Disagreements, arguing or "fighting" can't be avoided in any healthy relationship. Your spouse and partner are not going to be able to agree on everything. Some couples may have decided to "never fight in front of the kids" but these tips can not only show you why disagreeing in front of your children can be healthy, but how to do it the right way.
Focus on the "problem." Try to resolve whatever the issue use and nothing else. Now is not the time to also bring up the "and" argument; and you never pick up your dirty clothes, and you don't discipline the kids, and . . . Discuss the topic at hand by talking and listening.
Don't fight dirty. You may be upset or angry or you may simply be having a disagreement, but "fighting dirty" can take a disagreement or discussion to a whole new level and eventually end up in hurt feelings and a lack of focus, not to mention bad habits for your children to learn.
Watch the tone. Sometimes discussions can escalate, but it is important to not only watch what you say but how you say it. Children may hear loud voices and expect the worst as well as learn to hide or scream to learn to deal with conflict.
Avoid judging, correcting and interrupting. Your significant other has something to say too. If you want them to listen to you respectfully then you need to do the same.
Avoid the words "you" "always" "and "never." This places blame, and leaves the other person feeling defensive, and instead of working through it they start mentioning all the things you have done. As for "never," has your significant other really "never" picked up their dirty clothes? Not one item in all the time you have been together? After all, who knows -- they may actually do chores when you aren't home. "Always" can also put someone on the defensive, because it means that you have noticed this and let it "fester."
Don't pretend to "know you." You may "know" your spouse, but you don't know better than they do how they are feeling or what they are thinking. Avoid phrases like "You are just saying that," and "I know you, you will be mad later."
Accentuate the positive. You may not agree with spending x number of dollars on a new whatchamacallit for your child, but it helps to resolve the issue if you can come at this with "I know that you are a generous mother/father but do we really want to or need to spend that much money on that toy? Is there something that he would like just as much, because this really isn't in our budget right now and I worry about making credit card charges a habit?"
Sometimes it is best to wait 'till later. While there are times you may argue or disagree in front of the kids there are some discussions and disagreements that simply do need to wait until later, those things that are "hot" buttons or topics or those things that may escalate. One of those may be discipline. By disagreeing in front of the children it tells them that that is not a united front and that there is a place that they can chip away at to avoid being disciplined at all.
Talk to your kids. "We are going to work through this together. It may get loud, we may disagree, but you can know that we are working together to solve the problem." "We wouldn't argue if we both didn't feel strongly about it." Also stress that their input is not needed or wanted, this is between you two.
Shrek is not the only one who thinks "Better out than in." According to research by the University of Michigan School of Public Health, "A good fight with your spouse may be good for your marriage—and may improve your odds for a long life. Preliminary results of a University of Michigan study suggest that couples where both the husband and wife suppress their anger when one attacks the other die earlier than members of couples where one or both partners express their anger and resolve the conflict." Not only can it be healthy for your relationship to work through your problems, but it helps your children learn several important lessons including courtesy, respect for others, the ability to admit when they are wrong, that "fights" don't have to end in divorce and the ability to resolve their own conflicts in a mature way.
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