Do you and your spouse disconnect when it comes to parenting? Listen in to today’s episode to discover how to communicate and cooperate with your spouse when it comes to parenting.
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Doug: How in the world do I get my spouse to be on the same page with me in parenting? I mean, they do everything to undermine my parenting. I serve good food. They serve bad food. I try and have real conversations and they’re always telling us what’s too serious. How, Dr. Leman, can I possibly parent when we’re on the opposite sides of the spectrum? Oh, that’s the question we get to ask Dr. Leman today. Hi, I’m Doug Terpening.
Andrea: And, I’m Andrea.
Doug: And it is so great to be with you today. Welcome. And if this happens to be your first time with us, we want to let you know this is for your education and entertainment purposes only. If the subject matter raises any concerns for you or your child, please go seek a local professional for help. Well, Dr. Leman, today’s question is one of the classics. How do I get my kid to eat? How do I get my kid to stay in their bed? And how do I get my spouse on the same page in parenting? Why is this such a common question, and what can we do about it?
Dr. Leman: Well, believe it or not, Doug and Andrea, it’s a sign of competition in a marriage. Okay. I always love to ask couples the question, who’s winning your marriage? And they sort of look at you with a startled look, what do you mean winning the marriage? Well, who’s winning? Who gets their way? Who’s calling the shots? And see to anybody who’s asked the question, how do I get my spouse to be on the same page, I want to go back and ask the question, wait a minute, have you two ever been on the same page about anything? And my findings anecdotally have been that the answer to that is no, we never have been on the same page. So the question that comes up, how do I get my spouse on the same page is just the result of, hey, now we have children and I can obviously see the great differences in how we see life in terms of I’m law and order, toe the line, authoritarian-based parent and my husband is I didn’t hear that bomb go off. He’s permissive. He gives kids third and fourth chances. He can’t hold them accountable for anything.
Dr. Leman: Well, to really answer that question, we do have a book called the Intimate Connection and another one called The Birth Order Book, which are two great books to read to really get to that question because you, as a spouse have learned to be the person you are from guess who? Your mom and dad, your siblings, that dynamic fluid relationship that exists from the time you’re born to the time you leave the nest and go off the service or get a job, college, or marry. But when you are in an intimate connection, like a marriage, these things are just glaring out at you. You can not ignore the fact that you two see life completely different.
Dr. Leman: And it really tests, I think, the very essence of how strong your marital bond is. And a lot of people marry for the wrong reasons, out of insecurities. I would suggest to anybody who’s asking that question to do some real soul searching. You want to read a good book on marriage, The Intimate Connection. Another one that’s a great book to read is called Sheet Music, which is a sexual guide for couples, but that gets into the basics of what marriage is all about. And then family systems, the system that you came out of, the beliefs you thought about life, how you tackled all the problems that came your way, you’ll find solutions and good information as to why you are the way you are today in that little Birth Order book.
Dr. Leman: So I’ve always said, “Yeah, you can run to a shrink at 350 an hour or whatever, or you can do some self-shrinking at home. Do some reading. Try to put together the puzzle as to why you are the way you are. Because when you say to your husband turn left, he automatically says, no, we’re going to turn right. And that division gets wider and wider and wider and it builds up a wall, a wall that’s cemented by the mortar of indifference, and sooner or later, you’ll get to that place, folks, where that wall is, you’ll be unable to penetrate it and you’ll be strangers. You won’t have a shred of intimacy in your life, and you’ll be lucky to stay married. If you stay married, it will be for the sake of the children, et cetera. I’ve heard that way too many times. So it’s a serious question, okay?
