Is Your Relationship Hurting Your Children?

Couples with children that are experiencing marital trouble likely wondering what the outcome might for their children. This post looks to explore the four elements that spell trouble later.

A 2015 study in Developmental Psychology found four things that cause bad results in kids.

Building a strong relationship with your partner or co-parent can protect children from negative influences, whether at home or outside.

Domestic violence

Children exposed to abuse, whether as victims or witnesses, learn harmful lessons about communication and emotional control.

If a relationship has domestic violence present we do not recommend couples therapy. Instead, we suggest the abused partner create a safety plan and exit the relationship as soon as possible.

Poor attachment practices

When affection is withheld or bids for attention are consistently rejected, children do not develop a healthy sense of themselves in the world or with others. Fondness and admiration should be role modeled amongst all members of the family. Active listening should be an important part of your time spent together.

A good place to start is with greeting and leaving rituals. This might be a hug goodbye and a hug hello each time they leave the house for an extended period. It can also be a simple phrase that you say each time “have a great day!” or as my friend often tells her child “have whatever day you have, love you!”

Dysfunctional marital fighting

There is a right way to argue in front of children, more on that here, and there is certainly a wrong way. If there is a lot of name-calling, behaviors that border on emotional abuse, or contempt, it’s time to call in a professional for marriage counseling. These are all signs of serious trouble and should be addressed immediately.

As you rebuild friendship and fondness on a weekend couples therapy intensive, you will also learn more effective ways to raise complaints and have productive arguments. This is a skill that can be taught and practiced. The chance to practice good communication until you get it right is one of the things that is unique to intensive couples therapy.

No boundaries

Children need to test the limits and you need to enforce them. Not only does this lead to better outcomes in your household, it models for them how to set boundaries with others. Being too lenient with parenting might seem easier now, but it will be more difficult in the future.

What boundaries do you have in place with your partner? This is an important area to explore as well.

When does the work email stop? Private messages on social media? Don’t assume. Spent quality time communicating your needs openly and honestly.

If this kind of communication is new for you couple counseling can help and one of our private couples retreats offers time and space for that important face to face work.

The consequences of these parenting practices

Not feeling loved or respected can make children more likely to become angry, violent, and narcissistic. Teenagers who experienced physical abuse as children engage in physically abusing their parents and/or partners.

Several of the therapists that I’ve interviewed for Couples Therapy Inc, started off working with children, teens, and/or families. Many of them describe making the switch to couples therapy when they realized the tremendous impact they could have starting with the relationship. So much positivity flows from happy, healthy relationships, not just in our families but in our workplaces and communities as well.

Couples therapy can be a tremendous opportunity to learn new ways of relating to one another that will have a lasting, generational impact.