Should I stay in my marriage for the kids?

Is it right to stay married for the kids' sake even though my husband and I can't seem to get along & argue a lot? Especially when one parent thinks it's best to divorce & the other one says getting divorced isn't in the best interest of the kids.. So am I wrong for thinking divorce is the best choice since we can't seem to get along?

Submitted by KatieAnne26

The decision to divorce, especially when children are involved, is one of the most difficult choices a person can face.  Divorce is not pretty.  It adds stress to the lives of each spouse, their families, friends and their children.  Unfortunately, divorce tends to bring out the worst in people.  Hurt feelings and anger often take precedence over doing what is truly best for the kids.  Because of this, I always encourage couples to do everything they can to work on their issues and challenge themselves to do the work to repair their marriages before choosing divorce.  Go to counseling.  Read books.  Talk with friends and loved ones.  Work at it.  When a marriage is healthy and the parents are working together towards the long-term health and happiness of the marriage and the family, it is always better for the kids. 

 

Having said that, there is no reason to believe that staying together at any cost is better for children than divorcing.  In fact, when parents who are unhappy together and engage in unhealthy relationship habits stay together "for the kids" it can often do more harm than good.  The behaviors you display in your home will set the stage for how your children will behave as adults.  They learn what it means to be married, how to be a husband or wife and how to effectively (or ineffectively) deal with conflict in a relationship.  I often hear people say things like, "But we don't do it in front of them," or "They don't really see what's going on."  I assure you that these people are mistaken.  Over the course of day-in/day-out, year after year, these messages accumulate, and take root, increasing the likelihood that your kids will repeat the very same patterns they have seen in their home growing up.  The good news is that when couples do decide to get divorced and they handle their divorce in a mature and collaborative way, there is plenty of reason to believe that the children can be just fine in the long run.  In other words, it is not necessarily divorce itself that determines whether or not your kids will be ok, but rather how each adult behaves during and after the divorce.  Remember, divorce is not an isolated event - it unfolds over many years.  Parents who can remain civil, avoid bad-mouthing and blaming each other, work together to create unified parenting strategies and give their children consistent time, attention and reassurance have a very good chance of seeing their kids grow up just as happy and healthy as those of healthy intact couples.  Ultimately, the bottom line is this: unhappy parents do not tend to raise happy children.  And unhealthy relationships that "stay together for the kids" when the marriage is destructive tend to produce children who have unhealthy relationships as adults.  For an enlightening perspective on divorce and the pros and cons as they relate to children, check out The Truth About Children and Divorce by Robert Emery and For Better or For Worse: Divorce Reconsidered by E. Mavis Hetherington.

Answered by jeffparents
Community Answers (15)

As a child who grew up in a broken family that was still together I can say staying together for the kids is a terrible idea. By the time I was 14 I knew my parents needed for divorce. Through my teen years I felt totally alone because my parents were so busy fighting to be there. Kids can tell and it does effect them. I wished for years that my parents would get a divorce. I wouldn't have felt abandoned, if have felt relieved
Submitted by keeaver47

I struggle with this. I separated from my wife for a year because we were both so unhappy and depressed that our lives were falling apart and I wanted to take control. It was devastating telling my two beautiful girls that we were separating. We eventually moved past resentment and anger and now live together, still married, but with no connection and I don't think we'll get it back; roommates. Little hope but one thing I learned was it was difficult not seeing my children on a daily basis.
Submitted by johnnmininger1

I struggle with this. I separated from my wife for a year because we were both so unhappy and depressed that our lives were falling apart and I wanted to take control. It was devastating telling my two beautiful girls that we were separating. We eventually moved past resentment and anger and now live together, still married, but with no connection and I don't think we'll get it back; roommates. Little hope but one thing I learned was it was difficult not seeing my children on a daily basis.
Submitted by johnnmininger1

I struggle with this. I separated from my wife for a year because we were both so unhappy and depressed that our lives were falling apart and I wanted to take control. It was devastating telling my two beautiful girls that we were separating. We eventually moved past resentment and anger and now live together, still married, but with no connection and I don't think we'll get it back; roommates. Little hope but one thing I learned was it was difficult not seeing my children on a daily basis.
Submitted by johnnmininger1

