When is it the least harmful for kids to divorce?
February 21, 2010 7:53 PM   Subscribe

Our kids are 2 and 5. Their mom and I have a marriage that is clearly only lasting because we both love our kids so much and they need us. That said, we do NOT fight, either in front of the kids or alone. We just have a big ol' blank where the love used to be. On a daily basis we just basically ignore each other as much as possible and focus our energies on the kids. I do not foresee this lasting forever. However: When to break up?

Since our marriage is clearly only existing for their benefit, I figure I might as well figure out when divorcing would be least harmful to our kids. As I said before, we do not fight or have much unpleasantness; there is just really no relationship at all. Certainly not physical, nor emotional, and we rarely talk about anything other than our children.

She is a doctor and I work at home, so I provide most daily care. Still, they love all the time they can get with her, so I am loathe to split up now. Once we get divorced, I'm 99% sure that I will get them on the weekdays, and she will get them on the weekends. That's the only feasible way it will happen.

So...How long do I wait?

(And before anybody asks, no I have not discussed this with her. "So when do you think we should split up?" is not really a conversation you have if you don't plan on splitting up immediately. It is just blatantly obvious to me that this relationship has no future in it, and you'll have to take my word for it as far as that is concerned.)
posted by anonymous to Human Relations (40 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Have you thought about couples counseling? Is this really a lost cause to you? Would you rather go through the mess of a divorce, or the mess of trying to make it work?

Data point: My parents broke up when I was 15 and divorced when I was 18 or 19. I don't feel like it affected me much. I've heard similar from other people whose parents divorced when the kids were in their late teens. However, it definitely affected my younger sibs.

Also, at some point it may deteriorate into unpleasantness. I'd say split before that happens.
posted by emilyd22222 at 7:57 PM on February 21, 2010

When to break up?

Now? There's no reason to prolong it if the love isn't there. As the child of parents who tried to "stick it out for the kids," I'd really advocate not doing that. Kids are resilient, and there's no best age for this -- they'll be fine. Certainly better than watching their parents coolly ignoring each other.
posted by runningwithscissors at 8:07 PM on February 21, 2010 [9 favorites]

On a daily basis we just basically ignore each other as much as possible

This is how I was raised. My parents didn't fight; they acted like coworkers. I don't remember ever seeing them kiss, or embrace, or casually touch each other in the way couples do. It was a damn cold way to grow up, and it still makes me so sad, mostly for them.

That being said, it still would have been very painful if they had divorced. You can't be sure your wife feels the same way as you do--you haven't talked about this. Talk about it. Talk about it now and then talk about it more in therapy. Try to keep your mind open.
posted by sallybrown at 8:08 PM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

my parents divorced in my late teens and it screwed me up something awful for a few years. it was hard because they were very lovey dovey - hugging, kissing, stuff like that - the end wasn't unexpected either as it was obvious that things just weren't working. but my dad waited until the kids were grown and that was very obvious. i felt tremendous guilt that my existence had kept my parents from being happy. i also felt like i couldn't honestly judge love in a relationship because i had watched a functioning marriage of 20+ years just end. they said things like "we haven't loved each other for 15 years, we just pretended for the sake of the family". here's the thing - your actions are teaching children how to relate to humans on a romantic level. do you want to teach your kids that a healthy relationship is one where "We just have a big ol' blank where the love used to be. On a daily basis we just basically ignore each other as much as possible".

there is no good time to divorce, but i'm of the mind that if you've tried everything (counseling if it fits, instituting date night, making yourselves rediscover what had you making kids in the first place, etc), then divorce when you know you need to. that way you haven't gone from the just ignoring each other to the flat out hating and resenting each other and maybe you can come up with a parenting plan that doesn't use the kids as pawns.

realize this too - stay together, break up, love their mother, just tolerate her - no matter what home situation a kid is raised in, something in it will give them baggage later. you're in a unique situation where you can be aware of the baggage and move forward in a loving and nurturing way.
posted by nadawi at 8:11 PM on February 21, 2010 [7 favorites]

I think you should make every effort to repair the relationship, but beyond that end this.
posted by xammerboy at 8:12 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Since our marriage is clearly only existing for their benefit, I figure I might as well figure out when divorcing would be least harmful to our kids.

The sooner the better. As they get older, they will notice the problems their parents are having, and it will weigh on them in ways they will not fully understand.

