Are Weekly Arguments Normal in a Marriage with Children?

Updated on September 15, 2010
J.R. asks from Washington, DC
16 answers

Dear Mommas, My husband and I are working on our relationship and are in counseling. Once a week or every two weeks we will have an argument. My husband has issues with his temper, and when he gets angry he yells and says unpleasant things, including in front of our 2 year old. On my part, I can be a perfectionist and critical, but am working on it, and try not to do anything unloviing toward my husband in front of our child.

Do most marriages go through such things? Do even good people fight in front of their children?

I ask, as I did not have a role model of a healthy marriage from my parents. Most of my friends all want for me to try to work things out with my husband but of course will support any decision I make. I just want to do the best for me and my son. I do not want my son to experience tension in the house or his father speak not nicely to his mother. but maybe this happens even in good families? I don't know.

any thoughts?

Thank you as usual. Jilly

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So What Happened?

Dear Mommas, Wow! Thank you so much for all of your thoughtful, informative, insightful responses. I have learned a great deal already from your shared wisdom and feel energized to continue on our path, and yet to try new behaviors (and get rid of some of the old).

Blessings to all.

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answers from Atlanta on

My husband and I don't fight - there is never yelling and especially never unpleasant things said. We have disagreements and we will disagree in front of the kids (kids need to see that real life does not mirror a 1960's tv type family and different opinions are not a bad thing). The disagreements are discussed/argued over in a constructive way without yelling, name calling, or derrogative statements and usually a solution is reached. I think MIL would strangle him herself if she ever head of him being anything other than respectful to his wife and family.

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answers from Honolulu on

When first married, me and Hubby did that to a certain extent. We had very.... emphatic fights and conflicts.
We did counseling too. Not much help.
NO fighting, is NOT good for the kids. Any kid.
My Daughter, got affected by our fighting. I am not proud of that.

I have now been married 13 years... and for the most part... we 'matured' and grew up.
My Hubby had a temper too... which, on his own and my demanding it... he has improved. Mostly also because, HE wants to improve, himself.

It you are a 'perfectionist' and 'critical' (which my Husband is and was)..... it makes it REAL REAL hard, on the other Spouse... and they shut-down. I know, because I was on the other end.... and that is what I did. Then the person on the end of a perfectionist/critical person... gets real angry and it paralyzes them... because then NOTHING is ever good enough... for the other Spouse. It is REAL hard.
So, YOU have to work on yourself too.... self-improvement. Otherwise, it will affect your Husband further and your kids.
It is hard... being around a "perfectionist" and a 'critical" one at that.
AND... it takes a LONG time, for the other Spouse to then "trust" the Perfectionist/Critical Spouse... and to feel that they are NOT walking on "egg-shells" constantly.
It takes time... because the "legacy" you have instilled in your Spouse (ie: that you are perfectionist and critical) takes UNlearning that response.... and then being able to 'trust' that that person, will not be that way.

My sibling is like that too.. perfectionist and critical.... and it is nearly impossible, to please her.
Because nothing, is ever, good enough.

I am not dissing you... but just explaining what it is like, for the other person/Spouse... who is at the short end, of the stick.

It is workable... but you both need to work on self-improvement... NOT just pointing blame and irritations on each other. SELF-Improvement.
AND... especially if you do NOT want it to affect, your child.
THAT has to impact both you and your Husband. Or, your child will grow up learning Dysfunctional ways of socializing.

all the best,

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answers from Seattle on

I wish that when we became parents all of our former issues were just ironed out automatically. Unfortunately, we remain human and must work to grow and develop. Our relationships too must evolve as, as individuals, we are working on ourselves. Our relationships become great inspirations/triggers to do this work. In an ideal world we would all model perfect ways of dealing with our emotions for and with our children at all times. In a realistic world we get to mess up sometimes, own it and show our children that through progress, not perfection, we are becoming "better" people. That way, they will have a model for self improvement, which everyone can use. When I show emotions in a way that I am not proud of, or my partner and I have an argument in front of the kids, I make a point of resolving it in front of them as well. I also say things like, I felt really angry and I showed that by raising my voice. That wasn't okay because Daddy felt sad when I yelled. I am really, really sorry for yelling Daddy and I am going to work on not doing that anymore. I am also sorry kids that I yelled in front of you. It's okay to feel angry, but it's not okay to yell when we feel angry. Instead we have to learn to use our words, Etc. Good luck and don't beat yourself up.

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answers from Williamsport on

You guys need to exercise self control. I FEEL LIKE yelling at my husband about 70 times per week, and vice versa, but we rarely fight in front of the kids and no disrespect is allowed. We fight sometimes, so as not to be fake aliens, but again, it's rare. Because we have made the choice to control ourselves for the kids. The same way people control themselves around others. Manners and respect shouldn't go out the window because you're home together. Work on not doing this so much or your 2 year old will grow to think someone verbally abusive to them is OK for a spouse.