I'm divorcing my husband. And my kids have adjusted just fine. The key is to be civil and get a long. You're partners still in raising these kids. I only recommend divorce if you're ABSOLUTELY sure things can't work. For me, I was depressed and angry ALL the time. Not eating and and not caring about myself. I took care of my kids and that was ALL! I knew I couldn't be a good mother if I wasn't happy and things had been bad for about a year. I physically couldn't do it anymore! Good luck!!
Submitted by saliverosa

Simply put, "not getting along" is not a good enough reason to get a divorce. Not every day is going to be rainbows and sunshine, & you are just teaching your kids that relationships need to be perfect & to quit otherwise. That being said, you should not just stay together for the kids either. A tumultuous home can be just as harmful to the kids as the effects of a divorce. I would first focus on your marriage, your spouse & stop obsessing about the warm fuzzy feeling that's missing right now.
Submitted by Traveler

YES, you should divorce and separate from this intimate relationship with your husband that will become unhealthy in the future. Be mature about this divorce and do not end the social relationship with the father of your children; that is not for best interest of the children. Keep him involved with them, they have EVERYTHING to do with this man, if this is going to escalate to any type of abuse then you have nothing to do with him. be strong.
Submitted by susanlmelchor

You should no be with someone you are not happy with. You should see a couples therapist. If that does not help you should separate. I have a friend who lives with her mom half the week and her dad the other half.
Submitted by kmg7447

Growing up, my parents stayed together (and they still are), but there were a number of time I wished that they would have divorced. The fighting, physical abuse and alcoholism did not help and I resent my parents because of it. I will also say that I bear a substantial amount of guilt for ending my marriage. My children deserved to have their Dad around every day. I often wonder now if I made the right choice. Plus, I miss them so much when they're not around. I wish you the best.
Submitted by slanderman1

My parents tried to hide their arguing when I was little. It never worked we new they hated each other, and as a result we would never get to see my dad because he did't want to come home to argue. After my parents got divorced was still terrible. My parents refused to communicate and used me to sent messages. This resulted in me getting the heat for whatever the other parent had said. My response. Grow up. You are adults, start acting like it. Don't make your children hate you like I hated them
Submitted by maibii445

....you gave it your 100% best and that you tried everything under the sun to make your marriage work for YOU and you HUSBAND. Not the kids. It may sound selfish, but in the end, if your not happy, your kids will know it and when they are older, they will understand. I didn't want my son to feel like I remained in an unhealthy marriage, souly for his sake, and him have to carry that "burden" of "my mom was unhappy to make me happy". 4 years after our divorce, we are all happy.
Submitted by RockinMomNTexas

I am a divorced mother of an 8 year old little boy. His father and I were married for 5 years. Our son had been 4 yrs old for 2 days, whenever our divorce was final. For 3 years, we went to marriage counseling, read tons of relationship books, attended church and had meetings with our pastor, etc. In the end, I realized that I absolutely could not stay in a loveless marriage, where he learned unhealthy relationship habits. It's NOT an easy road, but you have to know in your heart that......
Submitted by RockinMomNTexas

Coming from a household where my parents SHOULD have been divorced when I was young, I can say that a mature separation after a LOT of hard work to "make it work" is the best way to go. Do the legwork though! Do not just give up because divorce is "easier." You may realize that it is healthier for your kids to see you dedicated to your spouse rather than walking away. The critical point is realizing whether you're projecting your unhappiness on them, though.
Submitted by PalmMom2

If the relationship is not abusive then I think its perfectly okay to stay together until the children are old enough to handle the reality of divorce (when they are on their own and out of the house). Also, so long as you are staying together, perhaps you could work on your relationship issues. Every marriage has high and low points, but showing your children that you will stick around during the tough times is a good lesson. If of course the relationship is abusive or places your children at risk, then leave.
Submitted by rebekahssass