This important piece of marriage advice on the topic of how to stop fighting in front of the kids, is a critical one and should be implemented the minute you finish reading this page! It can be very difficult to stop fighting in front of the kids especially if you are divorced with kids. But research has shown time and time again that kids feel scared and unsafe when they see you “out of control”.
First things first. If you need to talk about the issue immediately, try to go into another room with each other or away from the kids, especially if it is a heated issue.
If you’re divorced with kids, no doubt you have a lot to fight about. But you must stop.
Learn how to talk to each other– Disagreeing in front of your kids, even if you are divorced, can be a powerful tool for modeling how to deal with differences. Learn how to listen without getting reactive. If you are on the receiving end of the barrage, be the strong one and try not to react. Mirroring by repeating back what your spouse is sharing without responding will help calm you down and let the other feel heard. This skill seems simple, but mirroring is an extremely useful exercise that we teach all of our couples in our marriage counseling practice as well as in our self guided online marriage counseling program.
Hold Your Fire – If you don’t think you can talk about the disagreement in a productive way or you can’t get away from the kids, hold your fire. Make a time later, when they are not around, to have the discussion. While ideally you’ll want to learn how to work through your differences in a more connected way, if you aren’t there yet, try at least to find a time where your kids don’t bear the brunt of your frustration.
The wrong kind of marriage advice.
What about walking away from each other? Or Leaving? Running away or leaving is not good modeling for the children as it teaches them that when the going gets rough, instead of dealing with the issues, it’s easier to run away.
Some of our readers have shared their own marriage advice on how they manage their disagreements in front of their little ones:
“The moment we recognize a disagreement we run for the bathroom (and close the door) to discuss. Usually one of us will say “can I talk to you over here for just a quick minute?” It has helped with not allowing our kids to see a division in the way we manage our family.”
“My husband and I have learned to talk about our issues. To our kids, it’s like we are having a regular conversation when in actuality we really want to choke each other. It took years of practice to get to this level, let me tell you!”
We’d like you to get to the point where you can have a safe discussion with your partner or even your ex, and the way we recommend doing this is through the safety of the Imago dialogue. Contact us to schedule your own marriage counseling session so that you can experience the power of getting your wants and needs met without terrible conflict, even in cases of being divorced with kids.
With best wishes for your relationship success,
Shlomo and Rivka Slatkin