Marriage Survival Tips Inverness
Marriage Survival Tips
Count the number of couples you know who separated or divorced when their kids were teens. For most of us, it’s a pretty big number. Why? Over time the unchecked stress of a challenging child erodes relationships, belief systems and commitments; and without a sense of personal control, mutual respect, commitment to teamwork, open communication, and honesty and availability marriages and families disintegrate.
When parents are faced with difficult teenage behaviour, they often become less tolerant of each other’s quirks and idiosyncrasies. Often, one parent can no longer tolerate the parenting skills or philosophies of the other. They simply can’t agree. Or the detailed tasks so overwhelm the couple, they can’t keep track of who agreed to what. Even more often, one partner disengages, allowing the other to take full responsibility for managing the situation.
When these things occur, the dysfunction in that primary relationship becomes entangled in each parents’ relationships with their children and the family unit breaks down. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Given the right tools and a willingness to communicate openly and honestly, even parents who disagree can come together in a healthy way to care for a troubled child for whom they both feel love and concern.
When the eldest of my three children was diagnosed with bipolar disorder her father and I were devastated and overwhelmed. Despite the severity of the situation, we held firm to a steadfast sense of control. We worked as a team and adopted a “divide and conquer” attitude. We talked to each other as often as necessary, setting aside topics that might intrude on the issue at hand, and adjusted our individual schedules to accommodate our daughter’s newly emerging needs.
You, too, can work as a team regardless of personal conflicts. When your child’s welfare is at stake, compartmentalise your emotions and address the problem. Set specific weekly appointments with one another, every day if your child is in crisis, during which you discuss only your child’s welfare. Stick to topic and refuse acquiescence to distractions - this is not the time to hammer out holiday plans, the home improvement budget or challenges at work. If necessary, proceed as you would in a business meeting, following a regular agenda. For example:
1 Review progress from previous meeting.
2 Discuss action items…what do we do next?
3 Assign action items, including completion times and dates.
4 New topics, limited to those necessary to address prior to next meeting.
Write notes for yourself and to your partner between meetings and save each conversation in a specially marked folder, providing each parent with an ongoing history of plans, agreements and tasks assigned.
To become partners in the business of raising the healthiest child possible, commit to those tasks best suited to your skill set, allow the other partner to do his tasks his way.
Remain open and honest, and realize that the time dedicated to this process will pay big dividends in the end.
During these challenging times, it’s important to remember that the basics of a healthy relationship a sense of personal control, mutual respect, commitment to teamwork, open communication, and honesty and availability — create a framework upon which all parents can solidly build. Your healthy, happy child will ultimately thank you.
Kate McLaughlin writes, speaks and advocates for mental health awareness. She is available to speak at events for high school & college students and faculties, as well as mental health support groups. Visit her at: http://www.katemclaughlin.net and read her newest book, MOMMY I'M STILL IN HERE.
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