It’s common for couples that experience problems in their marriage to consider divorce as the only option. Some couples may feel like they’ve exhausted all of the other possibilities. Other couples may feel that divorce is the only option worth considering.
But splitting up is never the only choice. Before committing to a divorce, it’s crucial for a couple to talk openly and honestly regarding their needs, feelings, fears, and disappointments. The couple should be open to discuss things like, what specifically is it that they’re really not happy about? And, what has each person been doing that’s contributing to the issue?
Lots of couples who communicate in this way are able to discover when it was that their relationship began to fall apart. They can identify the minor issues that were ignored at first, but were then left to grow into major problems. Common problems that can strain relationships this way include:
- Financial issues
- Changes in employment status, or unemployment
- An addition to the family, or a family member leaving
- People in the family experiencing changes in their responsibilities
- Sexual concerns
When Children Are Involved
It can be difficult to continue a relationship with your partner after a break-up. You may be feeling angry, hurt, unfairly treated or humiliated. But children deserve to have both of their parents fully involved in their lives, whether or not the parents are still married. This is a significant expectation to place on the parents. Getting it right will mean that your children will grow up to be happier, more well-balanced people.
Parents may be facing issues such as working out ways for each parent to spend time with the children, or deciding whether to allow a spouse who’s been unfaithful to maintain contact with the children they had together. The following points may help couples in this situation:
- Don’t disregard your children’s concerns. Don’t tell them that they’re wrong, or that they don’t understand. Your children are entitled to their feelings, and you need to listen to them.
- No matter how much you think you’re entitled to, do not talk negatively to your child about the other parent. Your child is part of the other parent, and will take the criticism personally.
- Don’t forget that your children need both parents.
- Offer reassurance to your children that it was not their fault that your marriage ended.
- Remember to be patient with your children. It will probably be hard for them to express their emotions, so don’t force them to. In the meantime, give them lots of love and assurance. Remember that they may be acting out in negative ways based on their emotions.
- Don’t lie about what’s going on. Don’t try to hide your separation. That may destroy any trust your children have in you.
- Encourage the children to remain in contact with their other parent in whatever form works best, whether it be in-person, by telephone calls, through online means or via snail mail.
- Once contact arrangements have been made, be sure to honor them. This will avoid additional problems.
- Preserve the child’s family connections. Whether it’s visiting grandma on Saturdays, regular trips to a certain cousin’s house for holiday visits, or summer swimming trips with one parent or other, preserving the connections helps children feel like their old life isn’t gone forever. Letting children stay in touch with relatives, and keeping relatives involved in caring for them, reassures children that the extended family is still there for them and remains a part of their lives.
Seek Outside Help
It’s important to sort out details of contact arrangements, residency and money early on in the process. This can be a situation where conflict escalates. How you talk and act with your children’s other parent is crucial. If you are finding this difficult, consider letting a counselor or legal representative help you sort out the details.
For further help, you may want to consider outside mediation services. Other members of the family may want to help, but this can often make things more difficult. A trained mediator can help you manage your arrangements in a simple and less complicated way.
If you’re going through a divorce, family therapy or counseling may assist you with issues surrounding children and finances. Depending on your circumstances, financial aid may be available for such a situation.
Problems in marriages don’t necessarily have to lead to divorce. Communicating clearly about the problems an issues can assist you when it comes to sharing your feelings, and discerning whether or not the marriage can be saved. If a divorce is inevitable or has already happened, it’s important to take into account what’s best for the whole family while moving forward.