If you have found yourself doubting whether you should stay together for the sake of the children or get a divorce, there are some essential questions to ask yourself. At the root of these questions is the same concern: will the children be better off if we are together but unhappy or living apart but happier? There are a few key questions to ask yourself to help you make the decision.
Can the marriage be repaired?
This may be the most important question. Have you made a full effort to identify and address whatever the problem is? This may mean seeking help from a counselor (ex. church, therapist, etc.). Getting a professional to guide you as a couple, identify the problem or crisis and take steps to resolve or mend what has broken your bond is one of the most important steps you can make. Projecting this deep into the future, you want to make sure you look back at this time and these decisions knowing that you did everything you could to mend things.
Is there abuse?
Therapists, parenting experts, and judges will all agree that if children are directly/indirectly exposed to an abusive parent, they should be removed from the situation, as soon as possible. We realize it is possible for the offending parent to be rehabilitated in some cases. They can take direct steps and follow a prescribed timeline to allow them to seek therapy, correct their behavior, and learn proper parenting skills -or- if this behavior does not or cannot change then children are better off protected from abuse and divorce is the best thing to do.
Has there been infidelity?
Have both parents sought counseling? Have they attempted therapy together as a couple to talk through and mend the relationship? Have they attempted to follow good advice and/or seek professional help (therapist, couple therapy, church groups, counseling, etc.)? Prior to divorcing and enduring the extreme stress that divorce brings on the entire household, couples need to do all that they can to restore the marriage bond.
Is there a willingness to cooperate?
This point has a lot of important nuances to it, regardless of whether the parents decide to stay together or separate for the sake of the kids. Whether or not you decide to stay or go, there needs to be a willingness to put issues aside for the sake of the kids. It is a tall order but honestly, it is what we sign on for when we decide to become parents. Whether you are doing it across one home or two the goal is to set your children up for success. In either case, that means working as a Parenting Team to put your children at the center of decisions (i.e. what is best for them and their well-being, not what is best/easiest for you). If that cannot be achieved together, then it will be achieved through healthy co-parenting methods.
If divorce becomes inevitable and you have made the best effort to make it work, it is important to know that all is not lost. By divorcing you have determined your child has a chance at a better upbringing than if you stayed together.
The biggest challenge is making sure that both parents can work together for the sake of the children in order to co-parent them effectively. This attitude and commitment make the process of divorce a bit less painful and a little more productive in raising healthy successful children. If/when you have separated, consider downloading coParenter, it not only provides the parenting tools needed to keep two homes focused on what is best for the children but provides unlimited access to live on-demand co-parenting professionals who work with you when issues arise or when you simply have questions.