Should you stay together for the kids?

Should you stay together for the kids?

There's no simple answer to the question of whether you should stay together in a miserable marriage for the sake of the children. It's essential to weigh up whether they would be happier in the family home with unhappy parents or in two households where their parents are happier although living separately.

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What are the risks of staying together?

Children may experience several detrimental effects if an unhappy couple decides to stay together, characterised by frustration, pain and anger. First on the list is that children may learn poor parenting skills that they will pass on to future generations.

Kids who grow up in a home with constant stress, conflict and unhappiness may also be less successful as adults. In addition, they may have difficulty in forming relationships, managing their emotions and having low self-esteem.

Some children say they feel relief when their parents divorce, as everyone is happier in the long run. And parents may find their relationship with their children is better than if they had stayed in an unhappy marriage.

Staying together in a bad marriage also increases the risk of the children suffering neglect. It may be physical neglect; for example, a single parent may not be available for the kids as much as they would like. Neglect can also be emotional; for example, when a parent is too distressed to comfort their child or when parents cannot or will not go to significant events together.

So if parents cannot raise their family together in a caring, stable environment, co-parenting in separate homes may be the best solution. When parents communicate amicably, respect one another, and place the children's interests over their own, children can thrive after a divorce.

What are the advantages of staying together?

Decades ago, relationship experts almost always advised couples to stay together. Thanks to more recent research, this advice has now changed. However, parents divorcing does pose some risks to the children.

Some studies show that children of separated parents do less well at school and have lower-paid jobs than children from families where the parents have stayed together.

In families where the parents can communicate civilly and cooperate to parent the children, staying together under one roof may be a feasible option. But sacrificing their own needs and desires for those of the children can place too great a strain on those in miserable marriages.

Creating a stronger bond between the parents is of benefit to all concerned. But to do so requires massive emotional investment, and both parties must be wholly committed.

Deciding whether to divorce

There is no easy answer when deciding whether to divorce, so you could start by considering these questions:

• Is abuse a factor?

Experts agree that divorce is necessary where there is any child abuse, whether sexual, physical or emotional.

It is sometimes possible for abusers to change their behaviour, for example, by attending parenting classes. In such cases, you could try a temporary separation. But staying together is a risk, and it is the parent's responsibility to protect their children from an abuser.

Abuse of a partner, which can include verbal, physical, financial and psychological abuse, should also cause you to reevaluate your relationship. Abusive behaviour between adults damages not only the person being abused but also any children who are present and witness it.

If you are in an abusive relationship and don't know where to seek help, Women's Aid can provide advice and support to women and children at risk of domestic violence. And if you feel you are at immediate risk, call 999. If you can't talk, you can press 55 to alert the police silently that you are in danger.

Don't wait to take action. If you have approached your partner about their behaviour and they aren't willing to make changes, consider divorce or separation. Your own and your children's safety must be your priority.

• Can you co-parent positively?

If parents can work together and put their personal differences to one side for the sake of the children, it may benefit the kids if they remain together; if this is impossible, the children may be better off if the parents divorce amicably.

• Can you repair your marriage?

Before divorcing, it's vital that couples make every effort to repair their marriage. Have you tried counselling or couples therapy to resolve your differences? And are both partners willing to make the effort required?

When divorce is inevitable

Deciding whether to stay in a less-than-perfect marriage or to divorce is often a complicated question, and if you have children, it becomes even more challenging. You must consider not only your own interests and desires but also those of the kids.

Both parents should try to work together amicably in parenting the children - making this commitment will ensure that the divorce process causes them less pain and stress so they can thrive and grow into well-balanced adults.

A final thought

Remember that you are far from the only couple going through a difficult time. Many people experience challenging periods during their marriage and succeed in working things out and staying together. But, unfortunately, for other couples, it's just not possible.

If you decide to divorce, many resources are available to assist you through the process. As a result, you can create a happy life and a positive future for you and the kids, whether parenting in two homes or together.


Marie Pure

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