Most couples â€“ even when the relationship is strong overall â€“ hit bumps when discussing or addressing co-parenting differences. When the relationship itself is rocky, of course, these bumps often become even more problematic. Here’s an example of one such problem “Jessica” one of my clients shared with me:
One evening I returned from a work meeting with the intention of talking to my husband Steve about some boundaries weâ€™d been working on with our son and daughter. Steve was already in bed watching something on his kindle, but we ended up getting into the conversation anyway. Iâ€™m the stay-at-home parent and have been doing some new things around boundaries, and Steveâ€™s questions about these new choices got me frazzled. I felt rattled and felt he wasnâ€™t really giving me a chance to explain â€“ or wasnâ€™t trying to understand. My frustration turned to mild anger and the next thing I knew Steve was accusing me of being aggressive in my communication. This, of course, only made matters worse and I lashed out at him for not taking the time to listen and being too busy to discuss these important things. Thankfully we both shut up then, but needless to say I didnâ€™t sleep well and itâ€™s not the way I want our relationship to go. And, of course, it has a negative effect on our parenting when we canâ€™t talk through problems or disagreements.
Why couples hit communication bumps
Many parents struggle to have positive and productive conversations about co-parenting differences for a number of reasons, including:
- Childhood models of â€œdifficult conversationsâ€ were unhealthy or hidden
- Aversion to conflict keeps couples from addressing problems that do arise
- When difficult conversations are routinely avoided or handled poorly, fear, resentment, and distance can arise making further communication even more difficult
- Lacking adequate knowledge or practice in how to constructively engage in difficult conversations
So, knowing that some of you have had conversations like Jessicaâ€™s (or that you have been wanting to broach a difficult subject with your partner), I offer the video below to share some tips about how to get a difficult co-parenting conversation off to a positive start.
Just because you’re hitting some bumps (or delaying conversations to avoid the bumps), doesn’t mean you have to stay stuck. Using the tips I shared in the video can get you started in a positive direction. I also have a playlist on my Youtube channel focused on co-parenting topics.
If you’d like more support — in developing effective communication skills, getting on the same parenting page with your partner, or navigating a co-parenting challenge — consider booking a complimentary session with me. We can discuss the issues you’re facing and talk about whether coaching is the right fit for you and your partner.