One of the hardest things to know as a parent, is when to call it quits with our partner. We tolerate more than we should from each other so that we can keep it together for the sake of the kids, yet they see us growing more distant and miserable each day, with no resolution or peace in sight.
Our patterns of negative communication erode our sensitivity and compassion for each other, stunting our children’s emotional and communication development, yet there we stay, unwilling to face the truth that our marriage is a disaster. Women who repeatedly ask to be heard, secretly believe that if he would just do this or that, then she, too, would change and the relationship would be fixed. She keeps pleading for a better life, hoping her efforts will get him to make the changes so they can keep the family together. He claims he just wants her to just stop harassing him for more of what he can’t seem to give, and feels that no matter what he tries, it is never enough to please her. The relationship becomes a day to day battle to be heard and validated, and in trying to achieve the minimum of respect, we grow tired, irritated, and withdrawn.
The melt down begins deep inside, then slowly deteriorates everything good about you as a couple, leaving nothing positive for your children to learn from. The children absorb the toxicity and loneliness without being able to express that the normalized tension is slowly killing them on the inside; they want to run just like you do, yet they are trapped by age and dependency. Our unwillingness to change our lives and our internal dialogue holds them back; our inability to say “Enough!” is killing our children’s power and leading them to develop harmful behaviors and destructive relationships later in their own lives.
Regardless, the one question that lingers is, “How do I know when to leave?” What we are really asking is how much do I have to take before leaving is justified? In our hearts, we see giving up as harming the kids more than them living in turmoil or silence. We pick from the left overs of love to get through one more lousy day of resentment while the kids experience chaotic love as normal love~so what has anyone gained?
We all want someone else to step in and make the big decision because we don’t want to be the one who ruined the family or hurt the kids~but really, that has already been handled. We go to counseling secretly waiting for the middle-man to tell us what we can’t tell ourselves. We play the game, drag out the drama, and waste years. The suggested changes never work or last because our heart left the relationship long ago, and what we are really after is a supportive nudge in the direction of divorce.
The permission seeking proves we see divorce as a negative, hurtful thing, but divorce does not have to be seen as a failure any more; those days are long gone. Staying in chaos is the real failure~and it negatively affects children for good. If you are staying together just for the kids, be cautious. Your children need for you to protect them from emotional, developmental, or psychological harm caused by exposure to consistently bad, destructive, abusive, or lacking unions. Long term exposure to bad love is deeply harmful to children. Staying in chaos tells them, “this is love,” and it blows their radar for reading destructiveness right out of the window. Things don’t need to get physical, children don’t have to have major emotional or reactionary issues for you to know that your relationship needs to be over for their gain.
When you position divorce as a good solution, it becomes one. Kids can see it as an extension of your love for them, not as a destroyer of the family. It can teach them that when something isn’t right, you fix it, and you feel the pain of doing the right thing in spite what you want or wish.
Make the decision with dignity, respect, and love for your family in mind. Remove your judgment about what is “right” or “wrong” and look at your children. Tap into what they are learning from what you model, and ask yourself what it must feel like for them when you, an adult, are having a hard time coping with the day to day sadness, emptiness, and stress.
You are allowed to leave each other and you are allowed to see divorce as a good solution. Leaving a relationship that can’t grow teaches your kids how to create success in the face of difficulty. Hopefulness is only great when it is applied to hopeful situations. Try to determine what the most consistent theme of your relationship has been. If the relationship has been in the same cycle for years, you know all you need to know.
To make the leap, take some time to come to terms with the idea that divorce is not what you wanted, but it could be what you and your children need. Plan it in your mind; visualize little details that will make it a success and see your children appreciating your decision, then plan for it like you would plan for a wedding.
Written by Teagin Maddox
For more information, contact the Family Law Offices of Renee M. Marcelle at (415) 456-4444, or online at http://www.familylawmarin.com/