11/02/2010

Because of the Elephant in the Room

Question:
My husband was offended by something one of my Uncles said to him. He wants to have a "man to man" talk with him to tell him how he feels. I'm afraid it is going to turn into a hot head scream fest and will become a bigger issue than it already is. We see this Uncle all the time at family events so I think we need to talk about it, but I'd like to be there to try and keep it under control. What should we do?
-Stuck in the Middle

Answer:
Although I can absolutely see why your Hubby needs to beat his chest and mark his territory, we have now entered the world of adults so we should try and handle this maturely. Recently I had some negative interactions with some of my kids' preschool teachers. I was left feeling like my parenting was being judged, belittled and wondering if they even wanted my kids in their class. But, I really liked the school and especially the director. I knew that if I wanted the situation to work, how I responded could fix or permanently damage the relationship. I decided I wanted to make it work, so I called the director, briefly explained my concerns and asked what I needed to do to help the situation. It worked. The director could sense my frustration but appreciated my aproach and since then, our preschool experience has been great.

I can see how a "man to man" could be effective and maybe even necessary for your husband. So, I support him in his endeavor with three conditions. 1. He needs to have an objective before he goes in. What does he hope to accomplish? Does he just want to voice his hurt, knowing he may not get the apology he deserves? Or is he hoping to rememdy the situation? Whatever it is, he needs to know his positive objective before he gets started. 2. He needs to have a basic plan of how he is going to accomplish this goal. Not necessarily a list of things he is going to say, but a general idea of how he wants to steer the conversation. 3. He needs to take a deep breath and make sure he's calm before he goes in.

Doing these three things will do two things for you guys. 1. It will give you a better chance of actually accomplishing something positive. 2. It will give you support if it does blow out of control. "All he was hoping to do was (let Uncle Jim know he hurt his feelings/ fix the situation with Uncle Jim). So, all he said was(You hurt my feelings when you said XXXX/When you said XXXX, I felt upset, so I am going to XXXX. Is there anything you could do to help the situation?"

If he has an objective and plan, he'll have a better chance of a positive outcome (or atleast more family members on your side if it does blow up. HAHA)

Whaddya think?

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