You and your spouse are not happy. You’ve considered divorce but thoughtfully decided against it. You’ve weighed the pros and cons. You’re staying together for the sake of your children. What now? You ask yourself, How do I co-parent my children while staying married?
In this article, we explore how to maintain a marriage that’s focused solely on raising children.
1. Prioritize The Children
If you’ve decided to stay for the kids, focus on cultivating a positive environment. It makes no sense to prioritize your children’s health and happiness and then pollute their childhood with toxic parental conflict. Here are a few key tips to remember:
2. Let Your Kids Be Kids
Allow your children to have a healthy childhood. Don’t let the conflict between you and your spouse rob your kids of their joyful youth. If you find yourself resenting your spouse, try to redirect that energy toward creating positive experiences for your children. Love your kids more than the anger you feel for your spouse.
Also, spend plenty of quality time with your kids. Plan activities, go on outings, and expose your children to different sights and sounds. Play with your kids – they need it! And remember not to lean on your children for emotional support. Children are not mini-adults, and they are not emotionally mature enough to handle adult issues.
3. Show Healthy Conflict Resolution
Children learn by copying those around them, so if they see their parents regularly slinging mud, they’re more likely to mimic that behavior. You and your spouse can demonstrate healthy behaviors that you’d like to see your children replicate. d substance
Never raise your voice to your spouse in front of your children. Try to approach conflict calmly and rationally. Demonstrate healthy conflict resolution skills, such as active listening and solution-seeking. And if you and your spouse can’t engage in healthy conflict resolution around your kids, go somewhere private. Remember, children are resilient, but they aren’t bulletproof. Exposure to constant conflict will negatively affect them.
4. Maintain a Mature Relationship with Your Spouse
Your former relationship no longer exists. This can be tough to accept, but once you do, you can work on rebuilding your relationship into something that works for everyone involved. Here are some ways to approach your relationship with your spouse:
5. Reframe The Relationship
Reframe your relationship from personal to business. Detach from the former “you” that was in love with your partner. You and your spouse are no longer romantically involved, but you’re still a team with a common goal: the rearing of healthy, well-adjusted, emotionally sound children. It can be helpful to shift your perspective from that of a romantic marriage to a “parenting marriage.” The past is over, but you have the power to create a more positive relationship with your spouse.
6. Connect Around Neutral Activities
The last thing you may want is to spend time with your spouse. But staying married for the sake of your children means maintaining the family unit. This will instill a sense of unity and togetherness in your kids. To accomplish this, engage in neutral activities that you can enjoy as a family but does not require you and your spouse to interact romantically. Seek out activities that focus on your children, like visiting the zoo, a playground, building puzzles or going to a ball game.
7. Prioritize the Kids…And Reconnect with Yourself
The breakdown of a marriage is traumatic, even when it doesn’t end in divorce. Use this time of transition to reconnect with yourself and focus on your growth and emotional well-being. What do you value? What are your interests? What are your hopes and dreams? The answers to these questions may not be the same as they once were. You deserve to rediscover your identity independent from your spouse.
8. Find a Supporting Network
Whether you turn to a family member, a wise friend, and your therapist, finding sources of strength outside yourself can be invaluable. Talking out your struggles with a trusted confidant can help you let go of anger and grief so you can find your own happiness again.
9. Take heart and find hope. You and your spouse have made a courageous and selfless decision by choosing to stay married for your children. Although your romantic relationship may be over, you still have the opportunity to thrive as a family unit. Focus on doing what’s best for your children in this moment, and have hope that everything will work out for the best in the end.
Contact Creative Counseling Center
If you or your child is struggling through any family transition, we can help. We provide therapy to young children, adolescents, teens and adults struggling with stress due to life transitions as well as anxiety, depression, grief and loss, past or recent trauma, and more. You can request a FREE Phone Consultation by completing the brief form below. A member of our team will contact you and help you determine if our practice and which therapist is best suited for your specific circumstance. If our practice is not a good fit, we are happy to offer recommendations to other providers in the Denver metro area.