Married With Benefits™

4: What If We Butt Heads Over Parenting?

with Shaunti Feldhahn | April 15, 2019
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Do you and your husband butt heads over the kids? Are you often stuck being the disciplinarian while he gets to be the fun parent? Why would God put together two parents that are bent in such different directions? Shaunti Feldhahn and Brian Goins give three tips for handling those moments when you reach a parenting impasse ... plus a secret to helping your husband see things from your point of view. Remember, parenting stuff always becomes marriage stuff. Even your differences can pull you together.

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  • About the Guest

Do you and your husband butt heads over the kids? Are you the disciplinarian while he plays the fun parent? Shaunti Feldhahn gives three tips for dealing with parenting impasses, plus a secret to help your husband see your point of view.

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4: What If We Butt Heads Over Parenting?

With Shaunti Feldhahn
April 15, 2019

Brian: From the FamilyLife Podcast Network this is Married With Benefits. I’m Brian Goins on a relentless pursuit to help you love the one you’re with and discover all the benefits that come with saying, “I do.”

This has been a fun season so far. We have been asking Harvard educated, which I just like saying, and researcher and author Shaunti Feldhahn about all of the different questions that wives are asking. So, if you’ve missed any you want to go to and check it out.

In this episode we’re going to be asking the question, “What if we butt heads over parenting?” So, Jenn I hope you’re listening.

Shaunti, as I learned this morning, you would call yourself an eye-opener. You help open the eyes for men and women—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: —and really open our eyes to the little things that make a huge difference.

Shaunti: That’s sort of what I feel called to do with all this research; yes.

Brian: I love that. I’ve always thought I’d love to be a thought-leader. That sounds really cool.

Shaunti: Because it sounds really cool.

Brian: It sounds—like, “I want to be a thought-leader.” So, I don’t know what I would lead in thoughts; but then I heard eye-opener. I’d like to be that for people. I want to be an eye-opener.

Shaunti: The problem is when—because when I was having my eyes opened about all of these things, and sometimes, I’m like—“You know I really wish I didn’t know that now.”


Brian: Yes, because now it’s really easy for your husband to go back and go—“Didn’t you read For Women Only. Don’t you know what’s”—

Shaunti: I’ve actually had friends come alongside me at dinner and we’re having a clash or whatever—they put their hand on my shoulder and say, “Um, there’s this book you need to read.” “Shut up. Stop it.” [Laughter]

Brian: Right. I know. My wife has said the same thing about me, where she’s like—“Hey, haven’t you read this. This is what you wrote about how to love me well.” So, I get that. Well, today, we’re going to be touching on a subject I know that I’ve dealt with that my wife Jenn and I have come to—I wouldn’t say blows, but we’ve definitely come to—

Shaunti: I hope not.

Brian: —yes, not blows—but we’ve had issues where it’s like she parents a certain way. She looks at the kids and the way they should be and how we should approach them; and then I do a little bit differently. She would say I, too often, am the fun guy. I’m the one that the kids go to when they want to have fun; but she has to be the disciplinarian. She’s the one who kind of makes life work.

I heard another friend yesterday that said, “Yes, my wife is like oxygen, and I’m ice cream.”

Shaunti: Okay, you have to explain that because I’m like—“What?”

Brian: Yes, what does that mean?

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Oxygen—the idea is the metaphor, and he wants to write a book on this: oxygen and ice cream. She brings what’s necessary for life. She’s around them a lot. So, she makes sure they’re actually dressed well for school or for the cold or for whatever. She takes care of all the school stuff, and she provides for the—making sure dinners—they are well fed. They actually eat their vegetables. He’s ice cream. He comes in, and it’s all about the fun. He travels a lot. So, when he gets back, it’s like—

Shaunti: “Daddy’s home.”

Brian: —“Yay, the fun is there.”

Shaunti: Okay, you know that every wife listening to this grinding her teeth going—“This is exactly what it feels like half the time.”

Brian: Yes. I know it’s like different. There are sometimes where the wife is that way. She’s more the fun, and the guy is the disciplinarian; but everybody seems to parent a little bit differently.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: So, what happens when—“Hey, we are butting heads over this because it’s a pretty significant issue?” You’ve got two kids. I’ve got three—a lot of personalities / a lot of opportunity for conflict.

