Divorce without Harm?

I am the mother of four wonderful boys. My husband and I have been married for 11 years. I have been home with the boys and both my husband and I love parenting and have great relationships with our boys. The problem is that my husband and I are not happy together and have not been for a long time. He has not considered divorce but I consider it all the time. We have put so much of our work into having our boys grow up secure and loved I am afraid that a divorce would end all of that. Is there a way to separate without really hurting our children and is it maybe better to stay in an unhappy relationship where we can still parent well together?

You have asked two difficult and complex questions. The first question is “do I stay in an unhappy relationship for the sake of the kids?” To answer this question you need to ask and answer the following:

  1. Am I missing companionship?
  2. Do we co-parent well together?
  3. Is there tension in our relationship?
  4. Is there romance? If not, can we and do I want to get it back?
  5. Have you tried therapy? If so, what was the outcome? If not, why not and what do you have to lose?

Assuming you answer all the questions above and you still decide to separate, the next question is how do you do it peacefully and without hurting the kids? First of all, acknowledge that the kids will are likely to feel hurt no matter how you tell them. A divorce is a loss for all of you. It is a loss of the ideal family kids think they have. It is potentially the loss of seeing both parents daily. To divorce peacefully, and with the least amount of hurt for all I encourage you and your husband to discuss the idea of divorce and come to agreement to divorce. Once that agreement is reached, I encourage you to tell your children together and emphasize that this is a mutual decision and nobody?s fault and that you both love them and understand how hard this is for them. I also encourage you to mediate your divorce with a trained mediator. A trained mediator is a neutral third person who will work with you and your husband to facilitate you resolving all issues in your divorce (property, financial, and parenting time). The mediator is someone with an advanced degree in mental health or law and has specialized training in the family and divorce mediation process. You can locate a mediator through your local family court or www.divorcenet.com or www.mediate.com. It will also be important for you and your husband to learn as much as you can about normal children?s reactions to divorce and how to divorce peacefully. Some books worth checking out are Crazy Times by Abigail Thetford, The Good Divorce by Constance Ahrons, and Mom’s House, Dad’s House by Isolina Ricci. Should you choose to divorce it is important to note that how well your children do depends greatly on how peaceful you and your husband can be in this process.

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