When you're a parent, you'll do anything to give your kids a happy, healthy, successful life. You'll move mountains if it means giving them everything you've dreamed of, but unfortunately, it's not always that easy. Many people assume that staying married, even in an unhappy marriage, gives their kids the best shot at life, but with all the ways your kid can tell you're having marriage problems, it could do more harm than good.
My daughter was only 2 months old when I called it quits with my ex-husband. I panicked about how a divorce would affect her, like having separate holidays and spending time in two different homes, but I was more worried about keeping her involved in an unhappy marriage. As a newborn, her soft peach fuzz of hair had already soaked up enough of my tears, and trying to breastfeed her while arguing with my ex made no sense. The damage we were causing by trying to force a failing marriage into success so that she didn't have to have two Christmases was absurd.
More than anything, I wanted her to have a home where she felt safe, loved, and happy. I wanted her to see me, her mother, in a relationship that was fulfilling, healthy, and loving so she knew what to expect out of a future partner. I truly believe that divorcing her father was one of the best things I could've ever done for me, but for her, too. If we had stayed together, these nine things would've given it away that we were having serious marriage problems and no kid needs to grow up that quickly.
1You're Short With Your Spouse
Even if you're not actively yelling or fighting with your partner, kids can tell that there's been a shift in the way you communicate with your spouse. When you're short with them, when they can't seem to do anything right, and when you're constantly impatient with your spouse's request, your kids will recognize that you are irritated and bothered by your spouse.
2You Don't Spend Quality Time With Your Spouse
Kids know what a date night is, and when the two of you stop spending quality time together, they'll notice. Even small things, like both of you being on your phones instead of snuggled up on the couch together, can be a red flag.
3You Give Your Spouse The Silent Treatment
It's petty, it's immature, and it's a pretty crappy way to co-parent with your spouse. But the silent treatment is also super obvious to everyone around you, including your little ones. When you ignore your spouse's questions or when your spouse refuses to speak to you, who do you think is going to step up and try to fix the conversation? That's a lot of pressure to put on your kid.
4They Can Feel The Tension
I'm sure you've heard the expression about being able to cut the tension with a knife, right? Kids are amazingly receptive to the world and their hearts and minds are open to everything. Trust me — they know what's going on around them. When you're having marriage problems, there's bound to be some tension and stress in the home, but be mindful that your children can feel it.
5They Hear Comments From Others
Your family members and friends may mean well, but when someone is asking your little one, "Is everything OK at home?" or questioning them on you and your spouse, they are bound to pick up that something is amiss. It also doesn't help if you've been complaining to family members or friends who have kids, too. Children have no idea what privacy means, and if your little one hears their cousin mention that you and your spouse sure have been fighting a lot, it's going to break their heart.
6They Hear Your Arguing
You know you shouldn't argue in front of your kids, so you wait until they go to bed before you unleash your fury in the living room. Heads up — your kids aren't always sleeping when you think they are. Seriously, if you and your spouse are at a point where your fighting can not be contained to when the children are out of the house, you need some help. No kid should hear their parents arguing, especially if the arguments turn into name-calling and are filled with rude comments.
7One Of You Spends A Lot Of Time Away From Home
"Where's Mom?" "How come Dad's never home anymore?" These are questions your kid will ask when one of you starts spending a lot of time away from home, and it's only a matter of time before they start putting it all together.
8You're Constantly Reassuring Them How Much Their Parents Love Them
Look, your kids know that you love them. You tell them all the time. So when you start telling them things like, "You know that no matter what, we both love you very much", they're going to know something's up. Of course you don't want them to feel guilty for anything that happens between you and your spouse, but by laying the groundwork now for it can lead them to think something terrible is about to happen.
9There's No Affection Between You & Your Spouse
And I don't just mean physical. Showing love to your spouse is huge and your kids saw it in some way, whether it was you two holding hands while sitting on the couch or your partner always fixing you a cup of coffee in the morning. It's a pretty drastic change to just give up the pet names, the kisses before work, and the "I love you" exchanges, so fully expect your little one to notice.