86. When Parenting Affects Marriage

Question : My husband and I are having a bit of a battle with our almost two-year-old son when it comes to discipline. We both believe in spanking, but our problem comes after the spanking. My husband spanks and then immediately picks him up and consoles him. I wait until about five minutes after the discipline before I will be affectionate. I don’t want to withhold from him the love that he needs, but I also don’t want him to think that I regret my decision to discipline. I also don’t want him to think that I am only being affectionate out of guilt from my decision to spank him. He already knows that we do it differently and uses it to manipulate my husband and me. He is the good guy and I am the bad guy. It is definitely starting to affect our marriage.

Response : That’s a great question.

We comfort our kids right after spanking them. The reason we do that is because the spanking is the punishment. After the punishment comes forgiveness, comfort, and a reaffirmation of our love.

2 Corinthians 2:6-8 The PUNISHMENT inflicted on him by the majority is sufficient for him. Now instead, you ought to FORGIVE and COMFORT him, so that he will not be overwhelmed by excessive sorrow. I urge you, therefore, to REAFFIRM YOUR LOVE for him.

Now I can’t build an airtight case for how much time should occur between each step, but that just explains our thinking process. In any case, I don’t think that is the most important issue here.

Whether you wait five minutes or not isn’t really that big of a deal one way or the other. If you both agree to comfort him right away that almost certainly will work out fine. If you both agree to wait five minutes before comforting him that will likely work out fine as well.

What is not going to work out fine is if you don’t come to agreement. Jesus said that a house divided against itself cannot stand. This is already affecting your marriage, and that is going to have a far greater impact on your child than the delay time used before comforting your child.

I encourage you and your husband to talk it over some more. You can share your reasoning and he can share his. Then try to work towards an agreement or compromise. If you cannot come to agreement, then I suggest you yield to your husband in this. It’s just not worth having strife over.

God has made the husband the leader of the family. I don’t think it is because he is wiser, because that is certainly not the case in all marriages. He may have made the man the leader just because there needs to be a leader—any leader. There needs to be a leader to help bring unity when two people cannot come to agreement. Unity is often more important than doing things the “best” way. In other words, I think it is better for a couple to follow an option that is less than the best, than it is for the two to be at odds. (Ephesians 5:21,22; Colossians 3:18; 1 Peter 3:1)

A husband also needs to be loving, gentle, and considerate with his wife. So please don’t think I am advocating a shut-up-and-do-what-I-say type of atmosphere. (Ephesians 5:25; Colossians 3:19; 1 Peter 3:7)

So by yielding when you can’t come to agreement, you preserve the unity of the marriage. In the long run that will be the very best for your child.


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