For kids, divorce is something that they may never see coming. Maybe you and your spouse kept your troubles hidden from them. While this is a smart move in many regards, it can make the divorce more jarring. They thought your marriage was fine. Then, one day, it’s all over.
In fact, researchers have found an interesting and unexpected result: When high-conflict marriages end, the process is actually often easier for the children and they do better afterward. With low-conflict divorces, the process is harder and can have a greater impact on them moving forward.
This seems counter-intuitive, and some of the researchers even struggled to believe the findings. Many people focus on trying to reduce the conflict around the kids and give them a good life.
It’s not that this isn’t a good idea, but you have to remember that a low-conflict marriage is one that, to the children, feels like it won’t end. They don’t understand the dynamics in play. When the marriage does come to an end, their trust is shattered. What can they believe in? How does it change how they see the world? If even a “good” marriage can end, will any marriage last? These are all questions they may ask themselves.
If the children at least saw the conflict in the marriage, they understand why it ended. Maybe they even anticipated it. The conflict itself isn’t good for them, but the divorce may improve the situation. It’s also far more understandable.
No matter how your divorce goes, make sure you really think about how it impacts your children and what legal options you have.