Time and again I would hear women who are in an emotionally abusive or dysfunctional marriage say that they are staying in the marriage for their children. As a mother, I understand where they are coming from. No woman wanted her family broken and her children hurt.
Some women who are going through the same situation came from a broken family themselves, so they know the heartbreak and struggles of coming from a broken home.
I will not be surprised if their lifelong dream is to have a complete family. So they think that it is better for them to suffer and spare the kids.
If you are in a toxic relationship and you also think this way, I just want to say that it is really noble and selfless of you to put your children’s sake above your own. I know that you will do everything to give what you think is the best for your kids.
Your concern about your children is not unfounded. Studies after studies show that children who came from a broken family suffers from low self-esteem, academic difficulties, relationship problems, behavioral problems .
It is really a major concern for any mother. However, staying in an abusive relationship has its own perils to consider. If you find yourself at the intersection of your family life, consider answering these questions:
1. Do your kids witness you and your husband fighting, raising your voices at each other, or worse physically hurting each other?
Children who witness their parents fight or witness hostility at home experience stress, unhappiness, and insecurity. This kind of environment is not conducive to children’s development.
Numerous studies have supported that interpersonal conflicts in intact marriages has a negative impact on children’s psychological adjustment. It is even suggested that children in harmonious single-parent home may be better adjusted than children in high-conflict intact families .
2. Do your kids witness the behaviors of their father? Do you think your husband is setting a good model as a male, husband, and father?
Role modelling is a powerful way of forming a child’s behavior and personality . If your child is male, and your husband consistently displays an aggressive and controlling treatment towards you, your child might pick it up. He will think that this is the right and only way of treating a woman .
Several abused wives I’ve talked to shared that their abusive husbands came from an abusive home and dysfunctional families. Unfortunately for them, the husbands brought their abusive cycle into their own families.
If your child is female, she will perceive that the way her father treats you is normal and acceptable . It is highly possible that she could attract a life partner who will also abuse her.
3. Can you take care of yourself emotionally and mentally while you’re with your husband and still be responsive to your children?
If you couldn’t take care of your psychological and emotional well-being, this will seep through you own mothering. The stress that the marital conflict is causing you could make you less effective in dealing with your children .
It could show on how you carry yourself at home, how you respond to your children’s needs, how you communicate with them. If your children are still young, your children’s world revolve around you. Their emotional and psyhlogical being are also greatly influenced by your own well-being .
Other additional points that you mighy also consider are:
4. Is your husband a good father to your children?
5. Can you support your children alone or will your husband support your chidren if you separate?
Contemplating to leave or to stay with your husband is a very difficult decision, one that is life-changing and impactful to your children’s lives.
There is a lot to be considered in this kind of situation. You must have the will and courage to do so. You must have the resources that you need to support your children alone.
Even if the only rational thing to do is leave and have a chance to have a better life. It’s not that easy. So if you couldn’t decide yet, it’s alright.
Finding yourself in this kind of situation, you will find it useful to have someone safe to vent out with, to share your struggles. Now that things are quite hazy for you, find someone judgmental and understanding whom you can share your problem with. It will help.
To wrap up, the things that I shared with you in this post are just pointers that you could reflect on. In the end, it is only you who could make this decision for your family. With discernment, careful planning, and right timing, it is my prayer that you will end up with a decision that is best for you and your children.
1. Amato, P. and Keith, B. (1991). Parental Divorce and the Well-Being of Children: A Meta-Analysis. Psychological Bulletin, 1, 110, 26-46.
2. Pervin, L. and Cervone (2010). Personality Theory and Research. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
3. Banrcroft, L. (2015). Inside the Minds of Angry and Controlling Men: Why Does He Do That?