Many couples reach a point in their relationship when they experience significant problems and are considering a separation or divorce. However, their logic is to stay together for the children and possibly avoid the emotional scars associated with divorce. Although children may seem like the glue that binds a marriage together, there are reasons this rationalization can make matters worse.
Marriage Doesn't Change Parenting
One spouse may push to keep the marriage together due to their underlying fear their spouse will no longer be an active part in their child's life if the marriage dissolves. In some cases, this is true—a parent may become estranged once the relationship dissolves. However, no matter whether the marriage remains intact or not, it has no bearing on being a good parent. When the marriage is strained, some parents may remain in the same household and but still distance themselves from the children, which can be more damaging. On the flip side, although the dynamics of being a parent will likely change if the marriage is over, since living arrangements or custody can be a factor, if your spouse is a genuinely caring parent, this will not change how they interact with the kids.
Unfair Burden On The Children
The idea of staying together for your children places an unfair burden on them. Although your children are a component of your union, their relationship is distinct from your marriage and should be treated as such. It is never the child's responsibility to hold an adult relationship together, and your child may eventually form feelings of guilt regarding their power over the relationship. If the relationship inevitably ends in separation, they may feel like they caused the divorce. Conversely, they may feel guilty for being the reason two people are miserable together. Make the decision to stay in your marriage because you want to work through problems and possibly find a resolution. But never make your children feel responsible for those decisions.
Damaging Effects Of Unhappy Relationships
Although you may frequently hear about the devastating effects of divorce on children, you must also consider the opposite situation. There are also plenty of children who grew up in broken homes, although their parents were still married, and they may have wished their parents divorced. It is understandable that you want the best for your children and to protect them from any adverse effects of divorce. However, children living in a miserable environment where the parents do not want to be in the same house can be equally damaging or worse.
Many parents erroneously believe they are covering up the problems within their relationship, especially if they are not constantly yelling or arguing. However, children are highly intuitive and can easily pick up on problems between their parents. As children grow older, issues within your marriage are more difficult to hide.
Domino Effects Of Abuse
If you are dealing with abuse in your relationship, it has a negative impact on your children even if it is not directed at them. Specifically, non-physical forms of abuse directed at spouses can have a lasting impact on children. Parents may believe since they are not physical with each other, the abuse goes unnoticed and it is not harmful to the children. For example, one parent may belittle or berate the other. Since parents are a child's first teacher, this can encourage modeling of bad behavior. Additionally, abuse often deteriorates the self-worth of the victim, which can affect your child's self-worth and how they value others.
Making the choice to work through problems and try to salvage your marriage must be done for the right reasons to have a good chance of reconciliation. Holding a marriage together only for the children can have damaging effects on everyone involved.
For more information and help with either your marital problems or the decision to divorce, it may be good to visit marriage counseling, such as from Drake Counseling Services, where you can try to work out your problems and truly consider the needs of your children.