Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Reasons to Quit Being a Control Freak!!!

Regardless of the reasons or justification for our wanting to change our husbands, when we analyze the reasons not to try to change them, it is easier to see why we need to let these things go.  Once we come to the understanding that we need to let go of changing our husbands, we can then look at how to identify and change even the nicest control freak habits we may fallen into.

1.            Not our role.                         
               Goal:   Knowing your place, staying there, and enjoying it.

            First and foremost, it is not your role to change your husband.  When we got married, there was nothing in any ceremony, license or understanding that we were the judge, jury, or image consultants for our husbands.   Most probably a good reason you won your husband’s heart is because he felt you admired and respected him.   

            One thing that really helps me know how to handle a lot of situations and realize what I should be doing in particular situations is knowing my role.  What is your role in your husband’s life? 

            Is your role to change him?  Do you let him know he gets on your nerves or point out his faults?  Do you recite things your father always did to accentuate things he doesn’t do?  Do you leave articles laying around, or worse yet, read them to him thinking he’ll catch on?  Do you drop hints or coax him to improve?  Do you try to make him feel guilty or play the martyr in front of others?

            If we are careful to operate within our role or responsibility, not only are we set free from being “in charge” of who our husband is, but we set our husbands free to learn, change and grow independent of doing so in answer, obedience, or under our authority and demands. 

            When you are operating in the role of judge, jury or image consultant, it is impossible to live the role as wife, lover, friend and soul mate at the same time.  Because you have taken on one, you obscure the other.  You have to make a choice and pick one role and go with it.  Men thrive on your admiration, and a critic’s role by definition is not to admire but rather to express an unfavorable opinion of something.  You can’t be looking for good and bad at the same time.

            Once you start looking for things, you can creatively find things your husband is amazing at.  Some people believe success, goodness, beauty, and talent are like pieces of a pie…  if someone has those things it must be taken from them in order to have it yourself.  We know that God made all of us to be successful, good, beautiful and talented, so we are able to appreciate those things in someone else without feeling threatened by it.  My children would get upset if someone acted “cool” sometimes and would say They think they are so cool!  I would reply, They ARE cool – why can’t they be cool – I think that it is pretty cool that [they have this or that or do this or that].  Let or allow your husband to be cool or good at things and let him know that you think that.  Only good can come as a result of it.

            A man’s temperament, personalities, and position as the leaders of our homes make it difficult for them to take orders from women.  We are going to learn more about that in a later lesson.  But here I want to underscore that we underestimate our role as the second in command.   Ralph Waldo Emerson said Who shall set a limit to the influence of a human being? 

            That is why we set our husbands free from answering to us, we set them free to be the person they are, and we work on who we are.  Many times that will inspire our husbands, but even if it doesn’t we realize that we aren’t responsible for his behavior, only for our own.  Marriage is not an excuse to stop working on your behavior and character because you are working on your husband’s!
            When other people tried to conform me into their ideas of what they thought, I resisted, or at best if I changed my actions, it was a burden to me.  However, when the Lord put something on my heart that needed to change, it became a freedom to me.  It became apparent that even if I could manipulate my husband to change his behaviors, it was a burden to him and he often resented it.  By making my demands I was standing in the way of what God could impact my husband to do.  If I would just get out of the way and leave the results to the Lord, many times I could be a part of influencing my husband to change in a more positive way and in so doing make him less resistant to change because it wasn’t in answer to my demands.  Because I chose to love and respect my husband regardless of whether he changed some of his actions or attitudes, he knew regardless of whether he changed or not I still loved and admired him in other areas, leaving the responsibility between him and God.

             After you move out of the way, your husband has no excuse to hide behind and has to answer for his behavior himself.  That’s the freedom of letting God deal it as God and staying in your role and friend, lover, and soul mate.  The problem is that women have more resources, more encouragement, more support, more emotions and see things much deeper than most men.  However, before women are even close to living up to their potential with all these advantages, they are more worried about changing their husbands than they are with changing the way that they are! 

