My husband and I get along pretty good except in one area. He is overly trusting and I am overly cautious and we are trying to find a middle ground. See, I deal in missing and abused children and am an advocate for both. I have seen some pretty horrific stories about both. I don’t think that my boys, 5 and 3, should go to the bathroom alone if the bathroom of a public place is out of sight, but my husband disagrees. While I feel pretty safe in St. George, I am not completely willing to trust my children wandering off alone without always having my eyes on them. My husband thinks if they can get to the bathroom and find their way back they should be fine and I should allow them to go alone. I disagree, as I know it only takes a second of not looking and watching your children and someone could snatch them, they could wander off, et cetera. My question is how do we find a middle ground without more fighting about it? I have let up a little as long as I am in a surrounding that I completely trust and he has given in a little – but only to shut me up.
I’m not going to play referee about which of you is more correct. You both have excellent points to consider and you also both struggle to hear each other’s points of view.
Dr. John Gottman has written extensively about this dynamic where a couple gets gridlocked on an issue and won’t budge. There are reasons each of you can’t move toward the other’s side on this. It’s critical for your relationship that you slow down this discussion and really find out why it’s so strong for each of you.
Instead of trying to explain your side of the issue to convince your partner, try explaining yourself in a way that explains why this is so important to you. Share from the heart and try allowing your partner the same opportunity. If it turns into a debate, then take a break and start the conversation again another time. This is a long conversation you won’t solve in one sitting.
Dr. Gottman even has a sample list of questions your partner can ask you in his book “The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work” and other tips to help you stay connected to your husband while you guys talk through this issue.
You have some strong feelings about this issue that come from your background in working with real life-and-death situations involving innocent children. I can imagine how much this changes the way you treat your own children in public. However, recognize that your husband is most likely reacting to your intensity about this issue and trying to counterbalance your energy so your children aren’t overprotected. He clearly has his own reasons for resisting your efforts that are important for you to better understand.
When you both understand each other’s worlds more clearly around this issue, it’s actually more likely you’ll be able to give a little more without resentment and then you will be able to support one another.
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Geoff Steurer is a licensed marriage and family therapist in private practice in St. George, Utah. He specializes in working with couples in all stages of their relationships. The opinions stated in this article are solely his and not those of St. George News.
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