My husband and I are NOT on the same page right now and I don’t know how to resolve it. It’s beginning to cause arguments that I’m afraid will only get worse or cause ongoing resentment. I feel strongly that we should pull our 1st grader out of school and do homeschooling for the next year or so. He feels strongly that our child should stay in the school where he is now. But I don’t feel that he’s getting the kind of education or environment he deserves. I’m not sure a middle ground even exists in this situation. We’re both strongly opinionated on this. What would you advise we do to reach a solution that won’t cause resentment in the long run and hurt our relationship?
Response by Patrick Henry, LMFT, LPC, of Ozark Guidance Center
It would be nice if partners were always on the same page when it comes to what is best for their children. Of course, that rarely happens. Disagreement in marriage is inevitable and, when it comes to the kids, there are often many disagreements. There are a couple of reasons for this. 1) Each partner came from a different family of origin — that means they grew up in different homes with different rules, expectations, values, beliefs, family interaction patterns, and experiences. 2) There is a lot at stake — your children are the most precious little people in the world to you and you love them more than anything else.
You’re responsible for making the best decisions that you can. The thought of messing up makes you and your husband anxious and anxiety frequently looks more like anger, which is a secondary emotion. Remembering that you come from different families and that your worry and your husband’s worry are at the center of your anger/frustration will be helpful.
You aren’t mad, you’re scared.
Let’s assume you and your husband want what’s best for your child and are willing to act on your beliefs. Also, let’s assume your ideas may be different and competing at times, but you both really believe what you believe and you’d do anything for your child. If this is the case, then your child already has the most important thing in the world — parents who love him and have his best interests in mind and who are willing to act on their beliefs.
The second most important thing to your son might be having parents who will give him the opportunity to see them modeling patience, love, and respect. It’s okay to disagree, but unresolved conflict that leads to resentment isn’t good for the marriage or the child. Don’t forget — education starts at home and has as much to do with social and emotional learning as it does reading and science. Kids learn by watching what their parents do. This is an opportunity for you and your husband to grow in your ability to communicate, resolve conflict, forgive, empathize, and respect each other. Having these things may be more important to your child’s overall well-being and education than where he goes to school.
The outcome of this decision may not be as important as you protecting the marital relationship and the family unit. A compromise isn’t always possible. If it’s not, then someone will have to be the giver in this situation and go along with the other. This does not have to result in resentment. The skill of “positive intent” goes a long way in keeping resentment at bay.
A skill that all couples/parents need to learn and use is Positive Intent. Positive Intent is the ability to look honestly at the other person’s intentions and be able to respect and understand these intentions, even if you don’t agree with the person’s position or action. Positive Intent can make things “easier to swallow,” as you’re able to see where the other person is coming from and are able to see their intention in a positive way. It also makes you much more likely to actually hear that person, consider what they’re saying, and respond in a more productive way.
You and your husband both want the same thing — your son to grow and learn both socially and educationally. Make a decision you can both live with and don’t catastrophize. Kids are resilient, and there’s a good chance he’s going to turn out just fine either way. After all, he has you both as his parents. A decision does not have to be immediately made. Pause. Talk. LISTEN!
Schools are more open to parental involvement than ever before. Are you partnering with your child’s school, classroom, and teacher as much as you can and want to do? Are you aware of the different ways to be involved? This could be worth exploring.
Counseling is for EVERYONE! Some use counseling as a way to strengthen an already strong marriage or to gain some help talking and processing through a difficult decision that needs to be made. It could be a good time to talk with a counselor if you have that little voice inside telling you “I’m afraid we’re going to resent each other.” Remember how much you care about the other person and the relationship. Keep talking to each other.
If you’d like help or guidance during those conversations, call one of our counselors at Ozark Guidance at 479-750-2020.
Therapists at Ozark Guidance would be happy to answer your questions and read what’s on your mind. Click here to read more questions and answers in the On Your Mind category. Click the butterfly icon below to fill out an anonymous submission form with your question or concern. The form contains NO identifying information and is designed to give local women an online place to share concerns with a person qualified to offer feedback.
Disclaimer: This RESPONSE does not provide medical advice It is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on nwaMotherlode or Ozark Guidance websites.