When is Getting a Divorce the Best Choice?
I have a dilemma. My husband and I are no longer compatible, but we have children who are in elementary school. We want to separate, but do not want to do that to our children. If our children are living with a dysfunctional marriage, is it better for them for us to divorce? Of course, a divorce will break their hearts, but is it worse for them to see their parents miserable? Some of our friends and family say we need to continue counseling and figure out a way to make it work for the children’s sake. And others are saying separating will be more beneficial for the children, because they will finally see their parents happy.
**A: The first thing you probably need to do is stop asking for opinions and/or listening to advice. This is a decision you and your husband have to make for the benefit of your family and your happiness. This is not an easy decision to make. It should definitely not be done in haste. No one out there knows the RIGHT answer. They know what they see, and what they think is best. Only you and your husband know the intricacies of your home, your relationship, and your heart.
I’m going to ask you several questions. What makes you and your husband incompatible at this point? Would either/both of you be open to a short-term or even a long-term separation? How long have you been in counseling? Have you tried more than one counselor? Is the home a volatile place or just an unhappy place?
Sometimes a separation gives each of you the time to work on yourselves and see what you value about the relationship. It helps you to see where the disconnect might have occurred. It can give the room for you to take a breath and see what you are about to embark on with this choice. This can allow you to determine if divorce is really the most appropriate choice. Separation is a difficult choice because someone usually wants to just be finished. I think it can be the best choice when you are overwhelmed, over-emotional, or unsure. YES...it might just be a stepping stone to a divorce, but it might also be the space you need to find your way to reconciliation. There is a great book recently put out by John Gottman called “Eight Dates.”
I would recommend giving it a shot. Remember the grass isn’t always greener. Sometimes you just need to learn how to make your grass healthier.
As for the children, I just attended my stepson’s wedding where they actually shared in the ceremony how his wife knew he “thought differently” than others when on one of their first dates he talked about how his parents being divorced was such a blessing because he had two loving and supportive sets of parents instead of just one. Children do adapt. Some better than others. This has more to do with the parents than the children most of the time. It is definitely more harmful for children to stay in a dysfunctional home than to live in two happy homes. Can the two of you coparent in friendly and positive ways? Will you likely use the children as weapons? There are actually situations in which the children would have been better off in the dysfunctional home with married parents because it becomes even more dysfunctional upon divorce. Check yourselves on this one!
My advice...If you are going to divorce, stay in counseling individually and possibly together throughout the process. Learn how to forgive, coparent, and be friends. If your children are the primary concern, these things will be what gives them the best chance. This relationship you learn to have with one another is what leads to them saying how blessed they are in regards to your divorce as you both sit there together on their wedding days.
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