I knew things weren’t great in our marriage; in a lot of ways we were just in survival mode – the kids were 4, 2 and 6 months and we were in shock as to how much time and energy they pulled out of us each day. My guy was in a sales role at this time, with a large drivable territory, leaving me a couple of nights each week to tame the lions alone. We had an unspoken agreement that his work was his domain, I didn’t have much say in how it was done and whatever went down inside the walls of our home was mine.
One Sunday morning we were getting ready for church, it seemed like we had more time than usual and I was enjoying the slower pace. My guy, who likes to be on time, started the ‘we need to get a move on’ thread and I kept pushing back with,’we’ve got plenty of time’ and thwarting all efforts to get out of the house and exercising my control. You know the dance, right? Please tell me you do. Anyway, we finally got into the car and my guy was really upset, the only way I could tell was that he had become silent and his jaw was jutting in and out. I made light of the situation because we were only five minutes late, no big deal.
We got to church, and to the area where we drop off the children and it was like a ghost town. You could hear the others laughing in their classrooms and singing, and someone came out to greet us and laughed about the fact that we were more than an hour late! An hour and five minutes to be exact. I don’t know what happened in my brain, but I had changed the start time for church in my head and my guy never said more than, ‘we need to get a move on.’
I was furious. How dare he let me look so ridiculous? Why didn’t he say anything? And then I knew. My guy couldn’t say a word, not even have a say about the time that we left the house, because I ran the show. He had no voice in our home. Our kids certainly knew this was the case – obeying me and arguing with their Dad, or simply doing what they wanted, against his words. I had to learn to surrender to my guy, to his words and his desires. I didn’t always want to, sometimes it felt good to be the dictator of my own tiny country, but I knew that I had to, or I could lose it all.
I wish I could say that it was a simple switch that needed to be pulled to make the change but the truth is that I had to surrender my need to control and my guy had to start speaking up, even if it meant saying something unpopular. These days we work more as a team. Our children are much older and completely capable, so a lot of the daily stress is gone, but we each have a say in how things are done at home and in his work. We try to listen to what is said, and I have to work really hard sometimes to hear what is not, but it is worth it. Keeping the peace doesn’t mean keeping quiet, and controlling the environment should be left to the thermostat.