I grew up in a house of anger and never knew there was such a thing as "good" or "constructive" arguing until I met the family of my first boyfriend. A raised voice still reduces my body to a pit of dread. In my head, I know that it can be totally fine and healthy to engage in a heated argument, but my body just doesn't trust it.
I really struggle with this one, because I want to be a good role model for Lilly. I want to be able to demonstrate constructive-issue-oriented arguing to her (as opposed to destructive-people-oriented, intentionally hurtful and abusive fighting) but I still haven't been able to have an argument with Leighton without feeling death, even if, when looking back on it, the argument was in fact quite "good," and with a sense of closure, resolution, at the end. Says William Doherty, a professor in the University of Minnesota's Department of Family Social Science, about arguing in front of your children:
"If they never see you argue, they're going to get a very unrealistic image of marriage. If it's hostile, contemptuous, full of shouting and name-calling, that's bad. But if it's a small irritation that is addressed respectfully and the kids see that 15 minutes later you've gotten over it and everything is fine again, that's helpful."
It's not like Leighton and I avoid arguments at all cost; we're both too willful for that. In my head self, I can in fact say that we have a good line of communication and good arguments. They just don't feel good to me. In the heat of the moment there is no line between us, only a numbing vacuum.
Leighton knows this and together I think we've made some progress to help us both feel less shell shocked by arguments, and in turn the arguments become less paralyzing. And I'm beginning to feel less freaked out if something isn't resolved that very moment. If it gets too difficult for me to go any further, if the topic of the conversation, confrontation, argument, feels too overwhelming, if I meet a block, I know I can pick it up at a later time. And at least something has been initiated. At least I'm trying to pull it out from beneath the rug, at least I'm trying to murk around in that shitty past, at least I'm trying to deal with something, at least I'm doing something for me, for us. At least I'm fighting to get my head above water, for air, to breathe.