Staying in a toxic marriage is worse for your children than divorce

Two young children sitting together on the floor

Marriage is hard. It takes a lot of work to make a marriage successful. When you have children, you find that  respect, communication, and trust become very important. However, some couples forget the importance of these principles of good relationships. Instead of being bound by love for one another, couples may feel stuck in their marriage because of their children. Their relationship ends up becoming full of frustration and anger, but because of the children, they will not consider divorce.

Children do not suffer from a divorce of their parents unless there is a continued conflict. It is parental conflict that can have a negative impact on children whether they are married or divorce.

Why does staying in a toxic relationship do more harm than good for your children?

  • Your children will likely begin developing behavioural issues

We all want what is best for our children, which is why some parents agree that sticking it out in a toxic marriage is in the best interest of their children. However, when children are raised in unhappy homes, they tend to pick up mood problems later on in life. These behavioural issues can include depressive disorder or dysthymia. When these issues are not addressed, they can lead to more serious problems such as substance abuse or a personality disorder.

  • Your children may pick up your toxic model of love and marriage

As parents, you lead by example. When children are raised in a toxic household, they can eventually replicate the model of marriage they were raised with. For example, if your children always see you arguing, they will think it is OK for them to replicate the same behaviour in their own adult lives. Eventually, the line between what is normal in a relationship and what is dysfunctional becomes unclear to your children.

Your children could also develop a fear of intimacy. Since children often use their parent’s model of love to exemplify what relationships are like, it can lead to a fear of their relationship being similar. In general, they may find it difficult to open up to people or build close relationships.

  • Your children may blame themselves for your unhappiness as their parent 

Children are far more intuitive than you may believe. Even if you and your spouse do everything you can to hide the discontent in your marriage, your children will pick up on it. A lack of love and respect in a relationship is easy for children to detect and could lead to your children feeling responsible for that lack of love.

Your children can also begin to pick up bad habits to numb their emotions. To protect themselves from the stress they experience at home, they can pick up habits like constantly playing video games or eating food for comfort. They may also begin showing emotional signals in other areas of their life. For example, they may take a drastic dive in their academics or lashing out at their peers. These behaviours can continue into adulthood unless they are addressed early enough.

Preventative Measures

You and your spouse may try working with a marriage counsellor to improve your relationship. Often people do not go to counselling soon enough. If your toxic relationship is not addressed as soon as possible, it may become unrepairable. Seek out the help of a marriage counselor as soon as possible if you want to try to save your marriage.

How do you know when to call a divorce lawyer? And, how to find the right divorce lawyer to help. 

Before you decide whether to stay married or call a divorce lawyer, these are two important questions you should ask yourself:

  1. What is in my best interest?
  2. What is in the best interest of my children?

In many, if not most cases, staying in a toxic relationship is not good for anyone involved, in which case it may be in your best interest (and your children’s best interest) to separate from your partner. It is worth repeating – parents want what is best for their children. To accomplish that, difficult decisions need to be made.

When it comes to finding the right divorce lawyer to help you, there is more involved than picking up the phone and calling the first lawyer you find. You will want to work with someone who matches your needs and truly understands your situation.

What to consider when choosing the right family lawyer to help you with your divorce

The issues pertaining to your divorce: Depending on the issues between you and your spouse, you will want to find a divorce lawyer with experience dealing with those specific issues. For example, if you have children, it would be ideal to work with a lawyer with experience in child custody or child support cases.

What you want your lawyer to do for you: If you want your lawyer to take the reigns and call the shots, not every divorce lawyer can do that for you. Evaluate what kind of relationship you would like to have with your lawyer. If you want to be more involved in the decision-making process, find a lawyer who can walk you through and help you make the most informed decisions.

We all want what is best for our families. The team at Galbraith Family Law always wants to do what is best for your children. However, staying in a toxic or unhealthy relationship is not the solution. If you are worried that a divorce or separation will tear your family apart, try to keep in mind that staying together with your spouse is not the only solution. In fact, divorce can often be the healthiest solution.

At Galbraith Family Law, our team of divorce lawyers and divorce professionals work hard to make the separation and divorce process as seamless as possible. We do everything we can to keep you out of the courtroom and to minimize the cost of your divorce wherever possible. We also only work with your best interest at heart. To work with one of our experienced divorce lawyers, give us a call at one of our five locations. For our Toronto divorce law offices call 647-370-8965, for our Newmarket office call 289-210-4692 or you can reach us at our Barrie office at 705-230-2734. Whenever you decide you are ready to take the next step, we are here for you. Remember, divorce ends a marriage, not a family.

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Brian Galbraith

Brian Galbraith is the owner and founder of Galbraith Family Law Professional Corporation. Brian is known in the legal community for his commitment to efficiently practicing family law using technology and streamlining the divorce processes.

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