When a marriage isn’t working anymore, couples often resort to legal separation or divorce. It happens so often that there’s a common misconception that half the marriages in the U.S. end in divorce. Although this myth has been debunked, there’s still an annual average of 844,000 couples who legally separate or divorce. Some couples, though, particularly those with kids choose to stay together for their children.
Is Staying Together the Right Choice?
According to Miller & Steiert, P.C., a Denver-based family law firm, going through a divorce means dealing with different issues including child custody, child and spousal support, and distribution of marital properties. All the stress and unhappiness it brings impacts not just you and your spouse, but your children as well.
Studies from as early as the 80s to as recently as 2017 have shown evidence of the intergenerational transmission of divorce. Children of divorced parents are more likely to experience divorce in their own marriage than those who grew up in two-parent families. Studies have also found that children of divorce are more vulnerable to social and academic failure and drug abuse.
Preventing the children from experiencing all these might be enough to convince some couples to stay together. But, new research also suggests that staying together could be more harmful than helpful to your children.
The study by York University found that the inter-parental conflict that occurs before a couple divorces may be more harmful to children’s development than the end of marriage itself. If you cannot get along with your spouse but are choosing to stay for the children, you’re exposing them to a high-conflict environment and this raises their anxiety. Children raised in these environments become hyper-vigilant in response to perceived threats, and they can become hostile and aggressive.
Children’s Best Interest
If your relationship with your spouse isn’t volatile and you can be civil with each other, it might be best to try to work on your marriage — or at least stay in the same house for the children’s sake. But, if your choice to stay together is riddled with conflict and mud-slinging, you should think about how it is affecting your children. Putting the children’s best interest at the forefront of your decisions as a parent is an integral part of good parenting.