I remember when Liz Curtis Higgs talked at a Hearts at Home conference about her control issues in her marriage. She said that she knew things had gotten out of hand the day she and her husband pulled into a parking lot. He was driving and said to her, “Where do you want me to park? I’m sure you’ve already picked out a spot.”
I remember cringing at that story, thinking it hit a little too close to home.
Then I heard another Hearts at Home conference speaker talk about the same issue in her marriage. She chose to “fast” for one month from decision-making in her marriage, to get a grip on the control issues that were affecting their relationship.
Again I cringed…and began to pay attention to how often I made comments that just didn’t need to be made. Sometimes it was a comment about how something is done (we often do things differently but my comments indicated that the way he did something wasn’t just different, it was wrong.) Sometimes it was a tone in my voice or exasperation when he asked about something I felt he ought to already know. Sometimes it was a sharp comeback when he forgot something I felt he shouldn’t forget. Certainly he felt the judgment when I was thinking I don’t have five kids, I really have six.
As I became more honest with myself, I realized that I often had very little grace for Mark to be human, different from me, and imperfect. My expectations were off the charts and it was hurting my marriage.
That’s when someone introduced me to The God-Empowered Wife book by Karen Haught. Karen called out this behavior as disrespectful and even emasculating when she said,
“We emasculate our husbands by mothering them and then complain they aren’t stepping up to the plate. When that doesn’t work, we use thinly disguised attempts to control and change them…pushing and prodding them to do what we think they should, or setting a “good example” and hoping they’ll get the hint. Eventually, we end up way out front stretched thin, trying to pull our husbands forward and wondering why they aren’t cooperating…We become the dominant spouse, even if that wasn’t the original intent.”
It’s never fun to look at our sin in the mirror, but that’s exactly what I had to do. This was the cycle we’d begun to have in our marriage and it was time to change it. The beautiful thing about Karen’s book is that she gave very practical, specific strategies to turn around this dysfunction. The more I applied her Biblical wisdom, the more Mark began to trust that I would let him be himself in our marriage.
It was a slow turnaround but an important one.
You know what the biggest lesson was? It was to let things go. Keep my mouth shut. Refrain from comment. Let him do things different than me. Be okay with something not being done as “efficiently” as I would like it to be. I had to determine that my marriage was way more important than my commentary or my effort to have things done my way.
The more I’ve shared about this, the more I realize that I wasn’t alone. Many marriages suffer from this kind of emasculation.
I dare you to change. Zip your lip. Let things go. Refrain from comment.
And if you want to get really serious about it, get a copy of Karen’s book.
I promise you it will change your marriage.
What about you? Can you see yourself in this description? Ready to make a change? What will you commit to stop today in your marriage?