Week 1: Ask the Expert Column- Marriage and Family Therapist

Q 1: How does one navigate the waters of wanting a second child but husband thinks we are too old? For reference, I turned 38 last week:-)

First of all, it’s important to validate each persons feelings.  Having children is a lifelong decision. Validating how the other feels will allow each of you to be seen and heard.  From this place try to be an empathetic listener instead of a defensive listener. Having your rebuttal ready before the other is about to express their feelings and desires is already creating a barrier in connection.  Actually taking a deep breath, opening your heart to what they have to say, considering how they feel then reflecting back to the other how you interpret opens YOU up to actually be empathetic and part of their process. Sometimes this actually can change how you or your partner feels towards the other.  Bring in the practical piece of childrearing, age, finances, daycare and explore the impact on your relationship. So you are both not defending and fighting from your stance, make your marriage and connection the priority and the content below that. This means you are putting your love for one another and your commitment to your family first.  Stay open and inviting, stay loving and kind, stay thoughtful of how you feel and the other person feels. You will disagree about many things in relationship, however understanding the reasons, meaning and FEELINGS deep below the decision to have or not have a child will hopefully bring you closer in the final decision. There is no easy answer for this!  

Q 2: My husband and I just had our 3rd child so our house is total chaos and such a mess. Usually I handle almost all the cleaning because I’m home during the day, but I can’t now that so much of my time is spent with the baby. When I ask my husband to do chores (beyond the simple take out the garbage) he thinks I am nagging or interrupting his well unearned relaxation time. How do I gently nudge him to help or should I just relax my standards a bit until my baby is older and not so needy?
A–Great question, and this shows up a lot in my office.  I recommend both of you relax the standards a but while you are rearing 3 children.  Things change, and kids are a lot of work.  Understanding the message, or how you interpret his actions are important.  What does it mean to you EMOTIONALLY when he does or doesn’t help?  Do you equate help with I care about you, I appreciate you, I want to help you, etc?  This will be personal for you.  Speak from here and not about chores.  For example: “I need your help doing things around the house. When you help it makes me FEEL appreciated and less alone.”
Couples can argue a lot about content, but it’s hard to argue with feelings. You both deserve relaxation time, so offering a trade off solution is helpful.  You each get X hours of quiet downtime a day / week and you each contribute x hours to cleaning, picking up, etc. a day / week.  Because he thinks you are nagging, I’m led to believe  something deeper is happening for him emotionally.  Without knowing you, it’s hard to say what this is.  Usually it can be interpreted as “You don’t value me, You’re telling me again I’m not good enough, I don’t feel seen or heard, etc.”  I suggest you explore how you make each other feel inside and talk less about the chores.  Work on your connection of love, emotional support, validating one another and trust first. Hopefully that will ease the burden of you taking on too much and him not wanting to take on things because you are understanding the emotional impact of each other’s actions.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *