Is it really better for your kids to stay in an unhappy, or otherwise dysfunctional marriage?
Have you ever stopped to consider how your relationship is impacting your children and their welfare? Is it really better for your kids to stay in an unhappy, or otherwise dysfunctional relationship?
Psychologists tell us all that time that divorce is hard on children and can cause an emotional impact that will follow them well into adulthood. But it's rare that we hear the opposite side of the story. What about the impacts of staying in a bad relationship "for the sake of the kids"? Who's telling us about the long term affects of that?
I think that we can all agree, our children learn from us every day. How we interact with them, our spouse, our friends, and the world around us. An everyday example of this might be teaching your children manners. We all (well, most of us) teach our children to say please and thank you. We do this, not just by asking it of them, but through our own demonstration of this courtesy to others. If you are a non-smoker, you demonstrate to your child that smoking isn't something that you support. If you eat green leafy vegetables and exercise regularly, you teach them your beliefs on living a healthy lifestyle.
So what does your staying in an unhappy relationship teach them? Or, even worse, what does staying in a dysfunctional relationship teach them? I'm sure that most, if not all, of you would agree that leaving a physically abusive relationship is in the best interests of the child. What about a verbally abusive relationship?
Do we want our children to learn that it's acceptable to verbally accost someone they (supposedly) love? Do we want them to learn that their feelings, wants, and desires for happiness are second to others? Do we want to teach them to lie, hiding their true feelings about their own likes and dislikes in order to maintain the status quo, and not "rock the boat"?
Or is it perhaps healthier to teach them that what they think, like, and want matters? That it's okay to accept and take responsibility for your own happiness? Even if that means leaving a relationship that isn't working for them? That doing so isn't selfish, but normal? I'm not saying that there shouldn't be compromise in a relationship. On the contrary, a healthy relationship has to have some level of give and take. But if you've done all you can to make the relationship work and you're still unhappy, isn't it better for everyone involved to move on?
I've seen so many people who refuse to accept responsibility for their own lives, and I often wonder how much of this was taught. Taught by parents who wanted to do the right thing. Taught by parents who sacrificed their own happiness and stayed in unhappy marriages for the benefit of their kids.
More Marriage Advice from YourTango:
- Got Kids? Stay Married ... It's That Simple
- How To Save Your Marriage When You Feel Hopeless
- The 50 Best Marriage Tips, Ever