Whether it’s how late the kids can stay up on a school night, how much junk food the kids should eat on the weekends or what type of discipline the kids should receive when they are acting up, chances are you and your husband don’t agree on everything all of the time.
The good news is – this is normal and healthy! You wouldn’t want to marry a carbon copy of yourself. (At least, I know I sure wouldn’t!)
And when you combine two parents with two different parenting styles, you can take the best of both worlds and create a system that truly works well for your family.
The bad news, of course, is that no one enjoys arguing with a spouse over parenting – especially when you aren’t getting your way! 🙂
Are there any issues (large or small) that you and your husband find yourself constantly disagreeing over? Here’s how to solve them once and for all.
1. Accept Your Differences
First of all, accept that your husband is not you. He’s a unique individual with a unique perspective and a life experience that is different than yours. When you disagree, it does not mean that one of you is “wrong” and one is “right.” It just means that you are different, and that’s good!
If you prefer organic foods while he prefers boxed mac and cheese, that’s okay. If you prefer to play educational games with the kids and he lets them play obnoxious video games, that’s okay too.
2. Let Go of the Little Things
Apparently my high school English teacher and her husband divorced because he bought the wrong kind of butter. That’s what she told us anyways. I thought it was the most ridiculous thing at the time, but now I understand (kind of).
When you’re married, it’s SO easy to let the little things turn into big things and think that “If this little thing happens, that means these huge horrible things are going to happen down the road!”
Relax. Take a breath. Assess the situation. Is it really that big of a deal? If not, then just let it go.
Don’t let the pursuit of giving your kids the “perfect” childhood get in the way of giving them a really, really good childhood.
3. Seek Understanding on the Big Things
Of course, there are some things that are worth fighting for. But that doesn’t mean you just want to fight all the time. Instead, sit down calmly, as adults, and seek to understand each others’ perspectives.
What is it you and your spouse are REALLY concerned about? What beliefs or life experiences from your past are leading you to feel this way? Is the whole issue the problem, or just part of it? Are you objecting to the entirety of the other’s ideas or just a specific piece?
This also includes avoiding jumping to conclusions or using statements like “you always” or “you never.” Don’t assume what your spouse wants. Listen and find out.
4. Respect Each Others’ Concerns
Whether or not you agree with everything your husband thinks and believes, the fact is that you do have an obligation to respect him and his concerns. This doesn’t mean you always agree or do things his way, but it does mean that you take the time to fully listen to him and try to understand and appreciate where he is coming from before you make a decision together.
Personally, whenever my husband and I disagree on things, I just remind myself, “He is a great dad. He loves our kids just as much as I do and we both only want what’s best for them.” And once I keep that in mind, his ideas don’t seem so terrible after all.
5. Remain a Team
Speaking of which, it’s important to remember – it shouldn’t be your way versus his way. You’re on the same team! It should be “Okay, we BOTH wants best for the kids. How can we, as a team, find a solution that is best for everyone?”
Everyone wins or no one wins. You’re all in this together.
6. Brainstorm Solutions Together
And the good news is, once you decide you’re on the same team, it becomes MUCH easier to brainstorm a solution you both will love.
My husband and I actually had to have a discussion like this right before Christmas. There was a toy he really wanted to get the kids that I was dead set against. So we sat down and talked about it.
(And by this, I mean there may or may not have been tears and yelling… it was a long day and we were both overdue for a bedtime at this point–not late night Christmas shopping online. Happens to the best of us.)
The next day, once we had both calmed down, we were better able to appreciate each other’s concerns and to find a different toy that provided the same benefit he really wanted for our kids without the aspect of it that I was so opposed to. We were both happy, and our kids love it. Problem solved.
7. Stand United
Okay, this is a big one. No matter which way you and your husband decide (or even if you have yet to come to a decision together), you HAVE to present a united front to the kids.
This doesn’t mean that you always have to plaster on a fake, smiley face and never let your kids see any of your problems. (Your kids SHOULD see you, as parents, working through your problems as loving adults – it’s how they learn to do the same.) But it does mean that you always, always, always support each other and back each other up.
Never, ever tear down your spouse to your children or undermine his authority when he is not around. Do not question him and argue with him in front of the kids. Assuming that no one is in imminent danger, let it go for now and then revisit the topic later, privately, after the kids have gone to bed.
8. Set Up “Tie Breaker” Rules
Of course, there will always be times when you disagree. So how do you decide who wins? This is when it’s helpful to have “tie breaker” rules.
In our home, we have the unspoken policy of “whoever said it first.” If I’ve already told my kids to get in their pajamas and they go ask their dad to stay up late, he will defer to me. If he’s already told the kids they can have boxed macaroni and cheese for lunch even though I was planning on making something with actual nutritional value, I defer to him.
Oftentimes, my husband won’t even answer the kids’ questions until he’s checked in with me first, especially if he’s just getting home and I’ve been home all day. He’ll ask them “What did mom say?” or he’ll ask me “What do you think?” or “Were they good today?” This helps keep us on the same page, even when one of us is just getting in.
Other rules/loose guidelines you could set include:
- Whoever feels the most strongly about the issue gets their way
- Mom decides on weeknights; dad decides on weekends
- Mom decides on some topics; dad decides on others
- Mom gets the final say, since she’s with the kids more
- Dad gets the final say, since he’s the man of the house
- Whatever works for you!
Honestly, though, this isn’t a problem we have too often. Usually, after we talk about things, we decide the issue truly isn’t THAT big of a deal, and we both let each other win part of the time. Life’s much easier that way.
What issues do you and your husband always find yourself disagreeing over? How do you solve them?