Triad parent here, contemplating divorce, but I feel compelled to stay together for the children. The children are ages ten and twelve. However, the marriage is quite bad; we argue all the time. We never do anything together, and sex—forget that. I work, and my wife does not work. Can you give me any insight into considerations for whether I should stay in the marriage for the children, or at least until they are in college? I want to do what is best for the children. I am miserable.
The decision to leave a marriage is a tough one, and having children involved makes it particularly problematic. If the children are your primary consideration, the questions become (1) are your children better off in the current intact family? Or (2) would the children be happier living some of the time with you and some with the mother? You have to evaluate the mental stress your kids are under currently.
Psychiatrist Fredric Neuman wrote a recent article in Psychology Today entitled “Why People In a Bad Marriage Stay Married.” Unsurprisingly, one of the common reasons is for the sake of the children. Dr. Neuman notes that there are professional differences of opinion on the effect of divorce on children. Some mental health professionals think that divorce has such a traumatic effect on children, divorce should be a last resort. Others believe that the angst created by constant arguing is unnerving for children and that the children wish the parents would split to stop the constant fighting.
In 2015, we have millions of adults who were children of divorce. Dr. Neuman studied three hundred seventy nine (379) of these adults who were children of divorce. He then released a book The Long Way Home: The Powerful 4-Step Plan for Adult Children of Divorce. You may want to get this book. Adults who were children of divorce need special care as these adults seem to be more likely to suffer from depression, lack of self-confidence, and the ability to sustain close relationships.
About fifteen years ago the Sandcastles Program was developed for children of divorce between the ages of six and seventeen. The Program is a three-and-a-half hour program designed to deal with the problems of the children in an age appropriate way. Each child receives an appropriate age notebook and is invited to express feelings about the divorce in a healing manner. The workbooks can be obtained online at www.mgaryneuman.com. I would encourage you to purchase the workbooks for your children’s age and review the workbooks. While Greensboro has a class for adults called “Parenting Under Two Roofs,” I am not aware of a similar program for children. If a reader knows of one in Guilford County, please write Ask Carolyn.