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Hubby Keeps Butting-In

Frustrated from Salt Lake City, Utah writes... Hey Hans, My husband will interfere during conversations I’m having with my kids. Oftentimes, when my kids come to ask me a question my husband will jump in before I can say a word. Other times he will walk into the room and demand to know, “what’s going on." I’ve talked to him about it before, but after a week it comes back.

Thank you for writing Frustrated,

You wrote "my kids," but if we assume he has just as much right to speak to your kids as you do, and it's just a matter of his timing, then the work is in establishing how you'd rather accept his input. Be as clear as you can be about what's bothering you and the alternative you'd prefer - the rules of engagement, so to speak.

With that said, you two may be half-way there. The asking "what's going on" part seems like a reasonable question and an opportunity for you to decide whether or not his input is helpful. You can always ask him to stand down.

Of course, if this reflects a more profound concern, consider that any long-standing habit doesn't just cease to exist. Very stable threads support behaviors. What positive intention may lay underneath your husband's interrupting? Perhaps, he is just trying to help? He might have or (feel he has) expertise on a particular issue.

On the other hand, butting-in may be his way of getting attention, fearing a loss or lack of connection with his children. And if relevant, he wouldn't be the first parent to be slightly envious of the other partner's bond with the kids. Noticing and speaking to your husband's unresolved need may pave the path to meet yours.

It's impossible to know what's in his head or heart, but thinking of him as you speak to him would serve you well in finding out. You'll need to set aside time to directly and honestly address this.

Parenting as a couple is a partnership. And just like dance partners, negotiating the shared space between you is where the magic lives. Sometimes the music is slow, sometimes it is fast and busy. As stress and circumstances challenge your relationship, dancing together, trying not to step on each others' toes, yielding here and there, is the way to dance gracefully.

[Here are few tips]:

  1. Agree to spend a dedicated moment talking about your concern.

  2. Communicate how the interrupting makes you feel.

  3. Be open and listen with curiosity (not judgment) to what your husband says.

  4. Collaborate on rules of engagement for future talks with your kids.

  5. Agree on a soft signal if the rules are broken.

I hope this helps a little. Take the best of care. ~ Hans


Hans is an ICF-certified executive coach at Inner Confidential, specializing in mental fitness and Gottman methodologies for healthy relationships, and a NASM CPT specializing in weight loss and behavior change at the SoFit Network.

Disclaimer: The Helpline Podcast is not a crisis resource. If you are in a crisis and need immediate help, please contact your local emergency services or go to the nearest emergency room.

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