Shaunti: All over the map—and the thing, honestly, that—it’s interesting, as we talk about marriage stuff, how often parenting stuff becomes marriage stuff; you know? How often these differences really get in the way of what your wanting which is a strong marriage.

It’s really interesting. For us, for example, this has just happened a couple of days ago. My son—he tries really hard. He has some learning issues. He’s ADD. He was trying hard, but he didn’t study the way that his dad had asked him to. Jeff works with him a lot. So, he comes home with a D—

Brian: Ooh.

Shaunti: —on a test.

Brian: D is not for dynamite.

Shaunti: No, it is not and he has his challenges. So, we don’t want to, sort of, overreact too much; but he did not give it his best shot; right? So, Jeff—he is mad. He is feeling like—“I spent all this time with you. You did not steward that correctly. So, we are going to turn off Netflix, and we are going to cancel our subscription to Netflix”—

Brian: Wow.

Shaunti: —“because the kids are using that too much to procrastinate,” which is actually true; right?

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: I can use that to procrastinate. It can be a really bad tool.

Brian: I don’t want to make Jeff mad because I like Netflix.

Shaunti: You like Netflix—yes; exactly. But he was like—“Okay, we are going to turn it off.” I’m thinking, “You know actually, it’s a pretty good incentive to have”—

Brian: As a reward?

Shaunti: —as a reward out there. If you do this or that or the other thing, then, yes, absolutely, you can take your 40 minutes and watch your show—or whatever.” I’m thinking, “We as a family, we don’t have really the money right now to go out to movies. So, having Netflix on a Friday night, we can pick a movie as a family.” And I’m thinking, “OH!” It became an issue for us—

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: —between the two of us because he knew I disagreed. He’s like—“This is what we’re going to do.” I realized, “Okay, this is a perfect example of where what do you do when you have two very, very different approaches.”

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: For me, with that one, I had to actually go—“Okay, we’re all emotional right now, and here’s what I’m going to do. I’m going to just say, ‘Here’s my opinion, and here is why.’”

Brian: And when did you do this? Did you pull him aside? Were the kids around?

Shaunti: No, definitely not when the kids were around.

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: He’s like—“This is going to happen,” and I’m thinking, “Oh!” So, I’m like—“Can I talk to you out in the garage,” because that’s the only place we can get away from the kids; you know? So, we walk out there, and he’s got the look on his face. I’m like—“Look, let’s just let you process this, but here is what I’m thinking.” I went boom, boom, boom. I told him—I said, “But why don’t you think about it, and let me know what you come to—the decision you come to.” It was interesting because I had to take some of my own advice—

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: —and remember guys actually process differently than women do—I mean most of the time.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And where I am instantly like—“Okay, we’re going to talk about it”—blah, blah, blah, blah, blah; and I’m processing out loud. I’m thinking out loud.

Brian: Okay.

Shaunti: That’s the way the female brain is wired. For him, he really, truly needs to have time and for me not to overreact and think the first thing he says is what’s going to happen because he needs to take away and go and sit with it—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: —and think it through. Then he needs to hear me say—and this hard for me as a woman—but he needs to hear me say—unless it’s something that I feel extremely strongly about—“This is my opinion; but if you feel really strongly, I’ll go with you on this.” And to be able to say, “You are one that God has entrusted as leader of our family. So, if you end up feeling really strongly and you just end up disagreeing with me completely, then I will go with you.” That is hard for me as a woman.

Brian: I think that’s hard for anyone. It would be hard for guys to do the same thing; but for you to be able to say, “I’m going to trust that God is going to change his heart or direct his heart”—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: —“and let go,” that’s big.

Shaunti: Well, it’s trusting God more; you know? It sounds very trite, but it’s actually very true. It is one of the most important things that I have seen—and this is in the research; this is for me as a woman / for me as a wife—is it’s really more about trusting God than it is about trusting the husband even.

Brian: It is a weird phenomenon that a guy goes through. I know for me. I know we often say that we’re kind of this secret society of women and one token guy—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: —asking the questions that it’s difficult for wives to know how to voice or who to voice them to; but I know for me as a guy, if you were to come out and go—“That’s a dumb decision. You take away Netflix.”

“Now, I’ve got to deal with that”—

Shaunti: Exactly.

