Have you watched Catastrophe, the Amazon Prime series about a couple who are brought together quickly when their one-night stand results in a pregnancy? It is SO funny.
I notice however, that like on most shows, the couple has more frequent fights than my husband and I have. And, further, they are more able to recover gracefully from those fights. I envy their resilience.
The best thing about Catastrophe is the brutal honesty combined withÂ loyaltyÂ and laughter and how they ebb and flow together… even when they’re covering tricky topics like what parents fight about.
How can these guys be so vicious to each other and then so supportive? I attribute the skillful conflict resolution I see regularly on television (aka my mobile device) to a couple of factors:
- These are not real people. In a fictional world, adults don’t need time to sit with their feelings. Their anger can magically lift when the camera cuts to the next scene.
- If the characters don’t articulate a diversity of feelings, the show would be boring. I’m always impressed when Modern Family‘sÂ Dunphys and Mitch and Cam share their emotionsÂ all over each other: jealousy, embarrassment, fear of losing attention. At the end of every episode, they modelÂ excellentÂ communication skills. But of course, if they didn’t emote verbally, there would be no lines and no plot, and we’d just sit on our couches watching a better-lit couple sit on their own couches.
- Script writers. These arguments are so concise! No one veers off intoÂ a discussion of the logistics of where to park at the airport or what a good lunchbox includes in the middle of a confession about feeling unappreciated. In real life, our thoughts are not so organized. It takes much longer to get unpack the heart of the matter.
We asked moms on our Facebook page to tell us what topics they were most likely to disagree with their partner about in the day ahead, and we got more than 30 different responses, which upon closer examination fell into three general categories.
Which of these are the hot buttons in your household?
From how much football is too much to which movie to see, it sounds like there aren’t enough hours in the day (or enough child-free hours in the day) to watch everything. If together time is limited in your home, do you suggestÂ separating into different rooms in order for both partners to rule their own remotes, orÂ suggest that whoever gets their way should be giving the other person a foot-rub?
No, it’s your turn!
Fighting over chores is a given. Who is doing the dishes, changing the next diaper, and which piece of this 27-step bedtime routine did you want to handle? Parenting is a team sport in which everyone looks forward to the minutes they spend sitting on the bench. Since there’s no coach to help select a winner in the “Who’s more tired?” contest the two of you are having, remember the golden rule: treat your beloved the way you want to be treated. And parents? No score-keeping.
What’s good for the kids. Or what’s good enough for the kids.
Wendy says no soda, while Zach thinks it’s fine. One parent wants everyone to sing along to Iggy Azalea’s Fancy while the other wonders why on earth a 5-year old should be encouraged to repeat “Trash the hotel/Let’s get drunk on the mini bar”¦” These are the stickiest of discussions because the topics are incredibly subjective and we all come to the table with a unique set of priorities. Those who grew up with a Friday night tradition of pizza and root beer may want to see their kids scarfing down the same magic combination. Raise your hand if you’re guilty of saying, “Well I did X as a kid, and I turned out fine,” where X = memorized all the lyrics to Baby’s Got Back or ate a Snickers bar for lunch several times a week.
MyÂ best advice is this: give your partner the benefit of the doubt, remembering that he or she also wants what’s best for your family.
Pro tip: If you’re determined to get your way, distract your partner like Iowa mom Heather Osby who told us that she rearranged the living room while her husband wasn’t home. Now he doesn’t even know where the TV is.