The truth is, unhappy marriages rub off on the children stuck in the middle. Instead of the hoped-for stability, security, and even happiness they desire for their children, the result is often the exact opposite.
Here are three reasons parents in such situations need to reconsider sticking it out for their children:
1) Your children will likely internalize the way you and your unhappy spouse treat each other
For better and for worse, your children watch your behavior and mimic it, so if you aren’t modeling healthy relationship behavior (and face it, if you’re stuck in a loveless marriage, you’re not), then it’s far less likely they’re going to be able to have healthy relationships in the future. They learn what to expect from relationships from you.
As James Baldwin wrote, “Children have never been very good at listening to their elders, but they have never failed to imitate them.”
Think about how you and your spouse treat each other, look at each other, (fail to) show affection toward each other. Is that really what you want to model for your children?
2) Resentments are inevitable
When parents operate from a place of discord, resentment is inevitable…and that resentment carries over to your children. Not only is it likely that they will take one parent‘s side over the other, but it’s equally as likely that they’ll find someone to scapegoat for the unhealthy relationship in their home, which can in turn lead to a greater likelihood of anger management, anxiety, depression, guilt, and self-esteem issues.
It doesn’t require a divorce for children to feel as though they are living in a broken home, and suffer the consequences. In fact, it may be just as common for children living with parents stuck in unhappy marriages.
3) Your children will pick up your conflict
Remember, children mimic what they see, and that includes nonverbal communication. If you and your partner have an unhappy and tense relationship, that’s what they’re going to demonstrate elsewhere. While healthy conflict is good, and can teach your children how to live better lives, constant conflict is traumatic, and can have long-term repercussions for your children’s mental and emotional well-being.
Your children deserve better than that, so don’t settle for a relationship in your own life that isn’t the best. Instead, show them healthy boundaries, independence, and self-respect…and it’s likely they’ll demonstrate the same when they’re adults.
*This content was inspired by an amazing article that can be found here.