Staying together for the children sounds admirable but may, in fact, present other challenges. While I prefer to help couples stay together, for themselves and the family unit, it is imperative that the spouses really want to work primarily on their relationship with each other.
What are children of divorce witnessing within their parents’ relationship? How are the kids learning to be “authentic” in relationships? Children of divorce often are fully aware of the “games” adults play to stay together. They grow up witnessing tension and conflict that is pervasive in the home, as opposed to the love and nurturing that should be there in an emotionally solid family.
The parents need to take a hard look at their relationship. Do they really want to save their marriage for their children, or for themselves? If not for themselves, it is better to help all the family members learn to cope with the fear and anxiety of the potential parental breakup than to expose the children to unhealthy behaviors by staying together for the children.
Rick Tivers, LCSW, BCD, CGP is a partner in The Center for Divorce Recovery, with offices in Northbrook and Chicago.