It happens without me realizing it, I become a control freak. Does this happen you? It starts because I think I know how something should be done like I know how the laundry should be sorted. I know the best way but I want someone else to do the laundry and this is when I become a control freak. I see my helpful husband putting all kinds of items in the washing machine together and I flip out.
The dilemma is I want my husband to help me around the house, but I want him to do it my way so I start watching over him. This behavior causes stress for both of us. My stress is worry about what will happen to the clothes, what color will they be when they come out, will they even fit anymore. My husband's stress is he feels micromanaged and unappreciated.
When a person, me in this case, starts pushing a person to behave in a certain way the other person, my husband, will automatically push back. Unless something changes this pushing will continue, it will cause stress and damage the relationship. In chess, it is called a stalemate. There is a solution to this and one that makes me uncomfortable, it is letting go of control.
In her article, "You Can't Change Someone Else. But You Can Do This", Nancy Colier states;
"When we cannot change the cause of our suffering, many of us continue to blame the other person or situation. This may provide us with some relief, at least for a while. But what happens when trying to change the other has failed and continuing to blame is not actually making us feel better either?"
When I reached the stalemate with my husband and realized I couldn't make him change I realized I had a choice, take over and do the laundry again or let him do it his way. I decided on the second option because I really do need his help.
The funny thing was when I stopped pushing him to do it my way he actually relaxed, he asked for my input on what gets washed with what. He was no longer focused on resisting me and was now focused on doing a good job.
Next time you get stuck a Stalemate stop and take a breath. Check in with yourself and ask?
- What do I really want? I wanted help with the laundry.
- In what way am I causing a barrier? I was creating a barrier by being critical and controlling?
- What is the worst thing that can happen if I let go and stop pushing? The worst thing for me would be damaged clothes.
- What will happen if I keep pushing? My marriage could have been in jeopardy?
- What matters most? My marriage.
I am not saying it is easy letting go but it turned out to be exactly what I needed to do. This situation is by no means unique, many of my clients inadvertently get stuck in similar situations for a variety of reasons. If you want support with letting go so you can reduce your stress and increase your personal wellbeing schedule a 45 Minute Strategy Session with me.