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Husband reacted a way I disagree with - help

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  • Husband reacted a way I disagree with - help

    Hi.. I have a 23 mnth old daughter. My husband ADORES her and is really attentive, joyful with her, engaging and I hear them laugh and have a good time and she loves him. He made it so he works from home to be with her more, I mean, he is v dedicated.

    Just as a note, him and I have been having problems but manage to keep the peace and we do a good job as a team, as a family unit and as co parents.

    He says himself, very insightfully, that he is triggered by 'food mess'. He doesn't mind toys thrown around etc etc but food mess really triggers him. For a while I asked him to eat dinner away from us, b/c my daughters throwing food on the floor was bugging the heck out of him & he was feeling v anxious (stuff left over from his childhood - he knows that) and was reacting in ways him and I did not like. So, he did and then stayed when he felt he could handle it. Today, he was holding her down the street and she had some jogurt and it spilt on him and he said really angryily 'look what you've done' and then I said she didn't do it on prupose and he put her down abruptly, huffed and puffed and then he stormed off saying he knew that but didn't need to be happy about it. She didn't seem to bat an eyelid, but I didn't like this & don't want to 'lecture' him - he hates it and I hate doing it.

    What do I do? any suggestions or similar experiences ?

  • #2
    It's hard when parents disagree on an appropriate reaction to a situation regarding kids. It's difficult when something may bother one parent but not the other. Or when one parent reacts harshly to something and the other doesn't think it's necessary. It took me a while to realize that certain things bother my husband more than me...he is a lot more upset about food spilling (especially on him) than I am!

    I think it's good that you recognized that 1) your daughter seemed unaffected by his outburst, and 2) that food mess is one of his triggers. That already allows you to be more understanding of what's going on at that moment, and to attend to your daughter appropriately. Here, "appropriately" might mean to just take her away and continue your normal interactions while Dad goes to get cleaned up. If she doesn't seem to be bothered by the outburst, I probably wouldn't say anything further to her. Just play & interact as if nothing had happened.

    As soon as your husband was cleaned up, you might want to encourage them to pick up where they left off... to get back to their "happy place". If this happens in other situations, too, it might be good to recognize that your husband needs a moment to calm down, get cleaned up, take a break, or whatever...then come back after his anger has passed. With my own husband, sometimes I have to be fairly insistent (in a kind yet firm way) that he take a break for a minute. This has gotten easier as our kids have outgrown the toddler years...those are the hardest and most trying as far as pushing our buttons!

    Being proactive (like eating somewhere else for a while) is a great tool to use, as is having your husband take a positive time out to calm down & collect himself before he says/ does anything in appropriate. It sounds like you both are already working towards some positive solutions!


    • #3

      Thanks Kelly - thank you so so much. ALso, thank you for your reply about my daughter hitting and normalizing it for me... I am coping - most of the time - with it better. I really really appreciate your time, your openess and understanding. I truly helps.

      This evening she was so tired, after a restless night, a short nap on the run and busy day shopping at the mall - v v rare for us to be there at all. Anyway, she got tired a 6pm, rather than her usual 8pm and bit my nipple out of frustration during a meltdown. I said " I know you are frustrated and tired and I understand, but don't bit my nipple" - it really hurt actually - she was beside herself, I hope this was OK. I was quite snappy about the hitting earlier in the day or yesterday, didn't handle it that well, but I think this was an OK thing to say ...


      • #4
        It's really hard when you watch your spouse, co-parent do something that really bothers you, it sounds like your husband recognized his trigger and needed to get out of the situation, not the perfect way to handle it, but it sounds like he already knows that. I would try and work on how you can intervene so that if you see something that you know is a trigger for him or ask him what his triggers are you can intervene and say something like, hey hunny why don't we go do this while Daddy get's cleaned up. My husband flips out when my daughter starts screaming (his childhood issue) and she is a screamer he has screamed at her to shut-up he has sworn a few times and I want to murder him when he does this, I often yell at him that it is unacceptable to talk to her like that, don't ever yell at her like that. I'm trying to realize that it is a trigger for him and he doesn't know how to stop before he reacts so I do my best to keep the scream fests away from him or encourage him to leave the room when she's tantruming, sometimes it's not possible and he and I have talked about how after he blows up he needs to apologize to her and explain that what Daddy did was very wrong and he will try harder next time.

        It doesn't help when I yell at him that just continues to blow the trigger but it is so so hard not to, he's yelling at my precious baby. I try and talk to him about it at night when everyone is calm and I use I statements saying I was upset when D was yelling, and it scared me and angered me to hear her get yelled at. Then I ask how I can help prevent that in the future.

        Good Luck!


        • #5
          Mommy Power, thanks for your open and honest post about your experiences; man! sometimes this stuff is sooo hard. I have been a slump in the past 24 hrs because I have been feeling overwhelmed with some situations at home & this has excerbated my difficulty with handling my daughter 'fiddling' with the other boob when breastfeeding - I mean, I find it kind of irritating, but can handle it by reading, thinking about something else or I redirect her to do something else, like stroke etc - its the nipple fiddling that just bugs me. However, when I am tired, aggravated or being triggered by my husband, I find it near impossible to be ok with it. So, yesterday, I was pulling her hand away and then she woke from a v short nap and I was so in need of a break, and she kept grabbing the other breast and eventually I pulled it away and said 'don't touch me' all harsh - feel dreadful and soooo un - AP when I do that. She just looked at me, later I apologized and she was adament to touch it.

          Anyway, I guess I had to off load and kind of 'confess' cos' I found my behaviour unacceptable. Also, I think you are doing the best you can with your husband, and I think this is v painful and extremely hard. Is he open to therapy/counseling? It seems he does have insight in to his childhood stuff...

          Thank you for the empathy and relating this to your life - it really, really helps. Support is essential!


          • #6
            I am very fortunate in that my husband is very in tune with his issues and regularly seeks out counseling knowing that the toddler years are full of triggers for him, so he does a really good job of saying hey I'm not able to handle this on my own and get's the help he needs. I'm a counselor too so that helps me out and we try and work together to know when his triggers are getting out of hand.

            And please don't feel bad about reacting to the twiddling, it has got to be the most frustrating and uncomfortable experience in the world. My daughter and I agreed at one point that she could rest her hand over my nipple but no twiddling. When she starts to twiddle I pull her hand away gently and then she goes rest rest, and I will let her rest her hand again. But we have had a crying fits because I can't handle the twiddling and it's comforting to her.

            We aren't perfect, and we all just try our best, and we can't beat ourselves up for our slip up's we are doing everything we can, and I always think how would I want my daughter to react to herself when she doesn't live up to her own standards and I try and apply that to myself too. I certainly don't want her to beat herself up, and think she's any less because she is human and let herself down.