Marital arguments are par for the course when it comes to any marriage.
Despite conflict having a negative reputation, it’s your response to conflict that really matters. Either you can fight fair and exemplify emotional intelligence and maturity or you can go the opposite route, creating a houseful of tension and strife.
It’s not uncommon to overlook how much your marital arguments really overflow onto the rest of your family. After all, they’re not the ones fighting.
But the fact is that your quarrels can negatively impact your children in a big way.
Here are some indications that your kids may be receiving the fallout from your spousal differences.
1. You Complain About Your Spouse to Your Kids
Venting and tossing around general complaints are often seen as normal behavior. However, complaining to your kids about your spouse is anything but innocuous.
The bottom line is that this type of behavior hurts your children.
Not only does it cause cognitive dissonance, but it disrupts your children’s natural parental security. You child is torn between being loyal and comforting to you and being loyal and defending their other parent. It’s a lose-lose situation for them that can make them feel bad all around. This may be evident in your child’s tendency to emotionally withdraw from you and/or your partner.
2. Your Kids Give You Advice on Dealing with Your Spouse
It’s not uncommon for parents to ask for advice on how to deal with marital arguments. Who better than someone who frequently witnesses the problems in real time and may deal with some of the same annoyances.
Whatever the case may be, it’s unfair to ask your child to play this type of “on the spot” judge and jury or makeshift therapist. They may feel they’re forced to take sides or betray the other parent’s trust.
This also undermines your role as the parent, when your child is telling you what to do to handle your grown-up problems. It threatens their security that you are capable of handling life and taking care of the family.
When advise is needed, keep children out of the standby therapist chair.
3. You And Your Spouse Argue in Front of the Kids (to no resolution)
As mentioned before, marital arguments are a normal part of married life. Actually, they can be a beneficial life lesson to children if resolved in a healthy way.
The opposite can be true, too. When you and your spouse continually argue in front of your children without resolving the problem, it can reinforce a negative message.
Remember, kids pick up on subtleties. Behaving this way can quickly teach them that resolutions aren’t possible or that there’s no such thing as fighting fair.
4. You Often Undermine the Other Parent
The middle of marital conflict may seem like the perfect time to shirk your parental union. But by undermining your spouse, you’re creating a confusing atmosphere for your children.
Kids depend on their parents for both security and stability. When those elements are compromised, distrust tends to creep in. Insecurity and instability breeds anxiety, acting out and other childhood problems.
Your kids may begin to doubt your motives or simply not take you seriously. You may even find them checking out and failing to listen to you when they normally would.
5. Your Behavior Towards Each Other Creates Tension
Marital arguments can cause tension. At least, until you find some form of resolution.
Storming through the house, aggressively keeping house, or slamming doors speak loud and clear to children. So does the silent tension of adults not speaking or speak in curt, clipped remarks.
Unsurprisingly, tension creates anxiety, which often manifests itself in physical symptoms and behavioral problems. Hence, your kids may complain about having more upset stomachs or headaches. They may even isolate themselves to their room, another “safe zone,” or even find a reprieve at a friend’s house. They may begin to disregard household rules and parental authority.
Tension from marital arguments sort of hangs in the atmosphere like a heavy cloud. Clearly tangible to those in the household, it can hurt your children both physically and emotionally.
Fighting fair with your spouse and safeguarding your children from toxic arguments takes a great deal of practice. A therapist can help you and your spouse to work on the communication skills required to resolve marital arguments.
If you’re struggling with relationship stress, learn more about Couples Counseling
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