Stay Together For The Kids? No Fault Divorce – A Family Therapist’s Perspective

A proposed bill making it more difficult for couples seeking divorce, making no fault divorces illegal in Iowa, is what prompted this Family Therapist and Parenting Expert to be requested as the guest expert on WWL – AM/FM Radio. Although the outcome is that the divorce bill will not advance in the legislature this year, this topic remains a valuable subject matter for parents to process and think about. You are invited to listen on demand to Dr. Karen Ruskin’s LIVE interview with host Scoot on The Tommy Tucker Show discussing: Stay Together For The Kids ? No Fault DivorceIn addition, below you will find documented on this blog for your reading interest, several of Dr. Karen’s talking points including:

  • No fault divorce? Should legislature determine what is considered divorce-able vs. not?
  • Do couples throw in the towel too quickly?
  • Should parents consider their children, when deciding whether or not to get a divorce?
  • Are children impacted by divorce?
  • Should it be more difficult to get married?

Dr. Karen’s Talking Points:

No fault divorce?  

People have the right to marry, and the right to get a divorce. Humans and choice – important words that go together and I believe should remain together.

Do couples throw in the towel too quickly? 

Absolutely. Far too many people throw in the towel too quickly. We have become a disposable culture. In such a ‘me-me’ climate of instant gratification, it is no wonder divorce is so common as a considered choice and so common as an outcome. It is this psychotherapist’s philosophy that we as individuals within one’s marriage must take ownership of what ‘I’ can do to help this marriage. Rather than pointing your finger at what ‘the other’ needs to do. Far too many feel entitled that things should be better. Therefore, if their marriage, if their spouse is not meeting up to their expectations of marriage, then they give up on the relationship. Marriage and divorce is about philosophy. Our philosophical beliefs.

With that said, are there people who do not throw in the towel too quickly? Absolutely.

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Should there be legislature to determine what qualifies as ‘divorce-able’ vs. not ‘divorce-able’?

No. This family therapist believes that it is not up to the government to evaluate and conclude whether a particular life pain, life trauma, life challenge, a person’s unhappiness, etc., qualifies and quantifies as acceptable to get a divorce. It is a  person’s choice to remain married or not. Albeit unfair for the person who wishes to remain married, albeit unfair for children who wish their parents would find a way to work it out. We as humans do have choice. We must. It is this marriage and family therapist’s stance that people need to take responsibility of their behavior, take responsibility of their marital relationship, and constantly put effort into their marriage, not because the law is saying you must. Rather, because when you make a commitment to another person in marriage, and you make an unspoken commitment to your children by bringing them into this world, it is on your shoulders to do what it takes to provide for a healthy family life for those children and for a healthy marital relationship for you and your spouse. Water the plant of marriage!

Should parents stay together for the kids?

Children should be considered in the decision as to whether to stay together or not to stay together. The voice of your children matter. To not consider them is utterly disrespectful. Children are to be valued as part of the family unit, which is my parenting philosophy that I have been sharing for 20 years via parenting education workshops, in my office with clients, and in my parenting book entitled: 9 Key Techniques For Raising Respectful Children. A decision such as a divorce not only affects you, and your spouse, it affects your children. Evaluating remaining with your spouse in contrast to getting a divorce, in contrast to getting marital therapeutic help, is of significance. No one can make the final decision for you, it is your decision to make. Do know that to not consider your children is not only unfair, it is down right wrong as a parent. Of course, it is ideal for children to have both of their parents living in the same home experiencing a healthy relationship. To think otherwise is being simply, well, silly. There are cases where staying together is better for the children, and there are cases where getting a divorce is better for the kids. Making that decision is not always easy. I highly recommend seeking out counseling if you are considering getting a divorce to have someone to talk through this serious life decision with.

There are children who are happy and successful with parents who are married, and there are children who are happy and successful with parents who are divorced. Being married or being divorced does not directly infer the mental health and wellness outcome of your children. It is what happens within the marriage, within the divorce, the parenting – this all matters.

Are children impacted by divorce? Are children impacted by parents staying together in a loveless marriage?

Yes and yes. Relation-ally  individually, academically, socially, emotionally – in all ways children are affected. Children learn how to communicate, learn their conflict resolution skills from the observation and experience of their parents’ relationship. Children’s self worth, confidence, attention span, behavior at home, in school, and in other environments is affected by their parents relationship or lack there of. Children and their emotional mental health and wellness as well as their physical health, as the mind and body are connected – are affected in the now and long term by divorce, by marriage, by how their parents interact with one another – bottom line. As adults, as parents, considering in an honest way the role that you play on the development of your children is wise.

Should it be more difficult to get married?

No. It is not up to some ‘higher power’ e.g., government, to dictate. Making it more difficult to get married is not the solution. Rather, we must take ownership of recognizing the reality prior to marriage that marriage is not effortless. Marriage takes work. Marriage is not perfect. Marriage will go through a journey of challenges. It is up to YOU to take action to help your marriage survive and thrive. The marital journey requires time and effort, it must be nourished and nurtured. Choose wisely and give it everything you got. Marriage is worth the effort.


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