My husband and I have very distinct fighting styles. For the most part we natter and bicker more than fight, but when we do actually go into battle we both have our go to weapons of choice: I freak out, want to talk it out** and then I eventually get over it, while he gets sulky, doesn't want to talk or if he gets really angry he just agrees with everything I say, which turns up my rage dial to a solid 10. In our 8 plus years together this has been how we fight, but this somehow changed when Molly & Jack arrived.
During pregnancy I learned how the babies reacted to my emotional state...when I got upset and emotional, they would freak out and it felt terrible. That was when it hit us, we now have an audience with front row seats to everything we ever fight about. So it's time to fight fair or at least clean up the language a little bit.
The things that we fight about have altered slightly, but still have some of the same themes to them. Only we have less time and energy to deal with them. This is how it usually goes:
Round 1 - Battle of the Bleary-Eyed
It doesn't matter if one or both of us gets up in the middle of the night to a screaming child, we both had interrupted sleep. I am well aware, and appreciative, that you work long hours at your paid job all day and come home to immediately tag in and that you regularly give me breaks to regain my sanity and you rarely complain....However, when you say, "At least you have the chance of possibly getting a nap during the day" I want to slam your face off of the high chair. Sometimes it's hard to remember that this isn't a competition about who got less rest. We are both tired and lack of sleep has always been one of our bicker triggers.
The Ice Pack: Give each other a nap sometimes. Even 20 minutes helps....an hour is even better.
Round 2 - You're Not Listening to Me
There is more noise going on here than ever before. Most conversations happen among baby noises, dishwasher noises, laundry timers and so on. So it's really easy to lose what is said in the daily grind. It's a constant battle between not being heard and being a nag.***
The Ice Pack: Write stuff down...on the calendar, in an email to each other or on a list if it's important. Acknowledge what the other person said so they know that you actually heard them.
Round 3 - You Still Aren't Listening to me or Sometimes the Squeaky Wheel Just Wants to Make Some Noise
In the realm of traditional gender roles we generally defy them, except for this one...When Chris has a bad day at work he doesn't want to talk about it. I don't work that way. When I have a bad day with the babies, I want to complain. This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy being at home with them, even though some days I really hate being at home with them, but it especially means that I don't want suggestions on how to fix my day. I don't need a solution - I need an ear, a hug, a shoulder to cry on and a thank you.****
The Ice Pack: This is a new one for us that we just got a handle on this week....when I just want to complain I'm going to warn him that I'm venting up front.
Down for the Count
Six months in things may not be easy, but it gets better every day. And we do fight...but I think we give in easier and hold grudges less....cause who has the energy for that? At the end of the day we're on the same team - some days it's just hard to remember that.
*When I told my mother about how upset the movie had made Chris and I, she felt a need to confirm whether or not I was aware that it was a cartoon and that the characters aren't real people. Yeah, I know, but it doesn't make me any less sad.
**I really mean scream it out.
***Not so surprising, I am the nag 90% of the time and we both aren't heard about 50% of the time, especially when it comes to running out of cat food or milk.
****I finally curbed calling Chris at work crying at around month 4, I know it made him really uncomfortable, especially when he was in meetings.