Irwin Mitchell survey reveals reasons couples stay in
One in four married couples in are only together ‘for the
kids’ – and plan to split once they grow-up, a study revealed today.
‘Being more like friends’, not getting on anymore or an
affair mean a large number are no longer happy in their relationship but many
are too worried about the effect a divorce would have on their children to call
And almost one in five are considering staying together over
the Christmas period before putting an end to their marriage in January.
But it also emerged that of those who have already divorced a
partner, while one in four stayed in the relationship longer than they wanted to
for the children, almost eight in ten now regret doing so.Martin Loxley
, Head of the Family and Divorce Law team at
Irwin Mitchell Solicitors, which commissioned the research, said:
'We see many
couples in relationships where they aren’t happy, or don’t really want to be in,
but who stick together for the sake of their children.
While it is an understandable reaction for parents to feel
that it would be better to stay together to avoid the impact of a relationship
breakdown on the children, in some cases doing so may only serve to increase the
long term adverse effects on them.
Children can often pick up on things and regardless of how
much of a united front you put on, youngsters, particularly older ones, can
sometimes see through it. In some cases, children feel ‘cheated’ if, when they
get older, they realise their parents were putting on a ‘front’ during their
There is help available to parents to work together to
ensure that their children are affected as little as possible by a break-up,
allowing all to be happier in the longer term. If you are in an unhappy
relationship, and if a divorce or separation is handled sensitively by both
parents, children can and do prosper more than they might have done, had their
parents stuck together, but in an unhappy household.'
The study of 2,000 married parents found four in ten are
currently in a marriage they aren’t completely happy with, with more than a
third saying they have too much to lose to get divorced.
Not having the money to move out or live alone, not being
able to afford to go through a divorce and wanting more time to consider things
before making a final decision also mean some feel trapped in an unhappy
But 37 per cent of married parents admit they have considered
asking their other half for a divorce, only to hold off due to concerns about
how it would affect their children.
More than a third admitted they have stayed in a marriage
longer than they would have liked to save their children any distress, with 21
per cent considered themselves as separated, despite still living with their
partner and acting like a couple in front of their offspring.
Researchers also found 18 per cent have a date in mind to end
their relationship, but while more than one in five have set this at a couple of
months, one in twenty are planning to wait ten years or more before calling it
quits. One in five unhappy parents admitted to waiting until their children
reached at least 14 before going ahead with a divorce.
Another one in five intend to see out the Christmas and New
Year celebrations as a family before making a decision on whether to call time
on their marriage. 27 per cent of parents will be making more effort to hide any
marital woes over the Christmas period with most planning to keep their problems
bottled up rather than discussing them.
Admirably, 42% will make a positive effort to ensure that any
arguments take place away from their children or loved ones.
Martin Loxley of Irwin Mitchell Solicitors added:
relationship to an end is a difficult decision and not one to be rushed. We
worked with many parents, all of who want to minimise the impact of divorce or
separation on their children. Top ten reasons for staying in an unhappy marriage
For some, this might result in their delaying a date for
separation. For others, working closely with professionals, including mediators,
counsellors and therapists, can help the family to address arrangements
constructively and positively. There is a wealth of information available to
parents – and children (in an age-appropriate way) – to help them come to terms
with a huge change and move forward to the next chapter of their lives.
There are many ways that an amicable separation can be
achieved to have a minimal impact on any children involved. The most important
thing is that both parties are prepared to put their kids first during the
process and avoid fighting over issues, as involving children in a tug of love
can be extremely upsetting and harmful for them.
Studies have shown that if parents are not happy their
feelings will inevitably affect the whole family no matter how hard they try to
hide it. Parents may be worried about the stigma of divorce or the financial
implications, but ultimately people in this situation need to seek specialist
advice and endeavour to ensure that what they do is best for everyone
Top ten things parents do to keep up appearances
- I have too much to
- Worried about the impact
on the children
- I can’t afford to move
out/live on my own
- I can’t afford to go
through a divorce
- I want to give it some
more time before making a final decision
- Stigma of divorce
- For my partner’s
- Worried about how we will
manage contact with the children
- I worry I won’t meet
- We have too many shared
- Keep problems bottled up
rather than discussing them
- Argue in a different
room/away from children
- Enjoy family Christmas
- Sleep in the same bed
- Go on family holidays
- Go on family day
- Cuddle up on the sofa to
watch TV in front of the children
- Kiss each other goodbye
in the mornings
- Hold hands
- Go on date nights