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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have been umming and arrring over whether to write this message and where to post it. I will not be upset if it is moved, but you guys in GD forum are my favourites
and I really respect your advice.

My problem is that my DH and I are having BIG problems at the moment and we argue SO much. I wish I could write more specifically about this, but I do not feel ready. Needless to say, this is having an effect on our lovely son (1y3m), who has started crying quite a lot and screaming much more often.

My husband and I talk about stopping arguing because it affects our son and because it makes us unhappy, but we are completely stuck in a rutt. I am not sure whether to go back to England or not, so many bad things have been said.

Anyway, I am asking you for advice (please,please) for how you gently discipline YOURSELF with your spouses? Why have I never (not even nearly) lost my temper with my son, but lose it every day with my DH? I know I have to do something, because whatever happens to my marriage, my son will grow up and probably begin to seem less sweet to me. My background is a very unstable family who screamed, shouted and exaggerated everything, said very nasty things and used physical violence most of the time (yup, it is a struggle
).

Please help!!
xxxx
 

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I come from a family much like yours (-the physical violence) screaming yelling exxagerated responses etc!. My dh and I have been through alot together. He comes from a family that yells alot too! and says things they later regret. I don't say things nasty but I snap at him and he says things that later he has to apologize for, ugh! I know what your going through!
We really love each other and have worked it out that this rarely happes anymore. first we promised to say a phrase that helps us to stop arguing. (when we get into it) one of us to stop it will say.."I love you and I don't want to lose you" and that usually will knock some sense into the instigator.
Seems silly I know but it works. Also you have to amke a concsious effort to stay calm perhaps start taking some calming herbs or homeopathy to start, if you feel on edge alot. Taking time out for yourself!!! It certainly helps me. even if its only a half hour a day to excersise or something.Also Making healthful meals at a regular time everyday makes my dh sooo happy so thats what it takes and I make sure it happens. Be loving.
good luck! ~C
 

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I totally agree with chandraj. The issue with self-care is an important one. I don't think children are any different about having built up frustrations all day and then something causes the dam to break and everything come flooding out all over whoever or whatever *seemed* to trigger it. Fortunately, your child isn't getting the brunt of the frustrations all day directly. But indirectly he still is. Are you suppressing your frustrations all day? What I found was necessary was to find a way to mindfully take care of my frustrations closer to the time of their occurance.

By taking care, I would call a friend to vent; or take a few deep breaths to recenter; and recognize that I have choices and that I am making intentional actions, rather than being on autopilot "I have to" self-talk. I would articulate my needs in my mind and find ways to meet them. I needed to reassess my "to do list" and make it more realistic and less pressured. I needed to decrease the time sensitive demands and leave more prep time for outings that were necessary. I needed to delegate specific requests to dh. I needed more resources and found a mother's helper (two hours of heaven). I asked for help from family (the hardest part). I created a little self-care routine of reading a few pages for enjoyment, a cup of tea, some special food treat (caution), that sort of thing. And planning many possible opportunities for self-care throughout the day allowed me to get some of them in on a regular basis; but miss some without feeling neglected.

Sleep was the biggest issue for me and protein. Exercise helped.

Tools of effective communication were not modelled in my childhood home either (same story, hitting, yelling, sceaming, guilting, punishments, etc.). I have learned much about people's different temperments, perspectives and needs while learning how to communicate effectively with our son. The tools are transferable to my communications with my husband.

"How to Talk so Kids will Listen, How to Listen so Kids will Talk". Seriously, this changed the communication patterns in dh and my relationship to more empathetic and constructive problem solving. We didn't seem to have these issues before ds came along. I believe we just had less pressured time to talk and listen bc; but the short periods when we could talk with child were hurried and directive. The Center for Non-violent Communications at www.cnvc.org has many articles on line which explain the NVC process of conflict resolution to mutual satisfaction also. Basically it is stating your observations, expressing your feeling, stating a need and making a request. And ALSO listen to the other's observations from their perspective, hearing their feelings, listening to their needs and hearing their requests. Then working from a point of identifying the underlying needs to find a mutually agreeable solution.

It is no different than finding mutually agreeable solutions with friends or creating cooperation with your children. These are the tools of reflective listening and respectful communications. CNVC has booklets you could both read, or read on line for ways to change the dynamics. It works but it is a process to learn to communicate without demands, yelling and hurt feelings. It certainlly doesn't happen overnight.

The other book that helped me was "Raising Your Spirited Child". I learned about myself, dh and ds. It discusses personality traits that clash and how to work with them instead of against them.

Rescue Remedy helps too.


Oh, and the grass is not greener elsewhere (even with a lot of rain
). You will still have these communication issues with your family who hasn't learned to communicate any differently.

