Parenting Your Spouse is Simply Not Okay

Parenting Your Spouse Can Destroy Your Marriage

Couple talking at breakfast
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It doesn't make any difference if your spouse doesn't get up on time, has horrible taste in clothes, forgets appointments or to take pills, loses the car keys, or never picks things up. If you parent your spouse, you are actually showing a lack of acceptance and a lack of respect for your spouse.

If you have an immature or irresponsible husband, you may need to say this to yourself often: I am his wife, not his mother.

If you have an immature or irresponsible wife, you may need to say this to yourself often: I am her husband, not her father.

Putting yourself in a parental role and putting your spouse in a child role is demeaning to your mate and actually counterproductive. Your spouse will eventually resent you for taking on this controlling role and it will severely damage your marriage relationship.

Mothering or Parenting Behaviors

  • You pick out what clothes you think your spouse should wear.
  • Your conversation style with your mate is baby talk or a mothering or parental tone of voice.
  • You think nothing of putting food on your spouse's plate, cutting your spouse's meat, or pestering your spouse to eat all the vegetables on his/her plate.
  • Waking your spouse up in the morning.
  • When traveling, you pack your spouse's suitcase.
  • You style your mate's hair.
  • You are the official reminder person in your family -- whether it is to take medications, finish a chore, or be on time somewhere.
  • You believe one of your roles is to correct your spouse's behavior.
  • You often cater to his/her every need.
  • You are overprotective.
  • You make appointments with doctors for your mate.
  • You buy your spouse's clothes.
  • You fill out medical or legal forms for your mate.
  • You pick up after your spouse.
  • You keep track of your spouse's belongings like eyeglasses, car keys, wallet, etc.

    How to Stop Parenting Your Spouse

    The first thing you need to do is realize that showing concern and caring for your spouse is normal and expected. It is when you cross that line into the parenting role that normal nurturing stops and parenting begins.

    • Have the talk with your spouse.
    • Stop treating your mate like a child.
    • Don't correct or criticize how your spouse takes out the trash or completes other tasks around the house.
    • Let your spouse make mistakes and have to face the consequences of being forgetful or making a wrong decision.
    • Create a calendar for your family but be clear that keeping it current is everyone's responsibility.
    • Refrain from talking in a 'parental' tone.
    • Accept that your mate really does not like being treated like a kid.