            I love the way the Message Bible states this problem:

            Matthew 7.1-5 - Don’t pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults— unless, of course, you want the same treatment. That critical spirit has a way of boomeranging. It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own. Do you have the nerve to say, ‘Let me wash your face for you,’ when your own face is distorted by contempt? It’s             this whole traveling road-show mentality all over again, playing a holier-than-thou part instead of just living your part. Wipe that ugly sneer off your own face, and you might be fit to offer a washcloth to your neighbor.

            Just think of where you will be if all that energy you spend on manipulating and changing your husband is redirected at being the best you can be as a wife!  You will not only learn unconditional love and grow in every character definition of the fruit of the Spirit of love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, and temperance,
            It should be a huge relief for you to relinquish the job of changing your husband. “You're supposed to be the leading lady of your own life,…” was an epiphany to Iris in the movie The Holiday.  You are the leading lady and what are you doing to live the life you wanted to?  Your part.  Not your husband’s role, but your role:  your lines and what you say, where you go, and what you do. 

            Now that you know what your role is as wife, if you find yourself operating outside of that role, refuse to.  Starve that behavior.  Make choices to move away from those actions. 

2.            Throws Water on His Love for You
               Goal:            To Keep Putting Firewood to Keep Love Fires Burning and
                                   Avoid Extinguishing Love

            Just like a fire needs to be fed, so does your relationship.  If you think you are staying the same, you are probably heading backwards.  There are many things that can contribute to extinguishing love.  Unfortunately, men tend to take more than women without saying anything.  They may retreat into a shell, stop trying to impress their wives, lose the delight to discuss situations with her feeling she is too critical and doesn’t see the best in him, or turn his attention to other things that will distract him from thinking about your relationship, such as hanging out with his friends more, watching an overabundance of television or working as often as he can.  Sadly, many men will suffer through a lot of things without saying anything and then one day they are DONE.  They get up and they walk away, and many wives have come to be shocked and surprised that “one day” their husband had just “had enough.”  He was done.  The problem is, though, that this didn’t start any time in the recent past:  it has been building and building and building without resolution.

            Let’s face it: your husband would never be romantically interested in his mother.  The moment you take on a mother role with your husband, you are throwing water all over the fires of romantic love and you can be sure those feelings will be doused in a hurry if he looks at you more as a mother image than his lover, friend, and wife.

            At the website affaircare.com, there are several things that extinguish love listed.  As you read through this list, mark off or check the ones you feel you need to stop throwing on the romantic fires in your relationship:

            *Emotional Neglect
                        -Fault finders
                        -My way or the highway (controlling)
                        -Bottomless pit (enough is never enough)

            *Spiritual Neglect
                        -Will not forgive
                        -Lack of personal transparency
                        -Smoke and mirrors (deception)
                        -Disrespectful judgments
            *Physical Neglect
                        -No tender touch
                        -Withholding sexual fulfillment
                        -Abandoning physical attractiveness
            *Financial Neglect
                        -Ongoing unemployment that isn’t part of a mutual understanding
                        -Unwilling/Unable to live by a budget
                        -Hidden debt
                        -Hidden spending or overspending
                        -IRS or legal financial trouble (judgments, liens, etc.)
            *Family Neglect
                        -Refusing to leave and cleave
                        -Not making time for personal adult time (including recreation)
                        -Not making time for each child individually (child rearing)
                        -Inequitable distribution of household chores
                        -Getting too comfortable; giving up
            *Social Neglect
                        -Irritating habits (discourteous)
                        -Independent behavior
                        -Not sharing activities or free time together
                        -The silent treatment or not listening actively
            *Security Neglect
                        -Angry explosions
                        -Attack dog (verbal/emotional abuse)
                        -Passive warmonger (passive-aggressive)
                        -Physical abuse
                        -Not being a safe haven

            Now as we look at some of the things listed for kindling love see where you are adding kindling wood to your relationship:

