Fighting With Husband Over Parenting: Different Parenting Styles Ruining Marriage

Many couples get along famously in their courtship and early marriage, but suddenly find themselves hitting a brick wall when a child is born. As it turns out they did have at least one area where there are major disagreements, and that's in parenting. And it can be devastating.

All of us have very deep parenting beliefs about how children should be raised. For example, some believe that children need lots of discipline, control and discipline and others that children need to learn from experimentation and self-regulation.

Where Do Our Parenting Beliefs Come From?

We form our beliefs about parenting based on many influences, including the model of our parents, religious messages, observations of others, the media and our own private conclusions.

"The Truth" About Parenting and Children

By the time we are adults we have built a strong set of beliefs about parenting and children. It is usually so strong that it seems like The Truth, the one and only Truth. It just feels like the "natural way to think."

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Then Along Comes Mary, or Joe

Then along comes this person you love, and you can't wait to have children. You just assume things will be great. That's because you both know what "The Truth" is and how could someone have a different opinion, especially someone you love? Doesn't always turn out like that!

When there's major disagreement on parenting, it can cut the marriage apart very quickly and even permanently. It can feel like a total betrayal. Here is this person I agree with and love and now they have a different view on something so important as parenting?

How to Save the Marriage When You Disagree About Parenting

If you find yourself in the distressing and potentially marriage ending position of having fundamental disagreements about parenting your children, I have two things to say. First, it doesn't have to be the end, and second you need to act fast and act now to head off further problems.

This problem will not go away by itself!

Four Steps to Save The Marriage

You must take four steps to save the marriage right now. I call those steps "LOVE," which is an acronym. "L" is for like; "O" is for openness; "V" is for value; and "E" is for encourage.


The first thing to do immediately is to learn how to like your partner's parenting beliefs and actions.

You may not fully 100% agree with them, but you do need to find some things about them to genuinely like. Take out pencil and paper and write down 10 things you can honestly say you like about your partner's parenting beliefs and style.

Make it real, not phony. This is the most important step!

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Be Open

As hard as it might be to accept, you do not have "The Truth" about parenting or child rearing. You have some important views and much to offer, but what you believe is not the one and only Truth. If you insist on believing that, you and your partner are never going to see eye to eye, as long as he or she is true to what he or she believes is Truth.

Make a list of the parenting beliefs and actions (such as around discipline) that you are willing to be flexible about. List 10 things that you need to be willing to accept that your partner believes. This will go a long way to creating a positive agreement between you.

Give Value

If you really believe in your parenting approach, find ways to help your partner see the value. Don't argue about what you do, just quietly and honestly contribute actions which show the value of your beliefs and that don't aggressively challenge your partner.

What can you do that will help bring positive and valuable results in raising your children, but that won't attack your partner? Make a list of 10 actions and then begin to gently but firmly try them out. Remember, they may or may not be helpful, so fall back to Step 2, Be Open.


Your partner is trying to do his or her best by the children! And this is based on his or her best-formed beliefs up to this point. So whenever you see an opportunity to praise or encourage your partner with the children, do so. Praise and encouragement go a long way toward re-establishing warm connection between you.

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Conflicts in marriage are endemic. Because this is a union of two distinct individuals each with his or her own likes, dislikes, prejudices and pet peeves, conflicts are built into the marriage packet. As the famous evangelist Billy Graham once said, "For a married couple to expect perfection in each other is unrealistic. The unblemished ideal exists only in 'happily-ever-after' fairy tales. 'Happily incompatible' is a good adjustment."

No human relationship can exist in a permanent state of happiness, and conflicts need not be viewed as a sign of instability or impending rupture of marriage. Couples need to master the art of quarreling constructively and resolving all conflicts positively. A mature approach will increase understanding and trust, and strengthen their relationship. However this depends on their level of commitment to each other.

