Fox 26 Viewer questions this week require working on boundaries and changing your normal reaction to conflict. It’s a common myth to believe you can change your partner. However, you can change yourself and indirectly your new behavior will motivate your partner to change.
Dear Mary Jo,
My husband has older children from previous relationships. His ex wants him back and tells the kids that if it were not for my young children and me they would have been a family again. How do I cope with jealousy towards my youngest from the oldest?
You cannot change anyone but yourself. I think in this situation it would be best if you worry less about what they think and focus more on taking care of yourself and your family. Your husband may be able to talk to his older children and encourage them to accept the younger children, but that is completely dependent on his relationship with them.
I encourage you to respect his past family and kids, but give your time and attention to your children and to your marriage. Second marriages have a higher chance of divorce due mainly to issues with children. Nurture your marriage with alone time with your husband, and rather than focusing on his ex and her bitterness, focus on your present and future together. If at any time you worry for your children’s safety, put their well being emotionally and physically as a top priority. That may require you to limit their time together with the older kids unless your husband agrees to supervision. A counselor can help you deal with these issues as well, and having a third objective party is always helpful.
Dear Mary Jo,
It doesn’t matter how we try to avoid it, my husband and I cannot stop arguing or debating every single thing. It’s overwhelming! How much is TOO MUCH bickering? I need to know how I can fix it. Or can I?
Bickered to Death Jana
For some couples, bickering is a sign of engagement and endearment, but for others it wears you down and makes you feel less close to the person. All couples argue, happy as well as miserable, but the ones who are miserable usually feel personally attacked. Here is what you have to do.
- Realize you can’t change him, but you can change yourself.
- Stop judging if what he says is right or wrong…it doesn’t matter.
- Listen more than you talk, and whenever you feel as though you need to have a comeback, take a 30 second break. Breathing helps calm your automatic impulse to reply.
- Realize you’re a team and tell him that all the time. In fact, when he tries to engage you in an argument, memorize this script: “We’re a team and I don’t want to debate or discuss who’s right or wrong. I love us more than I love to argue. We win together or we lose alone.”
The person who is most effective at ending an argument is the one who doesn’t respond.