A happy marriage can improve life. On the other hand, an unhappy marriage can leave scars on both you and your children.
Again, I can speak first hand on what it’s like to be in an unhappy marriage. I was in an unhappy marriage for 20 years. This means that all three of my children witnessed the good and the bad included in that union. Psychology says that the first 7 years of a child’s life is the most impressionable.
So, with that information, can you imagine how the unhappy marriage between me and their father must have been like for them?
Subtle scars from the unhappy marriage
There are obvious scars left by an unhappy marriage, then there are things which aren’t as easily recognizable until you look a bit deeper. There are subtle ways that an unhappy marriage affects you and your children. Here’s are a few scars that were left behind.
1. Physical illness
Any sort of stress can have a detrimental effect on your health. For instance, anxiety can cause damage to your heart and your digestive system. In an unhappy marriage, over time, anxiety can develop, and this can start to take a toll as you grow older.
Especially when the marriage has continued for decades at a time, this has proven true.
Being in a bad union can actually weaken your immune system as well, making it much harder to get over common colds and infections. The same stress can increase bad cholesterol levels and blood pressure. This anxiety can make you gain weight too.
These same effects can translate into your children’s lives and make them suffer similar health consequences. This is one reason why staying out of unhappy marriages is actually good for your children.
2. Substance abuse
When we focus on children of volatile upbringing, we see many instances of substance abuse development. After witnessing endless fights between parents and then neglect, children often grow to need comfort from drugs and alcohol.
An unhappy marriage filled with chaos, anger, and sadness can drive a child to seek strength and meaning from substances.
Basically, their idea of what a role model should be is skewed. If they cannot find support through a stable childhood, then they lose faith in those who raised them. To an adult whose parents were in an unhappy marriage, drugs, and alcohol seem like a stable option.
3. Anxiety, poor grades in school, anger
Some children grow up unable to communicate effectively. They grow up angry and unable to focus – they are even riddled with anxiety. If you could look at their past, those years would reveal that these adults once dealt with passive aggression in their household. While anger and outbursts can be damaging to children, passive aggression can sometimes be worse.
When parents resort to withdrawal and passive aggression, a child can feel the tension in the home. The problem is that they don’t understand why their parents aren’t speaking to one another and passing random insults.
This makes a child grow to be anxious, fail In school, and even show aggressive behavior in response to the passive nature at home. It’s surprising just how much damage can be done to a child when trying to keep disagreements hidden.
A partner who endured an unhappy marriage will also suffer in subtle ways. For instance, because of the dysfunctional patterns in the relationship, each partner will start to withdraw from people outside the home. As the relationship deteriorates, parents will spend less time on social activities, further withdrawing from society.
Although being an introvert is fairly normal, withdrawal because of bad relationships is not. It can damage the mental health of both parents and children alike.
5. Too uptight or serious
If you are in an unhappy marriage which involves drug use, your child may grow up with a whole different set of issues. Not every child, of parents who use drugs, will grow up to use drugs too. No, actually, these children are more likely to grow up to be serious adults.
In fact, they will tend to be a bit uptight and hard to deal with at times. It will be hard for them to come out of their shell and have fun, thus leading to stress-related illnesses later in life. It’s important to have fun sometimes, but unfortunately, adults from drug abusive childhoods have a hard time understanding the importance of that.
Some are even terrified of falling into the same abusive patterns. Being serious is safe.
6. Mental illnesses
Both children and adults suffer greatly from a previous unhappy marriage. Some subtle effects involve various mental disorders. These disorders range from PTSD to Bipolar Disorder and can be as severe a dealing with multiple disorders at a time.
The effects of dysfunctional marriage on a child or adult can do so much damage that the structures of the brain can be altered permanently.
Are you unhappy in your marriage?
Now’s the time to do some serious thinking. If you’re married and you have to ask yourself if you’re really happy, then maybe you’re not. It’s possible that you just have natural doubts. However, if your bad always outweighs your good, then maybe you should reconsider if marriage is right for you.
It’s best to do this early before children are brought into the equation. An unhappy marriage is not just a way of life that you should accept. No, an unhappy marriage can greatly scar you and your children for the rest of your lives. Take heed.
Are you in an unhappy marriage? If so, maybe now is the time to make a change. It starts with being honest with yourself and taking steps to make things right.
By Sherrie H.