Adult children of mid-life divorce

Spouse and I are in our 50’s. Two children in their 20’s. I would like to think that they are grown and stable and independent, and realistic enough to know that marriages often don’t last a lifetime, so that if spouse and I split now, as friends, with no fighting, then the children would handle it okay. But i’ve been reading stuff lately (books and internet) suggesting that it is really traumatic for adult children when their parents split. I wonder if this is true even if there’s no fighting, so that the couple split just because they have outgrown each other or grown apart.

Anyone have experience here to comment?

I can’t testify as to how adult children will react to a parental divorce, but I can speak in general as a child of divorce. I think it depends upon a lot of factors, but the one thing I will say is consistent is how the parents react and treat the situation. If the parents set the standard for non-finger pointing, supporting each other in the other’s life decisions, and refuse to ever make their children have to choose between them for anything, then the outcome can be good.

Certainly it is abrupt and not an easy transition when your model for marriage and your ideal for marriage disintigrates. Your kids will need to mourn the end of your marriage and redefine what marriage means to them, but it isn’t necessarily the end of all things. When evaluating these books and internet sites, look to see who authored, published, or paid for the study for them. Sometimes they are published or funded by people who have an agenda.

FWIW, due to deaths in child birth, deaths from illness, and accidents, historically, split/blended families are the norm. It is only fairly recently due to better medicine and hygene that intact first marriages are so prevalent.

I don’t mean to come off as being pro divorce per se, but I also think that divorce isn’t the epitome of evil either.

Thanks, athos, for your insights! It’s surely true that most of what i’ve read involves situations when the divorcing couple fought either throughout the marriage or just at the end and afterwards.

I was much younger when my folks divorced, but I can tell you that it was the best thing to happen to me as a child. I went from an environment where we lived at other people’s houses and didn’t always have food to eat every evening, to a solid roof over my head every night, good food, and no more abuse. It effectively made my parents grow up and my father get treatment for his disability. So, I can say that it doesn’t have to be all bad.

I will say though, that I went from an environment of chaos to an environment of stability post-divorce, so I imagine it is harder for those who have lived with their own personal stability to entering the realm of the unknown. I think if you and your STBX can reassure and make sure the transition is a peaceful one, that the kids will eventually come round and be secure that both you and your STBX are happier now.

I was surprised that our grown daughter, engaged to be married, was upset when Al and Tipper Gore announced their separation. Unlike Bill Clinton or John Edwards, Al Gore has (so far as we know) done nothing wrong, and the decision to separate is apparently mutual. Isn’t that as good as it gets, given that a separation occurs? So what’s the big deal? And it isn’t just my daughter. A friend of mine sent me a Washington Post article suggesting that lots of people are upset over this. But why? Does it pop someone’s bubble? Doesn’t everyone know that a lifetime relationship isn’t so likely and may not even be healthy? As long as they can part friends, where’s the sadness, and why is it anyone’s business but theirs alone?

It is curious. I know that when I announced my separation from my own husband many years ago, my mother was infuriated at me for ‘giving up on my marriage’. A few months later, after a discussion with my stepbrother, I found out from him that my mother had considered divorcing my stepfather, but hadn’t because of her religion. In my case, I think my mom was both disapproving because of her religion and also jealous because I was doing what she couldn’t or wouldn’t allow herself to do.

With some people it is possible that they look to be inspired by those who have long standing marriages and when those partners decide to move on to other relationships, feel disappointed, even frightened, that a ‘model marriage’ that they had aspired to had ended. It makes them fear for their own security in a relationship.

For me, what I always try to remember is that all marriages end…eventually, either by divorce or death. There are no guarantees in this world, so enjoy the relationship while you have it and respect/honor/morn it when it’s gone. I think it’s dangerous to place all your security and happiness in one other person, and it is probably unfair and onerous to that other person too. Others don’t believe that way, though.

As far as the cult of celebrity goes, it is our tendency as a culture to live vicariously through others, whether or not it is our business. Agree with you, it’s not really our business is it?

Hi All,
When someone in the family unit is suffering a midlife crisis, his behavior may well be intolerable, embarrassing and painful to those who are closest to him. This takes its toll on everyone in the family.No matter how patient family members try to be, at some point, they are going to become fed up, and may grow to hate the person who is selfishly acting out–not only at his own expense, but at the expense of his entire family.
A midlife crisis, unfortunately, is a family affair, and everyone involved is going to be affected in some way.
When parents are painfully absorbed in their own issues, they are not spending quality time with their children or giving their kids enough attention. The children will resent this, and may purposely act out to get a rise out of their parents. The parents may, in their grief and fury, drag the children into the mix, exposing the child to far more than she should be made aware of. Some adult stuff is just that: Adult stuff. Kids shouldn’t have to deal with it.
Some children may act out by becoming sullen, withdrawn and uncommunicative. Their grades may drop, and their physical appearance and personal hygiene may go into decline. Some children will opt to self-medicate (as by drinking or smoking pot) because they can’t deal with the pain and turmoil, and there is no one to help them because their parents can’t even deal with their own demons, let alone help the child navigate this slippery slope.
I would suggest to Seek help. Get yourself, your spouse and your children to a qualified therapist and work your way through this morass. Do not be afraid to reach out and ask for help. It takes time to heal open wounds, and it may take an experienced and qualified professional to guide you in this undertaking. Don’t assume that everyone and everything is OK, just because, superficially, it may appear that way.
Hope this helps…
Best Of Luck !!!