For years I thought that so many of my marital problems stemmed from a lack of communication. And while, yes, we definitely have communication issues, I still remember what our marriage counselor said that made me realize it wasn't necessarily all our faults.
Due to our own parents' issues, we took on a lot of responsibility as kids, much more than most kids, actually, and we just got used to doing everything on our own.
It's not necessarily that we don't want to work together and be a co-parenting team, it's because we're just not used to it. But how do we change what's ingrained in us so that we can start working with each other, not against?
My husband and I can both point a finger at our parents, whose own challenges forced us to be super independent, more independent than kids our age should really have been. I still remember filling out my entire financial aid packet for college that was meant to be completed by my parents. But since my dad was ambivalent about me going to college and had a whole ton of weird issues, I had to do it myself, then beg him to sign it so I could get help paying for it.
But I learned very early that if I was going to go anywhere or do anything, I had to circumvent my parents and do it on my own.
Sure, it sounds healthy to be so independent and responsible, and it's really helped me in many areas of my life. But in others, particularly in relationships and more so when it comes to parenting, I'm actually too capable. I rarely ask for help and I want to be the one doing it. Considering another person's valid input is just really hard for me.
For my husband, it manifests in other ways, but it's difficult nonetheless.
And the effect is doubled because I parent alone quite often, so I need to be able to function and make quick decisions without a huge amount of discussion because my husband is away.
Unfortunately, I don't have a good answer for how to be different, other than just being aware of it and making an extra effort to ask for help and accept it. We realize that it's not helping our relationship, but at least having some sort of understanding about why we're doing what we're doing beyond the basic "communication issues" has helped.
What are your suggestions for better communication and teamwork with your partner or spouse?
Image via Larry Ziffle/Flickr