Inside His Head: Wife is “bored” with her husband

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Dear Inside His Head husbands,

I know this is a problem, so I really want some help. I feel “bored” in my marriage and even when I try to do something new or suggest a trip (for example), I still can’t seem to enjoy my husband the way I did when we first got married. I knew the relationship would change over time, but I didn’t think it would be like this. I really want to make my marriage better, but I’m just not happy with the way things are right now. What could I do to turn things around?

greg1.thumbnailGRAY: There’s an expression you may have heard: The honeymoon’s over.

I dare say nearly everyone goes through a period where all the anticipation of things to come has turned into not anticipating anything to come.

If yours is a fairly new marriage (fewer than 5 years), your present life may lack the excitement of chasing each other, including all the time with friends and the anticipation of the marriage and honeymoon.

You may feel like a kid who’s looked forward to Summer Vacation all school year, but then only sits around bored in their room all day whining about how there’s nothing to do.

The reality is that you can’t enjoy your husband the same way you used to because both of you have grown and changed. What you need to find is how to keep the love growing as well. Everyone knows how thrilling puppy love can be, but you’re heart’s not going to go pitter pat forever. Some people confuse that change as no longer loving their spouse, but it is not.

Keep your relationship as real and important as you think it ought to be. Are your nights becoming sweat pant and TV events? Do you give each other tired-from-work glances? Do you spend more time complaining about what’s wrong instead of what’s right? Your life becomes what you let it become. If you’re not comfortable with it then you need to make things more intimate or more about each other instead of all that other stuff that doesn’t really matter much.

It may help to think of it as you might a job.

If you don’t have goals to achieve, projects to create, and, most importantly, finding joy along the way then anyone can get bored with showing up to the daily grind. Improve each other, challenge yourselves and celebrate the victories and your complacency with each other will surely diminish.

MICHAEL: I don’t think this is an uncommon problem. We each change over time. Some of us more than the others.

We can both get into patterns of behavior that make us unattractive to each other. I think the key here is to be honest with your husband about your feelings. He needs to know there is a problem so that you can address it as the couple you are and not just you as an individual.

If there are particular things in the relationship that are causing you to feel the way you are, call them out specifically without making it a personal attack on your husband. You can’t make it a gripe list. Make sure that you can provide an alternative behavior that you’d like to see from him.

If there’s conflict during this activity or you can’t reconcile the issues and get to a common resolution, please see a marriage counselor. Boredom can usually be worked through if the both parties can get the focus back on the appropriate things in the relationship.

If you really don’t know why you are feeling the way you are, then please go to a counselor to talk through your issues. The underlying problem might not be your husband at all.

MAVERICK: It sounds like you’re more unhappy with yourself than with your husband.

Expectations are dangerous things. They rarely work out like we expect and the end result is often irrational feelings of disappointment. You don’t say what those expectations are or imply that your husband knows them and has chosen not to work toward them.

Instead what you seem to be describing is feelings of pretty broad and vague unease.

It may depression. I’d consider talking to your doctor. Depression is not to be fooled with. Seek help. If you’re positive depression is not the issue, I’d say you need to do some soul searching and focus on yourself, not your husband. He’s not responsible for your happiness.

Our spouses exist to support us and help us to be our best, to be happy and fulfilled but they’re not responsible for that. We are responsible for our own well-being. So, decide what makes you happy and pursue it.

Go back to school, write a book, get back in shape, try stand-up comedy, talk long walks, read more, try out for a play. Do something.

Begin your life as a married woman as a woman who is responsible for her own mental well being. Start the journey. Build a wonderful life. Let your husband help. Just don’t expect him to do all the heavy lifting.

♥ If you’d like to send a question to our panel of anonymous husbands, email us at mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com. We’ll pass it along to the guys.

Inside His Head: I caught my husband in a lie

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Dear Inside His Head,

I have a question about lying. I have caught my husband in a few “white lies” lately and it’s infuriating. If he didn’t take the books back to the library or forgot to deposit a check, why doesn’t he just tell me? It’s pretty easy to figure out he lied when I get a late notice from the library or see that the money isn’t in our account. I don’t know how to handle this. It seems really immature and I feel like his mother when I have to ask if he REALLY did what he said he would do. HELP!

GRAY: Well, first I’d check to make sure it’s not simply his nature. Has he always been the forgetful type? Sometimes we all assume we’ve done things only to find we haven’t, so best to make sure this is a change in his behavior instead of just how he is.

