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Ask Dr. Norman Brown Your Own Question

Dr. Norman Brown
Dr. Norman Brown, Marriage Therapist
Category: Relationship
Satisfied Customers: 1168
Experience:  Family Therapist & teacher 35+ yrs; PhD research in couples
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Hi. Every day my husband has been talking terribly about My

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Hi. Every day my husband has been talking terribly about
My parents and how they don't help with our 3 year old daughter.
He says this in front of her and it's causing me a lot of stress and
I don't want this stupidity to hurt her. She loves her Grandma
And Grandpa. He wastes more time on negative comments when he could be
Fixing things around the house and doing other positive productive things.
I broke a window yesterday that needed fixing anyway....that's
How angry I'm becoming with him....Help!

Dr. Norman Brown :

It sounds like you don't have a well-practiced way to express your anger to your husband. Are you afraid he'll blow up at you if you criticize him?

Dr. Norman Brown :

I see you're not online now. Why don't you write down what you would say to him in a note, and assume you're not going to give him the note, so you can try as many ways as you want to try to say it. Then you could put the one or two ways you think would work best here online, and after each one tell me how you think he'd react. I can then advise you on how to alter what you've written. If he does typically overreact to disagreements, then you could email your comments to him and start with PLEASE DON"T REACT TO THIS BEFORE YOU'VE THOUGHT ABOUT IT.

Customer: Dear XXXXX,
Customer: I feel that when you talk about my parents that way it
Customer: disrespects me and my daughter. I won't tolerate it much longer.
Customer: It needs to stop now! She only has two grandparents left and
Dr. Norman Brown :

If I were him I'd think: "I'm not disrespecting either you or your daughter. I'm $%&*#$& at your parents for (what? NOT doing what with your daughter--and isn't she HIS daughter too?)

Customer: Your words and attitude towards them everyday are going
Customer: to ruin this family's relationship just like you ruined your side of the
Customer: f
Customer: His reaction to this would be that I'm the one with the problem!
Customer: next letter
Customer: I need you to stop talking bad about my parents in front of my
Customer: little girl. (See I'm already calling her mine instead of ours)
Dr. Norman Brown :

And if you don't think he'll be able to respect what you're telling him, then tell him you'll need to bring your dispute to a skilled and neutral person, that is a couple counselor, because that will help BOTH of you keep from igniting each other, and insist that you contain your anger when it starts to get out of control. But this second version is starting out better--that's what happens when you let the heftiest steam off first!

Customer: I am way over what my parents may have not helped me with.
Customer: This is for her and it makes me very angry that you
Customer: think it's alright to do this in front of her.
Customer: His reaction like it's not important and that I'm making a big deal
Customer: of it. He doesn't care that's why I feel like I can't waste my breath
Customer: on it anymore. Not afraid of him blowing up because I was the one doing that.
Dr. Norman Brown :

So I would guess that you're used to your parents blowing up at you, or at least one of them. It also sounds like you may have married each other (on an unconscious level) because you both had somewhat similar difficult relations with your parents (like my wife had a narcissistic screamer-mother and a saintly early-dead father--11-, and I had a scary-temper narcissistic father and a depressed fairly early-dead --23--mother), and you are angrily (in keeping with your parents' style) insistent that he's not allowed to interfere with YOUR relationship with your parents by inserting HIS reaction to them. I agree that he needs to keep it away from the 3yr old.

Dr. Norman Brown :

But I think you'd benefit quite a bit from clarifying how to deal with your respective families by talking over your experiences with a couple therapist. You seem to be convinced that you MUST be able to be warm and close (or at least close) with your parents, while he chose to divorce himself more completely from them than you did--so now you're fighting over who did the right thing with whose parents.

Customer: My father was a blow up man. My husband not so much...justn
Customer: stubborn. I work very long hours and he is out of work right
Customer: now and all of this nagging about my parents ( I don't think he
Dr. Norman Brown :

Being out of work is pretty destabilizing for manymen.

Customer: has much nice to say about anybody! I told him I was getting help and he said he would call someone to get me help and as long as I was helped he would be helped! Nice! I never met his Dad but his Mom was tough. Also for a long time now I've been paying all the bills in the household, mortgage,util etc. I'm fine with it and glad I can do this on my own. But when I have to deal with him not pulling weight and acting like a child whose accusing parents for everything that goes wrong I tend to lose my patience maybe I'm wrong for feeling I'm above that or something. If he doesn't like my parents that's fine but don't let interfere with everything on a daily basis. Where do you get peace then?
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