August 8th, 2022
Listen… No one goes into a marriage planning on getting a divorce…
You likely entered your partnership with incredible dreams, goals, and a whole lotta warm, fuzzy feelings about your future with this person.
You built a life with them.
You built a fucking family with them.
And, somewhere along the line, things shifted. After so many years, you can’t ignore your reality any longer. Instead of feeling valued and safe in your relationship, you’re constantly feeling belittled… disrespected… dismissed… misunderstood… and shut down.
The arguing never stops. Even when the kids are around.
You’re facing the tough realization that you’ve been clinging to your partner’s potential, and their actions just aren’t lining up. Your toxic relationship is filling you with resentment and bitterness. It’s turning you into someone you don’t even recognize. And the tension in your home is unreal.
So the arguments escalate…
You know you’re bringing out the worst in each other, but the thought of splitting up your family sends you into a spiral of guilt and shame.
You find yourself thinking, “Maybe we can figure out how to stay together for the kids’ sake.”
But let me stop you right there.
This doesn’t work. 🙅♀️
And it’s actually worse for the kids, you, and your family as a whole.
Staying in a toxic marriage for the children’s sake isn’t what’s best for ANYONE.
We’re told by everyone that we have to stay together for our kids — shamed for even entertaining the thought of leaving…
People in our lives warn us that kids who grow up in “broken” homes (a term I absolutely loathe) do less well in school, are damaged, and will grow up to become drug addicts and alcoholics.
But this just isn’t the case, y’all.
Here are 3 reasons you shouldn’t consider staying with your toxic spouse:
- You, my love, deserve to be happy.
As women, we’re conditioned to put our needs on the backburner. And we’ve been doing this for a long-ass time.
We’re afraid of rocking the boat.
And if you’re afraid of rocking the boat, it’s probably not your boat.
How many of us have been tailoring our activities in order to not upset someone else?
We have sex we don’t want to…
We get our boobs done…
We clean other people’s messes…
We put up with feeling stifled…
We’ve given over pieces of ourselves. We’ve outsourced our power. And all so we don’t rock someone else’s boat.
But what if this was YOUR boat? Would you do anything differently?
You’re allowed to build your own boat.
A divorce can be a radical act of self-love — one that not only liberates you, but frees your children from growing up in a toxic environment, too.
And along those lines… Do you want to raise kids who grow up and live on other people’s boats? My guess is hell fucking no!
But that’s exactly what can happen when we stay in a toxic marriage.
It keeps us from finding someone we actually love… Someone we could create a meaningful and trusting bond with. There came a point at the end of my marriage when I had an important realization. I realized the only chance for my son to create a happy, loving, and lasting relationship for himself in the future was for me to get out of my marriage.
When my ex and I finally freed ourselves to find that kind of trust outside of each other, we modeled to our son that he deserves that, too.
Psssst: My son is now in his first relationship, and I can’t tell you how loving, kind, and beautiful they are together. Every time I look at their love, I think, “It worked!”.
- Divorce alone doesn’t screw up your kids. How we do divorce screws up kids.
In one study, psychologist E. Mavis Hetherington found that “many children experience short-term negative effects from divorce, especially anxiety, anger, shock, and disbelief. These reactions typically diminish or disappear by the end of the second year. Only a minority of kids suffer longer.”
And as for the longer term, kids of divorce have been found to do just fine then, too. Sociologist Paul R. Amato conducted a study of two groups of children: those who had married parents and those who had divorced parents. He followed each group into adulthood, “assessing their academic achievement, emotional and behavior problems, delinquency, self-concept, and social relationships.”
Know what he found? Only very small differences between the two groups. His conclusion was that most children have no problem enduring divorce.
Now, there are some studies that suggest kids of divorce grow up to have troubled relationships of their own.
But here’s what I found: those are the kids that have been put in the middle of nasty divorces.
They have parents who haven’t done the work on themselves that’s required to mitigate their personal issues. And it’s those very issues that led them to choose unhealthy partners and then have nasty divorces in the first place.
So if you’re doing the work to minimize the negative effects of divorce on your children — putting them in the center, not the middle — they’re likely to adjust and grow into well-rounded humans.
- Divorce with kids is hard, but living in a toxic household 100% of the time is even harder on them.
Two separate homes provide a much healthier environment for children than one profoundly unhappy one. To me, it’s a no-brainer. But there’s a lot of research to back this up.
Dr. Emily Guarnotta, a licensed clinical psychologist, states, “Frequent, volatile, unpredictable outbursts and arguments at home can negatively affect normal child development.”
If your kids grow up in a high-conflict household, they’re likely to develop a host of lifelong difficulties, including:
- Mental health disorders — Children who are raised in highly volatile households can suffer from depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
- Relationship issues — Your child’s imprinting around relationships can be permanently damaged. This affects their ability to develop healthy relationships throughout their entire life. They’re very likely to continue the cycle of unhealthy relationships for another generation.
- Difficulty regulating emotions — After all, kids will model what they see their parents doing.
- Trust issues — When they can’t trust their parents to provide an emotionally safe environment for them, they learn they can’t trust anybody.
- Negative self-esteem — And that’ll break any parent’s heart.
Even if you’re dealing with an emotionally abusive spouse, it’s better to separate.
You may feel the need to stay and mitigate issues for your children when they’re in your spouse’s care, but this isn’t a healthy solution.
One of my colleagues, clinical psychologist Dr. Linda Bortell, says that even if your kids have to be alone with the narcissist half of the week, they’ll be completely away the other half of the week. But if you stay, they’re forced to be with the narcissist 100% of the time.
The world may continue to view divorce as a destructive decision… but when you look at the risks to your children of staying in a toxic marriage together, divorce actually becomes the healthier option for every single member of your family.
If the thought of leaving is just as terrifying as the thought of staying, I can help. Find clarity, confidence, and freedom in my online coaching program, Should I Stay or Should I Go?