Editor's note: This article was originally published on Angela Richter's blog, Together with Family. It has been modified and republished here with permission.
Recently, I heard a story about a teenage boy who was really struggling. I mean really struggling. He was having suicidal thoughts and in a very dark place.
He is seeing a counselor and do you know what one of his biggest issues is? It isn't being bullied, school or a girl.
It is the way his father is treating his mother!
I will say this child has a lot of issues and his parent's marriage wasn't the only one, but it was a big part.
Our marriage matters to our kids! It matter a LOT! Truly we have the power to destroy children with this one area if we are not careful.
Here are some things we can do or not do in our parenting when it comes to our marriage.
1. Don't argue in front of them
I'm not saying little disagreements in front of them are going to scar them, we are human. We aren't always going to agree but save the big ones for private times. I don't care if you have to get in your car and drive somewhere after getting a sitter. Do it, your children do not want or need to hear these things!
2. Show affectionate for one another in front of your kids
They may say it's gross but trust me, they feel much more secure when they see their parents love one another!
Do intentional things in your marriage - read together, share a hobby or interest, and just nurture one another. Let your children know that mom/dad comes first, after God, of course.
4. Stay united
Don't let your children play you against one another. Make parental choices together, including consequences and household rules. Always have each others backs. Even if I disagree with my husband I won't undermine him, I may say in private I thought he should have handled it different. He has done the same with me, but I won't question his authority in front of the kids EVER!
5. Respect one another
Don't let your children see you disrespecting one another! They will grow to do the same! Be kind, if you can't at the moment, then hold your tongue and take a break. I have struggled with this in the past. I know the pain it brings.
6. Fight for your marriage
Divorce hurts children so much. Surveys have been done with adult children who still have grief and issues over their parents' divorce. Fight hard, even when you don't want to. I know there are times you can't make one stay or if you are in an abusive situation you SHOULDN'T stay. Take God's grace and move on in the healthiest way you can but if you can fight, fight.
7. If you are already divorced - try hard to parent as a team
Don't put your ex-spouse down in front of your kids. EVER! No good will ever come from it. I'm a grown woman and my dad does this sometimes about my mom. It hurts me deeply! Just don't do it! If you need to vent, go to a friend or counsel, not your children.
Your children want you to have ahappy marriage. They want to have a healthy family life and they are watching and listening to you to see how marriage should be. Your marriage is worth working on, if this is a problem in your life. The impact on your children can be huge!