Last week, I was piddling around on Yahoo Voices to see what types of content they offer. As I was playing with various category searches, I found an excellent article by columnist Steve Helmer, called “4 Ways We Keep Disagreements Over Our Kids From Becoming Arguments.” It is such a well-written article and it’s unusual to find these types of articles written by married couples or spouses as opposed to marriage counselors or other relationship experts. We think it’s always good to hear from real-life couples with solutions to real-life issues, large or small. After all, it’s couples themselves who build and maintain happy marriages.
Steve offers these four tips for keeping disagreements about the kids from leaching into your romantic life:
1. Agree that both of you have to say “yes.”
We think this is a great rule. It builds respect into every discussion, from whether or not your daughter is old enough to date to whether your son can have a sleepover tomorrow. Steve says,
The purpose of the rule is to recognize we both have a say in how our kids are raised. Even though it doesn’t necessarily solve the issue, the mutual respect we show each other as part of this rule does help keep things from going too far.”
2. No yelling allowed.
Helmer admits that this one is sometimes difficult to follow, but says that he and his wife also have an agreement that if things get too fired up, they will both take a break and come back to the discussion later.
This not only keeps us from fighting in front of the kids, it keeps us from saying something or doing something that would prevent a solution.”
We really like that point.
3. Focus on the kids, not the marriage.
Helmer says that he learned this one by watching other parents start a discussion about the kids only to have it devolve into an argument about each other. As he says, this can really derail not only the discussion at hand but also your relationship. A simple conversation about your daughter’s new boyfriend shouldn’t become a fight about your spouse forgetting to take out the trash or your tendency to nag.
We avoid that by purposely focusing on what we are disagreeing about and what is best for our daughters and saving the marital battles for a different time.”
4. Always look for a compromise that works for both of you.
Helmer recounts that he and his wife argued for days about whether their 3 year-old daughter should get her ears pierced. He wanted to wait and his wife wanted to do it. They finally agreed to do it when the little girl asked for it, which ended up being two years later.
Now, we no longer argue about who is right and who is wrong and, instead, just look for a compromise we both can agree to. And, as a result of this, we are able to come to agreements much quicker.”
Sometimes the best advice comes from couples themselves, not the people who get paid to give it!