I Told My Husband He Was Wrong
My husband recently sent me screenshots of a conversation he and Deagan's mom had which was less than friendly but normal when co-parenting (disagreements WILL happen) and asked me my thoughts. In the kindest and most polite way possible I told him he was in the wrong. Did he appreciate that? Well no, but I wasn't going to give him any validation for his actions when I didn't feel they were fair.
I believe my husband's exact words were, "Do I have to apologize?" Like it was SO torturous for him to apologize and I said, again very kind and polite, "I do". Do I know if my husband apologized for his actions? No, I have no idea - it's none of my business.
I consider myself the "middle man" and take pride in seeing both sides of each situation and that's how I give my opinion to my husband. He frequently asked me my opinion which I truly appreciate. I want to be his partner in all life situations and his helping hand when situations get sticky or uncomfortable. I give him insight from an outsider looking in and from a stepmom point of view. Most importantly, from a women's point of view because he has to remember that she is not only Deagan's mother but a woman too and he needs to speak to women with respect and dignity no matter how much he disagrees.
If you are struggling to find ways to tell your significant other that their way may not be the right way, here are three pointers for the next time a situation arises.
1. Validate his feelings first.
"I can see why you are feeling this way" or "I totally get it but...". This is a life lesson that when someone is coming to you with assistance on a situation that you validate their feelings so they don't feel that their feelings are not acceptable.
2. See BOTH sides of every situation.
Fueling the fire just because you feel like you HAVE to side with your husband is only going to cause an outrage. After validating my husband's feelings, I explain how I can see why both parents would be frustrated in this situation.
Quick example, my husband is a poor planner and the KING of last minute. In most cases, Deagan's mom is very flexible in switching schedules with us but at times, they have plans and switching just isn't an option. We planned a fun-filled day to celebrate our daughter's birthday on her (Deagan's mom) day which should have been communicated immediately but instead, he was upset when she said they had plans that day. He's allowed to be upset because he wants Deagan to be apart of his sister's birthday but can't take that frustration out on Deagan's mom because of the last minute communication. At the end of the day, it all worked out and we spent the day together as a family but this is the perfect example where I needed to explain her side, as well.
3. Assist him with responding
No, don't write the text or email for him but give him advice on how to respond. I often will tell my husband how to respond or what he could write in response to the situation and I wish I could tell you that he takes my advice but I have no idea. Full disclosure: I do not look through my husband's phone especially at his text messages. I trust that he will communicate with me any conversations he has with Deagan's mom that he feels I need to know. I don't have time for that. I'll coach him in responses such as, "I see where you are coming from and this is how I feel about the situation. Can we come to a mutual agreement?" Or suggest an alternative where it's fair for both parties. I give him suggestions on how to respond without ever knowing if he actually uses them to fuse the fire but feel better knowing I have assisted in some way to create a more comfortable and less confrontational co-parenting experience for both parties.
I understand that not every woman feels comfortable telling their significant other that they are wrong but I was born without a filter so it's pretty easy but can be controversial so know your relationship and how your significant other reacts to corrective criticism or assistance with disagreements with your stepchildren's mom.
I've been doing this stepmom thing for nearly a decade so at this point, I am confident that Deagan's mom knows I attempt to diffuse the situation the best way I can without getting myself completely involved. I allow Deagan's mom and dad to work collectively, without me interrupting, to solve issues that revolve around Deagan. Also, it is so unfair for me to get involved and the situation become 2-against-1. Feeling ganged up puts anyone in immediate defense mode and this situation will only go from bad to worse.
Friendly reminder, this is what works for my blended family dynamic and may not be the case for yours. These are my personal suggestions on how to approach the situation and create a more comfortable relationship between parents and stepparents.