I Don’t Own My Wife

Dear Paula,

I realized something today that knocked me off my feet. I thought it was my job to manage our relationship. I thought I had to tell you what you can and can’t do. I thought it was my job to be the boss.

As of today, I’m stepping down from the role of being the boss, and yes I understand how arrogant and ridiculous that sounds. I’ve had so many insights about romantic relationships in the last few years, but this one hit me today like a ton of bricks, and before I share it, I’ll warn you that it may sound stupid.

You are not my car.

Clearly, I’m the boss of my car. I own it. I’m responsible for it’s maintenance, for keeping it clean and for it running properly. I decide where it goes, and it works to benefit me. I paid for it, and one day I’ll sell it.

In so many ways I hate to admit, I treat you like my car. What’s even harder to admit, is in this moment that’s all I know how to do. I do it because it’s comfortable. It’s easier to believe that I control you, as deluded as that actually is. If I stopped trying to control you I would have to face all my insecurities, fears and hidden desires about our relationship, and that’s a scary prospect.

So instead I limit you, and justify that by pointing to the default standards of how a wife or girlfriend should be; the standards that we collectively use to ignore the fact that we are holding other people hostage in relationships (or at least trying to).

I don’t want to look back on my life and see that you lived within the limits of my comfort zone.

Now here’s the real kicker… remember how I stepped down from trying to be the boss? I realized that for this to work I need to get a new job, and it’s a job I’ve been consistently avoiding my whole life.

Internal Affairs

At Internal Affairs I will have to become ruthlessly responsible for my own business, and what happens inside my world. I’ll investigate every complaint, every story and every rumor that tries to undermine our relationship. It’s a big job, so I’ll need your help.

I want this job to create partnership, instead of hierarchy. When something upsets me, instead of retreating to my office to change policy, I’ll search within my own company for what caused it, and then call it out.

It’s no surprise that people who work in internal affairs aren’t popular, and I won’t expect to be once I take this job. I expect to run into my ego at the water cooler and for him to try to thoroughly embarrass me in front of the company.

The Benefits

As I leave my job as the boss and start with internal affairs, I’m seeing that my benefits will change. Here’s a projected breakdown.

Benefits of the Boss
Being Right
Power Over People
Separation from Company

Parking Spot
Dying with Lots of Money
Benefits of Internal Affairs
Self-Realization
Inner Peace
Integration in company
Sleeping at Night

Dying Empty

Before I get too excited about the benefits of being in internal affairs I can’t forget about the requirements, and there’s one big one:

Courage.

It takes courage, and lots of it. In fact, showing up to work every day will be a challenge, and that challenge will never end.

My First Day at Work

Now when I get upset, I have two choices. I can try and change you, or I can go inside and share why I’m upset by revealing myself vulnerably.

After I realized this it became painfully obvious how often I have tried and be your boss. Even something as subtle as saying to you “you should be on time” was me trying to exert power over you. When I tried to change you to make myself more comfortable I was actually manipulating you, and that’s why I’m stopping.

I want to be the one who protects your freedom, instead of trying to stand in the way of it.

That’s something worthy of a full time job.

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This is part 2 of a 4-part collection entitled The Roller Coaster Ride of Marriage

How do you stop yourself from loving people fully?
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