Children and Divorce: Staying Together for the Kids?
If you are having serious marital problems, and you have children, at some point, you will consider the dilemma of divorce or separation for your own happiness weighed against staying together for the benefit of the children.
The usual argument is that two happy single parents living apart are better than two disgruntled parents staying together for the children.
The actual situation is not so simple. There are some specific situations where the children might be better off if the parents divorce, such as when there are regular, high-intensity arguments or threatened or actual physical abuse.
In many situations children suffer before, during, and after the divorce.
These children of divorce generally continue to live out the negative impacts into adulthood. There are more complications, too. If you divorce, there will be unpredictable factors that impact on you, your children, perhaps your children's education, your families, your friends, perhaps your living arrangements, and your finances.
Does Divorce Actually Make People Happier?
A team of well-respected marriage therapists and researchers authored a 2002 report sponsored and published by the Institute for American Values. They tried to answer the question "Does divorce make people happier than staying in an unhappy marriage?"
The results of this 5-year study indicate the simple answer is "No."
Of course, there is a lot more information they discovered:
- When the unhappily married spouses who separated or divorced were compared with those who stayed married, the ones who divorced or separated were no better off five years later.
- This was true even for those who remarried.
- Divorce did not relieve depression.
- Divorce did not significantly alter the person's outlook on life when evaluated at the five-year point.
- About three-fourths of those who divorced had rated themselves as happily married five years prior to the study.
- AND, when the unhappy couples managed somehow to stay married, after five years, two out of three of the previously unhappy couples were now happily married, and a smaller group was even very happily married.
My understanding of these results is that most of us are looking for an outside solution.
If something is broken, throw it away and get a new one. The real solution is much more difficult: change yourself, and improve your character.
If you follow the difficult path of taking charge of your own life, of being responsible for your own feelings, and building your own character, your children will benefit. Think of what a wonderful model you provide for your children when you take an obviously painful marital situation and turn it around by developing yourself.
- You teach them that they don't have to be victims in difficult situations.
- You teach them that they can be powerful agents for positive change.
- You teach them that they have parents who understand commitment and love.
I am a registered Marriage-friendly Therapist. This Registry is the only resource that screens for a pro-marriage commitment by the therapists, and requires appropriate graduate training, state license, and years of experience.
I wish you all success in improving your marriage by improving yourself and helping your children to learn by example how to create and maintain a loving relationship.
If you cannot do this on your own, I urge you to use a marriage-friendly therapist. If you want to work with me, I charge $260 per hour in person or you could work through my self-help program Saving Your Marriage.
If infidelity is involved I created the self-help program Survive An Affair.
Wishing you a wonderful marriage,
Frank Gunzburg, Ph.D.
Voice: 410.654.1300 Toll-free: 1.866.654.1300
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