Iron Sharpens Iron: How to Speak Up when Something’s Bugging You in Marriage

by | Jan 20, 2020 | Resolving Conflict, Uncategorized | 22 comments

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How do you ACTUALLY confront your spouse when something’s bugging you?

We’re in the middle of our iron sharpening iron series on the blog this month, where I’m talking about how marriage is supposed to make us better people. We’re supposed to grow. Yet too often Christian teaching has been taken the wrong way, to make it sound as if wanting things to get better or confronting your spouse on something that’s bugging you is somehow a sin.

In general, it really isn’t. And so today I want to get super practical and show you several examples of how to speak up when something’s bugging you.

I’m assuming here that people have goodwill towards each other.

When you got married, chances are you did so because you genuinely loved your fiance and wanted the best for him, and he genuinely loved you and wanted the best for you. If that’s not true in your case, it’s still important to speak up (unless to do so would risk harm; if so, you need to get to safety). We’ll talk next week about what to do if things still don’t change, and for those married to people with major character flaws, the advice today is unlikely to result in positive change. Most of us, however, are married to someone who does have goodwill, but who also may suffer from blind spots and laziness (as we all do), and who needs some support to fix those things

I’ve talked on the blog profusely about the importance of drawing boundaries and on asking for what you want, but sometimes people don’t understand what that looks like in real life. Here, then, are some practical examples!

They all follow a similar pattern. When you’re going to discuss something, the first thing to do is to ask for what you want. If that still doesn’t change, then you can become firmer and suggest some new ways of doing things. In general, the length of the conversation you’ll need to have is directly related to the amount of time that’s gone by. If it’s a new issue, it’s easy to have a quick conversation. If it’s a preference that has developed into a habit and has become engrained as a lifestyle, you’re going to need a lot more conversations over a longer period of time.

In general, then, it would look like this:

Starting the conversation early:

A few days in to marriage: “I don’t like this. Can this change?’

Conversation Part 2, several weeks later: “I’m worried this is a pattern that is developing in our marriage. How can we break this bad habit?”

Delaying the conversation for years: 

You’ll need several different conversations likely, focusing on these themes: “I’m sorry that I haven’t spoken up and I’ve allowed resentment to build up about this without you knowing. However, I am not willing to allow this to continue, and things need to change. Here’s what I am going to do myself, and here’s what I propose we do together. What are your thoughts?”

Now, one qualification.

Often people think that they’ve discussed an issue repeatedly, because they frequently become so upset they’ve yelled at their spouse about it.

That’s quite common:

Keep things inside–grow resentful–blow up–calm down and return to the status quo.

Because you’ve blown up, you feel as if you’ve raised the issue. But things that are raised during fights are rarely changed. Yelling is not the same thing as drawing boundaries or having consequences or even stopping putting up with certain behaviour. It’s just releasing a pressure valve without changing anything. Yelling is also profoundly disrespectful, and so people often tune out whatever points are made in yelling.

Let’s look at some specific examples now. I’ll elaborate more on the first than the rest, so that you can see how this can play out, but you’ll see the patterns!

Problem: Husband leaves laundry all over the floor and makes no effort to put it in the hamper

First week after the honeymoon: “Hey, sweetie, would you mind putting your laundry in the hamper? Let’s keep our bedroom a welcoming room to come into!”

Often that’s all it takes. Just alert your spouse to the behaviour first thing in the marriage, and it will likely take care of itself. If it doesn’t:

Several months into marriage: “Hon, I have no problem doing laundry, but I’m only going to wash what’s in the hamper.”

Then just take the clothes that don’t make it to the hamper and kick them into a pile.

What happens if you don’t do this? Often several years have gone by, and the husband stops noticing that he’s even making a mess. His stuff gets cleaned up automatically, so he finds it easy to be lazy (see this hilarious “Magic Coffee Table” YouTube video on this; it does have a bit of swearing so I won’t embed it, but it gets the point across). This laziness likely extends to other areas of his life (and the house), and he likely doesn’t see how much his wife feels taken for granted.

