Here’s how not to fight in front of kids – one of my many “happy couples tools” – which I wrote about in my column on Oprah.
Living with my 4 1/2 year old son Ari (my “Little Handsome”) is like living with a marriage counselor.
Because whenever Ari is around, my Big Handsome and I are always extra motivated to be our best selves.
After all, we want Ari to grow up learning how to be an amazing partner for some lucky gal some day.
As a result, Big Handsome and I are devoted to representing what a healthy, loving, supportive relationship looks like, sounds like, feels like – and quacks like.
We developed a “happy couples tool” – all about making “quack, quack” sounds – which has helped us to fight less in front of Ari.
Now, before you think this too “quacky” of a concept – let me quickly explain.
Whenever either Big Handsome or I are feeling hurt, annoyed or highly miffed, we say “quack, quack.”
This is our recognized code for “You are really bugging me – and/or pissing me off right now – so – please stop and re-think what you are saying or doing.”
We concocted this quirky tool because we recognized that often we didn’t want to talk angrily (aka: argue) about specific adult topics in front of Ari.
Plus, we also did not want to risk one of our comments (aka: complaints) escalating into a big bickering session – and have Ari sit through it all – taking mental notes for things to tell his therapist in years to come.
(I’m joking – but I’m serious.)
So, we decided if we were with Ari, and one of us was feeling hurt or annoyed by the other, we’d simply say “quack, quack.”
The “offending party” would then know that an offense had taken place. It would then up t the “offending party” to figure out what” offensive” thing they just said or did.
As a result, tensions are lowered by both the person who says it – and the person who hears – at the exact time which tensions might normally rise up higher.
(For example, conflict, anger, irritation are all tension increasers!)
Nothing is actually being explained.
As a result, the “offending party” has to take the time to think about it on on their own – wonder what they might have said or done to inspire a “quack, quack.”
The “offending party” has to call upon qualities like empathy, curiosity and contemplation to solve the riddle of the triggered “quack, quack.”
It’s an “enough said” verbal device – which prevents engaging in one of those long circular fights – where you go round and round – repeating the same thing – over and over.
Or worst – drifting into other complaint topics – besides the singular complaint topic at hand.
When you hear the “quack, quack” you know the offense has to do with something in the here and now – so your attention stays focused on the here and now.
it helps you become aware of how many times you might be saying or doing something annoying.
It’s very noticeable if you’re saying “quack, quack” 3 or 4 times in a night.
In fact, this happened to us one evening – inspiring Ari to ask, “What’s with all the quack, quacks?” This made Big Handsome and I laugh – further releasing our tension.
If you later want to revisit what triggered the “quack, quack,” you can do it when your child’s not around – and thereby also when your blood pressure has returned to a more normal level.
Plus, even if you don’t have kids, this tool is a good one – for all the many reasons above.