My parents had a very similar-sounding relationship -- no fighting, perfectly amicable, little closeness or tenderness -- and their divorce was the best thing that could have happened to my brother and I (we were 12 and 9). We knew they didn't love each other, we knew there was an almost constant, low-grade, never-acknowledged tension that some times bubbled to the surface in bouts of gritted teeth, shut doors, and Dad sleeping on the couch. It was not pleasant. Once they split, they were both happier immediately, and eventually both found new relationships that have lasted 20+ years, giving my brother and I two sets of parents that love and support both us and each other.

It's time to ask your wife what she thinks about your relationship.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:13 PM on February 21, 2010 [14 favorites]

Better to do it sooner rather than later. Give your kids a good example of a peaceful breakup before any animosity sets in. Right now you can present it in a very simple, easy way and act like nothing is wrong. My parents broke up when I was in college (should have done it way before then) and it made me more sad than I would have been if I was 2 or 5 and didn't know what was going on. I probably wouldn't even remember it now.

I also think some couples counseling couldn't hurt, if only as a way to confront the topic with her in a peaceful way.
posted by amethysts at 8:14 PM on February 21, 2010

Either go into couples counseling with the intention of doing your best to fix your marriage, or divorce now. Every day you spend like this is a day you are modeling this relationship to your children.
posted by KathrynT at 8:15 PM on February 21, 2010 [8 favorites]

I'm nthing the idea that sooner is better.
Our responsibility to our children is not only to model stability and consistency on a macro level, but on a micro level as well. I'm of the opinion that unhappy people who stay together "for the kids" are doing more harm than good.
I got much from seeing my parents do what made them happy. You might not imagine that you're modeling "unhappiness" for them but you are.

It's not an easy road but is anything? Being good to yourself is an important way model important values to them.
posted by asavage at 8:18 PM on February 21, 2010

A close friend's parents split up when he left for college; they had stayed together for his sake, and he still feels terribly guilty about that years later.
posted by Blue Jello Elf at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

(And before anybody asks, no I have not discussed this with her. "So when do you think we should split up?" is not really a conversation you have if you don't plan on splitting up immediately. It is just blatantly obvious to me that this relationship has no future in it, and you'll have to take my word for it as far as that is concerned.)

Ask yourself why you've been avoiding talking to her. Because if it's so "blatantly obvious" that it's over, one of you would have brought it up already. Our answers mean nothing to you. When and where you break up is a decision for two people in a marriage, not one partner and the Internet. You must have this conversation that you've obviously both spent an enormous amount of energy avoiding. Saturday, the kids to someone else, the two of you to sit down.
posted by Ironmouth at 8:19 PM on February 21, 2010 [14 favorites]

What are you looking for, research? Anecdote? Searching "when divorce least harmful children" pulls up this pretty decent seeming article (and this question as the forth item as chance would have it). I'd imagine there are a ton of variables and that the factors of how the divorce pans out, how parenting is managed after the divorce, and how well the parents manage to negotiate their post-divorce marriage has a lot to do with it. I'd guess age is not a very reliable absolute factor.

I think you should reconsider your confidence that you know how custody will pan out. I guarantee you there are a million people out there who were "99% sure" they knew the same thing. I think you should reconsider the benefits of trying to communicate with your wife about your relationship. I don't know whether your marriage is intrinsically doomed or not, but I think it's pretty obvious that if is, and if you want to have the least impact on your kids, you will need to get through it with the best possible communication under the circumstances.
posted by nanojath at 8:21 PM on February 21, 2010

("negotiate their post-divorce marriage" = negotiate their post-divorce relationship," I meant).
posted by nanojath at 8:24 PM on February 21, 2010

My parents grew apart when I was around 7 or 8, separated when I was 10, and divorced when I was 11. The fights and the immediate anguish of the separation (Mom's sleeping on the couch) and divorce (Mom moved out) were tough to take, but I felt a strong sense of relief when it was all over. My sister (slightly younger than me) and I knew that things were wrong, even before the divorce. It's hard to say what would have happened, but my sense is that had my parents stayed together, my sister and I would be less happy and less well adjusted than we are now.

I think a crucial element is that my parents never fought in front of us (though I could hear fights through the walls), and that after the divorce they never used the kids as a proxy for their own disputes. They came together to parent-teacher conferences and put up a united front when it came to child rearing. In short, they separated their mutual rancor from their relationship with their children. I think that's one reason that they became friends again after my wife and I got married.

