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#6 Husband - son, communication problem / Lost ability to communicate with my husband

Dear Abby: My husband, "Nick" can't understand why our 10-year-old son, "Tony," is "hard" of hearing" when he talks to him. Maybe it's because Nick talks so loud that our son tunes him out.

I suggested that Nick ask Tony why he doesn't listen to him, but Nick gets mad at me and insists that he MUST talk loud to get through to Tony.

Abby, our son is not hard of hearing and I think Tony doesn't follow instructions because of the way his father talks to him. I also think the one who really isn't listening is my husband. Any advice? —TONY'S MOM

DEAR TONY'S MOM: There's a power struggle going on and your husband thinks he can win it by shouting. Family counseling could help him gain some insight and communicate more effectively with Tony. If your husband refuses, I recommend earplugs for you until Tony leaves for college. —ABBY

Gabby's Reply

Gabby’s Reply:

Hi Tony's Mom: There is a communication problem here but you have the finger pointing the wrong way. You are failing to cause mutually satisfying communication to take place between you and your husband and you are stuck blaming him.

I don't get that your ". . . husband can't understand." What I do get is that you refuse to do what it takes to cause him to acknowledge your point of view without invalidating you. I also get that you refuse to insist that he get anger management counseling; I suspect this is to mask your own unacknowledged anger and rage at his abuse. It's not your fault, you simply haven't been taught how to communicate. You have mastered talking which cause more of the same. The foundation for communication mastery begins with ones integrity (see The Clearing House).

Using your leadership-communication skills you use covert (mostly non-verbal) anger as a weapon against your husband. By that I mean you have a self-righteous position about anger that keeps you from communicating your anger to your husband. Notice that you have trained him to use anger to get you off his back. This reveals that you have had no intention of being gotten; rather your intention has been to be right, that anger and voice-raising is wrong. Can you imagine the shock if you yelled, "Stop it, the both of you! It's abusive to each other and to me. If you keep on communicating like that with each other I'm taking a long vacation."

Also, you have empowered your son to disrespect his father so as to have him as your ally. [Bad yelling father, poor you. I'm good, he's bad].

For every abusive parent there is an equally powerful abusive enabler. Such abuse could not happen except that you are unconsciously intending it (for what reason we don't know yet). Later, possibly through jail bars, you'll be feebly apologizing to either your husband or your son, about how you wished you had made harmony more important than your survival.

There are a lot of dissatisfactions not being expressed verbally that have caused this breakdown in communication. You have managed to turn your husband and son against each other; very powerful of you. You will continue to produce these results until you get some communication/leadership counseling or coaching.

I acknowledged you for reaching out; however, I'm concerned about your addiction to causing abuse, part of the addiction is to not follow through with effective help. In other words, it will be as much of a challenge for you to stop enabling abuse as it will be for those two to stop abusing each other.

Thank you, Gabby

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Check back occasionally for minor edits (last edited 2/8/15)

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