To have a healthy marriage, parents must be mindful of how they treat their spouses, especially in front of their kids.
You were married before you had kids. So sometimes, we forget that certain behaviours we engaged in before our little ones came along, may influence them. The way children learn is often by example – and your healthy marriage will always be one of those lessons.
So do you think you have a healthy marriage? Let’s find out.
How to show your kids a healthy marriage
1. Be affectionate
Who’s afraid of showing affection to your partner in front of their kids? You spend time with them almost every day, built a home with them, had kids with them, married them even. Wouldn’t it be weirder not to show them any affection at all?
Don’t be afraid to show any type of affection to your spouse in front of your kids. Displays of affection let your kids know that you love your spouse and tells them that the marriage is secure. It shows them that they can count on the both of you to be a source of love and affection.
It’s also a good way of teaching your kids about emotional openness. This emotional openness leads to a better sense of empathy and compassion in your children.
2. Fight and then make-up
Part of living together with another individual is the clashing of opinions and egos. You will have disagreements and that’s important, because that’s how you build a strong relationship.
As a general rule, fight in private. But sometimes, you can show your arguments a little, just so that your children can learn what making up looks like. After making up for the fight, children need to be assured that they’re going to be alright.
If you do fight in front of the little ones, don’t take it to extremes. No screaming, name-calling, and physical confrontations. Show your children that you still treat each other right. If you have to fight, take it to another space.
3. Discuss family goals
The point of discussing family goals with your spouse is to work together towards a common goal instead of just merely focusing on the “mushy stuff.” It’s about sharing your hopes, dreams, and goals — not just for yourself but also for the family.
Of course, since your kids are part of the family, you can have your kids discuss family goals with your spouse and yourself. It’s all about being involved. So discuss everyone’s goals together, like picking places to go on a vacation.
4. Go on dates every week
Making it a point to go on regular dates is all about making each other a priority. Showing how you value your spouse teaches your kids about how you value the people you love.
So go on a date with your spouse every week if you can. It doesn’t have to be a date in a fancy restaurant, you just have to spend some time alone with them.
This will teach your kids that marriage isn’t a chore, that you’re not forgetting about spending quality time with each other. Going on dates also teaches your kids that you’re not taking your marriage for granted.
How you can ruin a healthy marriage
If you can show your kids how to have a healthy marriage, you can also do the opposite. These three things aren’t how to show them what a healthy marriage looks like:
1. Badmouth your spouse
Speaking badly about your spouse doesn’t help your marriage or your kids’ well-being. If you can’t trust your husband, how are your kids supposed to trust him?
Now being open to your kids is great, but there should be a limit to how open you are to them if it can affect them negatively. Badmouthing your spouse teaches them that it’s okay to talk about people behind their backs. It also teaches them to keep secrets from each other in an unhealthy way.
2. Question your spouse’s parenting skills
It’s very important for you and your spouse to function as a cohesive unit. You two are partners and should act as a united front. Undermining and questioning your spouse’s decision in front of your kids is one way of breaking this united front.
When you question your partner in front of your kids, your kids lose faith in your ability as parents. And when your kids can’t rely on you, they’ll start rebelling and manipulating you to get what they want from you.
3. Make them the “bad guy”
This is part of of badmouthing the other parent, but it deserves its own item. Don’t make your spouse look like the “bad guy” or the “enemy” to your kids. You’re not setting a good example for them, and you’re certainly not helping your case as a functional pair of parents.
The thing is, it’s so easy to blame the other for what went wrong and make yourself look good at the same time. This is wrong because the two of you are supposed to be partners. How are you going to function well if you can’t rely on your partner?
It’s also not good to teach your kids about dualities that don’t necessarily exist or make sense. Showing them that people can be easily divided (instead of united) into two opposing sides teaches them that conflict will always be the way to go instead of unity.
A healthy marriage is difficult — but it’s doable
Of course, you’re not going to get it right the first time. Just remember that how you navigate through life and your marriage will always teach your kids something that may either be negative or positive.
A healthy marriage involves failure, but you can weather any storm if you are committed to succeed. Showing your children how you and your spouse can bounce back from failure and disappointment teaches them to become strong. It also makes your family bond stronger, as long as there’s clear and honest communication between all members of the family.
Republished with permission from: theAsianParent Singapore