34/52 – Secret
I don’t often talk about my marriage in this space. Our relationship isn’t for analyzing, dissecting or even fodder in the topics that pop to my head as blog worthy. It’s sacred.
But from time to time, I want to stretch those self-imposed limits just a little bit, and this is one of those times. I want to let you in to one of the secrets of our marriage.
When we first became parents, Otto and I were gifted a lot of advice. Most of it entirely unhelpful. Much of what we knew we wanted, or didn’t want, to bring into our parenting practice was derived from the impact of our own upbringing. We knew which approaches as experienced in households led by our respective parents were important enough to incorporate our newly developing parental skills.
Otto had one key piece of advice given to her by both her mother and father – never let the kids come between you.
While this has been a stellar piece of advice, it’s a practice that we’ve struggled to maintain over time. Even more so when you’ve been dealing with incredibly challenging behaviours from your kids, you’re at wit’s end, and while you remain philosophically and values-aligned, your approaches to that desired outcome begin to differ greatly.
Over the past few months, the kids have started to come between us. Particularly Bubaloo. He’s an incredible source of tension, discontent and disagreement in our house. Does he need to clean his room before he goes to a friend’s house? How do we deal with it when he’s hostile and angry? What are the consequences when he comes home late or skips school?
Given the magnitude and multitude of challenges we face with him, we suddenly found ourselves disagreeing when parental intervention was actually called for. Which culminated in a pretty big argument that happened right in front of the in-laws.
We were embarrassed and my mother-in-law plainly stated the obvious. We had let the kids come in-between us.
That night we had a very long talk. Sometimes things were tough, really tough, and sometimes that led to fantasies of just how much easier it would be to do it on our own. A ship with one captain is much easier to navigate.
I didn’t mean we no longer were in love. We are. It didn’t mean that we no longer like one another. We do. It’s just that we weren’t being an effective team. And you know what? Changing the way our household and family operates wasn’t going to change that. Separating was just going to make it harder because the root issue would still be there. And in fact, likely more complicated.
You don’t throw the “divorce” word out there with ease. This wasn’t actually a termination of relationship conversation. But it was a discussion where we both could check in, verify the other’s commitment, and really acknowledge that the divorce road would be inevitable if we didn’t heal the rupture being caused by our kids. We needed to put ourselves first. It was time for us to re-group and re-align.
Because things with Bubaloo are likely to get a whole lot worse before they get better.