Dads in Bad Marriages are more critical, give less positive feedback, and are more withdrawn towards their kids….
When you’re in bad with your spouse it puts Dad in a messed-up headspace.
Now, this goes 3 ways in my comment section:
1.) Stay in a bad marriage for sake of the kids.
2.) Get out of the marriage.
3.) Fix the marriage.
Let’s start off by saying please don’t stay in a bad marriage for the sake of the kids. Because the kids will not benefit from you being miserable and realizing their upbringing was just a ruse anyway. It's not the answer.
I’m bullish on marriage. I make no confusion around the subject. I think it's good. It's clearly the best way to raise kids. It has the most positive impact on the community in terms of quality of life for everyone. Crime rates, poverty, health care, education, overall happiness all grade out in positive directions in married families versus broken homes.
So, there are real tangible benefits.
But let’s be clear:
There is a huge difference between being married and having a strong marriage.
I don’t advocate for bad marriages and bad relationships. It's absurd I even have to say that, but the comment section gets all riled up if I don’t. Love ya comment section!
Kids benefit from dad being a loving dad to the kids and dad treating his wife well. There’s a connection between the 2 things. I encourage Dads to teach their kids how to marry well so that they avoid the prospect of bad marriage and divorce in the future. I want my boys to know what they’re looking for in a spouse. They need to have discussions with potential spouses about their views on marriage (willingness to work through tough times and acknowledgment that those times will come), on how many kids they want, how they want to raise kids, on their views of faith, on how they view and handle money, on their relationships with their family members, their values and morals…..because those are the big triggers for disputes in marriages. Being on the same page in these issues.
So much of the feedback I receive from divorced and single dads on this platform is dads being very critical of their ex-wife's morals, relationships ethics, financial handlings, etc…..things that can be known before marriage but for whatever reason were avoided. Teaching our next generation to marry well and produce kids with a worthy spouse will have tremendous benefits in just one generation. So lets us Dads make that one of our goals.
I encourage Dads to model a strong marriage. Demonstrate that it takes effort. That you stick through the difficult times. Let the kids see that mom and dad read books on marriage and attend marriage workshops to improve their relationships. Most churches offer them at some point. Certainly, be willing to go to marriage counseling during the tough times. Because counseling actually helps with the communication between a feuding husband and wife. I feel it is a disservice to kids — to hide this from them, they should see marriages take effort and commitment.
I feel many underestimate the husband/wife relationship. But the quality of that spousal relationship impacts so much. When it’s bad and when it's good:
Ø Parents satisfaction with kids
Ø Child-Parent Communication
Ø Commitment to kids
Ø Kids ability to handle crisis
Ø Overall happiness
Ø Foundation of the home
Ø Stability and security in life
Ø Sexual future of kids
Home culture is an important component of a kid’s upbringing. And there is a reality that a husband/wife team that is in sync and works together within a good marriage creates that penultimate home culture.
Regardless of the marital status or if you are a single dad, widower, divorced….there needs to be a focus on making home life stable, safe, and joy-filled. The earlier you build this foundation the better which is why 100% Dad emphasizes building foundations when kids are young. It makes the later years easier.
When thinking about the culture of your home consider how a child feels right before they walk in the door from school. When they turn the handle what is going thru their mind? Are they happy and content and glad to be in a safe, caring environment they call home? Where life is happy. Expectations are known.
OR are they worried…maybe anxious…because they don’t know what they will find when they open the doors…another fight…. drunken behavior….new strangers….tears… For some kids, it’s a roll of the dice. Addictions, manic mood swings, and lack of self-control create wild swings in the vibe of the home. It's unstable. It’s a roller coaster.
A good home culture is kind of boring and predictable. That stability is comforting for kids. That’s not to say there can’t be spontaneous or fun impulsive moments. It’s just for the most part the rules are the same. The routines are the same. Your moods are for the most part, predictable. Expectations are known in relation to values, morals, ethics, grades, social behavior, and anything else your family deems important.
Part of creating this home culture is the teamwork aspect of mom and dad. How they work together. A big part of that is communication and staying in sync. Us dads need to be talking with mom (and vice versa) on:
- How kids are doing (school, athletics, friends, socially, hobbies, interests, experiments)
- Any problems with the kids
- Goals for each kid (both the kid’s goals and mom and dad’s goals for kids)
- How consistent mom and dad are being in discipline, advice, positive comments, motivation, and the overall direction the child is trending.
This would apply to stepparents and divorced parents as well. Consistency is a good thing.
To loop this all back around to Dads that are struggling in their marriage (a completely normal thing in every single marriage ever at some point) have got to realize that it has implications on the family as a whole. It impacts the kids. It impacts the culture.
The best thing you can do is address the issues and often the best way to address the issues without getting into a blowout fight is to do it with a counselor. Start at your local church or hop online and find a good marriage counselor. Wives will almost always attend…. it’s the dads that feel prideful, vulnerable, or too damn stubborn to go. It's not a weakness to strengthen your marriage. And the counselor will not pick sides. They simply are good at making sure the words you say are heard by your spouse in the way you intend them to. Most often the big fights come from spouses not fully understanding what the other one was saying. Misinterpreting, jumping to conclusions, or not reading in between the lines. Counselors are good at creating that clarity and rephrasing what you said or making sure the other spouse hears it in the way you meant to say it.
With an eye towards the future, I think one of the most important things not being talked about and demonstrated enough is how to marry. Dads and moms, please talk to your kids about finding the right person. How to go about dating. Have real talks about important topics before getting engaged. Doing the things that result in long successful marriages. Most divorced folk would agree there are certain things they wish they would have known about their spouse prior to tying the knot.
For more dad-based encouragement & wisdom find 100% Dad on 100dad.com and on social media @100dad.