After it’s become a big problem:

“Honey, we need to talk. First, I need to own my part of this problem. I’ve been really bothered by something for years, and I haven’t really spoken up about it. Sometimes I get so frustrated I just yell about everything, but I’ve never just sat down and had a real conversation about this. I’m sorry about that, because I’ve allowed resentment to grow. But I now want to deal with this. I feel as if you take me for granted. I am constantly cleaning up after you, and it feels as if you don’t treat me with respect. When you leave dirty underwear and socks everywhere, it signals to me, ‘Picking up this stuff is beneath me, so I’ll just let my wife do it and she can wash everything and put it away for me.’ That’s really bothering me. If we’re going to have a good marriage, I need to feel as if you respect me. And so here’s what I’m going to do from now on: I will gladly do the laundry, but I will no longer clean anything that isn’t put in the hamper first. I think that’s reasonable. Again, I wish I had spoken up earlier, but I’d like to move towards a relationship where we can share more freely. Are there things that I’m doing that have caused some resentment? Because I’d like to deal with that as well.”

Problem: Husband plays video games for hours at a time, ignoring his other responsibilities

Early Days: “Hon, you’ve been gaming for 4 hours and the trash people came and recycling didn’t go out this week. That’s not okay with me.”

Several weeks in: “Hon, this is becoming a real problem, and I know this isn’t what you want for your life or for our marriage. Let’s sit down and figure out what the appropriate boundaries around gaming should be.”

Examples might be: creating a list of chores and tasks that have to be done before the game comes on; time of day when you’ll game; what types of games you can play; etc. Rebecca and Connor, for instance, have a rule that no game that can’t be paused starts after 9:45 pm.

After it’s become a big problem:

Start with apologizing for not speaking up sooner, as above.

“This has become a completely untenable situation. It is inconsiderate for you to continue to choose gaming over appropriate adult responsibilities, and it needs to stop. I would like to sit down and create some rules for boundaries around gaming, because I know this isn’t how you want to spend your life, either. I recognize that since this has been going on for so long, it’s going to be hard to change, so let’s talk about how I can make it easier for you. Let’s work on this together–but we do need to do something, because we can’t go on like this.”


For more help in this area, please see:


Problem: Wife leaves the kitchen–indeed the whole house–a mess, and the husband spends a lot of time cleaning up after everyone else

Early days: “Hey, hon, we share a space now, and I find it hard to live with this amount of mess. When you’re done in a room, can you tidy up before you leave that room?”

Several weeks in: “We obviously have a different idea of what our home should be like, but I’m finding it very difficult to live in this mess. Let’s talk about what our standards for housework should be, and set up a routine so that chores can be maintained.”

And then just talk about it and make some chore lists. It could be that he has a much higher standard than is practical, and he may have to compromise, too. But that’s where talking comes in!

Several years in:

Apologize for not speaking up earlier and own your part of the problem. Then say:

“I find living in the house the way it is discouraging and stressful. I think that we should each get free time in the marriage, and yet I am spending my free time cleaning up messes that you have made, and that needs to stop. I realize this would have been easier to address earlier, but what would make it easier now for you to clean up? Do we need to downsize? Get rid of stuff? Let’s sit down and figure out chore charts, routines, and what needs to change.”


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Do You Have a Difficult Time Standing up to your Husband?

God wants us aiming for His will. That sometimes will mean that we need to confront our husbands when they’re doing something wrong.

Struggle with how to do that? Are boundaries a difficult concept for you? 9 Thoughts can help!

Problem: Wife talks to her mother constantly, and confides in the mom more than the husband

(this one can go the other way around just as easily, but you’ll get the principle here)

Early days: “It hurts me when you tell your mom stuff before you tell me. It makes me feel that you’re not leaning on me for support, and that’s my job as your husband. It would mean a lot if you would make an effort to tell me important things first.”

Several weeks in: “I’ve been feeling more alienated from you because I feel as if you talk to your mom more than you talk to me. I don’t want to feel like I’m your second choice. Let’s put limits on the time of day that you will talk to your mom and preserve our couple time together.”

Several years in:

Apologize for not speaking up earlier and own your part of the problem. Then say:

“I’ve let this distance grow between us, and I regret that. We need to rebuild our marriage and feel connected again, and I’d like to look at ways we can do this. One thing that’s important to me is that we each feel as if the other is our main source of support. I feel as if you turn to your mom more than me, and to feel connected in our marriage, I need that to change. I would like to put limits on when you’ll talk to your mom, and carve out time just for us.”