Brian: —especially if it’s done in front of the kids—which is true. That’s a very true thing; but when you say it like that versus if you leave me with the choice, I’m now in a quandary. It’s almost unfair because now, I’m going—

Shaunti: Okay, you have to describe what you mean by quandary.

Brian: Well, what I mean by that—it’s like—“Okay, she’s just told be what she thinks, but she’s leaving the decision with me. Do you I want to please my own self? I feel like I need to do this, but now, she’s leaving me the opportunity to please my wife.” And I think every guy, deep down—

Shaunti: Interesting.

Brian: —wants to please his wife. So, I don’t want to please you when you’re demanding it or commanding me—

Shaunti: That is fascinating—yes.

Brian: —but I do want to please you when it’s my choice. Isn’t that weird? That’s the quandary I feel.

Shaunti: In other words, without realizing it, my strategy was actually a good one—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: —because it sort of put the ball in his court.

Brian: It’s sneaky is what I’m saying.

Shaunti: Sneaky—thank you; okay. So, if Jeff is listening to this, this was not purposeful. I didn’t do that to be sneaky; but it sounds like it is a good strategy.

Now, here’s the thing, though, seriously, Brian. Every woman who is listening to this is going—“You’ve got to be kidding me. But what happens when his decision is wrong?” That’s the hard part. That’s the—“What happens when his decision is the wrong decision”—and he comes back, and he says something that you disagree on completely.

Like, you completely disagree that getting rid of Netflix is a good idea: “It’s going to cause more problems for me. I’m going to have figure out how to entertain them on Friday night when you’re off travelling or whatever. So, what do I do?”

That is, for the average woman who has opinions like me—to me, that’s the—“Gosh, do I really believe that God says that he is really one who in the end has to stand before God about leading the family? And how much do I push, and how much do I say, ‘Okay, go for it. You make the decision,’ as opposed to—‘Fine! You make the decision?’” How do I do that with an attitude of—

Brian: Where you really mean it.

Shaunti: —where I really mean it. And I’m curious for you as a guy: What happens in your heart when you know that Jenn disagrees with a decision that you are making; and she says, “Okay, I’m going to go with you,” and she means that even though she disagrees? What happens in your heart?

Brian: I would say that there are times when I feel pretty strongly about it, and I go—“You know I recognize that both of us have blind spots”—that there are times where Jenn will give me an opinion that I disagree with that I end up going with her opinion because, maybe, she has a little bit more insight into this area—maybe, she knows the kids more / maybe, she recognizes the ramifications a little bit more.

If I come in as a dad and I see my kids and they’ve been playing on an iPhone for too long and I just get mad and I just respond—because that’s too often what happens in parenting—is we make most of our decisions in an emotional state that are irrational.

Shaunti: Including us as women—

Brian: Right; yes.

Shaunti: —it’s not just guys. I mean we do that, too.

Brian: And I’m not even thinking about what—I’m just thinking about the moment, and I go—“Okay, I’m going to take away the iPhone; and I’m going to take it away for a whole week.” Well, I’m travelling or I’m out. So, I’m putting my wife in a bad situation.

So, there are times where I go—even if I disagree with Jenn—I might go—“You know what? She has a little bit more about line of sight than I do”; but there are times where I’m going, “I feel like I’m right on this.” Even though I’m risking it by going against this with Jenn, I go—I want to say to her or I want to have the, hopefully, the courage to go as we watch that decision mete out and how it—

Shaunti: Unfolds.

Brian: —how it unfolds—that I’m willing to go—“That was my call, and it wasn’t a good one”; or for Jenn to come back and go—“You know what? That was the right call.”

Shaunti: Well, there’s the issue for, I think, a lot of us as women—is our brains instantly—and this is the way God has wired our brain; I’m not saying this is necessarily a bad thing but our brains instantly go to all these different directions that could come from this. In our sinful nature, they often go to the worst things that could happen—

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: —from this. You’ve taken away the iPhone, you’re off travelling, and the kids—your daughter gets into an accident and—“What happens if she doesn’t have her iPhone because her dad took it away?”

Brian: Right; right.

Shaunti: You have all of that in your brain. What I have realized is that a lot of that is building something up that’s never going to happen; and to be willing to come back and to say, “You know what? This wasn’t a catastrophe.”

Brian: Yes. So, when you think about, like, making these steps—because I know you said you and Jeff have dealt with this; right?

Shaunti: All the time; yes.