When I have bigger things on my mind, whether it’s finances, job status or the future of my family, it’s easy to have the small stuff sneak up on me.

My mind drifts while I’m pondering things and that trip to UPS to get a package delivered gets overlooked. I don’t lie about it, but I could see how I might have convinced myself I did take care of the task while my mind was occupied with more pressing matters.

Certainly, I may be inclined to lie if my wife constantly hounded me about why I couldn’t get to UPS on time and then stayed on my back about it afterward. I’d lie because she would be making the simple stuff more important that it deserves. I’d lie about it because I’m an adult and I don’t need to be treated like a child who forgot to put his toys away, so there might be some resentment building.

I’d feel badgered and probably wonder why she makes such a big deal of the small stuff when it’s clear to me that there are bigger fish to fry. Probably more to the point, I’d wonder why – if these things are so important – that she can’t take care of them herself. I mean, if she has the time to make a big production about how I can’t do these things, why can’t she take a few minutes and help me instead of treating me like an imbecile?

And if I was getting the third degree for stuff I consider pretty petty, I’d wonder how much my wife really cared about me. If she doesn’t trust me with something as insignificant as making another trip to UPS, then how concerned is she about anything else?

If it was me, I’d wish she’d show some concern about what was making me so lax about the small stuff instead of seemingly being unable to see past the small stuff. Lots of issues can make husbands despondent or unconcerned and I don’t know of anyone who would deliberately lie about such trivial matters unless something larger was overshadowing the conversation.

generichead-1MICHAEL: Two reasons for this come to mind.

First, he must feel it’s easier than listening to you complain about him not doing it and treating him like a child. Second, he’s too lazy to have the discussion about why he didn’t do it.

When you say you “feel like his mother” he probably feels like you’re his mother too. Granted, he should be able to handle routine tasks without being followed up on, but sometimes we forget things.

If you treat him like a child when that happens, you can expect some childish behavior back.

On the second note, he may just find that the discussion/argument about him not doing the task simply is too emotionally taxing. Especially if you make a big deal about it.

If you hit a dog enough times, he’ll shy away every time you raise your hand. So if you harass him each time he forgets to do something he’ll find away to avoid punishment.

You may have to just put up with the fact that your husband can’t be depended on for certain tasks and learn to do it yourself.  Either way, you should probably look at how you address him when these things happen and don’t make it a punishment when he does something wrong. Once you stop doing that, he’ll have little reason to lie.

MAVERICK: If he’s the sort of guy who finds $20 bucks on the ground and doesn’t try to find who lost it; or who spots an error on a bill in his favor and keeps his yap shut; or lied on his income taxes to help pay off your car — newsflash, he’s a liar.

They’ll always lie to cover their butts. Welcome to your new reality.

But, if he’s not a liar by nature and this is really a new behavior, I think you need to look at yourself first here as the possible cause.

I’d say your adult/child or mother/kid analysis of the situation is dead on. More importantly, the inequality in power in your relationship. You say is goof ups “infuriate” you. Is that a normal reaction to a guy who brings home the wrong dishwasher soap?

Kids lie for a lot of reasons but mostly it’s to avoid instant consequences because they have little real power in the dynamic.

Here’s how it works.

First, if you’re a kid and not caught in the lie in the first place, you’re golden. Remember Ralphie in A Christmas Story – all kids know its better not to get caught. Second, if you do get caught in the lie, it’s likely worth it compared to the nagging and other stuff you were set to get if you were  honest.

As an aside, I wonder how much  he asks you to do? How many errands to you run for him?

Sometimes men become the unofficial gophers of families. Some of us like it. Others not so much.

So, I may be going out on a limb here but I’d say he’s lying, even though he knows you’ll find out, because he simply doesn’t want to deal with you  for as long as possible.

Why? He feels powerless and this is his way of fighting back. Granted it’s a sissy way but that’s what he’s doing.

He feels like he can’t tell you no when you have him do errands and he equally feels like he can’t tell you the truth when he fails to do what he said he’d do for whatever reason. Why? See the choice use of the word infuriate in your question.

He’s afraid of you but not that afraid of you. You have him in the sweet spot where he’s passive-aggressive enough to lie to you but not so scared he’ll do what you want out of pure terror.

Sure he can run simple errands. He just doesn’t want to.

So, I would suspect, all things being equal, that he gets griped at a lot, and by you. You likely nag him about the errands you send him on. When he brings stuff home it’s likely the wrong thing because you didn’t give him enough info to begin with and he gets hammered again. And you likely don’t thank him when he makes any effort at all.

