Divorcing when your children are still young may seem like a selfish thing to do. You may worry about how your children will handle living in two separate houses.
Some parents go to great lengths to keep the end of their marital relationship from affecting their children negatively. They might choose to stay married until their children are legal adults themselves, despite the marital relationship having been unhealthy or unhappy for many years.
While it is a noble thing to try to act in the best interests of your children, staying in a miserable marriage and divorcing later may not be as good of a solution as you might hope.
Children can suffer damage in unhappy families
Yes, divorce is stressful and hard on children. They may act out, start struggling in school and require a lot of support to cope with the changes to their family. However, just avoiding divorce won’t prevent your children from suffering emotional damage.
If they witness constant fighting or microaggressions between you and your spouse, they may begin to think that such hostile relationships are normal and healthy. They could also find themselves bearing the brunt of either of your emotions, as stressed-out parents have a hard time being patient and compassionate with their kids.
Older and adult children often react poorly
If you wait until your children turn 18 to file for divorce, they will know their existence influenced the duration and end of your marriage. When you file for divorce as soon as they move out or head off to college, they will realize that you have stayed in an unhappy relationship for years for their benefit, which could do real psychological damage.
Beyond that, they will likely have a hard time processing the end of your marriage now that they aren’t in constant, direct contact with both parents. Older children are more likely to have intense emotional reactions and sever a parental relationship over a divorce than younger children are.
Only you know what the dynamics are like in your family and what your children currently need. However, it’s important to be realistic about how much your current sacrifices will actually benefit them. Realizing that filing for divorce will be hard on your children no matter what age they are might convince you that it is time to move forward rather than to keep waiting.