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What is Marital Discord and How Does it Affect Children?

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Written by Kriti Dugar

If you are married, then you might know how important and significant it can be in your life. On the contrary, you may have realized the challenges that come with it. Often distress, disharmony and lack of adjustment among partners can lead to marital conflict, resulting in marital discord. Sadly, it may lead to the disruption of the most prominent social institution – marriage and in turn, family. 

If you or your loved ones need to speak to someone, please know that you can connect with us at Cadabam's Hospitals. Our helpline number 9741476476 is available to you 24x7 for access to our experts in mental health who can help you in coping with marital disharmony.

Understanding Marital Discord

Indian families are going through new challenges and transitions. The fast-changing social environment has thrown up new challenges, like growing instability, lack of communication, changing roles of husband and wife, or even tension/conflict of a short life. This has resulted in the absence of harmony among married couples. 

Marital discord meaning, in short, can be understood as inconsistencies in a married relationship. It is a game of tug-of-war, with dissatisfaction, personal differences and inconsistencies present on either side of the relationship, burdened by ego clashes. Ultimately, the outcome of such a battle results in conflict, exhaustion, and undoubtedly, a great impact on the children who witness discord in childhood.

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Common Causes of Marital Discord :

Marital discord is not an uncommon phenomenon. Several couples are going through troubles and conflicts which has inherently increased the number of divorce cases. Not just the common public but celebrity couples are separating after years of marriage due to various reasons. Here are some common causes of marital conflict :

Financial Matters: 

Money has become extremely important in our lives, with things at sky-rocket prices due to inflation. The fad of comparison caused by social media can further fuel the fire. Arguments over a lack of money, reckless spending habits, unemployment, and making decisions on significant investments such as houses, cars, etc. can be common problems between couples. Along with this, being intrusive or restricting expenditure, blaming the other for lack of finances, etc. can make create a disturbing domestic space. This is also one of the ways how parents stress can hurt a child.

Physical Distance: 

Every couple needs physical and emotional intimacy, which often forms the tenet of any relationship. However, often couples are not in proximity because of working in different cities, seeing each other only on weekends, having different working hours, etc. 

This can lead to fewer interactions, which in turn can spark fights. The worst-case scenario could be when couples, become distant and unbothered by their partner. This leads to more emotional distance which can eventually break a relationship. 

Not Owning up to Responsibilities

Although this can start as trivial matters like not bringing home groceries, not speaking to the other family members of the spouse; it can also snowball into being unavailable on important days, making excuses for not doing things, neglecting the child(ren), disregarding domestic and parental duties etc. Expectations from the other partner and continued disappointment can further cause disharmony. 


Strong differences in perspectives such as hatred towards a family member, conflicts about having different political opinions, hatred towards the spouse’s personality or values etc., can lead to intense arguments. Strong emotions like hatred can lead to discord and conflict.  

How do Children Suffer from their Parents’ Conflict?

A young child merely seeing their parents argue may instill anxiety and poor judgment of emotions. They can start to blame themselves, be afraid of creating commitments, and even adopt unhealthy techniques such as binge eating or not eating at all. It could also lead to substance abuse or even throwing tantrums. 

Although all children go through rebellious phases, children exposed to these suffer more as their self-esteem and emotional adjustment plunge. Even clinical conditions such as anxiety and depression can occur at a young age, affecting other areas such as making friends, performance in school, interest in activities, and future relationships. These are just some of the ways parents fight affect the child.

Psychotherapeutic Services for Children

Psychotherapeutic services can be beneficial to the children of parents who undergo marital discord. Counseling services can immensely benefit the child in understanding the home environment better, their role as well as how to deal with different emotions they must be experiencing.

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Do’s and Dont’s through Marital Discord

It is imperative to understand that any child exposed to such events would be highly vulnerable. Here are a few tips on what one can or shouldn’t do as a third-party observer of families undergoing marital discord

  • Shaming or scolding the child – The emotional reactions of the child can be a sign of impulsive behavior or just a means to cope. In such situations, no comment or judgment should be passed. 

  • Trying to make the child choose sides – As a third-party observer, try not to be prejudiced or convince the child that one parent is better than the other. Instead, you can be a shoulder for them to cry on or a safe space to vent their emotions. 

As a parent, here are a few do’s and don’ts while dealing with your child : 

  • Try not to blame the child – Please do not blame your child for your conflicts. Instead, try talking to your child about how they felt and reassure them not to blame themselves too.
  • Try not to over or under indulge the child – It is straightforward to try and be compensatory towards the child. Being moral support for the child itself can go a long way in helping them deal with stress.
  • Try listening to your child – More often than not, they would have certain thoughts and ideas that can be clarified as a parent, creating healthy coping mechanisms for the child. 
  • Try looking at Psychotherapeutic help for your child -  Having a professional to guide the child to understand their personal experiences can do wonders for their coping mechanisms. 

Conclusion : 

Marriage is not always easy, but it is essential to be aware of how marital discord can affect relationships and children. It is crucial to take the necessary steps to prevent a negative impact on the children, who end up being silent, unsuspecting victims. 

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