How I Changed My Husband...And You Can Too!

Ugh, my annoying husband. 

We all have that one thing (or a dozen things) that our spouse does that just drives us crazy.  Back in the day, this habit may not have annoyed us so much – we may have actually adored it…but now…

Arghh…

See, my husband is a “tiny bit” of a worrier.  He’s always one step ahead and always trying to prevent disaster.  In an attempt to control the future – he will often ask other people to do the obvious…

For example, when my mother or his sister watch our children he will tell them, “make sure they don’t run in the street” or “make sure they don’t put anything in their mouth.”  He may even tell them, “Don’t put that chair too close to the deck or one of the kids may jump off.”

Just yesterday he told me to make sure to watch my daughter when I took her out for a bike ride.  DUH!

These may seem like harmless statements, but when I hear him say things like this, I immediately think, “He must not trust me (or my mom or his sister) to do the right thing”

He must have forgotten that our home has a 278 day streak of no serious injuries.

It was driving me nutz…so I decided I was going to fix him.  Here’s what I did:

ATTEMPT #1:  In my best therapist voice, I explained to him that worrying about the future, especially imagining bad things happening, is not good for his own happiness and will give him anxiety.  Plus, you don’t want to put those bad thoughts into the universe!

He agreed and has started to change some of his thoughts to more positive thinking…BUT…he would still voice his concerns and double check that nothing bad was going to happen. 

So I thought, hey if he’s not going to do what is best for himself – maybe he’ll do what’s best for others…

ATTEMPT #2:  I let him know that when he makes such requests, the person on the receiving end often feels untrusted and believes he must think they are stupid if he has to make such requests.

Again, he agreed and briefly stopped making such requests.  Although the thoughts were still going on in his head until they would burst out of his mouth.  Failed attempt #2.

After 2 failed attempts at changing my husband and a habit that he has had for his entire life – I changed my path. 

I realized that it wasn’t what he was saying that was annoying and aggravating – it was the meaning that I gave to his words.

He asked me to take care of our kids, which is exactly what any loving father or mother would ask.  The meaning I put to this was – he doesn’t think I take care of our kids and he must think I’m a bad mother.

This was my own insecurity.  Am I a bad mother – HELL NO!  I’m an imperfectly perfect mother and I know he believes the same.

Wow – what a weight lifted.  I removed the meaning I PUT on his statement and I just listened to his words without an assumption. 

So, why was his habit still annoying me?  Why did I want his habit to change? 

Aha – because I don’t want him to be stressed and anxious about things that he can’t control.

Why did I want this for him?  Because that’s what I want for myself.  Because this is one of my own core values – I live in peace and calm in my head, but that’s just not him. 

But it was unfair to put this expectation on him.  This is not a change that he is ready to make (believe me when it is I will warmly accept it! ) 

It makes my husband feel better when he can voice his concerns and ask for preventive actions from others.  Why would I remove this comfort from him – or get annoyed when he asks for the comfort? 

I love and appreciate my husband for who he is.  I can’t change him – I can only be aware of my own beliefs, meanings and thoughts behind my reactions. 

Now, when he asks me to do something obvious such as, “Don’t back up over the neighbors mailbox” – I can laugh it off, say ‘OK, I won’t’ and move on because I know it makes him feel better and I no longer attached a NEGATIVE MEANING to his words. 

Try it and let me know how your perspective changes!

Valerie KolickComment