We are trying to raise our children right. One way is to always remind them to share. To my dismay, my wife acts contrary to what we preach. She will never share a thing, especially food, even when she has plenty. We shall for example stop by a gonja stall and she will buy just enough for her, which she will then eat alone, even with children in the car. If I do not buy for them, then they will probably starve. Just the other day, our 11-year-old daughter shocked us when she offered to buy us cakes as we drove to town. She duly shared with all of us, including her mother. She then reminded her that ‘sharing was caring’. The next day, my wife bought one bottle of soda knowing we were all thirsty. How do I get her to change? PS: We have been together for 17 years?
This sounds stressful to you. Well, it is natural to wish our better half to be like us or at least behave in a certain way that we recognise as acceptable.
I would like to let you know that your situation is not the worst, neither the first. It is also true that as parents we model the behaviours that we wish our children to emulate.
Unfortunately, many parents are ignorant about this, but would wish their children to come out with the best behaviours, and yet they model differently.
Do not give up on showing your children the right manners since their mother as mentioned is struggling with what looks like selfish behaviour.
Remember the reason you are two parents is to complement each other.
When one is failing to be on board then one who is able should do everything to cover up the gaps say, for example, you are teaching your children that sharing is caring through sharing what you buy with them.
Remember you and your wife are totally different not just the gender but you were raised by totally different people and environments.
Her selfish behaviour could have been learned from childhood. Anecdotal data from psychologists show that children who grow up in extreme poverty or lack, learn to be selfish for fear of running out of stuff.
The behaviour you describe above seems like your wife fears losing what is in her possession.
Trying so hard to change your wife might only aggravate your stress and frustration. We are only fortunate to change ourselves but cannot change other people regardless of how long we have known the person.
The only way you can support your wife to change is by changing the way you react to her behaviour.
Try positive vibes
You mentioned that you have been together for 17 years and would like to ask what has enabled you to cope. It is okay to remember what helps you go through such a situation as long as it is positive so that you reduce the amount of stress this can cause.
Even as a couple that has stayed together for a long, you need to attend marriage refresher courses or seminars which are at times organised in the community, church, or any that is organised by a professional.
Sometimes people benefit better when they learn as a group instead of pinpointing them. I would also suggest that if you fail to get support within your reach, find a professional relationship counsellor and attend sessions together with your wife.
This can create an avenue for opening up on what is killing your marriage and also give your partner a chance to do an introspection about how her behaviour is ruining the family relationship.
Try not to control her but instead do the right things by continuing the sharing behaviour and when she discovers that you are not aiming at bringing her down, then she might want to copy or try to share with the children just like you do.
Helping your child learn about sharing
Children learn a lot from just watching what their parents do. When you model good sharing and turn-taking in your family, it gives your children a great example to follow.
Children also need opportunities to learn about and practise sharing. Here are some ways to encourage sharing in everyday life:
Speechless - Ruthie Kay
I am speechless. Which self-respecting adult eats without sharing with children, let alone the fact that they are her own?
Something is wrong - Asaasira Rachel
What? I did not know that a mum/mother can have mululu on her own children!!!
Something is wrong! Other mothers such as myself would rather sleep on an empty stomach, but let the children eat.
Continue enduring - Es Lyn
You cannot solve this. Just continue enduring the way you have been doing before.
Preach to your children - Nalubega Rita
Just continue preaching the gospel of sharing to your children since they still young they will pick up with sense of humanity.
For madam’s case, she is now a broken tree which cannot be put upright. Just used to her ‘gluttony’ without even remembering your own children. That is now a habit that is too late to change.
Invite a third party - Aaron Yovani
Goodness! This is something so serious. For 17 years and you are just talking about this now? Anyway, talk to her nicely and if need be, invite a third party. If you do not, the children will pick this up.
That one can’t be changed - Lawrence Elap
Just make sure the children stick to their ways of sharing. You wife was brought up like from an early stage and so you cannot change her.
She needs deliverance - Mariam Marko
Is your wife a Ugandan? Life in Uganda has hit our daughters so hard that we forget to share. Please forgive her. Take her to Mutundwe for deliverance
Sit her down, talk - Brian Mugume
The social media in-laws cannot offer much on this issue. 17 years is long a time for you to come lamenting. This issue can only be fixed by you. Sit her down and discuss this.
She needs counselling - Phoebe Miriam
Oh my God!! What kind of heart does your wife have? Is she even the mother of those kids? 17 years of selfishness and greed? No!
Your so called wife needs prayer and counselling. Something needs to be done about this self-centeredness because it is unbecoming of a mother and wife.
Evelyn is a counselling psychologist with Sermotherapy Counselling Foundation @Heart2HeartMagazine