Who’s In Charge Here?

Saturdays reveal the cracks in my marriage. I open my eyes Saturday morning, and just like every other day of the week, the first thing I think about is my list. “What needs to be done? What is on the calendar? How quickly can the kids finish their chores? Kurt’s been traveling all week – he’s got a million things to catch up on! Go go go!” And even if hubs blesses me by getting up with the kids, I come downstairs and see the breakfast dishes, the kids relaxing, and no checkmarks on the to-do list. Instant anxiety-fueled grump.

And then there are Kurt’s Saturday deep thoughts: “Whee! Saturday!”

Thus begins the weekly power struggle that inevitably leads us to snap at each other by 3:00, not even really knowing what we’re so irritated about.

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Whether you’re a stay-at-home parent, or your spouse travels a lot, or you work outside the home, we all fall into patterns of becoming an island unto ourselves. We go through our days following our personalized schedules, coming up with our silly plans to control the outcomes of our days, bossing our kids around, or bossing others around at work. But when we come together as a marital unit, we have to realize the boss needs to leave the building.

Marriage is like one big group school project. Those things were the worst, and we may all still have some residual feelings about how “collaborating” actually translates into, “nobody wins.” But it doesn’t have to be that. Collaborating with your spouse can actually result in an everybody-wins scenario. Here’s what I’ve learned lately-          What are you really irritated about? In my case, I finally realized I was exhausted from trying to control everything throughout the week. Kurt travels and it’s left on me to work out every second of our weekdays. By Saturday, I’m so fried and spun up, I’m almost incapable of unclenching my fists to let someone take the reins from me. It’s such a relief when I allow him to take control.

–          Lay down your weapons. I realized gearing up for a battle ensured a battle would ensue. But the minute you become vulnerable and tell your spouse what’s really happening in your heart, boom, détente.  It could be something as simple as, “Man, the baby peed on me 27 times this week. I just can’t change another diaper.” Or it could be something bigger, but you have to stop being SuperRobot long enough to be open with your spouse.

–          Whoever says sorry first, wins. This is, sadly, something I’m still learning. But I do see that immediately the situation deescalates for the better and you both lean in together to solve the problem.

The Bible says, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love (Eph. 4:2).”

Be humble, be gentle, be open to compromise. I’ve been trying this lately and it’s amazing how smoothly it’s going. My Saturday to-do list may get done a little later (like Monday-ish), but there are more smiles, more fun for the kids and for us, and definitely fewer grumps all around. Turns out, “Whee! Saturday!” might be the best thing for me, after all.

Try an experiment this week: See if you can “outhumble” your spouse; relinquish all control. See what happens when you put the other’s ideas above your own. The results may surprise you.

Carey from Cary lives with her husband, Kurt, and Reid, Halley, & Ben, who call her mama and keep her hustling. An Army brat, Carey’s lived in the Carolinas longer than anywhere else; although it makes her itchy sometimes, her roots are firmly planted in the ground here. By the time Kurt graduates from seminary in a few years, Carey plans to miraculously be transformed from salty and snarky into a sweet and submissive pastor’s wife…but it ain’t looking too good so far.

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