Category Archives: Kids

Is it dangerous to fight in front of our kids?

fighting in front of kids

Short answer – It depends.  I know it sounds like I’m sitting on the fence unwilling to commit, but hang with me – there’s good reason for my waffling.

Your first consideration should be the kids

Remember these facts:

Your children’s emotional boundaries are still developing. To them it can feel like they’re in the fight as much as you are.

Worse, if the fight touches on something they did, they can feel responsible for the tension between you and your partner.

Emotional intensity can affect children in ways we don’t know. A 2013 study by researchers at the University of Oregon showed infants’ brains reacting to other persons’ anger, even while the infants were asleep.

''Infants’ brains respond to anger, even when they’re sleeping''. Click To Tweet
Is it worth the risk? I would say no. But I have a caveat.

Are you fighting to hurt?

Every relationship that matters to us has times when we need to work out a conflict.
How you handle this process is a function of your end game. Are you seeking to come to shared understanding? Or to win at all cost? To prove yourself right? To show your partner is wrong, even if it means belittling or embarrassing them? If you do this in front of your kids, regardless of their ages, you are emotionally crippling them, setting them up for ineffective patterns in their own relationships.

Or are you fighting to heal?

If you’re both doing your dead-level best to come to mutual understanding, to a solution that – whether or not it’s yours – is best for everyone, that may be a process your kids need to see.

In Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World, Adam Grant, a professor of psychology at Wharton, cites a 2009 study by researchers at the University of Rochester and Notre Dame. The study of 235 families over the course of three years found that kids who felt emotionally safe and saw their parents argue constructively used more empathy in dealing with others, and in classroom settings they were more friendly and helpful.

Now that’s an outcome I can support.

''Kids who see their parents argue constructively show more empathy to others''. Click To Tweet

The bottom line

As I do with all of my clients, I urge you to look past the heat to the healing.

If you see that most of your arguments involve tearing down your partner, making fun of their opinions, or loudly exploiting an error in their logic, shut yourself down. Walk out of the room. Take a drive. Do whatever it takes to deescalate the emotions.

And most important of all, commit to never let this happen again. If you can’t, one of you needs to move out until you can get into therapy. It’s just not worth what you might be doing to your kids’ brains.

But if you’re able to say, “Let’s calm this down. I’d like to think about what you’re saying and talk it through again. Can we do it tonight after supper?” you might be in a place your children desperately need to see. After all, how many people in this world can show them how to calmly work toward shared understanding? And who better than the two people they love more than anyone else in the world?

If you want more of this peaceful yet constructive approach in your marriage, give us a call or schedule an appointment with us online. We are experts in helping couples manage conflict in relationships.

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Verbal Abuse,  Part 1 of 2 – Men Who Rage and The Women Who Love Them

abusive behaviorVerbal Abuse – I see it a lot.

I’ve been seeing a lot of clients lately who are married to men who are funny, witty, charming and loving….most of the time. But these men also have a darker side.  

They can be threatening and intimidating.  They can fly off the handle and say hurtful, cruel things to their wives. 

When your husband has a Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde side, you live in a world of confusion.  

You long for the gentleness that only others see in your husband.  But because you have witnessed his dark side, you cannot fully let your guard down.  You feel more isolated and alone as the years go by.

I worry about you.  I see someone like you in my office every week.  I get it.  

I know you feel disloyal when you talk about your husband’s temper or fits of rage.  

I know you can go days or weeks or even months without a blow up and so you tell yourself things aren’t so bad.  

I hear how you explain to me how good your life is most of the time.

You tell me what a good provider your husband is and how sweet and generous he can be.  

But I also hear how you cry yourself to sleep on those nights when he exploded over something so innocent you still can’t believe it happened.  

I see you the next morning when you are scared and alone and feel you can’t stay in the marriage another day.

I also know many of you feel guilty because you can rage right along with him.  

You have said hurtful things as well, and your behavior embarrasses you.  

It makes you feel you have no right to point the finger at your husband.

This isn’t going to get any better until you stop minimizing what is happening in your home and make some changes.  

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Minimizing and denying verbal abuse is what feeds this cycle.

I have some good news and some bad news for you.  Are you ready?

The good news is you aren’t crazy.  

You are being abused if your husband calls you names, rages in anger or shuts you down with emotional intimidation.

This isn’t normal fighting that all couples experience.  

This is abusive.

The bad news is you have to clean up your side of this mess.  

If you are participating in the raging, you are also being abusive.  

It isn’t ok to meet aggression with aggression.  

Step 1 in Stopping Verbal Abuse

If you can join the crazy train with your husband, your first job is to stop indulging yourself this way.  

It feels good to unleash all your anger on someone.  

It’s a physical release to slam doors, scream names and insults and throw temper tantrums.  

But you absolutely have to stop.

Walk away when things are getting this intense.  

Your husband may escalate, but you can refuse to join him.

Step 2 in Stopping Verbal Abuse

The second step is to talk to your spouse when things are calm.  

Explain how these fights are causing you distress.  

Tell him you need for him to control himself and you will do a better job of controlling yourself.  

Ask him to come to counseling with you.  If he refuses, that’s ok.  Come anyway.  

You need to learn how to set appropriate limits on your spouse when he is popping his cork.  

You need to learn how to protect yourself and your marriage.

I promise, if you keep doing nothing, your relationship will suffer.  Possibly to the point you can’t recover.  

Relationships can survive anything except the permanent loss of security and safety.  

Every time you have a fight it damages that sense of security for you.  

You will start to detach from your husband.  

I want you to learn how to stop this before it is too late.  

At The Marriage Place, we can help both of you understand just how toxic this dynamic is, and we can help you stop.  

We can show you how to feel safe and cherished with each other again.  

Call us at 972-441-4432 or contact us here.  

You can start feeling better about your relationship as soon as you make the call because you are finally doing something that works.


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