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Controlling and Challenging Changes

Posted Oct 28 2010 8:00am
I love my husband very much, but sometimes being his wife is very difficult. As I have gotten more emotionally healthy, it seems that there are times of great friction in our marriage. I think it is because I am changing and the changes are not always comfortable to him. My changes mean he might have to change to keep up with me. There have been many times through this healing process that I have wondered if our marriage would disintegrate  or if we would come out of this with a healthier marriage.

When my depression was out of control and I could barely function, he had to be controlling. He had to encourage me to eat, take care of our child, get me to take care of myself and so on. To some degree, he still exhibits that controlling behavior. To a great degree, I really resent it.  I am not sure why he is still doing it, but I have a few theories.

It is possible that it has become such a habit for him that he is not totally aware of when he is doing it. Another thought I had, is that he is afraid that if he loses that control over me then I might have a break down, or that I might not need him anymore. The pay off is better for him if I remain – to some degree – emotionally unhealthy, because then he will not have to work to catch up to me. I think it is possible that all of those theories together might be accurate.

As much as I may resent his controlling behavior, I am still making choices to put up with it. There was a pay off for me in accepting it. My life was easier, I had few responsibilities, and I was not often put in the position of having to make difficult decisions very often. However, I feel as if I have finally become a “grown up” and I no longer want someone else controlling every aspect of my life. It has become time for me to act like the “grown up” I am and take back control of my life.
This week, I have made some decisions that not only are challenging to me, but they also directly challenging my husband and his need to control me. It has caused some extra stress and friction in our marriage. My hope is that once we get through this period of friction that he will see that I am capable of making decisions for myself and let go of some of his attempt at control.

The big choice I have made this week, is to make the 4 hour drive to Augusta – to see my parents – without him. This is huge, because before depression treatment, I had become agoraphobic. Unless, I was going to see my lung doctor, I would not leave a certain square mile radius around my home. I considered it my safety zone. Since my suicide attempt, I have not driven much at all. Mostly in areas in my small town. Some of that was due to medications side affects, as well as how my physical health made me feel. It was probably not safe for me to be on the roads with all of that going on. Now that my physical health is improving, and I am on less psychiatric medication, I feel comfortable driving further distances.

I have several reasons for wanting to make this drive. The first and main one is to prove to myself that I can do it. I see it as a huge step towards independence for myself. Another reason I want to do this is so that I have transportation when I get to Augusta, which means a little more freedom for me. It also saves my mom from having to drive all the way up here to get me, and then have to turn around and drive back to her house. My mother is having some minor surgery on November 3rd and I really want to be there to help her in any way she might need. She has spent a lot of this last year taking care of me, and doing things for me, and I see this as an opportunity to do the same for her. The final reason I want to drive there is to make things easier for my dad. The truck I drive belongs to him. He mentioned to me the last time he was up here, that in a couple of weeks he would trade vehicles with me – letting me drive his car – so that he could get some work done on the truck. My dad is a very busy man, there are times when it is difficult for him to make the 4 hour drive up here. If I drive the truck down to where he lives, then it saves him from having to come all the way up here just to pick it up. I am grateful that he allows me the use of his vehicle and if it is in my power to make his life a little easier by taking the truck to him, then that is what I need – should – do.

At the beginning of the week, I told my husband about my plans to drive to Augusta. I also told him that either I or my daughter would call him every hour so that he would know that we were safe. He did not say much at the time. I assumed that since he did not say much that he was okay with it. I was wrong. The evening after I told him, he let me know what a bad idea he thought it was. He even went so far as to say, that I “would make everyone worry”.  I responded with “I cannot make anyone worry, that is their choice.” Logically, I know that his statement was nothing more than a tactic to try and make me feel guilty and not make the drive. Personally, I also saw it as a bullying tactic. He knows I care about my family – parents included – and that by telling me it would make everyone worry was his way to strong arm me into doing what he wanted. I told him he was being a bully and that I would not discuss the subject with him until he could talk to me appropriately. There was a stony silence the rest of the night.

It took a couple of days, but he has finally begun to talk about the drive in the appropriate way. He is no longer trying to bully me into not doing it. He has been asking the proper questions about how long I will stay and etc. He has even discussed with me how long I think I will take me to make the drive. His attitude change has taken some stress out of the situation. I am hoping and praying that it lasts.

In no way do I think that his change of attitude about this one thing, means that he has changed his controlling behavior completely. However, I think by making a stand about something that was important to me has given him a wake up call that I am no longer willing to be lead around. I love him dearly, he has stuck by me when a lot of husband would not, but for my own mental health I need for him to let go of the controlling behavior. At this time, his willingness or unwillingness has become something of a deal break or maker for our marriage.

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