The Family Project: Divorce questioned
Q. My husband and I have been arguing and not seeing eye to eye for a long time. We have tried counseling and nothing is working. We have two children, ages eight and three. I am not being abused and my husband is a great father. I really don’t want to be married to my husband anymore. Should I just put up with it until the children are older?
“I frequently hear the question, ‘Should we stay together for the sake of the children?’” panelist Chad Stefanyak said. “What I’ve never heard are young adults saying, ‘Thank god, my parents stayed together,’” Stefanyak said, adding that if the mother is miserable, the children are going to be aware. “It affects the atmosphere of the home,” Stefanyak said.
If the mother is unhappy, panelist Mike Daniels said, she needs to work it out. “It is unfair to put the decision on the children,” Daniels said, noting that, although the parents had been to counseling, he wondered if the mother has told the husband she wants a divorce. “Life happens better when we do it in a planned way. Whether they stay together or get a divorce, they need to have a conversation about what they need to do and how to do it,” Daniels said.
Panelist Mike Ramsey said, “Counseling should also be about how to get divorced, not just how to avoid divorce. The couple needs help in how to work out issues like custody, child support and visitation schedules that need to be considered if they do decide to divorce. There is also value in getting professional support for the kids.”
Panelist Pam Wallace said the mother needs to be aware that if she and her husband argue and don’t see eye to eye now, depending on what the arguments are about, they likely won’t see eye to eye after the divorce.
“Leaving her husband is a huge decision that only she can make,” panelist Denise Continenza said, adding, “She [the mother] needs to consider if divorcing will make her happier, and a better parent.”
Stefanyak said, “I don’t know if her life will get better, but it will get more complicated. There are things she will need to explore with an objective person.”
This week’s team of parenting experts are: Pam Wallace, Program Coordinator, Project Child, a program of Valley Youth House; Wanda Mercado-Arroyo, former teacher and school administrator; Chad Stefanyak, school counselor; Michael Ramsey, MS, LPC, Program Supervisor, Valley Youth House; Mike Daniels, LCSW, Psychotherapist, CTS; and Denise Continenza, extension educator.
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The Family Project is a collaboration of the Lehigh Valley Press Focus section and Valley Youth House’s Project Child.
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