Today I was thinking about how I felt two years ago at about this time of year. I’ve grown so much in only two years time…
I used to depend solely on my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) for my security, happiness, and identity. I was so insecure and took much of what he said as a bash against me. I remember feeling as though I needed him to be happy. It’s hard to explain the difference but I feel so much more secure in my relationship and also in who I am as a person. It would be convenient to say that it’s just because I’m married now and there’s more security in that but I know that’s not realistic. A slip of paper and a ceremony don’t increase security. I know how easy it is to get a divorce now-a-days and that’s scary. I really think that it’s me (admittedly with some subliminal help from my husband) who has caused the change.
My husband has helped me step out of my shell as well and it has been challenging at times. There have been many times where I questioned whether I was in the right kind of relationship. He doesn’t cater to me. He doesn’t do exactly what I want him to do when I want him to do it. He’s his own person and he has always been that way from the get-go. I admire that in him now. I never used to. I guess the relationships I had been in before had transformed me into a control-freak.
Someone once told me that I “allow my husband to do too much”. I took her word for it because she has been married for many years and her marriage seems to be a very happy one. The problem with her statement is that her mindset works for her marriage but it doesn’t work for mine. Her husband allows her to decide what he does and does not do with his time, mine doesn’t. He will consult me or tell me if he has plans, but he doesn’t feel the need to ask for my permission before he does something. I’ve realized that I don’t have control over what my husband does with his time. If I try to, I end up anxious and very unhappy. Spiraling downward into a dark, breathless hole where I beat myself up psychologically.
Every relationship is different and for a while I thought there was a final destination for a “healthy relationship”. I told myself “it shouldn’t be this hard” for a while. When I was really unhappy and felt utterly out of control I would fall back on this phrase while having a pity party for myself. I thought the perfect, healthy, happy relationship would include two people talking to each other in the way that is specified in all the books (paraphrasing things back to each other and reflecting feelings), never arguing, saying I love you after each phone call or before leaving the house and several times while just sitting together, kisses in the mornings, words of goodnight and good morning, complete honesty in a tactful way….my list was endless. Who knows, there may be a relationship out there that is like that, but for the most part I’ve come to learn that it’s unrealistic to expect these things.
I don’t expect my husband to be my everything anymore. I’m sure I will struggle back and forth with that phrase but right now that’s how I feel. He is a very large part of my life but he is only part. I will not allow other people to define the health of my relationship (unless, of course, they have been trained in doing so). Finally, any advice will be thoroughly analyzed before being stored in my subconscious. Those words “you let him do too much” really struck me like a ton of bricks. As a control-freak, the thought that I was allowing my husband to do more than most wives allow scared me. Now I realize that I can’t allow or disallow him from doing anything, that’s not my job. All I can control is my participation in the relationship.
Disclaimer: my marriage has never been abusive and has never included alcoholism, drug abuse, infidelity, or any other addiction. By allowing my husband to “do too much”, I wasn’t requiring him to check in with me while he was out with his buddies or to ask for my permission before he went out and did something that didn’t affect me. However, although we can’t control our significant others, we can control our own involvement in the situation. If you are in an abusive relationship or think that your significant others’ substance abuse (including alcohol), other addiction, or infidelity has gotten out of control, I am not saying that it is necessary for you to stay in the relationship just because you can’t control what he or she does.
I’m very grateful for the progress I’ve made and for noticing these changes.