Sunday, November 15, 2015

How to Talk to Him

talk to husbands about their kids, stepmom, step mothers, blended family, blended families
Do you ever notice how our husbands get so defensive when we have a question or discussion about their children? Then all of a sudden it’s an all-out war? Did you ever take the time to think about how you might approach the question or discussion differently?
My husband and I have gotten into many arguments because the stepchildren and mainly because I sometimes question something that he does and he just blows up.  I never thought it might be the way I am approaching it, could be the timing, could be my tone of voice too.  At one point, I got to where I don’t question anything about the stepchildren and just let it go because it’s not worth the fight.  However, there are times where you do have to question him especially when it comes to money.
Before having this question or conversation with your husband, sometimes we should think and practice it in our heads or even get advice from a friend about it. Definitely try not to have it when you’re angry, try to be calm and relaxed. A few key things to think about:
1. Timing – The best time I have found to have a talk is right before bed, don’t do it right when he gets home from work or right before a meal. Also, make sure the kids are not around when you have this talk in case it gets heated.

2. Tone – How you present the talk with him. Make sure your voice is soft and relaxed. Using a gentle tone of voice and kind words will go a long way when discussing his kids.  Try to be calm and express yourself fully in a constructive way but not in a negative way.  As Rachelle Katz said “When we learn to communicate with our husbands with acceptance, love and respect, we can avoid pushing each other’s buttons”.  When or if we start off in a high pitch tone or initiate harshly, there is a great chance that it is not going to go over so well and your husband will get defensive and pretty quickly.  

3. Use “I” statementsUsing “I” statements can be very helpful and also tones down his defense mechanisms.  Try to avoid using the words “always”, “never”, “you”, “every” and replace them with “I” for example:
Bad: Every time the kids are here they never want me around.
Good: I feel when the kids are here that they don’t want me around.

Don’t forget to your tone, it can’t be high or whiney, but settle, calm like you’re talking to a counselor or your best friend. If you have time chat with a friend ahead of time and see what they think of how you’re going to talk to your husband.
Men and woman have different ways of communicating and that is why it is hard sometimes to have a talk with our husband about their kids.  Men try their best to avoid conflict at all costs.  Whereas women like to discuss issues until they are resolved.  For example you want the stepchildren to clean up their clothes in the bathroom after a shower; your husband gets defensive and doesn’t want to talk further about it.  When you just want them to pick up after themselves and put things back the way it was before they took the shower. Sometimes it is hard to get our point across to them in a way that they know, it’s not that your picking on them and you would get your own children to if they left their clothes and the bathroom a mess after a shower.  You just need to find ways to communicate better to them, so they don’t get defensive.

Here’s another example if you start a conversation like this:
Bad: “Why didn’t you tell me about the change of visitation plans”
Good: “How are you doing, how was your day. I know you were busy and forgot to tell me about the change of visitation. But I feel disrespected when I’m not included in the schedule changes. Could you tell me about them before agreeing to them in the future?”

Doing it this way, is like you are leading into the conversation gently and more calmly but you are still getting the point across about how you felt.
Here are some great overall ways to initiate communication to your husband in a nice way:

1. Don’t make assumptions that your husband knows what the issue is. He would be happy to solve it if you approach him gently like even holding his hand or cuddle with him.

2. Start off with a positive comment such as “You know how much I love and respect you”.

3. Use an “I” statement to explain your viewpoint.

4. State your concerns politely, calmly, clearly and firmly.

5. Lastly, listen to any concessions he may make and acknowledge them and communicate with him respectfully.

The key thing is to use a soft and calm voice. Try to remember men are problem solvers/fixers. If a man feels like he can’t resolve an issue he will start to become defensive. Before he can truly listen to you, your husband’s emotional walls will come down. If you need to express negative emotions about his kids, just to release negative energy, you need to do it with a friend or write it in a journal do not do this with your husband.  If it’s a personality problem with your stepchildren, it’s something your husband cannot fix and it might lead to him becoming defensive.
Sometimes no matter how you present the conversation about his kids, he might not be immediately receptive to all of your comments.  He may still get defensive no matter what. When or if this happens maybe it’s good to call a time out and just say we can talk about this later after we both have had time to cool down.  The biggest thing is to be patient and know it’s sometimes hard to hear something bad about your kids and put yourself in their shoes.
I still to this day sometimes have a hard time talking with my husband about my stepchildren. Eventually, you will find the right way to approach your husband and what works best.  Communication is hard work; it will take time to figure out how to do it effectively and respectfully. It also helps you build up the positive aspects of your relationship in your marriage.