Brian: What would you say your bent is as a parent versus Jeff’s bent as a parent?

Shaunti: It’s very much the same thing. I’m very much—“Have you done your homework?” “Well, no.” “You have college applications, young lady”; you know? I don’t say it in those actual words; but according to my daughter, that is the—

Brian: That is how it comes across.

Shaunti: —that is what she’s hearing. Yes, that’s what she’s hearing—so having to do that. Jeff is an incredible dad, but he is that—he wants to be that fun dad, and he is. That is a calling, I think, that we as women have to recognize also.

There is a difference between how dads are wired and how moms are wired, I mean, all over the world where dads are more adventure oriented and fun. There are plenty of us as women who are fun, too. It’s just different. We do have to let that dad fun stuff happen, too, and not just say discipline, discipline, discipline, discipline.

Brian: So, to the wife who is out there right now going—“Okay, yes, but when is too much fun too much? It’s not fair. I end up being the un-fun one”—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: —“because who wants to be around the dud; you know?” For the kids to go, “Yes, well, Moms going to keep us in line, but boy, I’d much rather be with Dad.” It’s really easy to separate those two. So, how can a wife speak to that?

Shaunti: Listen, this is one of these areas where the answer is you have to speak to it; but you have to do it very carefully, and you have to do it in a way that honors him because it’s really easy to—“I am sorry. I’m getting my back up even thinking about this.” It’s just—I hate being the disciplinarian all the time; but I realize some of it is I haven’t actually made my expectations known to Jeff in a way that he can hear them, sometimes, where it is really essential. I’ve done it a few times but—where I need to pull him aside / pull him out into the garage—or whatever—

Brian: So, what you’re saying is there are a lot of conversations happening in the garage.

Shaunti: There are quite a few that happen in the garage where I have to pull him out, sometimes—and be willing to do this more than I might do it otherwise—and to say, “You know, I feel like I’m being put in the position of being the bad guy,” and believe the best of him; right? “I know you don’t want to put me in that position.”

Now, some of it—and I’ve had to hear this before—some of it is he’s had to say and gently—“Shaunti, you’re putting yourself in the position of being the bad guy. What you’re trying to do—this is just not as important to me, like, bugging them about the homework—“Have you done the homework?”

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: “Have you done the college application? Have you done the you know what?” Jeff has said this: “I am totally fine if they do not turn in that important homework project, and they fail it.”

Brian: So, almost releasing—

Shaunti: Allowing—

Brian: Yes, allowing them to fail or to mess up.

Shaunti: Allowing that heartbreak / allowing the hard thing to come their way as a natural consequence of their choices; and I’m like—“No, but he’s worked so hard or she’s worked so hard.” Both of those opinions have merit, but you know what? If it’s just up to me, I would be protecting their hearts from those consequences constantly.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: And I do need that other perspective, and I do need to hear—“You know what, Shaunti, you were putting yourself in that position of being the bad guy. I’m not putting you in that position. You are putting yourself”—and going, “Oh, yes.”

Brian: That’s an eye-opener right there just thinking through that maybe, even though we are looking at it from different bents that sometimes our bents are wrong or are off or are just, like—

Shaunti: Or too much of a good thing.

Brian: —too much of a good thing—yes; exactly.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: To be able to go—“Where am I valuing something that—it’s just a value that I pushed too far could become a weakness?”

Shaunti: Well, here’s an example of parenting young ones. When our daughter was 18-months old, and I heard this shrieking outside the house, I’m like—“What’s going on?” Jeff—he loves his little girl, and he fell in love with her from the first moment he held her.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: He was smitten; right? So, he’s taking her out to play in the little playground behind the house. I’m hearing this shrieking. I go and run around the house—“What’s going on?” I see him pushing her on the swing so hard it looks like she’s going to go around the bar. She’s going so high.

Brian: That’s awesome.

Shaunti: Yes. Well, she’s not in a safety seat; okay? Now, I say that in a conference, and all the women go—“Ooh!” All the guys are like—“Yes”; you know?

Brian: How high can we go?

Shaunti: Yes. Jeff’s like—“She’s an adventurer”; you know? I’m running up to him going—“What are you doing?” My natural instinct is to snatch her away and go—“What are you doing?” This incident happened, and it was the most—it was the craziest feeling. I literally felt almost like God grabbed the back of my collar / the scruff of my neck to pull me back from this instinctive, headlong race forward to grab her out of Jeff’s possession.