The bottom line is he’s likely acting like a little kid here because you’re standing on his neck.

Nothing can be as belittling and emasculating than watching a wife tear into her husband for some errand-based misdeed – be it he didn’t get the right toilet paper to he showed up 15 minutes later than expected with the butter.

I’ve seen it happen to guys I don’t really even care for and I end up feeling sympathetic.

So for the sake of your relationship, stop acting like his mother and ask him to do stuff but keep off his back about it. If he fails to follow through or deliver, mention it and drop it. If he continues to not do simple stuff without you on his back, maybe stop asking him to do stuff all together for a while to give the relationship a chance to reset.

And if it keeps up, do the errands yourself, or is your time more valuable than his?

Got a question for our anonymous panel of Northwest Arkansas husbands? Email is at mamas{at}nwamotherlode{dot}com. Click here to read previous Inside His Head posts.

Inside His Head: Husband’s appearance is a ‘turn-off’

Dear Inside His Head guys,

My husband needs to lose weight. His BMI is 32, he has sleep apnea (snores some even with the CPAP), is on two medications to control high blood pressure and now has been told by his doctor that he is pre-diabetic. He talks about losing weight all of the time.  And he never does. He just keeps gaining.

His health is obviously at risk and quite frankly his appearance is a turn-off.  I’ve only mentioned his weight issue once and that was the day after we made love and my hip was aching so badly that it was difficult to walk. (There is a 130 lb. difference between us). I was not mean, just matter of fact.

I don’t get it. Any thoughts?

GRAY: You need to have a serious talk with him. Everything you’ve mentioned has the potential to take years off his life and cause a lot of medical complications down the road if they’re not already. If he’s talking about losing weight then he obviously wants to, it’s just a matter of figuring out how to get there and how to get him motivated.

Get him active. Whether it’s insisting he play outside with the kid(s) for ½ hour a day or taking a long walk with you after dinner, anything is a step in the right direction. If he wants to use a health club, encourage him to do it with a friend. You’ll notice these options involve someone else who will, hopefully, keep the motivation and interest present and give him support on days when the spirit is weak.

Monitor what he eats. Especially with the onset of diabetes, diet can be paramount. And heck, these days it’s relatively easy to find healthy meals that don’t taste like cardboard. If he’s eating fast food lunches, start sending him off with lunch from home or find a way to dodge the high-calorie, high-fat fare most restaurants can’t seem to get away from.

Setting short-term goals is great, but try to make lifestyle changes. In the end, the two of you probably aren’t looking at something he’ll be doing for the next 3 or 4 months as much as you’ll be creating a new way of living. Get him thinking about ways to keep exercise from getting boring. Maybe you can find different activities for each season to ensure doing the right thing doesn’t become tedious.

Reward him along the way. Especially for those who have little self motivation when it comes to losing weight, getting surprises, compliments and praise for all the work can go a long way. It can also make him appreciate the extra time he’ll get to spend around all those who support him now that he’s in better physical condition.

MAVERICK: Okay, so this guy is considered obese by that BMI ranking and if you’re like 110 he’s at least 240. Even if he’s a tall guy, he’s still pretty big and the implication here is he’s not rippling with muscles.

So, he needs to lose weight for his health and it sounds like losing some pounds might improve his sex life too.

Two very good reasons to get back in shape.

So, level with him but don’t be mean or too direct. Men can have fragile egos.

“You’re too fat and I find you too heavy to get on top of me,” isn’t the best approach.

He might not be really aware of how bad the situation has gotten. Guys are thick like that, no pun intended.

Instead, tell him you’re worried about his health and want to keep him around for many years to come. That means losing some weight. Be determined until you convince him you’re right. Don’t nag, encourage him. Try to show him how important it is for the future for the two of you that he is healthy.

Work with him on diet — nothing too drastic at first. Try to eat healthy foods and get rid of the junk food in the house, all that stuff — but do it with him. Many guys are unused to watching what we eat, so he’ll need some help and support. Don’t be a kill-joy or his mom, be his partner in this.

Encourage him to join a gym, start bike riding with a pal, or take up a sport he’s put aside like pickup-basketball or softball. Once again, you could help with this by allowing him to take the time to get back in shape or simply encourage him to go on walks with you or even hikes.

Reward him with encouraging words. Tell him he looks better once he’s lost some weight or tell him you admire his determination when he heads out to the gym. Tell him you love him, and his efforts to keep himself fit make you happy.

Also tell him they turn you on.

