Should we stay together for the children?
family holding hands

This is a question I often hear the mums I work with grapple with

When you’re in a marriage which is not working for you, that’s hard for you.  But when you’ve also got children, it adds another layer of concern and worry.  As well as a dose of guilt.

  • How will they cope if we split up?
  • But if we stay together in an unhappy marriage, what will that mean for my children too?

Whichever way you look, whichever decision you make it has an impact for your children.  Who you just want to do the best thing for. 

It’s really understandable that as a mum you want to do your best for your children.  It’s what part of being a mum is – to protect our children from unnecessary pain and upset.  So the thought that a decision you have to make, knowing that either choice could have an impact on them, can be quite overwhelming.  

Leaving you torn between two questions

  • What is the impact of divorcing on my children?
  • What is the impact of growing up in a family with parents whose marriage is unhappy?

Divorce isn’t great for children, but neither is growing up in a family home where the marriage is unhappy or drifting

What I believe is that you shouldn’t stay together for the children, you should make a decision that works for you

This might sound like a selfish position to take – and you may well be thinking that reading it.  And I’m not suggesting that if your marriage is struggling you should split up.

Far from it

What I am suggesting is that you should make a decision that works for you, and then make that happen.  Whether that’s staying together or splitting up. 

What children find really difficult is uncertainty and not knowing what could happen. And they’re well aware that parents split up and will have friends at school who have parents who have divorced.   They know this is a reality of family life.

So if they’re aware that all is not well in your family (and they’re probably aware of more than you realise) they may well have wondered ‘will mum and dad split up?’. Which leaves them living with uncertainty and the worry of not being sure what could happen

What they need is certainty one way or the other

If you’re going to stay together and make it work

Or if you’re going to split

They can handle either of those, but not living in a household where the marriage is drifting along with lots of uncertainty

So this is why I believe that when you’re considering what to do about your marriage, you put to oneside any thoughts you have about what would be best for your children

And focus on the marriage itself

And focus on yourself

Now I absolutely get that this is not an easy thing to do.  And goes against every maternal instinct we have as mums.  But if you’re going to make a decision that works for everyone this is the way forward.

If that decision is that for you the marriage is over, then it would be best for you to split.  It will have an impact for your children, but they will be able to handle it.

If that decision is that you want to give your marriage one last chance, then certainly stay together and do everything you can to create a happy, loving family and home life. 

Don’t stay in your marriage for your children, stay for you