Now, cutting spouses off from family members and friends can be a sign of controlling behaviour, and that’s not what we’re talking about here. We’re simply saying, let’s reserve a few hours of the night when we only talk to each other, and let’s make sure we prioritize the marriage relationship. If your spouse is cutting you off from family, this post on a controlling spouse is better for you.

Problem: Spouse spends too much money frivolously and won’t stick to a budget

Early days: “I notice there are some charges on the credit card that are really high, and I’m worried about our spending. I’d like to make a budget.”

Several weeks in: “I know that we come into marriage with different ideas about money, but I believe that being responsible means that we have a budget and that we have financial goals. Can we sit down tonight and make a budget and decide how much is reasonable to spend on ourselves?

Several years in:

Apologize for not speaking up earlier and own your part of the problem. Then say:

“I am feeling increasingly stressed because we are going so far into debt, and after a few years of marriage, we have nothing to show for all the work we’ve done. I can’t live with this level of stress anymore, and I want things to change. We need to make a budget and have our spending money be in cash, so that we don’t wrack up debt each month. If we’re going to continue to share finances, I need to know that we’re being good stewards, we have a plan, and we’re making progress.”

Note: this can be quite a serious problem, and we’ll talk more next week about what to do if this doesn’t change.

It’s much easier to speak up earlier than to let things fester.

Problem: Husband doesn’t call to let wife know when he’s working late, and the wife often doesn’t know where he is

First days in: “Hey, I was worried about you when you came home so late. Please text or call me when you’re going to be late!”

Several weeks in: “I worry when I don’t know where you are, and I find it hard to plan dinner when I don’t know when you’ll be home. Can we talk about your work schedule and how we’ll prioritize our marriage with your schedule? And I don’t want to wait indefinitely for dinner, so I’ll be eating every night at 6:45, and I hope you’ll be home to join me.”

Several years in:

Apologize for not speaking up earlier and own your part of the problem. Then say:

“I am feeling increasingly like the last thing on  your priority list when you don’t let me know where you are or when you’ll be home. It’s as if you expect us to wait for you for dinner, but you don’t have the courtesy to let us know when that will be. I can’t continue to live in limbo like this. I think we need to sit down and figure out how to arrange our schedules so that we prioritize our marriage and so that you have time with the kids. I’d like to make sure, too, that we all eat dinner together as a family at least 3 times a week. Let’s figure out what those days will be.”


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What you’ll notice from all of these examples is that it’s much easier to speak up earlier than to let things fester.

The earlier you speak up, the easier it is to deal with a problem. When you don’t speak up, you implicitly give your approval to the behaviour you don’t like. That means that behaviour is far more likely to happen again. Not just that, but you set the thermostat to a new “normal” in your marriage. Your spouse will likely keep moving in that direction until they face resistance (as we talked about in the first post about iron sharpening iron, people don’t change direction until something happens to prompt that). It’s much easier to make a small issue about a small thing early in the marriage than it is to have that small thing become a big thing after a few years!

Speaking up doesn’t mean that you’re being disrespectful. On the contrary, it’s actually respectful of someone to expect behaviour that is good, reasonable, and healthy, and it’s respectful to share your concerns rather than letting yourself become bitter.

But what if you do this, and still nothing changes? We’ll talk about that next week in the conclusion to our series!

Do you find it difficult to speak up in your marriage? Let’s talk in the comments!


 

What are your thoughts? Let’s talk in the comments below!

Like this post so far? You should also check out:

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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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22 Comments

  1. Laura

    Excellent points, Shelia!
    These conversations should probably start when you’re dating. In fact, I would encourage women to disagree with the person they’re dating at least once or twice. If you are dating a narcissist, you might find out earlier rather than later. They can’t handle being confronted.
    Next- early in my marriage, I thought, “how would I handle conflict with a co-worker?” Then I would try for that tone. It was only after reading L&R that I began to coddle my hubby like he was a fragile toddler… And not like an adult who could manage polite confrontation. I did him a disservice by thinking he couldn’t manage everyday, normal, slight, & loving corrections.
    My husband struggled with confronting me more than I did with him. He hates conflict. I would actually beg him to go ahead and point out issues for me because I didn’t want to be blind to his needs.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      This is a really good point about dating, Laura. If a couple has never had a disagreement, it likely means that people haven’t been bringing up the things that bug you. And then you have no idea whether or not the person is open to confrontation. Narcissists definitely aren’t, and if, every time you bring up something, the other person tells you you’re wrong or you don’t have a right to feel that way, that’s a big red flag.

