When Your Child’s Behavior Comes Between Your Marriage


When you and your partner imagined having children, your hopes and dreams likely created a beautiful setting. You could see and feel all the times you would cuddle as a family, play board games, go on trips, share meals and enlightening conversations, both supporting each other with patience and equality… and then, you realize that years have passed, your toddler is screaming bloody murder because you dared to put carrots on her plate, your teen is slamming his door and reminding you that you are “seriously the worst,” nobody does anything but scowl at each other, and you wonder if that partner you got with is really helping or just making everything worse.

You can’t divorce the kids, but should you divorce the partner? Probably not!

The Toll of Child Behavior Problems on Marriage

Even the strongest of couples can struggle during stress. Financial conflict, job changes, health concerns —all of these can place stress on a marriage. But many couples fail to realize that their own darling children—often, the reason both partners are together in the first place—can create just as much stress. Worse, unlike the nasty boss you can joke about with your husband, you’re supposed to be happy and loving toward these little mood-killers. You love your kids, but not their behaviors, and your own frustration and guilt can provide even more of a challenge! As a good parent, you are usually able to keep it pleasant for the kids, but then all that built-up frustration has to go somewhere… often, your spouse. In addition, the time spent managing a difficult child’s behavior can take its toll, whether that includes taking time off work to pick him up from school (the third time this week!), canceling plans because the babysitter refused to spend another night, or even taking your child to therapy appointments.

How to Get Help

You are doing an admirable job making it with all of these challenges, but if you burn the candle at both ends, you burn out faster. For yourself, your children, and your partner, you need to give up and admit “I need help.” Where can this help come from? Try these tips!

  • Call Grandma! Or any trusted adult, really. Even if it seems like you are placing a burden on others, consider if your parents, siblings, or other family members could help.
  • Hire a Professional. If the neighborhood teens can’t handle babysitting a difficult child, seek professional nannying services. Many come with certifications in CPR and different behavior management styles.
  • Take Turns. You—yes, you, reading this—deserve time to yourself. Time when you aren’t supervising, watching, caring for, or anything else. You and your partner can take turns scheduling alone time and feel better when you return to one another.
  • Seek Professional Respite. For children with some chronic conditions, professional respite care matches you with a trained, caring family that will care for your child a few days every few months. Trust that your child is safe while you rebuild your resources and reconnect with your partner.
  • Join a Support Group. Whether online or in-person, it helps to know that you are not alone in your struggle! Laugh about tantrums, hear practical tips from other parents, and create a safe space to vent when you need it.

When to Get Professional Help

If your child’s behavior is getting in the way of your marriage, or affecting the other children in the home, you should seek a skilled child psychologist to work with your family. You may also want to seek couple’s counseling in Highlands Ranch to improve your relationship. By reworking and re-evaluating your relationship patterns, you can find a happy balance for everyone in the home.


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