Deciding if divorce is the best solution to the troubles you’re facing in your marriage is never easy.
In fact, it’s gut wrenching.
You’ve invested years in building a life together and the thought of starting over really isn’t appealing. It’s frightening!
But you’re not happy. You know you deserve happiness and so does your spouse.
And your kids deserve it too … especially your kids.
That’s the biggest problem: Your kids deserve happiness.
And right now, your belief is that they will never be happy if you get divorced.
Many couples decide that they can’t divorce because of their children. They believe that their kids deserve to grow up in an intact family, and that anything less will destroy them.
These couples choose to remain mired in their miserable marriages, for the sake of the kids.
Unfortunately, choosing martyrdom for the kids is a really bad decision.
If you choose to stick things out just for your kids, you can expect to face a number of problems.
Here are five reasons to reconsider staying together for the kids:
Your kids will learn that marriage is about separateness, not togetherness.
By staying together for their sake, you’ll be teaching them that marriage is about being miserable and disliking your spouse.
You’ll also show them how to live separate lives and still be married.
You and your spouse can continue to be lazy.
Yes, you read that correctly – LAZY.
Instead of putting in the really hard work to try to fix things or to divorce respectfully, you can both just go with the flow and accept your unhappiness as a fact of your life.
You’ll be choosing mediocrity, and teaching your kids that’s what they can expect from life, too.
You’re choosing to live in fear.
Divorce means that you’ll have to live differently.
Different could mean living on less income, in a different home, or having to get a job outside of the home.
But one thing divorce absolutely means is that you’ll have less time with your kids, because you and their other parent will be sharing time with them.
But that doesn’t have to be the worst thing that ever happened.
The thing about living in fear is that fears are usually much, much worse than reality.
Your kids will be unhappy because they feel your unhappiness.
Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. It’s as if we’ve forgotten how much we understood when we were their age.
No matter how much you try to hide it from them, your kids will know that you’re not happy, and that your life isn’t fulfilling or fun.
And that’s no way to spend the next years of your life while you wait for your children to finish high school or college (or whatever end date you have in mind).
Your kids also take cues from you about how they should feel.
So instead of being happy they’re growing up with both of you, they’ll be just as unhappy as you are.
Your kids will model the type of marriage you and your spouse have.
Unless your children do a whole lot of work on personal awareness, they’re going to grow up to be pretty much the same type of people you are.
They’ll accept the same or similar types of situations, and have the same or similar outlooks on life.
This means they’ll accept the same type of marriage you do.
Is this what you really want for them?
So, the question isn’t “Should we stay together for the kids?”
The real question is “Is this the life I want for my children?”
Just because staying together for the kids is a horrible idea doesn’t mean that divorce is automatically the best answer for you.
You could choose to roll up your sleeves and get to work on changing your marriage for the better.
Will it be easy? No.
Are there any guarantees that you’ll be able to work things out? No.
But the effort you put in will be a shining example to your children that sometimes it takes hard work and careful deliberation to make the best decision you can.
But that work is worth it in order to achieve happiness – for your sake, your spouse’s, and theirs.
This piece originally appeared on YourTango.
Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce coach helping clients answer their question “When is it time to divorce?” If you want help understanding what to do next, reach out to Karen by emailing her at [email protected] for a private discussion about the best next steps for you to take.
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