My partner is the type who, when faced with any sort of confrontation, shuts down completely. Not only is this incredibly frustrating when we need to work through something, together, but it actually causes more issues. But another thing happens, too: I sort of lose it. OK — I totally lose it and tend to take my meek, barely there voice to levels that I'm sure make animals in distant pastures run away. If you're like me, you know the instant guilt that follows this behavior, and you probably wonder what things you're teaching your kid when you yell at your partner. I'm sorry to admit that I've only learned after-the-fact.
When I think back to all the times I've raised my voice towards my partner as my children look on, I feel almost sick with regret. I love my partner, but sometimes his tendency to shut down so quickly sidles its way in between us and stays there, festering until I erupt. Where I'm passive aggressive through most parts of the day (I'm working on it), he's nearly all passivity, all the time. It's usually not until I lose my cool that I realize how much we still need to work on (hopefully together).
I still hold tight to the memories of my parents yelling and fighting and hoped I'd never do the same and yet, here I am. I certainly don't want my kids to grow up modeling this sort of behavior, but I fear that they will. Here are some things I think I've (accidentally) taught them when I raise my voice at the man I say I love. For the record, I'm sorry.
The Loudest Person Wins
I hadn't realized the repercussions of my yelling until one day, my daughter started doing the very same to get her point across — to her father. She's been watching and listening so intently, I'd set out this example I never intended. Not only was it eye-opening, but we're also now struggling with helping her find other ways to communicate when she' frustrated.
Listening Isn't An Option
Even though my partner is annoyingly passive, my sudden bursts of aggression only prove I'm not capable of hearing what he has to say. I can preach about the important of listening all I want, but if my kids only see me shouting at their dad when I'm angry or stressed, they'll do the very same to me, or anyone else in their lives.
You Don't Respect Your Partner
Of course I respect my partner, but how will my kids know this if I'm yelling at him? I'm learning they won't. They learn by what they see in our actions and, whether I mean to or not, my actions have taught them my partner doesn't deserve respect when I'm upset — that I'd rather have a screaming match than work things out.
It's OK To Be Aggressive To Get Your Point Across
One of the worst things to witness as a mother, is catching a glimpse of one of your children acting out in ways you swear you didn't teach them. My youngest is the sweetest kid. He hugs a lot, says the funniest, most endearing things. But when he's frustrated, he can escalate into a yelling tantrum. I can only assume his takeaway from my yelling at my partner is that in order to truly be heard, we have to shout.
Making People Feel Small Is A Good Thing
When I was growing up, my dad yelled at me for everything. I never felt like I did anything right, and to this day, our relationship is somewhat broken. He took pleasure (however unknowingly) in making me feel smaller, beneath him. I never, in a million years, realized I was doing the exact same to my partner, until seeing my children cower at the sound of me. If there's anything about me I wish I could change, it's not to let feelings build so long, they explode (something I'm trying to teach my kids, too).
This Is The Best Way To Solve Problems
While I don't yell at my partner on a whim (it usually builds for a while first), I've somehow ingrained in my children that, instead of calmly talking things through, it's best to go straight to yelling. Yelling solves problems (it doesn't). Yelling makes Mommy feel better (though, it doesn't). Yelling is the way to make the problem stop (it never does). I want to teach them exact opposite, and yet, here I am.
No One's Voice Matters But Yours
When I raise my voice with my partner, talking over him to get my point across, I'm essentially teaching my kids their father's voice is no longer valid; only mine is. Not only will this shape and fracture their future relationships with others, but I'm seeing it can do the same with how they feel about me, and that isn't something I can live with.