time it could take. If you have a young child and you think staying with your spouse for another 12 or 15 years is better than entering a divorce and custody battle, you might want to rethink your position.
A lot of things in life that we fear aren’t nearly as bad as we thought, once we actually step out and face it head on. Divorce is often times that way. I’m not saying there aren’t some nasty divorce cases, because there are. But when weighing out the pros and cons of it all, once getting free from the bad marriage and starting fresh, it’s usually worth the hassle.
Unless you believe there’s some reason why the court would consider you incapable of taking care of your child, you should be able to negotiate something positive. Always, and I mean ALWAYS consider what is most definitely in the best interest of your kids and not just what you personally want or in any way vengeful against your spouse. Put your kids first.
Ultimately, it’s up to you what you choose to do in a situation like this. Marriages differ one from another, so what might work best for one family doesn’t necessarily work best for another. Do what you believe is right.