Sunday, May 19, 2013

arguing with my spouse in front of the kids

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relationships with our significant others can be tough.  we don't always get agree on things or remember to use our nice voices.  we have bad days and let words slip out before we think them through. 
last night was one of those nights.
we'd just gotten back from visiting my in-laws.  it was late and i couldn't find my contact solution.  such a silly thing.  i was frustrated and muttering under my breath.  in the processing of me venting my frustrations to my husband, it was perceived that i was snapping at him.  though i didn't mean it that way, i can see how he felt i was crabbing at him. 
and he called me out on it.  in front of Bear (4.5 yrs}.  we weren't yelling or screaming,  but our voices weren't as gentle and loving as they usually are.
it got me to thinking... 
is it okay to argue with my spouse in front of the kids?
my answer is yes, on these conditions:
  • differences in opinions are bound to happen.  as long as we handle them respectfully, in ways that don't put each other down, it teaches our children how to listen to and respect other's views on issues.
  • it's not okay to use abusive language or actions.  this isn't an issue with us as we've never laid a hand on each other in anger.  but it's a fact that there are many dear children who live in abusive homes and witness violence between their parents or parents and their partners. 
  • the disagreement has to be a child-appropriate topic.  obviously, we wouldn't argue about money or marital problems in front of the kids.  i'd say 98% of our "arguments" are based on misunderstandings or misconceptions of the other's intentions, which makes them things that are okay for the kids to hear.
  • we have to try to use nice voices.  this is a tough one for me.  our disagreements are few and far between, yet when they happen, i get defensive immediately.  we don't yell at each other, but i will admit that our voices last night weren't as gentle as they should've been.
  • and lastly....we have to make sure that our kids see the resolution to the disagreement.  i generally give my husband space afterward. when we apologize to each other, i try and make sure that the kids see and hear us apologize.  i think it's important that we teach them that a heartfelt apology can mend fences.  a hug and a kiss between us, shows them that just because Momma and Daddy disagree, it doesn't mean that we don't love each other.
in short, i think that airing disagreements in front of children can be beneficial to the development of their relationship ideals.  arguing doesn't mean that two people don't love each other, just that they have opposing views on issues.  likewise, it also teaches them how and how not to handle confrontations with others.
what do you think?
do you and your significant other air your differences
with each other in front of your children?
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Lindsey - Seedlings Nursery School said...

I agree. My husband and I rarely argue, but it's for the same reasons you mentioned - simple misunderstandings or a need to make oneself more clear. Many times we'll end up just teasing (in a silly way) each other about the little things that annoy us and that's enough for each of us to know that something needs some adjustment. I do think it's important for kiddos to see respectful disagreements and resolutions. We must be doing something right because my 3 1/2 yr old will come to me after a rough patch and say, "Mom, I'm sorry I had a rough day with you." :)

Sheri said...

Wonderful post Andie. Disagreements are a natural part of being human, and learning to handle them in a kind and respectful way is a wonderful gift. We all have those times when we lose it. That's also human. After almost 28 years of marriage, I can honestly say that we rarely raised our voices in front of the kids, but kids are smart. They could always sense when we were upset with each other. Our particular way of handling our anger with each other was to let things cool off for a day or two and then talk it out (in private). Those couple days of not being all that happy with each other were tough, and it was hard to hide that from the kids. I would often be honest and just say "dad and I aren't that happy with each other right now, but we love each other very much and we'll be friends again soon". They could usually relate. Kids fight all the time, and often make up and are playing again in no time.

The weird thing is, now that are kids are adults and we hardly ever fight, the kids think our gentle teasing is fighting! We don't get it. We'll tell them that we really aren't mad, but they'll still think we aren't being very nice. It can be something as little as; all of us will be hanging out in the living room. I might say to my husband "are you trying to show off your tummy?". (because every time he lays on the floor he puts his arms behind his head and half of his stomach shows). It's fine if it's just us and the kids, but our son's new fiance was visiting. It was my way of gently saying "hey, put your arms down" without trying to embarrass him. He got the hint and sat up, but seriously, the kids thought I was being really mean.

If only they knew how bad it could be!

The Monko said...

Interesting post. My problem would be that when I am cross enough to be "disagreeing" with Hublet i am not restrained enough to remember to use kind voices. We very rarely argue but I think I'd rather Goblin didn't see when we did. I think if you can stick to the rules you laid out then it is Ok to have disagreements, but the rules are probably quite challenging for most couples. Gonna share this on SPP pinterestboard

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