Why Bother Getting Divorced Now?

We all deserve happiness and to reach our mature years without domestic conflict and struggle. Some things in a relationship can be worked on and improved, others can’t.

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Q - My parents have told us that they’re going to get a divorce – they’re in their 50s! Me, my brother and sister are all in our mid to late 20s and have kids of our own and so this will upset a lot of people.

Mum and dad have always argued, bickered and even fought, and to be honest it would have been better in many ways if they’d spilt up earlier and we wouldn’t have had to witness it all as kids.

I can’t see the point of them divorcing now. All their kids are off their hands so they should be looking forward to a calmer happier retirement.

A - I doubt they see themselves as on the cusp of retirement just yet 🙂

When we’re in our 20s, people in their 50s seem old. When we’re in our 50s then it’s people in their 80s who seem old.

The point is, assuming they’re both agreeable to this divorce, then they see themselves as young enough to start again if they want to, and to find a new partner. One of them may have already found someone else.

Perhaps they got together when they were too young and inexperienced – and they later found out that they weren’t particularly compatible, but their children kept them together.

Some things in a relationship can be worked on and improved, others can’t. If the love and respect is missing (or trust, kindness and deeper connection) then it might feel easier and preferable to start again elsewhere.

We all deserve happiness and to reach our mature years without domestic conflict and struggle. Life brings us many challenges quite aside from those we create for ourselves at home.

I understand that you think they’re making a mistake – and I have no doubt that they’ve thought the same about you and your siblings from time to time too. But you have to let them get on with their choice and decision.

Please try to see it from their point of view and give them the support they’ll need to keep the family bonds in tact with their children and grandchildren.

This will be a time of transition for you all – particularly if either of your parents has a new partner.

They are still your parents and you still have your own individual relationship with them.

It might be helpful for you to talk through what it was like for you growing up with all that conflict and the effect it’s had upon you and your own relationships since. 

Not as a way of blaming or shaming them but more as a way of sharing your inner child’s feelings about the effects of their relationship upon you.

It may be that your inner child feels angry that they’re ending their conflicted relationship now, and didn’t do so earlier before it had an impact upon you, and your siblings.

If they were too busy fighting they may have unintentionally neglected your emotional needs. It’s harder to identify what we didn’t get and what was missing in childhood, and easier to say what was wrong about what we did get.

Emotional neglect or abuse (whether intended or not) cast their own shadow upon the developing psyche, as do the more obvious forms of abuse and neglect.

Think about what was missing for you as you were growing up, and what you now realise you could have done with back then – and share this with your parents (together or one at a time).

This will help you to heal any leftover emotional wounds from your past as well as let them know how their fighting, arguing and bickering has affected you.

Then you can all move on to the next phase of your relationship with a clean slate and a shared vow not to repeat history.

Maxine Harley (MSc Psychotherapy) MIND HEALER & MENTOR

www.maxineharley.com - recovery healing and re-parenting your inner child - and making peace with the past

www.maxineharleymentoring.com - helping women to understand and manage their emotions, boundaries and behaviours

www.the-ripple-effect.co.uk - a series of 10 online self-help workshops 

www.qpp.uk.com - The new paradigm in therapy - which changes sub-conscious beliefs. You can change your life in 24 hours when you change our S.C.R.I.P.T. (c)

Maxine Harley



Go to the profile of Diane Priestley
over 4 years ago

Thank you for this excellent article Maxine. I really relate to it. Isn't it funny how young people consider that those of us over 50 should be ready for retirement and a quiet life just when we are feeling exhilarated with a sense of freedom and new lease on life! 

I can identity with the parents. They might well have stayed together, despite incompatibility, for the benefit of the kids. They waited until the kids reached adulthood and independence before divorcing yet, ironically the grown-up kids are still upset! (and judgemental) 

The parents have done their job raising their family and now have a second chance at love and happiness with new partners. Yes the kids needs to resolve old childhood issues, but give your parents your blessing in launching into an exciting new stage of their lives! 

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
over 4 years ago

Indeed Diane... well said!

I really appreciate you taking the time to comment and share your opinions too. Maxine :-)

Go to the profile of Diana Jordan
over 4 years ago

This is a sad tale, but not an uncommon one.  Unfortunately parents tend to stay together "for the sake of the children" when in fact the children would be happier if they were apart because one of the worst things for children is parents who fight.

The other factor which people often don't realise is that the older the children are, the harder their parents' divorce is for them.  And, as is illustrated here, that applies just as much when the children are adults.

Maxine gives excellent advice above re thinking about what was missing in childhood and, crucially, doing whatever is needed to ensure this is not passed on to the next generation as these patterns do get repeated.  Family therapy or family constellations could be helpful here if all were willing. 

Go to the profile of Maxine Harley
over 4 years ago

Thanks for your insightful comments Diana - I agree with you.

My parents were totally incompatible and married reluctantly after the birth of my sister in the 1950s.

They argued and fought - sometimes violently. As a child I often thought that we (myself and three siblings) would have been better off emotionally and physically (if not financially) if they had split up.

This wasn't a popular option decades ago and so unhappy couples 'stuck it out' - and there was no chance of them accessing any therapeutic help either.

Things are much more liberal these days but as you say - the grown up children often still prefer the 'status quo'.

Maxine :-)