Dr. Leman: If you’re talking about techniques, realize that the fighting you do is an act of cooperation. You have to understand that both of you own this thing, it’s not just one person. And when I say fighting’s an act of cooperation, I mean, you have to know exactly what to say to escalate the battle. For example, if your wife says something is really off the wall and you said to her, “Wow, never thought of it that way,” that doesn’t escalate. Do you see what I’m saying? So you come up with some ways of not getting in each other’s face immediately, but trying to hear the other person out and get behind the other person’s eyes and see how they see life. Because the two of you are not going to see life the same, but you need to live harmoniously, not only for the sake of your marriage but for the sake of your children, because that breeds security in kids. I’ll shut up and let you guys give your insight into what I just said, Andrea and Doug.
Andrea: Well, I was just wondering what are some practical steps that can be taken to break down that wall that might be developing?
Dr. Leman: Well, the first one we’ve already mentioned, that is don’t be so quick to jump on everything. The wow, that’s interesting, tell me more about that. Now, tell me more about that, you talk about a technique, this is in gold. Instead of saying to your husband, “Well, why would you say that?” As soon as you say why to a man you’ve lost him. His defenses are up. He’s going to defend himself and this conversation’s going nowhere. He says something and you say, “Interesting, tell me more about that.” Now, how hard is that to memorize? And that gives that man an opportunity to reach in and literally tell you what’s going on in his head. And then after you’ve listened to what he says, a simple, “Okay, let me see if I have this right,” and then restate to him what you just heard him say. And then again, husbands, if when she restates it, it’s not exactly what you meant, then clarify it. And you volley back and forth using that paradigm and you’ll get to the real issue, whatever it might be.
Dr. Leman: But again, I go back to it’s competition in marriage. And you see it in couples all the time, they correct each other, overcorrect each other, put each other down very subtly sometimes. It just leads to an unhappy environment. And you don’t hang out with people who make you feel uncomfortable. Let me say that again. You don’t hang out with people who make you feel uncomfortable. If your wife makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re going to start hanging out with other people. If your husband makes you feel uncomfortable, you’re going to do your best to avoid him. And that’s how you get to divorce real simply.
Andrea: So Doug, is it true that when I asked you why, that drives you away?
Doug: Oh, without a doubt, yeah. It’s so hard for me to talk. Period. And I’m pretty high on the scale of emotionally available men, but you push too much and I just shut down. It’s just way too hard. Yeah.
Andrea: So, Dr. Lehman’s recommending thing, “Oh, wow, that’s interesting. Tell me more,” would that be more inviting to you?
Doug: Oh, without a doubt. And I would carefully give you one more quasi-thing about what I really think.
Andrea: In your response to me?
Doug: Yep. And then see how you respond. And if you attack me, I’m shutting up and leaving. I’m not staying to fight. I can’t fight.
Dr. Leman: How about this one, Doug, I need your help with something?
Doug: Oh, really. I’m there. What do you mean?
Dr. Leman: See, a man wants to feel needed. And today’s marital mate seems to be very, very self-sufficient, whether you’re a man or a woman. And I think there’s something wonderful about getting to a point in your marriage where you realize I need this other person who sees life differently than me, who has different tastes and different beliefs. I mean, you’re not clones of each other. So trying to get behind each other’s eyes as I like to say, and understand where someone’s coming from is really important. Doug, what’s the date today, broadcast-wise?
Doug: November 17th.
Dr. Leman: Perfect. This is so perfect because in real-time, we’re not far from that. But I want to share something with you that happened with the Lemans. Okay. I am planning on a fishing trip in April with a high school buddy who I love. He is so much fun. He was fun in high school and he’s still fun today as an old guy. And we were going to go up and fish in the San Juan River in New Mexico. Well, the coronavirus has taken its toll up there and the governor has an opened up the place where we want to go fishing. So now I’m looking at alternative places. There’s a place called Lee’s Ferry up near Page, Arizona, right up on the Utah border. It’s about a six-hour drive from where I live. And it’s trophy fishing. You get a guide. You’re in the Colorado River. It’s a beautiful country. I’ve never been up there. So I wanted to take a ride up there. I’ve been anxious to do a little traveling in the car.
