‘Is your child’s behavior threatening to destroy your marriage?’ That was the question asked on the forum recently. Can a child’s behavior affect a marriage? Yes it certainly can.

Often this is the case in blended families, where a child will be negative or outwardly antagonistic or hostile towards the stepparent and try and do all they can to interfere in the marriage relationship. But this is certainly not the only case it can occur.

Children have the ability to work our very early on which one of the parents is easier to con or get around. As a result they can have a tendency to play one partner off against the other. I’ve seen it the marriages of friends. The way to combat this is to ensure you are both on the same wavelength regarding what is allowable and what is not, and regarding forms of discipline and punishment. If you are not united then children will find it very easy to cause friction between you and your spouse.

That’s why it is important to discuss attitudes towards children and child rearing before you get married. Even so, sometimes things change once kids come along. What had seemed logical and easy when the child did was theoretical suddenly is different when a flesh and blood person is involved. We changed some of our ideas after we became parents. Basically, it can be because of the child’s personality. They changed in some respects again after the second child because what worked with one personality wasn’t appropriate or didn’t work with the second one. In each case we changed our ideas together.

Even if parents don’t always agree, I think you should make a point of being united in front of the child. Later, in private, talk it out and state your problems with the decision and resolve the way to handle it in future. Always check with each other first, before making a decision so that one parent is not saying the opposite to the other. Don’t make decisions on the spur of the moment or without consultation with your spouse. We always told our children ‘Dad and I (or Mom and I as the case might be) will talk about it and let you know.’ That way we were always able to present a united front. This takes away any chance of playing parents off against each other. This is important in any marriage
and family situation but never more so than in the blended family.

There are other ways children can negatively affect a marriage but more about that tomorrow.

Originally posted on Families.com, Written by Dale Harcombe

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