This is so hard on my marriage

Our problems with difficult child takes such a toll on our marriage. We have unfortunately set up a dynamic that although we are trying to break it, is very difficult sometimes. It started years ago, when difficult child was only about 2-3. Even then he was so defiant and oppositional. My husband has always had a short fuse and would really yell at him and it could be scary. we have had so many arguments about this. When he did this, I would jump in to "protect" difficult child, even though his behavior was not right. I just felt like the punishment didn't fit the crime, so to speak. Anyway, this has created a situation where husband feels we are a "tag team" against him. And to a certain extent, I know difficult child also believes this and actually tries to play one of us against the other. I will say that for a long time now I have tried to keep my feelings to myself and if I disagree with how husband handled a situation, I try and keep my mouth shut, which is very hard sometimes, and discuss it with him later when we are alone. I absolutely see the necessity of this. However, sometimes I just feel that I have to support difficult child in that moment. For instance, lately bedtime has been very difficult. Everything will be fine until it comes to going upstairs to brush his teeth and go to bed. Then he will start to ask to skip his teeth (which, many times we have let him do in the past to avoid meltdowns) and start not moving and refusing to do anything. Also constant yelling. I don't even think difficult child believes he is yelling anymore...he's so used to it. Anyway, he started this stuff last night and my husband tells him to get off the floor and brush his teeth. He asks him several times. He still does not move. So then my husband grabs him and pulls him into the bathroom with difficult child crying and screaming, which only angers husband more so he screams which angers difficult child so he screams, and on and on and on...Then last night, husband says "you're ruining the whole day doing this". Which got me mad because difficult child had a good day and I didn't want him to think one incident ruined everything. So I say "it does NOT ruin the whole day". So then difficult child runs with that, trying to use it against husband. UGH!!! and later husband and I argued about it. I feel that his temper is constantly putting me in this position and he feels I am always babying difficult child. It doesn't help that last year, husband and I were separated and difficult child was with me. Anybody else have problems with this??


Well-Known Member
Sending understanding hugs. It is really difficult to get on and stay on the same page as your spouse when a difficult child is in the mix. I don't have an answer for you but I do care and hope you're able to find a way to become a united team. DDD


Crumbling Family Rock
I have no answer for you either. We're in the same boat. For us though, we now have CPS involved. husband claims he's been in denial about everything, and that where much of his "wrong parenting" comes from. I also think husband has ADD and/or Aspergers and has communication issues. Like I tell him he seems mad, he swears he's not, but I know there is something going on. For us, I think husband really just needs to get on board and parent differently, as well as get a huge amount of counseling.


New Member
My difficult child's dad did this as well, extreme punishments and showing a lot of anger! We have been divorced for ove 4 years now and neither of my boys like going to their dad's. My difficult child very rarely goes, he will go to use it as a punishment for me "This house sucks! This is the worst day ever, I am going to dads". If my difficult child is going to his dad then my easy child won't just to get a break from his brother.
Regardless, because of his action and his choice of parenting style, even though I know that the boys love their dad, they would rather not go and see him. It is sad to see.

I agree with you on reminding your husband that one meltdown does NOT ruin a day of good moments.


There are times when husband and I are in the same boat that you are. We have come long way and have done our best to present a united front to difficult child, but there are still alot of times when that does not happen. Parenting a difficult child can be very hard on a marriage and I can understand why the divorce rate for the parents of kids like our is higher than the averages for other marriages.

Will your husband agree to undergo counseling with you? Will he read "The Explosive Child"? Unfortunately, my husband has refused both of these, but I have often wondered if these would help.

I hope that things get better.


Well-Known Member
My husband always was closer to on-side... and even HE won't "read" or "do counselling".

However... with The Explosive Child? I went through with "tags", and highlighted about 20 pages I wanted him to read. THAT much, he will read. It gave him some perspective. I've pulled another group or two of pages since then... but it can make a difference if you give him an "executive summary" approach, rather than "please read this book".


Sorry I don't have any encouragement either. I deal with this by separating difficult child 1 and husband as much as possible. husband works the graveyard shift and sleeps during the day. He only sees the kids maybe for an hour a day (most days less or not at all.) They seem to do much better if they are only together in small doses.

