Once you have children, your marriage is no longer just about you and your spouse. It is also about the children that you share. The decisions that you make about your relationship will impact your kids, possibly in a long-lasting way.

Quite a few parents going through a difficult time in their marriage consider staying married unhappily because they worry about the negative consequences of divorce on their children. However, an unhappy marriage can be as damaging, if not more so, than a peaceful parental divorce.

When making decisions about your marriage and family life, you need to be honest with yourself about your situation.

What kind of example are you and your spouse setting for the kids?

Does your marriage uplift you and bring out the best in you, or do you and your spouse just make each other miserable? You may hope that your children would learn from any mistakes that you make in your marriage by seeking out their own happiness later in life, but kids will learn more from what they see you do than what you say to them.

Children tend to use the relationship that their parents model as the basis for all of their relationships, too. If you and your spouse have uneven power dynamics, if you tolerate physical or verbal abuse or if there are other issues that would endanger your children if they were to follow the same relationship pattern in their future, it may be time to look at filing for divorce as the less-harm option.

The effects of divorce on children will diminish over time

Yes, divorce is both stressful and emotionally damaging for children. They may lash out at home, perform worse in school and have a host of other direct and secondary consequences related to your divorce. However, those negative effects will start diminishing as your kids adjust to divorce.

The same cannot be said for situations where the negative behavior stems from witnessing fights between parents who remain married and miserable indefinitely.

You will be a better parent when you are happier

It is easier to give your children your full focus and attention when you aren’t going through times of intense stress yourself. While your children may struggle at first and they argue with you about your decision to divorce now, when they have adjusted and you have also, everyone may be happier and calmer as a result of your difficult decision.