This is a very difficult post for me to write. Not just to write but to put the out there for the world to see. This post is me admitting to a huge flaw in my personality that I had to overcome to change the path my marriage was heading down.
A few years ago, I remember watching a television show in which Candice Cameron Bure was discussing taking a back seat to her marriage. I remember feeling appalled. “Why?! The man doesn’t have to control a marriage! It should be equal control! A partnership.” What I didn’t realize then was the impact her words would have on me and my marriage years down the road.
I truly believed that men and women should have equal share in domestic duties. It was not the “woman’s job” to clean the house and care for the children. It was a marriage, a partnership, and all things should be the responsibility of both parties. What I didn’t realize at the time was that I battled and controlled my own marriage.
I was the alpha wife who maintained control of everything, especially when it came to the finances. I had delegated a “rule” stating my husband and I had to discuss everything before making a decision. “How dare he make a decision without me!? I don’t think so!” But me? I did what I wanted and was always right. I was always in control. Happy wife, happy life, right?
Now, when my husband and I first met, I’m sure he saw it as part of my spitfire, take no prisoners type of personality. It was cute seeing a 4 foot 10 little thing take control. To him, I was strong, confident, and independent. And in all honesty, at that point in my life I was nothing short of a hell-raiser. My circle of friends involved a harder crowd; I drank heavily, and was quick with the tongue.
When I met my husband, he worked some sort of crazy magic on me. Soon, I began to settle down and focus my energies in a more positive direction. I transferred to a four year university, stopped drinking, and found a new (calmer) crowd to surround myself. As these changes took place, our relationship moved from lust to love. I’m sure at this time, my husband was assuming my need for ultimate independence and stubbornness would eventually calm itself as well.
The problem? It didn’t calm down.
It manifested into a need for control. I took on the alpha role and ran with it. I needed to know everything that was going on at all times. Many of my friends laugh at my candor, my no holds barred personality. But, what no one saw was that it was slowly destroying my marriage.
We began to fight frequently. The fights would get heated and nasty, as neither side was willing to back down. The more I made him do the dishes, the less likely he was to do it. The more I pushed, the more he pushed back. We were miserable. I hated him. I knew he hated me. But neither of us were completely ready to walk away.
Over time, I learned to just shut my mouth. To remain quiet when things were bothering me. Our relationship seemed to improve. We were able to talk to each other again without fire and daggers shooting from our mouths. But we were only surviving. After a year or so of this, I knew I still wasn’t happy and neither was he. We were just going through the motions.
During this period, we discovered obstacle course racing. We found ourselves getting back on a good path. Through racing and fitness, we were becoming friends again. We were no longer just roommates silently passing each other in the hall. We were finally able to breathe again. Weights were lifted from our shoulders. We were far from perfect, far from that crazy in love we once were, but we were getting there.
And then it happened.
One day, out of no where, I remembered the interview with Candice Cameron Bure. Those words she’d said so long ago. I smirked at myself, because, really? Who did she think she was? Marriage needs to be equal. Just like that, my smirk faded. You know that moment in How the Grinch Stole Christmas when he realized Christmas wasn’t just about presents? It happened just like that. My mind began to wonder…
Could it really be that simple? Just let go of the control and things will be better? I’m tired of always having to have the control. . . but. . . what if . . .
In that moment, I decided to give it a try. After all, what could it hurt to take a step back? So that’s what I did. I took a step back and slowly stopped questioning every move my husband made. I stopped stressing him out by not being neurotic about everything. The hardest thing for me to let go of was the finances, but I did. I no longer questioned why he withdrew $20, or used the credit card at Taco Bell. I refused to allow myself to check the bank account and harp over every penny spent.
Within a few months, our relationship went from being friends to actually being partners again. Our marriage truly became equal. I wasn’t aggravating myself or my husband over why the dishes weren’t done, or why the trash didn’t go out. In fact, I didn’t have to. My husband was more willing to take on more responsibilities around the house. He was helping with the kids and actually had a desire to be home with us again.
We have both made mistakes in our marriage, but I can honestly say that my relenting desire to maintain the control within our dynamic was the biggest mistake I made. Hindsight is 20/20. I know without a shadow of a doubt, had I not come to the realization when I had, our relationship would have ended.
Here we are a year later and we are more in love now than ever. We are best friends and partners again who work together to raise our family and keep up our home. We are able to nurture our relationship. I knew when I met him (okay maybe not the exact moment I met him, in fact, I didn’t even think he was cute at first!) that we were soulmates. I feel now that I have my soulmate back.
We found what works for us. For our family. For our relationship. I’m sure in years to come we’ll continue to make adjustments, discovering what does and doesn’t work. I do know, that I will never again attempt to hold the control in my relationship. Obstacle course racing reminded us we had something to save. Letting go of control, made us partners again in marriage and in life. And that’s how it should be.