This post is an answer to a submitted question. It aims to provide help and solutions to overcome the issue.
Podcast version: HERE
Quote: “The minute we believe that this shouldn't be happening, this is wrong, this feels terrible, the more power we give to it.”
Adding to the quote: Paradoxically we get more of what we don’t want when we buckle down, and enforce how we want things to be, taking control, overpowering, enforcing our imaginary rules of how things should be, what will make us feel safe and secure. There’s a much easier way, lighter solution and with some practice it will become the automatic response verses an automatic reaction.
“My husband wants to “start living more”… without me
My husband has expressed his desire to have a more vibrant social life this year. He wishes to engage in social activities such as going out for drinks with his friends. His group of friends includes one married individual who is quite wild, another married person who is respectable, and one single person. They plan to meet up and enjoy drinks together around 2-3 times a month.
The problem is that he doesn't want to be concerned about the time he returns home. He explains that my criticism of him for coming home late or beyond the time he mentioned makes him feel submissive, possessed, and manipulated. He is an adult and not engaging in any wrongdoing, so he should not have to feel afraid if the evening is going smoothly and he wishes to stay out late.
I am feeling stressed about this, but I am having difficulty fully comprehending it. I am unsure if I am being overly strict and controlling. It is important to note that we have two young children. It is challenging for me to grasp because I lack any desire to engage in this activity. I would appreciate advice and a different perspective on this matter.”
My Response if we were in a coaching setting. Although without being able to ask questions, I may assume or use scenarios to fill in the gaps.
I can understand where you’re coming from that’s a tricky and your reaction is pretty common.
All you can see is one side, your side.
It's important to remember that there are always multiple perspectives in any situation, and all of them are loaded with emotions.
He's living a life that may seem different than you, but that doesn't mean it's better or worse. It's just different. His thoughts, his feelings, his opinions, his values, his principles, how he was raised, what his rules are, what's right/wrong, better/worse, etc., are going to differ. It doesn't make them right or wrong. The behavior that you're observing may not align with your own choices, but that doesn't make it wrong or right. It's simply a reflection of his own individuality.
What if he does it a couple of times and guilt sets in? What if he witnesses his buddies' lives are actually a mess because they engage in this behavior likely more often than twice a month, and the hangovers are WAY worse than he recalled them to be when he was younger, and not something he is wanting to partake in?
What if fighting him on this makes him more curious and wanting it more?
It's understandable that this can be confusing for you, as you're only able to see things from your own point of view. It's natural to gravitate towards what feels familiar and normal to us. However, it's also important to be open-minded and try to understand where he's coming from. By doing so, you might gain a deeper understanding of his actions and choices.
When we take a stance, a position and start to panic because we get confused and believe this isn’t safe it tends to put the other person in a defensive position. Then each person is engaged in justification, and further separation and the walls come up.
The energy you put out is what you get in return.
If you bring to the table, energy of demanding things be a certain way, controlling, judgement and criticism, don’t be surprised that it’s reflected back.
We humans mirror one another.
- What’s the energy you want to bring to the table?
- How do you want to feel?
Some ideas might be: feeling, open, curious, free, supportive, cooperative, compassionate, empathetic, strong, confident, proud, encouraging…
What’s the energy, body language, and things you’d say from deeply feeling these words for instance if they were yours?
- What’s it feel like to embody these words and what they mean to you?
- How would you feel if you felt strong, proud, supportive and confident?
- What would you say with conviction when feeling these words to your husband?
- What actions would you take if you framed the story of what he’s asking to do from these words?
Become super duper curious questions like a 5 year old child to understand his position, using deep curious energy. Put aside what it means about you and how his actions are personal. We can get super lost when we focus in on what things mean and how things are a personal dig. This creates a sense of hopelessness and very destructive to any relationship.
What’s the energy that you’d want your husband to have if you wanted to explore a new hobby or interest?
Would you want him to be loving, supportive, kind, compassionate, and open minded?
- What if he was the opposite, mean, selfish, unkind, disagreeable, and closed minded?
- What effect would that have on your goodwill in your relationship?
- The team effort, the friendly, cooperative, helpful, feeling or attitude towards one another?
Remember, no two people are exactly the same, and that's what makes relationships so interesting and complex.
We often get confused when we create rules or ways of doing things as being the “right” way or how we would do it, and believing everyone should follow the rules we arbitrarily create. When we enforce our rules on other people it rarely ends how you want it.
Understanding where your stress is coming from will also offer you come relief. It’s not from your husband, not from the situation or circumstance, it’s from the stories you’re creating in your mind, the illustrations that are being made from the rules, and assumptions of what might happen, how it’s personal and means something about you. That’s it. Just thought. A thought popped into my mind, and your felt it, now you’re grappling with it, and believing it’s real. This will continue to consume your thoughts, take over your body, overshadow your mood and bleed into other areas of your life.
You can choose to let thoughts go that don’t serve you and your relationship, by thanking the unhelpful thoughts and choosing how you want to feel.
Our own mind has the power to ruin our own day, if we allow it.
We humans can get ideas, thoughts or our buddies can encourage us to do something and we can quickly figure out that it wasn't a good idea. If you dig your heels in and try and control the situation, he will certainly go further, longer and deeper into this notion.
Allowing him to see is part of trusting a person in a relationship, if you let him and become super curious afterward again in a innocent, kind, empathetic, compassionate way he will articulate the pros and cons and he will soon discover this isn't the life of a family man. If he knows his loving, kind compassionate wife is at home he will likely want to come home. If his wife is angry, resentful and mad, will he be excited to come home? Not likely
I trust that this information is beneficial. Best of luck to you. I extend my wishes for your success.
I hope this helps. I wish you all the best. Please share this with anyone you believe would benefit from the insights. Post a comment, I read and reply to them all. Thank you in advance!
If you want to send a question, please send to firstname.lastname@example.org please include:
- A coachable question (something that addresses what's in your control, your thoughts, feelings or actions.)
- And context, explain a situation in the past, currently going through, or worries/concerns of the future, giving me some details on your thoughts and feelings about it.