Husbands are people too

In a nutshell: progress with the girls has been pretty steady. Progress with my husband? Not so much. He was willing to take the course with me (yay!) and he nodded his head as much as I did while Vicki spoke. But his memory of that day is fading, and what is there to take its place? His old ways of course. They are much easier to remember. Ten years of practice can’t compete with a 1-day workshop.

The only way I’ve been able to change any of my old habits is to consciously study and practice everyday, everyday, everyday. Hard work! But it’s getting easier now, and I see the results and I know where they’re coming from, and that keeps me going. Jerry doesn’t make those connections as much because his memory of the logic and rationale for these new strategies is fuzzy at best. The other day he said, “Charlotte has really come a long way. Maybe it’s because of the work you’re doing …” Maybe?!!!!!!! I wanted to yell. The work I’M doing?!!!!!!! What happened to WE?! Have you completely given up on yourself???

Sigh. Actually, I have a hunch what happened to the “we.” While I was retraining myself to stop micromanaging the girls, I started micromanaging Jerry instead. To be fair, he did say he needed my help, that he wanted my coaching and my reminders to help him change his ways. But after months of my stop-and-think-about-it stares, and my can-I-talk-to-you-for-a-minute lectures, he has had enough. His openness to my coaching is now clogged with a big glob of I-can’t-do-anything-right frustration.

So what to do? Two words: back off. Just like I’ve done with the girls. No more stares and glares, no more intervening. He took the course, he read the booklet, he sees what I’m doing, it’s up to him now. I really, really wanted / expected / was excited for us to be on the same page with all of this. But that may not be possible. It’s time to let go. After all, he’s really no different than the girls. I can take what I’ve learned with them and apply it to Jerry:

  • Focus on the positive
  • Notice effort and improvement
  • Cut out reminding, nagging, scolding, lecturing, fixing …

…and remember that those Crucial C’s work with grown-ups too.

This is not easy. Without my running interference, he’s already regressed, especially with Charlotte. Last night at dinner she had her volume turned up. As I went into ignore mode he said, “Charlotte?! We’re trying to talk and have a nice quiet dinner and you are yelling and talking too loud and it’s hurting my ears …” etc. etc. And to that she looked right at him and replied, “You are being a bad dad!” Then later as I was folding laundry, I heard him talking again to Charlotte who was supposed to be upstairs getting ready for bed: “Why are you in here? … This is unacceptable … Out! Get out, now!” I cringed and took a deep breath, but did nothing. Just let myself feel sad, and then moved on.

This felt like a big change and I needed to be honest with the girls about it. So I explained to each one of them what was going on: “Yes, daddy took the class with me, and he liked it too, but he’s tired of all my reminders so I’m going to stop. And so he might start saying and doing things he hasn’t done in a while. The most important thing to remember if dad gets angry is that it’s not your fault, and it’s not about you. His anger is his problem, not yours.” Charlotte just quietly hugged me. Ellen asked, “Can I remind him?” I said yes. And Fenner’s comment was, “Ok, if he yells I’ll just do like I do with Charlotte and walk away.” You go girl.

helpersMeanwhile, this shift motivated me to do what I’ve been wanting to do for a long time: Make a poster for our bedroom that I see every day with all the ideas and principles I want to remember — that help me stay on track. And if Jerry looks at it too, so much the better. And the best part was I invited the girls to help me. (“Invite” is one of the words on the poster…actually we needed 2 posters to fit it all!)

poster1poster2

So I’m hopeful that letting go will be better for everyone. Yes, I want my girls to have the best possible relationship with their dad. And I’ll help in any way I can. But I’m not in charge of that, and I’m certainly not in control of it. And if Jerry and I can’t always be on the same page, then I’ll foster as much honesty and communication about it as possible.

I can’t keep it perfect, but I can work to keep it real.

Explore posts in the same categories: Weeks following: Miscellaneous

5 Comments on “Husbands are people too”

  1. Vicki Says:

    I just want you to know – you are not alone. I know you understand the gift you are sharing. I know you understand the lives you are touching. And I know you know how grateful I am to have met you. Thank you.

  2. Andy Grab Says:

    First of all, many thanks for your blogs. A year plus later you have folks like me reading and learning from them! As time permits I’ve been backtracking your blogs as well as listening to Vicki’s latest CD’s. I be the Jerry in my houshold, being old school but slowly digesting these ideas and concepts. I’ve resigned myself to going through your blogs a second time to actually take notes! It’s a never-ending continual process this parenting thing. PS – you should sell your parenting posters… what a great short summary of key concepts!! Many thanks….

    • flockmother Says:

      Thank you so much for your encouraging words and I’m so glad my chronicles have been helpful. As you say, it truly is a never-ending process. And although my posts are much fewer now, I’m always thinking about what I might write next, and comments like yours keep me going. Good luck on your journey and feel free to ask questions anytime.

  3. Janis Says:

    Although I’ve ready nearly all of your posts, for this one, in particular, thank you. We’re starting our week of DnSn a week from today & I’m nervous, excited, scared, & thrilled. Hubby is just kinda “meh, seems like a long time. Can’t we just do 2-3 days?”. To his credit though, he’s nearly finished reading Duct Tape Parenting. We’ll get where we want to be. Together. Maybe just not arriving at the same times. 🙂 Thanks for writing this blog. It makes this whole process feel REAL.


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