I know its not a great way to have a family. Right now we can't do the extensive family counseling it would take to fix this. And even if the rest of the family would I don't think husband sees the problem so he wouldn't go. And I think it would take counseling - he sure isn't listen to me about how to parent.
As far as counseling, I'm not even sure I'm a big supporter anymore. husband is, however, a lot more open than he used to be about most things. He is very patient but he seems to take the things difficult child says and does PERSONALLY whereas I learned a long time ago not to. I try and tell him that if you engage with him, he is going to keep it up. That's what he wants. For example, husband goes crazy because he'll be speaking to difficult child and difficult child will keep yelling for me, even when I say stop calling me. I've noticed that the last few days this has increased and I'm almost positive it's because he knows it's bothering husband so much. husband will stand there and say "I'm not gonna stand here like a fool...." which makes me feel as though difficult child is hitting a nerve of some kind because difficult child can do whatever he wants and rarely can he make me feel like a fool.


Warrior Mom since 2007
Same. Exact. Situation. Here.

I don't know the answer. And it just keeps getting worse. Is your husband open to counseling? Mine isn't.

My husband will says things like - he isn't going to talk to me that way - or I'm not going to let him get away with that. He engages with difficult child and it sounds like two children fighting.


Warrior Mom since 2007
I have no answer for you either. We're in the same boat. For us though, we now have CPS involved. husband claims he's been in denial about everything, and that where much of his "wrong parenting" comes from. I also think husband has ADD and/or Aspergers and has communication issues. Like I tell him he seems mad, he swears he's not, but I know there is something going on. For us, I think husband really just needs to get on board and parent differently, as well as get a huge amount of counseling.
I feel like I could have written this! (except the CPS part)


Sadly we too have the same problem here. husband and I do not respond the same way when difficult child is being gfgish. husband is so out of patience with difficult child that he immediately gets mad himself and this causes the situation to escalate. husband and difficult child are like oil and water. I feel like I am always telling husband to "let me handle it" to which husband replies that oh, he is not a good parent and his father never would have tolerated this behavior from him, etc... difficult child easily pushes husband buttons by being disrespectful by telling him to shut up or calling him an idiot and refusing to do what husband asks him too. It's a bad situation and it is truly causing distance between husband and I. Not that I always handle difficult child correctly but things don't escalate as much with me dealing with it. Like if easy child and I lock ourselves in a room and difficult child is banging on it, I just stay in there and remain calm for easy child. But, if husband is on the outside of the door with difficult child, rather than go to another room himself till it blows over, he tries to restrain difficult child and this causes difficult child to get more aggressive and angry even though I am saying thru the door to husband to go some where else! A big part of the problem is husband does not believe that difficult child has trouble controlling himself or that he has a mental disability. He feels it is all big act just so we give in and give him what he wants. I believe some of it is true but there are more instances that I know difficult child can't help himself. With all the help we sought for difficult child, husband rarely went and just uh huhed me when I told him what was discussed. He feels if difficult child can controll himself some times, he should be able to do it all the time and he has zero tolerance for it. It is definitly not easy to not only deal with difficult child but to referee between difficult child and husband.

family mum

New Member
Yes, my husband and I used to often disagree with how to handle situations. it was common (and still is sometimes now) for us to end up arguing with each other in the middle of, or after a crisis with difficult child. We are getting much better at that part. (Yeah! take success where you can find it!) We didn't do couple or family counselling but we have been talking with the social worker and recently started having sessions with difficult children psychiatric. for parenting techniques. This has allowed us to find some common ground so that we can try to both use the same strategies. It also allows us to be more neutral when we discuss things together because instead of just pointing fingers at each other saying that the other person's discipline strategies are bad/wrong, we can "remind" one another of the methods that
we are trying to implement. It's not perfect, but it is a lot better!
:hi5: The other thing that we are trying to do is to make sure that we get couple time. date night is great but not always practical as it can be difficult to both leave the house at the same time. Sometimes we just try to catch a moment by having a quiet coffee together. We have taken the habit of going to bed quite late so that we can sit and watch some TV together. It's just down time where we aren't demanding anything of each other. We tend to hold hands or I stretch my feet across his legs or something so that we are connected and we just keep to small mundane talk during the commercial breaks. I know it doesn't sound like much but it does help us to keep it all together.

