Divorce Coach Explains Why Staying Together For The Kids Is A Horrible Idea

If you're miserable, so are your kids.

Last updated on Jun 09, 2024

Child witnessing parents fight, staying together for the kids is a bad idea Milan Radulovic's Images | Canva

Deciding if divorce is the best solution to the troubles you’re facing in your marriage is never easy. It’s gut-wrenching. You’ve invested years in building a life together, and the thought of starting over isn’t appealing. It’s frightening! But you’re not happy. You know you deserve happiness, and so does your spouse. And your kids deserve it too ... especially your kids. That’s the biggest problem: Your kids deserve happiness. 


Right now, you believe that they will never be happy if you get divorced. Many couples decide that they can’t divorce because of their children. They believe that their kids deserve to grow up in an intact family and that anything less will destroy them. These couples choose to remain mired in their miserable marriages, for the sake of the kids. Unfortunately, choosing martyrdom for the kids is a really bad decision. If you choose to stick things out just for your kids, you can expect to face several problems.

Here are 5 reasons staying together for the kids is the worst idea ever:

1. Your kids will learn that marriage is about separateness, not togetherness

By staying together for their sake, you’ll be teaching them that marriage is about being miserable and disliking your spouse. You’ll also show them how to live separate lives and still be married.


RELATED: To The People Who Think Divorced Parents Should've Stayed Together For The Kids

2. You and your spouse will continue to be lazy

Yes, you read that correctly — lazy. Instead of putting in the really hard work to try to fix things or to divorce respectfully, you can both just go with the flow and accept your unhappiness as a fact of your life. You’ll be choosing mediocrity, and teaching your kids that’s what they can expect from life, too.

RELATED: I Stayed In A Bad Marriage For My Kids. It Was A Huge Mistake


3. You’re choosing to live in fear

Divorce means that you’ll have to live differently. Different could mean living on less income, in a different home, or having to get a job outside of the home. But one thing divorce means is that you’ll have less time with your kids because you and their other parent will be sharing time with them. But that doesn't have to be the worst thing that ever happened. The thing is, your fears are usually much, much worse than reality.

4. Your kids will be unhappy because they'll feel your unhappiness

Children are more perceptive than we give them credit for. It’s as if we’ve forgotten how much we understood when we were their age. No matter how much you try to hide it from them, your kids will know that you’re not happy and that your life isn’t fulfilling or fun. And that’s no way to spend the next years of your life while you wait for your children to finish high school or college (or whatever end date you have in mind.) Your kids also take cues from you about how they should feel. So instead of being happy, they’re growing up with both of you, and they’ll be just as unhappy as you are.

@lifepartnerbykclee You may not consciously realize it, but your unhappy marriage will emotionally traumatize your kids and will set the first example for them on how romantic relationships operate. You and your partner’s relationship traumas will be unconsciously transferred to your children and they will adopt those unhealthy relationship patterns as young adults. So the best thing that you can give your kids is to learn the right relationship skills to create a happy and peaceful marriage and therefore provide a happy and peaceful home environment for your children. #singlewomendating #datetomarry #forthegirls #datingadviceforwomen #generationaltrauma #unhappymarriage #foryou ♬ original sound - KC Lee

RELATED: 10 Specific Times You Should Stay In An Unhappy Marriage


5. Your kids will model the type of marriage you and your spouse have

Unless your children do a whole lot of work on personal awareness, they’re going to grow up to be pretty much the same type of people you are. They’ll accept the same or similar types of situations, and have the same or similar outlooks on life. This means they’ll accept the same type of marriage you do. Is this what you want for them? So, the question isn’t “Should we stay together for the kids?” The real question is “Is this the life I want for my children?” Just because staying together for the kids is a horrible idea doesn’t mean that divorce is automatically the best answer for you. You could choose to roll up your sleeves and get to work on changing your marriage for the better.

Will it be easy? No. Are there any guarantees that you’ll be able to work things out? No. But the effort you put in will be a shining example to your children that sometimes it takes hard work and careful deliberation to make the best decision you can. But that work is worth it to achieve happiness — for your sake, your spouse’s, and theirs.

RELATED: 9 Tiny Signs You're Screwing Up Your Kids During Divorce


Dr. Karen Finn is a divorce and life coach. Her writing on marriage, divorce, and co-parenting has appeared on MSN, Yahoo, Psych Central, Huffington Post, Prevention, and The Good Men Project, among others.