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answers from Boise on

You are normal. Embrace that you are both trying to be better people. There is no such thing as a good marriage where the partners didn't work super hard to make it that way. Focus on all the positives about your husband every day. Focus on all the positives about you. Sometimes, people who are perfectionists and overly critical need to let go of criticizing themselves so much too. You need to practice patting yourself on the back and your husband. Your husband and you will never be perfect. You don't have to be. Just be grateful that you are such a good person that you are trying, and that your husband is so good to you that he is trying. I am proud of you two for not giving up and walking away.

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answers from New York on

Everyone disagrees sometimes. Marriage counseling is supposed to help you get through the disagreements without being hurtful and disrespectful to one another. But it can take a while to get there. Conventional wisdom says don't argue in front of the kids. But research actually shows if you argue and then resolve the argument in front of the kid(s) then they learn how to resolve arguments. If things are getting really nasty and hurtful or your child seems stressed when you argue then try and do it privately since 2 is too young understand.

On the other hand my parents have been together for 40+ years and still argue. Actually by the time I was a teenager I realized they were just rehashing several of the same old arguments. They eventually resolved some stuff in counseling but they may be still arguing about some of the same stuff (I moved out long since). My husband's parents, also married 40+ years, argue a lot less but my MIL just makes most of the decisions. My husband and I are somewhere in between. I'm more of a yeller but I try to put it aside and resolve things promptly and not be hurtful. It mostly works for us.

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answers from New York on

All marraiges have their ups and downs and share of fights, agruments, disagreements and spats. I can honestly say that my husband and I rarely fight or argue. We do however have our share of spats where we say things we shouldn't, nothing really bad, just not nice. Most of these just kind of happen on the spot, but whenever possible we try to avoid it in front of the kids.

I would say that arguing every week or two where yelling occurs is NOT "normal", but nobody's perfect. I'm glad to hear your working through your differences. Hang in there.

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answers from St. Louis on

Fighting in a marriage is healthy, it just depend on how often you fight and if you fight fair. ANY one that says they never fight with a spouse is full of it. My husband and I have a good strong healthy relationship with each other. That being said we also fight fair and try our hardest to not fight in front of the kids. In our situation I am the one with the bad temper, but I have learned over my years that it is best for me to walk away and say we will discuss this later. Once I have had a chance to cool down I usually have a more clear head and can actually listen to what he has to say.

For people who do have anger problems I can say that it is really hard to control our temper, but it is doable. I would say to work the hardest to not fight in front of the kids. It sounds like you don't fight often enough to consider a divorce yet. I bet if you are both working on yourself it sounds like you both want the marriage to work. I wish you the very best and keep working on it.

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answers from San Francisco on

Yelling and saying nasty things in front of your two year old is harmful. Your husband needs to learn to contain himself.

Yes, we've fought in front of the children in later years, and it's not good, but we really tried to avoid it when they were little especially. I'm sure it's more "normal" that a lot of people will admit, but it's definitely a no no.

p.s. - I remember having an argument with my ex when my oldest wasn't even a year old yet, and my baby kept saying "no, no!," and he barely knew any words. That's how traumatic it is for them to hear their parents fight. And once a week in front of them is way too much.

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answers from Tampa on

We all have times in our marriages that things seem so draining and it feels like you fight on a regular basis. Remember this - anything worth fighting for TAKES WORK and GIVING ON BOTH PARTS. What you need to do is spend more time alone with each other - find someone to take your toddler for a couple of hours and go on a date with each other once a week. AND you need to lower your expectations of your hubby - he is not superman and you should NOT expect him to be. Take your perfectionist gene and get rid of it because men and humans in general are NOT perfect and you need to learn to relax and stop putting such pressure on yourself and those around you Your son IS picking up on the tension and ask yourself something BEFORE you open your mouth and react "Is this really worth putting energy in to fight about?" Then stand back for a second and see if it's your husband being tired or frustrated or is it you asking too much for something or some reason? Is what you're about to argue about REALLY worth it? Is it because you or he has the NEED to be RIGHT? learn to be wise and choose your battles wisely. You married him because you love him right? Then let him be HIM and YOU need to be the one who makes the change to make things in your house on a steady plane. MOM sets the tone in the house - what tone are you striving to set daily?