As he gets back in shape, reward him with sex. Teach him to associate hard work and a disciplined diet with an eager and appreciative wife.

It’ll work like a charm.

MAX: “Diseases of the soul are more dangerous and more numerous that those of the body.” ~ Cicero

I told y’all to never EVER accept questions from my wife. Seriously, though, one thing you must never do is to tell or infer or hint to your husband that you find him unattractive because of his weight.

Your husband is putting his health at risk as well your family’s security. It seems that he has deeper issues here than just weight problems. If he was doing similar destructive acts to his family and himself with drugs or gambling, an intervention would be called for. You need to have an intervention-style
conversation with your husband.

The way you begin the conversation is “I love you so much and if something happens to you, this family will be devastated. We don’t want to go on without you. We love you and need you. Healthy. Happy. Here.”

Whatever course you chose, you must come from a basis of love and support. Your husband is in danger, and you have to love and support him out of it, but you can’t make it, in any way whatsoever ever, about his appearance.

Inside His Head: How do I know if he’s the right guy to marry?

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Welcome back to Motherlode’s once-a-month feature, “Inside His Head” which is written by an anonymous panel of husbands. If you’ve got a question for our outspoken guys, just send it to mamas@nwaMotherlode.com and it may be featured in an upcoming installment. Now on to this month’s question from a future fiancee:

Q: I’m not married yet, but I’m in a relationship that’s getting more serious. I know there are things I can’t imagine that we might fight about. As long-time married guys (I assume) what would you say are the top five questions I should ask a prospective husband before committing?

greg.jpgGRAY:

#1. Do you want to have kids?

Make sure you see eye to eye on this. Kids might not even be on your radar right now, but you still ought to discuss it. When only one side wants a child it can put an unbearable strain on the relationship and I’ve known couples to divorce on this issue alone. There are a million excuses to have kids or not have them but it’s prudent to make sure those excuses, pro or con, jive with your husband to be.

#2. How will our bills get paid?

I probably don’t need to mention how stressful finances can be. Got college loan bills? Both of you? Credit card bills? It doesn’t get less stressful when there are two of you. Does he have a plan for how you will live and plan for your future? What happens when the unexpected (see #1) happens? If you don’t control your money it will assuredly control you and rarely for the better.

#3. What do you expect of me?

Does he want you to be his mother or a working mother? Does it jive with what you want to do and how you see yourself? It’s wise to be honest about your expectations of each other. Everyone has different values and they can have profound ramifications. Being a housewife is fine, but, like anything, it’s only fine if that’s what you want too. Nothing builds resentment like someone feeling they’re forced to do things they don’t like.

#4. Where do think we’ll be in 10 years?

There’s a saying that goes something like: if you don’t have a plan go anywhere, you’ll end up somewhere you don’t want to be. Planning your future gives you a fighting chance of getting there. While it’s doubtful you’ll have a perfect crystal ball, striving for mutual goals strengthens relationships and gives you milestones to celebrate along the way. Waiting for life to happen to you can set your relationship adrift, often making you both wonder what you’re doing.

#5. Do you hate my parents?

The nagging mother in-law might be one of the biggest stereotypes of all time, but extended families are no laughing matter. Everyone has one obnoxious relative, but if he feels that way about all of them, odds are good there are a lot of things about you he doesn’t like, too. People can agree to disagree, but if Thanksgiving = war then maybe there are some deeper issues needing examination.

john.jpgMAVERICK: Well, you say this guy is possibly “the one” so I assume you knowbasic stuff about him, that there are no conflicts on religion, that he has some sort of job you approve of and that he doesn’t clip his toenails in bed. Here are a few basic questions you can ask him and ask yourself to get an idea if you’re on the same page:

One pretty practical thing you need to know is if there are geographic issues with this guy. Is he tied to one place because of his family, or his career or his lifestyle? If you hope to live in different locales, simply to see the country, or to be adventurous, or to further your career or education it  will be a huge stress factor if you marry somebody who wants/needs to stay put. The reverse is also true. If you are still attached to your family by an umbilical cord stretching no more than 200 miles and he intends to someday, in the next 20 years or so, move beyond that radius you need to take that under serious consideration.

You also need to know his money situation. Often this involves just opening your eyes. If you both have similar incomes, and you’re barely making it yourself, and for your courtship period he’s been footing most of the bills (be honest, has he?) chances are he’s in debt. Men assume you pay attention to this sort of thing. Most women don’t. Ask him about his money situation, and if he’s in hock, his plans for getting out of it. If the hole he’s dug is substantially deeper because of his relationship with you, and you bristle concerning pitching in and helping to fill it back in once you’re married, you don’t really love him or you’re a spoiled brat or both — move on for his sake and yours.

