A couple of weeks ago, one of my clients asked me if it was okay for her to say no to riding on the back of her husband’s motorcycle.
The last time she’d taken a ride, her husband had punched a fellow driver. Punched him. With her on the back. While both men were still driving. (She’s French and the roads where she lives are apparently quite narrow.)
She was thinking that being loving and accepting called for her to forgive his outburst, roll with his choices and keep riding along even while she feared for her life.
It’s tempting to look at that story and think, “Uh uh. No way. That’s a hard pass. Obviously.”
But take a minute, right now, and check in with your version of her same story.
Is there a “fist fight on a motorcycle” situation in your marriage?
Maybe you’ve been staying up til 2am or later every night to get caught up on those projects you can’t do when everyone is home for quarantine.
Maybe you’ve been calming the kids in a back bedroom when your husband is in a mood.
Maybe you’re the one to clean up after the camping trip while everyone else heads in to take a nap.
Maybe you watch a movie you’d rather not see every Sunday afternoon just so your family can spend time together.
A lot of times it’s possible to put your husband’s needs and wants above your own from a place of love. You’ll know that’s what’s happening if you feel a deep sense of peace in your core. You’ll feel love as you serve and help.
Just pay attention to when serving your husband seems to mean abandoning yourself. That feeling is a lot less warm and a lot more icky.
You’ll know the difference. I’m sure.
And you don’t have to squash that icky feeling. You can pay attention to it and use it as information to guide you to a different choice that feels like love to you.
Like saying no to a ride when it’s likely your husband might actually might crash his motorcycle.
Or taking a nap when you’re exhausted.
Or choosing the movie and letting him adjust to you this time.
It’s common practice for wives to live from sacrifice. We, as a society, tend to celebrate acts of selflessness – especially in women. And there is a place for all of that. In many ways, it makes marriages go round.
But things get clunky when a wheel is weighted more heavily to one side – or one spouse.
So remember, it’s possible to be compassionate toward your husband AND tell him no. You don’t have to be available to behaviors – his or yours – that leave you feeling neglected, lonely or afraid. You deserve better and it’s 100% possible to get it.