Relationship Counselor Ken Donaldson on: How can I get my husband to spend more time with the family?
This is a classic question being asked by many wives today. The first thing to do is the obvious: Ask him! And in asking him, have you clarified to him how important it is to you and to the kids?
Here are a few things to be aware of when asking:
• Be aware of “how” you’re asking.
• Are you nagging, whining or complaining? Ask in a positive tone.
• When are you asking? Pick a time when he’s available and not preoccupied.
All of which brings up the next question: Have you and your husband been practicing good communication or have you done what many couples do and just gone on autopilot?
Autopilot is a common relationship dynamic that silently says, “Let’s keep it comfortable, predictable and familiar.” Unfortunately, comfortable, predictable and familiar do not allow for growth and if there’s no growth, the relationship can and will become very stagnant very fast. Sometimes what a relationship needs more than anything else is a shakeup. Something out of the ordinary, like a new way of interacting. Too many couples have become passive and they’ve stopped asking for what they truly want and need, and they’ve stopped making their requests.
In other words, they’ve begun to settle. And here’s a fact about settling: When you settle for less you always get less…never more! For example, couples often settle for setting fewer boundaries, which means they stop making the requests to fulfill their wants and needs, and they stop informing their partner about unacceptable behavior.
And what then happens is as days turn into weeks, weeks into months and months into years, there’s a growing separation and distance between the two. And then the wife’s simple issue of “I’d like you to spend more time with the kids,” turns into a resentment filled and fueled power-struggle.
This may sound like an evasion of the original question, but there are bigger issues and dynamics here. These issues don’t grow overnight; they usually have been festering for months, years and at times, even decades.
So the key is really about having healthy assertive communication. One of the greatest gifts one partner can give to another in a relationship is healthy communication. This is particularly relevant when it comes to conflict resolution. Oftentimes conflict resolution simply means to ask the more difficult and sometimes emotionally charged questions.
This issue of the husband spending more time with the family may be one of those situations where there may be a tendency to skate around the issue because it might feel uncomfortable. Like, “I don’t feel like asking him because he might get irritated,” or “I might sound like I’m nagging.”
However, the goal here is simple: Ask and make the request anyway. You must often just take the action that’s uncomfortable or awkward. And yes, it may even stir the pot and create a little conflict, but if you don’t confront and deal with conflict, the relationship will, by default, go on autopilot, and relationships die in autopilot mode!
Die?!! Yes…here’s why: Everything in life is either living or dying. Which means your life is either growing and expanding or shriveling and dying.
And if you’re not addressing issues straight-up and confronting dynamics that are unacceptable, then the relationship is starting to die.
So, how can you get your husband to spend more time with the family? It starts with you communicating effectively and assertively. If you’re not there or can’t seem to get there, or if there has been a continual cycle of breakdowns after you’ve tried over and over again, then it’s time to hire a professional.
It’s amazing what a couple of counseling sessions with a good relationship counselor can do! Have a few sessions with someone who can actively teach you how to effectively communicate with each other.
Do all this and the question of “How can I get my husband to spend more time with the family?” answers itself.