Tag Archives: families

Get your spouse onboard!


Don’t know how. Communicate, plan, and be honest. That’s how. Stop being afraid of their reaction or what other people will think. You have to listen to your spouse and they should listen to you. Its the only way you can communicate effectively. Communication includes face-to-face, phone, voicemail, texts, emails, letters, notes, body language, meaningful gestures.

I admit, its not easy getting someone with whom you haven’t enjoyed being around to join “your team”. Marriage is work. Part of that work is to create intentional time being a couple. Remember those romantic dates that you encountered when you were courting. Well, don’t let them be a part of history. Carve time out of your busy schedule, and “get busy” spending time together. Talk over a romantic dinner. Take a quiet walk at your favorite park or in your neighborhood. Go roller skating or putt-putt golf. Either way, it has to be somewhere you can talk. You can’t “talk” at the movies though. But you can talk at the flea market!!! Anyways, once you start spending special time alone together (find a babysitter!) you will feel more comfortable expressing how you feel about certain situations.

Remember there is a “way” to communicate. I listed several means to communicate. But I want to give you some additional tips such as you never want to start off with a blaming statement. Use “I” messages and follow them up with what you want from the other person. I know you’ve heard this before. Its in all the therapy literature/websites. But its true. When you start off with “You make me mad when…” you will get nothing but a defensive response and your spouse will close their ears to what ever your saying before you say it!!! So it takes some clever wording here.

For instance, let’s say you felt cut down when your spouse told your stepchild that he could go outside and play even without cleaning up his room as YOU told him. First, wait until you are alone- i.e. that evening, or another day when things are calm and your alone- then began by saying “I felt cut down the other day when I told your son to clean up before he goes outside and you let him go out without cleaning anyways. I want you to back me up when I make a reasonable request to the kids.” You gave an “I” statement (by simply starting with I, it gives you ownership of the feeling instead of blaming them for it). And you told them what you want them to do next time. One more tip for communicating wisely is to begin with a positive comment or two before you go to your “I” statement. For example, “I want to thank you for taking care of the yard, I know its alot of work. I like how we can work together keeping our house clean.”

Its not always clear and simple, but its important to lay out our frustrations in a reasonable way. If you can communicate, your relationship will do nothing but blossom and be built on honesty and trust. Communicate with your spouse today. And you’ll be suprised at their readiness to get “onboard”.


Ways to Communicate


It is important to not just communicate with your spouse and family but there is a way to do it. When you have an issue with someone you should be ready to tell them what you like, what you don’t like, and what you want to see happen. I work with children i a school setting and we have used the “Bug and A Wish” concept. “It bugs me when…I wish you would…” But everyday conflicts need a little more discussion than that. Always begin your concerns with positive feedback and observations first. Use “I” statements as to be the owner of how you feel. Such as “I feel __ when ___. I want ___” This also alleviates people’s need to be defensive of your accusations, because to them that’s what your doing accusing them. Hold family meetings. You can see a great example of this on reality TV i.e. Run’s House on MTV. This is an opportunity for the parents to stand in agreement with an united front. Have the rules laid out, discuss, listen to eachother, and resolve issues brought up. You may have to table some things and you don’t want to turn a family meeting into a them vs. us feel either. Try to work out as much as you can in an appropriate time frame or agree to disagree until the next meeting is called. More positive discussion between family members can be done during meal times around the table when the family sits down to eat together. Get the calendar out and plan visits (if your a blended family). Be proactive at your time spent together. Create a family night or time where you interact doing positive activities such as game night or volunteering at a mission every other month or so. Consider adjusting your communication plans as needed but the most important thing is to COMMUNICATE. *As a member of a blended family, it is your job to be on the same page as the head of the family. Lead by example! Good luck!!



Communicating within the blended family can be difficult. If you are a bio parent, you may already have emotional obstacles to effective communication with your ex. And if you are the step parent, sometimes you aren’t sure how much you should say or how involved to get. Whatever your position within a blended family situation, don’t let fear and anger discourage you from speaking up about how to best raise the children. Give each other space and time to digest what the other is saying or suggesting. Making drastic changes with the visitation time i.e. increased visits or a lack of visits is NOT in the best interest of the children. Discuss it. If one parent notices a child behaving one way but the other parent does not witness this, it’s OK. Listen to the claim, check it out, it may be true. Children do act different when they are in different settings. Where at mom’s house the child may have to follow stricter rules while at dad’s house, the child may have more leniency. Accept the fact that there is a difference. Ofcourse, if the child’s safety or well-being is at risk, a strong stance on creating a more stable and safer environment is priority. When changes do occur, decide who will tell the child, it could be one or both parents. On the other hand, if a stepparent is included or excluded from decisions, that is fine as long as it is explained to that person and they are a part of the process. Don’t dictate to a step parent that they are¬†expected to care for your child while you are at work/school/other all weekend and then in the same breath get upset with them for disciplining your child. Do not place other adults in a compromising role. If they are responsible for the primary care for your child, allow them to carry out that role (with guidelines you’ve already discussed together.) And a note to step parents: leave the major discipline to the bio parent. Thus, avoiding conflict with your spouse or the child’s other bio parent. Basic guidance and rules to be followed are fine for step parents to uphold when bio parents are not around. The point is that ALL of the adults involved need to communicate, communicate, communicate with the children’s best interest in mind.