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Q: Occasionally, when my spouse and I engage in a disagreement, it feels like we transition into adversaries. This dynamic troubles us, and we are uncertain about how to address it. Can you provide guidance?

Jim: Many individuals in long-term marriages can empathize with this situation. What may commence as a minor disagreement often escalates into a divisive “me versus you” scenario. However, there are strategies to navigate this challenge successfully.

The crucial aspect is to reaffirm that both of you are allies, not opponents. Just like in sports, where teammates may have disagreements but unite against the opposing team, you and your spouse can acknowledge that disagreements are inevitable in any relationship. The focus should be on collaborating to resolve shared issues rather than turning against each other.

To foster this approach in your marriage, engage in open conversations about the conflicts causing a rift between you. Taking responsibility for any hurtful actions or words, extending forgiveness, and working together towards a common resolution are vital steps. Addressing these issues may require time, effort, and possibly the assistance of a trained counselor, but it is a crucial initial step. Unresolved conflicts breed resentment and hinder couples from finding common ground.

Therefore, strive to embrace the differences within your relationship and cultivate a mindset of teamwork with your spouse. Seek support from our professional counselors by contacting them at 855-771-HELP (4357) or by visiting FocusOnTheFamily.com.

Q: I tend to get stressed easily and react by raising my voice or shouting at my children. How can I improve as a more adaptable parent?

Dr. Danny Huerta, Vice President of Parenting & Youth: Parenting presents numerous challenges, and it is common to feel overwhelmed. Approximately 70% of parents experience burnout, with a significant number wishing for more patience with their children.

Becoming a more adaptable parent involves cultivating self-awareness, empathy, and prioritizing self-care. Adaptable parents can assess their environment and adjust their responses instead of letting external factors dictate their behavior.

Here are four essential adjustments you can make to enhance your adaptability as a parent:

  • Recognize opportunities for connection: Children typically seek approval and are not purposefully trying to provoke you; they are seeking connection. View these moments as chances for bonding rather than inconveniences. Understand your child’s motivations to guide them towards healthier choices.

  • Foster curiosity and ask questions: Each child is unique, so delving into their perspective helps you establish a deeper connection by exploring their thoughts and emotions. For instance, when your child makes a mistake, inquire about their intentions.

  • Practice self-care and take breaks: Incorporate regular pauses in your day to observe your surroundings. Implementing three to five short breaks daily can help you refocus and gain perspective.

  • Cultivate gratitude: A mindset of gratitude enhances clarity and fosters empathy and humility. Starting your day with a sense of abundance can lead to more positive interactions throughout the day.

Developing adaptability requires a flexible mindset. By expanding your mental horizons daily, you can prevent strained relationships and deepen your connection with your child.

For additional practical parenting advice, visit FocusOnParenting.com.

Jim Daly, an author, husband, and father, serves as the president of Focus on the Family and hosts the Focus on the Family radio program. Connect with him at jimdalyblog.focusonthefamily.com or Facebook.com/JimDalyFocus.

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