By Rosalind Sedacca, CDC
Is our down-turned economy having an effect on divorce in the U.S. and other nations? Reports from marriage counselors and divorce attorneys around the globe are in agreement. They’re finding many couples who were ready to call it quits are postponing the divorce decision due to financial reasons.
In the U.S., with the cost of food, fuel and housing at near-record highs, many couples are just not divorcing. They are afraid they can’t afford it.
Does this mean couples are finding new ways to get along and reconsider working on their marriages? In some cases, yes. But for many it just means adapting to continued unhappiness, disappointment and frustration.
Children pay the price
This, of course, does not bear well for their children. They experience the negative consequences of a distressed marriage. A tough call whether the couple splits or stays together because of economic factors.
Too many couples are financially dependent on one another to make a break. However, they have lost their emotional interdependence which helps a couple thrive during outside challenges. Without the affection and emotional connection, these couples are basically house-mates sharing a home and living expenses.
Parenting is an added responsibility that can’t be ignored
The problem is that they are also parents. And their children may be even more confused than ever about life at home. Both parents are still married and together – but are they? This is a big concern for therapists, divorce coaches, school guidance counselors and clergy. These and other professionals understand children’s emotional and psychological needs during times of high stress.
In the past it was common for divorce rates to spike during times of financial insecurity. Back in the recession of 1997 the divorce rate rose close to 20%. However, during real tough times, such as the Great Depression, divorce rates declined. That’s because people can’t afford the luxury of splitting into two separate homes.
Remembering what really matters for children
There are no clear resolutions for today’s economic crisis. Or for parents caught up in the whirlwind around the divorce decision. However, staying together in a marriage that continues in “form” only can be damaging for the children. Too often those marriages fail to focus on what really counts. The emotional safety and security factors that children need to thrive, feel self-confident and express themselves.
Questions to ask and answer as a couple
Parents — whatever you do, stop and ask yourself some fundamental questions before moving ahead. They’re important whether you remain in – or out – of the marriage:
- Are we taking the time, despite economic stress, to give our children the loving attention they deserve?
- Are we providing a secure and caring environment for our children – whether we share the same residence or two separate homes?
- Are we providing the nurturing, values and personal time we want for our children despite our own challenges as adults?
- Are we creating welcome rituals with one or both parents so our children feel we still are a “family” regardless of the form it takes?
- Are we needing outside professional help to make sure our children are feeling safe, secure and loved in their home environment(s)?
- Are we being honest with our children without confiding adult details that would be confusing and burdensome for them at their age?
- Are we not arguing, badmouthing each other, creating tension, bitterness, sarcasm or other negativity when the children are present?
- Are we reminding our children how much we love them and always will regardless of changes in where and how we live?
How you answer these questions will determine the quality of life your children experience. That’s true whether the family is living in one home or two. Always remember, you are parents first – and a couple struggling with marital or divorce issues second.
Make all your decisions with that in mind and your children will thank you.
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Rosalind Sedacca, CDC, is a Divorce & Parenting Coach, Founder of the Child-Centered Divorce Network and author of How Do I Tell the Kids about the Divorce? A Create-a-Storybook Guide to Preparing Your Children — With Love! To get Rosalind’s free ebook on Post-Divorce Parenting: Success Strategies for Getting It Right as well as her coaching services and other valuable resources on divorce and parenting issues, visit www.childcentereddivorce.com.
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