June 16, 2011Sitting on my Shoulder
Dear Dr. Laura,
Posted by Staff at 12:00 AM
Last weekend I did something I should have done years ago, but had felt too afraid and intimidated to do. I finally got up my nerve after years of listening to you and coming to the realization my lack of action was hurting my husband deeply.
What did I do? I figuratively put myself between my father and my husband, both very strong MEN, but who have never gotten along together. Over the years my father made sure to let my husband know what he thought was wrong with him (personal preference stuff, nothing immoral, amoral, or evil), in his usual aggressive manner. In deference to me, my husband just let it go and endured the chastising, even though it bothered him a lot. Over the years I have been the kind of weenie you hate... wanting to keep the peace and not make waves with my father who had been a strict disciplinarian and a very controlling father of five. I am the oldest which probably explains a lot. (I could fill a book on the psychology of both men, my relationships with them both, and they with each other, but will not bore you!)
The last straw for me was this past Mother's Day when my father ambushed my husband before he even entered the house to let him know about his most recent "infractions". Something snapped in me, and I knew it was time for me to speak up. It took a few weeks to have the right opportunity but last Saturday I finally let him know his behavior was not acceptable any more, it had to stop right now, and I was now between the two of them. Surprisingly, the backlash I always expected never happened and he agreed and gave up with barely a whimper. (Was he waiting for this all these years? I don't know.)
The best side effect, even better than my feeling of liberation, was the effect this had on my husband. The underlying current of resentment he had been feeling disappeared and although he would have swum through shark infested waters all these years for me, since last Saturday he would now do it with joy and happiness. His demeanor to me has turned 180 degrees giving me all the insight I need into how my inaction has hurt him all these years. By not standing up to my father, I realize now I was condoning his opinions in my husband's eyes and heart. I only hope in the next 40 years I can make up for the last 40.
Thank you Dr. Laura, not only for giving me the insights I needed but also for the morale support you were unwittingly giving me. Whenever I felt my resolution waver as I contemplated the encounter with my father for those 3 weeks, I told myself you would be there with me in spirit. You were giving me the courage to stand up for my husband and for myself and to do the right thing.
(please no names)
FYI, my husband and I met as teenagers and have been married 38+ years.