Marriage is not easy.
It takes a lot of effort, dedication, and tolerance for our partners to keep it alive and healthy. And when kids are involved, the need to show love, respect and trust in a marriage becomes much more important.
However, some couples are not bound together by love, respect, and trust, but children. Their relationship is often loaded with frustration, anger, and pain, but because they have kids they will not consider getting divorced.
Of course, divorce and separation are harmful to children. However, staying in a toxic marriage is actually more painful and dangerous to children.
And here is why a toxic marriage is worse for kids than divorce.
Children tend to develop anger issues later in life
Kids from unhappy homes tend to develop mood problems later in life such as persistent depressive disorder and dysthymia. When not addressed early enough, these issues can lead to substance abuse or a personality disorder late in life.
According to Psychology Today, most children from unhappy backgrounds also tend to lose hope and expect the worst in life. This affects their academic performance in school and the general level of happiness in life.
Kids may copy their parent’s toxic marriage model
Children raised in a toxic marriage can replicate the marriage model they grew up with.
Seeing their parents argue becomes normal and they’ll think it’s ok to settle differences with arguments. They will grow up believing it’s normal to be in a dysfunctional relationship and relationships can’t be any different.
Children may blame themselves your unhappiness
Even though you may try to mask the deep unhappiness and lack of love in your relationship, children will always pick up on it. And often, they will feel responsible for it as well.
Betsy Ross on Huff post says “Even the youngest children can sense that you’re suffering and that things are not right. Since children are naturally ego-centered and generally have the idea that they are more powerful than they really are, they are likely to think they’ve somehow caused your unhappiness and that it’s really about them.”
Developing fear of intimacy
Children often consider their family as an ideal model of what relationships are like. Therefore, when they see their parents in an unhappy relationship, they live with the fear that their future relationship will be similar.
They might also find it hard to build relationships or get close to people. Intimacy will often trigger trauma and they will avoid it to protect themselves from suffering.
Kids might pick up bad habits
In an attempt to protect themselves from the stressful situation at home, children try to numb their emotions by picking up potentially addictive habits such as incessantly playing video games, using food for comfort, or refusing to eat.
Their emotional feelings might also show up in other areas in their life such as losing interest in academics, getting angry while playing, and getting into fights with their peers.
These behaviors, unless addressed early enough, will likely continue into adulthood and develop into eating disorders, gambling, substance abuse, and other unhealthy addictions.
While struggling to get along with their partners, most couples may not be raring to show love to their kids. They will often look for ways to escape their unhappy marriages by avoiding being at home or talking to their partners. Some may even end up working longer hours or spending more time with their friends. In doing so, children will have less time with their parents which makes them feel unnoticed, unworthy, and unloved.
Consider getting help
Staying in a bad marriage, as seen, is far worse for your kids than getting a divorce. But before settling for a divorce, it is important to seek help from a marriage counselor. This way you’ll be able to decide what’s best for both of you and your children. Don’t suffer in silence, reach out.