Brian: Sure; yes—whiplash.

Shaunti: Yes, and I literally felt like God was pulling on me to slow me down to say, “Just think about this for a second. You are about to go grab her. Think about your husband for just a minute. He loves his daughter. He doesn’t want her to die”—right?—because that’s what’s going on in my head: ‘She’s going to fly off and die.’”

Brian: Right; right; yes.

Shaunti: “He loves his daughter. He doesn’t want her to die. Are you going to trust him as a dad or not?” Instant answer is not—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: —because that’s the—

Brian: Right—“Move on.”

Shaunti: —instinctive—

Brian: “Now, I’m going to go grab my daughter.”

Shaunti: Yes, I want to go grab—I want to go grab her. I had to wrestle in that moment with this choice: “Are you going to trust him”—choice trust him / not feeling trust him—

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: —“Are you going to trust him, or are you going to distrust him and grab her?”—and recognize—and this all happened in a five-second period—recognize: “If you do what comes naturally and you grab her out / you take the decision out of his hands as a parent, is he going to take her to the park again? Is he going to engage in this delighted way with his daughter?” It wasn’t shrieking, by the way. She wasn’t shrieking in fright. She was squealing.

Brian: Laughing; yes.

Shaunti: She was laughing. She was enjoying it so much.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: I thought, “Oh my goodness! This is a perfect example of the differences between how men and women parent, and I was just about to tell my husband who is wired by God to parent as an adventurer—I was about to tell him he was wrong.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: He’s a bad parent. He’s inadequate. He’s a failure as a dad. If he feels that way, he’s going to pull away.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: I want him to be engaged. Also, one of the things that I discovered in the research somewhere along the way is that every culture around the world, this is how dads—

Brian: Really?

Shaunti: —parent versus this is how moms parent—yes.

Brian: This is not just an American thing or—

Shaunti: No, this is every culture where, literally, they found a father will let a toddler child get three times further away from him than a mom will—

Brian: Wow.

Shaunti: —because the dad is like—“Yes, go! Run!”

Brian: “He’ll be fine.”

Shaunti: “Yes, skin your knee.”

Brian: And sometimes, I wonder, too, if it’s a difference between a girl or a boy—maybe / maybe not.  I mean—

Shaunti: Maybe? Absolutely maybe.

Brian: I know for me, it’s like—“Well, I realized when my son was born, like, I felt like I wanted to immediately start throwing him in the air, like, even with the umbilical cord attached. Just start—like a bungie cord—just up and down, take the machete off, cut the umbilical cord, and then just—

Shaunti: Keep going—yes.

Brian: —keep going; but when my daughter was born, it was like—“Oh”—I treasured her.

Shaunti: Oh.

Brian: So, it was like—“I’m going to hold her. Don’t want anybody to mess with her. I’m the bear holding this little girl”; but I think sometimes, our differences come out in the gender of our child as well.

Shaunti: That’s a great point.

Brian: I tend to be softer with my daughter, even today as a teenager. Jenn’s like—“You take her to get way too many coffees. You spend way too much money on her. You let her get away with so much”; but I’m like—“But I want my daughter to love me.”

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: Whereas my son, she’ll go—“You’re being a little too hard on Palmer right now.”

Shaunti: Oh, interesting.

Brian: “You’re not demanding as much of him as you would Brantley.”

Shaunti: Interesting.

Brian: So, I think the fact that we’re different—it’s like God puts two different things together. Why? He knows that we have blind-spots. For Jenn to be able to point that out—if I’m not in a place where I can receive that or where you could receive that from Jeff—“Well, here is what you’re missing when you value that too much: that sense of adventure or that sense of protection too much. Here’s what could be missing.”

So, if we’re not willing to be a place of vulnerability and listening and recognizing to believe the best—as what you said—“How can I believe the best about my spouse here in this moment?”

Shaunti: So, here is a question for you. I’m going to circle back to a question I asked earlier that you didn’t answer.

Brian: Okay; good. I like to avoid questions by asking other questions.