            *Emotional commitment
                        -Loved:  Do you make sure your spouse feels a loving emotional connection and    
                         commitment from you?
                        -Valued:  Does your spouse believe he is valued by you?
                        -Respected:  Does your spouse believe you respect him?
                        -Trusted:  Does your spouse trust you and see you as trustworthy?  Do
                          you trust him and see him as trustworthy?
                        -Accepted:  Does your spouse know you accept him for the person he  
                        -Appreciated:  Do you express appreciation for your spouse and the 
                         things he does?                                    
                        -Affection:  Do you express affection for your spouse in words and 
                        -Admiration:  Do you admire your spouse and say so out loud?
                        -Understood:  Does your spouse know you understand him?
                        -Forgiveness:  When your spouse does something wrong, do you 
                         forgive him and not bring it up later in an argument?                                    

            *Spiritual Values
                        -Are your spouse’s spiritual values supported by you?
                        -Do you and your spouse have a shared spiritual life?
                        -Do you respect your spouse’s beliefs?
                        -Do you have spiritual transparency about your spiritual beliefs?

            *Physical Commitment
                        -Touch:  Do you regularly touch your spouse?
                        -Kissed:  Do you kiss regularly?
                        -Hugged:  Do you hug regularly?
                        -Tenderness:  Do you regularly cuddle and hold hands?
                        -Are you sexually active with your spouse?
                        -Are you physically attracted to your spouse (their hair, body,  
                         grooming, clothing)?                      
            *Financial Commitment
                        -Is your spouse able to provide for family and children?
                        -Does your spouse actively participate in providing for family and 
                        -Are you able to pay monthly bills without going into debt?
                        -Can you live a lifestyle that’s mutually acceptable to both you and
                        your spouse?
                        -Does your spouse contribute to family income?                       
                        -Does your spouse contribute to paying off family debt?
                        -Are you able to plan for future financial stability?
                        -Are you able to plan for future needs such as kids’ college?
                        -Can your spouse live by a budget?

            *Family Commitment
                        -Does your spouse make time for adult time alone with you?
                        -Does your spouse make time for the children individually?
                        -Do you ask your spouse for help with household chores in a  
                         reasonable way?                     
                        -Do you enlist your spouse’s with raising your children?
                        -Does your spouse say ‘yes’ more than ‘no’ whenever possible?
                        -Do you offer your spouse a “day off” now and then?

            *Social Commitment
                        -Do you include your spouse in your social activities?
                        -Do you support and encourage your spouse in social situations?
                        -Do you share fun and enjoyable activities together?
                        -Do you share joy and laughter?
                        -When others are around, is it obvious you are a couple in love?
                        -Do you like to spend your free time with your husband?
                        -Do you offer your husband free time at home?
                        -Are you a companion to your spouse?
                        -Do you listen well to your spouse and express both interest and 
            *Security Commitment
                        -Do you support your spouse in times of crises?
                        -Do you turn to your spouse in time of crises?
                        -Do you stand by your spouse?
                        -Are you loyal and committed to your spouse and your marriage?
                        -Do you present a united front with your spouse (against relatives
                        or the children)?                       
                        -Is your relationship secure and not “in the balance” over a fight?
                        -Are you there for your spouse when you feel he needs you?
                        -Are you a “soft place to fall,” a safe haven, for your spouse?           

            It should be your goal to be sure you are not constantly dousing love and instead kindling it.  Your actions every day are bringing you closer to total extinguishment or total acceptance and love.  To me this is not complicated:  it involves your choices moment by moment.  You choose which way you will act and respond.  Again, you are responsible for your actions and not your husband’s.  When you purpose to work on yourself to love someone the way you committed to, good things are bound to follow.

3.      When you are constantly trying to change your husband you appear self
          righteous and proud, and self righteousness and pride are worse problems
          than many of the things you pick on about your husband.
          Goal:     To be humble and give him the freedom to grow.           

