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My (42M) wife (39F) expects me to do all of the difficult parenting so my kids always see me as the bad guy and her as the fun one

bgk67 ci racconta la sua esperienza:

We have been married 16 years and have 3 kids (16F, 14M and 10F). An event yesterday (which I will get too) has made me fully realise that my wife has always been deffering to me the discipling and telling our kids the can't or aren't allowed to certain things while pretending to side with the children. Now I want to make it clear that I love my wife and wholeheartedly believe she's a good person and I think this stems out of fear of the kids not liking her that she does this. For example yesterday my wife came to me saying that our eldest daughter wants to break lockdown rules to go and see her boyfriend and my wife tells me that she told our daughter that she was fine with it but that now I needed to go and tell her that she can't but make it seem like it was my decision and I overruled her. I stupidly did exactly as she told me.

It then clicked that this has been going on for years like one of our children doing something bad and she comes to me saying that I need to dish out x punishment while she then tells the kids that she doesn't agree but “daddy's in charge”. That also made me realise that I need to stop this way of doing things because it is wrongly teaching the children that the man in the relationship gets to make the decisions. I then had a dream last night, in the dream my eldest two were older having a random conversation with a friend telling the friend that their mum was so much fun and let them do so much. Then the friend asks “what about your dad?” to which my daughter replied “oh he was such a strict ba*tard, he never let us do anything”. I genuinely believe this was some kind of sign that I need to stop this happening before my dream becomes reality and I need to put the record straight. I am planning on confronting my wife but don't know what to say. Help me out MassimoL.

TL;DR: My wife always manipulates me into being the one who tells off the kids and sets restrictions, I don't know what to do.

HOLY CRAP WE ARE LIVING THE EXACT SAME LIFE. Same age kids, etc. Our dynamic is slightly different. We agree to a punishment, I tell the kid what it is, then mom chimes in and says I’m being too harsh and reduces the punishment (i.e. undermining me in front of the kids). And yet, when the kids have totally pushed her buttons and won’t listen to her she calls me in with ‘full authority to bring down the hammer as hard as I see fit’ i.e. she uses my more disciplinarian attitude when it suits her mood. I got tired of this, so, one time this happened I said “fine. I’ve pointed out the pretty good reasons why my punishment should be the more appropriate one, you unilaterally changed it, so this matter is now your sole responsibility. I wash my hands of this.” (we’re a Catholic household, so she gets the Pontius Pilate reference…) This still happens occasionally, but far, far less than it used to.

My own advice would be next time she says to do this, is just a simple “No.” No need to be confrontational or argumentative about it. “No. This is the punishment/conditions/whatever YOU stated to our child. I didn’t force you to do this, you stated this completely on your own. If you want to change it, YOU go and make the change.”

Have your wife sit down and read “The Disease To Please” by Dr. Harriet Braiker so she can figure out why it’s more important for her kids to like her instead of respecting her.

Wonder what her parents were like…

In a circumstance like the above, I would say “No – you already made the decision. If it needs to be changed, you need to do it.”

Unfortunately I suspect this would only work until your wife figures out how to change tactics to try to dump it on you again.

I am not sure if this will make you feel better, but my mom was the ‘bad guy’ growing up, and my dad always took the ‘you can do it but don’t tell your mother’ route.

When I was a pre-teen/teen, I resented my mother’s rules and restrictions (because I was a pre-teen/teen) but now I am incredibly grateful for the care she had for me.

And when I moved out of my teens, my dad and mom went to marriage counseling and for the next 4 kids, my dad took a more active role.

I would suggest marriage counseling for you and your wife. But also, being the bad guy doesn’t stick forever unless you are being abusive or insanely over protective (which it doesn’t sound like you are). My mom is my best friend now and I call her for advice every week.

Wow wow . I am older and I feel like my mum was so strict and my Dad is the coolest ever . you need to tell your wife your feelings and hopefully she understands . If not , try an example and let it play out . She then know how it feels xx