Areas of conflict:
o Finance: In this consumer-oriented society of today, money or the lack of it can lead to conflict. Spouses have different spending habits. Overspending or unnecessary spending by one partner can upset the family budget, leaving less money for essentials. Entertainment, alcohol, consumer goods can eat into one's pocket. Similarly miserliness will also trigger conflict.
o When the needs, wants and desires of one partner are not met, there is a tendency to be irritable or argumentative over trifles.
o Domination: When one partner is excluded from the decisions that affect them both, friction is bound to arise. Similarly, procrastination by one partner on issues that need urgent decisions can be annoying.
o In-laws: Too much interference or over dependence of in-laws can become a bone of contention. Unfair references and comparisons lead to quarrels.
o Children: Different styles of parenting or lack of proper parenting skills can result in heated arguments.
o Sex: Husbands and wives have exclusive conjugal rights over their partners. Depriving a spouse of normal sexual activity creates tension in the relationship.
o Working wives: Some women with high tech jobs may not have quality time to spend with husband and children. Stress, fatigue or overwork can sap them of strength and put them in an irritable frame of mind.
o Habits: Drinking, smoking, gambling or drug taking are frequent causes of conflict.
o Social activities. Time consuming parties or games leave very little time to spend with each other.
o Physical and emotional abuse.
o Self-centeredness.
o Secrecy: Keeping important secrets from each other is a breach of trust.
o Infidelity.

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The mark of a good marriage is not the absence of conflict, but how each partner deals with the problem. Conflict is like an ember with the potential to spark into a flame, and if not doused in time, can blaze into a conflagration. The foremost thing to remember is that it is not a battle between enemies. It is just a disagreement between spouses who have promised to love and cherish each other till the end of their lives.

"Many marriages would be better if both husband and wife realize that they are on the same side," says Zig Ziglar.
The aim must be to diffuse the situation by proper resolution, so that it does not crop up again and again.

There are two options available.
1.The Negative Approach which will generate hostility.
2.The Positive Approach which will make the bonds of marriage stronger.

Negative Approach:
- One partner personalizes the problem and treats it as an attack. Women are more prone to this approach. They withdraw into themselves and wallow in self pity. Withdrawal may be physical, sexual or emotional. Breach of communication follows. This is a dangerous trend. A trivial problem festers in the mind until it assumes gigantic proportions.
- Angry reactions like yelling, crying, abuse, sarcasm, insults or even violence are disastrous. The idea obviously is to hurt the other person while defending one's self in the blame game.

As Broderick said, "Couples who vent their anger and do nothing to get at its cause and cure are committing marital suicide."

Positive Approach:
1. Couples should never communicate when angry. They should first think things over calmly by themselves and then discuss the issue. Privacy is important. Discussions should not take place in the presence of their children or relatives, but in a quiet place where there will be no interruptions. They must bear in mind at all times that they are allies and not adversaries. There must be eye contact throughout the discussion. Respect for each other's feelings is important. So the tone of voice and body language must be appropriate. Listening carefully to the other's point of view is showing respect. Questions and clarifications are in order. It is also a time to share one's genuine hurts and frustrations. Generalizations like 'You always find fault' or 'You never listen' are not helpful.

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2. The core issue must be tackled. It is important to define and discuss only the problem that started the conflict. Is the problem repetitive? Is there a recurring pattern? If so, why has the problem not been resolved before? There should be no deviation into unrelated issues. Old problems must not be dredged up and recycled to score a point.

3. Finance can be a contentious subject. Bad financial habits must be mended. Budgeting one's income is important. If expenses go beyond the budgeted amount, there should be a discussion on how best to make good the deficit. Honest conversations about purchases, savings and overspending will help. It might require lowering one's standard of living or finding other ways of income generation.

4. Sex is an important aspect of marriage. Withholding sex by one partner as a means of punishing the other, is hurtful. Sex enhances intimacy and reconciliation.

5. Spouses must take responsibility for their contribution to the problem. They should be willing to change their behaviour if necessary. Owning up faults and admitting their weaknesses will diffuse tension. Sometimes it may even be necessary to give into the partner's wishes, even though not fully agreeable. It is important to focus on what is right and not on who is right. Compromise is by no means weakness. It reflects strength and helps resolve the problem permanently.

6. Forgiveness is the most important salve that will heal the hurt of conflict. Couples should be generous in forgiving each other's faults. It may not be easy, but it is always better to get it over with and move on.

Conflicts in marriage are inevitable. Fault finding and negativity can destroy and tear apart relationships. 'Let not the sun go down upon your wrath,' advises Scripture. With proper communication, tolerance and commitment, most conflicts can be resolved.

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THREENESS IN MARRIAGE: Why is it that so many relationships struggle and ultimately breakdown?

