It’s almost a cliché that many unhappily married couples stay together “for the children.” Many parents are afraid that the divorce of their parents will be traumatic for the kids. So they grit their teeth and promise themselves they will end their marriage once the children are grown up and out of the house.
But for many adults, the news that their parents are splitting up can still be a shock. In some ways, it stirs up the same emotions that the children would have felt had the divorce happened when they were 9 instead of 29.
Common adult child reactions to their parents’ divorce
First, there is the guilt of wondering if they are the cause of their parents’ misery. Nobody wants to feel responsible for making someone else unhappy, especially if that person is someone you love. So being told that your parents only stayed together until you were older can be difficult to hear.
Alternatively, it can anger adult children. They may feel like their parents lied to them during their childhood. Though they probably knew their parents’ relationship had problems, they still thought that the good outweighed the bad. Now that the truth is out, the children may be questioning everything they thought they knew about their childhoods. What was real and what was a lie to protect their feelings?
Divorce can be necessary at any age
Still, as much of a shock as it may be for your children, you may have good reasons to seek divorce later in life. If you genuinely did stay with your spouse for the children’s sake, now is the time. It is also possible that things have changed in your relationship. Even after decades together, people can grow apart. Maybe retirement has exposed things about your spouse that you cannot live with anymore.
Your children may not like it now, but they will adjust in time. In fact, your family relationships may improve once you are free of a marriage that is making you miserable.
If you are considering divorce, you probably have a lot of questions about financial security and how the process works. Talk with an experienced family law attorney to get your questions answered and help you decide whether to proceed.