Having a baby can definitely change a marriage. I’ve touched a little on the subject already here. Although we are now in a very happy place, lack of sleep and a new addition to the family can be overwhelming and stressful. We fought a lot in the first couple of weeks.
Now that our daughter is a little older, she is starting to understand what our moods are like. She is more aware of when we’re happy, when we’re arguing and when she’s in trouble!
After a recent fight, my hubby and I sat down and discussed that we needed to change a few things. We agreed that although it is important for kids to understand that fighting is a normal part of any relationship, we also think it’s important do it right and show them that it can be done whilst still respecting each other.
So what is fighting? It is the action of fighting, violence or conflict or engaging in or displaying violence. Ok Google, this is not what I meant. Perhaps we will use a different term, Is it OK to argue in front of your kids? Argue means to exchange or express diverging or opposite views. Yes, argue is a better term!
So here are our rules:
1. Stay calm, if you can’t, then walk away and come back. I always say if you don’t have anything nice to say then it’s probably time to walk away and cool off. It’s hard to take back things you’ve said whilst you were angry. Things can be taken to heart and it’s hard to forget. If you’re feeling the heat, go distract yourself, have a glass of water or take a shower. If this doesn’t work, leave it, go to sleep and revisit the issue the next day.
2. Once you’ve both cooled off, sit down and reflect on what made you upset.
3. Avoid accusatory tones:
- Instead of: “You did this…” try “this happened and it made me feel…”
- Try “I want to know what I can do to make it easier for this to happen…”
- Try “If I’ve done something wrong can you let me know?”
4. Don’t compare your partner to others. This is very easily done but try to remember everything always looks better on the outside. People’s lives aren’t perfect. Everybody has flaws. Comparing your partner isn’t right and isn’t fair.
5. Make some time to spend together without the kids. Time as a family is great but time away from the kids is good for any marriage! Ask your mother, mother-in-law or another person you trust to take the kids so that you can both spend some quality time together.
6. Have a kitchen diary for all to use so that everybody is on the same page. I find that sometimes dates can often be mixed up or forgotten in conversation. Having a family diary where everybody looks at it means we are all on the same page. Appointments can easily be made because we have them all recorded in the one place. Keep your daily schedule realistic and don’t plan too much! Over planning means you can easily get flustered and annoyed.
7. Provide good handover. When your partner has just stepped in to take the kids from you, it’s important that sufficient handover is given so that things can run smoothly. This is especially important in the early days. Information such as ‘the last bottle was given at 3pm’ are vital to hand over to avoid confusion.
8. Include each other in your goal setting. This includes making realistic financial plans together too. Having a baby can be a struggle financially, especially if you don’t have a solid plan when two incomes become one. Financial strain inevitably leads to relationship strain. You can read about my experience and how to reduce this here.
9. Remember to compromise and discuss everything inclusively, especially your individual and shared goals.
10. Don’t be afraid to ask your partner for help! Last night, I didn’t do this and I snapped it at my hubby. Madeleine hasn’t been sleeping well and my poor hubby has been copping it. Ask for help before you snap it like me!
11. Be honest with each other. Be honest about how you feel. When you stop communicating this is when things are bad. I think this is worse than just fighting. Not communicating can sometimes a sign that you’ve given up!
I believe that it’s important for kids to know disagreements and arguments are natural and healthy processes of all relationships. Arguing is one of the many ways in which we learn about each other. It’s important to have a voice and stand up for your beliefs but also to respect the opinions of others. It is this respect and the resulting compromise that I hope Madeleine will learn from us.
So, is it OK to argue in front of your kids? My answer is definitely yes!