I would suggest listening to, reading, or both the Book/CD set called "For All Eternity" by Dr. John L. Lund. Very entertaining, yet incredible information, he talks about normal undesirable married circumstances & how to deal with them. He also shares a similar story about a mom who criticizes all day & the discoveries she made about herself as to why she was that way & what she did to change it. He also authored an AMAZING book (it is a book read on CD also) called "How to Hug a Porcupine" that helps people recognize the toxicities in themselves & others & what they can do about it to change themselves for the better & how to protect themselves from others who are unwilling to change their toxic ways. I think these two books/CD sets could help you immensely.
I think the key here is strengthening the marriage relationship. Sounds like wife and hubby are both unhappy. Maybe she needs to get out more and have some of her needs met? I think when the marriage is strong and loving and mom takes care of herself, her relationship w/ children will improve.
Or, it could be that she's just emotionally unavailable or immature, for whatever reason. My mother was like that. I always felt that I had to take care of her, not the other way around.
We're all making the assumption that everyone involved here is mentally healthy. I was raised by a mother with Narcissistic Personality Disorder. I guarantee that if my father went to her with this information about the kids, she would blow her top and start breaking things, because she was the only one in the family above reproach. If this is the case, she will not accept or participate in any sort of discussion unless it is aimed at fixing the problems = the husband and kids. I hope it's not the case...
Marriages need various repairs, but my parents had an enduring love, which lasted nearly 74 mortal years. They supported or defended one another. In their old age, I complained to Dad about my perception faulting my mother. Dad listened kindly, then said, "The person that I see (your mother), is a different person from the one you described." In other words he saw his wife through the eyes of love. Over the years I adjusted my views and so gratefully also feel deep love and admiration for her.
I would suggest you look at this from the mothers point of view. She is dealing with her children all day long, trying her best to be a good mom, but it isn't easy in today's world. A few questions for him: You say she isn't nurturing, but you are not there during the day to see all that she does and are you doing your part to nurture her? Are you taking the kids and giving her time to herself? This sounds more like a tired mom that could use a break.
Strikes me that you don't connect with your wife either, and that unless you are a partnership, you can't be very effective in managing the children you share. You might be much better off talking to one another than to a third or three thousandth party. There is an old pattern I find pretty useful: I feel..... about..... because..... You own your feelings, and you can acknowledge that behind anger is likely to be something more like fear or disappointment or hurt.
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