It’s simply bound to happen when you live with someone in such close proximity for such an extended period of time. Especially when you are trying to work together to make the best life for you and your children.
Some arguments may be legitimate, like how to best care for your sick child. Or the disagreements may just be blowing off steam because you are stressed and frustrated from being a parent, spouse, and an adult.
But whatever the reason, arguing is actually healthy for your relationship. Couples reportedly stay together longer if they use arguments to open the lines of communication. A survey in India (that has been reinforced by U.S. studies) showed that nearly half of couples felt that arguing once a week strengthened their relationship. It doesn’t mean that you should pick fights just for the heck of it, but airing out your feelings can be beneficial for both of you.
However, when there are little ones around you need to take them into consideration when things get heated. For a long time, the common wisdom was to not argue in front of the children. Then it was to argue occasionally in front of the kids to show them that everyone disagrees sometimes, but then exchange apologies with your significant other at the end.
So which of these models is better for the kids?
It really depends on how you argue.
If you disagree in a constructive way, keep things calm, and focus on a resolution, the arguments will have virtually no negative effect on your children. In fact, you can turn it into a learning experience.
Very young children may have questions later about why they were “angry” with each other. Explain that Moms and Dads sometimes have different ideas and it’s good to talk it out. Discuss “using your words” when you don’t agree with someone.
On the other hand, if you argue by criticizing, yelling, and (hopefully not) violence, keep it away from the kids. In a recent study, it was shown that children whose parents often fought in a loud or aggressive way were (not surprisingly) more likely to feel insecure or unsafe. After often hearing angry tones of voices, kids will become anxious when they hear those tones later even in adulthood.
If you feel the disagreement beginning to get out of control, call a “time out” for you both and agree to wait to hash things out after the kids are in a place where they cannot hear you.
This does not however mean after they are asleep but are still within earshot. Another study showed that infants who were deeply asleep still had troubling brain wave patterns when they heard an angry voice. Scientists think that there may be long-lasting effects from this. So, keep the angry voices far away from even sleeping kiddos.
Arguing with your significant other is not only normal but also healthy. Just try to keep the kids in mind when you start to disagree. It can mean the difference between a learning experience and them feeling insecure later in life.