Pat
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thank you for your replies. Chanraj- I like your phrase "I love you and I don't want to lose you". I told my husband and we are going to try saying that. Thank you also for sharing your experience- it made me feel much more hopeful and determined. I realised that I have got in to some terrible patterns of behaviour and that I do have a choice about it! I also thought about doing something to make my husband happy- he also loves food, so I shall try to make great food for him too. Scubamama- I shall read 'A Spirited Child', I am curious about the personality traits stuff and I shall also find "How to talk so your kids will listen". I honestly do not think that little annoyances are my problem- I do not believe in the 'me-time' idea, since it does not work for me (I still behave the same
), but it got me thinking about deeper reasons that I may be unhappy- I am very ambitious and love to travel and my husband never plans anything (he generally hates discussing the future)...I am very happy with my son, but I do like to plan for the future and this frustration could be a big part of the problem. I am also trying to encourage my husband to express his emotions- he is Japanese and very good at hiding his true feelings, which is hard since he saves it up and becomes really mad sometimes.

Anyway, thank you so much. Any other ideas would be truly welcomed.
 

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I am currently rereading "The Five Languages of Love". The author submits that these are: quality time, gifts, acts of service, physical touch, affirmation. Apparently, we each have a preferred way in which we receive love. And we may be 'giving' love in a way that isn't the way the other partner best *receives* love. For instance, my husband might be doing acts of service for me but I feel most loved when we have quality time together. So, he might be away doing an act of service but I just want him home with me doing something special together instead. He would feel like he gave love but I wouldn't feel like I was receiving the love that I want. Or I might be giving him special gifts when he receives love when we spend quality time together.

There is a new version of the book about "The Love Languages of Children" also. And one about teenagers, I believe.

The book "Getting the Love that You Want" has helpful ideas about *giving* the love that the other wants has a nurturing affect on the love dyad such that the other reciprocates the love that they receive. It has a study guide type workbook in the back of the book for self-counseling and nurturing the relationship. I highly recommend it. It is not a quick fix type book. It nurtures communications and consideration in a relationship.

Pat
 

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Take 5 (stop and think, count to 5, repeat if needed) take it outside, write things down, have time out for yourself, say you will be back and go for a walk or drive even if its just for 10 mins.
I was in this position about 8 months ago, it got physically violent and we were fighting constantly, we both attended councilling (is this an option) as well as individual courses for our anger issues.
I found I was very short with my daughter and to be completely honest a pretty crappy mum to her at that time. Communication and taking time for myself helped me alot, and although there are still times where I get frustrated and yell it is very rare now. The mental time out was great also but that does take time, you guys need to meet half way and also realise what your triggers are and walk away (time out not total walking away, make a time to discuss the EXACT issues at a later time that day, dont leave things to stew though)
I wish I could offer more suggestions, look after you and your baby even though it can be pretty hard at times
 

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Englishmummy, as one migrant wife & mother to another, do you think that maybe homesickness might also be contributing to some of your stress with your hubby? It is hard to live, & raise a child, in a culture different to the one you grew up in, & maybe that is also making the grass in England look greener than it actually is, kwim?

Do you get any support from your husband's family? How fluent are you in Japanese? Just wondering, because I'm thinking that there may be some more culturally specific books & information available to help you & your dh communicate with each other that are written in the language. How immersed in the culture are you? Do you feel like you could live there forever, or do you imagine that one day you might like to go back to England for a while?

I don't mean to be nosy- just some thoughts that pop to mind based on my own experiences. Please do ignore if they are of no use to you!


I wish you & your fam all the best. Trans-national partnerships can be so challenging, but they can also be rewarding in their own special way, too.
 

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Englishmummy, Oh boy do I know how hard it is to live in a different country. I must admit that my situation wasn't nearly as difficult as yours because I did live in an english speaking country. I can not fathom living in a foreign country where I couldn't speak the language.
I was married and living in England. I felt so completely isolated. (I did not know that Americans were not highly thought of there). I was horribly lonely AND I was married to a man who was mentally unstable. Of course, I did not know that he was a freak when I married him. I jumped into the marriage way too soon. Anyhoo, I was there for 2 years. We separated and I filed for divorce. I moved into my own flat but all I wanted was to go HOME.
My desperation (severe depression) must have shown over the phone because my sister and mother finally sent money for airfare back home.

I'm only telling you all of that just to let you know that I understand somewhat how hard it is to live away from home.
I know that me being homesick made me VERY grumpy and I had a short temper.

I don't know if there's any way you can try to talk your dh into moving to England instead. I know that it can be difficult to make as much money living in England than it is in the USA or Japan. But, maybe he will make that sacrifice for your marriage.

Please feel free to email or pm me if you want to chat in length.
I really do feel for you.
Hugs,
Liz
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thanks again for all the replies- I am amazed how spot-on they all are.

Aussiemum and Lizc- being in Japan is a big contributing factor at the moment. Being so different to everyone around me, does nothing for my self-esteem. I speak some Japanese, but not enough...I have not given up though, I am simply very busy with my son. Japanese people are very nice and friendly though- not like the English were to you Lizc, terribly sorry (not sure why, but English people in general are not nice to Americans- but personally, I like Americans lots and have several US friends...I reckon we are really similar
). Anyhow, my husband and I have already discussed going back to Europe (I used to live in Italy and want to go back there!) and he has agreed- we met in London. But to be honest, it was a similar situation in England- it has just got worse- we argued lots then too.

