Relationships Don’t Need a Four-Star General


I’d like to think of myself as an easy-to-be-around Type A personality, but at home the first part can be quickly overshadowed by the second. I married a wonderful, laid-back man who tends to think most of my plans and ideas are awesome (or at least all right), so we usually get along pretty well. Unfortunately, it’s easy for me to forget that a big reason our relationship goes so smoothly much of the time is because I’m getting my way. Really, who wouldn’t enjoy that?

This isn’t a problem when we’re both happy and content, but it quickly becomes an issue when I stop offering suggestions and start giving orders. As the plans and ideas person, it’s so easy to start thinking that it’s my job to assign tasks and see them executed as well.

After I had a baby late last year, there was so much to do in the house and my husband was thoughtfully doing most of the work so I could rest and recuperate. As weeks passed, I slipped into a habit of asking him to do things … which morphed into a pattern of telling him to do things.

“You know,” he said, as we made our way home from a dinner with some friends one evening, “you don’t say ‘please’ very much.”

Only my husband could bring up a point of contention — my rudeness — with such a gentle, thoughtful observation.

The thing is, our marriage doesn’t need a four-star general giving orders. No marriage does. Maybe we could get a lot of things done if we operated this way, but our relationship and respect for each other would crumble.

Rather, our marriage has two partners with complementary strengths who use those strengths to serve each other. And, because we love each other, we try to submit to each other even in our areas of strength.

For me, this means I have to work hard to nurture my husband’s plans and ideas and look for ways to execute them. I also have to remember to do my share of the practical, day-to-day work and not just focus on big-picture stuff.

These days, I’m really trying hard to make my words and actions reflect the partnership I want our marriage to be. The results are sometimes mixed. Only last night, my husband chuckled at me as I stumbled over my words.

“You should go talk to that guy,” I said, eager for him to connect with another full-time dad in our area who happened to  be sitting at a nearby table. “I mean … I encourage you to talk to him, if you think it’s a good idea. I’m happy to help, if you like.”

As we were reminded in a recent marriage seminar, you can’t change who you are. I will always be the ambitious, driven one with the big ideas. He will always be more even-keeled and practical. But more importantly than all of that, we both are partners who love each other and want the best for our marriage. And that’s the biggest thing we have in common.


Flickr/Jay Phagan

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Relationships Don’t Need a Four-Star General

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