Lost the Connection in My Marriage
Lost the Connection in My Marriage
Bonnie Mottram, Laura Doyle Certified Coach
I have been married to my highschool sweetheart for over 30 years. We were pretty happy for the most part but struggled with a small part–the one where I tried to manipulate him into being the way I thought he should be.
We had been dating for nine years before he finally asked me to marry him, so we had children right away. I would tell him how to parent. I often got in the middle of his disciplining them to let him know I disagreed with his punishment, which I did in front of the kids.
I felt I needed to control the money too since he hadn’t learned to manage a bank account in his bachelor days. After complaining that our life plan was not working out, I would demand that we have “a talk.”
This is where I did most of the talking and he would nod, as if he were on the same page agreeing with every word I said about how things needed to be in order to work.
If only he would do what he was supposed to, we would get along just fine, or so I thought. Unfortunately, he didn’t respond in kind.
We joined small groups at church, thinking they would help us gain some perspective from other married couples. Then we would fight on the way home about how I interrupted his conversations, corrected the details in his stories, and felt responsible for him getting all the facts straight to tell the story correctly, the way it really happened!
I sought out books in the self-help section of the library, talked with other women, and consulted with clergy. I came up empty handed and resorted to my own ways of dealing with each new challenge. After a while, we were encouraged to seek marriage counseling.
We tried that too and it seemed to work for a little while, but I realized it was just a way to have someone hear my despairing story. I found myself defending my husband to the counselor, and we soon stopped going.
We were right back where we’d started, only feeling a little more hopeless, financially strained, and emotionally defeated.
I didn’t know what to do anymore.
Eventually, I found myself contemplating divorce. I was unhappy and sure that my husband was too! I just couldn’t go on like this anymore and started imagining a life without him. My three children were all grown up, and I began thinking about how we would split things up to be fair before going our separate ways.
I couldn’t believe I was having these thoughts, but I didn’t know what else to do.
Then a friend introduced me to one of Laura Doyle’s programs and invited me to try it out. She told me how she believed that it would save my marriage. Years before, she had given me a copy of the book The Surrendered Wife, so I took it off my shelf, dusted it off, and gave this program a try.
I enrolled that very day!
I started applying the principles outlined in the program immediately. With the encouragement of other surrendering women, I used the cheat phrase “whatever you think” when my husband asked what he should do regarding a financial purchase. You see, I was the one who always made the financial decisions, so he didn’t dare spend money without consulting me because if he did, he would hear my wrath.
I started respecting my husband’s decisions by accepting his choices, big or small, even if I didn’t totally agree with them. I used the metaphor of applying duct tape whenever I had the urge to correct him, tell him how to drive, or what he should wear!
He just always looked to me for approval. After I learned to relinquish control of his driving, we were on the freeway and he missed the exit.
I didn’t say a word.
I looked at my phone, placed my hands under my legs, and we continued on. And on. After a few miles, he noticed we had missed the exit and immediately blamed me for not letting him know.
“Why didn’t you say something,” he yelled.
I just sat there, not knowing what to say next. Finally, I replied, “Well, honey, I am not going to control your driving any more. I trust that you know where you’re going.”
This is where I heard how controlling I’d been in the past. He said, “You know, when you are in the car, it’s like I am on autopilot and just wait for you to tell me what to do next, and you didn’t!”
I couldn’t believe I had disrespected him by telling him how to drive. He drives for work, every day! I immediately apologized for all the times I thought he just didn’t know how to drive or where he was going. He had known all along.
Being respectful is such a great feeling!
I eventually let go of handling our finances, and he started paying the bills. He never seemed to forget his wallet when we’d go out for dinner. He became more aware of our financial situation and started commenting that he was doing better at work. He even turned in his expense report without me having to remind him. And he said I could get that laptop I’d always wanted!
After a few short months of replacing old habits with new ones, I began looking at what I love about my husband rather than what I don’t.
The love and support of the women in the program and the guidance of a coach empowered me to move toward intimacy in my marriage that I never thought possible.
My surrendering is more about progress than perfection, and I have a lifelong journey ahead of me. The difference today is that I am happier and living with the love of my life, who cherishes me and looks for ways to adore me each and every day.
I am blessed to have an even better marriage than I did decades ago!
What to do next…
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