Scubamama- thanks again for the info. I have heard of the book that you recommend (5 langs of love) and it sounds really appropriate for my husband and I. I shall track down all of them, because once we get past the terribly abusive phase (which I pray, we will), I hope that there is something left to salvage...

Nznats- thanks so much for sharing your past relationship problems- you have no idea how much it has helped to read and know that we can get through this if we try- I shall think of you when I am ready to lose it!

Just to let you know- my husband and I are doing quite well. We are both trying extra hard and I am trying to watch his moods (he often sulks, but he is also very quiet- both drive me mad because I think I have done something wrong) and my own temper. My sex drive has suddenly returned (I am still nursing) which helps a lot as I think he is a physical touch person when it comes to receiving love! I do not want to be unrealistically optimistic though- chandraj, you are right, it is a constant work in progress


Thanks again.
Love to you all...
 

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Englishmummy- You mentioned that you are in an abusive phase. Has your husband hit you? Or is it verbally/emotional abuse? Not that one is better than another but sometimes things can be salvaged if it's a verbal abuse phase.
I'm glad that he has agreed to move. That will probably help YOU, at least.
I hope things get better for you.

Blessings,
Liz
 

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Englishmummy, it sounds to me like you are taking very positive steps to mend your relationship. Just want to share with you that, based on your descriptions, my dh & I have been thru a similar phase in our relationship with regards to the screaming abuse at each other..... I know, it is sooo tough. I do think it is possible to move beyond that stage & salvage the partnership..... how do i put this..... it's just that the relationship may be a bit different to the one you each imagined previously. Does that make any sense? I guess I'm trying to say that you both need to be flexible & honest about what you need from each other, & build from there.

Anywho, a few practical tactics that I use in my relationship.

When I get to the point where i feel like my rage with dh is going to boil over, I will say 'I am so angry right now, & I need to walk away for a while to get my temper under control. Please can we continue to discuss this when I am feeling more in control of myself.' And then I walk away to another room, or outside. dh respects this request, & doesn't follow me trying to continue the argument, & so it does work for me when I am trying not to yell. Once after a particularly nasty blue, I walked 3 kms into town before I felt calm enough to stop & turn around. (and I must say, I sorely regretted doing the trek in bare feet by the time I got home.... there's a lesson in that, I suppose
)

ANother thing we have used is the concept of the talking stick. When one person has the stick in their hand, the other person does not speak until the other is finished. Not one little peep. When you finish speaking, you hand the stick to the other person & it's their turn to go for as long as they need to. And you just keep on taking turns speaking. I find that doing this makes me really listen to what my dh is saying. And you're not allowed to yell with the speaking stick in hand. It's a rule.


......................

I don't want it to sound like my dh & I have it all worked out now, because we don't. But we have mostly moved beyond screaming at each other, & that's been a great step forward.

And I agree that 'five languages of love' sounds like a very useful book. I'm going to try & find that one at the library for me, too.

With regards to feeling isolated in Japan, do you know any other expats that you can hang out with? I'm assuming you are a stay-at-home mum, & that your dh works typically Japanese long hours, so I'm guessing that you are on your own for a large part of the day. When my kids were little, I found a migrant mothers playgroup that helped a lot. The convenor of the group was a bit unpleasant (she didn't like yanks much), but the mums were lovely & overall it was a positive experience.

And a bit OT, but with regards to the English-AMerican animosity thing..... Near as I could figure (I lived in Manchester for 19 months) it has something to do with the war. Of 1775, that is.
 

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I also recommend Thich Nhat Hanh, the Buddhist monk's book "Peace is Every Step" or "ANGER". Both books help to identify the core of anger's unmet needs and offers tools of self-care. I found many of my 'hot buttons' were pushed inadvertantly by our son and that is how I realized they really didn't have much to do with the other person. My baggage and issues were hidden from me even, until someone stepped on my sensitivity. Personal counselling has helped me to be the observer and detach from my viceral emotional reaction which seemed out of proportion to my actual experience with our son. For instance, he would grab my leg and I felt trapped. He would yell and I felt like fleeing. These viceral habituated reactions had much more to do with my unresolved childhood experiences than my present actual experience. Dh learned to avoid my hot buttons.
So, we didn't have the issues you are expressing. And avoiding a loved one's hot buttons is useful, but it doesn't help to resolve the underlying cause and triggers still occur inadvertantly. Also, dh has his own hot buttons triggered by my reactions; so, neither is he always able to avoid stepping on my sensitivities. Not for lack of concern, but due to his own viceral habituated reactions from unresolved childhood experiences. We probably all have them, I suspect.
:

But, learning to own my reactions, in spite of my emotions, empowers me and helps me to break the cycle of escalating emotional chain reactions like a mine field. Both dh, ds and I have benefited from my increased awareness. Children are accidental triggers to our childhood wounds. That was my clue. Before that, I just thought it was dh's inconsideration of my needs when he hit a hot button.
:

HTH, Pat

Pat
 
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