Women in struggling marriages often assert that they’re choosing to stay in their marriages for the sake of their children. Much of their reasoning is as follows:
- Children who come from broken families are less likely to succeed in school and in life.
- Children who do not have the presence of both parents in their lives are more prone to becoming psychologically unstable.
- Children who experience divorce are more likely to be lonely, unhappy, anxious, depressed, and emotionally disturbed.
While there are definitely statistics that support and prove these claims, it’s not the entire story. There’s one factor that many people tend to overlook:
If you’re NOT working towards making your marriage better, your children are just as likely to end up with the same problems.
In other words, you are not helping your kids by staying in an unhealthy marriage. This is because it’s not the act of staying in the marriage that will automatically provide your kids a ‘better’ life. Rather, it’s giving your children a loving home to live in that makes the difference – a place where they feel physically, emotionally, and mentally safe.
With that being said, some people believe that their kids do not ‘notice’ any problems, and their interaction as a couple is not ruining their children in any way, but that’s usually more of a hope than hardcore reality.
In fact, it can be the case that the parents are more blind to the impact of their own marital problems on the welfare of the family than their children are. It could be because the parents eventually become so engrossed in the struggle of trying to deal with their problems that it distracts them away from gifting their children with the love and support that is truly needed.
Let’s be honest. You can only hide a bad marriage from your kids for so long. When fights erupt, children witness them. They overhear the bickering. They pick up on negative vibes and tension. In some form or another, it takes a toll on them. Sadly enough, because children are so young and innocent, they cannot make sense of what is happening, and some can end up blaming themselves for all the commotion.
Another issue that is frequently overlooked is that children who come from these types of households are more likely to end up in struggling marriages themselves. Why? Because they learn how to form and maintain an intimate relationship with another person from their parents’ behavior.
Dysfunctional behaviors can be easily adopted as unspoken rules for how to interact with others. Kids are like little sponges. What you teach them about respect, communication, and love is naturally absorbed and squeezed out into their future relationships.
Your children are your mirror. They are a reflection of what you’ve taught them through your own choices.
Don’t think that your children will somehow ‘figure out’ a better way for themselves. They may never do. In fact, they may repeat the same mistakes, and you could feel the awful weight of their heartache later on in life.
But how can you change things when your husband is not on board?
Very simply. You just need to be willing to do three things:
Step One: Choose to stay for your own sake.
Stop making your children the goal for staying in your marriage. Choose to stay together because you want to make your marriage work for the sake of your own emotional and mental health.
Your marriage is really a relationship between you and your husband. When your kids grow up, they will move on and form their own independent lives, just like you did with your parents. However, your husband will remain with you for a lifetime.
If you’re not sure if you want to stay in your marriage, then try this quick mental exercise.
Take your kids out of the equation for a minute and ask yourself:
Do I really want to be with this person for the rest of my life? Do I really want to take care of him when we grow old? Do I really want to exert the effort it may take to make our marriage work?
Avoid making your goal to stay in the relationship ‘as-is,’ not caring what the relationship looks like. If you’re longing for a good marriage, deciding to ignore your problems until your husband wakes up is not going to make your life any better.
Step Two: Own your part.
This isn’t about playing a blame game. It’s basic arithmetic. It takes two to tango, and if one person steps out, it’s not possible to continue the dance anymore.
Even if you didn’t start the fight, you could be doing something to prolong it.
Even if your husband is the problem, you could show him how to be the solution through your own actions.
Even if you’ve told him a million times, you could learn how to communicate that request in a different way.
Even if you’ve tried everything, you could retry and see if it works a second time inshaAllah.
Step Three: Start to learn a better way NOW.
One study showed that it takes people at least 6.7 years before they finally reach out for marital help. That’s a long time, and a sufficient amount of time for your children to be negatively impacted. The sad part is that the longer you delay the process of healing your marriage, the harder it may become to undo the knots later down the line.
It may seem hard to believe, but good marriages do exist in today’s times. Muslima Coaching has dedicated itself to interviewing successful wives and finding out what they do to make their marriages survive and thrive. AlhamduliLlah we share and teach this knowledge in our sessions, courses, and website.
Remember, change doesn’t come to you. You come to change. Be proactive for Allah Most High. Your children’s well-being and future marriages may depend on it.
© Muslima Coaching, 2018.