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Don't Fight in Front of Your Baby!

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The other day, I got into it with my guy in front of my newborn. Even though she's only 5 months old, it made me feel bad, and I wondered if our arguing was in fact affecting her in some way.

couple fighting in front of baby

Notes from a New Mom: Having a baby can bring added stress to a relationship, but airing out your issues in front of your baby -- regardless of how little he or she is -- could affect the child in a negative way. Momlogic expert Dr. Michelle Golland explains why:

"Infants are affected by traumatic events around them," says Dr. Golland. "It affects their sensory motors. An occasional disagreement is fine, but active combat in front of babies is stressful for them. It's not good."

She compares it to taking newborns into a loud restaurant: You don't do it, because you don't want to overload the babies. It's stressful for their system, which causes their heart rate to go up.

Dr. Golland also stresses the importance of a couple seeking professional help if they are fighting more than just occasionally. As she puts it, "Truthfully, if you are unhappy at that level, you won't be a very good mom or dad." Yikes!

Here's what you and your guy can do:

Get couple's counseling. If there's too much arguing, it's time to get some help -- the sooner, the better. If there are stressful issues and your relationship needs a tune-up -- and you've been derailed by the stress of a new baby -- do the work early, so you can enjoy this time with less resentment and baggage.

Vow to one another that you will not get angry in front of your infant. Showing restraint will pull you out of the heated moment, and you will likely be able to talk through it more calmly later.

If you're too upset to talk, write what you are upset about and have your partner read it.

Try this six-minute exercise. One person gets to talk for three minutes uninterrupted, after which the other person has to summarize without judgment and without interpretation. Then you switch roles. This way, both people can share their feelings, be heard and get their needs met. Once you come from empathy and compassion, there will be much less conflict in your relationship.

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