I’ll be the first to admit I like to feel powerful. My ego is stroked when I feel like I am in control of my circumstances. When my colleagues demonstrate their trust in me as a leader, my ego is stroked. When my wife tells me new things she loves about me, my ego is stroked. It’s when my actions have done something to damage or break my connection with my wife that my ego is humbled and I feel less powerful. It’s in those moments I feel the need to try and reclaim my power.
Marriage is one of God’s greatest gifts to His creation. When I finally married my wife, DeAnna, it was everything I expected. It was also everything I didn’t expect. I slowly learned (yes, slowly), marriage is about growing up. Learning to put someone else’s needs above my own. When DeAnna and I would have a little tiff, I would inwardly retreat. When I did something to break her trust and she called me on it, I would feel ashamed and powerless. In futile attempts to get my power back, I would resort to all kinds of bad behavior. I want to share three of them with you, and caution you, not to allow these things to have a place in your marriage (or any relationship for that matter).
1. Withholding Your Affection. Just like the little boy who doesn’t get his way and runs to his “safe” place and withholds his affection to prove a point, I would do the same thing to my wife. “If you don’t give me what I want, then I am not going to give you want you want.” That’s what I subconsciously would do almost every time I felt powerless. This was my attempt to elevate myself back to a position of power in my relationship with my wife.
Here’s the problem with that behavior — it doesn’t work! Sure it can have great manipulative success to get your spouse to relent or just drop it, but you never get that intangible feeling of connectedness back until you address the problem. You may feel “Powerful” again, but at what cost? That feeling of connectedness you feel with your spouse is worth humbling yourself for. The longer you stay disconnected with your spouse for the sake of your ego, the less powerful and less mature your spouse actually sees you.
2. The Silent Treatment. LOL. I am totally laughing at myself right now. The silent treatment doesn’t hurt anyone but yourself. “Oh this will show her!” I have thought that way too many times than I care to admit, and every time, the thing I wanted to do most, was run to my wife and talk to her. It kills me when I can’t talk to DeAnna. She’s my best friend. I tell her everything. There is literally nothing she doesn’t know about me. In those times I feel powerless with DeAnna (of course because of something I did or didn’t do), I used the silent treatment to get back at her and punish her. And it never fails, the entire time I am giving her the silent treatment, I am the one who’s miserable.
I was never one of those people who could just jump right into the pool during the summer. I had to dip a toe in (pull it out quickly) “oh that’s cold”, then slowly work a foot into the water. After about 20 minutes I was in up to my knees and just about the time when everyone is almost done playing in the pool, I was ready to get in. Instead of going to DeAnna, talking to her, asking her to forgive me, admitting my wrong, I would prolong my disconnect with self inflicted silent treatment. Just like the kid who didn’t jump right in the pool I would wait until it was almost too late to make things right.
3. Not Telling Your Spouse What You Need. It’s not DeAnna’s job to figure out what I need. That responsibility rests solely on me. Conversely, DeAnna should tell me what she needs. Your spouse is not a mind reader, and neither are you. Giving your spouse the gift of what is going on in your heart is one of the quickest ways to build intimacy in your relationship. Unfortunately failing to communicating what you need to your spouse is a sure way to diminish the intimacy in your relationship.
It’s vital you learn how to communicate what is going on in your heart. This comes easy to some people. I am lucky to be one of those people. Others have to work at it. Here’s the good news: the more you work at it, the better you become at it. This is a gift you should to give your spouse on a daily basis. You hold the key to your own heart. The person in your life who should have an all access pass should know what you need because you are consistently sharing your heart.
I thought all three of these tactics were acts of power and would help me get my own power back. In actuality, all three of these behaviors were demonstrations of me giving my power away. In order to be powerful, you need to give affection, instead of withholding it. In order to be powerful, you need to communicate, instead of giving the silent treatment. In order to be powerful, you need to tell your spouse what you need. Being a powerful person means I take responsibility. I don’t give my power away. I use my power to heal, repair and love.
Be the powerful person you are, and stop giving your power away.