Marriage is hard. It’s hard because it takes work and life is unpredictable. As much planning and prepping you do, life and marriage can throw unexpected obstacles in your way. When kids are in the mix, marriage can feel like it exists in a vacuum where the daily stress and drama of raising little ones puts enormous emotional and financial stress on a couple. Some experts warn that arguing in front of kids can leave them with lasting emotional damage. But what if finding healthy ways to argue in front of kids does the opposite; prepares them for how to handle serious conflict?
That’s exactly the tact my husband and I have taken. After 14 years of marriage, we’ve seen a lot of bliss and enough misery to know that if we didn’t change the way we argued that divorce would be a reality for us. And with our three children watching us, we decided to draft up some rules of engagement so that we can still communicate even if it is unpleasant.
My husband doesn’t raise his voice at me precisely because we don’t want our sons to think that it is ok for men to yell at women. We are also keenly aware that our daughter is watching and we don’t want her to think that it is ok to be with a man who yells at her.
We’re adults. We swear all the damn time. But never at each other and especially when we are not seeing eye-to-eye. As parents, we want to emphasize to our kids that our language matters, especially when our heart rates are up because we’re angry about something. But that doesn’t mean we can’t take a deep breathe and express ourselves appropriately.
Most marriages and relationships have that one touchy subject that hits a raw nerve for at least one party in the relationship. My husband and have actively chosen to never bring that subject up when our kids are around.
Have A Common Goal
Our biggest goal as parents is to raise kids who are kind, respectful, and responsible. That means that no matter how rough our relationship gets we absolutely must keep this goal in mind and to behave in a way that we want our kids to follow.
Let Stuff Go
Do we have a roof over our head? Are the kids safe, healthy, and fed? Am I safe, healthy and fed? Ok. Then do I really need to draw out an epic battle with my husband over why his sleeping in on weekends is an affront to me, personally? Probably not. I’ve let that go. And if I am being totally honest, my husband has had to let even more annoying things about me go. This is the hard work and compromise that never feels fun but is so necessary in our marriage.
Marriage is hard for sure. And with kids in the mix, my husband and I have been blessed with the opportunity to realize that with an audience of tiny people comes a chance to act like the kinds of people we want our kids to be when they get older.