The following is a transcript of the audio. Transcript has been edited for clarity.
Emily: Welcome back to another episode of Risen Motherhood. I’m Emily Jensen here with my sister-in-law, Laura Wifler. Before we jump into our topic today, I wanted to let you all know that Laura and I have been talking about a pregnancy that she’s having, [laughter] a paper pregnancy!
Laura: Yes, I’m adopting. We were chatting and I said, “I never said anything on the show about it. I announced it on my personal blog, and on Instagram, and Facebook and all that stuff but realized I never said anything here. We are adopting two kids from Eastern Europe; from Bulgaria to be specific. We are finished with our home study, we are in the process of completing a few final things and then our paperwork will be over there and we’ll be eligible for two kids. We are looking for two kids of ages four and under. We are really excited. It’s pretty crazy. It’s pretty surreal to finally be doing this thing, something that we’ve talked about for so long.
Emily: That leads us into our next topic. We’re doing another episode related to marriage. We know that that’s something that gets bluffed out the conversation a little bit in motherhood, and yet it is such a huge part of our calling and living out our calling well. We are talking about getting on the same page as our husbands when it comes to parenting strategies and discipline, and how we approach more of the practical things in the lives of our children. Because with two different people, two different genders, from two different backgrounds coming into a marriage with children, it’s always interesting if you let it play out naturally.
Laura: Sounds like a recipe for failure. [laughter] It’s so funny because especially when you first become parents, you’re like, “It’s so much fun. We’re changing diapers and doing these fun things." Then they start to grow and you start to see all of these behavioral issues. You see the sin in their heart and then you start to see more sin in your spouse, and you start to see more sin in yourself. It’s definitely a huge thing to get on the same page, but it can be so hard to do.
Emily: Laura and I had fun talking about stories of how we’ve had a hard time getting on the same page with our own husbands. My husband is more black and white and he is more objective and more authoritative, and I am more reactive or more passive. I like to think that I am more nurturing and more gracious. [laughter] In my mind, I’m not passive. I’m patient. Well, not true.
He tends to respond immediately and is very consistent and I can tend to let things go. Basically, our kids can get whiplash because we’ve got good cop/bad cop going on if we haven’t planned. My husband is jumping in and getting it every time and then it’s like, “If I ask again, mommy may make an excuse and let me get away with it,” so we have had to be really intentional. What’s cool is that when we are, it works great.
Laura: A specific example I’ll share is my husband loves to wrestle with our kids, just like a lot of dads love wrestling. There have been times, especially when my son was a little bit younger that he would go after my husband’s face and press on it, sit on it and stand on it and whatever, and my husband was just laughing. It was all in good fun, as they were both joking around, and neither of them was trying to hurt one another but I was like, “You cannot do that because you better believe the next time he sees another kid, he’s going to be trying to sit on his face.” It was one of those things where as a mom, I saw something different in how that’s going to play out in other situations.
That happens on both sides. There are things that I let slide that my husband’s like, “I don’t think we should probably do that because that’s going to come out in a different way.” That’s even a small thing but something where’s it’s important is to get on the same page. I don’t want to freak out in the moment and be like, “Oh my word, don’t do that. That’s so bad,” but instead for us to have a calm conversation of like, “Hey, here’s why I think maybe we shouldn’t let him try to peck out your eyes with his fingernails [laughter] or whatever. Here’s the reasons why. Do you agree? What do you think?” It goes so much smoother than me freaking out in the moment or being so angry and simmering in the corner about, “He’s teaching him bad habits,” because I do the same thing. That’s a very practical example.
Emily: If you are struggling with a spouse who truly is on a different page because they are not a Christian or maybe not leading the way you were hoping, we do have an episode a while back that we’ll link to in the show notes, about how you can encourage and help your husband to lead your family. I will direct you there but we can’t get into that in this episode. Assuming you guys are both Christians, I think a starting point is that you want to be on the same page, that our main calling as parents is to pass along our faith to our children.
Laura: We both should have the same goal as believing parents and that’s disciplining our children and bringing them up in the way of the Lord, and living out whatever ways God has called us to uniquely live out that vision. At the same time, the way we execute that plan or that vision looks so different because we are two different people and we’re both sinners; we’re both imperfect. The way that plays out is interesting. The nitty-gritty of parenting is, “Are we going to let them throw their food off the table?” or, “Are we going to laugh at that?” “Are we going to deal with this behavior or that behavior?” Some of that nitty-gritty comes out differently because our personalities are different. It can be hard to know what to do exactly.
Emily: I find that it is good to believe the best about our husbands intentions, and respect them, and their authority, their ideas and their preferences. A lot of times, my husband may care about a behavior, exactly like what Laura was saying, that I don’t have a stronger preference about but there are ways that we can say, “You know what? Great. This isn’t a huge deal. “ I can listen to him and believe that he has a good idea about this.
We don’t want to treat our husbands like they’re another one of our children [laughter] and be like, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” or, “He hasn’t done the research,” or, “He hasn’t been around as much.” I continue to be surprised. Even though I may read more books, my husband has awesome instincts as a parent and awesome wisdom and insight into what to do. Probably better than mine a lot of times. [laughter]
Laura: It’s a good point because I think they can come in often more objectively, especially if you’re home with the kids. Even if you work, often moms tend to be, as Emily was starting to say there, we tend to be the researchers and we read the books and we talk to our mom friends. I think we just swap information and consume information a lot more. It’s not a blanket statement. I definitely know dads that are super into that too and that’s awesome.
But I think sometimes husbands can come in and offer a more objective viewpoint on discipline or behaviors, and things and how to deal with them. Whereas often, I feel like I’m too close to the situation. I have emotions and passions and [laughter] "I have had it up to here with X, Y, Z1!" My husband can come in and be like, “All right, let’s bring it down a notch and look at how we can deal with this.”
