Getting Through to Anybody: Can Children Cause Divorce?
Relationships: Children Can Cause Problems in an Already Troubled Marriage
I think that divorcing couples protest too much that Children DO cause divorce.
Why is it that one of the first things divorcing couples will say and keep saying to their children is that they did not cause the divorce? Is it love or is it something else?
When I’ve asked couples I have seen in marital therapy (realize they are seeing me because they have problems) how their relationship was before they had children, most will say that it was happier.They were more carefree, playful, happy and most importantly and poignantly they remember putting a smile on each others’ face. Very quickly they will catch themselves and say something like: “Now don’t get me wrong, we love our children, but we did get along better before we had kids.”
Children per se don’t cause divorce.What they do cause is a vulnerability in “not ready for prime time”¦and parenting” couples to push through and turn the cracks in a marriage into a gap that you could drive two divorce attorneys through. Increasingly parents are ill prepared to realize and accept the responsibility involved in putting their own immediate needs aside to protect and prepare their children for the world. And to do this without resenting their kids.
A very honest mom once told me that one of the rudest awakenings she ever had in life: “In all candor, I think I had children with the dream that they would unconditionally love me.I had no idea of how much the reality was that they would unendingly need me and then become so angry when I didn’t do what they wanted.”
The conflict arises when the inner animal pleasure/pain instinct to hurt their demanding, tantrum-ready children is at odds with a less strong desire to protect them. When that conflict is too powerful, parents will deflect and displace it onto their spouse.They believe their marriage can take the “slings and arrows” of outrageous feelings they have towards their kids and for that matter their parents and their bosses at work. What they fail to realize until it’s too late is that the bond that is supposed to last “until death do you part” turns out to be “the weakest link.”
WHAT TO DO BEFORE THIS HAPPENS: THE “ARE WE ON TRACK” CONVERSATION
Every two weeks, or at the very least once a month, sit down with your spouse and talk about whether you are both on track with what you want your relationship and family to be.This is a time to share goals and values. Also make this a time to talk about expectations and disappointments, but most importantly to offer sincere “Thank you’s” and sincere “I’m sorry’s” with commitments to change that you keep. Many couples don’t do this because their gut tells them they are moving apart and they have a fear that bringing it out into the open will make it worse, it won’t.
And the more you don’t speak about these things, the more difficult it becomes and the worse the situation gets. Left unattended, disappointment over time turns into disdain and then marital death.So set your time for your first, “Are we on track?” conversation now.