In What Women Should Know About the Male Ego, by Lance Morton, we are reminded:  Women judge men by their potential and in a very real sense view them as a home-improvement project. Women often express their love for a man by helping him to be a better person. In all honesty, most men don’t want to be a better person, men just want total acceptance. When a man chooses to change, it is usually in association with the fulfillment of his dreams. He is not highly motivated to long term change in order to become what a woman perceives to be a better person, especially if her idea of a better person is isolated and disconnected from his perceived mission in life. A woman’s effort to improve a man feels like a shot to his self-esteem and it is hurtful. When a woman constantly attempts to encourage a man to continue to improve, the man will often conclude that there is nothing he can to do to please her. At the point of that realization, the man usually chooses to devalue the woman’s opinion until it doesn’t matter. Paradoxically, however, men need and want the approval of a woman. Thus, a man who has discounted the value of the opinion of one woman will usually begin to look for another woman who sees him in a more favorable light. Herein lays the root cause of most broken relationships.
When a woman understands that a man needs to be pursuing his dream, that he is not particularly in touch with feelings, and that he longs for acceptance and approval, she can begin to use this knowledge to help her to align her needs and his goals in a harmonious manner. Woman should understand that the man’s dream is his essence and that she will not be able create a successful relationship with a man whose dream she does not support. She must look for ways to align her needs with his purpose by speaking the literal language of achievement and by not over-dwelling in the world of feelings. While men can certainly learn to understand and validate the feelings of a woman, if her intent is to motivate change, the use of the language of feelings will not advance her goal. Women should realize that a man’s evolvement will never be graphed as a steadily rising line, she must allow for plateaus of acceptance. There should be periods of time when the man feels that he has successfully climbed the cliff of improvement and reached a plateau of the safety and total acceptance.
Give your husband the same freedom that God Himself gave him:  his free will.  Accept him for who he is, knowing he is part virtue and part fault.  Look to the good things he is rather than the things he lacks.    Admire your husband, and put him first in your life.   When you give him this personal freedom, his mind will function without barriers and he will be receptive to new ideas, even yours, and encouraged to be his better self. 

William Shakespeare said A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.  Accept your husband where he is and allow him the change to grow. 

A man expects his wife to be the one secure haven where he can relax, be himself, and feel secure.  The realization you are dissatisfied with him threatens his feeling of security, just as you would feel insecure if you felt he didn’t love you for who you are.  This destroys any hope and incentive to strive to be better anyways.  Because of the resentments, angry feelings, conflict, arguments, frustrations, discord and threats to your man’s security, is trying to change him really worth it?  Does what you hope to accomplish in improving him really compensate for the discord in your
home and the damage to your relationship?  Which is more important to you, your children and your husband?  Isn’t love and harmony in marriage of greater value? (taken from FW)

You need to concentrate on your own growth so you can avoid the sin of pride, which constantly tempts us to focus on changing our spouses while neglecting our own weaknesses.  Sacred Influence states that it is not wrong to desire more from your husband, and you may enjoy your marriage more if your husband would drop some bad habits.  But if you are seeking to change your husband you neglect to grow yourself. 

God can use your marriage to teach you how to love.  When we face spiritual and relational trials with the same effect, God can use your marriage to make you a stronger, wiser and more complete woman – provided you don’t run from the challenges that being married to your husband represents.

When your husband receives a steady diet of praise and true appreciation, it can motivate him to overcome his weaknesses and become a better man.  Appreciation can inspire a man, child, or any individual grow to a higher potential.  I knew this from the way my mom raised me and lived it out while raising my children.  I refused to have any other kind of love than the kind in 1 Corinthians 13.7 that bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.  I chose to believe the best about my children, despite any minor lapses they were going through.  I told them, “I know you will make the right choice,” many times and prayed that they did.  Even if they didn’t, they were able to see the results of the wrong choices and see for themselves the reasons our family chose to do a lot of things differently than other people did.  That way, as my children grew into adulthood they knew that they had people that believed the best in them, which I saw lift them to another level. 