Emily: I tend to give myself a lot of grace when I mess up and I tend to excuse things and then if my husband doesn’t say something in just the right way, I’m like, “Why did he say it that way? Doesn’t he know we’re supposed to say it this perfect way according to book?” and that’s silly; that’s craziness. I want to make sure that I’m giving my husband the same leverage [laughs] and the same grace that I’m walking in, and knowing that God’s grace is just as sufficient for him and we both have off days, and that’s okay.
Laura: Remembering that God is sanctifying us too is important. We always talk a lot about how motherhood is sanctifying; (That’s a hashtag on Instagram!) but then, marriage is sanctifying. God is working through our spouses and as Emily was saying, He is just as sovereign over our sins as He is theirs. We trust God that through our flaws and through our errors as moms, He will still care for our children. We have to believe that when we see something with our husband that we want to be super critical of, or, again, we use a harsher standard of judgment for our husbands. We have to remember that God is just as sovereign. He died on the cross for them too. He gave them grace just like He gives it for us.
Emily: He is sanctifying them too. Then another thing that popped into mind, if that is something where you’re like, “That is such a stressful topic for me,” Laura and I did a show called Is Your Child’s Faith Your Responsibility where we dive into that topic super deep.
Laura: How does this look practically? We talked a little about it, why does it happen, what’s the importance of it, or what grace to give our husbands, but what does that look like practically? I have a few ideas and there are probably so many cool ways to do this. The first thing we want to talk about is getting on the same page, not just in the same book, but in the same page. If you work or even you’re at home, the big thing is catching up our husbands. Maybe you picked up your kid from a care provider or maybe you’ve been home all day and you’re heading in the bathroom, [laughter] whatever that may be. If dad comes home then it’s all about catching him up on what’s going on, what child is hitting who that day, or is stealing toys a bunch, or this child doesn’t feel well, this child missed their nap. All of those things. I think it’s important to give them the 101 and really talk through, “This is why we are doing what we’re doing,” or, “This is why it seems harsh but really, it’s not because I’ve been dealing with this for five hours.”
Emily: I’m finding more and more that it’s important that I do this pretty quickly and that I do it in a way that’s not complaining. I used to, when my husband came home, [laughter] immediately lay in to, “The kids have been so bad today.” Now it’s more at the dinner table and I’m like, “Hey so and so, let’s talk to daddy about what happened this afternoon,” and we try to keep it a lot more positive. It doesn’t have to be this big intense scary conversation every afternoon because I’m sure that’s not pleasant to listen to either.
Laura: It’s showing your kids too that you guys are on the same team, and that they can’t work the two parents to get what they want. My husband and I tend to have car rides or date nights or whatever, where we talk about specific issues or things that we are seeing in our kids; strengths and weaknesses, or areas that we would like to foster some growth. I realized I need to come into those meetings with a very open heart and with a desire for him to ultimately lead our family and to be able to see areas that we can fix or grow in. I want to be open to his advice and not think, “I have all the right answers because I have researched this to death. I am dealing with it and you don’t actually care about it.” Instead, coming in with an open heart that is prepared to hear his thoughts and prepared to be flexible on what I think needs to happen.
Emily: Like Laura was saying, there’s these meetings that we have that we can go through the specific issues. I know my husband and I have also had bigger philosophical conversations about what we think we should be doing with discipline. A lot of those honestly have happened on road trips when we have the kids in the back and we’re like, “We have five hours together and we want to talk.” When else do we have five hours of [laughs] try to sit and talk? We will go through and just map out, “Okay, if this, then this,” with all of our kids. Then even if we have fist-pounded each other before we’ve gone on a trip, or we’ve done it overnight at someone’s house, and we’re like, “Okay, we’ve got our plan.” We talk down to the specifics of, “You’re going to be in there with them first, etc.” It’s just amazing how much better it goes.
Laura: We talked about moms being the major researchers. I read and consume a lot more information than my husband and so one idea is I'll ear mark one page of a book for him to read, or send him a blog post, or share, “Oh, this mom said they do it this way and I really liked that. What do you think?” It’s great to synthesize information and help them catch up because sometimes that can be my frustration. I’m like, “You don’t care about this as much,” but it’s because I’ve spent a lot more time and I’m closer to the situation.
Emily: Also, after you’ve been at a play date or a dinner or wherever, talking about how it went afterwards. We talked about this, “Where were you when so and so was running off?” or, “Did we execute our plan well?” “What did we observe some other families doing? Is that something that we would want to try or is that something that would never work for us and why?” even evaluating what other people do has been super helpful for us.
Laura: Everything that we’ve just said here, it has to come from the right heart attitude. Not the heart attitude of wanting to be critical of other families, of your husband, of your children, but coming in as, “Hey, we want to get on the same page as parents. We want to do this together because this is important. Our ultimate goal here, of helping our children know and love what God loves, and to hate what God hates, how does that play out day-to-day? That’s what this is all about. It’s about coming in with good attitudes and an open heart to say, “I want do this with you and I don’t want to work against you.”
Emily: It feels so good when you are on the same team. It’s awesome to have somebody that you’re like, “We are doing Kingdom work together. We are accomplishing something together." Even if we’re not guaranteed how our kids are going to turn out but we are in it and we are on the same team. It’s an awesome feeling when you get there. The more we’ve experienced that, the quicker we are to rendezvous and get on the same page. I think it’s worth pursuing.
Laura: With that, I think it’s a good spot to close the show. Of course we have lots more thoughts but you can head back to some of those other episodes that Emily mentioned. We will link to them in the show notes. In addition, we will have lots of fun articles that you can read about this topic and get more inspired on ways to be on the same page with your husband.
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