“Stop parenting your spouse,” I said while speaking to a group of moms. The room suddenly got quiet. I had been fielding several questions with a similar beginning, “How do I get my husband to…”
I’ve heard similar questions from young moms in audiences, mentoring groups, and the counseling office. As a wife, counselor, and mom of three boys, I want to talk about why you need to stop parenting your husband.
- Your husband is your partner and you’re on the same team. In parenting and marriage, you and your husband both have the same goal of creating a healthy, loving, Christ-centered family. Work at it as partners and teammates.
- Your husband is an adult, so talk to him with the respect and communication you have towards others for whom you love and care. He’s got a mom already. Don’t sound like her.
- Manipulation, control, and coercion are not the way to get your husband to hear you or change his behavior. It’s tempting to micromanage your husband’s time or the way that he interacts with your children. But God doesn’t manipulate or control us. In healthy relationships, there is equal power, not manipulation. Instead, talk to your husband about your needs and how you can work together to change the situation.
- Speak up for your needs, while also listening to your husband’s needs. Appropriately share your needs and frustrations with your husband. In turn, listen to his. As equal partners, you are constantly compromising for each other, realizing everything can’t be the way you want it to be.
- Work with your husband towards a solution that is respectful to both of you, one that is open to compromise, flexibility, and change.
- Parent together. It’s easy as the mom to take over parenting duties and decisions without involving your husband. Don’t fall into this trap. Family caretaking and gender roles are different than parenting responsibilities. Remember marriage and parenting is a partnership. You’re a team for your family.
- Love your husband for who he is and where he is. He’s growing as an adult and parent just like you are. Don’t shame him for who he isn’t or hasn’t become.
- Set boundaries with fairness and empathy. If your husband isn’t partnering with you, set healthy boundaries with support while doing so. (For more information, see boundary resources or the books Boundaries or Boundaries in Marriage by Townsend and )
- You are both human, so give one another grace.
- Simply love your husband. God has given you your husband as a lifetime companion. Look at him with grace, compassion, and fresh eyes, just as you do your children when they frustrate you one moment but melt your heart the next. Your children are an extension of the love you and your husband have, not a replacement for it.
Parenting is only part of your marriage. Don’t put off working on your marriage. Seek assistance from a mentor, or older couple, counselor, coach, or pastor who can guide you in this season of your marriage. However, if your marriage is unhealthy or your spouse is unsafe or toxic for your emotional, mental, spiritual, physical, or sexual health, seek professional services or resources to help you. These situations are more complex than ten simple steps.
If you’d like more information on coaching or inviting Brenda to do a parenting or marriage workshop or lead a retreat for your church, contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.