About a year and a half ago I said to my husband something like “I was so naïve. Like really naïve to believe so fully that you’d follow through on all of the promises you made.” Hubs responded: “I was naïve to think I could make and follow through with all of them.”
A few years ago a dear friend told me to go check out a podcast episode called The Manual.
It blew my mind. It was out there. Brooke (the podcast host) talked about loving her husband for simply existing, like a puppy.
A manual is an instruction book we’ve written for someone else where we’ve tied emotion to their follow through (or lack there-of).
We have these rules, and we feel justified having them, we haven’t told people about our rules for them, and when they don’t follow through we get upset. But if they just followed these ‘reasonable’ expectations we’d be happy, right?
Here’s the deal: Adult people have the agency to behave however they want—ourselves included. We don’t have control over other people and when we can’t control them we get mad. Can you see the disconnect? Why in the world would I want to attach my emotion to someone else’s actions who I have zero control over? By doing this I would be handing my power over to someone else.
The liberating thing about understanding that our thoughts create our emotions is that our thoughts are optional!
A personal example may be best one to share to drive this point home:
After listening to this podcast for the first time I thought “sure, I can love everybody for simply existing but it’s different in a marriage. In a marriage there are expectations and commitments and it is a partnership. We are a team, moving toward the same goal. We work together to reach those goals.”
I was happy about how easy it was to drop expectations of other people.
But it was different in a marriage, right? I held onto some expectations of my spouse and felt justified. Last spring, I differentiated between expectations and accountability.
“Ok maybe I can drop these expectations of my husband but still hold him accountable for his duties and for the ‘promises he made’ way back when.” Ultimately, I was doing the same thing.
I had expectations of my spouse. I had a manual for my husband. My expectations went right along with my interpretation of “The Proclamation of the Family,” what friends were telling me, and with what he promised me!!!
We have circumstances in life. They are neutral. In my case I chose to think that ‘husband not working’ was the worst-case scenario. In someone else’s it could be the complete opposite, right?
I had an optional thought about it that led me to feel powerless. This feeling drove me to withdraw/isolate from husband and the result was that I wasn’t showing up 100% for myself or my family, because I was consumed with someone else’s behavior I had zero control over!
Now to some of you this may seem a little frustrating and you may think “Well duh, look at what his actions have done to you! If he’d do ________ then you would be better off!” Would I truly have been better off by handing power over my emotions to someone else? This set me up for discouragement and disappointment—100%. I got those results multiple times.
I don’t want my emotions to be dictated by external things anyway, right? I’d rather always have them be dictated by how I’m doing/thinking on the inside. That is where true power lies. Think Victor Hugo.
You may think “Yeah but his role is to provide, so he needs to follow through.” I remember asking another coach a similar question earlier this year. She told me that her husband provides for her family by being married to her. She also told me that when she reads The Proclamation to the Family, she is thinking about how it applies to her, and not anybody else. Clean. Simple. This sounded a little out there for me, but I was curious enough to continue entertaining these thoughts.
“Ok ok, so even if you interpret The Proclamation of the Family for yourself and not him, he made you a promise—he promised to take care of you and provide financially!!!” He did promise that.
About a year and a half ago I had a conversation with my husband. I wasn’t vindictive, just bummed out. I said something like “I was so naïve. Like really naïve to believe so fully that you’d follow through on all of the promises you made.” Hubs responded: “I was naïve to think I could make and follow through with all of them.” When he said that, I instantly had thoughts that led me to feel compassion towards him. We were SO YOUNG when we got married. We were babies. His promises weren’t completely realistic or sustainable for him—and I choose to think and believe that that’s ok. He had the purest of intentions, he was crazy productive in every part of his life, he got burnt out. He had unaddressed childhood trauma that his body finally forced him to deal with which limited his ability to work. New circumstances arose in our lives, and I get to choose how to think and consequently feel about all of them.
“Yes, but some of those promises he made to you were in the temple!” He did make promises in the temple—to God. That is between him and God. God put us on this earth and gave us opportunities to make covenants knowing very well that we would break them. It’s part of our existence/experience. I don’t want to expend unnecessary energy anymore about what he said he would/wouldn’t do. That’s not my role in this life. I know where his heart was. I know where his heart is. My husband is a freaking rockstar. The best dad for my children. The biggest fan of me. The biggest supporter of all my goals.
“So you’re fine being in a marriage where someone walks all over you and you have no expectations and do nothing about it?” Uh….this is not the case at all. Healthy boundaries can be set up in any relationship. Boundaries will be addressed in another post.
He loves me. I love him. Clean. Simple. Beautiful. This is the love that I want. This is the love I’m choosing to have.
If I can so readily love other humans for simply existing, why would I hold my spouse, another human, to a different standard than all the other humans? When I think about the love I wanted to be on the receiving end of it would be for “simply existing” as a human. The love my husband has for me is for simply existing. I decided to do the same.
I have gotten to a place where I can say I love my husband for existing—and it is the cleanest, simplest, most incandescent love I’ve experienced with another human.