Lifelines: Healthy arguments

Friendly fireMy girlfriend and I have two great kids and a really good, loving relationship, but we had a particularly bad argument the other night and the children, who are seven and nine, heard everything and were upset. We are so ashamed and afraid this has affected them and that they will tell everyone their mum and dad had a fight.

We do have disagreements but are careful to keep these away from the children but things got emotional and we couldn’t seem to calm down. We don’t know whether to bring it up and risk upsetting them or carry on and hope they forget about it.

• Most parents argue and sometimes children overhear. Yes, your children were upset, but it seems like this was a rare occurrence. It’s worth remembering that you and your girlfriend have presumably made up and moved on – this is a healthy way to show children that arguments are not the end of a relationship and can help them communicate better.

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As for them telling people that their mum and dad had an argument, they will not be the only ones saying that in the playground. If you feel you do need to discuss it with them, then centre the conversation on reassurance and maybe an apology for shouting. Most importantly, let them know that mum and dad still love each other, even after rowing.

Battle ground

My partner and I have arguments, like most folk, but neither of us knows when to let it go. And it’s getting worse. I find it very hard to give in and say sorry, and my partner is very stubborn too. This is causing problems as he works nights and we don’t see each other much during the week. The silence and frosty atmosphere can go on for days. It is also ruining weekends as we have to try to get over it and do things, which is stressful. We have a great relationship on the whole but seem to take longer to recover from the arguments, as no one wants to make the first move. I feel miserable and I’m sure he does too.

• Arguing in a relationship is normal but the way we argue differs from person to person. Some people can fight and then carry on as if nothing has happened. Others stew and find it difficult to move on. Sometimes the best relationships have the worst arguments.

You may not change another person’s behaviour in an argument but you can regulate your own. Don’t let a bad atmosphere go on for a long time, as this amplifies the original row. Try taking a breath and changing the subject – a shared chuckle can bring people together. And this might even prompt your partner to make the first move next time. The added issue of not talking during the week and then pressuring yourselves into a fun weekend is unfortunate and all the more reason to try to come back from the row sooner rather than later.

• Pauline Nimmo is a registered family mediator and contact centre manager at Relationships Scotland, South Lanarkshire