It started with a touch of my hand. Innocent enough yet filled with desire. The sound of my heart rushed in my ears. I couldn’t believe I was making a decision that would change my life forever.
“Slow down!” Stretching my left hand towards the gearshift, I touched the smooth leather of the Subaru. The nagging doubt that I had overstepped my boundaries was tucked somewhere between my overwhelming desire to take control and my desire to be a trusting partner. Control won.
“Are you trying to get us killed?” My fiancée of two months swerved his compact into a parking space at the Wyalusing Rocks overlook. “What on earth were you doing?” His face contorted into a man I hadn’t yet met.
“You were going too fast and I wanted you to slow down.” I reached for my door handle, refusing to be treated this way. He immediately followed. I knew he would.
“Listen, Mark,” I stepped on a boulder to peer directly into my love’s baby blue eyes. “I’m not who you think I am!” I figured I might as well spill it all while I had his total attention. “I get stressed sometimes if events aren’t going as I think they should be. I’m not quiet and soft spoken all the time!” There. My secret was out. I craved control.
Twenty nine married years later, the battle to curb my urge to control still struggles within me. Sometimes my reasonable side wins. I suppress the urge to claim the TV remote control before my husband searches for it. I bite my lip when he flips through fifty channels during the thirty some Law and Order commercials. I rip my fingernails as he tosses my recently fluffed pillows onto the floor. But I remain stoic. I allow him a moment to enjoy a sense of ownership.
I even learned to control my urge to select my daughter’s wardrobe. If she purchases a skirt that I deem somewhat less than desirable, I focus on her hair instead and remind her that her ends could use a good trim. I even offer to call my favorite beautician for her to try.
I admit I control our diets when my husband gains too much weight. I do choose the shampoo we use or the toothpaste. After all, I do the shopping. Occasionally I control when and where I move the furniture when I decide we need a new look in the living room. If my husband hasn’t picked a shirt or tie for church on Sunday by the time he gets out of the shower, I help with the selection. I have to admit, I do get a thrill from carrying the checkbook and determining how the entries will be made…in pencil or in ink. Life is good.
Sometimes I get so focused on my need to control every detail of my life that I forget who really is in control. God often needs to remind me by allowing circumstances to occur that quickly bring me to my knees and to Him.
I recall the day the clutch went out of my car and I was put in charge of taking it to a garage of greasy men. It was a control moment I would have gladly opted out of.
I also remember when the tire went flat on my car in a dark parking lot of a mall three days before Christmas. A frantic call to my husband resulted in two words. “Call AAA.” I have obviously convinced him of my ability to control any situation.
The next time I feel the growing urge to comment on my husband’s driving or the high calorie meal he selects from the menu, I plan to offer a quick prayer to God to help my mouth with some much needed control... after I tell the waitress to hold the rolls.
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