When I say argue, I don’t mean the ugly I-never-want-to-see-you-again variety. What I’m talking about is in the just-ask-for-directions category. I guess this amounts to a discussion rather than an argument? Do you think? I like to call it fight-fair. You see, my husband and I are so different, and not just in the gender department, so — ah — conversations are bound to happen. Here’s a very small snapshot:
My husband and I have talked about this and we figure it’s better to show the children that two peole who love each other, still have discussions rather than model a we-never-disagree persona.
As you see from the table above, I’m a risk taker. This can be a good thing and a bad thing. One Sunday morning, we bundled the children into the car to go to church. Blu (the husband) turned the key in the ignition. Nothing. With his hands resting on the steering wheel, he leaned forward slightly and turned his head to look at me. The car was out of petrol. Now you might say, “That’s an easy mistake to make.” Yes — true — but this was the 3rd time in a matter of 2 weeks that I had run out of petrol (I’m deadly serious). Blu was cross with me. On my part, I was SURE I could make that last leg — and of course the next one. This is the conversation we had while the children were sitting in the car.
Blu: It’s not good enough Kelly. You HAVE to fill the car with petrol when the orange light comes on.
Me:I know but I couldn’t stop on the way to school because I would have been late for the children. And then on the way home from school Cossie was crying and the thought of stopping for petrol was just too much. I only had to run out for milk yesterday and there was no petrol station nearby. I thought I would have enough… you know, for the next leg of the trip.
Blu: I’m not happy.
Me: I can see that.
Blu: What if next time you’re stuck somewhere on the road?
[Blu gets out of the car and just stands there.]
Me: Hon, look, I’m really sorry. Just take the other car to the petrol station and fill up the can and bring it back. It won’t take long.
Blu: I shouldn’t have to. Drives away.
Cossie: Is Daddy cross at you Mummy?
Me: Yes darling.
Scottie: Daddy shouldn’t be cross at you Mum.
Me: No, actually, he should. Daddy needs to get cross at Mummy sometimes. And Mummy needs to get cross at Daddy sometimes.
Flossie: I don’t like it when Daddy is cross at you Mum.
Me: I know baby but it’s like you and Scottie. When you are angry at each other, does that mean you don’t love each other?
Me: So it’s the same with Mummy and Daddy. Mummy didn’t do the best thing and Daddy is allowed to get cross at me sometimes. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me.
Son: Oh no. The car’s broken. Daddy will fix it.
Me: Yes mate, Dad will come back and fix the car.
[We wait. Blu comes back. He fills the car with petrol and gets back in the car.]
Blu: Sorry I flew off the handle darling. I know you, and love you. I acted like a boofhead.
Me: You have every right to be angry at me but thank you for understanding me. I love you.
Blu: [Laughs]. I do understand you. You drive me nuts but I love you.
Me: [I smile]
This conversation could have easily gone in a different direction.
1. Silent treatment
I can see it now, tension building. Oh fun. (Risk here of not growing and learning).
2. Blu saying, “We’re not going to church kids because your mother keeps forgetting things.”
Defaming and bringing the other down with words in front of the children. (Not a good course to take).
3. Me saying, “You don’t know what it is like being home with the children all the time.”
Tit for tat. Plus basically telling the children they are such a hassle. How sweet. (NOT!)
4. Blu saying, “That’s fine dear. No problem.”
While this might be a sweet approach, I probably wouldn’t have so much respect for my husband if he didn’t pull me up on anything. But then, if he was unkind and picked at everything I did, I probably wouldn’t respond well to that either.
5. Take it elsewhere
Many may think this a better course. I’m not sure if I agree. Sure, there are times we need to talk about things without the children being there (and we do) but discussion is big part of life in our house. We talk things through. We discuss. We work things out. We are all in this together.
We are coming up to our 11th year wedding anniversary and we’ve learnt, not only to discuss things, but to truly understand and love each other. It takes work though, and trust me, we are still learning. I didn’t analyse the above conversation at the time but now I’m reflecting, I can see four principals we may have taught the children.
People have differences and this is a normal part of a loving relationship.
When you stuff up, own up.
3. Unconditional Love
Blu could decide that he will stop loving me if run out of petrol again. HA! But no. He ended the conversation with a demonstration of unconditional love.
Reconciliation is so vital in a relationship. Not only for adults but for children too. I believe deep resentment grows when reconciliation is not administered after an argument or discipline.
Our family had a lovley day and the morning mishap was forgotten.
You know what? Blu now keeps a full can of petrol in the garage for the “next time” I’m sure I can do the last leg of a journey. Now that’s real love.
Is there a difference between arguing and discussing? Should healthy discussions be modeled? Some people may disagree with me here. I know many people believe all discussion should be done away from children but I tend to disagree. What do you think?
* I checked with my husband before I posted the conversation.
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Love this verse: “Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” Ephesians 4:26