When my daughter was a toddler, she had epic meltdowns over the slightest inconveniences. If she asked for a fourth piece of candy and someone denied her, watch out. Honestly, these tantrums tested my partner and I's marriage. Over time we got used to her dramatics, sure, but there's definitely some things you can only learn about your marriage after handling your first public tantrum. The first all-out temper explosion sets the tone for how this parenting thing will work, so it's important whoever's in charge of running the show isn't your toddler (like ours was).
As of today, my husband and I have been together for nearly 13 years (married for almost 10), and in that time we've had our fair share of ups and downs. However, we have always managed to somehow find a way to endure the roller coaster ride until it's over. When you throw in a tantrum-throwing toddler, though, all logic, reasoning, and compassion fly out the window. It's hard to be on the same team when this little human is flopping around on the floor in front of you, testing every fiber of your patience, especially when it's done in public.
Though our daughter has only mildly calmed down in the tantrum department (tween hormones are the worst, you guys), I'd like to think my husband and I know how to deal with it together now, as opposed to how we'd work against one another through those early years. Here are some of the things you can probably only understand about your relationship once that initial public display of your tiny toddler's rage is happening. Warning: it may not be good things.
Who's The "Good" Guy & Who's The "Bad" Guy
When my daughter had her first public meltdown, my husband and I took roles we hadn't intended to. He chose the funny, light-hearted comedic relief which, of course, made me the bad guy. Forever. Despite trying to switch things up every now and then, it was clear then (and still is now) who is who.
Our marriage has survived through so much, I think, because we do play into our standard roles. Our kids know what to expect from each of us, especially when they're having a tantrum, so I can't say this is necessarily a bad thing. It did, however, take a little getting used to.
How Well Each Of You Handle The Pressure
I'm not great under pressure, which became obvious during my daughter's first public fit. I'm the type to let things build until I explode and, unfortunately, the day my daughter threw her first public toddler tantrum was the day I was ready to explode.
My husband, however, is the opposite. He can handle just about anything thrown at him, including our screaming daughter in the middle of the cereal aisle.
How Much Compromise You Both Need In Order To Survive
When you're in the thick of a public tantrum, it's best to use all tactics necessary. My husband would, of course, use humor first and resort to something that was easy and fun. I couldn't help but go straight through the stages of grief, starting first with anger, then to bargaining, and finally, acceptance. Yes, it was as awful as it sounds. In the end, however, we had to find a good middle ground, which meant compromising both of our initial reactions until we could meet in the middle, where our daughter benefited the most.
How Well You Co-Parent
Immediately, we discovered how well we worked together, both under pressure and in the middle of everyone's focus. Marriage and co-parenting is either its worst or best when you're faced with a situation as taxing as a toddler tantrum. Luckily, my partner and I figure out what strengths each of us could contribute to bring our daughter back down to reality and, honestly, ever since that first public fit, we've co-parenting pretty well. I fill in where he lacks, and vice versa.
Also, it throws the kids off to not steam roll the both of us. I love it.
How Much You Love One Another
Seeing your little baby flailing on the floor really makes you realize what's important in life. For me, it was getting the hell out of the store as soon as humanly possible, but I also realized how grateful I was (and still am) to have such a supportive partner by my side through it all.
Parenting is a great big sh*t show sometimes, but as long as you go into a public tantrum as a team, you'll walk out of there winners.