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How to argue in front of your kids

I am not ashamed to admit that I got into a fight with my wife recently. In fact, we fight daily. In front of the children. I know, you think we are horrible. But we’re not, and I have the research to back it up. 

Leading marriage expert and clinical psychologist, John Gottman, has a lot to say about marital conflict in his landmark book, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work. His research has shown time and time again that, “Despite what many therapists will tell you, you don’t have to resolve your major marital conflicts for your marriage to thrive.” My wife and I are not unique and neither are you if you find yourself at odds with each other on a regular basis.  

The issue in marital conflict and arguments is not primarily about resolving the disagreement. Rather, it’s about realizing that conflict is an inevitable and a healthy part of relationships. Fighting with your spouse can even be a springboard to happiness if you think about it correctly. 

Gottman’s research shows clearly that there are only two types of marital conflict: resolvable and perpetual. Some things you will never resolve but you can die trying. Good luck. Some things you will resolve but it take a few rounds of verbal sparring. Have at it. Gottman concluded in his research that the happiest and longest-lasting couples weren’t the ones that didn’t fight or rarely fought, but the ones who had a good sense of humor and perspective about their differences. If you and your spouse can laugh at the husband and wife memes you see on Facebook and wink at one another or stick your tongue out, you’re in good shape.   

Don’t get me wrong. I am not suggesting that you should strive to remain in conflict with your spouse and just throw your hands up, shrug your shoulders, and say with the masses, “Que Sera Sera.” I am saying that you both need to speak up and hash things out often. And if you can keep a sense of humor about it and turn towards each other at the end of the night, well done. 

Your children will learn by example that healthy marriages — and healthy relationships in general —  don’t have to be a conflict-free and they will thank you down the road for living openly and honestly before them. 

Besides, they can hear you in your room anyway and they are intuitive little munchkins. 

Laura Ann PoehnerComment