Teens can put extreme stress on a family. Marriage partners ultimately determine whether their marriage will work, but high-maintenance teenagers, disrespectful behavior and conflict can make the marriage difficult. When your teenager adds strain to your marriage, intervene and make changes before you suffer the consequences.
Whether they mean to or not, teenagers can be demanding. They have school projects, extracurricular activities, sports, social commitments and entertainment expectations that require a lot of time and attention. Even though teenagers want to be independent, they need parents to help them navigate life. All the teenage demands put stress on a marriage. Set parameters when you don't want your teenager to zap all the energy out of your relationship. Let her know you'll drive her Friday night, but Saturday night is date night with dad. Or, allow her to have friends over every other weekend, so you and your spouse have alternate quiet weekends at home.
Conflict in a teenager's home is often the result of disagreements over discipline. One parent thinks grounding is an appropriate consequence for missed homework, but the other thinks the teen should apologize to the teacher. Dad might want the teen to do extra work around the house as a punishment for neglecting his chores, and mom might want to take away the car keys. Marriage difficulties arise when parents don't present a united front and disagree on disciplinary and responsibility issues, according to psychologist Carl Pickhardt on the Psychology Today website. It's not always easy, but coming to an agreement before you talk to your teenager can make all the difference. Even if you have different disciplinary methods, your goals are the same. Don't let it cause a rift in your marriage.
Teenagers damage a marriage when they set ultimatums. This is especially true when the marriage involves a stepparent. The teen might refuse to come to the dinner table when the stepparent is home, or treat the stepparent unkindly. A teen might even try to manipulate a parent by forcing her to choose between them and the stepparent. As an authority figure, reassure your teenager that your love is unconditional, but you won't tolerate manipulation.
One of the most painful and destructive forces in a marriage is a child who abuses drugs or alcohol. Parents often worry, support co-dependent habits and enable addictions because they're scared of what might happen. A troubled teen usually gets all the attention, and the marriage gets the short end of the stick. When you neglect your marriage due to your teen's unhealthy habits, you lose sight of your marriage goals. You might have occasions when you have to put date nights, romantic dinners and friendly conversations on hold to deal with your teenager, but those times should be short-lived. You need to reconnect with your spouse. Seek professional help for your teen, so you and your spouse don't lose touch.
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