Ask him in detail about kids. At this point you should know if he’s open to the idea and how many. Folks do change their minds on this issue but you should have a working baseline of his feelings on children before you tie the knot. If you intend to stay home with the kids,  make that clear and get his feelings on it and how you’ll make that happen, same thing if you intend to work outside the home full or part time. If you intend for him to stay home with the kids, you better kick that around too. Don’t be worried if he’s not really “kid friendly” when dealing with the little monsters right now. He’ll feel differently about his own when they arrive.

Ask him, in a worse case scenario, if he’d be willing to work two or even three jobs to keep a roof over your head and the heads of any children you might  have. Watch his reaction. Does he say yes? Is he sincere? If you can’t read him by now he’s likely not really “the one.” His willingness to sacrifice for  you and your future family is a good indication  of his commitment to you. Now, ask yourself the same question. Would you do the same thing for him and your kids?

Really, I mean it. Would you work two or three crappy jobs you hate just to put food on the table and pay the light bill? If you won’t do the same for him, do yourselves a favor and walk  — he shouldn’t be the only one willing to make extreme sacrifices.

See if he plans to substantially change after you get married. You are not asking will he continue to grow and mature and evolve as a human being and a man. Let’s hope he will. Instead, see if he intends to shift who he is, really change his core nature. Now, ask yourself if you want him to.

Women often claim to love key elements about the man they intend to marry that become huge stumbling blocks once they’ve said “I do.” Women love that he’s gregarious and has deep, close bonds with his friends  — but they don’t expect him to spend any reasonable amount of time with his pals after he gets married. They love that he’s wild and free but expect him home 25 minutes after work once the vows are said, and he better sell that motorcycle ASAP. They love that he’s a bohemian free spirit with the soul of an artist and poet, but he better buckle down and get a real job so you can afford a mortgage and insurance. Bottom line, if you want him to grow up a bit, fine, but if you really want or need to “fix” him, well, you know the answer to that question, and if you don’t, well I sure hope the poor sap gets away.

jon.jpgJON: There are a myriad of questions you can ask your loved one.  Taking time to get to know each other will only bring you closer.My wife and I bought a workbook that guided us through discussions on a wide variety of topics.

Now the internet provides a wide variety of lists of such questions or you can simply each write your own list.  These can range from “where would you like to live and why?”, “if you wrote a book, what would it be about?”, or “what is the strangest thing you’ve done?” to much more serious topics.

Here are five topics my wife and I have visited multiple times:

  1. Money – How important is it to you and what does it represent? I see it as access to a good time my wife sees it as security.
  2. Children – Do you both want them? How many? When?Discipline? Education? Role of church?
  3. Relationship with In-Laws – How important is this to each of you?Will children change the equation? Where will holidays be spent?
  4. Fidelity – To me this includes more than just not cheating. You can only have one number one thing in your life.Is it work? Friends? Your spouse? A hobby?
  5. Intimacy – What makes you feel loved?How do you show love to others? What do you need/want?

Other topics could include chores/work around the home, how days off should be spent, diet and exercise, and religious beliefs. 

Perhaps you and he could create a list of topics, rank them from most to least important and explain to each other why you put things where you did.

As you can see there are tons of questions you can ask and many ways to ask them.  The important part is to begin to establish open and honest dialogue, regardless of the topic.  This will be critical as your relationship moves forward.

Inside His Head: My husband won’t say no to our kids

Dear Inside His Head,

My husband doesn’t seem to be able to say no to our kids. They’ll go to him rather than me when we’re shopping (for example) because they know he’ll let them buy a certain toy or candy. He works long hours and I think he might be trying to make up for not being home as much, but it makes it harder on me when I try to put limits on spending — or taking them on outings, etc. How can I help my husband understand he’s not doing them any favors by saying yes most of the time?

GRAY: Kids can smell which parent will say yes and which will say no. Whether it’s asking for a piece of candy or the keys for the car, they know how to play the two of you off each other better than anyone else you’ll ever encounter.

I know when my daughter puts on her puppy dog eyes it’s difficult for me not to just open my wallet and say “Here, just take it all.” It doesn’t have anything to do with the hours I work, I just think some kids know how to wrap parents around their finger.

