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10.15.2013

31 Days: Spousal Communication

Over six years ago, Danny and I went through pre-marital counseling. Our pastor told us that one of our strengths was communication. We were pleased to hear that but it didn't mean we had it perfected. So of course, we've struggled here and there over the years. One of the main reasons we're good at communication is because I'm easy to read. Danny knows by my quiet and avoiding eye contact that something is wrong. I love to talk. It's when I'm not willing to talk that he knows we need to have a sit down. And so we do!

However, communication isn't just talking about issues after they've come up and made a mess. Communication is also talking about the daily ins and outs of our life together, especially now that children are part of that life. This is hard to do sometimes! Danny works retail hours. Often times, he will work nearly 50 hours in a week. We have to be so stinking intentional in our communication.

There have been some major hurdles to jump in Amelia's behavior recently. We have encountered way too much yelling, biting, ineffective time-outs, even spankings. A couple months ago, I had had enough and knew that we needed to do something different. I had been spending lots of time pouring over scripture, blogs, and books, grasping at any kind of help we could get with all this toddler craziness. Danny and I would agree on some new tactics in our discipline strategy. But then he would dive into his work week, falling out of practice in playing out these new ways of helping Amelia. I, on the other hand, would spend the whole week refining discipline and really making a connection with Amelia as we worked on this hard stuff. Danny's weekend would come and all hell would break loose. I'm not even kidding. There would be tantrums, meltdowns, and general awfulness constantly. From all of us, not just the toddler.

I observed this happen over the course of a few weeks and finally one particular day, Amelia was super upset and inconsolable about something that I thought could have been prevented. I was not intentional in my communication with Danny about the situation. Instead, I lashed out and said, "She does not act like this when you are at work! We have been making progress. Then your weekend comes and it's all terrible because you're not on the same page as me! She needs consistency."

Oh hey, heads up. As if it needs to said, do not speak this way to your husband. Just don't. I crushed my poor husband. And I knew it as soon as the words started spewing out. What I said to him communicated that I thought he was a poor father. I never, ever want him to feel that way again.

 

All of what I said might have been true. As we talked later, we agreed that yes, Amelia's behavior was worse when Danny was home. However, the way I delivered this news was straight up sinful. And clearly not helpful at all. We came to the conclusion that our communication as husband and wife was lacking on his days off. And that's why Amelia would have her moments more often.

He knows I'm sharing this by the way. And we talked extensively about how we can do this better. While it was sucky on the day I freaked out, I'm glad it happened because we had a great conversation later. We decided that it was completely ok to intercede quietly if one of us felt like the other wasn't handling a situation correctly, instead of watching a train wreck happen and blaming later. For instance, he has a hard time coming up with choices quickly for Amelia. So I might help him with that. Or when I have a hard time keeping a level voice, he might remind me to keep calm. Previously, we had both assumed that it wasn't ok to do that for each other. Because we had never communicated about it!

april 2013 // photos by anthem photography

We have so much more to learn together. And there are still hard days. But we just remind each other that we are on the same team. He might be at work for the majority of the week but Danny is just as vital to the correct disciplining of our children as I am. I'm so blessed that he listens and trusts my judgement on the way our girls need to be guided. And I'm so thankful that he looks past my faults and holds my hand as we parent together. Our girls need that consistency and they need that example of love.

How do you feel like you and your spouse could improve on communication? Does it feel like you guys are on the same team? How do your children behave when this is or isn't the case?

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