Shaunti: So, bottom line: Since this is the question that the wife is asking—and she can’t change her husband and if he does end up valuing something that she doesn’t and there is a decision that he feels strongly about and she is faced with a choice, what happens in your heart when you’re like—“No, I really feel like we’re supposed to do it this way”; and Jenn has made her point known. She feels strongly, but she says, “Okay, I’m going to go with you and go with you without saying with crossed arms and waiting for you to fail kind of—like, “No, I’m going to back you up on this.” What does that do in your heart as the husband, as the dad?

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: What does that do?

Brian: You know for me, it gives me this higher accountability and, I think, more of an awareness of “I hope I didn’t choose wrongly.” So, I’m watching; you know? I’m looking. I’m, now, just heightened to the fact—since she is letting go, now, I feel like it is all on me and—“Did I really make the right choice?” Probably more of a hesitation—maybe, you know what’s going on in my heart, and I don’t even realize it.

Shaunti: No, no. What I’m wondering is if it, then, becomes—“Now, I’m going to analyze it afterward. Was that the right decision?”

So, then, the next time, faced with that choice, maybe, you’re more likely to go her direction if she feels really strongly if the outcome wasn’t, in the end, what you wanted. Which for us as women, the take-away for me from that—if that’s true—is that true-ish?

Brian: Oh, yes, that’s definitely true.

Shaunti: If that’s true, then, the take-away for me is to essentially trust the process enough and trust that this is what God asked of us—that if he feels really strongly / you feel really strongly, your two different things—trust him with the leadership of this; and if it’s a mistake and there is a hurt—that it is not going to be so bad that you can’t get through it—then the next time, he’s more likely to really strongly consider—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: —what you have to say.

Brian: Absolutely. I think, then, you have an example—because you’ve got a conversation; and once you have a conversation, it’s almost like it imprints it somewhere in your mind that—“Hey, do you remember how we talked about this honestly, and it wasn’t emotions coming / being driven  by emotions or reacting. It was more—“Hey, you remember when I said this about Brantley the other day.”

Here’s an example. I would allow Brantley to talk to me in a way that was pretty disrespectful; and I might laugh it off, or I might—because—“Oh, she’s just joking.” Jenn started—initially, she started to be like—“Don’t let her talk to you like that”—right in front of Brantley; and I’m going—“Well, oh, it’s fine”—because I don’t want to damage my relationship with Brantley; but when we sit back and we remove ourselves from the situation, Jenn calmly goes—“Hey, I noticed that you laugh off some things. You are teaching her to treat men and to treat her future husband in a way”—

Shaunti: Wow.

Brian: —“that is disrespectful. Do you want that?” Boy, now—

Shaunti: Wow. Jenn is a smart woman.

Brian: —now, I’m going—when that action happens again, now, I’m looking out for it. Now, my eyes are open to the fact that—“Okay, I can’t just let that reaction go.” Now, Jenn, what she did was she recognized that whenever she would respond reactionary—like in the moment where Brantley does it and she sees it, and I don’t see it; but then, she just jumps in real quickly—it doesn’t work well for either Brantley or for me; but when she pulls me aside, like your first point about—“How do we deal with this when we have two different parenting bents?”—when you pull me out of the situation, and I’m not wanting to please both Jenn or my daughter—

Shaunti: Right.

Brian: —or my kids—

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: —like they are not in front of me. The emotions are separated just a minute. Then, I can kind of step back. I can calmly kind of evaluate the situation again. So, I think that first point of—“If we are in two different bents”—you’ve got to pull yourself out of emotion and the situation—so to pull away—whether it’s a garage or another room or outside—

Shaunti: Well, and we have to—this is a whole other conversation / a whole other podcast; but we have to talk, also, about the fact that, sometimes, it’s not even out. Sometimes, it’s just literally just time.

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: Right? Giving him the time to process simply because that’s the way his brain is wired.

Brian: So, just a couple quick points so that—for those wives that are going—“Okay, I am of a different bent. How do I do this?”

Giving them that time, separating from the situation—you also talked about clarifying expectations.

Shaunti: Yes.

Brian: So, speak just, maybe, a minute on that.

Shaunti: Well, that clarifying expectations—like, for example, “I feel like it’s not fair that I’m having to be the bad guy. In this kind of situation, I would really appreciate it if you would do this or this—if he would back me up or if I give you this signal—

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: —and you see that this is one of those moments”—because he might not have been thinking of it the same way, and I can’t necessarily expect him to; but once he sees that signal from me and the look, he’s like—“Oh, yes; okay, this is that example.” That’s an expectation I can’t get mad at him if I haven’t told him—

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: —that that’s what I’m hoping he’ll do in that moment.

