Keeping Your Marriage Strong for Your Children
By Dr. Jamie Hurst DeLuna, creator of Avant Garde Parenting
I recently attended a fantastic talk given by Dr. Karen Prager of the University of Texas at Dallas Center for Children and Families on keeping your marriage healthy for your child. The balance between kids, marriage, and your own life can be, at best, tough and, at worst, tipping the scales in the direction of no balance at all.
Although every couple argues, when marital conflict becomes frequent and regular, it can affect children in two important ways. First, marital conflict can affect your children directly- that is, children often ‘catch’ the emotional climate of the marriage (take on negative emotions that parents are displaying) or blame themselves for marital discord. Second, marital distress affects children indirectly because being at odds with your spouse makes it hard to be a good parent. Think about it- it’s tough to go from being angry or frustrated with your spouse to being calm and happy with your children.
When couples do argue, Prager suggests not hiding it from or lying about it to children because even young children pick up on hidden conflict. Other research from the University of Notre Dame Family Studies Center suggests that children who see their parents arguing fare better when they also witness parents solving or attempting to solve the conflict.
But the ultimate goal is to create a strong marriage that allows both you and your partner to be the best parents for your children. Dr. Pareger suggests the following tips for maintaining a healthy bond with your partner:
- Share the burdens of childcare. It is not one person’s job.
- Use a babysitter! Often! Couple time is important
- Do something positive for your partner once a day
- Express appreciation for your partner every day. Recognize how much each person contributes.
- Monitor your own negative behavior (such as complaining)
- Save a big chunk of your affection for your partner. Don’t give all of it to your kids/pets.
- Come to a consensus about important principles of child-rearing & let your partner be him/herself with the children. Don’t micromanage