Do You Have to Agree With Your Husband to Support Him?

“I’m about to loose it. My stepson lies, disrespects me and our house and my husband doesn’t handle it the right way. I feel like this is never going to end until his dad addresses it.  This has become all consuming – all my husband and I do is argue about what to do about his son and its destroying our marriage. Meanwhile, my stepson continues on his merry way of manipulation. Help!” wrote a weary stepmom.

Maybe you can identify with this frustrated stepmom.

One of the most common questions I get from stepmoms (and I’m paraphrasing) is “how do I get my husband to see what his kids are doing and to do something about it?”

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The answer is you can’t make your husband see things the way you do but you can wear yourself down trying.

You are two different people with two different parenting styles and two different attachments to the same child. There will be differences in how you both see the child and how you respond.

Think about an ongoing disagreement with your husband. Are your conversations bringing you closer to agreement or pushing you further apart?

Is there a way to stay united even if you don’t agree with your husband? The answer is yes.

Welcome to Day 3 of Reboot Your Remarriage. We are talking supporting our husbands in regards to parenting choices even if we don’t agree.

I realized that with the ongoing pattern behaviors of one of my stepkids, one way of parenting wasn’t going to fix everything. She  needed a change of heart to make changes in her life and debating what to do with my husband only created distance in our marriage and didn’t impact the behaviors we both wanted to see end.

When consequences and discipline become hot beds of discussion for you and your husband and it appears that no resolution is in sight, may I suggest saying this:

“I don’t agree with you but I will support you.”

Read that again….

“I don’t agree with you but I will support you.”

You are communicating that you don’t agree with your husband’s decision. You are also telling him that you are choosing to support him.

You can still support someone even if you don't agree with them. Debate the issue not the person.

Often the more we talk about something, the more we both feel worn down and unheard. Your husband may feel like you are coming at him (when you share all the examples of his child’s poor behavior) even though that is not your intention. He stops listening and he can’t hear you even if you have right intentions and are trying to share useful information and help.

By choosing to support, we choose

  • not to question that particular action item again.
  • not to badmouth him or the decision with family and/or friends
  • not to undermine him in front of the kids

What this statement does:

  • it closes an ongoing/heated discussion that is most likely wearing you both out.
  • you communicate to your husband you will support him even if you don’t agree. It is huge for a husband to know he has his wife’s support.

What this statement doesn’t do:

  • it doesn’t put an end to the behavior.
  • it doesn’t mean you won’t have difficult conversations in the future.
  • it doesn’t mean you won’t wrestle with feelings of non-agreement.
  • it doesn’t condone consequences to physical/verbal abuse. If your stepchild is hurting anyone physically/verbally and/or involved in drugs and your spouse chooses to ignore – please seek professional intervention and set boundaries.

When I started using this I also started praying this…

Heavenly Father, I don’t agree with what my husband is doing. I don’t believe that how he is handling this issue with his child is right. Lord, my heart is heavy for my stepchild and for my husband and our family. I am submitting to my husband’s decision Lord and I am asking you to bless me. I recognize it is not my job to convince him “he is wrong.” I also know that he may not be and I may want something done that should not be. I ask you to convict us both. Lord, cover me with a peace over this decision and convict my husband if he is making the wrong decision. I pray this in your son’s name. Amen

I can tell you four things started happening when  I decided to use this “non-agree but support” choice.

  • Our unpleasant conversations got shorter and fewer
  • My husband was more open to share with me and to listen to me
  • My husband was more likely to seek my opinion AND there have been a few times where HE has come to ME and said I thought about what you shared and I’ve reconsidered my decision on how to handle things.
  • We have grown closer as a couple and have more time to enjoy each other because we aren’t worn out and/or at odds with each other after tough conversations.

For us stepmoms, it’s not about being right. It’s about being heard. It’s about our spouse understanding the difficulties we walk. It’s about our heart for our family and wanting good things for everyone in our family. When I started supporting my husband, he actually started listening more and now seeks my voice more when deciding on how to handle kid issues.

I can tell you that the behaviors we were disagreeing on have not stopped but their “power” over our marriage has. That is a huge blessing for my husband and I and our marriage.

My challenge for you is to really think about the statement I shared. Think about the last time you were at an impasse with your spouse regarding his kids and consider what would have happened if you would have simply stated you didn’t agree but pledged your support.

Consider doing just that the next time.

Thoughts on this? Do you think you can commit to supporting your husband even if you don’t agree with him. Can you recognize why you want him to see things your way and work through that?

Tomorrow we are going to address why your spouse may choose to “fight” you instead of addressing his child and/or his ex-spouse. You won’t want to miss.

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Comments

  1. Heather
    I liked your article and hope it’s a benefit. The problem is that I feel unsupported by my husband. Chores have been an ongoing issue at our house. Two of my step kids no longer live with us, but the one does and I suggested that she have a daily chore. She’s a senior in high school. Of course he disagrees and says she does things! She does the dishes! That might be true be she also cooks for herself as she has an eating disorder so I would hope she does her own dishes! I’m talking about cleaning the bathroom sinks, or emptying the bathroom garbage…just doing something to contribute. I recently had breast cancer surgery and am limited with my arm use.
    When we dropped off my other stepdaughter at her moms (she lives at her house and not ours) she says “good bye daddy, I love you” and doesn’t say anything to me. I brought it up to his attention that I would have liked it if he would have said something to her in regards to ignoring me. He right away says to me that I”m making too big of a deal out of it….she’s not a child and he shouldn’t have to say anything to her…if I have a problem then I should talk to her about it….etc…he’s full of excuses and demeaning behavior towards me instead of trying to understand what that’s like.
    I’m in a no win situation. For me to say….I don’t agree with you but I support you would be a lie. I don’t support the fact that he’s unwilling to defend me to his children. I don’t support his defensiveness.
    any suggestions. We’ve been married for 11 years and things haven’t improved.

    • Carol,

      I appreciate your honesty. You are in a tough spot. Not agreeing but supporting can mean you won’t go against what he decides but you don’t agree with it. Sounds like you want to teach responsibility and that’s a good thing but you CAN’T make him see that. You can put up a boundary that you will do XYZ around the house. You can choose not to pick up after her. Now this could go a number of ways if she doesn’t care and he doesn’t care and the “dirt” begins to drive you crazy.

      The disrespect is unfortunately so common. What would be the best is he were to have a talk with her and say “Carol is my wife and I expect you to respect my wife.” He CAN’T make her say goodbye but he can listen to you. Perhaps you can frame it that way with him: “I’m letting you know how I feel – right or wrong – when your daughter doesn’t say goodbye to me and she does to you. I know you can’t make her do it. I’d just like you to listen to me and understand it’s hard.”

      From talking with men in stepfamilies in this situation, many have shared that it was hard to admit their child was rude and it became easier to blame the wife then to see what their own child was doing. You can’t say that to him but it may give you some insight.

      What often happens when we start just stating our disagreement but supporting is that we lessen the emotion in the conversations and the disagreements and our husband notices a change and often they then seek our opinion and/or are more willing to work with us. I know that may not seem fair but many stepmoms have shared with me that once they used different strategies to take a step back their spouse noticed, appreciated it and then sought them for their opinion.

      Another option I would suggest is to ask your husband if he would consider seeing a counselor to address these concerns. You can share that you desire to do the right thing and you’d like a neutral third party to guide you and perhaps he would be open to it.

      I hope that helps.

      Blessings, Heather

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