My husband and I got into an argument the other night.
It wasn’t a big deal. We didn’t yell or scream or call each other names.
But we raised our voices slightly and showed irritation with each other. That happens sometimes. We’re human.
Our 3-year-old daughter was sitting with us. She didn’t like what she heard.
I looked at her and could see the sad look on her face. Then, she started to cry.
It broke my heart. My husband hugged her. Then I did. I asked her if we were too loud. She nodded her head. I told her I was sorry. Then I cried, too.
I explained to her that daddy and I argue sometimes, but we weren’t mad at her. I told her daddy and I love each other and that it was OK. Then Jay and I kissed and made up.
It makes me feel badly to write this. Acknowledging that I made my child cry is difficult. So is acknowledging that I argue with my husband, sometimes in front of her.
But it happens sometimes. Fortunately for us, it doesn’t happen often and for the most part, our arguments are civil and respectful.
My instinct is to vow that I never want to argue again, especially in front of our daughter.
But I know that’s unrealistic. Everyone gets in disagreements sometimes. If you didn’t, that could be a sign of bigger problems: holding everything in until resentment builds up and a wedge forms between you.
It reminds me of a fascinating story I heard on the radio years ago. It was about research on couples who stayed together versus those who didn’t.
The findings were somewhat surprising to me: Couples who argued tended to stay together. Couples who didn’t tended to separate.
But there was one key caveat about the couples who argued: Those who resolved their disagreements were happier and more successful than couples who argued and never got anywhere. Resolving the argument was critical.
The research also showed that it was important for children to see their parents resolve the argument. They need to know that disagreements can lead to a happy, or at least satisfactory, conclusion.
So when Jay and I argue, that’s what I keep in mind. I want Julia to see that although we don’t always agree, we can find common ground and kiss and make up.