We will be married 21 years this may, together for 26 years, and I told him that I refuse to let us find ourselves on the wrong side of those statistics!
I agree, familymum. We try to watch some tv before bed also. Last night, we were arguing over difficult child and I left the room and went downstairs and he came down and got me cause he wanted us to be together. we agreed to disagree. It was a nice moment...:)


Wow... I would so love to be able to say that husband and I didn't have the same issues... but that wouldn't be true. husband also feels that Trex can control more than she does. He does agree that once it gets to a certain point that she can't. Sometimes I think he is right. However, it doesn't mean that we are always on the same page. We both have our bad days but generaly speaking I have more patience with TRex than he does. Most times he will engage with her leading to more name calling, yelling, yada yada and ending up spanking which just escalates more. I am not against spaning (I turned out fine) but if it doesn't work.... ?? When I try to say let me handle this then he takes it as I don't trust him or think he is a good parent. Definately can cause problems and stress. He gets mad at himself, I'm a crier ... its not pretty. It is amazing how a 9yo TRex can bring two educated adults full of life experience right back to childish behavior themselves. Plus I certainly lost my temper with TRex plenty of times myself and have been ashamed of the way I handled it afterward.

What helps us as we ride the roller coaster of all these emotions is to remember that we are both trying to do the best we can in a VERY tough situation. We also try to be careful of the words we choose as we talk about what happened....way to easy to be accusatory and "I'm better than you". Also, regardless of whether or not she can control (that is an ongoing debate).. we try to remember that the point of "discipline" is to teach not yell or be physical in anger. If what either one of us is doing is in anger or is not "teaching" then we are not doing the right thing. Believe me... in the heat of the moment we can get very upset at each other during and after one of TRex's rages but afterwards and we all cool down it does help to be able to talk about things in this manner.


Well-Known Member
Im almost 29 years into this junk and it is still going on! Our difficult child, well the one who has caused the most problems will be 26 in July and he and his dad are like two roosters. You cant have two on one yard. They will fight to the death. What makes it worse is that right now they are working together. At least they arent living together anymore. Thankfully.


Well-Known Member
This may be for no use, but have you tried 'taking turns in leading' of those stressful situation. In my experience when the parent looses their cool and screams and says non-constructive things, they are not usually happy with themselves after they have calmed down. Everyone would usually like it more, if things got on in more calm and positive manner. It doesn't of course always happen with children and it certainly doesn't happen always with difficult children.

With my husband, if we were both home and kids were being difficult and the parent dealing with the matter started to sound too stressed or angry, the other one would interrupt and just nicely ask, if the angry parent wanted for other one to take over. This was of course something we had talked beforehand. The stressed parent left the situation (going out and having some fresh air for the little time helped the best) and the calmer one continued handling the situation. And then the kids got the previously-calm-parent to see red, the previously-angry-parent had usually already find their cool and could come and ask, if the not-anymore-so-calm parent would like them to take over.

Even our easy child was able to put us through few rounds of taking turns in lead when he had his worst times with certain things. With the difficult child it didn't work that well, because husband always had a little too strained relationship with him and it did drove me to over-protecting him. But at times, when we got it working between me and husband, we could even exhaust difficult child in his worst with this tactic.


Well-Known Member
Oh, dear, that is actually a very common problem. And *I*was the one with-the short fuse.
After a few yrs of learning and counseling, and mostly, putting it in husband's lap where he had to spend more time with-difficult child, he "saw the light" and he started getting a shorter fuse.

I would definitely recommend counseling to learn tools. Your husband will fight it but therapists do give you good ideas and tools.

I also like (love!) Susi's idea of suggesting or asking that you take over. That means that husband may be able to take over for you sometime. Discuss this new plan with-him and make it work. Best of luck!