My husband and I love each other, but we get into huge fights over everything. How can we stop? Ask Ellie

2021-01-15 03:09:14

Stop fighting, learn to communicate, show your children a better way, writes advice columnist Ellie.

Q: 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.

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 was “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?

A: 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 and 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.

Start now.

Q: 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?

A: You’ve held on so far, survived the previous lockdown, learned to accept wearing a mask and practicing diligent handwashing and sanitizing measures.

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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.

Ellie’s tip of the day

Stop fighting, learn to communicate, show your children a better way.