That said: the stress of having young children, working at home (i.e. little or no separation from home stress), and a medical career must be enormous. Might that have weakened the emotional ties that used to bind you? Is there a chance that you could fill the blank with something better? My parents detested one another by the time they divorced; if all you're feeling is a lack of affection, do you think that affection could return if you gave yourselves the chance to focus on your needs along with those of your children and your career?
posted by brianogilvie at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2010

I would research "parenting plans" and divorce. There is a lot of information about what is best for the children and how to make a smooth transition. I cannot give you advice on a parenting plan without knowing a lot more about you, your wife and of course your children. Children react differently to the news of a divorce.

My advice would be to do it sooner rather than later. Children take a lot of clues and learn about relationships from watching their parents. It is my belief based on personal experience as both a kid and divorcing parent that your children would be better off seeing you both happy and well adjusted apart than loveless together. The first few months of adjustment will suck for you and them, but in the long run I think they will adapt and be better off.

It is also my opinion that it is not right to each other to stay in this type of relationship unless you have discussed it and agreed to it. To remain this way silently is somewhat of a lie to your partner. It was my feeling that my wife took advantage of me by remaining married after her love was gone and we had tried therapy multiple times. I was still trying to make it work and supporting her through depression when it became apparent that she had no intention of making it work, she was just staying in the marriage until the time was right for her and to a lesser extent the kids.

Again, research parenting plans and divorce, mediation and children and divorce. Thre is no black and white answers. You will find a lot of grey area. It comes down to what is best for YOUR children. Only you and your wife will know. Also talk to a family therapist with or without your wife. Many specialize in divorce and will have all sorts of good ideas to consider.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:25 PM on February 21, 2010

More importantly, ask yourself "What will my behavior be, post-divorce?" My parents divorced when my sister and I were very little. That proved to be less painful than what came after: an abusive step-father who my mom stayed with until I was in my 30s, a great step-mother who was then divorced by my dad, multiple girlfriends, an almost comically-mean step-mother, step-siblings who came and went along with their parents, etc.

The one good thing in the process was that until I was in my 30s, I never heard or saw my parents denigrating one another. Whatever their issues, they didn't share them with us kids.

The rest, however? A big mess that had a huge effect on my ability form adult relationships for myself.
posted by BlahLaLa at 8:30 PM on February 21, 2010 [2 favorites]

If it's not about saving the marriage, then it's about managing the divorce. My advice (more theoretical than experiential) is that you research some form of collaboration based conflict resolution in order to affect the most rational possible split.

Among other things, this means seek out a lawyer who's experienced in this realm.
posted by philip-random at 8:39 PM on February 21, 2010

My parents divorced when I was six and my brother was eleven, and anecdotally I think it was harder on him than me. One of the things our parents did right was separating during the summer, so we had time to adjust to a new home without school stress. This was especially important since we also changed schools, which would not have been fun in the middle of the academic year.

Since this is something that you're clearly giving some thought to, I would advise also planning what happens after you start the divorce process. What sort of post-divorce family do you want to have? How can you make the coming changes as positive as possible for your children? How will you and your then-ex-wife handle parenting issues and manage the conflicts that arise? These things will have much more impact on your children's experience than the timing of your separation.
posted by unsub at 8:52 PM on February 21, 2010


my parents were sick of each other before my brother was born, but it took until I was like 11 for them to finally pull the trigger. it was awful to grow up in a household where our parents never showed each other any affection whatsoever. it was a terrible example for us of what a marriage looks like.
posted by toodleydoodley at 8:56 PM on February 21, 2010

I agree with the general consensus to talk it out, try counseling, and act sooner than later. It is also not too soon to consider the financial implications of the divorce. Staying together may be about the children now, but (from personal experience) when you split it will also greatly be about the money.
posted by TDIpod at 9:09 PM on February 21, 2010

This is only an anecdote. My parents divorced when I was three. I didn't figure it out until I was 11. I thought they were married but just lived in different places. They were always kind to each other, and to this day I have never seen them fight. They act like good friends. I feel luckier than some of my friends whose parents stayed married longer but fought more or had a more acrimonious divorce. The longer you stay in a loveless marriage, the better the chances that something will happen that will make divorce more difficult: tension and frustration may build, one of you may fall in love with someone else, etc. When it comes to major life changes, it never feels like the right time. Don't wait.
posted by prefpara at 9:59 PM on February 21, 2010

Make sure your expectations of divorce are real. You are going to take a financial knock as you have to provide another house. You are going to take the emotional knock of no longer really having a say in how your wife helps raise the children or who else she allows to help her.