      Reply
  2. Meghan

    Good stuff! Any advice for what to do when the problem behavior is a symptom of anxiety and depression? My husband is going through therapy and is on medication but it’s a long process to heal and he still gets periods where he’s too tired to do anything so all the burden of the entire household, including caring for our feisty toddler, falls on me pretty frequently.
    Most of the time I can deal with it but I do get overwhelmed. And it’s so hard to address when it’s really not something he can control and he’s already trying to get better and feels so guilty already.
    He’s a good man and loves us dearly and works hard in a physically demanding job to provide for us. But I also work full time and train for races and I could really use more consistent help.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s so tough, Meghan! A few quick things: I hope he’s seeing a licensed therapist, too? Or a psychiatrist? And likely you’d benefit from both of you going together occasionally (though I know it’s so hard to find the time when you’re already overburdened!).
      Ask for help from others where you can. That’s okay. It really is.
      Even if he doesn’t help with the house, he can clean up his own things so that he doesn’t create more work for you.
      Really try to affirm him when he’s trying, even if your life is still tough. Bring as much positivity to the marriage as you can, because you don’t want to add to the guilt. But you can also turn it around so that it becomes something where he can have a “win”. Something like: “Hon, I know you’re doing your very best, and I want you to know, I have no problem being the one responsible for cleaning the kitchen/doing meals. I want you to take the time you need to get better. But when you do pick up your clothes and put them in the hamper, and when you do put your lunch away, that speaks volumes to me that you see me, too. Thank you.” do you know what I mean? Give him a way he can “win”, even if he can’t do everything right now. And hopefully this season will pass soon! It is tough.

      Reply
      • Meghan

        Yes he is seeing a licensed therapist. She’s using EMDR to address all the trauma he’s been through. It’s a lot and it takes a long time but he will come out the other side much better. She also helped me process my traumatic birth with the same method.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Oh, that’s great! I’ve heard so many people say that EMDR had such a great effect on dealing with trauma. I hope it really helps him–and you!

          Reply
  3. Anon

    I’ve only had a couple of disagreements with my fiance so far, but one thing that has really helped us is PRAYING! We had a major disagreement (major as in big difference of opinion, not major as in shouting and yelling!) a few months after we started dating and another around the time of our engagement, and both times, we prayed about it together and separately, that God would show us the right path – and he did. And I think those disagreements actually brought us closer together as a result.
    A couple of times, there’s been something that concerns me and I’m not sure if I should raise it or if it is me over-reacting. So I’ve prayed about it. And a few days later, he’s raised the issue and either said he’s planning to do what I hoped he would or else he’s asked me what I think about it, giving me the perfect opportunity to share my thoughts.
    I do set a ‘time limit’ on these things, asking God to either have my fiance raise the topic or that it will no longer bother me by a set time, and committing to the Lord that I will raise the issue if neither of those things happen (because I am someone who hates conflict and would naturally pray about something for months rather than speak up!) But it’s amazing how many times I don’t have to say anything because one of those two things have happened by the ‘deadline’!

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Such a good word! Thank you.

      Reply
  4. Flo

    Great points! I think it is also very important when something has been fixed to notice and mention it. “Thank you for fixing the issue with X that I talked to you about, it really makes a big difference.”

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, I love this! Yes, indeed. We should all be calling out things to thank our spouse for. As I said in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, when you deliberately look for things to praise your spouse for, you notice those things more. And that takes up more of your mental space, too!

