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Staying in an unhappy marriage

A lot of parents ask me if they are in an unhappy marriage, whether or not they should stay together for the kids; whether it would be more beneficial for the kids. The key question is really about conflict. What research shows that conflict between two parents is what can be really damaging to kids and make things harder for them than they need them to be. What's important is not the status of your relationship, whether or not your married or stay together, but the quality of your relationship. The particular measure of quality that is important here is how high conflict your relationship is. If you are in a really high conflict relationship, it would be better for the kids, in many cases, for you to dissolve that relationship. Actually, sometimes when people divorce, the conflict goes way up, so you will be going from bad to worse in that situation. The things I like parents to think about is that if they are staying together for the kids, are they providing an environment that is more or less free from conflict?

Learn how to tell if it's worth it to stay together for the kids or not when you are in an unhappy marriage, with advice from Christine Carter, PhD Sociologist & Happiness Expert


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Christine Carter, PhD

Sociologist & Happiness Expert

A sociologist and happiness expert at UC Berkeley’s Greater Good Science Center, Christine Carter, PhD is the author of Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents. Dr. Carter also writes an award-winning blog for Greater Good, which is syndicated on the Huffington Post and Carter has helped thousands of parents find more joy in their parenting while raising happy, successful and resilient kids. Known for her parenting and relationship advice, Carter draws on psychology, sociology, neuroscience, and uses her own chaotic and often hilarious real-world adventures to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts in action.

After receiving her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, Dr. Carter worked in marketing management and school administration, going on to receive her PhD. in sociology from UC Berkeley. Dr. Carter has been quoted in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, USA Today, the Chicago Tribune, the San Francisco Chronicle and dozens of other publications. She has appeared on the “Oprah Winfrey Show,” the “TODAY” show, the “Rachael Ray Morning Show,” “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” “CBS Sunday Morning,” “ABC World News with Diane Sawyer” and NPR.

Carter has been a keynote speaker at hundreds of events and professional groups. In 2010, she received an award from the Council on Contemporary Families for her outstanding science-based reporting on family issues. In 2011 she won Red Tricycle’s award for the “Most Awesome Parent Education,” and so far in 2012 she has been nominated for a Bammy Award and for an award from the American Sociological Association for public sociology.

Dr. Carter teaches parenting classes online throughout the year to a global audience on She lives with her family in Berkeley, CA.

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