Dr. Leman: And I said to Mrs. Uppington, I said, “Honey, how would you like to take a ride with me up to Page, Arizona?” “Where’s Page, Arizona?” I said, “Honey, it’s up on the Utah, Arizona border.” “I can’t go anywhere right now. The holidays are coming.” This is a quote, “The holidays are coming.” I asked that question about October 18th or 19th. The holidays are coming. I mean, it was like mother hen was now molting and losing her feathers before my eyes. I mean, it was just how could you possibly suggest that I could take an overnight? It’d be up overnight, stay at a hotel, come back the next day. Now, I’m telling you, I know this woman. I can watch a TV program with her and I know the split second that tears going to come over that eyelid. I know her that well. And quite frankly, I should have never asked the question because once October 1st rolls around, she is completely controlled by the holidays. The house has to look like Disney Land, okay?
Dr. Leman: Right now, it’s got remnants of a little ghost flying through the window. I’m looking at it and there’s a big sign that says “get spooked” next to it, whatever that means. And we got grandchildren, so she does a lot of that stuff for the grandchildren. But it’s crazy. I know that woman, I should have never asked that question. Does it make any sense whatsoever that she couldn’t take an overnight and pause for a couple of days? No. It makes no sense whatsoever. Of course, she could. But I know her well enough to know at this time of year, all of the sudden, I don’t know if it’s sugar plums dancing in her head or whatever it is, but she gets it in her mind, and of course, the kids are coming for Thanksgiving, most of them, and then all of them are coming for Christmas, so she’s already in high gear.
Dr. Leman: I went to take the garbage out early this morning. Now here’s a real fact from a Leman’s house. At five o’clock this morning, I took the garbage out and I put it in the back of her Highlander and I drove it down the road. It’s quite a ways down to the garbage place. But when I opened the back seat, I thought, oh, no, what is that? That’s what I said to myself. Oh, what is that? And I don’t know, she’s got umpteen more decorations in there. The garages are full of decorations. So I’m just telling you, I’m a psychologist, I wrote the books, I ask the stupid questions too. I should know better, okay? At this time of year, when she’s molting, I just got to let her molt. So there it is full disclosure on our podcast.
Doug: So, Dr. Leman, now that you’re laying down on the couch, should we go through some more therapy sessions with you while you’re confessing?
Dr. Leman: Well, the bottom line is we’re working toward the intimate connection. And the intimate connection is that ability just to be on a same tone, the same heartbeat as your mate. I’m the first to tell you that most couples don’t have that. The great majority of couples do not have that. Is it something that’s worthy of working toward? Very much so. Can you get there? You can, with hard work, with full disclosure, with honesty, and transparency on both of your parts. That little Intimate Connection book I’m telling you, it is worth the price. I don’t know, I think we’re giving it away at a $1.99 this month or something like that, whatever it is. But that is a powerful little book. If you know that your marriage could use just a little help, jump on that book, jump on that opportunity.
Doug: Well, with that said, it is, you’re right. Between now and the end of November of 2020, wherever eBooks are sold, you can get it for a mere buck-99. And, Margaret, wrote in something, Andrea.
Andrea: Yeah, this is what Margaret says, “Secrets to a Lifelong Romance. What does it look like to own your own junk and become a healthy individual mentally and emotionally so that you can relate on a better level with others, specifically your spouse in this one. Dr. Lehman covers 13 secrets to lifelong romance starting with changing ourselves first, then identifying what outside forces have shaped us and what kind of preconceived notions do we hold onto. He does a great job of helping the reader see how this is impacting them and their spouse.
Doug: So wherever you get your eBooks, get it now. There’s only a little bit of time left between now and the end of November of 2020. And now, a no-nonsense parenting moment with Dr. Kevin Leman.
