I’m going to start a new series of posts based upon the mistakes I’ve made in my marriage. Since my husband and I just celebrated our 23rd anniversary, I think I’ve earned the dubious distinction of knowing what not to do in marriage, and I’d like to share my lack of wisdom with you!
Mistake Number 1: Never Ask for Help
I know it sounds strange, but when I was a child, I didn’t know that you could actually ask someone to help you. I’m sure I’m not the only one who’s had this disability. It all goes back to a tried and true system that my mother taught me and my sister—and my mother probably learned it from her mother—and her mother probably learned it from her mother, and so on.
“The System” was a strategy that would get you what you wanted without uttering a word. Here’s how my mother’s system worked: My mother would be quietly working away in the kitchen, but if she remained alone in the kitchen for long, things would get a little noisier.
If no one “came a runnin’” then things would get a little louder. At some point, my mom might even begin to stomp, followed by motherly fuming. And if all else failed, cabinet doors were slammed so hard the neighbors thought the New Madrid fault was at it again. Naturally, if my sister and I didn’t get our mom’s point by then, we were either deaf, in a coma, or about to be put in one!
Ironically, my sister and I never brought to our mother’s attention the fact that she wasn’t verbally asking us to help. We just knew that this was “The System,” and in order to be true to “The System,” all she had to do was just expect us to help her. Are you familiar with “The System?”
When my husband and I were married I decided to put this time-tested system into practice. However, this time something new happened—someone questioned it! Can you imagine the nerve?! Not only did my husband question my mother’s strategy, he actually had the audacity to not like it!
Bottom Line: I mistakenly believed that my husband should just magically know when he needed to help me. I expected him to start doing something, anything, to help me when he heard my loud banging and dramatic sighing! It wasn’t until a marriage counselor told me that my husband had a right to know what I expected of him. And that I actually needed to say the words. That’s when I realized my mother’s system might be flawed—just a little. Now whenever I need help, I ask for it. I don’t feel guilty (well, I try not to!). I don’t bang the cabinet doors. I don’t fuss and fume. I simply open my mouth and say the words, “I need help, please!” Trust me, all of you “System” users, it really works!
(Disclaimer: I am in no way blaming my mother for the faultiness of her system. She did what she believed was best. I simply want to reverse the chain!)