One of the most difficult things about relinquishing control is that we don’t always know when we’re being controlling. Letting your husband know how little regard you have for his ideas is the most dangerous and subtle form of control.
When you squash your husband’s ideas you are telling him you don’t trust him.
Without trust there can be no intimacy.
Therefore, one of the keys to relinquishing control is to respect your husband’s thinking.
Your husband may make a pronouncement that sounds silly. He’s human and he deserves the space to think about things, concoct crazy schemes, and make mistakes, just as you do.
We all need the freedom to muse out loud about whatever it is we’re thinking. So, the first step in respecting your husband’s thinking is to let him think out loud without criticizing, laughing at, dismissing, or insulting him.
Instead, say with as much kindness and sincerity as you can muster , “Whatever you think” when he is telling you his ideas.
For instance, if he comes up with a nutty thought that he should change jobs, and this strikes terror in your heart, you say, “Whatever you think.”
If he says he thinks the kids should learn how to ski, and this sounds dangerous to you, say, “Whatever you think.”
If he says he thinks the two of you should go out to dinner, and you think you should save money and eat at home, say, “Whatever you think.”
Even if you think what he’s saying is lunacy, respond by reminding him that you respect what he thinks.
Practice saying, “Whatever you think” repeatedly because it’s difficult to form those words when you really need them most.
For best results, use this phrase exactly like you see it here.
I’ve heard variations on this phrase such as “It’s up to you,” “What do you think?” “That’s for you to decide” and “Whatever you want,” but none of these communicates both implicit trust in his thinking and a healthy detachment from his problems as well as “Whatever you think.”
Of course, this phrase also implies that you agree with whatever he thinks, which means you’re going to end up agreeing to a lot of things that you never would have before.
It’s not as dangerous as it sounds— all you’re really doing is allowing your man to be himself.
Sometimes your husband’s ideas will materialize and sometimes they won’t. But if you trust him —and respect his ideas rather than trying to control what actually comes to fruition— I guarantee that you will be one step closer to fostering intimacy with your husband.
He may lose money. He may make you late. The kids might get bruised knees.
He may make a mess, or lose his job or let the bills go so long that the water gets turned off.
None of those situations is permanent, none of them is life threatening, and all of them are part of being human. They can certainly put a strain on your marriage, but they don’t have to.
You have the power to choose whether you fight about something for days or laugh about it for years.
Many of us harbor the illusion that when we reject disagreeable thoughts and ideas immediately, those thoughts die and never materialize into actions with unpleasant consequences.
We believe that we won’t have to deal with the financial uncertainty of a job change if we tell him it’s not a good idea.
We think we won’t have to be afraid for our children’s safety if we dismiss his idea of teaching them to ski.
We won’t have to watch our husband suffer and curse while repairing the plumbing himself if we give him “ the look” that lets him we know we don’t think he can do it.
The problem is that when your squash your husband’s ideas, you kill his spirit. When you disrespect your husband’s thinking, he feels rejected. You give him no choice but to believe that you already know what’s best and have complete veto power.
You are letting him know who is in charge: you.
He has that recurring thought, “Why bother?”
And you are left with feeling tired from shouldering all the responsibility.
But this vicious circle can be interrupted.
If you respond to your husband’s ideas with trust, he will feel a new level of responsibility .
If he says he can fix the plumbing himself, and you say, “whatever you think,” he will feel the full weight of the task on his shoulders and probably even some fear.
He will think more seriously about the task before deciding whether he wants to take it on.
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