April 19, 2021

Ask Margaret - My Spouse and I Disagree About Discipline

How should we handle differences of opinion with our spouse? The "number system" is one way to make sure you're choosing your battles.

When we choose a spouse we look for someone we're attracted to, someone we love, and someone we can have fun with. Then we have kids and find ourselves co-running a household with competing viewpoints that we may not have discussed before.

On FB Kelly asked:

How should my husband and I navigate differences of opinion on parenting situations? There are a LOT of hills my husband is willing to die on. If I have a difference of opinion on importance, he then gets frustrated with me.

The most important relationship in the family is between the parents, so it is crucial not to let disagreements about parenting lead to marital discord. One solution is to use Nick North's number system: when you or your spouse expresses a strong opinion about discipline, give it a number:

"I want our kids' rooms kept clean at all times. On a scale of 1 to 10, that's a 9 for me."

"I want there to be no cursing in our house, and that's about a 5 for me."

When it comes to discipline, if one spouse is finding they have a ton of 8s, 9s and 10s on this scale, it might be an indication that they have unrealistic expectations. It's important for us to support our parenting partners, but equally important for either partner to recognize when their own expectations are a little too intense.

This is the kind of marital issue couples can spend a lot of time fighting about if they've never actually had a proper discussion about it. It's worth acting from your place of maximum generosity, but by coming together to set understandings around rules and discipline, this issue doesn't have to lead to ongoing conflict.

Listen to these episodes of our podcast which further explore these topics:

Making It Worth In the Long Haul

Parenting as a Team

and check out the book Marriage-ology by Belinda Luscombe

Special thanks to our "Question of the Week" sponsor:

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