One of the things I appreciate about my husband is that he never tries to change me.  There has never been a time in our lives together where I have felt unloved.  I am a more emotional girl, and I have had to work at making sure that he never feels less than totally loved and accepted.  Because emotions tend to sink to the lowest place, this involves taking responsibility, accountability, and having maturity over the words I blurt out. 

There is a song I particularly like, called Who Will Love Me For Me by JJ Heller:

            He cries in the corner where nobody sees
            He's the kid with the story no one would believe
            He prays every night, Dear God won't you please
            Could you send someone here who will love me?

            Who will love me for me
            Not for what I have done or what I will become
            Who will love me for me
            'Cause nobody has shown me what love
            What love really means

            Her office is shrinking a little each day
            She's the woman whose husband has run away
            She'll go to the gym after working today
            Maybe if she was thinner
            Then he would've stayed
            And she says

            Who will love me for me?
            Not for what I have done or what I will become
            Who will love me for me?
            'Cause nobody has shown me what love, what love really means

            He's waiting to die as he sits all alone
            He's a man in a cell who regrets what he's done
            He utters a cry from the depths of his soul
            “Oh Lord, forgive me, I want to go home

            Then he heard a voice somewhere deep inside
            And it said
            I know you've murdered and I know you've lied
            I have watched you suffer all of your life
            And now that you'll listen, I'll tell you that I...

            I will love you for you
            Not for what you have done or what you will become
            I will love you for you
            I will give you the love
            The love that you never knew

To love your husband, for who he is, in spite of his shortcomings, is an attribute of God Himself.  Beauty is truly in the eyes of the beholder, and if you can learn to love, really love, it is the strongest force there is.  The beauty is that if you walk with the Lord, when you run out of love, He will love through you if you just get out of the way.

Most human dysfunctions stem from a lack of love.  When someone really loves you it inspires you to want to be better for them.  I want to love my husband more unconditionally because of the way he loves me, not because of the way he picks at me.   Romans 5.8 tells us that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  Can we show your spouses that while they are yet unperfect we can die to our selfishness and our agendas to just love them?  Joyce Meyers wrote a book called the Love Revolution, which reminds us that for our love to be revolutionary, we need to
practice love every day, until the culture of selfishness gives way to a new culture of concern for others. 

You you really think you are a better person than your husband is?  You need to humbly see your own weaknesses so you can accept his. When you demand that someone change for your sake, you are literally trying to bend the world around your comfort, your needs, and your happiness.  That’s pride, arrogance, and self centeredness – and God will never bless that. 

Free Agency is one of the most fundamental laws of life.  Mankind does not develop or experience happiness without it.  God was fully aware of this principle when He created man and placed him on the earth.  He allowed the forces of evil to be present to tempt him and to try him.  And He knew from the beginning that many of the precious souls of men would fall into sin and reap the bitterness which comes from disobedience.  But He also knew that without freedom, mankind could not grow and develop.  Man has to be given a choice and make that choice himself.  If God could risk man’s future happiness in order to extend to him his precious freedom, a woman should allow her husband this same privilege.  Let him do what he wants to do, and be what he wants to be without interference.

A man is particularly in need of religious freedom, as all mankind has always been.  Wars have been fought over it; men have fought valiantly and died for it; the Pilgrims left Europe because of it; America was founded on this principle.  It is still as important to each of us today; it is out God-given right.  A man has a right to his personal feelings about religion.  When his wife extends this freedom to him, rewards follow.  His mind is more open.  He is more apt to consider another viewpoint.   (Taken from FW.)