References:
Rachelle Katz 2010. The Happy Stepmother. Stay Sane, Empower Yourself, Thrive In Your New Family. Harlequin

 

39 comments:

  1. You have a lot of good tips for communicating in general. I've heard "I" statements can be really useful.

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  2. This advise can definitely go both ways. Relationships can be hard, I feel 100% certain communication is a big part at making it work.

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  3. Always important not to let a bad mood or attitude steer the tone of a discussion or argument

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  4. You raise some good points to consider to avoid fighting about the kids, step or not. :) As a Stepmom, my husband and I were really open about communicating any concerns or issues and it has gone pretty well. My stepson just turned 18 and has moved into his own apartment so I feel like we've successfully "grown" him. lol

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  5. Great suggestions for marriage and all relationships, really. I can always use a reminder from time to time. Thanks for sharing.

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  6. I agree about getting him right before bed. My husband is usually more willing to listen once everything is done for the day and he has less worries.

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  7. Good perspective. Sounds like you've not only navigated the step-parent waters, but gained great insight worth sharing.

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  8. a LOT of insight - i pray that there are many who will be reading this post

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  9. Such a wonderful advice, this is would be helpful and I've learned thanks!

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  10. Yes. our tone is so important when we talk to anyone. Our tone can make or break someone listening to everything we have to say. And body language usually percipitates tone...

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  11. Great advice. I always tell my husband and son that it's not always what you say, but how you say it.

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  12. When it comes to confrontation, it's always about how you approach the person. I've noticed this too, because my S.O. is non-confrontational. When I approach him in a manner that makes me seem I'm mad he gets more defensive and his temper quickly rises compared to asking him in a calm manner, we barely fight.

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  13. Good communication is key to any relationship but especially in blended families.

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  14. "I" statements are so important in good communication as a rule. You have some great tips here- thank you for sharing so much personal knowledge about blended family life.

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  15. We've never argued about raising the children, but this sounds like good advice.

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  16. These are some great tips! Being able to be on level points and listening to each is very important.

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  17. Great tips for communicating between spouses even without kids! It's always hard for me to remember that my husband hears things so differently than I do and it can cause a lot of hurt feelings if we aren't careful or thoughtful about how we say things.

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    1. Definitely. Different communication styles can lead to misunderstandings. It's important to think about the person receiving your message when you're deciding what to say.

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  18. I don't think anyone likes to deal with problems or controversy upon arriving home. There seems to be a period of chill time needed first.

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  19. I really love this advice. Its really helpful many people will learn from this.

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  20. Great advice.. I am very open and active. I always start the conversation, just not around our kids

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  21. Amazing tips, as always! I hope more step-moms take your advice!

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  22. I love how honest you're in your posts. I'm terrible about maintaining my tone.

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  23. Very well said. Good read and a good tip. It;s all about the timing and how you deliver your question that matters a lot. Thanks for sharing this.

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  24. This a great advice. You can even apply these approaches when you need to discuss/confront your husband about a different matter.

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  25. I think all men are super defensive about anything you try to discuss with them. These are all great tips for navigating men!

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  26. These are great tips and would definitely help improved a relationship.
    www.gregdemcydias.com

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  27. I agree; avoiding concrete absolutes like "always" and "never" is wise. I think that spending some time to weed out personal emotions that are purely reactive is helpful as well, so that when a delicate subject is discussed it can be approached without getting upset or accusatory. It's important to take a "Let's work on this together because I care" approach. Men REALLY need women to help them navigate emotional waters without feeling condemned.

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  28. This reminds me of the conversation myhubby and I had a couple of nights ago. We don't argue though, I always let my emotion pass and then talk to him about it when I am calm.

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  29. i had my daughter at 18, then 4 years later i met my now husband, we married when she was 6. so i made all the decisions for 6 years. it's hard to give that up.

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  30. I always say, it's not just what you say but more importantly how you say it. It makes all the difference sometimes.

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  31. this is really good advice. thank you

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  32. I can only imagine that this would be a touchy topic for men. Good advice!

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  33. All great points! My fiance has mentioned that approach is everything. Sometimes when you're in the moment and passionate about the way you feel it can be hard to take a step back and redirect your comments. It takes a conscious effort.

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  34. Tone def. matters. A condescending tone will set me right on edge from the go.

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  35. Very great tips. I have seen many friends have problems with communicating when one of the partners wants to be confrontational.

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  36. Good tips here - I'm sure these tips will help many stepmoms!

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  37. when it comes to husbands (or boyfriends) - start out with something real sweet, like "Honey, I appreciate the way you..." - and then go on

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