Staying in an Unhappy Relationship for the Kids

Relationships require ongoing effort, and it can be easy to allow other priorities to crowd out your connection with your partner. When children enter the equation, closeness can become even more challenging to maintain. If you come to the point where you must assess the future and wonder whether you should stay in your unhappy relationship, your decision should rest on your individual situation. Your decision to end the relationship is a heavy one that requires careful consideration and soul-searching, advises the Dr. Phil website.

Feeling Trapped

The decision to leave a relationship or continue it is an intensely personal one without definitive guidelines, advises psychiatrist Mark Banschick, with the Psychology Today website 1. The decision requires careful consideration of all the factors of the situation, including your personal feelings regarding your partner and both of your levels of willingness and desire to make the relationship work. Feeling trapped in a relationship can feel debilitating and frustrating, but by making a conscious decision about the future (regardless of the decision), you can feel empowered and energized.

Level of Conflict

An important consideration about whether to continue or end an unhappy relationship involves the level of conflict that exists and how well you handle it, according to psychologist and author Neill Neill. If your relationship involves significant strife, arguing, bickering and tension, your children will probably benefit if you attempt to co-parent them separately. On the other hand, if your relationship issues remain private, and you can insulate your children from anxiety and tension in connection with the relationship, it may be possible to continue the relationship without harming your children.

Continuing the Unhappiness

Children often internalize situations and issues, accepting blame even for situations that do not involve them, warns Neill. If you continue an unhappy relationship with conflict that children can see and feel, they may believe that the fighting is their fault. They may also try to escape from the conflict by withdrawing from the parents. The long-term ramifications could be an unconscious modeling of this parental example of conflict, with children repeating the same mistakes in their own adult lives.

Making it Work

You might choose to continue the relationship while engaging in counseling to repair the damage and learn new ways of relating with your partner, advises Banschick. Counseling may include individual sessions for both partners, couple’s counseling and even family counseling to provide your children with support and assistance in navigating the relationship struggles. Repairing an unhappy relationship takes time and effort, but healing and making improvements can benefit everyone.