After all the work and expense, you guys are still going to be emotionally, financially and geographically entangled for the foreseeable future.

Learn to communicate. The fact that you two have gotten to the point of breaking up without discussing the problem or the contingency of a future break up means you guys need to talk and having a professional marriage counselor involved would be very beneficial.
posted by psycho-alchemy at 10:51 PM on February 21, 2010 [3 favorites]

When I was in my early teens one of my parents said to me "You know, if you hadn't come along, we would have gotten a divorce." Which my much younger self heard as "You know all of this simmering resentment and inexplicable emotional distance that you've been swimming in since you were born? The reason you walk on emotional eggshells when you're at home? Yeah, that's all your fault." Don't be that parent. And if you go on the same path, you will be, even if you never say it out loud.

Kids are smart and emotionally more absorbent than a Shamwow. You can't protect them from your feelings (or lack thereof) anymore than you can keep them from breathing something harmful by suffocating them. There are so many many worse things that can happen to a kid than a divorce. One of them is living every day with loveless parents.

Just do it right, with respect, and care, and openness, and everyone will turn out happier.
posted by Ookseer at 10:58 PM on February 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would try to work it out with a counselor if you think you love each other enough for things to feel right again once things are less hectic with the little ones. If you don't want to, or it doesn't work, split up ASAP, before the kids get old enough to really get what's going on. It seems pretty clear that people whose parents split when they were little weren't as effected by it as people whose parents split up when they're older. It's almost like the older the kids are, the worse it is up until the kids are out of the house.
posted by ishotjr at 11:11 PM on February 21, 2010

I think romantic love goes away in all long-term relationships. To expect that it would continue to exist forever is a very naive view. If there's no fighting, you and your wife simply have to navigate the new relationship you have. Between your busy careers and the kids, it sounds like the two of you don't get enough time either alone by yourselves OR alone with each other, both things which are ESSENTIAL to maintaining interest in each other. To me it doesn't sound like you need a divorce - it sounds like you need a vacation together without the kids and some couples counseling. The fact that you haven't even discussed this with your wife cements this idea in my mind. If you really wanted a divorce, you would have probably initiated a conversation or two with her rather than going to the internet.

And since everyone seems to be giving their personal backstories about their parents - my parents are still married after 27 years. For a long time when my brother and I were young, my parents seemed like you describe, as more coworkers than anything else, barely speaking to each other about anything other than household plans and finances, etc. But as soon both me and my brother were old enough to drive and therefore my parents had WAY more time to themselves as we could pretty much take care of ourselves, their interest in each other picked back up and, now that my brother and I are both at college and out of the house, my parents' interest in each other has reached disgusting PDA levels and I WISH it would die back down to lower levels. I've experienced similar things in all my relationships, though for me it's the stress of school/work rather than children. As soon as people start having more time to devote to themselves, they are able to care for their partner more.

And I will just say this once: Consider your post-divorce life. The people I know who've been the most screwed-up by their parents divorces all had parents who paraded a constant string of boyfriends/girlfriends around, or got married to someone else and then had kids. The newer step-siblings and step-parents were always viewed as replacements and the original kids always seemed to feel a level of disenfranchisement that I can't even begin to understand. Babies/small children take a lot of work and to expend that effort on someone who's only half-related to your original kids is probably going to be viewed as a betrayal at almost any age unless you manage to do a really, REALLY good job of explaining it.

Here are some interesting articles from the NYT that may have some relevance:
posted by distracts at 11:15 PM on February 21, 2010 [4 favorites]

There is no one on this earth that knows you less than I do, so this somewhat ballsy response will either be waaay off and inappropriate, or right on.

Whatever happened to "for better or for worse?" You guys don't fight or hate each other, and you got together originally for some reason. Yeah, people change, but you didn't get married thinking you'd stay the same person your entire life, but at the same time it was a commitment you'd planned on honoring your entire life.

The question in your original post sums up what's wrong with your entire marriage. My God, communicate, man! Your marriage isn't in its current state because it just isn't working, or because of infidelity or drastic behavioral changes. You both are obviously putting little to no effort in it because of what?- laziness, apathy, selfishness?

