A counselor once told us, “Try to get up out of your chairs.” We gave each other and him puzzled looks. “Excuse me? What?”
“Try to get up, but don’t get up. Just try to.”
I said, “Well, that’s stupid. We’d just wear ourselves out, being halfway up out of the chair.”
“Exactly. So don’t ever ‘try’ to do something again. Just do it.”
For decades now, I’ve been in the habit of waiting around for the guy to do something. Yeah, yeah, it’s the way I was raised. It’s the example I saw forever. There’s a lovely word for it:
It wastes so much time.
It leads to anger (at the person you’re waiting on, and at yourself for waiting on someone who is probably never going to change, but wait, there’s a chance he might…).
There is also a hidden benefit to codependency, to dealing with passive aggression. Do what? There can’t possibly be any benefit to waiting around for someone to get off his tail and do something. Can there be?
Sure, there can be. It’s a dark, nasty truth none of us wants to face when we’re the one doing the codependent waiting. If we’re pacing back and forth, wringing our hands, waiting and begging and pleading for our spouse to do something… If we’re motivating and cheerleading and manipulating, and putting all our energy into pushing and trying to get the person to do the right thing… That keeps us pretty busy, doesn’t it? It takes up a lot of our time, right? It also takes all of our energy.
Why put up with passive aggression?
It’s a sneaky way for our subconscious brains to keep us from doing things on our own. It helps us avoid taking risks, and putting ourselves and our ideas out there. It keeps us safe from failing, too.
Because, as you probably know, we’ve been taught from birth that women shouldn’t do things on their own. We should be dependent. We should each ask our husband’s permission first. Especially if we were raised to be Christians, we’ve been told those kinds of things.
That kind of garbage has kept us in bondage for far too long. It is scripture that has been twisted and used to abuse us, like so much of it is, and has been for generations.
He will never change
Say it out loud. Repeat it until you come to accept it. That might be 10 times; it might be 100. It might lead you through a trail of emotions – anger, defeat, and despair, for instance, before you get to acceptance. Just because you accept it, that doesn’t mean you like it. You don’t even have to be okay with it. It is wrong that he’s being a lazy butt. It is wrong that he’s expecting you to do more than what’s fair. But, it is what it is. He’s never going to change.
I had an unpleasant little talk with myself, and it went something like this:
He is never going to change. He is never going to make a move. He doesn’t care. He has everything exactly the way he wants it. If you want something done, you are going to have to do it yourself. Are you going to grow up and do what needs to be done?”
Shocked silence from myself.
Yes, I said, “Grow up.”
Either grow up and start doing things on your own, or shut up and let the passive-aggressive person control your life.
Do it myself
So apparently I decided to start doing things on my own. I had a series of conversations with the Deacon, so I knew I had the church’s go-ahead on this. And then I found myself just doing things. Usually something little, but it was something that, before, I would have waited on him for days or weeks, getting plenty frustrated, before getting all exasperated and doing it myself. I stopped wasting that time, and the energy getting frustrated. I just did it.
Things started getting done! So I started doing more things.
Is it fair? Of course not. So what?
Does this change the fact that he’s still not doing anything? No.
Did it inspire him to follow my example and start doing things, too? Only in the movies.
Do I care? Not anymore. Why not? Because I took my power back. I wouldn’t trade this new feeling for the old one, ever again.
One day recently, I got several things done that had been he had been promising me he’d do for MONTHS. I just got in the car and went and did them, one right after another. And man, did I ever feel GREAT! It’s like the opening line of a techno dance song (by SNAP).
The huge smile on my face at the end of that day put a big smile on the Deacon’s face, too. He approved. I enjoy those smiles and his approval.
So that, ladies and gentlemen, is how I went from trying to doing. It’s still a journey. I didn’t suddenly become 100% independent overnight, and won’t–we are to be interdependent, after all. But when something needs to be done that we’ve discussed, and he’s not making any moves to do it, I don’t sit around tugging on him anymore. I know how to drive and use the phone and handle some cool power tools all by myself. I can get things done on my own.