Brian: And that’s a great pro-tip, I think, that idea of the signal or of a look. You talk about that in Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages—is that the book title?

Shaunti: The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.

Brian: —is that great couples / great marriages have these sign languages.

Shaunti: Oh, yes.

Brian: “So, we know that we’re going to have differences of opinion on parenting. We just know we will. So, here’s this signal. When that happens next time, I’m going to raise my eyebrow and kind of cock my head; or I’m going to raise up two fingers; or—I don’t know what it might be.”

Shaunti: Exactly.

Brian: That’s a great pro-tip.

Shaunti: I’ve heard all of those—yes; exactly. But that is something that, again, you can’t get mad at him if you haven’t and then recognizing that sometimes you’re hoping he’ll do it.

I mean because the other to-do here is recognizing what Jeff said to me when we went out into the garage; and I said, “I feel like I’m having to be the bad guy.” He’s like—“You’re putting yourself in that position. I disagree with you. I don’t think we need to be the bad guy about the homework. Let them fail”; right? Recognize that’s just a difference of opinion.

Brian: Right.

Shaunti: The other to-do here that I think that is really important, the take-away for women, is recognizing: If you trust God even more—trusting Him with the process and trusting your husband—then let your husband make the final decision. If he feels more strongly than you do, let—because he is the leader of the family.

If it turns out to be that it wasn’t a catastrophe, go up and tell him, “I was thinking all these bad things would happen, but I see where there’s a benefit”; or if there were a problem, recognize, “Now, the next time, he’s more likely”—

Brian: Sure.

Shaunti: —“to really take seriously what you have to say.”

Brian: Well, I think what you are—

Shaunti: Let him make a mistake, so to speak.

Brian: Let him make a mistake because then it moves the battle between you and him to now it’s a battle—like what I was explaining in my heart what was going on. Now, it’s a battle between me and God. Now, it’s a battle that I’ve got to own; and I’m not just trying to go—“I’m right, and you’re wrong in this situation.” Now, it’s going—“Now, since you pushed that decision back on me, okay, let’s—‘I’m going to trust you’—now, it’s going—‘Okay, do I really stick with this.’”

Shaunti: That’s the sneaky way, I’m thinking.

Brian: That is the sneaky way; but it’s a great way, and it’s trusting way. It’s like—“I’m going to trust God to change my husband’s heart. I’m going to really believe my husband has my best interest and our kids’ best interests at heart.”

Shaunti: That’s the key—

Brian: Yes.

Shaunti: —right there. I mean it’s really truly about believing he’s not dumb; he’s a smart guy; he loves his kids; and he loves me.

Brian: Well, it’s been a great edition and it is fun to be able to tackle these questions. We don’t know where to go with some of these questions; but we want to encourage you.

I bet there are some things you are doing right. I bet there are one or two of these areas that you go—“Yes, I am helping to clarify expectations,” or “I am turning the decision over to him,” or “Maybe, we have started practicing getting—pulling ourselves away from the situation and having a conversation about it.” Man, pat yourself on the back. You’re doing well, but what is the one thing that you go—“I hadn’t thought about that / that was an eye-opener for me; and I really want to walk away trying to work on that this week.” I guarantee you if you’ve got kids, it’s not “if this will happen”; it’s “when.”

Shaunti: Definitely.

Brian: Yes. Shaunti, as always, it’s good to be with you. Here, at FamilyLife, we are passionate about you experiencing oneness in the key relationships of your life. If you need more help and hope, we’ve got it at

By the way, we wanted to also let you know that this podcast is listener supported so we appreciate many gifts from people just like yourself. If you’re interested in donating today you can do that at Just click the word “Donate.”

I want to give special thanks to our audio producer CJ3, our project coordinator Page Johnson for helping to pull this off. We couldn’t do it without their help.

So, ladies, and you fella dudes that are also listening in, thanks for joining us on Married With Benefits. This next question we are going to tackle is one that has plagued many, many wives. “What if my husband doesn’t deserve respect? What do I do?” Well, we look forward to answering that question next time. I’m Brian Goins. This has been Married With Benefits where we’re helping you love the one with. See you next time.


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