Question: Dear Luise and Hi Mom: I don’t know how to start this… but I am having a lot of marital difficulties, being within the first year of marriage (which I know, is the hardest part… yeah, yeah) but deeper than that, I have a self-judgment over it. I believe my husband is a good man, but I know we got married too soon. He spends all his time with younger, unmarried men, and I feel he does not yet realize in his inner self his responsibilities here. However, this can very well be attributed to the pressure and control I exert over him because he is not “the perfect man” I was expecting him to be when we got married. He was a good, God-seeking man before our marriage, and even several months into. But he did things (which culturally are acceptable to him and normal to him, but not to me, having come from a different country) and now he is a completely different man. I am also emotionally unstable and blow up on little things, a part of control that is trying to lash out of me against him, and then he goes running away and has now emotionally distanced himself from me. The point is that I don’t know how to change MYSELF because I know I can’t change him. How can I be more flexible, less impulsive (especially with my words), and more loving towards my husband? I don’t want to run away like I used to, but need to learn to sit still and stay focused and work through my dealings. How can I relax and live without this Jezebel control in me? Thanks for your advice. B.
Answer: Dear B.: Well, first of all I want to commend you for the insights about yourself that you presented in your question. Do you have any idea how unusual that is? Really! It’s so easy to just notice the other person’s failings and than pass over our own personal shortcomings. I suppose it’s lucky we never get the perfect mate because then where would we be in our imperfection?
You are frustrated by what’s happening in your marriage and I would be, too. And your frustration is showing up in very negative ways that probably make you much less appealing to your husband. At the same time, he is being just as reactive and generally speaking, it’s a mess.
Marrying young works for some people. It often depends on how much maturity has been gained prior to marriage and how much the couple has in common. I had a friend who was mature in kindergarten…I kid you not. She married at 19 and everything went swimmingly. (I hated her for decades.) However, if we don’t know ourselves all that well and if we have a lot of growing up to do, many of us will pick a partner who is in the same fix. That can spell disaster.
What you can do is to get counseling to help you through the growing pains ahead. You need an advocate. My guess is being alone with the problem is what’s causing your bursts of temper…you sound overwhelmed with the direction your marriage is taking. Your guy doesn’t even seem like the person you married and if anyone asked him, he would probably say the same thing about you.
As you get help sorting all of it out, you may find that your relationship is definitely worth saving. Or it’s possible that you will find you can’t do it all yourself and you’re not getting the cooperation you need to go forward. That’s all down the road and not what needs tending to right now.
Good for you for not running. It’s still the first thing I think of at age 82, but at least it’s not the first thing I do…(any longer.) Your husband may be very responsive to your choosing the high road, which is simply growing up. (Simple but not easy for most of us.) In time, he may decide to face the same tigers but some men choose not to and remain little boys until they’re my age and beyond.
Right now…get help and then see where that takes you. I would also suggest that you take your concerns to my second and very new website: Mother In Laws Unite! There is a lot of collective wisdom shaping up there already and I think you could get some much-needed support if you asked for it. Just register (it’s free), log in, and scroll down to where you can compose your own topic. I’m going to do the same thing later today because I just lost my best friend after 45 years of hanging out together through thick and thin and am finding it unbelievably difficult. Blessings, Luise