There are a few fights that I just can’t seem to forget from the last 8 years SBMOG (sexy, beard-sporting, man of God) and I have been together.
First, there’s what I refer to as “The Pepper Incident” where I was trying a sweet red pepper for the first time in my LIFE at age 21 and asked about a million questions (Is it spicy? How spicy is it? I heard the seeds are spicy. There’s a seed on this piece. Should I wipe it off? But then will there be spiciness on my hand? Am I going to get sick? and so on…) until he snapped at me. I snapped back at him.
Then, there’s the argument where I have no idea what we were arguing about but I do remember SBMOG saying that I couldn’t just yell everything I felt, say sorry, and everything would be better. We would have to learn how to communicate and be on the same team. For some reason this was just eye-opening to me as if no one had ever thought to tell me this before and I thought “WOW! Isn’t he just amazing?!”
Those fights were years ago, but just so you know, we have our fair share of conflict now too. Conflict is inevitable in two people. Our pasts experience, feelings, opinions, and perspectives all lend to conflict.
So often conflict is a dirty word. We avoid conflict and confrontation. We try not to offend anyone and fly under the radar. Or we crush those who dare to disagree with us into a blabbering pulp. Maybe both. (Lysa TerKeurst talks about two more ways in Unglued but I can’t remember them because *ahem* I mostly relate to these two.)
Here’s the thing – my husband and I are not always going to agree. It would be boring if we did. So we have to learn how to have healthy conflict.
And with three little kids, the reality of parenting 24/7, plus running businesses and a home, it’s so important that we do conflict well. Our kids are watching us, getting their cues for the state of our family from our interactions. Not only that, we’re business partners. We have to have conflict well to continue to feed our family. And, at the end of the day, doing conflict well is a great chance for us exemplify being patient, kind, not prideful, not envying, and more.
So what do we need to remember when we’re having a fight and we have little kids?
7 Things to Remember When You Fight and Have Little Kids
- Goodwill hunting. I can choose to believe that my husband has general goodwill towards me. Just like I have general goodwill towards him. He may something that’s insensitive or hurtful. He may act or choose to be inactive in a way that makes me batty. But I can choose to step back and see the goodwill, even in those situations.
- If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all. Don’t belittle or berate one another. It doesn’t get the conflict closer to having a resolution and merely leaves hurtful interior scars.
- But don’t clam up for days, either. When I’m mad, it’s so easy for me to cold shoulder. Recently, I’ve started asking questions. Questions about anything. Just to get us talking. It makes me remember that, see, we like each other, there is goodwill, and we can have a nice conversation.
- Know your love language. If you don’t know it, go now, take the assessment and find out what it is. Then use it. My husband’s is acts of service so when I’m mad or he’s mad, I try to find nice things to do for him. Mine is physical touch, so when I’m mad, I’ve asked him to intentionally touch me when we’re in a room together.
- Get some sleep. Sleep deprivation makes EVERYTHING seem worse than it is. If something seems big, get some rest, see if it’s still huge then approach it.
- Put it on the calendar. Let’s face it – sometimes we don’t get to have a conversation from start to finish in one day. It just doesn’t happen. If you can’t finish discussing something important, schedule a time to finish up.
- Don’t hide. Watching you is how kids will learn how to handle conflict. I’m not saying to have a knock-down drag-out in front of your kids, but it’s ok for them to here you discussing your differences of opinion in kind and respectful ways. And it’s really great for them to hear you say “I’m sorry” to one another and to kiss or be affectionate after conflict.
What are you tips for dealing with conflict when you have kids? I’d love to hear your recommendations in the comments!
I’d say it’s critical especially in front of the kids to apologize/confess well and to speak words of forgiveness. Too few of us know how to do this. We just brush things off and say “it’s okay” instead of one saying “I’m sorry. What I did was wrong because it hurt you. I don’t want to do that again. Please forgive me?” and the other saying “I forgive you.”
Kimber, GREAT advice. Maybe I’ll have to (once again) edit an article from your suggestion. Glad I have you.