Saving a relationship, instead of giving up, can often be the best solution for you and your family. However, how do you save a relationship that's falling apart & is it worth keeping a relationship alive for 'the sake of the kids'?
It's incredibly common for relationships to break down. Factors such as finances, work, time or perhaps even a 3rd party, can severely affect how couples feel about each other. The evidence is out there which shows that children who are brought up in a balanced family home with both a father & a mother, have many advantages over children brought up in single parent homes.
Children that are brought up in positive family environments with both parental figures present, are shown to outperform single parent children in school studies, have less mental health issues, less likelihood of teenage pregnancies or getting involved with drugs or alcohol. They are also more likely to be financially stable and go into further education to improve their future. On top of this, the breakup of a long-term relationship, particularly if you are married can potentially cost you years of progress made in your life. Take into consideration how much money you could lose in divorce settlements, lawyers fees, worse still not seeing your children enough or having them alienated against you. The effects of the breakup could last 5-10 years or even a lifetime, and more importantly, will maybe devastate your children & their progress & emotional stability also.
It doesn't stop there - a report written by Psychology Today outlines the damages that fatherless homes causes. This can include:
Diminished self-concept and compromised physical and emotional security
Truancy & poor academic performance (71% of high school dropouts are fatherless - Psychology Today 2012)
Delinquency and youth crime, including violent crime - (85% of youth in prison have an absent father - Psychology Today 2012)
Promiscuity and teen pregnancy:
Homelessness (90% of runaway children have an absent father - Psychology Today 2012)
Drug and alcohol abuse
Exploitation and abuse (Preschoolers not living with both of their biological parents are 40 times more likely to be sexually abused - Psychology Today 2012)
Mental health disorders
Mortality (Fatherless children are more likely to die as children, and live an average of four years less over the life span)
That being said, if the relationship is one that is abusive either physically or emotionally, to either the child or either of the partners, then this is not a positive environment for any child to live in and there are serious psychological implications for the child concerned. If this is the case, it is certainly worth getting some professional advice around how to exit your relationship and make a new start for your own safety and the safety and well-being of the child.
However, despite all of this, relationships can be fixed. Amends can be made and it can be extremely beneficial for the children if both parents stay together. Here's our tips on what you can do practically to improve your relationship and in turn, your child's well-being.
1. Love is a sacrifice
What are the items that are affecting your relationship? It’s best to cut damaging external factors down to a minimum. Former exes, friends, and excessive use of social media might be adding toxicity to the life you and your partner share. Additionally any vices such as alcoholism, drug use, gambling, gaming or cheating, will certainly destroy any hope of sustaining a positive relationship. Love is a sacrifice, and this means that you have to let some things go.
You do have to change yourself and make some amends. Keep your identity, but at the same time appreciate it was your choice to enter into a relationship, and part of that means you'll have to make some amends so that your partner feels comfortable, safe & secure. Both parties should be willing to make changes, it cannot be just one person putting in all the effort.
2. Forgiving past mistakes and shortcomings
The root cause of your relationship hardship might be coming from your unwillingness to let go of what happened. The faults and lapses of your partner in the past undoubtedly hurt, but do not let the bitter memories mark a dent in your future.
Settle, amend, and make peace with your troubles as a couple. Bad things happen, people cheat, or may have been abusive, or may have done other things wrong & let you down.
We are all imperfect and we all make mistakes.
It's not acceptable to then use those things as an excuse to then name-call or bring someone down consistently. They made the mistake, & assuming they've apologised and you've accepted the apology, and providing you have chosen to continue, you should forgive fully and move on. This includes supporting them proactively and understanding why they did something wrong in the first place.
Living in a revengeful or angry environment isn't good for either of you, and certainly not the children.
3. Respect, Rules & Expectations
Respect & rules are different. Within a relationship, especially after you both become comfortable with each other and especially when living together, it can be extremely easy to become complacent when it comes to respecting the other person.
Respect is something everyone deserves. No-one deserves to be harassed, accused consistently, antagonised or made to do things that they don't want to do. Your partner is another human being and should be the person you love the most. They deserve more respect than even those who you deal with at work or outside the home.
Name-calling & bad language has no place within the home. Bad language is often the gates for insults and threatening behaviour. It can go too far and you have to be careful as it can mount up to what feels like bullying. Your mouth should always be on guard, and there is certainly no room in any successful relationship for name-calling, or cursing.
Prevention is the best cure. Avoiding these habits at the beginning, means they are less likely to happen 5 or 10 years down the line.
Keep your standards high within the relationship and share those standards between you and your partner, discuss them, and have a sense of pride around them and keep them as values or standards which you both live by.
4. Be grateful
If all else fails, remember to take a trip down memory lane and think about the good times. Go back to the very first time you met. Was it inside a restaurant? Did you meet at a pub? What were your first conversations like? Remind yourself and your partner about the reasons why you fell in love. See how much you’ve grown from it, and make ways to return to it.
If standards have slipped, you should always aim to behave how you behaved when you first met. Small things like hygiene, manners, a compliment, gifts, or a simple date can go a long way in remembering your special person.
5. Get professional help
Before everything else fails, it can often help to get professional help for your mental state. This can be via a counsellor, mediator, hypnotherapist or other mental health professional. Getting your own head clear and sorted can save years of pain and anguish and can provide you with a clear path for moving forward.
Check our list of helpful organisations who may be able to help you.
Our recommendation is that often the free or very cheap sources are completely overwhelmed and don't have the time or focus to properly care for you. Although they can be a great starting point or help in an emergency.
If you have the money, getting some private personal or relationship counselling by a specialist can go a long way and prevent a huge amount of damage. The reality is, most of us are not trained at dealing with other peoples emotions effectively, this is why it's wise to get external help from people who do know.
Mediation can also be another option which you can use. Sadly, people tend to use it just at the end of a relationship, however it can be used during a relationship also as a way of communicating fairly and effectively and making some steps forward together.