Steven Stosny wrote a book on Freedom to Love, asking When did ‘I love you’ degenerate into ‘Meet my needs!’  He states:  To be free to do something, you must be free not to do it.  We are free to love only to the extent that we aren't forced into it by guilt, shame, fear of abandonment, or, worst of all, the interpretation of vulnerable feelings as emotional needs. No matter how seductive "I need you," may sound in popular songs, the partner who needs you cannot freely love you.
If someone needs you, he or she is more likely to abuse you than to give freely of love and support. Most painful conflicts in committed relationships begin with one partner making an emotional request - motivated by a perceived "need" - that the other, motivated by a different "need," regards as a demand. Any disagreement can feel like abuse when the perceived "need" of one party to be "validated" crashes headlong into the "need" of the other not to be manipulated.
"If you loved me, you'd do what I want (or see the world the way I do)," one argues.
"If you loved me, you wouldn't try to control me," the other counters.
The problem is not in the language the couples use or even the content of their arguments, which is why communication and problem-solving techniques rarely help over time. As long as they perceive themselves to have emotional needs that their partners must gratify, their desire to love is reduced to "Getting my needs met," which the partner often perceives as, "You have to give up who you are to meet my needs."

Ultimately, the freedom to love is a core value issue. Which is more important to you, getting your perceived needs met or loving freely? Which gives you the better chance of being loved freely in return?

Stosny’s observations explore the differences between “toddler” love, driving by perceived needs, and “adult” love, driven by desire and values. 

I love how in the movie What About Bob, he walks around grasping saying “I need! I need! I need!”  It is a good catch phrase: if I hear myself sounding “needy” I break into the Bill Murray “I need!  I need!  I need!”

Once you stop expecting your husband to be perfect, and once you give your needs to the Lord, you can learn to love your husband for who he is, and set him free to grow.

4.    It doesn’t work.
       Goal:   To give it up.

            The number one reason you shouldn’t try to change your husband is that it doesn’t work.  It causes your husband to retreat into a shell, creates discord, cools romance, and often causes your husband to want to stay away from you.  When you become a magnifying mirror of your husband’s faults, he will not want to stay around you for long.  How long can you stay in front of that magnifying mirror that makes your pores look like they are to the 100th power?! 

            When my toilet overflowed and I couldn’t plunge it, I knew I couldn’t use it:  it didn’t work.  I left the plunger in the toilet because I didn’t want anyone thinking it was operative!  Why bother trying to use it when it didn’t work?  In the same way, knowing that trying to change your husband doesn’t work but does the opposite, give it up!   When you put the squeeze on your husband, you squeeze the life right out of him!

            Remember, to awaken a man’s love, make him feel like a man.  (Fascinating Womanhood [“FW”])  If you can’t find things to admire and appreciate in your husband right now, have faith in his potential, which is a very real part of a person.  Remember things he has done in the past.  Think about him, about how he deals with others, about his character.  Observe him, and listen to the things he talks about.  Be sincere and specific, and communicate to him some of the things you appreciate about him. 

            Also, look at some of his faults and determine if they are a negative expression of a strength.  For example, maybe your husband is obsessive or demanding, but that is just a negative exhibition of his being a hard worker and a pursuer of excellence.  It has been said that your strength can often be your weakness.  Maybe the things you are seeing are through a critical eye; if you looked beneath the surface you could see the driving force behind the outward behavior and try to inspire the positive demonstration of that strength to life.  This principle applies to raising children too:  your strength is often shown in your weaknesses that need to be turned around.

            For example, I had a strong willed child who had temper tantrums all the time.  The problem was not her strong will, which was later important in her life to swim against the tide of popular opinion to make right choices.  The problem was in the demonstration of the strength through temper tantrums.  Tweaked and turned around, her strong will became her greatest asset in high school.

Request to a Wife

Dear wife, I need adoring looks,
The kind I read about in books.
I want esteem, I want affection.
Please, darling, beam in my direction.

Don’t, dearest, frown and squint your eyes.
Don’t cut me down to proper size.
Oh, do not fear and do not doubt me.
I want to hear the good about me.

So, if you’d be in married clover,
Make over me.
Don’t make me over.

Richard Armour

Michael Card has a song that says:  Can we go on and show the world what it badly needs to know:  That a human soul can love another human soul.

Remember, it is not always about you.  You are not the sun and every one else the planets.  The world shouldn’t revolve around you.  Putting some of these habits of not changing your husband will help to remind you of that, and you will end up liking yourself more regardless of any changes that happen in your relationships!

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