Conflict between parents happens for lots of reasons. In the newborn stage it's usually because parents are reacting to the stress that normally occurs when we are going through an intense period of adjustment, combined with extreme sleep deprivation. First arguments are often about finances and work, housework and how to best settle a crying infant. In the next stage arguments are commonly about finances and work, housework and infant routines. In the toddler stage it is usually about (yes, you guessed it!) finances and work, housework and discipline issues (are you getting the drift!).
Repeated or intense conflict frightens children and affects their development. If you have trouble resolving problems between you - your disagreements turn into arguments that aren't resolved, you find yourself sweeping things under the carpet or hoping issues will go away by themselves, NOW is the time to seek help. The longer conflict goes on the more damage can be done to a family. There are many resources out there - books, DVD's, courses, counselling. They exist for a reason. The main one is that most of us don't go into relationships with the awareness and skills we need in order to sustain our relationship in the long term. This is not our fault and there is no reason to blame. We were not provided with relationship skills as part of our school education - we were just expected to somehow know this stuff, or pick it up along the way.
You will be confronted by a myriad of choices and decisions every day about the best way to raise your children. The trick is to approach these situations as a team. Recognise that these are new situations for you. You are not expected to know the answers straight away. Be prepared to learn as you go. Be willing to try new things, to change your mind, to see what does and doesn't work. Discuss with your partner how you feel and what you think along the way. Agree to compromise where you can, or agree to disagree, but know that each opinion is of value, even if they are in conflict.
Try to see your partner's point of view always - their point of view is equally as important as yours as far as your children are concerned. When you are working as a team - everything becomes easier.
- Remember, you are on the same side. You are both working towards the success of your family and working on behalf of your child
- Some days you will be more tired than others. Let your partner know when you're not up to discussing things but make sure you go back to the issue when you're feeling up to it
- Try not to be a perfectionist. If it doesn't happen right the first time, don't worry. Be patient and be prepared to try again.
- Make an agreement to be kind to each other. If you allow your partner to make mistakes, you can expect that they will allow you to make mistakes, too.
- Apologise to your partner if you say something hurtful. It shows self-respect, respect for them and respect for your family.