Rarely in my life have I ever been at a loss for words.
This has been true since I was a little girl. At times, my smart-aleck remarks got me into trouble but also enabled me to articulate my thoughts and feelings.
As I have seen this part of myself evolve, I’ve experienced the upsides and downsides. The downside have been especially highlighted in my marriage.
It’s safe to say, particularly in marriage, I have never been at a loss for words. Just ask my dear husband, that man is a saint.
But that’s not so much the problem. It’s not a problem and it’s not wrong that I have opinions and things to say.
The problem is the lack of self-control I have at times when choosing when to speak, what to say or when to just be silent.
It is truly one of the most torturous feelings to refrain from speaking sometimes.
When I bite my tongue in a valiant effort to be more controlled and selective with my words, my bones itch. My skin crawls and I think I will lose my ever-loving mind if I can’t say what I so badly want to say.
But in the moments when I plow ahead with the words that I feel impossible to contain, I end up controlling my husband and dominating our marriage. It ends up leaving him leveled by criticism and only with words that are not productive, edifying or kind.
So let’s talk about that dirty S word for a second.
Submission, as I remember, was always talked about in relation to the woman’s role within the marriage to her husbands. More specifically, how a woman should submit to her husband by having a gentle and quiet spirit. To me, this basically translates into being seen and not heard.
Whenever discussed in small groups, I always walked away thinking that submission was going to be problematic for me. Being seen and not heard does not jive with my personality. But in reality, I had it mixed up, I had it all wrong for so many years.
Submission doesn’t mean never speaking up in your marriage. It doesn’t mean being seen and not heard. I’d go as far to say that it doesn’t even mean being quiet.
But rather it means not controlling situations with words and emotions.
The truth is that women control so much in marriage and in families.
Women are not weak.
Women are not powerless.
It’s quite the opposite in fact.
We are strong and incredibly powerful, almost frighteningly so.
And the arena in which we have the most power, I have come to find, is in our words.
I’m opinionated, passionate and vocal. I’m guessing some of you are too.
So what if submission means not controlling my husband with my words and criticism?
What if submission is really having the self-control? Knowing when to speak up and to know when to remain silent.
What I’m finding is that submission has less and less to do with being quiet. Rather it is keeping my passion and propensity to over verbalize from being controlling and domineering.
My emotions, my words, and my attitude have a tremendous influence in our marriage.
When I don’t criticize, when I don’t control, and when I don’t dominate, that’s submission.
Self-control is submission. Submission is not him having more control over me, it’s me having control over myself and my words.
I tend to think about controlling people and those who dominate situations as loud, obnoxious, forceful, and abrasive.
But as a wife, my controlling and dominating presence can be subtle and passive. How dangerous and how damaging.
Being critical of my husband is an effective strategy for getting what I want because it is crushing. It’s so painful that he will do almost anything to escape my harsh words and criticism.
Nagging him to death over something that is my opinion or preference leaves him feeling like he can never do enough.
Manipulation comes like second nature. It’s an effective strategy to get what I want or need because it’s much easier than being vulnerable or perceived as needy.
But criticism is the easiest and quickest way to get my husband to shut down emotionally and perform like a robot just to keep me happy.
Nagging creates tension so thick it can be cut with a knife.
And the damage I do by manipulating erodes trust and shakes the foundation on which my marriage is built.
What became evident is that my strong opinions were controlling my relationship and dominating my marriage in damaging ways.