You may say that you’re staying together for your kids, but are you sure it’s not really for yourself, so that you don’t have to face the problems in your marriage? Facing up to those problems may mean splitting up. Divorce is a huge change, and we’re all scared of change. On the other hand, if you are determined to stay together, you really have to work at the relationship and that’s another scary prospect.

Of course, parents do make decisions every day based solely on what’s good for their children. That may be what you and your spouse are doing, but it’s important to be clear that you aren’t pointing to the kids to avoid dealing with problems in your marriage.

If you and your spouse make an honest assessment of your marriage, and decide that divorce is the best course for everyone, be assured that the kids aren’t going to fall apart as a result. If your marriage is horrific, it’s not bad for kids to escape the unhappiness. They get tired of having to choose sides. They don’t get to be kids because they’re trying to fix the parents’ relationship. I’ve seen adult clients whose parents didn’t split, and they are angry because they were subjected to living in a nasty environment. It damages their view of what a healthy relationship is.

What’s best for the children of divorce is if the divorced parents can be part of each other’s lives. If your daughter has a hockey game and you both go to cheer her on, or if there’s a wedding in the family and you can both attend and celebrate for the new couple, that can be a very positive message for your child.

If you decide to stay together and work on your relationship, that can also demonstrate loving and mature behavior to your child. You want to show them that if you’re able to overcome your differences, you can recreate a good relationship, so they see hope out there. Your children are going to pick their future spouses based on what they see happening between you and your spouse.

Whatever your decide to do about your marriage, it is important to include your children in the process. Please don’t make the mistake of thinking your children are in the dark about your marital issues. Kids know much more than you think they know. They’re part of your family. You may try to hide things and protect them, but you really can’t.

In the midst of your own turmoil, it is so important to remember that your children need your attention now more than ever. You should spend 15-20 minutes every day just talking, and listening, to them about how you are both feeling. Right before bed is a good time because they talk most then. Most kids are truthful with their parents.

If you and your spouse are in therapy (and it is a good idea if you’re struggling with something as important as your family’s future), your kids should definitely be included. That’s what’s on their minds, what’s going to happen to you and to them. They may be feeling unimportant. You hear kids say a lot, “No one asked me.” In counseling, your children will have a chance to express that, and the many other emotions they are dealing with, and to see you and your spouse handling a difficult time with generosity and forgiveness. You already know that being a parent is the hardest job in the world on a good day, but if you can show them that level of maturity, you’re doing your best for them.

We are here to answer all your questions and concerns. Please contact us today to see how our experienced family counselors can help you with your current situation.