I’d suggest three things to make sure he doesn’t rock the boat too much:

Set limits. Nothing makes me feel better than seeing a smile on my daughter’s face, but the reality is she’ll often be just as happy with something that cost a buck as she would something costing twenty. Set a cap on what he has to spend – or, better yet, suggest they get that money as an allowance so they’ll learn how to be responsible with their own money. He can still have fun with them picking out what they want to buy for themselves.

Back each other up. In the heat of the moment we can forget how saying yes to that piece of candy may be undermining the lesson you were teaching them about finishing their dinner. Take some time to talk about what’s important to teach your kids so you’re not pulling on opposite sides of the same issue. Being on the same page about those goals can keep you covering each other’s backs when the kids zoom in on the weakest link.

Focus on the long term. That $2 pack of gum at the cash register sometimes seems innocent enough, but if you succumb to that every week you’re looking at over $100 a year. Make plans for that family vacation, maybe something really obvious like a jar with how much money you need to make the vacation happen. It’s a lot harder to spend that $2 when you can see how it would instantly make an impact on a long-term goal. It’s also easier for a kid to weigh the merits of a piece of gum they’ll spit out in 5 minutes against some genuine fun, such as a roller coaster ride.

MAVERICK: First you have to ask yourself if this is how your husband has always been or if its a new behavior.

If it’s his standard, go-to move to spoil the kids with material stuff, particularly in a store, it’s likely how he was raised.

Some families put a lot of emphasis on stuff. Likely his dad got him stuff and that’s how he perceived he was cared for and loved. Not always, but you often see this behavior with folks who focus on the material. Often they’re oblivious that they were basically bought off as a child. With some folks, it doesn’t matter. Nature or nurture, you make the call.

It didn’t matter that my dad never had an honest-to-God conversation with me, he bought me a new car when I turned 16.

It didn’t matter that my father never spent four hours with me uninterrupted, understood me, or even ever tried to, since, you see, he paid for my college.

If the stuff equals affection/love link is hardwired in your hubby, it will be slow going getting him to change.

In this case I’d suggest you just point out, when you’re away from the kids,  that he’s clearly buying them stuff so they’ll like him maybe he could quit the Santa Claus act for a while and just act like an actual father.

Fathers consider the long term implications of what they do with their children. So they don’t do stuff like lie to to their kids because it’s easier in the short term; or let their kids watch something on TV that’s inappropriate because they want to watch it for themselves or buy them the latest device, or shoes or heaven help us car, so their kids can keep up with trends because they don’t want to face the blowback or even worse. It’s important to them that they look as cool as their peer’s kids.

In the same vein, tell him lovingly that actual fathers don’t let their kids buy everything at a store because it’s a vital lesson to learn that A) they can’t always have everything they want whenever they want it. B) Stuff costs money and even though you can afford to buy them tons of crap, it’s still crap at the end of the day and they don’t need it C) That fathers are confident enough in their relationships with their kids that it can survive the kid being mad at him because the kid didn’t get  a Coke, pop-rocks and a bag of sugar at 10 p.m. at Walmart on a school night.

If this is a sudden thing, then I think your assessment that it could be guilt because of all the hours is dead on. Try to be gentle but let him know he’s not doing you any favors because he’s making it harder and harder for you to keep the troops in order. Use some of the examples above but give him more slack if he’s not actually a materialistic numbskull.

Bottom line is,  a simple, non-critical discussion is the best solution. He might  not even realize he’s doing it. If it’s an ingrained behavior, it’ll take quite a while but you should eventually be able to convince him always saying yes does nobody any favors.

MICHAEL: You have to tell him. You’re most likely right.

He probably feels like he’s not giving his children enough of his time so he compensates by giving them things. I doubt he’s doing it just to make your life difficult, though. But you can’t tell him he’s doing something wrong.

Raising children requires that the parents come to an agreement about how to best compromise and give their children the direction they can both agree on. You can’t fix the problem if you can’t agree that there is one.

Tell him you’ve noticed he’s been doing this and question whether he thinks it’s happening as well. If he doesn’t, then you need to have several concrete examples. Let him know that since you’re the one that spends the most time with the children, he’s undermining your authority by circumventing the rules and guidelines you’re giving them while he isn’t there.

You also have to give him an outlet to show his affection to the children. Some people see gifts as a way to communicate that, so it just needs to be controlled. Have him do it as a reward for something the children have done for you instead of just because they ask.

In the end you both need to get to the root cause, discuss the impacts of the actions and reconcile to a common approach.

Have a question for the guys? Email it to mamas{at}nwaMotherlode{dot}com.