I want to discuss one more way that our mates can sometimes control us … through the ever-tempting avenue of enabling them.
The reason I say this is “tempting” is probably because I feel this draw as a woman and mother perhaps a bit more than men generally do. Enabling actually springs up from a good place—the need to nurture and protect—but it results in emotionally and relationally crippling those we enable. It’s nothing to take lightly or consider as healthy or helpful in any way!
There are 3 common ways that we let our mates control us …
#1 – We decide that our spouses are unable to do something—or at least do it the way “we” would—so we do it for them.
#2 – We fear asking our mates to do something more or “new” because it might cause conflict.
#3 – We fear that our mates are incapable of managing some struggle or we just don’t want to see them suffer, so we shield them from that pain.
Here’s an even uglier way to interpret how enabling controls me …
[Tweet “When I’m enabling my husband, I don’t see how arrogant I’m being.”]
[Tweet “When I enable my spouse, I’m being a coward that’s afraid to confront.”]
[Tweet “When I’m enabling my mate, I don’t see how little I trust my spouse to manage his own pain. “]
In my own marriage, I have mostly enabled my “children” (poor guys!) rather than my spouse over the years. But there have been some ways that I’ve enabled my husband as well. I used to be a huge control freak and couldn’t stand the way my husband loaded the dishwasher, folded laundry, or cleaned an area of our house.
I wanted to tell him how to do those things—“my way” of course—which he wasn’t always crazy about doing (#1). Go figure! At some point I decided that I’d rather just do it for him than to fight about it (#2).
Over time this created something of a burden on me as well as making me resentful, until I woke up to the fact that it was unhealthy for both of us and our marriage. So one day, I sat down with my hubby and talked about new ways that he could help me out around the house. Thankfully, he was receptive to this new change. Many spouse’s are not—at least not at first. #yayGary!
Before this could work, I had to learn two challenging things …
I had to communicate more of what I needed in a gentle but clear way, rather than being so self-sufficient or afraid of conflict.
I had to let my perfectionistic preferences for how something should be done go. #letitgo (Is the song playing in your head now? 😉 )
If I were enabling out of fear of the pain my spouse would suffer, then I would have to learn to trust God more. After all, God’s got my hubby covered a whole lot more than I could ever manage!
I have to say that I feel so much more satisfaction in my marriage because of these small shifts. It feels like we are more of a team and I don’t get snagged on any building resentments because I’ve learned to do, as “relationship guru” Barney Fife 😉 would say …
“You’ve got to nip it! Nip it! Nip it in the bud!”
What are some ways you’ve tried to enable your mate or your kids?
What are some ways that you’ve “nipped” that bad habit in the bud?
Linking up with – Mommy Moments, Weekend Whispers, Making Your Home Sing, Mondays @ Soul Survival, Faith ‘n Friends, Word of God Speak, Sharing His Beauty, Spiritual Sundays, Words with Winter, Sitting Among Friends, Family, Friendship and Faith, DanceWithJesusFriday and Playdates with God