Is Divorcing “for the sake of the children” a Good Idea?
In “Divorce Ends Conflict – Or Does It?” I took a quick look at the belief that divorce can have a positive effect on children by ending the trauma of witnessing parents at war. I concluded by saying that parents will always be parents, divorced or not. But will they still be arguing?
In other words, if parents continue to argue after their divorce (and statistics suggest they will), children won’t gain from divorce. It’s the same situation constant conflict but worse: one parent is no longer at home.
You might dislike, despise or even hate your spouse but your children don’t. Divorce and the subsequent absence of a parent is an enormous loss for them perhaps the very worst effect of divorce.
Statistics also show that in many cases divorce actually heightens conflict, or causes it where little existed before. After all, the process of divorce is hardly designed to make you the best of friends.
So what does this mean?
If you’re undecided about divorce, worrying about the possible effects of divorce on your children, this issue – Will we still argue? – may help you make up your mind..
If you can honestly answer, with absolute certainty, that the conflict will end, then divorce may indeed have a positive effect on your children. But there’s another question you need to answer before this is true.
Would you describe the relationship between you and your spouse as a low-conflict marriage or a high-conflict marriage?
If high-conflict suits you best – if your children are constantly exposed to extremely negative and/or abusive words, emotions and behaviours – chances are they are traumatized by it. Divorce really will have a positive effect on your children’s lives. It certainly couldn’t be any worse.
If, on the other hand, your relationship is marked by low-level conflict by squabbles, impatience with each other’s habits, lack of communication and so on your children may be unhappy but not troubled to any serious degree. By comparison, the effects of divorce can be (and often are) devastating.
Which would your children choose? Life as it is, or a life that’s changed forever – life without one of you at home?
The bottom line is, if you are in a low-conflict marriage and your paramount concern is your children, divorce will most likely do them more harm than good.
If you accept this, you have two options: to try to save your marriage or to do what your children do accept things as they are. The good news is that low-conflict marriages stand the best chance of being saved.
Filed under: Deciding to Divorce