Kate says . . .
I have an addiction. It’s real, it’s hard and it threatens to take me over.
It is something I have wrestled with since the beginning of our marriage, something that makes me angry; angry for wanting it and at the same time angry when I don’t have it.
I want it and will find sneaky ways to get it. I think about it daily, sometimes in direct ways and sometimes in ways you wouldn’t even think were an issue. It is one of those addictions that is easy to hide and fake with a smile. Those outside of our home and close friends will not know it or see the signs of it. They may however see the effects of it on our marriage.
You heard me right, I am Kate and I am addicted to control and it was seriously damaging our marriage.
The definition of an addiction is: “The fact or condition of being addicted to a particular substance, thing, or activity. Synonyms: Dependency, dependent, habit, problem.”
The definition of control is: “The power to influence or direct people’s behavior or the course of events.”
Life was easier if it was going my way, everything had an order and made sense. I had a routine and ways that I did things, anyone coming in and messing with my routine -well that just wasn’t acceptable. Usually the person trying to mess things up was Brad. Not because he was trying to upset me, but because he was trying to be a part of our family.
The Truth is Revealed
I’ll never forget the day; it was a Saturday at home with our three toddler kids. I can still see where I was standing in the kitchen. We were heading out for a family outing and Brad stepped in to get the kids ready. Soon after everything fell apart. There were kids crying, a dad who was very frustrated, and me asking “what is going on?”
Brad explained how he tried to handle a situation and I immediately gave him that look. That look of “Well, if you had done it the way I do, this would not have happened.” I took over the situation and calmed things down. I was so frustrated and said to Brad, “When you are home, you mess everything up!”
I still can’t believe I said it and yet, it was how I felt at the time. He looked at me dumbstruck and deeply hurt. I was too deep in my own addiction of control to really care. The kids were with me all day and so knew what I expected of them. When Brad was home, they had no clue.
Having an Open Heart
In one of those moments when my heart was open; you know the times where you deeply want God to come in and break all of you, rebuilding you from the heart out. In that state of open heart, break me Lord moments; I saw my addiction for what it was. Control was devastating my marriage.
- Control to have my family be the way I wanted them to be.
- Control to be the leader in my house, because I felt my husband was not and had no desire to do so.
- Control to keep my kids and family in a certain box so that I didn’t have to deal with the messiness of life.
It was a rules and religion mentality that sounds a lot like a Pharisee!
In order to have victory over any addiction you have to deal with the root. For me the root went back to my expectations of my husband when we got married. I expected that he would naturally step up and be the strong, head of the family that God was calling him to be. I say that not to point the finger at Brad. No matter how much Brad did or did not step up as our leader, I had the choice to take over control or to support and lift up Brad as the leader no matter what.
Control was my choice. It was also my choice to continue to go back to control when I knew it was bad for all of us. Control gave me a false sense of safety and stability. It started a cycle of Brad just staying out of my way and me needing more and more control over my family.
The Day God Spoke to My Heart
It was one of those heart rending moments where the Holy Spirit whispers to you. He whispered “How can Brad lead, when you are standing in his way?” It was then that I began to pick up the crumbled pieces of who I was as a wife. I sought God’s word on who I should be as a wife. I did not focus on who Brad should be as a husband. Only on what God was asking of me.
I began saying things like “we need to wait and talk to your dad when he gets home before we make a decision on that.” Not for things like, “do you want peanut butter or a ham sandwich?” that’s just ridiculous!
I started to step back anytime Brad was talking to our kids and just be a support. There were many times I practically bit my tongue off, but it was what God was asking of me. It was amazing the freedom I started to feel in letting my husband lead.
I needed to step back and allow him to lead, but also I needed to encourage him as he led. I tried to be his biggest cheerleader in all that he was doing. It was amazing to watch him flourish as the leader of our family. It was nothing like I had expected, and yet it was better than I had ever imagined.
He is a quiet, yet assertive, deeply sweet leader. He is full of God-given wisdom and I am so thankful for his leadership. God designed him to lead us and it is a beautiful thing.
I am Not Alone
When I’ve shared about my addiction to control with other wives in our community, I find that I am NOT alone. Many wives struggle with wanting and needing control instead of trusting God’s plan for your husband as the leader.
This is an addiction that we can beat. I know for me the want of control still seeks to overtake me. I am thankful that I can be open and deal with it, when I am struggling.
Don’t miss Brad’s follow-up post: Husband Leadership 101
And my follow- up: Breaking the Addiction: The Real & The Raw
How about you?
Do you as a wife find yourself needing control of all that goes on in your household?
Would you say it is overtaking you?
What do you think your husband would say if you asked him the same question?