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When Parents Aren’t Getting Along

Dealing with conflict can be tough and complicated for everyone, especially when the conflict is between you and your spouse. Marital conflict is inevitable at times in even the most loving and stable families. Stressful jobs, a difference in parenting styles, financial difficulties, or different personalities can all potentially contribute to marital conflict. Arguments or disagreements between parents can result in depression, anxiety and behavioral changes for even the youngest members of the family. In order to begin the healing process, it is essential that all family members’ thoughts and feelings be taken into consideration.

Should I hide my marital conflict from my child?

  • Avoid heated discussions and arguments when your child is present.
  • Don’t involve her in disagreements between you and your spouse.
  • Isolate yourself from your spouse if you feel that an argument is about to happen.
  • Remain calm when you have been angered in front of your child.
  • Discuss grown-up matters in private.
  • Continue to respect and value your spouse’s opinions and views.
  • Assure your child that people can disagree and still love each.

How do I communicate with my child about relationship issues?

  • Keep the lines of communication open between both parents and child.
  • Allow her to voice concerns and fears.
  • Assure her that she will always be loved and the conflict is not her fault.
  • Avoid making her feel as if she must “choose sides”.

Will my child need help coping during this difficult time?

  • Monitor any behavioral changes during this period.
  • Speak with a school guidance counselor if the situation is overly stressful.
  • Talk about her feelings and concerns about any changes in the family structure.
  • Attempt to engage in activities as a family to ensure her that her parents still love and care about each other.
  • Encourage her to keep a journal or to openly communicate with both parents.
  • Model appropriate ways to care for and respect a family member.

How can I resolve marital conflict?

  • Communicate with your spouse when conflict or disagreements occur.
  • Consider the effects that bitter conflicts will have on your child.
  • Try to respect each other’s feelings and beliefs.
  • Avoid name-calling and put-downs.
  • Support each other in spite of any differences of opinions.
  • Schedule activities that both parents enjoy.
  • Demonstrate teamwork and a commitment to preserving the family.
  • Compliment your spouse.
  • Appreciate the strengths that your partner contributes to the family.
  • Accept your spouse and love them for the person that they are.
  • Seek professional counseling if marital issues cannot be independently resolved.
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