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answers from Boca Raton on

I'm going through a very similiar situation and here is my advice or point of view. My husband is the father of my child and therefore I owe it to her to make every attempt at getting us both as healthy as possible. If I just left him, he would probably not continue going to counceling and getting help for his issues, and therefore she would be subject to his anger and issues for her entire lifetime. So we are working on things together. That being said, I have put up safeguards in place to ensure the safety and wellbeing of our children. (we have only 1 together but 4 altogether). If I see that he is starting to get ugly in front of, or towards the kids, I ask him to step outside with me. He knows that this means I will be asking him to leave for a few hours to take some time to calm down and reflect. He also knows that if he makes it any worse or argues, he is out for the entire night as well. And because he truly does want our marriage to work and he knows he does truly have some issues, this method is working for us. He has never been physically violent with us so that is not a concern. If it is for you, I would not have him in the home at all. I wish you the best of luck. Marriage is not easy. **hugs**

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answers from Tampa on

Well my opinion is this...when I was growing up my parents never fought in front of us and when they got a divorce when I was 13 I was devestated (sp?) My brother even stopped believing in God because of it. So I have a wayyyyy different take. My husband and are happily married for a year and a half however we have 2 kids 17 and 10 both his so we have actually been together for quit sometime. What I am trying to say is no such thing as a marriage with no fights and when we argue we do it in front of our kids. We are also very close and open with our kids and each other so if there are any questions or one of us mistreat the other I do talk about it with the kids. Now a 2yr old...hmmmm
Well we have never kept anything from them but if they looked concerned at that age I would just give them lots of positive attention until he asks questions. Again I am happily married and would do anything for my husband we do argue and it gets pretty fierce at times, but you know what we work through it.
At any rate Your happiness is the key...if your not happy with you you will never be happy with him.

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answers from Cincinnati on

Do fights happen in good families? Absolutely. Do they happen every week or two? No, that's not good, unless you are both just people who enjoy a good fight (I hate fighting, personally). Of course there are always irritations and even mild arguments, and I couldn't tell you how often those happen, really, but true fights with yelling and such do not happen that often in our family - only a couple of times a year. However, name calling is a big problem. I would never tolerate anyone calling me a name, certainly not my husband, and absolutely never in front of my child. I hope when your husband says "unpleasant things," they are not personal attacks on you, because that is not fighting fair and needs to be addressed with your counselor.

Do we occasionally fight in front of the kids? We try very hard not to, but I can remember at least twice when we did last year. I wish it hadn't happened and we both try to avoid it, but when we're angry enough to really fight, it can be hard to put it off until the kids are in bed or whatever. In general, though, one of us tries to shut the other down by saying over and over again, "I'm not going to fight about this with you in front of the kids. I'm not going to fight about this with you in front of the kids." This can be irritating to the other person, of course, but at least the fight doesn't go anywhere. I wish you the best of luck in your marriage, and I'm glad you're seeking help.

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answers from Tampa on

Jilly, once a week or every two weeks you have an argument. Bravo!!! I don't think that is bad.

My husband and I went through a period where there was an argument every day - then a period when he would make me cry every day. We are through it now - except for last night when he couldn't tell me when he was coming home. Uh, hello? It's common courtesy and respectful. My point is, it's a phase I think.

We moms know what it is like adjusting to our little one and trying to keep up with the developments that they quickly transition through. I think the dads worry about different things: money, job, stability, and not loosing that sliver of youth that seems to be slipping away as their child grows. I've spoken to other friends and they have had the same argument problems as everyone in the house adapts to the expanding family. Hang in there.

Make sure that you have couple time each day. We started giving ourselves one hour together as soon as we put our daughter down to sleep. Sometimes we have dinner together as a couple, or turn the tv off just to catch up on each others day, or curl up with popcorn and a movie. It makes my husband feel like he is getting his attention too.

Keep up the marriage counseling. It helps. When we went, it helped me really understand my husbands feelings. Because there was a mediator, we couldn't go off on a tangent and loose our point.

Good Luck

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answers from Mayaguez on

Yes, all couples have arguments. I think they are even necessary. Try to set some rules about arguing, like no screaming at each other and treating each other with respect. An argument need not escalate into these areas. Wait for the right time to discuss this with your husband, not in the middle of a battle. You each have to work on your faults before you try to fix the other's. Don't ask perfection from others. You are not, and neither is anyone. Also LEARN how to argue--don't bring out 10 things you don't agree on. Try negotiating.



answers from Tampa on

Yes, it is very normal. It took my husband and I 10 years to work a lot fo things out. We still argue, but we have found more common ground tow ork on the things we disagree on. Yes, we have fought in front of our childen, not proud of it, but it happens and you work on it and try to get better each day. Don't give up, marriage is extremely hard work, but from one at 15 years, it is well worth it. And no matter how great a husband is, it always going to take work just sometimes in different ways. I hope this helps.

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