It’s not uncommon – even these days – for couples in an unhappy marriage to stay together because they think it’s best for their children. That may be a good reason for a couple to work on repairing their marriage. However, it generally shouldn’t be the sole reason for any couple to stay together.
When one or both spouses feels like they’re in an unhealthy, dysfunctional or even toxic marriage that isn’t reparable, it can actually benefit the kids when their parents end the marriage but make a commitment to co-parenting. These are a few reasons why.
Minimizing exposure to conflict and unhealthy relationships
When parents are always arguing, insulting one another or not speaking to each other, it’s bound to cause anxiety and even fear in their children. Many children of divorce will say that they were much happier once their parents were no longer under the same roof.
Further, if kids grow up only seeing an unhealthy relationship, they’ll have no frame of reference for what a happy, supportive relationship looks like. Whether one spouse is overwhelmed by the other’s negative behavior or spouses feed off each other’s negativity, this can start to seem normal to a child, and they’re more likely to seek those kinds of relationships as they get older because they feel familiar.
Seeing parents become more fulfilled and happier
Ending an unhappy or unhealthy relationship can make a big difference in people’s lives. Parents can be their best selves when they aren’t feeling neglected, held back or unsupported. Adult children of divorce often acknowledge that their parents just weren’t right for each other and that the partners or spouses they found later were who they were meant to be with.
Of course, some divorced spouses prefer to remain unattached because they find other priorities. Either way, they’re being better role models for their kids when they aren’t settling for a life that’s not what they want. Oftentimes, at least after some time has passed, divorced spouses can parent better when they’re not together than they did when they were.
This doesn’t all magically happen the minute one spouse moves out. It takes time and work. Focusing on your children’s best interests and working to get a fair settlement if you’re approaching the divorce process are good ways to start.