This could be one of the many pieces of unsolicited advice from strangers, friends and even family as you go through your separation/divorce. I can see where their hearts may be in a good place when offering that up, wanting the children to have a two parent home and so on. I know that’s what I wanted for myself and my son. But there is a much bigger picture to consider. As a child of divorce and unfortunately, a divorcee as well, I have experienced both sides of the situation. There are questions to ask yourself and things to consider when faced with this predicament.
- This is the REAL WORLD. This is no fairy tale, this is no Disney princess movie or some romantic comedy. This is real life. There will be struggles and difficulties along the way. Marriage is not all sunshine and roses. The focus or question is are you putting in the work and effort for your marriage and your relationship? Are you communicating with your spouse about what is bothering you? Is your spouse putting forth the effort? Perhaps, there is something else the two of you could be doing to work together to improve your relationship.
- Your child/children see and hear much more than you think they do. They can sense the tension between the two of you even when they don’t know the word for it. They hear the tone in his voice and see the looks on your face. One of the biggest deciding factors for myself when considering divorce was asking myself, “Is this the image of marriage I want my son to grow up with?” He was witness to a lot of unhealthy things and unhealthy approaches to conflict resolution. Did I really want him to continuing experiencing that? NO! And initially, the answer was not divorce. Instead it was marital counseling, it was attempting to come together and re-evaluate our relationship. But, when that wasn’t going anywhere, it was time to revisit that question again.
- Two happy divorced parents are much better than two miserably unhappy married parents. Reiterating on the above, kids sense the unease and unhappiness in the household no matter how much you FAKE it. I will tell you from personal experience that I hated my parents being together. Those years when they were together and living in the same house were tumultuous and, for me, it felt like I didn’t really know what each day was going to bring. But, once they were apart from each other, things became more bearable. I actually got to see my mother as the individual she is and not my father’s wife. I got to see her be happy and experience life. The same goes for me. Once I was outside the confines of an unhealthy and unhappy marriage, I feel that I became the woman I was made to be and I am happy being me.
- The safety of your child/children. The safety of yourself and your children take priority over any idealized image of what a family should be. If you are being hurt or your children are, there is no question of what needs to be done (in my opinion). One of my “last straws” was when my ex decided to throw something at me in the midst of an argument while our 1 year old son stood between us and when I was packing our things to leave he tells our son that “Mommy is trying to take you away from me because she’s crazy.” There comes a point when you seriously need to think of the detriment and negative effects an unhealthy relationship has on your child/children.
Till the day I die, I know in my heart that I made the best decision I could have for myself and my son. Has it been hard? Hell yes it’s been hard! There were days in the beginning of it all, I was so scared of what the future held for us. In any big life decision, there will be those fears, what ifs, and unknowns. All you can do is do what you know to be best for yourself and your child.
(Below are two good articles on the question of Staying Together for the Kids. I do recommend checking them out 🙂 )