An exclusive article from Focus on the Family Malaysia 😉
While I slept, my husband, John, tiptoed to the refrigerator, quietly removed a two-liter of Pepsi and unscrewed the lid. He heard the ssss of the carbonation and thought of the pleasure that would soon be his. Suddenly—WHUMP, WHUMP, WHUMP—footsteps thundered down the hall. The refrigerator door hung open as he ran from the kitchen into the dining room. And that’s where I found him: hiding in a corner and chugging as much Pepsi as he could before I stopped him. So I may have been a bit controlling, but I had good reasons for forcing my husband to give up soda. After all, it’s loaded with caffeine and calories. John had a problem and needed help. What self-respecting woman doesn’t try to improve her husband? Couldn’t all men use a little help to watch less TV, eat less junk food, exercise more, go to bed earlier, be more tactful, attend important functions and wear trendier clothes? As a devoted wife, I just wanted to help my husband become the man he was meant to be. What’s wrong with that? It’s destructive—that’s what.
Pix: Control freaks have a narcissistic need to impose their will on others out of fear or insecurity
The making of a better man
At first, he humoured me and went along with my “improvements.” But John is a confirmed soft drink addict, and I might as well have signed his death warrant. Not surprisingly, he soon began his late-night soda binges—and probably drank more than he did before my ban. John resisted my efforts to improve him in other areas, too. He went to bed late and failed to show up on time to functions I thought were important. Every time he went against my wishes, I obsessed about how great our marriage could be if John would just . . . (fill in the blank). The harder I tried to change John, the more we fought and the farther apart we grew. Ironically, my controlling behaviour caused far greater harm to our marriage than John’s soda drinking did to his health. The funny thing was, I hated being controlled myself. But for some reason, when I saw the chance to tell John what to do, I seized the opportunity like he seizes a two-liter of Pepsi. So if I hated being controlled, why did I feel so compelled to control John? I came to realise this soon thereafter.
The making of a better wife
One day, after a series of conflict-ridden months, I called my friend in tears and confessed for the first time that I was a control freak. That day I began peeling back the layers of my behaviour to see why I needed to stop trying to control my husband. The core issue was my lack of faith in my husband. I took matters into my own hands. I realized that I focused so much on John’s need for change that I missed my own. I also realized my own lack of self-control. It was much easier to control someone else than to control myself. I needed self-control—not husband-control. A strange thing happened after I started down the road to control-freak recovery. Not only did I become more laid-back and happy, but John began to change, too. I stopped complaining about his going to bed too late, and once in a while, I find him in bed before me. I stopped nagging him to quit drinking soda, and he still drinks it, but not quite as much—and late-night soda binges are no longer necessary. So I am learning that I need to change and that I am not responsible to change John. It’s funny how, when I shut my mouth, John can hear the small voice within himself so much better.
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