Why a Struggling Relationship is the Biggest Risk Factor for Children


By Ariel Minter

Going through high school and college, I felt as though I came from a rare form of home life. The fact that my parents were still married was more unusual than usual. 

Just over 50% of marriages end in divorce, according to the CDCs latest report from 2011. This doesn’t even count how many marriages stay together, albeit unhappily. I’m not sure if someone has done a study on how many marriages report genuine happiness, but my bet is that those numbers are dishearteningly low. 

Let’s assume that the reason why these numbers are so high is because a lot of people misunderstand the commitment behind what a marriage or successful coupleship means. This misunderstanding can get extremely specific and has a wide range; i.e. one partner was horribly abusive or, on the opposite end, Jane Doe just “fell out of love” with her partner. So they end the relationship.

Unfortunately, marriage isn’t a box full of all the beautiful things people have always longed for. It’s messy and complicated and to some degree, we are all hurt. Hurting people hurt people

Divorce and separation are extremely difficult when it is just between two partners, but when those partners have children it gets exponentially more complicated. It impacts every facet of life: financial, emotional, physical, etc. 

The impacts this separation or divorce has on children is extensive and leads to a plethora of effects:

  • Children from divorced or separated homes suffer academically. They experience high levels of behavioral problems. Their grades suffer, and they are less likely to graduate from high school.2
  • Kids whose parents divorce or separate are substantially more likely to be incarcerated for committing a crime as a juvenile.3
  • Because the custodial parent’s income drops substantially after a divorce, children in divorced homes are almost five times more likely to live in poverty than are children with married parents.4
  • Teens from divorced homes are much more likely to engage in drug and alcohol use, as well as sexual intercourse than are those from intact families.5
  • Children of divorced parents suffer more frequently from symptoms of psychological distress.8 And the emotional scars of divorce last into adulthood.9
  • In a culture that has become aware and engaged in the conversation on becoming healthier, I am surprised that so many (regardless of children) choose divorce or separation without exhausting all possible options. 

    The argument is clear enough to me. Many people who are considering divorce or separation often ask this question: “What is worse? To stay in an environment where the struggling relationship is hard to conceal and the issues are only continuing or escalating, or separate into an environment that is peaceful and safe?”

    It would seem that the most logical thing to do would be to terminate the relationship, so the child or children wouldn’t be exposed to the disintegration of the relationship. But why, when the evidence is so strong in how this separation impacts the child(ren), is it socially acceptable to call it quits without really trying every other option?

    Divorce can be the most appropriate action to take when there are forms of abuse (i.e. physical, emotional, sexual, verbal), however recovery is possible for all of these things if both parties are willing to get the help they need. 

    Interestingly enough, most people who chose to divorce or separate said it was because they simply “fell out of love” with their partner. I guess that’s what “irreconcilable differences” might mean. 

    The thing is, Passion Provokers has a 97% success rate in keeping couples happily together. Even if they are in the process of separation or divorce. 

    In a society where more than half of married couples get divorced, 97% success is huge. The reason why that number is so high is because we work with individuals and couples who are really wanting to try. Success in a relationship is an active choice. If you are choosing that, anything is possible. 

    Choosing to get the help and save the relationship will protect future generations from experiencing pain and dysfunction that is 100% preventable

    Not only does it prevent said pain and dysfunction, becoming healthier in a relationship will manifest health in your child(ren). Our goal is to create healthy individuals, couples, and families. The healthier you are, the healthier your children (or future children) will be. 

    This is a domino effect that has the potential to change the world. 

    The coaches at Passion Provokers offer a free 60-minute consultation. If you, your relationship, or your children are struggling, we can offer dynamic help

    Click HERE for more information on the sources notated above. 

    2 thoughts on “Why a Struggling Relationship is the Biggest Risk Factor for Children

    1. Great article! The results and statistics from all those studies are very eye-opening to the issues that can arise from relationship problems. Having a proven record of success shows that most of the health, emotional, financial, and physical problems associated with separation and divorce can be alleviated just by learning and using a few KEY tools to drastically improve relationships. It most definitely worked for MY marriage!

      1. Exactly!! It is amazing how just changing a few simple things can literally transform AND save your life!

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