A great next step to repairing the relationship (which, according to the little information in your original post, neither of you have made any effort at all to do) would be openly, calmly, lovingly, and truthfully communicating your thoughts and feelings. The true injustice to your kids won't be divorcing at an inconvenient time for them - it'll be the legacy of how, and the seriousness with which, their parents treat things like commitment and people they love. Divorce itself isn't what eventually effects the kids years down the road (and I know that's a pretty big brush stroke), it's the events and efforts leading up to the divorce.

Again, I don't know you, but I do know it can be much easier to hole up and keep to yourself in a relationship, and there's no better way to damn it and to dam it. Communicate. Talk to her. Share things with her. The pain of what you may have to say won't be greater than the relief of knowing you're willing to be open and honest. Counseling is a great way to do this. Often times counselors don't function as the source wisdom and epiphanies that heal a relationship, but simply act as a mediator and facilitator for constructive communication.
posted by Detuned Radio at 1:11 AM on February 22, 2010 [5 favorites]

Do it asap. My parents divorced when I was three, and I have no memory of it, and I've never gone through any of the trauma my friends with divorced parents have.
posted by canadia at 3:54 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Divorce itself isn't the issue, it's how you and your spouse react to the potential stress that divorce can cause.
posted by autoclavicle at 4:27 AM on February 22, 2010

Your kids are young enough that they will bounce back from divorce. If you divorce now, there will soon come a time when it will be difficult for them to remember when you were together.

You owe it to yourselves to strive for happiness, and you owe it to your children to your children to demonstrate for them a functional romantic relationship. Even if that relationship may not be with their mom.
posted by orville sash at 5:03 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

OP, you need carefully to think through your premises.

If you are in the U.S., a divorce is not likely to have the result you seem to assume, that you can get "weekday" custody and (presumably) will receive spousal support and child support to help you do that.

What's likely is that if your wife wants, she can and will position you not as the primary caregiver, but as a slacker who sets a bad role model for the kids. You will be thrown out of the house, saddled with a massive child support obligation to pay for your wife's new nanny, and on top of that will have to pay for a 2-bedroom apartment (3-bedroom if you're unlucky) if you want to have visitation every other weekend.

The lack of romance your kids may be perceiving could easily be replaced by the furious anger of a wife scorned and doing everything in her power to punish you for punishing her for devoting herself 100% to supporting her family and caring for her patients.

Tread carefully...
posted by MattD at 5:36 AM on February 22, 2010

Have you or your spouse ever participated in counseling? Either individually or as a couple? If not then you'd do well to give it SERIOUS consideration. There's a lot to be said for having counseling on dealing with yourself and your situations. Work, life, love, etc. Getting to know your motivations and coping mechanisms can go a long way toward helping you be a better and happier person. If you've never done this then NOW might be a very good time to DO IT. Why continue to plod on through life without a better understanding of yourself? Why inflict that cluelessness on your children?

Look at it another way, plenty of people go to other for help. You pay a plumber to deal with pipes, a mechanic to deal with your car, a doctor to deal with your physical health. Well, why not take the same approach for your mental health? Get someone's help and THEN start making decisions. Don't just bail out because you're clueless.
posted by wkearney99 at 5:51 AM on February 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Now. Do not prolong the inevitable. There is never a good time and when your kids are young, they'll adapt faster than waiting longer and shattering their illusions of family. My mom's divorce from my stepdad when I was nine was MUCH MUCH MUCH harder than her divorce from my father when I was 18 mos. old. Your kids are older than that, but the longer you wait, the more they'll be "used to" a two parent family and the harder it will be to adjust.

(I have a total of five parents and have weathered four divorces in my family and I turned out just fine.)
posted by grapefruitmoon at 6:35 AM on February 22, 2010

This editorial might give you some food for thought. Seems that parents who treat each other well--before, during and after the divorce process--provide the best environment for their children. As also noted above, your idea of an American custodial proceeding is pretty naive. There's lots of worst-case-scenario anecdotes floating around, but all the legal literature on custody proceedings presents best-case outcomes, with amicable splits, far less desirable than you are projecting. It's one thing to live with your children while the other parent is the prime caregiver and quite another to suddenly be labeled, legally, the "noncustodial, secondary" parent and live in a house that your children view as the "other" house.

