If you’re thinking about getting a divorce, but worrying about your kids. Stop. Get a divorce.
Staying in an unhappy marriage teaches kids ALL the wrong life lessons.
“I’m thinking about getting a divorce. Well, I want to, but I’m just not sure if I should, because I am worried about the kids. I think they will be traumatised. No, I’m not in love with my spouse. We co-exist at best. I feel like I’m drowning. Actually, I’m miserable and I cannot imagine we will stay together after the kids go to university. But do you think the kids would be OK? I think we should wait.”
I hear some version of this monologue on regular basis. I am not one to judge the reasoning. I have been through my own painful struggle with the decision of whether or not to divorce.
Throughout a difficult marriage, the biggest fear I had was how it would crush my children to find out that their father and I would not be together anymore.
I feared the financial and emotional dangers that come from dividing time and property between households.
I feared that my boys would be crippled as men in their future relationships.
I felt that as an adult, I had made my own decisions and my children shouldn’t have to pay the price by living in a broken home.
But really, the home was already broken. And if you are calling me, a friend, or certainly any divorce professional to ask the question, “Should I get a divorce?”, then I am telling you now that the answer is yes.
And pardon my French, but if you don’t have to balls to go through with it yet, just like I didn’t for almost 10 years, that’s fine. It’s not your time yet.
But stop blaming your kids.
That’s right. You are not staying in your marriage for the kids. You are using the kids as a scapegoat to avoid taking a major, frightening step. Divorce is scary. Divorce is hard. Divorce is painful and traumatic and can be ridiculously expensive if you allow it to get there.
You know what is scarier? Spending the rest of your life in the sheer and utter misery of a loveless at best, abusive at worst, marriage — and for your children to grow up expecting their own marriage to be exactly like yours.
We all see the headlines with new studies about the havoc divorce wreaks on children. The best possible situation for any child is to be raised in a loving, intact home with their two parents.
Where these studies can be dangerously misleading is in the assumption that the opposite situation of a divorce is a happy marriage.
Happily married people stay happily married, just like my own parents who are still crazy for each other after 47 years. The marriages that end in divorce are unhappy.
Children born into these marriages are born into a home fraught with the makings of anxiety, depression and the like. They were never going to grow up in a loving, intact home.
According to “An Overview of the Literature on the Psychological Effects of Divorce on Children,” published by the American Psychological Association in 2004, “Some children do well post-divorce and others do not. However, not enough is known to disentangle the impact of contextual factors that often accompany divorce (e.g., financial pressures and marital conflict) from the impact of the divorce itself.”