ANSWER: the core of the issue is a lack of commitment, given that marriage really is a series of day-after-day commitments - every single day. Even to the point that a couple can put a bad day behind them and start afresh. The essence of biblical marriage can be summarised in Ecclesiastes 4:9-12... where there is unity there is strength... and the unity of two is never stronger when they both abide in God-the third strand of a cord that is not easily broken. Marriage is a choice to join to another person, so your own needs are no longer primary - theirs are, as far as you're personally concerned. Marriage is its best when both partners do this.

IDEALISM: Why do relationships falter then?

ANSWER: both partners need to be realistic and committed to making the relationship work. Idealism sets up expectations that can't possibly be satisfied. It only leads to frustration for both partners. At core, idealism is about my needs being met. It never thinks in terms of unity or partnership.

KNOWING OUR PARTNER: you say that knowing our partner is essential to a satisfying relationship. When we marry don't we know our partner enough already?

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ANSWER: my experience suggests that we cannot truly know our partner until we've spent years together-living together, day by day, negotiating the cut and thrust of conflict, learning to seek to understand them, to forgive them, to accept them as they are.

Until we know our partner we seek to change them. We should never seek to change them. Our challenge is we must accept them. That's very often a learning process. It takes time. It takes patience. So, when we finally accept our partner, and no longer need to change them, we know them. Then our partner feels safe in the marriage. Both partners need to feel safe, accepted and acceptable in marriage. Our number one objective in marriage should be for our partner to feel safe in the relationship - safe so, in their person, they can flourish.

SEEING CONFLICT AS AN OPPORTUNITY: Conflict is an opportunity to show how committed we are. But we only make the moment into an opportunity when we see it for what it is and then we can overcome our pride. Conflict is an opportunity to gain understanding and wisdom about our partner and ourselves.

OVERLOOKING OFFENSES: Ultimately, marriage - in the normal marriage - may well be about the daily commitment and practice of overlooking offenses (Proverbs 19:11). That's the land flowing with milk and honey in marriage.

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A wonderful and successful marriage is one where you and your spouse are a team with mutual trust, commitment and fidelity being your foundation. As a team you complement each other so that you achieve much more together then you would have as two single people. There is a synergy that makes the two of you greater than the combination of the two of you. But how do you become part of such a team? What are the key attitudes for establishing a wonderful marriage?

1. Be done with singleness. Now that you are newly married you need to discard the mindset and attitudes of a single person. True you still feel the same as you did when you were single but the reality is that you are no longer single and you need to change the way you think and do things. Do not do this reluctantly or under compulsion from your partner but as an act of love, appreciation and respect for your partner. Realize that you are now part of a team in life and that means you need to involve your partner in all aspects of your life and you have to be involved in theirs. This does not mean that you should be their shadow or Siamese twin but it does mean you should be interested in their life and as involved in it as you are both comfortable with. If you are unhappy with their level of involvement in your life then negotiate a middle ground that you can both live with. Each marriage has different partners and so your marriage will be unique since you are both unique and so negotiate a participation in each other's home and work life that works for both of you.

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2. Enjoy being married. Marriage is a unique institution and you need to understand your spouse and your marriage and then enjoy it. Don't get caught up in the details of the differences between the two of you or the minor frictions but enjoy being and sharing with this person who you love and who loves you. There is such depth in your spouse that unfolds as you get to know them that you need to learn to celebrate them. Make your relationship joyous by placing an emphasis on the good and amazing traits in your partner and your marriage. Build up your partner with your speech by genuinely appreciating the behavior or attitudes that you see and admire each day. You need to have an attitude of gratitude and to just do fun things together. Spend happy times with your spouse.

3. Remember before... . Before you were married you probably had other partners that hurt you or who you just did not gel with. Remember how you wasted your time in dead end relationships and with people who did not treat you right and put that all firmly in the past. Realize that you spent enough time as a single person in hurtful situations and appreciate what you now have. Realize that what you have is special and you need to put your efforts and energies into making your marriage all that it can be. Your past should hold no attraction to you now so that you can concentrate on your marriage.

To establish a wonderful marriage you must put into practice these 3 tips. A wonderful marriage doesn't just happen it requires both of you to have the right perspective and attitude.

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