How to handle arguments as new parents
Tips you need for handling arguments as new parents
You might hear some people claim they’ve never had an argument with their partner. If that were true it probably means either one of them is suppressing their feelings and opinions or they’re lying!
The fact is that since you can’t read each other’s minds and you are individuals, with thoughts and needs of your own, there is bound to be times when you disagree. It’s not THAT you argue that shows your relationship is in trouble or that is damaging, it’s HOW you argue. And arguing badly not only harms your relationship but can in damage your children, even when they are too young to understand what is going on.
What do we mean by bad arguing? There are two main problems. One is when you go round and round, having the same spat time after time. This shows neither of you are listening to the other and you are never resolving that row, never finding a solution. The other problem is when you shout about one thing – “You always leave clothes on the floor!” “You never wash up” – when the real reason you’re angry is another - “You don’t tell me that you love me anymore!”
When you realise you are doing either of these, count to ten (at least!). Ask to talk this over later when both of you are calm and ready to find a solution. Then consider carefully what it is you really want to say. Are your complaints because you don’t feel heard? Or is it that you’re angry about something you’re finding it hard to put into words? Offer to talk with your partner with the Two minute Rule.
The Two Minute Rule works like this. Agree that each of you will have two minutes to put your case to the other. One person speaks uninterrupted. The other listens and cannot speak – they can only make the sort of “Uh hu” noises that encourage the other to have their say and to show they are being attentive. You can go one step further and try “Reflective Listening” which is when the listener feeds back what they have heard; “If I have this right what you are saying is…”.
Destructive arguing is when you throw insults, refuse to talk, walk away and slam doors or even bring the children into your rows. On the other hand, you can begin with raised voices and anger but if it converts into two people listening to each other and coming to agreement or negotiation, you have positive communication. Children, and you, are harmed by endless unresolved rows. When both of you can talk it through even when you start from wildly different places and reach some sort of settlement, both of you feel acknowledged and accepted. And your children see that arguments can lead to constructive ends.
If you find it hard to move from shouting and being at odds to talking things through, the best thing you can do is ask for help. Charities www.familylives.org.uk and www.oneplusone.org.uk can help you learn the skills and communicate better.
Bounty “Sex & Relationship” articles are written by expert Suzie Hayman. Suzie is agony aunt for Woman magazine, a Relate trained counsellor, and an accredited TripleP (Positive Parenting Programme) parenting educator. She makes frequent appearances on TV and radio and as well as writing 31 books, Suzie writes features on parenting, relationships, sex and couples counselling, for a wide range of national magazines and newspapers