Updated: Oct 8
Today's subject is an extension to an earlier subject I posted this week. In that post I concentrated on how many victims in an authoritarian marriage will say sorry a lot. I'd like to go a bit deeper into this subject today.
Sometimes we do not even have to mutter the words, "I'm sorry" because our body language and/or word choice is expressing the words for us. Let's see if I can unpack this concept for you. It can be tricky for those of us who truly want to please those around us. Making someone happy in and of itself is not a bad thing. It's a very good thing to bring a smile to someone's face! However, it's so important for our relationships to exhibit mutuality. Sure, I have no problem caring about my child's needs or my husband's requests. But is my husband looking out for my needs and have I modeled for my children that mommy has needs and that those needs are important? For me personally, I did neither! My life was about giving and I did it freely. After all, I interpreted scripture to mean that I was to completely empty myself for the good of others! But how many times did I give beyond my limits only to be asked to give more or (even worse) being told it wasn't good enough. That's when resentment sets in.
Let's start with the kiddos! How do I model this mutuality for them so they will see their mommy as a person who also has needs and definitely has a right to have them met?
It starts with small phrases. And it needs to be expressed matter-of-factly.
Small phrases simply means do not give a full dissertation on why you deserve (fill in the blank), or why you need to do (fill in the blank). Keep it short and sweet. And definitely do not express a lot of emotion. You will either appear to be whining or desperate. Neither of these 2 things are positive. And they definitely portray to the listener that even you do not believe you deserve (fill in the blank).
Let me give you an example. My teenage daughter comes home from school and announces that her school project is due tomorrow. She and some friends have discussed getting together to work on it. She's offered her house and would like for me to make my famous cheesecake brownies for them to snack on. As her mom, nothing would bring me greater joy than hosting her friends for an evening to complete an assignment. Likewise, I'm so happy she recognizes that my cheesecake brownies are amazing because I find so much joy in baking. All seems good, right? The problem is I already told a friend that I could come over and help her with something important and then go grab a bite together, afterwards. I cannot do both. How do I handle this? I turn to my daughter (maybe even give her a hug) and say, "Honey, that sounds like an amazing idea! I'm so proud of you for being proactive in your school studies! I'd love to host your friends and make my brownies, but I have another commitment tonight." I don't apologize, I don't spend 5 minutes giving her the details of my evening. And it is not my job to come up with an alternative. It is not my problem to fix. If this assignment and her friends gathering is important to her, then she will come up with another idea. So basically I've been given the opportunity to parent my daughter in 2 ways: First, I've shown her that mom's plans/needs/desires are important too. And I've modeled for her that this is her responsibility, not mine.
Now for the husband! I'll address this one again as if it happened to me (and honestly some version of this did happen and unfortunately I did not always take care of myself). I receive a call from my husband while talking to our pediatrician. I refuse his call initially and call him back after my discussion with the Doctor is finished. He's angry that I didn't put him first. Before I can get a word in, he gruffly tells me that a coworker is in town today and he'd like for the 2 of us to join him for dinner. He tells me he'll come home and pick me up at 5:30. Normally I would jump at the chance to have an evening out. But tonight will be more work for me and I am already exhausted mentally and physically. I do not have a babysitter for our young children, I'm sweaty from the physical labor of my job and I don't have the desire to spend an hour getting dolled-up for an evening out. It's just too much for me. How do I handle it? "Honey, that sounds like an evening I would normally jump at. However, I'm absolutely beat! I need to soak in a hot bath and order in food tonight. You go ahead without me and enjoy a boys night out!"
I understand that your situation might look different and the players may have certain hang-ups that can create more havoc for your life that I've not addressed. The point is, you are important. And voicing your needs whether verbally or by action says more to your family than you know. There is absolutely no need for you apologize for your needs.
You were wonderfully and fearfully made. To God, YOU MATTER! Bask in the glory of your God who truly loves you! You are important to Him! Now is time for you to take care of yourself. You know how to love others so take some of those skills and love yourself!
Love to you all as we learn together!