I think, however, like many have suggested above, that the first step is talking to your wife not about when is the best time to break up but what is wrong between you.
posted by crush-onastick at 7:02 AM on February 22, 2010

My parents got married when I was five, and separated before I was six. They stayed friendly and civil and I loved my childhood. It wasn't a big traumatic thing for me, as far as I can remember. I was very certain that they loved me very much, and their being friendly with each other after they split helped to reassure me that they cared about each other too, which was important because I obviously loved both my parents very much. It doesn't sound like there is any bad blood between you and your wife, and you seem to very much want what is best for your kids, so that sounds like something the two of you could do.

I think that if my parents had stayed together, things would have gotten worse. They split up, I think, because they just weren't the right fit and I think forcing that fit would have led to tension, resentment, and made it a bad situation. As well, going through a divorce in high school, or even late elementary would be more confusing because kids have their own issues at that point and throwing yours on top of them isn't helpful.

On another note, my grandparents divorced after ~35 years of marriage because they weren't a right fit either, but they stayed together for the kids. And then the grandkids. And then when they divorced, I was about 13 and it hurt me a lot. Much more then my parents' divorce has ever bothered me, because that was over before I really had firm memories. If you do decide to divorce now though, maintaining a healthy and respectful relationship with your (ex)partner is important, because that will become your kids' life and you want that new life to be as happy and healthy as possible :)
posted by hepta at 7:26 AM on February 22, 2010

Sooner than later.

Firsthand experience: my younger children are surviving my divorce much better than my tweens are.

I am not a psychologist, but it seems to me that young children really are only seeking love and stability - routine, structure.

They can get this from divorced parents - they can work around the divorce, and it becomes 'normal'. It's just a new pattern that they have to adjust to. Young kids adjust well to change as long as the change is positioned well and they feel loved.

Teens on the other hand have all sorts of identity and approval issues. Divorce to them at this age is about identity - in addition to hormones, now their personal and familial identity is shattered. Much more chaotic.

Separate early and kindly, and life is better than separating later, or worse, separating later with animosity.
posted by burhan at 9:09 AM on February 22, 2010

If it were me, I would start the process once the younger one is in preschool. So that there are some structures in place to support everyone. Aside from that, I agree that sooner is better than later. Good luck.
posted by ClaudiaCenter at 9:29 AM on February 22, 2010

Do it sooner rather than later. Seriously. My parents split up when I was 21 and it was super-traumatic. My dad basically said "well I thought it would be bad to do it when you were a kid." Kids whose parents get divorced early get over it fairly fast, and it becomes a fact of life.

Kudos for not fighting around the kids, and for keeping your kids in mind during all this.
posted by radioamy at 10:20 AM on February 22, 2010

My first thought when I read this was: Christ, your kids are two and five, you are still in the slog of the preschool years. Don't bail out now! It WILL get better, you WILL have more energy for yourselves and for each other, you WILL find each other again.

You have spent the last several years in the most demanding country of childrearing. You have probably already found that your older child, presumably in kindergarten is "launched" in a way that s/he just was not last year. First grade will be better yet. When the second one gets to kindergarten and early elementary, it will be an entirely different ball game--for the whole family, including the relationship between you and your wife.

In the meantime, by all means, carve out some more "us" time. Dates, counseling, whatever, make it a priority. You got together for a reason, you can stick it out, it will get better.
posted by Sublimity at 11:35 AM on February 22, 2010 [4 favorites]

If your children were in your situation - your age, with children of their own - what choice would you want them to make?
posted by granted at 1:12 PM on February 22, 2010

I think you should see a counselor.

Your wife will always be the mother of your children, and the relationship between you two will ALWAYS affect your kids. Because of this, you want to make sure you are building the BEST relationship possible with their mom right now, as soon as possible, even if you are sure that the marriage will be ending.

The best part is, you can suggest counseling to improve the quality of your relationship (for the kids' sake), even before you're ready to divorce. Your kids will benefit from your improved relationship with your wife, and when it becomes time to split, you'll have a neutral third party to help you both manage the divorce in a way that is least harmful to your children.

The good news is: It sounds like you both love your kids, so if you stay focused on the kids, it shouldn't be hard to keep a good relationship during the divorce process.

I agree with everyone upthread: Don't put it off. But keep in mind that working on the relationship is not a wasted effort, because your relationship will continue (through your kids), even post-divorce.
posted by eleyna at 1:36 PM on February 22, 2010

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