First off, if you're here expecting me to tell you whether or not to end your marriage, you're going to be dissappointed. When it comes to your marriage, you are your most authoritative source. No one knows exactly what your marriage is like other than you and your spouse. Divorce is a serious topic that should never be treated lightly. Here are some factors to consider when asking yourself the big question: Should we stay together for the kids?
What is best for them?
Obviously, you want your kids to be happy. Otherwise, you wouldn't be reading this article. Similarly, your kids want you to be happy. If you're not happy with your spouse, they're going to pick up on it. The friction you generate in arguments with your spouse could be damaging your children more than a divorce would.
Additionally, how do you and your spouse treat your children? Does your marital frustration spill out onto them? Are they getting the attention they both need and deserve?
What is best for you?
How is your marriage affecting your quality of life? While you should feel immense responsibility towards your kids, your happiness is also extremely important. If you feel a divorce is the right thing for you, that's one thing to consider. Also consider the consequences of a divorce. How will limited time (depending on custody decisions) with your children affect your happiness?
If you stay together and instead turn your marriage into a swirling vortex of despair, what are you teaching your children about what marriage should look like? Will your example affect their future marriage?
If you endure in an unhappy marriage, will your kids feel like they are the cause of your unhappiness, as it was them who kept you from choosing divorce? No child should be made to feel responsible for their parents' unhappiness.
Inversely, divorce also seems to send a specific message to children. The chances that women will get a divorce is increased by 60 percent if her parents went through a divorce, according to psycholtherapist Christina Steinorth. The chances of divorce for sons of divorced parents is increased by 35 percent, she says.
That being said, many marriages that sit on the brink of divorce can rise from the ashes and become truly happy and successful relationships. If there are solutions to your marital problems that you haven't tried out yet, what's stopping you?
The custody battle
Joint custody, sole custody, physical custody, legal custody — there are a lot of options. Who would the kids live with? For how long? How would parental responsibilities be divided?
At one point, you and your spouse were complete strangers, then friends, then lovers and then parents. Young children do not see you like that. To them, you're just their parents. While you and your spouse are not blood relatives, you're blood relatives to your children. It's hard for most kids to even imagine that their parents could split up. Doing so will profoundly affect them, for better or worse.
Depending on how the custody battle turns out, your kids could be forced to relocate. Your divorce could mean your kids have to make new friends and assimilate into a new school and community. Depending on your situation, this could be a negative or a positive consequence.
It can be extremely difficult for children to watch their mother or father start dating again. Bringing home someone other than their other biological parent is confusing. Some kids may feel betrayed or have a hard time looking at your new significant other in the same parental light as their biological parent.
Parental authority: step parents
If you decide to divorce and eventually remarry, a struggle for parental authority will be an issue. Will stepparents have the same authority over your children as the biological parents do? Will the children have trouble respecting that authority?
Parental authority: biological parents
Depending on the outcome of the custody battle, the question of which biological parent has more authority comes into question. Your local laws outline who has legal authority over the children, but will the divorce leave you both trying to win the title of "favorite parent" in your children's eyes?
If you or your children are being abused by your spouse, get help immediately. Abuse should neverbe tolerated. Your situation could require serious counseling, therapy or divorce. No child (or adult) should be forced to live in an abusive environment. Your marriage needs to undergo serious changes, or it may be a wise decision to end it.
Take your time and communicate
Marriage is not something that should be rushed into, and neither is divorce. Take your time. Think clearly. Communicate with your spouse. Be wise with what you communicate to your children. Talk with family. If you're religious, make sure you talk with God through prayer.
Are there other things to consider? Comment below with additional important considerations when contemplating divorce.