Dr. Leman: I get questions frequently about appropriate dress. What’s appropriate? I get these from people in schools, teachers, administrators, I get them from parents. Here’s my tip on inappropriate clothing. Be the parent you need to be. If something is inappropriately worn, the next thing in life, whatever it is, for example, catching the school bus, being driven to school does not happen. So, parent, you’re the ones. Don’t rely upon the school. School’s got way too many rules. But you can have rules, general rules about looking appropriate, not looking for appropriate. All I’m asking you to do is exercise your God-given parental control, a simple, “Honey, the car’s not leaving until you change. That’s mighty inappropriate.” Now, they’ll fight you. They’ll have a blowout. If they’re late for school, let them be late. Call school and tell them they’re late. Ask if they’ll talk to your daughter about being on time next time. There’s a lot of ways to skin the proverbial cat. But inappropriate dress is not allowable in your home.
Doug: Okay, Dr. Leman, you had your moment on the couch. Now, it’s Andrea and I’s turn for our moment on the couch. Are you ready, Andrea? So here’s our big fear in what you’re talking about, about getting on the same page and stop competing is, we are both afraid that we are going to get walked over by the other person, that we have our desires, we have our things we’d like to do, and they’re not the same, right? Andrea wants to do gardening and I want to go loud and explosive. And how do we get over that fear that we’re just going to have to give everything up for the other person so that we can have this intimate connection?
Dr. Leman: Well, I think it’s a age-old concept of putting each other first. I think that takes a mental toughness on your part. We’re all hedonistic people. I’ll tell you one of the things that, and this is just self-disclosure that I keep reminding me about in my own life is, God hates pride. Pride is really easy. It’s really easy to get full of yourself, to think only of yourself. I was at the gas station the other day and this guy behind me, he was pretty old and he was really moving slow. And it just warmed my heart, the guy up from behind me, the guy behind him, we were at a Costco. If you ever bought gas at Costco, you know those lines can be long because I paid a $1.75 for the gas to give you an idea, a gallon. But this younger guy jumps out of a Jeep and he says to this guy, “Can I help you with that, sir?”
Dr. Leman: And it just warmed my heart to see that. Mrs. Uppington, the lady I’m married to, is famous for buying someone lunch. She loves Starbucks. She’s always buying Starbucks for people. I don’t know how she does that. I don’t know how she estimates what they order or whatever, but somehow she gets it done. But it’s just what I’m saying is I think it’s basic commitment to really honoring this woman, honoring this man you live with and doing things that you know pleases him, pleases her.
Dr. Leman: And, here’s the kicker. The important statement here is you don’t have to love doing that, you just have to do it. And that’s, I think, what part of sacrificial love is all about, servant love is all about. You want what’s best for him. You want what’s best for her. So there’s times you say … And you do things. You set up things that she will like. It’s those little things that bring that, “Oh, you’re so sweet.” When you do that, man, I’m telling you hit her hotspot. That’s just flat out simple. You’re watering that marital plant with healthy water whenever you do that, believe me. And it’s going to pay off for both of you.
Andrea: You said that it’s not necessarily something we’re going to like doing. Do we eventually come around to liking it?
Dr. Leman: Some people do. If you read Sheet Music, you’ll get an earful there on things that couples engage in sexually. I mean, I’ve had so many people behind closed doors and talking about marriage over the years, but people who hated certain aspects of their sexual life who now love them, look forward to it. I mean, people change, The old ad, “Mikey likes it. He likes it.” Sometimes you have to try some things. You do some experimentation, you have fun. I talk with our teachers yesterday at one of our schools, I gave them a professional development talk and I reminded them that at Leman Academy of Excellence, fun is a natural part of what we do. It’s part of our curriculum. Learning ought to be fun. So make sure that classroom teaching is fun. Engage with the scholars and don’t do all the talking, get them involved, get them talking, ask for their opinions, especially the junior high guys, the middle-schoolers. Ask a middle-schooler their opinion, they all have opinions. So anyway, none of what we talk about on our podcast, folks, is rocket science, none of it.
