Dealing with an overly critical spouse while saving your marriage
“Remind yourself ‘My partner doesn't think I'm an idiot, it's their child as well as mine, and they just want what’s best.’ Connect around that common goal'
When it comes to raising children and running the household and being parents in general, it is ideal that both partners are in the same wavelength, seeing eye to eye in all things that concern family life.
But that doesn’t always happen; parents are two different people with two different mindsets and backgrounds and upbringings and that causes disagreements, both major and minor.
What works for you may not always work for them and vice versa.
Jonathan Stern, in his Fatherly article, offers some tips on what to do when your spouse constantly criticizes your parenting.
Create space to talk things over
Communication is key to making relationship work, and by communication it means talking things over in a calm state in a calm place, without the distraction of kids.
“When you talk about it on the fly, it's more likely to be accusatory,” says marriage counselor Laura Silverstein. “When you're both consciously deciding to talk about it, it goes much better.”
Don’t be so defensive
“Nobody likes to be told they're doing it wrong, so when you're doing a great job washing your kid's hair and your partner thinks you're water boarding them, it's natural to get a little defensive,” Jonathan said.
When it does happen, make sure to take some time of to breathe, cool off, before re-engaging with your spouse.
Hear what they’re saying and say it back
“People want to feel like they're listened to and taken seriously,” Laura says. “Respond in a non-defensive manner, and validate what the other person is saying. You're not required to say yes to what anybody asks you. But you are required to think about it. Try it on for size and [see it] you can meet their request with generosity."
What's the worst that can happen?
“Ask them what they think could go wrong with the way you're doing whatever it is you're doing that precipitated this fight—just do it in a sincere way and not a sarcastic one.”
Set up parameters
Making sure that both you and your spouse are on the same page with even the simplest things such as nap times, play times, the amount of alcohol that can be consumed in a day, say, eliminates ambiguities and sets up clear rules.
Every 0ne wants the best
“People have really strong opinions about what they think is in their kids' best interest,” says Laura.
“Remind yourself, ‘My partner doesn't think I'm an idiot, it's their child as well as mine, and they just want what’s best.’ Connect around that common goal.”
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