“I want to have 4-6 kids. I want to be a stay-at-home-mom. I want to be married by the time I’m 30. And, I want to have my first child by the time I’m 33,” these were the talking points I was able to drop into the dinner conversation of me and Morris’s second date at Uno’s Pizzeria.
In my mind, I was just laying out the future and giving him the opportunity to determine if he was in or out. But my running buddy, Rachel, told me the next day that I needed to chill. Well, those weren’t her exact words. It was something to the effect of “just get to know him and see where it goes.”
Simone Boyd, Reporting for Battle
Looking back, my attempt to lay out my life plan was really a plan to protect myself from getting hurt or wasting time. My biological clock was ticking and I didn’t have time to waste! I needed to be in control of where our relationship was going and how quickly it progressed.
My last boyfriend had dumped me three years earlier. And this time, by golly, I was going to protect myself! Thank goodness, Morris had the patience to see past my craziness and the battlefield armor.
I Don’t Want to Be Someone That….
Fast forward a year and half, Morris and I were sitting in pre-marital counseling. Our counselor asked us to do an exercise and ask ourselves what are things that 1) we wanted to take from our parent’s marriage and 2) things that we didn’t want to take from our parent’s marriage.
There were many things that I wanted to take from my parents 35-year marriage. But, as I reflected on the second question …I realized that the need for control had negative consequences on my parent’s marriage. And, I desperately did not want to repeat that in my own marriage. Specifically, I didn’t want to be someone that:
- Always had to WIN
- Failed to see the value in the opinion of others
- Ruled my household with an iron fist
At our next counseling session, I explained my fears to Morris. Because I was scared that I’d end up like Mommy Dearest and my children and hubby would hate me. We talked about it. He explained that he was strong enough to keep my craziness in check and that he still wanted to marry me. Which was a relief!
The Control Test
But, I also prayed about it and asked the Lord to help me overcome my control issues. And He reminded me of one of the deepest control issues of my heart: money. You see, my family didn’t have a lot of money growing up. Well, we started out with a lot. And then we lost it all when my dad went into the ministry full-time.
Although, we never went hungry. We ate lots of rice and beans and beans and rice. And we occasionally had our lights turned off, when the money didn’t quite make it in by bill time. To me, having money meant security. And not having money meant insecurity.
As a result, I worked at least 3 jobs all through college because I wanted to feel safe. But, when Morris and I got married the Lord laid it on my heart to turn over control of our money to him.
I balance my check book every couple of days.
I know how much money is in my account down to the last red cent.
I NEED to know how much money we have!
Nope, I had to turn over everything to Morris. Now, mind you, Morris never asked me to do this. It was something I needed to do to relinquish control. And for me, giving Morris control of the money was a step of faith.
We have budget meetings once a month and Morris gives me updates every couple of weeks to let me know how we’re doing. But, I haven’t checked our bank balance or balanced our check book in almost three years.
Thanks to the Financial Peace Ministry at our church and learning to work together as a team. We’ve eliminated all of our debt, saved a 6-month emergency fund, and socked away enough money for a down payment on a home.
But, more importantly, I trust Morris. And I no longer try to correct his every move. “No, Sweetie Pie, don’t make the bed that way. Do it this way.” Or “Seriously, are you going to wear that (insert side eye)?” The need to control rears its head in the smallest ways doesn’t it?
Yes, I’m learning to trust in the little and the big things. But none of that would have happened if I was still trying to run everything.
What Does This Have to Do With Relationships?
In his book, Walking with the Wind, John Lewis explains his concept of trust:
I always begin with an attitude of trust. I assume that your word is good until you show me otherwise. I refuse to be suspicious until I have a reason to be. Yes, this sets me up to be burned now and then, but the alternative is to be constantly skeptical and distanced. I’d rather be occasionally burned but able to connect than always safe but always at a distance.
And I think that’s a good way to approach relationships. If you, like me, wear your body armor on dates…it could be preventing you from making a meaningful connection.
If you are dating, make an effort to demonstrate how much you trust your fella. And reflect on how the need to protect yourself could be off putting to potential suitors.