      Reply
  5. Doug

    One thing I have done to help eliminate some of the discord that can come about in a marriage, is to just recognize that we are different. I can, and have focused on those things that really drove me crazy. For the last 5 years, I have just taken it on myself to do them. In the past, dishes in the sink have always bothered me. I never really said anything, but I have to confess it stirred a certain amount of resentment. Now, when I see them, I just take a moment and wash them. After dinner, I generally go straight from the table to the kitchen sink. I know it blesses her, and it takes something that used to be a problem for me and eliminates it altogether. I am sure some are probably thinking that I should do so anyways, so what is the big deal. The truth is that I work as much as 80-85 hours a week in construction, when you add in my random commute. We are empty nesters, so she really doesn’t have anything that has to be done other than cleaning and cooking. I could handle her workload in a few hours every day.
    The truth is there are many ways she blesses me but she is simply not as tidy as I am, and it is easier for me to do myself. When I first began doing so, she took it as a critique, and would get defensive. Now, she might get a little bit defensive about it, and say something like “You don’t have to do that”, and I just respond that I know I don’t have to, but I want to.
    One benefit to it, is that often she will join me and one of us will wash and the other dry.
    Some things just are not worth fussing about.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great point, Doug, and one that I brought up in 9 Thoughts That Can Change Your Marriage, too. See, I pick up Keith’s clothes off the floor at the same time as I pick up my own. It really isn’t a big deal to me. But that’s because it’s not indicative of a bigger issue in the relationship. If there’s a bigger issue that this is a symptom of (like disrespect or being taken for granted), then it likely should be dealt with. If it’s a small thing that doesn’t bother you that much that you don’t mind doing, then by all means, let it go!
      My only caution is this: often those who shy away from conflict rationalize to themselves, “It’s not that big a deal.” But after 10 years of doing it, day in and day out, and seeing your spouse grow more selfish, it becomes a big deal. Whereas if it had been dealt with simply, at the very beginning, it never would have grown that big.
      So we have to use discernment, yes. And overlooking small things is often a good strategy. But it’s not always, especially if you’re a people pleaser. Some people gravitate towards saying nothing, and in the long run, that doesn’t always serve your marriage. So ask yourself: Is this part of a wider problem that shows disrespect/bad behaviour in the relationship? Is this something I can live with happily for the rest of my life? Is this something where I can simply bless my spouse, or is this something where I may cement a bad habit in my spouse? Is this something that easily could be let go, or is this something which honestly is serious (being out late at night and not calling is serious; being home for dinner late when the kids are waiting without communicating is serious, overspending is serious, becoming enmeshed with your mom is serious).
      So very much Christian information says just what you’ve said: Let it go. What I’m trying to provide this month is a counterbalance, especially when “let it go” doesn’t work or ends up making things worse.

      Reply
      • Doug

        I understand what you are saying, and I don’t disagree. After more than 30 years, in this particular issue, it was easier to re-train myself than it was to confront and try to re-train her.
        I really don’t know of it is a good idea in general, but for me, it made a noticable difference. It was something I did “for her” initially, and I came to see the benefit for me and for us later.

        Reply
  6. Hannah

    It really is better to nip things in the bud. I had a roommate relationship go south before I was married because we all had awful communication skills and I especially let resentment build up instead of using my words to ask for what I needed. I swore I’d never do that again, and so far I’ve done pretty well.
    We’ve actually had some of the problems you listed and have mostly worked through them (I say mostly because some just resolved on their own). I have to put in a word for the gentle reminder strategy though, because sometimes that’s the way to go. We had the socks in the hamper problem when we were first married, and it took many, many reminders for him to put things in the hamper. He does now! Interestingly, I’ve gotten messier and he’s gotten tidier, lol. But I knew he was trying to do it and wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, so the second and third (and tenth and twelfth) conversations went more like, “Babe, don’t forget to put the socks in the hamper” rather than really upping the seriousness. He already felt bad; there was no need to rub it in. So just something to think about for those like me who have really good-hearted spouses who are trying their hardest!

    Reply
  7. Nick

    Really good and practical steps. I’d like to know how you would couch/phrase a similar process around the lack of intimacy and affection in a marriage. And one that includes a spouse who suffered past abuse. It’s one thing to put a boundary down around laundry, dishes or helping with the kids…but quite another when it comes to significant pain and brokenness that was not a choice of the abused.
    A 20 year pattern in a marriage of no affection will certainly take multiple and long conversations together. But how does the spouse who feels unloved address the affection issue and set boundaries yet be compassionate and extend grace to the hurting spouse? Whenever I have tried this I’ve been labeled selfish and only concerned with what I want.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Keith and I are actually going to address that on next week’s podcast, Nick. I think the thing to stress isn’t just your needs, but also her own recovery. She’s meant to live in wholeness, and she’s not doing that if she isn’t addressing the sexual trauma. Talking to her about the necessity of getting help is really the biggest step I think, and especially couching it in terms of what is good for her, too.

