Saturday, January 28, 2012

Gloom

My husband and I just had a pretty big blow up fight. It's been brewing for awhile and I wish I had said something earlier before it got this bad. I'm angry, and hurt, and really scared. And I have this stupid knee jerk reaction that I hurt him by telling him how I feel and now *I* have to fix it. As you can probably see, that right there is one of the problems in our marriage.

My husband is strict, in my opinion too strict. I am not. I'm the mom that the neighbors hate because I send my daughter out in the rain and let her splash in the muddy puddles, causing all the other kids to beg and whine that they want to have fun too. My husband is the dad that requires shoes AND socks if you set one foot outside the door. This disparity is not going so well with one very stubborn and listening impaired five year old, and one very traumatized and brand new 14 year old. When the kids don't follow the rules it almost always ends in a fight. One of them will do something, or not do something, that annoys the strict one. The strict one will use his angry voice which sounds very condescending and mean, even though he doesn't mean it that way. The said child will continue to ignore the correction. The strict one will turn to the laid back one and demand that I back him up by enforcing whatever he told her to do/not do. I have pointed out to him that he undermines himself when he does this because why should they listen to him when he will just defer enforcement to me? He doesn't get it. He also doesn't get that he can't hold a child that has been in foster care most of her life to the same standard that he would hold a teenager without a traumatic past. I've tried and tried to explain trauma and it's affects and what I have read about reaching children like M. He won't hear me. He's even read some of the blog posts that I've pointed out that mirror our situation very closely. He still doesn't get it.

I tried for awhile to call him on it when I heard him using the "angry voice" with M, but all that did was cause loud and angry fights right in front of the kids. SO NOT HELPFUL. I think you should sometimes argue in front of your kids, if you are arguing in a healthy way. It helps them to see how to resolve conflict. The problem is that we don't argue in a healthy way. He immediately gets defensive and won't hear what I am trying to say. He will verbally attack me instead of discussing something. His immediate reaction is always like a kid getting punished, a knee-jerk "I didn't do it!" I can't ever remember a time he admitted that I was right. He will apologize, but it's a politician's apology. "I'm sorry what I said upset you," or "I didn't mean to snap at you." I get so frustrated with this, and feel so emotionally threatened, that my response is often to walk away. That usually results in him getting really mad and sarcastic. Or I just start cursing because I'm so fuming mad that he is talking to me like I am a misbehaving 3 year old. So we both have issues that contribute to really poor communication. I've tried to get him to see a counselor with me to work on our communication. He insists we don't have a problem. Which leaves me with really dark thoughts that maybe the problem really isn't me.

Bleh - I'm really just venting right now. I'm still pretty pissed, worried about how M is going to deal with this tension, and sad. Some days I feel like everything is a battle I have to fight and I'm doing it completely alone. In addition to an unresolved fight, I logged on to do my taxes but ended up checking my blog reader. A couple of wonderful ladies I follow have had their rainbow babies recently. I feel terrible saying it but no matter how happy I am for them, seeing those pictures hurts like a son of a bitch. Out of all the women I met online when I lost Aiden (over 30), only two have yet to have another baby, and one of them is single. I try to comfort myself with the fact that I now have 2 beautiful children, but I still feel the loss of not being able to get pregnant. It's a really frustrating tangle of guilt, sadness, anger, jealousy, and a whole host of other ugly emotions harder to name. I'm a mess tonight!

I'm never going to get these damn taxes done. How I wish I could just take a damn day off.

I've just re-read this post and I'm cringing about how bitchy and whiny it is. There is a whole lot more I want to say about our fight that is more introspective and less selfish, but I sliced off the tip of my pinky the other day and typing is challenging. I'm tired and depressed so I'll leave the introspection to another day. If you have advice on communicating with a spouse - or how to compromise on the strictness, I'm always willing to listen. If you got through this whole post you must be a saint or really bored!

4 comments:

  1. its not a big thing but since i struggle with anger issues my husband and i have come to realize that i need a code word when the fight gets too hot for me. Once i let him know that is where i am at we are both able to cool down and not let the fight escalate any further. Sometimes the best thing in a fight is time. But you have to resolve it. I guess taking this into parenting will be to remember you are a team and that the kids need to see you as a joint fixture. Sometimes that means he is going to have to relax and go with the flow and sometimes you are going to have to make the kids do what he wants.

    Anyway, I know my son is almost one and so this isn't coming from a very experienced mom....but this is what my husband and my plan are. You asked for advice so that is my two cents.

    Good luck!

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  2. Thanks, jeanna. Good advice. We do have a code word but it only works sometimes. If someone is using what sounds like an angry tone of voice we say "snapplefish", but sometimes that person will get even angrier (guilty)! It's a work in progress. I totally agree with you about the meeting in the middle, the problem so far has been I'm the only one doing that. My husband sees no reason why he should "let the kids get away with stuff". It drives me freaking batty. The worst part is that he knows he is too strict, he's even said so, but he won't try to change it. Brick wall, meet head.

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  3. Oh, I so get it. We had lots of heated discussions after she went to bed for the first year. Now we've kind of adopted a mantar of "We might not be on the same page, but we're in the same chapter." That chapter is wanting the best for our daughter. Your husband can email my husband if he wants! Things won't get better until he realizes M is different. She has special needs and requires special parenting. It was hard for my hubby, but he gets it now. Sometimes he is even the one to step in and tell me I need to let something go now.

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  4. Urgh. I'm sorry you're dealing with this and I'm afraid I'm no help on the (additional) aspects of how best to parent your older daughter (as background, I acquired two stepkids as teens, but they had reasonably -- certainly not atypically un- -- stable backgrounds, parenting, etc. and I mostly just faded into the background (by choice) a lot of times. I mean, there were times and things I would have done differently with them and occasionally I did push on stuff but mostly I didn't want to disrupt what they were used to, so ... . And now they're grown and out on their own and I'm raising a preschooler with my DH))

    Anyway, yeah, my DH is of the more strict/yell-y flavor and I'm the more mellow/fun one (in some ways) but honestly, we each spend a fair amount of time with our son separately from one another (i.e. I'm parenting, he's at work, or vice-versa), and have just employed a "we feel differently about that," in front of our son. He (DS) also spends 1 or 2 days a week with grandma and the occasional day at his sister's house and is very accustomed to the idea that there are (somewhat) different rules at different people's houses and so on. So we have basically just taken the same approach with our parenting. I mean, there are things DS knows drive my DH crazy that I tolerate or endorse (and vice versa), so I will just say to him that it's OK to run around barefoot when I'm supervising him, but Daddy doesn't like him to do that. And we do talk about why ... that Daddy worries he might step on something that would cut his foot or get a bee sting, but I figure those things are painful, but not so bad we have to do everything in our power to avoid them, and I think DS pretty much gets it.

    I will say, though, that DH is on the same page as me on this. I mean, he doesn't agree that my policies are the "right" ones, but they are close enough to his, and/or not his problem (when DS and I are on our own) and/or he knows I'm going to do them anyway, so he just accepts this. He'll mutter and grumble, but he doesn't cause a scene. So even if you are willing to try this route ... it might not work if your DH isn't willing to have you say, in front of the kids, "It's important to DH that you put your shoes on because ..., so I agree that you should go do it now even though I think it's sometimes OK to go barefoot." This is particularly true if he then expects you alone to enforce it. I mean, I do back up my DH's policies when we are all together and following them, but not in the sense that I am the only one following through with our son to make sure stuff gets implemented.

    Geez, that was long and quite possibly not that helpful. I hope you are able to find a solution.

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