You can’t fail to notice the glut of window displays in anticipation for Valentine’s Day. The birthday cards seem to reduce to a couple of rows which always irks me as it’s my birthday on Valentine’s Day but nevertheless I always give into the marketing and give my husband a little something on Valentine’s. This year I invite you to give the same gift as me. The gift you must give to your partner isn’t something you can buy or even make, let me give you some clues and tell you about my husband. My husband is a headteacher of a primary school which as you can imagine is a pretty all-consuming job. He gets up at 5.30am, walks our dogs, checks his emails (…I think, obviously I am still sound asleep), he leaves for work at 7am and rarely gets home before 6.30pm. Often he has evening meetings which means he doesn’t get home until nearer 10pm. However, on top of all of this, he helps run my son’s football team so that’s training once a week and a match every Sunday, he takes my son to cross-country training twice a week and races at the weekend, he goes running himself, he plays golf, he does the pub quiz when he can with his mates and on two Saturdays in the last month he has cooked a curry…. from scratch not a jar! So all in all he’s a pretty competent bloke who manages to juggle a hell of a lot. He doesn’t let people down. He does what he says he is going to do and does it really well.
So……why is it that I used to write on his hand if he had to pick up our son from school club – yes it was even me that wrote it there, and then I would text him to remind him nearer the time? Why is it that I tell him when to change gear, turn off the wipers, switch lanes, turn off his indicator and press imaginary pedals while he drives? Why is it that I now won’t even let him within a 2m radius of the dishwasher as I break in to a cold sweat as he fills it, God forbid, in a different configuration to me – everyone knows bowls don’t really fit in the top tray! Like many working women I talk with, I have fallen into the trap of thinking that if I control everything in my life then it will make me feel that I am good at what I do and everyone else will think so too. This need to feel competent and in control then extends to convincing ourselves that we have developed a way of doing things that must be adhered to at all cost and no-one is allowed to deviate from the norm. How many of you leave a packed notebook with relatives when they look after your children so their routine is followed to the minute detail? This need to be in control is ultimately based on fear of what might happen. A fear that if a part of your carefully organised system does not go according to plan then the whole system will collapse and you will feel out of control, incompetent and a failure.
There are two things to consider here. Firstly, don’t forget that fear, however real it feels is imagined and that you have amazing resources to cope with whatever is thrown at you and survive. Secondly, stop and think how it feels for your partner. If you take over, criticise and control them, then not only do they feel annoyed but more importantly they don’t feel trusted. For most of us feeling trusted is a fundamental expression of love. I recently had the privilege of listening to the fabulous Alex Santora-Emmerson, The Love Life Coach, give a talk at ‘Damsels in Success’. She described that in her experience of working with couples, one of the top reasons why relationships fail is because women try to control their partners. She recommends that women embrace their vulnerability and let go of control. Remember, that giving up control and asking for help and is not the same as showing weakness.
So the best gift to give your partner this Valentine’s Day is to STOP controlling him and give him the gift of trust. Now going cold turkey on this could be a challenge so to my darling husband – I shall be trying my best, but please forgive me if I inadvertently hit the imaginary pedals when you drive and cut me a little slack – please don’t put the bowls in the top tray of the dishwasher!
I’d love to hear what you will be doing to give up on control and give back some trust so leave me a comment below.
P.S. Valentine’s Day is also my birthday so here’s a gift from me to you – Take my heart video - soo cute!