Many couples stay together ‘for the sake of the children’ and when these children have flown the nest, they then go their separate ways, safe in the knowledge that they have done their best. Other couples find that their relationship changes as they get older and something will trigger a separation.
Whatever happens to individuals, divorce in middle age is getting more and more common. However, the families involved are likely to feel completely at sea, as the entire family dynamic changes. Although your children may now be adults, that doesn’t mean they won’t be affected by the change and you should keep their feelings in mind in order to maintain your relationship with them.
Communication is key
When, where, how and how much you tell your adult children will have a big impact on how they accept the news that you are separating. They may already suspect that something is up, or it may come as a bolt out the blue. Choose your timing well, when they will have time to digest the news and ask questions. As they are adults, they will have a much clearer understanding of relationships than children, but they won’t want to hear vicious accusations against the other parent.
Don’t overburden them
Your children can be a wonderful support during this difficult time, but don’t lean on them too heavily. If they have stressful jobs and a young family, then they will have a lot on their plate already. It can also be unsettling – even for adults – to see their parents very upset. Ensure you have a wide support network of other family and friends.
Tread carefully around new relationships
Your children are adults, and know how relationships work, but spare them the gory details. If you have a new lease of life and have thrown yourself on the dating scene, good for you, your kids may be happy for you, but won’t want to know all about it. Hold back on introducing any new partners, until you are sure it will last a while. Whatever you do, don’t tell your children about your amazing new sex life, no matter how great it is!
Compromise around family events
Weddings, new babies, birthdays and Christmas will all come around. Your children may want both you and your ex in attendance and on best behaviour. You may find that your new partner isn’t invited and this is a common situation that can cause huge ruptures within a family. Decide how far you are willing to compromise and accept that it is only one day and to focus on the long term relationship with your children.