Andrea: Here’s my little story. I don’t really enjoy watching sports. But recently the Dodgers did really well in the World Series and I watched more baseball with Doug than I have in forever. And I would say in the past, “No, that does not sound fun.” But it was really fun to watch the final game with him the other night. And we made a poster before he came home, “Go Dodgers” with balloons. And I put on blue and white. I really wanted to get into the moment. And I would say, I actually really enjoyed it. It was super fun. We cooked hot dogs for dinner, just tried to get into the moment. So there’s some hope for you ladies, that if it’s not something you necessarily enjoy, keep on like Dr. Leman said, just do it to honor them, and then eventually it might be fun for you.
Doug: Well, and to follow-up on that is the idea that gardening hasn’t been my top 10 things, but we worked at it and I found a way that I can engage with your gardening and I enjoy it now too. So we’re getting there. It just takes a little bit of time.
Andrea: 22 years.
Doug: 22 years.
Dr. Leman: See, you got a wonderful wife there, Terp, I’m telling you. That made me smile from ear to ear. I can see her in her blue and white. It also reminded me that Mrs. Uppington, she likes to have Super Bowl parties, okay? And last Super Bowl, I mean, she’s got the decorations, she’s got table cloths that look like fields with a hundred yards on them, okay? And the people are arriving, they’re arriving and she says to me, “Who’s playing?” I mean, she doesn’t have a clue. She didn’t know who was in the Super Bowl. But she put a great party and I’m sure she got some satisfaction out of knowing that that would be fun for me as well.
Andrea: That’s great.
Doug: That’s great. So back to parenting, how do I get my spouse on the same page as parenting? One of my biases that you can tell me I’m wrong on, which I often am, we’re talking about this lofty goal of stopping the competition and being on the same page. Is it a introductory step to say, “Hey, let’s at least agree that this is how we’re going to parent?” And my bias is that I think this is why I love Have a New Kid by Friday, Parenting Without Losing Your Mind, and The Birth Order Book because then at least you guys can agree this is what we’re going to shoot for in our parenting. How much does that help resolve the conflict?
Dr. Leman: Well, it does help, Doug, and you want to have a cerebral conversation. There’s other times where you’ve got a husband or a wife who refuses to do things, and it’s going to sound childlike to some, but sometimes you have to say, “Okay, listen, I’ll tell you what, you deal with it then, okay?” And that’s putting the tennis ball life over on the other side of the court. Now many times that will spur anger and bitterness. There might be a blow-up over that. But again, I go back to, I’d rather have a blowout and get it resolved then to have it slow leak it to death.
Dr. Leman: So the other person who isn’t, quite frankly, doing their job, they’re not really being a partner so to speak. They need to be shown and feel what it’s like to handle things by yourself. It’s not easy. So again, is there an easy all answer for every couple? There isn’t. But what we talked about earlier in this podcast is downright profound because chances are you didn’t agree on a lot of stuff before you walked down the aisle and you decided in your own mind that that wasn’t a big difference because you were in love and love is going to take care of everything. Well, I got news for you. Love doesn’t always take care of everything. You have to have a like-minded spirit. You got to be pulling the rope in the right direction or there’s going to be mutiny somewhere along the line.
Doug: Well, we sure appreciate this question that you guys ask us on a regular basis about how do I get my spouse on the same page. And, Dr. Leman, again, takes us to the deeper level of we’re in competition with our spouses, which Andrea, I think is just great for us to remember sometimes. And I really did love the Dodger thing by the way. That was really fun. I forgot to tell you. I apologize. And a super thing to help you is the book Intimate Connections. I mean, you can get it for a $1.99, that’s like nothing on eBook, between now and the end of November. Read it for yourself and then go, “Wow. I should buy a copy and give it to my spouse for them to read it too.” And then it would be an amazing stocking stuffer for them. Well, it was great to be with you and we love helping add to your parenting toolbox so that you can love your kids and your spouse more and more.
Andrea: Have a great week.
Doug: Look forward to the next time. Bye-bye.