How to Help Your Child’s Struggling Marriage


Photo Caption: Couple Greeting Senior Parents At Front Door As They Come To Visit

As parents, we want to help our kids through every season of life. When they’re little, they welcome our help when they scrape a knee or have a scary dream. Once they’re grown, the dynamics become much more complicated. Perhaps most complicated of all is knowing how, when, and if to help when we see one our children struggling in their marriage.

This is a common dynamic and a frustrating one for many people. When we see our son or daughter living with perpetual unhappiness, constant conflict, or other forms of strive in their own home, it can make our own protective parental instincts kick into overdrive. The problem arises when our instinct to help lead us into a minefield that could unintentionally do more harm than good or standing helplessly on the sidelines feeling powerless to do anything at all without alienating our child and/or their spouse.

Every situation is unique, so I also hesitate to prescribe “one-size-fits-all” advice, but in the research for our upcoming book, “Married into the Family: The Not-So-Secret Guide to In-Law Relationships,” my wife Ashley and I discovered some behaviors that were consistently present in healthy, multigenerational families. Regardless of the unique challenges your own child might be facing in their marriage, below are four ways to start making a positive difference.

As a quick-but-important sidenote here, this list isn’t intended for situations where your child is being physically or emotionally abused. In situations of active abuse, you may need to stage an intervention with other loved ones to help your child get the help and protection they need to be safe and to make sure your grandchildren are safe as well. For all other situations, start with these four strategies:


  1. Start by serving practical needs instead of offering advice. It’s been said that unsolicited advice is almost never taken, so instead of giving advice, try something like babysitting instead. If a couple with children is struggling, chances are good that they could benefit from more uninterrupted time together, so offer to meet that need. Take the kids and give them time together. Even if they don’t have children, find other ways to serve. The more you serve, the more influence you’ll have when you do offer advice.
  2. Do NOT be a safe place for your child to vent about their spouse. I know it can be tempting to bond with your child by joining them in trash-talking their spouse, but it will backfire. If your child starts complaining about their spouse, offer to help them both in whatever ways you can. Offer to help pay for counseling if you have the financial means to do so. Give encouragement but set a firm boundary letting your child know that complaining about their spouse won’t solve the issue. As I stated before, if there’s abusive behavior going on, then help your child get the immediate help they need.
  3. Share marriage-building resources with them. Even if it’s advice you’ve said a thousand times, our kids seem to listen more when it comes from somebody else. There are countless books, podcast episodes, and other marriage-enriching resources, that could send to your child with a simple message like, “I just listened to this podcast, and it really encouraged me. I thought you might enjoy it too.” Or “This was a great article. I wish I had seen this when I was your age! It would have helped me a lot.”
  4. Prayer is not passive. It’s not a last resort. It’s connecting to our loving Heavenly Father who is powerful, loving, and able to do miracles. As we pray, it can change the circumstances, but it is also likely to change your own perspective about the circumstances. Prayer will also give you peace to replace the worries. It reminds you that God is in control.

For additional resources to help you build a thriving, multi-generational family with your relatives and your in-laws, I encourage you to check out our upcoming book, Married into the Family, and also listen to our family and in-law focused episodes on The Naked Marriage Podcast.

Share this article: