My husband and I have been together for 14+ years, married for nearly a decade. We’ve had our highs and lows, with the lows never being particularly low. We love each other and are both committed to our family. We bicker sometimes and fight on occasion, but we rarely have a big fight and we never fight in front of our kids.
So it came as a shock to me when my then 6 year old son asked if we were getting a divorce.
“Why do you ask?” I said trying to remain calm.
My son’s reply shocked me. “Because you and daddy fight all the time.”
I’ve replayed the conversation in my head over and over, searching to find the fights that have led my son to this comment. And while I want to take his comments with a grain of 6-year-old, I can’t get them out of my head. When my husband and I talked about it later, we scratched our heads and were unable to recall the fights our son referred to. We came up empty. “We never fight,” my husband said.
But as I replayed the conversation again and again I realised that to my son our “bickering” is fighting. And maybe we’re doing more than just bickering. Just because we don’t yell or scream at one another, doesn’t mean we don’t have tension. Our son clearly senses that tension and thinks that’s cause for alarm.
For the next few days, I tried to objectively observe how my husband and I interacted and how we could do better. I noticed how often we disagree about a choice the other has made in relation to the kids and how often we disagreed about the kids in front of the kids. I noticed how often one or both of us let stress that’s totally unrelated to the other seep into conversations and how our fuses were short when we were tired or overworked. The more I tried to observe without judgment, there more I saw how our young son jumped to the conclusion that we weren’t happy. So I’ve adopted a few strategies to ease the tension in the house.
1. I don’t disagree with a choice my husband has made in relation to the kids in front of the kids.
2. If I sense my husband is in a bad mood or just plain worn out from a long day, I table any serious discussions for another time and ask he do the same for me.
3. If I’m in a bad mood, I take a little “me” time. Kids aren’t the only ones who need a time out.
4. I apologise if I’m short tempered. Mums are human too. And we’re all allowed a bad mood every now and again.
5. I try not to sell my husband short in front of the kids. I want to be appreciated and I know my husband does, too. So I’m going out of my way to say please and thank you — and I ask the kids to do the same.
6. I’m letting things go! Sometimes a mum’s desire to do the best job for her kids can be interpreted by her husband as nagging and micromanaging. So I’m lightening up. The kids had Cheetos for breakfast? It’s not the end of the world. No need to make it the end of my marriage.
Truth be told, we’re all a little happier with a little less tension in the house. And in case you’re wondering Cheetos might not be healthy, but they are delicious (even in the morning!).
More relationship advice:
- 5 Ways to Be Good Friends (& Co-Parent) with Your Ex
- 15 Lessons I Want to Teach My Daughter About Having Girlfriends
- Making Friends with Epic B*tches (& Ditching Basic Ones)