      Reply
      • Nick

        Ok great. I’ll look for that next week. 2 other quick points. No response needed.
        – I’ve tried that conversation before and the response is “I can’t be healed. This can’t be fixed.”
        – what if same sex attraction is a factor? I do not know that to be the case…but it sure would explain a lot. But if so…what then? Perhaps nothing at all would change. Same tactics would apply. But perhaps not.

        Reply
  8. AspenP

    Very practical advice Sheila! You also nailed it that people-pleasers excuse/shrug off too much and then grow resentful over time as selfishness in their spouse grows. Accurate.

    Reply
  9. Mary

    I have trouble bringing up issues in our 28-1/2 year marriage because I have a “good girl” complex from childhood, but when I do bring something up, there’s often no admission of contribution on my husband’s side. He rarely admits fault, and rarely says he is sorry. I have presented issues in a similar format to the way you demonstrate, but modified a bit as I have been taught in counseling to give credit & admiration for something related to the issue at the beginning and at the end (to edify, build up), then present the issue, my contribution to the problem, a result of the problem, and my request. My husband doesn’t typically take responsibility for his role; it is just me “complaining.” The issue is not really discussed, just aired and dropped. If I have offended him and apologize, we must discuss it and he will still frequently hold a grudge. We have been in couples’ counseling for a few months, but this is still a problem.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Oh, that is tough, Mary! But I’m curious as to why you apologize for “offending” him, if you’ve simply brought up something that is bugging you? That’s okay to do, and you don’t need to apologize for it. It may be worth trying to be more assertive: “Honey, this is an issue, and I’m not going to let it go, because we need to talk about it, and our marriage is important.” I know that’s tough, but you can stand your ground! That may be a good thing to bring up with counselors.

      Reply
  10. Anna Scott

    Hi! My husband is Type 8 and I’m Type 2 on the Enneagram. I think I read you are familiar, so this will give you a picture of our dynamic 😉 He can be very loving and tender towards me, but sometimes he can also be critical and offer biting comments, sometimes more with the tone that the topic. For example, “ugh, where are the scissors, why do you always put them in the dishwasher!” Or “why is there still no towel to dry hands in the washroom”… these seem small, and of course I understand that I can easily solve these. However, I find it’s becoming more a case of me trying to prevent these comments by trying to anticipate what might frustrate him and trying to proactively not do these things. In this way it is actually heightening my anxiety and it doesn’t even actually work because inevitably there will be something else I miss!
    To further clarify, I find these comments happen more when we have my stepson, which is about 30% of the time. I’m sure it is partly that my husband is more irritable and tired, but it is also causing me to feel anxious when my stepson is coming over because I’m anticipating these exchanges and distance between my husband and I, which is not typically present.
    I’m wondering if I could try something like, “I notice more critical comments towards me lately with regards to household tasks and I don’t want this to continue. When (stepson) is here, what can I do to give you more time since I notice these comments more during these times? I want to feel a good and loving rapport between the 2 of us”
    Happy to hear your thoughts! Anna

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think that’s a very good idea, Anna! The other thing that you can do is, in the moment, reply with, “You seem angry that I put the scissors in the dishwasher.” Or “You seem angry that there is no towel in the bathroom.” Like, just state the fact, and then he can either dig in or back down a bit. But it allows him to see how he is acting in the moment, which he may not notice. (With the scissor thing, for instance, you could say, “what do you think the proper solution is when the scissors are dirty?” ) But I think it’s also important that your stepson see you standing up for yourself firmly but kindly.
      If you feel like doing this would make things worse, then that really isn’t a healthy marriage dynamic, and I’d recommend seeing a licensed counselor. But sometimes just verbalizing the dynamic in the moment can help him see what he’s doing!

      Reply

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