I was dying inside… and I couldn’t see it, no one could
For a long time, I believed I had to be a submissive wife; a silent, supporting partner on the sidelines to avoid conflict and keep my husband and home happy. But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I realized doing this came with a cost; I had lost my voice. I amassed so much frustration from shying away from arguments and conflict that I couldn’t and didn’t want to talk anymore. We all avoid conflict because we think it makes things better, when in actuality it only makes things worse. My silence made me so exasperated, and so numb inside that it was only a matter of time before something triggered the explosion.
That explosion came rather quickly, and from the most unexpected of moments. Emmitt and I were sitting in one of our regular spiritual counseling sessions, and as we normally do, we were voicing the little things that frustrated us in our marriage. My husband was concern with waste because I ran the gas fireplaces too much, even when no one was in the room, causing the bill to go up. Clearly, this was a valid concern, but in that moment, I was shocked. The fireplaces?! Really?! So many feelings of pent up frustration and anger swelled within me; at a time where I felt so lost, all he could think of were the fireplaces and the gas bill?! All I wanted was a cozy, lit fireplace in the winter, was that so much to ask? It was that moment that ended my silence. I totally lost it. I couldn’t believe just how clueless he was to the way I was feeling. I went from 0 to 100 immediately, and everything I’d buried deep down for so long, slipped through my fingertips and I exploded in a manner very much unlike the Pat I’d always known. I’ll never forget the look on Emmitt’s face; it was as if he was hit the back field by the biggest and meanest linebacker in the NFL. But that’s what happens when you’d don’t share your heart, thoughts, concerns and needs. It was so unexpected, I even scared myself!
I have long believed in being a wife submitted to my husband. Many times, I found myself being a silent and supportive wife on the sidelines to keep my husband and home happy.
It was in that moment that I realized just how lost I felt, and how much of myself I had given away in attempts to be the perfect everything to everyone. Reflecting on my conversations with others, I’ve realized that a lot of women come to feel this way after years of marriage and motherhood. We constantly attempt to be there for everyone, our husbands, our children, our friends and our external family that we lose the ability to also be there for ourselves. We get so caught up in being selfless that we forget to be a little selfish sometimes, and say no when necessary.
You have to be true to who you are and stay in tune with that. You must make that time for yourself, and start saying no to the things that are not essential to you. A quote from Bishop T.D. Jakes that really resonates with me to this day is, “What constitutes someone else’s emergency doesn’t always constitute yours,” and it is this advice that I’ve integrated into my everyday life.
Saying no is very hard at first, but after a few times it’s very freeing. I’ve stopped serving on so many boards and committees, and have taught my children to be a little more responsible. I’m not always going to be able to run down to meet them when they forget their uniform, their juice box or to get their permission slip signed. It’s hard to say no to your children, but when it comes to those little things that they constitute as an emergency, it’s essential to teach them to be a little more independent.
The moment I started making myself a priority, was the beginning of my “second chance.”
For those women out there who feel the same way, it can be yours too.
We have to ensure that our voice is heard at all times, in our marriages, our households and in business. We have to maintain open lines of communication with our husbands, so that we can both come away with real expectations to build a foundation to keep growing in love and happiness.
Through my journey I’ve discovered some mantras to live by;
We cannot afford to be voiceless. Expressing oneself is the key to a healthy marriage and a healthy relationship.
It is always healthy to seek outside guidance, whether it comes in the form of therapy or free counseling that many churches offer.
Make appointments with yourself. I call these “Treasure You” moments, where you schedule time in your calendar to do something just for you.
Set expectations in your relationship and revisit them every now and again to make sure you’re both on the same page.
Conflict is not a kiss of death for a relationship. Having a difficult conversation can be beneficial to the both of you, especially if it’s something that will only hurt you over time.
My husband and I have very different viewpoints, like most couples, but by having regular discussions and airing our frustrations with each other in a healthy manner, we’ve realized that we both have the same intention; to stay together and keep building our love for each other. We’ve maintained an open dialogue, so we both can look at each other and say “What do you need from me?” “How can I help you?” and that has made our relationship and love stronger than ever.
We all tend to fear the unknown and the drawbacks that come with disagreements and fights, but as long as you both establish that you’re on the same path and in this together, there isn’t anything that your relationship can’t survive.
For me, beginning to take the steps to be more communicative and open with people in my life has made me a better mother, partner, friend and person. It has given me this second chance, and I have every belief that it can do the same for you.