Rohnert Park, CA
Number of kid: 2
Ages of kids: 15, 12
Problem: What can I do when my husband will not back me up in teaching and disciplining my sons? He always seems to make excuses for them or blames the problems in me.
Solution submitted by Tom S. of CA: This is an important question of communication for the couple themselves. The wife's question here is a common question, and many husbands only give a rhetorical grunt whenever their wife presses them on this. The problem of communication is that women are always ready to talk their emotions and men communicate to share information. A smart wife will understand that the question of "why don't you ever support me" will only and always be seen as an attack requiring his immediate defensive posture, no matter how pleasantly she presents the subject. To communicate with your husband try the following ideas:
Don't demand an immediate answer. Don't even demand that he thinks on it now. Rather, ask your husband if he would give you an "appointment" (actually just setting time out of his preconceived plans) to discuss a topic. e.g., "Honey, I need to find out your thoughts on some discipline issues that I am struggling with the boys, when do we think we can discuss this?" Then ask for a set time. Tonight? Tomorrow? This saturday morning? When?
Don't Criticize. Don't say YOU. The minute you say the word "you" in a conversation, you have blown it, it's an attack. Rather keep it "I." "I feel," "I'm confused," "I feel I am opposing your ideas without knowing it." Feelings, when they are yours are not RIGHT or WRONG, they are yours, and as long as you don't interject the word "you" (like: I feel you are an idiot) you won't have a problem.
Give your husband all the facts first. I feel as though when the boys are foul mouthed to me that I should respond, but I want to make sure that we agree on how I should do it, and to what degree and emphasis. I feel that when the boys fail to do their chores, that I should take away some of their free time or money or whatever, what do you feel is the answer?
Give him time to think. I often tell my wife: "Wow, that's a whopper, I never realized that you had so much confusion about my ideas on this matter. Give me some time to think this over."
men need to formulate their ideas on important manners, generally we aren't good "blurters" and when we do it's often in a autocratic, or demeaning, or demanding or authoritative manner. Given time to think it over, we often do a better job, both in business and in personal life. (Ever notice how a man can be far more civil to employees and clients than to his own loved wife - it's only because he has time to develop answers to these people that can be presented in a reasoned manner.
Once your husband has his answers, he will be ready for a debate, and generally for a enjoyable give and take type of debate. You, his wife, will probably find him actually communicating (just don't embarrass him by telling him this). You will find that he is open to hear from you, and incorporate your ideas into his formulae and positions. Tell him how much you enjoy debating lifes important issues (it's just like telling him that he is a good debater).
Sure you may say this is a lot of non-politically correct nonsense, but you will be rewarded with rich conversation and sharing of ideas and a generally conversant husband. Take it from a guy who married a girl smart enough to get him talking.... and good luck! Tom S.
(Editor's Note: Tom's solution reminded me of the book "Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus : A Practical Guide for Improving Communication and Getting What You Want in Your Relationships" by John Gray; Hardcover; Which I, (Delila), found very informative. For more information on better communication between husbands and wives (and men and women in general), please take a look at this book. For other good books on good communication in a marriage, see the marriage section of the #!Parentsroom Bookstore.
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