Divorce is stressful. There is a lot on your plate between maintaining your job, dividing all the assets, figuring out living situations, and determining custody agreements. Even if you were the one that asked for the divorce, there is some sadness too. It’s a major chapter of your life coming to an end. It’s easy to forget how much your child’s life is changing too. While doing your best to keep all the sadness and hurt from them, trying to keep their schedule as normal as possible, and never bad mouthing the other parent, your kids are still stressed too.
Even if your kids knew everything wasn’t happy in your marriage they still won’t understand why it’s happening. They will internalize it. They will spend a fair amount of time wondering if they could have stopped it. It is so important to keep the lines of communication open with them. What details you reveal are at your discretion, but some form of, “mommy and daddy grew in different directions, and while we don’t love each other anymore, we both still love you very much,” is important. Kids need that reassurance, and often.
Little kids can sometimes hold very unrealistic expectations; such as asking if you can all still live together. Their entire world is often centered on us and how we behave. Keep that in mind always. The way you talk to your soon to be ex in front of them, and how you talk about each other to them, will be remembered. As much as you want the divorce to be over or as angry as you may be, the kids don’t need to see it, not now. When they are older, late teens to adults, they are more capable of having a conversation about how you felt, but now they not only can’t understand, but they will internalize.
Divorce for kids means their entire way of life has ended. Consider (if possible) a civil friendship with your ex until the kids are older. If your kids play sports, are in band, or anything other event you go watch, if you and your ex can’t sit together your kids will have to choose who to run to first. That kind of decision can be crushing for them. Their time with their parents is now limited. They will have different rules and expectations at both houses. They will have a lot of their own emotions tied in as well. As hard as this is for you, it is just as hard on them. Make sure you acknowledge that to them, and try to help them through it too.
Your kids will survive your divorce, but they will need your help to do it. Don’t minimize their suffering (by accident or by choice) because they are young, and don’t compare it to yours.
Putting Your Spouse First: Best Practices for a Successful Marriage
Let’s preface this topic with some quick facts – yes babies need a LOT of attention, and yes normally young children will need your attention and your focus and your energy much more than your spouse because you are teaching them how to be fully functioning human beings. And yes your time and energy will be spent on your children because they need you to survive while they are young. But once you have children the best way to keep your family close and your marriage strong is by striving to put your spouse first. This does not mean you are putting your spouse first because you are selfish or a terrible parent, you put your spouse first FOR your children, your family, and your marriage.
Why should you put your spouse first? Here are some reasons your marriage will benefit by putting each other first:
A Lasting Marriage
According to success.com, “If you want your marriage to last your lifetime, give it the attention and effort it deserves. Your kids will live with you for just two short decades. Putting your marriage on cruise control for 20 years, while you focus on your kids is like falling asleep at the wheel – deadly.” Your children are only with you for a few short years, if you want a lasting marriage then take time to appreciate and love the person who will be with you the longest. You do not get to choose your extended family – mothers, sisters, aunts, nephews, etc. You do not get to choose who your children will turn out to be, the only person you truly choose to love is your spouse. Create a lasting marriage by putting your spouse first.
Happy and Healthy Children
You are your children’s first and most effective teacher – they will base many of their ideas of love and marriage on the example that you give. Your children will feel safe, happy when they have two parents who work together as a team and act like their spouse is their favorite person. Showing a healthy marriage where two people care about each other above all else is one of the best things you can do for your children. According to huffingtonpost.com, “I view my investment in my relationship with my spouse as one that is beneficial to our family as a whole.”
Putting your spouse first, caring for their needs, loving them, and being aware of their thoughts and feelings is a fantastic way to care for a lasting romance. Your children will eventually leave, but your spouse will be with you if you take the time to create that lasting relationship.
Here are some reasons – centered on children – for why you should put your spouse first:
Putting your children first, instead of your spouse, gives your children an unrealistic view of the world in which they are the center of attention. In an article by physician Danielle Teller, titled “How American parenting is killing the American marriage,” she said, “Children who are raised to believe that they are the center of the universe have a tough time when their special status erodes as they approach adulthood. Most troubling of all, couples who live entirely child-centric lives can lose touch with one another to the point where they have nothing left to say to one another when the kids leave home.”
Children Who Blame Themselves
If you put your children first and your marriage suffers because of it, your children may start to blame themselves for your unhappiness. According to psychologytoday.com, “Unhappy and unfulfilled parents can lead their kids to conclude that marriage makes people unhappy, or if the focus of their discord centers on child-rearing differences, that they are the source of their parents’ unhappiness.”
It benefits you, your spouse, your marriage, your children, and your whole family when you put your spouse first.
How Being Positive Can Help Dispel Feelings of Loneliness After a Gray Divorce
The term “gray divorce” is generally used to refer to people getting divorced in their fifties. Often, you’ll find that these are couples who stayed together for the sake of the children. And as soon as the kids were safely off to college, the couple didn’t feel the need to stay together anymore. Of course, things may not be as cut and dried as this; there are many other reasons why people get divorced as well. But if the couple has been married since their twenties, then it’s likely that they stuck it out for the kids.
Like any other divorce, the thing that’s most scary about a gray divorce is the idea of being alone. You get used to having someone around to do normal things with, such as running errands or watching TV. You might have other couple friends that you went to meet together. Even if you didn’t spend a lot of time together, there’s a certain sense of comfort in having someone else in the house at the same time. So the idea of losing that can be intimidating.
Friends and Kids
It’s more than likely that one of the two spouses will also lose their friends because friends always end up having to take sides in a divorce, thus enhancing the feelings of loneliness. Although children don’t have to take sides, the fact is that the child will end up feeling more sympathy for the parent that they are closer to.
When you’ve been one half of a couple for so many years, your dating skills are quite rusty. You might feel self-conscious about approaching a member of the opposite sex. Women often complain that men their age are looking for younger women. And if the men are fairly successful in their careers, younger women are also open to dating them. So there are some obstacles when it comes to dating again.
It’s important to keep in mind that you’re not going to be alone for the rest of your life. A lot of self-help gurus recommend that you should remind yourself about all the good things in your life; this will give you the motivation you need to keep going. Try online dating or download an app which will allow you to chat and become comfortable with someone before meeting them. And remember that you now have the freedom to try whatever you like. Be adventurous.