by Andrea Harvey exclusively for Blended and Black
As a Family Law attorney, I know firsthand that living in tension is not ideal. I have so many people (men and women) who come in my office and they are miserable. They are arguing with their spouse, they are sleeping in separate rooms, they are speaking to each out of necessity (or not even that), the finances are stretched beyond belief and they are done. And after all of that, they say “well, give me some time to think about it because I may need to stay “for the kids.” It’s almost as if it never occurs to them what their present environment is doing to the children may be having a greater impact that what a divorce could have.
Don’t get me wrong, going through a divorce isn’t easy. It’s what I do Day in and Day out. My clients are usually happiest when it’s over. Almost 100% However, the alternative of staying in an unhappy relationship and living in a home where there is no peace and doing all of that in front of your children does not seem like a welcome alternative.
Children are much more astute than you give them credit for. They know when you’re not happy. They may not talk to you but they talk to their close friends about it. And I’ve heard many adults who grew up in an unhappy/tense home say, “I wish my parents would had gotten a divorce. At least they would have stopped arguing so much at home.” A lot of times, children aren’t interested in the how’s, where’s, when’s, or The Who “done it,” they just want the arguments to stop. They just want a peaceful home environment. And who can blame them? Don’t you want the same? If not for you, “for them?”
I have some practical advice: pay attention to how your children are feeling. Gauge how they are regarding the environment of the home. They may be too naive to notice a difference because that’s all they have known. But still, ask them questions (in an age appropriate way) how they would feel about their parents living in two different places. Don’t even use the “D word.” Ask it just that simply. And moms/dads practically think about what the separation looks like for you and for the children. Many people don’t like a separation to disrupt the day to day of children. That makes perfect sense. But, depending on where you relocate, that may be a reality you’ll have to face. Start searching now for rentals or other homes in the same neighborhood (if you don’t want to change their school in the middle of the year) or wait until the end of the school break to think about relocating. Practically think about how this separation will divorce will interrupt the flow for the children. That’s what is most affected: Schedules. If you really think it through you may realize with a good support system and a good co-parenting system– you could make it work. Sure it’s not ideal, but it can be done.
Change is not easy, but it’s truly apart of life. Staying in an uncomfortable place for the sake “of the children” is a misnomer. The children are already suffering enough through the arguing and bickering. End their misery and end yours as well. I’m not saying that ending has to be a divorce but you have to make a choice: either I’m going to stay married (and work on it) or I’m going to separate and get divorced (and work through that). There is no lesser evil, but I guarantee you, if you do the work, you’ll end up on the other side in a much better place. Regardless of where that place leads.
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