To anyone who tells me that they would like an Alex in their life (it does happen, and yes, I know it's a joke!), I'm sorry to disappoint you: Alex isn't perfect.
He is a beautiful human being, I agree, he's so empathetic, he can observe and listen, he's wise and kind and understanding, but he's also often impatient (especially with me, which causes lots of arguments), he's not very good at communicating his emotions (another reason for great arguments), at times he lets his ego take control (especially when he feels criticized), he often expects people to do things the way he would (even the kids 😅) and I could go on…
We are a normal couple: we argue, even in front of the kids, sometimes we don't talk to each other for hours, sometimes we even yell at each other, sometimes we can't stand each other, sometimes we wish we could snap our fingers and remove ourselves from the room.
We are normal people with normal couple struggles (maybe even aggravated (?) by living — and now also partly working — together 24/7).
But in all these years of practice we have improved a lot at finding our own balance, at apologizing, at recognizing when we are wrong, at accepting mistakes, at taking a step towards each other, at carrying less grudges, at regaining harmony more quickly.
The sentences we use with children when we discuss
“They are just kids, they don't understand” is a mentality of the past. Children understand if we take the time to explain to them what they are seeing / hearing.
And often they also help us get back to priorities, like when we fight and they tell us to calm down: we have asked them to do so, because 1. It's never wrong to remind ourselves that we can CHOOSE to remain calm; and 2. Often a breath and a moment of silence help us put everything back into perspective. Or at least that's where we would like to get.
These are some of the sentences we use with the kids when we fight in front of them: of course, we try not to point fingers, not to blame each other and to make ourselves both responsible — an argument, like a relationship, is made up of two people: if we fight, we are both doing something wrong.
- “Mom and I are frustrated right now. Do you know when you want to explain something to me and you can't? That's how we're feeling right now".
- “Dad and I can't understand each other right now. Sometimes when people don't understand each other, they speak louder, even though they know it doesn't help at all”.
- "Mom and I can't agree on [this thing] and we are struggling to find a compromise".
- “Dad and I need a moment to talk to understand each other. Do you want to come on my lap and listen or do you prefer to go and play?”.
- “Dad is mad at me because I said a sentence that hurt his feelings. Now I'll calm down and then I'll apologize”.
- “Mom is mad at me because I did something that annoyed her. We will talk about it calmly and quietly after you go to bed”.
- “Dad and I are struggling to be together these days and we need to give each other some space. We will soon understand each other again”.
- “We yelled. That's not cool, is it? We too sometimes forget how to control our crocodiles when we are angry”.