My husband of nine years and I love each other. But we argue a lot. Whether about small things or huge disagreements, we both fight to the end.
He’s never hit me. I pushed him once and he stopped cold, saying “we both never want to go that route.” So, I don’t fear him, but I know these arguments aren’t doing either of us or our kids any good.
It’s like we can’t stop. He’ll say something and I’ll snap back that it’s a bad idea, or his information is wrong, ...etc.
We both grew up in families like this. It was my father who was always right and my mother who went silent, visibly angry for hours afterward.
His mother was a shouter at the kids and her husband, and “always right.”
We realize that we’ve inherited the behaviour we once hated in our parents. We also don’t want to pass it on to our own kids. Our six-year-old already hides under his bed if we’re talking loud and angrily. His younger sister just cries.
But we haven’t been able to stop it. What do you advise?
Tired of Fighting
Rise above your parents’ examples. You’re already aware of their negative effect - emotionally tiring, energy-depleting, mind-numbing.
Your children’s reaction to hide/disengage from you both, should be strong motivation.
Don’t try to do it alone, as it’ll only divide you further on who’s “right” about the approach to take or who’s to blame.
Get a fresh start by finding the voice of a professional, experienced counsellor to guide you.
Readers of this column have already been introduced by me to the works of some current leaders in this field, but I assure you I have nothing to gain from mentioning one or two again.
Here’s a quote from renowned family therapist Terry Real that seems appropriate for you two: “Family pathology rolls from generation to generation like a fire in the woods taking down everything in its path until one person, in one generation, has the courage to turn and face the flames. That person brings peace to his ancestors and spares the children that follow.”
You can find more that hits home plus practical direction from Real online: through Audio books, podcasts, YouTube appearances, etc.
You can also search in your area and affordability level for an online marriage counsellor with experience in Real’s teachings, and with expertise and success in anger management.
I worry about being back in the depressing lockdowns to control COVID-19 surges and the anxious wait-time till enough of us get vaccinated. How do we hold it together until that unknowable time - I’ve heard reference to next summer, or even fall - and will the “new normal” be what we knew before Covid?
Back to the Unknowable
You’ve held on so far, survived the previous lockdown, learned to accept wearing a mask and practicing diligent hand-washing and sanitizing measures.
You’re a survivor. Try to keep up the ways that have kept you going...whether it’s binging on Netflix series and movies, reading books you missed when first published, communicating online with family and friends, etc.
If you have time and wherewithal to help others, create a project with people you know: e.g., dropping off groceries to a food bank or to people living on their own. In many households, where the pandemic has caused businesses closures and unemployment, that’s the essential need.
Everyone’s trying to survive. You can help, while getting through this.
I met a guy at my grandparents’ cottage last summer. I was isolating there after a move back home from a London-based job. He lives/works in the countryside year-round.
Now I’m living in the city working from my own apartment while he’s still there. We’ve both stated love and wanting a future together.
But we need the opportunity to explore if we’re ready for a long-term commitment. How should we proceed?
Invite him to visit you (with an isolation period at both ends of his stay) provided there’s no lockdown then. He needs to know your environment, since you know his.
Then, if you both feel committed, get together whenever possible. Since you can work from home, it may be easier for you to move to his location. You’ll soon know if it works or another arrangement is needed.
Eventually, you may have to decide where you’ll settle together permanently (e.g., if you want children).
Tip of the day:
Stop fighting, learn to communicate, show your children a better way.