Tag Archives: fighting

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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How to make marriage last forever

how to make marriage last foreverHow do we make marriage last forever?

There is a concept with marriage in our society that I just don’t get.  

It is the idea that when attraction leaves, the marriage is over.  

Or when you don’t feel IN love anymore, it is time to move on.  

This seems crazy to me.

I have a different view of marriage that some of my clients have told me is “old fashioned.”  It is certainly not the sexiest view of matrimony, but it has saved me from multiple divorces and a shattered family.

In my opinion, the way to make a marriage last forever is to start with a certain mindset. It is the fundamental belief that when two people marry, they create a family. It’s a bond that is as strong as if you were related by blood.  Even more so, actually, because you chose each other.  Blood relatives don’t get to choose. So if you viewed your spouse as your “family”, tied together no matter what…you will stay married through the ups and downs of life.  Whether you feel like it or not.

How making a marriage last forever relates to having kids.  

When you decide to bring children into this world, you commit to loving them.  This is pretty remarkable considering you don’t have any idea what they will be like when you decide to conceive.  

You don’t even know if if you will have a boy or a girl.  You have wants and desires for your children.  But you almost always get surprises.  And yet, you love your children fiercely.  

Even when they are unlovable.

You love them when they hurt you.  

You love them when you don’t like them.  

You wouldn’t dream of leaving your children because you just didn’t feel like being their parent any longer.

Some people do this and we are shocked when we see it.  Because it isn’t natural.

Now, how would the world change if we viewed marriage the same way?

Here’s the thing:  most people end a marriage when they are in pain.  

Whether it is pain from disappointment, betrayal or unmet needs.  

Sometimes it is the misery that comes from the frustration of not feeling loved.  

And sometimes it is the pain of boredom.  

There isn’t any abuse, but there aren’t any fireworks either.  We don’t like pain.  

We try to avoid it or we numb it or run from it.  But pain is necessary for growth.  

So in all our avoidance of pain, we are also avoiding the opportunities it provides us to grow ourselves up.  

Pain is an invitation to change.  Make your Marriage Last Forever.

So if your marriage is causing you pain, let that pain teach you and guide you.  

Let it change you.  I’m not talking about suffering through an abusive relationship.  

I don’t believe every marriage should be saved.  

But the way we recycle life partners in our culture indicates we have a serious problem with avoiding and denial.  

You will have days when you don’t like your spouse.  

You will have seasons where you question your commitment and love.  

You will yearn for a simpler life with less conflict.  

You may even be tempted by greener pastures.  

But remember, you committed to love this person for the rest of your life.  

I don’t believe in saving marriage at any cost.  

But seriously, if you are miserable in your marriage and there isn’t abuse, it is growing pains.  A sign that something needs to change in you or your partner.  

We don’t seem to know how to get along with anyone anymore.  

We aren’t very good at reaching out to our neighbors or involving ourselves in other people’s worlds.  

We have become hedonistic and it is toxic to us and to our society.

A Real Life Example

I met with a client recently who was having an emotional affair.  

She was angry because she had told her husband for years she was unhappy.

He didn’t get serious about changing until he found out about the affair.  

She asked me why it took something so drastic, because now she really didn’t care anymore.  

I told her it took this long because she trained him.  

She complained, but she didn’t get his attention.  

If she was truly unhappy she should have put the marriage on hold.  

Moved out of the bedroom, gone to counseling, given him a deadline and followed through.  

She was shocked and asked me if she really should have been that direct.  

It felt so “mean” to her.  Ironically, it would have been much kinder to have gotten his attention and forced his hand sooner while she still wanted the marriage.  

If you or your spouse is unhappy, get to work.  

Stop staying silent because you think it is easier or you feel like “what’s the point.”

If you are complaining and your spouse isn’t changing anything or taking you seriously, ramp it up until you have their attention.  

Having a marriage last forever will take work.  

But the rewards will be worth your time and effort.  

Trust me!  I know these things.

Contact us today, and let’s work together to make your marriage last.


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